5 stunning stats about GoogleImagine one day buying an Android smartphone not through Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile -- but with Google Wireless. That day could be coming soon. Google (GOOGL, Tech30) will start selling cell phone service along with its Android phones, according to multiple news reports. This has been a long time coming. For years, Google has been assembling just about all the pieces it needs to become a mobile provider. The search giant already makes the most-used mobile software on the planet, it designs and sells phones online, and it has become an Internet service provider with its Google Fiber initiative. It even has its own VoIP phone service called Google Voice, which allows people to get a Google phone number and call people through Gmail or Hangouts over Wi-Fi. The missing link has been the cell towers needed to build out a nationwide network. Rather than spending the tens of billions of dollars it would cost to create a wireless network, Google reportedly will carry its service over Sprint (S) and T-Mobile's (TMUS) networks. Google declined to comment. Google is expected to pay those carriers just $2 per gigabyte, according to Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen. That means Google could choose to provide super-cheap service that gives Verizon (VZ, Tech30) and AT&T (T, Tech30) something to worry about. Related: T-Mobile rejects half of its customers because of bad credit Adding Google to an already competitive field that is in the middle of a major price war isn't likely to make the big carriers very happy -- that's why smaller carriers Sprint and T-Mobile are helping Google. But T-Mobile and Sprint, in particular, are being cautious about the deal. Sprint worked a usage cap into its contract with Google that would allow the wireless company to renegotiate its deal if Google signs up a ton of customers, according to the Wall Street Journal. That could happen. In 2018, Smithen believes Google will pay Sprint $750 million and T-Mobile $250 million for its service. That means even if Google chooses to break even, it could sell $1 billion in wireless services just three years from now. But the chances of Google surpassing any one of the Big Four wireless carriers is practically nil. Existing carriers don't want wireless service to become a commodity. Short of building out its own wireless network, Google will have to go through one of the Big Four to get national coverage. Still, the plan makes sense for Google. Google makes money on Android by licensing the software to smartphone makers and by driving customers to use its apps and search services. Rather than relying on wireless companies to provide service, Google Wireless would give the search company the ability to deal directly with its customers. There have already been a few skirmishes between Google and the cell phone companies that threaten Google's business. Over the past few years, Verizon has banned Google's Wallet app and made Microsoft's Bing the default search engine in some of its Android phones. Also, Google has spoken out against the data caps AT&T and Verizon put on customers, as well as T-Mobile's slowing of customers' speeds once they reach a certain limit. Google is hardly the first to try its selling wireless service. Best Buy (BBY), Staples (SPLS) and Wal-Mart (WMT)all offer wireless plans to their customers. LightSquared, a failed wholesale 4G carrier, tried to become the backbone for so-called mobile virtual network operators around the country. (The FCC determined that its spectrum interfered with GPS signals, and it ultimately went bankrupt). If successful, Google's plan could pave the way for Apple (AAPL, Tech30) to sell its own wireless service with every iPhone. And Facebook (FB, Tech30) and other companies with a vested interest in connecting people to the Internet could get involved too. But there's a lot of risk associated with being a wireless carrier too. When service inevitably goes down or connections fail, customers will blame Google -- not Sprint or T-Mobile -- for the disruptions.
Are you an iPhone user? Congratulations! You're probably smarter than the Android owner sitting next to you.A new study conducted by online advertising network Chitika found that states with more college graduates tend to also have higher iPhone sales. Alaska (66%), Montana and Vermont have the largest percentage of iPhone users. New Mexico (41%), Iowa and Delaware have the lowest share of iPhone sales per capita. Notably, Chitika found that increased wealth is also linked to greater iPhone sales -- but since college degrees also correlate with higher incomes, Chitika says those results are redundant. Other studies have found similar results. Rich, white males tend to buy more iPhones, particularly in the first weeks that they go on sale. In the first month of sales, nearly 80% of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus buyers in the United States were male, and more than 60% made over $75,000 a year, according to Slice, a company that tracks consumer purchases.
Related: Vast majority of iPhone 6 buyers are rich, white menThe study also notes that iPhone sales correlate to population density. The more densely populated the state, the greater the chance that iPhone sales will be higher in that state. On a whole, Google's (GOOGL, Tech30) Android sales are significantly higher than Apple's (AAPL, Tech30) sales, but the iPhone remains the single most popular smartphone in the United States. More than 42% of U.S. smartphones are iPhones, according to comScore. Runner-up Samsung commands 28% of the U.S. market. Yet it's important to take Chitika's results with a grain of salt. Even Chitika admits that its results "are not comprehensive." Because the company focused on states and not smaller regions, such as cities or neighborhoods, the results lack "a great deal of granularity." Here's the state-by-state breakdown, according to Chitika. Alaska: 65.5% Montana: 60.1% Vermont: 59.4% Hawaii: 58.7% Mississippi: 58.7% Connecticut: 58.1% Massachusetts: 56.6% New York: 56.2% Kansas: 55.6% New Jersey: 55.3% California: 53.3% Louisiana: 53.3% South Dakota: 52.9% West Virginia: 52.4% New Hampshire: 52.1% Rhode Island: 52% Illinois: 51.5% Georgia: 50.8% Idaho: 50.8% Kentucky: 50.5% Nevada: 50.5% Arkansas: 50.4% Maine: 50% Virginia: 50% Oregon: 49.7% Pennsylvania: 49.5% Wyoming: 49.5% Nebraska: 49% Utah: 49% North Dakota: 48.5% Colorado: 48.3% Minnesota: 48.3% Tennessee: 48.0% Maryland: 47.8% South Carolina: 47.2% Alabama: 47.1% Ohio: 46.3% North Carolina: 46.2% Florida: 45.8% Oklahoma: 45.1% Texas: 44.9% Arizona: 44.6% Indiana: 44.6% Michigan: 43.8% Missouri: 43.6% Washington: 43.6% Wisconsin: 43.1% Delaware: 42.2% Iowa: 42.1% New Mexico: 40.5%
Humans should be worried about the threat posed by artificial Intelligence, Bill Gates has said.The Microsoft founder said he didn't understand people who were not troubled by the possibility that AI could grow too strong for people to control. Mr Gates contradicted one of Microsoft Research's chiefs, Eric Horvitz, who has said he "fundamentally" did not see AI as a threat. Mr Horvitz has said about a quarter of his team's resources are focused on AI. During an "ask me anything" question and answer session on Reddit, Mr Gates wrote: "I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. "A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned." His view was backed up by the likes of Mr Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking, who have both warned about the possibility that AI could evolve to the point that it was beyond human control. Prof Hawking said he felt that machines with AI could "spell the end of the human race". Mr Horvitz has said: "There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences. I fundamentally don't think that's going to happen." He was giving an interview marking his acceptance of the AAAI Feigenbaum Prize for "outstanding advances" in AI research. "I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we'll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life." Mr Horvitz runs Microsoft Research's lab at the parent company's Redmond headquarters. His division's work has already helped introduce Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant. Despite his own reservations, Mr Gates wrote on Reddit that, had Microsoft not worked out, he would probably be a researcher on AI. "When I started Microsoft I was worried I would miss the chance to do basic work in that field," he said. He added that he believed the firm he founded would see "more progress... than ever" over the next three decades. "Even in the next 10 [years,] problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good." He predicted that, in that time, robots would perform tasks such as picking fruit or moving hospital patients. "Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively." He said he was working on a project with Microsoft called "Personal Agent", which he said would "remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to". He wrote: "The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices." But he admitted that he felt "pretty stupid" because he cannot speak any language other than English. "I took Latin and Greek in High School and got As and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. "I keep hoping to get time to study one of these - probably French because it is the easiest... Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students - incredible," he wrote.
Microsoft Sparta web browser features leakedMicrosoft's plan to replace its Internet Explorer browser was leaked late last month but there has been no word on it apart from a single blurry screenshot that does not reveal any features of the browser. Until now that is. Images of the replacement for Internet Explorer, codenamed Spartan, have been leaked by technology website Neowin. The images show the new design language adopted by Microsoft as well as a few features of the upcoming browser. The leaked images show the UI of Spartan, which shows the favicon, name of the website and a small 'X' to close the tab on top. The design of the tabs is characterized by sharp edges, a departure from the look of the tabs in the latest version of Internet Explorer.
Facebook acquires video startup QuickFireSocial network operator Facebook said it bought QuickFire Networks, a startup that helps view high-quality video with low bandwidth. QuickFire announced the acquisition on its blog on Thursday. Facebook and QuickFire did not disclose the terms of the deal. Facebook's acquisition of the video technology company comes a day after it said in a blog it averaged more than 1 billion video views every day since June 2014.
Google loses US search share, Yahoo risesGoogle saw its share of the US Internet search market slip to its lowest ever mark, while Yahoo notched its highest share in five years, an independent analytics firm said Thursday. In December, Google handled 75.2 per cent of US online search referrals, down from 79.3 per cent a year earlier. That score is its lowest since 2008, when StatCounter started tracking the data. Google nevertheless remains the US leader in the search market by a wide margin, ahead of Microsoft's Bing at 12.5 percent and Yahoo at 10.4 per cent -- its highest score since 2009. Yahoo, whose chief Marissa Mayer has repeatedly stressed that the company remains devoted to the search market that it pioneered but which Google grew to dominate, only had 7.4 per cent of the search market a year before. StatCounter said that Yahoo's resurgence coincides with the start of its partnership with Mozilla, which made Yahoo the default service for online searches done through its Firefox web browser in the United States from December. "The move by Mozilla has had a definite impact on US search," said StatCounter chief executive Aodhan Cullen. Firefox, which is open-source and free, is reported by industry trackers to be the third most used Web browser in the world, behind Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
NASA designs ape-like robot for disastersWhen we imagine the robots of the future, they often look and move like humans, standing up on two legs and using a pair of arms to grab and move objects. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is working on a different kind of robot for disaster response that's designed to move like an ape.
Headless but covered with seven cameras that act as "eyes," the RobotSimian has four identical limbs that do double duty as arms and legs. Together, they ably move the robot across rough terrain and rubble but can also pick up and manipulate objects. It has wheels it can coast on if the surface is smooth enough.
The RoboSimian is JPL's final entry into the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a 27-month-long competition among some of the world's top robotic talent to create an emergency response robot. In situations such as a nuclear disaster, one of these robots could go into environments too dangerous for human rescue workers and execute simple tasks such as lifting debris off survivors or turning off a valve.
In June, RoboSimian and up to 18 other finalists will have to make their way through an obstacle course that simulates eight common scenarios. Each robot will attempt to drive a car, move across rubble, use a tool and climb stairs, all without a human controlling it. DARPA says the final competitors should be as competent as a 2-year-old child. The winning team will receive a $2 million prize.
JPL used leftover parts from RoboSimian to create another robot called Surrogate. The more traditional upright robot has a flexible spine, head and two arms. While better at manipulating objects, Surrogate ran on tracks and wasn't as adept at traversing the complicated terrain that is common in a disaster. After considering both candidates, the team decided to take RoboSimian to the finals.
One trade-off is that RoboSiman is slower than many other competitors. JPL's team is working with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Caltech to increase the robot's walking speed.
"It is intentionally the tortoise relative to the other hares in the competition. We feel that a very stable and deliberate approach suites our technical strengths and provides a model for one vital element of the 'ecosystem' of robots that we expect to be deployed to disaster scenarios in the future," said JPL's Brett Kennedy, who is supervisor of the Robotic Vehicles and Manipulators Group.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is most known for designing robotics for space exploration, such as the Mars rovers. But the DARPA competition was an opportunity for the JPL group to take its existing robotics research and compare approaches directly to other talented teams.
NASA also has a long history of taking technology developed for space exploration and using it here on Earth.
RoboSimian software was influenced by programs used to control the Mars rovers. In both cases, the system is designed to let the robots work as autonomously as possible when communication with a human operator is dropped. Spotty communications are common in disaster scenarios (and on Mars).
The team has thought hard about all aspects of RoboSimian's design, even making sure it has the right look.
"We included industrial designers in the team in an effort to create a robot that looked professional rather than either threatening or overly cute," said Kennedy. "Basically, we wanted the perceptual equivalent of a St. Bernard."
While JPL is focused on perfecting the ape-like design for Earth-bound applications for now, this is just one stop in the circular life of NASA technology.
"We intend to spin the technologies developed for the terrestrial RoboSimian back out to applications in space," said Kennedy.
"These tasks include assembly and maintenance of orbital structures; exploration of low-gravity bodies like asteroids, comets, and moons; exploration of caves and cliffs on Mars or our moon; and even preconstruction of habitats wherever humans care to venture in the solar system."
If you think Microsoft should just kill off Internet Explorer already, you might just get your wish.The browser has become synonymous with bugs, security problems and outdated technology. Even as Internet Explorer has improved dramatically in recent years, it continues to lose serious ground to rival browsers.
Gmail activity has flat-lined in China, raising suspicions about further government censorship of the Internet.Gmail traffic in China tumbled to near zero on Dec. 26 and hasn't budged since, according to Google's transparency report. Dyn Research, a group of scientists that reports on Internet issues, tweeted that the Chinese government had deliberately blocked Gmail in China, according to its analysis. The research group also said that "blocks" of Google served from Hong Kong have shut down throughout the country. Google (GOOGL, Tech30) and China have had a testy relationship since 2010, when Google pulled its business out of the country. Google's websites are no longer served in China; instead, its servers reside in Hong Kong, which is not subject to the same censorship laws that the rest of China is. [caption id="attachment_1144" align="alignleft" width="295"] Gmail access blocked in China 2014[/caption] Google's move to Hong Kong forces China to actively censor or block Google content for its citizens -- something Google said it was no longer willing to do four years ago. Google search, YouTube, photos and maps have all experienced major outages and service disruptions this year, according to Google's transparency report. This could be latest sign of China's ruling Communist Party exerting its influence on Hong Kong. In recent months, Hong Kong erupted into violent pro-democracy protests. Related: Why North Korea's economy can't live without China China's ruling Communist Party has for decades operated a massive censorship project called the Great Firewall of China. Social media platforms including Facebook (FB, Tech30) and Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) are banned, and thousands of websites cannot be accessed from inside China. Internet stability in the region has been a bit shaky. China's neighbor North Korea lost its Internet connection and went dark on Dec. 22. It was unclear whether the country suffered a massive power outage, or got unplugged by an outside entity. That came after the FBI accused the North Korean government of hacking Sony Pictures for revenge over its movie "The Interview," which depicts the fictional assassination of Kim Jong Un. The North Korean government denied the allegations.
Google Unveils 'Complete' Driverless Car
Google has built its first fully functioning self-driving vehicle and it will be driving the streets of California in the New Year.The search engine giant posted a picture of the bubble-shaped car on its website with the message: "The vehicle we unveiled in May was an early mockup - it didn’t even have real headlights! "Since then, we’ve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car - for example, the typical "car" parts like steering and braking, as well as the "self-driving" parts like the computer and sensors. "We've now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle - our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving." The company added that the car will be driven over the Christmas period on a test track before heading out onto the roads of northern California. A safety driver will be onboard to "oversee the vehicle for a while longer, using temporary manual controls as needed". In May, Google announced that it would begin developing and building its own vehicles after adapting existing models with its self-driving technology. Lexus SUVs and Toyota Prius cars have driven hundreds of thousands of miles on public roads using the special equipment. Google says it plans to make 100 prototype cars that are operated using two simple buttons - go and stop - and navigate using GPS, sensors and camera data. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in May: "The main reason we wanted to develop this prototype vehicle is that we can do a better job than we can do with an existing vehicle. "The experience feels different. You're just sitting there, no steering wheel, no pedals - for me it was very relaxing. In about 10 seconds after getting in, I forgot I was there. It reminded me of catching a chairlift by yourself, a bit of solitude I found really enjoyable."
So, North Korea's Internet went down. What is it like anyway?For most North Koreans, it's nonexistent. There are only 1,024 known IP addresses in the entire country. The Internet is typically reserved for government officials, a few foreign ambassadors and outside assistance groups, according to a North Korean defector-turned-journalist. By comparison, the United States has 1.5 billion IP addresses. It's important to note that it's not one IP address per device, so there could be thousands of devices hooked up to the Internet in North Korea. Still, it has one of the smallest Internet presences in the world. All sorts of devices are hooked up to the Internet there, however. There are a few Sony PlayStations and XBoxes, and some of those ubiquitous voice-over-IP office phones, too. Researchers have even spotted a MacBook -- one single Macbook -- connected to the world-facing Internet. Companies like Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) aren't permitted to sell to North Korea, so these devices are probably bought by third parties, said HP security research director Ted Ross. Still despite these details, little is known about all the devices in North Korea connected to the Internet. The country is notoriously secretive and isolated. What we know is that Internet access there is small and tightly controlled. Some clues are offered by security researchers at HP (HPQ, Tech30). Others come from an anonymous person who claims to have mapped some of North Korea's computer network and provided unique data to prove it. Nearly all of the country's Internet traffic is routed through China. Firms that monitor that traffic say it is comparable to only about 1,000 high-speed homes in the United States.
Google is starting to show the full text of song lyrics in search results.It's a clean and quick solution to the current messy method of looking up lyrics. Song lyric sites are notoriously slow, and they inundate you with pop-up ads. The feature, which rolled out last week, seems to be in testing mode. Google doesn't display text for most songs. For instance, it only works with 4 of the top 10 classic rock songs considered the best of all time: "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)," "Freebird," "Layla" and "Stairway to Heaven." Google's song results also link back to Google Play, where you can buy and download the song. By displaying the full text of songs, Google could doom sites like azlyrics.com and metrolyrics.com. A Google (GOOG) spokesman provided an enigmatic comment about its new feature -- a reference to Led Zepplin's "Stairway to Heaven." "There's a feeling you get when you turn to a song and you know that the words have two meanings. Well it's whispered that now if you go search the tune, maybe Google will lead you to reason. Ooh, it makes you wonder..." None of the top lyric websites responded to requests for comment.
Mark Zuckerberg Says They Are Thinking About A Dislike Function
Facebook is thinking about adding a way to "dislike" posts on its site, founder Mark Zuckerberg has said. Speaking at a Q&A session in California, he said it was one of the most requested features the social network receives from its users. He said the site would need to find a way to make sure it did not become a way to demean people's posts. According to Facebook's own figures, 4.5 billion "likes" are generated every day. "A lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives. Often people tell us that they don't feel comfortable pressing 'like' because 'like' isn't the appropriate sentiment. "Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to say, 'That thing isn't good.' That's not something that we think is good for the world. "The thing that I think is very valuable is that there are more sentiments that people want to express."
Fake likesFacebook's Like button has been criticised as being a method by which the social network collects data on its users' browsing habits. The system has also come under fire due to a high volume of "fake likes" - when the popularity of a brand or piece of content is inflated artificially. Facebook has moved to combat the trade of so-called "like farming" - businesses that, for a price, will provide a huge number of likes quickly. This will be via automated robots, or by a network of humans paid a tiny sum for each click.
Facebook Wants to Save You From Yourself and Your Drunk SelfiesFacebook is investing in artificial intelligence research to a potentially creepy end: The social network's top minds want to build software that can do anything from read your status updates to warn you when you're about to upload an embarrassing picture. Put another way, Facebook wants to stop you from uploading drunk selfies.
Let me just say that some of us like uploading drunk selfies. But a lot of users probably won't like the slightly dystopian future when Facebook's robots try to censor their content. The particular branch of AI research that would enable these kinds of features is known as "deep learning." It's an exciting field! However, Facebook's ideas for how it would use deep learning technology just sound a little off."Imagine that you had an intelligent digital assistant which would mediate your interaction with your friends and also with content on Facebook," Yann LeCun, a pioneer of deep learning research and the head of Facebook's Artificial Intelligence Research lab, told Wired recently. LeCun also suggested that Facebook might apply deep learning technology to Oculus Rift. It kind of sounds like he wants to apply deep learning technology to everything. "You need a machine to really understand content and understand people and be able to hold all that data," LeCun said. "That is an AI-complete problem." Do we really need a machine to understand us? This sort of sounds like Stephen Hawking's worst nightmare, where AI destroys human kind as we know it. But on a more basic level, do you really want Facebook to censor you?
Instagram hits 300m monthly users to take it ahead of TwitterInstagram has told Newsbeat it has the potential to "change the world" as it announced it has overtaken Twitter with 300 million users. The company's CEO Kevin Systrom described the milestone as "exciting" and said the company would "continue to grow". Twitter claims to have 284 million users accessing the network each month. Facebook, which boasts 1.35 billion monthly active users, bought Instagram in 2012. Speaking to Newsbeat ahead of the announcement, Kevin Systrom said: "Instagram is about seeing a live pulse of the world right now, it's not just about taking a photo of a cute baby or a cute dog." Instagram is also introducing verified accounts similar to the blue tick symbols used by Facebook and Twitter. [caption id="attachment_1090" align="alignleft" width="300"] Kevin Systrom (CEO, co-founder) Kevin Systrom[/caption] "What we need to do is figure out how to take the fact that everyone's contributing in the world and broadcast that more globally. "If you're interested in what's happening at the World Cup, you can peer in, see the football players and see what they're thinking and doing before they go onto the field. "Those are the types of things that I want to enable over the next year." Since it was set up by co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in October 2010, Instagram has grown rapidly. In February 2013, the company announced it had reached 100 million active monthly users. Recently Instagram introduced advertising, with "sponsored posts" allowing brands to reach the app's growing number of users. "Early on I would review and approve every single ad before it went on," Kevin Systrom said. [caption id="attachment_1091" align="alignleft" width="300"] Instagram now bigger than Twitter[/caption] Although some users were not happy about seeing adverts on Instagram, he said that adverts were needed to allow the company to grow and cope with its increasing size. "The reason why we're doing this is as a growth engine for Instagram. "When you get to 300m users it's not cheap to run that service and you need to make sure to be able to hire more people." [caption id="attachment_1092" align="alignleft" width="300"] Instagram Growth[/caption] The company responded to Twitter's Vine app with a video-sharing feature of its own and introduced direct messaging to compete with rivals WhatsApp and Snapchat. In June 2014 Instagram defended its rules on nudity as "fair" after criticism for removing photos of topless women. Kevin Systrom told Newsbeat that Instagram's close relationship with Facebook had allowed it to learn from its mistakes. "We're absolutely paying attention to the pitfalls companies have faced before and trying our best to avoid them."
'Inception' Virus Hits European GovernmentsExperts have said the spying bug was made by people with a "great deal to lose if their identities were made public". An "extremely sophisticated" piece of malicious software has targeted embassies, financial institutions, oil companies and military bases across the globe. Security Company Blue Coat says the virus, which the researchers have dubbed "Inception", began by targeting Russian organizations, but spread to nearby countries including Ukraine and Uzbekistan, before hitting Europe. Companies and institutions in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium have been affected. The software, which spans 60 mobile networks, is delivered by highly targeted phishing emails, contained in Trojan documents. Experts named the virus after the 2010 movie with the same name - because of the many layers used in the software design. Snorre Fagerland, senior principal security researcher at Blue Coat, told Sky News: "I would say it smacks of government intelligence gathering. Particularly since we know the guys have been trying to break into embassies and the UN." Mr Fagerland went on to add that it was unlikely the malware originated from China or Eastern Europe. The attack evolved to mobiles, targeting iOS, Android and Blackberry devices with phishing attacks. The report says: "With the top three operators being Vodafone, TMobile and Proximus (Belgacom) it seems these apparent phishing attacks are less focused on the Russian sphere than the previously discussed malware." Belgian operator Belgacom was also the target on the Regin spyware which facilitated spying on computer users between 2008 and 2013 and was thought to be the work of either British or US security services Mr Fagerland said Belgacom - a leading provider for EU workers in Brussels - was "an interesting focus of the attackers". The Android malware let the hackers record phone calls and extract them from a mobile, Mr Fagerland said. He also told Sky News: "Another thing that is remarkable is the level of paranoia. "They were not only hiding their identity, but planting false clues…This is made by people who would have a great deal to lose if their identities were made public." The malware was created in late May 2014 and started operating in June. Mr Fagerland said the attack was on a similar scale to the Red October malware.
YouTube's most popular video of 2014 was Mutant Giant Spider Dog
In it, Wardega films people in everyday situations into which he unleashes his otherwise cute dog, Chica, wearing a costume that gives the pooch eight giant, creepy spider legs.
It wasn't without a dose of controversy.
"Someone reported a SpiderDog video to the prosecution claiming that threatening (sic) endangered the life of the people who were there," Wardega, whose first name is Sylwester, wrote in September on his Facebook page. "I wonder who will go to jail? Me or Chica? Or maybe a spider costume?"
New, kid-friendly versions of Google search and YouTube could be in the works for the tech giant.
A Google search for "train" brings up a link to the closest Amtrak station, but chances are that's not what an eight-year-old is searching for. Kids are probably more interested in Thomas the Tank Engine than the most up-to-date commuting schedule.That may be why Google is working on new, kid-friendly versions of some of its services. They could be new versions of search, Chrome and YouTube, according to a report by USA Today, but the company would not say definitively what products it is working on or when they would launch. Google will make them safe for children 12 years old and younger and give parents tools to oversee their kids' actions, Google's Pavni Diwanj told USA Today. She said the company expects some controversy over the change, but that kids are already using Google's non-kid-friendly technology. A Google spokesperson declined to comment further, but confirmed that the USA Today report was accurate.
5 ways to make your Wi-Fi fasterTired of slow Wi-Fi? Fear not: Faster Wi-Fi speeds are possible Wi-Fi is a temperamental technology, and a simple oversight can negatively impact browsing speeds. Unfortunately, changing your router's settings is rarely fun. But many routers come with apps that take much of the head-scratching out of the process. If you're brave and determined enough, here are five tips to make your Wi-Fi faster. 1) Choose the right channel and frequency. Did you know that your Wi-Fi router has channels? Sometimes, just changing the channel on your router can make a world of difference, particularly if you live in an apartment building with lots of interference from other Wi-Fi signals. Other technologies like cordless phones and microwaves can interfere with Wi-Fi as well. Try channels 1, 6 or 11. If those don't work, go to 2 or 10 next. Hunt and peck until you feel like your speeds are improving. Modern Wi-Fi routers also broadcast in different frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Generally speaking, 2.4 GHz is better for bigger homes with multiple floors, because the signal travels farther and can more easily penetrate through walls. But for smaller rooms or homes, 5 GHz is the way to go: it offers much faster speeds, albeit in a shorter range. 2) Move your router to its ideal position. Think high and centrally located. A tall shelf in the middle of a room is the best place for your router. If your Wi-Fi router has antennas, and you need the signal to go through a wall, position the antennas in straight angles so they go right through the wall. Signals that travel through walls at an angle can severely reduce Wi-Fi speeds. Also, it's important to adapt to your surroundings -- ceiling height, room size and certain building materials can adversely affect Wi-Fi speeds. Keep your router away from thick walls made of brick or concrete. But the biggest enemies of Wi-Fi are water and windows. Nearby pipes and even plants (there's water in all those leaves) can slow Wi-Fi to a crawl. Reflective surfaces can make Wi-Fi signals bounce at strange angles. 3) Make sure your router is secure. Putting a password on your router or limiting which devices can access your network will keep Wi-Fi moochers from slowing down your network. Also, there are plenty of other good reasons to secure your router beyond faster Wi-Fi speeds. 4) Get a newer router. Are you using the Wi-Fi router your cable company gave you? Did you buy your router during the Bush administration? You probably aren't using the best technology. New routers have smart technology that can send signals directly to devices (instead of beaming signals randomly around a room). They offer faster speeds, multiple frequencies, and smart home technologies that know which of your gazillion connected devices to give priority to (i.e. whatever device you're streaming Netflix on). 5) Buy a network extender. Cheaper than a new router, but still somewhat expensive, network extenders can boost a signal in those hard-to-reach corners of your home. You can even use some old routers as a network extender if you have one lying around.
Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankindProf Stephen Hawking, one of Britain's pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He said:"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI. But others are less gloomy about AI's prospects. The theoretical physicist, who has the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is using a new system developed by Intel to speak. Machine learning experts from the British company Swiftkey were also involved in its creation. Their technology, already employed as a smartphone keyboard app, learns how the professor thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next. Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans. "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded." But others are less pessimistic. "I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realised," said Rollo Carpenter, creator of Cleverbot. Cleverbot's software learns from its past conversations, and has gained high scores in the Turing test, fooling a high proportion of people into believing they are talking to a human. Rise of the robots Mr Carpenter says we are a long way from having the computing power or developing the algorithms needed to achieve full artificial intelligence, but believes it will come in the next few decades. "We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can't know if we'll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it," he says. But he is betting that AI is going to be a positive force. Prof Hawking is not alone in fearing for the future. In the short term, there are concerns that clever machines capable of undertaking tasks done by humans until now will swiftly destroy millions of jobs. In the longer term, the technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has warned that AI is "our biggest existential threat". Robotic voice In his interview, Prof Hawking also talks of the benefits and dangers of the internet. He quotes the director of GCHQ's warning about the net becoming the command centre for terrorists: "More must be done by the internet companies to counter the threat, but the difficulty is to do this without sacrificing freedom and privacy." He has, however, been an enthusiastic early adopter of all kinds of communication technologies and is looking forward to being able to write much faster with his new system. But one aspect of his own tech - his computer generated voice - has not changed in the latest update. Prof Hawking concedes that it's slightly robotic, but insists he didn't want a more natural voice. "It has become my trademark, and I wouldn't change it for a more natural voice with a British accent," he said. "I'm told that children who need a computer voice, want one like mine."
FBI warns of hacking threat after Sony attackThe five-page confidential warning was issued to US businesses on Monday, according to Reuters news agency. The warning follows a confirmation from the FBI that it is investigating last week's hack into Sony Pictures Entertainment's network. The FBI report did not name any victims in its latest warning, Reuters said. The software would make it impossible to recover any lost data, the FBI warned.
Someone Made a Keyboard That Is Nothing but a #Hashtag
No matter how insulting the hashtag is to the world’s language purists and social media skeptics, the little symbol is here to stay. And now it’s moving on up in the world, with its own Kickstarter project for a dedicated keyboard.
The London-based project was started by former community manager Ben Gomori, who — as his bio puts it — knows “how annoying it can be not having a hashtag key.”
The gadget, called HashKey, is simple. One end is a USB cable that plugs into the port of your laptop, and the other end is a single, suspiciously-Apple-inspired key with a hashtag on it. That’s it.
Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam
A boy from Coventry has become the youngest computer specialist in the world.Ayan Qureshi is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant's exam when he was just five years old. Ayan, now six, whose father is an IT consultant, has set up his own computer network at home. He said he found the exam difficult but enjoyable, and hopes to set up a UK-based tech hub one day. "There were multiple choice questions, drag and drop questions, hotspot questions and scenario-based questions," he said "The hardest challenge was explaining the language of the test to a five-year-old. But he seemed to pick it up and has a very good memory," explained Ayan's father Asim. Mr Qureshi introduced his son to computers when he was three years old. He let him play with his old computers, so he could understand hard drives and motherboards. "I found whatever I was telling him, the next day he'd remember everything I said, so I started to feed him more information," he explained. "Too much computing at this age can cause a negative effect, but in Ayan's case he has cached this opportunity." Ayan has his own computer lab at his home in Coventry, containing a computer network which he built. He spends around two hours a day learning about the operating system and how to install programmes. When the boy arrived to take the Microsoft exam, the invigilators were concerned that he was too young to be a candidate. His father reassured them that Ayan would be all right on his own. The test is usually taken by people who want to become IT technicians.