Mark Wilson

EFF joins dozens of groups to create global coalition to fight for net neutrality

EFF joins dozens of groups to create global coalition to fight for net neutrality

The net neutrality debate has been rumbling on for some time now. Barack Obama even waded into things recently by giving his backing to campaigns that suggest all web traffic should be treated equally. But the US president is far from being the only big name speaking out against the two-tier internet that some providers would like to see created.

Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) -- a group involved in many online campaigns and whose tagline is "defending your rights in the digital world" -- is joining forces with other equality advocates, including Greenpeace, to create a global coalition fighting for net neutrality. The latest campaign is a concerted effort to ensure that the internet is not transformed into something that delivers a poorer service to certain customers.

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Partial refunds for PS Vita customers after Sony's 'misleading' ads

Partial refunds for PS Vita customers after Sony’s ‘misleading’ ads

Sony has been hit with an order to issue partial refunds to customers who bought PlayStation Vita consoles. The Federal Trade Commission found that the company had produced false advertising for the handheld console which suggested that the PS Vita had certain features when in fact it did not. Anyone who bought the console before June 1 2012 is entitled to either $25 cash or credit, or a $50 voucher.

Adverts for the three year old console suggested that players could start a game on a PS3 and pick up from where they left off on a PS Vita console. This feature was only supported by a small number of games. Ads also suggested that 3G subscribers could engage in live online games when in fact this was not possible.

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Windows 10 Build 9879 hits Slow ring, ISO and BSOD fix also released

Windows 10 Build 9879 hit Slow Ring, ISO and BSOD fix also released

With Windows 10 technical Preview, Microsoft is delivering updates to Windows Insiders on two different schedules. People who have opted to join the Fast ring for preview updates already have Windows 10 Build 9879, but today the latest build starts rolling out to those who opted to stay in the Slow ring, or just didn’t know that the faster option was available.

After a couple of weeks' testing on Fast ring guinea pigs, Build 9879 is rolling out to the Slow ring. There have been no changes in the move from Fast to Slow ring, so we know what to expect but Microsoft has taken the opportunity to issue a separate update to fix an issue that caused a BSOD on some systems. But what will please anyone who has been waiting to perform a clean installation of this latest build -- the last public build we'll see until next year -- is the news that Build 9879 has also been made available as an ISO as the Windows Technical Preview November Update.

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GreatFire.org and BBC punch uncensored news through the Great Firewall of China

GreatFire.org and BBC punch uncensored news through the Great Firewall of China

The Great Firewall of China is renowned for the restrictions it places on what Chinese citizens can access online. Free speech advocates have long called for the Chinese government to allow access to the wider web, so people in China can get a better idea of what is going on elsewhere in the world. Now GreatFire.org, working with the BBC, has found a way to deliver uncensored Chinese language news to those on the wrong side of the firewall.

GreatFire.org is an anti-censorship group that monitors web blocking in China and campaigns against censorship. Various techniques for getting around the Great Firewall of China have been publicized in the past, but they have relied on VPNs and other tools that can be complicated to set up. The latest method requires no special tools.

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Thousands of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal sites threatened by CryptoPHP backdoor

Thousands of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal sites threatened by CryptoPHP backdoor

A large proportion of websites are built on a CMS rather than raw HTML. Three of the most common are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, and security researchers at Fox-It warn that site administrators are at risk of being socially engineered into installing the CryptoPHP backdoor on their server.

Distributed through pirated themes and plugins, CryptoPHP's spread is thanks to the light-fingeredness of site admins. It was first detected in 2013 and is still actively spreading. The capabilities of the "well developed" backdoor include remote control of an infected server, and Blackhat SEO -- a form of illegal search engine optimization.

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Google's removal of homophobic 'gay hunting' game was far, far too slow

Google's removal of homophobic 'gay hunting' game was far, far too slow

This morning there was flurry of activity on Twitter as people became aware of the existence of a game called Ass Hunter on Google Play (link included for the sake of completion, although it's no longer active). There were snorts of indignation, incredulous shakes of virtual heads, and numerous cries for Google to pull the app without delay.

This has now been done. The game, which described itself as a "popular game on hunting gays", encouraged people to "play and do not be gay" is not new. The Android game is (or was) a port of a title that dates back almost a decade, and its appearance in the Play store highlights an important difference between Google's and Apple's app stores -- the vetting processes involved.

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Symantec uncovers Regin, a highly advanced stealth spying tool developed by a nation state

Symantec uncovers Regin, a highly advanced stealth spying tool developed by a nation state

Security firm Symantec has released details of an advanced cyberespionage it has discovered. Called Regin, the backdoor Trojan is described as having a structure that "displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen". Symantec goes as far as saying that the levels of resources required to create such a highly advanced tool indicate that it was created by a nation state -- although there is no suggestion about who it might be.

The report says that Regin has already been used in mass surveillance programs not by but against government organizations. Symantec estimates that the tool may have been years in development, as it delivers multi-stage attacks, and great lengths are taken to hide each stage. The framework was designed to facilitate long-term surveillance, and the concealment techniques used make Regin difficult to fully understand.

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Apple and Microsoft both appear in TIME's best inventions of 2014

Apple and Microsoft both have entries in TIME's best inventions of 2014

It's the time of year -- no pun intended -- when websites and magazines start to reflect over the year that has passed. As we reach the closing stages of 2014, TIME has taken a look back at the preceding months and picked out its highlights from the world of innovation in its annual collection of "the best inventions making the world better, smarter and—in some cases—a little more fun".

There may not be quite the same importance placed on TIME's favorite inventions as its annual person of the year award, but it makes for interesting reading nonetheless. With a print circulation running into millions, it's a publication that holds some influence across swathes of America. Apple and Microsoft make appearances in the list, but there are a few surprise inclusions from the world of tech as well.

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Alienware Alpha is the next-gen console ready to take on PS4 and Xbox One

Alienware Alpha is the next-gen console ready to take on PS4 and Xbox One

It must be coming up to Christmas; Alienware, the game-focused arm of Dell, is beginning to ship its new gaming console. The Alienware Alpha is described as the world's first PC gaming console, and it has been designed to blend the power of a gaming rig with the ease of use of a console. With prices starting at $549, gamers have the ability to customize their hardware to suit their needs. The Alpha runs Windows 8.1, and it includes either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, as well as a USB adapted Xbox 360 controller.

The price of the console is bumped up for anyone opting to increase the size of the hard drive or speed of the processor, but the aim here is to blow the Xbox One and PS4 out of the water with raw power.

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Twitter now lets you share public tweets via Direct Message

First Twitter makes all tweets searchable, now they can be shared via DM

You're probably well aware that Twitter features a search option at the top of the page which you can use to track down individuals or topics. Less well-known is the dedicated search page which is the Twitter version of Google (complete with advanced search parameters), albeit one that is -- obviously -- limited to searching within the confines of Twitter itself.

A couple of days ago, this search engine became slightly more useful when Twitter announced that it was indexing every single tweet that has been sent since 2006. Creating a somewhat Shakespearean internet-within-the-internet, Twitter is a valuable resource not only for information but also social commentary. Another update today makes it possible to share any interesting tweets you discover via direct message in addition to the recently added URL sharing option.

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Google Contributor lets you pay to hide adverts on websites

Google Contributor lets you pay to hide adverts on websites

Online ads have been seen as the scourge of the web since they were first dreamed up. There are various ways you can avoid them, but they exist for a reason -- to generate revenue. Google may have come up with a solution that keeps everyone happy, website owners and visitors alike. Google Contributor is described as "an experiment in additional ways to fund the web" and it makes it possible to kill ads without killing revenue.

It's invite only at the moment, but once Google Contributor is properly up and running, web users will be invited to make a monthly "contribution". This will enable them to browse participating sites without being bothered by ads; instead you'll see a thank you message or just empty space.

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Microsoft Research makes great strides in automatic image captioning

Microsoft Research makes great strides in automatic image captioning

Microsoft Research is home to all manner of interesting projects and experiments, and one of the latest that the team is keen to share news about is automatic image captioning. There are no prizes for guessing what this is -- it's very much what it says on the tin -- and the technology has now reached a stage where the automatically generated captions for an image are at least as good as those thought of by people.

A team of just 12 worked on the project, and the results are pretty impressive. The system analyzes an image and identifies its key components. After determining objects and characteristics, these can then be evaluated in relation to each other to help decide what is important, and what can be ignored.

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Apple no longer offering 'free' apps in the App Store

The end of 'free' apps in the App Store

Take a browse through Apple's App Store and you'll notice something interesting: there are no free apps for Mac, iPhone and iPad any more. Or at least you'd be forgiven for thinking that was the case. Rather than trying to entice people into downloading apps by emblazoning a sexy "Free" button next to them, Apple now opts for a more descriptive "Get" button.

This does not mean that free apps now cost money, but it does mean that the apps you download may cost you money further down the line. Confused? The rewording of the download buttons seems to have come about because of regulators in Europe expressing disapproval that apps previously labeled as free could lead to large bills via in-app purchases.

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Mozilla, EFF and others join forces to encrypt the web with free security certificates

Mozilla, EFF and other join forces to encrypt the web with free security certificates

It has been a long time coming, but the web is slowly transitioning away from HTTP to HTTPS. Google has done it with Gmail, and Yahoo did the same with its webmail service, and security advocates would like other websites to follow suit. The problem, for smaller sites at least, is the cost involved. But a new venture between Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mozilla, Cisco, the University of Michigan and IdenTrust will eliminate the cost obstacle when it launches next summer.

The partnership has brought about the creation of Let's Encrypt, a new certificate authority that will provide free security certificates to those who need them. It is hoped that handing out cost-free certificates will encourage more sites to adopt the HTTPS protocol. But Let's Encrypt does not just eliminate the financial hurdle.

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Tech companies like Facebook and Google lead the way in delivering LGBT equality in the workplace

Tech companies like Facebook and Google lead the way in delivering LGBT equality in the workplace

US technology companies are setting a benchmark for those in other sectors to reach for when it comes to LGBT equality in the workplace. These are the findings reported in the thirteenth edition of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. The HRC rates workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion and equality, and this year's report shows that there is now greater awareness and understanding of the transgender community.

The index rates companies using a variety of factors including the presence of non-discriminatory policies, the existence of transgender-inclusion healthcare, and whether or not there are guidelines in place to encourage transgender inclusion. This year there are a record number of businesses attaining a 100 percent rating, and 14 of these fall into the hardware, software and data services areas of the tech sector.

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