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Google rebrands Messenger as Android Messages in a move toward a universal te...

If you fired up your Google Messenger app this morning, you might have noticed something different: It?s now called Android Messages. And while the new name doesn?t actually change anything about the way we use it, it could lead to big things down the road.

Amir Sarhangi, head of Rich Communication Services at Google, explained in a blog post that the new name is a step toward finally creating a default universal messaging app on Android. As it currently stands, the app formerly known as Messenger comes preloaded on Pixel and Nexus devices and some others, but for the most part, the messaging experience on Android is even more fractured than the OS itself. Many manufacturers ship their own default SMS/MMS app, and most users end up turning to WhatsApp, Allo, or Hangouts for their texting needs.

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The United Nations steps in to define 5G, ending a marketing war

With mobile operators? marketing departments already throwing around claims about their 5G services, the United Nations is weighing in with its definition of what qualifies a network as next-generation.

Verizon Wireless will begin delivering ?5G? service to select users in 11 U.S. cities in mid-2017, even though some places don?t yet have access to 4G. And at the Mobile World Congress 2017 trade show in Barcelona, companies including Intel, Qualcomm and Ericsson will be promoting their moves towards 5G.

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Google snafu signs users out of accounts, wreaks havoc on OnHub and Wifi routers

The good thing and the bad thing about the cloud is, well, the cloud. The latter part of that trueism was brought home late Thursday when some Google users were suddenly signed out of their accounts and devices.

The problem affected Google Wifi mesh routers, Google?s OnHub router, other devices like the Chromecast, and even some plain old Google Accounts.

The impact on you at home: If this problem affected you last night and you were suddenly signed out of all your accounts, don?t worry. Malcious hackers hadn?t suddenly taken over all your devices. Google says it was just a snafu with the Google Account engine.

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34% off TurboTax Deluxe 2016 Tax Software Federal & State - Deal Alert

TurboTax coaches you every step of the way and double checks your return as you go to handle even the toughest tax situations, so you can be confident you?re getting every dollar you deserve. Its typical list price of $59.99 has been reduced a generous 34% to $39.86, a deal that is exclusive to Amazon. Learn more, or take advantage of the deal now, on Amazon.

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Three steps to make managing passwords easier

Passwords are a necessary inconvenience. Yes, they?re a pain to create and manage, but vital for keeping your accounts and devices secure. It might seem we?re approaching the death of the password with the rise of biometric authentication and other such tech; but no single security method is foolproof. For the foreseeable future, expect to rely on a combination of techniques, including passwords.

And, really, passwords don?t have to be a pain. In fact, managing your passwords can be downright easy, or at least easier than you think.

Create strong passwords

There are a number of suggestions for how to create passwords, but the basic idea is that it be hard to guess. To be clear, we?re not trying to keep your neighbor from guessing it, but a computer running through dictionaries of common passwords.

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Alphabet's Waymo raises stakes in self-driving car race with Uber lawsuit

The road to develop self-driving cars might be paved with lawsuits. Waymo, a spin-off from Google?s self-driving car initiative, is suing Uber for allegedly stealing its trade secrets.

On Thursday, it filed a lawsuit against Uber and its startup Otto?a self-driving trucking company?claiming that the two companies were using stolen intellectual property from Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary.

The lawsuit underscores the fierce competition in the self-driving industry and how the battle might escalate.By lifting the technology, Uber has allegedly built its own comparable LiDAR system within nine months, when Waymo had been developing the tech for nearly seven years, the company alleged.

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Five to Try: Causality is a twisting time-travel challenge, and Blin.gy drops...
Load up on the Play Store's latest Android releases.
How to easily keep your cloud files private with Rclone

When cloud storage services first came on the scene, personal data security wasn?t a common feature. Even now, as concern over data privacy has grown, many cloud storage services don?t encrypt the user?s data by default. It?s largely up to the user to take the initiative and enable settings thatensure files are encrypted and private, which can be tedious. Believe it or not, a little command-line program called Rclone simplifies things. It?s available for Linux and other open-source OSes, as well as Windows and OS X.

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Cerise Circular review: This Mac Pro wannabe gets sidetracked by gaming

Cerise?s Circular computer wants to be like Apple?s Mac Pro. The company, which primarily makes Windows PCs for digital content creators, has brought the same cylindrical ?hot air rises? concept to a system that?s hand-built by one person, using a custom-designed, Mac Pro-like case that?s made in the United States. Cerise?s business model makes the Circular computer pretty unique, and pretty expensive?our test unit cost $3,339.

The puzzler is the specific configuration we tested. There?s nothing wrong with it?it?s just more like a gaming PC than a Mac Pro killer (unless you opt for a version with more powerful Xeon or Broadwell-E parts). Viewed from the obsessive bang-for-buck perspective of gaming builds, the Circular?s boutique pricing becomes a liability.

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Snubbed by the Oscars

The Oscars are nearly here (February 26, to be precise), and maybe you?re excited about seeing all the nominated films, or maybe you?re tired of the hubbub and craving something less hyped. Several such excellent-but-underrated movies are now streaming this week.

There?s also a cadre of movies that feature action and violence and even zombies that would never be nominated. And there?s a documentary filled with controversy, and a movie that received several nominations at its time but failed to nab the big prize (to the chagrin of many).

Enjoy the Oscars, or don?t, but enjoy these movies and others regardless!

Imperial Dreams (Netflix) Courtesy of Netflix ?????

Though it features Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega, Imperial Dreams (2014) is not a prequel about his character Finn joining the ranks of the imperial stormtroopers. Rather, this movie was the talk of the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, yet was sadly left behind as distributors stumbled over how to market it. Thankfully Netflix stepped up and has given it a 2017 streaming release, and it?s very much worth seeing. Like the recent Moonlight, Malik Vitthal?s Imperial Dreams is a heartbreaking, sympathetic urban drama, filled with passages of beautiful sadness. Boyega stars as Bambi, who has just been released from prison and returns to his tough Watts neighborhood. He has published a short story in McSweeney?s magazine, dreams of being a writer, and hopes to get his young son Day (played by twins Justin and Ethan Coach) out of the ?hood.

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US probe of drone collisions with aircraft points to birds

Investigations into reported collisions by drones with civil aircraft found that they were caused instead by birds, wires and posts, or structural failures unrelated to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), a U.S. regulator said.

There has been widespread concern about the risks that the flying of drones close to aircraft can pose, and the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that reports of ?possible? drone sightings to FAA air traffic facilities continued to increase in fiscal year 2016.

There were 1,274 such reports of drone sightings from February through September last year, compared with 874 for the same period in 2015, the FAA said in a statement. Some of these sightings could have also been of birds mistaken for drones, according to analysts.

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Stop using SHA1 encryption: It?s now completely unsafe, Google proves

Security researchers have achieved the first real-world collision attack against the SHA-1 hash function, producing two different PDF files with the same SHA-1 signature. This shows that the algorithm's use for security-sensitive functions should be discontinued as soon as possible.

SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1) dates back to 1995 and has been known to be vulnerable to theoretical attacks since 2005. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has banned the use of SHA-1 by U.S. federal agencies since 2010, and digital certificate authorities have not been allowed to issue SHA-1-signed certificates since Jan. 1, 2016, although some exemptions have been made.

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Google's new AI aims to end abusive online comments using 'Perspective'

The internet is a tough place to have a conversation. Abuse has driven celebrities and ordinary folks from social media platforms that are ill-equipped to deal with it, and some publishers have switched off comment sections.

That?s why Google and Jigsaw (an early stage incubator at Google parent company Alphabet) are working on a project called Perspective. It uses artificial intelligence to try to identify toxic comments, with an aim of reducing them. The Perspective API released Thursday will provide developers with a score of how likely users are to perceive a comment as toxic.

In turn, that score could be used to develop features like automatic post filteringor to provide users with feedback about what they're writing before they submit it for publication.Starting on Thursday, developers can request access to Perspective's API for use in projects they're working on, and Jigsaw will approve them on a rolling basis.

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50% off Dell UltraSharp U3415W PXF79 34-Inch Curved LED-Lit Monitor - DealAlert

This 34-inch 21:9 curved monitor with a panoramic view, cinematic WQHD resolution and rich sound has just sunk 50% to its best price yet on Amazon, making this a solid deal on the U3415W. Learn more and explore buying options for the U3415W on Amazon.

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5G technology promises to help autonomous cars cruise streets safely

Years from now, your first autonomous car may have a lot of help from 5G wireless networks to navigate the streets safely.

5G will be as important to autonomous cars as 4G has been to mobile phones. The technology will help cars change lanes, recognize signals and draw up accurate maps. 5G will also help vehicles communicate in order to scope out road and weather conditions.

For collision avoidance, 5G will connect cars to cloud services for object recognition. It will also provide a constant link to live TV for backseat passengers to enjoy. Many 5G capabilities for autonomous cars will be on display at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, where Intel and Qualcomm will be showing off their latest technologies.

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