Tag Archives: Google

Google AdSense Reality Check : How Much Do We Make?

How Much Can A Website Make From Google AdSense?

Find out how much money a website can make from Google AdSense, and learn what you can do to MAXIMISE your earning potential!


How Much Can A Website Make From Google AdSense?

Many people have asked me for advice on how to start up their own websites.

Some want to make some side income during the pandemic. Some asked us to take them on as full-time staff.

Others want to start a new business they can do at home – a big plus during this pandemic.

The reality is that – AdSense does NOT pay well at all. But when I tell them that, they think I’m trying to bullshit them.

I procrastinated over this article for many weeks, because it is very uncomfortable for me to acknowledge the facts as well. But we must face the facts… so let’s take a look…

First, take a look at how many page views we get here at Tech ARP.

From December 2020 until April 2021, we published around 402 articles which drew 1.13 million page views.

That averages out to about 282,500 page views a month, or 2,800 views per article. Not a lot of traffic, but it’s not too shabby.

How much do you think we should get with this kind of traffic? Keep that figure in your head, and then take a look at our estimated Google AdSense earnings.

Do note that these are estimated earnings that may change somewhat – Google deducts a certain amount for “invalidated clicks and impressions”.

Assuming that there are no further deductions – Tech ARP earned only US$553.26 or about RM2,268 over four months – an average of US$138 or RM567 per month.

For context – the minimum wage in Malaysia is US$300 or RM1,200 per month. So whatever Tech ARP earns every month is LESS THAN HALF the minimum wage.

And that’s just our revenue. We have not even deducted the costs of maintaining and upgrading our server and other equipment – testbeds, work computers, etc.

Obviously, the money we make from AdSense does NOT even cover our costs, never mind make a decent living for any ONE person.


Google AdSense Reality Check : Why So Little???

It was not always like this. Google AdSense used to pay much better… back when there was serious competition from other advertising networks.

So why do websites get paid so little these days?

Ad Blockers Everywhere!

Everyone loves free information, and everyone hates advertisements. Not many people understand that advertisements drive the free Internet model.

So many people install ad blockers to get rid of those pesky advertisements. How many? Let’s calculate…

Tech ARP served 1.13 million page views, of which only 308,000 page views displayed any ads!

That means 72.7% of our readers are using ad blockers, which prevent any advertisements from being shown at all.

We receive ZERO revenue from these readers, even if they like what we write and want to support us.

Shift To CPC Advertisements

The industry’s shift from CPM ads to CPC ads is also partly to blame.

CPM (Cost per Thousand Impressions) ads generate revenue per view, so you get paid every time an advertisement appears to your reader.

CPC (Cost per Click) ads only generate revenue when your readers actually CLICK on the link, and get sent to the advertiser’s website.

With the shift to CPC ads, you don’t get paid a cent for the millions of advertisements that are shown to your readers. You only get paid when someone clicks on them.

Let’s calculate how often people actually click on these CPC advertisements.

Out of 493,132 advertisements that Google AdSense showed our readers, there were only 2,191 clicks.

That’s a click-through rate of just 0.444%.

In other words, only 1 out of every 225 readers who did not use an ad blocker clicked on a single advertisement.

Even more sobering – only 1 out of ever 516 pages people read generated a single ad click.

You would think that people would click on an advertisement as a show of support. In reality, it doesn’t work that way.


Don’t Rely On AdSense! This Is What You Should Do…

You still want to create your own website, despite our reality check? I applaud you!

Passion and drive are CRITICAL to creating, maintaining and developing your own website, and I do truly wish you all the best.

The desire to share my knowledge with the world is what keeps me going since I started Tech ARP in 1998 – 23 years ago!

But we must still acknowledge reality, especially as we grow older and have fiscal responsibilities, and a family to support.

I hope these suggestions will help you in your endeavour.

Use AdSense To Cover Costs

Forget about relying on AdSense to generate enough revenue to make a living.

For every US$1000 of income, you probably need 2 million page views. It’s not impossible, but it will take A LOT of work to get there.

I recommend that you only rely on AdSense to cover your costs. Please do NOT quit your day job, if you have one.

In some months, you may get a sudden surge in income. But this is fleeting, so don’t count on it.

Protect Your PR + DA

Build up and protect your Page Rank (PR) and Domain Authority (DA). They are key to ensuring you get high traffic from search engines.

Do NOT sacrifice your PR and DA by committing these mistakes :

  1. Selling dofollow links : this kills your PR and DA by siphoning them to your “sponsor” for a pittance!
  2. Publishing guest posts : free content isn’t really free if they include dofollow links which sap your PR and DA like vampires
  3. Posting press releases : your website will get penalised for “scraped content” if you post lots of press releases, because they are all duplicates of the original content
  4. Adding a PR Newswire widget : you are basically helping them make money off your website, while siphoning your PR and DA for nothing in return.

Page Rank and Domain Authority take years to build up. Trading them even for money is foolish, but sacrificing them for a smile or a thank you is idiotic.

Photo Credit : Kevin Carden Photography

Foster Relationships

Once you start establishing yourself, PR and marketing agencies are going to start sending you press releases and invitations to their events.

These can be great opportunities to get in touch with brands, and develop relationships that could lead to collaborations and other business opportunities.

Brands that understand and value the work you do will line up to support you. Work with them for a win-win relationship.

Don’t Be A Useful Idiot

Some brands and PR / marketing agencies are notorious for making use of the media, and tossing them aside once they cease to be of any use.

Avoid them at all costs. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming their useful idiot.

The truth is – they don’t appreciate your work, and you are nothing more than their KPI farm – a useful idiot to help them achieve their PR or marketing KPI for the quarter.

Just tell them, “No, thank you” and move on. Have some respect for yourself. You are not their free marketing department.

Remember – branded swag and thank you will not feed you or your family. They are ALL getting paid money for their work, and so should you.

Facebook and Instagram swag. Photo credit : @Programmai on Twitter

Ask Your Readers To Support Your Work

This is something that I have recently decided to tried out for myself – asking my readers to support my work.

Whether it’s through Patreon or directly to you, you need to swallow your pride if you want to actually make a decent living writing online.

Ask them to contribute to your work, by making a cash contribution to you, the writer.

This is also the only way to reach the 73% of our readers who use ad blockers. Who knows – it may remind them that ad blocking hurts writers like us?


Please Support My Work!

Support my work through a bank transfer /  PayPal / credit card!

Name : Adrian Wong

Bank Transfer : CIMB 7064555917 (Swift Code : CIBBMYKL)
Credit Card / Paypal : https://paypal.me/techarp

Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.


Recommended Reading

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Support Tech ARP!

If you like our work, please support us by visiting our sponsors, participating in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donating to our fund. Thank you!

Google Site Kit JSON Data Error : How To Fix It?

If you just installed the Google Site Kit, only to find it reporting Data error in Analytics with an invalid JSON response, we have the solution for you!


Google Site Kit JSON Data Error : What Is It?

The Google Site Kit for WordPress is supposed to make it seamless to integrate Google services like Analytics and AdSense into your website.

But you may get this error message, even after you successfully set up Google Site Kit for your WordPress website.

Data error in Analytics

The response is not a valid JSON response.

This is how it looks like after we integrated Google Site Kit into Tech ARP.

As you can see, it’s kind of pointless if Google Site Kit cannot display your Analytics data directly in your WordPress admin page.


Google Site Kit JSON Data Error : How To Fix It?

At first, we thought it might be a Google Site Kit configuration error, but that was not the case.

We tried disabling and reenabling it, reinstalling it, reconfiguring and logging in again, but none of that worked.

iThemes Security Was The Problem

The problem, we finally discovered, was the popular iThemes Security plugin.

But to remove it was not the solution. It was very important in preventing the DDOS attacks that keep hitting Tech ARP.

Here Is The Solution

Finally, we stumbled upon the solution, and it’s ridiculously simple!

  1. Log into your WordPress admin page.
  2. Go to the iThemes configuration page (Security > Settings).
  3. Click on the System Tweaks option.
  4. Look for the Long URL Strings option.
  5. Uncheck the Filter Long URL Strings option.
  6. Click on Save Settings.

That’s it! After you refresh the Site Kit dashboard, you should now see the full stats displayed!


Help Support My Work!

If you would like to support my work, you can do so via bank transfer /  PayPal / credit card.

Name : Adrian Wong

Credit Card / Paypal : https://paypal.me/techarp
Bank Transfer : CIMB 7064555917 (Swift Code : CIBBMYKL)

Thank you in advanced! 


Recommended Reading

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Support Tech ARP!

If you like our work, you can help support us by visiting our sponsors, participating in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donating to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!

Why You Should NOT Reject The Vaccine You’re Offered!

Many people are sharing the fact that you can reject the COVID-19 vaccine you are offered.

Find out why people are demanding the right to reject the vaccine they’re offered, and why you should NOT do that!


Why Are People Demanding To Reject The Vaccine Offered?

Since public vaccinations began, people have been asking – can they reject the COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccination centre, if they discover it’s not the vaccine they want?

Why? Because suddenly they are all medical and geopolitical experts, able to debate the nuances of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, and the impact of these vaccines on East-West supremacy.

Here are some reasons why people are demanding the right to reject the vaccine offered at COVID-19 vaccination centres :

  • I only want the American / Chinese vaccine.
  • The Pfizer / Sinovac / AstraZeneca vaccine killed people.
  • The Pfizer / Sinovac / AstraZeneca vaccine is the best!
  • You can’t trust the Chinese / Americans.
  • I want to support China / America.
  • I hate China / America.
  • Chinese vaccines are made with slave labour.
  • American vaccines are made from aborted foetuses.


You Can Reject The Vaccine You’re Offered

Healthcare professionals can tell you that you can reject anything you want. That includes the right to refuse medical treatment, even if it’s to save your life.

And there are many “helpful netizens” who want to help you fight for your right to do any damn thing you want.

Do u know that u cannot choose the vaccine that will be given to u on appointment day but u hv the right to ask what type of vaccine that is given on that day n u can REJECT (our right) to take the vaccine if its not the one u wanted.

On 19/4/21 I took my auntie for co.19 vac. after taking Q#, registration, screening plus other sops n @the last station b4 signing the indemnity form, I asked the person on duty to confirm the vaccine available that day. It was Pzifer. I asked her whether can reject… YES.

Please spread the news to everyone u know b4 its too late. I think 90% of d population did not know or too scared to exercise their right. Just re-register wait in the Q again for the china vac. I hv spread spread to relatives n friends but not in our group. Remember once injected can’t take out.

These are the folks egging on those standing at the ledge, “Go on! You have the right to jump! Damn those who say no to you! It’s your right! FREEDOM!

But will they take responsibility if you get killed or injured listening to their advice?

Of course, not! It was your right, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, your freedom to do what you please!


Why You Should NOT Reject The Vaccine You’re Offered!

There are no words to describe the disdain I have for those who actively encourage other people to reject the COVID-19 vaccine they are offered.

Let me explain to you why you should not listen to those IDIOTS, who are putting YOUR LIVES at risk with their uninformed opinions.

Fact #1 : The best vaccine you can get is the first vaccine you can complete!

The COVID-19 vaccine is not a cure. Think of it as a training boot camp for your immune system.

The vaccine teaches your immune system how to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and gives it the opportunity to create antibodies against the real virus.

All this takes time – several weeks at least – for your immune system to learn how to do all that from the vaccine.

That is why it is important to take the FIRST VACCINE you are offered, and COMPLETE IT.

Fact #2 : Vaccines prevent the disease, they cannot cure it

Waiting for the vaccine you prefer puts you at risk of contracting COVID-19 before you get vaccinated.

If you reject the vaccine you are offered at the vaccination centre, you get pushed to the back of the queue, and rightly so.

But in the meantime, you are at risk of contracting COVID-19, and potentially dying from it. Even worse, you are risking your family’s lives too!

If you get COVID-19 before you are vaccinated, the vaccine cannot help you. As I explained above, your immune system needs several weeks to learn how to fight off COVID-19 after you are vaccinated.

So do NOT wait. Do NOT push yourself to the back of the queue. Get the FIRST VACCINE you are offered, and COMPLETE IT!

Fact #3 : Google doctors do NOT understand vaccine efficacy

The clever Google doctors who write all those pithy advice on WhatsApp and Facebook do NOT even understand vaccine efficacy.

The real doctors and scientists who do, can only facepalm when they read online “debates” on vaccine efficacy.

Look at the difference between public perception and reality (find out how we calculate here) :

Breakthrough Rate
Perception Reality
95% 5% 0.05%
90% 10% 0.10%
85% 15% 0.15%
80% 20% 0.20%
75% 25% 0.25%

Fact #4 : All approved vaccines protect you against SEVERE disease + DEATH!

What Google doctors also do not understand is that vaccine efficacy isn’t really that important.

I prepared this table to show you how misleading efficacy rates are.

COVID-19 Vaccines Protection Against
Pfizer Comirnaty 95.0% 100% 100%
Moderna mRNA-1273 94.1% 100% 100%
Gamaleya Sputnik V 91.6% 100% 100%
AstraZeneca AZD1222 76% ~ 85% 100% 100%
Novavax Covovax 60 ~ 89% 100% 100%
CanSino Convidecia 65.7% 90.98% 100%
Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV 79% ~ 86% 90% 100%
J&J Janssen COVID-19 66.0% 85% 100%
Sinovac CoronaVac 50.65% 83.7% 100%

The truth is all approved vaccines will protect you against severe disease, and prevent you from dying from COVID-19.

Sure, it would be really nice if you get a vaccine that protects you against even mild COVID-19, but not getting killed by it sounds pretty awesome to me!

Recommended : Why COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy Does NOT Matter!

Fact #5 : Vaccines are in limited supply worldwide

COVID-19 vaccines are in very limited supply, and there does not appear to be enough to vaccinate most countries until well into 2022.

This is a pandemic – a global health crisis. The lives of trillions of people around the world come before your “right to choose”.

Fact #6 : Refusing the vaccine can waste it

Some vaccines – in particular, mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna – require advanced preparation due to their storage requirements.

If you choose to reject your vaccine at the vaccination centre, that dose could end up being discarded!

Are you so entitled that you believe you should have the right to waste a dose of a vaccine that is in limited supply?

You are lucky to be amongst the first offered a COVID-19 vaccine. TAKE THE VACCINE!


Help Support My Work!

If you would like to support my work, you can do so via bank transfer /  PayPal / credit card.

Name : Adrian Wong

Credit Card / Paypal : https://paypal.me/techarp
Bank Transfer : CIMB 7064555917 (Swift Code : CIBBMYKL)

Thank you in advanced! 


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US Tax : How Much YouTube Income Will You Lose?

YouTube will soon withhold up to 30% of income from non-US creators as tax for the United States!

Find out whether you will be double-taxed, and how much income non-US YouTube creators will lose!


YouTube To Tax Non-US Creator Income By Up To 30%!

On 10 March 2021, YouTube creators started getting this email :

We’re reaching out because Google will be required to deduct U.S. taxes from payments to creators outside of the U.S. later this year (as early as June 2021). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be asking you to submit your tax info in AdSense to determine the correct amount of taxes to deduct, if any apply. If your tax info isn’t provided by May 31, 2021, Google may be required to deduct up to 24% of your total earnings worldwide.

Yes, the alert says that up to 24% of your total worldwide earnings may be deducted, but the actual deduction could be as high as 30%.

It all depends on which bracket you fall into :

Those Who Submit US Tax Info

  • Foreign creators : 24% to 30% withholding tax, unless your country has a tax treaty with the US.
  • US creators : 0% withholding tax, because they have to pay taxes on their total income

Those Who Do NOT Submit US Tax Info

  • Business account (Foreign) : 30% withholding tax of US earnings
  • Business account (US Resident) : 24% of total worldwide earnings
  • Individual account (Foreign + US) : 24% of total worldwide earnings

This change only impacts the earnings of non-US YouTube creators, since US creators are already paying taxes on their income.


Why Are Non-US Residents Getting Taxed On US Income?

You may not be a US citizen or resident, but the US government requires income generated in the US to be taxed.

Since they cannot tax your income like they would an actual US resident, they require companies to withhold a portion of your US income as tax.

The general idea is that as long as you make money in the US, or from US residents, you must pay tax on that income.


Does This Mean Non-US Residents Will Be Double-Taxed?

Check the latest IRS list of countries with income tax treaties with the United States.

Unless your country has a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with the United States, yes, you will end up getting double taxed – by the US government and your own government.

Since YouTube will withhold part of your income, the double taxation impact is somewhat lessened because you will only pay your country’s income tax on what’s left over.

That is scant consolation because you are still getting double-taxed, and will end up with considerably less income.


How Much Tax Will Non-US YouTube Creators Have To Pay?

How much income non-US YouTube creators will lose depend on four factors :

  • whether they file their US tax info,
  • whether their country has a double tax treaty with the US,
  • whether they are an individual or a company, and
  • how much income they get from US viewers

YouTube shared a hypothetical example, but it is overly optimistic – assuming only 10% US traffic.

So we came up with our own scenarios of 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% US traffic. For simplicity, we eliminated ”discounts” eligible to countries with US tax treaties.

This table we created shows the maximum US withholding tax you have to pay, with a monthly YouTube income of US$1,000.

Tax Deducted From
$1000 Income
% of US Traffic
25% 50% 75% 100%
Did not submit tax info
(24% worldwide)
$240 $240 $240 $240
Individual with Tax Info
(24% US income)
$60 $120 $180 $240
Business with Tax Info
(30% US income)
$75 $150 $225 $300

And this table shows how much income you will receive, after deducting the US tax, from a YouTube income of US$1,000.

Income Per $1,000
After Tax Deduction
% of US Traffic
25% 50% 75% 100%
Did not submit tax info
(24% worldwide)
$760 $760 $760 $760
Individual with Tax Info
(24% US income)
$940 $880 $820 $760
Business with Tax Info
(30% US income)
$925 $850 $775 $700

There is no doubt that this is a massive tax that is going to cut deeply into the income of every non-US YouTube channel, because it is a non-progressive flat tax, with no deductions.


What Can You Do About This US Tax By YouTube?

This withholding tax is going to irk a lot of YouTubers who have never stepped foot in the US, or received any benefit from the US government.

More so for non-US creators in countries without a double tax treaty with the US, because they would get double-taxed.

YouTube creators may be incentivised to target non-US viewers by producing more localised content, but ultimately, US traffic still pays the best. So we don’t see shifting focus away from US viewers as a good strategy.

Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do but bite down and bear the pain, on top of what has already been a terrible 2020 and 2021.

But if you are ever in the US and get some shit about being a foreigner, I suppose you can send them this smackdown, “I have every right to be here! I pay taxes too!“.


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If you like our work, you can help support us by visiting our sponsors, participating in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donating to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!

Google Play Music Is Dead : How To Download Your Music?

Google Play Music is officially dead across the world, and you have until December 2020 to migrate your music library and playlists to YouTube Music.

Find out how to download your music library and playlists from Google Play Music before they are deleted forever!


Google Play Music Is Dead : Whaaaaat???

On 4 April 2020, Google dropped the bombshell – they announced that they were replacing Google Play Music play with YouTube Music by December 2020.

They would kill off Google Play Music starting September 2020 in New Zealand and South Africa, and October 2020 for the rest of the world.

Users will no longer be allowed to stream from, or use the Google Play Music app from that point onwards. They will only be allowed to transfer their music libraries to YouTube Music.

Even that migration offer is limited to December 2020, after which the Google Play Music libraries will be deleted and will no longer be available to download or transfer to YouTube Music.


Google Play Music Is Dead : Download Your Music Now!

Google offers the option to migrate your Google Play Music libraries and playlists to YouTube Music, but you may not want to do that for these reasons :

  • 128 kbps quality limit for free subscriptions
  • you can’t upload your own music through the app, only using an Internet browser
  • offline playback of your own music requires you to upload and then download the same music

Before deciding what to do next, the first thing you should do is download your music library.

You have until the end of December 2020 to download your music, so do it now!

  1. Open Google Play Music.
  2. Tap on Manage Your Data.
  3. Tap on Download your music library.

  1. Leave Google Play Music checked.
  2. Select to export once.
  3. Select the more common .zip file format, or the .tgz alternative
  4. Select the maximum file size you prefer – 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, 10 GB or 50 GB.
    Google will split your files into multiple compressed files based on the maximum size you selected.
    Newer operating systems (Windows 10, macOS) can support files larger than 4 GB.

  1. Tap Create export and let Google archive and compress your music library.
  2. You will receive an email with a download link when it’s done.


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Google Cloud Confidential VM With 2nd Gen AMD EPYC!

Google recently introduced Confidential Computing, with Confidential VM as the first product, and it’s powered by 2nd Gen AMD EPYC!

Here’s an overview of Confidential Computing and Confidential VM, and how they leverage the 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processor!


Google Cloud Confidential Computing : What Is It?

Google Cloud encrypts customer data while it’s “at-rest” and “in-transit“. But that data must be decrypted because it can be processed.

Confidential Computing addresses that problem by encrypting data in-use – while it’s being processed. This ensures that data is kept encrypted while in memory and outside the CPU.


Google Cloud Confidential VM, Powered By 2nd Gen AMD EPYC

The first product that Google is unveiling under its Confidential Computing portfolio is Confidential VM, now in beta.

Confidential VM basically adds memory encryption to the existing suite of isolation and sandboxing techniques Google Cloud uses to keep their virtual machines secure and isolated.

This will help customers, especially those in regulated industries, to better protect sensitive data by further isolating their workloads in the cloud.

Google Cloud Confidential VM : Key Features

Powered By 2nd Gen AMD EPYC

Google Cloud Confidential VM runs on N2D series virtual machines powered by the 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors.

It leverages the Secure Encrypted Virtualisation (SEV) feature in 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors to keep VM memory encrypted with a dedicated per-VM instance key.

These keys are generated and managed by the AMD Secure Processor inside the EPYC processor, during VM creation and reside only inside the VM – making them inaccessible to Google, or any other virtual machines running on the host.

Your data will stay encrypted while it’s being used, indexed, queried, or trained on. Encryption keys are generated in hardware, per virtual machine and are not exportable.

Confidential VM Performance

Google Cloud worked together with the AMD Cloud Solution team to minimise the performance impact of memory encryption on workloads.

They added support for new OSS drivers (name and gvnic) to handle storage traffic and network traffic with higher throughput than older protocols, thus ensuring that Confidential VM will perform almost as fast as non-confidential VM.

Easy Transition

According to Google, transitioning to Confidential VM is easy – all Google Cloud Platform (GCP) workloads can readily run as a Confidential VM whenever you want to.

Available OS Images

In addition to the hardware-based inline memory encryption, Google built Confidential VM on top of Shielded VM, to harden your OS image and verify the integrity of your firmware, kernel binaries and drivers.

Google currently offers images of Ubuntu v18.094, Ubuntu 20.04, Container Optimized OS (COS v81), and RHEL 8.2.

They are currently working with CentOS, Debian and other distributors to offer additional OS images for Confidential VM.


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TikTok Caught Spying What We Type In Other Apps… TWICE!

TikTok was caught spying on what we type in other apps, not once, but TWICE… so far.

Find out what’s going on, and what you should do about it!


TikTok : What Is It?

TikTok is a Chinese social networking service built around short video clips. Developed and owned by ByteDance which is based in Beijing, it is very popular amongst young people and even children.

This has led to numerous controversies as TikTok proved slow or reluctant to remove dangerous or racist videos :


TikTok Caught Spying What We Type In Other Apps… TWICE!

Beyond their obvious desire to grow their service at the expense of the danger to real people, there have been cybersecurity and privacy concerns about TikTok.

In a space of just four months, TikTok has been caught spying on what we type in OTHER APPS… not once, but TWICE. Take a look at this video expose…

TikTok Caught Spying On What We Type : First Time

Let’s start in March 2020, when Talal Has Bakry and Tommy Mysk exposed how they found that TikTok was spying on what we typed in other apps through the pasteboard / clipboard.

In the video above, you can see how TikTok immediately asked to read all text stored in the pasteboard, whenever it is launched.

The pasteboard contains everything you copied earlier – messages from other people, quotes from an article, or far more sensitive stuff like your password or account number.

And because of Apple’s universal clipboard feature, this means everything you copy on your Mac or iPad will be available on your iPhone, and therefore TikTok.

To be clear, TikTok was just one of the many apps that they found to be spying on what we type. Here were the apps they confirmed were spying on the pasteboard / clipboard.

News Games Social Other
ABC News
Al Jazeera English
CBS News
Fox News
News Break
New York Times
itv Nachrichten
Russia Today
Stern Nachrichten
The Economist
The Huffington Post
The Wall Street Journal
8 Ball Pool
Block Puzzle
Classic Bejeweled
Classic Bejeweled HD
Flip The Gun
Fruit Ninja
Letter Soup
Love Nikki
My Emma
Plants vs. Zombies Heroes
Pooking – Billiards City
PUBG Mobile
Tomb of the Mask
Tomb of the Mask: Color
Total Party Kill
10% Happier: Meditation
5-0 Radio Police Scanner
AliExpress Shopping
Bed Bath & Beyond
Hotel Tonight
Pigment – Adult Coloring Book
Recolor Coloring Book to Color
Sky Ticket
The Weather Network

At that time, TikTok told Zak Doffman that it was Google Ads that was snooping into the pasteboard / clipboard.

The clipboard access issues showed up due to third-party SDKs, in our case an older version Google Ads SDK. We are in the processes of updating so that the third-party SDK will no longer have access.

They claimed it was because TikTok was using an older Google Ads SDK, which they have since replaced with a newer version.

TikTok Caught Spying On What We Type : Second Time

BFast forward to June, and the release of iOS 14 beta. The new clipboard warning feature in iOS 14 appears to have caught TikTok spying on the pasteboard / clipboard once again.

In the dramatic video shared by Jeremy Burge – the 1:35 point in our video above – he shows TikTok grabbing the contents of his iPhone’s clipboard every 1-3 keystrokes, as he typed in Instagram!

This is even more egregious than the first time they spied on the pasteboard / clipboard! Instead of just looking at what you copied into the clipboard earlier, TikTok is literally reading what you are typing in a different app!

TikTok now claims that this issue was “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behaviour“, and that they have already submitted an updated app without this “anti-spam feature“.


TikTok Caught Spying : What Should YOU Do?

If you are not a frequent TikTok user, the answer is simple – UNINSTALL TikTok.

If you really like TikTok, you should immediately update to the latest version, which ByteDance claims will no longer read your clipboard because it has both an updated Google Ads SDK, as well as their anti-spam feature removed.

Either way, if you are concerned about privacy issues with TikTok, you should write to privacy@tiktok.com and express your deep concerns about not letting them read what you are typing, whether it is in their app or other apps.


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Android Wallpaper Malware Explained + Solved!

Ice Universe shared a really interesting problem earlier today – a wallpaper that would set certain Android smartphones into a boot loop. Literally wallpaper malware!

Find out what this wallpaper malware is all about, and how to prevent it from bricking your Android smartphone!


Android Wallpaper Malware Explained + Solved Video

For a quick run-down, we prepared this video that explains what the wallpaper does, and how to solve the problem.


Android Wallpaper Malware : What Is It?

The wallpaper was first shared by Ice Universe whose friend was affected by it. As you can see, there is really nothing remarkable about it.

If you set it as a wallpaper on a vulnerable Android smartphone, it will force the device to go into a boot loop.

Once that happens, there is nothing more you can do, except to factory reset your smartphonedestroying all of its data.


Android Wallpaper Malware : The Cause

Ice Universe paved the way to discovering the cause when he noted that the wallpaper’s colour seemed to changed when he uploaded it to Weibo.

So we looked into the metadata of the wallpaper, and discovered that it has a specific ICC colour profile for Google Skia – E3CADAB7BD3DE5E3436874D2A9DEE126

That ICC colour profile appears to trip the Google Skia graphics engine for certain Android devices, causing them to reboot.

Technically, com.android.systemui.glwallpaper.ImageProcessHelper crashes from an ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException while trying to load the wallpaper with the embedded colour profile.

And because the wallpaper loads when Android UI loads, it triggers another reboot. Your smartphone is now stuck in a boot loop – it will keep rebooting on loading the wallpaper.


Android Wallpaper Malware : The Solution

The solution is surprisingly simple – remove the ICC colour profile. You can do that by using a photo editor (like Photoshop) and simply saving the wallpaper without embedding the colour profile.

Alternatively, you can use an EXIF remover app or software to strip the wallpaper’s metadata. That should strip its colour profile as well. Just make sure you check before you load it into your phone!

The only problem is that stripping the colour profile makes the wallpaper look less vivid.

But the best thing to do is really just avoid the wallpaper altogether. Don’t even download it.

Google really needs to look into how such a bad colour profile in a picture can trip Google Skia and force the phone into a boot loop.

We should consider this a shot across the bow. Not only should we question whether we really “need” that nice wallpaper, we should be more proactive and :

  • offload our data from our smartphones on a regular basis
  • keep constant backups of our smartphone data
  • consider recording our photos and videos to a microSD card

This way, even if another wallpaper or picture malware comes along and bricks your phone, you won’t lose all of your data.


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TNB During MCO : No Electricity Bill? Here’s How To Pay!

TNB employees will no longer read the meter or issue any electricity bill during the COVID-19 MCO, but you still need to pay your electricity bill!

Find out how much you need to pay TNB for your electricity usage during the COVID-19 MCO!


TNB Meter Reading + Bill Rendering : Stopped During MCO!

After the Movement Control Order (MCO) started, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) announced that they would stop these operations from 20 March 2020 until further notice :

  • on-premise meter reading, and
  • on-premise rendering of electricity bill

They also announced that :

  • you will be issued an estimated bill, based on your previous month’s consumption.
  • your bill will be adjusted only when they resume meter reading, after the MCO period ends.
  • during the MCO, TNB will not deliver any printed electricity bill to your premise.

You still need to pay your TNB electricity bill during the MCO / CMCO. Just because you don’t get your bill, doesn’t mean you get to stop paying.


Won’t TNB Resume Meter Reading + Bill Rendering During CMCO?

On 13 May 2020, TNB announced that they are resuming meter reading and bill rendering on a staggered basis, and only in green zone states :

  • Perlis
  • Penang
  • Kedah
  • Perak (except Sri Manjung)
  • Kelantan

That basically means they still won’t perform meter reading for most of the country during the Conditional MCO period.


How To Pay Your TNB Bill During MCO / CMCO?

There are three ways to handle your TNB electricity bill during the MCO / CMCO.

Option 1 : Pay The Estimated Bill

TNB mentioned that you will be issued an estimated bill, based on your last bill. If your last bill was RM 100, then your estimated bill during the MCO will be RM 100.

All you have to do is continue paying based on your last bill every month, as long as the Movement Control Order is in effect.

Just pay online through JomPAY using your online banking account.

Option 2 : Use TNB Express Payment

The easiest way to check your current bill and make payment is through myTNB.

Just key in your 12-digit TNB account number, and you will receive the current amount due.

You can pay up to RM 250 using a credit or debit card through Express Payment by clicking Next.

If you wish to pay more than RM 250 though, you will need to first register and log into myTNB.

Alternatively, you can pay through JomPAY using your online banking account.

Option 3 : Use myTNB App

The third option is to install and use the myTNB app, which is available as a free download on both Google Play Store and App Store :


Follow these steps to register and check your current TNB bill on the myTNB app :


COVID-19 : How To Keep Safe!

Here are a few simple steps to stay safe from COVID-19 :

Recommended : Soap vs Sanitiser : Which Works Better Against COVID-19?
Recommended : Surgical Mask : How To CORRECTLY Wear + Remove!
Recommended : COVID-19 Food Safety : Fruits, Vegetables, Takeouts


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AnTuTu : Why They Got Banned From Google Play Store!

If you are wondering why you can no longer find AnTuTu apps on the Google Play Store, that’s because they have been banned and removed!

And guess what got AnTuTu apps banned? Cheetah Mobile…


Cheetah Mobile : An Insidious Developer According To Google

On 20 February 2020, Google posted that they removed nearly 600 apps from the Google Play Store, banning many of their developers for “disruptive ads” and “ad fraud”.

One of those developers – notorious Chinese app developer, Cheetah Mobile, with a history of buying over popular apps to load them with spyware and malicious advertisements.


AnTuTu : Banned From Google Play Store!

And now, it appears that AnTuTu have also been affected by the Google ban hammer, with these apps removed :

  • AnTuTu Benchmark
  • AnTuTu 3DBench
  • AITuTu

Why? It appears those AnTuTu apps were banned, because AnTuTu found to be associated with Cheetah Mobile :

  • Cheetah Mobile CEO Fu Sheng is listed as the Chairman of Beijing AnTuTu Technology Co. Ltd
  • The AnTuTu privacy policy link used the Cheetah Mobile (cmcm.com) domain.


AnTuTu Shares Their Point Of View

AnTuTu clarified the issue in their statement to Android Police that :

  • Cheetah Mobile was merely an investor and shareholder, but they remain independent.
  • They purchased and used the legal services from Cheetah Mobile, so the privacy policy link used their domain.
  • They are now working to change their “legal supplier”.
  • Listing Fu Sheng as the Chairman of Beijing AnTuTu Technology Co. Ltd was a requirement of “the investors”.
  • They have already asked Cheetah Mobile to solve these problems.

AnTuTu apps are still available as APK downloads on their website, but installing them outside of Google Play is not without risks, so caveat emptor!


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WizardOpium Exploit : Update Google Chrome ASAP!

Kaspersky recently discovered a Google Chrome zero day exploit that was being used in Operation WizardOpium.

Here are the full details, but the TLDR message is – make sure you update Google Chrome ASAP!


The WizardOpium Exploit : What Is It?

Kaspersky’s automated Exploit Prevention subsystem detected the exploit, which they dubbed WizardOpium. It used a zero day vulnerability that had hitherto not known to developers.


The WizardOpium Exploit : How Does It Work?

The attacks, which Kaspersky called Operation OpiumWizard, began with an infiltration at a Korean news website, where attackers managed to inject malicious code.

It loads a script from a third-party site that first checks if the system is suitable for infection – they were interested only in Chrome for Windows, not older than version 65.

If the operating system and browser requirements are met, the script downloads the WizardOpium exploit piece by piece, reassembles and decrypts it.

The script then runs another check on the version of Google Chrome, working exclusively with Chrome 76 or 77.

After verifying that it has the right Chrome version, the script then leverages the use-after-free vulnerability CVE-2019-13720, based on the improper use of system memory.

By manipulating the system memory, the exploit gains permission to read and write data, which it immediately uses to download, decrypt and run the malware package.


The WizardOpium Exploit : Solution

Kaspersky cybersecurity products will detect the exploit, and identify it as Exploit.Win32.Generic.

On discovering it, they reported it to Google with the identifier CVE-2019-13720.

Google fixed the bug in Chrome 78.0.3904.87 for Windows, macOS and Linux. Just make sure you update to that version, or newer… ASAP!

To make sure you have the update, follow these steps :

  1. Click on the 3 vertical dots at the upper right corner of Chrome (Customise and control Google Chrome)
  2. Select Help > About Google Chrome.
  3. In the About Chrome page, it should say that you have Version 78.0.3904.87 or higher
  4. If not, Chrome will automatically start looking for, and installing the latest update
  5. Click Relaunch to restart Chrome.


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HUAWEI Phone Clone : Foolproof Way To Bypass Trump Ban?

A new video has emerged, showing how HUAWEI Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro users can use HUAWEI Phone Clone to get access to apps without Google Play.

Let’s check it out and find out if HUAWEI Phone Clone is a foolproof way to bypass the Trump ban!

Updated @ 2019-10-14 : Added our analysis on the effectiveness of HUAWEI Phone Clone in bypassing the Trump ban.

Originally posted @ 2019-10-09


HUAWEI Phone Clone : Foolproof Way To Bypass Trump Ban?

The HUAWEI Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will go on sale very soon. But people are wondering – what can you install on the HUAWEI Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro smartphones?

This video that was shared with us shows how HUAWEI Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro users can bypass the Trump ban by simply using the HUAWEI Phone Clone app that is pre-installed in HUAWEI smartphones.

Here is a summary of what the video (which is in Mandarin, with English subtitles) reveals :

  • The HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro does not come with any Google apps pre-installed.
  • HUAWEI Phone Clone is then used to clone all data, including apps, from your old Android smartphone to the new Mate 30.
  • The process is simple, using a QR code to link and sync the two smartphones.
  • After the cloning process is complete, the HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro will have all of the data and apps from your old smartphone… including Google apps.
  • According to the host, Mr. Gadget, this is possible because apps that are not based on Google Mobile Services (GMS) are not affected by the Trump ban.
  • That means important apps like WhatsApp, Waze, Facebook, Instagram and PUBG Mobile (okay, okay… it’s a game, not an “important app”… LOL!) are not affected by the Trump ban.
  • The YouTube app cannot be installed or migrated since it runs on Google Mobile Services. However, you can still stream YouTube videos through any browser.
  • Similarly, the Gmail app cannot be installed or migrated. However, you can use the HUAWEI Mail app to access emails from any Gmail account.
  • Mr. Gadget also recommends installing apps through the Aptoide App Store, as an alternative to Google Play Store (which is not available)

Recommended : The HUAWEI 7680 FPS + ISO 25600 Video Showcase!


Effectiveness Of The HUAWEI Phone Clone Method

Now, the HUAWEI Phone Clone method is not foolproof.

It allows you to “bypass” the Trump ban by essentially porting over apps that do NOT rely on Google Mobile Services (GMS) to your Mate 30Mate 30 Pro smartphone.

But if the app requires GMS (like Gmail or YouTube), you will need to use an alternative app or use the web browser instead. For example :

  • switch from the Gmail app to the HUAWEI Mail app
  • use a web browser to view YouTube videos, instead of the YouTube app

This Phone Clone method is also a one-time deal. It lets you migrate the apps (and your data) over from an existing Android smartphone.

But if you ever need to reinstall the app, you will need to do it through the Aptoide App Store, or some other third-party App Store… because Google Play Store is not available.

Similarly, you will need to use the Aptoide app to update your apps, but this works the same way as Google Play Store.

The HUAWEI Phone Clone method is a good option for those with an existing smartphone to migrate most of their apps to the Mate 30Mate 30 Pro.

But it doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to access Google Play Store, or apps that use GMS. The good news though is that Trump may soon come to a trade agreement with China, and we could see Google services restored to the Mate 30Mate 30 Pro.

Recommended : HUAWEI Mate 30 + Mate 30 Pro Colour Comparison!


What Apps Can HUAWEI Phone Clone Migrate?

Mr. Gadget provided a list of apps that HUAWEI Phone Clone will successfully migrate over to the HUAWEI Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro, which we have summarised in this table :

Categories Apps
Social Media Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Telegram, Tinder, Snapchat
Chat WeChat, WhatsApp
Navigation Waze, Google Maps
Banking Maybank, CIMB Clicks, Hong Leong, Public Bank, AmOnline, OCBC Bank, HSBC
Entertainment Spotify, iflix, dimsum, JOOX, Viu
Photo Editing VSCO, Snapseed, Lightroom, Photo360, Unfold, VUE, Meitu, BeautyCam
Shopping Zalora, Lazada, Taobao, Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, Shopee, Reebonz
Travel Agoda, Trivago, Kayak, Expedia, Klook, Booking.com
Games PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends
E-Wallet Touch ‘n Go, GrabPay, Boost
Food Fave, HappyFresh, HonestBee, Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC, Tealive, Pizza Hut, eating, FoodPanda


Where Can I Find HUAWEI Phone Clone?

HUAWEI Phone Clone is pre-installed in HUAWEI smartphones. You can also download and install it for non-HUAWEI smartphones, as well as Apple iPhones, at these locations :


The HUAWEI Mate 30 + Mate 30 Pro

Everyone knows that the HUAWEI Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro are the first smartphones to be “blocked” by the Trump ban. This is a real shame because they offer truly great features at great price points.

HUAWEI Mate 30 Key Features

  • HUAWEI Kirin 990 mobile platform with Big-Core + Tiny-Core NPU
  • EMUI 10 operating system
  • Leica SuperSensing Triple Camera System that consists of :
    – 40 MP SuperSensing Camera
    – 16 MP Ultra Wide-Angle Camera
    – 8 MP Telephoto Camera with 3X optical zoom
  • 4,200 mAh battery with 40W wired charging and 27W wireless charging

HUAWEI Mate 30 Pro Key Features

  • HUAWEI Horizon Display which curves at an angle of 88 degrees to maximise display area
  • HUAWEI Kirin 990 mobile platform with Big-Core + Tiny-Core NPU
  • EMUI 10 operating system
  • Leica SuperSensing Quad Camera System that consists of :
    – 40 MP Cine Camera
    – 40 MP SuperSensing Camera
    – 8 MP Telephoto Camera with 3X optical zoom
    – 3D Depth Sensing Camera
  • 4,500 mAh battery with 40W wired charging and 27W wireless charging


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CONFIRMED : HUAWEI Licence Extended By 90 Days!

HUAWEI gets another reprieve from the Trump Administration, with its temporary general licence extended by another 90 days!

Here is the full story, and what it means for HUAWEI and their business partners in the US and elsewhere!


The First HUAWEI Temporary General Licence

Just days of adding HUAWEI to the Entity List of US national security threats, the Trump Administration issues HUAWEI a 90-day temporary licence.

This partially restored their access to US technology and suppliers. It basically allows them to service and maintain their current networks and smartphones.

Establishing new networks or create new products, using technologies with more than 25% US content or origin, would require companies to apply for special licences from the US Commerce Department.


HUAWEI Licence Extended By 90 Days!

HUAWEI’s first temporary general licence was slated to expire today, on 19 August 2019.

But Trump had been signalling that he was open to extending HUAWEI’s licence, after he delayed new tariffs on Chinese goods until 15 December.

That was confirmed today when the US Commerce Department announced that it was extending the temporary general licence for HUAWEI, by another 90 days.

“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Simultaneously, we are constantly working at the Department to ensure that any exports to Huawei and its affiliates do not violate the terms of the Entity Listing or Temporary General License.”

This means HUAWEI will be able to continue supporting existing networks and devices up till 19 November 2019.


Can HUAWEI Can Launch New Devices With Licence Extension?

With the HUAWEI Mate 30 smartphones slated for launch very soon, this is a very important question – can HUAWEI launch new devices based on Android and its ecosystem?

The temporary general licence that was specifically issued to HUAWEI does not permit the use of US technologies (of more than 25% origin or content) in new HUAWEI devices without a special licence.

However, it buys HUAWEI and its business partners time to request special licences to sell their products or services to HUAWEI.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that he received more than 50 applications last month, with more coming in.

It is actually very important for many US companies to continue to do business with HUAWEI, who spent some $11 billion on US products and services in 2018.


More HUAWEI Affiliates Added To Entity List

It was not all good news though. The US Commerce Department also announced that it was adding 46 additional HUAWEI affiliates to the Entity List, due to national security concerns.


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The HUAWEI Trump Ban – Everything You Need To Know! 5.5

Rumours have been fast spreading on instant messengers and social media about the HUAWEI Trump ban, leading to a ton of misconceptions, misunderstandings and outright BS.

In this article, we will explain the HUAWEI Trump ban, and what it means to HUAWEI and to you, the customer.


The HUAWEI Trump Ban Timeline Updated!

The US government’s distrust of HUAWEI goes back many years, and only grew as HUAWEI became one of China’s biggest and arguably, most visible global companies with over $100 billion in revenue and over 180,000 employees worldwide.

Circa 2010 : US intelligence officers began claiming that HUAWEI was serving as a proxy for the Chinese government

2011 : The US government squelched HUAWEI’s attempt to acquire 3Leaf Systems, a US company that offers server virtualisation solutions.

2012-10-08 : The US House Intelligence Committee released a report about its investigations into HUAWEI and ZTE, which also questioned their dealings with Iran.

2018-08-13 : US President Trump banned the use of HUAWEI and ZTE products by US government agencies.

2018-12-01 : Meng Wanzhou, HUAWEI’s global chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, is arrested by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States.

Photo Credit : Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press / PA Images

Early 2019 : The Trump government begins earnestly pressuring allies to stop using HUAWEI telecommunications equipment, particularly in building new 5G networks.

2019-05-10 : The US-Chinese trade talks failed, and President Trump immediately raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

2019-05-15 : President Trump signed an executive order barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment from sources that are “national security threats”. The US Commerce Department also added HUAWEI to the Entity List of US national security threats.

2019-05-16 : ARM issued a memo instructing their employees to suspend business with HUAWEI. Read our full report and analysis.

2019-05-19 : Google announced that it would suspend business with HUAWEI to comply with US law.

2019-05-20 : Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Micron and Western Digital announce that they will stop supplying HUAWEI. German chipmaker Infineon also stopped some shipments.

2019-05-20 : The Bureau of Industry and Security of the US Commerce Department announced a 90-day temporary licence to HUAWEI, partially restoring their access to US technology and suppliers.

2019-05-21 : FedEx in Singapore and Hong Kong withheld two HUAWEI packages for “delivery exception“. Read our full report and analysis.

2019-05-23 : Two packages from Japan bound for HUAWEI in China were diverted to the FedEx HQ in the United Stataes instead. Read our full report and analysis.

2019-05-25 : The SD Association removed HUAWEI as a member, but the NM Card gives an extra workaround. Read our full report.

2019-05-26 : The WiFi Alliance temporarily suspends HUAWEI, but this only affects future Wi-Fi standards. Read our full report and analysis.

2019-05-29 : HUAWEI announced a legal challenge on the constitutionality of the HUAWEI Trump ban, but it will be too late to help them. However, China has a Trump card!

2019-05-29 : Just as quietly as HUAWEI was removed as members of the the WiFi Alliance, the SD Association and the Bluetooth SIG, its membership was restored!

Even the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro was put back on the Android Q beta programme! Read our full report and analysis!

2019-05-29 : Malaysian Prime Minister (and the world’s OLDEST prime minister) Dr. Mahathir Mohammad said that Malaysia has no intention on shunning HUAWEI, and that they will “try to make use of their technology as much as possible“.

2019-05-29 : The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) told its editors to stop using HUAWEI scientists and engineers to review scientific papers for fear of “severe legal implications”.

2019-06-02 : The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reversed their decision to ban HUAWEI scientists and engineers from reviewing scientific papers! Read our full report and analysis!

2019-06-12 : HUAWEI confirmed that they were postponing the launch of their refreshed MateBook laptop indefinitely, because they are unable to purchase the necessary components from US-based companies like Intel.

China’s Global Times reports that HUAWEI will instead launch a different laptop in July that will run Windows 10 on an ARM-based processor. Read our full report and analysis!

2019-06-14 : HONOR is moving ahead with the sale of the HONOR 20 smartphones, starting 21 June 2019. Read our full report!

At the same time, Broadcom slashed its annual revenue outlook by a whopping $2 billion, as a result of the HUAWEI Trump ban. Broadcom shares fell 6% as a result.

2019-06-17 : Microsoft starts selling HUAWEI MateBook laptops again, after removing them from the Microsoft Store when HUAWEI was added to the Entity List.

In their statement, they stated that “[Microsoft] will continue to respond to the many business, technical and regulatory complexities stemming from the recent addition of Huawei to the US Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations Entity List”

2019-06-21 : FedEx refused to deliver a HUAWEI P30 Pro smartphone to a US resident, citing the HUAWEI Trump ban. Read our full report and analysis!

2019-06-22 : FedEx reversed their stance, now claiming that it was “an operational error“. Read our full report and analysis!

2019-06-23 : HUAWEI calls the repeated delivery mistakes by FedEx “a vendetta“. Read our full report!

2019-06-24 : Despite the HUAWEI Trump ban, HONOR reported that they sold their first batch of HONOR 20 smartphones in 3 hours in Malaysia, with over a million units in China in two weeks. Read our full report!

2019-06-25 : FedEx sued the Trump Administration to block trade restrictions (like the HUAWEI ban) that force it to act as enforcement agents. UPS declined to join the FedEx lawsuit.

2019-06-29 : President Trump stunned everyone by reversing the HUAWEI ban, stating that it was “no great national emergency”; and agreeing not to introduce more tariffs… all without a trade agreement with China. Read our full report and analysis!

2019-07-14 : Reuters reported that the US Commerce Department could start approving licences for US companies to start selling again to HUAWEI in a matter of weeks.

2019-07-22 : Impatient with the US Commerce Department, the CEOs of Google, Cisco, Intel, Broadcom, Micron and Western Digital pressured Donald Trump to force the US Commerce Department to issue licenses allowing them to sell to HUAWEI once again. Read our full report and analysis!

2019-08-19 : The US Commerce Department extended HUAWEI’s temporary general licence by a further 90 days. They also added 46 more HUAWEI affiliates to the Entity List. Read our full report and analysis!


Who Does The HUAWEI Trump Ban Affect?

The HUAWEI Trump ban covers both HUAWEI and its sub-brand, HONOR. As it so happens, HONOR is launching their HONOR 20 smartphone today.

Together with the success of their P30 and P30 Pro smartphones, the ban could not come at a worst time.


What Exactly Does The HUAWEI Trump Ban Do?

Many pundits wrongly quoted Trump’s executive order as the basis for the Google and other US companies suspending supplies to HUAWEI. That is only partly true.

His executive order does not mention HUAWEI at all. In fact, it actually applies to every company listed in the US Entity List, which is over 270 pages long!

It basically prohibits “any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in, or use of any information and communications technology or service (transaction)” by “any person… subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” to “persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary“.

It was really the US Commerce Department’s action of adding HUAWEI (and its 68 affiliates) to the Entity List that forced US companies to stop doing business with HUAWEI.

Even without Trump’s executive order, US companies are generally prohibited from doing business with companies listed in the Entity List. They will have to apply for a licence to export products to those entities.


The HUAWEI Trump Ban Effects


Google rescinded HUAWEI’s Android licence, as well as access to Google Play services and the Play Store. But what does that mean?

  • Current HUAWEI and HONOR devices that run on Android and were launched on, or before 16 May 2019 will continue to have access to Google Play services, and the Google Play Store..
  • HUAWEI and HONOR devices launched from 17 May 2019 onwards will not have access to Android, Google Play services, or Google Play Store.

  • HUAWEI and HONOR will continue to receive Android software updates and patches until 19 August 2019.

In other words, if you own a HUAWEI or HONOR smartphone that was launched before 16 May 2019, you have nothing to worry about… at least until August 2019.


The suspension of business between ARM and HUAWEI has no real effect in the short to medium-term, because HUAWEI can continue to manufacture existing and completed designs.

Read our full report : The HUAWEI ARM Business Suspension – How Bad Is This?

Processor Suppliers : Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom

HUAWEI has long worked on creating their own mobile SoCs, like their flagship-class Kirin 970 and Kirin 980. They have been pretty successful in this regard – all of their top smartphones run on Kirin processors.

They do not have a replacement for the Intel processors that power their MateBook laptops. However, they have apparently prepared for this eventuality by stockpiling 3 months worth of chips.

Memory Suppliers : Micron, Infineon

Fortunately for HUAWEI, most DRAM manufacturers are not US companies, or subject to US law. Whereas Micron (a US company) can no longer supply HUAWEI with memory chips, there are other DRAM companies that can make up the shortfall… including their competitor, Samsung.

Tech Organisations : WiFi, Bluetooth, SD New!

Initially, HUAWEI was quietly but unceremoniously booted from the Wi-Fi Alliance, the Bluetooth SIG and the SD Association. But two weeks later, their memberships were quietly restored. Read our full reports :

Perplexingly, the IEEE announced and retracted their ban on HUAWEI scientists and engineers serving as peer reviewers and editors in just four days.

Read our full report : The IEEE Reverses HUAWEI Ban After Just 4 Days!


How Does The HUAWEI Trump Ban Affect YOU?

If you own a HUAWEI or HONOR smartphone sold on or before 16 May 2019, you have NOTHING to worry about.

  • Your HUAWEI or HONOR smartphone will continue to work normally
  • You will continue to have access to Google Play services, and the Google Play Store.
  • You will continue to receive updates and security patches

If you are planning to purchase a future HUAWEI or HONOR smartphone, you should wait and see.

  • Despite the ban, HUAWEI still has access to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
  • They can still produce smartphones that run on Android, but won’t be able to install Google Play services, the Google Play Store, or apps by US companies like YouTube and Facebook.
  • HUAWEI has been working on its own mobile operating system, HongMeng OS, which is said to be undergoing trials right now.
  • Future HUAWEI smartphones may run on HongMeng OS and their own slew of apps, but there will be a dearth of third-party apps, at least initially.
  • If the ban persists, HUAWEI will likely be forced to ship future smartphones with stock Android and HUAWEI apps to replace Google Play services.


What About New Devices?

The partial licence from the US Commerce Department only permits “service and support” for “existing” devices that were “available to the public on or before May 16, 2019“.

HUAWEI and its affiliates can create and sell new devices. However, they will not be covered by the temporary licence, and therefore…

  • they cannot have Google Play services or Play Store, or any US apps like YouTube and Instagram, installed
  • they are not entitled to Android software updates either

That said, US companies or companies that use substantial US technologies can apply to the US Commerce Department for special licences to sell to HUAWEI. As of July 2019, over 50 applications were submitted for consideration.


How Will This Affect HUAWEI’s Business?

This is, no doubt, a really serious problem for HUAWEI. Losing the ability to include Google services will be detrimental to the success of future devices.

The disruption of their supply chain will start to bite if the ban persists beyond three months – that’s when their stockpile runs out. They will also lose the ability to support existing customers with software patches.

However, the issuance of the temporary licence, just days after listing HUAWEI as a foreign adversary and a national security threat, signals that the HUAWEI Trump ban is just another bargaining chip in the US-China trade war.

In all likelihood, Trump is using the HUAWEI ban to force China to accept his terms for a trade deal. He badly needs a face-saving win after numerous failures in recent months.


Why This Is Bad For The Global Economy + Security

President Trump’s persistent pressure on HUAWEI is forcing a decoupling of the Chinese and American economies. This is bad for the global economy, as well as global security.

The intertwining of US and Chinese economies is a form of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that was once guaranteed by nuclear weapons.

Photo Credit : News.com.au

But with an erratic US President cutting off supply to US products and technology essential for their companies, China will continue to turn inwards to insulate their economy, even adopting a form of economic Juche.

The more their economies decouple, the more the US loses the ability to engage China positively on a variety of geopolitical issues. In fact, it may eventually lead to an outright Cold War between the US and China, if not military confrontation.

Recommended Reading : HUAWEI Legal Motion Too Late, But China Has A Trump Card!


The HUAWEI Trump Ban Revision History

Updated @ 2019-08-19 : Added details about the extension of HUAWEI’s temporary general licence (full report).

Updated @ 2019-07-24 : Added details about Trump agreeing to issue licenses for US tech companies to start selling again to HUAWEI (full report).

Updated @ 2019-07-15 : Added details about the slow action by the US Commerce Department

Updated @ 2019-06-29 : Added details about Trump’s shocking reversal of the HUAWEI ban (full report).

Updated @ 2019-06-25 : Added details about the FedEx lawsuit against the Trump Administration.

Updated @ 2019-06-24 : Added details about HONOR 20 sales despite the Trump ban (full report), and FedEx’s refusal to ship a HUAWEI P30 Pro to the United States (full report).

Updated @ 2019-06-20 : Added details of the diverting of HUAWEI packages by FedEx (full report).

Updated @ 2019-06-17 : Added details of Microsoft’s decision to resume selling HUAWEI MateBook laptops.

Updated @ 2019-06-14 : Added details of the upcoming HUAWEI laptop that will run Windows 10 on ARM (full report), the upcoming sale of the HONOR 20 smartphone (full report), and the impact on Broadcom.

Updated @ 2019-06-03 : Added IEEE’s reversal of its earlier decision to ban HUAWEI employees from reviewing scientific papers (full report).

Updated @ 2019-05-31 : Added many updates, including what Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir said about maximising the use of HUAWEI technologies. 

Updated @ 2019-05-29 : Added details of HUAWEI’s legal motion and Trump card (full report), as well as the restoration of their Bluetooth, WiFi, SD and Android Q rights (full report).

Updated @ 2019-05-26 : Added details of the HUAWEI WiFi Alliance suspension (full report)

Updated @ 2019-05-25 : Added how HUAWEI outsmarted the SD + microSD ban with their NM card (full report)

Updated @ 2019-05-23 : Added details about the HUAWEI ARM business suspension (full report)

Originally posted @ 2019-05-21


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Trump Lifts HUAWEI Ban – No Great National Emergency!

US President Donald Trump not only walked back the HUAWEI ban, he now says that it’s “no great national emergency problem“.

No, it’s not an April Fool joke, although US President Trump seems to behave like it’s all a big fucking joke.

Here is the latest twist in the 4 year comedy-horror show that is the Trump Presidency.


Trump In May : HUAWEI Is A National Security Threat

On 15 May 2019, President Trump signed an executive order barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment from sources that are “national security threats“.

He then had the US Commerce Department add HUAWEI to the Entity List of US national security threats, basically labelling HUAWEI as a national security threat.

That barred American companies, or companies using “significant American technology”, from selling their services or products to HUAWEI.


Trump In June : No Great National Emergency Problem

Less than 1.5 months after declaring HUAWEI a national security threat to the United States, Donald Trump not only walked back his HUAWEI ban, he contradicted his earlier reason for the ban!

According to CNN, he said that after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on 29 June 2019, “he would allow Huawei to once again buy US products“.

US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei… there’s no great national emergency problem. – US President Donald Trump

Credit : CNN

CNN also pointed out that :

He said he “agreed easily” in his meeting with Xi to continue allowing US companies to do business with the telecom giant.


The Donald Is A Thoroughly Confused Idiot

Seriously? Is HUAWEI a national security threat to the United States or not?

If HUAWEI is a genuine national security threat, then it cannot be part of any trade bargain on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

But Trump has now officially lifted the HUAWEI ban and announced that there will be NO NEW TARIFFS, all without an official trade deal, which is very perplexing.

Does he know what he’s doing? Or is he just making stuff up on the spur of the moment?

One thing is for sure – The Donald is a thoroughly confused idiot.


The Damage Caused By The Trump Ban On HUAWEI

The HUAWEI Trump ban immediately forced many companies or organisations to immediately suspend business with HUAWEI, including :

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It led to some customer support woes for HUAWEI, some embarrassing reversals (BT, WiFi, SD, IEEE, FedEx), and some interesting ideas (Windows on ARM, rare earths) to circumvent or beat the ban…


Is HUAWEI Safe From Another Ban?

As if he’s trying to close the barn door after the horses have bolted, Trump hinted that HUAWEI isn’t 100% safe from his wrath.

“We mentioned Huawei,” Trump said of his talks with President Xi Jinping of China earlier Saturday. “We’ll have to save that for the very end.”

In other words, HUAWEI just scored a welcomed reprieve, but Trump will likely demand concessions during the next trade talks, or he could possibly initiate another ban…


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HUAWEI Legal Motion Too Late, But China Has A Trump Card!

HUAWEI today struck back at the Trump ban, by challenging its constitutionality. Meanwhile, China hints at  a Trump card, pun intended…

We examine why the HUAWEI legal motion is too late to help them, but China’s Trump card may be what they need to break through the Trump ban.


HUAWEI Challenges Constitutionality Of The Trump Ban

On 29 May 2019, HUAWEI filed a motion for a summary judgment in its challenge that Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (2019 NDAA) is unconstitutional.

In the complaint, HUAWEI argued that Section 889 of the 2019 NDAA singled out HUAWEI by name, and not only bars U.S. government agencies from buying HUAWEI equipment and services, but also bars them from, contracting with, or awarding grants or loans to third parties who buy HUAWEI equipment or services — even if there is no impact or connection to the U.S. government.

Glen Nager, HUAWEI’s lead counsel for the case, said Section 889 of the 2019 NDAA violates the Bill of Attainder, Due Process, and Vesting Clauses of the United States Constitution. Thus, the case is purely “a matter of law” as there are no facts at issue, thereby justifying the motion for a summary judgement to speed up the process.

In line with a court scheduling order, a hearing on the motion is set for 19 September 2019.

Recommended Reading : The HUAWEI P30 Pro vs HUAWEI P30 Comparison Guide!


The Trump Ban Will Not Deliver Cybersecurity

HUAWEI also called on the U.S. government to halt its campaign against HUAWEI, because “it will not deliver cybersecurity“.

Banning Huawei using cybersecurity as an excuse “will do nothing to make networks more secure. They provide a false sense of security, and distract attention from the real challenges we face,” said Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer.

“Politicians in the U.S. are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company,” Song noted. “This is not normal. Almost never seen in history.”

“The U.S. government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat. There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation,” Song added.

Song also addressed the addition of Huawei to the “Entity List” by the U.S. Commerce Department two weeks ago. “This sets a dangerous precedent. Today it’s telecoms and Huawei. Tomorrow it could be your industry, your company, your consumers,” he said.

“The judicial system is the last line of defense for justice. Huawei has confidence in the independence and integrity of the U.S. judicial system. We hope that mistakes in the NDAA can be corrected by the court,” Song added.

Recommended Reading : HUAWEI Outsmarts SD + microSD Ban With NM Card!


HUAWEI Legal Motion Too Late To Help

With a hearing set for 3.5 months later, this legal challenge is frankly too late to stop the Trump ban from doing serious damage to HUAWEI.

Depending on who you believe, HUAWEI has enough components stockpiled for 3-12 months. It’s quite possible they will run out of components for at least some of their devices before the hearing even takes place!

In the meantime, the HONOR 20 and HONOR 20 Pro smartphones that just launched are stuck in limbo, because the Trump ban prohibits them from integrating Google Play services and the Play Store.

The same issue will plague all HUAWEI and HONOR devices that were originally scheduled to be launched after 15 May 2019.

Even worse, the temporary partial licence the Trump Administration issued to let HUAWEI and HONOR support their customers runs out by 19 August 2019a full month before the motion is even heard!

Until the Trump ban is lifted or vacated on constitutional grounds, those HUAWEI and HONOR smartphones have no commercial chance outside of China. They will all have to be postponed until this crisis is over…

Recommended Reading : The HUAWEI Trump Ban – Everything You Need To Know!


The Trump Card That Will Save HUAWEI…

What will save HUAWEI is no legal challenge… but a Trump card that the Chinese government has recently hinted at using – rare earths.

Rare earths are CRITICAL to the production of electronics, and that includes everything from smartphones to fighter jets and batteries.

China controls 90% of the world’s rare earth production, and more importantly – 80% of rare earth imports by the US. This is literally the Trump card that could force Trump to back off, and save HUAWEI.

Beijing put Washington on notice about their Trump card when both Chinese President Xi Jinping and his top economic advisor, Vice Premier Liu He, made a well-publicised visit to a rare earth factory in Jiangxi, eastern China.

If that was not obvious enough, the Chinese media (often mouthpieces of the party) made sure everyone knew that rare earths was “an ace in Beijing’s hand“, and “Don’t say you haven’t been warned“.

Even China’s economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, said in response to a question “Do you suggest that rare earths will become a part of China’s countermeasures against the US’s unwarranted pressure?” :

What I can tell you is that if someone wants to use our rare earths to manufacture products and use them to curb China’s development, then I’m sure the people of Ganzhou and across China will not be happy with that.”

Of course, Beijing might just be hoping that the threat of using their Trump card will be enough, because this nuclear option has its drawbacks.

Then again, Beijing has never dealt with anyone like Donald Trump… For a special person like that, perhaps a Trump card truly is necessary…

Recommended Reading : The HUAWEI ARM Business Suspension – How Bad Is This?


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Can You Hack It : Hong Leong Bank Hackathon Details!

If you are a programmer looking to join the FinTech and banking sectors, here is your chance! Hong Leong Bank just announced the second Can You Hack It hackathon! Here are the full details!


Can You Hack It : A Hong Leong Bank Hackathon!

Can You Hack It is Hong Leong Bank’s way of discovering and seeking out fit-for-hire participants with a knack for solving problems and digital innovation. During this 24-hour hackathon, participants will have the chance to explore the limits of their imagination in the field of financial products and banking services.

In addition to RM 15,000 in cash prizes, participants will get the chance to get hired by Hong Leong Bank, or even receive funding and support for their projects!

Held in collaboration with JomHack Malaysia, Google Cloud and Rakuten RapidAPI, Can You Hack It seeks to reward individuals and teams who demonstrate innovation and ideas for better banking through the use of shared APIs.

At the end of the 24-hour hackathon, individuals and teams participating in Can You Hack It will demonstrate their working prototypes to a panel of key HLB executives and observers from the local digital industry and VC scene.


Can You Hack It Details

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Date : To be held on 27 and 28 April 2019

Venue : Menara Hong Leong in Damansara City, Selangor

Prizes : RM15,000 in cash, potential employment opportunities and even further funding and support for incubator or accelerator programmes for promising projects

Judges : Key Hong Leong executives, and observers from the local digital industry and VC scene       


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Google Password Checkup Guide – Read Before You Install!

Google just released a new Chrome extension called Password Checkup. Practically everyone thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread.

Is it really that good? Should YOU install it? Find out what it does, and what you should know about Password Checkup, before you install it.


Password Checkup

Google will already warn you if your Google Account is compromised in any way, forcing you to change your password. However, they were not able to do that for your non-Google accounts.

That changes with Password Checkup.

What Does Password Checkup Do?

Once added to Google Chrome, Password Checkup will work like a password watchdog. Every time you log into a non-Google website, it will check your login and password against a database of about 4 million leaked logins.

What Happens If It Detects A Match?

If it detects a match, you will be alerted and asked to change your password. If you are using the same login and password combination in other websites, you should obviously also change them as well.

Your New Password Will Be Verified Too

The Password Checkup extension will also verify the your new password has not been compromised either.

Sounds awesome? Well, not so fast…


Does Password Checkup Share My Data?

Google promises that Password Checkup would not report any identifying information. But it will still collect some information that Google may share or utilise :

  • number of lookups that reveals an unsafe credential
  • whether an alert leads to a password change, and
  • the website domain involved

That said, Google will find a way somehow to benefit from it… See the next section.


Caveat : You Must Be Signed-In

Most privacy-conscious individuals who use Google Chrome do not sign into their Google Account. This allows them to anonymise their browsing history, and prevent data sharing across the many Google services.

However, Password Checkup explicitly requires you to be logged into your Google Account. It will only work if you stay logged into your Google Account while using Chrome.

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Should You Install Password Checkup?

The requirement to stay logged into your Google Account is, frankly, troubling because the extension should not need you to be logged in to verify your password against a database of leaked passwords.

After all, you can already do the same anonymously at HaveIBeenPwned.

Now, we are not saying that it’s wrong for Google to try and benefit from this. This requirement is literally the price you pay for this free checking service – you must log into your Google Account and let Google track and monetise your browsing habits.

If you are fine with that, head over to the next page for our guide on how to install Password Checkup, turn it on and off, and more!


Workaround For The Privacy Conscious

If you are privacy-conscious, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. Like all workarounds, it does entail some hassle, so you decide if it’s worth the effort.

You can install and use Password Checkup periodically. Google actually allows you to disable and re-enable it (see next page) whenever you wish. However, you can disable it just by logging out of your Google Account.

Login credentials don’t leak all the time, so it’s perfectly alright NOT to use Password Checkup every day. Once a week or month, just log into your Google Account and log into your non-Google accounts, to make sure they have not been compromised.

Then you can log out of your Google Account, effectively disabling Password Checkup, and use Google Chrome without sharing your browsing history with Google.

Next Page >  Password Checkup – Installation | Turning On / Off | Muting Warnings | Deleting Data


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How To Add Password Checkup

Password Checkup only works on Google Chrome, so obviously, you should have Google Chrome installed in the first place. Then…

  1. Open Google Chrome and sign in to your Google Account.
  2. Go to the Chrome store and download Password Checkup.
  3. Follow the steps on your screen.


How To Turn Password Checkup On / Off?

  1. Open Google Chrome and sign in to your Google Account.
  2. In the top right, select More   More tools Extensions.
  3. Find Password Checkup in the list of extensions.
  4. Turn Password Checkup on or off.

But note that turning it off does not delete data created and stored by the extension.

How To Mute Warnings For A Website

When you receive a warning, you should IMMEDIATELY change your password. But if for some reason, you need to do this later, you can choose to mute the warnings you receive for a particular website :

  • Select the Ignore for this site option to mute all future warnings for the website.
  • To restore future warnings for that website (or others that you have muted too), you will need to delete the stored information (see the next section).


How To Delete Data Stored By Password Checkup

If Password Checkup finds that a login and password combination has been compromised, it will create and store a hashed, partial code for that combination in your Chrome browser. This partial code can’t be used to recreate a complete version of your login info.

To delete this code on your Chrome browser, change your unsafe password or follow these steps:

  1. Open Google Chrome, and sign in to your Google Account.
  2. At the top, select Password Checkup from the Toolbar  Advanced Settings  Clear Extension Data.

Note: This info is used to stop all future notifications about an unsafe password. If you delete this info, you might see notifications about unsafe passwords you’ve chosen to ignore.


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2018 Acer Chromebook + Chromebox Computers Revealed!

Acer just revealed the Acer Chromebook Spin 11, Chromebook 11 and Chromebook Tab 10 devices, as well as the Chromebook CXI3! Get the full details below!


The 2018 Acer Chromebook + Chromebox Computers

Acer Malaysia General Manager of Product, Sales and Marketing, Mr. Chan Weng Hong, gave the briefing on the 2018 Acer Chromebook and Chromebox range of computers.

“As a leader in Chromebooks, Acer will continue to excite the market with new devices as we play our pivotal role in accelerating their adoption in business, education and at home. With more features available with Chrome OS, we are responding with form factors that offer more meaningful benefits to our customers.”


The Acer Chromebook Spin 11

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 is a convertible device with a 11.6-inch HD IPS display with 1366 x 768 resolution. Its patented 360° dual-torque hinge design offers four wobble-free modes – tablet, tent, laptop and display.

The Chromebook Spin 11 is bundled with a Wacom EMR stylus, and comes with two cameras – the Acer HD webcam located above the keyboard with 88° wide angle for video conferences, and a second webcam on the cover to capture images or videos in tablet mode.

Powered by the quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 processor, the Chromebook Spin 11 comes with 4 GB or 8 GB of LPDDR4 memory and up to 64 GB eMMC storage. It boasts a battery life of up to 10 hours on a single charge.


The Acer Chromebook 11

The Acer Chromebook 11 is a MIL-STD 810F-certified device that is sand- and dust-resistant, and can tolerate drops from up to 48 inches. Its internal honeycomb reinforced body can also handle up to 60 kg of force on the top cover.

Its 11.6-inch IPS display can swing by 180-degrees for sharing. It also comes with two USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 ports, which can be used for charging or fast data transfers. Powered by the quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 processor, it can last 12 hours on a single battery charge.

Next Page > Acer Chromebook Tab 10 + Chromebox CXI3, Specifications + Price List


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The Acer Chromebook Tab 10

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the first education tablet running on Chrome OS. Equipped with an OP1 processor with two ARM Cortex-A72 cores, 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, it’s powerful enough to run multiple apps at once.

Its 9.7″ IPS display has a QXGA resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. It can last up to 9 hours on a single charge, and in case you run out of power, you can even recharge it using a power bank via its USB 3.1 Type C port! It comes standard with a Wacom EMR stylus that can be embedded in the chassis dock for secure storage.


The Acer Chromebox CXI3

The Acer Chromebox CXI3 runs on Chrome OS, and is powered by the 8th Gen Intel Core processor with up to 16 GB of DDR4 memory. It is extremely compact and can even fit into a monitor’s VESA mount.

It boots up within seconds, and comes with USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 ports for faster charging and fast data transfers. It even supports dual monitors through HDMI and Type C ports.


The 2018 Acer Chromebook + Chromebox Specifications + Price List

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Chromageddon – The Day Chromecast + Home Died Worldwide!

Chromageddon is upon us! The world woke up today to a world of silent Chromecast and Google Home devices. What the heck is going on??? How do we fix it???

Updated @ 2018-07-01 : Google still refuses to tell us what caused Chromageddon. But let’s see what we can dig out about this debacle.

Updated @ 2018-06-28 : Google just reported they have a fix! We added details on what we need to do to restore the affected devices, and an update on a bad firmware being the cause of Chromageddon.

Originally posted @ 2018-06-27


Chromageddon – The Day Chromecast + Home Died Worldwide

Chromageddon took down Chromecast and Google Home devices worldwide sometime in the evening of 26 June 2018 (US Pacific Time). Since then, they have all refused to obey their masters’ commands.

Users of Google Home were greeted with the dreaded “There was a glitch. Try again in a few seconds.” response to every command. No matter how long and hard they cajoled their Google devices, they stayed silent.

They were all still alive, still connected to the network, but functionally nothing more than space-heating paperweights.

It took Google more than 12 hours to fix the problem after they realised Chromageddon was real. The real tragedy though was the complete lack of communication with their users.

Sure, Google responded to messages on Twitter, but even when people alerted them to the issue, it took more than 12 hours before they realised something truly bad was happening. Even then, they did not inform their other customers who are probably spending hours trying to troubleshoot their non-functioning devices.

Needless to say, other than informing those who reported issues when a fix was available, they steadfastly refused to tell us WHY Chromageddon happened. I suppose Google expects us to trust them to learn something from this debacle…


What Devices Are Currently Affected? Updated!

For most part, they are almost all Google Chromecast 2 and Google Home devices, but here is the full list of devices reported to be affected by Chromageddon :

  • Google Chromecast (1st Gen)
  • Google Chromecast (2nd Gen)
  • Google Home
  • Google Home mini

Surprisingly, both Google Chromecast Ultra or Chromecast Audio do not seem to be affected, although they are far less popular and their users have not yet realised the downtime.


How Do We Fix Chromecast + Home? Updated!

So far, all efforts to self-fix the problem have failed spectacularly :

  • Screaming futilely at the silent devices – Failed
  • Restarting Chromecast or Google Home – Failed
  • Rebooting the modem and/or router – Failed
  • Resetting Chromecast or Google Home to factory defaults – Failed
  • Asking Google tech support for help – Failed
  • Praying to the Google Gods – Failed

Although Google refuses to confirm, Chromageddon is most likely due to a problem with their servers. So when their servers have a hiccup, everything goes down. Google hinted at that with these tweets :

Our Engineering team is already on it. Hang in there — we’ll keep you updated.

There’s an ongoing issue with Chromecast and our team is already working on a fix ― we’ll keep you posted.

Our team is aware of this issue and working on a stable fix. Stay tuned.

At 6:18 AM (GMT+8) on the 28th of June, Google announced that they have a fix for Chromageddon that will automatically roll out over the next 6 hours. To get your Chromecast and Google Home running immediately, all you have to do is REBOOT them.

“We’ve identified a fix for the issue impacting Google Home users and it will be automatically rolled out over the next 6 hours. If you would like an immediate fix please follow the directions to reboot your device. If you’re still experiencing an issue after rebooting, contact us at Google Home Support. We are really sorry for the inconvenience and are taking steps to prevent this issue from happening in the future.

While there is a way to reboot your Google devices via the Google Home app, many people cannot actually get connected to the affected devices. So the simplest way to get them working again is to physically turn off power to those devices, and then turn them back on again.


Isn’t Chromageddon Due To A Firmware Update? Updated!

At first, everyone thought it might have been a firmware update that bricked the devices. Some even claimed that it only happened after their affected devices were updated.

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However, many of those who could still connect to their Chromecast reported that they were still on the 1.29.104827 production ​firmware. That firmware is several months old, or it’s not possible for it to suddenly act up globally.

Some have reported that their Chromecast is on the 1.30.113131 preview firmware. That is only possible if they had specifically opted to participate in the Google Preview Program. Even so, this preview firmware was released in sometime in April 2018.

When Google announced a fix, and that all we needed to do was to reboot our devices, it confirmed our deduction that it was a server-related issue on their end. We can safely confirm that Chromageddon was NOT due to any firmware update.


What Chromageddon Teaches Us

We all know that personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo (Price Check) are always connected to cloud servers, and come with their fair share of privacy concerns. However, most of us are probably not aware that “dumb” video streaming devices like Chromecast connect to such servers as well.

Privacy concerns with devices “dialling home” are bad enough. Chromageddon is now proof of just how vulnerable such a system design can be, if these devices have to be connected to Google’s servers to even function.

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This iThemes Security Setting Can Block Search Engine Bots!

We were recently beset by a sudden, MASSIVE drop in the number of search referrals from Google. We discovered that something was blocking search engine robots from accessing our sitemaps or crawling our website!

At first, we though it was due to a CloudFlare SSL configuration. But now, we have confirmed that it is due to an iThemes Security feature!

It is critical that you check and make sure that this iThemes Security setting is not preventing search engine robots from reading your sitemaps, and crawling your website.


iThemes Security

Formerly known as Better WP Security, iThemes Security is a very popular WordPress security plugin. While the paid Pro option offers a ton of cool security features, even the free plugin gives you the ability to lock down WordPress, fix common holes, stop automated attacks and implement a blacklist (this is a pivotal feature in this article).


What Happens If You Block Search Engine Bots?

if you block search engine bots accidentally or otherwise, you prevent them from indexing your website. This essentially makes your website “invisible” to search engines. Your website pages will no longer appear when people are searching for a relevant topic.

How does that happen?

  • Your website pages no longer appear in Google searches. If Google can’t see them, Google cannot display your pages in search results!
  • Even if your website pages do appear in Google searches, the links may be corrupt or nonsensical. Look at this example of this search result which leads to a bad link.

  • The description of your website page may also be nonsensical, as the example above also demonstrates.


This iThemes Security Setting Can Block Search Engine Bots!

A key feature of iThemes Security is the ability to set up a blacklist. iThemes Security will automatically populate the blacklist with the IP addresses after a number of failed attempts to login. This prevents a malicious attacker from trying to brute force its way into your system.

Unfortunately, it can falsely detect search engine bots as malicious hackers, and add them to the blacklist. That was precisely what happened to us.

Google reports that all of our sitemaps are inaccessible. Here is a view showing all five of our sitemaps were inaccessible.

If you click on the reported errors, they will all show HTTP 403 error (Forbidden).

You can verify if any search engine bot is being blocked by keying in the sitemap (or robot.txt or your website) at Redirect Checker. You can also try loading the sitemap or robot.txt in your own web browser.

If Redirect Checker or you have no problem accessing your sitemaps or robot.txt file, then something is blocking the Googlebot (or other search engine robots) from accessing your sitemaps, or crawling your website. That “something” is most likely iThemes Security’s blacklist.


The Solution

The solution is simple.

  1. Log into your website’s WordPress admin panel.
  2. Go to Security -> Settings.
  3. Look for the Banned Users section, and click on Configure Settings.

  1. In the Banned Users page, you will see a list of banned IP addresses.
  2. Delete the whole list of banned IP addresses.

  1. Uncheck the Ban Lists option.

  • Click Save Settings, and that’s it! The search engine robots will now be able to read your sitemaps!


Pro Tips

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For those who still want to use the blacklist to block malicious attackers, here are the IP addresses used by various search engine robots.

Google will eventually read your sitemaps and reindex your website. But you can speed things along by :

Both guides were written with help from Kok Kee from Nasi Lemak Tech!


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Search Engine Robot IP Addresses – Googlebot, BingBot, MSNBot + More!

Also known as a crawler, a bot or a spider, the search engine robot is a program crawls through your website to index its pages. This allows search engines to identify relevant pages and serve them to people searching for specific topics.

Letting a search engine robot crawl your website is critical to its ability to rank high in search results.. Therefore, it really pays to ensure that these crawlers have no problem accessing your website, and crawl through its pages.

To help you do that, here is the list of common search engine robot IP addresses.


Search Engine Robot IP Addresses

Please let us know if the list is out-of-date, or if you have any suggestion to improve this list.

Google : Googlebot


Bing : BingBot


MSN Search / Live Search : MSNBot


Baidu : BaiduSpider


Yahoo : Yahoo Slurp


Yandex : YandexBot


Please let us know if the list is out-of-date, or if you have any suggestion to improve this list.


How Can I Make Use Of This List?

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If you employ a blacklist to block out malicious attackers, you can use the list to make sure none of the search engine robot IP addresses are listed in your blacklist.

If you don’t do that, the blacklist can prevent search engine robots from crawling your website, at great cost to your search rankings.

You can also add these search engine robot IP addresses to a whitelist. This ensures that your security plugins will never impede a genuine search engine robot from indexing your website.


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How To Reindex Your Website Using Google Search Console

Maybe you had problems with your sitemaps, or never had one in the first place. But now you have new sitemaps up, and you want Google to read them and reindex your website as quickly as possible. How do you do that? Let’s find out!


Is It Important To Reindex Your Website?

If your sitemaps were corrupted, or rendered inaccessible by this CloudFlare SSL setting, you will want to quickly reindex your website. Until it is reindexed, Google Search will not refer anyone to your website.

Remember – if Google Search spiders cannot crawl your website, your website pages will not exist in Google Search.

If you had already submitted your new sitemaps in the Google Search Console, Google will eventually get around to crawling your website using those sitemaps.

But time is of essence. Why wait when you can (politely) ask Google to reindex your website?

Credit : This guide was written with help from Kok Kee from Nasi Lemak Tech!


How To Reindex Your Website Using Google Search Console

  1. Login to Google Search Console.
  2. Go to the Fetch as Google section (Crawl > Fetch as Google).
  3. You will want to index from the main page onwards, so just leave the URL blank, and click on the red Fetch And Render button.

  1. You need to do this for both Desktop and Mobile, so click on the dropdown menu, select Mobile and click Fetch And Render again.
  2. You should see the screen below, showing both Desktop and Mobile Googlebot render requested.

  1. Click on the Request indexing button, and the screen below will pop-up.
  2. Click on the reCAPTCHA checkbox challenge, and select Crawl this URL, and its direct links, and click Go.

  1. Repeat the same steps for the Mobile Googlebot.
  2. After you are done, you should see that in both cases, the buttons have been replaced by the notice “Indexing requested for URL and linked pages

  1. That’s it! Google Search will soon reindex your website using the desktop and mobile Googlebots.


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How To Detect + Fix Sitemap Problems In Google Search Console

If your website pages are not showing up in Google, you may have a problem with your sitemaps. This is a serious problem because it prevents Google from directing people to your website. Let us show you how to fix sitemap problems, and get Google to reindex your website!

Credit : This guide was written with help from Kok Kee from Nasi Lemak Tech!


How Serious Are Sitemap Problems?

Sitemap problems are HUGE, because they greatly sap the number of people who visit your website from a Google search. When we started having sitemap problems, the number of unique visitors to Tech ARP was instantly halved.

How does that happen?

  • Your website pages no longer appear in Google searches. If Google can’t see them, Google cannot display your pages in search results!
  • Even if your website pages do appear in Google searches, the links may be corrupt or nonsensical. Look at this example of this search result which leads to a bad link.

  • The description of your website page may also be nonsensical, as the example above also demonstrates.


How To Detect + Fix Sitemap Problems

  1. Log into Google Search Console.
  2. Go to the Sitemaps section (Crawl > Sitemaps)
  3. It will show you the sitemaps for your website, as well as any sitemap errors.

  1. Click on the error to find out what’s wrong.

  1. You will need to use the information listed to figure out what’s wrong, and fix the problem.
    a) if the sitemap was deleted, or is corrupt, you will need to generate a new sitemap
    b) if the sitemap is inaccessible due to a permission setting, you need to change its permission setting.
    c) if you are using CloudFlare, try disabling Always use HTTPS.

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  1. After you fix the sitemap problem, you will need to resubmit the sitemap to Google. Go into each sitemap information page, and click on the red Resubmit button at the upper right corner.

  1. After submitting the new sitemap, you can refresh the page to check its status.

  1. Repeat the steps for all of your sitemaps,
  2. Google Search Console should no longer list any sitemap error.


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Safer Internet Day : Google’s Tips To Stay Safe Online!

To celebrate Safer Internet Day, Google shared these tips on how to stay safe online! Don’t forget to share this with your family and friends!

We know that keeping your information safe and private is important to you, which is why we’ve baked security features into all our products. We’ve also developed technologies to help keep the broader internet safe, too.

Whether you’re using Gmail, Android, YouTube, or are simply browsing the web, here are some of the tools and features that you can be confident will help you keep safe:


Safer Internet Tip #1 : Personalize your account security

The Security Checkup provides a clear security status and personalized recommendations to strengthen your account security. A green check mark means you’re good to go, and a yellow or red exclamation point means there’s at least one issue for you to take care of.

Safer Internet Tip #2 : Look out for automatic warnings

Spotting phishing scams or dangerous websites can be a challenge, even for savvy web users. Our automated systems detect and warn you about sites with malware, or attempts to phish you. Just keep an eye out for our warnings and follow the instructions—we’ve got you covered.

Safer Internet Tip #3 : Protect your Google account with two-factor authentication

Secure your email inbox by activating 2-step verification. With this feature, you’ll need a password and a verification code that’s sent to your mobile phone to be able to get into your inbox. Enroll in 2-step verification here to add an extra layer of security your account.

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Safer Internet Tip #4 : Download apps on Google Play for peace of mind on your Android

If you’re an Android user, the safest place to download apps is from the Google Play store. Google Play Protect checks apps and your device around the clock to keep out malicious programs and makes sure you have the latest in mobile security protection.

In 2017 alone, we took down more than 700,000 apps that violated Google Play policies, 70% more than the apps taken down in 2016. Google Play Protect is the ideal security blanket for your mobile device, so can you consider yourself and your data covered.

Google Play Protect is also there to help you if you ever misplace your phone. Visit android.com/find to locate, ring, lock and erase your Android devices—phones, tablets, and even watches.

Safer Internet Tip #5 : You too can help keep YouTube safe

YouTube has always allowed people like you and me to report content we think is inappropriate. Once you’ve flagged a video, it’s submitted for review to YouTube staff who then carefully look at the content to determine whether there’s a violation of YouTube’s Community Guidelines to see if it should be removed. You can also flag individual comments under any video for abuse or spam.

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Google Collaborates With Lenovo On Daydream VR Headset

Lenovo and Google are coming together again. This time, they’re collaborating on a new immersive virtual reality product that’s designed for everyday consumers – the Google Daydream VR headset. Check out what Lenovo has to say about this collaboration!


The Google Daydream VR Headset

We’ll be giving an early preview of our upcoming Daydream standalone headset. It will be one of the first devices to feature WorldSense to allow you to move around and explore virtual environments as if you’re truly there: ducking, weaving and jumping for even more immersive experiences.

This product represents our latest effort in collaboration between our companies: You may remember the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the world’s first Tango-enabled smartphone, launched in 2016. While the Phab 2 Pro makes a number of smartphone AR experiences possible, this standalone headset is built specifically for immersive VR.

What’s a Standalone VR headset?

Other similar VR devices require a complex setup that relies on external sensors (standalone headsets have built-in sensors). This standalone headset will streamline the experience: just pick up and play.

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And this is different from Google Daydream smartphone-based VR, since WorldSense brings natural movements into your 3D environment. Duck in a game of dodgeball or lunge sideways to evade enemies as they close in on your position.

Casual consumers will soon be able to access immersive virtual reality experiences. Developers will now be able to unlock features that most consumers have never experienced before.

We’re excited that easy-to-use, fully immersive virtual reality is coming to you very soon. We hope you are too.


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Maxis 4G LTE tops YouTube Video Checkup Test in all states

Kuala Lumpur, 27 March 2017 – Maxis has emerged as the telco that consistently delivers smooth high-definition (HD) video streaming, according to YouTube’s Video Checkup tool. This web tool, which was officially launched last week in Malaysia only, provides YouTube users with a score of different telcos in a specific area based on YouTube playback quality.


The Maxis 4G LTE Video Checkup Test Results

The results for Maxis’ network performance showed clear leadership across the country :

“Malaysians love the Internet and we believe in delighting our customers with a great mobile Internet experience. This is why Maxis continues to make significant investments to strengthen our network infrastructure so customers can enjoy a differentiated 4G experience on their phones, These results show that HD video streaming is better with Maxis No. 1 4G,” said Morten Bangsgaard, Maxis’ Chief Technology Officer.

He added, “We are glad that such a diagnostic tool has been launched. It provides transparency of different network experiences, and gives users a clear and reliable measure that comes from the aggregation of YouTube data that is gathered from actual user experience.”

The top ratings for buffer speeds on Maxis 4G LTE across 14 states is unequivocal:

According to YouTube, a rating of 4.0 stars is the highest possible rating at this time, as 4.5+ stars are reserved for future technology that support higher bandwidth video such as Virtual Reality (VR) and 360-degree videos.

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The increased use of video has driven a growing demand for Maxis mobile data, which doubled from 1.5GB last year to 4.0GB per month in 2016. There was also a tremendous growth in the penetration of 4G-enabled devices, which increased to 43% of total Maxis subscribers in 2016. Maxis 4G traffic grew 7 times in 2016 mainly used for good quality video streaming.

According to a statement released by Google, “Today, most viewers of YouTube in Malaysia primarily watch videos from their smartphones, with two thirds of Malaysia’s YouTube watchtime coming from mobile devices. Much of this on-the-go watchtime comes from consumers using mobile data plans. The growth momentum for this trend looks strong, as mobile watchtime in Malaysia grew by 84% over this past year.”


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New Canvas Integration With Google Revealed

Kuala Lumpur,20 January 2017 — Canvas by Instructure today released a deep, seamless integration with Google tools that allows students and teachers to use Google while working inside of Canvas, effectively eliminating the need to constantly switch between separate tabs and log-ins. This integration helps increase productivity for teachers and students who use Canvas and Google Drive by streamlining their workflow, and merges the capabilities of Google Docs and the Canvas LMS platform.

“Most of the teachers we work with use Google in their classrooms, and they want to use Canvas and Google without switching back and forth between two interfaces. Our educator user base is very excited about this integration because it will make their lives easier,” said Melissa Loble, the Vice President of partners and platform at Instructure. “Now teachers, students and administrators alike can use Google’s best tools directly inside of Canvas. This integration allows schools to continue having students work in the software they use now, and will use after they get their diplomas and jobs in the real world.”


The Canvas Integration With Google

The integration includes many points of interoperability, such as:

  • Single sign-on: With a single login, when users are logged into Canvas, they’re also logged into Google.
  • Google Drive embedding and linking: Users can easily embed documents from Google Drive anywhere they use the Canvas rich content editor.
  • Google Docs as assignments: With this new integration, students can submit Google Docs as assignments, and teachers can use a Google Doc to give an assignment and to grade submitted assignments in Speedgrader by editing or annotating the Google Doc submitted by the student.
  • Google Drive collaborations: Students can participate in a Canvas collaboration using Google Docs, Sheets or Slides.
  • Modules: Teachers can include a read-only Google Doc in their modules.

The Canvas Google integration benefits teachers, students and administrators. The integration helps teachers create and add collaborative documents from Google, view their Google Drive files from the Canvas Course Navigation Menu, and save time in finding and sharing files. Because Canvas seamlessly integrates with Google Drive, teachers can create assignments and annotate directly on the Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets as they grade them.

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For students, the new integration promotes collaboration with classmates and teachers and enables them to view teacher feedback on Google Docs and save time submitting documents. The integration also helps administrators leverage standards-based technology and Google’s wealth of educational features with no additional cost. The simplified workflow created by the integration also promotes greater adoption of the technology, which increases productivity.

“Canvas believes that schools should be able to bring the best tools together so that teachers can focus on teaching and not on technology. Traditional LMS/VLE environments force teachers to use the tools they alone provide or created fractured environments where students and teachers needed to log into several systems. Canvas is the first to bring the true power of Google apps for Education (GAFE) into a centralised Learning environment for teachers and students. Teachers can quickly share documents with students, create collaborative documents, slides or sheets and even allow students to submit work for assessment. With only a couple of clicks in Canvas, you have a truly unified environment,” concluded Troy Martin, Vice President, Canvas Asia Pacific.

This integration allows for seamless, simultaneous use of Canvas and Google, with both platforms transforming today’s K–12 and higher education classrooms.


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BIGO LIVE : Free Live-Streaming Videos On iOS & Android

BIGO LIVE is a free live-streaming video app for iOS and Android that allows mobile users to broadcast themselves and share their lives spontaneously on live video. The app was launched on March 2016 and has captured a fast-growing user base in the Southeast Asian region, particularly amongst the young. BIGO Live is now popular not only in Asia, but also in North America, Europe, Russia and Middle East.

The BIGO LIVE platform not only helps create new Internet personalities, it is also helping emerging actors and actresses engage their audience. The live broadcasting feature in BIGO LIVE is now a key tool in grooming these new talents, and helping them increase their exposure.


The Secret To BIGO LIVE’s Success

BIGO LIVE was adopted very quickly by local celebrities and personalities. Vietnamese personalities like Lilly Luta, Dang Dung and Nguyen Huu Cong have attracted 9,000 viewers in one BIGO LIVE room. Meanwhile, Thai online celebrity Onboatz (who commands an 80,000 strong following on Instagram) has also adopted BIGO LIVE.

Indonesian star Julia Perez even used BIGO LIVE to share her experience in fighting cancer. That garnered a tremendous amount of positive acclaim from her fans.

A famous American prank star, Vitaly, has once broadcasted a bullfight that he joined on Halloween. Before the bullfight took place, he had even tweeted, “If I die, at least I die live,” inviting everyone to join his BIGO Live stream to watch the exciting bullfight.

BIGO has also created a very large and healthy community in South Korea with live streamers broadcasting their interesting lives and even make-up tutorials to viewers.

And if you are wondering, BIGO stands for “Before I Get Old“. Fascinating, isn’t it?

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Where To Download BIGO Live?

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=sg.bigo.live

iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1077137248


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How To Unblock Gmail Restrictions On Outlook & Less Secure Apps

If your mail app keeps refusing to sync your emails, it is probably because Gmail considers it to be a “less secure app”. Instead of syncing your mail, you get warning messages asking you to login by a web browser. You may already have tried to do that, but your mail app still won’t sync with Gmail. Let us tell you what’s going on, and how to resolve this problem once and for all.


Gmail Tightened Security

From July 15, 2014 onwards, Google started promoting OAuth 2.0 over Basic Authentication. Their first step – blocking access to third-party apps that do not support OAuth 2.0. This includes all versions of Microsoft Outlook, even Outlook 2016. This issue also affects other apps like Mozilla Thunderbird, and Apple Mail apps in iOS 6 and older.

When these apps try to sync with Gmail, they will be denied access. Instead, you will get a warning message, asking you to login using a web browser. That won’t work though, because logging into your Gmail account using a web browser won’t enable OAuth 2.0 support in your app.

It would be technically simple for Microsoft to add OAuth 2.0 support to Outlook, but it appears that they are uninterested in helping improve access to Gmail. Until then, let’s show you how to unblock Gmail restrictions on Outlook and other “less secure apps”.


How To Unblock Gmail’s Restrictions

The good news is Google did not block access completely. They still allow Basic Authentication for these “less secure apps” to work with Gmail. The only thing is you must explicitly enable Basic Authentication via the Allow less secure apps option in Gmail.

There are two ways to access the Allow less secure apps option. Both require you to login to Gmail via a web browser first. Once you are logged into your Gmail account, go to the following links, and enable access for less secure apps :

Option Ahttps://www.google.com/settings/security/lesssecureapps

Option B – Scroll to the bottom of https://myaccount.google.com/security

Whichever method you choose, you will need to replicate for each and every Gmail account you need to sync to Microsoft Outlook, or any app that is considered “less secure” by Gmail.


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