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Now Twitter Efforts to Silence Trolls

Twitter on Tuesday announced yet another crackdown on abusers.

With the goal of making Twitter a safer place, it has come up with new ways to

  • Prevent the creation of new abusive accounts;
  • Make search safer; and
  • Collapse potentially abusive or low-quality tweets.

Twitter also pledged to persist in its anti-abuse endeavors, saying it would keep rolling out product changes, some more visible than others, and updating users on its progress every step of the way.

Twitter “is more vulnerable than other social media because people expect it to be their link to the world, and not just their friends,” noted Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“People use it for news and for access to quick gossip,” he told TechNewsWorld, adding that its open-ended structure makes it an easier target for abuse.

Latest Offensive

Twitter will identify account owners it has suspended permanently and block them from creating new accounts.

That might be a reaction to the creation of multiple fake accounts last fall,

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The Dozens of iOS Apps Vulnerable to WiFi

Dozens of applications for Apple’s mobile devices are vulnerable to WiFi snoopers, a security researcher reported this week.

Will Strafach, CEO of the Sudo Security Group, identified 76 popular iOS apps available at Apple’s App Store that were vulnerable to wireless eavesdroppers, even though the connections were supposed to be protected by encryption.

There have been 18 million downloads of the vulnerable apps, he said.

Strafach categorized 33 of the vulnerable apps as “low risk.” Potentially intercepted information included partially sensitive analytics data about a device and partially sensitive personal data, such as an email address or login credentials.

VivaVideo, Snap Upload for Snapchat, Volify, Loops Live, Private Browser, Aman Bank, FirstBank, VPN One Click Professional, and AutoLotto: Powerball, MegaMillions Lottery Tickets are some of the apps he assigned to the low-risk category.

Riskier Apps

Strafach categorized another 24 iOS apps as “medium risk.” Potentially intercepted information included service login credentials and session authentication tokens for users logged onto the network.

Strafach labeled the remaining apps “high risk” because potentially intercepted information included the snatching of financial or medical services login

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Wow Gaming’s New Virtual Reality Frontier and Personal Cargo Robots

Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that occasionally stops gaping at contentious Senate confirmation hearings and votes to peruse the latest gadget announcements.

This time around, we’re looking at some of the gadgets that perhaps got a little lost in the noise after CES in January but caught our eye, for better or worse. Among them are a 4-D arcade machine and a robot designed to carry all the things you don’t want to.

As ever, dear readers, this is not a review column, in part because these products have yet to reach the public sphere, but mostly because the chances of my actually ever using said products are slim. The ratings relate only to how much I’d like to try them, should the stars align.

Regular readers will know that I’ve played games my entire life. I hold deep reverence for the care and attention that go into creating these experiences, and I’ve rarely met a game I didn’t want to conquer.

Yet

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Info Anonymous Hacker Pulls Plug on Thousands of Dark Net Sites

Twenty percent of the Dark Net was taken offline last week, when a hacker compromised a server hosting some 10,000 websites on the Tor network.

Tor, designed to hide the identities of its users, is widely used on the Dark Web, which isn’t indexed by mainstream search engines and serves as a hub for illegal online activities.

Visitors to the affected pages were greeted with the message, “Hello, Freedom Hosting II, you’ve been hacked.” Freedom Hosting II is the server that hosted the Tor pages.

The attacker, who has claimed to be part of the hacker collective Anonymous, reportedly took Freedom Hosting II offline because 50 percent of its sites contained child pornography.

The original Freedom Hosting sites hosted as much as 50 percent of the Dark Web’s pages as of 2013, when it was taken down by law enforcement. A number of child porn prosecutions followed that action.

This incident supposedly was the first hack carried out by the attacker, who claimed responsibility in an interview with Motherboard. In addition to taking Freedom II offline, the person stole 74 gigabytes in files and a 2.3-GB database.

The database stolen from Freedom

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Four Ways To Increase Your Mobile App Reviews

You might be wondering whether reviews really matter when it comes to your app … Let’s jump straight to the conclusion and say yes, it does matter (and much more than people realise). This article will guide you through tips to increase mobile app reviews.

Online reviews, in general, are extremely important; they can make or break a business. Reviews are part of a consumer’s online research efforts, and the opinions of others can directly affect your business. In other words, reviews play a major role in people’s purchasing decisions, whether the opinions are about restaurants, movies or apps.

  • 70 percent of people trust local businesses more as a result of positive online reviews.
  • 80 percent of consumers have changed their minds about a purchase based solely on the negative reviews they read.
  • 88 percent said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 57 percent of consumers visit a local business website after reading online reviews, and another 15 percent call the business.

With respect to apps, these opinions and reviews also affect how visible they will be in the app store search results. Users tend to download the first app that appears in their search result and app reviews are one of the factors that decide

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Newest Technology Trends That Will Shape

In its State of UX in 2017 report, the uxdesign.cc team commented that phrases like “intuitive” and “human-centered” are disappearing from developers’ and designers’ vocabularies.

But I would argue that those UX traits aren’t disappearing; they’ve become requirements rather than perks. Saying that a product is “intuitive” shouldn’t be necessary because that should be a given property of its functionality.

If a user can’t intuitively utilize a particular function, it becomes irrelevant.

The merger of UX and functionality poses a tough problem for developers, especially those working on global consumer apps like Uber. Those developers have to cater to the needs of a group of users wildly diverse not only in age and ethnicity, but in terms of the languages they speak, the values they hold and the devices they use. Plus, developers must account for varying levels of connectivity and make design choices accordingly.

All of this means there is no magic bullet when it comes to advancing technology. Change isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but it’s still inevitable. Here are four technology trends that will define 2017 and how companies can use them to improve their UX:

1. Collective intelligence

As its name

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Mark Zuckerberg Finally Tries Out Virtual Reality Gloves

Consumers are still getting to grips with virtual reality and trying to decide whether to jump on board yet. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is keeping a close eye on what the research arm of Oculus is up to, with the latest R&D project being virtual reality gloves.

Right now, there’s the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch controllers, which allow six degrees of motion tracking for your hands. What the Oculus Research lab in Redmond, Wash., is working on is a pair of gloves that bring the full movement range of your hands and fingers into a virtual world. By wearing them, you’ll be able to type on a virtual keyboard and draw with a high degree of accuracy.

As the image above shows, these prototype gloves aren’t hooked up to the Oculus tracking system yet. Instead they rely on an array of trackers focused on the area where Zuckerberg is moving his glove-covered hands.

As TechCrunch points out, the VR gloves probably aren’t brand new tech Oculus developed internally. Oculus acquired Pebbles Interfaces last year, which already had a virtual reality hand tracking system in development. This is likely an extension of that tech.

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Here Six Tips to Building a Stronger Brand Using New Media

Branding has always been important, but it’s never been as essential as it is now. Thanks to the internet, your potential customers are being flooded with dozens — if not hundreds — of different buying opportunities every hour.

While quality, cost and execution will all play a role in a customer’s decision, trust remains the key way to win the sale. Branding is one of the most important things you can do to win trust, so it’s important you do it right.

Here are five simple tips for marketing your brand with new media.

1. Spend moments on execution, but months in prep.

For your company’s branding to really work, it will need to be more than just a name. A logo, tag line, tone of approach and color scheme can be important.

Consistency in these choices is just as important as the choices themselves. A decision to change any element of your business brand can undermine a lot of hard work, so be willing to take your time — months, if needed — to decide exactly how you want to present your brand.

Actionable tip: Consider creating a comprehensive brand uniformity guide where your branding elements will

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There FastComputer With Fussy but Fixable

FastComputer Linux is a disappointing experience that almost fails.

It is poorly designed, has little community support, and lacks its own home base and identity, all of which contribute to an identity crisis. Its home — on Sourceforge.com — lacks much in attractiveness, as does the distro.

The Linux OS offers developers and users choice among desktop options and OS standards. Linux’s greatest strength is its ability to provide customized distributions with a variety of features. Distros that offer users something new and more inviting are great finds. FastComputer is not one of them.

Linux distributions run the gamut — from very specialized and finely tuned to garden variety. Some are very innovative. Others are little more than look-alikes that offer no distinguishing features or benefits to set them apart from other options.

FastComputer Linux falls into the latter category. In its present iteration, this distro offers users an ordinary OS experience that leaves much to be desired. What should make it especially inviting is its ties to legendary Suse Linux developers. It falls far short of delivering, however.

Linux Heritage

FastComputer’s developer, Andrei Ionel, who is based in Romania, represents

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Why Yahoo and the Year of Living Dangerously

If there is a lesson to be drawn from Internet search giant Yahoo’s hellish past year, it is a grimly illustrative one: Never assume a cybersecurity disaster can’t get worse.

Last September, the Internet portal disclosed that it had suffered the most damaging and far-reaching data breach in history — only to then announce in December the discovery of a second, earlier, and even larger hack.

Since the discovery, the sale of the company to Verizon has been put in jeopardy, as Yahoo — which recently announced its name would be changing to “Altaba” — began a probe into the hack that is expected to take several weeks. We may not know the full extent of these hacks’ effects for years; indeed, it took years for the breaches to even be discovered.

What is known is that these travails were a long time coming. The Yahoo hacks were not acts of God, falling from the sky and striking an unlucky victim; they were the direct result of the corporation’s continual neglect of information security as a vital priority for doing business.

Systemic Problem

The tragedy of Yahoo’s troubles is not merely that

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Samsung Explains Note7 Failure and Promises will Do Better

In addition, Samsung will conduct a multilayer safety measures protocol on all its devices. It will cover the overall design and materials, as well as device hardware strength. Further, it will ensure that software algorithms are in place for safer battery charging temperatures.

“Samsung is doing the right thing. It took its time, but eventually it got enough instances of failed batteries in the lab to figure out what the technical issue was,” said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

“At the same time, Samsung has been relatively forthcoming about the results and taking responsibility,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The first thing Samsung had to do was make it clear that it understood the core of the Note7 fire, and it had to ensure that it won’t happen again,” noted Ian Fogg, senior director for mobile and telecoms at IHS Markit.

“It had to make creditable assurances to customers, vendors and retailers that this wouldn’t happen with future models,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The announcement today addressed both of those issues.”

Passing the Buck?

Although Samsung addressed what it will do to help avoid future

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Asus Tinker Board Now Joins Raspberry Pi

Just when you thought Raspberry Pi couldn’t be knocked from its market-leading perch, along comes Asus with a rival device that may give the Pi a run for its relatively little money.

Asus just launched its own low-cost computer, the Tinker Board, which is being sold in the UK and continental Europe for about US$57. Its features could interest open source enthusiasts in doing a little comparison shopping before deciding on a new device.

The Tinker Board features a quad-core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex A-17 CPU with ARM Mali-T764 graphics.

The device includes four USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5 mm audio jack connection, CSI port for camera connection, a DSI port for HD resolution, a micro SD port and contact ports for PWM and S/PDIF signals.

The Tinker Board supports the Debian OS with Kodi.

A power supply is not included.

Rival or Response

“The Asus Tinker Board is not so much competition as extension of the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, and deeper it shows an extensible ARM ecosystem as well,” said Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

The Tinker Board runs

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Here China Aims to Wash VPNs Out of Its Hair

China this week announced new measures to further restrict its citizens’ access to the Internet.

The 14-month campaign appears designed to crack down on the use of Web platforms and services unapproved by the government, and on virtual private networks, which can used to access those platforms and services covertly.

While China’s Internet network access services market is facing many development opportunities, there are signs of “disorderly development” that show the urgent need for regulation, the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology explained in a notice posted to a government website.

The coming “clean-up” of China’s network access services will standardize the market, strengthen network information security management, and promote the healthy and orderly development of the country’s Internet industry, the ministry noted.

In order to operate legally, Internet service providers, VPN providers, data centers and content delivery networks will have to obtain a license from the government and adhere to strict limitations.

Great Firewall

The clean-up also places severe new restrictions on cross-border business activities. It requires that government approval be obtained to create or lease lines, including VPN channels, to perform

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Tools You Need To Customizing a Computer

There are plenty of reasons to build a custom computer. While custom computers may initially be more expensive than prepackaged desktops or laptops, they can provide you with nearly endless possibilities, whether you’re looking for a top-notch gaming machine, a system for mixing music, or the ideal choice for developing Web applications.

A custom computer is the way to go if you want both performance and flexibility. Upgrading individual parts often is less expensive than buying a new computer, which could save you money in the long run.

Following are the essential parts you’ll need.

Processor and Motherboard

The component to start with is the processor, which will dictate your selection of other necessary parts, like the motherboard. UserBenchmark’sexhaustive list of user-rated processors is a good resource to help you decide. AMD and Intel are the top manufacturers, but I prefer Intel.

Intel is the industry standard when it comes to processors, so you can’t go wrong if that’s your choice. Its Core series comes in three families: i3, i5 and i7. The i3 series is good for average computing needs, while the i5 offers a little more horsepower. The i7

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Apple Now Formally Joins High-Powered AI Partnership

The Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society on Friday announced that Apple, well known for its culture of secrecy, has joined the organization as a founding member.

The other founding members are Amazon, Facebook, Google/Deep Mind, IBM and Microsoft.

The group also announced the final composition of its inaugural board of trustees, naming six new independent members: Dario Amodel of Open AI, Subbarao Kambhampati of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Deirdre Mulligan of UC Berkeley, Carol Rose of the American Civil Liberties Union, Eric Sears of the MacArthur Foundation, and Jason Furman of the Peterson Institute of International Economics.

They will join Greg Corrado of Google/DeepMind, Tom Gruber of Apple, Ralf Herbrich of Amazon, Eric Horvitz of Microsoft, Yann Lecun of Facebook, and Francesca Rossi of IBM.

Gradual Buildout

The group plans to announce additional details sometime after the board’s Feb. 3 meeting in San Francisco, including how other organizations and individuals can join. It also will address initial research programs and activities.

The board will oversee general activities of the Partnership on AI, and an executive steering committee

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Now BlackBerry, Microsoft make the Ever-Smarter Connected Car

a couple of interesting briefings last week, BlackBerry announced that its turnaround was finished, and Microsoft finally provided some information on its new connected car deliverables.

One strange thing was that after CEO John Chen excitedly pointed out that BlackBerry had displaced Microsoft in Ford, he then announced a strategic initiative to work more closely with Microsoft’s Azure platform on BlackBerry’s own market-leading QNX car operating system. That showcased not only the massive changes in both companies, but also the really strange way this market is evolving.

I’ll close with my product of the week: a very low-cost wearable smartphone display that could get you through your next dentist appointment or boring sermon.

BlackBerry’s QNX

With all the focus on the coming autonomous car and on BlackBerry’s old phone business, most don’t know that QNX, the operating system that BlackBerry acquired, is dominant in the car market, largely for car operations. To give you an idea, it currently is in 60M — yes, that’s million — cars. It is ranked No. 1 in telematics and automotive software entertainment, and its main advantage is that it just

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Three Teams Qualify for Tube Test

Elon Musk’s hyperloop dream began to take shape in reality last weekend as 27 teams, including six from outside the United States, participated in a competition to create the mass transit vehicle of the future.

The competition in Hawthorne, California, sponsored by SpaceX, which Musk founded, attracted teams made up mostly of students who created pods designed to run on hyperloop transportation systems.

In a hyperloop system, the vehicles, or pods, travel in a vacuum in tubes at speeds close to the speed of sound. To do that, the pods have to be suspended slightly off the ground, typically by riding on a magnetic field.

For its competition, SpaceX built a test chamber that was three-quarters of a mile long and six feet wide. The company capped the speed at which a pod could go at around 50 miles per hour.

In order to get to test its pod in the vacuum chamber, a team had to pass a rigorous 101-point review. Only three teams could do that: Delft University of Technology of The Netherlands; Technical University of Munich, Germany; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kind of a Drag

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News Tech Industry make Reacts to Trump’s Immigration Order

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Thursday resigned from President Trump’s business advisory council amid fierce blowback against the president’s recent executive order on immigration, and in the wake of reports that several major Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google, have been circulating a draft letter opposing Trump’s action.

Kalanick said he no longer would participate in the council after consumers railed against Uber for continuing to operate at John F. Kennedy International Airport over the weekend. The Taxi Workers Alliance in New York had gone on strike, refusing to pick up fares at the airport, to protest Trump’s executive order on refugee resettlement and travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community,” Kalanick wrote in a memo to employees. “I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda, but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”

In the memo, Kalanick said he was proud to work with Thuan

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What do you think Apple’s Outstanding Q1 a Fluke?

Apple had a good quarter, but if you look under the numbers there is a ton of trouble. It just dropped behind Google in brand value, and some analysts have predicted valuation will crater in a few months.

The iPhone 7 did well, but that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that its biggest competitor, Samsung, saw its phone literally go up in flames last quarter. The Galaxy 8 is coming, though — maybe sooner than anyone expects — and it looks really impressive. This suggests Apple’s one-up quarter is not repeatable, unless Samsung decides burning phones is a feature. (Just think of the marshmallows you could roast right in your car! Or “the Samsung S8 Burns Faster, Better, Hotter!”)

Apple has moved aggressively to get suppliers to cut costs — even going to court in an effort to move some of Qualcomm’s profit to its own bottom line (this rarely ends well). Apple apparently hit a wall on top line growth, even though it is threatening to raise prices. (Good luck with that, because raising prices in a very competitive market ALWAYS ends well.)

Looking back, the Steve Jobs cycle really worked only once.

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Linux Helped an Empowered Computer User

If you were to ask any of my friends, they could readily attest to my profound passion for Linux. That said, it might surprise you to know that hardly two years ago, I barely knew what Linux was, let alone had any earnest interest in switching to it from Windows.

Although a shift as dramatic as this may seem astonishing when considered in hindsight, analyzing my path from one push or influence to the next paints a more telling picture. It is with this approach that I want to share my story of how I came to not only use, but indeed champion, the Linux desktop.

My Security Awakening

Before embarking on my journey two years ago, I was just an ordinary Windows user. While I was basically competent and tried to keep abreast of mainstream tech news, I had an unremarkable knowledge of computers.

My attitude quickly began to change in light of the reporting on the intelligence programs of the National Security Agency in the summer of 2013. The breadth of the online monitoring Edward Snowden revealed was unsettling, but it also underscored just how little