John P. Mello Jr.

About the Author John P. Mello Jr.


Personal Computers

Creatives Not Likely to Blanch at iMac Pro’s $5K Price

Apple will release a professional version of its all-in-one iMac desktop computer with a $5,000 price tag on Thursday. Up to now, all-in-one computers in general and iMacs in particular have been seen as stylish offerings for home and family, but Apple has changed that in a big way with the iMac Pro. Apple has given the Pro workstation-class graphics, processors, storage, memory and I/O — all without increasing the size of the iMac.

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Privacy

Oops… Some HP Laptops Shipped With Hidden Keylogger

Some HP laptops users came with a preinstalled program to capture the keystrokes of users, a security researcher recently discovered. The researcher, Michael Myng aka “ZwClose,” discovered the keylogger software while trying to solve a keyboard problem for a friend. The software is turned off by default. After Myng contacted HP about the program, it quickly released a patch to get rid of it.

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Cybersecurity

Quantum Key Distribution Gets a Speed Boost

A method for scrambling data to protect it from the super powerful computers of the future has received a speed boost from a team of researchers from Duke and Ohio State universities and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The method uses quantum key distribution to guard data from prying eyes. The problem in the past with the technology is it’s slow. Transfer speeds typically are measured in kilobits per second.

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Business

Major Players Roll Up Sleeves to Solve Open Source Licensing Problems

Four big tech players this week moved to improve their handling of open source software licensing violations. Red Hat, Google, Facebook and IBM said they would apply error standards in GNU GPLv3 to all of their open source licensing, even licenses granted under older GPL agreements. “This will make everything consistent with GPLv3,” said IP attorney Lawrence Rosen.

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Customer Service

Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites

Facebook on Tuesday announced that it was preparing a plugin to its popular Messenger platform that will allow a website’s visitors to chat with a human or bot without leaving the location. Customer Chat is one of a number of changes in the version 2.2 update of Messenger platform revealed at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The chat plugin will be available on desktop and mobile devices.

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Malware

Marcher Malware Poses Triple Threat to Android Users

A three-pronged banking malware campaign has been infecting Android phones since the beginning of this year, according to Proofpoint. Attackers have been stealing credentials, planting the Marcher banking Trojan on phones, and nicking credit card information. So far, they have targeted customers of BankAustria, Raiffeisen Meine Bank and Sparkasse, but the campaign could spread beyond Vienna.

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Smartphones

iPhone X Delivers on Apple’s Promises and That’s Plenty, Say Reviewers

Reviews of Apple’s next generation iPhone X have started appearing online, and for the most part, critics have showered praise on the product. “The iPhone X is clearly the best iPhone ever made,” wrote Nilay Patel. “It’s thin, it’s powerful, it has ambitious ideas about what cameras on phones can be used for, and it pushes the design language of phones into a strange new place.”

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Social Networks

Taking the News Out of Facebook’s News Feed Could Hurt Publishers

A new feature that Facebook recently has been testing in a handful of countries could hurt publishers everywhere if it should roll out globally. The feature removes users’ Liked pages from their main News Feed and aggregates them in a separate space called “Explore.” In the six countries where Facebook has been testing the idea, traffic to news outlets reportedly has dropped 60-80 percent.

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M-Commerce

Google Aims to Turbocharge Online Checkout

Google on Monday rolled out an online payment service that’s designed to accelerate the online checkout process. While the new offering isn’t quite Amazon One-Click, it will eliminate many of the annoying steps that can slow down the online purchase process and often result in abandoned shopping carts. Pay with Google uses address and credit or debit card information users provide to Google to speed them through checkout.

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Smartphones

Google’s Pixel 2 Earns High Marks in Spite of Dull Design

As Google’s new Pixel 2 smartphones get ready to hit the shelves, reviews of the models have begun mushrooming online. While the new phones generally have received positive grades, many reviewers found the their design boring. “The Pixel 2 hardware is ho-hum,” observed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. “Google didn’t take many risks in its design.”

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Web Apps

Apple Releases Retro Version of iTunes

Apple has made a retro version of iTunes available, 12.6.3, reviving features removed by the mammoth 12.7 overhaul it released last month. News of the release surfaced Monday in a post on Reddit by user vista980622. Apple was low key about the release, saying in an online post dated Sept. 23 that the retro version was for business partners who needed iTunes to mass deploy apps on iOS devices.

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Consumer Security

Android Devs May Follow Apple’s Face ID Lead

Apple’s use of facial recognition to unlock its iPhone X may open the gates for developers champing at the bit to bring the technology to the Android world. Face ID, which will replace fingerprint scanning in Apple’s new iPhone X, uses Apple’s TrueDepth 3D camera to verify the owner of a phone. Android developers have been working on similar systems, said Sensible Vision CEO George Brostoff.

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Computing

When Quantum Computers Come, They May Speak Microsoft

Microsoft has been working on a language for a computer that doesn’t exist. The company unveiled the language — as yet unnamed — at its Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. Part of its Visual Studio product, it will run on a quantum simulator and quantum computer. “Quantum computing is the next phase in computing,” said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates.

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Software

SQL Server 2017 Embraces Linux, Docker

Microsoft on Monday announced the general availability of SQL Server 2017, now with support for Linux, at its Ignite conference in Orlando. The company first announced its plans for the newest iteration of its database software a year and a half ago. This is the first version of SQL Server to run on Windows Server, Linux and Docker, noted Scott Guthrie, EVP, cloud and enterprise, at Microsoft.

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Smartphones

Apple’s Worthy iPhone 8 Models May Languish in X’s Shadow

Reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have been laudatory. However, the reviewers can’t seem to get their minds off the jewel of the Apple universe, the iPhone X. Both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are “awesome” and better than last year’s models — but iPhone shoppers who want to be part of the future will save their money and buy an iPhone X later in the year, suggested reviewer David Pierce.

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Cybercrime

Malware Embedded in CCleaner Tool Puts Millions at Risk

Malicious code has been discovered in two versions of Piniform’s CCleaner housekeeping utility, the company disclosed on Monday. Piniform is owned by Avast, whose security products are used by more than 400 million people. The malware infecting CCleaner could give hackers control over the devices of more than 2 million users. CCleaner is designed to rid computers and mobile phones of junk.

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Smartphones

First Impressions: iPhone X Garners Lots of Cautious Thumbs Up

Apple on Tuesday raised the curtain on its next-generation iPhone X, and it so far has been greeted with praise — though tentative — from early hands-on reviewers. For the most part, they gave the X kudos for design and build, but reserved their unequivocal endorsements until they could spend more time with the phone. A sore point with many reviewers was the mobile’s price.

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Cybersecurity

Global Cyberattack on Energy Sector Stokes Deep Fears

The hacker group known as “Dragonfly” is behind sophisticated wave of recent cyberattacks on the energy sectors of Europe and North America, Symantec reported. The attacks could provide the group with the means to severely disrupt energy operations on both continents. Dragonfly launched a simililar campaign from 2011 to 2014, but it entered a quiet period in 2014 after its activities were exposed.

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Photography

Pixelmator Pro Whirlwind Appears on the Horizon

Pixelmator on Tuesday unveiled Pixelmator Pro 1.0 Whirlwind, a high-powered version of its popular photo editing application for macOS. Whirlwind will be available this fall. The app’s interface has gotten an overhaul — it’s now in a single window with no floating toolbars — and it boasts new nondestructive, GPU-powered image editing tools and enhanced machine-learning features.

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Audio/Video

Alexa Can Make Music Echo All Through the House

Alexa has a new musical talent, Amazon announced Tuesday. “Today, we’re making Alexa even smarter with an all-new feature that lets you play music synchronized on multiple Echo devices to provide room-filling music throughout your home,” said Amazon Alexa Vice President Toni Reid. Setting up the syncing is easy. Using the Alexa app, you give a group of devices a name, such as “first floor.”

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Tech Buzz

Apple to Sate iPhone Curiosity Sept. 12

Apple plans to refresh its iPhone, TV and watch lines at an event scheduled Sept. 12. In addition to upgrading its iPhone 7 models, the company is expected to debut the “iPhone 8” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand. It reportedly will have an OLED display with barely any bezel, a fingerprint scanner at the rear of the phone, and support for facial recognition and wireless charging.

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Software

Google Touts Android Oreo’s Tasty New Features

Google has pulled the wraps off the latest version of its Android mobile OS. Version 8.0 Oreo has a number of improvements over 7.1 Nougat, the previous release of the OS. Google has tweaked Android’s notification feature, for instance, so when an app has notifications pending, a dot appears in a corner of the program’s icon. Press the dot and a window will pop up showing the notifications.

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Tech Buzz

HomePod Devs Stumble Upon Next iPhone Design Clues

Developers combing through the code for the Apple HomePod have found clues to what appear to be features in the next generation of iPhones, and they tweeted their discoveries on Sunday. The firmware for HomePod, Apple’s $349 smart speaker expected in December, apparently contains much of the codebase for future iPhones. One of the goodies in the HomePod’s code is a new biometric method for unlocking an iPhone.

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Audio/Video

Facebook Adds Hardware, Software Vetting and 4K to 360 Live

Facebook has announced several updates to its live-streaming platform, including a new hardware and software vetting program used to create 360-degree video. Through its new Live 360 Ready Program, Facebook will review hardware and software and approve products that work well with its Live 360 offering. Products deemed “ready” for Live 360 will be allowed to display a Facebook Live logo.

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Chips

Microsoft Adds AI to HoloLens Silicon

The next version of Microsoft’s HoloLens may be better at navigating reality than the current version of the mixed-reality headset, thanks to a new coprocessor the company announced Sunday. The second version of HoloLens’ custom multiprocessor — called a “holographic processing unit,” or HPU — will incorporate artificial intelligence technology, Harry Shum, executive vice president of the Artificial Intelligence and Research Group.

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