Latest Technology News

Technology helps college kids communicate and learn

Photo: Petrenko Andriy/Shutterstock

Going away to college is a milestone for both parents and their offspring and technology giant Dell has released the results of a survey showing how families buy technology for this key time.

The survey was conducted among more than 1,000 respondents across the US, split evenly between students of 16-19 planning to attend a two to four year college course, and parents.

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Happy first birthday, Chromecast!

Chromecast birthday

It seems hard to believe, but Google’s excellent HDMI dongle celebrates its first birthday today. As I’m in the UK, I wasn’t able to get hold of one from the start (even if I had, many of its features wouldn’t have been available to me due to location) but I own one now, and love it.

When my colleague Brian Fagioli reviewed the Chromecast shortly after launch, he called it "greatness in its infancy", meaning the potential was there, but it was limited, thanks mostly to the lack of Chromecast-compatible apps and services. But what a difference a year makes. There are now hundreds of apps on Chromecast, including HBO Go, ESPN, Songza and more, and Google says there are 6,000+ developers actively working on more than 10,000 Google Cast apps across Android, iOS and Chrome. You can browse the full list of available apps here.

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Drawpile: work on drawings with 20+ other users in real time

Drawpile

Do you sometimes need to collaborate on drawings or sketches? Drawpile is a cross-platform application which allows 20+ users to use the same canvas, all at the same time.

The drawing engine initially looks quite simple. There’s a pen and brush, a line, rectangle and ellipse, they all support a range of color options, and you’re able to add text annotations as required.

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Skype for Android 5.0 readies the way for new 'Find your friends' feature

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Microsoft has released Skype for Android 5.0, a new version of its chat tool that includes free audio and video messaging. The latest release concentrates on providing support for one single upcoming feature: find your friends.

The feature, which should roll out over the next few weeks, will give users the option of connecting Skype to their phone’s address book, making it easier to connect with existing contacts through the chat service.

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Zettaset offers simpler big data security for the enterprise

Big data

Companies are increasingly keen to take advantage of the insights that big data can offer. But this does lead to problems with controlling access and keeping the data secure in a way that works with existing systems.

Big data security specialist Zettaset is now making its Orchestrator product available as a standalone offering. This will allow customers to take the whole offering or individual applications as required to customize and secure their environment.

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Go exploring with the new update to Google Maps

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Summer is the vacation season for many people, and that means maps and travel apps become a priority. After all, when you're in an unfamiliar location, you're fending for yourself finding virtually anything, from museums to restaurants and everything else.

Now Google Maps is adding a new Explore feature that will attempt to assist lost travelers. A new "Explore" button will be located at the bottom right of the maps screen, and tapping on it will open a new world of information.

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Virtual smart card solution offers improved security at an affordable price

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Traditional authentication methods like passwords are vulnerable to data breaches as well as being difficult to remember and manage. But although tokens and physical smart cards provide better protection they're expensive to implement and maintain.

Security company Wave Systems Corp has a new virtual smart card solution that emulates the functionality of physical smart cards or tokens, but offers greater convenience to users, lower total cost of ownership, and a reduced risk of unauthorized use.

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Honesty is the best policy when it comes to security

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It has never been harder for businesses to build and preserve a relationship of trust with their customers. The rise of increasingly sophisticated, and targeted, cyber-attacks means there are more threats to watch out for than ever before. But letting just one slip through the net could spell disaster and damage even the strongest of partnerships, beyond repair. Just ask any major organization that has lost confidential customer data through a security breach.

When online retailer eBay reported that its network had been compromised earlier this year, it's no wonder that its message to customers was "the trust and security of eBay members is our top priority". The need to maintain trust in the face of a successful hack is critical.

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The tracks of my bargains – sacrificing privacy for a good deal

retail store shop camera surveillance

The increased popularity of smartphones means that, unless we specifically opt not to, most of us leave a record of our location wherever we go.

This information is of course valuable to marketers and a new study by customer engagement specialists PunchTab reveals that consumers are concerned about how location data is used.

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Microsoft anti-malware support for Windows XP is counting down...

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Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP on April 8, which means the aging operating system no longer receives security updates and non-security hotfixes, potentially putting die-hard users at serious risk.

Although XP is no longer eligible to receive security updates, Microsoft is, however, still providing users with updates to its anti-malware signatures and engine, and will continue to do so until July 14, 2015.

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Enterprise app stores can transform IT into rock stars

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You know the mood in the corporate world is optimistic when enterprises shift their focus from "down to the bone" cost-cutting measures to enhancing operational efficiency and innovative projects. 46 percent of CIOs reported increases in IT budgets in the last year to fund projects designed to improve the effectiveness of their operations, according to a recent Harvey Nash survey. This is indeed good news.

Technology-led as we are today, innovation in the enterprise is to a large extent being driven by software applications -- look at the consumerization of IT, virtualization and cloud trends. To better connect employees to the world of business applications, organizations are setting up enterprise app stores, giving employees iTunes-esque access in the corporate environment.

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UK government turns its back on Microsoft Office

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The UK government has formally announced that all government departments are to use the open document format [ODF] for documents immediately in a move that is part of the government’s total savings target of £1.2 billion.

A press release stated that the ODF standard is being used for sharing and collaborating on government documents whereas PDF/A or HTML is becoming the standard for viewing government documents.

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Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 lockscreen app close to launch

Windows Phone 8.1 Lockscreen

The option to change the Windows Phone 8.1 lockscreen is a new feature Microsoft showcased in early-April, at the unveiling of its new operating system, but that is not yet ready for prime time. As you may recall, Windows Phone head Joe Belfiore has said that it will be available later down the road through a dedicated app.

But, how close are we to its release? Well, Belfiore says that the development of the lockscreen app is in its final stages, with the software giant and prolific Windows Phone developer Rudy Huyn (who also works on the lockscreen app, as announced at Build 2014) now focusing on "loose ends".

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Google is working 9 to 5 -- brings Street View to Dollywood

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Dolly Parton is a living legend. Even if you do not love country music, you probably love one of her songs. Hell, she wrote one of the most famous, "I Will Always Love You", which the late Whitney Houston popularized. My personal favorites are "Jolene" and of course, "9 to 5".

Well, it seems like Google is working much harder than a 9 to 5 work day lately, especially when it comes to Street View. The search giant is constantly making a brouhaha over the latest place to which Street View has arrived. Today, it is revealed that Dollywood, the Dolly Parton co-owned theme park, is scoring the Google service.

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Windows Phone users score Uber app

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It's generally never a good idea to hitchhike. Any time a guy sticks out his thumb, or a girl sticks out her leg, it could be the beginning of their troubles. Quite frankly, getting a ride from a stranger seems like the start of a horror movie.

The latest rage in getting a ride, is Uber. If you aren't familiar, it is an app that connects someone with a car and someone who needs a ride -- for a fee. However, the company partners with reputable car services that do background checks on drivers. In other words, as opposed to hitchhiking, it should be a safe experience. Today, Uber announces that the app comes to Windows Phone.

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