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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jan 2016

Rapper Snoop Dogg - angered by an Xbox issue - complains to Microsoft founder Bill Gates on Instagram.

An Xbox Live outage has left thousands of gamers frustrated - but one angry user decided to take his complaint straight to the top.

Rapper Snoop Dogg posted an Instagram video calling out Microsoft founder Bill Gates, demanding that he "fix your s***, man".

The outage happened at around 7pm UK time, affecting in-game matchmaking, cloud storage, and leaderboards.

Microsoft technicians posted a message saying they were "working hard" to fix the problem, but that was not enough for the music star.

He threatened to switch to PlayStation if the problem was not solved quickly.

In a clip posted to his account, which has eight million followers, he said: "A message to Xbox One or Microsoft or whoever the f***.

"Y'all f****** server is f****** wack, man. Y'all going to make me switch to PlayStation if y'all don't ever get this s*** fixed. Is it that difficult to play someone online?

"What the f*** is you doing, Bill Gates?! Fix your s***, man."

But he may have called out the wrong guy - despite founding the company, Bill Gates is now listed as a mere "technical adviser" at the tech giant.

And switching to PlayStation might not solve his problems either - Sony's network suffered similar difficulties last week.

The issues with Microsoft's servers now appear to have been resolved.

Source: news.sky.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jan 2016

BT has been given the green light to complete its £12.5bn acquisition of EE after the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) gave its approval to the purchase.

The deal was first announced almost a year ago, as BT looked to broaden its offerings and become a quad-play company to offer internet, TV, phone and mobile services.
The size and scope of the acquisition meant it was sent to the CMA for approval to ensure it would not unbalance the UK telecoms market. Numerous rivals to BT, such as Virgin Media, Sky and Vodafone, all submitted responses to the CMA raising concerns.
However, CMA investigation chairman John Wotton said that after a 10-month investigation it was satisfied that the takeover would not unduly affect the mobile or fixed broadband market and that it was cleared for completion.
“As BT is a smaller operator in mobile, it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect. Similarly, EE is only a minor player in retail broadband, so again it is unlikely that the merger will have a significant effect in this market," he said.
“We have also found that in supplying services such as backhaul, wholesale mobile or wholesale broadband services, a combined BT/EE would not have the ability and the incentive to disadvantage competitors such that there would be significant harm to competition.”
BT chief executive Gavin Patterson was understandably upbeat on the news, claiming that it will help BT drive digital innovation in the UK.
“The combined BT and EE will be a digital champion for the UK, providing high levels of investment and driving innovation in a highly competitive market,” he said.
“I have no doubt that consumers, businesses and communities will benefit as we combine the power of fibre broadband with the convenience of leading-edge mobile services. I look forward to welcoming EE into the BT family.”
EE brand likely to disappear
The green light from the government is likely to see BT embark on a major push into the mobile arena as soon as possible, although Kester Mann, principal analyst for operators at CCS Insight, said that the company would be wise to retain the EE brand for the near future, given its strong place in the market.
“The EE brand has benefitted from strong investment to become synonymous with widespread 4G coverage,” he said.
“A greater priority for BT is the behind-the-scenes integration of the UK’s largest fixed-line and mobile operators. Only then should it look to articulate changes to consumers.”
Over time, though, he said it is inevitable that BT will replace EE, and that a major high-street rebranding of shops will be one of the big tasks facing BT.
“BT’s lack of retail presence is its Achilles' heel, but converting EE shops will enable it to present and communicate bundles of mobile, broadband and TV face-to-face.”
However, Mann said that BT could more quickly lose the EE brand on the enterprise side, as it is a far more established presence.
"On the enterprise side, BT might be better advised to rebrand more quickly given its already established strong presence in this sector. Indeed, the company might well end up taking a phased approach that retains the EE name for longer in certain segments before withdrawing it completely in the long-term," he added.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jan 2016

News snippets
Sliced and diced for your convenience

1. Tinder users are given a secret rating that only Tinder can see.
Find out more (Fast Company)
2. A kangaroo can appear as though it's mourning for its dead mate when in fact it's trying to have sex with it.
Find out more
3. Samosas are officially considered a luxury in the Indian state of Bihar.
Find out more
4. There's a mathematical formula for slicing pizza equally if some people eating it don't like the toppings in the middle.
Find out more (New Scientist)
5. A crocodile the size of a bus used to live in what is now the Sahara desert.
Find out more (Washington Post)
6. The Ku Klux Klan didn't always wear hoods.
Find out more (Smithsonian Magazine)
7. The older a person gets, the less likely they are to understand sarcasm.
Find out more (The Times)
8. Dogs can recognise human emotions.
Find out more (Daily Telegraph)
9. Major Tom from David Bowie's Space Oddity (and Ashes To Ashes) may have been named after Tom Major, the father of prime minister John Major.
Find out more (The Guardian)
10. You get free anti-slip shoe covers if you are over 70 and live in the Finnish town of Ypaja.

Find out more (FiveThirtyEight)

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jan 2016

GADGET filled houses could soon be thrown back to the dark ages.

The internet of things is a major buzz word at the minute.

Tech firms desperately want our homes to be fully connected to the web allowing us to ramp up the heating, switch on the lights and even make a brew before arriving at the front door.

This all sounds like a fine idea but there’s a big problem and it could send your home back to the dark ages.

Like many homes across the UK my house has plenty of gadgets hooked up to the WiFi.

So when my broadband supplier decided to have a major New Year’s breakdown I was left shocked at how much I rely on this 21st century technology.

Overnight my house went from state-of-the-art to something you might find on an episode of the Flintstones.

CONNECTED: Gadgets such as the Nest thermostat and Sonos speakers need WiFi to work

“Technology is evolving all the time and is driving our economy”
Boris Ivanovic, internet entrepreneur

With the router fully out of action, the internet-connected gadgets began losing their senses.

My thermostat stopped working, plunging the house into arctic conditions, WiFi speakers become silent, lightbulbs couldn’t be dimmed and my internet-connected security system was as much use as a blind guard dog.

Then there’s the terror of not being able to grab the usual fix of on demand TV.

With no broadband it was back to the basic boring channels.

Unlike having the water and power cut off, the internet going down isn’t the worst thing that could happen and it was more an inconvenience than a disaster, but in the future this could change.

Over the next five years our homes are going to be jammed packed with internet connected tech.

CES is an electronics and technology tradeshow showcasing the newest gadgets, 2016 includes a Samsung fridge which let's you order takeaway as well as letting you know when food is going out of date.

Ovens, fridge freezers, electric sockets and even door locks will be powered by your WiFi and, if your broadband breaks down, your home could be plunged into chaos.

Many of the UK’s internet service providers say they are working hard to make sure things don’t go wrong.

Virgin Media says it's improving its fibre optic broadband network while BT is planning to deliver ultrafast speeds of up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade.

But inevitably things are going to go wrong and, when they do, consumers could be in for a major shock.

Internet entrepreneur Boris Ivanovic believes that the UK needs to invest heavily in broadband to keep up with the increasing demands.

His company, Hyperoptic, is one of the few UK providers to offer 1Gb speeds to its customers, and feels other providers need to do the same.

Speaking to the Daily Star Online, he said: "Technology is evolving all the time and is driving our economy.

"When we launched in 2005 people questioned why you needed 24Mbps, now that speed is the norm.

"Giving people gigabit speeds via fibre-to-the-home future-proofs consumers for the new wave of products and services that will continue to transform our lives.”

If our recent experience is anything to go by we wouldn’t throw out your old unconnected tech quite yet.

Source: dailystar.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jan 2016

WHATSAPP set to ditch its annual charge but users could face being bombarded with ads.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has announced that the yearly fee for the service is set to be scrapped.

Speaking at an event in Munich he revealed the business model “really doesn’t work for some people.”

Many WhatsApp fans have to pay a small amount each year to use the messaging service but this payment is coming to halt.

In a post on their blog WhatsApp confrimed the news stating: "We're happy to announce that WhatsApp will no longer charge subscription fees.

"As we've grown, we've found that this approach hasn't worked well.

"Many WhatsApp users don't have a debit or credit card number and they worried they'd lose access to their friends and family after their first year."

It sounds like good news, but like all things in life there's a catch.

Clearly WhatsApp can't run for free and to make money it seems the Facebook owned app is going to target users with adverts.

Although the firm is adamant you won't get hit with messages from third parties, it does say that it's going to allow business to communicate with users.

"Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from." states WhatsApp.

WhatsApp has around 900 million users and is continuing to grow.

Facebook bought the business $22 billion (£13 billion) in 2014 and Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that it’s only worth trying to monetise the app when the business reaches a billion people.

“This may sound a little ridiculous to say, but for us, products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about 1 billion people using them.” said Zuckerberg.

Source: dailystar.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 18th Jan 2016

Put all the talk of a global digital revolution on hold. While access to digital technologies is quickly spreading across the globe, “traditional development challenges are preventing the digital revolution from fulfilling its transformative potential,” according to the World Bank.

The international organization’s recent “Digital Dividends” report shares some stark figures that may take the edge off of any superficial excitement about the spread of digital technology. For instance, about 4 billion people still don’t have access to the Internet, and nearly 2 billion people don’t use a mobile phone.

“Digital technologies have spread rapidly in much of the world,” according to the World Bank’s report. “Digital dividends — the broader development benefits from using these technologies — have lagged behind.”

The report also puts the spotlight on the need for “analog” help in the form of policies and regulations to “ensure the digital market is competitive and the Internet expands access to information, lowers the cost of information, and promotes more inclusive, efficient, and innovative societies.”

More specifically, the report notes that in developed and large middle-income countries, technology isn’t destroying jobs, as some may think. Rather, it’s automating routine jobs and some white-collar jobs, which means a large portion of workers get pushed down the ladder to lower-paying jobs that are less prone to automation.

“What we’re seeing is not so much a destruction of jobs but a reshuffling of jobs, what economists have been calling a hollowing out of the labor market,” said Uwe Deichmann, co-director of the “Digital Dividends” report. “You see the share of mid-level jobs shrinking and lower-end jobs increasing.”

In other words, without good policies in place, the digital revolution may widen the economic inequality gap rather than bridge it.
“We must ensure that the benefits of new technologies are shared widely, particularly for the poor,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president. “Evidence suggests that we can do this by improving competition among businesses, investing in people — starting with pregnant mothers, to ensure that all children have the cognitive ability to later connect to the digital revolution.”

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jan 2016

You definitely felt it.

A distinct buzz around the upper thigh.

Not a normal, human itch, but the kind of precise electronic pulse that you've long attributed to a notification from your phone.

Yet, as you fumble about in your pocket preparing for the brief disappointment of realising it was only a text from your mum, you begin questioning your sanity: your phone has nothing to say for itself. "Not me guv' - I've not vibrated for the best part of an hour."

If you've ever experienced the above, you're far from alone. As many as nine in ten people are thought to experience 'Phantom Vibration Syndrome' - which Dr Robert Rosenberger, philosopher and assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, believes is down to "learned bodily habits".

Speaking to the BBC, Rosenberger explained that the familiar buzz that we could have sworn just went through our pocket is actually a hallucination, which can be attributed to anxiety.

"There are a couple of ways of explaining it," he told the BBC. "Some people have suggested that technology like telephones are changing our brains, creating a special cognitive pathway designed to feel these vibrations as a phone call. Another theory is that we're all so anxious because of all our different technologies: our email, our text messages, just have us on edge, so we'll be more inclined to feel something in our pocket such as phantom vibration.

"We've become so accustomed to the technology that we're even experiencing our own bodies in these weird new ways. Is it a sixth sense? I wouldn't describe it as that exactly, but I would say it's one of those big game-changing experiences like glasses or like driving a car that really changes your relationship to the world."

You can read Rosenberger's full thoughts on the syndrome in this report.

As for curing your frustration of phantom vibrations - try adjusting your habits? Adjust notification settings so it no longer vibrates. Sure, you might miss a call if it's on silent - but a missed call will be less frustrating than thinking the world is trying to reach you when it really isn't.

[Via: BBC]

Source: shortlist.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 13th Jan 2016

Incandescent light bulbs may put out a warmer-looking, more familiar type of light than LEDs or compact fluorescents, but they're far less efficient – the majority of the energy they use is wasted, mainly in the form of heat. Technology may save them yet, however. Scientists at MIT and Purdue University have developed an ultra-efficient new incandescent bulb that reuses the heat it gives off, converting that heat into more light.

With traditional incandescent bulbs, both visible and infrared light are created by heating a tungsten filament, causing it to glow. Both wavelengths flow unimpeded out into the room, with the infrared doing nothing other than dissipating as heat.

In the case of the new two-stage incandescent, however, the filament is surrounded by structures known as photonic crystals.

Made from abundant elements and manufactured using conventional material-deposition technology, these crystals allow visible light to pass through, but reflect the infrared back onto the filament. This helps keep the filament heated, glowing and emitting more visible light, while using much less electricity than it would otherwise.

The bulb could conceivably score very high when it comes to luminous efficiency – this is a measure of how well a light source produces visible light. While regular incandescents have a luminous efficiency of 2-3 percent, with compact fluorescents coming in at 7-15 percent and LEDs at 5-15, the two-stage incandescent could reportedly manage up to 40 percent once developed further.

The current proof-of-concept model sits at around 6.6 percent, although even that figure is in line with some LEDs and fluorescents, and is three times better than conventional incandescents.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: MIT

Source: gizmag.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 12th Jan 2016

Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is now “active” on over 200 million devices worldwide. This figure presumably includes PCs, phones, Xbox Ones, and other devices, though Microsoft doesn’t explicitly state that.

UPDATE: Microsoft has now confirmed that the 200 million figure includes non-PC devices like Xbox One. –Paul

As you may recall, Microsoft chief marketing office Chris Capossela exclusively told Mary Jo Foley and me during a December 2015 live interview that we could expect a new milestone number for Windows 10 in early January.

This is only the second time that Microsoft has revealed Windows 10 usage figures. The first time was in late August, when the firm revealed that there were 75 million devices running the new OS. At that time, I compared the uptake rate to those of Windows 7 and Windows 8 and determined that the Windows 10 launch was easily the most successful in modern days.

“The real reason the Windows 10 figure is so astonishing is because of the upgrades,” I wrote. “Before this release, in-place upgrades were one of the most unreliable and scary things a user could attempt, and it was so bad very few Windows users ever did try it. With Windows 10, the vast majority of the initial 75 million users did in fact upgrade their PCs. And they did so successfully. That’s the 75 million … that is a triumph, no matter what you think of the math.”

But now it’s four months later. There are 125 million more Windows 10 devices “active” out there in the world, since that August announcement (which came at the one-month mark). So what’s different? Two things stand out.

This isn’t just PCs anymore. When Microsoft announced the 75 million milestone, Windows 10 was available only on PCs. So that number was all PC upgrades, with a handful of new PC purchases. Today, we have Windows 10 in Xbox One, in new Lumias, and in some IoT-type devices. So there is a wider field of device types from which to choose.

Windows 10 uptake is amazing. Despite the availability of Windows 10 on new device types, the average monthly usage gain over the past quarter was 31.25 million units per month. That is dramatically better than the standard-bearer, Windows 7, which was artificially massaged to accomplish 20 million units per month. You might claim that the uptake has slowed dramatically, since the first month was 75 million units, but come on. That was the first month. The first month should always be considered an anomaly. And if we factor in the entire period of time Windows 10 has been available, Microsoft has seen an average of 40 million active new Windows 10 devices come online each month so far. That’s double the rate of Windows 7, which is widely considered (except by me) to be the best-selling version of Windows ever.

In other words, this is nothing but great news.

And if you’re wondering about the 164 million figure I just wrote about in yesterday’s Thurrott Daily, that’s clear enough: The 36 million figure is non-PC devices like Xbox Ones, Windows phones, and IoT devices.

Microsoft’s take on this milestone is interesting as well. It claims:

Windows 10 adoption is accelerating. Microsoft says that over 40 percent of new Windows 10 devices became active since Black Friday. This tells me that the linear growth days of Windows 7 are long over. And that the coming year will not be one uninterrupted upward spike.

Windows 10 is on the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows. Proving my point above, Microsoft says that Windows 10 “[usage] growth” outpaces Windows 7 by nearly 140 percent and Windows 8 by nearly 400 percent. Of course, that last one is a low bar.

Highest engagement on Windows ever. This is the new Microsoft metric. People spent over 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December alone, Microsoft says, “spending more time on Windows than ever before.”

Windows Store growth Here, Microsoft is desperate to hide the fact that the universal app story is Windows 10’s Achilles Heel. The “new” Windows Store has seen a “2x increase in the number of paid transactions from PC and tablet customers this holiday season,” Microsoft says. 60 percent of paying customers in December were new to the Store.

Momentum. Microsoft says it sees “accelerating and unprecedented demand for Windows 10 among enterprise and education customers.” Over 76 percent of Microsoft’s enterprise customers are in active pilots of Windows 10. And there are now over 22 million devices running Windows 10 across enterprise and education customers.

OK, some of the Microsoft claims are … nebulous. But again, this is great news overall. And there’s no way to claim otherwise.

Source: thurrott.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 12th Jan 2016

 Don’t date the nerd — be the nerd.

One Sunday evening, Zuckerberg posted the following Facebook post, which details new types of technology he is hoping to master within the next year as a personal challenge:

Mark Zuckerberg
Works at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative · 47,763,892 followers · January 3 at 10:46pm · Palo Alto, CA, United States ·
Every year, I take on a personal challenge to learn new things and grow outside my work at Facebook. My challenges in recent years have been to read two books every month, learn Mandarin and meet a new person every day.
My personal challenge for 2016 is to build a simple AI to run my home and help me with my work. You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in Iron Man.
I'm going to start by exploring what technology is already out there. Then I'll start teaching it to understand my voice to control everything in our home -- music, lights, temperature and so on. I'll teach it to let friends in by looking at their faces when they ring the doorbell. I'll teach it to let me know if anything is going on in Max's room that I need to check on when I'm not with her. On the work side, it'll help me visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations more effectively.
Every challenge has a theme, and this year's theme is invention.
At Facebook I spend a lot of time working with engineers to build new things. Some of the most rewarding work involves getting deep into the details of technical projects. I do this with Internet.org when we discuss the physics of building solar-powered planes and satellites to beam down internet access. I do this with Oculus when we get into the details of the controllers or the software we're designing. I do this with Messenger when we discuss our AI to answer any question you have. But it's a different kind of rewarding to build things yourself, so this year my personal challenge is to do that.
This should be a fun intellectual challenge to code this for myself. I'm looking forward to sharing what I learn over the course of the year.
415,101 Likes · 34,316 Comments · 21,741 Shares

“At Facebook I spend a lot of time working with engineers to build new things. Some of the most rewarding work involves getting deep into the details of technical projects… But it’s a different kind of rewarding to build things yourself, so this year my personal challenge is to do that,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Thousands of commenters weighed in on the status update, but one of them stood out: a grandmother's response.
Facebook
The comment reads: “I keep telling my granddaughters to date the nerd in school, he may turn out to be a Mark Zuckerberg! Thanks for FB, I’ve reconnected with family and old friend and classmates.”
And Zuckerberg had a fantastic rebuttal to the user’s comment.

Facebook
“Even better would be to encourage them to *be* the nerd in their school so they can be the next successful inventor!”

Solid advice for young women, Zuckerberg.

Source: buzzfeed.com
 
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