Top tech stories of the day for Monday 25 November 2013

Microsoft is fixing Skype messaging, ‘fun things’ planned for Windows Phone 8.1 – Ever since Microsoft started forcing Windows Live Messenger users over to Skype earlier this year, instant messaging on Windows has been somewhat painful. If you’re a frequent Skype user then you’ll be intimately familiar with the problems. Missed messages, out of sync messages, and blasts of old messages are all too frequent on the service at the moment, but Microsoft is vowing to fix the issues.

In an interview with The Verge, Skype product manager Jeff Kunins admits Microsoft is aware of the problems and is working to address them very soon. They mainly stem from Microsoft’s transition from peer-to-peer networks for Skype to cloud-powered servers. Skype has traditionally been used for voice and video calling on desktop PCs, but as the world has moved to mobile Skype hasn’t adapted its own infrastructure quickly enough to handle multiple devices.

Microsoft is fixing Skype messaging, ‘fun things’ planned for Windows Phone 8.1

 

Samsung’s Galaxy Grand 2 is the size of a Galaxy Note but lacks the stylus – The Galaxy Grand 2 is another big phone (5.25 inches this time), but while it might share the screen-size with the Galaxy Note family, there are a few hardware changes that make this smartphone more middleweight than flagship. There’s 8GB of base storage, with microSD expansion up to 64GB, no stylus and a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera that might not stand up to comparisons against the higher pixel-count shooters.

The original Galaxy Grand housed a pretty limp 800 x 480 WVGA screen, but the sequel’s incrementally bigger screen cranks that up to a passable 720p. The phone will also arrive running Android 4.3, in white, black and pink color options.

Samsung’s Galaxy Grand 2 is the size of a Galaxy Note but lacks the stylus

 

Uber aims to attract new drivers with Toyota and GM car discounts – Uber drivers that walk into a Toyota or General Motors dealership will get as much as $7,500 off their next car. According to a report today in the Wall Street Journal, the cab-hailing app is partnering with the two manufacturers to offer Uber drivers on-the-spot discounts and more favorable terms for financing on their next car purchase.

The exact terms of the deal are still unclear, but apparently some driver’s have already taken Uber up on the offer. The piece highlights one driver, Alexandre Sandor, who purchased a new Cadillac XTS and received both a $7,500 rebate and low-interest financing through the program.

Uber aims to attract new drivers with Toyota and GM car discounts

 

OneNote for Windows 8.1 overhauled with camera text-scanning – Microsoft is updating its OneNote for Windows 8.1 app today with some significant changes. Visually the app remains very similar to the previous version, with some tweaks here and there, and the multiple Snap Views in Windows 8.1 are now fully enabled. OneNote now also supports the Share Charm in 8.1, allowing users to copy a website or information from an app directly into a new note in the app. If you’re sharing from a Windows 8.1 app or IE11 then it keeps the full richness of the images and text that’s captured into a note.

The biggest improvements come with a new Camera Scan feature and optical character recognition (OCR). OneNote has always supported capture from cameras, but the feature has been updated to improve scanning of documents and whiteboards.

OneNote for Windows 8.1 overhauled with camera text-scanning

 

Monty Python extends reunion after selling out in just seconds – Monty Python is adding at least four extra dates to its reunion show next year after the initial 14,500-seat show sold out in 43.5 seconds. The show will now run from July 1st through July 5th at London’s O2 Arena, and Variety reports that a sixth show is being planned for the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

A world tour could also be in the works, according to The Daily Mirror, which reported the additional tour dates before they were announced.

Monty Python extends reunion after selling out in just seconds

 

How do you design a chair for the iPad age? – For many people, the Steelcase Leap is the best office chair money can buy. Competitors like Herman Miller, Humanscale, and Knoll may dispute that title, but even they would have to rank the Leap pretty close to the pinnacle of ergonomic seating design.

With such a fine pedigree, any new chair from Steelcase invites equal amounts of anticipation and scrutiny, particularly when it sets itself the ambitious task of serving a whole new generation of mobile technology users. Identifying new ways of sitting that have developed in response to personal tech — and categorizing them with such poetic titles as the strunch and the cocoon — Steelcase believes the very way we interact with chairs and our work environment has changed. Its response to this evolving workspace is the Gesture chair.

How do you design a chair for the iPad age?

 

Mark Zuckerberg says the government ‘really blew it’ on surveillance – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continued his push into political advocacy this weekend, taking to ABC’s This Week to discuss immigration reform, Healthcare.gov, and NSA surveillance during an interview. On the security agency’s widespread surveillance, Zuckerberg said that it was important to find a balance between “doing the right things” and to be clear about what it is that they’re doing. Right now, he doesn’t think the government has done a very good job of that: “I think the government really blew it on this one,” Zuckerberg said.

Mark Zuckerberg says the government ‘really blew it’ on surveillance

 


Microsoft’s device chief sees a future without three versions of Windows – Microsoft currently ships Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows Phone software on a variety of devices, but it’s heading towards a future where just a single version of Windows will exist.

Speaking at the UBS Global Technology Conference last week, Microsoft’s head of devices, Julie Larson-Green, hinted strongly that the software giant is finally working to merge its core operating systems. “We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We’re not going to have three,” says Larson-Green.

Microsoft’s device chief sees a future without three versions of Windows

 

‘Anchorman 2′ targets the social web with more than 50 short videos – Nearly a decade after its release, Anchorman GIFs are still a common sight on Facebook and Tumblr, so now that it’s time to promote the sequel, Paramount has its eyes trained firmly on the web. A new piece in Adweek details the studio’s multi-front effort to promote Anchorman 2 on the social web, including GIFs, games and contests.

The effort started by seeding the web with new GIFs from the film’s official Tumblr, but in recent weeks, Paramount has gone even further, recording over 50 short clips of Will Ferrell reading relevant news for different countries.

The clips are short, funny, and targeted locally to the film’s different geographical markets, as in the Australia-bound clip below. “This has been the most comprehensive amount of material I’ve ever participated in,” Ferrell told Adweek. “I’m taken aback.”

‘Anchorman 2′ targets the social web with more than 50 short videos

 

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Thanks for reading,
Tom Peters.



Author: Tom Peters

Journalist. Digital enthusiast. Asking questions about media business models and writing for DailyTechWhip.com

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