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Technology News and Analysis
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Chinese government forces Xinjiang residents to install spyware on their mobiles
China's control of the internet is no secret and the government's latest encroachment into people's lives sees residents of the north-west Xinjiang -- a largely Muslim area -- being forced to install surveillance software on their phones, sparking privacy concerns. Notifications were sent out recently informing mobile users that they had just 10 days to download and install the Jingwang spyware. Random checks are now being carried out on the street to ensure that citizens have the app installed. Anyone found without the software faces up to 10 days in jail. The Chinese government describes the app as a piece… [Continue Reading]
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Microsoft launches LinkedIn Lite in India ahead of a wider rollout
Just like Facebook did with Facebook Lite and Facebook Messenger Lite, Microsoft is launching a cut-down, data-sipping version of LinkedIn for mobile users. LinkedIn Lite launches in India initially, and is designed for countries with limited mobile internet access. This is an app designed for emerging markets, and as such it is Android-only; there are no plans for an iOS version. While LinkedIn Lite is starting out its life in India, it will eventually spread to a further 60+ countries. Microsoft has not revealed much about the future timeline for LinkedIn Lite, but a spokesperson speaking to TechCrunch has confirmed… [Continue Reading]
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NSA says it is 'not the best time' to create a US-Russia cyber unit
When Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin, the pair apparently discussed the idea of the two nations forming an "impenetrable Cyber Security unit." It's an unlikely partnership, to say the least, and NSA Director Mike Rogers has voiced his disapproval of the move. Given the, erm, interesting relationship between the US and Russia, the controversy surrounding Russia's possible hacking of the last election, and Trump's ongoing problems defending himself over rumored Russian ties, it's perhaps little surprise that the NSA chief says "now is probably not the best time" for the two superpowers to work together on such a project.… [Continue Reading]
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Attendees to disastrous Pokémon GO Fest refunded with PokéCoins and Lugia
Yesterday, Grant Park in Chicago was packed with thousands of Pokémon fans. People of all ages attended the Pokémon GO Fest in the hope of catching ultra-rare Pokémon at the special event, but things did not go well. A series of technical glitches meant that game-creator Niantic was forced to cancel the event. The large number of attendees led to network issues which could not be resolved, causing anger and annoyance among fans. As part of its compensation offer, the company is giving festival-goers $100 of Pokémon GO's in-game currency, Pokecoins. On top of this, attendees will all be given… [Continue Reading]
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All the features Microsoft is removing or deprecating in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
Each new big update for Windows 10 introduces a wealth of new features. The forthcoming Fall Creators Update will be no different, delivering lots of improvements as well as new components like OneDrive Files On-Demand, and My People. But when Microsoft giveth, it also taketh away, dropping various features and functionalities from its new build. In preparation for the release of the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has released the full list of features that will be removed or deprecated from the new version. Removed features 3D Builder app No longer installed by default. Consider using Print 3D and Paint 3D… [Continue Reading]
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No, Google is not about to redesign its iconic minimalist homepage
A few days ago Google announced plans to update its iOS and Android apps. The update sees the arrival of algorithm-powered feeds that display a personalized stream of content.  Note the reference to Apple and Google’s mobile platforms. This story was widely reported in the tech press, but the Guardian decided to take things further, claiming that Google was on the verge of unveiling a "radical" change to it homepage on the desktop. The story is seemingly plucked out of thin air, as Google has made no such suggestion. In fact, the company has spoken out to refute the claim.… [Continue Reading]
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Verizon's 'video optimization' test throttles Netflix and YouTube
Verizon Wireless customers complained this week that the company was throttling Netflix traffic. With talk of net neutrality ringing in their ears, people were upset to find that download speeds were capped at 10Mbps. When Netflix denied implementing a cap, the finger of suspicion pointed at Verizon. Now the company has owned up to testing a new "video optimization" system, but it's not clear how this resulted in the cap-like effects experienced by many users. Verizon Wireless customers found that using Netflix's own speed testing tool revealed a maximum transfer rate of 10Mbps. However, once a VPN was introduced, this… [Continue Reading]
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UK government proposes mandatory drone registrations and safety awareness tests
The UK government has announced plans to force private drone owners to register their devices as well as passing a safety awareness test -- a drone driving test essentially. The rules would affect drones weighing more than 250g and they come in response to an increasing number of near-misses between drones and aircraft. The Civil Aviation Authority’s Airprox Board investigated no fewer than 22 incidents between drones and commercial aircraft in the first four months of the year, but police currently have a near-impossible task when it comes to tracing owners of drones that have been flown dangerously. Research has… [Continue Reading]
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Bank of England supports FinTech startups
The Bank of England has allowed access to settlement accounts in the real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), the media reported this week. Apparently, this move should blow some wind into the sails of innovative fintech companies, boosting competition. The bank has said that it is now offering access to non-bank payment service providers (PSP), meaning direct access to the UK’s sterling payment system is now possible. This move, however, is not Bank of England’s alone -- the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has been helping the bank develop this framework for non-bank PSPs to access RTGS, together with HM Revenue and Customs and HM Treasury.… [Continue Reading]
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London Stock Exchange trials blockchain for shares in Italy
London's Stock Exchange is set to start using blockchain to improve transparency for shareholding information among unlisted businesses. According to a news report by CityAM, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) will use Hyperledger Fabric, one of the open source blockchain frameworks hosted by The Linux Foundation to make info on private SMEs digital. The end goal is to draw more mature investors. Borsa Italiana, the Italian stock exchange, will kick off the trial by conducting a small test using blockchain to hold a shared registry of shareholder transactions and records. Only issuers, investors and regulators (authorized personnel) will have access to it.… [Continue Reading]
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One in 10 UK businesses moved to the cloud
A tenth of all UK businesses have moved entirely to the cloud, according to a new Breaking Barriers 2020 report from Fuze. The report is based on a poll of more than 900 CIOs, and claims that the UK keeps lagging behind North America and the rest of Europe in terms of adopting cloud services. The report compares the UK with American firms, 45 percent of which have fully made the migration to cloud. What Fuze sees as a positive move is the fact that almost half (49 percent) adopted some form of formal cloud initiative, either partially or fully. A… [Continue Reading]
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GLAS is Microsoft's gorgeous Cortana-powered smart thermostat
Microsoft has announced its entry into the smart office market with the launch of a new thermostat. GLAS, which was revealed in a YouTube video this week, targets businesses and stores looking to establish a smarter, more connected workplace. Developed in conjunction with Johnson Controls, the device aims to offer a more energy-efficient way to monitor temperature, as well as provide real-time information on energy usage and air quality, and even show off your upcoming calendar information -- such as who has a meeting room booked next. Similar to the likes of Google's Nest or Hive from British Gas, GLAS will be… [Continue Reading]
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Nintendo, expectedly, trademarks Nintendo 64 Classic Edition
What do 1985 and 2016 have in common? The same video game system as one of the hot-ticket Christmas presents. Nintendo has masterfully fulfilled the need for nostalgia among millions of gamers, in addition to creating that need for countless others who, thanks to the hype of the NES Classic Edition, didn't even realize how cool it was to play games from their childhood days in the 2010s. It came as no surprise, then, when Nintendo announced the follow-up Super NES Classic Edition last month, which is due to be released in September. And eagle-eyed fans have discovered that there… [Continue Reading]
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deepin 15.4.1 Debian-based Linux distribution now available for download
So many Linux distributions, so little time! Today, yet another operating system based on the kernel gets a new version. This particular distro, called "deepin" is a bit controversial, as it comes from China -- a country not known for human rights or user privacy. Since the OS is largely open source, I am not really worried, but I can respect people that are wary of spying, however. This new version of deepin is 15.4.1. I know what you are thinking -- this is just a point release, is it really interesting? Actually, yes! There are quite a lot of new features and fixes, making this… [Continue Reading]
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The biggest challenge to adopting IoT? Identifying ROI
The biggest challenges companies have with implementing IoT technologies is not security but rather identifying ROI. This is according to a new report by Canonical, entitled Defining IoT Business Models, which polled 360 IoT professionals, including devs, vendors and enterprise users, more than half (53 percent) say "quantifying ROI and providing a clear use case" is currently their biggest challenge. So, it’s currently more important than the lack of available infrastructure (40 percent), or the need for improved device security (45 percent). The report also states that a third (34 percent) of IoT pros think "quantifying the business benefits" should be their… [Continue Reading]
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YouTube Video Editor and Photo slideshows to close September 20
YouTube has quietly revealed that its Video Editor and Photo slideshows features will close down in just two months. It seems that not enough people are using the two tools to warrant keeping them alive, so they are being "retired". Users are warned that while videos that have already been published will remain accessible, projects currently sitting in Video Editor must be completed by the shutdown date of September 20. See also: YouTube employs the Redirect Method to counter searches for violent extremist videos The closures mean that YouTubers will increasingly have to turn to third-party tools to cater for… [Continue Reading]
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Essential Phone will be released soon in US and international markets
Andy Rubin's startup, Essential, announced its highly-anticipated smartphone in late-May. The high-end device, called Essential Phone, is aimed at flagship buyers looking for something a little different from an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S8, packing some cool features and a clean design at a competitive price. But, unlike an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S8, you cannot just go out and buy an Essential Phone. Users can, however, "reserve" one, in either black or white, but when it will ship is as yet unknown at this stage. An email from Andy Rubin gives us a pretty good idea as to when… [Continue Reading]
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YouTube employs the Redirect Method to counter searches for violent extremist videos
Google, Facebook and other big tech companies have all committed to trying to eradicate extremism from their respective networks in recent months. YouTube has just announced its latest strategy, with a technique which sounds rather like a type of contraception. The Redirect Method uses a very simple technique of displaying safe, carefully curated content when certain keywords are used as search terms. More than this, when searches for extremist content are conducted, YouTube will actually show videos that "debunk violent extremist recruiting narratives." The technique comes from the Jigsaw stables at Alphabet, working in conjunction with Moonshot CVE. Google explains… [Continue Reading]
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Coinbase and GDAX will not support Bitcoin hard fork
There is a lot of discussion surrounding what will happen to Bitcoin come August 1, when two major changes to the protocol are scheduled to take place. Will we have a soft fork, which will keep Bitcoin on the current blockchain, or will a hard fork take place, creating a separate blockchain? There is no definitive answer yet, but the major exchanges are preparing its customers for what will likely be a bumpy period in trading. Coinbase has announced its stance, revealing that it will not support the hard fork and the coins that it may create. Coinbase is in… [Continue Reading]
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Best Windows 10 apps this week
Two-hundred-and-forty in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps, games and extensions released for Windows 10 on the Windows Store in the past seven days. We are just months away from the release of the next big update for Windows 10, the Fall Creators Update. Only 50 percent of all Windows 10 devices have received the current feature update -- the Creators Update -- so far, which makes it likely that some systems may go straight to the next release when it arrives. As always, if I missed an app or game that has been released this week… [Continue Reading]
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