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LinuxSecurity - Security Advisories

  • Debian LTS: DLA-1892-1: flask security update
    Flask, a micro web framework for Python contains a CWE-20: Improper Input Validation vulnerability that can result in Large amount of memory usage possibly leading to denial of service. This attack appear

  • Security updates for Tuesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (flask), openSUSE (clementine, dkgpg, libTMCG, openexr, and zstd), Oracle (kernel, mysql:8.0, redis:5, and subversion:1.10), SUSE (nodejs6, python-Django, and rubygem-rails-html-sanitizer), and Ubuntu (cups, docker, docker-credential-helpers, kconfig, kde4libs, libreoffice, nova, and openldap).

  • [$] On-disk format robustness requirements for new filesystems
    The "Extendable Read-Only File System" (or "EROFS") was first postedby Gao Xiang in May 2018; it was merged into the staging tree forthe 4.19 release. There has been a steady stream of work on EROFS sincethen, and its author now thinks that it is ready to move out of stagingand join the other official filesystems in the kernel. It would seem,though, that there is one final hurdle that it may have to clear:robustness in the face of a corrupted on-disk filesystem image. Thatraises an interesting question: to what extent do new filesystems have toexhibit a level of robustness that is not met by the filesystems that arecurrently in heavy use?

  • Stapelberg: distri: a Linux distribution to research fast package management
    Michael Stapelberg has announcedthe first release of "distri", a distribution focused on simplifying andaccelerating package management. "distri’s package manager is extremely fast. Its main bottleneck is typically the network link, even at high speed links (I tested with a 100 Gbps link).Its speed comes largely from an architecture which allows the package manager to do less work."

  • Security updates for Monday
    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (kernel and openssl), Debian (ffmpeg, golang-1.11, imagemagick, kde4libs, openldap, and python3.4), Fedora (gradle, hostapd, kdelibs3, and mgetty), Gentoo (adobe-flash, hostapd, mariadb, patch, thunderbird, and vlc), Mageia (elfutils, mariadb, mythtv, postgresql, and redis), openSUSE (chromium, kernel, LibreOffice, and zypper, libzypp and libsolv), Oracle (ghostscript), Red Hat (rh-php71-php), SUSE (bzip2, evince, firefox, glib2, glibc, java-1_8_0-openjdk, polkit, postgresql10, python3, and squid), and Ubuntu (firefox).

  • A new chair for the openSUSE board
    Richard Brown has announced that he is stepping down as the chair of theopenSUSE board. "I have absolute confidence in the openSUSE Board; Indeed, I don't think Iwould be able to make this decision at this time if I wasn't certain that Iwas leaving openSUSE in good hands.On that note, SUSE has appointed Gerald Pfeifer as my replacement asChair. Gerald is SUSE's EMEA-based CTO, with a long history as a Tumbleweeduser, an active openSUSE Member, and upstream contributor/maintainer inprojects like GCC and Wine."

  • Kernel prepatch 5.3-rc5
    Linus has released the 5.3-rc5 kernelprepatch, saying: "It's been calm, and nothing here stands out, except perhaps some ofthe VM noise where we un-reverted some changes wrt node-local vshugepage allocations."

  • Git v2.23.0 released
    Version 2.23.0 of the Git source-code management system is out. There's alot of new features, including a new "git merge --quit" option,new "git switch" and "git restore" commands, and more.

  • [$] Reconsidering unprivileged BPF
    The BPF virtual machine within the kernel has seen a great deal of workover the last few years; as that has happened, its use has expanded to manydifferent kernel subsystems. One of the objectives of that work in thepast has been to make it safe to allow unprivileged users to load at least some types ofBPF programs into the kernel. A recent discussion has made it clear,though, that the goal of opening up BPF to unprivileged users has beenabandoned as unachievable, and that further work in that direction will notbe accepted by the BPF maintainer.

  • kdevops: a devops framework for Linux kernel development
    Luis Chamberlain has announcedthe "kdevops" kernel-development framework. "I'm announcing therelease of kdevops which aims at making setting up and testing the Linuxkernel for any project as easy as possible. Note that setting up testingfor a subsystem and testing a subsystem are two separate operations,however we strive for both. This is not a new test framework, it allows youto use existing frameworks, and set those frameworks up as easily canhumanly be possible. It relies on a series of modern hip devops frameworks,it relies on ansible, vagrant and terraform, ansible roles through theAnsible Galaxy, and terraform modules."

  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (freetype, libreoffice, and openjdk-7), Fedora (edk2, mariadb, mariadb-connector-c, mariadb-connector-odbc, python-django, and squirrelmail), Gentoo (chromium, cups, firefox, glibc, kconfig, libarchive, libreoffice, oracle-jdk-bin, polkit, proftpd, sqlite, wget, zeromq, and znc), openSUSE (bzip2, chromium, dosbox, evince, gpg2, icedtea-web, java-11-openjdk, java-1_8_0-openjdk, kconfig, kdelibs4, mariadb, mariadb-connector-c, nodejs8, pdns, polkit, python, subversion, and vlc), Oracle (ghostscript and kernel), Red Hat (mysql:8.0 and subversion:1.10), SUSE (389-ds, libvirt and libvirt-python, and openjpeg2), and Ubuntu (nginx).

  • KDE Applications 19.08 Brings New Features to Konsole, Dolphin, Kdenlive, Okular and Dozens of Other Apps (KDE.News)
    KDE.News reports on the release of KDE Applications 19.08. The release has updates for many different applications, as can also be seen in the official announcement. "Take Konsole, our powerful terminal emulator, which has seen major improvements to its tiling abilities. We've made tiling a bit more advanced, so now you can split your tabs as many times as you want, both horizontally and vertically. The layout is completely customizable, so feel free to drag and drop the panes inside Konsole to achieve the perfect workspace for your needs.Dolphin, KDE's file explorer, introduces features that will help you step up your file management game. Let's start with bookmarks, a feature that allows you to create a quick-access link to a folder, or save a group of specific tabs for future reference. We've also made tab management smarter to help you declutter your desktop. Dolphin will now automatically open folders from other apps in new tabs of an existing window, instead of in their own separate windows."

  • [$] PHP and P++
    PHP is the Fortran of the world-wide web: it demonstrated the power of codeembedded in web pages, but has since been superseded in many developers'minds by more contemporary technologies. Even so, as with Fortran, thereis far more PHP code out there than one might think, and PHP is stillchosen for new projects. There is a certain amount of tension in the PHPdevelopment community between the need to maintain compatibility for largeamounts of ancient code and the need to evolve the language to keep itrelevant for current developers. That tension has now come into the openwith a proposal to split PHP into two languages.

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by openSUSE (irssi, ledger, libheimdal, libmediainfo, libqb, and libsass) and Slackware (mozilla).

LXer Linux News

  • A project managers guide to Ansible
    From application deployment to provisioning, Ansible is a powerful open source tool for automating routine IT tasks. It can help an organization[he]#039[/he]s IT run smoothly, with core IT processes networked and maintained. Ansible is an advanced IT orchestration solution, and it can be deployed even over a large, complex network infrastructure.

  • Compact computer designed for rugged field controller duty
    Nexcom’s rugged, entry-level “NIFE 104” embedded computer runs Linux or Windows on an Intel Bay Trail CPU and offers dual GbE, RS232/485, USB 3.0, HDMI, TPM 2.0, and dual mini-PCIe. Nexcom announced a fanless, compact embedded computer that it variably describes as an M2M automation gateway, SoftPLC fieldbus controller, and general-purpose industrial PC. Measuring a […]

  • Install CouchDB on Debian 9 Operating System
    The CouchDB is an open-source database system, managed by the Apache Software Foundation. It is fault-tolerant, and schema-free NoSQL database management system. Today, In this tutorial, we will learn how to install CouchDB on Debian 9 machine.

  • Command line quick tips: Searching with grep
    If you use your Fedora system for more than just browsing the web, you have probably needed to search for text in your files. For instance, you might be a developer that can’t remember where you left some code snippet. Or you might be looking for a setting stored in your system configuration files. Whatever […]

  • How to Install and Configure OpenShift Origin PaaS Server on Ubuntu
    OpenShift is a free and open-source Platform-as-a-Service developed by Red Hat. It is used to develop, host and scale applications in the cloud environment. OpenShift provides support for lots of languages like Java EE6, Ruby, PHP, Python, Perl, MongoDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

  • WebAssembly for speed and code reuse
    Imagine translating a non-web application, written in a high-level language, into a binary module ready for the web. This translation could be done without any change whatsoever to the non-web application's source code. A browser can download the newly translated module efficiently and execute the module in the sandbox. The executing web module can interact seamlessly with other web technologies—with JavaScript (JS) in particular. Welcome to more


	Copyright 2019|Linux Insider"LinuxInsider"]]
  • Slackel Linux Works Well Inside Its Openbox
    The latest release of Slackel Linux renews and improves the mashup of Slackware and Salix built around an Openbox pseudo desktop environment. Slackel 7.2 hit the download servers on July 20, eight months after the release of Slackel 7.1 Openbox edition. Slackel also is available in two older versions running the KDE and Fluxbox environments. All releases are available in 64-bit and 32-bit builds.

  • How to Distro Hop With a Web Browser
    Getting familiar with Linux up close and personal is easy to do with a free service provided by, which allows testing without ISO downloads or local installations. Are you a wandering Linux distro hopper looking for a way to streamline the selection process? Are you a Windows or macOS user who wants to try Linux? Linux has countless distributions and dozens of desktop environments.

  • Newcomer EndeavourOS Offers a Friendlier Arch Linux Experience
    Good-bye Antergos Linux. Welcome to the Arch neighborhood, EndeavourOS. Here's hoping that you are well received! That may seem like a strange way to begin this week's Linux review discussion. After all, Linux distributions come and go far too often. However, the handoff from Antergos to EndeavourOS is significant. EndeavourOS is a new Arch-based Linux distro that picks up where Antergos left off.

  • TROM-Jaro: A New Twist on Open Source Freedom
    TROM-Jaro Linux offers a new twist on the concept of open source as free software. First released as a beta version last December, TROM-Jaro's second and current non-beta release pushed out in June. This new distro is a custom-built version of the popular Manjaro Arch Linux. It is probably more accurate to describe TROM-Jaro as a strategically modified version of Manjaro Linux.

  • GitHub Blocks Devs in US-Sanctioned Regions
    GitHub is blocking users in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria from accessing its services to comply with U.S. trade control laws. The Microsoft-owned company disclosed the action on a support page as a courtesy, noting that GitHub users ultimately are responsible for ensuring that their use of GitHub's products and services complies with all applicable laws and regulations.

  • Emmabunts Is a Hidden Linux Gem
    Emmabunts is a great find if you are looking for an all-around Linux operating system that keeps legacy computers out of the trash heap and is easy to use with no setup or regular Internet access required. This distro is not one whose name is readily recognizable. Hidden from popular view, it's seldom spotted by product reviewers. Yet it has fulfilled a range of user needs for years.

  • Microsoft, OpenAI Shoot for the Stars
    Microsoft wants to empower its Azure cloud computing service with yet-to-exist artificial general intelligence technologies to create new goals for supercomputing. It has announced a $1B investment through a partnership with OpenAI to build new AI technologies. The two companies hope to extend Microsoft Azure's capabilities in large-scale AI systems.

  • Neon: A Wannabe Linux Distro For KDE Lovers
    KDE Neon is a bit of an oddball Linux thing. Linuxland has an impressive collection of oddball things. Neon looks and feels much like a Linux distribution, but its developers assert quite openly on their website that Neon is not a real Linux distro. It just installs and functions like one -- sort of. That can make deciding to use it a little confusing.

  • Code Cracker Turing to Be on 50-Quid Notes
    Alan Turing, the British mathematician known for his World War II code-breaking exploits and for a test to distinguish between human and machine intelligence, will be on 50-pound notes in the UK by the end of 2021. The Bank of England, which made the announcement, explained that Turing, who died in 1954, was chosen from a field of 989 eligible characters after a public nomination period.

  • Social Media, Crafters, Gamers and the Online Censorship Debate
    Ravelry, an online knitting community that has more than 8 million members, last month announced that it would ban forum posts, projects, patterns and even profiles from users who supported President Trump or his administration. "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy," the administrators of Ravelry posted on the site.

  • Debian Linux 10 'Buster' Places Stability Ahead of Excitement
    After 25 months of development, the makers of the granddaddy of the Linux OSes released an upgrade that updates many of the software packages and plays general catch-up with modern Linux trends. However, Debian Linux 10 Buster is a boring upgrade. It does little to draw attention to its merits. For serious Linux users, though, boring can be endearing.

  • The Router's Obstacle-Strewn Route to Home IoT Security
    It is newly minted conventional wisdom that not a single information security conference goes by without a presentation about the abysmal state of IoT security. While this is a boon for researchers looking to make a name for themselves, this sorry state of affairs is definitely not beneficial for anyone who owns a connected device. IoT device owners aren't the only ones fed up, though.

  • Mageia 7 Pushes Linux Desktop Boundaries
    Mageia 7 redefines the concept of traditional Linux. It is a solid operating system well suited to both newcomers and seasoned Linux users alike. The Mageia distro is a powerhouse Linux OS filled with features and options unmatched in other Linux versions. Mageia Linux is a fork of the now-defunct Mandriva Linux. The first Mageia version was released in September 2010.

  • Can You Hear Me Now? Staying Connected During a Cybersecurity Incident
    While good communication is pretty much universally beneficial, there are times when it's more so than others. One such time? During a cybersecurity incident. Incident responders know that communication is paramount. Even a few minutes might mean the difference between closing an issue vs. allowing a risky situation to persist longer than it needs to.

  • Escuelas Linux Is Much More Than an Enlightened Linux Retread
    Escuelas Linux caught me by surprise. This Linux distro is a prime example of how a programmer can take an open source operating system that matches his own developmental strategy and turn it into a much different product with an identical look and feel. What makes the surprise so appealing is how effectively one distro becomes another while both continue to coexist equally.

  • Next-Gen Raspberry Pi 4 Packs Power Plus Potential
    The next big Raspberry Pi thing is now here, with lots more computing power and more options. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the availability of Raspberry Pi 4, a comprehensive upgrade that touches nearly every element of the computing platform. Users have a choice of three memory capacities. The entry-level 1 GB RAM retains the signature $35 price; 2 GB costs $45; 4 GB sells for $55.


  • A Diet Based on Caloric Restriction Might Make You Live Longer. It'll Certainly Feel Like Longer.
    A diet based on caloric restriction might make you live longer. It'll certainly feel like longer. Called Prolon, it's a five-day, $250 meal kit which arrives in a white cardboard container a little bigger than a shoebox. It involves eating about 800 calories each day. The idea is that temporarily shifts your body into a starvation state, prompting your cells to consume years of accumulated cellular garbage before unleashing a surge of restorative regeneration. The idea that starving yourself while still taking in crucial nutrients will let you live longer is not new. The practice, called caloric restriction, is the only proven way to extend life in a wide variety of creatures. There are currently trials underway to see if the diet might help protect human patients from the ravages of chemotherapy, too. However, experiments have found that doing it for extended periods is a problem, and probably not practical for most people. Research on the "fast-mimicking diet" is still limited, but the Prolon diet has been sold in 15 countries and tried by more than 150,000 people. Read how Adam Piore got on when he tried it out.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • You Can Finally See All Of The Info Facebook Collected About You From Other Websites
    Facebook said Tuesday it's rolling out a long-awaited privacy feature that will let users see and clear information from apps and websites they browse outside of the social network. Some people in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain will gain access to this feature first, but the company plans to broaden the availability soon. From a report: Facebook collects information about its users in two ways: first, through the information you input into its website and apps, and second, by tracking which websites you visit while you're not on Facebook. That's why, after you visit a clothing retailer's website, you'll likely see an ad for it in your Facebook News Feed or Instagram feed. Basically, Facebook monitors where you go, all across the internet, and uses your digital footprints to target you with ads. But Facebook users have never been able to view this external data Facebook collected about them, until now.   Facebook tracks your browsing history via the "Login with Facebook" button, the "like" button, Facebook comments, and little bits of invisible code, called the Facebook pixel, embedded on other sites. Today the company will start to roll out a feature called "Off-Facebook Activity" that allows people to manage that external browsing data -- finally delivering on a promise it made over a year ago when CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at a company event that it would develop a feature then called "Clear History." The new tool will display a summary of those third-party websites that shared your visit with Facebook, and will allow you to disconnect that browsing history from your Facebook account. You can also opt out of future off-Facebook activity tracking, or selectively stop certain websites from sending your browsing activity to Facebook. Nearly a third of all websites include a Facebook tracker, according to several studies.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Google's Clickless Era
    For the first time last month, a majority of all browser-based Google searches resulted in zero clicks, according to a new study from software company Sparktoro. From a report: The report's author notes that Google's functionality has changed to keep users within the Google ecosystem, not to always refer them outside of it. "We've passed a milestone in Google's evolution from search engine to walled-garden," he writes. On mobile, where the majority of search traffic takes place, organic searches have fallen about 20%, and have instead been replaced by paid searches and "zero click" searches, or search queries that result in snippets of information being presented, removing the need for a user to click into a link. In January 2016, the report notes, more than half of mobile searches ended without a click. Today, it's almost two-thirds.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Bitbucket Dropping Support For Mercurial
    Bitbucket, once one of the largest Mercurial repository hosting sites, said Tuesday it plans to remove Mercurial features and repositories from its platform on June 1, 2020. In a blog post, Bitbucket wrote: As we surpass 10 million registered users on the platform, we're at a point in our growth where we are conducting a deeper evaluation of the market and how we can best support our users going forward. After much consideration, we've decided to remove Mercurial support from Bitbucket Cloud and its API. Bitbucket will stop letting users create new Mercurial repositories starting February 1, 2020, and start removing all the Mercurial repositories four months later. So you will want to backup your repositories and switch to a different platform in the coming months.  A different user pointed out, "Another shitty aspect of bitbucket dropping mercurial support and deleting all the old repositories in 2020: all yt pull request discussions from before 2017 are going to be deleted. There's valuable context for how the code got written in those discussions."  Several users have expressed their concerns over this decision. Sebastien Jodogne, CSO at Osimis, said, "This is an extremely concerning decision that endangers diversity in the computer science industry by pushing the de facto hegemony of git."   For those of you affected by this, you can consider a number of platforms including SourceForge to host and manage your repositories.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Microsoft's Chromium-Powered Edge Browser Moves Closer To Release With New Beta Build
    Microsoft today made a beta version of its Chromium Edge browser available to download for macOS and Windows platforms, as it looks to convince users to give its revamped version of desktop browser a try. The company said the new beta version is built for "everyday use." From a report: Those on the Dev and Canary channels will continue to be able to run those builds along with the new Beta channel builds. For those on the Canary builds, Microsoft is releasing a new Collections feature today. Microsoft is announcing a couple of other big milestones today: the company says it has had more than 1 million downloads on the preview builds of Edge to date, and it's received more than 140,000 individual pieces of feedback from users so far.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • WebKit Introduces New Tracking Prevention Policy
    AmiMoJo writes: WebKit, the open source HTML engine used by Apple's Safari browser and a number of others, has created a new policy on tracking prevention. The short version is that many forms of tracking will now be treated the same way as security flaws, being blocked or mitigated with no exceptions. While on-site tracking will still be allowed (and is practically impossible to prevent anyway), all forms of cross-site tracking and covert tracking will be actively and aggressively blocked.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • The Truth About Faster Internet: It's Not Worth It
    Americans are spending ever more for blazing internet speeds, on the promise that faster is better. Is that really the case? For most people, the answer is no. From a report: The Wall Street Journal studied the internet use of 53 of our journalists across the country, over a period of months, in coordination with researchers at Princeton University and the University of Chicago. Our panelists used only a fraction of their available bandwidth to watch streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube, even simultaneously. Quality didn't improve much with higher speeds. Picture clarity was about the same. Videos didn't launch quicker. Broadband providers such as Comcast, Charter and AT&T are marketing speeds in the range of 250, 500 or even 1,000 megabits a second, often promising that streaming-video bingers will benefit. "Fast speeds for all of your shows," declares one online ad from Comcast. But for a typical household, the benefits of paying for more than 100 megabits a second are marginal at best, according to the researchers. That means many households are paying a premium for services they don't need.   To gauge how much bandwidth, or speed capacity, households need, it helps to look at an extreme scenario. Our users spent an evening streaming up to seven services simultaneously, including on-demand services like Netflix and live-TV services like Sling TV. We monitored the results. Peter Loftus, one of our panelists, lives outside Philadelphia and is a Comcast customer with a speed package of 150 megabits a second. Peter's median usage over 35 viewing minutes was 6.9 Mbps, 5% of the capacity he pays for. For the portion when all seven of his streams were going at once, he averaged 8.1 Mbps. At one point, for one second, Peter reached 65% of his capacity. Did his video launch faster or play more smoothly? Not really. The researchers said that to the extent there were differences in video quality such as picture resolution or the time it took to launch a show, they were marginal.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • States To Launch Antitrust Investigation Into Big Tech Companies
    An anonymous reader shares a report: The state attorneys in more than a dozen states are preparing to begin an antitrust investigation of the tech giants, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported Monday, putting the spotlight on an industry that is already facing federal scrutiny. The bipartisan group of attorneys from as many as 20 states is expected to formally launch a probe as soon as next month to assess whether tech companies are using their dominant market position to hurt competition, WSJ reported.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Juul, Philip Morris Sued Under Racketeer Act For Targeting Kids
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc. and Philip Morris USA Inc. were sued for illegally marketing nicotine-delivery devices to minors and deceiving consumers about the risks of vaping. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 19-year-old, Christian Foss, who says he became addicted to nicotine and suffered worsening asthma symptoms after he began using Juul's device at 16, and seeks to represent all Illinois minors who used it. It alleges that Juul and Philip Morris violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, adopting the tobacco industry's past use of catchy ad campaigns aimed at children. The Justice Department invoked RICO to sue the industry two decades ago. "Mimicking Big Tobacco's past marketing practices, defendants prey on youth for financial gain," according to the lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Chicago. Philip Morris is a unit of Altria Group, which is also named as a defendant and which recently bought a 35% stake in Juul for $12.8 billion.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • 35 Million-Year-Old Asteroid Left a Trail of Destruction Across the Eastern US
    schwit1 shares a report from About 35 million years ago, an asteroid traveling nearly 144,000 mph (231,000 km/h) smashed into the Atlantic Ocean near the modern-day town of Cape Charles, Virginia. The space rock vaporized instantly, but its impact triggered a gargantuan tsunami, cast up a monsoon of shattered rocks and molten glass that spanned hundreds of miles and carved out the single largest crater in the United States -- the so-called Chesapeake Bay impact structure. Today, that 25-mile-wide (40 kilometers) crater is buried half a mile below the rocky basement of Chesapeake Bay -- the 200-mile-long (320 km) estuary linking Virginia and Maryland on the East Coast. That hasn't stopped scientists from trying to piece together the site's mysterious history since it was first discovered during a drilling project in 1990.   In a recent study of ocean sediment cores taken almost 250 miles (400 km) northeast of the impact site, researchers found traces of radioactive debris dating to the time of the strike, providing fresh evidence of the impact's age and destructive power. In their recent study (published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science), researchers from Arizona State University dated 21 microscopic shards of zircon -- a durable gemstone that can survive underground for billions of years. These zircons were lodged in a sediment core taken from roughly 2,150 feet (655 meters) below the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is zircon commonly found in tektites, but it is also a choice mineral for radiometric dating, thanks to some of its radioactive elemental components. In this case, the researchers used a dating technique called uranium-thorium-helium dating, which looks at how radioactive isotopes, or versions, of uranium and thorium decay into helium. The team found that the 21 crystals ranged widely in age, running the gamut from about 33 million to 300 million years old. The two youngest samples, which had an average age of about 35 million years old, fit in with previous studies' estimates for the time of the Chesapeake Bay impact.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • How SpaceX Plans To Move Starship From Cocoa Site To Kennedy Space Center
    New submitter RhettLivingston writes: Real plans for the move of Starship Mk 2 from its current construction site in Cocoa to the Kennedy Space Center have finally emerged. A News 6 Orlando report identifies permit applications and observed preparations for the move,which will take a land and sea route. Barring some remarkably hasty road compaction and paving, the prototype will start its journey off-road, crossing a recently cleared path through vacant land to reach Grissom Parkway. It will then travel east in the westbound lanes of SR 528 for a short distance before loading to a barge in the Indian river via a makeshift dock. The rest of the route is relatively conventional, including offloading at KSC at the site previously used for delivery of the Space Shuttle's external fuel tanks. Given the recent construction of new facilities at the current construction site, it is likely that this will not be the last time this route is utilized. SpaceX declined to say how the company will transport the spacecraft or when the relocation will occur. SpaceX's "Mk2" orbital Starship prototype is designed to test out the technologies and basic design of the final Starship vehicle -- a giant passenger spacecraft that SpaceX is making to take people to the Moon and Mars.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Scientists Are 99 Percent Sure They Just Detected a Black Hole Eating a Neutron Star
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On Wednesday, a gravitational wave called S190814bv was detected by the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and its Italian counterpart Virgo. Based on its known properties, scientists think there is a 99% probability that the source of the wave is a black hole that ate a neutron star. In contrast to black hole mergers, neutron star collisions do produce a lot of light. When a gravitational wave from a neutron star crash was detected in 2017, scientists were able to pinpoint bright emissions from the event -- called an optical counterpart -- in the days that followed the wave detection. This marked the dawn of a technique called "multi-messenger astronomy," in which scientists use multiple types of signals from space to examine astronomical objects.   Ryan Foley, an astronomer at UC Santa Cruz, was part of the team that tracked down that first optical counterpart, a feat that has not yet been repeated. He and his colleagues are currently scanning the skies with telescopes, searching for any light that might have been radiated by the new suspected merger of a black hole and neutron star. If the team were to pick up light from the event within the coming weeks, they would be witnessing the fallout of a black hole spilling a neutron star's guts while devouring it. This would provide a rare glimpse of the exotic properties of these extreme astronomical objects and could shed light on everything from subatomic physics to the expansion rate of the universe. "We've never detected a neutron star and a black hole together," said Foley. "If it turns out to be right, then we've confirmed a new type of star system. It's that fundamental." He added: "If you learn about how neutron stars are built, that can tell you about how atoms are built. This is something that is fundamental to everything in our daily life works."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Jaguar and Audi SUVs Fail To Dent Tesla's Electric-Car Dominance
    Tesla has managed to expand its electric-car marketshare, despite two new battery-powered luxury SUVs that have been in U.S. showrooms for the last 10 months: Jaguar's I-Pace and Audi's e-tron. Bloomberg reports: Their starts are the latest indications that legacy automakers aren't assured instant success when they roll out new plug-in models. Tesla's Model S and X have largely held its own against the two crossovers that offer shorter range and less plentiful public charging infrastructure. Jaguar and Audi also lack the cool factor Musk has cultivated for the Tesla brand by taking an aggressive approach to autonomy and using over-the-air software updates to add games and entertainment features. Tesla's Model X and Model S each boast more than 300 miles of range, and the cheaper Model 3 travels 240 miles between charges. Jaguar's $69,500 I-Pace is rated at 234 miles, and Audi's $74,800 e-tron registers 204 miles.   Jaguar's marketing team spent years laying the groundwork to introduce the I-Pace. In 2016, the brand joined Formula E, an open-wheeled, electric-powered race circuit similar to Formula One. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are also joining Formula E for the 2019-2020 season to help generate buzz for the new all-electric models they have coming out. The circuit makes stops in cities including New York, Hong Kong and London, which the brands are banking on as major markets for plug-in cars. But while Formula E is drawing crowds of urban dwellers and a substantial audience on social media, all that buzz may not necessarily translate into showroom traffic.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Pentagon Conducts First Test of Previously Banned Missile
    The U.S. military has conducted a flight test of a type of missile banned for more than 30 years by a treaty that both the United States and Russia abandoned this month, the Pentagon said. The Associated Press reports: The test off the coast of California on Sunday marked the resumption of an arms competition that some analysts worry could increase U.S.-Russian tensions. The Trump administration has said it remains interested in useful arms control but questions Moscow's willingness to adhere to its treaty commitments. The Pentagon said it tested a modified ground-launched version of a Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, which was launched from San Nicolas Island and accurately struck its target after flying more than 500 kilometers (310 miles). The missile was armed with a conventional, not nuclear, warhead.   Defense officials had said last March that this missile likely would have a range of about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and that it might be ready for deployment within 18 months. The missile would have violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987, which banned all types of missiles with ranges between 500 kilometers (310 miles) and 5,500 kilometers (3,410 miles). The U.S. and Russia withdrew from the treaty on Aug. 2, prompted by what the administration said was Russia's unwillingness to stop violating the treaty's terms. Russia accused the U.S. of violating the agreement. The Pentagon says it also intends to begin testing, probably before the end of this year, an INF-range ballistic missile with a range of roughly 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) to 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles).

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Twitter Blocks State-Controlled Media Outlets From Advertising On Its Social Network
    Twitter is now blocking state-run media outlets from advertising on its platform. The new policy was announced just hours after the company was criticized for running promoted tweets by China's largest state agency that paint pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong as violent, even though the rallies, including one that drew an estimated 1.7 million people this weekend, have been described as mostly peaceful by international media. TechCrunch reports: State-funded media enterprises that do not rely on taxpayer dollars for their financing and don't operate independently of the governments that finance them will no longer be allowed to advertise on the platform, Twitter said in a statement. That leaves a big exception for outlets like the Associated Press, the British Broadcasting Corp., Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio, according to reporting from BBC reporter, Dave Lee. The affected accounts will be able to use Twitter, but can't access the company's advertising products, Twitter said in a statement.   The policy applies to news media outlets that are financially or editorially controlled by the state, Twitter said. The company said it will make its policy determinations on the basis of media freedom and independence, including editorial control over articles and video, the financial ownership of the publication, the influence or interference governments may exert over editors, broadcasters and journalists, and political pressure or control over the production and distribution process. Twitter said the advertising rules wouldn't apply to entities that are focused on entertainment, sports or travel, but if there's news in the mix, the company will block advertising access. Affected outlets have 30 days before they're removed from Twitter and the company is halting all existing campaigns.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Register

  • Dry patch? Have you considered peppering your flirts with emojis?
    Research suggests cutesy comms aid can get you laid
    Had much, you know, 👌👈 recently? Perhaps you need to ⬆️ your emoji 🙃 game 🎮 as new research 👨‍🎓 has linked ⛓ using the cutesy online comms aid with going on more dates 💑 and getting laid 💦🍆.…

  • Microsoft Notepad: If it ain't broke, shove it in the Store, then break it?
    For the love of Windows, please leave that poor text editor alone
    Roundup It's the summer holidays. A good time to do things while nobody's watching. Except The Register, of course. Aside from sneaking Notepad into the Windows Store, last week Microsoft gave Insiders a new 2020 Windows 10 build, added features back into Skype, rounded out Azure's persistent disk storage and prepared a Typescript update.…

 offline for now


  • Linux "Lockdown" Patches Hit Their 40th Revision
    The long-running Linux "Lockdown" patches were sent out again overnight for their 40th time but it remains to be seen if these security-oriented patches will be pulled in for the upcoming Linux 5.4 cycle...

  • GCC 10 Lands Support For -march=tigerlake & -march=cooperlake
    The GNU toolchain has already been preparing for Cooperlake CPUs as the successor to Cascadelake as well as supporting the new instruction set extensions, but finally today the support for -march=cooperlake was merged to GCC 10 for conveniently exposing the new CPU target in the GNU Compiler Collection. At the same time, -march=tigerlake was also added...

  • POWER9 & ARM Performance Against Intel Xeon Cascadelake + AMD EPYC Rome
    For those wondering how ARM and IBM POWER hardware stack up against AMD's new EPYC "Rome" processors and that of Intel's existing Xeon "Cascade Lake" processors, here is a round of tests from the POWER9 Talos II, Ampere eMAG, and Cavium ThunderX in looking at the cross-architecture Linux CPU performance currently in the server space.

  • System76 Still Aiming To Be The Apple Of The Linux Space With Software & Hardware
    System76 continues doing much more work on software these days as well as expanding their own hardware manufacturing capabilities. This is much more than they did a decade or even several years ago when they were just selling PCs/laptops pre-loaded with Ubuntu. As summed up by System76 founder and CEO, Carl Richell, their end game is much more Apple-esque...

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3600X Linux Performance
    Now that the new AMD Ryzen 3000 series are running great with the latest Linux distributions following prominent motherboard vendors issuing BIOS updates that correct the "RdRand" issue, we're moving on with looking at the performance of the rest of the Ryzen 3000 series line-up while having freshly re-tested the processors under Ubuntu 19.04. Up for exploration today is the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, the six-core / 12-thread processor retailing for about $250 USD.

  • Intel Tries Again To Auto Enable GuC/HuC Functionality For Their Linux Graphics Driver
    Intel previously tried auto-enabling GuC and HuC functionality within their Linux kernel graphics driver but ended up reverting the support since the driver didn't gracefully handle the scenarios of missing/corrupt firmware files. The driver should now be more robust in such situations so they will try again for turning on the automatic behavior, possibly for the upcoming Linux 5.4 cycle...

  • Qt's Development Branch To Begin Forming Qt 6
    Following the feature freeze and code branching for Qt 5.14, the Qt "Dev" branch will likely be shifting immediately to Qt 6 development. A Qt 5.15 release is still expected to happen before Qt 6.0, but that 5.15 milestone will likely just be a polished release derived from Qt 5.14...

  • Warfork Letting Warsow Live On Under Steam
    Going back a decade one of the interesting open-source FPS games of its time was Warsow. Development on Warsow has seemingly been tremulous over the past few years (edit: though the core developer has recently released a new beta) for this Qfusion (Quake 2 code base) engine powered game that started in 2005, but now there is Warfork as a fork of Warsow that is being developed and also available via Steam...

  • KDE Usability & Productivity Initiative Coming To An End
    The KDE Usability and Productivity Initiative to solve various problems in the KDE software stack to make it easier to use to more individuals and to do so more efficient will be coming to an end. But other KDE goals are being envisioned and the usability and productivity elements will continue to be worked on outside of this initiative...

  • Linux 5.3 Kernel Yielding The Best Performance Yet For AMD EPYC "Rome" CPU Performance
    Among many different Linux/open-source benchmarks being worked on for the AMD EPYC "Rome" processors now that our initial launch benchmarks are out of the way are Linux distribution comparisons, checking out the BSD compatibility, and more. Some tests I wrapped up this weekend were seeing how recent Linux kernel releases perform on the AMD EPYC 7742 64-core / 128-thread processors...

  • System76 Unveils Their Firmware Manager Project For Graphically Updating Firmware
    While most major hardware vendors have been adopting LVFS+Fwupd for firmware updating on Linux, Linux PC vendor System76 has notably been absent from the party for a variety of reasons. Today they announced their new Firmware Manager project that bridges the gap between their lack of LVFS support and their own hosted firmware service...

  • Oracle Continues Working On eBPF Support For GCC 10
    Back in May we wrote about Oracle's initial plans for introducing an eBPF back-end to GCC 10 to allow this GNU compiler to target this general purpose in-kernel virtual machine. Up to this point LLVM Clang has been the focused compiler for eBPF but those days are numbered with Oracle on Friday pushing out the newest GCC patches...

  • Unigine 2.9 Further Enhances Its Stunning Visuals
    It's a pity there doesn't seem to be any new adoption of Unigine as a game engine, but this visually impressive platform does continue seeing much success in the area of industrial simulations, professional VR platforms, and related areas. With Unigine 2.9 this Linux-friendly graphics engine is even more stunning...

Engadget"Engadget RSS Feed"

  • The dream of flying taxis may not be too far off
    "Mark my words. A combination of airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile. But it will come," Henry Ford quipped in 1940. Our dreams of cars capable of taking flight at the whim of their driver have been around nearly as long as we've had cars themselves, or at least as long as we've endured heavy commute traffic. Yet the prospect of actual, commercially available flying automobiles has always seemed to remain just out of reach, only a few years from viability. But even as drones become commonplace, are we really any closer to an age of aeronautical automobiles than we were in Ford's day?

    What even is a flying car? Designs have run the gamut from the AVE Mizar (basically a Ford Pinto with wings, to VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) designs like the Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep. Even today, you've got roadable aircraft like the Terrafugia Transition, though these are quickly being pushed into the periphery in favor of VTOLs like the Bell Nexus being developed for Uber Elevate. That is, modern designs generally focus on serving as personal aircraft, rather than automobiles that can also fly.

    Sathish Muthukrishnan, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Honeywell Aerospace, points to advancements in computing as having enabled the recent bevy of development. "The ability to collect, store, process and compute data has improved over the last two decades," he told Engadget. "Everything is now connected so when you have the ability to collect data in a real-time basis, is almost pathbreaking to have these flying cars, because you're you have to be able to respond in real-time."

    More than 70 companies are currently developing their own personal flying vehicles, with varying degrees of progress. The EHang 184 quadcopter, which made its debut at CES 2016, has already completed a number of test flights but has yet to receive FAA approval to operate in the US while Volocopter's 18-fan aerial vehicle is set to begin trials in Singapore later this year. Lilium recently released a new video of its 5-passenger electric air taxi, though the vehicle won't be ready until 2025. NEC's flying taxi project is just getting off the ground and it won't enter production until 2026.

    No firm is putting more resources into getting its service off the ground than Uber. The ride hailing company is adamant that it will have a fleet of air taxis in operation by 2023, dubbed UberAir. Uber has already teamed with a number of aerospace companies including Boeing, Bell, Karem Aircraft, and Jaunt Air Mobility.

    "I think we can't underplay how much of an impact Uber has had actually creating a platform and pushing it," Mike Stewart, Honeywell Aerospace VP of Engineering, told Engadget. "I think that's generated a lot of buzz."

    The company debuted a prototype of its electric VTOL design from Bell at CES 2019 in January. These aircraft use four vertical fans for lift and a separate propeller for forward thrust. They'll be able to carry four passengers plus a pilot up to 60 miles on a single battery charge at speeds in excess of 150 MPH. These aircraft are likely to begin flight tests next year in the skies over Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne.

    Uber reps noted during the third Elevate Conference held in Tokyo last September that the vehicle's batteries will charge enough for short, in-city flights in just 8 minutes, enabling crews to top off the power in the time it takes for one group of passengers to disembark and another to load in at one of Uber's designated "Skyports," aka helipads. The company hopes to get that timing down to an even 5 minutes with future advances in battery chemistry. As for the price of a flight, Uber expects to charge around $6 per mile flown when the program first launches but hopes to get that figure down to around $2 a mile as the service scales.

    But if the goal of establishing a viable commercial air taxi service in the next 4 years -- especially from a company that lost $5.24 billion just last quarter and whose ground-based autonomous navigation systems have already killed one person -- seems a bit ambitious, that's because you're correct. This industry is still in its infancy and faces a slew of technical, regulatory and infrastructure challenges.

    Take automation for example. Conventional helicopters are relatively simple to control as the pilot has just two rotors to pay attention to. That difficulty multiplies once we start adding extra spinning bits. Quad-rotor designs like Bell's, much less the 18-rotor Volocoper, are simply too complex for one person to operate each fan individually and still be able to fly.

    "A pilot can't be in control of 8 or 10 different rotors and expect to maintain any degree of situational awareness," Brian German, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told Wired 2018. "So when you push on the stick in this system, everything that happens to point the aircraft in the desired direction is automated."

    AI still also lacks the common sense that passengers expect from pilots. "It's really hard for autonomous systems to understand different scenarios," German continued. "Maybe, for instance, you're flying an airplane and you see a forest fire out of the left window. A human pilot knows immediately that it's probably not a good idea to fly right over it. But how will an autonomous system know that?"

    And that's just one pilot operating one aircraft. For fleets of these vehicles to operate safely over urban areas, significant changes to our existing air control system will be needed. Luckily, Uber is already working with NASA on just such a solution. "[AI are] going to be needed in the big history of this," Stewart argued. "Maybe not in the short term, but definitely in the long term, they will come into play."

    Uber and its allies are also betting big on electric propulsion. "The current vision for these adopters is almost predominantly electrified, Stewart noted. "Very few of us are seeing hybrid electric now, dependent on the mission they have and the availability of infrastructure to get the electric charge necessary." However, we're still likely decades away from the necessary advancements in battery technology that will enable regional travel, much less transcontinental flights. "The range would have to get pretty big before these things become something that would affect an airline," Stewart said. "The airlines are moving masses of people a pretty big distance."

    He does however believe that the sorts of VTOL aircraft that Uber has in mind could eventually prove a boon to smaller regional airports like those in Burbank, California or Deer Valley, Arizona. Stewart points out that for a time, turboprop passenger planes were seen as a viable regional flight option. But after 9/11, "it drifted away because the models for security and everything just didn't make sense," he said.

    "I think as the vehicles and the battery technology and all that becomes better, we start to see that [business model] maybe come back," Stewart corollaried, "where you have a 20 passenger electric aircraft that only has to go 300 miles -- that starts to become a reality."

    It'll be quite some time before we're hopping on VTOLs for our LA-Vegas jaunts. In the meantime, Muthukrishnan is confident that we'll find plenty of use for these aircraft in the congested hearts of urban centers. "Think about the number of people that go from downtown Manhattan to Midtown or Uptown," he said. "In the black cars, during peak hours, it takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes," at a cost of anywhere from $75 to $200. "If you had short vertical takeoff and landing, you could do that for $50 in less than 10 minutes."

  • DOJ is working with states on antitrust investigations of tech companies
    The Justice Department's antitrust leader doesn't see big tech as inherently bad, but he's still content to investigate potential wrongdoing. Division chief Makan Delrahim told guests at a Colorado tech policy conference that the DOJ was working with state attorneys general on investigations of the market influence of tech companies. He added that he didn't think the laws had to change "at this time" to pursue any possible cases, arguing that current laws were "quite flexible" and allowed "timely and aggressive enforcement."

    The statement came weeks after the DOJ launched a sweeping review of competition in tech, and mere hours after Wall Street Journal sources claimed a group of states were pursuing a joint antitrust investigation of their own. It's not certain if these particular campaigns will be linked, but it wouldn't be surprising if there was cooperation.

    The DOJ's strategy is fairly clear, at least. Delrahim said his team was examining not just effects on pricing, but also innovation and quality. Officials will want to see if heavyweights like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are making it unnecessarily difficult for bolder rivals to get off the ground. Although there's no guarantee the DOJ will take action, the mere threat of it places tremendous pressure on the tech world to change its ways. There are already signs that companies like Apple are prepared to change their ways if they can escape legal trouble.

    Source: Reuters

  • Disney’s composer-focused podcast debuts this week
    This Friday, Disney Music Group will launch a podcast that delves into some of its most beloved scores and the people behind them. Disney's various enterprises: Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox. The series, hosted by journalist Jon Burlingame, will be available via various podcast platforms and smart speakers as well as YouTube.

    The first four episodes, all of which will drop at once, feature Alan Silvestri (several Marvel flicks, including teamed up with Spotify last month for a hub for Disney music on the streaming platform. Alongside the podcast, which will appear in that hub, Disney will debut a For Scores playlist that includes music from the featured composers.

    Source: Variety, Billboard

  • Watch Dan Aykroyd hype up the 'Ghostbusters' remaster for Switch
    When it was first announced earlier this year, it had seemed Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered was set to be a PlayStation 4 exclusive. In August, developer Saber Interactive said the game is also coming out on Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch. Today, the studio shared a first look at Nintendo Switch gameplay, with none other than Dan Aykroyd narrating the video.

    Ghostbusters: The Video Game was first released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2009. At the time, the game was praised for its adherence to its source material, thanks in large part to a script co-penned by Ghostbusters stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The two reprise their roles in Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered, as do co-stars Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson. The remaster got off the ground when a hard drive containing all the video files from the original game was found. Those cutscenes have been remastered in 4K for this re-release. You can also expect spruced up lighting and textures if you plan to play the game on the PS4, Xbox One or PC. On Switch, the appeal is that you'll be able to save Manhattan while riding the MTA.

    Whatever your system of choice, you'll be able to play Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered on October 4th, 2019; it'll set you back $30 Hopefully it'll help tide you over until Ghostbusters 2020 comes out next year.

    Source: Nintendo

  • Waymo is rain-testing its self-driving cars in Florida
    Waymo hopes its autonomous driving tech can withstand Florida's notorious rainy season. The company announced today that it will be rain testing a set of Chrysler Pacificas and a Jaguar I-Pace throughout the Sunshine State over the next several weeks.

    The aim will be to see how the vehicle's sensor suite -- which includes lidar, cameras and radar -- hold out during Florida's hurricane season. "Heavy rain can create a lot of noise for our sensors. Wet roads also may result in other road users behaving differently. Testing allows us to understand the unique driving conditions, and get a better handle on how rain affects our own vehicle movements, too," wrote Waymo in a blog post.

    Waymo will be testing the cars for several weeks in a closed course in Naples. Human drivers will then test the vehicles on public roads in Miami. The vehicles will then take to the highways between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers and Miami.

    The whims of Mother Nature pose an obstacle for all self-driving cars. A study from Michigan State University found that even light rain can confuse the algorithms that self-driving systems use to detect pedestrians and other road users. Self-driving vehicles still don't know how to adjust to slippery road conditions in the same ways that human drivers do, taking extra steps like braking well in advance. Bad weather isn't the only factor keeping self-driving cars from being ready for prime time. The Verge reported earlier this year that Waymo cars in Arizona are still confounded by crowded parking lots and unprotected left turns. Hopefully, more aggressive rounds of testing can help get these vehicles ready for the road.

    Source: Waymo

  • Netflix will peer inside Bill Gates' mind with a new docuseries
    An upcoming Netflix docuseries will offer some insight into Bill Gates's mind as he tries to solve some of the planet's biggest problems. The three-part series, Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates, "offers an unprecedented peek inside the mind of the celebrated tech visionary, business leader, and philanthropist," Netflix said. It includes interviews with Gates and his wife Melinda, as well as their loved ones and philanthropy and business partners.

    The documentary, from An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim, follows Gates' appearance in Netflix's focused on Melinda and the couple's work through their foundation, but we probably won't be seeing Gates trying weird sandwiches concocted by Letterman again in this series, which premieres September 20th.
    .@BillGates is trying to solve some of the world's most persistent problems and our new three-part documentary — "Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates" — offers an unprecedented peek inside the mind of the celebrated tech visionary, business leader, and philanthropist
    — See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) August 20, 2019
    Source: Netflix (Twitter)

  • The next 'Mario & Sonic Olympics' game has a retro 2D mode
    Over the past 12 years, Nintendo and Sega have faithfully published their mashup, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, to correspond with the iconic sporting event. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be a homecoming of sorts for the two mascots, who were both created in Japan. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Tokyo Games 2020 will also see them returning to their roots in 10 "Classic Events" that use 2D sprites and environments.

    Revealed during a Nintendo Presents livestream at Gamescom, the classic mode has the cast of the Mario and Sonic games compete in the 1964 Olympics, which were also held in Tokyo. The characters from Mario's team use sprites from 1985's Super Mario Bros., including Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser, while Sonic's team features sprites from 1992's Sonic the Hedgehog 2, such as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Eggman. The visual mismatch between 8- and 16-bit graphics might be jarring to some -- but for '80s babies, it will be a burst of nostalgia.

    The 2D minigames actually look fun and challenging. The long jump, for example, pauses as the player reaches the sand pit, with the player having to quickly select the angle of the jump. The 10 meter platform, which is a diving event, provides a variety of jumps the player can perform with increasingly difficult button combinations. Hitting the wrong button will cause the player to flail and belly flop into the pool.

    Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Tokyo Games 2020 will bring the Nintendo vs. Sega schoolyard debates of the early '90s to the Nintendo Switch on November 5th, 2019. In the meantime, Nintendo fans can tune into the Nintendo World Championship and Sega fans can look forward to M2's Sega Genesis Mini console.

    Source: YouTube

  • Lightning-compatible YubiKey 5Ci could secure your iPhone logins
    iPhone owners with a mind toward security have a new option for protecting their online accounts. On Tuesday, security key manufacturer Yubico announced the $70 YubiKey 5Ci, which the company says is the world's first Lightning port-compatible security key.

    At launch, the 5Ci supports a variety of popular password managers, including 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass and Bitwarden. It's also compatible with authentication services like Okta. In all those instances, you'll be able to plug in the 5Ci into your iPhone, launch the security app of your choice and log in to an online account without ever entering a password. And if you happen to use Brave instead of Safari for web browsing, the 5Ci removes the need to first open a password manager first in the case of some online services.

    The 5Ci also includes a USB-C port for when you need to log in through an Android device or computer. However, one limitation of the 5Ci is that it currently doesn't work with the 2018 iPad Pro. We've reached out to Yubikey to find the exact reason for this limitation, but we suspect it has something to do with restrictions iOS 12 places on USB-C connectivity. That could change when iOS 13 comes out this fall. The Yubikey 5Ci also doesn't work with any FIDO-compliant service or app out of the box. In a new policy of mandatory security keys.

    However, at $70 the 5Ci is one of the more expensive security keys out on the market. If you're looking for something more affordable, Yubico also offers the $45 YubiKey 5 NFC, which is similarly compatible with the iPhone. Another option is Google's $50 Titan security key, which has the advantage of also working through Bluetooth. And while a security key will help keep you as safe as possible, most people need to start with a simple password manager, as reused passwords are the single largest culprit behind hacked accounts. Once you have a password manager, a security key like the YubiKey 5Ci is a good next step if you want to further secure your online accounts.

    Via: The Verge

    Source: Yubico

  • Playing Marvel's Avengers, a living RPG with microtransactions
    When Engadget's UK Bureau Chief Mat Smith attended the first-ever gameplay demonstration of Marvel's Avengers at E3, he walked away worried. The level he saw was essentially a tutorial, introducing the basic mechanics of each Avenger. It was unclear how all of the characters -- Black Widow, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America -- would play together, and they each seemed to be overpowered in comparison to the minions that flooded their way on the Golden Gate Bridge. He said the game looked hollow, but he couldn't pinpoint exactly why.

    After playing that same section myself at Gamescom, I think I've cracked it: Marvel's Avengers feels hollow because it's basic.

    The demo takes roughly 20 minutes, broken into hero-specific chunks. It's set on the Golden Gate Bridge, which is under attack by a swarm of armed enemies, and littered with abandoned cars and fractured concrete. Each hero gets a chance to shine, solo, demonstrating their basic abilities and unique moves. Melee, jumping, ranged attacks and aerial smashes play the same way across all characters, though their ultimates differ. For instance, Hulk uses Thunderclap with two simultaneous button presses, while Iron Man revs up a giant chest laser with a single tap.

    Beyond the special moves, however, it's difficult to distinguish a unique play style for any of the Avengers. Hulk dodges bullets and projectiles with a double-tap just as seamlessly as Black Widow, even with his lumbering bulk, while Black Widow soaked up damage just as easily as Hulk, even with her fragile human frame.
    Basic attacks feel homogenous, no matter which superhero skin you're in.
    The high-action scenes are mostly quick-time events, with button prompts popping up as Iron Man flies across the wreckage or Hulk leaps across the ripped concrete. When Iron Man is barreling down the bridge, it looks like a high-stakes aerial chase where players have to navigate burning buses while firing lasers at flying enemies, but it's actually an on-the-rails shooter. The entire scene can be played with little thought and even less strategy, simply aiming and firing as Iron Man's suit flies on its own. There's a particular kind of disappointment in hearing frantic, action-movie music blaring behind scenes that are, essentially, interactive cinematics.

    Though each character's attacks are visualized differently -- Black Widow fires her pistol, while Captain America flings his shield, Thor throws Mjölnir and Iron Man unleashes laser bullets from his hands -- they require the same input. Basic attacks feel homogenous, no matter which superhero skin you're in.
    Square Enix

    In one scene, Black Widow leaps onto the back of Taskmaster, the big boss in this section, as he flies with a jetpack beside the bridge. He soars among the wreckage on an automatic flight path while players punch him with a string of single button presses, responding to a few QTEs as necessary. The scene is playable with one finger, and even though the attacks are different, it feels a lot like the scripted Iron Man section.

    Apparently, in the full game, players will be able to control Iron Man's flight path, hopefully enriching his aerial mechanics. Crystal Dynamics promises Marvel's Avengers overall grows a lot harder, larger and more diverse after the tutorial level, and of course it will. It would be difficult to build any game that's less intricate than its training mode. However, the only portion of the game that the studio has made public is the prologue; the only thing anyone has played is the tutorial. And, as a demonstration of a dense and diverse action game, it's weak.
    Avengers doesn't appear to be a mechanically tricky game.
    The developers aren't showing off scenes from deeper in the game because they want media and fans to understand how it plays first, according to senior brand director Rich Briggs. That's fair, though Avengers doesn't appear to be a mechanically tricky game. It's a straightforward third-person action experience with button mapping that carries across characters, things that most players wouldn't have trouble picking up on the fly. As it stands, there's no public footage of post-tutorial gameplay, and the prologue is still officially in pre-alpha. The game's May 15th, 2020 release date is coming in hot.

    After the demo, Briggs ran through a handful of details about the complete experience, including its two gameplay pillars: Hero Missions and Warzone Missions. Hero Missions comprise the single-player campaign, and they're character-specific, narrative-driven moments. Meanwhile, Warzone Missions are contained segments that can be played cooperatively and with any hero you've already unlocked. Finishing these missions unlocks gear, additional story content and other rewards. Progress is universal across both mission trees, and Crystal Dynamics has planned for years of updates post-launch.

    This is where the game's RPG elements enter the picture. Avengers features an upgrade system where players can equip items and add perks to individual pieces of gear. Each accessory varies in rarity, and the less common the equipment, the better its perks. The heroes have customizable skill trees as well, and there are plans to add dozens of skins from the Marvel vault for each character. Some of these outfits will be unlocked with progress, while others will only be available for purchase (though none of them will alter how a character actually plays). Otherwise, every fresh character drop and new region will be free for all players.

    Crystal Dynamics promises that all of these details will add up to a rich and varied action game worthy of the Marvel brand. However, everything the studio has shown off so far has been stale, derivative and disappointing. As it stands, Avengers is shaping up to be a functional action game. It's perfectly fine. However, in a world of superheroes, functional isn't enough.

    Images: Square Enix

  • Apple Music adds a Shazam-powered playlist to highlight new artists
    Until now, Apple hasn't visibly integrated Shazam much into its other services since buying the music discovery service last year. As of today, though, a Shazam-powered chart highlighting new artists will be available to stream on Apple Music.

    The Shazam Discovery Top 50 will showcase emerging artists in a weekly list spanning the globe. It'll be updated every Tuesday and the first edition highlights Ohana Bam, A$ton Wyld, Tones and I and Regard near the top. It tracks trending songs in the US and more than 10 other nations. Acts from other countries will be featured in the list in the near future.

    "The ranked songs are all at different points in their individual lifecycle and the majority of artists represented are emerging and up-and-coming," Apple told Variety. "All are experiencing a level of momentum indicative of future potential of hitting the top of Shazam's charts, and show any or all of the following patterns: moving quickly through Shazam's charts, growing rapidly, steadily and/or geographically."

    The company said it's tapping into "Shazam's proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view on rising artists and reacting tracks to Apple Music subscribers." People use Shazam more than 20 million times every day to identify songs, while the app's been downloaded more than a billion times. So, there should be plenty of data for Apple to work with.

    Playlists are a critical component of music discovery these days. It seems Apple may be trying to stand out from Spotify, which has its own massively popular Discover Weekly playlist, though it seems the Shazam Discovery Top 50 won't be personalized. Still, using Shazam data to offer some more unique playlists and charts could help Apple pull in more subscribers as it places an increasing focus on services. After all, who doesn't want to learn about an amazing new singer or band before the rest of their friends?

    Source: Variety

  • FIFA 20's Volta mode is good enough to be its own game
    There's a lot to Volta, FIFA 20's new street soccer mode. Rather than a one-off sideshow to the main game, it's actually multiple offline and online game styles and a full story campaign, rolled into a cohesive and enjoyable package.

    Off the bat, there are three main game styles, which will be familiar to anyone that's kicked a ball around with friends. You can play with rush keepers (a term for having no defined goalkeeper) in teams of three or four. This style has tiny goals and barely any rules apart from quick free kicks for blatant fouls. Then there's street with keepers, which uses larger futsal goals and dedicated keepers, but is similarly light on rules. The last style is futsal, which plays as you'd expect if you've ever watched it: Five-a-side with keepers, kick-ons and corners, on-the-fly substitutions, accumulated fouls leading to penalties and an actual referee who will dish out yellow and red cards. All of the modes ditch the stamina, fatigue and injury systems of the regular game.

    Within those game styles, though, is a variety of options. The biggest changes you can make are to the arena you're playing in: There are three pitch sizes to choose from, a variety of playing surfaces and the option to turn walls off or on. I didn't get to try all of the dozens of available combinations in my brief session, but I played enough to know that I'm going to love Volta.

    I had the most fun playing three-on-three rush keepers in the smaller, walled arenas. In a typical FIFA game, my flair level is more Burnley than Brazil, but within 20 minutes or so I was starting to get the hang of the subtleties of Volta. You can get some of the way with FIFA fundamentals -- tight passing, drawing players out of position, through balls and the like -- but as the difficulty ramps up, your priorities will start to shift. There's an emphasis on tight control, flair and using your environment to play your way into the opponent's goal.

    There are a lot of pre-programmed flair moves at your disposal, but I found myself more often using standard FIFA passing in new ways. For example, in one game my avatar was trapped in his own corner with a defender on his back, so I had him play a pass off the wall in front of him, turn the defender and grab the loose ball before playing a simple pass to his teammate, who then lobbed the ball forward, bouncing it off the wall above the goal for my avatar to tap into the net. This whole attack took five seconds or so, and resulted in one of the five goals I needed to win the match.

    In a typical game of FIFA, you have moments of brilliance where you leave an opponent for dead, earning something worth more in that moment than any goal. Volta is a constant string of those moments. It's faster and more fluid that FIFA Street ever was, and first-to-five matches can feasibly last less than a minute, although at world-class difficulty mine typically lasted three or four.

    As you'd expect, you can hop into a standard single- or multi-player Volta match from the menu, with your team composed of established players from the FIFA roster. There's also Volta Tour, in which you play against the computer controlling other real players' teams, and Volta League, which works a lot like Online Seasons in regular FIFA. The big draw, though, is Volta Story.

    Volta Story is, as the name suggests, a story mode that takes the place of The Journey trilogy, which ended with FIFA 19. Rather than giving you a prebuilt Alex-Hunter-style character, Volta lets you design your own avatar. You can pick from male and female gender options, and there are a bunch of customization options after that. The resulting characters won't look out of place standing next to the 3D-scanned Premier League or La Liga stars you'll find elsewhere in the game.

    The story begins with your avatar joining a street soccer crew, filled with what seem like fairly one-dimensional characters. Perhaps they'll be more fleshed out further down the line, but those I met can roughly be described as "friendly veteran," "inexplicably nasty villain," "clout chaser" and "stock background character." Either way, shortly after I met everyone, there was some contrived drama that resulted in most of them abandoning the crew, leaving my avatar and the clout chaser to go it alone in an upcoming tournament.

    The story mode covers all of the various game and pitch styles of Volta, and every match you compete in levels up your character's attributes. There's even an RPG-style skill tree, which has you working toward expertise in one area -- i.e., finishing or dribbling -- or becoming more of a generalist.

    After beating a team, you're able to recruit one of their players to your crew, and build out your squad in whatever direction you want. Over time, you'll be able to recruit actual street soccer stars to join you. Volta also borrows one of the more interesting mechanics of the wildly successful FIFA Ultimate Team -- chemistry between players -- and integrates that into squad building.

    Although the story didn't really go anywhere in the first hour -- the closest it got to saying anything basically boiled down to "sexism is bad" -- the nature of the street game does make the rivalries, trash talking and general drama feel more natural than it did in The Journey. The presentation is also fun and more dynamic than in vanilla FIFA. One nice flourish was seeing my celebratory wall flip rendered as vertical video on a spectator's phone, rather than just captured by broadcast-style cameras.

    Volta Story, then, is a blend of FIFA Street, The Journey and FUT. That's quite the balancing act, and I can't say how well EA has pulled it off after one brief session. Seeing the developers try something different with their historically incremental series, though, is refreshing.

    There's a bit of an ongoing joke with EA's long-running franchises, where the company always claims the latest iteration is "the best ever." This time that strikes true. With the expected tweaks to regular gameplay, the long-overdue career mode changes and this new street soccer mode, FIFA 20 feels like a huge upgrade over 19. In fact, if Volta had been presented to me as a standalone game, I'd probably be pre-ordering it now. As a "free" addition to the game I and so many others buy every year anyway, it's difficult to see fans not loving it.

  • An independent report on Facebook’s alleged liberal bias tells us nothing
    Conservatives have long lamented that Facebook has a liberal, or anti-conservative, bias. Since the 2016 election, the company has been grilled on the issue by the White House more than once. In an attempt to clear the air, Facebook enlisted an independent third-party to decide once and for all if it does indeed have an anti-conservative bias. Last year, it asked former Republican Senator Jon Kyl and his team at Covington & Burling LLP to conduct a review of the company's policies. The results are in, and for the most part, they tell us nothing.

    An interim report, released today, is the first we've seen of the findings. Since May 2018, the firm interviewed approximately 133 conservatives -- loosely defined as people of orthodox religious views, libertarians, pro-lifers, traditionalists, Republicans and/or free speech advocates. The document shared today does little more than list the ways those conservatives feel they've been discriminated against. It doesn't actually say whether those concerns are legitimate or not, making the information pretty useless.

    In a companion op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal, Kyl summarized the areas that give conservatives the most concern, including the fear that biases may be "baked in" to Facebook's algorithms. Others reportedly object to the "ever-evolving" definition of hate speech, which Facebook prohibits. "Conservatives consistently expressed the view that, while platform users should be protected from harm, no one has a right to not feel offended or to be immune from criticism," the report states. Some also fear Facebook has too many liberal employees, and there are objections to Facebook's ad policies.

    None of these concerns are new, and the interim report doesn't say whether there's any merit to them. The report does highlight some of the "changes" Facebook is apparently making, but much of this has already been announced. For example, it notes that Facebook plans to create an oversight board to hear content-removal appeals. Facebook shared those plans last fall.

    In his op-ed, Kyl says Covington & Burling LLP will continue to help Facebook understand conservative perspectives. "I believe Facebook understands it must do all it can to regain the trust of conservative users," Kyl wrote.

    Of course, Facebook isn't the only tech company accused of leaning left. Google and Twitter have faced similar accusations and met with Congress to discuss their alleged liberal bias. Each company has addressed those charges in their own ways. While this probably isn't the last we hear of this Facebook report, at this point, it doesn't tell us very much.

    Source: Facebook (1), (2), The Wall Street Journal

  • Technology alone won't make your kids smarter
    Ever plop your kids in front of some purportedly educational screen-based thing because you need 15 minutes of peace? Maybe, like me, you say to yourself, "It's 15 minutes. It's an educational app. It's not so bad. I just need to start dinner." There's nothing wrong with this, in theory. As a parent of two small children, I've learned lots of things. One thing that's helped: Kids love media.

    Apps. Shows. Games. You name it -- if it's screen-based, kids (and their parents) readily engage. There's a lot of media out there that claims to be "educational," a term I secretly think marketers use to make the likes of me feel less guilty when we JUST. NEED. 15 MINUTES. OF PEACE. (Or an hour. Sometimes we need an hour.)

    It's one thing to know and accept that you're buying yourself some time by sticking your kids in front of a screen so you can wrangle dinner. It's another thing entirely to tell yourself that the app, the game, or whatever is totally OK -- desirable even -- because it's educational.

    Over the past two years or so of watching my kids,albeit tight-leashed, interact with technology, I developed this theory that all this supposed educational stuff wasn't really making them smarter. It was entertaining them, sure. And kind of keeping them engaged when I needed a few minutes. And here and there they'd come out with some science fact fromDigital Promise, Dr. Joseph South,ISTE's chief learning officer, and Dr. Seeta Pai,WGBH's executive director of education.

    All three work on making quality tech accessible for teachers, parents and students while paying close attention to closing the digital-learning gap. They all had shockingly similar answers to my questions -- and offered great advice for parents, to boot.

    It depends
    So the answer to the big question of whether tech makes kids smarter is a resounding ... it depends.

    Hands down, everyone said something to this effect: Not all technology is created equally, and as parents (and educators)Common Sense Media. All three experts concurred, and Dr. Pai said it was the "most comprehensive, parent-friendly, research-based" resource out there.

    What's so great about it? You can check nearly any app, show or movie for your kid and get an instant sense of its purpose and design by checking the rating. You can gain a more in-depth sense of the media by reading the reviews. Dr. Pai also recommended a subscription-based resource called theChildren's Technology Review, which focused more on apps and games.

    Dr. South shared an idea that he practices with his 12-year-old. Any time his son wants to watch or play something new, he has to research and present to his father three credible reviews, why he wants to use it and why it's a good use of his time. Dr. South said it's been a great exercise for both of them in learning what's credible and having frank discussions about what they value as a family, and why.

    Dr. South said, "Parents need to develop a way to make these decisions. As parents, we don't always make great screen-time choices either." This exercise makes those choices more intentional.

    It's a strategy I'll practice with my kids when they're ready. At 5 and 7, they're not quite there.
    Office of Educational Technology
    Connecting to everyday life
    This stopped me in my tracks. Dr. Domínguez said, "Technology needs to connect to everyday lives. It should not be used to replace hands-on or social interaction."

    When I tap an app and park the kids in front of something for a few minutes, I'm replacing social interaction. And perhaps I've been kidding myself when I use educational media. I use it to entertain. I use it for babysitting sometimes. That "educational" label does what marketers want. It soothes my conscience.

    Is that OK?

    Not definitively, but don't worry too much. Dr. South said, "There's enough good stuff for a kid to do on a screen that you can feel good about." He added that it's OK to occasionally use a screen as a babysitter, saying, "I don't want parents to feel deep-seated guilt ... but the thing that you hand your kid on the screen matters a lot. Use it as a tool."

    Dr. Pai said that using tech as a babysitter is OK sometimes. "For the single parent working three jobs who comes home to make a home-cooked dinner, it's much better for that kid to sit in front of good TV or an app while dinner's cooking rather than get fast food or the drive-thru." Her point? It's better for the kid to have a home-cooked meal with a parent rather than fast food, and if mom needs a "babysitter" while she's cooking, so be it.

    There are always tradeoffs.

    Where does this leave us parents trying to raise smart-as-they-can-be kids in this technologically infused world?

    I asked Dr. Domínguez what she thought made kids smarter -- after all, she's done a ton of research on the subject -- and how technology fit into all of that.

    She said, "I really think that what makes kids smarter is the quality of the interactions they have with primary caregivers." She explained that adults listening and responding to children's' interests, the quality of the language we use with them, and how we pose questions engage their brains in positive ways.
    Johnny Greig via Getty Images

    Dr. South and Dr. Pai echoed similar sentiments. It's most important, they said, that you take a balanced approach, consider your values, and educate yourself to make the best decisions possible.

    And tech can play a role in that. That's one reason Dr. Domínguez is so excited about STEM. She said, "STEM invites children not only to learn facts but to ask questions. Where children can find ways to answer questions and solve problems -- those experiences allow children to develop skills in all kinds of areas."

    Maybe that math app isn't so bad for a few minutes! Maybe there's something to be gained from all those episodes of Nature Cat!

    So. Does tech make kids smarter? Not by itself. It's just a tool. What matters most is how it's used, why it's used and with whom kids use it. It's about ensuring your kids have intellectually stimulating experiences, not just throwing tech at them.

    And when you just need a few minutes? Make the best choice you can in the moment. And don't beat yourself up about it.

    Images: JNemchinova via Getty Images (Student with lightbulb); fizkes via Getty Images (Mother and daughter using laptop); grinvalds via Getty Images (Girl playing game on tablet); Office of Educational Technology (Technology used together graphic); Johnny Greig via Getty Images (Family using the internet together)

  • Mercedes-Benz likely to agree to California's tougher emissions rules
    Mercedes-Benz may be the next company to agree to California's voluntary emissions rules, pledged to meet California's standards and make their engines more efficient every year until 2026. The pact goes against the Trump administration's attempts to roll back Obama-era emissions reduction goals.

    While Mercedes-Benz has not confirmed its plans to join those automakers, it wouldn't be entirely surprising if the company did so. According to The New York Times, California and 13 other states plan to enforce their current, stricter emissions regulations. Those states may also sue the Trump administration. Rather than wait for the legal drama to unfold or navigate the discrepancies between state and federal emissions requirements, the automakers have voluntarily agreed to follow California's rules.

    A sixth automaker could join the pact soon, too. While The New York Times did not confirm which, it is believed either Toyota, Fiat Chrysler or GM will pledge to follow stricter emissions standards for at least the next four years. The six automakers would account for more than 40 percent of all cars sold in the US, and together, they could significantly weaken Trump's emissions standards rollbacks.

    Source: The New York Times

  • Canvas is a big-ass speaker stand for LG OLED TVs
    If you've picked up an OLED TV, you're left with two choices for high quality sound: A soundbar, or large speakers for a home theater setup. Canvas, a new project from a group of audio veterans, is something in between. It's a huge speaker that serves as a stand for LG's OLED TVs, giving you sound quality comparable to bigger Hi-Fi offerings, in a form factor that's still relatively compact. And based on a brief demo, it sounds incredible.

    At first, Canvas just seems like a large and colorful OLED stand. It sits flush against the TV, giving it a more seamless look than a separate soundbar. The faceplate is removable, allowing you to change up the colors to match your furniture. There's also a small nook inside the cabinet to hold a set-top box. You'll need a separate piece of furniture to hold the rest of your home theater devices, as you'd expect, though Canvas CEO Kim Neeper Rasmussen says the company is considering ways to mount consoles.

    Sonos, Canvas's obvious competitor, managed to deliver large-scale home theater sound with products like the PlayBar($680) and PlayBase ($700). But as great as those devices are, they're no match for bigger speakers that can deliver richer sound. Canvas is a 40 pound box with two six-inch SB Acoustics drivers handling the bass and mid-range, and another pair of SC acoustics tweeters. There's also a 4-channel 200-watt amp, with an impressive frequency response between 30 Hz and 20,000 Hz. Its large cabinet holds 30 liters of bass reflex, so you won't need to worry about adding a subwoofer for low-end oomph.

    Based on its specs alone, Canvas seems like two Hi-Fi towers that have been transformed into a TV stand. The reality isn't too far off. While listening to Tan Dun's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon score and Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain soundtrack via AirPlay on an Apple TV, Canvas sounded as crisp as my high-end home theater setup. I could feel the impact of every drum beat during the Crouching Tiger tracks, the low-end was punchy but not overly boom. Meanwhile, the chaotic supernova of sound in "Death is the Road to Awe" felt incredibly epic. That's a track where lesser speakers tend to lose detail as multiple instruments start competing for attention, but Canvas handled it like a champ at high volume without distortion. (It was so loud I felt bad for the other folks in that office.)

    I was also surprised by how well Canvas handled stereo separation. To accomplish that, Rasmussen says sought out the creator of the BACCH 3D audio filter, Princeton professor Edgar Choueiri. That technology was also used in Jawbone's Jambox speakers (it was known as "LiveAudio"), where it helped those small boxes deliver three-dimensional audio. While I wouldn't mistake Canvas for a full-fledged surround sound setup, its large sound field was impressive, especially during trailers for Gravity and Blade Runner 2049.

    As for connectivity, Canvas will connect to LG OLED TV's via HDMI-ARC or optical cable, and for wireless audio it'll support AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Tidal, Spotify Connect, Sonos Connect, DLNA and Bluetooth. There's also an analog connection that you can use for record players and other gear.

    Canvas's biggest issue right now is that it's only designed for LG's OLED B and C-series TVs from 2016 to 2019. It doesn't support the curved C-series 2016 model, or any of LG's higher-end OLED offerings. While you could conceivably attach any TV to it, you won't get the clean look you'd get with LG's OLEDs. At just 15-inches tall, Canvas might also sit a bit too low for most TV watchers. Rasmussen says the company is considering a wall mount accessory to help with that issue.

    I'll admit, Canvas is the sort of expensive product with niche appeal that I'd typically ignore. But it actually sounds and looks good enough to appeal to a decent chunk of LG OLED owners. And it wouldn't be that tough for the company to add support for other sets later.

    You can pre-order the 55-inch Canvas model today for $999, while the 65-inch model will run for $1,099. The company is launching a crowdfunding campaign in October to gauge interest and raise more funds. The final pricing will likely end up higher than those pre-order figures, but that's actually reasonable for the quality it delivers.

  • Microsoft's Chromium Edge browser is ready for beta testing
    After testing its next-generation Chromium Edge browser for several months, Microsoft announced that it's now ready for a slightly more stable beta release. Windows 10 and MacOS users can now snag the beta, which is more suited to regular users than the experimental Canary and Developer Edge builds. It'll be updated every six weeks, compared to the daily and weekly refreshes for the other releases.

    Still, you can expect to see all of the major features we've been expecting in the new Edge, including a dark mode, online tracking prevention, and of course, the speed boost from Chromium. The company says this will be the last test version of the browser before its official release -- unfortunately, we still don't know when that will be.

    "We're going to beta today since our browser bits are now hitting the criteria we're expecting: our data says the browse is reliable, compatible, has good battery life ... and is fast," said Joe Belfiore, CVP of Microsoft Windows Experiences, in an interview with Engadget. "It's ready for people to install and use as an 'everyday browser.' Beyond the data we also hear a bunch of people saying directly, 'this is so good, you guys should take it to beta... it's more stable than we would have expected from a dev or Canary.'"

    I've been testing the Canary Edge build since April, and I've found it to be a huge upgrade over the last version of Edge. It feels as zippy as Chrome, except with the addition of Microsoft's features. I haven't encountered many stability issues either, so I'm not too surprised why Microsoft is rolling out a beta release now. As for other features, you can also expect to see the Internet Explorer compatibility mode, which lets you view sites with the IE 11 engine within tabs, and you can also install plugins from the Edge Insider Add-Ons store and Google's Chrome Web Store.

    Collections, a feature I've been particularly looking forward to, is also heading to the new Edge Canary channel today. It'll let you save a window full of tabs and export them into a Word document with proper reference formatting, or as a list of links in a spreadsheet. If you often end up doing lots of research for school, or just need to compare a bunch of products, Collections could be a huge help.

    As I wrote during this year's Build conference, the new Chromium Edge is a clear sign that Microsoft is actually focusing more on what people want, instead of building products that only serve its purposes. The Edge browser was a noble attempt at moving away from Internet Explorer's legacy, but now that most of the web is built for Chrome, it simply makes sense for Microsoft to adopt Chromium. The real goal is obvious: Microsoft is hoping users will actually stick with the revamped Edge, instead of rushing to install Chrome whenever they get a new PC.

  • Google's lightweight Go search app is now available worldwide
    Google Go is an optimized version of search for emerging markets with some unique features, like the ability to read web pages out loud, which is handy not only for listening to articles on the go but is also invaluable for people with visual impairments. Originally it was only available in selected markets, but now it's available worldwide.

    The app is deigned to take up minimal space on your device, requiring just over 7MB. It also uses minimal bandwidth so it's handy if you're on a capped data plan or you're in an area with spotty 3G coverage. If your device goes offline, it can remember your search queries and will fetch your results once you're reconnected.

    Go is part of Google's push to make its products available to more people who have limited internet access, rolling out lightweight versions of its apps like Photos and YouTube. This is particularly important for developing markets like India or Indonesia.

    Go is now available in the Play Store for all Android devices running Lollipop (version 5) and above.

  • Facebook helps you control data shared from apps and websites
    Facebook has been particularly busy improving its approach to data, and that now includes how it handles data coming from elsewhere. The company has introduced an Off-Facebook Activity tool that helps you manage the data apps and sites send to the site. You can see just who's sending data to Facebook and disconnect both current and future info from your account. If you don't like that your shopping habits in an app lead to endless targeted ads, these controls could depersonalize your ads in a heartbeat.

    The internet giant believes this tool "could have some impact" on its ad business, but felt that it was "more important" to provide control over data.

    You'll likely have to wait a while longer to use this tool yourself. It's only rolling out to Ireland, South Korea and Spain, and other regions will see it in the "coming months" as Facebook gauges its reliability.

    As with some Facebook decisions, there are strong technical and legal incentives behind this privacy upgrade. Facebook has been accused of giving device and service partners too much access, and a code flaw allowed continued data access months after the company officially wound down its data integrations. This might mitigate future concerns by putting more power in the user's court -- you don't have to wait for Facebook to take action before cutting off a rogue app. And when Facebook is already paying for past privacy failures, it likely doesn't want to risk future penalties due to inaction.

    Source: Facebook Newsroom

  • B&H sale cuts up to $350 off Apple's 2019 iMacs
    B&H is running a sale that might be too good to pass up if you're in the market for an all-in-one desktop. The 9to5Toys team has noticed that the electronics store is offering sizeable discounts on Apple's 2019 iMacs, making a purchase decidedly easier to swallow. The largest discount is for a high-spec 27-inch 5K model with a 3.6GHz Core i9, 16GB of RAM, Radeon Pro Vega 48 graphics and a 1TB SSD -- it's selling for 'just' $3,299, or $350 off the usual sticker.

    That's not necessarily the sweet spot, of course. If you're just looking for the most affordable entry point for the 27-inch iMac, B&H has lopped $200 off the base model to bring it to $1,599. A number of other configs for the larger model have $200 discounts, too. You'll also find some meaningful sales for the 21.5-inch 4K systems, including $250 off a loaded model that sells for $1,749 with a 3.6GHz Core i5, 16GB of RAM, Radeon Pro 560X video and a 512GB SSD. Numerous other configurations have savings of $100 or more.

    Just be sure to steer clear of iMacs using only 5,400RPM hard drives. We found that storage slow in 2015, and it hasn't aged well with time. You'll want at least a Fusion Drive to ensure your storage keeps up with the rest of the system, and an SSD is preferable if you have the money to spend.

    Via: 9to5Toys

    Source: B&H

  • NVIDIA's latest GPU drivers pack a speed boost for 'Apex Legends'
    It's common for graphics card drivers to provide optimizations for games, but the improvements aren't often this conspicuous. NVIDIA has released a Gamescom Game Ready Driver that offers significant speedups for multiple games, most notably GeForce RTX Super cards, you can expect performance jumps between 15 to 23 percent at 1080p resolution -- that could make all the difference in such a frame rate-sensitive shooter. You'll also see a roughly 13 to 17 percent gain in Forza Horizon 4 at 1440p as well as milder improvements for Battlefield V, Strange Brigade and World War Z.

    NVIDIA is quick to acknowledge that the benefits aren't quite as dramatic at higher resolutions (where you run into bottlenecks), but you should still see improvements at 4K. Keep in mind that the company is also using its latest graphics tech mated to a recent Core i9 processor -- you might not see such dramatic results if your system is more modest.

    There are, however, some improvements that are more universal. There's now a beta Ultra-Low Latency mode for DirectX 9 and DirectX 11 games that only submits image frames just in time for rendering, delivering high responsiveness without forcing you to lower graphics settings or buy new hardware. You'll see the most benefit in GPU-dependent games where frame rates are between 60FPS to 100FPS, but it could be vital for any reflex-sensitive titles.

    Other tweaks? There's now sharper integer-based graphics scaling for classic 2D and pixel art games (think emulators or retro-looking titles like Hotline Miami) if you have an RTX or GTX 16-series card. There's also a new Freestyle filter, Sharpen, that's both more effective than the current Detail filter and half as demanding on your GPU. This latest driver also brings 30-bit color support to all of NVIDIA's hardware lineup, support for the newest G-Sync monitors and optimized settings for more games, including The Verge

    Source: NVIDIA

  • The latest 'Fortnite' weapon lets you drop heavy stuff on opponents’ heads
    Epic has another way to battle Fortnite's hated newcomer, giant mechs. Sure, the two-player B.R.U.T.E. mechs have 1,000 health, can travel hundreds of in-game meters in a few seconds and can blast you with rockets or stomp on you. But now, regular players can strike back by dropping something heavy -- like a dinosaur -- on giant mechs and other opponents.

    Today, Epic revealed a new Fortnite weapon: junk rift. It's a throwable item that breaks on contact and spawns a large object in the sky that plummets to the ground. A trailer shows the junk rift landing on a giant mech and an equally giant dinosaur falling from the sky. A direct hit causes 200 damage, and the shockwave that strikes the immediate surrounding packs 100 damage. A direct hit will knock players back slightly, and both the direct hit and shockwave will destroy vehicles and destructible objects on impact. The trailer shows the junk rift completely taking out a B.R.U.T.E.

    The junk rift is available in the v10.10 content update, and you'll find it in floor loot, chests, supply drops and llamas, though it's an Epic Rarity.

    Epic has taken a lot of heat since Season X came out. Players were frustrated and angry about the powerful B.R.U.T.E. mechs, even after Epic toned them down and offered an explanation -- the company wanted to help more players win. The junk rift could bring some fun back to the game, and it could help players strike back against the mechs.

    Source: Epic Games

  • ThinkPad X1 Carbon review (2019): Sometimes it’s good to be boring

    The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is one of the most established laptops around, and this year's model marks the 7th iteration of the series. Just like every one before it, this X1 Carbon is thinner and lighter than ever. What else is new? Well, there's a brighter UHD display with HDR400 support, a better sound system, more far-field microphones, plus the usual processor and performance upgrades. Oh, and there's an optional carbon fiber weave pattern for those bored with a plain black lid.

    But these are pretty incremental updates. With stiff competition from rivals like Dell and HP, as well as newer players like Microsoft and Huawei, are these minor tweaks enough to maintain the X1's reputation as one of the best laptops around?
    Every time I pick up an X1 Carbon, I'm impressed. The 14-inch laptop may have a no-nonsense, business-only aesthetic, but it feels more luxurious than its exterior lets on. This year, Lenovo added a carbon-fiber weave to the lid to update the X1's look a little, and I appreciate the effort to keep things fresh. Though, you can only get it on the UHD model. Formula One fans might like it, since I hear this McLaren-inspired style is all the rage. (I'm looking at you, OnePlus.)

    More important than the appearance is the material that inspired it. This year's X1 laptop, like its recent predecessors, has an extremely light carbon fiber chassis covered in a gorgeous but somewhat sensitive soft-touch coating. It's sturdy enough to absorb a fall from your arms, but I've had this laptop for just under a week and it already looks a little scuffed up from general use.

    Those who have a ton of peripherals will appreciate the X1's generous array of connectivity options, which include two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, an HDMI socket, two USB-A jacks and an Ethernet extension. That's much more than you'll find on the likes of the Huawei MateBook 14 and Surface Laptop 2, which doesn't even offer USB-C power charging.
    Keyboard and trackpad
    ThinkPads consistently have great keyboards and the X1 Carbon once again gets it right. Mostly, anyway. I love the deep travel and comfortable keys, and typing on a ThinkPad feels like a luxury compared to the merely decent experience on the Laptop 2 and MateBook 14. But I have an issue with some of the button placements on the X1 Carbon. In particular, I hate where the left Control button sits. Instead of being the leftmost button on the bottom row, it's actually the second last, and a Function key sits on the end.

    That might make perfect sense if you're coming over from a MacBook, but as a PC person I'm used to the arrangement being the other way around, and it really messed up my flow when using keyboard shortcuts. It's frustrating to think you're hitting Control Z or Control C and V, only to realize your action wasn't undone or your text wasn't copied because you'd pressed Function instead. This isn't a dealbreaker, but it's annoying.

    I also wish the Page up and Down buttons were a little higher or bigger. Where they sit above the left and right arrow keys right now makes them too easy to hit when I'm trying to jump between words instead of scrolling up or down.

    As usual on a ThinkPad, there's a red pointing stick sitting in the middle of the keyboard. It's nice to have if you're a fan, but easy enough to ignore. You'll prefer using the trackpad instead, which is smooth and responsive, although I wish it were slightly roomier. Next to the trackpad below the keyboard sits a fingerprint sensor, for quickly logging in.

    Webcam and display
    You'll want to set up the fingerprint sensor, since the Windows Hello-enabled webcam above the display doesn't work very well. In my testing, the system failed to recognize me about 30 percent of the time. It tended to struggle in situations that were backlit, but sometimes it had trouble finding me even if I was sitting just an arm's length away. I don't have as much of an issue with Windows Hello on a Surface Laptop 2, which might be due to its better camera.

    Windows Hello also isn't ideal if you're privacy conscious and keep your webcam covered. Though, I've got to give Lenovo credit for making it easy to cover and uncover the camera with a built-in shutter. All you've got to do is slide a lever above the screen.

    Speaking of, I have a small complaint about the display. When using the keyboard buttons to toggle brightness, the increase between each step up is uneven. From levels 1 to 9, the screen gets gradually brighter by about the same amount each time. But from 9 to the maximum 10, the jump is huge and almost blinding. Lenovo told me this is normal for the X1. It might not be a huge issue, but I was confused why the screen was so dim until I pushed brightness to the 500-nit maximum, and the lack of a more nuanced middle ground between the last two options felt limiting. You can get a more specific level of brightness by using the onscreen slider in Settings.

    Other than that gripe, I generally enjoyed using the X1 Carbon to watch Netflix or YouTube videos. Details were always crisp and colors vibrant, if a little on the pink side. Audio was a little disappointing though -- despite packing a new quad-speaker Dolby Atmos system, the X1 Carbon's sound was slightly hollow. This has been a problem for the X1 series since day one.
    Performance and battery life
    So far, the X1 Carbon and its 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processor have managed to handle my daily workload without a hiccup. More taxing tasks, like editing photos or spreadsheets, went smoothly. But, and don't tell my boss I did this at work, playing Overcooked was a real challenge and I saw significant lag on the UHD model I was using. I switched to full HD in the game and it played slightly smoother, but I still don't think the integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics here can really handle gaming.

    Battery life
    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2019, UHD) 7:02 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2019, FHD) 14:15 Surface Laptop 2 15:57 Dell XPS 13 (2019) 12:30 Apple MacBook Pro (2019, 13-inch) 11:30
    The X1 Carbon almost got me through a work day without needing a charge. I unplugged my UHD model at noon and it wasn't until about 7pm that I got a low battery warning. On our battery test, the lower-res Full HD X1 Carbon lasted 14 hours, which is twice as long as the 7 hours clocked by my UHD version on the same test. The higher-res model also has a brighter screen, which might have caused more drain.
    Despite a smattering of small complaints, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is still a strong business laptop that will appeal to its diehard fans. The build quality, keyboard performance and battery life are all great, at least if you don't mind passing on the UHD screen. For its $1,200 starting price though, the X1 Carbon has serious competition from the likes of the Surface Laptop 2 and Huawei Matebook 14. But Lenovo's appealing keyboard alone may just keep its fans coming back for more.
    Product specs
    Up to Intel 8th-generation Core i5 and i7 Intel UHD 620 graphics

    14-inch LCD 1,920 x 1,080 (400 nit); 3,840 x 2,160 VESA400 HDR with Dolby Vision (500 nit)

    Up to 16GB RAM Up to 1TB NVMe

    2 x USB 3.0 Type-A 2 x Thunderbolt 3, Type-C 1 x Ethernet extension 1 x HDMI 1 x Microphone/headphone combo jack

  • Facebook will use humans to curate its News Tab
    When Facebook trots out its News Tab, it won't just rely on algorithms to decide what you see. The social network has revealed that a "small team of journalists" (yes, real humans) will help curate the dedicated section, with job listings going live on August 20th. While algorithms will rank most stories, the journalists will be far faster at highlighting the most relevant stories -- it would take a long time to train an algorithmic system to deliver similar customization.

    The move could raise eyebrows among those accusing Facebook of political bias. What's to stop humans from favoring certain ideologies over others? The internet giant has also been accused of algorithmic bias, though, and this theoretically avoids that issue while reducing the chances of outlets gaming the system.

    You won't see a test version of News Tab until sometime later in 2019. When it arrives, though, it'll join an already growing trend. Apple News already relies on journalists to pick relevant articles, while LinkedIn has its own editorial team. It's just that Facebook's use will be more conspicuous given its gigantic user base, and it'll represent a further acknowledgment that algorithms have their limits.

    Source: New York Times

  • Nearby nuclear sensors went silent after Russia's mystery explosion
    Earlier this month, a rocket test explosion in Russia resulted in the deaths of five people and a radiation leak that affected nearby towns. Now, the operator of a global network of radioactive particle sensors says that sites closest to the explosion mysteriously went offline shortly afterwards.

    The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)'s international monitoring stations detect levels of radionuclide particles in the air. The network is global and its stations send data back to its headquarters in Vienna, but each station is directly operated by the country in which they are located. According to the CTBTO, two stations near the explosion -- Dubna and Kirov -- stopped transmitting data on August 10th, two days after the blast. Two further stations, Bilibino and Zalesovo, did the same on August 13th.

    It's not clear why the stations have gone offline. According to a CTBTO spokesperson, "We're awaiting further reports on when the stations and/or the communication system will be restored to full functionality." The stations' proximity to the explosion -- which itself has not yet been fully explained -- has fuelled suspicions of Russia tampering. However, speaking to Reuters, Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-Proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute in California, said that, "There is no point in what Russia seems to have tried to do. The network of international sensors is too dense for one country withholding data to hide an event."

    Source: Reuters

  • Apple Card launch expands to all US iPhone users
    Apple has announced its Apple Card is available to everyone in the US starting today, expanding on the limited launch earlier this month. If you didn't see the Apple Card? It's a no-fee card, with cashback deals connected to Apple purchases (3 percent) as well as 2 percent returns on any other purchase made with Apple Pay and 1 percent back on purchase made on that rather appealing physical card. The physical credit card will arrive later, but once you're approved for Apple Card, you'll be able to start using it immediately.

    Source: Apple


  • IBM open sources Power chip instruction set
    It has been a long time coming, and it might have been better if this had been done a decade ago. But with a big injection of open source spirit from its acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is finally taking the next step and open sourcing the instruction set architecture of its Power family of processors. Opening up architectures that have fallen out of favour seems to be all the rage these days. Good news, of course, but a tad late.

  • The STC Executel 3910
    Standard Telephone 8 Cable made quite a few phones for British Telecom in the 70s/80s that most people will recognise instantly even though they didnt actually know who made them. Probably like me they thought that BT made all their own stuff which I later found out was completely wrong but hey. In the early 80s they branched out into computerised telephones with this lovely looking beast, the Executel 3910. Fellow collector Tony brought this one to my attention and on seeing the pictures I said what the hells is THAT! and bought it. Its a desk phone, pure and simple, but massively computerised with an AMD8085 processor and 32K RAM plus a 5C monitor for displaying diary and phonebook entries AND, and its a big AND, PRESTEL access! A recent video by Techmoan  who bought a working model  brought this device to my attention, and I instantly fell in love with it. This is an incredible piece of engineering and forward-thinking.

  • Dirty tricks 6502 programmers use
    This post recaps some of the C64 coding tricks used in my little Commodore 64 coding competition. The competition rules were simple: make a C64 executable (PRG) that draws two lines to form the below image. The objective was to do this in as few bytes as possible. These people are wizards.

  • I miss Microsoft Encarta
    Most folks at Microsoft dont realize that Encarta exists and is used TODAY all over the developing world on disconnected or occasionally connected computers. (Perhaps Microsoft could make the final version of Encarta available for a free final download so that we might avoid downloading illegal or malware infested versions?) What are your fond memories of Encarta? If youre not of the Encarta generation, whats your impression of it? Had you heard or thought of it? I have vague memories of using Encarta back in the early 90s, but I was much more interested in technology and games as a young kid. These days I tend to read a lot of Wikipedia pages every day, so had I been my current age 25 years ago, I can definitely see myself using Encarta a lot. In any event, definitely neat that the final version of Encarta  from 2009  runs just fine on Windows 10.

  • Huaweis Kirin 990 chipset will finally support 4K video capture at 60fps
    With Huaweis P20 Pro last year and this years P30 Pro, the company pulled off some incredible camera innovations, at least in the photo department. In terms of recording video, it hasnt done as much. Part of the reason for this is because the Kirin 970 and Kirin 980 chipsets dont support recording video at 4K 60fps, a feature that youd expect from such camera-centric smartphones. Luckily, thats about to change with the next generation. While I was in Shenzhen for the past week, Huawei confirmed that the Kirin 990 will indeed support recording video at 4K 60fps. Starting with the Mate 30 series, youll no longer have to choose between a high resolution and a high frame rate. Its incredible how fast Chinese companies manage to improve. If you ever wonder why the United States government is trying to hit Huawei so hard, its because of things like this. Aside from the possibly valid spying concerns, Huawei is simply also a major competitor to Silicon Valley, and this is a great way for American corporations/government to strike back. There arent many companies who can make every part of a device. Huawei is one of them.

  • Cool, but obscure X11 tools
    A small collection of cool Unix tools for the X Window System. For cool terminal tools, see Kristof Kovacs’ list. All applications have been tested on FreeBSD but should run on other Unix-like operating systems as well.

  • The SuperH-3, part 1: introduction
    Windows CE supported the Hitachi SuperH-3 and SuperH-4 processors. These were commonly abbreviated SH-3 and SH-4, or just SH3 and SH4, and the architecture series was known as SHx. I’ll cover the SH-3 processor in this series, with some nods to the SH-4 as they arise. But the only binaries I have available for reverse-engineering are SH-3 binaries, so that’s where my focus will be. Another architecture series by Raymond Chen, diving into some deep details about the SHx architecture.

  • Understanding modern UEFI-based platform boot
    To many, the (UEFI-based) boot process is like voodoo; interesting in that its something that most of us use extensively but is  in a technical-understanding sense  generally avoided by all but those that work in this space. In this article, I hope to present a technical overview of how modern PCs boot using UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). I wont be mentioning every detail  honestly my knowledge in this space isnt fully comprehensive (and hence the impetus for this article-as-a-primer). A rather detailed overview of the UEFI boot process.

  • Visible Lisp Computer
    The Visible Lisp Computer is a Lisp interpreter that displays the contents of the Lisp workspace on an OLED display, so you can see program execution and garbage collection in real time. Its a special version of my uLisp interpreter for ARM boards, designed to run on an Adafruit ItsyBitsy M0, or an ATSAMD21E on a prototyping board, interfaced to an I2C OLED display. If I knew what any of this meant, youd find a few words about this here. Sadly, I dont know what any of this means.

  • Apple explains why iPhones now show an ominous warning after ‘unauthorized’ battery replacements
    Responding to criticism that its trying to steer consumers toward more expensive battery replacements, Apple today claimed that the “important battery message” added to iOS is there in the name of customer safety. It was recently discovered that when an iPhone’s battery is swapped out by a third-party repair shop that isnt one of Apples authorized partners, the device’s battery health menu will show an ominous warning about being “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine iPhone battery.” This can happen even if a genuine Apple battery is used; the warning stems from a micro-controller that only authorized technicians can properly configure. If iOS doesn’t detect the right micro-controller, it hides the usual battery health stats and displays the warning. Apple is fighting the right to repair movement and associated proposed laws tooth and nail, and this is just another salvo in the war the company is waging on its own customers.

  • What does Windows check for a solution! actually do?
    When Windows tries to “check for a solution” after a program crashes, what is it actually doing and why does it never seem to work? Weve all seen the dialog, but what actually happens? Mark Phaedrus, developer at Microsoft, gives the answer.

  • Xfce 4.14 released
    In this 4.14 cycle the main goal was to port all core components to Gtk3 (over Gtk2) and GDBus (over D-Bus GLib). Most components also received GObject Introspection support. Along the way we ended up polishing our user experience, introducing quite a few new features and improvements (read below) and fixings a boatload of bugs (read changelog). A lot of focus seems to have been on HiDPI support, which, in 2019, is probably a good thing. Multimonitor support received quite a bit of love, too, as did other display-related things like colour profiles, display scaling, and so on. Thats just a selection though, so be sure to read through all the changes.

  • Commodores forgotten UNIX workstation
    Commodore built this prototype UNIX workstation/server computer in the same time frame as the Amiga and their PC-Clone and then decided that they only had production capacity for two out of three, and the CBM900 lost. All the approx 300-500 prototypes were recalled for destruction, but due to some kind of mistake! this particular machine, which was on loan to a favored customer in Denmark, never made it back. The machine resurfaced when this company cleaned up their basement, and sent 3 euro-pallets of Commodore artifacts our way. I never knew Commodore tried to build a UNIX workstation. I shouldnt be surprised though; virtually everyone dabbled in UNIX workstations in the 80s. This page has more information about the CBM900.

  • “Blast processing” in 2019: how an SNES emulator solved overclocking
    Kyle Orland at Ars: When it comes to emulator design, theres something to be said for trying to capture the workings of the original system as accurately as possible, warts and all. But theres also something to the idea that emulators can improve on the original hardware, smoothing problems like frame rate slowdown that plagued the underpowered processors of the day. That brings us to the latest update for storied, accuracy-obsessed SNES emulator bsnes, which adds the ability to overclock the virtual SNES processor. While bsnes is far from the first SNES emulator to allow for simulated overclocking, it does seem to be the first that does so without any framerate or pitch distortion, and without harming compatibility in 99% of games,! as bsnes programmer byuu puts it.

  • The alert hammer
    Apple started adding user consent alerts way back in High Sierra. The first time an app would try to access your location, contacts, calendar, reminders or photos a system alert would prompt the user for consent. Mojave expanded these prompts to automation, camera and microphone. And now Catalina adds screen recording, keyboard input monitoring, access to folders such as Desktop, Documents and Downloads, user notifications and Safari downloads… These alerts are just another step on a long path Apple has been taking to protect user’s data. Previous steps include code signing, sandbox, gatekeeper, the “curated” Mac App Store and notarization. But security features are most useful when they’re invisible. All previous steps were mostly invisible. This last one… Not so much. Theres a lot of complaining going around in Apple circles regarding the latest Catalina betas and the excessive amount of permission alerts and associated user access problems. On his latest podcast, for instance, John Gruber detailed how it took him ages to figure out why the Terminal wouldnt show him any directory listings, until he realised the Terminal needed disk access permission, but didnt ask for it. This is, of course, all quite reminiscent of Windows Vista, and the goal here seems to be to turn macOS into iOS, with similarly harsh restrictions on what users can do on their computers.

Linux Journal - The Original Magazine of the Linux Community

  • Linux Journal Ceases Publication: An Awkward Goodbye
    by Kyle Rankin    IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM LINUX JOURNAL, LLC: On August 7, 2019, Linux Journal shut its doors for good. All staff were laid off and the company is left with no operating funds to continue in any capacity. The website will continue to stay up for the next few weeks, hopefully longer for archival purposes if we can make it happen.  –Linux Journal, LLC

    Final Letter from the Editor: The Awkward Goodbye

    by Kyle Rankin

    Have you ever met up with a friend at a restaurant for dinner, then after dinner you both step out to the street and say a proper goodbye, only when you leave, you find out that you both are walking in the same direction? So now, you get to walk together awkwardly until the true point where you part, and then you have another, second goodbye, that's much more awkward.

    That's basically this post. 

    So, it was almost two years ago that I first said goodbye to Linux Journal and the Linux Journal community in my post "So Long and Thanks for All the Bash". That post was a proper goodbye. For starters, it had a catchy title with a pun. The post itself had all the elements of a proper goodbye: part retrospective, part "Thank You" to the Linux Journal team and the community, and OK, yes, it was also part rant. I recommend you read (or re-read) that post, because it captures my feelings about losing Linux Journal way better than I can muster here on our awkward second goodbye. 

    Of course, not long after I wrote that post, we found out that Linux Journal wasn't dead after all! We all actually had more time together and got to work fixing everything that had caused us to die in the first place. A lot of our analysis of what went wrong and what we intended to change was captured in my article Go to Full Article          

  • Oops! Debugging Kernel Panics
    by Petros Koutoupis   
    A look into what causes kernel panics and some utilities to help gain more information.

    Working in a Linux environment, how often have you seen a kernel panic? When it happens, your system is left in a crippled state until you reboot it completely. And, even after you get your system back into a functional state, you're still left with the question: why? You may have no idea what happened or why it happened. Those questions can be answered though, and the following guide will help you root out the cause of some of the conditions that led to the original crash.

    Figure 1. A Typical Kernel Panic

    Let's start by looking at a set of utilities known as kexec and kdump. kexec allows you to boot into another kernel from an existing (and running) kernel, and kdump is a kexec-based crash-dumping mechanism for Linux.
     Installing the Required Packages
    First and foremost, your kernel should have the following components statically built in to its image:
    You can find this in /boot/config-`uname -r`.

    Make sure that your operating system is up to date with the latest-and-greatest package versions:
      $ sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade  
    Install the following packages (I'm currently using Debian, but the same should and will apply to Ubuntu):
      $ sudo apt install gcc make binutils linux-headers-`uname -r`  ↪kdump-tools crash `uname -r`-dbg  
    Note: Package names may vary across distributions.

    During the installation, you will be prompted with questions to enable kexec to handle reboots (answer whatever you'd like, but I answered "no"; see Figure 2).

    Figure 2. kexec Configuration Menu

    And to enable kdump to run and load at system boot, answer "yes" (Figure 3).

    Figure 3. kdump Configuration Menu
     Configuring kdump
    Open the /etc/default/kdump-tools file, and at the very top, you should see the following:
        Go to Full Article          

  • Loadsharers: Funding the Load-Bearing Internet Person
    by Eric S. Raymond   
    The internet has a sustainability problem. Many of its critical services depend on the dedication of unpaid volunteers, because they can't be monetized and thus don't have any revenue stream for the maintainers to live on. I'm talking about services like DNS, time synchronization, crypto libraries—software without which the net and the browser you're using couldn't function.

    These volunteer maintainers are the Load-Bearing Internet People (LBIP). Underfunding them is a problem, because underfunded critical services tend to have gaps and holes that could have been fixed if there were more full-time attention on them. As our civilization becomes increasingly dependent on this software infrastructure, that attention shortfall could lead to disastrous outages.

    I've been worrying about this problem since 2012, when I watched a hacker I know wreck his health while working on a critical infrastructure problem nobody else understood at the time. Billions of dollars in e-commerce hung on getting the particular software problem he had spotted solved, but because it masqueraded as network undercapacity, he had a lot of trouble getting even technically-savvy people to understand where the problem was. He solved it, but unable to afford medical insurance and literally living in a tent, he eventually went blind in one eye and is now prone to depressive spells.

    More recently, I damaged my ankle and discovered that although there is such a thing as minor surgery on the medical level, there is no such thing as "minor surgery" on the financial level. I was looking—still am looking—at a serious prospect of either having my life savings wiped out or having to leave all 52 of the open-source projects I'm responsible for in the lurch as I scrambled for a full-time job. Projects at risk include the likes of GIFLIB, GPSD and NTPsec.

    That refocused my mind on the LBIP problem. There aren't many Load-Bearing Internet People—probably on the close order of 1,000 worldwide—but they're a systemic vulnerability made inevitable by the existence of common software and internet services that can't be metered. And, burning them out is a serious problem. Even under the most cold-blooded assessment, civilization needs the mean service life of an LBIP to be long enough to train and acculturate a replacement.

    (If that made you wonder—yes, in fact, I am training an apprentice. Different problem for a different article.)

    Alas, traditional centralized funding models have failed the LBIPs. There are a few reasons for this:
        Go to Full Article          

  • Documenting Proper Git Usage
    by Zack Brown   
    Jonathan Corbet wrote a document for inclusion in the kernel tree, describing best practices for merging and rebasing git-based kernel repositories. As he put it, it represented workflows that were actually in current use, and it was a living document that hopefully would be added to and corrected over time.

    The inspiration for the document came from noticing how frequently Linus Torvalds was unhappy with how other people—typically subsystem maintainers—handled their git trees.

    It's interesting to note that before Linus wrote the git tool, branching and merging was virtually unheard of in the Open Source world. In CVS, it was a nightmare horror of leechcraft and broken magic. Other tools were not much better. One of the primary motivations behind git—aside from blazing speed—was, in fact, to make branching and merging trivial operations—and so they have become.

    One of the offshoots of branching and merging, Jonathan wrote, was rebasing—altering the patch history of a local repository. The benefits of rebasing are fantastic. They can make a repository history cleaner and clearer, which in turn can make it easier to track down the patches that introduced a given bug. So rebasing has a direct value to the development process.

    On the other hand, used poorly, rebasing can make a big mess. For example, suppose you rebase a repository that has already been merged with another, and then merge them again—insane soul death.

    So Jonathan explained some good rules of thumb. Never rebase a repository that's already been shared. Never rebase patches that come from someone else's repository. And in general, simply never rebase—unless there's a genuine reason.

    Since rebasing changes the history of patches, it relies on a new "base" version, from which the later patches diverge. Jonathan recommended choosing a base version that was generally thought to be more stable rather than less—a new version or a release candidate, for example, rather than just an arbitrary patch during regular development.

    Jonathan also recommended, for any rebase, treating all the rebased patches as new code, and testing them thoroughly, even if they had been tested already prior to the rebase.

    "If", he said, "rebasing is limited to private trees, commits are based on a well-known starting point, and they are well tested, the potential for trouble is low."

    Moving on to merging, Jonathan pointed out that nearly 9% of all kernel commits were merges. There were more than 1,000 merge requests in the 5.1 development cycle alone.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Understanding Python's asyncio
    by Reuven M. Lerner   
    How to get started using Python's asyncio.

    Earlier this year, I attended PyCon, the international Python conference. One topic, presented at numerous talks and discussed informally in the hallway, was the state of threading in Python—which is, in a nutshell, neither ideal nor as terrible as some critics would argue.

    A related topic that came up repeatedly was that of "asyncio", a relatively new approach to concurrency in Python. Not only were there formal presentations and informal discussions about asyncio, but a number of people also asked me about courses on the subject.

    I must admit, I was a bit surprised by all the interest. After all, asyncio isn't a new addition to Python; it's been around for a few years. And, it doesn't solve all of the problems associated with threads. Plus, it can be confusing for many people to get started with it.

    And yet, there's no denying that after a number of years when people ignored asyncio, it's starting to gain steam. I'm sure part of the reason is that asyncio has matured and improved over time, thanks in no small part to much dedicated work by countless developers. But, it's also because asyncio is an increasingly good and useful choice for certain types of tasks—particularly tasks that work across networks.

    So with this article, I'm kicking off a series on asyncio—what it is, how to use it, where it's appropriate, and how you can and should (and also can't and shouldn't) incorporate it into your own work.
     What Is asyncio?
    Everyone's grown used to computers being able to do more than one thing at a time—well, sort of. Although it might seem as though computers are doing more than one thing at a time, they're actually switching, very quickly, across different tasks. For example, when you ssh in to a Linux server, it might seem as though it's only executing your commands. But in actuality, you're getting a small "time slice" from the CPU, with the rest going to other tasks on the computer, such as the systems that handle networking, security and various protocols. Indeed, if you're using SSH to connect to such a server, some of those time slices are being used by sshd to handle your connection and even allow you to issue commands.

    All of this is done, on modern operating systems, via "pre-emptive multitasking". In other words, running programs aren't given a choice of when they will give up control of the CPU. Rather, they're forced to give up control and then resume a little while later. Each process running on a computer is handled this way. Each process can, in turn, use threads, sub-processes that subdivide the time slice given to their parent process.
        Go to Full Article          

  • RV Offsite Backup Update
    by Kyle Rankin   
    Having an offsite backup in your RV is great, and after a year of use, I've discovered some ways to make it even better.

    Last year I wrote a feature-length article on the data backup system I set up for my RV (see Kyle's "DIY RV Offsite Backup and Media Server" from the June 2018 issue of LJ). If you haven't read that article yet, I recommend checking it out first so you can get details on the system. In summary, I set up a Raspberry Pi media center PC connected to a 12V television in the RV. I connected an 8TB hard drive to that system and synchronized all of my files and media so it acted as a kind of off-site backup. Finally, I set up a script that would attempt to sync over all of those files from my NAS whenever it detected that the RV was on the local network. So here, I provide an update on how that system is working and a few tweaks I've made to it since.
     What Works
    Overall, the media center has worked well. It's been great to have all of my media with me when I'm on a road trip, and my son appreciates having access to his favorite cartoons. Because the interface is identical to the media center we have at home, there's no learning curve—everything just works. Since the Raspberry Pi is powered off the TV in the RV, you just need to turn on the TV and everything fires up.

    It's also been great knowing that I have a good backup of all of my files nearby. Should anything happen to my house or my main NAS, I know that I can just get backups from the RV. Having peace of mind about your important files is valuable, and it's nice knowing in the worst case when my NAS broke, I could just disconnect my USB drive from the RV, connect it to a local system, and be back up and running.

    The WiFi booster I set up on the RV also has worked pretty well to increase the range of the Raspberry Pi (and the laptops inside the RV) when on the road. When we get to a campsite that happens to offer WiFi, I just reset the booster and set up a new access point that amplifies the campsite signal for inside the RV. On one trip, I even took it out of the RV and inside a hotel room to boost the weak signal.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Another Episode of "Seems Perfectly Feasible and Then Dies"--Script to Simplify the Process of Changing System Call Tables
    by Zack Brown   
    David Howells put in quite a bit of work on a script, ./scripts/, to simplify the entire process of changing the system call tables. With this script, it was a simple matter to add, remove, rename or renumber any system call you liked. The script also would resolve git conflicts, in the event that two repositories renumbered the system calls in conflicting ways.

    Why did David need to write this patch? Why weren't system calls already fairly easy to manage? When you make a system call, you add it to a master list, and then you add it to the system call "tables", which is where the running kernel looks up which kernel function corresponds to which system call number. Kernel developers need to make sure system calls are represented in all relevant spots in the source tree. Renaming, renumbering and making other changes to system calls involves a lot of fiddly little details. David's script simply would do everything right—end of story no problemo hasta la vista.

    Arnd Bergmann remarked, "Ah, fun. You had already threatened to add that script in the past. The implementation of course looks fine, I was just hoping we could instead eliminate the need for it first." But, bowing to necessity, Arnd offered some technical suggestions for improvements to the patch.

    However, Linus Torvalds swooped in at this particular moment, saying:

    Ugh, I hate it.

    I'm sure the script is all kinds of clever and useful, but I really think the solution is not this kind of helper script, but simply that we should work at not having each architecture add new system calls individually in the first place.

    IOW, we should look at having just one unified table for new system call numbers, and aim for the per-architecture ones to be for "legacy numbering".

    Maybe that won't happen, but in the _hope_ that it happens, I really would prefer that people not work at making scripts for the current nasty situation.

    And the portcullis came crashing down.

    It's interesting that, instead of accepting this relatively obvious improvement to the existing situation, Linus would rather leave it broken and ugly, so that someone someday somewhere might be motivated to do the harder-yet-better fix. And, it's all the more interesting given how extreme the current problem is. Without actually being broken, the situation requires developers to put in a tremendous amount of care and effort into something that David's script could make trivial and easy. Even for such an obviously "good" patch, Linus gives thought to the policy and cultural implications, and the future motivations of other people working in that region of code.

    Note: if you're mentioned above and want to post a response above the comment section, send a message with your response text to
        Go to Full Article          

  • Experts Attempt to Explain DevOps--and Almost Succeed
    by Bryan Lunduke   
    What is DevOps? How does it relate to other ideas and methodologies within software development? Linux Journal Deputy Editor and longtime software developer, Bryan Lunduke isn't entirely sure, so he asks some experts to help him better understand the DevOps phenomenon.

    The word DevOps confuses me.

    I'm not even sure confuses me quite does justice to the pain I experience—right in the center of my brain—every time the word is uttered.

    It's not that I dislike DevOps; it's that I genuinely don't understand what in tarnation it actually is. Let me demonstrate. What follows is the definition of DevOps on Wikipedia as of a few moments ago:

    DevOps is a set of software development practices that combine software development (Dev) and information technology operations (Ops) to shorten the systems development life cycle while delivering features, fixes, and updates frequently in close alignment with business objectives.

    I'm pretty sure I got three aneurysms just by copying and pasting that sentence, and I still have no clue what DevOps really is. Perhaps I should back up and give a little context on where I'm coming from.

    My professional career began in the 1990s when I got my first job as a Software Test Engineer (the people that find bugs in software, hopefully before the software ships, and tell the programmers about them). During the years that followed, my title, and responsibilities, gradually evolved as I worked my way through as many software-industry job titles as I could:
     Automation Engineer: people that automate testing software.    Software Development Engineer in Test: people that make tools for the testers to use.    Software Development Engineer: aka "Coder", aka "Programmer".    Dev Lead: "Hey, you're a good programmer! You should also manage a few other programmers but still code just as much as you did before, but, don't worry, we won't give you much of a raise! It'll be great!"    Dev Manager: like a Dev Lead, with less programming, more managing.    Director of Engineering: the manager of the managers of the programmers.    Vice President of Technology/Engineering: aka "The big boss nerd man who gets to make decisions and gets in trouble first when deadlines are missed." 
    During my various times with fancy-pants titles, I managed teams that included:
        Go to Full Article          

  • DNA Geometry with cadnano
    by Joey Bernard   
    This article introduces a tool you can use to work on three-dimensional DNA origami. The package is called cadnano, and it's currently being developed at the Wyss Institute. With this package, you'll be able to construct and manipulate the three-dimensional representations of DNA structures, as well as generate publication-quality graphics of your work.

    Because this software is research-based, you won't likely find it in the package repository for your favourite distribution, in which case you'll need to install it from the GitHub repository.

    Since cadnano is a Python program, written to use the Qt framework, you'll need to install some packages first. For example, in Debian-based distributions, you'll want to run the following commands:
      sudo apt-get install python3 python3-pip  
    I found that installation was a bit tricky, so I created a virtual Python environment to manage module installations.

    Once you're in your activated virtualenv, install the required Python modules with the command:
      pip3 install pythreejs termcolor pytz pandas pyqt5 sip  
    After those dependencies are installed, grab the source code with the command:
      git clone  
    This will grab the Qt5 version. The Qt4 version is in the repository

    Changing directory into the source directory, you can build and install cadnano with:
      python install  
    Now your cadnano should be available within the virtualenv.

    You can start cadnano simply by executing the cadnano command from a terminal window. You'll see an essentially blank workspace, made up of several empty view panes and an empty inspector pane on the far right-hand side.

    Figure 1. When you first start cadnano, you get a completely blank work space.

    In order to walk through a few of the functions available in cadnano, let's create a six-strand nanotube. The first step is to create a background that you can use to build upon. At the top of the main window, you'll find three buttons in the toolbar that will let you create a "Freeform", "Honeycomb" or "Square" framework. For this example, click the honeycomb button.

    Figure 2. Start your construction with one of the available geometric frameworks.
        Go to Full Article          

  • Running GNOME in a Container
    by Adam Verslype   
    Containerizing the GUI separates your work and play.

    Virtualization has always been a rich man's game, and more frugal enthusiasts—unable to afford fancy server-class components—often struggle to keep up. Linux provides free high-quality hypervisors, but when you start to throw real workloads at the host, its resources become saturated quickly. No amount of spare RAM shoved into an old Dell desktop is going to remedy this situation. If a properly decked-out host is out of your reach, you might want to consider containers instead.

    Instead of virtualizing an entire computer, containers allow parts of the Linux kernel to be portioned into several pieces. This occurs without the overhead of emulating hardware or running several identical kernels. A full GUI environment, such as GNOME Shell can be launched inside a container, with a little gumption.

    You can accomplish this through namespaces, a feature built in to the Linux kernel. An in-depth look at this feature is beyond the scope of this article, but a brief example sheds light on how these features can create containers. Each kind of namespace segments a different part of the kernel. The PID namespace, for example, prevents processes inside the namespace from seeing other processes running in the kernel. As a result, those processes believe that they are the only ones running on the computer. Each namespace does the same thing for other areas of the kernel as well. The mount namespace isolates the filesystem of the processes inside of it. The network namespace provides a unique network stack to processes running inside of them. The IPC, user, UTS and cgroup namespaces do the same for those areas of the kernel as well. When the seven namespaces are combined, the result is a container: an environment isolated enough to believe it is a freestanding Linux system.

    Container frameworks will abstract the minutia of configuring namespaces away from the user, but each framework has a different emphasis. Docker is the most popular and is designed to run multiple copies of identical containers at scale. LXC/LXD is meant to create containers easily that mimic particular Linux distributions. In fact, earlier versions of LXC included a collection of scripts that created the filesystems of popular distributions. A third option is libvirt's lxc driver. Contrary to how it may sound, libvirt-lxc does not use LXC/LXD at all. Instead, the libvirt-lxc driver manipulates kernel namespaces directly. libvirt-lxc integrates into other tools within the libvirt suite as well, so the configuration of libvirt-lxc containers resembles those of virtual machines running in other libvirt drivers instead of a native LXC/LXD container. It is easy to learn as a result, even if the branding is confusing.
        Go to Full Article          

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