Samsung U28D590D Budget 4K

The Samsung U28D590D 28-inch Ultra brings 4K to the table (or your desk) at an affordable price. As screen technology goes, you do not get an IPS display for this money, but you do get a very colour accurate TN panel with a 60Hz refresh rate (when using the mDP connection). Older generation 4K displays only offered 30Hz which was fine for movie watching, but not that great for business/work use and abysmal for gaming. 

You can pick up the Samsung U28D590D here in the UK, or here in the USA (pre-order in the UK with a 1st May 2014 release date, in stock in the USA).

Twelve South HiRise for Style

One of the most interesting products I have tested this year displays & allows you to charge your iPhone 5s, 5 or iPad Mini in style. It even has some adjustment to enable the use of the stand whilst your device is in a case. 

Check out the details below, along with the video I produced showing the HiRise. 

Available to buy in the UK here and the USA here

Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat arrived in the Geekanoids studio a few weeks back and the installation was pretty straightforward. It brings full home automation one step closer. Being able to control our lights, media recording & playback, house & smoke alarms and now the heating in our houses with this latest addition. 

I love the fact that it has physical controls, so any member of the household can walk by and turn the dial to their preferred temperature. Add to this "app control too" and you are onto a winner.

The main kit comprises of everything you need to install this on most combination boilers. You get a wall mounting plate to make everything look neat & tidy, or you can sit the thermostat control on an optional stand. The Nest then learns your preferred temperature over the coming weeks, saving you money along the way. 

Pick up your Nest here in the UK, or in the USA here. The optional Nest stand is just £29 here in the UK.

Google releases standalone Camera App

You may have noticed that Google has been slowly moving many of the core apps and features from Android into separate apps available in the PlayStore. A good example of this was the Google Keyboard which was made available for anyone to download. Today Google has released the Android Camera app to the PlayStore as a standalone app simply titled 'Google Camera'.

There are a number of improvements and refinements in the Google Camera app from that found in Android KitKat firmwares. The new app introduces a much cleaner interface with a more prominent shutter button.  Also present is a brand new Lens Blur mode which promises to produce SLR quality photos and a shallow depth of field. A detailed list of features are listed below:

• Photo Spheres for immersive 360º views

• Lens Blur mode for SLR-like photos with shallow depth of field

• Panorama mode with high resolution

• 100% viewfinder for getting the maximum resolution from the sensor (no dropped pixels)

• Updated UI that gets out of your way and is centered on an extra large capture button

• Works on phones and tablets running Android 4.4+ KitKat

The new Google Camera app is available to download now from the Google PlayStore to anyone running Android 4.4 or above (KitKat). Whilst the camera apps found in flagship devices such as the new HTC One (M8) or the Samsung Galaxy S5 are pretty decent anyway it never hurts to have more options available.

 

Think before you tweet

It’s so easy to make a status update on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook that many of us do it without really thinking about it. Whilst this is okay for general status updates or tweeting about that delicious sub that you had for lunch, it can be problematic when you write a badly timed joke or something that you may think is harmless fun but actually has great consequences.

This week the internet learned of a teenage girl in the Netherlands that for some reason though it would be a good idea to tweet a terrorist threat to one of America’s biggest Airlines. Whilst I’m pretty sure Sarah or (@QueenDemetriax_) as she is known on Twitter had no idea of the seriousness of her actions, she must have known that this wasn’t going to end well? Shortly after receiving the tweets American Airlines responded to her pointing out the seriousness of the threat and informed her that they would be passing her details on to the FBI.

Upon receiving the message from American Airlines it seems that Sarah quickly realised the seriousness of her actions and began to plead with the Airline to not take the matter any further stating that she was just a girl and not from Afghanistan or a member of “Al qaida”. The initial message from American Airlines claimed that they had Sarah’s IP address and that they would be passing this onto the FBI, something which isn’t actually within the power of American Airlines. A Twitter spokesman later confirmed that the Airline didn’t have access to the IP or other details of the girl and that only a law enforcement agency could request such information from Twitter.

Sarah was arrested following the incident by Police in Rotterdam and investigations are still ongoing. I sincerely hope that this incident is a warning to others about the serious implications that can happen as a result of what we say on social networks. If you're unsure if the tweet you are about to send is inappropriate or likely to cause any repercussions the safest and most sensible thing to do is not post it.

Back in February there was a video uploaded to Geekanoids titled ‘think before you tweet’ which although it talks about businesses and banks looking at your Twitter account before making a decision on offering a loan or employment, it still hammers home the importance of thinking before you tweet so I have included the video below for reference.

 

Android 4.1.1 vulnerable to HeartBleed bug

Over the last week we have heard a lot about the HeartBleed bug and for good reason, it’s a serious problem with far reaching potential if not patched in a timely manner. Most of the coverage has been surrounding servers and routers however the problem is more widespread than this and even Android Handsets are vulnerable to the HeartBleed bug. Google announced on Wednesday a full disclosure of how Heartbleed affects it’s services. Google noted that Android version 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean) is in fact vulnerable. Manufacturers should hopefully start releasing updates as Google is distributing a patch to fix the issue.

The problem with HeartBleed on Android 4.1.1 is the sheer number of people that are running this version of the Android Operating system. Although released back in 2012 many users are still using handsets that are incapable of upgrading to the latest Android KitKat and therefore are running the outdated but still functional Jelly Bean version of Android. It’s estimated that over 34% of all Android users are still running Jelly Bean but whether this is 4.1.1 or 4.1.2 is unknown. However a Google spokesperson said that there are currently ‘millions’ of devices at risk and running Android 4.1.1.

If you're worried about your tablet or smartphone the first thing to do is establish which version of Android you are currently running. To find this out simply go to settings > about phone > software information. If you see Android 4.1.1 then you are vulnerable and you should keep an eye out for software updates on your device and also your manufacturers website for more information.

 

Why the HTC One M8 is a match for the Samsung Galaxy S5

The HTC One M8 has certainly thrown the cat amongst the smartphone pigeons and Samsungs new Galaxy S5 may not be the show stopping handset that the Korean Tech giant had hoped it would be.

This month, both HTC and Samsung launched their new flagship Android smartphones that will no doubt rival Apples new iPhone 6 later this year. A three-way race for the title of 'king of the smartphones 2014’ is well and truly underway and with HTCs new One M8, the bar has most certainly been raised.

I had the privilege of being able to attend the Irish launch of HTCs gorgeous new phone with its 5-inch Super LCD3 display, futuristic metallic design with premium build quality and unique Sense 6.0 UI. In addition, its fancy new camera can take images at a resolution of 2688 x 1520 and includes a very special depth sensor to allow for sophisticated image manipulation in post.

Samsungs Galaxy S5 is without doubt a challenger for this years smartphone honours, but upon launch, I couldnt help but get the sense that Samsung felt they just needed to show up’ and market the hell out of a slightly updated Galaxy series handset. Its’ familiar plastic chassis just continues to feel second best. However, although I think the HTC One M8 will be the surprise hit of the season, the S5 does have a lot of major selling points of its own.

Its rear camera is far superior for one thing, although the M8s front shooter is no slouch, earning the phone the moniker of the selfie smartphone. The S5 also offers the unique ability of being able to replace the battery, while still keeping its svelte 8.1mm frame, less than a hair thicker than thicker than the S4. In addition, the S5 comes with a fingerprint scanner, which the M8 lacks. Spec wise the Galaxy S5 does lead the way with a faster processor at a clock speed of 2.5 GHz compared to the M8s 2.3 GHz. Both chips are of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 variety.

The reconfiguration of the front buttons is also a nice surprise, and makes it that little bit easier to multitask with. However, the M8 offers superior gesture input, with numerous swipe and tap options to facilitate quick access to different features and applications, right from standby mode.

Although Im by no means seriously suggesting that the HTC One M8 will win the battle, it will almost certainly put up one hell of a fight. No one really expected the M8 to make as much of an impact as it has. HTC may certainly be the comeback kid of the smartphone world this year and Samsungs powerful marketing machine and brand awareness simply wont be enough on its own to guarantee supremacy. This will be a close run contest, with many consumers attracted to the M8s beautifully crafted design, MicroSD expansion to 128GB, aforementioned Sense UI and novelty camera concept.

One thing is for sure, although Samsung may still win the smartphone wars this year, they will have more than just Apple to contend with. HTC is back!

Dave Cullen is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, video content creator and founder of Computing Forever. He is known to many for his YouTube channel Lack78, where he produces regular tech-related video blogs and thought provoking industry and societal polemics.

Mozilla boss quits after gay marriage storm

Mozilla - Brendan EichYou may recall that earlier this week that OkCupid the dating website started displaying a message to their users who were accessing the site via the Firefox web browser. The message brought to the attention of users the fact that Mozilla’s CEO was an opponent of Gay Marriage which OkCupid stated was something they couldn’t support as the company was dedicated to bringing people together regardless of sexual orientation. The full statement reads:

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company.

OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.

If you want to keep using Firefox, the link at the bottom will take you through to the site.

However, we urge you to consider different software for accessing OkCupid:

[Google Chrome] [Internet Exploder] [Opera] [Safari]

Thank you,

OkCupid

Mozilla responded saying that they pride themselves on being held to a different standard and appologised that they hadn’t lived up to it on this occasion. They went on to apologize for not moving forward fast enough once the controversy started.

Fast forward a couple of days and we can confirm that Brendan Eich has resigned from Mozilla with immediate effect. Mr Eich, who co-founded Mozilla and was also known for being the creator of the JavaScript scripting language, made a $1,000 (£600) donation back in 2008 in support of California's Proposition 8 anti-gay law. Although this was originally passed it was overturned by the US Supreme court in 2013.

The appointment of Mr Eich was publically announced on 24 March and was met with much criticism on Twitter and other social networks but it wasn’t until OkCupid stepped in that things started heat up.

Mozilla has been losing users to other browsers over the years particularly since the launch of Google Chrome and is having a tough time trying to hold onto it’s users so this recent blow to the company certainly won’t be doing them any favors. With all but the most loyal fans and developers choosing Google Chrome, Mozilla really needs to up it’s game and avoid PR disasters like this one.

Do you still use Firefox or have you moved over to Chrome or one of the other browsers? Personally the only time I use Firefox now is when I’m doing cross browser testing and with UserAgent switchers improving in the Chrome WebStore this may become a thing of the past too. As usual we would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

So what's new in Windows 8.1 update?

Microsoft yesterday announced the long awaited update to Windows 8.1 during it’s BUILD developer conference. The update brings with it some quite significant changes and improvements to how Windows 8.1 works. Microsoft claims to have fixed everything that consumers felt was wrong with Windows 8 and it seems they have done a reasonably good job, though it’s unlikely to stop the complaints from diehard fans of Windows 7.

Modern Apps in Taskbar

Microsoft has added the ability to pin modern apps to the task bar so you can launch and switch between Modern UI apps much like you would do with regular applications.

Boot to Desktop

With Windows 8.1 we had the option introduced to allow us to boot straight to the desktop but it involved hunting down the settings menu in order to enable it. Thankfully now all non touch screen devices will now automatically boot straight to desktop so you can avoid the Modern UI interface which is really only suitable for touch screen devices.

Default to desktop apps

In previous versions of Windows when launching a file such as an image or video, the file would automatically open in the Modern UI version of the app. Now when opening a file Windows will automatically open the file in the desktop version of the app. Obviously you can change the default options if you wish.

Shutdown and Search Icons

It seems some users were a little confused at how to search from the new Modern UI interface as the options were actually hidden in previous versions and required the user to swipe from the side of the screen to reveal these functions. In the latest update to Windows 8.1 there are now prominent shutdown and search icons displayed at the top pointing users in the right direction.

Conclusion

Whilst these aren’t exactly groundbreaking changes they do bring with them ease of use especially to users who didn’t find previous versions of Windows 8 to be intuitive. In the past it’s likely that these relatively minor updates would have come as part of a general Windows update or a Service pack, Microsoft is doing things differently now and looking to provide more regular updates. It’s not clear why this particular update took so long to be released but it’s clear from early feedback that most users are happy with the changes being made even if it didn’t bring back the much coveted Start Menu.

 

Apple updates iWork For iOS, OS X and iCloud

Hot off the heels of Microsoft launching an iPad version of it’s famous office suite and making the iPhone version free to view and edit, Apple have released updates to its office suite - iWork. The update includes new features for Pages, Numbers and Keynote and includes better support for Microsoft Office documents.

The biggest change to come with this update is the ‘view only’ feature which allows you to share a document, spreadsheet or presentation with others without allowing them to be able to edit the document. Apple have also made the overall compatibility with Microsoft office much better particularly with password protected documents. The update also brings with it full compatibility with the newest version of Microsoft Office which has just been recently released.

Apple have also updated the desktop version of iWork and added some new transitions in Keynote, new design tools in Numbers and some new tools for creating charts and editing documents in Pages.

As for the web (iCloud) version of iWork the suite has now been updated with full retina support and a slightly refreshed design for the documents editor.

The mobile apps also received updates and enhancements such as Keynotes remote feature, documents in Pages and sheets in Numbers can now be searched by file name from within the mobile apps.

It’s no surprise that Apple have started to make updates to it’s iWork suite of apps after Microsoft released it’s subscription based iPad app. However it seems unlikely that hardened Apple fans will be won over when they have a free option with iWork which although not as feature rich as Microsoft Office it’s more than capable of getting the job done.

For a complete list of features in this update checkout Apple’s website.


 

Happy Birthday Gmail! Google's email service turns 10.

Today is April 1st and is most notably associated with pranks and in practice on the web this normally means fake news stories or spoofs. Some of the best pranks in the past have been from Google such as Google TiSP (short for Toilet Internet Service Provider) from 2007 or making every YouTube video do a RickRoll in 2008.

It’s not all been about pranks though as on April 1st 2004 Google launched Gmail BETA. In the beginning the only way to get a Gmail account was through an invitation which in the early days was not easy to come by. Thankfully obtaining an invite to Google’s Gmail became much easier though it remained the only way to get an account until 2007.

Google took a very different approach for email than it’s competitors and this was clear right from the beginning. With a whopping 1GB of storage that eclipsed what Microsoft and Yahoo! offered at the time, people could stop deleting emails and instead archive them without fear of running out of space. Another key aspect to the Gmail experience was the search experience that Google were able to integrate into their email service allowing users to quickly find the email they were looking for.

Over the years Google has made many design changes to Gmail and although they may not have been welcomed with open arms to begin with people soon got used to them and even found them to be better in the long run. Looking back at how Gmail looked in 2004 it’s clear to see there have been quite a few cosmetic changes to Gmail over the years however it still feels very much like the Gmail that was launched in 2004 which is a solid email solution that just works.