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Wayback Wednesday: If it works, don’t knock it

As pilot fish is installing a new workstation, he notices something sitting on the stack of paper in a nearby printer.

“It was a piece of coral,” says fish, “so I took it out.”

Give it to me, says a user who sees what fish has done, and she puts the piece of coral back, explaining that it’s needed to hold the top of the tray up so the printed sheets don’t fall to the floor.

Fish removes the coral again and flips over the tray extension. User is amazed.

Sharky knows printers need healing crystals, not corals. Send me your true tales of IT life at [email protected]. You can also subscribe to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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How Credit Card Fraud Works and How to Stay Safe

It’s common knowledge to keep your credit card safe from fraud, but how does it work? How do hackers get your card details in the first place?

Let’s explore how scammers do credit card frauds, and how you can stay safe.

How Hackers Get Your Credit Card Number

For a scammer to do credit card frauds, they first need all the necessary details. There are several ways they can get these details, and they range from the very basic to the more technologically complex.

Getting Details via Phishing

Phishing is an old strategy that is still effective today. The scammer gets in touch with you via phone or email, usually posing as your credit card issuer. From here, they can talk you into giving them your credit card information.

It sounds like something you’d be able to spot right away, but some phishers are very skilled. This is very similar to the tactic that was used in the British phone-hacking scandal a couple of years ago. Thankfully, you can learn how to spot a phishing email


How to Spot a Phishing Email




How to Spot a Phishing Email

Catching a phishing email is tough! Scammers pose as PayPal or Amazon, trying to steal your password and credit card information, are their deception is almost perfect. We show you how to spot the fraud.
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, so be sure to study up before you become a victim!

Gleaning Details From Database Leaks

Scammers also get credit card details from online data breaches.  Hackers have successfully breached big-names like Target, Home Depot, and the PlayStation Network in the past. These companies tend to have saved payment information listed under each customer, which scammers can use for fraud.

The numbers stolen from those sites often end up on “carding” shops, where people go to buy stolen credit card numbers for use online. ZDNet mentions how some accounts sell for as little as $5 on the dark web. This makes it easy for thieves to buy hundreds of cards at a time, potentially including yours.

Monitoring Your Inputs With Keyloggers

If a hacker manages to get a keylogger or another type of malware installed on your computer, they could quickly steal your credit card information when you use it for online shopping. The silent nature of keyloggers makes them particularly nasty, so be sure to protect yourself against keyloggers as much as possible.

Forging Payments Using NFC Skimming

Someone paying for goods using the NFC on a credit card.
Image Credit: AllaSerebrina/DepositPhotos

These days, credit cards have NFC scanning built-in. NFC is also known as “contactless,” and it’s when you place the card up against the payment terminal to buy something.

Scammers can use devices that act like these payment terminals. When they pass close by to someone with a credit card in their pocket, the skimmer makes a fraudulent payment to the card. The victim may not even realize this has happened until they notice odd fees on their statement.

How Scammers Use Your Credit Card

Once a thief has your credit card, the hardest part is complete. Now all they need to do is use it or sell it on. The credit fraud they choose depends on their ulterior motive behind why they stole the details in the first place.

Making Contactless Payments

Contactless payments with cards don’t require PINs or signatures, so they’re perfect for credit card thieves. Even though the limits for contactless payments are rather small, they add up quickly. Online payments don’t require PINs or signatures ether, so going on an Amazon shopping spree with a stolen card is remarkably easy.

Fortunately, there are constraints for the scammer. The upper limit of a credit card will stop them from spending too much. On top of this, credit cards typically allow a set amount of contactless payments before it asks for a PIN. These restrictions mean the scammer can perform only a small shopping spree before they’re locked out without a PIN.

Selling the Card Online

If the hacker doesn’t want to “dirty their hands” with a stolen credit card, they sell the details online. These credit card markets thrive on the dark web, where all kinds of identifying information is up for sale. Sellers need to keep their practices under wraps to protect their business from law enforcement, and the dark web gives them the protection they need to operate.

Buying and Flipping Goods

A range of different gift cards.
Image Credit: dennizn/DepositPhotos

If the hacker has enough information to make large purchases with the cards, they can buy goods and sell them on the black market. This is safer for them, as it hides their tracks better than if they transferred money directly into their bank account.

Scammers will typically buy gift cards. They can then sell these cards on the black market for less than face value. For instance, a $100 gift card will sell for $60. This makes them highly desirable for buyers and gives the scammer a way to wash their hands of the evidence.

How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

There’s a lot a scammer can do with a credit card. As such, it’s important to keep yours secure. By following a few guidelines, you can decrease the chances you’ll encounter credit card fraud.

Don’t Share Credit Card Information Freely

First, don’t share your card information over the phone or in an email. Credit card companies, banks, and stores won’t randomly ask for your credit card information. If someone asks for them out of the blue, exercise extreme caution. If you need to share your information over the phone, be sure that no one is around to overhear you.

Keep Track of Data Breaches

Second, pay attention to online security news. If a service you use suffers a database breach and leaks payment information, contact your bank immediately.

You could wait to see if you get any suspicious charges on your account before alerting your bank, but this is risky. For example, ABC News reported on how the Bank of America fraud department can be hard to convince that a scam occurred in the first place. Waiting for fraud to happen may result in lost money that you have to wrestle back.

Protect Your Card’s RFID

Third, consider buying an RFID-blocking wallet


What Is an RFID-Blocking Wallet? (And Which Should You Buy?)




What Is an RFID-Blocking Wallet? (And Which Should You Buy?)

If you have cards, passports, or devices with RFID chips, then an RFID-blocking wallet could be important for keeping your data safe.
Read More

, so your card is protected while it’s in your pocket. By blocking RFID signals, the wallet prevents any device from reading the information on your card until you take it out to use it.

Double-Check Payment Points

Fourth, be careful with where you insert your credit card.  Scammers can operate at ATMs, pay-at-the-pump gas stations, small stores, and restaurants. If the payment terminal looks weird somehow, use another method to pay. Make cash withdrawals from within your bank, pay at the counter when you buy gas, and don’t let your card out of your sight.

Keep Tabs on Your Records

Finally, make sure to monitor your credit card statements, bank statements, and credit reports. The earlier you catch a potentially fraudulent transaction, the better. These days, you can get a credit report for free without harming your score. This makes it easier to spot any weird purchases and quickly report them.

Staying Safe With Payment Cards

Credit cards are a hot commodity for scammers. From small NFC skims to large-scale gift card selling, there are multiple ways they can make use of your details. Keep them safe to avoid headaches in the future!

You now know not to trust a phishing call, but can you trust your browser with your credit card information


Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information?




Can You Trust Your Browser With Credit Card Information?

Shopping online and tempted to save your credit card information in your browser? Here’s why you might not want to do that.
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?



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How Overwatch Competitive Mode Works

Each year, Overwatch players flock to Competitive Mode with hopes of reaching the top 500 leaderboard. However, you can’t waltz right into Competitive Mode if you’re accustomed to Quick Play mode. There are certain differences to look out for.

Elements such as Role Queue, Skill Rating, Seasons, Point Systems, and Rewards have changed the dynamic of the game and the Overwatch ranking system. In this article we explain how Overwatch Competitive Mode works and how the Overwatch rankings work.

Competitive Play Seasons

You’ll get the chance to play Overwatch competitively six times per year. Every season lasts two months with a few days of offseason play. Players receive rewards at the end of each season depending on their rank.

If you achieved a high rank during the season, you can’t keep it—your rank is reset at the end of each season, but your matchmaking rating (MMR) isn’t.

Role Lock and Role Queue

Before we get into the technicalities of the Overwatch ranking system, it’s important to understand the types of Overwatch heroes


A Beginner’s Guide to Overwatch Heroes




A Beginner’s Guide to Overwatch Heroes

Overwatch has tons of heroes to choose from, but which one is right for you? Here’s a guide to every Overwatch character.
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, along with the changes that come along with Role Lock.

Overwatch has implemented Role Lock in both Competitive and Quick Play modes, which forces players to play in balanced teams. The rule change was mainly added because of the Overwatch GOATS eSports team, and their unique team composition. Their team consisted of three Tanks (Reinhardt, Zarya, D.VA), along with three Supports (Moira, Lucio, Brigitte). This led many aspiring professional teams to copy the same overpowered formation.

Since the introduction of the Role Lock, teams must now have two Supports, two Damage characters, and two Tanks. While some view this change as beneficial, other players are frustrated that they might have to take on a role they aren’t familiar with. Once you choose a role, you’re only able to swap between characters of the same type during a match.

Role Lock also affects your ability to play the game. When you decide whether to play as a Damage, Tank, or Support character, you’ll enter into a queue for that role. Unfortunately, many players wanting to play as a Damage character get stuck with long wait times, as this type is the most popular to play.

How Does Overwatch Ranking Work?

The Overwatch ranking system has been through a fair amount of scrutiny from the game’s userbase thanks to the latest Role Lock rule change. These are the basics of skill rating (SR) as they stand today.

Overwatch SR Basics

At level 25, players unlock Competitive Play mode. To get an official rank, players must complete a minimum of five placement matches in one specific role. That means you’ll have to play a maximum of 15 placement matches if you decide to play as a Tank, Damage, and Support character. In other words, you have to play five matches per role.

Overwatch Placement Matches Role Lock
Image Credit: Blizzard

According to the number of games won in each role, players are granted an SR between one and 5,000. The higher the ranking, the greater the skill. Unlike the previous Competitive Play mode, you’ll receive three SRs—one for each role you play.

Overwatch Competitive Ranks

Blizzard has developed a ranking system that consists of seven different ranks. Players are given up to three of these ranks according to their SR:

  • Bronze: 1,500
  • Silver: 1,500-1,999
  • Gold: 2,000-2,499
  • Platinum: 2,500-2,999
  • Diamond: 3,000-3,499
  • Masters: 3,500-3,999
  • Grandmaster: 4,000 and up

The lowest rank, Bronze, usually consists of mostly new players, while the highest rank, Grandmaster, is reserved for the best of the best.

Maps and Game Modes

There are four game types, all with distinct challenges, player requirements, and maps. Here’s a brief overview of each mode.

Escort and Hybrid (Payload) Maps

Escort maps are similar to Hybrid maps, as Hybrid mode combines elements of both Assault and Escort modes.

The Escort maps are: Dorado, Route 66, Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Havana, Rialto, and Junkertown.

The Hybrid maps are: Hollywood, King’s Row, Numbani, Eichenwalde, and Blizzard World.

hollywood_overwatch

In Escort maps, the attacking team must escort a payload to an ultimate destination. Each team is randomly assigned an attacking or defending role. The team on offense must escort a payload to the objective, while the team on defense attempts to stop them.

In the next round, the teams switch roles. Whoever pushes the payload farther wins. If both teams manage to reach the objective, additional rounds will start.

Like Escort Mode, Hybrid Mode also involves a payload. The only difference is that the team must assault a map location first before moving the payload.

Control (King of the Hill) Maps

Control maps work off of a best-of-three, single objective system. The Control maps are: Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal, Oasis, and Busan.

nepal_overwatch

Both teams aim to capture and control their objective. The first team to score two points wins. Points are scored by achieving a 100 percent tally on the map objective. The more players on the point, the faster the point is taken.

Assault (Capture) Maps

Assault maps have one team play as offense, while the other plays as defense. The Assault maps include: Hanamura, Horizon Lunar Colony, Paris, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries.

Teams take turns defending and attacking certain objectives. Wins are contingent on the point system, with a possibility of two points each map. If the ally team scores more points, thereby taking more objectives, than the enemy team, the ally team wins.

hanamura_map

Assault map matches split into attacking and defense rounds. Time is added to your clock by capturing objectives, and the specific time added by each objective is subject to change based on patch updates. The match is considered a draw if no team captures more than 33 percent of a point.

Competitive Play Rewards

Competitive Play wouldn’t be competitive without a rewards system. These rewards are subject to change with the upcoming seasons.

Player Icons and Sprays

player_icon_set_season_1

Once a player has completed the placement matches, they’re officially a part of Competitive Play. That means they’ll earn a special spray and player icon at the end of the season.

New icon and spray sets get released every season, giving players an incentive to keep playing Competitive. Additionally, a special icon will be available to the top 500 players of the season.

Golden Weapons

golden_weapon_overwatch

By far the most appealing items received through Competitive Play are the golden weapons. Golden weapons cost Competitive Points (CP), which players receive whenever they win a Competitive match. Keep in mind that these weapons do not provide added damage to the character—they’re for aesthetic purposes only.

Leaver Penalties

Blizzard has instituted hard penalties for players that leave matches early in Competitive Overwatch mode. For one, you will not be able to join a new match for the span of the original match.

If you experience issues with connecting to a match, you can Rejoin. However, failing to rejoin a match will result in a penalty.

leaver_penalty

Continued infractions will lead to locked Competitive Play. Players will no longer be able to join Competitive matches for a certain period of time. More infractions may lead to a season-wide ban and the forfeiture of any rewards acquired during that season, along with a skill rating penalty.

If a player leaves a beginning match, the match is canceled and your SR is not affected. If, however, a player or players leave(s) while the match is well underway, the match will continue and you will be given the choice of leaving the match. Although you will lose SR for leaving the match, the leave will not count as an infraction.

Tips for Taking Over the Competition

These tips will tilt the scales of Competitive Play in your favor. Use them to prevent an SR freefall.

Use a Mic

No matter how skilled the enemy player’s Genji is, there’s no better indicator of a winning team than communication. All Overwatch maps feature choke points—individual map locations designed to narrow a team’s maneuvering ability.

The team that meets at a point and pushes towards the other points as a unit is often the team that wins. This is true for all maps and skill levels, so if you can, use a mic as often as possible to group, warn, and communicate with other players.

Here are the best gaming headsets


The 4 Best Budget Gaming Headsets for Under $25




The 4 Best Budget Gaming Headsets for Under $25

Here are the best gaming headsets for when you have a limited budget and just can’t afford to spend that much.
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to get you started.

Exploit Map Vulnerabilities

Every map has certain vulnerabilities that players can use to reach target objectives faster. Don’t settle for the main path. If your character can jump, fly, or otherwise maneuver around a map, take that into account when maneuvering the map.

Emulate the Pros

Twitch and other streaming services have changed the video game industry


How Twitch and Streaming Have Changed Video Games for Good




How Twitch and Streaming Have Changed Video Games for Good

Video game streaming on Twitch and the upcoming Microsoft Mixer service is a wildly popular activity. But could this affect gaming as we know it and shape a new generation of gamers?
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—you can now watch professional players play your favorite game. Tuning into Overwatch tournaments, and watching the pros play on Twitch can help you improve your own gameplay.

If you want to take your skills to the next level, use Overwatch pro settings to get the same setup as some of the best players.

Keep Track of Character Usage and Patch Updates

The better you can counter the most-used heroes in Overwatch Competitive Play, the more likely you are to defeat the players. That’s why sites like MasterOverwatch provide seasonal statistics ordering characters by popularity, win rate, K/D ratio, etc.

MasterOverwatch Character List

Character popularity will change according to the different nerfs (performance limitations) and buffs (performance additions) of future patches. Minor character fixes like this will push your game to the next level before players even realize where your added edge came from.

Read Guides

It’s surprising to note just how much information is out there for competitive players already. Excellent players will gladly create large write-ups for free, and post them online for everyone to enjoy. If you want to get better at Overwatch Competitive Mode, read character and map guides online.

Group and Go

The best teams in Overwatch are those that commit two simple actions: group and go. Running towards objectives without teammates usually results in death, while working as a team often results in wins. You can only overwhelm objectives as a team. The faster everyone on your team can reach a point together, the faster you’ll win.

Learning How Overwatch Competitive Works

Overwatch Competitive Play is a serious matter, and should be treated as such. Quick Matches are for character testing, while Competitive Play is for players attempting to prove their worth.

Once you’re acquainted with the basics, you shouldn’t have any problem climbing the Overwatch ranks. If you’re thinking of playing Competitive Mode in Overwatch, gear up, study up, and get ready for an arduous climb.

One of the reasons why Overwatch is such a great game is because it’s cross-platform. If you want a break from Overwatch, check out these other awesome cross-play games worth buying


The 7 Best Cross-Play Games Worth Buying




The 7 Best Cross-Play Games Worth Buying

Want to play games with friends who are on other platforms? It’s possible! Here are the best cross-play games to play right now.
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.



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Here’s What Roku TV Is and How It Works

The way we watch media has changed radically in recent years. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer on-demand services that many prefer instead of traditional television subscriptions.

Initially, these services only worked on computers, but devices like the ones provided by Roku can turn any television into a streaming media machine.

It’s time to learn what Roku is and which set-top box or Roku smart TV dongle would be perfect for you.

What Is Roku?

The Roku Logo

Roku makes digital media players for streaming television, movies, music, and even some games. Roku devices range from small dongles that fit into the back of your television, to set-top boxes.

Some Smart TVs come with Roku software built-in. Regardless of which Roku device you get, they all provide instant access to the biggest on-demand media providers.

What Can I Watch With Roku?

A small selection of available Roku channels

All the major online providers are available through Roku. Netflix, Google Play Video, and various regional options are available, along with many free Roku channels.

Various sports channels are also available, along with music providers like Spotify, Google Music, and smaller online radio stations. You can even add local TV channels to your Roku device.

Notably, you can also access Amazon Prime Video from a Roku device. This is perhaps surprising given that Amazon Fire devices are Roku’s main competitor.

How Does Roku Work?

Roku TV plugs into the HDMI port

Roku works via an internet connection. In the same way, you may stream YouTube or Netflix content on your computer or smart-phone, Roku streams to your television.

Roku devices attach to your television via the HDMI port. Once plugged in, select the Roku as a source much like you would a DVD player or set-top box. From there, you’ll be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi details and create a Roku account.

How Much Does Roku Cost?

After the initial cost of a device, Roku is free to watch so long as you only watch the bundled channels. Paid services like Netflix or Amazon Video will require separate subscriptions to watch.

Every user requires a free Roku account. You will, however, be required to provide a credit card or PayPal account to create one. See our Roku getting started guide


How to Set Up and Use Your Roku Streaming Stick




How to Set Up and Use Your Roku Streaming Stick

So, you have bought a new Roku Streaming Stick and are wondering what to do next. We’re here to help, with the complete guide to setting up your new Roku Streaming Stick.
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for an in-depth look at setting up your device.

Is Roku Legal?

Streaming movies and TV has become synonymous with piracy. Roku uses all legal free and paid channels to provide media to you, so legality is not an issue here.

This isn’t to say that Roku users cannot run into some legal issues, however. Alongside the regular channels, there are also private channels users can subscribe too. While many of these are entirely legal, others have been used to broadcast pirated content.

For regular users of Roku, you won’t ever run into legal issues. You can check out our guide to Roku private channels


20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now




20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now

Here’s how to add private channels to your Roku, alongside some of the best hidden Roku channels you can install right now.
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for more details!

The Best Roku Devices to Choose Between

Roku provides different devices for using the service. They come in two form factors:

  • Boxes which plug into your TV’s HDMI port via an HDMI cable.
  • Dongles which plug straight into your TV’s HDMI port.

They all provide the same number of available channels, come with a remote, and a Roku app for iOS and Android to control them. The devices also works with Alexa and Google Home voice assistants.

While Roku has streamlined its range recently, one of these four devices should suit every need:

  1. Roku Express
  2. Roku Streaming Stick+
  3. Roku Express+
  4. Roku Ultra

Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Roku Express

Roku Express

The Roku Express is the cheapest device in the Roku range. A small box houses an infrared receiver for the included remote.

Viewing is limited to 1080p HD, but unless you have a 4K ready television, you won’t notice any difference. The Roku Express is the perfect budget choice.



Roku Express


Roku Express

Buy Now On Amazon
$29.88

2. Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick+

The Roku Streaming Stick+ attaches directly into your television’s HDMI port. It is priced a little higher than the Express, but this extra money goes a long way. The Streaming Stick+ adds 4k and HDR quality and has built-in voice control.

It also features an improved wireless connection to keep high speeds even when far from the home router.

The Streaming Stick+ is the best all-round device in the Roku range.



Roku Streaming Stick+


Roku Streaming Stick+

Buy Now On Amazon
$49.00

3. Roku Express+

Roku Express+

The Roku Express+ is now discontinued, but still widely available. It provides all the same features as the Express but also features a composite cable for when no HDMI port is available.

If you have an older television, streaming with the Express+ is your best option!


Roku Express+


Roku Express+

Buy Now On Amazon
$49.70

4. Roku Ultra

Roku Ultra

Discontinued, though still available online, the Roku Ultra was the flagship device in the range. It is the only Roku device to feature an Ethernet port for wired connections.

If you want to plug your streaming box straight into your router, this is the choice for you.


Roku Ultra


Roku Ultra

Buy Now On Amazon
$82.90

Is Roku Better Than the Amazon Fire Stick?

Amazon Fire Stick

It’s likely that if you are considering getting a Roku, you’ll also be aware of the Amazon Fire TV range of devices.

Both offer similar functionality and price, and there is no quick way to compare them. Luckily you can check out our in-depth comparison of the Amazon Fire Stick and Roku


Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Which One Is Better?




Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Which One Is Better?

Amazon Fire Stick or Roku? This question unites all cord-cutters. We help you decide whether to buy the Roku or the Fire Stick.
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to help you make a decision!

Watch What You Want With a Streaming Device

Roku devices turn regular televisions into streaming machines. They add so much that we recommend them instead of Smart TVs, and you can use the money you save to buy the shows you want to watch!

After the initial outlay, a Roku is free to use, with a wide selection of streamed TV channels to choose from. If that isn’t enough, you also have a choice of popular subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video at your fingertips.

All of that said, if you already use your phone or computer for streaming media, compare whether a Roku or a Chromecast


Chromecast vs. Roku: Which One Is Best for You?




Chromecast vs. Roku: Which One Is Best for You?

There are many streaming media devices to choose between. In this article, we compare the heaviest hitters: Chromecast vs Roku.
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might be more suitable for your streaming needs.



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How Android Doze Works to Optimize Battery (And How to Disable It)

Everyone wants to squeeze more battery life out of their phones. And while you can manually optimize battery usage to a point, nobody wants to worry about that all the time.

That’s why Google includes its own battery optimizer for Android, called Doze, as part of the operating system. While this feature is beneficial a lot of the time, it can also interfere with functionality in some apps.

Here’s what you need to know about battery optimization on Android and how to turn it off for certain apps.

What Is Battery Optimization?

In case you’re not familiar, battery optimization is a function (known as Doze) built into Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above. It preserves battery life by limiting what apps can do in the background.

Apps use what’s called a wakelock to keep your device alive even while you’re not actively using it. By default, Android wants to go into a “deep sleep” when your screen is off, but this can pose a problem for some apps. For instance, you don’t want Spotify music to stop playing just because your phone’s screen is off. Thus, app developers use wakelocks to keep their services alive when needed.

While wakelocks are important, developers can abuse them. This is why Facebook and many other apps kill your Android battery in the background. Doze helps fix this issue by providing limited “maintenance windows” that allow apps to check in every once in a while, instead of constantly. The longer your phone is dormant, the more time passes between these windows.

Android Doze Chart

In many cases, this is a great feature. But for apps that rely on steady connections, it can pose an issue. Thankfully, you’re able to turn it off.

How to Turn Off Android Battery Optimization

To disable battery optimization for any Android app, perform the following steps:

First, visit Settings > Apps & notifications. Tap See all X apps at the bottom of the Recently opened apps list to see everything on your phone. Choose the app you want to make the adjustment for.

Next, expand the Advanced section on the App info page. Select Battery and you’ll open another menu with several battery settings.

Continuing on, tap the Battery optimization entry and you’ll see a list of apps again. On the bar at the top of the screen, tap Not optimized and change it to All apps so you can see everything. Once again, select the app that you want to change.

You’ll see a new window; select Don’t optimize here to turn off battery optimization for that app.

This will prevent Doze from restricting the app’s background usage. If the app still behaves strangely after you do this, you may also consider turning off Adaptive Battery under Settings > Battery. This is a separate but similar feature Android uses to optimize battery usage.

Over time, it learns what apps you don’t use often, and limits battery usage for those apps. However, you shouldn’t need to disable this in most cases.

What Apps Should You Disable Optimization For?

What types of apps run into problems with Doze? The following are some you might consider tweaking:

  • Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and your SMS app. Battery optimization can cause message notifications to arrive late.
  • VPN apps. Battery optimization can cause VPNs to drop the connection when your phone screen is off.
  • Photo backup apps. You may want to consider disabling battery optimization for apps like Google Photos that automatically back up your photos to the cloud. Often, you’ll open it and see that the app hasn’t backed up pictures in days. This could lead to you losing photos if something happened to your device in the meantime.
  • Any apps that are otherwise time-sensitive. Apps such as SMS schedulers may fail to send your scheduled messages on time when they’re optimized for battery usage.

Remember that you should disable battery optimization sparingly. Doing so for too many apps will have a negative effect on battery life.

What About Other Battery Optimization Apps?

We’ve seen how to disable Android’s native battery optimization to take control over your apps. Give this a try next time you see an app misbehaving.

What if you want to go further with battery life? As it turns out, we don’t recommend battery optimization apps, as they do more harm than good. See our proven tips for better Android battery life


10 Proven and Tested Tips to Extend Battery Life on Android




10 Proven and Tested Tips to Extend Battery Life on Android

Suffering from poor battery life on Android? Follow these tips to get more juice out of your Android device’s battery.
Read More

for methods that actually work.



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How iOS 13’s Dark Mode Works on Your iPhone and iPad

iOS 13 Dark Mode Selection Screen in Settings
Khamosh Pathak

With iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple is finally bringing a system-wide dark mode to the iPhone and iPad. This feature will work automatically with websites and supported apps as well. Here’s everything you need to know.

How Dark Mode Works

The dark mode works using a toggle switch in Control Center. You can switch it on or off at any given time. All of Apple’s stock apps and the system UI supports the dark theme.

Apple has gone with a true dark mode. This means the background in most places in the UI is pitch black. On iPhones with OLED screens—that’s the iPhone X, XS, and XS Max—this has a two-fold effect.

iOS 13 Dark Mode Widgets and Home Screen

Firstly, the white text looks crisp on the pitch-black screen. Secondly, as the black background isn’t lighting up the pixels, you’ll end up saving a bit of battery life. iPhones and iPads with LCD displays—that’s all other iPhones aside from the X, XS, and XS Max, including the iPhone XR and iPhone X—will see no difference in battery life. But as most of the web usage revolves around websites with white backgrounds and colorful photos, most won’t see huge battery savings.

Apple has also added a new set of dynamic wallpapers that automatically change based on the dark mode and light mode. You’ll find them in the “Stills” section in the Wallpaper selection screen in the Settings app.

RELATED: Here’s Why iOS 13 Makes Me Want an iPhone

How to Enable Dark Mode

When you’re setting up your iPhone or iPad after upgrading to iOS 13 or iPadOS 13, you’ll see a new Appearance screen. Here, you can choose the “Dark” theme to enable the dark mode from the get-go.

But you can also switch between the dark and light mode at any time from the Control Center or from the Settings app. To switch using the Control Center, tap and hold or 3D Touch/Haptic Touch on the “Brightness” slider.

Tap and hold on Brightness Slider in Control Center

From there, tap on the “Appearance” button.

Enable Dark mode from Control Center

To enable dark mode through the Settings app, go to the “Display & Brightness” section. Here you’ll see the Appearance option at the top of the menu.

Enable Dark Mode from Settings

Below, you’ll find an “Automatic” toggle. Once enabled, you can set the dark mode to turn on automatically at sunset or during a custom time frame. Tap on the “Options” button to customize the schedule.

How Dark Mode Works with Websites and Apps

Just like in macOS Mojave, the dark mode in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 is universal. If a website supports CSS dark mode, Safari will automatically load the dark theme version for you (as you can see in the screenshots below).

Twitter in Light mode and Dark mode based on automatic switching in iOS 13

This feature is enabled by default. If you want to disable it, you can go to Settings > Safari > Advanced > Experimental Features and disable the “Dark Mode CSS Support” feature.

The same goes for apps that have been updated for iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. When you flip the switch, apps will automatically switch to the dark mode. Once iOS 13 releases in fall 2019, we’ll have more details about how this exactly works and if it’s possible to override this system feature, forcing a particular app to always open in light mode.

Dark Mode Interface in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13

Apple has changed a couple of key interface elements to make them work with the dark mode. While it’s not exactly skeuomorphic, Apple brought back a few shadow and texture elements from the old iOS 6 days.

For example, when you open a panel in an app like App Store or Music, it slides on top of the current screen. You can still see the bottom layer where it isn’t covered.

iOS 13 Dark Mode Panels and Tabs With Shadows

In Safari, when you open the new Share panel, Apple fades the web page. When it comes to tabs, Apple now shows the difference between the selected and unselected tabs using depth. And to make things easier to read, Apple uses a true black color only for the background.

Overall, most interactive interface elements are actually a shade of gray. It’s this shade of gray that you’ll find across the system UI including in the background of notifications, widgets, and the Control Center.

Dark Mode in Apple’s Stock Apps

Apple’s stock apps serve as an inspiration and framework for third-party developers. If we take a look at how Apple has implemented dark mode in their own apps, we’ll have an inkling of how third-party apps will adapt dark mode in the future.

The Messages app is a great example of just how good the dark mode can look when implemented well. The true black background paired with the blue accent color in Messages works very well.

iOS 13 Messages App in Dark Mode

Welcome to the Dark Side

Dark mode for iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 is a cumulation of design changes and tweaks that have taken years to perfect. What started with the Watch app has now spread across the entire operating system.

Now that dark mode will soon be available on all of Apple’s major operating systems, it will be interesting to see how Apple improves and changes the design going forward.

Apple’s iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 are currently available in beta form and will be available as a stable operating system update sometime in fall 2019.





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How ‘Find My’ Mac works in macOS Catalina and iOS 13

Apple is changing how its Find My Mac tool works in macOS Catalina and iOS – it will now use Bluetooth and should find your Mac even when it is asleep.

How does ‘Find My’ Mac work?

Apple is combining two apps – Find My Friends and Find My iPhone into a new ‘Find My’ app.

The combined app offers what we are used to from each one of these individual apps, but introduces new tools based on Bluetooth.

The ideas is that it will use low energy Bluetooth signals to help bring people together with lost things.

What did Apple tell us about Find My Mac?

Apple’s press release states that using the application:

“The location of a lost or stolen Mac can be securely and anonymously relayed back to its owner by other Apple devices, even when it is offline.”

“Now what’s amazing is that this whole interaction is end-to-end encrypted and anonymous,” Apple VP Craig Federighi said during his WWDC keynote.

“It uses just tiny bits of data that piggyback on existing network traffic so there’s no need to worry about your battery life, your data usage, or your privacy.”

How does this work?

The new feature works even when your Mac is sleeping with its lid closed.

The computer will continue to send low energy Bluetooth signals which can be picked up by any nearby Apple device.

The devices that detect your Mac’s signal do not know you, your Mac, or either location, all they do is transmit a heavily encrypted signal back to Apple, letting them know a Mac exists nearby.

If a user who has lost a Mac logs into their Apple ID/Find My app they will send a cryptographic key to Apple.

This key will unlock their Mac’s location.

They will then be shown the location of their lost friends and devices on a Map.

This means that only the end user can ever actually use this system to find their computer, and only when they are in possession of the Apple ID. 

How does the Bluetooth signal work?

The way this works is that the Mac will send out a periodic beacon, it’s actually a rotating encryption key.

This key can be picked up by other devices that are physically nearby.

These know their location can encrypt that location and broadcast it up to Apple.

Apple can’t read this location, but the user who owns the device can log into the Find My App, download, decrypt that location and find their Mac.

Doesn’t this use a lot of battery power?

The system has been developed to use as little energy as possible.

Devices pick up the signal only when they would be looking for such a signal anyway, such as when a device wakes from sleep and reaches to connect to your Bluetooth headphones, keyboard or what not.

The location will also not be transmitted until you choose to use your device to transmit other data.

The idea is that the additional battery demands of the process are mitigated by being rolled inside of tasks you are already doing.

This means any impact on both battery life and data use is very much reduced.

OK, but how come this is safe?

Apple says the system is designed so that even Apple doesn’t learn the identity of the Lost device or the finding devices.

In common with Apple’s entire approach to data security, it continues to only seek out the bare minimum of personal data it needs to make its systems work.

One way this is really visible is in Photos, where those collections of Memories or suggested Edits are all created and developed by machine intelligence on your device.

Apple is never in the loop.

Nor is it in the loop for the Find My function.

The systems can’t read the location of the lost device or the finding device from within Find My.

Apple has crafted its solution around use of a rotating encryption key.

This means the beacon from the Mac changes over time, so it cannot be used to track you or your Mac – again, the company says it has designed this feature from the ground up with your privacy in mind.

(It may also be useful to note that Apple has also done work to secure its systems against marketing companies using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth data to locate and track user location.)

Will I need to use an Apple device?

The system is predicated on you owning (or having access to) two Apple devices – the one you have lost and the one you still have access to.

Each emits its own (changing) key, which can only be picked up by other Apple devices and only decrypted by a device you have access to that is also logged into your Apple ID, using the same private key as is recognized by the lost device.

TL;DR

Apple has created an ultra-private system that uses its entire platform with cutting edge crypotography that can safely, securely and privately help users find objects they own once they are lost or stolen.

You’ll find your stolen items on the map.

Macs equipped with a T2 chip have another layer of protection in the form of an Activation Lock, which will disable your Mac if it is lost or stolen.

Also read:

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.





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AMD’s Most Powerful New CPU Works With Your Current Budget Build – Review Geek

The latest AMD processors work on the three-year-old AM4 socket design.
AMD

Gaming hardware tends to take a backseat at the yearly E3 trade show, with new titles getting the bulk of news coverage. But AMD is making a splash by showing off its latest Ryzen desktop CPU designs, aimed squarely at PC gamers.

The third generation of Ryzen dedicated CPUs come with more efficient 7-nanometer designs, and the usual boosts in speed, cache, et cetera. Prices range from just $200 for the Ryzen 5 3600X all the way up to $750 for the Ryzen 9 3950X, which boasts no less than 16 cores, 32 threads, and 72MB of cache.

But that’s all pretty par for the course. What’s most impressive about these newly-announced chips is that, despite the boost in performance and a shift to a new manufacturing process, all of the work on the existing AM4 socket design. AMD’s AM4 standard has been popular with budget builders, and in service since the first-gen Ryzen chips hit the market in 2016. The newest Ryzen chips stay compatible with the old standard due to some ingenious and very intentional fabrication design.

Now those same builders have access to the latest chips, and quite a lot of flexibility in terms of price and performance. AMD’s desktop chip line isn’t entirely limited to the AM4 socket—the ultra-powerful “Threadripper” chips still need a different standard. But the practical upside is that, if you want, you can use the $80 AMD motherboard you bought for a tiny budget machine three years ago for a polygon-pushing powerhouse gaming PC later this year with very few compromises.

The latest batch of Ryzen chips will be available between July and September of this year. At E3, AMD said it intends to keep the AM4 socket standard going into 2020 at the very least. Take that, Intel.

Source: The Verge





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Make Money as a TaskRabbit Tasker: Here’s How It Works

If you practice a trade and want to find people to work for, TaskRabbit might be able to help you. But what is this service, and how can you use it to your benefit?

Let’s take a closer look at TaskRabbit and see if it’s worth your time.

What Is TaskRabbit?

TaskRabbit is a service that pairs together experts with the people who need them. If your plumbing has broken down, you can use TaskRabbit to find someone to fix it. Likewise, if you’re moving furniture into your new home, you can find someone on the website who can do it for you.

Clients can find a task by setting the amount they want to pay for the job. They can then find TaskRabbit taskers who wish to work for that amount of money.

Likewise, if you’re someone who wants to do tasks for a client (known on the website as a “tasker”), you can state how much you want to work. Then, you’ll get informed when requests are posted that match your desired wage.

How Do You Work for TaskRabbit?

Working for TaskRabbit takes a little bit of preparation. You have to fill out an application form on TaskRabbit’s website and let them know your specialties and the kind of work you want to do. You also need to pass a security check to ensure you’re safe to work with, then pay a non-refundable $20 registration fee.

Once you’re all set up, you’ll get listed as available to hire within your local area. People can then approach you if they require your expertise in a specific area. You’ll also get notified when people put up an advertisement for a job that fits your desired pay and skills.

What Can You Do as a TaskRabbit Tasker?

A mover moving furniture into a new home
Image Credit: VitalikRadko/DepositPhotos

Pretty much anything! It all depends on what you want to lend yourself to, and the expertise you have to offer. The more you can demonstrate your mastery in a specific area, the more attractive you become to clients looking for your skills.

From handymen to movers, you can track your local area and receive alerts when your skills are in demand. This feature makes TaskRabbit a great side-hustle (or even a full-time job) for people who want to lend their talents to people in need.

Even if you’re not a specialist, you can use TaskRabbit to perform simple jobs that don’t require many skills. For instance, if you can stand in a line, you can find work on TaskRabbit! If someone doesn’t feel like queueing up to purchase tickets or gifts, they can hire someone on TaskRabbit to stand in line and buy the item in their stead.

Because you can’t automate these jobs


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6 Human Jobs That Computers Will Never Replace


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, there will always be someone on the lookout for a TaskRabbit tasker to perform them so that you won’t run out of these jobs quickly.

Can You Make a Living as a TaskRabbit Tasker?

Turning your TaskRabbit tasker role into a full-time gig depends on two things: your skills and your locale. Both of these need to be in harmony to turn over a significant income.

How Your Skills Help

By having demonstratable skill in your profession, you’ll generate more confidence in potential clients and get approached by more people. This confidence then equates to more opportunities for you, and more pay as a result. As you get more jobs and do them well, you get more good reviews, which then makes you more trustworthy to new clients, which then gets you more opportunities.

How Locale Helps

TaskRabbit’s job opportunities focus on your local area. As such, the amount of work available to you depends on the area in which you’re working. If you live in a big city, you should find many clients in need of work; more rural areas, however, may see work slowly trickle in.

The locale also affects the amount of competition you’ll face. If you’re living in a city, you’ll find a lot of people wanting queue-waiting jobs done. At the same time, however, you’ll be fighting for a job over other TaskRabbit taskers who have higher reviews and a longer track record. In contrast, rural areas are quieter, but you’re far more likely to land gigs.

The Potential of TaskRabbit

As for the potential for success with TaskRabbit, some people have made a living with the site. The Penny Hoarder reported on Brian Schrier, a Taster who earned $2,000 a week on the site. Of course, these kinds of examples are the exception instead of the norm, but it shows the potential is there. If you’re in a suitable locale, can adapt to any job, and have a flexible schedule, you could make a living with the site!

What Are People Saying About TaskRabbit?

A businessman giving a five star review
Image Credit: ingka.d.jiw/DepositPhotos

What Student Loan Hero Says

TaskRabbit reviews are somewhat mixed. Student Loan Hero tells the story of Tomar, who managed to make $60 an hour doing jobs he loved. Unfortunately, this is very much a one-off success story, perhaps selected due to how well Tomar did.

What Reddit Says

If you dig a little deeper, you can see how Brian and Tomar aren’t typical cases. Several Reddit threads asking for general opinions reveal another side. For example, in the thread “Signing up as a Tasker on TaskRabbit.com – is it worth paying $20 for?,” the top-rated comment says this:

“I never worked for taskrabbit but I looked into this extensively because I was considering it for the summer. My conclusion was that it wasn’t worth it. The company seems to have changed the way it works so the contractors ie taskers are worse off. It’s very much like Uber where you could make a lot of money but most people don’t.

Moreover, you have to factor in the need to provide your own transportation and often times tools. […] I think you’re better off getting a regular part time job.”

Despite this, a more positive note can be found below:

“I use to be a tasker. It was great! I didnt quit my job over it but it was good walking around money! […] I was making about 200 a week when I really put my time and energy into it. Over the 2 years I did it I made about 3k. As soon as you become a tasker, task are immediately available.

When your rating start to climb people will hire you directly. […] I had a person give me $20 plus a $20 cash tip to pick up their laundry from across the street. Literally took me 15mins to complete the task.”

As such, people seem to be agreeing that while you can’t make a living off of it, it can be a rewarding side gig to earn extra cash. You can easily add it to your collection of micro jobs you can do in your free time


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.

Making the Job Hunt Easier With TaskRabbit

While you may not be making a killing with TaskRabbit, it can be a rewarding side-gig if you have spare time on your hands. Who knows; with a little hard work and a lot of luck, you may end up striking gold!

Fancy something a little more robust? Perhaps consider an entry-level IT job


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!

Explore more about: Make Money Online, TaskRabbit.



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What the End of “Works With Nest” Means For You

"Doesn't work with nest" style logo in front of a home.
korisbo/Shutterstock

Google announced the end of “Works With Nest” at Google I/O 2019. Many companies, from IFTTT to Philips Hue, use Works With Nest to automate your smarthome. Those automations will break soon.

The “Works With Nest” program is an API third-party companies used to integrate your Nest devices with your smarthome. That shutdown doesn’t happen until August 31, 2019, but after that date, any company or service that uses the program to access data and work with your Nest devices will be cut off. What does that mean for you? It depends on both the companies’ willingness to move to Google’s new program and your willingness to make use of new integrations.

“Works With Nest” Automated Nest Devices

Works with Nest information showing Vivint, Lutron, and Chamberlain integrations
Google

If you own a Nest thermostat or camera, you might have set up Works with Nest integrations without realizing it. The program allowed third-party devices to talk to your Nest devices so they could work together. The list of supported devices is extensive and covers everything from Control4 smarthomes to Lifx and Philips Hue Lightbulbs, to August Locks, Lutron, and more.

The idea is straight forward. For example, if your smarthome-enabled garage door opened, it could reach out to your thermostat and inform it you arrived home. It could tell Nest to adjust the thermostat or start recording with your Nest Camera.

The Program Gave Your Data to Outside Companies

Magic Mirror app showing Nest temperature info.
Josh Hendrickson

Google sees a fundamental issue with this form of integration. Under the current API, adjusting your thermostat gave full access of your Nest data to your smart garage opener and the company who makes it. That makes some sense. Before telling your thermostat to turn your heat up or down, the other company needs to know how it’s currently set. Once that data leaves Google’s servers, Google can’t make any guarantees that it will be adequately secured or used appropriately.

You can see this in action with a custom made app we made for a home-built smart mirror. The app displays the current and set temperatures along with humidity data. It isn’t showing on a Nest or Google device, so we’re extracting the data from Google’s servers (and technically making the data available on a local server).

From a privacy standpoint, that may be fine as we own the data. But, if an individual can pull all this information using the Works with Nest program, so can a company. Technically speaking, this one-off app could be published, and anyone could use it by signing in with a Nest Account, thus handing over the data of anyone who used the app to a single developer.

Sure, it’s each user’s decision—but does everyone really understand the decision they’re making and how much data they’re handing over?

Works With Nest is Going Away, But All Is Not Lost

Two people in a living room with a nest in the background and the words "What's happening with nest?"
Google

If your smart devices or services talk to your Nest products through Works with Nest, they’ll lose that capability after August 31st. Any integration you set up, such as a door lock telling your Nest camera to record, will stop working.

Google is offering a replacement service called “Works with Google Assistant.” The replacement service isn’t Works for Nest renamed; it will require effort for companies to switch over. The experience will be different, both for the companies that implement it and you.

While Works with Nest handed data and control of Nest products to third-party companies, Works with Google Assistant does not. Instead, Google handles everything from data to control. Your data stays with your Google account. On the one hand, that provides more privacy and security for your data. On the other hand, it does offload some work to you.

Your locks, garage door openers, and lights won’t be able to decide what the temperature of your house should be. And they’ll lack the access to make any changes. Instead, you’ll be required to set up routines in Google Assistant to accomplish those tasks. You choose to have the thermostat adjusted and by how much, or the camera started because someone turned on a light or opened a door.

That’s how it will work if the companies can or will make the switch from Works With Nest to Works With Assistant. IFTTT is silent on the matter. On Twitter, Philips is referring users to Nest’s site for more information, but that doesn’t say anything of the light bulb company’s plans going forward. You can find Philips listed in the Works with Google program, but Philips may have more work to do to take full advantage of the service.

On the other hand, Control4 and Lutron both sent us press releases pledging to make the jump to Works with Google Assistant.

What You’ll Need to Do

In its FAQ, Google explains that to take advantage of the new service, you’ll need to convert your Nest account to a Google account when it sends out invites later this year. If you have both accounts already, you can merge them. But you may not want to do that immediately. The moment you make the switch, your Works with Nest integrations stop working. If the other products in your house aren’t updated yet, you’ll have to wait for added functionality. In its press statement, Control4 advises its users not to make the switch right away:

Control4 is currently working on a new Nest driver through the “Works with Google Assistant” program with the intention to make it available before the shutdown of the “Works with Nest,” however this is dependent on receiving Google certification. Control4 is advising users to wait to make any changes to their “Works with Nest” or Google accounts until after the new driver has been installed.

You should check what integrations you are using, and what those companies are saying before merging your accounts. After you do migrate, you’ll need to set up routines to control your devices. The process to migrate your account isn’t clear at any rate, Google says it will start emailing Nest users over “the next few months” so you have room to wait.

If you never integrated your Nest with other smarthome products, this doesn’t affect you at all. If you have set it up, your data will be in the hands of fewer companies going forward. That’s good for your privacy, even if sole control of your data is also desirable for Google.

While this is inconvenient in the short run, it will make your smarthome more secure in the long run.

RELATED: How to Set Up and Use “Routines” in Google Assistant





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