Google has been tracking nearly everything you buy online

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Google has been quietly keeping track of nearly every single online purchase you’ve ever made, thanks to purchase receipts sent to your personal Gmail account, according to a new report today from CNBC. Even stranger: this information is made available to you via a private web tool that’s been active for an indeterminate amount of time. You can go view it here.

According to CNBC, the company says it does not use this information for personalized ad tracking; Google said back in 2017 that it would stop using data collected from Gmail messages to personalize ads. You can also delete the information from the Purchases webpage, but you must do so individually for each recorded transaction.

Google, like Facebook, knows an immense amount of information about you, your personal habits, and, yes, what you buy on the internet. And like the social network it dominates the online advertising industry alongside, Google gets this information mostly through background data collection using methods and tools its users may not be fully aware of, like Gmail purchase receipts. This is true of web tools like Gmail and smart assistants, which are increasingly coming under scrutiny for the ways the data that software collects is observed by human employees during the artificial intelligence training process.

Microsoft brings PowerToys back to let anyone improve Windows 10 for power users

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Microsoft first introduced the concept of “PowerToys” in Windows 95. It was originally a way for Windows engineers to test a prototype feature, and Microsoft packaged some of the best ones into a PowerToys bundle. These PowerToys included popular utilities like Tweak UI to customize the Windows user interface, Quick Res to quickly change screen resolutions, and Send To X that let you send files and folders to the command line, clipboard, or desktop.

PowerToys disappeared after Windows XP, during a time when co-founder Bill Gates ordered a security review of everything that was going into Windows. These useful utilities are now being revived by Microsoft in a new effort to focus on what power users need in Windows 10. The software giant is open-sourcing PowerToys on GitHub, so anyone can contribute and create power user tools for Windows 10.

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The first two utilities that Microsoft is working on for Windows 10 are a new maximize to desktop widget and a Windows key shortcut guide. The maximize to desktop widget places a pop-up button over the maximize button when you hover over it. It’s designed to let you quickly send an app to another desktop, utilizing Windows 10’s multi-desktop view. The Windows shortcut guide utility simply shows a keyboard shortcut guide when you hold down the Windows key.

Microsoft is also considering 10 other utilities for these new PowerToys for Windows 10:

  1. Full window manager, including specific layouts for docking and undocking laptops
  2. Keyboard shortcut manager
  3. Win+R replacement
  4. Better alt+tab including browser tab integration and search for running apps
  5. Battery tracker
  6. Batch file re-namer
  7. Quick resolution swaps in task bar
  8. Mouse events without focus
  9. Cmd (or PS or Bash) from here
  10. Contents menu file browsing

Microsoft is looking for feedback and contributions over on GitHub, much like how the company recently open-sourced its Windows calculator for additional input and ideas. That effort resulted in a graphing mode being added to the Windows calculator. Microsoft is now planning to preview these PowerToys utilities in the summer, alongside the corresponding source code being published on GitHub.

GitHub Package Registry

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From today, GitHub Package Registry, a package management service that makes it easy to publish public or private packages next to your source code, is fully integrated with GitHub, so you can use the same search, browsing, and management tools to find and publish packages as you do for your repositories. You can also use the same user and team permissions to manage code and packages together. GitHub Package Registry provides fast, reliable downloads backed by GitHub’s global CDN. And it supports familiar package management tools: JavaScript (npm), Java (Maven), Ruby (RubyGems), .NET (NuGet), and Docker images, with more to come.

You can try GitHub Package Registry today in limited beta. It will always be free to use for open source—more pricing details will be announced soon.

Sign up for the beta

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