Monday, December 14, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 15/12/2015


Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour LIVE coming exclusively to Apple Music
Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour LIVE coming exclusively to Apple Music
Don’t know what to do with yourself this holiday season? Well, you’re in luck, because Apple is bringing Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour LIVE to a worldwide audience exclusively on Apple Music.
Directed by famed music video director Jonas Åkerlund, The 1989 World Tour LIVE concert film will let fans the world over experience Taylor’s entire performance from her most recent concert in Sydney, Australia, and will also take them behind the scenes with never before seen rehearsal footage and appearances from special guests.
Taylor tweeted the announcement earlier today, telling her followers "Thank you so much for all the birthday wishes. I have a little surprise for you. #1989WorldTourLIVE @applemusic"
The 1989 World Tour LIVE concert film will be available to Apple Music members from December 20 PST/GMT (December 21 AEST).
Additionally, fans can ‘tune in’ to Apple Music’s Beats1 radio station to hear Zane Lowe interview Taylor from 9am (PST) on December 14 (4am on December 15 AEST/ 6pm on December 14 GMT).

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Watch the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer enter our airspace
Watch the Independence Day: Resurgence trailer enter our airspace
Set to arrive 20 years after the release of its predecessor, the marketing machine for Independence Day: Resurgence has kicked off with an impressively moody trailer which sees (almost) everyone from the original return, with some new faces also along for the ride.
After the globally-devastating events of the original Independence Day, the world is a very different place – humanity has incorporated alien technology into its defense systems (under the watchful eye of Jeff Goldblum), Bill Pullman has grown a great big bushy beard, Will Smith has seemingly evaporated, and there are presumably no landmarks left to destroy.
Unfortunately, such colossal changes to Earth's dynamics have failed to scare off the alien invaders that attempted to conquer us last time, and they've returned with a bigger, badder force just itching to wipe humanity out for good.
Joke's on them, though, because this time the original crew (which also includes Judd Hirsch and Vivica A. Fox) are joined by Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe (replacing Mae Whitman as Bill Pullman's daughter), Angelababy, Joey King, William Fichtner and Sela Ward as the new President.
Will Independence Day: Resurgence hit the same nostalgic sweet spot that carried Jurassic World all the way to becoming the 3rd highest grossing movie in cinema history? Check out the trailer below and start your prognosticating!
YouTube :

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Nan-o-technology: the best tech Christmas gifts for Grandma
Nan-o-technology: the best tech Christmas gifts for Grandma


Pure Evoke
Nans aren't generally known for their love of technology, but they're not all jumper-knitting luddites either. Do a little bit of research to find the right gadgets and there's no reason you can't bring some useful tech into your Gran's life this Christmas. All it takes is a keen eye and the patience of a saint.
We've already done some of the hard work for you, but you should be prepared to be on call until your tech gift has been mastered - which basically means forever if our Gran is anything to go by.


Price: (£60)
This is the perfect gift for readers, no matter what age they are. The Kindle is lighter and easier to hold than a book, it's gentle on the eyes, and it can last for weeks between charges.
Load it up with some of your Nan's favourite tomes, and you're all set, as the 4GB memory can store thousands of books.
You can also change the font size to make it easier to read on. If you can stretch your budget, the backlit Kindle Paperwhite (£110) is even nicer and is better for tired eyes.

Doro Liberto 820

If your Nan has resisted the smartphone revolution so far, this could be the device to change all that. It's an Android phone with a reasonably decent set of specs, including an 8-megapixel camera, and it features a really accessible interface with large icons.
It also has big buttons, a decent loudspeaker, is hearing aid compatible, and there's an assistance button for emergencies.
Doro includes all sorts of easy-to-follow tutorials on everything from how to get online to how to take a photo. There's even a handy charging dock, so they won't need to fiddle with cables.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Price: (£35)
As long as your Nan has Wi-Fi and a new-ish TV with an HDMI port, the Amazon Fire TV stick is a great way to bring her old TV up to date with some smart features.
Set up is easy, and you can install apps like BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, so she can catch up with her favourite programmes. It's definitely a more attractive prospect if you invest in Amazon Prime (£79 per year) too, because it includes a wealth of extra TV shows and movies.
Google Chromecast (£25 - £30) is similar, but the TV stick comes with its own remote, making it much more Nan-friendly.

Pure Evoke D6

Pure Evoke
Price: (£165)
If your Nan still likes to listen to the radio, then this DAB device has plenty to choose from. It packs tactile volume and tuning knobs, a wee LCD display to show the station and the time, and five preset buttons for her favourite stations.
The oak veneer should blend in with most décor, and there's a handle on top, just in case it needs to be moved.
There's also a small remote control, Bluetooth streaming support and timer and alarm functions, but they won't need to bother with any of that if they don't want to.

NIX 8-inch Digital Photo Frame

Price: (£50)
This digital photo frame has a motion sensor, so it turns itself off when nobody is there. That means you can plug it in and forget it, which is perfect for Nan.
It's an 8-inch LED backlit display with a decent resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, so your family photos should look pretty good on it.
Just stick some treasured snaps on an SD card, plug it in, and leave it to do its photo slideshow thing. You can also plug in USB drives and it can even play videos.

Amazon Fire Tablet

Fire Tablet
Price: (£50)
You can introduce your Nan to the world of tablets without breaking the bank if you opt for the basic Fire tablet from Amazon.
As long as she has Wi-Fi, you can set it up with some handy apps like BBC iPlayer, TuneIn Radio, and Facebook.
Maybe audiobooks through Audible (£8 per month) would prove to be a hit, or you could snag a Prime membership, for access to loads of TV shows, movies, and music. Fire OS is pretty easy to get to grips with too - a great upgrade if Grandma has had a Kindle before and 'fancies one of them tablet things'.

Apple iPad Air

iPad Air
Price: (£320)
If you feel like pushing the boat out then consider an iPad Air. Your Nan will need Wi-Fi and you'll probably want to load up some good apps for her, but for the more tech-savvy Grandmas this will be a real treat.
Thankfully, iOS is very accessible and there are loads of apps and even casual games that might appeal. She can also read the news, check out recipes, dip into social media, and watch movies on it.
Stir FaceTime into the mix for keeping in touch with the family, and you can see how this could be the perfect device. An iPad Air could easily be the only computing device your Nan needs, giving her simple access to a wealth of information.

Flipper Big Button Universal Remote

Price: (£19)
Does your Nan get frustrated with the remote control? Most remotes are packed with pointless buttons, and they can be confusing, even for tech fans.
This remote is simple, with big clear buttons for the essentials, and a slide down panel that reveals a standard number keypad.
You can program it with her favourite channels and lock it to prevent accidental reprogramming. It's universal, too, so it can control the TV and a Sky box or another device. If she's forgetful or arthritis is setting in, this could be prove to be a real winner.

Magicfly Key Finder

Price: (£20)
If your Gran is forgetful, and every trip to the shops is delayed by a search for keys or a purse, then this gadget could be just the ticket.
You get three different coloured fobs, with keyrings for easy attachment, and there's a transmitter with three big buttons.
Press the coloured buttons and the corresponding fob will emit a beeping sound to help you find the missing keys, or whatever else it's attached to. Batteries are included, and the fobs flash to warn you when a battery is getting low.

Fitbit Charge HR

Price: (£92)
OK - you might think no Nan would want a wearable, but staying fit is vital at every age. A fitness tracker can really help anyone stay mobile and in touch with how active they are, and that's even more important for the aged.
The tricky part is teaching your Nan how to charge and sync it, but if she can get the hang, the Fitbit Charge HR could be a valuable gadget.
It tracks steps, distance, heart rate, sleep quality, and displays the time. It will sync with any computer or smartphone, so they don't need a cutting edge device to get a picture of their health.
A fitness tracker specifically aimed at the older market would probably clean up, but for now, this is the best choice.

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Drones are a rapidly growing problem for aircraft
Drones are a rapidly growing problem for aircraft
A new report from Bard College in the US highlights the growing problem for pilots of planes and helicopters: drones getting in their way. A total of 921 incidents were analysed from December 2013 to September 2015 and over a third of those were defined as "close encounters" - in other words there was a real danger of a collision in midair.
90 percent of the logged incidents occurred above 400 feet, the maximum altitude that drones are allowed to fly as per the guidelines published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the States. What's more, a majority of the incidents were recorded within five miles of an airport - also a no-fly zone according to the FAA's rules.
"Our findings indicate that incidents largely occur in areas where manned air traffic density is high and where drone use is prohibited," say the researchers. If you're getting a drone for Christmas, you might want to read up on what you can and can't do with it.

Droning safely

In the UK the guidelines are much the same as they are in the US: keep your drone in sight, stay below 400 feet and stay well away from other aircraft and airports. It sounds like common sense but the Bard College report suggests plenty of drone pilots could use a reminder.
If your drone has a camera attached to it, you must keep a distance of 50 metres between other people, vehicles, buildings and structures. You should also stay away from congested areas and large gatherings of people, the UK's Civil Aviation Authority says.
Drone manufacturers and regulators are working on ways to make drone flying safer. One suggested proposal is integrated geo-fencing software, so drones will automatically refuse to enter certain areas; however, this isn't a foolproof solution and still relies on the cooperation of the operator.

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How to restrict iPhone usage
How to restrict iPhone usage

Parental controls

Whether you're lending your iPhone to your children or setting up an iPhone of their own, you need to be sure that they'll be safe using it, which is why the iPhone's parental controls are so important.
Particularly if they're tech-savvy older children, you might want to ensure they won't be visiting inappropriate websites, installing and playing unsuitable games, or running up huge bills buying extras as In-App Purchases (IAPs).
On several occasions since early 2013, Apple has agreed to refund millions of dollars to parents who discovered that their children had made purchases without their permission, but don't assume you'll just get your money back if your kids splash out on In-App Purchases – the onus is on you to keep an eye on how your own phone is being used, and if you find any transactions you do want to disown, you'll have to prove that those purchases were made without your knowledge and consent.
How to restrict iPhone usage

What are In-App Purchases?

Simply put, an In-App Purchase is any extra bundle of content or features that you can buy within an app, as distinct from in the App Store itself. IAPs are widely used to unlock added features, or to buy real or virtual goods.
In games, for example, you might have to pay to unlock levels, acquire extra lives or power-ups, and so on. Some free apps turn out to be sparse samplers or more-or-less empty 'containers', requiring you to pay for the actual content.
This is not to say that there's anything inherently bad about In-App Purchases – they can be a perfectly fair and reasonable way to offer you extra content or options that you might not need or want to pay for up-front, such as additional languages in a language-learning app, for example.
The catch is that you're spending real money, which might not be immediately obvious, particularly to young children or in the context of a game. As the US Federal Trade Commission noted, one person's daughter spent $2,600 in the app Tap Pet Hotel and 'other consumers reported unauthorized purchases by [their] children totaling more than $500 in the apps Dragon Story and Tiny Zoo Friends.'

Keep them safe

The simplest and safest option is therefore often to disable IAPs entirely, which is easily done using your iPhone's Restrictions options. You'll find these by opening the Settings app and tapping General > Restrictions. As you'll see opposite, these include the options to disallow access to a range of apps one by one and even to block internet access completely by blocking Safari (or any other browser apps you might have installed).
This last option, however, won't always be suitable, for example where the children involved are older or will need to use the iPhone to find information online.
The alternative can be to set age-rating-based restrictions, which can apply to apps, web sites or content of various sorts – we'll show you how.
It's important to note that it's not possible to set up multiple 'user accounts' on one iPhone and switch between them, as you can on your Mac or PC: any restrictions will apply globally on that device until you change them (although we'll show you how to ensure that only you can change them).

Make an allowance

It is, however, possible to set up a separate App Store account for a child (aged 13 or over) and either set an allowance for this account or stop it downloading paid apps at all.
This gives your kids a certain degree of independence and might be ideal if you're setting up an iPhone for them to use on their own but want to prevent unexpected bills.
Again, though, note that you can't swap between accounts: once you've logged in, you can't change to another App Store account on the same device for 90 days.
If you want your kids to have a paid-for app once you've set up an Apple ID for them, you can gift the app from another Apple ID.
First sign in to the App Store with your own ID (ideally using another device, bearing in mind the 90-days rule). Now find the app, tap the Share button, then tap Gift and enter the email address of the children's account.
To set them an allowance, scroll down to the foot of the main Featured page in the Store, tap Send Gift, enter their email address and choose a value.

How to set up restrictions in iOS 9

1. Enable Restrictions

To access your iPhone's parental controls, tap Settings > General > Restrictions, then tap Enable Restrictions. You'll now be asked to set a Restrictions passcode, which you'll need to enter if you want to make any changes to the restrictions later.
Make sure it is NOT the same as the passcode you use to switch on or wake your iPhone – that's the first thing your children will be likely to try!

2. Allow or disallow apps

You can now disable key apps and features, including Safari, Camera, Siri, FaceTime, AirDrop and CarPlay. You can also opt to block the three stores: you can disallow iTunes and the iBook Store by name; to block the App Store, disable Installing Apps.
There are separate switches to prevent users deleting apps or making In-App Purchases, so you can disable exactly the combination of features you want. Set a switch to off and the relevant app will immediately vanish from the Home screen.
How to restrict iPhone usage

3. Set age rating limits

In the Allowed Content section you can set age-related limits for different types of content on your iPhone, including apps. Every app has a rating – to find it, search for the app in the App Store, tap its icon and scroll down to the Information section.
Limiting apps by age rating will hide those rated for older users from your Home screen, and also prevent users from downloading them from the App Store (though they'll still show up in search results).

4. Require password immediately

By default, when you buy an item in the App Store or via IAP, you can buy more without re-entering your password for 15 minutes.
But if you buy something for your kids and then hand them the device, this means they have 15 minutes of free rein on your account. To prevent this, tap Password Settings and change the option from Require After 15 minutes to Always Require – now the password must be entered for every purchase, no matter how recently the last one was authorised.
Restrict iPhone usage

5. Privacy options

Under the Privacy section, you can prevent apps from accessing your location, contacts, calendars, reminders, Twitter and Facebook information, or sharing data over Bluetooth.
Tap Location Services, for example, to see a list of apps that have requested use of that service. If you want your kids to be able to find their location in Maps, say, set Maps to on but other apps to off.
Then tap Don't Allow Changes to lock these settings in place. Note that Don't Allow Changes does not act as a blanket 'disable' switch; it just prevents users and apps from altering the settings you've made.
Be aware too that some apps may already have imported and stored your contacts, so they might still show up in that app.

6. Disallow changes

In the Allow Changes section you can lock in the current settings for your personal accounts (Mail, Contacts and Calendars), Find Friends, and some other features not covered elsewhere.
If you tap Don't Allow Changes in any category, apps and users won't be able to add, modify or delete accounts or modify iCloud settings in that category.

7. Game Center options

The final set of Restrictions relate to Game Center, your iPhone's social hub for games. Switch Multiplayer Games off and users won't be able to request a match, send or receive invitations to play games, or add friends in Game Center.
Switch Adding Friends off and they can't make or receive friend requests in Game Center – but if Multiplayer Games is on, they can continue to play with existing friends.

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Is this our first proper look at the Galaxy S7?
Is this our first proper look at the Galaxy S7?
We've heard plenty of rumours about next year's Samsung Galaxy S7 but there hasn't been much in the way of actual product photography - that is, until this weekend, when images supposedly showing the chassis of the new phone made their way onto Weibo.
In fact the original poster only says it's a "not yet released flagship phone" but people are putting two and two together and coming up with the S7. If it is Samsung's 2016 flagship it would confirm suspicions that the design isn't going to change a great deal from the Galaxy S6.
Samsung Galaxy S7
There's not much in the way of groundbreaking revelations here - the edges look a little more rounded - but it could be our first real look at the Galaxy S7 and that would make it a big deal. We're expecting to see the phone at Mobile World Congress at the end of February but some insiders think it will arrive as early as January.

Samsung speculation

With the release date so close it's surprising that we've seen so little in the way of leaked product shots so far. Most industry analysts expect Samsung to focus on improving the internal specs of the device rather than revamping the phone's look after its 2015 aesthetic overhaul.
We have heard rumours that the handset is going to be available in two sizes (just like the iPhone): one with a 5.2-inch screen and one with a 5.8-inch screen to cater for hands of all sizes. Last year we did get the Samsung Galaxy Edge+ with a 5.7-inch display.
The camera module is expected to get a substantial bump in terms of its quality and capabilities, while there are whispers of a new liquid cooling system too. All should be revealed in a couple of months.

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Star Wars Week: Forget Stars Wars aliens – here's where we might find the real ones
Star Wars Week: Forget Stars Wars aliens – here's where we might find the real ones

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Main image: Does looking for life mean finding another Earth? Image credit: Nasa/Ames/JPL-Caltech
For now, the aliens of Star Wars are pure sci-fi, but if there is life on other worlds, we already know where to look. It's only been 20 years since the discovery of 51 Pegasi b, the first-ever exoplanet to be detected – and the first of thousands. Thanks to the Hubble, Spitzer and especially the Kepler Space telescopes, astronomers have hunted down over 4,000 planets orbiting other stars, some of which are Earth-sized, and in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star.
Could they support life? Back in the 1960s, astronomer Frank Drake created an equation to predict the likelihood of alien life, and figured there were at least 10,000 communicating civilizations in our galaxy alone. Given that there are 400 billion stars and at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way, Drake's estimate is a conservative one if – and it's a big if – life exists at all beyond Planet Earth.
However, do we have to go light years away to find life? Find alien lifeforms on any of the seven other planets or 175 moons of the Solar System, and the conclusion will be simple: life is everywhere. We have no evidence to prove that we're alone or we're not, but either conclusion is profound. All we have is tantalising glimpses, clues and a vast bucket list of places we suspect aliens could exist.

Tabby's Star – an alien megastructure?

SETI Allen Telescope Array
Did the Kepler Space telescope find an advanced alien megastructure hanging out in front of a star? The chances are slim, of course, but there's definitely something weird going on in the Tabby star system (officially called KIC 8462852), which periodically dimmed by 20% and more between 2009 and 2013. That's a helluva lot, which has got folks talking about the possibility of an astro-engineering megastructure, such as a Dyson Sphere of solar panels.
Or it could be that an alien society is trying to announce itself. If so, it's working – the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute has trained its Allen Telescope Array on Tabby's Star to study radio signals. "It's quite likely that this star's strange behaviour is due to nature, not aliens, (but) it's only prudent to check such things out," says SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak.

Kepler 3b: clear skies and water vapour

Kepler 3b
Astronomers are currently using data from three of Nasa's space telescopes – Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler – in their search for Earth-sized planets. Mostly they find 'hot Jupiters' far bigger than Earth, but what about a 'hot Neptune'? About five times the radius of Earth and 122 light years from Earth, Kepler 3b orbits a star called HAT-P-11b (nice work, naming convention committee).
Having originally found it in 2009, NASA had another look last year and discovered that Kepler 3b has a cloud-free atmosphere and, rather stunningly, water vapour. Detecting the latter is highly unusual, so Kepler 3b has to go on the list; where there's water, there's life … probably.

The unexplained Wow! signal

SETI 'Wow' signal
Is it possible that we found aliens back in 1977? While working for SETI at the Big Ear radiotelescope in Delaware, Ohio, astronomer Jerry R. Ehman detected an unexpectedly strong narrowband radio signal from within the constellation of Sagittarius which lasted for 37 seconds, prompting him to write "Wow!' in the data sheet's margin. Then nothing happened – no source for the signal was ever found. Was it an artificially generated radio signal sent by alien civilisation? Or was it simply something from Earth that bounced off space debris?

Gliese 876 – Super-Earths

Gliese 876 system
Since interstellar travel is impossible, the search for alien life must prioritise close exoplanets that could support life – and Gliese 876 has got to be on the shortlist. 'Just' 15.2 light years away in the direction of the constellation of Aquarius, this red dwarf star has the four confirmed closest exoplanets to us: Gliese 876 b, Gliese 876 c, Gliese 876 d and Gliese 876 e.
All are larger than Earth, and orbit their star from about the distance of Mercury, and there's little reason to avoid such Super-Earths if you're serious about alien-hunting, since they appear to be by far the most numerous exoplanets (about 77% of all exoplanets found in the Milky Way so far, although they are easier to find than Earth-sized planets). Besides, planets that size – about six times bigger than Earth – could have habitable moons, which for all we know are the dominant home of extraterrestrial life in the Milky Way.

Enceladus and Titan – the Moon rivers

Saturn's moon Enceladus
So why not try out the moons theory? Back in 2013 the orbiting Cassini spacecraft confirmed that Saturn's tiny icy moon, Enceladus, has an underground sea of liquid water. The news has excited scientists because the plumes of ice and water vapour, which were first discovered jetting from fractures at the moon's south pole in 2005, have been revealed to be warm and salty – both are tell-tale signs that there's more water below the surface.
Another moon of Saturn, Titan, is the only other body aside from Earth to have confirmed standing liquid on its surface. There's just one problem: that liquid is ethane and methane, not water. If Titan's seas of liquid methane do contain organisms it would completely change scientific concepts of how life can evolve – and the search parameters would dramatically widen.

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Kepler-452b – a Second Earth?

The search for life is all about the 'Goldilocks zone'. Find a planet that's a similar distance from its star as Earth is from the Sun, the theory goes, and it may also have water pooling on its surface. Okay, so that definition may appear to lack imagination and any kind on confidence in the possible variety of alien biology, but we can only go on what we know: life develops in warm, wet conditions.
From the more than 4,000 exoplanets already discovered, only 12 are about the same size as Earth and in the Goldilocks zone, the chief suspect for life being Kepler-452b, the smallest such planet so far discovered. Around 1400 light-years from us, Kepler-452b has a similar distance from and length of orbit around its star, Kepler-452, which is 1.5 billion years older than our Sun. If you're talking about a Second Earth, for now, that means Kepler-452b.

Mars – Panspermia

Artist's impression of water on Mars
Is there life on Mars? It's definitely got water. In September geologists found recurring slope lineae – long, dark, damp, salty streaks – on its highlands, evidence that saltwater still flows. The Curiosity rover has found dried-up rivers and pebbles that suggest flowing water, too, and astronomers thinks Mars used to be a lot warmer, and have a much thicker atmosphere, and even oceans.
It's prompted some to theorise that Mars could even be the source of simple microbial life in the Solar System, which came to Earth on meteorites in a process called Panspermia. It's possible – plenty of Martian meteorites have been found on Earth. This is why NASA is so obsessed with Mars.

Mars – forward contamination

There is life on Mars – we put it there. Panspermia works both ways. If Earth is the only source of life – or the only present home of life – then NASA has already accidentally transported extremophile organisms (back?) to Mars on its rovers including Spirit, Opportunity, Viking and Curiosity – the latter of which is banned from going anywhere near water courses.
Maybe the damage is already done – might Mars one day turn green because of our accidental forward contamination? Putting a man on Mars suddenly has serious consequences. From a scientific point of view, there would be no point in ever going back – all you would find would be evidence of Earth-based lifeforms.
However, forward contamination could well be a natural feature of existence in a galaxy. It's also possible that our Solar System both leaves behind a trail of, and busts through a mess of, organic materials and microbes as it moves through its orbit of the centre of the Milky Way, which it does at 828,000 kmh, completing a Galactic Year every 250 million years.

Europa – an ocean under ice

Jupiter's moon Europa
Europa, the second-closest moon to Jupiter and a bit smaller than our Moon, rocketed up Nasa's to-do list in December 2013 when the Hubble Space Telescope detected water vapour above its south pole. The plumes suggest there's a liquid water ocean on Europa, beneath an icy crust that could be as much as 100km thick. It's suspected that there's more water there than on Earth, but as yet there's no proof.
Europa is considered to be one of the best places to look for extraterrestrial life – it even has both traces of sulphur and an infrared signal similar to that given off by bacteria. Sending a spacecraft to drill into the ice to sample the water for microbial life is impossible with current technology, but since the water vapour is being vented into space it would be possible for an orbiting spacecraft to sample material from deep within the moon without having to drill down into it. Nasa will send a flagship mission to Europa in the mid-2020s.

Kepler-186f – Earth-sized and orbiting an M dwarf star

Go with what you know. The first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone, exoplanet Kepler-186f, is part of a five-planet star system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus. However, Kepler-186f orbits a much smaller star than our Sun, an M dwarf, and in just 130 days. As it does, it receives only a third of the energy the Earth gets; the brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as our Sun appears about an hour before sunset.
Not ideal? On the contrary… "M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," says Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at Nasa's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."

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Updated: 5 of the most popular Raspberry Pi distros
Updated: 5 of the most popular Raspberry Pi distros


Raspberry Pi 2
Note: Our Raspberry Pi distros round-up has been fully updated. This feature was first published in May 2015.
Believe it or not, the Raspberry Pi is four years old, and in its relatively short life has ushered in a new revolution in computing that stretches far beyond its original remit – that of helping to promote basic computer science education in schools.
2015 was a particularly fertile year for the Pi. Not only did the Raspberry Pi 2 usher in a quad-core processor and 1GB RAM for under £30 (around $45, AU$60) in February, but the latest iteration – the Pi Zero – has delivered a fully functional computer for under a fiver.
There are a number of Linux kernel-based operating systems designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi. These include fully featured distros such as Raspbian, which offers a fully functional desktop environment and is based on Debian, and even speciality distros like RetroPie, which supports a large number of controllers and is aimed at gaming fans. Plus there are many more besides…
In this article, we're going to look at five of the most popular and distinct Raspberry Pi distros.


Raspbian is one of the oldest and most popular mainstream distros for the Raspberry Pi. Although it's developed independently, the Raspberry Pi Foundation also develops its own recommended version of Raspbian that you can install using the Foundation's NOOBS installer.
The latest version is based on the ARM port of the Debian Jessie desktop distro, which improves performance and provides more flexibility over the previous Wheezy-based release.
You'll need a 4GB SD card for installation, and it boots to the lightweight LXDE desktop environment. Here you'll find thousands of software packages, including some pre-installed apps such as LibreOffice and Claws Mail.
The Foundation's version of Raspbian also includes the official app store for the Pi called the Pi Store, which houses apps optimised for the Raspberry Pi.
A minimal version – Raspbian Jessie Lite – is also available.

Pi MusicBox

Pi MusicBox
The Pi MusicBox distro converts your Raspberry Pi into the ultimate music-oozing jukebox. The distro is based on the Mopidy music streaming server that can fetch music from various streaming services including Spotify, Google Play Music, and SoundCloud as well as a host of online radio stations.
Pi MusicBox can also play music stored on the SD Card or on any USB drives attached to the Pi. You can also configure the distro to fetch music by automatically mounting shared folders on the network. Additionally, the distro can also connect to any DLNA and AirPlay devices and can be controlled via any player that supports MPD.


If you're a fan of classic gaming titles, grab a copy of the RetroPie distro and transfer it onto an SD card. The distro can emulate dozens of classic games consoles and home computers such as the Amiga, Amstrad, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Game Boy, PlayStation 1 and more.
RetroPie also supports all sorts of gaming controllers, from cheap no-name USB efforts to controllers for the PS3 and Xbox 360. It boots into the Emulation Station software which first helps you set up the controller and then lets you select a game from any of the supported emulators.
The only caveat is that you must get your own ROMs. There are several that can be legally downloaded for free and you can even create your own from old cartridges using adapters like the Retrode in conjunction with your Mac/PC.


One of the most popular uses for a Raspberry Pi is as a dedicated smart TV box, sitting underneath your big-screen TV to give you access to all kinds of digital media, whether stored locally or hosted online (such as catch-up TV).
OSMC (Open Source Media Center) is based on the renowned media centre Kodi, and is super-easy to install too. Boot up, add your own media to its libraries and install the add-ons you want to add smart TV functionality, then pair it with the Kodi remote app for your Android, iOS or Windows phone for the perfect media centre experience.


Originally designed for the desktop, the OpenMediaVault (OMV) distro has a specially tuned version for the Raspberry Pi that lets you use the little computer as a dedicated Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.
Once it's up and running, you can configure and manage the distro remotely using its browser-based admin interface. Attach USB drives and they'll be detected automatically, plus you can manually add your network storage too.
For the best performance make sure you use self-powered removable disks. You can use the disks attached to the OMV NAS individually or assemble them in a RAID array. The distro has ample options to manage other advanced aspects of a NAS too.

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Updated: How to watch the dazzling Geminid Meteor Shower tonight
Updated: How to watch the dazzling Geminid Meteor Shower tonight
We're in for yet another celestial treat as the Geminid Meteor Shower will peak tonight through Monday.
Sometimes called "The King of Meteor Showers," the Geminids will be the most dazzling meteoric display of the year. More than 120 meteors are expected to streak across the sky every hour during its peak, though this number could reach up to 150 meteors every 60 minutes, according to AccuWeather.
The Geminids are not only an ample lot, but they also plunge more deeply into the Earth's atmosphere than other meteors. This generates long arcs you can see for 1-2 seconds, so if you were waiting to wish upon a shooting star, this is the time to do it.

What are the Geminids?

The Geminids are meteors, essentially rock or metal debris hurtling through space and enter the Earth's atmosphere. These particular meteors are unique because they originate from an extinct comet, originally thought to be an asteroid, called 3200 Phaethon. Their origin gives them those long-lasting tails.
Here's how the Geminid meteors are made: every 1.4 years, 3200 Phaethon travels close to the sun. When it does this solar sweep, it's thought that the sun's heat boils off dust from the old comet and sends this debris into the Geminid stream. This stream is massive: NASA estimates the dust funneling into it outweighs other streams by factors of five to 500. (If you're keeping track at home, add another tick to the column of things that make the Geminid Meteor Shower one-of-a-kind.) Every year in mid-December, the Earth passes into 3200 Phaethon's debris stream, thus producing the Geminid Meteor Shower.
The Geminids make impact with our atmosphere at 78,000 mph (35km/s), which NASA says is quite slow compared to other meteor showers. You will likely see the white glow produced by most shooting stars, but the Geminids can also burn yellow, red, green, blue or purple.
As for the name, the Geminids appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini.
When first spotted in the early 19th century, just before the US Civil War, the Geminids were a weak lot compared to other meteor showers. Since then though, the shower has gained steam, and it's now what NASA calls the strongest annual shower we witness on Earth.
Geminids color

When to see the Geminid Meteor Shower

The shower is technically going on right now (it's active between December 4 and December 16), but its peak is this Sunday night through early Monday morning.
The absolute best time to see the meteor shower is at 11pm PT Sunday. This is when the shower's radiant point is at its highest. However, according to AccuWeather, Geminids may be visible beginning at sunset until just before sunrise.
You can still see the Geminids prior to and after its peak, but not as many will be visible. What's more, there should be better visibility in the US on Monday night to see the meteors.

Where to see the Geminid Meteor Shower

The Geminids are a generous bunch when it comes to who can see them. The shower will be visible in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, though they do favor the north.
Unfortunately, inclement weather in parts of the US may make it difficult to see the shower. If you do have clear skies, head to a sparsely populated area away from city lights. While coming from the southwest, the meteors are so far away that they will appear to take up the whole sky. A crescent moon that sets early will afford good visibility where skies are clear.
Geminid Europe
You may need some time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, experts suggest, so it could take a bit before you start to see the meteors.
And here's our favorite tip: The best way to view the shower is to lie on your back and simply look up. We can't think of a better way to enjoy the cosmic light show.
Top image credit: NASA
  • The Star Wars aren't real, but we can't wait for them anyway

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Cat Street View is the best reason to stop looking at cat GIFs
Cat Street View is the best reason to stop looking at cat GIFs
Did you ever think Google Street View was lacking cats? Well, a district in Japan did, so they've made Cat Street View.
As part of a tourism campaign for the Hiroshima prefecture - which is famous for its cats, according to the press release - the tourism division of the district has created a Street View-style website, but from the perspective of cats.
Sure, it may seem utterly pointless, but it's a fun way to explore a city online.
"You can enjoy and experience the hidden charms of the backstreets and the scenery of Hiroshima from the perspective of cats which know them well," the district's tourism division said, adding that Cat Street View "is also full of information on Onomichi, a town of slopes famous for its cats."
Cat Street View currently lets you explore four areas of Onomichi city, with pop up windows for info, images and videos on different points of interest in and around the city.
And just because we can, here's a video of the Cat Street View concept by Hiroshima prefecture's tourism division:
YouTube :
  • Meanwhile, here's everything that's happening over at IFA 2015
Via Cnet

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Techradar deals: The best Microsoft Lumia 950 XL deals for December
Techradar deals: The best Microsoft Lumia 950 XL deals for December

Best Lumia 950XL deals

Lumia 950 XL deals
Microsoft's finally brought out a top of the range smartphone in 2015, and this is the phone for you if you're thinking of getting a handset that could actually replace your PC.
The Lumia 950 XL is a phone with a huge 5.7-inch QHD screen, oodles of power inside thanks to the Snapdragon 810 chipset inside (combined with a decent 3GB of RAM) and for those that love customisation, there's a removable back, battery and microSD slot as well.
Let's talk camera - the sensor is a 20MP effort but with the Pureview technology nabbed when Microsoft bought Nokia, which really helps to enhance snaps all over the place - low light, general landscapes, selfies, they're all accounted for.
It's a phablet that offers the very best from Microsoft in a simple package - top end specs and something very different from the rest on the market.
More options: iPhone 6S Plus deals | iPhone 6 deals | iPhone 6 Plus deals | iPhone deals
See the best Lumia 950XL deals

The UK's best Lumia 950 XL deals:

the best iphone 6s deal
Free phone (pre-order) | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £34pmThis is a quality deal for those looking to get their hands on this new phone, but with a normal amount of data - the amount of time most of us spend in Wi-Fi means you won't have to worry too much about exceeding your limits. It's nice to see that there's no barrier on calls and texting too - this is a deal that's perfect for the average user. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £816
Get this deal: From
iphone 6S deals
Free phone (pre-order) | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £36pmThe Microsoft Lumia 950 XL is a large-screened phone, and as such, you might want a touch more data to play with - which is why you'll probably enjoy 3GB on offer here from O2 through Carphone Warehouse. The same unlimited calls and texts offers are here, which means you'll be getting all you need for this 32GB phone that has PC smarts built in. The total cost over 24 months is £864.
Get this deal: From Carphone Warehouse
iphone 6S deals
£29.99 (pre-order) | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £34pmThis is the great deal for those looking for a decent chunk of data and all the texts and minutes you could wish for. The upfront cost is pretty gosh-darn low considering how much this phone could cost SIM free, and the monthly cost is excellent considering you're getting so much data per month. Most people won't find many issues or run out of data with this much - but check out some of the bigger deals below if you're bothered. Total cost over 24 months is £845.99
Get this deal: From
Now let's break down the best Lumia 950 XL deals by network...
iphone 6S deals

Best Lumia 950 XL deals on Vodafone

Offers extras like Spotify and Sky Sports
Free phone (pre-order) | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £34pmLet's get down to business - one of the top deals of the week, this is a great choice for your standard phone user. It's got a 'normal' amount of data - the amount of time most of us spend in Wi-Fi means you won't have to worry too much about exceeding your limits. It's nice to see that there's no barrier on calls and texting too - this is a deal that's perfect for the average user. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £816
Get this deal: From
iphone 6S deals
£10.99 upfront | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 8GB data | £40pmThis is the great deal for those looking for a good ol' chunk of data, all the unlimited minutes and texts that you could want, and it's available in grey here too - it's got 32GB of storage onboard, but there's a microSD slot to improve the space. This 8GB of data is a decent slug to play with, and it's got unlimited data for a couple of months. Total cost over 24 months is £970.99
Get this deal: From Mobile Phones Direct
iphone 6S deals
Free phone (pre-order) | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB data | £44pm
OK, this isn't the phone deal for those that want to save money each month - this is the one for you people that want to have a large amount of data and are prepared to pay for it. There's a huge 10GB of data, and it comes with 2GB of Wi-Fi data as well! This is the deal for those that want it all with unlimited minutes and texts too. The total cost of this 24 month deal £1056
Get this deal: From Carphone Warehouse
iphone 6S deals
Free phone (pre-order) | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £50pmWith no unlimited deals on offer this one of the best deals you should be looking at - but there's a LOT of data to play with. Want to stream Netflix pretty much every day on the commute? This is great for your wants and needs.There's unlimited calls, loads of texts to play with, and the upfront cost is non-existent. Total cost over 24 months is £1200
Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse
iphone 6S deals
iphone 6 deals on o2

Best Lumia 950 XL deals on O2

The network with extras like O2 Priority
Free phone (pre-order) | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £36pmAnother on of our best deals for this large-screened phone, and as such, you might want a touch more data to play with - which is why you'll probably enjoy 3GB on offer here from O2 through Carphone Warehouse. The same unlimited calls and texts offers are here, which means you'll be getting all you need for this 32GB phone that has PC smarts built in. The total cost over 24 months is £864.
Get this deal: From Carphone Warehouse
iphone 6S deals
£29.99 (pre-order) | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £34pmHello, another interloper from the best deals, but this is the best deal around at the moment for the Lumia 950 XL. It's a great deal for those looking for a decent chunk of data and all the texts and minutes you could wish for.
The upfront cost is pretty gosh-darn low considering how much this phone could cost SIM free, and the monthly cost is excellent considering you're getting so much data per month. Most people won't find many issues or run out of data with this much - but check out some of the bigger deals below if you're bothered. Total cost over 24 months is £845.99
Get this deal: From
iphone 6S deals
£24.99 phone (pre-order) | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB data | £39pmOK, you'll need to pay a little bit upfront for this phone deal, but it's really decent for the amount on offer. This the is the deal for those that are sticking with O2 and want a load more data. It's unlimited calls and texts too, and while you might wish it was free upfront, there's always a low cost each month to enjoy. Total cost over 24 months is £960.99
Get this deal: from
iphone 6S deals
Free upfront (pre-order) | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB data | £54pmIt's another 10GB deal, but this is the one that doesn't come with any upfront cost - perfect for those that don't want to be messing around with paying anything at the start. And on top of that, look how much data you're getting here - it's the most you can get on O2 at the moment! There are no unlimited deals on offer, but this is as close as we can get. Total cost over 24 months is £1296
Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse
iphone 6S deals
iPhone 6 deals on EE

Best Lumia 950 XL deals on EE

The place to go if you want high-speed 4G
Free phone (pre-order) | EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £37.49pm
Want the Lumia 950 XL, with all its large-screen, QHD goodness? Want it on EE? Then this is the cheapest way to do it without an upfront cost. 2GB is good enough for most people, and the unlimited set of calls and texts is just what the doctor ordered. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £899.76
Get this deal: From
iphone 6S deals
Free phone (pre-order) | EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £37.49pmLook, we wanted to offer you a 2GB per month data deal, but in all honesty - don't bother when this exists. It's the same price, same minutes and texts, and the same phone on offer - but with 5GB of data on offer. This is a good choice with 5GB of data on offer for most things - don't bother with that other deal, honestly. Total cost over 24 months is £899.76
Get this deal: from
iphone 6S deals
Free phone | Unlimited mins and unlimited texts | 10GB data | £44.99pmWelcome, welcome, come one and all, have we got the deal for you! This is a great deal for those looking for a lot of data - not maximum, but a lot - and you're treated to all the minutes and texts you could want. It's a slightly higher cost over the course of two years but it's a lot data in there - and it's in stock now! Total cost over 24 months is £1079.76
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
iphone 6S deals
Free phone | EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £54.99pm
This is the deal with everything that you can get from EE - there's no higher data allowance on board for the Lumia 950 XL on the double-lettered network. And when we say everything, we mean everything. There's super speed 4G, all the minutes and texts you could want and a great whacking what of data to play with. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £1319.76
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
iphone 6S deals
iphone 6 deals on Three

Best Lumia 950 XL deals on Three

The network with unlimited data
Because the Lumia 950 XL is so fresh, Three doesn't currently have any deals running. Hopefully next month will see an influx of new deals for the One A9 so make sure you check here before you buy.

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TechRadar Deals: The best Xbox One deal for Christmas: save £10 on the Xbox One 1TB with TR10
TechRadar Deals: The best Xbox One deal for Christmas: save £10 on the Xbox One 1TB with TR10
Techradar has teamed up with to offer you the chance to save an extra £10 on the 1TB version of the Xbox One, leaving you paying the cheapest price in the UK - £269.99.
This is the version of the console to get if you envisage buying and downloading a lot of games – all the major titles require hefty installs so the 1TB version allows you to have twice as many games installed at any one time.

The cheapest Xbox One 1TB in the UK

The standard price of the standalone Xbox One 1TB console over at Zavvi is £279.99 but using the voucher code TR10 you can save another £10, leaving you paying £269.99.
That's a great deal on what is the superior version of the console. We've had a look around at the other big stores to double check this is the cheapest price and this is what they look like:
To get this deal simply add the console to your basket at and then at the checkout enter the code TR10 to save the extra £10. Beware though that there are only 250 of these vouchers available so don't delay - it's first come first served. Happy gaming!

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