AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Matti Vähäkainu

AfterDawn: News

Bitcoin split in two, say hi to the new Bitcoin Cash

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 02 Aug 2017 10:38

Bitcoin split in two, say hi to the new Bitcoin Cash We are seeing some major changes in the world of cryptocurrency as the most popular currency amongst them was divided into two entities. The split has been in the works for a while but it is still considered highly controversial action.

Current Bitcoin will remain as it is and the new cryptocurrency Bitcoin Cash will be created alongside. They use the same transaction history but currently Cash is much less supported.

Behind the split, or "hard fork" as it's called, is the fact that Bitcoin has become very popular and many believe that it has become too overcrowded and may not function much longer given the increases in transaction frequency.

Bitcoin Cash has been designed to tackle the problems with high transaction fees as well as bitcoin size limit that doesn't allow mining larger blocks and thus slowes down the transaction process.

The Bitcoin transaction process is rather limited as the maximum amount of block data per 10 minutes is one megabyte. That means that only seven transactions can be completed every second, which obviously is not enough as the platform gets more and more popular.

Bitcoin Cash on the other hand is said to have up to eight times faster transaction speeds.


AfterDawn: News

Hackers hit HBO, leaked information about Game of Thrones (no spoilers)

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Aug 2017 11:01

Hackers hit HBO, leaked information about Game of Thrones (no spoilers) Home Box Office, more familiarly known as HBO, a cable TV network owned by Time Warner Cable was hacked earlier this week. The hackers apparently got their hands on 1.5 terabytes of data which included, as one might imagine, information about future shows.

According to EW hackers have already leaked some of the acquired material to the internet. Included in the published things are "upcoming episodes of a couple series and at least one alleged script or treatment," says EW.

The leaked episodes are from TV shows Ballers and Room 104. However, there's also been leaks from HBO's most valued franchise Game of Thrones. While there hasn't been entire episodes leaked, at least yet, the hackers have revealed some details about an upcoming fourth episode of Game of Thrones' currently running season seven.

The leakers have said that more releases will be coming later on.

HBO has not commented on what kind of material might have been stolen but acknowledges that hacking took place and has started an investigation into the affair.

In April, the streaming giant Netflix was hacked, and the hackers leaked since released episodes from the fifth season of Orange is the New Black. The largest hack perhaps ever in entertainment and especially in Hollywood history happened in late 2014 when hackers hit Sony bringing down their computer systems and stealing data.


AfterDawn: News

Spotify increases the lead on Apple Music, to challenge Apple in podcasts

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 01 Aug 2017 10:30

Spotify increases the lead on Apple Music, to challenge Apple in podcasts Spotify has been steadily gaining ground for years but many expected that Apple's unveiling of the new Apple Music two years back would change the dynamic radically. Nevertheless Spotify has been gaining momentum even with the world's largest tech company on its heels.

The Swedish streaming company might not be very profitable but it is definitely the biggest. Spotify boasts now over 60 million paying customers while the closest competitor, now Apple Music, is at mere 27 million.

In addition to paying customers Spotify has over 80 million free tier users that it tries to, and obviously succeeds to en extent, turn into monthly Premium subscribers meanwhile collecting ad revenue, albeit at less than adequate rate.

Even though there's a lot to be done to eliminate the free tier altogether, if it's in the plans or even a possibility, Spotify has managed to decrease the free-to-paying ratio. A year ago twice as many Spotify's users were using free tier compared to Premium, with less that 30 percent of users paying for a subscription. Ratio has decreased from more than 2:1 to 1.33:1.

One can estimate that soon the number of paying subscribers will be overtaking that of free tier users. In fact, if the same rate continues it'll happen around this time next year, and some would consider that a pessimistic evaluation, especially in the wake of news about expansion to new type of content.


AfterDawn: News

Google will merge two subscription services, YouTube RED and Google Play Music

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 31 Jul 2017 13:06

Google will merge two subscription services, YouTube RED and Google Play Music Google has a huge lead in smartphone numbers around the world. 85 percent of new smartphones come installed with Google's platform but it hasn't managed to close the earnings gap with Apple. One thing it has been struggling with is its music services.

Even though Spotify reigns supreme, Apple at least somewhat challenges it with their own Apple Music. Google has been very quiet about its success with Google Play Music, and another subscription service, YouTube RED, seems to a degree have the same audience and the same problems.

Now Google is trying to simplify their approach to customers seeking for a music subscription. While there's no word on what happens to YouTube Music, the two services mentioned earlier are going to be fused into one, The Verge reports.

Currently it's unclear what this means in the end, whether they stick with one name or another, or will these two even create an entirely new service with perhaps new perks. Even as we speak subscribing to one gets you both but many are probably not even aware of this. Also, finding the same music in different places is hardly an optimal solution.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft challenges Nest with a Windows Smart Thermostat

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 21 Jul 2017 12:30

Microsoft challenges Nest with a Windows Smart Thermostat Smartphones are still perhaps the number one technology people focus on but it seems pretty clear that it might not be as exciting as it once was. Perhaps we're wrong but there seems to be some stagnation, or maturity, in the field.

This gives more room for technologies that have much more to gain in terms of functionality in shorter time span. One of the things that has been talked for years but hasn't quite managed to get the ball rolling in the past years is Internet of Things.

IoT, or more specifically Smart Home applications are getting there, though. Introduction of Alexa and supported Smart Home devices, Google Home, and even Apple's HomePod are making the technology more accessible and way more interesting.

One player that might be a big one in the future is Microsoft. The company's Windows 10 IoT Core operating system could be the future of Smart Home applications and devices. To demonstrate this Microsoft has released a new video showcasing Johnson Controls smart thermostat called GLAS.

The thermostat has a see-though touchscreen display, it monitors the air quality and temperature, and adjusts automatically or from user input. As it runs of Windows 10 IoT Core, it also supports voice assistant Cortana.


AfterDawn: News

Facebook releases a new feature to further encourage group discussion

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Jul 2017 15:05

Facebook releases a new feature to further encourage group discussion Facebook has launched a new community feature to let people, brands, and communities to keep in touch with their fans more easily. The feature is called Groups for Pages.

To simplify this a little bit, first of all Groups and Pages and separate things. Pages are meant for the messaging from communities and companies. Pages can only be used by an established community and is more strictly controlled. Groups on the other hand can be used in a more general sense to communicate within a group of people that are less loosely connected, eg. group of friends.

Thus Groups for Pages are meant for free ranging discussion within a more tightly-knit community. The point of the feature seems to be to attract people perhaps from more traditional web forums. So for example artists, sports clubs, or even news services can host their own Groups within their Pages.

The feature launched yesterday gives all the 70 million Pages on Facebook the possibility to create discussion in Groups. Facebook has been looking for a way to get more people create "meaningful communities" and harbor discussion.

New feature lets communities also create more specific forums that might attract like-minded people. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg points to examples such as Page and the Affected By Addiction Support Group within that lets addicts connect with each other.

AfterDawn: News

Apple trying to attract researchers with a journal for AI

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Jul 2017 13:20

Apple trying to attract researchers with a journal for AI Apple has been known to be a very secretive, perhaps the most secretive in the tech industry. Nothing seems to be revealed about their research, comments about future products are very limited, and you'll pretty much have to wait until the product release to learn about them and their development.

This is good for keeping the products under wraps and creating an anticipation not many can create. However, this also means that it is hard to recruit new talent when you can't reveal what type of research you are doing. Not only don't the top researchers know what type of research is possible within Apple but they also would like to make their own work public, and let the scientific or research community take part.

Apple wants to attract specifically AI researchers, so it is only natural that it has now launched its own Apple Machine Learning Journal site. The new journal, blog, website, is a collection of finds and even breakthroughs in the field of machine learning, which is a part of a larger pie of artificial intelligence.

Currently the journal only consists of one release, called Improving the Realism of Synthetic Images. The research goes into creating realistic images from synthetic images by using neural networks.


AfterDawn: News

CEO behind new Nokia smartphones suddenly fired

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Jul 2017 10:45

CEO behind new Nokia smartphones suddenly fired HMD Global, a small Finnish company, became somewhat of a focal point of smartphone news in May last year as it bought the rights for famed Nokia brand. The company also made deals with the Nokia corp, that is still rocking the network business, for some mobile technology licenses.

In December it released HMD released its first Nokia phone, the Nokia 150 dumb phone. In early 2017 it expanded to smartphones with Android phones Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. In February it even recreated the legendary Nokia 3310.

Everything seemed to be going fine but behind the scenes something had happened. Yesterday, suddenly, the company posted a press release that informed the CEO of the company, Arto Nummela, has left the company.

According to the statement the both parties agreed upon the decision but it is clear that there were some disagreements or failures that aren't being discussed. Especially since Nummela leaves the company immediately, and was replaced as the acting CEO yesterday by company President Florian Seiche.


AfterDawn: News

Bluetooth upgrade is going to improve smart home devices

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 19 Jul 2017 14:20

Bluetooth upgrade is going to improve smart home devices The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), a consortium developing the wireless data transfer standard Bluetooth, has released the final specifications allowing mesh data transfers in Bluetooth 4.0 and 5.0 devices.

With Bluetooth Mesh devices can communicate and transfer data from one to another without any controlling middleman devices. For example, if you have a smart home camera and thermometer both supporting Bluetooth, but the latter doesn't have the range to broadcast to your smartphone, the thermometer can transfer the data to your phone via the camera.

This allows Bluetooth enabled devices to create a mesh network where data is not only transferred via two devices but can make its way via many network devices before reaching its destination.

Many of these smart home, Internet of Things (IoT) devices use very low power, even Bluetooth LE, which limits their capability to transfer data.

Perhaps the best part of the technology is that it doesn't require any new hardware if your Bluetooth devices are 4.0 or 5.0 supported. Mesh networking is supported by current Bluetooth standards so all it requires is a firmware upgrade.

Obviously firmware upgrades depend largely on the manufacturers so you can't expect all the devices, especially the older ones, to get upgrades. However, one can expect many of the new devices to include this new feature.


AfterDawn: News

Android 85%, iPhone 15%, others 0%

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 19 Jul 2017 11:50

Android 85%, iPhone 15%, others 0% Market research company IDC has posted new figures for mobile platforms and smartphone vendors. Figures representing the first quarter of 2017 reveal a story of a nearly perfect duopoly.

There are of course dozens of smartphone manufacturers, albeit five most populous vendors take up almost 60 percent of the total market, but when it comes to smartphone platforms it's a different type of ball game.

Android is, of course, dominating the platform wars in pure device numbers. 85 percent of new smartphones came with Android, while iOS (read: iPhone) came second with 14.7 percentage points. Windows Phone was third with 0.1 percent and Others, including Samsung's Tizen, managed to get another 0.1 percent.

Essentially the numbers could be simplified to the closest percentage point: Android 85%, iOS 15%, Others 0%.

Obviously this is hardly anything new. Windows has been in decline for quite some time, and so have others. Android, however, managed to gain point and a half while iPhone lost 0.7 percentage points from year ago. At that point Windows still had 0.8% and other 0.4% shares.

IDC expect Apple to rise again in Q4 and especially early next year when the new iPhone models are reaching customers.


AfterDawn: News

Leaker reveals what will be the first high-end Nokia Android smartphone

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2017 15:15

Leaker reveals what will be the first high-end Nokia Android smartphone Many of us remember when Microsoft bought Nokia's smartphone business in 2013 for $7.2 billion, only to kill the Lumia business later on. The company, Nokia, however remained and is developing networking solutions among other things.

And then there's the Nokia brand in smartphones. It was acquired by Microsoft as a part of the smartphone business but resold after Microsoft had killed the Lumia lineup to a Finnish company called HMD Global last October. At the same time the licensing agreement of certain mobile technologies was also signed between Nokia and HMD Global.

After that HMD Global has released three low-to-mid-tier Android phones with Nokia brand alongside with a variety of so called dumb phones. They've, however, gone mostly unnoticed in the press, with the exception of the new Nokia 3310 perhaps.

Now that we're up to speed, there are some more exciting Android smartphone news from Nokia.

A famed smartphone leaker, Evan Blass aka @evleaks, has revealed what looks like a press photo of an upcoming Nokia phone. This time around it's not a dumb phone, or even a mid-tier smartphone. This time around it seems to be high-end flagship phone with dual cameras.


AfterDawn: News

Atari reveals its Ataribox game console in pictures

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2017 14:20

Atari reveals its Ataribox game console in pictures A month ago, after the E3 game conference, we heard rumors and saw a teaser of a new Atari product. The computer brand from the 70s was said to be developing a new game console.

Soon after Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed the rumors but didn't have many details to reveal about the product. In the teaser we saw a sneak peek into some of the aesthetics but now we've got the entire thing to show you.

As you can see the device indeed has a retro look with a dark wood paneling covering the front. And as expected the design is based on the legendary Atari 2600 but is definitely not a replica.

If the nostalgic wooden panel isn't your thing, you can get the console with glass front panel with black/red coloring.

The device, called Ataribox, is essentially like Nintendo's last year's NES Classic that runs the classic games, but Atari says that you would also be able to get some "current content". However, don't expect next-gen graphics from even the new content.


AfterDawn: News

Amazon wants to challenge Facebook's messaging empire

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jul 2017 12:05

Amazon wants to challenge Facebook's messaging empire Two two most populous instant messaging platforms are WhatsApp and Facebook's Messenger. Well, one should say Facebook's WhatsApp and Facebook's Messenger.

Both of these platforms have over a billion users, with quite a bit of overlapping of course, so it is safe to say that Facebook is the king of the hill when it comes to personal online messaging.

There are a lot of options, though, that offer different kind of experiences. There's Snapchat, Signal, Telegram, Skype, WeChat, Viber, and then there's Amazon who apparently wants to enter this super saturated market.

AFTVnews reports that the online shopping giant is testing user reactions to a new service in its latest survey. The questionnaire asks what type of features the users like in a messaging solution.

According to some leaked pictures the service, dubbed as Anytime by Amazon, is said to feature "everything you've always wanted in a messaging app," including private and secure messaging, group messaging with @mentions, multiplatform support, GIF-animations, and high-quality voice and video calls.

It is unclear, however, how far into development, if at all, Amazon are. It might as well be that Amazon is just probing the landscape and trying to figure out if there's room for one more WhatsApp.

AfterDawn: News

AMD reveals new Threadripper CPUs to challenge Intel's i9

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Jul 2017 11:19

AMD reveals new Threadripper CPUs to challenge Intel's i9 AMD's Ryzen brand processors have managed to challenge some of the Intel's Core CPUs fairly well already but there's one product family that AMD is unable to beat or even compete with. To right this wrong AMD has unveiled new Threadripper CPUs that will be released as soon as next month.

AMD has revealed more about upcoming Ryzen CPUs on a press release on their website. According to it the CPUs first unveiled at Computex earlier this year will be named Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X

These processors are designed exclusively to challenge Intel's top tier Core units, and as you might guess from their name there are threads – and cores – aplenty. The top of the line Threadripper 1950X is a 16-core beast with 32 threads and a clock speed of 3.4Ghz (Turbo 4.0 Ghz). Obviously theses type of specs come with a hefty price tag.

1950X has a suggested retail price of $999 which is around the same as a Core i9 7900X. However AMD also has in store another Threadripper, the 12-core and 24 thread 1920X, which is "only" $799.

Both of the new CPUs are said to beat the aforementioned i9 7900X. Both of them will be available from early August onwards. AMD also revealed that it will be releasing new Ryzen 3 CPUs for affordable setups later this month.

AfterDawn: News

Ahoy, Commodore 64 fans! The savior of your beloved C64 is coming

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Jul 2017 10:38

Ahoy, Commodore 64 fans! The savior of your beloved C64 is coming Released in August of 1982, the Commodore 64 became perhaps the first true home computer. After a decade or so it had become the best selling computer of all time and holds that crown still with more than 17 million units.

Now, the technology has slightly advanced since the eighties, but there are a lot of fans of the no nonsense aspect of this legendary machine, not forgetting the legendary games and SID music. One of them is Gideon Zweitzer who has developed C64 a new motherboard.

With this chipset you will be able to return your broken Commodore 64 to its original glory. Named Ultimate 64 the motherboard is said to be highly compatible with most of the accessories and fits perfectly replacing the original motherboard.

Obviously this isn't an official CBM product so there's no guarantee that it'll work with all the different iterations of various addons but if there are problems it should be fixable with a software patch.

Ultimate 64 has been prototyped a few times but before entering larger scale production it is still going through final tests. You can expect the product hit the market before the end of the year, which could make it a perfect gift for your nerdy loved one.


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