PC Magazine December 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

2 min
this awesome year in tech

December? Already? It’s just about time to bring 2019 to a close and enter a brand-new decade. (And don’t @me about when the new decade actually starts: Every year is the start of a new decade, technically.) One way to start is to go back ten years and see what we were excited about then. Here’s what we wrote about the year 2009 in our story “The Best Tech Products of 2009”: Laptops got even smaller and cheaper (in the form of netbooks) and desktops went multicore in a big way as well as shed towers for all-in-one designs. Phones became even more powerful and touch-friendly, thanks to the influence of the iPhone. Camera LCDs got larger, lenses got wider, and operating speeds got faster. The software world stayed exciting with the…

2 min
william barr and encryption

The article is spot on. It misses a major point, though. We often use PGP/GPG public key encryption in email and other forms of communication. I, for example, have a PGP/GPG key, and my laptop is the only machine in the world that knows the private key. The public key is reachable at keys.openpgp.org among others—feel free to download it (26A482E54D795725 is one of them). If I have encrypted something using a public key technology, the only party that can decrypt it is someone with the other key in the pair; something encrypted using my private key needs my public key (but you know for sure that I encrypted it), and something encrypted using my public key requires my private key to decrypt it (you know that only I can…

2 min
microsoft launches all-in-one office mobile app

Microsoft has launched an Office app that combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a reimagined form for mobile users. As Microsoft’s Bill Doll explained on the Microsoft Tech Community blog, the new Office mobile app is meant to offer a more mobile-centric experience for Office users. It takes into account “how people’s expectations differ when using a phone versus a computer,” with the end result being an app optimized for “simplicity, efficiency, and common mobile needs.” It also caters to how input happens on mobile devices while at the same time remaining familiar to existing Office users. The feature likely to get the most attention and positive feedback from users is unified file access: Users can access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents all from the same app. Opening documents has also…

8 min
ai makes the world a weirder place, and that’s okay

Artificial intelligence can do some amazing things, but it’s not perfect. Research scientist Dr. Janelle Shane has been cataloging “the sometimes hilarious, sometimes unsettling ways that algorithms get things wrong” on her website, AI Weirdness, and dives deeper into the topic in her new book, out this week. Time and time again, Dr. Shane’s neural nets ingest the data she throws at them and spits out some strange stuff—from inedible recipes (horseradish brownies, anyone?) to bizarre cat names and paint colors from hell. At first glance, Dr. Shane’s book—You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How AI Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place—seems like a lighthearted, cartoon-enhanced look at AI, but there are some lessons about human vulnerabilities. We spoke to Dr. Shane to find out…

10 min
nordvpn and torguard vpn breaches: what you need to know

After the disclosure of major security breaches at NordVPN and TorGuard VPN, we lowered the score of NordVPN from five to four. It will keep its Editors’ Choice award, for now. TorGuard will retain its four-star rating. Here’s what happened. The story started months ago on 8chan, the anonymous message board. A user bragged about having compromised NordVPN, TorGuard VPN, and a service we have not reviewed called VikingVPN. The brags went unnoticed for months until October 20th, when a Twitter storm brought them into the light. I learned, like everyone else, that in the case of NordVPN and TorGuard VPN, someone managed to gain access to VPN servers leased by the companies. Both NordVPN and TorGuard have issued statements outlining the attack. VikingVPN has not updated its blog in quite some…

4 min
when is the 5g iphone coming?

The iPhone 11 is here, and it doesn’t have 5G. For a year now, we’ve been expecting 5G to arrive in the 2020 iPhone models, and we still expect that. Whether that means delaying your iPhone purchase is up to you. It’s important to understand that in September 2020, when the 5G iPhone is likely to come out, 5G in the US will be considerably less of a mess than it is right now. At the moment, 5G coverage is very limited, and no phone can handle all of the kinds of 5G available in the US. That’s likely to shake out by next year, making 2020 the prime time for a 5G iPhone. If Apple sticks with the 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max structure and releases three iPhones next year,…