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Tech support: your horror stories, tips and tricks

May 28th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

frustrated

Have a bit of tech savvy? Do your friends and family know it? Then you’re likely used to acting as unofficial tech support, taking calls at all hours to fix wobbly internet connections, or offering step-by-step instructions to turning a laptop on and off again.

You’re the one carefully explaining Heartbleed to confused friends who saw conflicting headlines about password resets, and warning parents to change login details on Ebay.

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Posted in: Random | 28 Comments »

eBay hack: Are tech giants above the law?

May 23rd, 2014 by Jane McCallion

Fine

Earlier today, the information commissioner admitted that doling out a fine to eBay for losing 145 million customer records will make little difference to the company.

While in theory a breach like this means that “your brand is trashed”, many tech companies are too big and too successful for any monetary penalty to make a real dent in them. That’s especially so for a company like eBay that has no real competitor. Any damage to the brand will be minimal and transient.

It doesn’t help that data breaches are hardly exceptional events. As consumers we’re all too accustomed to hearing that one of our tech providers has suffered a data breach. We read the news reports, sigh, change our passwords and move on.

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How to lose a business customer on the web

May 23rd, 2014 by Steve Cassidy

OverworkedPeople talk about Net Neutrality a lot. The fear is that a two-tier (or four-tier or six tier…) internet will develop once the floodgates are open, so that internet businesses can develop cosy preferential relationships with their most profitable partners, relegating all others to less well serviced, lesser performing backwaters that don’t get the offers or find themselves cut out of all sensible forms of communication.

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Posted in: Rant | 5 Comments »

Your right to a private life extends to your email

May 21st, 2014 by Barry Collins

Man at screen

This may cost me some friends and a place on Germaine Greer’s Christmas Card list, but I have some sympathy for Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive who’s been castigated for sending sexist emails.

A friend of mine is a largish cheese at a well-known broadcasting company. Recently, we were arranging a curry night with some pals over email, exchanging the normal “banter” that passes between a group of friends who’ve known each other for years, when said broadcasting exec suddenly felt the need to inform us that – like Scudamore – his PA had access to his inbox.

There was nothing particularly off-colour in the email exchanges, certainly nothing comparable to the comments that have had Scudamore dusting down his CV this week, but the tone of the conversation changed immediately. Dialogue that would be utterly harmless between friends who’ve known each other since university, who know each other’s sense of humour and when someone is being ironic, was suddenly unacceptable when his PA was potentially reading the exchanges, too.

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Adobe Voice: a simple, free iPad app for making explainer videos

May 9th, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

photo

With no fanfare at all, Adobe has released a curious little iPad app called Voice – a very simple presentational tool for putting together “explainer videos”. You might not be familiar with that term (I wasn’t), but the style is instantly recognisable: we’re talking about those jaunty little shorts in which a disembodied voice, dripping with warmth and earnestness, talks the listener through the basics of a project or proposition, normally over a bed of plinky-plonky ukulele music.

The software itself works similarly to PowerPoint; your video comprises a series of pages, onto each of which you place a graphic, or some text, or a combination of the two. Then, you hold down the record button to lay down a voiceover for each page using the iPad’s built-in microphone – and you’re done. As workflows go, it doesn’t get much simpler than this.

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Hello Cortana, it’s nice to meet you

April 23rd, 2014 by Jonathan Bray

Cortana in action
Microsoft made great play of Cortana when it announced the Windows Phone 8.1 update at Build at the beginning of April. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now — a voice-activated “personal digital assistant” for the Windows Phone operating system.

Predictably, great things are promised of this new technology. It’s based on Bing and the TellMe voice technology acquired by Microsoft in 2007, and according to Windows Phone vice-president Joe Belfiore it will be “the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something”.

Over the past couple of days we’ve been getting to know Cortana to find out if Microsoft’s boasts have any grounding in reality. Read more

Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender

April 11th, 2014 by Barry Collins

Windows 8.1 Update

Microsoft has become the Manchester United of the technology industry. After dominating for much of the 1990s and 2000s, it’s now suffering a crisis of confidence, crippled with uncertainty when it steps out on to the pitch. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Windows 8.1 Update, or Windows Compromise Edition – Wince for short.

In an effort to appease the Windows 8 haters, Microsoft is backpedalling furiously. You don’t like the Start screen? We’ll just hide that out of the way and pretend it never existed (on laptops and desktops, at least). You want the Start button back? You can have that next time. At this rate, we’re going to have rolling hills in the desktop background, IE6 set as the default browser, and a free trial of AOL waiting on the desktop of Windows 8.2.

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The insane economics of Sky Now TV

April 9th, 2014 by Barry Collins

Sky Now TV

A few months ago, after one price rise too many and a waning interest in top-flight football, I decided to cancel my subscription to Sky Sports.

I still get the urge to watch the odd game, and so this weekend – with my once-beloved West Ham giving title-chasing Liverpool a hoof for their money – I decided to investigate Sky Now TV, the broadcaster’s internet TV service. After ten minutes, I was left scratching my head at the sheer insanity of its pricing.

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No such thing as a free app… so pay up if you want quality

April 8th, 2014 by Tim Danton

Adobe Lightroom for iPadTwo weeks after Microsoft unveiled Office for iPad, Adobe has today launched Lightroom for iOS 7. While the two releases do quite different things, they follow the same “gotcha” business model: unless you subscribe to the companies’ premium services (Office 365 for Microsoft, Creative Cloud for Adobe), they’re limited to viewing rather than editing.

Indeed, Adobe goes one step further, explicitly saying that Lightroom for iPad is purely for subscribers to its services. Read more

Time to outlaw crapware-laden installers

April 3rd, 2014 by Barry Collins

Windows UI

Years ago, various regulators tore strips and billions of pounds from Microsoft for bundling applications with its operating system. Today, Windows software is plagued with a far more serious bundling problem that nobody seems to want to do anything about: bundling crapware.

Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to download any kind of free software without the installer trying to sneak some other piece of junk on to your system. Installers have become almost a puzzle game within themselves, in which the user tries to figure out the consequences of pressing a button.

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