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Microsoft

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: the Best New Features (theverge.com) 165

A year after the release of Windows 10, Microsoft is gearing up for Anniversary Update, the first major update to the company's desktop operating system. Ahead of the public release of Anniversary Update on August 2, Microsoft provided media outlets with the Anniversary Update, and their first impressions and reviews are out. The Verge has listed the big changes Windows 10 Anniversary ships with. From the article: Windows Ink: Windows Ink is without a doubt the best part of the Anniversary Update. It's essentially a central location to find built-in or third-party apps that work with your stylus. You can use the new sticky notes to note down reminders, and they'll even transform into true reminders as Cortana understands what you write.
Microsoft Edge extensions: If you're a fan of Chrome extensions, then you'll be glad to hear that they're heading to Microsoft's Edge browser. The Anniversary Update brings support for extensions, and it's now up to third-party developers to fill the Windows Store with their add-ons.
Cortana improvements: Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, debuted on Windows 10 last year, and the software maker is bringing it to the lock screen with the Anniversary Update. You'll be able to ask it to make a note, play music, set a reminder, and lots more without ever logging in. Cortana is also getting a little more intelligent, with the ability to schedule appointments in Outlook or options to send friends a document you were working on a week ago.
Dark theme and UI tweaks: You can switch on what I call even darker mode in settings, and it will switch built-in apps that typically use a white background over to black.
Other improvements include things like Windows 10's ability to set your time zone automatically, and opening up of Windows Hello, the biometric feature to apps and websites. Additionally, the Xbox One is getting Windows apps. The Verge adds, "It feels like a promise that was made years ago, but it's finally coming true with the Anniversary Update. As Windows 10 now powers the Xbox One, Microsoft will start rolling out an update to its console to provide support for Cortana on Xbox One and the new universal apps." Microsoft is also adding Bash, the Linux command line to Windows with the new update. It's an optional feature and users will need to enable it to use it. Users will also be able to "project to PC," a feature that will allow one to easily find a PC to project to from a phone or another PC. There's also a new Skype app, and syncing of notifications between PC and phone is getting better.
Going by the reviews, it appears Windows 10 Anniversary Update is substantially more stable, and has interesting new features. You can read the first impressions of it on ZDNet, and review on PCWorld.
Chrome

Google Gets Rid Of App Launcher In Chrome 52, Browser's Mac Client Gets Material Design (9to5mac.com) 67

Google has finally removed App Launcher that it bundles with the Chrome browser for Windows and Mac with the release of Chrome v52. The Mac client, in addition, now embraces Google's Material Design approach, and comes with new icons and flatter and transparent interface. 9to5Mac documents more changes on Chrome for Mac and Windows: Besides a new flatter, sharper, and transparent design, Material is also a "huge engineering feat," especially for Chrome OS and Windows. Chrome is "now rendered fully programmatically including iconography, effectively removing the ~1200 png assets we were maintaining before," Google noted. "It also allows us to deliver a better rendering for a wide range of PPI configuration."
Chrome

Safari Browser May Soon Be Just As Fast As Chrome With WebP Integration (thenextweb.com) 105

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: The Safari browser included in Apple's iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software is testing WebP, technology from Google that allows developers to create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. Basically, it's a way for webpages to load more quickly. The Next Web reports: "WebP was built into Chrome back at build 32 (2013!), so it's not unproven. It's also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings, and is in use across many Google properties, including YouTube." Microsoft is one of the only major players to not use WebP, according to CNET. It's not included in Internet Explorer and the company has "no plans" to integrate it into Edge. Even though iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are in beta, it's promising that we will see WebP make its debut in Safari latest this year. "It's hard to imagine Apple turning away tried and true technology that's found in a more popular browser -- one that's favored by many over Safari due to its speed, where WebP plays a huge part," reports The Next Web. "Safari is currently the second most popular browser to Chrome." What's also interesting is how WebP isn't mentioned at all in the logs for Apple's Safari Technology Preview.
Windows

Windows 10 Warns Chrome and Firefox Users About Battery Drain, Recommends Switching To Edge (venturebeat.com) 373

A month after Microsoft claimed that its Edge web browser is more power efficient than Google Chrome and Firefox, the company is now warning Windows 10 users about the same. VentureBeat reports: Microsoft has turned on a new set of Windows Tips that warn Windows 10 users that Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is draining their laptop's battery. The solution, according to the notification, is to use Microsoft Edge.In a statement to the publication, the company said: "These Windows Tips notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them enhance their Windows 10 experience, including information that can help users extend battery life. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice."
Chrome

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Computer Set-Up Look Like? 325

I thought it'd be fun to ask Slashdot readers one of the same questions we asked Larry Wall: What's your computer set-up look like? Slashdot reader LichtSpektren had asked: Can you give us a glimpse into what your main work computer looks like? What's the hardware and OS, your preferred editor and browser, and any crucial software you want to give a shout-out to?
Larry Wall is running Linux Mint (Cinnamon edition), and he surfs the web with Firefox (and Chrome on his phone) -- "but I'm not a browser wonk. Maybe I'll have more opinions on that after our JS backend is done for Perl 6..." And for a text editor, he's currently ensconced in the vi/vim camp, though "I've used lots of them, so I have no strong religious feelings."

So leave your answers in the comments. What's your OS, hardware, preferred editor, browser, "and any crucial software you want to give a shout-out to?" What does your computer set-up look like?
Android

Intel ChromeBooks Can Now Run Wine and Steam (codeweavers.com) 45

"With Google Play and Android app support hitting Chromebooks, it's now possible to run Windows applications/games on Chromebooks via CrossOver For Android," reports Phoronix. Slashdot reader grungy writes: The first Intel ChromeBooks have access to the Play Store now, and the Android version of Wine apparently runs on them... Pictures show the Steam client running, and a clip of a D3D game. Of course, the Play Store is only available on the ChromeOS developer channel so far, but that should change later this year.
CrossOver for Android also hasn't been officially released, but Thursday CodeWeavers' president blogged excitedly that "we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...EVER!!!"
Media

Microsoft: Only Microsoft Edge Will Play Netflix Content At 1080p On Your PC (pcworld.com) 237

An anonymous reader writes from a report via PCWorld: Microsoft made the bold claim on Wednesday that its Edge browser was the only browser of the big four browsers -- Chrome, Firefox, and Opera -- to play Netflix content at a 1080p resolution. PCWorld tested the four browsers and found this claim to be valid. The other three browsers capped out at a 720p resolution. Microsoft has been trying to boost Edge's reputation. Microsoft recently claimed that its Edge browser is more power-efficient than Chrome. (Opera later denied those claims.) This is the latest bold claim to come from Microsoft in regard to its Edge browser. Microsoft has even publicized a Netflix support document to show that Netflix streams at 1080p on Internet Explorer and Edge, and 720p on the other browsers. PCWorld used the "secret Netflix menus" that were first unearthed by Reddit users (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+D) to display the resolution and bitrate and confirm that Microsoft's claims are true. "In a blog post, Microsoft claimed Microsoft Edge was built to take advantage of platform features in Windows 10, including the PlayReady Content Protection and the media engine's Protected Media Path," reports PCWorld. "The company said it is working with the Open Media Alliance to develop next-generation media formats, codecs, and other technologies for UltraHD video, and with chipset companies to develop Enhanced Content Protection that moves the protected media path into peripheral hardware for an even higher level of security, and one that could be used to protect 4K media."
Microsoft

Microsoft Finally Releases New Skype App For Linux (skype.com) 164

Four months after Linux users complained about issues with Skype app -- an update in March apparently broke the instant message and video calling app -- Microsoft announced a few minutes ago the launch of the Alpha version of a new Skype app for Linux, a move that "reaffirms the company's commitment to the Linux community." The blog post adds that there will be a two-hour Q&A session todat at 7AM PDT between Linux users and engineering team to welcome the new app. The alpha version uses the "latest, fastest and most responsive Skype UI." The company also says that users on Skype for Linux 4.3.37 will no longer be able to use the app to make or receive any calls -- so you really need to use this new app. In the blog post, Microsoft also adds that anyone with a Chromebook and Chrome for Linux can now visit web.skype.com to make one-to-one and group voice calls on top of text messaging feature. It is also an alpha version of Skype -- and is built on top of WebRTC standard.
Chrome

Do We Need A Better Private Browsing Mode? (networkworld.com) 126

Network World's Alan Zeichi recently argued "We need a better Private Browsing mode." Slashdot reader Miche67 writes: As this writer says, Chrome's Incognito Mode "doesn't offer strong protection at all." [Incognito mode "only prevents Chrome from saving your site visit activity. It won't stop other sources from seeing your browsing activity."] And Firefox's Private Browsing with Tracking Protection -- while stronger than Chrome -- is an all-or-nothing option. "You can't turn it off for sites you trust, but have it otherwise enabled by default."
The submission ends, "Every single link to non-trusted websites should open, by default, in a Private/Incognito window. C'mon, browser makers, get this done." This raises two questions. How do Slashdot's readers browse? And do you think we need a better private mode for web browsing?
Google

Google Is Working To Safeguard Chrome From Quantum Computers (theverge.com) 65

Quantum computing could potentially someday be used to retroactively break any communications that were encrypted with today's standard encryption algorithms. Google realizes this, and hence, is ensuring that it doesn't happen. Today, it announced that it has begun to deploy a new type of cryptography called the New Hope algorithm in its Chrome Canary browser that is designed to prevent such decryption attacks. From a report on The Verge: Although quantum computers of this variety are only small and experimental at this stage, Google is taking precautions for the worst case scenario. "While they will, no doubt, be of huge benefit in some areas of study, some of the problems that they [quantum computers] are effective at solving are the ones that we use to secure digital communications," writes Matt Braithwaite, a Google software engineer, in a blog post. "Specifically, if large quantum computers can be built then they may be able to break the asymmetric cryptographic primitives that are currently used in TLS, the security protocol behind HTTPS." In other words, quantum computers could undermine the security of the entire internet. Quantum computers promise computational power far exceeding today's standards by taking advantage of the underpinning physics discipline. So the presence of a hypothetical future quantum computer, Braithwaite adds, puts at risk any and all encrypted internet communication past or present. It's unclear how secure New Hope (PDF) will prove to be for Chrome, and Braithwaite admits it could be less secure than its existing encryption. But Google says New Hope -- developed by researchers Erdem Alkim, Leo Ducas, Thomas Poppelmann and Peter Schwabe -- was the most promising of all post-quantum key-exchange software it looked into last year.
Chrome

Google Cast Is Now Baked Into Chrome, No Extension Needed (trustedreviews.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes: The Google Chrome 51 browser now includes a built-in 'Cast' option within the drop-down settings menu, which can also be accessed from right clicking in a tab. This will then cast the current tab to the appropriate TV or monitor. Previously, if you wanted to cast content from your computer to your Chromecast-equipped display, you needed to download a Chrome extension. Along with the new changes, Google has removed the ability to tweak settings for resolution, bitrate, and quality when casting a tab, so Chrome itself will now control such parameters automatically. Chrome 51 is now available as a stable version, and the Cast option should be rolling out to users now. This casting ability will also be baked into Chrome OS. The report points out several new related features coming in Chrome 52, such as the ability to cast to Hangouts. You will be able to push Chrome tabs to your contacts within an open video Hangout, which may be useful for remote meetings. In addition, the Cast to Hangouts feature will also retrieve your calendar information to find such scheduled Hangout meetings to make quick sharing easier.
Stats

Linux Grabs More Than 2% of Desktop Market Share (w3counter.com) 249

LichtSpektren writes: W3Counter's stats for June 2016 are in, and Linux desktop accounts for 2.48% of all web visits from tracked websites... (Android is counted separately from "Linux desktop.")
Meanwhile, NetMarketShare shows Linux with a 2.02% share of the desktop market. And StatCounter shows a more detailed breakdown of the top 7 operating systems, with Windows 7 at 42.02%, Windows 10 at 21.88%, OSX at 9.94%, Windows 8.1 at 8.66%, Windows XP at 6.5%, and another 4.06% for "Unknown" (which is roughly tied with "Other") -- beating Windows 8.0 at 3.52%. In May they also reported another thought-provoking statistic: that Firefox's browser usage had surpassed that of IE and Edge combined for the first time.
Chrome

Google Is Adding a VR Shell To Chrome To Let You Browse the Entire Web In VR (roadtovr.com) 59

An anonymous reader writes: While it's possible to create and view specially built virtual reality 'WebVR' websites through today's browsers, traversing the web in VR means taking your VR headset on and off as you come across VR websites and non-VR websites. Google is working to fix this by adding a 'VR Shell' to the Chrome browser that will render non-VR websites in a virtual environment, and allow seamless transitioning from them to WebVR sites. Recent developer builds of Chrome on Android reveal both the WebVR API and VR Shell directly integrated into the browser. The company is also working on adding support for headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on desktop.
Advertising

Google's My Activity Reveals How Much It Knows About You (theguardian.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: Google has released a new section to Google's account settings, called My Activity, which lets users review everything that Google has tracked about their online behavior -- search, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and every other Google service. Best of all, users can edit or delete their tracked behaviors. In addition, the My Activity tools come with new ad preferences. Google is now offering to use its behavioral information to tailer ads shown across the wider non-Google internet and Google's search pages, which until now was purely done through the use of cookies. The difference between Google and other companies that offer ads like Facebook is that Google is making this interest-based advertising extension optional, or opt-in, not opt-out. There are two separate behavioral advertising settings for users to switch on or off: signed in ads and signed out ads. Signed in ads are those on Google services, and signed out ads are those served by Google on third-party sites. However, if you're conscious about your privacy, you'll probably want to stay opted out.
Android

Amazon Prime Will Knock $50 Off an Android Phone If You Watch Amazon's Lock-Screen Ads (recode.net) 153

It's no secret that Amazon's Fire Phone tanked on the market. But while the e-commerce giant is keeping a distance from smartphone manufacturing business for some time, it is not ignoring the platform. The company is now willing to offer its Prime members a $50 discount on two unlocked phone models should they agree to see ads on the lock-screen of their smartphone. Recode reports:Unlike the Fire Phone, which used Amazon services in place of Google, these two phones (the fourth-generation Moto G and Blu R1 HD) will include all the standard Google apps (Play Store, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, etc.) along with Amazon apps for shopping, watching video and playing music. With the discount, the Blu phone will sell for just $49, while the price of the Moto G drops to $149. The move is clearly a modest one but could at some point become more significant, particularly if Amazon is willing to strike deals with other hardware makers to include its apps and services.The bigger news is Amazon finding its way into Google Mobile Services-powered Android smartphones. Most of the Amazon-branded devices don't have Google Mobile Services (Google Play, Google Play Services, Gmail etc).
Google

HP Adds a Touchscreen To Its 11-inch Chromebook Lineup 18

An anonymous reader shares a report by The Verge:HP today announced the Chromebook 11 G5, the first of the company's Chrome OS laptops in the 11-inch range to include a touchscreen display. The new Chromebook starts at $189 and will go on sale through HP's channel partners in July. It will be more widely available in stores this October. The base model of the Chromebook 11 G5 has a 11.6-inch screen with a sub-HD display (there will be an option for an HD IPS touchscreen panel with Gorilla Glass), weighs 2.51 pounds, and comes with a 1.6gHz Intel Celeron N3060 -- a somewhat common processor for low- to mid-range Chromebooks. HP claims it will be powerful enough to handle video calls and playback, and that it "speeds through spreadsheets," which is the most amazingly modest goal I can imagine for a Chromebook. Of course that limited performance, coupled with Chrome OS's limited feature set, gives the Chromebook 11 G5 up to 11 solid hours of battery life, according to HP.
Chrome

Google Ponders About a Chromebook Pro (venturebeat.com) 138

Google is currently surveying people about what a Chromebook Pro should be like. VentureBeat's report cites two people who recently shared the development on a forum. One user was asked the question, "How would you think a Chromebook Pro is different than a Chromebook?" whereas the other user was asked, "what a Chromebook Pro should be like in [his/her] opinion and what type of people would want to use it." From the report:The word "Pro" would imply a high-end laptop running Chrome OS, just like, say, the MacBook Pro or the Surface Pro 4. But there are many other companies -- Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung, among others -- that make Chromebooks, along with Google. It isn't clear from these survey questions if Google is thinking about making a Chromebook Pro itself, just as it has made high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops, or if Google is just wondering how consumers would perceive a Chromebook Pro made by a third party. Meanwhile, Google last month published a job posting entitled "Quality Engineer, Chromebook Pixel," suggesting that a third generation of that device could be on the way.Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. They outsold Mac for the first time in the United States earlier this year. The majority of the Chromebooks available today, however, pack in entry-level specifications, giving users very limited choice. Though we have seen devices like Chromebook Pixel, a range of high-end Chromebooks could entice even more customers.
Television

Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward? (washingtonpost.com) 296

The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article: You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote.

According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."

Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?
Ubuntu

Ubuntu-Based Peppermint 7 Released (peppermintos.com) 74

Softpedia reports on the newest version of Peppermint OS, "a lightweight, stable, elegant, and fast computer operating system based on GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes their report: It's a bit earlier than expected, but the Peppermint OS 7 GNU/Linux distribution has been officially unveiled...based on the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system [with] a lot of packages from the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS distro, which means that it will also be a long-term support release.... "Along with the shift to the 16.04 (Xenial) code base, Peppermint 7 continues our policy of choosing the best components from other desktop environments, wherever that may be, and integrating them into a cohesive whole with our own software," reads today's announcement.
"Team Peppermint" says they're switching to Firefox as their default browser for site-specific browser functionality (similar to Chrome's -app mode) after Google dropped their 32-bit version of Chrome and moved to PPAPI plugins "which effectively ends Flash support in 32-bit Chromium"... But you can also still choose Chrome or Chromium for site-specific browsing (and the OS comes in 32-bit and 64-bit editions).

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