AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

Roku TV devices still banned in Mexico

Written by James Delahunty @ 30 Jun 2017 12:14

Roku TV devices still banned in Mexico A Mexican tribunal has upheld a ban on the import of Roku streaming devices in the country, citing piracy.

Cable TV provider, Cablevision, had successfully managed to have the import and sale of Roku streaming devices banned in the country on the grounds that some owners are using them for illegal television streaming. Roku did manage to have that order suspended for a few days, but has now suffered another setback.

This week, a Mexico City tribunal upheld the initial import ban, keeping it illegal to sell devices from California-based Roku in the country.

"Cablevision cannot allow the content that it licenses from domestic and foreign companies to be illegally used," Cablevision spokeswoman Maria Eugenia Zurita told Reuters.

"We would also like Roku Inc to better supervise the use of its software so that it's not used inappropriately."

Roku devices are set-top media boxes that are intended to be used with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Starz and plenty of other legal streaming services on the Internet. In recent years, such devices have fueled a growth in cord-cutting, the practice of dropping cable and satellite television services in favor of online streaming services.


AfterDawn: News

Facebook to broadcast UEFA Champions League matches

Written by James Delahunty @ 28 Jun 2017 10:50

Facebook to broadcast UEFA Champions League matches UEFA Champions League football matches will be streamed on Facebook from the coming football season, according to reports.

The UEFA Champions League is the arguably the most prestige club-level football (soccer in U.S.) competition in the world. In recent years, a competition that has been largely available on freeview has been increasing restricted behind paywalls.

As a result, global viewership of the competition has declined.

In the UK, BT Sport even decided to broadcast the Champions League final, and the Europa League final, for free on YouTube, reportedly attracting more than 3 million viewers in the region.

According to a Reuters tweet, an agreement has been reached between Fox Sports and Facebook to stream UEFA Champions League via Facebook Live during the 2017-18 season.

AfterDawn: News

Pandora pulling out of Australia, New Zealand markets

Written by James Delahunty @ 28 Jun 2017 10:36

Pandora pulling out of Australia, New Zealand markets Music streaming service Pandora is winding down its operations in Australia and New Zealand, it has announced.

Australia and New Zealand were the only territories that Pandora operated in, outside of its U.S. home, and it counts more than 5 million registered users there. It also has partnerships with Rolling Stone, Woolworths and others in the region.

Speaking to Billboard, a spokesman for Pandora confirmed the firm will exit the markets after much analysis.

"While our experience in these markets reinforces the broader global opportunity long-term, in the short-term we must remain laser-focused on the expansion of our core business in the United States," the representative said.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren stepped down as CEO earlier this week, while earlier this year the firm witnessed the departure of Jane Huxley, the director of its ANZ operations.

AfterDawn: News

Facebook reaches 2 billion users

Written by James Delahunty @ 28 Jun 2017 10:24

Facebook reaches 2 billion users Social network giant Facebook has hit a new milestone of 2 billion users around the world.

The milestone was announced by Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his personal Facebook page. According to Facebook, each day more than 800 million people like something on the service.

175 million people share a "Love" reaction, and more than a billion people user Groups on Facebook every month.

"As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people," Zuckerberg wrote in his announcement post.

"We're making progress connecting the world, and now let's bring the world closer together. It's an honor to be on this journey with you."

AfterDawn: News

Google rocked by 2.4 billion fine

Written by James Delahunty @ 28 Jun 2017 10:16

Google rocked by 2.4 billion fine The European Commission has handed down a staggering 2.4 billion fine in one of its antitrust probes against Alphabet subsidiary Google.

The fine is the equivalent of around 3 percent of Alphabet's global turnover. It has been imposed on Google by the EU's competition regulators after it found that Google had abused its dominant position in Search in order to push its own shopping ads over rival services, such as price comparison services.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The U.S. multinational was given 90 days since the ruling to stop favoring its own services in search results related to shopping, or face a further daily penalty of up to 5 percent of Alphabet's daily turnover.

Google has responded with respectful disagreement with the conclusions reached by the European Commission and is assessing its options.


AfterDawn: News

Nintendo to launch the SNES Classic later this year

Written by James Delahunty @ 26 Jun 2017 12:43

Nintendo to launch the SNES Classic later this year Nintendo of America has confirmed that it will launch the SNES Classic this year with two controllers and 21 built-in games.

The inclusion of two controllers is notable as last year's NES Classic only came with one, and among its list of classic games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (released in the U.S. in August, 1991) is the unreleased Star Fox 2.

SNES Classic will be available in the United States from Setpember 29, with an $80 price tag. Outside the U.S., the same mini-console will be released but come in the Super Famicon styling.

The 21 included games are Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Punch-Out, Super Castlevania IV, Donkey Kong Country, Mega Man X, Kirby Super Star, Final Fantasy III, Kirby's Dream Course, Star Fox, Yoshi's Island, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Secret of Mana, EarthBound, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Star Fox 2.


AfterDawn: News

Gmail will no longer scan e-mails to target ads

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Jun 2017 9:24

Gmail will no longer scan e-mails to target ads Google's Gmail service will stop the controversial practice of scanning through e-mail contents in order to deliver personalized ads, according to the firm.

The decision was revealed by Diane Greene, head of Google's cloud computing efforts, in a blog post related to Google's G Suite business. Privacy activists had criticized the practice of the automated scanning of incoming and outgoing e-mails as part of Google's deliver of personalized ads to end users.

"G Suite's Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service," Greene wrote.

"Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products."

GMail claims more than 1.2 billion users worldwide.

AfterDawn: News

Rockstar, Take-Two ease stance on PC Game mods

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Jun 2017 9:17

Rockstar, Take-Two ease stance on PC Game mods Rockstar Games has moved to reassure developers of PC game mods that publisher Take Two is unlikely to launch legal action against them.

Earlier this month, developers of a popular mod tool, OpenIV, suspended development after receiving a cease and desist letter from Take-Two Interactive. The tool allowed users to create modifications for the PC versions of Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V single player mode. However, the legal letter sent to the developers claimed the tool could be used to defeat security features and modify the software in violation of Take-Two's rights.

Players then targeted the GTA games on Steam with torrents of bad reviews, and a petition in defence of OpenIV is approaching 80,000 signatures.

Rockstar Games responded in a post on its support forums that may reassure some developers of mods for their PC games.

After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar's PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project.

Rockstar is also in contact with the developers of OpenIV on the issue of preventing people from using it to affect GTA Online, and an updated build of OpenIV has since been released.

AfterDawn: News

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns following controversies

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Jun 2017 5:17

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns following controversies Uber founder Travis Kalanick is resigning as chief executive officer under investor pressure, following a slew of controversies that rocked the ride-hailing firm.

The New York Times cites two anonymous sources close to Uber in reporting that Kalanick resigned as CEO on Tuesday from the company that he co-founded in 2009 and helped build into the global operation it is today. Investors had reportedly sent Mr Kalanick a letter demanding that he step aside.

"I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight," Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.

Kalanick will remain on Uber's board of directors. He had previously committed to changing Uber's corporate culture from the inside as the company experienced a slew of controversies.

Allegations of sexual harassment at Uber surfaced earlier this year prompting an internal investigation into the firm's culture. On top of that, a federal probe has been launched into 'Greyball', a software tool Uber is alleged to have used to help drivers avoid law enforcement or regulations.


AfterDawn: News

Spotify hopes groups build playlists through Messenger

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Jun 2017 5:02

Spotify hopes groups build playlists through Messenger Spotify is introducing Group Playlists for Messenger, allowing for a group to build playlists even if some of the group don't use Spotify.

You could use this new feature to build playlists for planned parties, for example, or just to keep up to date with new music that your friends hear.

Users can now create a Group Playlist, share it with their friends, and add songs to it directly within the Messenger app using the Spotify Chat Extension. Once a friend has created a Group Playlist, others in the conversation can add more songs directly through the Spotify Chat Extension, available by tapping the blue "+" icon next to the composer. They do not need to be on Spotify.

To try it out, visit

AfterDawn: News

Spotify now available from Windows Store

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Jun 2017 18:25

Spotify now available from Windows Store Starting today, Spotify is now available as a downloadable app from the Windows Store in all 60 countries it operates in.

It is available as a downloadable app from the Windows Store for Windows 10 (Anniversary Update or later) and for Windows 10 S. Of course, Spotify has been available as a 32-bit application for Windows for some time now, but the launch of Windows 10 S makes bringing popular apps to the Windows Store more important.

Windows 10 S is a feature-limited version of the operating system designed for low-end devices, with a nod toward the education market. Users can only install apps on Windows 10 S from the Windows Store.

Spotify beat rival iTunes to the Windows Store, with the latter projected to be available frop Microsoft's store later in the year.

Earlier this week, Spotify revealed it had reached 140 million users worldwide.

You can get Spotify from the Windows Store now.

AfterDawn: News

PayPal rolling out instant transfers to bank accounts

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Jun 2017 18:07

PayPal rolling out instant transfers to bank accounts PayPal is beginning to roll-out instant transfers of funds to bank accounts, if the user is willing to accept a small transaction fee.

Sending money from PayPal to your bank account can easily take a day or more, which can be quite inconvenient for users looking for direct access to funds. Now, PayPal is working on making those transfers much faster to fend off competitors trying to lure away users.

PayPal users in the United States will soon be able to make "instant" transfers to bank accounts via eligible debit cards linked to their account. The funds will be in the bank account within a matter of minutes, and no more than thirty minutes, according to PayPal.

However, these speedier transactions do come at a cost in the form of a 25c transaction fee.

The feature is currently available in beta to select U.S. users of PayPal and will be made available to all U.S. users (with eligible Visa or Mastercard debit cards) in the coming weeks and months.

Unfortunately, PayPal hasn't made any comment on instant transfers to bank accounts for non-U.S. users just yet.

AfterDawn: News

ProtonVPN is a free VPN service for everyone

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Jun 2017 17:50

ProtonVPN is a free VPN service for everyone The ProtonMail team reveals a new free VPN service for everybody as it continues to make privacy and security an achievable goal for Internet users.

ProtonMail launched three years ago as the world's first publicly available end-to-end encrypted email service on the 25th anniversary of the web. The encrypted e-mail service was developed and launched through the efforts of scientists from CERN and MIT.

Citing the rollback of Obama-era Internet privacy rules in the United States, and the ongoing censorship experienced by over a billion Internet users worldwide, Proton Technologies has launched ProtonVPN. While there are paid options available, there is a permanent free tier also available.

Using the free service, a user's communications are routed through encrypted tunnels located in three countries, getting around most censorship and data monitoring efforts. The drawback is that the speed will be comparatively slow compared to the paid tiers, and is limited to use with only one device at a time.

A Basic plan for $4 per month ups it to 2 devices and improves speed, while a Plus plan for $8 per month bumps to 5 devices and offers the highest speed. The most expensive plan, the Visionary plan, allows for 10 devices and promises the highest speed.


AfterDawn: News

Finnish VR firm details 'human eye resolution' headset

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Jun 2017 9:09

Finnish VR firm details 'human eye resolution' headset Staffed by employees formerly of Microsoft, Nokia, Intel, Nvidia and Rovi, Varjo promises a dramatically improved VR experience.

Varjo (Finnish for 'Shadow') emerged from stealth today to detail its upcoming VR headset, codenamed "20|20", and the improvements it will offer on existing (and still pending) products from rivals in the space. It is selling its product as the world's first Human eye-resolution headmounted display.

With a dramatically improved effective resolution, Varjo is making big promises for its products in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR) realism, citing its patented technology that "replicates how the human eye naturally works, creating a super-high-resolution image to the users gaze direction."

While offering the same 100 field of view as Oculus and HTC's Vive, it bumps the effective resolution to 70 MP, from 1.2 MP.

"Varjo's patented display innovation pushes VR technology 10 years ahead of the current stateof-the-art, where people can experience unprecedented resolution of VR and AR content limited only by the perception of the human eye itself," said Urho Konttori, CEO and founder of Varjo Technologies.

"This technology, along with Varjo VST, jump-starts the immersive computing age overnight VR is no longer a curiosity, but now can be a professional tool for all industries."


AfterDawn: News

Legal threat sinks GTA mod toolkit

Written by James Delahunty @ 19 Jun 2017 5:15

Legal threat sinks GTA mod toolkit A legal threat from Take-Two has taken down the popular Open IV toolkit used to create mods for Grand Theft Auto titles on PC.

Open IV's Russian developers received a cease and desist letter earlier this month, and have decided to comply and take down the official download source for the popular toolkit.

First released in 2011 to modify the PC version of the mega-popular Grand Theft Auto IV, Open IV later added support for Grand Theft Auto V. It aided in the development of mods to the game, allowing enthusiasts to modify objects, models and textures.

The cease and desist letter, received by Good-NTS on June 5, claimed that the toolkit allowed third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two's rights. The developers said they do not have the time or energy to fight the claims in court.

Take-Two says it was not deliberately targeting single player mods, that instead the latest versions of Open IV enabled malicious mods allowing harassment of players and interfered with the GTA Online experience.

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