John P. Mello Jr.

About the Author John P. Mello Jr.


Online Advertising

Google Launches Offensive Against Annoying Ads

Google’s Chrome Web browser has begun blocking some of the Net’s most annoying types of ads. Chrome’s built-in ad filter blocks ads based on standards devised by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group whose membership roster includes Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and The Washington Post. The group aims to improve consumer experiences with advertising.

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Home Tech

Critics Love HomePod’s Sound but Rap Its Smarts

Critics have begun weighing in on Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, and they’re loving the device’s sound but don’t have much affection for its smarts. The HomePod’s sound outclassed top-shelf competitor SonosOne, according to Matthew Panzarino. “The HomePod was the ‘best’ sounding. It’s nuanced and subtle with great separation and clarity across all kinds of music,” he wrote.

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Wearable Tech

Intel’s Smart Peepers Look Smart, Too

Intel has designed a pair of smart glasses that won’t make you look like a hopeless geek. Called “Vaunt,” the peepers, which are still in the prototype phase, look like ordinary glasses, save for a faint, red glimmer that occasionally appears on the right lens. Information sent to the glasses appear to be displayed on a screen but in reality is beamed to the retina of a wearer’s eye.

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Health

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan Aim to Untangle Employee Healthcare Knot

Three corporate giants on Tuesday announced they were banding together to provide healthcare for their 1.1 million employees. The companies — Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase — plan to form a company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” in order to improve employee satisfaction with their healthcare coverage as well as reduce costs.

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Home Tech

Apple’s HomePod Set to Barge Into Hot Speaker Market

HomePod, Apple’s long-awaited entry into the torrid smart speaker market, will be available Feb. 9. The HomePod will be offered in white and space gray. It can be pre-ordered at Apple’s website for $349 starting Friday. Unlike other smart speakers, which support a variety of music services out of the gate, HomePod will support the Apple Music subscription service exclusively.

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Wireless Networking

Google Device Bug Chokes Home WiFi Networks

A bug in the software used by Google Cast devices such as Chromecast and Home can slow down or crash WiFi networks. The problem — initially believed to be isolated to a particular router model made by TP-Link — appears to affect models made by other manufacturers, including Asus, Linksys, Netgear and Synology. Complaints on a Google user forum brought the problem to light earlier this week.

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Service Providers

Study: Community-Owned Broadband Beats Commercial ISPs on Price

Community-owned fiber-to-home broadband networks generally charge less for entry-level service than private providers, according to Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Despite lower “teaser rates” private providers offer during the first year of service, publicly-owned fiber-to-the-home networks in 23 of 27 communities examined offered lower-priced service.

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Smartphones

Apple Skirts Tech Addiction Issue in Response to Worried Investors

Apple has responded to an open letter from investors who called for the company to address the negative impact of the iPhone on children and teens. Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System have urged Apple to give parents more choices and tools to help ensure that young consumers are using the company’s products “in an optimal manner.”

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Social Networking

Social Media or Social Disease?

Is social media evolving into an antisocial medium? Days after one of its former execs argued that the answer is yes, Facebook published a post addressing the issue. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, who once served as vice president for growth at Facebook. There is a lack of civil discourse, he added.

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Personal Computers

Creatives Not Likely to Blanch at iMac Pro’s $5K Price

Apple will release a professional version of its all-in-one iMac desktop computer with a $5,000 price tag on Thursday. Up to now, all-in-one computers in general and iMacs in particular have been seen as stylish offerings for home and family, but Apple has changed that in a big way with the iMac Pro. Apple has given the Pro workstation-class graphics, processors, storage, memory and I/O — all without increasing the size of the iMac.

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Privacy

Oops… Some HP Laptops Shipped With Hidden Keylogger

Some HP laptops users came with a preinstalled program to capture the keystrokes of users, a security researcher recently discovered. The researcher, Michael Myng aka “ZwClose,” discovered the keylogger software while trying to solve a keyboard problem for a friend. The software is turned off by default. After Myng contacted HP about the program, it quickly released a patch to get rid of it.

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Cybersecurity

Quantum Key Distribution Gets a Speed Boost

A method for scrambling data to protect it from the super powerful computers of the future has received a speed boost from a team of researchers from Duke and Ohio State universities and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The method uses quantum key distribution to guard data from prying eyes. The problem in the past with the technology is it’s slow. Transfer speeds typically are measured in kilobits per second.

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Business

Major Players Roll Up Sleeves to Solve Open Source Licensing Problems

Four big tech players this week moved to improve their handling of open source software licensing violations. Red Hat, Google, Facebook and IBM said they would apply error standards in GNU GPLv3 to all of their open source licensing, even licenses granted under older GPL agreements. “This will make everything consistent with GPLv3,” said IP attorney Lawrence Rosen.

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Customer Service

Facebook Messenger Jumps to Business Websites

Facebook on Tuesday announced that it was preparing a plugin to its popular Messenger platform that will allow a website’s visitors to chat with a human or bot without leaving the location. Customer Chat is one of a number of changes in the version 2.2 update of Messenger platform revealed at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The chat plugin will be available on desktop and mobile devices.

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Malware

Marcher Malware Poses Triple Threat to Android Users

A three-pronged banking malware campaign has been infecting Android phones since the beginning of this year, according to Proofpoint. Attackers have been stealing credentials, planting the Marcher banking Trojan on phones, and nicking credit card information. So far, they have targeted customers of BankAustria, Raiffeisen Meine Bank and Sparkasse, but the campaign could spread beyond Vienna.

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Smartphones

iPhone X Delivers on Apple’s Promises and That’s Plenty, Say Reviewers

Reviews of Apple’s next generation iPhone X have started appearing online, and for the most part, critics have showered praise on the product. “The iPhone X is clearly the best iPhone ever made,” wrote Nilay Patel. “It’s thin, it’s powerful, it has ambitious ideas about what cameras on phones can be used for, and it pushes the design language of phones into a strange new place.”

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Social Networks

Taking the News Out of Facebook’s News Feed Could Hurt Publishers

A new feature that Facebook recently has been testing in a handful of countries could hurt publishers everywhere if it should roll out globally. The feature removes users’ Liked pages from their main News Feed and aggregates them in a separate space called “Explore.” In the six countries where Facebook has been testing the idea, traffic to news outlets reportedly has dropped 60-80 percent.

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M-Commerce

Google Aims to Turbocharge Online Checkout

Google on Monday rolled out an online payment service that’s designed to accelerate the online checkout process. While the new offering isn’t quite Amazon One-Click, it will eliminate many of the annoying steps that can slow down the online purchase process and often result in abandoned shopping carts. Pay with Google uses address and credit or debit card information users provide to Google to speed them through checkout.

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M-Commerce

Google Aims to Turbocharge Online Checkout

Google on Monday rolled out an online payment service that’s designed to accelerate the online checkout process. While the new offering isn’t quite Amazon One-Click, it will eliminate many of the annoying steps that can slow down the online purchase process and often result in abandoned shopping carts. Pay with Google uses address and credit or debit card information users provide to Google to speed them through checkout.

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