PC Magazine November 2019

PC Magazine provides lab-tested reviews, detailed tips and how-tos, insightful feature stories, expert commentary, and the latest tech trends to help you at work, at home, and on the road. And for a limited time, we're offering a copy of Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation with new subscriptions. This brand-new book is all about what made Atari's computers great: excellent graphics and sound, flexible programming environment, and wide support.

United States
Ziff Davis
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
achieving cable liberation

Almost three-fourths of US households subscribe to at least one video-streaming service, according to Leichtman Research Group. It also found that cable subscriptions are on the wane: Major pay-TV providers lost around 2.875 million net subscribers in 2018, and satellite TV services lost 2.36 million. In the tech press, we’ve talked about cord cutting for years—but with the tremendous success of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other streaming services along with the advent of numerous new services from heavy hitters such as Disney and Apple, it seems that viewers can get everything they want—and more—without cable. But saving money is no longer the reason to cut the cord. It’s unlikely that most households will be satisfied with just one streaming service—in fact, the average streaming customer in the US subscribes…

2 min
readers weigh in

TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION Hi Neil, I have read your columns for years, and they are great. The 2FA [two-factor authentication] issue is confusing for the layman. In order to avoid getting locked out if one’s phone is lost, is Authy the best option? And regarding password managers, Is LastPass more secure than Dashlane regarding handling and transmitting of password information?—Jeremy Bearman NEIL’S ANSWER All the 2FA systems have some kind of backup built in; you just have to use it. For example, with Yubikey or other FIDO-compliant keys, you can associate more than one physical key with your accounts. Keep one in your pocket, one in a lockbox, for example. With some SMS-based systems (they send you a text with an unlock code) you can fall back on receiving a code by email. With Google…

5 min
these researchers want to save you from ransomware—for free

If your PC is ever locked by ransomware, paying up won’t necessarily release your files; in fact, we recommend that you never hand over cash to these scammers. But what should you do? There’s a chance you can save your files without surrendering your wallet or trashing your PC entirely: A group of security researchers routinely examines the latest ransomware strains for flaws in their computer code and develops free tools that can (sometimes) reverse the infection. Michael Gillespie is among those researchers. He’s a programmer by day, but in his free time he works as a ransomware hunter for the New Zealand-based antivirus firm Emsisoft, a leading provider of ransomware decryptors. Desperate victims frequently reach out to him for help. “I can get anywhere from 50 to 200 people contacting me…

5 min
exclusive: mapping sprint vs. verizon 5g coverage in nyc

5G has hit Broadway, but think of it as being in previews. Now that both Verizon and Sprint offer 5G service in New York City, I set out to chart how they’re doing. I walked around several neighborhoods on Friday, October 11, to see whether Sprint’s 5G offers an experience worthy of the name. I also made maps of Verizon’s mysterious, unmapped 5G network. I used a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G phone for Sprint and a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G for Verizon. I used Ookla field test software, which ran a speed test every two minutes, along with a routine that captured the network indicator in the status bar every minute. I spot-checked the software and visual network indicators against the phone’s service mode screen. On all the images in this…

2 min
astronauts 3d-print beef on the international space station

Most people like eating meat, but the ecological impact of raising livestock to feed 7 billion humans is not insignificant. So companies around the world are trying to come up with alternative ways of producing meat and meat-like materials. That’s all happened on Earth, but what about meat-loving astronauts? For the first time, we’ve made synthetic meat in space aboard the International Space Station. Currently, your options for artificial meat are limited to plant-based materials from brands such as Impossible and Beyond. The next step might be to generate real meat with the aid of bioprinting. Israeli startup Aleph Farms has partnered with several 3D printing companies to conduct an experiment on the International Space Station (ISS). The company says this is the first time anyone has produced synthetic meat in…

6 min
us attorney general william barr has encryption all wrong

William Barr is an idiot. I’m not talking about his handling of the Mueller Report, nor am I talking about Ukrainian conspiracy theories. You can make up your own minds about those issues. I’m talking about Barr’s completely wrong, incorrect, so backward-it’s-right-out-the-damn-window stance on encryption. Both in a recent letter to Facebook and as far back as July, Barr has made it very clear that he wants backdoors into encrypted communication systems, consequences be damned. This outlook puts the private messages of American citizens and anyone else who would use these platforms at risk, because a backdoor is still a door—and even a door with a lock on it can be opened. THE ENCRYPTION ISSUE When we say that something is encrypted “end to end,” it means that the information is secured along…