Posts Tagged ‘tech’

2016: Enter the sex robots

January 7th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet robot love 294x300 2016: Enter the sex robotsPeople are speculating about what might be the biggest technology trend in 2016, and some people think it might be sex robots!

Now, ‘sex robots’ sound like some dreadful new wave synthpop band, but we’re talking about robots you get off with here, and Dr Helen Driscoll, who is apparently an authority on the psychology of sex reckons that robotic, interactive, motion-sensing tech is going to start appearing and being utilised more frequently in the grot-industries, over the next 12 months.

Of course, attitudes toward technology have shifted hugely in recent years, and seeing as people are much less shy about going to sex shops to buy vibrators (which are basically robots) and the like, it is likely that there’s going to be a move in this direction.

We can’t wait for some newspaper to start crying uncontrollably into their laps, with think-pieces about how humans are doomed and how we don’t have meaningful relationships with people anymore.

Anyway, Dr Driscoll thinks that robophilia is going to be very much a thing, as ‘sextech’ develops and attitudes change.

“We tend to think about issues such as virtual reality and robotic sex within the context of current norms,” she said. “But if we think back to the social norms about sex that existed just 100 years ago, it is obvious that they have changed rapidly and radically. As virtual reality becomes more realistic and immersive and is able to mimic and even improve on the experience of sex with a human partner; it is conceivable that some will choose this in preference to sex with a less than perfect human being.”

Dr Driscoll goes further, by suggesting that people will probably fall in love with our robot baes, and if that happens, we think there might be an end to trolling almost overnight.

VW say sorry for emissions scandal again

January 6th, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Volkswagen Logo 300x300 VW say sorry for emissions scandal againVolkswagen are again saying sorry for all that business with the emissions scandal, but this time, they decided to launch two cars while they were there. Nothing like an apology that comes with a sales pitch, eh?

They launched two new electric cars at CES 2016 – the e-Golf Touch and a microbus vehicle called Budd-E. This, they assure everyone, shows their absolute commitment to zero emissions. However, they were supposed to be committed to that while cheat software was being installed in some of their cars, so forgive us for not getting out the party hats.

Speaking at the dweeb event, head of the VW passenger brand Herbert Diess kicked off his speech by saying: “For more than 60 years Volkswagen has been at home in the US. The issue with diesel engines is nothing to be proud of, we disappointed…the American people, for which I am truly sorry.”

It is worth pointing out that the CES event is in Las Vegas, which is why the Americans got a special apology. Diess added that there were 8.5m affected cars in Europe, which he said will be fixed this year. “We are committed to making things right and ensuring something like this could never happen again,” he added.

And then, he showed off the cars which are part of the “new Volkswagen”.

So what’s the deal? The e-Golf was referred to as a “smartphone on wheels”, because it is operated by voice controls and has no buttons. You’ll have to say things like “Hey Volkswagen!” and waft your hands around a bit. It’ll have a digital interface which will be filled with all manner of apps so you can play music, take calls, or whatever. The e-Golf Touch is going to be on sale at some point in 2016.

The Budd-E, meanwhile, is a concept vehicle, which is fully electric. Apparently, the Budd-E’s 101-kWh battery pack will give you 373 miles of driving, and can be charged to 80% in half an hour.

Here’s what it looks like.

PlayStation Network trouble should now be over

January 5th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

white ps4 playstation 300x168 PlayStation Network trouble should now be overThe PlayStation Network has been down, which left parents with the horrifying prospect of having to talk to their children. Students were staring down the barrel of having to do something that involved standing up.

It was all very touch-and-go, as the PSN was offline all over the world.

So, if you were trying to play online last night, and couldn’t, it wasn’t just your console, and in fact, it was an issue that was facing pretty much everyone.

If you tried to log-in, you will have seen a message which told you that the network was undergoing maintenance. Now, Sony hadn’t announced that they’d be doing some routine maintenance work or whatever, and Sony hadn’t updated their official status page to say that they were doing it.

Sony eventually acknowledged the outage, with a message that said: “Our engineers are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible, and we thank you for your patience.”

The good news is that, for the most part, the issue has been resolved and that the PlayStation Network is back up and running, and all services seem to be AOK. If you were planning on sitting in your underpants all day, playing against people on your PS4, you can! Might be worth stocking up on adult nappies and Frazzles first though.

Google ban AVG Chrome extension

December 31st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

new google logo 300x300 Google ban AVG Chrome extensionGoogle have gone and banned AVG from automatically installing their Web TuneUp Chrome extension. Why? Well, it completely borked the online security of nine million people, thanks to weaknesses found in an audit.

Tavis Ormandy, a researcher at Google, had been giving the antivirus software the once over, found that it was filled with vulnerabilities, which is exactly the opposite of what you want out of something that’s supposed to make your devices safer.

The Web TuneUp is installed with AVG’s antivirus package, and basically tries to stop you Chrome users from going on sites that host malware. At the time of writing, over 9 million people were using it.

Ormandy said that the extension leaked “browsing history and other personal data to the internet,” and that means that nasty websites could exploit the frailties to get into other sites a user is logged into. This is great news for hackers, and terrible news for everyone else.

“Apologies for my harsh tone, but I’m really not thrilled about this trash being installed for Chrome users,” Ormandy told AVG in his report. ”The extension is so badly broken that I’m not sure whether I should be reporting it to you as a vulnerability, or asking the extension abuse team to investigate if it’s a PuP [potentially unwanted program aka malware].”

Last week, AVG updated the programme, however, Google are still not allowing AVG to install the extension automatically. Looks like they need to get Google’s trust back up. If you want it, you’ll have to download it manually from the Chrome store.

“We thank the Google Security Research Team for making us aware of the vulnerability with the Web TuneUp optional Chrome extension. The vulnerability has been fixed; the fixed version has been published and automatically updated to users,” an AVG spokesperson told El Reg.

Robot buses – they don’t need drivers

December 29th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet robot love 294x300 Robot buses   they dont need driversHate dealing with actual humans when you leave the house? Wish there was a way of not speaking to anyone at all when using public transport?

Well, looks like you’ll be able to keep your headphones on and silently make your way onto buses, as there’s talk of driverless robotic buses that use GPS to tootle around. Sadly, you can’t do anything about people with sweaty bums, or people eating tuna butties while sat next to you, stinking the place up.

These are some of the ideas which have been proposed for the UK’s digital strategy, set to happen over the next five years.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey says that the Government wants to see technology “transform day-to-day life” in the UK, with the country built as a “Tech Nation”. There’s all manner of ideas floating around – not just concerning buses.

In The Times, Vaizey said: “It might mean that the best educators from around the world are made accessible to all – with virtual reality sets bringing Nobel laureates into the classroom.”

“That we can build better houses, faster. That more power is given to the patient, and the care we provide four our elderly and sick is improved and made more affordable.”

“That we use driverless robotic buses in rural communities or help people to find parking places using GPS technology.”

Sounds like someone’s been watching episodes of Futurama and The Jetsons. There’s going to be some announcement about all this in early 2016, for those of you who like hearing about politicians and their pie-in-the-sky ideas that they’ll never put into play.

Google are looking at losing passwords

December 23rd, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

new google logo 300x300 Google are looking at losing passwordsGoogle are looking at killing off passwords as we know them, as they’re testing out a new method so that people log into Google accounts using their mobile, and without typing anything in.

Basically, once you’ve authorised your device, you’ll be able to input your account credentials on any computer, and get a notification on your phone. The device is going to have to have some type of screen lock function to work, as unlocking your mobile will be a prerequisite to approving or denying access to your account.

Now, if this sounds like a load of cobblers, Google assure everyone that you’ll still be able to log in with a regular password, if you prefer.

“We’ve invited a small group of users to help test a new way to sign-in to their Google accounts, no password required,” a Google spokesperson said. “‘Pizza,’ ‘password,’ and ’123456′ — your days are numbered.”

Of course, Yahoo! are also looking at life beyond the humble password too, as it seems tech companies want a new way of doing things. There’s concern that, as we rely more and more on the internet, it needs to be better secured, and passwords that are easy to guess are one of the bigger problems faced.

Google think this new method will be a good defence against hackers and people trying to phish your account.

This follows Google’s two-step authentication services, which means you sign in on the web using a code that has been sent to you in a text message. They also have the Authenticator app, which makes unique codes on your device, to confirm your identity. They’ve also got the Password Alert Chrome extension, which shows users when they’ve input their password into a non-Google website.

Apple take shots at Snooper’s Charter

December 22nd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spy spying 300x300 Apple take shots at Snoopers CharterEven though Apple have been accused of helping governments to spy on people through special software, that’s not stopped them from having a pop at the Government’s proposed new surveillance legislation (or, Snooper’s Charter).

In response to the Investigatory Powers Bill, Apple have said that the “bill will put law-abiding citizens at risk – not the criminals, hackers and terrorists. The fact is to comply with the Government’s proposal, the personal data of millions of law-abiding citizens would be less secure.”

If you’re bored or confused at the mere mention of this, let us give you the vaguest of ideas of what it is – basically, the Government want to lump all surveillance powers up to date, which means tech companies won’t be able to encrypt your messages… so people can spy on them if needed.

Now, of course, some people say they’ve got nothing to hide and are happy for this to happen, as it will help to catch terrorists and baddies. However, critics say that it won’t catch nasty people, and will just let the powers that be listen in on absolutely everyone, which is sinister.

In addition to that, if you weaken encryption, baddies might be able to exploit it, and do you really trust politicians with the keys to the internet’s security? You shouldn’t – they’re almost entirely all idiots.

And so, to Apple, who said that they’re not impressed with the bill’s lack of clarity when it comes to the encryption of data. Of course, a number of messaging services use encryption to scramble you text, so no-one can look it who shouldn’t be, including WhatsApp and Apple’s very own iMessage service.

They said: “Strong encryption is vital to protecting people from malicious actors. Without strong defence, these attacks have the potential to impose chaos, and threaten our way of life, economic stability and infrastructure.”

“This bill threatens to hurt law-abiding citizens in its effort to combat the very few bad actors who have a variety of ways to carry out their attacks. Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple’s ability to give law enforcement metadata or other categories of data … the information Apple and other companies provide helps catch criminals and save lives.”

The Investigatory Powers Bill joint select committee has until 11th February to go over proposed legislation and the like. Most tech companies are very critical of plans to weaken encryption. Of course, the tech companies themselves aren’t always doing nice things with your personal data… so who do you trust?

Facebook are teaming up with Uber

December 17th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

uber taxi Facebook are teaming up with UberFacebook have said that they’re testing out a new service where they’ll allow people who use their Messenger app to hail Uber rides directly from the app. You won’t even have to stop talking to someone to order yourself an Uber cab.

Uber is the first partner for the Transportation on Messenger service, which is going to be available to people who live in places that have an Uber service. First, it’ll roll out across America and then, if they like it, it will roll out elsewhere.

You’ll be able to hit the car icon in your chat to hail a taxi, or you can choose the ‘transportation’ bit from a menu.

“Facebook is looking at this as a way to make Messenger more attractive,” Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader of Gartner said.

Naturally, some people aren’t going to be happy letting Facebook know where they’re going all the time, so expect a modicum of moaning about this from some quarters.

Of course, Facebook are playing catch-up – WeChat have already been doing a similar service for a while now. Either way, Uber continue to be internet and app savvy, making them a very attractive prospect for a number of people. The rest of the taxi world needs to get on board themselves, or be left behind.

Introducing Transportation on Messenger from Facebook on Vimeo.

Europe’s teens face tighter controls online

December 15th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

slow internet connection 300x294 Europes teens face tighter controls onlineThe teenagers of Europe are looking at having tighter parental controls foisted on their internet. Mercifully for them, they tend to be rather savvy at circumnavigating such things, so they shouldn’t worry themselves unduly, and can go back to fretting about spots and people not wanting to get off with them.

There’s discussions to see that they’ll need parental permission to join the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat before the age of 16, according to new EU data protection proposals. It would become illegal for companies to handle data from anyone aged 15 or younger, without their parents’ consent.

The amendment states that processing data of “a child below the age of 16 years shall only be lawful if and to the extent that such consent is given or authorised by the holder of parental responsibility over the child”.

Of course, the social networks themselves won’t be happy, as there’s a lot of money to be made out of young people with disposable income. In fact, a bunch of companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, have got together to rally against this, saying that negotiators are rushing everything through and not consulting child-safety organisations.

In one case, the ICT Coalition for Children Online say that there’s been absolutely no explanation for raising the age for 16, adding that they think things should stay as they are (13 years old is the accepted age). Basically, all that is going to happen here, is that kids are going to lie about their age, and it could well restrict them from having access to useful information.

The final round of talks kick off today.

Google patent watch that sucks your blood

December 7th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

new google logo 300x300 Google patent watch that sucks your bloodGoogle, have immense control over millions of people’s virtual world, so obviously, the next step is to actually get inside your body. They’ve got the creepy 23andme wing, where they can store your DNA, and now, they’ve just patented a watch that’ll suck your blood.

That’s right! The internet giant has filed a patent for a smartwatch which can suck on the veins of a wearer, so they can extract small blood samples for tests and analysis.

They’re not doing this just for the fun of it – Google have long been interested in health projects, with a particular eye on diabetes. The company have already talked about their special techie contact lenses, which will test your eye-goo for illnesses, and now, they’re looking at watches for people who vomit at the idea of putting anything on their eyeball.

The patent for this blood watch says that the technology in it will use a micro particle that is blown into the patient’s skin using a high pressure gas barrel, so there’ll be no need for a needle to obtain your blood. It’ll then suck it back from your wrist into a low pressured barrel. It’ll be pretty much painless, apparently.

While Google are trying to make everyone healthier and whatnot, we’re waiting for some Texas crackpot podcasters to decide that this is a surefire of computer viruses making the leap to humans. We can’t wait.

Google USPTO Needle Free Blood Smartwatch 730x430 500x294 Google patent watch that sucks your blood

Microsoft Office 365 goes down

December 3rd, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Windows Microsoft Office 365 goes downMicrosoft have been having problems with their cloud service Azure, which means that Office 365 (which gives online access to Word, Excel, and the like) have gone down.

Users have been complaining that they’ve been blocked from accessing Office 365 portal, and checking Down Detector and such, there is indeed a spike in people reporting problems with the service.

Checking the Azure status page, it says: “Starting at approximately 09:00 on 3rd Dec, 2015, customers began experiencing intermittent issues accessing Azure services that use, or have dependencies on Azure Active Directory.”

“Engineering teams have identified an Azure Active Directory configuration error that is believed to be the root cause of the issue. The team is working on failing over the impacted service components to a different environment. Impact is largely centralized to the West Europe and North Europe regions. An update will be provided in 60 minutes, or as events warrant.”

This seems to be only affecting those who are trying to access the services through their browser, rather than apps or desktop software.

Google Nest camera is ‘always on’

November 26th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

nest Google Nest camera is always onWe’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.

Google bury Yelp and TripAdvisor

November 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

TripAdvisor 300x256 Google bury Yelp and TripAdvisorTripAdvisor 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.”

Domino’s let you order pizza with a single button

November 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

dominos logo 300x300 Dominos let you order pizza with a single buttonDomino’s are creating a dream for the magnificently lazy among you – ‘The Easy Order’ system, which allows you to order a pizza to your door by hitting one button.

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?

Lovely stuff.

EO1 3507544b 500x312 Dominos let you order pizza with a single button

apple Women find it difficult to find music, say Apples IovineWomen – 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.