RSS Feed
Latest Updates
Feb
21
What to watch on Netflix: your guide to the new TV shows and movies
Posted by Gerald Lynch on 21 February 2018 12:20 PM

Update: Ace sci-fi director Duncan Jones looks to redeem himself with a new Netflix original movie, Mute, this week after the so-so Warcraft film. And for the kids we've got all-new episodes of Danger Mouse, starring Stephen Fry. Read on for all the best of what's new on Netflix.

All those channels, and nothing to watch. A giant TV that seemed to take a note out of your wallet for every pixel, but you’re still turning to the same reruns and comfort movies you’ve watched for years. Enter Netflix.

The streaming giant has invested heavily in its original content for many years now, meaning Netflix is always chock full of brand new shows and movies to try out if you’re at a loss for what to watch.

But what’s the newest of the new? Rather than trawling through the thousands of options available on the service, or relying on an algorithmically-chosen, machine-selected recommendation system, we’ve hand-picked the best of the new titles heading to the service. And, for your viewing please, we’ll be updating this article every single week, so you’re always on top of what’s headed to a TV near you.

New movies on Netflix this week

Mute: Netflix is really doubling down on its sci-fi cityscapes at the moment. Hot on the heels of cyberpunk series Altered Carbon (see below) comes Mute, a Netflix original from Duncan Jones (he of Moon, Source Code and the Warcraft movie fame).

Set in a near-future Berlin, it stars Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux. As the title suggests, Skarsgård plays a mute bartender, searching a seedy futuristic underworld to find what fate has befallen his missing girlfriend. After the lukewarm response to Warcraft, this looks like Jones back to his future-gazing best.

It starts streaming on Netflix from February 23.

New TV shows on Netflix this week

Danger Mouse: Now, if we had our way, we'd be recommending the original British kids TV hit Danger Mouse over this recent revamp starring the world's greatest rodent super-spy. But the pedigree of the cast makes it more worthy of your time (or, at least your kids' TV time) than other remakes normally would be. With voices provided by the likes of Alexander Armstrong, Kevin Eldon and Stephen Fry, the comedy elite are onboard here. A good one to leave the kids in front of that you won't mind watching yourself.

Recently added movies on Netflix

The Cloverfield Paradox: Totally turning the usual movie marketing system on its head, Netflix not only kept The Cloverfield Paradox's existence a secret, but it also decided to reveal it with a big-budget Superbowl commercial...and then release it onto the service the very same day.

So, is it worth a watch beyond the insta-hype? Well it's divided opinion, that's for sure, with apparently the 'Cloverfield' franchise tacked onto an existing script. So what you're left with is a competent, if uninspired space horror movie, only loosely linked to the events of the films that it shares a stable with. Fun in places, but you might not come back for a second viewing.

Dazed and Confused: The amazing Richard Linklater cemented his reputation as the premier director of bittersweet nostalgia with Dazed and Confused, this coming-of-age comedy about a gang of jocks, losers and stoners on the last day of school in 1976. On the cusp of the rest of their lives, keep an eye out for a young Matthew McConaughey and Milla Jovovich in supporting roles.

Shakespeare in Love: A bit syrupy at times, but this Oscar winning comedy looking at the fictionalised love life of the titular playwright has a good heart, and plenty of smart jokes for anyone that's enjoyed the bard's inimitable work.

The Zero Theorem

Now, we’re not going to pretend it’s an easy watch. But if you’re up for some real mind-bending, chin-scratching sci-fi action, you should definitely be giving The Zero Theorem a go.

Directed (somewhat unsurprisingly, in fact) by Monty Python Alumni Terry Gilliam, it’s a darkly comic, bittersweet and, to be honest, somewhat confusing story of a computer programmer (played by Christoph Waltz) tasked by a bureaucratic boss to solve ‘The Zero Theorem’. Its purpose? To prove that the universe ends with nothing, and that life is meaningless. So, what, if anything, will he find?

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: A fantastic documentary following the life of master chef Jiro Ono, whose 3-star Michelin restaurant is regularly considered the best in the world.

Pride: A wonderful, uplifting true story about how the UK's embattled gay community teamed up with downtrodden coal miners in the dark days of 1980s Britain's miner's strike to bring justice to those left isolated.

Recently added TV shows on Netflix

Altered Carbon: Netflix's latest big-ticket TV extravaganza, Altered Carbon looks to have a budget that most Hollywood movies would be craving. A sci-fi spectacular, this dystopian cyberpunk series is based on the lauded Richard K. Morgan novel of the same name.

With consciousness a commodity to be uploaded, and bodies replicable as industrially built "sleeves", there are obvious shades of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell to this murder mystery.  But it's rare to see the cyberpunk genre expanded to an ongoing series, so it'll be interesting to see if the tropes of the genre hold out over an extended run.

Black Lightning

Can’t get enough of those super-heroic kicks? Netflix is back with more comic book action in the shape of Black Lightning. For once, it’s not a Marvel property, but a DC Comics one. And, also for once in recent times, it’s a DC property not starring Wonder Woman that doesn’t suck.

It follows a high-school teacher with the ability to conjure lightning and bend it to his will. And while the show makes good use of its superhuman effects budget, it’s real heart lies in its stories, which discuss racial tensions, gangland turf wars and the abuse of power in the justice system. Definitely worth a go.

Fargo: Season 3 of the acclaimed crime drama, built upon the Cohen brothers film of the same name, hits Netflix. Starring Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, it's a self-contained story arc, meaning you can jump right in, regardless of whether or not you caught the earlier series.

Need more Netflix recommendations? Try these in-depth run downs of the best of the best Netflix content:

Is Netflix better than Amazon Prime Video? Watch our comparison video below.


Read more »



Feb
21
What is 5G? Everything you need to know
Posted by Mike Moore on 21 February 2018 12:11 PM

What is 5G?

5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.

Combining cutting-edge network technology and the very latest research, 5G should offer connections that are multitudes faster than current connections, with average download speeds of around 1GBps expected to soon be the norm.

The networks will help power a huge rise in Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data, allowing for a smarter and more connected world.

With development well underway, 5G networks are expected to launch across the world by 2020, working alongside existing 3G and 4G technology to provide speedier connections that stay online no matter where you are.

5G - the latest news

19/02 - NETWORKS - Vodafone and Huawei successfully test IP Microwave backhaul for 5G - Vodafone and Huawei achieve 2Gbps on IP microwave link, claiming it shows the tech is viable for 5G...

16/02 - NETWORKS - Why startups and research can make the UK a 5G leader - Does the UK really need to be first to the mark or be an industry powerhouse to be a 5G leader?

16/02 - OPINION - No time to waste now 5G legal challenges are over - For an industry keen to avoid a repeat of the 3G and 4G auctions, Three's failed appeal removes a barrier to 5G...

14/02 - MOBILE - Fiber-like internet and a glimpse of our 5G future are coming to smartphones in 2019 - Qualcomm's new mobile modem offering speeds of up to 2Gbps...

14/02 - NETWORKS - 5G spectrum auction to go ahead after Three's legal challenge fails - Three's bid to decrease an overall spectrum cap falls on deaf ears and prevents further delay...

12/02 - NETWORKS - China Mobile plans 5G launch in 2019 - China Mobile joins a select few number of operators planning to beat original 2020 target...

08/02 - MOBILE - The first 5G smartphones are coming in 2019 - But you won't see 5G service everywhere by next year...

07/02 - MOBILE - 5G set to push mobile data use sky-high - Giffgaff research estimates customers will use nearly 100GB of mobile data a month by 2025...

05/01 - NETWORKS - AT&T set to run 5G trials - Company to adopt new 3GPP guidelines as it continues push for next-generation networks...

04/01 - NETWORKS - Samsung teams up with Verizon on 5G - New service to be launched in Sacramento later this year...

Back to top

What will 5G networks mean for me?

  • Faster download and upload speeds
  • Smoother streaming of online content 
  • Higher-quality voice and video calls 
  • More reliable mobile connections
  • Greater number of connected IoT devices 
  • An expansion of advanced technologies - including self-driving cars and smart cities

How fast will 5G be?

It’s still not exactly known how much faster 5G will be than 4G, as much of the technology is still under development.

That being said, the networks should provide a significant upgrade to current download and upload speeds - with the GSMA proposing minimum download speeds of around 1GBps.

Most estimates expect the average speed of 5G networks to reach 10Gb/s, and some even think transfer rates could reach a whopping 800Gb/s.

This would mean that users could download a full-length HD quality film in a matter of seconds, and that downloading and installing software upgrades would be completed much faster than today.

Will I be able to get 5G networks on my phone?

Existing smartphones, tablet or other devices that were released when 4G networks were the standard may not be able to connect to 5G to begin with, or may incur extra costs to do so. 

However following the 2020 deadline for the initial rollout, we should soon see devices coming with 5G connection as default.

Don't worry though - although 5G should represent a major step up from current 4G and 3G networks, the new technology won’t immediately replace its predecessor - at least, not to begin with.

Instead, 5G should link in with existing networks to ensure users never lose connection, with the older networks acting as back-up in areas not covered by the new 5G coverage.

So-called “4.5G” networks (also known as LTE-A) are set to fill the gap for the time being, offering connections that are faster than current 4G networks, although only certain countries such as South Korea can benefit from them right now.

Once launched however, implementing 5G may be a slower process. Much like the gradual takeover of 4G networks from the previous generation, existing network infrastructure may need to be upgraded or even replaced in order to deal with the new technology, and homes and businesses may also need to get new services installed.

It’s not yet known how 5G networks will take over from existing networks, but again, much like the rollout of 4G, you may not be able to immediately connect to the new networks without upgrading your technology.

What will a 5G network need?

The GSMA has outlined eight criteria for 5G networks, with a connection needing meet a majority of these in order to qualify as 5G:

  • 1-10Gbps connections to end points in the field (i.e. not theoretical maximum)
  • 1 millisecond end-to-end round trip delay (latency) 
  • 1000x bandwidth per unit area
  • 10-100x number of connected devices 
  • (Perception of) 99.999 per cent availability 
  • (Perception of) 100 per cent coverage
  • 90 per cent reduction in network energy usage 
  • Up to 10 year battery life for low power, machine-type devices 

Read more »



Feb
21
The best free alternative to uTorrent 2018: leaner, more secure torrent clients
Posted by Mark Wycislik-Wilson on 21 February 2018 12:06 PM

uTorrent was once a lightweight, open source alternative to BitTorrent's official software. Its speed and streamlined interface made it the tool of choice for music, movie, and game fans worldwide, but after its acquisition by BitTorrent in 2016, its popularity waned.  

Soon after the buyout, uTorrent became closed-source, preventing users from modifying its code to create their own variations, and contributing to its development. Advertisements also began to appear in its once-simple interface, giving former fans a further reason to look elsewhere.

It's also fallen foul of security vulnerabilities, including issues with the web and desktop clients revealed in February that left users at risk of snooping and hacking.

At first blush, there seems to be a vast array of free alternatives to uTorrent, but in reality many of them are riddled with malware and rife with security issues. That's why we've done the hard work for you and compiled a definitive list of the best, fastest, and most secure options available, complete with their respective pros and cons.

Divider

qBittorrent screen grab

For anyone looking for an alternative to uTorrent that looks similar but lacks the bloat, qBittorrent has a lot to offer. This lightweight client manages to pack quite a punch without devouring system resources.

Like all good clients, it supports both torrent files and magnet links, and the installer is pleasingly free from unwanted extra software or toolbars. Despite its close resemblance to uTorrent, qBittorrent doesn't feature any ads either, leaving you free to get on with managing torrents without distractions.

There are some nice touches like the ability to shut down or hibernate your computer once downloads are complete, the ability to create torrents, and an integrated RSS reader to help you keep up with your favourite sites. There's also a torrent search engine available (if you don't mind installing Python), and all the essential controls (prioritising, pausing etc) can be accessed through either the main toolbar or via tabs on the multi-pane interface.

Its shallow learning curve, clean installer, lack of ads, and array of features make qBittorrent the best free alternative to uTorrent.

Divider

Tixati screen grab

Tixati's interface might look garish once you start downloading files, with graphs rendered in alarming shades of red, green and blue, but there are customization options to tone it down.

As well as all of the standard torrenting features such as throttling, encryption and bandwidth management, there is also a social aspect to Tixati. Channels (decentralized and anonymous) can be used to chat with seeds and peers, which could prove handy if you're struggling to grab the last few megabytes of a file and want to ask for more seeds or faster uploads.

Tixati is very light on system resources, meaning it is lightning fast, and the encryption and security features included should help to calm the fears of anyone who's slightly anxious about torrenting.

Divider

Transmission screen grab

Transmission was originally only available for Mac and Linux, but the Windows version is starting to gain traction too.

In the past, Transmission has experienced issues with security and malware, but these have now been resolved and the software can be evaluated for what it is: a decent torrent client. It's worth noting that it's presented as 'early preview' software, so it's still very much a work in progress.

Transmission isn't going to win any beauty pageants – little effort has been taken to make the interface attractive or appealing. That said, it still manages to get the job done. It's slightly unfortunate that the program will be off-putting to many people simply because many options are slightly hidden. Adjusting settings for individual torrents, for instance, requires you to double-click the entry for the torrent as there is no secondary pane to allow for easy editing.

Transmission isn't for everyone, but it's worth a look when you're moving on from uTorrent.

Divider

Deluge screen grab

You're spoilt for choice when it comes to the platforms supported by Deluge. As well as Windows and Mac editions, there are also version available for all the major Linux distros – you can even download the source code if you feel like getting your hands dirty.

Windows users will find that the program looks more limited than the other options here, and that first impression is correct – as a client it only really has the basics covered. Thankfully, Deluge support plugins and there are dozens available (official and third-party) to download free.

This means that despite its apparent simplicity, Deluge is actually the most customizable torrent client out there; you can pick and mix the features you want and ignore the rest. If you don’t want RSS support, for instance, there's no need to add it. Deluge also supports remote access, and offers convenient extensions for all the popular browsers.

Divider

BitTorrent screen grab

BitTorrent is the original, but not necessarily the best torrent client. You might have very high hopes for BitTorrent Inc's official software, and while it's perfectly adequate, it's not much more than that. If you're just looking for a tool to get the job done and you don’t want to place your trust in third party tools, it might well be worth investigating.

Things get off to a good start  the client is available for Windows, Mac and Android. All are free, but you'll have to upgrade to BitTorrent Pro if you want a version without ads. You also have to watch out for bundled extra software included in the installer.

BitTorrent offers support for torrents, magnet links and torrent search engine files. If you've used uTorrent, you know what to expect; this software is largely identical, but there's the added bonus of being able to create torrents.


Read more »



Feb
21
Loot box controversy deepens on both sides of the Atlantic
Posted by Darren Allan on 21 February 2018 11:58 AM

The controversy surrounding loot boxes in video games is gathering pace, with a new survey in the UK showing that the majority of people believe that they count as gambling – and should be regulated as such – while further flak has been fired at these mechanisms by politician Chris Lee over in the US.

As highlighted by VentureBeat, a recent online survey conducted in the UK found that 60% of respondents believed that loot boxes should be regulated as gambling (and obviously enough, the remaining 40% felt they weren’t gambling and shouldn’t be regulated).

In short, more Brits believe loot boxes count as ‘proper’ gambling in the same vein as pushing the buttons on a slot machine.

And over in the US, Chris Lee, state representative for Hawaii, is pushing bills which, among other measures, aim to impose restrictions on video games that have ‘gambling-like mechanisms’ (along the lines of loot boxes) so they can’t be sold to under-21s.

Talking ’bout my generation

At the start of this week, Lee told Gamespot that he believes the time is now right for this regulation to be enforced because the US is in the midst of what he describes as a generational transition, whereby lawmakers and other authorities now better understand video games.

Lee commented: “I think it is inevitable that, whether it was spurred by [Star Wars] Battlefront or some of the recent big-title games just being so ridiculously exploitative of the player base, there is enough of generational transition in politics and positions of authority around the country and the world, that you have people who understand what the industry is doing and are willing to stand up and take action and do something about it. Inevitably, the industry will have to change.”

He further observed that more jurisdictions would start protecting people from what he describes as ‘exploitative and predatory practices’.

Lee used very similar language in his arguments against the likes of loot boxes back in December, where he cited the example of a sword which cost $200 in a video game.

Lee noted that it’s fine to sell this in-game sword for such an (albeit extortionate) amount, but what wouldn’t be okay is to sell a percentage chance to win that sword. The difference being that the former is a transaction, but with the latter, you’re only buying a chance at potentially obtaining something, which makes this ‘gambling’.

Lee’s bill would only affect Hawaii, but other states have similar legislation vying for introduction. Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association is arguing for self-regulation of the industry, rather than governmental control.

As we’ve previously discussed, loot boxes and in-game purchases are really part of a more general shift we’re seeing across the computing world, as all software moves towards a ‘service’ subscription model rather than an upfront fee (a prominent example would be Microsoft pushing folks towards Office 365 rather than the standalone Office 2016).


Read more »



Feb
21
uTorrent vulnerabilities leave users at risk of hacking and snooping
Posted by Cat Ellis on 21 February 2018 11:57 AM

uTorrent's Windows desktop and web clients both contain vulnerabilities that leave users at risk of hacking.

The problem was discovered by Tavis Ormandy of Google Project Zero – a team of security analysts who specialize in finding zero-day vulnerabilities (ones that the developers or publishers are unaware of).

According to Ormandy the flaws are easy to exploit, and make it possible for criminals to control key functions in the client, including seeing your downloaded files and downloading malware that will run the next time you boot your PC.

Project Zero gives software vendors 90 days to fix vulnerabilities before making them public. Ormandy originally contacted BitTorrent about the flaw in November, but received no response. Fearing BitTorrent wouldn't make the deadline, he reached out to founder Bram Cohen on Twitter, prompting the company to act.

How to patch uTorrent

BitTorrent has issued a fix in its latest beta release, and plans to push a new stable version of the client out to all users later this week.

The web version of uTorrent has already been repaired, according to Dave Rees, vice president of engineering at BitTorrent. 

"We highly encourage all uTorrent Web customers to update to the latest available build 0.12.0.502 available on our website and also via the in-application update notification," he said in an email to users.

Via Ars Technica


Read more »