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Everything you need to know about Windows 10 recovery drives | PCWorld

By on Nov 14, 2016 in Blog, News |

We take a look at the recovery drive, one of the most useful troubleshooting tools included with Windows 10. Source: Everything you need to know about Windows 10 recovery drives | PCWorld   You never know when you’ll need a Windows recovery drive, so the time to make one is now—and it’s very easy to do. A recovery drive is similar to the media you’d receive if you bought a pre-built system. Back in the day, PCs would ship with a CD or DVD that included an image of the system as it left the factory. If your PC’s OS went sideways, you could easily revert to the way things were on day one (though you’d lose all of your subsequently created data and applications, obviously). Nowadays manufacturers usually just put an image of the system as it left the factory on a hidden partition of your main drive. A Windows recovery disk builds on this idea. In addition to letting you reinstall Windows, it includes several troubleshooting tools, which can be a lifesaver if your system won’t boot. Some of these tools used to be part of the OS. If your PC failed to boot you were presented with a menu allowing you to try and boot into Safe Mode, or use “last known good configuration.” That’s no longer the case with Windows 10. Now you need these tools to reside on a separate, bootable USB key, and every person running Windows should keep one in a safe place with the label “in case of emergency.” You can easily create a recovery drive using Windows 10’s built-in tool. Here’s how you create one and what it can do for you. First, obtain an 8GB to 16GB USB key. Next, go into Windows’ Control panel (right-clicking the Windows icon is the easiest way) and type create a recovery drive into the search bar. The manual method would be to go to System & Security > Security & Maintenance > Recovery. You may need to enter your admin password to go further. In the resulting dialog box, check the box labeled Back up system files to the recovery drive. With your recovery drive created, you’ll have to boot from it in order to use it. How your PC boots...

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Turn your computer into a touchscreen with AirBar

By on Nov 13, 2016 in Blog, News |

You won’t be made a fool when you tap your computer screen — so long as you have an AirBar. This new accessory instantly turns your PC into a touchscreen. Source: Turn your computer into a touchscreen with AirBar We’ve all been there — tapping the laptop screen with a finger after forgetting that it’s not a tablet and doesn’t have touchscreen capabilities. But now, you won’t be made a fool of when you tap your computer screen … if you have an AirBar, that is. This new accessory turns your PC into a touchscreen device, because sometimes, using a trackpad or a mouse is just too hard. The flagship device from Swedish company Neonode, the AirBar is now officially available for pre-order in the U.S. It’s compatible with most Chromebook notebooks and PCs running Windows 8.1 or 10, and allows users to “promptly and seamlessly activate touch functionalities on their laptops.” Sleek and lightweight, the thin, matte black bar attaches magnetically to the bottom of your laptop for what just might be the easiest installation of all time. Don’t worry — you won’t have to download any software to get the device to work. Simply connect the AirBar via USB and start touchscreening. The device makes use of Neonode’s patented zForce Air technology, which emits an invisible light field atop your laptop screen capable of sensing touch from fingers (even if they’re gloved), as well as paintbrushes. That means you could scroll down that recipe even as you’re cooking with an oven mitt, or turn your computer screen into a digital canvas. More: Nikon adds Bluetooth, enhanced touchscreen to new D5600 DSLR “We developed this product knowing there is really nothing else like it on the market,” said Remo Behdasht, senior vice president of AirBar Devices at Neonode. “People want touchscreen capabilities, but until now their options were very limited by brand and cost. Our successful pre-order phase was further confirmation of the massive appeal and demand for this device.” You can turn your laptop into a touchscreen laptop with AirBar for $69, and choose from 13.3-inch, 14-inch, and 15.6-inch size options. The device is currently available here, and will also be sold on,, and...

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Google Assistant is Getting Ready to Compete with Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana

By on Nov 12, 2016 in Blog, News |

ByThe market for personal assistants with conversational user experience is heating up. While Amazon has already launched the next generation Echo in the form of Echo Dot and Echo Tap, Google is busy turning its Assistant more intelligent and smarter than the competition. Source: Google Assistant is Getting Ready to Compete with Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana Starting December, developers will be able to create custom actions for Google Assistant. This will offer a similar experience of developing Alexa Skills for Echo. Google’s strategy of enabling developers to target its Assistant platform will instantly open up multiple channels to developers. They will be able to reach millions of consumers using a variety of devices with embedded Assistant technology. Though Microsoft has a compelling personal assistant technology in the form of Cortana, the APIs are not broadly available. Developers targeting Windows platform can consume the APIs limiting the platform reach. When it comes to winning the niche personal assistant segment, Google has a multi-pronged approach. It is lining up all its assets to ensure that its technology is superior to the competition. Let’s a take a look at the strategy. Google Cloud Machine Learning Google Cloud Platform has a broad range of machine learning tools and services. From image processing to speech recognition to text analysis, machine learning is certainly the strength of Google. Developers will be able to send plain text to Cloud ML to instantly perform sentiment, entity, and syntactic analysis. Google’s support for multiple languages including some of the Asian languages such as Chinese will benefit developers targeting the global...

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Do humans make computers smarter?

By on Nov 10, 2016 in Blog, News |

Humans still outperform computers at many tasks, but as AI advances, will our intervention help them or hobble them? It’s complicated. Source: Do humans make computers smarter?   As machine learning makes computers smarter than us in some important ways, does adding a human to the mix make the overall system smarter? Does human plus machine always beat the machine by itself?The question is easy when we think about using computers to do, say, long division. Would it really help to have a human hovering over the machine reminding it to carry the one? The issue is becoming less clear, and more important, as autonomous cars start to roam our streets. Siri, you can drive my car Many wary citizens assume that for safety’s sake an autonomous car ought to have a steering wheel and brakes that a human can use to override the car’s computer in an emergency. They assume – correctly for now – that humans are better drivers: so far, autonomous cars have more accidents, mainly minor and caused by human-driven cars, but I’m willing to bet that the accident rate for cars without human overrides will be significantly lower than for cars with them, as the percentage of driverless cars increases, and as they get smarter. Does human plus machine always beat the machine by itself? After all, autonomous cars have a 360-degree view of their surroundings, while humans are lucky to have half that. Autonomous cars react at the speed of light. Human react at the speed of neuro-chemicals, contradictory impulses, and second thoughts. Humans often make decisions that preserve their own lives above all others, while autonomous cars, especially once they’re networked, can make decisions to minimize the sum total of bad consequences. (Maybe. Mercedes has announced that its autonomous cars will save passengers over pedestrians). In short, why would we think that cars would be safer if we put a self-interested, fear-driven, lethargic, poorly informed animal in charge? A game of Go But take a case where reaction time doesn’t matter, and where machines have access to the same information as humans. For example, imagine a computer playing a game of Go against a human. Surely adding a highly-skilled player to the computer’s side — or, put...

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Here are 10 awful passwords that make life easy for hackers

By on Nov 8, 2016 in Blog, News |

Reusing passwords might be more risky than you think Source: Here are 10 awful passwords that make life easy for hackers Many people are making things easy for hackers because of their simple passwords, new research suggests. Tech experts analysed the masses of passwords leaked during the Yahoo data breach and other recent cyber-attacks . Jeff Yan of Lancaster University and other authors said reusing similar passwords across many sites made users more vulnerable than they may realise. They said the risk of criminals using snippets of personal information to guess passwords for specific individuals – rather than just generic passwords anyone might use – had been underestimated. The 10 passwords to avoid Computer keyboard But their research also includes a list of the 10 most common passwords among people with Yahoo accounts. The most common password is 123456 – with 12345678 and 123456789 also popular. The second most common is “password”, followed by “welcome” and “ninja”. Others making up the top 10 are “abc123”, “sunshine”, “princess” and “qwerty”. The authors say many people actually use their names, birthdays and phone numbers or variations of them in their passwords too. “This is a serious security concern” Their paper reads: “Targeted online guessing can exploit not only weak popular passwords, but also passwords reused across sites and passwords containing personal information. “This is a serious security concern, since various personally identifiable information and leaked passwords become readily available due to unending data breaches. “Existing password creation rules and strength meters take no account of the targeted online guessing threat, which is increasingly more damaging and realistic.” Dr Yan said: “Our results should encourage people to vary the passwords they use on different websites much more substantially to make it harder for criminals to guess their passwords. “This work should also help inform Internet service providers looking to introduce more robust security measures to detect and resist online guessing.” Dr Yan co-wrote the paper with Ding Wang, Zijian Zhang and Ping Wang of Peking University and Hinyi Huang of the Fujian Normal University in...

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IT departments becoming ‘obsolete’

By on Nov 1, 2016 in Blog, News | 0 comments

Cloud computing, smartphones and as-a-service software products are killing off the traditional, ‘dark days’ IT department, says printer manufacturer Brother. Source: IT departments becoming ‘obsolete’ Online services and workers choosing the tools they want to work with, rather than employees being dictated to by in-house IT experts, means the IT department’s functions are now primarily redundant, says Japan-based Brother The printer maker refers to IT departments’ control over technology as “dark days” in its web-based advertorial feature in the British national newspaper the Telegraph in September. “Does the cloud and mobile era mean we can do away with the IT department completely? To a large extent, the answer is yes,” Brother writes. Brother is promoting its own version of as-a-service in the advertorial—it has a managed print services solution that promises to rein in printing spending for organizations through pay-for-what-you-print. However, the company does make some interesting points. Teams running in-house networks and infrastructure, upgrading software, and deciding what kinds of computers and equipment should be purchased is “obsolete” now, it says. “Firms instead rely on online services, and employees choose the devices they want to work on.” Brother doesn’t mention that the employee-adoption of cloud services hit a glitch recently. Cloud security firms Elastica and Blue Coat observed in a study that employees storing documents in self-chosen cloud services, something called Shadow IT, were creating security holes. Blue Coat Systems said it even found proprietary cloud documents through Google searches in some tests. There’s no going back The genie has clearly been let out of the bottle, though. Cloud offers convenience to workers, and because workers are increasingly tech-savvy, they don’t need—or think they need—to be told what to do by tech experts. Brother goes one step further than acknowledging the simple allowance of employee IT interference and says technology “should no longer be locked away from the end user.” It also says “heads of departments across the business” should make the technology decisions because they’re the ones who understand the requirements best. IT departments perceived as irrelevant That statement, indeed, ties in with what appears to be happening with business digitization in general: As enterprises adopt digital overall and technologize their business plans, their IT departments can be...

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