Tech Support Scams Net Billions, Amazon Bans Google & Apple… [Tech News Digest]
Windows technical support scams, Amazon bans the competition, Skype Translator spreads its wings, Amazon Flex delivers the goods, Minecraft: Story Mode, and the latest MP3 Experiment.
PC Support Scammers Are On the Rise
The classic tech support scam , which involves someone cold-calling you at home and offering to help fix your computer, is on the rise. According to Microsoft, a total of 3.3 million Americans will likely fall for the scam in 2015, paying out a total of $1.5 billion to these callous criminals.
Microsoft has revealed the shocking statistics in an effort to educate people about the scam. Most of these scams involve persuading the victim to pay large sums of money for support or taking control of their computer in order to install dodgy software.
In a blog post ahead of a discussion about con artists, the company makes it very clear that, “Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls to charge people for computer security or software fixes.” So, if you do receive one of these calls, just put the phone down.
Amazon Bans the Streaming Competition
— Brad Chacos (@BradChacos) October 1, 2015
When you head to Amazon.com you expect to be able to buy anything and everything (with the exception of illegal or controversial items). Unfortunately, this will soon no longer be the case, as Amazon is planning on stopping selling both the Google Chromecast and the Apple TV .
This is at least according to Bloomberg, which suggests these items will disappear from the shopping site at the end of this month. The reason? That depends who you believe. The official reason is incompatibility, as neither the Chromecast or the Apple TV support Amazon Prime Video :
Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime. It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion. Roku, XBOX, PlayStation and Fire TV are excellent choices.
However, anyone reading between the lines may see something else, like, for example, an attempt to excise some of the competition from the site. Because you know what does support Amazon Prime Video? The Amazon Fire TV . Naturally. This isn’t illegal but it certainly leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
Skype Translator Grows More Useful
Microsoft has updated the Skype for Windows desktop app, bringing the Skype Translator to millions more people. After extensive testing the Skype Translator is considered ready for more general use. The update will roll out over the next few weeks, so don’t panic just yet.
The first step is the addition of six voice languages — English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish — and 50 messaging languages. This means that anyone using the update Skype app on a Windows PC or tablet can enjoy instant translations between two languages.
Amazon Flex Is Uber For Delivery Drivers
the best part about amazon flex is how its stock photography leans directly into themes of dehumanization pic.twitter.com/356t9D8ah3
— hilbert's infinite airbnb (@vogon) September 29, 2015
Amazon has launched Amazon Flex, an Uber-like service which means anyone can start delivering Amazon parcels to customers. Flex has initially launched in Seattle, but will eventually roll out to New York, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Austin, Portland, and other big cities around the U.S.
The idea is that anyone over the age of 21, with a valid driver’s license, an Android phone, and the capacity to pass background checks, can deliver Amazon packages in their “local radius”. And your reward for doing so is “$18-25 per hour” for shifts ranging from two to 12 hours. Which, for those in need of some extra cash, really isn’t bad at all.
The Minecraft: Story Mode Trailer
Minecraft: Story Mode, which sees players of the fantastically popular video game embark on narrative-driven adventures, is kicking off in October. The first episode is called The Order of the Stone, and the first trailer for it is embedded above.
The Order of the Stone is just the first of five episodes. It will be launched digitally on PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, and PS4 on Oct. 15, with versions for iOS, Android, PS Vita, and the Wii U to follow. A physical version will be launched on Oct. 27.
The MP3 Experiment Turns Into a Rave
And finally, how would you react if you see thousands of people all acting strangely in a public park? Probably about as well as the people in this video, who were caught unawares by the latest MP3 Experiment from Improv Everywhere, a New York-based prank collective .
Everybody who took part downloaded the same media file and assembled in Prospect Park, New York at sunset. They then clicked Play and followed the instructions included in the file. The results are both surprising and gloriously entertaining. And it all ends with a silent rave.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Have you ever fallen for one of these tech support scams? What do you think of Amazon for banning sales of the Chromecast and Apple TV? Can you see yourself using Skype Translator? Would you ever deliver goods for Amazon as part of Amazon Flex? Will you be watching Minecraft: Story Mode?
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.
Image Credits: Jacob Botter via Flickr