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Microsoft Curbs Cortana in Windows 10
April 30, 2016
Microsoft has decided to restrict its Cortana digital assistant to operating with the Edge browser and Bing search engine in Windows 10. "As Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent [its] design and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana," said Ryan Gavin, Microsoft's general manager of search and Cortana.
With Latest Opera Browser, Everybody Gets Free VPN
April 22, 2016
Opera on Wednesday announced that it would add a free VPN service to the latest version of its browser. VPNs, or virtual private networks, add an extra level of security for Web surfers. Companies use them to provide secure communications for employees remotely accessing office systems, and consumers use them to block unwanted snooping on their online activity.
MIT Researchers Forge New Weapon for Code Warriors
April 20, 2016
MIT researchers have developed a fast, accurate system for identifying security flaws in Web apps written in Ruby on Rails, according to news reports published last week. Tests the researchers performed on 50 popular RoR apps uncovered 23 previously undiscovered security flaws. What's more, the longest amount of time it took to analyze any one program was 64 seconds.
Google Calendar Offers Life-Coaching Goals Feature
April 18, 2016
Google last week rolled out Goals in Google Calendar, a feature designed to help users achieve their personal goals. Users set a goal, such as working out more often, and answer relevant questions, such as how often they want to work out and the best time for them to do so. Calendar then will sift through their schedules and select the best time to allocate for the task.
Publishers Put Brave Ad-Blocking Browser on Notice
April 11, 2016
A group of newspaper publishers last week sent what amounted to a cease-and-desist letter to Brave Software, which offers the HTTPS Brave browser with built-in ad blocking and tracking protection. Brave has offered to let publishers make money off blocked ads by partnering with them "for a lower fee than they pay their third-party data-tracking partners," CEO Brendan Eich said.
Vivaldi Flaunts Its Plus-Size Browser Attributes
April 7, 2016
Vivaldi on Wednesday launched the first release of its eponymously named browser. Vivaldi is the brainchild of CEO Jon von Tetzchner, a cofounder of Opera Software. Aimed at the power user, Vivaldi 1.0 packs in features that were stripped out of Opera 12. However, "Vivaldi is not about a single feature," von Tetzchner said. "Vivaldi is more about a philosophy."
Blendle Bets Readers Will Micropay for Good Journalism
March 25, 2016
Blendle, a Netherlands-based news aggregation site that draws comparisons to Spotify, on Wednesday announced its beta launch in the U.S. Blendle made its debut with the participation of several major new organizations and financial backing from Axel Springer and The New York Times. The 5-year-old company, which recently expanded into Germany, has opened the beta phase to 10,000 users.
Google Says Sayonara to Chrome App Launcher
March 23, 2016
Google on Tuesday announced that it was shutting down the Chrome app launcher everywhere but in the Chrome OS. That means users who like to launch their favorite Google apps from a menu will have to settle for launching them only within the Google Chrome browser or through shortcuts in their bookmark bar. Windows, Mac and Linux users prefer launching their apps within Chrome.
Opera Desktop Browser Comes With Ad Blocking Baked In
March 11, 2016
Opera on Thursday announced that new version of its desktop browser will have ad blocking built in. Users can block ads in other browsers, but only through add-on programs called "extensions." With ad blocking built in, Opera's Web engine can perform the task better than extensions. "People care about speed in a Web browser," said Krystian Kolondra, SVP for global engineering at Opera.
Smart Email and the Path to Digital Immortality
February 8, 2016
I attended IBM Connect last week, where I checked out one of the most interesting new products you've likely never heard of -- IBM Verse. While there was a lot of discussion about how it better integrated social networking, what really intrigued me was the idea of putting cognitive computing inside an email client. "Cognitive computing" is the new way of saying "artificial intelligence."
Brave Browser Promises to Defend Users' Privacy
January 21, 2016
Brave Software, helmed by Brendan Eich, who cofounded Mozilla and created the JavaScript programming language, on Tuesday released the 0.7 developer version of its Brave browser. Brave is an open source project that promises to block Internet greed and ugliness, while improving speed and protecting privacy. Basically, it blocks ads containing tracking pixels and cookies.
Chrome Browser to Blaze With Brotli
January 21, 2016
Google Chrome users will get faster Web access soon through the Brotli open source compression algorithm, which has been rolled out to the M49 release of Chrome. That's in Canary -- which is designed for devs -- so it's not clear when Brotli will surface in the browser. It gives 20 to 26 percent higher compression ratios over its Zopfli algorithm and provides faster page loads, the company said.
Microsoft Puts Legacy IE Browsers Out to Pasture
January 12, 2016
Microsoft has ended technical support for the older versions of its legacy Internet Explorer browser, placing at risk millions of users who -- despite extensive warnings -- have not upgraded to the latest version of Internet Explorer or the free install of Windows 10. The support expiration means that customers using IE 8, 9 and 10 no longer will receive technical support and security updates.
Yahoo Ropes In Gmail
December 14, 2015
Yahoo last week announced that it had integrated Gmail with the online version of Yahoo Mail, just two months after integrating Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail in a major redesign. It also has integrated Gmail support in Yahoo Mail for Android 5.1 and Yahoo Mail for iOS 4.0.4. Yahoo Mail for Android 5.1 began rolling out to Google Play last week.
EFF Sues Google for Snooping on Students
December 3, 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Google has used personal student data mined from its school Chromebook distribution, and requesting an investigation and an injunction against the practice. The EFF also launched a campaign to educate parents and school administrators about the risks of student data collection.
Yahoo Tests the Determination of Ad Blockers
November 28, 2015
Yahoo earlier this week acknowledged that it has been experimenting with a neutralizing agent that can counteract ad-blocking software tools by closing off email access to browsers that use them. "At Yahoo, we are continually developing and testing new product experiences," the company said in a statement. "This is a test we're running for a small number of Yahoo Mail users in the U.S."
The New York Times May Get Technical With Ad Blockers
November 2, 2015
The New York Times Company last week indicated would take steps to circumvent ad-blocking tools. "As you know, the Times' digital subscription revenue stream means that we are less exposed than most publishers to the impact of ad-blockers," said NYT Company CEO Mark Thompson during an earnings call. "Nonetheless, let me make it clear that we oppose ad blocking."
YouTube Red Offers Paying Customers Ad-Free PewDiePie
October 22, 2015
YouTube on Wednesday introduced YouTube Red, a $10 a month ad-free channel. Membership extends across devices, and consumers can access the service from other YouTube channels or apps, including YouTube Gaming. Subscribers to YouTube Red will get a twofer -- it automatically provides access to Google Play Music, which also carries a $10 subscription tag.
Yahoo's New Email App Dumps Passwords
October 16, 2015
Yahoo on Thursday announced a password-free Yahoo Mail app that can manage email accounts from Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail. There was no mention of syncing with Gmail or Apple's iCloud Mail. Yahoo has been working to improve email security in the wake of repeated hacks of the service over the years, the most prominent a password theft that occurred early last year.
Skype Skips Monday
September 21, 2015
Microsoft has confirmed that network issues crippled the consumer version of Skype. Some users reported no success in logging in. Others managed to log in, but weren't recognized as being online. The network issues affected only the consumer version of the service, according to Microsoft. So Skype for Business was still in business. It's unclear when Microsoft expects to resolve the problem.
Truth May Be Wiggly in Wikipedia's Hot-Button Science Articles
August 18, 2015
Users should take extra care when exploring Wikipedia's science topics, because many articles on controversial issues such as global warming and acid rain have been targeted for editing by revisionists who reject scientific findings, new research has found. Due to its crowdsourced model, academics widely regard Wikipedia as a starting point for research -- a compass more than a map.
Report: Ad Blockers Are Killing Ad Dollars
August 14, 2015
About $21.8 billion in global ad revenues have been lost so far this year due to ad blockers, according to a report Pagefair released this week in partnership with Adobe. Consumers increasingly are opting for tools to shut down ads before they pop up. By next year, the U.S. alone should account for about $20 billion in blocked ad revenue, the report predicts.
The Pichai Era: Google's New Age of Innocence?
August 13, 2015
"A" is for new Google parent company "Alphabet," for Sundar Pichai's "ascension" to CEO, and for a slimmed-down search engine company that seeks to become more "agile." Consumers may wonder if that "A" also stands for "altruism." Pichai's work ethic and congeniality helped drive his ascension to the top, and he'll need both to redirect the mounting mistrust of Google -- his greatest challenge yet.
Windows 10 Raises Some Hackles
August 7, 2015
"Tablet view is showing saved porn images," wrote Reddit user "FalloutBos." "Woke up to wife asking why I set it to rotate all my porn images right on the desktop view. I have no idea [how] to shut that feature off and that computer is staying shut down until I do." That incident raised howls of laughter, but it points to one of the problems early users of Microsoft's new OS have reported.
Mozilla Gripes at Microsoft for Giving Edge an Edge
July 31, 2015
Mozilla CEO Chris Beard has published an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, calling on him to offer Windows 10 users an easier way to set their browser preferences. Beard characterized the lack of choice in the Windows 10 experience as "very disturbing." It appears to have been designed to force users into an experience Microsoft wants them to have instead of one they want, he charged.
Twitch Yanks Player Controls From Flash
July 24, 2015
Game-streaming service Twitch on Thursday joined Apple and other tech companies in swearing off its dependence on Adobe's Flash. The move away from Flash will happen in stages, but Twitch has promised its community that the gradual rollout will advance at a steady pace. Twitch began the transition to the more secure HTML5 and JavaScript by hybridizing its streaming video player.
EFF Launches Write-to-Congress Tool
July 17, 2015
Email has made communicating with elected officials easy, but a new tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is going to make it easier yet. Democracy.io allows you to send an electronic missive to your U.S. representative and senators with a minimum of clicks. Typically, you'd have to go to your legislators' websites separately to make your views known.
Flash Furor Grows Despite Adobe's Latest Fix
July 15, 2015
Three new vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player have been reported over the past two weeks, triggering a storm of protest and leading Mozilla and Google to ban the plug-in from their Firefox and Chrome browsers. "It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day," Facebook CSO Alex Stamos tweeted Sunday.
Google Creates One-Stop Privacy and Security Shop
June 2, 2015
Google has rolled out "My Account," a hub that lets users manage their Google settings, along with a new site that answers questions about its privacy and security practices. In addition to letting users manage their password and account-access settings, My Account allows them to review their security settings and activity. My Account also lets users manage personal information about themselves.
Microsoft Offers Devs an Edge
April 30, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday made its new Edge browser available to participants in the Windows Insider Program. Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president, operating systems group, made the announcement at the company's Build developers' conference, being held in San Francisco through Friday. Edge is available through the Windows 10 Preview, accessible to Windows Insiders.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.