Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google Sign In
  • Create Account


sincity's Photo


Member Since 29 May 2012
OFFLINE Last Active Private

#793956 Windows 10 preview beefs up do-not-disturb feature and sharpens Edge browser

Posted by sincity on 12 January 2018 - 04:43 AM

Microsoft has pushed out a new preview build of Windows 10 to fast ring testers containing quite a number of changes, including work on the operating system’s do-not-disturb feature, and further tinkering with the Edge browser.

Build 17074 beefs up the Quiet Hours feature which, when turned on, prevents the user from being interrupted because they’re busy working hard (or perhaps gaming hard), only allowing notifications to come through from ‘important’ contacts or apps (and blocking the rest).

With the new preview build, you can set your own schedule for when Quiet Hours kicks in – and customize the relevant priority list to make sure notifications from important sources always get through.

Quiet Hours also engages automatically when you are playing a full-screen game, or when you’re duplicating your display (so that you won’t be interrupted during a presentation). These are certainly nifty added touches.

Windows 10 Quiet Hours

Edging forward

Microsoft has made another bunch of improvements to the Edge browser, including an overhauled Hub view that displays more content, and is more intuitive to use.

Edge has also got the ability to save and auto-fill credit (or debit) card details on website payment forms, with Microsoft noting that card information is securely saved (if you request the browser to do so). Also, the CVV security number on the rear of the card is never saved.

Furthermore, reading ebooks in Edge – as well as PDF files and web pages in Reading View – has been much improved with new Fluent Design elements introduced to improve aesthetics and generally streamline the experience. It’s now possible to enjoy ebooks or Reading View pages in full-screen, too.

Microsoft also modified the Start menu to show links to the Documents and Pictures folders by default.


The Near Share feature that allows you to easily wirelessly share files between PCs in close proximity – it’s basically Microsoft’s take on Apple’s AirDrop – has also been worked upon to make it more reliable. If you found this feature too flaky before, Microsoft is urging you to try it again in this new build. 

There are a ton of other tweaks and adjustments in Build 17074 of Windows 10, like the ability to write with a stylus directly into a text field in the UI, so you can scribble straight into a search bar (which is enlarged when you tap on it with your pen to make writing inside it easier – as some of those interface bars can be pretty small).

For the full exhaustive rundown of changes, along with potential issues affecting this build, see Microsoft’s blog post.

Speaking of issues, note that this preview build has been blocked for PCs running older AMD processors. This is because it contains some further tweaks in terms of defending against Meltdown and Spectre, and the patches against these critical bugs have been known to cause boot failure in some machines running older AMD chips.

#790844 Microsoft foils Google's bid to smuggle Chrome onto Windows Store

Posted by sincity on 20 December 2017 - 03:06 AM

Google has tried something of a cheeky ‘workaround’, if you like, for getting its Chrome browser onto the Windows Store – it put an installer for the app on the store, rather than the app itself, although Microsoft has now removed it.

If you’ve not been following the saga of Chrome and the Windows Store, this needs a bit of explanation. Essentially, Microsoft has prevented Google from offering its browser on the store for a number of reasons, most of which revolve around security.

Windows Store policies insist apps shouldn’t jeopardize the user’s security, and tied in with that is the specification that any browsers must use “the appropriate HTML and JavaScript engines provided by the Windows Platform”.

Chrome falls foul of this, with Microsoft basically insisting that the browser must not use its own engines to get on the store – so really, it wouldn’t be Chrome any more.

So Google’s bright idea was to publish a simple installer for Chrome on the store, which allowed for the download and installation of the browser.

This made it past Microsoft’s security sniffer dogs – at least for a short while, until the software giant realized what Google had done. Whereupon, as The Verge reports, the app was yanked down and a Microsoft spokesperson commented: “We have removed the Google Chrome Installer App from Microsoft Store, as it violates our Microsoft Store policies.”

Fighting the fakes

Why does Google care that much about getting an app on the Windows Store anyway? Apparently, part of the reason is combating the raft of fake Chrome lookalike apps trying to take advantage of folks who are looking to install the browser from the store, as obviously these are potentially muddying Google’s reputation – and they’re arguably a security risk in themselves.

Also, Microsoft’s new spin on its desktop operating system, Windows 10 S, only allows apps to be installed from the Windows Store, to keep a tighter rein on software security. So the Store is the only way to reach users on that particular OS.

For now, then, the Chrome controversy rumbles on, and it seems unlikely that Google’s browser will ever make the cut for the store. Microsoft seemingly won’t budge an inch on store policy, and Google isn’t going to gut the browser completely in order to get in, because what it would end up with wouldn’t really be Chrome anyway.

#789640 Downloads advent calendar: get Ashampoo Disk-Space-Explorer 2018 free today

Posted by sincity on 11 December 2017 - 04:00 AM

The holidays are an expensive time, so we’re bringing you a special treat: a full, free Windows program to download every day until Christmas.

Behind the 11th door on our free downloads advent calendar you'll discover the full version of Ashampoo Disk-Space-Explorer 2018 – a fantastically useful tool that gives you a total overview of file distribution and disk space consumption.

Unlike Windows Explorer, Disk-Space-Explorer 2018 lists results based on file types, making it easy to spot those using more than their fair share of resources.

There are customizable filters to let you sort by certain file types (images or game files, for example), and the results are presented in bar and pie charts so you can see at a glance the proportion of disk space used by each file type.

You can also drill down through your file system for more detailed results. Grab Ashampoo-Disk-Space-Explorer 2018 free today and get a full picture of what's happening on your drives.

#789639 Banking apps (and one VPN) hit by worrying security flaw

Posted by sincity on 11 December 2017 - 05:06 AM

Security researchers have found that some major UK and US banks had vulnerabilities in their mobile apps which potentially allowed malicious parties to steal login credentials, although these holes have apparently now been patched.

Researchers from the computer science department of the University of Birmingham in the UK found that banks including HSBC – and also a VPN provider, TunnelBear – had flaws in their iOS and Android apps which allowed for so-called ‘man in the middle’ attacks to take place.

The issue pertained to the way that the apps conduct ‘certificate pinning’, which allows the software to specify a certain certificate that is trusted for a given server. The vulnerability was in the implementation of certificate pinning and verification used when creating a TLS connection, Threatpost explains.

The result being that it was possible to spoof said certificate and therefore pull off a ‘man in the middle’ attack, in which the malicious party can then obtain the victim’s login details.

Critical compromises

This is obviously particularly critical when it comes to online banking, and the affected apps included a whole range of HSBC apps (including the basic HSBC app, and HSBC Business app), along with Bank of America Health, Meezan Bank, and Smile Bank.

It’s also worrying that a VPN provider could have a hole in its software, too, considering Virtual Private Networks are all about making the internet a more secure and private place for users.

According to the report, all the banks have fixed the relevant vulnerabilities in their apps, but it just goes to show you that even software which really should be ultra-secure can still have holes in it.

While TunnelBear isn’t mentioned, presumably the provider has implemented a fix as well, you would hope.

The researchers concluded: “Clearly, the abundance of pinning implementation options available to developers has played a role in causing these flaws to be made. Platform providers can make this less of an issue by providing standardised implementations with clear documentation. To this end, Google have introduced Network Security Configuration in the Android 7.0 SDK.

“If app developers make use of these standard implementations, instead of rolling out their own or using 3rd party libraries, these errors will be much less likely to occur.”

#786356 This vulnerability could make your antivirus useless

Posted by sincity on 13 November 2017 - 07:20 AM

Antivirus software is, naturally enough, designed to defend your PC from malicious attacks, but it seems that some of these security apps are suffering from a worrying vulnerability which has been dubbed AVGater.

The flaw in question was discovered by security researcher Florian Bogner, and here’s what it does on a basic level: the antivirus software quarantines a malicious file as it appears on the user’s PC, but the exploit allows an attacker to manipulate the restore process from quarantine, effectively letting the malware back onto the system. Where it can subsequently wreak its own particular brand of havoc.

However, before you start to fret too much, the good news is that this can’t be executed online; rather the attacker must be physically present at the victim PC.

So obviously, for the home user this isn’t going to be much of a threat – unless you’re in the habit of letting strangers into your house to use the PC for a quick bit of net surfing.

But in a business environment, with plentiful PCs, visitors to the office milling about and so forth, there could certainly be some risk.

Patched pronto

Not every antivirus product is affected by any means, and Bogner has listed a number of affected parties who have already released a fix for their AV software: Emsisoft, Ikarus, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, Trend Micro, and ZoneAlarm.

A few more software makers have still to patch their applications, but the researcher doesn’t name any names, for obvious reasons.

On an overall level for all PC users, this is just another reminder that antivirus apps can suffer from vulnerabilities, just as with any piece of software. Indeed, last year, Tavis Ormandy – who is part of Google’s Project Zero team – found multiple flaws in major antivirus products.

As ever, always ensure your antivirus software is kept up-to-date to the latest version, and you may even want to consider running some kind of multi-layered security on your PC beyond just one antivirus app.

Via: Digital Trends

#785014 The best free data recovery software 2017

Posted by sincity on 03 November 2017 - 07:48 AM

Discovering that you've lost data without backing it up can be heart-stopping, but it isn't necessarily the end of the world. With the best free backup software and a little patience, there's a good chance that you'll be able to restore your precious data – whether it's an individual file or an entire partition. Perhaps most importantly, you will probably be able to do it for free rather than having to pay a small fortune to call in the experts.

It's important to install a data recovery tool now, before you've lost any files; installing one after the event risks overwriting the data you've lost.

There's no guarantee that your lost data will be recoverable, but this free software will give you the best possible chance

One of the best things about Piriform Recuva is the wealth of ways to use it: manual scanning, wizard-driven scanning, and via the context menu. For anyone who feels as though they need a little help using the software, the wizard on hand to provide guidance, but there is also the option of taking manual control of the scanning and recovery process. The scan can be customized to look in particular locations, or for particular types of files, and Recuva uses a traffic light guide to how likely it is that you'll be able to recover an item intact.

You also have the option of right clicking a folder or the Recycle Bin if you know you have deleted a file from a particular location. It's all very easy, and the results speak for themselves.

Upgrading to Recuva Professional for US$19.95/£19.95/AU$24.95 adds the ability to work with virtual hard drives, access to premium support, and automatic software updates. These are nice additions, but the free version of Recuva will be plenty of most users.

When it comes to ease of use, it's hard to beat Wise Data Recovery. Although this free data recover software doesn't have a wizard-led interface, there are no complicated configuration settings to worry about either.

Tracking down recoverable data is a simple matter of selecting the drive you want to check and clicking 'Scan'. Alternatively, you can use keywords to search for recoverable files so you don’t have to wade through quite so many results.

Whichever route you choose, recoverable data is presented in an Explorer-like tree structure that makes it easy to tell where it was originally stored. Like all the best free data recovery software, Wise Data Recovery uses a traffic light system to indicate the health of files (and therefore how likely it is that you'll be able to recover them intact, and there's a file preview feature so you can identify files that have been detected.

You can recover individual files, or entire folders at once, but selecting numerous files in several locations means performing several operations.

PC Inspector File Recovery goes further than many data recovery tools in that it will detect partitions that have been lost, even if the boot sector or file system has been damaged or deleted. This could be a real life-saver in an emergency, potentially helping you get data back even if your hard drive is not visible within Windows.

Beginners might find the terminology and design of PC Inspector File Recovery intimidating, and even some more advanced users may find the workflow a little confusing to start with. Take some time to learn your way around it, and you'll find a powerful data recovery program – but one that seems to get better results with FAT and FAT32 drives.

Finding recoverable data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free is very simple: select a drive or folder and wait for a few minutes while it completes its scan.

You can browse through the recoverable data using a Windows Explorer style interface and filter them by type or opt to search for specific files. Data recovery is effective, but the Deep Scan option is very slow, so you'll need to be patient.

The installation of this software is a mixed experience. The installer, importantly, advises not to install to the same drive that you want to recover data from because this could overwrite data and render it unrecoverable. It also, sadly, tries to enrol you in a customer experience improvement program, without explaining what this entails.

It's worth noting that the free version only allows for the recovery of up to 2GB of data, so it's not going to be suitable for all circumstances, but it will be enough to get you out of most sticky situations. 

Presented as a pair of tools rather than a single integrated solution, TestDisk and PhotoRec together can recover data from both lost partitions and files.

TestDisk takes care of the partition side of things. The fact that it's a command line tool with no graphical interface might off-putting at first. If can set this to one side though, there's help on hand to guide you through the process of working with your drives. TestDisk offers support for so many file systems, it should cater for most eventualities.

PhotoRec is the component for recovering files. It's available with a command lint interface, but unlike TestDisk there's also a GUI for less confident users. It may not be as intuitive as some of the other recovery software in this listing, but it's effective.

PhotoRec is cross-platform and can be run as a portable app from a USB stick, which means you don't have to install it on your PC and risk accidentally overwriting the data you want to recover.

#784593 One Windows 10 free upgrade path will expire at the end of 2017

Posted by sincity on 31 October 2017 - 07:49 AM

Microsoft has announced that the free upgrade from Windows 7/8.1 to Windows 10 for those who use assistive technologies will cease at the end of this year.

Microsoft has updated its assistive technologies upgrade web page to state: “Please take advantage of this offer before it expires on December 31, 2017.”

The software giant had previously said that the accessibility-based upgrade would not last forever, and that it would make a public announcement when the scheme was being brought to an end. And, obviously enough, this is that announcement.

Theoretically, you aren’t supposed to use the assistive tech upgrade if you don’t make use of Windows 10’s relevant accessibility features, but as no verification system is in place to check whether users do or not, anybody has effectively been able to use this as a morally dubious upgrade route. But, not for much longer.

However, another potential route to a freebie upgrade could still remain open.

Key capers

As for the other upgrade path which has existed since the Windows 10 free upgrade offer expired in July 2016, this is a completely unofficial route that Microsoft has never acknowledged or talked about at all. It involves using an existing Windows 7/8.1 product key to activate the installation of the new OS.

And, apparently it’s still a usable method of upgrading, as Thurrott.com observed at the end of last week.

However, Thurrott does note that you have to use a retail Windows 7/8.1 product key, and not an OEM key (i.e. an installation of Windows which came pre-installed on your PC when you bought it).

There also seems to now be some doubt as to whether the retail key in question has to be unused, but anecdotally, even keys which have already been used to install a copy of Windows have been known to work for some folks upgrading to Windows 10.

The question is: will this second route to a free upgrade also cease at the end of this year? We won’t know about that because, as we’ve mentioned, Microsoft has never officially commented on this particular avenue of upgrading. In official terms, it doesn’t exist.

But, if you do want to upgrade to Windows 10 via an existing retail product key, we’d probably do so before 2018 rolls around, just to be on the safe side.

Via Slashgear

#784412 Get a special Halloween edition of Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 free

Posted by sincity on 30 October 2017 - 03:20 AM

There are few things scarier than a sluggish, security-compromized PC, so Ashampoo is giving away a special Halloween version of WinOptimizer 14, exclusively for TechRadar readers.

With a single click. Ashampoo WinOptimizer scans your Windows system for issues including unecessary temporary files and other junk data. Not only that, it also checks for ways to optimize your PC’s performance, and identifies ways to protect your personal data in future.

Even more conveniently, Ashampoo WinOptimizer can tune up your system automatically, deleting temporary files when you close a program and optimizing processes on the fly. There’s even an optional Game Booster mode that terminates non-essential background services and applications to free up system resources for improved performance.

This special Halloween version of Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 has a spooky look, but will keep your PC running smoothly long after the cobwebs have been cleared away.

How to get Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14 free

Download Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14, and when you’re prompted to enter a license number, click ‘Get free activation key’. Enter an email address (it won’t be shared with any third parties), then either complete your user profile (handy if you install other Ashampoo software in the future) or select ‘Not now’. You can then copy and paste the key provided into the installer.

As an added bonus, TechRadar readers can upgrade to Ashampoo WinOptimizer 15 for just US$9.99/£8.74/AU$17.79 compared to the regular upgrade price of US$39.99/£34.99/AU$69.99. Look out for the offer when you launch the software.

Download Ashampoo WinOptimizer 14

#782356 Here’s what Windows 10 will look like with the Fall Creators Update

Posted by sincity on 16 October 2017 - 03:07 AM

Microsoft has posted a teaser video showing off the changes its new Fluent Design System will make to Windows 10’s interface with the release of the Fall Creators Update (which begins rolling out tomorrow).

A number of apps and menus will get the Fluent Design makeover, including the core applications such as Photos and People, with a good bit of tinkering seemingly done to Groove Music – somewhat puzzlingly seeing as Microsoft just pulled the plug on the streaming service (though it can still be used as a music player).

  • Maybe we’ll see some great Black Friday deals on the Windows 10

The other main point of interest here is the fact that Microsoft is only bringing a limited portion of the overall Fluent UI to Windows 10 with the Fall Creators Update, namely the Acrylic (blur/transparency) and Reveal (buttons being outlined, or icons revealed when the cursor hovers over something) effects.

More jazzing up of the operating system’s interface is in the pipeline, but to begin with these are the only goodies you’ll be getting. You can check them out in the video below.

Fluent finery

They seem like useful touches and certainly give the interface a more modern feel, although reaction across the internet has seemed a bit mixed concerning the Fluent Design System. But then again, it always will be – you’re never going to please all of the people, all of the time, particularly when it comes to aesthetic changes which are naturally more subjective.

As we noted at the outset of this story, the Fall Creators Update deployment process starts tomorrow, although you may have to wait quite a while before it’s available on your PC (several months in some cases, if past history is anything to go by).

As always with these big updates, Microsoft is conducting a gradual rollout to help spot any problems and bugs which might still be hanging around.

Via: MS Power User

#780211 Download of the day – ApowerEdit

Posted by sincity on 29 September 2017 - 03:41 AM

ApowerEdit is a brilliant video editor. It's packed with powerful tools to make your projects look and sound amazing, and it's so easy to use, even beginners will pick it up in minutes.

A one-year subscription to ApowerEdit usually costs US$47.94 (AU$60.17 £35.33), but TechRadar readers can sign up free for a limited time using the special offer code A9AAF-4A273-RC2HL-754E0 (see instructions below).

This offer ends on Sunday 1 October, so download and register your copy now.

How to activate your free VIP subscription

To get your free VIP account, download and install ApowerEdit, then launch the program. Select an aspect ratio to start a new project and you’ll be prompted to log in. Select ‘Log in & sign up’, then click ‘Sign up’.

Enter your email address and a password, then click ‘Sign up’. Enter the six-digit verification code that’s sent to your email address (if you can’t find it, check your spam folder), then click 'OK'.

Now click the account icon (shaped like a person) in the upper right of the window, click your account name and click ‘Activate’. Enter the activation code A9AAF-4A273-RC2HL-754E0, then click ‘Confirm’.

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around, plus special deals exclusively for TechRadar readers. If you have any recommendations, please send them to [email protected].

#779897 The best free alternatives to CCleaner 2017

Posted by sincity on 27 September 2017 - 03:30 AM

CCleaner has long been one of the web's most popular PC cleanup tools, but after it was acquired by Avast and suffered a serious malware attack, many people have begun seeking alternatives.

Running out of hard drive space is less of an issue these days thanks to the plummeting price of storage, but there are still many reasons to use a tool like CCleaner to purge unwanted files.

As well as simply being good practice, it helps to keep your drive in good health, and many of the files you have stored can reveal a great deal of personal information about you; you might want to consider getting rid of anything you don’t need.

We're not just talking about the documents you have manually created, but also those that are created for you in the background, such as cookies and registry entries.

With that in mind, we've put a host of PC cleanup tools to the test and curated our own list of the best alternatives to CCleaner.

1. BleachBit

A quick and convenient alternative to CCleaner, with hidden depths

BleachBit is open source – something that helps with transparency (the source code is publicly available) and also speed of development (users are free to make their own contributions and fix any bugs as they're identified).

BleachBit is a very simple CCleaner alternative, but that works to its advantage. There's a portable version available for those looking to build up a USB toolkit, and there are also different editions for various operating systems.

Although simple and lightweight, BleachBit certainly gets the job done. There's support for a massive range of programs meaning that BleachBit is able to take care of your privacy no matter what you use your computer for.

Everyday maintenance tasks are quick and simple, but there's also a more intensive Deep Scan option available that plunges deeper into your system files.

Outside of the main program interface you'll find a new Shred option in the Windows context menu. This deletes unwanted files securely by overwriting them several times so they're impossible to recover – a nice touch in an already excellent program.

Download here: BleachBit

2. Glary Utilities

A popular CCleaner substitute that promises to deliver faster performance

Glary Utilities is one of the best-known names on this list, and for good reason. This is a collection of tools which work together to help improve the health and performance of your computer, and part of this is the cleanup component. The Disk Cleanup tool can be used to free up space, while the Tracks Erase and Temporary Files Cleaner both help to maintain your privacy and security.

There's a startup management tool that can be used to take control of startup items to improve boot times, and a defragmenter that will improve the performance of your drive once you've deleted the clutter.

Browse through its options and you'll also find a file encrypter, file shredder memory optimization, disk checker, duplicate file finder, and many other tools you'll recognize from CCleaner.

You'll be offered an additional malware-removal tool while installing Glary Utilities, but it's deselected by default so it's easy to avoid if you'd rather skip it.

Download here: Glary Utilities

3. Wise Disk Cleaner

Convenient and well designed – a free CCleaner alternative for everyone

Whether you're an advanced user, or just someone who wants things to be as simple as possible, Wise Cleaner has something to keep you happy.

At its most simple, you can use the Common Cleaner mode to clean up after your web browser, Windows itself and the programs you have installed – this can also be run on an automated schedule.

Then there's the Advanced Cleaner, which weeds out additional unwanted files, and the Slimming System section, which strips out unnecessary components such as unused Windows installation file – a great way to claim back astonishing amounts of space.

Finally, when you've got rid of anything you can live without, there's a great defrag tool to speed up your drive (provided it's not an SSD).

You can create a desktop shortcut for easy access to the quick cleanup tool, and if you want a more tailored result, you can create a list of exclusions so you can ensure that certain cookies are never deleted.

Download here: Wise Disk Cleaner

4. KCleaner

Thorough drive cleaning with automatic scanning to protect your privacy

Despite the cheeky similarity in the names, KCleaner isn't just a CCleaner clone – in many ways it's a far simpler tool.

At its heart, this is a disk cleanup application which will scour your hard drive for files that are not needed and are simply wasting space. You can claw back megabytes or even gigabytes of space, and the program can clean up after a wide range of popular programs, including web browsers and messaging tools – notorious for leaving behind very revealing files.

KCLeaner can be used on a manual basis, but if you really want to keep on top of things you can have it start automatically with Windows and run a cleanup on a schedule. This is particularly useful for protection your privacy, and is supplemented by a secure deletion option which will overwrite deleted files with random data so there's no chance of recovery.

Download here: KCleaner

5. PrivaZer

Protect your privacy with deep scans and secure deletion of personal data

This CCleaner replacement is designed to protect your personal information from interception and abuse – hence the name.

PrivaZer offers both advanced and basic modes, and whichever you opt for, you'll be presented with a wizard-like interface to configure the software to your liking. After answering a few questions about the sort of cleaning up you want to perform, the one-click clean option will get things tidied up in record time.

For a more thorough purge of sensitive files, there's a Deep Scan option for local or network drives, removable media and connected devices. Confidential data can be overwritten up to 35 times to render it completely undetectable and unrecoverable.

PrivaZer gives you a great deal of control over your file cleanup, and we particularly like the option to run a scan whenever a browser window is closed.

Download here: Privazer

#777867 Windows 10 will get a privacy boost with Fall Creators Update

Posted by sincity on 14 September 2017 - 02:18 AM

Microsoft is set to further bolster Window 10’s privacy tools in the upcoming Fall Creators Update, having revealed new changes people can expect when they download the free update from October 17.

In a blog post Marisa Rogers, Windows Devices & Group Privacy Officer, explains the new features that will be added to Windows 10 with the Fall Creators Update.

Two of the major changes to how Windows 10 handles your private information occur in the setup process. During installation, users will be able to access an in-depth Privacy Statement that will explain the privacy implications of the data that Microsoft wants to collect, and what it does with that data.

Users will get quick access to this screen during installation

Many people won’t want to read pages of text, so Microsoft is also adding a ‘Learn More’ button to the privacy settings screen, which takes you directly to specific settings for location, speech recognition, diagnostics, tailored experiences, and ads in Windows 10.

As Rogers says, “We want you to have all the information about your privacy setting options readily available so that you can make an informed decision about your privacy and how your data is used.”

A new permissions prompt will appear when you install apps from the Windows Store

Better control over app permissions

The Fall Creators Update will also add privacy prompts when you download and install apps from the Windows Store. Once the app is installed, you’ll be asked to provide permission for the app if it wants access to important functions on your device, such as your camera or microphone, or if it wants to access the data in your contacts list, calendar and more.

This will work in a similar way to how apps need to ask permission to access your data on Android and iOS devices, so we’re pleased to see it implemented here. It’s worth pointing out, however, that apps you’ve already installed from the Windows Store will not have those permission prompts – you’ll need to go into Privacy settings in Windows 10 to change them. It also won’t affect apps or programs you don’t install through Windows Store.

The Fall Creators Update will also give businesses using Windows 10 Enterprise  a greater degree of control over how much diagnostic data is shared with Microsoft.

When it launched, Windows 10 was plagued by privacy concerns, and it looks like Microsoft is continuing to hand more control back to its customers over what private data is shared, while being more transparent over what it does with the information. Will it be enough to curtail the criticisms? Time will tell.

#777542 Forget everything you think you know about passwords

Posted by sincity on 11 September 2017 - 08:45 AM

You log into your office PC or email account and a message pops up: it’s time to change your password. You roll your eyes, change ‘c0mpanyN4me13’ to ‘c0mpanyN4me14’, are rewarded with a green tick, and go about your business.

Deep down you know it’s not good practice, but the rules enforced by many online services make it the only way to create passwords you’ll actually remember.

Many of these regulations derive from a set of recommendations published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2003. They were intended to make users’ passwords harder to guess, but did so at the expense of user friendliness. 

Many online services only permit short passwords and restrict use of special characters

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, former NIST technology manager Bill Burr admitted he now regrets much of the advice the organization gave on creating strong logins.

At the time, he recommended picking combinations of characters that were as close to random as possible and changing them regularly, thereby making them harder to guess. That wasn’t totally beyond the realms of possibility 14 years ago, but now that we all rely on password-protected online services, remembering unique random logins for each one is simply impossible. 

“Well it frustrates everybody, me included," Burr told CBS News. “I have maybe 200 passwords. I can't remember all those, obviously.”

We're only human

Last month, NIST updated its guidelines for designers to make password authentication systems more user-friendly. The new recommendations include passwords that don’t expire arbitrarily, can be up to 64 characters long, and can include any printable characters, including spaces.

”It was surprising to see the news come up so quickly,” Steve Schultz, senior director of product at LastPass, told TechRadar. “We hadn’t expected the kind of coverage it got, but for the LastPass team, it was very much in line with what we’ve been educating our customers to do for years.”

LastPass is a password management tool that stores users’ login details in a secure vault protected by a master password. It can generate a unique, strong password for all of your accounts and complete login forms automatically so you don’t need to remember them.

A password manager and generator like LastPass means you don't have to remember dozens of unique logins

“We had a blog post – I think it was from 2013 – where we recommended using a long passphrase that would be easier to remember,” said Schultz. “Humans are not good at remembering 64-character alphanumeric passwords, and the new guidelines completely fit with our previous recommendations.”

LastPass doesn’t plan to make any changes to its password manager in response to the new NIST guidelines, but Schultz recommends that online service providers pay particular attention to the new advice on password length.

“I use hundred-character passwords with numbers, letters and special characters, and I don’t re-use passwords because I want them to be as secure as possible,“ he said. “There are a lot of sites that don’t support that, and we would recommend that they take a look at the new guidelines.“

The more, the merrier

For even better security, the new NIST guidelines recommend using multi-factor authentication for sensitive accounts. This means providing another form of verification, such as a code from a smartphone app, in addition to a regular password. 

Android and iOS devices already support multi-factor authentication, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Schultz echoes this advice. “With the proliferation of cloud services and devices since the original guidelines were written, password security will only take you so far. Two-factor authentication will stop security breaches in their tracks.”

#777234 The best free video editor for Android 2017

Posted by sincity on 08 September 2017 - 07:39 AM

It's easy to shoot videos on your phone, but getting them looking good is much trickier. That's why you need a video editing app. With one of these handy editors on your phone, you can tweak your clips to perfection before uploading them to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.

Video editing apps are so convenient, it's no surprise that the Google Play Store is packed with them. That's why we've picked out the very best ones, and put them through their paces so you can pick the one that suits the way you shoot.

All of these video editing apps are free to download, and we've noted those that include in-app purchases.

1. FilmoraGo

A beautifully designed video editor for Android that delivers amazing results

FilmoraGo for Android is as powerful as many desktop video editors, and works in much the same way. Start by selecting video clips and photos from your device, Facebook or Google, then add them to your pool of resources. The number of media files in your pool will be shown in a tab on the left.

Tap ‘Next’ to access the main editing screen. You’ll see previews of all your images and video clips along the bottom of the screen. Although not labelled as such, this is a timeline, and you can drag each file to rearrange them. 

There are ready-made themes to give your video a new look. You can try them out with a single tap, and they're fun if you’re planning to upload your creation to Facebook.

If you have multiple video clips or images, you can apply fun transitions to switch between them, and although no way to split video clips into sections, you can crop the video, change the aspect ratio and add subtitles. You’ll also find all the usual color optimization options (brightness, contrast, saturation etc), plus speed adjustment.

One of FilmoraGo's most impressive features is picture-in-picture, which lets you insert a second video or still photo, adjust its size and position it wherever you like over the first one. You can even decide when it appears and apply a transition, so it spins, slides or fades into place.

Your video won’t be watermarked when it’s exported, but FilmoraGo will add a brief wordmark at the end. Once it’s processed, the finished video can be sent straight to any social media app you have installed, shared via email, or saved to your device.

FilmoraGo is a remarkable free video editor for Android, packed with more features than many desktop tools. There are no ads, and although FilmoraGo offers in-app purchases for additional filters and effects, the store isn’t obtrusive. Highly recommended.

Download here: FilmoraGo

2. Adobe Premiere Clip

A smart video editing app from the industry leader in creative software

Before you can use Adobe Premiere Clip, you'll need to sign up for a free Adobe ID if you don’t already have one. It takes a moment, but once it’s done you can use the same login details for all Adobe apps and desktop software. There’s a social element that lets you watch other users’ videos, or you can dive straight into making your own.

When you open a video, there are two options: Automatic and Freeform. Automatic overlays a piece of music, and makes cuts to your video to match the chord changes. This works fine for longer videos that don’t rely on narration, but for shorter pieces or those requiring greater control, you’ll need to use Freeform. 

Here you can create a timeline from several video clips and images, trim them size, adjust the speed, select a new soundtrack, and apply filters. The focus here is on smart, professional looking videos rather than fun or silly clips to share with your family on Facebook, so there are no stickers or cheesy animations available. Instead you get a selection of tasteful fade and motion options. 

Your finished video won’t be watermarked unless you decide to make your own (you’ll find the tool in the Preferences menu), and when you’re done you can save it to your device, share it on Creative Cloud (if you have an account), publish it, or post it on YouTube or Twitter. It’s a shame there aren’t more social media options, but since this tool is aimed at the more serious end of the spectrum. It makes sense.

Adobe Premiere Clip only works in portrait mode unless you’re watching a video, but the layout makes better use of the available space than many other editing apps available for Android.

Download here: Adobe Premiere Clip

3. VivaVideo

If you're after something fun, VivaVideo's special effects are perfect

VivaVideo lets you edit existing videos or capture clips directly within the app. The workflow is much like FilmoraGo’s – open (or record) a clip, then trim it and add it to a timeline. 

Like Adobe Premiere Clip, VivaVideo only works in portrait mode – not our preferred choice for videos – and its interface doesn't make such good use of the space. That said, it's easy to navigate, and every tool is clearly labelled.

There are various themes to choose from (a wider selection than you'll find in FilmoraGo), and even more are available as in-app purchases. We’re particularly fond of the Parkour filter, which adds dramatic spins, wipes and random zooms to your clips, and is great fun for spicing up dull footage in an ironic sort of way.

The FX options and animated stickers are also fun, and although there are no manual controls for contrast, saturation and brightness, there are lots of presets – many of which are designed to flatter portraits.

Videos are watermarked with the app’s name, though this is fairly discreet, and there’s a five-minute limit on exported clips. You can lift these limitations by purchasing a subscription for £1.79 (about US$2.50, AU$3) per month or £9.49 (about US$12, AU$15) per year. That might not sound like much, but when superb apps like Adobe Premier Clip and Wondershare Filmora Go are available free, it’s significant.

Download here: VivaVideo

4. KineMaster

A smart video editing app, though the free version is a little limited

KineMaster offers two options: Empty Project and Project Assistant. Using the Project Assistant, begin by selecting all the video clips and photos you want to include, then choose whether you want to use a theme (the standard options are On Stage, Travel and Serene).

Next, add any text you’d like to appear during the video (titles or captions) and finish your project by adding some audio. There are a few samples included with the free app, with many more available as in-app purchases. You can also use MP3 files from your device.

You might be happy with the results as they are, but if not you can add further effects and media using KineMaster’s advanced video editing options. These are presented in an attractive and intuitive wheel menu, and include the ability to add more media, record a voiceover, apply new special effects and insert more text. You can also record new video by tapping the red button in the center of the control wheel.

Delving into the project settings lets you choose how long photos are displayed, apply audio and video fades, and adjust crop and pan options.

When you’re done, add the video to your projects and you’ll be able to watch it, save it to your device or Dropbox, or share it via your preferred social media app. KineMaster will add a small watermark to the top right of your video.

You can remove this, and unlock all the premium music and other assets by upgrading to the pro version for £2.91 (about US$4, AU$5) per month, or £23.25 (about US$30, AU$40) per year. It’s quite a steep price for a mobile app, so we recommend trying the other options here so you can decide whether it’s one you’re willing to pay.

Download here: KineMaster

5. Movie Maker Filmmaker YouTube & Instagram

A great tool for jazzing up videos before sharing them on Instagram

When you fire up Movier Maker Filmmaker YouTube & Instagram, you’ll be prompted to create a new ALIVE account, or log in with Facebook. As with Adobe Premiere Clip, this is so you can use the app’s social video-sharing element, which lets you create a custom profile and follow other users – much like Instagram.

To start making a new video (called a Video Story in the app), tap the plus icon and select the clips and still photos you want to include. The app will scan your document folders for you, so there’s no need to spend time tracking down your media files. The editor itself runs in portrait mode, and targets the fun/silly end of the market with stickers and explosion effects. 

Your video will be exported in a square format, making it a good choice for Instagram (as the app’s name suggests), but not for Facebook or other sites. There are no advanced tools for manual color adjustment, but as with KineMaster, you get a generous selection of filters.

There’s a good selection of background music to experiment with (the Determined option will turn a video of your pet frolicking in the garden into a dramatic movie trailer), or you can add a song from your device. 

When you’re done, add a description and some hashtags (#FeatureMe and #VLOG are included automatically) and either sit through a couple of ads, or dismiss them. The video will be processed and added to your ALIVE account, where you can download it or share it to your preferred social network. 

Movie Maker Filmmaker YouTube & Instagram is a stylish free video editor for Android, but we’re not too keen on the default square output format and the ads are a little intrusive.

Download here: Movie Maker Filmmaker YouTube & Instagram

#777127 VPN usage is skyrocketing right now in the UK and the US

Posted by sincity on 07 September 2017 - 07:06 AM

VPNs have now become mainstream at least in the US according to a new survey that compared VPN usage in both the UK and US.

Wombat Security surveyed 1,000 users in both countries to gauge how recent developments such as the Investigatory Powers Act in the UK and new ISP rights in the US have affected consumer opinion regarding using a VPN to access the Internet.

The results of the survey revealed that 65 per cent of respondents in the US had used a VPN on either a corporate or a personal device, while only 44 per cent of those surveyed in the UK said that they had used a VPN (including free VPNs).

23 per cent of UK respondents said that though they knew what a VPN was, they still chose not to use one which is also higher than 16 per cent in the US. 


Surprisingly as many as 33 per cent of UK respondents did not even know what a VPN was compared to 19 per cent in the US.

The Internet is not private nor is it a safe space and whether you like it or not your activities online will be visible to others without the added protection and security of a VPN.

Some of the most popular uses for a VPN include staying safe on public Wi-Fi, shopping online securely, protecting oneself against government snooping or ISP tracking, avoiding having your bandwidth throttled now that net neutrality has been revoked and removing geo-restrictions and blocks when traveling.

Recent events worldwide and increased cyber threats are quickly turning VPNs into a household name among both businesses and consumers.