The latest feature to be introduced to Facebook by Zuckerberg’s band of merry men is an ‘unfollow’ feature which is gradually being rolled out across user accounts. Not to say Facebook is playing catch up with other social networks or anything, but that sounds a little bit on the familiar side.
The new feature is aimed at anyone whose Facebook feed is inundated with obnoxious acquaintances and rage-inducing distant relatives. So basically, most of us. The Unfollow option is taking aim at one of the biggest insults in the age of social media: the unfriend button. Since Facebook has become so widespread and commonly used, few things seem to insult people as much online as being unfriended.
To avoid removing users completely, you will now be able to use Facebook’s unfollow feature to simply turn off updates from your oversharing friends list. A feature similar to this has already existed in the newsfeed for some time, labeled as “Hide” and tucked away in a drop down menu next to posts. The point of the Unfollow button is to make this whole process easier, so you can quickly mute someone’s annoying updated without them ever having to know that you’re not reading about their riveting posts about their breakfast and the traffic.
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Up until recently, YouTube’s big plans for the holidays involved the release of the site’s new subscription music service; however those plans have been pushed into 2014. The rollout of the new service has now been given an indefinite debut date sometime in the first quarter of the New Year.
According to reports, the reason for the delay is that whilst YouTube’s licensing agreements and legal obligations are all in place and updated, the actual product still needs some more fine-tuning. One of the biggest issues that YouTube’s developers will need to solve is how to integrate professionally recorded works with popular user-generated content such as mash-ups and remixes.
YouTube is famously known as the world’s largest video site, but perhaps less well-known is the fact that it is also the world’s largest music service. The music subscription service will likely have a similar format to online music competitor Spotify, and will be able to deliver on-demand music with the option for a premium ad-free version.
It is still unclear what will become of Google’s clumsily-named music subscription service, Google Play Music All Access. Google, who own YouTube, may opt to integrate its existing streaming service with YouTube, though nothing has been confirmed or denied by the tech giant.
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After a few days of silence, Microsoft has nonchalantly shrugged its shoulders and denied any knowledge of an attack by shady hacktivist group Anonymous.
Last week, an individual claiming to form part of Anonymous boasted online that a DDoS attack targeting Microsoft’s Japanese domain had not only taken down its target, but had actually spread further than the group had originally intended. The story was reported by a number of media outlets, however Microsoft have broken their silence to report that they have not experienced any such successful attack on any of their domains.
The alleged attack was coordinated by an element of the decentralised hacker group, and supposedly caused several of Microsoft’s core sites to crash. Amongst the supposed list of casualties were Hotmail.com, MSN.com, Outlook.com and Microsoft.com, which were all supposedly taken down by the hackers as part of a protest against the killing of dolphins in Japanese waters.
Though the attacks supposedly too place November 23rd it took Microsoft until the first week of December to comment on the issue. According to Microsoft, whilst they did experience some problems with sites on the company’s Azure cloud, the issues are thought to be DNS-related and occurred on November 21st, a full two days before the alleged Anonymous attack.
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Online analytics from comScore have taken a deeper look into the age distribution of social media users in the United States. As social media has become more popular, certain trends have emerged revealing the favorite networks of digital native youths and older users alike.
This year it was revealed that Facebook’s dominating popularity may have given the site enough rope to hang itself in the teenage market. Now that so many people are on Facebook, the social media giants are actually loosing popularity with teenagers, who are not keen to have mom and dad digitally snooping. Instead, social media-hungry teens flocked to alternative social media like Twitter, SnapChat and Instagram.
Twitter, which was once seen as a social media network for older users suddenly became inundated with teenage users fleeing from parental judgment. In fact, statistics by comScore reveal that as many as 50% of Twitter’s unique visitors in October were under 35 years of age.
On the other hand, the same statistics have revealed that around two thirds of LinkedIn’s total visitors are older than 35. Despite their slipping popularity amongst teenagers, Facebook has remained the social media with the most even spread of users, though time will tell if the social media king will be knocked off his throne in the future.
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The next big thing from Microsoft is about a year away, with the release of the mysterious project codenamed “Threshold” set for some time in spring 2015. Though there have been rumors of this next wave of operating systems from Windows, sources have confirmed that Microsoft executive VP Terry Myerson has mention the project himself.
Threshold, which was mentioned by Myerson in an internal email recently, will supposedly be an update to all three of Microsoft’s main operating systems- Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox One. It is thought that the release will allow Windows devices to share common elements and interact more easily than they have done in the past. Reports about Threshold also claim that the update will feature one single app store which will cater to all three of Microsoft’s main platforms.
At the core, these three platforms all share a common Windows RT core, but Microsoft will reportedly unify the development of all three operating systems. One big change which is being reported is that all three platforms will be able to support the same set of what Microsoft have labeled “high value activities”. In practical terms, this means that Office programs, Bing, and Intune will be available across all three platforms, along with other programs.
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As more consumers opt to purchase smaller smart devices, 2013 has seen a serious decline in the sale of PC around the world. Global shipments of PC are thought to have taken a dive of around 10.1% in this last year according to statistics gathered by research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
According to the IDC, the drop in PC sales around the world is actually worse than the 9.7% loss which was originally expected in 2013. This is just the latest blow to PC sales, which have seen a steady drop for the last 6 quarters, making this the longest single drop since computers entered the consumer market.
This trend is largely due to the growing global popularity of devices such as tablets and smartphones. Research firm Gartner also stated earlier this year that the easy availability of inexpensive tablets attracted first-time buyers towards tablets rather than PCs. It was expected at first that PCs would begin so slowly see a rise in sales in around the middle of 2013, but this view has been proved heavily wrong. Worldwide shipments are still expected to drop in 2014, but the rate should be somewhat reduced from the startling figures seen in 2013.
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Although malicious software has largely left American markets unaffected so far, McAfee has confirmed that security and malware protection are becoming urgent issues for smartphone users.
Security firm McAfee stated in its third quarter threat report that it has discovered almost 700,000 new malware programs aimed specifically at Android-based mobile devices. The large part of these new malware variants are seen to affect users from Asia-Pacific countries, even as Google does its utmost to weed malware out of the Google Play store. It is estimated by McAfee, whose mobile security software is used frequently in the Asian Pacific area, that at least 7% of all users in the region have experienced a mobile malware attack.
Part of the reason the mobile malware is so common to Android users in this region is that fact that unofficial app stores are more common. McAfee’s chief technology officer, Mike Fey, said that user behavior in the APAC region was different to that of American users, who were far less likely to download unofficial apps.
Currently mobile devices are still a relatively small market for cyber-criminals; even though the amount of malware created for Android has skyrocketed in recent years, it is still nothing in comparison to the number of malicious programs targeted at Microsoft devices.
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