Apple is giving away some of its best apps completely for free

Apple has cut the cost of a number of its own-brand apps, offering up a range of software completely for free.

Slashing the asking price for a number of its most popular Mac and iOS apps, the iPhone maker now won’t charge for the likes of iMovie and Pages.

Other apps moved to the list of free downloads includes GarageBand, Numbers, and Keynote.

While we all love free stuff, this isn’t the super savings for all that it might first seem.

Apple has offered the likes of Pages, iMovie and GarageBand completely for free for some time already for those purchasing a new Mac, iPhone or iPad.

Those who will benefit from the app-based giveaways will be those still rocking machines purchased before August 2013.

Free apps

If, however, you’ve already downloaded these apps in the past, you won’t be able to recoup their costs which ranged from a couple of quid upwards.

Bringing a little something for everyone, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote tools are Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s globally dominant Word, Excel, and Powerpoint programs.

GarageBand and iMovie will appeal to Apple’s more creative users, letting you easily make music and edit videos while either sat at your computer or on the fly via your portable iDevice.

All the apps are marked up as free in Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores right now.

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Realacc Backpack for DJI Phantom 3 review

Realacc Backpack for DJI Phantom 3 review

It wasn’t until the Phantom 4 that DJI decided to make the packaging a carry case. Even then, the case had only a carry handle and no shoulder straps.

If you have a Phantom 3, then this backpack is one of the lightest and cheapest ways to carry it to your launch point.

Realacc BackPack for Phantom: Price and availability

You can buy the BackPack from Bang Good for £27.51 – this was the price at the time of review. It’s a lot cheaper if you order it from the EU warehouse as shipping it from the China warehouse almost doubles the price to £53.42.

If you have a Phantom 4, there’s a slightly different version of the Realacc Backpack which costs £57.90 from Bang Good. It’s only available from the China warehouse. 

Bear in mind that shipping within the EU means you don’t have to pay any import duty or tax, whereas you do from outside the EU, so the price will be even higher from the China warehouse by the time those extras are paid up.

Realacc BackPack for Phantom: Design

Following DJI’s own design for the Phantom 4 case, the Realacc Backpack uses a tough polystyrene which isn’t brittle and resists tearing.

The two halves of the casing fit inside the backpack material, which is waterproof so should keep your drone completely dry even if it rains while you’re walking.

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

The zips seem decent quality, and have to be completely unzipped when you want to access the drone.

Because the drone sits in the ‘front’ half of the backpack and the zip is near the back, you have to lay the bag down on its front rather than its back before opening it, otherwise it’s upside down and bits will fall out.

This is the only criticism of an otherwise perfectly good carry case as there are no feet or any protection on the front so it will get dirty if you put it down on the ground, which you will at most of your launch locations.

There are two side pockets, but these are so slim you can’t even put propellers in them without straining the zips a little. They’re better used for USB cables or the documents that come with your drone.

In the main compartment the polystyrene is moulded perfectly for the Phantom 3 range and fits the Standard, Advanced and Pro models.

The transmitter for the latter two slots in base first, but the larger P3 Standard transmitter has to be on its side – there are cutouts for the sticks and the metal bar on top. As there are no instructions, it took us a while to figure out the orientation, and the fact that you have to remove the phone holder from the ball joint in order for it to fit in.

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

That’s a minor issue as it takes just seconds to remove and re-install the clamp.

Behind the drone is space for three spare batteries, and the spaces are the sides are ideal for the charger and propellers.

Two padded straps, a well-padded back and a chest strap make the backpack comfortable to carry, and significantly more so than lugging a flight case or the original Phantom cardboard box.

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

The dimensions make the backpack suitable for carrying on to flights, but check first what your airline allows in carry-on luggage.

Although the backpack does offer good protection from drops and knocks, we wouldn’t trust baggage handlers to put it safely in the hold, even if you can lock the zips together with a small padlock.

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

Realacc Backpack for Phantom review

OUR VERDICT

At under £30, this Phantom 3 BackPack is a bargain and a must-have accessory for transporting your drone safely and easily.

Retailer Price Delivery  
BangGood £27.51 View

Price comparision from , and manufacturers

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Here’s a tablet you can unlock with your palm

Fujitsu has unleashed another clutch of products aimed primarily at business users, including a new Windows tablet, along with refreshed LifeBook and Esprimo offerings (notebook and desktop PCs respectively) which boast Kaby Lake processors – plus the world’s lightest thin client.

The headline model is the Arrows Tab Q507/P-SP which is a 10.1-inch Windows tablet, and it’s the first slate in the world which uses Fujitsu’s slide-style palm vein authentication.

To unlock the tablet, all you have to do is slide your hand along the touchscreen (as shown in the image above) and the palm vein sensor will swiftly do its stuff. Fujitsu is pretty proud of having incorporated this technology into what is a thin and compact tablet, which is also water and dust-resistant (with its exact IP rating to be confirmed).

As mentioned, the LifeBook series of laptops and Esprimo desktops have seen some action with the addition of one and two new models respectively. The new LifeBook S937/P is a 13.3-inch ‘ultra-mobile’ notebook which uses a Kaby Lake CPU, and the fresh Esprimo offerings are the D587/R standard desktop model and ultra-small form factor Q556/R, both of which also use Kaby Lake.

Beefy workstation

Fujitsu has also unveiled a new mobile workstation, the Celsius H970, which offers a 17.3-inch Full HD display and the choice of a Kaby Lake processor or Intel Xeon E3-1500 v6, backed with an Nvidia Quadro P4000 graphics card.

And finally, the company also revealed a new 13.3-inch mobile thin client, with the Futro MU937 claiming to be the lightest such device in the world at a weight of just 799g, and thickness of 15mm.

Despite its svelte lines, the MU937 has passed what Fujitsu describes as ‘strict’ durability and drop testing, plus it comes with a fingerprint sensor that can optionally be upgraded to Fujitsu’s palm vein sensor.

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'Nearly half' of firms had a cyber-attack or breach

Nearly half (46%) of British businesses discovered at least one cybersecurity breach or attack in the past year, a government survey has indicated.

That proportion rose to two-thirds among medium and large companies.

Most often, these breaches involved fraudulent emails being sent to staff or security issues relating to viruses, spyware or malware.

The survey was completed by 1,500 UK businesses and included 30 in-depth interviews.

The government said a “sizeable proportion” of the businesses still did not have “basic protections” in place.

While many had enacted rudimentary technical controls, only one-third had a formal policy covering cybersecurity risks.

Less than a third (29%) had assigned a specific board member to be responsible for cybersecurity.

‘Box-ticking exercises’

Businesses’ susceptibility to cyber-attacks was a known issue, noted Prof Andrew Martin at the University of Oxford.

“A lot of businesses have responded to the problem with a box-ticking exercise or by paying an expensive consultant to make them feel better – it’s far from clear that what people are doing is protecting them very well,” he told the BBC.

He added it remained difficult for most people to distinguish malicious emails or websites from safe ones.

“It’s all very well to say don’t open emails from an unknown source – but most of us couldn’t do business if [we] didn’t do that,” he added.

The government’s survey indicates, however, that fewer businesses in 2017 consider cybersecurity to be of “very low priority”. It said 74% now agreed it was a high priority issue for senior management.

More to follow

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Blockchain: 'Overhyped' buzzword or real-deal enterprise solution?

While blockchain is among the hottest technologies in the enterprise security, data storage and file-sharing arenas, many experts question its use or even whether it’s really as secure as billed.

As marketplaces struggle with how best to deploy the distributed ledger technology, IT vendors are beginning to test it in their products — in some cases, as a reaction to  customer inquiries rather than a proactive move.

“It’s a very hot topic right now,” said Zulfikar Ramzan, CTO of RSA Security, a subsidiary of the Dell EMC Infrastructure Solutions Group. “We are definitely getting a lot of inbound inquiries around blockchain and its implication within enterprise environments. I think it’s driven largely by the fact that when there’s a new technology out there, to some degree people want to be buzzword compliant with the latest and greatest.”

Ramzan said his customers are asking about blockchain for audit logging and or verifiable logs, which is viewed as a reliable way of tracking what happened in an organization to satisfy regulatory auditors. Other RSA customers are interested in it for user authentication to ensure users are accessing the correct digital records at the right time.

“We’re examining how blockchain can be used in that context,” Ramzan said. “I think it’s a very nascent technology. I think it’s an area that has gotten a lot of hype, and now it’s a question of whether that hype can be converted into reality.”

Blockchain and Bitcoin

Blockchain is a decentralized electronic, encrypted ledger or database platform — in other words, a way to immutably store digital data so that it can be securely shared across networks and users.

While the technology has grown in popularity, mainly because it’s the basis for the wildly hyped cryptocurrency and payment platform Bitcoin, many experts are still not  sure exactly how it works.

Even the founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, is a shadowy figure and no one  appears to know with certainty who he is or if the name is a pseudonym for a group of developers. Nakamoto, however, holds one million bitcoins, or the equivalent to $1.1 billion.

Angus Champion de Creaspigny, a financial services consultant at Ernst & Young, called blockchain “overhyped” and said many business applications touted as beneficiaries of its use have regulatory or operational issues that can be difficult to solve via one technology alone.

“We’re seeing interest in using it to propagate security policies and identity access management, but it’s early days. We’re seeing more vendors producing business specific products, which is really what’s needed,” de Creaspigny said.

One problem facing blockchain’s use, de Creaspigny said, is a ‘rip and replace’ mentality now popular in enterprise environments, which may not be economical.

“We do see identity management, however, as a real beneficiary, [since it] can help establish single customer views [and] streamline onboarding,” de Creaspigny said. “It’s a technology paradigm, similar to saying relational databases: there are many different ways to implement it and different strengths and weaknesses to each implementation. Similarly, [that’s true] with the different flavors of private and public blockchains.”

The real power of blockchain, de Creaspigny said, is in public environments such as Bitcoin, but the environment is immature. “It’s not to say there aren’t benefits within enterprises, particularly when they work across legal entities.”

Decentralization a feature, not a bug

One conundrum facing blockchain adoption is the technology’s sheer complexity, which comes from it performing every function without a centralized source of management.

“Blockchain’s strength is in creating a decentralized, distributed ledger. If you’re in an enterprise environment, in many cases you don’t need that decentralization. You can achieve the same objectives in a centralized fashion and it’s much easier if you use a single point of trust,” Ramzan said.

“That’s partly what we’re trying to help our customers understand. They understand the benefits of blockchain,” Ramzan continued. “They have the why, but they don’t necessarily have the understanding of the how or the what. Our goal is to help them make a determination [about whether] this is a better way to achieve their ends.”

For many, blockchain’s complexity — stemming from its decentralized structure — is reason enough to give organizations pause in adopting it.

“It’s difficult to understand the way it performs encryption,” said Serguei Beloussov, CEO of leading data backup provider Acronis. Beloussov has a PhD in computer science and has co-authored more than 200 U.S. technology patents.

“I have several very smart computer scientists who tell me it’s major overkill. And, if it’s overkill, then it’s secure but it’s a way of securing something that’s unecessary,” Beloussov said in an interview. “Then I have several computer scientists who tell me it’s really not secure — they believe you can penetrate it.”

For his part, Beloussov believes blockchain – while extremely complex, is by its very nature secure.

Acronis embraces blockchain

In February, Acronis for the first time introduced blockchain technology in its True Image 2017 data backup software. The blockchain platform is also used as a data certification and verification element in True Image’s ASign application — an electronic document signing or notary service.

Within a couple of months, Acronis also plans to introduce blockchain for data verification in its Acronis Backup 12 Advanced, its core backup product for small and mid-sized businesses.

Currently, the company is running a public beta test on Backup 12.

“We deal with data management, effectively we’re backup, but eventually data management software, and data management software needs to make sure that the data is immutable and you can control access to data in some smart way,” Beloussov said. “So it’s about controlling access to data in a smart way.”

Beloussov sees Bitcoin’s use of blockchain technology as its most basic capability — as a way to make digital objects unchangeable. But eventually he sees it having merit as a way to efficiently create smart contracts.

For example, HealthCoin is a blockchain-based database that can be used by physicians and other healthcare providers to confirm that patients are following treatment regimes to avoid complications from long-term diseases such as congestive heart failure and diabetes.

That Healthcoin network creates a marketplace for employers, healthcare plans, hospitals and life insurers to financially reward employees for taking part in proven prevention methods. Employees’ actions can be tracked through wearables and rewarded with the Healthcoins, which are placed in a digital wallet.

Blockchain allows a set of users on unrelated servers to control digital records, which it calls blocks, in a distributed manner. Each block has a timestamp and is linked to a previous block, creating an unbroken chain — meaning each block is its own unchangeable record linked to that user.

Blockchain can only be updated by consensus between participants in the system, and when new data is entered, it can never be erased. The blockchain contains a true and verifiable record of each and every transaction ever made in the system.

A constantly evolving technology

Like the internet itself, blockchain’s capabilities are continually evolving with new features or add-on applications. Since it is not regulated by a single control center as there might be with a system administration, there’s no single point of failure. In an enterprise, theoretically, there would be no need for an IT professional to monitor security on a blockchain database.

There are several general uses for blockchain platforms. There are public blockchains, which allow anyone to see or send transactions as long as they’re part of the consensus process.

There are consortium blockchains where only a pre-selected number of nodes are authorized to use the ledger. For example, a group of banks and their clearing house might use blockchain as part of the trade clearing process where each node is associated with a step in the verification process.

And, then there are private blockchains, where the ability to write to a ledger is restricted to a single organization.

Acronis’ version of the distributed database software is based on Ethereum, a custom-built platform that was introduced in 2013 by developer Vitalik Buterin. At the time, he was just 19.

The Ehtereum platform was originally used for verifying online payments, but its capabilities grew under the Swiss nonprofit Ethereum Foundation.

In January, a report from Accenture claimed blockchain technology could reduce infrastructure costs for eight of the world’s 10 largest investment banks by an average of 30%, “translating to $8 billion to $12 billion in annual cost savings for those banks.”

The savings, according to Accenture, would come in replacing traditionally fragmented database systems that support transaction processing with blockchain’s distributed ledger system. That would allow banks to reduce or eliminate reconciliation costs, “while improving data quality.”

In February, Accenture, J.P. Morgan Chase and Microsoft were among 30 companies that announced the formation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, aimed at creating a standard version of the platform for financial transaction processing and tracking.

“Given the tremendous cost of data reconciliation — which is part of every aspect of the capital markets industry — it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a significant amount of investment in blockchain technology, David Treat, managing director for Accenture’s financial services industry blockchain practice, said in a statement.a statement. “But, as with any emerging technology, understanding what these investments might yield is a challenge.”

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Microsoft Surface Studio review: Creativity is a sublime, pricey experience

We’ve never seen anything quite like the Surface Studio. No other all-in-one boasts a massive 28-inch 4.5K touchscreen that glides down to serve as a digital easel, a Surface Pen for inking, and an optional Surface Dial that you can spin and tap to navigate menus. Presto! You’re a digital creator.

We applaud this refreshing example of what a PC could be, and we’ll talk a lot about the new things it can do for you in this review. But we also expect the Studio to be more than just an aspirational machine that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more than its competition. In real life, it still needs to be a productivity PC, a decent gaming platform, and the embodiment of the Windows 10 Creators Update. We’ll take a close look at these fundamentals, too.

A luxury-class All-in-One

A typical PC buyer has a budget, then seeks out a PC that includes the most powerful components they can afford. That’s the wrong approach for someone considering the Surface Studio, where the components take a backseat to the overall design. If you plugged the price and specs into a spreadsheet, it’d look like a tough sell. 

I can safely say, however, that the $4,199 Surface Studio Microsoft loaned to us is one of the nicest PCs I’ve ever used. It doesn’t matter that the book-sized chassis packs mobile—not desktop—components: a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HQ and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GPU, plus a whopping 32GB of memory, a massive 2TB hard drive, and a 128GB SSD for caching. Wireless connectivity is supplied by 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and two Dolby Audio Premium speakers hide beneath the Studio’s display.

I may grumble that Microsoft banishes every expansion slot to the rear of the machine. In reality, sliding your fingers over the 28-inch, 4,500×3,000 (3:2) PixelSense display evokes the same intangible, deep satisfaction of sinking into the rich leather of a luxury automobile. 

Microsoft Surface Studio rear Adam Murray / IDG

When its display is positioned in a conventional, upright position, the Surface Studio requires very little desk space.

Interacting with the Surface Studio’s display is an exquisite visual experience. Simply placing the monitor a few inches away from your eyes lends urgency to whatever you’re doing: inking a scene, watching a 4K movie on Netflix, working on several documents simultaneously, or playing a game. It’s an IMAX screen for your desk, commanding your attention.

Unlike the Surface Pro 4 or even the Surface Book, the size of the Surface Studio’s display allows windows to be snapped to all four corners without feeling like they’ve been shoehorned in. Is it large enough to replace a second monitor? Absolutely. I’m still in the camp that says you’ll always want a second monitor, though, especially if you’re using the Surface Studio as a full-screen workstation (remember Task View). The Surface Studio includes the same miniDisplayPort connector built into other members of the Surface family if you decide to expand.

Microsoft Surface Studio Adam Murray / IDG

Color explodes from the Surface Studio’s display.

Most monitors, however, don’t offer the vibrant color that the Surface Studio does. Unlike other Surface devices, a Surface Studio owner has the option of configuring the display for the traditional sRGB color space, DCI-P3 (developed by the film industry and probably preferable for watching digital video), and the default Vivid setting. By our measurements, the Studio blasts out a maximum of 410 lumens of light. The Studio’s somewhat drab default background doesn’t do it justice, so open Bing or the Windows 10 Creators Update’s custom backgrounds, and your monitor will blossom into rich color.

What is the best CPU temperature?

We explain the acceptable temperature range for CPUs in laptops and PCs, and how you can monitor your processor to check if it’s getting too hot.

How to check and monitor your processor temperature


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Don't let your CPU run too hot Don’t let your CPU run too hot

The CPU is the chip inside your computer that’s responsible for most of the day-to-day number crunching. In short, it’s the part that does most of the work to make Windows and applications run.

The ideal temperature is as cool as possible (which usually means room temperature), since a hot-running CPU could cause problems ranging from unwanted system crashes to physical damage to the processor itself.

Most modern CPUs have a protection feature which automatically shuts them down if they get too hot, so actual damage is unlikely.

You can check the specifications of your particular CPU at CPU World, which details the maximum operating temperature for many processors. In general you should consider 60 degrees Celcius the absolute maximum for long periods, but aim for 45-50 degrees to be safe.

if you’re not sure which CPU you have, check out our guide to finding your PC’s specs.

How to check your CPU temperature

Allowing your PC to run hot for long periods of time still isn’t a good idea as it could lead to premature failure of the CPU or other components, so you should take steps to check temperatures using a free utility such as SpeedFan.

Download SpeedFan and it will let you check not just your CPU temperature but any other sensors in your computer, such as ambient case temperature, hard drive temperature, and more.

Look for Core 0, Core 1, Core 2 and Core 3 temperatures – each core of the CPU will have its own thermistor, but they will all have roughly the same readings as below.

SpeedFan

SpeedFan

You can leave it running in the background while you play a game or run any other application. Then, after a few minutes, you can switch back to SpeedFan and check your temperatures.

If you want to find out more about how to use it, check out our in-depth guide to using SpeedFan to check the temperature of your CPU and other components.

How to lower your CPU temperature

If they’re too hot, you’ll need to look at ways to improve cooling.

If you have a laptop, make sure any fans aren’t clogged up with dust (use a vacuum carefully to suck dirt and debris out) and invest in a laptop cooling stand. This can be either a passive design that acts like a giant heatsink, or an active one with its own cooling fans built in.

To clean a desktop, make sure again that fans and filters aren’t too dusty, and that internal cables aren’t obstructing airflow.

You might also consider replacing your CPU cooler, especially if your PC has a standard Intel heatsink and fan. Aftermarket coolers can be inexpensive (around £15) yet offer much better cooling power.

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