Mark Wyciślik-Wilson

Microsoft found a way to increase your productivity while reducing work hours

Colorful Microsoft logo

After experimenting with different working arrangements, Microsoft has discovered that operating on a four-day working week -- on full pay -- workers are not only happier, but also more productive.

The company tried out the new working model in its Japan offices, as part of its Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019 project. Despite all members of staff being given Fridays off, productivity actually increased by an impressive 40 percent.

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Google Play Points comes to the US, bringing discounts, exclusive content and more

Google Play Points

After launching in Japan a little over a year ago, Google Play Points expanded to Korea earlier this year -- and now Google is bring it to the US. But just what is Google Play Points?

In short, it's a loyalty reward program that lets Android users earn points pretty much for simply using Google Play. Buy an app, and you'll earn points. Buy a book or movie, and you'll earn points. Take out a subscription, and you'll earn points. You get the idea. These points can then be used to pay for other things in part or in full, or they can be donated to charity. Here's the lowdown.

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Release candidate of Chromium-based Microsoft Edge available to download now -- full launch coming January 15

New Microsoft Edge logo 2019

Over the weekend we wrote about Microsoft revealing a new logo for the Chromium-based version of Edge; now there is bigger news.

Today, after various beta builds, the company is launching the release candidate of the new Microsoft Edge for both Windows and macOS. It has also revealed that the date for general availability is January 15.

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Chromium-based Microsoft Edge has a new logo. Is it enough to distance it from the horrors of Internet Explorer?

New Microsoft Edge logo 2019

Microsoft Edge is getting a new logo. Having embraced the Chromium engine, Microsoft has decided that it is time to ditch the familiar "e" icon -- which undeniably similar to the Internet Explorer icon -- and opt for a swirly redesign.

Actually, even with the new icon, the "e" has not been completely dropped, rather it has been stylized into a green and blue wave that could still be interpreted as the same letter. Microsoft revealed the icon as an Easter egg after leading fans on a labyrinthine quest, following clues posted online by company employees.

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Android 10 is now rolling out to OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T – here's how to get it

OnePlus logo

True to form and  sticking to its planned release timetable, OnePlus is rolling out a stable version of Android 10 to OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T handsets.

The rollout of a stable version of the latest version of Android in the form of OxygenOS 10 comes after a period of beta testing. Despite the level of interest in this update, OnePlus has made no announcement about it, opting instead to just silently start the rollout. If you're impatient to get your hands on the update, here's what you need to know.

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Microsoft previews its Black Friday deals, including serious savings on new Surface devices

Black Friday

Black Friday 2019 may still be more then three weeks away, but Microsoft is already teasing some of the discounts and deals that it is going to be offering. You can expect to make big savings not only on the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Laptop 3, but also to pick up an HP laptop with 10th Gen Intel Core i3 for under $300.

The official date for Black Friday is November 29 this year, but Microsoft has a number of deals that start before this. In fact, you can start making savings as early as November 21! Here's what's on offer.

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Google pushes out urgent Chrome update to patch actively exploited zero-day vulnerabilities

Chrome warning tape

Users of Chrome are being urged to update their browsers as Google is rolling out a patch for two serious zero-day vulnerabilities, one of which is already being actively exploited.

The Chrome security team says that both vulnerabilities are use-after-free security issues which can be used to exploit arbitrary code. One vulnerability exists in an audio component of the browser, while the other can be found in the PDFium library. The Windows, macOS and Linux versions of Chrome are all affected.

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Leak reveals images of upcoming foldable Motorola razr

Motorola razr

Trusted leaker Evan Blass has shared images of the yet-to-be-released folding Motorola razr.

It is a few years since the pre-smartphone era Motorola RAZR (note the different capitalization) earned itself iconic status, and now the clamshell is due to make a comeback. The new version of the phone looks remarkably similar to the original, but there's a key difference: this time around it seems that it will feature a folding screen.

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Mozilla is dropping support for sideloaded extensions in Firefox

Firefox logo 2019

Mozilla is clamping down on browser add-ons in Firefox, and has announced that it is discontinuing sideloaded extensions in the browser.

The reason given for dropping support is that Mozilla believes that sideloaded extensions cause problems for users, and also that they do not offer users enough control. The company has set out details of the timetable for introducing the new policy.

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Hackers breach security at Web.com, Network Solutions and Register.com, accessing private customer info

Hacker

Domain name registrar Web.com has revealed that it fell victim to a data breach earlier in the year. Two of the company's subsidiaries, Network Solutions and Register.com were also attacked by the hackers at the same time.

The incidents took place back in late August, but were only discovered a couple of weeks ago. The attackers were able to access personal details of customers, but Web.com does not say how many people are affected -- although it is likely to run into the millions.

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Twitter bans all political ads, and the world waits to see if Facebook will follow suit

Isometric Twitter logo

Jack Dorsey has announced that Twitter is implementing a ban on all political advertising on its network. The move comes after Facebook said it would not ban political ads, but Dorsey believes that the ability to reach a large audience with political messages "should be earned, not bought".

While the ban is a global one, the impact is likely to be felt most strongly in the US where spending on political campaigning is huge -- and whoever spends the most money has a tendency to fare better. The manager of the Trump 2020 campaign, Brad Parscale, has dismissed Twitter's decision as "yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives".

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Apple's macOS Catalina 10.15.1 update adds AirPods Pro support, new Siri privacy options and gender-neutral emoji

Closeup of Apple logo

Apple only released Catalina three weeks ago, and already there is a fairly significant update available -- macOS Catalina 10.15.1.

With this release, Apple adds support for the newly announced AirPods Pro as well as fixing a number of bugs. There are also new HomeKit options, enhanced privacy in Siri, and the arrival of more than 70 new or updated emoji, including gender-neutral options.

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Microsoft releases updated PowerToys with new PowerRename tool -- and dark mode!

PowerToys reboot

It has been a couple of months since Microsoft unleashed the first build of the Windows 10 version of PowerToys with the promise of more to come.

Now this day has arrived. Today, Microsoft has released PowerToys v0.12 which includes not only improvements to the existing utilities, but also a brand new tool in the form of PowerRename.

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Google is expanding its handy .new TLD shortcuts to third-party sites

Google logo on white wood

It's not something that everyone knows about, but Google owns the top-level domain .new, and the company has gone beyond using them as simple web addresses. Instead, addresses such as cal.new, doc.new and keep.new can be used as shortcuts to create new calendar events, Google Docs files, and Keep Notes.

Until now, .new shortcuts have only worked with Google's own products and services, but this is about to change. There are already shortcuts that can be used in conjunction with the likes of Spotify, Canva, Word and GitHub, and Google has announced that other sites will be able to register domains -- and therefore shortcuts -- very soon.

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DoH! Google tries to clear up DNS-over-HTTPS confusion

Cartoon Chrome logo

Google has already revealed plans for Chrome which it says will increase privacy and security. DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) was announced back in September, and the company is already worried that people are confused about the implementation.

The company has published a defensive blog post in which it says that "there has been some misinformation and confusion about the goals of our approach and whether DoH will impact existing content controls offered by ISPs". It goes on to try to dispel the incorrect beliefs it says have built up.

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