Articles about Consumer

A broken phone

All the cool kids are doing it – BT hikes broadband and TV bills

BT is to hike its broadband and TV prices in an inflation-busting increase that will come into force this April. All basic broadband packages will increase by £2 per month, while BT Infinity fibre customers will be stung by a rise of £2.50 per month. The basic broadband package starts at £9.95 per month, while Infinity starts …
Kat Hall, 20 Jan 2017

Uber coughs up $20m after 'lying about how much its drivers make'

Cab app Uber has agreed to pay $20m to settle charges that it exaggerated how much drivers using its software can earn and downplayed the cost of financing cars through the company. "Many consumers sign up to drive for Uber, but they shouldn't be taken for a ride about their earnings potential or the cost of financing a car …
Thomas Claburn, 20 Jan 2017
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Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference

The Mirai botnet? Just the “tip of the iceberg” is how security bods at this week's linux.conf.au see the Internet of Things. Presenting to the Security and Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au, embedded systems developer and consultant Christopher Biggs pointed out that Mirai's focus on building a big DDoS cannon drew attention …

Is Qualcomm price gouging phone makers? Not everyone thinks so

Analysis America’s competition commissioners didn’t want to prosecute Google, which operates a monopoly in over a dozen markets, so why are they complaining about Qualcomm? Yesterday, the FTC filed a complaint against the San Diego chip giant following a South Korean indictment, and two EU probes into Qualcomm’s practices. Qualcomm …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jan 2017

LTE-Broadcast has broad deployment models. What it doesn't have is the iPhone

Analysis LTE-Broadcast is poised for mass adoption at last, claims the Alliance which was set up last April to promote it. The Alliance aims to make a splash at next month’s Mobile World Congress, to boost operator confidence in the mobile TV standard and outline some of its use cases beyond the consumer TV sector. For instance, the UK …
Wireless Watch, 18 Jan 2017
Surpised man mobile phone photo by Shutterstock

EE slapped with £2.7m fine by Ofcom

EE has been slapped with a £2.7m fine by regulator Ofcom for overcharging tens of thousands of customers. A year-long investigation found that EE made fundamental billing mistakes, overcharging 40,000 customers a total £250,000. Ofcom said EE’s "carelessness or negligence" contributed to these billing errors. It follows …
Kat Hall, 18 Jan 2017
Mom backseat driving photo by shutterstock

Revealed: How Nvidia's 'backseat driver' AI learned to read lips

When Nvidia popped the bonnet on its Co-Pilot "backseat driver" AI at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, most onlookers were struck by its ability to lip-read while tracking CES-going "motorists'" actions within the "car". A slide taken at CES shows the Co-Pilot AI assistant performing four features: facial recognition, …
Katyanna Quach, 17 Jan 2017

Auto emissions 'cheatware' scandal sparks war of words between Italy, Germany

The latest “cheatware” scandal to rock the auto industry has escalated to cause inter-government tension, with Germany and Italy trading snipes over Fiat Chrysler's claims about emissions. It's hardly surprising that once regulators discovered the Volkswagen cheat, they'd take a look at other car-makers to see if their …
Judge with gun

Smart guns are a neat idea on paper. They'll never survive reality

Comment A bright-eyed MIT undergraduate implausibly branded "the Mark Zuckerberg of guns" has recycled an age-old solution looking for a problem – the smart gun. Kai Kloepfer, the undergrad lad in question, received a $50,000 grant from the American Smart Tech Challenges Foundation in 2014 to develop his idea of a Beretta pistol …
Gareth Corfield, 16 Jan 2017

Father of Android II: A Hardware Comeback

The "Father of Android" Andy Rubin is plotting a return to hardware – and he could beat Google's own Android successor Andromeda to market. According to Bloomberg, Rubin, who left Google in 2013, has hired former Android engineers for his new venture Essential, with the idea that a "high-end" smartphone will act as a kind of …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Jan 2017
Mark Wahlberg and his come-to-life teddy bear in bed in the movie Ted. Copyright: Universal Pictures

Embrace the world of pr0nified IT with wide open, er, arms

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Would you like to play with me? I’ll show you how to do the moves. Sure, everyone will be watching us online but I promise to take you to the next level. Oh, and I’m well fit. Great, that’s all I need: another personal trainer. After last week’s confessions of a fitness-band wearer, I had rather hoped that the whole sports …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Jan 2017
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EU policy makers consider FRAND licensing of machine-generated data

EU policy makers are considering introducing a new licensing regime for anonymised "machine-generated data". It is one of the options the European Commission said could be introduced to facilitate greater access to the ever-growing volumes of data generated by "computer processes, applications or services, or by sensors …
OUT-LAW.COM, 13 Jan 2017

Everything wrong with IoT (and how to fix it) – according to Uncle Sam

The US Department of Commerce has published a green paper [PDF] on the Internet of Things, the first step in a process to develop formal governmental policies on the technology. Following a public request for comments back in April, the green paper attempts to summarize what a large number of companies, advocacy groups and …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Jan 2017

Congrats, PC slingers. That's now FIVE straight years of shrinking sales

Santa's sack was bulging over Chrimbo, but it wasn't due to PC-shaped presents – computer sales slipped again in the final quarter of 2016, capping off five consecutive years of market shrinkage. According to data from Gartner, shipments to distributors and retailers fell 3.7 per cent year-on-year to 72.6 million units. The …
Paul Kunert, 12 Jan 2017

FCC slams Verizon, AT&T over zero rating, gives T-Mobile US a hug

US comms watchdog the FCC has issued new guidelines on the controversial practice of "zero rating" and whether it is illegal or not. The upshot is that it has given T‑Mobile US's Binge On service a green light, but comes down on AT&T's Sponsored Data service and Verizon's FreeBee Data 360 as illegal. We already knew from …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Jan 2017

Dieselgate: VW pleads guilty, will cough up $4.3bn, throws 6 staff under its cheatware bus

In one of the toughest smackdowns in recent US corporate history, Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to Dieselgate fraud charges, and will cop a massive fine. Meanwhile, six staffers have been charged regarding the engine cheatware scandal and are facing the business end of a trial. According to the US Department of Justice on …
Iain Thomson, 11 Jan 2017

Oh Britain. Worried your routers will be hacked, but won't touch the admin settings

Recent Mirai-style attacks against home broadband routers have had some effect but the majority of users have failed to act. A survey of 2,000 broadband users found the majority (53 per cent) have not changed the Wi-Fi password and other default settings, potentially opening themselves up to attack. The poll by ISP comparison …
John Leyden, 11 Jan 2017
Grain silos by Scott Davis

How do file store-and-share firms avoid that sinking syncing feeling?

Interview With the demise of Bitcasa, EMC selling off Syncplicity, and so forth, the enterprise file sync and share market might appear moribund. What’s happened is a trend of consolidation plus an addition of functionality for other content functions. EFSS on its own is no longer viable. That’s the underlying message we received from …
Chris Mellor, 11 Jan 2017
Bus jump from 'Speed'

NSW bus Wi-Fi privacy, regulation: 'Move along, nothing to see here'

On Monday, we noted the privacy nightmare that is the NSW State Government's latest attempt at public transport Wi-Fi, and asked APN Outdoor, owner of Catch, questions about security and its regulatory status. Our questions have travelled around a bit, to finally get a response from the State Transit Authority. Its stance? …

How Apple exploded Europe's crony capitalism

iPhone at 10 Apple's iPhone wasn't just a shiny new thing that was irritatingly and madly overhyped. Before long, it shattered a benevolent kind of crony capitalism in which Europeans took great pride, but that was short-serving the public. And it needed an outsider to do this. Ten years ago, Europe could be excused for feeling a little …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Jan 2017
Sick bag from Intel's VR event

Too much landfill, too little purpose: CES 2017

In the nearly 25 years since last walking the showfloor at the Consumer Electronics Show, the video game industry spun off its own show - E3 - while once-dominant television manufacturers now find themselves consigned to an ever-shrinking footprint with the Las Vegas Convention Centre. The world has changed substantially over …
Mark Pesce, 10 Jan 2017
Fibre, image via Shutterstock

Oz regulator trims broadband prices

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday suggested trimming the price of wholesale broadband connections. The ACCC issued two draft determinations yesterday: the “superfast broadband access service” (SBAS), and the “local bitstream access service” (LBAS) – wholesale services that run at 25 Mbps or better. …
Crazy inventor, image via Shutterstock

Soz fanbois, Apple DIDN'T invent the smartphone after all

iPhone at 10 Apple didn’t invent the smartphone. The iPhone wasn’t as good as many of the other phones the likes of Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola were selling to the mobile networks. The real breakthrough was that Apple circumvented the buying process. There has always been a battle between the mobile phone networks and the handset …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jan 2017

CES 2017 roundup: The good, the bad, and the frankly bonkers

Pics It's that time of year again, when over 100,000 people cram into the Las Vegas Convention Center to show off the latest in consumer electronics gizmos, make deals, and exchange interesting viruses to get the inevitable conference cough. This year's CE has been about par for the course – dull keynotes, some interesting gadgets …
Iain Thomson, 07 Jan 2017
Weightlifting, photo via Shutterstock

WD slims down SSD to squeeze into little Black drive range

WD has added an SSD card to its previously all-disk Black range. The Black PCIe SSD comes in 256GB asnd 512GB capacities and features an M.2 2280 format with an NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 host connection. It is WD's third flash product using branding previously reserved for disk drives, joining the Blue and Green 2.5-inch SARA SSDs. …
Chris Mellor, 06 Jan 2017

TCL vows to keep BlackBerry alive

At least one manufacturer thinks a business-focused Android has prospects in 2017. Chinese consumer electronics giant TCL allowed journalists to fondle the next BlackBerry at CES this week, under strict conditions. The device wasn't given a name or release date, and no specifications were released. That must wait for a formal …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Jan 2017
A cute cat in a jumper waves goodbye.... Pic via Shutterstock

Yep. Bitcasa's called it quits

Analysis Cloud file storage startup Bitcasa - a firm cynics might say had an apparent death wish - has called it a day. An odd posting on its website by CEO Brian "Tap" Taptich reads: Bitcasa is no more, and this is not bad news. Thanks to the very hard work, generosity and persistence of a number of folks – from employees to …
Chris Mellor, 06 Jan 2017

Building IoT: Early Bird Ticket Offer Extended

Reg Events We’ll be bringing the IoT world’s thinkers, doers and developers together in London in March, and we really want you to be there. That’s why we’re extending the early bird ticket offer for Building IoT London for another two weeks, meaning you’ve got till January 24 to save a bundle on both our two-day conference and our …
Team Register, 06 Jan 2017

D-Link sucks so much at Internet of Suckage security – US watchdog

America's trade watchdog is suing D-Link, alleging the router and camera vendor failed to implement basic security protections in its gear. The FTC said that its complaint was based on D-Link's failure to take "reasonable steps" to secure its products, putting the privacy of citizens everywhere at risk as a result. "Hackers …
Shaun Nichols, 06 Jan 2017
Image by GTS http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-519838p1.html

Netgear unveils world's easiest bug bounty

Netgear has broken ranks from the consumer router security shame factory to offer a bug bounty sporting extra rewards for chained exploits. Hoping to shake the SOHOpeless tag, the vendor will hand out up to US$15,000 for hackers reporting global remote unauthorised access from the internet to Netgear devices, and unauthorised …
Darren Pauli, 06 Jan 2017

These boots are made for kicking imaginary things, and that's just what they'll do

CES 2017 Concerned that a virtual reality headset just isn't enough real-life escapism for you? Then perhaps you need to pair it with VR gloves and boots for that double dose of sensory deprivation. Cerevo – short for "Consumer Electronic REVOlution" (yes, REVO is capitalised for some reason) – a Japanese company specialising in " …
Katyanna Quach, 05 Jan 2017
Africa Studio http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-137002p1.html

Ransomware scum: 'I believe I'm a good fit. See attachments'

Criminals are posing as job applicants to drop ransomware into human resources departments. The ransomware vector contains two attachments. One is a harmless PDF cover letter designed to convince the human resources operative that the criminal's email exchange is legitimate. A second Excel spreadsheet attachment contains the …
Darren Pauli, 05 Jan 2017
Hello Barbie

Mattel's parenting takeover continues with Alexa-like dystopia

Today in “what could possibly go wrong?”, the company that gave the world the infamous “Hello Barbie” now wants its Amazon Alexa look-alike in kids' bedrooms. To wild applause from consumer gadget media, Mattel is pitching its Aristotle (with a female voice because that's how Greek philosophers roll these days) as a virtual …

Internet of Sh*t has an early 2017 winner – a 'smart' Wi-Fi hairbrush

CES 2017 The annual godforsaken hypegasm that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has given an "innovation award" ... to a Wi-Fi-connected microphone-fitted allegedly "smart" hairbrush. A comb through the technical specs of the Kérastase Hair Coach, a snip at around $200, reveals the high-tech hairbrush has sensors that …
Iain Thomson, 04 Jan 2017
Conceptual illiustration of fifth/sixth dimension. Finger presses light net. pHOTO BY shUTTERSTOCK

Uh-oh. LG to use AI to push home appliances to 'another dimension'

CES 2017 LG Electronics is unveiling a range of home appliances embedded with “deep learning technology” during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Riding on the coattails of tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon, the hype around deep learning - a branch of machine learning - shows no sign of fatigue as companies like LG are …
Katyanna Quach, 03 Jan 2017
Surprise VR googles photo via Shutterstock

Lenovo shows off 'Microsoft-friendly' VR cosplay at CES

CES 2017 The PC market may be flaccid but Lenovo is taking a punt on virtual reality headsets with Microsoft. Lenovo used CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, to show off prototype headgear that'll supposedly work with Microsoft's Holographic platform. We say "supposedly" – gadget-press reports say Lenovo's device isn't actually working yet. …
Gavin Clarke, 03 Jan 2017
Robot AI Woman

‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

“Fake news” vexed the media classes greatly in 2016, but the tech world perfected the art long ago. With “the internet” no longer a credible vehicle for Silicon Valley’s wild fantasies and intellectual bullying of other industries – the internet clearly isn’t working for people – “AI” has taken its place. Almost everything you …
Andrew Orlowski, 02 Jan 2017

US cops seek Amazon Echo data for murder inquiry

Amazon has resisted a warrant to release information to US police seeking data from its Echo device, in order to gather evidence on a murder investigation. The device is owned by James Andrew Bates from Arkansas, who is accused of strangling his friend Victor Collins, who was found dead in a bath at the suspect’s home in …
Kat Hall, 28 Dec 2016

A year in infosec: Bears, botnets, breaches ... and elections

How often can we say that an IT blunder might have changed the course of world history? Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server whilst serving as outgoing US President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State became a key element in the US presidential election this year. The FBI investigation around Clinton’s use of a …
John Leyden, 26 Dec 2016
Failing

Spotty battery life costs Apple's MacBook Pro its gold-star rating

Updated Geeks at Consumer Reports have, for the first time, declined to award a "recommended" status to an Apple laptop – after the latest MacBook Pro proved unreliable during testing. The testers tried out the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks with the Touch Bar, and the 13-inch without Ive's new big idea in laptop design. The results …
Iain Thomson, 23 Dec 2016

Netgear: Nothing to see here, please disperse. Just another really bad router security hole

Netgear has downplayed the significance of newly discovered flaws in its WNR2000 line of consumer routers. The vulnerabilities could hypothetically allow a remote attacker to execute code and take over the device without authentication, claims Pedro Ribeiro, the security researcher who discovered the bugs. “It is a LAN based …
John Leyden, 23 Dec 2016

Tesla set to up prices by 5% in new year because of 'currency fluctuations'

Tesla Motors is bumping up its vehicles' prices in the UK by five per cent, purportedly because of currency effects post-Brexit. According to the business, that change will arrive as soon as 2017 does, because of "currency fluctuations". These fluctuations have seen the sterling drop in value against the dollar. Today, £1 is …
Merry Christmas Australia

Christmas Eve ERP migration derailed by silly spreadsheet sort

On-call Welcome again to On-Call, the column on which we conduct a Friday forage through the inbox full of readers' stories of jobs gone wrong. Today, we wrap our special week of Festive On-Call and so our topic is ... drumroll please ... Christmas. Let's start with “Mike” who told us that “Back in the Christmas of 1995 I was working …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Dec 2016
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Rollout of smart meters continues at a snail's pace

Looking back over a turbulent year, some things remained reassuringly constant. England lost the football, Julian Assange stayed vitamin D deprived, and Blighty's smart meter rollout continued at a snail's pace. According to the latest government figures (PDF), there are now 4.9 million smart meters operating across homes and …
Kat Hall, 22 Dec 2016
Google bikes outside Google HQ. Photo by Randy Miramontez/Shutterstock - for editorial use only.

'Twas Brillo but then Android Things, which watched as Google Weaved its Nest

Comment Google has launched the developer preview of Android Things, updating and rebranding the Brillo IoT operating system which was unveiled over a year ago. Designed for medium-complexity devices, like home hubs, thermostats, and security cameras, the stripped-down version of Android has had zero success in the market. The new …
Wireless Watch, 22 Dec 2016

Groupon frauds blamed on third-party password breaches

Groupon has blamed fraudulent purchases from some UK customers' accounts on password leaks from other sites. UK consumer website MoneySavingExpert reports that “a number of Groupon users have seen £100s siphoned from their banks in recent weeks after fraudsters commandeered their accounts to make unauthorised purchases.” The …
John Leyden, 22 Dec 2016

Smartphones crashed, Samsung burned: Mobile in 2016

End-of-Year Round Up The mobile landscape this year was dominated by an air war of far greater importance taking place over the players’ heads. Giant telcos went shopping for giant media companies, while Silicon Valley continued to work to destroy the value of both pipes and content, mostly by trying to queer the regulatory pitch. Down below, back …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Dec 2016
troll

Apple sues Nokia's pet patent trolls

Apple on Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Acacia Research Corporation and Conversant Intellectual Property Management, alleging that the two "patent assertion entities" have colluded with Nokia "to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and anticompetitively from Apple" and other companies. The lawsuit comes …
Thomas Claburn, 21 Dec 2016

Zuckerberg turns his home into Creepy Robot Buddy

Guess what task the goal-driven nerd billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s fifth richest man, set himself this year. Solving the Kashmir crisis? Eradicating polio? Choosing and solving one of the problems in the Millennium Prize? Don’t be daft. He’s turned his house into a robot buddy. “My personal challenge for 2016 was …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Dec 2016
A broken phone

BT and Plusnet most moaned about broadband providers. Again

BT and Plusnet have once again topped Ofcom's quarterly whinge list for the most complained about broadband providers between July to September. Communications regulator Ofcom receives 300 complaints a day for mobile, broadband, phone and pay TV. Out of every 100,000 customers, BT received 36 complaints, while Plusnet (also …
Kat Hall, 20 Dec 2016