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LinuxSecurity - Security Advisories

  • Canonical backtracks on i386 packages
    Canonical has letit be known that minds have been changed about removing all 32-bit x86support from the Ubuntu distribution. "Thanks to the huge amount of feedback this weekend from gamers, Ubuntu Studio, and the WINE community, we will change our plan and build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.We will put in place a community process to determine which 32-bit packages are needed to support legacy software, and can add to that list post-release if we miss something that is needed."

  • Two years of postmarketOS
    PostmarketOS is an Alpine Linux based operating system for mobiledevices. The postmarketOS blog takes a lookat the project after two years of development. "Wouldn't it be great if you could take any obsolete smartphone from the past ten years and replace its outdated and insecure software with a maintained, modular free software stack? How about then using it as a Raspberry Pi-like device for your next tinkering project? With some constraints, postmarketOS makes this possible today for 139 booting devices. Every single package in the whole OS can be updated, with the only exceptions being the vendor's Linux kernel and firmware blobs (if you plan on using them). In a few cases, it is even possible to switch out the discontinued vendor kernel forks with the upstream kernel releases straight from Linus Torvalds."

  • Security updates for Monday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (jackson-databind, libvirt, pdns, and vim), Fedora (evince, firefox, gjs, libxslt, mozjs60, and poppler), openSUSE (dbus-1, firefox, ImageMagick, netpbm, openssh, and thunderbird), Oracle (libssh2, libvirt, and python), Scientific Linux (python), SUSE (compat-openssl098 , dbus-1 , evince , exempi , firefox , glib2 , gstreamer-0_10-plugins-base , gstreamer-plugins-base , java-1_8_0-ibm , libssh2_org , libvirt , netpbm , samba , SDL2 , sqlite3 , thunderbird , and wireshark ), and Ubuntu (web2py).

  • Kernel prepatch 5.2-rc6
    The 5.2-rc6 kernel prepatch has beenreleased. Linus worries that the volume of changes has increased — but nottoo much. "With all that out of the way, I'm still reasonablyoptimistic that we're on track for a calm final part of the release, and Idon't think there is anything particularly bad on the horizon." Healso notes that, due to travel, he'll be releasing 5.2-rc7 later thanusual.

  • [$] FreeBSD turns 26
    The FreeBSD operating system is continuingto make progress, 26 years after it got its name. Among the areas wherework is being done is onimproved support for RISC-V, FUSEfilesystem updates, C runtime changes, and security improvements. FreeBSDDay is celebrated on June 19, in recognition of the date in 1993 whenthe name FreeBSD was coined fora fork of the 386BSD project. The first official release of FreeBSD did not occur until November 1, 1993, however.
    Ahead of FreeBSDDay, the project released its quarterlyreport for the first quarter of 2019, outlining some of its ongoingefforts. In addition to the quarterly report, the executive director of theFreeBSD Foundation provided LWN with some insights into the state of theproject and the foundation that supports it.

  • [$] Statistics from the 5.2 kernel — and before
    As of this writing, just over 13,600 non-merge changesets have been pulledinto the mainline repository for the 5.2 development cycle. The time hascome, once again, for a look at where that work came from and who supportedit. There are some unique aspects to 5.2 that have thrown off some of theusual numbers.

  • Huang: Open Source Could Be a Casualty of the Trade War
    Bunnie Huang writesabout the escalating trade wars and how they could be harmful to theopen-source community. "Because the administrative action so faragainst Huawei relies only upon export license restrictions, the LinuxFoundation has been able to find shelter under a license exemption for opensource software. However, should Huawei be designated as a 'foreignadversary' under EO13873, it greatly expands the scope of the ban becauseit prohibits transactions with entities under the direction or influence offoreign adversaries. The executive order also broadly includes anyinformation technology including hardware and software with no exemptionfor open source."

  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (libvirt and python), Debian (intel-microcode, php-horde-form, and znc), Fedora (firefox), Mageia (firefox, flash-player-plugin, git, graphicsmagick, kernel, kernel-linus, kernel-tmb, phpmyadmin, and thunderbird), Oracle (libssh2, libvirt, and python), Red Hat (libvirt and python), Scientific Linux (libvirt), Slackware (bind and mozilla), SUSE (enigmail), and Ubuntu (bind9, intel-microcode, mosquitto, postgresql-10, postgresql-11, and thunderbird).

  • [$] C, Fortran, and single-character strings
    The calling interfaces between programming languages are, by their nature,ripe for misunderstandings; different languages can have subtly differentideas of how data should be passed around. Such misunderstandings oftenhave the effect of making things break right away; these are quicklyfixed. Others can persist for years or even decades before jumping out ofthe shadows and making things fail. A problem of the latter varietyrecently turned up in how some C programs are passing strings to Fortransubroutines, with unpleasant effects on widely used packages like LAPACK.

  • Kubernetes 1.15 released
    The Kubernetes container orchestrator team has announced the release of Kubernetes 1.15; the main themes of this release are "extensibility and continuous improvement". One of the focus areas was on usability and lifecycle stability for clusters:"Work on making Kubernetes installation, upgrade and configuration even more robust has been a major focus for this cycle for SIG Cluster Lifecycle (see our last Community Update). Bug fixes across bare metal tooling and production-ready user stories, such as the high availability use cases have been given priority for 1.15.kubeadm, the cluster lifecycle building block, continues to receive features and stability work required for bootstrapping production clusters efficiently. kubeadm has promoted high availability (HA) capability to beta, allowing users to use the familiar kubeadm init and kubeadm join commands to configure and deploy an HA control plane. An entire new test suite has been created specifically for ensuring these features will stay stable over time."More information can be found in therelease notes.

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (firefox-esr, gvfs, intel-microcode, and python-urllib3), Fedora (advancecomp, firefox, freeradius, kubernetes, pam-u2f, and rubygem-jquery-ui-rails), openSUSE (elfutils and sssd), Red Hat (chromium-browser), SUSE (doxygen and samba), and Ubuntu (evince, firefox, Gunicorn, libvirt, and sqlite3).

  • [$] The TCP SACK panic
    Selectiveacknowledgment (SACK) is a technique used by TCP to help alleviatecongestion that can arise due to the retransmission of dropped packets. It allowsthe endpoints to describe which pieces of the data they have received,so that only the missing pieces need to be retransmitted. However, a bugwas recently found in the Linux implementation of SACK that allows remoteattackers to panic the system by sending crafted SACK information.

  • Ubuntu dropping i386 support
    Starting with the upcoming "Eoan Ermine" (a.k.a. 19.10) release, the Ubuntudistribution willnot support 32-bit x86 systems. "The Ubuntu engineering team hasreviewed the facts before us and concluded that we should not continue tocarry i386 forward as an architecture. Consequently, i386 will not beincluded as an architecture for the 19.10 release, and we will shortlybegin the process of disabling it for the eoan series across Ubuntuinfrastructure."

LXer Linux News

  • 2 Simple Steps to Set up Passwordless SSH Authentication In Linux
    If you would like to automate many things in Linux based systems, the first requirement is to set up a passwordless SSH authentication between the Linux systems. It can be done easily by two simple steps. In this tutorial we will explain how to set up passwordless SSH login on Linux system.

  • What are you working on this summer?
    Do you have a summer goal? Do longer days allow you to finally carve out time to work on a certain passion project? Will you be spending time AFK (away from keyboard) to enjoy no-code hobbies or volunteer? Are you traveling to any conferences or taking a family vacation? If you[he]#039[/he]re still looking for inspiration, read what our writers had to say.

  • Free Command in Linux Explained With Examples
    If you would like to know the detailed information about the memory usage on Linux system, the free command is a simple utility that makes it easy to find real time results for a variety of use cases.

    We will build a simple calculator program using BASH scripting language and at the same time reinforce all the concepts already taught. In a quick summary, we’ve explored the fundamental topics on variables, decisions, control statements, and arguments. Then there were minor subtopics like using comments in bash programs and operator types.

  • Check your password security with Have I Been Pwned? and pass
    Password security involves a broad set of practices, and not all of them are appropriate or possible for everyone. Therefore, the best strategy is to develop a threat model by thinking through your most significant risks—who and what you are protecting against—then model your security approach on the activities that are most effective against those specific threats. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a great series on threat modeling that I encourage everyone to read.

  • How to Cool Your Raspberry Pi
    If you're overclocking your Raspberry Pi, you might run into overheating problems. Fortunately, you can prevent this by adding sufficient cooling to your Pi

  • How to Install and Configure an NFS Server on Ubuntu 18.04
    Network File System (NFS) is a distributed file system protocol that allows you to share remote directories over a network. With NFS, you can mount remote directories on your system and work with files on a remote machine as if they were local files.

  • Raspberry Pi 4 is here!
    The latest version of the Raspberry Pi—Raspberry Pi 4—was released today, earlier than anticipated, featuring a new 1.5GHz Arm chip and VideoCore GPU with some brand new additions: dual-HDMI 4K display output; USB3 ports; Gigabit Ethernet; and multiple RAM options up to more

  • Episode 21: From Mac to Linux
    Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Linux Journal Editor at Large, Petros Koutoupis, about moving from Mac to Linux.

  • Play Ascii Patrol Game in Linux Terminal!
    Typing a command in the Linux terminal is one of the exciting things. We are like a king who is giving orders to his soldiers to do certain things. Terminal on Linux has many benefits when you understand the commands that exist. In addition to executing a command, we can play games at the terminal.

  • How to Install GCC Compiler on CentOS 7
    This tutorial explains how to install GCC compiler on CentOS 7. We will show you how to install the distro stable version and the newer version of GCC available from the SCL repository.


	Copyright 2019|Linux Insider"LinuxInsider"]]
  • With Regolith, i3 Tiling Window Management Is Awesome, Strange and Easy
    Regolith Linux brings together three unusual computing components that make traipsing into the i3 tiling window manager world out-of-the-box easy. Much of the focus and attraction -- as well as confusion -- for newcomers to the Linux OS is the variety of desktop environments available. Some Linux distributions offer a range of desktop types. Others come only with a choice of one desktop. i3 provides yet another option.

  • Firefox Users Warned to Patch Critical Flaw
    Firefox users should update their browsers immediately to fix a critical zero-day vulnerability. Anyone using Firefox on a Windows, macOS or Linux desktop is at risk. Mozilla issued a patch Tuesday, but the vulnerability was discovered by Samuel Gro of Google Project Zero on April 15. Mozilla's fix came after Coinbase reported exploitation of the vulnerability for targeted spearphishing attacks.

  • In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
    Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.

  • Enso OS Makes Xfce Elementary
    Sometimes new Linux distros still in beta can offer pleasant surprises with a key feature not available elsewhere. Check out Enso OS for a prime example. Enso OS is a relatively new Linux distribution that debuted a couple of years ago. It is a custom build of Xubuntu 18.04 and features the Xfce desktop combined with Gala, a Mutter-based window/compositing manager.

  • How to Sync Google Drive on Linux
    Two of the more commonly used cloud storage services for personal use are Google Drive and Dropbox. Both cloud services are simple to set up and use reliably. Either one can be a suitable choice for storing personal files using free or paid plans. That said, Google Drive requires a manual overhead to manage files through its Web browser-only interface.

  • MX Linux Reinvents Computer Use
    MX Linux is a blend of mostly old and some new things, resulting in an appealing midweight Linux OS. The midweight category is a bit unusual. Desktop environments that run well on minimal hardware typically fall into the lightweight category. Lightweight environments like Xfce, LXDE/LXQt, Enlightenment and iceWM often are paired with software applications that do not tax system resources.

  • Deepin Linux: Security Threat or Safe to Use?
    Open source operating systems in general are less worrisome because their code is open to inspection by anyone with the skills to understand it. Does that mean Linux computing platforms from nongovernmental sources in politically tense countries are equally worry-free? At least one situation has brought FOSS' safe-to-use reputation into question, and it involved the Deepin Linux distribution.

  • GitHub Opens New Door to Financial Support for Open Source Devs
    GitHub has made it easier for open source developers to garner financial support as recipients of paid sponsorships. GitHub Sponsors, launched in beta last week, is a new funding mechanism that enables open source users to make recurring payments, much like crowdfunding services such as Patreon and managed open source subscription services like Tidelift.

  • How to Set Up Your Computer to Auto-Restart After a Power Outage
    Aside from malware and viruses, nothing has the potential to be more dangerous to your computer's health than power outages. Here is how to ensure your computer keeps it boot on when a power failure turns the lights off. With the approach of the turbulent summer season, it is important to know what kills the electrical lifeline, how to safeguard your digital gear from fatal reboot disease.

  • Linux Mint Turns Cinnamon Experience Bittersweet
    Linux Mint no longer may be an ideal choice for above-par performance out of the box, but it still can serve diehard users well with the right amount of post-installation tinkering. The Linux Mint distro clearly is the gold standard for measuring Cinnamon desktop integration. Linux Mint's developers turned the GNOME desktop alternative into one of the best Linux desktop choices.

  • Budgeting Software Options to Keep Linux Users From Seeing Red
    Budget apps for Linux are part of a software category that has been all but abandoned. But take heart. A number of Web-based solutions will more than meet your budget-tracking needs. However, do not mix the concept of open source with free. If you want an actual free budget program that works well with your flavor of Linux OS, a Web-based offering may your only option.

  • Digging for Bitcoin Is a Labor of Love
    It would have been reasonable for those attending Josh Bressers' session at CypherCon -- myself included -- to expect a presentation by a cryptocurrency expert. It was billed as a talk about plumbing the depths of the bitcoin blockchain. When Bressers admitted that his material grew out of a hobby, I was surprised. Still, the talk was far from disappointing.

  • Elive Elevates Linux With Enlightenment
    The Elive distro's integration of the Debian Linux base and the Enlightenment desktop is a powerful combination. Together, they offer a unique computing platform that is powerful and flexible. Elive is not like most Linux distributions. It does not have a team of workers supporting multiple desktop offerings cranking out frequent upgrades each year. It also does not have a thriving community.

  • Microsoft Becomes Master of Its Own Linux Kernel
    Microsoft has announced that its own full Linux kernel will power WSL2, the newest version of the Windows Subsystem for Linux. This marks the first time that Microsoft will include the Linux kernel as a component in Windows. Microsoft also introduced a Windows command line terminal that will add functionality to PowerShell and WSL. Both are intended primarily for developers.

  • POP!_OS Makes Classic GNOME Simpler to Use
    Are you Looking for a hassle-free Linux OS that is very user-friendly and extremely stable? Pop!_OS from System76 is a prime candidate to fit that order. Pop!_OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distro featuring a custom GNOME desktop. Custom is *the* essential part of that description. The developers have done an impressive job of tailoring the classic GNOME environment into a unique desktop flavor.

  • Open Source Flaw Management Shows Signs of Improvement: Report
    Almost two years after the infamous Equifax breach, many organizations still struggle to identify and manage open source risk across their application portfolios. Meanwhile, the latest report tracking open source security shows a 40 percent rise in the average number of open source components detected in each codebase analyzed. The scanned software includes commercial applications.


  • Apple Releases First Public Betas of macOS Catalina, iOS 13 and iPadOS
    Apple today seeded the first beta versions of upcoming macOS Catalina update, iOS 13 update, and iPadOS update to its public beta testing group, giving non-developers a chance to try out the software ahead of their fall public release. Beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will be able to download the macOS Catalina beta through the Software Update mechanism in System Preferences after installing the proper profile. Those who want to be a part of Apple's beta testing program can sign up to participate through the beta testing website, which gives users access to iOS, macOS, and tvOS betas. Similarly, beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program will receive the iOS 13 beta update over-the-air after installing the proper certificate on an iOS device. New features in macOS Catalina update includes: macOS Catalina eliminates the iTunes app, which has been a key Mac feature since 2001. In Catalina, iTunes has been replaced by Music, Podcasts, and TV apps. The new apps can do everything that iTunes can do, so Mac users aren't going to be losing any functionality, and device management capabilities are now handled by the Finder app. macOS Catalina has a useful new Sidecar feature, designed to turn the iPad into a secondary display for the Mac. For those with an Apple Watch set up to unlock the Mac, there's now an option to approve security prompts in Catalina by tapping on the side button of the watch. Macs with a T2 chip in them also support Activation Lock, making them useless to thieves much as it does on the iPhone. There's a new Find My app that lets you track your lost devices, and previously, this functionality was only available via iCloud on the Mac. There's even a new option to find your devices even when they're offline by leveraging Bluetooth connections to other nearby devices, something that's particularly handy on the Mac because it doesn't have a cellular connection. For developers, a "Project Catalyst" feature lets apps designed for the iPad be ported over to the Mac with just a few clicks in Xcode and some minor tweaks. Apple's ultimate goal with Project Catalyst is to bring more apps to the Mac.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Ubuntu Reverses Decision, Says It Will Continue To Support 32-bit Packages
    Canonical has issued a statement on Ubuntu's 32-bit future, saying it will continue to build and maintain a 32-bit archive going forward. From a report: Of course, there was some negativity surrounding the decision -- as is common with everything in the world today. In particular, developers of WINE were upset, since their Windows compatibility layer depends on 32-bit, apparently. In a statement, Canonical said: "Thanks to the huge amount of feedback this weekend from gamers, Ubuntu Studio, and the WINE community, we will change our plan and build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS. We will put in place a community process to determine which 32-bit packages are needed to support legacy software, and can add to that list post-release if we miss something that is needed. Community discussions can sometimes take unexpected turns, and this is one of those. The question of support for 32-bit x86 has been raised and seriously discussed in Ubuntu developer and community forums since 2014. That's how we make decisions."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Dutch Telephone Outage Takes Out Nation's Emergency Number
    A major telephone outage hit the Netherlands on Monday, taking down the country's emergency number and leaving many businesses and municipalities unreachable by phone. From a report: Police sent officers onto the streets so that people could approach them for emergency help and issued an alternative emergency phone number an hour after the outage began around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT). "We're appealing to everybody who wants to report an emergency and needs help to ... go onto the street. Police officers with walkie-talkies are taking to the streets as much as possible so they can be spoken to," police spokeswoman Suzanne van de Graaf told national broadcaster NOS. Telecom provider KPN reported on its website that the nationwide outage affected both landlines and mobile services. It said work was underway to find a solution.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Bernie Sanders Proposes Forgiving the Student Debt of 45 Million Americans
    Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a plan on Monday to erase the country's $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan tab, intensifying the higher education policy debate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. From a report: The Democratic presidential candidate's legislation -- dubbed "The College for All Act" -- will release all 45 million Americans from their student debt and be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street transactions. The proposal goes further than fellow Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren's plan, which caps student debt forgiveness at $50,000 and offers no relief to borrowers who earn more than $250,000. Outstanding education debt in the U.S. has eclipsed credit card and auto debt. Today the average college graduate leaves school $30,000 in the red, up from $10,000 in the 1990s, and 28% of student loan borrowers are in delinquency or default. Sanders' plan would make two- and four-year public colleges and universities tuition- and debt-free. Trade schools and apprenticeship programs would be tuition-free, as well.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • US Considers Requiring 5G Equipment For Domestic Use Be Made Outside China
    The Trump administration is examining whether to require that next-generation 5G cellular equipment used in the U.S. be designed and manufactured outside China [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], WSJ reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The move could reshape global manufacturing and further fan tensions between the countries. From the report: A White House executive order last month to restrict some foreign-made networking gear and services due to cybersecurity concerns started a 150-day review of the U.S. telecommunications supply chain. As part of that review, U.S. officials are asking telecom-equipment manufacturers whether they can make and develop U.S.-bound hardware, which includes cellular-tower electronics as well as routers and switches, and software outside of China, the people said. The conversations are in early and informal stages, they said. The executive order calls for a list of proposed rules and regulations by the 150-day deadline, in October; so, any proposals may take months or years to adopt.   The proposals could force the biggest companies that sell equipment to U.S. wireless carriers, Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson, to move major operations out of China to service the U.S., which is the biggest market in the $250 billion-a-year global industry for telecom equipment and related services and infrastructure. There is no major U.S. manufacturer of cellular equipment. U.S. officials have long worried that Beijing could order Chinese engineers to insert security holes into technology made in China. They worry those security holes could be exploited for spying, or to remotely control or disable devices.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • NASA Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility of Life
    The Curiosity mission's scientists picked up the signal this week, and are seeking additional readings from the red planet. From a report: Mars, it appears, is belching a large amount of a gas that could be a sign of microbes living on the planet today. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source.] In a measurement taken on last Wednesday, NASA's Curiosity rover discovered startlingly high amounts of methane in the Martian air, a gas that on Earth is usually produced by living things. The data arrived back on Earth on last Thursday, and by Friday in the week, scientists working on the mission were excitedly discussing the news, which has not yet been announced by NASA. "Given this surprising result, we've reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment," Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission, wrote to the science team in an email that was obtained by The Times.   The mission's controllers on Earth sent new instructions to the rover on Friday to follow up on the readings, bumping previously planned science work. The results of these observations are expected back on the ground later today. People have long been fascinated by the possibility of aliens on Mars. But NASA's Viking landers in the 1970s photographed a desolate landscape. Two decades later, planetary scientists thought Mars might have been warmer, wetter and more habitable in its youth some 4 billion years ago. Now, they are entertaining the notion that if life ever did arise on Mars, its microbial descendants could have migrated underground and persisted.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • How One VC Firm Amassed a 24% Stake in Slack Worth $4.6 Billion
    An anonymous reader shares a report: Stewart Butterfield loved the game, but not enough people agreed with him. He spent two years and raised roughly $11 million to build an online adventure game called Glitch that featured garrulous, blue-headed creatures and milk-drunk butterflies. Once people had a chance to play it and Butterfield could track the numbers, the verdict was clear: Glitch was a flop. "There was this night where I just lost faith," Butterfield said in a podcast interview. He decided in 2012 that it was game over. Butterfield made plans to shut down the company and give the remaining money back to his investors.   Andrew Braccia, a partner at venture capital firm Accel, wouldn't accept the refund. He and other investors urged Butterfield to keep the remaining $5 million and try something else. That turned into Slack Technologies, the maker of corporate chat software that went public Thursday. At the close of trading, Slack's market value was $19 billion. Accel invested about $200 million in Slack over seven years, largely driven by Braccia's unwavering faith in Butterfield. As of the stock debut, Accel held 24% of the company, the biggest VC stake in a newly public unicorn in recent history. Those shares are worth $4.6 billion today.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • USB Inventor Regrets Making Them So Difficult To Plug in Correctly
    An anonymous reader shares a report: While plugging plug a mouse, a phone, or a thumb drive into your computer, you try to stick the USB into its slot, only to find it stopping prematurely. You flip it around, but it still won't go in. So you flip it back to the original position and it slides in without a hitch. We've all been there, and the inventor of the USB sees our pain. Ajay Bhatt, the leader behind the IBM team that gave us the USB in the mid-'90s, revealed in an interview with NPR Friday that he is well aware of the annoyances the public has with USB, or Universal Serial Bus, but there's a reason it's designed the way it is.   "The biggest annoyance is reversibility," Bhatt told NPR. For outsiders, it seems like designing the USB so it can be reversible would be an easy fix to everyone's problems, so no matter which way you stick it in it's a success. Bhatt told NPR that would have doubled the cost of the technology, requiring double the wires and circuits. Another option that the Intel team floated was a round design, but that would have been even more difficult to plug in correctly. Although the rectangle design we all know was ultimately chosen and adopted by pretty much every hardware manufacturer since Apple first put USB ports into its computers in 1998, Bhatt acknowledges that there may have been a better way. "In hindsight, based on all the experiences that we all had, of course it was not as easy as it should be," Bhatt said.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Featuring Faster CPU, Up To 4GB of RAM Launched
    Raspberry Pi today introduced a new version of its popular line of single-board computer. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is the fastest Raspberry Pi ever, with the company promising "desktop performance comparable to entry-level x86 PC systems." The specifications are: A 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU (~3x performance); 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM; full-throughput Gigabit; Ethernet; dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking; Bluetooth 5.0; two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports; dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K; VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x; 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video; and complete compatibility with earlier Raspberry Pi products. It starts at $35.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Does Monopoly's Cash-Free AI Banker Teach the Wrong Lessons?
    "An updated version of the classic board game Monopoly has done away with cash entirely and now uses a voice-activated AI banker instead," reports MarketWatch, asking whether this teaches game-players the wrong lessons:  This is not the first time Monopoly has reflected today's cashless world. A 2006 edition of the game in the United Kingdom featured Visa-branded credit cards instead of paper play money. Similar versions of the game are also available in the U.S. Last year, Hasbro even released a version called Monopoly for Millennials in which players compete to buy experiences rather than real estate.   The new technology may appeal to kids used to interacting with voice-activated digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortana. Financial experts, however, remained on the fence about the game's educational value... By removing the physical element of the game, some argue that Monopoly's usefulness as a tool to teach children about money is reduced. "Removing physical Monopoly money reduces the educational benefit of the game by glossing over the important task of learning to manage and count your money," said Nicole Strbich, director of financial planning at Buckingham Advisors in Dayton, Ohio.   In the new version of the game, "The omnipotent talking top hat also will yell, 'YOU'RE BANKRUPT!' at you," reports CNET...   "Hey, Monopoly cheaters. Here's a version that won't let you sneak extra hundreds from the bank or neglect to pay your taxes."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Cop Awarded $585K After 'Dozens' Of Police Officers Accessed Their DMV Data 500 Times
    Slashdot reader Iwastheone shares a story from Ars Technica about what happened after Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources sent a privacy notification to a police officer in 2013:  An employee had abused his access to a government driver's license database and snooped on thousands of people in the state, mostly women. Krekelberg learned that she was one of them. When Krekelberg asked for an audit of accesses to her Department of Motor Vehicles records, as allowed by Minnesota state law, she learned that her information -- which would include things like her address, weight, height, and driver's license pictures -- had been viewed nearly 1,000 times since 2003, even though she was never under investigation by law enforcement... She later learned that over 500 of those lookups were conducted by dozens of other cops. Even more eerie, many officers had searched for her in the middle of the night.   Krekelberg eventually sued the city of Minneapolis, as well as two individual officers, for violating the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which governs the disclosure of personal information collected by state Departments of Motor Vehicles. Earlier this week, she won. On Wednesday, a jury awarded Krekelberg $585,000, including $300,000 in punitive damages from the two defendants, who looked up Krekelberg's information after she allegedly rejected their romantic advances, according to court documents...    More lawmakers have started advocating for data privacy regulations at the state and federal level, but those conversations have mostly focused on reining in big tech companies, rather than information that public employees can access.   Minneapolis's city attorney responded that the police department has changed its policies -- which had previously encouraged officers learning how to use the database to "go back to work and look up some of [their] friends and family members."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Microsoft's Mistakes: What Not To Do When The Government Investigates Your Monopoly
    As America's antitrust investigators eye Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon for possible government intervention, Bloomberg offers nine "lessons learned" from the way Microsoft handled its own antitrust investigation:   Don't deny the obvious... In the app-store business, Google and iPhone maker Apple together control more than 95 per cent of all US mobile app spending by consumers, according to Sensor Tower data. It could be more effective for these companies not to start by denying that leadership position -- if you have 80% or 90% percent of a market, arguing that you don't really dominate isn't the hill you want your legal reasoning to die on...   At the height of Microsoft's hubris (or carelessness, or both), the company sent Windows chief Jim Allchin to the stand with a doctored video that purported to show how computing performance would be degraded when the browser was removed from Windows on a single PC. It was actually done on several different computers and was an illustration of what might happen rather than a factual test, as the company initially claimed -- a fact that came to light only after several days of the government picking through every inconsistency in the video. Microsoft remade the simulation several times in an effort to save the testimony. The company seemed to think it could get away with baldy stating a technological claim and mocking up something that backed it up, perhaps reasoning that no one would know the difference, but it miscalculated badly...    In an interview last year at the Code Conference, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith lamented the distraction the case caused, and cited it as a reason the company missed out on the search market -- the business that fueled the runaway success of Google, now under the microscope itself. Others have pinned Microsoft's abysmal performance in mobile computing partially on constraints and distractions from the case...   Consider settling early.   The article also remembers leaks of Bill Gates deposition ("During their playback in court, the judge laughed at several points") and ultimately concludes that "observers and legal pundits almost uniformly agree the software giant did virtually everything wrong in the course of the investigation." A federal judge ordered Microsoft be split in two, "a fate Microsoft avoided when an appeals court reversed that part of the ruling and the company eventually settled."  "That 2002 settlement led to nine years of court supervision of the company's business practices and required Microsoft to give the top 20 computer makers identical contract terms for licensing Windows, and gave computer makers greater freedom to promote non-Microsoft products like browsers and media-playing software..."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Delta Airlines Begins Using Facial Recognition Scanners To Replace Boarding Passes
    "Delta Air Lines announced it will give passengers who fly out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport the option to use facial recognition to board their flight instead of a standard boarding pass," reported a CBS affiliate this week.    The facial scanners will be installed this week at 16 gates, with availability on all international flights through Delta beginning in July. The airline is working with Customs and Border Protection on the process. The way it works is gate agents use facial scans for boarding passengers so that they don't need to manually compare their faces and their passport photos. They can skip to using the facial technology. Delta says the process saves about two seconds per passenger or about nine minutes for a plane with 270 people.   Delta says 72% of its customers have said they prefer facial recognition to standard boarding procedures. But James Lileks, a columnist for the Star Tribune, explains some of the ways this makes him uncomfortable: Here's the thing. You don't sign up for the facial recognition. You don't send them your face. They already have it. This part is just... glided over in the news reports, waved away like a minor detail you needn't worry your silly little head about.  The picture they probably have is my passport photo, taken in 2010... So I guess I'll have to stuff my cheeks with cotton before I lean into the machine that connects to a database of everyone's mug, and hope it doesn't go off   "I don't know what they do with people who grew a beard," Lileks adds, "but there's probably the option to shave on the spot."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Remembering The Retiree Who Became America's Worst Counterfeiter
    The Hustle tells the story of a mysterious legend who "produced thousands of the ugliest counterfeit $1 bills ever poorly done that the Secret Service thought the perpetrator was intentionally mocking them" -- using a small hand-driven printing press in his kitchen: It was printed on cheap bond paper that could be found at any stationary store. The serial numbers were "fuzzy" and misaligned, the Secret Service later said. George Washington's likeness was "clumsily retouched, murky and deathlike," with black blotches for eyes. And just for good measure, the ex-president's name was misspelled "Wahsington"...   He also never spent money in the same place twice: His "hits" spanned subway stations, dime stores, and tavern owners all over Manhattan. Investigators set up a map of New York in their office, marking each $1 counterfeit location with a red thumbtack. They handed out some 200,000 warning placards at 10,000 stores. They tracked down dozens of folks who'd spent the bills. But 10 years came and went, and the search for Mister 880 turned into the largest and most expensive counterfeit investigation in Secret Service history. By 1947, the Secret Service had documented some $7,000 of the distinctively terrible fake $1 bills -- about 5% of the $137,318 of fake currency estimated to be in circulation nation-wide. As it turned out, the worst counterfeiter in history was also the most elusive...   Agents busted into the brownstone, expecting to find a criminal mastermind. Instead, they were greeted by a jovial 73-year-old -- "5'3" tall, [with a] lean hard muscled frame, a healthy pink face, bright blue eyes, a shiny bald dome, a fringe of snowy hair over his ears, a wispy white mustache, and hardly any teeth." It was Emerich Jeuttner, the old junk collector. Juettner seemed unfazed and endearingly aloof. When answering questions, he'd pause and offer a toothless grin...  "They were only $1 bills. I never gave more than one of them to any one person, so nobody ever lost more than $1."   The likeable 73-year-old was given a lenient sentence of 1 year and 1 day, the article points out -- meaning Jeuttner was eligible for parole after four months. And he was given a fine of exactly $1.   Jeuttner then sold the rights to his life story for a 1950 film (which won an Academy Award) -- bringing him more money than he'd earned during all of his years as a counterfeiter.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Amazonians Visit High Schools To Inspect the Amazon Future Engineer Troops
    theodp writes: Amazon Future Engineer students across the country are graduating from high school," reports the Amazon Day One blog, "and to celebrate, Amazonians visited select classrooms to meet some of the students and to check out their impressive computer science progress and end of year projects [TV coverage of an 'Amazon graduation'].   Amazon Future Engineer "is a four-part, childhood-to-career program aimed at inspiring and educating 10 million students from underrepresented and underserved communities each year to try computer science and coding. Amazon strives to achieve this by inspiring millions of children through coding camps and's Hour of Code program, funding computer science courses in high schools across the country, providing 100 students with four-year college scholarships in computer science, and offering Amazon internships to scholarship recipients."   The importance of CS education to Amazon is highlighted in a new Washingtonian story, The Real Story of How Virginia Won Amazon's HQ2, which reports, "Northern Virginia's ultimate proposal was centered around an effort to provide Amazon -- or any other tech firm that wanted to come -- with all the educated workers it needed, now and in the future. [Virginia Economic Development Partnership CEO Stephen] Moret's team proposed increasing tech education from kindergarten through 12th grade, expanding university offerings to produce up to 17,500 new bachelor's degrees in computer science and related fields, and building a tech campus that could produce the same number of master's degrees."   And in a recent Brookings Institution fireside chat, Moret noted, "we analyzed substantially all of the LinkedIn profiles of HQ1 — the Seattle workforce... And if you look at the tech occupations — that was the space they were the most concerned about — literally half of all the people at Amazon Seattle headquarters that are working in some kind of tech occupation, half of them have at least one degree in computer science. So, that was a really big data point for us; and that really shaped a lot of how we built our package.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Register

  • Out of Steam? Wine draining away? Ubuntu's 64-bit-only x86 decision is causing migraines
    i386 binaries will still run, says Canonical, but it may not be good enough for key apps
    Updated Canonical's decision to effectively ditch official support for 32-bit x86 in Ubuntu 19.10, codenamed Eoan, means the Steam gaming runtime is likely to run aground on the Linux operating system – and devs say the Wine compatibility layer for running Windows apps will be of little use.…

  • DXC: We've told UK government that up to 2,150 heads could roll in latest job cuts
    'Expect actual number to go to be much less' says firm, as 1k put hand up for voluntary redundancy
    Exclusive DXC Technology has told UK government and Unite that – in a worst case scenario – more than 2,000 locals could be made redundant in the latest round of expense cuts, which could also include the closure of one site.…

 offline for now


  • Ubuntu To Provide Select 32-Bit Packages For Ubuntu 19.10 & 20.04 LTS
    It looks like my info from this weekend was accurate, "I'm hearing that Canonical may revert course and provide limited 32-bit support." Canonical issued a statement today that they indeed will provide "selected" 32-bit packages for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 as well as Ubuntu 20.04 LTS...

  • Benchmarking The Intel Performance Change With Linux FSGSBASE Support
    As covered last week, the Linux kernel is finally about to see FSGSBASE support a feature supported by Intel CPUs going back to Ivybridge and can help performance. Since that earlier article the FS/GS BASE patches have been moved to the x86/cpu branch meaning unless any last-minute problems arise the functionality will be merged for the Linux 5.3 cycle. I've also begun running some benchmarks to see how this will change the Linux performance on Intel hardware.

  • Official x86 Zhaoxin Processor Support Is Coming With Linux 5.3
    Zhaoxin is the company producing Chinese x86 CPUs created by a joint venture between VIA and the Shanghai government. The current Zhaoxin ZX CPUs are based on VIA's Isaiah design and making use of VIA's x86 license. With the Linux 5.3 kernel will be better support for these Chinese desktop x86 CPUs...

  • Fedora's GRUB2 EFI Build To Offer Greater Security Options
    In addition to disabling root password-based SSH log-ins by default, another change being made to Fedora 31 in the name of greater security is adding some additional GRUB2 boot-loader modules to be built-in for their EFI boot-loader...

  • Ubuntu Developer Talks Down Impact Of 32-Bit Changes For Ubuntu 19.10
    Following Valve saying they won't be officially supporting Ubuntu 19.10 and Wine developers questioning their Ubuntu 32-bit builds following the announcement this week of not providing new 32-bit packages for new Ubuntu releases, longtime Ubuntu developer and Canonical employee Steve Langasek is trying to provide some clarity into the situation...

  • Linux Kernel "LOCKDOWN" Ported To Being An LSM, Still Undergoing Review
    It didn't make it for the Linux 5.2 kernel and now it's up to its 33rd revision on the Linux kernel mailing list... The "lockdown" patches for locking down access to various kernel hardware features has been reworked now and is a Linux Security Module (LSM) as it still tries to get enough endorsements to be mainlined...

  • Microsoft Releases First Preview Of Windows Terminal
    In addition to the recent preview of Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2), Microsoft also kept to their word from the Build 2019 conference of issuing their first preview of "Windows Terminal" in June. The first of several preview releases of Windows Terminal is now available from the Microsoft Store...

  • Valve Is Funding Improvements To KDE's KWin & More Work On X.Org
    As some good news this week amid all the 32-bit Linux gaming drama this week and the networking snafu... Valve is now funding another developer to work on upstream open-source code, in particular on the KDE side this time with a developer who had been working for Blue Systems...

  • Canonical Developer Tries Running GOG Games On 64-Bit-Only Ubuntu 19.10 Setup
    In response to the decision to drop 32-bit x86 support beginning in Ubuntu 19.10, Alan Pope of Canonical and longtime Ubuntu member decided to try running some GOG games under an Ubuntu 19.10 daily build that he configured to remove the 32-bit packages ahead of the actual removal. Unfortunately, his experience didn't go so smoothly...

  • Libdrm Picks Up Support For AMD Navi
    As another one of the prerequisites for landing the AMD Radeon RX 5000 series "Navi" support in Mesa, the libdrm bits have just been merged...

  • The Latest Linux 5.2 + Mesa 19.2 Radeon Performance Against NVIDIA With Mid-Range GPUs
    With the Linux 5.2 kernel a few weeks out from its stable release and now being in the middle of the Mesa 19.2 development cycle for the RADV Vulkan and RadeonSI OpenGL drivers, here are some fresh results looking at the latest open-source AMD Radeon Linux graphics driver stack compared to the latest NVIDIA proprietary graphics driver. In this article the focus is on the mid-range (Polaris) line-up against the NVIDIA competition while similar tests on the high-end are currently being carried out.

Engadget"Engadget RSS Feed"

  • Canonical backtracks on pulling 32-bit support from Ubuntu Linux
    Last week, Ubuntu announced it would end support for 32-bit applications, starting with its next release. But the decision was not well-received, especially by the gaming community, and Valve announced plans to drop support for Ubuntu in Steam. In response, Canonical (which produces Ubuntu) has decided to support select 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu versions 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.

    Rather than pull support altogether, Canonical will enable support for the applications where there's a specific need. It will work with WINE, Ubuntu Studio and gaming communities to address the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries. But gamers should still be able to run old applications on newer versions of Ubuntu.

    In a blog post, Canonical said it's been discussing whether or not to support 32-bit x86 internally since 2014. "None of those discussions raised the passions we've seen here," the company wrote, so it assumed it had consensus to drop support in newer versions. Apparently Ubuntu gamers felt otherwise. "Community discussions can sometimes take unexpected turns, and this is one of those," Canonical wrote.

    Canonical does warn that running software that gets little testing is inherently risky, and since there are fewer eyes on 32-bit x86 packages, there's an increased chance that they'll develop bugs. While it's a bit of a play-at-your-own risk scenario, at least Linux users with extensive Ubuntu collections won't lose their Steam game libraries.

    Source: Canonical

  • Carnegie Mellon will help Ford advance its self-driving vehicle tech
    Ford's autonomous vehicle arm Argo AI is already testing self-driving vehicles in a handful of cities. But the company has a few key puzzles to solve before it can deploy its fleets on a large scale. To help answer the remaining questions -- like how can autonomous vehicles reason in highly unstructured broken-traffic conditions -- Argo is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The newly formed Carnegie Mellon University Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research will work to advance the next-generation of self-driving tech.

    Argo AI has pledged $15 million over five years, and the funding will support five faculty, along with a group of doctoral candidates. The center will work to advance autonomous vehicle tech as a whole, but it will also help Argo AI develop its next-generation technology and push into more cities. According to Argo, neither industry nor academia alone can solve the challenges of developing and deploying self-driving cars and the infrastructure needed to support them; together, though, Argo and CMU might stand a chance. Argo isn't the first autonomous vehicle company to partner with CMU. A few years ago, Uber was charged with poaching the university's robotics lab of top staff. It's likely this time around CMU will be looking for a more collaborative endeavor.

    Source: Argo AI

  • Osmo releases iPad learning kit for preschoolers
    Here's an interesting alternative to playing your toddler more Sesame Street reruns: Edtech company Osmo has launched an iPad-enabled learning tool for the preschool set. Aimed at children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old, the Little Genius Starter Kit comes with four interactive games aimed at teaching youngsters the alphabet, the essentials of drawing and creative problem-solving. The company known for its iPad hookups that teach kids how to code or let them build their own racecars is diving deeper into traditional core skills like building vocabulary or learning math. Osmo already sells a Genius Starter Kit aimed at teaching older children spelling and arithmetic; this new kit is similar, just aimed at younger kids..

    Unlike purely app-based games, Osmo's Little Genius Starter Kit comes with an iPad base and board attachments that basically converts your tablet into a hands-on game. For example, one game has kids build shapes on the board and then replicates their drawings on the iPad's screen. Osmo says its system combines the "hands-on play" approach favored by educational theorists Friedrich Froebel and Maria Montessori with advanced computer vision.

    The four games included with the kit help kids learn vocabulary, build more artistic confidence, sort similar objects and solve problems. Osmo expects to release Little Genius Starter Kit in the coming weeks, but you can pre-order it starting today for $79 on Amazon. If you want a closer look at how the games work, watch the preview below.

    Source: Twitter, Osmo

  • Sidewalk Labs finally publishes its smart city master plan
    Better late than never. Sidewalk Labs, the part of Alphabet focused on cities and urban development, has unveiled itsMaster Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) for a proposed smart neighborhood on Toronto's Eastern Waterfront. The MIDP is called a "draft," but it's the first official pitch document that sets out the company's vision for the area. It will be scrutinized by Waterfront Toronto, a publicly-funded organization, and ultimately, voted on by its board and the Toronto city council in late 2019 and early 2020. If it goes through, Sidewalk hopes to begin construction on the first part -- a site called Quayside -- before 2021.

    The company has shared morsels of its smart city vision before. These include the 200-page document that helped it secure the project -- that is, the right to develop the MIDP -- back in October 2017. Since then, Sidewalk Labs has been stuck in a research phase, consulting with experts and gathering public feedback. The team has shared some, but not all of its evolving ideas through a mixture of live events, blog posts, PDF presentations and podcasts. These snippets, it always emphasized, were exploratory and subject-to-change ahead of its all-important MIDP.

    The document, even in draft form, solidifies the company's thinking. It also gives Toronto residents their clearest picture yet of what a smart neighborhood spearheaded by Sidewalk Labs -- and by extension, Google -- might look like. Below, we've summarized the main features that will likely spark debate in the coming months.
    Quayside and Villiers West
    First and foremost, a bit of geographical background. The company is currently proposing two smart neighborhoods -- Quayside and Villiers West -- that will exist inside a broader area called the Innovative Development and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) district. Quayside would be the first part of the project, and house 4,200 residents. The company is then proposing a partial redevelopment of Villiers Island, called Villiers West, that would house a 1.5 million square foot innovation campus. Google would build a new headquarters on this land and an applied research institute for urban innovation, "anchored by local institutions." Villiers West would house 2,700 residents and offer 7,400 jobs.

    As expected, Sidewalk Labs wants to use timber to construct most of the buildings inside the Eastern Waterfront. The materials would be sourced from a new factory in Ontario that would, according to the company, create roughly 2,500 manufacturing jobs. The final structures would offer adaptable "Loft" spaces with floor plates that can serve both residential and commercial tenants. They would have also have "flexible wall panels" to accelerate renovations and reduce vacancies. Crucially, the company is promising "an ambitious below-market housing program" that would include 20 percent affordable housing and 20 percent middle-income housing units.

    Every building inside Quayside will have a Toronto Green Standard Tier 3 rating for energy efficiency and a Tier 4 rating for greenhouse gas intensity. The district would also leverage a thermal grid that, in part, relies on the natural temperature of the earth to both heat and cool homes. In addition, Quayside would use solar energy, some kind of battery storage solutions, and software called Schedulers to optimize energy usage for residents, businesses and building operators. Finally, the proposed smart neighborhoods would have a "smart disposal chain" that includes an underground tube system for household and business waste.

    Sidewalk Labs is pushing ahead with the independent data trust that it first announced last October. The proposed watchdog would oversee, analyze and ultimately approve any company that wants to collect or use urban data -- including Sidewalk Labs. The Alphabet-owned company has made three overarching commitments: No selling personal information, no using personal information for advertising, and no disclosing personal information to third parties without explicit consent. The trust, though, could hold other companies to higher or lower standards -- for now, it's still a theoretical concept. The ambiguity though, won't assure residents who are worried the project will become a privacy nightmare.

    Public space
    Sidewalk Labs is pitching three major public spaces for Quayside, called Parliament Plaza, Parliament Slip and Silo Field. They would be supported by building "Raincoats" and free-standing "Fanshells" to provide shelter during harsh weather. The company will also introduce an adaptable ground-floor "stoa" concept that can support stores, restaurants, community spaces, pop-ups and small businesses. In addition, Sidewalk Labs will push ahead with its modular pavement system that could make it easier to repurpose parts of the city -- think temporary street festivals, rush-hour cycle lanes and ride-hailing drop-off points -- for public use.

    Everyone wants to know how Sidewalk Labs will make money from the project. In the MIDP, the company outlined its "specific commitments" and associated "business models." The commitments include a $900 million equity investment that will form part of a $3.9 billion budget for both Quayside and Villiers West. It's also proposing $400 million in optional financing to accelerate the development of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) that is needed to connect the area to the rest of Quayside, as well as "municipal and advanced infrastructure systems" in the area.

    On the flipside, Sidewalk wants "standard real-estate economics" for property sold and rented across both Quayside and Villiers West. It would also charge for "advisory services," and "standalone economics" for its investment in the proposed timber factory ($80 million) and a new venture fund ($10 million), based in Villiers West, with a mission to help Canadian startups. Sidewalk Labs would also charge for select technologies that cannot be provided by external partners and request some kind of "market return" for the optional LRT financing, should Toronto decide to go with it.

    Finally, Sidewalk is suggesting performance payments, at the end of the project, based on the following: "Success in accelerating development, achieving priority outcomes, and generating new economic activity and government revenues."

    Sidewalk admits that its involvement beyond Quayside -- including Villiers West, which would house its new Google office -- will need to be "earned, not guaranteed." It has therefore proposed a number of steps that will be gated -- until it completes the first, it cannot start the second, and so forth. The steps include submitting a Quayside development plan before 2021; beginning construction on Quayside before 2022; submitting a Villiers West Development Plan before 2023; beginning construction on Villierst West before 2024; proposing innovation guidelines for the broader IDEA district by 2025; and requesting performance payments by 2028.

    "To successfully achieve each stage gate, Sidewalk Labs would prove that its progress was consistent with Waterfront Toronto's priority objectives and demonstrate the effectiveness of its overall approach," the company says in the MIDP.

    Reactions to the MIDP has been mixed. Stephen Diamond, Chairman of the Waterfront Toronto board of directors, said there were some "exciting ideas" in the document, as well as "proposals where it is clear that Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs have very different perspectives about what is required for success." He said the IDEA District was a "premature" suggestion and argued that Sidewalk Labs shouldn't be the lead developer of Quayside. "Should the MIDP go forward, it should be on the basis that Waterfront Toronto lead a competitive, public procurement process for a developer(s) to partner with Sidewalk Labs," he added.

    A protest movement called Block Sidewalk, meanwhile, has criticized the company for labeling its MIDP a "draft" document. "Sidewalk Labs has succeeded in pressuring Waterfront Toronto to consider this plan as a 'draft,' even though they had already bought months and months of extra time by saying they needed it to 'get it right,'" the protest group said in a statement prior to the MIDP's release. "They used that time to lobby politicians and cut side deals, and now they're doing it again. Waterfront Toronto needs to tell Sidewalk Labs that they've had more than enough time to 'get it right' and this will be considered the final version of the plan."

    The MIDP is split into four parts. We've embedded each volume below.
    Volume 0

    Volume 1

    Volume 2

    Volume 3

    Source: (MIDP)

  • Apple releases public betas of iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina
    Now's your chance to peek at the future of Apple software without signing up for a developer account. Apple has released the first public betas of iOS 13, iPadOS and macOS Catalina, giving you a taste of what's to come in the fall if you're willing to live with bugs and compatibility issues. The highlight for many will be iOS 13, which brings the coveted dark mode as well as big updates to core apps like Mail, Maps, Notes and Reminders. You can expect smarter photo browsing, Memoji sticker packs, an improved Siri voice and speedier app loading.

    This also marks the first public beta for iPadOS, Apple's newly forked tablet interface. On top of features borrowed from iOS, you'll see an information-packed home screen, desktop-grade web browsing, the ability to run multiple instances of the same app, support for external storage and other more PC-like overhauls.

    For macOS Catalina, meanwhile, it's mostly about the apps. There are now separate Music, Podcasts and TV apps, not to mention voice control over the operating system and the option of using an iPad as a secondary display. Some developer-oriented features, like Project Catalyst, won't really be useful in the public beta -- those will have to wait until apps built around the iOS-to-Mac technology are available.

    Source: Apple

  • iPadOS makes Apple's tablets feel like a priority again

    When I reviewed the iPad Pro last year, I was torn. Here was one of the most impressive (not to mention expensive) tablets any company had ever made, and its software seemed caught between two goals: provide the classic, friendly iOS experience people were used to, and grow in a way that made it more meaningful to pro users shelling out for premium hardware.

    With iPadOS, Apple is striking a better balance between those two priorities. And now that the company is releasing the software as a public beta, anyone will be able to install iPadOS and check in on the company's progress. After using a beta build for a few days, I'm already impressed with the changes Apple has made. Some are more subtle than others but all told, this new software refines the iPad experience in some important ways. Let's take a closer look.

    A quick note: Despite what its name might suggest, iPadOS is basically just a tablet-tuned version of iOS 13. Because of that, I'm not going to rehash all of the new features and fixes Apple baked into its mobile OS. For a deeper dive into all that, I suggest you check out our iOS 13 preview here.
    Look and feel
    The first thing you'll notice once you load iPadOS onto an iPad are the app icons: They're smaller! And you can fit far more of them on a single screen now. Think: 30 (not including what's in the dock), up from 20 in earlier versions of iOS. It takes a little getting used to on hardware like the iPad mini, but it makes a big difference for larger tablets like the Air and Pro, which were stuck with a considerable amount of dead space between icons. That always meant more home screens or more folders, neither of which seemed ideal.

    Apple came up with another way to reduce wasted space: pinning Today widgets to the side of the home screen. This is one of those subtle touches you could ignore entirely if you wanted to, but I've found that having my to-do lists and breaking news within easy reach has been great. It's worth noting that these pinned widgets only appear while the iPad is propped up in landscape mode. Even so, Apple's design team has succeeded in making iPadOS feel a bit more like a traditional desktop OS, and it's a refreshing change of pace.
    Improved multitasking
    If all you've ever used an iPad for is web browsing and watching movies, Apple's updated multitasking system might not mean much to you. But if you've ever tried to actually get some work done on an iPad, you've surely had to deal with its limited multitasking tools. Sure, switching between apps is easy enough, and running two apps side by side in Split View and Slide Over has worked like a charm since iOS 11. With iPadOS, though, Apple has taken those multitasking features and made them much more flexible.

    Let's start with Slide Over. As usual, if you have an app open, you can long-press another app in your dock and drag it to the side of the screen to view it in a smaller, floating window. New here is the ability to quickly switch between all of the apps you've already set up in that window. Swiping left and the right at the bottom of that panel takes you back and forth between all of them. (If you're curious, there doesn't seem to be an upper limit to the number of apps you can keep in Slide Over.)
    Chris Velazco/Engadget

    If that sounds familiar, it's because Apple basically replicated the iPhone X's quick app switching, and it's remarkably helpful when you need different kinds of context while keeping your focus on the main app panel. This past week, I've mostly been using it to keep an eye on incoming text messages and controlling Spotify while writing this article. When you need to find a specific app running in Slide Over, a swipe up from the bottom of the window displays all of them at once for easy access to the right software.

    Make no mistake: This is a big improvement over earlier versions of iOS, where you could keep just one app running in that narrow window. What's less great is that, as usual, you can only easily pull this off if the app you want to use in Slide Over already lives in the dock. In theory, it's easy enough to just load the dock up with all the software you use regularly, but this is less than ideal if you want to keep the dock from looking too cluttered. (In fairness, some of you won't find this nearly as annoying as I do.)
    Chris Velazco/Engadget

    Meanwhile, Split View -- which lets you run two apps side by side -- works as well as it always did, but with a twist. iPadOS allows you to view content from the same app in two different windows. Let's say you're scoping some new restaurants for an evening out. Grabbing one of the Google search results and dragging it to the side of the screen opens that webpage in a separate Safari window. Or how about this one: You're using the Files app and want to view a document while you keep skimming through the rest of your folder. Easy, just grab the document, drag and drop; you can do both at the same time. You get where I'm going with this. Ultimately, I'd love to be able to pick up an iPad Pro and run multiple apps in multiple, self-contained windows as on a desktop, but this is as close we're going to get for now.

    When you do pull off this split-screen trickery on purpose, it's genuinely helpful. My problem (for now, at least) is that when I'm holding the iPad and scrolling through a webpage, it's a little too easy to accidentally grab some element on-screen and yank it out into its own window. This is especially annoying when you're scrolling through pages with lots of image links (Reddit immediately comes to mind). It's irksome enough that Apple might want to rethink the timing required for this to work correctly.
    Chris Velazco/Engadget
    Better browsing
    Apple was keen to talk up iPadOS' "desktop-class" browsing at WWDC, and with good reason. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most important changes available here. In the past, browsing the internet with Safari on an iPad was kind of a crapshoot: Sometimes you'd get the full desktop version of a site, and the pared-down mobile view from another. Sure, you could force Safari to serve you the desktop version, but that extra step shouldn't ever have been necessary. Now it's not.

    Every website I've tried on an iPad Pro and iPad mini running the new software correctly loaded as the full-fat desktop version. More importantly, web apps that Safari has previously struggled run perfectly in iPadOS, even on smaller devices like the mini. Here at Engadget, our parent company uses Google Apps, including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, etcetera. I've used all of those things at least once while testing iPadOS, and I'm pleased to report that after I mastered the touch input required, Safari handled each of those apps beautifully. Oh, and for the first time, I've been able to actually use Engadget's web-based CMS properly in Safari on an iPad. I probably shouldn't be shocked, but, well, here I am.
    Chris Velazco/Engadget

    At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is a big deal. Issues with web compatibility have made it hard for me (and for other people, I'm sure) to embrace iPads are full-fledged work machines. With those restrictions lifted in iPadOS, the idea of using an iPad as your sole computer isn't nearly as far-fetched as it used to be.

    Speaking of traditional computers, Safari has one more feature that's already part of any desktop-caliber web browser: a download manager. At long last, you can download files directly inside Safari, and manage them from a single place. Of course, that only really matters because of another big, underlying change Apple made to its mobile software.
    A new, old approach to files
    Assuming you're willing to shell out the cash, you can pick up an iPad with lots of storage space; two variants of the 2018 iPad Pro come with a whopping terabyte of storage. Until now, the problem was that you could never actually use that space to store and manage your personal files. Apple's Files app always let you poke around in folders created on the iPad itself, but that was about it.

    Now, with iPadOS, you can create your own folders on your iPad and fill them up with your own stuff, whether you downloaded these files through Safari or pulled them over from a USB thumb drive. That latter option is especially convenient: Just plug one in (assuming it uses USB-C) or connect it via an adapter. It'll show up as an external drive in Files and you can start moving stuff around as needed.

    Apple also says that you can connect USB hard drives to an iPad and manage your files that way too, but I haven't had any luck on that front; the Western Digital drive I connected drew power from the iPad and spun up as normal, but it never mounted in a way that the Files app could access. I guess I'll just have to try some more hard drives. Regardless, I've moved loads of documents and photos off a thumb drive.

    But wait, there's more. The Files app now has a Mac-like column view that makes it easy to dig into all your nested folders. iPadOS also supports zipping and unzipping files directly on-device, so I haven't needed to worry about ferrying downloaded files off the iPad to decompress them. And while it doesn't seem to work just yet, you'll also be able to use the Files app to access SMB network drives, in case those are things you have to deal with regularly. I'll admit that lots of people who own iPads, maybe even most of them, will never get worked up over these file handling changes. Oh well. They're still useful, and they show how Apple is improving the iPad experience by blurring the line between tablets and traditional computers.
    Everything else
    Since I've had limited time with the iPadOS beta so far, there are some features I haven't used as much as others. These are some of the standouts.

    Pencil improvements: I'm more of a doodler and a note-taker than I used to be, but I still don't use the Apple Pencil that often. But for those of you who do, there are plenty of Pencil-friendly updates to be found in iPadOS. The palette of tools that pops up when you start using the Pencil has been redesigned, and you can flick it around the screen so it doesn't obscure whatever you were doing in the first place. Apple has also said that, thanks to some under-the-hood optimizations, the Pencil's latency has dropped to as low as 9ms. With that said, I haven't noticed a huge difference in Pencil performance so far.

    For what it's worth, one of the smallest changes to the Pencil experience has been the most useful. If you swipe in from the side of the screen with the Pencil, the iPad will take a screenshot you can immediately start marking up. You can even use this feature to take full-length screenshots of web pages and documents.

    Sidecar: One of the most interesting additions to iPadOS is the ability to connect iPad Pros to Macs for use as secondary displays or graphics tablets. My colleague Dana has the Catalina update running on an iMac and took the feature for a spin herself. You can read her impressions here.

    Mouse support: At long last, you can use a mouse (wired or Bluetooth) with your iPad. It takes a little setting up, though: You have to enable it as a pointing device in the Assistive Touch, which requires a trip into iPadOS' accessibility settings. Scroll wheels work fine right out of the gate, and if your mouse has additional buttons you can easily customize their actions. Keep in mind that iPadOS and iOS aren't really optimized for interacting with mice, so the feature isn't quite as helpful as you might hope. Since there aren't any sensitivity controls, the cursor just jets all over the screen even though I'm barely moving my hand.

    It'll be a few more months before Apple releases a final version of iPadOS and based on what I've seen so far, it's going to be worth the wait. The company's business customers should be especially excited: Apple addressed many of the criticisms that prevented the iPad Pro from being the do-it-all computer it aspires to be. As for everyone else, they'll benefit from subtle performance improvements and some extra polish. There's something for everyone here, and since Apple is one of the last major players in the tablet space, that's good news indeed.

  • A weekend with 'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite'
    Mat Smith and Dan Cooper grew up in the UK at the right age to witness the birth of Pottermania. The Harry Potter novels are firmly encoded in their very British psyches, and both are fans of augmented reality, GPS-connected mobile games. So it made plenty of sense that they spend a weekend playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. One of them is a convert; the other, a hater, so let's watch them hash this out -- politely, of course.

    Daniel Cooper
    Senior Editor

    Do we need to start this by establishing our credentials?

    I was a schoolboy judge for the Carnegie Awards -- a British children's literature prize -- the year the first book came out.

    At the risk of sounding awful, I was reading Harry Potter long before it became its own Thing™. And, I'm a big Pokémon Go nerd and still play the game on a daily basis.

    Mat Smith
    Bureau Chief, UK

    I played Pokémon Go pretty hard at the start, when I was living in Tokyo, which was obsessed with the game. Parks were filled with people walking around, tethered to their phone and a battery pack, myself included. Sadly, as the new discoveries slowed, gym battles fell into the rut of using combinations of the same five powerful Pokémon (Vaporeon FTW) I got bored. At this point, I haven't played Pokémon Go in years.

    Dan: This explains why we're not gift-trading friends in Pokémon Go, which is a much better game now Niantic has solved many of its gameplay kinks. It's still addictive, and thanks to Adventure Sync -- which negates the use of GPS for walking -- it no longer rinses your battery.

    Going in, I expected Wizards Unite to be Pokémon Go, but dressed up in different clothes. The company has a winning formula. But what we got feels like a half-step away from Go, neither far enough away to be its own thing nor too close to repeat the original formula. Which is my polite, long-winded way of saying I'm not into it.

    Mat: Over the weekend Wizards Unite got its hooks into me as deep as Pokémon Go did. Part of that is because you can progress so quickly in urban areas, and there's more to do. There are more landmarks, inns and greenhouses for topping up your spell power, and wizard challenge arenas. I'm lucky that my apartment block is in a challenge arena, which is Wizards Unite's version of the Pokémon Gym.

    Is there much around your area?

    Dan: As Pokemon Go has matured, it's gotten a lot better about populating suburban areas with landmarks, I live opposite a Gym, with three stops outside my front door. I'm annoyed that my gym has been turned into a greenhouse in the Wizards Unite universe, rather than a challenge arena, however. Speaking of which, I'm pretty annoyed at how needlessly complicated it is to make potions in the game.

    Mat: I think the battles in the game are far more exciting than anything else at this early stage.

    Dan: I'll have to take you at your word because it's one of the parts of the game that I don't have enough experience with to opine on. The fact that the number of real-world battle locations has shrunk (it's not 1:1 with Go) isn't ideal. And the rest of the game's mechanics aren't great. Select a confoundable...

    Mat: Yeah, the new Potterverse terms are really, really clanky.

    Dan: ... cast a spell by tracing a glyph, and if you do it with enough accuracy, you'll "defeat" the magical nasty. It's an inversion of Pokemon Gos gameplay, where you're sending creatures away rather than capturing them in your menagerie.

    This is exacerbated by how much the game YOU HAVE LEVELLED UP! wants to keep you invested in the YOU HAVE LEVELLED UP! game. Rather than easing you into YOU HAVE LEVELLED UP! the menus with a gentle tutorial, it YOU HAVE LEVELLED UP! leads you around by the nose. Except there's YOU HAVE LEVELLED UP! too much to learn YOU HAVE LEVELLED UP! all at once, so you're left with this frontal assault of shapes and colors.

    Not that it's anything new. It's the same sort of system that slot machines perfected and a litany of mobile games copied in the hopes of juicing success. Press a button, any button, get a reward and that first little hit of dopamine keeps you coming back.

    Even reading the tutorial with the fine eye of someone who knew he would have to write about it 48 hours later, I was still lost within minutes.

    Mat: And there are so many achievements and rewards that I found it easier to just play the game and let the rewards roll in. To be honest, that was pretty liberating. I was also surprised that I wasn't all that tempted by any in-app payments yet, though it's still early days.

    Dan: I don't want to invest hours (or money) into a game that I'm just playing on autopilot, just pressing buttons and waiting for the flashy lights.

    Mat: Because of the early overload of pop-ups, free items and story-setting, I struggled, like you, to actually play the game. The dynamics of wizard challenges (gym battles) were so different from the rest of the game, and so opaque, that I had to Google to comprehend what I was meant to do. I wish the tutorials were accessible from where you need them, rather than thrown up all at once. Once I'd figured it out, though, they were kinda fun.

    There's definitely a rough learning curve, which was something that
    Pokémon Go nailed.

    Go is great because its gameplay is -- on the surface -- very simple and very repeatable: Walk to a location, play (essentially) Paper Toss. Walk to another location. Battle. You had a reason to walk, not only to get goodies from stops, but to hatch eggs as well. Every layer of the game was embedded in both a story and gameplay reason for its existence.

    Mat: Do you think that
    Pokémon Go looks better than Wizards Unite? I do. All of these creatures look a bit... PlayStation 2, if you know what I mean. Throw in the TJ Maxx Daniel Radcliffe and Dame Maggie Smith and there's a whiff of Square Enix's Avengers game to them all.

    Dan: I don't want to be cruel about the game's graphics because the developers were in a pinch here. You can't replicate the gloriously varied CGI beasties from the films in a mobile game, but the overall result isn't as good here. I'm also annoyed that Harry Potter turns up at all, which is something of a controversial view given the game's called
    Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

    Why does Potter have to pop up so early in the game as little more than a tutorial character? Not to mention one of his jobs is to namedrop Hermione for no reason beyond fan service. It would have been smarter for Potter (and any other major character) to be absent in the game as a reason to keep playing. Lest we forget: MewTwo was held back from
    Pokémon Go for three years.

    Mat: Some of the character animations are pretty cute. The awkward Ron; the snarling Beatrix Lestrange.

    Dan: I think we both agree that the things holding back Wizards Unite are how messy and complicated it is.

    Mat: Oh it's far too complicated. And I've played
    Civilization and The Witcher.

    Dan: Who are you trying to impress?

    Mat: No, I mean, I can handle complex games, but this is not friendly to newbies. Too many items, types of items and game elements.

    Dan: This is the same issue that ruined
    Ghostbusters World, which was a Pokémon Go clone that let you get lost in a mess of menus and game formats. Here, we've got a thousand menus, a murky game system and a super-cluttered UI.

    I don't know if I want to be snitty about the gameplay, if only because it's hard to find something as addictive as Paper Toss.
    Angry Birds
    physics-based pull back and release mechanic worked well, as does flipping symbols in Bejeweled / Candy Crush / whatever. Tracing your finger over what is essentially an Android unlock pattern, by comparison, wears out its welcome.

    Mat: At least it's one part of the game that feels true to the source material: tracing magic spell runes. Although it does make it harder to play when you're walking.

    Dan: I suspect that, like the repeated exhortations not to trespass, it's a safety feature to slow down reckless players.

    Mat: It's probably a good thing. Circling back to the story, if you can call it that. It's all a little... lacking. You're not playing as one of the protagonists, but someone just mopping up the magical messes. Given the automated, generated, churny nature of AR exploration games, I doubt I'll be able to solve the lingering mystery about who unleashed this chaos onto the world. I'll just keep collecting things until I've picked up enough clues.

    Dan: That's it, you'll collect clues and then level up in the story to reach the next chapter, because it can't be more in-depth than that. It's a shame that we'll never get something like, say, Silent Streets, which had a strong authorial voice pushing its narrative.

    I'd have preferred a cleaner break from Potter and co, to live more fully in the wider wizarding world. Those stories -- like Fantastic Beasts -- always feel flat to me because they're trying to overtell a story that's already played out. Commerce dictates that it's called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, but the namesake's appearance isn't necessary.

    Mat: You know, we haven't even discussed the sticker album-style collections system. Is sticker collecting a very British thing? It might be.

    Dan: It's a lot of scrolling around for very little payback.

    Mat: And, when you fill up a page, you "cash" it in and start all over again.

    Dan: Ugh.

    Mat: It's funny because everyone had plenty of negative things to say about Pokémon Go at launch, and it turned into a cultural phenomenon. Wizards Unite might not ever get quite as big, but it is fun -- especially if you're looking for anything to flesh out the Potterverse that doesn't star Johnny Depp.

    Dan: Maybe it'll get better with time. Pokémon Go certainly did. Let's revisit this in a year and see if we're still playing.

  • iOS 13 preview: Shaping up to be a huge update

    After Apple announced all of its big software updates for the year at WWDC, it made clear that the first public beta versions of iOS, iPadOS and macOS would go live sometime in July. Whoops! Never mind. The company just let us know they'll be released any minute now, and the brave (or possibly reckless) among you can load them onto your Apple devices later today.

    Of the three beta builds coming, I'd argue iOS 13 is the most important. In case Apple's two-plus-hour keynote didn't make it clear, this is shaping up to be a meaningful update, especially compared to iOS 12, which mostly just focused on performance improvements. We've got some important interface improvements here, plus a slew of revamped first-party apps and some impressive new accessibility features, among other things. Oh, and let's not forget that iOS 13 also provides the foundation for iPadOS. It's indisputable that iOS 13 is one of the most substantial updates Apple users have received in some time. Now we're left with just one question: What's it like to live with?

    The usual disclaimer: Before we go any further, a quick note: You'll be able to install the iOS 13 public beta on every iPhone released since the 6s and 6s Plus, along with the 7th-generation iPod touch. Just remember that this software is far from final. I'd strongly recommend you don't install this on your primary device, though many of you will probably do it anyway.
    What doesn't work yet
    We're still a ways off from iOS 13's official launch, so it shouldn't be a surprise that some of the update's biggest features aren't ready yet. To me, at least, the biggest omission is the ability to sign into third-party services using your Apple ID. Beyond speeding up the on-boarding process, it can generate a random, anonymized email address to create an extra layer of abstraction between you and the services you use. It's a potentially big step forward for user privacy, but some developers are concerned by what feels like Apple over-reaching. As far as the company is concerned, if an app offers social sign-in options through Facebook or Google, it must offer Apple ID sign-ins as well. Regardless, since no software available in the iOS App Store supports it yet, there's no way to actually test it.

    The same goes for custom fonts. By design, you can't apply them system-wide, but they will jazz up compatible apps... or at least, they will once they start populating the App Store. The list goes on from here. Apple Arcade, the company's gaming subscription service, isn't ready for public access yet, and neither are the claimed improvements to app file and update sizes. By the fall, you can expect software you download from the App Store to be up to 50 percent smaller, and Apple says app updates will on average be 60 percent smaller. That's good news for you and your data plan.
    Look and feel
    We haven't seen any dramatic aesthetic updates to iOS since iOS 7 ushered in a flat UI, but this year is different. Sure, iOS 13 still largely looks the same, but there's now a system-wide dark mode available for people who want to give their eyes a rest. What can I say? It's handsome. All of Apple's first-party apps have made the transition beautifully, and the update comes with a handful of wallpapers that change their look when Dark Mode is enabled. (As far as I'm concerned, every single one of them looks better in the dark.)

    You might already be used to dark designs in iOS since plenty of apps offer their own. For now, changing your device to use iOS 13's dark mode doesn't automatically force those apps to change their appearance, but that should change in time. Apple has said that developers will be able to connect their existing apps' themes to the system-wide dark mode toggle without much effort.

    If this new look isn't your speed, it's easy enough to avoid it. Tucked away in the brightness options in iOS's Control Center is a quick toggle for Dark Mode, and you can set it to only turn on during certain hours.

    Dark Mode is nice and all, but there are a few other visual changes worth noting. As you might have heard, the obtrusive HUD that used to pop up when you changed the volume has been replaced with a slim indicator next to the volume keys. Same goes for Silent Mode: When you flick the toggle switch, you'll see a subtle notification slide down from the top of the screen. I know, I know: These are pretty minor changes, but they're long overdue and give iOS a touch of extra polish.

    That said, there's more to this update than just a coat of paint. I've been more pleased with the changes Apple has made with regard to editing and copying text. I spend a lot of time writing scripts and taking notes on my iPhone, and the ability to easily drag the cursor around the screen has made life on my phone a lot less aggravating than it used to be. Selecting text is much simpler, too: All you have to do is press and hold for a moment when you want to start and drag across the screen to highlight the appropriate bits. Need to select a whole sentence? Just triple-tap it.

    Since you're probably highlighting text to do something with it, Apple has developed a set of quick gestures to help with copying (pinch three fingers together on the screen) and pasting (the reverse). And if you manage to screw something up in the process, a three-finger swipe to the left or right undoes and redoes your last action, respectively. They're neat flourishes, but they're much better suited to bigger screens like iPads; they can feel awkward on an iPhone. I don't know that I'll be using these gesture frequently, but it's nice to know that they're there.

    When it comes to interacting with your iPhone, there's one new addition we really need to talk about: Voice Control. I spent some time digging into the feature's value earlier this month, so I'll be brief here. Once the feature is enabled, you'll see a tiny blue microphone light in the corner of the screen. That's to let you know listening, and by default, it's going to keep listening all the time. For those concerned about privacy (or accuracy, for that matter), you can toggle a setting that keeps the microphone from paying attention to you when your eyes aren't locked on the screen.

    Because it uses the same machine learning that underpins Siri, it's quite good at launching apps and transcribing your words. There's much more going on here, though. Did an app just ask you to confirm something in a dialog box? Just respond naturally with a "continue" or "cancel." Do you have to long-press an app icon, but can't use your hands? Simply say those words. Voice Control is clever enough to understand nearly everything on-screen and react to commands quickly and appropriately.

    More importantly, it offers granular control of virtually everything on-screen through voice commands. Asking Voice Control to "show numbers" attaches an identifier to every element on-screen you can interact with, so you don't need to wrack your brain figuring out how to ask for access. And if Voice Control can't correctly tag something on-screen with a number, you can ask the feature to display a grid instead. Each section is tagged with a number you can vocally select, and once that's done, you'll get another grid to work with for even more precise control.

    Talking through these occasionally complex strings of commands can be tricky, especially when you're still figuring out how Voice Control likes to hear things. Once you've mastered the learning curve -- and once you've learned to stop having side conversations while it's trying to transcribe your words into a text field -- Voice Control feels remarkably powerful. After a while, you start being able to control the phone through voice commands with the same level of precision as your fingers.

    To be clear, this is an accessibility feature meant to help people with disabilities, particularly those who don't have complete motor control. That said, Apple is curious to see who uses the feature and how, since accessibility features sometimes find their way into mainstream products. (See: Voice Over in the iPod shuffle.) In other words, this feature or something like it could become a more prominent part of iOS.
    Chris Velazco/Engadget
    Classic apps, new features
    Almost as important as those interaction tweaks, Apple revamped a few of its first-party apps. Apple Maps was clearly the one in the most dire need of work. When it first launched in 2012, it quickly became a laughing-stock. It was inferior to Google Maps in just about every way, and Apple has been trying to close the gap ever since. That's why the company has spent the last few years rebuilding its map data from the ground up. Now, iOS 13's Maps app packs some new (if familiar) features.

    The first thing I noticed when I opened the new Maps is how much more detailed the default view of my Brooklyn neighborhood was. More streets around me were properly labeled, and nearly all had indicators to show which way traffic moves. (That might not sound like a big deal, but it's useful when you're trying to orient yourself after exiting the subway.) Unlike in iOS 12, you don't have to zoom in to see the contours of different buildings. I suspect this has more to do with how the company chose to lay out information than its renewed mapping efforts, though. For now, Apple says its new mapping data is only available in certain cities and states, and that it will roll out nationwide by the end of the year.

    Among other things, that new data means iOS' Maps app is finally getting Street View. Excuse me: "Look Around." You can't blame me for the mix-up. Google has had a considerable head start, and the features are near-identical in functionality: They give you a street-level glimpse of thoroughfares and neighborhoods. It'll be a little while before you're able to Look Around random street corners across the country, though; right now it only works in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Honolulu, which perhaps says something about where Apple's mapping engineers prefer to spend their time. (Can't say I blame them.) Credit where it's due, Look Around moves up and down streets much more smoothly than Google's Street View.

    There are a handful of other changes here, like a new favorites bar where you can quickly access frequent destinations. (Why this didn't exist before is honestly beyond me.) You can save locations to collections which, if nothing else, will make it easier to share your lists of restaurants with people visiting from out of town. And if you live in a city where people largely rely on public transit (like New York), you'll notice that transit navigation includes specific arrival times instead of vague windows. As I write this, iOS 13's Maps app is telling me the next Manhattan-bound Q train will arrive in four minutes; in iOS 12, all it offers is that Q trains usually arrive every 8 to 10 minutes.

    Ask any of my coworkers, and they'd probably tell you I sometimes struggle with staying on top of all of my tasks. I've turned into a bit of a Todoist addict to try and change that, but the upgrades Apple has made to its Reminders app has me mulling a switch. The new design makes it easier to jump between task categories. But I've also been enjoying the ability to add subtasks to outstanding items. My only gripe is that there's no dedicated button to create a subtask; you have to pop into the task entry to add some. It takes a few extra taps, but it really shouldn't. You can also add attachments like photos or hyperlinks for extra context. And if you tag a contact you'll get a reminder to bring it up next time you're texting them.

    Apple's Photos app has gotten an overhaul too. You can drill down into your pictures by year, month and day, each of which are curated a little differently. The "Days" view is by far the most striking: You're greeted by a grid of images that stretch from one edge of the screen to the other, and certain videos and Live Photos you've captured will play silently while you scroll. Apple's work in algorithmically highlighting and sorting your images is really rather pretty, but as a person who never spends that much time getting nostalgic over old photos, none of this strikes me as particularly exciting.

    These are the most noticeable updates, but there are plenty of smaller ones. The Health app now captures and organizes data about menstrual cycles and hearing health, and if you routinely check that data, it'll float to the top of your Health feed. Apple also combined Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into a single app called Find My, whose standout feature is the ability to locate missing devices when they're offline through Bluetooth. The Music app now has lyrics that'll appear in time with your tunes, which would make for great impromptu karaoke nights -- if it worked with any of the songs I've bought from Apple over the years. The list goes on and on...
    Odds and ends
    Like every other release before it, iOS 13 is also packed with features that, while quite helpful, don't really require too many words to dissect. Here's a not-quite-comprehensive list of the ones that have stood out during my first few days testing the beta build.

    Improved Memoji: If you're the kind of person who insists your Memoji look just like you, iOS 13 is your friend. There are more customization options, from piercings to editable makeup to new hairstyles (30 of them, to be precise). You can now also make Memoji stickers to share with people via Messages.

    QuickPath: Apple finally built swipe-to-type functionality into the iOS keyboard. (For those who don't know, people have been doing this on other smartphones for nearly a decade now.) I hate the name, but it works exactly the way you'd expect to.

    Easier access to Emoji: While we're talking about Apple's keyboard, there's finally a separate button that lets you drop in those much-needed emoji, not to mention any Memoji stickers you've created. I've always hated having to tap the globe icon multiple times to switch keyboards. This little tweak has already saved me a lot of frustration.

    A better share sheet: When it's time to share a photo or a file with someone, the new sharing interface offers a handful of suggested contacts. It might not sound like a big improvement, but it's a subtle change that makes it hard to go back to iOS 12.

    Local file support: This is arguably more important for iPads, but you can now save files directly onto your iPhone and manage them using the improved Files app. Frankly, I had given up hope that Apple would ever allow this, so consider me pleasantly surprised.

    Silencing unknown callers: This exists in the Phone app's settings, and it'll send phone calls from people who aren't in your Contacts, Mail and Messages apps straight to voicemail. It took a while to find the setting, but it seems to have helped; looking at my missed calls list, several numbers appear that (I'm fairly sure, at least) didn't cause my phone to ring. I'll need to test this further, but it could be a huge help in mitigating robocalls.

    Xbox/PS4 controller support: I've successfully synced both of these controllers to an iPhone XR and an iPad Pro without any fuss. They make for probably the best mobile Fortnite experience you'll find but sadly, the list of great iOS games with full controller support is fairly short.
    I've only been testing the iOS 13 beta for a few days, but I'm impressed by all of the fixes and features Apple packed in here; these tweaks go a long way in making an already solid mobile OS feel that much more complete and capable. That said, I've only really begun to scratch the surface; between improvements to Apple's vision for augmented reality, updates to Siri and a slew of lower-level tweaks, there's much more to dig into while Apple gets this software ready for a final release this fall.

  • Mark Hamill and other stars will read the Mueller Report live at 9PM ET
    On Monday night, a group of Hollywood stars will take part in a live reading of The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts, a play based on the Mueller report. The likes of Annette Bening, Kevin Kline, John Lithgow and Alyssa Milano are among those who'll read passages from the report in front of an audience in New York. It'll all be livestreamed at 9PM ET, and you can watch it below.

    Other names involved include Justin Long, Jason Alexander, Gina Gershon, Alfre Woodard, Piper Perabo, Kyra Sedgwick, Zachary Quinto, and Michael Shannon. Mark Hamill, Sigourney Weaver and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are also slated to make appearances, according to Variety. Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Robert Schenkkan wrote the play.

    The performance will be presented by Law Works, an organization which "engages bipartisan voices and educates the public on the importance of the rule of law, the role of the special counsel in the justice system and the integrity of our judicial institutions." The reading could prove an intriguing look at how we engage with legal investigations, especially one with as much cache as Robert Mueller's report. If you miss the stream, you can watch an on-demand version of the performance after the fact.

    Via: Variety

    Source: Law Works

  • macOS Catalina preview: It's all about the apps
    Three weeks ago, Apple was holding court at the San Jose Convention Center, where it kicked off its annual developer conference with first looks at iOS 13, iPadOS and the latest version of macOS, Catalina. Today the company is releasing Catalina in beta, though I've been testing it since last week. This time around, the story is mostly about Apple's first party apps, many of which have received an iOS-inspired overhaul. Speaking of the sort, it's been a year since Apple announced it was working on a framework designed to make it easy for developers to port iOS apps over to the Mac; first-party apps from last year's macOS Mojave release were even built on this technology. Twelve months later, Apple opened that development kit to third-party programmers, so we're finally seeing mobile-first apps adapted for Macs' larger screens. With this release, Apple also included a feature called Sidecar, allowing an iPad running iPadOS to be used as a secondary screen for mirroring or extending a Mac display.
    A word of caution
    Since this is software that is still incomplete (and kind of buggy), these are just my initial thoughts on an OS that's sure to see some refinement between now and its final release in the fall. If you're thinking of upgrading yourself, you'll need one of the following: a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro from mid-2012 or later; an iMac or Mac mini from late 2012 on; a MacBook from 2015 or later; an iMac Pro from 2017 and on; or a Mac Pro as old as the late 2013 model. Basically, any recent Mac will do.

    If you take the plunge, remember to back up your files first. There's always inherent risk in downloading beta software on your main machine. In this case, though, I'd be especially careful: Though the current release has been stable enough for me to carry on through a normal workday, it's also buggier than some other Apple betas I can remember testing. So far, the fun times have included the Photos app crashing every time I try to exit full screen (it now only loads in full screen) and the Notes app deciding my lists would be better in mixed black and yellow font, with random words underlined, and links to Google docs mixed up with GDocs links from other notes. Everything is fine!
    Goodbye, iTunes
    One of the most memorable moments in Apple's WWDC 2019 keynote was when software chief Craig Federighi playfully poked fun at how bloated iTunes is. "One thing we hear over and over," he asked. "Can iTunes do even more?" Cut to a render of iTunes with a calendar, mail app, web browser inside. It's true, what was once a revolutionary way to organize and consume music has become a test of patience. Apple clearly agrees. iTunes for the Mac is now a thing of the past, though it lives on in Windows. In its place are dedicated apps for music, podcasts and TV. And, as you might expect, they each take design cues from their iOS counterparts.


    One of the best things about the new Music app -- and this drew tons of cheers at WWDC -- is the fact that when you plug in your iPhone, you won't immediately auto-launch iTunes. Now, if you want to sync your phone, you can do it from the left pane of the Finder. Isn't that more civilized?

    The app itself has gotten a facelift, but still shares DNA with the last version of iTunes. Navigation largely happens from the left pane, with Apple Music getting top billing. On tap are For You, Browse and Radio tabs, with options just below for artists, albums and songs you have stored locally. (Yes, you can still rip CDs.) And, of course, there's a tab for the iTunes Store, and another for Genius playlists, which have lived on. You can also click through by device to see what you've stored where. Like I said, just because the app has been streamlined, that doesn't mean it's fundamentally different from the thing it's replacing.

    The TV app looks a lot like what you'll find on Apple TV, which makes sense. There are sections for Watch Now, Up Next and Apple TV Channels, which lets you watch content from heavy hitters like HBO, Showtime and Starz. There are also dedicated movies and TV tabs, along with an editorially curated kids section. If you've ever download movies or TV episodes from iTunes, you'll see that too in the Library section. And, as you might expect, if you pause a movie or show on one device, you can pick it up on another where you left off. That makes sense given Apple's push to bring "continuity" to as many of its apps as possible. And, you know, it's a feature we've already come to expect on rival services like Netflix


    Podcasts has long had its own app on iOS, so it only makes sense that it broke free on the Mac as well. You can see your "Up Next" queue, which matched the playlist I had already created from the Podcasts app on my iPhone. Unfortunately, an episode of "The Daily" that I was halfway through when I arrived at the office showed as completely unplayed on my Mac. You can also see all of the shows you subscribe to, with a separate breakout for those that have recently been updated. Additionally, there are tabs in the left-hand pane for episodes and downloaded items as well.

    And, of course, you can browse the podcast library by category or the curated "New & Noteworthy" section or take a look at the trending charts to see which shows and episodes are popular. I'm particularly interested in the search feature, which lets you search by name or topic. When I hear an interview with someone I find compelling, I tend to go on a kick and find other podcasts where they were guests. So, this feature will come in handy.
    All the other apps

    Whereas previous macOS releases have endeavored to make Photos smarter, this go-round seems to be mostly about presenting images in a more pleasing way. There are now Days, Months and Years tabs, with large previews and auto-playing videos and Live Photos. Meanwhile, a new "Best shots" feature uses machine learning to pick the best from a series of possibly repetitive photos and hide the rest. Don't worry, though, Apple isn't deleting those duplicates; you can always click the "All Photos" tab to see everything.

    There's also some interesting personalization at work under the hood. Say you sort by years: If you happen to be in the Years view on your kid's birthday, the cover photo for each year might well be birthday photos from years gone by. But those cover shots could update dynamically tomorrow as the context changes.

    The last update here is that you can now view and edit Memory Movies on your Mac, with any changes you make on the desktop saving to your other devices.


    Over in the notes app, there's now a gallery view in addition to the standard list layout. Each note inside a folder will appear as a thumbnail. Folders are also now shareable, and if you dig around inside the Format menu you'll see an option to check all items, uncheck all, delete checked or move checked to the bottom of the list. In fact, when you check an item in the new Notes, you'll see a prompt asking if you want to move checked items to the bottom going forward. (I said yes, because I am persnickety about these things.) The unchecking could come in handy for lists you're likely to repeat -- say, grocery store staples like coffee, milk and eggs.

    Lastly, search has gotten smarter, with object recognition and the ability to search text in things like receipts. When I searched "meal" for example, I got notes containing photos of food, as well as a note where I had bullet points about our parent company's new meals-expensing policy.


    Reminders has also been redesigned across macOS, iOS and watchOS, making it easier to add dates, locations and various flags. So when I set up a reminder to buy groceries at Whole Foods on the way home from work, at 7pm, I saw a map of the Whole Foods in Gowanus Brooklyn after I clicked through on that entry. There's also some deeper Messages integration here. If tag a person in a reminder, when you're chatting with them you see a prompt to bring up whatever that item is.


    Though Safari has, in the past, featured some of macOS' most significant upgrades, this time the list is pretty short. The start page has been refreshed, offering a mix of favorite sites, frequently visited pages and Siri suggestions. The browser also now warns you when you're about to create a weak password. Meanwhile, a "switch to open tab" feature knows if you're typing in a URL you already have open in another tab. Lastly, Apple streamlined Picture in Picture so that launching a new video window is a little faster and easier than it used to be.

    Some of the new features in Mail feel a bit like Apple playing catch-up. You can now mute a thread or block a sender, as well as unsubscribe from lists. None of this is novel, but they're welcome improvements nonetheless for those who use Apple's desktop mail client. Lastly, the "classic" layout looks a little different, with two columns, one of which shows a message preview.

    Find My

    In Catalina, Find My iPhone and Find My Friends have been combined into one app, simply called Find My. This also marks the first time these apps are available natively on the Mac. Perhaps more significant, you can use the app to find offline devices. In real life (read: when I'm not reviewing gadgets) I don't use Find My Friends, but Find My iPhone has saved me at least once. This new app would have come in handy the time I dropped my phone on the curb as I was stepping out of a cab in front of a hotel. This story has a happy ending -- someone found the phone and turned it into the front desk -- but if I had this app on my MacBook, I would have immediately seen it on a map, at the hotel's entrance.

    Because these maps were mainly designed with outdoor spaces in mind, though, they'll be the most helpful if your phone really is lost or stolen. If you simply misplaced it in another room of your apartment, it probably won't help.
    The iPad as a computer
    iPad apps for Mac
    Now that Apple has opened up the API needed for developers to easily port their iOS apps over to the Mac, you're going to see more mobile-first apps make their way over to the desktop. By mobile-first, to be fair, Apple really means iPad apps. I'm told these apps won't arrive until the final version of these operating systems come out, sometime this fall. That said, Apple is quick to name some early apps for the Mac that were born from existing iPad apps. Think: Twitter, the game Asphalt 9, JIRA, DC Universe, TripIt, Fender Play, Post-It, Rosetta Stone, American Airlines, Morpholio, Crew, and Proloquo2Go.


    As mentioned, Sidecar is a feature that allows you to use an iPad as a secondary display. This works wired or wirelessly, with options to either extend or mirror your desktop. At first this might seem like a niche feature, and it is, but I can think of a few scenarios where it could be useful. For starters, what if you want a second screen but don't want to buy a monitor or don't have much room for one. Personally, I was testing this setup with a 27-inch iMac as my primary machine, so I didn't really need a second screen. But what if I had a 13-inch MacBook Air or Pro?

    If I wanted I could use that iPad mainly to give Messages or Slack its own screen, which would be reasonable enough. But things get interesting when you make use of the Apple Pencil, which of course wasn't designed to be used with Mac apps. For starters, if you take a screenshot you can select "share to iPad" from the Markup menu on the Mac, and then it'll appear on the iPad, in a touch-friendly interface, complete with onscreen paintbrush and pen options. As you mark up the screenshot on the iPad, you'll see it update in real time on the Mac, where you left it. Hit save and the updated version will be available on both devices.

    Though I'm not sure how many people feel the need to mark up a screenshot. A more likely use case might be creative apps that work with the Apple Pencil. Any app with stylus support will work. For the purposes of my testing, I tried Affinity Photo. I launched the program on my Mac and was then able to drag that window off-screen to make it appear on my iPad Pro.

    I could have gotten to work immediately, but instead I hit the green stoplight on the iPad Pro app to bring it full screen, at which point the interface transformed into something more tablet friendly. From the iPad, I drew an abstract thing using the Pencil. Now that I've saved the file and dragged the application window back over to my macOS desktop, I can continue making finer edits from there. You know, if I were artistic.

    Likewise, you can begin a sketch on the iPad and export it the other way. From a document or Note on the Mac, you can select "add sketch" from the "Import from iPhone or iPad" menu, at which point a sketch interface will open on the iPad.

    Throughout, you'll notice a sidebar on the iPad when Sidecar is enabled, giving you access to the Command, Option, Control and Shift keys, along with an undo button. There are also icons for hiding and showing the menu bar, Dock and keyboard. Additionally, Sidecar on the iPad supports the sort of Touch Bar commands that you'd normally find on the secondary display on newer MacBook Pros. Here, they show up at the bottom of the iPad display, though you can hide them too if they ever get in the way.
    Screen Time

    Another no-brainer move from iOS to the Mac: Apple's Screen Time controls. It would be inaccurate to describe these purely as parental controls, because a grown-up could use it to gauge which apps and notifications are sucking up the most time. That said, most of the options here -- content restrictions, enforced media ratings, app time limits -- seem designed for parents. If you wanted, you could block certain apps altogether; prevent a child from installing or deleting apps or making in-app purchases; or select age ratings for apps, movies and TVs, with separate options to exclude books, music, podcasts, Apple News stories and websites with explicit content.

    You can also block web searches from Siri and prevent your kid from joining multiplayer games in Game Center or adding friends there. Lastly, on a systems level, you can prevent changes to the passcode, user account, Do Not Disturb While Driving settings, TV provider or even the volume level. Regardless of your parenting style, it's clear that the options are granular for those who want that degree of control.
    Voice Control

    Apple only presented one accessibility feature in its two-plus-hour WWDC keynote this year, but it's one that could make a big difference. Voice Control is exactly what it sounds like: a way to control both macOS and iOS with one's voice, including launching and navigating apps, dictating messages, inserting emoji and laying out documents.

    To try and make this experience minimally tedious, Apple added a number of conveniences and shortcuts. Some of these rely heavily on contextual speech: the ability to say "delete that" or "capitalize that" and have the machine know you weren't dictating those words. There's also a so-called Numbers option so that, if you find yourself in an app with dense menus, you can assign each option a number and say the number of what you want.

    Additionally, you'll find word and emoji suggestions, which should hopefully save users some time. Similarly, you can add custom words as well as record commands for things you do on your iOS device, like sending a message with fireworks. Other tricks include spoken gestures (e.g., "tap," "swipe," "pinch," "zoom") and a grid option that allows you to zoom in on the part of the screen you want.

    For those worried about an always-listening Mac or iOS device, Apple is quick to note that all of the processing happens on the device itself. You also have the option of either a dictation mode or a more limited command mode, meant purely for using voice commands. On iPhones and iPads with a TrueDepth camera, there's also an Attention Awareness mode that shuts off Voice Control when you're looking away from the device and talking to a friend, for example. You wouldn't want the machine to pick up that conversation and confuse it for dictation or a command.

    Improvements for the blind and hearing-impaired
    What you might not have known is that although Apple focused on Voice Control at WWDC, macOS brings several improvements for blind and hearing-impaired users as well. Users with visual impairments can use Siri for Voice Over. Apple also simplified the way navigation works using the Tab key and made it so that if you make a customized recording for how a certain form of punctuation should be spoken, that'll be stored to iCloud and synced across all your macOS and iOS devices. Lastly, developers using Xcode will find Voice Over can now read warnings, line numbers and break points.

    As for Zoom, a feature called Hover Text gives you a high-resolution zoom-in on text, displayed in its own window. To make that show up, just press the Command key while hovering over text with your cursor. You can also click buttons and interact with text from inside that dedicated window. Meanwhile, an option called Zoom Display lets you stay zoomed in on a secondary monitor, even if you choose to view text from the default distance on your primary machine.
    Everything else
    There's a lot of miscellany in this release that I haven't mentioned yet, either because these things are really minor or difficult to actually test. Here are some of the more interesting things to look out for:
    The ability to share folders in iCloud Drive. Native integration in Finder for third-party cloud services like Dropbox, Box and OneDrive. You can now approve many security prompts from your Apple Watch. Gatekeeper checks apps for known security issues before you run them for the first time and periodically after that. Macs with Apple's T2 security chip now have an Activation Lock similar to what already exists on iOS devices, wherein if the device is lost or stolen the rightful owner is the only one who can erase and reactivate it. macOS Catalina will offer a security prompt before allowing an app to access data in the desktop, Documents, Downloads, iCloud Drive, removable media or folders for third-party cloud services. You'll also be asked for permission before an app can perform key logging or take a still or video capture of what's happening on your screen. A streamlined view of your iCloud account in System Preferences, with your Apple ID listed right up top. This new settings menu combines your account info, iCloud settings, Family Sharing settings and media subscriptions in one place. If a software installation goes wrong, you can restore your machine to a so-called Snapshot of right before the botched install. You can set up your system to be multilingual even from the initial installation. Users in India get an India-specific Siri voice, available in male and female versions.

  • 7-Eleven can deliver your Slurpees to parks and beaches
    7-Eleven has a way for its 7Now deliveries to stand out from the herd: let you order in all kinds of public spaces. An update to its 7Now app for iOS lets you ask for delivery to "pins," or commonly accessible locations like parks, beaches, concert venues and other spaces where an address isn't an option. This doesn't mean you can order from absolutely anywhere, but it's far more convenient if you're feeling like some Slurpees on a hot summer's day.

    The service covers a range of drinks (including alcohol in some regions), food, cosmetics and "home goods." As with usual 7Now deliveries, there's no minimum order or time-of-day limitations. If you're delivering to a pin, you can expect an order in 30 minutes or less "on most occasions."

    The 7Now service currently covers 27 urban areas, including Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco. While this won't guarantee delivery to your favorite hangout spot, it does include major locations like Central Park, Fenway Park and Venice Beach. And it still beats the address-based deliveries for many alternatives -- you probably won't have to travel nearly as far to get your grub on demand.

    Source: PR Newswire, App Store

  • Senate bill would make companies put a price on personal data
    Many will tell you that internet giants see your data as their most valuable resource, but politicians now want to put a number on that value. Senators Mark Warner and Josh Hawley are introducing the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data Act (conveniently DASHBOARD Act for short), a bill that requires companies with 100 million or more monthly users to not only disclose the type of data they collect, but to put a monetary value on that data every 90 days. If Facebook and Google think you're worth $5 per month, they would have to say as much. The Securities and Exchange Commission would have to develop methods for calculating that value.

    The measure would also ask companies to disclose the aggregate value of their users' data once per year. They'd also have to give customers the option to delete all or some of their data.

    The senators hope the bill would help customers make more informed choices about signing up for internet services, both in terms of what they're sharing and how the companies profit from that data. You might think twice if you find that a company expects to sell your information to advertisers, for example. This could theoretically help with lawsuits by assigning a tangible value to the damage done to customers.

    At the same time, there are concerns about the strategy. How do you put a price on data when its usefulness varies widely from service to service, and user to user? Warner doesn't think that's an issue, since companies will make gigantic acquisitions (such as Facebook's purchase of Instagram) with an idea as to how much a company and its data might be worth. Still, it's doubtful that tech giants will relish he thought of having to generate those numbers, especially since the figures might open them to stricter rules and calls to break them up.

    Source: Axios, Washington Post

  • BET+ streaming service launches this fall with Tyler Perry's help
    The rumor was true -- BET is launching a streaming service. The newly official BET+ is due to launch in the fall and will work closely with Tyler Perry Studios to offer a host of African American-focused on-demand video to subscribers. In addition to a "curated" library of videos from BET, Viacom and Perry (expect lots of Madea), it'll also provide some online-only originals. You can expect Tracy Oliver's TV remake of the classic comedy First Wives Club, a show from Will Packer and, of course, fresh shows from Perry.

    The service doesn't yet have pricing, but it will be ad-free. It should launch on Android and iOS as well as "other streaming devices" (read: set-top boxes and smart TVs). BET's free channel on Pluto TV will stick around, though it's clearly focused on back catalog material.

    There is a risk that BET+ will add to the subscription fatigue affecting some internet viewers. However, BET Networks President Scott Mills is betting that his channel's service can buck that trend. African Americans are more likely to adopt streaming services than other demographics, he said, and BET+ is catering to an "underserved audience." In other words, Mills is counting on having a uniquely strong following that others are unlikely to match.

    Via: Variety

    Source: Business Wire

  • Google’s new curriculum teaches kids how to detect disinformation
    When Google launched its "Be Internet Awesome" curriculum for educators a couple of years ago, it focused its efforts on teaching children about online safety. This year, however, the company is adding a new component to its campaign: media literacy. Developed in partnership with the Net Safety Collaborative, the new program includes play-to-learn activities that help educate kids about how to spot disinformation, such as fake URLs or misleading headlines.

    The curriculum includes "Don't Fall for Fake" activities that are centered around teaching children critical thinking skills. This is so they'll know the difference between credible and non-credible news sources, for example, and how to spot a bad URL. There are also other media literacy activities such as "Share with Care," which have to do with teaching kids how to maintain a good online reputation, and "It's Cool to be Kind," which is about online harassment.

    Along with the new curriculum, Google is also announcing a nationwide partnership with the YMCA, where it'll help families talk to their children about topics like social media, cyberbullying and disinformation.

    Google has been under quite a bit of heat recently on this exact topic, as YouTube has often been accused of spreading disinformation and propaganda, especially to impressionable youth. It's interesting to see Google collaborate on a project that teaches children to identify disinformation, while at the same time not doing a stellar job at taking those sources down.

    The new "Be Internet Awesome" curriculum is aimed mostly at seven to twelve year olds, and will be available to interested family members and educators starting today.

  • Samsung's new SmartThings camera and smart plug don't need the hub
    Samsung is adding a camera, a WiFi smart plug and a smart bulb to its range of SmartThings devices available in the US. The indoor camera has full HD and HDR capabilities -- plus, it has a 145-degree view to be able to monitor a wider part of your home than other cameras can, as well as the ability to capture footage in the dark with night vision. It also has object detection, which Samsung says can differentiate between people (in other words, an actual potential threat inside your home) and the motion of pets or a passing vehicle.

    Its ability to differentiate between people, pets and objects allows you to customize the notifications you want to get through the SmartThings app. In addition, it has two-way audio, so you can talk to a housemate or your pets through the app even when you're not home. While the camera is part of Samsung's SmartThings range, you don't actually need a SmartThings hub to use it. Just plug it in and connect it to your home WiFi like other smart security cameras. Connecting it to a hub gives it the ability to link with other smart devices, though, such as lights that can be programmed to switch on if the camera detects movement.

    Samsung's new SmartThings WiFi Smart Plug also doesn't need a hub to work. It can turn lamps, small appliances and other electronic devices smart by giving you the ability to switch them on or off, use a timer on them and set a schedule for them. The plug also turns them into voice-activated devices that work with Bixby, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Samsung's new SmartThings Bulb is also compatible with those voice assistants, allowing you to control it with your voice. You can create personal automations for it through the SmartThings app when it's connected to the SmartThings hub. For instance, you can set it to automatically go dim during movie nights or to turn on a minute or two before you usually get home.

    All three devices are now available through Samsung's website and select retailers in the US, including Best Buy. The SmartThings Cam and WiFi Smart Plug will set you back $90 and $18, respectively. Meanwhile, the SmartThings Smart Bulb will cost you $10 each.

  • Amazon Echo Show 5 review: An Alexa display with alarm clock smarts
    When Amazon introduced the second-gen Echo Show display last year, it was a huge upgrade over the original, with a built-in browser, better sound and more video options than before. Just months later, however, and Amazon has released a new model called the Echo Show 5 (In case that's confusing, the "5" refers to the screen size, much like how Amazon names its Fire tablets).

    That might seem odd, but the Echo Show 5 isn't meant to replace the larger Show; it's a smaller version designed for desks and nightstands. Think of it as a squarer, reimagined Echo Spot that doubles as competition for Google's Nest Hub (and, in a way, the Lenovo Smart Clock). It's not perfect by any means, but for those who want a smaller, sleeker Amazon smart display that's also a decent alarm clock, the Echo Show 5 might be it.

    If you zapped the 2018 Echo Show with a shrink ray, you'd probably end up with something very similar to the Echo Show 5. It has the same look and feel, with a screen dominating the front and the fabric-wrapped speaker housed in the back. Unlike the larger Show, however, the Echo Show 5 comes in both white ("Sandstone") and black ("Charcoal"), so you can pick one that better suits your home decor. The Show 5's small stature also reminds me of the Lenovo Smart Clock, with similar alarm clock aesthetics.

    That's not the only way the Echo Show 5 is reminiscent of the Lenovo Smart Clock. Like the latter, the Echo Show 5 comes with several clock faces and you can smack the top of it to snooze the alarm. There's also a similar sunrise feature, where the display slowly brightens fifteen minutes prior to the set time to mimic the effects of daylight's arrival. The sunrise alarm on the Echo Show 5 is a little unusual however, because it only works when you set the alarm between 4 and 9 a.m. I suppose that's understandable given that's usually when natural sunrise occurs, but I thought the whole point of having a "sunrise alarm" is that it works at all hours, and not just at the appropriate times.

    Much like the Smart Clock and Google's Nest Hub, the Echo Show 5 has an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the screen's brightness according to its surroundings. Seeing as the Show 5 can be used as an alarm clock, I appreciate that the screen goes dark at night, making it easier to fall asleep.

    While the Echo Show 5 may have a lot of the clock-centric features, it's still primarily a smart display; its 5.5-inch screen is certainly a lot bigger than the 3-incher on the Smart Clock. That, along with its 960 by 480 resolution, makes the Echo Show 5 much better suited for photos and video. Images look colorful enough, and I enjoyed watching videos on it despite the small screen. I do think it's a little too tiny for watching longer videos like movies and TV shows, but it was fine for short news clips and music videos. As with other Alexa smart displays, the Echo Show 5 supports video from Amazon Prime, NBC and Hulu. You can also watch YouTube videos via the built-in Silk or Firefox browsers (though it's not as integrated as the YouTube experience on Google's smart displays) and step-by-step cooking videos from sources like SideChef and AllRecipes. Amazon also recently added how-to clips from WikiHow, so you can watch instructional videos like how to open a tight jar, for example.

    That said, I still think Google's Nest Hub is a much better choice for displaying photos. Not only is the screen bigger at 7-inches, it's also easier to use. With the Echo Show, I have to go through Settings, Home & Clock, Clock, and Personal Photos so that I could pick my preferred source of images (either the Alexa App, Amazon Photos or my Facebook account). With the Nest Hub, on the other hand, I can pick my Google Photos album with just a few taps in the app. Google's machine-learning algorithms are even smart enough to automatically compile albums of my favorite people and pets while leaving out embarrassing shots and duplicate photos.

    Additionally, I like how Google's smart display puts my photos at the forefront without me having to do anything. On the Echo Show, I had to dig through Settings in order to shut off the suggested Trending Topics and Alexa Tips that would otherwise clutter the screen by default. Of course, this is a personal preference -- you might love seeing news headlines all the time -- but I would rather my smart display be a digital photo frame than a depressing news source.

    One of the reasons I liked the Nest Hub was its lack of camera; it made me a lot more comfortable having it by my bedside. But even though the Echo Show 5 is meant for personal spaces like the desk and the nightstand, it still has a front-facing camera lens meant for video calls. Unlike its predecessors however, the Echo Show 5 does at least come with a physical camera shutter -- the larger Echo Show and the Echo Spot only have electronic ones. That physical shutter makes me feel a little better about having the Echo Show 5 in my bedroom, but not everyone will feel that way. After all, it's easy to forget to slide that toggle, and it's something that you have to always be mindful of.

    Aside from the camera shutter, the Echo Show 5 also has a microphone mute button and a couple of volume controls on the top. Packed inside it is a 1-watt speaker, which emits surprisingly impressive sound for such a tiny device. The bass packs a powerful punch and vocals are beautifully crisp and clear. You have the option of adding additional speakers via a 3.5mm audio jack or stereo Bluetooth, but honestly, I don't think you'll need it.

    The Echo Show 5 also features a new Alexa smart display dashboard, which you can reveal by swiping left from the far-right of the screen. The dashboard has six shortcuts to frequently-used skill categories: Communicate (which leads to video calls), Music, Alarms, Video, Smart Home and Skills & Game (the last one is simply a list of popular skill categories).

    I ended up using the Smart Home shortcut quite a bit, as it brings up a dashboard of all my connected smart devices like webcams and smart lights. I also plugged in my coffee maker to an Amazon Smart Plug, thus transforming it into a "smart" appliance that I can enable right from the Echo Show. Starting my coffee maker while I was still in bed felt like I was living in the future. It's worth noting here that though the Echo Show 5 does work with the Nest video doorbell, you can't have two-way conversations with them. According to Amazon, the company will work with any developer that implements its two-way API. Right now, that includes Amazon's Ring and Cloud Cams, plus August's doorbell cameras, but not anything from Nest.

    The rest of the Echo Show 5's features are pretty much the same as previous Alexa products. I used Alexa to get the weather forecast, check on the latest sports scores, add items to a shopping list and schedule events on my calendar. I also tried out a couple of Alexa Routines, like "Start My Day," which tells me the day's temperature, the current traffic conditions, and the daily headlines. Telling Alexa "Goodnight," on the other hand, shuts off all the smart lights.

    One especially notable feature of the Echo Show 5 is its price. The 2018 Echo Show is $230, the Echo Spot is $130, but the new Echo Show 5 is only $90, making it the cheapest of the three. It's also more affordable than the Google Nest Hub, which retails for $150. The Echo Show 5 is about $10 more than the Lenovo Smart Clock, but it's also an actual smart display (rather than just a smart clock) with a lot more features.

    With its small form factor and various clock-centric features, the Echo Show 5 is essentially a combination Echo Show and Echo Spot. It's an Alexa smart display squeezed down to alarm clock size, but without sacrificing too much screen real estate that photos and videos can still be enjoyable. I tend to prefer the Nest Hub with its larger screen, smarter photos integration and the lack of camera, but I can definitely see the appeal of the Echo Show 5. If you're an Amazon fan who wants a smart display with solid alarm clock features, then the Echo Show 5 definitely fits the bill.

  • Daimler forced to recall more Mercedes cars in emissions cheat probe
    Things are getting worse for German auto manufacturer Daimler after local newspaper 700,000 diesel vehicles in April, because of a software cheat similar to that used by Volkswagen in the Dieselgate scandal.

    The Daimler software works by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions while the vehicle is in testing mode, but is disabled during normal driving conditions. This means the cars can pass emissions tests but exceed limits after they are sold.

    The latest addition of 60,000 cars to the recall covers a range of Mercedes models, including the Vito, C-Class, V-Class and GLC cars.

    A spokesman for Daimler confirmed the information to Agence France-Presse, and Dieselgate continues, with Daimler and other companies including Ford being investigated for cheating emissions tests.


    Source: Bild

  • Bill Gates claims his ‘greatest mistake’ was not beating Android
    Bill Gates has spoken candidly about his regrets as the leader of Microsoft, most particularly the company's attempts to build a dominant mobile OS. As reported by Microsoft to gain traction. It limped along with low market share for years, until Microsoft ended support for the OS in 2017. It will end support for Windows Phone's successor, Windows 10 Mobile, later this year.

    "Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform," Gates later noted in the interview (embedded above). "That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you're there with half as many apps or 90 percent as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. There's room for exactly one."

    This wasn't Gates' fault personally, as he stepped down from his role as CEO in 2000. He continued as a part-time chairman and chief software architect for over a decade but left these roles to pursue philanthropic work.

    The CEO of Microsoft at the time, Steve Ballmer, famously laughed at the iPhone for being too expensive. Many of Microsoft's mobile failings, including its partnership with Nokia, have been pinned on him.

    Still, it's clear that Gates feels regret over the failure of Microsoft to capture the mobile market. "There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system," he said, and pointed out that this alternative operating system was worth the equivalent of $400 billion.

    Via: The Verge

    Source: Village Global

  • The Morning After: US 'launched cyber-attack' on Iranian weapons systems
    Good morning, there! If you've been waiting on making your own media hub, a new 4K-ready Raspberry Pi model might be exactly what you're after. Elsewhere, the US used a cyberattack to take down an Iranian missile control base.

    The president reportedly signed off on the digital strike.

    A Nissan technician is testing a robot 'duck' that roams rice paddies, muddying the water to prevent weeds from getting enough sunlight to grow -- it's really a Roomba (and a cute one at that) for watery fields. Although it's a personal project, it's fully realized with GPS, a WiFi connection and solar power to minimize its environmental impact.

    It also packs better Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
    The new Raspberry Pi 4 is ready for 4K video

    The newly released Raspberry Pi 4 Model B combines familiar tiny computer-on-a-board design with some major boosts to performance, particularly for media. With a more potent 1.5GHz quad-core Broadcom processor with H.265 decoding, two micro-HDMI ports and up to 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, the Pi 4 can output 4K video at 60 fps. It could well be your next, slightly more future-proofed DIY media hub.

    Canada and much of Europe are included.
    'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' rolls out to 25 more countries

    While Harry Potter fans in the US and the UK have had all weekend to dabble (Level 11 professor right here, hold your applause), the augmented reality game from Niantic is now out in Canada and much of Europe. The staggered launch mimics how the company dealt with the popularity of Pokémon Go. Will the wizarding world prove as popular?
    But wait, there's more... Blizzard's global esports director quits amid turmoil This week in tech history: Nintendo's N64 goes on sale in Japan After Math: The price of technological progress

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  • Xiaomi's new Mi CC phones are aimed at young people
    Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi has struggled to sell phones recently, so now it's spreading its offerings to cater to specific sets of customers. In this case, it's targeting the younger generation with the launch of Mi CC, a new series of smartphones aiming to be "a trendy mobile phone for global young people."

    Mi CC stands for Camera+Camera, referring to the upcoming phones' dual camera setups. This would suggest Xiaomi hopes to attract teens by amplifying the photo-taking abilities of future devices. Specifications aren't available yet, but they will feature front and back cameras, plus an "industry-leading algorithm empowered by the newly founded Xiaomi x Meitu AI Beauty Lab."

    To design a series of trendy phones, Xiaomi has employed a young product team, half of whom are art majors. This is unusual in an industry dominated by STEM graduates.

    Other products in the Mi line include the Mi 9, an affordable flagship, and the sliding Mi Mix 3. The budget Redmi series has been spun off into its own brand.

    There has been some criticism that Xiaomi product names are confusing, but CEO Lei Jun says that this new launch is part of an "already clear" differentiation of the brand's various product lines.

    Via: Engadget Chinese

    Source: Xiaomi

  • The new Raspberry Pi 4 is ready for 4K video

    Like the Raspberry Pi but wish it had a little more oomph for your homebrew projects? The Pi Foundation might have what you need. The newly released Raspberry Pi 4 Model B mates the familiar tiny computer-on-a-board design with purportedly "ground-breaking" boosts to performance, particularly for media. Thanks to both a newer 1.5GHz quad-core Broadcom processor with H.265 decoding, two micro-HDMI ports and up to 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM (more on that in a bit), the Pi 4 can output 4K video at 60 frames per second. This could theoretically serve as a modern DIY media hub, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation even claims that it's fast enough to compete with "entry-level" x86 PCs.

    You'll also find updated connectivity, including Bluetooth 5.0 as well as support for two USB 3.0 ports in addition to the usual USB 2.0. You can still expect 802.11ac WiFi and gigabit Ethernet to keep the Raspberry Pi online.

    The variable RAM amounts shake up the pricing compared to what you've seen with past Raspberry Pi releases. A base model with 1GB of RAM will cost you a familiar-sounding $35, but you'll need to pay $45 for a 2GB model and $55 for the 4GB flagship. That still makes it inexpensive, though, and the extra RAM might be just what you need to run Windows or other demanding software on such a diminutive machine.

    Presenter: Terrence O'Brien
    Script: Terrence O'Brien
    Script Editor: Dana Wollman
    Editor: Kyle Maack
    Producer/Camera: Michael Morris

    Source: Raspberry Pi

  • Fast delivery may negate the environmental benefits of online shopping
    Many will tell you that online shopping is more eco-friendly since you don't have to drive as often, but just the opposite might be true in recent years. Axios has warned that the increasing number of super-fast delivery options may be leading to more CO2 emissions, not less. Annual emissions have increased at FedEx, UPS and the US Postal Service, and academics have blamed it on people making many small-but-fast orders through the likes of Amazon Prime and Walmart instead of bundling a bunch of products into one shipment. If you can get candy in minutes, why would you wait to include it with a bigger purchase?

    The demand for local warehouses to speed up those orders also has an effect, Carnegie Mellon's Costa Samaras said. Those buildings need power, heat and cooling, and that means more emissions.

    This doesn't mean you'll have to permanently settle on slow deliveries if you want to be kind to the planet, but it may be a while before emissions are less of an issue. Courier companies are gradually switching to hybrid and electric delivery trucks that improve their side of the equation, while the rise of delivery drones could also help. However, the data suggests that efforts to pursue carbon-neutral shipping are not only necessary, but might not be going far enough to catch up with increasing demand.

    Source: Axios

  • Minnesota cop receives $585,000 after fellow officers spied on DMV data
    The city of Minneapolis is learning a hard lesson about the importance of placing checks on government data access. A court has awarded police officer Amy Krekelberg a total of $585,000 after she sued Minneapolis and two fellow officers for allegedly violating state law protecting the disclosure of DMV data. Krekelberg had discovered that people had arbitrarily accessed her DMV records almost 1,000 times over the course of roughly a decade. Dozens of the perpetrators were other police officers, and the behavior was frequently creepy -- some officers looked for her info late at night, while the two targeted in the lawsuit allegedly looked her up after she turned down their romantic offers.

    This isn't the first such lawsuit against Minneapolis for similar behavior, or even other Minnesota cities. It's the first to go to trial, however, and certainly the first to involve a court-decided payout.

    City attorney Susan Segal told Wired she was "disappointed" in the outcome, but stressed that Minneapolis had tightened its restrictions on data in the years since Krekelberg learned of what happened. Employees now have to provide reasons when they access DMV info, for example. And to some extent, this case is only happening because Minnesota had a log of DMV data access -- it might not have happened in other states.

    The incident also illustrates a perpetual problem with abuses of power when workers have unfettered access to data. Facebook fired an engineer for allegedly using his access to stalk women, while Uber caught flak for not doing enough to stop employees from spying on customers through 'God View.' Although these cases are relatively rare, they suggests that governments and companies alike should limit access to a need-to-know basis whenever possible.

    Source: Wired

  • Robot 'duck' keeps weeds out of rice paddies
    For rice farmers, ducks have been a viable way to keep their crops healthy -- they destroy weeds, eat bugs and fertilize crops without using harmful chemicals. And now, a Nissan technician might have an alternative when fowl isn't an option. He's testing a robot 'duck' that roams rice paddies, muddying the water to prevent weeds from getting enough sunlight to grow -- it's really a Roomba (and a cute one at that) for watery fields. Although it's a personal project, it's fully realized with GPS, a WiFi connection and solar power to minimize its environmental impact.

    Nissan hasn't signaled intentions to mass-produce the robot. It does support the technician's efforts, though, so it may just be a matter of time before you see this adorable bot patrolling paddies. As it stands, robots like this might be particularly helpful for Japan. The country's interest in worker robots is spurred in part by a declining population and resulting staff shortages. Roboducks like this could take care of large rice farms without requiring as many workers.

    Via:, Nerdist, The Verge

    Source: Nissan (YouTube)


  • Microsoft’s new browser is just like Chrome, so why switch from Chrome?
    The new Edge is pretty much Chrome with an Edge skin. It does all the fancy Chrome syncing, it integrates with your browser extensions and it works with websites as well as Chrome does. Now, here’s where it gets dicey on the appeal. See, let’s say you have two products. Product A which you’ve used for a long time and like, and Product B, which is new. Product B is the same as Product A, this is good for Product B, but now you have no incentive to change. If Microsoft Edge is now Google Chrome, then Chrome users have no reason to switch to Edge. It’s a bit worse if Product B is a rebranded version of a Product C which you tried and now actively dislike. Edge is Pepsi, and Chrome is Coke except Edge also used to taste like dollar store cola before so you’re not really sure you’d want to risk it again. I have the Edge preview installed, but I have to agree with the linked article  I really see no reason to use Chrome with an Edge skin. I used to use the original Edge because not only was it quite fast on Windows, it also integrated well with Windows both behaviourally and visually. The new Edge looks like Chrome, and just stands out like an eyesore. I doubt the new Edge will achieve much higher user figures than the original Edge, making me wonder if its even worth the effort.

  • Hackers, farmers, and doctors unite! Support for Right to Repair laws slowly grows
    Slowly but surely, though, consumers and third parties outside of vendor-sanctioned circles have been pushing to change this through so-called “right to repair” laws. These pieces of proposed legislation take different forms—19 states introduced some form of right to repair legislation in 2018, up from 12 in 2017—but generally they attempt to require companies, whether they are in the tech sector or not, to make their service manuals, diagnostic tools, and parts available to consumers and repair shops—not just select suppliers. It’s difficult to imagine a more convincing case for the notion that politics make strange bedfellows. Farmers, doctors, hospital administrators, hackers, and cellphone and tablet repair shops are aligned on one side of the right to repair argument, and opposite them are the biggest names in consumer technology, ag equipment and medical equipment. And given its prominence in the consumer technology repair space, has found itself at the forefront of the modern right to repair movement. All repair information for mobile devices, computers, etc. ought to be publicly available and free for everyone to use, no exceptions. The behaviour of companies like Apple is deeply amoral, unethical, anti-consumer, and just generally scummy.

  • Windows Terminal preview released on Microsoft Store
    The Windows Terminal is the new, powerful, open source terminal application that was announced at Build 2019. Its main features include multiple tabs, Unicode and UTF-8 character support, a GPU accelerated text rendering engine, and custom themes, styles, and configurations. Its now available in the Microsoft Store, and while Im not a huge command line user in Windows, it does feel like a night and day upgrade from cmd.exe. By default, it supports both cmd and PowerShell.

  • Wine developers concerned with Ubuntu dropping 32-bit support with Ubuntu 19.10
    The news that Ubuntu will drop support for the 32-bit x86 architecture was discussed recently by the Wine developers, on the Wine-devel mailing list. The Wine developers are concerned with this news because many 64-bit Windows applications still use a 32-bit installer, or some 32-bit components. Thats an interesting side-effect of going 64 bit-only that I hadnt even considered. This can be a serious blow to Ubuntu users who use Wine, but I do wonder just how popular Wine really is.

  • Digging into the new features in OpenZFS post-Linux migration
    ZFS on Linux 0.8 (ZoL) brought tons of new features and performance improvements when it was released on May 23. They came after Delphix announced that it was migrating its own product to Linux back in March 2018. Well go over some of the most exciting May features (like ZFS native encryption) here today. For the full list—including both new features and performance improvements not covered here—you can visit the ZoL 0.8.0 release on Github. (Note that ZoL 0.8.1 was released last week, but since ZFS on Linux follows semantic versioning, its a bugfix release only.)

  • Introducing Microsoft Edge preview builds for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1
    Today we are excited to make preview builds from the Microsoft Edge Canary channel available on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. This rounds out the initial set of platforms that we began to roll out back in April, so developers and users alike can try out the next version of Microsoft Edge on every major desktop platform. 0except Linux.

  • Debian GNU/Linux riscv64 port in mid 2019
    Its been a while since last post, and sometimes things look very quiet from outside even if the people on the backstage never stop working. So this is an update on the status of this port before the release of buster, which should happen in a few weeks and which it will open the way for more changes that will benefit the port. An update on the status of Debians riscv64 port.

  • Fixing a small calc.exe bug
    Saw a Windows Calculator bug on reddit. Since calc.exe was open-sourced I thought I’d try to find the bug and fix it. Cloned the code, recreated the bug, and found a minimal fix. Exactly what it says on the tin.

  • Mac Pro: all apologies, signed Apple pundits
    John Khelt: It took Apple 6 years to correct its last mistake, the trashcan Mac Pro. Part of the reason for Apple taking so long to correct mistakes is so many apologists uncritically support them. The pundits don’t get how outrageously insulting it is to drown out and ignore what enthusiast/users say they want (e.g., Macs with upgradable slots) and instead decree what pundits think you need and should be happy with. That level of uncritical support helps Apple ignore problems. The pundits are sure they know best. Remember, they declared how the trashcan Mac was also for pros, rather than being critical about how it served neither pros nor enthusiasts. Despite being wrong then, they’re happy to reassert the same now. The pundits can’t seem to think beyond wanting to curry Apple favor. Being an Apple sycophant has its privileges after all. Maybe they’ll get to interview some Apple exec where they’ll ask banal questions and incessantly fluff Apple plastic talking points. And if they don’t play ball and choose to call Apple out on mistakes, maybe they wont get the next Apple event invite. But maybe, if more pundits could think for themselves, and more of them would speak up for enthusiasts and users, then just maybe, Apple would be motivated to do a better job. Right on the money.

  • How VisiCalc’s spreadsheets changed the world
    It’s the 40th anniversary of VisiCalc, the first popular spreadsheet program, and the anniversary has prompted some new remembrances of the killer app that, true to its “power to the people” origins, got people playing with data — and, by popularizing personal computers, helped to change the world. Something about spreadsheets popularising the PC always fascinated me. Out of all the things computers can do  its tabulating numbers that played an important role in their spread.

  • Microsoft considering a dedicated Office key for keyboards
    Microsoft is considering adding a dedicated Office key to keyboards. The new key would provide additional keyboard shortcuts for Office apps, including the ability to quickly share documents and files. Microsoft has been conducting a survey with testers of the Office key, spotted by WalkingCat, and is getting feedback on how the dedicated key operates. Microsoft appears to suggest the key will replace the secondary Windows key on the right-hand side of a keyboard, or the dedicated menu key. Microsoft’s survey, which requires a work or school Microsoft account to access, includes questions around Office key shortcuts, and asks whether testers would like to see this dedicated key on laptops. Microsoft appears to be testing the concept with its latest Windows 10 May 2019 Update. How about we all collectively decide not to do this? The Windows key is an affront enough as it is, and I really dont want OEMs to be strong-armed into adding another annoying, useless, user-hostile key that accidentally takes you out of games and other fullscreen applications and that is entirely useless on non-Windows operating systems. Just, no.

  • Samsung TVs should be regularly virus-checked, the company says
    Samsung has advised owners of its latest TVs to run regular virus scans. A how-to video on the Samsung Support USA Twitter account demonstrates the more than a dozen remote-control button presses required to access the sub-menu needed to activate the check. It suggested users should carry out the process every few weeks! to prevent malicious software attacks!. What.

  • Why Mazda is purging touchscreens from its vehicles
    What an interesting coincidence  a story from earlier this year that lines up well with our story from yesterday. Tablet-like touchscreens have become the ubiquitous interfaces of choice, and they’re seemingly everywhere in daily life, on everything from thermostats to coffee makers and refrigerators. But Mazda really doesn’t think they belong in cars—or at least anywhere near the driver’s seat. It wasn’t a decision that was hastily made, according to company officials. However, as they started studying the effects of touchscreens on driving safety (and driving comfort), it soon became clear what the priorities should be with this completely new system that makes its debut in the 2019 Mazda 3. This is a bold move by Mazda, especially now that touchscreens in cars have become such a hyped supposed selling point. I hope other manufacturers follow suit.

  • Lyrics site accuses Google of lifting its content
    “Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” said Ben Gross, Genius’s chief strategy officer, in an email message. The company said it used a watermarking system in its lyrics that embedded patterns in the formatting of apostrophes. Genius said it found more than 100 examples of songs on Google that came from its site. Starting around 2016, Genius said, the company made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song. When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words “Red Handed.” This is such a clear and shut case  but I do wonder, can anyone other than the actual copyright holders even claim ownership over the lyrics? I mean, neither Genius nor Google wrote these lyrics in the first place, and yet, here they are fighting over ownership. Posting lyrics online may fall under fair use, but I doubt youd be able to make a fair use appeal if you have a massive library of lyrics online, paid for through ads.

  • The touchscreen infotainment systems in new cars are a distracting mess
    When I’m in charge of a car company, we’re going to have one strict rule about interior design: make it so it doesn’t cause you to crash the car. You’d think this would already be in effect everywhere, but no. Ever since the arrival of the iPhone, car designers have aspired to replicate that sleek, glassy aesthetic within the cabin. And it never works, because you tend to look at a phone while you use it. In a car, you have this other thing you should be looking at, out there, beyond the high-resolution panoramic screen that separates your face from the splattering june bugs. If a designer came to me with a bunch of screens, touch pads, or voice-activated haptic-palm-pad gesture controls, I’d trigger a trapdoor that caused the offender to plummet down into the driver’s seat of a Cadillac fitted with the first version of the CUE system—which incorporated a motion sensor that would actually change the screen as your finger approached it. And I’d trigger my trapdoor by turning a knob. I wouldn’t even have to look at it. I couldnt agree more. One of the things I dread about ever replacing my 2009 Volvo S80 are these crappy touchscreens that are added to every car these days, often of dubious quality, with no regard to user interface design or driver safety. For instance, I dont want to take my eyes off the road just to adjust the temperature of the climate control  there should be a big, easy to find knob within arms reach. This just seems extremely unsafe to me.

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  • Raspberry Pi 4 on Sale Now, SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1 Released, Instaclustr Service Broker Now Available, Steam for Linux to Drop Support for Ubuntu 19.10 and Beyond, and Linux 5.2-rc6 Is Out

    News briefs for June 24, 2019.

    Raspberry Pi 4 is on sale now, starting at $35. The Raspberry Pi blog post notes that "this is a comprehensive upgrade, touching almost every element of the platform. For the first time we provide a PC-like level of performance for most users, while retaining the interfacing capabilities and hackability of the classic Raspberry Pi line". This version also comes with different memory options (1GB for $35, 2GB for $45 or 4GB for $55). You can order one from approved resellers here.

    SUSE releases SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 1 on its one-year anniversary of launching the world's first multimodal OS. From the SUSE blog: "SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1 advances the multimodal OS model by enhancing the core tenets of common code base, modularity and community development while hardening business-critical attributes such as data security, reduced downtime and optimized workloads." Some highlights include faster and easier transition from community Linux to enterprise Linux, enhanced support for edge to HPC workloads and improved hardware-based security. Go here for release notes and download links.

    Instaclustr announces the availability of its Instaclustr Service Broker. This release "enables customers to easily integrate their containerized applications, or cloud native applications, with open source data-layer technologies provided by the Instaclustr Managed Platform—including Apache Cassandra and Apache Kafka. Doing so enables organizations—cloud native applications to leverage key capabilities of the Instaclustr platform such as automated service discovery, provisioning, management, and deprovisioning of data-layer clusters." Go here for more details.

    Valve developer announces that Steam for Linux will drop support for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 release and future Ubuntu releases. Softpedia News reports that "Valve's harsh announcement comes just a few days after Canonical's announcement that they will drop support for 32-bit (i386) architectures in Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine). Pierre-Loup Griffais said on Twitter that Steam for Linux won't be officially supported on Ubuntu 19.10, nor any future releases. The Steam developer also added that Valve will focus their efforts on supporting other Linux-based operating systems for Steam for Linux. They will be looking for a GNU/Linux distribution that still offers support for 32-bit apps, and that they will try to minimize the breakage for Ubuntu users."

    Linux 5.2-rc6 was released on Saturday. Linus Torvalds writes, "rc6 is the biggest rc in number of commits we've had so far for this 5.2 cycle (obviously ignoring the merge window itself and rc1). And it's not just because of trivial patches (although admittedly we have those too), but we obviously had the TCP SACK/fragmentation/mss fixes in there, and they in turn required some fixes too." He also noted that he's "still reasonably optimistic that we're on track for a calm final part of the release, and I don't think there is anything particularly bad on the horizon."
          News  Raspberry Pi  SUSE  Instaclustr  Containers  cloud native  Valve  Steam  Ubuntu  kernel                   

  • Python's Mypy--Advanced Usage
    by Reuven M. Lerner   
    Mypy can check more than simple Python types.

    In my last article, I introduced Mypy, a package that enforces type checking in Python programs. Python itself is, and always will remain, a dynamically typed language. However, Python 3 supports "annotations", a feature that allows you to attach an object to variables, function parameters and function return values. These annotations are ignored by Python itself, but they can be used by external tools.

    Mypy is one such tool, and it's an increasingly popular one. The idea is that you run Mypy on your code before running it. Mypy looks at your code and makes sure that your annotations correspond with actual usage. In that sense, it's far stricter than Python itself, but that's the whole point.

    In my last article, I covered some basic uses for Mypy. Here, I want to expand upon those basics and show how Mypy really digs deeply into type definitions, allowing you to describe your code in a way that lets you be more confident of its stability.
     Type Inference
    Consider the following code:
      x: int = 5 x = 'abc' print(x)  
    This first defines the variable x, giving it a type annotation of int. It also assigns it to the integer 5. On the next line, it assigns x the string abc. And on the third line, it prints the value of x.

    The Python language itself has no problems with the above code. But if you run mypy against it, you'll get an error message: error: Incompatible types in assignment  (expression has type "str", variable has type "int")  
    As the message says, the code declared the variable to have type int, but then assigned a string to it. Mypy can figure this out because, despite what many people believe, Python is a strongly typed language. That is, every object has one clearly defined type. Mypy notices this and then warns that the code is assigning values that are contrary to what the declarations said.

    In the above code, you can see that I declared x to be of type int at definition time, but then assigned it to a string, and then I got an error. What if I don't add the annotation at all? That is, what if I run the following code via Mypy:
        Go to Full Article          

  • Understanding Public Key Infrastructure and X.509 Certificates
    by Jeff Woods   
    An introduction to PKI, TLS and X.509, from the ground up.

    Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) provides a framework of encryption and data communications standards used to secure communications over public networks. At the heart of PKI is a trust built among clients, servers and certificate authorities (CAs). This trust is established and propagated through the generation, exchange and verification of certificates.

    This article focuses on understanding the certificates used to establish trust between clients and servers. These certificates are the most visible part of the PKI (especially when things break!), so understanding them will help to make sense of—and correct—many common errors.

    As a brief introduction, imagine you want to connect to your bank to schedule a bill payment, but you want to ensure that your communication is secure. "Secure" in this context means not only that the content remains confidential, but also that the server with which you're communicating actually belongs to your bank.

    Without protecting your information in transit, someone located between you and your bank could observe the credentials you use to log in to the server, your account information, or perhaps the parties to which your payments are being sent. Without being able to confirm the identity of the server, you might be surprised to learn that you are talking to an impostor (who now has access to your account information).

    Transport layer security (TLS) is a suite of protocols used to negotiate a secured connection using PKI. TLS builds on the SSL standards of the late 1990s, and using it to secure client to server connections on the internet has become ubiquitous. Unfortunately, it remains one of the least understood technologies, with errors (often resulting from an incorrectly configured website) becoming a regular part of daily life. Because those errors are inconvenient, users regularly click through them without a second thought.

    Understanding the X.509 certificate, which is fully defined in RFC 5280, is key to making sense of those errors. Unfortunately, these certificates have a well deserved reputation of being opaque and difficult to manage. With the multitude of formats used to encode them, this reputation is rightly deserved.

    An X.509 certificate is a structured, binary record. This record consists of several key and value pairs. Keys represent field names, where values may be simple types (numbers, strings) to more complex structures (lists). The encoding from the key/value pairs to the structured binary record is done using a standard known as ASN.1 (Abstract Syntax Notation, One), which is a platform-agnostic encoding format.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Getting Started with Rust: Working with Files and Doing File I/O
    by Mihalis Tsoukalos   
    How to develop command-line utilities in Rust.

    This article demonstrates how to perform basic file and file I/O operations in Rust, and also introduces Rust's ownership concept and the Cargo tool. If you are seeing Rust code for the first time, this article should provide a pretty good idea of how Rust deals with files and file I/O, and if you've used Rust before, you still will appreciate the code examples in this article.
    It would be unfair to start talking about Rust without first discussing ownership. Ownership is the Rust way of the developer having control over the lifetime of a variable and the language in order to be safe. Ownership means that the passing of a variable also passes the ownership of the value to the new variable.

    Another Rust feature related to ownership is borrowing. Borrowing is about taking control over a variable for a while and then returning that ownership of the variable back. Although borrowing allows you to have multiple references to a variable, only one reference can be mutable at any given time.

    Instead of continuing to talk theoretically about ownership and borrowing, let's look at a code example called
      fn main() {  // Part 1  let integer = 321;  let mut _my_integer = integer;  println!("integer is {}", integer);  println!("_my_integer is {}", _my_integer);  _my_integer = 124;  println!("_my_integer is {}", _my_integer);   // Part 2  let a_vector = vec![1, 2, 3, 4, 5];  let ref _a_correct_vector = a_vector;  println!("_a_correct_vector is {:?}", _a_correct_vector);   // Part 3  let mut a_var = 3.14;  {  let b_var = &mut a_var;  *b_var = 3.14159;  }  println!("a_var is now {}", a_var); }  
    So, what's happening here? In the first part, you define an integer variable (integer) and create a mutable variable based on integer. Rust performs a full copy for primitive data types because they are cheaper, so in this case, the integer and _my_integer variables are independent from each other.

    However, for other types, such as a vector, you aren't allowed to change a variable after you have assigned it to another variable. Additionally, you should use a reference for the _a_correct_vector variable of Part 2 in the above example, because Rust won't make a copy of a_vector.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Study the Elements with KDE's Kalzium
    by Joey Bernard   
    I've written about a number of chemistry packages in the past and all of the computational chemistry that you can do in a Linux environment. But, what is fundamental to chemistry? Why, the elements, of course. So in this article, I focus on how you can learn more about the elements that make up everything around you with Kalzium. KDE's Kalzium is kind of like a periodic table on steroids. Not only does it have information on each of the elements, it also has extra functionality to do other types of calculations.

    Kalzium should be available within the package repositories for most distributions. In Debian-based distributions, you can install it with the command:
      sudo apt-get install kalzium  
    When you start it, you get a simplified view of the classical periodic table.

    Figure 1. The default view is of the classical ordering of the elements.

    You can change this overall view either by clicking the drop-down menu in the top-left side of the window or via the View→Tables menu item. You can select from five different display formats. Clicking one of the elements pops open a new window with detailed information.

    Figure 2. Kalzium provides a large number of details for each element.

    The default detail pane is an overview of the various physical characteristics of the given element. This includes items like the melting point, electron affinity or atomic mass. Five other information panes also are available. The atom model provides a graphical representation of the electron orbitals around the nucleus of the given atom. The isotopes pane shows a table of values for each of the known isotopes for the selected element, ordered by neutron number. This includes things like the atomic mass or the half-life for radioactive isotopes. The miscellaneous detail pane includes some of the extra facts and trivia that might be of interest. The spectrum detail pane shows the emission and absorption spectra, both as a graphical display and a table of values. The last detail pane provides a list of external links where you can learn more about the selected element. This includes links to Wikipedia, the Jefferson Lab and the Webelements sites.

    Figure 3. For those elements that are stable enough, you even can see the emission and absorption spectra.
        Go to Full Article          

Page last modified on October 08, 2013, at 07:08 PM