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Google Play Music offers more quality control

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Mar 2017 13:22

Google Play Music offers more quality control Google Play Music now lets users select what quality level they would like to hear from the service while using WiFi.

Previously, quality adjustments were only offered when using mobile data. From now however, users can now select between low, normal, high and always high while on Wi-Fi connections and for downloaded tracks, though Google does not specify what bitrate each setting corresponds with.

With Spotify, quality can range from 96kbps at the low end, to 320kbps at the high end, though Spotify seems to be preparing the launch of Spotify Hi-Fi which will offer users lossless quality audio for an extra monthly fee.

Tidal already provides subscribers with lossless CD-quality audio.

Quality settings allow users to control their data usage and avoid going over ISP restrictions and incurring extra fees as a result.

Get Google Play Music for Andorid from Google Play.

Get Google Play Music for iOS from iTunes.

AfterDawn: News

Spotify may delay new albums for free users

Written by James Delahunty @ 16 Mar 2017 13:14

Spotify may delay new albums for free users Music streaming service Spotify may delay the availability of certain new albums to its millions of users who listen for free.

Spotify is currently in contract renewal negotiations with three major record firms - Universal, Sony and Warner - and the Financial Times reports that Spotify has had to put forth delayed album availability for free users as a compromise position.

While most of its users listen for free, Spotify has still enjoyed tremendous growth in recent years, just recently passing 50 million paying premium subscribers globally. Naturally, the revenue that trickles through to record labels and rights holders from paying users is much higher than those who use Spotify's free, limited and ad-supported service.

Securing licensing contracts with major labels is obviously crucial for Spotify to remain on top of the music streaming business, but it is still fighting a battle to reach profitability, and has already pushed back plans for an IPO to 2018.

Still, Spotify has continued to grow its paying user base rapidly even after Apple threw its hat in the streaming business, and has fended off other services including Google Play Music and Tidal.


AfterDawn: News

Chrome 57 to throttle background tabs further to save energy

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Mar 2017 12:33

Chrome 57 to throttle background tabs further to save energy Chrome 57 will place further limits on CPU usage of background tabs in the browser to save energy and prolong battery life.

Chrome 57 will delay timers to limit average CPU load to 1% of a core if an application uses too much CPU in background. Tabs playing audio or maintaining real-time connections like WebSockets or WebRTC won't be affected.

Google claims that his throttling mechanism leads to 25% fewer busy background tabs. Hopefully this will have a noticeable effect on background battery life for laptop / chromebook users in particular.

The long term goal is to suspend background tabs entirely rely on new APIs for service workers to do work in the background.

Any step toward making the web browser more efficient will be welcomed by users, as browsers can be a drain on hardware resources and of course, the battery life.

AfterDawn: News

Some PS4 titles will soon be available on PC

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Mar 2017 12:23

Some PS4 titles will soon be available on PC PlayStation 4 titles will soon be available to play on PC through Sony's PlayStation Now service.

PlayStation Now currently lets users stream over 400 PS3 titles to the PlayStation 4 console, or to a Windows PC, and soon Sony will finally add PS4 titles to the service.

All of the games in the service, including PS4 games, will be included with a single PS Now subscription.

Sony didn't provide details on which titles will be initially available and when the PS4 expansion is available to all subscribers, but it will be sending out invites to some current PS Now subscribers to join a private test with PS4 games.

As with the PS3 games currently available, PS4 titles will also use cloud save so you can switch between the PS4 and PC platforms and keep your progress.

Game streaming options are likely to become more popular in the coming years. Microsoft recently announced Xbox Game Pass, which would let users stream 100 Xbox One games with a flat fee every month.

AfterDawn: News

PSA: Windows Vista support ends in April

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Mar 2017 14:04

PSA: Windows Vista support ends in April After a decade of support Microsoft is preparing to abandon Windows Vista, meaning no new updates will be available after April 10, 2017.

Lucky for Microsoft, the installed based of Windows Vista is far smaller than that of Windows XP when it reached the end of its cycle. Approximately 1% of Desktop users are still using Windows Vista, considered to be one of Microsoft's least desirable consumer Desktop operating systems.

"Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences," reads a Microsoft page about the end of Vista support.

Ideally, Microsoft would hope that users will update their computer to Windows 10, though it has reminded users that some hardware changes may be necessary for the upgrade.

Moving to Windows Vista's successor, Windows 7, will buy another few years of the support, with the comparably more successful OS due to reach the end of support in January 2020.

via: Softpedia

AfterDawn: News

Microsoft will let users test apps before installing

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Mar 2017 13:54

Microsoft will let users test apps before installing Microsoft's Playable Ads will let Windows 10 users try out an app before downloading it and installing it onto their devices.

The user can click / tap a promo ad and a full version of the app will stream to their device for three minutes, letting them test it out fully without downloading and installing it. It is convenient for the end user as you don't have to install something before testing it, and useful for the developer because it will reduce the number of disinterested users who will leave an app unused or just uninstall it shortly after downloading it.

Since the new Playable Ads are inline expandable ads, the user will not leave the current app context after ad click. Users can abandon the app stream at any point of time.

Developers don't really have to do anything to participate, as Microsoft does all the background work. No need for new packages or anything.

The feature is currently being tested as part of a limited preview.

AfterDawn: News

PS4 update brings boost mode, external storage support and more

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Mar 2017 19:28

PS4 update brings boost mode, external storage support and more Sony is releasing the PS4 4.50 update which will bring some nice new features to PS4 consoles.

It was no secret that Sony was bringing support for USB 3.0 external hard disk drives to the console (min capacity of 256GB, max capacity of 8TB). With the update, users can set their external drive as storage for games and apps and can easily transfer data from the internal hard drive to the external drive.

The update also brings Boost Mode to the PS4 Pro which can improve the performance of legacy titles that have not been have not been patched to take advantage of the PS4 Pro's faster CPU and its faster and double-sized GPU. This can provide a noticeable frame rate boost to some games with variable frame rates, and can provide frame rate stability for games that are programmed to run at 30 Hz or 60 Hz.

Boost Mode can also result in shorter load times, but it is not guaranteed to work on all games. You can enable it in Settings, under System.

Other improvements include GIF support, custom wallpaper, voice chat for Remote Play, improvements to resolution under PS VR and more.

Below is a video detailing the update.


AfterDawn: News

Premier League to target football streaming servers that feed 'Kodi boxes'

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Mar 2017 18:29

Premier League to target football streaming servers that feed 'Kodi boxes' The Premier League has secured a court order which will allow it to have access to servers streaming football matches blocked in the UK.

The main target is IPTV sources for football match streams that can be viewed through software like Kodi. Streaming live football is nothing new, but has increased in popularity in recent years with the rise of the so called "Kodi box".

A Kodi box is typically an Android-based set top box that has the Kodi media center software installed.

Kodi itself has nothing to do with piracy and its development team strongly objects to the use of its brand when such devices are marketed as providing access to pirate streams. Many of these so called "fully loaded" boxes don't just include Kodi and add-ons, but come with other Android apps like Mobdro which provide access to a lot of live TV channels, including premium sports channels.

Since the software supports third-party add-ons it has become popular for piracy add ons that provide access to streams of all kinds of material, including live television content.

Some add-ons focus on Sports, maybe even exclusively on football, and the Premier League intends to try to block servers that stream football matches. On the individual side, it is not clear if streaming infringing content in the UK is illegal at all, whereas downloading pirated content certainly is an offence. That uncertainly is not likely to last long with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) describing streaming as a "piracy epidemic".

AfterDawn: News

WebAssembly: Firefox is first major browser to support game changer

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 20:25

WebAssembly: Firefox is first major browser to support game changer In time, WebAssembly will deliver significant improvements for in-browser high performance apps, such as video games, CAD or complex interactive visualizations.

WebAssembly allows web apps to achieve near-native performance in the browser without the need to install any additional third party extensions or plugins. Modern web apps are a long way away from the simple Javascript code of a more primitive web; they are large, complex applications.

If programmed to run natively under the host operating system, they would certainly run much better than running in the browser. WebAssembly is the answer put forward for this problem.

Unlike Javascript, all the code a programmer writes is parsed and compiled ahead of time before reaching the browser. The browser then just sees low-level, machine-ready instructions it can quickly validate, optimize, and run.

Programs written in languages like C/C++ can be ported to the web so they run with near-native performance with WebAssembly, using accompanying tools.


AfterDawn: News

Torrent site proxy case dismissed by court

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 19:15

Torrent site proxy case dismissed by court A case against a man who was accused of multiple offences for aiding users to bypass government / ISP blockades and censorship has been thrown out.

It stems back to the arrest of a 20 year old man in the UK in 2014 by the City of London Police. The man had been linked to Immunicity, a censorship circumvention tool that routed traffic to blocked websites and services through uncensored proxies, and thus side-stepping ISP-level blocks.

Almost two years later, the young man was charged with one count of converting and/or transferring criminal property and six counts of possession of an article for use in fraud.

The man was also reportedly linked to, which at one point operated as a torrent proxy service.

After three dismissal hearings, the case has finally been dismissed by the Nottingham Crown Court and will not be appealed by PIPCU.

The dismissal is related to conflicting evidence that the prosecution presented in court, documented very well by TorrentFreak, an invaluable source for news of this type. They also got comments from the young man at the center of the case.

Read it at:

AfterDawn: News

Nintendo wins case against modchip / flashcard seller

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 18:19

Nintendo wins case against modchip / flashcard seller Nintendo of America has won a key case against the distributor of modchips and circumvention tools for the Nintendo 3DS handheld console.

A federal court in Canada ruled in favor of Nintendo of America in a case against Go Cyber Shopping Ltd. involving the sale of flash carts that can enable the circumvention of anti-piracy measure and boot counterfeit games. Nintendo even went as far as to accuse the GCS founder of boasting about his activities on social media.

CGS maintained that such flash carts and other devices can be used to boot homebrew code, which could be games or apps that are written by enthusiasts. Those apps couldn't otherwise run on the device unmodified, but there is also a legal route to develop games for the 3DS.

The court awarded Nintendo $12.76 million (CAD) against Go Cyber Shopping Ltd., including $1 million in punitive damages. This is the first case of its kind to test anti-circumvention provisions in Canadian law.

"Nintendo continues to be a leader in bringing innovative gaming platforms and software to our fans and millions of gamers across the globe," said Devon Pritchard, Nintendo of America's General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs.


AfterDawn: News

Fully loaded 'Kodi box' seller ordered to pay 250,000 in UK

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 13:32

Fully loaded 'Kodi box' seller ordered to pay 250,000 in UK A man who admitted selling set-top boxes to pubs and clubs in the UK complete with IPTV software to watch subscription TV has been ordered to pay 250,000.

The 65 year old man from Hartlepool admitted selling the devices to the businesses to enable them to display subscription TV content for free through IPTV. Often described as "Kodi boxes", such devices have nothing at all to do with the development of Kodi, a legitimate media center solution that runs on multiple platforms.

It is the ability of Kodi to install and use third party add-ons that enable piracy, but these add-ons also have nothing to do with the Kodi development project.

Typically, devices that are sold as "fully loaded" are Android-based devices that come with Kodi and a bunch of third party add-ons, or piracy-enabling Android apps, pre-installed. They promise access to thousands of movies, tv shows and live television content.

In this case, the boxes were advertised as "100% legal". Technically, an Android box is as legal as a new Windows laptop, but if they are sold with piracy-enabling add-ons then the seller may be in breach of the law, depending on location.


AfterDawn: News

WATCH: Blue Origin's New Glenn launch & landing animation

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 13:19

WATCH: Blue Origin's New Glenn launch & landing animation Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket launch provider has released an animation showing how its two-stage New Glenn rocket will launch, land and deploy a payload.

The animation comes after Bezos showed off the first BE-4 rocket engine to be fabricated and also announced that the launch provider had secured its first New Glenn customer, French media and communications firm Eutelsat.

The animation shows the two stage version of the New Glenn vehicle (there is also a three stage vehicle on the board) that will fly sometime around 2020, and will be capable of delivering roughly ~45 tons to low-earth orbit, or ~13 tons to geostationary orbit.

BE-4 Engine

The animation shows what the landing of the booster stage of the rocket will look like at sea, with Bezos saying earlier that it is designed for up to 100 reuses. Visually, the landing is very similar to what we have seen SpaceX pull off with the Falcon 9 rocket, though the New Glenn will be a vastly more powerful rocket.


AfterDawn: News

Google's personal data retention scrutinized in Denmark

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 12:39

Google's personal data retention scrutinized in Denmark The Danish Data Protection Agency has received a complaint about the retention of user's personal data.

A consumer watchdog in the country sent the complaint to the data regulator for possible violation of privacy rules in the country. At issue is the amount of time that Google retains personal data on users, such as searches or location data.

"The consumer council Taenk would like the Data Protection Agency to assess whether Google's indefinite data collection complies with consumer's basic right to privacy," the watchdog stated, reports the Reuters News Agency.

"We have become aware of the fact that Google today has 9-10 years of data on users with a Google account."

Google has run into similar problems in other European countries, including agreeing to specify a time frame for data to be deleted and to explain how data on users is utilized by the firm, after an Italian regulator scrutinized its practices.

AfterDawn: News

Nintendo Switch dead pixels annoy buyers

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Mar 2017 12:30

Nintendo Switch dead pixels annoy buyers Some gamers with a new Nintendo Switch are complaining about annoying dead or stuck pixels on the device's LCD screen.

Nintendo has responded that the dead or stuck pixels are a characteristic of LCD screens and shouldn't be considered a product defect. Yet, users are complaining that on a portable gaming device, stuck/dead pixels are a considerable distraction.

Similar problems have arose with the launch of other portable consoles, including the Nintendo DS, which eventually prompted Nintendo to replace defective units.

CE products with LCD screens are often returned when found to have dead or stuck pixels, including phones and tablet PCs.

Nintendo customers who have dead or stuck pixels should try to return the device to the retailer and seek a replacement.

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