Weekly Tech Wrap-Up 8-26-2023, a week in which the Tor Project’s improved DoS attack defenses, Ubuntu Linux, faster Android apps, and big tech company control over open-source AI captivated our readers the most. Today, we look back at this week’s ten most engaging articles from the Tech Help Knowledgebase social media feeds. We order the summaries below by user engagement — the stories our users interacted with the most. Articles are in descending order, with the most engaging story first. Our human-curated social media feeds include links to technology news, how-to and help articles, and video tutorials for common issues.
Stories curated for our feeds are from our staff writers or culled from third-party sources that produce content related to the categories covered by our site. See the summaries and links below for this week’s top stories by user engagement. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to interact with our feeds.
Top 10 Most Engaging Stories This Week
The Tor Project has added a new proof-of-work (PoW) defense to its latest version of Tor to protect Onion services from denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Onion services are websites that require the Tor browser to gain access. Their technical design makes them more vulnerable to DoS attacks, as obfuscated IP addresses make it easier for attackers to flood them with traffic. The new PoW defense works by requiring clients to solve a puzzle before they can connect to an onion service. Doing so makes it more difficult for attackers to launch DoS attacks because they need to solve the puzzle for each connection they attempt to make. The PoW defense does not affect user privacy since users solve the puzzle without revealing personal information.
Ubuntu is a Linux distribution known for its user-friendly interface and wide range of software availability. It is one of the most popular Linux distributions used by millions of people around the world. Ubuntu is available in several editions, including a desktop version, a server version, and a version for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Ubuntu is also the basis for many other Linux distributions, such as Linux Mint and Elementary OS.
Google has been updating the Android Runtime (ART), the engine that powers Android, to make apps faster. With the rollout of the Android 13 version of ART, Google says it has seen “real-world app start-up improvements of up to 30% on some devices.” These improvements are due to a number of changes, including making switching to and from native code faster, performing more byte-code verification at install time, and avoiding the expense of verification at runtime. The ART updates are being rolled out to devices via the Play Store, so users don’t need to wait for an OS update to get the performance benefits.
WIRED discusses the myth that open-source AI is more accessible and transparent than proprietary AI. While open-source AI projects like Llama 2 are more accessible, big tech companies still control them in a number of ways. For example, the companies may own the data used to train the models or have exclusive access to the code. Even though the models are open source, they are not truly transparent. We must find ways to make open-source AI more transparent and accessible. This could involve developing new ways to share data and code or creating new governance structures for open-source AI projects.
Google Chrome for iPhone users now have the option to move the Omnibox (address bar) to the bottom of the screen, improving efficiency and convenience. This feature is still under development, but it is a promising sign for Android users who hope that Google will eventually bring the address bar to the bottom of Chrome for Android as well.
Google Keep is finally getting its long-awaited text formatting features. The update, which is currently rolling out to Android users, lets users add bold, italics, and underlines to notes and change the font size and color. Users can also create bulleted and numbered lists. The formatting features were in development over a year ago, but they’re only now starting to roll out to users.
Analysts expect the release of iOS 17 in mid-September. New iOS 17 features include a redesigned Phone app with contact posters, search filters in Messages, AirDrop, and NameDrop, an all-new Journal app, StandBy, interactive widgets, and autofill verification codes for Mail. iOS 17 will be available for the iPhone XS and later, as well as the iPod touch (7th generation).
Apple introduced the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro as a new interface mechanism that allows users to see important notifications and information at a glance. However, many criticize the feature for being unreliable and not delivering on its promises. Some users have reported that the Dynamic Island disappears or becomes unresponsive. Others have said it is not useful for displaying notifications. Overall, the Dynamic Island feature has been a promising failure. It has the potential to be a useful feature, but it is not yet ready for prime time. Apple will need to make some improvements to the Dynamic Island before it can become a truly valuable addition to the iPhone.
The popular Mac utility NightOwl, which once gave users greater control over macOS’ dark mode, is malicious. The app secretly collects user data, including browsing history, keystrokes, and screenshots. It also sends this data to a remote server without the user’s knowledge or consent. The developer of NightOwl has since taken the app down from the App Store, but it is still possible that some users may have it installed on their Mac. If you have NightOwl installed, you should delete it immediately. You can also check your Mac for other malicious apps by using a reputable antivirus or anti-malware program.
Reports indicate that Meta plans to launch a web version of its Threads app early this week. Threads is a short-form social media app designed for close friends and family. The web version of Threads will allow users to access their Threads feed, send messages, and view stories from their computer. The launch of the Threads web version comes as Meta faces increasing competition from other short-form social media apps, such as TikTok and Snapchat. Meta hopes Threads will help it attract and retain users who seek a more intimate and private social media experience.
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Henry Irvine, Contributing Technology Writer, translates more than a decade of internet technology experience in product and customer relationship management into practical help and how-to content. Look for him on Bay Area trails, music venues, or sausage shacks when he’s not writing. Don’t call him Hank if you see him. Seriously. Hank on Twitter