Chinese Agencies Demands Result in iBooks and iTunes Shut Down

Apple is one of the few companies that has managed to stay active in China where regulation of digital services is strictly controlled by the countries many agencies. That was until last week when several of Apple’s services were shut down in China.

Apple’s iBooks store and iTunes movies were shut down last week, following the demands of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. Apple has since responded saying that they hope to “make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible”, something that implies there is a condition to the services.

Apple managed to launch Apple pay in the country just two months ago, and with it counting China’s as its second biggest market, any services that are stopped would have a huge impact on the company. China is known for the censorship of its technology, with the country hidden behind “the great firewall” while it’s suspected that several groups within the country are behind large-scale hacks in other countries.

Recently Apple denied ever handing over its source code to China, a move that may or may not have contributed to the states less favorable look for the California-based company.

Netflix Isn’t Against Offline Viewing

Netflix is a huge company, with price increases to help cover the increased traffic that people use with the HD streaming experience. In a recent call though Netflix may look at helping you watch those movies on the go while avoiding the data usage costs that come with offline viewing.

CEO Reed Hastings responded to questions about the possibility of letting its subscribers watch shows offline by saying that they would “keep an open mind on all this”. Part of the reason Hastings gives for this open approach is the “uneven set of networks” that Netflix is noticing as they expand to new areas of the world.

With Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Hunt, stating last year that they wouldn’t add the feature thanks to the “complexity [it brings] to your life”, directly followed by “with Amazon Prime”. Amazon Prime lets you download and stream shows, and with a new pricing model offering monthly subscriptions, Netflix may be changing their tone to help fight off the competition in the media streaming market.

With services like Sky Go, Amazon Prime and even BBC’s iPlayer letting you watch content offline, Netflix is one of the few services that doesn’t offer offline viewing, something that can often put people on or off services when their internet cuts out mid-show.

Xbox Live Is Currently “Limited”

We all have our favourite way of playing online, and those that use Xbox Live may have a bit of trouble this morning when it comes to enjoying that quick game before work or school. Currently, the service is more struggling than it is managing as several parts of the service are listed as having difficulty.

The affected services include people’s ability to buying downloadable items and downloading any previously brought items. This means that if you are looking at downloading a game or treating yourself to a DLC, now might not be the best time. If you are one of the people who likes to stream some music or videos the Xbox Video and Music stores are also currently experiencing problems, joined by Blinkbox also having issues.  Finally, the only other area affected at the moment is account management, with people unable to create

Finally, the only other area affected at the moment is account management, with people unable to create accounts, managing any of their previous accounts or even removing accounts from devices.

The only areas that don’t seem affected are the Xbox One’s website and their matchmaking, so if you wanted to just play a game you should be okay, but beyond that you may experience some trouble. You can find out the latest on Xbox live’s status page located here.

Large Scale DDoS Attempted Take Down of DNS Root Servers

Someone actually tried the impossible on two separate occasions, to take down the internet’s backbone. They did ultimately fail for multiple reasons, but at the same time, they actually got a surprisingly good result out of their attack.

Early last week the Internet’s DNS Root Servers, that are the authoritative reference for mapping domain names to IP addresses, were hit with a flood of as many as 5 million queries per second for up to three hours with the goal to crash the servers. The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack took place on November the 30th and December the 1st.

The DDoS attack effectively managed to take 3 of the 13 DNS Root Servers offline for a couple of hours which in itself is quite impressive. It does however not have any real effect on the world due to the nature of DNS’ structure. DNS servers are built up in a mesh structure which means that you’ll need to take down all of them at the same time to have any real effect. And that includes the thousands of DNS servers that users connect to from their ISPs as well as all the public ones. Should the request to one DNS server fail, another will jump in and you’ll merely have a minor delay and no breakdown.

According to an analysis published by the root server operators on Tuesday, each attack fired up to 5 million queries per second per DNS root name server, and that was enough to flood the network and cause timeouts on the B, C, G, and H root servers.

At this time, there is no indication of who or what was behind this large-scale DDoS attacks. The source IP addresses used in the attacks were very well distributed and randomized across the entire IPv4 address space, so there is no clue to go by. The same goes for the motive, maybe it was a ‘let’s see if we can do it’ thing.

Offline Navigation Added to Google Maps

That frustrating moment as you’re about to depart, when for some reason your phone decides to drop it’s network connection. Suddenly you better hope you know where you’re going, because Google Maps will leave you high and dry as you desperately try to get it to give you a route. From today, no more.

A long time in the coming, from Google’s promise of the feature back in May, the popular map and route-finding software will now be full-featured even when offline. And while some may argue that Google Maps has had offline functionality for a long time, with the ability to save maps locally, this feature was severely limited, offering no route-finding or navigation. Essentially just a plain digital map. This new update to Google Maps fills in all the functional blanks that have been missing since. Searching, routing, turn-by-turn vocal navigation and even basic information on businesses will now be available on saved maps while offline.

In order to make use of these new features, you must first download the map data to your device. Maps allows you to download maps on three scales, country, county or city, or the option to download a specific area from the offline areas menu. After downloading the maps for an area, you’re good to go. Maps handles hot-swapping between the downloaded map and using the network connection behind the scenes, aiming to make the experience seamless as you travel in and out of signal. The only thing offline maps can’t do is live traffic, for obvious reasons.

Having suffered frustration due to the whims of my mobile network provider when trying to travel personally, I highly welcome this change. How do you feel, a long overdue must-have, or simply nice to have?

Skype Plagued by Network Connectivity Issues

The Skype client is currently experiencing a whole range of connection issues and sporadically showing contacts as offline. Skype has released a statement surrounding the network hiccups and clarified:

“We have detected an issue that is affecting Skype in a number of ways.

If you’re signed in to Skype, you will not be able to change your status and your contacts will all show as offline even if they are online. As a result, you won’t be able to start Skype calls to them..

A small number of messages to group chats are not being delivered, but in most cases you can still instant message your contacts..

If you aren’t signed in to Skype, you may be experiencing difficulty when attempting to sign in. Any changes to your Skype account such as your Credit balance or your profile details might take a little while to be displayed..

You may also have difficulty loading web pages on the Skype Community. For that reason, please check back here for future updates..

We’re doing everything we can to fix this issue and hope to have another update for you soon. Thank you for your patience as we work to get this incident resolved.”

I’ve personally tried to access the Skype service for around 3 hours to no avail but still able to send messages despite appearing as offline. Therefore, it’s possible to communicate with others through text but this could greatly depend on a number of factors, including your location. I would also recommend using the web interface which doesn’t seem to exhibit any network flaws at this time. Whatever the case, the Skype client is suffering quite badly and angered a great deal of its users.

Amazon Web Services Goes Down Before Getting Up Again

Bit of Tubthumping play on words in the title there, readers who remember the 90s will get this, surely, oh come on I am not that old! Anyway, many web services are intrinsically integrated with each other to bring benefits to consumers, all well and good then right? Yes and no, as having many services which rely on a single destination, whether it be a server or software, provides its own challenges; this includes a domino effect to any technical glitches that would inevitably affect other connected pages.

Yesterday (20th September 2015) there was a problem with a server in Virginia which affected most of the north-east of the US. This glitch in turn killed the infrastructure for many popular products and services including Netflix, Social Flow, Group Me and Amazon Echo among others. The error was described as an “Elevated API Error rates” but has since been resolved to normal operating functionality within the same day.

Any outage in these services for the US giant could lead to a painful financial loss; let’s take a 2013 technical outage as a study example. AWS suffered a similar problem which took services that included Instagram, Airbnb and Vine off-line, it was reported that Amazon accumulated a loss of about $1,100 dollars per second in average net sales.

To keep track of any potential errors there is a handy website by the name of “Amazon web services health dashboard” which publishes up-to-the-minute information on the health of services within four tabs, these are North and South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. It’s pretty interesting and I have said before that in fact I do have a life, just intertwined with stats and tech that is all.

“Amazon reminds us of the good times
We sing songs that remind us of the best times”  ha!

Thank you status.aws and thenextweb for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of muycloud

Proper Offline Mode for Just Cause 3

PCGames.de recently interviewed Avalanche’s Roland Lesterlin about Just Cause 3. The biggest news from it is that Just Cause 3 will have a full offline mode. Roland said this about the game:

“We want to make the game accessible to as many people as possible.”

When asked specifically about the game being playable offline, he responded “Absolutely.”

Just Cause 3’s story line follows Rico as he explores a Mediterranean island paradise, with no vertical limitations. By gliding through the air, swooping across mountains with a wingsuit, scaling buildings with a grapple and parachute are some of the creative new ways to play the game. Additionally you can hijack vehicles and tether objects together for more creative new ways to play and cause chaos.

Source: DSOGaming

Inateck FD2002 HDD Docking and Cloning Station Review

Introduction


Top slot-loading hard disk docking stations have been around for some time, and once in a while they come with increased functionality over just being a docking station. These days we need the fastest transfer speeds possible with the ever growing user-base that facilitates solid state drives. At the same time, it has to stay as easy and compatible as it always has been. Inateck created the FD2002 Dual HDD Docking station with off-line cloning feature, that is a device that should give us everything mentioned above.

The Inateck FD2002 comes with SATA 3.0 ports connects through a USB 3.0 connection for maximum transfer speeds. USB 3.0 is in its basic version only gives real-world speeds up to around 250 to 300MB/s at the best of times, that is until UASP came into play. UASP stands for USB Attached SCSI Protocol and is designed to address the failings of the classic USB BOT drivers by adding command-queuing and out-of-order completions, among other things. With the use of the UASP, we can archive raw speeds up to and around 450-500MB/s, a thing that just isn’t possible without.

Where most manufacturers would have stopped here and had the users rely on software options, Inateck took it one step further and added a copy and clone function to the docking station. And best of all, it doesn’t even need to be connected to the PC to this function to work.

The clone function is for pure offline-mode usage as a USB connection will interrupt the process. If you wish to be able to have it connected at the same time, Inateck has another model that supports connected duplication. It however requires more internal hardware and Inateck have thought about that and is giving you the choice to get just the right item for you.

The FD2002 supports both 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives. Small drives plug in right through the opening while bigger 3.5-inch drives will push the lever aside when inserted. Plug and play as it should be. The docking station also supports hot-swap and no drivers are needed besides your systems normal USB drivers. The tool-less design makes it both easy and fast to switch drives.

The LED indicator on the top displays the progress of a running duplication process as well as drive activity and connection. There is only one button to use for the clone function, but it requires a bit more than a touch to activate. A good things, as we wouldn’t want to start a duplication by error.

Security is another thing we all like and we want to keep our drives safe from physical damage. The Inateck FD2002 comes with overvoltage, leak currents, short circuits, peak voltage, interference and disturbance protection to guarantee safer data transfer and access.

The unit is listed as compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, Mac OS and Linux, but it should work with any USB capable device.

The Inateck FD2002 comes with both a USB 3.0 cable and a 12V 3A power brick for steady power to even the most power-hungry of drives.

YouTube Announces Offline Playback… In Indonesia, India and The Philippines

YouTube has announced offline playback functionality for its Android app, allowing users to watch select videos when they’re without an internet connection. The only issue is however, it’s only for users in Indonesia, India and The Philippines.

The app will allow users to keep a variety of content, including trailers, movies and music videos, for 48 hours before being deleted. Users can also choose the quality of download so they can limit their data usage.

While many users all over the world would love this feature, it’s understandable why Google have only made it available to people in those countries. For instance, all of those countries have rather patchy mobile data networks, meaning it can be quite difficult to do anything online, let alone stream high quality YouTube videos. Plus, mobile data can be quite expensive in those places as well, making things even more difficult. So it’s understood that this is part of Google’s efforts to get its services to as many people as possible.

For users in those countries, the offline mode should be available in an update to the app.

Source: The Next Web

Nintendo Cut Online Gameplay From Wii and DS Systems

Online gameplay through the Wii and DS consoles has been a big part of the entertainment world, particularly with games such as Mario Kart and Wii Sports, however Nintendo as of yesterday have cut the functionality to play games online, leaving users only the ability to play games in offline mode.

Connection to the internet is still available, so services such as iPlayer, the Internet Channel, the Weather channel and so on is not affected at this time and Nintendo have also made it clear that Wii U and 3DS games are not affected.

Why this change has been made is not yet clear, although I suspect that the closure has been made in a bid to push users towards purchasing the Wii U console and the subsequent games in order to keep the online functionality.  In addition a full list of the games affected has been made, and this can be found over on Nintendo’s website here; affected games.

Although the Wii is not at the forefront of console gaming, it is very popular with social game play in the likes of Mario Kart and Wii Sports and what effect this has on the gaming community is yet to be determined.

Source: Nintendo

Image courtesy of IGN

Dogevault Goes Offline – Millions of Dogecoins Appear Stolen

As far as cryptocurrencies go, Dogecoin has by far got to be the most popular one of recent times and it’s not surprising really considering it went viral after it was created in the spirit of the popular internet Doge meme.

News has come to light however that some people may have taken a liking to the currency a bit too much after the online wallet Dogevault reportedly went offline without any warning and some users are realising that large quantities of Doge were transferred out of their accounts just before the service went down.

Whether or not the Dogevault servers were hacked or whether the owners have shut up shop and made for the hills is still under investigations, but after some investigation in to where the coins have been transferred to, it seems like we could be looking at the biggest Dogecoin thefts in history. One user posted a shot of his wallet, showing that 950k coins were removed and after following the transaction path, they appear to have landed in this wallet, along with nearly 120 million more coins. Another wallet has been found as well that suggests the Dogevault owners are also responsible, with a balance of over 2.6 million coins itself.

What is certain though is that the coins sadly are not likely to be returned which turn may cost their rightful owners a lot of real hard cash. My suggestion though is that if you use an online wallet, get a desktop wallet that I personally feel is more secure, transfer all your coins there and make sure you keep it safe. A flash drive in a safe would be better suggestion even still.

Source: The Cryptocurrency Times

Google Drive Sheets Receives New Features Including Offline Document Creation

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AyoRkr4I3U[/youtube]

Microsoft’s Excel is the leading Sheets software out on the market, with a lot of features and ways to create your much-needed sheets that suit your needs. However, Microsoft’s counterpart, Google Sheets, has received a new update with quite a bit of features added to it.

Should you choose to opt-in to the new Sheets, you’ll be able to take advantage of several new features and the new version’s faster performance. Among the highlight feature additions are the ability to create and edit spreadsheets offline. Note that you have to set up offline GDrive access before using the offline spreadsheets though. There is also a Filter Views feature that lets users customize their view of a collaborative workbook without changing the way that same spreadsheet is seen by other users. Plus, there’s now inline access to improved help articles and other tweaks like the ability to assign different colors to sheet tabs.

The performance improvements are said to be remarkable, especially in areas where the old Sheets would get bogged down scrolling through massive data sets. The new version does it as smoothly and easily as when using Microsoft Excel. Also, the addition of sheet tab colors is said to undoubtedly help you find specific sheets within larger workbooks with the help of the variety of different hues that you can choose from.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Video courtesy of Endgadget

Origin Servers Offline

If you are like me, you love your video games, staying up late nights playing your favorite games. This weekend Battlefield 3 is hosting a “Double XP Weekend”. Unfortunately players are unable to play any game that is hosted on Origin. They are having some form of server issues, though their server status site does not show any issues with any of their services. When you try to log into their website or into the Origin client to play a game it refuses to connect, giving you a simple message.

“Sorry! We are experiencing some technical difficulties. Please try again later.”

Issues arose at about 6AM this morning GMT, my game was glitching out when I decided to reload the game, when I started my game back up, I was unable to connect to servers. I closed my client down and continued to have issues. There are several games that have been affected by this server issue, including Battlefield 3, SimCity, FUT 13, Mass Effect 3 and Crysis 3.

Unfortunately, Origin has not posted a status update on their facebook page at this time, we can only hope that they will repair the issues swiftly.