Latest Technology News

Ello pockets $5.5 million, legally pledges to never feature ads

Ello pockets $5.5 million, legally pledges to never feature ads

Out of nowhere, Ello exploded, ninja-style, into the public eye. The social network shot to fame after Facebook's real name policy sent many users scuttling off in search of a new home, and the spartan, "beautiful" (Ello's word, not mine) social network welcomed an influx of new users. In addition to the "use whatever name you want" philosophy, users were happy to find that Ello offered a completely ad-free experience.

Now the lack of ads has been enshrined in law. While pocketing $5.5 million in a new round of venture funding, Ello has converted to a State of Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). The social network vows to never show nor sell ads, and requires this commitment to transfer to any future owner, should the company be acquired.

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Amazon rolling out Fire OS 4.1.1 to its tablets

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Amazon recently released a new line of Kindle products, featuring two new tablets and readers respectively. With the release came an update to the retailer's version of Android, known as Fire OS. It's a highly customized take on Google's mobile platform -- almost unrecognizable, in fact.

Now Amazon is rolling out an update to it, bringing the system to version 4.1.1. The update doesn't seem to have hit the 2013 models yet, but those with the latest tablet should be seeing it now, or at least very soon.

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Top 5 tips for avoiding project failure

Happy man

How can I avoid project failure? That's a question I'm asked all the time. There's no doubt things today are complex -- products have millions of lines of code, dozens of variations, and projects usually have hundreds or even thousands of stakeholders, often all in a perpetual state of development. But, the reality is that failure isn't usually a result of all this complexity. Rather, it's generally caused by a collaboration meltdown.

Research from Forrester paints a clearer picture. According to the firm, the biggest problem in product development is a mismatch between the expected and actual value of a product, and the number one reason that products are delayed is unclear or changing requirements. In addition, more than 40 percent of companies cite an inability to agree on product requirements.

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Microsoft launches lockscreen apps for Android, Windows Phone

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Microsoft app launches are usually predictable. Most are offerings which aim to get us hooked on the software giant's most-prominent products, like Office, OneDrive, Outlook.com and Xbox. But, every once in a while, Microsoft does something out of the ordinary, like it wants to tell the world that, much like startups, it too is capable of intriguing and exciting things.

After launching a lovely keyboard for Android Wear, Microsoft just released a whole bunch of apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, made by an in-house team of "hackers, makers, artists, tinkerers, musicians, inventors" called Microsoft Garage. The most interesting offerings are Torque, which my colleague Brian Fagioli just covered, and two lockscreen apps, for Android and Windows Phone.

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Understanding how decisions affect the enterprise

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In large companies it can be difficult for decision makers to see the full impact their choices have. A new product from decision support specialists Mu Sigma aims to provide a holistic picture of how things are connected.

The product, called muUniverse, is designed to give decision makers at Fortune 500 companies a complete view of their business decisions, allowing them to navigate an increasingly complex set of interconnected problems they face in areas such as sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, risk, and others.

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How to combat cyber attacks using speed and sophistication

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During a cyber attack, every second counts. While an attack can happen in an instant, it can take months to remove it from an organization’s infrastructure. For some organizations, there can be more attacks in one hour than a well-staffed security team can address in an entire day. That's a big problem.

Historically, attackers have had the advantage over defenders by being able to choose from a broad array of tools, around-the-clock attack windows, and innumerable attack types. If one type of attack failed, an attacker could simply try again and again until vulnerabilities were discovered. Moreover, cyber attacks are easy to organize and cheap to enact.

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B&O PLAY introduces BeoPlay A2, its first Bluetooth speaker

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Bluetooth speakers can be a mixed bag, audio-wise. I have a Cambridge Audio speaker which I’m very happy with, but I may be tempted to stray now that B&O PLAY has launched the BeoPlay A2.

The stylish new speaker is designed be carried and has a leather strap/handle on the side. It features Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound and delivers 180W power, with True360 omni-directional performance so the audio should sound good no matter where you are in the room. It has two speaker drivers on each side -- a 3/4-inch tweeter and a 3-inch full range driver.

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Oculus Rift owners will be able to go to the moon

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US scientists have developed a robot that will allow Oculus Rift owners to see the surface of the Moon as if they were really there.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed the project to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize, which is offering $30 million to a team that can send video back from the Moon.

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Google Earth for Android gets perhaps its biggest update yet

earth-n9-nyc

Google Earth has never been too highly publicized, besides maybe a couple seconds in a Nexus tablet commercial here or there. A lot of the awesome use cases for Earth have also been slowly integrated into Google Maps. Maps is new and stylish where Earth feels antiquated, Maps is light and fast where Earth is slow and laggy. Hence, Earth hasn't had wide appeal, especially when Google showered Maps, its prodigal son, with attention.

Google has finally shown Earth some love with a significant update for Android. You can see the change right from the get-go, as the icon has been redesigned to fit in with the material guidelines (although looks a lot like AT&T now).

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Microsoft releases Torque -- a Bing-powered Android Wear app

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When the smartwatch concept started to take off, I was dubious to say the least. I mean, I own a smartphone, so why do I need another device that essentially duplicates functionality of my phone? It is an honest argument, but I'll concede that I was wrong -- smartwatches rock. Well, to be more specific, Android Wear in particular kicks major ass. I love my Samsung Gear Live which I recently got.

As great as Google's watch concept is, it is a bit limited. It tells me the weather, checks my heart rate and alerts me to Android notifications, and that's cool, but clearly the sky is the limit for the new platform. Today, an unlikely company, Microsoft, releases a new Android Wear app called "Torque" and it is powered by Bing. Yes, a Bing app on a Google watch -- are pigs flying?

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Forget Facebook, Microsoft now has a 'share with Yammer' button

Yammer-Share

Okay, that may be a bit over the top. I doubt most users will be forgetting Facebook anytime soon, but it isn't the only social network. Don't forget Microsoft owns Yammer, which is geared more towards business than personal use. That doesn't mean it should be left out of the equation though.

In an effort to cash in on the social sharing craze, Microsoft is bringing Yammer to web sites. Yes, the business network will be included with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the rest of the set, allowing users to share stories.

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Employees are distracted by technology -- should employers ban smartphones?

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I will admit that I am addicted to my smartphone -- there, I said it. Quite frankly, I am becoming addicted to my smartwatch too, but I digress. You see, I am not alone in this, as many people seem glued to their devices nowadays. However, I know to put away my devices when it is time to work. Sadly, many people use their smartphones for personal reasons as they do their job. If I go to Starbucks, the barista is usually distracted by her iPhone, and I end up with the wrong drink -- I'll be like "listen lady, I wanted a venti, not a grande, hop off of that Instagram, yo!"

Sadly, this seems to be plaguing society, but businesses are getting hit hard; employees are too damn distracted! Today, a new report explains that a large amount of the workforce is distracted by technology. Should employers start banning smartphones and tablets at work?

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Windows 10 to include built-in two-factor authentication

Windows 10 to include built-in two-factor authentication

We've looked at the two public builds of the Windows 10 Technical Preview -- the initial, disappointing, embryonic build 9841, and the very slightly less disappointing build 9860 -- but of course the best is still to come. There are many features we expect to find their way into the final build, such as Cortana, and there are sure to be many surprises. One interesting inclusion is built-in two-factor authentication.

The presence of this valuable security feature is revealed by Jim Alkove in a post on the Windows blog in which he talks about the importance of identity protection and general security. He explains that Windows 10 will start to move users away from single factor authentication -- the humble password -- in favor of more secure options.

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Microsoft is killing Xbox Music free streaming

Microsoft ending Xbox Music free streaming from 1 December

Microsoft is pushing music fans towards Music Pass by cutting off one supply of free streaming music. On December 1st, the free streaming feature of Xbox Music will be no more, leaving Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and web users looking for new ways to satisfy their music streaming cravings.

In an announcement posted on the Xbox website, Microsoft explains that it wants to encourage music fans into signing up for a paid Xbox Music Pass. The posts explains that there is a free 30 day trial available, but once this is up, the charge is $9.99 per month. Is this likely to fly with users who have been enjoying music for free? That remains to be seen...

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Kinect apps come to the Windows Store, Kinect SDK 2.0 and adaptor kit launch

Kinect apps come to the Windows Store, Kinect SDK 2.0 and adaptor kit launch

Kinect has moved on. Once a peripheral that encouraged gamers to dance manically in front of their consoles, it has now evolved into something rather more sophisticated. As part of Kinect's on-going development Microsoft today released Kinect SDK 2.0 following the developer preview program from last November. Developers not only have scores of improvements to enjoy, but they now have the ability to deploy Kinect apps to the Windows Store.

This news goes hand in hand with the release of a new Kinect adaptor. The adaptor makes it possible to take an Xbox One Kinect and connect it to a PC or tablet. There's no need to choose between a Kinect for Windows v2 and Kinect for Xbox One as they both now perform identically.

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