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ProtonMail Contacts offers zero-access encryption for Contact information 22 Nov 2017, 4:58 am

ProtonMail Contacts offers zero-access encryption for Contact information

ProtonMail, the encrypted e-mail service, has now unveiled ProtonMail Contacts, which provides zero-access encryption for contact information.

Zero-access encryption means that the protected contact fields are encrypted in such a way that only you are able to decrypt and read them, not even ProtonMail can read them. While you can't encrypt the e-mail address of a contact (since ProtonMail needs to know where to send the email) you can encrypt other fields such as Address, Phone Number and Notes.

The goal of this feature is to provide another level of security for journalists and others who need to keep the identity of acquaintances (e.g. sources) as secret as possible while still being able to contact them.

In additional, digital signatures are utilizes to verify the integrity of contacts data, including the e-mail address. Verified fields are denoted with a tick. If verification fails (e.g. due to tampering), a very prominent red-background warning will display.

More information: ProtonMail

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U.S. ITC rules in favor of TiVo over Comcast in patent dispute 22 Nov 2017, 4:55 am

U.S. ITC rules in favor of TiVo over Comcast in patent dispute

U.S. international trade body has prohibited Comcast Corp from importing types of set-top boxes in a patent dispute with Rovi Corp (now TiVo).

The ITC has prohibited the import and sale of Rovi's Xfinity X1 set-top box models that specifically violate two patents. It does not apply to legacy hardware that does not.

"Today's Commission Opinion reinforces the need for Comcast to take the necessary licenses to our IP," Rovi said in response to the commission's findings.

Comcast has confirmed it will appeal the body's decision. The ban could be overturned by U.S. President Donald Trump during the Presidential Review period.

Source: Reuters News Agency

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Uber fires employees after hack cover-up 22 Nov 2017, 4:51 am

Uber fires employees after hack cover-up

Uber has fired two employees after a breach of user data was covered up last year, Dara Khosrowshahi has revealed to the public.

Khosrowshahi recently replaced co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO at the ride-sharing giant. In a blog post, he said that the October 2016 data breach had only been revealed to him recently, and that two employees whose job it was to respond appropriatelky to a data breach have been fired as a result.

The names and driver's license numbers of around 600,000 drivers in the United States were stolen in the breach, along with some personal information of 57 million Uber users around the world which includes names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

The breach happened after hackers gained access to proptietary information stored on the GitHub service, which was then used to access Uber information held by a cloud-storage provider. For the record, GitHub has confirmed that its security was not breached as part of the incident.

Uber has not found any evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident so far, but is providing affected drivers with free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.

Uber drivers can get more information here, while Uber riders can seek information here.

"None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can't erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes," Khosrowshahi wrote.

"We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers."

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Skype pulled from Apple, Android app stores in China 22 Nov 2017, 4:46 am

Skype pulled from Apple, Android app stores in China

Microsoft's Skype video-phone call and messaging service has disappeared from Apple's App Store in China, as well as stores for Android.

Apple confirmed to the Reuters news agency that the removal was down to the demands of Chinese authorites.

"We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law, therefore these apps have been removed from the App Store in China," a spokeswoman for Apple, said. "These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business."

While Google Play is not available in China at all, other app stores that cater to Android devices also removed the Skype application presumably for the same reason.

The incident is the latest setback for foreign tech companies in China, where the countries Great Firewall of censorship has caused considerable tension between the communist government and the tech industry.

WhatsApp, Facebook's encrypted messaging service, has also had recent outages in China.

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Intel announces: First commercial 5G modem in development 20 Nov 2017, 1:46 pm

Intel announces: First commercial 5G modem in development

The world's second largest semiconductor manufacturer, Intel, has announced a major project in mobile chips. The company has introduced a future portfolio for commercial 5G modems.

According to a press released, the XMM 8060 is the first commercial 5G modem developed by Intel and will take on major 5G suppliers, including the likes of Qualcomm and Nokia, in the next decade's fight for wireless supremacy.

In addition to the super-speedy 5G modem, Intel also announced a new XMM 7060 which improves the LTE speeds on mobile devices starting next year. As for the 5G modem, we'll have to wait a few year.

While we are waiting for the first commercial devices to equip the XMM 8060 in mid-2019, we'll have the 1.6 gigabits per second, Cat-19 LTE chip to speed our way through the last few years without 5G.

Intel also said that it is going to expand the XMM 8000 series with other modems that will bring 5G capabilities to computers and vehicles among other connected things.

This obviously solidifies Intel as a potential mobile powerhouse of the future, but it still has a long way to challenge long-running modem makers as proper competitor, and conquering the mobile sector has always been a struggle for Intel.

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CCleaner becomes adware, here's how to avoid Avast ads 20 Nov 2017, 10:00 am

CCleaner becomes adware, here's how to avoid Avast ads

One of the more popular Windows cleanup tools, CCleaner, has added Avast ads on to their software. After being acquired by Avast, CCleaner wants you to install the virus protection suite along with CCleaner.

Avast bought CCleaner developer Piriform in July after which it was fairly clear that Czech security software company is going to utilize the new addition in new ways. One of these ways seems to be to try and push free Avast to CCleaner users.

In addition to CCleaner, Avast already has a similar cleanup tool called AVG TuneUp that troubleshoots and optimizes your Windows system. However, CCleaner is amongst the most popular Windows cleanup tools and certainly more known than Avast's offering.

Adding the huge user base of CCleaner to their pool of potential Avast customers is of massive value, and turning CCleaner into self-promoting adware is thus an obvious move.

The transition wasn't completely painful though – actually quite the opposite. After the acquisition CCleaner suffered from a hidden malware, according to Piriform caused by a hacker, that hit over 2 million computers.

Fortunately, there is still a simple way to use CCleaner without the Avast ads. Just download the CCleaner Portable, that hasn't yet been turned into an adware.

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Tesla's power pack charges your phone like a Supercharger 18 Nov 2017, 10:25 am

Tesla's power pack charges your phone like a Supercharger

Tesla announced yesterday two incredible products that are due in two or three years. However, you might not have the money, nor the interest, to buy either Tesla Semi or Roadster, but there is another new product that might catch your attention.

Tesla released a new battery pack, but it's not the type of battery back you charge your car from or light up your home with. It's a USB and Apple's Lightning enabled power pack for your smartphone or tablet.

The battery pack is called the Powerbank after their home battery solution Powerwall and it looks like one of those iconic Superchargers you charge you Tesla with. In fact, the Powerbank uses a single 18650 cell from a Model S or X as the battery, and it provides 3,350 milliamp hours of capacity. That means that it can top up a modern smartphone just about one time, depending on the model of course.

Unfortunately there are a few bad news if you'd like to get one. First of all, it's pretty expensive at $45. You can get a far bigger battery pack for fraction of the price on Amazon.

But you might not care about that, after all it's a Tesla product so you are expected to pay premium. Therein lies the second piece of bad news. It's already sold out. You'll just have to hope a second batch becomes available so you can gift yourself perhaps the most expensive, and most beautiful, external smartphone battery pack.

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Apple's newest product misses the entire holiday season, hits the stores in early 2018 18 Nov 2017, 9:20 am

Apple's newest product misses the entire holiday season, hits the stores in early 2018

Apple has decided to push back one of the products originally revealed nearly 6 months ago in WWDC. The smart speaker, dubbed HomePod, has been delayed further and won't be seen in stores this holiday season.

Apple has not given a direct reason to delays, but it seems fairly obvious that the company would've liked to release it to the public before Christmas. Apple just said it needed more time to finish the product, and thus we do not know if the problems were in hardware or software.

One can, thought, speculate. It seems more likely that Apple wasn't happy with the Siri implementation, after all the hardware in an Echo-like smart speaker should be a breeze. However, software problems could be figured out later, at least if they are not major ones, so who knows.

No matter where the problem lies, it's a huge setback for a product that was meant to be a major player at the top of every gift list. I guess you'll now have to choose between one of the Echos and Google Home.

Apple did, however, promise that HomePod will be released in early 2018 in the U.S., UK and Australia.

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Tesla unveils two new vehicles, electric semi and super-fast new Roadster 17 Nov 2017, 7:53 am

Tesla unveils two new vehicles, electric semi and super-fast new Roadster

Tesla has today announced two new vehicle prototypes that will bring the total number of Tesla cars, and now trucks, to six. As expected Tesla unveiled their "beastly" semi-truck the first time but not many expected a refresh to its first car, the Roadster.

With the semi-truck Tesla moves to a completely different market. Previously the company has been competing against specific small to mid-sized cars, and before the Model 3 even the production volumes have been rather low. Now the company has a new type of challenge.

According to all the specs and Elon Musk's price calculations everything seems promising, but you have to take into account that the company has never made a product even close to what they are attempting here. However, if everything goes according to the plan the first Tesla semis should hit the roads in 2019.

Now to the specs. According to Elon Musk, the Tesla semi destroys current semi-trucks in speed and acceleration both with cargo and without. Even with full load it gets to 60 mph in just 20 seconds.

Even better, Tesla semi is said to have up to 500 mile range (300 or 500 on the website), and cap top up the batteries with a supercharger in 30 minutes. The range is also calculated at full load and at highway speeds.

Tesla did not exactly reveal how much a Tesla semi would cost but he did have some graphs suggesting that cost per mile would be roughly 20 percent cheaper than a traditional semi from day one. Website claims $200 000 fuel savings, which we assume is over lifetime of the vehicle.

Musk did touch on some other interesting points though. That includes brakes "basically lasting forever", independent wheel drive which protects against jackknifing, million miles no breakdown guarantee, autopilot on all Tesla semis, thermonuclear explosion proof windshield glass, and of course Tesla app for controls and remote diagnostics.

The second car, Tesla's one more things if you will, was a refresh to their first car. The small sports car, Roadster, is getting updated in 2020, and it's fast. So fast in fact, that according to Musk, it will be the fastest production car ever. He promised a crazy 1.9 second 0 to 60 time, and said it will do a quarter mile in 8.9 seconds.

Roadster's top speed is above 250 mph, has a 200 kWh battery pack (for comparison the largest on Model S has half of that) providing 620 mile range, as well as three motors with all wheel drive and 10 000 nm torque. Unfortunately no price details as of this moment.

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Apple speeding iPhone 8 and X charging with an update 16 Nov 2017, 10:28 am

Apple speeding iPhone 8 and X charging with an update

Apple has revealed that its upcoming patch will improve the quality of life of many 2017 iPhone owners. According to iOS 11.2 beta the iPhone 8 and iPhone X both will receive a boost to charging.

The company will increase the maximum wattage intake from wireless charging to 7.5 watts. This means that you'll be able to charge your wireless charging enabled iPhones potentially 50 percent faster with a supported charging pad.

Currently Apple only supports wireless charging up to 5 watts, which is very low considering that many pads can output up to 10, or even 15 watts. Apple's own charging pad, AirPower, is yet to be released, it should arrive early next year, but this update will improve charging with all charging pads that can charge at 7.5 watts.

One would think that Apple's AirPower is optimized for 7.5 watts (Apple hasn't disclosed details) which would perfectly explain the upgrade. Maybe Apple is even thinking of launching the product early to avoid people investing in 3rd party pads.

Currently iOS 11.2 is still in beta, but it is believed to be ready for stable release soon, perhaps in the coming weeks, or most likely at least before holiday season.

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OnePlus announces their new flagship: OnePlus 5T 16 Nov 2017, 9:48 am

OnePlus announces their new flagship: OnePlus 5T

The Chinese manufacturer OnePlus has gained tremendous momentum after its initial smartphone release a few years back. The OnePlus One became a quick success with the help of the company's quirky, and obviously effective, viral marketing.

Since the first one OnePlus has unveiled a total of five other mid-range prices, but top-tier specced, smartphones. Today the company has announced their newest flagship.

The OnePlus 5T is, like the OnePlus 3T, a smaller upgrade to its predecessor. OnePlus 5T sports many of the same features as the OnePlus 5, the company's well received smartphone launched in June.

However, as rumors and leaks suggested, OnePlus has decided to release their first smartphone with a 18:9 ratio display that covers nearly the entire front panel. That means that fingerprint reader, and thus the entire home button, has been moved from the front bottom to the back.

The resolution of the screen has been upped from Full HD (1920 x 1080) to 2160 x 1080 as the size has changed from 5.5 inches to roughly six inches.

Cameras are looks on the surface to be as they were on the OnePlus 5 so you have a iPhone-like dual camera setup but there are some key differences. OnePlus tells us that the focal length has shortened and while that means optical zooming isn't possible like in the predecessor there's more light coming to the sensors which improves the photo quality, especially in low-light conditions.

The company promises a zoom function which will use algorithm-based zooming – it's still just a software zoom.

Just like with OnePlus 5, you also get the Snapdragon 835 processor, 6 or 8 gigabytes of RAM, 64 or 128 gigabytes of storage, and a 3300 milliamp hour battery with incredibly fast Dash charging.

OnePlus 5T starts at $499 for the 64/6GB version and tops at $559 for the 128/8GB version. You'll be able to buy yours starting on November 21 at oneplus.net.




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Android fragmentation problems hit a new high, billion devices two years outdated 15 Nov 2017, 9:32 am

Android fragmentation problems hit a new high, billion devices two years outdated

For its entire history Android has had one massive problem: software fragmentation. That means that people are getting a different experience of Android depending on the country, carrier, manufacturer, or even if all of the above are same, device.

Unlike Apple, Google hasn't seemingly even been trying to solve the problem – although promising some solutions – and has just let the platform loose. This has allowed it to become by far the most adopted mobile operating system in the world, but it also means that there are now more problems of fragmentation than ever.

This is as open secret as there is about Android, and most of the Android users are pained by the fact that software updates, even when they are security related, take forever to come.

To attest to the fact a programmer by the name of Dan Luu has revealed that things might not be getting better but worse over time.

According to Luu, Google's operating system is just becoming less up-to-date, and there are only a few explanations for this: Android's slowing growth, device turnover slowing down, or devices aren't getting updates as often.

To expand on the problem, Luu compared the fragmentation data with Google's estimate of active Android devices. As nearly half of devices are running two year old software, which one can easily call outdated, and there are a total of two billion active Android devices, the math is pretty simple.

Not only is there at least a billion outdated Android devices still in use but according to Luu the likelihood of them getting updated is nearing zero – which is ironically close to what Android Oreo 8.0 marketshare is currently.

To get a more in-depth look at the problem, Dan Luu has excellent analysis and graphs about Android fragmentation over the years on his website.

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The most downvoted comment in Reddit history made EA reconsider pricing 14 Nov 2017, 12:02 pm

The most downvoted comment in Reddit history made EA reconsider pricing

Electronic Arts, or EA, is one of the largest game developers in the world, and even though it sells more game than any other company, it has it's fair share of haters. EA like many other major developers are sometimes cutting corners, or even straight-up trying to milk the customers.

According to the gaming community, at least on Reddit, one of these instances was found earlier yesterday. On /StarWarsBattlefront subreddit a thread was created to discuss the horrific pricing of EA's Star Wars game franchise Battlefront.

Recently EA had announced new Darth Vader character to Battlefront II which could be attained by an in-game micro payment. Well, it just so happened that the price was far from micro at $80.

This lead to EA's customer support commenting on the thread, as EACommunityTeam, with explanations on why such a price would be appropriate. This included such things as to "provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment."

It appeared that the comment, claiming appreciation for candid feedback, wasn't received too well. In fact, it has been downvoted more than any other comment in Reddit history. Currently it stands at -683k points, approximately 660 000 more downvotes than the second least favorite comment in history.

Apparently the downvote tornado had some effect, and EA decided to drop the prices of top hero unlocks by 75%. This includes your favorite father and son combo, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

You keep talking, and we'll keep listening.
Today, we've drastically reduced the cost of hero unlocks in #StarWarsBattlefrontII. Learn more: https://t.co/H6m6ywGMAh pic.twitter.com/fJoJqWDRmo

-- EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) November 13, 2017


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Firefox Quantum delivers significant speed improvements 14 Nov 2017, 9:32 am

Firefox Quantum delivers significant speed improvements

Mozilla has released Firefox Quantum across platforms with a new slick UI and an overhauled core engine, providing for a speedier and lighter experience.

It's twice as fast as Firefox from six months ago, or at least Mozilla claims, and when we tested it out we noticed significant improvements under the new Photon UI, including when switching between large numbers of open tabs. Browsing was also noticeable smoother. Quantum is also less of a memory hog.

The improved experience comes from a multitude of improvements under the hood, such as the new CSS engine, Stylo, that takes better advantage of today's hardware with multiple cores that are optimized for low power consumption.

Firefox has also changed the default search provider to Google in the United States and Canada. The decision was put down to a "focus on user experience and performance," but of course Firefox still comes with more than 60 search providers pre-installed, covering 90+ languages.

You can download Mozilla Firefox v57.0 (64-bit here) from AfterDawn or the Mozilla homepage.

Here is a video covering the Firefox Quantum update:

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Black Friday is coming but Chinese Singles' Day spending is way bigger 13 Nov 2017, 10:49 am

Black Friday is coming but Chinese Singles' Day spending is way bigger

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the entire Thanksgiving weekend is a celebration of shopping, especially online shopping. Americans spend over $10 billion over the later November weekend shopping for holidays, but it's far from the largest online shop-a-palooza in the world.

While China might not yet be considered the world's largest economy, it it certainly growing fast. And online shopping is becoming hugely popular, like it is in the US – thank Amazon.

While there is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday in China, there is something similar. It's called Guanggun Jie, or Singles' Day, and it's celebrated on November 11, date which is chosen to reflect singles. People celebrating being single happens to be the largest online shopping event in China, and in the world, and this year it has amassed a record amount of money spent.

The leading online marketplace, the Amazon of China if you will, Alibaba has told that via its online network they sold over $25 billion worth of products. That's an increase of around 40 percent from last year. The closest competitor, JD.com, managed to get another $16 billion.

The massive growth is said to be a result of increase competition between retailers that has lead to ridiculously tasty deals, CNBC reports.

The spending on Singles' Day dwarfs Thanksgiving weekend's online sales here in the U.S. in a tremendous fashion. Last year online shopping between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday accounted for around $12.8 billion.

Only one thing we can do: Show 'em how it's done in couple weeks!

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