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There is simply no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6

There is simply no reason for anyone to care about the iPhone 6

Let's cut to the chase. No, they shouldn't. The iPhone used to be exciting and interesting. It used to be aspirational and high-end. Now the world and his dog has an Apple handset and it's turned from something special into a poor substitute for one of the countless alternatives. This is not to say that the popularity of the device in itself makes it less appealing, but it certainly seems to have made Apple lazy. Innovation has gone out of the window. We've had the same design for the handset for what seems like an eternity. It looks as though there might be something of a change in style this time around, but is this really enough to make the iPhone exciting -- or even interesting -- once again?

By far the biggest problem with the iPhone is the lack of choice. While Android users (and even Windows Phone fans) have a huge number of handsets to choose from, the same cannot be said of those sucking on Apple's teat. Things did improve slightly when the 2013 iPhones were released, but you're still stuck, essentially, with two phones to choose from -- the really expensive over-hyped one, or the pale imitation wannabe version. Some choice. To be clear… I've been an iPhone owner. It's a functional phone, but Christ it's dull.

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Almost 70 percent of IT professionals suffer weekly phishing attacks

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A new survey sponsored by HP's TippingPoint network security arm looks at the main information security concerns of modern enterprises.

It reveals that 69 percent of IT professionals have to deal with phishing attacks at least once a week, with customer and financial data the main targets. The survey also finds that seven out of 10 attacks originating from inside the network come from a malware infected machine.

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China focuses on Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player in its beef with Microsoft

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There has been more (big) trouble for Microsoft over in China, as the software giant is now facing scrutiny of its web browser (Internet Explorer) and Windows Media Player.

This is part of a Chinese antitrust investigation against Redmond, which apparently kicked off when Microsoft's offices in China were swooped on by officials from the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) at the end of July.

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HDD Guardian tests and monitors your hard drive health

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SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system which reports on various reliability indicators, and sometimes highlights imminent hardware failure of HDDs and SSDs.

These predictions can sometimes be questionable, but SMART still has plenty to offer, and the open source HDD Guardian (also available in a portable edition) provides a simple and straightforward way to find out more.

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Archos announces its first Windows Phone

Archos 40 Cesium Smartphone Windows Phone

Windows Phone is enjoying the support of more smartphone manufacturers than ever. In fact, at Build 2014, Microsoft revealed its tiled operating system had 15 vendors committed to the platform (theoretically speaking). A few more joined the list since, with Archos being the latest to unveil its first Windows Phone.

The French electronics company is readying the poorly-named 40 Cesium Smartphone for a September launch. The device tagets low-end smartphone buyers, as the Windows Phone will hit stores with a price tag of just £79.

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UK kids spend over £10 per week on tech

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British children are more likely to be spending their money on technology than on comics and chocolate according to new research by the Halifax bank.

Three-quarters of 8 to 15 year olds have a mobile phone, 65 percent own an MP3 player and 87 percent a games console. Hardly surprising then that they say they spend most of their cash on games and downloads.

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Google makes it easier to see who's online in Hangouts for Gmail

Google makes it easier to see who's online in Hangouts for Gmail

The point of any chat system is to make it easier to communicate with others. This is something that Google Hangouts has singularly failed at, for one reason. Rather than making it obvious which of your contacts are online, it has -- up until now -- displayed a chronological list of the conversations you have held with people. This is about to change. Rolling out over the next few days, is an update which will see your online contact move to the top of your chat buddy list.

This might seem like a small change, but it's one that has been requested for some time now. Google seemingly thought that the tried and test way of ordering contacts was due for a shakeup -- now we know that the experiment didn’t really pay off. There's another new feature to play with as well. Just as Chrome -- and other browsers -- make it possible to pin frequently used tabs so they are always available, so Hangouts users will be given the opportunity to pin contacts to the top of their buddy list.

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HTC unveils its first 64-bit Android smartphone

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Apple started the 64-bit smartphone craze in September 2013 with iPhone 5s. It was the first 64-bit device of its kind to reach store shelves and, even now, it continues to be unrivaled in this regard by competing flagships. That's because other vendors could only use 32-bit high-end processors from major chip makers like Qualcomm and Nvidia.

While that has yet to change, other 64-bit smartphones, targeting a less demanding crowd, are on their way as, today, Taiwanese maker HTC announces its first 64-bit smartphone, touted to bring "super-fast LTE connectivity at an affordable price point". It's called Desire 510.

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Lizard Squad goes after Xbox Live, Twitch

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As you're almost certainly aware if you're a PlayStation owner, this weekend saw an attack mounted on the PlayStation Network which took it down for a large chunk of time.

But PSN wasn't the only gaming service to get bombarded by DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks this weekend, and indeed, other attacks are continuing right now -- courtesy of the so-called Lizard Squad, a "hacktivist" group which is enjoying its time in the media limelight. (Though note that another hacker from Anonymous claimed responsibility for the PSN attack, so it's unclear exactly what went on in that case.)

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IT pacesetters turn to citizen developers to fill skills gaps

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The pace of development in IT often means that demand for certain skills outstrips supply. A new study by the IBM Center for Applied Insights shows that enterprises are increasingly turning to "citizen developers" -- industry professionals operating outside enterprise IT -- to fill the gaps and drive innovation.

The survey finds that 40 percent of organizations still report moderate to major skills gaps in areas like cloud, mobile, social and analytics technologies.

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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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