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Published: Sat, 01 Oct 2016 08:28:34 -0700

Last Build Date: Sat, 01 Oct 2016 08:28:34 -0700

 



The Full Nerd Episode 8: Gaming laptops, 4K gaming, and a $500 PC build showdown

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:10:00 -0700

This week on The Full Nerd, Gordon Mah UngBrad Chacos, and Alaina Yee show off a pile of Pascal-based gaming laptops that don't suck. Brad then walks you through what it takes to play games at 4K and whether it's even worth it.

In Builder's Corner, there's a fierce showdown as everyone tries to outdo Brad and his $500 gaming PC build. Gordon gets the first shot with a build configuration that the crew says has a fatal flaw. You can view his build here, but remember, prices fluctuate. Meanwhile, Alaina throws shade at Brad and Gordon with her own PC config. Producer Adam Patrick Murray, meanwhile, takes an unusual and dangerous approach with his build.

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This week in games: Amazon reveals 3 games at TwitchCon, Steam Controller skins appear

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:32:00 -0700

Ah, September 30. I’d say a touch of autumn is in the air, but here in San Francisco...well, we don’t get seasons. I can only judge when it’s fall by seeing how many games are releasing.

In that case, definitely fall.

This week: A bunch o’ trailers for October’s games harvest, Amazon announces its first big-budget games, Bulletstorm might garner a remaster (and a better PC port), and Devolver hunted down Stan Bush to record a song as powerful as “The Touch.” This is gaming news for September 26 through 30.

Things that go boom in the night

In case you hadn’t heard: It’s October, and that means it’s “EA Shooter Month” in the world of video games. Battlefield is coming on October 21 and it’s got a brand-new singleplayer campaign video:

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Best Deals of the Week, September 26th - September 30th - Deal Alert

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:05:00 -0700

Best Deals of the Week, September 26th - September 30th - Deal Alert
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Check out this roundup of the best deals on gadgets, gear and other cool stuff we have found this week, the week of September 26th. All items are highly rated, and dramatically discounted.

Discounts on New Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Gen) Bundles
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Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play & control music (either on its own, or through a connected speaker/receiver), control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more. Right now Amazon is discounting 3 bundles featuring an all new Echo Dot:

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Best Bluetooth speakers

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:54:00 -0700

Last updated September 30, 2016 to include the Vava Voom 20 weatherized Bluetooth speaker. 

There was a time when Bluetooth speakers were like jelly beans: They were cheap, they all looked the same, and they were invariably of dubious quality. Times have changed. Every major audio manufacturer has at least one model on the market today, and most have several. If you haven’t listened to a Bluetooth speaker lately, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise.

But the industry’s progress doesn’t mean that every Bluetooth speaker justifies its price tag, no matter how inexpensive it might be. There’s still plenty of dreck floating around. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you steer clear of the junk and point you to the best speakers at the price range that fits your budget. To that end, we’ve picked the best Bluetooth speakers in four broad price ranges: budget, mid-range, high-end, and—yes, there are ultra-high-end Bluetooth speakers—price is no object.

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Facebook's new social network for businesses, Facebook at Work, launches Oct. 10

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:51:00 -0700

It may finally be OK to use Facebook while you're at work.

Well, it still may not be OK to post pictures from last night's party or your cat annoyingly waking up your spouse, but you may be using it to connect with your project team or your boss while she's on the road.

After spending a few years working on a social network for the enterprise, Facebook will launch Facebook at Work on Oct. 10.

The company has sent out invitations for a launch event in London.

The new enterprise effort, which is both a mobile app and a desktop service, went into a pilot test around January 2015.

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You can now use an iPhone to log into a Windows 10 PC, Microsoft says

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:47:00 -0700

Apple's iPhone isn't always a good pairing for Microsoft's Windows 10 PCs, but you'll be able to use the phone's biometric authentication features to log into PCs.

Microsoft wants to kill passwords with Windows Hello, a technology that allows users to log into PCs by fingerprint, face, iris. or pattern detection. Beyond Windows 10 devices, the feature is also coming to devices, accessories, and apps that support Windows Hello.

Apple's iPhone will be able to use such an accessory or app to log in to Windows 10. At its Ignite conference this week, Microsoft said iPhone owners can use specific RSA SecurID authenticator tools on their devices to unlock Windows 10 PCs.

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Android malware that can infiltrate corporate networks is spreading

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:10:00 -0700

An Android malware is spreading across app stores, including Google Play, and has the capability of stealing sensitive files from corporate networks.

DressCode, a family of Android malware, has been found circulating in at least 3,000 Trojanized apps, security firm Trend Micro said on Friday.

DressCode hides itself inside games, user interface themes, and phone optimization boosters. It can also be difficult to detect because the malicious coding only makes up a small portion of the overall app.

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Firefox blocks websites with vulnerable encryption keys

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:56:00 -0700

To protect users from cryptographic attacks that can compromise secure web connections, the popular Firefox browser will block access to HTTPS servers that use weak Diffie-Hellman keys.

Diffie-Hellman is a key exchange protocol that is slowly replacing the widely used RSA key agreement for the TLS  (Transport Layer Security) protocol. Unlike RSA, Diffie-Hellman can be used with TLS's ephemeral modes, which provide forward secrecy -- a property that prevents the decryption of previously captured traffic if the key is cracked at a later time.

However, in May 2015 a team of researchers devised a downgrade attack that could compromise the encryption connection between browsers and servers if those servers supported DHE_EXPORT, a version of Diffie-Hellman key exchange imposed on exported cryptographic systems by the U.S. National Security Agency in the 1990s and which limited the key size to 512 bits. In May 2015 around 7 percent of websites on the internet were vulnerable to the attack, which was dubbed LogJam.

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How to change default apps in Android Nougat

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:48:00 -0700

One of Android’s strengths is that you can choose a default app for specific actions. You can enable any third-party browser, SMS app, phone, or home screen launcher to be the default app always used for those actions.

The process for changing this has been nicely re-packaged with Android Nougat. To find these controls, go to Settings > Apps. 

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From here touch the cog to get to the default apps section.

Then, touch the cog at the top of the screen. You’ll see a section labeled Default within the Configure apps area.

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How to use two Chrome tabs in split screen mode with Android Nougat

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:54:00 -0700

One of the best features to arrive with Android Nougat is split-screen mode. But what you may have overlooked is that you can also split two Chrome tabs up as well. 

So just like on your PC, you can look at two different websites at the same time for cross-referencing articles or some general multitasking. Here’s how to make it happen.

Do the splits

First, open Chrome. Then, just like you would when using split-screen with two different apps, you’ll start by long pressing on the Recents (square) button.

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Send Chrome to one window in order to get the ball rolling.

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HTC launches Viveport, a VR app store focused on non-gaming experiences

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 07:49:00 -0700

After starting off in VR with some killer hardware, HTC's getting into VR software, too. The company recently announced the Viveport app store is now available to Vive users in more than 30 countries including the U.S. Previously, Viveport was only available in China.

Viveport's fairly small right now, with 60 titles currently available. But that's sort of the point, as HTC's app store is a more curated market focused on non-gaming VR experiences.

There are a few games to be sure, such as Cloudlands: VR Minigolf, Everest VR, Fantastic Contraption, and World of Diving. The larger focus, however, is on VR experiences such as cinemas, planetariums, guided meditation, and virtual tours. All of the games that do appear in Viveport could loosely fall into those categories as well. 

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The FCC's plan to replace your cable box with apps hits a snag

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 07:00:00 -0700

First, the Federal Communications Commission had a grand plan to blow up the set-top box and free consumers from the confines of their service provider. Then the FCC tempered that objective by asking the cable companies to create more apps. Now, the FCC has decided on the most moderate move possible: Doing absolutely nothing—at least for now.

The FCC announced on Thursday that a vote on the set-top box proposal would be removed from the September Open Meeting Agenda, after 60 House Democrats sent the commission a letter asking for a delay and more public input. Instead of having the commissioners vote on the proposal it will be placed on the FCC’s “circulation list” where it will “remain under consideration by Commissioners.”

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33% off Kinivo 5 Port HDMI Switch With Auto-Switching & Remote - Deal Alert

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 06:49:00 -0700

This highly rated splitter from Kinivo takes 5 HDMI inputs from your various devices, and outputs them to one HDMI connection. Ideal for TVs that just don't have that many HDMI inputs. 501BN will automatically switch to the currently active input source if there is only one active input. If there are multiple active inputs, you can simply select using the IR remote or using the selector button on the unit itself. Supports video up to 1080p and 3D as well. The item currently averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 9,000 customers (read reviews) and its list price of $59.99 is currently discounted 33% to $39.99.

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In pictures: How businesses are turning tech into robot toil

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 06:34:00 -0700

See how businesses are using robots to advance their trades
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Image by Martyn Williams

The RoboBusiness conference in San Jose is all about creating business advantages through the use of robotic helpers. Case in point: the Navii shopping assistant from Fellow Robotics, that can greet customers, ask them if they need help, and then guide them to the item they need. Navii will be working in 11 Lowe’s stores around the San Francisco Bay area beginning this fall.

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Ransomware spreads through weak remote desktop credentials

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 06:31:00 -0700

Stolen or weak remote desktop credentials are routinely used to infect point-of-sale systems with malware, but recently they’ve also become a common distribution method for file-encrypting ransomware.

In March, researchers discovered a ransomware program dubbed Surprise that was being installed through stolen credentials for TeamViewer, a popular remote administration tool. But the trend had started long before that, with some ransomware variants being distributed through brute-force password guessing attacks against Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers since 2015.

While this method of infection was initially used by relatively obscure ransomware programs, recently it has been adopted by an increasing number of cybercriminals, including those behind widespread ransomware programs such as Crysis.

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Could Cortana 2.0 be a chatbot? Microsoft's new AI chief hasn't ruled it out

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:30:00 -0700

Cortana has a new boss, and he has a problem: If Google’s turning its Google Now digital assistant into a chatbot, should Microsoft do the same with Cortana?

So far, the answer is a definite maybe.

In 2014, Microsoft first unveiled Cortana, the digital assistant within Windows 10. Interacting with Cortana was simple: You asked a question, she responded. In the last few months, however, Google’s Assistant has offered an alternative: a chatbot that interacts with users via an ongoing stream of text and images. 

As of Thursday, Cortana's future lies in the hands of Harry Shum, the executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s new Microsoft AI and Research Group. In an interview with PCWorld, Shum said he hasn’t ruled out adding a Cortana chatbot to its roster of digital assistants. Shum said Microsoft is also trying to figure out whether to port a successful Asian chatbot, known as XiaoIce, to the American market—while avoiding a repeat of its last, disastrous chatbot initiative, Tay.ai.

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How to watch the MLB playoffs and World Series without cable

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Major League Baseball has placed more hurdles in front of cord cutters than any of the four professional sports leagues. It has made baseball broadcasts the exclusive province of cable/satellite networks, even for your local teams. Add to that the league’s draconian blackout policies, and the prospect of watching the Grand Old Game without a pricey TV subscription seems as reachable as a Clayton Kershaw slider.

It doesn’t get much easier come October. This year's postseason games will air nationally across five networks: Fox, Fox Sports 1 (FS1), ESPN, TBS, and Major League Baseball Network (MLBN); all but the first are cable/satellite channels you can't tune into with a TV antenna. Fortunately, with some combination of over-the-air and over-the-top options, you can still watch virtually every at-bat from the Wild Card round to the World Series. Here’s how.

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Vava Voom 20 Bluetooth speaker review: Weatherized style with average sound

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Stylish design, NFC pairing, and an evocative name highlight this small outdoor Bluetooth speaker. Audio fidelity, on the other hand, doesn’t make that list. The Voom 20 sounds good. Not great, not bad, just good; albeit with an above-average amount of bass, especially for its svelte dimensions (the speaker is enclosed in an approximately 7.6-inch-long, 2.8-inch-deep, 2.4-inch-tall flattened cylinder).

That’s great if you’re looking for a small, very portable, weather-resistant bass monster. But you’ll also want to know that this speaker’s upper mid-range and high-frequencies are a tad limited. Combine that with the constrained stereo separation that’s inherent in a small standalone speaker and I found myself turning the unit to the side or playing other placement tricks so I could pick out the separate instruments.

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16 useful Windows 10 tools that help you get more done

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Getting more done
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Image by Adam Patrick Murray

None of us like wasting time when we’re trying to get stuff done. Every second spent shuffling around open windows or navigating menus is precious time not spent achieving your goals. Fortunately, Microsoft stuffed Windows with all sorts of secretly powerful tools, as we’ve covered in-depth in both 17 obscure Windows tools and tricks too powerful to overlook and 15 simple, secret Windows tips and tricks designed to save you time.

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Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 21:30:00 -0700

The Logitech C920 is a bit of an icon. For nearly five years, its broad rectangular chassis has perched atop people’s computers, a staple of any mid-to-high-level YouTuber or Twitch streamer’s arsenal. And now Logitech’s hoping its new C922 will take over the same role.

Announced today at TwitchCon in San Diego—Logitech knows its audience—the C922 packs a few new features into the C920’s familiar form factor.

Most important is background removal. This is also the lynchpin of Razer’s upcoming RealSense-powered camera, the Stargazer, and it’s set to make even hobby-grade streams look a bit more professional.

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Four state AGs sue to block US decision to cede key internet role

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:50:35 -0700

A judge in Texas has fixed for Friday the hearing in a suit filed by four state attorneys general against a decision by the U.S. to transfer by month end oversight of some key internet technical functions to a multistakeholder body.

The attorneys general of Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada and Texas filed late Wednesday a suit asking the federal court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on the proposed transfer of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

ICANN, under contract with the Department of Commerce, administers the IANA functions, which include responsibility for the coordination of the DNS (Domain Name System) root, IP addressing, and other internet protocol resources. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Commerce Department, said last month it will go ahead with its plan to transfer supervision of the IANA functions to a multistakeholder body on Oct. 1, in line with a plan first announced in March 2014.

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Salesforce tries to block Microsoft's LinkedIn acquisition

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:14:00 -0700

Microsoft made a splash earlier this year when it announced the largest acquisition in its history, signing an agreement to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. But now, Salesforce is trying to convince the European Union to block the deal. 

Salesforce Chief Legal Officer Burke Norton will argue to the EU's competition authority that Microsoft's control of LinkedIn's dataset following an acquisition would be anticompetitive. EU competition chief Margarethe Vestager said in January that her agency would be looking directly at whether a company's use of data is bad for competition, and these complaints seem aimed squarely at those comments. 

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Electric cars light up the Paris Motor Show

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 15:49:00 -0700

The soft whirring was barely audible amid the pounding music and the babble of voices at the Paris motor show on Thursday, but we’ll be hearing a whole lot more of it in the years to come.

The noise was Opel’s Ampera-e all-electric compact car, driven on stage by the company’s CEO, Karl-Thomas Neumann. The Ampera-e is the European equivalent of the Chevrolet Bolt, and will go on sale some time in the first half of next year.

The whir could equally have come from other all-electric vehicles making their debut at the Mondial de l’Automobile, though. Smart and BMW rolled out new production models, while Volkswagen and Mercedes showed striking all-electric concept cars.

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Bounty for iOS jailbreak exploit jumps to $1.5 million

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:14:00 -0700

The value for zero-day exploits targeting Apple's iOS software is jumping. On Thursday, a company called Zerodium began offering as much as US $1.5 million for them.

Zerodium is the same company that offered $1 million last year for an exclusive iOS zero-day exploit that can remotely jailbreak a device. However, that bounty was only temporary, and it was eventually awarded last November.

Zerodium's new $1.5 million bounty is asking for a remote jailbreak exploit targeting iOS 10. The bounty will be offered all year long, Chaouki Bekrar, the company's CEO, said in an email. The company's original offer was a maximum of $500,000.

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Google rebrands Apps for Work as G Suite, adds intelligent features

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:37:00 -0700

Google rebranded and enhanced its productivity suite Thursday with new intelligent capabilities that help it better compete with Microsoft Office 365.

G Suite is the new name for the group of applications that include Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It's a group of apps that the company is trying to push on organizations looking to make their employees more productive, with an emphasis on collaboration capabilities.

Docs, Sheets, and Slides are each getting new features aimed at making it easier to create files quickly with the help of Google intelligence. In addition, Google Calendar is getting an update to make it easier to schedule meetings, and Drive has a new feature making it easier for teams to use.

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U.S. carriers will look to LTE-U tests to protect Wi-Fi

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:21:00 -0700

The biggest U.S. carriers planning to deploy controversial LTE-Unlicensed technology expect to use gear that’s been tested for coexistence with Wi-Fi, their executives said Wednesday.

Speakers from Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA said they expect all the LTE-U devices they use to be vetted through a test plan created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. They also anticipate that gear based on a related technology, LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), will be certified through tests for that system.

That’s good news for anyone worried about LTE networks using some of the same frequencies that carry Wi-Fi traffic. The WFA test plan, despite being developed with input from those carriers and other LTE-U backers, was harshly criticized before its completion last week. Backers of LTE-U, including Verizon and Qualcomm, have demonstrated their own coexistence tests. When it released the plan, WFA warned that anything but the full test suite would be inadequate to ensure that LTE-U devices would be fair to Wi-Fi.

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Researchers make progress toward computer video recognition

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:10:00 -0700

Computers can already recognize you in an image, but can they see a video or real-world objects and tell exactly what's going on?

Researchers are trying to make computer video recognition a reality, and they are using some image recognition techniques to make that happen.

Researchers in and outside of Google are making progress in video recognition, but there are also challenges to overcome, Rajat Monga, engineering director of TensorFlow for Google's Brain team, said during a question-and-answer session on Quora this week.

The benefits of video recognition are enormous. For example, a computer will be able to identify a person's activities, an event, or a location. Video recognition will also make self-driving cars more viable.

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Android Wear 2.0 delayed to 2017, Developer Preview 3 out now

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 12:23:00 -0700

If you were hoping your Android Wear watch would get the big 2.0 software update before the holidays, you're going to be disappointed. In a blog post announcing the availability of Developer Preview 3, Google let it slip that the update has been pushed back to next year.

At the end of the post detailing the new developer preview, the company slipped this in: "We’ve decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, at which point the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0."

Google Play on Android Wear

It's not all bad news. Developer Preview 2 brings a huge new feature to Android Wear 2.0: the Google Play store. 

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Google will shore up one of its biggest cloud weaknesses next year

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:28:00 -0700

Google is making a major change to its cloud platform infrastructure that will help shore up one of the company's biggest weaknesses relative to competitors like Microsoft and Amazon.

On Thursday, Urs Hölzle, the company's senior vice president of technical infrastructure, unveiled eight forthcoming regions around the world for the company's cloud services. The regions are all slated to launch in 2017 and will be comprised of multiple data centers for companies looking to run high-availability applications.

Having a broad distribution of cloud infrastructure is important to Google's competitive chances. More and more countries are requiring that some types of data are stored in particular geographic locations. And even with high-speed networks, a large distance between where an application is hosted and where its users are located will lead to a slowdown.

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