Wayne Williams

Yahoo use soars and Google nosedives as Firefox 34's great search switcheroo begins

Yahoo_Sunnyvale_daytime

Two weeks ago Mozilla announced that it would be jettisoning Google as the default search option in Firefox, opting instead to go for Yahoo, the search engine that most right-thinking people stopped using, and caring about, years ago (at least Mozilla didn’t select Ask.com).

Firefox 34 launched at the start of the month, with Yahoo as the default choice for US users, and instantly the newly selected search engine saw a massive increase in usage.

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Google's 'No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA' makes it easier to prove you're not a robot

Not a robot

The CAPTCHA is a truly annoying creation. It prevents robots and scripts from pulling content from websites, or spamming them, which is great for website owners and hosts, but irritating for site visitors because it forces them to "prove they are human" by solving a challenge. This usually involves reading and entering some distorted text into a box, although there are other variations.

I personally find them hugely irksome as sometimes they fail to recognize when you get the words right, and sometimes they let you through when you get the words wrong. More importantly, they waste your time. Thankfully, the days of the CAPTCHA are numbered, as Google has come up a human-friendly solution.

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Happy 20th birthday PlayStation

Playstation

20 years ago today, Sony’s beloved PlayStation console was released in Japan. Launched into a gaming world utterly dominated by Sega and Nintendo, the PlayStation quickly became the must-have console. I got my initial first-hand experience of it at E3, and remember it being pretty much the only thing people there were talking about. I was (and still am) a dedicated PC gamer, and the PlayStation was the first games console I ever bought.

Sony’s PlayStation was an essential purchase for gaming fans -- especially those into driving and fighting games, which the console excelled at -- and it’s fair to say the PlayStation quickly had a massive impact on the gaming world, leaving a legacy that is still very much in evidence today.

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Hub It: An essential, fully customizable sync and charging station for all your devices [Review]

Hubit1

Many of us own multiple devices that charge or are powered via USB. Even though many PCs come with at least two or four USB ports these days, and USB charging adapters that plug into wall sockets are commonplace, that may not be enough. In other words, you may occasionally find yourself needing to charge something, without a spare USB port, or a cable for the task -- especially if you live in a house with teenagers. If all devices used Micro USB life would be simpler, but sadly, they do not.

This is where Hub It comes in. It's a powered sync and charging station that can power/charge up to seven items simultaneously, and includes connectors for all of your devices, including smartphones, tablets, iPhones and iPads, and digital cameras.

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StatCounter: Windows 8.1 is now more popular than XP

Win8 vs xp

It still has plenty of haters, but Windows 8.1 is finally finding an audience. It may not be anywhere near as sizable as the audience Windows 7 commands, but after losing usage share earlier in the year, the tiled OS is finally headed in the right direction, and at speed.

Earlier today I reported on NetMarketShare’s figures which show Windows 8.1 as having 12.10 percent of the desktop OS market, but now StatCounter has released its own figures which show Windows 8.1 as having just hit a pretty special milestone -- overtaking Windows XP for the first time.

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Bing unveils top searches of 2014 -- but there are some curious omissions

Kim Kardashian

As 2015 draws ever closer, we’ll begin seeing retrospectives highlighting the most memorable moments of the past year.

With a month of 2014 still to go, Bing has jumped in first with its look back at the people, moments and events that have shaped the year. There are some interesting highlights but some even more curious omissions.

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Windows 8.x is no longer a huge embarrassment to Microsoft

Surprise

Last month Windows 8.x's usage share did something very surprising -- it went up. Massively, according to figures from web analytics firm NetMarketShare. The tiled OS had been losing share for months, but in October it suddenly took off like a rocket, packing on 4.54 percentage points share in a single month, mostly at the expense of Windows XP.

It wouldn’t have been a total surprise to see Windows 8.x's growth stop, or go back into reverse gear in November, but actually, both Windows 8 and 8.1 showed positive gains once again.

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BitTorrent unveils its first original TV series -- Children of the Machine

children-of-the-machine

Although BitTorrent’s reputation is as a means to download music and movies illegally, the company is trying to change that by offering original, and legal content.

Two months ago, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke released a new album as a paid BitTorrent Bundle, and now the file sharing firm announces its first original TV series -- Children of the Machine.

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UK High Court orders ISPs to block a further 53 piracy sites

Piracy

If you live in the UK it’s getting ever harder to access pirated music and movies on the web. After years of trying to defeat pirates in various ways, including suing downloaders, representatives of rights holders have found that the easiest and most effective solution is to take their complaints to the high court and ask for the infringing sites to be blocked.

The process, which started with the banning of The Pirate Bay in 2012, is now so straightforward for the likes of the Motion Picture Association and BPI (British Phonographic Industry), that whole batches of sites are getting outlawed at a time. Yesterday there were 40 copyright infringing sites blocked in the UK, today that number more than doubles to 93.

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PowerSkin selling $50 iPhone and Android battery packs for just one cent on Cyber Monday

PSK-POPN-MBA-RD

There are plenty of bargains to be had before, during, and after Black Friday, and if you’re shopping for a battery back to charge your iPhone or Android device, hold off a few days and you’ll be able to pick up a steal of a deal on Cyber Monday.

PowerSkin, a leader in portable power solutions, sells PoP'n battery packs that cost $49.99, but on Monday the retailer will be offering them for just one penny (plus $7.99 shipping and handling).

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Alternative finance -- New ways to spend your money

Money

The days of paying for everything with cash are slowly drawing to a close, and if you borrow or pay back money, there’s a very good chance wads of notes won't be involved in the transaction. I personally do a lot of online shopping, pay for goods in real shops using contactless cards, and send money and pay bills via an app, and I imagine a lot of people do the same. I still carry a wallet, but it generally doesn’t have much, if any, actual money in it.

Foreign exchange marketplace CurrencyFair.com has put together a very detailed, and great looking infographic covering the many different and innovative ways you can now make payments and exchange currencies -- from crowdfunding, through peer-to-peer payments, to cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

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Slow devices are causing billions of lost hours a year

Sleep

I’m pretty impatient when it comes to technology and I’ve often wondered just how much of my time is being wasted while I’m waiting for something to load, or download, or for tasks to complete. Memory expert Crucial.com has done a spot of surveying and discovered that slow tech is responsible for wasting billions of hours every year.

The company surveyed 1,148 Brits, aged 16-65, and found the average person wastes over 39 hours each year (or 6.5 minutes a day) waiting for slow technology to complete everyday tasks. It also found some people wasted as many as 121 hours a year. For the whole of the UK, this equates to a whopping 2.1 billion hours of wasted time per annum.

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Samsung U28D590D: An affordable UHD 4K 28-inch monitor [Review]

au_LU28D590DS-XY_001_Front_black

4K displays are becoming much more common, giving buyers a far greater range of choices. The Samsung Series 5 UHD LED Monitor (U28D590D) does a good job of balancing quality with affordability -- just £419.99 from Ebuyer.com including VAT and delivery -- and takes seconds to setup.

The 28-inch LED edge-lit screen offers a native resolution of 3840×2160 pixels, and the monitor sports a black plastic casing with a glossy bezel and an aluminum T-shape stand. Putting it together is just a matter of screwing the neck to the stand (using two pre-installed screws) and then sliding the screen into the neck.

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Microsoft reveals its Black Friday deals -- snap up a Surface Pro 3 bargain

SP3-Designers_Print-695x463

You can’t have failed to have noticed that Black Friday is nearly upon us, with a wide range of deals being offered by pretty much every retailer and manufacturer.

It will come as no surprise then, that Microsoft is preparing its own raft of offers, covering everything from Surface Pro 3 and Surface 2, to Xbox One and Lumia 830. If you’ve had your eye on any of those products, now is the time to get your wallet out.

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Free up space in Windows 10 with the new Disk Cleanup System Compression feature

disk cleanup

Windows 10 Technical Preview is very much an early work in progress. Microsoft is releasing new builds on a fairly regular basis (although the next one isn’t expected until the New Year), and implementing changes based on user feedback. Personally I’m liking what I’m seeing so far.

Although Microsoft discusses the major new features and changes in each build, there’s still some hidden functionality that you may not be aware of. Case in point is the little known System Compression option tucked away in Disk Cleanup.

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