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Violent Python

Web development, programming languages, Software testing & others

Violent Python Book

Following are some violent python book:

The authors

The book has been primarily authored by TJ O’Connor, with Mark Baggett as Technical Editor and Rob Frost authoring one chapter on Web Reconnaissance. Here is a look at the background that each contributor/author brings:

TJ O’Connor

A former paratrooper in the US Army and information security expert for the Department of Defense. He taught undergraduate courses on exploitation, forensics and information assurance while an assistant professor at the US Military Academy. He also co-coached the winning team twice at the annual Cyber Defense Exercise of the National Security Agency. He graduated with a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from North Carolina State University and a Master of Science degree in Information Security Engineering from the SANS Technical Institute.

Rob Frost

Robert Frost was commissioned into the Army Signal Corps after graduating from the US Military Academy in 2011. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with honors, and his thesis focused on open-source information gathering. In the 2011 Cyber Defense Exercise, he was an individually recognized member of the national championship team for his ability to circumvent rules.

Mark Baggett

Violent Python – The Background

For those of you who are not familiar with cookbook-type resources, the content of this Violent Python, a cookbook for hackers, is made of several short self-paced scripts focused on specific tasks. It ultimately shows just how powerful a few lines of Python can be. Seriously, the longest recipes in this Violent Python book hardly go past 100 lines.

Keep in mind that the book is heavily focused on the ‘dark arts’ of Python, and you won’t find direct material for general programming with the language. However, you can definitely learn some tricks and tips by working the exercises. The recipes have been made in a modular design for code reusability, and the codes can be used for larger projects.

A closer look at the Violent Python book

Before we look closer at Violent Python, it should be noted that the source code files for the recipes are located on its Syngress homepage. However, it is recommended that you write the code right from the top for better learning and retention. In any case, if you want the code quickly and easily, you know where to find it.

Here is a look at each chapter of the Violent Python book:

1. Introduction

The first chapter gives you an introduction to Python in general, starting with background information on the language itself. It quickly jumps into the meat, introducing you to variables, data types, iteration, selection, functions and more. It also shows you how to work with modules and takes you through some simple programs.

2. Penetration Testing with Python

This chapter introduces you to the idea of using Python for scripting attacks for penetration testing. The examples include constructing an SSH botnet, building a port scanner, writing an exploit, replicating Conficker and mass-compromising via FTP.

3. Forensic Investigations with Python

This chapter focuses on using Python for digital forensic investigations. It gives examples for recovering deleted items, geo-locating individuals, extracting artifacts from the Windows registry, examining document metadata and investigating mobile device and application artifacts.

4. Network Traffic Analysis with Python

This chapter teaches you to use Python for analyzing network traffic. The scripts are given here focus on geo-locating IP addresses from packet captures, analyzing botnet traffic, investigating popular DDoS toolkits, discovering decoy scans, and foiling intrusion detection systems.

5. Wireless Mayhem with Python

This chapter focuses on Bluetooth and wireless devices. It provides examples of how to parse and sniff wireless traffic, identifies hidden wireless networks, builds a wireless keylogger, remotely command unmanned aerial vehicles, identifies malicious wireless toolkits being used, exploits the vulnerabilities of Bluetooth and stalks Bluetooth radios.

6. Web Recon With Python

This chapter examines using Python for scrapping the internet for information, with examples including how to anonymously browse the web through Python, scrape popular social media websites, work with developer APIs and create a spear-phishing email.

7. Antivirus Evasion with Python

This final chapter shows you how to build malware that evades anti-virus programs. It also shows you how to build a script for uploading the malware against an online antivirus scanner. It uses malicious code from the Metasploit framework to generate some C-style shellcode. A simple Windows bandshell is used to bind the chúng tôi process to a TCP port that you choose, enabling you to remotely connect to a machine and issue commands interacting with the chúng tôi process.

More about the Violent Python book

As you can see, Violent Python covers some rather interesting subjects for hackers and those interested in information security. It has dozens of recipes packed into its 288 pages, and you would probably be surprised by the type of results that are easily achieved with Python.

Unfortunately, the recipes are enumerated in detail, so you have to do a bit of research on your own to find out how and why some of the codings work. Nevertheless, this is a great starting point to learn more about Python’s information security abilities and get surprised by the language’s sheer depth. Here is a look at some of the more interesting recipes that the Violent Python book covers:

Developing offline and online password crackers

Recreating Conficker

Interacting with Metasploit and Nmap

Delivering an exploit for a stack-based buffer overflow

Exploiting SQLite databases, the Windows registry, and iTunes backups

Correlating network traffic to physical locations and developing Google Earth-based maps

Building an SSH Botnet

Evading anti-virus systems and IDS

Parsing websites, Tweets, and metadata

Creating social engineering email campaigns

Hijacking a drone

Performing Bluetooth-based attacks

Parsing and logging wireless traffic

In addition, several exploitations given in the book discuss the possible actions that a particular code block, rather than giving a line-by-line explanation of the code. For those who can read common statements in Python, it will be easier to faster to understand and implement the core material. However, if you have little to no experience with the language, you may find the Violent Python book a little overwhelming. If you want to have a better experience, it is best to go for Google’s free two-day course or opt for other short hands-on courses (which are generally free) on Python fundamentals.

Now, you may think from what has been given so far that Violent Python is for higher-level programmers, but it is important to note that you do not need expert-level language skills to appreciate the book material. If you like to jump in and learn through trial-and-error and get your hands dirty, then this is something definitely worth trying. In fact, you can learn general uses of Python and learn the information security material given in this book at the same time. As for the code, it is as simple and clean as possible. The code is well-written and well-structured, and narrative otherwise is kept casual to make things easier, with jargon usage kept to a minimum.

Most of the content should be accessible even to novices that have a weak grasp of the jargon and lack experience. At the same time, the kind of material present in this book is just too unique and interesting to be ignored, even for experienced Python developers.

The authors have also given quite a bit of thought and care to the recipes to make them meaningful instead of just making them overly flashy. Also, while the scripts have been structured in modules, this book is not just a collection of copied-and-pasted scripts. Instead, most of the recipes are preceded by interesting and often entertaining background information, which makes the book all the more fun.

The Violent Python book has also been written to set up scenarios and clear objectives, ranging from solving investigative problems to recreating malicious attacks and even just executing attacks just for the sake of it. The historical trivia presented can also rival the value of the recipes themselves.

While all the recipes are very interesting, there are some that may seem impractical on surface value. For instance, most information security professionals likely do not need to take down a drone or run an SSN botnet. Still, at the root, these recipes have core concepts that can be very useful, like being able to interact with a number of hosts through SSH and injecting packets into wireless traffic. These concepts could be applied to information security activities such as penetration tests.

A conclusion of Violent Python Book

As you can understand, the book does a lot while also omitting a lot, and understandably so. It can be difficult to meet the needs of every reader and every knowledge and skill level. The sidebars have common mistakes and tricks, tips and other information to help address some of the gaps in knowledge. Each chapter also has several references to further study, which is highly recommended if you read this Violent Python book.

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Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 Review: A Top Windows 2

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 16-inch (i7/16GB/512GB): $1,399.99

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 16-inch (i7/16GB/1TB): $1,899.99

The Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 is Samsung’s flagship 2-in-1 Windows laptop for 2023, which means you can use it as a traditional laptop or flip the screen over backward to use the touchscreen as a tablet mode with support for the S Pen stylus. It’s the highest-end laptop in the Galaxy Book 3 series, above the Book 3 Pro, which functions as a standard laptop, and the Book 3 360, which has the same 2-in-1 form factor but with a smaller display and without the S Pen. All of the other Galaxy Book 3 laptops come with the same CPU, memory, and storage options but sport lower-resolution screens (Full HD vs 3K).

Samsung has introduced a new 16:10 aspect ratio that is exclusive to the Galaxy Book 3 Pro version displays. It makes for a taller, squarer look than the traditional 16:9 that gives you a lot of screen real estate for reading, writing, or drawing. The 16-inch Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 sports an Intel Core i7 processor and Intel Iris Xe Graphics card and comes with 16GB of RAM and either 512GB or 1TB SSD of onboard storage, expandable via a microSD card slot.

What I like about the Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360

Adam Birney / Android Authority

Let’s start with the most eye-catching aspect of the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360: the screen. Samsung has made some pretty big improvements in this department, ditching the 1080p display of the previous Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 for a vivid 3K display with a 2,880 x 1,800 resolution (~212 PPI). The AMOLED screen also means you get true blacks with better contrast, which makes it great for streaming or gaming.

The new 16:10 aspect ratio lends itself well to the 2-in-1 form factor, giving plenty of screen real estate when used as a laptop or tablet. Reading articles felt comfortable to me in a horizontal or vertical orientation, and using the Windows 11 built-in snapping feature, it was easy to split the screen to jot down notes while watching a video or reading a document at the same time. The only thing I’m not in love with in terms of looks is the nearly one-inch thick bezel along the bottom of the screen.

The Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360’s 120Hz refresh rate is something I never knew I needed on a laptop, and now I never want to go back.

My favorite feature of the display, however, is the 120Hz refresh rate. Going from a 60Hz refresh rate on the previous model, this is a pretty big leap forward, and it has sort of ruined my browsing experience for most other laptops. Everything feels so much smoother, not just for scrolling through websites and applications but especially when you are writing on the screen with the S Pen. Markings appear exactly where intended, as soon as you touch the screen, with no wiggly artifacts when drawing lines.

The Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 is still thin as ever, standing just half an inch tall when folded and lying flat. Despite the slender style, you get a full keyboard deck with a number pad and plenty of ports, including HDMI, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and one old-school USB-A port, as well as the microSD card reader and a headphone out/mic-in combo.

When it’s time to recharge, the bundled 65W brick is the only ideal option. I was able to charge the Book 3 Pro 360 from zero to full in under an hour and 45 minutes. It’s not quite as fast as the Book 2 Pro, but it makes sense for a laptop of this size and specs. There was one day when I forgot my charger at home and had to resort to using a 25W phone charger, which took two to three hours to top up, so you’ll definitely want to keep the one included on hand.

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 specs

The Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 will benefit Samsung users the most, but still makes an excellent 2-in-1 Windows convertible, if you don’t stray too far from an outlet.

Overall, the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 will be more enticing for those already invested in the Samsung ecosystem. Seamless connections with Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Tablets as a second screen is a luxury, and the Multi Control function to move your cursor over to your Galaxy phone and bypass any third-party cloud storage options for file transfers is a delight. But again, all these features are exclusive to Samsung devices.

If you’re seeking a different convertible option, the Lenovo Yoga 9i ($1,399.99) is an excellent choice. It starts at the same price but has a 14-inch 4K HDR display. You might also consider the previous generation Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 ($922 at Amazon), which is now cheaper and has comparable performance along with superior battery life, even if the display isn’t as big and sharp.

Yes, the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 supports the S Pen and includes one in the box.

Yes, the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 has a backlit keyboard with various brightness settings.

The Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 is not intended to be a gaming laptop as it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU. The Intel Iris XE graphics card won’t keep up with the latest AAA games.

How To Designate Reviews In App Store As “Helpful” Or “Not Helpful”

Many longtime Apple customers have developed a praiseworthy habit of perusing written user reviews found on App Store pages as part of making informed decisions when considering whether to try out an app or game for their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Apple lets you designate any review listed on an app’s product page in App Store as “Helpful” or “Not Helpful” in order to help the system surface reviews suited to your liking and help other customers filter unwanted reviews using the new sorting options in iOS 11.3 and later.

You can add a written review for iOS and macOS apps, but not tvOS apps.

As part of the major App Store redesign, iOS 11 prominently highlights on app pages customer ratings and reviews, as well as accolades including Editors’ Choice and chart position.

App Store automatically shows a few most recent user-submitted reviews, as well as those that have been edited recently. And with iOS 11.3 and later, you can finally filter the reviews based on four categories, including Most Helpful and Most Recent.

Here’s how you can tell Apple if you deemed a review on App Store useful or useless.

1) Open App Store on your iOS device.

2) Tap an app or use search to find one you’re interested in, like the official iDB app.

3) Scroll halfway down to the Ratings & Reviews section below the screenshots.

4) Swipe the reviews left or right to find one that interests you.

Providing review feedback helps Apple surface apps that are relevant to you.

5) After reading it, provide feedback by tapping the review bubble, then continue holding your finger until you see a popup menu where you can choose either “Helpful” or “Not Helpful”.

You’ll briefly see a message in an overlay, saying “Thanks for your feedback,” plus either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down glyph. For those asking, yes—you can also press the review with 3D Touch and choose “Helpful” or “Not Helpful” from the shortcuts menu.

Don’t forget about 3D Touch shortcuts!

TIP: If there is an issue with the selected review like spam or offensive material, report your concern to Apple by choosing the Report Concern option from the popup menu.

The user who wrote the review will not be notified if you report a concern.

On iOS 11 and later, developers can choose to publicly respond to reviews directly through their app product pages on App Store. The system automatically notifies a customer of a developer’s response and they have the option to update their review, if necessary.

Anyone can read developers’ optional responses to app reviews.

Sorting reviews

On iOS 10 and earlier, reviews could be sorted by app version.

These filtering options were removed from iOS 11 and later. Beginning with iOS 11.3, iPhone and iPad users can filter app reviews by four categories like they would on Mac App Store.

To sort the reviews for any particular app, tap the link “See All” under the Ratings & Reviews section and choose how you’d like the items to be filtered by tapping the “Sort by” link:

Most Helpful—Shows only the reviews with the most helpful feedback from others.

Most Favorable—Shows the highest-rated reviews, starting with five stars.

Most Critical—Show the lowest-rated reviews, starting with one star.

Most Recent—Sort the reviews in reverse chronological order.

The ability to sort user reviews in App Store is a small but very useful feature, especially for those times when you want to determine if something is wrong with the current release of your favorite app (by showing only the most critical reviews).

Starting with iOS 11.3 , you can finally filter the reviews in App Store by different criteria.

Now you see why spending a little bit extra time to designate app reviews as “Helpful” or “Not Helpful” is beneficial to other users who will appreciate your feedback when they filter the reviews by Most Helpful, especially for those who are seeing outdated reviews on the store.

Stopping in-app feedback prompts

Don’t forget that Apple lets you submit your feedback without leaving the app you’re using.

Assuming a developer has implemented iOS 11’s SKStoreReviewController API, this handy system will kindly limit these unobtrusive in-app prompts for ratings and reviews to no more than three occurrences per app over a 365-day period.

If you haven’t already given feedback and a request hasn’t been made too recently, a system-provided prompt may appear in an app at an opportune time to ask for a rating and an optional written review. You can supply feedback or dismiss the prompt with a single tap.

Developers can use system-supplied prompts seeking in-app feedback.

Apple even gives you a way to stop these standardized in-app prompts seeking feedback for all the apps installed on your iOS device that have implemented the SKStoreReviewController API.

To opt out of receiving these rating prompts for all of the apps you have installed on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, go to Settings → iTunes & App Store, scroll to the bottom of the page and flip the switch labeled In-App Ratings & Reviews to the OFF position.

Doing so will silence in-app feedback prompts except for older apps that still rely on their own dialog prompts because they haven’t made a switch yet to the SKStoreReviewController API.

Before signing off, Apple itself suggests that you help developers and like-minded customers like yourself know what you think of a particular app. Best thing you leave this setting intact so that your favorite apps can solicit feedback via these prompts.

It’s a wrap-up!

I always read user reviews before hitting the Buy button.

Not only do user-submitted reviews help paint a better picture of the overall user experience with an app, but also help other customers decide which apps they’d like to try.

We’re glad that Apple provides a way for customers to indicate to their favorite developers whether or not a particular review has actually helped them make an informed buying decision.

Need help? Ask iDB!

12 Best Iphone 7 Cases And Covers

1. Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone 7

The Plus models in the iPhone line-up are known to bring great battery performance but the not-Plus models, not so much. So, if you are someone who wants great battery performance out of your iPhone 7, you should indeed get the Apple Smart Battery Case. The Smart Battery case is rated to bring you 26 hours of talktime, 22 hours internet usage on LTE or video playback for up to 26 hours. When you snap on the case on an iPhone 7, the device will intelligently show the battery status from the case. Along with increased battery, the case also brings protection, as it features a soft microfiber lining inside, while packing a soft-touch finish on the outside for a great feel in hand. It’s available in the usual Black and White versions.

Price: $99

2. Otterbox Statement Series Case for iPhone 7

Price: $39.95

3. Spigen Matte Hard Case for iPhone 7

The Spigen hard case for the iPhone 7 brings the device protection while making sure it does not have any added bulk or thickness. The matte case fits perfectly on the iPhone 7, thus retaining the slim looks of the phone. Chances are, you won’t feel any difference in weight or thickness when you have the Spigen case snapped on an iPhone 7. It features a premium polycarbonate back with a soft finish, resulting in great grip and matte properties. Also, the case has raised edges on the front to protect the display. Along with the usual Black version, it’s available in cool colors like Champagne Gold, Rose Gold and Satin Silver.

4. iPhone 7 Caseology Texture Case

We love the cool designs Caseology cases offer and the new Texture case for the iPhone 7 is no different. The case features a dynamic geometry pattern on the back, giving the iPhone 7 a different and unique personality. The back is designed with a three-dimensional molding and soft coatings, which creates a comfortable grip. The case is made up of a flexible TPU sleeve and features a polycarbonate bumper to protect the device from all scratches, bumps and drops. Like every other Caseology Case, the Texture case for iPhone 7 is available in different colors like Burgundy, Black/Deep Blue, Black/Gold, Coral Pink, Mint Green and Navy Blue.

Price: $15.99

5. Mujjo Leather Case for iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 is a premium looking device, there’s no doubt about that but if you want to give it an even more premium touch, you can check out the Mujjo Leather case. The case is made up of full grain tanned vegan leather which acquires a beautiful patina and polish with use. It packs in Mujjo’s moulded edge tech, which makes sure that the edges of the case are tough enough to handle the everyday wear and tear. The smooth surface and satin-like finish should make the case a pleasure to hold. To sum things up, the case looks gorgeous and if you like leather accessories, you are going to love it. Price: $37.25

6. Urban Armor Monarch Rugged Case for iPhone 7

The Urban Armor Rugged case for the iPhone 7 is a pretty compelling offering, as it brings military grade protection (MIL STD 810G 516.6 standard) along with premium looks. The case features 5 layers of protection, with a soft impact resistant core and honeycomb traction grip but is still pretty lightweight. The handcrafted case is made of top grain leather and allow metal elements, which makes up for a premium look. You must be wondering if the button are tactile enough with all the layers of protection the case offers. Well, don’t worry, the case offers ultra-responsive tactile buttons.

Urban Armor offer 10 years of warranty on the case and it’s available in a ton of different colors and style like Platinum, Black, Graphite, Citron, Cobalt, Ash and more.

7. Silk Wallet Case for iPhone 7

The Silk Wallet case for the Apple iPhone 7 is one of the best selling cases for the new iPhone and we aren’t surprised. The very premium looking wallet case brings great protection and lets you easily fit 3 cards or cash, without looking too bulky. It features a one piece body, which provides full frame protection. The case also features textured sides to bring enhanced grip to prevent drops. Along with the case, Silk also offers a screen protector in the package, so you are covered on all fronts. The Silk Wallet case is available in a couple of variants: Black Onyx and Gunmetal Gray.

Price: $14.99

8. Moshi Armour Case for iPhone 7

From the looks of it, Moshi’s Armour case for the iPhone 7 looks nothing but just the usual good-looking case. However, dig a little deeper and you will find that under all the eye-candy, there is a lot of protection. The hardshell case is made up of a hybrid material, which will provide ample protection to the iPhone 7 against shock and scratches. It is also MIL-STD-810G, SGS-certified, which means military-grade drop protection and also features raised bezel to protect the Retina display. Moreover, it features a diamond-cut aluminium backplate and well, it certainly looks gorgeous. It’s available in colors like Rose, Gold, Gray and Black.

  Price: TBA

9. Speck Presidio Clear Case for iPhone 7

If you want to show off the iPhone 7’s good looks while protecting it against drops and bumps, the Speck Presidio clear case should be the perfect choice. Like other Speck cases, the Presidio clear case is a premium looking case, even though it’s just a transparent case. It features a dual layer polycarbonate design, which brings great drop protection and scratch resistance. The case also features raised bezels for better screen protection and since it uses premium materials, you don’t have to worry about the case yellowing. The Presidio clear case is available in a clear version and a slightly transparent Black version.

10. Luvvit Bumper Case for iPhone 7

The Bumper Case for the iPhone 7 from Luvvit is a hybrid case featuring a combination of a clear hard back panel and soft flexible edges. The back is made up of premium polycarbonate with a scratch resistant coating. The flexible edges are rubbery in feel and hug every corner of the iPhone 7 bringing great protection as well as great grip. The Luvvit case is for people who want to protect their iPhone 7 while also showing off the premium look of the device. The bumper case is available in Black, Clear, Mint Green, Transparent Gold and Transparent Pink versions.

Price: $12.99

11. Grovemade Maple & Leather Wallet Case

As the name suggests, the Grovemade case brings the goodness of wood and leather in a single folio case. The minimalistic wallet case features a frame of solid walnut with a cover of premium vegetable tanned leather. The case not only keeps the iPhone 7 secure from all sides but also lets you keep your cards and cash in a slot. The cover folds completely flat or into a stand, which should come in handy when you plan on something on your iPhone 7. While the case is certainly expensive and the Maple & Leather combo is not for everyone, you can still take a look at it and you might end up fancying it. Price: $129

12. i-Blason Heavy Duty Case for iPhone 7

If you are pretty sure that you are going to use your iPhone 7 roughly and not so user friendly locations, you should get the i-Blason Heavy Duty case. The rugged case features a dual layer, with a polycarbonate hard shell exterior and a TPU sleeve on the inside. The front casing features a built-in screen protector, so the case has you covered on all fronts. It even features a side mount belt clip swivel holster, so that you can carry it anywhere with ease. While it might look a little bulky, it’s not and compared to other heavy duty cases, it’s fairly lightweight and slim. The case is available in the usual Black and White versions along with other versions like Blue, Green and Pink.

Price: $17.99

Protect your brand new iPhone 7 with these cool cases

The Apple iPhone 7 features a design, that is very similar to its predecessors but we certainly like the new glossy Jet Black versions. However, Apple has revealed that you can expect to see abrasions on the Jet Black iPhone 7 over time. Well, it’s not a surprise considering we don’t really expect the iPhones to be too robust. So, it’s best you get one of the aforementioned iPhone 7 cases and covers. While some cases bring great protection, some offer an even more premium look.

Windows 7 Review: Why I Like Windows 7

About the author: Acclaimed Windows expert Andy Rathbone has written numerous Windows for Dummies guidebooks since 1992. His Windows review for Datamation Why I Don’t Like Vista became an Internet classic. In this review of Windows 7 he provides a sneak peak of his book due this October, Windows 7 For Dummies.

After nearly eight-years, Windows XP had grown as comfortable as an old car. Just as I’d forgotten about the growing number of dings on my car’s bumper, I’d forgotten how many third-party tools I’d used to prop up Windows XP. After adding CD and DVD burners, search programs, Firefox, three media players and a host of other tools, my Start menu’s three columns reached the far edge of my desktop.

That’s why running Windows 7for the past seven months brought back the excitement of driving a new car. And for the first time, my once trusted Windows XP began looking like a car that needed much more than a paint job.

It’s partially my own fault. Like many others, I skipped Windows Vista. And Vista, for all its faults, provided a strong, secure base. Unfortunately, Microsoft ruined Vista’s improvements by adding overly aggressive security, thick layers of meandering menus, and a sense of being designed by a huge committee.

Windows 7 strips away that ugliness to create something that’s light yet strong, useful yet still playful. Windows 7 grabs me in a lot of ways Windows XP no longer does:

Oddly enough, Windows 7’s new wallpaper provides a great example of how Windows 7 pulls off a difficult mix of being both utilitarian and fun. Windows 7 softens Vista’s armored-guard persona by adding a healthy dose of personality. Its backgrounds come stuffed with groovy psychedelic landscapes, dreamy Dada-esque creatures, and candy-colored anime art.

By draping this whimsy over Vista’s security underpinnings, Microsoft’s helping make people feel both safe and creative with their computers, a feeling that comes so naturally to Apple.

Even if the backgrounds don’t suit your fancy, you must admire how Windows 7’s design team deliberately chose wallpaper that would have been shot down in a traditional boardroom. That’s a big change from Vista, where everything seemed to fall to the lowest common denominator.

Vista’s bloat kept it from running on netbooks, the PC industry’s single bright spot these days. Windows 7, by contrast, runs fine on most netbooks, as well as on older PCs. Needing another test machine while writing Windows 7 For Dummies, I installed Windows 7 on a Pentium III with 16MB of video memory. Surprisingly enough, Windows 7 not only installed, but its automatic trip to Windows Update brought the PC some new drivers, as well. That old Gateway PC will never be a game machine, of course, but it works fine for the essentials, e-mail and the Internet.

Chances are, Windows 7’s slimmed down footprint will fit well on your PC, as well, whether it’s a modern netbook or a borderline antique.

Probably the most welcome change, Windows 7 tones down User Account Control’s overly aggressive policing. But if you still find yourself grinding your teeth more than working, a sliding control lets you adjust Windows 7’s paranoia level to match your own. It’s refreshing to feel in control of your PC rather than the other way around.

Windows 7 comes loaded with many other creative keyboard shortcuts, a sign that the team had time to focus on subtle details rather than major overhauls.

Samsung Galaxy S9 And S9 Plus Review: Top

Samsung Galaxy S9 review notes: We’ve been using the Galaxy S9 Plus on Vodafone’s network in Barcelona, Spain for roughly a week and a half. Our review unit is running Android 8.0 Oreo, Samsung Experience version 9.0, and build number R16NW.G965U1UEU1ARB7 on the February 1, 2023 security patch. We’re holding off on adding review scores until we can put both the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus through our full suite of tests, the results of which will be coming in a deep dive review in the near future.

Design

If you’re not careful, you might mistake the Galaxy S9 for an S8, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus were two of the prettiest phones to launch in 2023 (or, dare I say, ever), and the S9 refines the design even further. Both the S9 and S9 Plus feature Samsung’s now-signature curved glass panels on the front and back, separated by an aluminum frame. Those curved pieces of glass make the devices feel extremely comfortable to hold, almost like they cradle right into your palm. 

The curved edges on the front panel are less intense than on the Galaxy S8, which makes swiping in from the edges of the screen a bit easier.

The one big change in this year’s design is the location of the fingerprint sensor. The Galaxy S8 and Note 8‘s fingerprint sensors were in the worst place imaginable — to the right of the camera sensor. It was awkward and not at all well thought out. The sensor’s now where it should be, right under the camera in the middle, where your finger naturally falls when holding it.

All the buttons, ports, and slots are in the same places as the S8. The SIM tray is on the top, the power button is on the right, and the left side houses the volume key and dedicated Bixby button. On the bottom, you’ll find the USB Type-C port, 3.5 mm headphone jack (yes!), and a slightly redesigned bottom-firing speaker grille (more on the speakers later).

Best Samsung Galaxy S9 cases

Best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases

Best Samsung Galaxy S9 Screen protectors

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are slightly smaller overall than their predecessors. This is because Samsung shrunk the top and bottom bezels, making the S9 1.2 mm shorter than the S8, and the S9 Plus 1.4 mm shorter than the S8 Plus. Both new models are heavier though — the Galaxy S9 weighs 163 grams compared to the S8’s 155 grams. and the S9 Plus weighs in at 189 grams compared to the S8 Plus’ 173 grams. The differences in weight are actually pretty noticeable.

Samsung gave us the Midnight Black model for review, but the S9 and S9 Plus also come in Coral Blue, Titanium Gray, and the all-new Lilac Purple, which has been a favorite of ours ever since Samsung announced these phones.

Whichever color you choose, be prepared for the Galaxy S9 to be an absolute fingerprint magnet, which is common with all-glass phones.

Fingerprints aren’t the only things you need to worry about. These phones are fragile. It didn’t take long for our review unit to get some scuffs on the display. The top layer of Gorilla Glass 5 is already wearing away, which is easy to see when the screen is off. This has happened to a few other of our other glass-on-glass Samsung devices in the past, too. As premium as they might be, they aren’t perfect.

These phones are fragile

The design may not be durable, but at least these phones are IP68-rated for dust and water resistance. This means they’ll be able to survive a dunk in fresh water at 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

Display

Samsung has had the best smartphone displays on the market for years, and the Galaxy S9 lineup is no exception

Samsung has had the best smartphone displays on the market for years, and the Galaxy S9 lineup is no exception. Both Super AMOLED panels offer deep blacks, vibrant colors, and superb viewing angles. Seriously — these displays are a joy to look at day in and day out, no matter what you’re doing.

Though the Infinity Display is a recurring feature of all Samsung flagships, the immersion aspect is a little dialed back because the left and right sides no longer bleed all the way to the edge. This minimizes the number of accidental palm presses users experience when reaching to the opposite edge of the phone’s screen.

The displays also get 15 percent brighter than those on the Galaxy S8 line. They’re so bright, in fact, that turning the brightness all the way up is way too intense for anything but outdoor viewing. Fortunately, they get very dim too, which makes them great for reading on your phone before bed.

The Galaxy S9 has a 5.8-inch, 18.5:9 aspect ratio display. The Galaxy S9 Plus comes with a bigger 6.2-inch screen. Both displays have a maximum resolution of Quad HD+ (2,960 x 1,440), though they are set at Full HD+ out of the box. They can also be downscaled to HD+ if you’d like to save some battery life.

Samsung’s wonderful always-on display makes a return this time, too. This continues to be one of the more useful always-on  display implementations out there. You can display the current time and home time if you’re traveling, as well as battery percentage, and all your notifications. Double-tapping a notification quickly opens it up too.

AR Emoji vs Animoji: The differences explained

Features

Let’s start with the fun stuff — AR Emoji. Samsung’s take on the Apple Animoji is a self-customized avatar that can either be a caricature of oneself or a completely different thing altogether. 

AR Emoji are easy enough to make, no matter which camera is being used — let the camera detect the face and it will give you a starting template. The facial recognition is not perfect, but it probably was never meant to be. All AR Emoji face shapes are about the same so not everyone is going to get a picture-perfect version of themselves. Skin tone, hair style, and clothing can all be customized and the end result is saved in the camera app. Users can take pictures with their AR Emoji or even record video of the avatar’s face moving along with their own. Only the face is tracked, but it tries to move even the eyebrows correctly for more accurate expressions.

AR Emoji are far from a polished product

This mode, while fun, is far from a polished product — plus, they’re pretty creepy if you ask me. You can also make yourself the character, but the face tracking is a little buggy and can lead to some odd twitches here and there.

We’re sure there will be more options for customization eventually — perhaps sponsored by clothing companies or beauty brands. For now, it’s an easy way to make 18 GIFs of various emotions that can be shared easily with friends on any platform.

Since we’re on the topic of personal expression, let’s talk about the front-facing camera. An 8 MP camera with autofocus is up front and it should be familiar to any recent Samsung user. The selfies from this camera are good, but may not be as good as results from the Google Pixel 2’s machine-learning shooter.

A type of portrait mode is now available in the form of Selfie Focus, which tries to find the cutout of the subject and pleasantly blur the background. The results are hit and miss, even ignoring how soft the photos are to begin with. Regardless, selfie lovers will have plenty to enjoy with the Galaxy S9 front-facing camera, even with its quirks.

If there is one thing we really wish the front-facing camera had, it’s the multi-frame processing of the main camera module. Whereas the Google Pixel 2 applies its machine learning to either camera, it seems Samsung gave this new processing power to only the rear camera — and only the main lens, at that.

The pictures coming from the main shooter all look pretty great, even in low light. This is due in part to the f/1.5 aperture which helps flood in an incredible amount of light for a smartphone. The S9 manages to pull a good photo out of a less-than-ideal situation better than any Galaxy device before it, using the large aperture in concert with multi-frame processing and optical image stabilization to minimize blur from the lowered shutter speed.

If you want every camera tool possible, the S9 Plus is definitely the one to look at — the question is just if you really need it. The telephoto lens does not seem to get the same multi-frame processing treatment as the main sensor, which makes sense because the main sensor is developed with the smaller S9 in mind. The telephoto lens is an extra on the bigger model. However, having a zoom lens affords the S9 Plus a proper portrait mode in Live Focus, instead of the software-driven Selective Focus of the S9. We got to test the differences between these two and the zoom lens combo clearly yielded better cutouts and overall better portraits. Selective Focus on the regular S9 is as hit or miss as the Selfie Focus on the front-facing camera. You’ll have to decide for yourself how important zoom and portrait mode are to you — and whether you’re willing to pay the extra to get them.

Galaxy S9 Selective Focus (left) vs Galaxy S9 Plus Live Focus (right). Image 1 credit: Chay Lazaro/GadgetMatch

Software

Samsung went with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality with the Galaxy S9, leaving basically all aspects of its Samsung Experience launcher unchanged from the S8. That’s not a bad thing — the Galaxy S8’s software was a huge step up from Samsung’s previous phones, and we’re happy to see a very similar software experience here. We just wish it ran the latest version of Android.

One thing that hasn’t changed between generations is the number of duplicate applications Samsung includes in its software package. For some reason, the company still finds it necessary to include its own apps when Google’s apps are perfectly acceptable. Some of Samsung’s apps offer extra features which might not be available in Google’s ecosystem, but the fact remains the app drawer is pretty stuffed out of the box.

Read Next: 8 Common Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 problems and how to solve them

For what it’s worth, Samsung’s stock Gallery app comes with a few unique features of its own. The GIF creator feature is a really fun way to extract up to six seconds of an existing video and makes it easy to share on just about any platform. If you put a little bit of extra thought into it, you can get a fun looping GIF like one of the few presented below.

One of the smaller changes to Samsung’s launcher is that both the app drawer and home screen can now be used in landscape orientation. This may not be the flashiest feature on the Galaxy S9, but it’s certainly going to make some users happy.

The company isn’t giving up on its virtual assistant anytime soon, either. Bixby returns on the S9 line, bringing only a handful of minor improvements, which likely won’t change the way you feel about it. If you used it before you’ll likely continue to, but if you didn’t, there’s no major reason to start.

Samsung has added a few augmented reality features to Bixby Vision, including the ability to live translate text from other languages. Just point the camera at some text, tap the Bixby button, and it will (try to) translate the text in real time. The text appears as an AR overlay.

Live translation has not been accurate in our testing, but it could be just good enough to help if you’re lost in translation.

Bixby also has the ability to summon nutritional information for food it recognizes. In theory, you should be able to point your camera at a donut, press the Bixby button, and receive nutrition facts about the donut in just a few seconds. This doesn’t work extremely well, either — it’s been pretty hit or miss at best.

There’s also a new mode in Bixby that lets you overlay makeup from Sephora, Cover Girl, and more, allowing you to see how it looks on your face before you buy it. We’ll just leave this here:

You can still access Bixby Home by swiping over to the left-most home screen. This remains a worthy landing page for anyone who doesn’t already use the Google Feed. Pressing the dedicated Bixby button will also bring you to Bixby Home, but you can disable the button if you don’t want to use it.

Specs

For those prices though you get two of the most beautiful, feature-packed smartphones ever made. These phones deliver in all the areas we expected. The displays are top-notch (and notch-less). They sacrifice nothing under the hood. Both boast solid camera performance. These are probably the best Android phones for most users, and I’d have no problem recommending them to almost anyone.

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