Features

Why you should care about the Apple-FBI legal fight

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By now, you’ve probably heard of the San Bernardino shooting. If you haven’t, then let me refresh your memory. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in an apparent terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

It’s one of the more prominent acts of terrorism that have hit the U.S. because of one important evidence: the Apple iPhone 5c used by one of the shooters that was found on the scene. It may or may not contain information, but the significance of that piece of technology is not about what it holds but what it represents.


Setting a bad precedent

A few weeks ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that they couldn’t unlock the iPhone 5c through sheer brute force, i.e., constantly guessing the 4-digit passcode until they get it right. The agency said they couldn’t risk wiping the data with more tries, a security feature built into the device by Apple.

And because the data on the 5c wasn’t synced with iCloud, the FBI had to find alternative methods of accessing it. Their idea — a radical one — was to ask Apple to create a special tool that:

  • allows the FBI to guess as many passwords as they like without the data on the phone being wiped; and
  • lets the iPhone connect to an external device, such as a desktop or laptop, where the FBI can run a script that guesses passwords quickly.

With the advancement of technology, it was only a matter of time before information security became a national security issue. The problem here is that Apple no longer has the ability to access encrypted data on iDevices running iOS 8 or higher.

Even if they could, Apple firmly believes they shouldn’t, as explicitly stated on their website via an open letter penned by CEO Tim Cook:

In today’s digital world, the ‘key’ to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

The FBI invoked the All Writs Act of 1789 — a century-old U.S. federal statute that has been used to practically force technology companies to cooperate with the government — to get a court order.

Personal data in the wrong hands

Our phones hold an unbelievable amount of information. They have become windows to our lives. Our location, our messages, our pictures, bank records, statements, emails, and everything else in between? Chances are, all of them can be found on our phones.

In the wrong hands, that data could destroy our lives. Which is why the biggest smartphone OS developers — namely Google, Apple, and Microsoft — have made data security a big, if not the biggest, part of their respective feature lists.

With the FBI asking Apple to create a special system to bypass the tech company’s security setup, that system will be out there. That’s partly why Apple is afraid; even if they could create one, it would undermine everything they worked hard for. Once the system is created, nothing is stopping the FBI — or anybody who gets their hands on the software — to use it for personal or criminal reasons.

The FBI suggested solutions to the problem:

  • there will be a custom ID, i.e., each custom OS can only be installed on a specific phone;
  • operation of the software will be done only at Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California; and
  • any software update needs Apple’s approval to install.

But most security experts agree this isn’t just going to be about one phone. From the Verge:

That’s a nervous-making thought for security professionals, since no single system is ever thought to be entirely impenetrable. New vulnerabilities pop up in software all the time, and for the iPhone, they can sell for as much as $1 million. iPhone security expert Jonathan Zdziarski says there’s a real concern that an undisclosed vulnerability or existing exploit could be used in a way that Apple and the FBI can’t predict. Even if the signature system isn’t broken outright, the same tricks used by the FBI’s tool could be repurposed to give malware a stronger foothold on a targeted iPhone. ‘It’s not about just stealing one tool,’ says Zdziarski. ‘There’s a lot going on in software like this, and having a direct tap into how Apple can disable functions moves [attackers] along at light speed.’

But more than the system going into the wrong hands, it’s about that system ever existing in the first place. Because once the FBI wins the legal battle, it will set a terrible precedent for all tech companies. It tells them that the government, in their infinite benevolence, will be able to ask for the court order again and again. Once that’s possible, no matter what the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency says, they’ll have the power to lord over everyone’s privacy just because they’re the government.

And remember Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who leaked evidence of the U.S. government practically spying on everybody? Yeah.

That’s why you should care. If the court order holds and Apple can’t fight it back legally, then say goodbye to actual privacy, at least whatever is left of it anyway.

Whether you’re here in the Philippines or not, your privacy will be compromised. Whether it’s the government or some crooks who are spying on you, it won’t matter. Unless you stop using smartphones or any other devices that connect to the Internet, your privacy and your personal life will not be your own.

So pray that Apple wins this injunction and hope that you still hold control over your life after all of this is said and done. Because if they don’t, hackers will be the least of your worries.

[irp posts=”4932" name=”Unhappy customer walks into Apple Store, destroys Apple products”]

Features

Samsung’s mobile cameras take the spotlight: Weekend Rewind

Plus news on spying, banning, and new accessories

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Here are the top stories on GadgetMatch this week.

1. Samsung making waves in camera department

The team behind Samsung’s smartphone camera lenses should probably get a raise. Following the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+, DxOMark has officially dubbed its cameras as the best smartphone camera.


The Galaxy Note 10’s rear camera got a strong overall score of 113, scored a strong 118 for photo capabilities and 101 for video capabilities. Samsung leads in both categories. The selfie shooter gets a score of 99 overtaking previous best 98 by the ASUS Zenfone 6.

Samsung also officially announced the 108-megapixel ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor. That’s an insane number of megapixels.But the tech won’t debut on a Samsung phone. That distinction goes to a yet to be named Xiaomi phone that’s slated to launch later in 2019.

2. 2015 MacBook Pro banned from flights worldwide 

We’re getting flashbacks of the Galaxy Note 7 as airlines worldwide are banning another product from flights.

To prevent any explosion situation, the US Federal Aviation Administration bans the 2015 MacBook Pro units from American flights. Back in June, Apple announced a global recall for potentially malfunctioning MacBook Pro units shipped from September 2015 to February 2017. The aging device carries a faulty battery that can overheat and catch fire.  Since then, the company has offered free battery replacements for affected units.

Apple invites affected users to turn in their units as soon as possible. You can check your unit’s status on Apple’s website.

3. Facebook listens to our Messenger chats

We’ve all had suspicions that Facebook is listening to our Messenger chats.

Well, in a tell-all on Bloomberg report, the company admits to listening to your audio messages. Facebook has been hiring third-party firms to transcribe personal conversations for unknown purposes. An anonymous firm says Facebook did not tell contractors where the conversations came from.

Facebook has terminated the service a week before the report was published. But is that enough to comfort us?

This isn’t the first instance of tech companies listening to private conversations. Weeks ago, Apple was caught listening in on people having sex through Siri’s voice recognition software. Google also hired outside contractors to transcribe the conversations on their servers.

The recent surge in privacy concerns sparks an absolute need for stricter data control in the future.

4. DJI’s Osmo Mobile 3 is foldable!

DJI’s latest stabilizer is now even more portable!

The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 is now able to fold making it easier to carry on trips. There are also plenty of improvements. You can access Quick Roll by pressing the Mode button twice. It lets  you rotate the phone’s orientation from landscape to portrait and vice versa.

There’s ActiveTrack 3.0 that helps in re-centering the subject being tracked. There are also several modes to play with like Sports Mode, Gesture Control, Slow Motion Mode, and many others.

The accompanying Mimo app that has Story Mode. It lets you edit videos right away with preset music, transitions, and filters.

5. Snap launches the Spectacles 3

In case you’re wondering, Snapchat is still alive and kicking, and they even have some new hardware — the Spectacles 3.

With steel frames and classic details the Spectacles 3 feature two cameras on the front to properly capture depth. Of course it has AR Snapchat filters as well as 3D effects to closely take advantage of Snapchat’s photo enhancing capabilities

Users can quickly tap one of the two buttons and record up to 60 seconds of video. This includes audio captured from four microphones or a still picture.  Captured media instantly gets synced with your phone and you can use Snapchat to add filters.

These are all great but is it enough to get more people to use Snapchat again?


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Features

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang roles and the best ones

A quick guide, in case you’re just starting out

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Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB/ML) is a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) developed by Moonton. There are roles or classes in Mobile Legends that have their own distinct specialty. This ultimately affects the effectiveness and functionality of the team you and your teammates construct.


A role or class is a category that your hero plays throughout a game of MLBB. There are a total of 85 heroes you can choose from six roles: Tank, Fighter, Assassin, Mage, Marksman and Support. Some of these heroes fall into two roles sometimes; each of them having their own unique abilities, skills, and stats that work to both their advantages and disadvantages. It depends from hero to hero.

How well you can manage a hero and their role as well as their specialty depends on your familiarity to the hero as well as your capacity to be willing to learn to play other heroes, the more you play ML.

As mentioned before, heroes have their own set of skills, abilities, and stats that inevitably help a team win a game. Think of roles as the basic facets your hero has and through it, you can determine your hero’s specialties and limitations.

Tank

Tanks are naturally bulkier. What I mean by bulky is that they have higher Health Points (HP), armor, and magic resistance. On the other hand, their attacks don’t hurt as much on their own.

If you like being buff and beefy, then try the tank role. They’re the walking shield of your team. They can take a beating from the enemy team so other roles can do the wrecking for them. Tanks can do Crowd Control (CC) with stuns, slows, hooks, and barriers which help save teammates and trap enemies.

Sometimes having a tank in your team can make or break a game. Most other roles have attacks that hit harder but if all of your teammates have naturally lower HP, it won’t take long for the opposing team to target you one by one and wipe your team out.

If we’re being realistic though, if you’re the person who prefers sticking to the meta and everyone picks marksmen, you’re the kind soul that worked on getting good at playing this role and probably more. Tanks are essentially the guys and gals who protecc, while his/her team attacc. Yes, with two c’s because remember, tanks and crowd control.

Fighter

Fighters are melee heroes who have a good balance of HP, armor, magic resistance and attack damage. They usually attack by jumping into and out of enemy range.

Fighters are semi-tanks. They have significant attack damage while racking up a good amount of magic resistance, HP, and armor. This role often takes the jungle and can single-handedly accomplish objectives within the game.

Not every team needs a fighter, but it can help to have someone who has a good balance between attack damage and the damage they can take. It can be a little daunting to play fighter if you’re non-confrontational since they’re melee heroes.

If you think being tank is a little too tough since the role relies on teammates for damage, you can take the fighter role. Basically, if you like hitting hard, surviving hits, and also dealing significant damage yourself, use a fighter.

Assassin

Assassins are pretty much the role you’d think an assassin would take. They’re quick and deal a painful amount of damage. Assassins normally roam and jungle, but they essentially take marksmen and mages down when they linger with low HP or overextend.

As the name of the role would imply, they like to catch people off-guard by sneaking and roaming around the map and making sure they punish any overextensions, secure kills and maybe sometimes steal skills from other teammates. Assassins are often equipped with multiple blinks and flashes — sticking true to their name and their role.

Remember: Assassins have mobility, stealth and damage at their advantage, but they can falter with not as much armor, magic resistance, and HP.

If you like roaming around the map, dealing significant damage to enemies, and sneaking in and out of clashes to execute the killing blow or prevent yourself from dying, play the assassin role. They’re slippery heroes that are tough to deal with.

Marksman

This is the role you’re taught to play from the get go. ML let’s you play Layla, a marksman, to learn the basic mechanics of the game so it doesn’t seem to be a difficult role to place. But what does a marksman have over other roles? Marksmen have high attack damage, high changes of critical hits, and range.

Marksmen are similar to Assassins with damage and attack speed but the marksman has range and skills with an Area of Effect (AoE). These default abilities and skills for heroes under this type enable them to hit hard, fast, and from far.

Marksmen are often referred to as Attack Damage Carry (ADC) heroes. They’re heroes that hit hard which, by default, allow them to rack up a good number of kills in the game. Although they do stack up a ton of damage, marksmen can be soft.

They have the advantage or range, but if someone gets up close, they don’t have that much HP, magic resistance, and mobility to often save themselves alone. If you’re the type to push and deal a ton of damage yet have the capacity to feel out when you’re being targeted and stay reasonably cautious, play marksman.

Mage

Mages are ranged heroes like marksmen but, instead of physical damage, they deal a painful amount of magic damage. They are similar to a marksman with their disadvantages: mobility and low HP.

They do find their strengths in the same category: attack damage or for mages, magic damage. On top of that, instead of solely magic damage, mages have a variety of spells, stuns, and slows that cripple both selected enemy targets and any area of effect they cast their spells on. Their spells depend on mana so mages preserve mana until they can burst spells down on an enemy target.

A fair warning though: if anyone so much as sneezes your way, you are absolutely done for. Mages hit hard but are soft. They are also significantly slow. Almost anything that can chase mages down and nibble at its HP is it’s kryptonite.

They are good at crowd control and mages do well when asserting their dominance by consistently harassing their opponents and by bursting them down with spells.

Support

Supports are often healers. Think of them as medics in your team. They help heroes heal, as well as increase their chances of survivability in a fight. Their varied skills can often stun, slow down, and throw targets back but unlike mages, supports don’t often prioritize their attack damage.

Support roles efficiently partner with roles that are disadvantaged with HP, magic resistance, and mobility to help heroes farm and take kills.

Supports are an essential part of team dynamics, but they aren’t necessarily crippled of attack damage or magic damage. Many supports are capable of tanking kills. Although it isn’t their primary objective, they can still take kills and rack up quite a number themselves.

If working around your teammates, cheering them on, and healing them is what you’d like to do, play a hero under the support role.

What is the best role to play in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang?

That’s a trick question. The answer is all of them and none of them. If you and your teammates work on synergy, cooperation and teamwork, all of the roles are the best. A game like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang can foster the importance of diversity in teamwork when working towards winning.

Each role has its strengths and weaknesses but that is ultimately why it’s important to have a healthy mix of different roles in your team. If your team were to play the same role, you’ll find the role’s and their heroes default weaknesses become amplified — making it easy for enemy teams to win.

If you’re just starting out playing Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, ease into one role and maybe expand your skill set little by little. It’ll help you grasp the significance of each role and what they can give to the larger objective of the game: teamwork, fun, and practice.

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505DU Hands-on: An immersive experience for less

Striking a balance between performance and affordability

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We’ve got our hands on the ASUS TUF Gaming FX705 and the TUF Gaming FX505DY so you’re probably familiar with how the TUF Gaming series positions itself as the middle ground that offers premium features but with a more affordable asking price.

Another model from the same series has reached our headquarters. This time it’s the TUF Gaming FX505DU which is a newer model in the family. That single letter difference in the model name (DY to DU) suggests that it’s almost the same, with slight differences here and there. Let’s check out what those are.


It’s done with a polycarbonate body

Instead, goes for a more premium metallic shell

ROG DNA is present

Makes the overall aesthetics look edgier

Sports the same 15.6-inch IPS-level 120Hz display

Also with slim side and top bezels

Keyboard is backlit

Although this one has RGB color going on

There are distinct WASD keycaps as well

Still emphasizing its gaming origin

Loudspeakers are located at the bottom

Equipped with DTS Studio Sound

Spacious trackpad

Ergonomically placed, too

All the ports remain on the left

Leaves space when using a mouse on the right

A little subtle on the design, but…

The FX505DU, like its siblings, isn’t as flashy as the company’s more expensive ROG laptops, but it still looks like a gaming rig nonetheless. The lid is plain and straightforward but with that ‘X’ pattern that suggests it’s no common office laptop.

Once you open the lid, the brushed metal design seen on the body makes it look premium. It still has a large chin, but it isn’t much of an eyesore as the slim top and side bezels surrounding its Full HD display will catch your attention right away.

There’s also a webcam for video calls positioned on top so that’s a good thing. When it comes to typing, we don’t have any major qualms about it but I personally could use a bit more travel for the keys. It comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, an HDMI, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Overall, build quality is something that I like about this model as it has been certified to pass military-grade stress tests. Factor in the cool RGB backlighting and its edgy design and you have a good-looking yet tough gaming laptop.

Play wherever you go

Inside, it packs an AMD Ryzen 7-3750H which is then partnered to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660Ti. Together, they are a combo for fast and satisfactory performance while its 8GB RAM proved sufficient for day-to-day tasks. If needed, the memory could be modified up to 32GB for even snappier performances.

It runs Windows 10 Home out of the box and as for storage, it comes with a 1TB HDD plus a 256GB SSD.

We’ve tried a couple of games on it like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and battle royale titles like Fortnite and CS:GO — just like we did with the previous FX505DY. We’re happy to report that it could handle them easily but noticed a few lags here and there especially when there was a lot of movement happening. Not enough to affect the gaming performance, though, but we thought we’d just let you know.

The built-in loudspeakers sound decent and come with DTS Studio Sound to tweak and make the quality better. Still, it might not be for players looking for high-quality audio and you’d still be better off with dedicated gaming headphones plugged in.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It’s true that more expensive gaming rigs provide better gaming experience, but what ASUS is going for here with their TUF Gaming series is to strike the balance between performance and affordability.

With the FX505DU and its PhP 71,995 price tag, it offers a competitive gaming experience with 120Hz display, slim bezels, more premium materials, and internals that will ensure you have what you need to be able to have immersive gameplay wherever you go.

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