Mark Wilson

ASUS ZenBook Flip S with NanoEdge is the world's thinnest 2-in-1 convertible laptop

asus-zenbook-flip-s

At Computex 2017 in Taiwan today, ASUS unveiled several new devices including the convertible ZenBook Flip S. Measuring just 10.9mm thick, the 2-in-1 is heralded as the thinnest in the world, and, weighing in at just 1.1kg, it's light as well.

The laptop has a 13-inch screen which features a 360-degree ErgoLift hinge which allows for conversion into a tablet. Starting at $1,099, this is a premium offering from ASUS, and the specifications do not disappoint.

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US may extend laptop ban to all international flights

no-laptops

The US is considering extending its laptop ban to all international flights to and from the country. Speaking on Fox News Sunday this weekend, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said there was a "sophisticated" terrorist threat which could see and expansion of the ban on devices larger than smartphones.

Back in March, citing a threat from terrorists "smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items," the Trump administration introduced an electronics ban on flights from a number of countries. If the ban was to be expanded, there would likely be a backlash from the increased number of people no longer able to take their laptops on flights as carry-on items.

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Nintendo is ramping up Switch production

nintendo-switch-box

The Nintendo Switch has proved to be an incredible success for the Japanese company. Sales are far better than many predicted and, according to reports, production is about to be stepped up to meet demand.

Just three months after launch, the Financial Times says that production will be increased in preparation for the holiday season, with Nintendo hoping to avoid "customer tantrums" if shoppers are unable to get their hands on what is sure to be a huge seller in the latter half of this year.

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Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others write to House of Representatives asking for reform of NSA surveillance

USA Freedom Act is blocked but NSA will stop phone data collection anyway

A letter signed by more than 30 major technology companies has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee calling for a number of key changes to be made to NSA surveillance. The letter, signed by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google and Mozilla, asks lawmakers to make a number of considerations when reforming Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

The signatories refer to themselves as "U.S.-based companies that provide consumer and business technology, products, and services around the world through the use of electronic data." Their letter is timed to coincide with debate about the reform of Section 702 which is used to justify NSA surveillance programs, and is due to expire at the end of the year. There are calls for increased transparency and controls, as well as the suggestion that surveillance should be reined in.

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OnePlus launches referral program so you can get money off a OnePlus 5 and accessories

oneplus-3t-referral-program

We know that the OnePlus 3T is being discontinued as the launch of the OnePlus 5 is just around the corner. Ahead of the launch, the company behind the "flagship killer" has unveiled a referral program that lets its customers earn points to get money off phones and accessories.

The referral program is open to "anyone who's ever bought a OnePlus smartphone past, present, or future." You just need to apply for your unique referral code, and then encourage people to use it to make their OnePlus purchases to earn you points and money off.

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Google search's Personal tab shows results from your emails, calendar and other G Suite content

google-seach-desktop-mobile

Personalized results in Google search are not exactly new, but the company has now introduced a new way to section off truly personal results. A new Personal tab (which you would be forgiven for missing as it's a little hidden out of the way) filters search results to show you only matches from your own Google content.

What this means is that you are able to easily see search results from your Gmail emails, Google Photos, Calendar and other G Suite components without having to conduct searches in each one individually. But is there cause for concern when it comes to privacy?

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British Airways cancels flights after massive global computer system failure [Updated]

british-airways-plane

A "major IT system failure" has caused serious problems for British Airways. The airline has been forced to cancel all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick airports while it works to resolve the issue.

It is not believed that the computer failure was caused by a cyberattack or hackers but this has not lessened the impact. Both of the affected airports have become "extremely congested" as a "global system outage" wreaked havoc with travellers' holiday weekend plans.

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Facebook Fundraisers expand so you have more reasons to ask your friends for money

facebook-money

It's not all that long since Facebook introduced a fundraiser feature, making it possible for users to ask others on the social network for money for a particular cause. Now the company has expanded the personal fundraiser feature so that it can be used for more things.

Specifically, Facebook now permits people to raise money in two additional categories: sports and community. With the community category covering "neighborhood services, community improvements or environmental improvements," fundraisers have now become much wider-ranging.

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Google launches Data Gif Maker so you can create animated GIFs to illustrate data

google-data-gif-maker

As names go, it's clear that little thought went into Google's new Data Gif Maker. It's a simple tool that lets you create animated GIFs to compare statistics about two different topics. Google says the free tool is aimed at journalists, but anyone with a website is able to use it however they want.

The idea is simple. Rather than just saying Android is more popular than iPhone, you can let a graphic do the work for you. Data Gif Maker produces bar charts that we have all become familiar with during elections, giving an easily-interpreted visual representation of basic stats -- but these are animated to make them more eye-catching.

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Facebook's latest Trending Topics tweak aims to kill the echo chamber problem

you're-right-echo-chamber

The way Facebook's algorithm's work -- and the way we generally make and maintain friendships -- means that expressing our view on social media is very much like shouting into an echo chamber. The people we follow and who follow us are likely to have broadly similar views on many topics, and Facebook has long worsened the problem by suggesting content we might like to read.

But this is about to change. Not that Facebook is going to stop suggesting content, rather it is redesigning the Trending topics page. What this means is that you're going to see news from a wider range of sources, decreasing the chances that you'll only see articles that precisely mirror your existing views.

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Europe approves rules that would force Facebook and other social sites to tackle hate-speech

hate-speech-bullets

Facebook may be taking steps to tackle hate speech and other unsavory content but the European Union could soon force it to do more. Plans have been approved for rules that require online content providers such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to "protect children and tackle hate speech better."

Failure to comply with the rules could result in hefty fines being levied against offenders. There are still a number of hoops for the proposed regulations to pass through -- including the European Parliament -- before they become law, but it may not be long until social media sites are obliged to block hate speech videos and those that promote terrorism.

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Samba vulnerability could lead to the next WannaCry

freak_security_vulnerability

A security vulnerability in the popular Samba networking utility could leave unpatched machines open to an attack similar to WannaCry. A single line of code is all that’s needed to exploit the vulnerability, but it is reliant on a number of prerequisites.

The vulnerability has been assigned the ID CVE-2017-7494 and is described as "remote code execution from a writable share" which could allow "malicious clients [to] upload and cause the smbd server to execute a shared library from a writable share." Security researchers say that the flaw is very easy to exploit, and tens of thousands of machines have been found to be running versions of Samba for which a patch does not exist.

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The way is clear for Wikimedia to sue the NSA for warrantless surveillance

nsa_gchq

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Wikimedia Foundation may sue the NSA for its warrantless use of the "Upstream" surveillance program. The ruling overturns an earlier one which said the foundation could not sue due to an inability to prove that Wikimedia communication was being monitored either directly or indirectly.

The ruling by the United States Court Of Appeals for The Fourth Circuit means that the foundation is now able to proceed with legal action that was previously blocked. The amount of traffic generated by Wikimedia proved key to winning the appeal.

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Netgear clarifies precisely what data it collects from Nighthawk AC1900 R7000 router users

netgear-r7000-router

A recent firmware update to its Nighthawk AC1900 R7000 router saw Netgear start to collect analytics data from its users. This had many people upset because of concerns about privacy, but the company is at pains to stress that no personal data is being collected.

In addition to this, the company points out that the program is voluntary, and users are free to opt out at any time. Rather than anything sinister or underhand, Netgear says that the data collection is purely to isolate problems and improve the router.

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Live Chat With Friends brings private chats to Facebook Live

facebook-live-chat-with-friends

Facebook understands the importance of video on its platform, particularly live video. Facebook Live has proved to be an incredibly popular component of the social network and now the company is introducing new ways to connect with friends through the service.

Known as Live Chat With Friends, the new feature makes it possible to chat privately with friends during live broadcasts. The company is also rolling out another new feature called Live With. This "lets you invite a friend into your live video so you can hang out together, even if you’re not in the same place."

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