Microsoft Translator Can Now Translate Text From Images

Isn’t it just annoying when you go away on Holiday or spot something and sit there for five minutes wondering what the text even says? Microsoft is looking to make it a little easier on us with a Translator that won’t just do text but can also translate text from images.

While it was available on the Windows Phone since 2010 and managed to provide quick and accurate translations from just looking at a menu. Now the feature is coming to Android (with iOS getting the feature back in February), giving you the ability to quickly load and understand any of the 21 languages the app supports.

The Android app is getting a few other boosters alongside the new feature, with inline translations giving you the ability to hover over text and translate to any of the 50+ online libraries while an additional 30 libraries bring the offline language count to 43 in total.

While Google’s translate app has had the feature since 2012, the fact that even more apps are getting translators built it, for both text and Skype getting to translate calls via its universal translator, it could be only a matter of time before languages online mean nothing but a setting on your PC.

Police In Canada Used BlackBerry’s Key To Read Encrypted BBM Messages

When it comes to mobile phones Blackberry pride themselves on their security, with many companies taking up the device as their go-to model thanks to its support and security features. It now appears that those security features may not have been so secure after all with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gaining the ability to read encrypted BBM messages.

When it comes to encryption, companies are having to be careful with the likes of Apple going to congress to discuss just how much they can be expected to help and support law enforcement without oversight or detailed rulings on how and when they can access private data. In this case, the RCMP gained access to BlackBerry’s BBM (BlackBerry messenger) services by using the encryption that came with your everyday BlackBerry, meaning the only ones that were safe from this interception are those connected to enterprise servers.

If you weren’t connected to an enterprise server, your BlackBerry would have used a peer-to-peer key that is loaded into your phone when it’s built, something that the RCMP managed to gain access to and in turn granted them access to people’s encrypted BBM messages and conversations.

As part of an operating, titled Project Clemenza, the RCMP intercepted and decrypted roughly one million messages as reported by Vice news in a joint investigation with Motherboard, who in turn revealed that the RCMP actually had a server in Ottawa that acted like a mobile phone by simulating “a mobile device that receives a message intended for [the rightful recipient]”.

With BlackBerry looking to step away from mobile devices and into security consulting, this news couldn’t come at any worse of a time given that if the server is still operational (key and all) then without a large update to its phones, the RCMP could still be reading people’s messages to this day even after the operation ended in 2012.

Machine Learning Algorithm Can Tell If You Are Drunk Tweeting

So you’ve had a few drinks and decide it would be a great idea to drunk text someone? The next morning you wake up and check your phone to see several responses which make you swear to never drink again (or at least until the next night out with your friends). The next worst thing? Drunk Tweeting.

Drunk texting is to a certain person, but drunk tweeting will see your message shared around the entire world for all to see. As a response Nabil Hossain at the University of Rochester, New York, has made a machine learning program that can spot drunk tweets.

After collecting thousands of geotagged twitter posts from New York state, the team created a machine learning program that could answer three questions.

  1. Does the tweet make any reference to drinking alcoholic beverages?
  2. If so, is the tweet about the tweeter him/herself drinking alcoholic beverages?
  3. If so, is it likely that the tweet was sent at the time and place the tweeter was consuming alcoholic beverages?

By answering these three questions the machine learning program could tell if you are talking about the past or present drinking and if so what are the chances you were drunk at the time. By getting the program to learn from 80% of their collected tweets, the machine learning algorithm was able to correctly identify the remaining 20% of tweets as drunk tweets 82-92% of the time.

By then adding “home detection” to the equation, Hossain was able to calculate who preferred to drink at home or out in the city using the geotagging information. Sadly the system won’t be able to spot and stop you drink tweeting next time you have a glass or two but maybe it could in the future.

Snooper Charter Powers are Increasingly Worrying

Security is one thing, from a virus on your phone or PC to a coordinated breach and remote access that compromises your computer. While we may not want to believe them, they are the things that happen more than anyone would want and as such, people are employed to look out for any risks and report and maybe even fix them. Security researchers are essential in the world where our digital security is as important to many as locking your door. So what does the new law that the UK government want enforced mean for you? For one it’s more than often known as the Snooper Charter, and its powers could be a problem for security researchers and even you.

The typical process for security researchers upon finding a backdoor, something that can give anyone access to your system, is to check your findings with colleagues and make sure that it is, in fact, a security risk, then to alert your client, normally the creator of the software or the owner of it at least. They then report it, get a fix out and then you can reveal to the world that they need to update in order to receive this fix.
Under the snooper charter, though, even so much as revealing a backdoor could be punishable with up to 12 months in jail or a fine. For someone who spends their life finding these flaws, the risk of you exposing one created by the government, could put you not only out of a job but also out of work for good.

If that wasn’t enough, intercepting information, equipment interference (hacking) and retaining communications data would also be protected under gag orders, including those for bulk communications data collection, such as all the emails sent from your home IP.

Granting access to all your information, without having to provide anything for scrutiny. This is made all the worse by that fact that even in talking to your MP, to prove someone innocent of a crime they were falsely accused for or even in the court when you’re being charged using this information, it would become illegal to even disclose that these tactics were used to obtain the information.

With these powers and the charter as it is, not only would the government and agencies have abilities to access and obtain information with little oversight, but you would be unable to discuss or reveal that these activities even took place.

U.S. Judge Tried to Bribe FBI Agent with Beer for Text Messages

We’ve all heard the stories, governments and agencies using every method under the sky for obtaining information. Although, I think this is the first time that I’ve heard someone try to obtain information by offering beer, at least that’s what Wayne County Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones is accused on.

According to initial reports, the judge asked the FBI official to obtain the text messages of two phone numbers on the 27th October, with it being clearly outlined by offering a few cases of beer for the action. The next issue arrived on November 3rd, when the Judge stated the had the FBI agents “paycheck” in his back seat. It was then changed to $100 and in return the agent provided a disk that was meant to contain the text messages from the two numbers. The judge was then arrested the next day and release without bond.

The total sentence for the three crimes committed is set at 37 years, with two charges of bribing a public official and one for attempted corruption of an official proceeding.

Do you think that sentence is a little too lenient? Clearly he could have gotten away with it if he had offered the Agent a new Apple Watch or maybe a Drone.

Image courtesy of JMIR.

California’s Legal System Now Supports Digital Privacy

In recent years, there has been a big uproar courtesy of a certain reveal by a man named Edward Snowden, regarding digital privacy. To be more precise, it was about the lengths that groups went to in order to avoid any legal requirements when it came to accessing and using your personal information. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act looks to be the first, and hopefully the first of many, to enforce a legal right to digital privacy.

Governor Gerry Brown signed the Act taking it into full effect and I have no doubt that a wide variety of people will be happy about it. The Electronics Communications Privacy Act states that any, I repeat, any state law enforcement agency or any other investigative entity are required to have a warrant in order to obtain digital information (including information stored in the cloud, such as emails or text messages) and that they cannot ‘compel’ businesses to hand over this information without a warrant. It doesn’t end there though if they want to use your GPS to track you or even to search your phone, they will need a warrant for that too.

While not the first to outline in a legal document the requirement of a warrant for your data, or even your location, it is the first to cover things like metadata and your device searches. Many hope that this could be the first of many laws, with other states taking up their own versions of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act or pushing for these conditions to be placed on a national scale, affecting all agencies regardless of state.

Thank you Wired for the information.

Image courtesy of Falkvinge

SoftMaker Office 2016 Suite Launched in the UK

There aren’t that many office suites on the market, but there are few. There is the big Microsoft Office, Open and Libre Office, and then there is SoftMaker Office that often is referred to as the real alternative to Microsoft’s offer. The newest version is out and available in the UK too, SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows.

SoftMaker Office 2016 doesn’t need a lot of storage space on your system which is particular useful on systems with smaller capacity NAND storage at their disposal and it offers fast speeds even on older systems with less advanced hardware. Best of all, it is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Office so you won’t run into file compatibility issues. It can both be used directly from a USB drive or be installed from it, allowing you a real plug and play where ever you go.

The new version boasts 400 improvements over the previous version and comes with more advanced features. It won’t cost you as much as a Microsoft Office either as you’ll only have to pay £50.15 for the SoftMaker Office Standard 2016 edition. The standard edition includes office tools TextMaker, PlanMaker, and Presentations as well as customized Thunderbird email client and calendar tool with SoftMaker enhancements. Each box comes with three licenses to be used for home and business and it is fully compatible with all versions of Windows.

There is also an advanced version called SofMaker Office Professional 2016 which is available for £64.50 or as update costs of €43. This version adds high-quality Berlitz Translation Dictionaries for English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

You can read a lot more on the official page if you’re tempted to make the switch to another office suite or looking to upgrade. Below you’ll is a list of the key highlights in this new 2016 version:

  1. Full compatibility with Microsoft Office: SoftMaker has redesigned the file filters, optimising quality and speed. This provides the highest compatibility possible with both current and older generations of Microsoft Office – both in the modern XML formats DOCX, XLSX and PPTX as well as the older binary formats DOC, XLS and PPT. SoftMaker Office now opens many Microsoft Office files much faster than Microsoft Office and can even edit some older Microsoft files which Microsoft Office 2013 is unable to open.
  2. Lightning fast even on slower machines: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows needs little storage space and is by far the fastest Office suite, making it an ideal choice especially for slower laptops and Windows 8 tablets.
  3. Portability: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows can be installed on USB sticks. This lets you take your personal office with you, wherever you go. Just plug and play.
  4. Administrative ease: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows can be installed in corporate networks automatically via GPO and SCCM, allowing easy deployment across large installations.
  5. Powerful: The new version of the PlanMaker spreadsheet program supports up to a million rows, letting users analyse data with pivot tables, scenarios and data consolidation. It offers conditional formatting with the same functionality as Excel 2016.
  6. Unique: TextMaker is a word processor with unique desktop-publishing features. These include master pages, an object mode that separates the text editing from the graphics layer, real-time preview of formatting and text wrapping to produce professional and finished documents.
  7. New PDF and EPUB export: Users can now create high-quality PDF files (including PDF tags, comments and bookmarks), and e-books in the ePub format directly from SoftMaker Office.
  8. Productive: SoftMaker Office 2016 for Windows includes customised versions of Mozilla‘s Thunderbird (email client) and Lightning (calendar software). This email client comes with practical, productivity-enhancing functions such as lightning-fast email moving and navigation in the folder structure. The new Thunderbird 38 included in SoftMaker Office 2016 offers important functional improvements, such as being able to store email folders in Maildir format, allowing users to circumvent the 4-gigabyte limit per folder. Gmail users will also be pleased to see that they no longer need to reduce Google’s security levels to access Gmail from Thunderbird, thanks to built-in native OAuth2 authentication in Thunderbird 38.
  9. Completely Customisable: Numerous improvements have been made to SoftMaker’s presentation programme – Presentations. The table function has been completely redesigned, a new full-screen mode added, and the software comes complete with sophisticated charting capabilities.

“Text Walking Lanes” Introduced in Antwerp

Are you fed up of being stuck behind slow walking people who are more interested in staring at their phone that looking where they are going? Or perhaps you’re more interested in starting at your phone and you’re fed up of fast walking people barging past you while you’re trying to like your friends dank memes on Facebook? Either way, you’re going to love and possibly also hate these new text walking lanes!

The lanes were simply painted onto the street, giving those texting a slight safer route to walk though. The lanes were created by Mlab, who say they repair up to 35,000 mobiles a day, many of which are broken by collisions while text-walking. That sounds odd to me though, surely this would hurt their business?

An Mlab spokesperson says: “everyone textwalks. You probably walk through the streets while texting or sending Whatsapp messages to your friends and don’t really pay attention to your surroundings, only to whatever is happening on your screen. This causes collisions with poles or other pedestrians. You could, unknowingly, even be endangering your own life while you ‘textwalk’ when you cross the street without looking up.”

I’m not sure I support this idea entirely, it seems like a PR stunt, albeit one where I can’t quite grasp what is being sold. A simpler solution would be to look where you are going. After all, even the woman in the picture above isn’t paying attention to where the lane actually is.

Could FutureMUD Revitalize Text-Based Gaming?

source: orcs.biz

FutureMUD has been something I, personally, have been excited about for years and to hear that the first working demonstration is coming makes me drool in anticipation!

MUDs, or Multi-User Domains, are primarily text-based real-time virtual worlds that are generally used for Role-Playing Games. The technology is certainly nothing new, having seen early origins in the late 1970’s, but they are still used today with a dedicated fan base of thousands of players. Many players who use MUDs consider them to be extremely expansive with the amount of freedom that you can do in a game which isn’t limited by graphical budget and taxing developer effort. Whereas modern games would require a developer to design an animation to illustrate your character to do something like leaning against a wall, if you want your character to lean against a wall in a MUD, you merely have to type it. The only real limitation in MUDs, due to the freedom of text, is your imagination.

As a previous developer of text-based games myself, I find that the ability to describe a world in infinite detail to be unparalleled even though I thoroughly enjoy the aesthetic and flow of most modern games. To be able to freely control a character, only limited by the game’s rules, is something that today’s video games simply cannot do. Text-based development does require a bit of knowledge in computer sciences, however, as you have to program certain tasks yourself in the eventuality that the engine (of which there are multiple choices) doesn’t have baseline coding support for what you’re wanting to accomplish.

FutureMUD, however, aims to appeal to the game developer in a way that reduces the ease of use by having customizable, modular design without going into the code. Another design philosophy that is listed in their Mission Statement as a primary goal is to have exceptional – if a little ambitious and optimistic – stability.

“To have stability and speed – a crash, if it occurred, should scare the hell out of the staff and players because it’s so unheard of.” – Japheth

FutureMUD’s development officially started with a dedicated forum back in 2014, but the talk of the project has been on-going since at least 2010. The developers are working toward a May 9th release of LabMUD, which will be the first testing iteration to demonstrate the capabilities of the engine. More importantly, it is a milestone leading up to a working Alpha release for developers to play with. As someone without much coding experience, this is something I’ve been wanting to see finally come to fruition in a MUD Engine. I would love to see many more developers and players alike in this old school style of gaming and I think the world is ready for it to happen.

Do you play text-based games? Have you ever been interested in them? Post in the comments below!

Microsoft “Office Lens” Document Scanner App for Android Beta Released

Microsoft just released the Android beta app for “Office Lens”, an app that allows you to capture notes, business cards, receipts, and other printed material to be saved as a digital file. The app can also capture things like whiteboards and save them as a digital file, a useful tool for capturing meeting notes in the office.

The written text will be recognized with OCR, transforming what was written into text that you can edit. Using the app is very simple, and to start you just open the app and use the camera to capture your image.  The app takes care of the rest by framing, cropping, and enhancing the image. The resulting file can be saved to your gallery, Word, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, or as a PDF. To get started with the app you will need to join the beta community on Google+ and sign up to test the app.

Source: Android Police

President Obama Has the Power to Text Everyone in the US at Any Time

US President Barack Obama has the power to mass-message every American citizen with a phone whenever he deems necessary, the Wall Street Journal has revealed.

All modern phones on sale in the US contain a smart chip that allows messages from the President to be delivered under any circumstances. Due to an extension of the Emergency Alert Network in 2012, all phone manufacturers are required to include the chip by law.

Any message sent as a Presidential emergency alert isn’t strictly a text, and is only sent to phones within a specific geographic area. Though that area could conceivably include the whole of the US, it is unlikely except in the most extreme of circumstances. The messages cannot be opted out of; they are compulsory.

Source: Gizmodo

WhatsApp Involved in Almost Half of All Italian Divorces

A new article by GlobalPost says that nearly half of all divorce proceedings in Italy refer to WhatsApp.

The Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers told the publication that WhatsApp is cited more so than any other source of information that acts as the cause of a divorce. They say that partners more than often find evidence of infidelity via snooping on their other half’s sent and received messages in the app.

“No one is saying WhatsApp is the cause of the divorces,” says Gian Ettore Gassani, president of the Matrimonial Lawyers group. “The leading cause is infidelity, but WhatsApp is now the most common way for one partner to discover infidelity in the other.”

Interestingly, they also say that men more so than women are the ones that get caught out due to WhatsApp, as females are more quick to delete sensitive messages than males.

“Men are most likely to save messages or photos from lovers they can go back to,” Gassani says. “Women are more likely to take one look and then delete.”

The article is an interesting look into the blend of traditional Italian attitudes towards infidelity with modern communication technology.

Source: GlobalPost

World Record Broken With Fleksy Keyboard – Twice

Brazilian Teenager, Marcel Fernandes has broken the Guinness world record for the fastest typing of a text message on a touch-screen mobile phone. Twice.

Fernandes typed “the razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human” in 18.19 seconds back in May using Fleksy for Android. Now he’s beaten his own record, typing the same message in 17.00 seconds this time using Fleksy for iOS.

Source: MacRumors

Apple Releases a Tool to Remotely Deregister iPhones from iMessage

 

 

Got rid of your iPhone and you’ve found you’re not receiving text messages from friends? No problem, as Apple quietly released a tool yesterday that makes solving the problem a lot easier.

Ever since Apple introduced iMessage in iOS 5, people have complained about text messages from other iPhone users not being delivered to their new non-Apple phones at all. The problem stemmed from the fact that those who didn’t remove iMessage from their old devices after getting rid of them, still had text messages from other iOS devices being routed to that phone. So even if their number was now registered to an Android phone, Apple’s servers still associated that number with an iMessage account, meaning texts would be sent to the iMessage server instead of the Android phone.

Early on in the history of iMessage, this problem didn’t only cause frustration, it also caused some rather big privacy concerns, after it was found that some users had their text messages routed to a new owner, or even worse, a thief.

The only way to fix this prior to now, was to go through the hassle of completely deregistering the iPhone from your Apple ID. This new system provides a handy webpage in which users only have to enter the phone number associated with iMessage to solve the problem. You’ll be sent a confirmation code to that phone number, with which you then enter on the site, making your worries about disappearing text messages a thing of the past.

Source: The Verge

OkCupid Follows in Facebook’s Footsteps, Admits to be Experimenting on Humans

After the Facebook fiasco and their little research on human behaviour, it seems that its time for OkCupid, the online dating service, to do the same. The service is said to have admitted that it too had manipulated what is shows users in order to see what would happen.

Three examples of the experiment are said to have been posted by OkCupid’s co-founder, Christian Rudder, in an article entitled “We Experiment On Human Beings!”. It can be viewed over at the site’s OkTrends blog.

“OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing,” said Rudder. “Neither does any other website. It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”

It is said that when talking about Facebook and its experiment that involved manipulating users’ news feeds in order to study their real-life reactions, Rudder stated the following:

“Guess what, everybody,” he says, “if you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”

The first experiment is said to have happened in January 2013, when the website removed all user images and called it “Love is Blind Day”. The user count is said to have been low on that day, but those who were online proved to have responded 44% more often to messages.

The second one involved the user’s rating, a score given to them by other users. Rudder attempted to see how much the user’s profile image counts when rating someone by presenting a small subset of users with their profile text hidden. He stated to have found that only 10% of the typical user’s score is based on what they write about themselves, while 90% is based on the profile image.

The final experiment is stated to have been more “controversial”, having OkCupid tweak with the users’ “match” rating. It is basically used to show people’s “compatibility” rating based on the information given by the user.

“In the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?” Rudder stated

OkCupid has then tweaked the compatibility ratings for most of its users and noticed how many single messages led to a full conversation. The experiment noted that most users do not talk to each other due to the low compatibility ration, for example 20% or 30%. Change those to a 90% and it seems that ‘weird things happen’.

All in all, what Facebook and OkCupid did are far from ethical, but it still underlines a solid truth in all. When information is available on the internet, we tend to trust it more than we trust ourselves. Do we really need a webpage or app to tell us who to love or what to believe in?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Guardian

Jaguar Working on Self-Learning Smart Car Personal Assistant

There have been a lot of talks about smart cars and their ability to make driving a lot safer suing self-driving technologies in order to eliminate human distractions and error from roads. There will even be a time where drivers can even send text messages, video call and browse the internet, but that time is still far away. Until then, Jaguar seems to have designed a piece of tech of its own for the Land Rover to make driving a lot safer, namely the Smart Assistant.

It is said that the Smart Assistant is able to identify the driver of the car based on a smartphone and learns his or her driving style and in-vehicle habits. The information is then ran through an algorithm which keeps track of background information, such as your calendar, traffic conditions and current weather, in order to predict and handle a variety of non-essential tasks. The Smart Assistant even starts before the driver enters the car, adjusting the seat, mirrors and steering wheel based on the individual’s likings.

Once the Smart Assistant learns the driver’s behavior behind the wheel, it can then handle tasks and perform small vehicle adjustments. For example, if a person calls his or her boss each morning, the Smart Assistant is said to ask you if it can initiate a call with your boss. The same goes when running late for work, having the Personal Assistant prompting if you would like to send a text message and notify about you being late.

There are a variety of activities which Jaguar’s Personal Assistant could help you behind the wheel, though the company states that the technology is currently in the works with no known release date planned. An interesting and unique feature present in the Personal Assistant’s design plans is the fact that Jaguar intends to make the tech cloud-based, meaning that if you want to rent a Jaguar when abroad on a business trip, it will still have your personal preferences available and in effect as soon as the car is available to drive.

Thank you Gizmag for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmag

Huawei Reported To Be Selling High-End Smartphones Via Messaging App

The increased competition of smartphone manufacturers in China has apparently resulted in companies approaching unique marketing techniques. For example, Xiaomi is said to have success with its ‘Hunger Marketing’ technique, having customers pre-register their interest in a handset in order to grab the e-mail addresses of potential buyers. As soon as the particular handset hits the spotlight, a limited number is manufactured and sold. This is how the company recently sold an estimated 10,000 Xiaomi Redmi Note phablets in less than a second.

Networking and telecom manufacturer Huawei apparently has its own tactics. Sources indicate that the company is apparently using popular messaging application WeChat as a channel to sell its Huawei Honor 6 handset. The device is said to boast an Octa-Core processor, a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, as well as a 13 MP back camera and 5MP front camera.

The company previously used only local carriers to sell its handsets, but due to the increased competition, it is hoping to widen the distribution of its products using the WeChat app. The application, which is said to be in partnership with Chinese e-commerce company JD, has apparently hosted a competition in which the lucky winner was awarded with a Huawei Honor 6. The rules appeared to have been simple as well, having competitors guess the price of the handset in question. The winner would have had to answer ¥1999 / $322, the actual price of the Huawei Honor 6 handset.

Huawei is said to have 8% of the Chinese market, placing it on the 6th position in the country. This is due to change in the future, providing that the partnership between the company and WeChat app is successful. WeChat is said to have over 400 million users, having it be used as a text and voice messaging app, a gaming app and even a cab hailing app. Reports show that an update last year has even added a payment system, something which Huawei is attempting to exploit. Also, Huawei might have been the first to use this type of marketing camping, but it most certainly will not be the last.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information

EE to Offer Voice Calls, Text Messaging via Wi-Fi

UK wireless carrier EE is launching a program for subscribers to make voice calls and send text messages over Wi-Fi, promising sound quality better than what’s provided by Skype.

The company has invested upwards of £275 million to try to eliminate white spots throughout the UK. Many customers living and working in parts of the UK with poor phone coverage complained about the inability to receive calls and text messages.

The Wi-Fi calling is scheduled to launch this call, EE confirmed in a press statement. In addition, here is what Fotis Karonis, EE Chief Technology Officer, said:

“Our Wi-Fi calling capability will let customers make calls where they have access to Wi-Fi but not to the mobile network. The customer experience is seamless because it’s the same as making a network call and uses the normal call interface of the handset. This is a major part of our strategy to invest in giving customers the ability to make a call wherever they are, and we’re confident that this service can make a big difference to people in homes and large offices across the country, especially in the most rural areas, that don’t have mobile coverage.”

It’s a clever offering from EE, understanding that clients living in areas with poor 2G, 3G or 4G network coverage still should have the ability to make and receive dependable phone calls.

Thank you to EE for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Bristol Bulletin

Wi-Fi Calling Software Makes Its Way Into Two Sprint Handsets, More To Come

When smartphones and Wi-Fi found themselves packed in the same handset, Wi-Fi calling has been the most impressive thing which made T-Mobile stand out of the crowd in the US. That was back in 2007, however it looks like Sprint has its eyes on the same thing and started offering convenient perks to subscribers around the US.

Wi-Fi calling and text messaging is completely free of charge and can be used on any Wi-Fi network the handset connects to. This could be very useful when you are indoors, where your phone’s reception is not adequate for making any calls. However, the downside is the range of devices, having only two options at the moment.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the Galaxy Mega are said to be the first two handsets to support the feature at first, followed by other handsets in the future. It’s not that great compared to T-Mobile which has a wide array of handsets, however T-Mobile also has 7 years of experience in this domain. It is interesting to see the outcome in the future though.

For owners of the latter Sprint handsets, a software update needs to be downloaded before using the Wi-Fi service. Once downloaded, owners need to go to the handset’s Apps folder and select ‘Wi-Fi Calling’ to switch to the service from cellular network. Sprint has also mentioned to look forward to new handsets being added to the list by the end of this year.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Russian Snowboarder’s iPhone Crashes After Receiving 2000+ Messages During Olympics

We now know that an iPhone has its limits in terms of text messages, thanks to Russian Olympic snowboarder, Alexey Sobolev, who wrote his phone number on his helmet and wore it during a run.

Now I know everyone would ask why on earth did he do that. Well, some may think that he was bored, but an obvious reason would be to get admirers, especially female ones. In the end he got what he wanted, more than he was expecting even. He go over 2000 text messages from people all around the world.

And this is the most interesting part though. It is said that when he tried to respond to one of his admirers, his iPhone crashed. Now how about that? You really do have a limit it seems. Luckily though, he was able to to start it again and all was fine.

However, the stunt did not go unnoticed, since he was banned by the committee from showing his number again on the next run and had to cover it up. No matter though, because his number is already out there, generating virtual tears for his iPhone, which is expected to be flooded by messages in the following days.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Phonearena

BBM Messenger Gets Find Friends Feature, Helps Find Nearby Friends To Add

BlackBerry is improving its popular BBM for iOS and Android, and we all know it since the company just launched an update for both platform recently. A new feature has been introduced as well, coming by the name of Find Friends.

That the feature does is it searches for nearby friends that use the BBM client as well, and if it finds them, you can then choose to send them your PIN through an invitation. It is not something that revolutionary, since other applications such as WhatsApp or Viber have something similar, but it will be a nice addition for those of you that want to know exactly who is using the app and not flood all your friends who don’t use the app.

But of course, for those who still want to nag their friends into joining BBM Messenger, an email and SMS invitation feature will also be present which will give a link to the respective iOS, Android or BlackBerry store to download the app.

After the BBM Messager receives the update, the Find Friends feature will appear the first time you launch the application, and afterwards you can find the feature in the “Invites” tab menu, which can be tapped and accessed from the bottom menu bar.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information

Unlimited Roaming In The U.S. For Just $15? Wind Mobile Says Yes!

Are you a businessman or just travel frequently to the U.S.? Ever been in the position not to have an active internet connection, being cut out and desperately trying to find a working Wi-Fi hotspot? This might be a great news for you then. Wind Mobile, the Canadian wireless telecommunication provider, has just released a service of great interest.

Wind Mobile just released an offer for unlimited data roaming in the U.S. for just $15 additional per month starting from Monday, February the 3rd. Adding this roaming package gives you unlimited talk and text but also data in the U.S., a pretty big deal for anyone who travels with any frequency and has been hit with big roaming bills. Even with this additional $15 add-on, Wind’s plans will still be very competitively priced to the other carriers.

Wind has a small customer base and is often struggling to make itself relevant as the fourth-place carrier in Canada, so this may just be a good bump to pick up some additional subscribers. And given the relatively small number of roaming deals currently available from Canadian and U.S. carriers alike, they always want to see at least one making a step in this direction. And the price is not so bad given the ‘unlimited’ subscription package name.

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

NSA Reportedly Snoops Millions Of Text Messages With The Dishfire Program

NSA has been reportedly using SMS messaging to extract data on location, contact networks and credit card details of mobile users. British spies were given access by the NSA to search the collected “metadata”, information about the text messages but not the actual contents, of British citizens.

The Guardian and Channel 4 have reported that the program, codenamed Dishfire, collects every data it can from the handsets and sends it back to the NSA for processing. It works by collecting and analysing automated text messages such as missed call alerts or texts sent to inform users about international roaming charges. It is also said that the project can work out phone users’ credit card numbers using texts from banks.

“All of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with the strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate and that there is rigorous oversight,” the statement cited.

The statement is taken from an internal NSA presentation from 2011 on the Dishfire program and papers from the GCHQ facility. The report comes a day before US President Barack Obama is due to give a long-awaited speech proposing curbs on NSA phone and internet data dragnets exposed by fugitive intelligence contractor Snowden.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

PrivatOS-powered Blackphone To Debut At MWC, Focuses On Security And Encryption

Reports say that Silent Circle and Geeksphone have started talking about a project to create a “Blackphone”, a handset dedicated to protecting the user’s privacy. The device is reported to be carrier and vendor independent, have the ability to make and receive phone calls securely, as well as transfer storage files, send and receive test messages, and perform video calls without compromising user privacy, while also having the ability to anonymize activity with the help of VPN.

The handset will be powered by the PrivatOS operating system, an Android custom build that focuses on security. There will be no major difference other than security related to the Android build, and will still have the same experience as a normal Android version. The handset is also said to be factory unlocked, meaning it will not be restricted to any carrier, and will have the tools users need to stay on the move, carry out business, and keep in touch with others while blocking out snoops, pre-installed.

Nothing is truly secure however, even for what Blackphone is trying to achieve. Its communications principle is based on both the sender and recipient of having an encrypted device and client. If a recipient should use an email client to which government spies might have access, for instance, it would render the privacy functions of Blackphone obsolete.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/84167384[/vimeo]

No pricing has been made available up to this point, but Silent Circle and Geeksphone are said to reveal the Blackphone handset at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February the 24th and will start receiving pre-orders for the handset on the same day.

Thank you Tech News World for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Fonearena

3D Printed Toys Made Their Way To 4,000 Disadvantaged Children This Christmas

3D printing has been one of the biggest trends of last year. Just about anything could be printed out, from guns to smartphone motherboards. It has been one of the most favourable tech discoveries form all times, and very useful indeed. Although the full extent of its usefulness cannot be measured at the moment, it did however made a big difference for 2013’s Christmas.

According to a BBC News article, the charity Kids Company made use of the 3D printing technology to print out toys for disadvantaged children. They had their doors opened for everyone to come and see how toys are made live, and maybe donate if they were generous enough, in Soho, London. The duration of the fund raising event spanned from December 13th up until December 18th, where people visiting the event could donate via text message and even choose the next toy design afterwards from six toy design templates.

World-famous animators Aardman, the people behind the nation’s much-loved Wallace and Gromit characters, have lent their support to the cause and have created two exclusive and limited edition toy designs for the event. The other toy designs have been made by companies Tado, Triclops, and Ultimaker.

After the fund-raising event, all toys were taken to the Kids Company Christmas party event by Santa, where 4,000 children enjoyed Christmas and opened up presents.

Thank you BBC UK and 3D Printing Insider for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of BBC UK

Hidden Features Of The Windows Phone 8

Your Windows Phone 8 lets you do much more than place calls, access a handful of websites, and play with rinky-dink apps. When you know how to get the most out of your Windows Phone 8, you will find that it helps you do everything from increase your productivity to help you have more fun online.

Location To Text

 

Image via Nokia Gadgets

The Windows Phone 8 includes one of the newest features in messaging, location to text. Let’s say your best friend recently moved into a new house and your sense of direction is as horrible as mine. I mean, you are the kind of person that requires the assistance of their GPS system to go everywhere. So your friend sends you a text message and along with the text message, your Windows Phone 8 attaches a little map. You click on the map, and then hit the “Drive” button and immediately you are on your way. There’s no longer a need to remember addresses or ask the stranger at the gas station for directions.

Mobile Casino & Xbox SmartGlass

 

Image via Spin Palace

You might not have time to take a trip to Monaco or Las Vegas, but you can use your Mobile Phone 8 to play real-money games online. Online casinos like Spin Palace have traditional games like Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and Baccarat as well as exciting new options like video poker and online slots. Playing casino games online lets you have fun, but it also lets you earn money. What’s better than having a blast while you add cash to your bank account?

Don’t bother playing games with crummy graphics and boring plots. Your Windows Phone 8 lets you play Xbox Live games no matter where you go. Xbox Live includes plenty of free games for Windows Phone 8. You can also purchase inexpensive options like the classic Sonic the Hedgehog game for under $5. Best of all, your Xbox Live profile lets you keep track of the scores you earn at home and on your mobile device. When you connect with friends on the go, you still get to gloat about demolishing their best attempts at games like Super Monkey Ball 2 and AlphaJax. Xbox SmartGlass is a great feature for the gamer that hates to be away from his/her Xbox 360 for more than a five hours. With this feature you can stream music and webpages from your Window Phone 8 to your Xbox. SmartGlass also includes additional features for movies and games that otherwise might not be available.

The Power Of Office Hub & Sky Drive

 

Image via Revoseek

The operating system that comes with your Windows Phone 8 includes 7GB of free SkyDrive storage. This lets you upload files to the cloud, where and access them whenever you want from your phone or other devices. You can even share photos, videos, and other files with your friends. If you need more space, then sign up for a 100GB account. This option works well for people who take a lot of video. With 100GB of space, you could even store a whole movie.

Students, professionals, and amateurs rely on Microsoft Office to do everything from creating spreadsheets to typing dissertations. Before Windows Phone 8, though, you had pretty limited options. If you were the type who got inspiration from new surroundings, then you were out of luck. Office caused you to be tethered to a desk. Windows Phone 8 changes that completely by letting you create Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on the go. When you make these documents through the latest version of Office Hub, they will look exactly the same when you open them on other devices. If you are worried about the icons in PowerPoint, Word or Excel being too small, don’t. Microsoft took that in consideration when programming and designing the Windows Phone. Every aspect of these programs was perfectly rendered to work with the touch of your finger. That’s the assurance you need when you have to present important information to your boss or a group of potential investors. OfficeHub also includes a translator feature and has fifty different built-in languages.

Song Recognition

 

Image via Gizmodo

I am a huge music fan, it’s one of the two things I require in my life in order to make it throughout the day, and the second is food. The Windows Phone 8 includes a free app that allows unlimited music recognition, SoundHound. Imagine you are driving around town with your best friend and a new song comes on the radio. After the song ends, your first thought is, what was the name of that song again? With SoundHound, you can play the song loud enough for your phone to pick it up and the app will bring up the artist, album and title of the song within seconds. It is the “world’s only viable singing and humming recognition app.” As an added bonus, you also have the option of viewing the lyrics, it also makes it easier to stalk your favorite band or musician by incorporating Facebook and Twitter updates.

In a market saturated with over priced technology, the Windows Phone 8 is actually a mobile device that has not been over-hyped. The product is worth the price tag.