Monday, July 31, 2017

Amazon's Secret 1492 Health Team Sets Sail

A secret Amazon team, dubbed "1492," has been working on a skunkworks project devoted entirely to healthcare, CNBC reported Thursday. The unit has been developing hardware devices and software applications related to electronic medical records, telemedicine and other health-related issues.
The "1492" moniker refers to the year that Christopher Columbus made his voyage to the Americas, but perhaps the Amazon team missed the irony that Columbus actually did not realize he had "discovered" a new continent and thought he was somewhere else.

Friday, July 28, 2017

SparkyLinux 5: Great All-Purpose Distro for Confident Linux Users

When I first reviewed the Game Over edition ofSparkyLinux several years ago, I called it one of the best full-service Linux distros catering to game players you could find. That assessment extends to last month's release of the non-gaming edition of this distro.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cortana Makes Smart Thermostat a Glas Act

Microsoft and Johnson Controls this week unveiled Glas, a smart thermostat that runs on Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core, a special operating system designed specifically for smaller devices. Glas also utilizes Microsoft's smart voice assistant Cortana and its Azure Cloud to help users save energy while monitoring air quality in the home.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is WhatsApp being censored in China?

Users of the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp have reported disruptions in China, prompting censorship claims.
Many reported that voice messaging and pictures wouldn't send without a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent China's censorship filters.
The seemed to be working normally on Wednesday morning, but there have been more interruptions since then.
The disruptions come as China clamps down on online platforms.

What was the disruption?

Users began noticing over the weekend that WhatsApp wouldn't send pictures, voice messages and video, although text messages continued to work normally.
The Chinese government hasn't said if it's blocking WhatsApp.
The messaging service hasn't commented either, nor has it told its users there's a technical fault.
The BBC's Beijing bureau has been testing the app every few hours, and while all functions were working normally without a VPN on Wednesday morning, there have seemingly been more interruptions since then.
In its most recent internet censorship report, the free speech advocacy group Freedom House said WhatsApp was blocked in 12 countries, which is more than any other messaging app.

Why would China block WhatsApp?

China is increasing its censorship of online commentary it perceives as politically sensitive, and it's using increasingly sophisticated methods to achieve that goal.
The government is expected to tighten restrictions ahead of the next communist party congress, where President Xi Jinping is tipped to cement his leadership position.
Recently, it blocked social media posts and even private messages and group chats about the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

How extensive is online censorship in China?

The government already blocks social media sites and apps, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Search engines like Google are blocked, and access to many foreign media outlets, including the BBC, is restricted.
Other encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram, are also blocked in China.
The government has also pledged to clamp down on users who try to get around the restrictions, by tightening regulations on VPNs.

How popular is WhatsApp in China?

WhatsApp has more than a billion monthly active users globally, as does Facebook's native messenger.
In China, though, WhatsApp is far less popular than local competitors like WeChat, which has over half a billion monthly active users.
The Chinese apps are unencrypted and subject to censorship.
The censorship of search engines, social media and other online services has worked to the benefit Chinese businesses like Tencent, Alibaba and WeChat , who have created their own successful brands with limited foreign competition.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Gadget Ogling: Show and Tell, Fidget Folly, and Connected Nightlights

Welcome to the latest edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that's finally recovered from the North American national holiday cookouts to pore over gadget announcements of note.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Filesystem Hierarchy Standard Shows Which Bits Are Boss

If you've ever been curious enough to look through your system's root directory ("/"), you may have found yourself a little overwhelmed. Most of the three-letter directory names don't tell you much about what they do, and if you ever needed to make important modifications, it would be tough to know where to look.
I'd like to take those of you who haven't ventured much into your root directory on a brief tour.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Trustify President Jennifer Mellon: Diversity Is Good Business

Jennifer Mellon is cofounder and president of Trustify.
In this exclusive interview, Mellon discusses with TechNewsWorld the risks and rewards that come with democratizing, diversifying and unplugging.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Google Gives Up Scanning Personal Gmail

Google recently announced the end of its policy of scanning user emails for targeted advertising purposes -- a controversial practice that riled privacy advocates and spurred legal challenges.
Gmail is the world's most widely used email provider, with more than 1.2 billion users.