Fresh Off The Block


A better organised Discord, Forum changes and more – Spring Cleaning on Technically Motivated

With Spring in full swing and Summer not long away, many people will be engaging in Spring Cleaning to get their homes and workplaces organised ad tidy. Here a Technically Motivated, we also believe in the value of Spring Cleaning; and I'm pleased to be able to detail some tweaks – both small and large – we have or will be bringing out across the site and our other services over the coming days.


The first such change, which is already live, is to our Discord. Many of our Discord regulars use our Discord to discuss technology-related topics that we at TM currently do not have articles about, whether just out of personal interest, as a suggestion for a new topic for us to cover, or to help them plan out an article of their own to submit to us. Many of these discussions previously were taking place in our #articles text channel, which is also used to inform Discord users of new postings on the main Technically Motivated website; and this was sometimes causing these announcements and subsequent discussion – the intended point of the channel – to become drowned out.

Following feedback from the Moderators, I have subsequently introduced a brand new text chat channel to our Discord, #suggestions, as a dedicate channel for discussing anything tech-related that isn't yet on our blog, with linking to other sites fully permitted (within reason). As part of this change, #articles is now only to be used or discussion and announcement of articles that DO appear on our site; and the channel no longer permits links of any kind from non-Staff users. We have also introduced categories to the Discord channel list, to neatly organise all our available channels.

Forum and Private Messaging

For the last several months now, we have been actively beta testing a new Forum, to replace our long-standing Forum solution of many years. The aim of this test was to find a replacement that would be more efficient, but still offer a comparatively similar set of features to our existing Forum, due to the software powering that Forum becoming outdated as well as causing performance issues due to significant database load.

During the Beta, the replacement Forum received a number of updates and very quickly matured into a complete solution, even allowing us to cross-post topics from the blog to our Forum; as well as introducing the ability for players to report inappropriate topics. Following testing of the most recent crop of updates, the Technically Motivated Moderators and myself have deemed the new Forum suitable for our purposes.

As a result, on 31 May 2018, the existing Technically Motivated Forum will be closed down and replaced, with existing Forum links now leading to the new Forum and the Beta Test page removed. We hope you will find the replacement easy to use and appropriate for all your future discussions.

As part of the switch to the new Forum, unfortunately all existing Private Messages will be lost. We have been informed by the developers of the new Forum that Private Messaging is not a supported feature and is not planned to be added, as it is not considered essential to the main purpose of a Forum; and there are already other WordPress plugins that offer dedicated Private Messaging functionality. We plan to reintroduce Private Messaging at a future date; and are already beta-testing a potential option to reintroduce the feature, which we hope to roll out very soon. However, we will not be able to import your previous message history. Sorry 🙁

Other News

You may have noticed a slight change to the sharing buttons that appear below each of our posts. As part of our commitment to user privacy, Technically Motivated has ditched AddThis, which had the potential to track our users even if hey weren't logged in to any Social Networks; in favour of a brand-new solution which does no tracking whatsoever. The new sharing buttons are also more efficient, resulting in slightly faster page loads across our site. So now you can read and share our articles both faster and more safely than before. We may tweak the appearance of the buttons in the coming days, but you can use the new buttons right now if there's anything you want to share with your friends, family, colleagues or followers 🙂

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    Previous Articles


    Worldwide Downtime for GMail and Google+, instability continues for some

    Only an hour ago, users in Europe, the U.S., Canada, India and beyond all reported suddenly being unable to access their GMail (or Google Mail) accounts in what appeared to be a widespread outage. Google’s App Status Dashboard was originally unaware of the issue, but at around 7:20pm GMT the service updated to show downtime for GMail and Google+, though further details of the downtime are still unknown.

    The error being seen by most users at the moment is a 500 Internal Server Error. These errors, as the name suggests, always tend to be a minor issue on the server (in this case, Google’s) – although it says nothing about what the problem actually is – and are usually temporary. Judging by the response on Twitter, however, the problem is currently affecting a huge number of users both on GMail and Google+. The latter also affects Youtube Comment boxes under the new system now in force there, which means those aren’t loading at all on videos, as well as Hangouts across the web and mobile. GMail users report their issue affects not just web access, but also other clients trying to download GMail via both POP and IMAP.

    As of an update released just before this article published here on S.FM, many users state their services have returned; though others still state they are unable to get in; and those who HAVE gotten access to their email back are continuing to report intermittent problems. Nevertheless, it looks likely all issues will be resolved shortly; and we await Google’s response on what happened if any is delivered.


    Twitter is introducing new security measures in light of recent hackings

    Micro-blogging site Twitter says it is bringing in an optional two-step login process for its users to improve the security of each account, following recent high-profile breaches within the social network.

    The news comes after a number of high-profile Twitter accounts were illegitimately accessed, including those of major news organisations such as the Financial Times and the Associated Press (AP), the latter causing widespread panic when hackers sent a fake news tweet claiming US President Barack Obama had been injured. This followed an attack against Twitter itself in February, which led to 250,000 users having their passwords stolen.

    Mr. Jim O'Leary (product security head of Twitter) explained the new two-factor authentication system thusly:

    "You'll need a confirmed email address and a verified phone number. After a quick test to confirm that your phone can receive messages from Twitter, you're ready to go."

    A message containing a verification code would then be sent to the account holder's mobile phone that can be used to log in. However, he also reminded Twitter users of the importance of strong passwords:

    "Of course, even with this new security option turned on, it's still important for you to use a strong password and follow the rest of our advice for keeping your account secure."

    However, Kim Dotcom – owner of file sharing site, itself the spiritual successor of the controversial former file upload website MegaUpload – is threatening a patent lawsuit over the Social Network's newfound use of two-factor authentication. Extending the threat to Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank and other companies that have implemented the system, he claims the use of mobile devices to offer a second layer of security for website logins infringes a patent describing an SMS-based two-step-authentication process he filed with the US Patent Office in 1998 and was granted in 2000; with Dotcom claiming registrations also exist in twelve other countries.

    "I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the US did to me."

    The BBC reports that he is not alone in these claims, however:

    A New Jersey-based firm called Strikeforce is currently suing Microsoft over its use of two-factor authentication tech based on a patent it filed in 2004.

    And another British company, SecurEnvoy, recently announced it had been granted patents for a "business grade" SMS-based two-factor authentication process.

    However, let's look beyond the arguments and focus on the security. Will you be turning on two-factor authentication for your Twitter account?

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2013
    Acknowledgements: Quoted segments: BBC, Jim O'Leary, @K more...
    Some Rights Reserved

    Digg gets a rethink

    Dying social network Digg, designed as a site to share news on the internet and allow people to judge its importance to decide which become today's headlines on the site's homepage, was bought over by a new team roughly two months ago for a trivial amount of money. Now the new Digg team have explained their plans for revamping the social network to make it relevant once again, in a blog post at detailing discussions over the last six weeks.

    One of the major sticking points in the new rethink is to refocus the site around getting to the content people want in the simplest ways possible, dropping anything that isn't constructive to that process. Gizmodo published an article today about one such move, ditching the much-loathed Diggbar; but other plans include dropping Newsrooms; and renaming “Newswire” back to its original name, Upcoming.

    Perhaps most telling of all though is the new Digg team's assessment as to the role of Digg in the modern internet. Rather than encouraging people to stay on Digg and ignoring every network, the new Digg is being designed to get you to the content you want to read quickly, in the belief that the easier it is to discover things using the network, the more likely you'll come again to find new things (now where have we heard that before…?); as well as to embrace the networks people have already to judge the relevance of articles. While you can still "Digg" articles on the site itself to increase their score, Digg scores will now also consider how often an article has been shared on Facebook and Twitter to determine an article's overall importance, thereby highlighting the articles most grabbing of people's attention whatever network they use.

    Diggs: 54. Tweets: 46. Facebook mentions: 112. Total Digg Score: 212.
    An early mock-up of the new Digg scoring system. Although this article only has 54 Diggs, it scores 212 due to the many mentions of it on Twitter and Facebook. Clicking the overall score shows a breakdown. (Image Credit: RethinkDigg)

    Also of note is that the early launch of the new Digg will lack a comment system, to give the developers time to consider how to "do it right". As posted on RethinkDigg:

    At launch, v1 will not include a commenting system. When Digg was founded in 2004, it was one of the only places on the web to have a conversation with like-minded people. Today, conversations happen everywhere, and the problem that Digg started to solve in 2004 now has no shortage of solutions. We knew that if we were going to support commenting at launch, we had to do it right, and we knew that we couldn’t do it right in six weeks. In the coming weeks we will conduct a few experiments in commenting that will inform more permanent features.

    Time will tell if the rethink of Digg by its new team will help make it relevant to the modern world and keep it away from Death's Door. What are your views on its chances?


    Tweetbot – The iOS Twitter Client made for Retina displays

    With the new MacBook Pro Retina, Apple have gone all out in trying to convince the public that retina displays are the word in high-quality graphics. It’s hard to disagree – in theory, retina displays allow for sharper, crisper graphics with higher pixel counts. But that’s only if developers take advantage of them. Regular apps that are designed specifically for lower resolutions or less sharp screens often end up looking blurry on these better quality displays – as many people downloading apps to their new MacBook are discovering:

    Seriously, Mac developers, you need to get up to speed on your Retina versions, because some of your apps are really bad looking now. – Jesus Diaz, Gizmodo

    One of the apps this is most noticeable on is the official Twitter app for Mac, which on retina displays often becomes blurry to the point of unreadable. Twitter may well already be working on a new version to fix this – but until then, if this is a problem for you, the good folks at TapBots have a solution.

    Tweetbot is a third-party Twitter client by TapBots that’s optimised specifically for retina screens, offering a similar interface to the official client, but with some additional options; and with a much sharper, clearer overall look. Currently in alpha (meaning it may not work solidly all of the time yet), the app is already proving to be a popular replacement to the official Twitter client at this time. Want it? Get it at [Tapbots]!

    Thanks, Lone!


    American IT Pro Shoots Daughter’s Laptop for Facebook Rudeness

    If someone you knew well posted a really rude comment to you on Facebook, how would you react? Block them? Send them an email complaint? Confront them directly about it face-to-face? Whatever you’d do, I doubt you’d react anything like THIS guy:

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Google Buzzing No More

    In a move that will shock absolutely no-one who actually paid attention to the service in the first place, a Friday post on Google Inc.’s blog revealed that Google is finally planning to pull the plug on its ill-fated Google Buzz service.

    Buzz was a Social Networking component users could add to GMail to send status updates to their regular email correspondents and any other followers – but is more likely to remembered as a botched attempt by Google to build a strong Social Networking product of its own; and one with major privacy concerns. Buzz’s integration with GMail caused trouble when it was discovered that, after it was activated, Buzz automatically created social circles that exposed users’ most frequent GMail contacts for everyone to see. That kind of transparency didn’t go over well with people whose contact lists included secret lovers, ex-spouses, doctors and prospective employers – and despite overhauling the service to give people more control over their information, the changes came too late to placate outrage users and privacy watchdogs; and Google would later be reprimanded by the Federal Trade Commission.

    In a conference call Thursday to discuss Google’s third-quarter earnings, Page promised the company will be weaving more of the company’s products into Google+ to ensure that users get an “automagical” experience – a move that makes sense, given that the Google+ Social Network already matches a lot of Buzz’s feature set while remaining much more privacy-orientated; and has attracted more than 40 million users already. The closure of Buzz will mean that after 20-odd months of lukewarm reception, Buzz will join more than 20 other products and services that Page has closed since he replaced Eric Schmidt as CEO in April. Page says he wants to “put more wood behind fewer arrows” as Google tries to maintain its dominance of Internet search and advertising while it duels with Apple Inc. for supremacy in the increasingly important smartphone market.


    Technically Motivated launches a Twitter Feed!

    Regular Twitter users rejoice! Starting from today, you can now follow Technically Motivated at our brand new Twitter feed, @TMWeb; or search for latest tweets from us, our writers and visitors using the hashtag #TMWeb. Using the power of effective publishing solutions, our latest posts will automatically appear on the feed as they are posted, providing another way to always keep on the pulse with the latest News, Reviews, Tips, Tricks, Freebies and more. What’s more, people who regularly contribute comments to our articles and Forums may see them appear on our feed as well!

    Our website will be updated very soon to take advantage of the new Twitter feed, adding follow us links and more.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2011

    Facebook, Google Compete for Skype

    Facebook and Google are reportedly in a bidding war for Skype, which could create a communications powerhouse.

    Two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters that Skype is considering a possible purchase or joint venture between Facebook or Google. Skype, which uses voice-over-IP, or VoIP, to stream live video and audio calls, boasted 124 million users this last month alone and stands to gain even more should it agree to either deal.

    Should Skype join with Google, it gains solid backing from a deep-pocketed protector. Google, meanwhile, would gain a vast improvement over its current chat client.

    Skype is doing fine on its own, raising over $860 million in 2010, but a partnership with Google would help the company go public with a bang, eclipsing others recent IPOs like LinkedIn’s offering, an important boost for Skype as more and more tech companies flood the market.

    Skype’s video chat and desktop client would help Google compete against other tech companies. Google Talk does not support video chat like Skype, making it inferior to rival Microsoft’s online collaboration suite Lync. Furthermore, Google’s services are all online while Skype has a desktop app; if the two companies can combine these interfaces users will find it much easier and faster to communicate than ever before.

    Should Skype hook up with Facebook, it would inherit the social network’s reach, over 600 million users, and increase the flow of calls across its network. Skype would also reportedly earn between $3 to 4 billion if Facebook decided to bid for its loyalty. And the transition would be easy, as Skype users can already call their Facebook friends from the Skype desktop application; any partnership would likely make voice and video calls possible from inside Facebook as well.

    Facebook would be happy to buy Skype, sources say, as CEO Mark Zuckerburg is reportedly interested in extending its reach to voice and video calls to draw people to spend even more time chatting on the site.

    Insiders say a tie-up between Facebook and Skype would make more sense than one with Google, which already has Google Voice. Still, given their rivalry, it’s possible Google and Facebook are simply competing to prevent the other from winning a valuable asset in Skype.

    Skype and Google declined to comment. Facebook was not immediately available to comment.


    Google and Twitter give voice tweets to Egypt

    With no internet connection in the entire country, Google and Twitter have teamed up to allow the people of Egypt to talk to the world through a voice-to-tweet system. All people have to do is call one of three international phone numbers (+16504194196, +390662207294 or +97316199855) and speak their message.

    Using technology created by SayNow, a company that Google’s just bought, the voice is converted to text and tweeted with the #Egypt hash tag. Original messages can also be listened to at

    While the service should be admired, it should be pointed out that the system only allows the Egyptians to post messages, not to read them or get other information from the internet. With the internet shut down, it could be tricky for Egyptians to even be made aware of service.