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Microsoft is Making Windows 10 Passwordless

Slashdot - July 13, 2019 - 1:15am
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Comic for July 12, 2019

Dilbert - July 13, 2019 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

OurPact returns to App Store, reviving debates about Apple’s impartiality

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 11:15pm

Tim Cook on stage during an Apple event in September 2018. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Software may come and go from the App Store, but this week marks a return that could have some real significance for Apple. OurPact, an app that lets parents monitor and limit their children's use of technology, has returned to the App Store after being removed this spring. Its creators posted a social message to followers informing them of the app’s return to iOS earlier this week.

“A major thank you to our community for the outpouring of support throughout these removals," the OurPact announcement reads. "Every tweet, share, and mention helped spread the word and restore the future of iOS digital parenting. We look forward to developing family screen time solutions for years to come!"

OurPact was one of 11 apps providing parental control over kids' smartphone usage to be restricted or completely removed from the App Store in April. At the time, Apple claimed the move was due to privacy concerns. It argued that the apps in question used mobile device management (MDM) technology that could "[give] a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information, including user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history."

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Gartner, IDC agree that PC sales are up—but they don’t agree what a PC is

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 10:40pm

Enlarge / Does this Chromebook count as a traditional PC? Gartner says no, IDC says yes. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

We've been hearing for quite some time that the traditional PC is dying, but it's not quite dead yet. Business analyst firms Gartner and IDC tackle the numbers differently, but both agree that sales of traditional PCs were up—in some regions, way up—in Q2 2019.

While both firms reported market growth in year-on-year PC sales, their actual figures differed. IDC reported a 4.7% growth in Q2 sales, where Gartner only reported 1.5%. The two firms' numbers for US regional sales differed even more sharply, with Gartner claiming a 0.4% loss and IDC claiming a "high single digit gain."

We spoke to IDC's Jitesh Ubrani about the difference, and it turns out the two companies don't quite agree on what is or is not a traditional PC. IDC counts Chromebooks as traditional PCs but doesn't count Microsoft Surface tablets; Gartner does count Surface but doesn't count Chromebooks. The higher numbers from IDC indicate a stronger market for Chromebooks than Surface, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone with children in North American schools, where the inexpensive and easily locked-down Chromebooks are ubiquitous.

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Facebook’s FTC fine will be $5 billion—or one month’s worth of revenue

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 10:26pm

Enlarge / Thumbs down. (credit: Getty Images | Ted Soqui )

The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook have reportedly agreed on a $5 billion fine that would settle the FTC's privacy investigation into the social network.

With Facebook having reported $15 billion in revenue last quarter, the $5 billion fine would amount to one month's worth of revenue.

The FTC voted 3-2 to approve the settlement this week, with three yes votes from Republican commissioners and two no votes from Democrats, The Wall Street Journal reported today, citing anonymous sources. Democrats on the commission were "pushing for tougher oversight," the Journal wrote.

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Prominent anti-vaxxers lose New York court case over religious exemptions

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 9:35pm

Enlarge / Anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a public hearing on vaccine related bills in 2015. (credit: Getty | Portland Press Herald)

A New York State Supreme Court Justice on Friday rejected a request by 55 anti-vaccine families to block a recently passed state law eliminating exemptions to school vaccination requirements on the basis of religious beliefs.

According to the families’ attorneys, Justice Michael Mackey cited other court decisions that have held that states have the power to impose such restrictions to protect public health from the spread of infectious disease. Justice Mackey added that the families were unlikely to succeed if they tried to continue with the case.

Nevertheless, the attorneys in the case—Michael Sussman and the prominent anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—vowed to keep fighting. Kennedy’s anti-vaccine nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense, released a statement saying, “While this decision is a set-back, it isn’t the final decision. The case will move forward with more decisions to come.”

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Want to be more creative? Playing Minecraft can help, new study finds

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 8:32pm

Iowa State University psychologist Douglas Gentile's latest study suggests that playing some video games, like Minecraft, can have a positive impact on creativity.

Minecraft is one of the most popular computer games, having sold more than 100 million copies since its release in 2011. Claims that it boosts creativity have been circulating for several years, and now there's a bit of scientific evidence to back up that claim, according to the results of a new study published in Creativity Research Journal.

Co-author Douglas Gentile is a psychologist at Iowa State University. His speciality is studying media influence on children, including video games, television, film, music, even advertising. That includes both positive and negative effects, from video game addiction and a possible link between media violence and aggression, to how playing certain games can improve surgeons' skills.

"The literature looks like it's conflicted when it truly isn't," said Gentile. "There's studies showing games increase aggression, and others showing it can increase prosocial behavior. From the outside it looks like they must be good or bad, but that's not the way the world really works. This dichotomous thinking doesn't allow us to actually see what's going on, because we pick one idea and then we apply it to everything."

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Brazil is at the forefront of a new type of router attack

ZDnet Blogs - July 12, 2019 - 8:14pm
Avast: More than 180,000 routers in Brazil had their DNS settings changed in Q1 2019.
Categories: Opinion

Teardowns and benchmarks: All the details about Apple’s newest 13-inch MacBook Pro

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 7:30pm

As is tradition, repair guide site and parts vendor iFixit tore down the latest Mac to see what's different inside and to assess its repairability. This time it's the new, entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which replaced the previous Touch Bar-less low-end MacBook Pro in Apple's store last week. Combine that with now-public Geekbench benchmarks of the machine, and we have a clear picture of what the lowest-price MacBook Pro model is all about.

Let's start with the benchmarks, as dug up by MacRumors: the refreshed low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro managed an average 4,639 Geekbench 4 score in single-core performance and 16,665 in multi-core. Compare that with 4,341 and 9,084, respectively, in the previous bottom-tier 13-inch MacBook Pro, and you're looking at up to 83% faster performance in the new machine.

No surprises there; the previous one hadn't really been updated in quite a while. But it doesn't quite meet Apple's marketing claim that the new machine is "two times more powerful" than its predecessor.

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Right-wingers say Twitter’s “bias” against them should be illegal

Ars Technica - July 12, 2019 - 7:20pm

Enlarge / President Donald Trump speaking at the White House on July 11, 2019. (credit: The White House | YouTube)

A large collection of right-wing opinionators, meme-makers, and pundits joined President Trump and a handful of lawmakers at the White House yesterday for a social media summit to discuss the supposed "bias" that platforms such as Twitter, Google, and Facebook have against conservative voices.

In a series of tweets prior to the meeting, Trump said the summit would be "very big and very important."

The president, who regularly posts messages covered by most media outlets to his 61.9 million Twitter followers, 13.7 million Instagram followers, and 25.6 million Facebook followers, added that a "big subject ... will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination, and suppression practiced by certain companies."

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