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  • When people think of a "smart home," they usually only consider devices inside the dwelling, such as thermostats, lights, and more. A home is more than just a house, however. Most homeowners will tell you that the overall property -- including the yard -- is just as important. Believe it or not, there are smart devices for outdoors, and not just external security cameras. For instance, Rachio makes a really cool smart sprinkler controller that offers Wi-Fi connectivity. It even has support for Alexa, Nest, and Google Assistant. This week, the company launches a clever companion to its 3rd-generation controller.… [Continue Reading]
  • DRM is something that's usually associated with streaming music and video, but there's no reason that it can't be put to other uses. Proving this, Google has started using a form of DRM to improve app security by verifying that APKs originate from the Play Store. It's a system that works much like signed drivers in Windows. The aim is simple: to improve the security of Android users by ensuring that they are using genuine apps that have not been tampered with in any way. Google is not referring to the new system as DRM, saying instead that it is… [Continue Reading]
  • Enter the wrong passcode into an iPhone and you'll not only be denied access to it, but also run the risk of wiping its contents if you enter an incorrect code too many times. This is a problem faced by law enforcement agencies when they encounter iPhones in the cases they're working on -- as well as people trying to hack into phones for nefarious purposes -- so it's little wonder that hackers are constantly trying to find a way to earn unlimited guesses at passcodes. One hacker thought he had cracked it. Security researcher Matthew Hickey proudly boasted at… [Continue Reading]
  • Linux and user data collection. Some people will decry such a thing, but they would be wrong. As long as the collection is opt-in, it is totally acceptable and in line with Linux ideology. When is it questionable? When users don't have a choice. With Windows 10 telemetry, for instance, users can opt out of sharing some data with Microsoft, but not all. And that's a problem. Even if Microsoft's intentions are pure, and designed solely with improving Windows 10, users should be able to refuse all data sharing at time of installation. With Ubuntu desktop, Canonical has started collecting… [Continue Reading]
  • It is a slow process, but USB-C is gradually becoming more and more popular -- although it's a long way from ubiquity yet. Ready to rock the boat a little, it has emerged that Microsoft holds a patent for a redesigned USB-C connector. The patent is not brand new, but Microsoft's May 2017 filing for an "Ultra-Thin USB-C Connector" has just come to light. Another patent filing from April 2017 describes a new "USB-C Plug Receptacle". While the redesign is hardly going to set the world on fire, it's the sort of thing we could well expect to see in… [Continue Reading]
  • For some time, a number of MacBook or MacBook Pro users have complained about problems with their keyboards -- specifically that keys either stop working completely, fall off, or become "sticky", resulting in repeated characters. Now, after two years of complaints and a lawsuit about the butterfly mechanism in its keyboards, Apple has finally acknowledged that there is a problem. The company has also launched a keyboard service program so those affected by the problem can get it addressed, free of charge. See also: Bricked iPhones with 'Error 53' just cost Apple $6.7 million in Australia Apple will automatically share… [Continue Reading]
  • It's officially summer and the weekend is here. For some folks, this means spending time outdoors for the next couple of days. If you are a computer guy or gal, however, you may be sun adverse -- spending time inside tinkering with your PC could be more fun than the beach or the pool. If that is you (it's definitely me!), I have a suggestion -- why not try a new Linux distribution this weekend? Hell, there are countless such operating systems from which to choose. Today, a lesser known Linux-based operating system achieves a milestone. Called "Peppermint," version 9… [Continue Reading]
  • Fans of Kodi know that there’s a new version of the open source home theater software in development. Kodi 18 Leia introduces a number of big changes, including an overhaul for the Music and Live TV sections. For Windows users there’s a dedicated 64-bit build, Android owners can populate the screen with content using a feature called Smartplaylists, and there have also been numerous changes for Linux. SEE ALSO: How to protect Kodi from cryptojacking The second official Alpha build, now available, improves stability and usability, and Team Kodi recommends you try it out, stating "several tens of thousands users… [Continue Reading]
  • A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shone new light on the shortcomings of collecting data from large groups of people during medical research. The longstanding belief is that the bigger the subject pool, the more representative the results will be of the public at large. However, the scientists discovered something different that could impact how people use fitness trackers. Group Data Does Not Indicate Individual Health Factors Scientists found when medical researchers want to know how test subjects feel or what makes them sick, they must focus on individual data, rather than relying on findings… [Continue Reading]
  • Two-hundred-and-eighty-eight in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps, games and extensions released for Windows 10 on the Windows Store in the past seven days. As always, if I've missed an app or game that has been released this week that you believe is particularly good, let me know in the comments below or notify me via email. Discounts this week The following list is a selection of the best deals. Make sure you check out the Store for all offers. Some apps are discounted for more than one week. Only new apps and games are listed… [Continue Reading]
  • The invention of the search engine really made the web usable for the masses. Think about it -- if there was no way to search the web, how would you find anything? Say what you want about Google the company, but if its search engine disappeared tomorrow, the world would be a worse place. Of course, Google did not invent the search engine, nor is it the only game in town -- there is also DuckDuckGo, StartPage, and Bing to name a few excellent alternatives. Speaking of Bing, did you know it's actually really good? It's true! For whatever reason,… [Continue Reading]
  • Cryptojacking might not be as terrifying a threat as ransomware, but it’s a major annoyance that’s becoming more and more prevalent. If you’re not familiar, the attack essentially uses other people’s systems to mine cryptocurrency, usually without their consent. When a cryptocurrency miner is running, your system will experience slowdowns and maybe crashes. The miner will eat up system resources, interfering with tasks like streaming video. SEE ALSO: Running Kodi on Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick? You're at risk from cryptocurrency mining malware In response to this threat, TVAddons has released a new tool which protects Kodi users… [Continue Reading]
  • As you’ll know if you’re a frequent visitor to BetaNews, YouTuber Kamer Kaan Avdan has been creating some fantastic concept videos for various operating systems of the future, including Windows 11, iOS 12 and Android 9.0. Most recently though, it’s his modernizing of Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows 95 which have really caught people's attention. If you’ve watched any of his videos, and thought how cool it would be to actually run one of those operating systems, the bad news is they remain purely concepts for now. However, you can customize your existing OS with some wallpapers from his… [Continue Reading]
  • As technology evolves, it leaves behind a junkyard of products that are longer needed. Electric typewriters, dial-up modems, and floppy disks -- all once intrinsic parts of workaday life -- are now long-obsolete relics. Although we’re not quite there yet, it seems increasingly plausible that traditional antivirus software is likewise reaching its twilight years. Not convinced? Consider these statistics. As far back as 2014, Symantec’s Senior Vice President -- certainly not a person you’d expect to talk down antivirus software -- declared that antivirus was "dead" and effective against less than 50 percent of cyberattacks. More recently, detection rates of… [Continue Reading]
  • Google has unveiled a new look for users' accounts, making information clearer, improving transparency and adding new options. To make it easy to find information, Google has added a search function and there's also a cleaner look to aid navigation. Building on the previous update to Security Checkup, your Google account now also highlights settings you can change to improve your security. See also: Google launches Podcasts app for Android Google updates Android Messages so you can send texts from the web Google enters 'strategic partnership' with China's The rejigged look means that it is now easier than ever… [Continue Reading]
  • Brian Krzanich, the CEO of Intel, has resigned after it came to light that he was in a relationship with an employee. Shares in the company dropped 1.3 percent at the news. Although the relationship was entirely consensual, it was deemed to be a violation of Intel's non-fraternization policy which managers must abide by, and it has been brought to light in the context of the #MeToo movement. The current chief financial officer, Robert Swan, is to become interim CEO until a full-time replacement can be found. See also: CVE-2018-3665: Floating Point Lazy State Save/Restore vulnerability affects Intel chips Spectre… [Continue Reading]
  • Researchers at RiskIQ have uncovered a scam app that seeks to steal information and launches advert clicking to make money for the scammers. The app is advertised as a battery saver. The twist here is that though it will actually do what it says and cut battery use, it does a lot of nasty stuff too. "Many of the millions of scams we crawl at RiskIQ are relatively straightforward, but every once in a while we find something unique," say researchers Aaron Inness and Yonathan Klijnsma writing on the company's blog. "Usually, scams point to other web pages, but in… [Continue Reading]
  • Office 365's dominant share of the online business tools market has made it a popular target for cybercriminals launching phishing and malware attacks. To offer users extra protection, email security specialist Vade Secure is launching a new solution that's fully integrated into Office 365 and offers filtering powered by artificial intelligence. Vade Secure for Office 365 is closely aligned with Microsoft's partner-first, cloud-first strategy. It's built from the ground up with a cloud-native, API-based architecture, natively integrates with Office 365 and runs on Microsoft Azure. It blocks advanced attacks using machine learning models that perform real-time behavioral analysis of the… [Continue Reading]
  • An Amazon Prime membership is a great thing, especially if you take advantage of all of its offerings. The free 2-day shipping by itself makes it worthwhile for many, but the Prime Video streaming service puts it over the edge -- there are so many great movies and TV shows available, you could easily forgo Netflix to save money. Following Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, the membership can even get you discounts on groceries -- only in some areas of the country for now, however. There are even more perks, so ultimately, Amazon Prime is worth the cost, even after… [Continue Reading]
  • Seeking to strengthen its artificial intelligence arsenal, Microsoft has announced an agreement to acquire San Francisco-based AI startup Bonsai. Bonsai already had Microsoft links, having been set up back in 2014 by two former Microsoft engineers, Mark Hammond and Keen Browne. The company specializes in "deep reinforcement learning" which can be used to teach autonomous systems within simulations, and the company sees this tying in with Azure. See also: Gamers waiting for virtual reality on Xbox are out of luck Satya Nadella speaks out against 'cruel and abusive' border policy and explains Microsoft's involvement with ICE Microsoft issues statement distancing… [Continue Reading]