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Facebook enhances birthday celebrations in new update
by Paul Hill
For most Facebook users, one of the only times when a user’s profile page gets any attention from the majority of their friends is on their birthday, assuming they’ve told Facebook when their birthday is. Facebook is now enhancing the birthday experience past text-based well wishes by introducing birthday videos and the ability to fundraise for nonprofits in order to celebrate your birthday.
In its announcement, Facebook wrote:
The first new feature is the ability to raise money for your favourite nonprofit. This feature will only be available for users in the United States for the time being. Two weeks prior to your birthday, Facebook will send you a message in your News Feed asking if you want to run a fundraiser for your birthday. You’ll be able to choose from 750,000 nonprofits that your birthday well-wishers will be invited to donate to – rather than giving you money for your birthday.
The second new feature is birthday videos. With shareable birthday videos you can send one to your friend as a present and they’ll be able to see it on their birthday. Facebook hopes this will make your birthday message stand out.
What do you think about the new additions, will you use the new tools to enhance the birthday experience online?
By Michael Firth
Happy Birthday: Windows 3.1 is 25 years old
by Michael Firth
Forget what you know about Windows for a moment. The start menu doesn't exist, 16-bit is all the rage, but 32-bit is coming, and the taskbar is nowhere to be seen. Your computers UI is almost entirely devoid of color, and MS-DOS is actually running the computer in the background.
Welcome to Windows 3.1, or more specifically, its 25th anniversary.
It might seem odd to celebrate the anniversary of an old piece of software, but 25 years is a long time, and for every person who remembers Windows 3.1 with fondness, there'll be someone else who has no idea that Windows 3.1 even existed.
In its first ever TV advertising campaign debuted in March 1992, Microsoft showed off the next version of its desktop operating system, Windows 3.1, by highlighting how easy it was to use.
One month later, on April 6, it officially launched Windows 3.1, the predecessor to Windows 95. Lacking the start menu and task bar we now rely upon, the OS was bundled with a limited set of applications that included Internet Explorer 2, and you installed it using six floppy disks. A CD version was also made available and it was Microsoft's first operating system to be made available on CD-ROM.
A KB article, still available on Microsoft.com, which was was last updated in November 2006, lists the new features available in Windows 3.1 over Windows 3.0. Highlights include defining features like a brand-new 'drag and drop' ability within file manager, context aware help articles triggered by pressing the F1 key and the introduction of 'Quick format' for getting your floppy disks formatted more quickly than ever.
After 25 years, Windows is a thriving operating system which has touched the desktop, portable, server, media, mobile and more recently cloud platforms.
Happy Birthday Windows 3.1 - and thanks.
Images: Screenshot via Wikipedia, Bill Gates via BT, video via YouTube
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft's Windows Insider Program turns two years old
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft kicked off its Windows Insider Program exactly two years ago as a part of its new approach to receive feedback in real-time during the development process of its OS. The program allows members to download Windows 10 builds in an effort to iron out any bugs before they are released to the public. Today, this program turns two years old.
It is interesting to note that before the program began, Microsoft expected around 250,000 testers in the preview pool, and 400,000 at max. Last year, former Windows Insider head Gabe Aul stated that never "in our wildest dreams" had the company expected to exceed the number. While Microsoft hasn't announced the latest statistics as of yet, there were a reported 7 million Windows Insiders back in September 2015.
The system developed for the Insider Program has allowed Microsoft to roll out new builds much faster than ever before - not just to testers around the world, but also to its own employees. Previously, it would take "around 30 to 60 days" to get OS previews out to the full range of employees testing Windows builds within the company; now, using the deployment methods created for the Insider Program, this process typically takes only two to three days. All of this extra speed means that far more builds can be compiled and tested, helping to make the development process much faster and more efficient.
It's also very interesting to note that initially, the program was meant to offer a dry 'corporate' interaction between Microsoft ant its community of testers, but seeing the excitement shown by Insiders, this plan changed as well. Currently, the Windows Insider Program is spearheaded by Dona Sarkar, who replaced Gabe Aul earlier this year.
Source and image: @JenMsft (Twitter)
Google celebrates 18th birthday with a doodle and new announcements
by Shreyas Gandhe
Today marks the 18th birthday of the world's largest search engine, Google. The company has put up a special Doodle, as it does for most significant events and also made a few announcements earlier in the day.
According to Google's own records, the company's founders filed for incorporation on September 4, 1998. However, 27th September was chosen as its birthday some time ago. To mark this occasion, the search giant put out an animated Doodle featuring the letter G creating the remaining letters from the word "Google" using a balloon.
Earlier today the search giant held an event in India where it announced products targeted towards the developing nation, some of which will also be made available in more markets. The main announcements from the event were as follows:
Google Station - Free Wi-Fi hotspots in partnership with local ISPs, organizations and venue owners YouTube Go - App for offline video viewing and sharing Hindi language support for Google Assistant - The newly introduced Assistant from Google's Allo messenger will be able to understand Hindi conversations Chrome Data Saver for even slower networks - Chrome will be able to perform much better on slow 2G networks in the country and other developing markets. The change will include both mobile and desktop versions of the browser. Google Play wait for Wi-Fi feature - Google Play Store will receive the ability to queue up downloads until Wi-Fi is available to prevent unnecessary downloads over slow networks. Lite mode for News & Weather app - The Google News & Weather app will be optimized for slow networks and provide essential information to the users India is one of the key markets for Google, where it aims to get its next billion users, and the company chose its 18th birthday to make some interesting announcements in the country. It remains to be seen whether it has something else up its sleeve for the rest of the day.
By Vlad Dudau
Facebook Messenger gets a big update with a new design and a Home page
by Vlad Dudau
Facebook’s Messenger has become more or less ubiquitous, especially as the company is forcing users out of its main app and into its secondary offerings. And today Facebook Messenger is getting a big redesign, with a new UI and homepage.
The company claims that chat apps have been more or less stagnant recently, with many of them looking very similar and offering almost the exact same functionality. That’s why Facebook is introducing a new homepage for its Messenger apps, as well as “modules” for extra functionality.
Once you update to the latest version, you’ll be greeted by Messenger’s new Home page, which Facebook will populate with your favorite contacts, people online now, friends’ birthdays and a few other functions. On top of that, Facebook says:
Facebook has been trying to push its apps and garner more users to its services. Recently it updated its Android app to be able to handle all our SMS needs, while also hiding a new soccer mini-game inside of its platform. There’s no doubt the company will continue to add services and “modules” to its app going forward.