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Microsoft's patch to fix Windows Search breaks Windows Search

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 12:24

Microsoft will have to patch the patch. A recent patch designed to eliminate unwanted CPU spikes associated with Windows Search has apparently broken Windows Search.

At least it has on my machine. Other threads on Reddit report that the entire Start menu has vanished. More tellingly, Microsoft has acknowledged the bug, and has said that it is working on a patch for the patch.

Originally, a “small number of users” saw a spike in CPU consumption after installing the latest update to the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, or  KB4512941, Microsoft reported last week. Those spikes were apparently tied to users who had decided to block Windows Search’s ability to search the web. This week, Microsoft issued patch KB4515384 to solve the problem. Unfortunately, in fixing the CPU spiking problem, the patch presented new problems for Windows Search and, in some cases, the Start menu.

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This week in games: Civilization reproduced in Excel, Control teases an Alan Wake expansion

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 12:00

I finished Control two weeks ago and now all I can think about is more Control. Good news on that front, as Remedy announced two expansions this week—including one themed around Alan Wake? It certainly looks that way.

That news, plus a few Tokyo Game Show announcements, Civilization in Excel, Civilization-as-battle-royale, KFC’s new video game obsession, a System Shock III trailer, and more.

This is gaming news for September 9 to 13.

Free frights

For the first time ever, Epic’s free game of the week is one I haven’t played. Conarium, released in 2017, is “a chilling Lovecraftian game” and the screenshots look neat, though it holds a middling score on Steam. Still, it’s free right? Nothing to lose by picking it up.

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Hurry and order your iPhone 11 Pro in Midnight Green because they’re selling fast

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 08:55

It only took 20 minutes for some iPhones to sell out of their preorder allotment. And as you might have guessed, the most popular model is the biggest one in the newest color. While iPhone 11 stock seems to be plentiful, the iPhone 11 Pros are starting to slip. You can still get many combinations with guaranteed Sept. 20 delivery, but some Pro models won’t ship for several weeks (all shipping times listed below are as of this writing):

iPhone 11 Pro 64GB, Midnight Green
  • Verizon: 2-3 weeks
  • AT&T: 5-7 days
  • Sprint: 2-3 weeks
  • T-Mobile: 2-3 weeks
  • Unlocked: Sept. 20
256GB/512GB, Midnight Green
  • Verizon: 2-3 weeks
  • AT&T: 2-3 weeks
  • Sprint: 2-3 weeks
  • T-Mobile: 2-3 weeks
  • Unlocked: 5-7 days
iPhone 11 Pro Max All capacities
  • Verizon: Sept. 20
  • AT&T: Sept. 20
  • T-Mobile: 7-10 days
  • Unlocked: 5-7 days

Some other scattered models have also shipped beyond their Sept. 20 release, including the Space Gray Pro Max at AT&T and T-Mobile. Whether that’s the result of short stock or high demand is unknown, but the message is clear: Hurry up and order because the model you want might be sold out sooner than you think.

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Apple is making its iPhones last longer. That’s a good thing

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 08:00

A cynic might argue that prolonging the lifetime of its smartphones runs counter to Apple’s interests. After all, the sooner iPhones break down, the sooner customers have to pony up the cash for a new one. For years, conspiracy theories of “planned obsolescence” have run rampant, full of anecdata of iPhones breaking down just as they run out of warranty.

But that argument flies in the face of reality. For one thing, if your expensive new phone breaks after a year, are you really going to immediately replace it with another phone from the same unreliable manufacturer?

More to the point, Apple has demonstrated that it is dedicated to getting the most life possible out of its smartphones, such as with last year’s iOS 12 update, which promised better performance on older devices. And the company has continued the trend this year with the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, offering a number of features that should keep them reliably ticking away longer than ever.

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The real innovations at Apple’s iPhone 11 event were the prices, not the products

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 07:00

During Apple’s iPhone even Tuesday, the biggest applause breaks weren’t for the iPhone 11 Pro’s triple camera or the Apple Watch’s always-on display. They weren’t for Jason Momoa in the See trailer or the iPhone 11’s Night Mode. Rather, they were for the slides that are usually met with murmurs or outright silence: the prices.

Out of nowhere, Apple stopped being the company that sets the bar for the high end. Instead, it undercut Disney with its Apple TV+ streaming service, bested Google’s Stadia with Apple Arcade, delivered more iPad for the same price, and—the biggest surprise of all—trimmed the price of the iPhone 11 by $50 across the board. And that’s not to speak of the free year of Apple TV+ you get with basically any Apple device purchase.

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Astro A40 TR plus MixAmp review: A tough sell nowadays, but still a top-notch headset

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:30

It’s been a while since we’ve seen premium Astro gear. Once known exclusively for its high-end headsets, Astro spent the past few years carving a niche at the budget-friendly end of the market. First there was the A10, delivering surprisingly great sound for only $60 (and earning our pick for best budget headset). Then Astro followed up with the A20, for entry-level wireless.

But with those newcomers now firmly established it’s high time Astro returned to its signature headset, the A40. 

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Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 920 review: this combo robot vacuum/mop is great for multi-level homes

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00
This robot vac can remember multiple floor plans, which is great for folks who live in multi-level homes (but no, it can't climb stairs).

Kami Smart Security Starter Kit review: Its low price tag is the one thing it has going for it

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00
You won't find many Zigbee-based home security systems cheaper than this, but you'll find plenty that are more effective at protecting your home.

The new 10.2-inch iPad: How does it compare to the iPad Air?

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00

This week, Apple announced the seventh generation of its entry-level iPad, and it’s a weird little beast. The screen is a little larger than last year’s model, and you can now use a full-sized Smart Keyboard, but the processor remains the same and the overall design has only slightly changed. The changes are so few between last year’s model and this one, in fact, that we basically covered them all in our announcement post.

Instead, let’s compare the new kid on the block to this year’s refreshed iPad Air, which has a 10.5-inch Retina display that’s now very close in size to what you’d get on the 10.2-inch iPad. The bodies of both models now measure exactly 9.8 inches by 6.8 inches, although the Air has a tiny advantage in thinness. The Air costs more, but unless you’re really just out to save money or you don’t think you’ll need more space, the iPad Air undoubtedly will be the smarter buy at this size. Here’s why.

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Best robot vacuums: We name the most effective cleaners

Mac World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00
Vacuuming is one of the most hated household chores. Here are your best choices for outsourcing it to some automated help.

Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 920 review: this combo robot vacuum/mop is great for multi-level homes

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00
This robot vac can remember multiple floor plans, which is great for folks who live in multi-level homes (but no, it can't climb stairs).

XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra review: A high-performance muscle car of a GPU

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00

Gamers, start your engines. The $440 XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is the first custom Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card we’ve laid hands on, and it screams.

The Thicc II Ultra evokes XFX’s beloved Double Dissipation design, with an ultra-clean, black-and-chrome scheme reminiscent of American muscle cars, and revved-up clock speeds to match. Like any hot rod, though, you’ll need to tinker with it a bit for the best performance, and you can hear it purring when you put the pedal to the gaming metal.

It’s worth it. The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is extremely impressive and extremely fast, pushing AMD’s new flagship GPU well past the similarly priced GeForce RTX 2060 Super’s performance. With its optimizations, the Thicc II Ultra inches awfully close to the $500 RTX 2070 Super’s frame rates. You’ll be able to find it at retailers this week, but XFX sent us an early review sample to test. Let’s get to it.

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Kami Smart Security Starter Kit review: Its low price tag is the one thing it has going for it

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00
You won't find many Zigbee-based home security systems cheaper than this, but you'll find plenty that are more effective at protecting your home.

Best robot vacuums: We name the most effective cleaners

PC World - Fri, 2019-09-13 06:00
Vacuuming is one of the most hated household chores. Here are your best choices for outsourcing it to some automated help.

AMD adds Radeon Image Sharpening to some Radeon RX 400- and 500-series graphics cards

PC World - Thu, 2019-09-12 17:29

One of the Radeon RX 5700 series’ most interesting software tricks is expanding to more graphics cards. The new AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.9.2 drivers releasing today adds support for Radeon Image Sharpening to the Radeon RX 470, 480, 570, 580, and 590—AMD’s lineup of killer value mainstream graphics cards.

As we said in our Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT review: “Radeon Image Sharpening uses algorithms to intelligently sharpen only the areas that need it, reducing the blurriness that can pop up when you activate various anti-aliasing methods or run games at a lower resolution than your display’s maximum. Better yet, it does so with next to no performance impact.”  

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Apple’s fall OS release schedule is weird—here’s when your device will be updated

Mac World - Thu, 2019-09-12 17:00

Generally, Apple releases its big fall operating system updates at nearly the same time. We get the new iOS, tvOS, and watchOS all on the same day (or nearly so), and the new macOS within a week or two. Yes, there are further “point releases” to add features and fix bugs, but the big drop is often more or less at once.

This year is different. Apple started public tests of iOS 13.1 weeks before the release of iOS 13. It split the iPad off into its own OS with its own release date. The new macOS release is who-knows-when. And some features and devices are going to have to wait until a later date for updates. 

Here’s a quick guide to which of the 2019 fall OS updates are happening on what dates, and for what devices.

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AppleCare+: Everything you need to know about Apple’s extended warranty program

Mac World - Thu, 2019-09-12 15:00

Your Apple gear wasn’t cheap. And if you drop your iPhone, your iPad stops turning on one day, or you smack your Apple Watch into something and shatter it, getting it repaired probably won’t be cheap either.

Apple includes a one-year limited warranty with all hardware so if there’s a manufacturing defect, you’ll be covered. To also protect against accidental damage, plus extend the original warranty for longer and enjoy free tech support, you can opt to purchase AppleCare+. Here’s what it is, what it covers, and what you can expect to pay. Is AppleCare+ worth it? Only you can decide for your own situation, but this should be everything you need to know to make a smart choice.

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Mozilla tests VPN-like Firefox Private Network for Firefox browsers

PC World - Thu, 2019-09-12 14:11

Firefox will be the second browser vendor to include a free VPN inside a browser... well, of a sort, anyway.

This week, Mozilla announced the evolution of its “Test Pilot” program, where the company will test beta features with a small group of customers. In this case, you must sign up for a Firefox account and opt in to the program.

The first beta is the Firefox Private Network, which the company is not advertising as a virtual private network, or VPN. Mozilla promises you’ll be able to toggle the Private Network on, which will provide some of the traditional features of a VPN: end-to-end encryption and hidden IP addresses, among others. However, the “VPN” affects only your Firefox browser, so any other apps you have open during that time won’t benefit from encryption. For now, it’s available only to desktop PCs.

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iPhone 11 Upgrade Program PSA: If you have an iPhone XR, you’ll need to make a payment first

Mac World - Thu, 2019-09-12 11:35

In just a few hours, iPhone 11 preorders will open across the world, and millions of people are already setting their alarm clocks, favoriting their preferred color and storage combinations, and checking their upgrade eligibility. But before you can start tracking your shipment, there are a few things you need to know.

You need to use the Apple Store app

While you’ll be able to check your eligibility for an upgrade using Apple.com, if you want to complete the process, you’ll need to download the Apple Store app to do it since Apple doesn’t have a web interface for upgraders.

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Assassin's Creed: Odyssey's educational Discovery Tour mode is here at last, and better than before

PC World - Thu, 2019-09-12 09:51

“My name is Herodotus, and I am a traveler from Halikarnassos.”

That’s underselling it a bit, I think. More than mere traveler, Herodotus is generally considered the first historian in the modern sense. And here he is standing on a remote beach, ready to regale me on the battles of Pylos and Sphakteria, key conflicts in the 30-year Peloponnesian War.

It’s an experience only Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’s Discovery Tour can offer modern-day fans of history, and yet more proof how special this spin-off series can be—and how much more potential there is to explore.

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