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Published: Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:57:28 -0800

Last Build Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:57:28 -0800

 



Microsoft Store has slashed the Asus ZenBook Flip's price by $200

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:30:00 -0800

If all you need is a portable laptop that’ll easily handle streaming video, browsing the web, and chatting on Skype, you’re in luck. Right now, the Microsoft Store is offering the 256GB version of the Asus ZenBook Flip for just $500.

This price matches the lowest we’ve seen for this 13.3-inch 2-in-1 convertible, and currently undercuts third-party sellers on Newegg and Amazon (who offer this same model for $575) as well as Asus’ own store ($600).In addition to the $200 savings, you get the Microsoft Store Signature Edition of the Flip: meaning very little, if any, preinstalled bloatware. 

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This week in games: Play Prey as a toilet paper roll, install Doom on a Porsche, and more

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0800

We already wrote about it earlier this week but here’s a reminder: The Ghost Recon Wildlands demo marketing stunt open beta runs this weekend, so if you’re bored on Saturday and want to give the game a spin before plunking down $60, now’s your chance.

What else happened this week? Overwatch teased a new hero, Battlefield 1 teased a new...something, Prey showed off its toilet paper physics, Humble decided to sell a billion hours of Civilization for $15, and someone installed Doom on a Porsche 911. Sort-of.

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Google discloses unpatched IE vulnerability after Patch Tuesday delay

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:44:56 -0800

Google's Project Zero team has disclosed a potential arbitrary code execution vulnerability in Internet Explorer because Microsoft has not acted within Google's 90-day disclosure deadline.

This is the second flaw in Microsoft products made public by Google Project Zero since the Redmond giant decided to skip this month's Patch Tuesday and postpone its previously planned security fixes until March.

Microsoft blamed the unprecedented decision to push back scheduled security updates by a month on a "last minute issue" that could have had an impact on customers, but the company hasn't clarified the nature of the problem.

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FCC puts the brakes on ISP privacy rules it just passed in October

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:43:55 -0800

The new chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will seek a stay on privacy rules for broadband providers that the agency just passed in October.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will ask for either a full commission vote on the stay before parts of the rules take effect next Thursday or he will instruct FCC staff to delay part of the rules pending a commission vote, a spokesman said Friday.

The rules, passed when the FCC had a Democratic majority, require broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details, with third parties. Without the stay, the opt-in requirements were scheduled to take effect next week.

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Serious Cloudflare bug revealed secret user data from major websites

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:57:00 -0800

For months, a bug in Cloudflare’s content optimization systems exposed sensitive information sent by users to websites that use the company’s content delivery network. The data included passwords, session cookies, authentication tokens and even private messages.

Cloudflare acts as a reverse proxy for millions of websites, including those of major internet services and Fortune 500 companies, for which it provides security and content optimization services behind the scenes. As part of that process, the company’s systems modify HTML pages as they pass through its servers in order to rewrite HTTP links to HTTPS, hide certain content from bots, obfuscate email addresses, enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and more.

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Zenimax wants to block Oculus Rift headset sales, Gear VR games

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:48:00 -0800

The lawsuit is over, but the ongoing saga between ZeniMax and Facebook-owned Oculus VR just got even more serious.

After winning a $500 million judgement against Oculus in early February, Zenimax is now asking to block Oculus from using any Zenimax code in Oculus products, Reuters reports. The request is part of Zenimax’s proposed judgement and final injunction for the recently decided case.

In the court case, Zenimax was awarded $500 million for a variety of issues: $200 million for violating a non-disclosure agreement, $50 million for copyright infringement, and a combined $250 million against three former and current Oculus employees for false designation of origin. The request to halt sales of Oculus products relies on the copyright infringement decision.

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LG puts a massive battery in the X Power2, but not much else

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:46:00 -0800

LG will be showing its new G6 flagship phone at Mobile World Congress next week, but that's not the only handset the company is bringing to Barcelona. Joining it will be an update to the X Power, the X Power 2. Like its predecessor, the second-gen X Power's X-factor is battery life.

Part of a new line of affordable phones that “incorporates different exclusive features that are usually found only in premium smartphones,” the LG X Power 2 features a massive 4,500mAh battery that will easily get users through a full day of heavy use. LG estimates that the phone “can play back videos continuously for approximately 15 hours, provide navigational directions for about 14 hours or surf the web for around 18 hours.” And if that’s still not enough juice, it features high-speed charging that can provide 50 percent battery life after being plugged in for an hour.

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35% off Razor Hovertrax 2.0 Hoverboard Self-Balancing Smart Scooter - Deal Alert

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:32:00 -0800

Step on the deck and go with Razor Hovertrax 2.0, the world’s smartest self-balancing electric scooter. Intelligently-engineered with EverBalance technology, Hovertrax 2.0 is the only board that auto-levels for a safer, easier mount and a smoother ride. Whether you’re coasting, racing, or commuting, Hovertrax 2.0 is always in balance. Indoors or out, Hovertrax 2.0 does the work so you can enjoy the journey. Hovertrax 2.0: technology so advanced, it’s simple. Once you learn how to ride, it becomes second nature.  Razor was also the first U.S. brand to receive the UL 2272 listing for safety, ensuring that the Hovertrax 2.0 meets or exceeds the highest fire and electrical safety standards. The HoverTrax 2.0 has a list price of $459.99 has been reduced 35% to just $298. See this deal on Amazon.

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Google rebrands Messenger as Android Messages in a move toward a universal texting app

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:50:00 -0800

If you fired up your Google Messenger app this morning, you might have noticed something different: It’s now called Android Messages. And while the new name doesn’t actually change anything about the way we use it, it could lead to big things down the road.

Amir Sarhangi, head of Rich Communication Services at Google, explained in a blog post that the new name is a step toward finally creating a default universal messaging app on Android. As it currently stands, the app formerly known as Messenger comes preloaded on Pixel and Nexus devices and some others, but for the most part, the messaging experience on Android is even more fractured than the OS itself. Many manufacturers ship their own default SMS/MMS app, and most users end up turning to WhatsApp, Allo, or Hangouts for their texting needs.

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The United Nations steps in to define 5G, ending a marketing war

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:20:00 -0800

With mobile operators’ marketing departments already throwing around claims about their 5G services, the United Nations is weighing in with its definition of what qualifies a network as next-generation.

Verizon Wireless will begin delivering “5G” service to select users in 11 U.S. cities in mid-2017, even though some places don’t yet have access to 4G. And at the Mobile World Congress 2017 trade show in Barcelona, companies including Intel, Qualcomm and Ericsson will be promoting their moves towards 5G.

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Google snafu signs users out of accounts, wreaks havoc on OnHub and Wifi routers

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0800

The good thing and the bad thing about the cloud is, well, the cloud. The latter part of that trueism was brought home late Thursday when some Google users were suddenly signed out of their accounts and devices.

The problem affected Google Wifi mesh routers, Google’s OnHub router, other devices like the Chromecast, and even some plain old Google Accounts.

The impact on you at home: If this problem affected you last night and you were suddenly signed out of all your accounts, don’t worry. Malcious hackers hadn’t suddenly taken over all your devices. Google says it was just a snafu with the Google Account engine.

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34% off TurboTax Deluxe 2016 Tax Software Federal & State - Deal Alert

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 05:50:00 -0800


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Three steps to make managing passwords easier

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 05:00:00 -0800

Passwords are a necessary inconvenience. Yes, they’re a pain to create and manage, but vital for keeping your accounts and devices secure. It might seem we’re approaching the death of the password with the rise of biometric authentication and other such tech; but no single security method is foolproof. For the foreseeable future, expect to rely on a combination of techniques, including passwords.

And, really, passwords don’t have to be a pain. In fact, managing your passwords can be downright easy, or at least easier than you think.

Create strong passwords

There are a number of suggestions for how to create passwords, but the basic idea is that it be hard to guess. To be clear, we’re not trying to keep your neighbor from guessing it, but a computer running through dictionaries of common passwords.

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Alphabet's Waymo raises stakes in self-driving car race with Uber lawsuit

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 04:41:00 -0800

The road to develop self-driving cars might be paved with lawsuits. Waymo, a spin-off from Google’s self-driving car initiative, is suing Uber for allegedly stealing its trade secrets. 

On Thursday, it filed a lawsuit against Uber and its startup Otto—a self-driving trucking company—claiming that the two companies were using stolen intellectual property from Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary.

The lawsuit underscores the fierce competition in the self-driving industry and how the battle might escalate. By lifting the technology, Uber has allegedly built its own comparable LiDAR system within nine months, when Waymo had been developing the tech for nearly seven years, the company alleged.

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How to easily keep your cloud files private with Rclone

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 03:30:00 -0800

When cloud storage services first came on the scene, personal data security wasn’t a common feature. Even now, as concern over data privacy has grown, many cloud storage services don’t encrypt the user’s data by default. It’s largely up to the user to take the initiative and enable settings that ensure files are encrypted and private, which can be tedious. Believe it or not, a little command-line program called Rclone simplifies things. It’s available for Linux and other open-source OSes, as well as Windows and OS X.

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Cerise Circular review: This Mac Pro wannabe gets sidetracked by gaming

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 03:00:00 -0800

Cerise’s Circular computer wants to be like Apple’s Mac Pro. The company, which primarily makes Windows PCs for digital content creators, has brought the same cylindrical “hot air rises” concept to a system that’s hand-built by one person, using a custom-designed, Mac Pro-like case that’s made in the United States. Cerise’s business model makes the Circular computer pretty unique, and pretty expensive—our test unit cost $3,339.

The puzzler is the specific configuration we tested. There’s nothing wrong with it—it’s just more like a gaming PC than a Mac Pro killer (unless you opt for a version with more powerful Xeon or Broadwell-E parts). Viewed from the obsessive bang-for-buck perspective of gaming builds, the Circular’s boutique pricing becomes a liability.

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Snubbed by the Oscars

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 03:00:00 -0800

The Oscars are nearly here (February 26, to be precise), and maybe you’re excited about seeing all the nominated films, or maybe you’re tired of the hubbub and craving something less hyped. Several such excellent-but-underrated movies are now streaming this week.

There’s also a cadre of movies that feature action and violence and even zombies that would never be nominated. And there’s a documentary filled with controversy, and a movie that received several nominations at its time but failed to nab the big prize (to the chagrin of many).

Enjoy the Oscars, or don’t, but enjoy these movies and others regardless!

Imperial Dreams (Netflix)

(image) Courtesy of Netflix

★★★★☆

Though it features Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega, Imperial Dreams (2014) is not a prequel about his character Finn joining the ranks of the imperial stormtroopers. Rather, this movie was the talk of the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, yet was sadly left behind as distributors stumbled over how to market it. Thankfully Netflix stepped up and has given it a 2017 streaming release, and it’s very much worth seeing. Like the recent Moonlight, Malik Vitthal’s Imperial Dreams is a heartbreaking, sympathetic urban drama, filled with passages of beautiful sadness. Boyega stars as Bambi, who has just been released from prison and returns to his tough Watts neighborhood. He has published a short story in McSweeney’s magazine, dreams of being a writer, and hopes to get his young son Day (played by twins Justin and Ethan Coach) out of the ‘hood.

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US probe of drone collisions with aircraft points to birds

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 23:05:38 -0800

Investigations into reported collisions by drones with civil aircraft found that they were caused instead by birds, wires and posts, or structural failures unrelated to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), a U.S. regulator said.

There has been widespread concern about the risks that the flying of drones close to aircraft can pose, and the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that reports of “possible” drone sightings to FAA air traffic facilities continued to increase in fiscal year 2016.

There were 1,274 such reports of drone sightings from February through September last year, compared with 874 for the same period in 2015, the FAA said in a statement. Some of these sightings could have also been of birds mistaken for drones, according to analysts.

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Stop using SHA1 encryption: It’s now completely unsafe, Google proves

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:43:00 -0800

Security researchers have achieved the first real-world collision attack against the SHA-1 hash function, producing two different PDF files with the same SHA-1 signature. This shows that the algorithm's use for security-sensitive functions should be discontinued as soon as possible.

SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1) dates back to 1995 and has been known to be vulnerable to theoretical attacks since 2005. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has banned the use of SHA-1 by U.S. federal agencies since 2010, and digital certificate authorities have not been allowed to issue SHA-1-signed certificates since Jan. 1, 2016, although some exemptions have been made.

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Google's new AI aims to end abusive online comments using 'Perspective'

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:09:00 -0800

The internet is a tough place to have a conversation. Abuse has driven celebrities and ordinary folks from social media platforms that are ill-equipped to deal with it, and some publishers have switched off comment sections.

That’s why Google and Jigsaw (an early stage incubator at Google parent company Alphabet) are working on a project called Perspective. It uses artificial intelligence to try to identify toxic comments, with an aim of reducing them. The Perspective API released Thursday will provide developers with a score of how likely users are to perceive a comment as toxic. 

In turn, that score could be used to develop features like automatic post filtering or to provide users with feedback about what they're writing before they submit it for publication. Starting on Thursday, developers can request access to Perspective's API for use in projects they're working on, and Jigsaw will approve them on a rolling basis.

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50% off Dell UltraSharp U3415W PXF79 34-Inch Curved LED-Lit Monitor - DealAlert

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:29:00 -0800

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5G technology promises to help autonomous cars cruise streets safely

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:25:00 -0800

Years from now, your first autonomous car may have a lot of help from 5G wireless networks to navigate the streets safely.

5G will be as important to autonomous cars as 4G has been to mobile phones. The technology will help cars change lanes, recognize signals and draw up accurate maps. 5G will also help vehicles communicate in order to scope out road and weather conditions.

For collision avoidance, 5G will connect cars to cloud services for object recognition. It will also provide a constant link to  live TV for backseat passengers to enjoy. Many 5G capabilities for autonomous cars will be on display at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, where Intel and Qualcomm will be showing off their latest technologies.

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Telefonica-Sigfox deal is a big win for diverse IoT networks

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:09:30 -0800

The global partnership announced Wednesday between Telefonica and IoT specialist Sigfox could ensure the latter’s long-term success while accelerating the overall growth of LPWANs (low-power, wide-area networks).

Telefonica said it will integrate Sigfox’s energy-sipping, low-data-rate radios into millions of devices used for things like smart metering and asset tracking. The Spain-based mobile carrier operates in 21 countries across Europe and Latin America, so the deal should significantly expand Sigfox’s footprint. It’s talking with customers about possible large-scale rollouts across both regions, including Spain, Germany, Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil.

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This Asus ROG gaming laptop just dropped to $1,500 on Newegg

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:23:00 -0800

It’s Thursday, February 23, 2017 and until one minute before midnight tonight Pacific time, Newegg has a pretty good sale on PCs, monitors, and printers. There are a number of deals available, but what caught our eye was an Asus ROG G752 gaming laptop with all the trimmings for $1,500.

The ASUS ROG G752VY-DH72 features a 17.3-inch IPS display with 1080p resolution, a quad-core 2.6GHz Intel “Skylake” Core i7-6700HQ with HyperThreading, and 32GB RAM. If you need more RAM, this laptop supports up to 64GB worth of memory across four slots. For storage, there’s a 1TB hard drive and a 256GB NVMe SSD. Graphics, meanwhile, are handled by Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980M.

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33% off NETGEAR N300 Wi-Fi Router with High Power 5dBi External Antennas - Deal Alert

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:50:00 -0800

Currently discounted 33% and selling for just $19.99, the NETGEAR N300 WiFi Router with external antennas (WNR2020) offers high-performance wireless speeds of up to 300 Mbps, and for the current price is a good consideration for the internet needs in your second home, apartment, dormitory, or as a drop-in replacement of your legacy router. It also features external 5dBi antennas for improved WiFi coverage and Push 'N' Connect for easy WiFi connections. The scheduled WiFi on/off button allows for convenient power savings by scheduling times for WiFi to be turned off. It's currently rated 4 out of 5 stars from over 7,600 customers (read recent reviews here) on Amazon, where its been recently discounted 33% to a very reasonable $19.99. See the discounted N300 Wi-Fi router from Netgear on Amazon.

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FCC rolls back net neutrality ISP transparency rules

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:26:00 -0800

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to roll back some net neutrality regulations that require broadband providers to inform customers about their network management practices.

The Republican-controlled FCC on Thursday suspended the net neutrality transparency requirements for broadband providers with fewer than 250,000 subscribers. Critics called the decision anticonsumer.

The transparency rule, waived for five years in a 2-1 party-line vote Thursday, requires broadband providers to explain to customers their pricing models and fees as well as their network management practices and the impact on broadband service.

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Razer's Power Bank boosts your laptop battery while charging two smartphones

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:24:00 -0800

Gaming laptops have woefully short battery lives. It's par for the course when you're packing that much power into a portable notebook—but it's also a flaw that popular gaming hardware company Razer is taking aim at with the sleek-looking Razer Power Bank external battery.

The Power Bank is a 12,800mAh battery housed inside a black CNC aluminum case with the Razer logo on top. Razer says the Power Bank can help a Blade Stealth ultrabook stay alive for as long as 15 hours when paired with the device’s built-in battery. No Blade Stealth? No problem. The Razer Power Banks works with any laptop that relies on USB-C for power, including the Dell XPS 13, the Asus Zenbook, and—gasp!—even Apple's MacBook.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 rumor roundup: Here's everything we know so far

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:38:00 -0800

Editor’s note: This article is frequently updated to reflect the latest information available. We most recently added information about the on-screen navigation buttons, iris scanner, desktop dock, camera, and a possible launch date.

With just a couple of months to go until its unveiling, rumors are flying about the latest Samsung flagship smartphone. Presumably to be called the Galaxy S8, it carries the extra pressure of being a sort of comeback kid—Samsung’s first big announcement after the exploding Galaxy Note7 debacle.

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Eleven-year-old root flaw found and patched in the Linux kernel

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:15:00 -0800

Linux system administrators should be on the watch for kernel updates because they fix a local privilege escalation flaw that could lead to a full system compromise.

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2017-6074, is over 11 years old and was likely introduced in 2005 when the Linux kernel gained support for the Datagram Congestion Control Protocol (DCCP). It was discovered last week and was patched by the kernel developers on Friday.

The flaw can be exploited locally by using heap spraying techniques to execute arbitrary code inside the kernel, the most privileged part of the OS. Andrey Konovalov, the Google researcher who found the vulnerability, plans to publish an exploit for it a few days.

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