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BBB says scammers posing as computer technical support are stealing millions from Americans

Scammers are successfully using phone calls, emails and pop-up messages on computer screens to convince American consumers that their computers are infected with phony viruses or malware, warns a new report by the Better Business Bureau.

Scams involving computer technical support aren’t new, but they continue to be widespread. Americans forked over more than $21 million to such schemes in the first nine months of this year, according to the FBI.

The scammers often claim to be with Microsoft, and they catch consumers by surprise, said Michelle Corey, president of the St. Louis BBB.

“It looks real. It looks like it’s coming from Microsoft,’’ she said. “There’s a pop-up. There’s a siren that goes off. And you’re immediate reaction is, ‘Oh my goodness. I’m going to lose everything in my computer system if I don’t respond to what they’re telling me to do.’ ’’

Her best advice to consumers is to stop and take a breath before you do anything.

Chances are, the pop-up window that just froze your computer screen with a dire warning about malware, is a scam. And you can often get rid of the message by rebooting your computer, she said.

“Bob” the tech guy who claims to be with Microsoft but sounds like he’s calling from an offshore call center, probably is. Nearly 85 percent of the fraudsters are calling from India, according to the report.

And whatever you do, don’t let someone have access to your computer to “fix” it, unless you have verified that they are who they say are.

Five Better Business Bureau offices, including St. Louis, teamed with the Federal Trade Commission and federal prosecutors to produce the report, which documents a variety of tech support schemes.

 

Sherry Thomas of St. Louis told her story at a news conference Monday morning.

She said a warning message popped up on the screen of her new laptop this year, and an automated warning sounded. Her computer froze, so she called the phone number on the pop-up message. A “technician” charged her $179 to fix her computer.

“It scared me to death because the computer was brand new — and I panicked,’’ she said. “Had I known that all you had to do was shut down the computer. But I didn’t know.’’

Thomas discovered that she had been scammed when she took her laptop to the computer store where she had purchased it and was told there was nothing wrong with it.

The scammers contacted her a second time, promising to refund the fee. The representative then claimed to have accidentally deposited $2,000 into her bank account instead of $179, and asked Thomas to buy iTunes gift cards to return the overpayment. This time, Thomas contacted the St. Louis BBB.

Thomas said she hopes her case will serve as a lesson to others.

“I wanted to let the people know what is going on out there,’’ she said. “I mean some people may say, ‘How did she let that happen?’ It happens. It can happen to the best of us.’’

Here’s more from the BBB report on how the fraud works:

* The scammers charge an average of $290 for their bogus services.

* They use four techniques: pop-up ads that might freeze your computer screen; phone calls from so-called “technicians” who claim to have detected problems with your computer; emails that include ransom-ware attachments; sponsored links that show up when you search for “technical support” on the internet.

* Although the tech scam targets Americans, less than 10 percent of the fraudsters operate in the United States. The scam is also prevalent in Australia and Singapore.

* The Microsoft Corporation reports that it receives more than 12,000 complaints every month about the scams.

* The study found that millennials fall victim to the scam more frequently than older Americans, but older Americans are more likely to report it.

What to do:

* Don’t trust or buy services from unsolicited phone calls, emails or pop-up ads.

* Never give control of your computer to a third party, unless you have confirmed that the person does work with a legitimate computer support team.

* Be careful when typing the address for a company website. Incorrect web addresses can trigger bogus pop-up ads. Anything that comes from “Micorsoft,” for example, is probably a scam.

* Don’t panic. Scammers want you to make a hasty decision. If your computer has been compromised, contact a trusted tech support company.

* If a caller claims to work for a reputable company, ask them to tell you their name or their employee ID, and in which department they work. Then look up and call that company’s official customer service line and ask to be directed to that employee. Do not use a phone number provided to you by the caller.

* Use quality antivirus software. Make sure you are running the latest version of the software.

* If you have been scammed, report it to the FTC or BBB.

* Read the entire report “Pop-ups and imposters: A Better Business Bureau Study of the Growing Worldwide Problem of Computer Tech Support Scams.

Follow Mary Delach Leonard on Twitter: @marydleonard

Agencies Warn of Phony Computer Tech Support Groups Taking Advantage of Shoppers – NBC 5 Dallas

Tech support fraud is a growing issue, experts say.

The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission say they’ve been studying phony computer tech support groups who take advantage of people.

This happens when crooks put software on your computer, saying it’s infected with a virus, and then they want money to fix it.

People are getting pop-up windows that play messages asking you to call a certain number and pay money to get your computer repaired.

Woman Fights Error on Phone Bill, Even Into Labor

A woman refused to get off the phone with ATT until and issue with her bill was resolved — even as she went into labor.

(Published Monday, Dec. 11, 2017)

The BBB and FTC are working together to help keep track of the issues. They warn that companies won’t ask you to call a phone number to unlock your computer.

MORE:If you’d like more information from the BBB on how to protect yourself from this issue, click here.

Citrix XenDesktop now offers better support for Continuum for Windows 10

by Surur

 

Tech support scams hitting more computer users online

For consumers who turn over control of their computers to remote technicians online, the fix may already be in.

A growing number of remote tech support scams are popping up, in which users facing “crashed” computers give online access for repairs that do nothing more than drain their wallets, according to a study released Monday by the Better Business Bureau.

“We’re getting a lot more calls on these types of scams,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. “But what’s really alarming is most consumers don’t realize they’ve been scammed.”

For many users, the scams begin with pop-up warnings saying their computers have been infected by viruses or malware. The computers may lock up, issue piercing alarms or even mimic the dreaded “blue screen of death” that appears when a computer has crashed completely.

Samsung’s Game Live Android App Gets Galaxy Note 8 Support

ceeac_4 Samsung's Game Live Android App Gets Galaxy Note 8 Support

Apple’s iPhone X finally gets support from major video app VLC

VLC for iOS has been treated to a much-requested update on the App Store, bundling compatibility for the iPhone X’s ultra-tall screen, as well as support for High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) 4K videos.

The upgrade also transports a number of miscellaneous bug fixes and stability improvements, including a patch for a nasty glitch that caused VLC to spontaneously crash while playing content on units running either iOS 7 or iOS 8.

VLC, for those unaware, is a fully-fledged media suite, which can be used to download – or stream – content from a host of semi-local platforms, including Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, iTunes and OneDrive.

Related: VLC is now available for Apple TV

The main reason people opt for VLC is simple: it supports a wide range of file formats, ranging from MP4 to TrueMotion VP5 – and everything in between, complete with a flurry of advanced subtitling options.

To install the upgrade on your iPhone (X), open up the App Store, navigate into the dedicated Updates selection, locate and select VLC for Mobile, tap the Update button, then wait a few seconds for your handset to work its magic.

Are you pleased with VLC’s decision to implement support for the recently-released iPhone X? Will you be taking advantage of the HEVC 4K functionality? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter @TrustedReviews.

Prysm launches updated Sketchboard software with WIndows 10 support


11.12.17

Public input sessions draw support for health care waiver plan – The Spokesman

Here’s my full story from spokesman.com:

By Betsy Z. Russell

Idaho’s latest plan to address the state’s health coverage gap will be addressed in two public sessions in Coeur d’Alene. An informational session on Monday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at which people can hear presentations about the plan and get questions answered, and a formal public comment hearing on Tuesday morning.

The proposal, dubbed the Idaho Health Care Plan, calls for the state to seek waivers from the federal government to allow a portion of those who now fall into the state’s health coverage gap – because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for subsidized health insurance through the state insurance exchange – to either get subsidies, or, for those who are the sickest due to certain specific conditions, such as stage 4 cancer or cystic fibrosis, Medicaid coverage.

Previous public sessions in Boise and Pocatello have drawn overflow crowds and strong support for the waiver plan. But many who’ve spoken also have called for expanding the waiver proposals to include serious mental illnesses along with other specified conditions. Though some earlier drafts of the proposal did include those, the current draft does not.

“This is the first time the public has had a chance to give us feedback about this,” said Health and Welfare spokesman Chris Smith. “This is us listening to the people of Idaho: What do they want? And then trying to take that and say, OK, what’s possible for us to do within the bounds that we have?”

“We’ve been really impressed with the turnout that we’ve had,” Smith said.

For the Idaho Health Care Plan to move forward, federal authorities would have to grant two waivers, one to the Department of Health and Welfare and one to the state Department of Insurance; and then the governor and Legislature would have to sign off on the program, including state law changes to authorize it.

Idaho lawmakers have declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving an estimated 78,000 people in the coverage gap. Under the Idaho Health Care Plan, about 38,000 low-income, working Idahoans who now fall into the gap could receive federal tax credits to help them afford private insurance. The plan envisions that moving the sickest Idahoans off the exchange to Medicaid would also lower costs for all those purchasing plans through the exchange.

Among those who have offered public comments thus far are Jim Baugh, executive director of Disability Rights Idaho, who called during the Boise hearing for expanding the serious-illness waiver to include serious mental illness. He also called the proposal “a positive step.”

Jim Giuffre, former president and CEO of Healthwise and a former district health director for the state, said the plan would benefit patients, businesses, the state budget, and counties, which, he said, are “spending a disproportionate amount of their money on what is called the indigent fund, and it’s a ridiculous way to fund health care in the state of Idaho and it doesn’t do a very good job of it.”

The indigent fund pays the catastrophic medical bills of those who can’t afford to pay, drawing on local property taxes. But it doesn’t provide any coverage pre-catastrophe. Moving to something like the Idaho Health Care plan instead, Guiffre said, is “the right thing to do.”

Some Flagship Android Phones Don’t Support Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in HD

If you’ve ever attempted to watch Netflix or other paid video streaming services on certain devices, you may have noticed that even if your plan supports streaming videos in high definition, the video quality doesn’t go over 480p. This is not necessarily an issue with your Internet speed or a bug within the Netflix app. Instead, it could totally be the fault of your device itself.

This is because Netflix and other services such as Amazon Prime Video are protected by digital rights management, or DRM services, and on Android require the most secure level of Google’s Widevine DRM solution (Widevine Level 1) in order to deliver HD (720p+) video content to Android devices. Lack of support for Widevine L1 can, and will, result in HD video not being played properly on your Android device, regardless of how powerful your device is or what its screen resolution is.

Today, we’re going to take a look at what Widevine is and how can you check if your device lacks the Widevine L1 that is required for HD playback in Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.


An Introduction to Widevine

9d131_Widevine_Logo_3001-300x78 Some Flagship Android Phones Don't Support Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in HD

Widevine Technologies logo.

Widevine is one of the oldest and most widely used DRM solutions available out there, and one of the most effective when it comes to protecting digital content. It is multiplatform and multiformat, and it’s available on nearly 4 billion devices around the globe, which include desktop PCs and devices, mobile devices running Android or iOS, televisions, Blu-Ray players, set-top boxes and gaming consoles. Widevine was developed by Widevine Technologies, a company which was founded all the way back in 1999, and acquired by Google for $160 million back in December 2010.

Netflix’s content, which spawns a plethora of TV series, movies, documentaries, and even original series like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Stranger Things, is protected with DRM and encryption measures in order to avoid piracy and recordings to be distributed freely by users. For this purpose, they use multiple DRM solutions, including Google’s Widevine DRM, since it’s the DRM measure of choice for a good part of their supported platforms. Widevine is also used by other paid streaming services, like Amazon Prime Video.

Different Levels, Different Security Tiers

While every Android device out there supports some form of Widevine, not every phone supports the same level. There are a few different levels: there’s Level 3, the rock bottom security tier used for protecting SD (480p and lower) video and standard quality media, and then we have Level 1, which is the one used for delivering high-quality media, like HD/FHD/QHD/4K video. Level 1 requires hardware-backed DRM measures to process protected content. In order for a device to display HD video from a Widevine-backed service, said device must support L1: L3 will only display SD video regardless of your subscription or device capabilities.

And this brings us to another point: not every flagship device out there supports L1, and are therefore not able to output HD video from Netflix. Some cases of flagship phones not supporting Widevine L1 despite having the hardware capability include any OnePlus phone and the ZTE Axon 7/M which are backed by Widevine L3 instead of L1. Other flagships like the Google Pixel 2 XL do feature full support for Widevine L1.

9d131_Widevine_Logo_3001-300x78 Some Flagship Android Phones Don't Support Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in HD

ZTE Axon M (L3)

9d131_Widevine_Logo_3001-300x78 Some Flagship Android Phones Don't Support Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in HD

Pixel 2 XL (L1)

9d131_Widevine_Logo_3001-300x78 Some Flagship Android Phones Don't Support Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in HD

OnePlus 5T (L3)

It’s unclear why OnePlus and ZTE opted for skipping the certification process for Widevine L1, especially since Google does not require any licensing fees to be certified. With certification out of the way, it is a software issue which can be easily solved after all, however. A OnePlus spokesperson has told The Verge that an update was soon going to be rolled out with Widevine L1 (and thus Netflix HD) support.

9d131_Widevine_Logo_3001-300x78 Some Flagship Android Phones Don't Support Netflix/Amazon Prime Video in HD

Getting HD Netflix to Work

You should be in the clear if you have a popular flagship like the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Galaxy Note8, the LG G6, the LG V30, and more. However, if your device, whatever the brand, is not outputting HD video on Netflix or other apps, you might as well go over to the Play Store and download DRM Info to check if Widevine is the culprit.

If DRM Info displays “L1” under the Security Level of Google Widevine DRM, then your device is capable of displaying HD video on Netflix and other apps. If it’s still not displaying HD video despite having full Widevine L1 support, then it could be a matter of Netflix having to whitelist your device on their end in order to enable full-resolution video playback.

Unfortunately that means manually patching the Netflix app to get it running. XDA Senior Member chenxiaolong has put together a guide to get HD Netflix working on these devices, and XDA Junior Member GuillaumeBarberousse made an Ubuntu script for automatically patching the Netflix APK.

If on the other hand, DRM Info displays “L3”, then you’re out of luck as your device does not currently support Widevine L1. The above tutorials won’t work for you either since they’re for devices which support Widevine L1 yet don’t have Netflix HD support for whatever reason. So, it’s a matter of reporting said issue to your OEM, who should see if something can be done about it. For OnePlus owners, a fix is on the way, at least sometime in the near future.

It’s not really clear why OEMs are not going through the certification process for Widevine L1 from the start. It could come down to them not having the time to certify their devices for Widevine L1, or simply not wanting to. Almost every 2017 flagship device is hardware-capable of supporting Widevine L1, and so we hope the adoption of it becomes increasingly more common with next year’s phones.

Kid’s impassioned message to bullies finds support all over the internet

Bullies suck, but sometimes the best way to deal with them is to call out their deplorable actions in public. One kid and his mother took to the internet to talk about his bad treatment at the hands of other kids, and ended up finding more support than they could’ve ever expected. 

Knoxville, Tennessee middle schooler Keaton Jones said that he was being bullied so much that he would rather leave school early and skip lunch than face his tormentors. His mother, Kimberly, took a video of Keaton talking about how other kids poured milk on him, put food on his clothes, and mocked him. He had one simple question: Why?

Kimberly posted a brief explainer about the situation along with the video.

For the record, Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had he me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch. My kids are by no stretch perfect, at home, he’s as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he’s good at school. Talk to your kids. I’ve even had friends of mine tell me they’re kids were only nice to him to get him to mess with people. We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.

Keaton’s questions about bullying clearly struck a chord with more than just his middle school community and his mom’s friends on Facebook. The video has been viewed over 15.7 million times in just a few days, and it’s caught the attention of some major figures in the Knoxville area and the wider world at large via the hashtag #standwithkeaton. 

Keaton has stayed mostly silent as the internet has rallied around him in support, but his sister Lakyn has stepped up as his advocate on Twitter.  

University of Tennessee football players were among the first to rally around Keaton, and players from the state’s NFL squad, the Tennessee Titans, reached out with messages of support as well.

But support for Keaton extended beyond just Tennessee. UFC boss Dana White shared the message, too.

Millie Bobby Brown, star of Stranger Things, chimed in.

Reigning rap queen Cardi B weighed in, with an important message: Bullying is not gangsta.

Who ever goes to this boy school ,If you pick on him you not even a bully YOU A STRAIGHT UP PUSSY ASS PUNK ASS BITCH .Like how you pick on somebody who can’t defend them self ? THATS NOT GANGSTA ! If you a parent or somebody big sis or big bro show your kids this video and show them why they should not bully others !!😡😡😡 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽

A post shared by Cardi B Official IG (@iamcardib) on Dec 9, 2017 at 11:28pm PST

A GoFundMe campaign even popped up to pay for Keaton’s future college tuition, as comedian Patton Oswalt led the charge to raise over $20,000 in less than 24 hours.

At the end of his viral message, Keaton introspectively told other kids dealing with bullies that things will probably get better, someday. From all of the responses on social media, that someday is now for him. 

Hopefully, other victims of bullying will see things get better in their lives, too. 

WATCH: Apparently, this is the color you will see everywhere in 2018

A kid questioned his bullies and got support from the entire internet

Bullies suck, but sometimes the best way to deal with them is to call out their deplorable actions in public. One kid and his mother took to the internet to talk about his bad treatment at the hands of other kids, and ended up finding more support than they could’ve ever expected. 

Knoxville, Tennessee middle schooler Keaton Jones said that he was being bullied so much that he would rather leave school early and skip lunch than face his tormentors. His mother, Kimberly, took a video of Keaton talking about how other kids poured milk on him, put food on his clothes, and mocked him. He had one simple question: Why?

Kimberly posted a brief explainer about the situation along with the video.

For the record, Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had he me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch. My kids are by no stretch perfect, at home, he’s as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he’s good at school. Talk to your kids. I’ve even had friends of mine tell me they’re kids were only nice to him to get him to mess with people. We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.

Keaton’s questions about bullying clearly struck a chord with more than just his middle school community and his mom’s friends on Facebook. The video has been viewed over 15.7 million times in just a few days, and it’s caught the attention of some major figures in the Knoxville area and the wider world at large via the hashtag #standwithkeaton. 

Keaton has stayed mostly silent as the internet has rallied around him in support, but his sister Lakyn has stepped up as his advocate on Twitter.  

University of Tennessee football players were among the first to rally around Keaton, and players from the state’s NFL squad, the Tennessee Titans, reached out with messages of support as well.

But support for Keaton extended beyond just Tennessee. UFC boss Dana White shared the message, too.

Millie Bobby Brown, star of Stranger Things, chimed in.

Reigning rap queen Cardi B weighed in, with an important message: Bullying is not gangsta.

Who ever goes to this boy school ,If you pick on him you not even a bully YOU A STRAIGHT UP PUSSY ASS PUNK ASS BITCH .Like how you pick on somebody who can’t defend them self ? THATS NOT GANGSTA ! If you a parent or somebody big sis or big bro show your kids this video and show them why they should not bully others !!😡😡😡 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽

A post shared by Cardi B Official IG (@iamcardib) on Dec 9, 2017 at 11:28pm PST

A GoFundMe campaign even popped up to pay for Keaton’s future college tuition, as comedian Patton Oswalt led the charge to raise over $20,000 in less than 24 hours.

At the end of his viral message, Keaton introspectively told other kids dealing with bullies that things will probably get better, someday. From all of the responses on social media, that someday is now for him. 

Hopefully, other victims of bullying will see things get better in their lives, too. 

WATCH: Apparently, this is the color you will see everywhere in 2018

Google Chrome for Android will soon support Custom Download Folders

The Google Chrome browser is based on the open source Chromium browser project, and thanks to its open source nature, it’s possible to follow any development on the browser right as it happens. We recently covered that Google Chrome for Android would be adding HDR video playback support after discovering a new commit in the Chromium gerrit. Today, we discovered that Google Chrome for Android is preparing to add a new feature: changing the default download folder.

Currently, all downloads from Google Chrome are stored in the /Downloads folder in /data/media/user. The folder can get quite cluttered since this folder is the shared default download folder for most applications. If your device is running low on storage or never had a lot of storage space available, then you may have wanted to change Chrome’s download folder to your device’s SD card (if you have one).

Such a basic feature has existed on the desktop version of Google Chrome, but it’s finally making its way over to the Android version. We discovered a commit in the Chromium gerrit bringing this feature. It was recently merged, and the flag to enable the feature can be found in the latest nightly build of Chromium. You can directly access the flag by copying and pasting this line into Chrome’s address bar:

chrome://flags#enable-downloads-location-change

The flag says “enable changing default downloads storage location on Android.” I enabled it on my device but was unable to find where the default download folder could be changed in Chrome’s settings. Looking back at the commit, it appears that the feature is still a work in progress as the commit simply adds a flag but it doesn’t actually implement the logic for changing the download directory. The commit that adds the relevant preference in settings has yet to be merged, so it may be a few days until this feature is usable on Chrome for Android builds, and it’ll take even longer for it to make its way to the stable or beta branches of Chrome.

Apple Store app for iOS adds support for buying iPhones w/o carrier pre-authorization, more

Apple has quietly updated its Apple Store app for iOS this evening. The update brings the app to version 4.4 and includes new checkout features, a new iPhone purchasing option, and iOS 11 enhancements…


a4c88_spigen-teka-on-airpods Apple Store app for iOS adds support for buying iPhones w/o carrier pre-authorization, more

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

The update brings a new scanner that makes it easier to add your credit card information at checkout. This means you no longer have to take the time to manually enter your credit details, making the checkout process significantly easier.

Furthermore, Apple says that users can now buy a full-price iPhone without going through the pre-authorization process, another move that significantly speeds up the checkout process. Instead of going through the pre-authorization process, users will simply activate later. Note this process has been available on Apple.com for the iPhone X since November.

Finally, Apple says there are various other iOS 11 enhancements included in this update:

What’s New in Version 4.4

  • iOS 11 enhancements
  • Scanner now available to easily add your credit card information at checkout
  • Customers now have the option to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones on ATT, Verizon, or Sprint

The Apple Store app is a free download on the App Store.


Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

Apple Store app for iOS adds support for buying iPhones w/o carrier pre-authorization, more

Apple has quietly updated its Apple Store app for iOS this evening. The update brings the app to version 4.4 and includes new checkout features, a new iPhone purchasing option, and iOS 11 enhancements…


4bf0e_spigen-teka-on-airpods Apple Store app for iOS adds support for buying iPhones w/o carrier pre-authorization, more

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

The update brings a new scanner that makes it easier to add your credit card information at checkout. This means you no longer have to take the time to manually enter your credit details, making the checkout process significantly easier.

Furthermore, Apple says that users can now buy a full-price iPhone without going through the pre-authorization process, another move that significantly speeds up the checkout process. Instead of going through the pre-authorization process, users will simply activate later. Note this process has been available on Apple.com for the iPhone X since November.

Finally, Apple says there are various other iOS 11 enhancements included in this update:

What’s New in Version 4.4

  • iOS 11 enhancements
  • Scanner now available to easily add your credit card information at checkout
  • Customers now have the option to bypass pre-authorization and activate later on full price purchases of iPhones on ATT, Verizon, or Sprint

The Apple Store app is a free download on the App Store.


Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

Up For Debate – The State of Microsoft’s PC Gaming Support in 2017

2016 heralded a major turnaround for Microsoft and the way it handled PC gaming. After ignoring the platform for years, at least in a gaming sense, Microsoft announced its Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. Now, all first-party Xbox One exclusives would also be playable for all. Hurrah! A win for us all! Or was it…

You see, all of these games are, naturally, a way to encourage Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10 and/or engage with the Windows Store. The problems with this were twofold; firstly, the Windows Store sucked then, and it sucks now; secondly, not many people trusted Microsoft with their 60 bucks after the disaster that was Games For Windows Live. GFWL was hardly enough to inspire confidence, particularly with these digital purchases which could just be lost on a whim if Microsoft decided it had enough of its little experiment with PC gaming.

My main gripe with the Windows 10 Store and its games is that there are precious few fallback options aside from re-downloading a game again and again in the hope that it works. If I grab a game from Steam and something isn’t quite right, for example, it requires compatibility with an older OS, or it needs a config tweak to support my desired resolution, then it’s a relatively simple process to get it working. Anything more complicated than that and someone, somewhere out there in the community, has usually got a fix or a workaround for it. Tampering with Windows Store games meanwhile is next to impossible It either runs or it doesn’t, and there’s really any clear avenue to implement your own fixes. Microsoft has got the whole thing locked up so tight with its UWP apps that actually ends up being a detriment.

This is just the tip of the Windows Store iceberg, and there are dozens more issues lurking beneath the surface. One in particular that grates is Microsoft’s insistence that it cares about PC gamers while running Xbox One-only discounts for games that are part of its Xbox Play Anywhere service. What the heck is the point of that? If Forza Horizon 3 is 50% off on Xbox One for Xbox Live subscribers, it should be 50% off on PC too. The store itself is cluttered with mobile F2P trash, it’s got a terrible library system, and the player bases in games which aren’t cross-platform are tiny. When the likes of Quantum Break and Halo Wars have already since launched on Steam, you can pretty much tell the games in this store are performing below Microsoft’s expectations.

Keeping a positive spin on this scenario is easy though. Here we are, in 2017, with the best version of Xbox One games that would previously have been exclusive. We can play Gears of War 4 or Forza Motorsport 7 in 4K. Meanwhile, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and, inevitably, Halo 6 are right around the corner. This is genuine PC support from Microsoft, even if it’s approached like it’s an afterthought from Microsoft. We’re getting all the best games from the Xbox One, yet we’re receiving them through a service that even the most die-hard Windows fan would admit is lacklustre.

We’re not just being thrown cast-offs either. Age of Empires IV is a game that PC fans have been crying out for, for years. We’re assuming it’s going to be designed for mouse and keyboard play, and if it is then this is comfortably the biggest PC-focused game published by Microsoft in years. For the love of god don’t tailor it to gamepad play like Halo Wars though, Relic.

OK rant over, but you can see I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, Microsoft’s releasing more games on PC than it has in a long, long time, yet on the other, it feels as if we’re being given prime steak served in a dog bowl.

Up For Debate – The State of Microsoft’s PC Gaming Support in 2017

2016 heralded a major turnaround for Microsoft and the way it handled PC gaming. After ignoring the platform for years, at least in a gaming sense, Microsoft announced its Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. Now, all first-party Xbox One exclusives would also be playable for all. Hurrah! A win for us all! Or was it…

You see, all of these games are, naturally, a way to encourage Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10 and/or engage with the Windows Store. The problems with this were twofold; firstly, the Windows Store sucked then, and it sucks now; secondly, not many people trusted Microsoft with their 60 bucks after the disaster that was Games For Windows Live. GFWL was hardly enough to inspire confidence, particularly with these digital purchases which could just be lost on a whim if Microsoft decided it had enough of its little experiment with PC gaming.

My main gripe with the Windows 10 Store and its games is that there are precious few fallback options aside from re-downloading a game again and again in the hope that it works. If I grab a game from Steam and something isn’t quite right, for example, it requires compatibility with an older OS, or it needs a config tweak to support my desired resolution, then it’s a relatively simple process to get it working. Anything more complicated than that and someone, somewhere out there in the community, has usually got a fix or a workaround for it. Tampering with Windows Store games meanwhile is next to impossible It either runs or it doesn’t, and there’s really any clear avenue to implement your own fixes. Microsoft has got the whole thing locked up so tight with its UWP apps that actually ends up being a detriment.

This is just the tip of the Windows Store iceberg, and there are dozens more issues lurking beneath the surface. One in particular that grates is Microsoft’s insistence that it cares about PC gamers while running Xbox One-only discounts for games that are part of its Xbox Play Anywhere service. What the heck is the point of that? If Forza Horizon 3 is 50% off on Xbox One for Xbox Live subscribers, it should be 50% off on PC too. The store itself is cluttered with mobile F2P trash, it’s got a terrible library system, and the player bases in games which aren’t cross-platform are tiny. When the likes of Quantum Break and Halo Wars have already since launched on Steam, you can pretty much tell the games in this store are performing below Microsoft’s expectations.

Keeping a positive spin on this scenario is easy though. Here we are, in 2017, with the best version of Xbox One games that would previously have been exclusive. We can play Gears of War 4 or Forza Motorsport 7 in 4K. Meanwhile, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3 and, inevitably, Halo 6 are right around the corner. This is genuine PC support from Microsoft, even if it’s approached like it’s an afterthought from Microsoft. We’re getting all the best games from the Xbox One, yet we’re receiving them through a service that even the most die-hard Windows fan would admit is lacklustre.

We’re not just being thrown cast-offs either. Age of Empires IV is a game that PC fans have been crying out for, for years. We’re assuming it’s going to be designed for mouse and keyboard play, and if it is then this is comfortably the biggest PC-focused game published by Microsoft in years. For the love of god don’t tailor it to gamepad play like Halo Wars though, Relic.

OK rant over, but you can see I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, Microsoft’s releasing more games on PC than it has in a long, long time, yet on the other, it feels as if we’re being given prime steak served in a dog bowl.

Install and use Teamviewer 13 for GNU/Linux remote access and support

I have a friend who is about as skilled with computers as I am with nano-technological engineering. That’s a thing, right? Anyway, every month or two, he asks me to ‘fix his computer’ which usually means cleaning junk, malware, and uninstalling anything he shouldn’t have installed. Often, I do this from my computer at home, sometimes from within my GNU/Linux partition.

Teamviewer is a program that essentially lets the user remote control another PC. Teamviewer is also available for mobile devices, which can be incredibly handy for remotely accessing your/others machine from your cellphone. I have ‘fixed’ his computer many times, while on the bus or in a car (as a passenger) thanks to the ability to connect via my cellphone.

Teamviewer is available in most repositories, but can also be downloaded from the Teamviewer downloads page, as of right now Teamviewer 13 is the stable version for GNU/Linux.

You find installation instructions on the TeamViewer Community portal if you need help with that. On most systems, all you have to do is double-click on the downloaded file, or right-click on it and select the “Open With Package Manager” option to do so.

As far as requirements are concerned, TeamViewer runs on 32-bit, 64-bit and ARM devices, and supports Ubuntu (and derivates), Debian, RedHat, CentOS, Fedora, and SUSE officially

TeamViewer for Linux

Once Teamviewer has been installed, accessing a remote machine is incredibly simple; in this article we will just use the basic connection features, but unattended access and other more complicated features are also available.

First, you / the owner of the remote machine, needs to give you the ‘Partner ID’ for the remote machine, and the password. Simply enter the ID number into the appropriate box, followed by the password when requested, and voila, you will shortly later be in total control of the remote machine!

The user who owns the machine that is being remote-controlled, has the ability to end the session at anytime, lock the remote user, etc, in order to help preserve security and prevent someone from doing things they would prefer not done.

You’ll note that there is usually some performance issues on the computer that is remotely accessing the other machine, so using Teamviewer for things like remote-gaming isn’t really feasible. However, navigation of the file system, program installation/management, web browsing, etc, are all quite easily done.

Security wise, all data sent between machines is highly encrypted using RSA 2048 public/private key exchange, AES (256 bit) session encryption from end to end, which is the standard encryption used in most things nowadays; so no need to worry about sensitive information being sniffed or procured in transit, making Teamviewer safe to use for business needs as well.

Teamviewer is free for personal use, so feel free to give it a try if you are unfamiliar with it, or if you too have that one friend who always needs help with their computer.

Now you: Do you use remote access tools? Like what, and for what? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Deep Freeze 8.5 Simplifies Windows 10 Support

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Dec. 7, 2017 — Faronics, a global leader in managing and simplifying multi-user computer environments, announced the release of Deep Freeze Enterprise 8.5. This latest version comes with multiple additional features and enhancements to help system administrators effectively protect and restore Windows 10 computers.

Deep Freeze is the flagship product of Faronics, which is widely used by organizations to preserve and protect system configurations. This Reboot to Restore solution is consistent, easy to use and provides 100 percent workstation availability with each reboot. By making endpoints virtually indestructible, Deep Freeze enhances system performance and life cycle, and significantly reduces IT support costs.

In its constant attempt to provide quality service to Windows users, Faronics launched Deep Freeze Enterprise version 8.30 to extend support of this instant system restore solution to Windows 10 operating systems. This previous Deep Freeze version allowed system administrators to restore Windows 10-based workstations to a pristine state and leverage various other customizable configuration and deployment options.

To better address the ever-evolving needs of diverse IT environments, we have added several new features and enhancements in Deep Freeze Enterprise 8.5, to make the job of restoring Windows 10 computers easier and hassle-free. As a result, system administrators are able to monitor applications on systems running Windows 10 OS with better efficiency.

The newly added system restore features for Windows 10 ensures that enterprises already holding Deep Freeze licenses are able to incorporate Microsoft’s latest OS offerings into their environment while harnessing multiple new benefits of the latest version. The key benefits of the new version include the following:

Ability to add or delete ThawSpaces on the fly: The earlier versions of Deep freeze did not allow the addition of ThawSpaces unless the software was re-installed. Deep Freeze 8.5 eliminates the need of Deep Freeze re-installation, providing system administrators with the ability to configure ThawSpaces at any time, which are added on the next Thawed Restart.

Idle Task Enhancement: Customers have raised requests for a function that would shut down an idle Windows 10 computer without having to wait for the first mouse/keyboard activity. Otherwise, it may so happen that a computer remains active the entire day. The latest version allows users to choose whether to restart/shutdown a workstation in its idle state and specify a time period for it. Not only that, this new offering also allows system administrators to initiate the countdown of the chosen actions only after the first keyboard/mouse activity.

Addition of Combination Scheduler Task: System administrators prefer to chain particular scheduled tasks like ‘Wake-On-LAN’, ‘Send Message’, ‘Run Windows Update’ and, perform ‘Shutdown’ activity. Keeping their convenience in mind, we have added a new combination task, in which administrators can create a single Scheduler task and chain up to five tasks together. It eliminates the need to change multiple tasks during an unexpected event.

Upgrade Notification Alert: Administrators managing Windows 10 computers would also receive upgrade notifications in their console whenever a new version of Deep Freeze is available. Users can go through the release notes and automatically upgrade their console by downloading the latest installer.

See the release notes for a full list of new features available in this latest Deep Freeze upgrade to restore Windows 10.

Windows 10 eSIM support lets laptop owners stay connected via their mobile plans

Moving beyond Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections, Microsoft wants to see future builds of Windows 10 keep more Windows PCs online no matter where they go. A new initiative for Windows 10 “eSIM” support could see users use their mobile data plan in order to get their laptop online without the need to create a Wi-Fi hotspot or use any form of in-store activation.

This initiative should come as no surprise considering the recent announcement of Qualcomm-powered laptops with LTE support. These notebooks are more connected, rather than more powerful, sporting long battery life and cellular connectivity, making them part of a new range of “Always Connected” PCs. Microsoft’s proposed Windows 10 tweaks would make that even more viable.

As it stands notebooks with physical SIM cards with in-store activation can provide similar functionality, but they are specialist devices rather than the norm. With Microsoft’s planned changes, laptops would be able to leverage an embedded SIM (EUIIC or eSIM) with a profile downloaded from the cloud allowing for remote activation.

Details of this new feature were revealed at the WinHEC Fall 2017 Workshop which took place at the end of last month and ZDNet has a few slides from that show. They showcase the changes that the “next release of Windows 10” will have, making it possible to bring these notebooks online without the traditional physical sim card installation.

Full support of the feature may require cooperation from specific mobile carriers, so may be somewhat dependent on available packages in users’ geographic regions but if the feature becomes popular, there shouldn’t be much cause for not making it viable for all.

It’s possible this feature gains more traction in enterprise settings first, where the increased security of a cellular data connection is an attractive alternative to Wi-Fi, especially when there are comparable speeds. A lower power-usage than Wi-Fi is also an attractive side of it though, which may be what Microsoft uses to market it to consumers, as well as the fact that it allows laptops to remain “Always Connected,” without quite so many steps as existing solutions.

The “Redstone 4” build of Windows 10 where this feature is expected to appear, is slated to debut in April, so it will come a little after the launch of some of the Qualcomm-powered compatible notebooks. Although some of those notebooks will ship out without the hardware capabilities for eSIM support at launch, others may, with the Windows OS adding the software compatibility for them a little later. Windows Insiders, however, will likely gain access to the feature a little sooner.




Skype gets iPhone X support and revamped design on iOS

86a26_Skype-iPhone-X_0 Skype gets iPhone X support and revamped design on iOS

It’s Skype’s turn to embrace the notch with its latest update on iOS.

Microsoft has been slowly updating its stable of apps on iOS with dedicated support for Apple’s latest mobile device, the iPhone X. The latest to get that treatment is Skype, which has adopted explicit support for the iPhone X’s taller screen, along with a new design in its latest update.

The update now allows Skype to extend to fill the entire screen on iPhone X, giving it more vertical space. The bigger change for all iPhone users, however, is the rollout of the new design, which first entered testing back in October. Following backlash from its previous redesign over the summer, Microsoft has implemented a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen to access important functions. Numeric badges will now appear on the navigation bar for chats, calls, and highlights. Some general UI spacing and other aspects have been tweaked as well.

Here’s a look at the full release notes for Skype version 8.12:

  • A new and improved design.
  • Support for iPhone X.
  • General performance and reliability improvements.

86a26_Skype-iPhone-X_0 Skype gets iPhone X support and revamped design on iOS

If you’re using an iPhone as your mobile device of choice, you can pick up all of the changes by grabbing the latest version of Skype on the App Store now.

See at the App Store




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