Blog Archives

Microsoft Plans To Close Nokia Acquisition On Friday

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Microsoft is set to finalize the $7 billion (£4.4bn) acquisition of Nokia’s mobile devices unit at the end of this week, following antitrust negotiations in Asia

Microsoft is scheduled to conclude its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile handset unit at the end of this week, the company said.

Today we are excited to share that we have completed the steps necessary to finalize Microsoft’s acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business,” announced Microsoft’s Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of the software giant’s Legal and Corporate Affairs department in a 21 April statement. Microsoft first announced that it was acquiring Nokia’s smartphone manufacturing operations on 2 September, 2013.

Windows Phone competition

“The transaction will be completed this Friday, 25 April, when we’ll officially welcome the Nokia Devices and Services business as part of the Microsoft family,” added Smith.

Nokia is Microsoft’s premier Windows Phone producer. In a bid to catch up to Apple and Google in the hotly contested smartphone market, the companies formed an alliance in 2011. As part of the partnership, Nokia replaced the Symbian smartphone operating system with Microsoft’s mobile Windows Phone OS.

Addressing the massive deal, funded by Microsoft’s overseas holdings, then-chief executive Steve Ballmer described the transaction in an email to staffers as “a smart acquisition for Microsoft, and a good deal for both companies”.

The acquisition, originally expected to close during the first quarter of this year, hit some speed bumps. “As with any multinational agreement of this size, scale and complexity, our two companies have made adjustments to the original deal throughout the close preparation process,” revealed Smith. The alterations, he explained, entailed “numerous agreements to address items ranging from manufacturing to IT”.

Antitrust concerns

In December, China’s Ministry of Commerce subjected the deal to an antitrust investigation over concerns that Microsoft would hike patent fees for the country’s smartphone makers, namely Lenovo, Xiaomi and ZTE, once the tech titan took ownership of Nokia’s IP. China granted final approval earlier this month.

“The original deal had all employees in Nokia’s Chief Technology Office continuing with Nokia,” said Smith. The terms were changed “so the 21 employees in China working on mobile phones will join Microsoft and continue their work”.

Smith explained that the companies also ran into complications in South Korea. Originally, Microsoft was to acquire Nokia’s manufacturing plant in that country. “The agreement was adjusted and Microsoft will not acquire the facility,” said Smith.

Finally, Microsoft is taking over Nokia.com and related social media accounts “for the benefit of both companies and our customers for up to a year”, said Smith.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is reportedly mulling a name change once the acquisition is completed. Nokia Power User posted a leaked email to Nokia’s business suppliers that indicated that the brand will be renamed Microsoft Mobile.

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Dropbox Users: Your Life Just Got a Little Easier.

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LOLcat memes and P&L statements don’t play well together. Business and personal files are best kept separate. Except for in the cloud, where it’s better to link them together for easy access.

Up until today, it was a pain to for Dropbox users to constantly log in and out of separate business and personal Dropbox accounts. Back and forth, back and forth.

Not any more, though. Not now that — wait, clear the immediate area around you for a triumphant fist pump in the air — the cloud-storage giant has officially given Dropbox for Business users the ability to have one Dropbox for work stuff and another for non-work stuff that can be linked together and accessed on all devices.

This means that Dropbox users will be able to seamlessly toggle between their separately stored personal and work files — minus the hassle of having to repeatedly sign in and sign out. Once a user connects them on the Dropbox website, the two accounts can be accessed from a single home screen.

Dropbox also announced that colleagues can now view the same document shared via Dropbox and make edits to it in real-time, similar to Google Docs. They can also instant message each other while collaborating on Dropbox files.

Some lucky beta testers have been playing with these cool features for a while, but now everyone can get their hands on them, too. Dropbox announced the availability of the new features to all today at a press event in its home city of San Francisco.

Also at its event today, Dropbox announced Carousel, its slick new photo-sharing app that’s searchable by date or event, along with the new Android and Mac desktop versions of its Mailbox email client app.

So it looks like Dropbox, which also touted today that it is now 275 million users strong, is playing a little catch up with rivals Box and Microsoft OneDrive in the Cloud Wars.

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Facebook Messenger will soon be the only way to chat in Facebook

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If what’s already happening in Europe comes to pass worldwide, then Facebook users might soon be facing a big, intrusive change. Users in Europe have started to receive warnings that Facebook will soon be requiring its Messenger app to be downloaded and used if they want to keep on chatting with their Facebook contacts.

This move is hardly surprising but probably also poorly timed. Facebook has had for some time a dedicated messaging app that could also tap into your SMS workflow way before Google+ Hangouts even offered that feature. To some, it offered the convenience of not having to go through the rather clunky Facebook app just to chat away. To others, it might be a source of confusion with two separate ways to communicate on Facebook. This upcoming policy will remove that confusion but will probably not reduce ill feelings.

Facebook will soon be requiring the use of its own Messenger app in full, removing the messaging facility from its mobile apps. Theoretically, this will allow it to iterate over the Messenger app independent of the main app. As we’ve seen these past weeks, that might be a good thing. The transition, however, might not be so smooth for those not used to how the Messenger app works. In particular, the Chat Heads feature, which is optional but enabled by default, will need a bit of getting used to.

It is likely that this will not sit well even among Facebook’s own fans who have so far held back from installing the standalone messaging app. The added heat might be something that Facebook could do without after it has already been put under the microscope for its WhatsApp acquisition. Still, this change was inevitable and Facebook users will be left with no choice but to grit their teeth and carry on or call it quits and move on to other pastures.

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Dropbox Introduces Carousel Gallery

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Apps have taken over our lives these days to a great extent, and no longer do you need to trouble yourself with a physical photo album for your stored memories, as everything has gone digital now. New apps might make it a snap to capture photos, but to actually archive and catalog those is another challenge altogether. Dropbox intends to help you out with the introduction of Carousel, which happens to be a gallery for all the photos and videos from your life.

Carousel would combine the photos within your Dropbox alongside those snapshots that were captured on your phone, where it will automatically back up new shots as you take them. Carousel would then go ahead and sort out all of these memories by event, allowing you to return to the right time and date if you need to pull out something from the past. What makes it different from other mobile galleries would be the fact that your Carousel’s size will not be constrained by the space on your handset.

Apart from that, Carousel also offers the ability to carry out private conversations, as they believe that such memories are meant to be shared among your close and loved ones. This lets you share hundreds of photos without taking any more time than it would by sending a single text. You can pick it up for the iOS and Android platforms.

 

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Etisalat Offers Customers Free USB Modem and 100MB Monthly for 12 Months

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Nigeria’s most innovative and fastest growing telecommunications company, Etisalat, is extending access to its Easyblaze high speed HSPA+ data service. The company announced that customers who purchase 1.5GB data plan or more from any Etisalat Experience Centre from April 4, 2014, will receive a free USB modem and Data SIM card, loaded with a 12 month free internet offer. This free offer rewards customers with 100MB monthly based on purchase of 200MB and above.

According to the Director, Consumer Segments, at Etisalat Nigeria, Oluwole Rawa, the launch of this offer is driven by our desire to extend quality internet access to all Nigerians. He stated that since September 2011, Etisalat has established itself as the top mobile broadband provider with the best quality of service in the market.

Rawa explained this new offer will allow more people to connect to the internet and reduce the cost of internet access overall for the customers, while allowing them to enjoy the speed and quality that Easyblaze is acclaimed for.

It will be recalled that Easyblaze is Etisalat’s HSPA+ mobile broadband service which offers customers superior internet speed and excellent quality at affordable prices. Easyblaze offers excellent internet access on all types of data devices- USBs, Mifi Hotspots, smartphones and tablets. Easyblaze is available in over 309 cities and growing nationwide.

 

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Ericsson fires employee over racist tweet

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Telecommunications company Ericsson South Africa has dismissed an employee over a racists tweet.

Ericsson employee Vivienne Catherine Basson vented her anger on Twitter yesterday, after being allegedly involved in a car accident with a taxi driver. In the rage-filled tweet she said, “Effing k**fir taxi. And once again I vote for the death penalty. These savages don’t deserve to live. But more importantly Daniel is alive and I am alive. They can rot in hell”

In South Africa, the word “Kaffir” is regarded as a deeply offensive racial slur, similar to “Nigger” in the United States.

After reviewing the message posted on Twitter, Ericsson South Africa dismissed Basson, stating that she contravened the company’s Code of Business Ethics.

As per our Ericsson Code of Business Ethics, we have a zero tolerance policy against all kinds of discrimination based on partiality or prejudice. In this case the Code has been breached, and as such the individual involved has been summarily dismissed,” they said in a statement.

In a number of follow-up tweets, Basson tried to justify her actions by explaining that she had previously been involved in two hit and run incidents with taxis and had been robbed and shot at in her home.

Do you now understand my anger. Walk in my shoes before you pontificate. I am not racist but I do know the difference between a good person and a savage,” she later tweeted.

She did apologize for her initial tweet, stating that she didn’t want to be “insensitive or derogatory.”

Law firm Legal Aid warns of the dangers of posting entries to social networks, as it could have long-lasting effects on the poster’s career.
Social media can be used to socialize and communicate and help do things, but you may not have thought about some of the problems it can cause for you. Think before you post – there may be negative consequences for you now as well as in the future as once it is out there it can be in many places you didn’t even think about. Remember friends can copy what you post and send it to people you don’t know who could then send it to even more people,” they explained.

 

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Heartbleed Bug undermines the safety of nearly two thirds of the web

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A software bug that has gone unnoticed for two years has exposed sensitive data in as many as two out of every three web servers, say researchers.

The ‘heartbleed’ bug is a flaw in the widely-used web encryption software known as OpenSSL. Google, Facebook and Yahoo are some of the major companies that use SSL technology – most recognizable to users as the padlock that appears in the address bar of your browser.

Since the flaw was discovered by researchers from Google and security group Condenomicon, webmasters have scrambled to update their software and protect users’ data, although some researchers warn that it is already too late.

The bug allowed attackers to pull random chunks of information from the memory of a server, meaning that everything from passwords and usernames to credit card numbers and home addresses could have been taken. As many as half a million websites are thought to have been affected.

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The padlock in browser used to signal that HTTPS encryption is being used has been unsafe for more than two years.

The scale of the damage might never be known but the bug is thought to be the most serious uncovered in recent years. Some websites are encouraging users to change their passwords while others are advising that until they have confirmed that the bug has been fixed, changing passwords will do nothing.

Other security researchers have given more practical advice: “If you need strong anonymity or privacy on the Internet, you might want to stay away from the Internet entirely for the next few days while things settle.”

Google says that it has already “applied patches to key Google services” while Yahoo says that it has “made the appropriate corrections across the main Yahoo properties”. Facebook too, says that it has addressed the issues

Unfortunately, there’s not much that individual users can do to protect against ‘heartbleed’ – the responsibility is with the companies tasked with operating individual websites.

 

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Twitter Fights For Mainstream Adoption With Facebook-ish Updates

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During Twitter’s first earnings call as a public company in early February CEO Dick Costolo emphasized that his goal is “to reach every person on the planet.”

“In 2014,” he added, “we’re focused on building a Twitter that is truly accessible and valuable to everyone.” What better way to do that than by borrowing some of the look and feel from the social network that’s come closest to that goal: Facebook.

Twitter unveiled a new design for profile pages on Tuesday with more prominent lead images and the option to choose a top tweet to display. As many, many users quickly pointed out, the design makes Twitter look that much more similar to Facebook. That might not be such a bad thing.

“If today’s announcement makes the service more accessible for more people, then that’s great news for Twitter,” says Nate Elliott, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Twitter had 241 million monthly users at the end of the December quarter, less than a fifth of Facebook’s user base, and its pace of user growth has slowed. That set off an alarm among investors. (Perhaps more troubling, third-party data suggest that millions of users have signed up for Twitter accounts only to stop using the service later).

“Twitter has to reignite growth,” says Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner. “They’ve got to take these bold steps now.”

Just in the six months since Twitter’s high-profile IPO, the company has redesigned the desktop home page and profile pages, overhauled discovery features in the app to emphasize elements like conversations around television and it has introduced the option to upload more photos per tweet and tag users in them (a popular Facebook feature).

By making Twitter a little more like other popular social networks, the company may reduce the learning curve for users as well as for marketers and be able to piggyback on some of the success that its competitors have had. Case in point: Twitter has broadened its ad retargeting program, similar to Facebook. It is also reportedly planning to roll out 15 new ad products over the next six months, including app-install ads, a format that has reaped dividends for Facebook.

“They are trying to make it more social, appealing and comfortable for users, but keep what’s unique about Twitter,” Blau says. “The risk is that it just becomes a little more homogenous, verses going in the other direction, potentially into the domain of being unusable.”

If Twitter is actively trying to imitate some of Facebook’s features, that puts it in good company. Facebook has adopted several popular Twitter features over the years and is currently trying to take a page from Twitter’s social TV playbook.

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Logitech’s New Auto-Dimming Keyboard Is Perfect For Movie Night

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In the good ol’ days, finding the buttons on your remote in the dark was hard enough—but now, finding the keys of you keyboard is a living hell. Enter Logitech’s neat little auto-dimming keyboard, which seems just perfect for movie night.

The new wireless, backlit keyboard —K830 to its chums—auto-dims based on ambient light, and also disables lighting completely after five seconds of non-use, so it won’t distract from your screen one bit. It’s rechargeable, has a built-in trackpad and boast a pretty impressive 33-foot range via 2.4GHz connectivity. Available by the end of this month, it’ll set you back $100.

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WhatsApp pairs with German carrier e-Plus to launch new SIM deal

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The now Facebook-owned messaging service, WhatsApp has unveiled a new SIM deal in Germany. This prepaid SIM provides consumers with unlimited access to WhatsApp on top of agreed data limits. It’s a milestone since this is the first time the popular service has partnered with carriers to sell a SIM package. If you’re a massive fan of WhatsApp and use it on a daily basis, you may wish to read on and keep your eyes open for a similar deal in your region, should one be made available.

The German carrier in question is e-Plus. While WhatsApp (and other tech services/companies) have offered bundled deals with contract plans and SIM deals, this new offer allows power users to use the service they love without having to fork out for ridiculous data costs. Pricing of the SIM plan with WhatsApp starts from €10 ($14). Alternatively, consumers can opt to add an additional €10 to receive 600 credits that can be used for either 1MB of data, 1 minute of calls or 1 SMS.

Should the SIM run dry of credit, it’s still possible to connect to WhatsApp and message others. However, there are still questions remaining. Such as: will this plan include WhatsApp VoIP services and will users still have to pay the yearly fee for the service? Either way, it’s an interesting launch and one we imagine would do well in other regions too.

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