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It’s now easier to get Purism’s security-focused laptops

Purism is nowhere near as well-known as other PC makers, but you may want to keep it on your radar if you’re becoming increasingly concerned about security and privacy. The company, which only used to sell made-to-order machines, has just announced the general availability of its security-focused Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops. That means you don’t have to wait months in a waiting list just to be able to buy one — you’ll now get your computer within “a few weeks after purchase.”

The company says it works with hardware manufacturers to make sure its components can’t be used to infiltrate your system. For instance, its laptops have a kill switch that turns off their mic and camera, so you can make sure nobody’s spying on you through your webcam, which unfortunately can happen to anyone. Another kill switch disables their WiFi and Bluetooth in an instant to prevent unauthorized connection to your computer in public. Librem 13, 15 and the brand’s other computers also run the company’s own PureOS that’s a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux.

Purism might have decided it’s high time to make their computers more accessible now that people are becoming more conscious about the security of their devices. It specifically mentioned the WannaCry ransomware attacks in its announcement post as one of the more recent large-scale security scares. By eliminating the need to wait for months, the buying process becomes much less intimidating for ordinary people or non-security researchers. Take note that the Librem laptops aren’t cheap, though: based on what we’ve seen from the manufacturer’s website, the 13-inch laptop will set you back at least $1,699, while the cheapest 15-inch configuration costs $1,999.

Source: Purism


Seek Adventure App takes the Pokémon Go concept a step further

Why it matters to you

Pokémon Go was a huge craze. With the ability to earn tangible prizes, Seek has the chance to be even bigger.

When Pokémon Go launched last year, the world changed for weeks. All of the sudden, people were gathering in large numbers in locations they didn’t gather before. The aim was to get people outdoors and it worked. Seek Adventure App plans to take things a step further.

Just like Pokémon Go, Seek uses geo-location based gaming to engage users with their phones and the real world. Where Seek takes it a step further is by partnering with various brands and companies to offer real-world rewards through adventure.

When opening the app, Seek users can use the on-screen map to find digital treasure chests filled with prizes. These prizes can be anything, such as cash, gift cards, TVs, and more. Smaller treasure chests might contain coins, which can then be used to purchase keys to unlock Rare, Epic, and Legendary chests. These chests are harder to find, but offer better chances to earn big prizes.

All users have to do to start unlocking chests is go out on a walk, bike ride, or hike. Chests are scattered throughout neighborhoods and parks, or at destinations like theme parks or ski resorts. When users are within the capture range of 10 to 20 meters, they can tap on the chest and select “Capture.” Once selected, users will need to use their phone to look around for the chest using a radar. Once found, tapping it will reveal the prize. With over 90 million digital treasure chests around the world, there are many chances to earn some tangible rewards.

Seek is unique in that it provides a powerful marketing platform for meaningful consumer engagement. Current sponsors include Universal Pictures, Cinemark, Samsung, Six Flags, Blendtec, Goal Zero, and more.

With these sponsors come special promotions. For instance, when Seek partnered up with Universal Studios and Cinemark to promote the release of The Mummy, users could open the mummy sarcophagus. Opening one at a Cinemark theater offered the chance to win $100 gift cards, concessions discounts, or free movie tickets.

Seek Adventure App is currently available for both Android and iOS devices. It is completely free for all users, who have nothing to lose except battery power.


Uber is having trouble holding onto its drivers, according to recent data

Why it matters to you

While drivers are downloading the Uber driver app with considerable frequency, they’re not keeping it for very long, and that could spell trouble for Uber.

The bad news just keeps rolling in for Uber. Not only has there been a shakeup at the very top of the company, but the folks who make up the base of the transportation giant also seem to be leaving. We’re talking, of course, about Uber drivers. According to data provided to TechCrunch by app analytics firm Apptopia, Uber’s new driver retention rates have seen a precipitous decline in the U.S.

According to Apptopia’s analysis of app downloads and usage of Uber, 30-day user retention for the Uber driver app is down 47 percent from January to May. As TechCrunch noted, “This measure looks at the proportion of users opening the app each day after the initial day of download — continuing until the 30th day … the idea being to measure engagement meaningfully versus looking at app deletions (as lots of people just stop using an app versus actively deleting it).”

Curiously enough, over the same period of time, the number of driver app downloads actually increased by 20 percent. But if the Apptopia’s data (and its interpretation) is correct, while Uber is doing a solid job of getting folks to initially come onboard, they’re having trouble getting them to stay.

We should point out that Apptopia doesn’t obtain any of its data directly from Uber, but rather pulls from a network of 250,000 apps that it has developer account access to. This, the firm says, gives way to “strong trend data for major apps.”

While Uber has pulled in plenty of negative headlines as of late, it’s unclear as to how much of an impact that ultimately has on its driver retention rates (though users could be a whole different story). The more likely culprit for the decline is the relatively low pay rate from Uber pool rides, and the historical lack of in-app tipping. Of course, Uber has since remediated this second concern, so perhaps future analysis of the driver app will show that numbers are back up.

Ultimately, it seems safe to say that only time will tell whether or not Uber and its drivers will be able to weather the storm.


What’s that on the roof? A giant Macbook will top off Chicago’s new Apple Store

Why it matters to you

Apple Stores are known for their innovative design, but this is something completely different. Will the trend catch on with competitors?

You won’t be able to not know what this new building in Chicago sells. Unless, by some chance, you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so. According to the latest photos and videos from DNAinfo, the new Apple Store currently being constructed on the Chicago River is topped not with a cherry, but with a Macbook.

The Windy City’s latest retail store is located at Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, and on Thursday, it got a big, white Apple logo on its roof. But that roof just so happens to be curved and metallic, which of course, makes it look a whole lot like the lid of an Apple laptop. But don’t get too excited — you can’t just head over there and snap a photo yourself. DNAinfo reported that less than an hour after the logo was placed, crews rolled the apple up and removed it (because apparently, you don’t want to give away all your surprises at once).

The addition of the Apple logo appears to be of particular interest because when renderings of the new store were initially publicized back in 2015, the telltale sign was nowhere to be seen. But it’s been two years, and just maybe, plans have changed.

The new store will serve as Apple’s new home base in Illinois’ largest city — previously, the flagship store in Chicago was located at 679 N. Michigan Avenue. “Our store on North Michigan Avenue has welcomed more than 23 million customers since it opened in 2003, and we’re now creating something even more remarkable for Chicago,” Nick Leahy, an Apple spokesman, told DNAinfo in 2015.

When it’s completed, the new store is slated to span a whopping 20,000 square feet, and of course, will be largely made of glass. Designed by London-based Foster+Partners, the new building will extend from Pioneer Court to the riverfront. But alas, we still don’t know when the newest Apple store will open.

Of course, the new Apple store in Chicago may not be quite as cool as Apple’s new headquarters (because is anything as cool as a spaceship?) but it’s still something to talk about.


Android O’s notification coloring is an abomination


This idea needs a second look, Google.

Not every idea is a good idea. And some good ideas aren’t nearly as good as they sound once put into use. I’m not sure where the idea of colorizing media notifications in Android O fits into the “good” scale of ideas, but I know one thing. It’s an idea that needs to change.

In case you’re not up to snuff with what I’m talking about — even when launched Android O will take about a year to get on the majority of phones out there — the new version allows developers to build rich media notifications that include playback controls, album art and a different color template based on the album or video thumbnail. right now, Google Play Music and YouTube will give you these new colorized notifications if you’re running the Android O beta.

And they are a mess.


The twitch level is off the charts when I see something like this.

Alone, they’re not horrible. A notification that’s not base gray with darker gray lettering (on the Pixel launcher, because that’s different on every phone) is neat. A splash of color goes a long way and can help brighten things up. But eventually, you’ll come across a colorized notification that’s a color combo you can’t read (Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedos in Google Play will throw a pink notification with white lettering that refuses to show up in a photo of an AMOLED screen). I am on the lookout for a black on black notification, but so far even AC/DC has failed me.

It gets worse when you have two of the new rich colorized notifications or a normal notification and a colorized notification or any mix of either. The photos above demonstrate. This is not a good look.

The idea can be fixed if given a little attention.

OK, this is a beta. I know this. That means there’s a chance the final product won’t look anything like this, but that chance is slim. But I still want to give my feedback while there is time. Readability issues are easy enough to fix. Every color has a numerical value, and the software can be written so that certain numerical values won’t ever be shown together. No more white text on light pink. But that still doesn’t fix the fact that you might have one light pink notification beside (or above in this case) a normal one. Or one light pink one and one orange one. Or two brown ones with different color text.

And this is just the Pixel so far. Who knows how things will look on a Samsung or Huawei phone that has a pretty custom job going on up top for notifications. Which is part of the problem. Android can be too openy. It’s cool that developers and users are able to change up how things look, but there needs to be a bit of control in some places. As mentioned in a recent episode of the Android Central Podcast, sometimes Google needs to stop suggesting how things are done and make a rule that needs to be followed. Especially for apps in Google Play.

Notifications with album art and controls are awesome. Can we make sure they look awesome?

The idea of having album art or thumbs in the notification is awesome. But they could be isolated from the rest of the notification area. Or something. I’m not a graphic designer, but I know at least a few work at Google. All I know is that no matter what phone I’m using, I never want to see the mess in the example photos.

A lot of people are going to disagree with me here, and that’s fine. You should be able to have your stuff look the way you like. So should I. Let’s hope there’s an easy to find setting to kill the color when O makes its way into the world.

Android O

  • Everything new in Android O
  • Should you put Android O on your phone?
  • How to get the Android O Beta on your Pixel or Nexus
  • Join the Discussion


Self-driving cars are safer when they talk to each other

Most current self-driving technology relies on cameras, radar and lidar. These sensory devices serve as eyes for the car, mimicking what a human driver can see. But a University of Michigan public-private partnership called Mcity is testing V2V, or vehicle to vehicle communication, and has found that it makes their autonomous prototypes even safer.

V2V works by wirelessly sharing data such as location, speed and direction. Using DSRC, or Dedicated Short Range Communication, V2V can send up to 10 messages per second. This communication allows cars to see beyond what is immediately in front of them — sensing a red light around a blind curve, or automatically braking for a car that runs a stop sign.

Mcity is also using a new augmented reality system to test their cars equipped with V2V. They’ve created virtual vehicles equipped with the technology that can communicate with their actual prototypes. This allows them to test scenarios that are cost-prohibitive or too dangerous for real-world trials.

The catch of V2V? It has to be installed in the majority of cars and infrastructure (such as traffic lights) to function adequately. Regardless, anything that gets us closer to safe, reliable autonomous cars is a win, so it will be interesting to see how this tech develops.

Source: University of Michigan


5 songs you need to stream this week: Radiohead, Chris Cornell, and more

Every week, there are thousands of new songs hitting the airwaves — and it’s just too much for your two ears to handle. With all those options, you can’t be wasting your time on tracks that deserve a thumbs-down click — you want the best new songs to stream now.

But don’t worry, we’re going to save you the hassle. We listen to some of the most-hyped and interesting songs each week, and tell you which are worthy of your precious listening time.

Here are our top five songs to stream this week. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our Spotify page for a playlist of our weekly picks, which can also be found at the bottom of this post.

Radiohead — Man of War

Radiohead celebrates the 20th anniversary of their landmark album OK Computer by releasing various B-sides and rarities, giving fans a glimpse into more material from one of their most famous songwriting eras. Man of War is the second B-side that the band has made public, and it comes with a music video directed by Colin Read that focuses on a man who gets followed while he walks through a city. It’s a well-produced and fairly pop-influenced single for the band, a polished song that we’re happy to finally hear.

Chris Cornell — The Promise

The final music video ever shot by recently deceased songwriter Chris Cornell hit the internet this week — a searing ballad called The Promise that was written for the soundtrack of a historical film of the same name. As always, the late singer’s voice grabs your ears and doesn’t let go, its gravelly tone joined by an epic backdrop of percussion and guitar-laden orchestral sounds.

Parcels — Overnight

If you’re looking to get down this week, you’ve got to hear Overnight, the latest single from Australian electronic outfit Parcels, which is a collaboration with legendary helmeted French duo Daft Punk. A four-on-the-floor drum groove is met with palm-muted guitar and stereo percussion and synth sounds. This one virtually forcing you to find the nearest dance partner.

Jason Isbell — Hope the High Road

Nashville songwriter Jason Isbell has captivated the alt-country universe for the past several years. He recently released his latest album, The Nashville Sound, with his band, The 400 Unit. He and his band appeared in excellent form on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show this week, playing an enthusiastic version of Hope the High Road, a lyric-driven song with a shredding slide-guitar solo from the frontman himself, as well as beautiful harmonies on the chorus.

Soccer Mommy — Allison

Songwriter Sophie Allison’s Soccer Mommy project has been quietly churning out gorgeously melodic and deeply personal music for a few years now. She recently grabbed herself a spot on the acclaimed Fat Possum label. On her latest single, Allison, layers of vocals combine with electric guitar, as lyrics about love and loss strike a deep chord.

That’s it for now, but tune in next week for more songs to stream, and check out the playlist loaded with our recent selections below:


Hackers target UK parliament email accounts

After a report from The London TImes that the email addresses and passwords of British cabinet members and other government officials were being traded by Russian hackers, it looks like the inevitable next step has occurred: a cyberattack on the UK parliament.

According to Bloomberg, the Parliament along with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre are investigating an attack that started on Friday evening. To reduce the chances of being breached, remote access to email accounts has been disabled. In a statement, a parliament spokesperson said it was investigating “unauthorised attempts to access accounts of parliamentary networks users.”

Parliament members took to Twitter to report on the removal of remote access and asked fellow members to text any urgent messages.

Cyber security attack on Westminster Parliamentary e.mails may not work remotely Text urgent messages @LibDemLords @LabourLordsUK @Torypeers

— Chris Rennard (@LordRennard) June 24, 2017

So far it looks like the attack has been largely unsuccessful at penetrating the government’s servers. Still, the UK has had a rough couple of months. In May, UK hospitals were crippled by the WannaCry ransom attack.

Sorry no parliamentary email access today – we’re under cyber attack from Kim Jong Un, Putin or a kid in his mom’s basement or something…

— Henry Smith MP (@HenrySmithUK) June 24, 2017

As hackers become more sophisticated, are backed by nations and continue to get access to leaked government-held exploits, attacks like this will unfortunately become more common.

Source: Bloomberg


Windows 10 source code leak is an embarrassment for Microsoft

Earlier this week, Beta Archive posted Windows 10 source code related to USB, storage and WiFi drivers on its free FTP site. Now, a spokesperson for Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that this code, from the Shared Source Kit, is genuine.

The breach was initially thought to be massive; The Register reported that the leak consisted of around 32TB of files. They claimed it included builds of Windows that haven’t yet been released. However, it later became clear that the leak was smaller than originally reported, and what’s more, much of this data had been made available. The Shared Source Kit has already been distributed to Microsoft’s partners and licensees through the Shared Source initiative.

That doesn’t mean this data leak isn’t serious, though. It’s an embarrassing black mark for Microsoft at a time that more and more people are paying attention to and concerned about computer security. While the source code has been removed voluntarily by Beta Archive, it’s unclear how many people had already downloaded it. It’s possible that it still could be distributed via other methods and used to create exploits for Windows 10.

Source: The Verge, The Register


10 tips and tricks to experience BlackBerry KeyOne’s keyboard to the fullest

BlackBerry and TCL took a step in a different direction when they introduced the BlackBerry KeyOne — an Android-powered smartphone with a physical keyboard. It seems as though other manufacturers often match physical keyboards with old-school specs, like LG  and Verizon’s first LTE-only flip phone. By contrast, the KeyOne packs 1,620 x 1,080-pixels in a 4.5-inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, and runs on the latest Android 7.1.1 operating system.

You might find the design bulky and perhaps a little outdated, but it’s a productivity powerhouse as we found in our BlackBerry KeyOne review. If you’re going to drop over $500 for a phone where the keyboard is the main attraction, you’ll want to be fully aware of all its functions. Here are 10 different features the QWERTY keyboard has to offer to make the experience worth your while.

Set short-press and long-press shortcuts

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Each key on the keyboard can be assigned a function — whether it’s to a specific contact, an app, or sending an email. There are 52 unique keyboard shortcuts to choose from. You can also turn on short-press keyboard shortcuts by going to the BlackBerry Launcher settings and tapping Typing action > Use a short-press keyboard. To set long-press shortcuts, tap on Apps > Keyboard shortcuts to bring up a list of options to assign a long-press shortcut. The only difference between the two is that, for long-press, you press and hold the specific key to assign the shortcut. For example, you can assign the Google app to a short press of the “G” key, but a long-press can open Gmail.

Physical and touchscreen keyboards

Regardless of how much you love the physical keyboard, there could be days where you miss having a touch screen. The KeyOne has an option to include a keyboard on your touch screen. Add this feature by going to Language and Input > Physical Keyboard >  Show Virtual Keyboard. The virtual keyboard will stay on the screen, even if you decide to switch to the physical keyboard. Keep in mind this will limit your screen real estate.

Statistics pertaining to your text-messaging activity

If you’re interested in learning about your activity on the keyboard, the KeyOne compiles real-time data based on your use. To access these statistics go to Keyboard Settings > BlackBerry Keyboard > Statistics. This shows you everything from how many words, emojis, and symbols you’ve typed, to how many times you used the touchscreen keyboard in comparison to the physical one.

Keyboard swiping and swipe gestures

While using the touchscreen keyboard, the “type by swiping” feature can be enabled through Keyboard Settings > BlackBerry Keyboard > Type by swiping. Type out words quickly by swiping from key to key without lifting your finger. For the physical keyboard, you can use the prediction bar above to help you type faster. Make sure it’s turned on by heading to Settings > Languages and input > Keyboard Settings > BlackBerry Keyboard > Prediction and Correction > Show predictions. When typing, you can flick your finger up on the left, center, and right side of the physical keyboard to quickly use one of the three options on the prediction bar.

Set up the fingerprint scanner

There are many different ways to make sure your Android device is secure, with a fingerprint scanner being one of them. While many Android phones have a fingerprint scanner positioned on the back of the phone, the KeyOne incorporates it into the space bar of the keyboard. You’ll have the option to set it up when you first turn on the phone, but if you choose to do it later, you’ll find it under Settings > Security > Fingerprint. That way, you can always unlock your phone by placing your finger on the space bar.

Accessing emojis

When you’re in the standard messaging window, accessing emojis isn’t as obvious as you’d think. By holding down the zero key, the library of emojis will instantly appear with tabs of different categories to choose from on the bottom. To turn on predictive emojis — emoji suggestions based on the text you type — tap on Keyboard Settings > BlackBerry Keyboard > Prediction and Correction > Predict Emojis. You then swipe up on the keyboard to insert the emoji into your text.

Swipe the keyboard to scroll in multiple directions

You may have assumed the physical keyboard was strictly for pressing buttons, but you’re also able to scroll with it. If you’re scrolling through an app like BlackBerry Hub — which consolidates all your emails, calendar events, tasks, and important notifications into one inbox — simply swipe up or down on the keyboard to keep viewing content. Swipe right or left to switch between the pages on your home screen, and delete words by swiping left if you’re typing out sentences.

Enable cursor control

Double tapping the keyboard enables cursor control. By swiping back and forth on the keyboard, you’ll move the cursor to the desired location when typing. If you don’t want to use the keyboard, there are arrow options on the touch screen you can tap on to move the cursor instead.

Set multiple language keyboards

To set up multiple keyboards in different language, go to Keyboard Settings > BlackBerry Keyboard > Multi Language Keyboards and then choose which language you wish to include by scrolling through the list. To switch between languages while typing, you can press and hold down on the space bar.

Keyboard sounds

Enabling sounds while typing is an option you can enable through Keyboard Settings > BlackBerry Keyboard > Key Press Feedback. You’ll have the option to turn the sound on — and choose the volume — as well as turn on “key pop-up” for the virtual keyboard to have the characters pop up while you’re typing.

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