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The latest Technology News articles for residents and businesses of Australia from National and International resources.

 

Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass will end your free time forever

Microsoft (MSFT) wants you to play video games until you become one with your couch. And to do that, the company is rolling out its new Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

Available Friday for Xbox Live Gold members and coming June 1 for everyone else, Game Pass is a kind of Netflix for gaming that gives you unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles via your Xbox One and One S consoles.

At $10 per month, Game Pass sounds like a heck of a deal. Out of the gate, Microsoft is offering games like “Halo 5: Guardians,” “BioShock Infinite” and “WWE 2K16,” as well as a host of Xbox 360 games.

But while that’s a good deal for gamers, it could be a huge problem for the world’s largest games retailer: GameStop (GME). But I’m still not exactly sold on the idea for gamers with limited time on their hands.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service will let you download Xbox 360...


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Mark Zuckerberg: The most important thing I built at Harvard

Ask Mark Zuckerberg about the accomplishment he’s most proud of from his days at Harvard University, and the answer may surprise you. It certainly isn’t inventing Facemash, the website that eventually became Facebook (FB).

“Priscilla is the most important person in my life, and the most important thing I built in my time here,” Zuckerberg said of his wife during a commencement speech at Harvard on Thursday.

The 33-year-old Facebook chief executive spent a significant chunk of his time during the speech reflecting on how he met Chan, a pediatrician he eventually married in 2012.

“Priscilla was at a party, and I used the romantic line, ‘I’m getting kicked out in 3 days, so we need to go out quickly,” he said with a grin.

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Mark Zuckerberg at the Harvard graduation. Associated Press

Chan appears to have had a significant, lasting impression on Zuckerberg, who...


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Zuckerberg to Harvard grads: 'You have to create a sense of purpose for others'


Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 33, took the stage at Harvard University’s 366th commencement ceremony on Thursday, and implored the graduating class of 2017 to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

“Purpose is that feeling, that you are a part of something bigger than yourself,” Zuckerberg said. “That you are needed and that you have something better to work for … Purpose is what creates true happiness.”

Zuckerberg added: “The challenge of our generation is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”

Zuckerberg’s speech, which at times sounded more like a stump speech than a commencement address, touched on a variety of topics ranging from social issues, to criminal justice reform and immigration. But the CEO primarily focused on the need for graduates to bring a sense of purpose to their lives and the lives of others.

“It’s not enough to have that...


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The new Samsung Galaxy does 27 things the iPhone doesn't

Every spring, Samsung introduces a new Galaxy phone; every fall, Apple (AAPL) counterpunches with a new iPhone.

At the moment, we find ourselves in mid-cycle: Samsung has just released its Galaxy S8, and the iPhone 8 is still a summer away.

The S8 is a gorgeous phone. It’s a hardware masterpiece, it’s getting rave reviews, and—hey!—so far, nobody’s battery has exploded.

It’s also so crammed with features, it’s amazing the thing doesn’t weigh 20 pounds. That’s the Samsung way: Pile on features to see what sticks. Unfortunately, some of it’s garbage.

So here, as a public service, is a peculiar kind of review: A master list of features that the new Samsung has and the iPhone doesn’t—along with an assessment of which ones are actually useful.

Samsung’s S8 design goal was, “the most screen in the smallest space.” And sure enough: the side margins of the screen are gone completely—the screen...


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How the Microsoft Surface Pro compares to Apple's best

After more than a year and a half, Microsoft (MSFT) has debuted its long-awaited update to its Surface Pro 4 laptop-tablet hybrid. Called simply the Surface Pro, the latest member of Microsoft’s homegrown device lineup looks to be the best piece of hardware the company has ever built.

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro is taking on three different Apple products, and winning.

Its 12.3-inch display has been upgraded with improved colors, its popular kickstand stretches further, its processors are faster and its pen has been redesigned.

Compared to Apple’s (AAPL) own MacBook, MacBook Air and iPad Pro, the new and improved Surface Pro has all of the makings of a serious Apple fighter.

Size and design

When it comes to portable devices, size and weight are everything. That’s good news for Microsoft, which made the Surface lighter and thinner than the MacBook Air but heavier than the...


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A widely praised Supreme Court decision still doesn't fix the broken patent system

A small town in East Texas should see a lot fewer visitors in suits and ties, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that you can’t file a patent lawsuit anywhere you please in America.

Instead, the court ruled that you must sue the allegedly infringing company in the state of its incorporation. That tosses a wrench into a key part of the business-model machinery behind “patent trolling”:

1) Get or buy a overly-broad patent for an “invention” that may have been around for decades;

2) Threaten to sue random companies (and sometimes their customers) for infringing this patent. Then offer to let them settle for a fee calculated to fall below the cost of litigation;  

3) If the targets don’t pay up in advance, sue them in the most patent-friendly court in America;

4) Profit!

That’s a nice living if you can get it. But for companies that have to pay lawyers, a plaintiff or both, it adds up to...


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The most important announcements from Google's big developers' conference

If this is May, it must be time for Google I/O.

That would be Google’s 10th annual developers’ conference. Like most devcons these days, its primary audience is software writers. But the opening keynote unveiled lots of developments that even non-nerds can understand: new features coming soon to Google products.

CEO Sundar Pichai opened his keynote speech with an observation: That Google (GOOG, GOOGL) may have begun life as a search company, but it’s now become an artificial intelligence (AI) company. Examples were everywhere.

Google Lens, Assistant, Photos

For example, he announced a new technology called Google Lens, which you can think of as Shazam for the whole world.

For example, you can point the camera at a flower, a building, a painting, a book cover, a restaurant storefront. The app recognizes what you’re looking at, and instantly gives you information: identification of the...


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U.S. top court tightens patent suit rules in blow to 'patent trolls'

By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tightened rules for where patent lawsuits can be filed in a decision that may make it harder for so-called patent "trolls" to launch sometimes dodgy patent cases in friendly courts, a major irritant for high-tech giants like Apple and Alphabet Inc's Google.

The justices sided 8-0 with beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC in its legal battle with food and beverage company Kraft Heinz Co, ruling that patent infringement suits can be filed only in courts located in the jurisdiction where the targeted company is incorporated. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the decision.

The decision overturned a ruling last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a Washington-based patent court, that said patent suits are fair game anywhere a defendant company's products are sold.

Individuals...


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During my first two hours of playing the video game “Prey,” I spent more time shooting at coffee cups and trash cans than I did the malevolent aliens that attacked the space station I was sneaking around. No, this wasn’t part of my ongoing grudge with office supplies.

I was blasting and bashing discarded notes, plates, burned-out hard drives and cans of green tea, because on “Prey’s” massive Talos 1, they could actually be the very aliens hunting me.

These Mimics are just one of the various forms taken by the Typhon, the beings that have taken over the station. And the continuous fear that the health pack I’m reaching for will turn out to be one, coupled with the desolate feeling of a space station all but devoid of human life, permeates “Prey.” It is one of the most disturbing games of the year.

Still, “Prey” has its issues, including a story that barely holds it together long...


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Now I get it: Ransomware

On May 12, a computer worm called WannaCry began infecting over 300,000 Windows computers in 150 countries—and made headlines around the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Meet ransomware

Why the headlines? First, because WannaCry is one of the most widespread cases of ransomwaresoftware that encrypts all of the files on your PC, and will not unlock them until you pay the bad guys. In WannaCry’s case, you’re supposed to pay $300 within three days; at that point, the price goes up. If you still haven’t paid in a week, all your files are gone forever. (Here’s what it looks like if you’re infected.)

(Why can’t the authorities just track who the money’s going to, and thereby catch the bad guys? Because you have to pay in Bitcoin, which is a digital currency whose transactions are essentially anonymous. Here’s my explainer on Bitcoin.)

The second notable feature: The WannaCry malware...


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Pinterest now uses AI to figure out what you're eating in photos

Pinterest has found perhaps the most delectable use of artificial intelligence and image recognition yet: to serve up recipes based on photos of meals you’re eating.

The eight-year-old San Francisco, Calif.-based startup rolled out an update on Tuesday that enables its AI-powered feature, Pinterest Lens, to detect and analyze what you’re eating in any given photo. Lens then suggests a recipe “inspired” by the food, meal or dish.

Say you snap a photo of jambalaya you’re chowing down on. Lens figures out you’re eating jambalaya, then recommends a jambalaya recipe for you to try. This is different from how many other companies are applying computer vision technology, a Pinterest spokesperson pointed out.

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Source: Pinterest

Facebook (FB) already uses image recognition to identify friends in photos and suggests tagging them. Meanwhile, a feature called “automatic...


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Uber inadvertently underpaid New York City drivers for over two years

(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] said on Tuesday it underpaid its New York City drivers for the past two-and-a-half years, an error that could cost the ride-hailing company tens of millions of dollars.

Uber generally takes a commission from its drivers after deducting taxes and some fees, but it instead took a higher percentage from its New York City drivers using the full fare before accounting for sales taxes and fees, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news. http://on.wsj.com/2rPJOUk

Uber usually takes a 25 percent commission from U.S. drivers under a November 2014 nationwide driver agreement, the report said.

The company could pay drivers back at least $45 million, averaging at about $900 per driver, the Journal reported.

"We are committed to paying every driver every penny they are owed - plus interest - as quickly as possible," Rachel...


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This RoboCop car comes with an intruder-chasing drone as a sidekick

Meet O-R3. It’s the world’s first robotic security car.

Singapore startup company Otsaw Robotics created the 176-pound miniature automated vehicle.

It has 3D LIDAR sensors and GPS, and once it detects an intruder…

it will send a drone after the interloper up to 328 feet away.

This can be especially useful if there are obstacles in the vehicle’s way…

since it provides an aerial view to help capture someone running away.

O-R3 fits perfectly with Singapore’s plan to become the world’s first smart city.

The RoboCop car will cost $10,000 a month to rent …

which is cheaper than what the country’s businesses are paying now for human security guards.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/23/singapore-robocop-car-drone/

More:

This high-tech workout bag cleans itself

The car of the future debuts at SXSW

There’s now an indoor potty for small dogs

Get out of your next traffic jam with this...


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Why Amazon let 4,000 dogs into its Seattle headquarters

Amazon’s (AMZN) work culture is well-known for several qualities — tough, hard-working, innovative, even bruising. But it’s not necessarily known as being one of the largest dog-friendly tech companies.

According to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant, Amazon has 4,000 registered canines — 500 of which on average come to the offices everyday with their employee owners. Indeed, Amazon caters heavily to employee-owned dogs with dog-oriented activities, beyond simply offering dog treats at the reception desk.

Amazon dogs

In July 2016, for instance, the company held a screening for the film “The Secret Life of Pets,” in which dogs that attended also received customizable dog tags. And last October, Amazon hosted a Halloween dog costume contest, in partnership with the Downtown Dog Lounge, a Seattle-based business. The winner? A 5-year-old greater Swiss mountain dog named...


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How a wider laptop ban could threaten your safety and data

For the past several days, frequent travelers have been dreading something far worse than being stuck in a middle seat: having to check their laptops and tablets before flying home from Europe.

That’s the fear invoked by news reports that the Department of Homeland Security will expand its current ban on large electronic devices in the cabins of flights to the U.S. from the initial 10 airports across Africa and the Middle East to all U.S.-bound flights coming from anywhere in Europe.

Until we see the details of this plan’s implementations, we’ll have to hold off on some questions about a policy that almost no other country imposes.

Still, you should wonder what airlines might do to cope with such a ban, and what that might mean for your safety and the safety of your data.

Checking your laptop

The cardinal rule of checking baggage is not to put anything valuable into a bag that will...


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No, your Apple computer isn't immune from ransomware

Since Friday, hundreds of thousands of Windows PCs around the world have been hit by a nasty strain of ransomware called WannaCry 2.0.

Ransomware is a form of malware that completely encrypts your PC. The only way to get the key to unlock your photos, documents and music is to erase your hard drive or pay a ransom.

Apple’s Macs aren’t affected by the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware, but it can be impacted by similar malware.

This particular type of ransomware is only affecting Windows computers, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s (AAPL) Macs and MacBooks are immune from these types of attacks.

See, contrary to popular belief, Apple’s desktops and laptops aren’t inherently safer than those running Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows operating systems.

Yes, WannaCry 2.0 does exploit a vulnerability in older versions of Windows, but Microsoft issued a patch to deal with the problem well before this...


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How to avoid the massive WannaCry ransomware attack

On Friday a major piece of malware hit the web, and throughout the weekend infected hundreds of thousands of computers, taking down everything from businesses to the U.K.’s National Health Service. The software, dubbed WannaCry 2.0, is what’s known as ransomware.

A type of malware that burrows into your computer, ransomware encrypts the files on your machine, keeping you from being able to access them. The malware’s creator then asks that you to pay a fee to unlock your data.

The first round of the WannaCry 2.0 attack seems to have passed. But chances are the creator, or some other hacker, will repurpose the malware and send it back into the wild again.

Here’s how can you avoid this software, and what can you should if your machine is infected. The biggest tip I can give you is to simply keep your computer’s software updated.

And of course, never pay these ransoms.

Ransom?

Let’s...


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The simple reason so many companies were hit by the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware

It’s a lot harder for huge companies to update their computer systems. (image: Flickr/ Christiaan Colen)The WannaCry 2.0 ransomware is still crippling computer systems and networks around the world. The malware, which hit the web on Friday, has impacted everything from automakers to the U.K.’s National Health Service, by locking down their Windows PCs and demanding a ransom of $300 in bitcoins in return for the codes to unlock them.

So how did such large companies and public services fall victim to WannaCry 2.0? Well, contrary to popular opinion, it’s certainly not because they’re fools.

Updating isn’t so easy

The WannaCry ransomware is widely believed to use a vulnerability in Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows operating system, which the National Security Agency knew about and kept secret. In April a group of hackers called The Shadow Brokers, said it stole the vulnerability along with a...


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‘Injustice 2’ review: Kneel before this sublime superhero fighter

All heroes are not created equal, especially when it comes to the expanded universes of comic book titans Marvel and DC.

From The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy to lesser-known but equally potent stars like Ant Man and Doctor Strange (an original Defender, back in the day), Marvel’s mightiest have outmuscled DC’s potent roster cinematically. “Suicide Squad” somehow won an Oscar, but it also nabbed two Razzie nominations. “Batman Vs. Superman” scored eight (and won four).

When it comes to video games, however, DC has fared a bit better. DC franchises — mostly Batman, honestly — have carried the torch for console superhero games. That includes 2013’s excellent fighting game “Injustice.” And though it failed to match the success of developer NetherRealm Studios’ more famous series, “Mortal Kombat,” it served as a fine thirst quencher for comic book gamers.

The sequel is, in...


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Android O: Google tries to fix Android's biggest weakness

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF.—The next version of Android doesn’t have a name yet, only a letter. But “Android O”—which should get a dessert-based moniker when it ships later this summer—does have a set of features that Google (GOOG, GOOGL) pitched over the first day of its I/O developer conference here.

As in earlier updates, Android O brings a grab-bag of features. Some address lingering pain points in this mobile operating system, while others borrow from features Apple (AAPL) added to iOS. Another represents an overdue remedy for a problem that’s afflicted Android since its debut almost nine years ago: the zombie-like persistence of obsolete versions.

And of course, there’s better emoji support.

Project Treble: easing updates, we can only hope

The most important part of O—a rebuilding of Android’s foundation to remove an obstacle to timely software updates—barely got a mention in the


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