AfterDawn: Tech news

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AfterDawn: News

Right now: WhatsApp photo sending is down - for everybody

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 19 Jan 2020 6:44

Right now: WhatsApp photo sending is down - for everybody WhatsApp is currently experiencing a major outage. Sending normal text-based messages works fine, but sending photos or other types of media simply doesn't work - for anyone.

The problem started about an hour ago and according to various services that track uptime for services such as WhatsApp, the problem still persists.

So, if you can't currently send pictures through WhatsApp: it is not your phone's nor your operator's fault. It is the same situation for all WhatsApp users, globally.





AfterDawn: News

Facebook decides to not taint WhatsApp with ads, for now

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Jan 2020 12:33

Facebook decides to not taint WhatsApp with ads, for now World's most popular messaging platform, WhatsApp, has dodged a massive bullet. The owner of the messaging platform, Facebook, has been considering bringing ads to the massively successful messenger.

However, it seems like we won't have to worry about it anymore, at least for now. According to Wall Street Journal, Facebook has decided to back off plans to sell ads on WhatsApp.

Selling ads comes as a natural instinct for Facebook, who've paid nearly $20 billion for WhatsApp and haven't seen return in a way they'd like. Facebook has been already implementing some of its ads selling features behind closed doors, although they haven't found their way to public releases yet.

While we're not going to see advertisement on WhatsApp for now, WSJ says that Facebook has intentions to add them to the Status feature later on.

While one would think Facebook is going to respect privacy, a staple of the platform, of WhatsApp users as it brings in ads, there's a sense that it would certainly change how people view it. Secure and private platform and advertisement don't usually go well together.

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AfterDawn: News

PC sales is once again trending up, except for Apple

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Jan 2020 12:10

PC sales is once again trending up, except for Apple After companies like Microsoft started calling their strategy "mobile first, cloud first" roughly six years ago, one could've easily come to a conclusion that personal computing has moved on from desktops and laptops largely to mobile devices.

For years it seemed like it too. Prior to Microsoft's change in strategy three years had gone in a downward trend, and a few more would be gone before there was any hopes of resurgence.

Depending on the measuring tools and who you believe, the change might have happened as early as 2017 but now it seems undeniable that PC is on the upswing. Both Gartner and IDC, two of the most well known analytics companies, have reported increases in sales late last year and 2019 in total.

According to Gartner PC sales grown around 2.3 percent to 70.6 million units in the last quarter of 2019, IDC's figures give PC sales a 4.8 percent growth to 71.8 million units.

Year-to-year growth is still miniscule, as Gartners figures are only 0.6 percent above water (261.2 million units).

We're still far off from the golden years of PC, which seems to date to around 2010-2011 when there was more than 350 million PCs sold each year.

Not much has changed in terms of the players. Lenovo with 17.5 million units sold (Gartner) in Q4 is still leading the pack with HP (16.1 million units) coming in close second. Dell (12.1 million units) is third and Apple (5.3 million units) has managed to retain a fourth spot even though it was the only out of the top-4 to lose marketshare.

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AfterDawn: News

AfterDawn services relocated

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 14 Jan 2020 5:58

AfterDawn services relocated During the past 20 years AfterDawn has been hosted on a number of different platforms. From a shared Windows server to a cluster of HP servers running Linux on 100+ cores with half a terabyte of RAM.

Most of the time we've been running of leased, physical servers, that we have sized based on the requirements at the time, and foreseeable future. Having predictable costs with a predefined hardware platform has is pros, but also its cons. Leased servers often come with lengthy, often multi-years contracts, that don't scale well as the needs change over time. Not to mention the difficulty of handling operating system upgrades or hardware issues when running on a handful of servers.

Those times are now behind us, as AfterDawn found its new home with the world's fastest cloud provider, UpCloud. We have migrated from our legacy leased servers with spinning disks and rented switch to private cloud servers backed with blazingly fast MaxIOPS storage, and software-defined network (SDN).

The entire infrastructure is orchestrated with Terraform, and all services are deployed and managed by Ansible.

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AfterDawn: News

The new Galaxy flagship leaks: Here's Galaxy S20

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 13 Jan 2020 12:17

The new Galaxy flagship leaks: Here's Galaxy S20 Samsung announced their upcoming Unpacked press event a week or so ago, and there's still four weeks until the unveiling of their newest flagship phones.

However, thanks to leakers, we have a fairly convincing couple of pictures that reveal what the top-of-the-line Samsung will look in 2020.

Speaking of 2020, the phone isn't going to be called S11 as the Korean company is going to cut the consecutive naming scheme first time ever. The new phone is called Galaxy S20, according to the rumors and leaks.

Now to the pictures themselves. According to XDA-Developers, who've managed to get hold of a picture of the S20+ variant, there's going to be three models: Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra.

The middle model pictured, which seems to take place of the "regular" one, has a notchless and nearly bezel-free display with a hole-punch camera in the top middle of the phone.

Looks quite similar to the predecessor. In the back, however, the changes are abundant, specifically in the camera department. As suggested by previous rumors, the Galaxy S20+ will have a large camera hump with no less than four cameras.

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AfterDawn: News

Microsoft: Xbox Series X not to have Microsoft exclusives at launch

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 12 Jan 2020 8:48

Microsoft: Xbox Series X not to have Microsoft exclusives at launch This is the year of the new game console generation. Sony has already revealed the PlayStation 5 logo, and we all know Microsoft's Project Scarlett is going to officially go by the name of Xbox Series X.

Traditionally new console generations come with launch titles that show off the capabilities of the new devices the best they can. This might not be so much the case this time around, though.

Perhaps as the game consoles, at least with Sony and Microsoft, inch closer to a gaming PC, there are going to be less and less games that are only available for the specific console.

In fact, now Microsoft Studios' Matt Booty has suggested in an interview that Xbox Series X isn't going to have first-party exclusives.

All Microsoft's games will be released at the start for Xbox One as well, and considering their stake at PC gaming, most of the games will likely also be available on Windows 10. This of course doesn't ban anyone else to release an Xbox Series X exclusive, although Microsoft's strategy might discourage this.

Microsoft calls this strategy Xbox Play Anywhere, which means, as you might expect, that you should be able to play the games no matter what device you have at hand. Microsoft intends to make the compatibility of the games a high priority, and ensure that people can flow easily from the older console generation to the new one.

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AfterDawn: News

Replacement program for iPhone battery cases announced

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 11 Jan 2020 3:51

Replacement program for iPhone battery cases announced Apple has announced a new replacement program on their official support pages. This time around customers can get a replacement for a faulty battery case for the iPhone.

More specifically it's the Apple Smart Battery Case, and its variant for iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. According to the company, they've determined some of these products faulty.

Users may have experienced charging issues, in which case one can apply for a replacement. Apple details that the Battery Case might not charge at all or only charge intermittently while powered, or might not charge (or charge only intermittently) an iPhone.

However, there is no safety issue with the devices.

Affected units are said to be manufactured between January 2019 and October 2019.

If yours is among the affected, you can either find an Apple Authorized Service Provider or make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store to have your defective product replaced.




AfterDawn: News

Lenovo announces what they call the first ever foldable PC

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 10 Jan 2020 2:43

Lenovo announces what they call the first ever foldable PC It's been nearly a year since Lenovo first unveiled their first folding ThinkPad. Now at CES 2020, the company has finally released the product to the public.

The device is named ThinkPad X1 Fold and it comes with a 4:3 aspect ratio OLED display that measures at 13.3 inches and features a 2048 x 1536 resolution. As the product name suggests, this display folds in half making it a notebook design.

The display has stylus support in addition to regular touch screen. On the top edge or, if used in a notebook form factor, on the right you'll have a 5 MP webcam.

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AfterDawn: News

New Firefox can now hide notification requests

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 08 Jan 2020 11:35

New Firefox can now hide notification requests Firefox has updated their flagship browser with some safety, privacy, and UI improvements. One of the perhaps most requested changes, however, has to do with notification requests that have been bothering people.

Notifications, as you might know, are a good way to increase the frequency users use the app or website. It's essentially advertisement, although can be very useful when done in a non-intrusive manner.

Not every website can sent notifications, and that's where the notification requests come in. Websites request permission to send notifications via the browser, and this might be a burden for some users, especially if this is the first visit and there's other disclaimers to get rid of as it is.

Firefox is offering a new solution to these annoyances with the new feature that hides notification requests. Already you could've blocked all notification requests but the new addition allows you to hide them to the address bar to a small speech bubble in case you want to interact with it.

The bubble jiggles around to inform you that you've received a notification request, as seen below.

Firefox 72 also includes blocking of fingerprinting scripts, picture-in-picture video playback for Linux and Mac, and various security fixes.

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AfterDawn: News

Samsung's next Unpacked event confirmed, what to expect from Galaxy S11

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 05 Jan 2020 2:34

Samsung's next Unpacked event confirmed, what to expect from Galaxy S11 Samsung has sent their invitations to the press and partners for the upcoming Unpacked event. Samsung's Unpacked events are the vehicle with which the company unveils its newest mobile products.

This time around we're expecting the new flagship for the Galaxy S lineup of devices. Galaxy S11, or whatever else it might be called, is going to be revealed on Feb 11 in San Francisco where the S10 series was first introduced as well.

There's been a lot of rumors surrounding Samsung's next flagship smartphone, but at this point not much is confirmed. Even the name is under scrutiny according to some leaks. Samsung might go for S20 instead of S11 to commemorate year 2020, which would be the first time ever it decides not to follow their incremental scale that got them to S10.

One of the more impressive new features is said to be the 108 megapixel camera, which might be accompanied by as many as 5 other cameras. Samsung's 108 megapixel sensor has already been outed and even fitted into other devices, but its unclear how the Korean company decides to use it in their flagship.

Besides camera, it is almost certain that the phone will have the latest and greatest Snapdragon 865, making it one of the first on the market with that chip. In some markets you'll have Samsung's new Exynos chip instead, which shouldn't be too far from the Snapdragon in terms of performance.

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AfterDawn: News

Sling TV adds channels and ups the prices

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Dec 2019 12:00

Sling TV adds channels and ups the prices The popular internet TV provider Sling TV has announced some updates to its subscription plans.

Sling TV is known for its à la carte-like offering of TV channels in addition to couple base plans. Now they've increased the range of channels on their plans as well as added more cloud storage, which unfortunately means also that you'll be paying more.

Both Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans go up $5 to $35/mo, although the first month is still $20. Combining the two has gone up $5 as well to $45/mo.

Other price increases include: $5 increase in Sports Extra for Sling Orange and Sling Blue combination subscribers (now $15/mo) while its still $10/mo for single plan owners, 4 Extras now costs $12/mo, and Total TV Deal remains $20 for single plan subscribers but goes up to $25 for subscribers of both Sling Orange and Sling Blue.

Now that the finances are out of the way, let's see what you'll get for the extra investment. Sling Blue includes now Fox News, MSNBC, and HLN. Sling Blue News Extra adds Fox Business Network.

Sling Blue Hollywood Extra will include soon FXM and FXX, and Sling Blue Heartland Extra is coming to Nat Geo Wild in the future.

The increased cloud storage means that you will have 10 hours of DVR service, and an additional $5 a month will buy you 50 hours more with Cloud DVR Plus.

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AfterDawn: News

Messaging app ToTok is spying on its users

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 23 Dec 2019 11:00

Messaging app ToTok is spying on its users A fairly new and reasonably popular messaging app ToTok has been found to come with spyware. Reports from the likes of The New York Times say that the app has been now been removed from app stores.

Official in the US have found that the app is loaded with hidden software that keeps tabs on its users. It is possibly the work of the government of the United Arab Emirates and mostly designed to look after its citizens.

According to the officials the app is tracking conversations, physical location of the user and even recording audio used by the device.

The app had become a household name in countries, many in the Middle East, with limited access to the leading app like WhatsApp. However, the app had, and still has, users in other regions as well, including the North America.

Now app has been removed from both Apple's App Store as well as Google's Play Store. While neither major platforms no longer distribute the app, the users will still be able to use it and will have to remove it manually if so desired – we definitely would.




AfterDawn: News

Apple made Arcade even cheaper for 12-month subscriptions

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Dec 2019 1:02

Apple made Arcade even cheaper for 12-month subscriptions One of Apple's most ambitious announcements was the new game service Apple Arcade. Perhaps only eclipsed by Hollywood-star-studded Apple TV+, the new service is aiming to attract gamers with a subscription service.

Apple is pricing both of the new subscription services very aggressively, and perhaps hoping to compensate the lack of content with a low price. For casual gamers this might be exactly the deal they are looking for.

Now the Cupertino company has made the $4.99/mo service even more affordable. If you are willing to commit and shell out year's worth of iPhone gaming funds, you'll see a nice 17% discount.

12-month subscription to Apple Arcade costs now only $49.99 and will save you a total of $10 over the year compared to the combined monthly fees.

Apple Arcade offers over a 100 titles that you can play on all (read: most) of your Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV and Mac computers.




AfterDawn: News

New Chrome on Android released with a data-losing bug – Google stalls update

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Dec 2019 10:36

New Chrome on Android released with a data-losing bug – Google stalls update Google begun shipping the latest Chrome 79 update around a week ago for both mobile and desktop users. The new update included improvements over things like notification about data breaches you might be affected by.

However, not everything went according to plan. While the update was meant to help protect users from data loss, the update itself has been losing users data.

Although the data in this case hasn't been acquired by any third parties, and there might be still a way out of this mess, Google has decided to pull the update.

The problem seems to affect Chrome's Android users and their data collected by other apps using Chrome's WebView feature.

Many apps use Chrome's simple WebView component to show content on the web for the app users. In Chrome 79 the WebView feature changed significantly.

The update was meant to transcode the old data to the new format. However, this process was buggy and the transfer hasn't been functioning as intended.

The data isn't lost entirely, though, and it is possible, maybe even likely, that Google engineers figure out the correct way to convert the lost data to the new format in a way that the user can still access it.

For now the update has been paused until the fix is in place.

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AfterDawn: News

Two of the largest illicit streaming sites busted by the FBI

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 16 Dec 2019 10:17

Two of the largest illicit streaming sites busted by the FBI The rise of Netflix, and emergence of competition from all sides, is a clear indication that no physical method of content delivery or even a traditional cable company can change what is the future.

However, it was the illegal content sharing that really got this all started. Much like Napster preceded Spotify, ThePirateBay and others preceded Netflix.

While it's probably true that P2P sharing has gone down since the popularization of Netflix, there are still massive networks that share copyrighted material.

Some of the largest were just busted by the Feds. This included streaming site iStreamItAll, which had more than 118 000 episodes of TV shows and over 11 000 movies, USA Today reports. According to the prosecutors this is more than what Netflix or its competitors like Hulu offer.

Another streaming site closed by the FBI was Jetflix, operated by the same duo: Luis Villarino and Darryl Polo.

Polo was using a script to download content from P2P networks and stream it to his customers from his servers in Canada. He admitted to have earned $1 million from the sites subscription fees, and has been involved in other piracy efforts, and pleaded guilty to both copyright money infringement and laundering charges.

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