Wednesday Newsbytes: Why So Many Hate Windows 11, Beware of Computer Repair Shops, Amazon Gift Cards for Old Electronics, Tax Filing Sites Share Your Data with Facebook…and more!

By | November 23, 2022
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Wednesday Newsbytes: Why So Many Hate Windows 11, Beware of Computer Repair Shops, Amazon Gift Cards for Old Electronics, Tax Filing Sites Share Your Data with Facebook…and more!

Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature some news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s  ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!

This Is Why So Many People Hate Windows 11

Microsoft is quietly auto-upgrading Windows 10 machines to Windows 11 — provided they have enough space and meet the new Windows 11 TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) requirements (via Microsoft). Windows 11 introduces some fresh aesthetic changes, but it mostly amounts to a new coat of paint over the existing Windows 10 system.

Far from a radical revamp, it has the same flaws that plagued its predecessor: duplicate legacy and modern system apps, forced updates, advertising, and privacy concerns, according to The Guardian. And some functionality is actively limited or obfuscated, while some other features have been reworked entirely, sacrificing intuitiveness as a result.

Also limited is the list of machines compatible with Windows 11. Microsoft has introduced new minimum CPU requirements, mostly only compatible with new-gen chips with specific security modules baked right into them. Advanced users can sidestep these minimum requirements and install the OS anyway. But it presents even more resistance to adopting Windows 11 (via Microsoft).

Stability, especially when it comes to gaming, also suffers with the new Windows update. Ever since it came out, developers have been busy pushing one update after another to fix bugs, as noted by Microsoft. Months later, Windows 11 still needs additional streamlining. The cycle of debugging and adding new features is expected for any software release, but as it stands now, you might not want to upgrade just yet.

Start menu redesigned

The most visually striking change is the redesigned Start menu. The response from fans ranges from reluctant acceptance to passionate disdain…

Read more at Slash Gear.

Thinking about taking your computer to the repair shop? Be very afraid

Not surprisingly, female customers bear the brunt of the privacy violations.

If you’ve ever worried about the privacy of your sensitive data when seeking a computer or phone repair, a new study suggests you have good reason. It found that privacy violations occurred at least 50 percent of the time, not surprisingly with female customers bearing the brunt.

Researchers at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recovered logs from laptops after receiving overnight repairs from 12 commercial shops. The logs showed that technicians from six of the locations had accessed personal data and that two of those shops also copied data onto a personal device. Devices belonging to females were more likely to be snooped on, and that snooping tended to seek more sensitive data, including both sexually revealing and non-sexual pictures, documents, and financial information.

Blown away

“We were blown away by the results,” Hassan Khan, one of the researchers, said in an interview. Especially concerning, he said, was the copying of data, which happened during repairs for one from a male customer and the other from a female. “We thought they would just look at [the data] at most.”

The amount of snooping may actually have been higher than recorded in the study, which was conducted from October to December 2021. In all, the researchers took the laptops to 16 shops in the greater Ontario region. Logs on devices from two of those visits weren’t recoverable. Two of the repairs were performed on the spot and in the customer’s presence, so the technician had no opportunity to surreptitiously view personal data…

Read more at Ars Technica.

Amazon will pay you in gift cards for recycling old electronics. How it works

Amazon’s Trade-In Program turns your unwanted electronics into gift cards. The service comes in handy with Black Friday and the holiday shopping season in full force.

Black Friday is right around the corner, and if you plan on doing most of your holiday shopping on Amazon, then here’s a gem of a service that will assist you just as well.

Amazon’s own Trade-in Program is a fast and simple way to convert your old, unwanted tech into Amazon gift cards and discounts. Unless you’re saving them as memorabilia — or in hopes that something will spike in extrinsic value — you’re better off trading in those dust-collecting electronics for recycling while earning some money back in return.

It’s also a satisfying, hassle-free way to get rid of old electronics at no cost, just in time for the new gear to arrive…

Read more at ZDNet.

Tax filing websites have been sending users’ financial information to Facebook

The Markup found services including TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block sending sensitive data.

Major tax filing services such as H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer have been quietly transmitting sensitive financial information to Facebook when Americans file their taxes online, The Markup has learned.

The data, sent through widely used code called the Meta Pixel, includes not only information like names and email addresses but often even more detailed information, including data on users’ income, filing status, refund amounts, and dependents’ college scholarship amounts.

The information sent to Facebook can be used by the company to power its advertising algorithms and is gathered regardless of whether the person using the tax filing service has an account on Facebook or other platforms operated by its owner Meta…

Read more at The Verge.

Microsoft warns of Remote Desktop freezes on Windows 11 22H2

Microsoft is investigating and working on fixing Remote Desktop issues on Windows 11 systems after installing the Windows 11 2022 Update.

“After installing Windows 11, version 22H2 (also called Windows 11 2022 Update), the Windows Remote Desktop application might stop responding when connecting via a Remote Desktop gateway or Remote Desktop Connection Broker,” the company explained.

“An example of this connection scenario is when connecting to a Remote Desktop Services collection. RemoteApp and Desktop Connections are ways in which this connection is accomplished.”

Home users are unlikely to experience issues while using the app because it uses a connection process different than the one on enterprise devices, the ones affected by this known issue.

Redmond added that it’s currently working on a resolution, with more details regarding this issue to be provided in a future update.
Workaround available

Until Microsoft provides a fix, affected customers can work around the Remote Desktop app freezing by terminating the process using the Windows Task Manager:

To do that, you have to go through the following procedure…

Read more at Bleeping Computer.

Amazon Alexa is a “colossal failure,” on pace to lose $10 billion this year

Layoffs reportedly hit the Alexa team hard as the company’s biggest money loser.

Amazon is going through the biggest layoffs in the company’s history right now, with a plan to eliminate some 10,000 jobs. One of the areas hit hardest is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant unit, which is apparently falling out of favor at the e-commerce giant. That’s according to a report from Business Insider, which details “the swift downfall of the voice assistant and Amazon’s larger hardware division.”

Alexa has been around for 10 years and has been a trailblazing voice assistant that was copied quite a bit by Google and Apple. Alexa never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream, though, so Alexa doesn’t really make any money. The Alexa division is part of the “Worldwide Digital” group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with “the vast majority” of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year. It sounds like Amazon is tired of burning through all that cash…

Read more at Ars Technica.

Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope you found these articles informative, interesting, fun, and/or helpful. Darcy & TC

Happy Thanksgiving!

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