Mark Wilson

Apple explains the battery problem leading to iPhone 6s shutdowns

iPhone smartphone mobile apps

It is a couple of weeks since Apple announced a battery replacement program for iPhone 6s handsets suffering with random shutdown issue. At the time, the company gave nothing away about what the root cause of the problem was, but now it has opened up.

In a posting on its Chinese website, Apple confirms that the shutdown problems were indeed related to a battery problem. Specifically, the company explains that it was "a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been".

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Despite losing the general election, the Pirate Party could still form Iceland's government

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Back in October there was a mixture of great excitement and huge worry that the controversial Pirate Party could end up winning the general election in Iceland. That didn't happen, but with no clear winner there was an attempt to create a five-way coalition that ultimately failed after weeks of talks, paving the way for the radical party made up of poets, hackers and online freedom activists.

The Pirate Party -- which says it would offer exile to Edward Snowden and also embrace Bitcoin -- could still end up in power after being invited to form part of the government by Iceland's president. But even if the controversial, anti-establishment party does end up wielding power, it's unlikely that its more radical policies would come to fruition.

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Facebook offers a $20 million sweetener to improve Silicon Valley communities

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Mark Zuckerberg is well known for his philanthropic ventures -- he hardly keeps them quiet, after all. Now Facebook as a whole is getting in on the action, offering up a $20 million contribution to help improve the communities around Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.

It could be argued that the financial offering is not entirely selfless, but this will probably be of little concern to those who stand to benefit from a number of projects that will focus on building affordable housing, STEM training in the area, and legal support for those in need.

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Facebook is monitoring Roku and Apple TV streams to deliver targeted advertising

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Internet users are accustomed to the idea of targeted advertising. Both Google and Facebook take into account the things you look for online, the things you look at, the people you are connected to, and so on, and use this information to pelt you with ads they think you will respond to.

Having been forced to stop using data gathered from WhatsApp to deliver targeted ads to social network users, you might think that Facebook would consider toning down its ad personalization. But you would be wrong. For the last few weeks, Facebook has been testing the delivery of targeted ads to Roku and Apple TV based on what people are watching.

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Google's biggest apps, games, TV shows, books and songs of 2016

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As the year draws to a close, it's traditional to look back and pick out some highlights. This is precisely what Google has done, drawing up a list of the 'Best of 2016' from Google Play.

Covering books, TV shows, movies, streaming songs, apps and games, there are lots of big names listed in the rundown of what has been trending throughout the year around the globe. The likes of Pokémon GO make an unsurprising appearance, as do Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Justin Bieber, Deadpool, and The Girl on the Train -- but did your favorite make the list?

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A Christmas gift from SwiftKey -- free themes for iOS and Android

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It's December and the season of giving and -- of course -- receiving is just around the corner. You may have written your Christmas wishlist, dropped subtle hints about what you wanted, and you're now just waiting for your desires to be fulfilled. While it's unlikely that keyboard themes and skins featured highly, SwiftKey today announced that all of its themes are now available for free.

If you've harbored a secret desire to sex up your phone's keyboard but simply couldn't justify splashing any cash on something so frivolous and, ultimately, pointless, now's your chance to skin away to your heart's content. Free SwiftKey themes for everyone!

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Google's Santa Tracker counts down to Christmas

google-santa-tracker-2016

As it does every year, Google has just launched its Santa Tracker in the run-up to Christmas. Despite the name, this is about much more than watching Santa make his journey around the globe -- there's a bunch of fun and games to be enjoyed too.

As well as the online version of Santa Tracker, there's also an Android app, and even an app for Android Wear smartwatches. As we make our way through December, the Santa Tracker serves as an advent calendar, with a new treat revealed each day.

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FBI granted the right to hack the computers of any suspect running Tor, VPNs or anonymizing software

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Starting today, the FBI will now have a much easier time hacking just about any computer it wants to. The use of VPNs and other anonymizing software such as Tor meant that it was previously difficult for the Feds to apply for the necessary warrant within the relevant jurisdiction.

Now the location doesn't matter. A change to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure means that investigators can obtain a search warrant regardless of location. The expansion of FBI hacking powers comes after a failed Senate bid to block the changes to Rule 41, and there are fears that it is power that could be abused by Trump.

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Android 7.0 Nougat Beta (aka OxygenOS Open Beta 8) now available for OnePlus 3

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The OnePlus 3 may have been discontinued in favour of the OnePlus 3T, but it has certainly not been forgotten. Just after confirming that the two devices will enjoy the same update schedule once Android 7.0 is released for them, OnePlus has pushed out a beta version of Nougat for the older handset -- and it's leagues above the unofficial build we saw recently.

As this is a beta, you have to jump through a few hoops to get yourself a copy of OxygenOS Open Beta 8 -- which is based on Nougat. Actually, there's just one hoop: rather than enjoying the ease of an OTA update, you'll have to install the beta manually.

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The UK government's latest deluded idea: 'banning' underage sexting on social media

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When the UK government is not busy looking for ways to invade internet users' privacy, it's looking for ways to restrict what they are able to do online -- particularly when it comes to things of a sexual nature.

The health secretary Jeremy Hunt has made calls for technology companies and social media to do more to tackle the problems of cyberbullying, online intimidation and -- rather specifically -- under-18-year-olds texting sexually explicit images. Of course, he doesn't have the slightest idea about how to go about tackling these problems, but he has expressed his concern so that, in conjunction with passing this buck to tech companies, should be enough, right?

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The Internet Archive to set up Canadian mirror to stay out of Trump's reach

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Many people are concerned about just what Donald Trump might do when he becomes president in 2017, and some of the biggest concerns lie in the fields of technology and the internet. Worried about what the arrival of President Trump could mean, the Internet Archive is collecting donations to fund a Canadian mirror of the site.

The Internet Archive of Canada will lie outside of the jurisdiction of the US government and is being built based on the idea that "lots of copies keep stuff safe". Currently based in San Francisco, a blog post by the Internet Archive makes reference to fears about greater online restrictions that could be put in place by the US.

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The Church Committee calls on Obama for leniency for Snowden if not a pardon

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The calls for Edward Snowden to be pardoned by President Obama before Donald Trump takes office have been getting louder. But while many would like to see him given a get-out-of-jail-free card, there is a growing recognition that this simply might not happen.

The latest call in support of Snowden comes from the Church Committee (nothing to do with the church, rather the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, responsible for investigating illegal CIA activity in the 1970s). In a letter to the out-going president, 15 former members of the committee say that while it is open to debate whether Snowden's actions "merit a pardon, they surely do counsel for leniency".

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It is terrifyingly easy to bypass BitLocker in Windows 10

Windows 10 finger

The BitLocker feature of Windows is supposed to offer a degree of peace of mind that files are going to be secure -- but one expert points out that a simple key combo is all it takes to bypass the security feature.

A bug has been discovered in the way Windows 10 handles a Feature Update -- the installation of a new build of the operating system. By taking advantage of the bug, it is possible to access a Command Prompt and gain unrestricted access to the contents of the hard drive.

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The Snooper's Charter is now law, giving the UK some of the most extensive, invasive and draconian web surveillance powers in the world

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The Investigatory Powers Act 2016, the Snooper's Charter, legalized spying: call it what you will, the UK now officially has some of the most extreme internet surveillance powers in the world. The Investigatory Powers Bill was today given royal assent, meaning it has now passed into law.

Unsurprisingly, there have been huge protests from privacy groups, and an online petition against the new powers has already gained more than 136,000 signatures. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 not only requires ISPs to store records of their customers' browsing history, but also make this data available to dozens of government agencies, and even permits state hacking of phones and computers.

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Cold War 2.0: Russia is borrowing the Great Firewall of China to implement greater state censorship and control

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The Great Firewall of China is a famous tool of censorship and state control of the internet -- and Russia wants to throw up its own version of the web filtering system. Russia already operates the so-called 'red web' which is used to not only monitor what Russian citizens are up to online, but also implementing blocks and filters such as the recent ban on LinkedIn.

But now President Putin wants to step things up a notch. Russia and China have become close allies in recent years, particularly in the field of state control of the internet, and there are plans to roll out even greater controls over what web users are able to do and access online, ostensibly from fears of an uprising against the government.

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