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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 11th Mar 2014

bgr.com - Brad Reed on Mar 6, 2014

As we mentioned earlier this week, Microsoft has a problem because a huge chunk of Windows XP stragglers still aren’t upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8 even though there’s just over a month to go until XP support ends. Tom’s Hardware writes that Microsoft does have one more card to play that it hopes will finally convince XP diehards to switch:

Windows 9.
Microsoft knows that Windows 8 is a nonstarter for many XP users, which is why it’s apparently designed Windows 9 with the desktop user much more in mind. The company began its efforts to appease desktop PC users with Windows 8.1 — which added back a Start button and the option of booting up to desktop — and it’s only going to further down this road with its next major release.

“Windows 8.1, launched in October 2013, definitely made the platform feel more like a single unit than the previous Desktop/Modern UI double-feature,” Tom’s Hardware writes. “Windows 8.1 GDR1, scheduled to launch in April, will supposedly help merge the two together. Windows 9? Even more.”

Tom’s Hardware also points out that Dell marketing exec Margaret Franco recently said that her company’s customers are expressing “a lot more interest around developing the transition strategy for their OS” in anticipation of Windows 9.

Of course, there’s one problem here: Windows 9 won’t launch until the fall of 2014 at the very earliest and has been tipped to launch as late as the spring of 2015. In the time between April and Windows 9′s eventual release, XP users are going to get swamped with all manner of fun zero-day attacks by malware developers who have had XP’s impending death on their radars for years. If that can’t convince them to finally dump XP, it’s doubtful there’s anything Windows 9 could do to change their minds either.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 11th Mar 2014

ITProportal - 06 Mar 2014 by John C. Dvorak

If you read the pundits and tip sheets you see all sorts of imaginary scenarios play out for Apple's next big thing. The three that seem to be getting the most attention include a surprise.

The company just rolled out Apple CarPlay, which got some buzz from the recent Geneva Auto Show. It will be fun to see how it plays out.

We've already heard speculation about a big-screen Apple TV (set). There is always chatter about an Apple iWatch or some sort of wearable from Cupertino. Both are risky and small potatoes compared to the third item: An end-to-end mobile payment system that competes directly with PayPal and most of the established systems already in place.

Enter the Apple iCard. Don't leave home without it. There has been a lot of speculation about an Apple credit card on sites like Seeking Alpha, a website that seems preoccupied with all things regarding Apple finance and stock price.

Here are the interesting statistics that got my attention:

"With 575 million active accounts, Apple has more populated digital wallets than any other player in finance. 575 million accounts is 1.37x the total number of MasterCards issued worldwide, 3.5x the number of card holders in the US, 5x the number of cards on file as PayPal and 3.4x the number of cards on file for Amazon."

There are outrageous numbers of people who can be easily converted to customers of additional services. Mobile payments overall are estimated to hit a $1 trillion (£600 billion) by 2017, according to a report from IDC.

The way Apple users are lock-step and all-in with pretty much everything Apple does, the company would own a huge piece of this market.

This speculation by the Apple watchers was apparently triggered by some new e-commerce and payments patents filed by the company. This was combined with backroom gossiping by PayPal and others. In fact, PayPal would love to partner with Apple and be part of the process. That partnership remains to be seen.

Whatever the case, if everything actually worked out, some analysts see it adding $60 billion (£35 billion) to the Apple bottom line, which is substantial. Apple would become a financial services company and a bank as well as a manufacturer and a trendsetter.

But is this the sort of thing Tim Cook can roll out and expect to excite the Apple community? As time goes by, Cook is seen as more and more of the uninspired corporate apparatchik who is quite disconnected from the average Apple user.

Rolling out a mobile payment system and an Apple credit card is the exact opposite of an exciting idea, no matter how good the idea is for Apple shareholders.

First of all, Apple makes most of its income from sales at its retail stores. Running a finance company to handle all the transactions will bring in more profits, but will the stores continue to attract customers if they do not have cool new products to show off?

That said, this is a risky bet insofar as continuing profits are concerned. Apple could buy Square to get its feet wet or go all-in with an arrangement with Discover Financial services or even MasterCard. Maybe even consider a merger or acquisition, although the market caps for these publicly held credit card companies are a little high for even Apple to swallow.

This whole notion might be the worst move ever – unless the company can somehow make it exciting.

Personally, I cannot see how to do it. This is dreadfully dull stuff. Apple does not need the reputation of a boring finance company. What's next? Insurance?

Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/2014/03/06/apples-next-big-thing-a-credit-card/#ixzz2vf1T0E6Y

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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Twitter has just fixed a bug that in some cases allowed tweets from users with protected accounts to be read by non-approved followers.
The social media site said on its blog that the bug had been around since November, though only affected a tiny fraction of its user base.

“We were alerted to and fixed a bug in our system that, for 93,788 protected accounts under rare circumstances, allowed non-approved followers to receive protected tweets via SMS or push notifications since November 2013,” Bob Lord, Twitter’s director of information security, wrote in a post.

The San Francisco-based company said that the fix should ensure such a bug doesn’t occur again in the future, adding that it had removed any unapproved followers from protected accounts.

Source: www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/twitter-fixes-long-standing-bug/#!ziwTv 

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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Microsoft's chosen game-streaming partner Twitch has officially sent its updated Xbox One app live, adding the much-delayed live streaming functionality originally promised for the console's launch - and just in time for the release of Titanfall, not-coincidentally.

When Microsoft was reeling off a list of features its next-generation console would include, the ability to instantly stream live game footage over the internet was a biggie - albeit one shared by rival Sony's PS4. Come the November release of both consoles, however, and the Xbox One's game streaming functionality was missing in action, with Microsoft being forced to admit that it wouldn't be ready until some time early this year.

Last month, Microsoft finally tied itself down to a firm release date with the promise that it would have game streaming up and running by the time players picked up their copies of Xbox and Windows exclusive mech shooter Titanfall. With the game releasing today, fans will be ecstatic to hear that Microsoft has hit its self-imposed deadline with the release of an updated Twitch app for the Xbox One.

When installed, the free Twitch app becomes accessible from within any game using the Kinect voice command 'Xbox, broadcast' - or from a menu for those who have chosen not to get the all-seeing spy-eye out of its box. Games are then broadcast automatically over the internet, with viewers on other consoles or on any device supported from the Twitch website able to view and comment on the stream.

Sadly, while the app itself is free there is a cost associated: as with the majority of both consoles' online functionality, the Twitch software is only accessible to those who have a paid Xbox Live Gold membership. 

Source: www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2014/03/11/xbox-one-twitch/1

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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Suddenly Thunderbolt looks like it’s stuck in the slow lane. That’s because Intel and a few of its partners have announced a cable that’s much much faster, but is geared towards data centers and not consumers. Intel’s new “MXC” cable, co-developed with Corning, US Conec, TE Connectivity and Molex, has 64-fiber strands that can transmit 25Gbps across each fiber for an aggregate of 1.6 Tbit/sec.

For Intel, MXC is something of a rebirth of its fiber optic efforts. Originally Thunderbolt was supposed to use fiber optics — hence the original codename “Light Peak” — but Apple, who was a partner in the project from the get-go, pushed hard to use standard copper instead.

For server makers, having this much internal bandwidth available will change the way that server racks are designed. According to a blog post by Mario Paniccia, a general manager of general manager Intel’s Silicon Photonics Operations Organization, this will allow for a “disaggregation of memory, storage and processing subsystems into separate boxes.” No longer will a server have to contain every component, which is an inefficient use of space, but rather each component will be stored in its own rack in the server farm of the future.

“The ability to take my memory and stash it a rack away, optical can enable that,” Paniccia is quoted as saying.

The cables are scheduled to go into mass-production later this year, but Microsoft, Huawei, Facebook via the Open Compute Project, Arista and Fujitsu are said to be already sampling them. No word yet on the costs.

Source: http://vr-zone.com/articles/intel-announces-super-fast-1-6-tbitsec-optical-cable-data-centers/73781.html?  

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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Word on the superinformation strasse is that Google may be discontinuing the Nexus 7 tablet line this year, in favour of a new 8-inch Nexus 8 tablet.
It looks like the world is fed up with seven-inch tablets and wants something a little larger.

The Nexus 8 will be launched alongside Android 4.5 at some point this summer, sources suggest.
The Nexus 8 and its launch are far from being confirmed by Google, but an outfit called AndroidPit thinks that that the summer launch may have something to do with Intel's release plans for a new mobile processor.
In other words, Google and Intel may collaborate on this Nexus device.
In which case you are talking about the 64-bit quad-core Atom "Moorefield" processor which was "expected to be available in the second half of the year".
The Moorfield processors may go up to 2.3GHz, and would feature "an enhanced GPU and support for faster memory," as well as support for Intel's own 2014 LTE platform that would be able to deliver LTE-Advanced data speeds. The word on the strasse is should.

The Nexus 8 may ship with a PowerVR G6430 GPU if indeed the Moorefield chip will be chosen for the tablet. The PowerVR Series 6 card is apparently 20 times faster than Series 5 models and five times more efficient.
However it is odd that when Chipzilla made announcements about who was going to be using the new chip it failed to mention Google. Instead it talked about "multiyear agreements with Lenovo, Asus, Dell and Foxconn," to "to expand the availability of tablets and smartphones with Intel Atom processors and communication platforms."
However, Asus made the first two Nexus 7 tablets and HTC has been named as a potential maker of a high-end Nexus tablet this year, so maybe the deal was in the fine print.

 Source: http://news.techeye.net/mobile/google-set-to-kill-off-nexus-7?

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 11th Mar 2014

This update contains improvements and bug fixes, including

o iOS experience designed for the car
o Simply connect your iPhone to a CarPlay-enabled vehicle
o Supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages and third-party audio apps
o Control with Siri and the car's touchscreen, knobs and buttons

o Siri
o Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the Home button while you speak and releasing it when you're done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking
o New, more natural-sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English and Japanese
o iTunes Radio
o Search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favourite artist or song
o Buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing
o Subscribe to iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free
o Calendar
o Option to display events in month view
o Country-specific holidays automatically added for many countries
o Accessibility
o Bold font option now includes the keyboard, calculator and many icon glyphs
o Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages and multitasking UI animations
o New options to display button shapes, darken app colours and reduce white point
o New Camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s
o iCloud Keychain support in additional countries
o FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device
o Fixes a bug that could occasionally cause a Home screen crash
o Improves Touch ID fingerprint recognition
o Improved performance for iPhone 4
o Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000
o Continued user interface refinements

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:

Damien Biddulph

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Mar 2014

 Dan Worth - 07 Mar 2014 - V3.co.uk

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) £200,000 in a stark example of the perils organisations face when collecting and storing personal data.

The incident occurred in March 2012 when hacker James Jeffery infiltrated the charity’s content management system (CMS) and defaced its website in a protest at the work BPAS does.

Jeffery then threatened to publish the names, dates of birth, addresses and telephone numbers of 9,900 people who had contacted the charity asking for guidance on a raft of serious issues such as abortion and vasectomy treatments.

However, the police were able to arrest Jeffery before any information was released. He was given a two-and-a-half year prison sentence.

The subsequent investigation by the ICO underlines the issues IT managers face when it comes to security and the need for constant checking of the processes in place for data-gathering and hosting.

BPAS gathered the data on 9,900 members of the public via a ‘call back’ form, which requested their name, date of birth, address and telephone number. This data was then stored within the CMS.

When it had contracted an IT company to build its website in 2007, it had decided against storing this data within the CMS, due to security concerns. But this was not properly communicated to the IT company, so the feature was built in anyway. BPAS had no knowledge it was collecting personal data in an unsecured manner.

The ICO said BPAS’s failure to properly secure its data and have contracts in place with IT partners about the requirements of the tools it commissioned was deeply concerning and merited a sizeable fine.

“BPAS failed to take appropriate technical and organisational measures against the unauthorised processing of personal data stored on the BPAS website,” it said in its report.

It also said the charity failed to carry out any security testing on its website, which could have brought the issues to light.

ICO deputy commissioner David Smith said the incident underlines the need for vigilance and respect towards data that is being collected and stored.

"BPAS didn’t realise their website was storing this information, didn’t realise how long it was being retained for and didn’t realise the website wasn’t being kept sufficiently secure. But ignorance is no excuse," he said.

"It is especially unforgiveable when the organisation is handling information as sensitive as that held by the BPAS. Data controllers must take active steps to ensure that the personal data they are responsible for is kept safe."

BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi said the charity was “horrified” by the scale of the fine and would be appealing to the ICO.

"This fine seems out of proportion when compared with those levelled against other organisations who were not themselves the victims of a crime," she said. "It is appalling that a hacker who acted on the basis of his opposition to abortion should see his actions rewarded in this way."

The fine will be reduced to £160,000 if BPAS pays by the end of March.

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Posted by Delete Delete on Mon 10th Mar 2014

Some businesses out there need to store lots of data, and would like to do so by packing it into as small a space as possible. Enter the next generation in optical storage from Sony and Panasonic, which will result in the introduction of 300GB optical discs starting next year.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

300GB discs will be the smallest of the new entries in optical storage. These discs will be followed up with ones that will hold 500GB of data, as well as a whopping 1TB. For comparison, current-gen Blu-ray discs commonly hold 25GB per disc, and the highest-capacity Blu-ray we’ve found for sale on Froogle tops out at 100GB.

Dubbed Archival Discs, these plastic wonders will reportedly be readable for a minimum of 50 years. On top of that, a Panasonic rep claims that the new discs don’t require that you store them in any special environments or specific temperatures in order to keep them in tip top shape.

Though you may already be dreaming of the entertainment applications that 300GB, 500GB, and 1TB discs potentially hold, reports state that Panasonic and Sony are aiming for these discs to be used in big data storage applications, like cloud services. They’re allegedly not being developed for consumer use at this time.

“As a type of archival media, optical discs have numerous advantages over current mainstream HDD and tape media, such as their ability to be stored for a long time while still maintaining readability,” said a Panasonic rep. “We hope to develop demand for archives that use optical discs.”

If the 50 year readability claim has any merit to it, that would put these discs much higher on the durability totem pole compared to other storage formats, like traditional hard drives. For instance, a study conducted by BackBlaze, an online backup services firm, concluded that of the 13,000 Seagate drives it tested, the 1.5TB drives had an annual failure rate of 14 percent, while the 3TB and 4TB drives suffered annual failure rates of 9 percent, and 3 percent, respectively.

It’s currently unclear how much any of these discs will cost once they begin to hit the market starting next year, but we’re pretty sure that they won’t come cheap.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Mar 2014

Nicholas Carlson - businessinsider.com - 8th March 2014

Steve Jobs used to tell a story about how he first became inspired by the idea of what computers could do.

He'd say that once, when he was a kid, he was reading a science magazine and he found an article ranking animals by the efficiency of their movements.

At the top of the list, there were cheetahs and hawks. Way down at the bottom, there were humans — relatively slow on their two legs.

But then Jobs noticed a second list in the magazine.

This one compared humans on bicycles versus all the other animals. Humans were suddenly the most efficient animals on the planet.

Young Steve Jobs realized that was the power of machines, of tools.

Later, Jobs would say that the computer is a "bicycle for the mind" – a tool that speeds us along much faster than we could ever go without it.

If that's that true, then the best parts of Apple's "bicycles for the mind" have always been the handle bars and the pedals.

The handle bars and the pedals are the parts where the human touches the machine, and the machine responds in a joy-inspiring way.

Apple became a $470 billion company over 40 years by examining all the known technologies for how humans can interact with computers, selecting the best technologies, and then perfecting them through a blissful marriage of hardware and software design.

In the 1980s, it was the mouse — invented at PARC and made mainstream by Apple. Paired with graphics-based user-interface, it made home computers plausible.

In the early 2000s, it was the clickwheel. Paired with the iPod's simple software it made carrying a hard drive in your pocket worth doing.

Then, in 2006, came the iPhone with its miraculous touchscreen. It was far better than any consumers had ever experienced at ATMs or kiosks till then. Paired with iOS, it made smartphones accessible to everyone.

Sometime over the next five years, Apple began to go through the same process. It examined the world for technologies humans were using to interact with computers, looking for one it could perfect the way it had the mouse and the touchscreen.

It found one, and on October 4, 2011, it came out.

That was Siri.

Like the mouse, clickwheel, and touchscreen, Siri was supposed to be a new way for a human to move their "bicycle for the mind."

The plan was for the human voice to go through a computer's microphone, and for the computer to react as simply as a bicycle moves when you pedal.

But unlike the mouse, clickwheel, and touchscreen — or bicycle pedals — Siri doesn't work 100% of the time.

In fact, according to a report from Pipar Jaffray's Apple analyst, Gene Munster, it only works about 79% of the time.

That's too rare — by about 21%.

Steven Sinofsky, who led development of the very successful Windows 7, says on his blog that "a general UX principle…is anytime you push some feature on your customer you really want it to be right (correct, useful, helpful) for him/her 100% of the time."

"If not, chances are your customer will recall the negatives of the feature far more than the positives."

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if the touchscreen only worked 79% of the time? Very few people would have ever bought an iPhone.

The reason it feels like Apple has stopped innovating to so many people is that the last time it tried to do what it does best — perfect a technology that allows humans to interact with computers — it failed. And that was two and a half years ago. The last time it succeeded was 2006 — eight years ago.

(It's impossible not to wonder if, before he died, Steve Jobs thought Siri would be a breakthrough technology the way the touchscreen, the mouse, and the clickwheel were. He died on October 5, the day after it came out. Maybe he thought it would be a huge success, and that's why he told his biographer that Apple had finally cracked TV. Maybe we haven't gotten the Apple TV we've been told to expect years ago because it leaned heavily on Siri, and Siri doesn't really work.)


The good news for Apple shareholders, Apple fans, and humans who like "bicycles for the mind," is that, according to several reports, Apple is about to come out with a new kind of computer built around a new kind of input technology.

That's the iWatch.

According to several reports, the iWatch will have sensors on the back of its face where the watch touches the skin. Supposedly, those sensors will be able to do things like monitor the wearer's blood flow, sugar levels, and more.

According to Thomas Lee and David R. Baker at the San Francisco Chronicle, Apple hired a "renowned audio engineer" named Tomlinson Holman to develop software and hardware that would allow a watch on your wrist to listen to your blood flow and then alert you when "turbulence" indicated that you were about to have a heart attack.

If the iWatch works 21% more often than Siri does, Apple will have done what it's always done to such great success, once again.

For years, companies like Google and Nike and Samsung have been working on wearable technology.

It seems that Apple has been observing their efforts, and is finally ready to come into the market with something more mainstream-friendly — a bicycle for the mind we all want to ride.

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