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PCWorld



This is the most recent feed available as of 03/01/2017 at 02:57 PM

US surveillance law may see no new protections for foreign targets

Any reform of a controversial U.S. law allowing the National Security Agency to spy on people overseas will likely focus on its impact on U.S. residents, without curbing its use elsewhere.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires on Dec. 31, and some digital rights groups are calling on Congress to overhaul the law to protect the privacy of residents of both the U.S. and other countries. Congress will almost certainly extend the provision in some form. 

But a congressional hearing on Wednesday focused largely on the NSA's "inadvertent" collection of U.S. residents' data, with little time given to the privacy concerns of people overseas.

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Oculus Rift price cut: VR headset, Oculus Touch controller costs each slashed by $100

The dream of a $300 Oculus Rift might not come to fruition today, but it’s at least moving one step closer. Announced at GDC on Wednesday, Oculus is dropping the price of the Rift VR headset to $499, the price of the add-on Touch controllers to $99, and the price of the two together to $599.

That’s a $200 discount if you buy both the Rift and Touch. “It’s the equivalent of saying Touch is free,” noted Oculus’s Jason Rubin. “We’re almost at the one-year mark. We feel this is the right time to get really aggressive.”

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Google's new Playables ad platform lets you try out games before you download them

Google has unveiled several strategies this week to help game developers sell their wares to Play Store shoppers, but now it’s looking to expand those efforts outside the app store as well. A new initiative will let developers who advertise their games with Google also allow users to try out the games, without being directed to download or install anything.

Announced at GDC today, Google is calling the new service Playables. According to a report by MediaPost, Sissie Hsiao, director of product management for mobile advertising, outlined the new venture, which utilize HTML5 to create fully playable versions of games right inside of ads. Google says Playables will being rolling out in the coming months.

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Samsung's Evo+ 128GB microSD card has dropped to $40 at B&H

Wednesday is a good day to bump up the storage on your smartphone. B&H Photo and Video is selling the Samsung 128GB Evo+ microSDXC memory card for $40. This card has an MSRP of $90 and is also on sale at Best Buy for $60 if you can’t grab it at B&H.

This card is part of Samsung’s popular EVO+ brand. It’s a class 10, Ultra High Speed Class 1 (UHS-1) card with a maximum read speed of 80 megabytes per second and a write speed of 10MB/s. B&H says there’s also an adapter included for those who need to fit the card in a full-size SD slot.

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Microsoft's budget Windows VR headsets roll out to developers soon

A lucky few developers will be able to get their hands on a low-cost Windows virtual reality headset starting this month. Microsoft announced Wednesday that the Acer Mixed Reality Developer Edition headset will start rolling out to a handpicked batch of software makers starting the end of March, with more coming later.

This marks the first release of a Windows Mixed Reality headset, which Microsoft first previewed last year. The headsets are supposed to stand out from the crowd because of a lower price and their support for “inside-out” tracking that uses sensors on the device to determine a user’s position, rather than relying on external trackers to gather that information. That’s why Microsoft is calling them mixed reality headsets.

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Acer's Windows VR headset shows promise, but needs polish

Microsoft unveiled the first Windows Mixed Reality headset Wednesday, and an early look at a prototype version of the hardware shows promise, along with room for improvement.

The Acer Mixed Reality Development Edition headset will start rolling out to developers later this month, but Microsoft offered a demo of a pre-release prototype during the Game Developers Conference this week.

I wasn’t allowed to photograph the device, but it looked like an almost entirely black and less branded version of the headset illustration that Microsoft provided. The display portion of the headset felt slightly smaller than the full-sized Rift and Vive headsets that I’m used to, but I didn’t have any handy for a comparison. It was certainly lighter than those other devices. For a prototype, it felt solid.

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Everything we think we know about the Galaxy S8

Now that the dust has settled from Mobile World Congress, we can turn our attention to the next big thing: Samsung’s Galaxy S8 event. Samsung opted to skip its usual Barcelona unveiling, but it won't be too much longer until we can get our hands on the most anticipated Android phone in years.

After the Note7 debacle, Samsung is surely using the extra time to run a litany of battery tests on its new handset, because a lot is riding on this launch. Samsung has weathered the phablet storm fairly well, but it needs the S8 to be a major hit. And from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like it will be.

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20% off APC Back-UPS 600VA 7-outlet Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) with USB Charging Port - Deal Alert

The new APC Back-UPS BE600M1 provides instant battery power to your critical electronics when the power goes out, keeping you connected and available both personally and professionally. Designed specifically to enhance the features that matter most to you, including more runtime, more battery backup outlets, and a USB port for charging convenience, the BE600M1 is also smaller and lighter than the previous model. APC's BE600M1 offers guaranteed surge and lightning protection for attached devices.  When the power goes out, the APC BE600M1 will power critical devices including home networking equipment; allowing you to maintain your internet connection. This allows you to work productively, avoid the loss of valuable data, and safely shut down equipment. It currently averages 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 4,400 people on Amazon (read reviews), where its list price of $74.99 has been reduced 20% to $59.95.

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50% off Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition For Xbox One - Deal Alert

The Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition has everything fans need to live out their Star Wars battle fantasies, including Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Battlefront Season Pass. Rebels and Imperials alike will be able to expand their galaxy, with 4 epic expansion packs, including Star Wars Rogue One: Scarif. In addition, players can enjoy 30+ maps, 14 heroes and 14 game modes. The list price on the game has just dropped sharply down to just $19.99 on Amazon.  See the discounted Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition for Xbox One now on Amazon.

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Azure Stack's third technical preview arrives

Azure Stack, Microsoft’s hybrid cloud system, is getting close to release. On Wednesday, the tech giant unveiled the third major public beta for customers that want to test it out.

The new release brings a handful of additional capabilities for users to test, like support for Azure D-Series virtual machine sizes and deployment with ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services) to support systems that don’t have constant connections to Azure. Technical Preview 3, as this release is known in Microsoft parlance, will get a handful of other features over the coming months, including support for Azure Functions and Active Directory multi-tenancy.

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Beefed-up Twitter abuse tools let you silence those notorious eggs

Twitter's escalating its fight against abusive behavior once again by introducing new tools and officially announcing older ones

The company confirmed that it’s taking punitive actions against harassers, which were spotted in the wild earlier in February. When Twitter’s algorithms discover an abusive tweeter, the company will temporarily reduce that person’s reach. Anyone who doesn’t follow that user won’t be able to see their tweets for a set cool down period, such as 12 hours.

If anyone feels they get hit with a reach limit when they shouldn’t, Twitter asks for patience. “We aim to only act on accounts when we’re confident...[are]..abusive. Since these tools are new we will sometimes make mistakes, but know that we are actively working to improve and iterate on them everyday,” the company said in a blog post.

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Robots are just as plagued by security vulnerabilities as IoT devices

An analysis of robots used in homes, businesses and industrial installations has revealed many of the same basic weaknesses that are common in IoT devices, raising questions about security implications for human safety.

The robotics industry has already seen significant growth in recent years and will only further accelerate. Robots are  expected to serve in many roles, from assisting people in homes, stores and medical facilities, to manufacturing things in factories and even handling security and law enforcement tasks.

"When you think of robots as computers with arms, legs, or wheels, they become kinetic IoT devices that, if hacked, can pose new serious threats we have never encountered before," researchers from cybersecurity consultancy firm IOActive said in a new report.

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Samsung wants its Exynos 9 chip in VR headsets, not just smartphones

In a room cordoned off from the Mobile World Congress audience, Samsung was showing off untethered headsets that operate independent of smartphones.

These were prototype devices meant mainly to show off the processing power of its Exynos chips. Samsung already offers tethered Gear VR headsets, but now wants outside companies to use its latest Exynos 9 chip in untethered VR headsets and smartphones of their own.

Exynos chips have been more of an internal project for Samsung, and have been used in the company’s Galaxy phones. Just a handful of outside phone makers, like Meizu, have used the chips in their handsets.

But Samsung finally seems to be realizing that they have a great product with Exynos 9, a powerful chip that can drive a new generation of smartphones and VR headsets. The company is also looking to push its other Exynos chips to automobiles, robots, wearables, and if there’s an opportunity, Chromebooks.

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Google slams the brakes on Pixel Chromebooks

Google is pressing pause on its efforts to build Pixel laptops, leaving the in-house premium brand to tablets and phones.

The company’s hardware chief, Rick Osterloh, recently told reporters during Mobile World Congress in Spain that Google had “no plans” to create a new Chromebook Pixel, according to TechCrunch. For now, Google is leaving it up to third-party Chromebook makers like Asus, Acer, HP, and Samsung to fill in the gaps.

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BrandPost: 9 Key Payments-Gateway Considerations

Thinking of accepting payments online? Great idea. Online shopping is a booming industry across the globe, and U.S. businesses are predicted to earn $354 million in revenue from online shopping in 2017.

To get started, you’ll need to select a payments-gateway provider to integrate with your current payment system, build your online shopping cart and process your customers’ online payments similarly to how payments are processed in-store.

But with so many payments gateway providers to choose from, finding the one for your business can be overwhelming and confusing.

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Facebook turns to artificial intelligence to help prevent suicides

Facebook is using a combination of pattern recognition, live chat support from crisis support organizations and other tools to prevent suicide, with a focus on its Live service.

There is one death by suicide every 40 seconds and over 800,000 people kill themselves every year, according to the World Health Organization. “Facebook is in a unique position—through friendships on the site—to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them,” the company said Wednesday.

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The next HP Elite x3 preens behind a glass case at Mobile World Congress

The future of HP’s Elite x3 Windows phone made a quiet appearance at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The company publicly showed off new accessories for the current model, which is barely a year old and still busy setting itself up as an essential business tool.

Meanwhile, tucked into a glass case near the back of HP’s booth with no labels of any kind, a large phone, nested in the existing Dock accessory, spun slowly on a small platform.

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Kaby Lake is unleashed with Linux kernel 4.10

The guy behind the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, has built version 4.10 of the mainline kernel—nicknamed “Fearless Coyote.” Like any new kernel, version 4.10 has a slew of improvements for compatibility with a wide range of hardware. As I was digging through the commit log to see what’s new (a lot, actually), an entry on Kaby Lake caught my eye.

Turns out, if you’ve been running a desktop Intel Kaby Lake CPU with Linux, there’s a chance you haven’t been getting your money’s worth. Kernel (4.10) patches a little bug that may yield extra performance in some desktop systems.

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Ford thinks beyond cars for future mobility

At first glance, you may mistake the small circular machine at Ford’s Mobile World Congress booth for a Rumba. But you would be wrong. It’s called the Carr-E, and is one of Ford’s prototypes for a future personal mobility vehicle.

The Carr-E is the brainchild of Kilan Vas, a Ford systems engineer based in Cologne, Germany. Vas built Carr-E as part of Ford’s “Last Mile Mobility Challenge.” The competition asked employees to come up with an electric prototype that would make commuting easier in places where a car is not permitted or impractical. Carr-E was one of the finalists.

About the same size as a tire, Carr-E is meant to fit in the trunk of a car. It can carry a load of up to 120 kilograms at a max speed of 11km/hr and has a range of 22 kilometers, which should be plenty of juice to get you through the last leg of your journey. It’s also possible to put Carr-E into “drone mode” and have it follow you around, something that might be useful when you have heavy luggage.

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Nvidia slashes GeForce GTX 1080 prices, reveals new overclocked memory options

The massive “GeForce GTX Gaming Celebration” at GDC 2017 certainly lived up to expectations as Nvidia announced the long-awaited GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, a monstrous 4K-capable graphics card that outpunches the $1,200 Titan X for just $699. But as flashy as Nvidia’s “Ultimate GeForce card” is, the GTX 1080 Ti wasn’t the only story of the night. In order to clear the path for the new flagship’s surprisingly low price—and yes, $699 is surprisingly low for that card—Nvidia needed to tweak the GeForce GTX 1080.

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Intel showed how 5G networking will power VR and self-driving cars

Think about how annoyed you get when you lose your cell signal, and you can see why Intel is pushing for advances in the next generation of networking, also known as 5G. Sure, the company stands to profit from making chips and networking equipment to support faster broadband. Consumers, too, stand to benefit from a future where more things in their lives are connected. To get there, though, we’re all going to need more bandwidth.

At Mobile World Congress, Intel demonstrated several initiatives for developing 5G capabilities. Watching virtual reality’s often stuttery video can make people queasy, but Intel demonstrated how 5G could let you stream 8K VR content. The company also showed how self-driving cars will need a speedy 5G network to communicate with other cars and infrastructure so they can move safely.

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AMD Ryzen motherboards explained: The crucial differences in every AM4 chipset

With the launch of Ryzen processors, selecting the correct motherboard is both easier and more crucial than ever.

First, the good news: AMD’s doing away with the frightful hodgepodge of motherboard platforms to unite around the AM4 socket with Ryzen CPUs, Bristol Ridge APUs, and all other chips released in the foreseeable future. Huzzah! But there are a wide variety of chipsets available for AM4 motherboards, and each unlocks different capabilities in your PC, from USB support to overclocking to how many graphics cards you can install.

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How to identify and resolve double-NAT problems

The digital world is all about IP (internet protocol) addresses. Every device needs an IP in order to communicate on the internet or within a private network. Given there’s not enough public IP addresses out there for every internet-connected device (at least with IPv4), this little thing called NAT becomes extremely important. It stands for network address translation (NAT) and is a function provided by routers to enable multiple devices to access the internet via a single public IP address.

Behind each public IP, there can be hundreds of devices with their own private IP addresses, thanks to NAT. And almost all equipment that provides the NAT function includes a firewall to protect the private IPs and devices from public IPs and devices on the internet. Other network services are also typically offered, like DHCP (dynamic host control protocol) to give out the private IP addresses to devices that connect to the local network.

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India's Reliance Jio is blazing a trail to all-IP mobile networks

Fast-growing Indian mobile operator Reliance Jio may offer a glimpse of where all mobile networks are going eventually, to packet-based Internet Protocol infrastructure.

At Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest gathering of the mobile industry, Reliance Jio stands out by having none of the specialized 2G and 3G infrastructure that long distinguished cellular carriers.

Almost all mobile operators still have circuit-switched network gear in addition to IP systems. It came along with the 2G and 3G networks the carriers used before adopting LTE. Most are likely to keep older networks running for years, though some are moving faster than others to clear the decks.

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GeForce GTX 1080 Ti arrives: Nvidia's $699 'ultimate GeForce' card outperforms the Titan X

After months of anticipation, Nvidia on Tuesday unveiled the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti—a monstrous new $699 graphics card that outperforms even the vaunted Titan X.

The “ultimate GeForce” GPU, as CEO Jen-Hsun Huang calls it, will offer up to 1.6GHz boost clocks and an “OC” clock of 2GHz, the company said during the launch event in San Francisco. 

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti offers 12 billion transistors and 3,584 CUDA cores. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because the specs mimic those in the mighty Titan X Pascal that the company announced in August.

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The external shroud looks the same as before but Nvidia says it offers increased cooling capability and better power circuits.

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Smart teddy bear maker faces scrutiny over data breach response

Did a toymaker ignore warnings about a data breach? That’s a key question swirling around Spiral Toys, a company behind a line of smart stuffed animals that security researchers worry can be easily hacked.

On Tuesday, Spiral Toys said the breach, which affects 800,000 user accounts, only came to its attention last week on Feb. 22.

The statement is raising eyebrows. One researcher named Victor Gevers began contacting the toymaker about the problem in late December, when he noticed that a company MongoDB database storing customer information was publicly exposed.

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Mobile devices get a new spec to ensure quality 4K HDR video

The group that sets standards for 4K on high-definition TVs has established specifications for 4K and HDR (high-dynamic range) video on mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

The devices will be eligible for a “Mobile HDR Premium” certification if they meet minimum specifications tied to screen resolution, bit depth and a handful of other elements that define picture quality.

The specification was announced on Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

For users, this certification will ensure that 4K and HDR hardware meet certain minimum requirements. The UHD Alliance members include Samsung, LG, Intel, Dell, Microsoft and others.

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New FCC chairman: Net neutrality rules were a 'mistake'

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, passed two years, ago were a “mistake” that caused uncertainty for the broadband industry, the agency’s new chairman said.

The net neutrality rules, along with the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a regulated common carrier, “deviated” from the U.S. government’s longstanding light-touch regulatory approach toward the internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Two years after the agency passed its net neutrality rules “it has become evident that the FCC made a mistake,” said Pai, a Republican. “Our new approach injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market. And uncertainty is the enemy of growth.”

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'Meet' Google's new videoconferencing service for the enterprise

Google appears to have accidentally revealed its new group videoconferencing service for businesses on Tuesday, a week before a big user conference.

The service, called Meet, appears to be its offering for businesses that want to do group meetings over the Internet. According to a saved iOS App Store listing captured by AppAnnie, it will support high-definition video meetings with up to 30 participants. That’s an upgrade over the company’s existing Hangouts instant messaging and video calling service, which only allows meetings of up to 10 people.

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YouTube launches streaming TV service with 40 channels and unlimited cloud DVR storage

If you’ve been on the fence over cutting the cord, YouTube might have just given you a reason to jump over. The Google-owned company has announced a new live and on-demand video service, but it's only available in limited markets for now.

Dubbed YouTube TV, the $35-per-month service offers access to around 40 TV networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN. It also includes unlimited cloud DVR storage. According to YouTube, the cloud DVR feature will let you simultaneously record as many shows as you want and store them for up to nine months. Every YouTube TV membership also comes with six accounts, each with its own personal DVR storage silo, and subscribers can watch up to three concurrent streams at once.

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