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Daily Briefing: Can you see this, America?


Grab a beer and a whiskey, it’s Friday, October 21st. Here’s what’s making news today.

It’s crappy outside, a typical fall day in Toronto. Leaves strewn everywhere, a bitter winter chill in the air. I almost turned the heating on. Instead I put on a nice, warm sweater and spent the day on the internet.

Except the internet had a very bad day. I couldn’t stay in touch with half of my colleagues due to an ongoing denial of service attack on a single DNS company, likely perpetrated by a coordinate botnet aimed at a central point. A lot of security researchers are going to be up late tonight examining what happened, but suffice it to say, this doesn’t bode well for the reputation of the many embedded devices that were reportedly hacked to perpetrate this attack. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but perhaps this will be a wakeup call for manufacturers to, you know, add the protective measures necessary to ward off easy infection. Scary stuff. Quite appropriate for around Halloween!

And with that, today’s big news stories!

LG is giving up on modules

Like a G6, if G6s are plain smartphones without modules. Or something. According to Korean daily ETNews, LG has abandoned its modular approach to smartphones after the gambit did not pay off in the G5. The phone’s successor, ostensibly the G6, will be a bit more approachable. But will it blend?

Verizon Pixel and Pixel XL already have an update waiting for it

Verizon announced today that both the Pixel and Pixel XL will receive an update that helps improve Wi-Fi connectivity. And we thought Big Red would skimp us on software updates.

Android 7.0 making its way to the Moto G4 and G4 Plus

The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are officially receiving their Android 7.0 Nougat update overseas, which hopefully means that your phone is next. More

Android Pay self destructs if you unlock your bootloader

As it should. More

LG V20 pre-orders live at Sprint

The LG V20 is now available to pre-order at Sprint for a ridiculous $33 per month for two years, or $792 outright. It’s not as bad as AT&T, but it’s close. The phone arrives October 28.

Alcatel announces four new unlocked devices under $170

Who likes affordable smartphones? Alcatel has got four coming out. The Alcatel Pop 4S retails for $170 and features a 5.5-inch 1080p display, octa-core processor, and a 2,960mAh battery pack. The POP 4 Plus is the low-end variant, coming in at $120 with a Snapdragon 210 and 720p display. And the PIXI 4 is available in 5-inch and 6-inch screen sizes with quad-core chipsets, and they’re going for $80 and $120, respectively.

GIF keyboards come to the official Messenger app in Android 7.1

If you’re running Android 7.1, you’ve got a few nice features to look forward to over the short-lived 7.0: app shortcuts, circular icons (I guess), and image keyboards. The first of those image keyboards is built right into the official Google Keyboard (version 5.2), as discovered by Android Police. You can only access it right now in the official Messenger app, and even then it’s a bit buried, but it’s a good start!

Instagram is testing live video

Of course it is.

Much of America’s internet stopped working today

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack against one of the biggest DNS providers in the country brought down many popular sites in the U.S. today, including Netflix and Twitter. Dyn, the company at the center of the coordinated “strike,” dealt with at least three separate incursions throughout the day, disrupting web traffic from east to west.

Have a great weekend!


The Public Access Weekly: Upgrade ya

So… since the entire Internet is apparently one big Fail meme today, let’s just jump right in shall we? This week, we’re rolling out some of the Public Access upgrades that we’ve been working on which is pretty exciting.

The first of these changes is the landing page that Public Access members see when signing in. Starting today, that landing page will display our rules and guidelines for Public Access members and posts. All Public Access members will be expected to abide by these rules. (What happens if you don’t? That is also detailed on the page!) We want to be sure that we’re being clear and transparent with members about what the rules are, so we’re putting them right up front and center.

The next change regards publishing posts — Starting Monday, there will be two types of membership to Public Access: A full membership, and what we’re casually referring to as a ‘trial’ membership. There is one major difference between the two types of membership and that is that full members can publish articles to Public Access at any time, while trial members will need to submit their stories for approval by an editor.

All new members to Public Access will, be default, given a trial membership. Once a member has published three stories without requiring significant editorial corrections, they will be upgraded to a full membership. Also, and this is important, those who have full memberships and violate our rules can be changed to a trial membership at any time. We’ve updated all the resource pages to include information about creating your post as a trial member, but as always, you can email us if you have any questions!

Lastly, as I mentioned last week, we’re updating the way your article template pages look so starting Tuesday the page where you actually write and create your posts will be streamlined, with larger fields and features and a new color scheme. However, all the commands and functions are still in pretty much the exact same places so you shouldn’t experience any problems.

Looking for something to read? Check out:

One of the featured stories on the Public Access homepage this week comes to us courtesy of Victor Iryniuk, who has written his first post on the reasons why his 5th generation Kindle is still his very favorite gadget. This piece explores what this version of the Kindle did right (doing one thing, and doing it great), and the advancements in e-readers that have detracted from the devices core purpose.

Meanwhile, over in the science/space genre, Lindsey Patterson has written a great post on the why Boeing will beat Elon Musk in the race to Mars which includes background on the Mercury Program, the Gemini Program and how SpaceX and Boeing differ in their knowledge and experience.

Discussions about gender equality and tech often overlook the women who are doing spectacular work in the field, and Kamakshi Venugopal’s story about female entrepreneurs in India who are pushing the start-up scene to new heights highlights the stories of five women who are the founders and CEOs of E-commerce, coupon and local service websites.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

Big news came out of the Nintendo camp this week with the announcement of the Switch console, which is powered by an Nvidia Tegra processor and purports to allow users to bring a tablet element to their gaming via detachable controllers. Is this a great innovation for Nintendo? Are you excited about it? And is there a place for portable gaming consoles in a world of smartphone gaming?

When Twitter laid off former AngelHack CEO Gregory Gopman this week, he responded with a Facebook post claiming the motivation was his 2013 rant against the homeless population of San Francisco. While Twitter has not confirmed or denied the reasons for Gopmans exit from the company, the news did bring up some interesting conversations in the comments. Should the things you post online haunt you forever? How does one come back from the negative attention that follows a viral social media post? And do you censor what you put online for fear of it harming your abilities to find work? How so?

We reviewed the Google designed Pixel and Pixel XL this week, and found it to be a great smartphone that looks a little dull. Have you gotten your hands on a Pixel or Pixel XL yet? If so, what do you think of the device? Does it live up to your expectations? What is your favorite — and least favorite — aspect of it? And do you think it can fill the hole left by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7?


Watch Samsung VR’s first scripted series this weekend

Assuming you still have a phone to slot into your Gear VR, you’ll have something new to watch this weekend. Invisible is the first scripted series on the Samsung VR platform, and is helmed by Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity director, Doug Liman. The way Wired describes it, Invisible sounds pretty cool. The six-episode series follows the lives of an ultra-rich, but reclusive family with its hands in just about everything. The reason for living in secrecy? Well, as you might be able to guess from the show’s name, certain family members can disappear in plain sight.

A handful of the short (all are under 10 minutes) episodes are available on the Samsung VR website right now if you want to give them a look. Or, you can just peep the 360 degree trailer below and call it a day.

Via: UploadVR

Source: Samsung VR


Why the Internet fell apart today

If you were on the internet on Friday morning, congrats! You were one of a lucky few who maintained their connectivity in the face of a massive, nationwide DDoS attack against part of the Domain Name System (DNS), a crucial piece of digital infrastructure which, when offline, cripples our ability to access the internet. But despite its importance, the DNS is often overlooked — much like the rest of the behind the scene mechanisms that make the internet work. So before you go resetting your router to see if that clears things up (hint: it won’t), let’s take a quick look at what the DNS does and how it managed to break so spectacularly earlier today.

In the early days of the networking, routing data between two computers might require that you know the target machine’s IP address, a 12-digit string of numbers like Even in the early 1980’s when the “internet” was still the DoD’s ARPANET project and consisted of just 320 interconnected computers, trying remembering all 320 IP addresses would be like trying to memorize the address and occupant of every house in your neighborhood.

So, the internet’s architects developed the DNS, a giant, decentralized database that translates domain names to IP addresses much in the same way that telephone operators used to manually route calls through their switchboards. So when you type “” (aka the top-level domain or TLD) into your browser, the DNS company that hosts that domain converts “” into the 12-digit IP address and routes your request accordingly, starting with the TLD, so that your computer knows where to look for the website data it’s trying to load. What’s more, the DNS automatically updates these registries so if Engadget ever switches hosting companies and its IP address changes, typing “” into a browser will still work.

The DNS is a hierarchical system. At the very highest level, you’ve got the “root servers”. There are 13 of them in all and they handle requests for information about TLDs. So if you type “,” it won’t be able to find the exact listing in its zone files — simple text documents that map domain names to their respective IP addresses — but it will return a record of the “.com” TLD and shunt the request to the next server down, the TLD server.

TLD server then looks for “” in in its zone file. As before, the TLD server won’t find the full “” listing but it will find record of “”. With that information in hand, the request is kicked down to the domain-level servers.

By the time that a request reaches a Domain-level server, it’s only one step away from being fully routed to its destination website. These servers are essentially “the guy who knows the guy” you’re looking for. Domain servers look at the record for, determine that the domain should be www — as opposed to ftp, for example — and then looks up the site’s IP address in their zone files before completing the routing operation.

Normally this all happens on the backend and the process is completely seamless from the user’s perspective. However, hackers can (and just did) attack the companies that run these DNS services. When a service is knocked offline, every site hosted on that DNS goes down as well, unless you know that site’s specific IP address of course.

This is is what US authorities believe happened Friday morning. A group of unknown cyber-attackers launched a huge Dedicated Denial of Service (DDoS) attack — in which small streams of data are funneled to create an unrelenting tide of traffic that overwhelms a site’s servers — against Dyn, a major DNS service. They shut Dyn down for hours. This, in turn, caused a swath of sites that Dyn works for — including Twitter, Spotify, the New York Times, Reddit, Yelp, Box, Pinterest and Paypal — to go dark on Friday morning until the company was able to recover.

Unfortunately, defending against DDoS attacks and the botnets that are used to launch them, is not a particularly easy task. The most common solution, according to CISCO, are firewalls, which act as the network’s watchdog, inspecting data packets and determining their source. If a firewall detects suspicious network activity it will alert the rest of the system. Networks may also incorporate load balancers — systems that spread network traffic out over multiple servers so that no one unit is overwhelmed. Remotely triggered blackholes (RTBH), instead, reroute and drop malicious traffic before it can even enter the network in the first place. Or, if you’re savvy like Pornhub, you’ll simply host your network on multiple registered DNS servers so that even if one goes down, traffic will simply be rerouted to a different service.

That said, there’s no such thing as a perfectly secure network. DDoS attacks like these will continue to occasionally occur for the foreseeable future. But with proper network design and implementation, we’ll be able to mitigate their debilitating effects.


Facebook employees argued to ban Trump’s posts over hate speech

Some Facebook employees fought to remove posts from Donald Trump in which the Republican presidential candidate called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, arguing that the comments violated the website’s rules on hate speech, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg eventually ruled on the issue and directed employees to not delete any of Trump’s posts. Zuckerberg said it would be inappropriate to censor a presidential candidate, according to the WSJ.

After Zuckerberg’s decision, some employees tasked with reviewing content on Facebook threatened to quit, and more still continued to complain that the company was bending its rules on hate speech for Trump. According to the report, more than a dozen Muslim employees discussed the policy with their managers and one Muslim employee asked Zuckerberg himself at a town hall meeting how he could approve of Trump’s message. The WSJ reports that Zuckerberg admitted Trump’s comments did amount to hate speech, but he said the consequences of deleting the posts were too drastic.

A Facebook spokesperson provided a statement to the WSJ that said content reviewers consider the context of each flagged post before deciding whether to remove it, including the comment’s value within political discourse. “Many people are voicing opinions about this particular content and it has become an important part of the conversation around who the next US president will be,” the statement reads.

On Friday, Facebook announced it would implement new rules for allowing graphic, yet newsworthy content on the site. This was a result of the scrutiny Facebook received after it censored the Pulitzer Prize-winning “napalm girl” photo in September.

Zuckerberg decided to keep Peter Thiel, a fervent Trump supporter and bankroller behind the case that bankrupt Gawker Media, on Facebook’s board of directors amid calls for Thiel to be removed. In a post leaked online, Zuckerberg said the move was to support diversity.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Nomu S10 and Nomu S30 unboxing initial impressions

We recently received review units to two of Chinese handset maker Nomu’s new unlocked smartphones, the S10 and S30. Launching this week, the devices are powered by Android 6.0 and feature IP68 waterproof protection. Moreover, they each boast a downright insane battery at 5,000mAh capacity. In terms of specs to price ratio, the handsets come in rather aggressively at $100 and $230, respectively.


A Qualifying Statement

We’ve only had these phones in our possession for a few days, so do not look for this to be a comprehensive review. Rather, this will be more of a piece that details what comes in the box, how the devices stack up against each other, and what we think of them so far. A full review will follow in the coming weeks.

Quick Comparison

While the two phones do share a number of features and traits between them, there are are obviously going to be differences. Here’s a quick breakdown of each model.

Nomu S10

  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 5.0-inch display at 1280 x 720 pixel resolution; Gorilla Glass 3
  • Quad-core Mediatek 1.5GHz processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage; microSD expansion card slot for 32GB
  • 8-megapixel (interpolated to 13-megapixel) rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 2G GSM:850/900/1800/1900(B5/B8/B3/B2)
  • 3G WCDMA:900/2100(B8/B1)
  • 4G FDD-LTE:800/900/1800/2100/2600(B20/B8/B3/B1/B7)
  • TDD-LTE:2300(B40)

Nomu S30

  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 5.5-inch display at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; Gorilla Glass 4
  • Octa-core Mediatek 2.0GHz processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage; microSD expansion card slot for 32GB
  • 13-megapixel (interpolated to 16-megapixel) rear camera
  • 5-megapixel (interpolated to 8-megapixel)front-facing camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 2G GSM:850/900/1800/1900(B5/B8/B3/B2)
  • 3G WCDMA:900/2100(B8/B1)
  • 4G FDD-LTE:850/900/1900/2100(B5/B8/B2/B1)
  • FDD-LTE:800/900/1800/2100/2600(B1/B3/B7/B8/B20)

What’s In The Box?

We’re not sure if the review units we received are actual retail model boxes but we suspect they might be. But, with that said, it’s a no-frills experience that doesn’t give you any more than it needs to. The cardboard box is brown and features only the Nomu brand embossed on the top; the bottom has a sticker with the model number and serial number.


Inside you find the phone, a pair of headphones, and a wall charger and USB cable. The outlet plug, for what it’s worth, is not going to work here in the United States. You’ll want to either get an adapter or just use one of your existing units to plug the cable in.

The quick-start guide details the basics of the phone, indicating where all of the ports and buttons are. It does have multiple languages, one of which is English.

Initial Impressions

Taking the phone out of the box and powering it on, you get the sense that these phones are rugged and ready for various conditions. Indeed, the IP68 ratings, utilitarian design, and general aesthetics signal the S10 and S30 are the sort of phones that a construction worker, contractor, or field worker might enjoy having. They’re not unlike what Kyocera is doing with its DuraForce line.


Both models have very distinct and angular corners with rubber edges. The S10 has a little bit more of a rough and tumble build that looks like something out of Battlestar Galactica. Moreover, the orange and black colors look sharp and unlike anything else we’ve spent time with.

The S30, for its part, doesn’t look to be as waterproof or built to spill. In fact, we had to double-check and triple-check that it was IP68 rated before putting it into water. The back of this one has more of a plastic shell with carbon fiber design and silver aluminum/titanium side. It would easily pass for an early generation of Droid from Verizon and Motorola.


Hey look, it’s a nearly stock Android experience! Props to Nomu for not doing much to mess with the look and feel of the phone. It’s easy for a Chinese hardware maker to put a “foreign” spin on things that doesn’t resonate with US buyers. Fortunately, it appears that there’s not much done here to customize the interface.

With that said, the icons look like something you’d find in an old version of Android, perhaps something around the Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean era. It confused us at first, because we though, “wasn’t this supposed to be Android 6.0?” Alas, it does run Marshmallow, but with an interesting approach.

Looking through the settings we see a number of options that don’t come standard with Android. Be it gestures, flip to mute, or other subtle tweaks, it’s a nice mix additional options. And, while they may not be something we specifically use, there’s nothing here that feels out of place. If someone were just getting into Android or smartphones, we see things that would actually appeal to them or make the experience better.


While there are a handful of the major Google apps present on the S10, you’ll have to head to the Play Store to pick up a few of them. Present are Calendar, Chrome, Gmail, Google, and Play Store. You’ll need to manually install others such as YouTube, Hangouts, Drive, Mesenger, or Google+.


The S30, by contrast, had nearly all of the above (no YouTube) as well as Photos, the full suite of Google Play clients, and Android Pay.

Sound and Camera

We tested the speakers out on both models and found the S10 to get really distorted at the higher volumes. Moreover, it was a flat and unappealing experience. Perhaps related to a couple of water droplets that were still on the speaker, we heard some minor rattling or extra noise that should not have been present. The S30, by comparison, was louder and more full.


Same thing goes for the camera. The S10 is so-so, if not a little less than desired, while the S30 comes in with more of what you’d hope for in a smartphone. Keeping price in mind, we can see where corners have to be cut. It’s not always the RAM and storage that makes the difference; sometimes it’s the internal components, too.

In short, the S10 is probably around a 2/5 stars with the S30 closer to a 3/5 stars. We’ll get a better sense for both the audio and camera features over the coming days and weeks.

Waterproof Protection

We’re always reluctant to put phones into water, even when they carry a certified rating. our philosophy is that unless you absolutely have to, there’s no reason to tempt fate. And, while these two phones do protect the ports and speakers, there’s always that slight risk that you could “do it wrong”.

With that in mind, we did submerge both phones into water, albeit briefly. It just so happened that it had rained for two days straight here at the office. Going outside, we found a couple of puddles in which to dunk the phones. Both continued to work immediately after and in the hours to follow.

We are compelled to tell you, however, that the S30 seems to be just ever so wonky at times. It’s hard to say if it’s related to the water or something else in the hardware and software, but the home screen likes to bug out. By that we mean it acts as if you were long pressing on it to change the wallpaper. It flits and flickers and a quick press of the home key brings things back in line. We also saw traces of this when navigating around the device in various apps, too.

A Note About Network Support

One of the best features of most unlocked phones is the almost universal support for GSM carriers. Here in the US we have two major players competing on the GSM 4G LTE front, AT&T and T-Mobile. Verizon and Sprint, for their parts, offer their own 4G technology with CDMA.

Every so often a phone comes along that sounds so appealing on paper that you simply can’t pass it up. That is, until you look closely at the supported networks. Alas, the Nomu S10 and Nomu S30 don’t have the same support for 4G LTE that you might expect or hope for in the US.

While there are a few frequencies allowed for, you’re going to have a tough time getting nationwide coverage, especially at higher speeds. Take a look at the respective carrier bands and frequencies and you may end up with 3G speeds at best.

The last thing we want to do is endorse something that you end up buying only to find out it doesn’t work in your area. After all, a smartphone is rather dumb if it has not data to support it.

Understanding that our readers are not entirely US-based, we are certainly not going to write this one off. There are obviously going to be users who may benefit from such a device. We’ll do our best to put together as thorough of a review as possible in the next few weeks and circle back.

Where to Buy

Already set and looking to pick one of these up? There are a number of places to do so, including Gearbest, Everbuying, Geekbuying, and AliExpress. As part of a launch event, you can head to Nomu’s promotional page to check out more details. As a refresher, the Nomu S10 runs $100-$120 while the Nomu S30 fetches approximately $230.

In the meanwhile, feel free to learn more at the links below:


What is Google Chromecast and why should you care?

Google Chromecast is a device you can use to send things from a small screen to your big screen TV.

It’s super easy to figure out, set up, and use. With it, you can send a YouTube video on your phone to a TV, or you can send a website on your computer to your TV. And that’s just two of the possibilities. To help you learn what Google Chromecast is, how it works, and what it can do, Pocket-lint has explained everything you need to know about the affordable HDMI dongle.

What is Chromecast?

Google launched the first $30 (£30) Chromecast in 2013. It’s an affordable HDMI dongle that lets you wirelessly “cast” content to a television. It basically makes most TVs smart. Then, in 2015, Google launched $30 Chromecast 2. It’s faster, more responsive, and just as affordable. And it arrived with an updated Chromecast app that serves as a one-stop shop for finding compatible apps and specific content across those apps.

In 2016, Google introduced the $69 (about £50) Chromecast Ultra, which works identically to its predecessors but uniquely offers the ability to cast 4K streams. Google also offers a $35 Chromecast Audio. Unlike the other three Chromecasts, Audio lets you wirelessly “cast” to speakers. That means your old speakers will essentially be turned into modern day speakers capable of playing music streamed from your devices.

For more information on Chromecast, check out these guides:

  • Chromecast 2 review: Make any TV smart, effortlessly
  • What is Google Cast for Audio?
  • Chromecast now has a guest mode: Here’s how to turn on the feature
  • What is Google Chromecast and why should you care?
  • Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Google Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick
  • What is Google Chromecast and why should you care?

How does Chromecast work?


In order for Chromecast to work, you need to plug it into an HDMI input on a TV/display as well as an open USB port on your TV/display (or an open power wall outlet). You also need a compatible Android device or iOS device with the latest version of the Google Cast app installed, or you need a compatible Windows computer, Mac computer, or Chromebook computer with the latest version of the Chrome browser installed. It’s important that your Chromecast and device or computer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Otherwise, you cannot cast to your TV.

Set up Chromecast

Check out Pocket-lint’s separate guide on how to set up Chromecast. The process involves plugging your Chromecast device into your TV’s HDMI port and a power source (either via USB on your TV our a wall outlet), then in installing the Google Cast mobile app on your mobile device to begin the setup process, and following the app’s setup instructions (also available here).

The app will automatically find your Chromecast and prompt you to connect it to the same Wi-Fi network connected to your mobile device. You can also set up Chromecast to work with your computer. Simply install the Chrome browser on computer, and then navigate to from the browser to setup Chromecast (or you can quickly install the Google Cast extension).

  • Google Chromecast: How to set up Chromecast and get started with it

Things you can do

With Chromecast, you can cast movies, TV shows, and photos from Cast-enabled apps on Android smartphones, Android tablets, iPhones, and iPads. You can also cast entire sites or tabs from the Chrome browser on Windows desktops, Windows laptops, Mac desktops, Mac laptops, and Google Chromebooks. There’s no remote required. To manage your Chromecast, use the Google Cast app or Google Cast browser extension.

You can also cast your Android screen to your TV. Simply open the Google Cast app and tap the navigation drawer. From there, tap the Cast Screen button and select your Chromecast device.

How to cast

Check out Pocket-lint’s separate guide on how to cast with Chromecast. But in a nutshell, all you have to do – once you set up Chromecast – is tap the Cast button from a Cast-enabled app such as YouTube on your mobile device, and the content will instantly appear on your big TV. From Chrome browser on your computer, you can also tap the Cast button in a video player like YouTube.

Although it’s not required, you can install the Google Cast extension in order to get the Cast icon in your browser toolbar. From there, simply click the icon, then choose the Chromecast device you would like to cast to, and wait for the contents of your tab in Chrome to appear on your TV.

Which apps and sites are Cast-enabled?



Casting to your TV is a simple way to enjoy your mobile apps on a big screen. You can even use your mobile device or tablet as a remote and control everything from playback to volume. Within the Google Cast app, you can tap What’s On to browse content from Cast-enabled apps you’ve already installed. You can also tap Get Apps to find Cast-enabled apps you haven’y installed yet.

Visit the Google’s website to see a list of all Cast-enabled apps. Examples include Netflix, Spotify, HBO Now, Hulu, Angry Birds with Friends, Watch ESPN, Google Photos, YouTube, PBS Kids, Twitch, Pandora, and thousands more.


Some websites are Cast-enabled. Currently, YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Movies, Google Play Music, and more are Cast-enabled (see the full list here), and Google said it is adding new ones all the time. You will you know if a website is Cast-enabled when you see the Cast button on the website within the video player. For sites that are not Google Cast-enabled, you can use the Cast extension to view the content on your TV.

Why should you care about Chromecast?

Sometimes it’s just fun to experience things on a bigger display. Let’s say you’re hanging out with friends and want to show them all a funny YouTube video. Instead of huddling around your phone, you can cast it to your TV and enjoy it on the big screen. Similarly, maybe you want to show your friends a cool website… instead of crowding around your laptop, you can cast the site to your TV.

It’s easy to see the benefits of Chromecast. Plus, it’s cheap and simple to set up and use.


The looming spectre of cyberwar with Russia

In the world of cyber (as in security), the question of the week seems to be, “are we going to cyberwar with Russia?”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest thinks so. A week after President Obama singled out Russia as being responsible for cyberattacks on targets including the Democratic National Committee, Earnest said in a briefing that the administration would be serving a “proportional” response to Putin and the gang.

That response would be reciprocation for the very public (and not particularly sophisticated) hacking we’ve seen targeting the Democratic side of this particular presidential election. This includes the DNC hacks, the Guccifer 2.0 clowning around, the targeted feeding of docs to WikiLeaks. And, if we’re going to include all the hacker toolsets, the unprecedented use of bots to influence opinion on social media in favor of the Republican candidate.

I’d totally hack Trump… if he lost a little weight

Donald Trump is now an outspoken WikiLeaks fan. This professionally combines the pussy-grabber with a man in exile because he’s been accused of rape; an exile whose ambassador has been accused of multiple sexual assaults … creating a he-man-woman-hater’s club trifecta for the ages.

No one’s hacked Trump or the RNC and spilled the beans — yet, anyway. Which is weird considering how crappy bits and pieces of Trump’s security have been shown to be, and how abysmal government organizations are proving to be at cyber defense.

As for Trump, he left his own site wide open, and his email servers are riddled with security holes. Maybe he’s been lucky, or someone on his team hired some good hackers to protect him.

But based on the cyberlaw of cyberaverages, I think one of two things are most likely: Either he’s been hacked and the crew is sitting on docs, or hacking him and/or the RNC requires nation-state level resources… and no nation is motivated to hack him. Maybe because to other nations he’s only a four. Alright, maybe a five if he had some State Department briefings on a server somewhere… and lost a little weight.

The people who like to equate zero days to missiles and suggestions of ‘stockpiles of cyber bombs’ must be pretty psyched we’re on the cusp of a cyberwar. And we are. Vice President Joe Biden added his voice to the cyber-saber-rattling when he told press “We’re sending a message. We have the capacity to do it.” Biden singled out Putin when he added, “He’ll know it. And it will be at the time of our choosing. And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”

Cyber World War One?

So I guess we’re going to have that “Cyber Pearl Harbor” that septuagenarian politicians have been using as a boogeyman for the past ten years, after all. But what does that even mean?

Germany Ukraine Diplomacy

A number of pundits think cyberwar against Russia will come in the form of embarrassing Putin, his government and ruling class. Not to mention the Russian hackers who work for the government. Britain’s doing cyberwar too, but seems to be keeping far more quiet about it than we are. Law-and-war analysis blog Lawfare posits that there’s nothing new to be hacked. Because of this, they conclude, all cyberwar can do is reveal of information the US has already purloined in hacks our spies have done over time.

Talk about zero points for creativity! The law and war pundits might not be looking at the world around us, but most of us who are worried about what cyberwar might mean certainly are — and we’re more than a little worried about acts of war and the cybers. I mean, not only do we all watch films and TV, we’re painfully aware that major breaches are commonplace, that industrial control systems are not in the best of shape, and that the internet of things is definitely not our passive and always-helpful friend.

Perhaps we’ll find out that DDoS is the new D-Day. I don’t know about you, and I’m not friends with any anti-hacking hippies, but I’d really rather that my country not have to ask Russia, “shall we play a game?”

I think that to most people, this kind of war is going to be even harder to conceive than any in history: The American public will literally not understand what it looks like. As a result it will feel far less real, there will be misinterpretation a go-go, and public accountability has left the building. There will be no draft, no foxholes and no bombs, no shrapnel, no Purple Hearts, no boots on the ground, and to the outside observer, no noise, no honor, and no cost.

There won’t be any cyberwar protests, anti-cyberwar songs or movements, or hippies hoping we’ll just give cyber peace a chance. Nor will there be any ticker-tape parades for triumphant returning heroes of the cyberwar. Hell, there won’t even be a clear victor.

Images: AP Photo/Evan Vucci (Trump); AP Photo/Markus Schreiber (Putin)


5 tips for using the revamped Google Pixel launcher – CNET

Google Pixel unboxing

Want to see what comes with the latest Google phone? Take a look inside the box of the Google Pixel XL.

by Lexy Savvides



If you’re someone who has traditionally used Google’s Nexus devices and the Nexus launcher, there are a few things you’ll need to know about the new Pixel launcher. And for everyone else, well, it’s a good idea you learn about your new phone, too.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the new Pixel launcher:

That weather widget

google-pixel.jpgEnlarge Image

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Next to the Google search shortcut on your main home screen, Google now places current weather conditions directly on the home screen. You can’t remove it or disable it, as far as I can tell.

Tapping on the current conditions will open the weather section of the Google App where you can view a more detailed forecast.

Quick Google searches

The Google search bar that’s been a staple of Android home screens since its debut is nowhere to be found on the Pixel. In its place, you’ll find a white Google button. Tapping on the button expands the search bar, where you can then search the web or your device as you normally would.

Swipe up

To access the app drawer on a Google Pixel, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. As you’ll quickly discover, there’s no longer a button dedicated to launching the app drawer. Instead, you’re given a fifth spot on the bottom app dock to store your favorite apps.

When in the app drawer, you’ll find a few suggested apps just below a search bar specific to within the app drawer. Scroll up or down to view your apps, and then close the app drawer either by pressing the home button or swiping the drawer back down.

Turn off app suggestions

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

For those who don’t really care to have apps suggested to you every time you open the app drawer, you can turn it off with just a few taps.

Long-press on an empty area of your home screen and tap on the Settings icon. Slide the switch next to App suggestions to the Off position, then tap on Turn Off when prompted.

Remove Google App access from home screen

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

By default, you can swipe to the right of your home screen to view your Google Now feed. If you never use this feature and would rather turn it off, you now can.

Long-press on an empty area of your home screen and tap on the Settings icon. In the settings screen, slide the switch next to Show Google app to the Off position.

You can still access your Google feed by opening the Google app from the app drawer.


How to change your DNS and (maybe) get the internet back – CNET

Sometimes, when your favorite websites go “down,” they’re actually still right there. You just can’t see them, because your computer doesn’t know how to get there.

What if you could give your PC some better driving directions right now, in just a minute or two tops?

To do that, you just need to change your DNS server.

What’s a DNS server?

“” is just the street address of this website. To figure out the “driving directions,” if you will, your computer contacts a special server (called DNS, for Domain Name System) to figure out the route. It tells your web browser that “” actually means “”. That number, known as an IP address, is a far better description of where CNET actually lives.

But if your DNS server goes down, you might have some trouble. Switch to another public DNS server to resolve those issues.

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How to change your DNS in Windows.

Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

How do I change my DNS on Windows?

  • Hit Start and type Network and Sharing Center (or right-click on your Wi-Fi icon and click it there).
  • Click on Change Adapter Settings (on the left).
  • Right-click on your active network connection, then hit Properties.
  • Left-click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and hit Properties. (If you use IPv6, change that one also/instead.)
  • Click on “Use the following DNS server addresses:” and type in one of the following public DNS server addresses: or = OpenDNS or = GoogleDNS or = DNS.Watch or = VeriSign Public DNS

Note that you may need to try more than one to get your sites working. OpenDNS helped us around this recent Twitter and Netflix outage, but GoogleDNS didn’t.

How do I change DNS on Mac?

System Preferences
Click the DNS tab
Click the little + sign at the lower left to add a new DNS server
Type in the numbers of a public DNS server (see four suggestions in the Windows section above)
Click OK

Click Apply

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How to change your DNS on a recent Mac OS X machine.

Screenshot by Patrick Holland/CNET

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