EU courts banish last-minute flight booking fees

Chris Smith | Health, Lifestyle & Travel | Jan 16, 2015 3:36 AM CST

According to a new ruling by the EU court, European flight booking websites must display the total cost of booking immediately as the booking process begins. This is due to most companies waiting to display additional charges and fees until the last page of the process.

The ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) applies not only to a flight you might be in the process of booking, but all flights in relation to it also. This news comes as a addition to the 2008 EU regulation stating "that airlines show the final price to be paid at all times, including taxes, charges, surcharges and other fees. The rules apply to any form of published pricing, including on the Internet," as reported by PC World.

Multiple airlines have ignored or bypassed these hidden charge laws, seeing the German Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) take on a legal battle with Air Berlin, promoting this initial law to be put in place.

Continue reading: EU courts banish last-minute flight booking fees (full post)

This wearble will measure your laughter or when you've fallen over

Chris Smith | Wearable Computing & Fashion | Jan 16, 2015 3:17 AM CST

Amidst the hectic week that was everything-CES 2015, the WaratTell rose from the ashes - set as a sensor based on 10 years of "laugh-detecting technology" and designed by Masafumi Matsumura of Osaka Electro-Communication University - this product actually has a real purpose.

Designed for when your oldies are put away in a home, this sensor will allow you to monitor how happy seniors are via an internet connection and an linked application, showing you how often they laugh or even if they've fallen over or are in any other kind of distress. This is thanks to audio-processing software that is linked to the sensor automatically distinguishing between various vocal sounds.

Fully optioned with a microphone, Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi modules and an accelerometer, this device is located within a bright orange casing painted with a smiley face - which is then connected to a lapel or hangs around your neck.

Continue reading: This wearble will measure your laughter or when you've fallen over (full post)

Adobe Lightroom now available for Android smartphones

Chris Smith | Software & Apps | Jan 16, 2015 2:59 AM CST

Adobe has finally made Lightroom available on Android Smartphone platforms, months after adding iOS support for the program. This photo-editing program requires your device to be running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or newer and needs a minimum of a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU and at least 8GB of free storage space.

This is one of the first times that we've seen smartphone applications specifically contain system requirements, but it's acceptable given the computing power needed for tasks that this software can perform. This app is also free to download, as long as you've created a Creative Cloud account and features slightly less features than the desktop edition - giving you full reign of the basic panel and cropping tools.

Unfortunately this release is limited only to your smartphones, with tablets being excluded from operation. You would think that tablets are far superior, given their viewing surface greatly outweighing that of a smartphone.

Continue reading: Adobe Lightroom now available for Android smartphones (full post)

French cyberdefense says 19,000 French websites under attack

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Jan 16, 2015 2:58 AM CST

The French government announced there are 19,000 civilian websites now under cyberattack by unknown sources, in a wide-ranging attack. The French Defense Ministry recently faced a targeted distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, according to officials discussing the ongoing cyber operation.

"These attacks have no effect on the conduct of our operations," said Rear Admiral Arnaud Coustilliere, in a statement to CNNMoney. Reportedly, the attacks are targeting websites while hoping for weak cyber defenses, though the top visited French websites appear to be working fine.

Over the past week, cybercriminals have posted pro-Islamic images and messages on various religious groups websites and other sites. The Anonymous hacker group temporarily downed a jihadist website last week and the Charlie Hebdo magazine released a new edition that has sold millions of copies.

Continue reading: French cyberdefense says 19,000 French websites under attack (full post)

This robot will replicate your handwriting using fountain pen

Chris Smith | Celebrities & Entertainment | Jan 16, 2015 2:44 AM CST

We've learned about companies that use robots to write handwritten messages on paper for you directly through your phone if you're feeling really lazy. But now there's a new robot by Bond that will mimic your handwriting using a fountain pen.

Priced at $199, this robot will make your handwritten letter look extremely genuine. Set out basically as a hand holding a fountain pen, this new technology will write re-write what you've provided line-by-line, using varying pressure to further sell the fact. This might be cool if you're looking to replicate a certain letter to a lot of different recipients, but want to make it look like each one was painstakingly written one-by-one, for example.

The alternative is Handwrytten which is will write a note based on electronic text that you send in, writing the note 'by hand' (by robot). This also looks authentic, but it's a series of predetermined fonts and won't perfectly replicate any handwriting you may have.

Continue reading: This robot will replicate your handwriting using fountain pen (full post)

Canada makes automatic software installations illegal

Chris Smith | Software & Apps | Jan 16, 2015 1:51 AM CST

Furthering their anti-spam legislation, Canada have made a move today to ensure that users must give their direct consent when installing any software on their devices. Effective immediately, any business operating in Canada that wishes to bypass these laws will see their software installation being classed as illegal and have a C$10 million fine on their hands.

This change to the law is apparently focused toward fighting malware, helping protect consumers and create a greater awareness around problems involving malicious software installations. However legal experts have expressed concern, stating that this amendment to the legislation isn't specific enough and may target legitimate businesses trying to conduct their work.

A further addition includes that businesses wanting to install software on a users device must also make them aware if any personal information is collected by the program, or if the coding will interfere with any standard computer operations.

Continue reading: Canada makes automatic software installations illegal (full post)

EA launching a new beta for Battlefield: Hardline on all platforms

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jan 16, 2015 12:37 AM CST

There's another Battlefield: Hardline beta coming, which will reach the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC sometime soon. There's no solid ETA on it just yet, but it should be in the immediate future.

EA hasn't mentioned the date yet, but it does tease what we can expect. We will continue to see the main Conquest mode features, but the new beta will include a new game mode: Hotwire. Hotwire is explained by DICE as "an all-new mode coming to Battlefield focused on combining all-out warfare with all-out speed".

There will be no progression cap during the beta, so you can go rank crazy if you want. Any and all progress will not be carried over to the full game, which is still on track for release on March 17.

Continue reading: EA launching a new beta for Battlefield: Hardline on all platforms (full post)

Twitch now features royalty-free music that can be used in broadcasts

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jan 15, 2015 11:29 PM CST

Twitch has finally unleashed something broadcasters can jump for joy over, with a new music section launched which features over 500 royalty-free tracks that broadcasters can use in either live, or archived videos.

These songs, according to Twitch "will not be flagged by the audio recognition system implemented in 2014 to protect audio copyright holders and Twitch broadcasters alike". Twitch's Chief Strategy Officer Colin Carrier said: "Our community has been vocal about the importance of music for their broadcasts and their love of music in general. By working with both established and upcoming record labels, we are now able to offer music for them to use that is cleared for live broadcasts and archiving."

Not only that, but the new Music section has been added to Twitch's main game directory. This provides artists with a way of "creating, performing and presenting original songs" after Twitch approves it of course, where they continue "certain established labels and artists" may also host "radio-style listening shows and broadcast large scale events, such as music festivals".

Continue reading: Twitch now features royalty-free music that can be used in broadcasts (full post)

Microsoft is about to give the Xbox One another price drop

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jan 15, 2015 10:36 PM CST

Microsoft owned the holiday season with the Xbox One and its $349 price tag, but then the price went up to its normal $399 as Microsoft removed the discount. Well, it's been 12 days, so Microsoft is discounting the Xbox One by $50 once again, but this time for a much shorter amount of time.

As of tomorrow (Friday, January 16) the company is dropping the price of the Kinect-less Xbox One by $50, but Microsoft isn't sure when this sale will end. When asked why Microsoft is cutting the price again after 12 days of it returning to normal, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Xbox, Michael Nichols told Polygon: "Over the last year we made a bunch of moves to engage fans better. Included in that was a real lead up to the holidays".

Not only will the price cut take place, but Microsoft plans on throwing out new games, improvements to Xbox Live, and much more. Nichols added "It was really about positioning ourselves to have a breakout holiday. We were as aggressive as we could be to see how people would react. The results were staggering, it was a terrific response to the changes we made".

Continue reading: Microsoft is about to give the Xbox One another price drop (full post)

Elon Musk ponies up $10M to help prevent robots from slaughtering us

Artificial intelligence is developing at a rapid rate, and Elon Musk wants to make sure robots don't one day try to overtake mankind. The donated funds will be used to help support AI research activities, especially projects with a focus on non-threatening AI development.

"Here are all these leading AI researchers saying that AI safety is important," Musk recently said regarding AI. "I agree with them, so I'm today committing $10M to support research aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity."

Physicist Stephen Hawking joined Musk and signed an open letter that pledged AI would be developed in a productive, safe manner for humans. The Future of Life Institute published the open letter, which has generated great interest from tech and science industry leaders.

Continue reading: Elon Musk ponies up $10M to help prevent robots from slaughtering us (full post)