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PC Magazine

PC Magazine October 2016

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.

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United States
Ziff Davis
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12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
the long war on encryption

Afew months back, I used this column to explain why Apple should not have to crack its security measures and unlock a phone for the FBI. The phone belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, and it likely contained information that would be useful to law enforcement. It many ways, this was an ideal test case for the FBI. Popular opinion was mixed, but generally fell on the side of Apple helping out the government, “just this once.” Of course, that isn’t how technology works. And the FBI found a way to break the lock anyway, proving that no security system is truly unbreakable. But the broader question remains: Should the government have access to any communication? In the course of my argument, I said, “This is a big new problem,…

3 min.
reader input

When the Internet Takes the Wheel Our September cover story on driverless cars drove a lot of response online. It seems the concept is being met more with skepticism and criticism than enthusiasm by most readers—but not all! “DRIVERLESS CARS” What happens when 25 percent or more of the vehicles on the road are autonomous and human drivers along with their unpredictability, slower reflexes and lesser precision become a major problem by causing unnecessary accidents? At some saturation point, human drivers will become a liability as they simply will not be able to function as quickly or precisely as robotic driven cars. Will people in 10 or 15 years be ready to give up driving the car and simply being a passenger? –bobe123 It’s inevitable that companies will want to monetize this technology, and you’ll…

2 min.
look out, gorilla glass: diamond glass could be harder to crack

Hardened glass, such as the near-ubiquitous Corning Gorilla Glass, has made capacitive touchscreens the standard way of interacting with a smartphone. It’s constantly improving, too. Gorilla Glass is resistant to scratching, and newer screens won’t crack nearly as easily as they have in years past. It doesn’t have any bling, though. A company called Akhan Semiconductor says that it’s close to releasing a diamond coating for glass that would be even more durable than Gorilla Glass. Corning, which recently announced Gorilla Glass 5, makes the glass for nearly every high-end smartphone, including the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Note7. Apple also uses hardened glass from Corning but doesn’t like to talk specifics. Akhan Semiconductor says that its Akhan Miraj NCD diamond (that’s quite a mouthful) material is four times as crack-resistant and…

7 min.
the good and the terrifying things at black hat 2016

Black Hat is a gathering of security researchers, hackers, and industry that meets in Las Vegas to do three things: outline the latest threats, show how the good guys and the bad guys can be defeated, and launch attacks on the attendees. This year saw plenty of scary things, including car hacks, new ways to steal cash from ATMs, and why smart lightbulbs might not be as safe as we thought. But we also saw lots of reason to hope, including teaching machines to spot dangerous servers, using Dungeons and Dragons to train employees on dealing with security threats, and how Apple handles the security of your iPhone. It was, all told, a pretty mind-bending event. THE GOOD Apple announced a bug bounty program at Black Hat (a select handful of researchers…

3 min.
google’s deepmind gives robots a scary-accurate new voice

Whatever you may think of the robotic voices foisted upon the world thanks to Google Voice Search and Siri, you’re unlikely to mistake them for human voices. The state of the art in computer speech synthesis has been stuck at a fairly low level. But new software called WaveNet, from the brainiacs at DeepMind, is setting a high watermark in the field of speech synthesis and giving AI a voice eerily similar to that of a human. For years, robotics experts have spoken about something called the “uncanny valley”—the creepy feeling one gets when observing a robot that is too mechanistic to be mistaken for a human but not quite mechanical enough to be distinctly robotic. Perhaps one reason there has been no parallel concept for robotic speech is that to date,…

2 min.
what we love most this month

RFID-BLOCKING ACCESSORIES Whether you tote your license, credit cards, or passport in a back-pocket wallet orshoulder bag, RFID blockers can help to keep your personal data hidden. Access Denied uses proprietary RFID Lock technology to shield in and around all wallet pockets and folds. Similarly, the Lodis laptop bag promises safety for your passport or other identifiable information. Wallet: $109.96 rfiddenied.com Handbag: $368.00 lodis.com MILITARY-GRADE FARADAY BAGS Faraday cages—named after 19th-century scientist Michael Faraday—are designed to defend against damaging electromagnetic pulses (EMPs). You could, of course, build your own tinfoil enclosures. Or you could pick up Tech Protect’s value pack of Faraday bags, complete with one 20-by-30-inch bag, one 8-by-16-inch sack, and two 8-by-8-inch pouches for carrying laptops, gaming systems, video cameras, cell phones, thumb drives, GPS devices, and more. $34.95 techprotectbag.com iPHONE PRIVACY BALLISTIC GLASS SCREEN…