AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

Sony Hack: Major theater chains drop 'The Interview'

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 15:30

Sony Hack: Major theater chains drop 'The Interview' Due to be released on December 25, The Interview has been dropped or delayed by the five largest theater chains in the United States, according to reports.

Regal Entertainment Group confirmed on Wednesday to The Hollywood Reporter that it would not be showing The Interview from December 25 as planned.

"Due to the wavering support of the film The Interview by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres," the chain said in a statement.

THR also cited knowledgeable sources in reporting that AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment also have decided against screening the movie.

The Interview stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. After the movie was announced, it was condemned by North Korea as an "act of war".

Following the devastating data breach at Sony Pictures, the hacking group claiming responsibility for the attack - Guardians of Peace (GoP) - allegedly demanded that Sony cancel the release of the movie.


AfterDawn: News

BlackBerry Classic tempts business, retains QWERTY keyboard

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 14:56

BlackBerry Classic tempts business, retains QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry is back in business! The new BlackBerry Classic smartphone retains the time-tested physical QWERTY keyboard, and packs a 3.5-inch touchscreen.

Running the latest BlackBerry 10 OS, the new BlackBerry Classic features a 720x720, 3.5-inch, 294 PPI touch screen, and an 8-megapixel rear camera that can record 1080p video at 30fps. There is also a front-facing 2-megapixel camera supporting 720p recording.

Under the hood, it packs a Qualcomm MSM 8960 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. For storage, the BlackBerry Classic comes with 16GB internal storage, and using a MicroSD card this can be expanded up to 128GB.

It promises up to 22 hours mixed battery life from its non-removable 2515 mAh Lithium-ion battery.

It retains BlackBerry's time-tested physical keyboard with a 35-key backlit QWERTY pad, one of BlackBerry's most adored features in its past smartphones when it ruled the roost in the business world.

BlackBerry refers to its new classic as a "no-nonsense" smartphone built to meet the needs of productive people who appreciate the speed and accuracy that can be found with a physical QWERTY keyboard, leaving no doubt that it's main goal with the Classic is to return its loyal business users and perhaps regain some who have moved to other platforms.


AfterDawn: News

Bill Gates: 2014 wasn't as bad as you think

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 13:15

Bill Gates: 2014 wasn't as bad as you think Ebola, Ukraine, Gaza, Malaysian Airlines MH370 & MH17, Terrorism, Mass Protests, Robin Williams' suicide and plenty other things were beamed into our skulls in 2014, but Bill Gates is ever the optimist.

Being exposed to the media, you can be forgiven for thinking that things are constantly getting worse and worse. Simply put, fear sells. If it bleeds, it leads. It is very easy to be cynical and have a negative outlook on the future, but Bill Gates is far more optimistic as he looks back on 2014 and toward the future... and not just because he's insanely rich.

No, instead Gates has reminded us that a lot of good things happened in 2014 too, even if it doesn't make the headlines. Just as he did at the end of 2013, Gates is drawing attention to some of the highlights from 2014, and some of it is pretty great.

In 2014, for the 42nd year in a row (at least), the child mortality rate has fallen. "More kids are living to see their fifth birthday than ever before," Gates asserts, as he highlights the drop in the number of children dying globally from preventable causes. In fact, the child mortality rate is falling faster than ever anticipated, and Gates highlights an article in The Economist showing that over 13.6 million children's lives have been saved since 2001.


AfterDawn: News

NO! ISP refuses to block Pirate Bay

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 12:52

NO! ISP refuses to block Pirate Bay An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is refusing to block access to the Pirate Bay website as several large media firms have dragged it to court.

Website blocking is becoming a common practice, particularly in Europe. Entertainment industry players have put a lot of focus on ISPs, forcing them through legal channels to block access to unlicensed sources of content and most have done as they have been told by courts in their respective states.

Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget has decided it won't just comply however. It was subject to legal action in November from several major entertainment companies to force it to block the Pirate Bay. The notorious BitTorrent site was operational at the time, but has since been taken down in a raid in Stockholm.

"Bredbandsbolaget's role is to provide its subscribers with access to the Internet, thereby contributing to the free flow of information and the ability for people to reach each other and communicate," the ISP said in a statement, reports TorrentFreak.

"Bredbandsbolaget does not block content or services based on individual organizations' requests. There is no legal obligation for operators to block either The Pirate Bay or Swefilmer. There are other legal means to stop infringement of rights, but there is no provision in Swedish law that forces an Internet provider to block its subscribers' access to services and content."


AfterDawn: News

Google beefs up GMail security by blocking unsafe extensions

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 12:42

Google beefs up GMail security by blocking unsafe extensions Google has made further improvements to the security of your GMail contents by blocking "bad" extensions from loading unsafe code.

Specifically, Google has added support for Content Security Policy (CSP) for GMail on Desktop. It aims to protect users from bad browser extensions loading code that interferes with a GMail session, or even worse malicious extensions that compromise the security of your private e-mail.

The search giant has warned however that some legitimate extensions may need to be updated to work correctly following the change, but noted that most legit extensions you will use with GMail already implemented support for CSP.

Google is very security conscious about GMail. It requires that HTTPS be used by default and even serves images through secure proxy servers.

Any improvements to security and privacy are always welcome.

AfterDawn: News

Netflix addresses Offline Playback question once and for all

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 12:33

Netflix addresses Offline Playback question once and for all We've been waiting for Netflix to finally give a verdict on the possibility of Offline Playback and the streaming firm finally has.

Speaking with TechRadar, Netflix's director of corporation communications and technology, Cliff Edwards, has ruled out the possibility of Offline Playback, or "cached playback". Other streaming service offer users the ability to download and temporarily store programming, and Netflix has been asked repeated by its customers for the same privilege.

"It's never going to happen," Edwards told TechRadar.

The reason, according to Edwards, is that Netflix views it as a short term fix for a wider problem. That problem is a lack of access to speedy wireless coverage. However, Netflix expects that in the coming years, wireless access will greatly improve in most places, making Offline Playback features obsolete.

Are you a Netflix customer? Do you think that Offline Playback should be enabled by the service?

Sources and Recommended Reading:
Netflix: offline viewing is 'never going to happen':

AfterDawn: News

Terror threat prompts 'The Interview' premiere cancellation

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 12:18

Terror threat prompts 'The Interview' premiere cancellation The Sony Pictures hack saga took a nefarious turn yesterday when an apparent terrorism threat was made against move theaters that show 'The Interview'.

The note - which even referenced the 9/11 terrorist attacks - warned movie goers to stay clear of locations where the movie is being shown. Sony Pictures said it would not pull the movie from distribution, but would understand if individual theaters decided not to screen it.

One such cancellation that was surprising is a New York premiere of the comedy. It was scheduled to be screened at the Sunshine Cinema in Lower East Side, New York, on Thursday, but Landmark has confirmed its cancellation. It didn't, however, directly attribute the cancellation to any threat of violence.

Carmike Cinemas, which operates in 41 states, also will not show the film.

Sony Pictures was the target of a massive attack in which terabytes of data were stolen. That data has been leaking to the Internet slowly ever since, and has caused turmoil at the studio. A lawsuit has already been filed against Sony Pictures for failing to protect data by former employees.

All in all, the data breach could cost Sony Pictures in excess of $100 million.


AfterDawn: News

Icefilms streaming site is down but not for good

Written by James Delahunty @ 17 Dec 2014 12:06

Icefilms streaming site is down but not for good A popular video streaming site has disappeared leading to some speculation that it was shut down by authorities.

Icefilms is a very popular site that streams movies and TV shows. It has been down for about 24 hours with visits to its homepage only showing up an Icefilms logo, or perhaps nothing at all. The presence of the Icefilms logo on an Amazon server surprised some users of the site.

However, there's nothing to be concerned about for users of the portal, as the site is just experiencing some hosting issues and expects to be back online and fully operational in the news few days.

That's according to TorrentFreak, citing a source familiar with Icefilms.

Icefilms doesn't even show up in Google results anymore which probably led to more panic from its regular users, and some ISPs block access to the site at the request of the entertainment industry.

AfterDawn: News

Pirate Bay suspect released from custody

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 14:30

Pirate Bay suspect released from custody After being in custody for almost a week, a man allegedly linked to the Pirate Bay website was released from custody in Sweden yesterday.

It is believed the man may have been a moderator on the Pirate Bay site but this hasn't been confirmed. In any case, prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad stated that the individual is suspected of copyright law violations.

"The suspicions relate to a violation of copyright law. Everything is being analyzed now and new hearings may possibly be held," he said.

The Pirate Bay was taken down in a raid last week in Sweden, and there was reportedly just one arrest in connection to the site so far. It has remained officially offline ever since, but there has been some efforts to keep its database alive and well until it may eventually return.

There appears to be a new investigation into the site and its operators, and TorrentFreak claims to have seen evidence that one of the original founders, Fredrik Neij, remains a suspect. Neij is currently in prison serving a ten month sentence after being arrested by Thai immigrations in November.

Sources and Recommended Reading:
Pirate Bay-misstänkt satt på fri fot: (SWE)

AfterDawn: News

VIDEO: GTA Online Heists trailer released

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 14:03

VIDEO: GTA Online Heists trailer released Grand Theft Auto 5 Online Heists have been known to be in the works for some time now, and today we finally have gotten a trailer to look at.

In Early 2015, players will be able to take part in four player heists online. The update will provide over 20 hours of additional gameplay and 20 total missions. The missions will require players of rank 12 or higher, and one will have to be a leader, according to GTA Online producer Imran Sarwar, who gave an interview about the update to IGN.

The leader will be required to have an apartment with enough room for a planning board, and will have to do a lot of prep work such as assembling a team and determining a plan and so on.

Alternatively, you can take on another role in the heist.

Read the IGN interview here, and view the trailer below.


AfterDawn: News

Sony Pictures sued by ex-employees, citing failure to protect data

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 13:48

Sony Pictures sued by ex-employees, citing failure to protect data The nightmare continues for Sony Pictures as it now faces a lawsuit from former employees alleging that it failed to protect their data, which was exposed in November's massive breach.

Two former employees sued the studio in a class action after a hacking group called Guardians of Peace broke into its network and stole enormous amounts of data in late November. Ever since the breach, the hackers have leaked over a terabyte of information online, including personal details of employees and movies stars.

Even unreleased films showed up on BitTorrent sites and other sources after the massive data breach at the studio.

A lawsuit was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and it alleges that Sony failed to secure its network and protect employee data from hackers, making them liable to some extent.

It seeks compensation for any damages caused as a result of the exposure of sensitive information.

It's likely that Sony will face more legal complaints as a result of the breach, which could cost it over $100 million in the long run. This saga is likely to drag on for a while yet.

Sources and Recommended Reading:
Ex-Sony employees sue, claim company failed to protect data:

AfterDawn: News

HBO Go now on Amazon Fire TV, price drops to $79

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 13:39

HBO Go now on Amazon Fire TV, price drops to $79 HBO Go has finally arrived on Amazon's Fire TV set-top-box for subscribers of HBO.

It is available right now for Amazon's Fire TV with an HBO subscription through participating affiliates, with integration of its full catalog into Fire TV's voice search. For HBO subscribers with Fire TV Stick, HBO Go will be available for streaming in Spring 2015.

"We're thrilled to add HBO GO, the most requested service, to Fire TV in time for the holidays. HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking and award-winning TV shows and movies, and we are excited to bring this amazing content to our customers, all of which is accessible via voice search on your Fire TV remote," wrote Peter Larsen, Vice President Amazon Devices.

Larsen was eager to point out that the number of services available through Fire TV has quadrupled since it was launched. Over 700 apps and games are now available for the device, which typically sells for $99, but is reduced to $79 at the present time and will stay that way until December 28.


AfterDawn: News

Report: Samsung planning Apple Pay competitor

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 13:31

Report: Samsung planning Apple Pay competitor According to a report, Samsung may launch a competing payment service to Apple Pay during 2015.

Re/code cites sources familiar with Samsung's plan to allow owners of some smartphone devices to use them to pay for goods and services at brick and mortar stores, much in the same way as the Apple Pay service operates.

The sources tell Re/code that Samsung is in talks with LoopPay, a payments firm based in Burlington, Massachusetts, but that talks are at such an early stage and could still collapse before an agreement is possible.

Using a smartphone to pay for goods offline is not a new idea but it has been rejuvenated by Apple sticking its toes into the water with Apple Pay. Users of Apple Pay can use the fingerprint scanner on its iPhones to authenticate payments at point of sale.

Samsung's system would also likely rely on fingerprint authorization.

Read more at Re/code.

AfterDawn: News

Apple cleared in $1 billion antitrust case

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 13:23

Apple cleared in $1 billion antitrust case Apple can breathe a sigh of relief after a jury sided with it in a decade-old case relating to the copy protection system it had in place on older iPods and iTunes.

The Cupertino giant could have been on the hook for as much as $1 billion in damages if the eight person jury found it had violated antitrust laws by using enhanced security mechanisms on its iTunes software and iPod hardware. The case specifically focused on iPods sold between late 2006 and early 2009.

Apple stood accused of using its digital rights management (DRM) technology to effectively block out content purchased from competing music services. In fact, it had even been accused of deleting songs purchased from sources other than iTunes from its customers' iPods.

Apple disagreed and maintained that its security measures were a response to attempts to hack its DRM system, and that such a breach would put it in violation of contracts signed with major record companies to sell music on iTunes.

Today the case, which stems back to 2005, finally came to a decision when a jury decided Apple hadn't violated any antitrust laws.

AfterDawn: News

LG will bring Quantum Dot 4K TVs to CES next month

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Dec 2014 12:26

LG will bring Quantum Dot 4K TVs to CES next month LG Electronics has announced that it will showcase Quantum Dot Ultra HD 4K TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

The South Korean consumer electronics firm already provides Ultra HD 4K displays using conventional LCD technology and the more coveted organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, providing a stunning colorful display and complimenting 4K resolution very well.

However, while the cost of OLED displays is dropping, it is still a bit away from becoming affordable to most buyers and so LG wants to bring forth Quantum Dot to significantly improve its LCD.

The technology works by harnessing nano crystals that range in size from 2 to 10 nanometers, with each "dot" emitting a different color based on its size. A film of these quantum dots is combined with LG's current In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD displays to provide a wider color palette and improved color saturation.

"The color reproduction rate in LG's IPS panels, which offers high color accuracy and extra wide viewing angles, is increased with the addition of the quantum dot film by more than 30 percent compared with conventional LCD/LED TVs," claims LG.

Sony already uses Quantum Dot technology in several of its high-end TVs and Samsung are reportedly about to unveil their own QD products.

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