I'm not a fan of the latest update to Yahoo! Mail. I keep needing to refresh the inbox to make the emails appear, even after upgrading to the Yahoo-friendly version of Firefox. They have also done a Microsoft by rearranging everything so that regular users now have to retrain where they look for different options. Intrusive ads seem to have no problems displaying at any time. The update I have most eagerly been awaiting is support for sub-folders, so that I can organise my messages, but there's been nothing on that front as yet. The recent alterations have been more about the look and feel and allowing for themes rather than any substantive changes. At the time of writing this, a forum called "Tell us what you think about Yahoo! Mail" had received requests from over 31,000 users asking for tabs to be brought back (the reason many people decided to stick with Yahoo rather than migrate to Gmail). Other visitors to that forum had complaints about useability, some describing the latest update as a big step backwards.
In related news, Yahoo! has decided that it will provide SSL encryption as the default setting for its email service, starting next January. This might sound great, but Google, Microsoft and Facebook already have this. Facebook only started offering encryption as an option since the beginning of this year on an opt-in basis, also well behind the others. Google, for example, turned it on as a default back in January 2010, with their other services being slowly moved over since.
I've started looking more deeply into tablet computers after seeing a work colleague using one to watch movies and TV shows on airplane flights. Yes, I could do the same thing on my notebook, but it's heavier, takes longer to set up and the battery life isn't good enough to support a longer flight. The problem I'm having is that the models I do like don't support things I also want, like an SD card, which is something I just don't understand from a major brand. I like the Samsung Nexus 10, but it has no SD support. The Galaxy Note 10 does, but it doesn't have the higher screen resolution. Apple iPads are just too expensive and require you to use iTunes. Looks like I'll have to wait until the perfect combination comes out in a future model.
There's a third update available for Windows Phone 8 aimed at users with larger screens. Those with 5- and 6-inch screens will now enjoy better 1080p support and sharper icon tiles. There is also support for the latest Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor. MS has added a new "driver mode" you can set when you get behind the wheel to auto-send messages to those trying to call you. Wireless hotspots are better supported along with better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth implementation. Roll-out will occur over the next months, depending on where you live.
If you're still using Windows XP and you happen to be a US bank then you could soon be facing a security compliance issue. The support end date is April 8, 2014 _ and this also covers Office 2003. So if you're a financial institution or an ATM provider (since there will be no more security updates after then), you'll be regarded as exposed, you could lose some data and you'll no longer be eligible to use the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The UK Information Commissioner's Office has made similar noises. XP is still a very popular business operating system because it works and because so many people are familiar with it.
If you have some data or information you want your great-great-great (etc.) grandchildren to be able to read then some Dutch and German scientists have found the answer for you. Using a silicon-nitride/tungsten-based medium, they claim to be able to store data for millions (if not billions) of years using a "write-once read-many" system. As usual, the research is only in the preliminary stages.
It turns out the good old Blue Screen Of Death is not only limited to Windows devices. The new Apple 5s has apps crashing twice as often as on the 5 or the 5c. In reality, that only makes it 2% of apps and the 5s is a new 64-bit device, but the crash screen is reminiscent of the old Windows. Even though Apple claims that iOS is sandboxed, such a crash requires a device reboot.
I've been writing about this for a long time _ the Mercatus Centre, a think tank based at George Mason University in the US, has finished a study concluding that Hollywood could cut piracy rates by making its content easily and legally available. The current business model is to use legal and technological methods to stamp out piracy and keep operating. None of the top 10 pirated titles in movies are available from any of the legal streaming sites, with only half of them available for any kind of purchase. You can read more at www.piracydata.org. The study showed that unavailable content was more likely to be pirated, but that when it is made available people buy it. I have always maintained that making content available at a reasonable price is the best way to limit piracy.
James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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