Sunday, July 3, 2022

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Timeshift Backup Tool Finds New Home at Linux Mint

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The popular Linux backup tool, Timeshift, is moving to Linux Mint as the distribution (distro) takes over development of the utility.

Timeshift is used across multiple distros, providing users a way to create snapshots of their system before performing updates. If something goes wrong, the system can easily be restored to a previous snapshot, giving users peace of mind. After the original developer was no longer able to continue work on the project, Linux Mint assumed responsibility for it.

“Thanks to Timeshift, Linux Mint has been able to come up with a robust update strategy and a very clear message: Take snapshots, apply all updates,” the company writes in a blog post.

“Timeshift was created and maintained by a very talented developer called Tony George. You probably also heard of UKUU and Aptik, Tony develops many exciting tools: https://teejeetech.com.

“Unfortunately he had to stop developing Timeshift to focus on his other projects. We got in touch with him to see how we could help and the decision was made to take over the maintenance.”

Linux Mint says Timeshift will become an XApp, the company’s suite of apps it develops in-house. Fortunately, in typical Linux fashion, Linux Mint creates its XApps to be used on a variety of distros, not just its own.

Given how popular Linux Mint is, it’s a safe bet Timeshift has a bright and secure future ahead of it.

Bethesda Sunsetting Its Game Launch in Favor of Steam

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Bethesda has announced it is sunsetting its own Bethesda.net Launcher, embracing Steam instead.

Bethesda has a long and storied history in the video game industry, eventually being acquired by Microsoft in 2020. The company has maintained its own game launcher, Bethesda.net, but is now shutting it down in favor of the Steam platform.

The company plans to begin the migration in April, providing detailed instruction to users on how to migrate their game library and Wallets.

We’re saying goodbye to the Bethesda.net Launcher this year. We would like to thank you for your support and assure you that all of your games are safe. If you’re not playing PC games through the Bethesda.net launcher then your work is done here. Thanks for reading! If you do have games through the Bethesda.net launcher, don’t worry. Starting in early April you’ll be able to migrate your games and Wallet to your Steam account.

The migration process is expected to be completed by May, at which point the Bethesda.net Launcher will no longer be available.

KDE Community Has Released Plasma 5.24

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The KDE Community has released the latest version of the popular desktop, KDE Plasma 5.24, bringing a number of improvements.

KDE Plasma is one of the most popular Linux desktops, and is known for the plethora of options, features, and customizations it offers. It takes a decidedly different design philosophy than its top competitor, Gnome, which focuses more on a simple, streamlined interface.

The latest version of Plasma makes a number of improvements to the interface and workflow, including borrowing some features from Gnome, such as the new Overview. The feature is still in beta, but already looks relatively polished.

The new release also has fingerprint reader support, an improved Breeze theme for better consistency with apps, easier customization, clearer labeling for critical notifications, simpler system settings, and more.

While none of the features are groundbreaking, when taken together, they make up a solid upgrade that should improve the day-to-day KDE experience. This is also an LTS (long-term support) upgrade, meaning it will be supported for the rest of the 5.x lifecycle.

Microsoft Commits to Keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation — For Now

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Following Microsoft’s blockbuster purchase of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer is working to reassure PlayStation users.

Microsoft announced a deal on Tuesday to purchase Activision Blizzard for some $68.7 billion, a move that will upend the entire computing gaming industry. Needless to day, many wondered if Microsoft would kill off non-Xbox and PC versions of popular titles, such as Call of Duty.

According to Spencer, the company has no plans to do that…at least not yet.

Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony. I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. Sony is an important part of our industry, and we value our relationship.

— Phil Spencer (XboxP3), January 20, 2022

As some commenters immediately pointed out, Spencer’s choice of words certainly leaves doubt about the long-term future. Rather than a strong ‘we WILL keep Call of Duty on PlayStation,’ Spencer seemingly left Microsoft an out by only saying the company would honor existing agreements, and it was their desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.

Only time will tell how committed Microsoft is to other gaming platforms over the long haul.

Google Rolls Out Locked Folder to All Android Phones

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Google has expanded its Locked Folder feature to all Android phones, not just its own line of Pixel phones.

Locked Folder is a feature designed to help users “lock away” sensitive photos, preventing them from being seen by others. The photos are not backed up to Google Cloud and don’t show up in Google Photos.

According to Gizmodo, Google is rolling the feature out to all Android phones, after it was initially available only on the Pixel. There’s no word yet on an iPhone version, but it should be coming soon.

Apple Fixing iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Speaker Issues for Free

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Apple has announced a service repair program to fix defective iPhone 12 and 12 Pro speakers for free.

A small percentage of iPhone 12 and 12 Pro phones shipped with a defective receiver module component. As a result, once the component fails, impacted devices may have sound issues, including no sound coming through the receiver when making or receiving calls.

The issue affects devices manufactured between October 2020 and April 2021. Apple says in a blog post that it will repair defective devices for free.

To initiate the process, customers should go to an Apple Authorized Service Provider, make an appointed at an Apple Store, or contact Apple Support for mail-in Apple Repair Center service.

Google Adding Support for iMessage Reactions

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Android users tried of seeing a text explanation when iPhone users send Tapback reactions are in for a surprise with Google’s recent improvement.

Apple introduced Tapback, a way for iPhone users to react to text messages inline, rather than sending a new text. Unfortunately for Android users, Messages didn’t support any Tapback reactions. As a result, users would see:

  • Liked an image
  • Emphasized “See you then!”

According to 9to5Google, Google is rolling out an update that replaces those text descriptions, displaying an emoji reaction, essentially duplicating how the Tapback looks in iMessage.

The update fixes a major pain point in Apple > Google texting.

DuckDuckGo Debuts App Tracking Protection for Android

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DuckDuckGo (DDG) is taking a page from Apple’s book, introducing App Tracking Protection for Android.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in iOS/iPadOS 14.5, giving users the ability to ask that apps not track their activity across platforms and services. While Google has been working to introduce its own version of ATT, its version is not as comprehensive as Apple’s.

DDG is looking to provide a more comprehensive solution with its App Tracking Protection for Android, an app designed to monitor other apps’ activity and prevent them from tracking users. 

DuckDuck App Tracking Protection – Credit DuckDuckGo

“App Tracking Protection for Android is free and blocks trackers it identifies in other apps from third-party companies (those different from the company that owns each app),” the company writes in a blog post. “It is now built right into the DuckDuckGo Android app.

“After enabling App Tracking Protection, the DuckDuckGo app will detect when your Android apps are about to send data to third-party tracking companies found in our app tracker dataset, and block those requests. You can enjoy your apps as you normally would and App Tracking Protection will run in the background and continue to block the detected trackers throughout your apps, even while you sleep. We are continually working to identify and protect against new trackers, so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting the most up-to-date protection.”

Given that 96% of popular, free Android apps tested track users — with 87% sending data to Google and 68% sending to Facebook — DDG’s solution looks to fill a major need.

The feature is currently in beta. To join the private wait list open DuckDuckGo for Android, open Settings > App Tracking Protection under Privacy, click “Join the Private Waitlist.”

Meta Delaying Rollout of End-to-End Messaging Encryption Until 2023

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Meta has said it is delaying the rollout of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) across its messaging services until 2023 over child safety concerns.

Meta, formerly Facebook, has been working for some time to provide unified E2EE across its various messaging services, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The move has been criticized by some legislators over concerns about child safety and the ability to solve, or even prevent, crimes.

WhatsApp already has E2EE, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in early November the company was rolling out E2EE across Messenger. This plans appear to be paused, according to an article in The Telegraph, by Antigone Davis, Meta Global Head of Safety.

“We’ll continue engaging with outside experts and developing effective solutions to combat abuse because our work in this area is never done,” says Davis. “We’re taking our time to get this right and we don’t plan to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023. As a company that connects billions of people around the world and has built industry-leading technology, we’re determined to protect people’s private communications and keep people safe online.”

The move is sure to disappoint customers and privacy proponents.

Instagram May Soon Allow Adding Moderators to Live Videos

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Instagram may be taking a major step forward in helping users keep discussion about their live videos civil, with the addition of moderators.

Instagram, like most social media platforms, struggles with issues balancing engagement with toxic online culture. Comments can quickly turn negative, starting a groundswell of backlash.

According to noted leaker Alessandro Paluzzi, Instagram is looking to let users approve moderators for live videos.

There’s no timeline given for when users can expect the new feature.