Thursday, 26 November 2015

Raspberry Pi Zero: The $5 computer has arrived

The Raspberry Pi Zero has the same computing capabilities as the original Raspberry Pi, minus some of the ports.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has hit rock bottom. After years of working to lower the cost of hobbyist and educational computing, founder Eben Upton says it can go no further: at just $5 its latest creation is as cheap is it can make a computer.

The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero follows on from the wildly successful Raspberry Pi A, B and 2 computers, which cost $20 to $35.

But despite the staggeringly low price, it still has many of the same features, and runs about 40 percent faster than the Raspberry Pi 1.

At the heart of its 65 x 30 millimeter circuit board is a Broadcom BCM2835 application processor, the same as in the Raspberry Pi 1, with a 1GHz ARM11 core. The board holds 512MB of RAM, and the operating system is loaded from micro-SD card.

There's a mini-HDMI socket for 1080p video output, and micro-USB sockets for data and power.

The board is as expandable as its predecessors: Its 40-pin GPIO header has identical pinouts, although the pads on the circuit board are "unpopulated," meaning you'll have to solder on your own connector. The same goes for the composite video output: The connection is available, but if you need a socket, you must solder it yourself.

In comparison, the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has additional memory, a quad-core processor, audio in/out, three additional USB ports, and direct connections for a camera and a display.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Game of Thrones: Jon Snow is back, so get set for a wild season six

HBO’s teaser poster suggests that the character is alive after all. Far from a cheap soap opera move, it suggests the show will become more gripping than ever.

The worst-kept secret in television finally leaked on Monday as HBO and Sky Atlantic released the first promo art for the sixth season of Game of Thrones: a picture of Jon Snow looking suitably haggard, with blood pouring from one eye down his cheek.

At this point I would normally write something along the lines of “don’t read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled” but it’s arguable that if it’s the TV station that airs the show doing the spoiling then it’s already a pretty moot point.

Rumours that Jon’s death was not all it appeared have been growing since summer. While Kit Harington, the actor who plays the heroic 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, initially insisted that his time on the show was over after Jon’s brutal stabbing, he was subsequently snapped filming in Belfast amid rumours of an epic battle scene at The Wall (yes, another, it’s a hard place to conquer). Jon, it appears, is also a hard man to kill.

So what does this latest suggestion of his survival (something which has not been officially confirmed in the books with author George RR Martin recently suggesting that fans should read The Winds of Winter when its published if they want to uncover his fate) mean for the series?

First, it confirms that next year will be something of a wild ride for both book and TV fans as we head into the unknown and the probability that for the first time ever a TV series will potentially be spoiling the books on which it is based.

Secondly, it marks something of a deviation for this show, which has previously prided itself on the fact that if a character is dead, they stay dead. No matter how important they might be. This is Game of Thrones after all, the show that killed Ned Stark in the first series, that wiped out half the cast in The Red Wedding and that has never worried about introducing popular characters only to gruesomely off them.

By those standards bringing Jon Snow back from the dead could be seen as, well, something of a cop out – the sort of thing that happens in soapier dramas, which tease the audience with the possible deaths of their heroes and heroines only to swiftly reassure you that no, of course they didn’t die.

Well rein in that irritation for a second because there is, at least, precedence here. It has been well established over the course of five seasons that, since Daenerys Targaryen hatched her dragons, magic has been growing stronger throughout Westeros and Essos, meaning that things that might not previously have been possible are increasingly likely.

We’ve also been introduced to Thoros of Myr, a Red Priest with a particular talent for bringing the dead back to life, who has worked his magic on the leader of the Brotherhood without Banners, Beric Dondarrion – a man who happens to wear an eye patch, which is interesting given that on the promo poster there seems to be a bloody hole where Jon’s own eye should be. Given that the somewhat spooky Melisandre, also a Red Priest, was last seen arriving back at Castle Black, having abandoned Stannis Baratheon to his fate, it would seem likely that a swift resurrection with some rather unpleasant strings attached is in the cards.

Because that’s the thing about Game of Thrones: yes, Jon coming back to life might initially appear like a cheat but in the world of the show it almost certainly makes sense. Will things be on the up for the former Lord Commander next season? Given his life so far I rather doubt it, just as I doubt that the Red Priests resurrect the dead for fun. Perhaps Lord Snow (as Ser Alliser Thorne so sneeringly calls him) would be best to take comfort from the fatalistic words of House Greyjoy: “What is dead, can never die” as he begins his next life in the new season.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Google Nexus 6P Complaints Suggest Yet Another Major Problem

Some customers have already reported that their Google Nexus 6P has spontaneously cracked the glass which covers the rear camera. Now it seems like some people are having problems with the on-board microphone. Reports have hit both the official Google product forums, as well as XDA Developers of low quality, muffled, in-call sound. Android Police reported this story, where one of its writers claims to be be affected by the problem.

Some users are reporting that covering the rear-mounted microphone – which is used for noise cancellation – resolves the problem. Others though say that it’s covering this microphone that causes the issue. The only thing everyone agrees on is that there are a decent number of people who find their voice being poorly received by the other person in the call.

There are a number of microphones on the Nexus 6P – and all modern phones – and sound from these is used to remove ambient noise. This suggests that perhaps there’s a software problem that’s making phones behave unpredictably, but with the same root cause. On XDA one theory is that there’s a software bug with the noise cancellation. Fixing this would be fairly straightforward once discovered, and Google could send an update very quickly.

If the problem is hardware-based then Google will end up with a lot of returned phones, and would likely see pressure to recall the rest. Different people obviously use their phones in varying amounts for voice calls, I, for example, hate talking on the phone so any microphone problems would go undetected by me for a long time. Others, however, are more reliant on voice communication.

With this and the cracking back panel problem Google might have some tough questions for Huawei, which makes the Nexus 6P. The phone itself seems to be enjoying success with reviewers though, and it’s certainly a beautifully designed device. As always, a small number of phones will always have hardware problems, and the key is just how many returns are seen on any one product. Sadly manufacturers tend not to release this information, so we’ll never know just how many users are having problems with their devices.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Top 10 Chat Apps For Android

Text messaging is still the easiest way to send messages on your smartphone as the SMS apps are already installed when you power it up, but there are plenty of reasons to ditch text messaging for the majority of your messaging needs and move to a chat app instead, one of the biggest reasons being that nearly everyone is using one of the more popular chat apps available. There are quite a few to choose from, so here is our list of ten of the top chat apps you can find on the Play Store.


Kicking this list off is Telegram, and like every single app on this list it’s free to use so the only thing you’ll have to do to get started is install it, and perhaps convince anyone y9ou want to use it to give it a shot. Telegram boasts security and quickness as being two main features, so if you’re looking for a chat app more focused on delivering secure messages in a speedy manner, see if this suits your needs.


WeChat is a popular option to consider, and there’s plenty to love about the app too. It has support for Android Wear so you can send messages from your wrist if you have one of the devices, and it also has a PC client so you can message fro your laptop or desktop as well. In addition to chatting, you can also make and receive video calls for free.


If you really want to be secure when it comes to your messages, Signal may be just the app for you. It prides itself on security for its users over anything else, and enables end to end encryption for every single message that gets sent out. It also supports group chat in case you want to get a larger conversation going.


BBM, better known as BlackBerry Messenger, is a great way to keep in contact. Just like many of the chat apps here you can send group messages, and it has some pretty advanced offerings too like timed messages which allow people to see the stuff you send only for an allotted amount of time. You can also makes free voice calls to any of your BBM contacts


So this isn’t like your traditional chat apps, but it is a chat app nonetheless. Instead of just your typical typed up messages, Snapchat lets you take a quick picture with the option of attaching a short caption before sending it off to your contacts. Messages are also only available for a small amount of time before disappearing. The app also now supports video snaps too just in case a picture isn’t enough, and if you want to bring things back to regular messaging you can do that too.


LINE is actually one of the bigger chat apps out there, and it offers everything from 1-1 chat, group chats, and free video calls and free voice calls with your LINE contacts no matter where they are around the globe. Just like WeChat you can also send messages from your computer, and there’s a large collection of stickers to send to make your messages a little more fun.


Groupme is mostly centered around group messaging, but you can also one on one chat with others as you can create a group and choose who to invite. The app supports emojis and you can buy premium emoji packs, and of course you can message people either from the app or you computer via the website.


There are few apps more popular than whatsapp for messaging, which comes through in real-time, and if typed words aren’t doing it for you then you can also opt to place a voice call. You can easily share your location through the app, insert media like videos and pictures, and the app has support for Android Wear so you can send and receive messages from your watch.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Call of Duty Black Ops III gets special XP weekend

Need to get a boost in Call of Duty: Black Ops III?

Treyarch had recently released a tiny hotfix to the game on PS4 and Xbox One. These times only apply to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game; the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions have “TBD” times.

In related “Black Ops 3” news, in the game’s first three days of sales, “Black Ops 3” racked up $550 million in sales and performed significantly better than the previous two “Call of Duty” games. The full patch notes have only been made available a few hours after the update went live, with Treyarch’s David Vonderhaar confirming that it introduced fixes for Challenges, max exploits and more. For those who are wondering, the double XP weekend will be applicable to both competitive multiplayer and zombies mode as well.

What do you think about Treyarch not releasing patch notes? Remember that Treyarch will continue with these minor hotfixes until the game is ready for its next major update.

We expect to see a more detailed Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 1.03 changelog in the near future that could outline additional changes to the game.

Other than that, the rest of the changes are undocumented.

For the most part, the update will mainly affect the weapons inside “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3”. Although I haven’t played Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 on PC or PS4, the overall fun and value of the game should carry over to these versions as well.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow Updated Status For Galaxy Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6, S6 Edge, Galaxy Tab A And S2 Models Surface

Recently, a purported internal document from Samsung had revealed the schedule of the company for releasing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for its Galaxy smartphones. However, fresh update has surfaced that indicates that Samsung has altered has slightly altered its planning for releasing Android 6.0 update for its phones.

According to the previously leaked document by Times News, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ flagships were slated to receive Android 6.0 upgrade in the next month. However, a newer internal document from the South Korean company reveals that the Galaxy S6 Edge+ will not be receiving the Android 6.0 update in December but rather its arrival has been pushed to January 2016, Phone Arena reported.

It means that three handsets namely, Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ will be receiving the Android M build. Samsung is said to be testing the software update for these handsets. The Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge are poised to receive Android M update in February 2016.

The Android 6.0 update has been approved for Galaxy S5 and it is likely to receive the update by April next year. In March, the Android 6.0 update will be made available for the Galaxy A8 handset. The Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy A5, Galaxy A3, Galaxy E7, Galaxy E5, Galaxy J7, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J2 smartphones are waiting for the approval to get updated to Android M.

The update has been cancelled for Galaxy J1 and for Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4, the upgrade is not approved. The newly leaked document has also revealed the names of the Samsung tablets that will be upgraded to Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS.

The 9.7-inch and 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 models, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, the Galaxy Tab A 8 and 9.7 variants are also in queue to get approval for the update. The firmware update has been approved for Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and it is scheduled to receive it by April 2016.

Anonymous Declared War against Isis

The well-known hacking collective Anonymous announced itself “at war” with the Islamic State following the attacks in Paris, expanding its “#OpISIS” online campaign. The continuation of operation was announced on 15 November via one of the major Anonymous twitter accounts, @GroupAnon.

The group has published a video (originally in French), where a figure wearing Anonymous’ iconic Guy Fawkes mask addressed the terror group and promised to hunt them down. In the meantime, a loosely related group of hackivists named BinarySec has also confirmed its online stance against Isis.

The industry watchers confirm that opposition to Isis is nothing new amongst hacktivist communities. For example, both BinarySec and Anonymous, more broadly, have been disrupting jihadi online communications for a while now. Their operation began early in 2015 as #OpCharlieHebdo, where Anonymous devoted themselves to rooting out the social media accounts of Isis supporters.

The hackers declared a partial victory in #OpISIS already in February, after they managed to seize control of about 100 Twitter accounts associated with the group. Since February, Anonymous have made use of various tools to hinder Isis on the Internet. They seized social media accounts by guessing passwords or abusing reset emails or flagged them to either Twitter or Facebook to be shut down.

Besides, the hacking group has been using such tools as DDoS attacks, which are designed to overwhelm a destination website with traffic, in order to bring down public Islamic State sites. According to statistics, the hackers have had success, bringing down almost 150 websites, flagging over 100,000 Twitter accounts and reporting about 5,000 propaganda videos.