Mark Wilson

Microsoft issues KB3173040 as a final in-your-face reminder to upgrade to Windows 10 for free

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The promotion of Windows 10 upgrade by Microsoft has certainly proved controversial, and it was only this week that users were given an easy way to decline the upgrade offer. With the 29 July deadline for free upgrades fast approaching, the clock is really ticking now, and Microsoft is giving Windows 10 one final push.

Window 7 and 8 users are being offered update KB3173040. Its sole purpose is to advertise the availability of Windows 10 and to remind people that time is running out. Given the criticism Microsoft's decision to promote the Windows 10 upgrade deadline with a full-screen notification is a little... odd.

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Google makes it easier to try out beta Android apps with new Early Access section in the Play Store

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As the Windows 10 insider preview program has demonstrated, people love to get their hands on pre-release software. While it's easy to install beta software on a desktop computer, it has not been as straightforward for Android users. Until now.

Google has added an Early Access section to Google Play which -- you've guessed it -- features not-quite-ready-for-prime-time apps in beta form. The new section makes installing beta apps as simple as installing any other app and, after rolling out to a few users this week, the option is now available to everyone.

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Google reveals that Android N will be called... Android Nougat!

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The developer previews of Android N have been available for a little while now, giving a tantalizing taste of what’s to come. But one thing has been missing: the name.

After months of teasing and misdirection -- there can't be many people who weren't expecting to see Android Nutella -- Google has officially announced that Android 7 (probably) will be known as Android Nougat.

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At long, long last, Google Maps on Android and iOS has multiple destination support

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Google Maps has long been helping walkers, drivers and cyclists get from A to B. But for far too long, the desktop version of the navigation tool has been more powerful than the mobile version -- which is silly, really, as the mobile app is the one you're going to use while, you know, traveling.

Today, Google is rolling out an important new feature to the mobile app -- the ability to configure a route with multiple stop-off points along the way. Getting from A to B is great, but sometimes you need to go via X and Y. Now you can.

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Facebook uses Irish headquarters to skirt privacy laws

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Facebook has won an appeal against a court ruling that said the social network could not store data about people who did not have an account. It had been ruled that Facebook could not gather data about non-users in Belgium; Facebook responded by blocking access to those without an account.

Back in 2015, Facebook was told to stop this blocking or face hefty daily fines. Facebook felt that the ruling was unfair and appealed. In a new ruling today, the Brussels Court of Appeal said: "Belgian courts don't have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed".

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Facebook opens up about how it controls your newsfeed

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Earlier today, Facebook announced the latest tweak to newsfeeds. Having denied being politically bias towards Brexit, or having a liberal leaning, Facebook continues to face question and criticism about how its news feeds and trending topics are formulated.

As well as updating the way newsfeeds are populated, Facebook today revealed just how it choses what appears in your newsfeeds. This isn’t a case of full transparency, but it is an interesting insight nonetheless.

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Facebook tweaks its newsfeed, yet again, so you'll see more posts from people you actually know

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When it's not messing around with privacy settings and manipulating trending topics, there's nothing Facebook seems to like more than to tinker with timelines. Today the social network announces the latest changes to your newsfeed -- now you should see more posts from your friends and family.

The problem we currently face, Facebook says, is that there is "far too much information for any one person to consume". This is where algorithms come into play, meddling with timelines and newsfeeds in ways that never please everyone. The latest change promises that content from "the friends you care about" will appear "higher up in your News Feed".

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Google's creepy My Activity page reveals the terrifying amount of data collected about you

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That Google gathers data about you is not news. If you use Google products, it's something you've decided to put up with -- either that, or you live in blissful ignorance of. Whether you're using Gmail and YouTube online, Google keyboard on your Android smartphone, Chrome across platforms, or whatever, being a Google user means handing over an awful lot of personal information.

But just how much does Google know about you? If you use the voice-activated "OK, Google" feature of your phone, there are probably lots of recordings of you stored online; what about everything else? Google has now launched My Activity, a portal which reveals everything the company knows about you. Every search you’ve made, the apps you've used, the videos you've watched, and everything in between.

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Ad personalization from Google -- giving power to the people, or a privacy nightmare?

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Online ads aren’t going away anytime soon, and that'll keep the likes of Adblock Plus in business for the foreseeable future. But if you choose not to use an ad blocker and are therefore going to be bombarded with ads, they might as well be ads that are relevant to you, right?

Google is rolling out a new feature that enables users to choose the topics they are interested in so the ads they see will be more appropriate to them. But as well as improving the ad experience for users, the new scheme means that advertisers are handed even more information about people that can be exploited for financial gain. It also enables Google to use information it gathers about users to tailor ads.

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Evernote ramps up its prices by a third and imposes restrictions on free users

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Evernote has today announced that it is increasing the prices of its paid-for packages, whilst simultaneously increasing the restrictions on free Basic accounts. Both the Plus and Premium tiers are increasing in price by a third, while those looking to avoid having to pay will find that they are now limited to syncing data between just two devices.

Evernote says that the price increase reflects a "significant investment of energy, time, and money" that will be needed "to deliver the Evernote we envision" -- something the company admits it has a "long way to go" before achieving.

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Facebook launches Share and Save extensions for Chrome, redesigns Social Plugin buttons

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Facebook is all about sharing and consuming, and today the social network launches two new extensions for the Chrome browser that make it easy to do both. The Share to Facebook and Save to Facebook extensions do very much what you would expect, encouraging not only sharing, but also the use of Facebook as a bookmarking tool for articles you want to read later.

As well as these two extensions, Facebook is also rolling out redesigned Social Plugin buttons. The Like button that you see adorning so many websites is getting a modern makeover, losing the iconic Facebook 'f' logo, and gaining an emoji-lover-friendly thumbs up icon instead.

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Mozilla uses emoji game Codemoji to teach about encryption

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The world of technology relies on encryption. Everything from private messages to online payments are secured in this way -- but how does it all work? Mozilla has come up with a way to teach people about encryption, combining gaming and emoji into a useful learning tool.

Codemoji is described as "a fun way to learn about ciphers", and while you might think that it's aimed solely at children, there's something here for all ages. The idea is very simple: letters and words are translated into emoji so they can only be read by those who understand the decryption technique.

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Google teams up with LyricFind to show song lyrics in search results

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"Son and heir", not "sun and air". Excuse me while I "kiss the sky", not "this guy". If you've ever struggled to interpret the lyrics to a song, you've probably scurried online to look up what is actually being sung. By teaming up with LyricFind, Google just made this much quicker and easier.

No more jumping from site to site. No more ad barrages. Now Google will display song lyrics directly in search results from the world’s largest lyric licensing service. As well as making things easier for searchers, the deal means that artists get paid royalties as their lyrics are viewed.

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Microsoft releases .NET Core 1.0, complete with Red Hat Linux support

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Today at the Red Hat Summit, Microsoft announced the launch of .NET Core 1.0. Continuing the company's embrace of other platforms, the latest version of the open source .NET runtime platform supports Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and -- of course -- Linux.

At the summit, Red Hat said that .NET Core 1.0 will be fully supported by Red Hat Enterprise Linux. With Microsoft's partnership with Red Hat late last year, and the company's on-going expansion into the cross-platform cloud, Linux support is not entirely surprising. Also announced today was ASP.NET Core 1.0 and Entity Framework 1.0 for developers to get to work with.

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Microsoft pays out $10,000 for forcing Windows 10 on California woman

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The owner of a California-based travel agency has received a $10,000 settlement from Microsoft after a forced Windows 10 upgrade rendered her computer unusable. Teri Goldstein found that her work computer downloaded and started to install Windows 10 without her permission, but the installation failed.

The installation not only failed, Goldstein says, but also slowed down her computer, leading to days of lost business. After failing to get help from Microsoft's customer support, she took the company to court.

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