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November, 2013

Switching from iPhone to Android? Switch off iMessage

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

HTC One top

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, wrote a much derided 900-word guide to switching from iPhone to Android the other day. I should have read it more closely, because in there – aside from the slightly eccentric suggestion that you email your photos from one phone to the other – is a very useful nugget of information about iMessage.

I made the switch from the iPhone 4s to an HTC One at the weekend, and while the transition has been remarkably smoothly, one thing I didn’t notice until I switched my iPhone back on last night was that I’d been missing out on text messages, because I neglected to switch off iMessage on my old handset.


Why is Google pumping more money into Firefox?

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Google search on Firefox

Something quite extraordinary has happened to Mozilla. The Firefox maker’s revenue has almost doubled from $163 million in 2011 to $311 million in 2012, according to financial statements released last week.

What’s so strange? Well, Mozilla is almost entirely reliant on Google for its income. In fact, 90% of Mozilla’s revenue comes from the income generated by Google being the default search engine in Firefox, with Google paying Mozilla a fee for the referrals generated.

So why did Google’s payments to Mozilla increase so significantly?


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Posted in: Newsdesk


Sky Broadband Shield review

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Photo 15-11-2013 12 27 45

Sky has this week become the second major British ISP to launch a network-level content filter, with the Sky Broadband Shield. As a Sky customer and parent of two young girls, I was keen to find out whether it was any better than TalkTalk’s pioneering, but largely ineffective, HomeSafe.  So, performing the same tests that we used in our recent round-up of parental control software, I set about Sky’s filters.

On the face of it, the Sky Broadband Shield could barely be easier to set up. You login at, click on the Broadband Shield section and choose from three levels of protection: PG, 13 or 18. Being a network-level service, the filters apply to any device connected to the home network – there’s no way to include or exclude specific laptops or smartphones, for instance.

Sky warns that the filters may take a few minutes to take effect. What it doesn’t warn you is that you have to clear your browser’s cache for the filters to work properly. An hour after switching on the filters on my laptop, I was still able to access Facebook, while the social-networking site was blocked when I tried to access it from a cleaned browser on my Windows 8 tablet. Non tech-savvy parents could easily be caught out.


Posted in: Newsdesk


Samsung Galaxy S4: how to double your battery life

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

DSC_1191I love my Samsung Galaxy S4, but I don’t love its battery life. Samsung advertises “up to eight hours” of active use, but when I’m sitting on the tube playing a game, and my phone is constantly searching for a mobile signal that isn’t there, I swear that battery meter ticks down by 1% a minute. Having paid for a premium smartphone, I hate feeling like I have to carefully ration my use of it.

I can’t blame Samsung. You won’t do much better with a Nexus 5 or an HTC One. There seems to be an industry-wide consensus that slimness is king. Your phone might run out of juice by sundown, but while it’s spending the evening conked out in your pocket, at least it won’t ruin the line of your trousers.


Motorola Moto G review: first look

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The popularity of the Google Nexus range and Nokia’s low-cost Lumias is proving that there’s a great appetite for more affordable, yet high-quality smartphones, and that’s something Motorola is hoping to tap into with its new Moto G.

Launched today in Brazil, the 8GB version of the Moto G will be available in the UK for a dirt cheap £135 SIM-free, and yet it isn’t short on features.


Posted in: Random


IBM Watson meets Willy Wonka

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Question key

Forgive me for a bit of speculation here: I’ve spent a couple of hours in the company of the IBM team behind Watson, the cognitive computing brontosaur which, in 2011, famously won the US game show Jeopardy against two human competitors, in what had all the appearance of a fair fight.

This represented a reasonable test of an entire suite of processes, for breaking down a human language question into a search and then marshalling multiple potential answers into a ranked set of probabilities of being the answer, if not necessarily the one the human was expecting.


Google’s support policies shove users towards Chrome

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Road closed

Google has announced that it will stop supporting Internet Explorer 9 with Google Apps, meaning users of Microsoft’s ageing browser will likely lose access to key features.

It’s not clear exactly what functionality IE9 users will surrender, but a support page on Google’s site claims that “unsupported browsers” will only be able to access Calendars in read mode and the basic HTML version of Gmail (although given that descendants of Picasso now appear to be in charge of the regular Gmail interface, that may not be such a bad thing).

Google’s announcement on dropping support for IE9 claims there’s nothing pernicious going on here, merely that it’s the continuation of a long-stated policy to support only the past two versions of major browsers. Now Microsoft’s unveiled IE11 with Windows 8.1, it’s time to push IE9 off the cliff. “End users who access Gmail and other Google Apps services from an unsupported browser will be notified within the next few weeks through an in-product notification message or an interstitial pages with information about modern browsers and how to upgrade to them,” Google’s blog post states.







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