Self-Driving Trucks Hit The Roads In Europe

When it comes to vehicles, there are two new technologies that people are looking forward to. First off there are electric vehicles, with Tesla’s new Model 3 getting billions of dollars worth of pre-orders, then there is the move to automated vehicles. With driverless vehicles gaining momentum, a set of self-driving trucks have hit the roads of Europe in a demonstration that’s set to show the technology off to the world.

Six manufacturers took part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, courtesy of the Dutch Government. Truck platooning refers to the ability for automated trucks to follow one another in close procession, making use of a slipstream to reduce carbon dioxide and fuel usage.

Travelling from different parts of Europe to the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with companies like Volvo and Daimler watching as their vehicles picked up cargo from the port before heading back to different locations all around Europe.

With self-driving trucks already looking to be tested in the UK within the year, it could be sooner than we think before large companies start using automated vehicles to deliver their goods. With companies like Google looking to create and release a self-driving car just one of many self-driving ideas, including a self-driving pram, you could soon get to put your feet up and enjoy a movie on those long road trips.

Google Fined by France Over Right to be Forgotten

Google have been handed a fine by the French data protection authorities as a result of them failing to conform to the ‘right to be forgotten’ as ordered.

In a decision made last year by the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL), Google would have to agree to requests made for the delisting of personal information, not just on its products under European domains, but across all Google properties. Previous to this, Google had been removing requested personal results from the European versions of its search engine, including google.co.uk and google.fr, excluding other instances of the site, such as google.com, which is still accessible from within Europe.

This breach of the ruling could have allowed CNIL to charge Google as much as €300,000, however, the French organization, in the end, settled on only a €100,000 fine.

The right to be forgotten has existed since 2014 when a European court ruling allowed Spaniard Mario Costeja González to erase online evidence of a court-ordered auction of his real estate to recover debts. Those hosting the information were allowed to keep it online, but Google was ordered to remove all reference to the articles from searches of Costeja González’ name. The spirit of the decision being that minor misdemeanors or embarrassments could be covered up, but not completely removed.

Google still refuse to conform with the ruling as closely as CNIL would like, with information hidden on worldwide services, but only for users in the same nation as the one who requested the removal. For example, a Spanish user would no longer be able to find references to the auction on any Google product, including google.com, but a user from another European nation would be able to get the results through any non-European Google domain.

With over 400,000 people having already invoked their right to be delisted in Europe, they would hope that their past acts could be forgotten by all, not just those of their nation. It is unclear as to whether CNIL will make any efforts for Google to more broadly delist people, but with a fine already levied against them, they may be more compliant should the cost get steeper.

Hyperloop is Coming to Europe

With Elon Musk’s Hyperloop currently stalled on US soil, a crowdsourced engineering project could bring the ‘mass transit system of the future’ to three European countries. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has agreed a deal in Slovakia which aims to connect three European capital cities via Hyperloop tracks: Slovakia’s Bratislava will be the central point in a route that runs from Vienna, Austria to Budapest in Hungary, according to Engadget.

The total length of the proposed Hyperloop track is estimated to be around 160 miles – the distance between Vienna to Bratislava is approximately 35 miles, while Bratislava to Budapest is just over 100 miles – which, end-to-end, could transport passengers in around 20 minutes. The plan even has the potential to expand beyond the three proposed cities, with an additional line running to Košice in Bratislava.

While the proposal is just that at the moment, the first step will be to assess the viability of creating a three-city, high-speed Hyperloop route.

HTT is also responsible for the planned Hyperloop test track in California, an initiative that has recently suffered delays. The crowdsourced group – a collaboration between scientists, engineers, and designers, all donating their time to help make Hyperloop a reality – is still hoping to have the California track functional by 2018.

UK University Wins Funding for Robotic Stem Cell Factory

We as the human race are in an almost neverending fight with nature, although there really isn’t any doubt who will in the end. That doesn’t mean that we can’t put up a fight and make the best of everything until then. One of the main areas that we fight in are the diseases that plague us as a race. One of the ways that we combat this is with stem cells, but they are too costly, time-consuming, and labour intensive to be a viable solution for a mass production large enough to cover everyone.

One of the ways that this can be improved upon is with the use of robots that don’t need downtime, work more precise, and don’t require a salary either. The EU has set aside €6 million for the project and the Aston University in Birmingham is going to play a critical role in this project to develop a robotic stem cell factory, which will reduce the cost of manufacturing adult stem cells and open up the opportunity to produce new therapies for a range of conditions.

“Stem cell therapies have the potential to treat currently unmet patient needs and provide therapies for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s. However, current manufacturing methods for adult stem cells are costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive, so will be unable to satisfy the expected patient demand,” said Dr Qasim Rafiq, academic lead for the project at Aston University and Lecturer in Bioprocess Engineering.

The AUTOSTEM consortium, coordinated by NUI Galway in Ireland, has received the funding through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme to address the current challenges in manufacturing stem cells. The new system will be developed as a scalable, automated robotic system for the growth of adult stem cells.

The clinical product being developed involves isolating and purifying adult stem cells from the bone marrow before growing these in bioreactors to achieve sufficient numbers of cells to treat thousands of patients. This work will be conducted in a sterile, aseptic cleanroom facility operated by a robotic system. That’s another benefit of using robots over a human workforce.

The US And Europe Can’t Agree On Data Sharing

It’s been well-known for a while now that information, online and offline, has always been searched for and monitored. From GCHQ to the NSA, it sometimes seems like the entire alphabet is watching your every move online. With items like the ‘snooper charter’ making changes to digital monitoring, many countries are yet to see eye to eye when it comes to whom and what people should be able to see.

Sunday came and went without an agreement between American and European officials regarding how data should be transferred between the two areas. With information on the internet being sent around the world before reaching you at your computer, handling private and sometimes confidential information is a sensitive topic.

One of the key areas of debate is how European’s data would be protected against surveillance from the American government, with legal support for anyone to settle disputes in the American courts relating to their information.

With big companies like Facebook and Google operating around the world, although with large bulks of their companies based in America, you can see why they are interested in how this discussion will end.

This negotiation began three months ago, with a 15-year-old data transfer pact (also known as a safe harbour agreement), being invalidated due to Europeans data not being protected well enough when transferred to the United States.

With some people arguing that the standards in the US match those present in Europe, the deadline for a resolution is slowly creeping in, putting pressure on every party involved to resolve the matter.

EU Proposal Could Ban Geoblocking Across Europe

Following the news that Netflix has begun restricting VPN use to bypass its region locks, the UK government has initiated a public consultation regarding European Union proposals to outlaw all forms of geoblocking across all member states.

“The European Commission has recently published draft legislation that is intended to ensure that all digital services are portable within the European Union,” the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) consultation file on “cross-border portability” legislation reads [PDF]. “This would mean that a person who lives in the UK, and who subscribes to a digital content service there, would be able to be confident they can continue to access that service when they are elsewhere in the EU, provided they have the right level of internet connection.”

The IPO report suggests that the UK fully supports the EU proposal, saying, “The Government supports cross-border portability, and the Prime Minister welcomed these proposals on the day of their launch. We will now be working with other European partners to negotiate the detail of the Regulations so that they deliver the best outcome for businesses and consumers.”

How this proposal will affect the licensing deals negotiated by video-on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix, is yet to be determined.  “It is currently difficult to provide portability for some types of content because of territorial copyright agreements which govern where services can be accessed,” the IPO report adds.

The EU’s proposal to outlaw geoblocking follows its recent antitrust investigation into content providers restricting its content dependent on location within Europe.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Scottish MP Give Vulcan Salute in Support of Europe’s First Spaceport

Scottish National Party Member of Parliament gave a Vulcan salute to support the building of Europe’s first spaceport in Scotland, an idea which has gained the endorsement of Star Trek’s Kirk and Sulu, The Guardian reports. The SNP’s Phillippa Whitford made the hand signal during a debate in the House of Commons, before which she made the case for establishing the spaceport in her constituency of Central Ayrshire. A statement from Star Trek veteran William Shatner, supporting the initiative, was read out in Parliament by Whitford. A tweet from George Takei also lent support to the endeavour, prior to the debate.

“During the election, whenever I talked to anyone about this they would always just laugh because to us in this country we think space is for other people, it’s for the big boys: north America, Russia, maybe even China – but not us,” Whitford said. “That is something we have to change. We need to believe what we can do. I think Major Tim Peake’s mission will achieve that. This is a real industry, not the ‘beam me up Scotty’ or fretting about the dilithium crystals that we see on the telly, but a multibillion-pound industry.”

“So I’d call on the minister to be imaginative and to be brave and to be boldly going where no minister has gone before. I call on the minister to please be imaginative, enable this industry across the entire UK so it can live long and prosper,” she added.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcfGXRjylq8

Whitford then read out the statement from Shatner:

“Space is one of the last known frontiers mostly untouched by mankind and his politics. In opening a debate on this subject, my hope is you take the tenets of Star Trek’s prime directive to universally and peacefully share in the exploration of it. I wish you all a wonderful debate. My best, Bill.”

Before the debate, Takei made his approval of the idea known on Twitter:

The Department of Transport will be tendering bids for the spaceport following its appraisal of the technical specifications required to support any potential spaceport.

UK Launches New Space Endeavour

The UK government has announced plans to launch a new National Space Policy in an effort make Great Britain the European hub for commercial space flight, The Independent reports. The government hopes that the initiative, which includes investment in space flight and microgravity research, will boost the country’s economy by £11.8 billion.

“For decades mankind has dreamt of space travel, and from today the UK will trigger the next scientific revolution to turn science fiction into science fact,” the UK’s Business Secretary Sajid Javid said. “Not only are we celebrating the launch of the first UK Government-backed astronaut, but our first-ever space policy will build on the inspiration he provides to grow our burgeoning space industry. Historically we haven’t been a major player in space programmes; this policy will change that.”

News of the move coincides as the UK’s first astronaut to visit the International Space Station (pictured) prepares to launch.

“I hope in future there will be more British astronauts. The International Space Station’s life will come to an end some time in the 2020s. The next project will be a lunar base. I would like us to be part of that, and also a [manned] mission to Mars looking further ahead,” former Science minister Lord Willetts said. “We were always a country that sent people out exploring, and the new frontier is space. It’s the same tradition as Captain Cook and Charles Darwin’s Beagle.”

European Parliament Votes to Protect Edward Snowden

After the mess the European Union made of its net neutrality laws, it’s heartening to see them doing something positive. Earlier today (29th October), the European Parliament voted in favour of protecting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from prosecution and extradition to the US, as well as dropping any charges against him within EU member states. The resolution was voted in by 285 votes to 281, and grants protection to Snowden as a “human rights defender”.

Rumours of the vote hit Twitter shortly before the official announcement, with Snowden himself commenting:

After the European Parliament released the news via its website, Snowden appeared shocked and delighted:

The European Parliament declared:

“Too little has been done to safeguard citizens’ fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an “effective level of protection” and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a “human rights defender”. Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.”

How this affects Snowden’s asylum in Russia is yet to be determined. It would be interesting to know how the European Parliament would vote for a similar resolution in regards to Julian Assange, currently exiled in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

European Parliament Votes in Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Despite challenges by activists, MEPs, and online businesses, the European Parliament (above) has voted in net neutrality laws that includes exceptions allowing traffic shaping and two-tier speeds, the very things net neutrality was designed to prevent. Loopholes in the legislation, opposed by many trying to protect the idea of a free and open internet, allows websites that pay ISPs for preferential treatment. The regulations came into effect in every European Union country following the commencement of the vote.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said that the defeat of the amendments a sign that “corporate interests come first,” while Julia Reda, MEP for Germany’s Pirate Party, said the legislation allows for the creation of a “two-speed” internet.

“We are disappointed that the European Parliament has decided not to legislate on this critical issue,” Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst for Access Now, said. “By not supporting the necessary amendments to give clarity to the text, the Parliament has left it up to courts and national regulators to determine its meaning.”

However, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society in the EU, claimed the new law would “deliver tangible results to improve the daily lives of Europeans”.

“We will get for the first time ever net neutrality rules in EU law,” he added. “These rules protect the right of every European to access the content of their choice, without interference or discrimination.”

One good thing to come from the vote, though, is an end to roaming data charges across EU countries, which will come into effect on 15th June, 2017.

Europe is Close to Voting on Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Following years of discussion and drafting, the European Parliament is to vote on net neutrality laws next week, and if the legislation is approved then it could spell disaster for a free internet across Europe. It has been known for months that the EU’s net neutrality proposals are broken, and that its idea of “net neutrality” is a misnomer, but as well as creating internet fast lanes for paying companies, the latest draft of its bill will allow torrent and VPN throttling.

“This is a real problem for P2P applications. ISPs regularly throttle or otherwise interfere with peer-to-peer file-sharing applications to manage congestion if they are not prevented from doing so by network neutrality rules,” Barbara van Schewick told TorrentFreak.

“The provisions would allow ISPs to throttle or de-prioritize P2P file-sharing around the clock based on the ‘objective technical requirement’ that P2P file-sharing is not sensitive to delay,” she added.

In a post on Medium, van Schewick outlined the four major problems with the EU’s net neutrality proposal:

  • Problem #1: The proposal allows ISPs to create fast lanes for companies that pay through the specialized services exception.
  • Problem #2: The proposal generally allows zero-rating and gives regulators very limited ability to police it, leaving users and companies without protection against all but the most egregious cases of favoritism.
  • Problem #3: The proposal allows class-based discrimination, i.e. ISPs can define classes and speed up or slow down traffic in those classes even if there is no congestion.
  • Problem #4: The proposal allows ISPs to prevent “impending” congestion. That makes it easier for them to slow down traffic anytime, not just during times of actual congestion.

Anyone European citizen that is concerned that the proposed EU legislation will kill a free and open internet should contact their respective MEP to ask that they stand against issues that allow ISPs to shape, throttle, and prioritise internet traffic. More information can be found at SavetheInternet.eu.

Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

Europe Mismanages Disposal Of Discarded Electronics

A ticking timebomb is in the form of the correct way to dispose electronic waste, the globe is producing unit upon unit of the latest gadget which in turn pumps chemicals and materials into these devices. The turnaround from purchase to waste is even shorter than ever and protocols need to be implemented with the aim of recycling, which decreases the environmental impact on the plant as possible.

Unfortunately, A European Union Funded project in conjunction with Interpol, the United Nations University, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, the WEEE Forum, the Cross Border Research Association, Zanasi and Partners and Compliance and Risks has found rather poor statistics.

They have found in Europe, “just 35% (3.3 million tonnes of 9.5 million tonnes) of used (but still functioning) and waste electronics and electrical equipment discarded by companies and consumers in 2012 wound up in official collection and recycling systems”. What happened to 6.2 million tonnes? It’s not like companies made it disappear, (reads more information) OK it is like companies made it disappear as the rest of the waste was “either exported, recycled under non-compliant conditions or simply thrown in waste bins”.

Responsible manufacturing and consumers who buy these electronics need to bear in mind disposal when throwing away items. The raw materials are toxic, think chlorofluorocarbons in fridges or Benzene and n-hexane which are chemicals thought to cause cancer and nerve damage, not such a problem? These chemicals have been used in the production of Apple products up until 2014.

Of course, as this report illustrates, an unknown but damaging factor is the criminal gangs who thrive off the illegal waste supply chain in some countries. Disposal of electronic waste is essential considering the amount which is being manufactured with the ratio increasing year on year, hopefully, more can be achieved in this area to decrease humans carbon footprint on the earth.

Thank you economictimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of open-electronics

Europe Might Take the Lead in Adopting Electric Vehicles

It’s really surprising to hear something like this, but the fact is that Europeans are more interested in electric vehicles. I know the EV hype has been going on in the US for quite some time, but according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, Europe has seen a 78% rise year over year in Q1 2015. So if you were eyeing these futuristic vehicles, it’s time to get informed because you never know when they might rule the EU roads!

Of course, the majority of people interested in acquiring EVs are found in countries such as France, Germany, UK, but the interesting thing is that developing countries are interested in them as well. It might not be a big number of them, but selling a dozen or more EVs instead of a couple of them is still big progress for a developing country. The report states that there are already a little over 53,000 EVs sold in the EU, with more to come in the near future.

The huge gap between the US and Europe EV sales seems to come from two problems. Fuel prices are about the same amount you get for a full EV recharge in Europe and the distance that a regular individual travels is in the range of what an EV can offer. These two factors are really a game-chager for EV adoption. I myself live in the EU and to be honest, I would definitely choose an EV over a fuel-powered vehicle anytime, should I be given the option to choose between the two.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Komu

Commodore Is Back and Targeting the Smartphone Market With New Android Phone

For those of you too young to know who Commodore is, you should know that it was a big tech company back in the ’80s who went into the Guinness record for selling thousands of Commodore 64 desktop units daily. The craze for the Commodore 64 was so big that it was named ‘the single biggest-selling computer ever’, selling around 17 millions worldwide.

But enough about what the company did in the past, let us focus on the present and the future. If you thought Commodore’s days are over, think again! There have been a bit of confusion when Commodore Amiga, a potential Apple Mac Mini rival, was announced back in 2012, but we haven’t heard anything about it since then and it also seems the Commodore USA website which delivered the latter information went offline.

However, the latest news from Commodore is that the company seems to shift its focus on the smartphone market. Besides the Commodore 64, their first desktop computer was named Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor). Well, their first ever smartphone bears the same name, so say hello to Commodore’s new PET smartphone!

The new, improved and ‘miniaturized’ version of the PET seems to be running on Android 5.0 and features a 5.5-inch IPS 1920 x 1080 resolution display. In terms of performance, it comes with a Mediatek 64-bit Octa-Core CPU clocked at 1.7 GHz and features the ARM Mali T760 GPU. Even the battery seems promising, coming with a huge 3,000 mAh pack.

Other features consist of a 13-megapixel back camera made by Sony, with a f/2.0 aperture, being able to snap pictures at a resolution of up to 4096×2304 pixels and record 1080p HD videos. There is also a 8-megapixel front camera with an 80° wide-angle, which can also be triggered by the side shutter button. You won’t be disappointed in terms of connectivity either, having the handset come with dual-sim support, 4G LTE compatibility.

To bring forth the nostalgia of old times, Commodore said to have built in a VICE C64 emulator and the Uae4All2-SDL Amiga emulator and is working with some software developers to port its old ’80 Commodore games to the latest PET handset. So now that some, if not all of you are excited about the information, let’s move on to the most important bit… when will we see it on the market? You’ll be more hyped by that information.

The Commodore PET is said to launch later this week in two versions. The ‘light’ version is said to feature 2GB of RAM, 16 GB storage and be priced at around $300, while a higher-end version will be featuring 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage and a price tag of $365. In terms of storage space, you should know that the handset is said to already be fitted with a 32GB microSD card, but information states it can support microSD cards of up to 64GB. So, this means you can get your very one portable Commodore PET with a total of either 80 or 96 GB, depending on what model you fancy.

The initial launch will be in Europe with the first countries to see the handset named to be Italy, France, Germany, and Poland, but more are bound to be added to the list in the near future. Given the old Commodore fans are still out there, demands for the new PET smartphone is likely to build up really quick. Will you order one? Let us know!

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of linuxzone.es

Amazon Prime Now Opens One-Hour Delivery in London

Amazon launched their one-hour Amazon Prime Now delivery last December in Manhatten US and later expanded the experiment to Dallas, Baltimore, and Miami. Now Amazon has reached over the big pond to open up the service outside of the US for the first time and in a timely fashion compared to their usual expansion times that take a lot longer.

Amazon Prime Now is now available to several postcodes in central London. Zone 2 and zone 3 postcodes couldn’t get the speedy delivery yet, but several Zone 1 postcodes can now take advantage of this new delivery method.

Amazon says that Prime Now can deliver thousands of products in London, but you need to order for at least £20 each time and it will cost you £6.99 per order for this speedy delivery method. If you don’t need it that fast, you can get the delivery for free within a two-hour window between 8am and midnight.

The service is of course geared towards products that you’d need last-minute, but you can get anything from inkjet printers to microwave ovens and Apple TV devices. You can pick products from 27 of Amazon’s departments.

Users can also choose to tip the delivery courier if they wish too. You can read a lot more about Amazon Prime Now on the official page, download the mobile app, or check your postcode for availability.

Thank You TechCrunch for providing us with this information

FreedomPop to Offer Free Calls in UK

FreedomPop, a Los Angeles-based wireless internet and mobile phone service provider. They also offer mobile phones, tablets and broadband devices for use with their services In US, recently they have launched 10 Million Wi-Fi hotspots and offered it for $5 on the monthly basis. There is no restriction in utilizing the service as the access to the Wi-Fi is unlimited. UK is the first one to get services of FreedomPop in Europe.

They will be rolling out the services in this summer. The free service tier in the UK will include 200 minutes of talk, 200 texts, and 200MB of data service. It will also include free international calling to more than 60 countries. The service also offers free unlimited calls and texts to each other if both the users are of FreedomPop. They also offer a global SIM card for no charge for the free service called Jetsetter. It will be initially offered in Europe starting from UK, Spain, and France to begin. For better understanding of their services, they also offer an app available for Android and iOS devices that will allow you to get FreedomPop calls and texts on your device. You do need a FreedomPop SIM card to go along with that app.

Get ready to enjoy free services, UK residents. Let us know how to feel about this launch in the comment section.

Thank you FreedomPop for providing us with this information.

Facebook Wants to Bring Free Internet to Europe

Free internet is something that everyone wants nowadays, and for good reason too. Where do you go when you want to read the latest news, speak to friends or check your email account? This is why Facebook plans to bring free internet to Europe soon.

Zuckerberg was present in a Q&A recently and divulged its plans to connect countries with limited access to the Internet. He stated that there are a lot of people who are still not connected to the internet today and he wants to change all that.

“Yes, we want to bring Internet.org [everywhere] where there are people who need to be connected. We’re starting off by prioritizing the countries with the most unconnected people and by working with network operators and governments who are most excited about working with Internet.org to get everyone online in their countries.”

The company also launched a feature that provides basic mobile internet in countries such as Kenya, India, Tanzania and Columbia. Though it won’t bring Google Fiber to your doorstep, it still provides some way to stay connected with the changing times.

Zuckerberg seems to have disclosed some other information regarding his company’s future plans with the latest Facebook Messenger payment feature and that Oculus is going to go well beyond the boundaries of gaming.

“Our mission [is] to give people the power to experience anything,” he wrote. “Even if you don’t have the ability to travel somewhere, or to be with someone in person, or even if something is physically impossible to build in our analog world, the goal is to help build a medium that will give you the ability to do all of these things you might not otherwise be able to do.”

Facebook has quite a lot planned for the future, from connecting everyone and bringing them together with free internet and its social media platform, to digging into future technologies such as Oculus and attempting to exploit it to its full potential. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Thank you Tech Radar for providing us with this information

UK to Offer Tax Breaks to Game Developers

In an effort to attract video game makers over to the British Isles, the UK government is to offer tax breaks to developers worth millions of pounds. The tax break cap could be worth an estimated £115 million pounds over the next four years, though figures are yet to be finalised.

In order to qualify for the tax break, though, developers will have to pass a “cultural test” to verify that its content is influenced by European culture. Higher scores will be assigned to games that feature European characters and locations.

Jason Kingsley, Chairman of Tiga, the London-based game industry group, spoke to the Wall Street Journal regarding concerns that, in order to qualify for the tax break, developers would shoehorn “European” content into their games. He said, “I remember when people were first talking to me about this. They were saying, ‘Are we going to have tons of games based on double-decker buses and people with bowler hats?” The answer is no. But you could have games like that, and they would probably qualify very easily.”

Source: TweakTown

Sony Announced That PSN Europe Is Going to Get Its Service Status Indicator Soon

Up until now, Sony had no feature that would allow users to check if the PSN network is up and running in Europe. Whether you had trouble connecting to the store or accessing online functions, you wouldn’t have known if your Internet connection was at fault or Sony’s PSN was down.

However, this is about to change very soon. Sony has just announced that it would add a service status indicator for PSN in Europe, giving users the option to check whether the servers for PSN are up or down. The company has also launched a similar service indicator in America recently, so it would have made sense to launch a similar service in Europe as well.

Sony seems to have been moving slow in terms of providing users with a service indicator, having Nintendo already providing a similar service to its users long before Sony even added its feature in America. Also, Sony’s PSN is known to go down often either by DDoS attacks, hacking, maintenance or even unexpected outages. Therefore, the service indicator seems to be quite useful for the majority of players using PSN.

Thank you Gamingbolt for providing us with this information

Apple Increases Prices of Its Products in Non-US Countries

While Apple has discounted the price of its Apple TV in North America to $69, the company seems to be doing the exact opposite to a lot of its products around the world. This comes as a result of the US Dollar gaining some ground and becoming stronger in the market.

Apple products which suffered an increase in pricing include the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt Display, and are now more expensive in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal and other countries to reflect currency adjustments.

For example, the Canadian Apple Store shows an increase in unlocked iPhone 6 from between $749-$969 to $839-$1,099, Thunderbolt Displays from $999 to $1,199, and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros from between $2,099-$2,699 to $2,449-$3,049. Apple also upped the price on its 15-inch MacBook Pro in France, with the base model now starting at €2,249 up from €1,999, and the higher-spec model up to €2,799 from €2,499.

Apple is said to continue to make the adjustments in order to ensure that its products and services are as consistently priced as possible throughout the world. However, in some cases, international prices will remain higher than North America prices as a ‘safety’ against currency fluctuations.

Thank you MacRumors for providing us with this information

Apple Watch is Waterproof, Apple Pay in Europe “By End of Year”

Tim Cook has seemingly been on a tour of Germany recently. Over the last few days, we’ve seen reports showing him visiting various places in the country. His visit began with the announcement that the company is to build two giant 100% renewable data centres in Europe, all as part of an investment worth $2 Billion. Just the other day, he was seen at a glass factory in the country, seeing glass that is to be used on Apple’s new campus. Yesterday, he visited a local Apple Store, and some employees from that store gathered new information about the Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

iGen reports that employees in the store asked Tim about his experience with the new device, and he said that he wears it all the time and “even in the shower.” We’ve known all along that the Apple Watch is water resistant to a degree, but not that it could be used in the shower. The innards of the device are said to be encapsulated inside a special resin that provides the water resistance.

As for Apple Pay, he told the employees that the service, which has been successful in the US, will arrive in Europe “by the end of the year.” This has surprised some, as reports have suggested that banks and other organisations have been finalising deals recently. Most of those reports concerned UK banks however, so it will likely be a staggered launch, covering most of Europe at least “by the end of the year”.

Cook also visited German Chanellor Angela Merkel as part of his visit, which has now seemingly ended, as he’s since been spotted in Israel, meeting with the President of the country.

Source: 9to5Mac

Apple Investing $2 Billion in 100% Renewable European Data Centres

Apple has announced that it is to invest $2 Billion into two new data centres in Europe, that will be powered by 100% renewable energy. The company’s CEO, Tim Cook, says that the new centres will bring great benefits to the local communities surrounding the new buildings as well as to Europeans as a whole.

The centres will be built in Athenry in western Ireland and in Viborg in Denmark, and are planned to be up and running by 2017. It’s said that the new buildings will add capacity to Apple’s online services in Europe; including iMessage, iCloud, Siri, Photos, iTunes and more.

“We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”

This marks Apple’s largest ever investment into a European project, and it’s clear that it will certainly be of great benefit to the local communities that surround these new centres.

Source: The Verge 

Amazon Experiences Europe-Wide Outage

Last night, users of Amazon in the UK, Denmark, Germany or many other places in Europe for that matter, found themselves locked out of the preeminent online store for quite some time.

With this and the company’s Instant Video service was also reported to be down as well, you’d think Amazon would have been eager to report the problems. Well, they didn’t – they’re status pages said everything was OK. These people certainly didn’t.

The site is now back up and running, to the delight of the many millions of click-happy shoppers.

Source: The Next Web

New Nintendo 3DS Coming to US and Europe

Remember that ‘new’ Nintendo 3DS that is slightly more powerful and includes more buttons? Well now it’s coming to Europe and the United States.

Nintendo announced the news in a Nintendo Direct presentation. They said that the US will receive a New 3DS XL, but no New standard 3DS. Europe on the other hand will get both, the bigger XL model and the smaller one. In the US the console will cost $199.99, but no price has been announced for the European model as of yet.

The consoles are indeed faster, with Nintendo claiming that it will load games quicker. It also has better Wi-Fi, allowing faster downloads and it also includes NFC support for those Amiibo figures.

It’s also worth mentioning that the console doesn’t come packaged with a power adaptor – something Nintendo has been doing in Japan for years. Why? Well it lowers the overall cost of the console for the many millions that already have a power adaptor from their old console, perhaps representative of Nintendo’s traditionally conservative Japanese attitude to business. Obviously that is at the inconvience of those who don’t have an adapter, but they don’t cost all that much on their own anyway.

The consoles will be available from February 13th, 2015.

Source: Engadget

Job Posting Confirms Apple Pay International Expansion

A new job posting discovered by iClarified suggests that Apple is hard at work on expanding Apple Pay across Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa. Apple Pay is currently only available in the United States, with Apple saying that they are “working hard” to bring it to more countries.

The job posting details that there is now a team in London working on bringing the NFC service to more countries.

“Apple Pay is a new and exciting area in Apple that is set to expand across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. Apple Pay will change the way consumers pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology and unique security features built right into their iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in an easy, secure, and private way. The new London-based Apple Pay team will work to drive the roll-out of this technology across EMEIA by working with a variety of internal and external partners, including teams in the US where the product will first launch and the EMEIA organisation, as well as Issuers, payment networks and merchants across Europe.”

The service was introduced in the US to great acclaim, with users finding the system easy to use, efficient and secure. Oddly, it also brought praise from users and supporters of Google’s Android as Apple’s efforts to get the service accepted by banks and merchants has led to the wider use of NFC-compatibale readers that are of course compatible with any type of NFC payment system, including Google Wallet.

Source: iClarified Via: MacRumors

Huntkey Debuts Odd X-Power PSUs for Europe

Huntkey Enterprise Group has unveiled its new X-Power series of power supplies, a unit that somehow appears completely out-of-place in regards to most other PSUs on the market.

The X-Power400 is a 300 watt power supply with a peak rating up to 400 watts and with fixed cables. It supports both Intel and AMD CPUs and is built on a dual +12V rail system. Features include active power factor correction as well as OCP, OVP, OPP, and SCP protection. The units are 100% Burn-In and Hi-Pot tested and come with an MTBD of 100,000 hours. The PSU is kept cool by a 120mm fan without any further specifications.

The first thing that strikes me as odd is the use of the peak performance in the products name instead of the rated performance. The second thing is that it has an 85% efficiency rating and complies with EU regulations, but has no 80Plus certification.

I don’t think Huntkey will impress the ordinary user with this non-modular PSU. But if the price will be set right, they might get some system-builders on board.

Thanks to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

No More FCC Labels on Your Devices

Today President Obama signed into US law the E-Label Act, an act introduced by two Senators earlier in 2015, ending the mandatory requirement for physical FCC labels on devices.

The law allows manufacturers to include the FCC labels in their software rather than having to etch them onto the device’s exterior. It’s said that this will save manufactures money, which can then be passed on to consumers.

This isn’t entirely new, as the FCC already loosened its rules on labelling earlier this year, but today’s ruling brings the changes into law. The labels will be included in software like as can be seen above, on an iPhone 6 Plus.

Still, a lot won’t change, most devices will still have the labels of the European Commission on them, that’s if they don’t change their status on the subject too.

Regardless, we all know who’ll be happy whatever happens, even if it is just one more tiny logo he can remove from his designs – Apple’s Jony Ive.

Source: MacRumors