Understanding Touch ID on iOS

Touch ID is one the more innovative things to come to iOS. It’s not just for unlocking your device. It also lets you make payments, authenticate a purchase in the App Store, and as of iOS 11 grant trusted access to a computer you connect your device to. Where Touch ID is incredibly powerful and convenient to use, it can be a security risk too. Touch ID is much easier to use to unlock a phone then say entering the passcode. If we’re talking about legal rights, you can’t be made to give up your passcode but you might coerced to use your Touch ID. Fortunately you can disable Touch ID from the lock screen in iOS.

Open the Settings app and go to Emergency SOS. Turn off the ‘Autocall’ option. That’s all. Now, whenever you need to disable Touch ID from the lock screen, simply press the power button five times in quick succession.

You will see the following screen. You can tap ‘Cancel’ if you have the time or you can do nothing and the screen will dismiss itself. After that, if you try to use Touch ID to unlock your phone, it won’t work. You will need to enter your passcode to get to your phone. Once you enter the passcode though, Touch ID can be used to unlock your phone again.

If you have the ‘Autocall’ feature enabled and don’t want to turn it off you can still use this feature but with extreme caution. Clicking the power button five times will automatically initiate the emergency call. If you aren’t experiencing an emergency then you have to cancel the call before the timer runs out. If you think you won’t be able to cancel it then it’s best to turn off your phone.

When you turn off your phone, and turn it on again, Touch ID is disabled by default. You will have to enter your passcode to unlock it. This might be a slightly inconvenient way to disable Touch ID but if you’re in a hurry, it works. Yet another alternative way is to use the wrong finger to unlock your phone. After five consecutive failed attempts to unlock the phone, Touch ID will be disabled.

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Facebook’s Updates It’s Look

Facebook’s mobile apps are getting a new look, though blink and you might miss some of the changes.

The most obvious update is coming to comments, which now look a lot more like a conversation in your average messaging app rather than than a series of posts. This falls in line with Facebook’s recent desktop tests, which display comment threads a bit more like group chats.

The idea is to make comments a bit more readable, and make it easier to see who’s replying directly to another person.

Facebook might also be trying to subtly make conversations with strangers a bit more friendly. The text bubble’s resemblance to a messaging app could make it feel more like you’re actually having a personal conversation with participants, rather than replying to a random internet thread.

Less obvious are the changes to the News Feed. Facebook is using a brighter shade of blue and has increased color contrast overall to make text more readable. The link previews are slightly larger – they now take up the entire width of your screen – and the Like, Comment, and Share buttons are now larger.

Throughout the new design, Facebook has also replaced it’s silhouette style icons with more iOS-like wireframes – for better or for worse. I like them, but your mileage may vary.

There are also other small tweaks like a more prominent back button and the ability to see where a link will take you before clicking on it.  The whole shebang looks a fair bit more like Instagram now.

Oh, and Facebook pulled a Twitter, switching perfectly fine square profile photos for circular ones.

Facebook will be rolling out the new design “over the coming weeks,” so you may not see it just yet. The new look certainly isn’t the most dramatic overhaul Facebook’s ever seen, but seems to mostly be for the better.

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NFL Expands Their Use of Microsoft’s Surface Tablets

The NFL is expanding it’s use (and reliance) on Microsoft Surface tablets this season. The new procedure began with this year’s Hall of Fame game between Dallas and Arizona. The technology reportedly worked “like a charm”, with a coach’s challenge settled in quick order by the officiating staff in New York.

Image result for nfl surface tablet

Unlike in the past, the referee no longer will be charged with making that final decision; The Referee crew, located at the league headquarters will do so in consultation with the “on the field” referee.

Already, the Surface tablets were being used by coaches and players on the sidelines to download photos of the action. Troy Vincent, who oversees football operations for the league, says the NFL is moving carefully on the use of video by coaches, rather than just photos, during the regular season.

In using the Surface tablets for officiating reviews, two systems will be set up, one at each end of the field, as opposed to the single under-the-hood procedure of the past.

Image result for denver broncos surface

Unrelated but I love this photo. Here you find the champs of Superbowl 50 finding their own use for the Surface tablet.

This will be the most visual use of the tablet, but it’s hardly the only one. All 32 teams have been utilizing it for virtually every task.

Also for the first time this season, medical personnel on NFL sidelines will have access to Surface devices which will feature the NFL’s “Game Management” system. That app displays key moments in every game and allows for medical data collection and sharing across games.

 

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Outlook.com Rolls Out Enhancements

I have recommended Outlook.com many times as my “personal email service” of choice. The interface has always been easy to use while maintaining a professional – clean environment to work in. This service continues to get better.

Outlook is rolling out a bunch of new features in a new beta version that was recently announced. If you’re interested in test driving them now, it’s a simple as using a different URL to log in.

https://outlook.live.com/mail/

This will give you immediate access to the beta, without having to wait for it to show up as an option in your account.

When you first load the beta version, Outlook will give you a rundown of the new features you can use. If you change your mind about using the beta version, you should be able to go back to the pre-beta version by toggling the beta button.

According to The Verge, however, if Outlook hasn’t already rolled out the new beta to your account, this workaround will no longer work if you toggle the beta off.

So what do you get with the beta?

New Interface and Robust Search

The beta interface is sleeker, with shortcuts to your inbox, calendar, contacts, photos, and tasks. Search has also been improved with the ability to now preview files and photos in your conversation lists.

See All Your Photos in One Place

A key feature that Outlook highlights when you make the switch over to the beta version is the ability to view all your photos in one place. Click the photo icon in the menu on the left to see all photos you have sent or received. This is also searchable, but only by file name.

Quick Suggestions

As you type, Outlook will offer suggestions based on your email. For example, if you suggest a coffee shop when arranging to meet a friend, Outlook will create a link that you can click and insert more info about that location or event right in your email.

If you prefer to turn this feature off, go to Settings > View Full Settings > Mail > Composeand uncheck the Quick Suggestions box. (Although it is worth mentioning that with the beta features toggled on, we never saw any quick suggestions no matter what we typed.)

New Personalization Features

The sleek interface brings with it so much more robust personalization features for how your inbox is set up. You can put your favorite contacts or folders front and center, making it easier to find the messages that matter to you.

You can also search for emojis and GIFs by clicking the smiley face button in your compose window, to add even more personality to your messages.

Microsoft has also said to be on the lookout for more changes to Calendar and People over the next few months.

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Viewing Your Activity on Facebook

You know that feeling when you’ve liked a link on Facebook but can’t find that link again? Luckily, it’s really easy to find every link, post, and even comment that you’ve liked.

There are quite a few ways you can find anything on your Facebook timeline, but to find everything you’ve ever liked on Facebook, the easiest way to do this is to head over to your profile and click View Activity Log. In addition to seeing your likes, you can see pretty much everything you’ve done on Facebook: what you’ve posted, commented on, saved, and more.

If you want to drill down just to your likes, there’s a menu on the left that allows you to view just one type of interaction. In this case, you’ll want to click Likes. A small submenu will appear that allows you to drill down even further to either posts and comments or pages and interests.

Using the calendar to the right of the screen allows you to view all the content on Facebook you’ve liked from the day you joined the social network.

You can also use the activity log to unlike content without having to go back to someone’s profile or page.

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Disney & CBS Look to Challange Netflix

Two major networks are looking to compete with Netflix and steal, at least part of their audience. First CBS announced it’s own streaming service with the launch of the new “Star Trek” TV series.

First You Have CBS

CBS is moving fast in the streaming channel arena, with plans to expand CBS All Access to Canada and other international markets by next year.

CBS is also working on the launch of a streaming sports channel patterned after its CBSN digital news service. The movement in the over the top (OTT) market comes as the CBS All Access and Showtime stand alone services are expected to exceed 4 million subscribers in total by the end of this year.

The sports channel is in the early stages of development and doesn’t yet have a name.

The decision by CBS to relaunch the “Star Trek” franchise on CBS All Access rather than on the CBS network or Showtime, or even to sell it to Netflix in the U.S., was a calculated decision to grow the streaming service. “Star Trek: Discovery” – the first new TV series in the “Trek” canon in 11 years, is set to premier on September 24. In an obvious effort to attract users to their new platform – through Star Trek – CBS will premier the first episode on their regular CBS network with the second episode (part 2 of a cliffhanger) airing immediately afterward – exclusively on CBS All Access. In other words if you want to keep watching the new Star Trek – sign up with CBS All Access.

As you can see by watching the quality of the “Star Trek: Discovery” trailer the mission of these networks to launch their own streaming service, with new & exciting content is no joke – and could, potentially be a boon for all of us.

Then You Have Disney

Disney has now officially announced that it’s making its own Netflix competitor, a streaming service that will air original Disney movies and TV shows. In addition Disney announced that it also plans to launch a second Netflix-like offering that will deliver sporting events.

It’s not surprising that Disney wants to directly compete with Netflix and other streaming services, given that more people opt to ditch traditional cable in favor of online entertainment.

The Disney TV streaming service will only launch in 2019, while the ESPN-based service would be available as soon as next year.

Disney also reported that it will terminate the licensing agreement for new titles beginning with the 2019 calendar year.

This means that post 2019 if you want to watch Disney movies and show you will need to subscribe to their exclusive channel.

What All of this Means

How we watch television is rapidly changing. Networks like ABC, CBS and NBC are trying to find ways to remain relevant in this ever changing landscape. Where commercial advertisements were once king now networks are looking to the audience to “subscribe” in order to watch the content they enjoy. At the same time, because of the success of pay-cable TV shows like “The Sopranos” and “Game of Thrones” audiences now expect much more from their television dramas. Commercial interruptions are a disaster to good TV – and the networks know this. We are well on the way to the extinction of relevant – free – over the air TV.

In fact so much has changed in the television landscape that Netflix is now almost seen as “old school” by networks like CBS and Disney. Ask yourself this question. Why should networks, with immense libraries of (old & loved) TV content and the resources to create new content sell to a “middle man” when they can create their own streaming services and reap 100% profits as opposed to sharing their earning with Netflix or Hulu.

The only question is can they do it – and be successful?

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Patch Tuesday Brings Several Windows 10 Updates

Starting today Microsoft is rolling out a brand new cumulative update for Windows 10 that brings several new security updates and under the hood improvements and fixes. These updates are rolling out today as part of “Patch Tuesday”.

Patch Tuesday Updates for Windows 10 (Build 15063.540)

The updates include:

  • Addressed issue where the policies provisioned using Mobile Device Management (MDM) should take precedence over policies set by provisioning packages.
  • Addressed issue where the Site to Zone Assignment List group policy (GPO) was not set on machines when it was enabled.
  • Addressed issue where the AppLocker rules wizard crashes when selecting accounts.
  • Addressed issue where the primary computer relationship is not determined when you have a disjoint NetBIOS domain name for your DNS Name. This prevents folder redirection and roaming profiles from successfully blocking your profile or redirects folders to a non-primary computer.
  • Addressed issue where an access violation in the Mobile Device Manager Enterprise feature causes stop errors.
  • Security updates to Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Windows Search Component, Microsoft Scripting Engine, Microsoft Windows PDF Library, Windows Hyper-V, Windows Server, Windows kernel-mode drivers, Windows Subsystem for Linux, Windows shell, Common Log File System Driver, Internet Explorer, and the Microsoft JET Database Engine.

Microsoft provides one known issue for the cumulative update rolling out today: Installing this KB (4034674) may change Czech and Arabic languages to English for Microsoft Edge and other applications.

The update is rolling out to everyone on the stable version of the Windows 10 Creators Update (including Insider Release Preview) right now under the name KB4034674. Users on the Anniversary Update, November Update and original Windows 10 release are also receiving cumulative updates today too.

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Saving Data Usage with Facebook

Are you a Facebook addict? Aside from needing to break the addiction as soon as possible (seriously, it’s not a healthy way to live your life), you should give some serious consideration to your data usage. Facebook like other apps just loves to use data – even when you are not looking at the app.

If you’ve had a few “shock” bills from your carrier, Facebook could be to blame. Between high-resolution images and auto-playing videos, the app can burn through data in no time.

Of course, you can turn off auto-playing videos by going to More (the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner of the screen) > Help and Settings > App Settings > Auto-play.

But there’s a better way: use the Data Saver tool.

What Does Data Saver Do?

Data Saver not only prevents videos from playing automatically but importantly, it also reduces the resolution of any images in your feed.

To set it up, head to the More menu in the top right-hand corner or your screen. Scroll down until you find Data Saver. It’s in the Help and Settings section.

On the next screen, make sure you slide the toggle next to Data Saver on into the On position. When you enable the setting, a new option will appear. It allows you to disable the Data Saver feature while you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Other Options to Save Data

To further reduce your data usage, there are a couple of other hidden settings you might find useful.

Go to More > App Settings and turn off the toggles next to Upload photos in HD and Upload videos in HD.

As a last resort, you can install Mobile Protect. Navigate to More > Mobile Data to get started.

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Facebook Continues it’s Fight Against Fake News

Facebook on Thursday began offering additional links to news stories as another method to help users discern false news and misinformation.

Image result for facebook fake news

The changes are seen in Facebook’s “related articles” feature, and are meant to better restrict inaccurate news without requiring the social media site to censor material.

The change will affect Facebook pages in the United States, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook was criticized for failing to rein in the spread of deliberately false information on the social network. After first resisting potential changes, Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook’s responsibility to deliver legitimate news stories.

Facebook has partnered with fact-checking website Snopes.com, which labels some stories as false from a Facebook-built database.

Also, Facebook said its machine learning algorithm has improved its efficiency, meaning it will now send more potential false news to fact-checkers.

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Mastering Password Managers

It goes without saying that everyone needs to use stronger passwords, and the best way to do that is with a password manager. The truth is, passwords that are hard to hack are very hard to remember, however you really do need long and complex passwords.

Top 3 Password Manager Apps for Android

That’s where password managers come in handy. There are all kinds of password managers out there, including some as basic as your browser’s rudimentary list of saved passwords list and some as elaborate as entire cloud systems that work across multiple devices and platforms.

All of these models have some basics in common: they store your passwords, they auto-fill details on login forms, and they keep your passwords encrypted in databases. The differences are where those databases are kept, the types of encryption and recovery options available.

Weaponized Math: Encrypted Passwords

Your browser can save passwords, but that often isn’t very secure. One of the main appeals of a password manager is that it saves all of your passwords behind one password in a single database.

Of course putting all your plain text passwords in one place isn’t much of a security measure in and of itself. Instead, your passwords must be encrypted, which secures your passwords. But since the amount of control over password databases can vary, you’ll want to figure out which model works best for you.

When boiled down, encryption is the use of math to disguise your data. The key used to transform the plaintext is randomly generated, the strength of the encryption is based on this key size in bits. In layman’s terms: the more bits, the more security. This is because the more compelx the key, the more complex the resulting output is.

Depending on the algorithm, that substitution is repeated. In certain cases, they key is transformed to further obscure the output. This process is creates what’s called a hash, which often has added salt—additional randomization added to the hashing process. This ensures the original value is completely obscured without the correct starting input, key, and salt.

There are additional factors like block size, initialization vectors, and other more advanced concepts. If you’re interested in the gory details, check out our detailed breakdown of encryption

Local Safes: Keeping Control

The best way to keep a secret is to never tell anyone. If you don’t want your passwords anywhere other than on your hard drive, a local password manager is your best option. This keeps your data on a device that you physically control, leaving your security directly in your own hands.

One of the more popular password managers is KeePass, an open source Windows solution with ports on Mac and Linux. It offers a lot of flexibility and control, including the ability to select between multiple encryption algorithms.

best password managers 2016 keepass

And if you’re looking for a complete escape from passwords, you can even use key files to unlock your passwords. (You put key files on a USB drive or other portable storage, then use the physical device as a key to authenticate with the machine.)

The downside to KeePass is the same as its strengths: you control the keys to the kingdom, so if you lose your key files or master password, you’re out of luck. In such a case, your only option would be to start over from scratch and set up every password again.

Your file is also limited to where you save it, so you’re responsible for any backups you want to maintain. If you want mobile sync, you’re going to need to do it manually (or with a separate syncing service like Dropbox) and a compatible reader on your tablet/phone. And if something goes wrong, you’re on your own.

Local managers give you a lot of security and control, but you lose a rescue plan and out-of-the-box portability.

Syncing Systems: Multiple Devices

If you’re juggling multiple devices with many passwords, keeping a master file locked on a PC somewhere is not the best solution — especially if you’re trying to log into Amazon on your phone or check your bank balance on your tablet. Don’t weaken the password just to make it more memorable!

That’s where hybrid approaches like 1Password come in, which uses Dropbox or your local network to automatically sync your password between devices. This gives you the ability to keep everything working across devices, but you are still the only one with the key to your data.

Image result for 1password logo

But you lose some of the crunchier options, such as multiple encryption algorithms and key file logins.

This fixes a lot of the downsides of the local-only option, as you can keep your phone, tablet, and computer all in sync. You’ll also need to trust Dropbox as a cloud host, though 1Password does add an extra layer of security on top with its own strong encryption, so you can rest assured of any security worries.

If you’re really worried about interceptors and other vectors of attack, you can just use your local network to synchronize your passwords across devices. You won’t have any hope of recovering a lost master password if you choose this route, but it does ensure that 1Password won’t have access either.

Cloud Services: Any Device, Anywhere

Keeping all of your passwords in the cloud requires a certain amount of trust in a company to do things the right way. My favorite choice here is LastPass.

LastPass keeps an encrypted copy of your password database in the cloud, making it available on almost every platform and browser imaginable. You will need a premium membership for several of their features, but the basics are there for free.

Image result for lastpass logo

Your devices do all of the encryption and decryption, ensuring that your master password is not on LastPass’s servers. If you don’t have access to the Web, a copy is cached locally so you can still unlock. There is an additional layer of protection in two-step verification as well.

You have to trust their security is as robust as promised, as LastPass makes for an obvious target for hackers. However, with a good master password and two-step verification enabled, you should be confident about the security of your password safe. And if you ever forget your password, you can recover your safe.

Literally the Least You Can Do

If you’re a Mac and/or iOS user, you already have access to a password manager built into your operating system: iCloud Keychain. This is an extension of the OS X keychain that uses iCloud to keep all of your passwords synced across devices.

Windows has a similar feature called Credential Manager, but it does not have the same cross-device syncing.

This is pretty comparable in terms of security to LastPass, but it’s limited to Apple devices. Unless you’re only running exclusively on Apple products, you’re going to be missing your passwords on some of your other devices, which can be a huge nuisance.

Yet even if you’re a big Apple fan, you still may not want to lock yourself into the platform because you never know what kind of other devices you may get in the future.

You Really Need a Password Manager

Unless you have an iron-clad memory, using different passwords across all of your accounts is going to prove difficult. Doing so with hard-to-crack passwords? Near impossible. Getting a password manager ensures that you can keep all of your accounts safe and secure using a single master password.

Find the model that works best with you and find the product that works best for your devices. Almost every manager has a free trial or free tier that you can try out. Once you’ve made your choice, go through all of your online accounts and update the passwords to be more complex.

That’s really all there is to it.

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