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Published: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:53:40 -0800

Last Build Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:53:40 -0800


Apple, Microsoft and Amazon offer fairer deal on cloud storage

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:33:31 -0800

Apple, Microsoft and Amazon have agreed to give cloud storage subscribers fairer contracts after intervention by the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority.

Such cloud storage services are typically used to store photos, videos, music or digital copies of important documents.

If the services shut down or vary their capacity or prices without notice, customers can lose their data, or be held hostage.

The CMA asked the storage service providers to give adequate notice before closing, suspending or changing services, and to allow customers to cancel their contracts and receive a pro-rata refund if they didn't accept service changes.

The regulator last year obtained similar undertakings from Google, Dropbox and five other cloud storage providers.

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4 ways to block political posts on Facebook

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:20:00 -0800

The deluge of political rants, memes, and arguments in your Facebook feed is hardly ending—if anything, it’s getting louder. Whether you participate in these posts, just seeing them is proven to be wearing and stressful, and can ultimately be a drain on your productivity.

You don’t necessarily have to swear off social media completely to get relief, nor do you have to start a campaign of “unfriending” folks with offending opinions. There are several free browser add-ons that will help you purge your feed of politics—or at least keep it out of sight long enough to get your work done. Here are a few of the best.

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Hackers behind bank attack campaign use Russian as decoy

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:00:37 -0800

The hackers behind a sophisticated attack campaign that has recently targeted financial organizations around the world have intentionally inserted Russian words and commands into their malware in an attempt to throw investigators off.

Researchers from cybersecurity firm BAE Systems have recently obtained and analyzed additional malware samples related to an attack campaign that has targeted 104 organizations -- most of them banks -- from 31 different countries.

They found multiple commands and strings in the malware that appear to have been translated into Russian using online tools, the results making little sense to a native Russian speaker.

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New Zealand High Court clears Kim Dotcom extradition to the US

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 04:51:00 -0800

Megaupload website founder Kim Dotcom and three associates were on Monday cleared by a court in New Zealand to be extradited to the U.S. where he faces a variety of charges including copyright infringement and racketeering.

Holding that copyright infringement by digital online communication of copyright protected works to members of the public is not a criminal offense under New Zealand’s Copyright Act, the High Court found that a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement amounts to a bid to defraud, which is an extradition offense listed in the treaty between the U.S. and New Zealand.

An earlier District Court judgment permitting the extradition was upheld by the High Court.

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Aukey Wireless Indoor Surveillance Camera review: Its performance doesn't measure up to the features

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 03:00:00 -0800

Aukey is a company more known for mobile accessories like car chargers and Bluetooth speakers than smart-home products. So it was a bit surprising when it announced its first home security camera would be an ambitious, full-HD, panoramic model. But while its features are impressive on paper, its rookie status was all to apparent when we put it to the test.

The Aukey Wireless Indoor Surveillance camera (model VT-CM1, $110) cuts an attractive hourglass figure with a shiny black finish. The head unit houses a 2MP 1080p camera with a 92-degree field of view. That’s not as wide as most cameras, which typically run in the 110- to 180-degree range, but that head unit rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to take in an entire room. Using the camera’s companion mobile app, you can pan, tilt, and zoom to ensure you don’t miss a thing. The camera’s wide base lets you set it securely on any flat surface, but you can also mount it to a wall or ceiling with the accompanying bracket and screws.

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Microsoft eyes Indian startups for cloud services

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 02:41:44 -0800

Microsoft is targeting Indian startups with its cloud services, and has signed up more than 2,000 such customers in the country in the last 12 months, the company’s CEO Satya Nadella said Monday at an event for startups in Bangalore.

A large opportunity ahead for the company is the large number of developers who are building their services around a biometric database, consisting of fingerprints and iris scans, which the country has created of over 1 billion of its people.

Under a new program for the digital exchange of information, called India Stack, the government is offering the biometric system, called Aadhaar, as an authentication mechanism for a variety of services offered by the private sector.

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Uber orders investigation into employee's charge of sexual harassment

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 19:38:11 -0800

Uber Technologies said Sunday it had ordered an urgent investigation after a former engineer triggered an uproar on social media, alleging sexual harassment, politics and discrimination at the ride-hailing company.

In a blog post, Susan J. Fowler, who joined Uber in November 2015 and quit in December last year to join Stripe, alleged that her former manager in the company had said in messages over company chat that he was looking for women to have sex with.

“It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” Fowler wrote in a blog post that created a storm online.

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30% off Veepeak USB Rechargeable LED Motion Sensor Light for Closet with Magnetic Mounting - Deal Alert

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 17:51:00 -0800

The Veepeak Rechargeable Motion Sensor Light offers a simple solution to lighting any area inside your home. The portable and detachable design makes it versatile enough to be used as a night light in hallways and bedrooms or as a cabinet or closet light for dim areas. Installation is a breeze, the magnetic strip with 3M adhesive allows you to quickly mount wherever you need extra light.  This light is motion activated and will automatically turn on once it detects motion; when no movement is detected for about 20 seconds, the light will automatically turn off. This LED light is powered by built-in Lithium battery which can be charged with included USB cable by a phone charger or PC USB port. No electric wire, no need to replace batteries and one full charge provides up to 500 times of sensing at full brightness.  This light currently averages 4.5 out of 5 stars (read reviews) and is discounted 30% down to just $13.99. For more information and buying options, see the discounted LED Motion light on Amazon.

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The Full Nerd Episode 17: Ryzen price and performance leaks, GTX 1080 Ti vs. Radeon Vega

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 11:30:00 -0800

In this week’s The Full Nerd, Gordon Mah UngBrad ChacosHayden Dingman, and Adam Patrick Murray talk about AMD and Nvidia’s dueling GDC events and—whether it means we’ll be seeing Radeon Vega vs. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti or not.

Also, with the window fast approaching for AMD’s long awaited Ryzen, the crew goes Full Nerd on the the latest Ryzen price and performance rumors, digging into what it means for gamers, enthusiasts, and cheapskates. Gordon also compares the latest alleged Ryzen benchmarks directly against Intel’s best chips.

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Radeon Vega vs. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti? AMD, Nvidia announce dueling events at GDC 2017

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 06:29:00 -0800

The annual Game Developers Conference usually maintains an intense software focus, but GDC 2017 seems to be shaping up as a hit for PC hardware enthusiasts, too. Both AMD and Nvidia have announced events taking place alongside GDC, and in fact, both are being held on the very same day—February 28.

First up: AMD, which is reviving the “Capsaicin” event that debuted at GDC 2016. Here’s what’s on tap, according to the event registration:

“The Capsaicin livestream kicks off at 10:30 a.m. from Ruby Skye, a feature-packed show highlighting the hottest new graphics and VR technologies propelling the games industry forward.”

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30% off Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum RGB Tunable Gaming Mouse - Deal Alert

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:20:00 -0800

The G502 features the most advanced optical sensor for maximum tracking accuracy. Customize RGB lighting or sync it with other Logitech G products, set up custom profiles for your games, adjust sensitivity from 200 up to 12,000 DPI and position five 3.6g weights for just the right balance and feel. The G502 averages 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 1,000 people on Amazon, where its typical list price of $80 has been reduced to $56. See it now on Amazon.

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Microsoft's decision to scrap February security updates unnerves patch experts

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:44:00 -0800

Microsoft this week canceled February’s slate of security updates for Windows and its other products, including Office, just a day after saying that the fixes would only be delayed.

Patch experts struggled with the decision, pointing out that known vulnerabilities will go unpatched and that IT planning had been disrupted.

“I was shocked,” said Chris Goettl, product manager at patch management vendor Ivanti, formerly Shavlik. “I was really expecting [the patches to release] next week.”

On Tuesday, just hours before the month’s Patch Tuesday updates were to appear, Microsoft announced a delay. “We discovered a last-minute issue that could impact some customers and was not resolved in time for our planned updates today,” the company said at the time. The implication was that February’s security fixes would ship as soon as that “last-minute issue” was resolved.

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Here’s how the US government can bolster cybersecurity

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:34:08 -0800

Almost 20 years ago, Chris Wysopal was among a group of hackers who testified before U.S. Congress, warning it about the dangers of the internet.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government is still struggling to act, he said. "You’re just going to keep ending up with the status quo," he said, pointing to the U.S. government's failure to regulate the tech industry or incentivize any change.

It’s a feeling that was shared by the experts who attended this week’s RSA cybersecurity show. Clearly, the U.S. government needs to do more on cybersecurity, but what?  

Public and Private sector

Perhaps, the need for U.S. action hasn't been more urgent. In last year's election, Russia was accused of hacking U.S. political groups and figures in an effort to influence the outcome.

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35 great PC games for Linux and Steam Machines

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:16:00 -0800

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37% off Garmin Forerunner 225 GPS Running Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate - Deal Alert

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:08:00 -0800

In addition to using GPS to calculate distance and pace, the 225 has a built-in accelerometer. This allows it to capture distance and pace data when you’re running on an indoor track or treadmill, with no need for a separate foot pod accessory.  Forerunner 225 is the first Garmin GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate. Now you have the option to run without a heart rate strap. The 225 tracks distance, pace and heart rate, and featured activity tracking to count steps and calories all day. The full features Forerunner 225 averages 4 out of 5 stars from over 400 people on Amazon (read reviews), where its typical list price of $220 is currently reduced to the very low price of $139, one of its lowest prices to date. See the deal now on Amazon.

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This $450 Core i5 laptop from HP costs less new than used

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:50:00 -0800

Right now, buying a laptop requires a little more thought, what with Intel Kaby Lake processors rolling out and Intel Skylake processors making their exit. Do you dive in now in the hopes of scoring a good deal on a Skylake-powered laptop, or wait for the moderate advantages that Kaby Lake brings?

In our opinion, if all you need is a reliable laptop for everyday use, Skylake is just fine—particularly if you’re buying at a discount. That brings us to today’s deal: Walmart is currently selling the HP Pavilion 15-au030wm for $450.

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Insecure Android apps put connected cars at risk

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0800

Android applications that allow millions of car owners to remotely locate and unlock their vehicles are missing security features that could prevent tampering by hackers.

Researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab took seven of the most popular Android apps that accompany connected cars from various manufacturers and analyzed them from the perspective of a compromised Android device. The apps and manufacturers have not been named.

The researchers looked at whether such apps use any of the available countermeasures that would make it hard for attackers to hijack them when the devices they’re installed on are infected with malware. Other types of applications, such as banking apps, have such protections.

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Computer crashed? You could blame forces beyond our solar system

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:55:00 -0800

When your computer crashes or phone freezes, don't be so quick to blame the manufacturer. Cosmic rays may be your real foe, or rather the electrically charged particles they generate. 

While harmless to living organisms, a small number of these particles have enough energy to interfere with the operation of the microelectronic circuitry in our personal devices. It's called a single-event upset or SEU. 

During an SEU, particles alter an individual bit of data stored in a chip's memory. Consequences can be as trivial as altering a single pixel in a photograph or as serious as bringing down a passenger jet.

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SAP license fees are due even for indirect users, court says

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:50:05 -0800

SAP's named-user licensing fees apply even to related applications that only offer users indirect visibility of SAP data, a U.K. judge ruled Thursday in a case pitting SAP against Diageo, the alcoholic beverage giant behind Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer.

The consequences could be far-reaching for businesses that have integrated their customer-facing systems with an SAP database, potentially leaving them liable for license fees for every customer that accesses their online store.

"If any SAP systems are being indirectly triggered, even if incidentally, and from anywhere in the world, then there are uncategorized and unpriced costs stacking up in the background," warned Robin Fry, a director at software licensing consultancy Cerno Professional Services, who has been following the case.

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Google tweaks its Verify Apps security feature to show what's been scanned

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:19:00 -0800

Google has long used its Verify Apps feature to target possible malware before it can affect our phones, but it has always been a behind-the-scenes service. Unless there was an app that Google labeled unsafe and prompted us to remove, there was no way to see if Verify Apps was actually, well, verifying apps.

Google is now starting to show its work. In addition to a detailed blog post that outlines how Verify Apps does its job, Google has tweaked the menu in settings to display a little more information about what it’s doing. Instead of an option in the the Security menu in Settings (or in the Google tab on Pixels and some other phones), Verify Apps now occupies its own tab. Tap it and you’ll see the same two toggles to “Scan device for security threats” and “Improve harmful app detection,” but you’ll also get a look at the last four apps it has scanned as well as the number of apps that were previously checked.

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AMD bundles Ashes of the Singularity with FX processors ahead of Ryzen's launch

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:28:00 -0800

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Google wants your help with the development of the next Pixel

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:24:00 -0800

We’re still months away from the unveiling of the Pixel 2, but Google is already working on deciding which features to add to the highly anticipated follow-up to its first officially branded phone. And it wants your help.

No, Google hasn’t launched a Kickstarter page, but it is seeking input from users on what they like about the Pixel and what they want to see improved. In a post on the Pixel User Community board titled "Chamfers, cross-hatch patterns and deep blue - obsessing on Pixel's design," Krishna Kumar, product lead for the Pixel, posed four questions to forum members: “What do you like about the design? What do you hate about it? What did we get right? What would you like to see us improve?”

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AT&T jumps on the unlimited data bandwagon with an expensive new plan

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:56:00 -0800

AT&T capped off this week’s carrier showdown by releasing its own unlimited data plan following announcements from Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

Prior to this announcement, AT&T only offered unlimited data plans to its DirecTV and U-verse subscribers. Before you get too excited, however, this plan is the most expensive of the bunch for a single line, and has a few drawbacks compared to the other plans.

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43% off TP-Link Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb, 50W Dimmable and Alexa Compatible - Deal Alert

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:33:00 -0800

TP-Link has discounted its 50W smart bulb 43% to just $19.99. Use the Kasa app to turn on/off or dim from anywhere in the world. Set up a schedule, set the mood, and even control with your voice via an Alexa-enabled device such as Echo or Dot. Reviewers rate 4 out of 5 stars (see reviews) on Amazon, where you can get yourself one (or more) for just $20, a good deal considering it typically lists north of $20 and sometimes $30 with various online retailers. See the discounted TP-Link smart LED bulb on Amazon.

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Three ways to restrict OneDrive uploads in Windows 10

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 05:00:00 -0800

Sometimes you just don’t want OneDrive to do its job and start uploading and syncing files at will. This can be for any number of reasons, but the top two are usually because you’re doing a resource-intensive operation like gaming or your internet connection isn’t the fastest.

During those moments you have three relatively easy options for dealing with OneDrive in Windows 10: Shut it down until later, pause file syncing for a preset period, or slow down the sync speed to free up bandwidth resources.

For all of these tips we’re going to access the OneDrive app for Windows 10 from the notifications area. Click the upward-facing arrow on the far right of the taskbar and look for the OneDrive icon (a pair of white clouds).

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The best cybersecurity advice from experts at RSA

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 04:49:00 -0800

Come to the RSA show, and you’ll find plenty of cybersecurity technology. The top vendors from across the industry are here, showing products for fighting ransomware, preventing data breaches and more.

But even the best security software is useless if users and businesses aren’t taking the right steps to protect themselves. So we asked experts at the show for their best cybersecurity tips.

Joe Stewart, director of malware research at Dell SecureWorks 

He advises everyone to set up two-factor authentication to protect their internet accounts, especially email. It can be particularly useful when stopping hackers who are trying to steal login passwords from users, whether through malware or email phishing schemes.

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Five to Try: Beat up Batman in Arkham Underworld, or force a smile with FaceApp

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 04:00:00 -0800

Also, the huge new Pokémon Go update warrants a return from lapsed fans.

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The secret upgrade: How expansion chips in video game cartridges pushed performance

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 03:30:00 -0800

A secret weapon

Image by Benj Edwards

During the 1980s and early 1990s, when video game titles shipped primarily as cartridges, software developers eked out extra capabilities in their games by including special expansion chips inside the game cartridges themselves. The most simple of these enabled bank switching (a technique that allowed a CPU to access more RAM or ROM than usual), but the chips went on to grow dramatically in scope: adding RAM, extra sound-synthesis capabilities, graphical tweaks, and eventually 3D polygonal graphics using DSP co-processors. In the slides ahead, we’ll take a look at a handful of classic secret hardware expansions that allowed game developers to push game consoles past their inherent design limitations.

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Libratone Q Adapt wireless headphones review: You control how much of the world to allow in

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 03:00:00 -0800

Headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) can filter out the noise pollution that accompanies modern travel, whether it be the low-frequency rumble of a jet engine or the drone of a train or bus on your daily commute. Basic ANC technology has been around for years, and batteries are becoming good enough that it can be used with wireless models. Manufacturers have also started adding features that make ANC even more effective. For Libratone, that means giving you the power to control how much of the outside world is allowed in.

The $249 Q Adapt wireless headphones don't look all that special, but they do sport Bluetooth 4.1 and they support the high-quality aptX audio codec. If your smartphone, digital audio player, or other source also supports aptX, then you can stream near-CD quality audio. They sound great, delivering well-balanced sound without any glaring sonic shortcomings. These little headphones aren't high-end models, but they do have lots of features that set them apart from the crowd.

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