Snoozing Friends on Facebook

We all have that one Facebook friend. You know the one I mean — they post oodles of updates on one particular topic, usually one which doesn’t interest you, or might if they weren’t saturating your entire Newsfeed with the stuff. (I plead the fifth when it comes to my own friends.)

You don’t want to unfriend them, or even unfollow them. You just, you know … need a break. Facebook today introduced Snooze with exactly that idea in mind. If you hit Snooze on a friend’s profile, you won’t see any of their updates in your Newsfeed for 30 days.

The feature has been in testing for a few months. There are certain social media features I look at and think, “Who could possibly use that?” But this one I’m pretty sure could see widespread use.

The feature rolls out to everyone today.

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What The Net Neutraility Vote Means To You

What Was Net Neutraility?

Net neutrality is a term used to describe a set of regulations that ensure all information flowing over the internet is treated equally. It means companies cannot block websites or offer certain companies faster loading speeds for money.

For example, internet services providers like Verizon and Comcast are currently prohibited from charging you more money to visit sites such as Netflix and Youtube. Verizon and Comcast are also prohibited from charging Netflix and YouTube to prioritize their traffic over other websites or services.

Until now, the internet mostly evolved under net neutrality principles. This meant that the internet was something of a meritocracy. The best idea would conceivably win out, even something like two guys starting a search engine out of a garage.

Without net neutrality, this could change, opening up the door to corporate domination of the internet.

What Happened Yesterday

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on a party line vote today to rescind the net neutrality rules passed by the agency under President Obama. Two Republican-appointed commissioners joined agency Chairman Ajit Pai in a 3-2 vote to rescind the order and return to a standard that closely resembles the way the internet has been regulated for most of its existence. The vote was briefly delayed after security cleared the hearing room in the middle of Pai’s remarks in order to conduct a search.

The Obama era rules reclassified internet service from a Title I information service to a more heavily regulated Title II telecommunications service, essentially treating it as an early 20th century utility, like the phone system.

The Problem Deifined

The rules generally required internet service providers to treat most pieces of information that flowed over the internet equally, effectively setting up a non-discrimination standard for network management, content, and pricing. These requirements will no longer be in force. 

Instead, the FCC will require ISPs to be transparent about their services, meaning that bandwidth throttling or other network management practices, which have sometimes been opaque to consumers, would have to be clearly labeled. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), meanwhile, would be empowered to regulate anti-competitive or anti-consumer behavior, stepping in when internet companies make promises to provide a service that they do not keep.

As a result the federal government will stop managing the Internet leaving consumers at the mercy of their internet providers.

The regulatory rollback has been the subject of intense criticism from Democrats and activists, and even a small number of Republican lawmakers.

The shift in strategy is telling: Netflix favored net neutrality rules as a way to preserve a business advantage. As it has grown, it no longer needs that advantage. The debate over net neutrality was always, in part, a tug-of-war over regulatory advantage between tech industry giants. Today, the FCC took steps to stay out of the fight — and remain a neutral regulator over the net.

How This Can Effect Everyone Who Uses the Internet

Imagine having to pay an extra $10 per month so that Netflix streams fast enough to watch movies. Or that an app creator needs to pay AT&T millions of dollars so that new customers can actually access it on the company’s wireless network.

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These accessibility issues are the kinds of things that net neutrality proponents theorize could happen without regulations. Once major companies are able to start negotiating with each other over how data flows across the internet, there’s no shortage of ways to pass higher costs on to consumers while scuttling innovation.

There is Hope

The FCC will face a volley of lawsuits as a result of their vdecesion yesterday. These lawsuits will argue that the FCC did not make this change on the merit of the facts and that the move itself is a violation of what the FCC is mandated to do.

Those legal challenges bear a decent chance of overturning the FCC’s actions, though it’s far from a sure thing.

Previous court rulings have essentially laid out why the FCC could and should regulate internet providers as done under the Obama administration. And courts have generally upheld those rules since then.

It’s a silver lining on an otherwise very dark cloud.

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Microsoft’s OneDrive Makes Searching Photos Easier

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the automatic detection of images that are uploaded to SharePoint and OneDrive. OneDrive can detect whether an image is a whiteboard, a receipt, outdoors, a business card, etc. When an user searches for ‘whiteboard’, he or she will get the whiteboard images stored in OneDrive.

This week Microsoft reported that it is improving the intelligent feature to extract texts inside the images automatically and make them searchable.

While at a restaurant, snap a photo of the receipt. You can do this directly from the OneDrive mobile app, Office Lens mobile app, or just upload a photo you’ve taken with your device. Later on, when you go to file your expenses, you don’t have to remember where you stored it, but instead can search for something that you remember about the expense, for example ‘sushi’ or a location.

Images stored in 21 different file formats including “bmp”, “png”, “jpeg”, “jpg”, “gif”, “tif”, “tiff”, “raw” will be supported for this feature. For now, only English language detection is supported.

Text in image search is currently rolling out to Office 365 commercial subscribers and will be available worldwide by the end of 2017.

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Hundreds of HP Laptops & Tablets Found with Pre-Installed Keylogger

If you have recently purchased a HP laptop or tablet pay close attention to this article.

A security researcher has recently found that hundreds of different models of HP notebooks, tablets and other devices include a keylogger that could track and record every keystroke a user makes. Linked to touchpad drivers made by Synaptics, the keylogger is disabled by default and can be fixed with security patches released by HP last month.

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The keylogger was discovered by security researcher Michael Myng, who publicly disclosed his findings in a blog post Thursday. In his post, Myng said that he messaged HP about his discovery and the company responded quickly by confirming the issue and releasing a software update to resolve the problem.

HP said neither it nor Synaptics “has access to customer data as a result of this issue.” However, after a registry change, the keylogger could enable a malicious actor to monitor a user’s keyboard activity.

More than 450 Affected Devices

In a November 7 security update, HP provided links to software patches for more than 450 products, including multiple models of the HP Notebook, HP EliteBook, HP Mobile Thin Client, HP ProBook, HP Spectre Pro and HP ZBook Mobile Workstation. The company said that affected users should install the appropriate update for their devices as soon as possible.

This isn’t the first time such an issue has affected HP devices. In May, researchers with Switzerland-based security company Modzero reported finding a keylogging vulnerability in the Conexant audio drivers in HP laptops.

In a statement acknowledging the May keylogger discovery, HP said it had “no access to customer data as a result of this issue. Our supplier partner developed software to test audio functionality prior to product launch and it should not have been included in the final shipped version.”

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Microsoft Patch Tuesday Arrives

Microsoft has released security updates as part of its monthly Patch Tuesday release. The company has patched 34 issues.

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These include cumulative updates for Windows 10 (first version shipped in 2015), Windows 10 version 1511 (November update), Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update), Windows 10 version 1703 (Creators Update), as well as Windows 10 version 1709 (Fall Creators Update).

All the aforementioned updates are expected to go live this month, which should arrive with a Flash update to fix recent vulnerabilities in the application. Besides, the main focus of all these Patch Tuesday updates would be to address security issues in Windows 10, alongside minor bugs and performance improvements.

Readers are advised to install these new batch of cumulative updates as soon as they are available for download. As installing them ensures that your PC is fully up-to-date with the latest security patches and system improvements.

Just like past cumulative updates, this week’s patch Tuesday updates will need system reboots, hence users are advised to save their work before installing them. To check the availability of these updates, just head over to Settings> Windows Update, and check for updates. After which you are required to perform a system reboot to ensure the new update is properly installed on your PC.

That being said, it remains to be seen whether these updates install without any hassles on all PCs. As users in the past have reported issues while installing cumulative updates, or after rebooting their systems. Just make sure you backup all your important data before going ahead with update process. We’ll keep you updated if we come across such issues.

 

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Tech Tip! Freezing Columns & Rows in Excel

You can fit a lot of data into an Excel sheet. With thousands upon thousands of rows and columns, it can get pretty unwieldy.

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One small feature that makes it easier to manage all of that data is the ability to freeze rows and columns so that no matter where you scroll in the spreadsheet, those rows or columns always stay visible.

How to Freeze the First Column or Top Row in Excel

With this method, you’re going to have to choose to freeze either the row or column. Unfortunately, you can’t do both.

  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet and go to the View tab.
  2. Click the Freeze Panes button.
  3. To freeze the top row, click Freeze Top Row in the dropdown menu. To freeze the first column, click Freeze First Column in the dropdown menu.

How to Freeze a Selection of Columns and Rows in Excel

If you would prefer to freeze a combination of rows and columns, it’s possible but it’s only just slightly more tricky:

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  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet and go to the View tab.
  2. Select the cell directly below the row you want to freeze and the cell to the right of the column you want to freeze. If you want to freeze rows 1 to 4 and columns 1 to 3, then you’ll select cell D5. If you want to freeze the top row and the first column, you’ll select cell B2.
  3. Click the Freeze Panes button and again, click the Freeze Panes option in the drop down menu.

How to Unfreeze Columns or Rows in Excel

  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet and go to the View tab.
  2. Click the Freeze Panes button.
  3. Click Unfreeze Panes in the drop down menu.

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New Ransomware Threat Emerges

A massive botnet is sending emails containing ransomware that could destroy your computer.

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You probably know from prior articles that ransomware is the # 1 digital threat in the world. The FBI estimates that nearly $1 billion was paid by victims of these attacks in 2016 alone. Now, millions of computers are at risk of being infected with a new ransomware strain. The threat is being spread in a super clever way that is easy to fall victim to.  That is why you need to know what to look for to prevent this threat.

It starts with a phishing email

The latest ransomware attack, dubbed Scarab, is being distributed by the Necurs botnet through phishing emails. Scarab first appeared this summer but was recently updated to block users from using third-party recovery tools. This attack is spreading extremely fast. Within the first six hours of being launched, over 12.5 million malicious emails were sent to unsuspecting victims.

The phishing emails supposedly contain a scanned document that the recipient will want to look at. The “document” is actually a zip attachment that contains a VBScript downloader. If the attachment is clicked, it will infect your computer, phone or tablet with ransomware.

People from all over the world started receiving these malicious emails on Novevmber 23rd. The email subject line says the document was scanned from trusted printer companies like:

• Scanned from Lexmark

• Scanned from Epson

• Scanned from HP

• Scanned from Canon

Once your computer is infected, a ransom note appears. It begins with, “If you want to get all your files back, please read this.” The note goes on to demand payment. In a strange twist, the scammers do not have a set ransom. Instead, the note says, “the price depends on how fast you write to us.”

The best way to avoid this ransomware attack is knowing how to spot a phishing email and not click this malicious link.

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Windows 10 Adoption Grows

Back in May, more than 500 million active devices were being powered by Windows 10. Last week at Micrsoft’s annual shareholders meeting it was announced that a new milestone had been achieved for Windows 10. It’s now powering 600 million active devices.

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Windows 10 growth slowed down ever since the end of the free upgrade offer for Windows 7/8 users. Microsoft’s operating system continued to pick up market share, albeit at a much slower rate, as more and more businesses started moving away from Windows 7, but the majority of users are still running older versions of the OS to this day. Extended support for Windows 7 is set to end in 2020, and by that time Windows 10 should be well over the 1 billion target Microsoft set during the initial launch of the OS.

Going forward, it’s clear that Microsoft won’t have too much trouble getting users to upgrade to newer versions of Windows. The company’s Windows as a Service strategy has performed surprisingly well so far, with more than 20% of all Windows 10 users already using the latest feature update for the OS which only came out in October.

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iOS 11.2 Arrives

Yesterday released iOS 11.2, the second major update to the iOS 11 operating system available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. iOS 11.2 comes a month after iOS 11.1, the first major update to iOS 11, and it follows several other smaller bug fix updates.

The iOS 11.2 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the update, go to Settings –> General –> Software Update. Eligible devices include the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later, and the 6th-generation iPod touch.


iOS 11.2, as a major 11.x update, brings several new features and important bug fixes. It introduces Apple Pay Cash, Apple’s peer-to-peer payments service. Apple Pay Cash works through the Messages app and is designed to allow for quick person-to-person money transfers, like Square Cash or Venmo.

You can quickly and easily send and receive money through iMessage conversations with Apple Pay Cash. Cash is sent from a linked debit or credit card, while received cash is stored in an Apple Pay Cash card in the Wallet app and can be used for purchases or transferred to a bank account.

For the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus iOS 11.2 appears to introduce faster 7.5W wireless charging speeds through compatible Qi-based wireless charging accessories. At 7.5W charging speeds, the three new iPhones are able to charge faster wirelessly than with the standard 5W wired iPhone power adapter.


When it comes to the iPhone X interface, iOS 11.2 adds a small bar underneath the status bar icons located at the upper right side of the Lock screen, which is designed to make the location of the Control Center gesture more clear. On the iPhone X, Control Center is accessed by swiping down from the top of the device.


In Control Center on all devices, there are two new informational pop-ups that are displayed when using the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth toggles. These pop-ups explain that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are disabled temporarily rather than permanently when accessed from the Control Center.


iOS 11.2 introduces a new Sports section in the dedicated TV app, which offers up access to live sports games through integration with the ESPN app. The Sports app can be accessed through a new “Sports” tab at the bottom of the app, and it offers up custom content based on team preferences and current sports seasons.


There are multiple bug fixes in the update, including a fix for an animation bug in the Calculator app that caused some numbers and symbols to be ignored when entered in rapid succession. The update removes the animations from the calculator app so calculations can be done quickly with no need to pause between entering numbers to obtain the correct result.

The update also addresses a date bug that caused continual crashing in iOS 11.1.2 after December 2. The problem was linked to local notifications, and according to a support document, it is fixed in iOS 11.2. iPhone and iPad users experiencing this bug should turn off notifications and then install iOS 11.2.

Other new features in iOS 11.2 include redesigned camera emojis and other emoji tweaks, a new loading animation for Live Photos effects, and Live wallpapers for the iPhone X. For developers, the update introduces a new feature that allows them to offer new customers discounted introductory pricing for auto-renewable subscriptions in the App Store. Full release notes for the update are available below:

iOS 11.2 introduces Apple Pay Cash to send, request, and receive money from friends and family with Apple Pay. This update also includes bug fixes and improvements.

Apple Pay Cash (US Only)
Send, request, and receive money from friends and family with Apple Pay in Messages or by asking Siri

Other improvements and fixes
– Adds support for faster wireless charging on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X with compatible third-party accessories
– Introduces three new Live wallpapers for iPhone X
– Improves video camera stabilization
– Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show
– Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type
– Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete
– Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear
– Improves stability in Calendar
– Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen
– Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen
– Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen
– Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen
– Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded
– Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map
– Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message
– Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results
– Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly
– Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store, and Music
– Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications

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New Windows Troubleshooting Scam Emerges

Just in time for the holidays a new PC scam is making the rounds that trys to trick you into turning over you hard earned cash.

“Windows Troubleshooting” is a new nasty scam that distributes as cracked software installer, it displays a fake BSOD, or Blue Screen of Death, on the infected machine and then shows Troubleshooting Windows pop up that seems like legit Windows Troubleshooter.

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The Troubleshooting scam was first detected by Pieter Arntz (a security researcher from Malwarebytes), the researcher said that Tech Support Scammers use different techniques for distributing themselves. This particular one was offered as a cracked software installer.

After installed, the scam will say that your Windows cannot be fixed, prevents you from using Windows, and encourages you to buy a program using PayPal to fix the “detected problems” and unlock the screen.

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The option of “Buy Windows Defender Essentials” will open a PayPal page to let you purchase the app for $25. The funds will be transferred to the following PayPal address

“lillysoft.it@gmail.com” and use the following URL:“https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=DXKLEMZTGTTDY”

After a successful payment, victims will be redirected to “hitechnovation.com/thankyou.txt”, which includes the word “thankuhitechnovation” that tells the program to open a new screen that pretends to fix the issues and enables the victim to close the program.

How to remove it?

To remove this scam, you should first bypass the lock screen, the malware uses a simply breakable mechanism to verify if a victim made a payment or not. But, you can simply workaround this issue by following these steps:

– Open the fake PayPal purchase screen.
– Press Ctrl + O keys from the keyboard to launch open dialog box.
– Type http://hitechnovation.com/thankyou.txt into Open box and press enter.

That’s all. You should be able to close the window and access your Windows because the program will think the user paid and shut itself down.

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