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Year 2020 in review: COVID-19, new consoles, rise of the mid-ranged phones, ..

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 01 Jan 2021 12:25

Year 2020 in review: COVID-19, new consoles, rise of the mid-ranged phones, .. The weird year of 2020 is finally past us and it is time to take a look at tech news, events and phenomenons that happened during this year. Obviously, the global lockdown affected the lives of millions, maybe billions, across the world. But it also caused changes to how work is done, how we entertained ourselves and more.

Remote work

Sometime in February and March, most of the world was locked down as the global pandemic was spreading like wildfire, causing fatalities that we haven't seen in decades in most parts of the world.

As of this, virtually all of those who could do their work from home, were ordered to do so. This, obviously, changed many things in the online world. First of all, it put massive strain to networks all over the world when suddenly hundreds of millions of people started doing work from home who had been working at the offices before the lockdown.

Secondly, it also introduced many of us to new software solutions and applications that helped us to do remote meetings, collaborate with our peers and more. Perfect example of such software is Zoom, a video conferencing software that very few had heard of before the pandemic, but which quickly became a synonym for online video conferences.


AfterDawn: News

Avast scoured through browser extension: These you should remove

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 20 Dec 2020 1:02

Avast scoured through browser extension: These you should remove The cybersecurity company Avast has released a review on web browser extensions and found out which ones might contain malware-like behavior.

The company found a total of 28 extensions for either Google's Chrome or Microsoft's Edge browsers that you should probably get rid of.

After all Avast should have plenty of experience about browser extension that need to be deleted after Mozilla pulled Avast's add-on for data collection, although they quickly met with Mozilla's guidelines.

Most of these extension redirect the user to an ad-filled page or phishing sites, which try to acquire some personal information about the user.

According to Avast, the majority of these extensions are designed for Instagram or video platforms and usually promise (and usually deliver) some kind of unofficial download function for those platforms.

Unfortunately not only do they let you download content, they also try to gain access to your attention and information.


AfterDawn: News

Cyberpunk 2077 removed from PlayStation Store

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 18 Dec 2020 11:26

Cyberpunk 2077 removed from PlayStation Store The most anticipated game of perhaps the past decade was released eight days ago and while the sales figures and gamer stats broke records, the reception was anything but one-sided adulation.

Sony has determined that the game is in fact so broken that it needed to remove it from the PlayStation Store. This is somewhat unforeseen act from the game console maker and a harsh punishment for CD Projekt Red.

The company has also offered full refund for all those who've bought the game already.

In a statement, CD Projekt Red first notes that people can still buy the physical copies both from brick and mortar stores and online even for PlayStation. There's also a mention of working hard to repair the game and get it back to PlayStation Store as fast as possible.


AfterDawn: News

New Netflix feature: Listen to your favorite shows

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 17 Dec 2020 1:37

New Netflix feature: Listen to your favorite shows Well, this one you didn't expect, did you? Netflix is adding a audio-only mode to its world-leading streaming video service.

According to Android Police, Netflix is bringing the new feature to at least the Android app.

In the new version (version 7.84.1 build 28 35243) Netflix adds a Video button on the top of the UI. By clicking the button the video turns off and you are presented with only the audio and a black screen with regular playback controls. You can tap the button again to regain the video playback.

As Android Police notes, somewhat oddly even the brightness slider stays in place when the video is turned off.

There's also an option in the settings to tweak how you'd like to use the feature. You can select the audio only to be always on, off, or only for headphones and external speakers.

Whether Netflix is trying to combat the increasing success of podcasts or just thinks you might want to listen to a less visually intense piece of entertainment is not certain but people will likely find use for the feature.

At this point there's no word on when this might land on your devices, especially if you aren't running Android. However, shouldn't take too long if some already have access to it.


AfterDawn: News

Spotify is down - globally

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 16 Dec 2020 4:06

Spotify is down - globally Spotify crashed globally about ten minutes ago. Problem is widespread and neither paying customers or those using free version can't access the streaming service.

Social media is flooded with reports about Spotify going down and quick look at the DownDetector site that monitors various web and online services confirms the problem.

Spotify down chart

Tons of tweets about the problem sparked immediately:


AfterDawn: News

Signal offers free encrypted video calls

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2020 2:41

Signal offers free encrypted video calls Signal has expanded its end-to-end encrypted communications to include video group calls.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to embrace video conferencing software for everything from school classrooms to corporate meetings.

Earlier in the year, Zoom came under fire after it was found its video was not subject to end-to-end encryption as had been claimed. There were also other security concerns that hit the service, which grew significantly during the pandemic.

Now, encrypted messaging app Signal has added group video chats to its line-up and like everything else it offers, it benefits from end-to-end encryption.

"Today, we're launching group calls in Signal with the latest versions of our apps. Group calls are free, private, and end-to-end encrypted," Signal's announcement reads.

A video call button will now be added to the top of group chats. When you start or join a group call, Signal will display the participants in a grid view. You can also swipe up to switch to a view that automatically focuses the screen on who is speaking, and it will update in real-time as the active speaker changes.

Free group calls are available starting today as long as the Signal app has been updated to the latest version. You won't see the call button in your legacy groups, but your legacy Signal groups will start automatically updating to New Groups in the coming weeks.


AfterDawn: News

CD Projekt Red sorry for Cyberpunk 2077 issues

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2020 2:39

CD Projekt Red sorry for Cyberpunk 2077 issues The developer of the open-world, action-adventure RPG has apologized to customers who are experience technical issues and glitches.

Most of the problems seem to be limited to users of the previous generation of gaming consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, typically including choppy framerates and screen tearing. Reviewers had been given a PC version of the blockbuster, so the issues were not reported until after the release.

In an apology posted to its social media account, CD Projekt Red admitted it should have paid more attention to how the game performed on the older consoles and should have shown the game on the consoles before it premiered.

CD Projekt Red went on to promise major patches to address the issues with the first Patch #1 arriving in January. It will be followed by Patch #2 in February.


AfterDawn: News

Pornhub purges millions of 'unverified' videos

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2020 2:37

Pornhub purges millions of 'unverified' videos One of the largest adult entertainment websites has removed millions of videos from its platform.

Pornhub had been under fire since a New York Times report allegedly discovered illegal content mixed in with its millions of erotic videos. Following the report, MasterCard stopped processing payments for the website while rival Visa is also conducting an investigation.

PornHub had blasted the move by the payment processors at the time, pointing out that the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) had reported 118 incidents of child abuse material on PornHub, compared to 84 million reported by Facebook.

The new report did spark a major change in Pornhub policies, however. It decided that all uploaders of material would soon need to be verified. In line with that commitment, Pornhub has effectively removed millions of videos as it has suspended uploads from unverified accounts.

Most of the material on Pornhub is posted by unverified accounts.

It now says it is going further than any other platform in its trust and safety practices but also claims it is being targeted ultimately by groups that wish to abolish pornography outright.

"This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders, a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute," the company said in a blog post.


AfterDawn: News

Samsung announces next-gen TV tech in a 110 inch MicroLED TV

Written by Matti Vähäkainu @ 14 Dec 2020 10:24

Samsung announces next-gen TV tech in a 110 inch MicroLED TV Samsung has been developing MicroLED technology for a while now, and some of its first implementation have been out for while too, like the custom display called The Wall.

However, these displays have been meant for custom installations only, and thus only for the wealthy. Well, now Samsung is letting us regular folks buy MicroLED TVs to their homes for the first time, as it announces the first ever home MicroLED screen.

Perhaps some clarification is in order, though, since we don't actually mean regular folks, we mean people that have just under $100k lying around waiting to be spent on a massive television. Yes, that's how much this will cost.

Samsung anticipates that it will enter the market in early 2021 and will cost around a hundred million won which translates to around $91,500.

Samsung's 110 inch MicroLED TV


AfterDawn: News

RIGHT NOW: Google is down - also YouTube, Gmail, Google Photos, etc are all down

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 14 Dec 2020 7:08

RIGHT NOW: Google is down - also YouTube, Gmail, Google Photos, etc are all down Just few minutes ago all major Google services went crashing down.

Social media is being flooded with reports from users who cannot access Google search, YouTube, Gmail or Google Photos.

You can see the situation in DownDetector and other similar sites monitoring web services' health.

Here's how YouTube looks like right now:

YouTube down

And here's how Google search looks like:

Google down

Current monitoring status for Google Drive:

Google monitoring / health status

AfterDawn: News

Brexit: Britons must give up their .eu domains by January, 2021

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 13 Dec 2020 1:53

Brexit: Britons must give up their .eu domains by January, 2021 One of the consequences that very few people probably thought about when Brexit became a reality is the change in TLD domains.

One of the oldest "new-ish" TLDs is .eu top-level domain space, launched back in 2005. As per .eu domain's rules, the domain cannot be held by anyone other than a citizen or organization located within European Union.

As Britain finally exits European Union at the end of 2020 (the exit happened on 1st of January, 2020, but there has been one-year long transition period), also all .eu domains held by British nationals or British organizations are going to be suspended. That is, unless the organization has subsidiaries within the EU to whom it can transfer the ownership of the domain before the transition period is over.

This might come as a shock to some Britons owning .eu domains, but shouldn't be one: .eu domain has always been restricted to EU nationals and organizations and as Britain ceases to be within EU, the suspension of those domains is just logical one.

.eu domain authority EURid has already started notifying UK-based .eu domain owners about the upcoming deadline. EU nationals residing in the UK owning .eu domains don't need to worry - the ownership of the domain isn't restricted to where person is living at, as long as the domain owner's nationality is within EU borders.


AfterDawn: News

Massive Android problem: SMS has huge delays, here's how to fix

Written by Petteri Pyyny @ 11 Dec 2020 7:14

Massive Android problem: SMS has huge delays, here's how to fix Many Android users have experienced extremely annoying situation recently: incoming text messages (SMS) have been delayed for very long time, sometimes even half an hour.

This has caused massive problems when trying to log in to services that require SMS verification, such as logging in to Google services, many banks, etc when 2-factor authentication is enabled.

The delayed incoming SMS problem started on 23rd of November, 2020 when Google rolled out an update to Carrier Services module of Android operating system. Module is updated through Google Play store and it handles operator-specific services, such as checking your current data quota, etc.

Luckily, the problem is easy-ish to fix.

How to fix delayed incoming SMS message problem with Android

  1. Open Google Play store.
  2. Search for Carrier Services
  3. Tap the app when it appears in the search>
  4. On app's description page, choose Uninstall.

Uninstalling the app wont do any harm to your Android phone, but solves the problem. This is, obviously, a hack, until Google issues a fix to its Carrier Services app. And we don't know exactly what causes the problem in the first place.


AfterDawn: News

Spotify forcing some users to change passwords

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Dec 2020 2:07

Spotify forcing some users to change passwords The discovery of a security bug that leaked user information to third parties has prompted the action.

Spotify is forcing some of its subscribers to change their passwords following the discovery of a security bug. The bug reportedly led to user information being incorrectly shared with third parties, and Spotify is contacting users of affected accounts.

Information shared unintentionally includes e-mail addresses, passwords, display names, and more. So far there is no evidence that the information has been used for nefarious purposes and Spotify has contacted third parties and ordered them to delete the data.

Affected users will have been issued a password reset, and so will be alerted by email to continue through the process to change their account password.

Affected users should also consider changing the password on other services if they had been using it for them also.

AfterDawn: News

Pornhub blasts Visa, Mastercard suspension

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Dec 2020 2:04

Pornhub blasts Visa, Mastercard suspension Pornhub highlights double-standards, concerns about income to models, following Mastercard, and Visa suspension.

Mastercard and Visa will no longer handle payments for massive adult entertainment platform. Coming just days after Pornhub announced strict new rules for its service, Visa and Mastercard have cut off the adult website.

Following a New York Times investigation that exposed exploitative and illegal content on the massive platform, along with deficiencies in monitoring uploaded content, Pornhub imposed new restrictions on users of the service.

It changes its policies so that users who upload content to the service will have to have their identity verified. Additionally, it banned the downloading of most content available on the service.

"Today, the use of our cards at Pornhub is being terminated. Our investigation over the past several days has confirmed violations of our standards prohibiting unlawful content.... we continue to investigate potential illegal content on other websites," a Mastercard statement received by NYT's Nicholas Kristof reads.

After Mastercard's decision was revealed, Visa suspended Pornhub's acceptance privileges pending an ongoing investigation. Naturally, Pornhub is more than miffed by the moves and seemingly wishes to highlight double standards in its defense.


AfterDawn: News

Apple sued by third-party app store used for jailbreak devices

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Dec 2020 2:00

Apple sued by third-party app store used for jailbreak devices Apple has been targeted by yet another lawsuit alleging wrongdoing over its device limitations.

This time the plaintiff in the case is Cydia (also known as SaurikIT), alleging that Apple illegally blocked all competition for its App Store. Cydia was founded in 2008 and became a very popular third-party alternative for users of Apple devices that had been jailbroken.

To jailbreak a device is to modify it to circumvent technical limitations and allow it to be used in ways unintended by the manufacturer.

In this case, an iPhone jailbreak would allow for the device to install applications from locations other than the App Store, among other things.

Cydia is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which has previously represented Samsung in disputes against Apple. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.

It is not the first case against Apple this year over its App Store practices. Fortnite publisher Epic Games has sued Apple for removing the popular title from the App Store. In that case, Epic opted to use its own payment system to sidestep a 30 percent tally imposed by Apple.

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