Posts Tagged ‘tech’
France have already fined Google £150,000 because they failed to co-operate with its laws on tracking and storing information, and it looks like Italy might be next to hit the company with a piffling fine that wouldn’t even make a dent in the average Google CEO’s lunch bill.
The Italian data protection Authority have told Google that they must ask its users for permission to use their personal information before they go spreading it around Facebook in the form of targeted ads about Fitflops and belly fat.
They also said they must honour customer requests to delete data within two months. Or else.
Google are co-operating so far, perhaps fearing reprisals from burly, well-connected Sardinian men called Beppe.
How about you stop selling our data to advertisers without our permission, Google? That would be logical ‘next step.’
As they say in Italy – VAFFANCULO.
Apple will dripfeed everyone with their new operating system, Yosemite, as of tomorrow.
OS X Yosemite was announced in May, and now it will be available as a public beta test, which will kick off around 1pm EST (which is around 6pm in the UK). If you want to test it out, then hit this link and sign up.
So what’s new? Well, Yosemite will use translucency throughout the system, so if you didn’t like the ‘flat’ colourful UI design of iOS 7, you’ll probably hate this.
There’s also a thing called ‘Handoff’, where Yosemite and iOS 8 will work easier with each other. If you start work on your iPad, it’ll be simpler to pick up where you left off on your Mac (and vice versa). You’ll be able to answer phonecalls from your iPhone with Yosemite too.
There’s improvements to iCloud and the Mail app too, and AirDrop will now work between iOS and Mac devices.
There’s a load of other new things going on as well, but we advise that, if you’re really interested in all that, you let Apple tell you all about it, here. The short version is that Apple want to hook your iPhone up with your other devices in a way that is much easier for the user.
Smartwatch watchers, your hunch was correct. Apple have indeed been busy designing a smartwatch and were awarded a patent for a wrist-worn device with a touchscreen that can communicate with a smartphone.
The patent was submitted in 2011, but Apple’s secretive design manoeuvres mean that it wasn’t officially disclosed until yesterday.
On some of the documents, the device is called ‘iTime’ but as the name hasn’t been trademarked, it’s possible that idea has been ditched somewhere along the line.
The patent is for a device that can work either clipped into a wristband, or on its own.
But when connected to the wristband it turns into a smartwatch which includes ‘haptic sensors’ that mean you can control it with hand gestures (you probably know a number of ‘hand gestures’ you’d like to do at smartwatch wearers).
When will the watch finally appear? Who knows? But Apple say in the patent that there are: ‘continuing needs to make portable electronic devices smaller and more portable. There is also a continuing need to enhance functionalities of portable electronic devices.’
GET ON WITH IT THEN.
Customers trying to make payments and do their banking both online and via their mobiles over the weekend were thwarted by error messages and frustration.
They took to Twitter on Sunday night with pitchforks and voiced their annoyance at the glitches, which took place between midnight and 7.30am this morning.
Nationwide said they were very sorry, but regular website maintenance had taken longer than expected.
‘Unfortunately our overnight planned maintenance has overrun and affected customers accessing our online bank and mobile banking app.’ Said a spokesperson. ‘We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers. The online bank and mobile banking app are now up and running.’
Perhaps the real reason that customers are so annoyed is that it’s a fairly regular occurrence with Nationwide. It ain’t the first time – and chances are it’s not going to be the last…
Of course, this won’t be news to some people, but they’re exactly the kind of people who found this out, learned how to fix everything themselves, and then kept the whole thing under their hat and moaned about sheeple on their Twitter accounts.
For those that didn’t know, there’s a chance you’re being ripped off.
The folks at Which!!! placed basic software faults on a number of devices that should have cost £50 or less to fix, but found that most retailers were willing to charge over £100.
Nine Windows laptops and 15 MacBooks were used to see if Apple, the Carphone Warehouse, Currys & PC World and some independent stores were pulling a fast one.
According to Which!!!’s findings, Currys & PC World only managed to fix one of six laptops correctly and charged £154 for it. One job cost £169.99 to fix and had the wrong operating system installed, with the customer being told that they needed to buy a new hard drive that they did not need.
The Carphone Warehouse performed better than the rest, asking for £50, £20 and £24.99 for the repair of three Windows laptops. That said, they also advised one customer that they needed to buy a £40 hard drive they didn’t need and another laptop had all data unnecessarily wiped while a new OS was being installed.
The independent shops were just as bad, with one charging £200 for data recovery.
Apple meanwhile, didn’t charge anything to repair four of six MacBooks, but didn’t bother with two others because they were older models.
“It’s shocking that major high street retailers are failing consumers when faced with such basic repair issues and are charging people through the nose in the process,” Which!!! editor Richard Headland said. ”We want to see improved staff training and repair procedures, as well as fair and consistent pricing so people can be confident in the services they receive.”
Well, Google’s smart contact lenses is turning into a reality after they announced that they’ve teamed up with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis to develop special Google Contact Lenses.
The lenses were unveiled as a thing earlier in the year and utilise sensors sandwiched between two soft layers to measure the glucose levels in the wearer’s tears, which then transmits information wirelessly to your smartphones.
You see, these lenses are designed for people with diabetes, rather than being the next-gen Google Glass, where you can watch dirty films, unbeknownst to everyone sat next to you in church. It is hoped that this tech will help diabetics by removing the need to keep taking blood tests all the time.
Novartis reckon that it won’t just be diabetics who will benefit – these contacts could be used to help those suffering from loss of vision as they get old. They could also be developed into “intraocular lenses”, which are contacts that are put in your eyeball forever and ever, so that you have working eyes.
We await the Daily Mail worrying about Google flashing adverts into intraocular lens wearers.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin said: “Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people. We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true.”
And there just happens to be LOADS of money in medicine.
This follows a similar trademark registration in the US in 2010.
The ruling now means that if anyone thinks you’ve pinched their store layout, then you could be forced to change it or even be shot at* (*sued)
A chap name David Dalziel, who is the creative director at retail consultancy Dalziel and Pow, said to Design Week: “I am really surprised about this ruling, it doesn’t seem to be defendable to me.
“It is one thing to protect against the direct copy, which can and does happen in some developing regions where design is less sophisticated, but to attempt to protect a store layout would seem to be too broad, too sweeping to defend.
“Stores designed with a rigid table plan existed long before Apple was invented and will continue long after Apple evolve their concept to their next iteration. That is the nature of retail design.”
Of course, there have been outrageous copies all over the world, as previously reported on Bitterwallet.
The European Court’s judgement reckons that Apple’s store layouts fulfill the three main criteria – they constitute a sign, are capable of graphic representation and can distinguish the goods sold by one company from those of another.
Nobody else seems to be remotely bothered about this ruling, however now Apple has stirred it up, it means that more companies can start copyrighting its store layouts and sue other retailers if they feel that they’ve been copied.
Of course, it’s just another layer of bullshit that we were doing really quite well without until yesterday.
God help us if there’s a war.
Now that’s a reality, thanks to LG, who plan to introduce their Kizon in America, South Korea and Europe. Using GPS and WiFi, the band tells you where your kid is. Your child can also call you by pressing a button on the front and droning on to you about loom bands while you’re at work.
It’s aimed at pre-school and primary school children, but people have already pointed out several flaws in LG’s plan.
‘A parent should never solely rely on a device alone. This will only give a false sense of security,’ said Peter Bradley from Kidscape. ‘Children still need to be taught about dangers – particularly ‘stranger danger’. There are ethical points to consider too – should a child be able to be traced as part of going about their daily lives? How can a child develop their own coping strategies knowing a parent is watching over them?’
Meanwhile, privacy experts have pointed out that other people could use the device to get access to a child’s location, too. And imagine the parent-panic if your child attaches the device to a stray dog’s leg and watches it wander off into a city.
Honestly, it’s so complicated. Whatever happened to shouting ‘COME IN FOR YOUR TEA OR I’LL BATTER YOU!’ out of the window?
Savvy web users might be able to spot a rubbish fake crown logo or a web address called ‘giveusyourdetails.gov.passport.’ But others are regularly being led down the garden path, according to research by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA is so concerned about this that it’s launching a new awareness campaign, which will lead people to official government web pages and away from the dodgy ones.
It’s also considering tougher enforcement of fake sites and advertisers, pledging to work with Google and Bing to weed out the infiltrators.
Although 8 out of 10 people surveyed could spot the official passport application site, some of the other sites posing as government sites are quite convincing. Only half guessed that a site replacing Births, Deaths and Marriage certificates was actually a commercial website.
‘We’re focused on tackling any sites that continue to mislead, in support of other enforcement activity.’ Said Miles Lockwood from the ASA. ‘We’re also working with search engines and government to ensure the public are protected. In the meantime, always start at gov.uk to access a government service.’
So let us ditch the stuff and instead embrace the Food Hugger, a silicone device that keeps that abandoned half an onion fresh for weeks on end.
The premise, like most things that actually work, is simple. The device is a reusable silicone disk that wraps itself around fruit and vegetables – and crazy online reviewers are in raptures, saying that it keeps food fresh for much longer than anything else.
American designers Adrienne McNicholas and Michelle Ivankovic invented the device to help halt the amount of food waste in the US. And it’s all about the silicone ‘second skin’ – meaning your old manky veg will be completely airtight and no mould will get in.
‘The most targeted solution to the problem of keeping them as fresh as possible was to address the area where the skin had been cut away, and to develop ideas for how we could replace the missing protective skin.’ Said the ladies, chomping on a brilliantly fresh 12 day old tomato.
Originally the project was funded by Kickstarter, but it looks set to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. So there’s no excuse to have fights with cling film or be foiled by foil – for £14.99 you can give your food a hug and keep that half a pepper (that you have no intention of using ever again) until Doomsday.
This time, it’s the UK government online filters, which are a little bit ENTHUSIASTIC. They wrongly block one in five websites, creating the kind of internet censorship you might expect to find in China.
The Open Rights Group Project has been investigating the amount of websites that our overzealous filters are blocking, and it found that out of 101,008 sites, about 19% of websites are blocked by UK ISPs for no particular reason.
One of the blocked websites is the political blog Guido Fawkes’ Order Order. The editor Paul Staines said: ‘We would really appreciate it if TalkTalk would remove us from their block list. The only people who block us are them and the Chinese government.’
TalkTalk say they haven’t blocked them, no not at all, free speech is important etc. But the Open Rights Group ‘Blocked’ Project offers a free checking tool, which gives you information about which sites are blocked by UK filters.
After all, it’s a free country, innit?
OR IS IT?
As we predicted yesterday, the Daily Mail has found a way to put a spanner in the UK Google Glass launch.
According to their latest Glass bashing story, it seems that as well as making you look like a knob, Google Glass can be used by spies, surveillance teams and criminals (even worse, FOREIGN CRIMINALS) to peer at your PIN number while you’re not looking.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts have helpfully developed rather dubious ‘spy cam’ software that can be attached to Glass. It takes a video of people’s fingers tapping in their PIN and recognises 90% of the numbers, just from their movements – from three feet away.
Professor Xinwen Fu, who heads up the research team, said: ‘We are interested in scenarios such as conferences and similar gathering places where a Google Glass, webcam, or smartphone can be used for a stealthy attack.’
(Why Professor Fu? What are you up to?).
As well as finding ways to spy on people’s PINs, the team are also developing a solution to the problem, by creating a secure keyboard that appears on the screen.
But Google are not impressed with this hysterical spy story. They countered:
‘Unfortunately, stealing passwords by watching people as they type them is nothing new. We designed Glass with privacy in mind. The fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated clearly signals it’s in use and makes it a fairly lousy surveillance device.’
Back to the drawing board, DM.