The era of the 99p download might be coming to an end - all because of George Osborne.
Buried within the Chancellor's 2014 Budget was a promise to tax downloads in the country in which they are purchased.
Currently a legal loophole allows companies to sell them through another where tax rates are lower.
For example, many companies sell downloads through Luxembourg where the tax rate is around 3% compared with 20% in the UK.
Osborne promised to introduce the new law in January 2015.
The budget document said: "As announced at budget 2013, the government will legislate to change the rules for the taxation of intra-EU business to consumer supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and e-services.
"From 1 January 2015 these services will be taxed in the member state in which the consumer is located, ensuring these are taxed fairly and helping to protect revenue."
Although this would have the benefit of raising a possible £300 million, those costs would undoubtedly be passed on to consumers making a 99p download pretty unviable.
With over 6 billion hours of video watched each month, YouTube is an incredibly powerful platform for video consumption and sharing. It's even beating Facebook as a social media site among teenagers. Now it seems like Google will be looking to reach a much younger demographic.
YouTube is reportedly developing a new kid-friendly website that will feature programming for children under the age of 10. While YouTube currently has safety features that block inappropriate content, the filters aren't 100% accurate. A new stand-alone site would guarantee a safe browsing experience for the young ones.
To learn more about this developing story, check out the video. Host Lamarr Wilson discusses this topic and more on his new Mashable show YouTube Weekly. The video can be found by visiting the source website.
Researchers are working to enable smartphones and other mobile devices to understand and immediately identify objects in a camera's field of view, overlaying lines of text that describe items in the environment.
"It analyzes the scene and puts tags on everything," said Eugenio Culurciello, an associate professor in Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Psychological Sciences. The innovation could find applications in "augmented reality" technologies like Google Glass, facial recognition systems and robotic cars that drive themselves. "When you give vision to machines, the sky's the limit," Culurciello said.
The concept is called deep learning because it requires layers of neural networks that mimic how the human brain processes information. Internet companies are using deep-learning software, which allows users to search the Web for pictures and video that have been tagged with keywords. Such tagging, however, is not possible for portable devices and home computers.
"The deep-learning algorithms that can tag video and images require a lot of computation, so it hasn't been possible to do this in mobile devices," said Culurciello, who is working with Berin Martini, a research associate at Purdue, and doctoral students. The research group has developed software and hardware and shown how it could be used to enable a conventional smartphone processor to run deep-learning software. Research findings were presented in a poster paper during the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Nevada in December. The poster paper was prepared by Martini; Culurciello and graduate students Jonghoon Jin, Vinayak Gokhale, Aysegul Dundar, Bharadwaj Krishnamurthy and Alfredo Canziani.
The new deep-learning capability represents a potential artificial-intelligence upgrade for smartphones. Research findings have shown the approach is about 15 times more efficient than conventional graphic processors, and an additional 10-fold improvement is possible. "Now we have an approach for potentially embedding this capability onto mobile devices, which could enable these devices to analyze videos or pictures the way you do now over the Internet," Culurciello said. "You might have 10,000 images in your computer, but you can't really find an image by searching a keyword. Say you wanted to find pictures of yourself at the beach throwing a football. You cannot search for these things right now." The deep learning software works by performing processing in layers.
"They are combined hierarchically," Culurciello said. "For facial recognition, one layer might recognize the eyes, another layer the nose, and so on until a person's face is recognized." Deep learning could enable the viewer to understand technical details in pictures. "Say you are viewing medical images and looking for signs of cancer," he said. "A program could overlay the pictures with descriptions."
Lawyers for hacker Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, who is serving a 41-month prison sentence, will appear in a US court on Wednesday to try to overturn a conviction they say has serious repercussions for internet freedom.
Auernheimer, a self-confessed internet troll and hacker, was found guilty in November 2012 of identity theft and conspiracy to gain unauthorised access to AT&T public servers, after he obtained thousands of email addresses of iPad owners. He shared his findings with Gawker, which published them in redacted form. He was charged with a felony under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a law that came under fire as outdated and too general when it was used to prosecute the late internet activist Aaron Swartz.
Lawyers for Auernheimer say his conviction is flawed and raises important questions for civil liberties online.
On Wednesday, at the 3rd circuit court of appeals in Philadelphia, lawyers will argue that Auernheimer's actions do not constitute a misdemeanour, let alone a felony. They will say that Auernheimer did not violate the CFAA because he simply accessed a public server, something that does not constitute "unauthorised access", which is what the law criminalises. Neither, they say, does it constitute a crime under the identity theft statute.
The government argues that his actions were without authorisation under the CFAA because AT&T did not want them to have the addresses, despite them being available on its public website.
"The fundamental question in this case is whether it is a crime to visit a public website," the lawyers wrote in their legal brief. "By posting information on the public web without a password requirement, AT&T made the information available to everyone."
Auernheimer's legal team includes Orin Kerr, a former prosecutor and law professor at George Washington University Law School and lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital rights organisation.
Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney at the EFF, said Auernheimer's case was an example of a prosecution aimed at a person, not a crime: "One of the big problems of this case has always been that Auernheimer can be unsympathetic. The thing is, when you couple a very bad law [the CFAA] with the prosecutor having brought the decision being able to go after who they like, or who they don't like, that's a problem," he said.
Because the CFAA makes it a crime to obtain information from a computer "without authorisation", a term that has not been defined in the law, the conviction sets a dangerous precedent, Fakhoury said.
He cited the case of Isaac Wolf, a journalist at Scripps Howard News Service, who was threatened with legal action under the CFAA last year. Wolf was researching a story on TerraCom, a company that provides federally subsidised phone services to those on low incomes and came across social security numbers and other sensitive records while doing a basic google search. But when he revealed that TerraCom and an affiliate YourTel America, had left thousands of customers at risk of identity theft, the companies claimed the reporters were hacking and threatened to sue.
Auernheimer's appeal will be closely watched by security researchers and privacy experts who say that the conviction, if not overturned, will have a detrimental effect on security. They say the information Auernheimer helped to access was made available by AT&T to the entire internet and access occurred through standard protocols used by every web user.
Computer scientists, security researchers and internet freedom advocates have filed amicus brief, asking the appeals court to overturn his conviction. They include the Mozilla Foundation, which makes the web browser Firefox. In their brief, they argue there are "striking similarities" between research tools used by experts to benefit privacy and security and those employed by Auernheimer, and that they have a vital interest in arguing why individuals must be deemed authorised under the CFAA when they access unsecured data on websites.
Auernheimer's conviction raises other legal issues, in addition to questions of whether it was a crime, his lawyers say. In papers submitted to the court, they argue that the case was improperly brought in New Jersey, because no computer was accessed nor information obtained in New Jersey and that the largest part of his sentence, due to an alleged $73,000 loss to AT&T, was wrong because the losses were nothing to do with computer costs, but were the result of mail sent out to the company's customers.
Auernheimer, who is serving his sentence at Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex in White Deer, Pennsylvania, has not been given permission to attend the hearing.
Here are some top picks for tech products under $50 that everyone should own.
Backup battery charger
Anyone who owns a smartphone knows it can run through a battery in less than a day. So I carry a backup battery charger everywhere. The Digital Treasures ChargeIt Universal 3600mAh Power Bank ($29.99 on Amazon) has built-in Lightning, microUSB and legacy 30-pin Apple device cables, so you won’t ever forget yours. And its 3600mAh battery provides plenty of backup power for even the most power-hungry cell phones.
philips-sonicare-essence-350px Essence Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush Sonicare
Electric toothbrushes work better than manual ones. Not only does brushing with an electric toothbrush leave your teeth feeling cleaner, according to a report by The Cochrane Collaboration Oral Health Group, it also reduces plaque and the risk of contracting gingivitis, an early stage periodontal disease that affects 50 percent of adults.
Not just any electric toothbrush will do, though. Go for a model with a head that rotates and oscillates, like the Oral-B Professional Deep Sweep Triaction 1000 ($39.97 on Amazon) or a sonic model like the rechargeable Sonicare Essence Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush ($49.95 on Amazon)
Cloud-based file storage
Imagine losing every picture, every video, every memento of the important events in your life due to a fire, flood or theft. And why risk it when cloud-based storage options are so widely available and cheap? One of the best bargains is Google Drive, which is free for the first 15 GB of storage and $1.99 per month ($23.88 per year) for up to 100GB. (You can also get 1TB for $9.99 per month or $119.88 per year.) You can use it to sync files between all of your devices and access your files from anywhere. We even trust it at Techlicious to store and share all of our business files.
Pod-based single serve coffee machine
Every minute counts during my morning rush, so I rely on a single-serve coffee machine to give me that initial jolt, with a minimal amount of effort. There are certainly fancier options out there than the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Personal Cup Pod Coffeemaker 49990Z ($29.99 on Amazon), but for $30, you can get a very good cup of coffee in no time. You can buy pre-made Senseo pods or make your own pods, filling them with your favorite coffee or tea. The coffeemaker is built to accommodate tall travel mugs and has a built-in stand for regular cups.
Instant tire repair
Changing a flat tire is messy, difficult and can be downright dangerous. With just the push of a button, though, the Slime Safety Spair ($38.97 on Amazon) injects a special sealant into your tire, plugging punctures up to a quarter inch, and quickly re-inflating the tire with its built-in compressor. All in 7 minutes…er…flat. There’s also a safety light for night use making it an essential part of your car safety kit. The inflator can also be used to top off a low tire or inflate sports balls without injecting the repair sealant.
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella looks set to unveil an iPad version of the company's Office software suite on 27 March. The new CEO will use his first big press appearance to launch the company's most profitable product on Apple's tablet. Nadella, who replaced long-time CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will address the media and industry executives in San Francisco.
Read Jon Honeyball's scathing verdict on OneNote for Mac, and what it means for Office on iPad Microsoft has had an iPad versions of Office primed for several months now, sources told Reuters, but the company has dallied on its release due to internal divisions, among other things. Microsoft already has a version of Office for iPhone, which is only available to Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft sources have told The Verge that the iPad version will offer a similar feature set and also require an Office 365 subscription for editing.
Investors have long urged Microsoft to adapt Office for mobile devices from Apple and Google, rather than shackling it to Windows, as PC sales decline. But the software giant has been reluctant to undermine its other lucrative franchise.
Microsoft gives up some $2.5 billion a year in revenue by keeping Office off the iPad, which has now sold almost 200 million units, analysts estimate. Microsoft said in an invitation to reporters that Nadella will discuss "news related to the intersection of cloud and mobile" but declined to comment on the specifics of the CEO's appearance. Although Nadella is expected to discuss his thinking in depth next week, the company has already signalled that it will adopt a more liberal attitude toward putting its software on different platforms.
On Monday, Microsoft made its OneNote software available on Mac, and last week the company suggested it would launch a new version of Office for Mac before the end of the year.
Apple has released a cheaper variant of its iPhone 5C, with only 8GB of storage memory, in Europe.
The device, which has appeared on the website of UK carrier O2, as well as Apple's European stores, is otherwise the same as the 16GB and the 32GB iPhone 5C variants. It sports a 4-inch Retina display, 8-megapixel camera, and an A6 processor.
The 8GB iPhone 5C is not yet available on Apple's official website or the websites of any US carrier, so we don't know exactly how much cheaper it will be in the US. O2 prices it at least 50 pounds ($83) cheaper than the 16GB variant, depending on the contract. At Apple's UK site, it is 40 pounds cheaper ($67) than the 16GB variant sans contract; in Germany, the price difference is 50 euros ($70).
Reports that the iPhone 5C is not selling as well as expected were never officially confirmed by Apple. The sudden unveiling of an 8GB model might however mean that the company is rethinking its pricing strategy for the low-cost iPhone.
New rumours surrounding Apple's upcoming iPhone 6 suggest it could launch with a new 'Ultra-Retina' screen -- and be just 5.59mm thick.
The rumours are not exactly from a watertight source - and to state the obvious, Apple has let nothing slip.
But they're an interesting tidbit of info ahead of the unveiling itself, which will come in September (probably), or at least the next piece of solid information.
This time the leaker is Sonny Dickson, a serial source of occasionally accurate info on Apple releases.
He claimed in a series of tweets that the new iPhone will run an A8 processor (2.6Ghz), be just 0.22 inches thick and have a 389ppi screen descibed as 'Ultra-Retina' (but still lower than the Galaxy S5).
Cloud platforms are a big investment. Giving them that credit card number is the start of what could be a long relationship and many tens of thousands of dollars. So it's a good idea to try before you buy, and if you're using the cloud as a departmental developmental solution, it's an even better idea to find a service that won't cost you a penny while you get your applications and services up to speed.
That makes it well worth your time to use the various trial, test, and low-volume cloud services out there. They've been available for some time -- especially Google's free tier for its App Engine platform-as-a-service -- and Amazon has now joined the club with a free tier for test and development. Low cost and free services like these make particular sense for individuals and teams wanting to try building their own apps.
You might still need a credit card to get started, but it won't get billed if you stay within the services limits; so don't use too many resources, or forget about any time limits. And if it does get billed, you can quickly cancel the service and move on.
Here's a quick rundown of the big three.
Amazon Web Services. Amazon's free AWS offering is certainly impressive, with free options for most of its IaaS and PaaS services. While there are limits, they're easy to stay inside, and if you aren't able to use all the virtual machine options, you definitely have access to more than enough services for any pilot program or small app. If you've considered using AWS, then it's well worth trying out -- and there's plenty of community support. You'll even get to play with some of the more complex parts of Amazon's offering.
Google App Engine's free tier is also well worth investigating for an initial application -- I've had a simple test app running there for a couple of years without incurring any charges -- but it does have its limitations, and can be very easy to run up against those limits. While paid apps can then jump to another tier, free apps just stop working without warning. That's fine for a development or test system, but once you're using it to run backends for mobile apps, or as part of a business process, then a sudden outage could well be a problem; and a support headache for an unsupported app!
Microsoft's Azure comes with a range of free options for its popular services. You can deploy up to 10 free web sites, or build a mobile service that supports up to 500 devices, without having to pay a penny. Both options come with some storage (though that part is only free for a year) and seem tailored for small development teams and for small projects. You can use the free mobile service option to build the backend for an app, without impacting your company's network and server resources, and then if it proves successful, transition it to either a paid tier or to your own internal servers. A free trial with $200 of credits gives you about a month's access to all the services you need, and developers with subscriptions to Microsoft's MSDN program get an $1,800 credit a month (though not for production applications). If you're a startup access is also available as a benefit to organizations that are part of the company's BizSpark program -- and you're not limited to using Microsoft technologies, as there's support for Linux virtual machines on Azure's IaaS service.
BT has announced that super-fast broadband has arrived in four more West Midlands communities. The first homes and businesses in Codsall and Halesowen now have access to the high-speed technology, as well as some premises in the Ladywood area served by Birmingham’s East telephone exchange and Great Barr’s Beacon telephone exchange.
The number of premises to benefit will rise to more than 4,600 in Codsall, 10,650 in Halesowen, more than 14,200 in the Birmingham East area and nearly 9,500 in the Beacon area of Great Barr as Openreach engineers complete the local upgrades in the weeks ahead.
BT investment was welcomed by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, who described it as great news for the area.
Jerry Blackett, (pictured) chief executive said: “Super-fast fibre broadband in these areas offers huge benefits to local residents and businesses and will help our local economy to flourish. Better, faster communications help businesses to grow and stimulate job creation. At home, local people can do more online at faster speeds and on multiple devices. This is great news for these communities and I look forward to fibre broadband being rolled out across the rest of the area.”
Fibre broadband is already available to more than 1.58 million homes and businesses across the West Midlands. This figure will rise to more than 1.78 million by the end of BT’s commercial deployment.
Mike Cook, BT’s regional director for the West Midlands, said: “Our roll-out of fibre broadband is advancing across the region with Codsall, Great Barr, Halesowen and Ladywood the latest places to benefit. More than 2.4 million homes and businesses across the UK are already using Openreach’s new fibre network via a range of retailers, bringing speed and choice to the UK. Many local residents now have the opportunity to join them.
“Whatever you’re doing online, you can do it better and faster with fibre. Whether it’s shopping, downloading music and video, watching TV, social networking, studying or researching homework, once you’ve switched to fibre you’ll never look back. Outside the home, it also has huge potential for public services and local firms.
“Businesses tell us it’s helping them in a wealth of ways, from day to day activities like downloading software, collaborating with clients and moving large data files around to big business decisions like expanding the workforce or introducing better quality IT services at less cost.”
BT’s fibre footprint currently passes more than 18 million UK homes and businesses. It’s due to pass around two-thirds of UK premises by the end of Spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable.
BT recently announced plans to invest a further £50 million into its commercial fibre broadband programme over the next three years. The money will benefit more than 30 cities, helping to make high speed broadband available to more than 400,000 additional premises. Further details will be announced in due course.
In total, BT is spending more than £3 billion on deploying fibre broadband, including £2.5 billion on its commercial fibre footprint and further funds in rural fibre broadband projects.
In addition, BT is working in partnership with councils in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire to extend fibre broadband coverage to areas not covered by any commercial roll-out as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
Openreach, BT’s local network business, is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. FTTC delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps1 — and could deliver even faster speeds in the future.
Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand2 in certain areas and plans to further expand access. FTTP-on-demand offers the top current download speed of 330Mbps.
Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports new developments in internet services.
Benefits for businesses include faster file and data transfers, better access to cloud computing services and software, more sophisticated web-based contact with customers and support for more flexible working.
Unlike other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, which underpins a competitive market and delivers real customer choice.