Apple plans Siri for Mac as tentpole feature for this fall’s OS X 10.12 launch

apple, ios, os x, siri

Apple has reportedly been testing Siri for Mac since at least 2012, but even though the digital assistant has already made its way from the iPhone to the Apple Watch and Apple TV, it’s been notably absent from OS X. According to 9to5Mac’S Mark Gurman, that will change this year when the company launches OS X 10.2 in the Fall.

Gurman says Siri for Mac almost ready to go and will be announced as a “tentpole” feature for the next major update to OS X, which is expected to be previewed in June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

The digital assistant will reportedly be summoned in a handful of ways: through a Siri icon in the top right corner of the Mac’s menu bar, using a keyboard shortcut, or with the “hey Siri” voice prompt when your computer is plugged into a power outlet. Of course if you’re down with the idea of another device “always listening” to you in your home there will be an option to disable the feature.

Beyond Siri 9to5Mac reports OS X will receive minor user-interface tweaks across core system application windows, along with performance-focused improvement. If the company stick to its usual release schedule we can expect OS X 10.12 to launch around September or October, around the same time the next major update to iOS is due.

Time Inc. reportedly interested in merging with Yahoo

yahoo, verizon, time, aol, att, acquisition, merger, marissa mayer, time inc, reverse morris trust

Time Inc. is said to be the latest company interested in some or all of Yahoo’s assets. Sources familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that Time Inc., which owns Sports Illustrated, Time, Fortune and People magazines, has heard a presentation from Citigroup bankers on Yahoo’s behalf.

If true, Time Inc. would be considered an underdog among bigger entities like AT&T and Verizon that are also said to be interested in Yahoo. Even still, it may be worthwhile for Time Inc. as the company could pursue a structure called a Reverse Morris Trust which is a tax-free transaction in which a company merges with a spun-off subsidiary, the publication notes.

Should the Reverse Morris Trust scenario play out, current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wouldn’t remain with the company according to one source.

The deal is said to be of real interest to Time Inc. Chief Executive Officer Joe Ripp. Before becoming CEO of Time Inc. in 2013, Ripp served as finance chief and vice chairman at America Online. As such, he’s said to have some ideas as to what to do with Yahoo should a merger come to fruition.

A merger with Time Inc. would also be a way for Yahoo to avoid selling at a time when its valuation is extremely low. That said, a cash deal from a larger company would likely be enough to sway Yahoo’s board to look past a merger with Time Inc.

Representatives from all parties involved declined to comment on the matter.

DJI now offers insurance policies for your drone

insurance, drone, dji, drone insurance, crash insurance, dropsafe speed reduction system, parachute, drone parachute

Drone maker DJI revealed a couple of years back that it was developing a parachute designed to minimize damage to a drone in freefall. The DropSafe Speed Reduction System eventually made it to market although its $800+ price point and compatibility with a limited number of drones means it isn’t an option for everyone.

Now there’s an option for everyone else to protect their investment. It’s called the DJI Care Protection Plan and as the name suggests, it’s an insurance policy for your drone.

Designed to provide pilots of all skill level peace of mind, the plans are offered in six- and 12-month increments. Pricing starts at $99 for a six-month plan that covers a Phantom 3 Standard and tops out at $699 for a year of coverage on an Inspire 1 V2.0 drone with coverage amount caps of $499 to $3,099, respectively.

DJI care offers coverage for Phantom 3 Standard, Phantom 3 4K, Phantom 3 Advanced, Phantom 3 Professional and Inspire 1, version 2.0 with X3 gimbal camera. Plans can be purchased at the same time the drone is bought or added separately and can be transferred to a new owner should you sell your drone.

DJI says plans cover damage to the aircraft, gimbal or camera under normal use and pilot error such as drops and crashes.

If you’re accident-prone or otherwise clumsy, it may not be a bad idea to look into DJI’s offering.

Sony sends out invites to PlayStation VR event at GDC 2016

sony, valve, htc, gaming, media event, gdc, virtual reality, vr, vr headset, oculus rift, press event, oculus, oculus vr, project morpheus, htc vive, playstation vr, gdc 2016

With so much press surrounding the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive VR, it’s easy to forget that a third major player is looming on the horizon. I’m of course talking about Sony and its PlayStation VR (formerly Project Morpheus).

According to IGN, we will be hearing more about Sony’s virtual reality plans in the near future as the company has sent out media invitations for an event that’ll take place March 15 in San Francisco (during the annual Game Developers Conference). The press event will begin with a PlayStation VR presentation followed by hands-on demonstrations, the invite reads.

With Oculus VR already accepting pre-orders and HTC to do so next week priced at$599 and $799, respectively, all eyes will be on Sony to see how much they’ll ask for the PlayStation VR and when it’ll arrive (assuming of course that Sony is prepared to release those details). Leaks have suggested it could be priced under $500.

At CES last month, Sony executive Kaz Hirai told the BBC that developers are collectively working on 100 or more titles for the virtual reality headset. Given the platform, one could safely assume that most of those titles are games. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are also expected to have their fair share of gaming titles in addition to other applications.

Sony’s PlayStation VR event begins at 2pm PST on March 15 and although it hasn’t been confirmed, I suspect it’ll be livestreamed over the Internet.

Germany approves the use of government-developed malware to monitor suspects

germany, trojan, malware, government spying

The German government has taken the controversial decision to allow intelligence agencies to use malware for the purpose of monitoring people under suspicion.

A spokesman for the German interior minister announced on Monday that authorities would be able to use government-developed trojan software to infect a suspect’s computers and mobile devices. The only reason the malware can be deployed, however, is if lives are at risk or the state is threatened. Additionally, a court order will be required to use the software.

“Basically, we now have the skills in an area where we did not have this kind of skill,” said the spokesman. The ministry also pointed out that the program was already endorsed by members of the government in autumn 2015.

Privacy advocates are not happy about the ruling, with many groups claiming it crosses the line between the need to monitor dangerous individuals and basic privacy rights.

“We do understand the needs of security officials, but still, in a country under the rule of law, the means don’t justify the end,” said Konstantin von Notz, deputy head of Germany’s Green party.

The software must not monitor any activities other than communications, but a spokesman from Germany-based hacker association Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has expressed doubt that this really will be the case. Frank Rieger said that the technical capabilities of the government’s malware needed to be reduced. “It’s almost like you’re watching people think, if you’re reading as they type,” he said.

Germany’s constitutional court ruled in 2008 that the government must respect an individual’s right to confidentiality when it comes to data stored on information technology systems. Monitoring must be limited to a suspect’s communications with the outside world.

The CCC reverse engineered and analyzed a “lawful interception” malware program used by German police forces back in 2011. The group found that the software could “not only siphon away intimate data but also offers a remote control or backdoor functionality for uploading and executing arbitrary other programs. Significant design and implementation flaws make all of the functionality available to anyone on the internet.”

DirectX 12 Multi-GPU Technology Tested: GeForce and Radeon Paired Together

Previewing DX12 Multi-Adapter with Ashes of the Singularity

Ashes of the Singularity gave us an early peek at how AMD and Nvidia’s current GPUs are shaping up for DirectX 12 when we checked out the upcoming real-time strategy title last November. Back then our focus was primarily on DX11 vs. DX12 performance and more to the point how Nvidia’s Maxwell and AMD’s GCN 1.2 architectures compared. We also looked at CPU performance which proved to be interesting to look at as well.

Although the final game’s release is still pending, we know Stardock has been hard at work as shown by the cool new features in its Ashes of the Singularity benchmark 2.0.

The most notable of them is ‘explicit multi-adapter’ (EMA), DirectX 12’s multi-GPU technology, which gives game developers precise control over the workloads of their engine and direct control over the resources offered by each GPU in a system.

Rather than the AFR (alternate-frame rendering) method used by DX11, each frame of a game is split into a tile and this method is called SFR (split-frame rendering). SFR can break each frame of a game into multiple smaller tiles, and assign one tile to each GPU in the system. These tiles are rendered in parallel by the GPUs and combined into a completed scene for the user.

Parallel use of GPUs reduces render latency to improve FPS and VR responsiveness.

Perhaps the coolest and most unholy feature of EMA is its ability to support both AMD and Nvidia GPUs in the same system. This means it is possible to pair a GeForce GTX 980 Ti with a Radeon R9 Fury X for example. This mind blowing feature is what we will be focusing on today.

Another advantage of this method is greater memory capacity. Previously multi-GPU configurations in DX9, DX10 and DX11 games were limited to a single GPU’s worth of VRAM. For example, dual 4GB cards would only equal 4GB. This is because each GPU contains an identical copy of a game’s data set to ensure synchronization and prevent scene corruption.

DX12’s explicit multi-adapter technology allows multiple GPUs to combine their memory into a single larger pool. This means two 4GB cards would essentially have an 8GB memory buffer and this could certainly improve the texture fidelity of future games.

The Ashes of the Singularity benchmark 2.0 also makes advanced use of multi-queue and signaling mechanisms, aka asynchronous compute. This is the feature that AMD supports at a hardware level while Nvidia has had to patch it in at the driver level.

As a result, GeForce cards were actually faster when rendering in the DX11 mode, while the opposite was true for the Radeon graphics cards. Now with even more emphasis on async compute it will be interesting to see how Nvidia’s Maxwell GPUs handle this latest version of Ashes of the Singularity.

Test System Specs

Something worth noting is that the Multi GPU mode under DX12 required 16GB of RAM to work, installing less would cause the game to hang when loading and eventually crash to the desktop. The developer says this is because Multi GPU requires additional RAM due to the way D3D12 shadows texture memory.

How to fix Windows 10-related WiFi problems

Windows 10 is still a relatively new operating system, and you are likely to encounter a few issues after you install it, even if you use themain version and not the Insider Preview build. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about WiFi-related problems. Since I have also been placed in a situation like this, I thought I would lend a hand and show you a few tricks that might fix your connectivity issues. In most cases, the WiFi problems are caused by outdated drivers or old devices. I’m not sure if your remember, but I’ve already talked about the old devices problem in the previous article called “Is upgrading to Windows 10 worthwhile from your perspective?” and showed you how to solve it in “How to solve Windows 10 compatibility issues”.

So, here is a list of possible WiFi problems I will teach how to deal with. Most of these should occur immediately after upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, while others might simply happen after the Windows 10 update or caused by a random incident:

  1. WiFi card not present altogether.
  2. Unable to find a wireless network that your other devices (phones, tablets other laptops) can detect.
  3. Unable to connect to a hotspot even though the password is correct or encounter the limited connectivity.
  4. Frequent WiFi disconnects.

Simple solutions – try these first

Whenever there’s a serious problem with your WiFi, the first thing that you should check is haven’t you somehow shut off the adapter by mistake. Check whether your laptop has a button that does that, or if you haven’t accidentally pressed a key combination that triggers the action. This key combination isn’t the same for all devices (in my case it’s Fn + F11), but you should check your laptop’s manual and if that’s not an option try the CenturyLink website or simply google your laptop’s name along with the “wireless key combination” query (or something like that).

Now, verify if the network adapter is functioning properly. To do this, go to the Control Panel (right-click yourStart Menu button to find it), click on Hardware and Sound and then press the Device Manager button. In the new window that opens up go to the Network Adapters section and make sure that there are no yellow signs with an exclamation mark on them and that the names written there actually correspond to the hardware you have. If one of these two conditions isn’t met, go to the manufacturer’s website and download the most recent driver for the wireless adapter. Even if things appear normal, there have been cases when uninstalling the current driver, then restarting your PC and installing the latest driver from the manufacturer’s websites has solved the problem.

Another fairly common trigger for Windows 10 connectivity issues are quite old VPN clients. Microsoft’s staff actually stated this on the company’s help pages, so if you’re using the Cisco VPN client, Sonic Global client or another similarly old one, try uninstalling the software and see if the problem is fixed. From what I’ve heard, there are also a number of USB Ethernet adapters that don’t work well with the latest Windows version, but I don’t have a full list with the ones that cause issues. However, you can easily google the name of your USB wireless adapter and check whether it’s a general problem or only some people have it.

Advanced solutions

If you’re absolutely certain that the previous fixes don’t work and that your drivers are correctly installed, here are a few more advanced tricks that can get the job done. However, I would ask you to carefully read and follow my instructions, as we are going to modify some registries and some general Windows settings and, if you change the wrong thing, it can cause enough problems to force you to reinstall the operating system.

Since we’re talking about WiFi-related issues, I’m assuming that most of you use laptops, so this solution is just for you (do not try for a desktop PC). Go to Control Panel –> Hardware and Sound –> Device Manager, open the Network Adapters section, then right-click the wireless adapter and select Properties. In the new window that opens up go to the Power Management tab and uncheck the box marked “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power“. If you’re still having issues, continue reading.

All the next fixes require the Command Prompt console with Administrator privileges, so right-click the Start Menu and press the Command Prompt (Admin) button.

  • In the CMD Admin window type the following command: reg delete HKCR\CLSID\{988248f3-a1ad-49bf-9170-676cbbc36ba3} /va /f and press Enter. Now, (in the same window) type this line: netcfg -v -u dni_dne and press Enter. (You don’t actually have to type, you can copy paste the commands from here). Restart your PC and check if your problems have been solved.
  • In the CMD Admin window type: netsh int ip reset and restart your PC. Recheck.
  • In the command console enter the following lines: netsh int tcp set heuristics disabled and press Enter. Now type: netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled and press Enter. Write: netsh int tcp set global rss=enabled and press Enter. Now examine your settings by typing netsh int tcp show global – everything except one entry should be marked as disabled in the list that will be displayed. Restart your PC and see if the WiFi is now functioning correctly.

If you’ve tried all these solutions, but none of them worked, then you might have a physical problem with your WiFi adapter. Either take your device to a service and have it checked out or buy a USB wireless adapter. If you choose the second variant, you need to find information about the device’s range (most of the cheap ones need to be very close to the router to function in decent conditions) and its capacity (the maximum Mbps possible should be at least 150, but I recommend 300). Just as a warning, unless you go for a high-end solution, the USB wireless adapter will not work as well as the default (inbuilt) counterpart.

The best tools to manage your eBooks

Reading isn’t a popular hobby anymore, and those who still read usually prefer digital books to the actual ones because they are easier to procure, store and maintain. While there are numerous tools that can help you read your eBooks in decent conditions, there aren’t many – to help youmanage them. This is why, I’ve decided to write this article and show you the best tools for managing your digital books. These applications will come in handy whether you’re dealing with just a few eBooks or with an entire collection.

Epubor eBook Converter Ultimate

Epubor eBook Converter UltimateEpubor eBook Converter Ultimate

Let’s start off with a really awesome application that allows you to convert your eBooks between various formats so that you can easily read them on any device and app. Epubor eBook Converter Ultimate is a handy tool that allows you to convert a wide variety of eBook formats and, what’s even better, can help you circumvent DRM schemes. Unlike many other similar applications that you can find on the market, eBook Converter Ultimate embeds all the decryption capabilities that you require in its programming, so you won’t need any additional plug-ins or third-party tools. Lastly, the tool is amazingly easy to use and convenient, offering drag-and-drop functionality and allowing you to load eBooks directly from your device or from your hard disk. From my personal experience, this tool is unmatched when it comes to eBook DRM removal capabilities, but not everybody can afford it as it costs $24.99.

Free Online eBook Converter

In case you’re looking for a very simple and free solution for converting your eBooks, you might want to know that there’s an online service which offers you just that. Free Online eBook Converter is a web tool that allows you to convert your digital books into some of the most popular formats such as: EPUB, MOBI, FB2, AZW3, RTF, PDF and HTMLZ. The service offers limited functionality, only allowing you to convert your books and add a footer or a header, but it doesn’t cost you anything and it gets the job done. To use it, simply upload the file you want to convert, select the desired format and then click on the Download Converted Filebutton.



Calibre isn’t just a great eBook reading application but also a sensational solution for managing your entire book collection. This application is capable of working with almost every eBook format that currently exists, lets you add extensive metadata details to your books and conveniently groups all the items from your collection. Another big plus for Calibre is the fact that it’s also a full-blown editor for EZW and EPUB eBooks. Lastly, this open-source tool allows you to search and download new eBooks directly from its interface, so you should really check it out.

Alfa Ebooks Manager

Alfa Ebooks ManagerAlfa Ebooks Manager

A bit more simplistic than Calibre, Alfa Ebooks Manager is another reliable tool for managing your eBook collection. What’s really cool about this application is that it allows you to create realistic 3D models based on the covers of your books, so your library won’t only be neatly organized but also visually pleasing. Additionally, you can add as many tags as you want to make your entire collection easy to sort through. The tool scans your entire hard disk, finding and organizing all the eBooks you store on your PC, then updates the metadata of your books with information that it takes from online sources such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Library, etc. Unfortunately, unlike Calibre, this application isn’t free, so you will have to pay $19.95 to try the program in its full capacity.

Epubor Kindle Transfer

Epubor Kindle TransferEpubor Kindle Transfer

I couldn’t end this list without mentioning a tool that helped me out of a tight spot when I wanted to load my Kindle with some reading material for a trip. Epubor Kindle Transfer is a handy application that allows its users to easily move eBooks from their hard disks to their Kindle or Kobo devices and vice versa. The tool easily converts EPUB and PDF files into the MOBI format (which is compatible with both previously mentioned devices). Another great thing about Epubor Kindle Transfer is that it also allows you to transfer files directly between two readers, so you don’t have to waste time by using your PC as an intermediary storage. The tool costs $17.99, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth its price.

Now, after you’ve seen some great tools that can help you manage your eBooks, you might also want to check out the best websites for downloading free eBooks or find out the top 7 eBook reading tools for Windows.

How to know if your PC is part of a botnet

Botnets are the “big bad wolf” of the Internet, and the problem is that your PC might be a part of one, and you might not even know it. For those of you who are not familiar with the topic, botnets are an “army” of computers which get infected with specific malware and are then used by the attacker for illegal activities such as spreading viruses to other computers, spamming or flooding web targets. Also known as “zombie armies”, the PCs operate without the knowledge of their owners. The largest botnet that we know about was called Oficla, included as many as 30,000,000 computers and was shut down and dismantled in November 2010. In case you’re worried about such things, here’s how to find if your PC is part of a botnet:

Symptoms of being a “zombie”

If your PC isn’t acting strange in any kind of way, there’s no reason for you to worry that it may be part of a botnet. However, there are several signs which can tell you that your PC might be a zombie. Here are the most common ones:

  • Your computer never shuts down properly or takes a very long time to do so: this indicates that there are some processes running which your operating system has a hard time shutting down, and the regular applications that you install generally don’t do that. This could indicate the fact that your PC is part of a botnet, but it could also mean that you’ve picked up some kind of regular virusб so you will need to use a process of elimination to find out which one it is.
  • Your fans are working even harder when your PC is idle: smart botnets will try to conceal their presence as much as possible, so they will try to avoid the user’s suspicions by doing their thing only when the computer isn’t in use. The fact that your fans kick into overdrive while your computer isn’t active usually means that there’s a background process which uses resources. Don’t get alarmed just yet, this could also mean that your Windows is performing updates, or that there’s too much dust on your fan, so rule those out first.
  • Your hard-disk start working intensively for no reason: make sure that there aren’t any updates going on, but if there aren’t, and you weren’t doing anything on the PC while this happened, you should be slightly worried.
  • Windows updates / antivirus updates or installation not working: not being able to update your Windows or antivirus program (or even install a new security application) is usually a clear sign that something is very wrong. You can’t know for sure if you’re actually part of a botnet or of it’s just some other kind of the malware, but you definitely should check it out.
  • Your Internet browsing and downloading speed is very slow: this could mean that something from your PC is using your Internet connection without you knowing. First, make sure that there aren’t any updates running, and that your torrent client isn’t running. If not, then perform an Internet speed test, and if everything looks normal than your computer is most likely a zombie.

The symptoms are there. How about a cure?

The part about a cure is a little bit more delicate than anyone cares to admit. To put it very simply, depending on the type of infection that has been used to add your computer to the botnet, you may not be able to completely get rid of the problem. However, here are a couple of things that you can try:

  • Microsoft Safety Scanner – this tool has proven to be effective versus some botnet infections over the years, so in my opinion, this should be your first step. The application (also known as Malicious Software Removal Tool) is completely free and contains signatures of many known botnets.
  • Bot Revolt – is another solution that seems to work. To be completely honest, I didn’t test the application myself, but one of my friends did, and it actually helped solve his botnet issue. The tool constantly monitors all your inbound communications, being able to recognize suspicious or unauthorized access, keeps an eye on every installer that you use, constantly checks your registries and is not only useful for finding infections, but also for preventing them.
  • RUBotted – coming from Trend Micro, this freeware program contains digital signatures of several known botnets and is also capable of discovering currently unknown botnets. Additionally, the application is quite proficient at cleaning up an infection form your PC, but it uses an online feature called House Call in order to do this, so you will need a decent Internet connection.
  • Mirage Anti-Bot – a tool that contains a database of URLs known to spread botnet infections. The tool keeps you safe from these URL addresses and allows you to add your own links that should be blocked.

While the previously mentioned tools will probably help, there are cases in which there isn’t anything you can do, except maybe buy new hardware. Certain infections can affect your RAM or directly your router, which makes them nearly impossible to clean. So, if none of the applications I’ve shown you are helping, you should seek help from a specialist.

If computer security is a topic that interests you, then you might also want to find out what is ransomware and how to protect yourself against it, learn about how to keep your browser safe from hackers or read about how to know if your router has been infected.

Best Google Doodle designs for 2015

Not only do the guys at Google possess superior intelligence, they also show a great sense of humor and enthusiasm. From time to time, the search giant’s team introduces artistic and inspiring transformations of the company’s logo to celebrate special occasions, major events or important anniversaries. Today known as Google Doodle, the first creative illustration appeared with a 1998 visit to the Burning Man festival in Nevada, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin used it as an ‘out of office’ message to the website’s visitors.

Since then, more than 2000 doodles have been created worldwide, progressing from minor logo tweaks to mind-blowing illustrations and interactive games. Thanks to the vast Google Doodles archive, we’ve picked up the most impressive and engaging designs we’ve seen in 2015 so far. Would like to know which ones are yours? You’re very welcome to take a look.

Halloween – Global Candy Cup 2015

Halloween - Global Candy Cup 2015Halloween – Global Candy Cup 2015

With the excitement of Halloween, Google releases the festive-themed doodles every recent year and 2015 was no exception. To get into the spirit of the spookiest day of the year, the team created an addictive game users could play right in their browsers. The Global Candy Cup 2015 featured four cute multicolored witches, each representing a team, whose mission was to collect as much candy as possible, while racing through various obstacles like crows and ghosts. Players picked one of the teams to join and did their best to add to the team’s score. Take a turn at the game now and you’ll know who went home with the Cup

Evidence of water found on Mars

Evidence of water found on MarsEvidence of water found on Mars

Specially for NASA’s announcement that it had found evidence of water flowing on Mars, Google designed a nice animated Mars-themed doodle that touched the hearts of millions ofpeople all over the world. To mark the major discover, the Doodle team replaced the second ‘o’ in the word Google with acute Red Planet charactersipping a glass of water. Look at it! Isn’t it adorable?

International Women’s Day 2015

International Women's Day 2015International Women’s Day 2015

Women are changing the world and Google knows about it. Celebrating the annual holiday that always falls on March 8, the company posted an inspiring illustration that depicted various ways women of different careers, from scientist to explorer, contribute to the common welfare. Thank you, Google. We appreciate how you treat us.

Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision Song ContestEurovision Song Contest

Along with all the notable events of 2015,Google didn’t forget to mark the 60th anniversary of the annual Song For Europe contest called Eurovision. As a rule, the singing competition fever spreads every May, as over 200 million viewers across Europe gather together to cheer up their favorites. To celebrate the Eurovision Saturday’s final, Google dedicated its 23 May doodle to the song contest. The colorful picture was filled with funny cartoon characters that represented Europe’s diversity and talents.

Celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven’s 245th Year

Ludwig van Beethoven has long been considered one of the most famous and influential composes ever lived. Although it’s still unclear when the composer was born, 17 December 2015 commemorated the 245th anniversary of his baptism and what Google found worthy of an appealing special doodle. The Google’s Beethoven doodle was presented as more of a puzzle and highlighted the virtuoso’s most recognizable compositions in a very interactive way. Players needed to put sheets of music in the right order to reproduce some of Beethoven’s most famous works.