AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

Google introduces high-end Pixel smartphones

Written by James Delahunty @ 05 Oct 2016 0:56

Google introduces high-end Pixel smartphones Google unveiled the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones in an event in San Francisco today.

The Pixel smartphones are thought to be the first in a line of Google products to replace the popular Nexus series, and start at $649.

They both pack a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, 4GB LPDDR4 RAM, a 12.3 MP camera and 8 MP front camera, Bluetooth 4.2 support, a USB-C connector and a fingerprint sensor.

The Pixel features a 5-inch 1080p HD AMOLED display and comes with 32GB storage, and a 2,770 mAh battery. The more expensive option, the Pixel XP, upgrades the screen to a 5.5-inch Quad HD display, comes with 128GB of storage and packs a 3,450mAh battery.

These will be the first phones to feature Google's new Assistant and support rapid charging. Google estimates that 15 minutes of charging is enough for 7 hours.

Oh and for the record, they both have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack!


AfterDawn: News

Google puts 'Solitaire' and 'Tic Tac Toe' directly in search results

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 22:17

Google puts 'Solitaire' and 'Tic Tac Toe' directly in search results Procrastinators of the world unite! Solitaire and Tic Tac Toe are now just a Google search away on mobile and desktop.

Don't have any game apps installed and need to kill a few minutes? Head over to and simply search solitaire and you will see an option to tap (or click) to play a game of solitaire, with both Easy and Hard difficult settings.

If you want to take on Google in a game of Tic Tac Toe, then just search Tic Tac Toe and you will be marking your X's or O's immediately.

Remember, Google will also flip a coin for you if you search flip a coin, and it will also play animal sounds if you ask it to. For example, search what sound does a cow make?

Why? Well, why not I guess.

AfterDawn: News

Dropbox might ask you to update your password on next login

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 21:56

Dropbox might ask you to update your password on next login Dropbox has said it will ask some of its users to change their password the next time they login, but assures that there is nothing to worry about.

Users who signed up for Dropbox prior to mid-2012 will be prompted to update their Dropbox password the next time they login, according to the service, which stressed that this is only a preventative measure.

The move follows the discovery of an old set of Dropbox user credentials (email addresses plus hashed and salted passwords) that the firm believes was obtained in 2012 as part of an incident that was disclosed four years ago.

However, despite the discovery, Dropbox found no evidence that any accounts have been improperly accessed. Nevertheless, as a precaution, any user who has not changed passwords since 2012 will be prompted to do so as part of the next login.

"We're doing this purely as a preventive measure, and there is no indication that your account has been improperly accessed. We're sorry for the inconvenience," writes Patrick Heim on the Dropbox blog.

More information:

AfterDawn: News

PSA: Apple releases iOS 9.3.5 to fix three critical security flaws

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 21:42

PSA: Apple releases iOS 9.3.5 to fix three critical security flaws Apple has released iOS 9.3.5 to fix three critical security flaws that were linked to the attempted hacking of a human rights activist's iPhone.

On August 10, Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activity in the United Arab Emirates, began receiving suspicious text messages claiming to offer information about the torture of people in the UAE.

Mansoor was suspicious of the text messages and passed them to researchers at Citizen Lab, who confirmed it was an attempt to hack Mansoor's phone and track him, according to the New York Times.

Collaborating with Lookout, a mobile security firm located in San Francisco, they discovered that the spyware relied on three zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple's iOS software. These vulnerabilties were reported to Apple, and are all patched by iOS 9.3.5 which is available as an OTA update for all devices running iOS 9 right now.

The three vulnerabilities are very serious. The potential impact of any of the three vulnerabilities being exploited is as follows:

  • CVE-2016-4655: An application may be able to disclose kernel memory
  • CVE-2016-4656: An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges
  • CVE-2016-4657: Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to arbitrary code execution


AfterDawn: News

Netflix responds to North Korea's streaming 'competitor'

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 21:19

Netflix responds to North Korea's streaming 'competitor' Netflix responded this week to the reported launch of a new set top box and streaming service in North Korea, called 'Manbang'.

According to reports, the new STB and service in the country only really offers TV channels from state controlled media, and it's not clear whether it actually offers anything on demand at all.

The name of the new service, Manbang, has understandably raised eyebrows, but apparently it translates to "everywhere" in Korea. Earlier this week, Netflix told Business Insider that they are "bummed we didn't think of that name first."

Furthermore, Netflix went on to edit its Twitter bio to one that may be approved by the DPRK regime.


AfterDawn: News

PlayStation Network adds 2 step verification

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 14:17

PlayStation Network adds 2 step verification Sony has finally enabled 2 step verification for logging in to the PlayStation Network.

Once activated, the service will add an extra layer of authentication when you attempt to login with your username and password. A verification code will be sent to you via SMS which will need to be entered to complete the login process.

Passwords can be compromised in a variety of ways. Users who have the same password in use for multiple services put themselves at increased risk because it only takes one of those services to be compromised for their other accounts to be vulnerable.

Phishing attacks and other malicious tactics are also frequently targeted at services like PSN. With 2 factor authentication you can add an extra layer of security so that even if your password has been stolen, the login process cannot be completed without an additional code sent to your phone.

To activate 2 step verification on PSN, check this link.

AfterDawn: News

WhatsApp to share your number, data with Facebook unless you opt out

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 14:08

WhatsApp to share your number, data with Facebook unless you opt out WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy for the first time in years and will share your phone number and other data with Facebook to offer more services.

WhatsApp had previously announced that it was seeking to find ways to make it possible for businesses to communicate with users. For example, it envisions a bank being able to contact a WhatsApp user through the service to inform them of a possibly fraudulent transaction or an airline notifying a user of a delayed flight.

In order to test out such additions to the service, WhatsApp has had to make the first change to its privacy policy since it was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.

The most notable change however is WhatsApp intention to connect your phone number to your Facebook account, which some users won't be thrilled about.

"By coordinating more with Facebook, we'll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp," a company blog post reads.

For now, however, it possible to opt out either on the new Terms and Conditions screen or within 30 days after accepting the new Terms and Conditions.

Once the Terms and Privacy Policy screen come up, you will note there is another option below the green "Agree" button that reads: "Read more about the key updates to our Terms and Privacy Policy." If you tap on this message, another screen will come up with the option to opt out of sharing your WhatsApp account information with Facebook.


AfterDawn: News

Driver playing Pokemon Go kills woman in accident

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 13:51

Driver playing Pokemon Go kills woman in accident A truck driver has struck two pedestrians in a fatal accident because he was distracted playing Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go has surely been the phenomenon of 2016, but its popularity has had an unpleasant set of side effects. Masses of players have been a nuisance in public places at times, while some have suffered injuries from falls and accidents whilst not paying attention to the surroundings.

Players in Bosnia were given a stark warning about wandering into dangerous minefields left over after the conflict in the 1990s, while the murder of an 18 year old in Guatemala was also linked to the game by authorities.

In another tragic case, a truck driver in Japan hit two pedestrians because he was distracted playing Pokemon Go. A woman has died following the crash while another is recovering from injuries.

The driver was arrested for negligent driving and admitted he was distracted by the game when he struck the pedestrians.

A spokesman for developer Niantic Inc told the Reuters news agency that the company had added a pop-up to the Pokemon Go screen when it detected an increase in speed seeking confirmation on whether the play was driving at the time.

A Nintendo spokesman offered condolences to the family of the deceased.


AfterDawn: News

PlayStation Now coming to PC, joined by DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adaptor

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 13:36

PlayStation Now coming to PC, joined by DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adaptor You will soon be able to play some older PS3 classics on your Windows PC using a DualShock 4 controller.

PlayStation Now is coming to Windows starting with parts of Europe very soon, with North America following shortly after. This will blockbusters from the Uncharted, God of War, and Ratchet & Clank franchises to Windows along with hundreds of other games currently on offer from the service.

In order to use PlayStation Now on your Windows PC, you should match or better these recommended specifications:

  • Windows 7 (SP1), 8.1 or 10
  • 3.5 GHz Intel Core i3 or 3.8 GHz AMD A10 or faster
  • 300 MB or more; 2 GB or more of RAM
  • Sound card; USB port
A minimum 5Mbps Internet connection is also required to use PlayStation Now properly with a wired connection being recommended.

In addition to the arrival of PlayStation Now on PC, Microsoft has also unveiled a new DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adaptor, which launches in early September for a suggested retail price of $24.99 ($29.99 CAD). You can use the adapter with PlayStation Now or for PS4 Remote Play on PC and Mac.

AfterDawn: News

U.S. indicts three alleged operators of KickassTorrents

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 12:56

U.S. indicts three alleged operators of KickassTorrents The U.S. Department of Justice has named three alleged operators of KickassTorrents in a grand jury indictment this week.

One of the men was already named after he was arrested last month by Polish authorities, while two new names have appeared. All three men are from Ukraine.

According to the DoJ, KickassTorrents was a commercial website that facilitated and promoted the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted content over the Internet without authorization of the copyright owners.

In addition to KickassTorrents, the three individuals were also linked to a number of other sites by the DoJ, including, Solarmovie,, and Torcache.

The three men used to sites to generate millions of dollars in revenue, according to the indictment, which also details payments made for advertising to back accounts operated by the men.

Source: TorrentFreak

AfterDawn: News

Google targets sites with pop-up and intrusive interstitial content

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 12:45

Google targets sites with pop-up and intrusive interstitial content Google is changing its Search algorithm to effectively punish websites that use certain types of pop-up and intrusive advertisements and content.

Starting from January 10, 2017, Google's Mobile Search results will "demote" sites that load certain types of intrusive content, including pop-ups which have re-emerged as a common annoyance with the rise of mobile web usage.

An increasing number of websites deliver interstitials to users when they visit. Interstitials are elements that cover the content of the screen until you close them. They can be used to deliver adds or push subscriptions and so forth, but they can be a real annoyance for users who just want to get to the content.

"Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller," Google's Webmaster Central Blog, reads.

To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.

Some exceptions will be made however, such as interstitials that inform users about the use of Cookies, which sites are legally obliged to at least in the European Union. Sites that use similar pop up content to ask for login details to access non-publicly indexed information are also exempt. Other forms of interstitials that use a reasonably small area of the screen and are easily dismissed will also be exempt.


AfterDawn: News

Amazon offers unlimited cloud storage plan in UK

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 12:06

Amazon offers unlimited cloud storage plan in UK Amazon is now offering an unlimited storage plan for all kinds of files for 55 per year in the UK, less than 5 per month.

Existing Prime customers already could take advantage of unlimited storage for photos, but now anybody in the UK can sign up for unlimited storage of all kinds of files for 55 per year. Some members may also be entitled to try out the unlimited plan for three months without charge.

"Most people have a lifetime of photos from birthdays, holidays and everyday moments stored across numerous devices--and a lot of those people don't know how many gigabytes they need to back all those memories up, or what it's going to cost," said David Nenke, Director of Amazon Drive.

"With our new Unlimited Storage plan, that's no longer something customers need to worry about. They now have an affordable, secure solution to store unlimited amounts of photos, videos, movies, music, and other files in one place--with no tiered storage options or rising fees to worry about."

The plan means users could automatically backup all photos and videos storage on their phones and other devices to the cloud storage service, as well as documents or other types of files they need to keep secure.


AfterDawn: News

YouTube to add 'social network' features to compete with Facebook, Twitter

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 11:43

YouTube to add 'social network' features to compete with Facebook, Twitter YouTube is working on incorporating more social network-like features for its users in order to fend off competition from Facebook, Twitter and others.

According to a report from VentureBeat, YouTube is working on "Backstage", which will expand its platform to allow creators to share photos, polls, links, text posts and videos with subscribers, and will also eventually allow subscribers to reply with rich content including photos and videos.

While YouTube obviously already is a video platform, Backstage will also enable sharing Backstage-only videos, presumably so creators can communicate with subscribers without adding a new video to the visible YouTube channel.

Video sharing and watching will remain the primary function of YouTube however, as the new features seem aimed at creators who might be tempted to move to other platforms that go beyond video sharing.

The added features are expected to launch in some form before the end of the year, possibly limited to popular YouTube channels in initial stages.

Source: Inside Backstage: YouTube's plan to bring photos, polls, and text to the video service (VB)

AfterDawn: News

Microsoft Excel blamed for errors in academic papers

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 11:27

Microsoft Excel blamed for errors in academic papers A Melbourne-based institute has demonstrated that a feature of Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software has resulted in errors in scientific papers on the subject of genomics.

The problem has been known for over a decade in the scientific community and it is fairly simple to understand. The problem arises when Excel, with default settings, converts gene symbols into Calendar dates. For example, Septin 2 can be written as SEPT2, which Excel will automatically change into "September 2" using its default settings.

Despite the issue being noted by the scientific community in 2004, the problem has not only persisted but has gotten worse. The study, conducted by Baker IDI, notes that the instances of the problem have increased at an annual rate of 15 percent over the past five years alone.

After scanning through 3,597 published scientific papers, the researchers found that 704 of them contained gene naming errors created by Excel, or possibly by a number of similar software with the same feature, including OpenOffice Calc.

The feature that turns entries into Caldendar dates can be turned off in the Excel settings quite easily.

Sources and Recommended Reading:
Microsoft Excel blamed for gene study errors:
Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature:

AfterDawn: News

Defect is breaking iPhone 6 handsets, claims iFixit

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 11:17

Defect is breaking iPhone 6 handsets, claims iFixit iFixit has detailed an apparent design flaw with Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets which can result in the screen flickering and becoming unresponsive to touch.

Describing the issue as "Touch Disease", iFixit claims it has affected a large number of handsets, particularly the iPhone 6 Plus model, according to repair technicians that it has consulted. At the core of the problem are two chips that can become detached from the circuit board of each model over time as a result of touch-screen usage.

The problem becomes worse as the solder connection between the chips and the circuit board increasingly degrade.

"You might notice that the screen is sometimes unresponsive, but it is quick to come back with a hard reset," iFixit details in a blog post. "As the crack deepens into a full separation of the chip-board bond, the periods of no touch function become more frequent."

Initially, the problem can be alleviated by pressing down on the screen or twisting the phones body, but this workout won't work beyond a certain point and a permanent solution is yet unavailable.


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