Opera browser gets built-in cryptocurrency wallet

Opera has announced that its Android web browser will get a built-in cryptocurrency wallet with support for Ethereum’s Web3 API.

This means users will be able to browse the Internet as normal while interacting with blockchain-based applications such as CryptoKitties.

Users will also be able to make and receive payments using their browser’s cryptocurrency wallet.

Unlike other dApp browsers and interfaces, Opera allows users to explore decentralised applications through a familiar browser interface – without the need for extensions such as MetaMask.

Opera said its browser uses the user’s system unlock screen code as a private key, meaning there is also no need for learning new passwords.

The browser’s built-in Ethereum wallet will also support ERC20 and ERC721 tokens.

“Having a crypto wallet in the browser brings the cash experience to the world of online payments,” said Opera crypto product lead Charles Hamel.

​“Paying with the crypto wallet is like sending digital cash straight from your phone, and we’ve just made it easier.”

Opera added that it is the first major browser to interface directly with the decentralised web.

“By becoming the first major browser to open up to Web 3.0, we would like to contribute to making the Internet of the future more accessible,” said Hamel.

Android users can sign up for the beta preview of the Opera cryptocurrency wallet on the Google Play Store.

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Amazon expands in Cape Town, stepping up cloud rivalry with Microsoft

Amazon.com is expanding its presence in the emerging tech hub of Cape Town, upping the ante in its regional battle with cloud computing rival Microsoft.

Amazon will be the sole tenant in a new, modern eight-story office building that’s nearing completion in the South African city, multiple sources familiar with the project told Reuters. The company is advertising dozens of jobs in Cape Town, which played a key role in the early development of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing business.

The adverts include one for a software development engineer that says Amazon is assembling a team for a “green-field project” dealing with machine learning, big data analysis and cloud computing, which are among the fastest-growing areas in the technology industry.

The company’s expansion shows how fierce competition in the cloud business and rising demand for computing power are driving activity even in relatively undeveloped corners of the technology universe.

AWS is the global leader in cloud computing with 32% of the market, versus 16% for second-placed Microsoft in the first quarter of 2018, according to research firm Canalys. Microsoft has been growing faster.

The global cloud infrastructure services market was worth nearly $55 billion in 2017 and is expected to exceed $155 billion by 2020, Canalys said. AWS accounted for 73% of Amazon’s $1.9 billion operating profit in the first quarter, but just 11% of its revenue.

Amazon’s new Cape Town building is due for completion in August, according to a source familiar with the matter. It sits near an existing Amazon technical centre and customer support operation.

Amazon did not offer details about the new building in Cape Town, or what its function might be.

“As more South African customers and partners continue to choose AWS as their cloud provider we continue to hire more staff into our offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg,” Geoff Brown, AWS’ Sub-Saharan Africa regional manager, told Reuters in a statement.

In another sign of Amazon’s cloud-computing drive in South Africa, it is offering start-ups free cloud trials for one year, according to local entrepreneur Tumi Menyatswe – a deal that prompted her to switch to AWS from Google’s cloud.

“This allows me to focus on my business and to grow until I can pay them,” said Menyatswe, CEO of two-year-old business Minderz, which pairs pet owners with people able to look after cats and dogs during holidays.

Edge in Africa

It is difficult to measure the relative success of the big cloud-computing players in Africa, as they do not break out financial results for the continent. However, according to analysts, data centres are one measure of growth.

Despite its history on the continent, Amazon has yet to build a data centre in Africa. Microsoft, by contrast, announced last year that it was building two data centres in South Africa, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg, both due to launch later this year.

Microsoft said in a statement that the plans were on track but would not specify when the data centres would be launched in 2018.

Local data centres offer advantages, in part by reducing “latency”, or delays, in data transmission. “Closer is almost always better,” said Carl Brooks, an analyst at 451 Research.

Clifford De Wit, former chief innovation officer at Microsoft South Africa, said a local data centre was a big advantage.

“Having the actual data centre close has so many implications,” said De Wit, now chief technology officer at start-up Dexterity Digital. He cited privacy regulations that require banks and some other companies to store data locally, among other benefits.

Amazon’s Brown told Reuters that South Africa was “one of the many possibilities that we are currently looking at” globally for opening a new data centre.

He said the company launched new “Edge” locations -infrastructure that boosts transmission speeds from primary data centres outside the continent – in Johannesburg and Cape Town in the past two months. This will reduce latency for South African customers and bring other benefits, he said.

Famous for its Table Mountain and sandy beaches, Cape Town is emerging as a continental tech hub, with some 35 000 people employed in the sector, according to Wesgro, a trade and investment agency. The city boasts one of the largest publicly available fibre optic networks in Africa, local economic development officials say.

Amazon has played a key role in the city’s internet industry from the start. Two South Africans, Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon, led a small Cape Town-based team that developed the key technical underpinnings of AWS, a software architecture known as EC2, and helped build the business plan for the service.

“We knew it was going to have a large impact,” Van Biljon, who left Amazon more than a decade ago and still lives in Cape Town, told Reuters. “The rate at which the growth occurred outstripped even our best expectations.”

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Cryptocurrency Mining : Will It Damage My GPU After All?

Interest in mining cryptocurrency has skyrocketed lately. This has caused a major wave of sales of PC graphics cards, which has actually driven up the price of many mid-range cards. Mining with a GPU may even turn a profit if one has access to cheap electricity. However, this process is known to damage graphics cards and affect their longevity. People considering mining should keep these factors in mind, particularly if they plan on reselling their cards later on.


It makes a lot of sense to mine cryptocurrency with a graphics card. They are easy to come by, are not overly expensive in most cases, and can result in excellent hashpower after making some initial adjustments. In fact, the AMD Vega Frontier edition may soon mine Ethereum at 70MH/second, assuming the rumors are true. Setting up a GPU mining rig requires doing some tweaking, and getting multiple cards to mine using the same motherboard can be tricky at times.

Once a rig is up and running, most people simply leave their hardware hashing away. If needed, it will switch mining pools on its own. Most miners will hardly pay attention to the hardware itself, choosing to monitor things from a distance. That does not mean your hardware does not need checking up on, however, as it remains under a lot of stress while mining cryptocurrencies. This level of stress is often underestimated.

When you start mining cryptocurrency, your GPUs are constantly under a full load at all times, and their fans typically spin at the highest RPM. That might sound less stressful than spinning up and cooling down again, but that is not necessarily the case. Keeping GPU fans running at a constant speed at all times will serve to wear them out comparatively quickly. Even though fans are designed to spin quite a bit, their longevity is severely affected by the rate at which they are forced to run. However, not using fans while mining cryptocurrency is most definitely a bad idea.

Thermal cycling is also something to think about when mining cryptocurrency using GPUs. Although one would expect mining to entail relatively low thermal cycling, that is not the case by any means. That said, some tweaking of each card’s power limit setting may make this a trivial issue more often than not. Reapplying thermal paste on a GPU every so often does wonders to keep the card cool and avoid major damage. Note that the process should not have to be repeated too often; it can be done less than once per month.

Pushing a graphics card to its full load on a constant basis can always result in card failure. In most cases, the card would have to run at full speed for over a year for this to happen, although your mileage may vary based on the model, maker, and general condition of the card. Electronics are always prone to manufacturing issues, which often only appear after the device has been put through the proverbial wringer. That being said, there are plenty of miners who have seen their cards fail over time and even catch fire as well.

Contrary to games and other computational tasks, cryptocurrency mining runs a GPU at full capacity almost constantly. Even stress tests only keep this up for so long before they risk damaging cards. Cryptocurrency mining of any sort will stress a card to its limit for as long as it is running. Granted, most models can handle that with ease, but it will always impact the card in one way or another. Those effects may not become apparent immediately. One of my own cards worked fine for months after a year of mining altcoins and then started artifacting suddenly.

Whether or not the upcoming line of AMD and NVIDIA GPUs dedicated to cryptocurrency mining will suffer from these issues remains to be seen. There has to be a reason why these cards are better suited for the job compared to regular GPUs. So far, very few specifics have been unveiled to the public regarding these GPUs. They will be more efficient, of course, but they may also improve in other ways like handling loads better and degrading slower. As a rule, people who take good care of their GPUs will rarely encounter issues.

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WhatsApp expands file-sharing options

whatsappdocsl.jpgThe latest update to WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging app, will allow users to share any file type.
In version 2.17.40 of WhatsApp, files can be sent uncompressed. However, there will be a limit of 100MB per file.

"You can now send documents of any type. To send a document, open a chat, tap attach – document," the app details in its update description.

More than five photos shared at once will now be displayed in a gallery within the message.

Users should be aware that sending files to other users incurs data costs for the receiver.

The new update, released to iOS yesterday, also allows users to pin chats to the top of the user's contact list. This feature is accessed by swiping right on the chat and selecting the pin icon. Another update allows users to forward or delete multiple photos.The new features will be available to Android and iOS users when the WhatsApp app is updated.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp hit one billion users worldwide, and introduced an ‘Instagram Stories'-like feature, which allows users to update their status with pictures and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Rival messaging app Telegram also updated its messaging service yesterday and now lets users send ‘disappearing' media to each other. The feature was first made popular by Snapchat.

Photos and videos sent in one-on-one chats can be set to self-destruct after they have been viewed in Telegram.

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ProtonMail lauds Google's EU fine after falling victim to firm's shady search practices

protoLLL.jpgFirm says decision means no other firm will have to relive its 'nightmare scenario'

SWISS-BASED EMAIL AND VPN OUTFIT ProtonMail has welcomed the European Union's decision to fine Google a record-breaking £2.1bn over its practice of downgrading the search results of competitors, saying that it was the victim of these practices last year.

In spite of ProtonMail's growing profile and an increased interest in encrypted email in general, the company's position had dropped inexplicably in Google's page rankings throughout most of 2016, making it virtually invisible to people looking for secure email providers. The company consulted a number of SEO experts who could find nothing amiss, and no obvious reason why Google should punish the firm.

ProtonMail first became aware of the issue (which only affected Google results and not those of other search engines) in November 2015, and in spite of repeated calls on Google to check its algorithms, the problem remained until finally in August last year the firm took to Twitter to complain, after which it was fixed.

"For nearly a year, Google was hiding ProtonMail from search results for queries such as 'secure email' and 'encrypted email', wrote CEO Dr Andy Yen in his blog in October 2016. "This was highly suspicious because ProtonMail has long been the world's largest encrypted email provider."

Since Google is by far the most widely used search engine in Europe, ProtonMail's non-appearance on the first couple of pages of search results was enough to almost put it out of business, the firm claimed.

At the time, ProtonMail was reluctant to blame the search giant of deliberate sabotage, citing a lack of conclusive proof and saying that the issue could have been due to a bug. Now, however, as a result of the EU's anti-trust ruling and record-breaking fine, the gloves are off.

"As a recent victim of Google's search practices, we are glad the EU is doing more to ensure accountability and transparency in search,"  said Yen in a statement emailed to INQ. 

"In doing so, we believe the EU is taking an important step towards protecting consumers and ensuring healthy competition online."

Yen continued: "The 2016 incident where ProtonMail was dramatically lowered in Google search results illustrated vividly the dangers of an unregulated monopoly. Because of Google's dominant position in search (over 90 per cent market share in Europe), Google holds the power of life and death over large and small businesses.

"Any other industry with that level of control, such as the financial sector for example, is subject to extensive regulations, and agree with the EU that search should be no different."

Yen added: "We hope that today's landmark ruling will pave the way for further reform, such as providing a formal way to report incidents so that no other company will have to relive the nightmare scenario that ProtonMail encountered.

"The EU's ruling today shows that no company, no matter how large or influential, can escape the obligation to play fair online, and ultimately, this is a victory for consumers worldwide." µ 

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