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- RedHat: RHSA-2018-0549:01 Critical: firefox security update
LinuxSecurity.com: An update for firefox is now available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. Red Hat Product Security has rated this update as having a security impact of Critical. A Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) base score, which
- ArchLinux: 201803-11: ntp: multiple issues
LinuxSecurity.com: The package ntp before version 4.2.8.p11-1 is vulnerable to multiple issues including arbitrary code execution, content spoofing and denial of service.
- Debian: DSA-4141-1: libvorbisidec security update
LinuxSecurity.com: Huzaifa Sidhpurwala discovered that an out-of-bounds memory write in the codebook parsing code of the Libtremor multimedia library could result in the execution of arbitrary code if a malformed Vorbis file is opened.
- Two stable kernels
Stable kernels 4.15.11 and 4.14.28 have been released. They both containmany fixes throughout the tree and users should upgrade.
- Security updates for Monday
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (firefox, libvorbis, and ntp), Debian (curl, firefox-esr, gitlab, libvorbis, libvorbisidec, openjdk-8, and uwsgi), Fedora (firefox, ImageMagick, kernel, and mailman), Gentoo (adobe-flash, jabberd2, oracle-jdk-bin, and plasma-workspace), Mageia (bugzilla, kernel, leptonica, libtiff, libvorbis, microcode, python-pycrypto, SDL_image, shadow-utils, sharutils, and xerces-c), openSUSE (exempi, firefox, GraphicsMagick, libid3tag, libraw, mariadb, php5, postgresql95, SDL2, SDL2_image, ucode-intel, and xmltooling), Red Hat (firefox), Slackware (firefox and libvorbis), SUSE (microcode_ctl and ucode-intel), and Ubuntu (firefox and php5, php7.0, php7.1).
- Kernel prepatch 4.16-rc6
The 4.16-rc6 kernel prepatch is out."Go test, things are stable and there's no reason to worry, but allthe usual reasons to just do a quick build and verification that everythingworks for everybody. Ok?"
- Security updates for Friday
Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox), Debian (clamav and firefox-esr), openSUSE (Chromium and kernel-firmware), Oracle (firefox), Red Hat (ceph), Scientific Linux (firefox), Slackware (curl), and SUSE (java-1_7_1-ibm and mariadb).
- Malcolm: Usability improvements in GCC 8
Over on the Red Hat Developer Program blog, David Malcolm describes a number of usability improvements that he has made for the upcoming GCC 8 release. Malcolm has made a number of the C/C++ compiler error messages much more helpful, including adding hints for integrated development environments (IDEs) and other tools to suggest fixes for syntax and other kinds of errors. "[...] the code is fine, but, as is common with fragments of code seen on random websites, it’s missing #include directives. If you simply copy this into a new file and try to compile it as-is, it fails.This can be frustrating when copying and pasting examples – off the top of your head, which header files are needed by the above? – so for gcc 8 I’ve added hints telling you which header files are missing (for the most common cases)." He has various examples showing what the new error messages and hints look like in the blog post.
- [$] The strange story of the ARM Meltdown-fix backport
Alex Shi's posting of a patch seriesbackporting a set of Meltdown fixes for the arm64 architecture to the4.9 kernel might seem like a normal exercise in making important securityfixes available on older kernels. But this case raised a couple ofinteresting questions about why this backport should be accepted into thelong-term-support kernels — and a couple of equally interesting answers,one of which was rather better received than the other.
- Stable kernels 4.15.10 and 4.14.27
Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the 4.15.10 and 4.14.27 stable kernels. Each contains a largenumber of patches throughout the kernel tree; users should upgrade.
- Security updates for Thursday
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (samba), CentOS (389-ds-base, kernel, libreoffice, mailman, and qemu-kvm), Debian (curl, libvirt, and mbedtls), Fedora (advancecomp, ceph, firefox, libldb, postgresql, python-django, and samba), Mageia (clamav, memcached, php, python-django, and zsh), openSUSE (adminer, firefox, java-1_7_0-openjdk, java-1_8_0-openjdk, and postgresql94), Oracle (kernel and libreoffice), Red Hat (erlang, firefox, flash-plugin, and java-1.7.1-ibm), Scientific Linux (389-ds-base, kernel, libreoffice, and qemu-kvm), SUSE (xen), and Ubuntu (curl, firefox, linux, linux-raspi2, and linux-hwe).
- [$] Discussing PEP†572
As is often the case, the python-ideas mailing list hosted a discussionabout a Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) recently. In some sense, thisparticular PEPwas created to try to gather together the pros and cons of afeature idea that regularly crops up: statement-local bindings for variablenames. But the discussion of the PEP went in enough different directionsthat it led to calls for an entirely different type of medium in which tohave those kinds of discussions.
- ACME v2 and Wildcard Certificate Support is Live
Let's Encrypt has announcedthat ACMEv2 (Automated Certificate Management Environment) and wildcardcertificate support is live. ACMEv2 is an updatedversion of the ACME protocol that has gone through the IETF standardsprocess. Wildcardcertificates allow you to secure all subdomains of a domain with asingle certificate. (Thanks to Alphonse Ogulla)
- GNOME 3.28 released
GNOME 3.28 has been released. "This release brings a more beautifulfont, an improved on-screen keyboard and a new 'Usage' application.Improvements to core GNOME applications include support for favorites inFiles and the file chooser, a better month view in the Calendar, supportfor importing pictures from devices in Photos, and many more." Seethe releasenotes for details.
- Security updates for Wednesday
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (calibre, dovecot, and postgresql), CentOS (dhcp and mailman), Fedora (freetype, kernel, leptonica, mariadb, mingw-leptonica, net-snmp, nx-libs, util-linux, wavpack, x2goserver, and zsh), Gentoo (chromium), Oracle (389-ds-base, mailman, and qemu-kvm), Red Hat (389-ds-base, kernel, kernel-alt, libreoffice, mailman, and qemu-kvm), Scientific Linux (mailman), Slackware (firefox and samba), and Ubuntu (samba).
- [$] An introduction to RISC-V
LWN has covered the open RISC-V ("risk five") processor architecture before, most recently inthis article. As the ecosystem and tools around RISC-V have started comingtogether, a more detailed look is in order. In a seriesof two articles, guest author Richard W.M. Jones will look atwhat RISC-V is and follow up with an article on how we can nowport Linux distributions to run on it.
- How to Install Turtl Server Evernote Alternative on CentOS 7
Turtl is a secure and encrypted Evernote alternative. It's an open source application that allows you to take notes, bookmark websites, store documents, share passwords with your coworkers, and more. In this tutorial, we will show you step-by-step how to install and configure Turtl server on CentOS 7.
- Test driving 4 open source music players and more
In my last article, I described my latest music problem: I need an additional stage of amplification to make proper use of my new phono cartridge. While my pre-amplifier contains a phono stage, its gain is only suitable for cartridges that output about 5mV, whereas my new cartridge has a nominal output of 0.4mV.read more
- Critical Firefox vulnerability fixed in 59.0.1
On Friday, Mozilla issued a security advisory for Firefox, the default web browser in Fedora. This advisory centered around two CVEs — both of which allowed an out of bounds memory write while processing Vorbis audio data, leading to arbitrary... Continue Reading →
- Why a hard drive RAID array can save your bacon
How valuable is your data? If your storage drive crashed, would it ruin your day? Your week? Your entire career? Only you can answer those questions for yourself and your organization. But I'll tell you, personally, I need my files -- not only to get my day-to-day job done, but to reference older information and even look at personal keepsakes (like all my digital photos).
- Rugged, Kaby Lake based NVR system offers up to eight PoE ports
Aaeon’s automotive-focused “VPC-5600S” networked video recorder PC runs Linux or Windows on 7th Gen Core chips and offers dual hot-swappable SATA trays and 6x to 10x GbE ports, with 4x to 8x of those supporting PoE. Aaeon has launched a rugged VPC-5600S network video recorder (NVR) embedded computer with up to 10x Gigabit Ethernet ports, of which up to 8x support Power-over-Ethernet (PoE).
- Creating and Resizing XFS Partitions
In this article, we will be using VirtualBox to demonstrate how to create a proper partition and format it with XFS filesystem. We also show you how to resize a XFS partition that already exists so you don't have to destroy it and create a new one.
- Weekend Reading: All Things Bash
Bash is a shell and command language. It is distributed widely as the default login shell for most Linux distributions. We've rounded up some of the most popular Bash-related articles for your weekend reading.
- How to manage your passwords with Bitwarden, a LastPass alternative
Many people turn to popular services like LastPass and 1Password to help them wrangle their passwords. While solid, those services are also proprietary and closed source. So where can an open source enthusiast turn to find an alternative? Enter Bitwarden, an application that's aiming to become the go-to open source password manager on the web.
- Linus Torvalds slams CTS Labs over AMD vulnerability report
Linux[he]#039[/he]s creator said he thinks CTS Labs[he]#039[/he] AMD chip security report "looks more like stock manipulation than a security advisory" and questions an industry. CTS Labs, a heretofore unknown Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup, has claimed it's found over a dozen security problems with AMD Ryzen and EPYC processors. Linus Torvalds, Linux's creator, doesn't buy it.
- Google Opens Maps APIs and World Becomes Dev Playground
Google plans to open its Maps APIs to video game developers, which could result in far more realistic settings in augmented reality games. With access to real-time map updates and rich location data, developers will have many choices of settings for their games. The APIs will provide devs with what Google has described as a "living model of the world" to use as a foundation for game worlds.
- New Raspberry Pi Packs More Power
The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Wednesday launched the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. The new release comes two years after the introduction of its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The Raspberry Pi computer runs the open source Raspbian operating system. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is an incremental upgrade to a line of predecessors that have become entrenched in education, hobbyist and industry markets.
- SpaceChain, Arch Aim to Archive Human Knowledge in Space
SpaceChain has teamed with the Arch Mission Foundation to use open source technology to launch an ambitious project involving the storage of large data sets in spacecraft and on other planets. Arch Mission will load large quantities of data onto SpaceChain's satellite vehicles with the eventual aim of storing data on other planets. The joint effort will help launch the Earth Library.
- Deepin Desktop Props Up Pardus Linux
The Pardus Linux distro offers an inviting computing experience with both old and new options. However, a dual development path narrows its user appeal. Pardus suffers from sharing its personality -- splitting its attention between an enterprise edition and a community version. While they both share the same distro name, they come from different developer teams.
- Kali Linux Security App Lands in Microsoft Store
Kali Linux, a penetration testing app from Offensive Security, has become available in the Microsoft Store. Windows 10 users can download and install the Kali Linux app onto the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Microsoft last summer announced that WSL, which makes it possible to run operating systems like Ubuntu, would become a fully supported part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.
- Microsoft Gives Devs More Open Source Quantum Computing Goodies
Microsoft has announced the first major upgrade to its Quantum Development Kit since its introduction last year. It has added several new features designed to open the platform to a wider array of developers, including support for Linux and macOS, as well as additional open source libraries. Further, the kit will be interoperable with the Python computing language.
- Red Hat Adds Zing to High-Density Storage
Red Hat has announced the addition of high-density storage capabilities to its in-memory data management technology. The company has expanded an alliance with Azul Systems to build on their prior collaboration to provide entitlements for Azul Zing with JBoss Data Grid subscriptions. The arrangement will help customers meet speed and volume needs for their big data environments.
- When It's Time for a Linux Distro Change
It's common for Linux users to hop between distributions and survey the field, and I recently reached a point where I had to seriously rethink the one I was using most of the time. Between hardware compatibility issues with my old standby and some discouraging missteps with other go-to choices, I felt the time had come to reassess my pool of preferred distributions and repopulate it from scratch.
- Endless OS Helps Tear Down Linux Wall
The Endless OS is a distro with its own adapted desktop environment based on Gnome 3, and with an even simpler and more streamlined user experience. Although it looks and feels a lot like an Android shell running on a PC, Endless OS is a fully functional Linux distro designed to be easy to install and use. The latest version includes automatic updates and improved application launch speeds.
- Suse, AWS Nudge SAP Customers to the Cloud
Suse recently entered an agreement to expand its relationship with AWS, allowing Suse Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications to be sold directly on the AWS Marketplace. AWS customers that are running SAP workloads on Suse Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications -- a leading platform for SAP Hana and SAP S/4Hana -- will get integrated and streamlined support from AWS and Suse.
- SentinelOne Debuts Unified OS Threat Protection
SentinelOne this week announced a partnership with Microsoft to bolster threat protection for mixed platform users, making computing safer for Linux machines in a multiplatform workplace. SentinelOne will integrate its Endpoint Protection Platform with Microsoft's Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service to cover Mac and Linux device platforms.
- Kudos to Namib Linux for Making Arch Approachable
Namib is an ideal Linux distro for anyone who wants to ease into the Arch approach to computing. Namib is a newcomer -- the third and current release arrived late last year. However, it makes up for its lack of age by its performance. Namib makes Arch simple. Surprisingly very user-friendly as well as compatible with older computers, Namib also is very stable.
- Open Up the Source Code to Lock Down Your Data
Meaningful security is more than an app or an OS. It's a mindset. Linux security tools by themselves will not make you or anyone more secure. Security requires trade-offs in convenience, so the tools I'll highlight here are not recommended as "daily drivers." Only you can determine your ideal balance point. Perhaps the single greatest strength of Linux is that it is open source.
- WiFi Routers Riddled With Holes: Report
Most WiFi router vendors have not patched numerous firmware vulnerabilities discovered more than two years ago, according to a new report. OEM firmware built into WiFi routers use open source components that contain numerous known security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. Insignary conducted comprehensive binary code scans for known security vulnerabilities in WiFi routers.
- Open Source Software Turns 20-Something
Saturday marks the 20th Anniversary of open source, sort of. Open source led to a new software development and distribution model that offered an alternative to proprietary software. No single event takes the prize for starting the technology revolution. However, Feb. 3, 1998, is one of the more significant dates. On that day, Christine Peterson, a futurist and lecturer in the field of nanotechnology, coined the "open source" term.
- Skype Comes to Linux in a Snap
Canonical has announced the availability of Skype as a Snap file, the universal Linux app packaging format. Skype now can deliver its communication service to a wider range of Linux users, not just those who run Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution. Skype, a Microsoft product, is an application that lets users make video and voice calls, and send files, video and instant messages.
- Privacy-Minded Smart Speaker May Struggle to Get to Know You
Mycroft AI earlier this week announced that its Mark II smart speaker achieved full funding on Kickstarter in just 6.5 hours. As of Wednesday, pledges reached more than three times its $50K goal -- with 23 days remaining in the campaign. The Mark II is positioned as an open source alternative to the dominant Amazon Echo line of smart speakers and its main challenger, the Google Home device.
- Free Linux Tool Monitors Systems for Meltdown Attacks
SentinelOne has released Blacksmith, a free Linux tool that can detect Meltdown vulnerability exploitation attempts. The company has been working on a similar tool to detect Spectre vulnerability attacks. Though free, Blacksmith is not open source. SentinelOne decided to expedite its development in-house to save time, said Raj Rajamani, vice president of product management.
- SolydXK Plasma Rewards Effort With Stunning Results
SolydXK is a Debian-based Linux distribution that comes with a choice of the Xfce or KDE desktop. The latest edition of SolydXK, released this month, provides a state-of-the-art Linux platform. Since I first reviewed the SoldXK distro back in 2013, it has grown into a reputable Linux offering built around two popular computing options. Those two desktop options drew me to the Linux OS years ago.
- Quest Updates Toad Open Source Database Tools
Quest Software on Monday announced a series of updates to its Toad open source database software applications, including new versions of its Toad Edge, Toad Data Point and Toad Intelligence Central products. After launching the first version of Toad Edge last summer, the company began seeing an uptick in downloads of freeware that supported MySQL on its Toad World community site.
- Barcelona Opts for Breath of Open Source Fresh Air
Barcelona city officials have voted to shut the door on Microsoft Windows in favor of the Linux operating system and open source technology. The city hopes to save money from proprietary software license fees and to build a specialized library of open source applications targeting the needs of government workers. Its goal is to encourage specialized open source solutions throughout governmental agencies in Spain.
- FedEx Embraces More Robots Without Firing Humans
An anonymous reader shares a report: As soon as the first robot arrived at a FedEx shipping hub in the heart of North Carolina tobacco country early last year, talk of pink slips was in the air. Workers had been driving the "tuggers" that navigated large and irregular items across the vast concrete floor of the 630,000-square-foot freight depot since it opened in 2011. Their initial robotic colleague drew a three-dimensional digital map of the place as it tugged freight around. A few months later, three other robots -- nicknamed Lucky, Dusty and Ned in a nod to the movie "iThree Amigos!" -- arrived, using the digital map to get around on their own. By March, they were joined by two others, Jefe and El Guapo. Horns honking and warning lights flashing, the autonomous vehicles snaked through the hub, next to about 20 tuggers that still needed humans behind the wheel. [...] But what has happened at the FedEx hub may be a surprise to people who fear that they are about to be replaced by a smart machine: a robot might take your role, but not necessarily your job. Yes, the robots replaced a few jobs right away. And in time, they will replace about 25 jobs in a facility that employs about 1,300 people. But the hub creates about 100 new jobs every year -- and a robot work force still seems like the distant future.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- The Struggle to Build a Massive 'Biobank' of Patient Data
An anonymous reader shares a report: This spring, the National Institutes of Health will start recruiting participants for one of the most ambitious medical projects ever envisioned. The goal is to find one million people in the United States, from all walks of life and all racial and ethnic groups, who are willing to have their genomes sequenced, and to provide their medical records and regular blood samples. They may choose to wear devices that continuously monitor physical activity, perhaps even devices not yet developed that will track heart rate and blood pressure. They will fill out surveys about what they eat and how much. If all goes well, experts say, the result will be a trove of health information like nothing the world has seen. The project, called the All of Us Research Program, should provide new insights into who gets sick and why, and how to prevent and treat chronic diseases. The All of Us program joins a wave of similar efforts to construct gigantic "biobanks" by, among others, the Department of Veterans Affairs, a British collaboration and private companies like Geisinger Health Systems and Kaiser Permanente. But All of Us is the only one that attempts to capture a huge sample that is representative of the United States population. "It will be transformative," said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. It will also be expensive. In 2017 alone, the budget for All of Us was $230 million, of which $40 million came from the 21st Century Cures Act. Congress has authorized an astounding $1.455 billion over 10 years for the project. While supporters say the results will be well worth the money and effort, others have begun to question whether All of Us is just too ambitious, too loaded with cumbersome bureaucracy -- and too duplicative of smaller programs that are moving much more quickly. In the three years since the All of Us program was announced, not a single person's DNA has been sequenced. Instead, project leaders have signed up more than 17,000 volunteers as "beta testers" in a pilot phase of the program. They supplied blood and urine samples, had measurements taken, and filled out surveys.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Hackers Are So Fed Up With Twitter Bots They're Hunting Them Down Themselves
An anonymous reader writes: Even if Twitter hasn't invested much in anti-bot software, some of its most technically proficient users have. They're writing and refining code that can use Twitter's public application programming interface, or API, as well as Google and other online interfaces, to ferret out fake accounts and bad actors. The effort, at least among the researchers I spoke with, has begun with hunting bots designed to promote pornographic material -- a type of fake account that is particularly easy to spot -- but the plan is to eventually broaden the hunt to other types of bots. The bot-hunting programming and research has been a strictly volunteer, part-time endeavor, but the efforts have collectively identified tens of thousands of fake accounts, underlining just how much low-hanging fruit remains for Twitter to prune. Among the part-time bot-hunters is French security researcher and freelance Android developer Baptiste Robert, who in February of this year noticed that Twitter accounts with profile photos of scantily clad women were liking his tweets or following him on Twitter. Aside from the sexually suggestive images, the bots had similarities. Not only did these Twitter accounts typically include profile photos of adult actresses, but they also had similar bios, followed similar accounts, liked more tweets than they retweeted, had fewer than 1,000 followers, and directed readers to click the link in their bios.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Microsoft Brings Native HEIF Support to Windows 10
An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft is bringing support for the new HEIF image format to Windows 10. First popularized by Apple with iOS 11, HEIF is a new image format that uses less storage space while preserving image quality. The new image format is used by default on Apple's iPhone X and other devices running iOS 11. While Microsoft's online services like OneDrive already supported HEIF since the release of iOS 11, Windows 10 didn't natively support the new format as of yet. But with the upcoming Redstone 4 update -- possibly called the Spring Creators Update -- the Microsoft Photos app in Windows 10 will support HEIF by default. Further reading: CNET.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- How Einstein Lost His Bearings, and With Them, General Relativity
Kevin Hartnett, writing for Quanta magazine: Albert Einstein released his general theory of relativity at the end of 1915. He should have finished it two years earlier. When scholars look at his notebooks from the period, they see the completed equations, minus just a detail or two. "That really should have been the final theory," said John Norton, an Einstein expert and a historian of science at the University of Pittsburgh. But Einstein made a critical last-second error that set him on an odyssey of doubt and discovery -- one that nearly cost him his greatest scientific achievement. The consequences of his decision continue to reverberate in math and physics today. Here's the error. General relativity was meant to supplant Newtonian gravity. This meant it had to explain all the same physical phenomena Newton's equations could, plus other phenomena that Newton's equations couldn't. Yet in mid-1913, Einstein convinced himself, incorrectly, that his new theory couldn't account for scenarios where the force of gravity was weak -- scenarios that Newtonian gravity handled well. "In retrospect, this is just a bizarre mistake," said Norton. To correct this perceived flaw, Einstein thought he had to abandon what had been one of the central features of his emerging theory. Einstein's field equations -- the equations of general relativity -- describe how the shape of space-time evolves in response to the presence of matter and energy. To describe that evolution, you need to impose on space-time a coordinate system -- like lines of latitude and longitude -- that tells you which points are where. Another interesting read on Quanta: Why Stephen Hawking's Black Hole Puzzle Keeps Puzzling.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Mapping Apps Like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps May Make Traffic Conditions Worse in Some Areas, New Research Suggests
From an Atlantic story, originally titled "The Perfect Selfishness of Mapping Apps": In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers' selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. Sure, there were always people who knew the crazy, back-road route, but the bulk of people just stuck to the routes that transportation planners had designated as the preferred way to get from A to B. Now, however, a new information layer is destroying the nudging infrastructure that traffic planners built into cities. Commuters armed with mobile mapping apps, route-following Lyft and Uber drivers, and software-optimized truckers can all act with a more perfect selfishness. In some happy universe, this would lead to socially optimal outcomes, too. But a new body of research at the University of California's Institute of Transportation Studies suggests that the reality is far more complicated. In some scenarios, traffic-beating apps might work for an individual, but make congestion worse overall. And autonomous vehicles, touted as an answer to traffic-y streets, could deepen the problem. "This problem has been vastly overlooked," Alexandre Bayen, the director of UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies, told me. "It is just the beginning of something that is gonna be much worse." Bayen and a team of researchers presented their work earlier this year at the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting and at the Cal Future conference at Berkeley in May 2017. They've also published work examining the negative externalities of high levels of automatic routing.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Are Research Papers Less Accurate and Truthful Than in the Past?
An anonymous reader shares an Economist report: An essential of science is that experiments should yield similar results if repeated. In recent years, however, some people have raised concerns that too many irreproducible results are being published. This phenomenon, it is suggested, may be a result of more studies having poor methodology, of more actual misconduct, or of both. Or it may not exist at all, as Daniele Fanelli of the London School of Economics suggests in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. First, although the number of erroneous papers retracted by journals has increased, so has the number of journals carrying retractions. Allowing for this, the number of retractions per journal has not gone up. Second, scientific-misconduct investigations by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in America are no more frequent than 20 years ago, nor are they more likely to find wrongdoing.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- About a Quarter of US Adults Say They Are 'Almost Constantly' Online
As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, 26 percent of American adults now report that they go online "almost constantly," up from 21 percent in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018. From the study: Overall, 77 percent of Americans go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 26 percent who go online almost constantly, as well as 43 percent who say they go online several times a day and 8 percent who go online about once a day. Some 11 percent go online several times a week or less often, while 11 percent of adults say they do not use the internet at all.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- New Study Which Made 90 Adults Play 'GTA' or 'The Sims 3' For At least 30 Mins Every Day For 2 Months Finds 'No Significant Changes' in Their Behavior
A new, longer-term study of video game play from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Germany's University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf recently published in Molecular Psychiatry found that adults showed "no significant changes" on a wide variety of behavioral measures after two straight months of daily violent game play. From a report: To correct for the "priming" effects inherent in these other studies, researchers had 90 adult participants play either Grand Theft Auto V or The Sims 3 for at least 30 minutes every day over eight weeks (a control group played no games during the testing period). The adults chosen, who ranged from 18 to 45 years old, reported little to no video game play in the previous six months and were screened for pre-existing psychological problems before the tests. The participants were subjected to a wide battery of 52 established questionnaires intended to measure "aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy, and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions." The tests were administered immediately before and immediately after the two-month gameplay period and also two months afterward, in order to measure potential continuing effects. Over 208 separate comparisons (52 tests; violent vs. non-violent and control groups; pre- vs. post- and two-months-later tests), only three subjects showed a statistically significant effect of the violent gameplay at a 95 percent confidence level.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Once Written Off for Dead, the Aral Sea Is Now Full of Life
Years ago, the Aral Sea was the world's fourth-largest freshwater lake with an area of some 26,000 square miles. But in the 1950s, it became the victim of the Soviet Union's agricultural policies. Water from its two river sources -- the Amu Darya and Syr Darya -- was intentionally diverted for cotton cultivation. The Aral Sea began to disappear and nearly completely vanished. But things have changed for good. From a report: This rapid collapse over less than three decades -- which environmental scientists say is one of the planet's worst ecological disasters -- is marked today by the sea's reduced size. Its total area of water, straddling Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, is now a tenth of its original size. What's left has broken into two distinct bodies: the North and South Aral Seas. In Uzbekistan, the entire eastern basin of the South Aral Sea is completely desiccated, leaving merely a single strip of water in the west. But Kazakhstan's North Aral Sea has seen a happier outcome, thanks to a nearly $86 million project financed in large part by the World Bank. Along with repairs to existing dikes around the basin to prevent spillage, an eight-mile dam was constructed just south of the Syr Darya River. Completed in the summer of 2005, this dam, named Kokaral, surpassed all expectations. It led to an 11-foot increase in water levels after just seven months -- a goal that scientists initially expected would take three years. This turnaround in the North Aral Sea's fate has meant that the fish stocks have returned to its waters, injecting new life into the local communities. Just as government policies had doomed the Aral Sea, careful planning and research helped revive at least part of it.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- When China Hoards Its Hackers Everyone Loses
An anonymous reader shares a report: For over a decade Pwn2Own -- happening this week -- has brought together security talent from across the globe in a friendly hacking competition that is a cornerstone of research and advancement on par with Black Hat and Def Con. China's hackers routinely win, sweeping the board -- notably, the Tencent and Keen teams. Pwn2Own is good-natured, and all in the name of researchers finding big bugs, nabbing great bounties and drawing attention to security holes and zero-days that need to be fixed. But this year, according to Pwn2Own manager Brian Gorenc, China is no longer allowing its researchers to compete. Prior to the start of Pwn2Own this week, Gorenc told press "There have been regulatory changes in some countries that no longer allow participation in global exploit contests, such as Pwn2Own and Capture the Flag competitions." One thing's for certain: yearly champions Tencent's Keen Labs and Qihoo 360's 360Vulcan team are nowhere to be found and Trend Micro, the conference organizer, has confirmed to Engadget that there are no Chinese competitors in this year's competition. [...] It's a worrying development in the direction of isolationism and away from the benefits of competition in the spirit of improving security for all. It comes at a time when relations between the US and China strain under the weight of Huawei security concerns, which are not at all new, but are certainly coming to a head as American companies sever business ties with the firm.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Firefox Master Password System Has Been Poorly Secured for the Past 9 Years, Researcher Says
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: For at past nine years, Mozilla has been using an insufficiently strong encryption mechanism for the "master password" feature. Both Firefox and Thunderbird allow users to set up a "master password" through their settings panel. This master password plays the role of an encryption key that is used to encrypt each password string the user saves in his browser or email client. Experts have lauded the feature because up until that point browsers would store passwords locally in cleartext, leaving them vulnerable to malware or attackers with physical access to a victim's computer. But Wladimir Palant, the author of the AdBlock Plus extension, says the encryption scheme used by the master password feature is weak and can be easily brute-forced. "I looked into the source code," Palant says, "I eventually found the sftkdb_passwordToKey() function that converts a [website] password into an encryption key by means of applying SHA-1 hashing to a string consisting of a random salt and your actual master password."
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- YouTube Kids Has Videos on How Reptilians Rule the World, Moon Landing Was Fake
An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTube Kids, the supposedly child-friendly version of YouTube that's been shown to often play host to troves of slop content and disturbing videos, apparently was showing videos from British conspiracy theorist David Icke, a guy who believes reptilian aliens secretly control the world and are responsible for the Holocaust. According to a Saturday report in Business Insider, searching for the term "UFO" on YouTube kids turned up a video purporting "to show a UFO shooting at a chemtrail." The suggested followups for that video featured a number of Icke's clips, including a nearly five-hour lecture on how aliens built the pyramids and secretly run the planet through a ruling class extraterrestrial-human hybrids. The video also delves into a number of other conspiracy theories, including claims Freemasons indulge in human sacrifice and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by his own government. According to Business Insider, "Two other conspiracy theory videos by Icke appeared in the related videos, meaning it was easy for children to quickly go from watching relatively innocent videos about toys to conspiracy content." Searching for the term "moon landing" also resulted in a number of conspiratorial videos emerging, including one making the claim that CERN's Large Hadron Collider had opened a portal to another world that an unfortunate employee then vanished in.
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- The Road to Deep Decarbonization
Michael Liebreich, writing for Bloomberg New Energy Finance: In the past fifteen years we have witnessed several pivotal points along the route towards clean energy and transport. In 2004, renewables were poised for explosive growth; in 2008, the world's power system started to go digital; in 2012, it became clear that EVs would take over light ground transportation. Today I believe it is the turn of sectors that have resisted change so far -- heavy ground transportation, industry, chemicals, heat, aviation and shipping, agriculture. One after the other, or more likely as a tightly-coupled system, they are all going to go clean during the coming decades. Astonishing progress is being made on super-efficient industrial processes, connected and shared vehicles, electrification of air transport, precision agriculture, food science, synthetic fuels, industrial biochemistry, new materials like graphene and aerogels, energy and infrastructure blockchain, additive manufacturing, zero-carbon building materials, small nuclear fusion, and so many other areas. These technologies may not be cost-competitive today, but they all benefit from the same fearsome learning curves as we have seen in wind, solar and batteries. In addition, in the same way that ubiquitous sensors, cloud and edge-of-grid computing, big data and machine learning have enabled the transformation of our electrical system, they will unlock sweeping changes to the rest of our energy, transportation and industrial sectors.
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- Say Goodbye To the Information Age: It's All About Reputation Now
An anonymous reader shares an essay on Aeon magazine by Gloria Origgi, an Italian philosopher and a tenured senior researcher at CNRS : We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the 'information age', we are moving towards the 'reputation age', in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know. [...] The paradigm shift from the age of information to the age of reputation must be taken into account when we try to defend ourselves from 'fake news' and other misinformation and disinformation techniques that are proliferating through contemporary societies. What a mature citizen of the digital age should be competent at is not spotting and confirming the veracity of the news. Rather, she should be competent at reconstructing the reputational path of the piece of information in question, evaluating the intentions of those who circulated it, and figuring out the agendas of those authorities that leant it credibility.
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- Here is how Google handles Right To Be Forgotten requests
Software engineer? Lawyer? Not a lawyer, even? Sure, have a go
RTBF trial Google allows software engineers, as well as its dedicated Right To Be Forgotten (RTBF) operatives, to make decisions about which search results ought to be deleted on request – and places such requests onto its internal bug-handling systems.…
- Nest reveals the first truly connected home
Begun, the battle of the home eco-systems has
Comment After years of hype, the connected home is finally here thanks to a range of new products available this week from Google-owned Nest.…
- Machines making music, translating Chinese, self-driving trucks, and more
Developments for our future overlords
Roundup Welcome to this week's AI roundup. We have news on a machine learning model used by Google to make music that doesn't sound completely bad, improved translation between English and Chinese from Microsoft, and a new test bed for Waymo's self-driving trucks.…
- UK mobe network Three's profits hit by IT upgrade costs
Oh, and billionaire owner Li Ka-shing retires
Mobile operator Three UK reported a fall in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)* of 2 per cent to £437m for its full-year results – largely due to an IT and network upgrade.…
- Phone-free Microsoft patents Notch-free phone
It's your body Notch your mind
"The Notch"* is either the curse of 2018 phone designs – or the only interesting thing about boring phone designs in 2018, depending on how you look at it. Now details of a Microsoft phone patent have emerged that could make future phones less Notchy.…
- Brit retailer Currys PC World says sorry for Know How scam
Forced punters to cough extra £40 for pre-configured laptops
Currys PC World today apologised for forcing customers to pay an extra £40 for pre-configuration on their laptops that they didn't request – a dodgy practice brought to light by consumer charity Which?…
- Who knew? Fabric access NVMe arrays can work with Spectrum Scale
Parallel access filesystem for disks gets new life
Case study IBM Spectrum Scale (GPFS) started out as a parallel access filesystem for disk-based arrays – so some may have expected it to fall over and die in the face of lightning fast access NVMe SSD and NVMe fabric access arrays.…
- Hate to add to the wanky jargon – but your digital transformation is actually a bolt-on
Earth-shattering change to biz? You'll be the judge of that
It's hard to believe there once was a more innocent time when if somebody used the phrase "digital transformation" you might think they were being pretentious about making the switch from renting films on DVD delivered in the post to Amazon Prime downloads. But there's still a lot of confusion around the term – even more so when people start to ask organisations that have started down that path whether it has worked.…
- Cyborg fined for riding train without valid ticket
Subcutaneous smart card doesn’t cut it in Sydney
A self-described “cyborg” who slipped a public transport smartcard under his skin has pled guilty to riding trains without a valid ticket and copped a fine, plus costs.…
- One in three Android Wear owners also uses ... an iPhone
Which may be why Google’s changed the name to ‘Wear OS’
LogoWatch LogoWatch Google’s re-branded Android Wear, the cut of Android for wearable devices, as “Wear OS by Google” and added the tag line "make every minute matter".…
Linux.com offline for now
- Ubuntu 18.10 Looking At LZ4-Compressed Initramfs Image By Default
With Ubuntu 18.10 being the release after an LTS cycle, it's shaping up to be another big feature period. They have already been discussing Zstd-compressed Debian packages for Ubuntu 18.10 while the latest proposal for this next cycle is on switching from Gzip to LZ4 for the default kernel initramfs image...
- GTK+ 4.0 Getting Audio/Video Playback Integration
The GTK+ 4.0 tool-kit has just landed its GtkMediaStream / GtkMediaFile / GtkVideo / GtkMediaControls widgets for now having native multimedia stream playback support in the tool-kit that in turn is backed by GStreamer / FFmpeg...
- Wine Developers Determining How To Handle Vulkan Loader Support
While this week's Wine 3.4 release delivers on working Wine Vulkan ICD support for beginning to allow Windows Vulkan programs to work under Wine assuming the host has Vulkan API support, this current implementation still requires the user to install the Windows Vulkan SDK...
- More Spectre + Meltdown Updates Heading Into Linux 4.16
Thomas Gleixner who has been wrangling all of the Spectre and Meltdown related patches for the Linux kernel tree has submitted another pull request of more changes to land for the Linux 4.16 cycle that is nearing the end of its development...
- Vulkan 1.1.71 Released As The First Update To Vulkan 1.1
The first point release to the Vulkan 1.1 release from earlier this month is now available. Vulkan 1.1 promoted a lot of functionality to core while also officially adding sub-groups and protected content support. This Vulkan 1.1.71 point release adds a new extension and fixes...
- Ubuntu Tried Adding Synaptics Support Back To GNOME's Mutter
GNOME developers previously dropped support for Synaptics and other input drivers from Mutter in favor of the universal libinput stack that is also Wayland-friendly. Canonical developers tried to get Synaptics support on X11 added back into Mutter but it looks clear now that was rejected...
- HAMMER2 Gets Many Fixes On The Latest DragonFlyBSD Git
The HAMMER2 file-system has been available with install-time support since DragonFlyBSD 5.0 while the latest Git code continues to revise this next-generation FS for DragonFly. Landing overnight in DragonFlyBSD were several HAMMER and HAMMER2 improvements...
- Linux 4.17 To Enable AMDGPU DC By Default For All Supported GPUs
Since the introduction of the AMDGPU DC display code (formerly known as DAL) in Linux 4.15, this modern display stack has just been enabled by default for newer Radeon Vega and Raven Ridge devices. With Linux 4.17 that is changing with AMDGPU DC being enabled by default across the board for supported GPUs...
- Ubuntu 18.04 Versus Six Other Linux Distributions On AMD EPYC
With Ubuntu 18.04 LTS set to be released next month and its final package configuration quickly falling into place, we have begun firing up some benchmarks for seeing how this Ubuntu 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" release is comparing to various other Linux distributions. Up first as part of this series of benchmarks is using an AMD EPYC workstation/server for seeing how the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS performance compares to six other Linux distributions.
- LLVM Clang 6.0 vs. 5.0 Compiler Performance On Intel/AMD Linux
Since last week's big release of LLVM 6.0 along with Clang 6.0, I have been carrying out some fresh compiler benchmarks of the previous Clang 5.0 to this new stable release that switches to C++14 by default, among many other changes to LLVM itself and this C/C++ compiler front-end.
- LinkedIn users can now request job referrals from their connections
LinkedIn debuted a new feature today that could help job-seekers get a leg up in their search. TechCrunch reports that when users are connected to someone who works at a company with a job opening listed on LinkedIn, they can now ask that person for a referral. And the site is making it easy to find those jobs where you might have an in. Now on the desktop site, you can filter your job search by those that are "in your network" and at the top of those job listings, you'll see an "Ask for a referral" button. Click it and LinkedIn will bring up all of the people you're connected to that work at that company. You can then select which one you'd like to request a referral from and send them a message. LinkedIn even provides text that you can build off of and personalize.
This is the latest addition to LinkedIn's collection of job search tools. Last month, Microsoft released its LinkedIn resume helper for Word and in November, LinkedIn launched a Career Advice feature in some markets that lets users find a mentor.
The Ask for a Referral feature is available now.
Image: LinkedIn via TechCrunch
- Machine learning could lead to smarter mobile notifications
Push notifications on phones are both a blessing and a curse. After all, it's important to get information you need when it happens. But some apps send way too many push notifications, which often leads to turning off notifications for the app or deleting it altogether. The question is, how do you balance between necessary and extraneous push notifications? A new AI, outlined by Ton Ton Hsieng-De Huang and Hung-Yu Kao on arXiv.org, may be able to do just that.
This machine learning, which the developers call C-3PO (heh), worked by analyzing a person's browsing history, shopping history and financial details. The data was provided by Leopard Mobile, a Taiwan-based internet company. The neural network then analyzed the pop-up notifications people were getting and which ones they clicked on. As a result, the AI was able to make push notifications "smarter," reducing the number of overall notifications and increasing the click through rates on the ones that did appear, according to the article.
The team still has work to do. The next steps are to improve the neural network model by decreasing the number of complex tasks it has to perform. Additionally, they would like to apply this model to a system that advertisers could use to optimize when and how often they are delivering ads.
Anyone who's struggled with the sheer number of push notifications on their phones can see why this could potentially be a good thing. The easiest solution to decreasing push notifications is to turn off notifications or delete an app altogether. This gives users and app developers both a potentially better option.
Via: MIT Technology Review
- IBM's tiniest computer is smaller than a grain of rock salt
IMB has unveiled a computer that's smaller than a grain of rock salt. It has the power of an x86 chip from 1990, power of Watson or the company's quantum computing experiments, but you gotta start somewhere. Oh, right: it also work as a data source for blockchain. Meaning, it'll apparently sort provided data with AI and can detect fraud and pilfering, in addition to tracking shipments.
The publication says that the machine will cost under $0.10 to manufacture, which gives credence to IBM's prediction that these types of computers will be embedded everywhere within the next five years. The one shown off at the firm's Think conference is a prototype, of course, and as such there's no clear release window.
If you watched Last Week Tonight's segment on cryptocurrency, err, last week and were left wondering how we'd build an even bigger worldwide blockchain network from where we are now, well, this seems like a logical starting point.
- GrubHub and Yelp now offer delivery from over 80,000 restaurants
To combat rival services DoorDash and UberEats, Grubhub is expanding its partnership with Yelp to deliver meals from over 80,000 US restaurants on the food listing company's site and app. This finalizes GrubHub's $288 million acquisition of Yelp's Eat24 directory that it began last fall. In exchange, Yelp will get an undisclosed cut of every GrubHub order made through its service.
By more than doubling the number of Yelp restaurants Grubhub offers delivery to, the latter hopes to trim delivery fees overall by sheer scale. If drivers are making multiple deliveries in a single trip, it costs less per order, the logic goes.
"I see a point where we could conceivably have extremely low if not free delivery for consumers," GrubHub chief executive Matt Maloney told The Wall Street Journal.
As anyone who's tried ordering from Seamless (which merged with GrubHub in 2013) or another service, high delivery costs sour the novelty of convenience. DoorDash and UberEats have tried to woo customers by delivering Wendy's and McDonald's, respectively, but there's little point in getting inexpensive fast food if the extra costs are as much as the order.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
- Games will soon livestream directly to Facebook
Facebook is determined to challenge Twitch, Mixer and YouTube for the livestreaming throne, and it might have claimed an important edge: built-in broadcasting. The social site has unveiled a programming kit that lets developers build Facebook livestreaming directly into their games, with no go-between client or capture hardware required. True, it's not hard to get basic broadcasting elsewhere (such as the Xbox app on PCs), but the Facebook tool eliminates even that minor hurdle.
The software tools will be available to developers in the "coming weeks," although you can sign up for information today.
Gamers will have a better reason to tune in, for that matter. There's now a widely available rewards feature that gives viewers free perks for watching, such as in-game equipment. You aren't about to win prizes, but this could give you an incentive to stick around for longer than a couple of minutes. The feature officially launches during the Paladins Premier League on March 24th.
Facebook has scored a number of deals for live game broadcasts. With that said, there's no doubt that Twitch remains the dominant force in livestreaming between its large user base and streams for many of the largest eSports tournaments, such as EVO. This theoretically gives you an incentive to stream to Facebook instead, since it's that much easier. The problem is getting developers to adopt it -- they might not bother if they expect most players to gravitate toward a rival live video offering.
Source: Facebook Developers, Facebook (sign-up)
- Philips tests LiFi in a real office
This week, Philips announced that its LiFi, or Light Fidelity, tech is currently being tested at the offices of Icade, a French real estate investment company. LiFi provides broadband internet through lights, using LEDs to transmit a high-speed connection of up to 30 Mb per second through light waves.
LiFi works through LED luminaires that are equipped with built-in modems. For now, users will need to plug a USB dongle into their computers to access LiFi, but the tech will eventually be built into other devices. The dongle uses an infrared link to access LiFi, which is purported to be more secure and more reliable than WiFi.
There are many real benefits to LiFi. First, it works in areas where WiFi radio frequencies might interfere with equipment, such as hospitals, and where these signals can't penetrate. Because LiFi is transmitted via lights, it can reach areas that are deep underground. Seamless hand-off technology ensures that the signal will remain constant as you move from one light to another. It's also easy to control the range of LiFi; because light can't penetrate walls, creating a short-range, secure signal is easier than with WiFi.
That doesn't mean there won't be challenges to its implementation, though. Because it requires line of sight, implementation in a building without a lot of open space would be challenging and expensive. Additionally, as previously mentioned, computers and devices do not currently have onboard tech to access LiFi. There are certainly still some kinks to work out, but it will be interesting to see how this tech proliferates in the future.
- Google Pay now lets Las Vegas Monorail riders use phones to board
Google announced today that it's making purchasing and using tickets for the Las Vegas Monorail a little bit simpler. Now, riders will be able to buy tickets online through the Monorail site, save them to Google Pay and then just wave their phone near the fare gate to board. You don't even need to open the app. Once your ticket has been accepted, a blue check mark pops up on your screen and you're good to go.
The mobile tickets are powered by NXP's Mifare technology and beyond using the tickets, the Google Pay app will also show you recent transactions, trips and where the nearest Monorail station is located. Google, which united its Google Wallet and Android Pay services earlier this year, says the ability to use Google Pay for transit will be coming to more cities soon. Portland's TriMet transit system announced a beta test of virtual transit cards housed within Google Pay last year.
- How to buy a high-end camera in 2018
When photography or filmmaking becomes a consuming passion or a career rather than a hobby, you might look longingly at fancier equipment. Luckily, "enthusiast" cameras have edged so close to professional gear that there's no need to spend $4,000-plus for models like the Sony A9, Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, Hasselblad X1D or Nikon D5. For considerably less, you can pick up Sony's A7 III, the Nikon D850 or, for videographers, Panasonic's GH5s -- and get performance that's nearly as good. But which suits you specifically? We're here to help.
If you're thinking of jumping to an enthusiast camera, you probably know the difference between a DSLR, a compact and a mirrorless camera. (If you want a refresher, check our 2018 camera guide.) So let's look at some key features for cameras costing $1,000 and up.
4K video: There's no excuse for a camera costing over $1,000 not to have 4K, but luckily, very few lack this feature, and all of those are DSLRs. Notably, both the Nikon D750 and the Canon 6D Mark II full-frame cameras pack only 1080p with 60fps shooting. If you really think you don't need it and never will, only then should you consider such models. If you do, and want the best, only Panasonic's GH5 and GH5s give you more colors and a wider gamut with 10-bit, 4:2:2 4K video.
Phase-detection (PD) autofocus: If you want excellent tracking AF for both video and still photography, phase detection is what you need. Contrast detection systems on Panasonic and other models force the lens to "hunt" back and forth to find the point of highest contrast where the subject is in focus. Phase detection pixels, on the other hand, detect if the images coming from two sides of the lens are identical (in phase), and thus whether the subject is too near or too far, and by how much. It can then drive the lens motors precisely to the focus point without any hunting.
Canon's Dual-Pixel AF is arguably the best overall system, delivering fast and accurate autofocus for video and photos. That's a big reason why Canon cameras are popular with pro video and vlogging shooters, despite the superior video quality of Panasonic models. Sony also offers fast phase-detect autofocus, but it's less accurate, especially in low light. Nikon's phase-detect autofocus, meanwhile, might be the best you can get for still photography.
Full-frame, APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensor? It depends. There's no doubt that full-frame DSLR or mirrorless cameras deliver maximum resolution and the shallowest depth of field, which helps you create the "bokeh" soft focus effect. However, full-frame cameras and lenses are more expensive than other models, and very shallow depth of field makes it harder to keep video subjects in focus.
Mirrorless is where the most interesting cameras live right now, especially in the high-end category. There's something for everyone, including a high-resolution option from Sony (the 42.4-megapixel A7R III), video-oriented cameras (the Panasonic GH5s, Fujifilm X-H1 and Sony A7S II) and extremely fast, small and high-tech models (Sony's A6500).
Sony A7R III
Things change fast in the mirrorless world, and since our recent camera buyer's guide came out, Sony has released the new A7 III. For $2,000, that camera looks great, but the A7R III is still Sony's A7 flagship, and is superior in a few ways even to the $4,500 professional A9. It can shoot 42.4-megapixel RAW images at 10fps, for instance, and handle 4K video with a full sensor readout (albeit in cropped, APS-C mode). What's more, you get excellent light sensitivity (up to 102,400 ISO) and faster-than-ever autofocus with excellent face detection. As for flaws? Sony's menus are awkward compared with rivals like Canon, and a $3,200 camera is not an impulse buy.
If that's too much: Sony's $1,400 A6500, a 24.2-megapixel APS-C mirrorless camera, offers fast, 11fps continuous shooting, and can handle a crazy 307 frames in one burst. It also has 5-axis in-body stabilization and, of course, 4K, 30fps video with a full sensor readout. We'll soon get a look at the $2,000 A7 III, but by all accounts, that model will be easy to recommend, too.
Fujifilm's $1,900 X-H1, announced just last month, is a big leap over the X-T2, especially when it comes to video. It's Fujifilm's first camera with 5-axis in-body stabilization and can shoot photos at 14fps and handle true DCI 4K video (4,096 x 2,160). It has a brand-new, class-leading 3.69-million-dot EVF, excellent handling, thanks to dual dials and a chunky new grip, and a "near-silent" shutter mode. As for drawbacks, it lacks the 10-bit, 4:2:2 video of the like-priced GH5, and is a lot heavier than Sony's A6500.
If that's too much: For a bit less, the $1,600, 24.3-megapixel X-T2 is essentially the predecessor to the X-H1 and offers similar performance and excellent handling, but no image stabilization.
I liked the $2,500 GH5s a lot, but as a video-specific camera, it's hard to recommend it to photographers. The $2,000 GH5, however, does both things well for less money. You can shoot DCI 4K video (and even 6K anamorphic) with 10 bits (billions) of colors and a 4:2:2 gamut, the best specs for a consumer camera. And with a 20.1-megapixel sensor and 12fps shooting speed, it won't limit photographers, either. As for shortcomings, the GH5 has mediocre contrast-detection autofocus and a smallish Micro Four Thirds sensor.
If that's too much: The $1,700, 20.3-megapixel G9 is now Panasonic's flagship photography camera, offering 20fps shooting with continuous autofocus, 5-axis stabilization and, of course, 4K video -- without the GH5's 10-bit color and HDR.
The $3,300 D850 is Nikon's first full-frame 4K camera, but it was worth the wait. With a 45.7-megapixel sensor, it's among the highest-resolution DSLRs on the market, bested only by Canon's 50.6-megapixel, $3,500 5Ds models. That gives the D850 unsurpassed image quality, but you still get decent speed (7fps burst shooting) and an excellent phase-detect autofocus system. The main negatives of the D850 are mediocre 4K video quality, slow and indecisive contrast-detect autofocus in live and video mode and autofocus tracking that's a step below Nikon's (excellent) D5.
If that's too much: Consider Nikon's D7500. For just $1,200, you get excellent image quality from the 20.6-megapixel, DX (APS-C) sensor, decent 8fps shooting speeds and 4K video (with a 1.5X crop of the already-cropped DX sensor). If you don't mind an older camera, Nikon's $1,800 D750 offers a full-frame sensor, fast shooting speeds and great autofocus for nearly half the price of the D850.
Canon 5D Mark IV
Having arrived in 2016, Canon's 5D Mark IV is due for a refresh, but it's still one of the top enthusiast DSLRs on the market. The 30.4-megapixel full-frame sensor with dual-pixel autofocus provides excellent quality for professional portrait or landscape work, and it performs well even at high ISOs. For video, you get 4K with autofocus tracking that's widely considered the best in the business. A big downside for video, however, is the 1.64x crop factor in 4K and lack of a flippable screen for vlogging.
If that's too much: Canon's $1,200 80D offers excellent Dual Pixel autofocus for video and live view, 7fps shooting speeds and, for video shooters, microphone and headphone ports.
Sony Alpha A99 II
Yes, Sony does make a DSLR, albeit one with an SLT translucence mirror that doesn't flip out of the way when you shoot, as on Nikon or Canon DSLRs. The $3,200 A99 II's hybrid-like nature gives it some incredible specs, like a 12 fps shooting speed with eye tracking -- not bad for a camera with 42.2 megapixels of resolution. You also get 5-axis image stabilization, DSLR-like handling and excellent-quality 4K video. On the downside, the autofocus system, especially the subject tracking, doesn't work so well for video, and because of the SLT mirror, the A99 II doesn't perform as well in low light as the A7R II and III models.
If that's too much: Take a look at Sony's aging $1,200 A77 II APS-C SLT camera. It offers equally quick 12fps shooting speeds with 24.3 megapixels of resolution, in-body stabilization and an effective autofocus system.
Fujifilm's compact, fixed-lens cameras have been popular since the original Finepix X100 launched nearly seven years ago. The latest model, the $1,300 X-100F, has refined the formula to a T. You get a 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor (with no low-pass filter), an f/2.0 35mm (full-frame equivalent) lens, more ergonomic button layout and gorgeous looks. All of that comes in a pocketable size, making it an ideal street-photography or vacation camera. There's no 4K video, but it can handle 1080p 60fps shooting, and video is not really the point anyway.
Sony RX10 Mark IV
The 20.1-megapixel RX10 Mark IV with a Type 1 (1-inch) sensor is not pocketable and, at $1,700, ain't cheap either. But it's incredibly fast and versatile for a compact superzoom, with a 24–600mm (full-frame equivalent) f/2.4–f/4 lens and unbelievable 24fps RAW shooting speed. Naturally, it shoots 4K and slow-motion video at up to 960fps (912 x 308). If you can handle its large form factor and price, you'll be able to shoot both landscapes and the look on your kids' faces when they score a goal -- even if you're in the nosebleed section.
Sony RX1R II
For $3,200, the Sony RX1R II is clearly not for everyone. But it's the only compact camera on the market with a full-frame sensor (other than the 24-megapixel, $4,000 Leica Q), and it packs an incredible 42.4 megapixels of resolution. With a 35mm f/2.0 Zeiss lens, retractable 2.4-million-dot OLED viewfinder and 102,400 max ISO, this is aimed at street photographers. As such, unlike with other Sony compacts, you don't get 4K video, and will have to settle for 1080p at 60fps.
Enthusiast cameras do offer it all, but in different doses, depending on what you want. More so than any category, pure photographers might want to focus on DSLRs, while videographers will probably run toward mirrorless cameras. Specs aside, for either category, you'll want to choose a system with autofocus that works best for your needs. Considering the money you'll be spending, it might be best to rent or borrow a camera before buying to ensure that it does what you need.
- HTC's Vive Pro headset is available to pre-order for $799
Once staunch rivals in high-end VR, it now seems Facebook-owned Oculus and HTC are treading different paths. While Oculus is gearing up to launch a more affordable standalone headset, HTC has gone in the opposite direction with the Vive Pro, a new top-of-the range facehugger announced at this year's CES. Today, HTC has revealed the Vive Pro is the antithesis of affordable at $799/£799, and that it's now available to pre-order globally ahead of its April 5th shipping date.
For that significant wad of dough, you're getting higher-res OLED displays with a combined resolution of 2,880 x 1,600, up from the Vive's 2,160 x 1,200. In addition to a sharper image, the headset promises more immersive sound through new built-in headphones with 3D audio and noise cancelling features. The Vive Pro should be more comfortable to wear, too, thanks to a redesigned strap that distributes the weight of the headset more evenly across your noggin -- much like the Deluxe Audio Strap for the original Vive does. The Pro also includes dual, depth-sensing cameras on the front, the full potential of which is yet to be realized.
At $799 for just the headset, the Vive Pro is aimed at consumers wanting to be on the bleeding edge of VR hardware. It works with the existing Vive controllers and base stations for room-scale tracking (SteamVR Tracking versions 1.0 and 2.0 are supported), so no need to double up on peripherals if you already have them at home. If you pick up a Pro before June 3rd, you'll get the added bonus of a free six-month subscription to Viveport (the monthly price of which increases by a coupla bucks in a few days, remember). After this time, as is the current offer, you'll get just two months of all-you-can eat experiences thrown in, as well as the free copy of Fallout 4 VR every customer receives.
The Vive Pro isn't meant to replace the existing Vive headset, but to reflect the fact there's a new generation of hardware in town, the original Vive bundle (which includes controllers, base stations and other accessories) is being reduced by $100 to $499 -- those outside the US will see an equivalent discount in their local currency. When HTC revealed the Pro at CES, it also showed off the Vive wireless adapter, which uses Intel's WiGig tech to free you from the tyranny of tethers. There's no word on when that might be available today, though, so for now you're still tied to your PC even if you believe you're in another world.
- Amazon simplifies gaming competitions and prizes with 'GameOn'
Much as it has with every other retail sector, Amazon has steadily expanded its gaming presence, especially since it purchased Twitch in 2014. Now, it's unveiled a service that will allow it to break into another gaming arena. Built on Amazon's massive AWS cloud infrastructure, GameOn will let developers integrate competitions natively into PC, mobile and console games. Furthermore, it'll allow companies to offer in-game and even real-world prizes that are fulfilled by (wait for it) Amazon.
Amazon, naturally, will profit from this, earning about a third of a cent for every play. Developers can use the APIs for free until May 1st, and the first 35,000 plays per month will be free for a limited time. Physical prizes from Amazon will only be available in the US at launch.
Amazon has been testing GameOn with Millenial eSports' Eden Games, nWay, Mindstorm and other developers in games "ranging from casual to core across different genres," the company said. The APIs allow developers to do matchmaking, leaderboards and in-game tournaments. "GameOn saved us months of development and a whole lot of maintenance and logistical overhead in the long run," said Eden Games CMO Pascal Clarysse.
The service will soon be used in competitions for Beach Buggy Racing 2 and a new Doodle Jump title, Amazon said. "Game developers have consistently told us they are looking for ways to increase player engagement and retention," said Amazon Competitive Gaming Director Marja Koopmans. "We built Amazon GameOn to give developers simple, yet powerful tools to foster community through competitive gameplay."
GameOn is one of Amazon's big announcements for its Amazon Developer Day as part of GDC 2018, which launches today in San Francisco. Lately, Amazon has been heavily promoting -- to developers and players alike -- the idea of competitive gaming that doesn't necessarily rise to the level of eSports.
Many other games and developers like Ubisoft already use Amazon's AWS servers to host multiplayer games and competitions. Amazon has its own studio, Amazon Game Studios and even its own gaming engine, Lumberyard. With GameOn, it's found another way to be involved and further profit from its sprawling cloud infrastructure.
Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!
- LG wants to take webOS beyond TVs with 'Open Source Edition'
WebOS used to power HP's long-dead Palm devices and early tablets, but since LG got a hold of it in 2013, it's mostly been associated with smart TVs and refrigerators. LG is hoping to push the the platform beyond that, however, with a new release called webOS Open Source Edition. As the illustration above shows, it's hoping developers will adopt it for devices like tablets, set-top boxes and (I think) robots.
Since the acquisition, LG has refined the platform significantly, and hopes that the new release will help others exploit it. "When LG adopted webOS for our popular smart TV lineup in 2013, it did so with the knowledge that webOS had tremendous potential," said LG's CTO Dr. I.P. Park. "webOS has come a long way since then and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs."
webOS is LG's answer to Samsung's Tizen: An in-house, open-source OS that it can use as a hedge against Android's gorilla-like dominance. Samsung has ported Tizen to more devices, however, including robotic vacuums, smartwatches and Blu-ray players. (It's not to be confused with another open-source version of webOS, OpenWebOS, which became LuneOS for mobile devices in 2014.)
LG said that developers needn't fear webOS, as it's familiar "Linux-kernel-based multitasking OS with support for HTML5 and CSS3." Developers can get the source code at http://webosose.org, along with other tools and guides. The company will work with South Korea's National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), solicit business proposals and "provide logistical and technical support with commercialization as the ultimate goal." Provided it can find developers brave enough to bite on a little-used OS, of course.
- Google plans to boost Amazon competitors in search shopping ads (updated)
Google may be assembling a supergroup of big retail brands to go to war with Amazon over the future of online shopping. Reuters is reporting that the search engine is teaming up with Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco and Ulta for the new project. These companies, and any other willing participants, can index their catalogs on Google, which will show up when someone starts searching for stuff to buy. Naturally, rather than receiving an ad fee, Google simply gets a cut of the sales that are subsequently generated. This program is an extension of the existing Google Shopping ads that show up when you search for a product -- they're separate from the organic search listings, instead showing up in a dedicated shopping sidebar.
The report claims that Google is selling its new anti-Amazon tools on the basis that it is utterly dominant in the search world. Not to mention that, as voice becomes a more important component of people's lives, Google's reach here will help beat back Alexa. The project's genesis was reportedly down to the company noticing that people were image searching products, or asking where they could buy an item. And it wasn't small numbers of folks, either, but tens of million of people, a big enough market to make anyone excited.
Right now, many searches begin with Google, but likely end up in Amazon, elbowing out more traditional retailers in the brick-and-mortar world. The hope is that, by getting their results embedded into Google, the traditional retailers can steal back some of those customers it has been losing. Google Express, another shopping project, has already demonstrated the benefits, with retailers seeing basket sizes increasing by 30 percent. Given the growing argy-bargy between Amazon and Google, you can only expect this sort of sniping to get worse, rather than better.
Update 3/19/18 10:41AM ET: And it's official. Google made the announcement on its AdWords blog this morning, detailing an initiative called Shopping Actions. Through this feature, retailers can leverage a "universal cart" that allows customers to easily shop across mobile, desktop and voice-controlled devices. Basically, Google says this will make it much easier for you to shop by voice or with a phone/computer from a number of stores. The program can also remember your preferences and loyalty account status to provide recommendations in the future.
- The Morning After: Facebook exploited, useless Japanese gadgets
Good morning there! A new week starts, and we're headed to GDC: the biggest game development event out there. At the same time, we're embarrassing ourselves with chindogu, as seen above. Also: You've heard of Fortnite right? Where did it come from? And can I play with Drake?
From beta to record breaker.
The rise and rise (and rise) of 'Fortnite'
It's safe to say that when a video game that counts Drake among its fans and has breakfast TV shows around the world discussing its effect on younger players, it has truly made it. No, we're not talking about Grand Theft Auto, but Fortnite, Epic Games' mass-multiplayer shooter that has more than 40 million players across consoles and PC, and continues to grow at a rapid pace.
When Fortnite launched as a paid Early Access game in July 2017, it was solely as a player vs. environment experience, but that was just the start. Here's how it climbed its way to megahit.
The UK's biggest sushi chain re-acquaints us with the word 'chindogu'.Postmodern dining with the Japanese art of useless gadgets
The Japanese word "chindogu" covers a delightful range of terrible gadgets. It's about vaguely genius concepts, ruined either in their execution or ambition. If you've seen the baby-floor-mop onesie or the upside-down umbrella for capturing rainwater, you've seen a chindogu. Yo Sushi, wanted to celebrate this ridiculous facet of Japanese culture, and invited Engadget's Mat Smith to embarrass himself through a selection of crapgadgets and tasting dishes. Here are the GIFs that matter.
Using data harvested from 50 million profiles.
Whistleblower explains how Cambridge Analytica 'exploited' Facebook
Last night Facebook announced bans against Cambridge Analytica, its parent company and several individuals for allegedly sharing and keeping data that they had promised to delete. This data reportedly included information siphoned from hundreds of thousands of Amazon Mechanical Turkers that collected data from about 50 million accounts. That data reportedly turned into information used by the likes of Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon and the Donald Trump campaign for social media messaging and "micro-targeting" individuals based on shared characteristics. Now, the FTC might have to get involved.
But wait, there's more... NASA's portable antennas help bring space data back to Earth Nissan's electric SUV concept will enter production Apple reportedly invests in its own MicroLED screens
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- Japan's latest supercomputer is dedicated to nuclear fusion
This year, Japan will deploy a Cray XC50 that will be the world's most powerful supercomputer in the field of advanced nuclear fusion research. It will be installed at the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science (QST) and used for local nuclear fusion science and to support ITER, the massive multinational fusion project scheduled to come online in 2035.
QST's system, which has yet to be named, won't even be the top Cray XC50 system (that honor is held by the Swiss National Supercomputing Center's "Piz Daint"). It will crack the top 30, however and, as mentioned, be the fastest fusion research supercomputer.
Over 1,000 European and Japanese researchers will get access to the system, which is optimized for plasma physics and fusion energy calculations. "The speed and integrated software environment of the Cray XC50 will enhance QST's infrastructure and allow researchers to speed time to discovery," said Cray Japan's Mamoru Nakano.
ITER is still a long way from even running, let alone heralding a breakthrough that will pave the way to commercial fusion reactors. Though it won't be fully finished until 2035, scientists hope to start running experiments by 2025. Once commercial fusion reactors come online, they'll be able to supply humanity with unlimited energy for potentially millions of years.
Recently, MIT announced that it would work on its own fusion project with the aim of bringing a 200 megawatt reactor online by the year 2033. It plans to use newly available superconducting materials and technology that can create magnetic fields four times stronger than any in use now. Such powerful magnetic fields are required to keep the explosive nuclear fusion reactions contained.
- Postmodern dining with the Japanese art of useless gadgets
The Japanese word "chindogu" covers a delightful range of terrible gadgets. It's about vaguely genius concepts, ruined either in their execution or ambition. If you've seen the baby-floor-mop onesie or the upside-down umbrella for capturing rainwater, you've seen a chindogu. Yo Sushi, arguably the UK's biggest sushi chain, wanted to celebrate this ridiculous facet of Japanese culture, and invited me to embarrass myself through a selection of crapgadgets and tasting dishes.
It's a (USB-chargeable!) accessory for your chopsticks. With two propellers, it adds the gentle breeze of a handheld electric fan from your childhood.. to your food. I liked the 3D-printed finish to the gadget -- it kinda added a modern flourish to something that peaked in the '90s. So what's the aim here? No more piping-hot noodles. The problem: it's hard to handle chopsticks when one has suddenly tripled its weight. Also, by about halfway through my meal, the noodle soup had dipped below lukewarm temperature.
It's a strong, unashamedly chindogu-esque start.
Noodle Splash Guard
This plastic sleeve is meant to keep your crisp white salaryman shirt pristine. Protecting against ramen splashback, the concave collar protects as much as it embarrasses. No wait, it embarrasses way more.
Slurping, contained.Jamie Rigg, Engadget
The uselessness this time stems from the shortness of the guard: Any splash from your mouth might be captured, but dangly noodles remain a real threat to your wardrobe. Also, why does my forehead need the same protection? I've seen this chindogu before — but besides acknowledging who wore it best, it fits with the tenets: According to the Chindogu Society's official site, there're ten of them. "Chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world. They are not therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned."
Now this is borderline innovative: Wasabi applied in the same way you'd use a glue stick. A quick dab on my plate of salmon nigiri sushi and I was ready to inhale them. It also offered a bit more control on how much I added, as chopsticks usually end up adding only a tiny amount. There is a question of reusability. Not sure that I want to be using this after it's been applied to untold pieces of raw fish. In that way, it satisfies tenet no. 3. It has, indeed, "broken free from the chains of usefulness."
That's toilet paper. Orange, yes, but nonetheless TP. Beside the "napkin" function that's meant to go with a pumpkin tonkatsu curry dish, there're definitely applications for this involving allergies or weepy movies.
It's peak chindogu for me: As soon as some paper rolls down, my vision is obscured almost entirely, pretty much a sure-fire way for me to make mess and need said napkins. This is also definitely more embarrassing than the splash guard.
Yo Sushi knows its chindogu range is just, well, stupid, and is embracing the foolishness at two branches in London, and another one in Newcastle. Chindogu never really disappeared in Japan: check out Thanko if you're in the market for something that is a borderline functional chindogu.
I can't deny that does add a touch of fun to dining. Yo Sushi is fielding the gadget for a week, and customers will get a specific 'tool' if they order certain dishes. You won't be able to take the chindogu home with you afterwards however -- or even buy one. Which, in nice way, reaffirms their status. As the fifth tenet of the Chindogu society says: "They must not even be sold. Even as a joke."
Jamie Rigg contributed to this report.
- Samsung will drop its mobile movie editor when Android P arrives
Samsung phones have long had a built-in Movie Maker app that lets you spice up your clips -- helpful if you'd rather not hunt down a third-party app just to do more than trim your footage. However, you'll soon have to kiss it goodbye. The latest version of Movie Maker is warning users that the app will "no longer be provided" when the Android P update arrives. That could take a long while (the stock Android P release likely won't be ready until late summer, let alone Samsung's version), but you won't want to dilly dally. Samsung is warning that it'll delete all projects at that point, so you'll want to save finished videos before the cutoff.
It's not certain just why Samsung is ditching Movie Maker or what will happen in the aftermath. Is this due to a lack of popularity, a compatibility issue, an expectation of a replacement (whether from itself or Google) or something else entirely? Samsung has been accused of offering needlessly duplicative apps on its Galaxy phones in the past, but you can't argue the same for Movie Maker when Android's current built-in video editing is basic at best. This may be an acknowledgment that bundled movie editors aren't as appealing in an era when you're more likely posting a raw clip to Instagram than producing a magnum opus you'll watch on a big screen.
Source: Android Police, APK Mirror
- Apple reportedly invests in its own MicroLED screens
Apple quietly acquired a company called LuxVue in 2014 that was working on low-power MicroLED display technology. A report by The Wall modular television built with MicroLED in August.
The rumor claims that Apple made its first Apple Watch MicroLED prototype last year, and the device has previously been reported as an initial target for the technology. The "T159" project where engineers are working on design and production is reportedly done inside a large manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, as it works on a way to replace technology designed by competitors like Samsung and LG. Just like the custom-designed processors used in its mobile devices, Apple would still likely have others build the actual displays, but if it's first to MicroLED then it could offer another level of quality (and power-efficiency) than anyone else can provide.
- NASA's portable antennas help bring space data back to Earth
Spacecraft don't usually have much flexibility when it comes to sending data back to Earth: they either have to venture within range of a dedicated ground station or offload it by returning to the planet. NASA may soon have a more flexible option: it's testing a portable space communications system from ATLAS Space Operations. ATLAS Links is a mobile structure whose four-antenna system is not only relatively light (each antenna is less than 10lbs), but can be set up within minutes. If researchers wanted to grab scientific findings or perform a status check, they could roll out a Links station when and where they need it.
The system only needs power and internet access, and can handle multiple spacecraft at a time -- handy for cubesats and other small satellites that might fly in packs.
ATLAS Links will be stuck in the lab for a while, but there are promises of future "shadow" missions where the antennas operate alongside regular stations connected to NASA's Near Earth Network. If all goes smoothly, these antennas could supplement spaceflights and even serve as backups should the worst happen and a fixed station goes down. Mission crews wouldn't have to endure lengthy silences before finding out whether a spacecraft has collected the info they need... or whether or not it's still alive.
- Tinder's parent company sues Bumble over patents
It's no secret that Tinder (or rather, its parent company Match Group) and Bumble are arch-rivals in the swipe-right dating app space, and that battle just escalated. Match Group has sued Bumble for allegedly violating two patents, one for the "ornamental" look of its app and another for the all-important swipe-based system. The Match team wasn't exactly subtle about its claims -- it asserted that Bumble (founded by former Tinder execs) explicitly copied Tinder's core formula with subtle variations on the same interface elements. However, the motivations behind the lawsuit might not be so clear cut.
Match said in a statement that the suit was necessary for "protecting the intellectual property" of its business. However, TechCrunch sources had noted that Bumble turned down Match's offers to buy the company in summer 2017. And when a Recode contact understood that Match was still interested in acquiring Bumble, it's not hard to see the lawsuit as a pressure tactic to make Bumble accept a buyout offer it would otherwise reject. If it doesn't give in, it might have to pay steep damages and change the core functionality of its app.
We've asked Bumble if it can comment on the lawsuit. It's unquestionably in a tight spot, however. The company was created by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe, who sued the company over sexual harassment and alleged that she lost her title because of the CMO's belief that a "young female" founder hurt Tinder's credibility. It's understandable why she would be reluctant to accept a buyout from the very company she was determined to escape. At the same time, it's evident that Match could make life miserable for Bumble if it insists on remaining independent. There's no easy solution, and Bumble may have to compromise on some level (whether independence or cash) to remain a fixture in the dating app scene.
Via: The Verge
- AR firm Avegant cuts half its workforce and picks new CEO
Avegant has drawn a lot of attention in the wearable world between its Glyph personal screen and its light-field augmented reality headset, but it's facing uncertain times. The Verge has learned that the startup cut more than half of its workforce (it's now down to "fewer than 20" workers) and has replaced CEO Joerg Tewes with co-founder Ed Tang. Most of those left are involved in research and technology partnership, according to the insiders.
Tang wouldn't comment on the layoff or Tewes' departure, but did confirm his new role. He also suggested that the move didn't hint that Avegant's future was in doubt. Its goal remains the same, he said, and it's about to close a $10 million funding round that would help it fulfill its AR ambitions.
The remarks are consistent with Avegant's strategy so far. It's not interested in directly selling its own AR headsets, but rather on offering its technology to hardware partners. The remaining team should still help toward that end. However, such a drastic shakeup indicates that it won't be easy going for the wearable tech company, at least not in the near future.
Source: Edward Tang (LinkedIn), The Verge
- Facebook may have broken FTC deal in Cambridge Analytica incident
Facebook may face more legal trouble than you might think in the wake of Cambridge Analytica's large-scale data harvesting. Former US officials David Vladeck and Jessica Rich have told the Washington Post that Facebook's data sharing may violate the FTC consent decree requiring that it both ask for permission before sharing data and report any authorized access. The "Thisisyourdigitallife" app at the heart of the affair asked for permission from those who directly used it, but not the millions of Facebook friends whose data was taken in the process.
Facebook, for its part, said that it "reject[s] any suggestion" that it violated the consent decree. It maintained that it "respected" users' privacy settings.
If the FTC did find violations, Facebook could be on the hook for some very hefty fines -- albeit fines that aren't likely to be as hefty as possible. The decree asks for fines as large as $40,000 per person, but that would amount to roughly $2 trillion. Regulators like the FTC historically push for fines they know companies can pay, which would suggest fines that are 'just' in the billion-dollar range. Given that there are already multiple American and European investigations underway, any financial penalty would be just one piece of a larger puzzle.
The possibility of FTC action comes right as there are complaints about Facebook's response to Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who blew open the data sharing scandal. His attorney, Tamsin Allen, has stated that Facebook took a two-faced approach to Wylie's revelations. It "privately welcomed" Wylie's help, Allen said, but publicly suspended his account and criticized him. That was indicative of a company focused more on "damage limitation" than sincerely addressing the problem at hand, according to the attorney. We've asked Facebook for its response, but the accusations certainly don't help its case.
Cambridge Analytica has tried to distance itself from the incident, claiming that Wylie was a contractor rather than a founder and that it was a partner, Global Science Research, that had harvested users' data. The company said it purged the data when it had learned that GSR sold data to outside parties.
Source: Washington Post
- US Navy launches submarine with gamepad-guided periscope
The Navy's fourth USS Colorado attack submarine has recently gone into service with an Xbox controller onboard. No, not so sailors can play Overwatch: they'll actually be using the gaming device to steer the vehicle's two photonics masts, which you can think of as high-tech replacements for typical periscopes. The masts don't require periscope tubes to work and rely on high-res cameras to capture images to display on a big screen instead. When the military first announced that it's using an Xbox controller on the Colorado, it said the device was replacing the joystick and control panel Lockheed Martin originally designed for the sensors.
The original controls would've cost the Navy around $38,000, which is a ton of money to spend on a system that sailors found clunky and difficult to use. So, Lockheed Martin subbed them with controllers during the trial phase and found that operators were able to figure out how to maneuver the high-tech periscopes using the devices within just a few minutes. The Navy now doesn't have to spend extra for training -- and controllers only cost $30 a pop.
Now that the Colorado is an official naval asset, the US Navy will be using the 377-foot-long sub to conduct surveillance and to fight off enemy submarines and surface ships. It's the only attack submarine that uses an Xbox controller right now, but it won't be the last: the Navy plans to equip all modernized Virginia-class subs with one in the future.
- Twitter may be the next to ban cryptocurrency ads
Twitter may soon join Facebook and Google in cracking down on ads for cryptocurrency-related products. Sky sources have claimed the social network will institute worldwide ban against ads for initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency wallets and token sales within the next two weeks. It might also ban ads for cryptocurrency exchanges with "some limited exceptions," according to the apparent leak.
The company told Engadget it had no comment at the moment.
While the tipsters didn't provide Twitter's exact reasoning, it's likely to be the same as for the site's peers: it doesn't want to knowingly put users at risk. Many ICOs and token sales have uncertain prospects, and in the worst cases are take-the-money-and-run scams. Meld that with the threat of hackers and there's a real chance investors will lose money, with little recourse if things go sour. More regulations are likely coming, but that's not much comfort to Twitter, Google and others who face pressure to protect their users while the crypto market remains a wild frontier.
- Coca-Cola and US government use blockchain to curb forced labor
The quest to end forced labor has created some unusual technological allies. Coca-Cola, the US State Department and a trio of crypto organizations (Bitfury Group, Blockchain Trust Accelerator and Emercoin) have launched a pilot project that will use blockchain to enforce worker rights. The initiative would use blockchain's distributed ledger technology to create a secure, decentralized registry for workers and their contracts. They'd not only have the sort of identification that isn't always guaranteed, but a trail of evidence in case employers abuse their power or don't honor their end of a bargain.
Coca-Cola is playing a major role as part of a pledge to conduct 28 national studies on labor and land rights for its sugar supply chains before 2020. Ideally, this tackles complaints that it and similar companies fail to protect workers' rights at every step. The State Department will offer its experience with labor protection, while Bitfury Group and Emercoin are producing the blockchain platform itself. Blockchain Trust Accelerator is a non-profit aiming to use its namesake tech for social good.
The pilot already has its limits. Blockchain can persuade companies and governments to respect work contracts, but it can't make them respect those contracts. Also, blockchain's digital nature raises some implementation questions: how do you ensure that workers can access their info when many of those affected might not even have a smartphone? The project is still young, however, and this could still represent an improvement over a modern employment system that frequently lets companies abuse workers with relatively little consequence.
- Microsoft to force Mail links to open in Edge
For Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring, we will begin testing a change where links clicked on within the Windows Mail app will open in Microsoft Edge, which provides the best, most secure and consistent experience on Windows 10 and across your devices. With built-in features for reading, note-taking, Cortana integration, and easy access to services such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft Edge enables you to be more productive, organized and creative without sacrificing your battery life or security. I'm one of those weird people who actually really like the default Windows 10 Mail application, but if this absolutely desperate, user-hostile move - which ignores any default browser setting - makes it into any definitive Windows 10 release, I won't be able to use it anymore. As always, we look forward to feedback from our WIP community. Oh you'll get something to look forward to alright.
- iOS 11 bugs are so common they now appear in Apple ads
If you blink during Apple‚¬Ä¬ôs latest iPhone ad, you might miss a weird little animation bug. It‚¬Ä¬ôs right at the end of a slickly produced commercial, where the text from an iMessage escapes the animated bubble it‚¬Ä¬ôs supposed to stay inside. It‚¬Ä¬ôs a minor issue and easy to brush off, but the fact it‚¬Ä¬ôs captured in such a high profile ad just further highlights Apple‚¬Ä¬ôs many bugs in iOS 11. The fact Apple's marketing department signed off on this ad with such a bug in it is baffling.
- Google renames Android Wear to Wear OS
As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we‚¬Ä¬ôre announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all - the people who wear our watches. We‚¬Ä¬ôre now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone. If a company changes the name of one of its operating system, but nobody cares - has the name really been changed?
- The Amiga Consciousness
There exists a global community, a loosely knit consciousness of individuals that crosses boundaries of language and artistic disciplines. It resides in both the online and physical space, its followers are dedicated, if not fervent. The object and to some extent, philosophy that unites these adherents, is a computer system called the Commodore Amiga. So why does a machine made by a company that went bankrupt in 1994 have a cult like following? Throughout this essay I will present to you, the reader, a study of qualitative data that has been collected at community events, social gatherings and conversations. The resulting narrative is intended to illuminate the origins of the community, how it is structured and how members participate in it. Game industry professionals, such as the person interviewed during the research for this paper, will attest to the properties, characteristics and creative application of the machine, and how this creativity plays a role in the sphere of their community. I will examine the bonds of the society, to determine if the creative linage of the computer plays a role in community interactions. The Amiga community is probably one of the most fascinating technology subcommunity out there. Lots of infighting, various competing Amiga operating systems, incredibly expensive but still outdated hardware, dubious ownership situations - it's all there. Yet, they keep going, they keep pushing out new software and new hardware, and they're in no danger of falling apart. Amazing.
- A $1.6 billion Spotify lawsuit is based on player pianos
Spotify is finally gearing up to go public, and the company‚¬Ä¬ôs February 28th filing with the SEC offers a detailed look at its finances. More than a decade after Spotify‚¬Ä¬ôs launch in 2006, the world‚¬Ä¬ôs leading music streaming service is still struggling to turn a profit, reporting a net loss of nearly $1.5 billion last year. Meanwhile, the company has some weird lawsuits hanging over its head, the most eye-popping being the $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Wixen Publishing, a music publishing company that includes the likes of Tom Petty, The Doors, and Rage Against the Machine. So, what happened here? Did Spotify really fail to pay artists to the tune of a billion dollars all the while losing money? Is digital streaming just a black hole that sucks up money and spits it out into the cold vacuum of space? The answer is complicated. The answer involves something called "player pianos". You can't make this stuff up.
- Security researchers publish Ryzen flaws
Through the advent of Meltdown and Spectre, there is a heightened element of nervousness around potential security flaws in modern high-performance processors, especially those that deal with the core and critical components of company business and international infrastructure. Today, CTS-Labs, a security company based in Israel, has published a whitepaper identifying four classes of potential vulnerabilities of the Ryzen, EPYC, Ryzen Pro, and Ryzen Mobile processor lines. AMD is in the process of responding to the claims, but was only given 24 hours of notice rather than the typical 90 days for standard vulnerability disclosure. No official reason was given for the shortened time. Nothing in technology is safe. As always, my advice is to treat any data on a phone or computer as potentially compromisable.
- Trump blocks Broadcom's bid for Qualcomm
President Trump on Monday blocked Broadcom's $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns and sending a clear signal that he was willing to take extraordinary measures to promote his administration‚¬Ä¬ôs increasingly protectionist stance. In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said "credible evidence" had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States." The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history. This US administration would eventually stumble onto doing the right thing - infinite monkeys and all that - so here we are. To explain why this is a good move, Ben Thompson's article about this issue is a fantastic, must-read explainer. There is a certain amount of irony here: the government is intervening in the private market to stop the sale of a company that is being bought because of government-granted monopolies. Sadly, I doubt it will occur to anyone in government to fix the problem at its root, and Qualcomm would be the first to fight against the precise measures - patent overhaul - that would do more than anything to ensure the company remains independent and incentivized to spend even more on innovation, because its future would depend on innovation to a much greater degree than it does now. The reality is that technology has flipped the entire argument for patents - that they spur innovation - completely on its head. The very nature of technology - that costs are fixed and best maximized over huge user-bases, along with the presence of network effects - mean there are greater returns to innovation than ever before. The removal of most technology patents would not reduce the incentive to innovate; indeed, given that a huge number of software patents in particular are violated on accident (unsurprising, given that software is ultimately math), their removal would spur more. And, as Qualcomm demonstrates, one could even argue such a shift would be good for national security.
- Looking at Lumina Desktop 2.0
TrueOS, formerly PC-BSD, has a desktop environment called Lumina. It's getting a big overhaul for Lumina 2.0, and this short interview gives some more details about what's coming. With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself. [...] The entire graphical interface has been written in QML in order to fully-utilize hardware-based GPU acceleration with OpenGL while the backend logic and management systems are still written entirely in C++. This results in blazing fast performance on the backend systems (myriad multi-threaded C++ objects) as well as a smooth and responsive graphical interface with all the bells and whistles (drag and drop, compositing, shading, etc).
- New guts bring new processors, DDR4, USB3 to old ThinkPads
We often see people funneling their passion into keeping beloved devices in operation long past their manufacturer‚¬Ä¬ôs intent. These replacement Thinkpad motherboards [Chinese] bring old (yet beloved) Thinkpads a much desired processor upgrade. This is the work of the user [HOPE] on the enthusiast forum 51nb. The hack exemplifies what happens when that passion for legendary gear hits deep electrical expertise and available manufacturing. This isn‚¬Ä¬ôt your regular laptop refurbishment, [HOPE] is building something new. This is incredible. I wish someone could do this with an iBook G4 or a 12.1" PowerBook.
- Google releases first Android P preview
Google has released the first preview for Android P - again, apologies for the late coverage - and it contains some interesting improvements. Here's a few things that jumped out at me: To better ensure privacy, Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle. While your app's UID is idle, the mic reports empty audio and sensors stop reporting events. Cameras used by your app are disconnected and will generate an error if the app tries to use them. In most cases, these restrictions should not introduce new issues for existing apps, but we recommend removing these requests from your apps. This is a very good move, and I doubt anyone will have any objections. In line with these changes, Android P will warn users with a dialog when they install an app that targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2 (targetSdkVersion less than 17), and future platform versions will continue to increment that lower bound. Expect scary warning dialogs when installing older applications. This should encourage developers to update their applications as users complain in the review sections of the Play Store. Hopefully. You can now access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras on devices running Android P. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision. The API also lets you call a logical or fused camera stream that automatically switches between two or more cameras. Definitely neat. There's a lot more stuff in this preview release, and more features will certainly follow over the coming months.
- A lot can happen in a decade
I came down with a nasty cold last week and this weekend, so I'm a bit behind on some of the stories that made the rounds last week. In other words, forgive the tardiness here. Whether you‚¬Ä¬ôre a developer who's working on mobile apps, or just someone enjoying the millions of apps available for your phone, today is a very special day. It's the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK. I don't think it's an understatement to say that this release changed a lot of people's lives. I know it changed mine and had a fundamental impact on this company's business. So let's take a moment and look back on what happened a decade ago. The smartphone revolution - caused by the iPhone - came in two big waves, in my view; the iPhone itself, and, followed a year or so later, by the release of the iPhone SDK. It's easy to forget just how limited the original iPhone really was in terms of software, and I honestly doubt it would've been as big of a hit had it not been for the SDK.
- Genode 18.02 introduces Sculpt OS
The just released version 18.02 of the Genode OS Framework features the first version of Sculpt, which is a Genode-based general-purpose operating system. To our knowledge, it is the first usable open-source general-purpose OS that facilitates capability-based security from the ground up. Being currently targeted at users that are close to the project, this initial version is named Sculpt for Early Adopters (EA). It is accompanied with detailed documentation that covers everything needed to install Sculpt on a real machine. The topics include the creation of the boot image, disk preparation, wireless networking, storage, software installation and deployment, and virtualization. Along the way, many concepts that are unique to Genode are explained. Without any doubt, most topics of Genode 18.02 were motivated by the work on Sculpt. Most importantly, the release introduces new infrastructure for installing, updating, and deploying software from within a running Genode system. The underlying concepts are very much inspired by Git and the Nix package manager, enabling the installation of multiple software versions side by side, or the ability to roll back the installation to an earlier state. Also the on-target tooling breaks with the traditional notion of package management. Instead of executing package-management steps with vast privileges, each single step, for example extracting downloaded content, is executed in a dedicated sandbox. Besides Sculpt, the Genode release 18.02 also includes many other noteworthy improvements. E.g., the user-level networking stack received a lot of attention, the Nim programming language can now be used for implementing Genode services, there are new tracing facilities, and improved drivers support for NXP i.MX hardware. Furthermore, many 3rd-party software packages received updates. All the improvements are covered by the detailed release documentation.
- Microsoft adds new Windows 10 privacy controls
Microsoft is once again tackling privacy concerns around Windows 10 today. The software giant is releasing a new test build of Windows 10 to Windows Insiders today that includes changes to the privacy controls for the operating system. While most privacy settings have been confined to a single screen with multiple options, Microsoft is testing a variety of ways that will soon change. There have been some concerns that Windows 10 has a built-in ‚¬Ä¬úkeylogger,‚¬Ä¬Ě because the operating system uses typing data to improve autocompletion, next word prediction, and spelling correction. Microsoft‚¬Ä¬ôs upcoming spring update for Windows 10 will introduce a separate screen to enable improved inking and typing recognition, and allow users to opt-out of sending inking and typing data to Microsoft. I doubt any of these changes will reassure people who refuse to use Windows because of privacy concerns.
- Clang is now used to build Chrome for Windows
As of Chrome 64, Chrome for Windows is compiled with Clang. We now use Clang to build Chrome for all platforms it runs on: macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows. Windows is the platform with the second most Chrome users after Android according to statcounter, which made this switch particularly exciting.
- History of the browser user-agent string
In the beginning there was NCSA Mosaic, and Mosaic called itself NCSA_Mosaic/2.0 (Windows 3.1), and Mosaic displayed pictures along with text, and there was much rejoicing. I've always wondered why every user agent string starts with Mozilla, and now I know. Fun read, too.
- diff -u: Intel Design Flaw Fallout
For weeks, the world's been talking about severe Intel design flaws affecting many CPUs and forcing operating systems to look for sometimes costly workarounds.
- Weekend Reading: All Things Bash
Bash is a shell and command language. It is distributed widely as the default login shell for most Linux distributions. We've rounded up some of the most popular Bash-related articles for your weekend reading.
- Security: 17 Things
A list for protecting yourself and others from the most common and easiest-to-pull-off security crimes.
- Oracle Patches Spectre for Red Hat
Red Hat's Spectre remediation currently requires new microcode for a complete fix, which leaves most x86 processors vulnerable as they lack this update. Oracle has released new retpoline kernels which completely remediate Meltdown and Spectre on all compatible CPUs, which I install and test on CentOS here.
- Best Laptop
What's the favorite LJ reader laptop?
The top three winners are:
- Extended File Attributes Rock!
Worldwide, data is growing at a tremendous rate. However, one recent study has pointed out that the size of files is not necessarily growing at the same rate; meaning the number of files is growing rapidly. How do we manage all of this data and files? While the answer to that question is complex, one place we can start is with Extended File Attributes. Continue reading í
- Checksumming Files to Find Bit-Rot
In a previous article extended file attributes were presented. These are additional bits of metadata that are tied to the file and can be used in a variety of ways. One of these ways is to add checksums to the file so that corrupted data can be detected. Let's take a look at how we can do this including some simple Python examples. Continue reading í
- What’s an inode?
As you might have noticed, we love talking about file systems. In these discussions the term "inode" is often thrown about. But what is an inode and how does it relate to a file system? Glad you asked. Continue reading í
- Emailing HPC
Email is not unlike MPI. The similarities may help non-geeks understand parallel computers a little better. Continue reading í
- iotop: Per Process I/O Usage
Based on a reader comment, we take iotop for a spin to see if it can be used for monitoring the IO usage of individual processes on a system. The result? It has some interesting capability that we haven't found in other tools. Continue reading í
- SandForce 1222 SSD Testing, Part 3: Detailed Throughput Analysis
Our last two articles have presented an initial performance examination of a consumer SandForce based SSD from a throughput and IOPS perspective. In this article we dive deeper into the throughput performance of the drive, along with a comparison to an Intel X-25E SSD. I think you will be surprised at what is discovered. Continue reading í
- Putting Drupal to Work
Drupal is a simple but powerful CMS. However, you'll probably want to configure it. Learn how to tweak Drupal's settings to your liking. Continue reading í
- SandForce 1222 SSD Testing – Part 2: Initial IOPS Results
SandForce has developed a very interesting and unique SSD controller that uses real-time data compression. This affects data throughput and SSD longevity. In this article, we perform an initial examination of the IOPS performance of a SandForce 1222-based SSD. The results can be pretty amazing. Continue reading í
- Drupal at Warp Speed
Need to setup Drupal CMS but don't have the time to learn how? Try this 30 minute quick start guide. Continue reading í
- Chasing The Number
The Top500 list is a valuable measure of HPC progress, but the race it has spawned maybe over for many organizations Continue reading í
- Stick a Fork in Flock: Why it Failed
This probably won't come as a surprise to many, but the "social Web browser" has thrown in the towel. Don't cry for the Flock team - they're flying the coop for Zynga to go make Facebook games or something. But Flock's loyal fans are out in the cold. Why'd Flock fail? There's a few lessons to be learned. Continue reading í