How Congress dismantled federal Internet privacy rules

Congressional Republicans knew their plan was potentially explosive. They wanted to kill landmark privacy regulations that would soon ban Internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, from storing and selling customers’ browsing histories without their express consent.

So after weeks of closed-door debates on Capitol Hill over who would take up the issue first — the House or the Senate — Republican members settled on a secret strategy, according to Hill staff and lobbyists involved in the battle. While the nation was distracted by the House’s pending vote to repeal Obamacare, Senate Republicans would schedule a vote to wipe out the new privacy protections.

On March 23, the measure passed on a straight party-line vote, 50 to 48. Five days later, a majority of House Republicans voted in favor of it, sending it to the White House, where President Trump signed the bill in early April without ceremony or public comment.

“While everyone was focused on the latest headline crisis coming out of the White House, Congress was able to roll back privacy,” said former Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, who worked for nearly two years to pass the rules.

The process to eliminate them took only a matter of weeks. The blowback was immediate.

Constituents heckled several of the lawmakers at town halls. “You sold my privacy up the river!” one person yelled at Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — lead sponsor of the Senate bill — at a gathering in April. Several late-night comedians roasted congressional Republicans: “This is what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. I guarantee you there is not one person, not one voter of any political stripe anywhere in America who asked for this,” Stephen Colbert said.

The quick undoing of the Internet privacy rules has prompted lawmakers in more than a dozen states to propose local laws to restore privacy protections to their constituents.

The FCC privacy rules were among the first of more than a hundred regulations and laws being targeted for elimination or massive overhaul by Trump and Republican members of Congress who want to dismantle Obama-era regulations they view as burdensome.

How the privacy rules came to be undone helps to explain and inform the strategies behind the broader range of Republican initiatives in the works. The rollback of privacy, for example, was the first step by the Republican-led FCC to overhaul Obama-era net neutrality rules .

The rolling crises within Trump’s administration and Republican infighting has slowed Republican lawmakers’ work on Capitol Hill. But they remain positioned to capi­tal­ize on their control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, a power structure that has not existed in more than a decade.

“Trump and the Republicans are doing so many different things on parallel tracks, the news media and activists can’t follow it all,” said Trump adviser and former House speaker Newt Gingrich. “This is by design.”

THE GIF TURNS 30: HOW AN ANCIENT FORMAT CHANGED THE INTERNET

THE WEB’S FAVORITE file format just turned 30. Yep, it turns out the GIF is a millennial, too.

At the same time, 30 makes the GIF ancient in web years, which feels a bit weird, given that the proliferation of animated GIFs is a relatively recent phenomenon. Today, Twitter has a GIF button and even Apple added GIF search to its iOS messaging app. Such mainstream approval would have seemed unthinkable even a decade ago, when GIFs had the cultural cachet of blinking text and embedded MIDI files. But today they’re ubiquitous, and not in some nostalgic sense.

Animated GIFs have transcended their obscure 1990s roots to become a key part of day-to-day digital communication. Some, like Orson Welles clapping or Michael Jackson eating popcorn, have become instantly recognizable shorthand. Others, like Sean Spicer disappearing into the bushes—itself a remix of a popular Simpsons GIF—serve up political satire. The GIF does double duty as both expression and as badge of digital literacy. Not bad for an image standard that pre-dates the web itself.

Spicer-giphy-2.gif

Today GIFs are synonymous with short, looping, animations. But they got their start as a way of displaying still images. Steve Wilhite started work on the Graphics Interchange Format in early 1986. At the time, he was a programmer for Compuserve, an early online service that let users access chat rooms, forums, and information like stock quotes using dial-up modems. Sandy Trevor, Wilhite’s boss at Compuserve, tells WIRED that he wanted to solve two problems.

The first was that Compuserve needed a graphics format that worked on all computers. At the time, the PC market was split between several companies, including Apple, Atari, Commodore, IBM, and Tandy, each with its own way of displaying graphics. Compuserve had used other graphics formats of the era, such as NAPLPS, but Trevor thought they were too complex to implement. So he tasked Wilhite with creating a simple format that would work on any machine.

Second, he wanted Wilhite to create technology that could quickly display sharp images over slow connections. “In the eighties, 1200 baud was high speed,” Trevor says. “Lots of people only had 300 baud modems.” The average broadband connection in the US is more than 40,000 times faster than even those blazing fast 1200 baud connections, so Compuserve needed truly tiny files.

The web’s other major image format, the JPEG, was under development at the time. But it’s better suited for photographs and other images that contain high amounts of detail and won’t suffer from a small amount of distortion. Compuserve needed to display stock quotes, weather maps, and other graphs—simple images that would suffer from having jagged lines. So Wilhite decided to base the GIF on a lossless compression protocol called Lempel–Ziv–Welch, or LZW.

Wilhite finished the first version of the GIF specification on May, 1987, and Compuserve began using the format the next month. This was two years before Sir Tim Berners-Lee announced his World Wide Web project and six years before the Mosiac browser made the web accessible to less technical users. But it was the web that made the GIF what it is today.Image result for The GIF Turns 30: How an Ancient Format Changed the Internet

Under Construction

The GIF was perfect for displaying logos, line art, and charts on the web for all the same reasons that Wilhite first developed the format. And because portions of an image could be transparent, meaning an image could blend into the background or be fit together with other images in interesting ways, it enabled web designers to create more complex layouts. But the most important thing about the format was that Wilhite had the foresight to make it extensible, so that other developers could add custom types of information to GIFs. That enabled the team behind the Netscape browser to create the animated GIF standard in 1995. “I didn’t ask Steve to put in as much extensibility as he did, but I’m glad he did,” Trevor says.

Soon, “under construction” GIFs adorned practically every site on the web. The “Dancing Baby” becoming one the web’s first true viral video sensations. The dancing 7-Up mascot “Cool Spot” also made a unconscionable number of appearances, making it perhaps the first viral #brand GIF.

Baby-giphy-3.gif

The file format also became the center of one of the web’s first patent disputes. In 1994, IT giant Unisys claimed to own the LZW protocol that Wilhite used in the GIF specification. The company threatened to sue anyone who made software that could create or read GIFs without paying for a license. Unisys’s LZW-related patents expired in 2006, but the ordeal of dealing with the company left a lasting impression on Trevor, who now works as a consultant helping tech companies avoid running into patent suits.

The animated GIF epidemic ended about as quickly as it started. As web design professionalized, those under construction GIFs disappeared. Animators and artists, meanwhile, moved on to more sophisticated media like Flash and later HTML5. But the format survived on web forums and sites like 4chan, Reddit, and Tumblr.

Adam Leibsohn, the COO of the GIF search engine Giphy, calls the GIF an “insurgent format.” It enables people to publish moving images in places they weren’t necessarily intended, like someone’s signature on a forum. “The easiest, simplest thing wins,” he says.

As people realized they could stick tiny, looping bits of animation into web-based conversations, GIFs became a new form of expression. Clips of people clapping, slamming their heads on a desk, or dancing replaced text, and new, more artistic GIFs emerged as a form of micro-entertainment. The rise of smartphones made this form of visual communication all the more appealing.

Peggy.gif

“We’ve reduced our shorthand to things like ‘lol’ and ‘wtf’, things that aren’t very expressive,” says David McIntosh, CEO of the GIF search service Tenor. “With GIFs you can express a wide range of emotions.” About 90 percent of the service’s search terms are related to feelings, he says.

It’s hard to say exactly when the GIF re-entered the mainstream web experience. The Nieman Journalism Lab called the 2012 Summer Olympics a “coming-out party” for the animated GIF. That same year, Oxford Dictionaries named “GIF” the word of the year. By early 2013, GIFs were showing up in museums and marketers wanted in. That year Steve Wilhite was awarded a life-time achievement award at the Webbys, where he stirred up a mini-controversy by telling the world that GIF is pronounced like the peanut butter brand Jif, not like “gift.”

At the time, it was easy to see GIFs as a passing fad, a throwback to the 1990s along with the “soft grunge” trend. It seemed like surely something newer like Vine or Snapchat would replace GIFs. But all these years later, Vine is gone and the GIF is still with us.

Part of that success owes itself to web obsessives, who have built up an enormous inventory of GIF files to choose from. When you want to express dismay or joy or any other emotion, all you have to do is go to Tumblr, Giphy, or Tenor and you can find a ready-made loop. You can think of it as an expansive visual vocabulary built over the years.

And while newer formats might bring more options, Tumblr head of creative strategy David Hayes says that the GIF’s technical limitations are actually its strength, not its weakness. After all, artists have long used constraints to spur creativity. “The GIF has constraints that will continue to challenge people,” he says. “You have to make trade-offs with the file size, the frame rate, and the intensity of color.”

Instead of asking what’s next, Hayes says, perhaps we should ask whether the GIF is the end-point for visual language. Let’s give it another 30 years and see what happens.

 

How to travel with babies and young kids

 

It should not be a stressful affair when travelling with your kids, so think positive and smile – you’re on vacation! (illustration: RL)

SINGAPORE: I am a mother of two young children and I’m known for both making travel plans way in advance and jumping on a plane with the kids on a whim for a long weekend somewhere. My little ones already know this as a way of life. In fact, travel has been an intrinsic part of their childhood from when they were only two months old.

Travelling at a young age has also made them adaptable, think quick on their feet and feel comfortable in new environments. In fact, the younger they are, the easier it is to travel. Here’s how.

TRAVELLING WITH BABIES

The first thing to remember about bringing a baby on board a plane is to have exactly what you need and nothing more. You don’t want to carry too many things (especially toys) that you could lose or drop, so I always prefer a streamlined approach.

Invest in a good baby carrier and travel pram. It leaves your hands free and is the best choice for any kind of travel. Carrying heavier babies all day may leave you sweating and achy, so get a foldable stroller with a shoulder sling for city breaks.

Pack only the essentials. Here’s what should go in your baby bag: Some diapers, milk paraphernalia (if Mummy is not nursing), baby wipes and extra change of clothes for baby and parents because accidents happen. Otherwise, don’t bring anything that you can easily acquire at your destination (especially disposables).Image result for How to travel with babies and young kids

Choose your seats well. Not all of us can travel business class all the time. When travelling economy, spend the cash where you may need it. Book the row with the bassinet or seats with a bit more legroom (although I actually prefer to be able to place my bag under the seat in front of me for easy access).

TRAVELLING WITH YOUNG KIDS

Depending on how you see it, you can have fun with older tots and kids on your travels. Once they are able to walk and talk, you can get them to participate a little more on the trip.

Get them involved. Start with simple things like carrying their own backpacks or watching a younger sibling while you check in. Tell them what gate you’re looking for as you walk through the departure hall.

Make them sleep. Make sure they go to the toilet before boarding the plane and before a meal is served. Then use the sleep eye masks on them! Depending on the time difference when you land, you either want your kids to be ready to start the day or for bed. For long-haul travel, sufficient rest is a must to prevent jet lag and keep kids from getting cranky.

Special treats. It could be a book, toy or snack that your kids can enjoy only when they are on holiday. This can distract them from long waiting times. For example, my children are not hooked on gadgets, so watching a movie on the plane becomes something special, plus they never ask for the iPad when we are not on vacation.

Special meals: Always make sure to request for child meals when you are booking the flight (they don’t always come automatically with a child fare for some carriers). Also, remember to ask for a souvenir kids pack; some airlines include quite nifty items like travel shoe bags or bandannas.

Managing expectations. Tell them how much longer they have to spend in the car, train or plane and give them something constructive to do such as drawing the things that they have seen on the trip to give as gifts to their grandparents. For older children, writing in a travel journal is another useful way of integrating learning with holidays.

The top priority when travelling with children is to remember that they are looking to you for model good behaviour. If you are a fussy, frantic traveller, and always complaining to service staff, chances are you kids would be too. If you can make it look easy, then your kids are likely adapt to your style.  So think positive, keep your arms free to hold their hands and smile – you are on vacation!

Ana Ow is a full-time copywriter and freelance writer. Her two children, 8 and 5 years old, have been travelling with her since they were three months old. Places they have been to include the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, Niagara Falls and many others.

 

JEE Advanced Results 2017: How to check the results

 

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2017 conducted on May 21 at various centres. Over 2.2 lakh candidates appeared for the exam consisted of two papers, i.e. Paper 1 and Paper 2.

The results for the same are expected to be declared on June 11 at 10 am.

How to check JEE Advanced Results 2017:

In order to check the results, candidates can follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Go to the official website, jeeadv.nic.in
  • Click on the relevant link
  • Enter the necessary information
  • After submitting the same, the results will be displayed on the screen
  • Take a printout for future use

As reported, the total number of questions (54 questions) remained same as last year. However total marks of Paper-1 has changed from 186 to 183 marks this year.JEE Advanced Results 2017: How to check the results

Paper analysis:

  • The ‘Matching Type’ questions were different as compared to previous years
  • The coverage of questions from class 12 vs Class 11 was 50: 50
  • Further, equal weightage was given to class 11 and 12
  • Last year more weightage was given to 12 (60:40).

India Today Education team wishing students good luck for their results

 

How to take amazing summer travel photos – by the experts

 

Rajveer splits her time between France and Italy, and her native Australia. She loves busy beach images, preferring the reality of “crowds and beach towels to get a playful shot”. Dutch photographer Claire, who has more than 300,000 Instagram followers, prefers still landscapes, including empty beaches. Both share tips on how to make the most of sun, sand, and sea.

Rajveer: My beach photographs aim to evoke the thrill of summer beside the seaside. To capture action keep looking around; ensure your camera is ready to shoot – and remember to ask permission before publishing photos that feature other people when possible.

Beach and town. Positano, Italy. Photograph: Rajveer Johal

 RJ: I love Positano! Frame your shot to capture vibrant colours. Whether it’s beach towels, umbrellas or the buildings/landscape, take advantage of the colours on offer. Take the photograph along the beach or back in towards the shore.

RJ: When searching for a backdrop look for something that gives a sense of where you are – and ensure the colours compliment your outfit!

Claire Droppert: Renaissance Beach, Aruba, is an Instagrammers’ favourite for its white sands and pink flamingos. On a bright, sunny day it can be difficult to get a good shot: try using polarised sunglasses by holding them in front of your lens, and turning them a bit. I had to wait patiently for this shot, allowing for the wave to roll in – it wasn’t a bad place to wait.

  • CD: Look for interesting features – it could be a boat on the water, a lighthouse, or a pier. Often, capturing a subject from a higher viewpoint maximises the opportunities presented by the wide open spaces of the beach and sky. I climbed a sand dune to get this shot at Rubjerg Knude, Denmark.

In the city

by Sezgi Olgac

Sezgi is a Turkish photographer based in Istanbul. She joined Instagram when it launched in 2010, has taken photos every day since and now has 158,000 followers. Three years ago Sezgi became a professional photographer, specialising in creating social media content. She says: “Cities are like my playground – and they are best in summer when days are longer, the sky is blue and the trees are in bloom.”

Sezgi Olgac: Be ready! A beautiful moment may be fleeting; always have your camera with you and double check your settings. Be patient. The more you shoot, the more likely you’ll get the best result. I took more than 20 shots of boys jumping off Galata Bridge, in the Karaköy area of Istanbul, and this was the best.

SO: Noon is a time most photographers avoid … but you can take advantage of it. Observe the light and focus on the shadows around you. Cities are not just concrete walls and grey skylines. Keep your eyes open for colourful walls, houses or shop fronts that might create excellent backdrops. Mexico City, where I took the shot above, is filled with bright pinks, yellows and blues.

  • SO: Adding foreground detail – such as flowers or trees – can help create a unique image. Get closer to the flowers or trees to frame your photo as I did in this shot on Kastellorizo in Greece, less than a mile from the Turkish coast.

On the road

by Jillian Mann and Kyla Trethewey

In 2013, best friends Jill and Kyla sold everything and set off on a road trip. They are still going, living out of their restored vintage trailer in the US, and beyond. Currently, they are melting in the Texas heat. Their ourwildabandon.com blog and Instagram account, which has 133,000 followers, document their life “on the run”.

Jillian Mann: When you’re travelling, and already in motion, make sure to capture those moments. Think in terms of exciting and dynamic shots. Check, and also experiment with, shutter speeds: a faster speed will freeze the motion, slow the shutter to achieve motion blur. We took the above shot of our friend near Yosemite, California.

Kyla Trethewey: Interact with your environment. We love to place a subject within a scene, allowing us to share an immersive experience as well as illustrate the scale of where we have found ourselves. In this case, it was Monument Valley, Utah. A centred composition is an effective way to frame your subject but play around with it, see what has the most impact.

  • JM: It’s essential in travel photography to show where you are – and what you’re doing there. Pick a strong focal point or use natural lines to draw the eye to where you want it to go, like hills into a valley – seen above at Independence Pass in Colorado. Consider the foreground as well as the background, they can be equally important in landscape photography. Time of day is also relevant: locations look different depending on the hour, and the position of the sun.

At sunset

by Darin Tang

Darin is a Los Angeles-based photographer who enjoys shooting at the beach. His popular Instagram feed has 71,300 followers and perfectly captures balmy Californian evenings by the sea.

Basketball scene, California.Photograph: Darin Tang

  • Darin Tang: My favourite time of day to shoot shadows is right before the sun sets. Here, the players’ long shadows made a perfect path that leads the eye to the action and also meets the setting sun. If you include people in your photos, and are close up to them, ensure you ask for their permission.

Venice Beach, California.
Photograph: Darin Tang

 DT: Sunset doesn’t have to mean silhouettes against an orange backdrop. In this shot, the colours of the famous graffiti palm trees in Venice Beach compliment the colours created by the setting sun. Hang around for a while: you don’t want to watch the sky light up with colours while you’re driving from the beach.

Photograph: Darin Tang

 DT: This classic surfer shot was taken at Venice Beach. Lighting is the most important thing to consider when taking a reflection photo. Here, I positioned my camera down low, almost touching the water. This allowed me to capture the full reflection of the surfers.

 

How BlackBerry (BBRY) Stock Stands Out in a Strong Industry

 

One stock that might be an intriguing choice for investors right now is BlackBerry LimitedBBRY. This is because this security in the Wireless Non-US space is seeing solid earnings estimate revision activity, and is in great company from a Zacks Industry Rank perspective.

This is important because, often times, a rising tide will lift all boats in an industry, as there can be broad trends taking place in a segment that are boosting securities across the board. This is arguably taking place in the Wireless Non-US space as it currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 69 out of more than 250 industries, suggesting it is well-positioned from this perspective, especially when compared to other segments out there.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry is actually looking pretty good on its own too. The firm has seen solid earnings estimate revision activity over the past month, suggesting analysts are becoming a bit more bullish on the firm’s prospects in both the short and long term.

BlackBerry Limited Price and Consensus

BlackBerry Limited Price and Consensus | BlackBerry Limited Quote

In fact, over the past month, current quarter estimates have remained unchanged at a loss of 1 penny, while current year estimates have risen from a loss of 5 cents per share to a loss of 4 cents per share. This has helped BBRY to earn a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), further underscoring the company’s solid position. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

So, if you are looking for a decent pick in a strong industry, consider BlackBerry. Not only is its industry currently in the top third, but it is seeing solid estimate revisions as of late, suggesting it could be a very interesting choice for investors seeking a name in this great industry segment.

5 Trades Could Profit “Big-League” from Trump Policies

If the stocks above spark your interest, wait until you look into companies primed to make substantial gains from Washington’s changing course.

Today Zacks reveals 5 tickers that could benefit from new trends like streamlined drug approvals, tariffs, lower taxes, higher interest rates, and spending surges in defense and infrastructure.

How to download YouTube videos: 4 things you need to know

Sure, it’s easy to download videos from YouTube, but doing it legally is another proposition. While there’s no law that specifically says you can’t download videos from YouTube for free, YouTube’s rules are very clear.

Before you start downloading YouTube videos, read on for four things you need to know, starting with…

There’s only one 100-percent legit way to download videos from YouTube

If you want to download YouTube videos confident in the knowledge that you’re on the right side of the law, there’s just one way to do it: by signing up for YouTube Red.

Among other benefits (including ad-free videos, original shows and unlimited music streaming), YouTube’s $10-a-month Red subscription service lets you save any YouTube video for offline viewing.

A couple of key restrictions apply when it comes to “offline” YouTube viewing. For starters, you can download YouTube videos only by using the YouTube app for Android and iOS. No PC or Mac downloads are allowed.

Saved YouTube videos will disappear after 30 days, and some videos may not be available for download at all depending on the decision of the content uploaders. Once your Red subscription expires, so will all your saved YouTube videos.

YouTube Red

Ben Patterson / IDG

The “offline” videos you save using YouTube Red will (typically) expire after 30 days.

While there are strings attached when it comes to downloading YouTube videos via YouTube Red, at least you’ll be able to do so without worrying that you’ve broken the law.

YouTube explicitly forbids the downloading of any YouTube videos outside of its Red service

The moment you start watching YouTube videos, you put yourself at the mercy of its “terms of service,” which reads (in part):

How to play PC games on your smartphone?

 

PC games are more resource intensive and take up more space.

Cross-platform gaming is still in a nascent stage. Most attempts at it have been unsuccessful. The few options include the Bluetsacks emulator, which allows Android games on PCs, and Sony’s Play Station Now platform, which can run PS3 games on a Windows PC.

But getting a PC game to run on a smartphone is a different ball game, as PC games are more resource intensive and take up more space.

Cloud gaming companies such as OnLive have tried and failed at it. Now a New York, US-based gaming company LiquidSky has come with a cloud-based app which can run any PC game on your smartphone and surprisingly you don’t need a OnePlus 5-like device to run it.

The minimum system requirement for the smartphone is just 1GB RAM and 30MB of storage. The games will be downloaded on cloud, so you don’t have to worry about the storage on your smartphone at all.

LiquidSky recommends wired controllers for the best gaming experience.LiquidSky recommends wired controllers for the best gaming experience.

Needs steady internet connection

However, it requires an active internet connection with minimum bandwidth speed of 5Mbps and recommended speed of up to 20Mbps for the best gaming experience. Online gaming is not new to the mobile ecosystem. Many Android games require active internet connection to work, however getting the 20Mbps mark consistently is going to be a challenge, especially on mobile networks in India. This makes it heavily dependent on WiFi networks.

How does it work?

Liquid Sky works by connecting smartphones to a virtual PC running on cloud. The actual game will be downloaded and run on a remote server, which will then compress and stream the game on users’ smartphone at frame rate of 60fps.

LiquidSky is available only for Android devices right now.LiquidSky is available only for Android devices right now.

Once users sign up in the app, and take a subscription plan, they can browse and download any games from their existing library of purchased games or buy new ones on Steam, GOG, Origin, Blizzard or Humble Bumble. These are online stores for PC games and their API (application programme interface) is built into the app, so one doesn’t have to download their apps separately.

How much does it cost?

LiquidSky is available only for Android devices right now and can be downloaded from the Google Play Store (there is no news on the iOS app yet). Users in India can download it for free but to access the games, one of the subscriptions is required. Basic Pay-as-you-go plan starts at $9.99 (approximately Rs644) and provides 100GB of storage.

The monthly subscription, which offers 500GB of cloud storage and the option to change data centres, starts at $19.99 (approximately Rs1,289) per month. There is a free model too, with in-app advertisements and 100GB storage, but its only available to users in the US and Canada.PC games are more resource intensive and take up more space.

How is it different?

LiquidSky uses IBM’s public cloud infrastructure which is more robust, easy to scale and has got data centres spread across the globe. One of the reasons for the failure of services such as OnLive was that it used its own servers to host the games and was unable to put up with the cost. Also, they failed to acquire top-tier games form leading game developers such as EA Sports and Activision.

The biggest highlight of Liquid Sky is that you can purchase, download and play any PC game that is available on one of the linked game stores.

Why do you need controllers?

Technically. PC games are not designed for touchscreen devices. You need a controller or a mouse and keyboard to play them. Smartphone users won’t be able to run them through on-screen controls and will require a compatible Android controller, which can be connected to the phone with an OTG cable or wirelessly over Bluetooth. LiquidSky recommends wired controllers for the best gaming experience.

 

Killing Cortana: How to disable Windows 10’s info-hungry digital assistant

 

Killing Cortana isn’t as easy as it used to be.

When Windows 10 first released, turning off Cortana was as simple as flipping a switch in the digital assistant’s settings, but Microsoft removed the option in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Now there’s no obvious way to disable Cortana—but it is possible using not-so-obvious methods.

Completely eradicating Cortana requires a quick and easy registry edit, which we’ll detail here. If you don’t want Cortana spying on you but also detest the idea of mucking with your PC’s deepest software innards, PCWorld’s guide to privacy-boosting Cortana tweaks can show you how to limit the personal information it sends Microsoft. Cortana will still run in the background with limited functionality if you don’t perform the registry edit, though.

How to turn off Cortana in Windows 10

Hold your horses! As simple as this is, it’s always a good idea to create a system restore point before editing the Windows registry—so go ahead and do that now. It only takes a minute. (Ironically, the easiest way to do so is to search for “restore point” with Cortana.)

With that out of the way, let’s start registry hacking.

regedit

Brad Chacos/IDG

Press Windows Key simultaneously on your keyboard to bring up the Run interface, then type regedit into the box and press Enter. Depending on your security settings you may be prompted to give Windows permission to run the Registry Editor. If so, do so.

Once the Registry Editor is open, navigate to the following folder in the left-hand navigation pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Software > Policies > Microsoft > Windows > Windows Search.

new key

Brad Chacos/IDG

Here’s the only potentially tricky part: You might not see a Windows Search folder. If it isn’t there, right-click the Windows folder, select New > Key, and name it Windows Search.

dword value 2

Brad Chacos/IDG

With the Windows Search folder selected in the left-hand navigation pane, right-click in the main portion of the window and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. A new listing will appear in the main pane, ready to be named; christen it AllowCortana. Afterward, double-click it and in the box that appears, ensure that the Value Data is set to ‘0’—minus the quotation marks.

allowcortana 2

Brad Chacos/IDG

That’s it! Close the Registry Editor, then sign out of Windows 10. When you sign back in, Cortana will be long gone. The digital assistant’s former field remains in the Windows 10 task bar, but it now reads “Search Windows” and tellingly lacks Cortana’s all-seeing eye icon.

You won’t be able to use any Cortana-enabled features in the dumbed-down search field, like setting reminders, getting personalized news, receiving up-to-date travel info, or asking goofy questions. You will be able to search for files, system settings, and terms as before. That said, you won’t be able to tap Cortana’s smarts to perform natural language queries like “Find pictures from June” either, so narrowing down file search results may take a bit more work.

adios cortana

Brad Chacos/IDG

Adios, Cortana.

Speaking of which, wiping Cortana’s previous memories of you from Microsoft’s servers takes an extra step. Head to Microsoft’s privacy dashboard website, sign into your Microsoft account, and clear whatever personal data you want Microsoft to forget. Be warned: Your choices may also affect other Microsoft services, like Bing, Edge, and Maps.

Cortana isn’t totally dead, though. You’ll still see the process lurking in Task Manager if you pay attention. Kill it and it’ll immediately spring back to life. Your search queries nevertheless stay strictly local.

If you ever decide resummon Cortana, simply retrace your steps in the Registry Editor and either delete the AllowCortana value, or simply set it to “1” instead of “0.”

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Samsung may have lied about how fast the Galaxy S8’s storage really is

 

The Galaxy S8 is a phone that’s supposed to double down on quality, since it’s the first flagship to come out after last year’s Galaxy Note 7 disaster. So far, there have not been any major issues with the handset, although Galaxy S8 users have witnessed various minor problems with the phone such as the screen’s red tint, Wi-Fi connectivity troubles, and unexpected restarts. But now, a new report indicates that Samsung may have been lying to you about one of the phone’s most important components.

The Galaxy S8 features built-in UFS 2.1 storage, which is Samsung’s fastest flash storage for mobile devices. However, SamMobile discovered that Samsung has quietly removed the mention of UFS 2.1 storage from the Galaxy S8’s specifications page. Initially, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 page said the Galaxy S8 phones ship with UFS 2.1 storage, although a fine print said that storage “may differ by country and carrier.” Samsung has since removed the UFS 2.1 mention completely.Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus Specs

Galaxy S8 buyers posting on xda-developers discovered that the Galaxy S8 version that is powered by the Snapdragon 835 processor gets slower UFS 2.0 storage. Yes, that’s the US version of Samsung’s new flagship phone, which we’ve already seen is slower than the global model.

SamMobile adds that the UFS 2.1 storage delivers 800MB/s sequential read speeds, which is 300MB/s quicker than UFS 2.0’s performance. That’s not to say you’ll notice any performance issues with UFS 2.0 memory during regular use. After all, previous Galaxy S versions also shipped with UFS 2.0 storage on board.

But it doesn’t mean that Samsung should be able to quietly change that particular detail, especially since many people reporting on and/or reviewing the phone may have delivered wrong information about the phone — that it sports high-speed UFS 2.1 storage when that’s not always the case.

Samsung isn’t the only company to have been caught lying about a phone’s specs. In fact just a few weeks ago, Huawei had to publicly address similar criticism. The company’s CEO Richard Yu explained that the company used slower eMMC flash and high-speed UFS storage in the Huawei P10 because of component shortages. However, the Chinese smartphone maker also advertised its latest smartphone as a device that would deliver speedy UFS storage, before removing the mention of UFS memory from its website.