EU States Endorse Overhaul of Data Protection Rules

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European Union member states endorsed a sweeping overhaul of the 28-country bloc’s data protection laws on Monday, bringing a web of national laws into one set of rules that could see companies fined when they break them.The new data protection regulation seeks to strengthen the privacy of citizens at a time when the use of personal data by Web giants such as Facebook and Google has come under increased scrutiny in the EU.

The new rules still need to be approved by the European Parliament, which could push for changes, but a final agreement is expected by the end of the year.

One of the issues could be the level of fines. The deal endorsed by member states on Monday sets penalties of up to 2 percent of annual turnover for companies breaking the rules. However EU lawmakers voted last year for a ceiling of 5 percent of annual turnover.

“Today we take a big step forward in making Europe fit for the digital age,” said Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

Among the key planks of the reform will be the so-called “one stop shop”, a system designed to avoid businesses operating across the bloc having to deal with 28 different regulators and possible conflicting decisions.

Under the new system companies with activities in more than one country will only have to deal with the regulator in the country where they have their main EU base, even if a data protection issue arises which affects citizens in another member country.

However, over the past year the “one stop shop” system has been watered down following concerns from some member states who did want to see their policing powers reduced over companies such as Apple and Facebook, which have declared Ireland to be their European bases.

As a result, any “concerned” data protection authority will now be able to object to a particular ruling, triggering a referral to a still-to-be-created board of all 28 EU regulators which could then take binding decisions.

The reform will also formalise citizens’ “right to be forgotten”, giving them a chance to request that outdated or irrelevant information be removed from online search results.

OnePlus 2 Launch Date and Price Tipped Again

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Until now, we heard the OnePlus founder only revealing the launch period of the company’s OnePlus 2 handset in Q3 of this year. Now according to the latest rumours, the smartphone is said to be officially introduced in July.

The rumours, coming from Chinese website MyDrivers (via Gizmochina), also mention the price tag of the smartphone as CNY 1,999 (roughly Rs. 20,600), which is lower than the CNY 2,499 (roughly Rs. 25,000) price tag CEO Liu Zuohu (aka Pete Lau) tipped last month. However, the smartphone would still be priced more than the current flagship handset. However, if the new rumoured price is anything to go by, OnePlus 2 might prove to be one of the cheapest Snapdragon 810 processor-laden smartphone in the market.

The report also says that another smartphone with more powerful specs can be launched before the end of this year. Both the low price of the handset, alongside a second smartphone being due to be released later this year, goes in line with previous reports that suggested both a top-end flagship and a cheap version will be released this year.

Last month OnePlus One’s successor appeared in an alleged Chinese benchmarking website, revealing a bunch of specifications. As per the benchmarks, the smartphone is supposed to feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor; 3GB of RAM; full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display; 5-megapixel front camera, and Adreno 430 GPU.

Contradicting previously leaked specifications, the Chinese benchmark website hinted at a 13-megapixel rear camera on the OnePlus 2, instead of a 16-megapixel camera. Some of the other rumoured specifications of the OnePlus 2 included a 3300mAh battery; 4G LTE; GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Micro-USB and OTG connectivity.

Earlier this month the firm also announced that while OnePlus users worldwide would be receiving Android 5.1 Lollipop-based CM 12.1 “soon”; the update for OxygenOS with the same Android build is currently on hold and will be made available for the OnePlus One only after the OnePlus 2 itself is launched.

Airtel to Start 4G Trials in Delhi From Thursday

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India’s largest telecom service provider Bharti Airtel will start trials of its 4G services in Delhi from Thursday.According to sources, the company has set up the network and already informed the customers having 4G-enabled handsets to get 4G SIM cards.

“The company will do the beta launch of 4G in Delhi on June 18,” a source said.

The company had started its 4G services in 2012 with the first launch in Kolkata.

Airtel’s 4G services are now available in several parts of the country including Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh and Amritsar.

The company has also got permission from the Department of Telecom (DoT) for the launch of its 4G services in Delhi.

It is learnt that the telecom major has tied up with Chinese telecom equipment and network solution firm Huawei for 4G network rollout in Delhi circle.

Bharti Airtel had over 324 million customers across its operations at the end of March 2015, as per data available on its website.

In mid-May, Airtel launched 4G trials for its existing customers in Hyderabad in Telangana and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. Slightly before that in May, Airtellaunched its 4G trials for its existing customers in Mumbai. It started its 4G services trial in Chennai from May 14.

As part of this, existing customers across these cities can now avail of a complimentary upgrade to Airtel 4G SIM, and get 4G data at 3G prices, Airtel said in a statement.

In the meanwhile, in June, Airtel’s mobile Internet packs, both 2G and 3G, sold online were hiked in price for prepaid customers across the country. The company has withdrawn discounts that it was offering for online purchase of mobile data packs, bringing the prices at par with Internet packs sold offline through retailers.

Lovely Planet Is the First Game Developed by an Indian for the Wii U and Xbox One

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Indie first-person shooter Lovely Planet was one of the quirkier games to hit the PC last year and it has now become the first game developed by an Indian to make it to the Wii U and Xbox One.

Though the game logo with its title in Japanese might not suggest an Indian connection, the game’s Delhi-based developer Vidhvat Madan said at the time it was so to go with the Lovely Planet’s crazy, abstract vibe wherein not everything is supposed to make complete sense.

The publishing duties will be handled by tinyBuild (who published it on PC last year as well), and Lovely Planet’s scheduled to hit the Wii U in December. Though the Xbox One version was announced to hit Microsoft’s black box in summer, there’s no sign of it on the Xbox One Store just yet.

Sporting trippy visuals and gameplay in-line with twitchy shooters like Quake and Doom, Lovely Planet was a revelation of sorts when it the PC last year. A release on consoles is welcome. Even more so on the Wii U considering that Nintendo is offering a special E3 2015 promotion on it.

“For a limited time only, the Nindies@Home programme lets people download free preview versions of nine Nindie games from Nintendo eShop for Wii U from now until 23:59 local time on 22nd June 2015,” a press release from Nintendo reads. “Best of all, once the full games launch, players of the Nindies@Home preview versions can save 15 percent on the price of each respective full version for one month after their release.”

Bye PuTTY, Microsoft Is Adding a Native SSH Client and Server to Windows

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If you are on a Windows machine and your work involves remotely managing or developing on Posix servers via SSH, chances are that not only have you heard about PuTTY, it’s likely amongst the first few software you install on any new machine. It seems Microsoft may finally be giving you a reason to say goodbye to the popular SSH and Telnet client, as the company is planning to add a native SSH client and server to Windows via PowerShell.”I’m pleased to announce that the PowerShell team will support and contribute to the OpenSSH community – very excited to work with the OpenSSH community to deliver the PowerShell and Windows SSH solution,” Angel Calvo, Group Software Engineering Manager, PowerShell Team, announced via a company blog post.

With Windows set to add a SSH server as well a client, not only will Windows users be able to log in to Linux, Unix, OS X, and other machines via SSH, these clients will also be able to log in to Windows machines over SSH.

Unfortunately, there’s no timeline on when this is likely to happen. “The team is in the early planning phase, and there’re no exact days yet.” Calvo added. “However the PowerShell team will provide details in the near future on availability dates.”

Of course this is not the first time that the PowerShell team has tried to add SSH support, but Calvo is hoping to be third time lucky.

“The first attempts were during PowerShell V1 and V2 and were rejected,” he said. “Given our changes in leadership and culture, we decided to give it another try and this time, because we are able to show the clear and compelling customer value, the company is very supportive.”

Given its huge install-base, PuTTY is unlikely to disappear even when Windows gets a native SSH client, but it will probably no longer be in the list of the first few apps developers install on any machine.

Synaptics Unveils Touch-Sensitive Space Bar for Quick Editing, Scrolling, and More

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California-based computer hardware developer Synaptics has developed SmartBar, a technology which seeks to add touch gesture features to the keyboard space bar. The company is pitching this new technology to original equipment manufacturers at Computex 2015 to develop products that enhance user productivity and usability of the keyboard.The Synaptics SmartBar, designed for desktop PCs and laptops, uses capacitive sensing technology on the space bar of the keyboard, which makes it possible to use certain gestures which can be programmed to trigger certain functions. For example, swiping on the SmartBar can select entire words, forward or backward, for quick editing. Similarly, appropriate gestures can be used for quick zooming or vertical scrolling, and up to five logical programmable buttons can be set, which can link to critical game controls or repetitive desktop functions.

An early adopter of the Synaptics SmartBar technology is Tt eSPORTS, the gaming accessory division of Thermaltake. “Enabling keyboard space bars with this powerful solution highlights our commitment to offering the most personalized and highest quality experience,” said Kenny Lin, Chairman and CEO of Thermaltake.

Huibert Verhoeven, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Human Interface Systems Division (HISD), Synaptics, said, “Integrating our touch and biometrics technology into the desktop market is a natural extension of our solutions, and just the next step in our mission to further advance the human interface revolution.”

Synaptics was founded as a neural network research company in 1986, but gained fame when it started shipping commercial products in 1995, starting with its flagship TouchPad mouse interface. Many laptops all over the world use Synaptics touchpads even today. The company will be looking to tap into the largely underdeveloped PC and laptop industry with the new SmartBar technology, in order to develop the nascent state of touch control in the PC market.

Typing These 8 Characters Sends Skype Into an Endless Crash Loop

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Typing eight simple characters – http://: – in a Skype chat window crashes the app and relaunching it probably won’t help either. Users running Skype for Windows, Android, or iOS are impacted, but those using Skype for Mac or the touch-optimised Skype for Windows 8.1 are not affected.

Update: Skype has fixed the bug and issued updates for all impacted versions of the product. “We are aware of a Skype issue and have rolled out updates for all impacted products,” a Skype spokesperson told VentureBeat. “More information can be found on our Skype Community Forum.”

The bug was reported by users on Skype’s community forums and picked byVentureBeat. Users say “clearing chat history does not help, because when Skype downloads chat history from server, it will crash again. [sic]”

An unofficial workaround on Skype forums suggests asking the user who sent the characters to delete the message from their history, and for you to download an old version of Skype. Of course this only works on Windows where you can easily downgrade apps, but it’s near impossible for regular users to switch to an old version of an app on Android or iOS.

The news comes a week after a similar bug was on discovered on iOS that crashed the Messages app. The bug was later found to impact other apps as well. While Apple acknowledged the bug and provided a workaround, it is yet to issue a fix.

Nasa's Alice on Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Key Discovery About Comet Atmosphere

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A Nasa instrument on board the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has given a new insight into how comet atmosphere is built.The Alice instrument found that electrons close to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko – and not photons from the sun as had been believed – cause the rapid breakup of water and carbon dioxide molecules spewing from the comet’s surface.

The Alice on board Rosetta is probing the origin, composition and workings of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to gather sensitive, high-resolution insights that cannot be obtained by either ground-based or Earth-orbiting observation.

It has more than 1,000 times the data-gathering capability of instruments flown a generation ago, yet it weighs less than four kgs and draws just four watts of power.

“The discovery we are reporting is quite unexpected. It shows us the value of going to comets to observe them up close, since this discovery simply could not have been made from earth or earth orbit with any existing or planned observatory,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for the Alice instrument at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

It is fundamentally transforming our knowledge of comets, he added.

The carbon dioxide and water are being released from the comet’s nucleus and affected by electrons near the nucleus.

Alice data indicate much of the water and carbon dioxide in the comet’s coma originate from plumes erupting from its surface.

It is similar to those that the Hubble Space Telescope discovered on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

By looking at the emission from hydrogen and oxygen atoms broken from the water molecules, Alice scientists can actually trace the location and structure of water plumes from the surface of the comet.

The comet observations will help scientists learn more about the origin and evolution of our solar system and the role comets may have played in providing Earth with water, and perhaps even life.

The Alice instrument is one of two ultra-violet spectrometers named Alice currently flying in space.

The other is on board Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft which is set to make a fly-by of Pluto in July.

A report of the findings has been accepted for publication by the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Microsoft Confirms Acquisition of Wunderlist To-Do List App Maker

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Microsoft on Tuesday said that it has bought 6Wunderkinder GmbH, a Berlin-based startup behind the Wunderlist to-do list app.”The addition of Wunderlist to the Microsoft product portfolio fits squarely with our ambition to reinvent productivity for a mobile-first, cloud-first world,” Eran Megiddo, general manager of Microsoft’s OneNote, said in a blog post.

“We’re pleased to welcome the Wunderlist team to Microsoft and excited to increase our presence in the thriving Berlin tech scene.”

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed, but a Wall Street Journal report valued it at between $100-200 million (91-182 million euros).

Wunderlist launched nearly five years ago and boasts more than 13 million users.

Megiddo said that the startup will add to the momentum of Microsoft Office, OneNote, and Skype for Business as well as the recent acquisitions of Sunrise and Acompli to bolster the US software titan’s applications or mobile devices.

In March, Microsoft acquired the Californian start-up LiveLoop and its app which allows multiple users to collaborate on PowerPoint presentations simultaneously.

Created in 2010, Wunderlist allows users to create lists to manage tasks on many devices, mobile as well as desktop.

Microsoft said the Wunderlist application will remain free in places where it is already available and that there are no price changes planned for Pro or Business versions of the software.

Pinterest Adds Shopping With New 'Buyable Pins' Feature

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Pinterest said Tuesday it is diving into e-commerce with “pins” that let people buy items they like at the popular online bulletin board.”Pinterest is already designed to work like a catalogue, so we wanted to find a way to weave buyable pins into the pages people already know,” co-founder and chief executive Ben Silbermann said during an event at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.

“Buyable pins are a simple and secure way to buy the products you love right from inside Pinterest,” he said.

Pinterest buy buttons will debut on iPhones and iPads in the United States later this month.

No timeline was given for when buy buttons might be available in Pinterest applications for Android powered devices or when they might go international.

“Believe me, we want to make sure that any pinner in the world can buy anything they want on Pinterest,” head of core products Jack Chou told AFP.

“We wanted to start with a beautiful experience on iPhone and iPad; this is just a big first step.”

Apple Pay or credit cards will be the options for paying at Pinterest, which built the service with partners including Shopify.

Pinterest announced in March that it had raised $367 million in new capital, pushing its valuation to $11 billion.

The new funds will help fuel global expansion plans for the fast-growing social network which calls itself a “visual bookmarking tool.”

Pinterest has become one of the Internet’s hottest new websites, particularly among women, by giving people virtual bulletin boards that they can decorate with pictures showcasing interests in anything from food to sports, to fashion or travel.

“Buyable pins will allow us to not only find the right audience and convert them faster, but they will be able to buy in-the-moment as they are discovering our products,” said Sumeera Rasul, founder of Madesmith.com, which showcases items made locally and sustainably by hand.

“I am super excited for buyable pins to be launched soon.”

Pinterest sells advertising in the form of “promoted pins,” but did not plan to charge fees to buyers or sellers using the coming buy buttons.

People interested in buying items they see posted at Pinterest are referred via links to outside websites.

Silbermann said the number of “pins” at Pinterest has grown by 75 percent annually and now tops 50 billion.

More ads on Instagram
Pinterest’s move into e-commerce came the same day that Facebook-owned Instagram announced plans to open its advertising platform at its popular photo and video sharing service to marketers big and small.

Instagram had been working with a few selected brands to experiment with weaving money-making ads into streams of imagery served up on smartphones or tablets.

“Later this year, we will continue to connect businesses to the right people through expanded targeting options,” Instagram said in an online post.

“Working with Facebook, we will enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on demographics and interests, as well as information businesses have about their own customers.”

Instagram promised users controls to tune the relevance of ads displayed.

There are more than two million advertisers actively using Facebook, and marketers will be able to spring off the leading social network’s platform to get into Instagram, according to the online post.

Instagram planned to start working selectively with Facebook marketing partners and then expand globally through the year.

“People want to connect with businesses of all sizes on Instagram, from their favorite local clothing stores and restaurants to the largest brands in the world,” it said in the post.