John P. Mello Jr.

About the Author John P. Mello Jr.


Privacy

Oops… Some HP Laptops Shipped With Hidden Keylogger

Some HP laptops users came with a preinstalled program to capture the keystrokes of users, a security researcher recently discovered. The researcher, Michael Myng aka “ZwClose,” discovered the keylogger software while trying to solve a keyboard problem for a friend. The software is turned off by default. After Myng contacted HP about the program, it quickly released a patch to get rid of it.

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Cybersecurity

Quantum Key Distribution Gets a Speed Boost

A method for scrambling data to protect it from the super powerful computers of the future has received a speed boost from a team of researchers from Duke and Ohio State universities and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The method uses quantum key distribution to guard data from prying eyes. The problem in the past with the technology is it’s slow. Transfer speeds typically are measured in kilobits per second.

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Business

Major Players Roll Up Sleeves to Solve Open Source Licensing Problems

Four big tech players this week moved to improve their handling of open source software licensing violations. Red Hat, Google, Facebook and IBM said they would apply error standards in GNU GPLv3 to all of their open source licensing, even licenses granted under older GPL agreements. “This will make everything consistent with GPLv3,” said IP attorney Lawrence Rosen.

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Customer Service

Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites

Facebook on Tuesday announced that it was preparing a plugin to its popular Messenger platform that will allow a website’s visitors to chat with a human or bot without leaving the location. Customer Chat is one of a number of changes in the version 2.2 update of Messenger platform revealed at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The chat plugin will be available on desktop and mobile devices.

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Malware

Marcher Malware Poses Triple Threat to Android Users

A three-pronged banking malware campaign has been infecting Android phones since the beginning of this year, according to Proofpoint. Attackers have been stealing credentials, planting the Marcher banking Trojan on phones, and nicking credit card information. So far, they have targeted customers of BankAustria, Raiffeisen Meine Bank and Sparkasse, but the campaign could spread beyond Vienna.

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Smartphones

iPhone X Delivers on Apple’s Promises and That’s Plenty, Say Reviewers

Reviews of Apple’s next generation iPhone X have started appearing online, and for the most part, critics have showered praise on the product. “The iPhone X is clearly the best iPhone ever made,” wrote Nilay Patel. “It’s thin, it’s powerful, it has ambitious ideas about what cameras on phones can be used for, and it pushes the design language of phones into a strange new place.”

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Social Networks

Taking the News Out of Facebook’s News Feed Could Hurt Publishers

A new feature that Facebook recently has been testing in a handful of countries could hurt publishers everywhere if it should roll out globally. The feature removes users’ Liked pages from their main News Feed and aggregates them in a separate space called “Explore.” In the six countries where Facebook has been testing the idea, traffic to news outlets reportedly has dropped 60-80 percent.

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M-Commerce

Google Aims to Turbocharge Online Checkout

Google on Monday rolled out an online payment service that’s designed to accelerate the online checkout process. While the new offering isn’t quite Amazon One-Click, it will eliminate many of the annoying steps that can slow down the online purchase process and often result in abandoned shopping carts. Pay with Google uses address and credit or debit card information users provide to Google to speed them through checkout.

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Smartphones

Google’s Pixel 2 Earns High Marks in Spite of Dull Design

As Google’s new Pixel 2 smartphones get ready to hit the shelves, reviews of the models have begun mushrooming online. While the new phones generally have received positive grades, many reviewers found the their design boring. “The Pixel 2 hardware is ho-hum,” observed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. “Google didn’t take many risks in its design.”

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Web Apps

Apple Releases Retro Version of iTunes

Apple has made a retro version of iTunes available, 12.6.3, reviving features removed by the mammoth 12.7 overhaul it released last month. News of the release surfaced Monday in a post on Reddit by user vista980622. Apple was low key about the release, saying in an online post dated Sept. 23 that the retro version was for business partners who needed iTunes to mass deploy apps on iOS devices.

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Consumer Security

Android Devs May Follow Apple’s Face ID Lead

Apple’s use of facial recognition to unlock its iPhone X may open the gates for developers champing at the bit to bring the technology to the Android world. Face ID, which will replace fingerprint scanning in Apple’s new iPhone X, uses Apple’s TrueDepth 3D camera to verify the owner of a phone. Android developers have been working on similar systems, said Sensible Vision CEO George Brostoff.

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Computing

When Quantum Computers Come, They May Speak Microsoft

Microsoft has been working on a language for a computer that doesn’t exist. The company unveiled the language — as yet unnamed — at its Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. Part of its Visual Studio product, it will run on a quantum simulator and quantum computer. “Quantum computing is the next phase in computing,” said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates.

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Software

SQL Server 2017 Embraces Linux, Docker

Microsoft on Monday announced the general availability of SQL Server 2017, now with support for Linux, at its Ignite conference in Orlando. The company first announced its plans for the newest iteration of its database software a year and a half ago. This is the first version of SQL Server to run on Windows Server, Linux and Docker, noted Scott Guthrie, EVP, cloud and enterprise, at Microsoft.

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Smartphones

Apple’s Worthy iPhone 8 Models May Languish in X’s Shadow

Reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have been laudatory. However, the reviewers can’t seem to get their minds off the jewel of the Apple universe, the iPhone X. Both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are “awesome” and better than last year’s models — but iPhone shoppers who want to be part of the future will save their money and buy an iPhone X later in the year, suggested reviewer David Pierce.

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Gaming

Xbox One X: More Speed, More Muscle

Microsoft earlier this week announced the next version of its Xbox line of gaming consoles, ahead of E3 2017, now ongoing in Los Angeles. The new Xbox One X, which goes on sale Nov. 7 for $499, is slimmer than previous models and packed with power. With a 6-teraflop Scorpio engine, the One X has 40 percent faster graphics performance than its chief rival, Sony’s PS4 Pro.

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Health

New Stem Cell Treatment Offers Dramatic Burn-Healing Potential

A med-tech startup has developed a novel way to treat burn wounds. RenovaCare harvests a variety of cells, including stem cells, from a healthy area of skin on a patient. Those cells are then suspended in a water-based solution and sprayed onto the wound using the company’s SkinGun. “The sprayer allows us to have a generous distribution of cells,” explained RenovaCare’s Roger Esteban-Vives.

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Operating Systems

Apple’s iOS 11 Makes Siri a More Natural Woman… and Man

New voices for Siri and peer-to-peer payments are among the new features in the next version of Apple’s mobile device operating system iOS 11, previewed at the company’s annual Worldwide Development Conference on Monday. “With the new operating system, Apple has doubled down on many of the applications it has developed for iOS,” said Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research.

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Audio/Video

With Audio Focus, Apple Side-Steps Smart Speaker Competition

Apple raised the curtain on HomePod, its upcoming smart speaker, during Monday’s WWDC keynote presentation. The company also announced some desktop OS features for the iPad, and revealed its plans to become an augmented reality powerhouse. “Just like iPod reinvented music in our pockets, HomePod is going to reinvent music in our homes,” said Apple SVP Phil Schiller.

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Smartphones

Android Creator Launches a Phone of His Own

Essential, a company founded by Andy Rubin, the “father of Android,” on Tuesday pulled off the wraps on a new high-end smartphone. The Essential Phone, priced at $699, includes radios for connecting to all major U.S. carriers. The unit has an almost edge-to-edge display — there’s a bit of bezel at the bottom of its screen — that wraps around the 8-MP selfie camera at the front.

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Tablets

Main Surface Pro Improvements Are Beneath the Surface

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a refresh of its Surface Pro tablet-laptop computer. Although Microsoft said the fifth generation of the unit has been redesigned from the inside out with more than 800 new custom parts, the Surface Pro looks similar to its predecessor. “If you were looking for a major redesign of Surface, this isn’t it,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

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Social Networking

Leaked Docs Spotlight Complexity of Moderating Facebook Content

The public got a rare view into how Facebook tries to keep offensive and dangerous content offline in a report published Sunday. Leaked confidential documents exposed the secret rules by which Facebook polices postings on issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm, as well as such subjects as sports fixing and cannibalism.

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Tech Law

Data Watchdog Cautions Google and UK Health Partner

A British data watchdog has raised questions about whether it was appropriate for a healthcare trust to share data on 1.6 million patients with DeepMind Health, an AI company owned by Google. The trust shared the data in connection with the test phase of Streams, an app designed to diagnose acute kidney injuries. However, the sharing reportedly was performed without an appropriate legal basis.

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Home Tech

Amazon Adds Show to Echo’s Tell

Echo isn’t just for sound anymore. Amazon on Tuesday announced Echo Show, a new version of its popular smart speaker that comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen, 5-inch front-facing camera and dual 2-inch Dolby speakers. With its screen, it can show YouTube videos, access home security cameras, display photos and scroll lyrics as you listen to songs from streaming services.

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