Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 12, 2014

Automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser;  11 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed;  Looking for a Travel Deal? Try Groupon’s New App;  Explore space with these 14 apps;  Inbox vs. Gmail 5.0: Which one is right for you?  The Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week;  How to set up Google Wallet;  Lenovo H500 dual-core mini tower desktop with DVD burner for $175;  Ocho app released: a tiny video social network;  10 Apps for People Who Want to Fall in Love;  Internet sales tax bill dead in Congress;  Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you;  Why are there more browser vulnerabilities these days?  Video game industry grew 4 times faster than US economy;  Warning! Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PC is riddled with performance issues;  Nvidia Takes Aim at the Apollo Moon Landing Cranks;  Liberkey – Liberkey is a collection of 302 portable apps (free).

How to automatically delete your cookies every time you close your browser – Firefox’s new Forget button is great for infrequent cookie flushing, but if you want to erase cookies on a more frequent basis here’s how to do it in Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Comcast Just Trolled Us All on Net Neutrality – Comcast says it agrees with President Obama on net neutrality. It doesn’t. It’s an attention-grabbing headline from Comcast, a company that net neutrality advocates are making out to be among the most nefarious of the bad guys in the ongoing open Internet debate. Right off the bat, it looks like Comcast is agreeing with President Obama, who on Monday unexpectedly came out in favor of reclassifying broadband Internet as a utility. That’s a move big telecoms like Comcast should hate, because it would give the Federal government more authority to regulate their business. So what’s the deal? It turns out Comcast’s post is just clickbait.

Looking for a Travel Deal? Try Groupon’s New App – The daily deals service just launched a new travel discovery app offering easy access to more than 25,000 deals in destinations around the world. Dubbed Groupon Getaways, the app lets you browse deals by theme (beach getaways, outdoor adventures, ski destinations, air included) or search for specific locations by zooming in and out on a map.

The Best Smartphone Apps You Can’t Miss This Week – It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

Explore space with these 14 apps – The universe is pretty amazing, and your smartphone or tablet is a great tool to see it from Earth. Here are 14 apps that will teach you about space.

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11 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed – Are you snap happy? Then you probably have Instagram on your phone. The supersocial photo-sharing app has 200 million monthly active users, but there’s a lot more to the service than just selecting a filter. Whether you’ve just started gramming or are far along, PCMag has rounded up a few tips that could make your photos stand out and garner you acclaim—well, at least a like or two more than you might have gotten before.

Here comes the new Office: Microsoft melds applications to present data in flexible, shareable ways – Delve, Sway, Revolve: For those who don’t follow Microsoft’s products closely, the words might sound like instructions for a nerdy line dance. But like the mashup generation they’re written for, the three new apps take elements of Microsoft’s productivity generation and blend them together. A look ahead at what Microsoft is now beginning to ship, versus what it has brought into the market over the past year, shows you how the Office suite is evolving into something very, very different.

Chromecast Aims To Be The Focal Point Of Family Games Night With New Apps – The new Chromecast apps announced today use your smartphone as a controller for the software running on the dongle attached to your TV, and include classics like Wheel of Fortune, as well as twists on old favourites like Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz, Connect Four Quads, and Simon Swipe. The apps are all available for both iOS and Android, and work on both tablets and smartphones so that virtually anyone who happens to drop by can get in on the action.

Inbox vs. Gmail 5.0: Which one is right for you? – Google’s approach to email depends on your needs, so find out whether Inbox or Gmail will suit you best.

Microsoft’s Lync becomes ‘Skype for Business’ – As of next year, however, Lync will become known as “Skype for Business”. The Lync server will become “Skype for Business Server”. Microsoft says the big change is that Lync’s client will get Skype’s look and feel. None of Lync’s features will go, but some of Skype’s will appear including a user’s Skype contacts being available to Lync.

Build a budget (sub-$300) PC – Back due to popular demand — a listing of the parts you need to build a budget sub-$300 PC. This parts list is useful to anyone looking to put together a cheap PC for the home or small office, but wants to know what he or she is getting for their money. This is a cheap build, but it’s not ultra cheap. What I mean by that is that I’m not cutting corners when it comes to quality. Want a good, solid PC but don’t want to spend much or trust an OEM with the job? Read on.

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Geek deals: Lenovo H500 dual-core mini tower desktop with DVD burner for $175 – That’s a 50% discount and one of the lowest prices for a new desktop we’ve seen. This H500 config features a dual-core Celeron J1800 processor, along with 4GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive. These basic specs are plenty for everyday light usage like internet browsing and office tasks. There’s also integrated 802.11bgn WiFi, five USB ports (one USB 3.0), VGA, a multi-card reader, and a DVDRW, giving you numerous connectivity options for your peripherals. Some ports, including a pair of USB ports, are located on the front for easy access.

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Drastic price cuts may damage PC industry, jeopardize Microsoft’s hopes for Windows 10 – Windows PC makers slashed prices to historically low levels in the U.S. during the last three weeks of October, damaging the consumer business just as Microsoft tries to push Windows 10 as its salvation, a retail analyst said last week.

Microsoft announces ‘Clutter’ for Office 365, a smarter Inbox – Microsoft has announced a new feature this morning for Office 365 users called ‘Clutter’ that makes it easier to manage your inbox by reducing the noise and increasing the signal.

Ocho app released: a tiny video social network – There’s a brand new warrior app out today released to do battle with the likes of Vine, Instagram, and maybe even Twitter itself. This is Ocho, a social networking app that allows you to record and share 8-second videos with your friends. This app is free for iOS users – that’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus included – and it has backing from some of the most powerful funders in the industry – Mark Cuban and Matthew Brimer included. This app was made for iPhone first and foremost – 16:9 aspect ratio recording made to fill up your whole screen.

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Open-source Gizmo 2 PC packs an AMD CPU, Radeon graphics – Open-source computers have so far lacked good graphics, but Gizmosphere’s new Gizmo 2 is an exception. The Gizmo 2 is an uncased single-board computer that will sell for $199. The computer can be used to build robots, electronics with large screens, or interactive computer systems that can recognize gestures or images.

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How to edit captions on Instagram – A recent update to Instagram makes it possible to easily correct mistakes in your photo or video captions.

Internet sales tax bill dead in Congress – Legislation in the U.S. Congress that would allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sales will not pass before the end of the year because of opposition from Speaker of the House John Boehner. Boehner’s opposition to the Main Street Fairness Act means the bill, which would allow states and local governments to collect sales taxes on Internet sales by businesses located outside their borders, will not pass during this session of Congress.

How to set up Google Wallet for easy, secure payments – Google Wallet is an easy, secure way to pay at over 300,000 locations. Jack Wallen walks you through the process of setting up Tap and pay to make your purchasing life easier.

10 Apps for People Who Want to Fall in Love – Winter is coming — fend off the cold by warming your heart. Tip the dating game odds in your favor by using one of these apps to meet your match.

Security:

Microsoft patches Windows, IE; holds back two updates – The most serious vulnerability could allow an attacker to gain control of a Windows Server just by sending packets. For undisclosed reasons, Microsoft withheld two updates scheduled for release.

There’s no opting out of Verizon’s PrecisionID – Verizon’s PrecisionID allows Verizon and advertisers to profile those who use Verizon data networks, and there’s no opting out. But here’s how to block it.

Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you – Nearly half (45 per cent) of those who visit the most convincing phishing pages are tricked into handing over personal information, according to Google. This effectiveness drops to just three per cent in the case of the most obviously scummy phishing sites, while the online giant reports that the account hijackers work quickly, with one in five compromised accounts getting accessed within 30 minutes.

Why are there more browser vulnerabilities these days? – Summary: I ran the numbers and vulnerabilities in browsers are up this year, as is their severity. We know more about this for Internet Explorer because Microsoft provides the most data.

Rights groups, NGOs struggle against malware attacks – A multi-year study of cyberattacks against 10 activist and human rights groups shows they’re hit with the same types of intrusions as large organizations but have far fewer resources to defend themselves. That disadvantage could mean a gradual erosion of the “core institutions” that mark a “vibrant democratic society,” wrote analysts with The Citizen Lab, a Canadian think tank that is part of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Over a four-year period, Citizen Lab looked at more than 800 suspicious emails, and 2,800 malicious payloads and malware families used to target the organizations, along with an analysis of network traffic.

Microsoft bolsters EMET security tool with hardened exploit mitigations – Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), a security program popular with companies, was updated Monday to harden the exploit mitigations that it adds to other programs and to address compatibility issues with some of them. The compatibility issues affected popular applications including Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Mozilla Firefox when EMET mitigations like Export Address Table Filtering Plus (EAF+) were applied to them.

Company News:

Android User Takes Apple To Federal Court Over Undelivered Text Messages – Apple will soon face a federal lawsuit brought on by a woman named Adrienne Moore, who, like many former iPhone users who have switched to Android, is upset that she did not receive text messages after switching from iPhone to Android. She is seeking unspecified damages, and to make the lawsuit a class action suit.

Video game industry grew 4 times faster than US economy in 2012, study says – The video game market is alive and thriving, and you can thank smartphones for its growth. Mobile gaming, through titles like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans, has turned all device owners into potential players. And US consumers have responded with the gift that keeps on giving: money. The US video game industry grew 9.6 percent from 2009 to 2012, to add $6.2 billion to the US economy. That’s four times faster than the entire US economy, according to a new report from industry trade group, the Entertainment Software Association.

Yahoo buys BrightRoll, has largest video ad network – Yahoo is continuing their shopping spree, this time acquiring a video advertising network. Marissa Mayer and company have announced they’ve purchased BrightRoll for $640 million in cash. It’s an investment in video, one of Yahoo’s four “strategic pillars” as well as a “growth business” for the search-centric company. In announcing the acquisition, Yahoo is also attempting to re-brand what video is, calling is “display 2.0”, and something that can replace banner ads. BrightRoll makes Yahoo the largest video ad platform provider in the US.

Google signs 60-year lease on NASA airfield and hangars – Google has sealed a deal to lease NASA’s Moffett Airfield for the next 60 years after beginning negotiations for the land back in February. Under terms of the agreement, Google will pay NASA an estimated $1.16 billion in rent over the life of the agreement, with addition funds going toward the restoration of a more than 80-year-old hangar, known as Hangar One, that sits on the property. Google may use Hangar One, as well as two sequentially named hangars on the airfield, as a space for research, development, assembly, and testing of technology related to robotics, aviation, space exploration, and other new fields once it moves in.

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Tor-based Anonabox router revises troubled history as it resurfaces on Indiegogo – After a suspended Kickstarter campaign, the anonymizing router returns with promises of a fresh design and better security. But the new story doesn’t quite add up.

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Groupon backs down from GNOME over trademark, will change product name – Groupon has decided to use a name other than “Gnome” for its tablet platform for merchants. “After additional conversations with the open source community and the Gnome Foundation, we have decided to abandon our pending trademark applications for ‘Gnome,'” the company said. “We will choose a new name for our product going forward.”

Google Music bucks the trend with growing downloads – Streaming music services like Spotify have caused a big ripple in the industry, influencing everything from legit music downloads to piracy rates. Despite this, Google Music has seen growth among its download sales alongside an uptick in its streaming service’s user base. The growth runs counter to the industry’s overall faltering, with such sales earlier in 2014 seeing a year-on-year drop of 13-percent.

Spotify CEO responds to Taylor Swift, calls her out on earnings – In pulling her entire catalog from Spotify, Taylor Swift took a jab at streaming music. According to Swift, streaming services like Spotify don’t pay artists enough. That’s something we’ve touched on before, and she’s right — they typically don’t. Artists get paid by volume of played tracks, so for the house DJ in Prague looking to be discovered, streaming isn’t so lucrative. Taylor Swift, however, is Taylor Swift. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took exception to Swift’s commentary, and has issued a response.

Google AdSense to news site: Change your content, or else – Google’s AdSense has told San Francisco news outlet The SF Appeal that it has three days to remove editorial content that violates its advertising policy.

Games and Entertainment:

This Is How Insanely Beautiful the New Halo on Xbox One Is – Released Nov. 11, Halo: The Master Chief Collection combines more than a decade of Halo history into one high-gloss package. The Xbox One exclusive is not only a celebration of the video game franchise’s past, but a major preview of its future—a.k.a. the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. The collection combines Halo 1 through 4 and reimagines their looks with more current graphics. The results are impressive. Here, take a closer look:

The 15 Best-Looking Video Games of 2014 – Exclusive images from the most breathtakingly beautiful games of the year.

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This pulled back shot of fictional Himalayan region Kyrat is in-game, believe it or not, rendered with an overhauled version of the engine Ubisoft used to design Far Cry 3.

Warning! Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PC is riddled with performance issues – If you’re excited to play the new Assassin’s Creed, maybe hold off and see whether Ubisoft fixes any of the issues. It’s hard to know how many of these issues are permanent and how many will be worked on in the coming weeks, and Nvidia and AMD each released new drivers for the game today, but for now just be aware that the rumors are true—Unity is suffering from all sorts of performance issues. Buyer beware.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Brings More Of The Same Sneaky Mayhem – Assassin’s Creed Unity is the first title in the series built specifically for the more advanced hardware of this generation’s consoles rather than upgraded a bit from the version released on the PS3 and Xbox 360. As happens with console transitions, this game drops some of the fun diversions from last year’s game in favor of focusing on the franchise’s core gameplay mechanics, providing plenty of satisfying stealth and action sequences in a lively rendition of Paris during the French Revolution.

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Nvidia vs. AMD Best Graphics Cards at Every Price Point – With no more GPU releases from Nvidia or AMD for the remainder of the year the battle is now on pricing. We break down each price bracket to determine which company offers the best value product.

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Creative Sound Blaster Roar SR20 Review – The team at Creative have made something special in the Sound Blaster Roar SR20. This isn’t just a Bluetooth speaker. It’s not just an alarm clock. It’s not just a collection of wireless and wired sound-centric features in a single package. It’s part of the future – one in which multiple abilities doesn’t mean lower quality in any one of those abilities. The Creative team have made a masterpiece of personal, portable sound. Multiple connections, multiple uses – a real do-everything-well machine.

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This Is Why Male Video Game Characters Suddenly Got All Soft – The old tentpole action heroes of the 1990s—Duke Nukem, BJ Blazkowicz, DOOM’s battering ram of a space marine—were creatures of unproblematic bravado, secure behind their sunshades and grenade belts. They whole-heartedly embraced the centuries-old cliché that masculinity boils down to your ability to destroy or impose your will by force. The new breed are no less capable killers, but they’re softer, more approachable—a product of the criticism of hyper-masculine slaughter machines, and of a greater demand for narratives that move us like the best films and TV shows.

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Joel from ‘The Last of Us’, in a rare moment of not murdering something.

Dragon Age: Inquisition review: Big, bold, and full of fetch quests – Dragon Age: Inquisition has some utterly amazing moments, but they’re padded out by a fair amount of ho-hum filler.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Nvidia Takes Aim at the Apollo Moon Landing Cranks – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin really did land on the moon 45 years ago and Nvidia can prove it. The purpose of Nvidia’s project—aside from showing off Maxwell—was to debunk a popular conspiracy theory which holds that NASA never actually sent humans to Earth’s satellite, a view supposedly bolstered by claims that the light conditions in Armstrong’s photo and other images taken by Apollo astronauts appear to be off, as if the pictures were taken on a studio set.

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How automation could take your skills — and your job – Nicholas Carr’s new book, The Glass Cage, examines the idea that businesses are moving too fast to automate white collar jobs, sophisticated tasks and mental work, effectively dumbing down workers.

Pointing up   Toffler predicted this, and more, in 1970, in Future Shock.

Back to the Future DeLorean replica is a flying drone – If you want a drone to zip around but none quite meet your style needs, you can take a page out of YouTuber’s Native118’s book and make your own…in the style of a Back to the Future DeLorean. The drone was made piece by piece out of lightweight materials — including bright glowing LEDs — to form the most retro-chic quad-copter out there, and it’s able to fly around without any hassles. The man behind the drone upload his construction process, lending a helping hand to any DIYers who want to make their own.

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Elon Musk confirms army of micro-satellites in the works – One can say a lot of things about Elon Musk, but no one can deny that the man has vision and imagination. Confirming in public, at least to the Internet, a rumor that has been floating around since Saturday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO revealed that his space-faring company is indeed working on small-sized satellites. Unlike the more ambitious goal of propelling humans into space, this endeavor has a more philanthropic bent, aiming to bring Internet to more people. Kind of like Google’s Project Loon, but with satellites.

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You Don’t Know Shit – Part 1 – Every morning between 8 AM and 9 AM, the waste output of Manhattan’s West Side  swells from 70 million to 150 million gallons per day. This is known as “the big flush.” The sewage will eventually end up on a NYC Department of Environmental Protection Sewage boat, which will take the sludge to a dewatering plant on Ward’s Island, where the sludge will become “biosolids”—reused to create golf courses, cemeteries, and fertilizer for the human food chain. Biosolids have become a financial asset worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but it’s still possible that we’ll go back to dumping our waste in the ocean. In this new documentary, VICE traces the trail of waste from butt to big-money biosolid and beyond.

Pointing up    Part 2 is also available.

Bill Gates sells $925M in Microsoft stock, still owns $13.6B worth – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sold 20 million company shares in late October, but thanks to market gains in the past three months, his portfolio was worth more than when he last sold stock, regulatory filings showed. In the five days from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $45.92 to $46.76 for a total of $925 million, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

China, US agree on technology tariff cut – The WTO’s Information Technology Agreement is back on course after the United States and China agreed to the slashing of tariffs on electronic goods.

Something to think about:

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”

–      Freya Madeline Stark

Today’s Free Downloads:

Dropbox – Dropbox is a useful tool that will enable you to instantly store your files online and share them.

It can also synchronize the files from your offline directories and online storage.

Features:

Synchronization:

Once installed, any file you drop into your Dropbox folder will synchronize and be available on any other computer you’ve installed Dropbox on, as well as from the web. Also, any changes you make to files in your Dropbox will sync to your other computers, instantly.

Backup:

Let’s say you accidentally delete that 8 page report that you were supposed to have for a meeting tomorrow. A handy Dropbox feature is the ability to undelete files or pull up any previous versions of it.

Sharing:

You can also share files and folders with whomever you choose, whether it be music with buddies, docs with colleagues or photos with grandma, even if they’re not Dropbox users.

Speed:

We obsess over speed, and it shows. Dropbox is very smart about the way it handles files. For example, if you make a change to a huge file, dropbox will only update the piece of the file that changed.

Security:

All files are transported over SSL and encrypted using AES-256 (banks use this too)

Liberkey – Liberkey is a collection of portable apps in a variety of categories that can be run on your local PC or from any portable media. Take these important apps with you and use on any computer.

LiberKey is a complete application platform for local or portable use. It allows you to manage your applications quickly and without skill.

Installation of an application from LiberKey catalog is done with 2 clicks but you can easily add any other application.

After LiberKey installation, the user has the choice to install Ultimate, Standard or Basic suites (so always updated) or to define its own suite with the online catalog.

Features:

Smart applications closure

A menu with advanced features which allows you to organize and manage your applications. (categories creation, shortcuts, tabs/menus, smart search, drag-n-drop, and more).

floating menus for quick access from your desktop

Portable files associations : You can open files and protocols (http, ftp, mailto, etc) with the application of your choice

Portable desktop shorcuts : shortcuts to your applications are placed on the desktop and removed when your exit LiberKey

Automatic online updates (LiberKey platform and applications of the catalog) which allows you to be always and easily up to date

Synchronization with the online catalog and much more…

LiberKey Ultimate includes 302 free programs in the following categories:

Audio

CD/DVD

File Management

Graphics

Internet

Network

Office

Security

System Utils

Video

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Did the government hack a CBS journalist? Maybe – Sharyl Attkisson was hacked. The computers used by the former CBS News investigative reporter were found to have been remotely accessed and tampered with, according to both a CBS-hired forensics expert and a reputable information security firm that did an analysis commissioned by Attkisson herself. Those are the facts as we know them.

Currently, that’s where the facts end and the allegations begin. Attkisson, whose book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington was released this week, claims to have evidence that she was hacked by someone working for the government. She says the digital intrusion was part of a campaign to get her to stop pursuing stories critical of the Obama administration. [Attkisson, in a follow-up e-mail, clarifies: “I theorize the digital intrusion was an attempt to surreptitiously monitor my work to see who was talking to me and how much I knew on various stories.”]

Attkisson is confident in her story, but others aren’t so sure.

Exhibit overwhelms viewers with the scale of governments’ secret spy programs – At an art gallery in New York, Citizenfour cinematographer Trevor Paglen is showing a video installation that features more than 4,000 surveillance program code names from both the National Security Agency (NSA) and Government Communications Headquarters. Entitled Code Names of the Surveillance State, the exhibition consists of endlessly scrolling columns projected on the four walls of Metro Pictures’ Chelsea gallery, and will run until December 20th.

The code names displayed are described as “deliberately nonsensical” and without any ostensible connection to the programs they represent.

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Are fingerprints PINs or physical artifacts? – A judge’s ruling that a person can be forced to open his phone with his fingerprint ignores the fact that the fingerprint scan is just a substitute PIN, which can’t be required by law enforcement.

You’ve got the director of the FBI railing against smartphone encryption, claiming that it puts us all at greater risk from terrorists. And a circuit court judge in Virginia has ruled that although police cannot force suspects to reveal their passwords/PINs, they can be forced to apply their fingers to their iPhones and open them, against their will. There is a lot of legal history — a.k.a. precedent — for this, but an absolute absence of logic or rationale. When a fingerprint becomes a password/PIN, it must be treated as such.

Part of this history involves the traditions of the police, who have long been able to forcibly require suspects to dig their fingerprints into a police station inkpad. To them, the fingerprint reader on an iPhone feels the same. But in the IT world, the fingerprint used to unlock an iPhone is not a fingerprint so much as it is merely data reflecting a biometric scan — just another way of authenticating. In other words, it’s a password that’s neither spoken nor typed.

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