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Twitter launches conversation settings to restrict who can reply to your tweets

Written 3 days ago by IanDorfman

In an effort to make it easier for users to have meaningful conversations about their posts, Twitter's product management team has announced and implemented new settings that let you control who can reply to their tweets.

The announcement comes via a post on the official Twitter blog by its Director of Product Management Suzanne Xie. Now, before you send out a tweet, you can choose one of three options for who can reply to it. These options are the default "everyone" that's how Twitter has worked up to now, "only people you follow," and "only people you mention." The last two options are labelled and people who can't reply will see the icon for replies grayed out.

The feature has currently launched in a limited capacity across the Android, iOS, and web versions of Twitter. No time table has been given for when this feature will roll out to everyone.

Further coverage:
Twitter Blog

Written by iandorfman

Microsoft accompanies its annual Build 2020 with a slew of announcements

Written 5 days ago by IanDorfman

Microsoft's annual Build event went all digital this year in light of the coronavirus outbreak, and several announcements were made over the course of its 3-day run. As the event is historically focused on developers, these announcements were primarily aimed towards their interests along with enterprise and power users.

The five main categories that Microsoft announced new features for include Small Microsoft Azure iconMicrosoft Azure, Small Microsoft 365 iconMicrosoft 365, Small Windows 10 iconWindows 10, Small Bing iconBing and Small Microsoft Edge iconMicrosoft Edge, and the overall security of Microsoft's hardware and software. In addition to these 5 main categories, multiple acquisition and open source announcements were made, including the purchase of automation vendor Softomotive and open sourcing of 1983's GW-BASIC and the Fluid Framework collaboration tool for Office.

A repository of all of the new announcements from Build 2020 is available at Microsoft's official site

Further coverage:
ZDNet

Written by iandorfman

Coursera offering select free courses and course certification through July 31st, 2020

Written 7 days ago by IanDorfman

In the face of COVID-19, the online learning center Coursera is offering several courses and course certifications for free catering to a variety of skill sets, age groups, and subjects. This includes courses geared towards high school students ranging anywhere from calculus to beginner's guitar, as well as courses to further your professional development, such as creative problem solving to self branding.

Announced via a post on Coursera's official blog, it's mentioned that there have been and will continue to be free courses on offer, the unprecedented state of the world has made it so Small Coursera iconCoursera will be offering free certification in various topics for the next few months. The subjects of these courses range from public health and safety to language studies and cloud technology.

In order to enroll into courses for free, simply visit the course's promo page, such the "COVID-19: What you need to know" overview course, and then follow these steps provided by Coursera:

  1. Once the page has loaded, you will see a promotion banner at the top of the page. If you don’t see the banner, please refresh the page.
  2. Next, click the ‘Enroll for free’ button. Select “Purchase Course.” Note that with the promotion applied, there will be a message in parentheses that says “Your promotion will automatically be applied at checkout.”
  3. At checkout, your purchase total will read ‘$0’. Complete check out and start learning!

The free selection of courses and certificates that Coursera is offering will be available through July 31st, 2020.

Further coverage:
Coursera Blog

Written by iandorfman

Grand Theft Auto V free to claim (and keep) as part of the latest Epic Games Store sale

Written 10 days ago by IanDorfman

Fortnite creator Epic Games has made another power move in order to enter the mainstream PC gaming storefront conversation in the face of controversy: Grand Theft Auto V is now available to get (and keep) for free until May 21st, 2020 at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time.

The company explains that this latest promotion coincides with another "Epic Mega Sale" that runs until June 11th, 2020. Though the Small Epic Games Store iconEpic Games Store has been slow to adopt various quality of life features present on rival PC gaming storefronts such as Small GOG GALAXY iconGOG GALAXY and Small Steam iconSteam, it has been compensating for that deficiency by offering a steady stream of free game promotions every week (upgraded from every two weeks) since 2019. That being said, Grand Theft Auto V is undoubtedly the largest title the storefront has offered for free in terms of popularity and mainstream appeal.

Grand Theft Auto V is available for free to anyone with an Epic Games account with Two-Factor Authentication enabled for extra security.

For claiming Small Grand Theft Auto iconGrand Theft Auto V on the Epic Games Store, you receive a $10 "Epic Coupon" free of charge. This coupon applies to any purchase on the Epic Games Store valued at $14.99 or more. In addition to this, a new free game will be released every week of the sale, with a rumor that the next game on offer for free is set to be Small The Witcher iconThe Witcher III: Wild Hunt.

The Epic Games Store is available for Windows PC at EpicGames.com. Grand Theft Auto V can be claimed either from within the app or from its dedicated product page on the Epic Games website.

Further coverage:
Epic Games

Written by iandorfman

Google Play Music shutting down this year, YouTube Music transfers now available

Written 12 days ago by IanDorfman

As previously speculated, Google has announced the discontinuation of another service. Access to Google Play Music will be permanently shut down this year, and users are invited to transfer their music libraries, personal taste preferences and playlists to YouTube Music.

In the official YouTube blog post announcing the ability to transfer Google Play Music libraries over to Small YouTube Music iconYouTube Music, it was officially announced that Google Play Music will be shut down "later this year," with the company promising that it will give "plenty of notice" as to the exact details of the shutdown as they become clear.

Small Google Play Music iconGoogle Play Music joins several other services in the infamous Small Killed by Google iconKilled by Google graveyard. Though many of the features available on the service are also included on YouTube Music, such as variable free and premium tiers and support for personal music libraries and playlists, its podcast support is being officially succeeded by the Small Google Podcasts iconGoogle Podcasts service.

To transfer your Google Play Music library over to YouTube Music, visit music.youtube.com/transfer. Google has also posted an 11-part video series on how to migrate to and start using YouTube Music. There is also a separate dedicated podcast transfer service available at podcasts.google.com/transfer that migrates podcast subscriptions and listening progress over to Google Podcasts instead of YouTube Music.

Further coverage:
Official YouTube Blog

Written by iandorfman

New design for Facebook.com now live for everyone, includes built-in dark mode

Written 14 days ago by IanDorfman

Facebook has publicly launched the new desktop website layout that it announced for Facebook.com at its annual F8 conference last year. Alongside a renovated look, it also brings performance and functionality improvements along with much requested features like dark mode support.

The new Small Facebook iconFacebook desktop website has brought a complete visual identity overhaul to the world's most popular social network. Controls and iconography have been redesigned and rearranged, with fewer words and more space between posts. This brings it in line with its mobile app for Android and iOS.

The newly renovated navigation section on the left-hand side of the new layout makes the search bar, key site subsections, and shortcuts to your most used apps and visited groups easier to access than on the old layout. On top of navigation, the creation and management of advertisements, events, groups, and pages has also been redesigned. Page creation now features real-time previewing before it's published, including the ability to see how your group or page will look on Facebook's mobile layout.

The new facebook.com is now available worldwide on any desktop web browser.

Further coverage:
Facebook Newsroom

Written by iandorfman

Zoom is acquiring Keybase to add enterprise-scale end-to-end encryption

Written 17 days ago by IanDorfman

The Zoom teleconference service has today announced that it is acquiring secure messaging and file-sharing service Keybase for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition aims to help Zoom speed up its development plans to implement end-to-end encryption on the platform following its widely covered security controversies in the wake of COVID-19.

In Zoom's official announcement of the acquisition, the company lays out its plans for the near future. This includes implementing an end-to-end encrypted meeting mode for paid Small Zoom iconZoom users. The post emphasizes that it will have a detailed design draft of its cryptographic design to power end-to-end encryption by Friday, May 22nd.

In Keybase's post about the announcement, the team gives a summary of how Keybase's underlying technology operates and how it will be impacting Zoom. The post ends with the following statement:

"Initially, our single top priority is helping to make Zoom even more secure. There are no specific plans for the Keybase app yet. Ultimately Keybase's future is in Zoom's hands, and we'll see where that takes us. Of course, if anything changes about Keybase’s availability, our users will get plenty of notice."

With a strict focus on strengthening security, no changes are planned for Keybase in the immediate future. However, its long-term fate after it has successfully implemented its security practices into Zoom is yet to be seen. The Keybase team promises that it will "be in touch" if there are any changes set to be made to the Keybase app or service.

Further coverage:
Zoom Blog
Keybase Blog

Written by iandorfman

GitHub announces code scanning, private instances, and more at Satellite 2020

Written 19 days ago by IanDorfman

GitHub's annual Satellite conference is one that regularly comes with announcements about new features for the platform. Though the event was all digital this year due to COVID-19, the announcements still came, with 4 major highlights.

In an official GitHub blog post, GitHub's Senior Vice President of Product Shanku Niyogi announced and detailed the following 4 major features that are either available for beta testing or coming soon:

• Codespaces: a fully-featured, cloud-hosted development environment that launches within GitHub directly in seconds; it supports custom code and dependencies

• GitHub Discussions: Built into project repositories, Discussions is a way to organize sporadic conversations surrounding project development using a threaded format that supports answered question labeling and doesn't close topics after after they're "resolved" in order to maintain collaborative documentation and FAQs

• Code scanning: Using CodeQL, every "git push" is scanned for new potential security vulnerabilities, and results are displayed directly in your pull request

• GitHub Private Instances: A suite of enhanced security, compliance, and policy features that include bring-your-own-key encryption support, backup archiving, and regional data sovereignty requirement compliance

Between Codespaces, the new Discussions community collaboration feature, code scanning, and Private Instances, GitHub has shown features geared towards both improved collaboration and more refined security. Codespaces, Discussions, and code scanning are now available to beta test, with Private Instances only being listed with a "coming soon" timetable.

Further coverage:
The GitHub Blog

Written by iandorfman

Inkscape 1.0 now available with new features and a native macOS app

Written 20 days ago by IanDorfman

The development team behind Inkscape has officially released version 1.0 of the vector graphics editor after over three years of development.

In the news post announcing this major release, the team describes how it was only possible due to the volunteer developers that have ensured that Small Inkscape iconInkscape remains free and open source software. There were also 20 languages that the program was translated into in time for its 1.0 stable release.

Alongside to 20+ languages that Inkscape is now available in, the 1.0 release comes with several major additions to functionality, including new view modes, canvas mirroring and manipulation in freestyle drawing mode, support for line drawing vectorization, and new path effects. Other major implementations include support for PDF export (with clickable links and metadata) and web browser-compatible mesh gradients and flowed text.

The list of changes in this article is far from exhaustive; see more of them in the official release notes. Inkscape 1.0 is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Further coverage:
Inkscape news post

Written by iandorfman

Reddit removed built-in chat room functionality from subreddits after one day

Written 24 days ago by IanDorfman

The Reddit link sharing-focused social network announced, launched, and rapidly removed integrated real-time chatroom functionality from its numerous "subreddit" communities.

2 days after announcing the feature, Reddit has removed the new "Start Chatting" functionality from subreddits after several issues arose and were shared by subreddit moderators. These include harassment, taking advantage of those who are suspect to abuse and fraud, and other exploiting users that are otherwise vulnerable. Additionally, for subreddits that are carefully moderated and curated, this feature was both unexpected and not given proper support for moderation in line with their rules. Additionally, there was no way to opt out of hosting a chat room.

When disabling the feature, Small Reddit iconReddit gave the following statement:

"Reddit’s users, moderators and communities are at the core of every product decision we make, and our intention in rolling out ‘Start Chatting’ was to give Redditors a new avenue to connect with each other during these difficult times. Given the issues and concerns expressed by our users and moderators throughout the last 24 hours, we’ve made the decision to disable Start Chatting so we can reassess our rollout plan and evolve the product to meet the needs of our community.”

Reddit did not give a timetable for relaunching its chat room functionality for subreddits, but did promise that it will not do so until it can give each subreddit administrator "ample notice," "regular updates," and a way to opt out.

Further coverage:
Engadget
The Verge

Written by iandorfman

Google Meet for individuals free with a call time limit of 60 minutes starting 2020/9/30

Written 26 days ago by IanDorfman

In a move to make another web video conferencing solution available to more people, Google has announced that its previously paid-only Google Meet video meeting service will now be available for free for anyone that has a Google Account.

The announcement comes via an official blog post by G Suite's Vice President and General Manager Javier Soltero. Soltero says that this move was inspired by how video conferencing has brought people together via a time of unparalleled social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. This change, however, is not limited to the next few months.

Unlike Small Google Duo iconGoogle Duo or Small Hangouts iconHangouts, Small Google Meet iconGoogle Meet is designed for larger and/or more professional conferencing needs geared towards enterprise and education. That said, Meet's daily usage has grown by over 30 times its previous high since January of this year. Making it available for free is expected to increase this exponentially.

Unlike other video conferencing solutions that have been made available from Microsoft and several others, Google Meet will not allow for users without Google Accounts to join Google Meet rooms created by non-enterprise accounts. This is in order to ensure that Meet provides as secure a service as possible, and works alongside robust meeting controls for hosts.

Google Meet will be freely available for individual use starting today and rolling out over the next few weeks. In early May, Meet will be available for "anyone with an email address," with the primary limitation being 60 minutes per conference call. Google Meet can be accessed by going to meet.google.com.

Further coverage:
Google blog post
TechCrunch
The Verge
VentureBeat
ZDNet

Written by iandorfman

Facebook launches Messenger Rooms, up to 50-person video calls with no time limit

Written 29 days ago by IanDorfman

Facebook has announced that its flagship Messenger service is launching a group conference video calling feature called Messenger Rooms.

Like other recent Small Zoom iconZoom alternatives from the likes of Google and Microsoft, Messenger Rooms do not require participants other than the host to have a Facebook account, with rooms being joinable via a shareable link. Regardless of whether or not the participants have accounts, these conference calls have no time limit or arbitrary limitations.

Facebook decided to finish development and launch due to the drastically increased amount of people using Small Facebook Messenger iconFacebook Messenger and Small WhatsApp iconWhatsApp. As of the announcement of the Rooms feature in Messenger, over 700 million people participate in audio and video calls across both messaging services. Though Messenger Rooms is starting as a feature for Facebook Messenger, the plan is to launch support for Room creation on WhatsApp, Small Instagram iconInstagram Direct, and the company's Portal hardware.

Messenger Groups is being launched in "some countries" this week, with a full worldwide rollout planned in "the coming weeks." It can be accessed via both the Small Facebook iconFacebook and Messenger directly.

Further coverage:
Facebook Newsroom

Written by iandorfman