Following all of the NSA revelations, mass surveillance has increased the general level of paranoia to be found online -- although it could be argued that not all surveillance is bad. With everyone on such high alert it's little wonder that an app that described itself as "an anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves" should be so popular. Whisper encourages users to embrace the supposed anonymity it offers and reveal secrets they would not otherwise feel comfortable sharing.
In times of natural disaster and chaos, people are increasingly turning to social media for news and updates. But while Facebook is a handy way to keep up to date with the latest news about Ebola, earthquakes, and other problems, it's also a valuable means of checking up on loved ones to make sure they're OK. Now the social network has a new tool that makes it easier than ever to let your friends and family know that you’re safe if you happen to be in or near a problem area.
It’s a simple idea. Facebook uses your statuses and check in details to determine where you are. If you happen to be in a disaster area, a message will pop up in your account or mobile app asking if you're OK. You can then indicate that all is well and your friends and family will be able to see that there is no cause for concern.
It's not a watch. It's not a watch. It's not a watch. Despite appearances to contrary (it tells the time and is worn on the wrist for starters...), Black Eyed Peas' singer and tech fiend will.i.am is keen to assure us that his new wristband is most definitely not a watch. Unveiling the wearable, the smart cuff, the wristband -- call it what you will, as long as it's not a watch -- at Dreamforce in San Francisco, he showed off the fact that the Puls (pronounced Pulse, not Pulls) can be used to make calls without the need to be paired with a mobile phone.
It's a device that has been teased for quite some time now. Will.i.am has been seen on many occasions with the band on his wrist, but had resisted giving away too many details. Now we know it is a curved screen device complete with its own SIM card, 16GB of memory and 1GB of RAM, and a Siri/Cortana-bating voice recognition system called Aneeda (I need a...).
The web is truly worldwide, the epitome of globalization and the ever-shrinking world. As much as the McDonaldization of the world means that cultures are on an homogenizing course, there are still plenty of differences to embrace -- language is one of them. Spend just a little time surfing the web and there's a reasonable chance that you'll encounter a foreign language site, or at least a few words and phrases that are beyond your high school French and Latin.
Enter stage right Google Translate. This service of course n'est pas nouveau. In fact Google Translate has been around for ages. Mais maintenant il y a un Chrome extension that makes the translation process easier than ever. Oubliez visiting a dedicated website, now your translation is a mere click away.
Well... Android Lollipop (née Android 5.0), the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 were expected, but Google managed to sneak a little 'one more thing' addition to today's batch of announcements. Nexus Player, as you'd probably guess from the name (and certainly from the headline), is a streaming media device. But in addition to catering for all your video and music streaming needs, the device also doubles up as a games console.
In many ways the Nexus Player is an extension of Chromecast -- there is even casting support. Google has teamed up with Asus to bring us a device that not only streams media, but also streams games from phones and tablets. And this aims to be more than a console for casual gamers; there's even a gamepad that's very reminiscent of the Xbox One controller.
The Irish government is phasing out the so-called 'Double Irish' finance scheme that currently enables companies such as Google and Apple to slash millions (or even billions) of dollars from their tax bills. The scheme works by companies, regardless of where they may be operating in the world, collecting their profits through an Irish office (where tax is already low), and then funneling the money through a subsidiary company located in another tax haven by means of royalty payments.
Companies, like individuals, are understandably keen to keep their tax bills down as much as possible, and will jump through lots of hoops to reduce the amount of tax they have to pay. Offshore bank accounts, subsidiary companies and the like might sound like the makings of something illegal -- which it can be -- but it's a legitimate way to reduce costs. But the fact that something is legitimate doesn't mean that it's popular. At least it's not something that is popular with governments.
Mention web or mobile surveillance, and you're sure to raise a few hackles. But the current Ebola outbreak is showing that the data collected from handsets can be extremely useful. The idea of tackling a disease with 'big data' gathered from mobile phones might seem a little odd, but it's actually an incredibly valuable source of information. Telecom firms such as Orange have been working with data scientists, using anonymized data gathered from phones to track population movement in regions affected by Ebola.
The BBC points out that even in relatively poor countries in Africa, mobile phone ownership is still high. Experts have been able to use this data to determine the best places to set up treatment centers, and it's an idea that has been pounced upon by the CDC.
Google's security team has discovered a vulnerability in SSL 3.0 which can be exploited to steal secure cookies and other data. The 15 year old technology is still used as a fallback when connection problems occur as it helps maintain backward compatibility, but the security problems mean that Google will start to phase out support. Details of the exploit have been published and Chrome has today been tweaked to disable SSL 3.0 fallback.
Bodo Möller from Google's security team points out that this move will "break some sites" and that they will need to be updated. This does present some compatibility issues, and the advice is to support TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV instead, at least for the time being.
There are too many security firms offering insufficient security. At least that's what Ilia Kolochenko, CEO and founder of High-Tech Bridge thinks. He points to the splitting of Symantec as proof that security companies are struggling, and suggests that the emergence of so many firms competing for attention is the start of a new dot com bubble that could burst at any moment.
Security is important to both home computer users and enterprise businesses. There is a huge amount of money to be made in the field, so it is perhaps little wonder that the number of companies muscling in on the market is on the increase. Kolochenko says that at the end of the century a lot of tech companies sprang up overnight and "most of these businesses were designed to create artificial problems or boost non-existent demand in order to make quick money. They didn't actually solve any real problems". There is a danger that the same could happen in the security world.
There have been various headlines recently about cloud security breaches -- including the celebrity 'event' that shall not be named -- and the latest problem to hit the cloud affects Dropbox users.
This time around it's not a security problem, but it does involve losing control of one's files. A problem with the Selective Sync feature of some older versions of the Dropbox desktop app meant that files were deleted rather than synced. It's a problem that Dropbox users have been complaining about for a little while but the cloud storage provider has now confirmed the bug and issued assurances that the problem has been addressed.
In the wake of the Fappening, online porn and nudity has been thrust into the public consciousness once again. But porn is about much more than titillating celebrity photos -- even if research shows that we're finding it easier to waste our time online when we should be getting on with work. Revenge porn is on the rise, and steps are being taken to try to thwart its progress. As the Fappening showed us, taking saucy pictures of oneself or partner is far from uncommon. This is fun and exciting in the middle of a relationship, but if that relationship should break down, there's no knowing what could happen to those pictures and videos.
Disgruntled partners may decide to get revenge on their former lovers by sharing those intimate photos and movies online, or it may be obtained by a third party and used as a tool for bribery. Many US states have outlawed the practice, and now the UK is following suit.
Microsoft is encouraging people who have downloaded the Windows 10 Technical Preview to provide feedback on the embryonic operating system. The Start menu is something that users have been begging for, and changes to the Command Prompt have been a very long time coming, but just what do testers think of Windows 10 so far? There's still quite some time to go until Windows 10 is released giving Microsoft lots of opportunity to respond to user feedback. This is what Microsoft is all about these days after all.
With help from one of the readers of his Supersite for Windows, Paul Thurrott has pulled together a list of the top ten requests that have been received so far. The methodology may not be entirely scientific, but it does give an interesting insight into how Windows 10 has been received and what people would like to see changed.
There must be something in the air at the moment -- everyone seems to be splitting up. eBay and PayPal decided that it would be better to go it alone, and then HP announced it would be splitting into consumer and enterprise companies. Symantec now reveals that it plans to divide into two independent companies, one focusing on security, and the other on storage.
President and CEO, Michael A. Brown, says that the two markets face their own sets of unique challenges and by splitting in two, each business will have the flexibility needed to respond accordingly.
In a post on the Surface blog, Microsoft has moved to assure businesses that the Surface line is here to stay. We've already heard that the Surface Pro 3 is a success -- although there are no figures to back up this claim -- but Microsoft's failure to launch a third generation RT-based version of the Surface, as well as the disappearance of the long-rumored Surface Mini, raised fears that the line of tablets may not be long for this world. Microsoft is keen to allay these concerns, pointing out not only that Surface is here to stay, but also that it is particularly suitable for businesses.
The post points out that the Surface Pro 3 is a device that's "great for getting things done". There's almost an air of desperation to the blog post in which Microsoft extols the virtue Surface and confirms its commitment to the brand. The selling point is still that the device is a laptop and tablet in one, and post author Brian Hall, General Manager for Surface, is quick to mention a number of big names who have adopted Surface Pro 3.
Over the last couple of decades the internet has revolutionized how we work, how we shop, how we communicate, and how we consume media. In most regards it has made life quicker and easier, but it has also brought challenges and side-effects. Technology may have made many tasks simpler, but it has also increased distractions and shepherded in more ways to procrastinate. You've probably noticed that while you can get many things done faster than ever, you spend a great deal of time doing nothing of worth.
In fact, rather than saving money, the widespread adoption of technology could be costing business dearly. Research shows that nearly two-thirds of employees spend work hours browsing sites unrelated to work -- a surprising 3 percent of them spending more than 10 hours a week actively avoiding work online. All of these wasted man hours add up, resulting in an average cost of almost $3,000 for employee each year.