Mark Wilson

Anti-trolling site aims to stamp out online abuse, sexism, and homophobia

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The day after the US Supreme Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, the self-explanatorily named Stop Abuse Online website has launched. While the site has been set up with the intention of combating online abuse and trolling in general, female and LGBT victims are a particular focus.

The aim of Stop Abuse Online is to offer advice to those who find themselves falling victim to abuse -- be it online harassment, stalking revenge porn, or blackmail -- complete with legal tips about how to deal with different circumstances. The site is run by seven voluntary organizations in the UK and looks to bring the same protection to the web that people expect in the real world.

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AppleCare+ now covers batteries that drop to 80%

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For anyone concerned about their new Apple device, AppleCare+ protection can sound appealing -- even if it might seem expensive in some instances. Today Apple has updated the terms of AppleCare+ for iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple Watch giving a better deal for people worried about their batteries.

Previously, the extended warranty only covered batteries that would hold 50 percent charge or less. Now this has been updated so that you can request a free replacement within the coverage period if your device's battery is only able to hold 80 percent of full charge. The new terms do not apply to everyone -- it all depends on when you bought your Apple device.

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Reddit blocked in China, Wayback Machine blocked in Russia

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It is becoming increasingly common for governments around the world to block access to websites they don’t approve of for one reason or another. The most frequent censor is China, and the latest site to fall victim to the Great Firewall of China is Reddit. If you're not able to pop over to China to check whether the site is blocked, you can use Blocked In China to test whether any site is accessible from within the country.

This is not the only site which people are having trouble accessing. Over in Russia, the Internet Archive -- responsible for the nostalgia-inducing Wayback Machine -- is also blocked. While the blocking of Reddit in China has probably been done on purpose, the same may not necessarily be true in Russia.

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BBC reveals links censored by Google's Right To Be Forgotten

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Google's Right To Be Forgotten gives people the chance to request the removal of search results linking to pages that contain information they believe to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant". Google says it rejects more requests than it complies with, but there is still concern that the company is not providing enough detail about what it is doing. There have been calls for greater transparency from the company about the censorship that is taking place.

The BBC has published a list of all of the stories from its own site that have been removed from Google search results. The corporation announced that it wanted to be clear with people about which links has been deleted and plans to update the list each month. It already extends to nearly 200 entries and the BBC explains that while the stories may no longer be shown by Google, they are still available uncensored on the BBC site.

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Apple starts to cull apps that feature the Confederate flag from the App Store

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Following the Charleston shootings in which nine people were killed, debate has raged about whether it is reasonable to display the Confederate flag. A symbol of the South for some, a racist throwback for far more, the flag has already been ditched by the likes of eBay and WalMart. Now Apple has started to clear the App Store of apps that feature the rebel flag.

Developers have been contacted by Apple with a warning that their apps are being dropped "because it includes images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways". While this is clearly the case in some instances, the new policy has also affected Civil War games that include the flag for historical reasons.

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Facebook fails to develop a diverse workforce

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Like transparency reports, diversity reports have become quite the fashion at the moment. Companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon are keen to demonstrate that they are not dominated by white, middle-class men, and that they are open to the full gamut of gender identities and sexualities. Today Facebook released its second diversity report showing that at Mark Zuckerberg's company things haven’t really improved over the last year.

More than half of the workforce (55 percent) is white, and at senior leadership level this jumps all the way up to nearly three quarters (73 percent). The percentage of black workers at the social network is incredibly low -- just 2 percent. The gender balance is largely skewed as we have come to expect. Across the company 68 percent of employees are male, although in 'non-tech' roles women make up 52 percent of the team. For those striving for equality, the numbers make for somewhat depressing reading.

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Cloud platform Fasetto shows Google how Undo Send should be done

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A couple of days ago, Google took Gmail's Undo Send feature out of its six year beta period, and brought the option to a wider audience. Although the feature has been widely welcomed, there has also been criticism, particularly about the measly 30 second time limit users are given to change their mind and recall an email. Today Fasetto launched Messaging 2.0 which includes the ability to recall or edit messages or files that have been sent, with no time limits.

Fasetto is a cloud storage platform that offers security features that will appeal to the enterprise, as well as home users. Available for Windows, Android, iOS, OS X, and even Windows Phone, the platform has a focus on security that extends to being completely free of tracking and log files, but it also has a thing or two to teach Google.

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Google bows to pressure to remove eavesdropping extension from Chromium

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Google has removed an extension from its open source browser Chromium after people complained that it had been downloaded without permission and then listened to users through their microphones. The Chrome Hotword extension was used by Chromium to offer "OK, Google" voice activation to the browser.

Privacy advocates were concerned about the potential for eavesdropping, particularly in light of the fact that users were not warned of the presence of the extension. There was also concern that the extension is not open source, so it was not possible to see exactly what it was doing. In response to complaints, Chrome Hotword has now been made an optional component.

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Apple Music earns artists just 3 cents an hour

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It has been hard to avoid talk of Apple Music over the past couple of weeks. After the initial excitement of the launch, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the revelation that there were no plans to pay artists during the initial three month free trial period.

Never fear, Taylor Swift is here! After complaining on behalf of musicians around the world in an open letter to Apple, Ms Swift managed to convince Apple to change its mind and dip its hand into its pocket. But did this mean that a great deal was offered? Clearly being paid 'something' is better than not being paid at all, but the New York Times reveals that Apple will be paying out just 0.2 cents every time a track is streamed.

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Google asks Android developers to show sensitivity to disasters and atrocity

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Today Google revealed an updated version of its Google Play Developer Program Policies. There aren't actually all that many changes or additions, but those that are present are quite interesting. Google is clamping down on the problem of impersonation, making it clearer that it is not permissible to mislead users by imitating other apps, making false claims, or suggesting endorsements that do not exist.

One of the more intriguing changes to the document sees Google calling on developers to show sensitivity to evens such as natural disasters, war, and death. Any apps or other content that attempt to benefit by exploiting such events are explicitly banned.

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Microsoft brings Office to Android smartphones for free

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After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones -- it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year.

Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.

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Russia's secret online pro-Putin propaganda army outed

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The internet is an incredibly powerful propaganda tool, and this is something that certain countries around the world have latched onto. The likes of China, North Korea, and Russia have long been either accused of, or known to, use the web to spread government messages and controlling what others are able to publish online.

Now a court case in Russia has blown the lid on a secretive agency which promotes a positive image of Vladimir Putin online. The Agency for Internet Studies operates from St Petersburg and has been dubbed a "troll factory". An employee took the agency to court for allegedly making labor violations and underpaying workers. Unwillingly thrust into the public eye, the agency is keen to wrap things up quickly to avoid further scrutiny.

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Samsung is disabling Windows Update without users' permission

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Windows Update has long been pushed as the way to make sure that Windows is fully patched and secure as possible. It is recommended that it be left in Automatic mode so updates are downloaded as they are released. Samsung, however, has different ideas.

The company has been found disabling Windows Update on a number of the computers it sells, channeling people to use its own SW Update tool instead. Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker noted the activity when he found a program called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe on his computer. The culprit was Samsung's crapware.

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iOS 9 makes space for updates by deleting apps... and then reinstalling them

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It's only a few weeks since Apple announced some details about iOS 9. One feature that grabbed the attention of many people was Apple's move to address the problem of iOS getting a little fat -- it was announced that iOS 9 will need far less free space to perform an upgrade. But if you are running very short of room, there's a new reason to smile.

The second version of the iOS 9 beta was released to developers today and, as noted by 9to5Mac, Apple's mobile operating system features a great new way to handle devices that are low on space. iOS 9 is now able to temporarily delete apps to free up the necessary megabytes, before reinstalling them when the update is complete.

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Undo Send feature promoted from Labs to all Gmail accounts

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We've all had occasions when we've sent an email and then, for one reason or another, wished we hadn't. It may have been a message fired off in anger, or a missive you notice is littered with typos. For some time -- six years in fact -- Google has offered a bit of a safety net in the form of the Undo Send Labs feature.

For more than half a decade this was nothing more than an experimental feature, hence its appearance in Labs. But now Google has announced that it is being properly integrated into Gmail for everyone to use. There's no need to enable an experiment option any more, this is now a feature that everyone can access through Gmail's settings.

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