Yahoo Mail Went Down And All They Got Was A Single Tweet

In this day and age, keeping your customers up to date is as important as getting them on board in the first place. Reports started circulating yesterday that Yahoo users weren’t able to access their email accounts, and all they got for their troubles was a single tweet.

Originally reported in the thread titled “Yahoo Mail has been down for 14 hours, affecting thousands of users in Europe”, users went from saying that having their service shut down without any response being unacceptable to the barrage of comments from users asking if the service was ever truly running these days or how many people were actually affected by the problem (including a rather large barrage joking about the use of Yahoo mail for business reasons).

After checking out Yahoo Mail’s twitter page (the quickest way to update people these days on issues it would seem), the page was filled with nothing but advertisements spread out over days with no communications regarding the reported outage. That was until we checked out their support page, Yahoo Care. Amongst a slew of advertisements for their fantasy baseball teams was a single tweet saying that some users were experiencing issues.

With people replying saying that they haven’t been able to access their account for extended periods and with no support, a single tweet hardly seems to be cut it (pun intended).

In this day and age, taking days to fix a problem with little to no support for your users seems like a quick way to lose people to other webmail solutions like Gmail and Outlook. We will try to keep you updated (as well as we can with the little information that seems to be available at this moment).

Apple Could Be Fined Millions for Strict iPhone Marketing Contract

Did you ever look at a phone provider catalogue and think, where have I seen that advert before? If the phone in question is an iPhone then you may have noticed its prominent placement in the catalogue along with the near identical adverts in every single catalogue. There is a reason for this other than just marketing, and could get Apple fined up to €48.5 million for their strict iPhone marketing terms.

France’s country competition regulators have launched a complaint regarding Apple’s agreements, stating that they are actually illegal. Part of the terms and conditions is that carriers have to order a minimum number of iPhones, cover the cost of repairs for some of the phones and even pay for the ad’s used (including those used for in-store displays).

If this wasn’t enough Apple gains several legal benefits, such as being able to access and use some of the carriers patents and even use their branding as they see fit. The contract also allows Apple to void the contract without any prior notice, something that would scare anyone selling thousands of euros worth of equipment.

With Apple looking at renewable energy for their facilities, they may want to rethink their strategy when it comes to selling their devices as even if this court case is just in France, other countries may follow suit and start looking at stocking alternative products because of the contract they are being forced to sign.

New Service Lets You Test Whether Your VPN Leaks

Millions of users around the world use VPN or proxy services to hide their real location. This can be for a multitude of reasons, may it be to stay anonymous while downloading torrents or to get around geoblocking restrictions, legal or illegal. But users should be aware that the services might not be as secure as thought and that they still could leak their information in several ways. A new service, fittingly named ‘Do I Leak?’, sets out to give you peace of mind by letting you test whether your secure connection actually is secure or whether it is leaking information.

There can be two reasons why your VPN or proxy leaks your location or at the very least reveals that you’re trying to hide it: Either the service you are using isn’t as secure as advertised or you have missed a thing or two in your setup. Especially torrent users need to take a closer look at their settings and disable features such as DHT and PEX in order to fully stay anonymous behind their tunneled connection, otherwise, your real IP might still be visible to everyone.

While services to check these things have been around for a while, none of them have been very complete and most of them fail to take every point of leak into consideration. The new Do I Leak service aims to remedy this by added all the individual tests into a simple package that is easy for any user to deploy. On of the most notable differences to other services is the included torrent check for both HTTP and UDP trackers. UDP is one of those things that often is missed by most of these tools. It will also check whether your DNS is leaking and thereby giving away that you’re trying to tunnel – one of the methods used by NetFlix, for example, to block out VPN users in their recent crackdown.

You can easily run the tests from the official site in two ways, with or without additional torrent checks. If you are a VPN user, then it might be worth to check up on – just to be on the safe side.

Kindle Users Must Update To Keep Using Online Services

When people think of e-books most will associate the word with the Kindle, Amazons e-reader. The reason being is that the kindle has become the symbol of e-readers, with the electronic ink making the original device easier to read than a traditional screen and the latest version including everything from Netflix to Angry birds. If you own a kindle though you may want to update otherwise you won’t be able to use their online services.

Revealed by Amazon, anyone using an outdated version of kindles software will need to update by March 22nd, 2016 or they will lose the ability to download books from the cloud, access the kindle store or even use other services provided by the device.

Failure to install the update by this date will provide users with the following message:

Your Kindle is unable to connect at this time. Please make sure you are within wireless range and try again. If the problem persists, please restart your Kindle from the Menu in Settings and try again

If you find this message on your kindle after March 22nd you will have to do a manual update to regain access to kindles services. Below you have a list of the version that each type of kindle will need to be at in order to keep using the services.

Kindle 1st Generation (2007) 1.2.1 Use Wireless
Kindle 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle DX 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle Keyboard 3rd Generation (2010) ** 3.4.2 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 4th Generation (2011) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 5th Generation (2012) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Touch 4th Generation (2011) ** 5.3.7.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation (2012) ** 5.6.1.1 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (2013) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Voyage 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Paperwhite 7th Generation (2015) No Update Needed No Update Needed

For more information regarding how to update or how to find out your software’s current version, please check out Amazon’s post here.

Robotic Car Sharing Could Have 400 Million Users By 2030

People like using things which are easy to navigate and control. This may be the reason for the recent boom of car sharing app’s and systems in place. With people using systems like Uber to quickly call a taxi and having someone pick you up with ease saving you precious minutes (and $$$) when you need to get somewhere. With the use of automated cars though you could see as many as 400 million users relying on robotic car sharing by 2030.

You wake up and realise you are running late to work. You send a quick text to request a pickup and start getting ready, within half hour a car is sitting outside your house and you are off to work. You’re not driving, and neither is your work colleague who is sharing the same car because he lives in the next set of buildings down the road. Robotic cars could soon see you doing away with steering wheels and instead rely on LiDAR technology and exterior cameras to drive you safely to work.

With groups like the White House looking to create self-driving cars alongside companies like Google, it was only a matter of time before the idea of self-driving sharing taxi’s arrived. Google have already announced that they want to have some out on the roads this year, something that we can all look forward to.

Twitter Suffers Massive Outage

Twitter didn’t have the best stability record when it first launched and there were so many downtimes that we even got a nickname for them, the fail whale. Recently Twitter has upped the service standard and the outages have become rare, especially a complete one like it is being experienced this morning.

The web service, mobile services, and the APIs for Twitter were down and inaccessible starting at 8:20 am GMT, with users getting error messages warning that the network was over capacity and also suffering an internal error. Roughly 40 minutes later Twitter confirmed the outtake, but via a Tweet on the @support channel that no one could see, because the service was down. They later emailed the same statement to several news sites to let people know that they are aware of the issue and working hard on getting it resolved.

“Some users are currently experiencing problems accessing Twitter. We are aware of the issue and are working towards a resolution.”

Twitter’s own status board also began updating with the status at 9 am this morning, confirming the outage. Four out five public APIs went down at the same time, but the company hasn’t revealed whether it was hardware issues, software updates that failed, or whether they experienced any form of attack. We’ve seen quite a lot of high-profile sites being hit with severe DDoS attacks lately, including the BBC.

At the time of writing, the servers are responding again, but the service isn’t available yet. Visiting the site will show the well known “Something is technically wrong. Thanks for noticing, we’re going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon.” 

Are you missing Twitter or wouldn’t you have noticed it at all if we or someone else hadn’t told you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Here is Why You Might Have Trouble With WhatsApp Tonight

Today is one of the days where most calls are made and most messages are sent, and that goes for the whole world. Traditionally people have been using the normal phone connections and the SMS features of their phones. With the modern times come new possibilities and new services, and I’m naturally talking about Instant Message (IM) services such as WhatsApp and Skype. But users of WhatsApp might have a tough time using their favourite app to send out New Years greetings as users report of the service being down over most of the world.

It started out with reports around 4 pm this afternoon with trouble in the UK and Europe in general. It has since then become worse and users from all over the world are reporting trouble with the service. Asia reports of the service being down most places and the same reports come in from African and South American users. Users can’t connect and those that manage to login can’t get their messages to send. Some users have also posted comparison screenshot of sent and received video chats that show some of the trouble before the entire network collapsed. That feature is however still in beta testing as far as I know, I’m not a WhatsApp user myself.

It is currently unknown what has happened and if it just was a normal overload or someone actively is attacking the network, but you might want to find another service to send out your greetings and especially not rely on this service for important messages from friends such as where to meet up in town later tonight. But then it is good that we have so many other options that work on the computer too and not just on the cell phone, such as Facebook messages, Google’s Hangout, Skype, and many more.

The service was initially restored after just 45 minutes of downtime. However, it quickly crashed again and has been nothing but trouble since then. Have you been affected by the WhatsApp outtake or couldn’t you care less? Let us know in the comments. Below are some comments about the outtake from Twitter and you can find many more hilarious ones if you should have a boring night with nothing else to do.

https://twitter.com/Giliprogre/status/682660231667650561

https://twitter.com/TalhaAyaz1/status/682660154270171139

Huge Steam Error Exposes User Details!

Steam is a worldwide service designed to help you and your friends purchase and play games with a sense of security and unity. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect though as we found out this Christmas with a bunch of users reporting seeing other people’s details.

Reported on Reddit users were claiming that not only were their information displaying in another language it was also showing other usernames and information related to their accounts. While this may sound trivial the kind of information wasn’t, with everything from Steam Wallet balances, purchase histories and PayPal information being met with some contact information. While there has been no official word from Valve has of yet, but the steam services

While there has been no official word from Valve has of yet, but the steam services did go offline for a period before being brought back to life with a fix.

Steam Database, a service that keeps watch on steam from its sales to its services, reported that while it was being exposed the information was read-only. This means that people could only see your information, not change it. They go on to stress that it is not a hack but most likely a misconfiguration in Valve’s caching mechanisms. They then recommend asking Steam to forget your payment information as “Valve have proven multiple times that they’re unable to keep their security standards to a high level”.

Xbox Live Hit by Phantom Squad DDoS Attack

Only a few days ago, the “hacking group” known as Phantom Squad threatened to shut down Xbox Live and PlayStation Network during the Christmas period. Before I move onto today’s development, please note that the press shouldn’t really be referring to groups like Lizard Squad and Phantom Squad as hacking groups. I’ve fallen into that trap myself without thinking about it, and it’s not actually an accurate term. Using a DDoS to disrupt networking services is not hacking, and we shouldn’t give these groups a title which overemphasize their abilities. Putting that aside, it seems Phantom Squad have lived up to their promise and conducted a DDoS attack on Xbox Live. Here we can see them taking responsibility for the service outage and also tweeted about the lack of security on these networks:

This might indicate they have a motive to expose Xbox Live and PlayStation Network’s security loopholes. However, this isn’t the way to go about it, and only impacts on the enjoyment factor for new console owners during Christmas. Rather surprisingly, Twitter has suspended the groups account but luckily Ars Technica UK captured some of their Tweets. In lieu of recent events, Microsoft issued a status update on its support site which reads:

“Hey Xbox members, are you having trouble purchasing or managing your subscriptions for Xbox Live? Are you also having an issue with signing into Xbox Live? We are aware of these issues and are working to get it fixed ASAP! Thank you for being patient while we work. We’ll post another update when more information becomes available.”

Phantom Squad’s egotistical and attention seeking traits reached fever pitch as they asked for retweets to prevent PSN from being the next target:

Any hope of Phantom Squad caring about security of having some sort of moral purpose is discredited by this tweet. Clearly, they just want to cause havoc and feel better about themselves by spoiling other people’s Christmas. As a result, they need to reassess their behaviour and comprehend how they would feel if their Christmas was spoilt by an unknown group on the internet.

“5G Playground” Opens the Door for Warp Speeds

Internet connection speeds have been somewhat of a hot topic over the last decade or so, consumers who demand ever-increasing speeds while internet service providers have been particularly lagging in certain regions of the world. Well, researchers who are developing new super-super-fast standard 5G mobile technologies have what has been described as a “playground” which they can visit in South Korea.

It has been reported that Service provider SK Telecom (South Korean wireless telecommunications operator) has unveiled its Research and Development “5G Playground” on Thursday with partners including Ericsson, Nokia, Intel and Samsung Electronics, it was also announced that a collection of regional standard bodies would host a series of events with the aim of building a global consensus on the emergence of 5G.

5G is potentially an important breakthrough after SK Telecom and Nokia demonstrated the possible capabilities of this network which ran at a super quick 19.1 Gbps (per second), SK plans to launch a 5G trial service in 2017.

As technology is becoming more advanced so is certainly the need for a turbo charged infrastructure, this new standard is expected to be completed by 2020, although it might vary as to the rollout progression speed per country. Until at least then, many people will have to make do with current speeds.

Image courtesy of thenextsiliconvalley

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service Sequel Release Date Revealed

Shaken, not stirred, the classic line from a classic spy. James Bond has gripped the nation for generations, from the golden gun to Spectre, the world of spies and villains have taken our memories and dreams. Recently though, it is the underdog that has often taken the spotlight, from the tales of Alex Rider the boy spy to the younger James bond, we’ve seen it all.

Last year we got to see what would happen if you took someone from an everyday background and made them a spy, or to be more precise a Kingsman. Soon though we could see the next tale in this saga on our screen, but sadly not as soon as some may desire.

Grossing in over $400 million, Kingsman was a surprise hit for 20th Century fox. Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman: The Secret Service was popular with all kinds due to its unique characters and tales, often mocking the films that it drew its inspiration from.

An initial release date for the sequel is set for June 16th, 2017.

How many times have you dreamed of being a spy? Are you fan of Kingsman and would you see its sequel Kingsman 2?

$5 Service Will Cancel Your Comcast in 5 Minutes

Have you ever suffered the pain of trying to cancel your internet service? The endless mashing of buttons and following horrible instructions via the IVR to get to an operator, since there is no easy option for “cancel your service.” Sure, you can change your service or upgrade it — but cancel it? It becomes a long ordeal in which you are tricked and sometimes berated into keeping your service, or else. Comcast is particularly bad about this process, meaning customers just get more and more frustrated.

A new service has launched, called AirPaper. For a measly $5 you can pay them to automatically cancel your Comcast contract in a speedy 5 mins. You provide them with your phone, address etc and they cancel your service.

It seems like a fantastic bargain and it is definitely worth the 5 dollars so you don’t have to deal with the dreaded customer support yourself. The company also hopes to expand into other services. They say they want to be able to help provide services for getting parking permits or renewing your visa to china etc.

I think it sounds epic, I can see people having issues with sharing their info with 3rd parties, but they state in their FAQ that they won’t share the information

Thank you to Geek.com for providing us with this information

The BBC Implements HTML5 to iPlayer

I think we can all say that Adobe Flash Player is very much being knocked to its knees in recent months, from endless, and I do mean endless, vulnerabilities which put countless users at risk to the annoying aspect of running a plug-in which enjoys crashing and breaking functionality on a regular basis. Well, now the BBC has also seen the light and are implementing the HTML 5 web standard language within its BBC iPlayer service.

The move is seen as progress and an update which modernizes the service and security aspect of the site. The BBC state that it is “now confident [it could] achieve the playback quality you’d expect from the BBC without using a third-party plug-in such as Flash player”. Users have also been invited to visit a BBC site where they can set a cookie in their browsers that will allow them to access the HTML5 player when they visit iPlayer in future. However, the Flash version will remain available.

Security analysts have responded positivity to the news but have also confirmed that Adobe Flash still has a role; this has been echoed by security expert Chris Green, who says “The industry has moved on from trying to shoehorn one thing in, whether that is Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight. It continues to be very effective in delivering rich content into web pages.”  

The BBC is testing the new more improved player on a range of browsers, these include Firefox 41, Safari on iOS 5 and above, Opera 32, Internet Explorer 11 (Good luck with that piece of, let’s say junk, as this is a family site) and Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 (Good luck with that piece of, to be fair I have not as yet tried edge but anything with the words browser and Microsoft in the title concerns me) and Blackberry OS 10.3.1 The BBC added that it was also going to “move away from the BBC Media Player app on Android devices” with users invited to join a limited beta test

HTML 5 is considered the standard in content delivery and the BBC are implementing this with the aim of modernizing the service, it will be interesting to see how it works and also how rapid the decline of Flash will be in the coming months and years. It is worth noting that Flash is used by Amazon and Hulu among others, which is positive for them, it’s just frustrating for consumers who have to put up with a range of exploits which make services insecure.

Thank you bbc for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of plus.google

Netflix Knows The Moment a TV Show Hooks Your Attention

Television is additive to many consumers, from the vast entertainment collections which are now available within various streaming services, to the outstanding quality of notable award-winning shows which are served up by US and UK productions that quickly grab the attention of individuals. You may think a devotion to a particular series begins with a killer pilot episode which immediately embeds into the consciousness of watchers, but this is not the case as a new study commissioned by Netflix analysed the episode which first hooked people’s attention.

Traditional viewing restricted consumers to one episode per week; therefore if you missed the pilot then it may have been difficult to become interested in the plot of a series. The boom of streaming programs to your device has led to consumers dipping in and out of episodes as they see fit. Therefore, Netflix has “analysed its global streaming data across the inaugural seasons of some of today’s most popular shows”, which has included both Netflix original series and shows that premiered on other networks with the aim of gauging the signals that pointed to when viewers became hooked

It turns out that 70% of viewers who view the “hooked” episode went on to complete a whole season and therefore buy into the product. The episode at which a consumer becomes addicted is dependent on the series in question; Netflix have released data of 25 shows which have been analyzed for that hook moment and the results vary, from episode 2 of Breaking Bad to episode 8 of How I Met Your Mother and Arrow.

Netflix analysed viewing habits on its own service across 16 markets which included the US, Australia and Canada. An exemption within this research lies in the reality of the unavailability of certain shows in certain countries; therefore, the episode which Netflix names as the “hooked” episode is the global average. The study did find variations in viewing habits across countries including residents in Holland who tend to become captivated with a series the fastest.

This study is interesting considering the power consumers have within the platform of online viewing and the omission of endless commercial breaks. Viewing habits have rendered every episode within a season to be a pilot and a potential attraction for consumers, gone are the traditional means of waiting until next week before you found out the answer to a plot twist.

A side note to this lies in the notion of reducing dramatic build up within an episode and replacing it with all action set pieces, after all, production companies would need a hook device in every episode for a consumer base which switches between shows.

Thank you theverge and netflix for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of mashable

 

Need to Get Your Remote Team Collaboration-Ready? Here are 11 Tools

Planning on joining one or maybe building one yourself? Knowing what it takes to make remote teams work is an invaluable asset. From the Clarity blog, Zapier.com and Fast Company, here are some ways you and everyone else on your team could keep in touch throughout the workday:

Blue Jeans

Offering cloud-based video solutions, Blue Jeans has a presence in many international markets, such as UK and Australia. The service is easily available and convenient to use. Because it’s cloud-based, you won’t have to worry about hardware upgrades or hiring IT guys. This will run on any smart phone device. You and your mates won’t have trouble figuring this one out.

Skype

It’s free. So if you and your team want to save up on costs, this is the way to go. Do video calls, voice or text chat with everyone without putting a dent on your company’s pockets. Group call feature lets you have up to 9 people in one call. Better features come with the subscription, like forwarding calls or calling phone directly. But if basic communication is what you had in mind, this one is gold.

Trello

Need an easy way to organize everything? Hand out tasks? Inform your team of a new project? This remains one of the best ones out there. It looks like an online version of a project board, making it easy for everyone on the team what their assignments are for the day. And yes, like many of the great collaboration tools out there, it’s free.

Google Hangouts

Connecting with this one is easy. All you have to do is sign up for a Gmail account and you basically get one. Like Skype, video calling allows for as many as 9 people in one call. However, if your team’s a bit bigger, you may want to look elsewhere. This one’s also free which is a major plus point for small teams that just need an easy way to stay connected.

Huddle

Share and manage files with ease. Keep records and collaborate on projects. Manage the daily task distribution. You can do all these with Huddle. The first 14 days are free. After that, you’ll need to sign up for a subscription.

Basecamp

Create projects, assign tasks, join threads and more. Staying in touch is easy with Basecamp’s features. Every person, project and file is accessible. However, only the first 45 days of the service is free. The next ones will set you back at least $20.

Google Docs

This is one of the best file sharing tools out there. You can organize your docs, spreadsheets, pdfs, epubs and more. Send or receive files without any trouble. The best thing about it is that you and your team can read and edit files in real time. Need to send out a proposal? You won’t have to keep 99 drafts of a single document on your desktop. Google Docs keeps a revision history so reviewing previous versions is easy. Best of all, it’s free.

Slack

Need a virtual office? This one works great. A Slack group chat room can accommodate the entire team. Make sure to explore the channels. However, too many of you in one channel could get too noisy. No worries though if that happens. Simply sectioning off rooms will solve the problem.

Asana

Create projects and send assignments to your team. The ticket history is on there as well so it’s easy to track where the projects are or if one fell through the cracks. Make sure everyone has a steady internet connection though. Also, too many people in one project could slow down Asana. The free version already works great but if you want to explore more options or want to add more of your team, going with the paid version is a great idea.

GoToMeeting

The thing about GoToMeeting is that it’s basic. If you want fashionable, hip and cool, you won’t find it here. But if you and your team of 10 need to do a video call, this one packs solid audio and video quality. If you want to video call 2-3 people, Skype works great. But if you’re 10, this option is better.

f.lux

Working remote often means you work with people on different time zones. That means people work late at night or early in the morning. With f.lux, you won’t have to worry about constantly adjusting your screen—and wasting minutes every day just to get the right tint back for nighttime or early morning work settings. The app adjusts the tint so your eyes can work without the glare.  

These are simply some of the apps and tools you and your team can use to work, stay connected and improve collaboration. You don’t need to use them all. Just make sure to explore your options to find which ones your team will go for.

Hosting Companies Could Be Hit With New DDoS Attack

Denial Of Service (Or DDoS) attacks have become more and more frequent in recent years with the expansion of the internet and the speeds it can deliver information. A denial of service attack is pretty simple, you find the device you wish to disrupt and send as much data as you can to it, this means that the device quickly becomes overwhelmed and unresponsive, this can be anything from your home router to a world championship tournament.

Level 3 Communications is an American telecommunications and internet service provider company and is considered one of the main bodies for internet within the US. Their chief security officer, Dale Drew, has warned that people may have figured out how to abuse Portmap services to conduct a new form of DDoS attack, one which could have the “potential to be very, very bad”.

Portmap is an open source utility used on both Unix and windows systems, meaning that all operating systems will potentially be open to this new kind of attack. Portmap works by mapping a location and port number to essentially bind and access anything from a networked hard drive to accessing your computer from work over the internet. Either way when someone says that these ports are often left open, you can understand why being able to send lots of unwanted information to a home system could become a problem.

When ports are queried they tend to respond with lots of information about the system or just why it’s saying “NO!”. The problem you often have though is that when you get a response, groups are able to redirect this information to other networks, causing the DDoS attack, all the while the information is coming from your average family router at home.

This particular type of attack is aptly called a DDoS amplification attack, as you can probably tell, it will often result in a lot of people being affected, normally by abusing systems which a lot of people don’t realise are doing anything bad.

Level 3 has contacted ISP’s and forwarded details of those running open Portmap servers, hoping that this way they can quickly resolve the issue before it’s abused too much.

Thank you PC World for the information.

Image courtesy of West End Solutions.

Windows 10 can Disable Pirated Games and Unauthorized Hardware

Microsoft updated the “Microsoft Services Agreement” on August 1st, 2015 which prohibits the use of pirated software or unauthorized hardware. The new policy has a revision which clearly states:

“Sometimes you’ll need software updates to keep using the Services. We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.”

“You may also be required to update the software to continue using the Services. Such updates are subject to these Terms unless other terms accompany the updates, in which case, those other terms apply.”

“Microsoft isn’t obligated to make any updates available and we don’t guarantee that we will support the version of the system for which you licensed the software.”

This means Microsoft can disable any software in a database it deems as illegitimate. One could argue that this isn’t a problem to users opting for genuine software and only applies to pirates. However, anti-piracy measures can often be a disaster and takedown genuine pieces of software due to a malfunction. Additionally, unsupported hardware could refer to a motherboard change, or using an unofficial controller. Although, I highly doubt the latter would be true.

Whatever the case, these terms are quite disturbing and emphasizes Windows 10 is more of a service than an operating system. Honestly, I can see this causing a myriad of problems in the future. Even applying game mods or fan-patches could flag as being pirated. Microsoft already adopts a heavy-handed approach with its UAC system and this measure does little to alleviate concerns about snooping.

eBay Shuts Down Their 1-Day Delivery Service

Ebay has been running their eBay Now service since 2012 in selected cities, but not anymore. They are now closing the service and throwing they keys away. It originally started in San Francisco in 2012 and expanded to other regions later on and it was meant as a competition to Amazon’s one-day delivery option.

The eBay Now service was “always intended” as a pilot program according to eBay’s statement and it ran quite long when we consider that. The service showed “encouraging results”, but the marketplace giant will now explore different programs for express delivery instead. They can’t completely abandon something like that for their 25 million sellers and the new methods in work are also said to cover a wider variety of inventory. Ebay will continue to offer in-store pickups in stores such as Best Buy which has proven to be a liked feature. They just can’t compete with Amazon’s Prime offerings in the regard of shipping.

“We’ve found that the types of things that people buy on eBay aren’t necessarily those that are in high demand for same-day delivery, and that same-day options for the most part exclude core eBay sellers who don’t have offline locations,” explained an eBay spokesperson

I for one won’t miss this feature, mainly because it didn’t apply to my geographic location. Even if it did, it wouldn’t bother me as the things I buy on eBay aren’t high-priority and it doesn’t matter if it takes 2 or 3 days to arrive and it looks like I’m not the only one.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Windows 10 Long Term Plan Revealed – Supporting the Operating System For 10 Years

Windows 10 has been the forefront of the big news for Microsoft since its official announcement earlier in the year. After some confusion (okay, a lot of confusion) over who would have immediate access free, what it would entail and especially regarding those running less than legitimate copies of windows 7 any news about the new system has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The latest news about the soon to be released operating system is mostly about how long-term the operating system plans to be. With recent news that windows 10 will force you to download updates automatically (therefore making sure you have the most up to date software) you are now entitled to the free updates for a total of 10 years. That’s right, a full ten years full of customer support regardless of how you’ve acquired your copy of Windows 10. This means that windows 7 and 8 users will be getting a total of 10 years service when the new operating system on July 29th when it’s released.

This means that no matter what, you can expect at least 10 years of security fixes and patches, a feature which XP has stopped receiving and is costing some companies millions to keep the operating system running.

With so many people using outdated and insecure operating systems a lot will be tempted to try out the new system, and 10 years of support will help people believe in promises that this system will not just be replaced within the next few years.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Redmond Magazine.

We Could Be Teaching Computers How and What to Learn in the Near Future

We’ve seen a lot of projects and methods involving machine learning up until now, but the truth is that no matter how efficient and quick a computer is, the software will always be its limit. However, Microsoft plans to change that and is working on a new tool that would allow you to teach computers new things.

There is a lot of information about the project and tool on Microsoft’s website, but let’s get straight to what the Microsoft Research team wants to do. Take a jigsaw puzzle for example, where every piece of it fits somewhere and contributes to the big picture once complete. This seems to be the approach Microsoft hopes people will take, where each jigsaw puzzle piece is created by someone knowledgeable in his or her field. This means that a doctor can teach a computer how to search for specific patient details in a database, while a chef can teach it how to make the best dish according to a recipe.

However, to get a lot of people from different fields together in this project, Microsoft also needs to build the tool as simple and understandable as possible. This means that Microsoft is looking for a way to make the tool more autonomous and offer a simple and understandable user interface. I mean developers know how to use such tools, but they can’t expect a doctor to know how to use a complex development tool.

The tool, named Language Understanding Intelligent Service or LUIS for short, is part of the Oxford Project. Though it still is in its early stages, it may prove to be a strong and useful tool for complex AI development. You can view more details about the project over at Microsoft’s Blog. The tool can also be found over at its website here, but you will need to get an invitation first to try it out.

Image courtesy of Radio1.be

Facebook Wants to Roll Out Their Own Music App

Since Apple released the iOS 8.4 update along with their Apple Music feature, we saw a lot of users taking an interest in it. Reports say that iOS 8.4 now has an adoption rate of over 40% and the number keeps rising. And since Apple has settled with the royalty rates paid to the people in the music industry, things are just looking up for their service.

Facebook looks like it took a big interest in this success and seems to have put its smartphone manufacturing plans on hold. Sources say that Facebook is now looking to either acquire or built their own music service from scratch. Music Ally tells that sources talking off the record say Facebook is using an aggressive monetization approach and a lot of intellectual property acquisitions.

The sources also say that Facebook might have the service, or at least a rough version of it, ready in a few months, but an actual commercial app should be ready by next year. If the latter provides to be true, we might see an even bigger competitor in the music streaming market. So we have Apple taking away a lot of customers as of late, and then Facebook seems to make a move and try to take a big chunk of the market too. The reasonable question to ask is, what will Spotify do? Will it come with something radical, or will it radically die out?

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information

Tumblr TV Is the Latest GIF Video Player on the Web

Tumblr just added a GIF search engine earlier this month and it now launched yet another GIF dedicated feature, namely Tumblr TV. From the looks of it, the feature aims to be a 9GAG.tv service, but for GIFs.

Unlike its GIF search engine, users don’t have to be logged into Tumblr to use the feature. Users will see that the player automatically starts in full-screen mode, but it’s not that great since GIFs tend to have a low resolution.

The feature is called ‘TV’ because it lets users pause, play and navigate to the previous and next GIF. With it, Tumblr says it wants to give users more ways of fiddling with its GIF feature. However, the social media platform doesn’t have integrated sharing options, which means that GIFs cannot be shared on your Twitter or Facebook accounts.

It’s a shame to see Tumblr miss out on further promoting its service through third-party sharing features, but Tumblr hopes this will attract more users to one of its popular ‘exclusive’ features, namely GIFs. The feature is now available on the web, but Tumblr hopes to bring it on the mobile version soon as well. You can view the feature and what it has to offer by clicking the following link.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Tumblr

YouTube Is Getting Ready to Launch Its Own Twitch Rival This Summer

Twitch has been the most appreciated games streaming service available on the market lately. It now has over 35 million unique visitors a month and more than 1.5 million broadcasters. Now YouTube wants to get in on the streaming action by announcing that it will launch a new service dedicated to gamers in the US and UK this summer.

YouTube has announced its own YouTube Gaming app and website, where people can visit to watch, broadcast streams and even search for what they want to find out in games. Google’s video streaming service plans to use its existing YouTube features, such as 60FPS streaming and DVR, along with new features like allowing steamers to share all their streams with one link.

“YouTube Gaming is built to be all about your favorite games and gamers, with more videos than anywhere else. From “Asteroids” to “Zelda,” more than 25,000 games will each have their own page, a single place for all the best videos and live streams about that title. You’ll also find channels from a wide array of game publishers and YouTube creators.” YouTube wrote on their blog.

YouTube Gaming is said to launch this summer in the US and UK and YouTube plans on promoting its new service at E3 next week too. If you’ll be at the event, be sure to check out what YouTube has planned for its Gaming service! If not, head on over to YouTube’s E3 streaming page to find out more.

Image courtesy of YouTube

UK Government Moves from Microsoft

Microsoft has dominated the business market for some time now. This is the case here in the UK, where most if not all government departments use Microsoft’s products in favour of everything else, but that’s about to change according to recent statements from officials.

Her Majesty’s Revenue or Customs, or more commonly known as HMRC, decided to switch from Microsoft products to what Google now has to offer. The change will take place due to the fact that Google has more power over cloud service and it looks like that’s what HMRC needs. This also marks a turning point in business solutions, having HMRC be the first major UK government department to break away from Microsoft services in favour of another competitor.

It is said that the switch will affect over 70,000 employees, who will join another 2,500 Cabinet Office users already on Gmail accounts. Still, there are over 450,000 government employees using Microsoft products, so we won’t see the majority of departments dropping Microsoft’s products overnight. But this does prove that Microsoft is declining in strength over corporate business solutions.

In terms of security, UK government officials seem to trust Google’s own security and ability to keep sensitive information safe on its data centres, but is this a good thing? They seem to think so. However, they should also take into account that mixing cloud storage with sensitive information may not seem a good mix, especially when your tax information is in the middle of it. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Robson Scott Associates

Uber Drivers Can Track You if You Agree

Uber, the car sharing phenomenon that has taken the world by storm; has recently updated its terms and conditions to include a new tracking feature for the drivers. This new tracking will allow swifter and more efficient pick-ups as the driver will always know where you are; it will be more accurate than just placing a pin and hoping for the best.

This follows an external review of Uber’s privacy policy prompted by some PR issues involving customer privacy. “If you recall, some Uber employees used the “God View” tracker embedded in the app to spy on the whereabouts of a Buzzfeed reporter and a high-profile venture capitalist last year. All its corporate employees (but not its drivers) reportedly had access to God View and could monitor a user’s activities. Let’s not forget the time an exec made a remark about hiring a team to dig up personal dirt on journalists that criticize the service, as well.”

Along with those changes, this new privacy update list the kind of data it wants to collect from its customers. It makes very clear that it wants to keep records of your transactions, including frequency, cost, distance travelled, etc… and also gathers some information about your device such as make, model, network, etc. Along with that, Uber also wants to collect data of your contacts to provide targeted marketing to them.

This new update will take place on July 15th, so expect some permission pop-ups. If you decide not to activate the new features; Uber stated that the app will work as it currently does.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.

Make Sure You’re Getting 100% Of Your Internet Connection

Net Neutrality is the concept that all information on the internet is equal, this means that if it’s you sending a message on facebook or someone else in your house playing a game, all the data being sent from your house across the world is treated equally. This concept means companies can’t pick and choose what data is slowed down so other bits of data can get somewhere quicker.

The Internet Health-checker tests your internet connection for just that, by sending random bits of data to locations outside of your internet providers network. This lets it see if there are jumps or bumps in how fast your internet connection is. But you’re not alone, when you test the connection it anonymously compares the data with others from the same provider, letting Fight For The Future check and see what companies, if any, are throttling internet users.

You may think that this is obvious, but some companies and even internet service providers (ISP’s) have made moves so that you or companies can pay for a better connection. The most famous of these examples was Comcast and Netflix, in which Comcast negotiated with Netflix to deliver smoother downloads to its customers in exchange for a small fee. The difference in the connection prior to the agreement and then after can be seen in the graph below.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified the Internet in America in February to prevent actions like this, in which companies could create fast and slow lanes, essentially making customers and internet based companies pay premiums for better speeds, while throttling the connections of people who were not willing to pay for the “premium” bundles.

I welcome any move that helps prevent fast lanes being created on the internet, the concept of reducing someone’s service so you can charge them and others more for a better service seems counter-intuitive to attracting customers to your company, with those found doing this caught and shamed publically online.

What’s your internet health like? Is your consistency high or is there a risk that your ISP is throttling your connection?

Thank you LifeHacker and Battle For The Net for the information.

Images courtesy of InternetHealthTestThe Washington Post and Netflix.