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Build Your Own Mini Fogging Cauldron December 3, 2022

The best cauldrons are full of bubbling, steamy potions of great magical potential. We don’t have many of those in the real world, though, so sometimes we have to make do with a simulacra. [wannabemadsci] has built just that, with this fogging cauldron prop that uses no fog fluid or dry ice, running solely with […]

We give +10 charisma to Geek and Sundry's Ivan Van Norman (Tomorrow Daily 399 show notes) – CNET

We deep dive into modern brain mapping, donut-delivering drones and glasses-free 3D at the movies. Also, we welcome Ivan Van Norman to the show to discuss his shows on Geek & Sundry and the resurgence of tabletop gaming.
Source: CNet

Harry Potter fanfic site ClintonKaine.com priced at $90,000 – CNET

One political domain squatter isn’t just your average muggle looking to cash in, though he’d be happy to do that, too.
Source: CNet

​You'll soon be able to ramble through an Oculus VR version of Minecraft – CNET

Microsoft’s update of its smash-hit game will reach Facebook’s virtual-reality headset in coming weeks.
Source: CNet

Galaxy Note 7 might let you do your Spanish homework underwater – CNET

With official launch of the Galaxy Note 7 still days away, purported details and photos of the phone are now already online.
Source: CNet

Retro art for 'Rogue One,' 'Mad Max' almost makes VHS cool again – CNET

An artist gives modern movies an ’80s makeover by crafting VHS boxes that would look at home on the shelves of any Blockbuster.
Source: CNet

Try to beat Star Trek's no-win Kobayashi Maru test, flowchart-style – CNET

A flowchart walks you through some scintillating possibilities for Starfleet’s exercise in failure. Will your fate be decided by Klingons or tribbles?
Source: CNet

A fat bird with a grenade launcher is Battleborn's next character – CNET

With a new character launching today, Gearbox revealed the next character, “defensive mastermind” Ernest.
Source: CNet

Dam, that's cool: Water flows upward in Hoover Dam video – CNET

Plan to pour one out for your homies? Remember this cool liquid experiment for your next summer vacation.
Source: CNet

Meet our little Jigglypuff: Pokemon Go inspiring baby names – CNET

Parents who can’t resist the Pokemon Go craze are naming their bundles of joy after Pokemon creatures, according to BabyCenter.
Source: CNet

Microsoft to cut 2,850 more jobs, including some in Microsoft sales

MIcrosoft is cutting 2,850 more jobs beyond the 1,850 that the company announced would be eliminated earlier this year. The new cuts will hit phone hardware and sales.
Source: Microsoft

Watch a lightning-fast robot build a house in just two days – CNET

Your next house might be done sooner than you think, thanks to a brick-laying robot that can put down 1,000 bricks per hour and glue them into place.
Source: CNet

One of the best Kirby games is now on Wii U – CNET

You can now purchase and play Kirby’s Epic Yarn on Wii U.
Source: CNet

Here's how Doom avoids splitting up players with its new premium map DLC – CNET

A free update arrives this week with new modes, followed by the first premium DLC next week.
Source: CNet

Amazon's Prime dominance sparks another record quarter – CNET

The e-commerce giant reported its third consecutive best-ever quarterly profit, thanks to Prime and its AWS cloud service.
Source: CNet

Twitter to live-stream e-sports league championship – CNET

The social network continues to rack up live-streaming sports deals, this time with the popular Eleague.
Source: CNet

Review: IPVanish

Review: IPVanish

While many VPN providers try to stand out with their free plans and cheap commercial products, IPVanish talks more about service quality. It’s "the world’s fastest VPN" says the website, boasting 40,000+ shared IPs, 500+ VPN servers in 60+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, five simultaneous connections and more.

Clients are available for Windows, OS X, Android and iOS, and the company also has setup instructions for Windows 10 Mobile, Chromebook, Linux and routers.

Maintaining a quality network costs money, of course, and IPVanish is significantly more expensive than most other VPNs. The starter price for a month is $10 (£7.69, AU$13.46), three months starts at $26.99 (£20.50, AU$36), or you can pay $77.99 (£60, AU$105) annually. Payment options include credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and a few more.

There’s no free plan or trial, although you do get a 7-day no-strings refund. And we noticed something else you can try – if you sign up for a month, then cancel, and work your way through the ‘yes, I really do want to cancel’ screens, you may eventually be offered a month for free.

Privacy

The IPVanish Terms of Service page takes a while to read, but does at least highlight some points which aren’t made clear elsewhere.

The service is only for non-commercial use by a single individual, for instance. You are allowed up to five active connections to the network per account, and these can be from multiple IP addresses, but they are "prohibited to be used by anyone but the account holder".

You could allow the family to connect anyway and hope the company doesn’t notice, but beware. If there’s heavy simultaneous usage on two or more connections then it’ll quickly become obvious, and IPVanish has the usual clause saying it can close your account immediately if it thinks you’re breaking the rules.

On the plus side, the refund policy has no obvious catches – if you’re unhappy and ask for a refund within 7 days, you get it. If you’ve used some unusual payment method which doesn’t allow refunds, they’ll offer a service instead.

The privacy policy is fair, too. IPVanish’s servers are held in the US and your data doesn’t have the same protection it would get in Europe, but the company also makes it clear that there’s no logging of your internet activities, so there’s little information available.

Performance

IPVanish’s PC client impressed us immediately with its smart installer. Unlike other providers, it doesn’t just blindly install or update your OpenVPN drivers. It’ll use them if they’re installed, if not it’ll offer to install them for you, and even then you’ll get options on what to do (‘remind me later’ or don’t install at all).

We liked the interface, too. A dashboard shows your current IP location on a world map, system diagnostics and settings are easy to access, and you can still connect or disconnect with a click.

There are some excellent server selection tools. You can browse, choose and connect to them from a map – a lengthy list can be sorted by ping, country, last used or the number of times you’ve connected, or filtered by keyword. Or you can just choose from a few usage options, including media and gaming in the US, UK or Canada.

A wide range of settings not only cover the basics (start when Windows starts) and the more advanced features you might get elsewhere (kill switch, split tunnelling), but add further goodies.

For example, on launch you can have the client connect to the fastest server, rather than whatever you were using last time. And if even a VPN isn’t quite private enough for you, there’s an option to automatically change your IP address at periodic intervals (minimum 45 minutes – the system has to disconnect and reconnect to make that happen).

Once we were online the service correctly kept our IP address hidden, passing all leak tests. The only small oddity was that another IP address showed up in the WebRTC leak test, but it wasn’t ours and didn’t reveal our identity.

Performance tests* were interesting, with IPVanish being up to five times quicker over some short hops compared to some rival VPN clients we’ve reviewed. Our long-distance test results didn’t get anything close to that – in fact, latency (203% up, in other words trebled) and upload speeds (24% of our normal rates) were nothing special at all – but the VPN improved our download speeds by 17%, one of the best results we’ve ever seen in this department.

Final verdict

The price is still going to be an issue for some, but IPVanish’s high speeds, choice of locations and excellent client are hard to beat. If you’re after quality, take the plunge with this VPN, and if somehow you end up unhappy with the service there’s always that 7-day money-back guarantee.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 launched 20 years ago this week

Microsoft’s original server operating system, Windows NT, and specifically the 4.0 release of that product, hit RTM 20 years ago. Wow, I feel old.
Source: Microsoft

I blame computers for ruining my handwriting – CNET

Embarrassed by her sloppy handwriting in the age of keyboards, CNET contributor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper turns to the experts. Can her penmanship be saved?
Source: CNet

Apple's new Williamsburg store looks Brooklyn and feels San Francisco – CNET

The Apple store is the most recent addition, after Whole Foods and Equinox, to the increasingly high-end area.
Source: CNet

Apple opens a new store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – CNET

Get a behind-closed-doors look at the soon-to-open first Apple Store in Brooklyn.
Source: CNet

Facebook will honor refunds for mistaken in-app purchases made by minors – CNET

A California court has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a ​2012 class action lawsuit brought against the social media giant.
Source: CNet

Review: Invisible Browsing VPN

Review: Invisible Browsing VPN

Invisible Browsing VPN (ibVPN) is a brand of Romanian-based firm Amplusnet and has been offering VPN services since 2010.

The company currently offers no less than six products, including a free plan, a Standard VPN ($18.48 per year – which is around £14, AU$25) and Ultimate VPN ($58.06 – that’s £44, AU$77), and specialist plans for torrents and small businesses. The low prices seem attractive, but check the small print and issues soon appear.

The free account is limited to one connection, a single protocol, 10 countries, has only "best effort" speeds and no mobile app. It’s yours for one tweet or Facebook share per year.

The Standard account gives you 90+ servers in 41 countries and supports OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP and SSTP, but it’s still strictly no-torrents, and only gives you a single connection.

The $58 per year Ultimate plan is more like the competition, with 100+ servers in 43 countries, three simultaneous connections, torrent and P2P support, a Chrome extension, mobile apps and more.

There are instructions and apps to help you get the service up and running almost anywhere, and almost 50 payment options, including credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and more.

The trial gives you an extremely limited six hours to try the service out, but you do get a 15-day 100% money-back guarantee, and overall there’s plenty of choice and some value for the less demanding user.

Privacy

IbVPN’s Privacy Policy is a well-designed document which ditches the usual legal jargon, replacing it with short, clear paragraphs which you might actually want to read.

The following, for example, are every single heading and subheading in the policy: Introduction, Information Collected (Logging, Personal Information, Payment, Encryption, Cookies), How We Use Information, Affiliates. It’s writing for people, not lawyers, which is certainly refreshing.

The contents are clear, too. Limited personal information is stored related to user accounts, but it’s not shared with anyone, and the system doesn’t log or have any way to relate web activities to a specific user.

The Terms of Service page is more complex, but we ploughed through it anyway and found a few interesting points.

IbVPN says its products are only for personal use, and may not be used for commercial purposes.

P2P support is limited to a small number of servers only, and you mustn’t "overburden" the service, presumably by using it "too much".

The client blocks SMTP ports 25 and 465 when the service is enabled "to avoid spam from our servers", which could mean you need to reconfigure your email to get it working.

Unusually, the policy says "it is not recommended to use our service for online transactions. In these cases your real IP should be used".

You’re also required to be at least 18 before you can sign up for the service.

Performance

Invisible Browsing VPN’s client has a cluttered interface which makes little attempt to hide its various options and settings. On the main screen alone you have a login section, a choice of active packages, a list of protocols and sub-protocols, a list of available servers, a separate link to see server load, a ‘hide on connection’ option, a check your IP address link, a Show Log option, and – oh, yes – the Connect button.

The settings options cover basics like a ‘connect when Windows starts’ setting and a configurable kill switch (you must choose the applications to close).

There’s also a separate ibDNS switch which enables choosing your own DNS region, perhaps speeding up media streaming.

Once we were using ibDNS, ibVPN correctly passed all our leak tests, giving us a new virtual location on demand.

Performance was mixed in our tests*. Best-case short hop speeds were excellent and well above average, but our connection from the UK to the US was poor, with latency increased by 104%, downloads falling to 36% of normal speeds, and uploads reduced to 19% of our usual rate.

This isn’t necessarily a fatal problem. We tried streaming HD video and although there was a fractional pause just occasionally, it was still very watchable.

Final verdict

All in all, this service is not bad for the price you’re paying. If you can live with the Standard account’s no-torrent, single connection conditions, then it’s a good value choice.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Review: Hotspot Shield

Review: Hotspot Shield

AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield is a very popular VPN service, best known for its free account.

Hotspot Shield Elite is the £18.95 ($25, AU$33) per year extended edition (£63.95 lifetime plan – that’s $84, AU$112) which drops the ads, supports private browsing, virtual locations, allows "access all content", and supports up to five devices.

The service offers a choice of 20 locations including the US, UK, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Turkey and Mexico.

There are clients available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and, unusually, Kindle.

The Elite account comes with a 7-day trial, but you must enter your credit card details when you sign up. You’re charged once the trial is over – however, there’s also a 30-day refund option.

Privacy

The official product pages never tell you everything you need to know about a service, so we headed off to the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages to uncover the real details. Hotpot Shield doesn’t have the shortest of either of these that we’ve ever seen, but they still do a reasonable job of explaining how the system is run.

There’s not just a blanket "no logging" claim, for instance. Instead it’s explained that personal details such as email addresses and payment information are stored, but not related to your online activities, and any browsing or connection information which might be recorded is deleted when your VPN session closes.

One unusual clause says that "as part of the Service, AnchorFree may install its own certificate on your Device as a Trusted Publisher" – and "AnchorFree reserves the right to make future installs or updates to such certificates on your Device in connection with providing the Service at any time without any notice…"

That isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s certainly more intrusive than most of the competition.

There’s also an age clause, warning that you may not "use the Hotspot Shield Software or the Service if you are under the age of 18".

Performance

Hotpot Shield’s colourful client is compact and straightforward to use. Just click a button to connect, optionally change your location as required, and the system clearly shows when you’re protected.

There are an array of buttons for popular streaming and other sites, including Netflix, YouTube, HBO and Facebook. Clicking any of these immediately opens your default browser at that address.

Hotpot Shield Elite has a very small number of settings. The most important – automatically turning on the product for unsafe Wi-Fi hotspots, and preventing leaks – are turned on by default, so you’re not left with much to do.

IPLeak.net showed that the service hid our IP address and avoided DNS leaks. The WebRTC test showed an IP address belonging to an AnchorFree anonymous proxy. This didn’t expose our identity in any way, but it may have allowed other sites to detect that we were using a VPN and block us accordingly.

The results from our performance tests* were excellent, with latency showing only a marginal 11% increase compared to our normal connection, and both upload and download speeds were a little faster once connected to the VPN (30% and 4%, respectively).

Final verdict

We’d like more configurability and a wider range of locations, but Hotspot Shield Elite’s high speeds and low price give it a lot of appeal, and the 7-day trial makes it easy to test the service for yourself.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Review: Hola Premium

Review: Hola Premium

Buy a VPN service and you’ll probably expect access to some carefully designed network of managed servers, smartly linked via highly secure protocols to prevent unauthorised access to your traffic.

Hola isn’t like that at all.

The Israeli company describes its offering as a "community powered (Peer-to-Peer) VPN" which routes your traffic through other user’s computers, rather than the usual proxy servers. In theory this can improve anonymity and make it more difficult for Hola to be detected and blocked, although sites like Netflix often manage this anyway.

The service is entirely free for non-commercial use, at least, with no bandwidth or data caps.

One obvious concern is that although you get to use the bandwidth of other Hola nodes, they can also access yours. But Hola says this isn’t as bad as it sounds, because resources are only used when your computer is idle, and the average daily traffic is "less than a 20 second YouTube clip".

What’s more worrying is that if you’re the final node for another Hola user who’s hacking, sending spam or downloading something illegal, your IP address may be recorded as the offender.

You can get around this by upgrading to the $5 (£3.85, AU$6.73) per month Hola Premium, giving access to the network without having to contribute your own bandwidth, but there are still plenty of issues to consider.

Privacy

Hola’s model of routing data through its users has some advantages, but the EULA also reveals problems you might not have considered.

For example, the free service doesn’t just route network traffic, it may also cache information you’ve accessed on your hard drive. We’re unsure how protected this might be, but it still means Hola could leave a level of browsing history on your drive which won’t be removed by normal means.

The $5 (£3.85, AU$6.73) per month Hola Premium doesn’t allow others to use your resources, but it may not be as cheap as it looks. The license covers you per platform only, so if you’re looking to use multiple device types – a PC, a tablet, a phone – you’ll need to pay once for each.

Hola’s EULA also has an unusual clause stating that the service can’t be used "if you are not the owner or approved administrator of the device on which you install the Software or otherwise use the Services."

As usual with these points, we’re not sure how they would know if you didn’t comply, but all this is something to bear in mind.

Performance

Hola doesn’t offer the same system-level PC network changes as other VPNs. Instead, on our test PC we either had to use Hola’s own Chromium-based browser, or its Chrome or Opera browser extensions.

The end result is less about overall privacy, and more about unblocking specific websites. You might visit the site you’d like to use, then open the Hola extension, choose the flag of some other country, and try accessing the site again. This usually worked for us, but in the meantime other web software (or your browser, if you visit other sites) will use your normal IP address.

If the service doesn’t work for you, Hola’s high-level approach means it’s vulnerable to conflicts with a lot of other software. The Hola FAQ suggests fixing problems by disabling "other VPN (Virtual Private Server), proxy software, or other software which might conflict with Hola e.g. IE tab, Avast WebRep, Flash Blocker, NoScript". Not exactly reassuring, or convenient.

As Hola works so differently we were unable to run our usual VPN speed tests. In general terms, we found download performance was usually impressive enough, but ranged from excellent to useless, presumably because there are so many routes your traffic can take.

Final verdict

If you have no budget, and just want to unblock specific sites, Hola’s free account may still look appealing. But it also has major disadvantages, and with Hola Premium’s price barely cheaper than some ‘real’ VPNs, it doesn’t seem like a good deal to us.

Source: Tech Radar

Oracle banks on the cloud, buys NetSuite for $9.3 billion – CNET

​Oracle Corp. today announced the ​purchase of NetSuite Inc. to bolster its software with cloud-computing technology.
Source: CNet