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Vodafone Pay TV launch rumoured for November

Vodafone is gearing up to offer a pay TV service, the latest global telco to move into the four-play arena, and the scuttlebutt is that consumer offerings will go on sale in November. Vodafone has offered broadband before but sold the business to BT’s Plusnet in 2007. The mobile phone giant announced that it would re-enter the …
Simon Rockman, 16 Mar 2015

Facebook shops for ads tech – snaps up product search engine TheFind

Facebook has bought Mountain View, California-based product search engine TheFind for an undisclosed sum. The outfit, founded in 2006, confirmed the takeover from Mark Zuckerberg's free content ad network in a statement on its website. TheFind claimed to have helped 1 billion shoppers track down products using its service, …
Kelly Fiveash, 14 Mar 2015

BBC websites GO TITSUP – Auntie blames 'internal system failure'

Updated The BBC is suffering a major outage, after its websites – including News and the public service broadcaster's iPlayer system – buckled in the past hour. It's unclear, at time of publication, what was behind the Beeb's technical woes. An unknown number of people attempting to visit various online BBC services were greeted with a …
Kelly Fiveash, 14 Mar 2015

Attack of the Digital People: The BBC goes fully Bong

Comment Imagine this. At vast expense, the BBC launches a chain of launderettes - digital launderettes, that we shall call "BeebWash". Each BeebWash "space" (they love the word "space") would show BBC programmes and no doubt, "facilitate community engagement". So expansive and vague is the BBC's current Royal Charter, that BeebWash …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Mar 2015

Angry Austrian could turn Europe against the US - thanks to data

In a David versus Goliath battle, an Austrian law student may topple the biggest EU-US data sharing deal when he gets his day in court in a couple of weeks' time. Max Schrems, who set up the Europe v Facebook group, alleges that Facebook violated the so-called safe harbour agreement which protects EU citizens' privacy. He says …
Jennifer Baker, 13 Mar 2015

FTC to DirecTV: No more lies! Tell viewers what you really charge

US watchdog the FTC is taking DirecTV direct to court, alleging the satellite TV biz fooled Americans over the true cost of its service. The commission claims California-based DirecTV did not clearly explain to subscribers that it raised the prices on its two-year package after the first twelve months. "DirecTV misled consumers …
Shaun Nichols, 11 Mar 2015

Doh! iTunes store goes down AFTER Apple Watch launch

Apple fanbois worldwide are flinging their iThings into the bin after the iTunes Store and App Store began spewing out error messages earlier. Cupertino spent much of this morning apparently ignoring gripes from fuming customers who moaned about the service going titsup on microblabbing site Twitter. However, Apple has finally …
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Mar 2015

Facebook-owned, Billy-no-mates FriendFeed starves to death

FriendFeed – a photo, message and image-sharing website created by former Googlers in 2007 and scooped up by Facebook two years later – has signed its own death warrant. The firm said in a blog post on Monday that the service, which has been "maintained" ever since Mark Zuckerberg's company acquired FriendFeed, would be axed …
Kelly Fiveash, 10 Mar 2015
Saudi Snapchat meeting

Teen sex pic swap shop SnapChat seeks Saudi cash to keep selfies flowing

Bosses at selfie-swapping upstart Snapchat spent the weekend in Saudi Arabia seeking investment from the Warren Buffett of the Middle East: Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. The self-destructing-photo app biz is looking for about $500m, and hopes the prince – a member of Saudi Arabia's ruling royal family – can chip in a few million …
Iain Thomson, 9 Mar 2015
Spy hides in dustbin, lifts lid to take photograph

UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance

Comment A Supreme Court decision handed down on Wednesday has given carte blanche to police forces to retain personal data they have collected for virtually any purpose and hold it as long as they like – even when the people targeted are not violent and have committed no crime. The case, R (on the application of Catt) (AP) (Respondent) …
Google car

Google creeps up on another sector: Adds car insurance to Compare

Google has added car insurance to its "Google Compare" suite of products, which are "designed to help people make confident, more informed financial decisions." Insurance providers have been told by the Chocolate Factory that "people searching for car insurance on their phone or computer can find you along with an apples-to- …

Netflix: Look folks, it's net neutrality... HA, fooled you

Well, that didn't take long. "Net neutrality" lobbyist Netflix has smashed a rule that net neutrality activists view as sacred. Netflix is about to launch in Australia and New Zealand after signing what it calls "un-metering agreements" with ISPs. This means that Netflix traffic will be zero rated, and won't count as part of a …
Elonex One and friend

Shove off, ugly folk, says site for people who love themselves

The hotness police at BeautifulPeople.com have reportedly booted off 3,000 ugly folk, telling them "their looks no longer come up to the rigorous standards expected". The site, which helps people looking for love who love themselves meet other people looking for love who love themselves, periodically reviews the suitability of …
Kat Hall, 6 Mar 2015
Baseball umpire

You're outta here! Baseball star strikes out sleazy trolls who targeted teen daughter

A former star of Major League Baseball hit a pair of alleged Twitter trolls out of the ballpark this week – by naming and shaming them on his blog, causing one to be fired and the other suspended from school. Former Arizona Diamondbacks Boston Red Sox Curt star Schilling published screengrabs of obscene tweets about his 17-year- …
Shaun Nichols, 4 Mar 2015
Netflix House of Cards remake

Optus joins iiNet with free-to-download Netflix offer for Australians

Australia's second-largest ISP Optus has followed the third-largest, iiNet, by announcing Australians will be able to watch Netflix without the downloads counting towards their monthly data cap. The announcement places pressure on Australia's dominant carrier, Telstra, to do likewise. But as Telstra is a major shareholder in …
Riot police in London. Pic: Steve Jackson

The BBC wants to slap a TAX on EVERYONE in BLIGHTY

The BBC could resurrect Margaret Thatcher's hated Poll Tax as well as turning itself into a technology giant to fend off "colonising" American media outfits, BBC director general Tony Hall has said. In his speech, delivered at London's Broadcasting House to mark his first day as DG, Hall said the BBC has not only embraced the …
Kat Hall, 3 Mar 2015
Netflix House of Cards remake

March 24th: The day most Australian download allowances become inadequate

Netflix has named the day on which its Australian (and New Zealand) service will commence: March 24th, 2015. Smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and HiSense, plus Fetch TV’s second-generation set-top box, will all be able to access the service. Netflix's home-brand shows will be offered locally, along with …

Watch out hipster nerds – Granny Beskind's behind you!

In a push back against the twenty-something, misogynistic Silicon Valley culture – along comes nonagenarian Barbara Beskind. Barbs was featured on NBC's Today show – one of those Friday human interest stories that is fun but risks dragging on a bit too long and so gradually loses your interest [uh-huh -Ed]. Well, Barbara always …
Frog on dime, credit Rittmeyer et al, journal PlosONE

Google pumps $60m into music company Kobalt

Google Ventures has pumped $60m (£39m) into London-based music tech company Kobalt Music, which helps publishers keep tabs on streaming services such as Spotify. The company has already received a stake from Michael Dell's private investment firm MSD Capital, with the latest funding adding to the princely sum of $66m (£43m) …
Kat Hall, 27 Feb 2015

Reddit showers gold on drugs, hippies and Tor-rorists

4chan-for-beginners website Reddit has announced the winners of its charity give-away. The site said that it would donate 10 per cent of its ad revenues from the last year - US$827,659.49 - to 10 charities selected by its user base. Each charity will receive a check for $82,765.95 from Reddit. True to form, Redditors settled on …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Feb 2015
Grundig Fernseh-Stereo-Konzertschrank Zauberspiegel 61 M 1 from 1959

Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

Parliament's Culture Committee has revived the idea of "conditional access" for BBC TV services – which means that if you don't pay, you won't receive the full package. MPs argue that with UK Magistrates Courts rammed with thousands of non-payers a year, conditional access would be cheaper and fairer than the current system, …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2015
html5_logo

Flash flushed: Google's AdWords to convert ads to HTML5 automatically

In the latest blow to Adobe's little-loved Flash graphics format, Google has begun nudging customers of its AdWords ad network to wean themselves off Flash by offering automatic conversion of Flash ads to HTML5. "Over half of time spent online is now spent on mobile devices," the Google Ads team said in a Google+ post on …
Neil McAllister, 26 Feb 2015

Ads watchdog: Er, what does woman in her undies have to do with ‘slim’ phone?

Mobile phone company Kazam has been put on the naughty step by the Advertising Standards Authority after viewers complained its "world's slimmest phone" ad caused offence by overtly sexualising women. The ASA noted that much of the ad focused entirely on an actor in her underwear, "including scenes that featured several close-up …
Kat Hall, 25 Feb 2015

Live a day in the life of Jennifer Lawrence: Tell Reddit to delete your stolen nude selfies

Reddit says it will crack down on the unauthorized posting of people's private nude photos. The 4chan-with-down-votes website tucked the revelation into a larger blog post about administrative changes. Under the new policy, Reddit will scrub itself clean of a racy and compromising sexy pic if someone in the snap complains the …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Feb 2015

German music moguls slammed for 'wurst ever DMCA takedown spam'

A German record label's bungling anti-piracy software flooded Google with demands to remove search results – just because the links included the word "download" in their URLs. Total Wipes Music Group says it never meant to falsely accuse sites – including TorrentFreak.com, MacUpdate.com and Opera.com – of hosting illegal …
Shaun Nichols, 23 Feb 2015
Facebook privacy image

Facebook privacy policy violates European law, says report

Facebook's privacy policy is in breach of European law, a report commissioned by the Belgian Data Protection Authority concluded on Monday. "Facebook’s opt-out system for advertising does not meet the requirements for legally valid consent," said the report by the Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT and Intellectual Property …
Kat Hall, 23 Feb 2015
Terror at 20,000 feet

Facebook meets Belgian minister: PLEASE, sir, NOT THE PROBE

Facebook is talking to Belgian authorities in an effort to avoid a Dutch-style investigation into its privacy policy. Representatives of the social network met with the Belgian privacy minister, Bart Tommelein, on Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to persuade him that Facebook’s new privacy policy is not in breach of the Belgian …
Jennifer Baker, 23 Feb 2015
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Hawking thesp Eddie Redmayne and Snowden doc Citzenfour win Oscars

Citizenfour – the documentary about master spy blabbermouth Edward Snowden – and Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything have won Academy Awards. Brit thespian Eddie Redmayne took Best Actor for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Hawking. Citizenfour took home the prize for Best Documentary Feature. The Reg will …
Team Register, 23 Feb 2015

Seven months of Basil Brush on YouTube: Er, boom boom?

Legendary stuffed TY character Basil Brush will now be available on YouTube, after TV bosses reportedly refused to give him fresh airtime. According to the Daily Mirror, Brush will be releasing a new sketch every Monday for the next 32 weeks. Brush, who, we are told, is currently on a nationwide tour, said: “I was on the Beeb …
Gareth Corfield, 21 Feb 2015
Stella Artois: Queens Tennis Championship. Artwork by stevecaplin.com for The Guardian

(Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop

Feature Nothing proves the popularity of a star product more than its name being used as a verb. Rival companies hate it, but carpets get Hoovered, wrapping paper gets Sellotaped. And what do you do to a photo? A poorly Photoshopped picture can arouse horror or derision, while a half-decent one can become an internet phenomenon. Think …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Feb 2015
Kim Dotcom

Former Mrs Dotcom hooks up with Xbox 'toyboy'

Here's one to file under #couldnthappentoanicerbloke: Kim Dotcom's former bride appears to have taken up with a younger, slimmer man. News that Dotcom now has relationship troubles to place alongside his legal, financial and political travails comes to us from New Zealand's Woman's Day, which this week brings us the news that " …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Feb 2015

Apple LIGHTSABERS to feature in The Force Awakens

Apple design supremo Jony Ive met Star Wars: The Force Awakens director at a dinner party and offered him some thoughts on lightsaber design that made it into the forthcoming flick. So says The New Yorker in a profile of Ive. The story says “Ive once sat next to J. J. Abrams at a boozy dinner party in New York, and made what …
Simon Sharwood, 17 Feb 2015
Dog's backside and tail

Help! DYING Google Helpouts YELPS out the door

Google has killed its Helpouts service less than two years since it first launched, because the ad giant failed to generate big bucks from a community of tipsters seeking to make small change from the venture. As we noted at the time, Google was attempting to move in on the bottom-feeding "how to" publishing market and hoover up …
Kelly Fiveash, 15 Feb 2015

So who just bought the rights to .blog for $20m? A chap living in Panama

Exclusive The rights to sell .blog domains – one of the most sought after new dot-word gTLDs – have been won at auction by an unknown Colombian working out of Panama. Gerardo Aristizabal and his company Primer Nivel paid an estimated $20m for the premium piece of internet real-estate, beating out industry giants Google, Afilias, Donuts as …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Feb 2015

FACEBOOK even from BEYOND the GRAVE: CHOOSE your Legacy

A new feature from the brobdingnagian jabbercontent ad platform Facebook allows its users to bequeath control of their accounts to loved ones or other selectees when they die. It tries to tread the line between handing over full control and helping those who have lost someone use their memories and contacts to grieve. For some …
Simon Rockman, 12 Feb 2015
BBC Audio Factory logo

BBC bins pricey Windows Media, Audio Factory goes live

The BBC's Audio Factory goes live today, bringing with it the end of streaming audio over Windows Media. The broadcaster flagged the demise of Windows Media last year, when it also announced Audio Factory, a streaming tool delivering audio in the AAC codec over http. Audio Factory aims to standardise Auntie's audio delivery …
Simon Sharwood, 11 Feb 2015

Netflix to Cuba: Care to spend half your wages to see Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights?

Netflix has begun offering its TV and film streaming service in Cuba, where just five per cent of the 11.27 million-strong population has access to fixed broadband connections. The average monthly salary in the country as of 2013 was $17.77 (471 pesos) a month, according to the most recent figures from Cuba's National Statistics …
Kelly Fiveash, 10 Feb 2015
Young hipster man wearing hat, suspenders, bow-tie and fake-looking tattoo-sleeve. Image via shutterstock

About that UK digital biz renaissance? Not so fast

Guest Opinion The Gibson Index business database has been surveying UK businesses since 2003. Here, founder Marcus Gibson explains why the Tech City quango’s "Tech Nation" survey touting the success of "digital" Britain is deeply flawed. The Tech City quango last week claimed to conduct the "first national" survey of the UK’s digital …
Marcus Gibson, 10 Feb 2015

'Kickass' Somali pirates get their asses kicked by Japanese ass-kickers

KickassTorrents clearly thought Somalia would be a good place to set up shop, given the ungovernable country's long association with pirates. But just two months after the hugely popular file-sharing site shifted from its kickass.to address to kickass.so, the team has had to go back to its previous domain – after kickass.so was …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Feb 2015
Virtual journalist files another scoop

Major US news organisations to develop ROBOT JOURNALISTS

In a development whose potential sinister consequences would be difficult to exaggerate, a number of major US new organisations have banded together in an alliance for the purpose of developing news-gathering robots. Nor is this some sort of HuffPost blogswarm news aggregation scrap-o-matic system: this plan would see actual …
Lewis Page, 6 Feb 2015
TwitterIPO

Has the world reached PEAK TWIT? Supplies of new Twitter users are drying up

Twitter finished off fiscal 2014 with a ripper fourth quarter in many senses, during which it doubled sales from the previous year - but the microblurt-based ads site gained fewer users than some investors hoped for. On Thursday, Twitter reported revenues of $479m for the three months ending on December 31, a 97.4 per cent gain …
Amy Pascal

Exit Interview: Sony Pics co-chair Amy Pascal flees 'Nork' hack studio

The co-chairman of hacker-ravaged Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Amy Pascal has stepped down – and will form her own production company in association with the Hollywood studio. "I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home …
Iain Thomson, 5 Feb 2015