A couple of weeks ago I published an overview of tools to improve the accessibility of websites, videos, and slides. I thought that I should expand on that article by creating an overview of…

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Following its WWDC 2019 reveal, Apple shipped macOS Catalina in early Fall and most Mac users have already taken a look at its most discussed improvements, but had you come across these?

One everyone knew

I guess most Mac users are aware of the tweaked windowing controls. Hover your cursor over the green button in the application window and you can open the app up in Full Screen, Tile Left and Tile Right views, or exit if you are already in those views.

If you are using an iPad with the same Apple ID on the same network, you can also enable Sidecar view here.

Light mode, Dark mode, Auto

You have been able to choose between Dark and Light mode in System Preferences>General>Appearance ever since Mojave. Catalina adds one more thing – an Auto button that will adjust which mode you are in depending on the time of day.

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[Disclosure: Intel is a client of the author.]

After a recent debrief on Intel’s 3D XPoint memory effort (aka Optane), I was again struck with the fact that this technology is selling well below potential. That’s sure to change as virtual providers of desktop and gaming platforms realize it’ll be critical to their efforts to remove latency, mostly in storage but also when a cloud customer or on-premise user needs to do the massive in-memory analysis of large data sets.

What got me thinking about this was when Dell EMC launched its DC D4800X product earlier this year and I saw the early reviews of Google’s new cloud gaming service Stadia, which has been getting bad reviews due to the unacceptable latency. This latency may be even more pronounced on competing services.

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The FBI's IDLE program uses "obfuscated" data to hide real data from hackers and insider threats, making data theft harder and giving security teams a tool to spot illicit access.

Enlarge / The FBI’s IDLE program uses “obfuscated” data to hide real data from hackers and insider threats, making data theft harder and giving security teams a tool to spot illicit access. (credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Bureau of Investigations is in many ways on the front lines of the fight against both cybercrime and cyber-espionage in the US. These days, the organization responds to everything from ransomware attacks to data thefts by foreign government-sponsored hackers. But the FBI has begun to play a role in the defense of networks before attacks have been carried out as well, forming partnerships with some companies to help prevent the loss of critical data.

Sometimes, that involves field agents proactively contacting companies when they have information of a threat—as two FBI agents did when they caught wind of researchers trying to alert casinos of vulnerabilities they said they had found in casino kiosk systems. “We have agents in every field office spending a large amount of time going out to companies in their area of responsibility establishing relationships,” Long T. Chu, acting assistant section chief for the FBI’s Cyber Engagement and Intelligence Section, told Ars. “And this is really key right now—before there’s a problem, providing information to help these companies prepare their defenses. And we try to provide as specific information as we can.”

But the FBI is not stopping its consultative role at simply alerting companies to threats. An FBI flyer shown to Ars by a source broadly outlined a new program aimed at helping companies fight data theft “caused by an insider with illicit access (or systems administrator), or by a remote cyber actor.”  The program, called IDLE (Illicit Data Loss Exploitation), does this by creating “decoy data that is used to confuse illicit… collection and end use of stolen data.” It’s a form of defensive deception—or as officials would prefer to refer to it, obfuscation—that the FBI hopes will derail all types of attackers, particularly advanced threats from outside and inside the network.

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Microsoft this week reworked its Windows 10 development model, severing links between features and specific releases so that it can deliver the former “when they are ready.”

“While features in the active development branch may be slated for a future Windows 10 release, they are no longer matched to a specific Windows 10 release,” Brandon LeBlanc, a senior program manager on the Windows Insider team, wrote in a Dec. 16 post to a company blog. “New features and OS improvements done in this branch during these development cycles will show up in future Windows 10 releases when they are ready.”

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DBA pilot fish gets a message one Monday morning that the Puerto Rico database is ready to be set up. To which he responds, “Puerto Rico database?” Yes, he’s told, we need a database in Puerto Rico to handle our Spanish-speaking customers. We put together the server on Friday and flew it down, and now you need to set it up. It’s urgent, urgent, urgent!

So urgent that no one bothered to inform fish until now.

But he sets to work and quickly has everything configured. When he starts to build the materialized views, though, he’s hit with communication errors, repeatedly. He contacts the network people: What’s going on with the network? They reply: The network is fine. Fish provides documentation that the network is not fine. Networking continues to look for the problem.

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DBA pilot fish gets a message one Monday morning that the Puerto Rico database is ready to be set up. To which he responds, “Puerto Rico database?” Yes, he’s told, we need a database in Puerto Rico to handle our Spanish-speaking customers. We put together the server on Friday and flew it down, and now you need to set it up. It’s urgent, urgent, urgent!

So urgent that no one bothered to inform fish until now.

But he sets to work and quickly has everything configured. When he starts to build the materialized views, though, he’s hit with communication errors, repeatedly. He contacts the network people: What’s going on with the network? They reply: The network is fine. Fish provides documentation that the network is not fine. Networking continues to look for the problem.

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Promotional image of gas station.

Enlarge (credit: Wawa)

US convenience store Wawa said on Thursday that it recently discovered malware that skimmed customers’ payment card data at just about all of its 850 stores.

The infection began rolling out to the store’s payment-processing system on March 4 and wasn’t discovered until December 10, an advisory published on the company’s website said. It took two more days for the malware to be fully contained. Most locations’ point-of-sale systems were affected by April 22, 2019, although the advisory said some locations may not have been affected at all.

The malware collected payment card numbers, expiration dates, and cardholder names from payment cards used at “potentially all Wawa in-store payment terminals and fuel dispensers.” The advisory didn’t say how many customers or cards were affected. The malware didn’t access debit card PINs, credit card CVV2 numbers, or driver license data used to verify age-restricted purchases. Information processed by in-store ATMs was also not affected. The company has hired an outside forensics firm to investigate the infection.

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