RIP Windows 95 Icons

May 06, 2021 - 10:21 PM - by Reverend
Bits and pieces of Microsoft’s sweeping aesthetic changes to Windows 10, codenamed Sun Valley, have dropped over the last few months. The OS is getting support for the Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) codec over Bluetooth, new folder icons, and reportedly a much-needed overhaul to its Microsoft Store user interface. But Microsoft is also finally getting rid of remnants of Windows 95 that have somehow stuck around for 25 years: custom folder icons.

According to Windows Latest, the Sun Valley update expected later this year modernizes the extra folder icons in the Shell32.DLL module, the module that’s existed in all Windows operating systems since Windows 95. If you’re unsure what those are, create a new folder on your Windows 10 desktop. Right click on it, go to Properties, click on the Customize tab, and then click on the Change Icon button at the bottom. That tiny window that pops up with all those icons? Those have been around since the mid-’90s, and are soon getting a facelift.

Microsoft has quietly made subtle changes to a few of those icons over the years, but nothing as robust has what’s coming to Windows 10. Classic icons like the hibernation monitor and floppy disks look totally different, although modernized to match the style of the new Drive and Recycle Bin desktop icons in the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21343.

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Google is turning on two-factor authentication by default

May 06, 2021 - 10:15 PM - by Reverend
It's World Password Day and Google is marking the occasion by pointing out how passwords alone aren't enough to secure your accounts and data. The company's placing a bigger emphasis on two-factor authentication (which it calls two-step verification or 2SV) by activating it on Google accounts by default.

People who have set up 2SV will be asked to confirm the right person is signing in to an account by tapping a prompt on their phone. The company says it will soon start switching on 2SV for everyone automatically, as long as their Google account is set up in the right way. You can check whether that's the case for you through the Google account Security Checkup. You'll have the option to opt out, but that's perhaps not the best course of action.

This is an expansion of an authentication feature Google has had for a while. It might ask you to confirm your identity with an Android prompt or through the Smart Lock, Gmail or Google app on iPhone, as long as you're signed into the same account. Tapping a prompt is certainly easier than having to punch in a code and Google says it's more secure than other 2SV methods. Although this only works for Google accounts, it's highly recommended to turn on two-factor authentication on every account that supports it.

Passwords aren't entirely a thing of the past, though. In a blog post announcing the 2SV change, Google noted that it has a secure password manager for Chrome, Android and iOS that can autofill your login details on sites and apps.

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Twitter rolls out bigger images and cropping control on iOS and Android

May 06, 2021 - 10:09 PM - by Reverend
Twitter just made a change to the way it displays images that has visual artists on the social network celebrating.

In March, Twitter rolled out a limited test of uncropped, larger images in users’ feeds. Now, it’s declared those tests a success and improved the image sharing experience for everybody.

On Twitter for Android or iOS, standard aspect ratio images (16:9 and 4:3) will now display in full without any cropping. Instead of gambling on how an image will show up in the timeline — and potentially ruining an otherwise great joke — images will look just like they did when you shot them.

Twitter’s new system will show anyone sharing an image a preview of what it will look like before it goes live in the timeline, resolving past concerns that Twitter’s algorithmic cropping was biased toward highlighting white faces.

“Today’s launch is a direct result of the feedback people shared with us last year that the way our algorithm cropped images wasn’t equitable,” Twitter spokesperson Lauren Alexander said. The new way of presenting images decreases the platform’s reliance on automatic, machine learning-based image cropping.

Super tall or wide images will still get a centered crop, but Twitter says it’s working to make that better too, along with other aspects of how visual media gets displayed in the timeline.

For visual artists like photographers and cartoonists who promote their work on Twitter, this is actually a pretty big deal. Not only will photos and other kinds of art score more real estate on the timeline, but artists can be sure that they’re putting their best tweet forward without awkward crops messing stuff up.

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Ubisoft announces new free-to-play game, The Division Heartland

May 06, 2021 - 10:04 PM - by Reverend
Ubisoft has announced a new, free-to-play game set in The Division universe: Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland. Heartland is in development at Ubisoft’s Red Storm studio, the publisher said Thursday, and is expected out in 2021 or 2022.

Details on the new game are slim; Ubisoft called Heartland a “standalone game that doesn’t require previous experience with the series,” but said the game “will provide an all new perspective on the universe in a new setting.” It’s coming to consoles, Windows PC, and the cloud, Ubisoft said.

An exact release window wasn’t given — just from 2021 to 2022 — but Ubisoft did provide a link for players to access an early test run of the game. No word on when Heartland’s testing will begin.

Ubisoft’s last Division game, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, was released in March 2019. The game, developed by Massive Entertainment (with support from Red Storm), is set in Washington, D.C. after the viral outbreak that kicked off 2016’s Tom Clancy’s The Division in New York. Players are agents of the fictitious Strategic Homeland Division, trying to keep things under control amidst a devastating pandemic. Given the Heartland name, we can safely assume that the newest game will be set in the rural American Midwest.

As for gameplay, Ubisoft hasn’t said what format Heartland will take. It’s possible Ubisoft could follow in the footsteps of Epic Games and Electronic Arts in creating a battle royale game like Fortnite or Apex Legends. Something akin to Riot Games’ Valorant, which is a five-on-five game, is possible, too.

Ubisoft also... [Read More]
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Adobe Flash Will Finally Be Removed From Windows 10 in July

May 04, 2021 - 10:06 PM - by Reverend
Adobe's Flash Player reached the end of its life as 2020 came to a close, but the software continues to linger on Windows machines around the world. However, Microsoft has a plan, and intends to rid Windows 10 of Flash forever no later than July.

Microsoft attempted to remove the Flash Player from Windows 10 back in October last year, but ultimately failed to do so. The Windows update released to carry out the removal didn't check to see if Flash had been installed using Adobe's standalone installer, meaning if you have ever installed Flash Player manually, it remains on your system. Now in an update to a Windows Blog post, Microsoft program manager Suchithra Gopinath has detailed a new plan.

From June, the Windows update KB4577586, described as “Update for Removal of Adobe Flash Player,” will be included with the Preview Update for Windows 10 versions 1809. Then in July, the same KB4577586 update will be included in the Latest Cumulative Update for Windows 10, versions 1607 and Windows 10, version 1507. It's also making its way into the Monthly Rollup and the Security Only Update for Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Embedded 8 Standard.

Once that happens, Flash will be removed automatically as part of the Windows Update and without the user having to do anything. Microsoft also notes that updating to Windows 10, version 21H1 or later will trigger Flash to be removed automatically.

Chances are, if you're reading this then Flash has already been removed from your system. Microsoft's plan will simply ensure any systems that don't get manually updated will definitely have Flash removed. It serves no purpose now anyway, with Adobe no longer offering it for download and web browsers no longer supporting its use.

... [Read More]
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Instagram will now let you auto-caption Stories with just a sticker

May 04, 2021 - 10:02 PM - by Reverend
Instagram now has a captions sticker for Stories, which will automatically transcribe speech in videos. The sticker will be available only in “English and English-speaking countries” for now but will eventually roll out to other languages and countries. Instagram says it will also start testing automated captions in Reels soon.

Captions have been available in IGTV and the Threads app, and Instagram says it’s adding them to Stories and Reels to make them more efficient and inclusive to watch. The feature should be a welcome addition for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, are not native English speakers, or just generally watch videos without sound.

Like other text options in Stories, users can adjust the style and color of the captions after they’re generated. People can also edit individual words in the captions to correct spelling, punctuation, or any words that weren’t transcribed accurately. Auto captions rarely have perfect accuracy, especially for people with accents or atypical speech, so editing is crucial. There’s currently no option to have the text highlighted for better visual contrast, but you can use the draw tool or a sticker behind the captions to make them easier to see.

Other platforms and services have recently added or improved auto-captioning options. Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams all offer automated captions for video calls. Google expanded its Live Caption feature across the Chrome browser in March, and TikTok launched automatic captions for American English and Japanese last month. Twitter announced Monday that it’s planning improvements for the captioning it offers in Spaces.

The Verge
  0 Replies | 143 Views

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