Google Assistant Can Now Be Used to Share the Wealth!

Pay Off!Pay off your friends!

You can finally send money to your contacts by asking Google Assistant

The Verge – By: Dieter Bohn – “Google is rolling out the ability to send peer-to-peer payments with Google Assistant. Starting today (only in the US), iPhone and Android users can say something like ‘Send Lauren $2,’ and Assistant will take you through the steps to send the money via Google Pay. Your recipient will also need to set up Google Pay to receive the funds.

In January of this year, Google finally ended the Google Wallet / Android Pay confusion by merging them into the Google Pay system. Although, the confusion still exists: for the next few months, there will still be a separate ‘Google Pay Send’ app for peer-to-peer payments.

But you don’t have to understand the weird history of Google Pay to use the new feature in Assistant. If you’ve ever sent money via the little $ button in Gmail, you likely already have a Google Pay account set up, and so you will be able to use Google Pay inside Google Assistant.

If you don’t have a Google Pay account, you’ll be prompted to set one up the first time you ask to send money. Transactions with Assistant will still require authentication beyond just your voiceprint to send money — either with your fingerprint or your Google password.

Google says that payments via the Google Home smart speaker will also be available ‘in the coming months.’ It’s not clear what kind of authentication or confirmation will be required to send money if you’re just talking to a speaker.

Although Google announced a Google Payment API for Assistant last May, it’s only now arriving, but the Google Pay rebranding has helped pick up that momentum. In addition to this recent feature, Google has recently managed to set up transit payments and payments to stores inside Assistant.

The Assistant peer-to-peer payment system is a rare case where Google has been behind Apple in an intelligent assistant feature. Right now in Siri, you can ask to send somebody money, and you’ll be asked if you’d like to use Apple Pay, Venmo, or Square Cash. As of today, Google Assistant can only use Google Pay.”

Mozilla Drops Facebook

Mozilla Pulls Advertising from Facebook

Slashdot – “An anonymous reader shares a report:

Mozilla is not happy with Facebook. Not happy at all. Having already started a petition to try to force the social network to do more about user privacy, the company has now decided to withdraw its advertising from the platform. The organization is voting with its money following the misuse of user data by Cambridge Analytica, as it tries to force Facebook into taking privacy more seriously. Mozilla says that it is not happy to financially support a platform that does not do enough to protect user privacy. But the company is not severing ties completely. It says that advertising is being “paused” and that if the right steps are taken by Facebook ‘we’ll consider returning.'”

Geek Software of the Week: Autoruns for Windows!

AutorunsThis utility, by the venerable Mark Russinovich himself, is handy to control your Windows startup autorun programs!

Autoruns for Windows


This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and when you start various built-in Windows applications like Internet Explorer, Explorer and media players. These programs and drivers include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. Autoruns reports Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond other autostart utilities.

Autoruns’ Hide Signed Microsoft Entries option helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting images that have been added to your system and it has support for looking at the auto-starting images configured for other accounts configured on a system. Also included in the download package is a command-line equivalent that can output in CSV format, Autorunsc.

You’ll probably be surprised at how many executables are launched automatically!


Simply run Autoruns and it shows you the currently configured auto-start applications as well as the full list of Registry and file system locations available for auto-start configuration. Autostart locations displayed by Autoruns include logon entries, Explorer add-ons, Internet Explorer add-ons including Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), Appinit DLLs, image hijacks, boot execute images, Winlogon notification DLLs, Windows Services and Winsock Layered Service Providers, media codecs, and more. Switch tabs to view autostarts from different categories.

To view the properties of an executable configured to run automatically, select it and use the Properties menu item or toolbar button. If Process Explorer is running and there is an active process executing the selected executable then the Process Explorer menu item in the Entry menu will open the process properties dialog box for the process executing the selected image.

Navigate to the Registry or file system location displayed or the configuration of an auto-start item by selecting the item and using the Jump to Entry menu item or toolbar button, and navigate to the location of an autostart image.

To disable an auto-start entry uncheck its check box. To delete an auto-start configuration entry use the Delete menu item or toolbar button.

The Options menu includes several display filtering options, such as only showing non-Windows entries, as well as access to a scan options dialog from where you can enable signature verification and Virus Total hash and file submission.

Select entries in the User menu to view auto-starting images for different user accounts.

More information on display options and additional information is available in the on-line help.”

Google Chrome Will Block Auto-Play Video

It is finally really going to happen!

Chrome 66 to finally gain the ability to block autoplaying video content

NeoWin – By: Boyd Chan – “Earlier this month we saw the public release of Google Chrome 65 just a couple of months after its predecessor. Despite a slew of refinements over these last couple of browser versions, including improved pop-up blocking, one highly anticipated feature was notably absent, specifically the measure to tackle autoplay videos. The feature had been scheduled for release in Chrome 64 after having been foreshadowed in September last year but now it appears that it will soon see the light of day.

It’s worth restating that the feature won’t stop all videos from autoplaying, as per Google’s original outline, such as muted or video-only content. or if you’ve indicated an interest in the site by clicking on the site during the current session. The implementation will harmonize the behavior of how video content is handled by Chrome on both mobile and desktop. However, if you still find specific websites audibly annoying, you can permanently mute them with your preference persisting between sessions.

Chrome 66 is already in the Beta channel and is expected to hit the Stable channel somewhere around April 17, 2018. The forthcoming version of the browser will also revoke trust of certificates previously issued by Symantec before June 1, 2016, following the leak of private keys that compromised the security of up to 23,000 certificates.

Source: Google via The Verge”

Google Android Wear is Now Wear OS

Wear OSFrom OS News:

“Google renames Android Wear to Wear OS

As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we’re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all – the people who wear our watches. We’re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.

If a company changes the name of one of its operating system, but nobody cares – has the name really been changed?”

YouTube Bans Some Gun Videos

Gun VideosLooking for reviews and info on guns, YouTube may not be the place to go much longer…

YouTube to Ban Videos Promoting Gun Sales

New York Times – By: Niray Chokshi – “YouTube said this week that it would tighten restrictions on some firearm videos, its latest policy announcement since coming under scrutiny following last month’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

The video-streaming service, which is owned by Google, said it would ban videos that promote either the construction or sale of firearms and their accessories. The new policy, developed with expert advice over the past four months, will go into effect next month, it said.

‘While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories, specifically, items like ammunition, gatling triggers, and drop-in auto sears,’ YouTube said in a statement.

YouTube, which described the move as part of ‘regular changes’ to policy, notified users in a Monday forum post. The company had previously banned videos showing how to make firearms discharge faster, a technique used by the gunman who killed 58 people in Las Vegas last fall.

The announcement comes days before planned student-led protests against gun violence on Saturday. It was met with frustration from gun rights advocates.

‘Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square,’ the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a private group representing gun makers, said in a statement. ‘The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment.’

The policy shift comes as YouTube and other technology platforms face increased scrutiny after the Parkland shooting, in which 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Days after that massacre, a video promoting a baseless conspiracy about a shooting survivor became the top-trending video on YouTube, prompting a crackdown on such videos. YouTube’s chief executive also said that the platform planned to fight misinformation by working in partnership with Wikipedia, the nonprofit user-run online encyclopedia. But Wikipedia said it knew nothing about that plan.

Other businesses have also made changes amid growing pressure following the Parkland attack.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Kroger all raised the age limit for firearm purchases to 21. The retail chains REI and Mountain Equipment Co-op suspended orders of some popular products because the company that owns those brands, Vista Outdoor, also manufactures assault-style rifles.

In 2016, Facebook announced a ban on private gun sales on its flagship website as well as on Instagram, the photo-sharing social network it owns. Anti-gun activists have complained that sellers still found ways around Facebook’s ban.”

A Smoke Alarm That Doesn’t Detect Smoke?

Smoke DetectorOK, this is embarrassing!

Dumb Smoke Alarm Recalled Because It Can’t Even Detect Smoke

Gizmodo – By: Adam Clark Estes – “If you own a Kidde smoke detector, you might want to inspect it. The company just issued a recall on nearly 500,000 smoke detectors that, sadly, did not detect smoke. The Kidde PI2010 and the Kidde PI9010 are the models affected by the recall.

The situation is definitely dangerous for half a million smoke detector owners. It appears that Kidde or one of its partners simply failed to remove a part of the smoke detector that blocks the smoke detector from detecting smoke. Said part is a yellow cap that may or may not be present in the smoke detector you own.

So check out your own situation. If your smoke detector is called Kidde and it also has this yellow part, you might be in trouble. CPSC recommends you contact Kidde, which can provide you with a replacement alarm that isn’t worthless.”

Huawei Hurt by Trade War

HuaweiBest Buy will stop selling Huawei Phones.

Huawei dealt a blow, loses Best Buy as smartphone retailer

c|net – By: Roger Cheng – “It’s going to get harder for Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to sell its smartphones in the US.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics retailer, has ceased ordering new smartphones from Huawei and will stop selling its products over the next few weeks, according to a person familiar with the situation. Best Buy made the decision to end the relationship, the person said.

‘We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons,’ said a Best Buy spokeswoman.

A Huawei spokeswoman called Best Buy a valued partner. But ‘as a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships,’ she said.

The move is a critical blow to Huawei, which is the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor behind Apple and Samsung but has struggled to establish any presence in the US. Best Buy was one of Huawei’s biggest retail partners, and one of the rare places you could see its unlocked smartphones in person. Huawei’s Android-powered phones aren’t sold by any US carriers, which is how a majority of Americans typically buy their phones.

Global Data analyst Avi Greengart called it ‘devastating for Huawei.’

Huawei was widely expected to announce a partnership with AT&T in January at CES to carry the Mate 10 Pro smartphone, but the carrier reportedly backed out because of political pressure. A few days later, Verizon reportedly nixed its own plans to sell Huawei phones. Instead, Richard Yu, CEO of the company’s consumer business, spent his time talking about the phones, which were already in the market elsewhere, as well as touting the Porsche Design variant of the smartphone.

While on stage during his CES keynote in January, Yu acknowledged that the lack of a carrier partner hurt, but said that it was ‘a bigger blow to consumers’ who lose out on a strong alternative for an Android phone in the Mate 10 Pro. CNET editor Andrew Hoyle called it ‘a beautiful, big-screen bruiser’ that earns its place among other high-end smartphones. The Mate’s features include a front-facing camera that can shoot portrait mode-style photos and that has a beefy 4,000 mAh battery.

AT&T declined to comment on the reports, but noted it has never publicly committed to selling a Huawei phone. Verizon couldn’t be reached for comment but has previously declined to weigh in on the matter.

Security concerns have long dogged Huawei in the US. In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Huawei and fellow Chinese vendor ZTE of making telecommunications equipment that posed national security threats, and lawmakers banned US companies from buying the gear. Sprint, for instance, has earlier considered using Huawei to supply equipment to its network, but opted not to work with the company.

Following the report’s release, the committee stressed that the report didn’t refer to its smartphones.

Huawei had spent the last few years slowly building a fan base by selling unlocked phones through retailers like Best Buy, Amazon and Newegg. But most US consumers have still never heard of the company — or even know how to pronounce its name.

The tolerance for its smartphones has changed in the last few months. Following the reports of political pressure exerted in January, the directors of the FBI, CIA and NSA all expressed their concerns about the risks posed by Huawei and ZTE phones during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month.

Huawei, for its part, has noted that its products — both telecom equipment and phones — are sold elsewhere around the world and with different global companies.

‘Our products and solutions are used by major carriers, Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of millions of consumers in more than 170 countries around the world,’ said a Huawei spokesman. ‘We have earned the trust of our partners across the global value chain.'”

Zuck Apologizes for Facebook!

Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes For the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Says He Isn’t Opposed To Regulation

Mark ZuckerbergVia SlashDot, from The Verge – “An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:

Mark Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday evening for his company’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. “This was a major breach of trust and I’m really sorry this happened,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Zuckerberg’s comments reflected the first time he apologized following an uproar over how Facebook allowed third-party developers to access user data. Earlier in the day, Zuckerberg wrote a Facebook post in which he said the company had made mistakes in its handling of the Cambridge Analytica data revelations. The company laid out a multipart plan designed to reduce the amount of data shared by users with outside developers, and said it would audit some developers who had access to large troves of data before earlier restrictions were implemented in 2014.

Zuckerberg also told CNN that he is not totally opposed to regulation. ‘I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” he said. “There are things like ad transparency regulation that I would love to see.’

Other highlights of Zuckerberg’s interviews:
-He told multiple outlets that he would be willing to testify before Congress.
-He said the company would notify everyone whose data was improperly used.
-He told the New York Times that Facebook would double its security force this year, adding: ‘We’ll have more than 20,000 people working on security and community operations by the end of the year, I think we have about 15,000 now.’
-He told the Times that Facebook would investigate ‘thousands’ of apps to determine whether they had abused their access to user data.

Regarding moderation, Zuckerberg told Recode: ‘[The] thing is like, ‘Where’s the line on hate speech?’ I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?’ Zuckerberg said. ‘I guess I have to, because of where we are now, but I’d rather not.'”

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