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WhatsApp gets rid of annual subscription fee

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WhatsApphas announced that it will axe its $1 annual subscription fee starting today. The Facebook-owned messaging service is nearing a billion users, and will start exploring alternate business models. WhatsApp failed to monetize in emerging markets due to low debit and credit card penetration, which led to the service beingoffered for free. Today's announcement reflects a change of strategy that will see the platform acting as a facilitator between businesses and customers: Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere to…

How to block a phone number on your Android phone

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After about the twentieth time that telemarketer bugs you with an “incredible deal” you’re probably ready to throw your phone out the window.
There’s a better way. With just a few steps you can banish that caller from contacting you forever. Here’s how to do it.
As a caveat, your specific dialer may look different or have some of the options placed elsewhere depending on which device you have. By and large, however, the process is pretty similar.
If it’s someone who called you recently, go to the dialer and then touch the three-dot menu button. Then touch Select. 
You can block callers through the dialer or contacts app.
Choose the offending caller and and then again touch the menu, this time choosing Add to Auto reject list. Now your phone should automatically block the number when they call again.
You can also block a caller by heading to the contacts app and making the same selection from the drop-down menu.
If you change your mind, find that same number again and choose 

8 great Google Maps tips for Android and iOS

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It's time to learn your way around the new Google Maps app. The old, somewhat clunky Google Maps interface has been replaced with a flatter, more modern look. Your favorite features are probably still there, but some now hide inside swipeable drawers or behind all-new menu buttons.
That explains why, for example, Street View doesn’t immediately appear when you search on an address, or why typing ok maps into the Maps search bar—a command that used to save the current map for offline use—now brings up a map of Oklahoma.
Never fear, though. The new Google Maps app for Android and iOS makes perfect sense once you get the hang of it, and the latest version makes it even easier to get where you’re going or see every detail in your virtual surroundings.
Read on for 8 essential tips for the new Google Maps, starting with...
1. When in doubt, swipe up (or tap) Swipe up on the address overlay to reveal ratings, hours, Street View, and more.
So, you searched on an addre…

How to delete the windows.old folder clogging up your drive

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After installing Windows 10, Roy A. Day discovered a very large Windows.old folder on his internal drive. Since deleting it the conventional way didn’t work, he asked for another solution.
The Windows 10 upgrade (which so many are enthusiastically embracing despite my warnings) leaves a huge Windows.old folder on your C: drive. On one computer I updated, it was over 25GB. And Windows won’t let you simply delete it.
There’s a very good reason why you shouldn’t. Without this folder, you will not be able to go back to Windows 7 or 8.1. Therefore, you should only remove Windows.old if one of these three situations applies to you:
You’re absolutely sure you want to stay with Windows 10.You created an image backup before the upgrade, and can therefore restore your previous installation without Windows 10’s built-in tools.It’s been more than 30 days since you made the upgrade, and Windows 10 will no longer allow you to go back.
If you meet one of those conditions, here’s how to …

Second-gen Chromecast tipped with faster Wi-Fi, Spotify support, and more

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Two new Nexus phones aren’t the only items expected at Google’s press event on September 29. Google’s also gearing up to introduce a second-generation Chromecast, according to 9to5Google.
The new streaming device is expected to come in a round shape loaded with improved Wi-Fi, a new feature called Fast Play, support for audio systems, and feed integration with the device’s main screen. That’s about where the details end, however, as specifics are in short supply.
The current Chromecast uses 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, so it sounds like the next version will support the newer 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, but that’s just speculation at this point. The Fast Play feature apparently means the next Chromecast will connect faster than the original version when you “cast” something from your mobile device.
As for the feeds, there’s no word on what this is. 9to5Google figures it means you’ll be able to integrate social media feeds when the Chromecast flips to its idle backdrop mode. Backdrop alread…

Learn which startup programs are safe to remove

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The longer you run your computer, the more clutter it accumulates. This takes the form of programs you no longer need, bloatware you never wanted in the first place, and/or adware you didn't intend to install.
The result: slow booting, slow operation, slow everything.
To improve the situation, you can uninstall unwanted, unneeded programs. And if you're a little more tech-savvy, you can venture into msconfig to prevent system-dragging software from running at startup.
Ah, but which programs are safe to uninstall and/or block? The last thing you want to do is remove some essential Windows element, which could do more harm than good.
Should I Remove It? is a free utility that helps you answer exactly that question. The program analyzes everything installed on your computer, then helps you determine what's safe to remove.
It does so by displaying both a rating for each program and a crowd-sourced removal percentage (i.e. how many "users and experts&quo…

AT&T says rogue employees secretly unlocked hundreds of thousands of phones

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AT&T said three of its employees secretly installed software on its network so a cellphone unlocking service could surreptitiously funnel hundreds of thousands of requests to its servers to remove software locks on phones.
The locks prevent phones from being used on competing networks and have been an important tool used by cellular carriers to prevent customers from jumping ship. They can be electronically removed, usually after fulfilling a contract obligation, but many websites offer the same service for a small fee with no questions asked.
AT&T’s allegations are made in a filing with U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in which it accuses two companies, four people and an unknown software developer or developers, of participating in the audacious scheme. AT&T filed its lawsuit on Sept. 11 but it was first reported by Geekwire on Friday.
The carrier first discovered something was amiss in September 2013 when a surge in the number o…