Tag Archives: TECHNOLOGY

It’s time to fix Facebook, says Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg has made a modest new year’s resolution: to fix Facebook and make the world a better place.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot to do,” the CEO said in a post on his personal account. “Whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

It’s a sharp change of direction since 2016, when Zuckerberg dismissed the idea that hoax news stories shared on Facebook could have influenced the outcome of the US presidential election. Speaking at the annual Techonomy conference near San Francisco, the CEO called the notion a “pretty crazy idea” .

The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot to do

Mark Zuckerberg

“There is a certain profound lack of empathy in asserting that the only reason someone could have voted the way they did is because they saw some fake news,” he said in an on-stage interview.

Zuckerberg retracted the statement in 2017 following a tweet in which President Trump claimed Facebook had a specific agenda against him. In a post published in September, he vowed to “keep working to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, and to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and a force for good in democracy.”

Cleaning up

After the election, Facebook identified at least 470 fake pages and accounts that had spent a total of $100,000 on ads. In a statement, the company said these accounts were likely to be linked and probably originated in Russia.

Facebook turned the ads over to US Congress investigators, noting that although they didn’t seem to reference a specific candidate, they were designed to spread divisive messages on sensitive topics such as gun rights.

Elliot Schrage, vice president of policy and communications at Facebook, said the company didn’t act immediately because “[T]here was nothing necessarily noteworthy at the time about a foreign actor running an ad involving a social issue.”

International organisations, for example, might run an ad addressing women’s rights or encouraging charity donations. Only after the election, Schrange said, did Facebook notice some auto-approved ads might be “problematic”.

Following these revelations, Facebook vowed to employ over 1,000 extra staff to review advertising, and invest in machine learning to identify and remove ads that violate its policies. It also said it would require more thorough documentation from advertisers placing political ads on the site

Keen to show that it had learned from past mistakes, the company worked with German officials to avoid interference during the country’s general election in September. Although it admitted it couldn’t have eliminated any false news stories from appearing in news feeds, it worked with legitimate news agencies and the political parties themselves to help minimize the chances of such content rising to the surface.

Not just personal

Until now, Zuckerberg’s “personal challenges” have been just that – personal. They began with the humble ambition of wearing a tie to work every day in 2009 “to signal to everyone at work that this was a serious year for us” during the global recession. In 2016 he set himself the challenge of building an AI to run his home and running 365 miles.

This year’s resolution shows a change of focus, showing the CEO taking Facebook’s influential position seriously. With presidential and general elections taking place in Italy, Ireland, Sweden and many other nations during 2018, that commitment will soon be put to the test.


Best HP laptops 2018: the top HP laptops we’ve seen and tested

A decade ago, you might have taken one look at an HP laptop and winced. Although it’s been a household name for well over 50 years now, Hewlett-Packard has only recently doubled down on the quality of its products. This is especially apparent when you look at the Spectre family of notebooks, but value-wise, there’s a lot to love about HP’s Chromebooks and Pavilion notebooks as well.

Therefore, classifying the best HP laptop isn’t as easy as finding the priciest, highest performing model and calling it a day. In our experience, we’ve had to round up all of the most renowned HP laptops from every corner of the world and put them to the test before including them based on our informed verdicts. Using our handy guide we’ve designed explicitly for you, below you will find the best HP laptop for your needs, no matter who you are.

HP has been steadily perfecting its flagship 13-inch convertible laptop and it’s among one of our favorite 2-in-1 laptops for a few years running. It has perfectly slim bezels and is lightweight enough to use as a tablet regularly. As a regular notebook, you won’t find many with a more tactile keyboard, brilliantly vibrant display or two Windows Hello biometric solutions.

This may very well be the most gorgeous laptop we’ve ever laid our eyes (and hands) on. The ceramic white finish is complemented by a two-prong, glossy hinge design that’s absolutely irresistible. That’s all fine and dandy, but in terms of power it’s a real winner too. As a matter of fact, it leverages the sheer might of the most recent 8th-generation Intel CPUs nigh-flawlessly.

What it lacks in performance prowess, the HP Pavilion 15 makes up for in finesse. It’s one of the few remaining AMD-based laptops that HP is still making, which should certainly entice those on a budget. It’s affordable, but don’t think cheap. The HP Pavilion 15 is a rare example of a laptop that knows how to strike a balance, making it an excellent value proposition, especially for students.

Now, we know that half a grand for a laptop is a bargain for some. But, for others who don’t need the best of the best, the HP Chromebook 14 G4 will suffice and with lower stakes. This laptop costs less than the cheapest game console you can buy and it’s about a fifth of the price of the newest iPhone. Surprisingly, the battery life and spacious display make it an investment worth your while, too.

Here’s a gaming laptop you shouldn’t think twice about buying should you have the disposable income. Sure, it has an extravagant starting and ending price, but isn’t it worth it for a laptop that demolishes anything Apple can conjure up? The official partner of the Overwatch World Cup, this is a notebook that’s guaranteed to bring you a steady stream of high frame rates.


Samsung Notebook 7 Spin for 2018 has Windows Hello to protect your creations

Samsung has not two, but three laptops to show off at CES 2018, with news of its Notebook 7 Spin for 2018 now out of the bag. The firm behind Galaxy plans to show off the revised 2-in-1 laptop during the show.

The most tangibly change with this years model is it’s now a 13-inch hyrbid, whereas in years past, the Samsung Notebook 7 was a 15-inch convertible. Admittedly, not much else has changed about the laptop’s design year over year. But, having already earned four stars and our Great Value award, perhaps not much really needed to.

Regardless, this new version most notably introduces Windows Hello secure login through an included fingerprint scanner embedded into its side-oriented power button.

Another major addition is support for a Samsung stylus called the Active Pen, which we’ll likely learn more about during the show.

What’s inside?

A new secure login method and stylus are fantastic, but naturally many folks want to know what’s powering this new version, and whether those parts are worth the asking price. Well, it all starts with a 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) PLS touchscreen – pared down from the 15.6-inch display of last year.

PLS is a screen technology produced by Samsung as an IPS competitor, with even wider viewing angles and more brightness.

Powering that display is an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor backed by 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. With Intel’s new quad-core mobile architecture and UHD Graphics tech to consider, that’s quite a lot of laptop within a 3.37-pound (1.53kg) frame that’s 0.72-inches (18.5mm) thin.

As for connectivity, hard connections include one USB-C, one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI-out and a combination audio jack. Samsung hasn’t released specifics regarding the Notebook 7 Spin’s wireless connectivity.

Topping the whole package off are what should be sublime inputs in a backlit keyboard with 1.5mm of travel and curved keycaps – paired with a Microsoft Precision Touchpad.

Sadly, Samsung hasn’t released pricing information for the new Notebook 7 Spin. But, judging by the hardware inside and out, the prospects of it price-matching its predecessor are … dubious.

Expect to see this laptop on US shelves in the first quarter of 2018, before which we anticipate learning more about price, availability and capability in a hands-on review.


Apple says all Macs and iOS devices have been hit by Meltdown and Spectre

Apple has finally spoken out on the Meltdown and Spectre security scare which has dominated headlines this week, with the company confirming that all Mac computers and iOS devices are affected – but also that it has already patched macOS and iOS to defend the operating systems against Meltdown. Spectre, however, still looms large…

In a statement released on its support site, Apple said that these issues affected all modern processors and ‘nearly all computing devices’ out there, including all Mac machines and iOS phones and tablets as mentioned, although it added that there were no known exploits impacting users at this time.

Apple then stated that it has already released ‘mitigations’ for Meltdown in macOS 10.13.2 and iOS 11.2 (as well as tvOS 11.2), so you are protected if you’ve updated your OS appropriately. Indeed, older versions may have also been patched previously, but it’s not clear if that’s the case, and probably best not to take the risk on balance – especially now that these problems have become widespread knowledge.

On the subject of the Apple Watch, the firm said it wasn’t affected by Meltdown anyway.

Script for Spectre

Apple said that it’s still working on patching up Safari (the web browser) to protect users against Spectre, observing that this uses two different exploit methods which can potentially be leveraged via JavaScript in a browser.

Apple also took the time to remind folks that it “recommend[s] downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store” in terms of combating any potential exploits and other nastiness.

The company added: “We continue to develop and test further mitigations for these issues and will release them in upcoming updates of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.”

Intel has already come out in firefighting mode (again) yesterday with a statement saying that its next batch of security updates for its CPUs will make them ‘immune’ to both exploits. It also previously stated that any performance slowdown caused by patching the problems won’t be significant for the average PC user, and will diminish over time at any rate.

Meltdown and Spectre is a cross-platform, cross-device nightmare, as we’ve seen this week, and if you’re confused about how to defend against the flaws on non-Apple hardware, check out our full guide on protecting yourself from these exploits.

Via MacRumors

  • More than one of Apple’s MacBooks makes our list of best laptops


Google Calendar’s new layout becomes mandatory next month, like it or not

Google’s streamlined new Calendar layout will be rolled out to all users at the end of February.

Google introduced the new desktop design in October, letting users switch back to the ‘classic’ look if they preferred, but from February 28, that option will be removed.

The redesigned web app is bold and clear, with more space dedicated to each time slot (whether it’s a day, a week or a month) and fewer buttons.

Clicking an event now lets you see all attendees at a glance, along with RSVP status, meeting rooms, video call links and attachments. You can see each event’s invitation status without clicking an event, and use the new Density setting to adjust the number of events visible for each time slot.

Save the date

It’s not all good news though; the new design does away with the Quick Add function, accessible via the ‘Create’ button on the top right in the Classic view. Users could type a title like ‘Meet TechRadar 9am next Tuesday’, and the Calendar would parse the time, date and location, and create a new event accordingly.

Now, new events can only be created by clicking a time slot or using the orange plus icon in the bottom right.

If you’re not a fan of some of the changes, Google is inviting early adopters to ask questions and give feedback on the new design on its Help Forums.

Via TechCrunch


Pre-teens are struggling to cope with social media stress

Facebook Messenger Kids

Kids are finding it hard to cope with the pressures of social media – particularly as they approach their teens – according to a new report on children’s internet use.

The report, Life in Likes, was released by the Children’s Commissioner for England and focuses on social media use among children under 13. It found that although younger children are most interested in games, older ones are more focused on fitting in – sometimes at the expense of their own wellbeing.

Older children are particularly worried about their appearance as they approached their teens and face the stress of starting a new school.

Staying safe

Safety is another major concern for pre-teens – both personal and psychologically. The report notes that “children were very confident to talk about how to stay safe online from a physical perspective, but there was less discussion about what to do when things affect them on a more emotional level.”

Although most social media services (including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) set a strict minimum age of 13, three quarters of the children in focus groups reported having their own accounts while others used their parents’ logins, potentially exposing them to unsuitable content.

“Sometimes I see stuff when my mum is trying to show me things on Facebook and a rude and horrible thing will pop up, and it makes you feel really shocked,” one 10-year-old told the Commissioner.

Social media influencers also have a role in protecting their young audiences. Many of the youngsters interviewed for the report were fans of YouTuber Logan Paul, who faced a barrage of criticism last week for sharing a video showing a suicide victim in a Japanese forest.

Users must be at least 18 years old to sign up for a YouTube account, but children as young as 13 can register for limited access with a parent’s permission and Paul’s video was originally published without an age-gate, meaning it could be watched by anyone.

Social media for kids

The Commissoner advises social media sites should “recognize the needs of children under 13 using their platforms and incorporate them in service design.”

That’s something Facebook is already working on. In December, it released a new video chat and messaging app, Messenger Kids, designed specifically for under-13s. The app doesn’t require a phone number or Facebook account, and lets children connect with a list of friends and family members pre-approved by their parents.

Facebook itself has a strict age limit of 13 years and up (accounts found to belong to younger children are deleted), but works with schools to help teenagers protect their privacy and wellbeing.

“Children today have unprecedented access to digital technology and, like the Commissioner, we are committed to giving schools and parents more help and expertise to support them as they start secondary school [age 13 to 18],” Antigone Davis, head of safety at Facebook, told TechRadar.

“That’s why since last year we’re offering digital safety ambassadors to every UK secondary school with Childnet International and the Diana Award, to bring peer-to-peer support and online safety initiatives into the classroom by a trained young person. We continue to develop more resources and tools, like our new Parents Portal, for families and all those who care about children to build safe and positive online opportunities for young people.”

Via the Guardian


Some HP laptops need battery replacements due to serious safety concerns

HP has issued a battery recall notice for a number of its laptops and mobile workstations sold over the last two years due to concerns that the battery inside these machines could be dangerous and a fire hazard.

This follows eight reports of lithium-ion batteries overheating and/or melting, and in one case causing a first-degree burn to someone’s hand, with three further cases citing resulting property damage (presumably caused by fire, of course) to the tune of $4,500 (around £3,300, AU$5,700).

The machines affected represent 0.1% of HP’s computers sold globally between December 2015 and December 2017. That might sound like a small percentage, but given how many devices HP shifts in a year, it’s still likely to be a fairly substantial figure.

Affected models include HP ProBook, HP ZBook, HP x360, HP Envy m6, HP Pavilion x360 laptops and more – for the full list as spotted by Engadget, check HP’s site here. There is a small utility you can download which will check if the battery in your laptop is one of the affected power packs.

Safety mode engaged

If so, there are also instructions on how to put your notebook into ‘battery safety mode’ for the time being – effectively discharging and disabling the battery, meaning you’ll have to use the portable plugged into a power socket – while a replacement battery is arranged. As these batteries are sealed inside the laptop, a qualified technician will be called upon to carry out the replacement.

Naturally, none of this will come at any cost to the customer, except for the inconvenience of temporarily having your battery disabled.

HP issued a statement to stay: “The quality and safety of all HP products is our top priority. We recently learned that batteries provided by one of our suppliers for certain notebook computers and mobile workstations present a potential safety concern. We are taking immediate action to address this issue including a voluntary recall and replacement of the batteries.”

If this story has provoked a certain degree of déjà vu in your mind, that’s probably not surprising, given that at the start of last year, HP issued a battery recall due to fire risk concerns. Ho hum…


Cortana can no longer feel the Groove and won’t identify music

Cortana has lost the ability to recognize songs, Shazam-style, thanks to Microsoft’s axing of Groove Music – and to make matters worse, the digital assistant now spouts a seriously slapdash-looking error message when called upon to identify a track.

The Groove Music streaming service was killed off at the end of last year, and this was what powered Cortana’s recognition chops; so it’s not surprising that they don’t function any longer.

Jason Deakins, a software engineer who works on the Cortana team, confirmed this was the case in a tweet.

So now, when you click Cortana’s music icon during the playback of a song, you get the following error message:

Remove it already

This ‘attack of the placeholders’ error looks highly unprofessional in our opinion, and perhaps the real mystery here is why Microsoft hasn’t simply removed the icon.

That way there would be no questions or confusion over exactly what’s going on with this functionality, and no ropey error message cluttering up users’ screens. Presumably the icon will be stripped out in the very near future.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 folks now have very limited options when it comes to song recognition, seeing as the Shazam app isn’t in the Microsoft Store either. As far as we’re aware, about the only route you can now take for music recognition on the store is the SoundHound app.

Via and Image Credit: MS Power User

  • Some of the best laptops out there use Windows 10 and Cortana


Windows 10 free upgrade is still alive and kicking in 2018

Microsoft’s offer to upgrade Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10 for free for users who need assistive technologies was supposed to run out at the end of 2017, but according to reports the method is still valid right now.

The assistive technologies upgrade page is indeed still live, and allows you to download the Windows 10 upgrade executable, despite the page stating that the offer expires on December 31, 2017.

According to Ghacks, and other sources including readers who tipped MS Power User, you can fire up that file and still upgrade, so you haven’t missed the boat yet.

The caveat is that you may run into an error message during the upgrade process, but this is easily fixed as discussed by Ghacks (essentially, you have to copy a specific DLL file across).

The assistive technologies upgrade is meant for those who will use Windows 10’s accessibility features, and as discussed previously, there is no verification process involved, so theoretically anyone can upgrade using this method (although it would be morally dubious to do so if you don’t use the relevant tech).

Alternative route

It seems that the other route of upgrading to Windows 10 – using an existing Windows 7/8.1 product key to activate the installation of the new OS – also still works as we’ve headed into 2018.

Ultimately, Microsoft probably isn’t too fussed about closing these loopholes because pumping up the numbers of Windows 10 users is obviously not a bad thing for the company.

Via Slashgear


The best Android tablets in 2018: the best slates with Google’s OS

Looking for a tablet and thinking about an Android device? Well, there are other options out there with Windows 10 tablets such as the Surface Pro 4 – but tablets running Android remain the main rival to the iOS 10-toting New iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad mini 4.

And there are plenty of options to consider. Some Android tablets have 10-inch screens, others seven, some land somewhere in between and a handful even push the boundaries past 10 inches. There are also big differences in battery life, processing power, RAM and price.

We’ve gathered together the best the Android tablet market has to offer, across all prices and size points, so read on to see which Google-powered slates you should be considering.

  • Want to include some iPads or don’t have as much to spend? Step right up and see our: Best tablets

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 is our favorite Android tablet in the world right now and replaces the Galaxy Tab S2, which is also a Samsung product.

This newer tablet is the best Android slate in the world thanks to a powerful processor and an excellent display that’s prepped to show you HDR content, something even the iPad can’t do yet.

There’s an S-Pen stylus in the box and you’ll also have the option of buying a keyboard too, but that will cost quite a bit extra.

The price of the Galaxy Tab S3 is high, but it’s worth it when you look at all of the power and amazing features you’ll get for that amount of money.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

The Huawei MediaPad T3 10 carries similar looks like the MediaPad M3 Lite 10. Its aluminum backplate and rounded edges give it a great hand feel and usability.

The tablet is powered by the entry-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor which is capable enough to handle some tasks easily including some heavy games. The processor is paired with a 2GB RAM and 16GB internal memory. The tablet is also available with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage in some markets but if you want to get a cheaper alternative, then you can always go for the first one.

It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with the company’s own UI on the top. Considering the price, the tablet offers decent performance and good battery life.

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro is packed full of media-focused features and sports a unique, distinctive design.

There’s a built in stand to take the heft off your hands, while the integrated projector means you can enjoy big screen entertainment away from your TV, though the screen is sharp enough that you won’t always feel the need to use a projector anyway.

All that tech does make it less portable than most tablets on this list and the UI could be better, but it’s a fairly unique option.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

There are plenty of reasons to invest in the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – especially if you’re after one of the best Android tablets on the market but at a cheaper price than the Galaxy Tab S3 above.

It’s reading and web surfing-friendly, while the new 4:3 screen and general size and shape is better suited for most things. Videos work better on its predecessor thanks to its elongated aspect ratio – but they don’t exactly look bad here.

You can pick the Tab S2 up in 8-inch and 9.7-inch variants, to challenge Apple’s iPad and iPad mini ranges, with the smaller option being more portable and cheaper.

Almost impossibly thin, pumped full of power and with a slick version of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface on board the Galaxy Tab S2 gives the iPad Pro 9.7 and Pixel C a real run for their money.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Tablets don’t get any cheaper than this – well, functional ones don’t anyway. The incredibly low price and sturdy design make the Amazon Fire a great choice to give to a kid – in fact, Amazon’s even built a (pricier) version specifically for children.

But even for a grown audience the Amazon Fire far exceeds expectations, with a fairly bright 7.0-inch screen, acceptable speakers, solid battery life and even reasonable performance, with a snappy interface and the ability to run most games.

Fire OS won’t suit everyone and this isn’t a tablet that impresses once you take the price out of the equation, but for what the Amazon Fire costs it would almost be rude not to buy it.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire