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March, 2013

Flipboard 2.0: we’re all magazine editors now

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Photo 27-03-2013 10 11 11

I used to be a heavy user of Flipboard, an innovative iOS/Android app that turned your Twitter, Facebook and other news feeds into a stylish, flickable magazine-style format.

In recent months, I’ve edged away from Flipboard in favour of semi-rival Zite, largely because it was better at anticipating content from other sources that I might want to read, instead of merely sprucing up the presentation of my existing feeds.

However, a feature in the newly released Flipboard 2.0 has piqued my personal and professional interest in the app once more. Flipboard now allows users to become their own magazine editors (yes, I can feel that noose tightening around my neck), selecting content from different sources and presenting it in their own bespoke titles.

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Posted in: Software

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Government-funded Wi-Fi on trains: who benefits?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Train blur

“Industry sources” have told The Guardian they expect the 2013 budget to include money to install wireless networks in trains, allowing commuters and travellers to get online with non-cellular devices. Currently, less than half of the UK’s 25 rail franchises offer internet onboard. It’s unclear whether the government plans to fund Wi-Fi on all trains, or whether it intends to make wireless internet access free across subsidised services.

As The Guardian points out, pricing for Wi-Fi access on British trains is currently in a state of disarray. It can be free – travellers on the Heathrow Express don’t have to pay a penny, for example, and passengers on the Chilterns mainline also benefit from free web access. Very often, though, internet access is either locked down to everyone, or provided free only to passengers who have coughed up for first-class tickets.

Virgin Trains makes passengers in the cheap seats pay an outrageous £4 per hour. Elsewhere, frequent commuters can pay Greater Anglia trains £209 per year for Wi-Fi access, while East Midlands Trains makes a statement by allowing first-class users online for free, but charging those in standard seats £299 per year. Of the nine rail franchises that offer internet access, four ask for money in return.

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Posted in: Newsdesk

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Is Apple rattled by Samsung? Let’s hope so

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The new anti-Android page at the Apple website

Defensive, prickly and occasionally flat-out disingenuous, Apple’s attempt to swing undecided buyers to the iPhone is great news. For Android users, it confirms that the long wait for an alternative mobile platform that you can bring home to your parents is almost over. Apple’s anti-Android potshots are an indication that Android has finally come of age for consumers.

That’s good news for everyone. If Apple now sees Android as a real threat, it will have to find ways to stop users drifting away. In the long run, Apple on the back foot should mean nicer, better-value products. In the short term it means snippy, linkbait anti-Android marketing barely worth the HTML it’s written on – but still, Apple’s rattled. That can only be a good thing.

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Windows Phone 8 support and the deafening FUD

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Nokia Lumia 610

Some websites appear to be using the Excel Web App to help them write their stories on the revelation that Microsoft plans to stop supporting Windows Phone 8 in less than two years’ time, putting two and two together and coming up with five.

The incriminating evidence, dredged up from a nether region of the Microsoft Support site, shows that support for Windows Phone 8 is due to expire on 8 July 2014 – less than 18 months from now and (oddly, at first appearance) before support for Windows Phone 7.8 expires in September 2014.

Some of our more excitable colleagues at rival publications (I shan’t name them, they don’t deserve the Google juice) have suggested that this means Microsoft is yanking the carpet from underneath Windows Phone buyers again, and that customers who buy a Windows Phone today will be using an unsupported OS by the time their two-year contract expires.

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Samsung just cut Google out of Android

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 white

In this month’s PC Pro, our Talking Point asks whether Samsung’s Galaxy brand is now bigger than Google? Had we written that after last night’s launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, I suspect the conclusions would have been rather different.

Make no mistake: Samsung just shafted Google. The company spent about 10% of last night’s launch event talking about the new hardware, and the remainder of “the show” unveiling a phalanx of new services, many of which fall into direct competition with Google’s own. Android has effectively become a piece of open-source firmware on Samsung’s latest handset, not the money-generating gateway to services that Google intended it to be.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 launch event: as it happened

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 black

Samsung has launched the Galaxy S4 handset in New York. Below, you’ll find a transcript of our live blog from the event with all the key details of the hardware and new services that were announced during the show.

Our run-down of the Samsung Galaxy S4 specs gives you in-depth details of the specifications and features of the new flagship handset.

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Four alternatives to Google Reader

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Google’s plans to shutter Google Reader will bite on 1 July, and anyone who hasn’t migrated their carefully-assembled collection of RSS feeds by then will have to start all over again.

The activist-minded can add their voices to a 30,000-strong petition, begging Google to keep Reader going, but the more pragmatic should accept defeat and start looking at ways to port their RSS feeds to different services.

Here are four go-to alternatives to Google Reader to consider:

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Dell XPS 18 review: first look

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

dellxps1817

The Dell XPS 18 joins the Asus Transformer AiO and the Sony VAIO Tap 20 in the growing portable all-in-one market, and Dell reckons it has the march on its rivals – the XPS is both slimmer and lighter than its competitors.

The XPS 18 is around 20mm thick, and it weighs 2.1kg – making it 300g lighter than the Asus, and less than half as hefty as Sony’s 5.1kg VAIO. That’s especially impressive considering a battery has been crammed in too  - if the XPS 18 can live up to Dell’s claims of five-hour battery life, it will double the Sony’s longevity. (more…)

OneTab: the end of Chrome memory leaks?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

OneTab might just be the Chrome extension that boosts the productivity of PC Pro. Sat next to me all day is Nicole Kobie, PC Pro news editor and rapacious harvester of browser tabs. Every time she sees a news story she might like to follow up on, she leaves it open in a browser tab, opens a new one and continues her hunt. By the end of the day her browser window looks something like this:

Chrome browser tabs

That’s the point where she starts thumping her desk in frustration and uttering profanities in that charming Canadian drawl of hers, because the 37 open tabs have brought her bedraggled PC to its knees. What’s more, she hasn’t got the first clue what’s hiding beneath all those tabs because all she can see is the favicon.

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Posted in: Software

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Home working vs the office: the final word

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Marissa Mayer

MIT’s Bill Aulet kicked off his SXSW session – 1 Coffee Pot, Many Disciplines: Why Space Matters – with a simple question: who agrees with Marissa Mayer when she demands that all Yahoo staff must work in the company office?

The yeses went first. I kind of agreed, but not enough to put up my hand. Then went the nos. I was closer to no than yes, so I put up my hand. But it took the rest of the talk to make me realise quite why I was so hazy on the matter.

Let me quote you the most pertinent paragraph from the leaked Yahoo memo:

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”

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Posted in: Random

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