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8
Mar

TubiTV is basically Ad-Supported Netflix Lite, minus the subscription (Review)


Everyone loves Netflix. It’s a universally accepted fact at this point. (Universally, I say – and if you say otherwise, you’re wrong.) Everyone loves binge-watching series (serieses?) and having moviethons and chilling whilst Netflixing. But sometimes – sometimes – Netflix doesn’t have what we want to watch. 

Nexus-6P_4256A4A67A25_-169x300.pngTubiTV’s Homescreen

Maybe – maybe – TubiTV will have it. TubiTV is very much a similar service to Netflix and Hulu; a selection TV series and movies streamed from the cloud. TubiTV has all the standard features one would expect; a watchlist, subtitle support, bandwidth (and therefore resolution) selector, and the ability to share videos round out the features list.

The selection isn’t nearly as large as either of the aforementioned services, and there aren’t a whole lot of AAA titles, but if all else fails and you desperately need to find something to watch and Netflix and Hulu and Amazon have completely let you down, you might give TubiTV a shot. There are a bunch of different categories in the app, including a rather interesting one called Not on Netflix – which, as you might guess, is a selection of shows and movies you won’t find on Netflix. I thought that was a cute selling point.

Warning: This is the part where I go on a tirade about ads.

Look. I understand that apps and services need to turn a profit somehow, and ads are probably the best way to get that revenue without a subscription fee. But TubiTV plays two full-length ads before every. Single. Video. And sometimes they aren’t even in English. I had an add for Sons of Anarchy that was in Spanish. What the hell, TubiTV – you can’t detect what language my phone is using and just play ads in that language?

 

…But I digress, as usual.

Nexus-6P_B22CC92ECAE4_-1024x576.pngWhy yes, that is Forrest Whitaker in Ghost Dog, the uplifting story about a mafia hit-man/samurai featuring music by RZA.

A couple bugs that I think are worth mentioning; 1) It’s really easy to confuse the app. If you open a video, and then close it before it finishes buffering, it’ll end up playing in the background for as long as the app runs in the background, until you end it by forceclosing the app. Related to this, you can force the app to play a second audio stream right on top of the first by re-opening the app again and starting another video while the first stream is playing – even if it’s of the same video. 2) Facebook login only? Really? On a Google-made OS? Come on, TubiTV.

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8
Mar

Protect your HTC U Ultra with these cases and covers


The HTC U Ultra has a very interesting look. HTC calls it a “liquid surface” design. This shiny finish is molded glass that seamlessly blends with the polished metal. It is beautiful, very reflective, but also a fingerprint magnet. Even though HTC told us the phone is built to withstand drops, you will want some extra protection against damage and scratches. We’ve put together a list of the best HTC U Ultra cases and covers you can use to protect your new phone.

More: HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play: Our First Take

LK Ultra Soft Silicone Case ($8)

htc u ultra case
We all need a thin case, especially for bigger smartphones, so here is one from LK that gives you some protection without adding bulk. It’s a polyurethane case that will resist shocks, drops, and scratches. There is enough of a lip around the case that it will protect your HTC in case you want to place it face down. The case comes in black, purple, mint, and clear.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Avidet PU Leather Wallet Flip Case ($8)

htc u ultra case
Some folks love wallet cases, so here is one from Avidet. It has cut-outs for the camera and the earpiece, so that you can take calls or pictures while the phone is inside the case. It has an inner case where your phone rests, which covers the entire smartphone. This is good because you always want the corners of the phone to be protected in case of a drop. This HTC U Ultra wallet case can also hold cards, IDs, and cash, and you can use it as a stand if you want to put the phone on a table in landscape. It comes in black, blue, brown, and red.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Onx3 Folding PU Leather Flip Case ($5)

htc u ultra case
Onx3 offers a folding, flip, PU leather case that has an inner cradle, or clip, that holds your phone in place. This clip moves up and down to allow you to take pictures. There are magnets that hold the flap in place, and, because the corners of the phone are inside the cover when it’s closed, it does provide some drop protection — the keyword here being some, as the smartphone is just being held by a clip. There are two card slots in the cover where you can put an ID, or maybe your credit cards. It comes in a variety of colors including pink, black, green, or with a carbon fiber-style finish.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Jaten Rugged Kickstand Holster ($9)

htc u ultra case
If you’re into cases with belt clips, then you may want to take a look at this case from Jaten. The inner silicone sleeve is easy to put on, and the outer cover is hard polycarbonate. This HTC U Ultra case will protect your smartphone from drops and scratches. There’s a kickstand that is integrated in the case, so that you can leave the phone in landscape mode and maybe watch a movie. If you want to carry your phone with a belt clip, then there is one included here that is detachable, so that you can take it off when you don’t need it. The case is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Starshop Rugged Silicone Cover ($6)

htc u ultra case
This case has the always useful two-layer design. The thick silicone is flexible and easy to put on your smartphone, and will protect it from impacts when dropped. The flexible silicone is then held by a polycarbonate shell that gives it rigidity. A screen protector is also included with the case. The case is available in royal blue, all black, and rose gold.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

8
Mar

Apple has patched critical iPhone exploits mentioned in the Wikileaks CIA dump


Why it matters to you

The iPhone many not be as vulnerable to the CIA’s hacking efforts as this week’s Wikileaks dump suggested. According to Apple, many of the security loopholes have been patched.

The Central Intelligence Agency was implicated this week in a clandestine effort to defeat encryption on phones, laptops, smart TVs, and even connected cars. Among the startling revelations was the agency’s hoarding of zero day exploits — unpatched bugs — that could grant intelligence agents access to encrypted iPhones. But there may be less cause for alarm than the leaked documents led many publications to believe.

One Wednesday, a spokesperson for Apple told members of the press that a number of security loopholes were closed in the latest version of iOS, the iPhone’s operating system.

More: You can hack almost any iPhone with just $100 worth of electronics

“Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system,” an Apple spokesperson told Motherboard. “While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked were patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.”

Wikileaks, which published internal CIA documents earlier this week, didn’t distribute any of the exploits. But leaked spreadsheets detailed several of the methods circulated among the world’s top intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and GCHQ, the U.K.’s electronics intelligence agency.

Earth/Eve was an exploit purchased by the NSA and later shared with the CIA. GCHQ discovered a critical zero day code named Nandao. The CIA uncovered a bug that allowed agents to remotely control a targeted device. And the FBI’s Remote Operations Unit, one of the Bureau’s hacking divisions, discovered an iOS 7 hack.

More: The 5 best iOS VPN apps for privacy and security

Other attacks were mentioned in a user guide for “MCNUGGET,” a tool that breaks encryption on iOS 8.0-8.1.3 devices. Another user guide referenced “DRBOOM,” a script that lets an attacker with physical access to an iOS 7-8.2 device install persistent malware. And still other documents listed exploits that have been publicly disclosed, including one by Chinese jailbreaking team Pangu and iOS security researcher Stefan Esser.

In all, the documents named 14 separate exploits and attacks.

Just because Apple has patched a few of iOS’s vulnerabilities doesn’t mean your phone is now safe from prying eyes. The CIA has reportedly broken the security of popular chat apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Weibo, and others by intercepting messages and photos before they could be encrypted. And Android phones aren’t immune — according to Wikileaks, the CIA had 24 weaponized Android “zero day” software programs by the end of 2016.

More: Update your Apple devices now — new Stagefright-style hack discovered

Still, updating your iPhone to the latest software version will reduce some potential vulnerability, at the very least.

8
Mar

Users can now donate to their favorite charities in the U.K. with Apple Pay


Why it matters to you

Apple has always supported consumerism, but now it’s supporting spending in favor of charitable causes as well.

Apple Pay has supported consumerism for the last couple years, and it also supports a different kind of spending — that of the charitable nature. Last November, with the holiday season, #GivingTuesday, and goodwill all right around the corner, Apple announced that its mobile payments platform would begin to support instant donations to nonprofits in the United States. But now, Apple has enabled Apple Pay donations for 22 of the largest charities in the United Kingdom in a move British nonprofits say could be a game-changer.

“Apple Pay is making it easier and more secure to donate to your favorite nonprofit organizations with just a touch,” Apple said last year. “Apple Pay support for charitable donations kicks off today with nonprofits ranging from global organizations such as UNICEF to startups … more nonprofits will offer Apple Pay over the coming months so their supporters can make easy, secure, and private payments.”

This could be huge news for nonprofits, as recent figures suggest that just 10 percent of donations to charities currently come from mobile. But as Apple Pay makes giving easier, it may become a more frequent activity for the generous souls of the world.

More: Here are all the places that support Apple Pay, now in Japan and 10 other countries

“We’re making it incredibly easy to give back with Apple Pay,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Apple Pay. “Websites and apps tell us they see twice as many people actually completing a purchase with Apple Pay than with other payment methods. We think offering such a simple and secure way to support the incredible work nonprofits do will have a significant impact on the communities they serve.”

This is a considerable change from Apple’s previous policy, which forced charities to take donations outside the Apple Pay app. But now they can embed “donate” buttons directly into their own apps and process gifts through the mobile platform.

The new participating U.K. charities include ActionAid U.K., Alzheimer’s Society, Barnardo’s, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research U.K., Comic Relief, Concern Worldwide (U.K.), DEC, Marie Curie, Oxfam, (RED), The Royal British Legion, RNIB, RNLI, RSPB, RSPCA, Scope, Sightsavers, Unicef UK, VSO, WaterAid, and WWF-U.K.

Article originally published in November 2016. Updated on 3-8-2017: Added news that 22 U.K. charities have been added to the list of nonprofits capable of receiving donations through Apple Pay.

8
Mar

Ask and you shall receive: Robots taught to ask for clarification when confused


Why it matters to you

By asking for clarification when they’re confused, robots are being programmed to solve our problems more efficiently.

Robots already work the front desk in some hotels, run cash registers at a few fast food restaurants, and clean up around the house for us. Though they’ve been programmed to receive to commands, they rarely engage in meaningful, dynamic communications with us like other people do. But if social robots are ever going to truly catch on, they’ll need to learn to communicate and pick up on social cues.

A team of researchers from Brown University are working to instill this social competence into robots, recently developing an algorithm that allows them to perform tasks better by collaborating with people.

In the study, conducted by Brown’s Humans to Robots Laboratory, the robots were programmed to ask for clarification. When a person told the robot to grab a certain object, the robot could ask “Which one?” if the command was ambiguous. This communication allowed the robot to perform tasks 25 percent faster and 2.1 percent more accurate than a state-of-the-art baseline, according to the research, which will be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Singapore this spring.

The goal for the Brown lab at this point is less about creating flawless machines than it is about creating machines that can catch and correct their mistakes.

“It is very hard to go from 90 percent accuracy to 99.9 percent accuracy,” Stefanie Tellex, computer science professor and lead researcher, told Digital Trends. “Yet 90 percent accuracy means the robot will fail on one in ten interactions. If it is interacting with you every day, that means it will fail every single day. With our technology though, the robot will automatically detect the failure and ask questions.

“Using this feedback loop, a failure isn’t the end of the story,” she added. “It can ask a question, and recover.”

More: Scientists figure out a way to correct a robot’s mistakes via brain waves

The question-asking algorithm is a step forward for Tellex and her team, which previously created an algorithm that could respond to verbal and gesture commands from people. However, the new system does becomes confused when asked to retrieve an object among many other similar objects on the table. The algorithm still worked surprisingly well for untrained participants though, who even assumed it could understand and respond to complex phrases that it wasn’t programmed to comprehend.

“We envision robots assisting astronauts in space,” Tellex said, pointing out that the research was funded in part by NASA. She also thinks these machines could help workers here on Earth from the assisting patients at hospitals to people at home.

8
Mar

Android may soon overtake Windows as the most popular operating system


Why it matters to you

While Windows has long been the most popular operating system, this could soon change with the growing influence of Android.

The Android army just keeps on growing. As per a new report from web analytics company StatCounter, Android is encroaching upon Windows when it comes to operating system popularity. Last month, the company found that Google’s OS very nearly matched Window’s market share, with 37.4 percent of people who connected to the internet using Android and 38.6 percent using Windows. In a distant third was Apple’s iOS — only 12.99 percent used that operating system.

In a blog post, StatCounter called the current situation “unthinkable five years ago.” After all, for years, Microsoft has been the undisputed leader when it comes to total internet usage across desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile combined (we should note that StatCounter does not measure OS market share in terms of device shipments).

More: Android 6.0 Marshmallow chugs along to reach 15.2 percent of all Android devices

As Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter noted, “In January 2012 Windows held a 82 percent global internet usage share compared to just 2.2 percent for Android.” The shift in popularity may be attributed to the rise of the smartphone as a major medium through which to access the internet, as well as the decline in sales of traditional PCs. Of course, Windows is still the most popular worldwide operating system desktop market (PC and laptop), claiming 84.1 percent of internet usage share in February.

“Windows has won the desktop war but the battlefield has moved on,” commented Cullen. Indeed, StatCounter found that last October, internet usage from mobile and tablet devices exceeded desktop and laptop sales worldwide for the first time. And this trend seems to be one that will only continue favoring smaller devices, where Android certainly reigns supreme.

“Windows 10 will need to maintain momentum in order to combat the steady march of Android across all markets,” Cullen concluded. So watch out, Windows. Don’t get too comfortable on that throne anytime soon.

8
Mar

Android may soon overtake Windows as the most popular operating system


Why it matters to you

While Windows has long been the most popular operating system, this could soon change with the growing influence of Android.

The Android army just keeps on growing. As per a new report from web analytics company StatCounter, Android is encroaching upon Windows when it comes to operating system popularity. Last month, the company found that Google’s OS very nearly matched Window’s market share, with 37.4 percent of people who connected to the internet using Android and 38.6 percent using Windows. In a distant third was Apple’s iOS — only 12.99 percent used that operating system.

In a blog post, StatCounter called the current situation “unthinkable five years ago.” After all, for years, Microsoft has been the undisputed leader when it comes to total internet usage across desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile combined (we should note that StatCounter does not measure OS market share in terms of device shipments).

More: Android 6.0 Marshmallow chugs along to reach 15.2 percent of all Android devices

As Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter noted, “In January 2012 Windows held a 82 percent global internet usage share compared to just 2.2 percent for Android.” The shift in popularity may be attributed to the rise of the smartphone as a major medium through which to access the internet, as well as the decline in sales of traditional PCs. Of course, Windows is still the most popular worldwide operating system desktop market (PC and laptop), claiming 84.1 percent of internet usage share in February.

“Windows has won the desktop war but the battlefield has moved on,” commented Cullen. Indeed, StatCounter found that last October, internet usage from mobile and tablet devices exceeded desktop and laptop sales worldwide for the first time. And this trend seems to be one that will only continue favoring smaller devices, where Android certainly reigns supreme.

“Windows 10 will need to maintain momentum in order to combat the steady march of Android across all markets,” Cullen concluded. So watch out, Windows. Don’t get too comfortable on that throne anytime soon.

8
Mar

Green light makes rats more tolerant of discomfort, study finds


Why it matters to you

If this technique proves to be clinically effective on humans, pain relief could be a green light away.

Green has long been the color of nature and envy, even if more recently it’s been associated with money and traffic lights. Now, however, some researchers think there may be another use for it — as a potential pain reliever.

University of Arizona professor Mohab Ibrahim was first inspired to undertake the study by his brother’s seemingly unusual treatment for his headaches.

“I used to recommend some NSAIDs for him, but on many occasions he declines,” Ibrahim told Digital Trends. “He told me several times that he prefers to sit among his trees … and that reduces his headache.”

Ibrahim didn’t pay much attention to his brother’s technique until one day when he himself had a headache, but was all out of ibuprofen. On his way the pharmacy, Ibrahim passed a park and remembered what his brother had told him. “I took a little detour and I went to the park instead,” he said. “After about fifteen minutes or so in the park, my headache started to get better.”

After sharing his idea with some colleagues, Ibrahim decided to test the effect of green light on rats. The researchers placed one group of rats into a container bathed in green LED lights and equipped another group of rats with contact lenses that only allowed green light to pass through. A third group wore lenses that blocked green light.

The study demonstrated that rats with neuropathic pain benefited from the green LEDs by showing more tolerance to heat and touch. The researchers published a paper detailing the study last week in the aptly named journal Pain.

More: Rice University just democratized optogenetics with an open-source platform

“We are currently running a small-scale clinical trial for fibromyalgia people as a proof of concept,” Ibrahim said. “The preliminary data is encouraging. However, this is still preliminary data.”

Although the researchers are confident in the benefit of green light, they’re not sure exactly why the light seems to help.

Siegfried Schmidt, a professor in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida who was not involved in the study, said the results seem promising: “The exciting part is this could be a non-medicinal, simple procedure that people could do easily.

“Light has been used for a long time in treatment,” he added. “There’s various different lights — from blue to red to infrared light — and they all have different purposes. What’s new here is that there are some improvement in pain with green light.”

However, Schmidt cautioned that the treatment isn’t a cure all for fibromyalgia, a complicated condition with many stages that haven’t been clearly defined, let alone completely understood. He also advised that the UA researchers conduct more safety studies before the treatment is tested at a larger scale.

8
Mar

Microsoft starts rolling out a new Movies & TV app to Windows Insiders


Why it matters to you

Microsoft is attempting to turn its Movies & TV app into a better video library in an effort to tempt users into purchasing content from the Windows Store.

Microsoft has started rolling out an update to its Movies & TV app for Windows 10, which is also known as Films & TV in some regions. Members of the Windows Insider program that have opted into the Fast Ring should see these changes take effect imminently.

The app’s user interface is subject to the biggest changes made as part of this overhaul. Its familiar vertical menu has been abandoned in favor of a horizontal, tabbed interface that is more in line with Microsoft’s Photos and People apps, according to a report from MS Power User.

The new version of Movies & TV also introduces an Explore section, where users can browse movies and television series that are available for purchase and watch trailers for upcoming releases. This is a way for Microsoft to sell more digital content but it will be useful for anyone who uses the Microsoft Store to keep their video library well stocked.

More: Windows Update just not updating? Here’s how to give it a swift kick

The update also gives users a more convenient way of looking at all the video content that they currently have access to. The new combined library view brings together all purchased movies and television shows, rather than separating them off into two distinct categories.

This new version of the Movies & TV app is still being rolled out to Insiders, so a full changelog isn’t currently available. There is currently no indication of how long it will take for all Windows 10 users to receive the update.

However, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the new Movies & TV app make its official debut as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update. That is set to drop in April and Microsoft will no doubt be looking to include as many new and updated features as possible to encourage users to upgrade.

8
Mar

Could Pioneer’s UltraHD Blu-ray drive be the last optical drive you ever buy?


Why it matters to you

If you still find yourself using the odd optical disc, Pioneer’s new, UHD-supporting one may give you enough future proofing that you never need buy one again.

Pioneer has announced a new internal Blu-ray/DVD/CD writer with full support for ultra HD Blu-ray playback using the bundled CyberLink PowerDVD 14 software. Called the BDR-211UBK, the drive fits into the optical disk drive (ODD) bay on your PC and could end up being the last ODD you ever buy.

Although the world is gradually moving away from physical media and switching to streaming from the cloud, for reasons of bandwidth and immediacy, sometimes optical drives have their uses. With that in mind, Pioneer is helping PC users who want to watch 4K content without the need for hefty downloads by offering its new internal UHD Blu-ray writer.

The drive has a number of impressive features. As well as being fully supportive of Ultra HD Blu-ray playback up to 4K resolution, it can write BD-R single layer discs up to 25GB at 16x speed, 14x on dual layer BD-R discs, and 8x on BD-R triple layer discs.

More: Everything you need to know about Ultra HD Blu-ray

As with most optical drives, you can switch the region encoding, and thereby its support for that region’s content, up to five times. It also supports traditional Blu-ray playback, as well as DVDs and CDs, and quick-play means all types of compatible optical media are ready much more quickly after insertion.

PowerRead and PureRead3 technology also goes some way to avoiding problems associated with scratches and fingerprints, and in the event that a certain amount of data cannot be read due to disc damage, the player will not get stuck and will simply move on to the next readable content.

You don’t need to worry about excessive spin noise either, as the Pioneer drive’s Auto Quiet Mode ensures that it spins at the slowest — and therefore quietest — rate possible when playing media.

Pioneer also bundles software with the drive, including PowerDVD 14 with support for UHD-BD; Power2Go 8, for easy disc burning; PowerDirector14 LE, which offers basic video editing and authoring tools; InstantBurn 5 which uses optical discs as an alternative storage drive; Label Print 2.5 for disc label printing, and PhotoDirector 5 LE for editing and adjusting photos.

The Pioneer BDR-211UBK will become available in late March at a retail price of $130.

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