Latest Technology News

Bing Maps gets major redesign, available now in preview

Bing Maps Major Redesign User Interface

Whenever I use Bing Maps I get the sense that Microsoft has long conceded that its service will never be as popular as Google Maps. Otherwise it would look more visually appealing -- not as if it is a low-priority product -- and frequently gain new, powerful features. With Windows 10 on the horizon -- and Bing a key part of the experience -- not having Bing Maps ready for an influx of new users feels like a missed opportunity.

However, Microsoft is actively working on a major redesign for Bing Maps, which might put it back on consumers' radar. "Users want a map experience that is fast and easy to use, and makes the most of the visually rich data that maps can bring to life", says the team behind the service. And with lots of changes, it certainly looks promising.

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New backup service protects data stored in cloud apps


You might think that by moving applications to the cloud your data is automatically protected and worrying about backups is a thing of the past.

But just storing and processing data in Office 365 or Salesforce doesn't guard against user errors like accidentally deleting files. To offer extra peace of mind, backup specialist KeepItSafe is launching a new Cloud2Cloud service to protect data in SaaS applications.

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Object Theory to create mixed reality apps for Microsoft HoloLens ecosystem

HoloLense headset

Microsoft's take on virtual reality, HoloLens, caused waves of excitement when it was announced a few months ago. Today, a new company founded by a former member of the Microsoft HoloLens Studios team launches to start feeding the ecosystem with a range of apps it is describing not as virtual reality, or even augmented reality, but mixed reality.

Michael Hoffman's Object Theory has been set up with the aim of helping other organizations to build apps that take advantage of what HoloLens can offer. We've already see how HoloLens can run Windows apps in 3D, and a recent demonstration of Minecraft at E3 thrilled gamers. Object Theory wants to ensure that there is a range of impressive apps on launch day.

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FFmpeg is a one-stop audio and video converter


If you need to convert a few audio or video files then you could try out a few freeware transcoders, do your best to avoid the adware, hope they support the formats and options you need.

Or you could just grab a copy of FFmpeg, the open-source media-processing powerhouse which is the engine behind most freeware converters, anyway.

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Police: Don't buy a gun-shaped iPhone case


There are a lot of novelty iPhone cases out there, but here’s one which really isn’t a good idea: a gun-shaped case.

Yes, as you can see from the image above, this is essentially a replica gun built to be a holder for your iPhone, and as you can imagine, that’s really not a bright idea -- particularly not over in the US where it’s on sale, and gun crime is rife in one form or another.

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Small businesses under-prepared for cyber security

Boardroom security

Although there has been heavy media coverage of information security issues in the past year, more than half of Britain's small businesses say that they aren't taking any preventative measures to protect themselves against cybercrime.

According to a survey by identity protection specialist CSID 52 percent of UK small businesses aren't guarding against cybercrime and a large majority (85.3 percent) don't have any plans to increase their budgets for security implementation, and less than 13 percent are working with a third party vendor to protect themselves. When asked about their concerns in the event of a data breach, 53 percent of respondents were worried their reputation would be damaged. Yet despite these fears only 47 percent of respondents are monitoring what is written about their brands online, and less than 15 percent have a social media policy in place. Only nine percent were worried about the negative impact on employees.

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How to find out who unfriended you on Facebook


Ever wanted to know when one of your Facebook friends deletes you? Well now there’s an app that’ll tell you that and more.

Unsurprisingly named "Who Deleted Me on Facebook", the app shows you which accounts have unfriended you, which have become deactivated and who is online.

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Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10162 arrives on the Slow ring

win 10 10162

Windows 10 Build 10162 was released to Fast ring Insiders five days ago, the third new build to appear in a week. A day later, and Microsoft released ISOs of it, so anyone could install the new version, although there was still no official release to Slow ring Insiders.

Thankfully, Microsoft has deemed the latest build to be stable enough for all, and finally pushed out the update to those Insiders who prefer to receive stable builds.

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WinToFlash converts Windows setup discs to bootable USB drives


Installing Windows normally requires a setup disc, which is just fine, unless your optical drive isn’t working. Or your system doesn’t have one at all. Or the disc is scratched and unreadable. Or you really don’t have the patience for those painfully slow data transfer rates.

One effective solution is to transfer your Windows setup files to a bootable USB drive. Novicorp WinToFlash has being doing just that since 2009, and despite development stalling for some time, a recent rush of major new releases means the package is finally out of beta.

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Context Menu Manager for Windows


Double or right-click a file in Explorer and it’s not always obvious what's going to happen. You might find context menu entries for all kinds of long-forgotten applications, and Windows provides no obvious way to clean up.

Context Menu Manager is a free (well, ad-sponsored) portable program to help you browse your current file associations, view their context menus, clean up broken entries, and maybe add a few new right-click options to get your system working better.

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Microsoft gets its Groove back -- rebrands Xbox Music


As one of the few (at least it feels that way) people who subscribes to Xbox Music, I have a real love/hate relationship with the service. On Windows 8.1 and 10, it is absolutely glorious. Finding music is easy and it integrates very well with the operating system. On iOS and Android? Not so much. On Google's operating system in particular, the songs skip, making a satisfying listening experience impossible. There is no iPad-optimized version at all. Sigh.

Today, Microsoft is rebranding Xbox Music to Groove (not to be confused with Microsoft Office Groove). While I find the name to be an improvement, many Xbox fans will likely dislike the new name. Hell, I don't care what it is called, as long as it works well. One thing is for sure, a new name will not solve the usability woes. However, I am hopeful that a new brand means a renewed interest in developing the service for the better.

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Apple wants to control the look of third-party accessory packaging


Any company wanting to sell its accessories in Apple stores may as well fire some of its designers. Continuing its image-control efforts, Apple is to phase out accessories that are supplied in ugly, non-conforming boxes. Only those accessories that are packaged in boxes co-designed with Apple will be guaranteed shelf space in a store.

Many manufacturers already go to some lengths to mimic the look of official iPhone and iPad packaging, but it won't be long before this is compulsory. A memo sent to retail store staff reveals that accessories from the likes of Incase, Logitech, and Mophie will soon feature the cookie-cutter look that has become synonymous with Apple packaging.

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Social network Facegloria bans swearing, gay content, and sin


Need a social network to connect with friends and likeminded individuals? Take your pick; there are dozens to choose from. Facebook remains by far the most popular and, as it is used by real people, it is filled with everything that makes up life -- the good and the bad. In response, a group of Evangelical Christians in Brazil set up Facegloria with the aim of becoming "morally and technically better than Facebook".

Actually the real aim of the site is to promote Christianity -- to the extent that rather than a Like button, there is an Amen button. Think "godbook", if you will. Of course there are restrictions -- religion isn’t meant to be fun, you know. On the list of banned content is violence and pornography, swearing (there are literally hundreds of banned words), anything that violates "biblical principles", and depicting or referring to homosexual activity.

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Samsung launches 2TB 850 PRO and EVO SSDs


Solid state drives are the bee's knees as far as I am concerned -- the best upgrade any PC user can make. Even as prices come down, however, there is still a big issue -- limited capacities. Understandably, a user might be hesitant to replace a 1 or 2TB hard drive with a much smaller SSD.

Well, today this changes. Samsung -- a very reputable company -- launches the massive 2TB 850 PRO and EVO SSDs. While this is certainly reason for celebration (and drooling), the price tags may shock consumers.

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Amazon announces Prime Day, claims more sales than Black Friday


Think you got some good deals and a lot to choose from on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Amazon now wishes to top that with an even better event -- Prime Day. The retailer is looking to roll out deals to its most valued customers, those who subscribe to Prime for the good deals, free shipping, and more.

The deal is in celebration of Amazon's 20th birthday, which occurs next week. The sales will be available to customers in the US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Austria.

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