Latest Technology News

CCleaner 4.17 improves browser cleanup

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Popular system optimization tool CCleaner has been updated to version 4.17 with a series of mostly browser-related improvements.

The official release notes say the new build -- also available in a portable version -- adds "Google Chrome and Opera GPU cache cleaning". We’re not entirely sure what that involves, but it’s here anyway: let’s see if it makes a difference.

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Paranoid much? Americans are now self-censoring online after Snowden's NSA revelations

Paranoid much? Americans are now self-censoring online after Snowden's NSA revelations

The effects of Edward Snowden's revelations about the activities of the NSA continue to be felt. Internet users are now familiar with the idea that what they do online is possibly (probably?) being monitored in one way or another. Some users have taken to the likes of Tor in a bid to increase security and anonymity, but there has also been a more interesting side-effect. Figures released by "nonpartisan fact tank" the Pew Research Center suggests that a "spiral of silence" has developed as Americans start to censor themselves online.

The research group conducted a survey of more than 1,800 people in the middle of last year and found that while most people (86 percent) were quite happy to talk about state surveillance in person, less than half (41 percent) were willing to do so on Twitter (itself involved in censorship). This self-censorship is an interesting repercussion of the NSA's activities, and it seems that social network users have been hardest hit:

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Google unveils Google Slides for Android and iOS, view and edit Google Drive-hosted presentations offline

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Google has unveiled Google Slides for Android 1.0 and Google Slides iOS 1.0.0, new apps for accessing and editing presentations while on the move.

Both apps provide users with an option for downloading presentations to their devices for editing and viewing while offline. The iOS version is accompanied by updates to both Google Docs for iOS and Google Sheets for iOS that allow users to edit Word and Excel files.

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Intel and Michael J Fox Foundation are using Pebble watches in fight against Parkinson's Disease

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You're likely familiar with actor Michael J. Fox, star of the Back to the Future movies, that we, of a certain age, all remember. Now the actor suffers from Parkinson's Disease, a mality his foundation wishes to draw awareness to, perhaps even help with finding a cure.

Now wearable technology is getting in on the action. Intel has teamed up with the charity in an effort to utilize such items as the Pebble Watch to help in the fight. While a number of people are skeptical about this path that technology is now heading down, this certainly makes for a good use that few would likely argue against.

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California brings in smartphone kill switch legislation to protect handset owners

California brings in smartphone kill switch legislation to protect handset owners

In California, a bill has been passed that will require smartphone manufacturers to include a kill switch in their handsets. The bill states that "any smartphone, as defined, that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, include a technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render inoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user".  It's a lengthy description, but it means the kill switch that many people have been asking for for so long is becoming a reality in another state.

This is not the first time a kill switch bill has been passed -- Minnesota did something similar back in May. The SB 926, Leno Smartphones bill in California is rather more far-reaching and comes partly in response to the statistic that between 30 and 40 percent of robberies in major US cities are smartphone robberies. Once activated, the kill switch will prevent a phone from being registered on a wireless network, and cannot be bypassed even with a hard reset. In the event of theft, a user will also be able to remotely wipe their device to protect any private information they may have stored on it.

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LG's first 4K OLED TVs go on sale

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LG’s first OLED 4K Ultra-HD televisions are on the way after the company combined the two technologies to make the first curved-TV to feature the new level of resolution.

The sets, which go on sale in September, will be the first such devices to reach retail stores and cost an eye-watering ₩12 million (roughly $11,796) to any consumer who wants to take advantage of the revolutionary technology on board.

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V.BTTN is a programmable Bluetooth button that can do anything your phone can

V.BTTN is a programmable Bluetooth button that can do anything your phone can

Think about wearable tech and your mind probably jumps to watches first. V.BTTN is a little different. It's a programmable button that links smartphones, tablets and computers via Bluetooth and it can then be used to trigger all manner of events. Looking for a remote shutter trigger for your smartphone? V.BTTN can do that for you. Need a remote control to start and stop recording? Got that covered too. The device comes from VSN Mobil and is available now for $59.99. It's one of those pieces of hardware billed as having virtually limitless possibilities, but this is one instance where the claim is justified.

What the button does depends entirely on the app you decide to link it to. It's slightly more advanced than just "hit the button" -- there are short and long press options, as well as gesture support thanks to a built-in accelerometer. As standard, V.BTTN is just a button. You can stick it in your pocket or bag and carry it around with you if you like, but there are also a number of accessories.

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How businesses can reduce security risks

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Embracing the digital revolution is unavoidable for businesses. It has brought great advantages with it too, such as anytime, anywhere communications and the storage of vital and personal information for use in our work and personal lives. It has also provided greater flexibility in where and how we work and communicate, making things much easier for us.

However, it is important to acknowledge security aspects when evaluating mobility policies in particular. Cyber attacks are on the increase and will continue in their complexity and frequency. We hear about serious breaches on a daily basis. This can range from password leaks or mobile phone hacks to international scale bugs. I often find that in the corporate world, many recognize the threats but fail to implement any strategy, let alone take tangible action. The good news is that there are steps that can be taken by businesses to drastically improve mobile security.

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Seagate releases first-ever 8TB hard drive

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When it comes to technology, it is almost impossible to stay on the forefront. You will drive yourself nuts, and empty your wallet, chasing after every new thing. Got the newest and most expensive graphics card? Yesterday's news within months. The newest iPhone? You can make that claim for one year at best.

Hard drives are no different and are probably the longest-running way for manufacturers to take money from nerds. I bought a 4TB drive earlier in the year thinking it would be high-end for some time, but sure enough, it is now yawn-worthy. Why? Today, Seagate begins shipping 8TB hard drives. Yup, twice as big as my 4TB drive. I haven't learned my lesson though as I already want one!

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Software vulnerability patching is far too slow and leaves users at risk

Software vulnerability patching is far too slow and leaves users at risk

Security holes and vulnerabilities are to be expected, but not enough is being done to patch holes quickly enough. This is the conclusion of Heimdal Security who conducted analysis of software vulnerabilities. The security firm found that while security problems are on the increase, companies are failing to keep pace and issues remain unaddressed for too long. It's something that hackers are taking advantage of, and user data is being left at great risk. Heimdal Security found that between 60 and 90 percent of attacks from hackers take advantage of this fact.

A number of key culprits are singled out for particular attention -- names that will be familiar to most: Oracle Java Runtime environment, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, and Apple QuickTime. The biggest offender, by quite some margin, is Java Runtime environment, blighted by 48 vulnerabilities in 2012, a staggering 180 in 2013, and 90 so far in 2014. According to CVE Details, the average severity rating for all of the vulnerabilities found in each of the four products. Using the CVSS (Computer vulnerability severity system), which rates issue severity on a 1 to 10 scale, the average rating is 7.8 for Java -- and that's the best of the bunch. Adobe's two products were rated 9.2.

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BitTorrent Sync gets an upgrade, includes large file sharing

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BitTorrent Sync has gone from alpha to beta to full release. Along the way it has become one of the best and most secure sync apps, with security largely because of its decentralized nature. Now the service is getting a major update that adds even more features to the platform.

BitTorrent is introducing large file sharing, allowing something like an entire folder full of photos to be shared with a group of friends and family. With the new work-flow that has been built for version 1.4, customers don't need to set up an account. "There's two ways to send a link, via email or copying it to your clipboard (so you can send using any communications tool of your choice)", Erik Pounds, vice president of product management, explains.

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Everything you need to know about Windows 9 ('Threshold')

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At launch, Windows 8 was a mess. It was a brave and -- arguably -- necessary attempt by Microsoft to re-invent its operating system and keep it relevant as the world transitioned towards mobile computing, and tablets in particular. But the first release was seriously half-baked, and left many Windows users scratching their heads in confusion. Windows 8.1 improved things massively, and Update made the OS even better, especially for previously neglected keyboard and mouse users. But Windows 8.x’s poor market share tells a clear story -- the OS has flopped badly, and it’s time for Microsoft to chalk it up to experience and move on.

Windows 9 (aka Threshold) is expected to be the operating system that Windows 8.x should have been, just as Windows 7 was the OS Vista should have been. According to The Verge, we’ll get our first proper look at the next Windows iteration on September 30, but we already have a fairly good idea of what to expect.

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Design stylish, detailed diagrams with yEd

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YEd Graph Editor is an interesting free diagram designer with some unusual features.

The core interface works much like many similar applications. You’ll choose your symbols from a palette (flowchart, UML, ERD, BPNM, network, computer, more), drag and drop whatever you need onto the page, and position them as you like. Symbols may then be customized with text, colors, URLs and more, before you join them up with lines to represent your structure or ideas.

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OneDrive 4.4 and Dropbox 3.3 for iOS launch, promise major new features

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OneDrive and Dropbox users with access to an iPhone or iPad rejoice: both iOS apps were just updated with major improvements with the release of Microsoft OneDrive 4.4 and Dropbox 3.3.

Both apps gain new features -- the ability to search within Word and PowerPoint documents in Dropbox, a brand new Photos view in OneDrive -- as well as a number of improvements and stability fixes.

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How many apps are smartphone users taking advantage of?

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It's a simple question, with no apparent simple answer. A Nielsen report has shed some light on the matter, revealing that Android smartphone and iPhone users, on average, use 26.8 apps per month. But, without knowing the context, it is impossible to accurately determine what it actually translates into.

If that's 26.8 apps out of 30, the usage rate is close to 100 percent, but if it's 26.8 apps out of 100, the usage rate is close to 30 percent. A new infographic, courtesy of Yahoo Aviate and Yahoo Labs, adds some much-needed context into the picture, but does it offer an accurate answer to that question?

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