This new Microsoft PowerToys update could be the least exciting ever, but you should still install it

Microsoft has released a new update for its PowerToys utility suite for Windows 10 and Windows 11, which may be one of the least exciting for a while.

Microsoft’s PowerToys v0.55.2 is available for download now, but doesn't come with any new features or upgrades. Instead, it packs an important security update that addresses a security flaw discovered in the previous release.

That means that even though it doesn't sound particularly interesting, PowerToys users should still install the update immediately to make sure their systems stay protected.

PowerToys security

“This is a patch release to fix issues in v0.55.1. due to an installer bug and .NET 5 doing an update for the runtime,” the official changelog for the release reads. “We deemed (it) important for stability based on incoming rates.”

PowerToys users can install the update now by going to the Settings menu, then General > Updates > Check for updates.

Although perhaps not a commonly-known app for most users, PowerToys allows Windows users the chance to optimize their software for maximum efficiency and productivity.

PowerToys is an open source suite of tools for advanced Windows users, designed to help bypass certain settings and perform actions that are unavailable by default. It also offers a wider range of customization options.

Since PowerToys was rebooted in 2019, Microsoft has serviced the suite regularly with new tools and features, a pattern extended with the latest release. 

This includes the recent inclusion of a mouse crosshair tool that lets users quickly identify the location of their cursor using a keyboard shortcut, and two new File Explorer add-ons that dramatically expand the number of file types supported by the preview pane, including support for 3D printers.

A further PowerToys update earlier in 2022 also included several useful additions, including an “Always on Top” utility that allows users to toggle a window in focus to be on top with a quick press of Win + Ctrl + T. Microsoft also changed the hotkey to mute your webcam and microphone from Win + N to Win + Shift + Q to avoid conflict with an existing Windows 11 keyboard shortcut.

The latest version of PowerToys is available via both the Microsoft Store and the GitHub page.

Via: MSPowerUser

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WhatsApp is making voice messages look more exciting

Voice messages are, by their very nature, an audio experience – but this is something that WhatsApp is looking to change. When you receive a voice message form a contact (or, indeed, if you send one yourself), you will be used to seeing a progress bar during playback.

This is a handy visual aid that helps let you know how long a message is and how much more there is to listen to. But now the feature is getting a bit of an upgrade to make it more visually appealing thanks to voice waveforms.

We've seen WhatsApp playing around with waveforms previously, with Android users who are signed up for the beta program having been given a sneaky glimpse at the feature. But it was only a brief look, as voice waveforms were swiftly disabled without a word of explanation

However, they appear to be back. The fact that the new visual accompaniment to voice messages is now available for iOS and Android beta testers (but still only beta testers) could be indicative of the feature being almost complete and ready for an even wider rollout. But what's all the fuss about?

Sound and vision

On one hand, these are just pretty animations to watch while you listen to a message you have received. On the other, they are helpful visual tools that can be reassuring when there is a period of silence in a message; if there is no activity in the waveform, you can safely assume that there is no sound to hear, rather than there being a problem with your speakers… or ears.

As is often the case with WhatsApp, although this new feature is being made available to beta testers, it is not necessarily going to be available to all beta testers immediately. It's something that's controlled server-side, so while ensuring that you have the latest version of the app installed is undoubtedly a good idea, it's sadly no guarantee of getting access to voice wave forms right now.

WABetaInfo reports that WhatsApp beta for Android 2.21.25.11 and WhatsApp beta for iOS 2.21.240.18 are compatible with the feature, so make sure that you have one of these installed for the best possible change of getting to try out the new feature.

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It is a very exciting time to be in high-performace computing market: AMD chief

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su said that it is a "very exciting time" to be in the high-performance computing market.

Speaking at the "Masters of Leadership Series” webcast, organised by Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) and Consumer Technology Association, she said that Covid19 has seen difficult times across the world but what has helped is the power of computing for remote working and remote learning.

“I am very excited about where high-performance computing (HPC) is going in the future compared to where we are today. HPCs could do amazing things in solving difficult problems and making our daily lives different,” she said.

Computing is really important in certain large markets, she said and added that the PC market is worth more than $ 30b while the data centres market is valued at more than $ 30b and the gaming market is worth about $ 12b.

“There are really large opportunities out there and they all require more computing horsepower. We were able to do some good things during Covid19 such as providing capacity to data centres and have seen a large interest in laptops,” Su said.

Moreover, she said that households which had one PC have changed completely and people have realised that it has become one of the fundamentals of communication and connectivity.

“I am excited about how computing can do to accelerate solutions to some of the problems and we have been participating with the White House computing taskforce for pandemic research,” she said.

Pushing the envelopes of technology

AMD has donated seven petaflops of supercomputing clusters to New York University (NYU), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Rice University and these clusters utilise AMD technologies such as Epyc CPUs and Radeon Instinct GPUs to help accelerate the development of potential therapeutics and vaccines. 

“Once the Covid-19 crisis is over, the HPC systems will support future medical research. I am lucky right now that I am running an important company in technology but at the end of the day, I love building things and pushing the envelopes of technology,” Su said.

Su was born in Taiwan and her family migrated to New York when she was two years old.

“I am a New Yorker at heart,” she said and added that the thought process was there are a few companies in the US that are doing high-performance microprocessor design.

After spending eight years at Boston at MIT and a large portion of her career at IBM in building semiconductor and microelectronics, Su joined the 51-year-old AMD in 2014.

“I started in that area and wanted to be a semiconductor CEO and AMD was my dream job. My interest in semiconductors is how we can use the technology to do a lot of good things,” she said.

However, she said that what AMD is really good at is building high-performance computing with an incredible amount of horsepower in people’s hands but it takes time to build the foundation and “we took time to build the foundation and reach where we are today”.

Highest paid CEO in 2019

When asked about being the highest-paid CEO in S&P 500 companies and the first woman to top the list, she said: “It is all about opportunities and there are a lot of smart people in this world but the fact is that you not only need to be smart but you also have to be in the right place at the right time and the right circumstance”.

According to a study conducted by Associated Press and Equilar Fee Analysis Executive Company, since it began in 2011, Su earned a total of $ 58.5m in 2019, nearly $ 13m more than Discovery Inc David Zaslav, who earned $ 45.m, the next highest-paid male CEO.

The study found that the average compensation for female executives was $ 13.9m compared to $ 12.3m for males, although there were far fewer women than men on the list.

 “I was very lucky because I had mentors and gave me good opportunities and I was able to capitalise on these opportunities but when we look at the diversity aspect of it, we haven’t done enough as much progress there has been and still there are not enough women in the leadership positions.

“I believe that it is because opportunities are not necessarily being presented in such a way,” Su said.   

When asked about the working norms after Covid-19, she said that working norms will change and “we all talk about what the new norms might be. Some of the changes are clearer than others. One thing is clear is that we are not going to travel and we have learned that we can do a lot by using communications tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx even though it is not quite the same as face-to-face meetings”. 

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The TCL 10 Pro isn’t the best phone of 2020, but it’s exciting nevertheless

The TCL 10 Pro isn’t the best smartphone in the world – and in fact, it didn’t even break into our main list of the top 15 phones you can buy right now – but nevertheless, I'm excited to see it on virtual shop shelves.

The TCL 10 Pro received three stars out of five from TechRadar, and we called it “not a bad phone” with a further (and more damning) clarification that “you can get so much more for the money, whether you’re minded towards Android or iOS.”

For clarity, I didn’t review the TCL 10 Pro for TechRadar so I haven’t used the handset extensively, but I’m excited because this phone shows there’s still space for new entrants in the mobile market.

Welcome to a new contender

That quote from our review is quite damning, right? But that doesn't mean we want TCL to give up. In fact, I want TCL to see that criticism (and it’s not just us, a lot of our rival tech publications seem to agree with our review of the phone) and run further with a sequel.

TCL entering the phone game with its own branding is an exciting move. Previously, the company has produced handsets through its sub brands of Alcatel and BlackBerry, both of which catered to a very different niche than TCL is trying to target with the 10 Pro.

BlackBerry handsets under TCL haven't thrived, but they've consistently offered a business-focused experience that you can't really get anywhere else. Alcatel on the other hand has been consistently producing some of the best affordable phones on the market.

With the TCL brand becoming more and more recognized in the TV market, it makes sense for the company to apply the name – and the methodology associated with it – to smartphones too.

That methodology involves offering a quality product, but making some necessary cuts to ensure it comes in at an affordable price, which is what it has tried to do with the TCL 10 Pro.

TCL 10 Pro

The rear cameras on the TCL 10 Pro

The TCL 10 Pro isn't looking to compete with the very top-end handsets for a lower price. This isn’t going to be the phone you consider instead of a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra or iPhone 11 Pro Max, but it may be an alternative to a Samsung Galaxy A90 5G or even something like the OnePlus 8.

And while the TCL 10 Pro isn't entirely successful, with the experience of making that phone behind it, whatever comes next from TCL may be a true contender for the very best mid-range phone that money can buy.

No matter what, we now have another major manufacturer with a lot of money behind it – along with experience in the consumer tech market – going full throttle and developing 5G handsets for the mid-range mobile phone space. 

That's exciting, and while I won't be recommending the TCL 10 Pro itself to people, I'm excited to see what the company is capable of doing next.

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