Showing posts from December 30, 2017

Congo orders cuts to internet and SMS to stifle protests

Authoritarian leaders are fond of severing communications in a bid to hold on to power, and that tradition sadly isn't going away. The Democratic Republic of Congo's government has ordered telecoms to cut internet and SMS access ahead of planned mass protests against President Joseph Kabila, whose administration has continuously delayed elections to replace him. Telecom minister Emery Okundji told Reuters that it was a response to "violence that is being prepared," but people aren't buying that argument. Officials had already banned demonstrations, and the country has history of cutting communications and blocking social network access in a bid to quash dissent.Historically, these attempts at disrupting communication have had mixed results. Kabila used a communications cut in 2015 with some success, but attempts in Egypt and elsewhere have failed -- if just because service eventually has to come back. And the Congo protests this time around promise to be particul…

OkCupid's 'real' name push isn't sitting well with users

OkCupid is facing a lot of backlash for ditching usernames in favor of real names. As TechCrunch noted, its app's Google Play and App Store pages are flooded with one-star reviews posted over the past month, complaining about the features the service has recently changed or killed. The reviews talked about how the forced transparency of the new name requirement could compromise people's privacy and security, since the service now also matches users with others nearby based on their shared interests. Those with stalkery tendencies might take advantage of these new offerings. A lot of them also discussed concerns that is simply turning OkCupid (which it owns) into another Tinder (which it also owns).OkCupid explained again and again as responses to the reviews that it's not requiring people to use their legal names. They can use nicknames, even initials, so long as they don't have numbers and symbols. It told TechCrunch in a statement that the change's purp…

Kenwood will be one of the first to offer wireless Android Auto

Google talked about wireless Android Auto back in spring 2016, but there hasn't exactly been widespread adoption. You still have to assume that you'll need a USB cable when you hit the road. That's about to change: JVCKenwood has casually teased plans to unveil a high-end head end unit with "wireless connectivity for Android Auto" at CES in January. It's keeping most details close to the vest, as you might expect before the big show, but it will pack Apple CarPlay support and a 720p screen.It may take a while for this head end to arrive. Many products announced at CES tend not to ship for a few months. And this certainly won't be a trivial expense when it does arrive. However, this might be one of your better options if you want to get directions or listen to music without plugging in your Android phone. Also, we won't be shocked if this hints at other wireless Android Auto introductions in the near future, including built-in implementations.Source:JV…

Telegram suspends channel for encouraging violent Iran protests

Iran is currently engulfed in demonstrations: many are protesting the clerical leadership, corruption and increasing costs of living, while counter-protestors are trying to protect the regime. And Telegram finds itself caught in the middle. The chat service has suspended the Amadnews channel after it started encouraging subscribers to lob Molotov cocktails at police, breaking the company's policy against calls for violence. The move came after Iran telecoms minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi complained to company founder Pavel Durov, who said Telegram would have to block the channel if it was promoting violence as claimed.It's not clear if or when the channel might come back.The incident highlights the fine line Telegram has to walk. It doesn't want to be seen as supporting an oppressive government, especially one that wants to spy on Telegram users, but it also has to maintain a consistent anti-violence policy. If it's going to ban ISIS, it also has to ban activist…

Florida may finally implement full ban on texting while driving

There are 43 states that currently treat texting while driving as a primary offense, but Florida isn't one of them -- you have to break another law before texting enters the picture. However, less-than-attentive commuters might not get away with it for much longer. The state legislature is about to consider a bill that would make texting a primary offense. In other words, officers could finally pull drivers over without waiting until they speed or otherwise put other road-goers at risk.Whether or not the measure works is another story. The AP notes that there are conflicting studies on the effectiveness of these laws. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that those states without texting as a main offense had higher-than-average highway death rates, but also stated that existing bans haven't led to a decrease in accidents despite many people putting their phones down.There's also a concern that police may use texting as an opportunity for racial profiling. An un…

Cryptocurrency expert kidnapped for $1 million bitcoin ransom

On Tuesday, cryptocurrency expert Pavel Lerner was snatched by an armed gang wearing ski masks near his office in Ukraine. It was a kidnap-for-ransom scheme, but with a high-tech twist: instead of asking for easily traceable paper money, the kidnappers demanded to be paid $1 million worth of bitcoins. Turns out NY County District Attorney Cyrus Vance was right when he said we can expect cryptocurrency-related crimes (outside of cyber attacks) to be more common as its value surges. Vance made the statement after armed robbers held up a victim at gunpoint earlier this month to steal $1.8 million worth of virtual coins in New York.For the robbers, Lerner was a great target: he's a known bitcoin authority in Ukraine and is an executive at cryptocurrency exchange Exmo. He was thankfully released (shocked but alive) a couple of days later, but it's unclear who made the transfer for him and whether he did it himself. His company has assured users, though, that their coins are "a…

Three human-powered tools for maximum destruction

Gadgets Whether you’re splitting wood or tearing down a whole house, these implements can do the job.Whether you’re splitting wood or tearing down a whole house, these implements can do the job. via Popular Science ""

Apple's $29 iPhone battery replacements are available a month early

Apple was only poised to offer discounted iPhone battery replacements to Americans in late January, but they're already here. The company has issued a statement announcing that the $29 replacements are available today (December 30th) in the US for affected users with an iPhone 6 or later, whether or not they have an active AppleCare warranty. It didn't explain the move beyond saying that it "expected to need more time to be ready," but it was "happy" to provide the lower prices "right away." It warned that there might be initial shortages of batteries for some models.As before, the discount should last through the end of 2018.The $50 price slash is part of Apple's public apology for failing to disclose that it slows processor speeds on iPhones with severely degraded batteries. The company claimed that it slows the phones down to prevent unexpected shutdowns and extend longevity, but the lack of transparency led to accusations that it was tryin…

The Verge 2017 tech report card: Gadgets

It’s been a pretty good year for gadgets. While the most popular gadget may have been the fidget spinner, there have been a number of devices released in 2017 that will make a lasting impact for years to come. From the Nintendo Switch, which turned out to be a major hit for the Japanese gaming company, to new smart home devices from companies like Nest and Arlo, to changes in policy around smart luggage that threaten industry leaders in the space, 2017 has been nothing if not exciting for gadget enthusiasts.The biggest gadget win of the year is undoubtedly the Nintendo Switch. The portable gaming console landed in March and immediately made its mark as the best portable console in years. There have been very few gadgets that have...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

State Department releases emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin

Like it or not, the Hillary Clinton email saga isn't over yet. The US State Department has released about 2,800 emails and other documents from former Clinton aide Huma Abedin that were found on the laptop of her soon-to-be-former husband Anthony Weiner. The disclosure is a response to a 2015 Freedom of Information Act request from Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has been hoping to use the presence of classified emails from personal accounts as evidence of lawbreaking by Abedin and Clinton. Most of the messages (covering January 2009 to February 2013) are unclassified, though a handful have been redacted at least in part.Five of Abedin's messages were deemed classified and discussed Middle Eastern affairs, including a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a deal with talks between Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization and chats with the UAE's foreign minister. The least redacted message discussed a call to Saudi Arabia's Prince…

Steam Winter Sale 2017 Continues! Plus, Vote For The Steam Awards!

The Steam Winter Sale continues today, through January 4th!* Save big on thousands of games for Windows, Mac and Linux!

Be sure to vote in The Steam Awards! Come back every day through January 2nd to vote for each award, and find out the winners on January 3rd.

Voting continues today with The "Soul of Vitruvius" Award. Here are the finalists:


Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

I am Bread

NieR: Automata

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Remember to check back every day to see the new category and cast your vote!

*Discounts end January 4th at 10pm Pacific, unless otherwise indicated. via Steam RSS News Feed ""

An LTE version of Nokia’s 3310 may be coming

Back when it launched earlier this year, the Nokia 3310 only worked on 2G networks. Then in September, a new version was released that supported 3G networks, allowing it to work in the US on AT&T and T-Mobile. Now it looks like there will be another new version, this time with LTE support.According to a TENAA listing surfaced by Phone Radar, a new version of the 3310 has gone through China’s version of the FCC and is shown to support TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA, two of the country’s most popular wireless bands. The 3310 is also said to be running Alibaba’s Yun OS, which isn’t that surprising given that the 3G version runs a different OS than the 2G version, despite them looking identical.Whether we see an LTE version of the Nokia 3310 in the...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

Apple’s $29 iPhone battery swap is now available, sooner than promised

Earlier this week, Apple published a letter to its customers, apologizing for slowing older iPhones as their batteries aged, and said that it would reduce the price of batteries of the affected phones to from $79 to $29. Apple says that that customers can now replace their batteries at the reduced price.Apple initially said that the batteries would be available in late January, but updated its apology post, to say that they are now available. The company told The Verge in a statement that “we expected to need more time to be ready, but we are happy to offer our customers the lower pricing right away.” Apple had previously announced that batteries would be available at a reduced price beginning at the end of January. The company also...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

The Verge 2017 tech report card: Artificial intelligence and robotics

Artificial intelligence boomed this year like few other areas in tech, but despite the scientific breakthroughs, glut of funding, and new products rolling out to consumers, the field has problems that can’t be ignored. Some of these, like company-driven hype and sensationalist headlines, need better communication from the media and experts. Others challenges are more nuanced and will take longer to address, such as bias in algorithms and the growing threat of tech firms becoming AI monopolies as they hoover up data and talent.But first, the good stuff. Artificial intelligence was everywhere in 2017, and although you’re right to be skeptical when you hear this, it’s positive news. Experts compare AI to electricity because it’s a...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

Xbox party chat arrives on iOS in beta

You no longer need an Android phone if you want to join in Xbox party chats when you're away from your console -- Microsoft has introduced party chat to the beta Xbox app for iOS. If you've been accepted into the program (you have to sign up first), you can keep up with your teammates' voice conversations from your iPhone or iPad while you're racing home to join them in a multiplayer match.There's no word on when party chat will reach polished versions of the Xbox mobile app, although beta testing suggests it's more a matter of weeks than months. Whenever it does arrive, it'll be good news for gamers who don't want their chats confined to the living room.Via:OnMSFT, Windows CentralSource:Xbox App Beta signup via Engadget RSS Feed ""

Blunders and blockbusters from the biggest names in tech

The Verge 2017 tech report card: Virtual reality

I wouldn’t blame you for tuning out VR news in 2017. There was no string of huge hardware releases, like last year’s Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. The medium’s limits became clearer. For some people, VR reached a trough of irrelevance — stories about it were no longer conceptually fresh and fascinating, but they weren’t relevant to daily life yet, either.Despite this, 2017 laid exciting groundwork for VR’s future. The biggest advance was arguably Windows Mixed Reality: a VR platform built into Microsoft’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, supporting headsets that don’t need external cameras or markers. Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers still aren’t very comfortable or stylish. But their tracking feels remarkably...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

10 apps to help you produce your next album on your phone

DIY Forget bedroom producer. You can be a waiting-in-line-at-the-airport producer.Making music on your smartphone might seem like a sweet (and rewarding) deal. But you'll need some good apps—we collected some of our favorites. via Popular Science ""

Where some of the weirdest cryptocurrencies of the early 2010s are now

In 2014, as bitcoin rose in value to be worth several hundred dollars, many developers launched their own alternative cryptocurrencies, and ones that came with interesting backstories often grabbed media attention. Some of these coins were for the pornindustry, others were for hip hop lovers, and some were actually serious contenders against Bitcoin that have become quite lucrative for investors.Today, there are now more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies out there and given how volatile this market is, few could have predicted where these currencies ended up today. Some of these currencies like Dogecoin have grown more popular over time, while others like Coinye West are now defunct. I’ve taken a look at four of the silliest and most...Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.Welcome to the last weekend of 2017. Before we dive into a new year we're checking out all of Friday's plus some highlights from earlier this week. See you in 2018!Police have already made an arrest.Alleged swatting hoax ends in the death of a father of twoOn Thursday night, a disagreement over Call of Duty may have contributed to the death of an innocent man at the hands of police. A game played with a $1.50 wager led to an argument where one gamer gave their address out and challenged the other to do something with it. That address apparently passed to someone else who "swatted" it, calling the local police to fake a homicide and hostage situation.When Wichita police responded, Andrew Finch came to the door, and although he was unarmed, he was shot and killed at his front door. Finch had no apparent connection to the dispute, but the player gave out a fake address. While the investigation continues, Los Angeles police reported l…

The Verge 2017 tech report card: Cameras

Digital photography as we know it is about to change. It’s already changing, really, judging by some of the cameras released in 2017. Where last year was a solid, occasionally exciting one for the camera industry, the past 12 months held even more signs that the basics of photography are evolving. And a lot that has to do with advancements in software and computational photography.That sounds boring! But hear me out.Let’s start with consumer 360-degree cameras, which until this year have often felt like a solution in search of a problem. While professionals have spent years crafting high-end VR productions using 360-degree cameras with outrageous resolution, the consumer versions of these cameras have left a lot to be desired....Continue reading… via The Verge - Tech Posts ""

Birkenstock vs. Amazon feud extends to search typos

In 2016 Birkenstock chose to stop doing business with Amazon, citing problems with counterfeit goods on the site and shady resellers. Now, the shoe company has a court win too, where a German judge ruled that Amazon can't event buy ads on variations of the name that shoppers may mistype. Birkenstock's case is that if someone is lured to Amazon's site, they won't find its real products, just counterfeits that could damage its reputation. Will these two work things out? Amazon's spat with Google doesn't seem to be cooling off, but earlier this year it did establish a partnership with Nike addressing similar concerns.Source:Reuters via Engadget RSS Feed ""