It's not all that long ago that the idea of posting news, thoughts and ideas on a social network (or "micro-blogging service" as it is infuriatingly referred to) that imposed a limit of 140 characters on posts seemed absurd. Now Twitter is so commonplace that any company, or even TV show, worth its salt has its own account. The word hashtag entered the technical lexicon little while ago, but such is Twitter's dominance that it is now spoken aloud: hashtag yousoundstupid.
2013 has been a big year for Twitter, perhaps most notably due to it starting to trade on the NYSE. But there have also be great strides made in how Twitter is used. Of course it is still home to vainglorious, the trolls and celebrities, but 2013 is also the year in which Twitter proved itself to be genuinely useful.
While you can't use Lavabit any longer, there are still plenty of good email services out there, though none is perfect -- they can all experience occasional glitches, just ask Yahoo customers. I also can't tell you which ones you can trust, though I can recommend caution with all of them, given the recent news stories.
Microsoft has been on a bit of a rampage against rival Google lately, and one target of attack has been Gmail, with accusations of messages being "read" in order to better target ads. It's a rather disingenuous point, as all providers scan incoming messages, if not for ads then at least for spam filtering (and Outlook.com does have ads unless you pay to opt out).
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Today in Tech History
It’s often said that the great thing about standards in the technology industry is that there are so many to choose from. That's just as true in today's world of mobile devices as it was in the days of mainframes when it was first coined.
Mozilla, LG, Qualcomm, Deutsche Telekom and a number of other leading mobile companies have taken a step closer to a world where standards are... well, standard, by joining forces to create the Open Web Device Compliance Review Board (CRB). The aim of the CRB is to support device manufacturers and their technology partners to standardize performance.
Do you have someone on your shopping list who is part of the Amazon ecosystem? Chances are you do, given that anyone with an Android device can install and use the Amazon App Store, Kindle App, MP3 player and more. What you may not be familiar with is something called Amazon Coins.
The currency doesn't get a lot of attention, but it can be used to purchase apps, games and in-app items. Each Coin is essentially the equivalent of a penny -- 500 Coins is the same as $5.
With an early start into the digital technologies, Kodak was able to create industry leading technologies and digital cameras ahead of its competition. It took another ten years before the digital cameras became the largest segment of the camera market. Total sales of digital cameras surpassed those of analog cameras for the first time in 2002. In hindsight, Kodak had had over twenty years to respond to an existential threat. Given the extraordinary time Kodak had, and the massive and decisive action it took, we would expect Kodak to have easily handled this major technological change in its industry. Unfortunately, the reality was something else. By 2003, Kodak was only one of five large players in the digital camera arena and was losing money. Its market share in digital cameras was less than 25 percent, and within the next few years it continuously lost market share and profits. On January 19, 2012 Kodak filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, marking the end of a 131-year history as one of America’s leading companies.
This failure was not due to a difficulty in technological transition, or to getting blindsided by a disruptive innovation, or to the speed of the change.
Finnish mobile maker Nokia has released a new app called Motion Monitor which allows Lumia 1520 users to track their physical activity, similar to some wristbands. The offering is currently undergoing beta testing and is available exclusively for the company's new Windows Phone 8 flagship.
For those wondering why Motion Monitor is not available for other Lumia smartphones, Nokia says this is because only its new flagships comes with the "specific" hardware which allows the app to offer this functionality. A reasonable assumption would be that the Lumia 1520 is the sole beneficiary of Motion Monitor because of its Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, which is not available in any other Nokia smartphones at the moment.
Google has released new factory images based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. This comes a couple of days after the search giant rolled out the latest update for its mobile operating system.
The Android 4.4.2 factory images allow users of said Nexus devices to install, and upgrade to, the latest KitKat version without waiting for the OTA update to arrive. They also come in handy for installing individual bits, like the radio, kernel or recovery, alongside third-party distributions.
A new report by information research specialist NSS Labs focuses on the evolving landscape of mobile financial malware. It concludes that cyber criminals are adapting to the use of mobile apps to authorize transactions and that 99 percent of current mobile malware is aimed at the Android platform.
As banks add extra functionality to their apps they open up greater capabilities for both customers and the cyber criminals. Many mobile banking apps are based on HTML code making them especially vulnerable to exploits. The report's author, NSS Labs Research Vice President Ken Baylor, says this should prompt more banks to develop secure native apps for mobiles, incorporating fraud-resistant features, if their customers are to stay secure.
Both apps include the obligatory bug fixes, but there they diverge, with iOS users now able to see flight, hotel and restaurant reservations from Gmail, while Android users get improved tools for step-by-step directions and commuting.
Adobe has updated Lightroom to 5.3 with extended camera support, new lens profiles and a lengthy list of bug fixes.
The upgrade includes support for 20 recently-related cameras, including the Canon PowerShot S120 and EOS M2, Casio’s EX-10, Fujifilm FinePix XQ1, Nikon 1 AW1, Olympus Stylus 1, Pentax K-3 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10.
On Monday, a number of Yahoo Mail users started experiencing issues when accessing the service. The company said, yesterday, a hardware problem in one of its mail data centers is the culprit and, as a result, it assigned "dozens of people", who are allegedly "working around the clock", to get Yahoo Mail back on track.
If you are wondering why it took Yahoo so long to acknowledge the problem then you are not alone. The company initially said at 11 AM PST on Wednesday that the full functionality of its email service will be restored "by 3 PM PT", on the same day. Half an hour after the first, and only, deadline Yahoo was still working "hard" to fix the problem.
Everyone is familiar with Google Docs but the Sheets spreadsheet application always seems to have been a bit of a poor relation in terms of the search giant's cloud office portfolio. Now though there's a new release which brings more speed, more features and -- for the first time -- an offline mode.
The new version supports more cells so you can create bigger, more complex, worksheets. New features include Filter Views which let you save and share sections of the data, useful for collaborative projects.
Paragon Software Group has released Paragon Partition Manager 2014 Free, the cut-down, free-for-personal-use edition of its Hard Disk Manager 14 Suite. The big addition this time is complete support for Windows Storage Spaces, Windows 8 and 8.1.
The previous Express Mode launcher now has a Windows 8-style interface. It’s surprisingly realistic, too, right down to a "live tile" with an animated "Upgrade to Hard Disk Manager 14 Suite" ad. (If you’re not a Modern UI fan, the regular "full scale launcher" is still available, and looks much as it always did.)
This is an oversimplification, but Chrome OS is a Linux distribution that serves one purpose -- to run the Chrome browser. Chrome apps then run within that browser. This enables the apps to run on any operating system that can run the Google browser. Essentially, Chrome OS can run from within another operating system by way of the browser.
Back in July, Google released Chrome launcher for Windows 7 and 8. This allows users to interface with the Chrome OS launcher from the Windows taskbar. Sadly, this was a Winows-only affair. Today, Google announces that it is bringing the Chrome launcher to Apple's OS X. In other words, Chrome OS and apps are invading Mac.
Microsoft has been busy attacking the Chromebook recently, trotting out spokesman Ben Rudolph to handpick "people on the street" to tell him why the Google-branded laptop wouldn't work for them, and hiring Pawn Stars to call the notebook "a brick". The problem for Microsoft is this -- many of its biggest OEM partners, including HP and Acer, are producing hardware running the rival operating system.
Now Dell is the latest hardware maker, generally associated with Windows, to experiment with alternatives. No, Dell isn't abandoning Windows, just cheating on it with Chrome OS. The Texas-based company has strayed before, producing Android tablets, but this is its first flirtation with a Chromebook.