The 2019 Bruceb News Year In Review

The 2019 Bruceb News year in review

(This will be the last Bruceb News article until I recover from an upcoming business conference trip to Hawaii. Happy holidays!)

I think I accomplished two goals in 2019: writing articles about privacy and security that were so terrifying that they kept you awake at night; and making those articles so dull that they helped you sleep. […] continued

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Data Brokers: The Companies Hiding In The Shadows That Know Everything About You

Tight focus on the data broker industry

Your personal information is being bought and sold by companies that lurk in the shadows. You’ve never heard of them. That’s the way they like it.

This is the most important issue that affects your privacy today.

Let’s start with a tight focus.

Assume there’s a company that methodically scrapes information from public records – drivers licenses, voter registration, property rolls, census and change of address records, birth certificates, marriage licenses, bankruptcy records. […] continued

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Spotify Unwrapped 2019: My Top Ten List Is 260% Better Than Last Year

Spotify - Bruceb Top Ten 2019

Spotify has launched its annual Spotify Wrapped website, where you can look back on your year of music listening, including your top artists and top songs. You’ll find a new playlist in the Spotify app with your most-played songs from 2019. It’s the end of the decade, so Spotify also includes a list that shows your top songs and artists for each year that you’ve been on Spotify, as well as your favorite artist of the decade. […] continued

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Should You Pay For Dark Web Monitoring?

Dark web - hackers are trading your personal information

Your personal information is for sale on the dark web.

Don’t worry, I’ve got in mind that you don’t know what the “dark web” is, other than a scary name. I’ll tell you more down below.

I believe all articles about the dark web are required to use the above picture to convince you it’s pure evil. […] continued

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Pixel 4 And Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Google Pixel 4 phones are not as terrifying as the reviews would make you think

Google has two new phones, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. They’re quite nice. If you had one, you’d like it. They might not tempt iPhone users to leave the Apple world, but anyone with an Android phone should consider a Pixel 4, now available through all the carriers. […] continued

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Headcrabs And The Future Of Virtual Reality

Half-Life headcrab zombie

The future of virtual reality may depend on headcrab zombies.

Last week, game developer Valve Corporation made a bombshell announcement: it will release a new VR game, Half-Life: Alyx, in March 2020. The gaming and virtual reality communities are going nuts – gamer forums exploding with excited comments and complaints; nonstop articles in the tech press evaluating the announcement from every angle; emotions ranging from elation to anger; and mostly hope that the game will be good enough to justify all the angst. […] continued

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Install Google Lens, Then Remember To Use It

Google Lens - visual search with your phone

I’m going to give you a difficult assignment. I want you to install Google Lens on your phone. That’s the easy part. Then I want you to remember to use it until it becomes second nature. You’re flinching, right? We’re maxed out on technology and it’s tempting to use what you already know and not worry about the latest and greatest thing. […] continued

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Say Goodbye To Outlook Clutter

Focused inbox will replace clutter in Outlook on January 31, 2020

On January 31, 2020, there won’t be any more clutter in Outlook. Oh, you’ll still get just as many unimportant messages as before, but they won’t be sorted into a Clutter folder. Instead, you’ll use Microsoft’s replacement, Focused Inbox, to read “Focused” and “Other” messages.

This only applies to a few people. […] continued

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Google Wants To Surround You With Invisible Assistants

Ambient computing - surrounded by invisible devices

Part 1: Ambient Computing – Buzzwords That Are Changing Your World

You don’t notice an automatic door when it opens.

Google, Amazon, and Apple want to make it so natural to interact with their devices that you don’t even notice that you’re doing it. We’ll be surrounded by devices. The more there are, the less we’ll notice them. […] continued

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Ambient Computing: Buzzwords That Are Changing Your World

Ambient computing AKA ubiquitous computing

(Sonoma County fires: we have evacuated to a safe place and our house is not threatened. All of our thoughts and best wishes go out to those in danger or suffering losses.)


Hey Google . . .

  • What time is my flight today?
  • How long will it take to drive to Oakland Airport?
[…] continued Read more

Grammar Are For Winners!

Grammar checking made easy with Word, Outlook, G Suite, and Grammarly

Need help with spelling and grammar? Of course you do!

You already get help with your spelling. Microsoft Word and Outlook automatically fix common errors on the fly as you type, and flag possible misspellings with the familiar wavy line. Your phone auto-corrects your errors, which of course works flawlessly.

Artificial intelligence now allows grammar to be checked just as easily as spelling – on the fly, with instant feedback. […] continued

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Windows 10 Has Ransomware Protection – Here’s Why It’s Not Turned On

Ransomware - want your data back?

Microsoft added built-in ransomware protection to Windows 10 two years ago. When you check, you’ll find it’s not turned on. This will seem strange. It should be a good thing to stop ransomware, right? Here’s why you’ve never heard of it and why you probably won’t turn it on.

It will help if you have some background about how ransomware works; then I’ll tell you about the difficult bits in the Windows ransomware protection that make it hard to manage for non-tech people. […] continued

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How To Set Up A New Windows 10 PC Without A Microsoft Account

Windows 10 - how to set up a new PC with a local account

There are good reasons to set up a new Windows 10 PC without a Microsoft account, even if you intend to link it to a Microsoft account eventually.

The bad news is that Microsoft is pushing its own agenda and using deception to hide the option of setting up a local account instead of a Microsoft account. […] continued

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Dark Patterns Are Evil – And They’re Everywhere

Dark patterns - deceptive opt in choices

I hate to interrupt the steady flow of happiness and joy in the news, but I want to call your attention to a small way that our civilization is degrading into a dystopian hell. Once I describe it, you’ll notice it everywhere.

The web is filled with dark patterns – deliberately confusing and deceptive choices, designed to trick us into signing up for junk newsletters, subscribing to unwanted services, spamming everyone in our address book, or giving up our privacy. […] continued

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