Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Google wants to give the world free internet

June 26th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google wants to give the world free internetGoogle and Facebook are constantly trolling each other, and with Zuckerberg trying to give the developing world the internet (so they can keep tabs on absolutely everyone, ever), Google want to give the world free internet too (so they can keep tabs on absolutely everyone, ever).

The internet behemoth is rolling out free wifi in New York as part of a trial, which Google hopes will end up spanning the entire planet. They’ve set up a branch of their company to deal with this called ‘Sidewalk Labs’, are they’re hoping that they can create a signal that everyone can use, so you don’t have to rely on ropey connections in shops.

In New York, they’ve hit on a decent idea – they’re turning a load (10,000 in fact) of old phone booths into ‘wifi pylons’, which of course, will be ad-supported.

As well as that, the converted booths will provide a point where you can charge up your mobile phone (you have to assume it’ll have adapters that only work for Android phones, as Google inevitably won’t want to help out Apple at all). The old phone boxes will also have a touch screen so you can get info about the city and transport, and you’ll be able to make free domestic calls too.

These spots will be appearing in Autumn, and if they are deemed a success, Google will start rolling them out in other places.

Gmail: now you can cancel sent emails

June 25th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

gmail logo stylized 300x300 Gmail: now you can cancel sent emailsWhen Google aren’t basically tapping your laptop like spies, they’re doing other, less worrying things. They are of course launching a music streaming service just to annoy Apple, and they’ve also come up with a thing which could spare your blushes if you’ve just sent a disastrous email.

Gmail has launched an “undo send” option, which is perfect if you’ve just absent mindedly put thirty kisses on the end of a message to your boss, or you’ve accidentally sent a photo of your bare arse to the wrong person.

After years of experimenting with the feature, everyone will now be able to choose an option of cancellation of up to 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds. Perfect for those idiots who don’t know the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all’.

If you go into your Settings, you’ll see the new feature there, which is disabled by default. If this sounds like your bag, then go switch it on right now.

Once you do that, with every email sent, you’ll get the thin yellow notification bar at the top of your screen, and it is there you’ll be able to cancel your error laden message’s delivery.

Sadly, this tool only works on desktop, so won’t be any use to you if you send all your messages via the mobile or tablet app.

Tidal boss quits after 3 months

June 24th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Tidal Tidal boss quits after 3 monthsWhen Tidal launched, the assembled musicians stood around Jay Z, nodding gravely about how they were collectively going to save the music industry. In fact, the way they were going on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were going to save the world.

Well, everyone didn’t take too quickly to the service, preferring to stay with Spotify or indeed, waiting for Apple to get their thing going. It was seen as an immediate flop.

And now, a mere 3 months into the job, the chief executive of the service has quit. Peter Tonstad took on the gig after Tidal sacked previous honcho Andy Chen. At the time Tidal said Tonstad “has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo”.

At the moment, Tidal has around 800,000 subscribers. If you compare that to Spotify’s 20 million, you can see what a difficult job they’ve got on their hands. When Apple get going, the competition will be much, much tougher.

In a statement Tidal said: “We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO and wish him the best for the future. Tidal will be transitioning to a permanent CEO as part of our strategic plan to create a leading platform, and current executives in New York and Oslo will continue to lead our rapidly developing innovation and content initiatives until our new CEO is in place.”

Should they just hang up their headphones already?

google Google launch music streaming service (but might be spying on you)Google art taking shots at Apple by launching a free version of its music streaming service Play Music. Of course, Google Play Music as a subscription service is already a thing, but the internet behemoth has decided to take on Apple’s music service (and of course, Spotify’s).

This free version is going to be made up of curated playlists, which have been designed for different times of the day, which sounds a bit rubbish. Initially, this service is only available in the States and will have adverts like Spotify’s freemium service.

With Apple set to launch their music service on 30th June, they’re no doubt going to be annoyed by this.

In a blog post, Google product manager Elias Roman said: “Even if you’re not already a Google Play Music subscriber, we’ve got you covered. Google Play Music now has a free, ad-supported version in the US, giving you a new way to find just the right music – and giving artists another way to earn revenue.”

“The new free, ad-supported version of Google Play Music is launching first in the US. It’s available on the web today, and is rolling out this week to Android and iOS.”

However, this won’t cover up the fact that a load of people are losing their baps about Google spying on everyone. Open-source developers noticed that Chromium (that’s the open-source version of Chrome) had been installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.

Now, this code has been put in, so that people can talk to their computers via OK Google thingummy, which is all well and good, but the kicker here, is that the listening technology was activated without anyone’s permission. That, obviously, isn’t cricket.

“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself –  had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room”, said Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party founder. “Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by… an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions”.

Google say that this isn’t activated “unless you opt in to hotwording”, but developers aren’t having that. Developer Ofer Zelig says: “While I was working I thought ‘I’m noticing that an LED goes on and off, on the corner of my eyesight [webcam]‘. And after a few times when it just seemed weird, I sat to watch for it and saw it happening. Every few seconds or so”.

So there you go – you can have free music, but Google might end up listening to you caterwauling along to it as well.

TalkTalk 300x180 TalkTalk gets rid of separate line rental for ultrafast broadbandTalkTalk has decided to scrap line rental for their own broadband network in York. This, they say, is offering an ultrafast connection at a “all-in” price.

They reckon that this will give York’s dwellers with broadband that is (more than) 12 times faster than the top speed on BT’s network for £21.70 with no extra fees. Not only that, they say that it will charge no more for ultrafast broadband than they charges for standard broadband in other bits of the county.

With line rental going up by roughly 60% since 2008, this looks like a decent move by TalkTalk. However, it is only any use to you if you live in York. And not all of York, as only certain areas will get this deal.

The reason it isn’t being offered around the country is, according to TalkTalk, BT’s fault. TalkTalk relies on wholesale access to the BT network, and if they start offering this to everyone, they’ll be penalised by comparison websites.

The reason that this isn’t applicable to some York residents, is that the operator is building their own all-fibre-optic network in the city, in partnership with Sky.

TalkTalk say that this network will offer speeds of one gigabit per second, and BT’s network has a top speed of 76 megabits per second.

Lady Harding, big cheese at TalkTalk, said this is a milestone in TalkTalk efforts to win investor support for networks in other cities: “We are now starting to have very serious discussions with investors.”

What’s the skinny with Windows 10?

June 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Windows 300x300 Whats the skinny with Windows 10?We’re about a month away from Microsoft doling out Windows 10, and for the most part, they’re giving it away for free, which seems awfully nice of them.

That said, there’s always a fair amount of trepidation when there’s a new Windows knocking about, because some releases have been so very, very abysmal. This new one is going to be used across all Microsoft devices, so they need to get it right. That includes the Xbox, and no-one wants to make gamers mad because some of them have a lot of time on their hands and a unique ability to take things personally.

The new OS will not be like previous releases, as this will be one that you get regular updates for, so you’ll always have the latest system, for no additional cost.

The Start Menu is back, and it’ll have something like the live tiles from Windows 8. There’ll also be a new browser called Microsoft Edge, which will be integrated with Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana (imagine if that old Windows animated paper clip if it could talk and flirt with Clean Bandit on the telly).

In an attempt to get this working well from the off, Microsoft developed this with the ’Insider’ programme, which basically gave Windows fanboys the chance to give the company feedback before it was unleashed on the general public.

windows 10 500x312 Whats the skinny with Windows 10?

The Windows Insider had a huge amount of numbers mucking around with Windows 10, to spot bugs and provide reports on which bits of the new operating system were frustrating or made no sense (something they’ve not done too well on in recent years). 4.4 million people signed-up to get the chance to play with Windows 10 over the last 9 months. Mercifully, it was a mixture of techie sorts as well as people ordinary folk who use computers in an every day way.

Those who helped the testing of Windows 10 used a feedback app to offer their thoughts, which Microsoft have decided to keep in the version that gets released next month, so you can tell them what does and doesn’t work.

If you want in, have a look on your toolbar and you’ll see a little Windows logo – hit that and you’ll be able to bagsy your place in the queue to get Windows 10 for free.

Apple Music versus Musicians

June 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple Apple Music versus MusiciansThere’s been a bit of fuss and brow-furrowing about Apple’s new music streaming service, with Anton Newcombe calling the company ‘satanic’ during a rant about their strong-arm tactics with musicians, and as previously reported, were accused of bullying Taylor Swift.

A big grievance from musicians is that they were being asked to offer their music for free for Apple’s 3-month trial for their streaming service, and Taylor Swift – who of course took her music off Spotify (or her people did) – spoke out against it. She said that ”it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing”.

Swift said that it would hurt young artists trying to break into the music industry, and referred to the decision as “shocking” and “disappointing”.

“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation,” she wrote in a blog post entitled “To Apple, Love Taylor” on Tumblr.

She echoed what a lot of independent labels had said and now, Apple have said that they’re listening, and will pay royalties during the free trial period.

Apple executive Eddy Cue said that these criticisms from Taylor Swift highlighted what had already been said, and he tweeted: ”Apple will always make sure that artists are paid. AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”

In response, Swift tweeted: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.” She then pointed out that she wasn’t necessarily making a stand for herself, but rather, new bands who aren’t nearly as wealthy as her, who stood to go without getting paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays.

BBC to bring mind-powered TV remote

June 19th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

BBC iPlayer Radio logo BBC to bring mind powered TV remoteAre you one of those people who keeps losing your TV remote? Forever sitting on it because you never look down before parking your rear?

Never you mind. You will be able to use the power of your mind instead! Very useful, unless you’re prone to LOSING YOUR MIND, MAAAAAN.

This idea was hatched in partnership with studio This Place and the BBC, and they’ve actually called it ‘Mind Control TV’, which is brilliant. It is being toyed with for use with an experimental version of iPlayer. So, if you missed last week’s Flog It!, or want to catch up with Saturday Kitchen, you just plop on the mind control machine and get your brain on the go.

And now, for a long word.

The electroencephalography (EEG) brainwave-frazzling headset requires you to focus your mind, while a sensor on your forehead and another clipped to the ear gets to work. You’ve got two options too – you can choose ”concentration” or “meditation” as their brain-control controls, and then you can make things happen with the power of your brains!

Obviously, using a remote or clicking some buttons is much faster, but this could be incredibly useful for viewers who have a disability.

And of course, this is just an extension of voice controls that you get on things like the Xbox One, and you can control the iPlayer with little more than barking at it. This “Mind Control TV” is next level though. This is something you could do while people are sleeping next to you or whatever. The prototypes have been successful too.

“It was much easier for some than it was for others,” Cyrus Saihan, head of business development for the BBC’s Digital division, said. “But they all managed to get it to work.”

“The idea that being able to simply think about something and then magically make it happen has fascinated people for many years,” Saihan wrote. “So when we learnt that new technologies were now available in the market that allowed you to control electronic devices by measuring the brain’s electrical activity, we wanted to experiment.”

nest 300x270 Googles Nest gets a camera to watch your homeWe’ve referred to Google’s Nest like it is the realisation of the Ultrahouse 3000 that is voiced by Pierce Brosnan and tries to kill Homer Simpson.

Well, the latest news from the Nest Labs isn’t going to stop us from doing that, as they’ve announced the latest edition to their family of connected gizmos – the Nest Cam.

That’s right! If you want a robot home, you can now add a home-monitoring camera, complete with microphone, speaker, motion sensors and night-vision… one made by Google, and all their lovely privacy practices!

It’ll shoot video of your home in 1080p high-definition, with a wide-angle glass lens and three megapixel sensor, so it can capture all that scintillating footage of you sat on the sofa, scratching your can while watching dirty videos on your phone.

It’ll cost you £199 and you can upload 10-30 days worth of continuous video to the Nest Aware cloud service, which itself, will cost you around £10 or £30 a month, depending on your storage option. There’s also a new version of the Nest Protect device, which is a a fire, smoke and CO2 alarm.

Nest boss, Tony Fadell says: “At Nest, we always wanted to build more than a thermostat. Our vision was to create a thoughtful home, a home that takes care of itself and the people in it. Five years later, all the pieces are in place.”

‘A thoughtful home – a house that takes care of itself and the people in it’. This sounds like a strapline from  dystopian nightmare film where we all get devoured. Don’t even pretend it doesn’t. We’ll all be killed by humdrum machines and there’s nothing we can do about it, as Nest will probably tell the Google automated cars to drive us off cliffs for being insubordinate.

WE’RE DOOMED.

Behold the Samsung giant screen safety truck!

June 17th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Lorries can be a bit of a menace, thanks to the sheer bloody size of them. So, with that, Samsung have been tinkering with their large fleet of trucks, and they’re using very fancy technology to try and make them safer.

When you’re trying to pass a truck, if can be very difficult to tell if another vehicle is coming until you start your manoeuvre. That is, until you come into the back of a special Samsung lorry with magic screens on it.

We’ll let this video explain.

Samsung call this fleet ‘The Safety Truck’ and they have wireless cameras on the front bumper that stream images from the front of the truck to screens mounted on the back doors.

The cameras even have a night vision mode, so you can see it all in the dark, which is pretty nifty and a decent move on Samsung’s part. We’d like to see more trucks operating a system like this.

And, if you stick your mobile in front of it, and stick YouTube on, you get a free outdoor cinema when all the truckers are doing an overnighter in some job centre car park!

Who has the fastest tablet?

June 15th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 27 Who has the fastest tablet?Have you got a tablet? No, not the medicinal kind – the sort which you rest on the toilet and watch TV shows on while you have a bath. The kind that you bought, thinking it would transform your life, but you didn’t end up using very frequently.

Well, you might be wondering how fast yours is, compared to everyone else’s.

Thank goodness for Which!!! who have done some tests to find out which tablet is the fastest on the market. It seems the champion is Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.

If you though Apple would win, then you might be surprised to learn that there was a another device that was quicker than the iPad Mini 3 – the Tesco Hudl 2. Seeing as the Hudl is considerably cheaper than the iPad, that’s good news indeed, for some.

“Our tablet speed test is a great indication of how fast tablets can run when downloading apps or using multiple functions at once,” said Which!!! editor Richard Headland. “Nowadays we expect everything in a swipe or a click of the button, so understanding how quickly a tablet is able to process information is important to buyers”.

Here are the quickest tablets on the market, in order:

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 3 128GB i5
2. Apple iPad Air 2
3. Google Nexus 9
4. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 2014
5. Apple iPad Air 32GB wi-fi

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
7. Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5
8. Asus MEMO Pad 7 ME572C
9. Tesco Hudl 2
10. Apple iPad mini 3

Skype for Windows app gets Translator built-in

June 10th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

skype Skype for Windows app gets Translator built inYou may have heard about the Skype Translator app, which helps you to talk to people in a foreign language/troll people abroad – well, it will soon be bundled in with the Skype for Windows desktop app. This will happen by the end of this summer, according to Microsoft.

The app launched last year in the standalone service, available exclusively on Windows 8.1 devices. It seems that it has been received well and tested strongly.

If you don’t know about the feature, it lets you chat to people who speak a different language to you, be it through voice or text. As for the spoken element, Skype only supports English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin at the moment, but that will invariably grow in the coming months.

In text form, 50 languages are supported.

This is all an attempt to get more people using the service, and the more words are put into the system, the more it can accurately translate. So if you’ve got a thick Geordie accent or talk like you have a mouth full of marbles, start using it so the system becomes more sophisticated and useful for everyone.

In July, Apple Pay will very much be a thing, which means Apple-havers will be able to pay for things with their iPhones or iPad.

And Apple have been very thorough, with over 250,000 businesses signed-up with them, including Nando’s, Costa Coffee, M&S, Waitrose, the Post Office, Transport for London, Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s, Lidl, Wagamama, Boots and so many more places.

Look at all these things it’ll support.

CG unf7UcAAyUkA 500x280 Apple Pay is here, along with improved Siri and music streaming

Pretty much all the major UK banks are supporting the service, including RBS, NatWest, Amex, Halifax, MasterCard, Nationwide, HSBC, First Direct, Ulster Bank and Santander. It’ll work with nearly 70% of UK credit and debit cards by Autumn.

This is invariably going to be followed up by Apple’s new music streaming service, where they’ll try and take on Spotify.

Basically, if your Apple device has a fingerprint scanner, Pay will work. So that’s that. In other news, Apple have already revealed the new version of its OS, which has the annoying name of ‘El Capitan’.

Siri is also going to have a bunch of new (or, ‘like Google Now’) features which will make the speaking-assistant more predictive and all that jazz. It’ll try and predict what you want and when, so if you go for a run after work every Wednesday, it’ll learn your  behaviour and suggest playing music each week, at the same time.

Regarding all this, people are again using the deeply irritating phrase: “virtual concierge”.

As for the music streaming service, Apple are – as expected – taking on Spotify and everyone else.

Apple Music will launch in 100 countries later this month, and there’ll be an Android version too, which is big news. It’ll cost $9.99 a month, or $14.99 for a family plan. It’ll also have streaming radio shows, a thing called Connect which is like social media meets SoundCloud (so you can post your own music and that) and the whole thing will tie-up with Facebook and Twitter.

So there you have it. All go in Appleland.

Plusnet refunding broadband charges

June 8th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

 Plusnet refunding broadband chargesThe folks at Plusnet are refunding a proportion of broadband charges, with one BW reader getting themselves a cheque for £50!

PlusNet say: ”At PlusNet we believe in being honest, straight talking and doing right by our customers. So we’d like to hold up our hands and say we made a mistake.”

“In June 2014, our regulator made changes to the broadband market. This meant that the price we were charged for providing broadband in your area reduced. Our pricing policy means that we should have lowered the price we were charging you. So, to set this right, we’re refunding you the difference, plus interest…”

That’s decent of them, isn’t it?

It’d be worth you checking out whether or not you’re eligible or not. You can call their customer service team at 0800 432 0200, or use their live online support instead, which you can find here.

Bitterwallet Apple Event on September 1st 300x237 Apple to launch music streaming service today?Looks like Apple are unveiling their own music streaming service at the Worldwide Developer Conference this week – possibly today.

This is according to blabber mouth Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, so blorted the secret to guests at the Midem Music Industry Festival. He said, yesterday, that Apple’s announcement of the Beats-based service is “happening tomorrow”.

Of course, there’s no chat about prices or what features it’ll have, but Apple have a lot of money to throw around, so this should be of some concern to Spotify and Tidal. And of course, with so many people feeling some kind of brand-loyalty to Apple, there’s millions of people who might want to jump ship from another service, to theirs.

However, one thing that could make or break Apple’s music service, is whether or not it is open to everyone. One of Spotify’s successes is that it wasn’t restricted to one platform, meaning the Android users and Apple users could share playlists with one another. And artists won’t want to sign any exclusivity deals if it means they’re cutting out loads of listeners.

Imagine a band in the ’90s saying that their new album would only be playable through Sony stereos and no other – that’d be madness. Either way, Apple aren’t daft, so they’ll have something up their sleeves to get their fans excited – users of torrents, you can carry on ignoring absolutely everything relating to the above.