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11
Jul

Astropad Standard and Studio Apps Updated With Support for Luna Display Adapter, Which is Now Available for Pre-Order


Astropad today introduced new updates for both its Astropad Studio and Astropad Standard apps, bringing support for the Luna Display adapter, which is also now available for pre-order.

Introduced as a Kickstarter project last year, the Luna Display is designed to turn any iPad into a wireless second display for the Mac.

Astropad alone mirrors the Mac display, but Luna Display is designed to extend the Mac display rather than simply mirror it.

The Luna Display adapter plugs into a Mac using Mini DisplayPort or USB-C, and then after downloading the app, the Luna Display serves as an extension of the Mac, letting Mac content be accessed directly from an iPad.

Both of the Astropad apps now support Luna Display, and the Luna Display itself can be pre-ordered from the Luna Display website for $69.99.


Astropad also announced today that it is discontinuing all support for third-party styluses. The company says that third-party styluses deliver poor performance compared to Apple Pencil and create engineering complexities.

Astropad no longer recommends third-party styluses for artists. Support will cease at the end of 2018 to allow Astropad to focus on optimizing its apps for the Apple Pencil.

Astropad Standard can be downloaded from the App Store for $29.99. [Direct Link]

Astropad Studio, which costs $11.99 per month for syncing and monthly feature updates, is free to download initially. [Direct Link]

Tag: Astropad
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11
Jul

Pinterest Gains Collaborative ‘Activity Feed’ Tool to Make Event Planning Easier


Pinterest today announced the launch of a new social collaboration tool, called the “activity feed” for group boards. This section of the app will let members weigh in with a quick like or comment, @ mention another user, or start a new thread, and includes updates when members add new pins, create new sections, new members join, someone likes or comments, and more.

The app had comment support before, but each comment had to be attached to a specific pin. Now all comments will be organized in the activity feed so that conversations are easier to follow, and users will be able to start threads of their own on the collaborative board for all members to see, or under specific activities in the feed.

Pinterest is hoping to further facilitate the use of its platform as a party-planning tool for birthdays, weddings, and other events by introducing deeper social features that keep its users within the app. Earlier this year, the company introduced a “Following” tab that makes it easier to discover new ideas from users you follow.

The majority of Pinners use group boards to collaborate with family and friends as they plan parties, events and projects together. These updates are in direct response to requests from Pinners just like these, and they’re part of our ongoing effort to make Pinterest a more productive place to bring events and other projects to life.

The group activity feed will be available starting today across Pinterest’s mobile apps and on the web.

Tag: Pinterest
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11
Jul

Procreate for iPad Gains New Liquify Filter, Warp Transform Mode and Symmetry Drawing Guide


The Procreate app for iOS was today updated to version 4.1, introducing several major new features that will enhance the drawing and art creation experience on the iPad.

A new Metal 2-powered Liquify feature lets artists push, pull, expand, pinch, and twirl their art using either touch-based gestures or Apple Pencil pressure for more control.

The Symmetry Drawing Guide in Procreate 4.1 lets users mirror strokes as they paint, with customizations that include half, quadrant, or radial devision with both mirror and rotational modes. Symmetry can be used with any brush or paint tool, along with Liquify and ColorDrop for unique works of art.

A new Warp Transform mode offers 16 adjustable nodes and depth layering, and it can be used alongside the existing Freeform and Distort Transform modes, while a new Layer Select gesture option lets users select a layer by touching the layer’s content.

The built-in Perspective tools in Procreate have been improved with 2D and Isometric Guides, offering more control over grid measurements. Drawing Assist also snaps lines to guides for faster, more precise sketches.

Other notable improvements include Brush Set import and export, a 30-second time-lapse export option, and a color invert option for layers.

Procreate 4.1 is a free update for existing users. New users can download Procreate from the App Store for $9.99. [Direct Link]
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11
Jul

Mac Mini Refresh, New Low-Cost Notebook, Apple Watches With Larger Displays and More Coming This Fall


Apple is working on updates across its entire product line for the second half of 2018, according to a new investor’s note shared this morning by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, with refreshes expected for iPhone, iPad, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Apple Watch.

Much of what Kuo has to share has been mentioned before, but he provides a nice overview of what we can expect to see this fall along with some interesting new tidbits on Apple’s upcoming product lineup.

  • iPhone – There are three iPhones in the works, two OLED models in 5.8 and 6.5-inch sizes and one lower-cost LED model that will be available in a 6.1-inch size. All three will feature Face ID and upgraded A12 processors. While the two OLED models will have dual-lens cameras, the lower-cost model will feature a single-lens camera.
  • iPad Pro – Apple is working on two new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models that are equipped with a full-screen design similar to the iPhone X and no Home button, with Apple to replace Touch ID with Face ID.
  • Mac mini – Kuo didn’t have a lot of information to share on the Mac mini, but he says a processor upgrade is expected. The Mac mini has not been updated for more than 1,300 days, aka over 3 and a half years. It’s not clear if additional upgrades will be included, such as a redesigned chassis, but at least some kind of refresh is on the horizon.
  • MacBook Pro – Processor upgrades expected.
  • MacBook – Processor upgrades expected.
  • New Low-Priced Notebook – Kuo believes Apple is designing a new low-priced notebook. He originally said that this would be in the MacBook Air family, but now has changed his mind. Previous rumors have suggested this machine could be a 12-inch MacBook, so Apple may be planning to expand the MacBook lineup with an additional low-cost option to replace the MacBook Air.
  • iMac – Kuo says to expect a significant display performance upgrade, but he does not go into detail about what this will entail and we haven’t heard additional iMac rumors at this time. He says the iMac, like other Macs, will get a processor refresh.
  • Apple Watch – Apple is working on two new Apple Watch models for 2018 that will have bigger displays and enhanced heart rate detection features. The two Apple Watch models will measure in at 1.57 inches (39.9mm) and 1.78 inches (45.2mm), compared to the current 38 and 42mm sizes. Rumors have not been clear on whether the Apple Watch itself will be larger or if the bigger display will come from a reduction in bezels.

Kuo wraps up his note with a prediction that the highly-anticipated AirPods and the AirPower will go into mass production in the third quarter of 2018, suggesting a late fall launch. Apple first announced the AirPower in the fall of 2017, but has reportedly run into some problems with production. Recent rumors have said Apple is aiming for a September launch for the AirPower.

Kuo doesn’t provide details on when we might see refreshes to Apple’s other product lines, but the company could be planning to launch all of the new products at its annual September event, which is typically held during the first or second week of September.

In the past, Apple has also held separate October events when there is a heavy fall product lineup to unveil, so Macs and iPads could also come in that month.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5, MacBook, 2018 iPhones, AirPodsBuyer’s Guide: 10.5″ iPad Pro (Don’t Buy), iMac (Don’t Buy), Mac Mini (Don’t Buy), MacBook Pro (Don’t Buy), Apple Watch (Caution), 12.9″ iPad Pro (Caution), MacBook (Don’t Buy), AirPods (Caution)
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11
Jul

Common LG G7 ThinQ problems, and how to fix them


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The LG G7 ThinQ is an interesting phone that offers great sound quality, speedy software, and solid battery life. It’s a solid, if unremarkable, flagship, but it doesn’t always work as expected. We’ve been digging around to find the most commonly reported LG G7 ThinQ problems and we’ve identified possible workarounds or fixes to help you overcome them.

It’s a glass phone, so if you don’t want problems with cracks or scratches, you’ll want to start by investing in one of the best LG G7 ThinQ cases.

Problem: Backlight bleed

There have been quite a few reports of backlight bleed on some LG G7 ThinQ handsets. This is when the backlight that’s used to light up the LCD is coming through at a certain spot and illuminating it more than it should. There are threads at XDA Developers forum and on Reddit about this problem and it mostly seems to appear at the bottom of the screen to the right of the home icon.

Solution:

  • There’s no fix for backlight bleed, as it’s a manufacturing issue. If your LG G7 ThinQ has backlight bleed, then you’ll want to contact LG, your carrier, or your retailer and arrange for a replacement handset.

Issue: Battery percentage not appearing

A few people have been complaining that the battery percentage isn’t showing in their notification panel, even when it’s turned on in the settings, as in this XDA Developers forum thread. Luckily, it’s easy to fix.

Possible fix:

  • Start by going to Settings > Battery and make sure that Battery percentage on status bar is toggled on. Go to Settings > Display > New Second Screen and make sure it’s set to Standard. You should also go to Settings > Display > Display size and turn it all the way down to the smallest.
  • If none of that worked, then back up your files and try a factory reset. This will wipe your phone. Go to Settings > General > Backup & Reset > Factory Data Reset and tap Reset phone.

Glitch: Auto brightness too dark

There are discussions at the XDA Developers forum and on Reddit about the auto brightness on the LG G7 ThinQ being too aggressive and making the screen too dark. Some people have also found that they’re unable to adjust the brightness level when auto-brightness is turned on – this seems to be specific to T-Mobile.

Workarounds:

  • If you’re able to adjust the brightness level while auto-brightness is on, then go to a dark environment and drag the brightness slider as low as you want it to go to recalibrate it. This should set a minimum brightness for that light level.
  • Go to Settings > Display and toggle Auto off, then set the brightness level as low as you ever want it to go and toggle Auto back on.
  • There is a brightness boost icon at the left end of the brightness bar that you can tap to boost the brightness level.
  • Try an app like Lux to get more control over your screen’s brightness.

Problem: Camera lag

We noted a little camera lag in our review, and it’s something that has cropped up in discussions on Reddit and at the XDA Developer forum and Android Central forum. Some people are having issues with the time between tapping the shutter button and the photo being taken; others have found that it takes a while for the photo to save to the gallery.

Workarounds:

  • Try opening the Settings in the camera and turn HDR off and then test to see if it’s faster. Unfortunately, the quality won’t be as good, but you may notice that the lag is gone.
  • The problem is more pronounced indoors or in low-light conditions, so try to snapshots in well-lit environments. Unfortunately, this is par for the course with cameras in general.
  • Open the camera and tap Mode > Manual Camera. You can adjust various settings in here including the shutter speed, which is second from the end on the right.
  • If your problem is with slow saving to the gallery, you might test without a MicroSD card in the phone to see if that’s slowing things down.

That’s it for issues so far but check out our LG G7 ThinQ tips and tricks to get more out of your phone.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. LG G6: Out with the old, in with the new
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: Clash for the heavyweight title
  • LG V35 ThinQ vs. LG G7 ThinQ: Which phone prevails in stablemate showdown?
  • Take control of your LG G7 ThinQ with these helpful tips and tricks
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. iPhone X: Which phone comes out on top?



11
Jul

Hinge wants to make first dates easier, launches ‘Most Compatible’ feature


Sometimes, swiping left and right a dating app can become mundane — especially if those matches continuously wind up unsuccessful in real life. With Hinge’s new “Most Compatible” feature, the company hopes to change that by providing you with people it thinks you’d be most interested in dating but will also be interested in dating you.

For those unfamiliar with Hinge, the dating app is a bit different than others on the market. Rather than only relying on physical traits through photos, Hinge offers a variety of questions for you to answer in order to inject more personality and fun into your profile. That way, when someone lands on your profile they can “like” one of your answers rather and even comment on it rather than only swiping right on a photo.

Users will find the new feature in the discover section of the app. Every 24 hours, Hinge will send you a new recommendation based on new information it learns about its members. It acts like every other potential match on the app, so you can view their profile, “like” a specific part of it, and choose whether you’re interested.

But how does this work? It uses machine learning to identify your tastes based on your behavior within the app. Hinge essentially builds a “taste profile” for you that then allows the algorithm to figure out who you would be most likely interested in all the way down to who you would least likely be interested in. You’re then paired with the person who is also most likely interested in you — also known as your most compatible.

With the new feature, Hinge hopes to solve what it considers a reoccurring issue in online dating — too many options that provide a small number of successful results. By providing users with informative suggestions based on an algorithm that is constantly learning new things about them, Hinge found its users are eight times more likely to go on a date with someone they’re most compatible with.

“People are used to seeing a lot of people when you go on to a swiping app, there’s always an endless number of people on there for you. And what we’ve found is restricting people’s choice doesn’t really serve them … people will then just go to other services where they find more people,” Hinge CEO Justin McLeod told Digital Trends. “What we’re trying to do is help you focus on the best person that we think would be great for you … so you can cut through the clutter of people that you’ve not going to be interested in or people who aren’t going to be interested in you and really focus.”

The Most Compatible feature is currently rolling out on Hinge. The app is available for download on iOS and Android.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best dating apps of 2018
  • ‘Wingman’ matchmaking app makes dating less dreadful for you and your friends
  • Money can’t buy you love, but it may buy you more compatible picks on Tinder
  • Tinder’s parent company Match Group swipes right on Hinge
  • The best iPhone apps available right now (July 2018)



11
Jul

Sirin Labs’ crypto-phone could change the way we pay with our mobiles



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Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

A year and a half ago, Sirin Labs had what its chief marketing officer describes as an almost religious moment, which ultimately resulted in the creation of a game-changing smartphone. It’s called the Finney phone, and it may be coming at exactly the right time to assist in bringing about a sizeable change in our everyday lives.

Intrigued? The Finney is a smartphone that connects you to the world of cryptocurrency, integrating blockchain technology and key cryptocurrency tools, with one of the world’s most secure mobile operating systems to keep everything safe. At this point, due to the overexposure this tech has been having recently, you’re either desperate to read on, or about to quickly navigate away. If you’re in the latter camp, wait just a second.

Sirin Labs knows it’s dealing with an industry that’s confusing, dense, and seemingly made up of buzzwords. The company understands this problem, and has genuinely made the Finney phone simple to use, opening up a fascinating new technology in a way that’s understandable and interesting to the average human being.

We’ve seen a prototype of the phone, and sat down with the people bringing it to life, in order to have our minds changed about what initially sounds like a niche device useful only to a few billionaires around the world.

Simple to use

In the U.S. alone, Sirin Labs research discovered 25 million people have cryptocurrency tokens and are therefore likely to be actively speculating. It’s difficult to call that a niche, and it’s obvious by the amount of press, the countless seminars and conventions, and money that’s being made from it and blockchain technology that there is a highly motivated community behind cryptocurrency. They’re the ones who will love the Finney phone first; but once the geeks are onboard, Sirin Labs is coming for you.

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

We asked Nimrod May, Sirin Labs’ chief marketing officer, if the Finney phone will be the device for people to get started with cryptocurrencies. He emphatically replied, “Absolutely, 100 percent, yes.” Developed by Sirin Labs’ team of 70 over the past 18 months, many of whom were already blockchain and cryptocurrency fans before the project started, the company wants Finney to bridge the gap between the blockchain and the mass market. Sirin Labs co-CEO Zvika Landau explained the vision for the Finney phone’s user friendliness further.

Once the geeks are onboard, Sirin Labs is coming for you.

“Most people are afraid of cryptocurrencies, and don’t know where to start,” Landau said. “The user experience we want is one that is so simple, you won’t need to understand how blockchain technology works, you won’t need to understand how to sign a transaction, or what happens in the background at the time.”

Think of the Finney phone with its integrated cryptocurrency support as an alternative to an iPhone with Apple Pay, or an Android phone with Google Pay. That’s how Sirin Labs envisages its potential impact. It’s acutely aware of how much hand-holding it will need to still do, and will not only transform its London store into an educational center-style showroom, but also hold events and meetups around the world to get people started.

Technology and security

At the moment, crypto transactions are complicated, with multiple tokens, security threats, no central organization for protection, and complicated wallets for storing cryptocurrencies accessed either online, or offline with the help of hardware like a USB stick. Hardly the most user-friendly system, or one that encourages anyone to make fast, real-world payments.

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Finney phone streamlines all this, and aims to take away the hassle. You may remember Sirin Labs’ first phone, the monstrously expensive, hand-finished Solarin phone with its Android-based Sirin OS software, which focused on high levels of security. The Finney phone’s version of Sirin OS uses 80 percent of the Solarin’s software, with additional measures directly related to cryptocurrency use added in. Specifically, it includes a multi-layer cyber security suite, a DApp decentralized app store, a token conversion system, and an embedded cold storage wallet.

The cold wallet gives the Finney its wow factor.

The cold wallet gives the Finney its wow factor. While phones with pop-up cameras have become popular this year, the top of the Finney phone extends up to open the cold wallet and reveal a 2-inch second screen for the authentication key. When the screen is closed the cold wallet, which uses its own separate micro-controller unit (MCU), is totally shut down. Your wallet is safe and disconnected from the internet. The private key is kept in a separate secure zone, similar to that used on the Solarin phone.

You slide up the screen manually, it’s not motorized, and on the version we tried the action was smooth and nicely dampened. Too nice, actually, and the temptation was there to flip it up and down subconsciously. This wouldn’t be a good thing, and would activate the wallet endlessly, so Sirin Labs is engineering it so there’s enough resistance to stop that temptation.

Specifications

We haven’t tried the phone outside of sliding up and down the cold wallet, as the device was a non-working prototype made to show the design, therefore we cannot comment on any aspects of the software, its operation, or actually carrying out a transaction using the Finney.

Sirin Labs Finney Crypto Phone Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

What we do know is a complete rundown of the specs. It has a Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM at its heart, along with a 6-inch, 18:9 aspect ratio screen — yes, it has a notch — and a 12-megapixel single-lens camera on the back. The selfie camera has 8 megapixels, there’s a 3,280mAh battery inside, and 128GB of internal storage space. The body style is reminiscent of the Solarin, with flowing curves on the ends and sides, but without the expensive materials that pushed the price of its first phone into the stratosphere.

The Finney phone costs $1,000, and is currently being produced by Foxconn. It will launch in November and be available to buy almost immediately afterwards, with the final dates still to come. It can be pre-ordered through Sirin Labs site now, if you’re really keen. The second desktop device discussed when the Finney phone was first officially announced will not come at launch, but in 2019, a year when Sirin Labs has big plans.

Future plans

Over the coming year, Sirin Labs will connect Finney phones to a blockchain network, which will run services that use Sirin Labs own SRN token. Beyond that, the Sirin OS is open source and other manufacturers will be able to create their own super-secure blockchain phones, plus Sirin will release a software development kit to help integrate apps and tokens. While names were not mentioned, Sirin Labs said it has been approached by “six or seven” manufacturers already. Prior to our meeting, rumors spread that Huawei is investigating a blockchain phone, although it has not been officially tied with Sirin Labs yet. The company won’t have a say in how these other devices are developed, or force the use of a second screen for the cold wallet; but it plans to protect its brand by eventually adding a “Sirin OS Inside” style tag to devices.

The timing of the Finney phone is fascinating.

What about the SRN token? This is Sirin Labs own cryptocurrency, and its initial coin offering (ICO) raised $157 million. When you buy the Finney phone, you’ll be able to do so with a credit card; but Sirin Labs will convert that payment into SRN tokens. The harsh reality, if that’s what it is, is Sirin Labs isn’t a hardware manufacturer expecting to make money from its devices. It likely expects to make money from a service — in this case the SRN token and its blockchain ecosystem. It’s the same approach Apple took with the iPhone and the App Store.

The potential is there too, because of the simplicity envisioned by the team. The Finney phone brings together a token conversion system, a cold wallet, lots of security, and everything else one needs to use cryptocurrencies into a single, easy to use device. Using the Finney phone to pay will be as simple as using the camera to scan a barcode, then the onboard cold wallet to secure the transaction. That’s it.

Risk and potential

Except, not really. Options are limited for regular people to use cryptocurrencies in everyday situations. It’s almost solely used for speculation, fundraising, and for purchases of questionable legality at the moment. There are other decentralized apps and services, such as the Brave browser — which will be pre-installed on the Finney phone — or games like CryptoKitties, but it’s not for your weekly shop yet. It also doesn’t instantly make entering the cryptocurrency world any less financially risky than it is now.

However, things are changing. The risks associated with cryptocurrency won’t affect the Finney phone or Sirin OS, and are mostly caused by speculators.

“As more people adopt cryptocurrency for daily usage, it will become more stable, which will encourage more people to use it,” Landau told Digital Trends.

The Finney phone has the potential to lessen the turmoil by speeding up the adoption of cryptocurrencies around the world. The timing of this phone is fascinating, coming when attention on blockchain and cryptocurrencies is at fever pitch. May knows the opportunity is there, saying, “If you come with the right product and the right technology, you have the chance of changing the world.”

He is first to admit the pretentiousness of the statement, but it’s impossible to deny the prospects here, and only the shortsighted would fail to be excited by them. However, like cryptocurrency itself, it now needs to live up to the hype.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Before crypto nirvana, blockchain needs to solve these basic problems
  • Volition is a blockchain-powered collectible card game that you print at home
  • Here’s everything we know about the HTC Exodus smartphone
  • From the doctor to the DMV, blockchain can make governments swift and secure
  • Why Mastercard is ripping a page from Bitcoin’s book



11
Jul

Hackers can purchase government login credentials for cheap on the dark web


McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team recently discovered that hackers have access to many organizations that have weak credentials when using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop component in Windows-based systems. Access to these organizations — whether it’s an airport, a hospital or the U.S. government — can be bought for little money through specific shops on the dark web.

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) essentially allows you to connect and use a Windows-based PC from a remote location. When those login credentials are weak, hackers can use brute force attacks to gain the username and password for each connection. McAfee found connections up for sale across various RDP shops on the dark web ranging between a mere 15 to a staggering 40,000 connections.

“The advertised systems ranged from Windows XP through Windows 10,” says John Fokker, McAfee’sHead of Cyber Investigations. “Windows 2008 and 2012 Server were the most abundant systems, with around 11,000 and 6,500, respectively, for sale. Prices ranged from around $3 for a simple configuration to $19 for a high-bandwidth system that offered access with administrator rights.”

Among the list of devices, services and networks on the menu are multiple government systems on sale worldwide, including those linked to the United States. The team found connections to a variety of healthcare institutions including medical equipment shops, hospitals, and more. They even found access to security and building automation systems at a major international airport selling for a mere $10.

The problem doesn’t just revolve around desktops, laptops, and servers. Internet of Things devices based on Windows Embedded are also on the menu such as point-of-sale systems, kiosks, parking meters, thin client PCs and more. Many are overlooked and not updated, making them a quiet entryway for hackers.

Black market sellers gain RDP credentials by scanning the internet for systems that accept RDP connections, and then use tools like Hydra, NLBrute and RDP Forcer to attack the login using stolen credentials and password dictionaries. Once they successfully log into the remote PC, they don’t do anything but put the connection details up for sale.

After hackers pay for a connection, they can bring a corporation down to its knees. For instance, a hacker could pay a mere $10 for a connection, infiltrate the network to encrypt the files of every PC, and demand a $40,000 ransom. Compromised PCs can also be used to deliver spam, misdirect illegal activity and mine cryptocurrency. Access is also good for stealing personal information and company trade secrets.

“We found a newly posted Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard machine on the UAS Shop,” Fokker writes. “According to the shop details, it belonged to a city in the United States and for a mere $10 we could get administrator rights to this system. UAS Shop hides the last two octets the of the IP addresses of the systems it offers for sale and charges a small fee for the complete address.”

The solution, according to McAfee, is that organizations need to do a better job at checking all their virtual “doors and windows” so hackers can’t sneak in. Remote access should be secure and not easily exploitable.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • You have to get an invite for Walmart’s personal shopping service, Jetblack
  • Chrome now supports the new password-free login standard
  • Seeking a paleo, gluten-free, or diabetes-friendly meal kit? Sun Basket delivers
  • Windows 10 vs. MacOS vs. Chrome OS
  • Microsoft Surface Go hands-on review



11
Jul

Ready to party? Pinterest expands group boards with new activity feed, threads


Pinterest is making planning group projects simpler. On Wednesday, July 11, Pinterest launched several new tools for group boards, designed to streamline communication with group members on shared projects.

The first change for group Pinners is the new activity feed for group boards. The feed tracks all the changes within that group board, including when a member adds a Pin or creates a new section. The activity feed, Pinterest says, is designed both for easily spotting what’s happening on the board as well as having conversations within the board, since all the members will see new pins and comments using the tool.

Expanding on those group conversations, Pinterest has also worked to create more seamless conversations around those Pins. Likes, comments and mentions will now start a new thread, encouraging conversation within the group board.

Both the activity feed and streamlined conversations are for group members only, Pinterest says only group members can see the conversations and activity feed. The updates are a direct result of feedback from users, Pinterest says, who requested easier group communication within the platform.

Group boards are popular for planning parties and events within a larger group, Pinterest says, but group boards can be started on any number of topics. Unlike the typical Pinterest board, group boards allow Pinterest users to invite other collaborators, turning the board from a spot to save ideas to a place to make suggestions within a group. Users can turn boards into group boards by clicking on the edit option within a board and adding other Pinterest users in the collaboration section. 

While group boards have been around for awhile, the update aims to make communication with that group streamlined. With the activity feed, notifications from active groups are less likely to get missed. Feeds could also make conversations on the board easier between group members. Pinterest says the change is part of the network’s ongoing process of enhancing events and projects sparked from within the network, including an update earlier this year to dump outdated pins and enhanced search tools.

The group updates are rolling out globally to both the apps and the Pinterest website.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Hootsuite’s new tools add posting and scheduling to Pinterest
  • Portable microphone system transcribes multi-person conversations in real time
  • Words lead to actions in the latest version of Slack packing Asana, Jira support
  • WhatsApp expands its capabilities with a slew of new features
  • Facebook is busy enhancing two-factor authentication, group tools, and more



11
Jul

ASUS ZenFone 5 review: A mostly marvelous mid-ranger


zenfone-5-1.jpg?itok=aEige3-n

After a couple of phones in 2017, ASUS is properly back in contention in the British market with the ZenFone 5.

ASUS has been making phones for many a year now, but in the case of the British market, after the first generation, things just, well, stopped. It restarted in 2017, but as we hit summertime in 2018, finally, ASUS has a phone that hits the right spot at the right price.

The ZenFone 5 is on sale in the UK from July 9 for £350, so it’s very much a mid-range device with a mid-range price. It’s a continuously crowded space, but the ZenFone has come swaggering in with its good looks and its AI camera.

But is it any good?

ASUS ZenFone 5



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Price: £350

Bottom line: The ZenFone 5 is an attractive package at an attractive price. It’s far enough away from the likes of the OnePlus 6 to be a contender in a true mid-range price bracket, and while questions linger over future software support, the ZenFone 5 is mostly a winner.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Good looking display
  • Decent camera
  • Well priced

Cons:

  • Zenimoji is a bad idea badly executed
  • If you don’t like notches, I have bad news for you

See at ASUS UK

ASUS ZenFone 5 Gorgeous and capable mid-range hardware

We’ve been over this before, but I’ll lay it on the table right at the start. Yes, this looks quite a bit like an iPhone X running Android. ASUS’ somewhat cringeworthy launch event back at MWC 2018 made no apologies over the similarities, nor the constant comparisons.

But this isn’t an iPhone X running Android. For starters, this UK variant costs just £350, a whopping £650 less than the cheapest iPhone X. What this is, is a mid-range Android smartphone that looks like it costs twice as much.

Screen 6.2-inch FHD+ (2246 x 1080) Super IPS+
Chipset Snapdragon 636
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB
Rear Camera 1 12MP, ƒ/1.7
Rear Camera 2 12MP, 120-degree wide-angle
Front Camera 8MP, ƒ/2.0
Battery 3300mAh w/ fast charge
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, BT 5.0
Security Fingerprint sensor, Face Unlock
Colors Meteor Silver, Midnight Blue
Dimensions 153 x 75.6 x 7.7mm
Weight 165g
Price £350

And that’s not really a bad thing, is it?

iPhone resemblance out of the way, here’s what actually makes up the ZenFone 5. Obviously, there’s a notched display, but with this, a 6.2-inch 2246 x 1080 resolution and a 90% screen-to-body ratio, what you get out front is a whole lot of display and not a lot else. There’s a super skinny bezel running across the top and down the sides, with a slim, hardly noticeable chin at the bottom.

If you’re going to do a notch at all (that’s a whole different discussion for another day), at least do it right, like ASUS. It’s not all display, but it’s pretty damn close, and in a mid-range phone that’s more than good enough.

Ignoring the display completely though, take a step back and appreciate the design for what it is. It’s gorgeous. In particular, the Midnight Blue one I have here. The front is black, the metal frame is dark, but not quite black, and the glass panel on the rear is a seductive mirrored blue finish. The display edges have the slightest of curves so they roll seamlessly into the frame.

Don’t leave it naked on a table, though —unless you enjoy picking it up off the floor.

This phone’s predecessor, the ZenFone 4, was something of a looker, but in aping the iPhone X feel, the ZenFone 5 is in a different league. The front being consumed by display has pushed the fingerprint sensor around the back, complementing ASUS’ Face Unlock in a one-two security punch.

The hardware screams premium without running away with your wallet. ASUS tosses a simple TPU case in the box to keep that glass back safe and your metal chamfers from getting chipped, which is a nice touch. But the exterior of the ZenFone 5 is as good as my vastly more expensive iPhone 8 Plus. High praise indeed.

Inside, ASUS is using the new Snapdragon 636 CPU from Qualcomm, an improvement on its predecessor in the UK which ran the Snapdragon 630. It’s paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage which is expandable. And it’s a great performer. ASUS doesn’t use stock Android, it does its own thing, and in the past, an Achilles heel has been day-to-day performance.

But the ZenFone 5 feels no different in most use cases to my Pixel 2. You perhaps see an odd stutter from time to time, but nothing particularly detrimental to the overall experience. Demanding games can chug a little in the most intense moments, with Final Fantasy 15 Pocket Edition, for example, giving the phone a workout. But it’s still very playable if you’re OK ignoring the odd frame skip.

To enhance gaming performance, ASUS’ Game Genie makes a reappearance, and while the “optimizations” may be dubious, it’s a useful ally to ensure that you don’t get any undue distractions while gaming or accidentally back out of the game at the crucial moment. Game Genie is also a simple way to record your mobile escapades or stream them to YouTube or Twitch.

The speakers are even pretty solid, whether gaming or listening to your favorite tunes. The quality isn’t anything to sing about, it’s what you’d expect to find from a mid-range phone, but the volume is loud, made even more so by the “outdoor mode,” designed to give you some additional decibels so you never miss a phone call on the busy streets of the capital.

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ASUS ZenFone 5 Software finally (mostly) nailed

The days of heavily bloated, over-the0top ASUS mobile software is at an end. In all honesty, the ZenFone 4 was a decent attempt, but with ZenUI 5 ASUS has given everything another spruce up, trimmed off the last of the fat and left something that’s probably as close as the company will give you to what Google offers on its own phones.

Mostly bloat free with some stock apps remaining Google’s.

The new launcher mimics the upward swiping of the Pixel launcher to open the app drawer, though the default way of organizing apps is infuriating if you just want to see everything alphabetically. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix in the settings.

You have a smattering of ASUS’ own apps, some such as contacts replacing default Google options, but it’s far from overpowering and some have useful features built in. Mobile Manager, for example, gives you additional battery saving controls including a time to schedule the phone to be its most frugal. Battery life isn’t a worry on this phone, though, the 3300mAh power pack is ample to crunch through a day.

But it’s a little bit of a mix of ASUS and Google, and I think it works. The stock SMS app is Google’s, Google Calendar is the default calendar application, and these complement ASUS’s own creations like the dialer, calculator and weather apps.

zenfone-5-5.jpg?itok=_FEYTWVpWho knew hiding the notch would make it look worse?

What Zen UI remains, is colorful. The stock theme is a mix of white backgrounds and colorful icons, while the launcher has some bright as all hell stock wallpapers. This being an ASUS phone, there’s also a packed theme store with some less vivid designs and those that will blow your eyeballs to pieces.

The software also has a couple of notch-specific features built in. If you really don’t like it, you can simply toggle to hide it, and the top corner portions will be all black, all the time, so as to mimic a standard status bar. I don’t particularly like notches, but ‘hiding’ it just makes the whole interface look odd, so it’s best to embrace it.

Don’t hide the notch, embrace it for better or worse.

Equally down the bottom, you can hide the software buttons while in apps to maximize your screen, and for those apps that don’t fully support notched displays, you can just tap a button and the phone will artificially enlarge everything and push it right out into the corners if you wish. When you’re viewing video content, you just won’t notice it’s there, since the video will cut off inside it and display a regular aspect ratio.

There are some little details that feel like ASUS didn’t properly optimize for the type of display on this phone, though. If you have battery percentage on, for example, the far right item in the status bar is right up against the rounded corner.

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There are two clouds that hang over the ZenFone 5 software experience. The first is Zenimoji. It’s like Apple’s Animoji, equally annoying and less well executed. I tried to send one to an iPhone over MMS and the iPhone couldn’t even open it. Which phone’s fault that is doesn’t really matter, the ultimate result is a bad experience all around. The saved Zenimoji on the ZenFone 5 are also pretty low quality, too, so honestly, just avoid it. It’s just bad.

The other more serious cloud is over ASUS’ commitment to updates. During my time with the ZenFone 5, I’ve received four pre-release updates, one of which added Zenimoji. The last added the May security update but the phone remains on Android 8.0. Oreo is good, and lord knows expected, but it’s not even the latest version and the security patch is still behind. Perhaps its past experiences but we’re still going to need to see how ASUS actually handles this stuff when the phone is in peoples hands.

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ASUS ZenFone 5 An AI camera

AI is one of the hot new buzzwords in the smartphone space and anyone who’s anyone is throwing some kind of AI into their phones. In ASUS’ case, like Huawei, you have an AI camera, that is, one that’s smart and learns things.

There are a number of benefits to this, or in theory at least. I’d probably need much longer with the phone for it to truly show whether it’s a useful feature or bogus marketing. On a basic level, the AI camera is smart enough to recognize the scene you’re shooting and adjust its settings automatically to produce the best looking photos. It’s also part of what powers the phone’s portrait mode and it will detect your dog. Canine photography has never had it this good.

Over time, the ZenFone 5 should learn how you like your photos to look and make the necessary adjustments without you touching anything. The end result: Great photos, all the time.

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On a hardware level, the rear camera array is made up of a pair of 12MP sensors, with the main shooter utilizing Sony’s IMX363 and an aperture of ƒ/1.7. The secondary camera offers a 120-degree wide-angle shot, with a simple tap in the camera app to switch between the two.

The front shooter is 8MP, and if you’re really into your selfie game, the ASUS SelfieMaster application will help you add all the lovely beautification you want. Didn’t help me, but there’s only so much software can do.

The main app is pretty simple to get your head around. There’s a one-touch option to use Google Lens, which is nice, and a heap of creative filters, different shooting modes including super-resolution and panorama, and a pretty robust pro mode with all the manual settings you could want.

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ASUS has been pushing a hard sell on its cameras for years now, going right the way back to the ZenFone 2 launch where press were invited to explore the low light capabilities by shooting into a dark box. We’ve come a long way since then, and that we can buy a mid-range phone that shoots great photos means we all win.

But I’ll let you be the judge.

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ASUS ZenFone 5 Should you buy one?

I criticised the ZenFone 4 for its price, because in the UK at least it was more expensive than competing handsets without offering a compelling argument for choosing it instead. The price point for the ZenFone 5 is £100 less than its predecessor launched at, which certainly puts it in the right ballpark.

At £350 it offers good value. You get a strong camera, a gorgeous, premium looking phone, good battery life and a nice display. It’s a good phone, and anyone who pre-ordered before July 8 from ASUS will have managed to get one for £300, which is really good value.

It finally feels like ASUS is properly back in the UK market and is here to compete. Since making its return we’ve only seen the Tango-fitted ZenFone AR and the too-expensive ZenFone 4. For 2018 it feels like things have been reset and we’re getting the right phone at the right price for this market.

The elephant in the room is always the competition. The Honor 10 isn’t much more expensive, and the Nokia 7 Plus is the same price at £350 complete with Android One. It’s not a bad thing, there’s some strong choice now in the mid-range, and if ASUS can commit and deliver regular software updates, it truly will be able to hang with the big boys.

4
out of 5


Standing alone, the ZenFone 5 is a really nice mid-range device, much improved on ASUS phones of old and something genuinely enjoyable to use. It has its quirks, it has things that could easily have been left out (Zenimoji be gone), but on the whole, a job well done.

See at Amazon US
See at ASUS UK

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