Mark Wilson

After Apple's software patch, Consumer Reports now recommends the new MacBook Pro


In a shocking series of tests just before Christmas, Consumer Reports put the new MacBook Pro through its paces and came to the conclusion that battery life was so poor and so variable that it was the first MacBook Pro it could not recommend.

Apple was rather taken aback by the result and, after further investigation, blamed a hidden setting activated by Consumer Reports. This in itself exposed a bug in Safari. With this patched, the tests were re-run and the MacBook Pro is now the proud recipient of Consumer Reports' coveted 'recommended' award.

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Before handing over power to Trump, Obama decides to EXPAND surveillance


With Donald Trump about to take over the reins from Barack Obama, privacy groups have expressed concern about what the incoming president will do with surveillance laws. But before that happens, President Obama is still a cause for concern. In the final days of his leadership, his administration has granted permission for the NSA to share the data it intercepts with no fewer than 16 other intelligence agencies.

While this will alarm many, what is particularly troubling is the fact that privacy protections are not applied until after this data has been shared between agencies. The changes in rules amount to a major relaxation of restrictions on NSA activities, meaning that a far greater number of officials will have access to unfiltered, uncensored data about innocent people around the world.

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Mario and Zelda incoming! Nintendo Switch launches worldwide on 3 March, costing $299.99


The long wait for a new games console from Nintendo is over. Well, almost. The Japanese company -- buoyed by the success of Super Mario Run -- has revealed that the Nintendo Switch will launch on March 3 with a $299.99 price tag.

If you happen to be in the NYC Nintendo World Store, there will be a limited number of consoles available for pre-order from 9:00 ET. As well as finally revealing the launch date and price, Nintendo Switch Online Service was also announced, letting "Nintendo Switch owners enjoy online multiplayer gaming as well as a dedicated smartphone app that connects to your Nintendo Switch system and helps you connect with friends for online play sessions".

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Watch Trump's inauguration as POTUS live on Twitter


A week from tomorrow, on Friday 20 January, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and you can watch the whole event on the billionaire's favorite social platform -- Twitter.

The social site is teaming up with PBS NewsHour to provide six hours of coverage of Trump's inauguration starting at 11:00 ET. It's an event that millions of people all around the world will be keen to watch -- particularly in light of this week's Russian dossier revelations -- and Twitter is setting up a dedicated page for that very purpose.

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Microsoft dodges Swiss court with changes to Windows 10 privacy settings


Privacy has been a big issue for users of Windows 10, and the tsunami of complaints about spying has been a major headache for Microsoft. Now the company has managed to avoid a potentially expensive and damaging court case in Switzerland by improving data processing transparency in Windows 10.

The Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) has just reached the end of an investigation into Windows that started back in 2015. They found that Windows 10's "get going fast" quick install option automatically enabled invasive data sharing with Microsoft (location details, browser and search history, keyboard entries and nearby WiFi networks, for example) without providing users with sufficient warning.

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Europe: we need more details from Yahoo about scanning emails for US intelligence


The European Union is not happy with the explanation Yahoo has given for scanning user emails for US intelligence. There is concern about how such surveillance could impact upon not only privacy, but also business between the EU and US, and trust has to be built from scratch as Donald Trump becomes president.

Yahoo -- which is on the verge of being sold to Verizon -- is not signed up to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement that blocks the US from spying on European data. As such, the company has been acting on a previously-secret court order, gathering data for the NSA and FBI. Speaking with Reuters, the EU Justice Commissioner said she wants more information about what was gathered and why.

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Now it's easy to secretly edit Facebook posts without anyone noticing


There is a lot of talk about the possibility of editing tweets on Twitter at the moment, but an editing function has been available on Facebook for ages. With the ability to edit posts that people can comment on come concerns, and with this in mind Facebook has always let you know when a post you're reading has been amended. Until now...

Without warning, the label which advised of edits has vanished. This means that it is now possible to make surreptitious changes to posts and many people will be completely unaware of what you have done.

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Soon you could be able to download full seasons from BBC iPlayer before they broadcast on TV


The BBC's iPlayer proved popular very quickly, and its position as a well-loved catch-up streaming service is undeniable. But the broadcaster wants to take on the likes of Netflix, and this could mean viewers are not only able to download entire seasons to watch offline, but may be able to do so before shows air on television.

BBC director general Lord Hall is today due to speak with staff, setting out his plans to make iPlayer the UK's biggest online TV service by 2020. His tone makes it clear that the BBC realizes it is operating in an increasingly crowded and competitive market.

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With 93 percent of Samsung Galaxy Note7s returned, FAA says airline warnings are no longer needed


After apologies and updates to kill batteries, it would appear that Samsung has managed to convince most customers to part with their faulty Galaxy Note 7s -- in the US, at least. As a result of this, the Department of Transport has announced that airlines no longer need to warn passengers that taking the phone on planes is prohibited.

Airline passengers were banned from taking their Note7s on flights back in October; the ban remains in place, but the Federal Aviation Authority now believes that the issue gained so much publicity that it no longer needs to be advertised.

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EU wants to increase privacy in WhatsApp, Gmail and iMessage by preventing unwanted tracking


Facebook, Apple and Google face a drop in ad revenue if EU proposals to apply the same rules to online messaging services that currently apply to telecoms companies go through. In a nutshell, the proposals suggest that the likes of WhatsApp, Gmail and iMessage should ask for explicit user permission to allow tracking with a view to delivering targeted ads.

Google and Microsoft have already faced criticism for scanning emails and using the contents to tailor advertising to the recipient. The EU wants online message services to be subject to the ePrivacy Directive to help improve confidentiality and security.

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Warning: Chrome, Opera and Safari's auto form fillers make it easy to steal personal data


We're all looking for ways to save time and effort, so it's hardly surprising that some web browsers offer a feature that automatically fills in online forms with commonly requested personal information. While incredibly useful, the feature can also be exploited to extract data a user might not want to share with a particular website.

Chrome, Opera and Safari all offer to save and automatically fill in details such as name, address, phone number, and so on, and users are ordinarily only aware of the data which is obviously filled in on their behalf. But a web developer shows how it is possible -- and very, very easy -- to use hidden fields to secretly gather all of the information saved in an autofill profile.

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Snapchat thumbs its nose at Brexit, opens international HQ in UK


Brexit was supposed to terrify companies out of doing business in the UK, and in some instances this has been true. But Snapchat is bucking the trend, opting to set up its international headquarters not in Ireland (as many companies do to avoid huge tax bills), but in the UK.

Snap Inc, the company behind SnapChat, will open its London offices under the name Snap Group Limited. The company says it chose the UK capital because of its "strong creative industries", and the move will be seen by many as a something of a coup for post-EU referendum Britain.

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Snooper's charter attacked: Liberty mounts legal challenge to Investigatory Powers Act's 'assault on freedom'


The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 -- better known to many as the snooper's charter -- faced massive public criticism in the run-up to becoming law at the end of 2016 for the privacy-invading powers it affords the UK government to gather data about internet usage.

Towards the end of the year, the European Court of Justice ruled that the "general and indiscriminate retention" of internet data and communication is illegal, potentially threatening the Investigatory Powers Act. Now the human rights group Liberty is launching its own legal attack on the Act, asking for a High Court judicial review of the bulk surveillance powers that have been voted into law.

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Yahoo is not changing its name to Altaba in Verizon sale!

Yahoo sign logo building

Things are all change at Yahoo. The sale of the company to Verizon appears to be going ahead -- despite a series of setbacks along the way, including a high-profile data breach -- for $4.83 billion, and when the deal does go through, Marissa Mayer will step down from the board.

While many news reports today state that Yahoo is now called (or will be) Altaba, this is not strictly true. Verizon is not buying Yahoo in its entirety; a 15 percent stake in Alibaba and a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan will live on as an investment company going under the new name of Altaba Inc. Details of the changes are revealed in an SEC filing.

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HipChat-maker Atlassian snaps up Trello


The world of communication services is dog eat dog, and Australia's Atlassian has just gobbled up Trello.

The company behind HipChat -- which battles with Slack as the darling of collaborative work environments -- has today bought Trello for $425 million. The deal sees Atlassian handing over $360 million in cash, with the rest made up in stock.

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