Mark Wycislik-Wilson

Linux 4.20 released in time for Christmas

Linux matrix

Giving Linux fans a little Christmas present, Linus Torvalds has announced that version 4.20 of the Linux kernel is now available.

In a post to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, Torvalds said that there was no point in delaying the release of the latest stable version of the kernel just because so many people are taking a break for the holiday season. He says that while there are no known issues with the release, the shortlog is a little longer than he would have liked. However "nothing screams 'oh, that's scary'", he insists.

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Apple launches new transparency report website showing government data requests from around the world

Apple transparency report site

In recent years, technology companies have been under increasing pressure to be more transparent about the requests for data they receive from global governments. Firms such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook publish regular transparency reports, and Apple is no different.

Now the company has launched a new transparency report website which makes it even easier to trawl through its twice-yearly publication and see how many data requests have been issued by different governments.

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Apple stands by its bent iPad Pro

Banana

Earlier this week, we wrote about the growing number of people who have complained that their iPad Pro is bent. This is not something that has developed over time, but a problem that was present out of the box.

Apple responded to complaints by saying that the bend that has been noticed in some iPad Pro chassis was not a defect. Now the company has issued a further statement indicating that it believes the tablet's "unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple's high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing". This is not something an owner of a bent iPad Pro would probably agree with.

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OnePlus 6T ad footage appears to be edited to make the bezel look smaller

OnePlus 6T edited bezel

Just a few days ago, a lawsuit was filed against Apple accusing it of using misleading images in advertising to disguise the notch of the iPhone XS. Now it is OnePlus that has been accused of editing advertising images of its phones, this time to make the bezel of the OnePlus 6T seem smaller.

The company was called out on Twitter after people noticed that the OnePlus 6T featured in promotional videos appeared to have a much smaller "chin" than the real-life phone.

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Sign up as an Microsoft Edge beta tester to try the new Chromium-based version of the browser first

Microsoft Edge Insider

Microsoft recently confirmed that it plans to transition its Edge browser away from the EdgeHTML engine to Chromium, embracing open source, bringing Chrome extensions and more. Making such a big change obviously requires a lot of testing, and Microsoft is giving you the chance to get involved via the Microsoft Edge Insider program.

The company already has the Windows Insider program for people who want to get their hands on new builds of Windows 10 earlier than they would normally, but this is a commitment that not everyone is willing to sign up for. Now Microsoft has launched a beta program for Microsoft Edge so you can try out early builds and help to shape the future of the browser.

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Microsoft announces Project Mu, an open-source release of the UEFI core

Microsoft Project Mu

Microsoft has a new open source project -- Project Mu. This is the company's open-source release of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) core which is currently used by Surface devices and Hyper-V.

With the project, Microsoft hopes to make it easier to build scalable and serviceable firmware, and it embraces the idea of Firmware as a Service (FaaS). This allows for fast and efficient updating of firmware after release, with both security patches and performance-enhancing updates.

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Facebook addresses controversy over third-party access to private messages

Facebook logo on Samsung phone

Facebook has been the source of much privacy-related controversy over the years, particularly over the last year or so. The past few days have been no different, with the social networking giant facing questions over the level of access it granted partners to private user data.

Of particular concern to users is the suggestion that Facebook gave the likes of Spotify and Netflix access to users' private messages. Having already gone on the defensive about some of the allegations leveled at it, Facebook is now trying to defend itself about the messaging allegations -- or, as the company puts it "we wanted to provide more facts about our messaging partnerships".

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Apple now lets you gift in-app purchases

App Store icon

While it has been possible for some time to give iOS apps to others as a gift, you have not been able to do the same with in-app purchases.

Now, however, if you want to buy in-app content as a Christmas present for friends or family (what greater sign of affection, eh?!) you can do so. Apple has changed its App Store Review Guidelines giving developers the option to enable the gifting of in-app purchases.

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Your iPad Pro may be bent -- and Apple says it's not a defect

iPhone and iPad have long been subjected to bend tests to see how they hold up to abuse. But what about if your iPad Pro arrived with a bend in the casing? You'd send it back and ask for a replacement or a refund, right? But Apple does not believe that an iPad Pro that arrives bent is defective.

The company has confirmed that a number of 2018 iPad Pro tablets have a "slight bend" in their aluminum casing, blaming the defect on the manufacturing process. Only it's not a defect, remember?

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Microsoft issues emergency patch to fix serious Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability

Microsoft has issued an emergency, out-of-band patch for an Internet Explorer zero-day that was being actively exploited in targeted attacks.

The company says that it learned about the vulnerability through a report from Google. CVE-2018-8653 affects a range of versions of Internet Explorer from 9 to 11, across Windows 7 to 10 and Windows Server.

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Facebook gave dozens of companies access to user data such as friends lists and private messages

Facebook on iPhone

Details have come to light about the deals Facebook struck with the likes of Microsoft, Spotify, Netflix, Apple and Amazon. A report by the New York Times revealed that the social network had given numerous companies access to a plethora of private user data, ranging from the names of friends, to private messages.

Facebook has responded by saying that no access was granted to third parties without user permission, but questions remain about whether users were fully aware of the level of access companies had to their data, or whether they knew they were agreeing to sharing private data.

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Microsoft announces Windows Sandbox, a desktop environment for running applications in isolation

Windows Sandbox

Microsoft has announced an upcoming security feature which it hopes will take the fear and risk out of running unknown software. Windows Sandbox is an isolated desktop environment which functions much like a virtual machine; any software installed to it is completely sandboxed from the host operating system.

Aimed at businesses, enterprises and security-conscious home users, Windows Sandbox will be part of Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise. It is not clear exactly when the feature will debut, but it could make an appearance in Windows 10 19H1 next year.

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Following 'unusual activity' from China and Saudi Arabia, Twitter reveals user country codes may have leaked

Twitter on smartphone

Twitter has discovered what it describes as "unusual activity" stemming from China and Saudi Arabia. The social networking company says that it noticed a large number of enquiries involving a support API coming from individual IP addresses in the two countries.

The discovery came as Twitter investigated a bug in a support form. The problem, Twitter says, dates back to November 15, and it was fixed the next day, but a security researcher says he reported the issue two years ago. As a result of the bug, Twitter says that the country code of users' phone numbers could have been discovered by malicious actors.

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Twitter is bringing back the reverse chronological timeline starting today

Twitter sparkle button

For those who like simple chronology, Twitter's insistence on delivering tweets in an algorithm powered order that is seemingly random has long been a source of frustration. Today, the social site launches a new way to switch between reverse chronological order or the algorithm-driven "top tweets" ordering.

To allow for easy switching between the two modes, Twitter is rolling out a new "sparkle" button to its mobile app. The change is being made available to iOS users first, but Android owners will not be far behind.

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Microsoft may have sent you an email with a hidden gift certificate worth $10

Microsoft building logo

We're coming up to the time of year when a little extra money is welcome. Well... that's true of pretty much any day of the year, but with Christmas presents to buy, it is particularly true now. So how about some free money from Microsoft?

It seems that you may already have a free gift certificate worth $10 sitting in your inbox. Microsoft included the gift cards in emails it sent out to people, but rather than making an announcement, the company decided to stealthily hide the money.

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