Canadian mobile manufacturing company BlackBerry on Monday launched a new BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) update that will provide users enhanced privacy and control over messages and content.
The update, rolled for iOS, Android and BlackBerry smartphones, is available without any subscription fees.
“The new release provides unmatched level of privacy and control to BBM users without any subscription fees. Keeping control over the messages and content that they share, BBM users can be ensured that what they share is always theirs to control,” Matthew Talbot, senior vice president (BBM) at BlackBerry, said in a statement.
BBM users can now “retract” their message and pictures from recipients to take them back from their phone if they were sent as a mistake or if they no longer wish them to be accessible.
Also, by setting a timer, users can control how long contacts can view messages and pictures that have been shared or communicate their location for only as long as they want to.
Some additional key features have been added, including forward messages from one chat to another and ability to mute notifications for a multi-person chat on Android.
There are some important improvements as well.
With an update to video sharing features, users can capture and share larger videos on iOS. A new chat screen look and feel on iOS is offered.
José Manuel Soria denies any wrongdoing after he was named in Panama Papers over connection with Bahamas firm
Spain’s industry, energy and tourism minister has resigned with immediate effect after alleged links to offshore dealings emerged in the Panama Papers.
José Manuel Soria denied any wrongdoing and said he was stepping down to limit any damage to the conservative People’s party (PP) caretaker government, which has been in place since inconclusive national elections in December.
On Monday Soria denied all links to an offshore company in the Bahamas set up by the Panamanian legal firm Mossack Fonseca, after he and his brothers were named as administrators. He also said he had no links to UK Lines, a sister company in Jersey.
It later emerged in separate media reports that he had been president of Jersey Mechanical Trading Ltd, formerly UK Lines, an offshore company that dealt in agricultural produce from the Canary Islands, where he was the local PP leader.
Soria continued to deny having any links with tax havens, but after a Jersey Mechanical document from 2002 bearing his signature was published he decided to stand down.
In his letter of resignation, he wrote: “In the light of the errors committed in recent days in the explanations I gave regarding my business activities before I entered politics in 1995 and the lack of precise information about things that occurred more than 20 years ago … I have informed the [prime minister] of my irrevocable decision to resign.” Soria said he would abandon all political activities.
Leaks from Mossack Fonseca have embarrassed several world leaders and shone a spotlight on the shadowy world of offshore companies. Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, stepped down this month after documents linked him to an offshore company.
Soria’s resignation is another blow to Mariano Rajoy’s government, which has been ruling Spain in a caretaker capacity due to the failure of the four largest parties to reach a coalition agreement. Fresh elections will be held in June if no coalition deal can be agreed in the coming weeks.
This week the former prime minister and party leader José María Aznar wasordered to pay almost €270,000 (£214,000) in fines and back taxes after allegedly billing personal income to his family business. On the same day the PP mayor of Granada was arrested on corruption charges.
Ministerial resignations are rare in Spain and Soria’s was only the second since the PP came to power in 2011. In November 2014 the then health minister Ana Mato was forced to step down over corruption investigations.
Tech can do many things, however right now, one of the things it can’t do is stop the ageing process. What it can do though is help you out during those twilight years. It can help you stay in touch with family, pop down to the local store to buy your copy of Saga magazine, or prevent you from being unwantedly disturbed by cold callers druing Countdown. As such, here are 10 of the best gadgets to own when you qualify for a bus pass.
In business, we’re told to plan for every eventuality. And although this makes good business sense, when it comes to social media, all of the planning, strategy meetings, update meetings and brainstorming sessions can, at times, get in the way of us getting stuck in and actually achieving our key objectives. When considering the immediacy and rapid pace of the social news cycle, it may be worth taking a leaf out of Facebook’s book, whose mantra throughout it’s formative years had been “move fast and break things”?
WHAT IS “NOW-ISM”?
Simply put, “now-ism is the practice of jumping in and having a go without over excessive analysis and too much planning”. Businesses often get caught up in creating the perfect strategy and forget the importance of being reactive. This is where “now-ism” comes in, encouraging spontaneity, taking chances and real-time marketing.
WHY IS “NOW-ISM” IMPORTANT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA?
Although a business can have the most carefully laid plans, it’s important to be reactive. This is even truer when it comes to social media marketing.
It’s easy to stay exactly where you are, to play it safe, or carefully plan and wait for everything to be perfect before you make your next move. But in 2016, is that the best approach? Technology’s changing at such a rapid pace that businesses need to run just to catch-up. Competition’s also getting stronger, so it’s important to stay ahead of the game. Sometimes, the best time to take action is now.
That’s not to say that planning’s not important – we don’t suggest for a minute that you should always jump in and give things a go without thinking it through first. In fact, Facebook’s mantra’s recently been refined to “move fast with stable infrastructure”. Although this might not have the same ring to it as their last one, it points out that moving fast is crucial to success, but it’s also important to have a solid strategy at the heart of your actions. Perhaps many other businesses could benefit from this approach too.
HOW CAN BUSINESSES EMBRACE “NOW-ISM” FOR SOCIAL MEDIA?
Small businesses are in a great position to be reactive, with much more freedom and flexibility. However, as businesses get bigger, in some cases, part of their spontaneity unfortunately dissipates. For example, social media posts may need to be created weeks in advance so that they can be approved by various people within the business, before being published to Facebook.
Here are some simple suggestions, to help you bring some “now-ism” to your own social media:
1. GET AGREEMENT FROM MANAGERS
Ensure you have backing from managers to be more reactive. You can still have an approved posting plan, but get permission to add to it, as required. To give more assurance, you could consider creating clear social media, branding and tone of voice guidelines, to follow when creating ad-hoc content.
2. JUMP ON THE BACK OF TRENDS
Whatever your business, make sure you monitor current trends. There may be something that your business can jump on the back of and create a post about (also known as ‘newsjacking’). Trending topics tend to have a very short lifespan though, so it’s important to react quickly. Twitter’s a great place to start looking for trends, but be careful – just because you can, doesn’t mean you always should. Ensure that anything you post is appropriate, relevant to your business and is creative. A good example of newsjacking gone wrong is when England’s royal baby was born and every marketer jumped on the bandwagon, which led to negative reactions from audiences.
3. BE ON STANDBY
Whether you’re running your own business event, or there’s a big event in the calendar, don’t leave your social media accounts unattended. Make sure someone is on stand-by (even out-of-hours), to research and react to the event, along with your audience. Oreo is the perfect example of this – they were quick off the mark with their clever blackout post during the 2013 Super Bowl.
4. TRY NEW TECHNOLOGIES OUT FOR YOURSELF
Although your company may not be happy for you to experiment with new social media features straight away on their business accounts, why not test out new features or ideas on your own personal channels? For example, you could try out Instagram’s longer 30 second videos, investigate Snapchat with your friends or experiment with Facebook Live. Test the features out and then if they could have benefit to your business, then pitch them to your boss.
Microsoft showed off some fancy new Windows 10 features at its Build developer conference last week, and now we’re just starting to see them slowly trickle out in the latest Insider build.
Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14316 brings a heap of updates and new features – for the program’s Fast Ring, so only experienced Windows users need apply.
One of the most prominent is Bash, Linux’s native coding environment. With it users can create programs and code in the Linux environment from the comfort of the Windows C-prompt … er, window.
Cortana on the mind
Microsoft has also further extended Cortana’s reach to push notifications from non-Windows devices to the PC.
For example, if users have the corresponding app loaded on their Android phone and they’ve nearly exhausted its battery life, a notification prompting you to charge it before your next meeting will pop up on your PC.
And if users misplace their phone, they’ll be able to ask Microsoft’s digital assistant to activate the device’s location services and call the phone as well.
On top of locating your phone, whenever you ask Cortana for directions, you can push the same instructions to your phone.
Windows 10 Mobile phones are getting their own special attention too with a new form of Continuum to connect to screens.
Rather than having to dock your handset with a screen and keyboard, a newly added Connect app for desktops will let you wirelessly connect your Windows 10-powered phone to your computer.
Cortana has been steadily making its way into more countries and picking up languages along the way, but in a few cases sep-up can be tricky. If your PC is still missing Microsoft’s virtual assistant and you’re in a supported territory, it’s now easier to have Windows 10 automatically download the necessary speech language to get Cortana up and running.
Microsoft hones its apps
Window 10’s built-in Edge browser has new extensions starting with a Pin It Button and OneNote Clipper. As their names suggest, both are all about saving internet clippings to read later or keep for the heck of it.
A few extensions have also been updated including the Reddit Enhancement Suite, Mouse Gestures and Microsoft Translator.
Build 14316 also sees the reintroduction of Skype as a Universal Windows app. There’s not much to tell here, but Microsoft promises even more features and functionality in the next couple of releases.
From what we’ve seen in the new version, which includes a video chat bot, Skype is an important piece of Windows 10’s future.
And, of course, there are emoji. This alphabet of icons might be ruining the English language, but these are some of the best emojis we’ve seen. They have pop and are cartoonish in a way that’s much more playful than emojis on other platforms.
Beyond emojis, Microsoft has added a dark mode for night-time computer usage. Customization options now let you pick whether colors show up only on app title bars or across the Windows 10 interface, including the taskbar and Action Center.
Last but not least, Windows 10 will now show how far along your update install is with a percentage rather than the old standard of dancing dots going around in a circle.
Many wish to see the much-maligned president booted, and lawmakers on both sides of the proceedings are openly planning for life without Dilma
Like crowds drawn to a lynching, thousands of Brasilians descended on the nation’s capital on Friday as the country’s notoriously corrupt lawmakers began an impeachment debate that looks likely to drive President Dilma Rousseff from power.
With hundreds of thousands expected by the final vote on Sunday, some came to prevent what they saw as an injustice against an elected leader and an attack on democracy. Others to cheer on the removal of an unpopular leader who is accused of manipulating government accounts ahead of the last election. Almost all hoped to influence a congress in the midst of its most morbidly compelling drama in more than 20 years. But time is running out.
With Rousseff’s chances shrinking by the day, power is already shifting from the modernist Palácio do Planalto, the president’s official place of work. Desperately fighting for survival, the president has less time, energy and authority to hold court, dispense favours and appoint ministers.
Instead congressmen and lobbyists now drive past her office on the way to the two alternative centres of influence: the Jaburu, the office of Vice-President Michel Temer, who will take power if Rousseff is removed (she accused him of treachery this week); or the Royal Tulip hotel, where the former Workers party president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva is trying to rally support for his predecessor.
Long-term observers say the double dealing – in political posts and public works projects – is staggering. “The mark of Brazilian politicians is pragmatism and opportunism,” says Chico Alencar, a longtime lawmaker with the Socialism and Liberty party. “Some go straight from Lula at the Royal Tulip to Temer in Jaburu.”
Afonso Florence, the leader of Roussef’s Workers party in the House of Deputies, noted wryly that the car park outside Temer’s office is always full these days, a sign, he says, of the vice-president’s duplicity.
“Dilma believed in him. [But] you never know beforehand that you will be betrayed,” Florence said, juxtaposing this treachery with the fidelity of his party leader, during her youth as a Marxist guerrilla. “Dilma was imprisoned and tortured for three years during the dictatorship but she never betrayed her comrades.”
Although defiantly repeating the Workers party line that what they call a “coup” will be defeated, Florence cuts a somewhat forlorn figure, twiddling his fingers and sighing as he pondered questions about the government’s chances of survival. “It’s extremely serious,” he admits. “It’s sad that they use these illegal means.”
The legality of impeachment is debatable. Rousseff is being impeached for window-dressing government accounts ahead of the last election with a temporary transfer of money from state banks. Similar misdeeds – albeit on a smaller scale – went unpunished during previous governments. But in the absence of a no-confidence vote in the Brazilian constitution, impeachment is now being used as a pretext for the removal of a president whose approval ratings have plunged to 10% amid the worst economic downturn for decades and revelations of systematic corruption.
The spectacle is certainly grotesque. Of the 513 deputies who will pass judgment on Rousseff’s alleged wrongdoing on Sunday, 53 have been charged with crimes and another 100 or so are under investigation.
The impeachment campaign is being led by the House speaker, Eduardo Cunha, who is accused of taking more than $5m in kickbacks and lying to congress about secret bank accounts in Switzerland. The likely beneficiary is Temer, who has brazenly plotted against his running mate to the point of “accidentally” leaking a recorded rehearsal of the speech he plans to make if he assumes power.
Lawmakers increasingly assume that this will be the case. Over the past week, the chances of Rousseff’s survival have diminished rapidly with a daily drip of defections from the ruling camp of former allies, including the Progressive party which has 47 lower house seats.
“Once these mid-sized parties moved towards impeachment, that was the final nail in Dilma’s coffin,” said David Fleischer, professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia.
Such is the deluge, the president is in danger of being buried prematurely. On Friday, she woke to two of the grimmest pieces of news so far. The latest vote tallies in the Folha and Estado newspapers show – for the first time – that the opposition will secure the two-thirds majority in the lower house that it needs to push the impeachment process to the senate. The supreme court also showed that it will not ride to her rescue. It rejected motions to block or change Sunday’s vote.
If Rousseff loses on Sunday, the senate will have 10 sessions to decide whether they should proceed with the impeachment process. If a simple majority of the 81 senators approves, the president is temporarily removed from office for up to 180 days until a final decision must be made with a two-thirds majority.
Some Workers party lawmakers say privately they are resigned to defeat and are already preparing for the rebuilding that must follow.
In the opposition camp, the mood is ebullient. Pro-impeachment lawmakers have started a sweepstake about the margin of victory.
Senator Romario Jucá told the Guardian he expects the impeachment camp to win by a margin of almost 40 seats, which would boost the Brazilian currency and stock markets and usher in a period of public spending cuts and sound fiscal management. “Sunday’s vote will be remembered in history as the point whenBrazil was redirected towards the right track, towards realising its potential growth,” he said.
Jucá, a close ally of Temer’s, is the senate leader of the Democratic Movement party, the biggest political force in Brazil. A party of power-brokers rather than ideologues, it has allied with left- and rightwing governments to maintain its influence. Until last month it was part of the ruling coalition, but Jucá – a longtime critic of the alliance – has been delighted at the speed at which loyalties have shifted. “It was a stampede of bulls,” he said, “able to smash through any obstacle.”
Likely to take a prominent position in the new administration, he is also among the lawmakers under investigation by the Lava Jato probe into a vast kickback scheme that channelled billions of dollars from the state oil company Petrobras into campaign coffers of the Workers party and its former allies.
Rousseff, by comparison, has never been accused by prosecutors of a crime. Asked if it was hypocritical for accused politicians to judge Rousseff on relatively minor charges, Jucá replied that unlike her, his case was unproven. The president, he argued, had to be removed because of the damage she was doing to the country’s economy, which is mired in recession.
“We looked for a constitutional solution. Apart from what we did, the only other way was to wat for elections in 2018. Brazil can’t wait that long,” he said. He denied Workers party claims that this was a coup, noting that impeachment followed strict procedures, is supported by a majority of the public (polls have shown more than 60% of voters are in favour of removing the president), and will lead to a replacement not by a dictator but by the elected second-in-line.
Alencar, the Socialism and Liberal party lawmaker who is opposed to impeachment, agrees this is not a coup, noting how different the current process is from the sudden, violent military takeovers of the past. But he says it is dubious in many other ways.
He argues that the penalty is disproportionate to Rousseff’s alleged wrongdoing, the curtailment of her mandate diminishes the value of elections and the PMDB – as the primary coalition partner – was also responsible for the policies and practices that led to economic recession and systematic corruption.
“Nothing will change as a result of this,” he says. “It’s a lynching.”
Reports of people trapped inside buildings after second earthquake in as many nights in Kumamoto region
A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 has struck southern Japan, barely 24 hours after a smaller quake hit the same region and killed nine people.
The quake shook the Kumamoto region at 1.25am local time, and several aftershocks soon followed. Japan’s meteorological agency issued an advisory for a tsunami of up to one metre high along the coast west of the epicentre. The warning was lifted less than an hour later.
The epicentre was about eight miles north-west of that of Thursday’s quake and shallower, at a depth of about 6 miles.
The Japanese broadcaster NHK said it had received a number of reports of people trapped inside houses and buildings. The sirens of emergency vehicles could be heard in the background as NHK reported from Mashiki, which was hardest hit by the previous quake.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities had been found at the Sendai nuclear plant, where the only two of Japan’s 43 operable reactors are online.
NHK video showed that stones had tumbled from the walls of the historic Kumamoto Castle, and a wooden structure in the complex had been smashed, adding to damage caused on Thursday at the site.
At the Ark hotel east of the castle, guests woke up to strong shaking and a warning siren. Staff asked people to leave their rooms and gather in the lobby for safety.
Thursday’s weaker, magnitude-6.5 earthquake brought down buildings and injured about 800 people. More than 100 aftershocks followed. Since Saturday’s quake was bigger, Thursday’s was technically a foreshock.
Police said on Friday that concern about aftershocks was keeping many people from starting the task of cleaning up. About 44,000 people stayed in shelters after Thursday’s quake.
The dead included five women and four men, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said. One man was in his 20s, and the rest of the victims ranged from their 50s to one woman in her 90s. Eight of the nine victims were from Mashiki.
There were varying reports on the number of injured. The government’s chief spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said at least 860 people had been injured, 53 seriously. Kumamoto prefecture tallied 784 injured.
Suga said 1,600 soldiers had joined the relief and rescue efforts. TV reports showed troops delivering blankets and adult diapers to those in shelters. With water service cut off in some areas, residents were hauling water from local offices to their homes to flush toilets.
Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors remain offline following the Fukushima meltdowns in 2011 after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami.
Mashiki sits near two faults and is near Mount Aso, a huge, active volcano.
You may have noticed Microsoft making a big song and dance about AI bots at its Buildconference last week. The company has now introduced a few of them to Skype, with two further offerings now being brought to the messaging service.
So what do the new Skype bots, which are called Murphy and Summarize, actually do? Murphy (based on Redmond’s Project Murphy) is designed to respond to ‘what if’ questions and is powered by Microsoft Cognitive Services. It draws from knowledge services including Bing, and attempts to respond to these queries as relevantly as possible.
The twist is the answer will come in the form of one or several images, if the right question is asked, and the idea is that Murphy will become smarter as more people use the bot (as with all machine learning projects).
Summarize, on the other hand, is of more practical use and pretty much does what it says on the tin: you chuck the link for a web page at the bot, and it summarises the page, condensing the text down to three paragraphs to make it more easily digestible.
That could be pretty handy for those in a rush.
As we saw last week, Redmond has big plans for bots which are designed to help run our lives more smoothly, with the company keen to point out that these AI entities will be built with trustworthiness and respectfulness firmly in mind.
And hopefully they’ll be better guarded against the prospect of their user base attempting to warp them, as recently happened with the denizens of Twitter and Microsoft’s hapless Tay bot.
Facebook has released a new report this week called ‘Topics to Watch’. As the name implies, Topics to Watch highlights emerging topics of discussion that are gaining momentum across The Social Network, along with a range of insights into the surrounding context of the conversation, associated topics, a measure of the increase in mention volume over time and demographic oversight as to who’s talking about it.
And while the topics may seem somewhat unusual now, that’s kind of point – Facebook’s using their data insights to showcase the issues which they believe are likely to drive more conversations on Facebook in future. So maybe you haven’t heard of ‘Buddha’s hand’ or ‘Kalamkari’ yet, but if Facebook mentions are anything to go by, you soon will. Such insights could help marketers stay ahead of the curve and catch onto the next brand-relevant big trend before it becomes ‘a thing’.
As this is the first report of the new series, it’s hard to know yet whether these trends will come to fruition, but it’s definitely an interesting initiative, and it might enable you to stay in the know – maybe you can even spark the relevant trend in your own area, noting that ‘all the cool people in New York are talking about…’.
Below is the first listing of topics in Facebook’s Topics to Watch reports (in infographic form) – each month, Facebook will highlight another six issues to watch based on increases in conversation volume over the past year.
Introduction to T3’s best backpacks and laptop bags
Here at T3 we have scoured the vast reaches of tech-luggage-obscurity to find the best backpacks and laptop bags. Whether you’re looking for svelte, business style messengers, high-end designer backpacks or rugged, water-resistant rucksacks, we’ve got you covered.
Both laptops and tablets are getting slimmer and lighter, so they’re important investments that you need to protect. And while a sleeve or cover can be handy at times, nothing screams full-on protection quite like a backpack or laptop bag.
You also need a means of carting around all your chargers, batteries, cameras, e-readers, selfie sticks, and copies of T3 magazine etc. Hence you need a protective bag. Q.E.D.
From stylish to monstrously rugged, these are the bags of gold.
Don’t forget to check out our guides to the best iPhone cases, best iPad casesand best MacBook cases, too.