Posts Tagged ‘tech’
We’ve shrieked hysterically about Google’s smart thermostat – Nest – before, likening it to sci-fi horror where remote companies watch your every move, before ultimately singing ‘Daisy Daisy’ while trying to oversee your untimely death.
We might be overdoing it a bit. However, what doesn’t help, is that Nest has a camera that watches you in your home, and a team at ABI Research found that, even when the camera is “off,” it still draws around the same amount of info it does, as when it is fully powered.
Basically, you might think you’ve turned it off, but you haven’t. Kill it with fire. Or throw some undercrackers over it.
A spokesperson for Nest Labs told the BBC: “When Nest Cam is turned off from the user interface (UI), it does not fully power down, as we expect the camera to be turned on again at any point in time.” So, standby mode then. Either way though, this is an ‘always on’ camera in your house, and this is Google (or Alphabet if you prefer) we’re talking about here. A company that not only wants to watch you at home, but also wants to store your DNA through the chilling 23ANDMe wing.
The Nest spokesperson continued: “When Nest Cam is turned off, it completely stops transmitting video to the cloud, meaning it no longer observes its surroundings.” While that may do for some, there’s going to be concerns over Google storing hours of footage of you at home in their cloud. Imagine the outpouring of hate that’ll happen if their servers get hacked.
TripAdvisor and Yelp found themselves being pushed down Google’s search results, and it was an accident, honest guv. Google has that it was a bug that was responsible for this, and now, they’re trying to fix it, now that people have noticed.
Executives from Yelp and TripAdvisor complained on Twitter, that when searching for things, Google’s own reviews were given priority, even when the search included the name of their own companies. You can see their tweets about it, here.
“The issues cited were caused by a recent code push, which we’re working quickly to fix,” a Google spokeswoman told Recode.
Of course, Google have been pushing their own reviews of locations recently, offering prizes to everyone if they do theirs on Google Maps, in a bid to grab some traffic from the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp.
This isn’t particularly good timing for Google, as they’re being investigated by the European Union over accusations of showing favouritism to their own apps and services, over others. It is good timing for Yelp though, who have been arguing with authorities, that something needs to be done about Google in this respect.
Over summer, Yelp put out a document that accused Google of manipulating searches to promote themselves. They said: “The easy and widely disseminated argument that Google’s universal search always serves users and merchants is demonstrably false. Instead, in the largest category of search (local intent-based), Google appears to be strategically deploying universal search in a way that degrades the product so as to slow and exclude challengers to its dominant search paradigm.”
Here’s you, using your stupid digits to press a series of things on a phone or whatever. You could just thud your fist in the general direction, and basically get someone to throw the pizza into your mouth for you. Sort of.
The Limited Edition Easy Order is a literal button, which syncs with your mobile over Bluetooth and places an order for your favourite pizza with your local Domino’s outlet. Once pressed, it glows red and you’ll know that a pizza is coming your lazy way.
If you want one, Domino’s are holding a competition to some ‘superfans’, with the details being released in December. Of course, the grease vendors will offer a virtual version of the button on their app and website, if you want in… but that seems a little pointless.
Here is what the button looks like. You can almost see it gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, after being used twice, can’t you?
Women – do you find it hard to make your mind up? Do you wonder where men get all their music from? Do you wish someone could help you and that little brain of yours? You might be thinking “Shut up, you patronising swine – I can cope perfectly well without you patting me on the head, thank you very much! Cheeky shit.”
This chat is all thanks to Jimmy Iovine, who works for Apple since they bought Beats Music, who was on television being asked about streaming music. He said: “Streaming’s a technology… what this is is a music streaming service. What is does is… sort of gives you 30 million songs, and it serves them up to you and makes it easy to find music.”
“So I always knew that women find it very difficult at times – some women – to find music. And this helps makes it easier with playlists, curated by real people. They’re not made by algorithms alone – they’re made by algorithms but with a human touch.”
There’s a new advert, aimed at women, and Iovine was asked about his concept for it: “I just thought of a problem: girls are sitting around talking about boys, right? Or complaining about boys! When they’re heartbroken or whatever… they need music for that, right? It’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has, you know, the right list… or knows a DJ.”
Of course, in the scheme of things, Iovine’s comments are fantastically unimportant, but really, you’d think that somewhere in his brain, he’d perhaps consider that women are every bit as nerdy about music as men are. Likewise, there’s men and women who couldn’t give two hoots about music at all.
Either way, this is the latest bad press that Apple have got in the past 12 months – something they can’t seem to avoid lately. They’ve been sued over the WiFi Assistant, had issues with everything crashing after an update, confessed that some of their phones are worse than others, annoyed loads of people with Apple Music’s auto-renewal, and of course, made a man go on a hilarious rant. The response from Apple customers on social media has been, shall we say, on the venomous side.
He’s since apologised about his remarks, but Apple need to get shipshape and, while they’re at it, stop executive patronising their customers.
Sky are looking at taking on Netflix, Apple and Amazon, as they release a new set-top box and “best of the web” streaming service called SkyQ. The broadcaster reckon this is biggest product innovation since the Sky+ box. Big talk.
The service will kick off next year, and will let you watch shows on up to five different screens and, it’ll also have five times the amount of storage capacity than their current box. And what’s this ‘best of the web’ nonsense about? Well, you can get YouTube, Vevo, Facebook and stuff from Condé Nast (who are the publishers behind Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired).
In addition to all that, this new thing will also have new remote control with a touchpad, which sounds pretty fancy. It’ll allow you to swipe and scroll, just like the Apple TV thing and you’ll be able save recordings from your set-top box onto a tablet, so you’ll be able to watch them anywhere you like.
“Think of Sky Q as something that is beyond a box,” said Stephen van Rooyen, from Sky. “It is an eco-system of products. The important thing is it allows you to consume programmes in and out of the home across more screens than ever before. It is about more than just TV content, we are bringing the best of the web to the big screen.”
There’s no news on price as yet, you’ll be finding that out in early 2016.
There’s been some murmurs of discontent among the gaming community, concerning the source of Green Man Gaming’s game keys. They’ve been selling discounts on Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which have seen some people believing that they’re not getting their keys directly from Activision.
A number of people have said on Reddit and social media, that they’ve had issues with Black Ops 3 keys that they purchased from GMG. On Reddit, some mods were told by Activision and Ubisoft, that Green Man Gaming aren’t in fact an authorised seller of theirs.
So what’s the craic? Well, Green Man Gaming chief executive Paul Sulyok told Gamespot: ”Let’s be clear here; there is a difference between being an authorised retailer for some titles, and being a retailer selling keys that have been sourced responsibly through authorised third parties with revenue going back to the publisher.”
“Where possible, we work directly with publishers and distributors to make sure customers have the very best experience with us… Whenever things outside of our control have happened, we have instantly and fairly tried to make it right.”
It is worth pointing out that EA, ArenaNET, Bethesda and Devolver Digital have all said that Green Man Gaming are an authorised seller, so it doesn’t look like there’s anything fishy going on.
So there you go gamers – you can take off your tinfoil hats for the day.
Another story about a mobile battery that charges up really quickly, posing the question – is anyone going to actually release any of these batteries to the public, instead of just dangling them in front of everyone?
Anyway, this mobile phone battery can charge to 50% in a mere five minutes, and has been produced by Huawei. The lithium-ion cell is similar in size and capacity to the batteries normally fitted in smartphones. However, this one charges up ten times faster.
How does it do it? Well, Huawei say that atoms of graphite bonded to the battery’s anode allow it to charge more quickly, without affecting the amount of energy it can store. Marvellous. Release it already.
They showed it off at an event in Japan, and they say that they’ve got another battery that can charge up to 68% in two minutes.
A blog on a Huawei fan site (yes, that’s a thing) said: “Soon, we will all be able to charge our batteries to full power in the time it takes to grab a coffee.”
You can see a demonstration of the battery here.
David Cameron wants every home and business in the UK to have access to a fast broadband connection within the next five years. Of course, his government are planning on hoarding all your correspondence too, but they don’t want that to put you off.
The Government wants to give the public a legal right to an “affordable” connection, making an internet connection a basic living service, like electricity, water, or getting drunk. They want to create a universal service obligation, which will provide a regulatory “safety net” for everyone to ensure they have access.
Cameron said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.”
“We’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”
So what does ‘fast’ mean? Well, they would like to see everyone being able to have a connection with a speed of at least 10 Megabits per second, no matter where they live in the country, and no matter how remote their house is.
Tired of actually replying to people’s emails? Are they always bothering you and making you answer them about all manner of inane pish? Well, Google want to help, as they’ve created a bit of software that will do the work for you.
Thanks to an updated version of the Inbox app, it’ll read your emails for you (Google are already doing that though, right, satire fans?) and then give you some suggested replies to choose from.
In a blog, Gmail software engineer Balint Miklos said that the feature “uses machine learning to recognize emails that need responses and to generate the natural language responses on the fly.” Ultimately, the hope to have enough good and appropriate replies, that you can reply to most emails by clicking a couple of buttons. The more you use it, the more it’ll learn your patterns.
Obviously, there’s similar things in the world like this already, but Google’s offering seems a bit more complex than the rest. Complex how? Well, get this – Google engineers worked on a ‘neural network’, which is a huge network of machines that are meant to mimic the human brain. Imagine that. Google reading all your emails and then processing them through machines that copy your brain. Sci-fi writers will be doing somersaults at the news.
Google pre-empted some privacy concerns, but don’t exactly allay them: “In developing Smart Reply we adhered to the same rigorous user privacy standards we’ve always held – in other words, no humans reading your email.”
We can’t wait for someone to reply to a bosses’ email by pressing the wrong button and saying “I love you” after they’ve been told they have to sack a load of staff.
Are spoilers making your life a misery? Do you have friends who are complete blabbermouths and tell you the ending of everything, like that time someone told you that the kid in Sixth Sense was actually Darth Vader, and he could see Keyser Söze, when no-one else could?
Well, there’s hope for you yet. You can get a Chrome extension called Spoiler Alert, which will try and protect you from your stupid friends who let their mouths run away with themselves when they’re excited about a TV show or film.
Or course, it won’t fix those annoying arses who watch Game of Thrones, who tweet ‘OMG #GoT’ every time they watch a bloody episode of it.
First off, you have to add the extension to Chrome – do that here. Once you’ve sorted all that out, and registered and all that, you then go to ‘Find Alerts’. From there, you can toggle the options of the shows and films you don’t want to hear about.
You can use the extension’s drop-down menu, or add your own and all that jazz. From there, you’ll be protected from the people who are determined to spoil your fun when you’re watching shows and films. It’ll stop you from seeing Trending Topics on social media too, which often gives the game away.
Of course, you could just log out of your social media account and get your finger out when it comes to a new episode being aired. That’s the easiest way around the problem.
For a slightly longer answer, May thinks that some websites are ‘safe havens’ for criminals, and now she wants to see new laws which give authorities the chance to access everyone’s information. It looks like she’ll want to get rid of encryption, and that all your internet history would be recorded, so authorities can look at it whenever they want, without having to get permission from anyone. They want to keep everything you do online, on record, for a year.
They also want to be able to see who you’ve texted and emailed too. If your messages are encrypted, the company keeping your messages private, must hand over data to authorities if asked.
With the hacks and leaks that have been doing the rounds lately, there’s just concern about anyone holding all this private information on everyone with an internet connection.
The draft bill underlines a want for powers for the bulk collection of large volumes of communications and other personal data by MI5, GCHQ, MI6, and for the introduction of “equipment interference powers”. This all means that computers and phones can be hacked whenever they want, in the name of national security.
Of course, the stupid thing here, is that actual criminals won’t be arranging serious crimes on Facebook Messenger or anything like that, so it looks like they just want to snoop on everyone else, which is going to worry many. It won’t worry the kind of people who say “well I’ve done nothing wrong, so they can look through all my stuff if they want”, but you can’t do anything about those people.
The Home Office has published the Investigatory Powers Bill in the House of Commons, which means it’ll be examined both Houses of Parliament. There’ll be a final vote on the whole thing at some point in 2016. We suspect there’s be some legal action thrown at the government before then.
How To Stay Anonymous Online
If you want to browse the internet anonymously, the first place to start is with the free Tor Browser. We won’t bore you with the ins-and-outs of the whole thing, but basically, it puts your web traffic through Tor’s network, and makes it anonymous and encrypts the shit out of it. It isn’t wholly anonymous, but it isn’t far off.
You can send emails through web services in Tor Browser too, but you’d need an email account that doesn’t reveal any personal information about you. One to look at is Guerrilla Mail.
As for instant messaging, there’s Pidgin, Wickr, and Tor who have just released their own. You know how to work a phone or search engine, so get on those. As for your phone itself, there’s an app called Orbot that runs Tor on Android.
If you want to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network), then click here for a VPN how to guide. There’s loads of tutorials online, if you want to vanish from the eyes of the government.
Have you been having a nice time using Office 365, and hammering the unlimited OneDrive storage? Well, that’s all about to change as Microsoft have decided enough’s enough, and are limiting the amount of storage you can have.
Why? Apparently, some people have been abusing the service.
So, in a blog, Microsoft said that some Office 365 users had been taking the piss with the unlimited space, and had backed up “numerous PCs” and/or “entire movie collections and DVR recordings”. Some people alone, have exceeded 75TB.
Unlimited usage, fair usage… these are all boring arguments that can be had elsewhere – the bottom line is that Microsoft aren’t happy about it, and they want to save their groaning servers from the few who have been working them harder than most.
Microsoft added: “Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users.”
So now, you won’t get unlimited storage for Office 365 Home, Personal or University users – now, you’ll get 1TB of storage on OneDrive. If you’ve got more than that stored on your OneDrive account, you’ll be able to keep the increased storage limit for at least a year, giving you time to find an alternative.
Microsoft are also changing the amount you can store with them for free – the free storage limit on OneDrive is being taken from 15GB to 5GB. That’s for new customers, and existing ones.
Samsung are bringing out a new Galaxy tablet and it has a whopping 18.4in screen. That’s bloody massive. Ace for watching films on, we guess. Not so great for, y’know, being discrete when you’re looking at dirty pictures in a coffee shop. It is called the Galaxy View.
Anyway, there’s a host of new things that may interest you (they might not, but then, that’s your own stupid fault for continuing to read this particular piece).
For a start, there’s no home button on this thing, which is not like Samsung. There’s a useful kickstand on it, which folds into the back in a rather nifty way. It also has its own carry handle, so you can waddle around with it like a fancy Dan.
The View has a full HD front-facing lens, for the selfie-takers among you and… well… you get the idea. The whole point of this particular tablet is that it is bloody massive.
If you’re interesting in the spec and all that, click here.
The owners of mucky website RedTube must be popping bottles today, as YouTube has announced a subscription service called YouTube Red. Just think of all those people tapping RedTube into their browsers because they’ve forgotten what the new YouTube service is called.
Anyway, YouTube has racked up billions of people as an audience, thanks to the free, ad-supported service. Now, it would like you to pay for it. Of course, for a lot of people, the ad-service is just fine and you’ll be sticking with that thankyouverymuch. However, there’s a lot of kids out there who do nothing but watch YouTube vids – be it from subscribing to wildly popular vloggers or people who do make-up tutorials and such.
Obviously, old people don’t understand this at all and will be muttering under their breath about how this is all nonsense. That’d be the same old people who made Noel Edmonds famous, taking a higher ground there.
Some famous YouTubers will be taking their shows behind the paywall, only available on the new YouTube Red subscription service. It’ll launch late this month in America and will cost $9.99 per month. You can imagine that there’ll be the usual dollar=pound conversion rate, where Brits will have to cough-up £9.99 every month.
If you subscribe to this tier, you’ll be able to watch all YouTube videos with no adverts, and you’ll be able to download them to your mobile and watch them offline. As well as that, you’ll also get Google Play Music thrown in too.
“We believe in the advertising business. 99.9% of the content on YouTube will be free, as it always has been” says chief business officer Robert Kyncl. “The world that all of our advertising partners are used to remains alive and well and [watch time] continues to grow at an astonishing 60% year over year. There is nothing we are taking away from there, merely adding onto it.”
The iMakers have recently patented an ‘iRing’, which could take photographs, send messages and show you the time. It all sounds a bit like Russian spies, taking photos with a ring, doesn’t it? Again, we’re not talking about your hole. Stop it now.
Apple’s device would allow you to dictate notes into it, and would have a tiny little touchscreen. Like most modern devices, it’ll track your heart-rate and all that, with biometric sensors.
The patent says: “The use of touch-sensitive surfaces as input devices for computers and other devices has increased significantly in recent years. A user controls an external electronic device with a finger ring-mounted touchscreen that includes a computer processor, wireless transceiver, and rechargeable power source.”
“The ring is worn on a first finger and receives an input from a second finger.”
So there you have it. Of course, Apple aren’t the first on all of this - Mota have already shown off their ring at a conference last year. And yes, you can watch a video all about it.