Tech News

Google Photos Kills Picasa, Unix Flaw Bricks iPhones… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 15-02-2016

Google retires Picasa after 14 years, your iPhone has bad memories of the 1970s, Netflix goes all in on Amazon Web Services. the Nigerian scam no one will fall for, and jamming with Google Translate.


Google Photos Kills Picasa

Google is retiring Picasa in order to entirely focus on Google Photos. Picasa started life outside Google in 2002, allowing users to organize and edit their photos before sharing them online. Google acquired Picasa in 2004, and it rapidly grew into a very popular application.

In 2015 Google launched Google Photos, a standalone service spun out of Google+. This was seen as the natural successor to Picasa, and that’s exactly how things have played out. The Picasa desktop app will die on March 15th, with Picasa Web Albums following suit on May 1st.

Thankfully, transitioning from Picasa to Google Photos is as easy as logging into the latter, as all photos and videos have already been moved across. However, practicality doesn’t always trump nostalgia, and we’re sure there will be people mourning the end of Picasa even though there’s a ready-made replacement in the form of Google Photos Get Free Unlimited Photo Storage & More with Google Photos If you aren't using these hidden Google Photos features, you're really missing out. (Hint: There's free and unlimited photo storage!) Read More .

Unix Date Flaw Disables iPhones

Another day, another serious problem for iPhone users. Hot on the heels of Error 53, which bricks your iPhone Error 53: Is Apple Really Bricking iPhones? Does Apple have it in for customers who get their iPhones repaired by a third party, or is something more going on? Read More if and when the Home Button is repaired by someone other than Apple, comes the Unix date flaw. To be fair, this is less likely to happen to most people, and there is a way of fixing the device. However, it’s still newsworthy.

This particular problem occurs when the date on your iPhone (or iPad) is changed to January 1st, 1970. After a reboot, the iDevice ceases to function, displaying nothing but the Apple logo. Thankfully, the date resets when the battery dies (or is removed), and boots up normally afterwards. However, it’s still a major annoyance.


Of course, no one is dumb enough to do this to their own phone, but we all have friends (yes, even Apple fanboys Goodbye, Apple Fanboys: Is The Internet Falling Out Of Love With Cupertino? Recent headlines make us wonder: is Apple finally losing its sheen? Are the fanboys disappearing? Read More ), some of whom like to play pranks. There’s also a risk (albeit a small one) that someone, somewhere will prank a larger group of users by spoofing an NTP (Network Time Protocol) update.

So, why January 1st, 1970? Because that’s the first day of the Unix epoch, and any Unix-like system works on the basis of the number of seconds that have passed since then. As explained by Ars Technica, this is stored as a 32-bit number, which is why 64-bit iPhones and iPads are struggling to cope.

Netflix Relies on Amazon

Netflix is now completely reliant on Amazon, having moved all of its customer-facing services to Amazon Web Services (AWS) 4 Great Uses for Amazon's S3 Web Services Despite Amazon being most well known for their retail services, they actually offer a host of web services for developers and home users that take advantage of Amazons experience and scalability with massive amounts of... Read More . It has been a long road to get to this point, with Netflix beginning its epic journey to the cloud in 2008, but as of January 2016, the streaming company completed the move, and “shut down the last remaining data center bits” it was using.

For those interested, Yuri Izrailevsky, Netflix’ VP of cloud and platform engineering, has written an extensive blog post detailing the move. However, the most interesting part for us is Netflix relying on a company it’s actually competing with. Amazon Prime Video is a direct competitor to Netflix Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? It has been years since we've compared heavy-hitting streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And with changes in pricing, content, quality, and interface, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Read More , and Amazon would benefit from Netflix experiencing “problems”. Which must surely constitute as a serious conflict of interests.


The Worst Nigerian Scam of All Time


Nigerian scams, also known as the advance-fee scam or 419 scam, have been around almost as long as the Internet. Essentially they involve an email promising a big cash reward for helping someone out; the caveat being the need to send money in the other direction first. Suffice to say, the money only ever travels in one direction, and the promised payout never arrives.

Shockingly, people still fall for this scam. However, we don’t think anyone would be dumb enough to fall for the latest one. This particular Nigerian scam, as discovered by Anorak, suggests there’s a Nigerian astronaut who has been stuck on a secret Russian space station since 1990. He has earned $15 million since then, but to get to that loot we first need to bring him home.

It’s a truly ridiculous story that anyone in their right mind would immediately dismiss as fantastical claptrap. It also bears some resemblance to The Martian, the serially published book that became a movie starring Matt Damon. But it’s not true, and nor was The Martian. So if you receive this email immediately send it to your trashcan while laughing hysterically.


Google Translate Meets Bass Guitar

And finally, an Italian funk bassist, who goes by the name of Davie504 on YouTube, has created an awesome song with a little help from Google Translate 10 Uses Of Google Translate To Cross The Great Language Divide Language is such a cultural totem that its translation doesn’t cover all the corners. When we talk of machine translation, the name without surprises that comes to mind is of Google Translate. Perhaps, most of... Read More . The audio playback of various numbers and odd combinations of letters provides a simple framework for the bass guitar licks.

Of course, it’s this guy’s bass guitar-playing skills How Rocksmith Can Help You Play Guitar Like a Pro It doesn't matter how long you've been playing the guitar for, you can always get better. Here's how Rocksmith can help even the most experienced players improve their skills. Read More which really makes this video, but Google Translate definitely helps things along. So much so that this could be the start of a new genre. Hell, if hard drives can be used to make music Making Music With Tech Hardware - 8 Great YouTube Videos We've already seen a list of the best music videos featuring floppy disk drives, and now it's time to broaden our horizons a little and bring more tech hardware into the mix. It's amazing the... Read More , surely any piece of technology can. [H/T Reddit]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Are you sorry to see the end of Picasa? How tempted are you to set your iPhone back to 1970? Is Netflix asking for trouble by relying on Amazon? Have you ever seen a more ridiculous Nigerian scam? What’s the most fun you have had with Google Translate?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.


Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Related topics: Amazon, Google Picasa, Google Translate, iPhone, Netflix, Scams, Unix.

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  1. JeanneS
    February 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    My teen son fell for UNIX date prank. He: I set my phone to UNIX time start and now it's dead. Me: What did you do THAT for? He: I saw it in Reddit. Resetting the phone worked for us -- I didn't know the battery trick.

  2. Charles Mohapel
    February 16, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Once Picasa became known as Google Photo, each and every new update was MORE USER *UNFRIENDLY* and finding older photo albums became progressively more difficult. The F*cking Pencil-Necked Geeks Writing this $hit Code should be rounded up, dressed in Neon Red t-shirts with Concentric White Circles on Front and Back, then dropped on Daesh for Target Practice.

  3. Jonathan P
    February 16, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    I'm sad to see Picasa killed off, with the Hello program (an add on for Picasa) it was the Orginal "Share" widget, that allowed me to effortlessly send pictures of the kids to the Grandparents, with out having to upload to FB, etc and select who could view. Granted it is much simpler to share today than it was 6-8 years ago. Also, I don't necessarily want to backup every single photo to the cloud. Some I want to keep on my phone or desktop. Picasa is more powerful than paint and far faster and simpler than PS or Gimp for 99% of editing, cropping, color light correction. Also if yoi ever want to find every photo, pic on your drive or memory card its hard to beat and delete or move. It was also simpler to upload selected photos to google drive / picasa web. I do wish they had a cloud type program like dropbox, or "photos" that would automatically archive or upload to my home desktop or a local computer, docs and photos etc, whenever I'm connected to wifi and charging my phone. That would be a winner for me. I still dont want all my files stored in the cloud. Period.

    • Anonymous
      February 17, 2016 at 4:18 am

      I've discovered a little image editing program called Pinta. Works pretty well for the tasks you mentioned without having all the features you probably don't need for just some light editing. It's lightweight and available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Oh, and it's free.

  4. Manu Herbstein
    February 16, 2016 at 10:36 am

    At least two fine Nigerian novels address the 419 scam: Chuma Nwokolo's Diaries of a Dead African and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's I Do Not Come To You By Chance

  5. Andrew
    February 16, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Google Photos has its own logo, so why use the Google+ logo for this article? Especially the OLD Google+ logo.

    • Dave Parrack
      February 16, 2016 at 7:40 am

      It was one we had in our vaults. If you think about it Google+ eventually led to Picasa being shuttered, so I believe it works.

  6. Leo
    February 16, 2016 at 12:59 am

    That Nigerian scam goes back to 2004...

    • Dave Parrack
      February 16, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Ha, OK, that's interesting. So either it's not used very often, or most of us never see these things thanks to better email filtering.

  7. Leah
    February 16, 2016 at 12:49 am

    It's the Y2K bug all over again. ;)

    • Dave Parrack
      February 16, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Yes! Except this one actually does something.

  8. John P.
    February 15, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    @Dave Parrack...not to be forgotten, the sub-title also says "Unix Date Flaw Disables iPhones" which again plainly states Unix Date Flaw when in fact it is **not** a Unix Flaw.

    Perhaps we need a refresher in English as a written language or maybe The basic tenets of journalism 101?

    • Dave Parrack
      February 16, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Perhaps you need a refresher in how not to be rude to people online. I can take criticism, and you're welcome to disagree with my choice of wording for that headline. However, suggesting that means I somehow need to go back to school is a bit unnecessary.

      • John P
        February 16, 2016 at 8:05 am

        Sensitive much? You said that you didn't claim it was a Unix flaw yet the article did so, twice. If you'd bothered to look up the tenets of journalism, you would have learned that the first one is "Truth and Accuracy"

        Since the article said Unix Flaw (twice) yet you denied ever having said so ("Nowhere have I said this is a flaw in Unix...") either your fact checking or proofreading needs a refresher.

        I was not rude. Rather I was truthful and accurate. You may also want to look into tenet #5: Accountability. Trying to deny what is plainly stated in the article vs admitting the obvious flaw in your response would have gone over much better
        e.g. It's true that the title(s) may have been incorrectly worded however the article provides specific clarification that it is an iOS not Unix flaw. Chalk it up to a whoops in editorial click baiting. We'll try to improve in the future.

        Then again, personalizing your and calling out a "client" may also be worthy of a second look for future.

        • Dave Parrack
          February 16, 2016 at 1:07 pm

          I'm not a sensitive soul in the slightest, but telling someone who writes online for a living they need "a refresher in English as a written language or maybe The basic tenets of journalism 101" is, in my opinion, a bit shitty.

          You're entitled to your opinion though, as am I. I acknowledge the headline could have been worded slightly better, but that doesn't mean I'm suddenly a hack.

          You're not a client, you're a reader, and it's absolutely up to you whether you read TND in the future.

        • Anonymous
          February 16, 2016 at 2:08 pm

          Dave, there is "clientele" like John P in every industry...I see them quite often in the automotive parts industry. And like my boss has told me many're not paid to take their B-S. He doesn't use initials though lol.

          Customers are only always right unless their wrong. If they're not even customers...well...sometimes they're just trolls.

          Keep up the great work. I always enjoy your articles, and I'm intelligent enough to understand a terminology slip-up can happen to the best.

  9. Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    Definitely mourning the loss of Picasa as it does so much more than Google Photos.

    When will Google Photos catch up and add the things we use all the time?

    Or stop screwing up my online collections?

    • Shooter
      February 16, 2016 at 3:23 am

      I agree with you. Also "However, practicality doesn’t always trump nostalgia, and we’re sure there will be people mourning the end of Picasa even though there’s a ready-made replacement in the form of Google Photos." Picasa on the desktop doesn't share your pics with Google!

    • Anonymous
      February 16, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      As I scurried to look at Photos again, since all I ever use for categorizing my photos is Picasa, I WAS encouraged to note that there are some sharing and organizational options available now that I don't recall being there before (hence, my Picasa devotion).

      Processes still seem to take somewhat more effort than with the desktop Picasa though.

  10. John P.
    February 15, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    @Dave Parrack... I agree with @likefun bubtnot. The actual headline reads (and I quote/cut-n-paste): " Unix Flaw Bricks iPhones" Seems to me thats, at the very least, insinuating that Unix is somehow to blame.

    It should be changed to sat something like "iOS flaw bricks iPhones" then go on to explain that iOS is based on Unix and the programmers messed up.

  11. Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    I'm with you @Katherine Wood. I love Picasa and have no desire to have *all* my photos online and in Google's hands. I love me some Google ecosystem, but I don't see any reason why I can't keep most of my photos to myself (and my huge hard drive) and pick-and-choose which to share and/or store online.

  12. Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    They can pry Picasa from my cold dead hands (or desktop). It can do so many things that Google photos can't and it's easy and simple. Plus I don't have to have an internet connection to use it. I don't understand why Picasa and Photos can't coexist, as they really serve different purposes, in my opinion.

    • Anonymous
      February 16, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      "I don’t understand why Picasa and Photos can’t coexist, as they really serve different purposes, in my opinion."
      Because Google does not want any competition for a product/service they developed? Google is acting like Microsoft - Embrace (buy Picassa), Enhance (update Picassa), Extinguish (kill Picassa).

  13. Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    @Dave Parrack,

    Your headline suggests otherwise.

  14. Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    It's incorrect to say that the number of seconds since January 1st, 1970 represents a "flaw" in UNIX. It is correct to say that iOS programmers should have been aware of and tested for the outcome of encountering a device with its time completely unconfigured or deliberately set to its base value. The problem is entirely Apple's. I believe this headline should be corrected to reflect that.

    I use, like and recommend Picasa as desktop software. It's free and works better than the system image viewers on Windows and OSX and in the past I have appreciated the fact that it can connect directly to a Google account. I'm sorry to see it go.

    • Dave Parrack
      February 15, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Nowhere have I said this is a flaw in Unix. It's how it works. The headline and subsequent story refer to the "Unix date flaw" as what is happening specifically to iPhones. You're right, it is all Apple's fault.

    • John P.
      February 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      You may want to consider Irfanview instead? It’s free and works better than the system image viewers on Windows.

      • Anonymous
        February 16, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        @John P,
        I've never liked IrfanView's UI. I use Xnview for some purposes on Windows, but for the simple task of organizing personal photos I really do think Picasa is a fantastic tool, especially with its ability to recognize faces and easily tag images with metadata.