Latest Technology News

Google Contributor lets you pay to hide adverts on websites

Google Contributor lets you pay to hide adverts on websites

Online ads have been seen as the scourge of the web since they were first dreamed up. There are various ways you can avoid them, but they exist for a reason -- to generate revenue. Google may have come up with a solution that keeps everyone happy, website owners and visitors alike. Google Contributor is described as "an experiment in additional ways to fund the web" and it makes it possible to kill ads without killing revenue.

It's invite only at the moment, but once Google Contributor is properly up and running, web users will be invited to make a monthly "contribution". This will enable them to browse participating sites without being bothered by ads; instead you'll see a thank you message or just empty space.

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Global monthly smartphone data traffic to hit 17 exabytes by 2020

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Smartphone data usage will increase eightfold over the next six years as consumers continue to take advantage of the increasingly fast speeds on offer from mobile operators.

Global data produced as part of the latest Ericsson Mobility Report showed that traffic would grow from the 2.1 exabytes used per month in 2014 to approximately 17 exabytes by 2020.

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Microsoft Research makes great strides in automatic image captioning

Microsoft Research makes great strides in automatic image captioning

Microsoft Research is home to all manner of interesting projects and experiments, and one of the latest that the team is keen to share news about is automatic image captioning. There are no prizes for guessing what this is -- it's very much what it says on the tin -- and the technology has now reached a stage where the automatically generated captions for an image are at least as good as those thought of by people.

A team of just 12 worked on the project, and the results are pretty impressive. The system analyzes an image and identifies its key components. After determining objects and characteristics, these can then be evaluated in relation to each other to help decide what is important, and what can be ignored.

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Call your bookie and place a bet -- Microsoft's Bing is predicting NFL playoffs

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Every Sunday, many Americans load up on Doritos, nachos and beer to watch something very important -- NFL football. I say "important" somewhat facetiously, as there are so many more important things in the world to focus on. With that said, watching sports can be a great distraction from life's hardships and depressing news stories. You know what? A distraction can be a good thing and there is nothing wrong with that.

Some people watch NFL football a bit differently than others. Sure, there are people like myself who are simply fans of teams like the Jets or Dolphins, and watch for enjoyment; others however, do it for financial gain and endorphins by betting on games. Today, Microsoft announces that Bing will be predicting the NFL playoffs; this may be a great tool for gamblers.

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Apple no longer offering 'free' apps in the App Store

The end of 'free' apps in the App Store

Take a browse through Apple's App Store and you'll notice something interesting: there are no free apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad any more. Or at least you'd be forgiven for thinking that was the case. Rather than trying to entice people into downloading apps by emblazoning a sexy "Free" button next to them, Apple now opts for a more descriptive "Get" button.

This does not mean that free apps now cost money, but it does mean that the apps you download may cost you money further down the line. Confused? The rewording of the download buttons seems to have come about because of regulators in Europe expressing disapproval that apps previously labeled as free could lead to large bills via in-app purchases.

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Personalized marketing is the key to consumer's wallets

Personalized mail

Sending out generic marketing emails and scatter-gun coupon offers is no longer enough to attract the attention of consumers and can in fact have the opposite effect.

Predictive marketing company AgilOne has released the results of a survey which shows that online shoppers appreciate personalized communication -- as long as it's done right.

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Microsoft reveals its Black Friday deals -- snap up a Surface Pro 3 bargain

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You can’t have failed to have noticed that Black Friday is nearly upon us, with a wide range of deals being offered by pretty much every retailer and manufacturer.

It will come as no surprise then, that Microsoft is preparing its own raft of offers, covering everything from Surface Pro 3 and Surface 2, to Xbox One and Lumia 830. If you’ve had your eye on any of those products, now is the time to get your wallet out.

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The security challenge of business mobile devices

photo by Slavoljub Pantelic, Shutterstock

The trend towards mobile devices and BYOD is great for productivity but it creates new challenges in terms of keeping information secure.

Identity and access management specialist Ping Identity has produced an infographic looking at the vulnerabilities introduced by letting employees use mobile devices.

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New Gorilla Glass 4 better protects displays against shattering

Corning Gorilla Glass 4

Corning's Gorilla Glass is used to protect billions of mobile device displays. In fact, some of the most popular handsets -- like HTC One (M8), Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy S5 -- feature Gorilla Glass 3 or Gorilla Glass 2. Some companies, like ASUS, are also using it on touchscreen ultrabooks. That's because it fares well under normal usage, offering good protection against scratching.

However, things are different when it comes to drops -- as tough as Gorilla Glass may be, it can shatter quite easily when handsets are dropped, potentially leading to damaged displays. Its maker, Corning, says that this is the biggest issue that consumers are reporting. With Gorilla Glass 4, it finally addresses this shortcoming.

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XSS vulnerabilities open the door to drive-by downloads

Web script

Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities allow attackers to inject script into web pages in order to infect client computers.

Security company High-Tech Bridge has released a report revealing that 95 percent of XSS vulnerabilities can be used to perform sophisticated drive-by-download attacks, which infect users who open harmless-looking URLs that they trust. More worrying is that 90 percent of vulnerabilities can be exploited in such a way that even advanced users and IT professionals won't suspect anything. The structure and architecture of more than 70 percent of web applications allows the creation of a sophisticated XSS exploit that can perform several fully-automated actions, ultimately giving full administrative access to the attacker. This access can then be used by hackers to compromise the entire website and even the web server.

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Microsoft blames performance update for Azure outage

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Microsoft Azure was hit by an 11-hour outage on November 19, in United States, Europe and certain parts of Asia. The outage impacted multiple services offered through the cloud platform, including Azure Storage, Virtual Machines, Service Bus, and Visual Studio, just to name a few. The culprit? Microsoft links a performance update to the mishap.

The performance update, which is meant for Azure Storage, "had been [successfully] tested over several weeks", says Microsoft, on a small subset of targets, prior to being applied. However, during the general roll-out, Microsoft noticed an issue which resulted in an "inability for the [storage blob] front ends to take on further traffic, which in turn caused other services built on top to experience issues".

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Momentum continues as Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines move to Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3

It may have taken a few tries, but Microsoft is gaining momentum with its tablet/laptop, the Surface Pro 3. The device, which includes an optional keyboard, was released a couple of months ago, and sales seem to be lively from what we've heard.

It's not a major surprise, as businesses love Windows, and now more are adopting this platform. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are moving to Surface Pro 3. Microsoft claims it is adopting "certain commercial requirements" in an effort to make the device more appealing to the enterprise.

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UK mobile broadband to get faster and cheaper thanks to moves by Ofcom

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Ofcom has announced it will soon make more frequencies available to mobile broadband, resulting in increased speeds and a cheaper service.

By using the 700MHz frequency band, currently in use by wireless microphones and digital terrestrial TV broadcasts, consumers in rural areas should also receive improved coverage.

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skobbler’s 'Scout' app takes on TomTom

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Telenav subsidiary skobbler has announced the release of GPS Navigation & Maps -- Scout, a powerful -- and now free -- travel app for iOS and Android.

As with the previous skobbler app, you get online and offline maps (via OpenStreetMap), and voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation for cars, cyclists and pedestrians.

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Cloud adoption set to rocket in 2015

Rocket cloud

A global survey carried out by Equinix has found that, over the next 12 months, the majority of business applications will be deployed to not just one, but multiple clouds across several geographies.

Of the 659 respondents, 77 percent said they planned to deploy to multiple clouds in the next 12 months and 74 percent expected cloud services to command a larger budget in 2015.

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