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This super-soft headband is designed to gently rewire your bad sleeping habits

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:46

French neurotech company Dreem has released an updated version of its sleep-tracking headband, with a new, softer feel, improved audio quality and more flexible fit.

Poor sleep isn't something you should take lying down; it can result in serious health problems, including increased risk of dementia and heart attacks, disrupted hormones, and a weakened immune system. Dreem aims to solve this problem by identifying your particular sleep issues and coaching you to better habits.

The whole band is completely bendable, we redesigned the electrodes and we changed the material to make it even softer

Hugo Mercier, CEO, Dreem

Dreem has two parts: the headband itself, and its accompanying app, Dreem Coach. The headband gathers biometric data as you sleep, tracking your brain activity, heart rate and head movement. It's much more accurate than a smart watch – more like a sleep lab, but without having to spend the night in a strange bed with electrodes taped to your face.

This information is transmitted to Dreem Coach, which also asks you a series of questions about your sleeping patterns during the day, After seven nights it combines the biometric data with your survey answers to create a detailed sleep report just for you, with tailored recommendations.

These might be simple things that you can do to help unwind at night, but Dreem Coach can also offer advanced six or eight-week courses incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) if you're suffering chronic insomnia.

Sweeter dreams

Any device you'll be wearing all night needs to be as comfortable as possible, so Dreem's engineers have paid great attention to making the new version of the headband softer and more flexible.

"We wanted to keep roughly the same design, so it is quite similar," Dreem CEO Hugo Mercier told TechRadar, "but we remade it from scratch, and we have made some changes to try to improve some elements for the user.

"First of all, we have increased the level of comfort for the product. What was quite hard with the Dreem headband was the fact that you need to have something that will fit everybody’s head – the size and shape – and at the same time you need to ensure that it has contact with the skin to ensure the electrodes are working and measuring the signal."

Image credit: Dreem

It was possible to make the electronic components a little smaller, but to actually make the band feel softer, the team had to think more creatively.

"In the previous version of the headband, the bridge of the headband had some rigidity [even though] it was quite bendable and quite soft," Mercier said. "We tried to find a way to innovate on that with the materials to try to take all the rigidity off. So when you feel the new headband, there is a great softness.

We reworked the [bone conduction] technology as well in order to make it higher audio quality

Hugo Mercier, CEO, Dreem

"All the electrodes and the cables are protected by foam, meaning that now it’s completely bendable, except for the bar, which isn’t a problem because it’s sitting on top of your head. So now the whole band is completely bendable, we redesigned the electrodes [and] we changed the material to make [it] even softer."

The headband is now more adjustable too. The previous version featured elastic at the back, but as Mercier explained, this wasn't always enough: "The thing is, you have a really, really wide range of size and shape for the head. So if you have a too big head, or too small head, the elastic is probably not enough.  So we tried to open the elastic and add some kind of adjuster.

"It’s really simple – we have an S, M, L adjuster. You open it once when you use the headband, you can move it to three different places, and it improves the comfort. So when we compare the comfort between the previous version and version two, we have an improvement for 45% of our users, which is huge."

Soothing sounds

The Dreem Band doesn't just track your vitals; it can also help you drift off to sleep with gentle sound, and use pink noise at specific intervals to improve deep sleep. The second iteration of the headband offers improved audio quality to make this more effective

"We really re-worked the bone conduction technology," Mercier told us. "What we found was the fact that the sound is going through your skull and your bones, so you are limited by the mechanical properties of your head. But we reworked the technology as well in order to make it higher audio quality. Again, we have improved by 40% the audio quality."

Image credit: Dreem

Dreem has managed to achieve all this while also dropping the headband's price by €100 (about $110, £85, AU$160). The band is available to order now for €399 (about $450, £345, AU$640).

We'll be reviewing the Dreem 2 headband soon, so stay tuned to find out whether it helped us enjoy a better night's sleep.

Categories: Tech News

4K TV deal: this excellent LG 55-inch OLED TV is at its lowest price ever

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:22

If you're looking for a fabulous mid-size TV with premium features, then look no further than this killer deal from Newegg. For a limited time, you can get the top-rated LG 55-inch OLED TV on sale for $1,349. That's a whopping $1,000+ discount and the lowest price we've seen for this 4K smart TV.

The LG E8PUA has everything and more than you'd want for your dream TV - it features highly in our countdown of the best TVs in 2019. You'll be able to watch movies and TV shows with brilliant colors and stunning contrasts thanks to OLED TVs superior picture quality. The LG TV also features an a7 Intelligent processor which provides a life-like viewing experience with crisp images and vibrant colors. The sound experience is also premium because the TV offers Dolby Atmos technology which provides cinema-like surround sound.

The LG TV also includes AI Thin IQ which means you'll be able to turn your TV into a smart home hub. Just connect your compatible Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices to the TV, and you'll be able to control all of your smart home devices with the command of your voice.

This is the lowest price we've seen for this particular model and a fantastic price for a 55-inch TV with premium features. This rare deal ends on Friday, so you should act fast before it's gone!

See more of the cheapest OLED TV prices and deals and shop other cheap TV deals and sale prices that are currently going on.

You can also learn more about our top-rated TVs with our guide on the best TVs of 2019: the big-screen TVs worth buying this year.

Categories: Tech News

New offer from Plusnet just made it one of the cheapest broadband deals in UK

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:17

Time to renew your internet package? Well the timing is perfect as Plusnet has just dropped a new offer to effectively become one of the UK's cheapest broadband deals.

Offering an ADSL broadband package at the cost of £18.99 a month, this is already a pretty affordable option. But, Plusnet essentially slashes that price all the way down to just £14.82 thanks to the offer of a £75 reward card. That makes this one of the cheapest options for internet, second only to lesser-known Onestream

So if you want to grab yourself a cheap broadband deal, you can see this Plusnet offer in full below. Or if you don't feel like these speeds will be fast enough, check out our guide to the best fibre broadband deals

This new Plusnet broadband deal in full: Want something a bit faster from your broadband?

When it comes to cheap ADSL broadband, this is one of the best options out there. If you just want the cheapest overall broadband deal, Onestream is your best bet - currently the UK's cheapest option at £13.99 a month. Or for another well known name in internet, TalkTalk has a £17 ADSL offer that could be more up your street.

But if you need something a bit faster, a fibre broadband deal perhaps? Then there really is no beating BT right now. It starts with monthly costs of £29.99 but then dampens that cost with the offer of a free Google Home Mini - in terms of overall value, its hard to beat this offer but it ends tomorrow at 11.59pm so there isn't long left.

For our pick of the most affordable fibre we would offer up Vodafone. With average speeds of 35Mb, no upfront costs and monthly payments of just £21, this is a great fibre package for those looking to spend a smaller price. 

Categories: Tech News

Best Xbox One accessories: all the extras you need to own for Xbox One

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:14

The Xbox One family is an impressive collection of consoles. Whether you own the Xbox One S or the upgraded Xbox One X, you'll want to make the most of your powerful console with the best Xbox One accessories.

But with such a wide variety of choices, it can be hard to work out which accessories are best for you: whether that's a controller, headset, or Xbox Live Gold membership.

Luckily, we've put together this list of the best Xbox One accessories to help you make the most of your console.

Image credit: TechRadar

The Xbox One controller is already a pretty solid piece of hardware, improving on the Xbox 360's controller that became the industry standard. Somehow, Microsoft managed even further improvement in the form of the Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller.

There's swappable thumbsticks and directional pads that offer up a better feel than the standard Xbox One controller, as well as quick-hit triggers to help out in the most high-impact shooters. While it's pretty pricy for a pad at almost three times the cost of a standard controller, you definitely get what you pay for with this premium piece of hardware. 

Read the full review: Xbox One Elite Wireless Controller

Image credit: Microsoft

While there is some benefit to having the Xbox One controller use standard batteries (like not having to worry about having a controller-free console in a few years when the other platforms controller batteries start dying and the platform manufacturers have moved on), the process of switching out AA batteries every few weeks can be maddening.

If you yearn for some simplicity, though, the Xbox One Play and Charge Kit puts the Xbox One Controller on the same playing field as the competition. Just put the simple battery back where you'd put the batteries and use a micro-USB cable to keep the controller fresh when you run out of juice.

Image credit: Microsoft

Ever since the PlayStation 2 put a DVD player in the homes of millions, one constant has remained this millennium; using a controller to watch videos on consoles is the worst. If you're using your Xbox One as a streamer, Blu-ray player, and TV watcher, the Xbox One Media Remote is a great way to watch all of your favorite content without fumbling to remember the proper controller command to bring up closed captions or time remaining.

This remote is perfectly sized to fit every important command (including volume options that controllers and Xbox One Smartglass cant handle), is very sleek, and has a backlight that's perfect for home theaters and late-night video-watching.

Image credit: Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is the longest established specialist gaming headset manufacturer, with a fanatical following among pro-gamers – and when you unbox its top-of-the-range Elite Pro, you can see why. It simply oozes no-expense-spared design, and sports all manner of neat touches born from decades of pro-gaming experience.

But more importantly than that, it sounds spectacular, with huge bass and crystal-clear treble adding up to a sound which will allow you to get deeply immersed into whatever game you're playing. Comfort-wise, it's exemplary, with big, thick earpads that eliminate all ambient noise, and can be easily adjusted to fit all head-sizes. A neat feature lets you add spacing to the earpads to accommodate a pair of glasses.

On an Xbox One, we'd recommend teaming it up with piece of kit called the Tactical Audio Adapter, which clips into the Xbox One controller and operates as an amplifier, adding some of the extra sound-control features which come in a separate graphic equaliser-style box called the Tactical Audio Controller (which is pricey but adds Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound). 

Those features include Turtle Beach’s Superhuman Hearing, which enhances the sound of incoming players' footsteps and is great for hardcore first-person shooter fans, and Dynamic Chat Boost, which keeps chat-levels audible even when background noise rises. Plus, it lets you independently adjust game and chat volumes.

Add tank-like build-quality to the equation and you have a headset which has become something of a status symbol for those who take their gaming seriously.

For more information, check out our full Turtle Beach Elite Pro review.

Image credit: Microsoft

Over the last decade-plus, Xbox Live has been synonymous with Xbox consoles; if you want to get the most out of your Xbox 360 or Xbox One, having Xbox Live to play online with friends is tantamount. Even if you don't play games online regularly, there's still a lot of value that comes with this subscription.

On top of weekly discounts, Xbox Live members also get free Xbox One games (and another pair of backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games) to keep as long as their Xbox Live subscription stays valid. It's a great deal that ensures you'll rarely even have to pick up new games, given the breadth and depth of freebies that come to Xbox Live on a monthly basis. 

Image credit: Microsoft

Sometimes, a voice message won't do and you've got to send some words to your Xbox cohorts. So what do you do? Painfully trudge through the UI keyboard to slowly...type...out... each... word? Pull up your phone and dive through a series of Smartglass menus to text your fellow players? Wouldn't it be great if you had a keyboard handy at all times?

That's why the Xbox One Chatpad is so darn handy. Sending messages is a snap, even in the dark thanks to the back-lit mini-keyboard. Sending longer messages to friends or redeeming one of the Xbox One's insane 25-character redemption codes is a heck of a lot easier with this sweet add-on that fits flush with your controller.

Image credit: TechRadar

Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller is truly an innovative piece of tech, making gaming more accessible for gamers with limited mobility. While this Xbox One accessory isn't necessarily for everyone, its large programmable buttons and ability to connect to external switches, buttons, mounts and joystick means the controller can be customized for users of varying needs.

However, the issue with this controller is price. While it works with a range of devices, they all need to be purchased separately (as the purchase price is only for the main controller). So if you have more precise needs, then you will need to buy more plug ins. It's not ideal but Microsoft's effort to make gaming more accessible is definitely a step forward.

You can purchase the Xbox Adaptive Controller from Microsoft for £74.99 / $99.99 / AU$129.99.

Image credit: Microsoft

Whether you've got an old reliable headset that saw you through some Xbox 360 battles or want your PC gaming headset to pull double duty, you'll need something to get a non-official headset working with the Xbox One's proprietary controller connector.

Thankfully, there's the Xbox One Headset Adaptor that allows one to plug a standard wired gaming headset on the Xbox One console. It also helps things out by centralizing the headset commands right underneath the controller. No longer will you have to feel around on your headset's wires to find the volume and muting controls; it's all right there on the controller no matter what headset you've got connected.

 Image credit: Seagate

Even with the streamlined simplicity that consoles offer, sometimes storage can be tricky, especially given the sheer variety of external hard drives on the market. Will a hard drive get enough power from the console to run properly? Is the speed up to snuff enough to play full games at a proper clip? Sometimes reliability and peace of mind is worth spending a little more for, which is why Seagate's official external drive is worth seeking out.

Beyond the snazzy look and logo, you're guaranteed a solution to your storage ills and a hard drive that will work right out of the box. If you've ever had to futz around formatting your drive and crossing your fingers that your console will recognize it, the Game Drive is a breath of fresh air.

Categories: Tech News

How to watch the 2019 NFL Draft live stream online from anywhere in the world

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:00

The New England Patriots may have dominated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 at Super Bowl LIII but a new NFL season is just around the corner and the real interest starts here - with an NFL draft live stream.

The 2019 NFL Draft is where the best college players across the country will be divided up amongst the league’s 32 teams. The draft begins on Thursday, April 25 and lasts until Saturday, April 27 with round one taking place on Thursday, rounds two and three on Friday and rounds four to seven on Saturday.

Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen are just a few of the players likely to be chosen in the first few picks of this year’s draft. The Oakland Raiders will have the most first round picks this year and the team will hopefully add three new rookies to its squad. However, the Arizona Cardinals will have the first pick in round one followed by the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets.

Whether you’re a college football fan waiting to see which of your favorite players gets picked or are just eager for the 2019-2020 NFL season to begin, don’t worry as we’ll show you exactly how to live stream the 2019 NFL Draft online from anywhere in the world.

How to watch the NFL draft: US live stream 

If you live in the US and have a television, then you’ll have plenty of options to watch this year’s draft as the event will be broadcast across a variety of networks including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network. 

If this sounds a bit too complicated don’t worry as you can watch all three days of the draft on ABC for the first time in the network’s history. The network will produce its own distinct telecast, separate from ESPN and the NFL Network, for the first two nights of coverage and it will simulcast ESPN’s presentation on the final day of the draft. While you can watch ABC on your television (even with a digital antenna), you can also watch the network’s coverage live on the ABC app from your mobile devices or on your computer and connected devices on ABC’s website. Just remember that you will have to provide your credentials from your cable provider to watch ABC online.

Don’t want to sign up for an expensive cable TV package just to watch the NFL draft? Don’t worry as a number of streaming services also give you access to the channels you’ll need to watch the event and often times, they are even cheaper that a traditional cable package. We’ve listed our favorite streaming sites with access to ABC, ESPN and NFL Network below to help you make your decision.

  • Hulu with Live TV $44.99 per month - Hulu with Live TV gives you access to ESPN and ABC in most markets but the service doesn't include the NFL Network. Hulu with Live TV supports a wide variety of streaming devices and even includes its own Hulu Originals in case you want a break from watching sports.
  • Playstation Vue starting at $44.99 per month - Playstation Vue has four plans: Access, Core, Elite and Ultra but you'll need to opt for the Core plan at $49.99 per month to watch the NFL Draft. The service's base plan gives you access to ESPN, NFL Network and ABC in most markets. There is also a 5-day free trial available.
  • DirecTV Now $50 per month - DirecTV Now gives you access to ESPN and ABC in most markets. You can stream on up to three screens simultaneously and with the DirecTV Now app you can watch live TV on the go. New customers can take advantage of a 7-day trial but you'll have to purchase on of DirecTV Now's packages first.
  • Sling TV starting at $15 per month - Sling TV's Sling Orange or Sling Blue packages each cost $15 or you can combine them for $25 per month. However, each package contains different channels so make sure the one you choose has the channels you want to watch. For instance, Sing Orange gives you access to ESPN and ESPN2 while Sling Blue gives you access to the NFL Network. If you want to watch ABC though, you’ll have to pay an extra $5 per month for the “Broadcast Extra” add-on package
  • fuboTV $44.99 for the first month - fuboTV doesn't include ESPN but you do get access to the NFL Network. The service also includes Cloud DVR so you can record games to watch them later and if you forget to record a game, the company's 3-day replay allows you to replay nearly any game, show or movie that aired in the last three days. FuboTV even offers a free 7-day trial so you can test out the service.
  • YouTube TV $49.99 per month - YouTube TV gives you access to ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC in most markets. With YouTube TV you get free unlimited DVR storage space to record games for later and you can stream the service on three devices simultaneously. A free 14-day trial is also available so you can test it out for yourself.
Watch an NFL Draft live stream from outside your country

If you're eager to watch but find yourself abroad while the draft takes place, you'll soon discover that access to watching is geo-blocked.

Annoying, but not the end of the world as you can override this by using a VPN. Pick one of the VPN providers listed below, download their software and you’ll be able to change your IP address to one back home so you can access a 2019 NFL Draft live stream from anywhere in the world. 

How to watch the NFL draft in the UK 

American football fans in the UK will be able to watch the 2019 NFL Draft on Sky Sports. The network’s broadcast will begin at 12:30am GMT on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event in the early hours of Friday. 

If you’re not yet a Sky Sports subscriber, you can get access to all eight Sky Sports channels for just £23 a month for 18 months. However, if you’re not interested in a commitment, you can always buy a Sky Sports Day Pass or Sky Sports Week Pass from NowTV for £8.99 or £14.99 respectively.

And don't forget that you can also use a VPN to change your IP address to one in the UK if you want to watch but are abroad this week.

Categories: Tech News

Are there any truly ‘free’ VPNs?

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:32

For those in the know, a VPN has become an important tool to safeguard their privacy, providing a higher level of security when using public Wi-Fi, protecting from hacking, and bypassing geo-restrictions to access content. 

There are plenty of both free VPNs and paid VPNs, and the latter have all types of plans from monthly subscriptions, to lifetime ‘pay once, use forever’ offerings - and everything in between. Many users are better off with a paid VPN plan, that can protect all their devices, has servers in the major countries, unlimited data, high throughput rates, a robust no logs policy, and a customer service department in case support is needed. 

Also realize that all of this VPN goodness is available - even some of the very best VPNs start at an affordable $3 per month - which is quite reasonable compared to what you pay your ISP monthly for your internet connection.

Free, with downsides

That being said, for the cash strapped, ramen noodle eating college student, or other casual VPN user, there are some options for a free VPN. Just be aware that finding a decent one too often involves some serious compromises, so look and compare exactly what you are getting before blindly signing up. 

A number of paid VPNs offer a free tier, often dubbed ‘Freemium’, but these offerings are limited with a low monthly data allotment, and often the restriction of a single supported device, fewer available servers, lower priority for transmitted data, and less options for customer service. 

Still, for those folks that think a 4-cylinder under the hood of their Mustang is a palatable idea, these freemium VPN services can get the basic job done. Also, if the user collects and installs several of these, it is possible, with enough effort, to get adequate data to last the month with lighter usage.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Malware - no extra charge

Using a mobile device is a risk, with data being transmitted both over the Wi-Fi and cellular radios, and unencrypted at that. Users must be aware of this, as Android VPNs are quite popular, with millions of downloads.

However, these free VPNs tend to be a hotbed for all types of malware, particularly on the Android platform, which tends to be less curated than in the iOS App Store. Earlier this year it was reported that of 150 free VPN apps studied by Metrics Lab, astonishingly, 27 of these apps came up positive for malware when scanned with VirusTotal, an anti-malware utility.

Given this situation, users who want a free VPN are better off seeking it out for another platform, such as Windows or Mac, where the malware is less rampant, and there are better tools to identify and scrub it out.

Also, while there have been stability issues, and concerns about privacy with the Opera browser’s included VPN, which runs through SurfEasy, a recent development has been to add a free VPN integrated into the Android Opera browser (like the Opera desktop browser has had for years, but the standalone VPN got pulled about a year ago from the mobile browser). While we are watching this carefully, at least it does offer a free VPN for Android with unlimited data from the Opera browser that has a solid track record.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Trading the ads out for... yet more ads

A primary reason to use a VPN is to avoid those pesky ad trackers, to regain a user’s privacy while they are online. However, ad trackers tend to be a profitable business, and a free VPN is eager to make a profit somehow. Therefore, it is quite simple for the VPN to track the user, and then sell the resulting data to a third-party advertiser.

This is not a hypothetical by the way. Hotspot Shield, from AnchorFree, which was installed on 10 million Android devices at the time, was reported by Tom’s Guide to have: “Actively injected JavaScript into web pages, and redirected e-commerce traffic to AnchorFree's partners.” 

Dismally, many of these Android free VPN apps also got overly grabby with the phone’s data, and went into the user’s other accounts, including text messages. Finally, yet even more concerning, some of these VPN apps did not even encrypt the user’s data via a tunneling protocol; in other words they did not perform the core function that a VPN should, making this a situation of ‘risk without reward’.

Know what you're getting into

Free VPN software is literally ‘The Wild West,’ with major disclaimers, and caveat emptor certainly applies - you need to apply a healthy dose of skepticism when considering going the freebie route.

The argument can seriously be made that there really are no free VPNs, as these companies need to make some money somehow, and therefore the user’s data gets monetized into a revenue stream, which goes against a critical primary reason to employ a VPN - to regain privacy.

Those looking for some gratis choices should be sure to check TechRadar’s list of the best free VPN providers, which has already done the legwork to weed out the offenders of the practices mentioned above, and makes some some solid recommendations.

Categories: Tech News

UK's Huawei decision ends uncertainty for 5G operators

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:30

Reports that the UK government will allow Huawei to supply operators with kit for the radio element of 5G networks but not the core have been greeted with the usual hyperbole that has surrounded recent conversations about the Chinese mobile giant.

Depending on who you read this morning, the Prime Minister has either “banned” Huawei from 5G core networks or given the “green light” for the company to participate in the rollout of next generation networks.

The final decision won’t be confirmed until the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) long-awaited report into the UK’s communications infrastructure is published – either later this month or in May.

But if these latest reports are correct, the truth is that nothing has really changed for mobile operators except that a huge source of uncertainty will have been eliminated.

The political fallout

The calls for Huawei to be banned from the UK’s 5G networks have largely been sparked by the US government’s long-held suspicions about the company and because 5G will support a new breed of mission-critical business applications.

This means 5G networks will carry unprecedented volumes of sensitive data and that any suspension to connectivity would be crippling.

Huawei has been excluded from the US’s telecoms infrastructure on national security fears, largely founded on the firm’s perceived links to the Chinese government and a belief that legislation requires firms in China to assist in state surveillance.

Huawei has repeatedly denied such allegations and has embarked on a widespread publicity blitz in recent months. It’s reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei has given interviews to western media outlets, it has taken out full page adverts in US newspapers, and Rotating Chairman Guo Ping told MWC that the US had “no evidence” for its claims.

This hasn’t stopped the US from applying pressure to its allies in the West to follow its lead. However, Huawei is a major supplier for operators in Europe elsewhere, while other nations, such as Germany, have been less keen to exclude the company.

The political consequences of a UK decision to allow Huawei’s radio kit to be used shouldn’t be ignored, especially when it comes to the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partnership with the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Australia has barred Huawei from 5G, New Zealand has stopped one operator from using the company’s kit, and Canada is considering the matter.

Meanwhile, a formal ban for a Huawei could raise political tensions between the UK and China.

UK 5G impact

But in reality, such a ruling would have no impact on mobile operators. None of the major operators plan to use Huawei’s 5G kit in their core infrastructure, while EE is actively removing it from its 3G and 4G networks.

However, the prospect of being prevented from using Huawei radio kit has been an unwelcome one. Despite initial concerns the UK wouldn’t be a leader in 5G, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have all confirmed plans to launch in 2019 – making the country one of the first to receive a commercial service from all major operators.

Any ban would reduce the pool of suppliers for operators to choose from, reducing competition and innovation while rising prices. The ban would also jeopardise the UK’s position as a 5G leader by delaying the widespread availability of services by 18-24 months. This could cost the UK economy as much as £6.8 billion.

The fact of the matter is that operators do not regard Huawei as a security risk and plan to use a mixture of kit from all vendors across their radio, transport and core layers.

“With the radio network, the risk is low because an attack on a base station isn’t effective [to steal data],” said Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty earlier this year. “There are too many base stations and too many people who move around. Equally, it’s low risk from an infrastructure perspective as you could switch off one base station and although it would be inconvenient for a few users, we have 18,000 base stations.

“The effort to launch an attack on a base station is not worth the reward. It’d be easier to hack your phone.”

For Huawei, the allegations and restrictions have not yet had an impact on its bottom line. Sales rose by a fifth to more than $100 billion last year, while it has agreed 40 commercial contracts for 5G, shipping 45 base stations in the process.

Whatever the political fallout might be, it appears to be business as usual for UK operators.

Categories: Tech News

Best cloud orchestration software of 2019

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 09:11

If your company uses cloud-based services to manage backups, run apps and so on, each bit of data and every system resource is precious. It's easy to feel overcome by the sheer amount of information generated. This is why all sensible SMB owners employ cloud orchestration tools. These are designed to consolidate information on your various public or hybrid clouds such as the cost of running certain apps and services.

In this guide, you'll discover some of the very best cloud orchestration tools on the market today. All of these providers use an API and/or dashboard to monitor your services and provide useful information. Many also allow you to automate policies and raise alerts if there are any issues.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to desire.athow@futurenet.com with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.

Image credit: BMC

BMC Software produces software and services that assist businesses in moving to digital operations. These include IT service management, data center automation, performance management and cloud computing management.

The software has a self-service portal where users can request configurable services across infrastructure, platforms and applications. The solution has tools for automated provisioning, governance and management of cloud services.

Users can apply compliance checks and then automate remediation to stay secure.

The service health management features allows users to monitor service health through an intuitive dashboard. The platform is fully scalable.

BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management allows users to automatically apply policies for regulatory and security compliance requirements.

Interested clients need to contact BMC directly for pricing.

Some users have complained of difficulties with integrating the platform fully with public cloud services.

Image credit: Juniper

AppFormix is part of Juniper Networks, founded in 1996.

The solution is a cloud operations management and orchestration platform which provides end-to-end visibility for your multi-cloud environment. 

The solution can convert raw data into an easy to read format through its monitoring and intent-based analytics. 

Users can monitor real-time performance for data center and campus networking devices using OpenConfig and the Junos Telemetry Interface. It supports a mix of bare metal systems in private cloud, virtual machines in OpenStack and containers in “Kubernetes” environments.

AppFormix can also track and analyze programs which are operating in public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

The platforms user interface is easy to navigate. It includes automated in-service installation and operation alarms. It can connect into existing Nagios plug-ins.

AppFormix allows users to set business outcomes. The platform can identify issues and automatically implement corrective actions based upon them.

Potential subscribers need to contact Juniper Networks for pricing.

Image credit: IBM

IBM Cloud Orchestrator serves the cloud management needs of enterprises. It was launched in 2014.

The platform is designed to automate the provisioning of cloud services using policy-based tools. Users can configure, provision, deploy, integrate and add service management. Users can utilize the interface to manage, monitor, backup and secure applications.

Users can use the tool to view how resources are being utilized and the costs associated with using them.

The self-service portal can be extended through API’s and augmenting tools. Users can deploy in multi-node applications. The platform offers insights on virtual and physical infrastructure along with chargeback costs so as to ensure you do not go over budget.

IBM Orchestrator is available in two custom priced packages. They both offer a customizable self-service portal, advanced orchestration platform, IT processes automation, support for VMware and multi-cloud management. Users need to contact IBM directly for more information.

Some reviewers have noted reporting issues but these are by far the exception.

Image credit: Cloudyn

Microsoft Azure Cost Management is licensed by Cloudyn, a subsidiary of Microsoft.

It is a cloud spend monitoring platform. It allows users to monitor, allocate and optimize cloud costs. Users can collate cloud usage and billing data through API’s from Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. Users gain insights in relation to cloud resource consumption and costs across different cloud services from one location.

Azure Cost Management ensures that users do not go beyond their budget by monitoring expenditure in real-time. It also offers users access to a forecasting feature which reads historical data to improve accuracy.

Users can allocate costs to teams and projects. Azure Cost Management also allows users to create budget thresholds which raise an alarm when a project is at risk of going over budget.

Azure Cost Management is free to existing customers and partners.

Image credit: Morpheus

Morpheus is a unified multi-cloud orchestration platform aimed at connecting developers to self-service infrastructure. It was founded in 2010. Clients listed are HSBC, Arris and McDonalds amongst others.

The platform offers users analytic features which provide insight into cloud spending. This allows users to compare costs as they use various cloud infrastructures and resources.

Users can build service catalogs, complex multi-cloud structures and access stack visualization tools. Users can also govern and control access to cloud-resources using multi-tenant policies. Users can connect service catalogs to ServiceNow, create policies for workflows and keep track of configurations management activities.

Morpheus enables teams to set policies for handling service requests, scheduled automated clean-up activities and pause services during off hours.

The platform integrates with developments tools which manage source code, executing, deploying code and monitoring app performance. Users can access repositories from GitHub and Git. They can also deploy containerized applications using tools such as Kubernetes.

Users can request a demo and pricing information directly from Morpheus.

Online commentators have complained that customer service is not always up to scratch.

Image credit: Pixabay

Other cloud orchestration options to consider

Advances in cloud technology have led to a profusion of cloud service providers. Sometimes the biggest difficulty is finding one that fits, especially if you need to manage legacy IT infrastructure while migrating services to the cloud, or if your company is having to manage multiple clouds and hybrids. Here we are highlighting some additional companies worth looking at if you need help orchestrating your cloud IT needs.

Embotics is a leader in Gartner's magic quadrant for cloud management platforms, providing services to companies such as NASA, and data center outfit Flexential. Its main offering is vCommander, which offers both easy deployment as well as extensibility to fit an enterprise's unique needs. 

Cloudbolt offers enterprise hybrid cloud platforms which aim to make self-service and scalability easy. It's especially geared towards orchestrating diverse IT infrastructures, particularly where legacy services need to be integrated into existing and future-planned platforms, not least using multi-cloud and hypervisor management.

RightScale offers a simplified cloud platform to manage existing or new workloads across any cloud or server. It boasts a very wide range of support integrations, including AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, VMware, and OpenStack, to name just a few. Even better, not only can RightScale offer managed and professional services, but also worldwide implementation.

VMware's vRealize Suite is another hybrid cloud management platform for orchestrating multiple clouds, not least major cloud systems such as AWS, Azure, and Google. It provides native integrations across the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) elements, for computing, networking, storage, and management. 

OpenStack isn't so much a cloud management provider as an open source software solution for creating public and private clouds. This means that rather than rely on a third-party to try and simplify the process for you, you can work with the code directly to customize a solution that works for your specific needs. Naturally, bear in mind that you will need the relevant expertise to achieve this.

Categories: Tech News

Windows 10 May 2019 Update hits worrying stumbling block with USB drives

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:49

Those trying to upgrade to the latest update for Windows 10 are finding their PC is being blocked from making the move if they have an external USB device or an SD card plugged into their machine.

Why? It seems that the May 2019 Update – which is still in the final stages of testing, ahead of an expected release in May, naturally enough (probably later in the month) – is suffering from a problem whereby all drives can be inappropriately reassigned different letters if USB devices or SD cards are connected to the PC.

As you’re probably aware, Windows gives every drive attached to a computer a letter, whether that’s an internal hard drive or SSD, optical drives, or indeed external drives such as USB sticks.

And when upgrading to the May 2019 Update, it’s possible that these drive letters can be changed, with potentially nasty side-effects.

Microsoft explains: “Example: An upgrade to the May 2019 Update is tried on a computer that has the October 2018 Update installed and also has a thumb drive inserted into a USB port.

“Before the upgrade, the device would have been mounted in the system as drive G based on the existing drive configuration. However, after the upgrade, the device is reassigned a different drive letter. For example, the drive is reassigned as drive H.”

Internal hemorrhaging

The real sticking point is that this reassignment of drive letters isn’t limited to removable hardware such as USB devices, but internal hard drives can also be affected. In that case, you can imagine the potential damage when the PC is looking for files on a certain drive which are no longer there because it has been reassigned a different letter – or indeed if your system drive succumbs to this fate, heaven forbid.

So you can understand why Microsoft has blocked upgrades in the case of computers with such USB devices attached. Those who wish to upgrade their preview version of Windows 10 can currently get around the block simply by unplugging any external USB devices or SD cards, and restarting their machine, whereupon the May 2019 Update should become available.

Presumably, the issue whereby internal drives are reassigned a different drive letter can’t occur if there are no external devices plugged in.

Of course, this problem should most definitely be solved (we would hope) by the time the May 2019 Update is released to the general computing public. The last thing Microsoft needs is another disastrous issue like the file deletion problem which hit the infamously bug-plagued October 2018 Update, particularly as Microsoft has vowed to get things right this time around.

Microsoft observed: “This issue will be resolved in a future servicing update for Windows 10. For Windows Insiders [preview build testers], this issue is resolved in build 18877 [which is still to be released] and later builds.”

Via The Register

Categories: Tech News

Google Pixel 3 Lite release date, price, news and leaks

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:42

Update: Yet another Google Pixel 3a leak has shown up online, giving us another glimpse at what the handset may look like when it does launch.

The Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are the heavily rumored, mid-range variants of the search gaint's Pixel line of smartphones.

Set to come in at a more affordable price point, but still will a focus on the great photography skills of their pricier, more powerful siblings, the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL launch could be just weeks away.

There are plenty of Google Pixel 3a leaks floating around the web, with specs and images of the device (along with the Pixel 3a XL) giving us a pretty good idea of what we may be able to expect when they do finally arrive.

Originally rumored as the Google Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite, the handsets would break the trend of exclusively high-end devices bearing the famous brand's name, with the latest installments to date being the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL.

We've collected all the latest news, leaks and rumors here and will add to this article whenever new information emerges. So read on for all the information so far on the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, when you might see them, and what they might cost.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Mid-range variants of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
  • When is it out? Launch could be in May at Google I/O
  • What will it cost? Maybe $400-$500 (roughly £315-£390, AU$550-AU$690)
Google Pixel 3a release date and price

Hottest leaks:

  • Pixel 3a launch date: rumored for May 7
  • Pixel 3a price: could be $400-$500 (around £315-£390, AU$550-AU$690)

The only real release date rumor comes from reliable leaker Roland Quandt, who, back in June 2018, said that a mid-range Pixel device was scheduled for launch during the first half of 2019.

However, that does co-inside nicely with Google's I/O conference which runs from May 7 - May 9, and a much more recent leak from Evan Blass shows an image of the handset with May 7 on screen - a potential nod to the Google Pixel 3a launch date.

It's a date that makes sense for another reason too, as Google is unlikely to launch it too late in 2019 or it could clash with the Pixel 4 range. Though of course it's always possible that it could land alongside those phones as the Pixel 4a.

As for what the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL might cost, the earliest rumor there puts the smaller variant at between $400-$500 (roughly £315-£390, AU$550-AU$690). We've since heard another rumor that puts it at €450 (roughly $500 / £385 / AU$715), so the two rumors more or less line up.

That adds up, especially as it’s obviously going to undercut the Pixel 3, which starts at $799 (£739, AU$1,199).

The Pixel 3a price should be a fair bit less than the Pixel 3 (pictured). Image Credit: TechRadar

However, there’s an outside chance that you won’t be able to buy it, as an early report suggested that the phone was aimed primarily at emerging markets like India.

But that report is old and didn’t specifically say that the phone wouldn’t get a global launch. With such a big name attached to it we’d think it would probably be widely available.

Google Pixel 3a design and display

Hottest leaks:

  • A 5.56-inch 1080 x 2160 screen
  • Similar design to the Pixel 3
  • A plastic build

There's been a high volume of Google Pixel 3a leaks, and a video apparently showing the handset from various angles gave us a good look, before it was removed from YouTube.

The video claimed that the Pixel 3a is made of plastic and you can see that it has a 3.5mm headphone port and that the speaker is on the bottom edge rather than the front.

The video also says that it has a 5.56-inch, 1080 x 2160 screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a pixel density of roughly 434 pixels per inch.

While there video may no longer be viewable, a number of leaked images supposedly showing the Pixel 3a have also emerged over recent months, such as those in the gallery below, which show it alongside various other handsets.

You can see from these that it’s smaller than the Pixel 3 XL, bigger than the iPhone XS and around the same size as the iPhone XR. You’ll also note that while there’s no notch there is a sizeable bezel both above and below the screen.

It's a design that leaves the Pixel 3a looking a lot like the standard Pixel 3 from the front, while from the back it has a two-tone color scheme like the rest of the Pixel 3 range, in this case in two shades of white (though another source has said to also expect black and iris/purple shades). It also has a rear fingerprint scanner.

Another leaked image shows the Google Pixel 3a next to the standard Google Pixel 3. They look similar, though the Pixel 3a is possibly slightly bigger.

That’s no surprise, as according to an earlier leak which included both images (shown below) and specs, the Pixel 3a has a 5.56-inch screen, which is slightly bigger than the 5.5-inch screen of the Pixel 3.

Though the Google Pixel 3a apparently uses LCD rather than OLED. It’s also said to have a 1080 x 2280 resolution, a 444ppi pixel density (much the same as the Pixel 3) and a plastic rather than glass back. 

It’s seemingly codenamed Sargo and, as you can see in the images below, appears to have a 3.5mm headphone port.

While we’d take these leaks with a pinch of salt, the photos all look convincing and all match up with one another, as does the video, so there’s a good chance this really is the Pixel 3a that we’re looking at.

They also line up with the most recent Google Pixel 3a image leak, from reliable Twitter leaker Evan Blass who posted the following shot.

Google Pixel 3a camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • The same 12.2MP rear camera as the Pixel 3
  • A single-lens 8MP front-facing camera
  • A 2,915mAh battery

From the images and video above, you can see that the Google Pixel 3a has just one camera lens on the back and one on the front. That’s different from the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which both have two front-facing cameras.

However, the Pixel 3a is rumored to pack the same great 12.2MP lens on the rear as the rest of the range. We’ve also seen camera samples supposedly taken using the phone, which you can see below.

The same source as those samples says that the phone has an 8MP front-facing camera. This is likely the same lens as one of the selfie cameras on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The source doesn’t say which lens the Pixel 3a is lacking, but we’d expect it will be the wide-angle selfie lens that’s absent.

However, there’s more at play in photo quality and camera modes than just the lens. The Google Pixel 3a is sure to have a less powerful chipset than the rest of the range and therefore also a lower-end image signal processor (ISP).

So don’t be surprised if its camera isn’t ultimately as capable as the snapper on the Pixel 3. That said, the same source had previously said that the camera on the Pixel 3a would be just as good as on the rest of the Pixel range. Though it’s not clear whether they’re just talking about the lens there or about the whole experience.

As for the battery, that’s supposedly 2,915mAh, which would make it exactly the same size as the one in the standard Google Pixel 3. We’ve heard that size from two sources now, with one adding that the longevity of the phone is also similar to the Pixel 3.

Google Pixel 3a OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • A Snapdragon 670 chipset
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB of storage

The earliest Pixel 3a leaks pointed to a Snapdragon 710 chipset, an assertion backed up by a possible Geekbench score for a larger XL model of the Pixel 3a, though a recent rumor said it would get a slightly lower-end Snapdragon 670. These are both mid-range chipsets though.

We’ve also heard rumors of 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and – unsurprisingly given this is a Google device – no microSD card slot. Having said that, a newer rumor suggests there will be 64GB of storage, and that there probably won't be a 32GB model.

In any case, being a Pixel handset this is sure to run pure Android 9 Pie (assuming Android 10 isn’t out by the time this launches) and get day one updates to new versions of the operating system.

Categories: Tech News

Most targeted platform: Microsoft Office facing cyber threats

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:30

Among the many operating systems (OS), Microsoft office is the leading platform being targeted by cybercriminals when carrying out attacks. The number of cyber attacks has increased, and Kaspersky Lab researchers stated it in the annual conference, Security Analyst Summit held in Singapore.

Among the few, Alexander Liskin, Boris Larin and Vlad Stolyarov projected that the threat has increased in the past two years and have highly pressured users to keep their software up-to-date and to avoid downloading and opening files from untrusted sources to reduce the risk of virus and malware infections. 

The report claims more than 70% of the entire attacks Kaspersky Lab caught are targeting “Microsoft office,” amongst which only 14% take advantage of browser issues. Not long ago, it was the opposite as Web-based loopholes accounted for 45% of the total attacks while Microsoft had a smaller share of 16%.

However, Researchers state that hacking browser has been a difficult task and browser creators are putting extra effort into different security options to keep Microsoft safe. Researcher Liskin further said, there are more reasons why the cybercriminals opt to attack Microsoft as it offers and supports different kind of file formats, that is rooted in the “Windows” operating system.

Microsoft Office vulnerabilities

When the giant Microsoft introduced ‘Office,’ the design was not based on the security aspect; instead on the feasibility. The researchers also pointed out that the worst exploited issues present in the past two years were not included in the MS Office but in the smaller components of it. 

Two major vulnerabilities included: 

  • CVE-2017-11882 
  • CVE-2018-0802

These two bugs are the worst of their kind found in the Equation Editor. Cybercriminals use them because these are found in majority of the ‘Microsoft Word’ released in the past decade. Also, exploiting these vulnerabilities does not require extensive knowledge and skill as the Equation Editor binary lacks current protective methods. 

Image Credit: Flickr

Utilizing Internet Explorer to penetrate Office

In light of the issue occurred, there is another surprising vulnerability which is (CVE-2018-8174). This particular vulnerability was present in the Internet Explorer but was found in the “Microsoft Office files” that made it very unusual. Larin said, the shady file was sent as an obfuscated RTF document, and the first ever hack that used Internet Explorer to hack Microsoft Office. 

The process of this serious infection goes through three steps:

First, the victim of the process opens a malicious file. Right after opening the file, the victim enters the second stage as the file is downloaded that contains the HTML page infected with VBScript code. The third stage is the “use after free UAF” vulnerability that uses shellcode. 

UAF bugs is a common memory corruptor that has previously been successful in exploiting browsers and injecting malware into it. This process works by ‘referencing memory’ after it has been opened (freed) that ultimately causes the browser software to crash which gives room to the hacker to inject the code. This is a cruel way to harvest and takes control of the browser which makes it dysfunction while running.

There is a common dilemma which users fail to understand. Every search that we make on the browser is recorded in the form of a cache or cookie. These cookies are at the back end of the browser which can be seen and used against the user to target ads. Users are advised to avoid the above habits and to consult online privacy and security settings to make sure they know what they are getting into. 

This can also help in preventing fraudulent issues in the Microsoft Office. 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Cybercriminals taking advantage of Microsoft vulnerabilities

Larin, Liskin, and Stolyaroz emphasize on the cases they have studied because it's alarming how the cybercriminals operate and hack Microsoft Office. A majority of the incidents start with one of Microsoft Office Suite “zero-day.”  As soon as the hack goes public, the exploit later appears on the Dark Web as well. 

With the CVE-2017-11882 code, the process becomes faster as it was the first Office Equation Editor that was found by the Kaspersky Lab researchers. Unless Microsoft comes with a solid fix, the Microsoft Office vulnerabilities will become persistent and common in the future as more hackers will target the platform. 

As a solution, it is always advised to continually keep a check on the software updates and keep automatic updates switched on. The update will allow fixing the loopholes present in the browser in the form of bugs and malware. 

Further, keep a close eye on suspicious files received through email as opening those email or email attachments will inject a malicious virus in your browser. Just as Gmail hosts a feature where it automatically notifies suspicious emails, users need to be sure before opening a link if that source is trustable or not. 

The future of the Microsoft Office remains uncertain as the issues discovered by researchers pose a significant threat to files and services connected and linked to “Office.”

Terry Higgins, Marketing Director at AllBestVPN

Categories: Tech News

Ford's self-braking shopping cart will stop your little ones ramming strangers' shins

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:29

Ford has created a shopping cart with automatic braking to stop kids ramming it into shelves, signs, and other customers.

You were probably guilty of doing it yourself – getting a good run-up, then leaning on the handle of the cart and coasting along like a supermarket superhero. Great fun, until you collide with an elderly shopper or a stack of cereal boxes you were too short to see.

The futuristic looking self-braking cart is fitted with sensors to detect obstacles, and automatically slows down to avoid hitting shoppers and shelves.

Safer shopping

The cart is the latest in a series of concept designs that pluck Ford's driving aids from its cars and put them to use elsewhere. Past projects have included the lane-keeping bed, which detects when your partner has strayed onto your side and shifts them back, and the noise-canceling kennel, which blocks out loud noises like fireworks that could alarm your pet pooch.

In this case, the design is inspired by Ford's Pre-Collison Assist technology, which is available in most models and uses a forward-facing camera and radar to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in the road. When a person is detected, the system warns the driver and applies the brakes automatically if they don't respond in time.

The cart is only a concept for now, so it won't be appearing in stores just yet, but it's interesting to see other ways in-car tech could be used to solve problems away from the streets.

Categories: Tech News

BioWare has delayed Anthem's Cataclysm event

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:03

BioWare may have just released the latest big patch for Anthem, adding a new Stronghold and implementing some much-needed quality-of-life improvements, but every rose has its thorn. 

In a Reddit post titled 'Update on Anthem from the Development Team', BioWare addressed what the team has learnt from Anthem's rocky launch and announced the delay of some upcoming features - including the Cataclysm event.

"We have learned a lot since the game went live," BioWare wrote in the post. "We have heard a lot of feedback from all of you, and we have been working diligently to improve as many things as we can in the short term.

"We’ve fixed a lot of bugs and made changes which we believe begin to point us in the right direction for the future. That being said, we know there is a long way to go before Anthem becomes the game we all want it to be."

However, working on bug squashing and general improvements has meant that BioWare isn't on track to hit its goals for its Act 1 Calendar. 

"We have been prioritizing things like bug fixes, stability and game flow over the new features of Act 1," BioWare wrote. 

"We set aside time for this work, but the reality is there are more things to fix and improve than we planned for. While this is the best thing to do for the game, it means some items from the calendar will be delayed."

So what is being delayed?

According to BioWare, the following features are being delayed: Mastery System, Guilds, Legendary Missions – Phase II, Weekly Stronghold Challenge, Leaderboards, some Freeplay Events, and Cataclysm. The exact details of some of these new elements remains to be revealed, too, and it now seems we'll have to wait a little longer to see exactly what they entail.

BioWare hasn't revealed when we will be seeing these delayed features, instead saying it's talked about things "too early".

"The only thing we can say is this – We Believe in Anthem," BioWare wrote. 

"We believe the game will be great, but we recognize getting there will take a lot of hard work. We want to do that work and we want you all to join us on the journey to get there."

Categories: Tech News

Fan of the Alien movies? Then you really need an Audible audiobook subscription

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 07:03

If you're a fan of the Alien film franchise, you've probably been lamenting its demise ever since James Cameron's Aliens hit cinemas way back in 1986. The films since that classic sequel have...not been good. To put it mildly.

Things could have been oh so different though – acclaimed sci-fi author William Gibson wrote a script for the divisive Alien 3 that was never produced, but has lived on in infamy as having actually been rather good. That version of Alien 3 may finally be getting the recognition it deserves, and it's all down to audiobook subscription service Audible.

The Amazon-owned service is, according to Bloody Disgusting, working on an audiobook version of William Gibson's script as part of the franchise's 40th anniversary celebrations.

Fan service done right

It's not looking like a simple cash-grab either, with the production set to include the voice work of Michael Biehn. Fans of the series will recognise him as Corporal Hicks, a fan-favorite character who is cruelly...sidelined when the silverscreen version of Alien 3 kicks off.

William Gibson's version of the story gives Hicks a much larger role, with it focusing on the survivors of Aliens, including Ellen Ripley, holed up in something like a space commune, where they learn about the threat of a corporation looking to make an army of the evil Xenomorph creatures.

Audible is lining up the Alien 3 audio play for a May 30 release, and can be pre-ordered now. If you can't wait for that, Gibson's script has also recently been turned into a comic book series – you'll have to do Michael Biehn's cool-as-ice voice in your own head though.

Categories: Tech News

Xiaomi launches Redmi 7 and Redmi Y3 in India

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:45

Xiaomi has announced entry-level Redmi 7 alongside the selfie-centric Redmi Y3 in India. While there's little difference between both the phones, they cater to a wide range of audience. Redmi 7 is for the everyday user who's a bit on the budget whereas the Redmi Y3 aims to provide the best selfie in its segment.

Redmi Y3 specifications, price and availability

Xiaomi claims to have sold more than 7 million units of Redmi Y series in India. The series was unveiled almost two years back and the Y3 builds on it.

Redmi Y3 features a 6.26-inch HD+ IPS panel with a u-shaped waterdrop notch on the front. The screen is topped by a layer of Gorilla Glass 5 for added protection. Xiaomi has gone forward with its new gradient design that we have previously seen on its Redmi Note 7 series. The back panel also curves a bit towards the sides and merges into the chassis of the Y3.

It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 chipset with an octa-core CPU and runs on MIUI 10 which is based on Android 9.0 Pie. 

Coming to the camera department, the Redmi Y3 has a 32MP front-facing camera which is double than what the Y2 offered. This makes the sensor almost 22.5% larger than the previous one. Xiaomi has also worked on its artificial intelligence-based optimizations for pictures and the Y3 comes with AI Beautify 4.0. In addition, the selfie camera on the Y3 supports Auto HDR, Full HD video recording supported with EIS, 360-degree face unlock and screen flash. The front also offers an 80-degree field of view, allowing users to capture a wide frame with more people.

On the rear, the Redmi Y3 has dual camera setup which consists of a primary 12MP sensor assisted by a 2MP depth sensor. The back camera is able to detect 33 different scenes and optimizes the picture according to preset functions. It can also record Full HD videos at 60 frames per second and supports EIS. Additionally, the camera app has built-in Google Lens but it is not known whether it will be seeded to more phones.

As for the battery life, the Y3 has a 4,000mAh battery which can easily power the phone through the day and then some. Xiaomi claims that the Redmi Y3 can easily run YouTube for 9.5 hours, Instagram for 10 hours and play Asphalt 8 for upto 9 hours on a single charge. To avoid damage by regular splashes of water, the Y3 has P2i hydrophobic coating and watertight seals along with all its ports.

Xiaomi has announced two variants of the Redmi Y3- 3GB RAM + 32GB storage priced at Rs 9,999 and 4GB + 64GB model at Rs 11,999. The first sale is scheduled for April 30 from 12 noon on Mi India Store, Amazon India and Mi Home.

Redmi 7 specifications, price and availability

Image Credit: Xiaomi India

The Redmi 7 is an entry-level smartphone by Xiaomi which has almost the same hardware as the Redmi Y3 except for the selfie camera. It has an 8MP selfie camera and flaunts a new gradient design, taking cues from the Note 7 series.

As for the price and availability, the Redmi 7 will be available in two variants- 2GB RAM + 32GB storage priced at Rs 7,999 and a model with 3GB RAM priced at Rs 8,999.

Redmi 7 goes on sale for the first time on April 29 at 12 noon across Mi India Store, Mi Home and Amazon India.

During the announcement, Xiaomi also revealed that it has successfully inaugurated 1,000 Mi Stores across 19 states and 300+ cities in India. To further increase their offline sales, Xiaomi announced Mi Studio stores in Bengaluru and Mumbai that essentially provide a mini Mi Home experience to customers. Xiaomi aims to open over 10,000 offline stores in India by the end of 2019. 

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft Paint hasn’t been canned – will remain a default Windows 10 app

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:37

Fans of Microsoft’s age-old Paint application can breathe easy, because it has been confirmed that the program will remain included as part of the default raft of apps in Windows 10 – at least for the time being.

This is according to Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager in the Windows Insider team, who shared the news in a tweet.

The ‘1903’ referred to simply means the next major update for Windows 10 – the May 2019 Update – so Paint will remain a part of the operating system with that upgrade, and presumably for some time into the future (whatever ‘for now’ means).

Change of heart

This was kind of expected, since just a couple of months back (in February 2019), one observant Windows 10 tester noticed that the warning that Paint would “soon be replaced with Paint 3D” disappeared from the preview versions of the operating system. That quickly prompted speculation that Microsoft had changed its mind, which has proved to be the case.

Previous to that, Microsoft had listed Paint as a deprecated app, and the idea was to drop it from the line-up of Windows 10 default apps, encouraging users to adopt Paint 3D instead (but still offering the original Paint as a download from the Microsoft Store).

Those who appreciate the streamlined and straightforward nature of Paint – which has been present in Windows since 1985 – will doubtless be pleased to see official confirmation that it’s still incorporated by default in Windows 10, at least in the immediate future.

The old app doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Paint 3D, of course, but for some, those trimmings just get in the way, and the more lightweight Paint app can be fired up to perform simple jobs in a quicker fashion.

Via PC World

Categories: Tech News

Our contradictory relationship to data privacy

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:30

For some time now, governments have been blurring the lines between privacy and national security. In 2013, ex-CIA systems analyst Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA, a US intelligence agency, was collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans. 

As Snowden’s leaks continued, it soon transpired that as part of its Prism surveillance programme, the NSA was tapping directly into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Microsoft and Google to gather intelligence on Americans’ behaviour and interactions. What’s more, Snowden further revealed that the UK’s intelligence organisation, GCHQ, was also using Prism to gather similar information and was able to monitor up to 600 million communication a day.

Since then, the abuse and misuse of communications data are believed to have been instrumental in affecting the outcome of both the 2016 US presidential election and the Vote Leave Brexit campaign, and have been an important contributory factor in establishing stringent data privacy legislation such as GDPR. 

All of this is public knowledge. But despite the extensive column inches these stories have received, most have yet to change our habits, continuing to carry at least one device capable of listening to our conversations, broadcasting our exact locations, and tracking us as we move. And many of us willingly allow them to do so in trade-off for the convenience and benefits they offer. So just how concerned are we about the use and abuse of our personal data? 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Signing away our privacy

Earlier this year, we conducted a survey of 4,000 consumers across the globe to measure their confidence in their own privacy and security practices, as well as those of businesses. The report, ’The Blinding Effects of Hubris on Data Privacy’, found that 87 percent of people don’t feel confident sharing their personal data online. Social media platforms are especially distrusted, with 95 percent of the survey’s respondents expressing some concern. And it’s numbers like this, as well as the threat of criminal action, that have led tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple to increase their security provisions when it comes to protecting user data.

However, despite the majority of people having such obvious reservations around allowing online companies to collect our personal data, particularly when we’re unsure what they intend to do with it, most of us are doing little to actually prevent them from doing so. Indeed, we’re more than happy to agree to sign our privacy away in exchange for the services they offer rather than read all 20 pages of an End-User Licensing Agreement (EULA). This thesis was proven in a 2017 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which found that “whereas people say they care about privacy, they are willing to relinquish private data quite easily when incentivised to do so.”

Complex and contradictory

We clearly have a complex, contradictory relationship with privacy. Whether it’s pizza, as in the case of the MIT study, or something more esoteric, such as the results of a personality quiz, we appear to be all too willing to share our personal information in exchange for some form of incentive. Indeed, it was through such a quiz - ‘This Is Your Digital Life’, a third-party app on Facebook – that Cambridge Analytica was able to illegally harvest the details of over 87 million users, many of whom were simply friends of the individuals that took the quiz and had not actively opted-in to the data sharing disclosure that quiz-takers had. 

Given our apparent willingness to exchange our personal data for even menial rewards, we have to consider whether we’re actually getting a fair deal. Moreover, if platforms such as Facebook and Twitter purport to be free, should we even have to give them anything in order to use them? And if we don’t, are we prepared to endure the increasing number of ads they post in order to make up for the revenue they’re missing out on by not selling our information? Fundamentally though, there is a huge gulf between our intentions and our actions. We therefore need to ask ourselves whether, despite the majority of consumers expressing concern, people actually care that much about their online privacy. 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Challenges and opportunities

Recent events such as the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook scandal, the high-profile data breaches that continue to hit the headlines, and the introduction of GDPR, have resulted in data privacy becoming as much of a boardroom issue as cyber-security. 

But while certainly a challenge for businesses, data privacy can also present a significant opportunity to improve the customer experience they offer. After all, given the level of mistrust expressed by consumers with regard to the way large corporates handle their data, those businesses that can be seen to be protecting their customers’ data, and communicating precisely how it will be used, will be viewed far more favourably, like Apple, for example. And, of course, in the long run, consumers are likely to be significantly more loyal to a company that’s seen to be taking responsibility for their online privacy, rather than one with a more laissez-faire attitude.

Looking to the future

Whatever steps businesses take to manage it, the issue of data privacy is unlikely to become any less complex in the foreseeable future. The quid pro quo nature of our relationship with social media platforms especially, means it’s virtually impossible for a typical user to remain completely anonymous online. The onus is on all businesses, therefore, to be mindful of the way they use and store the data they collect, how this can impact their customers, and the importance to society of ensuring they respect and protect that data. This may become a key differentiator when it comes to the ethos of companies and their corporate social responsibility efforts. 

We can’t know what the future holds. Facebook, for example, has only been around for 15 years and its use of data has already rewritten the rulebooks many time over. 

Generations Z and Alpha are digital natives – exchanging data for incentives is second nature for them. But for how much longer? Might one of these be the generation that puts its money where its mouth is, and takes back control of its privacy? Businesses of all sizes must remain aware of this very real possibility, and start taking steps to ease the process for everyone concerned.

Adam Kujawa, Director of Malwarebytes Labs at Malwarebytes

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Categories: Tech News

Huawei Mate X reportedly still on track for June release despite Galaxy Fold issues

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:15

The issues surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Fold could well be a cautionary tale for other phone manufacturers looking to launch a foldable phone in 2019, but apparently the Huawei Mate X is still on track.

Huawei's first foldable phone is, according to sources inside the Chinese firm who spoke to MyDrivers, still on track for a June release - although the firm is yet to give us an exact date in the month for the handset's arrival.

The insiders were reportedly responding directly to rumors which suggested Huawei would delay the launch of the Mate X until September in light of the problems of the Galaxy Fold, but they claim this is false.

Folding into first place

If Huawei does put the Mate X on sale in June, it could steal Samsung's thunder by being the first foldable phone you can actually buy and take home - although it also runs the risk of struggling to convince consumers to part with a huge amount of cash (it's €2,299, which is about $2,600, £2,000, AU$4,700) for a form factor that's already run into trouble with the Galaxy Fold.

The Huawei Mate X is arguably a more attractive and appealing device however, with its bendable display folding around the outside of the handset, rather than folding in on itself.

It does raise questions about durability, with nothing to protect the screen when folded away, which means Huawei may have to do a big push on the reliability of its first foldable phone.

We have contacted Huawei for comment on its plans for the Mate X release and we'll update this article once we know more.

Via PocketNow

Categories: Tech News

Samsung Galaxy Fold’s failings could be hard to fix

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:05

You’ve probably seen by now that the Samsung Galaxy Fold seemingly has a durability problem, and enough of one that Samsung has delayed shipping the device to give it time to fix the issues – but a new report suggests the issues might not be easy to fix.

iFixit (a site with plenty of experience of taking apart and repairing phones) has posted some theories as to why the Samsung Galaxy Fold might break so easily, and one of things it notes is that OLED screens – which are the only kind that can be used in a folding phone – are inherently very fragile.

That’s a problem which doesn’t sound easy to solve, and it’s not the only potential issue, with the site adding that OLED can react to “prying, moisture, oxygen or nearly anything”, and that the design of the hinge likely allows dust to interfere with it.

Another, more avoidable, issue is the removal of the protective covering on the screen. It’s a cover that Samsung didn’t intend people to remove, but perhaps the company didn’t make that clear enough. However, iFixit notes that it’s not just the absence of the cover that could cause problems, but the pressure applied in removing it.

iFixit also theorizes that the robots Samsung used to fold the phone thousands of times as part of its testing process would likely do so in the same way every time, whereas humans will be using differing amounts of pressure and hold the Galaxy Fold in different positions.

Finally, there’s seemingly no pre-scored line down the middle of the display, the absence of which potentially helps it look like one big screen rather than two separate panels, but on the flip side this means that pressure from folding could be applied to many areas, rather than a single thin crease, which could cause issues.

A foldable problem

It’s worth noting that all these theories are simply educated guesses. iFixit doesn’t have a Galaxy Fold of its own to test them out on, but it does have the expertise to make these sorts of guesses.

And if it’s right then that could be a problem for Samsung, and for folding phones in general. Many of these issues sound like they may not be fixable without substantially changing the design of the Galaxy Fold, while others may be tricky to fix on any folding phone.

Hopefully Samsung finds a solution, or our folding future could get off to a bumpy, breakable start.

Via AndroidAuthority

Categories: Tech News

Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge steps down

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 06:01

Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge will step down as CEO on June 11 and will be replaced by Lutz Schuler.

New Zealand-born Mockridge had held his position since Liberty Global acquired Virgin Media back in 2013 but now wants to return to Italy with his family. Mockridge had been chief executive of Sky Italia between 2003 and 2008 and his wife is an Italian citizen.

Under his tenure, Virgin Media has embarked on the single largest network expansion in the company’s history and has transformed Virgin Mobile into a ‘thick’ Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that gives it more control over the service.

Virgin Media Mockridge

“I want to thank Tom for his tireless commitment to transforming Virgin Media since we acquired the business in 2013,” said Mike Fries, Liberty Global CEO. “Under Tom’s leadership, operating cash flow increased 35% and Virgin Media is now recognized as the leader in ultrafast broadband, the best entertainment and superior quality of service.

“While he will be spending more time in Italy, I’m sure he will remain close to the action in our industry for a long time to come.”

“It has been a privilege to lead Virgin Media over the past six years,” said Mockridge.

The succession plan appears to have been in place for some time, with Schuler joining Virgin Media as chief operating officer in September 2018. Previously, Schuler had spent eight years running Liberty Global’s cable interests in Germany.

Schuler’s priority will be to oversee the completion of Project Lightning as well as the possible transformation into a wholesale communications provider. It had been reported that Liberty was considering a move into wholesale but there are no concrete plans to do so.

“I am thrilled to be leading Virgin Media,” said Schuler. “After seven months working in our operations, I am more excited than ever about our continued growth potential with the customers and communities we serve in the UK and Ireland.”

“Lutz is an outstanding leader and operator,” added Fries. “During his eight years in Germany, Lutz led a talented team and created significant value. Since joining Virgin Media last year, he has made an immediate impact, uniting the team around a clear strategy for continued, best-in-class growth in the UK and Ireland. Tom, Lutz and I have prepared for this moment for some time now, so Lutz will hit the ground running from day one.”

Categories: Tech News