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07 Oct 2021

Facebook ends 'WFH forever' rule after mega outage

The era of hybrid working may be at an end for Facebook employees after the company announced a full return to the office.

Having previously offered a "WFH forever" approach, the social media giant has now told employees three months to get back to the office.

The news comes days after Facebook suffered a major outage, which the company apparently believes would have been a lot less devastating had people been in its American headquarters.

The outage didn't just take down Facebook's website, along with Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, but it also affected company resources.

Some reports claimed company keycards were also knocked offline, meaning employees were unable to gain access to the offices or the server rooms - with some claiming employees were forced to, quite literally, break in.

Now, Facebook is pointing the finger at remote working. 

That doesn’t mean it will abandon the practice for good, but it does mean that not everyone will have the opportunity to fully work from home anymore. Those who will still want to work remotely after the incident will need to submit a formal request and receive permission to do so. 

Relying on internal servers

The need to request such permission also reportedly applies to employees who were offered pay cuts in return for staying at home.

This is in line with what other tech giants have introduced - with Google employees now having to apply to work from home, while both Amazon and Apple expect the bulk of their workforce to return to the office in January 2022.

Explaining what happened, Facebook said the outage was caused by 'configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers.' 

The outage lasted for seven hours, also knocking out businesses who rely on Facebook and Instagram.

Via: Daily Mail

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07 Oct 2021

Phrozen announces the highest-resolution 3D printer to ever hit the commercial market

Phrozen, one of the world’s top manufacturers of 3D printers, has announced the Sonic 8K mini, a resin-based LCD printer with the highest resolution ever seen on a commercially available machine. 

As the name would imply, this printer's 8K resolution can achieve crisp details at even the smallest sizes, with an XY resolution of 1152 PPI (or 22 Microns), making it fantastic for tabletop miniatures and prototyping products like jewellery.

While still being classed as a compact-sized printer, you’re getting a decent screen size of 7.1-inches, alongside other benefits like a solid metal resin vat and a 3.5-inch touch display panel. 

A bust of a man printed on the Phrozen Sonic 8K Mini

(Image credit: Phrozen)

The Phrozen Sonic 8K Mini is almost here

There are plenty of 3D printers on the market right now, but developments within the making space are coming thick and fast. If you’re on the market for something that can achieve extremely fine detail then you’ll be navigated towards resin-based printers (often called LCD, SLA or DLP dependant on what type of technology is being used), rather than filament (or FDM) printers thanks to their ability to pick up details without noticeable print lines.

The Sonic 8K looks to be especially capable of not only getting in teeny details on prints but also smooth surfaces without any noticeable layer lines which can reduce post-processing time for sanding or priming.

The early bird price for the Sonic Mini 8K will be $349.99 (around £260 / AU$480) with the original price set at $599.99 (around £440 / AU$820), and will be available to preorder over on the Phrozen website from October 17, though you’ll need to sign up for email alerts to get the notification regarding when preorders go live if you’re keen to get that early bird deal.

Phrozen Sonic 8K Mini specifications

The specifications and dimensions of the Phrozen Sonic 8K Mini are as follows:

  • Build Volume: 165  x 72 x 180 mm
  • Layer Height: 0.01mm
  • XY Resolution:  22 microns (7680 × 4320 pixels)
  • Printing Speed: 80mm an hour
  • Bed-Leveling: N/A
  • Display: 3.5-inch touchscreen
  • Third-Party Materials: Yes
  • Materials: Specialist 8K UV resin
  • Printer size: 290 x 290 x 420 mm
  • Weight: 15kg

The difference in detail of a print from a 4K printer against the Phrozen Sonic 8K Mini

(Image credit: Phrozen)

Phrozen is also launching a specialized 8K resin alongside the Sonic 8K, dubbed the Phrozen Aqua-Gray 8K Resin. 

It’s not clear if this will be available in other colors going forwards but Gray is a fantastic base for almost every project and prototype anyway that can better display the details of your print than solid black or white.

“With the launch of Sonic Mini 8K, customers can now create extremely high-quality professional prints in 8K resolution effortlessly,” says Ray Wu, the CEO of Phrozen. “We aim to expand the accessibility of LCD 3D printing by continuing to create consumer-friendly and high-resolution 3D printers for the masses so that everyone can experience the joy of 3D printing.”

If you’re especially keen to know more then Phrozen has a Facebook group where it provides more exclusive information to group members, which may prove useful if you’re looking to get yourself to the head of the queue.

Read more...
07 Oct 2021

All your Twitch data is safe following hack - at least for now

Gaming streaming platform Twitch has moved to reassure its users that their personal information and data is safe following a huge leak affecting the company.

In a blog post, the company outlined what it knows about the "Twitch Security Incident" that reportedly saw all its internal source code and data leaked online.

And despite earlier worries, Twitch has reassured users that their personally identifiable information (PII) was not affected by the hack, meaning details such as names, addresses and credit card information are all safe - although there are still fears that the hacker could have this information in their possession.

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Some Twitch users have reported being asked to change their passwords for the service, but the company has not issued a blanket request to do so just yet.

Part two?

"We have learned that some data was exposed to the internet due to an error in a Twitch server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party," the Twitch blog post read. "Our teams are working with urgency to investigate the incident."

"As the investigation is ongoing, we are still in the process of understanding the impact in detail. We understand that this situation raises concerns, and we want to address some of those here while our investigation continues."

"At this time, we have no indication that login credentials have been exposed. We are continuing to investigate."

The company noted that it had reset all stream keys, with users available to get new details via the blog post. Depending on which broadcast software you use, you may need to manually update your software with this new key to start your next stream, Twitch added.

Twitch emphasises that full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so this data was not exposed.

The details of the hack are still emerging, however Twitch's admission that the leake was due to an internal misconfiguration appears to imply that the attack was malicious and external.

The leak, posted to 4chan as a torrent estimated at around 125GB in size, was labelled as "part one", suggesting that further data could still be released in the future.

The data was supposedly obtained just days ago, with the hacker claiming Twitch was aware of the leak - which is thought to contain a range of confidential product roadmaps. 

The torrent also includes the proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services used by the platform, as well as data from all other Twitch-owned properties including IGDB and CurseForge, and lots more.

Read more...
07 Oct 2021

Twitch hack reveals Amazon’s Steam rival could be cheekily named Vapour

The big Twitch hack that just happened also came with an interesting revelation in the form of leaked details that seem to indicate that Amazon (which owns Twitch) is building a Steam rival.

The would-be online games store is codenamed Vapour (or Vapor) – presumably a cheeky dig at Steam rather than a serious candidate for a final name – and according to the info spilled in the hack, it’ll integrate Twitch features as you might expect. This was uncovered by data miner Sinoc on Twitter.

See more

Think of Twitch but with a built-in games platform where you can buy the latest titles, and have your games library in the same place that you do all your stream viewing.

Sinoc also discovered code for what’s apparently an app by the name of ‘Vapeworld’, which would appear to be some kind of VR chat app complete with various assets including 3D emotes. Presumably this could be integrated with Vapor within Twitch, given the reference in the name.

The (claimed) presence of this stuff in the leaked material does not necessarily mean it’s anything beyond concepts and potential ideas for the future, of course.


Analysis: Could this happen, or is it likely to be Vapourware?

Vapour – or whatever it may end up being called, if anything ever comes of it – makes sense from Amazon’s point of view, given that Twitch represents an instant community as a purchasing audience on tap. With some clever strategy – and exclusive games or content, maybe – it’s not difficult to imagine how this could be a way of very quickly building a compelling rival to Steam.

Such a platform would, of course, add to Amazon’s gaming strengths, with Prime Gaming (previously Twitch Prime) already offering free in-game goodies (and freebie games for that matter).

Whether Vapour will end up on the pile as a missed (or perhaps that should be ‘mist’) opportunity, or if it’ll actually ever come to anything, obviously remains to be seen. Although PC Gamer, which spotted the above tweet, points out a piece of evidence which seemingly reinforces the likeliness – namely an Amazon patent filing from 2017 describing an interface for ‘joining games from a spectating system’, with the ability to ‘order, purchase, or otherwise obtain demo or full versions of games’.

There are a few digital dots here, as it were, but we’d be foolish to be too hasty to join them. Epic has, of course, already gone toe-to-toe with Steam for years now, backed with a ton of cash for exclusives, and Valve has managed to weather that storm thus far…

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07 Oct 2021

Windows 11 is killing game performance for some PCs with AMD processors - but a fix is coming

Windows 11 has an issue with AMD processors, Team Red has confirmed, and it could have a substantial performance impact with some games.

AMD made the warning via a support post on ‘Windows 11 performance variation in certain applications’, underlining that the issue is due to L3 cache latency potentially being around three times slower (cache is the small amount of very fast memory on-board the CPU).

The good news is that after contacting AMD, we were told that "AMD is aware that users may see a performance impact on certain applications when installing the initial release of Windows 11 on systems powered by compatible AMD processors. AMD and Microsoft have identified two issues and we are working closely to release updates that address both.  You can find more information here

We expect a fix to arrive via a Windows 11 update sometime in October.

This issue affects apps and games which are particularly sensitive to this cache access time, and AMD estimates that broadly, all supported Ryzen CPUs under Windows 11 (and some newer Athlon models, plus Epyc chips) could slow down by around 3% to 5% in affected apps.

The rub is that slowdown could be worse with PC games, with around 10% to 15% of performance potentially being lost in what AMD calls ‘outliers’, specifically popular esports titles.

A further issue highlighted by AMD is a performance flaw with UEFI CPPC2 (Collaborative Power and Performance Control 2) whereby that feature could fail to schedule threads successfully on the CPU’s fastest core (as it’s supposed to).

This gremlin may also affect apps which are “sensitive to the performance of one or a few CPU threads”, driving performance down a little, and the problem may be more evident in processors with 8-cores or more and TDPs above 65W.

Again, a solution is expected soon enough, and should be delivered at some point in October, also via a software update (presumably from AMD in this case, as Windows isn’t mentioned in the resolution to this second problem).


Analysis: Windows 11 – is it still in (a very public) beta?

This is a nasty volley of technical hitches for early adopters of Windows 11 who run AMD Ryzen chips, but it’s gamers who are mostly going to suffer here, of course. Performance drops of just a few percent in apps won’t be realistically noticeable, but a frame rate loss in double figures percentage-wise is obviously a big concern for gamers who might dabble in those particular titles. A 15% slowdown in a competitive esports title where every frame and millisecond of reaction time are vital is definitely a big problem.

That said, those larger frame rate drops are in ‘outliers’ as AMD underlines – we’re guessing that could be high frame rate shooters, meaning those running CS:GO on massively high refresh rate monitors may be the most badly affected here – so some gamers may not see much difference overall.

Even then, this clearly reinforces the perception that this initial release of Windows 11 was rushed out too early, given other issues already flagged up like the memory leak bug, and networking gremlins that could affect gamers too.

We’ll repeat our previous advice on the topic of whether or not to upgrade from Windows 10 – don’t do it yet. It’ll take some time to iron out these issues by the sounds of things, so you’re likely best-off waiting until next month at least, for all the October patching to be done – and then tested to make sure it doesn’t break anything else as collateral damage (which has certainly happened in the past with Microsoft).

Via Tom’s Hardware

Read more...
07 Oct 2021

Pinterest wants to make it easier to promote your brand online

Popularimage sharing platform Pinterest has announced a handful of new features as it looks to improve advertising and shopping on the platform.

In a blog post, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, Jon Kaplan announced four new rollouts: slideshow for collections, merchant deals, Verified Merchant Program, and Idea ads with paid partnership. 

While the first two are brand new products, the third one is an upgrade, while the last one is currently in testing stages.

The slideshow for collection feature pulls various products from user catalogs, and turns them into short videos, or “collections ads”. The videos are lightweight, dynamically created and tailored for every shopper, Kaplan said. 

Explaining the idea behind the feature, Kaplan said Pinterest users love video and generally have bigger shopping carts, compared to users on other platforms. So, if they’re able to see more products, they might be interested in spending extra cash, as well.

The “merchant details'' product is all about inclusivity and social responsibility. Through this feature, users are able to present their values to the world, such as “responsibly sourced,” “invested in good” and “inclusive”. “You can also highlight communities you belong to, such as “Black-owned,” “Latinx-owned,” “Woman-owned,” “LGBTQ+ owned,” “Disability-owned” and more,” he explained.

Making purchase decisions

The Verified Merchant Program feature, which finds vetted brands around the world and provides them with a checkmark on their profile (similar to what verified Twitter accounts have), is expanding to Austria, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. 

Finally, the “Idea ads with paid partnership” feature, which is currently in testing stages in 15 countries, is a joint partnership between creators and advertisers. If a creator builds an Idea Pin and tags a brand, the advertiser can promote it as an Idea Ad.

“People who use Pinterest weekly are 7x more likely to say it’s the most influential platform in their purchase journey, compared to social media platforms,” Kaplan explained “That’s why, as of today, we’re dramatically expanding our suite of shopping solutions for advertisers.”

Read more...
07 Oct 2021

Businesses are losing out due to poor password experiences

Many businesses would be a lot better off if they offered customers, clients and visitors more secure log in options, a new report from Auth0 has claimed.

Surveying 17,000 businesses and consumers across 12 countries, the company found consumers are more likely to sign up for an application or online service if they are able to log in with various authentication options.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the most popular method, preferred by 49% of the respondents. Single Sign-On (SSO) was cited by 48%, followed by 44% for biometrics. Social login (40%) and passwordless (35%) were also cited.

At the same time, less than half of organizations (47%) offer SSO, a third (35%) offer social login options, while 29% offer MFA. A quarter (25%) offers biometrics, and a fifth (20%) passwordless.

Almost one in ten companies (8%) don’t offer any of these login options, at all.

Securing the business

For consumers, this is frustrating. Almost half (48%) are annoyed by having to fill long sign-up and login forms, while 83% abandoned their cart or sign-up attempt for the same reasons.

But it’s not just about the convenience of login, offering multiple authentication options also boosts security. There have never been more successful phishing attacks, and without a second layer of protection, many businesses could be facing devastating data breaches, hefty fines and brand trust issues.

Having multiple authentication options also eliminates the weak link of the cybersecurity chain that are poorly designed passwords. Sometimes because they can’t be bothered, and sometimes because they fear they’ll forget them, people choose simple, easy-to-guess passwords and reuse them across multiple services. 

By using a password manager to create and store strong passwords, and adding the second layer, be it MFA or anything else, both businesses and consumers can minimize the risk of serious data breaches.

Read more...
07 Oct 2021

Forget Windows, Linux or MacOS: Our choice of the best alternative operating systems

If you're fed up with Windows, Linux, or macOS, you'll want to know if there's a great alternative desktop operating system that's worth using. 

While there are no absolute definitive answers here – everyone's use case is different, after all – we've discovered ten distinct examples that fall outside the usual bounds.

Our list even includes a few true outsiders, independent operating systems built from the ground up which serve mainly to prove just how difficult it is to create an entire functioning OS without a large number of brains working on it.

Everything here can be tested reasonably within a virtual machine, so if something grabs your interest don't hesitate to download and give it a try.

(Image credit: Arca Noae)

1. ArcaOS

The last of the OS/2 projects

Continued development
Multilingual support coming
For older PCs

ArcaOS is an operating system based on the last IBM release for OS/2. While OS/2 barely survives as a legacy system, even after being extended for a while as eComStation, ArcaOS is still being actively developed with Spanish and German language editions currently under beta testing and scheduled to be released in the next update.

ArcaOS includes a robust Unix compatibility subsystem, featuring a variety of ported Linux apps and some drivers, but still features the OS/2 Workplace Shell. 

ArcaOS is a 32-bit OS that runs on the x86 processor architecture, so should be compatible with some particularly old PCs. Though its native file system is JFS, it ships with drivers for the FAT32 file system.

There are two editions available: Personal, which retails for $129 per license, and Commercial, which retails at $229 per license, though volume discounts are available. The personal edition includes 6-months support and maintenance, while the commercial edition includes one-year of priority support and maintenance.

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Haiku)

2. Haiku

The modular successor to BeOS

Successor to BeOS
Modular design
Slow release schedule

We're a bit sad that BeOS didn't take off. A stylish multitasking OS that introduced a whole host of features that Windows, Linux and macOS would later adopt for their own, BeOS was a true multimedia innovator that left the market with a whimper when its rights were sold to Palm in 2001.

The spirit of the closed source BeOS lives on in the form of Haiku, an open source re-implementation which began development immediately after Be's demise, and it has been in development since.

Built from the ground up but designed to be backward-compatible with its classic quarry, Haiku follows BeOS' lead in its entirely modular design, allowing different components of the OS to be developed concurrently. It’s been a while since the OS had a stable release. In fact, even the second beta release of its under-development branch was released almost two years after the previous one. 

It's worth playing with just for the cleanness of its desktop, and there are working web browsers and media players, although it's still rather experimental and many of the features of BeOS haven't quite been fully realized as yet.

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: ReactOS)

3. ReactOS

An alternative to Windows Server 2003

Free
Designed to work with Windows server
No MS code
Runs open source software
Still in the Alpha phase

Linux, as you may know, is a ground-up reinterpretation of UNIX. ReactOS does the same for the Windows NT architecture upon which all modern Windows versions are based. It's completely open source, uses no proprietary Windows code, yet ReactOS is designed to be (and in some cases actually is) compatible with Windows drivers and applications.

Your mileage may vary – it's certainly not going to play nice with high-end games or software, and ReactOS isn't quite up to the Windows 10 level yet. It's currently aiming at full compatibility with Windows Server 2003. 

So it's clearly a bit behind the times, but ReactOS does have its uses. Incorporating parts of noted Windows emulator Wine, it runs LibreOffice, Firefox, Opera and more quite happily, and can even manage some earlier versions of popular commercial applications like Adobe Photoshop. Furthermore, ReactOS now natively supports more file systems than all Windows versions combined.

Given that it's free, it's certainly worth a test to see if any of your older business-critical applications are compatible – setting up workstations without Windows licensing is a tempting prospect, although we can't vouch for its resistance to attacks.

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: FreeDOS)

4. FreeDOS

An open-source alternative to DOS

Open source DOS
Active development
Stable environment
No GUI or multitasking

A ridiculous amount of business software relies on MS-DOS, even to this day. We're still seeing bespoke, newly-developed text-mode apps that run directly from the shell, probably because the complexity and potential for disaster that graphical interfaces add to the mix is not worth the risk in situations that demand 100% uptime.

That business-critical software may rely on MS-DOS, but it’ll run just as happily on a FreeDOS shell. As its name suggests, FreeDOS is a fully-compatible but completely free and open source remake of DOS that can handle just about everything its proprietary counterpart can. That does, of course, mean no multitasking, no protected mode, no GUI, but it'll run your games and can even manage Windows 3.1 as long as you're running it in standard mode.

As you might expect, it's not a static recreation of the final commercial DOS release in 1995, and indeed hasn't been static since it first emerged in 1998. In fact, FreeDOS remains in active development, and features a number of integrated improvements compared to its rather archaic ancestor.

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: Wayne OS)

5. Wayne OS

ChromeOS for the desktop

Boots off USB
Has a Free edition
64-bit only
Poor hardware support

Wayne OS comes from a Korean startup that forked the open source Chromium OS (from which Google derives its Chrome OS) to create an OS for regular 64-bit machines instead of Chromebooks

Originally called Chromic OS, the project changed its name to Wayne OS in 2019. Instead of a traditional installation, the distro is designed to be installed in bootable USB flash drives. 

Wayne OS is available in two versions -- Free and Paid. The Free version is meant for all kinds of end-users. To install it, simply download its compressed installer and then extract the executable installer from the archive and fire it up. This will bring up the Wayne OS installer. 

Select the version you want to install and then point the installer to the USB disk you want to install it on. Wait for the installer to download and copy the necessary files to the USB disk. When it’s done you can unplug the now bootable USB disk and use it to run Wayne OS on any 64-bit computer. 

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: OpenIndiana)

6. OpenIndiana

The successor to SunOS

Free and Open Source
Multilingual
Usable desktop
No graphical package manager

Sun Microsystems' SunOS – which evolved into the rechristened Solaris – began as a proprietary UNIX distribution designed to support Sun's SPARC processors. Its list of supported hardware widened as it grew, and in 2005 Sun released the source code in the form of OpenSolaris, leading to advanced community development. And then Oracle purchased Sun, renamed the OS once more to Oracle Solaris, and decided to cease source releases, effectively closing the source once again.

Sometime after this move, the community took it upon themselves to maintain OpenSolaris. They decided to ditch its development tools and processes and created the OpenIndiana Hipster branch to modernize the OS. Hipster is compiled with GCC instead of Sun Studio and follows a rolling release model and the release team puts out installable snapshots every six-months. 

What makes OpenIndiana (OI) approachable to new users is that it runs familiar apps on its desktop. It uses the Mate desktop along with its cache of tools as well as a handful of mainstream productivity apps such as Firefox, Thunderbird and Pidgin. While there is not much to write home about OI’s default cache of apps, one that caught our eye was the TimeSlider app for taking incremental ZFS file system snapshots. It isn’t enabled by default, but is fairly intuitive to setup and use.

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(Image credit: Future)

(Image credit: KolibriOS)

7. KolibriOS

The OS for retro gaming

Boots instantly
Loads of apps
Rudimentary apps
No package manager

KolibriOS is written in the FASM assembly language and based on the source code of the MenuetOS operating system. It boots in a flash and gives you access to a number of useful apps. There’s no installation involved, though you’ll have to make sure you select the option to save the changes you made during the session when you shut it down.

The OS supports FAT and NTFS file systems and ships with drivers for popular audio, video and Ethernet hardware. The desktop is fairly intuitive to operate, and new users aren’t reprimanded for casually exploring the desktop and its various apps. 

The only shortcoming of the OS is that its productivity apps aren’t really mature enough for everyday use, and the lack of a package manager doesn’t help its case either. On the other hand, if you like retro gaming there’s no better OS.

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(Image credit: Visopsys)

8. Visopsys

The ultimate CS project

Fast
Functional installer
Limited hardware support
Sparse apps

The goal of Visopsys is to create a fully functional OS for Computer Science students and alternate OS enthusiasts like us. Considering the fact that it’s primarily an educational system, it surprised us with its usability. 

The OS boots in a snap and gives you the option to either launch the installer or boot into a Live session. The inclusion of a very capable partitioner in the installer is another pleasant surprise.

The desktop is fairly simple to navigate and includes a handful of essential apps, plus handy administration and configuration utilities. But attempts to use it for regular desktop tasks won’t take you very far, as the OS is missing a web browser and there’s no package management to help you pull in additional apps and utilities. 

Visopsys does a nice job of masquerading as a regular desktop, but it really is a very capable CS project and should be treated as such.

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(Image credit: Icaros Desktop)

9. Icaros Desktop

Several classic games
All types of apps
Includes user-guide
No package manager
Esoteric installer

Nostalgic open source fans can still get their dose of Amiga-esque goodness through Icaros. This is a distribution of Aros, which is an OS based on the AmigaOS API. It’s important to note that this isn’t a clone of AmigaOS, but an implementation of its API in a new operating system. Unless you’re familiar with the AmigaOS of yore, you’ll have a pretty tough time getting to grips with Icaros. 

It’s tricky to install, and it’d be a frustrating experience to even attempt to explore the OS without first reading its user guide. First-time users should appreciate the fact that the OS is distributed as an installable live CD to whet their appetite. Click on the eye icon in the panel to get an Applications menu, or on the filing cabinet to get a selection of manuals.

Icaros has pretty decent hardware support, but still don’t expect it to work with fancy graphics cards and all wireless network hardware. Icaros has all the apps you need to use it as a regular desktop, but its real specialty is retro gaming, and that’s one area in which it really shines.

Gone but not forgotten: other Operating Systems

It's worth noting that there have been a number of other operating systems that were previously popular but have since been discontinued. One of the most famous of which is AmigaOS, used in Amiga personal computers during the 1990's and which had a reputation for solid stability.

However, here are a few more that you may or may not have come across before now.

10. eComStation

OS/2 may not have set the world on fire, but it actually maintained a decent industrial and commercial install base long after its desktop aspirations died. eComStation was a derivative OS that uses classic OS/2 technologies on modern hardware.

Much like its ancestor it's been developed with security and stability in mind for commercial applications. We see the claim 'zero downtime' repeated all over the place, and while it's theoretically possible to lock up your hardware with the wrong application, this is something that could have been a real killer feature.

There's a host of open source software ported to eComStation including Firefox, OpenOffice, VLC and more, and it's capable of running DOS, Java and OS/2 applications. You almost certainly don't need it, but if there's something system-critical and OS/2-only that your business relies on, running this on bare metal is a much more reliable idea than setting up a VM.

As eComStation hasn't been updated for some years, if you're looking for OS/2 support and development it might be best to look at ArcaOS in the above list.

11. Syllable Desktop

Developed between 1994 and 2001, AtheOS – initially planned as a clone of AmigaOS but later following its own path – was the work of a lone Norwegian programmer, Kurt Skauen. After Skauen abandoned the project, its GPL-licensed source code was picked up by the community and Syllable Desktop was born.

The majority of it is composed of unique code, although certain components have been pulled from the vast library of open source Linux programs; there's also a Server version, which is more traditionally Linux.

Syllable's key selling point – ignoring the fact that it's free – is its speed and lightness. The creators recommend a Pentium CPU with 32MB of RAM, which should give you an idea of how lightweight it is. Slap this on a modern PC and you'll likely never have seen an OS so quick.

Syllable does lack the ports that make other indie operating systems attractive, though it contains a number of native apps for web browsing, email, VNC and more. We're not entirely positive that it's still active – the last official update was some time in 2012 – but if there's a very, very old PC you need to resurrect with reasonably modern system architecture, try this.

12. SkyOS

The development of SkyOS has sadly been halted, but it's still worth looking at as an example of an OS constructed from scratch. Developed initially as an open source project by coder Robert Szeleney, SkyOS was based on concepts gleaned from other platforms but didn't originally borrow their code.

That said, a few components are based on other packages – there's no sense, for example, developing an entirely new compiler when GCC already exists, and the SkyFS filesystem is forked from OpenBFS. Later in its life, Szeleney appears to have experimented with a version of SkyOS built on top of a Linux kernel in an attempt to help with driver compatibility.

The source was closed midway through its life, and Szeleney continued development based on feedback from a popular (paid) public beta program. Unfortunately the struggle to keep up with ever-diversifying computing standards became too much for the lone coder, and development was halted in 2009, with the most recent beta made publicly available in 2013.

It's obviously incomplete, and not suitable for any kind of business environment, but as a curio to run within a VM it's very interesting.

13.  TempleOS

Whether the extreme religious doctrine behind it interests you or not, TempleOS is an interesting example of a completely independent, unique OS. It was made and maintained with extreme dedication by one man, Terry A. Davis, over the course of ten years. 

TempleOS – programmed entirely using Davis' own language, the excellently named HolyC, which you also use to interact with its shell – deliberately includes no networking and absolutely no hardware support beyond that which forms the core PC system. So what's the point?

TempleOS has been built from the ground up with what seems like no hang-ups on existing operating systems. The entire thing is hyperlinked, meaning you can quickly burrow down to the source of a program just as easily as you can find its dependencies, and it's super-quick; there's no paging, so the whole OS gets up and running within a second or two.

It's unlikely you'll be able to use TempleOS for anything solid, and Davis' well-documented mental health struggles didn't help its standing in the community. But it includes a huge number of interesting ideas, particularly the blurring of the division between document and program, which could impact more traditional operating systems. Which is why, despite TempleOS’s development having ceased with Terry’s passing in 2018, the OS is still available for the curious lot out there.

14. FuryBSD

While FreeBSD is a highly complete and very reliable operating system, it doesn't come with a graphical user interface by default. This is where FuryBSD stepped in to deliver a much more usable FreeBSD using a combination of a familiar graphical desktop environment with some additional tools and functionalities. 

The OS was available with two desktop environments in separate ISO images, with one based on Xfce that performed well on under-equipped machines, while the other with KDE Plasma was meant for well-stocked computers.

However, FuryBSD ended development in 2020

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07 Oct 2021

New Windows 11 fail is accidently telling people they can’t upgrade

Windows 11 is now out and available for people to install, but many people are encountering a problem where the operating system refuses to install, even if their PCs meet the Windows 11 system requirements.

As Windows Latest reports, many people are erroneously seeing a “This PC doesn’t currently meet all the system requirements for Windows 11” message during the Windows 11 installation process.

When installing Windows 11, some people are prompted to run the PC Health Check app to make sure their PC is compatible with the new operating system – such as if it supports TPM 2.0, a security feature that Microsoft has insisted PCs need if they are to run Windows 11.

The idea is that the PC Health Check will see if your PC can run Windows 11. If it can, you can then proceed with the installation. If it can’t, the PC Health Check app will outline steps to take to make your PC compatible. In some cases, this involves enabling TPM support in the PC’s BIOS. Once that’s done, the PC Health Check app should give the PC the all clear, and the Windows 11 installation process can continue.

The problem is, that some people have found that even after the PC Health Check app says the device can run Windows 11, the Windows 11 installation app refuses to continue, saying “This PC doesn’t currently meet all the system requirements for Windows 11.”

This is immensely frustrating, and users who have encountered it have found that even restarting the PC and trying to install Windows 11 again does not fix the issue.

What can you do?

At the moment it doesn’t seem like you can do much about this problem, unless you fancy downloading the Windows 11 ISO and use it to do a fresh install of Windows 11 – but that will result in you losing your files and apps.

The good news is that Microsoft is already working on fixing the issue, with Microsoft support staff telling Windows Latest that “We are aware of the issue, and we’re currently working for a fix.”

If you encounter the problem, Microsoft is encouraging you to let it know using the Feedback Hub in Windows 10, to better help it get an idea of the cause – and scale – of the problem.

Hopefully, the problem is addressed soon. Upgrading to Windows 11 is complicated enough at the moment anyway – thanks to the TPM requirement – without people being incorrectly told they can’t upgrade.


stressed businessman destroying his desk and laptop with a baseball bat

(Image credit: Stokkete / Shutterstock)

Analysis: More Windows 11 problems proves playing the waiting game is smart

As we thought, there are plenty of Windows 11 problems emerging at the moment as more people install Windows 11 (or try to).

This problem is more annoying than worrying, as all it’s doing is preventing you from upgrading to Windows 11 – it’s not impacting your PC’s performance (like another new Windows 11 issue concerning AMD processors is).

However, it’s yet another good example of why you should hold off installing a new operating system as soon as it goes live. By waiting a few weeks, Microsoft will hopefully have ironed out most issues, and the Windows 11 upgrade process will be relatively straightforward.

So, sit tight and let these early Windows 11 issues get sorted. For some people, sticking with Windows 10 for now won’t be a choice, however.

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07 Oct 2021

New ransomware law would force victims to admit to ransom payouts

A new law has been proposed in the United States that would place new obligations on the shoulders of ransomware victims.

Submitted by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Deborah Ross, the Ransomware Disclosure Act would require businesses to disclose any ransom payments within 48 hours of the transaction.

If the proposal is turned into law, all ransomware victims “engaged in interstate commerce” will have to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the ransom payment sum, the currency and any information they might know about the attackers.

The act does not require all ransomware victims to engage with the DHS, however, only those who choose to concede to demands.

The ransomware dilemma

The main dilemma for every ransomware victim is to pay or not to pay. Often, the fastest way to recover from a ransomware attack is to give in to demands, but there is no guarantee systems will be restored and data returned as promised, and paying ransom fees only incentivizes further attacks.

One the other hand, businesses that choose not to engage with criminals face significant losses as a result of downtime, as well as reputational damage if the attacker loses patience and publishes their data online.

According to Senator Warren, the Ransomware Disclosure Act is designed to give the DHS the intelligence it needs to unpick this catch-22 and disrupt the economics of ransomware.

“Ransomware attacks are skyrocketing, yet we lack critical data to go after cybercriminals. [The bill] would set disclosure requirements when ransoms are paid and allow us to learn how much money cybercriminals are siphoning from American entities to finance criminal enterprises - and help us go after them,” said Warren.

Congresswoman Ross also expressed concerns about the scale and severity of the ransomware threat, and emphasized the importance of collaboration between private enterprise and the government in tackling the issue.

“Unfortunately, because victims are not required to report attacks or payments to federal authorities, we lack the critical data necessary to understand these cybercriminal enterprises and counter these intrusions. The data this legislation provides will ensure both the federal government and private sector are equipped to combat the threats that cybercriminals pose to our nation,” she said.

Via ZDNet

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07 Oct 2021

This Microsoft Teams update means you don't have an excuse for missing a meeting anymore

Avoiding webinars held on Microsoft Teams may be trickier than ever thanks to a new update to the service.

Microsoft has revealed a pair of upgrades to its video conferencing platform that it hopes will make Teams a more attractive proposition for hosting webinars.

Going forward, attendees to a webinar will see their invite automatically added to their calendar - meaning there's no excuse now for forgetting to attend.

Webinars on Teams

"When webinars are setup and scheduled, the webinar invite is now automatically added to the attendee's calendar," the update's entry on the Microsoft 365 roadmap reads.

The entry adds that the feature is currently in development, and should begin rolling out in December 2021, with all Microsoft Teams users set to receive it.

That isn't all that's coming to Microsoft Teams when it comes to webinars though, as a separate entry also reveals another update that will allow companies or individuals much greater customization when hosting webinars.

Users will soon be able to customize the domain used for any webinar communications such as invitations or changes of date - meaning that when such emails are sent to attendees, both the sender name and email domain will now reflect the tenant name, making it easier for attendees to recognize. 

This update will also see general availability, and is set to launch in December 2021.

The upgrades are the latest in a series of changes by Microsoft as it looks to make Teams a more appealing choice not just for webinars, but meetings everywhere.

The platform already boasts a standalone Webinars setting which is able to support thousands of online attendees, including custom registration page and tighter permissioning. Teams is also able to let users host view-only broadcasts for up to 20,000 people

Microsoft Teams is also now playing a much more central role in Windows 11, showing that the company has big hopes for the software - check out our full Windows 11 review for more.

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07 Oct 2021

HP ProBook is the laptop that’s designed for the anywhere workplace

With work happening equally from your home, a café or at the office, choosing the right PC is no longer as easy as finding a computer that works best stuck to your office desk. Though we’re hopeful of returning to the “normal” someday, chances are that it might be a while before that happens and so companies need to make sure their employees can adopt to the changing work environment.

HP has taken the above in mind with their ProBook line of laptops and has risen to the challenge of providing computers that are secure and versatile. HP ProBook 640 G8 with Intel® Core™ i7 processor excels in many ways to help you adapt to an evolving workplace.

Work everywhere

Your employees need to be empowered with the flexibility to work from any place and to do that, you need to make sure they are working on a computer that is portable, durable, powerful and secure. HP ProBook 640 G8 comes with powerful processing and graphics will allow your employees to work from home to return to the office at their convenience.

People first design

Computers that barely meet performance requirements or aren’t ergonomic no longer belong in an ever-evolving workplace. The powerful performance and people-first design of HP ProBook 640 G8 with Intel® Core™ i7 processor doesn’t just help your people get more done, faster but also makes them feel more valued and comfortable while they work. 

You can Confidently carry this durable laptop knowing it’s built to last and made to travel. The slim yet durable HP ProBook 640 G8 features an aluminum chassis, an 80-percent screen-to-body ratio, and a spill resistant keyboard.

Collaboration-ready tech

A recent survey revealed that 39% of people said difficulty collaborating was their number-one reason for being unproductive while sheltering in place. HP ProBook 640 G8 comes with Wi-Fi 6 and LTE connectivity for uninterrupted work while the dual-microphone array helps with noise cancellation for home background distractions. You can also accessories HP ProBook 640 G8 with the HP Stereo USB Headset for an immersive meeting experience.

A more productive workday.

A makeshift setup can suffice in the short term, but comfort matters for the long haul. Employees need a complete set of flexible, ergonomically designed home and office tech accessories so that they can do their best work. HP ProBook 640 G8 can be accessorized with portable mice such as the HP Optical USB Travel Mouse or the HP Travel Bluetooth Mouse giving you the flexibility of working from anywhere.

Choosing the right business PC has never been easier. HP ProBook 640 G8 with Intel® Core™ i7 not only is an extremely versatile computer but is also protected by HP Wolf Security that creates a hardware-enforced, always-on, resilient defense. From the BIOS to the browser, above, in, and below the OS, these constantly evolving solutions help protect your PC from modern threats.

Learn more about HP ProBook hardware enforced security solutions:

Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Intel Evo, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Inside, Intel Agilex, Arria, Cyclone, Movidius, eASIC, Ethernet, Iris, MAX, Select Solutions, Si Photonics, Stratix, Tofino, and Intel Optane are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries

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07 Oct 2021

GDPR hasn’t ensured data protection - so what will?

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introduced three years ago brought the need for businesses to carefully safeguard personal data into the limelight. The regulation created a series of new responsibilities and obligations for organizations wishing to store and make use of personal data from citizens in the EU and UK.

About the author

Craig Lurey is CTO & Co-Founder of Keeper Security.

This was intended, on one hand, to ensure the digital privacy of customers and employees and to assert the rights of those individuals over their data. On the other hand, it harmonized data privacy rules across 28 countries, undoubtedly a good move for international businesses wishing to trade across the continent.

Failing to exercise adequate caution and control has brought the possibility of heavy fines. In cases of considerable negligence, these can be up to €20 million or up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover, whichever is the highest. One of the largest GDPR fines to date - £20 million - was levied against British Airways for a 2018 breach that compromised the personal data of over 429,000 customers. Hundreds of other fines, large and small, have been imposed over the past three years.

But in a post-Brexit world where Britain can independently change these regulations again - something the UK government has signaled it is open to doing - legislative pressure alone cannot be the only solution to ensuring consumer data remains protected.

Pressures of the pandemic

Although GDPR regulations did provide some form of protection, few would argue their personal data, as it is stored online by organizations, is now much safer than it was three years ago. Unfortunately, in parallel to new regulations, cybercrime has risen considerably, with news of leaks and breaches hitting the headlines with depressing regularity.

This has been partially fueled, of course, by the forced increase in remote working during the pandemic. This period has been especially dangerous for those organizations that hadn’t previously supported any kind of remote working and had to very quickly adopt new technologies and policies to maintain business continuity. Estimates vary, but one estimate by analyst house Canalys suggests a new record of more than 30 billion compromised data records in 2020, over 100% higher than the previous year, which was itself a new record.

This surge has happened despite increased investment by businesses in the latest cybersecurity technology, which grew by 10% in 2020 alone - regardless of all the other pressures on IT budgets - according to the same note from Canalys.

So, although we have considerable regulation, heavy penalties and new and improved cybersecurity technologies, personal data is more at risk than ever before. What’s missing is consideration of the human factor.

Phish in a barrel

Humans are typically the weakest link in a modern organization's line of cyber defenses. Employees don’t want to have to remember dozens of unique, highly entropic passwords - and it isn’t mentally possible, given that typical office workers have around 200 passwords between work and personal accounts. This results in weaker passwords, which are then repeated across different services, some of which will certainly be compromised over any given period. The evidence that this should be a pressing concern for all businesses is clear: 81% of data breaches succeed due to weak or stolen passwords.

Some cybersecurity authorities like to pretend this flaw in so many organizations' defenses can be solved through education and developing a culture of awareness. Certainly, education and policies have a valuable part to play, especially when it comes to avoiding phishing attacks, but the fundamental problem stemming from too many passwords remains.

Organizations that want to properly protect themselves against data breaches therefore need to do two things in particular to remove this otherwise inevitable fallibility.

First, they should roll out a comprehensive password management solution that securely manages all user credentials and automatically fills them into apps and websites, eliminating the need for employees to create or remember their own - potentially weak or easily-guessable - passwords. Secondly, they need to ensure the solutions they deploy are built on a zero knowledge security architecture, meaning that even if cybercriminals successfully breach an organization, they won't be able to access or decrypt the data they might seize.

GDPR was a useful piece of legislation on at least two fronts. It has ensured many businesses and other organizations take people’s data security and privacy more seriously than would almost certainly otherwise be the case. And second, it simplified the existing and proposed regulation to provide much greater clarity. But it was not, and could never be, a cure-all against breaches and data loss. Cybersecurity is a complex and evolving field, and a sophisticated approach will evolve accordingly. What businesses and other organizations can and should do quickly is to close the obvious gaps that leave them vulnerable - both to breaches and to the fines that might well follow.

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07 Oct 2021

Windows 11 is killing game performance for some PCs with AMD processors

Windows 11 has an issue with AMD processors, Team Red has confirmed, and it could have a substantial performance impact with some games.

AMD made the warning via a support post on ‘Windows 11 performance variation in certain applications’, underlining that the issue is due to L3 cache latency potentially being around three times slower (cache is the small amount of very fast memory on-board the CPU).

As you might imagine, that’s bad news for apps and games which are particularly sensitive to this cache access time, and AMD estimates that broadly, all supported Ryzen CPUs under Windows 11 (and some newer Athlon models, plus Epyc chips) could slow down by around 3% to 5% in affected apps.

The rub is that slowdown could be worse with PC games, with around 10% to 15% of performance potentially being lost in what AMD calls ‘outliers’, specifically popular esports titles.

The good news? There’s already a fix for the problem underway and it’ll come as a Windows update in October – which could mean the patch may arrive with the cumulative update due next week (October 12).

A further issue highlighted by AMD is a performance flaw with UEFI CPPC2 (Collaborative Power and Performance Control 2) whereby that feature could fail to schedule threads successfully on the CPU’s fastest core (as it’s supposed to).

This gremlin may also affect apps which are “sensitive to the performance of one or a few CPU threads”, driving performance down a little, and the problem may be more evident in processors with 8-cores or more and TDPs above 65W.

Again, a solution is expected soon enough, and should be delivered at some point in October, also via a software update (presumably from AMD in this case, as Windows isn’t mentioned in the resolution to this second problem).


Analysis: Windows 11 – is it still in (a very public) beta?

This is a nasty volley of technical hitches for early adopters of Windows 11 who run AMD Ryzen chips, but it’s gamers who are mostly going to suffer here, of course. Performance drops of just a few percent in apps won’t be realistically noticeable, but a frame rate loss in double figures percentage-wise is obviously a big concern for gamers who might dabble in those particular titles. A 15% slowdown in a competitive esports title where every frame and millisecond of reaction time are vital is definitely a big problem.

That said, those larger frame rate drops are in ‘outliers’ as AMD underlines – we’re guessing that could be high frame rate shooters, meaning those running CS:GO on massively high refresh rate monitors may be the most badly affected here – so some gamers may not see much difference overall.

Even then, this clearly reinforces the perception that this initial release of Windows 11 was rushed out too early, given other issues already flagged up like the memory leak bug, and networking gremlins that could affect gamers too.

We’ll repeat our previous advice on the topic of whether or not to upgrade from Windows 10 – don’t do it yet. It’ll take some time to iron out these issues by the sounds of things, so you’re likely best-off waiting until next month at least, for all the October patching to be done – and then tested to make sure it doesn’t break anything else as collateral damage (which has certainly happened in the past with Microsoft).

In the meantime, we've contacted AMD to find out what's going on, and we'll update this story when we hear more.

Via Tom’s Hardware

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07 Oct 2021

Windows 11 is killing game performance for PCs with AMD processors

Windows 11 has an issue with AMD processors, Team Red has confirmed, and it could have a substantial performance impact with some games.

AMD made the warning via a support post on ‘Windows 11 performance variation in certain applications’, underlining that the issue is due to L3 cache latency potentially being around three times slower (cache is the small amount of very fast memory on-board the CPU).

As you might imagine, that’s bad news for apps and games which are particularly sensitive to this cache access time, and AMD estimates that broadly, all supported Ryzen CPUs under Windows 11 (and some newer Athlon models, plus Epyc chips) could slow down by around 3% to 5% in affected apps.

The rub is that slowdown could be worse with PC games, with around 10% to 15% of performance potentially being lost in what AMD calls ‘outliers’, specifically popular esports titles.

The good news? There’s already a fix for the problem underway and it’ll come as a Windows update in October – which could mean the patch may arrive with the cumulative update due next week (October 12).

A further issue highlighted by AMD is a performance flaw with UEFI CPPC2 (Collaborative Power and Performance Control 2) whereby that feature could fail to schedule threads successfully on the CPU’s fastest core (as it’s supposed to).

This gremlin may also affect apps which are “sensitive to the performance of one or a few CPU threads”, driving performance down a little, and the problem may be more evident in processors with 8-cores or more and TDPs above 65W.

Again, a solution is expected soon enough, and should be delivered at some point in October, also via a software update (presumably from AMD in this case, as Windows isn’t mentioned in the resolution to this second problem).


Analysis: Windows 11 – is it still in (a very public) beta?

This is a nasty volley of technical hitches for early adopters of Windows 11 who run AMD Ryzen chips, but it’s gamers who are mostly going to suffer here, of course. Performance drops of just a few percent in apps won’t be realistically noticeable, but a frame rate loss in double figures percentage-wise is obviously a big concern for gamers who might dabble in those particular titles. A 15% slowdown in a competitive esports title where every frame and millisecond of reaction time are vital is definitely a big problem.

That said, those larger frame rate drops are in ‘outliers’ as AMD underlines – we’re guessing that could be high frame rate shooters, meaning those running CS:GO on massively high refresh rate monitors may be the most badly affected here – so some gamers may not see much difference overall.

Even then, this clearly reinforces the perception that this initial release of Windows 11 was rushed out too early, given other issues already flagged up like the memory leak bug, and networking gremlins that could affect gamers too.

We’ll repeat our previous advice on the topic of whether or not to upgrade from Windows 10 – don’t do it yet. It’ll take some time to iron out these issues by the sounds of things, so you’re likely best-off waiting until next month at least, for all the October patching to be done – and then tested to make sure it doesn’t break anything else as collateral damage (which has certainly happened in the past with Microsoft).

Via Tom’s Hardware

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07 Oct 2021

Going digital helped thousands of SMBs survive the pandemic

The pandemic may have been terrible for many small businesses in the short-term, but a new report has shown even though businesses were forced to make many changes to their day-to-day operations, these changes will bring benefits for years to come.

A new paper from Salesforce based on a poll of 2,534 SMB owners and leaders in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific found businesses adopted a range of new technologies and new ways of thinking which are showing plenty of promise for the future.

The majority (56%) said their business couldn’t have survived the pandemic just by using the technology from a decade ago, while an even bigger percentage (65%) said the operational shifts they made in the past year will benefit them long-term.

Most businesses moved at least a part of their operations online in the past year. With that in mind, they shifted their attention towards customer experiences, with 42% now being more careful about how they interact with their customers, and a quarter of those saying they became more flexible.

Government's support

For some, the pandemic was an opportunity to experiment with contactless services and as a result - almost two-thirds (62%) will offer them permanently. 

Secure digital payments, digital customer services, mobile ordering and click-and-collect delivery aren’t as nearly as popular.

The government also played an important factor in the survival of the pandemic, the report added, saying that a quarter (27%) of SMBs have gotten “vital” financial support from the community.

“SMBs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, and while the last year has presented immense challenges and has impacted businesses of all sizes, small, medium and growing business leaders remain innovators as they adapt and pivot their businesses with speed and agility,” said Brigid Charmant, Head of UK Small and Medium Business at Salesforce. 

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07 Oct 2021

Reliance Retail brings 7-Eleven stores to India

Just a couple of days back, Future Retail that runs the Big Bazaar group in India announced that its has ended its franchise agreement with with the popular 7-Eleven chain of convenience stories. And on cue, Reliance Retail Ventures has announced that it has entered into a master franchise agreement with 7-Eleven Inc.

The agreement routed through Reliance owned subsidiary 7-India Convenience Retail is for launching 7-Eleven convenience stores in India. The first 7-Eleven store is set to open on October 9 in Andheri  East, Mumbai. 

According to a statement from Reliance Retail, this will be followed by a rapid rollout in key neighborhoods and commercial areas, across the Greater Mumbai cluster to start with.

Reliance Retail to dominate domestic retail market

It’s an ideal time for the largest convenience retailer in the world to make our entry into India.

SEI President & CEO Joe DePinto

With the launch of 7-Eleven stores, Reliance Retail which is the country’s largest retailer, takes a step further in its journey of dominating the retail market. 

The 7-Eleven stores aim to provide shoppers with a unique style of convenience, offering a range of beverages, snacks and delicacies  specifically curated to appeal to local tastes, along with refill of daily essentials.

With a rapid expansion plan on the anvil, it is  expected to be a significant contributor to local employment and building the eco-system  for convenient foods. 

The company will also support Reliance Retail in implementing and localizing the 7-Eleven convenience retail business model for India, including bringing best in class processes and practices. 

Isha Ambani, Director, Reliance Retail Ventures said, “At Reliance, we pride ourselves in offering the best to our customers and we are proud to bring 7-Eleven, the globally trusted convenience store, to India. 7-Eleven is among the most iconic global  brands in the convenience retail landscape.” 

“India is the second largest country in the world and has one of the fastest-growing  economies. It’s an ideal time for the largest convenience retailer in the world to make our  entry into India” said SEI President and Chief Executive Officer Joe DePinto. 

Based in Irving, Texas, SEI  operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 77,000 stores in 18 countries and regions, including 16,000 in North America. 

For the record, Future Retail had signed a master franchise agreement with 7-Eleven to operate convenience stores in India. It announced that it would open its first store in India in 2020. But its own financial problems put paid to those plans.

Reliance Retail operates India's largest retail business, having close to 640 million footfalls at its 12,000 stores across the country.

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07 Oct 2021

Starlink could start offering satellite internet in India by December 2022

Satellite-based Internet has almost become a reality in the western countries where Elon Musk’s Starlink has already started beta testing the new service. In India, however, despite Musks’ willingness, Starlink has received some pushback.

Now it is being reported that Starlink is in touch with the government agencies and may offer satellite internet connectivity to 10 rural Lok Sabha constituencies in the upcoming 2022 elections. The company has reportedly been in discussions with several MPs, Ministers and government officials to explain the role of broadband connectivity in changing lives in rural areas of the country.

In case the company manages to get relevant approvals, it plans to go live in December 2022 with over 2 lakh active terminals. Starlink’s Country Director, Sanjay Bhargava is keeping the expectations limited and feel that the company may or may not meet the target of 200,000 connections but says that it is “very unlikely that we will exceed 200000.” As of now Starlink already has 5000 pre-orders in India, that even though there is no clarity around the kickoff date.

Since these are early days for Starlink, the company is currently accepting pre-orders in India and according to Bhargava, the “number of pre-orders from rural constituencies will be one factor that helps us select focus constituencies.”

Additionally, like any other tech company, even Starlink is facing chipset shortage issues which have slowed down the speed of offering beta connections. The company has also stated that while it has over 100,000 terminals active across the globe as of now, it still has a backlog of 400,000 pre-orders.

Apart from Starlink, even Jeff Bezos-backed Amazon seems to be interested in offering satellite-based internet services in the country. Its executives have reportedly met the officials of DoT and the company is expected to apply for the requisite licenses soon.  

Both Starlink and Amazon will not only face competition from the current broadband players like Jio, Airtel etc but will also take on Bharti Airtel-backed UK based OneWeb – yet another company that plans to offer satellite-based Internet services in India starting May 2022.

Though as of now there are some disagreements around the spectrum allotment and the fate of this service is largely based on how the central government plans to allot bandwidth to Satellite Internet providers.

That being said, in a country like India, high-speed wireless internet connectivity could be a godsend and could go in line with the central government's Digital India campaign. 

Any company that plans to offer such services must also localize their offerings keeping in mind the complexities that come attached with a country as vast as India. Bundling a solar panel to keep the satellite receiver link apart from keeping the subscription charges lower could be great for a start.

Want to know about the latest happenings in tech? Follow TechRadar India on TwitterFacebook and Instagram!

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06 Oct 2021

Microsoft confirms Windows 11 is not compatible with some top VMs

On the heels of the release of Windows 11, Microsoft has confirmed several compatibility issues that prevent popular third-party software from working with the latest version of its operating system.

In a new support document, the software giant has provided further details on compatibility issues found in Oracle's VirtualBox virtual machine software, Intel's Killer and SmartByte networking software and the Vietnamese language browser Cốc Cốc.

Together with Oracle, Microsoft has found a compatibility issue between VirtualBox and Windows 11 when Hyper-V or Windows Hypervisor is installed. As a result, users may be unable to start virtual machines (VMs) and could receive an error.

Thankfully though, there is a workaround but it involves removing Hyper-V or Windows Hypervisor from a system running Windows 11 until this issue is resolved with an update that Oracle plans to release later this month. Affected users can check the company's progress by monitoring this ticket.

Windows 11 compatibility issues

Microsoft has also provided further details on compatibility issues found between some Intel Killer and SmartByte networking software and Windows 11.

Devices running the affected software might drop User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets under certain conditions which creates performance and other problems for protocols based on UDP. For instance, some websites may load slower on affected devices and VPN services using UDP may be slower as well. Microsoft is working on a fix that it plans to roll out in its October security update next week.

Finally, the software giant has confirmed compatibility issues with the Cốc Cốc browser on Windows 11. In some instances, the browser might be unable to open and on some devices, this might cause other issues or errors. Microsoft is investigating the issue and says it will provide an update when more information is available.

Compatibility issues are just par for the course when using a new operating system but by confirming the issues discussed above are affecting users, Microsoft is one step closer to coming up with a solution for them.

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06 Oct 2021

Box Shield will soon be even better at fighting ransomware

The cloud storage provider Box has announced that it has added new capabilities to its security control and intelligent threat detection solution Box Shield to better protect businesses from ransomware.

With this latest update, Box Shield can now reduce the risk of ransomware by scanning files in near real-time as they are uploaded to Box. These new capabilities in Box Shield leverage deep learning technology along with external threat intelligence to analyze files and stop sophisticated malware before it's able to cause business disruption.

Chief product officer at Box, Diego Dugatkin provided further insight on the company's approach to security and Box Shield's new capabilities in a press release, saying:

“The number of ransomware attacks surged by 288 percent in the first half of 2021 and this will only increase as more businesses go digital. Our approach to security is to provide customers with one secure platform to manage and secure their content, and Box Shield brings together user-friendly security controls and intelligent threat detection natively into the Box Content Cloud. By leveraging the latest deep learning technology, we are adding an extra layer of threat detection to Box Shield, making it even easier for IT and security teams to identify malware in near real-time without slowing down work.”

Using deep learning for malware detection

While other malware detection solutions can disrupt work by quarantining potentially malicious content which needs to be manually reviewed, Box Shield eliminates these obstacles by embedding malware detection into the company's Box Content Cloud.

At its BoxWorks 2021 virtual event, Box has extended the detection capabilities of Box Shield by adding deep learning technology that complements traditional hash-based or file-fingerprint scanning approaches that utilize known malware datasets. As a result, the company's customers can benefit from an additional layer of security that looks inside of individual files to identify malware and then automatically clears the files or blocks the malware's spread in near real-time.

Box Shield already scans over 48bn files a year but with these new capabilities, users will benefit from higher malware detection rates with fewer false positives. 

Box also announced enhanced machine learning-powered alerts for anomalous user behavior such as suspicious downloads in Box Shield. Admins will now receive more detailed alerts with context explaining why the company's machine learning algorithm has deemed certain behaviors risky.

Both malware deep scanning and enhanced alerts will be available for Box Shield customers later this year.

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