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Google will shut down Fusion Tables

Google is shutting down its Fusion Tables cloud service, a Google Drive option that offered an easy way to create online visualizations, especially maps. Google announced today that the service will end on Dec. 3, 2019, and "maps using the Fusion Tables Layer in the Maps JavaScript API v3.37 will start to see errors in August 2019." 

The news highlights the risks of relying on "free" cloud services from for-profit private companies.

"Mapserver, Geoserver, PostGIS, GEOS, and all the other open source software you were using 9 years ago when Google Fusion Tables was the new hotness are still available [and] will not be shut down next year," taunted open-source advocate Paul Ramsey on Twitter.

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What's in the latest Firefox update? Mozilla looks over users' shoulders, suggests tools and add-ons

Mozilla released Firefox 64 for Windows, macOS and Linux with an embedded recommendation system that spotlights features and suggests specific add-ons based on how users work the browser and where they steer it on the web.

Engineers also patched 11 vulnerabilities in Firefox. Two were marked "Critical," Mozilla's highest threat ranking. "Some of these bugs showed evidence of memory corruption and we presume that with enough effort that some of these could be exploited to run arbitrary code," Mozilla said in the advisory posted to the web.

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Microsoft Teams gains ground on Slack

Two years after its launch, Microsoft Teams is outpacing team chat rival Slack ? largely thanks to Teams? free availability as part of Office 365 subscriptions. That?s according to a survey of 900 IT decision makers in North America and Europe conducted by Spiceworks. 

The results indicate that Teams is now the second most popular business chat app and is used by 21% of respondents, up from 3% in a similar Spiceworks survey in 2016. That ranks it ahead of third-place Slack, the popular standalone team chat tool in use by 15% of businesses polled. (That represents a slight increase from 13% in 2016.)

The most popular tool is another Microsoft app, Skype for Business. It?s used by 44% of surveyed businesses, up from 36% two years ago. Another rival, Google Hangouts (now Google Hangouts Chat), meanwhile, saw use drop to 11%, from 16% two years ago. Facebook?s Workplace remained at 1%, while stats for Cisco?s Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark) were not provided. 

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Windows 10: A guide to the updates

The launch of a big Windows 10 update like the October 2018 Update isn?t the end of a process ? it?s really just the beginning. As soon as a major update is released, Microsoft quickly gets to work on improving it by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

Here we?ve summarized what you need to know about every Windows 10 update being released to the public. First come updates to the currently shipping version of Windows 10 ? version 1809, known as the October 2018 Update ? with the most recent updates on top. (Note that the October 2018 Update is on a phased rollout, so you may not have received it yet.) Below that are updates to version 1803, known as the April 2018 Update; 1709, known as the Fall Creators Update; and finally updates to version 1703, known as the Creators Update. For each build, we?ve included the date of its initial release and a link to Microsoft?s announcement about it.

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5 reasons to remain skeptical about 5G in 2019

Have you heard? Some vaguely defined but super-snazzy-sounding thing called 5G is, like, totally coming to knock your socks off any second now. It's gonna speed up your phone, revolutionize your productivity, and probably even lower your cholesterol.

Okay, so maybe some of that is pure poppycock. But you know what? So is the very idea that 5G is anything an average person should get excited about ? or consider adopting ? in the coming year.

You'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. After all, the mobile tech marketing machine has been revving up considerably over these past few weeks, pushing out all sorts of spectacular-sounding narratives about how 5G is going to change the way we work, live, and lather. (Again, at least one of those items is my own nonsensical creation, but I'd argue that all of them are equally absurd.)

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Will 2019 be the year of the Mac?

iPhone maker Apple makes lots of other products, including Macs, and the next 12 months could see some of the strongest Mac sales for some time as millions of aging Windows machines still used in enterprise IT are upgraded to a more advanced computing platform.

Time for the Mac halo to return

First there was the Mac halo, then the iPod came along, which created its own halo and built interest in iPhones. Then Apple broke into the enterprise with iPad. History repeats itself. In 2019, the halo returns to the Mac.

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Review: 4 wireless chargers for both smartphone and watch

While there may be more than a dozen multi-device wireless chargers technically available now, most do not charge both smart watches and smartphones ? and most of the companies who make them could not actually provide units for review since they're bring offered through crowdfunding projects.

As a result, we're limiting this review to multi-device chargers from three stalwart companies and a start-up that promptly shipped over a review unit.

Samsung's Wireless Charger Duo

Samsung Wireless Charging Duo Samsung

The Samsung Wireless Charging Duo.

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And that was actually the CLEAN version!

It's more than a few years back, and this oilfield services company is implementing a new email filter, says a pilot fish working there.

"It was part of an email security product," fish says. "The filter could identify emails containing language that was not considered business appropriate.

"We'd had HR incidents involving inappropriate language in the past, especially from field hands emailing to office staff -- it gave a new meaning to 'crude oil workers' -- so it was decided we should enable the feature with its default settings and give it a run.

"Only a few hours later we received an alert that a message had been identified with inappropriate language.

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Windows 10 Redstone: A guide to the Insider Preview builds

Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) started to roll out, the company began work on the next major update to Windows 10, due to be released next spring. As it did with the October 2018 Update, Microsoft has been releasing a series of public preview builds to members of Microsoft's Windows Insider Program.

After years of using "Redstone" in its code names, Microsoft is changing it up with the next release, which is code-named "19H1" (for 2019, first half) rather than "Redstone 6." What follows is a list of every preview build of Windows 10 19H1 that has been rolled out to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring, starting with the most recent. For each build, we've included the date of its release, a summary of what?s in the build and a link to Microsoft's announcement about it.

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Innovative anti-phishing app comes to iPhones

We?re always told never to click on a link we receive in an email in case doing so takes us to some dodgy phishing site where our account details are violated. But what if our email app warned us before we clicked malicious links?

Can this app protect against phishing attempts?

MetaCert isn?t fully available yet, but it does seem to be a promising solution that provides email users in enterprise and consumer markets an additional line of defense against clicking on malicious links received in email messages.

The solution emerged from the developer?s earlier work building an API to help app developers add a layer of security to WebView.

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Patch Tuesday?s coming; make sure you have Windows Update shut off and stop seeking!

I?ve seen a couple of verified reports that Microsoft is now pushing the newly revised Win10 September-October-November-December 2018 Update, version 1809, on ?seekers.? Be aware that Microsoft, once again, interprets a click on ?Check for updates,? as giving carte blanche to install whatever is in the kettle.

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and caldron bubble
Could we first test a stubble?

If you?d rather not offer your machine for the ol? eye of newt and toe of frog treatment, there are some quick and easy steps you should take right now to make sure your machine will withstand Patch Tuesday?s onslaught.

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Real estate blockchain set to go live in early '19

New York-based ShelterZoom plans to launch a real estate application that will lets buyers and sellers transact deals over a blockchain-based network, which could make purchasing a house as easy as pressing a button on a smartphone or tablet.

Set to go live in the first quarter of 2019, the application allows sellers, buyers and real estate reps to see all offers and acceptances in real time online. Real estate agents, along with clients, can also access property titles, mortgages, legal and home inspection documents through the Ethereum-based encrypted blockchain ledger.

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eBay's ApplePay stats show why mobile payments are struggling

When eBay recently started giving customers the option to move away from paying with PayPal ? which eBay, of course, used to own ? to other methods including ApplePay, something interesting happened: About 12% of all of the ApplePay-eligible shoppers (they own an ApplePay-capable mobile device) moved to ApplePay, according to figures released by eBay.

This is one of those stats that both shows continuing momentum for ApplePay and mobile payments in general (no Android option has been offered yet by eBay) and also illustrates the problem with moving ApplePay meaningfully beyond the 10%-12% of eligible users where it has been plateaued for a few years. OK, in this context, I could have been meaner and said "stuck."

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Forbidden names, revisited

Flashback a few decades to the glory days of online service CompuServe, when anyone could get an account -- but not everyone could use their real names, according to a pilot fish in the know.

"You logged in with your account number, but to join a forum -- a chatroom focused on a specific topic -- you had to give a real name," fish says. "The name on your billing record was the default.

"Of course there were fraudsters who used an official-sounding name to phish people for personal info and credit card data. So users were not allowed to have words like 'billing' as any part of their in-forum real name. This could only be overridden by the forum sysop. I was one.

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With move to rebuild Edge atop Google's Chromium, Microsoft raises white flag in browser war

After a years-long pummeling, Microsoft this week surrendered in the browser war, saying that it will junk Edge's home-grown rendering engine and replace it with Blink, the engine that powers Google's Chrome.

With Edge pulling code from the Chromium project, the browser will also be able to run on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, as well as macOS.

"We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers," wrote Joe Belfiore, a corporate vice president in the Windows group, in a post to a company blog.

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