Latest MIUI 10 Stable Update for Poco F1 Brings 960fps Slow-Motion Video Recording Feature

Xiaomi is leaving no stones unturned to offer Poco F1 users a better experience. The company has been pushing out software updates to the Poco F1 on a regular basis for a long time now. A new update comes to the phone. The Poco F1 is getting a new update which brings a range of new upgrades to the phone like 960fps video recording and more. To recall, Xiaomi pushed the 960fps video recording feature to Poco F1 MIUI 10 beta users a while back, and now, the update is being rolled out to all the users on MIUI 10 stable build.

miui-10-poco-f1-video-recording

Several Poco F1 users earlier complained about the phone not supporting the required Widewine L1 DRM component which basically ensures HD playback on several video streaming platforms like for example Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. In fact, some Poco F1 users have been suffering from several other problems like screen bleeding, among others. And like always Xiaomi Poco has been great at rolling out fixes to these problems via software updates. The company will reportedly bring the Widewine L1 DRM support to Poco F1 very soon.

Poco F1 Gets January Security Patches

The new software update rolling out to the Poco F1 includes V10.2.2.0.PEJMIXM number but the company is yet to confirm the same. The news of rollout of the software update comes from Xiaomi’s Alvin Tse via a tweet. The new software update will come together with January Android Security Patch which will bring bug fixes and several improvements. The update will bring new features like one of the most awaited of them all — 960fps slow-motion video recording. The software update will also bring improvements to the camera to shoot great pictures and videos in low light situations. Notably, both the aforementioned features are already in the beta stage which means they are coming to all users very soon.

Some reports claim that the 960fps slow motion feature won’t actually be true 960fps but instead will support 240fps video recording. The reports suggest that it could be because of the Sony IMX 363 sensor on the Poco F1 which doesn’t support 960fps slow-motion videos.

Poco F1 Selling at Cheaper Prices

During the Flipkart Republic Days sale, the Poco F1 is selling with Rs 1,000 discount which drops the price of the phone to Rs 18,999. This is for the base 6GB RAM with 64GB of internal storage variant. The Poco F1 was launched for a starting price of Rs 20,999 for the same model. A few months ago Xiaomi dropped the price of all variants of the Poco F1 by Rs 1,000. After the price drop, the Poco F1 now retails with MRP of Rs 19,999.

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How to Secure Sensitive Products During International Shipment

Whether it’s legal documentation, physically delicate items, or specialist equipment, it is imperative to protect sensitive products during shipment –, especially on an international scale.

So, how can we secure that an item remains secure and intact while being sent abroad?

Fortunately, there are three simple ways to make sure.

Secure Sensitive Products

Insurance

A major step in ensuring the safety of your packaged product is to choose the most reliable insurance company to cover any damage or repair costs should any issues arise.

In other words, cover your back, but not just with any agency. If looking to send a specialist type of equipment, go for specialists in the field it belongs to. This way, you’ll know that your insurer has the expertise and required skills to respond to item breakage and damage swiftly and effectively.

With trustworthy experts like Arthur J. Gallagher Services, for example, a sender can secure that marine and shipping equipment of all sizes is insured by sector specialists throughout the postage process.

Equally, if you’re wanting to secure that legal documentation or, say, fragile items remain safe during international shipping, look for insurance specialists in this area for adept support and protection.

Packaging

Identifying appropriate packaging methods can mean the difference between damaged and usable items during international shipment. Obviously, this particularly important when it comes to sending sensitive products of any nature.

Items that require freshness and a consistent temperature throughout the shipping service could benefit from effective packaging methods hugely.

Flowers, for example, can be kept cool with insulated foam containers –a technique that even works in extreme heat. To further heighten the chill factor, include coolants in packaging. Apply this technique to products on a similar level of sensitivity – like food – for the same result.

Packaging ideas like this will ensure that items remain secure despite changes in temperature and location, which can be particularly useful for international shipments.

Choose the right courier

Whether sending a package as an individual or on behalf of a business, the right courier can mean the difference between security and danger. And this is extremely important when you take sensitive data into account. So, to make sure that you select the ideal service, peruse the internet for references and reviews on courier agencies.

Online sources like Trustpilot can prove useful for checking credibility in this area, too. A trustworthy courier will also guarantee that any sensitive legal information remains intact and secure during shipping, both on a national and international level.

With the right knowledge and information, ensuring the safe transportation of a crucial document or delicate object overseas needn’t be challenging. In fact, when you know what to look for in insurance, packaging and a courier service, you can be assured that you are making the right decision when it comes to sending sensitive products to another country.

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Circle’s USDC Stablecoin Fully Dollar Backed, Says Latest Auditor’s Report

Crypto finance startup Circle’s USDC stablecoin was fully backed with fiat reserves at the close of 2018, according to auditing firm Grant Thornton.

The auditor published an attestation report on Wednesday, stating that Circle had $251,211,209 held in custody accounts as of Dec. 31, 2018, against the 251,211,148 USDC tokens in circulation at the time.

Goldman Sachs-backed Circle currently has a total of 353,309,381 USDC tokens on the markets, according to data from Etherscan, indicating it has topped up supply by about 100 million tokens within the last 15 days.

In its report, Grant Thornton noted that its examination “was conducted in accordance with attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.”

The firm’s previous attestation of Circle’s assets back in November also found no issues. Circle had just under $127.5 million as of Oct. 31, 2018, enough to redeem its USDC tokens circulating at the time.

Stablecoin issuers Gemini and Paxos have similarly published supporting attestations from their auditing firms, BPM and Withum, respectively. Gemini had about $91 million in reserves to back its Gemini dollar (GUSD) circulation as of Dec. 31, 2018, while Paxos had about $142 million to back its PAX supply.

While the controversial and the largest stablecoin issuer in the space, Tether, reportedly appears to have had sufficient fiat reserves to back up its USDT tokens during 2018 and 2017, it has failed to produce a full audit from a professional specialist.

US dollars image via Shutterstock 

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Facebook launches its first US podcast with a series focused on entrepreneurship

Everyone has to have a podcast, apparently. Even Facebook. The social network this week launched its second-ever original podcast series, and its first in the U.S. An arm of Facebook’s business operation, the new show “Three and a Half Degrees” will focus on entrepreneurship — specifically the lessons learned, challenges faced and other insights from successful business leaders.

The name is a reference to how technology has made it easier to connect — today, people are no longer six degrees apart, but only three and a half degrees, the company says.

“I consider it part of our mission to help the businesses we work with learn from one another,” explains David Fischer, Facebook’s VP of Business and Marketing Partnerships. “One way we’re doing this is with the new podcast ‘Three And A Half Degrees: The Power of Connection.’ Through the podcast, we hope to celebrate the journeys of entrepreneurs and business leaders on our platform, and scale their inspiring life lessons and learnings to other entrepreneurs and leaders,” he says.

Facebook today has more than 90 million businesses using its platform, so it makes sense that it wants to further establish itself as a place where established businesses can share their knowledge with newcomers. Those smaller businesses could then grow to become a more active part of Facebook’s larger business network, which keeps the cycle — and the ad dollars — flowing.

Fischer will serve as podcast host, and kicks off the first episode with an interview with the creator of TOMS,  Blake Mycoskie, who is introduced on the show to Bryan and Bradford Manning. The Mannings say they were inspired by TOMS to start their own charitable business, Two Blind Brothers. The overall focus for the episode is on brands that prioritize their social mission over profit and growth.

Future episodes will include Monique and Chevalo Wilsondebriano from Charleston Burger Co. and Chris Kempczinski from McDonald’s (episode 2); Stephanie McMahon from WWE and Gary Vaynerchuk from Vayner Media (episode 3); Victor Lezama from PC Landing Zone and Jake Wood from Team Rubicon (episode 4); Suzanne Gildert from Sanctuary and Kindred AI and Beth Comstock, formerly with GE (episode 5); Antionette Carroll from Creative Reaction Lab and Jonathan Mildenhall from TwentyFirstCenturyBrand (episode 6); Ben Rattray from Change.org and advisor Chip Conley (episode 7).

This first season includes these seven episodes and 14 guests, with new episodes arriving every two weeks.

It’s not a long season, and Facebook hasn’t yet confirmed plans to do another, we understand. That makes the “podcast” a bit more like a marketing initiative rather than a serious attempt at entering the podcasting market.

The podcast is also not monetized. The company has no plans to sell ad space within the podcast, either. It will be marketed across Facebook and Instagram.

Though this is the first time Facebook has done a podcast in the U.S., it has experimented in this space previously. Last summer, it tried a similar effort in Australia, where leading marketers talked about connecting with consumers in a podcast called Face 2 Face. That one seems to have even more of a tie to Facebook’s own bottom line. (Connect with consumers? Social ads, of course!).

This one takes a step back from the nitty-gritty of reaching consumers through spending on marketing and ads, but focuses rather on the business leaders themselves.

The vibe of the podcast is one of a highly produced effort. It doesn’t begin as a sit-down, informal back-and-forth chat, but one where pre-recorded interviews are intercut with host narration and storytelling. It’s not until nearly halfway through before the introduction between Mycskie and the Mannings is made. At that point, it shifts from being a sort of NPR-Lite style effort, and one where you’re listening to a conversation — albeit one with a polished, media-trained exec like Mycskie.

Unfortunately, this more compelling part of the program is far too short, and quickly wrapped up with the host summarizing the learnings.

The new U.S. podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and TuneIn.

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BitPay Says It Processed Over $1 Billion in Crypto Payments Last Year

U.S.-based crypto payments processor BitPay says it processed over $1 billion-worth of transactions last year.

Announcing the news on Wednesday, the firm said this is the second consecutive time it’s reached the billion-dollar mark in its over seven years of existence.

“To process over a $1 billion for a second year in a row despite bitcoin’s large price drop shows that bitcoin is being used to solve real pain points around the world,” said Stephen Pair, BitPay co-founder and CEO.

Giving further highlights of the past year, the firm said its business-to-business venture saw revenue growth of about 255 percent year-on-year as new clients including law firms, data center providers and IT vendors signed up to accept crypto payments.

Notable new customers added in 2018 included subscription TV provider Dish Networks, online organization of security experts HackerOne and the U.S. state of Ohio, which became the first state in the nation to allow taxes to be paid in bitcoin back in November.

The firm also added settlement support for bitcoin cash (BCH) and stablecoins from Circle (USDC), Gemini (GUSD) and Paxos (PAX), while its focus still remains on bitcoin (BTC), according to the announcement.

“Bitcoin has the network effect around the world and we are still extremely bullish on bitcoin and the bitcoin ecosystem,” said BitPay head of product Sean Rolland.

During the year, BitPay also raised $40 million in a Series B round, bringing its total capital raised so far to over $70 million.

Bitcoin payments processor image via Shutterstock

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Subscriber Base of Reliance Jio to Cross 300 Million by the End of March 2019: Report

Reliance Jio Infocomm has announced that it has no plans to raise the tariffs as it is already witnessing robust growth in its subscriber base with the current prices along with constant revenue growth, reported ET Telecom. With that announcement, it is clear that Vodafone Idea Limited and Bharti Airtel which are the major players in the industry apart from Reliance Jio are going to have a hard time in recovering their revenues back to the normal levels. Furthermore, it’s also said that Jio’ subscriber base will cross 300 million mark by the end of March 2019 or this financial year.

reliance-jio-subscriber-base-march

Reliance Jio Announces No Plans of Slowing Down and Increasing Revenue

In Jio’s post-fiscal third-quarter earnings meet, many analysts present from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citi Research said that the company executives have made it clear that customer acquisition remains Reliance Jio’s top priority even though it has attained nearly 24% subscriber market share and 26% revenue market share in the Indian telecom industry. The earnings meet was held on Thursday this week.

A Goldman Sacha analyst who was present at the meet said in a note, “Jio has said it will not tinker with tariffs and risk disrupting the strong subscriber (growth) momentum as its focus in the near term remains on adding subscribers.” The brokerage further added that “revenues would stay stagnant for incumbent telcos (read: Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel) until Jio reaches its earlier stated target of 400 million subscribers”.

Reliance Jio Subscribers to Cross 300 Million Mark Soon

Going by the analysts’ words, Reliance Jio’s subscriber base is estimated to reach the figure of 302 million by the end of FY19 judging by the pace of its current customer addition which seems to be somewhere near 9-10 million per month. In comparison to that, Bharti Airtel had 342 million subscribers by the end of November, whereas, Vodafone Idea had 421 million subscribers. However, Bharti Airtel’s subscriber base has remained mostly stagnant or has been dwindling. On the other hand, Vodafone Idea has been losing subscribers rapidly.

Another brokerage firm, Credit Suisse said that Jio’s move to separate its tower and fibre firms into a separate entity which will be able to take investment would bring down the debt levels of the company. This move further strengthens the case that the telecom operator does not plan to raise tariffs any time sooner.

CLSA, another brokerage said that in the first half of 2019 Reliance Jio is likely to sign a deal which will take a big chunk out of the $25 billion debt off of Reliance Jio’s. However, industry experts have asserted that Reliance Jio is not likely to chase customers the way it did in the past two years given its subscriber growth and stable revenue numbers. It is worth noting that if Reliance Jio had decided to increase tariffs, then the incumbents would have a chance to improve their revenues but with Reliance Jio keeping its eyes on subscriber growth; the plan doesn’t seem to be going well for the incumbents.

Incumbents Remain Under Widening Losses

In the upcoming reports, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea both are expected to report losses again, as per an ET poll whereas Reliance Jio has had its fifth consecutive profitable quarter with a 65% on-year jump to Rs 831 crore in its December quarter bottom line while operating revenue climbed 51% on-year to Rs 10,383 crore.

According to the experts, Reliance Jio is going to keep its prices the same way until it stops trailing in comparison to the other telcos in the category A and metro circles, the geographies which account for a whopping 53% of the telecom industry’s adjusted gross revenue or ‘AGR’.

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Best BenQ Monitors You Can Buy In 2019

As one of the biggest names in the monitor industry, BenQ is known to produce great monitors for every user base, including professionals, gamers and casual people. Today, we will briefly review best gaming monitors in 2019 for every one of those different user types.

1. BenQ EX3501R

Ever since it got released, HDR (High Dynamic Range) was a huge deal for most TVs but it took the market some time to realize that best gaming monitors need HDR as well. BenQ EX3501R is one of the first ultrawide HDR monitors in the market for both general entertainment and gaming purposes. The monitor has a 35-inch screen size with a 3440 x 1440 resolution, 4ms response time and 300 nit of brightness score.

It has a VA panel, which is a sweet spot between IPS and TN panels. The monitor’s refresh rate is above the average too, with an impressive 100Hz refresh rate and it supports AMD FreeSync for tear-free gaming. On top of all that, the monitor has a USB-C input in case you want to charge your laptop while using it, or any other device. Ultimately; BenQ EX3501R is one of the best curved gaming monitors out there with HDR.

BenQ EX3501R

2. BenQ PD3200U

BenQ PD3200U is a professional monitor mainly aimed at editors and designers. It does not have any form of adaptive sync support and has various features for different purposes such as Darkroom, CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) and Animation. The monitor has a 32-inch screen size with an IPS panel and native 4K resolution, so the color accuracy, image quality and the viewing angles are fantastic, as it should be on a professional monitor.

As of other standard features, the monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time, 1,000:1 contrast ratio and 350cd/m2 brightness. Despite all this, it is still priced fairly and can even be used for casual console gaming if desired. All in all, PD3200U is one of the best BenQ monitors out there for CAD professionals.

BenQ PD3200U

3. BenQ Zowie XL2730

Contrary to out previous choice, BenQ Zowie XL2730 is a competitive gaming monitor aimed mainly at competitive gamers. The monitor has a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, 1ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate, coupled with AMD’s FreeSync technology; so its gaming performance is truly high and the monitor is fast and responsive, making it fit for fast-twitch shooters like CS: GO and Overwatch.

The monitor has a TN panel, however, which holds its viewing angles and color quality back. Also, its design is quite simplistic for a gaming monitor but it manages to stay elegant. In conclusion, BenQ Zowie XL2730 is a great BenQ gaming monitor for those looking for fast and responsive gameplay.

BenQ Zowie XL2730

4. BenQ EW3270U

BenQ EW3270U is one of the best affordable 4K monitors in the market. It boasts HDR10 support, a 31.5-inch UHD screen, a VA panel, a refresh rate of 60Hz, 3000:1 native contrast and 300 nits of brightness. The gaming monitor also supports AMD FreeSync over an impressive range of 24-60 frames per second, meaning you will never see a screen tear in your games even if you drop frame rates.

The monitor’s main gimmick is its HDR10 support. HDR makes the colors and effects in movies and games much more realistic and livelier, especially in games like Doom, Destiny 2 and Far Cry 5. Its HDR performance is on par with more higher-end 4K monitors. If you want affordable 4K HDR gaming with FreeSync, BenQ EW3270U is one of the best monitor upgrades you can make.

BenQ EW3270U

5. BenQ GW2765HT

As our final choice for the best BenQ monitors list, we have a great all-purpose general entertainment monitor, GW2765HT. It is both a great affordable gaming monitor for casual gamers and for casual users. The monitor has a 27-inch QHD (1440p) screen with an In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel, 4ms response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio and 350 nits of brightness. Its refresh rate is 60Hz, so competitive gamers may not find what they are looking for here, but it keeps the price down for most users.

As a plus, the monitor features ZeroFlicker & Low Blue Light for a better viewing comfort. ZeroFlicker ensures there are always no flicks on the screen and Low Blue Light significantly reduces the harmful blue light that comes out of the monitor. All in all, BenQ GW2765HT is one of the best affordable BenQ monitors out there for casual users.

BenQ GW2765HT

It does not matter what type of user you are, whether it be a competitive gamer, a professional designer or just a normal user looking for general entertainment, you can find what you are looking for in this list as these are the best BenQ monitors in their respective fields in 2019. If you have found what you are looking for or want to give an opinion about the list, let us know.

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Facebook fears no FTC fine

Reports emerged today that the FTC is considering a fine against Facebook that would be the largest ever from the agency. Even if it were 10 times the size of the largest, a $22.5 million bill sent to Google in 2012, the company would basically laugh it off. Facebook is made of money. But the FTC may make it provide something it has precious little of these days: accountability.

A Washington Post report cites sources inside the agency (currently on hiatus due to the shutdown) saying that regulators have “met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine.” We may as well say here that this must be taken with a grain of salt at the outset; that Facebook is non-compliant with terms set previously by the FTC is an established fact, so how much they should be made to pay is the natural next topic of discussion.

But how much would it be? The scale of the violation is hugely negotiable. Our summary of the FTC’s settlement requirements for Facebook indicate that it was:

  • barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;
  • required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;
  • required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;
  • required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and
  • required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.

How many of those did it break, and how many times? Is it per user? Per account? Per post? Per offense? What is “accessing” under such and such a circumstance? The FTC is no doubt deliberating these things.

Yet it is hard to imagine them coming up with a number that really scares Facebook. A hundred million dollars is a lot of money, for instance. But Facebook took in more than $13 billion in revenue last quarter. Double that fine, triple it, and Facebook bounces back.

If even a fine 10 times the size of the largest it ever threw can’t faze the target, what can the FTC do to scare Facebook into playing by the book? Make it do what it’s already supposed to be doing, but publicly.

How many ad campaigns is a user’s data being used for? How many internal and external research projects? How many copies are there? What data specifically and exactly is it collecting on any given user, how is that data stored, who has access to it, to whom is it sold or for whom is it aggregated or summarized? What is the exact nature of the privacy program it has in place, who works for it, who do they report to and what are their monthly findings?

These and dozens of other questions come immediately to mind as things Facebook should be disclosing publicly in some way or another, either directly to users in the case of how one’s data is being used, or in a more general report, such as what concrete measures are being taken to prevent exfiltration of profile data by bad actors, or how user behavior and psychology is being estimated and tracked.

Not easy or convenient questions to answer at all, let alone publicly and regularly. But if the FTC wants the company to behave, it has to impose this level of responsibility and disclosure. Because, as Facebook has already shown, it cannot be trusted to disclose it otherwise. Light touch regulation is all well and good… until it isn’t.

This may in fact be such a major threat to Facebook’s business — imagine having to publicly state metrics that are clearly at odds with what you tell advertisers and users — that it might attempt to negotiate a larger initial fine in order to avoid punitive measures such as those outlined here. Volkswagen spent billions not on fines, but in sort of punitive community service to mitigate the effects of its emissions cheating. Facebook too could be made to shell out in this indirect way.

What the FTC is capable of requiring from Facebook is an open question, since the scale and nature of these violations are unprecedented. But whatever they come up with, the part with a dollar sign in front of it — however many places it goes to — will be the least of Facebook’s worries.

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Why AWS Dominates the Cloud Computing Game

Amazon Web Services is the undisputed leader in cloud computing. Sure, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud Computing, and a handful of others are trying to give Amazon a run for their money. However, Amazon is still king. Heck, they even popularized the phrase “cloud computing.”

But how did they get there? Surely, one does not get to rule a multi-billion dollar branch of the IT industry overnight. And they didn’t. AWS had to put in over a decade of hard work.

The infographic below, made by Nick, the chief technical analyst of the Hosting Tribunal, a site specialized in reviewing hosting providers and their performance, gives a timeline of AWS’s development and some of the most important features. We will only mention a few things that put AWS at the top.

We can begin by saying Amazon got a healthy head start. They launched AWS in 2002 and their first service went online in 2004. This was 8 years before Microsoft Azure came out—talk of starting ahead of the competition!

Today, AWS offers a lot more than a simple hosting service. In fact, they feature over a hundred different solutions. You can combine their services according to your needs. That makes them appealing for any business looking to operate on the cloud.

Also, the AWS data centers are spread over different continents. Add to this strong teams of experts and it’s clear how AWS provides tremendous security. It practically guarantees the safety of your operations.

AWS’s console is intuitive and easy to use. Even beginners have few problems working in it. There is an option for access via the AWS mobile app so you can manage the services from anywhere.

One of the main features of AWS is scalability. You don’t have to change your contract if you want more storage space or more computing power. You also don’t have to worry about overbuying resources.

With scalable computing, you can adjust any resource to match your needs. And you only pay for what you use. This doesn’t always work as advertised with other providers, but AWS certainly gets it right.

You can even scale resources up or down in the span of a single day—there’s no waiting time. If you host a website on AWS, you can boot new server instances during the peak hours and then terminate them at low periods. This solves any traffic spikes issues without making you waste money on unused resources.

This scalability makes AWS cheaper than investing in your own infrastructure. So, if you’re looking for a model that’s user-friendly, secure, affordable, and is sure to have the solution for your needs, AWS is for you.

If you’re interested, check out the infographic below for more useful info on AWS.

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Golden Axe Classics brings the trilogy from Mega Drive to Android

It’s been over a year now since we greeted Golden Axe with open arms as it was made available for free on Android. Going head-to-head against Death Adder on your smartphone is a pastime that just can’t be beat. However, it seems like SEGA wasn’t completely satisfied with the idea. Thus, they’ve converted this great release into an explosion of axe blows and magic: Golden Axe Classics was just updated and now includes the entire Golden Axe trilogy for Mega Drive/Sega Genesis. Yes, we’re talking Golden Axe, Golden Axe II and Golden Axe III.

Golden Axe Classics

The always glorious Japanese company has been trying for a few years now to make sure its users are comfortable with the SEGA products. We’ve criticized the SEGA Forever line many times for having disappointing touchscreen controls  —and sadly, it seems like we’ll continue to do so until the end of time—, but we also have to give them credit for the latest moves they’ve made. The arrival of the Shining Force Trilogy is only one pack that made us giddy with joy, and this update with the Golden Axe trilogy confirms the company’s good intentions.

golden axe choose

While the real glory of this beat ’em up involving swords and witchcraft resides in the original game, it’s always nice to be able to sink our teeth into the other two games. Golden Axe II is a continuist title that has you continue on your journey to fight against the evil Death Adder, but Golden Axe III is much more peculiar. 

The game never officially left Japan in 1993, although it landed in the USA a few years later through the so-called SEGA Channel. So basically, it was only played by a handful of people in the 90s. That’s what makes it such an interesting game: it has almost nothing do to with the previous installments of Golden Axe, having a completely different storyline and heroes. On a visual level, it’s pretty unattractive, but at lease SEGA’s attempt to renew this franchise on their 16-bit machine is admirable.

Golden Axe Classics Android

We don’t want to waste time listing the features of the SEGA Forever games again, since we’ve already done so about a million times (give or take) already. So all that’s left for us to do is recommend that you enjoy these games if you haven’t already. Even if it’s only to try out Golden Axe III for the first time, it’s worth it to download this trifecta of games. After all, we’re talking about Golden Axe, a timeless game that can be enjoyed the same today as it was 30 years ago. In case you want to see more, here’s the gameplay video that we made playing the original Golden Axe from Mega Drive.

[embedded content]

Golden Axe Classics for Android [APK] | Download

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This Malware Has a Worrying Trick to Mine Monero on Cloud Servers

A recently observed form of malware uses a concerning new trick to avoid detection and mine cryptocurrency on cloud servers.

Two researchers, Xingyu Jin and Claud Xiao, from cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, published a report on Thursday, saying that a nasty bit of software from bad actors dubbed the Rocke group is targeting public cloud infrastructure. Once downloaded, it takes administrative control to first uninstall cloud security products and then inject code that mines the monero cryptocurrency.

The researchers found that the Rocke malware injected code to uninstall five different cloud security products from infected Linux servers – including offerings from top Chinese cloud providers, Alibaba and Tencent. Adding insult to injury, the malware follows the uninstall steps set out in the products’ user manuals.

To do its malicious work, the Rocke group exploits vulnerabilities in Apache Struts 2, Oracle WebLogic, and Adobe ColdFusion applications, and then downloads a shell script named “a7.” This knocks our rival crypto miners and conceals signs of its presence, as well as disabling the security programs.

The researchers add:

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products.”

The Rocke group malware was first discovered by IT giant Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group back in August. At the time Talos researcher David Liebenberg said that Rocke will “continue to leverage Git repositories to download and execute illicit mining onto victim machines.”

Back in November, research from Israel-based cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies showed that a monero mining malware, dubbed KingMiner, is evolving through time to avoid detection.

Monero remains by far the most popular cryptocurrency among hackers. Last week, a study by college researchers showed that hackers have mined at least 4.32 percent of the total monero in circulation.

A study from McAfee, published in December, showed that instances of crypto-mining malware grew by over 4,000 percent last year.

Malware image via Shutterstock 

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Overstock’s Patrick Byrne Says tZERO Will Launch Next Week

Overstock.com’s long-awaited tZERO security token trading platform will go live by the end of next week, CEO Patrick Byrne said Friday.

Byrne told CoinDesk the company is “ready to hit the button and go live today,” but was waiting a few more days to process user signups.

“But by the end of the next week we will be turning the trading system live,” Byrne said, adding:

“It’s a big moment for us — four years in the making.”

The announcement means tZERO will meet the timetable given last month by Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures, Overstock’s venture fund and tZERO’s direct parent company. Speaking to CoinDesk in December, he said the company would go live in January.

The company has already notified investors in tZERO’s token sale – which concluded last August – that they can gain access to their tokens.

According to a letter to investors, the three-month lockup period for the tokens had ended, and investors could either create a brokerage account with broker-dealer and tZERO partner Dinosaur Financial Group or put the tokens in a personal wallet.

“Some people said, ‘Ok, they let people open wallets, but who knows when they turn the trading system on’ — I wouldn’t do that if I wasn’t sure that the technology was ready to go live,” Byrne said.

New leadership, new listings

tZERO will be led by Steven Hopkins, until recently the chief operating officer and general counsel at Medici. Hopkins will serve as tZERO’s president, and the startup is now looking to fill two other executive positions: head of issuance and head of an in-house broker-dealer that will serve tZERO’s retail clients.

The platform will allow trading of its native tZERO token at launch, but is also talking to about 60 different companies. Elio Motors, a company producing light three-wheeled cars, will probably issue the next token traded on the platform, Byrne told CoinDesk.

tZERO is a key asset in Medici Ventures’ portfolio and an ambitious effort to disrupt established security trading practices on Wall Street that Byrne has been famously challenging for more than a decade, such as his fight against naked short selling.

Though tZERO will not go live for a few more days, the company has already been busy laying other groundwork for the nascent security token market.

In December, tZERO was hired by Hong Kong-based GSR Capital to create a token for trading cobalt, with GSR also buying $30 million in tZERO security tokens from Overstock. However, the partnership was delayed after GSR asked for additional time to on-board a third partner and close the deal. The deal has yet to be completed, Byrne said Friday.

Also in December, tZERO acquired another company in Medici’s portfolio, crypto wallet startup Bitsy.

Byrne first revealed his plans for a security token trading system in 2014, but technological and compliance efforts took some time.

Overstock’s initial Alternative Trading System (ATS), a sort of precursor to tZERO, has been open for two years. But it has listed only tokens representing preferred shares in Overstock, and saw little activity (all of 10 trades over a 15-month period) due to technical hurdles, a public filing by Overstock said last spring.

Patrick Byrne image via CoinDesk archives

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Macbook Accessories The Best Way to Enhance Your Laptop

Macbook Accessories

Adorning your desired product that you bought just now after spending a really big amount of money is like glorifying it to celebrate the royalty. Apple MacBook is a device of luxury that you dream about and tries to save every single penny so that you can bring it to your desk. Apple MacBook Air 13” is considered to be a bonzer in the market with a glossy display and a razor-thin aluminum case. Once you bought it home, you may now look for accessories, and this is necessary too to protect this device and to avoid any damage to it. Accessories not only make the device look good but also maintain it and keep it looking as new as the time you bought it.

Some of the best MacBook accessories that you must not chalk out from your buying list are as follows:

Shell case for MacBook:

MacBook can fall hugely on your pocket and to get it repaired isn’t threepenny. Safeguarding them in cases would be the best choice of your life. MacBooks should be kept in cases safely because they are economical and it is worth paying to protect your precious notebook when it accidentally falls. Many shell covers also come with a screen saver.

MacBook Stand:

No doubt the MacBook can be handled by your hands easily when placed on a table but it would be convenient if you buy a laptop stand. A MacBook stand is just not handy but also adds a class to your device. It really looks elegant to glorify your dream gadget like this. They are available in different shapes and colors though one should bring the most suitable one so insetting will not bother you. Ace shaped laptop stands works well as it holds your laptop straight and in an upright position. Aluminum stands are foldable and portable means you can bring them wherever you go. Some also come with a fan system having a cooling feature which will not let your favorite toy get heated up. Moreover, they save space.

Multi-port Adapter:

This is a must when you feel like to associate your USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) empowered Mac to an HDMI display. But before buying you should check out the compatibility of the multiport adaptor with your computer so that you don’t face any issue after bringing it home. A number of brands are designing, and selling good multiport adaptors from which you can choose the suitable one.

Sleeve Pouch:

Safety should be the first priority after you have bought the MacBook. Sleeve pouches are the best option when you need to protect your device from scratches and breakage. They are easy to carry and one of the most convenient options to secure the valuable device from damages. You can even select a pouch with pockets to keep your accessories or any cables along with your laptop at the same place.

Wireless Headphones:

Don’t ever miss the noteworthy accessories like a wireless headphone. This is the savior and never to be missed especially when you are a music lover or you like to play light music while working. The market is stocked with various wireless headphones that range from cheapest to expensive. You should consider one that can feature high-quality noise cancellation, and can give you a better sound quality. By the way, there are some good wired headphones providing better user experience but wireless is awesome.

Wireless Mouse:

Your other favorite accessory could be a wireless mouse because it offers great freedom. A game lover would surely buy it even if he owns a new device or saving money with a refurbished MacBook. Wireless mouse is most loved as they eliminate the hassle of wires and offer smoother movements due to the lack of a cord.

No need to say MacBook is a fantastic laptop and using some accessories will definitely help you to interact with your device more efficiently. You can listen to better music, get safe storage space, and keep your device nicely only by using the above accessory. Now when you are familiar with all the accessories, get some time to find the right one and deck out MacBook and enjoy it to the fullest of the power.

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The PUBG Mobile 0.10.5 update is here, with hints of a future Zombie Mode

In the middle of December, we got the last PUBG Mobile update that brought us the snowy Vikendi map. Well, now it’s come time for the latest version 0.10.5. While it doesn’t include a new map, it does bring with it various improvements like new weapons, adjustments in the settings, and the start of Season 5 in the game.

The update is starting to take off today and it’s not necessary to download the complete game all over again — it’s an internal installation of less than 200Mb that will start when you open the app. That said, even if you install it, you won’t see the new changes until tomorrow, specifically at 2AM UTC on January 19. 

While this is the official list of changes in the new version, it’s not out of the question that we might see evidence of the already announced collaboration between Tencent and Capcom for the upcoming Resident Evil 2 Remake. Although there’s no specific information yet, all signs point to new game modes that you have to complete with hordes of zombies. Although, we still don’t know if they’ll be controlled by AI or fallen players in combat. Various users have discovered a few clues in the beta version of the game with zombies scattered throughout secluded areas of the map.

List of changes

  • Added the MK47, that can be found in the Erangel, Miramar, and Sanhok maps. It shoots 7.62mm bullets and has two fire modes.
  • Added laser sight, a small rail attachment that reduces response speed. This can be found in all maps.
  • Vikendi is now available as a map when you create rooms.
  • The “classic” voice is back! You can find it in the settings after the update.
  • The Spawn Island announcements can be enabled or disabled in the settings menu.
  • The Season 5 Royale Pass is here! New premium skins and animations are available as rewards. There’s also an update of events for all servers.
  • The Season 5 ranked mode is also here! Tiers are adjusted and new rewards are added.

Other improvements

  • The resource refresh in Vikendi has been adjusted (type and quantity).
  • The model for swimmer sandals has been updated and the “Share for Deals” system is back with some adjustments.
  • The clan rewards have been adjusted. The Crew Challenge winners display has also been adjusted.
  • The shop has also been updated. Supplies can be accessed from the main menu.
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Most Facebook users still in the dark about its creepy ad practices, Pew finds

A study by the Pew Research Center suggests most Facebook users are still in the dark about how the company tracks and profiles them for ad-targeting purposes.

Pew found three-quarters (74%) of Facebook users did not know the social networking behemoth maintains a list of their interests and traits to target them with ads, only discovering this when researchers directed them to view their Facebook ad preferences page.

A majority (51%) of Facebook users also told Pew they were uncomfortable with Facebook compiling the information.

While more than a quarter (27%) said the ad preference listing Facebook had generated did not very or at all accurately represent them.

The researchers also found that 88% of polled users had some material generated for them on the ad preferences page. Pew’s findings come from a survey of a nationally representative sample of 963 U.S. Facebook users ages 18 and older which was conducted between September 4 to October 1, 2018, using GfK’s KnowledgePanel.

In a senate hearing last year Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed users have “complete control” over both information they actively choose to upload to Facebook and data about them the company collects in order to target ads.

But the key question remains how Facebook users can be in complete control when most of them they don’t know what the company is doing. This is something U.S. policymakers should have front of mind as they work on drafting a comprehensive federal privacy law.

Pew’s findings suggest Facebook’s greatest ‘defence’ against users exercising what little control it affords them over information its algorithms links to their identity is a lack of awareness about how the Facebook adtech business functions.

After all the company markets the platform as a social communications service for staying in touch with people you know, not a mass surveillance people-profiling ad-delivery machine. So unless you’re deep in the weeds of the adtech industry there’s little chance for the average Facebook user to understand what Mark Zuckerberg has described as “all the nuances of how these services work”.

Having a creepy feeling that ads are stalking you around the Internet hardly counts.

At the same time, users being in the dark about the information dossiers Facebook maintains on them, is not a bug but a feature for the company’s business — which directly benefits by being able to minimize the proportion of people who opt out of having their interests categorized for ad targeting because they have no idea it’s happening. (And relevant ads are likely more clickable and thus more lucrative for Facebook.)

Hence Zuckerberg’s plea to policymakers last April for “a simple and practical set of — of ways that you explain what you are doing with data… that’s not overly restrictive on — on providing the services”.

(Or, to put it another way: If you must regulate privacy let us simplify explanations using cartoon-y abstraction that allows for continued obfuscation of exactly how, where and why data flows.)

From the user point of view, even if you know Facebook offers ad management settings it’s still not simple to locate and understand them, requiring navigating through several menus that are not prominently sited on the platform, and which are also complex, with multiple interactions possible. (Such as having to delete every inferred interest individually.) 

The average Facebook user is unlikely to look past the latest few posts in their newsfeed let alone go proactively hunting for a boring sounding ‘ad management’ setting and spending time figuring out what each click and toggle does (in some cases users are required to hover over a interest in order to view a cross that indicates they can in fact remove it, so there’s plenty of dark pattern design at work here too).

And all the while Facebook is putting a heavy sell on, in the self-serving ad ‘explanations’ it does offer, spinning the line that ad targeting is useful for users. What’s not spelt out is the huge privacy trade off it entails — aka Facebook’s pervasive background surveillance of users and non-users.

Nor does it offer a complete opt-out of being tracked and profiled; rather its partial ad settings let users “influence what ads you see”. 

But influencing is not the same as controlling, whatever Zuckerberg claimed in Congress. So, as it stands, there is no simple way for Facebook users to understand their ad options because the company only lets them twiddle a few knobs rather than shut down the entire surveillance system.

The company’s algorithmic people profiling also extends to labelling users as having particular political views, and/or having racial and ethnic/multicultural affinities.

Pew researchers asked about these two specific classifications too — and found that around half (51%) of polled users had been assigned a political affinity by Facebook; and around a fifth (21%) were badged as having a “multicultural affinity”.

Of those users who Facebook had put into a particular political bucket, a majority (73%) said the platform’s categorization of their politics was very or somewhat accurate; but more than a quarter (27%) said it was not very or not at all an accurate description of them.

“Put differently, 37% of Facebook users are both assigned a political affinity and say that affinity describes them well, while 14% are both assigned a category and say it does not represent them accurately,” it writes.

Use of people’s personal data for political purposes has triggered some major scandals for Facebook’s business in recent years. Such as the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal — when user data was shown to have been extracted from the platform en masse, and without proper consents, for campaign purposes.

In other instances Facebook ads have also been used to circumvent campaign spending rules in elections. Such as during the UK’s 2016 EU referendum vote when large numbers of ads were non-transparently targeted with the help of social media platforms.

And indeed to target masses of political disinformation to carry out election interference. Such as the Kremlin-backed propaganda campaign during the 2016 US presidential election.

Last year the UK data watchdog called for an ethical pause on use of social media data for political campaigning, such is the scale of its concern about data practices uncovered during a lengthy investigation.

Yet the fact that Facebook’s own platform natively badges users’ political affinities frequently gets overlooked in the discussion around this issue.

For all the outrage generated by revelations that Cambridge Analytica had tried to use Facebook data to apply political labels on people to target ads, such labels remain a core feature of the Facebook platform — allowing any advertiser, large or small, to pay Facebook to target people based on where its algorithms have determined they sit on the political spectrum, and do so without obtaining their explicit consent. (Yet under European data protection law political beliefs are deemed sensitive information, and Facebook is facing increasing scrutiny in the region over how it processes this type of data.)

Of those users who Pew found had been badged by Facebook as having a “multicultural affinity” — another algorithmically inferred sensitive data category — 60% told it they do in fact have a very or somewhat strong affinity for the group to which they are assigned; while more than a third (37%) said their affinity for that group is not particularly strong.

“Some 57% of those who are assigned to this category say they do in fact consider themselves to be a member of the racial or ethnic group to which Facebook assigned them,” Pew adds.

It found that 43% of those given an affinity designation are said by Facebook’s algorithm to have an interest in African American culture; with the same share (43%) is assigned an affinity with
Hispanic culture. While one-in-ten are assigned an affinity with Asian American culture.

(Facebook’s targeting tool for ads does not offer affinity classifications for any other cultures in the U.S., including Caucasian or white culture, Pew also notes, thereby underlining one inherent bias of its system.)

In recent years the ethnic affinity label that Facebook’s algorithm sticks to users has caused specific controversy after it was revealed to have been enabling the delivery of discriminatory ads.

As a result, in late 2016, Facebook said it would disable ad targeting using the ethnic affinity label for protected categories of housing, employment and credit-related ads. But a year later its ad review systems were found to be failing to block potentially discriminatory ads.

The act of Facebook sticking labels on people clearly creates plenty of risk — be that from election interference or discriminatory ads (or, indeed, both).

Risk that a majority of users don’t appear comfortable with once they realize it’s happening.

And therefore also future risk for Facebook’s business as more regulators turn their attention to crafting privacy laws that can effectively safeguard consumers from having their personal data exploited in ways they don’t like. (And which might disadvantage them or generate wider societal harms.)

Commenting about Facebook’s data practices, Michael Veale, a researcher in data rights and machine learning at University College London, told us: “Many of Facebook’s data processing practices appear to violate user expectations, and the way they interpret the law in Europe is indicative of their concern around this. If Facebook agreed with regulators that inferred political opinions or ‘ethnic affinities’ were just the same as collecting that information explicitly, they’d have to ask for separate, explicit consent to do so — and users would have to be able to say no to it.

“Similarly, Facebook argues it is ‘manifestly excessive’ for users to ask to see the extensive web and app tracking data they collect and hold next to your ID to generate these profiles — something I triggered a statutory investigation into with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. You can’t help but suspect that it’s because they’re afraid of how creepy users would find seeing a glimpse of the the truth breadth of their invasive user and non-user data collection.”

In a second survey, conducted between May 29 and June 11, 2018 using Pew’s American Trends Panel and of a representative sample of all U.S. adults who use social media (including Facebook and other platforms like Twitter and Instagram), Pew researchers found social media users generally believe it would be relatively easy for social media platforms they use to determine key traits about them based on the data they have amassed about their behaviors.

“Majorities of social media users say it would be very or somewhat easy for these platforms to determine their race or ethnicity (84%), their hobbies and interests (79%), their political affiliation (71%) or their religious beliefs (65%),” Pew writes.

While less than a third (28%) believe it would be difficult for the platforms to figure out their political views, it adds.

So even while most people do not understand exactly what social media platforms are doing with information collected and inferred about them, once they’re asked to think about the issue most believe it would be easy for tech firms to join data dots around their social activity and make sensitive inferences about them.

Commenting generally on the research, Pew’s director of internet and technology research, Lee Rainie, said its aim was to try to bring some data to debates about consumer privacy, the role of micro-targeting of advertisements in commerce and political activity, and how algorithms are shaping news and information systems.

Update: Responding to Pew’s research, Facebook sent us the following statement:

We want people to understand how our ad settings and controls work. That means better ads for people. While we and the rest of the online ad industry need to do more to educate people on how interest-based advertising works and how we protect people’s information, we welcome conversations about transparency and control.

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Chip Maker TSMC Reports ‘Big Drop’ in Crypto Mining Revenue

Chip-making giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reported a slump in its crypto mining business revenue for last year.

The firm announced its Q4 2018 financial results and also published an earnings call transcript on Thursday, providing revenue details across business segments.

In the transcript, TSMC’s CEO and vice chairman C. C. Wei said that the firm’s HPC (high-performance computing) segment was down in 2018 on a year-on-year basis, when its cryptocurrency mining business was included.

Wei said:

“Cryptocurrency is a big drop from 2018 to 2019. So if we put the cryptocurrency together in the HPC, it’s a big drop. It’s almost a double-digit.”

When excluding mining, the HPC segment grew “slightly,” he added.

TSMC did not provide specific figures for its crypto mining business in the transcript, because “it belongs to one of the big customers,” possibly a reference to crypto mining giant Bitmain as it remains the firm’s primary customer.

Nearly 60 percent of Bitmain’s total chip supply came from TSMC in 2017 and the first half of 2018, according to its initial public offering application filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange back in September.

TSMC also witnessed slower demand for crypto miners in Q4 2018, which resulted in inventory build-up.

“You can imagine that cryptocurrencies mining, they dropped quite a lot,” Wei said, adding: “I will say it’s more due to the sudden drop in the demand rather than there’s some hidden inventory that we cannot see.”

On the outlook for its crypto mining business in 2019, Wei said that the firm can’t provide a percentage forecast because the sector is “volatile.”

Overall, on a consolidated basis, TSMC posted revenues of $9.40 billion in Q4 of 2018, showing a growth of 10.7 percent on a quarter-on-quarter basis and 2 percent on a year-on-year basis.

TSMC’s SVP and chief financial officer Lora Ho said: “Our fourth quarter business benefited from the strong demand for our 7 nanometer technology covering both mobile and high performance computing applications.”

For this quarter, TSMC has cut its revenue estimation to $7.3 billion–$7.4 billion, as the firm expects its business will be “dampened by the overall weakening of the macroeconomic outlook, mobile product seasonality, and high levels of inventory in the semiconductor supply chain,” according to Ho.

Computer processors image via Shutterstock 

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OnePlus Assured Upgrade Programme Introduced in India: Here’s How it Works

OnePlus, which is currently the leading smartphone company in the premium segment today announced ‘OnePlus Assured Upgrade‘ programme on OnePlus 6T. As part of this new programme, customers purchasing the OnePlus 6T starting January 19, 2019, will get assured buyback value of a maximum of 70% of the purchase value of the device on the upgrade to a future a future OnePlus flagship. With the current product launch strategy of OnePlus, this new programme will come in very handy for users who want the latest OnePlus smartphone in their hands. The OnePlus Upgrade Programme is available for purchase at an additional price of Rs 199 and can be picked up alongside the smartphone. This new programme from OnePlus is quite similar to the Flipkart Buyback programme that was launched last year. Read on to know more detail about the OnePlus Assured Upgrade Programme.

oneplus-assured-programme-introduced

OnePlus Assured Upgrade Programme: What You Need to Know

Here’s how the Assured Upgrade programme from OnePlus works: Customers purchasing the OnePlus 6T from January 19 will be eligible for three buyback values from the company. OnePlus will offer 70% of the purchase value of their device between three and five months from the date of purchase, 55% of the purchase between six and eight months and 40% of the total purchase between nine and 12 months from the date of purchase. Do make a note that the OnePlus 6T user should upgrade to a future OnePlus flagship to get the buyback value.

Speaking on occasion, Vikas Agarwal, General Manager, OnePlus India, said, “At OnePlus, our constant endeavour is to innovate and delight our loyal community of users. Our community has always been technologically forward, and a vast majority of them also upgrade to subsequent OnePlus devices. With the ‘OnePlus Assured Upgrade’ program, we are excited to make upgrading to future OnePlus flagships even easier.”

The OnePlus 6T can be purchased via Amazon India, oneplus.in and other offline stores.

OnePlus Rolls Out Republic Day Offers

Furthermore, to celebrate Republic Day 2019, OnePlus has rolled out exclusive offers. OnePlus stated that the offers would go live on January 19 for Amazon Prime members and for all others on January 20. During the offer period, users can avail Rs 1,500 instant discount on all OnePlus 6T purchases through HDFC Bank credit and debit cards on Amazon.in. Customers purchasing the OnePlus 6T on oneplus.in, OnePlus Exclusive Offline stores, Croma or Reliance Digital outlets will be eligible for Rs 1,500 cashback on all EMI transactions using SBI Bank credit cards starting January 19, 2019.

Users who purchase the OnePlus 6T on Amazon.in, oneplus.in, all Croma outlets, select Reliance Digital outlets and all OnePlus exclusive offline stores will also be able to avail up to six months of no cost EMI. Buyers will also be eligible for an additional Rs 2,000 discount on the exchange of their old devices for the OnePlus 6T on Amazon.in, oneplus.in and at all OnePlus exclusive offline stores.

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Twitter bug revealed some Android users’ private tweets

Twitter accidentally revealed some users’ “protected” (aka, private) tweets, the company disclosed this afternoon. The “Protect your Tweets” setting typically allows people to use Twitter in a non-public fashion. These users get to approve who can follow them and who can view their content. For some Android users over a period of several years, that may not have been the case — their tweets were actually made public as a result of this bug.

The company says that the issue impacted Twitter for Android users who made certain account changes while the “Protect your Tweets” option was turned on.

For example, if the user had changed their account email address, the “Protect your Tweets” setting was disabled.

Twitter tells TechCrunch that’s just one example of an account change that could have prompted the issue. We asked for other examples, but the company declined to share any specifics.

What’s fairly shocking is how long this issue has been happening.

Twitter says that users may have been impacted by the problem if they made these account changes between November 3, 2014, and January 14, 2019 — the day the bug was fixed. 

The company has now informed those who were affected by the issue, and has re-enabled the “Protect your Tweets” setting if it had been disabled on those accounts. But Twitter says it’s making a public announcement because it “can’t confirm every account that may have been impacted.” (!!!)

The company explains to us it was only able to notify those people where it was able to confirm the account was impacted, but says it doesn’t have a complete list of impacted accounts. For that reason, it’s unable to offer an estimate of how many Twitter for Android users were affected in total.

This is a sizable mistake on Twitter’s part, as it essentially made available to the public content that users had explicitly indicated they wanted private. It’s unclear at this time if the issue will result in a GDPR violation and fine as a result.

The one bright spot is that some of the impacted users may have noticed their account had become public because they would have received alerts — like notifications that people were following them without their direct consent. That could have prompted the user to re-enable the “protect tweets” setting on their own. But they may have chalked up the issue to user error or a small glitch, not realizing it was a system-wide bug.

“We recognize and appreciate the trust you place in us, and are committed to earning that trust every day,” wrote Twitter in a statement. “We’re very sorry this happened and we’re conducting a full review to help prevent this from happening again.”

The company says it believes the issue is now fully resolved.

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South Africa’s Central Bank Proposes Rules for Crypto Companies

Crypto exchanges and wallet providers would have to register with regulators under rules proposed by South Africa’s central bank.

In a consultation paper published Wednesday, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said that regulatory action on crypto assets needs to be prioritized to protect consumers and investors, stating that consumers “are left vulnerable as sellers of crypto assets are not regulated.”

Discussing the possible regulatory approaches that could be taken, and citing the “reputational risk” that is faced if mistakes are made, the central bank proposes walking a middle line between doing nothing and stringent regulation or a ban – a level of oversight it describes as “limited regulation.”

“At this proposed level, an official body places specific requirements on providers of certain services in respect of crypto assets, without setting predefined conditions for formal authorisation to provide crypto assets-related products or services,” SARB says.

As such, the bank suggests that a “useful starting point” for regulating the space would be the introduction of a registration scheme for crypto asset service providers such as exchanges and wallet providers.

It would follow that with a review of existing rules and how they can be applied to crypto assets, with possible amendments or new rules to follow, and finally a review of the regulatory actions implemented at that point.

“The phased approach, starting with the registration requirement, could lead to formal authorization and designation as a registered/licensed provider for crypto asset services operating in South Africa at a later stage,” SARB states.

The central bank also recommended that crypto assets should remain without legal tender status and should not be recognized as electronic money in its proposal.

A detailed process for registration is expected to be issued and implemented by the first quarter of 2019. Registered crypto entities would also need to report suspicious and unusual cash transactions of 25,000 South African rand (or $1,820) and above, according to the proposed rules.

The central bank’s consultation paper is a joint effort with the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG), consisting of several South African regulatory authorities, and is open for public comment until Feb. 15.

Back in April, the South African Revenue Service, the country’s tax agency, said that normal tax rules are applicable to crypto earnings – that is, they may be treated under standard income tax rules, but may be liable for capital gains tax in some cases.

Cape Town City Hall image via Shutterstock 

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New WordPress Publishing Platform Will Offer Blockchain Features

WordPress is launching a new publishing platform backed by Google, ethereum development studio ConsenSys and more, and notably blockchain tools will be built in.

Announced Monday, the new product – Newspack – is described as an “inexpensive” platform offering technology and support for small- and medium-sized news organizations.

Google led Newspack’s funding, with a $1.2 million investment, while ConsenSys contributed $350,000. The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invested $400,000 and $250,000, respectively.

A ConsenSys representative confirmed the investment to CoinDesk on Wednesday, adding that newsrooms accessing Newspack will be offered the option to use blockchain-based features made available through ConsenSys-backed Civil Media.

Specifically, Civil’s Publisher product, which allows newsrooms to permanently archive content on a decentralized network, will be installed as a plugin on the WordPress platform for any newsroom to use.

“The plugin will also act as a portal that will walk newsrooms through how to join the Civil Registry, the hub of community-vetted and -approved newsrooms,” the representative said, adding that it will also offer access to a “discovery portal” for consumers seeking news.

While Civil has had some issues, including a failed token-based fundraiser that it had to relaunch, the firm notably assisted a news site in archiving a full article on the ethereum blockchain in December. And, back in August, Associated Press announced it would collaborate with Civil on content licenses based on blockchain tech.

WordPress image via Shutterstock 

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Tinder is testing the ability to share Spotify music clips in chat

Tinder has already developed a fairly robust chat platform within its dating app, with support for sharing things like Bitmoji and GIFs, and the ability to “like” messages by tapping a heart icon. Now, the company is testing a new integration — sharing music via Spotify. Tinder confirmed with TechCrunch it’s trying out a new way to connect users, by allowing them to share music within their chats.

The test is currently taking place across global markets, and Spotify is the only music service involved.

The new feature was first spotted by the blog MSPoweruser, which speculated the addition could be an experiment on Tinder’s part, ahead of a public launch. That does seem to be the case, as it turns out.

According to screenshots the site posted, a green music icon has been swapped in for the Bitmoji icon. Clicking this allows you to enter a query into a search box and see matching results displayed above. You’re not able to share the full song, however — only a 30-second clip.

Above: Tinder music test with Spotify; credits: MSPoweruser

Tinder, like its rival Bumble, has offered integration with Spotify’s streaming music service since 2016.

Both apps allow users to connect their Spotify accounts in order to showcase their top artists on their profile. As Tinder explained at the time of launch, music can be a powerful signal in terms of attraction, and plays an important role in terms of getting to know a new connection, as well.

The company even launched its own profile on Spotify, with playlists focused on dating, love and romance as a part of its collaboration with the music service.

The Spotify integration has paid off for Tinder in terms of user engagement within its app, the company tells us.

“Users love connecting over shared tastes in music,” a Tinder spokesperson explained. “In fact, users who update their ‘Anthem’ are most likely to start a conversation via Feed. With this in mind, we’re testing the ability to share music with a match while chatting on Tinder,” they added.

The “Anthem” is a feature that lets you pick a favorite song or one that’s representative of your tastes or personality. This is then highlighted in a special section on your Tinder profile.

Tinder did not offer any details as to when it expects the test to wrap or when it would launch music sharing more broadly.

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Tata Sky Directed by Telecom Regulator to File a Status Report Over the Implementation of New Tariff Regime

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked direct-to-home operator Tata Sky to file a status report over the implementation of the new rule that allows viewers select and pay only for the channels they wished to view, citing a large number of complaints from its consumers. The sectoral regulator also alleged that the DTH operator is misleading its consumers by informing subscribers that “Trai has extended the date of implementation of new regulatory framework”.

tata-sky-trai-new-channels

In a letter to Tata Sky, Trai said it had received “a large number of complaints” from its subscribers that the company has “not made any provision in their system to obtain the choice of subscribers as per the new regulatory framework.” This news is reported by Press Trust of India.

Subscribers have “also pointed out that the customer care centre of Tata Sky as well as the (ticker’ running on Tata Sky platform channels are misleading the subscribers by informing that the Trai has extended the date of implementation of new regulatory framework”, it added.

“This information is patently false and misleading,” Trai said in its letter, adding it “has only provided time up to January 31, 2019, to enable the subscribers to choose television channels for a smooth migration to the new regulatory framework”.

When contacted, TataSky, a joint venture between the Tata Group and 21st Century Fox, declined to comment saying the matter is subjudice before the court. Trai’s framework allows consumers to select and pay only for the channels they wish to view and requires TV broadcasters to disclose maximum retail price (MRP) of channels individually and those of bouquets.

Except for Tata Sky, other DTH and Cable TV service providers already issued new tariff plans based on the Trai regime. It’s unknown when Tata Sky is going to come up with its tariff plan list as consumers are already worried over the new tariff regime implementation.

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How to Playing MAME Games on Windows Computers

Much to our surprise, retrogaming has become immensely popular over the last decade. Former fans of modern titles start taking an interest in the games that were hits at the dawn of the video game industry. And such programs as emulator help them play those games.

In the given article, we’re going to focus on the benefits of the MAME emulator, the program that allows running retro console and arcade games on your Windows PCs. MAME helps such legendary titles as Pac-Man, Mario, Donkey Kong, Street Fighters, Space Invaders, Frogger, and others come back to life.

If you got the emulator but still haven’t chosen the games for it, or don’t know where to start, go on reading our tutorial.

MAME Games on Windows Computers

Downloading ROMs

If you are an experienced gamer who have already familiarized yourself with the subtleties of game emulation, you should know that it’s impossible to start running an emulator without MAME games. ROMs are read-only memory files akin to cartridges used for playing on vintage consoles. These small files represent the virtual images of the games, in other words, their copies.

Players decide what ROMs to download based on their gaming preferences. Thus, those who can’t imagine their life without Mario are very likely to download Super Mario Bros, while fans of Pac-Man may choose to avail themselves of Pac Man ROMs.

So, now as have downloaded MAME, you are ready to start downloading the necessary ROMs.

To do that, you can either look for ROMs on the Internet, or download them from a reputable and user-friendly website, RomsMode, and take advantage of the greatest selection of ROMs available on it.

To download a specific game, you need to choose the title you want to play from the list and click the “Download Now” button.

If you haven’t unzipped MAME before downloading ROMs, it is high time that you did it. Also, don’t forget to place it into the appropriate folder.

There is a particular folder within MAME intended to store the entire content of the ROMs you download. Once you are ready to play new ROMs click on the MAME icon to start the program.

Check the screenshot below to get the impression of how a standard ROM file should look like.

how a standard ROM file

Next, go to the MAME File menu. Select the “Audit all games” option from there to check the ROMs folder for available games. Press “OK” once the scanning process is complete. After that, you should see the content of the downloaded ROM files, which is the game, in the main menu of the emulator.

main menu emulator

Double-click the game to start loading it.

If you want to configure the buttons according to your liking, you will need to go to the Configuration menu in your emulator. Don’t forget to press Tab to bring it up. Select the “Input (for the game you are using)” option. Upon doing so, the Configuration window should pop up. You will be able to configure your controls from there.

If you choose to avail yourself of default control options, you can use good old arrows to move back and forth, up and down. Press 1 and 2 to choose a single-player and two-player mode, respectively.

If you want to pause your ROM, press “P.”

Pressing 2-4 usually can help you start a new game.

Control, Alt, and Space keys are also at your service in case you want to throw fireballs or take advantage of super speed.

Enjoy your game!

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The Guide to 2018 App Development: Best Practices and Tips

The Guide to 2018 App Development: Best Practices and Tips

Despite the fact that most of them have been around for less than a decade, apps are everywhere. According to expert forecasting, there were more than 200 billion app downloads in 2018 alone, a number which is expected to only increase in the future. Because of the boom in the market, many people are interested in app development.

However, developing apps isn’t always easy. There are a lot of things you need to do and keep track of during the potentially-long process. Also, with many people creating apps, there is a lot of competition in the space. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help during your app development journey. This article is going to look at some best practices and tips for developing great apps.

Test Early and Often

While many developers might think to only test your app right before you release it, that isn’t nearly good enough. You need to test your app early and often, to make sure it is ready for release. If you test after development but before release, it might be too late to make important changes to things that you missed. Here is a great source https://www.appoptics.com/ that will give you some insight on testing an app and some of the best optimization points. Periodic testing will ensure nothing is missed and everything that needs to be tested, is.

Also, don’t just test before release, you need to continue testing throughout the life cycle of the app. Each new update should be tested before release as well as after release, to ensure the app works as expected. In addition to testing yourself, it is also worthwhile to get others to test the app and check for potential issues and errors. There are numerous online sources to find app testers, and you could potentially even use some people from your target market to test, as well.

Make Navigation Incredibly Simple

Make Navigation Incredibly Simple

While the content of the app and the user experience is important, many would argue that the navigation is just as important. Navigating throughout an application is something no one thinks about, but bad navigation becomes obvious immediately.

While some developers try and get too cute or creative with their navigation, generally, it is simply better to keep it simple.  People shouldn’t be confused with your navigation and always should be able to get to where they want to go. Tips on making navigation great within your app include making it obvious, keeping it constant throughout your app and using a traditional design people expect like a tab bar or drop down menu.

Know Your Users

When releasing an app, you will generally need to choose which platform to release it on. While some will be cross-platform, many will be native to either iOS or Android devices. Despite what you might expect, the users of each platform are different. They have different interests, spend different amounts of money on apps and have a difference in loyalty.

So once you decide the type of app that you want to have, you should decide which platform makes the most sense to release on. In addition to knowing the actual users of the platform you are releasing on, you should also know what different users expect. For example, those using a personal finance or budgeting app likely don’t care as much about a colorful and unique design, while users on a photo editing app or game might.

Knowing your market and developing an app that caters to their wants and needs is always a good idea. Going in blind and just releasing an app without any research or studying your market is a good way to fail.

Don’t Forget About Security

Security

While you might be primarily concerned with creating an app people want to use and how to monetize, but be sure not to ignore the importance of security. Your app is likely going not only have a lot of user private information, but also information about your own company. This could include credit card information, addresses and emails.

As a result, you need to be sure to protect this information. If the information is leaked or compromised in some way, you could be on the hook in a big way. Not only will you lose a lot of users and suffer bad press, but the breach could cost you a lot of money. In order to keep everything safe, you should be sure to encrypt sensitive information and also use 2FA (two-factor authentication).

In conclusion, hopefully this article has been able to help you learn some new practices and tips when it comes to app development. App development isn’t easy, but these tips can help you focus on what matters most and how you can develop a great app that your users should enjoy.

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