Amazon Donating $690,000 to Australian Bush Fire Relief Efforts

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on Sunday that, like Apple, his firm will contribute to Australian bush-fire relief efforts. The donation will total $690,000 dollars, CNBC reported.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, Bezos pledged 1 million Australian dollars ($690,000) on behalf of the tech giant — an amount that has faced criticism by some on social media. “Our hearts go out to all Australians as they cope with these devastating bushfires,” Bezos said. “Amazon is donating 1 million AU dollars in needed provisions and services.” The figure was derided by some online, with people comparing the sum with Bezos’ personal net worth.

How to Avoid Online Scams With This Guide

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Emily Long put together a guide on how to avoid online scams, like not clicking links in emails, not sharing passwords, and more.

The basic rule for surviving internet scams is simple: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A little common sense goes a long way to realizing that you aren’t going to suddenly win the Spanish National Lottery when you didn’t even know you had a ticket.

A useful guide.

Regulatory Filing Indicates New MacBook Pro Coming Soon

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A recent regulatory filing indicated that a new MacBook Pro could be on the way in the coming months. Apple only released the 16″ model in November 2019. AppleInsider took a look at what’s in the document

The new filings with the ECC include just one new model number, A2289, which is identified as an Apple-branded portable computer and associated spare components. No other details are made public about the model, aside from it being capable of running macOS 10.15 Catalina. It is unknown what the model indicates, as this could refer to an update to any of the MacBook variants available to date. The model number is accompanied by filings for two Apple TV models, using numbers that relate to already-available models. These are most likely to indicate the use of tvOS 13 on the Apple TV and Apple TV 4K. Another line is dedicated to the rackmount variant of the new Mac Pro, which has yet to be made available to purchase by Apple.

Chrome and Firefox Ending Notification Permission Pop-Ups

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Google Chrome icon.

Fed up of getting pop-ups from your web browser asking for permission to send notifications? Chrome and Safari are looking to end that, Wired reported.

Chrome project manager PJ McLachlan wrote in a blog post this week that the company would start limiting the notifications in one of the next versions of the browser, version 80. “Chrome 80 will show, under certain conditions, a new, quieter notification permission UI that reduces the ‘interruptiveness’ of notification permission requests,” McLachlan says. So what does this look like? If you usually block browser notifications, Chrome will put permission requests from websites behind a small notification symbol at the right end of your browser’s URL search bar. On mobile there will be a small alert at the bottom of your browser window, which vanishes after a few seconds, saying that notifications are blocked.

Build an Apple I Replica With This $99 SmartyKit

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Steve Wozniak built the Apple I computer by hand, and it sold at US$666.66 when it went on sale July 1976. And with a product called SmartyKit you can build a replica of it.

Besides a cool DIY project, the company behind SmartyKit also proposes it as an educational tool for those interested in knowing what are the main parts of every computer, what a processor is and how it works, how a video signal is formed and how a simple operating system works.

FCC Urged to Do Something About SIM Swapping

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Lawmakers are urging the FCC to do something about SIM swapping attacks, which have been responsible for the theft of tens of millions.

SIM swapping is an insidious form of mobile phone fraud that is often used to steal large amounts of cryptocurrencies and other items of value from victims. All too frequently, the scam involves bribing or tricking employees at mobile phone stores into seizing control of the target’s phone number and diverting all texts and phone calls to the attacker’s mobile device.

This Smart Trainer Improves Your Posture in Just 2 Weeks: $89

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We have a deal on Upright GO 2, a device and companion app designed to help you improve your posture. Essentially, you place the device directly on the skin of your upper back using the hypoallergenic adhesive strips that come in the box. It then buzzes when you’re slouching. Check out the promo video to see more about how it works. The Upright GO 2 is $89 through our deal.

Android Devices to Get Ultra Wideband Tech Like iPhone 11

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Apple introduced Ultra Wideband technology with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. Barclays Analysts believe Android smartphones are going to in their footsteps, according to a note seen by MacRumors.

In a research note obtained by MacRumors, the analysts said Android smartphones will be equipped with an all-in-one Ultra Wideband, NFC, and Secure Element chip introduced by Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors last year. It is unclear which Android smartphones will adopt Ultra Wideband first, but Samsung did join a consortium with NXP last year to help develop the technology. In a press release last year, NXP said Ultra Wideband will give mobile devices several new and interesting capabilities, such as being able to unlock a car’s doors when the device comes in close proximity of the vehicle, potentially foreshadowing a feature that could come to the iPhone down the road.

Pokémon Go Just Had Its Best Year Ever

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The initial hype may have died down, but people are still playing Pokémon Go. Lots of people. Cult of Mac outlined why the game has just enjoyed its best year yet.

According to new data from mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower, Niantic’s Pokémon Go pulled in a massive $894 million in player spending during 2019. (Based on both iOS and Android numbers.) That puts it ahead of 2016, 2017 and 2018 in terms of revenue. It also means that the game has earned a whopping $3.1 billion in player spending during its time on the market. Last year alone, the game received 55 million installs worldwide. 10 million of these took place in the United States, representing 19% of the total.

Microsoft Skype and Cortana Transcription Program Run With "No Security Measures"

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A system transcribing and vetting audio from Skype and Cortana was run for years with “no security measures,” according to a former Microsoft contractor. The Guardian revealed that workers could access recordings through a simple Chrome web app.

The recordings, both deliberate and accidentally invoked activations of the voice assistant, as well as some Skype phone calls, were simply accessed by Microsoft workers through a web app running in Google’s Chrome browser, on their personal laptops, over the Chinese internet, according to the contractor. Workers had no cybersecurity help to protect the data from criminal or state interference, and were even instructed to do the work using new Microsoft accounts all with the same password, for ease of management, the former contractor said. Employee vetting was practically nonexistent, he added.

Luxitude Tablet and Phone Holder Stand: $33.99

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We have a deal on Luxitude, a tablet and smartphone holder and stand, combined. It features adjustable arms that fit most tablets and phones from 4″ to 11″. It rotates 360° for the best viewing, and has suction cups that make it easy to pop off and fold up to move from surface to surface. A padded holder protects the device from scratching, falling, or slipping. It’s $33.99 through our deal.

Microsoft’s Project Artemis Tool Will Help Find Online Predators

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Microsoft has created an automated tool codenamed Project Artemis that can help detect patterns of communication used by predators to target kids.

Building off the Microsoft patent, the technique is applied to historical text-based chat conversations. It evaluates and “rates” conversation characteristics and assigns an overall probability rating. This rating can then be used as a determiner, set by individual companies implementing the technique, as to when a flagged conversation should be sent to human moderators for review. Human moderators would then be capable of identifying imminent threats for referral to law enforcement…

Microsoft was the company that also helped developed PhotoDNA, an automated tool to detect child abuse images. Now it’s moving to text.

'Mythic Quest' And The Future of Apple TV+

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Mythic Quest will launch on Apple TV+ on February 7. Variety spoke to Rob McElhenney, who he acts in and wrote the show, about what viewers can expect.

The show will be Apple’s first straightforward comedy since launching its streaming platform in November — and a successful launch would be welcome. The platform’s flagship series, “The Morning Show,” recently received three Golden Globe nominations but was widely panned by critics. Other Apple shows, like “Dickinson,” “For All Mankind” and “Servant,” have found modest critical success, but it remains unclear if any of them have truly broken through the crowded pop culture landscape. Apple no doubt hopes that gamers, who collectively spent a record $43.4 billion in the sector in 2018 in the U.S. alone, will flock to the series given its subject matter and the pedigree of its creators.

Fan in Dubai Has One of The World's Best Collections of Apple Devices

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Jimmy Grewal is not just an ordinary Apple fan. Based in Dubai, he has one of the world’s most impressive collections of the company’s products. Cult of Mac had a chat with him.

Is this heaven? The world’s greatest Apple Store? Nope, it’s Dubai, actually. Home to Jimmy Grewal, a collector of vintage Apple computers and one of the most impressive collections you’re likely to find anywhere. “Dubai is not exactly the hotbed of vintage Apple collecting,” Grewal told Cult of Mac. “Although Apple computers were sold and used here from the early 80s, a lot of those old computers are not [around any more.] The dealers who used to sell them have gotten rid of their inventory and their spare parts. What I don’t already have, I have to import.” Fortunately, Dubai’s geographical location makes this reasonably easy. Grewal has sourced computers from everywhere from the U.S. to Australia and Europe. He scours eBay and Facebook Marketplace, and relies on word-of-mouth to clue him on possible deals.

Facebook Deeply Committed to Keep Lying Political Ads

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Facebook remains committed to keep lying political ads on its platform, saying that private companies shouldn’t make decisions about them.

Instead of banning such ads across the platform, Facebook has opted to introduce new tools for users to limit the way they interact with political ads. The company has expanded its Ad Library tool, an archive which shows all the political ads running on Facebook or Instagram, by adding information on approximately how many people ads reach.

Why would Facebook ban its source of income?

LaunchCuts Adds Folders, Search Filters, More to Shortcuts

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Writing for MacStories, Federico Viticci reviewed LaunchCuts, a launcher for shortcuts that can organize them into folders, gives you search filters, and more.

…LaunchCuts’ sole purpose is to offer an alternative view for your shortcut library with folders and powerful search filters. If you have less than 20 shortcuts installed on your iPhone or iPad, you’re likely not going to get much benefit out of LaunchCuts’ advanced organizational tools; but if you’re like me and use hundreds of different shortcuts on a regular basis, and especially if your library has grown out of control over the past few years, you’re going to need the assistance of LaunchCuts to make sense of it all.

App Store: US$7.99

PSA: People Have Been Getting Fake Military Draft Texts

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The U.S. Army is warning Americans about fake military draft texts going around. They tell you to report to the nearest Army recruiter “for immediate departure to Iran.”

Some of the fake texts used real names of Army recruiting commanders — while others used fictitious names — lending the false appearance of authenticity, said Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for the US Army Recruiting Command.

US military conscription was suspended in the 1970s. To resume the draft, Congress would need to enact legislation, according to the Selective Service System, the independent agency that would manage the draft in an emergency.

Twitter Adds Touch Bar And Sidecar Support to Official Mac App

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Twitter for Mac

The official Twitter app for Mac got an upgrade. It added Touch Bar shortcuts and now supports integration with an iPad via Sidecar, Cult of Mac reported.

The version 8.5 update makes it so that you can put Twitter for Mac on your iPad when using Sidecar. It also adds some (but not many) Touch Bar shortcuts for those using a MacBook Pro. Touch Bar support is basic for now. You’ll see a compose tweet button, plus a toggle that lets you quickly switch between your most recent and most relevant timelines. There’s a lot of empty space for now. Nevertheless, it’s a good start. Future updates will likely add other useful buttons for things like direct messages, search, lists, and more.

CES 2020: Satechi Releases Mega 108W USB-C Desktop Charger

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Satechi unveiled a massive 108 watt USB-C PD desktop charger with two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports to charge up to four devices at once.

Ideal for the home, office or travel, the 108W Pro USB-C PD Desktop Charger features an ultra-sleek and modern design that complements users’ favorite accessories. Compatible with a wide variety of USB-C devices, the charger combines four ports into one compact, high-speed power bank, making it the only charger user’s need to take with them while on-the-go.

It’s available now to purchase for US$79.99.

PaMu Slide Mini Bluetooth 5.0 Earphones: $59.99

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We have a deal on a pair of PaMu Slide Mini Bluetooth 5.0 earphones. They offer Bluetooth 5.0 audio quality, up to 10 hours of talk time, and they’re designed to stay in your ears. They come with a charging case, and they’re rated IP6 water and sweat-resistant. These earphones are $59.99 through our deal.