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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 17th Jul 2017

Servers server data centreGetty Images News


Google has made a major post-Brexit investment in the UK, opening its first cloud data centres in London.

The company wouldn't confirm where exactly its data centres are located, or whether they were leased or built by Google.

Google has spent $30 billion (£23 billion) in expanding Google Cloud to date, but doesn't break out regional spend.

This is Google's second batch of cloud data centres in the EU after Belgium, with three "availability zones" in London. The upshot for UK firms using Google Cloud is reduced latency and better customer service. Google promised round-trip latency reductions for UK customers of between 40% and 82%, versus its Belgium region.

Google's global president for cloud customers, Tariq Shaukat, told Business Insider that Brexit had little impact on the company's timeframe. "The decision pre-dates Brexit," he said. But the company will continue its investment by hiring more UK staff in marketing and sales for Google Cloud.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said the investment was "a vote of confidence in the UK economy."

She added: "We want digital businesses to be able to operate here, taking advantage of the opportunities a global Britain has as we leave the EU."

Google is rapidly expanding its cloud business to try and catch up with its bigger competitors: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft's Azure. According to fourth quarter statistics, Amazon accounted for 40% of the global cloud computing market. Google's parent, Alphabet, held 6% of the market.

Cloud is a growing part of Google's business too. While the company doesn't break out revenues, cloud accounted for much of Google's growth in its "other revenues" segment in the first year, up 50% year on year in the three months to March 31.

Shaukat told Business Insider that Google would set itself apart with its reliability. A massive AWS outage in February took out some of the biggest sites on the web, including Quora and Business Insider.

He said the company was considered "best in class" at making sure infrastructure "stays up and running." Google Cloud also has a dedicated service, customer reliability engineering, that focuses on helping companies architect their applications to boost reliability. "That's something others are not able to do or are doing today," Shaukat said.

He promised Google Cloud would be compliant with the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation by the time it's implemented next year.

Some British companies already using Google Cloud include fintech app Revolut, The Telegraph, and hosting firm WP Engine.

Amazon Web Services opened its own London region at the end of last yearMicrosoft opened a UK data centre region in 2015.  This is Google's tenth region globally, and the company plans to add data centres in Frankfurt, the Netherlands, and Finland.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 17th Jul 2017

HP is once again the undisputed king of the PC market.

IDC and Gartner, the two leading tech market research firms, both agree the California-based manufacturer now holds the top spot in the market share rankings. They only disagree about when it took the lead from Lenovo; Gartner says it just happened in the second quarter, while IDC says HP took the lead in the first quarter.

Regardless, HP can rightfully tout that it’s one of the few PC makers that's actually growing, as the chart below, which is based on Gartner's data and was put together for us by Statista, indicates.

But that may be a something of a hollow and potentially short-term victory. Worldwide PC shipments totaled 61.1 million this past quarter, Gartner said, a year-over-year decline that continues a years-long slump for the traditional PC market.

Both Gartner and IDC attributed the decline in part to component shortages, but the longer-term concerns for PCs remain. Most notably, tablets and smartphones are increasingly powerful, which has made it less necessary to buy a traditional computer.

COTD_7.13 3

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 17th Jul 2017

Messaging apps dominate the top charts of the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Despite there being dozens of different apps in the category, many of them have managed to garner millions of users. It appears as though Amazon wants a piece of the action and is working on their own stand-alone messaging app called Anytime.

Amazon has begun surveying customers about a new messaging service to gauge which features are most important to users. It’s unclear how far along the new service is, but one customer said the survey seemed to imply it was a ready product.

Based on the images I’ve been provided, Anytime by Amazon seems to be an all-in-one feature rich service that could even rival social networks. The focus seems to be messaging, including voice and video calls, but there’s also mention of photo sharing with @mentions, as well as filters for photos and video with “special effects and masks.” Anytime will also provide tasks that can be done in groups, like playing games, listening to music, and ordering food.

The service claims to keep chats private and allows users to “encrypt important messages like bank account details.” That’s especially important because the service will also allow users to chat with businesses, make reservations, and of course, since this is from Amazon, allow users to shop.

The biggest hurdle of any new messaging service is getting people to use it when no one they know is using it. Anytime by Amazon will apparently let you “reach all your friends just using their name” without needing their phone numbers. It’s unclear what that means exactly, but it could mean the app hooks into existing social networks and other messaging services.

Amazon announced Chime earlier this year, which is a communication service for enterprise users. This new Anytime messaging service could use the same backend and technology as Chime, but for regular consumers.

Amazon also launched messaging and calling features for Alexa devices recently, which turned their Alexa app into a rival to services like Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger overnight. With the Alexa app being primarily a companion to Amazon’s Echo hardware and voice assistant, it would make sense for Amazon to branch out the Alexa app’s messaging capabilities into a separate app, if they plan to incorporate additional features found on other messaging platforms.

As is to be expected, Anytime by Amazon would work across both desktop and mobile devices, including both Android and iPhone. There’s no indication how far along the service is or when we could expect it to launch.

Source: aftvnews.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Jul 2017

Last year we reported on Microsoft scam telephone calls and now have an update ......

These days, it’s difficult to tell what’s true and what’s false on the Internet, and the same can be said for phone calls that you’ll receive out of the blue. People have been scamming other for ages, and the phone is just another tool they use to do so. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier to spot scams when you know what to look out for, and that’s why we’ve identified these common phone scams. Keep your eyes peeled, ears open, head on a swivel, and stay smart out there!

“Can you hear me?”

This scam has been very successful for criminals simply because of how innocuous it seems. The idea is to ask the victim a simple question so that they respond with, “Yes.” The scammer then records the response and uses it to authorize changes on credit cards, bills, and more. This is because many companies today use voice-automated systems for customer service, which scammers then “hack” with the voice recording. Scammers can also ask to press a button on the phone, which is how they find out if the number is active. The smart thing to do when receiving an unknown phone call is to not respond and not press any buttons on the dial pad. Here are some other questions that these scammers tend to lead with:

  • Are you the homeowner?
  • Are you the lady of the house?
  • Do you pay the household phone bill?
  • Do you pay the household bills?
  • Is Adele better than Taylor Swift? (Okay, just kidding about this one.)

Free Vacations and Prizes

Everyone likes free stuff, but sometimes things sound just too good to be true. This particular scam usually starts off by notifying you that you’ve won a vacation to some exotic locale or popular travel destination, like Walt Disney World. Or, the caller will offer a reward card or some sort of prize, sometimes notifying you that you’ve won a lottery. The key here is that the scammer will ask you to pay a small fee in order to claim the prize, for which you’ll have to share your credit card number. Don’t do it! Victims can and have been had for thousands of dollars.

Phishing Scams

While most phishing scams are related to websites or email, there are also phishing calls that attempt to gain valuable information from you. Generally, the scammer will claim that there is an issue with your computer, putting it at risk of getting hacked. Then, they’ll ask for your payment information to fix the hypothetical problem or attempt to have you download “antivirus” software that will actually hack your computer. It’s important to note that a huge computer company, like Microsoft, would almost never call you out of the blue. Always be vigilant about sharing payment information over the phone, and when in doubt, collect the caller’s information and say that you will call them back after researching it.

Fake Charities

If you think that posing as a charity in order to rip people off is just too despicable for anyone to do, well, guess again. There are plenty of scammers out there that will say and do anything to rip people off, including posing as a charity. A common scam claims to collect funds for local police and fire departments, while another pretended to fund cancer philanthropies. Remember you can always call back a charity after doing some research.

IRS Scams

This is a very popular scam, and its success is probably due to the fact that most people are pretty nervous about dealing with the IRS. Oftentimes, robo-callers call tens of thousands of potential victims, and sometimes the callers will even have the last four digits of your social security number already on hand. While the IRS may potentially call you one day, they would not request direct payment over the phone. If’ you’re not sure about an IRS call, try dialing the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.

Loan Scams

Some loans are borderline scams in the first place, so it’s almost no surprise that they’d also be used as a cover for phone scams. Whether it’s a proposed student loan, car loan (especially popular right now), payday loan, or business loan, the goal of the scammer is to harvest your information over the phone. Don’t fall for it!

Debt Collector Scams

Debt collector scams are fairly popular because, unfortunately, there are just so many people with debt out there. The best thing to do in this situation is to ask for the caller’s information, including company name, and to call them back. Also, take note that if you send a written letter to a debt collector asking them to stop calling you, they are legally required to do so.

Credit Card Security Number Scams

As we’ve mentioned, it’s not a smart idea to give out credit card information over the telephone. But, what about just snippets of information? Though it may seem harmless, even giving out the three-digit security code on the back of your credit card (also known as the CVV number) can lead to being scammed. The scammer can disguise themselves as a bank employee, even giving out a fake employee badge number. But make sure to never give out that CVV number, no matter what they say.

Warrant Scams

Whether it’s the DEA, FBI, sheriff, or local police department, warrant scams are designed to make victims panic and then give up their personal information over the phone. The scammer will often state that you’ve missed jury duty or perhaps defrauded a bank, and attempt to get payment information. However, law enforcement demanding money is just something that does not happen legally over the phone. Remember that.

Medical Scams

If you’ve ever dealt with health care, you probably know how difficult it is to dispute a hospital bill. Perhaps that’s why people fall for phone scams that are medical-related. Sometimes the scammer will demand payment on an “unpaid” bill, while other times the scam will offer discounted or free medical services. Unfortunately, these types of scams tend to target the elderly, who have to deal with health care much more than younger people.

Lottery Scam

As with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Getting a call out of the blue that you’ve just won the lottery is a pretty big stretch. Add in that it’s a Jamaican, Australian, or some other lottery, and things begin to sound a lot less plausible. And when someone asks for you credit card information over the phone, that’s as good a sign as any that the whole thing is a sham. After all, how many lotteries have you heard of that give out winnings to people who haven’t bought a ticket?

How to Protect Yourself

While phone scams are designed to get victims flustered and panicked on the phone so that they make a rash decision, most of them are actually quite similar.

  • Usually, the most important thing is that you don’t give away financial and sensitive personal information (address, date of birth, bank information, ID numbers) out over the phone.
  • Secondly, you can always ask the person calling for more information, do some research, and call them back. If they’re reluctant to comply, they’re likely trying to scam you.
  • Remember to check your bank and credit card statement regularly, especially after getting a suspicious call.
  • Also, try not to get pressured into making quick decisions. You should always feel like you can take the time to research an organization, including checking it out online.
  • Be wary of sending money anywhere for an emergency situation.
  • Lastly, never send money by prepaid card or wire transfer (which are difficult to track) to someone you don’t know.

With the rise of the Internet, many scammers are moving to the web. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve forgotten about the phone. Any tool that gives them a shroud of anonymity can be used to take advantage of people, especially the elderly. Fortunately, most phone scams can be avoided by simply not making any rash decisions. So, remember: take a deep breath, and don’t let anyone push you into doing something that sounds suspicious.


Source: backgroundchecks.org
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 14th Jun 2017


Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron

The UK and France will launch a joint campaign to push internet companies like Facebook and Google to do more to remove terrorist material.

Announcing the move in Paris, Theresa May said the internet must not be "a safe space" for extremists.

Speaking alongside President Emmanuel Macron, she said they would also look at proposals to fine social media firms if they fail to take down such content.

It is the PM's first foreign trip since losing her majority at the election.

It comes as UK officials gear up for the start of Brexit talks on 19 June - Mrs May confirmed those negotiations would begin on time despite the unexpected election result and the ongoing talks with the DUP to shore up a minority Conservative government.

Both France and the UK have faced multiple terror attacks in recent years. Three French citizens died in the attack on London Bridge earlier this month, and a British man, Nick Alexander, was killed in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015.

Mrs May and Mr Macron had a working dinner before travelling to the England v France football friendly at the Stade de France, where there was a minute's silence before kick-off to honour those killed in the Manchester and London attacks.

At their joint press conference, Mrs May said the UK was already working with internet companies "to stop the spread of extremist material that is warping young minds".

But she said she and President Macron agreed those firms must do more "and abide by their social responsibility to step up their efforts to remove harmful content".

The joint UK-French campaign will explore options for creating "a legal liability" which would allow companies to be punished if they fail to take steps to remove terrorist content.

More meetings would be held in the coming days between the UK home secretary and the French interior minister to push forward those plans, the PM added.

Mr Macron said they wanted to "strengthen the commitment" of internet companies to removing extremist material.

'More responsibility'

The Metropolitan Police's head of counter-terrorism Mark Rowley echoed the prime minister's concerns that terrorist material was too easily accessible online.

Writing in the Times, Assistant Commissioner Rowley said: "We need communities to be more assertive at calling out extremists and radicalisers amongst us. It's not just overseas propaganda inspiring attacks.

"And we need communications and internet-based companies to show more responsibility.

"It is too easy for the angry, violent or vulnerable to access extremist views, learn about attack methodologies, conspire on encrypted applications and then acquire equipment to kill, all online."

Mr Rowley said "an internet going darker" was making it harder to look into people who may be of concern, but he welcomed Theresa May's efforts to look at strategies for dealing with extremism.

The government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill QC questioned whether heavy fines for tech companies that failed to take down extreme content was "absolutely necessary".

He told BBC News: "I've sat with the relevant police unit as they identify extreme content. I've seen them communicating with tech companies and I've seen the cooperation that flows from that.

"It's a question of the bulk of the material rather than a lack of cooperation in dealing with it."

Google says it already invests heavily in combating abuse on its platforms and is working on an "international forum to accelerate and strengthen our existing work in this area".

Facebook has also insisted it works "aggressively to remove terrorist content from our platform as soon as we become aware of it".

Twitter says "terrorist content has no place on" its platform.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 14th Jun 2017

Apple Mac computersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionApple Mac computers are being targeted by two types of malware being spread on the "dark web"

Mac users are being warned about new variants of malware that have been created specifically to target Apple computers.

One is ransomware that encrypts data and demands payment before files are released.

The other is spyware that watches what users do and scoops up valuable information.

Experts said they represented a threat because their creators were letting anyone use them for free.

The two programs were uncovered by the security firms Fortinet and AlienVault, which found a portal on the Tor "dark web" network that acted as a shopfront for both.

In a blog, Fortinet said the site claimed that the creators behind it were professional software engineers with "extensive experience" of creating working code.

Those wishing to use either of the programs had been urged to get in touch and provide details of how they wanted the malware to be set up. The malware's creators had said that payments made by ransomware victims would be split between themselves and their customers.

Researchers at Fortinet contacted the ransomware writers pretending they were interested in using the product and, soon afterwards, were sent a sample of the malware.

Analysis revealed that it used much less sophisticated encryption than the many variants seen targeting Windows machines, said the firm.

WannacryImage copyrightREUTERS

Image captionNHS computers were hit by a high-profile ransomware attack last month

However, they added, any files scrambled with the ransomware would be completely lost because it did a very poor job of handling the decryption keys needed to restore data.

"Even if it is far inferior to most current ransomware targeting Windows, it doesn't fail to encrypt victim's files or prevent access to important files, thereby causing real damage," wrote the researchers.

The free Macspy spyware, offered via the same site, can log which keys are pressed, take screenshots and tap into a machine's microphone.

In its analysis, AlienVault researcher Peter Ewane said the malicious code in the spyware tried hard to evade many of the standard ways security programs spot and stop such programs.

Mr Ewane said Mac users needed to start being more vigilant as malware creators targeted them.

"As OS X continues to grow in market share we can expect malware authors to invest greater amounts of time in producing malware for this platform."

Statistics gathered by McAfee suggest that there are now about 450,000 malicious programs aimed at Macs - far fewer than the 23 million targeting Windows users.


Media captionWhat is ransomware?

Aamir Lakhani from Fortinet said Mac users should make sure their machines were kept up to date with the latest software patches and be wary of messages they receive via email.

"Mac ransomware is definitely becoming bigger," he told EWeek. "Although market share is still small, hackers know that there is valuable data on the Mac."

Apple declined to comment on the developments.

Source: vision.discus.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Jun 2017

Firm pitches game as classroom resource to help students learn about coding and computing


Microsoft is taking Minecraft to the classroom

Microsoft is taking the Minecraft game and pitching it at classrooms as a complementary tool to assist in the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Minecraft will be offered as a classroom resource to help students learn about events and geographies and provide an introduction to coding and computing.

"Technology empowers educators and inspires students to achieve more. It opens the door to a classroom and world full of possibilities and learning infused with curiosity," said Anthony Salcito, vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft, in a Microsoft in Education Blog post.


"Innovative educators are seeking resources that can spark this curiosity and imagination, drive discovery and creation, and foster sharing and collaboration.

"Thanks to passionate students and visionary educators around the world we are finding Minecraft to be one of these resources in classrooms.

"In response to the excitement from educators I'm excited to introduce our new Minecraft destination designed to provide educators with a forum to share their ideas and receive inspiration."


Salcito cited existing uses of Minecraft as evidence as how the game can be used in numerous ways for educational purposes.

"Elementary students in Seattle are learning foundational math skills by calculating perimeter, area and volume in Minecraft during a Saturday math program.

"Alfriston College students in New Zealand are partnering with Auckland War Memorial Museum to learn the history of the New Zealand people who served in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign by re-creating the landscape in Minecraft, block by block.

"Middle schoolers are learning the building blocks of computer science in an online Minecraft coding camp. Elementary students in Scotland are learning about city planning and engineering by reimaging, redesigning and then building in Minecraft what they think Dundee waterfront should look like."

Microsoft acquired Minecraft from games developer Mojang last year in a deal worth $2.5bn in a move that was not universally welcomed by fans of the game, although Microsoft promised it would not alter the ethos of the game.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Jun 2017

Unpatched Virgin Media Super Hub uses single encryption key, warn researchers

Virgin Media fixes Super Hub security flaw uncovered by researchers

Virgin Media fixes Super Hub security flaw uncovered by researchers

Virgin Media has rushed out patches to secure its Super Hub routers after researchers found a glaring security flaw that would enable attackers to gain full administrative rights to every Virgin Media Super Hub in the UK. 

Researchers at Context Information Security found that, following an investigation in which the box firmware was reversed engineered, they were able to gain access by restoring backups of user configurations, such as port forwarding and dynamic DNS.

The issue was caused because the encryption key is identical for all Super Hubs, meaning that if an attacker could takeover one, they could take over every single Virgin Media router. 

At its worst, the access available could allow an intruder to access the entire network and change settings on anything that was attached.

Andy Monaghan, a principal security researcher at Context said: "The Super Hub represents the default home router offering from one of the UK's largest ISPs and is therefore present in millions of UK households, making it a prime target for attackers.

"While ISP-provided routers like this are generally subject to more security testing than a typical off-the-shelf home router, our research shows that a determined attacker can find flaws such as this using inexpensive equipment."

"ISPs will always be at the mercy of their hardware suppliers to some extent," said Jan Mitchell, a senior researcher at Context.

"Recent press coverage of attacks such as the Mirai worm highlights the importance to vendors of carrying out independent security testing of their products to reduce the likelihood of exploitation in production devices. Thankfully, Virgin Media was quick to respond to Context's findings and start the remediation process."

A spokeperson for Virgin Media said, in a statement: "As made clear in Context's blog post, Virgin Media has deployed a firmware patch to our SuperHub 2 and 2AC routers that addresses this issue.

We take the security of our customers very seriously and experts within our organisation often work with trusted third-parties to help keep our customers as secure as possible. We thank Context for their professionalism and cooperation."

So just to confirm, although there was an issue, thanks to Context, Virgin Media has now been able to fix it and as long as you're not stopping your router from updating to the latest software version, you've nothing to worry about. 

Virgin Media recently announced it was to make customer's routers into public hotspots, in the same way as BT does with FON. 

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Jun 2017

4K, teraflops and all the rest are no replacement for decent games - when is the arms race going to end?

Xbox One X - a sales blag, and nothing more

Xbox One X - a sales blag, and nothing more

Microsoft Xbox Scorpio has officially arrived, and it's called the Xbox One X. The XB1X. The XBoneX. XOX. Aww. We love you too.

Logically broken name aside, the Xbox One X led an E3 showing from Microsoft that the company is carefully trumpeting and retrumpeting contained "42 games" for your delectation.

It's just a pity that the vast majority of them have been in the Steam sale for several years already, and show an alarming amount of 16-bit pixel art inspirations that you could easily run on a Sega Mega Drive, never mind something with this many teraflops and zetafans and isotropic giga-terrain system support Mega RAM.

Otherwise, it's mostly more Forza and stuff. I met Dan Greenawalt once and he was very nice, but the man can't half talk about the relationship between tyres and roads. He was going on about Forza being the most physically realistic tyre-road interface in about 2005, and doing it in 3840 x 2160 isn't really going to change much. It's still just Caterhams going round in circles over and over again, you know.

Anyway, apart from cars, more cars and a load of shooting-exoskeleton-in-dystopian worlds-but-now-in-higher-resolution-than-ever games (alright, and Assassin's Creed with a lovely eagle), what really struck me about the yawnsome, nerd tech bragging-rights of the Xbox One X was Microsoft's furore around 4K Minecraft.

Minecraft. A game about forming worlds out of big cubes, with deliberately low-resolution textures on them. A game about the delight of minimalism and the imagination. Now in 4K.

Could there ever be a bigger indicator that this resurgence of the meatheaded specmania has all gone too far? That the absolutely chronic dearth of good ideas (and reliable sales thereof) in the games industry has now reduced console buying to a hyped, iterative, iPhone-like buying cycle where you're effectively buying a new machine just to post photos of its newer, slimmer, flatter, newerness on Twitter, argue needlessly and incessantly about specs with your snorting "PC Master Race" colleagues on Reddit, and basically become a walking, bickering advertisement for a technology company's desperate attempts to stay relevant and profitable in a market of low concept dudebro waffle that's turning no heads?

Filling up the E3 PR gaps for a 4K, hyper-specced console with deliberately low-tech games like Cuphead and Deep Rock Galactic is just absolutely embarrassing and weird, and heavily underlines the disconnect here.

The fact all of this excited big graphics talk also included word that - after clearly finding that compatibility for a slew of Xbox 360 games was a good selling point - Microsoft is now adding back-compat for original Xbox titles, made everything even more ironic.

This new scheme is starting with Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge - a game that never looked particularly ground-breaking and fantastic even at launch in 2003, but was just a very good arcade-style dogfighting game with a rich universe attached to it.

You don't need a £449 console to play it, but at the same time you'd be hard-pushed to find anything much better in its genre in the 14 years since its release.

The reason? At some point in time, Microsoft forgot it was supposed to be a games publisher as well as a hardware purveyor, and is now fast dragging all its customers into a ridiculous arms race with its rivals at Sony to keep sticking a few more MHz under the hood, an extra letter or two on the name, and less decent games than ever piped down to the television. R&D could easily have gone on a few more Rare games than creating this fancy behemoth that nobody needs.

If this sort of strategy keeps up, Microsoft and Sony could be the two giants who destroy each other, and the console industry. Sony's profits keep dipping - despite the PS4 almost solely sustaining the company in some quarters - and while Microsoft has the cash reserves to keep going, this driving process of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses is coming with an almost total abandomnent of software innovation for both parties.

For those wondering, I still don't like the Nintendo Switch and I still think it's overpriced and balanced awkwardly between home and portable (just look at FIFA 18 and its weird, old, TV-unfriendly engine).

But at least in concepts like ARMS and whatever the new Mario is going to be (probably great - it's Mario!) Nintendo is actually trying to cue up something to make the most of what it's built here.

For the rest of us, it's a couple more years of  upscaled cars, guns, cars ‘n' guns before we're told to upgrade to the next level of terafloppage.

And, by god, Microsoft's grinning executives are going to bang that tech drum and make you think you need this thing (and the next thing after it) in your life while it sits on your shelf - like your Xbox One before it - slowly gathering dust once you've posted enough angles of the newest, blackest, blandest box on Instagram, and resumed your neutral nu-gaming position of aimlessly tapping at Clash of Clans in front of Britain's Got Talent.

Any number of metaphors about emperors and clothes or cars without fuel would serve here, but here's the bottom line: the Xbox One has few decent games, and rereleasing it with the capacity for even nicer graphics while still announcing no interesting games to capitalise on those technological gains is a lousy idea, which wastes development cash for Microsoft and punishes the consumer with the delivery of a big, boring box with no toys inside.

Words like "powerful", "immersive", "smoother" and "bigger" are only as good as the games they support, and from where I'm standing, right now, there's nothing out there except finely-rendered 4K tumbleweed.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 13th Jun 2017


Facebook logoImage copyrightREUTERS

Image captionFacebook has yet to comment on the death sentence

A man accused of posting blasphemous content to Facebook has been sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan.

Taimoor Raza was convicted after allegedly posting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions within the site's comments.

The public prosecutor involved said he believed it was the first time the death penalty had been awarded in a case related to social media.

Human rights campaigners have expressed concern.

Facebook itself has yet to comment on the case.

The US firm previously announced in March that it was deploying a team to Pakistan to address the government's concerns about blasphemous content on its service, but added that it still wished to protect "the privacy and rights" of its members.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described blasphemy as being an "unpardonable offence".

Religious debate

Raza's case was heard by an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur - about 309 miles (498km) from the capital Islamabad.

His defence lawyer said the 30-year-old had become involved in an argument about Islam on the social network with someone who had turned out to be a counter-terrorism official.

The public prosecutor said the accused had been arrested after playing hate speech and blasphemous material from his phone at a bus stop, following which his handset had been confiscated and analysed.

Raza will be able to appeal against the death penalty at Lahore High Court and then, if required, in Pakistan's Supreme Court.

The Express Tribune, a local newspaper, reported that the verdict came days after a college professor was refused bail in another case involving accusations of blasphemy on social media in Pakistan.

Amnesty International recently published a report critical of the country's blasphemy laws.

Its Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, has called for Raza's immediate release.

"Convicting and sentencing someone to death for allegedly posting blasphemous material online is a violation of international human rights law and sets a dangerous precedent," she told the BBC.

"No one should be hauled before an anti-terrorism court or any other court solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief online."

Anti-Facebook demoImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThere were anti-Facebook protests in 2010 after a competition to draw the Prophet Muhammad

The developments come seven years after a Pakistan court temporarily blocked local access to Facebook after the social network was used to promote a contest to draw images of Prophet Muhammad - an act considered to be offensive by many Muslims.

Analysis - Tahir Imran, BBC Urdu social media editor

This is a dramatic time for Pakistani social media. Once considered a platform where people could express themselves freely, it is now a place where people worry about the consequences of commenting.

Instead of acting to restore confidence and safeguarding the masses' right to freedom of expression, the government has been busy making threats through TV and newspaper adverts.

This is happening with a clear understanding about the gravity that accusations of blasphemy can have. There have been several incidents of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands after such claims.

Human rights activists accuse the government of pushing through a controversial cyber-crimes law without addressing their concerns.

In a country where fewer people have been convicted of blasphemy than have been killed after being accused of the offence, this ruling will not calm nerves. And increasingly people prefer to use chat apps and closed groups to post content so that their thoughts cannot be seen by the wider public.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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