Mark Wilson

Twitter moves non-US accounts to Ireland away from the NSA

Twitter moves non-US accounts to Ireland away from the NSA

Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats US and non-US users differently. If you live in the US, your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope.

What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by US law, it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-US operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.

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Office Universal apps preview coming to Windows 10 for phones very soon

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Microsoft comes under fire quite often for seeming to favor Android and iOS over its own mobile platforms. Apple and Google's mobile operating system have been first in line for all manner of Microsoft apps and services, and it was much the same story with the mobile versions of Office.

Today Microsoft is taking steps to allay the concerns of Windows Phone users -- you have not been forgotten! Specifically, the company says that the preview version of Office Universal apps will, or at least should, be made available for Windows 10 for phones by the end of the month.

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Google cleans up URLs in mobile search results with breadcrumbs

Google cleans up URLs in mobile search results with breadcrumbs

Google is revamping the way URLs appear in search results on mobile devices. Smaller screens have a tendency to truncate lengthier URLs, and even when this doesn’t happen diminutive screen size can make addresses difficult to read.

To combat this problem, the search giant is introducing a new breadcrumb trail presentation with a view to making the information easy to absorb at a glance. But what does this change actually mean?

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Zuckerberg says Internet.org is not anti-net neutrality... but it is

Zuckerberg says Internet.org is not anti-net neutrality... but it is

A few days ago Mark Zuckerberg conducted a Q&A on Facebook. Despite tens of thousands of comments, very little of interest came out of the session -- he works 50-60 hours a week, likes Oculus (surprise, surprise), and he stands behind his Internet.org project which is providing internet access to people all over the world, including those in remote and developing locations. As is to be expected from a Q&A session, Zuckerberg also found that he had criticism levelled at him in addition to questions, including criticisms of his beloved Internet.org.

Some people pointed out that even in the US there is still a digital divide, while others complained that Internet.org goes against the principles of net neutrality. This obviously struck a nerve because the Facebook founder felt the need to defend the program and express his support for net neutrality. My colleague Manish Singh wrote about this, but is Zuckerberg right? Can Internet.org and net neutrality really live happily side by side?

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Instagram is OK with a little nudity, preferably at a distance

Instagram is OK with a little nudity, preferably at a distance

Photo-sharing site Instagram has updated its community guidelines to make it clear what sort of images are acceptable. If you were hoping to use your account to supply your followers with a stream of pornography pics, you're out of luck, sadly. Nudity is -- for the most part -- out (we don’t allow nudity on Instagram), including "close-ups of fully nude buttocks"; distant shot of butts are, seemingly OK, as are close-ups of partially clothed cheeks.

Whether we're talking about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any of the other countless social networks out there, users frequently fall foul of acceptable content guidelines. Images of nudity and violence are frequently complained about and Instagram's latest guidelines now make it abundantly clear what’s OK and what's not.

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Microsoft makes mobile image searching a (nearly) typing-free experience

Microsoft makes mobile image searching a (nearly) typing-free experience

Microsoft thinks that typing on a mobile device is difficult. At the same time it understands that "you love to discover images" on the very same devices. To help make your mobile searches a little easier to conduct, the company is introducing a number of tweaks and changes to the iOS and Android Bing app.

Of course it is not possible to entirely eliminate the need to input words in order to conduct a search, but Microsoft has taken steps to reduce it to an absolute minimum. How has this been done? Enter simple search terms and you're provided with a couple of new ways to drill down to exactly what it is you're looking for with just a few taps.

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Lost your phone? Just Google it

Lost your phone? Just Google it

Becoming reunited with your lost phone just got a whole lot easier. It doesn’t matter if you're alone and don't have access to another phone to ring your cell to see if it has slipped down the back of the sofa. To make life a little easier, Google is rolling out a feature that enables you to conduct a Google search for your phone.

Whether you have mislaid it in the house, or somewhere further afield, Google will help you to track down your beloved handset. You just need to make sure that your phone is updated with the latest version of the Google app and you're ready to go phone hunting. It's a bit like an extension of the feature found in Android Wear, so how does it work?

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Google hits back at European antitrust charges

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Google abused its position in Europe to further its own online products, says the European Commission. Following a five-year investigation, Google stands accused of abusing dominance in Europe, violating antitrust laws. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager says that Google gave its own shopping comparison service greater priority over rivals in search results.

The company's mobile operating system is also in the firing line. Android, it is said, has been used by Google to promote its own products and services over those of rivals.The Commission is also launching a formal investigation into Android to determine whether Google acted anti-competitively with its mobile operating system. Attention is focused on Google's bundling of its own apps after forming agreements with hardware manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, Google disagrees.

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Nokia buys Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion, considers selling HERE

Nokia buys Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion, considers selling HERE

Following on from yesterday's confirmation that Nokia was in talks with Alcatel-Lucent regarding a possible buyout, the Finnish company has now gone ahead with the purchase. Nokia is paying €15.6 billion ($16.6 billion) for the French telecoms equipment manufacturer. The deal is expected to be finalized in the first half of 2016, subject to shareholder approval.

The coming together of forces is very much a forward-looking venture. Nokia says that the combination of Nokia Technologies and FutureWorks with Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs will allow for "unparalleled innovation capabilities". Nokia also announced that it has initiated a strategic review of its HERE business, but it is not yet clear whether this will ultimately result in its sale.

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Nokia could boomerang back into the mobile market with Alcatel-Lucent purchase

Nokia could boomerang back into the mobile market with Alcatel-Lucent purchase

At the beginning of the week rumors started to creep out that Nokia was interested in buying Alcatel-Lucent. The story started with a report on Bloomberg and -- rather surprisingly for such rumors -- Nokia decided to not only comment on the rumor, but confirm that it is true.

Details are still rather thin on the ground and there's no hint at a possible timescale for a buyout of the French telecoms firm. What the statement does do, however, is open up the interesting possibility that Nokia could be on the verge of re-entering the smartphone market after offloading the handset side of its business to Microsoft.

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It's your own fault phishing scams are successful

It's your own fault phishing scams are successful

There is no need for cybercriminals to launch sophisticated attacks, or exploit vulnerabilities, to gain access to valuable information; a simple phishing email is all that's needed to convince a worrying number of people to hand over their login credentials. This is just one of the findings of a new security report due to be published by Verizon.

The telco reports that more than two thirds of security breaches involving phishing tactics. The number of people who fall for this type of scam means that phishing remains successful and popular as a means of extracting data from people. In this age of technological enlightenment, it might come as a surprise that more than one in 10 people who receive a phishing email open attachments or click the links they contain.

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Windows remains vulnerable to serious 18-year-old SMB security flaw

Windows remains vulnerable to serious 18 year old SMB security flaw

A serious security hole leaves millions of Windows users open to attack, making it possible to extract encrypted credentials from a target machine. Researchers at Cylance say the problem affects "any Windows PC, tablet or server" (including Windows 10) and is a slight progression of the Redirect to SMB attack discovered by Aaron Spangler way back in 1997.

Redirect to SMB is essentially a man-in-the-middle attack which involves taking control of a network connection. As the name suggests, victims are then redirected to a malicious SMB server which can extract usernames, domains and passwords. Cylance also reports that software from companies such as Adobe, Oracle and Symantec -- including security and antivirus tools -- are affected.

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Pixel pushing -- what's the point in Sharp's 5.5 inch 4K 806ppi screen?

Pixel pushing -- what's the point in Sharp's 5.5 inch 4K 806ppi screen?

It is a given that whatever technology you see in front of you will be bettered if not next week, then next month or next year. Processors will get faster, hard drives bigger, laptops thinner and... well, you get the idea. In the realm of mobile devices there was a time when size meant everything. Mobile phone screens grew larger and larger, but then focus started to switch.

Size, it turned out, was not everything after all; it’s the number of pixels that matters. We started to see ppi figures quoted everywhere, Apple even came up with its own label for the pixel density at which pixels became indistinguishable -- Retina Display. This was just the start of the battle of the pixels, though, and now things are starting to get a bit silly. Sharp has announced a 5.5 inch 4K screen which boasts a pixel density of 806ppi. Say, what?

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Watch Game of Thrones for free on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One

Watch Game of Thrones for free on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One

The wait is now over for fans of Game of Thrones. After a slight break, the first episode of season five aired last night and there were plenty of ways to watch it: HBO NOW for Apple users, or Sling TV to name two legal options, or you could opt to grab a torrent of the first four episodes after they leaked online.

For anyone who wants to see the first episode for free, while staying on the right side of the law, there's another option. Microsoft has announced that the Season 5 premiere is available free of charge to Xbox Live members. There's extra content available too, but you'll have to be quick as S05E01 is only available for a few days.

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Unlock a secret dark theme in Windows 10 with a registry hack

Unlock a secret dark theme in Windows 10 with a registry hack

Build 10056 of Windows 10 Technical Preview -- which leaked online in the last few days -- has a hidden dark theme. If you have grabbed a copy of this particular build, you'll have noticed that there are a few tweaks here and there such as a resizable Start menu and a redesigned system clock.

But if you're happy to tinker with the registry, you can unlock a whole new look for the operating system, taking Windows 10 to the dark side. It brings to the desktop version of Windows 10 a theme option reminiscent of Windows Phone. Pull on your registry editing pants... we're going in.

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