Kaspersky is giving away its antivirus for free

Kaspersky has kicked off the global launch of a free antivirus program which covers the core anti-malware capabilities, while leaving more advanced features as the domain of its paid-for products.

Kaspersky Free will be the bottom tier of the range underneath the likes of Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Internet Security, providing the bare essentials of protection at no cost.

That means antivirus for your PC, protection for your browser and email inbox, along with basic self-defence features and anti-phishing measures.

And of course you get the benefit of Kaspersky’s highly-rated antivirus definitions. The other added boon is that this is a lightweight app, so has less of an impact on system resources than the premium products, which is always handy.

Kaspersky Free has already launched in Russia, China and some European countries, with the global launch kicking off right now as mentioned, with the app going live for the US and Canada.

The software will have a staged rollout worldwide, and unfortunately won’t be coming to the UK and Ireland until October, so we’ve still got a little while to wait this side of the Atlantic.

More the merrier

As Kaspersky observes, having more people using its antivirus will mean more data to work with in terms of constructing defences against the latest malware, and that will lead to better protection for all the company’s users.

Incidentally, if you were wondering what sort of features the premium (paid-for) versions of Kaspersky’s software offer over and above core protection, they include the likes of online payment protection, parental control features and built-in VPN functionality.

      

Why I’d rather be naked on a train than write my novel in public

Temporarily quitting Twitter to give myself more time to write has been amazing. I might be missing out on photos of particularly delicious avocado toast, but it’s a small price to pay.

To my shame, however, I haven’t spent as much of that extra time working on my novel as I’d like. The reason is simple: I’m embarrassed.

Much of my Twittering took place on my daily commute to TechRadar Towers and, let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s hard to resist peeking at someone’s screen when they’re tapping away at a laptop next to you.

This is the 08:30 South West Trains service to quiet embarrassment

Usually they’re putting together an astonishingly tedious PowerPoint presentation almost entirely made up of incomprehensible pie charts. But what if it turned out they were composing the most terrible, cliché-ridden sci-fi you’ve ever seen?

It would be like seeing them naked – there’s a chance you might be impressed, but more likely you’d silently cast terrible judgement upon them and try desperately to avoid eye contact.

Put a sock on it

My hunt for a possible solution turned up several options – one of the most appealing being an innovative piece of knitwear featured in an advertising campaign for tech company 3M. It’s a kind of hoodie that envelopes your whole laptop screen, giving you ultimate privacy without looking even slightly mad.

The sweater was created by design agency DDB Singapore and sadly isn’t a real product, but community-minded knitter Becky Stern has written a tutorial explaining how to make your own bright orange Compubody Sock.

It looks extremely helpful, but there are a few potential problems with it.

First, the design encases both your head and your warm laptop in a cozy layer of wool. This would be pleasant enough in winter, but in late June it could lead to either you or your laptop overheating and crashing.

Second, hiding away under several feet of orange knitwear might attract unwanted attention from British Transport Police.

And third, although learned to knit as a kid, I never progressed beyond little teddy-sized scarves and cried when I dropped a stitch.

Becky Stern’s home-made Compubody Sock – cosy, but potentially alarming

Another option would be a laptop privacy screen – a film that sticks over your display and renders it unreadable unless viewed straight-on. Unfortunately, train designers have an annoying habit of arranging seats in parallel rows, so the person directly behind you would still be able to see everything.

Also, the best privacy screens seem to be gold rather than black and, like Gollum, I’d be even more curious if something mysterious, shiny and golden was within my line of sight. Scratch that idea, then.

Back in black

I really don’t want anyone reading my screen – but it it’s occurred to me that I don’t really need to see it myself either. I already know my work is going to need some seriously heavy editing, re-drafting and possibly razing to the ground, so it doesn’t matter that the first draft has the odd typo.

If writing a novel is like creating a sculpture, right now I’m sitting on a block of limestone waiting for it to turn into marble.

I’ve therefore decided to download Focuswriter, set the Focus option so everything except the current line is greyed out, and then turn the screen brightness all the way down so I can type away in secret.

I can just about make out the line I’m working on but no more, which also stops me constantly trying to go back and edit on the fly (a habit that does nothing for productivity).

My first novel – much darker than I’d expected

The only worry will be coming home, turning up the brightness and finding out that my touch-typing is nowhere near as good as I thought it was. Oh well, vrdy ;s boe c’est la vie.

  • Cat Ellis has turned to technology to help write her first novel. Follow her progress in her Sculpt Fiction column.

      

Chrome finally gets full support for MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

The latest incarnation of the Chrome browser (version 60) has been released, and it comes with official support for the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.

Earlier this year Google’s browser offered rudimentary support for the Touch Bar in its Canary build (effectively the alpha version), but full support has taken its time in arriving. We were expecting it to debut in April, but it’s only just made the cut for July.

At any rate, support for the Touch Bar is now in the full release version of Chrome, giving you convenient access to the expected navigation buttons (back, forwards, refresh), a URL/search bar, the ability to bookmark a website and more.

Custom corner

Furthermore, it’s possible to customize the Touch Bar to add or remove buttons, and you also get the ability to turn off predictive typing suggestions if that functionality annoys you. As Mac Rumors points out, you’ll find the settings for customization under ‘View’, then select ‘Customize Touch Bar’.

Another major app supporting the MacBook Pro’s context-sensitive strip is obviously a welcome boon, and Chrome joins some big names in this club including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Evernote.

Chrome version 60 also tightens up a lot of bits and pieces on the security front with various fixes being applied, which is always good to hear. Google’s browser is very well thought of in terms of security – it was the undisputed champion of web browsers at Pwn2Own back in the spring, managing to avoid being hacked in any way. That’s an impressive achievement indeed.

As a final note, those who don’t care about the Touch Bar because they own an older MacBook Pro might be interested to read our story from yesterday, whereby Apple is swapping certain old models with battery issues for newer notebooks.

      

The 5 best Linux laptops of 2017

There was a time when Linux was seen as an outcast operating system, and indeed one that was labelled as a ‘cancer’ by Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer.

Times have now changed as the 25-year-old operating system has made some serious inroads in the server market, then in the cloud – not forgetting that it underpins the most popular ecosystem out there: Android.

Because none of the main notebook vendors – bar Dell – offer Linux as an OS option, this leaves other smaller companies the ability to carve a niche for themselves.

Below are the five best Linux laptops of 2017 we’ve picked out using our expert eye – note that they have been fine-tuned to run a specific flavour of Linux (such as Ubuntu, for example).

The XPS 13 retains its crown as the undisputed champion of the Ultrabook market, and one can only admire Dell for its unwavering Linux support on a flagship machine. The laptop is customisable so you can configure it to be suitable for everything from routine office tasks to gaming, depending on how much you’re willing to pay.

If you wish, you can plump for one of the more expensive models which have a QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800 resolution) display. The slightly more wallet-friendly configurations run with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) 13.3-inch InfinityEdge display. Obviously the latter will give you better battery life relative to a larger more pixel-packed display, but users will never know the joy of the vibrant colour reproduction the super-sharp QHD+ screen delivers.

At checkout you can choose to preinstall Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Google and its armada of Chromebooks seem to have cornered the bottom end of the laptop market, much to the chagrin of traditional Linux users who demand far better value for money. However, one small vendor has pledged to change the way things work.

Alpha Universal uses Elementary OS to power its Litebook laptop which costs roughly the same as a Chromebook, but has twice the system memory, far more expansion capabilities, a faster than average CPU (an Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz), a Full HD display and 512GB of ‘replaceable’ storage (a traditional hard disk drive) plus a 32GB SSD (that’s the ‘hybrid’ option). With a very tempting budget price tag, this is a great way for a beginner to explore the world of Linux.

Purism embarked upon a quest to build the most secure laptop ever and (obviously) chose Linux (PureOS) to power the device – it is the only notebook vendor on the market to offer physical kill switches as standard on its laptops.

Instead of going mainstream, the company tapped into the crowdfunding community to gain more than $430,000 (around £330,000, AU$545,000) worth of funding, allowing it to adopt a stricter ethos than most firms when it comes to privacy, rights to free software and security.

The Librem 13 might look and feel like a bog-standard laptop but there’s far more to it than meets the eye (for example, the company designed its own motherboards).

In addition, Purism’s commitment to Linux (and security in general) certainly goes beyond most of the vendors on this list.

Hailed by Dell as the world’s most powerful workstation with a 17-inch display, the Precision 17 7720 has one hidden feature – it can be configured with Ubuntu 16.04 out of the box (don’t forget to remove the Energy Star rating). As expected, it comes with a significant price tag that approaches five figures when it is loaded with all bells and whistles.

It’s comforting to know that even the latest hardware (Xeon Skylake, Quadro P5000 GPU, 64GB RAM etc) officially supports Ubuntu (albeit the LTS edition) and is backed by one of the largest players in the market. It’s a shame that Dell, as it stands, is the only major vendor offering Ubuntu across a wide range of laptops catering for multiple segments.

On paper, the Galago Pro from System76 is an absolute beast of a machine, and yet it weighs less than most laptops which also have a 13-inch screen. This is a notebook that rivals the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, featuring an aluminium chassis, and managing to make space for up to 32GB of RAM (yes, 32GB) and up to 6TB of solid-state storage space.

If that wasn’t enough, it has a 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 3,200 x 1,800, an Ethernet port, an SD card reader, two USB ports and a Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C/mini-DisplayPort connector. In a nutshell, you will be hard pressed to get anything in Windows-land that can deliver this sort of compute power and storage capacity.

      

The best free screen recorder for games 2017

When it comes to recording and streaming games, you need a tool designed specifically for the task. Some YouTubers and Twitchers choose to invest in premium software, but there are brilliant free screen recorders that are just as good as their paid-for counterparts.

When you’re choosing a free screen recorder for games, there are a few important points to consider. First, it needs to be able to record at a high resolution, at a decent frame rate.

It also needs to be able to record for a reasonable period of time (you don’t want it cutting out after a few seconds), and it shouldn’t apply any watermarks to the finished videos unless you’ve chosen to create your own.

You also need to consider whether you want to stream footage from your games or just record them, and whether you’d like to add your own commentary while you’re playing.

Before you get started, bear in mind that running any screen recorder will affect game performance, though the degree will vary.

1. OBS Studio

Easily the best screen recorder for gamers, whether you want to capture footage to upload to YouTube or stream your sessions live to Twitch

Whenever we want to record a game here at TechRadar, we reach straight for OBS Studio. It’s open source, which means anyone is free to contribute to it, add features and fix bugs, and there are none of the limitations that come with free versions of commercial screen capture software.

It’s not just a recorder either – you can also use OBS Studio to stream games directly to Twitch, YouTube, or any other service you like.

It can record from pretty much any source – not just screens, but media files and attached cameras and microphones too – and if you’re streaming you can switch between sources on the fly.

There’s no need to mess about launching the recorder before your game either – with a couple of clicks, you can configure OBS Studio to start capturing your display as soon as you launch a full-screen program.

Review and where to download: OBS Studio

2. Nvidia Shadowplay

If you own a GeForce graphics card, Nvidia’s own recording and streaming software has you covered – and it’s bundled free with the drivers

We’re listing Nvidia’s excellent Shadowplay video recorder second because – unsurprisingly – it’s only available to owners of its own GeForce graphics cards. You probably already have it as part of the GeForce Experience application, but if not you can download it separately from Nvidia’s site.

If you’ve just pulled off something amazing, but weren’t recording at the time, Nvidia Shadowplay has you covered. It temporarily caches footage as you play and lets you save the last 30 seconds via a keyboard shortcut (a feature called Shadow Time), or send it straight to YouTube or Facebook. Alternatively, you can start recording manually.

You can stream games straight to Twitch, Facebook or YouTube too, add audio from your microphone, and take 4K screenshots.

If your gaming PC supports it, Nvidia Shadowplay is excellent.

Where to download: Nvidia Shadowplay

3. Flashback Express

An easy way to record games, with a video editor thrown in as a bonus

Flashback Express from Blueberry Software isn’t quite as feature-packed as OBS Studio or Shadowplay, but it’s less intimidating if you’ve never used a similar program before. There’s no setup process to worry about – just tell the program to start recording and it handles the rest.

Flashback Express also comes with its own little video editor, which you can launch immediately after you’ve finished recording. It’s not a fully-fledged movie making tool, but it lets you crop, trim and otherwise adjust your recordings to suit your needs.

Flashback Express might sometimes run into trouble with hardware accelerated graphics, so if you find that it’s recorded a black box where your gameplay should be, try experimenting with the graphics settings. If things still don’t go to plan, OBS Studio (above) isn’t much tricker to use if you stick to the default settings and are willing to use a separate video editor to make any tweaks.

Review and where to download: Flashback Express

4. Ezvid

Another good choice for gamers new to recording, with plenty of features, but it can only send videos straight to YouTube – not save them to your PC

Ezvid’s homepage is a little strange. Most of the buttons are sponsored links, but that’s fair enough – this is an excellent free screen recorder for games, and its creators have to pay the bills.

It also has a bizarre Ezvid Wiki, which sounds like it should contain tips for using the software, but is actually a buyer’s guide covering cheese slicers, bowling balls and dish racks.

To download the software you need to scroll right down to the bottom to the button marked ‘Get Ezvid Now’. There are no cheeky extra programs bundled in the installer, so once you’ve got the right link there’s nothing to worry about.

You can record up to 45 minutes of gameplay – plenty for most purposes – though you might need to run the game in windowed mode, which is a considerable drawback if you want to show off what kind of performance your gaming rig can deliver.

There are no watermarks on recorded videos, and you can record from your microphone or add annotations while recording.

Unfortunately, while you can upload your recordings straight to YouTube, there’s actually no way to save them from Ezvid to your PC. You could always upload them to YouTube privately, then use a free YouTube downloader, but that’s a lot of hassle.

Review and where to download: Ezvid

5. Fraps

The original screen recorder for gamers is still superb, but the free version is only designed to whet your appetite for the subscription

Fraps is the web’s most famous screen recorder, and has been capturing pixels with great enthusiasm since 1999.

It’s still an excellent program that’s optimized for gamers with tools like an fps counter to help you monitor performance mid-game, and support for very high resolutions. Unfortunately though, the free version is severely limited. You can only record your game for 30 seconds at a stretch, and the resulting video will be watermarked with the developer’s URL.

The free version of Fraps is also restricted to saving still screengrabs in BMP format, whereas tools like OBS Studio will happily save them as much smaller compressed JPG files.

The free version of Fraps can really only be considered a trial for the full edition. It’s not immediately obvious how much a full license costs (the ‘Buy’ link on the site takes you directly to Paypal), but the price for a single user is £27 (about US$35, AU$45) – a modest fee if you’re planning to monetize gameplay videos

Download here: Fraps

      

Flipkart Grand Gadget Day Sale Begins today: Here are the deals you need to check out

Flipkart’s Grand Gadget Day sale will be held between the 24th and 26th of July. Since this sale focuses primarily on gadgets, there are a number of deals on laptops and smartphones. You can also get trimmers and other personal grooming products at a very good price thanks to this deal.

The deals

The company is offering attractive discounts on Intel’s Core i3 laptops, starting at just Rs 24,999. There are offerings by Lenovo, Acer etc to choose from.

The Apple iPads have seen some handy discounts as well, with the lineup now starting at just Rs 25,900. There are multiple variants to choose from, so the discounts don’t apply to just one model.

The Google Chromecast 2 is now priced at just Rs 3,199, which should make it more competitive, especially with the presence of the Amazon Fire TV Stick in the market.

The Canon EOS 700D DSLR camera is selling for Rs 39,499 and comes bundled with free Moto headphones worth Rs 6,999 in value. So if you’re on the lookout for a DSLR, Flipkart is the place to look right now. A handful of other cameras are included in the sale as well.

Smartphone deals

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro: Lenovo is offering a discount of Rs 5,000 on the handset, bringing the cost down to just Rs 24,990. This appears to be a limited period discount, however.

Micromax Evok Note: The handset usually sells for Rs 14,999, but the retailer is selling it for just Rs 9,499 as part of the new sale.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Max: The handset is being offered with a discount of Rs 1,250, bringing the cost down to just Rs 17,900.

Sony Xperia XA1: This Sony mid-ranger is going for just Rs 19,990, down by Rs 1,000 compared to its original pricing.

Vivo V5 Plus Limited Edition: This handset too is getting discounted by Rs 1,000, bringing the cost down to just Rs 25,990.

      

A lesson on why accessibility features are so important

I worked at a campus tech shop in college selling computers, tablets and accessories to students of all kinds, each with different needs. Addressing these needs for many of them included things like ensuring that their computer was powerful enough to run the latest applications or finding the right charger for their phone.

I always enjoyed helping people find their fit with tech, but looking back, the highlight of the job came when I had the privilege to assist a student whose needs were far more essential to fulfill.

A student who is blind walked in and asked where the iPads were kept on display. I walked with her over to the stand and once we arrived, I remember feeling stuck, unsure if I could be of much help and, moreso, how an iPad would be of much use for someone with a visual impairment.

Once she selected one on the table, she quickly took it in her hands and began tapping and swiping confidently in patterns I had never seen before. But nothing was happening.

VoiceOver can read blocks of text out loud

“Can you help me activate a few settings?” she asked. After ticking a few boxes within the settings menu, the iPad seemed to turn into a totally different device. Swiping now toggled a cursor between app icons on the homescreen and it read text aloud to guide her as she used many other gestures uniquely made for accessibility purposes.

I had no idea that an iPad was capable of such things. This tablet’s usefulness had grown exponentially for her with just a few quick adjustments. It was an awe-inspiring experience wherein that moment, I realized that it isn’t just a luxury item with which people can waste time reading, playing games and watching movies. For some people, these settings allow them to do things that would otherwise be impossible.

The same way that touch interfaces made interacting with tech easier and more intuitive for non-disabled individuals, it also revolutionized the relationship that some individuals with disabilities have with technology. And it hasn’t stopped there.

Enable everyone with technology

This experience helped me discover another side of technology that I wasn’t aware of before. Seeing how companies devise solutions to ensure operability across such a wide spectrum of users is endlessly fascinating to me.

The big downside to this is that I can’t help but notice that modern consumer technology is all too often made with one type of user in mind. One who is capable of dextrous tasks like walking, talking, sitting upright, navigating complex interfaces with their fingers and more.

Obviously, there’s a problem with that: not everyone can do those things.

So, do tech makers recognize this and create in consideration of people who have disabilities, or do they simply pretend they don’t exist?

There are too many examples of the latter, but thankfully, more tech companies than ever are assuming responsibility for building products that fulfill a broad spectrum of needs. And when this happens, it stirs more passion in me than anything else happening in tech.

This option removes gesture-heavy commands, which makes navigation less demanding physically

Ultimately, that’s why I’m writing this column: to highlight positive movement in the accessibility space as it relates to technology. It’s an area that I don’t think gets enough recognition, even though most of the work that’s being done would impress just about anyone who takes a little time to notice it.

But just as I aim to shine a light on the good, I’m also keen to touch on points where things can be improved in the hopes to keep it top of mind for tech companies and readers alike.

Whether you’re someone who pays close attention to the world of accessibility in technology or you’re just glimpsing curiously from the outside in, I hope you enjoy Enabled.

Enabled is a column that dives into the world of accessibility to reveal how people’s needs are (or are not) being met by today’s technology and offer an in-depth look at the companies that are working to make tech better for all.

If you have a story, tip or just want to share something special, reach Cameron on Twitter @camfaulkner.

      

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