Mark Wilson

Ad-blocker Crystal massively reduces bandwidth usage and page load times in iOS 9

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There's a lot to look forward to in iOS 9. We already know that the new version of Safari will include the option to block ads, but the browser is not going to be alone in clearing out unwanted ads. Crystal is an ad blocker for iOS 9 created "with the goal of making web browsing with the iPhone and iPad a great experience again".

It started life as a tool for testing iOS 9's own content blocker, but grew into a stand-alone project. Crystal is currently in closed public beta but its developer, Dean Murphy, has released some figures that show how effective it is. The results show that Crystal can speed up page load times by nearly four times and reduce bandwidth consumption by 53 percent. Impressive stuff, and the stats make for extremely interesting reading -- particularly for those waiting for the launch of a new iPhone.

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It's about to get easier to donate money to non-profits via Facebook

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Facebook is known as The Social Network, but it's about more than just being social. It's also used by businesses, charities, and other organizations to promote products, services and causes. To make it easier for non-profits to raise money Facebook is introducing a Donate Now button.

This is something that makes life easier for the donor and the recipient. Many non-profits are small operations which may not want to go to the trouble of setting up a fully-fledged website with a donation page. For people who discover a worthy cause through Facebook, it makes sense to be able to hand over some money through the same medium.

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Microsoft will launch Office 2016 on 22 September

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Just as with Windows 10, Microsoft has been running a preview program for Office 2016. After launching the Mac version of the office suite, we’ve been waiting for news about the PC edition will be released. Now, thanks to a leaked document, we now know it is due to launch on 22 September.

Internal documents obtained by WinFuture.de show that Office 2016 is set to launch in less than a month for home and professional users. Microsoft is preparing staff for the event, asking them to install the preview version for now and keep an eye on the Office 2016 Launch Hub for training documentation and other materials.

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Russia bans Wikipedia because Russia (and drugs)

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Russia has placed a complete ban on Wikipedia because of an article about cannabis. The country's Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) took exception to an article about charas -- a cannabis product popular in India.

The Russian Federal Drug Control Service deemed the article illegal because it included information about how the drug is made. Wikipedia's policy of not removing individual articles could mean that Russia's censors have no alternative but to block the site in its entirety.

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As stock markets tumble, Kim Dotcom recommends Bitcoin -- again

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Kim Dotcom -- he of Megaupload/Mega infamy -- has been out of the headlines for a while, but he's creeping back into the public eye once again with the launch of a new music streaming service, Baboom.
However, Dotcom is not just interested in promoting his latest venture, he also has a lot to say about many aspects of the tech world.

Back when he launched file sharing site Mega, rebuilt from the rubble of Megaupload, Dotcom was a proponent of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Now he's at it again, advising people to invest in Bitcoin in the wake of the Chinese -- and then global -- stock market tumble.

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Screen flicker and Explorer crashes in Windows 10? Blame Norton Antivirus, iCloud, or IDT Audio

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We've looked at many of the problems that you might experience after upgrading to Windows 10 -- from issues with audio to bothersome browsers. Some users are having problems with the explorer.exe process crashing and an annoying screen flicker. Three particular applications -- Norton Antivirus, iCloud, or IDT Audio -- have been cited as culprits, and Microsoft and Symantec have solutions.

There's no need to go as far as uninstalling Windows 10, but Microsoft does suggest that you restart your computer in Safe Mode and uninstall any of the aforementioned programs. Of course, Symantec would much rather than you continued to use Norton Antivirus, so the company has its own fix for the problem.

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Censoring transparency: Twitter denies Politwoops access to API

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Twitter has blocked Politwoops from using its API, effectively killing the service that archived and published tweets deleted by politicians. Politwoops has a number of international sites, each concerned with the politicians of different countries and it monitored the account of prominent politicians for deleted tweets before publishing them for all to see.

The US version of the service was denied API access earlier in the year, but over the weekend Twitter extended the ban to a further 30 Politwoops accounts. The tweets deleted by those in politics are often far more telling and revealing than those that remain in place, and this was the reason for Politwoops existence. Not for the first time, Twitter has entered the political arena, indicating that it views the deletion decisions of elected politicians as more important than the right of the electorate to see tweets that have been self-censored.

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Who should we believe about Apple Music usage numbers?

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It makes sense that any company would like you to believe that it has a large number of customers; if you launch a service, you want everyone to know just how popular it is. As well as boasting, it is a form of advertising in itself -- one that is free... the best kind.

But what happens when the figures you tout are at odds with what other people think? This is what is happening with Apple Music. Research company MusicWatch says that Apple's streaming music service retains just over half of users who sign up for the free trial. Apple disagrees, saying that it actually manages to hang on to 79 percent of users. Why is there such a big difference, and who is right?

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Paranoid torrent sites ban Windows 10 over privacy concerns

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Since the launch of Windows 10, there have been all manner of privacy concerns -- some grounded in fact, others less so. Whatever your view of the latest version of Windows, it's impossible to deny that this has proved one of the more controversial releases to come from the Microsoft stable.

Getting in on the paranoia now are torrent sites, with some coming out and saying they have implemented a ban on the use of Windows 10 to connect to their trackers. Seemingly in response to the news that Windows 10 could disable counterfeit games, torrent sites including iTS have already put measures in place to block Windows 10 users from accessing them, while the likes of FSC and BB are considering taking similar action. Over-reaction?

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No more Windows 10 keys for Insiders; post-RTM installs must be on previously activated PCs

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Each version of Windows has involved entering a product key either during the installation, or prior to activation. Things have changed with Windows 10, and as anyone who looked for their own Windows 10 product key will have found, Microsoft has used generic keys this time around.

For all intents and purposes, the installation of Windows 10 is now keyless, but there has been some confusion about what this means for future installations, particularly for Windows Insiders trying out new preview builds. Microsoft's Gabe Aul has stepped up to the plate to clear thing up, explaining that Insider builds can only be installed and activated on computers which have preciously activated the RTM build.

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Welsh car firm can't advertise on Twitter because it tweets in Welsh

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Twitter has inadvertently given a wealth of priceless advertising to a Welsh car company despite refusing to run its ads. Used car dealership Ceir Cymru has been operating in North Wales for over 30 years, but has been told that it is not able to advertise in its native tongue.

Twitter Ads supports just a limited number of language, and Welsh is not included. Having applied to use the service Ceir Cymru was told by Twitter that it would not be able to advertise as more than half of its tweets are in Welsh -- hardly surprising for a car dealership in Wales. Ceir Cymru says Twitter is "stamping on minority languages".

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Swatch swipes trademark for Steve Jobs' 'one more thing' catchphrase

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Is it a troll move, smart marketing, or something else entirely? It's not clear quite what Swatch wants to do with Steve Jobs' famous 'one more thing' line, but the Swiss watch company has grabbed a trademark on the three word phrase.

Before his death, Jobs was renowned for introducing a surprise (although frequently not so surprising) extra at the end of a presentation. Although Apple has never really exploited 'one more thing' in advertising, Swatch's new European trademark will no doubt stick in the craw somewhat.

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Apple launches free replacement program for defective iPhone 6 Plus iSight cameras

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Complaints about the camera of the iPhone 6 Plus have been plentiful, and Apple has finally acknowledged that there is a problem. It's not something that affects all iPhone 6 Plus owners, but the company says that phones manufactured between September 2014 and January 2015 could include a failed camera component.

Apple has set up a replacement program which enables those with problems with the rear camera to obtain a replacement. Before you get too excited, it is just replacement camera components that are on offer, not replacement iPhones. You'll need to check to see if your phone is eligible at the program website.

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Bcachefs is a new speed-focus Linux filesystem from Kent Overstreet

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Bcache was first announced by ex-Google engineer Kent Overstreet a little over five years ago. Now the Linux kernel block layer cache is being used as the basis for a new open source filesystem. The focus is on speed, but it is also hoped that the file system could be used for servers and storage arrays because of its reliability.

At this stage, Overstreet describes Bcachefs as "more or less feature complete" and says that even at this early stage performance numbers are "good enough to be interesting". At the moment, features such as replication, caching, and compression are supported, and there is the promise of snapshotting in future releases.

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Google integrates Twitter into search results on the desktop

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It's a little while since Google and Twitter announced a partnership that saw the integration of tweets into search results. When this feature started to roll out back in May, Twitter integration only applied to iOS and Android devices. Today it rolls out to desktop search results as well.

The new desktop integration means that it is now possible to search for hashtags, trending topics, and Twitter accounts with a regular Google search. Including real time events in search results is not new for Google, but Twitter integration adds a new dimension.

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