EU mulls stricter controls on WhatsApp, Skype

The European Commission is set to recommend tighter privacy and security for services like Facebook-owned message service WhatsA

The European Union will in September propose subjecting internet services like WhatsApp and Skype to similar rules as traditional telecommunications companies, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation bloc, is set to recommend tighter privacy and security for services like Facebook-owned message service WhatsApp and Microsoft’s video phone portal Skype.

Spokesman Christian Wigand said that “we can confirm that the commission is working on an update of EU telecoms rules” next month to “ensure a high level of protection for people and a level playing field for all market players”.

“The commission is analysing to what extent so-called over-the-top service providers (OTT) like WhatsApp and Skype are providing services that are equivalent to those provided by traditional telecoms operators,” Wigand said.

“The commission is considering whether the scope of the current EU rules needs to be adapted, to maintain consistently high levels of consumer protection, security of networks and servers, and to ensure that regulation does not distort competition.”

A Commission source told AFP that while it was necessary to “stimulate innovation by new players” they had to “make sure there were fair rules for everyone”.

Facebook delivers a better UX for businesses


Every business today seems to have its own Facebook business page, and with good reason; Facebook is a huge force in marketing as the world’s second-most visited website, and no business wants to miss out on potential leads it can pick up from having a Facebook presence.

In the last few days, the company has been finalizing the rollout of its new business page that are characterized by a cleaner look and feel. One of the most prominent changes that users will notice is that the tabs are gone and have been replaced by a left-hand side navigation. Also, the call to action buttons on the page—CTAs like “shop now,” “learn more” and “sign up”—are all more prominent than they ever were.

Facebook began experimenting with these new designs a couple of months ago, but they’re only now being rolled out on a wider basis. The past couple of months has seen a few, different iterations of business pages. For example, at first, business pages sported a bigger Cover photo and removed any display ads that usually showed up on the right-hand side of desktop pages.

The user experience drastically changes thanks to this redesign. The profile picture will not block a page’s cover photo anymore since the latter has been moved to the right. The cover photo after the redesign still retains the same dimensions: 828 X 315 pixels.

The striking, blue call to action button is now at the top right of the page, just beneath the cover photo. Businesses also enjoy more customization, as this call to action button can be configured to show exactly the kind of action the businesses want their customers to take. For instance, shopping at their retail site, watching a video, learning more about their product or service, or booking an appointment.

The theme of this redesign is a cleaner and more minimalist look. The removal of the right-side display ads greatly help with this appearance, as Facebook is attempting to make desktop business pages more consistent with the recent mobile updates for its Facebook pages from earlier this year.

As far as usability goes, the biggest improvement comes from the removal of the page tabs. Without the tabs, a business page now feels like a traditional site, with navigation down the left-hand side of the page. As a result, users should feel like they can navigate the entire page more efficiently as they browse from one section—such as About, Likes, Events and Events—to the next.

In the last several weeks, more and more users have already begun remarking on these changes. Most users should now be able to see the improvements to the redesigned business pages—Last week, a Facebook spokesperson asserted that this redesign rollout is almost finished. On August 3rd, the rollout was expanded; by this week, you should be able to see exactly what the new business page looks like.



[Source: Webdesignerdepot]

Here’s When the Next Titanfall 2 Beta Starts

Here’s When the Next Titanfall 2 Beta Starts

Respawn’s Lead Engineer Jon Shiring details the development team’s findings from Titanfall 2‘s recent weekend test, as well as what they will be testing in the upcoming beta.

This past weekend Respawn Entertainment ran the first of its two planned beta tests for Titanfall 2. Today, the developer put up a blog post, which details what they learned from the first test, as well as what we can expect from the second test, which runs this coming weekend.

In the blog post, Respawn admitted that the first beta test alerted them to “at least a dozen” issues, though it is likely that many of these issues were never noticed by players. Titanfall 2‘s lead engineer, Jon Shiring elaborated on what the team has done with the results of the initial test run.

“We are doing these two weekends of the Tech Test because we knew we would hit problems that we’d never seen before. While a massive number of people were hard at work getting wins this weekend, we were busy finding and fixing at least a dozen separate issues. Those are all problems that we won’t have to find and fix at launch. Many issues that we identified and fixed were things that users never noticed, which was one of our goals.”


Shiring went on to say that the beta version that was played this weekend was from a build of the game dating back from June, and that many of the reported issues have already been fixed in the subsequent builds. As much as players love the gameplay during a beta test, Shiring admitted that this latest beta was implemented to test the game’s new server and matchmaking systems as well as testing server security through simulated network attacks.

According to Shiring, the “matchmaker had a trial by fire this weekend,” while he and his team were “really happy with the results.” This is undoubtedly good news for Titanfall fans who were worried about a lengthy or non-functioning matchmaking system on the game’s release. Shiring has already previously spoken about how they plan to avoid server issues with Titanfall 2, and this blog post seems to reinforce that statement.


After detailing what they had learned from the initial beta test, Shiring ended by explaining what they’d be testing in the second beta, which runs this weekend. Regarding the matter, he said, “We’re going to do some fun things for weekend two of the Tech Test. With the learnings from weekend one, our next goal is to really spike the number of players playing online at the same time.”

So it seems if nothing else that Respawn is dedicated to delivering a game that actually works on the first day of the launch. This server stability, along with a single-player campaign, may actually give them an edge over competitors like Battlefield 1 which releases just three weeks afterTitanfall 2 and targets a very similar audience.



[Source: GR]


Latest Microsoft updates erase Word customizations, can break Edge, Outlook, File Explorer


An investigation by Ed Bott casts doubt on KB3xxxx being the problem, and points instead to an Office update that affected Office 2010, 2013, and 2016; the Windows 10 update still affects Edge, Outlook, and File Explorer. We stand by what we said about the model Microsoft is using. The original article continues below.

Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 cumulative update, KB 3124200, dropped last week, but clearly needed more time to bake. While initial reports suggested that the update would fix some issues with WiFi connections dropping out, the latest cumulative update is causing some significant problems.

Reports indicate that in at least some cases, KB 3124200 nukes all Microsoft Word customizations, including custom templates, AutoText, macros, envelope addresses, autocorrect, and AutoFormat settings. It also reverts any custom spell check options you may have stored. The problem is serious enough that Microsoft has published its own KB on fixing the issue, KB 3129969.


The problem occurs because the latest update accidentally renames the old file where such information was stored (Normal.dotm) to one of several alternatives: “Normal.dotm.old, NormalPre, NormalPre15, NormalOld, or OldNormal.” That’s a direct quote from Microsoft’s article on resolving the problem, which raises a significant question: Why doesn’t Microsoft, which wrote the patch that broke its own software, know what the backup file name is actually called? It would be one thing if the files had version numbers that corresponded to the user’s Office version, like “Normal13.dotm.old”, “Normal10.dotm.old”, etc. Instead, we get word salad.

The problems aren’t limited to wholesale replacement of Word customizations. has compiled a list of problems users have encountered with the latest version of Windows 10, including the Edge browser refusing to close, Explorer, Outlook 2016, and Calculator all refusing to start, and the Windows Store, Calendar, and Maps applications all refusing to run.

The new update policy isn’t working

When Satya Nadella took over at Microsoft, one of his changes was to radically overhaul how Microsoft handled QA (Quality Assurance). Previously, Microsoft had roughly twice as many QA testers as developers working in the Operating Systems Group. After the layoffs, that ratio is reportedly 1:1. Developers are now expected to do much of the code testing that was previously outsourced to other groups, even if they don’t have much experience in testing code.

Combine that shift with the new, mandatory update policies and you get the current situation. Because Windows 10 now forces updates by default, the system will continue to download and attempt to apply KB 3124200, even if the update is repeatedly hanging on install or having other problems. Because all updates are now rolled into a single package, there’s no way for a user who wants the WiFi fix KB 3124200 includes butdoesn’t want to risk their Word customizations to install one and not the other.

For all their decades of close cooperation, Microsoft seems to have missed a lesson Intel learned 10 years ago. The entire reason Intel uses a tick-tock model in which it shifts to a new node, then deploys a new architecture, is because it’s extremely difficult to implement a new node and a new architecture at the same time. With Windows 10, Microsoft radically shifted both its software implementation model and its update policies simultaneously.

The nature of these problems is that they affect a minority of people. I have no doubt that the majority of Windows 10 users have had nothing but smooth sailing. While I use Windows 7 for my personal machine, I’ve deployed Windows 10 on multiple testbeds and had no problems with it to-date. But if you’re stuck in the minority that’s having a problem, these changes and the opacity with which they’re made is infuriating. It’s become far more difficult to diagnose the cause of these issues and even harder to prevent the software from reinstalling itself (or simply not installing in the first place).

Microsoft needs to either drastically overhaul its QA, return additional flexibility and customization options to average users, or both. The just-trust-us model isn’t working. And I’d have a great deal more faith in Microsoft’s willingness to fix these issues if the company wasn’t relentlessly pushing holdouts to adopt W10 as opposed to fixing theproblems with its distribution and testing model.



[Source: Extreme Tech]

No new rate hints as Federal Reserve joins Facebook

The Federal Reserve creates a Facebook page, but offerings thus far add nothing to existing communications

The Federal Reserve expanded its communications strategy Thursday by launching a Facebook page, but there were no fresh hints on the direction of interest rates.

The new page——offered a photograph of the French-designed, Fed headquarters in Washington in its stripped classicist architectural style, and a statement that the Fed would post press releases, speeches, reports and other materials on the page.

But for anyone hoping for new insight into the central bank’s monetary policy plans, the Facebook offerings added nothing to existing communications, which have been criticized for alternately being vague, shifting too frequently and giving too much or too little information.

On Wednesday, the Fed released on its main website the minutes of its July 26-27 meeting, which showed policymakers still divided on the strength of the economy and whether they should raise interest rates soon, with the text saying mainly that they agreed that they want to keep their “options open.”

That came after the Federal Open Market Committee and its members individually repeatedly indicated early this year that more rate hikes were imminent after they made the first increase in the benchmark federal funds rate in nine years in December.

“The aforementioned minutes didn’t offer the market any convincing sense that the Fed is going to be raising the fed funds rate in September,” Patrick O’Hare of said in market commentary.

He said the tentative market reaction to the July minutes “might have to do with a growing level of exasperation over the Fed’s wishy-washy communication.”



Comics of the week #352



Every week we feature a set of comics created exclusively for WDD.

The content revolves around web design, blogging and funny situations that we encounter in our daily lives as designers.

These great cartoons are created by Jerry King, an award-winning cartoonist who’s one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.

So for a few moments, take a break from your daily routine, have a laugh and enjoy these funny cartoons.

Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below as well as any related stories of your own…

[Source: Webdesignerdepot]

No Man’s Sky Mod Lets Players Fly Through Caves, Underwater

No Man’s Sky Mod Lets Players Fly Through Caves, Underwater

The latest mod for No Man’s Sky lets players navigate their ships close to the planet’s surface, through caves, and even underwater, but it isn’t perfect.

When No Man’s Sky was first announced, gamers’ minds were racing with the thought of an 18 quintillion-planet galaxy that was ripe for exploration. However, once No Man’s Sky officially launched it became clear that the exploration would have some restrictions or limitations. Luckily, the PC version of the game has mod support, which allows players to bypass some of the limitations in No Man’s Sky and experience the game as they imagined.

One of those mods that helps make No Man’s Sky feel like a true exploration title is the low flight mod. As the name implies, the low flight mod allows players to get closer to the surface and even go through caves and underwater.

Without mods, No Man’s Sky players can only get so close to the surface of a planet before the game pushes them backwards. Moreover, if a player heads towards a planet or object at a high speed they will simply bounce off instead of crash. It’s a detail that doesn’t bother every player, but some feel it takes away from the realism. There are not many dangers in No Man’s Sky as it stands, so the fear of crashing could force players to be a little more cautious.

It’s important to mention, though, that this low flight mod does not make crashes possible. Instead the mod simply allows players to get close to the surface of a planet, but if they get too close their ship will only take some damage.

But be warned that getting too close to the surface or going through caves or underwater can lead to a ship taking devastating damage. This shouldn’t lead to anything game breaking – at worse players will have to recover theirresources from their ship’s grave – but it’s better to be aware.


That being said, it’s hard to see what this low flight mod would add to No Man’s Sky outside of the ability to explore caves and underwater areas. Since the ship can’t mine for resources there really isn’t any point in going to these areas outside of seeing what they look like. Flying lower to the ground might add to the realism, but it also has the potential of getting the player’s ship stuck.

To say that No Man’s Sky has been one of the more polarizing releases of this year would be to put it mildly. While some praise Hello Games for their procedurally generated universe, others feel they were misled by early marketing materials and quotes from the developers. Either way, the game has a ton of buzz surrounding it and the mod scene is only just getting started. Not to mention the developers have not added anything “new” to the game since launching No Man’s Sky a few weeks ago.


[Source: GR]


Subgraph OS: A secure Linux for the non-technical user?

Subgraph OS

If you’ve ever had to configure an SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) kernel security module without the guidance of an administrator, you’ll understand why this recentinterview with David Mirza Ahmad in Motherboard is interesting. Ahmad is the President of a company named Subgraph, which is developing a security-focused version of Linux named Subgraph OS. He states that its purpose is to provide an end point that’s “resistant against remote network exploitation,” that will run on low-powered notebook computers, and can be used (and presumably installed) by people who are not security experts.

Subgraph OS offers more than kernel security. It includes features such as full-disk encryption and what appears to be a technique to sandbox (isolate) exploits. It includes also several applications and components to reduce the user’s attack surface.

Subgraph Mail integrates OpenPGP to let the user have access to signed encrypted email. An identity verification service is built into the mail client. Plus, there is no need to execute commands in a terminal window or the need to install plug-ins. Web browser support is deliberately left out of the mail client to eliminate Web exploits from within mail.


Tor is used by exclusively by applications that perform communications. This is done by using Subgraph’s Metaproxy software to intercept outgoing connections and relay them through the correct proxy (SOCKS, HTTP, etc). Tor (The Onion Router) is the volunteer network of servers connected using a series of virtual tunnels instead of direct connections to anonymize information about network connectivity. Subgraph’s Orchid is a Java-based Tor implementation that can be also be used outside of Subgraph OS.

Although it’s not obvious from the documentation so far, I presume Subgraph’s Vega vulnerability scanner is a component of the OS as well. Vega is an automated scanner, intercepting proxy, and proxy scanner (and it may be related to the Metaproxy application mentioned earlier). Vega itself is a standalone application written in Java that can run on Linux, Apple OS/X, and Microsoft Windows. Note, however, that on theVega download page, the first thing mentioned is that it is “still early stage software.”

The Motherboard report said Subgraph recently received funding from the Open Technology Fund (OTF) which is part of Radio Free Asia and is funded by the U.S. Congress to “empower world citizenry to support the Internet as a safe and secure platform for free speech.” While this funding is apparently new, Subgraph OS itself has been in development for at least a few years. Wired UK ran an article about its then reportedly imminent release in June 2014, but apparently the current release is still in pre-alpha stage.

If you would like to learn more about Subgraph OS, check out its GitHub repository, which includes the beginnings of a Subgraph OS Handbook. Although Subgraph OS does not look it like it will be in production form in the near future, it may be worth keeping an eye on this project as it percolates through its development phases.



[Source: Extreme Tech]

Twitter unveils features to filter tweets, notifications

Twitter has announced two new settings that will allow users to control what they see in their feeds and what notifications they receive.

Twitter says in a blog post that it has modified its notification settings to include the ability to see only notifications from people they follow. It’s also introducing what it calls a “quality filter” that it says can improve the quality of tweets users see. Twitter says the feature will filter out duplicate tweets or content that appears to be automated.

The announcement from San Francisco-based Twitter comes a month after “Saturday Night Live” and “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones publicly called on Twitter to do more to curb harassment on the platform. Twitter banned one user in response to the incident.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Shows New Rune Abilities

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Shows New Rune Abilities

In a new The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gameplay video tweeted out by Nintendo, it appears that Link will have access to a number of new rune-based abilities.

Ever since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild stole the show a few months ago at this year’s E3 conference, not much was heard about the game until the recently-concluded gamescom event. Unsurprisingly, the game’s managed to scoop up the Best of Gamescom 2016 award as well, no doubt due to the title’s new gameplay mechanics and a timely innovation of the franchise’s well-worn formula. And now thanks to a new tweet by Nintendo, we’re all now privy to some of Link’s new abilities in Breath of the Wild, some of which undoubtedly played a part in its impressive gamescom showing.

This new tweet from the Big N is a short gameplay video from Breath of the Wild, and it introduces a number of new abilities available to Link via runes. Using these runes, Link will be able to interact with the environment in a number of interesting ways, such as creating ice blocks in water and creating a makeshift path, and extracting hard-to-reach items and chests from the bottom of deep water bodies.

In addition to the various environmental-based interactions, Link’s new rune-based abilities also allow him to do a number of creative things with objects, such as creating and setting energy bombs, and even imbuing items with momentum and a trajectory so that they fly in a particular direction at deadly speeds when hit with a sword.

Despite Breath of the Wild‘s delay to 2017, it appears that Nintendo isn’t holding back in trying to make the best Zelda game possible. Given that the title will feature an open world and thus a greater amount of freedom available, not only does Link’s new rune abilities allow players new ways of interacting with the objects and environments, but it will also allow for greater creativity in solving the various puzzles and problems encountered in the game.

While Nintendo has stated that Breath of the Wild will need to sell 2 million units for it to be successful, based on the evidence of Link’s new rune abilities and some visually stunning in-game footage of environments and locations such as the Temple of Time, it appears that the game should have no problem reaching that sales target.


[Source: GR]