DigitalOutbox Episode 239

We are back! Chris and Ian discuss the weeks news and catch up on Mobile World Congress, Game Developers Conference and the Apple Keynote. It’s a long one!

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Picks
Ian
Cities: Skylines
– £22.99
– Mac, PC, Linux
– Sim city builder
– Addictive and you need a bit of strategy especially around transport
– Some bits tedious – water and sewers done manually, demolition of abandoned buildings
– Overall awesome 🙂
– Mods
– Custom buildings, fixes etc
– Save Games
– GTA map, completed cities
– Maps
– Many towns from around the world
– Can make your own

DigitalOutbox Episode 202

DigitalOutbox Episode 202
DigitalOutbox Episode 202 – Facebook buys Oculus, MS Office for iPad

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0:51 – Facebook buying Oculus VR for $2 billion
8:14 – Twitter introduces photo tagging, multiple photos in a single tweet
10:29 – Google Now Comes To Chrome On The Desktop For Windows And Mac
11:25 – Announcing the Office you love, now on the iPad
15:17 – UK telecoms watchdog says BT was most complained about broadband and pay TV provider in Q4 2013
17:17 – The new HTC One
20:23 – Tax change could hit music and e-book downloads
22:15 – UK games developers get cash boost
23:34 – Xbox One users to begin receiving warnings for bad behaviour online

Picks
Chris
Chromecast
– £30
– Simple
– Works well so far but with limited options
– Always on is at first annoying, but then it’s always there ready to cast

DigitalOutbox Episode 159

DigitalOutbox Episode 159
DigitalOutbox Episode 159 – Google Store, HTC One and Facebook celebs

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1:33 – Mayor Pumps $33M Into London Startups With New MMC London Fund
4:30 – HMV branches sold to Hilco, saving 141 branches
6:31 – LulzSec hacktivists plead guilty to cyber-attacks on NHS, Sony and NI
8:14 – Google store updates
11:22 – 4G mobile broadband speeds ‘doubling’, says EE
14:32 – HTC – Great One reviews, poor profits
18:06 – Samsung unveils 6.3in Galaxy Mega smartphone
21:48 – Facebook starts charging users up to £11 to contact celebrities
23:41 – Apple Pulls App Discovery App ‘AppGratis’ From App Store
28:05 – Googles New Inactive Account Manager Gives You Control Over Your Digital Afterlife

DigitalOutbox Episode 142

DigitalOutbox Episode 142
DigitalOutbox Episode 142 – Sinofsky leaves Microsoft, Windows Adverts and Liveblog Wars.

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6:57 – Windows head Steven Sinofsky leaves Microsoft
10:47 – Windows 8 Hidden Feature
16:07 – Realtime War
18:06 – Government services go digital
21:53 – Queen chooses Samsung
23:39 – Judges tear into Apple
25:21 – Apple and HTC settle patents litigation
28:43 – UK 4G Auction Rules detailed

Picks
Ian
Evernote
– New updates for iOS and Mac
– Easier to use
– Nice looking Mac app now

100000 Stars
– Nice app for Chrome browsers

Chris
Curiosity – what’s inside the box?
– Intriguing game for mobile devices
– Someone will eventually find whats inside the box – will it be you?

DigitalOutbox Episode 135

DigitalOutbox Episode 135
DigitalOutbox Episode 135 – iOS6, Maps and UK Pirates

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2:31 – Manchester is the UK piracy capital
– Manchester has been named the piracy capital of the UK, according to a new study seen exclusively by the BBC. The research said there were more illegal downloads per person in the city than any other in the country, followed by Nottingham and Southampton.
– The statistics, from monitoring service Musicmetric, conclude that in the first half of 2012, UK users illegally shared over 40 million albums and singles.
– The data, collected independently by Musicmetric and seen exclusively by the BBC, is believed to be the biggest analysis of its kind to be conducted.
– Globally, the research suggested that the UK is a significant player on the world stage as a country of illegal music downloaders. The country was placed second in the world in terms of pure volume of illegal activity, with Musicmetric logging 43,263,582 downloads in the first six months of this year.
– The US topped the list, with 96,681,133 downloads tracked in the same period. Italy (33,158,943), Canada (23,959,924) and Brazil (19,724,522) made up the remainder of the top five.
– Musicmetric’s findings said that singer Ed Sheeran was the most pirated act in the UK for the first half of 2012, followed by hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks and Barbadian megastar Rihanna. The data suggested that Ed Sheeran’s 2011 album + (Plus) was illegally downloaded an average of 55,512 times every month, and was the most popular download in over 460 towns and cities in the UK.
– Legal UK sales of his album in the first half of 2012 hit the 448,000 mark – making it the fourth most popular album behind releases from Adele, Emeli Sande and Lana Del Rey.
6:44 – Amazon brings Cloud Player music service to the UK
– Amazon Cloud Player now live in the UK as of now, offering 5GB of online storage and the ability to stream 250 of your tracks (or 256Kbps matched versions) to a range of devices free of charge. Adding extra storage will cost from £6 per year for 20GB, rising to £320 p/a for a full terabyte. If you’re a heavy user, though, you may also need to fork out £22 p/a for the right to stream up to 250,000 of your tracks.
9:11 – iOS6 – updated maps disappoint
– iOS6 released
– 200 new features – allegedly
– Maps is one of the high profile changes
– Replaces Google maps with Apple’s own version
– Cleaner look, free navigation, 3d maps for a few select citites
– Local transit features gone
– Many satellite images are poor especially across the UK
– Searching is poor or worse innacurate
– Among the user complaints regarding Apple’s maps sent to the BBC were:
– Users have complained about the quality of satellite images in the new software (bottom)
– Some towns appear to be missing, such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Solihull.
– Others, like Uckfield in East Sussex, are in the wrong location.
– Satellite images of various locations, particularly in Scotland, are obscured by cloud.
– A search for Manchester United Football Club directs users to Sale United Football Club, a community team for ages five and above.
– Users also reported missing local places, such as schools, or strange locations. Another screenshot showed a furniture museum that was apparently located in a river.
– But don’t worry – Apple want US to fix it – http://www.imore.com/how-add-location-or-report-problem-ios-6-maps
– Crowd sourcing will address the shortfalls over time
18:34 – Record preorders for the boring iPhone 5
– Apple today announced that it managed to rack up 2 million pre-orders for the iPhone 5 in 24 hours, two times as many as it managed for the iPhone 4S last year, which sold over 1 million devices during its first 24 hours of pre-order sales. That’s a new record, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been watching the progress of iPhone pre-order sales since the device originally hit the market.
– The iPhone 4S eventually went on to sell more than 4 million devices over the course of its first weekend actually on store shelves, so expect the iPhone 5 to blow past that milestone, too. The iPhone 5 is initially available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K., adding two new countries (Hong Kong and Singapore) to the list of launch regions for the iPhone 4s, so expect that to influence early sales as well, especially since Hong Kong is a popular destination for those looking to resell the iPhone at a premium on the grey market in China.
20:22 – HTC Windows Phone 8X
– HTC is unveiling its flagship Windows Phone 8 handset today, the Windows Phone 8X. The branding might sound Microsoft-like, but there’s a good reason for that — the two companies have joined forces on a marketing campaign that will make HTC the face of Windows Phone 8.
– The 8X will ship in a choice of four colors in early November, ones that represent the bold colors of Windows Phone 8. California Blue, Graphite Black, Flame Red and Limelight Yellow will all be available — with accent colors in the Windows Phone 8 interface to match the hardware color. European operators will only stock blue, black, and yellow versions — and while HTC refused to reveal which operators will stock each color, it insisted that it is not restricting colors to certain carriers at this time. The 8X takes advantage of a 4.3-inch 720p HD super LCD 2 display with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and NFC support.
– HTC is shipping Beats Audio support on both of its Windows Phone 8 handsets, with an extra amplifier for audio out on the 8X to power larger headphones in the Beats range without distortion. A notification will launch the Beats Audio app on Windows Phone 8 once headphones are plugged in, allowing users to turn the Beats integration on or off.
– On the camera side of things, HTC has opted to include an 8-megapixel shooter on the rear of the device with the usual LED flash. That’s a fairly standard affair for most flagship smartphones these days, but HTC has gone one step further with the front facing camera. A 2.1-megapixel camera is available for Skype or forward facing shots, with an f/2.0 lens and BSI sensor to help with low-light shots. The 88 degrees wide angle lens will also work well for forward facing group shots and 1080p video recording.
23:11 – MS Employees to get Surface Tablet
– Microsoft has found an eager early audience for its Windows-8-powered Surface Ultrabook: its own employees.
– The software giant is reportedly giving each of its 94,000 full-time staff a Surface computer for work and home use, in a gesture of mass Windows 8 munificence announced at the company’s annual staff meeting in Seattle’s KeyArena.
– Employees are also getting new Windows Phone 8 handsets – a repeat of the giveaway Microsoft made of phones running Windows 7.
24:07 – Yahoo replace RIM smartphones
– New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer just sent an email to all of Yahoo’s full time and part time employees in the US, promising them a new Apple, Samsung, Nokia, or HTC smartphone.
– We learned about this plan from an internal memo, which we received from one source and confirmed with another.
– Through the program, Yahoo employees will have a choice of phones: iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, HTC EVO 4G LTE, or Nokia Lumia 920.
– Yahoo is also going to pay its employees data and phone bills.
25:20 – Twitter hearts Facebook
– Changes to profiles and mobile app’s ape Facebook
– Starting today you can make your presence on Twitter more meaningful with new Twitter profiles. Upload an all-new header photo on mobile apps for iPad, iPhone and Android or twitter.com, and the same image will appear whenever anyone views your profile on the web or these apps. You can upload your header photo, which appears above your Tweets, to express yourself instantly, anywhere.
– New profiles also help you get to know people better through their pictures. Photo streams now appear below anyone’s most recent Tweets on iPhone, Android and iPad. Swipe through the stream to see the photos other users have shared or tap any thumbnail to view their photos in fullscreen.
– While the header photo keeps your profile simple and consistent on iPhone, iPad and Android, you will also still have an additional photo – a background photo – on twitter.com. Upload a background image to complement your header and profile photos.
28:51 – Google acquire Snapseed
– Google has agreed to acquire Nik Software, the German developer of photography app Snapseed, for an undisclosed amount. Sources close to the deal tell The Verge that while Nik Software produces all sorts of apps for photographers like Color Efex Pro and Dfine for Mac and Windows, iOS app Snapseed was the golden egg in the acquisition. The $4.99 app won Apple’s coveted iPad App Of The Year award in 2011 for its inventive multitouch photo editing interface, and gaines over nine million users during its first year on sale. Nik Software also sells Snapseed for Mac and Windows, and the company is apparently working on an Android app as well.
– “We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone,” Google+ boss Vic Gundotra wrote in a blog post. Snapseed is no Instagram in terms of popularity, but the two apps’ use of filters and various means of manipulating images serve a similar purpose. The portion of Nik Software that worked on Snapseed, which includes the company’s San Diego outpost, will relocate to Google headquarters in Mountain View to work directly on Google+, sources say.
29:37 – BBC announce new media player and updates for iPlayer on Android
– The BBC has confirmed plans to launch a new version of its iPlayer app for Android devices which will use its own BBC Media Player technology to securely stream audio and video, replacing Flash on android
– The technology, which was developed in-house at the BBC’s Future Media division, is already being used for the mobile website version of iPlayer according to a blog post by executive product manager Chris Yanda.
– “Next week we plan to release a new version of BBC iPlayer on Android which will use this player. Other applications and websites will follow,” he writes, before telling Android owners that “I want to reassure you that Android is an important platform for us”.
31:33 – New slimmer PS3
– The PS3 Even Slimmer takes up just three-quarters of the space the PS3 Slim does. It’ll come in 12GB and 500GB capacities, Sony said today at the console revamp’s Tokyo Game Show debut.
– The former contains Flash storage only – though Sony will offer a 250GB HDD add-on. It’s aimed at folk keen to use the PS3 as a media player.
– The 500GB PS3 will arrive on 28 September, priced at €299 (£240) and bundled with Fifa 13. The 12GB model will cost €229 (£184) and will arrive on 12 October.

Picks

DigitalOutbox Episode 114

DigitalOutbox Episode 114
In this episode the team discuss Project Glass, Privacy and Apple woes

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0:58 – Girls Around Me
– When you load it up, the first thing Girls Around Me does is figure out where you are and load up a Google Map centered around your location.
– It’s when you push the radar button that Girls Around Me does what it says on the tin. I pressed the button for my friends. Immediately, Girls Around Me went into radar mode, and after just a few seconds, the map around us was filled with pictures of girls who were in the neighborhood. Since I was showing off the app on a Saturday night, there were dozens of girls out on the town in our local area.
– These are all girls with publicly visible Facebook profiles who have checked into these locations recently using Foursquare. Girls Around Me then shows you a map where all the girls in your area trackable by Foursquare area. If there’s more than one girl at a location, you see the number of girls there in a red bubble. Click on that, and you can see pictures of all the girls who are at that location at any given time. The pictures you are seeing are their social network profile pictures.”
– Tap on a girl – Girls Around Me quickly loaded up a fullscreen render of her Facebook profile picture. The app then told me where Zoe had last been seen (The Independent) and when (15 minutes ago). A big green button at the bottom reading “Photos & Messaging” just begged to be tapped, and when I did, I was whisked away to Zoe’s Facebook profile.
“Okay, so here’s Zoe. Most of her information is visible, so I now know her full name. I can see at a glance that she’s single, that she is 24, that she went to Stoneham High School and Bunker Hill Community College, that she likes to travel, that her favorite book is Gone With The Wind and her favorite musician is Tori Amos, and that she’s a liberal. I can see the names of her family and friends. I can see her birthday.”
– While the app is bad, this is a wake up call for privacy on social sites
– Data was publicly shared by these girls – du to Foursquare and Facebook allowing friends to sign them in, they might not realise that their friends are sharing their location
– Lot’s of fallout – Foursquare suspended the app’s API access
– Apple then withdrew the app from the app store – actually the app developers did, not because of the -ve publicity but due to the API restrictions. The app no longer worked.
– Developer defends app – it was about venue discovery, not girl discovery – http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/03/31/girls-around-me-developer-defends-app-after-foursquare-dismissal/
4:02 – Govt plans increased email and social media surveillance
– Ministers are to introduce a new law allowing police and security services to extend their monitoring of the public’s email and social media communications, the Home Office has confirmed.
– It is expected that the new system will allow security officials to scrutinise who is talking to whom and exactly when the conversations are taking plac, but not the content of messages.
– Labour tried to introduce a similar system using a central database tracking all phone, text, email and internet use but that was ditched in 2009. It followed concerns raised by internet service providers and mobile phone operators over the project’s feasibility, and anxieties over who would foot the bill.
– The coalition’s proposals are likely to be introduced in the Queen’s speech on 9 May and will centre on internet service providers gathering the information and allowing government intelligence operatives to scrutinise it.
– “It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public,” said a Home Office spokesman, who said the plans would be brought forward “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.
– Internet service providers are obliged to keep details of users’ web access, email and internet phone calls for 12 months, under an EU directive from 2009.
– Although the content of the calls is not kept, the sender, recipient, time of communication and geographical location does have to be recorded.
– The proposed new law – which the Home Office says will be brought in “as soon as parliamentary time allows” – would extend those requirements to social networking sites and internet phone services such as Skype.
– It would also reportedly allow intelligence officers to access emails, calls and texts as they happen, without a warrant, rather than retrospectively.
– Overzealous civil servants driving policy?
– Lib dem briefing doc – https://docs.google.com/file/d/1_wMtlFHrktpyOEFSkRSmBnOBPYDkPF6y-gL7Es_h0tu58aPVeHq9p45ulRcX/view?sle=true&pli=1
– Also, Gove fought to keep his e-mails private in early March
– http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17235168
– *** How would this work in practice? What about data that is held on servers overseas? Surely that can’t be part of this?
10:02 – Twitter suing spammers
– Twitter is officially putting its foot down and enlisting the help of the federal courts, filing a suit in San Francisco today against its five most aggressive spammers. In pursuing legal action, Twittersaid in a statement on its blog, it believes it’s going “straight to the source”.
– By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter … While this is an important step, our efforts to combat spam don’t stop here. Our engineering team continues to implement robust technical solutions that help us proactively reduce spam.
– Finally doing something about spam?
– Annoying thing is a spammer is so obvious – why is it down to users to report?
13:29 – Game rescued
– The administrators of Game Group have announced that the 333 of its UK shops that are still open have been sold to OpCapita.
– The agreement will safeguard the jobs of nearly 3,200 Game Group employees. A small number from head office who were previously made redundant may also be re-employed.
– OpCapita is a private investment firm specialising in retail. It has set up a company called Baker Acquisitions to buy the shops.
– Former Halfords Group chief executive David Hamid, now a partner at OpCapita, has been appointed chairman of Game. A chief executive is expected to be named shortly. Ian Shepherd held the role until last week, when he resigned with immediate effect after a two-year battle to turn the company around.
– OpCapita acquired electrical retailer Comet from its owner Kesa Electricals last year for a nominal sum of £2. The financial terms of its Game acquisition have not been disclosed, but it is thought to have paid a nominal sum and taken on the company’s debts.
15:07 – Foxconn audit
– A report into working conditions at Chinese factories operated by anApple supplier has revealed “serious” labour violations, including excessive hours, unpaid wages and major health and safety risks.
– The Fair Labor Association (FLA) said employees at Foxconn, which produces products including iPhones and iPads, typically worked more than 60 hours a week during peak periods but were paid unfair compensation for overtime.
– Around two-thirds of workers told investigators that their take-home pay was insufficient to meet basic needs.
– In addition, 43% said they had witnessed an accident at work, leading to fears of poor safety provisions at the plants.
– The (FLA) was asked by Apple to investigate working conditions at Foxconn after reports of long hours and poor safety.
– The FLA says it has now secured agreements to reduce hours, protect pay, and improve staff representation.
– Apple said it “fully accepted” the report’s recommendations. “We share the FLA’s goal of improving lives and raising the bar for manufacturing companies everywhere,” it said in a statement.
– Of course, some employees aren’t happy with the reduction in money:
-“We are here to work and not to play, so our income is very important,” said Chen Yamei, 25, a Foxconn worker from Hunan who said she had worked at the factory for four years.
“We have just been told that we can only work a maximum of 36 hours a month of overtime. I tell you, a lot of us are unhappy with this. We think that 60 hours of overtime a month would be reasonable and that 36 hours would be too little,” she added. Chen said she now earned a bit over 4,000 yuan a month ($634).
17:58 – iPad Wifi Issues
– Besides the supposed third-generation iPad charging and overheating issues, the iPad WiFi issues were noted by the media during the past couple of weeks. Apple has taken notice and has admitted internally to some new iPad models having the WiFi issues described in numerous reports and on forum threads. The company says “symptoms can include, but are not limited to: intermittent connectivity, slow WiFi speeds, and WiFi network not seen.”

– Apple tells AppleCare employees to ensure that devices they test are not facing these issues due to normal software bugs, but instead because of the actual hardware components.
WiFi-only third-generation iPads are the only devices affected by these issues, according to Apple. The 4G LTE models are presumably safe from these issues due to the extra network power allowed by the black rubber cut on the top of the unit.
19:44 – Mac trojan affects 600000
– Apple released a Java 1.6.0_31 update for OS X on Tuesday that claims to deliver “improved compatibility, security, and reliability.” The patch closes multiple vulnerabilities found in Java 1.6.0_29, the most serious of which allows malicious code to be executed just by visiting a compromised website. The update is available from Software Update on any Mac running Mac OS X v10.6.8, Mac OS X Server v10.6.8, OS X Lion v10.7.3, or Lion Server v10.7.3.
– Russian security firm Doctor Web claims that attackers began to exploit the Java vulnerability on March 16th which Apple closed with the release of the Java update on April 3rd. Dr. Web now estimates that about 600,000 Macs, most of which reside in the US (55 percent) and Canada (19.8 percent), are now infected members of the Flashbackbotnet. The company also notes that some four million compromised web-pages could be found in Google search results at the end of March with some users claiming infection by visiting sites as mainstream as dlink.com.
– Security company F-Secure has instructions for detecting and deleting the Flashback botnet on infected computers.
22:47 – Project Glass
– Glasses not for sale but Google has begun public testing of it’s augmented reality glasses
– The prototype version Google showed off on Wednesday looked like a very polished and well-designed pair of wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The glasses can stream information to the lenses and allow the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. There is also a built-in camera to record video and take pictures.
– This is the future…or is it?
– On sale this year – Google says unlikely
28:06 – HTC One X and S Launched
– O2, Vodafone, Three, Orange, and T-Mobile are all taking orders for the brand new One X and One S Android 4.0 smartphones from HTC. As usual, Three will give you the most for your money, though O2’s new On & On tariff — which the company describes as its best ever — is also worth a look, costing you £36 per month over a two-year contract, but also giving you unlimited minutes and the One X for no upfront cost. Should you be more inclined to buy the handset by itself, Amazon will sell you an unlocked and SIM-free One X for £489.99
– The One X got some great reviews – best phone you can buy today – http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/2/2919202/htc-one-x-review
29:35 – Instagram launches for Android
– The app adds creative, nostalgic filters to your pictures and makes sharing them easy (almost addictive).
– You can add effects to a picture you take with your front or back camera or choose a picture from your gallery. There are a number of custom filters and borders to choose from, including several ’70s effects and a black and white effect. Instantly upload the photo to your Instagram account and share it if you please to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare; Flickr is in the works.
– 1 million downloads in a day
– Hated the snobs on twitter – oh no – now I need to see android users photos on instagram
– Now I need to see photos from poor people
31:13 – Olympics Overload
– The BBC will make 24-HD quality live Olympic streams available to cable and satellite providers for the duration of the Olympics Games
– Viewers will be able to watch every Olympic sport, live from every venue, via tools such as Sky EPG and BBC Red Button. Virgin Media and Freesat customers will also have access. This complements previously confirmed plans for 24 simultaneous streams live online on the BBC Sport website.
– 48 new channels will be added to the Sports section of Sky’s EPG from July 24. The channels are free-to-air and available to any Sky home. The HD channels are available on any Sky+HD box and do not require a subscription, but do require an HD ready TV.
– Freesat viewers and Freesat standard definition viewers will also have access to the streams.
33:39 – Virgin throttles all users
– Virgin Media has introduced new throttling “trigger levels” for customers who make heavy use of its network.
– The telco updated its subscriber traffic management (STM) policy yesterday to “ensure the vast majority of customers get the high quality of service they expect from Virgin Media’s fibre optic broadband without being negatively affected by extremely heavy users” at peak times.
– It classified a so-called “bandwidth hog” as a 60Mbit/s customer, for example, who can download 5,000MB of data between 4pm and 9pm on a weekday before having their broadband connection throttled.
– A company spokesman told The Register that around 5 per cent of users would be affected by the STM policy. Those punters can expect to see their speed usage of the network temporarily throttled by 50 per cent.
36:03 – 0x10c
– Next game from Minecraft creator Notch
– Space game

Picks
Ian
Hero Academy
– RPG’ish battle between friends
– Like mini chess
– Seems simple but has real depth due to different factions, characters, powers and upgrades
– Multiplayer – play quickly or over a few days like words with friends
– Now universal – lovely lovely graphics
– Free, but in app purchases to unlock other classes