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Instagram stories more popular than Snapchat

Instagram debuted its stories feature in August, and many social media users immediately noticed the stark similarities between the platform’s new feature and Snapchat, an app that focuses on allowing users to send temporary videos.

Now, eight months later, Instagram’s ‘Snapchat clone’ is more popular than Snapchat itself. 

>> Read more trending news

According to Instagram, more than 200 million people use the platform’s stories feature each day. That’s up 50 million users since January.

Fourth-quarter records for 2016 showed Snapchat as having about 158 million daily users.

Snapchat turned down a $3 billion buyout deal from Facebook, which owns Instagram, in 2013. Since then, Facebook has rolled out its own version of video-sharing developments on its platforms, including Messenger and WhatsApp. 

Instagram rolled out new “selfie stickers” and geostickers, reminiscent of Snapchat’s geofilters, on Thursday. 

 

Ford designs baby crib that mimics soothing car ride

Many parents have noticed how an evening car ride will lull a fussy baby to sleep. Automaker Ford has designed a crib that mimics that experience, in the safety of a family's home. 

>> Read more trending news

The Max Motor Dreams crib was conceived as part of an ad campaign for Ford's Max line of cars, according to CNN. The crib simulates a car ride's gentle rocking movement, emits white noise that sounds like a car engine and is lined with lights that turn on and off, which mimic streetlights during a nighttime ride. 

The Max Motor Dreams crib was designed in Spain and is a single pilot project at the moment, Ford said in a press release. However, due to the overwhelming interest, Ford is considering a full-scale production.

Twitter revamps 140-character limit for replies

Does that long Twitter name prevent you from answering a tweet fully? No more, Twitter has freed up some character space. The handles in replies no longer count toward the 140-character limit on tweets, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

To make that happen, the handles — a person's Twitter name preceded by the @ sign — are being removed from reply tweets. When you reply to people on Twitter, the handle will be displayed above the tweet in small text. You must click to see the names of any additional people included in the conversation. Usernames in original, non-reply tweets still count toward the character limit, CNN reported.

"In our tests of this new experience, we found that people engage more with conversations on Twitter," product manager Sasank Reddy said in a blog post announcing the change.

Now the company is rolling out this new twist to all of its 319 million active users, CNN reported. It will show up on Twitter.com as well as in the iOS and Android apps.

In September, Twitter announced that quoted tweets and attached media would not count toward the 140-character cap, CNN reported.

Here’s how to use Twitter's updated mute feature to prevent spoilers for your favorite shows

A new Twitter feature allows users to mute words, phrases and hashtags from view on timelines and in notifications, and it could mean a way out of having your favorite shows spoiled.

>> Read more trending news

USA Today reported that the social-media company announced the tool as a way to prevent abuse, but the ability to avoid show spoilers appears to come as an additional benefit. That initial feature only applied to user’s notifications, so a user could see offensive content -- or spoilers of a show or movie -- on their timeline and across Twitter.

The new mute allows users to stop certain words, phrases, emojis, usernames and hashtags from appearing in their Twitter feeds and can be adjusted for specific time periods: 24 hours, seven days, 30 days or forever.

The only catch is that those muted items will still appear in a Twitter search.

Here’s how to mute hashtags on the Twitter app for iPhone’s iOS and Android:

  1. Go to the notifications tab and tap the gear icon.
  2. Tap muted words.
  3. On iOS, tap “add.” For Android, tap the “plus” icon.
  4. One at a time, add the word, phrase, emoji or hashtag you would like to mute.
  5. Choose to enable the mute feature in notifications, your timeline or both.
  6. Select whether the muted items pertain to anyone on Twitter to only people you don’t follow.
  7. Choose how long you want the items to be muted and tap save.

More information on how to edit or unmute items and how to enable the feature on Twitter’s mobile site and desktop is at Twitter’s support website.

House representatives vote to repeal internet privacy protections

The companies that provide you with internet service may soon be able to sell your web browser and app history to advertisers without your consent.

>> Read more trending news

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to repeal rules preventing internet-service providers from doing so. The Senate already voted in favor of the repeal.

Now the legislation is being sent to President Donald Trump, who is a strong supporter of the move, according to Reuters.

If the president signs the repeal, companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon can sell the personal browsing habits of their customers to advertisers, who can then use that trove of data to create ads targeted to that user.

This is similar to what Facebook already does, but it would be on a larger scale and wouldn’t require someone to give IPSs permission to use their information, according to The Guardian

Cox Media Group, which owns the site this story is displayed on, generally does not disclose that information. “We will not disclose personally-identifying information collected through our website to third parties except as provided in this privacy policy,” according to CMG’s website.

While the House and Senate are supporters of the move, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the American people are not. 

“Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with Republicans that this information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your permission," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "Our broadband providers know deeply personal information about us and our families."

So if the privacy laws are repealed, what can you do to protect their browsing history? Unfortunately, not much unless the person is tech-savvy. The Guardian suggests encrypting internet traffic. This can be done through a VPN service, which requires a subscription cost, or using Tor, a software program that enables anonymous communication.

Facebook has never looked more like Snapchat

While imitation probably isn’t the sincerest form of flattery among competing tech companies, Facebook’s new Snapchat-like app updates are an obvious hat tip to Snapchat’s years-old features.

>> Read more trending stories

Facebook announced the new updates Tuesday morning: a camera filled with effects and filters, short visual “Stories” and disappearing messages.

“The way people create content is changing to be from text to photos and videos,” Connor Hayes, product manager for Facebook stories, told The Verge. “This is in turn changing the way they’re sharing with one another and interacting online ... something that Snapchat has really pioneered.”

In 2013, Facebook tried and failed to strike a deal to buy Snapchat for $3 billion.

>> Related: What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

And since then, it has cloned some of Snapchat's most popular features in an all-out effort to maintain dominance in the arena of photo and video communication.

While Snapchat has half the number of daily active users of Facebook-owned Instagram's 300 million audience, Facebook has noticed its “surging popularity” among younger users, CNN reported.

Here’s more on the new Snapchat-like features rolling out Tuesday on iOS and Android:

Camera effects

Similar to Snapchat’s camera filters feature, Facebook’s will pack dozens of effects (think glitter beards and sloth hats) and interactive features, including “reactive effects” such as falling snow.

Stories

Facebook replicated Snapchat's Stories format for Instagram in August and on Tuesday announced a similar release in its main mobile app. 

Users have options to share multiple media as a “visual collection” (or Story) to appear on top of Facebook’s news feed or on their timelines.

Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, the Stories will disappear in 24 hours.

Direct

Users will also be able to share their visual compilations directly to an individual or group of Facebook users if they choose to — part of the app’s new “Direct” feature.

Like Snapchat, when you send a photo or video via Direct, your friends will be able to view it once, replay it or reply. After the conversation ends, the content is no longer visible.

Robots Through the Years

What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

According to British press reports, the assailant involved in last week’s London terror attack that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead — and dozens more wounded — used WhatsApp just minutes before the rampage.

>> Read more trending news

But because the messages sent by and to attacker Khalid Masood are encrypted by the popular messaging app, officials are unable to access them.

“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in multiple interviews Sunday.

>> Related: London terror attack: What we know

Whether you use the app or not, here are some things to know about WhatsApp and the encryption debate:

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a popular messaging app with end-to-end encrypted instant messaging that can be used on various platforms, including Android, iPhone and Windows smartphones, and Mac or Windows PCs.

Created in 2009 and later acquired by Facebook in 2014, the app uses your phone's internet connection to send messages so you can avoid texting fees.

What can you do with the app?

In addition to making calls, sending messages, photos, videos, files and voice messages to individuals or groups, WhatsApp rolled out some new features in 2017.

Now, the app includes a Snapchat story-like feature, which allows users to update their “status” using pictures, GIFs and videos.

You can also swipe up to reply to your friends’ statuses.

Who uses it?

According to Facebook’s earnings call on Feb 2, 2017, WhatsApp had 1.2 billion monthly active users, Statista reported.

The popular messaging app is used by people in more than 180 countries around the world.

What is end-to-end encryption?

End-to-end encryption is a security system in which only the sender and the recipient can read their own messages. In fact, even WhatsApp can’t access user messages.

Apple’s iMessage also uses end-to-end encryption.

What is the debate around ending end-to-end encryption?

Following the London terror attack, Home Secretary Amber Rudd called for WhatsApp and other encrypted services to offer a "back door" system for officials, AP reported.

In 2015, following the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, the FBI requested Apple for the passcodes needed to unlock an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators.

But Apple and other tech industry giants, as well as privacy advocates, say creating security loopholes would be dangerous as it opens the door to cybercriminals, too.

>> Related: Apple CEO Tim Cook: We oppose this order 

While tech companies should help officials when possible, the help should be requested through warrants where the process is both properly regulated and monitored, Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, told Newsweek.

“Compelling companies to put backdoors into encrypted services would make millions of ordinary people less secure online. We all rely on encryption to protect our ability to communicate, shop and bank safely,” he said.

Here’s why police are warning iPhone users to stop saying ‘108’ to Siri

A viral social media prank asking iPhone users to say the number 108 to Siri is causing uproar within police departments across the nation.

>> Read more trending news

According to BBC News, 108 is India’s three-digit code for 911. When users participate in the viral craze, Siri connects them to emergency services in their area within five seconds, ultimately wasting resources and tying up phone lines for other serious emergencies.

The craze began circulating on Twitter over the weekend.

“This prank is problematic because it uses resources that are vital for others trying to receive help in real emergency situations,” officials from the Marshall Police Department in Wisconsin wrote on Facebook.

Not only is it harmful, but placing prank 911 calls can also be considered a crime, they wrote.

An Arkansas police department also warned users to steer clear of the prank, stating the shortcut is designed specifically as a panic code for those in real emergencies.

BBB warning: Amazon shoppers targeted by scammers who take over victims' computers

A new warning says Amazon shoppers in Northeast Florida are being targeted by criminals who are taking over their computers.

The Better Business Bureau recently alerted consumers to the scam on social media after being contacted by someone who was targeted.

>> Read more trending news

Shannon Nelson, of the BBB’s Northeast Florida and Southeast Atlantic office, said she received a call this week from a 70-year-old woman who told her that she was looking up information about an Amazon product when she clicked on a site and then dialed a number she believed was Amazon customer service.

>> Watch the news report here

"A third party broke in and said, 'We are with this company, and we want to offer you this security for your computer.' Then from there, we're not sure how they then gained access to her computer," Nelson said.

Jaqueline only wanted us to use her first name to avoid being targeted again, but she said the third party began a sales pitch for anti-virus software for her computer.

"When I kept refusing, they kept lowering the price," Jaqueline said. 

She said she was given the company name Tech Crew LLC, and they first told her their product would cost $1,499 but eventually lowered their price to $1,000. She still refused to purchase anything.

Jaqueline said that shortly after she finished that phone call, she realized that her computer was moving very slowly. She also realized a symbol in the corner of her screen contained software she had never installed.

"They have been harassing me ever since. The last conversation I had with them, they threatened me with legal action. I'm very frustrated and I'm very frightened. I don't know what they're going to do. I do feel violated," Jaqueline said.

Nelson said this is the first time she and her colleagues have heard this type of scam in their office, and people always need to be aware of what sites they are clicking on.

"Make sure the address in the address bar is the website that you are trying to visit and not some spoofed information," Nelson said.

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