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Biology Lab on Your Christmas List December 11, 2018

We hope you have been good this year because we have a list to start your own biology lab and not everything will fit into Santa’s bag (of holding). If you need some last minute goodie points, Santa loves open-source and people who share on our tip line. Our friends at [The Thought Emporium] have […]

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Niantic CEO John Hanke's Twitter account hacked – CNET

The hacker has made posts requesting that Pokemon Go be released in Brazil, and directing users to check their account security.
Source: CNet

Draymond Green admits to posting NSFW self-portrait on Snapchat – CNET

Technically Incorrect: First, the Golden State Warriors star claims he was hacked. Then he comes clean.
Source: CNet

Uber said to make $500M investment in global mapping – CNET

Ambitious project could reduce Uber’s dependence on Google Maps and support driverless cars, reports Financial Times.
Source: CNet

Ex-Apple store employees reveal how customers try to fool them – CNET

Technically Incorrect: In an entertaining exposé, three former Apple store workers explain what customers fail to mention about their malfunctioning iPhones.
Source: CNet

Relive Comic-Con 2016 with impressive cosplay video – CNET

See talented cosplayers dressed as Doctor Strange, Wonder Woman, Xena the Warrior Princess, and more in this new video from Sneaky Zebra.
Source: CNet

Baguette vending machine bakes up French-style bread at anytime – CNET

Micro bakery Le Bread Xpress offers oven-baked baguettes on demand, with no trip to France needed. Sacré bleu!
Source: CNet

Watch a man skydive 25,000 feet without a parachute (and survive) – CNET

Technically Incorrect: Luke Aikins become the first ever human to leap from a plane high up and just dive right down.
Source: CNet

Microsoft is updating Windows 10 again, in its latest bid to win you back – CNET

The company is following through on its commitment to regularly refine its Windows 10 software. Now it needs to get you to care.
Source: CNet

Amazon's next noise-canceling headphones could turn off when someone yells your name – CNET

The online sales giant just patented designs for the first headphone that can save lives.
Source: CNet

'Stranger Things' re-created as an adventure video game – CNET

Game designer Jacob Janerka pays homage to the hit supernatural Netflix series with this point-and-click adventure game art.
Source: CNet

Covering the DNC: What I did on my summer vacation – CNET

CNET tech reporter Marguerite Reardon joined 20,000 other newshounds covering the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Here’s what it was like.
Source: CNet

The DNC in pictures – CNET

CNET’s Marguerite Reardon gives you an on-the-ground look at her time covering last week’s Democratic National Convention.
Source: CNet

Kanye West rants on Twitter to get Apple to buy Tidal – CNET

Technically Incorrect: Where else would the great controversialist try to do business? He just wants to make sweet, streaming music. So he wants Apple to buy Tidal.
Source: CNet

'Game of Thrones' will officially end in season 8, confirms HBO boss – CNET

The network would “take 10 seasons if we could,” but the show’s creators are adamant that eight will be the number.
Source: CNet

Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi calling – CNET

Curious about Wi-Fi calling and what it entails? CNET has the rundown on what you need to know.
Source: CNet

That time Jason Bourne went to a fake CES – CNET

Being a technology journalist is exactly like being an action hero, especially when superspy Jason Bourne hits a tech trade show in his latest movie.
Source: CNet

Hands-on review: BT Smart Hub

Hands-on review: BT Smart Hub

BT is the last of the big internet service providers in the UK, after Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk, to introduce an upgrade to its router, more than two years after the last one, the Home Hub 5, came to market.

The Smart Hub (notice the subtle name change, although effectively this is the Home Hub 6) claims to have the most powerful Wi-Fi signal in the UK thanks to its seven antennas, more than its main rivals.

It also packs some clever technology that reduces interference, improving reliability by reducing the number of dropouts. Another nifty piece of tech, BT Smart Scan, seamlessly swaps channels in the background to dodge any congestion.

BT Smart Hub rear

There are plenty of little details that BT engineers and designers seem to have worked on with the Smart Hub, starting from the box. It is slim enough to slip through most letterboxes according to BT, which is done to encourage self-installation and therefore reduce the cost of visits for BT.

Furthermore, the instructions are printed on the inside of the box and BT encourages its existing users to recycle their old routers by shipping them back in said packaging.

It’s also worth noting that the lights on the router can be switched off or dimmed, and the lights and icons present on the Home Hub 5 have been removed to avoid confusion.

You will still need to check the user guide to interpret the hub lights though (no lights, green light, flashing orange, flashing purple, steady orange, red and blue).

BT gives you three copies of your Hub details (SSID, admin password for hub manager and wireless password or key). Two of those are on the router itself, and one is available on a sticker, handy if your router is located far from your home office for example.

BT Smart Hub front

The hub is much taller than the one it replaces, but shares a lot in common with its predecessor. At the back, there are four Ethernet ports (all Gigabit capable), a USB port, a power in socket, a power on/off button, an RJ11 broadband socket and a factory reset button. On one side of the router is a WPS Wi-Fi setup button.

We don’t know who built the BT Smart Hub but we suspect it is either Arcadyan or Sagemcom, the outsourced manufacturers for the Home Hub 5, the current BT router which is still being sold for £129.

We did manage to open up the device but failed to recognise or indeed log any meaningful indicators except for the character string RTV1906VW-D18. All of the major components were hidden under a metal cap which prevented us from identifying them.

That was not the only surprise that BT had in store for us. There seems to be two versions of this router as well, aimed at two categories of customers according to the moderator of BT’s customer forum.

The first one – the one we got for review – has four GbE ports and is meant for FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and ADSL customers. The second one is for FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) customers, and in this variant one of the GbE ports has been configured to work as a WAN port for the ONT (Optical Network Terminal) connection.

BT Smart Hub interface

Unlike some of its competitors, the Smart Hub offers only one SSID by default which combines both 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals.

As for the configuration manager, it is far more intuitive than you’d expect with clearly identified, logically grouped sections: My Devices, Wireless, Status, Help, Hub Light Control, Broadband Test, Smart Setup, Restart and Advanced Settings.

The latter is where all the fun is, allowing the more expert user to tinker with port forwarding or UPnP.

BT Smart Hub interface 2

Early verdict

Sadly, we couldn’t fully test the Smart Hub; as a Virgin Media customer, we had the wrong type of router sent to us (the one without a WAN port) – not that this was anyone’s fault.

The Smart Hub is available for new BT customers for free on BT Infinity Broadband. Those on standard BT broadband can upgrade for a fee (to get the router free, as it were) or they can buy a BT Smart Hub for £50, an £80 saving.

Non-BT customers can make their way to eBay where they will find quite a few Smart Hubs already on sale despite being launched just a few weeks ago. Just be aware that you will need the WAN-enabled version to make the most out of it.

Note: We’ve asked BT to send us the other version of the Smart Hub router and will update this review as soon as possible.

Source: Tech Radar

The stereo gear that amplifies my friendships – CNET

Peter had an irrepressible passion for music. I share that love through his old tube amplifier.
Source: CNet

Enjoy Disney Infinity now, because many of its features will shut down next year – CNET

Your collection of Marvel, Star Wars and Disney video game characters will do a lot less in 2017.
Source: CNet

Apple may be hurting its own TV service plans (Apple Byte Extra Crunchy, Ep. 48) – CNET

Apple’s hubris is holding back its TV streaming service, the Apple car is focusing on an autonomous driving system, and we’ve got new Apple Watch details.
Source: CNet

Apple's hurting its own TV service plans (Apple Byte Extra Crunchy, Ep. 48) – CNET

Apple’s hubris is holding back its TV streaming service, the Apple car is focusing on an autonomous driving system, and we’ve got new Apple Watch details.
Source: CNet

Marvel's Luke Cage Netflix series increases hip-hop mass appeal, names episodes after Gang Starr songs – CNET

Every episode of the upcoming series will be named after songs by the prolific hip-hop duo and the first three have already been revealed.
Source: CNet

Dems hit by another hack – CNET

Hackers attack a group that raises funds for Democratic party candidates running for the House. The FBI is investigating.
Source: CNet

Social media swoons over photos of young Tim Kaine – CNET

Hipster cred and cheekbone compliments ensue after old photos surface on Twitter of Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.
Source: CNet

WhatsApp chats leave a record even after deletion, says security researcher – CNET

Conversations can reportedly be reconstructed from traces of trashed chats.
Source: CNet

Apple counters Samsung in Supreme Court struggle – CNET

If you steal one chocolate chip, should you pay for the whole cookie? That’s one way of characterizing the issue at hand.
Source: CNet

Microsoft: More details on the end of 'Get Windows 10' and what's next

Microsoft is ending not only the Windows 10 free upgrade offer, but also its ‘Get Windows 10’ (GWX) update campaign on July 29. Here’s what to expect as GWX is phased out.
Source: Microsoft

Stephen Hawking: Being stinking rich shouldn't be our dream – CNET

Technically Incorrect: The famed physicist says we’re going to have to start sharing our money more.
Source: CNet

Microsoft cuts 2,850 more jobs – CNET

The company continues its streamlining with yet another round of layoffs.
Source: CNet

Supercars, super cars and a Gigafactory: Our week on Instagram – Roadshow

Next week, Instagram will be somebody else’s problem! Mwahaha. I’ll probably still have to write this, though.
Source: CNet

Chevrolet wins award for lamest recall of the year thus far – Roadshow

There’s nothing as exciting as accidentally forgetting a three-digit code to force a recall of nearly 33,000 vehicles.
Source: CNet

New Android Trojan SpyNote leaks on underground forums

A new and potent Android Trojan has been leaked on several underground forums, making it available for free to less resourceful cybercriminals who are now likely to use it in attacks.

The Trojan app is called SpyNote and allows hackers to steal users’ messages and contacts, listen in on their calls, record audio using the device’s built-in microphone, control the device camera, make rogue calls and more.

According to researchers from Palo Alto Networks, SpyNote does not require root access to a device, but does prompt users for a long list of permissions on installation. The Trojan can also update itself and install other rogue applications on the device.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Source: Security

Rescue services called to help stranded Pokemon Go players – CNET

Technically Incorrect: In the UK, the tide comes in and a number of players are marooned on an island.
Source: CNet

Driveclub VR is launch title for PlayStation VR in Japan, will have new tracks – CNET

Cockpit view and realistic 3D audio are mentioned as features in the game.
Source: CNet

Did you buy a GTX 970? Nvidia owes you $30 if you live in the US – CNET

A proposed settlement to a class-action will see Nvidia shell out $30 for each GTX 970 purchase.
Source: CNet

The Oregon Trail is back, but this time it's a card game – CNET

A Target exclusive, the card game should bring back a wagon load of nostalgia.
Source: CNet

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Introduction, design, features and specs.

As the BYOD (aka "bring your own device") movement gains more traction than ever, people are expecting more portable, multi-purpose and even stylish devices. Lenovo, the de facto leader in the business hardware world with IBM’s ThinkPad brand in hand, has been paying close attention.

It’s latest attempt to appease the iPad-hungry audience is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet, arguably its most adaptable computing device yet. Complete with hot-swappable modules, a built-in fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello and ThinkPad’s signature slick but understated design, is this the work-ready tablet to rule them all? It’s a bit more complicated than that.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Design

Lenovo clearly crafted the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with versatility in mind, drawing inspiration from unique ideas of its own (e.g. a projector module similar to that of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro) while cribbing – and improving upon – at least one from the market-leading Surface Pro 4 (e.g. the magnetized keyboard cover for multiple typing angles).

Like so many of its products, Lenovo’s new modular business hybrid comes coated in a black, soft touch paint that looks slick and understated, a hallmark of the brand that is never lost on Lenovo. If you’re trying to give off a professional but tech-savvy vibe, this tablet’s profile will serve you well.

However, we have one major pain point with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet design: the kickstand. Rather than opening out and upward, like the Surface Pro 4, this tablet’s hinge opens out and downward, so that the base of the kickstand rests on your lap, not the edge of it like with Microsoft’s solution.

Because this arrangement doesn’t offer much resistance beyond its sturdy hinge, it’s far easier for this tablet to slide off of your lap than it is for Microsoft’s. That’s because the latter uses the friction created by the lip of its kickstand to keep it steady.

While a bit of a pain, and definitely a matter that should be accounted for in considering whether to pick one of these up, the reasoning for the design makes sense. The various connections and controllers for the tablet’s available modules likely need that space that would otherwise be thinned out for a hinge that flips upward. But, was that a worthy trade off?

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

March of the modules

Well, that’s tough to say with 100% certainty, as we’ve yet to use Lenovo’s Presenter module outside of a press briefing. But, the fact that the Productivity Module boosts battery life by nearly two hours in our tests speaks pretty well as to whether it’s worth a bit less stability on your lap.

And that’s before you even consider the additional ports it offers: one more USB 3.0, HDMI and Lenovo’s OneLink port. Not a bad trade-off at all. That said, it’s the $150 (about £116, AU$197) price tag that will hurt more than a bit of a slippery grip on your legs.

The Presenter Module, while we haven’t been able to test it out in any detail since CES, throws an 854 x 480-pixel image up to 60 inches wide from 200cm (about 6.5 feet) away. The module operates fanlessly and adds up to 2 hours of juice to the tablet’s battery. Finally, its HDMI port can accept both incoming and outgoing connections.

However, at $300 (about £226, AU$394), the Presenter Module is rather prohibitively priced. Granted, IT fleets might only carry a few of these for employees to share, but for the individual at a startup that might be looking at this versus a legit, full HD projector for about the same price, it becomes harder to justify.

Regardless, with modularity sweeping the tech scene right now, we hope that Lenovo continues exploring and – more importantly – refining these ideas, because something tells me this trend isn’t going to fade anytime soon.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Spec sheet

  • Here is the ThinkPad X1 Tablet configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
  • CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core m7-6Y75 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.1GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 (1,866MHz)
  • Screen: 12-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 FHD+, IPS multi-touch display (3:2 aspect ratio)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD (M.2)
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C, Mini DisplayPort, microSD, 3.5mm audio jack, Nano SIM port
  • Connectivity: Intel 8260 dual-band 802.11ac with Bluetooth combo
  • Weight: Tablet: 1.69 pounds (0.77 kg); Keyboard: 0.66 pounds (0.30 kg)
  • Size: Tablet: 11.45 x 8.24 x 0.33 inches (291 x 209.5 x 8.45 mm); Keyboard: 11.41 x 8.97 x 0.20 inches (290 x 228 x 5.2 mm; W x D x H)

The configuration you see above goes for around $1,600 (about £1,199, AU$2,096), with the starting setup poised to run you about $1,100 (around £830, AU$1,440) – both of which come with the ThinkPad Keyboard cover. The entry-level spec halves both the available memory and storage space while bringing the dual-core processor down 100MHz in frequency.

Without the keyboard cover, which we’d say is all but essential, the ThinkPad Tablet X1 starts at $899 (about £679, AU$1,199)?. That’s a bit pricier altogether than Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro 4 device, but it’s hardly an apples-to-apples comparison.

Speaking of the keyboard, expect to find nothing less than Lenovo’s stalwart typing pedigree on display. This is all but a traditional Lenovo AccuType keyboard, with a firm keyboard deck and the satisfying kickback you’ve come to love plus the traditional, accurate and smooth TrackPoint inputs.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Of course, the whole set of keys is brightly and uniformly backlit. But, the stars of the show are the two magnets through which the keyboard attaches to the tablet or any module that’s attached to its base.

Taking the concept one step further than the Surface Pro 4, these offer not one, but two additional angles from which to type. Then again, we find ourselves using the "default" that’s at about a 35-degree angle than the new one that’s about 50 degrees – it’s simply too elevated.

At any rate, this is one of the most comfortable keyboard covers we’ve ever typed with, so kudos to Lenovo on that.

Performance, screen, battery life and verdict

Lenovo’s latest business-bent tablet has done Intel’s Core m line of chips a great service with some positive PR. Despite what assumptions you may have about the fabricator’s line of mobile-focused silicon, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet nearly surpassed the Surface Pro 4 model we tested late last year housing an albeit dated Core i series CPU.

The Lenovo system also completely smoked the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S we reviewed earlier this year, though Samsung’s was rocking a Core m3 chip while the X1 Tablet here contains an m7 model of the same generation.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Benchmarks

  • Here’s how the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 4,905 points; Sky Diver: 2,744 points; Fire Strike: 678 points
  • Cinebench CPU: 236 points; OpenGL Graphics: 34 fps
  • Geekbench: 3,214 points (single-core); 6,437 points (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 Home: 2,403 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 8 minutes

We get it, these numbers alone don’t say much about what this tablet is capable of, so we’ll put that into perspective. With one of the beefiest Intel Core m chips to date, the Tablet X1 can all but handle the same workloads the Surface Pro 4 can, coming within three – yes, it was that close – points of its PCMark 8 score.

With graphics test scores like these, I wouldn’t expect to get much more out of the Tablet X1 than silky smooth HD video playback and the most casual of games during those lunch breaks. As far as productivity goes, that 8GB of RAM will let you keep way more than 10 browser tabs open without having to reload their contents. And, that chip will do just fine throughout various intense spreadsheet functions, like VLOOKUP.

Oddly enough – considering this is Core m we’re talking about here – what you have to look out for is battery life.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Latching onto longevity

Lenovo projects its Tablet X1 to last for up to 10 hours of continuous use. However, in our testing, we saw just over three hours from the PCMark 8 Battery Test at 50% brightness. That said, slapping on the device’s battery-packing Productivity Module increased its lasting power in the test, which simulates general use from word processing to video chatting, to 4 hours and 37 minutes.

In our local video playback test (also at 50% brightness), the tablet lasted for 5 hours and 7 minutes without the module and 6 hours and 45 minutes with it attached. So, if you want something close to all-day battery life from this device, the Productivity Module is all but required. However, the module costs, again, a cool $150 (about £115, AU$200).

The module does add a bunch of valuable ports in addition to extra battery life. But, when the Surface Pro 4 can reliably last for 5-plus hours, and Samsung’s TabPro S even longer at 6-plus hours – both without the need for a $150 attachment – it’s enough to make you second guess.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

A sharp, but simple, screen

Perhaps part of the blame for the X1 Tablet’s relatively short battery life is its awfully sharp screen. Taking a cue from Microsoft’s Surface, the 3:2 display puts out 2,160 x 1,440 pixels, which is quite a lot for word processing, spreadsheet work and presenting to potential clients or what have you.

Don’t get us wrong, the IPS panel, with its screen-sharably wide viewing angles, is downright gorgeous. Colors pop but look realistic, and it gets plenty bright – not to mention that the bezels are pretty thin considering the fingerprint sensor on the right bezel. But, is it perhaps a bit overkill for who you might figure the target audience is? In our opinion, the general professional would do just fine with a standard FHD screen if it meant even a small amount of extra longevity.

So, is this the new go-to tablet for professionals, or does that accolade still belong to the Surface Pro 4 or iPad Pro? Again, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

We liked

Versatility is the name of this tablet’s game, and the ThinkPad X1 Tablet has no rival here. Theoretically, the X1 Tablet can last as long as how many charged-up Productivity Modules you have on hand, which power users will appreciate. Plus, the keyboard cover, being adorned with Lenovo’s AccuType keys, is arguably the best tablet keyboard on the market.

We disliked

That said, achieving the X1 Tablet’s superior versatility gets expensive pretty quickly, especially when bought in individual units. Also, spending that extra cash doesn’t get you as much battery life over the competition as we feel it should. Finally, the hinge design isn’t all that conducive to lap typing, which train and/or bus commuters will find bothersome.

ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Final verdict

For the ThinkPad diehards out there, you’ve just met the best business-bent tablet that money can buy. However, no product exists in a vacuum.

For as impressive as the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is, both Apple and Microsoft still rule the roost when it comes to ergonomics and cost-effectiveness. Unless you’re running several presentations a day on the go or have incredible love and loyalty for AccuType keyboards, there isn’t a terribly compelling reason to buy this tablet over either Microsoft or Apple’s.

Source: Tech Radar

MOD-t first look: a low-cost 3D printer suitable for office or home

As part of our ongoing 3D Printing Discovery Series, David Gewirtz takes a first look at an inexpensive and quiet 3D printer that might just be nice enough to keep in your office or home, rather than in your workshop or lab.
Source: DIY IT

Review: ZPN

Review: ZPN

We like VPN companies to offer a free account of some kind, and ZPN’s is better than most with a generous 10GB monthly allowance. Sure, there are only five locations and just a single connection allowed, along with limited bandwidth and absolutely no P2P at all, but if you’re looking for basic anonymous browsing this might easily be enough.

The Mobile plan improves this with unlimited bandwidth, 30+ locations, a 50GB monthly quota and P2P allowed in "premium locations" (fortunately that was 28 out of 33 in our tests). It’s still only covering one device and one connection, but at $2.99 (£2.30, AU$4) for a single month (or $23.88 if you fork out for a full year – that’s £18, AU$32) it makes cheap cover for a trip.

The top-of-the-range Premium plan removes all the limits, giving you unlimited data and support for five simultaneous connections. It’s also a relatively high price, though, at $9.99 (£7.70, AU$13.50) for a single month, or $71.88 (£55, AU$95) for a full year.

You’re able to pay with credit cards, PayPal and Bitcoin, and the company offers a 7-day refund.

Privacy

ZPN’s Terms of Service is unusually short and clearly written. Lengthy paragraphs are mostly replaced by one or two sentences, and even those have the most important words highlighted in bold for faster reading. For example, the usual service level agreement-type detail is replaced by 29 words beginning with "actual network speed will vary…" and adding some possible causes (network congestion etc).

The Privacy Policy is just as economical, which means it doesn’t take long to understand the ZPN fundamentals: the firm says it does its best but can’t guarantee the service works all the time, and that you must promise not to break the law or hog resources (the standard fair usage policy), but the company doesn’t log what you’re doing anyway.

The only catch we could find was with ZPN’s account billing, where unusually there’s no automated way to cancel a service. You must contact support.

Performance

ZPN got off to a terrible start in our real-world tests when we couldn’t download the Windows client.

It got worse when we realised why – the server certificate had been revoked. Not the way to impress customers with your security skills.

Everyone can have a bad day, so we posted a message on ZPN’s website reporting the issue, but didn’t receive a reply and nothing had changed days later.

ZPN has presumably got away with this because its page has links to download the client from other download sites. We used one of these, and it worked correctly allowing us to install the program without issue.

The client is simple but well presented. A single panel displays your connection status, location, connection time, IP address and account details (data and days left), and you’re able to connect, disconnect or change location in a click or two.

You also get quite a few configuration options, including various low-level controls (VPN protocol, IP protocol, ports, and more), with extra tools available on the website.

One problem with these settings is that you can update them immediately, but there’s no warning that the changes won’t be applied until you reboot. You might think you’ve fixed any IPv6 leak, but that’s not necessarily true.

The other issue is that the ‘DNS Leak Fix’ didn’t work, at least not for us. We applied it, rebooted and tried it again, but our ISP’s DNS was still visible online.

In our performance tests*, ZPN was reasonable in most cases – latency was up 88% compared to our normal connection, download speeds dropped to 75% of the standard rate, and uploads were reduced to 43% – although we found significant variations amongst servers. Some were effectively unusable, at least some of the time – fancy an upload speed of 0.08Mbps, anyone?

Final verdict

ZPN’s broken site certificate and the lack of any support doesn’t inspire confidence (the firm’s last Facebook page update was four months ago, and has several unanswered complaints and questions attached). If the company takes an age to respond to something so major and fundamental, how much attention do you think they’ll pay to any questions of yours?

Still, ZPN is rated highly by some people, the free account has a good data allowance, and the mobile clients score well on app stores. If you just need a free app for basic browsing, by all means try this, but think very carefully before you give the company any money.

*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

Get ready to clear some space, PlayStation VR asks for 60 square feet to play – CNET

New documentation details heavy space requirements to set up Sony’s VR accessory.
Source: CNet

Pour yourself a pint, this museum is hiring a 'beer historian' – CNET

Drinking on the job is usually frowned upon, but one distinguished museum is making suds an essential part of a new position.
Source: CNet

Review: TotalVPN

Review: TotalVPN

TotalVPN is a brand of the Endurance International Group, the company behind names such as Homestead, JustCloud and Typepad.

The service offers just one commercial product, Total Premium, with a fairly standard specification: 30+ supported locations, no bandwidth or data caps, three simultaneous connections and protocol support for PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and IkeV2.

This should work almost everywhere, including Windows, Android, iOS, OS X, and apparently a Chromebook app is "coming soon".

TotalVPN’s £4.99 ($6.49, AU$8.73) per month headline price appears low, but look closely and you’ll see it’s a special offer for the first month only, and doesn’t even include VAT. The regular cost is £17.96 ($24, AU$31) for a single month, £14.36 per month if you sign up for a year – meaning you’ll pay £172.32 ($224, AU$302) per year. Alternatively, it’s £11.96 per month if you commit to a two-year contract, which works out at £143.52 per year ($188, AU$250).

You might think that kind of premium price would guarantee an amazing service, but apparently not. Once you’ve signed up you’re offered extras like ‘SuperCharge’, which gives you access to "super-fast servers" for a further £24.95 ($33, AU$44) for the first year, £49.90 ($66, AU$88) after that.

You can at least sample the service with a basic Free account, though. There’s limited bandwidth, a data cap, three servers and one device supported only, but it should give you an idea of Total VPN’s abilities.

Privacy

To sign up for a TotalVPN account you must provide an email address, and payment must be via credit card or PayPal.

The company’s Privacy Policy states that it collects these details and basic login data (source IP address, VPN username and VPN protocol), as well as using cookies itself and via third-party website ads.

Those are fairly standard clauses, and TotalVPN points out that it doesn’t "collect information concerning the content you transmit through the Services or the specific websites that you visit".

But it’s also worth noting that your personal or account information may be maintained and processed by "third party service providers in the U.S. or in other jurisdictions". Although they’re not authorised to "use or disclose personal information for their own marketing or other purposes", TotalVPN notes it will disclose information "about users upon a valid request by government or law officials".

Performance

TotalVPN’s PC client seems straightforward, allowing connection by a specific location or purpose (security, speed, P2P). Unfortunately this didn’t always work for us, as we saw regular "failed to connect errors", and reviews on iTunes and Google Play suggest we’re not alone.

The TotalVPN website has a ‘knowledge base’ which tries to help, but it’s not very detailed. There was no specific mention of the error messages we saw (a raw "exception of type … was thrown"), and the core of the advice is really just to try a different protocol or connect via another network.

When we managed to connect, TotalVPN failed our DNS leak test. We’re not sure why – others have said this doesn’t happen for them, and if you’re using another device perhaps you’ll have more luck – but we couldn’t find any tweaks or settings to help.

Performance was reasonable in our tests*, with latency increased by 166% compared to normal, and upload speeds were 60% and downloads an acceptable 82% of our regular speeds.

Final verdict

TotalVPN has a good-looking client and is easy to use, but its few servers, average speeds, technical problems and ridiculously high price suggest you’ll be better off elsewhere.

*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

A day at Apple summer camp: Racing bots and coding for fun – CNET

Like Google and Microsoft, Apple is investing in programs to teach your kids how to code and play with technology.
Source: CNet

Apple's arrogance likely quashed its streaming TV service – CNET

Tech giant’s seemingly unprecedented demands are probably why it still doesn’t have a TV streaming service, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Source: CNet

Microsoft job cuts hit 2,850 more positions – CNET

The layoffs come amid the tech giant’s continuing transition to a focus on cloud computing.
Source: CNet

Review: TorGuard

Review: TorGuard

Despite the name and the privacy angle, TorGuard has nothing to do with the Tor Project. Instead it’s a company which offers a range of privacy-related products, including an anonymous VPN plan for protecting your privacy while using torrents (which is where the "tor" comes from).

Product specifications are good, with a choice of 1600+ servers in 50+ countries, and five simultaneous connections allowed, OpenVPN/SSTP/L2TP/IPsec protocol support, along with ad and malware blocking, no data limits and free 24/7 support.

Prices are a little above average at $9.99 (£7.70, AU$13.45) per month, $4.99 per month paid annually ($59.99 total for a year – that’s £46, AU$81). You can also purchase add-ons as you order, including extra simultaneous connections (on top of the five you have already) from a dollar each per month, and a dedicated IP from $7.99 (£6.10, AU$10.60) per month.

There’s no free product or trial. The company offers a 7-day refund. This "can be denied … in cases of excessive usage", but we’d guess this applies more to people who’ve been online 24/7 for 6 days than regular users.

If you do decide to sign up, there are all the usual payment options, plus Bitcoin, and many others via PaymentWall.

Privacy

TorGuard’s Privacy Policy weighs in at 282 words, making it one of the shortest we’ve ever seen. But if you’d like it summarised anyway, the company doesn’t store or log any traffic or usage from its VPN. There are the usual cookies and recording of details in forms when you order products, but these won’t be resold for marketing or mailing lists.

The Terms and Conditions are longer, but it’s still difficult to find any surprises. "The service might not work all the time", "don’t break the law", "we reserve the right to close your account if you do" – it’s all very much the typical stuff you’d expect.

Even after reading for a while, the closest we could find to a catch was this: if you purchase a dedicated IP with your order, the extra cost won’t be included in any refund.

The service is also not available to the under-18s. But if that’s not you, it seems like you can sign up without getting trapped by any small-print trickery.

Performance

TorGuard has clients for all the operating systems you’d expect, including Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. It also has multiple Linux versions (Ubuntu, Redhat, and more), router setup tools (DD-WRT, Tomato), OpenVPN config files and scripts, a separate download of the Android app APK file, and even more besides.

The core of the client is much like any other. There’s an icon and name for your current location, you can select another from the list of countries and regions if you prefer, then you click Connect to get online, and Disconnect when you’re done. Easy enough – but that’s just the start.

TorGuard gives you access to protocol and cipher settings from the connection screen, unusually, and heading for the main settings dialog gives you all kinds of options. These include: WebRTC, IPv6 and DNS leak protection; both application and network interface kill switches; before connect, after connect and after disconnect scripts; proxy settings, minimise/close to tray options, and more.

There’s more good news when you get online. The client doesn’t just give you a ‘Connected’ message: there’s a local IP, a remote IP, a button to display your new location on a map, Sent and Received data totals, and a figure to show how long you’ve been connected.

Leak protection was better than expected. We didn’t see any evidence of DNS leaks, even without checking the Prevent DNS Leak box, and otherwise our identity was shielded without any trouble.

Our performance tests* showed acceptable results – latency was high at 209% of our normal figure, but upload and download rates were a more reasonable 63% and 84% of normal speeds – however, while browsing we found this varied considerably, depending on the server.

Final verdict

Overall, TorGuard certainly has some appeal, in particular with its long list of servers and extreme configurability, but there are much faster and easier-to-use VPN products around.

*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: Spotflux

Review: Spotflux

Some VPNs try to win you over with big privacy claims. Others point to their super-low prices. Spotflux does both, but also piles on the extras, including ad blocking, phishing protection, tracker blocking, even mobile data compression to cut bandwidth requirements and save you time.

If there’s a catch, it’s that the core VPN product is a little basic. Spotflux only offers a few servers, and there’s little in the way of advanced settings or configuration options.

Value is good, though, with plans starting from $4.99 (£3.80, AU$6.70) for one month. A ‘Mobile Only’ account is available for Android and iOS devices for a mere $29.99 (£23, AU$39) per year.

Spotflux Premium enables use on up to five devices, including mobile, Windows or OS X, but it’s still very reasonably priced at $37.99 (£29, AU$51) for a year.

Want to try before you buy? That makes sense, and Spotflux offers a generous 3 day trial of the full Premium service. You don’t need to provide an email address to install or use the software, and if you do decide to upgrade, there’s a Bitcoin payment option as well as PayPal and credit card.

Privacy

Spotflux’s Privacy Policy is a little better organised than most of its VPN rivals, and makes real efforts to tell you what you want to know: the data the company collects, how it’s used, shared and so on.

The results aren’t entirely reassuring. There might be packet inspection of user traffic to prevent malware or trackers. Spotflux could also "discriminate against devices, protocols, or applications", "throttle user connections" and "purposely timeout user connections" if "they are determined by Spotflux to be harmful to the Services or illegal".

To be fair, Spotflux is little more specific on logging – it will hand over information when directed by a court, but "since Spotflux keeps limited to no logs, the amount of information available to law enforcement is very limited".

One clause we noticed is Spotflux asks that children under the age of 16 shouldn’t sign up for an account, and may only use the service "under the approval and supervision of [their] parents or legal guardians", presumably to comply with the US COPPA law.

Performance

Despite its many features, Spotflux’s client is one of the simplest around. For the most part you just hit a button to toggle protection on or off, and there’s a short list of alternative servers if the default doesn’t work.

Poking around the settings doesn’t reveal much more. You can set the app to load when Windows starts, choose TCP or UDP connections, set an alternative proxy, and that’s about it.

Spotflux makes a big deal of its malware, tracker-blocking and anti-phishing technologies. They delivered only average performance in our tests, blocking some threats but missing plenty of others, but these features could still give you a little extra protection.

Our benchmark performance tests* showed above average speeds, with latency only increased by 19% – which is pretty good compared to rival services – and both download and upload speeds falling by a minimal 7% compared to our normal rates. But we also noticed a wide range of speeds during testing, and while performance was mostly very good, occasionally speeds dropped to an unusable crawl.

Final verdict

Spotflux stands out for its extras and highly user-friendly nature, and if these concerns are a priority, take the three-day trial for a spin. But if you’re after speed, or configurability, or a wide choice of locations, there are better deals to be had with other VPN services.

*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

Black Hat: 9 free security tools for defense and attacking

When Black Hat convenes next week in Las Vegas, it will be a rich environment for gathering tools that can be used to tighten security but also — in the wrong hands — to carry out exploits.

Researchers presenting generally point out the value these releases hold for researchers like themselves who operate in experimental environments as well as for enterprise security pros who want to build better defenses against such attack tools.

Presenters will detail a broad range of exploits they’ve carried out against devices, protocols and technologies from HTTP to internet of things gear to the techniques penetration testers use to test the networks of their clients.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Source: Security

FBI said to investigate possible hack of another Democratic Party organization

The FBI is said to be investigating yet another suspected hack of a Democratic Party organization, this time of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that raises funds for Democrats running for the House of Representatives.

The previously unreported hack of the DCCC is likely to have been aimed at gathering information on donors rather than steal funds, four sources told Reuters.

The intrusion is likely to raise fresh concerns about Russia trying to meddle in the U.S. elections. Another hack of the Democratic National Committee, suspected by security investigators to have been perpetrated by Russians, led to an embarrassing dump on Friday of leaked emails that showed that the Democratic Party’s national strategy and fund-raising committee had favored Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders, her rival in the presidential nomination campaign.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Source: Security

Review: PureVPN

Review: PureVPN

PureVPN has been providing VPN services for almost ten years, so it’s not surprising that it offers a lengthy list of features: 500 servers in 141 countries, wide protocol support, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a smart kill switch, five devices allowed and payment via Bitcoin if you need it.

Unusual extras include "split tunnelling" (you decide which traffic goes through the VPN, which uses your ISP) and a "stealth" VPN browser which supposedly could "provide internet users up to 20Mbps boost in speed, regardless of their existing internet connection speed".

The company offers dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, and there are instructions to help you set it up on consoles, Smart TVs, Amazon Fire and more.

Short-term plans aren’t great value – $9.99 (£7.70, AU$13.50) per month, $7.99 (£6, AU$10.70) per month billed six-monthly – but the two year plan for $59.99 (£46, AU$81) is a much better deal.

Optional add-ons include a dedicated IP for $1.99 per month.

What you don’t get is a free plan, or even a trial period. Instead you must rely on a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Privacy

PureVPN’s policy on logging is unusually clear. The company records the time you connect to a server and the total bandwidth used, but otherwise there are no logs of the websites you visit, the files you download or anything else.

Where personal details are held, they’re only what you’d expect – name, email address and so on – and there’s no sharing of these or any other data with third-parties.

PureVPN says it chose Hong Kong for its HQ because of the lack of mandatory data retention laws, so it’s unlikely this situation will change any time soon.

Elsewhere, the Terms of Service makes it clear that you mustn’t share your login details with others. You’re also not allowed to use multiple logins from different cities, which makes sense, but could catch you out if you leave a router connected at home, and use the service on a laptop while you’re on holiday.

Otherwise most company policies are very standard, like "we can’t guarantee the service will always work", and "you mustn’t use it to send spam/spread viruses/generally break the law".

Performance

PureVPN’s PC client stands out immediately for the sheer volume of connection options and tools it makes available.

You can locate servers optimised for a particular purpose, for instance, like ‘streaming Netflix in Australia’. You can browse by region, country or server, click on a global map, save commonly-used servers as favourites for easy recall later, or just click Connect to access whatever server you chose last time.

There are plenty of tweak and options, too. You’re able to choose your preferred protocol, launch and connect when Windows starts, select an encryption method, and toggle features like secure DNS, IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch and the aforementioned split tunnelling. Even when connected, the extras continue with a traffic monitor.

VPNs will always give you a new IP address, but some services may have DNS or other leaks which give clues about your identity. We visited IPLeak.net and other privacy sites to look for problems – and we encountered a hitch on this front.

PureVPN has a Secure DNS feature which is supposed to prevent DNS leaks, but despite being turned on by default, it didn’t work for us. This appears to be a known issue as there are support documents with steps to try, but they weren’t a complete solution on our system. It’s not a fatal issue as others say it works for them, but you need to test this for yourself before you buy.

PureVPN did much better on our performance tests*, where amazingly it managed to improve most of our download speeds. Latency was a mere 5% higher than normal, upload speeds actually increased by 4%, while downloads were a very surprising 80% up on our normal speeds.

Final verdict

PureVPN delivered some amazing results on the performance front, particularly given its price. There’s no guarantee you’ll see anything similar, and we’re still concerned about the DNS leak (the score we’ve given here assumes that it doesn’t apply on your system), but PureVPN delivers so much for so little that you need to try it anyway.

*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