Mark Wilson

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

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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

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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

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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

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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'

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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

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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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IMDb ignores new law banning it from publishing actors' ages online, citing free speech violations

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Back in September, the state of California passed a new law that banned sites that offer paid subscriptions, and allow people to post resumes, from publishing individuals' ages. It's a law that has the potential to affect many sites, but it is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) that hit the headlines.

The Amazon-owned site is a handy source for anyone who wants to check the age of a particular actor, but the state of California introduced the new law as part of an anti-age-discrimination drive. IMDb was told to remove actors' ages from the site by 1 January, 2017, but the site has failed to take any action.

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What's the best Linux distro for you?

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When it comes to desktop operating systems, there are three main camps into which people fall: Windows, Mac and Linux. In the case of the latter camp things can be confusing because there are endless distros to choose from -- but which is best?

The beauty of Linux is that it can be tweaked and tailored in so many ways. This means that while the plethora of choice can seem overwhelming, it is also possible to find the perfect distro for just about any scenario. To help you make the right choice, here's a helpful list of the best distros to look out for in 2017.

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How to install leaked Windows 10 Build 15002, and what's new

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Microsoft may have said that there would be no new Insider builds released this week, but that did nothing to stop one from leaking out anyway. Windows 10 Build 15002 has been lifted directly from Microsoft's servers and you can grab yourself a copy if you fancy trying it out.

Don't expect an easy ride if you do decide to download the leaked version, however -- it is supplied in WIM format, meaning that you will have to tinker about with converting it as well as other steps. There are a few changes worth noting.

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Hackers find a way to install new games on NES Classic Edition

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When Nintendo launched the NES Classic Edition there was much rejoicing from gamers of certain ages. But while 30 and 40-somethings may have been looking forward to reliving their youth playing classic games, there was some bad news -- the bundled 30 games were all you could play.

Nintendo saying that there was no way to add new games to the console was seen by some as a challenge. Now hackers have found a way to upload new games to the NES Classic via USB... but it's not a super-simple process.

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Google kills Hangouts API

Google Hangouts Samsung smartphone Android

Google is retiring the Hangouts API, meaning that apps relying on it will stop working. The announcement was made very quietly via email and an updated FAQ, and the change takes effect before the end of April.

The official cut-off date is 25 April, and after this date apps that use the API will cease to function -- most of them, at least. With immediate effect, it is no longer possible to create new apps that use the API. While Google does not say as much, the move is likely part of its push of Duo as a replacement for Google+ Hangouts.

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Google makes Fastboot and ADB available as separate downloads for Windows, Mac and Linux

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Answering the pleas of many Android users, Google has finally made ADB and Fastboot available as separate downloads.

Previously only available as part of the large and intimidating Android SDK or Android Studio, the change of heart means that it is now quicker and easier than ever to jump on the handset flashing and sideloading bandwagon.

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Enable notifications to find out when there's a new Google Doodle

google-doodle

Google Doodles are fun little additions to Google search that highlight major events in history, important birthdays and so on. Unless you make a point of hitting Google every day, you could easily miss one of the many animations, images and games that are added throughout the year. Until now.

While there is more than one way to find out if there is a new Google Doodle -- as well as checking the Google homepage, you can also follow the Google Doodles Twitter account -- Google has only just got round to providing notifications. Here's how to receive a message on your phone when a new Doodle is posted.

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Windows 10 to get a new look with Project NEON in Redstone 3

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The look of Windows has evolved over the years -- some would say at a largely glacial pace -- and with an incremental update to follow Windows 10 Creators Update we're in line for the latest change. Known as Project NEON, this is not a major overhaul of the Metro or MDL2 (Microsoft Design Language 2) look, but it introduces some new ideas in the form of Acrylic.

Some of the features of NEON can already be seen in the latest builds of apps such as Groove Music, and Connected Animations. Acrylic brings blurring effects to apps not only to create a sense of depth, but also to help improve focus and reduce distractions. Leaked images give us a pretty good idea of how things are going to look.

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