TIME Gadgets

Google Sweetens the Chromebook Deal Ahead of the Holidays

Google Chromebook To Be Available Online On June 15
Google Inc. Chrome and Samsung Electronics Co.'s logos are seen on a Chromebook in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 9, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Free storage promotion runs until the new year

Google is offering a terabyte of free storage with its Chromebook computers for the holiday season, the company announced Friday.

Customers who buy qualifying Chromebooks priced at $199 or more will receive a two-year subscription to Google Drive with a terabyte of free storage space. That amount of space typically costs $9.99 per month, so the deal is worth about $240.

Chromebooks are stripped of many of the programs typically found on PCs, and instead offer apps that are accessed online, like Google Docs. They’ve slowly gained in marketshare since Google first unveiled the barebones laptops in 2011 — Chromebook sales are expected to triple by 2017.

The Google Drive promotion runs through January 1.

TIME Technology & Media

A TV Network Should Buy Aereo. Here’s Why.

Supreme Court Hears Case Pinning Startup Internet TV Company Aereo Against Major Broadcast Networks
In this photo illustration, Aereo.com, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone 4S on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

It would help them compete against Netflix and HBO Go

Aereo, an ambitious startup that aimed to stream live broadcast television to subscribers for a small monthly fee, filed for bankruptcy Friday, months after a devastating loss at the Supreme Court. But it doesn’t have to end this way.

Aereo worked by giving each of its subscribers access to a tiny antenna that picked up broadcast television signals, which were then stored in a cloud server before being beamed over the Internet to users’ laptops or mobile devices, either almost live or well after-the-fact via DVR technology. Subscribers paid about $8 a month for the service, even though broadcasters like NBC and Fox give away their content for free to anyone with an antenna in range of their transmitters, making most of their profits from advertising.

But advertising isn’t the broadcasters’ only revenue stream. Cable companies like Time Warner Cable have for years been legally required to pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit their content to cable subscribers. What sparked the Aereo case is that Aereo didn’t pay those fees, which make up an increasingly large slice of the broadcasters’ revenues. So broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, sued Aereo on copyright grounds. The case ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court, which in June sided against Aereo. Aereo then tried a few legal hail-marys to try saving its business, but as prime Aereo backer Barry Diller admitted over the summer, the game was over once the Court’s gavel was struck.

What I have trouble moving past is that Aereo wasn’t really charging for content, as everything you could watch on the service was free anyway. It was charging for convenience — You could watch Aereo on a laptop or iPhone, and it gave customers access to a cloud-based DVR to store their favorite shows. It also made up for the fact that, here in building-packed New York City at least, the free, over-the-air broadcasts are often difficult to watch with a regular TV aerial. Most of the people I know who used Aereo here did so because they couldn’t get reliable signals from the broadcasters. In this sense, Aereo addressed a technical failure, too. With those factors combined, Aereo was certainly worth eight bucks a month.

The broadcast networks used the courts to pummel Aereo into submission, suing a potential industry disruptor out of existence. But instead of walking away smiling, those broadcasters should realize Aereo only foreshadowed a massive industry shakeup that will change everything about television. As more people cut the cord and switch to on-demand services like Netflix and HBO Go (with the latter soon to be available without a cable subscription), cable television will slowly die out — and take those lucrative retransmission fees with them as it goes. CBS, at least, sees the writing on the door: It’s launching an innovative subscription-based online service, from which it’ll likely make money off ads, too. More broadcasters should realize that cable TV is the past, not the future. And what better, bolder move to make than buying Aereo?

TIME How-To

How to Stop Accidentally Closing Your Browser All the Time

Inside The Google Chromebook Store
The logo of Google Inc. Chrome is seen alongside a Samsung Electronics Co. Chromebook laptop. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Don't be foiled by keyboard shortcuts

If you’re anything like me, you love using keyboard shortcuts to zip around your computer without moving your mouse—some say it’s laziness, I say it’s efficiency. Hitting Control-W or Cmd-W in Chrome or Firefox, for example, lets me easily close a tab once I’m done reading ’19 Reasons ‘Rose’ From Titanic Is a Feminist Hero.’

But if you are anything like me, you also have a nasty habit of hitting the wrong keys about 37% of the time. And guess what’s right next to “W?” That’s “Q,” which, when pressed along with that Control/Cmd key, totally closes your entire browser. Annoying!

Well, there’s something you can do about it.

If you’re using Chrome on a Mac, click “Chrome” on your top toolbar, then check “Warn Before Quitting.” Now, you’ll need to either hold down the Q button or tap it twice to fully close Chrome—no more accidental Cmd-Qs when you meant to Cmd-W. Chrome for Windows lacks this nifty feature, but if you restart Chrome and hit Control + Shift + T, it’ll reopen all the tabs you had open when you accidentally closed Chrome.

For Firefox users on Windows or Mac, the trick takes a little more work. First, open Firefox’s preferences panel and head over to the “Tabs” section. Check “Warn me when closing multiple tabs.” Then, open a new Firefox tab and in the address bar, type about:config. Filter those results by “warnon,” and set all the options that appear to “true.” Then filter for “quit,” and set the “showQuitWarning” to “true.” This won’t work. Huzzah! Now any time you’ve got more than one Firefox tab open, it’ll warn you before quitting.

Happy browsing, Chrome and Firefox users.

TIME Companies

Google Just Took its First Step Back Into China

The Google logo is reflected in windows
The Google logo is reflected in windows of the company's China head office as the Chinese national flag flies in the wind in Beijing on March 23, 2010. AFP/Getty Images

Chinese developers can now sell their apps as exports in Google's app store

Google is trying to woo mobile developers in China.

The search giant has announced that Chinese app developers will now be able to sell apps to Google Play users in more than 130 other countries. It’s one of Google’s first attempts to engage with the Chinese marketplace since leaving the country in 2010 in following conflicts with the government over national censorship policies.

The Google Play Store is severely restricted in China, so app makers in the country will be selling their wares as exports. It’s no surprise that Google is having second thoughts on leaving the country behind: China has more than 600 million Internet users, and that figure is expected to reach 800 million next year.

This olive branch to developers may be the first step in a more ambitious strategy. Google is reportedly looking to partner with a Chinese phone manufacturer or wireless carrier to launch a full-featured version of the Play store in the country, according to the The Information.

TIME

TV-Streaming Startup Aereo Files for Bankruptcy

Supreme Court Rules Aereo Violates Copyrights
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia holds one of the company's small antenna, May 22, 2014. Lane Turner—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Move comes nearly five months after the Supreme Court ruled against the company in a copyright spat with TV networks

Aereo, a startup that allowed users to live-stream television shows, on Friday announced that it had filed for bankruptcy, nearly five months after the Supreme Court ruled against the company in a copyright spat with TV networks.

“Chapter 11 will permit Aereo to maximize the value of its business and assets without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts,” wrote Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia in a blog post on the company’s website. That statement indicated the startup doesn’t intend to fight to keep its service in the market.

Aereo lost a key Supreme Court case in late June, in a 6-3 ruling that found the company’s retransmission of network programming amounted to a “public performance” and therefore must include payments to the broadcast networks, or Aereo would run afoul of copyright laws. After that ruling, Fortune reported that the ruling could have killed off the startup, which had raised nearly $100 million from venture capital firms and Barry Diller’s IAC/Interactive.

Kanojia at times struck a hopeful tone in his blog post, saying he felt the current television experience provided few options and that costs were “unreasonably high and rising.” He said Aereo had intended to provide an alternative to “how they watch local live TV. That’s how Aereo came to live.” Founded in 2012, the company allowed users to stream and even digitally record live broadcast television provided they pay for the service for between $8 to $12 a month, depending on the plan.

The startup faced a legal challenge by the major TV networks, which sued Aereo in federal court in New York, citing copyright infringement and asking the court to close the startup down.

After winning a few lower court decisions, Aereo faced a loss at the Supreme Court in June, a defeat Kanojia said “has proven difficult to overcome.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Toys

Nintendo Wants to Cash In on the Toy Industry’s New Billion-Dollar Craze

"Toys to life" genre combines virtual play with classic action figures

In Nintendo’s wildly popular fighting game series Super Smash Bros., action figures spring to life so they can pummel each other in multiplayer bouts. When the next installment in the series debuts Friday on the Wii U, that fantasy will actually come close to reality. Along with the new game, Nintendo is launching a line of toy figurines that can actually be transferred into the digital world of Smash Bros. to fight against the game’s rowdy characters.

The new toys, called amiibo, are the latest entrants in the rapidly growing “toys to life” sector, a melding of the physical toys of yesteryear and the software kids now enjoy on their tablets and video game consoles. The idea is to expand the play kids are already enjoying in virtual games into the physical world—and let video game companies generate a tidy profit selling figurines and peripherals in the process.

The concept was first proven a hit by Activision, which launched its Skylanders video game franchise in 2011. In that series, gamers can purchase dozens of different figurines embedded with an electronic chip. When players place the figures on a special peripheral that can scan the chip, the characters are transported into Skylanders‘ virtual world. As the character levels up in the virtual world, so does the figurine. If a kid takes his figure over to a friend’s house to play, it’ll retain the same data from his own game.

“By combining the immersive world of video games with the physical connection that kids have with action figures, it was incredibly powerful,” says John Coyne, Activision’s senior vice president of consumer marketing.

While Activision made toys-to-life games viable, Disney has been able to leverage its massive trove of iconic intellectual property to popularize the genre even more. The company’s Disney Infinity series uses technology like that used by Skylanders to let gamers place their figurine characters into virtual worlds based on hit Disney properties like Brave and Lilo & Stitch. A separate, open-ended mode lets players create their own worlds, populate them with Disney characters and share them online.

“It’s very much about building things in there and kind of telling your own stories,” says John Blackburn, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Infinity.

Experts say these titles have been a hit because they spark kids’ imaginations more than a traditional video game can. “It’s really an extension of what kids want naturally, which is to not really have parameters in how they play,” says Liam Callahan, an analyst at research firm NPD. “It’s about breaking down that barrier.”

Skylanders and Disney Infinity have generated $600 million in software sales and nearly $1 billion in hardware sales in the U.S. between them since the genre was first introduced in 2011, according to NPD. Sales in the sector have risen 22% in the last year. Exactly who’s leading the market is a point of contention—Disney Infinity sold more than any version of Skylanders in 2013, but the latest version of Skylanders outsold Disney’s new Marvel-focused Infinity game in October.

It’s not yet clear how Nintendo will fit into this increasingly competitive space. Skylanders and Disney Infinity perform best on Nintendo consoles, according to NPD, which means Nintendo already has a user base actively interested in toys-to-life games. The strength of Nintendo’s intellectual property is also a selling point, as is the ability to use amiibo in games across different genres on the company’s Wii U system, like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. “These characters have tremendous fan bases already,” says Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president for sales and marketing.

Whether these titles will become a permanent fixture in gaming remains to be seen. A few years ago, millions of gamers were buying plastic musical instruments to play games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero—now those titles are forgotten in bargain bins. But toys-to-life titles may evolve in more dynamic ways than past gaming fads. A new entrant called Anki Drive, for instance, has melded a mobile game with actual stock cars that players can race on a physical track, directing them with a smartphone and the cars’ built-in AI. The cars saw limited retail exposure in 2013 but will be available at Toys R Us and Target this holiday season.

The Anki Drive game uses AI-enabled stock cars that players can control with their smartphones.

The success of these physical toys in an age when apps dominate our lives shows that the next generation doesn’t want play with only their thumbs — there’s hope yet for the real world. “At the end of the day, it’s still very classic play,” says Chris Byrne, a toy industry analyst at Time to Play Magazine. “The technology has just made the toy box bigger.”

TIME Gadgets

Thanksgiving Survival Guide: 8 Gadgets to Keep the Family at Bay

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Thanksgiving dinner Bruce Ayres—Getty Images

Remember to bring a nice pair of headphones

We all know what Thanksgiving is supposed to look like: cute grandkids, fond memories and turkey dinners as polished as a Pinterest board. But let’s be honest: Even if we love grandpa, we’ve heard the same story every year since 2003. We’d rather talk movies than aunt Mildred’s political platform. And maybe it’s time uncle Larry laid off the Merlot.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a Thanksgiving survival guide: eight gadgets for putting up with eight troublesome family members.

The relative: Grandpa

The problem: Tells the same story 13 times in a row

The solution: Headphones

We’ll admit: this is a delicate one. After more than 80 years of hard work, tough luck and thankless children, the least grandpa deserves is a glass of scotch and some listening ears. It’s just that you already know exactly when he thinks the country “took a wrong turn” and precisely “how things were at your age.” So instead of telling your gramps to keep quiet, wait for the right moment and throw on a pair of discrete noise-cancelling headphones.

Our recommendation:

The Audio Technica ATH ANC23BK’s are low-profile, affordable and well-reviewed—the perfect pair to slip in once grandpa rounds the country’s-gone-to-pot bend for the sixth straight time.

The relative: Aunt

The problem: Can’t stop talking about politics

The solution: A lightweight laptop

There’s one aunt in every family who has a knack—even talent—for turning every conversation back to politics. Your body armor? A light, inconspicuous laptop. Each time your aunt raises her finger with another opinion, calmly perform a search to confirm or refute her claims. The key here is de-escalation: you’re simply the keeper of a small fact-checking tool, not a worthy antagonist.

Our recommendation:

With a sleek frame and 12 hours of battery life, the MacBook Air 13-inch is the ideal device—small enough not to threaten your aunt but efficient enough to outlast even the most tireless debater. Problem solved.

The relative: Grandma

The problem: Assumes command of the entire house

The solution: A vacuum cleaner

It’s a familiar story. Grandma arrives, the family members hug, and after two quiet beats, the power shifts, imperceptibly, from hosts to matriarch. Grandma is now in charge. Get caught watching football, and you’ll be summoned to wash the potatoes. Flip on your phone, and you’ll be lectured for ignoring the family. The answer is a luxury vacuum—the sort of device that simultaneously says “I’m working” and “don’t bother me.” Even grandma can’t blame you for checking Twitter while hunting for dust bunnies.

Our recommendation:

More tech marvel than classic vacuum, the Dyson DC40-Origin handles like a dream and maneuvers like butter. After two minutes, you’ll volunteer for full-time vacuum duty. And besides: that carpet in front of the Cowboys-Eagles game isn’t going to vacuum itself.

The relative: Dad

The problem: Just a little too protective of the turkey

The solution: An outdoor grill

If there’s one thing men do well, it’s internalizing stress from work and taking it out on loved ones. For dads, this means demanding complete control over all turkey-related matters, from cook time to temperature to presentation. Our advice? Double-down. Buy dad a BBQ grill so he can have his own private workspace. Instead of grumbling from two feet away while you mash the potatoes, he’ll be standing outside, manning the grill and ignoring suppressed feelings of incompetence. But don’t worry about the weather: dads thrive in the cold.

Our recommendation:

With seven separate burners and gobs of space, dad can prepare the whole meal on a single Napoleon Mirage 7-Burner. If nothing else, it’ll help him forget how cramped he is in his work cubicle.

The relative: Nephew

The problem: Just a little too proud of his new job

The solution: A big tablet built for productivity

You’re 15 minutes into dinner when your nephew finally rolls in, loudly ending a phone call while running his hand through a $300 haircut. He drags a chair up to an empty slot at the table, noisily removes his coat, then tells the family he doesn’t “mean to interrupt.” Five minutes later, he launches into a 30-minute treatise on his new company’s “sales philosophy.”

Our recommendation:

You can’t beat him, so play into his unbridled enthusiasm with a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Casually leave the device on the coffee table, preferably open to a PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet. With any luck, he’ll spot the device and snap into corporate mode, critiquing the slides or reviewing the balance sheet. Meanwhile, the rest of the family can get back to arguing about The Voice.

The relative: Niece

The problem: Obnoxiously smart

The solution: A pre-loaded e-reader

Smart, industrious and impossibly successful, the Ivy League-educated niece is a staple at Thanksgiving. Publicly, everyone applauds her achievements, but privately, you’re just sick of all the one-upping. Your son passed his high school biology class; your niece just got into Harvard Medical School. Your daughter wrote an op-ed for your town’s dying newspaper; your niece is already a syndicated columnist for The New York Times. The best defense? Load up a few academic journals—or better yet, her textbooks—on an e-reader, then see that she finds it shortly after dinner. The overachiever in her will spend the rest of the evening reviewing biochemistry and less time reminding everyone how average they are.

Our recommendation:

The Kindle Voyage is the company’s latest e-reader, and still the class of the market, with better lighting, an improved screen and the best e-ink tech in the business.

The relative: Uncle

The problem: Three bottles deep by 2 p.m.

The solution: Wine chiller

You wouldn’t say your uncle has a problem, but there’s just something about turkey, family and the holidays that brings about an overly festive spirit. Without a proper plan, he’ll be drunk by lunch and asleep by dinner. The answer: buy a wine chiller. With a pane of glass and semblance of order, your uncle’s consumption will slow just enough to keep him in the “silly” zone before he spills over to “slob.”

Our recommendation:

With two temperature zones and a surprisingly affordable price for its features, the Winter WC-212BD is a solid choice for any wine enthusiast. As a backup plan, tell your uncle he can “manage the temperature zones:” he’ll be so excited about dividing Pinot Noir from Pinot Grigio that he might just skip a glass.

The relative: Mom

The problem: Wants five full family photos on the hour, every hour

The solution: A wide-angle camera lens

They might be terrible shots by any objective photographic standard, but it’s just a fact: Moms love staged family photos. Humor her by supplying her with a wide angle camera lens. Instead of the usual 15-minute circus (step closer; okay, turn your shoulders; I still can’t see you), she’ll be able to snap the pic in 10 seconds flat, even if your tipsy uncle is still trudging over from the opposite side of the room.

Our recommendation:

With a minimum focal length of 10mm, the Tamron SP 10-24mm is an extremely wide-angle lens, perfect for family photo efficiency. It’s got plenty of space to fit everyone in the frame, while it’s acceptable to Mom and respectful of personal space: a win-win.

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TIME apps

The 10 Best iPad Apps for Whipping Up Thanksgiving Dinner

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Woman with Thanksgiving turkey. Brian Leatart—Getty Images

Close those cookbooks, tablets are the hottest tool in the kitchen now.

Times change, but traditions persevere. Every year, American families gather to give thanks on the fourth Thursday of November, but what was used to bring the meal together is constantly evolving over time. With e-books and apps having supplanted print media, it’s time to prop up your iPad on the counter and follow its easy-to-read recipes, rather than squint at small-print and lose your place on the page.

With these great cooking apps, the meal will taste as good as always — but it will be simpler than ever to cook:

Setting the table

If countless food reality shows have taught the world anything, it’s that presentation is paramount when it comes to pulling together a great meal. On Thanksgiving, that begins with crafting a great centerpiece, a task which Pinterest seems to be born for. The popular idea-sharing social site gives users a bulletin board type interface for “pinning” pictures, and searching for the term “thanksgiving centerpiece” creates a near-infinite scroll full of great table setting ideas.

Thanksgiving: A Bon Appétit Manual gives Turkey Day veterans and green bean beginners alike some great ideas for running the holiday. For example, the free app’s scheduling tool helps coordinate everything that goes into preparing the perfect family feast, and technique videos ensure that you know how baste, brown, and boil like a pro.

Meanwhile, Fine Cooking’s Thanksgiving Menu Maker is praised by users for how well it organizes the entire cooking process. For instance, the $.99 app has 75 dishes to choose from, and after you pick them, a grocery list and detailed schedule are automatically generated, even telling you what to buy and do the week before the celebration.

Warming up the oven

Apple’s App Store overflows with recipe apps — you probably already have a favorite or two already. But you may have overlooked Food52, because it focusses on holiday parties, not everyday dishes. Its 127 recipes have step-by-step walkthroughs, with more than 800 high-resolution photos to help you dish up everything from main courses to candy. It’s got a $3.99 price tag, but the app’s 11 cocktail recipes will make you feel better about that.

The secret to baking a great dessert — at least with an iPad — is Dorie Greenspan. The six-time James Beard Award-winning cookbook author has some mouthwatering pies in her free Baking with Dorie app. (though in-app purchases charge for individual recipes — hey, even experts have to eat!)

But when it comes to prepping the bird, trust no app other than Butterball Cookbook Plus. This free app doesn’t know what brand of turkey you took home with you, but it will give you recipes like Apple Cider Marinated Turkey and Brined Brown Sugar Turkey. I’m already hungry.

Cooking smarter

Flashy layouts and video instruction are great kitchen additions, but the iPad has the ability to do a lot more. For instance, the $4.99 iCookbook app is worth every penny, just just because it has more than 2,000 recipes loaded into it, but it also has a voice-activated commands, so you won’t get food on the screen when swiping and tapping.

Choreographing all your dishes to cook correctly with just the timer on the stovetop can result in burnt buns, cold potatoes, and mushy peas. KitchenPad Timer can keep track of all your burners and the oven, for a $1.99. Not only does it track the time, but it also will remember the temperature your dishes are cooking at.

And lastly, How to Cook Everything is a must-have, especially for any ill-equipped bachelors tapped to bring something to a potluck-type affair. A port of the best-selling cookbook, this $4.99 app is a great value, not just for the 2,000 recipes, but for how it integrates with built-in timers, the calendar app and printing and emailing recipes.

Remembering all the ingredients

Inevitably, while making a multi-course meal, ingredients will go missing, or whole dishes will go awry. Thankfully, software like the $1.99 Substitutions app are ready at the download to save a meal in seconds flat. Designed to swap out missing ingredients or tweak recipes to accommodate guests’ food preferences or allergies, this easy-to-navigate app is full of practical suggestions on how to better tap your pantry.

Meanwhile, Kraft Food’s free iFood Assistant app has a preference for using its brands (like Velveeta, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and Jell-O) as the fixings for dishes, but with 7,000 recipes and a great search functionality, it’s pretty easy to stir up some home cooking in no time at all.

If that’s still not enough, you’ll need to make a store run. But don’t leave your kitchen with the oven going — grocery delivery apps like Peapod are ready to take your order and bring the goods to your door. This free app can get your delivery done in 24 markets across the U.S., but if it doesn’t work for you, search the app store for your favorite grocery store, because they may have an alternative.

TIME Security

These Are the Top 10 Telemarketer Area Codes

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Young man in call center Richard Drury—Getty Images

You're most likely to get spam calls from these area codes

Do you get a little pang of anxiety whenever your phone gets called from an unfamiliar, unlisted phone number? Personally, I always do. These calls could be from an important business contact, so I try to answer them when I can. But more often than not, they’re just nuisance spam calls.

Thankfully, there are ways to spot a spam call before you pick up the phone. Recently, the folks at Whitepages analyzed the 2.5 billion calls and texts routed through its Caller ID app to look for patterns that might identify telemarketers. They found that some area codes are home to far more spam callers than others, and came up with a listing of the top 10 spam area codes in the United States.

Aside from the popularly used toll-free number exchanges (800, 866, 877, 888, 855), the top spam area code is Detroit’s 313. Houston’s 713, Fort Lauderdale’s 954 and Atlanta’s 404 are also popular homes to telemarketer phone banks. The full list is as follows:

1. 313 – Detroit
2. 713 – Houston
3. 954 – Fort Lauderdale
4. 404 – Atlanta
5. 484 – Eastern and Southeastern Pennsylvania
6. 407 – Orlando
7. 214 – Dallas
8. 202 – Washington, D.C.
9. 972 – Dallas
10. 205 – Birmingham

These cities aren’t necessarily home to more spammers and scammers than others — just their phone exchanges are. These days, it’s easy for people to register and use phone numbers in virtually any area code regardless of location, so long as numbers are left available. A shrinking city like Detroit has a large number of unused phone numbers in its 313 bank, so there are plenty of lines for spammers to access. An established area code like New York City’s prestigious 212, meanwhile, has no phone numbers left to be registered and is thus is an unlikely source for telemarketing calls.

There are a wide number of technological solutions for stopping telemarketers beyond avoiding calls from a certain area code. Registering your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry at donotcall.gov is the best place to start. Smartphone owners can also download the Truecaller app, which automatically flags calls from known spammers. You should check out our How to Block Telemarketers guide for more tips, apps and carrier options. And, of course, the best offense is always a good defense, so be aware of the top 7 ways telemarketers get your cell phone number.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious. More from Techlicious:

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TIME National Security

NSA Says Chinese Cyber Attacks Could Shut Down U.S. Infrastructure

Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee Nov. 20, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee Nov. 20, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Director says China can damage U.S. power grid

(WASHINGTON) — China and “one or two” other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command.

The possibility of such cyberattacks by U.S. adversaries has been widely known, but never confirmed publicly by the nation’s top cyber official.

At a hearing of the House intelligence committee, Rogers said U.S. adversaries are performing electronic “reconnaissance” on a regular basis so that they can be in a position to disrupt the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.

“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of when, not if, we are going to see something dramatic,” he said.

Outside experts say the U.S. Cyber Command also has the capability to hack into and damage critical infrastructure, which in theory should amount to mutual deterrence. But Rogers, who did not address his offensive cyber tools, said the nuclear deterrence model did not necessarily apply to cyberattacks.

Only a handful of countries had nuclear capability during the Cold War, he said, and nuclear attacks could be detected and attributed in time to retaliate.

By contrast, the source of a cyberattack can easily be disguised, and the capability do significant damage is possessed not only by nation states but by criminal groups and individuals, Rogers noted.

In cyberspace, “You can literally do almost anything you want, and there is not a price to pay for it,” the NSA director said.

Roger’s remarks about critical infrastructure attacks came in response to questioning from Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan, who chairs the intelligence committee. He asked the NSA director about a private report detailing China-based intrusions into the power grid and other critical systems that appeared to be precursors to attack. What other countries, the chairman wanted to know, have the capability?

“One or two others,” the NSA director said, but he declined to name them, saying the information is classified. “We’re watching multiple nation states invest in this capability.”

Rogers said the Obama administration is seeking to establish a set of international principles governing military cyber operations, such as banning attacks on hospitals.

“We need to define what would be offensive, what’s an act of war,” he said.

The NSA’s Rogers also talked about the national security damage from the ongoing theft of intellectual property through cyberattacks.

Michigan’s Rogers opened the hearing by saying that “China’s economic cyber espionage … has grown exponentially in terms of volume and damage done to our nation’s economic future. The Chinese intelligence services that conduct these attacks have little to fear because we have no practical deterrents to that theft. This problem is not going away until that changes.”

China formally denies stealing Western intellectual property through government sponsored hacking.

U.S. networks would be better protected, the NSA’s Rogers said, if Congress would pass a long-pending bill to allow companies to share malware signatures and other threat information with one another and with the government and be protected from liability by doing so. But the disclosures of NSA spying by former agency contractor Edward Snowden have made passage of such a bill extremely difficult, lawmakers say.

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