All posts in “Tech News”

Great, now Apple users are seeing outages

Well that's just plain rotten.
Well that’s just plain rotten.

Image: Tom Brenner / getty

Unfortunately for everyone, Apple just took a page out of Facebook’s playbook. 

One day after Facebook suffered a massive outage, a wide array of Apple services are down for some users. Offerings including Find My iPhone, Find My Friends, News, and whole chunks of iCloud are on the fritz. 

A look at the company’s system status page shows just how widespread the problems are and appear to have began at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time.


Image: screenshot / apple

According to DownDetector (which is owned by Mashable’s parent company), at the time of this writing users across the globe are experiencing problems with iCloud.  

We reached out to Apple in an effort to determine the cause of the outage, and when the issue will be fixed, but received no response as of press time. 

So, you know, maybe wait until it’s all fixed to lose your $1,000 phone. 

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Facebook’s former chief security officer compares company to ‘The Matrix.’ Whoa.

Free your mind.
Free your mind.

Image: Kevin Winter / getty

A system designed to keep us docile while extracting value from every aspect of our dulled existence is both an extremely rough plot summary of the 1999 film The Matrix and a description of Facebook.  

Just ask the company’s former chief security officer, Alex Stamos, who in a Twitter thread detailing a possible cause of Facebook’s March 13 mega outage managed to draw a pretty clear line between his one-time employer’s social media platform and the machine-run simulation of The Matrix films. That’s right, in Stamos’s thread, Facebook plays the part of AI villain. 

Stamos, who reportedly left Facebook in August of last year following disagreements on how the company should respond to governmental misuse of the platform, started the March 14 Twitter thread with a disclaimer that he has no special knowledge of what knocked the system offline for so long. That, however, does not mean he doesn’t have thoughts

“Several reporters are asking me for insight on the FB outage,” he tweeted. “I have none, other than that outages on massive distributed systems can sometimes follow this pattern:”

That’s when thinks took a turn for the interesting. With a series of Matrix GIFs acting as visual aides, Stamos walked curious readers through what he believes might have gone down. Essentially, he speculates, it boiled down to a small error cascading into something much larger. 

It’s kind of interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing. Where it gets really fascinating, however, is the final tweet in the thread. 

“Humans win, but after paying a significant cost,” he writes. “The system, now rebooted into its new incarnation, is safe for now. But how long can the peace between man and machine hold?”

Accompanying this last tweet is a screenshot from the final scene of The Matrix Revolutions, the third movie in the trilogy.  

Stamos is clearly, if perhaps unintentionally, equating the oppressive machine-driven simulation in The Matrix with the Facebook platform itself. And yeah, now that it’s up and running again, we can all go back to mindlessly feeding our data into the machine — granting it power in the process. 

Time will tell how long the peace holds. 

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Deals on cheap laptops: Acer, Dell, and HP laptops on sale for less than $500

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Take care of your most important tasks with powerful laptops for less than $500.
Take care of your most important tasks with powerful laptops for less than $500.

Image: HP

We don’t always have the cash to shell out for the latest MacBook Air. But take a moment to step back and think about what you really want in a laptop. There’s an entire world of laptops from trustworthy brands that tackle all of your essential tasks without straining your budget. Whether you need to just work from home, watch movies, or write your memoirs, you have plenty of laptop options available for under $500. 

Every day offers the chance to find cheap laptops at Amazon and Best Buy, but there are some amazing deals available right now for top brands such as Acer, HP, and Dell. Let’s take a quick rundown to help you find the best budget laptop option for your needs. Everything listed below costs less than $500, with some as low as $300.

The Acer Aspire E 15 is the definition of a well-rounded laptop for everyday use. Available for $70 off its regular price, you get plenty of power for a laptop that’s just over $300. Packaged with an 8th Generation Intel Core i3 processor, you can take care of almost any workload and take it anywhere with over 13 hours of battery life. This configuration also starts off with 6GB of RAM and 1TB of hard drive storage. If that’s not enough for you, the Aspire E 15 also includes a simple compartment door that allows for easy future upgrades. After you save big on your new laptop, you can also shop at Amazon for other deals on Acer accessories such as a new gaming mouse, backpack, and keyboard.

If you need a laptop that adapts to any environment and you’re always online, the Acer Chromebook R 13 notebook will check off most of your requirements. With 360 degrees of rotation, the 13.3-inch touch screen can move from a laptop to full tablet mode, or whichever configuration is most comfortable for you. The Chrome OS is optimized for anyone who works online most of the time, and it comes with built-in virus protection and boots up in seconds. While 4GB of memory and 32GB of internal storage may not sound like much, you do get an extra 100GB of Google Drive space to back up your most important documents. 

Another versatile option, this 2-in-1 Dell Inspiron allows you to flip and fold to tabletop, presentation, and tablet modes. No matter how you look at it, you’ll enjoy a beautiful LED backlight screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution that also supports EMR pens. Inside, you’ll find a compact 8th-generation Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 4GB RAM, and 128GB eMMC flash memory for fast boot-up times. As a special bonus along with the $150 discount, you can even get a free Google Home Mini smart speaker when you order from Best Buy. 

Get some extra kick in processing and memory and spend less than $330 with this $100 discount from Best Buy. Whether you use it for work or entertainment, this 15-inch HP laptop helps you go from task to task with an advanced AMD Ryzen 3 processor and 8GB of memory. That provides enough bandwidth for casual gaming and photo or video editing, plus with 1TB of storage you’ll enjoy enough room for plenty of media. For other entertainment options, its HDMI output allows you to connect to another high-definition monitor or TV to enjoy bigger and more beautiful images.

Already a perfect budget option for under $300, you can save an extra $45.70 from Amazon on this sleek workhorse. Another 2-in-1 that’s a great buy if you’re indecisive between a laptop or tablet, the Lenovo C330 helps you enjoy a variety of media on its 11.6-inch IPS touchscreen. At less than an inch in thickness and 2.6 pounds, it’s hard to find a laptop that’s easier to take everywhere. And it won’t be hard to take care of all daily tasks with 4GB of DDR3 memory, 64GB of eMMC internal storage, and an extra 100GB of cloud storage for fast boot-up times and processing. 

Google cracked down on 2.3 billion bad ads last year

Google has published its yearly transparency report detailing the search giant's fight with bad actors on its advertising network.
Google has published its yearly transparency report detailing the search giant’s fight with bad actors on its advertising network.

Image: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Google published its yearly look at “bad ads” on Thursday, detailing how the company fought bad advertising practices in 2018.

In total, the search giant took down 2.3 billion ads that violated its advertising policies last year. That’s more than 6 million bad ads removed every day. 

This number is down from the previous year when Google reported it eliminated 3.2 billion ads from its network.

Google also terminated its relationship with nearly one million bad advertiser accounts and almost 734,000 publishers and app developers — close to double the amount from 2017. The company also removed ads from nearly 28 million webpages and 1.5 million apps.

In the report, Google details specific industries and niches that require specific new ad policies in 2018. The company provides examples such as for-profit bail bond providers, which it bans from advertising through its ad network. Google says the decision was made due to evidence that these providers take advantage of vulnerable communities. The company removed more than 531,000 ads for bail bonds last year.

In total, Google created 31 new ad policies to stop bad ads in problematic areas related to cryptocurrency, ticket resellers, third-party tech support, and local services such as bail bonds and addiction treatment facilities. For example, the company now bans ads promoting addiction treatment services unless the advertiser is a certified addiction treatment provider. It also removed around 58.8 million advertisements for phishing scams from its network.

When it comes to fake news and the political sphere, Google shares that it had verified 143,000 election advertisements in the U.S., thanks to a new policy it rolled out last year. The company took down ads from around 1.2 million pages, 22,000 apps, and 15,000 sites for violating policies related to misinformation and hateful or low quality content.

The company also announced a new policy manager for its Google Ads program in order to help advertisers create ads that comply with its advertising policies.

The internet is full of scam artists and malicious actors searching for targets. Google’s course of action to deter bad advertisers and publishers from its networks is fairly simple: remove their economic incentives. The company seems to be doing a good job at removing ads that break its rules. The real challenge going forward, judging by Google’s updated policies, is keeping up with the evolving ways of these malicious actors. 

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It’s the end of the world in Marvel’s final Avengers: Endgame trailer

The end of Avengers: Infinity War did not leave our heroes in the best places, and Marvel’s latest trailer for Avengers: Endgame looks to drive home that point. It features a solemn recap of the earliest days of the franchise to drive home just how far the heroes — and fans — have come.

Like previous trailers, the latest clip is light on details for what will come in the big finale that Endgame promises to be. But a repeating mantra is that the Avengers will do “whatever it takes” to try and undo the damage that Thanos (Josh Brolin) has done — even if Thanos himself fails to make an appearance in the trailer.

Whatever last-ditch plan the collected heroes of the Marvel universe will try, at least we know that it’ll be in style, with the reveal of some slick, white Avengers uniforms. The trailer does end with one surprise: a scene with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), fresh off her blockbuster debut last week to help out the rest of the Avengers.

Presumably, we’ll find out whether Marvel’s heroes can succeed in just a few short weeks when Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26th.