Hack of VP Pence’s personal email last year may have included state business

The vice president’s personal email was hacked last year, and it turns out that the hackers may have had access to official state business, which Pence reportedly conducted on it. But wait — put down the pitchfork (for now, anyway).

 

The facts are these: A public records request filed by the Indy Star showed that Pence indeed used his AOL account (Aol with lowercase letters owns TechCrunch, but it’s not really relevant) to discuss policy with his advisors and even FBI war-on-terror type business.

It must be said that there is no small amount of hypocrisy in that Pence, who was among the many politicians who loudly decried Hillary Clinton’s use of private email for state business, was himself using a private email for state business, but the situations are different in important ways.

Although using one’s personal email address for official communications is, generally speaking, a pretty bad idea, it’s not illegal. As was concluded in Clinton’s case, this shows irresponsibility, but is not any kind of criminal offense.

Pence also wasn’t handling documents with federal protections — classified or top secret, that sort of thing. Again, he shouldn’t have been handling any business via his AOL account, but what he did handle wasn’t hugely important.

The emails in question were filed and retained dutifully as required by Indiana law, which is accommodating of the fact that these things sometimes happen.

 Pence was also using a private email address, but wasn’t running his own private email server, which is an important distinction. Among other things, AOL’s service is subject to restrictions and authorities that could lawfully compel it to produce emails or records — difficult to enforce with a private server like the one the Clintons used. And that’s not getting into the security implications.

The hack (which the Indy Star also reported on) occurred in June, and Pence wasn’t chosen (publicly, anyway) to be Trump’s running mate until July. That the hack resulted in Pence’s contacts being spammed with requests for money suggests it was the kind of hacker who targets prominent rich people, not a state actor looking to mine Pence’s personal records for juicy details on the Indiana state executive.

Lastly, it really is standard practice in government to have a personal and official email, as well as a third for off-record communication. Sometimes these might not all be available, and it would be troubling to have a governor be unable to address an emergency because he left his Blackberry at the office. So the lines get crossed now and then, and the law is there not to prevent that, but to make sure that when it happens, it stays on the record.

Pence is on the right side of the law here, but, like many others, the wrong side of security best practices. And this combination of circumstances is exactly why: Public officials are targets, and it is irresponsible to allow state information to be put at risk through lax security. Pence deserves criticism for this embarrassing but luckily not particularly damaging lapse — but don’t get carried away.

Airtel Announces ‘War on Roaming’ With Free Incoming Calls, No Outgoing Premium

Bharti Airtel on Monday announced revisions to its domestic and international roaming charges. With the new announcement, Airtel will stop charging for incoming calls while roaming across India. Additionally, the company says that it will stop asking for premium charges on outgoing calls while roaming. For international roaming starting April 1 2017, the company says it will offer customers protection from bill shocks.

Airtel Announces 'War on Roaming' With Free Incoming Calls, No Outgoing Premium

Airtel said that call charges have been reduced by up to 90 percent to as low as Rs. 3 per minute on international roaming while data charges by up to 99 percent to Rs. 3 per MB across popular roaming destinations.

The company in a press statement announcing new roaming revisions calls it “Death of National Roaming” where it will offer free incoming calls and SMS. Airtel also claims no bill shocks while roaming overseas where the company will start automatically adjusting daily billing to the price of basic one day pack even for customers who don’t buy a roaming pack.

The telecom company further talking how the new international roaming pricing works explains that if a customer is travelling to the USA without a roaming pack and hits the threshold of Rs, 649, which is also the price of the one day pack for the USA, the customer will be automatically moved to the one day pack with free incoming calls/SMS, 100 India and local country outgoing minutes, 300 MB data and other benefits. Similarly, customers traveling to Singapore will be moved to one day pack when they touch Rs. 499.

Commenting on the announcement, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel said, “At Airtel, we are changing the international roaming paradigm, which will allow our customers to take their number to every corner of the world. As an industry, operators across the world must collaborate to remove the cost barrier to roaming and offer customers the convenience of staying connected without the fear of exorbitant bill charges.”

Alt Twitter government accounts spring up to challenge Trump

Alternative facts and fake news, meet Alt-Twitter. In the last few days, a growing number of Twitter accounts have been started claiming to be the “alternative” or “rogue” voices of U.S. government workers and agencies.p1170191 1

It started with the brouhaha over tweets from two National Park Service accounts and the reaction to them from the White House.

An @AltNatParkSer account quickly sprang up claiming to be the “unofficial resistance team of U.S. National Park Service” and has to-date amassed 1.3 million followers — that’s three times as many followers and the legitimate @NatlParkService account.

The account says it’s run by environmental activists and journalists, not government workers, and that’s the case for many of the other alternative accounts that are now online.

Like the Alt US Forest Service, Rogue NASA, Alt CDC, and NOAA Uncensored, many of the tens of accounts appear to be set up by sympathizers to show support for science-focused agencies that are facing changes and restrictions under the new administration.

But not all.

Perhaps none is as daring as @RoguePOTUSStaff, which purports to come directly from the White House. It has been tweeting out overhead conversations and White House gossip to its 83,000 followers since Wednesday.

For anyone following presidential politics this week, it makes for juicy reading but — and this is important — no-one can say for sure whether any of it is real.

The bio on the account claims it is run by “the unofficial resistance team inside the White House,” but that’s all. The person or people running the account have been asked for verification but have declined to provide it.

It’s worth remembering that the fake news stories that rose to prominence during the election campaign were written in a way to confirm suspicions or beliefs that a group of the electorate already held, and the same can be said of the RoguePOTUSStaff Twitter feed if the audience is scared and skeptical liberals.

But the account holder does at least appear to have some knowledge of government affairs, writing on Friday that the account could be a “violation of Hatch Act.”

The Hatch Act is legislation that prohibits government employees from engaging in political acts while on the job.

For now, the alternative accounts don’t represent a big challenge to official outlets. The government’s U.S. Digital Registry lists 3,347 official Twitter accounts, so the resistance has some way to go.

Windows 10 Build 15019 may be about games, but its many bugs could spoil the fun

The gaming-focused Windows 10 Insider build that Microsoft promised earlier this week, with Game Mode, Beam livestreaming and other features, is rolling out—but with some game-breaking bugs, unfortunately.Windows 10 game bar beam broadcasting windows 10

What’s officially known as Build 15019 for the Insider Fast Ring also includes a number of more general improvements, including a version of Edge that will read your ebooks aloud and a better out-of-box experience, complete with voice actors to guide you through the process.

If you’re hoping to try out the new PC-centric Game Mode for yourself, though, be wary: Microsoft warned that unspecified “popular games” may experience crashes or black screens when loading, and clicking on certain elements in a Win32 game may cause it to be minimized (and therefore unplayable) unless killed. Even the new Game Mode will show up as OFF when in fact it’s enabled by default. Also, be aware of one download glitch: The issue Microsoft had with its progress bar is still there, so the download will still show “0% completed” even when it’s actually downloading.

“We recognize that this is painful for those wanting to try out the new gaming features announced this week,” Microsoft’s Insider chief, Dona Sarkar, wrote in a blog post. “We deliberated a lot on whether to release this build to Insiders with these issues; however we decided to go ahead and release it as we need feedback from Insiders on other areas of the OS.”

Windows 10 game mode

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Windows 10’s new Game Mode settings, which are designed to optimize your PC for gaming.

Build 15019 is specifically optimized for gaming, with new additions to both the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms. (A separate build for Xbox Insiders should roll out today, with support for Screentime, a parental control that is already on Windows 10.) Our previous story outlined the new additions, but we’ll briefly recap them here:

a specific mode for the PC that minimizes the resources other background tasks have at their disposal, giving the game all of the resources your PC can spare. My colleague Brad Chacos has outlined what Game Mode does for your PC. The Windows Game Bar now supports 17 more games in fullscreen mode, including Battlefield 3, Call of Duty Black Ops 2, FIFA 14 and FIFA 17, Rocket League, and more.

Microsoft has consolidated gaming controls for Game Bar, GameDVR, and more into a Gaming section in Windows 10’s Settings.

Microsoft bought Beam and its livestreaming technology last year to take the games you’re playing on Windows 10 and the Xbox and broadcast them to others on the Internet. You’ll be able to trigger the Game Bar (Win + G) and show others how fast you can drive in Forza Horizon 3.

Windows 10 download bar

Microsoft

Action Center now keeps tabs on your games.

Microsoft also revealed a small additional convenience: If you buy a game from the Microsoft Store app, you’ll be able to track its download progress in the Action Center notifications. The company also fixed a bug that would crash the display controller if an Xbox controller was attached, and another that could cause the screen to flicker if a player used Alt + Tab to change focus to another window.

Having just reset a balky Surface Pro 4 that couldn’t get past Build 15002, I can confirm that the out-of-box experience that build introduced is excellent—and Build 15019 promises to improve on it even more. Setting up a new PC is now voice-driven: Cortana asks you the questions you’d normally have to be at your keyboard to answer. (For those who are unable to hear Cortana, there are now subtitles.)

Windows 10 out of the box experience

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Cortana will guide you through the new “Out of the box” setup experience,

With build 15002 and the latest build 15019, you can be working away at another PC while Cortana’s voice asks you if you’d like to accept the default options and other questions. It’s fun to holler “Yes!” and keep typing.

At one point during build 15002’s reset process, Cortana’s voice was replaced by a more robotic text-to-speech voice. That’s been fixed, with additional voice acting in place to maintain a consistent, pleasant tone. A bit of spit and polish has updated the UI, including the way in which you sign in with a Microsoft account. Windows Hello enrollment, which simply asks you to smile at the camera for a second or two, has also been updated.

I have sporadic issues at my home office where my Wi-Fi connection needs to be reset, requiring me to right-click my Wi-Fi icon on the Taskbar and launch the troubleshooter. For Build 15019, Microsoft’s grouped all of the Troubleshooter options inside Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot so you can see the complete list, including tools for resolving printer issues, Windows updates, Bluetooth, and more.

Windows 10 troubleshooters

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The collected Troubleshooters.

Build 15019 adds a number of other useful features, most of which don’t require that much additional explanation:

  • A new “read aloud” button in Microsoft Edge will read ebooks stored in Edge in 24 languages.
    Windows 10 Microsoft edge aloud

    Microsoft

    Edge’s new “read aloud” interface.

    Full-color emoji, on those sites that use them.Blue light support, which removes the blue colors your display produces late at night so as to help prevent insomnia. (Microsoft now calls the feature “night light.”)If you use the Hyper-V feature to create virtual machines, you can now resize the window and the guest OS will rescale the resolution appropriately.

The world’s largest solar farm contains 2.5 million solar modules

With the construction of the world’s biggest solar farm, India is taking a step toward its goal of generating 40 percent of its power using non-fossil fuels by 2030.solar farm

The farm, located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, spans 2,500 acres. That’s the size of 60 Taj Mahals. The project was funded by the Adani Group and cost $679 million. It can produce 648 megawatts of electricity. The world’s second-largest solar farm, in California, produces 550 megawatts.

“We have a deep commitment to nation-building. We plan to produce 11,000 MW of solar energy in the next five years, putting India on the global map of renewable energy,” said Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group.

By 2022, the country hopes to power 60 million homes with the sun’s rays.

US tech industry says immigration order affects their operations

The U.S. tech industry has warned that a temporary entry suspension on certain foreign nationals introduced on Friday by the administration of President Donald Trump will impact these companies’ operations that are dependent on foreign workers.Trump inauguration

The Internet Association, which has a number of tech companies including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft as its members, said that Trump’s executive order limiting immigration and movement into the U.S. has troubling implications as its member companies and firms in many other industries include legal immigrant employees who are covered by the orders and will not be able to return back to their jobs and families in the U.S.

“Their work benefits our economy and creates jobs here in the United States,” said Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman in a statement over the weekend.

Executives of a number of tech companies like Twitter, Microsoft and Netflix have expressed concern about the executive order signed by Trump, which suspended for 90 days entry into the U.S. of persons from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – as immigrants and non-immigrants. The Trump administration has described the order as a move to prevent foreign terrorist entry into the U.S.

Tech companies like Uber, Apple, Microsoft and Google are in touch with employees affected by the order, according to reports. Uber is working on a scheme to compensate some of its drivers who come from the listed countries and had taken long breaks to see their extended families and are now unable to come back to the U.S., wrote CEO Travis Kalanick, who is a member of Trump’s business advisory group.

“As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world,” wrote Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, in an online post over the weekend. “We will continue to advocate on this important topic.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a Facebook post that “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all.”

The tech industry is also concerned about further moves by the government on immigration policy that could place restrictions on visas for the entry of people who help these companies run their operations and develop products and services. The H-1B visa program have been criticized for replacing U.S. workers.

Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a note to employees on Saturday that the company believes in “a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system.”

About 150 Delta flights in the US canceled after systems outage

About 150 flights of Delta Air Lines in the U.S. were canceled and some others were delayed on Sunday on account of an IT systems outage, the airline reported.delta air lines aircraft

Delta said more flight cancellations were expected.

The IT systems outage at Delta is the latest of a number that have affected airline operations recently.

Delta reported earlier that its teams were working to fix quickly a systems outage that has resulted in departure delays and cancellations. It did not provide information on the systems issue that had caused the outage.

“Not all delays and cancellations are being reflected on Delta systems, including delta.com, the Fly Delta App, airport information screens or through our Reservations agents,” the airline said. It reported at 11:45 p.m. EST that a ground stop had been lifted.

The Federal Aviation Administration had earlier reported a ground stop for all Delta mainline and sub-carrier flights to domestic destinations. The agency cited “automation issues” at Delta and said international flights were not affected.

After the lifting of the ground stop, Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized to customers affected by “this frustrating situation.” On Twitter and other social media, a number of flyers complained about the delays. Airports reported varying duration of delays of flights. At one point, Denver International Airport reported that Delta flights at the airport were “delayed an average of 90 minutes but still moving.”

Delta had reassured users that flights in the air remain unaffected, but added that some customers are experiencing delays upon landing, particularly at Delta’s hub airports. The airline is providing updates on its web site.

The airline faced an outage in August, when it said that a power outage in its operations center in Atlanta had affected its computer systems and operations worldwide, leading to flight delays.

Delta has 830 aircraft of which 644 are owned by the airline, while the rest are leased. It operates more than 15,000 daily flights including those by worldwide alliance partners, and serves 180 million customers each year. Rival United Airlines also reported an outage earlier this month, citing an IT issue.

LG leaks seemingly reveal G6, co-designed Google watches

CNET has released additional information about the G6. This article has been updated to reflect this news.lg g6 leak

With the Mobile World Congress show just about a month away, rumors are starting to ramp up, but we might have already seen the biggest leak of all. With Samsung bowing out of MWC to fine-tune the Galaxy S8 a little longer, the star of this year’s show might very well be the LG G6, and the first purported partial image of the new handset is already in the wild.

The Verge has published what appears to be an official product shot of the G6, and it looks like it’s going to be a stunner. As expected, the handset features narrower bezels than the G5 and a 5.7-inch Quad HD LCD screen with a unique super-wide 2:1 ratio. According to the site, the phone will dispense of the modular chin that the G5 introduced, focusing instead on turning heads with an all-glass design.

Elsewhere, the phone is expected to retain the 3.5mm headphone jack and be waterproof, while retaining the G5’s dual-camera setup and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, since there won’t be room for it on the front. The Verge reports that the G6’s screen-to-bezel ratio “is greater than 90 percent, and though its bottom isn’t shown in the image, it’s only slightly taller than the top bezel.”

In a separate report, CNET claims that in addition to ditching the modular concept for the G6, LG will completely seal the phone as it promotes full water resistance. That also means the battery will not be removable this time around, previously one of the standout features of LG’s flagships. Additionally, the publication confirms that the phone will be powered by the Snapdragon 821 rather than the upcoming 835, which is reportedly launching with the Galaxy S8 in April.

One bright spot for the G6, according to CNET, will be support for Google Assistant, which would make the handset one of the first phones other than the Pixel to include Google’s digital helper. HTC’s U Ultra is including is own assistant called Companion (though the company does have plans to incorporate Google Assistant at some point), and Huawei’s Mate 9 opted to partner with Amazon to include Alexa. CNET also reports that LG will be adding Alexa into the G6 “later this year.”

lg sport style leak

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TechnoBuffalo

The LG watches here match up to the earlier rumors of Sport and Style variants.

Also leaking on the LG front are low-resolution pics of what could very well be the Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches the company co-developed with Google. TechnoBuffalo has published a pair of images that match up pretty well with the rumors so far—two sizes, circular displays, a crown, a bit of chunkiness—but it’s hard to glean much else. It was previously reported that the larger model would feature a 1.38-inch display and sport a 480×480 screen, with the smaller Style having a 1.2-inch, 360×360 display.

Most notably, the larger Sport model pictured includes a pair of buttons above and below the crown, while the smaller Style watch does not. Previously, it had been reported that the larger model would include cellular connectivity, GPS, and NFC, so the buttons could be used for Android Pay or some other feature not available on the Style.

 While nothing is confirmed, the images here look like LG is going to seriously shake things up with its upcoming releases. While we’ll need to see the watches in person to get a true feel for them, the image of the G6 looks like a massive improvement over last year’s model, and with Samsung pushing its Galaxy S8 launch back, LG could be in a position to capitalize with an early sales boost. That would be good news for the company, as last year’s flagships failed to resonate much with consumers.

This story, “LG leaks seemingly reveal G6, co-designed Google watches” was originally published by Greenbot.

Google Maps now shows how hard it will be to park at your destination

The feature is now available in the full version of the app. This article has been updated to reflect this news.

If you’ve ever taken longer to find a parking spot than you did driving somewhere, Google Maps might be able to help—or at least prepare you for a headache. Thanks to a new feature in the latest version of the app, you’ll now be able to tell how hard it will be to park once you arrive at your destination.google maps parking

The new feature is easy to miss. The next time you pull up driving directions, you’ll see a small circular P icon to the right of your route overview, next to which will show three levels of parking difficulty: Easy, Medium, and Limited. (To make it easier to see at a glance, easy and medium are colored blue while limited is red.) While the feature doesn’t update to show the actual parking situation when you arrive (at least not yet), you can get a slightly longer description when you expand your directions.

The update is currently rolling out in the Google Play store, but if you’re not seeing it, you can sideload the Google-signed APK from APKMirror. Keep in mind that the feature is only available in 25 cities across the U.S: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, and the Washington D.C. area.

Parking can be a major headache when driving somewhere new, so we’ll take any information we can get. And with the new Uber integration built right into the app, a red circle could mean the difference between driving or being driven somewhere.

This story, “Google Maps now shows how hard it will be to park at your destination” was originally published by Greenbot.

Huge update brings the new Nvidia Shield TV’s flagship features to the original

A little more than a week ago, Nvidia put its second-generation Shield TV up for sale. On Thursday, the company followed up with a massive software refresh for the original Nvidia Shield that brings many of the new device’s features to the old Nvidia Shield Android TV

Rolling out now, the latest Shield Experience Upgrade brings the headlining feature of 4K high dynamic range support to the first generation device. HDR support works with video streaming on services like Amazon Video and Netflix, as well as with GameStream—the feature that lets you stream a game from your GeForce graphics card-equipped PC to your TV.

The new update also adds a new Nest app, allowing you to view all your Nest Cams at home. Other notable app additions include NFL, Twitter, Vimeo, and Comedy Central.

The underlying OS is also upgraded to Android 7.0 Nougat with support for picture-in-picture in compatible apps, a new settings menu, and a recently used apps page.

What the new upgrade doesn’t bring to old Shield devices is the promised smart home hub functions—at least not yet. These features aren’t yet on the second-generation device either so it’s not a suprise.

When smart home functionality does roll out the software will support the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols. Google Assistant—the same software behind Google Home and built into the Pixel smartphone—is also coming to the Shield, allowing for smart home voice control. One caveat for original Shield device owners: Those features require an always-on microphone and hence, the new Shield TV controller. Still, spending an extra $60 to bring your machine up to par with its successor is not a bad deal.