Latest Technology News

Microsoft reveals a new Windows logo and scores of redesigned icons

New Microsoft logos

Aesthetics are an important part of app design and branding, and change is not something that is undertaken lightly -- particularly when it comes to big names. Following on from revealing a new-look icon for its Chromium-based Edge browser, Microsoft has now taken the wraps off more than 100 redesigned icons.

This is not a minor undertaking. Here Microsoft is introducing new colors, materials and finishes as the company goes all-in with its Fluent design language.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in Facebook Messenger

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in Facebook Messenger

It's that time of year again: time for a new Star Wars movie. Inevitably, this means there is lots of marketing and a lot of tie-ins, and Facebook is never one to miss out on a trend.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker  is here, and as such Facebook Messenger is getting something of a Star Wars makeover, with new themes, reactions, stickers and augmented reality effects. Facebook says that they are "limited-edition Messenger features" -- so move quickly, you must.

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Google slaps blocks on some Linux web browsers

Google logo on white wood

It may seem that the big names of tech are eager to embrace -- and to be seen embracing -- Linux, but Google is being a little selective.

Users of the Konqueror, Falkon and Qutebrowser web browsers for Linux-based operating systems have reported that they are unable to log into Google services. What's strange is that not all users of these browsers are affected, but many people are seeing a warning when they try to use them.

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Microsoft now lets you make calls from your PC

YourPhone

Microsoft has added a much called-for feature to its Your Phone app -- the ability to make phone calls from Windows.

Working with a phone and PC at the same time can be a pain, and this was part of the reason Microsoft developed the Your Phone app. The feature had been available to insiders testing preview version of the software, and now the company is making the feature available to everyone.

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What Google's focus on web frameworks means for front-end development [Q&A]

If the recent Chrome Dev Summit was evidence of what Google thinks is hot in web development, then frameworks were one of the clear winners. More specifically, client-side frameworks and libraries like Angular, Vue and React, and larger web frameworks like Next.js.

We spoke to Tim Neutkens, lead developer of Next.js -- which Google mentioned in its talk on Advancing the Web Framework Ecosystem -- to learn more about the rise of front-end frameworks and their general promise to get web developers out of the infrastructure weeds and focus more on building websites and apps.

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Best Windows 10 apps this week

Three-hundred-and-sixty-five in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps, games and extensions released for Windows 10 on the Microsoft Store in the past seven days.

Microsoft released two new Windows 10 version 2004 builds this week: build 19037 made PowerShell ISE a feature on demand, and build 19041.1 for the Fast and Slow rings made polishing fixes to the next feature update. Microsoft enabled the new Quick Search feature globally on Windows 10 as well. Previously, Quick Search was only available to devices set to EN-US.

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The top 20 passwords that you shouldn't be using

Written passwords

Despite data breaches involving stolen or cracked passwords constantly being in the news, it seems people are still making poor choices when it comes to their login credentials.

Password manager NordPass has compiled a list of the 200 most commonly used passwords of 2019 and highlighted the 20 you should never be using.

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Microsoft's Xbox Series X has a terrible name, but it looks incredibly cool

Microsoft has never been very good at naming things. Windows 10, for instance, isn't even the tenth version of Windows. The company plans to eventually release an operating system called Windows 10X -- since X is the Roman numeral for ten, is it technically "Windows 10 10" then? Sigh. The original Xbox was followed by the Xbox 360, which was then followed by Xbox One. In other words, the third Xbox is named "One" -- what kind of craziness is that? The company confused things even further by releasing Xbox One variants dubbed "S" and "X."

And now, Microsoft has unveiled its next generation Xbox, and following tradition, it has a terrible name! What has the company named it? Xbox Series X. Yup, that's the real name. Its name is way too close to "Xbox One X," and shows Microsoft is apparently devoid of any creativity in the branding department. Name aside, however, it does look really cool -- it is a vertical tower that can be positioned horizontally if you prefer. Thankfully, it appears to have an optical drive, so physical games disks will live on for at least one more generation of game console.

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Zorin OS 15.1 Linux distro is ready to replace Microsoft's dying Windows 7 on your PC

Windows 7's death is imminent -- support for the popular operating system ends next month on January 14, making it extremely dangerous to use from a security standpoint after that date. This is very unfortunate for the millions of computer users that don't want to switch to the much-maligned Windows 10. Thankfully, in 2019, you don't have to run Windows anymore -- Linux is a totally legitimate option for both business and home use these days. Hell, even the Windows-maker sees the writing on the wall -- the company recently released its wildly popular Office 365 program, Microsoft Teams, for Linux.

If you are ready to ditch the soon-to-be-unsupported Windows 7 for a more secure Linux-based operating system, you have plenty of great options. One of the best choices, however, is Zorin OS -- a Linux distribution that specifically targets people switching from Windows. Today, the latest version of that operating system, Zorin OS 15.1, is released to the world.

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The world increasingly relies on open source -- here's how to control its risks

Risk dial

Open source software’s hold on the IT sector has deepened in the last five years. An estimated 96 percent of applications use open source components, and big players like Microsoft, IBM and even the U.S. government now embrace open source projects for their software needs. But while open source has transformed organizations’ ability to use proven and maintained code in the development of new software, it’s not untouchable in terms of security. Using code that’s readable by anyone brings risks -- and issues have occurred in the past.

It’s true that open source makes security efforts more transparent since it’s happening out in the open. If there are flaws in the code, they’re often resolved quickly by committed members of the open source community. Additionally, many open source projects have security scans built into their build processes, so contributions that introduce vulnerabilities directly or through dependencies are few and far between. But leaving the code in the open also allows bad actors to write attacks specific to unpatched vulnerabilities or to unrealized vulnerabilities in libraries that products actively depend on. As a result, teams using open source need to take steps to remain secure.

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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT now available

Not everyone can afford the top of the line graphics card, and that's fine. If you are a PC gamer on a budget, there are plenty of options these days that will allow you to play the latest and greatest games, albeit with the resolution and other settings turned down a bit. For instance 4K is all the rage these days, but if you are OK with 1080p gaming, you can actually get by with some affordable gear.

Today, AMD shows some major respect for the 1080p gamers of the world with the all-new Radeon RX 5500 XT. While not the most powerful card, it should be able to play all of the newest games at 1080p. It should be positioned a bit higher than the excellent, yet aging, RX 580. Best of all, the starting price is significantly below $200.

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How can the US prepare for these 2020 predictions?

crystal ball

Predicting everything that will happen in 2020 is an impossible task, however, the foundation has been laid for two security events to occur. First, all signs point towards the enactment of a federal data privacy law. The fact that the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is slated to be enacted on January 1, 2020; shows that the US is starting to take a more steadfast approach to consumer privacy. However, if every state were to enact their own laws, then organizations that operate within the US would have to navigate through 50 different mandates. One unified, federal regulation would make it far more seamless for businesses to continue operations, all while remaining compliant.

Second, it is likely that we will see foreign meddling occur in the 2020 US presidential election. This occurred in 2016, and there have already been reports of foreign entities attempting to interfere with US government agencies. In fact, the state of Ohio recently thwarted an attack from a Russian-backed organization on its voting systems. Let’s dive more into these predictions below.

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The phishing tricks that break through standard email filters

Some phishing emails are easy to spot: the spelling is bad, the spoofed email is clearly a fake, and the images are too warped to have possibly been sent by a reputable brand. If you receive one of these low-quality phishing emails, you’re lucky. Today’s phishing emails are extremely sophisticated, and if you’re not well trained to spot one, you probably won’t.

Email filters have long relied on fingerprint and reputation-based threat detection to block phishing emails. A fingerprint is essentially all the evidence a phisher leaves behind -- a signature that, once identified, will be recognized on future phishing attempts and the phishing email or webpage blocked. Examples of a fingerprint include the header, subject line, and HTML.

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New account fraud up 28 percent in 2019

identity theft

New account fraud -- attempts by an individual to create a new online account by manipulating a government-issued ID -- is up 28 percent this year according to a new report.

Data from trusted identity provider Jumio shows this type of fraud has increased over 100 percent on 2014 levels.

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Logitech Personal Collaboration Kits are premium webcam and headset combos

Remote work is all the rage these days. After all, some jobs can be done from home -- why waste gas and time commuting to a shared office just to sit alone in a cubicle all day? Of course, for remote working to be successful, you must have useful communication tools -- both software and hardware. For instance, Microsoft Teams and Slack are great ways to stay in touch, but what about when you need to make audio or visual calls for collaboration? For that, high-quality hardware can make all the difference.

Apparently, Logitech sees great value in combining audio and visual communication in one package. The company has launched two new hardware packages which it calls "Personal Collaboration Kits." What exactly are these kits? Quite simply, a combo consisting of a high-end headset and webcam. There are two options from which to choose, with one being given the "Pro" designation. The truth is, however, both kits would be good for either professional or home use.

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