Mark Wycislik-Wilson

Google delays rollout of updated feed due to technical hitches on Android

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Google's announcement last week that it was rolling out an updated algorithm-powered feed to its mobile apps led to (nonsense) speculation that the company's search page was also getting a redesign. After pooh-poohing this suggestion, Google has also revealed that its new mobile feed rollout has hit a snag.

Users who updated to the new feed experienced problems with it being blank. Tight integration with the Android home screen is causing issues, and now the rollout is being scaled back.

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Chinese government forces Xinjiang residents to install spyware on their mobiles

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China's control of the internet is no secret and the government's latest encroachment into people's lives sees residents of the north-west Xinjiang -- a largely Muslim area -- being forced to install surveillance software on their phones, sparking privacy concerns.

Notifications were sent out recently informing mobile users that they had just 10 days to download and install the Jingwang spyware. Random checks are now being carried out on the street to ensure that citizens have the app installed. Anyone found without the software faces up to 10 days in jail.

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Microsoft launches LinkedIn Lite in India ahead of a wider rollout

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Just like Facebook did with Facebook Lite and Facebook Messenger Lite, Microsoft is launching a cut-down, data-sipping version of LinkedIn for mobile users. LinkedIn Lite launches in India initially, and is designed for countries with limited mobile internet access.

This is an app designed for emerging markets, and as such it is Android-only; there are no plans for an iOS version. While LinkedIn Lite is starting out its life in India, it will eventually spread to a further 60+ countries.

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NSA says it is 'not the best time' to create a US-Russia cyber unit

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When Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin, the pair apparently discussed the idea of the two nations forming an "impenetrable Cyber Security unit." It's an unlikely partnership, to say the least, and NSA Director Mike Rogers has voiced his disapproval of the move.

Given the, erm, interesting relationship between the US and Russia, the controversy surrounding Russia's possible hacking of the last election, and Trump's ongoing problems defending himself over rumored Russian ties, it's perhaps little surprise that the NSA chief says "now is probably not the best time" for the two superpowers to work together on such a project.

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Attendees to disastrous Pokémon GO Fest refunded with PokéCoins and Lugia

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Yesterday, Grant Park in Chicago was packed with thousands of Pokémon fans. People of all ages attended the Pokémon GO Fest in the hope of catching ultra-rare Pokémon at the special event, but things did not go well.

A series of technical glitches meant that game-creator Niantic was forced to cancel the event. The large number of attendees led to network issues which could not be resolved, causing anger and annoyance among fans. As part of its compensation offer, the company is giving festival-goers $100 of Pokémon GO's in-game currency, Pokecoins.

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No, Google is not about to redesign its iconic minimalist homepage

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A few days ago Google announced plans to update its iOS and Android apps. The update sees the arrival of algorithm-powered feeds that display a personalized stream of content.  Note the reference to Apple and Google’s mobile platforms.

This story was widely reported in the tech press, but the Guardian decided to take things further, claiming that Google was on the verge of unveiling a "radical" change to it homepage on the desktop. The story is seemingly plucked out of thin air, as Google has made no such suggestion. In fact, the company has spoken out to refute the claim.

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Verizon's 'video optimization' test throttles Netflix and YouTube

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Verizon Wireless customers complained this week that the company was throttling Netflix traffic. With talk of net neutrality ringing in their ears, people were upset to find that download speeds were capped at 10Mbps.

When Netflix denied implementing a cap, the finger of suspicion pointed at Verizon. Now the company has owned up to testing a new "video optimization" system, but it's not clear how this resulted in the cap-like effects experienced by many users.

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UK government proposes mandatory drone registrations and safety awareness tests

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The UK government has announced plans to force private drone owners to register their devices as well as passing a safety awareness test -- a drone driving test essentially. The rules would affect drones weighing more than 250g and they come in response to an increasing number of near-misses between drones and aircraft.

The Civil Aviation Authority’s Airprox Board investigated no fewer than 22 incidents between drones and commercial aircraft in the first four months of the year, but police currently have a near-impossible task when it comes to tracing owners of drones that have been flown dangerously.

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YouTube Video Editor and Photo slideshows to close September 20

YouTube

YouTube has quietly revealed that its Video Editor and Photo slideshows features will close down in just two months. It seems that not enough people are using the two tools to warrant keeping them alive, so they are being "retired".

Users are warned that while videos that have already been published will remain accessible, projects currently sitting in Video Editor must be completed by the shutdown date of September 20.

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YouTube employs the Redirect Method to counter searches for violent extremist videos

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Google, Facebook and other big tech companies have all committed to trying to eradicate extremism from their respective networks in recent months. YouTube has just announced its latest strategy, with a technique which sounds rather like a type of contraception.

The Redirect Method uses a very simple technique of displaying safe, carefully curated content when certain keywords are used as search terms. More than this, when searches for extremist content are conducted, YouTube will actually show videos that "debunk violent extremist recruiting narratives."

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Blizzard: World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and more will stop running under Windows XP and Vista

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Microsoft hasn't supported Windows XP and Windows Vista for a while (mainstream support ended eight and five years ago, respectively), but other technology companies have continued to support their own software under these ancient operating systems.

Now, however, Blizzard has announced that it is dropping support for the OSes in a number of its games. The list includes names such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Diablo III, and the change is coming later this year.

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WikiLeaks: CIA analyzed Russian and Chinese malware to inspire its own hacking and surveillance tools

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Some four months after the first Vault 7 leak, WikiLeaks continues to publish revealing CIA documents that detail the agency's ability to hack, infiltrate and surveil targets. The latest batch goes under the banner "UCL / Raytheon", and comprises documents from CIA contractor Raytheon Blackbird Technologies.

Dating from late 2014 and late 2015, the documents show how the CIA, through Raytheon Blackbird Technologies, monitored malware in the wild to see how it could be used by the agency. The documents cover tools produced by the infamous Hacking Team as well as the Russian HammerToss malware delivered via Twitter.

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Following NSA endorsement, the US government can buy secure messaging tools from BlackBerry

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BlackBerry has announced that it is now able to sell its secure messaging solutions to the US and Canadian governments. The news comes after the company received endorsement from the NSA's National Information Assurance Partnership for SecuSUITE for Government.

BlackBerry points out that governments have long had to contend with wiretapping and other forms of surveillance, and says that SecuSUITE for Government offers effective end-to-end encryption for voice calls and text messages.

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If you're downloading Game of Thrones, HBO has its eye on you

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As the new season of any major series kicks off, torrent traffic for episodes clogs up internet pipes around the world. This has been true of everything from True Blood to Lost, and it's no different with season seven of Game of Thrones.

Clearly the networks behind shows that are shared via BitTorrent and through other means are keen to clamp down on piracy, and anyone planning to download Game of Thrones is cautioned that HBO is actively monitoring people pirating the series, and warnings are being sent out.

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Amazon Spark is a shopping social network for iOS

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Over the years Amazon has spread its wings in various directions, and the latest venture sees the online shopping giant dipping its toe into the waters of social networking. While not strictly a social network, Amazon Spark has many of the hallmarks of one.

Borrowing heavily from Instagram and Pinterest -- among others -- Amazon Spark is available for Prime subscribers using iOS. There is, of course, a strong emphasis on shopping, and members are able to post photos of items for sale, and can click through to buy, post comment, and leave "smiles" -- Spark's take on likes.

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