Author Archives: Brittany A. Roston


Skype tweaked after user revolt: two missed features are back

Skype tweaked after user revolt: two missed features are back

Last month, Microsoft introduced a completely overhauled version of Skype, one that borrows heavily from Snapchat and that, for the most part, really upset users. The revolt was swift and harsh, and many have jumped ship altogether, electing to move to a different product entirely. Though the new version isn't going anywhere, the backlash has been at least a tiny bit successful in getting changes: Microsoft has brought back the status icon, for example, as well as another feature.

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Gboard’s Incognito Mode arrives for Nougat and Marshmallow

Gboard’s Incognito Mode arrives for Nougat and Marshmallow

Google's keyboard app for smartphones, Gboard, is bringing its Incognito Mode to Nougat and Marshmallow. The mode was originally thought to be reserved for Android O, but a new beta of Gboard reveals otherwise. The mode's name is derived from the Incognito Mode found on Chrome, giving users an option that has greater privacy for some sensitive communications.

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AlphaBay dark web drugs and credit card market shut down

AlphaBay dark web drugs and credit card market shut down

Another underground dark web market was shut down, according to sources, putting an end to the illegal sale of stolen credit cards, drugs, and more. This market was called AlphaBay and it was reportedly taken down by a joint effort between official in the United States, Canada, and Thailand. A Canadian citizen was allegedly one of the people operating the website, and was found dead in his jail cell after being arrested in Thailand.

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YouTube experiment transforms video thumbnails into GIFs

YouTube experiment transforms video thumbnails into GIFs

Google is testing a new feature on YouTube that will greatly enhance the browsing experience: animated video thumbnails that offer a snippet of what the video contains. This experiment is arriving for only some users that access the service on desktop, though we may see them expand to everyone in the future. The preview creation process is automated for now; the creators themselves aren't 'currently' able to create the previews themselves.

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ZTE Blade Spark: this $99 phone has a fingerprint sensor

ZTE Blade Spark: this $99 phone has a fingerprint sensor

ZTE has introduced the ZTE Blade Spark, a budget-tier smartphone that offers a fingerprint sensor for added security. The handset is set to launch at AT&T for $99.99 USD, putting it next to the Moto E4 in terms of price and fingerprint sensor inclusion. There are some other things to like about this handset, too, including a large display and Dolby Audio.

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Blame coal mining for Appalachia’s salty rivers

Blame coal mining for Appalachia’s salty rivers

Forget sipping fresh mountain spring water -- Appalachia has a salty river problem and coal mining is to blame. The salt leaches into the streams and rivers from crushed rock and coal that gets deposited in valleys from mountaintop-removal mining. The leeching then causes consistently higher levels of salt in the water, damaging the ecosystems that lie downstream.

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Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition teardown reveals new battery

Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition teardown reveals new battery

The ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 was reborn, after undergoing major surgery, as the Galaxy Note 'Fan Edition.' Though this phone isn't being sold in all regions, it is still making its way into many hands, and it begs the question: what, exactly, did Samsung change? We know the faulty batteries were swapped out with safe batteries, and now that the model is out in the wild, we've gotten our first detailed look at its innards.

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Google Play Music’s New Release Radio arrives for everyone

Google Play Music’s New Release Radio arrives for everyone

Last month, a new radio station on Google Play Music called 'New Release Radio' arrived for Samsung's latest flagship smartphones. It was a Samsung exclusive, apparently, but that exclusivity didn't last long. The feature was at first available to some non-S8 owners via a couple tweaks, and now it is officially available for all Google Play Music users. What does it have to offer? Everything you want to hear.

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Deadpool and Logan soundtracks are heading to vinyl (at Comic-Con)

Deadpool and Logan soundtracks are heading to vinyl (at Comic-Con)

Fox Home Entertainment plans to create special vinyl versions of five of its movies, all of them notable and including things like 'Deadpool' and 'Logan.' These vinyl releases will feature fancy cover art, but there's a big catch: you can only buy one if you go to Comic-Con, since they'll only be available to purchase through Fox's Fanfare booth.

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PSA: US Border Patrol can’t search your phone’s cloud data

PSA: US Border Patrol can’t search your phone’s cloud data

The issue of electronic device searches at the border is a hot one, and though US Border Patrol can (and at times will) search your phone, it isn't allowed to search your cloud data accessible through the handset. The Customs and Border Patrol recently acknowledged that it does not have the authority to search cloud-only data found on phones, and that it doesn't search this data as a result. This includes your social media data.

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Amazon Echo successor tipped to take on Apple HomePod

Amazon Echo successor tipped to take on Apple HomePod

Amazon has a successor to its Echo smart speaker in the pipeline and it'll be designed to take on Apple's HomePod, according to a new report. The new not-yet-officially-revealed version of the Amazon Echo will slim down compared to the first one, assuming the source is to be believed, and it'll also be shorter. Despite the shrunken size, the updated model will see many improvements, not the least of which is better microphone tech, more tweeters, and a new chassis material.

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DirecTV NOW teases features arriving in 2018: 4K HDR and (much) more

DirecTV NOW teases features arriving in 2018: 4K HDR and (much) more

AT&T is finally adding the DirecTV NOW features we all want and arguably need from a modern television service, and chief among them all is cloud DVR. Yes, the entire existence of DVR on a streaming platform is a bit odd, but it's the only way you're able to skip commercials (unlike on-demand), and it'll soon be available to DirecTV NOW subscribers via a beta. Joining the cloud DVR feature are 4K HDR video options and more.

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