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Downtown's Withers Collection Museum and Gallery partners with California-based NFT firm for digital art project

Memphis Business Journal - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 17:18
The museum and gallery is working with the 1687 Club to create The Withers Art Project, which combines Ernest Withers’ photos with hand-painted elements and computer technology to produce a collection of NFTs.

How Some Parents Changed Their Politics in the Pandemic

NYT Technology - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 11:22
They were once Democrats and Republicans. But fears for their children in the pandemic transformed their thinking, turning them into single-issue voters for November’s midterms.

This iconic Windows 11 tool isn’t getting ditched… yet

Techradar - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 06:58

The Control Panel has been an integral – and iconic – part of Windows since the very first version of the operating system, which was launched in 1985, but its days are numbered, with Microsoft moving even more of its functionality to the newer Settings app in Windows 11.

However, while an upcoming Windows 11 update looks set to move more of the Control Panel to Settings, according to Windows Latest, Microsoft hasn’t completely ditched it.

The biggest feature to migrate from Control Panel to Settings is the ability to uninstall programs, including older Win32 desktop apps. The Settings window was able to uninstall some apps, but not all of them, so this move is certainly welcome, and means there’s less switching between screens to find what you need.

Analysis: A stay of execution, but should Control Panel be put out of its misery?

Despite launching with every Windows version, the time has come for Microsoft to fully ditch the Control Panel. As you may expect of a feature that’s approaching its fourth decade, the Control Panel feels pretty archaic.

It’s changed little over the years, and while that’s led to it being a comfortingly familiar presence no matter what version of Windows you use, it’s really started to stand out among the more modern apps of Windows 11.

When Microsoft began to seriously overhaul the look of Windows, starting with Windows 8, it bungled the job, somewhat, keeping both older, legacy apps, like Control Panel, while introducing modern apps like Settings, which often did the same job.

This meant that Windows 8, as well as Windows 10 and Windows 11, felt like multiple operating systems bolted together, rather than one unified, modern, OS.

Microsoft is trying to rectify that with Windows 11 and has modernized many of its iconic apps, such as Paint.

It’s also started to migrate Control Panel features to Settings, with an aim of ditching Control Panel completely at some point. While this is a wise move, it still feels like Microsoft is moving too slowly, as users may visit the Settings app, only to find they actually need to go to Control Panel for the setting they want.

This was particularly annoying when uninstalling applications, as the Settings app would only uninstall certain apps, and you’d have to use Control Panel for the others.

Unsurprisingly, this caused a lot of confusion and frustration, and while we can understand Microsoft wanting to slowly move over to Settings, it would be far better for users to rip off the bandage, and just move everything to Settings at once, and kill off Control Panel once and for all.

Of course, we’ll be sad to see Control Panel disappear, but it wouldn’t just make Windows 11 easier to use, it’d save the iconic feature from a long, drawn-out death of a thousand cuts.

After Pixar Ouster, John Lasseter Returns With Apple and ‘Luck’

NYT Technology - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 04:00
John Lasseter was toppled five years ago by allegations about his workplace behavior. He’s back with an animated film and a studio that could be Pixar 2.0.

A Cyberattack Illuminates the Shaky State of Student Privacy

NYT Technology - Sun, 07/31/2022 - 04:00
At a moment when education technology firms are stockpiling sensitive information on millions of school children, safeguards for student data have broken down.

Climate Bill ‘Transformative’ for Auto and Energy Industries

NYT Technology - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 16:37
The Senate’s proposal aims to accelerate electric car sales and promote domestic battery manufacturing at China’s expense.

You're finally getting the Google Play Store and apps you deserve

Techradar - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 14:32

A new day is coming for your Android apps. Google is implementing new Play Store rules for developers as it attempts to stamp out intrusive ads, impersonators, and VPNService misuse.

The big changes will roll out incrementally with the first rule going into effect on August 31 and will be complete on July 31, 2023.  Reading through the rules, it appears that some developers on the Play Store were getting away with uncouth practices, but Google is giving them ample time to clean up their act.  The Play Store is also clarifying the language on several policies as it cracks down on misinformation.

New rules

Starting August 31, apps will no longer be able to impersonate another developer/company nor can an app falsely imply that it's related to something else. Google gives the example of the RSS News Aggregator app created by Google Developer. This is an impersonator because first-party apps on the Play Store are listed under Google LLC. The developers were trying to use Google's name to sell their product. 

Google also points to the YouTube Aggregator app using the official YouTube logo. This gives a false impression that YouTube Aggregator is an official app when it isn’t. Truth be told, it’s surprising that this file advertisement rule wasn’t implemented long ago, but better late than never.

Effective September 30, “full-screen interstitial ads” can no longer appear randomly. Ads will still be allowed; they just can’t pop up in the middle of a game or as you’re scrolling through a product description. And whenever full-screen ads do appear, they must be closeable after 15 seconds. Speaking from personal experience, this is a great change because nothing kills a game faster than an annoying 30-second ad that you can’t skip. Also on September 30, apps must make it clear how to manage or cancel a subscription service. Developers will no longer be able to hide the cancellation process in a labyrinth of menus.

VPN clarity

Google is also tightening the rules on apps that use a VPN (virtual private network) as its core function. Apparently, developers were misusing Google’s VPNService to collect user data or manipulate traffic via ads. Starting November 1, VPNService can only be used for, among other things, parental control, web browsing, and device security apps.

And on July 31, 2023, Google will be restricting the Exact Alarm Permission so it can only be used on alarm and calendar apps. According to Mishaal Rahman, Senior Technical Editor for Esper, this restriction will also improve battery life. He explains that if too many apps schedule alarms at different times, it can quickly drain the phone's battery. By prioritizing apps where the main function is to be an alarm, it will solve this conflict.

Effective immediately

Google has also updated many different policies to combat misinformation and make sure things stay appropriate for an app's userbase. There are so many changes, in fact, that we can't cover everything, so here are some of the more important ones.

Descriptions, screenshots, and titles must accurately reflect what the app does. For example, developers won’t be able to promote their puzzle game app with action-oriented images to make it seem more exciting. Ads now need to be appropriate to the app’s rating. Ads for a mature app can’t be placed into a video game rated for teenagers. Harmful medical misinformation will be more strictly enforced, as well. This includes misleading vaccine claims and the selling of prescription drugs without a prescription.

Again, it’s surprising these changes weren’t implemented earlier but cleaning up the Play Store is always a win in our books.

While we’re on the topic of the Google Play Store, the platform just hit its 10th anniversary recently and TechRadar’s Philip Berne made a list of the 10 apps that he stuck with all these years.

Poplar Plaza plugs in Lawson brothers' third Asurion location

Memphis Business Journal - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 14:23
The motto for Asurion is, "If it has a power button, we can fix it." The bulk of its repairs are phones, tablets, and computers.

Does Twitch Fame Have to Come With a Stalker?

NYT Technology - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 12:10
Stars on Twitch, the video game streaming platform, invite viewers into their homes virtually. What happens when one shows up in person?

YouTube is taking a sneaky shortcut to compete with TikTok

Techradar - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 11:27

Content creation platforms the world over can’t seem to resist TikTok’s short-form video style, and now YouTube is doubling its efforts to compete with the social media behemoth by implementing a new TikTok-style creator tool. 

As part of its latest app update on iOS and Android devices, YouTube has launched a feature that allows creators to instantaneously convert up to 60 seconds' worth of previously uploaded long-form videos into Shorts. 

The tool utilizes the platform’s existing editing suite – text, timeline editor, filters, etc. – and YouTube says that, if the selected footage is less than 60 seconds, creators can shoot additional video using the Shorts camera or upload more footage from their gallery.

Any Shorts created using old videos will, of course, link back to the original YouTube upload, and only the creators themselves can import and/or tamper with their existing content library.

YouTube feature

(Image credit: YouTube / Google)

On the surface, the feature is a creator-led innovation, one that gives creators another avenue through which to attract potential subscribers to their long-form content (if, for instance, a user is interested in a short-form version of a longer video, they may be inclined to click through and continue watching). 

But this update also exposes YouTube’s desperation to ramp up its short-form library in a bid to better compete with the likes of TikTok and Instagram. 

Clearly, not enough creators are uploading straight-to-Shorts content, and given the backlash over YouTube’s automatic conversion of some vertical videos into Shorts in recent months, the company is now banking on the efficacy of giving users the autonomy to make that choice for themselves. 

It’s more organic – albeit encouraged – Shorts growth, and YouTube users should expect to be greeted with a whole lot more vertical video content in the coming months.

For more YouTube news, check out our report on the YouTube scam that's abusing Google's advertising system, as well as our take on the platform's useful new content correction tool

Microsoft 365 users have a new reason to choose Edge over Google Chrome

Techradar - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 11:02

Microsoft is preparing an update for its web browser Edge that will help develop new synergies across its product suite.

As per new entries in the Microsoft 365 product roadmap, users of the productivity suite will soon benefit from the ability to access both their Outlook email inbox and Office documents via a dedicated sidebar within Edge.

Due to roll out next month, the update is designed to limit the need for workers to switch continuously between windows when performing tasks, with all the necessary tools housed within the browser instead.

Microsoft Edge: the browser for business?

Although Microsoft Edge enjoyed a period of rapid growth after its relaunch back in 2020, the browser continues to lag behind Chrome and Safari, both of which enjoy a far greater market share, the latest figures show.

Despite a consistent stream of feature updates, renewed marketing efforts and the integration of Edge into the company’s new Windows 11 operating system, Microsoft has struggled to move the needle in any significant way.

The software giant has also scored a number of own goals that are unlikely to have ingratiated Microsoft Edge with potential new users.

For instance, Microsoft was recently forced to walk back a policy that added an unreasonable amount of friction to the process of changing the default browser in Windows 11 after users made their displeasure known.

Microsoft also came under fire for efforts to block links opened via its own services (e.g. Windows 11 widgets, the Start Menu etc.) from launching in any other browser but Edge, another tactic that drew criticism from the community.

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But the upcoming update hints at a change in approach; the company is now seeking to lean on the popularity of services like Outlook and other elements of the Microsoft 365 suite to incentivize a switch to Edge, a subtler tactic less likely to draw the ire of the community.

Microsoft has also targeted improvements from a performance and security perspective, which business users in particular are bound to appreciate. In recent months, for example, the company has bolstered the in-built password manager, rolled out an integrated VPN service and deployed new tricks to improve browsing speeds.

If Microsoft Edge is to compete head-to-head with the market leaders, the team will need to stake a claim to a particular niche or use case. In the business market, perhaps it has found one.

Windows 11 update makes the taskbar actually useful again

Techradar - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 06:57

Microsoft has begun rolling out a slew of new user interface updates for Windows Insiders – and one feature will be particularly useful for those with maxed-out taskbars. 

As part of Windows 11 build 22622.440, Microsoft is reintroducing taskbar overflow, a feature that adds a neat overflow section for applications that don’t fit in an otherwise chock-full taskbar. The taskbar will automatically transition into this new overflow state when it reaches maximum capacity, and the overflow area itself will be accessible via its own taskbar button (made up of three dots).

Microsoft has said that the feature is beginning to roll out to certain beta users now, though it plans to “monitor feedback and see how [taskbar overflow] lands before pushing it out to everyone” (i.e. all beta users). 

Windows 11 taskbar overflow

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Build 22622.440 will also add more dynamism to the widgets button, with sports and finance news set to appear alongside existing weather updates, while the “open with” menu has earned itself a refresh, too (one which supports both light and dark themes). Check out the latter in action below:

Windows update

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Elsewhere in the new build, Settings will now support the management of apps that were previously only customizable through the Control Panel. Microsoft has said that this includes the uninstallation of apps which have inter-dependencies (for instance, gaming apps running on Steam). 

Also among the updates are a host of fixes to File Explorer and a patch to stop crashes when docking and undocking additional monitors. For the full list of new features, updates and fixes – many of which are expected to roll out to Windows 11 proper later this year – head over to Microsoft’s latest blog post

For more on Windows 11, check out our thoughts an a recent Windows 11 update that breaks as much as it fixes, and another that we think is absolutely essential for PC gamers.

Recreation.gov, the National Park Booking App, Leaves Users Feeling Lost in the Woods

NYT Technology - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 04:00
Little availability for campsites. Confusing booking windows. Traveler and travel industry frustration is growing with Recreation.gov, the online portal to book accommodations and access on federal lands.

Dial-up is dead, but Apple just made it deader - and we still miss it

Techradar - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 01:00

The news that Apple's macOS Ventura would cease offering guidance on how to set up your dial-up modem waylaid me with an intense wave of nostalgia that rocketed my mind back 32 years to the early days of the Internet, email, and that oh-so-classic handshake sound.

Dial-up, the phone-line-based communications protocol for connecting computers to distant computers, and the early Internet, is not dead in the clinical sense. You can still use it to connect your computer to the Web through a Mac or Windows PC. You just need a functioning dial-up modem  (widely available on eBay), a phone line port, the physical phone line cable and RJ35 connector, and a system on the other end to dial into.

With the rise of, first, DSL, then ubiquitous broadband Internet (cable and fiber) delivered direct to our homes and offices (and, obviously, Wi-Fi), no one does that anymore, right?

When I ran a poll on Twitter asking if anyone still uses dial-up, 88% said no, 9% answered "What's dial-up?" and 3% said yes.

Do you still use dial-up?July 28, 2022

See more

Three percent...said yes.

When I asked them to explain, no one gave a straight answer, which leads me to believe they were yanking my chain. That's fine, they can't stop me from waxing nostalgic about a very specific time in the dawn of computers and connectivity.

1989: It was my first major magazine job and when my boss and mentor fell ill and had to stay at home to recover, we all assumed that someone else would pick up his considerable workload or maybe we'd put it on hold.

Tom, that was his name, had other ideas. We were an all Macintosh SE/30 house and while none of them had built-in dial-up modems, we did have a handful 300 baud (that was the speed back then) models lying around that were mostly unused. The big idea was for Tom to take home a modem and his computer (thank goodness those early Macs had handles) and dial into our email system and servers. 

While savvy enough to know that this was the wave of the future (at least the current wave), Tom knew nothing about technology. It fell to me, the guy who figured out how to get files from Louts 1-2-3 on a PC onto the Mac, to help Tom set it all up.

It was not easy. Tom had one phone line, which meant I could only talk him through the setup while he had the modem disconnected from his phone line. I don't think he had a splitter.

In any case, we did get it set up on his and my side. This was, to my recollection, the first time I heard the classic handshake sound.

We're so spoiled by our instantaneous connections to everyone and everything on the Internet. Imagine if we had to wait 20 seconds or so for our iPhones or Samsung Galaxy handsets to negotiate an Internet connection as we listened to them make their own handshake sound. Come to think of it, that would be kind of cool (annoying, slow, but also fun).

That sound, by the way, was a symphony of operations.

As outlined by Popular Mechanics earlier this year, each, screech, whistle, toodle, and crack had a purpose. There's the hello part, negotiation, sound check, modulation, and more. I was particularly intrigued by the portion that told your phone line to turn off echo suppression and allow for full-duplex communications. Without the former,  your phone line would deliver your voice back through the listener's handset and to your ears in a continuous echoey loop. Computer modems, however, could handle that open communication (full-duplex).

Dial-up was a lifesaver in those early days, connecting us in ways that were virtually impossible before. We had a century of phone calls behind us before we could share data as easily. There was, for more than a decade, nothing more comforting than the sound of your modem successfully connecting. In the mid-90s, it preceded AOL's "You Got Mail." These were the sounds of our early Internet and the kindling of our ultimately hyper-connected lives.

Today, we've dispensed with all those pleasantries. There's no hardware to set up. No modems to plug in, lines to run, or requests for everyone else to get off the line. There's no pause or waiting. We're always connected.

Apple is right to sunset the setup support. It and Microsoft will surely support dial-up technologies on their respective platforms for as long as it makes sense, but I doubt that will be for much longer. And then dial-up will really, surely, and truly be dead.

Spotify and Apple Music could face major competition...from TikTok?

Techradar - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 00:00

TikTok may be working on a rival to Spotify and Apple Music, based on a new trademark application its parent company ByteDance just filed in the US.

The trademark is for a service called TikTok Music. Not only does the name imply that it’ll be a rival to the world’s best music streaming services, but the trademark application spells it out for us. ByteDance calls TikTok Music a smartphone and computer application that “enables users to purchase, play, share [and] download music” as well as offering the ability to listen to non-downloadable (read: streamed) audio and video.

That’s a Spotify and Apple Music clone description if we ever heard one.

ByteDance has also described the service as having advertising services, perhaps implying that there will be an ad-supported option like Spotify’s free tier. However, we’ll have to wait and see what it announces, if it launches the service at all.

While it’s more than likely that we’ll see TikTok Music launch soon, we can’t take this trademark as a guarantee. Not only might ByteDance decide to scrap its plans for the service, but it could also face some problems from various governments. 

Lawmakers in the US and UK have already expressed concerns about TikTok and its connections to China. If ByteDance can’t alleviate these worries then we could see it lose its ability to operate in certain parts of the world. 

If that happens we can say bye-bye to TikTok and any potential expansion plans like TikTok Music.

TikTok

Will TikTok revolutionize the music industry a second time? (Image credit: Shutterstock) TikTok Music could change the game, again

Assuming there are no bumps in the road though, TikTok Music sounds like a pretty logical next step for the social media company. TikTok is one of the best ways to discover new music, thanks to dance and meme trends hijacking snippets of songs and making them go viral.

Our own Daryl Baxter even used the app to rework his wedding playlist.

With that in mind, TikTok Music would likely make finding the full versions of catchy tracks way easier – especially if you’re looking for a cover or a remix rather than an original song. Rather than having to scroll through track lists on rival services, we could see users being able to press a couple of buttons on TikTok and instantly being sent to the full track on TikTok Music.

If we’re lucky, we might even see some of TikTok’s creativity brought into TikTok Music. The trademark discusses giving users the ability to edit video and audio – perhaps letting people create and share their own remixes and music videos.

We’ll have to wait and see what unfolds over the coming weeks and months but Apple and Spotify will want to watch out. TikTok is already taking over Google Maps as the best way to discover new places to visit, these other apps could soon find their user base snapped up by the app, as well.

(via Business Insider)

The Word of the Year Is ‘Uncertainty’

NYT Technology - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 21:53
Did tech win the pandemic or not? We likely won’t be able to tell for a while.

Big Tech Is Proving Resilient as the Economy Cools

NYT Technology - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 20:35
Tech companies are slowing their frenetic hiring, but a combination of dominance and diversity is turning out to be — yet again — an overwhelming asset.

As Congress Debated Landmark China Bill, Beijing Surged Ahead

NYT Technology - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 20:01
Experts are still assessing how China apparently leapfrogged ahead in its effort to manufacture a semiconductor that rivals those made in Taiwan, which supplies both China and the West.

Instagram rolls back some product changes after user backlash.

NYT Technology - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 16:03
Celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian were among the upset users who said the updates made the app too much like TikTok.

The new-look Gmail had landed, with one important addition

Techradar - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 16:01

Google has announced it will begin to push its redesigned Gmail interface to all account holders.

Since the initial rollout earlier this year, the new email interface has been available to a portion of Gmail users on an opt-in basis. But now, the transition will take place automatically for those with Google Chat enabled, and can be triggered via the Settings menu by all other users.

The update delivers refreshed iconography, additional design elements and new color schemes. But most importantly, it brings to the fore the synergies between Gmail and Google’s other productivity and collaboration apps.

The new Gmail

Announced in early February, the new Gmail interface is designed to bring all Google’s communications services into one place, thereby minimizing the need to hop between multiple tabs when collaborating with clients and colleagues.

Under the new system, a panel on the left side of the email client allows users to navigate quickly between Gmail, Chat, Spaces and Meet. Depending on the services available under their respective Google Workspace plans, users can select which of these apps they would like to appear.

“When enabled, the new navigation menu allows you to easily switch between your inbox, important conversations, and join meetings without having to switch between tabs or open a new window,” explained Google.

“We hope this new experience makes it easier for you to stay on top of what’s important and get work done faster in a single, focused location.”

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The company is also eager to shout about the Material 3 design language that underpins the new interface, which is said to deliver a “fresh look and feel” across the various interlinked applications. The aesthetic is characterized by a soft color palette and rounded edges, in line with the direction Google has taken the Android UI.

All in all, as much as some will want to cling on to the classic Gmail design (which remains an option), the new interface represents an upgrade for most users and the modest changes to core inbox functionality will mean the transition should be relatively pain free.

“Gmail has changed a lot over the past 18 years, and since the beginning, we’ve aspired to help billions of people around the world stay connected and get things done,” added Google. “Now you can optimize Gmail for how you like to stay connected.”

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