Wayne Williams

Icon History shows which sites you're addicted to


We all have multiple favorite websites we visit on a regular basis -- Google, Facebook, BetaNews, and so on. But if you've ever wondered how often, and when, you visit them, a new Chrome browser extension can show you.

Install Iconic History and it will scan your browser history, create a favicon for each URL you visited, and then layout the favicons in a sequence based on access time. You can scroll through time (Chrome stores up to four months’ worth of history) and hovering over a favicon will tell you the site name, and access time. Clicking on a favicon will open that site in a new tab.

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Apple introduces 8GB iPhone 5c, brings iPad 4 back to life


It’s fair to say the iPhone 5c hasn’t been a major success for Apple so far. Rumors prior to its launch suggested it would be a cheap iPhone, and while it is more affordable than the flagship 5s, it certainly isn’t "cheap". Those low cost expectations coupled with the actual price have affected the iPhone 5c’s sales -- with many buyers preferring to spend a little extra to get the 5s.

That might change soon though, as Apple has rolled out an 8GB variant of the iPhone 5c, making it available across Europe and China from today.

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Microsoft confirms Surface 2 with AT&T LTE -- goes on sale tomorrow


We knew it was coming, but today Microsoft confirms that it is introducing a 64GB mobile broadband-ready version of Surface 2, and you won’t have to wait very long to get your hands on it either, as it will be available from tomorrow, March 18.

"In launching this new version of Surface 2, we’re adding the power and reach of AT&T’s 4G LTE network to an already fantastic device", Panos Panay, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Surface, states. The new slate will be available in the US at Microsoft retail stores, www.microsoftstore.com and at BestBuy.

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Fixya reveals top problems affecting Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U consoles

Xbox smoke

Games consoles, like any complicated piece of hardware, can go wrong in myriad ways, and usually at the most inappropriate moment -- when your wife’s out for the evening and you’ve got a freshly purchased copy of Titanfall, and a group of trigger-happy friends standing by, for example.

Popular product Q&A service Fixya has sifted through over 40,000 troubleshooting requests relating to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U and put together a report detailing the top five commonly encountered problems for each of the next-gen consoles. It doesn’t break down the number of problems per console (thereby neatly sidestepping fanboy accusations of one being shoddier than the other) but does still make for interesting reading.

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Best iOS apps this week


Tenth in a series. A big week for Apple as it released the long-awaited update for its mobile operating system. iOS 7.1 adds support for CarPlay, enhancements to Siri, iTunes Radio, Calendar, and Accessibility, and a new HDR camera setting for iPhone 5s. The big news for owners of iPhone 4 is iOS 7.1 runs far less sluggishly on the older hardware.

Of the new and updated apps that have arrived in the store this week, highlights for me include a free adventure game from two ex-LucasArts designers, an app which transforms everyday snaps into works of art, one that stops you forgetting...er… something… and a kitchen app that that will let you find, and conjure up, delicious culinary delights.

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The BEST Start button and menu choices for Windows 8.1


Whatever your reasons for switching to Windows 8.1 -- be it finally upgrading from XP, or the arrival of a new PC at home or work --  you’ll find "New Windows" a slightly alien place at first. You can action various changes to make it more like the OS you’re used to (boot to desktop -- soon to be the default -- and switching to the All Apps view are great first moves), but if you want a proper Start button and menu, you’ll need third-party help. Fortunately there are plenty of great choices available, including some excellent free programs like Classic Shell and IObit StartMenu 8.

Seasoned Windows 8.x users might sneer at you for "going back to the old ways", but there’s no question that if you use a keyboard and mouse and have limited interest in the Modern UI, a "real" Start button and menu can do wonders for your productivity. Here are our top 14 recommendations -- free and paid.

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Corero's SmartWall Threat Defense System helps defeat DDoS attacks [Q&A]

Cyber attack

Any Internet related provider, whether it be a Telecom Carrier, Internet, Multi-Service or Cloud Provider (ISP/MSP/CSP) or Hosting/Co-Lo Provider are unwilling accomplices to DDoS attacks and other cyber threats that transit, terminate or originate on their networks.  Service providers and their customers are inseparably linked by the challenges DDoS attacks present.

As attacks have grown in size, frequency and sophistication in recent years the demands to ensure service availability and service security from customers have risen in unison. Corero has responded to this challenge with the launch of the SmartWall Threat Defense System (TDS). I spoke to Ashley Stephenson, CEO, Corero Network Security, about the new product.

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Fiverr launches new Android app


If you have a talent -- be it singing, computer programming, or crafting -- you can make a little extra cash from it by advertising your service on Fiverr. As the name of the site suggests, most offers are priced at $5, although top-rated sellers can offer single orders upwards of $8,000. Examples of available services include recording voiceovers, providing SEO reports on websites, offering business and legal advice, and creating illustrations. I’ve used the service in the past with great results.

Fiverr already has an iOS app available, and now the marketplace is rolling out a free Android app too.

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Apple releases iOS 7.1, fixes bugs, adds extra features

iOS 7

The first big update to Apple’s mobile operating system is currently rolling out to users now. The update includes various improvements and bug fixes.

Among the additions are support for CarPlay, and enhancements to Siri, iTunes Radio, Calendar, and Accessibility. There’s also a new camera setting which can automatically enable HDR on iPhone 5s.

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Best iOS apps this week

block fortress

Ninth in a series. This week Google updated its Gmail app, adding background refresh, so it can now fetch new mail even when it’s not open. This is a great addition, and stops you having to manually refresh to check for new messages. Google also added simplified sign-in. Log in to any Google app -- Gmail, Maps, Google+ or Chrome, for example -- and your account details will be used to log you in to all other Google apps automatically.

Of the new apps that have arrived in the store this week, there's a great, easy to use file transfer tool, an app that will help you monitor and (maybe) manage your caffeine consumption, a social local discovery tool, a dance game, and a cartoon racer that will let you go head to head against Top Gear's The Stig.

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Leaked help files reveal details on Windows 8.1 Update, and Windows 8.1 with Bing

Win update 1

Microsoft is readying an update for its tiled operating system that is expected to be released next month. Thanks to various leaked builds we have a good idea of what to expect from it -- plenty of tweaks to make it more keyboard and mouse friendly mostly -- and we thought we knew what it would be called too -- Windows 8.1 Update 1. However, it turns out that might not be the case.

Help files for the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.1 (leaked by WZor.Net) refer to the forthcoming pack as simply Windows 8.1 Update (so apparently not "Spring Update" or "Feature Pack" as some have suggested). They also reveal more about the mysterious "with Bing" edition of the OS.

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XP upgrades will slow the PC's decline, not spark a recovery


According to International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, global PC shipments fell by 9.8 percent in 2013, the most severe contraction on record, but the future looks slightly brighter going forward. And by "slightly brighter" I mean things thankfully shouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as they were last year.

IDC had been anticipating a decline of 10.1 percent by the end of 2013, so the actual results were slightly more positive than had been expected in mature markets (which includes the US, Western Europe, Japan, and Canada). Part of the reason for this is, IDC believes, down to short-term factors like the rise in people purchasing XP replacements, but it doesn’t expect this bump to last for very long. XP still accounts for a third of the desktop OS market share, and there’s currently no signs of a trickle of users migrating to Windows 8.1, let alone the flood of users Microsoft would like to see.

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Zombies, Run! Season 3 out next month


I went for a 5k run before starting work this morning, and as always Zombies, Run! provided me with the motivation required to not come to a stop, bored, after ten minutes. I’ve covered the immersive app several times in the past, but if you’re not familiar with it, Zombies, Run! basically turns a real-world jog into a journey through the zombie apocalypse. Episodic stories unfold in between tracks from your playlist as you run.

There are plenty of episodes on offer for regular runners, and a radio mode will give you something to listen to once you’ve finished with the main story and side quests. However, sooner or later you’ll have listened to everything and be ready for new tales, and the good news is they’re on their way.

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Skype for Outlook.com finally available to all, gains HD video calling


Ten months ago, Microsoft announced it would be rolling out a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com in the United Kingdom that would allow users to make audio and video calls directly from their inboxes.

Three months later, the devices and services giant expanded the preview’s availability to five additional countries -- United States, Canada, Germany, France and Brazil -- and stated it would be rolling out the feature to the rest of the world "in the coming weeks". A mere seven months later and finally, today, Microsoft makes good on that promise, announcing that Skype for Outlook.com is now available to all. The service also gains support for HD video calls.

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For the second month in a row, Windows XP shows stronger growth than Windows 8.x

New Windows shrug

It's a new month and so once again NetMarketShare reports desktop share for all of the major operating systems. What's interesting this month is all versions of Windows showed fairly minor changes. Whether dropping or gaining, the differences in share were minimal.

However, one inescapable truth is clear from the figures. While Windows 8.x might finally have shifted 200 million licenses, use of the OS has pretty much plateaued. In February, Windows 8's share declined from 6.62 percent to 6.38 percent, a drop of -0.24. Windows 8.1 increased shared from 3.94 percent to 4.30 percent, rising by 0.36. Combined, Windows 8.1 grew by just 0.12 percent.

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