AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Man blackmails movie studios, plan backfires

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 25 Mar 2017 15:26

Man blackmails movie studios, plan backfires Piracy has definitely been in decline during the past decade but there are still some industries that are suffering a lot – at least by their metrics – from illegal downloads.

While Spotify and the likes have largely killed music piracy, there isn't a similar solution for the movie industry. And no, Netflix isn't the doing it yet, even if they might get there one day.

Now someone has decided to take piracy to a more sinister level. A man who had acquired a leaked version of an upcoming movie, The Boss Baby, blackmailed the studios behind the animation for 20 bitcoins or he'd release the copy.

While he did choose an untraceable method of payment his tracks weren't covered perfectly. In fact, the studios managed to backtrack the traces of the Serbian copy to distributor MEGAKOM and from there on to a translator's PC where the blackmailer got his copy. According to the translator, the 26 year old Momčilo Đinović got the copy without her knowledge.

Instead of doing what most movie pirates do, let it loose in the peer-to-peer networks, Đinović contacted DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox for some extra cash. Obviously that was a critical mistake as instead of the nearly 20 000 U.S dollar payout he got his hand caught in the cookie jar.


AfterDawn: News

Senate voted to allow selling your browser history to advertisers

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 25 Mar 2017 12:11

Senate voted to allow selling your browser history to advertisers The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to allow service providers to sell private web browsing data to third parties, namely advertisers. Under Democratic control the Senate voted to apply new Federal Communications Commission rules to internet service providers (ISPs) last October but the proposal to eliminate them has now passed the Senate 50-48.

Once the ruling is passed, after a Republican majority in the House votes for it, your ISP can sell your private web browsing data to third parties without seeking acceptance from either the consumer or the courts. Usually ISPs would sell the data to advertisers or ad networks for them to target you more efficiently.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called what seems to be an inevitable reversal of the FCC rules a "crushing loss for online privacy". If the House of Representatives pass the reversal it can be only be stopped by a President's veto. Will Trump be worried about privacy of the citizens in this case? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Ars Technica has released a new guide on explaining how this new ruling might affect you and in what ways you could fight it. This includes using HTTPS, VPN services or Tor.

AfterDawn: News

Apple's new Clips app helps create, well, clips

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Mar 2017 11:42

Apple's new Clips app helps create, well, clips Apple announced today a new iPhone 7 (PRODUCT)RED as well as a new iPad with old tech. If neither a charity version of last year iPhone or an iPad with rather uninspiring features don't excite you, then maybe the third product is up your alley.

The Cupertino giant introduced a new app called Clips. Like we've come to expect from Apple, there is no play-on-words here, it's exactly what you're thinking. It's an app that allows you to easily generate video clips.

The app aims to be as straightforward and easy to use so iPhone (maybe a red one) and iPad (maybe the new one) users can get their footage fast and effortlessly to the social media sphere. The one thing that makes it stand out from the crowd is the ability to edit the videos with voice only with a support to 36 different languages.

It is not meant for professional video production but instead has kind of the same approach as Snapchat. You can decorate your videos with special effects, pictures, and text. You can share the finished product on for example Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and Messages.

Clips will be available on the App Store in early April for free. You need and iPhone 5s, iPad mini 2, iPad Air or any other Apple device that is newer than those. It also requires iOS 10.3.

AfterDawn: News

Apple releases a new iPhone, (PRODUCT)RED for charity

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Mar 2017 11:02

Apple releases a new iPhone, (PRODUCT)RED for charity Apple has today announced new products in its Spring Event. The new, or refreshed, iPad might get most of the attention but another new product introduced today might be even closer to Apple's own heart.

Tim Cook and his company introduced today a new iPhone 7 model. The new red model is a continuation of Product Red – or (PRODUCT)RED – lineup by Apple which raises money to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Apple, like many other companies including Coca-Cola, Nike and Starbucks, have supported Product Red years in their efforts against the massive public health concern in 3rd world countries. Apple's first contribution to the campaign was 10 years ago with the iPod nano Product Red. Today's iPhone 7 Product Red follows suit with the same features as a normal iPhone 7 but with a vibrant matte red finish.

Red iPhone 7 is available in both the traditional form factor as well as the Plus model.

In another small iPhone update, Apple changed iPhone SE's storage capacity. The previous options (16 and 64 GB) were doubled to 32 and 128 GB.

AfterDawn: News

Apple revealed a new iPad with old tech

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Mar 2017 10:41

Apple revealed a new iPad with old tech Apple has today revealed new products in its annual Spring Event. The event usually pales in contrast to the main fall event which iPhone is used and even often garners less attention than the developer focused WWDC in June.

However, there's always some excitement when Apple releases new hardware. This time around Apple updated their iPad lineup but unfortunately it's not as exciting as one might think.

The new iPad is a refresh of the traditional 9.7 inch, lower-end, iPad. The new version even uses older tech, such as the A9 chip used in iPhone 6s. You know, the phone released in 2015.

The iPad Air has been removed from the lineup so excluding the smaller iPad mini 4 the "iPad" is now the only option in addition to iPad Pro. The new iPad has an 8 megapixel camera, 10 hours battery life, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, .

The prices start at $329 and preorders go live this Friday, March 24th. It will be available in both WiFi and WiFi+Cellular, latter of which starts at $459, 32 or 128 GB, and in Silver, Gold and Space Gray.


AfterDawn: News

Sony to end PlayStation 3 production after 10 years

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Mar 2017 12:19

Sony to end PlayStation 3 production after 10 years Still remember the first time you played Resistance: Fall of Man or Ridge Racer 7? I might well be that it was over 10 years ago on a brand new PlayStation 3. Now after over 80 million sold PS3 consoles Sony is allegedly seizing production.

Reports from Gematsu have it that Sony has decided to call it quits with PS3 after over 10 years of production. The production of the last model, a black 500GB PS3, will be ended "soon" according to Sony's Japanese website.

PlayStation 3 was released in November 2006 almost a year after its rival Xbox 360. Now after approximately a year after Microsoft stopped the Xbox 360 production, Sony is ready to move on too. According to Wikipedia, to this date they have both sold an almost identical 84 million units within their 10 year lifespan.

Sony is definitely ready to move on and reap the benefits of the new generation. PlayStation 4 has outsold Xbox One every step of the way and is looking to easily surpass PS3's numbers in few years. Sony has sold over 50 million PS4 units in just over three years.

PlayStation 4 might very well surpass the 100 million mark and the first PlayStation but it probably will never reach the heights of PlayStation 2 with over 150 million units sold.

AfterDawn: News

Switch is selling faster any Nintendo console before it

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Mar 2017 9:46

Switch is selling faster any Nintendo console before it Nintendo's new gaming console has been in the stores for just a few days but the buzz around it seems to have proved it a success. The console and the highly-anticipated Zelda game have been sold out in stores around the US – and it is not because of supply problems.

The head of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aimé has confirmed to the New York Times that Switch has indeed become the fastest Nintendo gaming console of all time. In the first two days has outsold the Wii which held the title after a booming start in the late 2006.

Fils-Aimé also said that the new Zelda title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has become the most successful standalone launch title in the company's history. This obviously excludes the likes of Wii Sports that were included with the console.

A good start is as important as anything but will it defeat the reigning king, Wii, in the long? Wii has amassed more than 100 million sold units in the ten odd years it's been on the market. And if it can top Wii will its portable pedigree propel it to the heights of Nintendo DS, past the 150 million mark?


AfterDawn: News

Upcoming Galaxy S8 revealed in new photos with Always On Display

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Feb 2017 11:48

Upcoming Galaxy S8 revealed in new photos with Always On Display Just over three weeks ago we had you the first reputable Galaxy S8 leak (picture above) which showed both front and back of the device. Unfortunately the picture didn't reveal much because of its quality but fortunately now PhoneArena has released a few better pictures.

Being the most anticipated device of Spring 2017 rumors have been going crazy lately. However, before today we haven't seen good quality pictures of the device close up and with the display on.

The new pictures show that the upcoming Galaxy S8 seems to come with an array of sensors on the top of the device and as expected the display takes up almost the whole front panel. This seems to mean that the physical home button has been removed and thus the fingerprint reader moved.

The pictures also show the Edge Apps that take use of the curved Edge display on the S8. Maybe even more interestingly two of the pictures show the Always On display feature which shows the clock (and some other information) even when the phone is not active.


AfterDawn: News

A surprise feature from the world's most popular messaging platform

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Feb 2017 10:28

A surprise feature from the world's most popular messaging platform WhatsApp has long ago surpassed SMS in popularity and its billion users is rivaled only by Facebook Messenger, both obviously owned by Facebook.

WhatsApp's road to success has really been very simple. The company made a simple, easy-to-use, phone number based messaging system that didn't have many faults. Over time they've implemented new features but they've never tried to reach too far.

One thing they have been pioneering is security. WhatsApp messages and now even videos and calls are all encrypted if the user so desires. The latest new feature was Groups, which allows users to create multiple group chats.

Now, however, WhatsApp has come up with a surprise feature. The new feature is actually a new iteration of the status that has pretty much always been a part of WhatsApp but not an integral part by any means.

Status takes now more of a center stage and its essentially a carbon copy of Snapchat's Stories feature. Thus the status now allows you to add pictures, videos, or even GIF animations. Pictures can be enhanced with emojis or hand-drawn accents. The status updates self-destruct after 24 hours.

While the update will come to all mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows) it will roll out gradually starting today.

AfterDawn: News

No taxation without representation unless you're a robot, suggests Bill Gates

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Feb 2017 13:06

No taxation without representation unless you're a robot, suggests Bill Gates Bill Gates is obviously known from creating one of the worlds largest technology companies and becoming the richest man on earth for it. Now the previously often even hated CEO of Microsoft has become a futurist and a philanthropist.

Saving lives by eradicating malaria might be the most important job of the Gates Foundation but Bill has been also vocal about the challenges that future, especially automation and AI, brings along. In an interview with Quartz, Bill Gates suggests that when robots start working instead of men and women, we should tax them the same way.

In his view robots will free us from the labor of producing some of the things and services we need so we can move more on to things that cannot – at least as easily – be replaced. Those are some of the more empathetic jobs such as caring and teaching professions.

Because robots won't probably have their own bank accounts and won't be given actual money the income tax would be replaced with a tax that would target the owner of the robot, which would be the company. In Gates' view this would slow down the adoption of automation as well as fund the population that is jobless because of it.


AfterDawn: News

Samsung's reputation in free fall after exploding phones

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Feb 2017 12:34

Samsung's reputation in free fall after exploding phones Samsung's catastrophic launch of one of last year's most anticipated smartphones had a clear impact on the company's overall reputation, suggests a new report. An annual poll conducted by The Harris Poll reveals that Samsung's reputation has plummeted in the United States, Engadget reports.

The poll that was conducted on little over 30 000 U.S. adults between November 28 and December 16 puts Samsung in the 49th spot among the top companies. While this might not seem like an awful result you have to bare in mind that Samsung has been in the top-10 the previous two years. It is not hard to see a connection with exploding Note7 smartphones in last September and October.

The Reputation Quotient ranking of around 75 points puts Samsung just ahead of USPS while competitors like Google and Apple are 8th and 5th respectively with 82-odd points. That in itself should be telling.

Obviously there are still companies that are rated way worse and companies that have recently had even bigger controversies. These include everyone's favorite telecommuncations company Comcast and Volkswagen, which is known for its air fresheners, both of which are at approximately 63 points and rank 90th and 91st respectively.


AfterDawn: News

Apple's original TV show Planet of the Apps gets a trailer

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 15 Feb 2017 12:42

Apple's original TV show Planet of the Apps gets a trailer Apple has positioned itself against some of the biggest TV and movie conglomerates by beginning the production of its own content. Following Netflix's and Amazon's lead, the Cupertino based giant has released a trailer of one of its first original TV shows.

The show is aptly called Planet of the Apps and is to applications what Shark Tank is to business ideas. Well, actually, it is a combination of Shark Tank in terms of pitching the idea of the app and The Voice in which the celebrity judges choose whether they want to help out the pitcher.

As the video shows, the pitch to the celebrity judges (Jessica Alba,, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gary Vaynerchuk) is just the first step. If they are accepted by one – or if many, they can choose their mentor – they must prepare for a pitch to four members of venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The best will get a featured spot on the App Store (obviously) and a lot of publicity. The show will be exclusive to Apple Music.

AfterDawn: News

Cortana reminds you even when you forgot to add the reminder

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Feb 2017 13:22

Cortana reminds you even when you forgot to add the reminder Microsoft has announced an update to its voice assistant Cortana with a single new feature. The so-called Commitment feature allows the Windows 10 assistant to remember things you forgot to add to your reminders.

How does this thing actually work? Well, it's as simple as your assistant going through your emails and remembering to add reminders for you. Cortana essentially reads your emails and determines whether there are any commitments that you make.

Once it finds one of these instances it saves a reminder with the subject, persons involved and possible deadline. The result is, as seen in the picture and video, a surprise reminder that will present you with the part of the email that triggered the feature as well as who the commitment was made to, ie. the recipient of the email.

Microsoft's Cortana assistant might not be the most popular of the voice assistants but it is definitely challenging the competition in terms of machine learning. Google's new Google Assistant is also heavily focused in machine learning and context specificity.


AfterDawn: News

Nintendo explains how to use their upcoming game console Switch

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Feb 2017 15:05

Nintendo explains how to use their upcoming game console Switch It's been months since Nintendo first unveiled its upcoming gaming console to the public but we still have to wait over three weeks to get our hands on one. However, Nintendo – as well as unofficial rumors – have given us some new information about the device and its features in the past couple of months.

However, there's still some things that aren't as clear as we would hope them to be. How do the controllers work? Can you use it separately? How about multiplayer gaming? Well, many of the questions have been answered in a new video Nintendo published on YouTube today.

Due in early March, Switch consists of a handheld console, a dock for your TV as well as two JoyCon controllers that can be used in different ways. In the video Nintendo goes through the different methods of playing, which include, the Handheld Mode with JoyCons attached to the tablet, the TV Mode with the controllers attached to the JoyCon Grip, and using JoyCon controllers separately in the Tabletop Mode.


AfterDawn: News

Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden's footsteps?

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 07 Feb 2017 12:59

Former NSA contractor followed in Snowden's footsteps? When it comes to leaking government secret there are few names that have more weight than Edward Snowden. A man who's been featured in an Oscar-winning documentary may have inspired a new leaker.

According to Washington Post, prosecutors are currently seeking for indictment as soon as this week for a former National Security Agency contractor that allegedly leaked secret government information.

Harold T. Martin III has been accused of stealing over 50 terabytes of information from the agency and will likely be charged with violating the Espionage Act. The 52-year-old was arrested in August last year and has been detained since. In October, Martin requested to be released pending a trial but was refused by a U.S. District Judge.

Martin was a former contractor for the NSA and was part of the agency's elite hacker unit, Tailored Access Operations. Some of the leaked data has been said to reveal secret techniques and tools used by the TAO. Estimates have it that this is the largest theft of government data in U.S. history and could include as much as 75 percent of TAO hacking tool data.


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