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18
May

20 tech fails that ruined people’s lives


We all rely heavily on technology these days and why not? Most gadgets are enablers that aid us in our daily lives. Where would we be without our smartphones, tablets, TVs, the internet or an electronic back scratcher?

However, overuse of tech can be dangerous. Plenty of people have fallen foul after putting too much trust into their technical doohickeys.

They’ve found that social media, GPS, Photoshop and many other tech-based tools can turn around and bite them on the behind. And there are many cautionary tales out there that we should all take heed of.

So have a glance through our round-up of the best gadgetry gaffs – some funny, some downright shocking – in order to avoid making the same mistakes. Flick through the gallery above and read stories of technology terror. At the very least, it might make you think twice before hitting send on your next tweet.

Remember technology is there to help and/or entertain us, not give us carte blanche to be irresponsible twonks.

READ: 79 of the worst Photoshop errors ever, you won’t believe your eyes

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18
May

Watch Bodyhack: Metal Gear Man and the story of a real-life Snake bionic arm


Games publisher Konami was so troubled with the plight of double amputee James Young that it has worked on a device to help the 25-year-old.

It has built a working bionic arm, designed around the one used by Snake (Big Boss) in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, especially for the gamer.

Young lost his arm and leg after being dragged onto the tracks between two DLR trains in London, but it didn’t break his spirit. Now his story and Konami’s incredible work is central to a new BBC Three documentary available on BBC iPlayer.

The 30 minute film, titled Bodyhack: Metal Gear Man, shows how he became part cyborg and is spattered with games footage from Metal Gear Solid 5. It was also made using a DJI Osmo camera, with self-filmed segments so has a very distinctive look.

The BBC has made it available to watch in a number of ways. You can find it in the BBC Three section of iPlayer or on YouTube in two separate 15-minute parts. Alternatively, you can watch the two parts below.

READ: Metal Gear Solid 5 The Phantom Pain review: The best stealth game ever made


18
May

Google Assistant wants to be your conversational digital buddy, across all your Google devices


Google has today announced Google Assistant, introduced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the opening keynote of Google I/O 2016.

Using Google’s smart searching and enhanced natural language technology, Google claims that Google Assistant is a conversational assistant that you have a relationship with.

Rather than asking formulaic questions, Google Assistant will dynamically offer you answers smartly based on how you ask questions and other factors, like what you’re doing or where you are.

Much of the groundwork for Google Assistant already exists through Ok Google. But in the future, like the bots that have been shown off by Facebook and others, Google will be able to do more for you. 

Demonstrating the scope of Google Assistant, Pichai asked Google what was playing at the cinema, suggested that he wanted to take the kids, and Google Assistant offered a suggestion, before offering to buy the tickets.

But Google Assistant isn’t just something that’s limited to a smartphone or PC, it’s going to span the Google universe, including the new Google Home device announced today at Google I/O.

Google Assistant will allow anyone to have a conversation with Google to get to the actions or results in a simple way. That might be asking complex questions, or giving instructions, like asking Google Home to turn the lights on.

18
May

New phones let Japan’s government secretly track its citizens


The Japan Times is reporting that local mobile network NTT DoCoMo is embracing government surveillance. The company launched five new smartphones on Tuesday that lets the authorities to track a user’s location without their knowledge or consent. Existing handsets, however, currently alert a user when their position is being accessed by a third party. The move is in reaction to a change in the law back in June 2015 that withdrew the requirement to gain a subscriber’s permission before sharing their GPS data.

The first five devices that come with the new feature include the Galaxy S7 Edge, Xperia X Performance and Aquos Zeta. Current DoCoMo handsets will also get a similar upgrade through a firmware update, although the precise timing is not yet known. NTT, for its part, has already said that it’s previously handed GPS data over to authorities in times of crisis. It’s quoted by the Times saying that it “provided positional information” to the emergency services such as the ambulance and coastguard. The report explains that authorities will only be able to access this information if they are given permission by a court. But lawyer Tsutomu Shimizu is quoted by the paper, saying that the move is an “extreme invasion of privacy.”

Source: Japan Times

18
May

Pornhub wants to help you get fit


If there’s one thing that Pornhub is good at that doesn’t involve a satisfying break from work, it’s getting people to pay attention to its plans. The company’s latest attempt to remind everyone where to get their action from comes in the form of Bang Fit, which purports to be a smartphone-based sexercise platform. The idea, as far as the site is concerned, is that getting down and dirty is a better way to workout than whatever your personal trainer can tell you to do. Plus, it has the added benefit of keeping you relaxed and connected with yourself and your significant other(s).

Simply head over to the Bang Fit website and tell it if there’s one, two or three players enjoying a session this evening. You’ll then direct your smartphone’s browser to the mobile version of the site and use a code to pair the two together. You’ll then be treated to a hardcore porn movie on your desktop as the phone tracks your movement and awards points. There’s even a Guitar Hero / Just Dance-style icon telling you when to thrust and when to hold back.

Naturally, your smartphone can’t track your motion from the bedside cabinet, so you need to hold it close to your body. The company recommends tying it to your stomach, perhaps using a belt as an impromptu holder. The firm has also pledged to produce a limited number of dedicated smartphone sex sleeves for the purpose. although these are not available yet.

Much like the company’s other initiatives, like the WankBand through to its plan to film the first adult movie in zero gravity, there’s very rarely any follow-through. After all, your attention has been held long enough to remember that Pornhub exists, but you won’t forget when it doesn’t deliver further down the line. Of course, the company did actually produce the Twerking Butt, so maybe we all just need to learn how to delay our gratification a little more.

Source: Bang Fit

18
May

Fitbit buys Coin to help with mobile payments


Fitbit is purchasing (almost all of) Coin, the payments startup that developed a universal credit card replacement. The world’s biggest maker of wearable technology can now leverage Coin’s know-how and integrate NFC-based commerce to its hardware. Fitbit has already said that there are “no plans” to integrate Coin’s setup into the products it’ll launch in 2016, so you can be damn sure it’ll be there for 2017. It’s not going to be a big leap for either party, as Coin was working on some form of payments watch earlier this year. At the time, it had signed up Atlas Wearables, Omate and Moov, as well as MasterCard to handle the processing.

The deal specifically excludes the Coin 2.0 hardware, the “universal card” that integrated every credit card you owned into one, wallet-friendly gizmo. If you own one of the units, your hardware will last for the duration of the built-in battery, which is expected to be two years. After that, however, you’re SOL. In addition, Coin Rewards and the Coin Developer Program are being retired following the announcement.

Fitbit remains king of the technology hill, but its lead at the top has been eroded by Xiaomi (at the bottom end) and Apple (at the high end). In many ways, buying Coin is a defensive move against the latter, since its rival wearable already offers mobile payments technology.

Source: Coin, Fitbit (BusinessWire)

18
May

Spaces proves Google still doesn’t get social


Yesterday Google launched Spaces to help small groups work together with shared images, links, videos and, of course, text. It’s tough not to compare the service to Pinterest or Facebook Groups (it even has stickers that post as soon as you tap).

Unfortunately, instead of grabbing the best bits of both of those juggernauts in the group space and creating a great new way to chat around a topic, it’s a bungled trainwreck of confusion and missed opportunities.

Spaces is supposed to be the one-stop spot to chat about topics. With quick access to Google search, YouTube and photos, members can discuss items without leaving the app to hunt down information. A main “Space” is created and discussions take place with the subtopics of that theme.

For example: A family can use it to plan a vacation. A main topic is created, and within that, discussions can be launched around hotels, flights, dinner options, etc. Members can drop URLs of restaurants or YouTube videos of activities. It can all be in one place. Unfortunately, not all of Google’s services come along for the ride.

When you launch the app, it seems so promising. Setting up your first Space is straightforward. After tapping on “Create a Space,” you’re prompted to give it a name. Then you can tap the settings dots to add an image and adjust the color of the theme.

I expected to have access to my address book. Instead, to invite folks you have to email them or copy a link and post it somewhere like Facebook or Twitter. Google Drive lets you share without launching an email client, but Spaces decided that wasn’t a feature people would want.

Once you have a Space that’s populated with friends (or strangers, if you posted it to Twitter) anyone can create a new discussion by posting a block of text, an image, link or video. Within those threads users can chat almost in real time. Because Google search is always a tap away, sites can be shared both in chat or as a way to start subtopics.

YouTube search is also available when you want to start a discussion, but offers only 10 results. I kept having to expand my queries to find the clip I actually wanted to post. It’s also weird that the video-search option disappears once you’re in a conversation. But if you search for a video with Google, you can drop it into a chat.

The comments are the typical chronological string of text, stickers and photos. If this had launched three years ago, I could see Google being a major force in the group-collaboration world. Instead, Facebook Groups have become where people meet to chat about events and ideas. It’s easy to add members and, like it or not, we check Facebook all day.

While Facebook Groups doesn’t have quick access to Google’s search results, like Spaces you can search for anything within a topic. It also has something the search giant’s service is lacking: the ability to search for individuals. When I tried to see what Engadget’s Jon Turi said in my Spaces, I got “can’t find a match.”

Spaces seems like a half-baked idea. On one hand you have access to the greatest search engine on Earth. On the other, some Google services are limited. The lack of search for Google Photos or surfacing only 10 results from YouTube are good examples of this. Plus, I still can’t get over the fact that I can’t add friends from my address book. The app and site don’t really offer anything compelling that will pull people away from Pinterest or Facebook Groups. The company says it’ll be testing the service at its I/O Keynote this week. Maybe by the end of the week it’ll have enough feedback to make Spaces a service people will want to actually use.

18
May

Charter will axe the Time Warner Cable brand


As of today, Charter officially owns both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks… and the newly expanded telecom giant isn’t wasting much time making changes. A spokesman tells Bloomberg that Charter will eventually drop both the Bright House and Time Warner Cable names. Yes, that’s right: Time Warner Cable, a name that’s synonymous with terrible customer support and sub-par service quality, is going away. It’s largely a symbolic move, but likely a welcome one — especially if you’re still trying to remember that Time Warner and Time Warner Cable are separate companies.

The real question is whether or not this will lead to any structural changes. It’s not as if TWC’s support system will change overnight, and the cable infrastructure will likely remain largely untouched. If you have slower-than-promised speeds now, that probably won’t change under Charter. And it’s not as if Charter is a stellar example of putting the customer first. The company isn’t that far ahead of TWC in satisfaction rankings, so its policies may only lead to slightly less miserable appointments and phone calls. Buyouts like this are more about expanding influence than improving your experience, and the end to the TWC brand is unlikely to usher in the quality-of-service revolution you might be hoping for.

Via: Bloomberg

Source: Charter Communications

18
May

Vevo revamp puts a personalized music video feed on your phone


If you’re fond of gorging on music videos while you’re waiting for the bus or lounging on the couch, Vevo has your back. It’s launching redesigned Android and iOS apps that bring its more personalized experience to phones and tablets. The simpler interface revolves around a Spotlight section that shows both recommended videos (based on what you’ve watched and liked) as well as a New for You playlist that offers a relevant feed of the latest and greatest clips. You might not have to spend any time sifting through videos just to find something you’ll enjoy, in other words.

Not that you can’t go looking if you want to. There’s a Browse section that highlights new and trending videos, and your profile will show all your favorites and custom playlists. It’s hard to say if Vevo’s update is good enough to pull you away from the likes of YouTube, but it’s likely worth a look if you spend more time watching music than listening to it.

Source: App Store, Google Play

18
May

‘Maize’ mates first-person puzzle gaming with sentient corn


Game developers are no strangers to using wild concepts to catch your attention, but this one might just work. Finish Line Games has revealed Maize, a first-person puzzler that revolves around scientists creating “sentient corn.” Yep. And reportedly, that’s just the start of the absurdity. On top of what learning what the corn wants (besides fewer crows), you’ll deal with a secret underground research facility and a Russian Teddy Ruxpin clone. It’s too soon to say whether the underlying gameplay will be as interesting as the premise, but you’ll get to find out first hand when the title reaches PCs in the fall.

Source: Maize

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