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Blue Origin Wants to Build a Space Station

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 16:25
Blue Origin says it will team up with Sierra Space, Boeing and other companies to build an outpost that could help replace the International Space Station.

Key Takeaways From the Facebook Papers and Their Fallout

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 16:07
A look at a month of scrutiny and struggles for the social-networking giant.

Hertz Places Order for 100,000 Tesla Vehicles

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 12:25
The order, which is expected to be delivered by the end of next year, is a sign of the growing momentum in the shift toward electric cars.

Frances Haugen, Facebook Whistle-Blower, Testifies to Parliament

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 12:24
Beginning a European tour, the former Facebook manager was questioned by policymakers planning tougher tech regulations.

Google Drive for desktop finally has full Apple M1 Mac support

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 12:00

In the latest update to its cloud storage service, Google has added full support for Apple M1 Macs to Google Drive for desktop.

With the release of version 52.0 of Google Drive for desktop, Mac users with a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini or iMac running Apple silicon can now take full advantage of the search giant's new unified client.

Google's new unified client also offers improved support for Apple's Photo Library including media that is synced with iCloud as part of Google Photos.

Google Drive for desktop

After years of maintaining two separate clients in the form of Backup and Sync for consumers and Drive File Stream for businesses, Google decided to merge them into one offering back in July.

While Backup and Sync gained “improved Apple M1 support” at the beginning of this year, Drive File Stream only added “open beta” support for Apple Silicon in February. An update in May brought improvements in regard to Apple M1 support though it was still a beta.

In addition to M1 Mac support, the latest Google Drive update also offers improved accessibility for folders and files created offline, support for some cameras to back up to Drive for desktop, the ability to manage and purchase additional cloud storage from within the client, improved sync performance when connecting to a network after working offline and other improvements.

Now that Google no longer has to maintain two separate clients, expect updates to Google Drive for desktop to begin rolling out at a faster pace.

Via 9to5Google

Why Amazon Is in Business With Judge Judy

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 11:27
The company hopes a new court show starring the straight-talking judge will help turbocharge its free, ad-supported streaming platform, IMDb TV.

Google Pixel 6 Review: Playing Catch-Up With the iPhone

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 11:00
With long battery life and nice cameras, the new Google devices excel at what popular phones have done for years. Is that enough?

Microsoft Office 2021 release date, price, features and everything else you need to know

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 10:36

Office 2021, the latest version of Microsoft's iconic office software suite, is out now.

With the company going all-in on its Microsoft 365 subscription package, it looked as if we may never see another traditional Office release. But Microsoft has now confirmed it will give users the chance to access the newest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the like for a one-time fee.

The Office 2021 bundle arrived on the same day as the company’s new operating system, Windows 11, and follows the same pricing format as the previous edition.

Here’s everything you need to know about Office 2021, from release date and availability to pricing and new features.

Cut to the chase

What is it? The latest version of Microsoft’s suite of office software
When is it available? October 5, 2021
How much does it cost? Office Home and Student 2021 - $149.99/£119.99, Office Home and Business 2021 - $249.99/£249.99
Who is the target audience? Office users who prefer one-time purchases over regular subscription fees

What is it?

Office 2021 is the latest edition of Microsoft’s famous suite of office software for PC and Mac. It includes favorites such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, as well as newer offerings such as Teams.

Although competition from Google Workspace has become increasingly fierce, Microsoft Office is still widely considered the most powerful bundle of productivity tools on the market.

The new bundle is live now to buy.

Microsoft Office 2021

Microsoft Office 2021 (Image credit: Microsoft) Pricing and availability

Microsoft Office 2021 comes in two flavors: Office Home and Student 2021 and Office Home and Business 2021.

The former is the cheaper of the two at $149.99/£119.99 and comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Microsoft Teams for both PC and Mac.

Office Home and Business 2021 comes in at $249.99/£249.99. Other than price, the only difference between this package and the cheaper option is the addition of email service Outlook and the legal rights to use the apps in a commercial context.

Both versions of the suite have to be purchased on a per device basis.


As you might expect, the latest version of Microsoft’s Office package comes with a range of new features, detailed in full here.

Beyond performance improvements across the board, the highlights include support for OpenDocument format (ODF) 1.3, new Excel functions, a new presentation recording feature for PowerPoint and updated translation functionality for Outlook.

At the top of all Office apps, users will also find a new intelligent search box, which is designed to help surface documents, commands and specific portions of text more easily. 

Finally, all the apps have been given a visual refresh that aligns the user interface with Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 11. That means rounded corners, a new color palette and an updated ribbon interface.

Microsoft Office 2021

Microsoft Teams in Office 2021 on Windows 11 (Image credit: Microsoft) Office 2021 vs Microsoft 365: What’s the difference?

The primary difference between Office 2021 and Microsoft 365 is the way in which customers pay for the services.

Microsoft 365 follows the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model, whereby customers pay a regular subscription fee for access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook etc. Meanwhile, Office 2021 customers pay a single upfront fee in exchange for a lifetime license.

Office 2021 has the potential to be cheaper in the long run and the apps still benefit from the same kinds of online collaboration features as their Microsoft 365 counterpart.

The downside of choosing Office 2021 over Microsoft 365, however, is that the feature set will only remain current for a limited amount of time (i.e. until the next version is released), whereas Microsoft 365 users will always enjoy the very latest updates and features.

Further, for businesses that would prefer to shift spending from CapEx to OpEx, Microsoft 365 is the obvious choice.

If you want to compare elsewhere, we've also built a list of the best Office alternatives around

ProtonMail wins privacy ruling on email security

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 09:26

Switzerland-based Proton AG, the company behind ProtonMail and ProtonVPN, has won an appeal against the Swiss Post and Telecommunications Surveillance Service (PTSS) over its status and obligations to monitor traffic.

Proton, which hails itself the world's largest secure email provider, and uses end-to-end encryption, had challenged its status under Swiss law that governed telecommunications surveillance.

Siding with Proton, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court confirmed that email service providers cannot be clubbed with telecommunications providers in Switzerland, and thus are not subject to the data retention requirements imposed on them.

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According to Reuters, the verdict followed a Swiss Supreme Court ruling in April, which observed that providers of chat, instant messaging, video conferencing, or Voice over IP (VoIP) services, such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Zoom, Teams, and Skype cannot be classified as telecom service providers, but rather "over-the-top" (OTT) service providers.

Victory for privacy

In September 2020, PTSS had decided that ProtonMail and ProtonVPN could no longer benefit from limited surveillance obligations. It asked Proton to store all the data necessary for surveillance and be available to answer its questions around the clock.

Proton challenged PTSS, and the court has now overturned that ruling and sent the case back for a fresh decision.

Proton founder and Chief Executive Andy Yen said Friday's ruling was an "important first step" in its campaign to advance privacy and freedom.

"We expect there to be further attempts to force tech companies to undermine privacy in both Switzerland and abroad, and we are committed to continuing to challenge this through both our encryption technology and through the courts," he said.

In a statement, Proton hailed both the current and the April rulings as a “victory for privacy.”  

For comprehensive privacy, use one of our best business VPN services

Behold, the Worm Blob and Its Computerized Twin

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 09:05
It wriggles. It pulls. It falls apart and comes back together. It is everything you wish for and everything you fear.

Ignoring Sanctions, Russia Renews Broad Cybersurveillance Operation

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 08:38
The new campaign came only months after President Biden imposed sanctions on Moscow in response to a series of spy operations it had conducted around the world.

Facebook Debates What to Do With Its Like and Share Buttons

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 06:57
Likes and shares made the social media site what it is. Now, company documents show, it’s struggling to deal with their effects.

Microsoft reinstates Hot Reload tool after huge open-source backlash

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 06:46

Microsoft has caved in to the pressure from the open source community and reversed its decision to yank a key feature from the upcoming .NET 6 release..

Microsoft wrongly rubbed the developers by quietly removing the Hot Reload feature from .NET 6, which reportedly allows developers to tweak source code while an app is running and observe the effects of the change in real-time.

The feature was one of the highlights of the open source .NET 6 platform. No wonder then Microsoft’s sudden decision to restrict the feature to Visual Studio 2022, a Windows-only paid product for the most part, forced the developers to ditch their laptops and grab pitchforks instead.

“....we’ve decided that starting with the upcoming .NET 6 GA release, we will enable Hot Reload functionality only through Visual Studio 2022 so we can focus on providing the best experiences to the most users,” wrote Dmitry Lyalin, Principal Program Manager .NET in charge of the Hot Reload feature, last week, announcing the change that led to the furor.

Ear to the ground

The Verge has learnt from anonymous Microsoft sources that the last-minute change, pinned down as a business-focused decision, was made by Julia Liuson, the head of Microsoft’s developer division. 

Microsoft probably didn’t foresee the backlash that would result from yanking a key open source developer-friendly feature from an open source framework, and restricting it to a freemium integrated development environment (IDE). 

“First and foremost, we want to apologize. We made a mistake in executing on our decision and took longer than expected to respond back to the community. We have approved the pull request to re-enable this code path and it will be in the GA build of the .NET 6 SDK,” announced Scott Hunter, Director Program Management, .NET. 

Hunter tries his best to explain Microsoft’s now-reversed decision, though admitting their mistake in executing the change.

“With the runway getting short for the .NET 6 release and Visual Studio 2022, we chose to focus on bringing Hot Reload to VS2022 first…. In our effort to scope, we inadvertently ended up deleting the source code instead of just not invoking that code path,” explains Hunter announcing the feature’s reinstatement.

Via The Verge

You can already use Google's Play Store in Windows 11 – here's how

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 06:19

Running Android apps in Windows 11 through Amazon was brought to the Insider program last week, and already a developer has unlocked Google’s Play Store for you to run any apps on Microsoft’s operating system instead.

While you can currently run apps from Amazon’s Android Store, you were limited to what was available on there, compared to the thousands of apps on Google’s store.

From games to productivity tools, and other social media apps, there’s thousands to choose from to run on your laptop or tablet, thanks to a guide that the developer has released over the weekend.

However, the benefits of what a larger app store could bring to Windows 11 may show greater opportunities to both Microsoft and Google in the future if users embrace Android on their Windows 11 devices.

How did this happen?

A developer by the name of ADeltaX on Twitter has been documenting their efforts in getting the Play Store to work, and over the weekend they achieved it.

The YouTube tutorial they give is easy to follow, and you’ll be able to run your Android apps alongside Paint, Snipping Tool and other Windows 11 apps in no time.

But we should state that this may not be available for long, as Microsoft will most likely revoke access to the store. Currently, the only way to use Android apps will be through the Microsoft Store and the library of Amazon’s App Store.

However, this does open up the avenue for games and productivity apps to be used on tablets and laptops alike running Windows 11 that aren’t available through Amazon.

Analysis: A Tale of Two App Cities

It’s no secret that the Google Play Store is less regulated than Apple’s App Store when it comes to the types of apps available to install. From emulators that can run consoles from years ago, to ports of games that are unauthorized by the teams behind the originals.

Being able to run these on your Windows 11 device is going to be a tempting prospect to many.  There’s around 60,000 apps available on Amazon’s Store, compared to over three million apps on the Google Play Store. With games, media apps and other categories available to download compared to what’s on Amazon’s store, it may tip the scales as to what users want to install on their machine.

pic.twitter.com/c8ZxkmdJ4ROctober 22, 2021

See more

But it could also bring an added benefit where Microsoft and Google partner up and make this method official in the future. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella has been a big proponent of making Windows and the company’s other apps as a service on other devices, so this only makes sense.

Especially when the Surface Duo 2 is running Android, there’s no obvious disadvantage here for both companies.

However, it may be a question of waiting to see how users around the world will react to Android apps in the Microsoft Store, and if there will be enough of a positive reception for a partnership to occur.

But regardless, it’s an interesting time to see the worlds of Microsoft and Google collide. It will ultimately be up to users if they want to see more of their favorite Android apps on Windows 11 devices soon.

Via Windows Latest

One of Microsoft's most-hated products might actually be getting a useful upgrade

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 06:15

Searching for lost files or that extra bit of data to make the difference at work could be quicker than ever thanks to a new upgrade from Microsoft.

The tech giant is boosting one of its less-celebrated products to give enterprise users an easier way to search online.

The update means that enterprise users will now get their historical searches as suggestions in the autosuggest pane on Bing and Microsoft Search in Bing, according to the official Microsoft 365 roadmap entry.

Bing bling

Bing, for anyone who may need reminding, is Microsoft's own search engine, designed to rival the likes of Google in offering information to users across the globe.

The new update should mean that enterprise users looking to quickly find files that they've searched for or opened before will no longer need to manually trawl through endless files and folders in search of the elusive location.

The update is still currently in development, but Microsoft will doubtless be keen to get it out soon and help boost Bing engagement.

The feature is set to be available to Microsoft Search users across the globe via the company's general availability route, meaning web, desktop and mobile users will all be able to utilize it upon release.

Microsoft has kept its support for Bing despite the huge disadvantage versus Google, which has dominated the web search market for years.

However, this support may have been slightly lessened by recent findings from Google, which claimed that the most searched-for term on Bing is actually Google itself, as Windows users setting up a new laptop or desktop PC often use Microsoft's browser first before installing Google Chrome using their search engine of choice, Google Search.

Want to boost your Windows 10 experience? These are the best Windows 10 VPN services on the market today

Best web development tools in 2021

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 06:00

The best web development tools make it simple and easy for developers to develop and design a custom website platform.

Web development has long since left the grounds of having to individually code pages in HTML/CSS, JavaScript, PHP or another internet language, using just Notepad or simply code-friendly text editor

These days, development development platforms are already available to help with every part of the process, from coding to web design itself. The result is the ability to build and host your own website the way you want it to look.

Of course, you could always just use an off-the-shelf CMS or the best website builder to simplify the design process, but both of these offer a degree of limitation that may suit general consumers rather than the most creative web developers and designers.

For standalone websites, freedom to code and build your own design can reap rewards not just in terms of aesthetics but also in terms of security, as you are not relying on third-party software plugins that not only carry a risk of being hacked, but may force you to subscribe to website monitoring or website defacement service to monitor for webpage changes and be alerted if - or when - they are.

With drag and drop tools combined with coding short cuts, website development has come a very long way since the turn of the 21st century. Here we'll feature some of the best web development tools current available.

Wanting to code on the go? We've highlighted the best laptops for programmers.

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(Image credit: Sketch) 1. Sketch

A toolkit for digital designs

Creates simple animationsClickable prototypesCloud collaborationMac only

Great websites are more than just code, as they embody great design elements, including logos and images. Sketch endeavors to handle the design elements, and bills itself as a “design toolkit.” It has features including the ability to add simple animations and creation of clickable prototypes. It also lets the user create a master symbol, that can then be used anywhere in the document, and be resized as needed- such as for an icon or an avatar. Furthermore, text and images can be manipulated into dynamic designs.

There is also a cloud component, that is termed Libraries, that allows collaboration as symbols can be shared, and worked on together. Finally, custom fonts can be designed to give the website a truly custom look, in the FontRapid tool that can be then exported into an OpenType font file.  

A limiting factor is that Sketch only supports macOS. The pricing is based on a single user license, which is a one-time payment, or as a monthly or annual subscription.


(Image credit: InVision) 2. InVision Cloud

The digital product design platform

Free tierFamily of useful toolsPrototype a website

With the list of top technology companies that use InVision Cloud including the likes of Amazon, SoundCloud, Evernote and Netflix, it clearly validates the method of using a digital product design platform.

This approach includes a number of traditional design elements and processes, and takes them into the virtual age, with tools including an Element Library, a photography board, navigation flows, a web prototype for desktop sites, and the requisite in design, inspiration board. Their Prototype tool will be of interest to web developers as it can make a prototype website with clickable elements for desktop or mobile use.  

While it offers multiple tools, the other plus is that there is also a free tier, that can handle a single prototype. For more ambitious needs, the Professional plan can take on unlimited prototypes for a charge. 


(Image credit: Sublime Text) 3. Sublime Text

The code editor to make advanced website design easier

Out for Windows, Mac and LinuxAdvanced commandsFree evaluationNo mobile platform support

Sublime Text is a popular code editor that is a useful tool for web design, and is available as a small download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Useful features include the GoTo Anything command for finding a piece of code, the Multiple Selections command that can make changes to recurring sections of code, and Split Editing that can maximize the display of code across a widescreen monitor, or even multiple monitors. 

Sublime Text is free to download and evaluate, and then is available to purchase as an individual license which is not time limited, and then allows the user to install this on all the systems where you are the primary user.   


(Image credit: ZURB) 4. Foundation

A family of front-end frameworks

Frameworks to make design a snapCustomizable building blocksOptimized HTML templatesOpaque pricing

As a general principle, it is often easier to design something once the basics have been laid down. Foundation takes this approach, offering “a family of responsive front-end frameworks,” that can be applied for website design and emails, and each are customizable to get just the right look. From the list of sites that use it, there are some serious heavyweights including Disney, HP and Adobe.  

They offer a series of HTML templates, each optimized for a specific application, such as a blog, or a real estate website. Then, this can be built upon, with ‘Building Blocks’ that get added to the website, including a full screen hero page, a subscription form, a star rating block, and rounded social buttons - the choices are quite expansive and really include just about anything you would see on a web page. A series of webinars, called Foundation Classes is offered to teach new users how to use all of it.

Pricing is opaque, but there is a free demo. Users also indicate that there is a steep learning curve for novice users. 


(Image credit: Google) 5. Chrome DevTools

The popular browser also facilitates web development

You already have itFree costOptimized for only one browser

Chrome continues to be a popular choice for web surfers, and it includes Developer Tools right in the browser, and they are ready for your web development needs. The tools included are for debugging JavaScript, applying styles to HTML elements, messages to indicate how a page is running, and optimization for website speed. 

However, while an invaluable set of tools for web development in the Google Chrome browser, note that these are limited specifically to only this browser rather than other web browsers, even ones that are Chromium based.

There is no charge to use the Chrome Developer Tools, and there is support available via an active DevTools community

(Image credit: Microsoft) 6. Visual Studio Code

A text editor from Microsoft

CustomizableLoads of integrationsSource control tools

Visual Studio Code (or VScode) has become popular among developers – the ones who aren’t put off by the fact that it’s a Microsoft product, anyway. It offers a variety of packages and free extensions that can be downloaded from its marketplace to add additional features – and the code editor itself can be customized. 

While a lot of people may be intimated by the idea of coding if they have no programming experience, at some point in the web design process it can be important to be able to edit code directly. This is particularly helpful if you want to customize code for existing software add-ons in order to get the features you want for your website. Visual Studio Code can help make the process less painful by providing a dedicated platform for coding.

Visual Studio Code sports its own terminal and debugger, supports linting, and has integration with all manner of source control tools. It especially offers good support for Javascript and Python, making it potentially useful not just for coding the frontend of a website but also potentially some backend functions as well.

Best Raspberry Pi distros in 2021

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 05:48

Believe it or not, the Raspberry Pi is almost ten years old. In this relatively short period the Pi has ushered in a new revolution in computing that stretches far beyond its original remit which was to promote basic computer science education in schools.

There have been several Pi developments over the past few years. The Pi Zero was released in 2015, and the Pi and its 'essentials' kit is available for less than  £10 (around $13, AU$18). The Pi Zero W was added to the Zero family in February 2017, featuring a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, again all for just over £15 (around $19, AU$27) with accessories.

The latest addition to the family is the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B that now features a quad-core 1.5Ghz processor. Unlike previous iterations of the single board computer (SBC), there are now three variants of the Raspberry Pi 4; with 2GB, 4GB and 8GB of RAM. This opens up the device to even more use cases that one couldn’t even have imagined when the original device made its debut in 2012. Of course if you just need to use it as a computer, there’s the Raspberry Pi 400, which rolls a 1.8Ghz Raspberry Pi inside a keyboard. 

What makes the Raspberry Pi so successful is that it’s backed by an equally impressive line of software that allows tinkerers to adapt the tiny computer for different tasks. Here we round up some of the best Raspberry Pi distros that allow you to consume the device in various ways.

We've also featured the best Linux training providers and online courses.

(Image credit: Raspberry Pi) 1. Raspberry Pi OS

The official Raspberry Pi distro

Elegant lightweight desktopTons of software on tapConfigurator tool

Raspberry Pi OS (formerly known as Raspbian) is the official distro of the Raspberry Pi. It’s based on the venerable Debian Linux project and uses a customized LXDE-based desktop environment that uses the Openbox window manager to present a desktop that is functional, looks elegant, and doesn’t consume too many resources.

The highlight of the distro is that it ships with several educational apps such as Wolfram Mathematica and a version of Minecraft called Minecraft Pi. However, that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s also a general purpose distro. In fact, the latest version of the release has had several tweaks and tests to ensure it performs flawlessly with video conferencing software such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. 

You can either install the distro using the Raspberry Pi imager app in your existing Windows, Linux, or macOS installation, or flash the distro’s image to an SD card manually. The distro has one of the most active community of users and you’ll have no trouble finding documentation and video tutorials for using the distro.


(Image credit: Volumio) 2. Volumio

Turn your Raspberry Pi into the ultimate jukebox

Can play tracks from external storageHooks up with loads of music servicesSupports DLNA and AirPlay compatible devices

Volumio is designed to play and stream music, and while Volumio will work with any of the Raspberry Pi boards (and several other SBCs as well), it’s an ideal project for the Raspberry Pi Zero. Using Volumio you can setup a headless media server on the Pi that can play music in all the popular formats from a connected USB or a NAS device.

The distro is easy to set up and you can easily use its intuitive interface to manage your music from the web browser. You can also manage your music through the distro’s official apps on iOS and Android, or use any of the MPD-capable apps such as MPDroid. 

Volumio supports the most popular audio file formats out of the box and supports a large number of USB DACs so you can plug in your amplifiers and other equipment to enhance your listening experience. You can also use Volumio as a UPNP/DLNA and AirPlay receiver, and it ships with built-in support for web radio and plugins for streaming music from Spotify and YouTube.


(Image credit: RetroPie) 3. RetroPie

Emulate classic consoles and get nostalgic thrills aplenty

Supports loads of different consolesCompatible with many game controllersHighly configurable

If you're a fan of classic games, grab a copy of the RetroPie distro and transfer it to your SD card. The distro can emulate dozens of classic consoles and home computers such as the Amiga, Amstrad, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Game Boy, PlayStation 1 and more.

RetroPie also supports all sorts of gaming controllers, from cheap no-name USB efforts to controllers for the PS3 and Xbox 360. On first boot, Retropie loads the Emulation Station software which helps you set up the controller and then lets you select a game from any of the supported emulators.

The only caveat is that you must get your own ROMs. There are several that can be legally downloaded for free and you can even create your own from old cartridges using adapters like the Retrode in conjunction with your Mac/PC. The Internet Archive also has many ROMs which are free to download – although be sure to check this is legal in your jurisdiction before going ahead.


(Image credit: LibreELEC) 4. LibreELEC

Ideal option for those who want a Kodi-powered media centre

Specifically designed for KodiPowerful media centre functionalityCan be paired with Kodi remote app

You can use the Raspberry Pi to do all kinds of geeky things. But one of the most interesting uses for the puny little device is that of a home theatre PC. Using LibreELEC you can use the miniscule SBC and the fact that it runs silently, to build your own entertainment center.

One of the best open source apps for turning any computer into a fully functional media center PC is the Kodi media player, formerly known as XBMC. You can easily control Kodi’s 10-foot user interface that’s ideal for connecting to large screen displays and projectors, either from remote control, or from its official apps for Android and iOS. 

While you can install Kodi on top of Raspberry Pi OS, the OpenELEC distro is a streamlined build that boots up in a jiffy, straight into Kodi. Besides playing files from local and network storage devices, the distro can also fetch files from online services such as Youtube, Spotify, Pandora Radio and more.


(Image credit: OpenMediaVault) 5. OpenMediaVault

Specifically designed for NAS usage

Intuitive interfaceRemote management capabilitiesPlenty of advanced features

The OpenMediaVault (OMV) distro is one of the best options for creating your own Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. While OMV used to create specially tuned images for the Raspberry Pi, the distro now instead relies on a script that’ll convert an existing Debian or Debian-based installation such as Raspberry Pi OS Lite, to run OMV. The process is well documented and fairly simple to follow.

Once it's up and running, you can configure and manage the distro remotely using its browser-based admin interface. Any USB devices you attach will be detected automatically and you can also manually add your network storage.

For the best performance make sure you use self-powered removable disks. You can use the disks attached to the OMV NAS individually or assemble them in a RAID array. The distro has many options to manage other advanced aspects of a NAS too.

Best mobile payment apps in 2021

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 05:20

The best mobile payment apps offer a simple way to make and send payments using your smartphone.

Mobile apps providing contactless payments have become common since the introduction of Near Field Communication (NFC), turning individual smartphones into the equivalent of a payment card.

Just as like contactless credit and debit cards, however, mobile payments have their limitations - but they also have their fees, and sometimes these aren't always so clear.

Therefore as mobile apps deliver on the promise of the digital wallet they are changing and expanding the way we pay for things in everyday life. They excel at small transactions, avoiding the need for having cash, and this can apply not just when shopping but also for everyday items. 

However, as well as contactless payments, mobile payment apps can also be great for sending money to people you know, such as friends or family, or paying traders directly.

As contactless payment platforms continue to be rolled out, we'll help you choose the right mobile apps and NFC system that can work for you.

We can also show you the best mobile card payment readers.


(Image credit: Apple) 1. Apple Pay

iOS meets cashless

Works in iMessageNo app to downloadMore secure as integrated 2FAApple only

Apple likes to make the complex simple, and easy for everyone to do, and their mobile payment offering, Apple Pay is true to that philosophy. There is no app to download, and it works on iPhones, and can be used for online purchases on Macs.

The user provides the credit card information to their Apple account. Then the iPhone is used for the purchase through a contactless payment method at a retail establishment, and it is considered more secure as the user has to verify identity via the Touch ID sensor or Face ID. Users can also easily send cash to each other via an iMessage, or by just asking Siri, the digital assistant. When you receive the cash, it goes to your Apple Pay Cash balance, which can be subsequently transferred to your bank account.  

Apple Pay is accepted at about half of US retail locations, including the popular retail establishments of Starbucks, Walgreens, McDonald’s and Best Buy among many others.


(Image credit: Google) 2. Google Pay

The internet giant does payments

Widespread acceptancePreloaded on many Android phonesNeeds different app for person-to-person payments

The Android mobile payment app is Google Pay which comes preloaded on Android smartphones. It is accepted at many retail stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Chick-Fil-A, KFC, Nike and Staples, and also online services such as Airbnb and DoorDash. It claims to be more secure than using a traditional credit card as the card number is not directly sent, and protected via multi-layer security encryption.

Google Pay supports a number of credit cards from a number of the major providers, such as Chase, Citi, Discover and American Express. However, that debit card from your tiny credit union with only three branches is not likely to be on the supported list. However, there is a way to directly connect your PayPal account, and all Visa cards are supported via Visa Checkout.

Also confusing is the fact that to be able to send money directly to another user (person-to-person transaction), you need a different app: Google Pay Send. 


(Image credit: Samsung) 3. Samsung Pay

A useful mobile payment app, limited to Samsung phones

High degree of acceptanceWorks at older magnetic strip terminalsLimited number of supported phones

With their market-leading Galaxy phones now common among users, Samsung also now provides their mobile payment app, Samsung Pay. It is supported on several of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones, such as the Galaxy S9, but not on other manufacturer’s phones, limiting more widespread adoption. The Samsung Pay app connects to credit and debit cards from a number of major banks.

The good thing about Samsung Pay is the near universal acceptance as merchants do not need to opt into the program. Rather, Samsung Pay works with conventional credit card readers, using the newer EMV or NFC tech, or even the older ones using magnetic strip technology – by holding the phone next to it, the credit card information contained in the magnetic strip gets transmitted via a technology called magnetic secure transmission (MST).

With such flexibility in interacting with the credit card reader, Samsung Pay can truly replace that pile of credit cards in your wallet with a phone app. 


(Image credit: PayPal) 4. PayPal

A big-name payment provider, but watch the fees in some cases

Free person-to-person transfersExisting ecosystem of accountsNot widely accepted

It seems like PayPal has been around for eons when it comes to online transactions, and with their mobile app they want to move beyond just providing seller protection for online purchases.

These days, they want to deliver direct person-to-person payments, and furthermore, to get into the retail payment space, although you are still more likely to be able to pay online with this service than at the checkout counter. This is due to the lack of support for NFC with PayPal’s app, and only a handful of retailers jumping on the bandwagon to accept PayPal has hampered efforts to date.  

A downside of PayPal has been the fees, which can be complicated and difficult to understand as there are so many of them. At least for buying a product online or in-person, PayPal does not charge a fee, nor does it charge for a person-to-person transfer (without seller protection), so you can send some cash to help split a check.

However, while transferring from a linked bank account does not incur a charge, with an Instant Transfer from a linked debit card, there is a transfer fee applied.


(Image credit: Venmo) 5. Venmo

The money transferring companion to Facebook

Free for transactions without credit cardConnects to Facebook contactsLimited acceptance at retailers

Venmo works via a mobile app on your smartphone, and signing up can be done with your Facebook account, if you prefer. Next, you link your bank account or credit card. Then you can use the app to send or receive money from other Venmo users, or you can send money via a phone number or email as the app can access your Facebook or phone contacts; and if the recipient is not currently on Venmo they are prompted to create an account.  

Venmo is more useful for online payments, but a few retailers do accept it, including Forever 21 and Foot Locker.

See our solutions for simplifying accounts and taxes with the best accounting software for small business and best tax software.

Millions of Microsoft Teams users are in for a nasty surprise

Techradar - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 04:35

Microsoft has revealed it will soon revoke support for versions of collaboration platform Teams running on older Android builds.

In a post to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, the company set out timelines for the retirement of Microsoft Teams on Android versions 5, 6 and 7.

Support will be pulled for Teams on Android 5 on March 1, 2022, while Android 6 and 7 will retain support until July 1 and September 1, respectively.

After these dates, Microsoft says it will not provide “active development and bug fixes”, but the most recent supported versions will be available via the Play Store for two months after each retirement date has passed.

Microsoft Teams on Android

While the vast majority of Android users are running newer versions of the mobile OS and will be unaffected by the changes, many millions will still be caught up.

According to the latest data from StatCounter, 11.69% of Android users are currently running either Android 5, 6 or 7. Earlier this year, meanwhile, Google announced there are more than three billion active Android devices worldwide.

A crude calculation would suggest that roughly 360 million Android devices will therefore no longer have access to a supported version of the Teams client by the end of next year, when the sunsetting process comes to a close.

Admittedly, a portion of affected users will have upgraded to a newer device by that time and most businesses provide employees with smartphones and tablets running newer versions of Android anyway, for security reasons. However, this still leaves a large pool of potential Teams users without access to the video conferencing and collaboration service on mobile.

Although Microsoft was able to confirm the veracity of the reported timelines, the company declined to provide TechRadar Pro with any specific insight into the motivations behind the decision to pull support from older Android devices.

I’m Not a Pilot, but I Just Flew a Helicopter Over California

NYT Technology - Mon, 10/25/2021 - 04:00
New technology, a few iPads and a quick tutorial can help anyone act like a pilot. Dealing with air traffic control is another matter.