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- Debian: DSA-4090-1: wordpress security update
LinuxSecurity.com: Several vulnerabilities were discovered in Wordpress, a web blogging tool. They allowed remote attackers to perform SQL injections and various Cross-Side Scripting (XSS) and Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF) attacks, as well as bypass some access restrictions.
- RedHat: RHSA-2018-0093:01 Important: microcode_ctl security update
LinuxSecurity.com: An update for microcode_ctl is now available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2 Advanced Update Support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4 Advanced Update Support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 Advanced Update Support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 Advanced Update Support, Red
- RedHat: RHSA-2018-0094:01 Important: linux-firmware security update
LinuxSecurity.com: An update for linux-firmware is now available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 Advanced Update Support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 Telco Extended Update Support, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 Update Services for SAP Solutions, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3
- Debian: DSA-4089-1: bind9 security update
LinuxSecurity.com: Jayachandran Palanisamy of Cygate AB reported that BIND, a DNS server implementation, was improperly sequencing cleanup operations, leading in some cases to a use-after-free error, triggering an assertion failure and crash in named.
- Debian LTS: DLA-1243-1: xbmc security update
LinuxSecurity.com: The Check Point Research Team discovered that the XBMC media center allows arbitrary file write when a malicious subtitle file is downloaded in zip format. This update requires the new dependency libboost-regex1.49.
- [$] Monitoring with Prometheus 2.0
Prometheus is a monitoring toolbuilt from scratch by SoundCloud in 2012. It works by pulling metrics frommonitored services and storing them in a time series database (TSDB). Ithas a powerful query language to inspect that database, create alerts, andplot basic graphs. Those graphs can then be used to detect anomalies ortrends for (possibly automated) resource provisioning. Prometheus also hasextensive service discovery features and supports high availabilityconfigurations.That's what the brochure says, anyway; let's see how it works in the handsof an old grumpy system administrator. I'll be drawing comparisonswith Munin and Nagios frequently because those are the tools I haveused for over a decade in monitoring Unix clusters.
- Four stable kernels
Greg Kroah-Hartman has released stable kernels 4.14.14, 4.9.77, 4.4.112, and 3.18.92. All of them contain important fixesand users should upgrade.
- Security updates for Wednesday
Security updates have been issued by Debian (bind9, wordpress, and xbmc), Fedora (awstats, docker, gifsicle, irssi, microcode_ctl, mupdf, nasm, osc, osc-source_validator, and php), Gentoo (newsbeuter, poppler, and rsync), Mageia (gifsicle), Red Hat (linux-firmware and microcode_ctl), Scientific Linux (linux-firmware and microcode_ctl), SUSE (kernel and openssl), and Ubuntu (bind9, eglibc, glibc, and transmission).
- [$] A survey of some free fuzzing tools
Many techniques in software security are complicated and require a deepunderstanding of the internal workings of the computer and the software undertest. Some techniques, though, are conceptually simple and do not rely onknowledge of the underlying software. Fuzzing is a useful example: running aprogram with a wide variety of junk input and seeing if it does anythingabnormal or interesting, like crashing. Though it might seem unsophisticated,fuzzing is extremely helpful in finding the parsing and input processingproblems that are often the beginning of a security vulnerability.
- Analyzing the Linux boot process (opensource.com)
Alison Chaiken looksin detail at how the kernel boots on opensource.com."Besides starting buggy spyware, what function does early bootfirmware serve? The job of a bootloader is to make available to a newlypowered processor the resources it needs to run a general-purpose operatingsystem like Linux. At power-on, there not only is no virtual memory, but noDRAM until its controller is brought up."
- [$] Deadline scheduling part 1 — overview and theory
The deadline scheduler enables the user to specify a realtime task'srequirements using well-defined realtime abstractions, allowing the system to makethe best scheduling decisions, guaranteeing the scheduling of realtimetasks even in higher-load systems.This article, the first in a series of two, provides an introduction torealtime scheduling (deadline scheduling in particular) and some of the theory behind it.
- Security updates for Tuesday
Security updates have been issued by Debian (ca-certificates, gdk-pixbuf, and graphicsmagick), Fedora (qtpass), openSUSE (python-openpyxl and syncthing), Slackware (kernel), and Ubuntu (gdk-pixbuf).
- LSFMM 2018 call for proposals
The 2018 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit will beheld April 23-25 in Park City, Utah. The call for proposals has just goneout with a tight deadline: they need to be received by January 31."LSF/MM is an invitation-only technicalworkshop to map out improvements to the Linux storage, filesystem andmemory management subsystems that will make their way into themainline kernel within the coming years."
- [$] Meltdown/Spectre mitigation for 4.15 and beyond
While some aspects of the kernel's defenses against the Meltdown andSpectre vulnerabilities were more-or-less in place when the problems weredisclosed on January 3, others were less fully formed. Additionally,many of the mitigations (especially for the two Spectre variants) had notbeen seen in public prior to the disclosure, meaning that there was a lotof scope for discussion once they came out. Many of those discussions areslowing down, and the kernel's initial response has mostly come intofocus. The 4.15 kernel will include a broad set of mitigations, while someothers will have to wait for later; read onfor details on where things stand.
- [$] Active state management of power domains
The Linux kernel's generic power domain (genpd) subsystem has beenextended to support active state management of the power domains in the 4.15 development cycle. Power domains weretraditionally used to enable or disable power to a region of a system onchip (SoC) but, with the recent updates, they can control the clock rate oramount of power supplied to that region as well.These changes improve the kernel's ability to run the system's hardware atthe optimal power level for the current workload.
Click below (subscribers only) for the full article contributed by VireshKumar.
- Security updates for Monday
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (qtpass), Debian (libkohana2-php, libxml2, transmission, and xmltooling), Fedora (kernel and qpid-cpp), Gentoo (PolarSSL and xen), Mageia (flash-player-plugin, irssi, kernel, kernel-linus, kernel-tmb, libvorbis, microcode, nvidia-current, php & libgd, poppler, webkit2, and wireshark), openSUSE (gifsicle, glibc, GraphicsMagick, gwenhywfar, ImageMagick, libetpan, mariadb, pngcrush, postgresql94, rsync, tiff, and wireshark), and Oracle (kernel).
- Kernel prepatch 4.15-rc8
The 4.15-rc8 kernel prepatch is out fortesting. Among other things, it includes the "retpoline" mechanismintended to mitigate variant 2 of the Spectre vulnerability. Testingof this change will be hard, though, since it requires a version of GCCthat almost nobody has — watch LWN for a full article in the near future."I'm still hoping that this will be the last rc, despite all the Meltdown and Spectre hoopla. But we will just have tosee, it obviously requires this upcoming week to not come with any hugesurprises."
- [$] Opening up the GnuBee open NAS system
GnuBee is the brand namefor a line of open hardware boards designed to provideLinux-based network-attached storage. Given the success of thecrowdfunding campaigns for the first two products, the GB-PC1 andGB-PC2(which support 2.5 and 3.5 inch drives respectively), there appears to be amarket for these devices. Given that Linux is quite good at attachingstorage to a network, it seems likely they will perform their core functionmore than adequately. My initial focus when exploring my GB-PC1 is not theperformance but the openness: just how open is it really? The best analogyI can come up with is that of a door with rusty hinges: it can be opened,but doing so requires determination.
- Security updates for Friday
Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (intel-ucode), Debian (gifsicle), Fedora (awstats and kernel), Gentoo (icoutils, pysaml2, and tigervnc), Mageia (dokuwiki and poppler), Oracle (kernel), SUSE (glibc, kernel, microcode_ctl, tiff, and ucode-intel), and Ubuntu (intel-microcode).
- Introducing Nextcloud Talk
Nextcloud has announcedNextcloud Talk, a fully open source video meeting software that is on-premisehosted and end-to-end encrypted. "Nextcloud Talk makes it easier thanever to host a privacy-respecting audio/video communication service forhome users and enterprises. Business users have optional access to theSpreed High Performance Back-end offering enterprise-class scalability,reliability, and features through a Nextcloud subscription. With theeasy-to-use interface, users can engage colleagues, friends, partners orcustomers, working in real time through High Definition (H265 based) audioand video in web meetings and webinars."
- Avoiding Server Disaster
Worried that your server will go down? You should be. Here are somedisaster-planning tips for server owners.
- How to get into DevOps
I've observed a sharp uptick of developers and systems administrators interested in "getting into DevOps" within the past year or so. This pattern makes sense: In an age in which a single developer can spin up a globally distributed infrastructure for an application with a few dollars and a few API calls, the gap between development and systems administration is closer than ever. Although I've seen plenty of blog posts and articles about cool DevOps tools and thoughts to think about, I've seen fewer content on pointers and suggestions for people looking to get into this work.read more
- Linux tee Command Explained for Beginners (6 Examples)
There are times when you want to manually track output of a command and also simultaneously make sure the output is being written to a file so that you can refer to it later. If you are looking for a Linux tool which can do this for you, you'll be glad to know there exists a command tee that's built for this purpose.
- An introduction to Inkscape for absolute beginners
Inkscape is a†powerful, open source desktop application for creating two-dimensional scalable vector graphics. Although it's primarily an illustration tool, Inkscape is used for a wide range of computer graphic tasks.read more
- GitHub Alternative SourceForge Vies for Comeback with Redesigned Site
SourceForge, tired of being the forgotten GitHub alternative, has been busy redesigning its website. Normally such a cosmetic solution might seem a little underwhelming -- the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" comes to mind -- but in this case it's a necessary step in the site's efforts to return to relevance, especially in light of changes that have already been made.
- Will 2018 Be the Year of the Linux Desktop
The Year of the Linux Desktop is a fabled time when Linux finally rises up and becomes the dominant desktop operating system, supplanting Windows. Will 2018 be the Year of the Linux Desktop? Let’s find out.
- Spectre and Meltdown patches causing trouble as realistic attacks get closer
Applications, operating systems, and firmware all need to be updated to defeat Meltdown and protect against Spectre, two attacks that exploit features of high-performance processors to leak information and undermine system security. The computing industry has been scrambling to respond after news of the problem broke early a few days into the new year.
- Firefox Release, Xen, KDE's Plasma and More
Set your calendars for January 23, 2018, to download the latest Firefox 58 release packed with performance/bottleneck and bug fixes, an even better site source code debugger and more.
- Mozilla and Sundance Film Festival Present: VR the People
On n Monday January 22, Mozilla is bringing together a panel of the top VR industry insiders in the world to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to explain how VR storytelling is revolutionizing the film and entertainment industry.
- Linux Journal 2.0 Progress Report
It's been a busy two weeks here at Linux Journal 2.0, and we've been simply overwhelmed with all of your feedback and support—we can't thank you enough for all of it.
- How To Create A Bootable Zorin OS USB Drive
This is a step by step guide to creating a bootable Zorin OS USB drive. It includes everything from listing the different versions, navigating the site, downloading the Etcher software tool and booting into Zorin.
- How to Install and Use iostat on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
iostat also known as input/output statistics is a popular Linux system monitoring tool that can be used to collect statistics of input and output devices. It allows users to identify performance issues of local disk, remote disk and system information. In this tutorial, we will learn how to install and use iostat on Ubuntu 16.04.
- Why building a community is worth the extra effort
When we launched Nethesis in 2003, we were just system integrators. We only used existing open source projects. Our business model was clear: Add multiople forms of value to those projects: know-how, documentation for the Italian market, extra modules, professional support, and training courses. We gave back to upstream projects as well, through upstream code contributions and by participating in their communities.read more
- FOSS Community Struggles to Patch Against Spectre, Meltdown Flaws
Many in the open source community worked feverishly this week to respond to heightened fears that software updates to fix the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities would put millions of computers at risk of slowdowns or even total disability. Updated kernels were released for mitigation of Meltdown variant 3, or CVE-2017-5754, for X86-64 architecture, said Canonical VP Dean Henrichsmeyer.
- GeckoLinux: A Polished Distro Just Got Smoother
GeckoLinux offers both seasoned users and new distro adopters an easy way to try an openSuse-based spin that is loaded with features and an ample inventory of the leading Linux desktops. The developer released a major update of GeckoLinux earlier this week. I enjoyed testing the beta version last fall, and I was even more pleased with the added embellishments packed into this final version.
- With Linux, You Don't Get One Kernel of Truth... You Get Many
As much as I love to poke at the inner workings of my computer, I'll admit that until recently, I didn't give much thought to which version of the Linux kernel my desktop system was running. For most desktop users, this isn't all that odd. Compatibility of kernel modules is often critical for servers and production systems, but day-to-day desktop usage doesn't change much from update to update.
- New Open Source Mobile OS Puts Privacy Front and Center
A renowned Linux innovator has developed a new mobile operating system, called "Project eelo," in an effort to provide a level of data privacy that traditional Android and iOS devices fail to offer. The new eelo system will allow mobile phone users to regain control over their personal information at a price they can afford, said Gael Duval, who created Mandrake Linux back in 1998.
- Massive Intel Chip Security Flaw Threatens Computers
A design flaw in all Intel chips produced in the last decade is responsible for a vulnerability that puts Linux, Windows and macOS-powered computers at risk, according to multiple press reports. The flaw reportedly is in the kernel that controls the chip performance, allowing commonly used programs to access the contents and layout of a computer's protected kernel memory areas.
- SoftMaker for Linux Is a Solid Microsoft Office Alternative
SoftMaker Office could be a first-class professional-strength replacement for Microsoft Office on the Linux desktop. The Linux OS has its share of lightweight word processors and a few nearly worthy standalone spreadsheet apps, but very few high-end integrated office suites exist for Linux users. Generally, Linux office suites lack a really solid slide presentation creation tool.
- Zealot Loads Cryptocurrency Miner on Linux, Windows Machines
A new Apache Struts campaign that researchers named "Zealot" has come to light in recent weeks. Zealot loads Windows or Linux-based machines by installing a miner for Monero, which has become one of the hottest cryptocurrencies used in recent malware attacks. Zealot uses NSA-linked EternalBlue and EternalSynergy exploits, according to the F5 Labs researchers who discovered the campaign.
- P2P WiFi Plan Challenges ISP Dominance
Open Garden has announced the launch of a new P2P service that allows users to share Internet connections and unused plan data for free, with compensation in a new cryptocurrency as an extra incentive. The company is offering the service through an app that can be downloaded from Google Play. The system requires no hardware other than an Android phone to participate in the Internet access sharing.
- New Open Source Tools Test for VPN Leaks
ExpressVPN on Tuesday launched a suite of open source tools that let users test for vulnerabilities that can compromise privacy and security in virtual private networks. Released under an open source MIT License, they are the first-ever public tools to allow automated testing for leaks on VPNs, the company said. The tools are written primarily in Python, and available for download on Github.
- If You're Ready for Arch, ArchMerge Eases the Way
Newcomer ArchMerge Linux offers a big change for the better to those switching from the Debian Linux lineage to the Arch Linux infrastructure. ArchMerge Linux is a recent spinoff of ArchLabs Linux, which is a step up from most Arch Linux offerings in terms of installation and usability. Arch Linux distros are notorious for their challenging installation and software management processes.
- Microsoft Goes All In With Kubernetes
Microsoft has launched a raft of new Kubernetes-related projects, demonstrating its growing commitment to the technology. Among them are a new version of its experimental Azure Container Instances for Kubernetes, the Virtual Kubelet. Microsoft also entered a collaboration with Heptio on a new disaster recovery solution. The Virtual Kubelet builds on Microsoft's earlier ACI announcement.
- New Open Platform Helps Enterprises Manage Their Own Cloud Services
CoreOS on Tuesday announced the release of Tectonic 1.8, a Kubernetes container management platform. Tectonic enables enterprises to deploy key automation infrastructure components that function like managed cloud services without cloud vendor lock-in. The CoreOS Open Cloud Services Catalog offers an alternative to cloud vendors' proprietary services and APIs.
- Major Players Roll Up Sleeves to Solve Open Source Licensing Problems
Four big tech players this week moved to improve their handling of open source software licensing violations. Red Hat, Google, Facebook and IBM said they would apply error standards in GNU GPLv3 to all of their open source licensing, even licenses granted under older GPL agreements. "This will make everything consistent with GPLv3," said IP attorney Lawrence Rosen.
- AWS to Help Build ONNX Open Source AI Platform
AWS has become the latest tech firm to join the deep learning community's collaboration on the Open Neural Network Exchange, recently launched to advance AI in a frictionless and interoperable environment. Facebook and Microsoft led the effort. AWS made its open source Python package, ONNX-MxNet, available as a deep learning framework that offers APIs across multiple languages.
- MX 17 Linux: The Best of 2 Linux Worlds
MX Linux-17 Beta 1 is a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Debian's "stable" branch. It is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. Normally, taking a first look at an early phase beta release means taking a few hours to get familiar with the features and performance. If too many glitches appear, it can doom the early release to a negative review.
- Take Linux and Run With It
"How do you run an operating system?" may seem like a simple question, since most of us are accustomed to turning on our computers and seeing our system spin up. However, this common model is only one way of running an operating system. As one of Linux's greatest strengths is versatility, Linux offers the most methods and environments for running it.
- Fixes MIA for Many Linux Kernel Flaws
A Google code security researcher's recent discovery of 14 flaws in Linux kernel USB drivers led to last-minute fixes in the Linux 4.14 release candidate code set for distribution on Sunday. The flaws, which Google researcher Andrey Konovalov disclosed this week, affect the Linux kernel before version 4.13.8. All 14 have available fixes. However, there are other flaws that have not been fixed.
- GeckoLinux Beta Does openSuse Better
The latest developmental beta release of GeckoLinux brings this custom spinoff distro of openSuse to new levels of performance and convenience. When I first looked at GeckoLinux in late 2015, I was impressed with the developer's efforts to smooth over what I did not like about using the Suse infrastructure. GeckoLinux impressed me then. It does not disappoint me now.
- Nvidia Containerizes GPU-Accelerated Deep Learning
We often talk about hybrid cloud business models, but virtually always in the context of traditional processor-bound applications. What if deep learning developers and service operators could run their GPU-accelerated model training or inference delivery service anywhere they wanted? What if they could do so without having to worry about which Nvidia graphics processor unit they were using?
- Marcher Malware Poses Triple Threat to Android Users
A three-pronged banking malware campaign has been infecting Android phones since the beginning of this year, according to Proofpoint. Attackers have been stealing credentials, planting the Marcher banking Trojan on phones, and nicking credit card information. So far, they have targeted customers of BankAustria, Raiffeisen Meine Bank and Sparkasse, but the campaign could spread beyond Vienna.
- New Collaborative Platform to Spur Open Source AI Development
The Linux Foundation has announced an agreement with AT&T and Tech Mahindra to launch the Acumos Project, a new platform for open source development of artificial intelligence. The new platform is part of a broader effort to open up opportunities for AI collaboration in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors. AT&T is a Platinum Member of The Linux Foundation.
- YouTube Toughens Advert Payment Rules
YouTube is introducing tougher requirements for video publishers who want to make money from its platform. From a report: In addition, it has said staff will manually review all clips before they are added to a premium service that pairs big brand advertisers with popular content. The moves follow a series of advertiser boycotts and a controversial vlog that featured an apparent suicide victim. One expert said that the Google-owned service had been slow to react. "Google presents the impression of acting reactively rather than proactively," said Mark Mulligan, from the consultancy Midia Research. [...] The first part of the new strategy involves a stricter requirement that publishers must fulfil before they can make money from their uploads. Clips will no longer have adverts attached unless the publisher meets two criteria -- that they have: at least 1,000 subscribers; and more than 4,000 hours of their content viewed by others within the past 12 months.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Apple Says It Will 'Contribute' $350 Billion in the US Economy Over the Next 5 Years
Apple said on Wednesday it will invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next five years, touting the creation of 20,000 new jobs and a new campus thanks, in part, to the prospect of tax reform. From a report: The company said it expects tax repatriation payments of about $38 billion, indicating that it will bring a portion of its $250 billion overseas cash back to the U.S. As of November, the company had $268.9 billion in cash, both domestically and overseas. The job creation will focus on direct employment, but also suppliers and its app business, which it had already planned to grow substantially. "We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible," chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Mozilla Restricts All New Firefox Features To HTTPS Only
An anonymous reader shares a report: In a groundbreaking statement earlier this week, Mozilla announced that all web-based features that will ship with Firefox in the future must be served on over a secure HTTPS connection (a "secure context"). "Effective immediately, all new features that are web-exposed are to be restricted to secure contexts," said Anne van Kesteren, a Mozilla engineer and author of several open web standards. This means that if Firefox will add support for a new standard/feature starting tomorrow, if that standard/feature carries out communications between the browser and an external server, those communications must be carried out via HTTPS or the standard/feature will not work in Firefox. The decision does not affect already existing standards/features, but Mozilla hopes all Firefox features "will be considered on a case-by-case basis," and will slowly move to secure contexts (HTTPS) exclusively in the future.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions
This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that was made from soybean oil. They're doing it, though, not because it's cheaper or better, but because they're required to, by law. From a report: The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it's the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others -- like many economists -- it's a wasteful misuse of resources. And the most wasteful part of the RFS, according to some, is biodiesel. It's different from ethanol, a fuel that's made from corn and mixed into gasoline, also as required by the RFS. In fact, gasoline companies probably would use ethanol even if there were no law requiring it, because ethanol is a useful fuel additive -- at least up to a point. That's not true of biodiesel. "This is an easy one, economically. Biodiesel is very expensive, relative to petroleum diesel," says Scott Irwin, an economist at the University of Illinois, who follows biofuel markets closely. He calculates that the extra cost for biodiesel comes to about $1.80 per gallon right now, meaning that the biofuel law is costing Americans about $5.4 billion a year.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Bitcoin Watchers Running Out of Explanations Blame Slump on Moon
If regulatory concerns aren't enough to explain Bitcoin's 50 percent slump from its record high reached last month, how about blaming it on the moon? An anonymous reader writes: The Lunar New Year, which marks the first day of the year in the Chinese calendar, is being cited by some as contributing to Bitcoin's slump as Asian traders cash out their cryptocurrencies to travel and buy gifts for the holiday that starts Feb. 16 this year. The festivity is celebrated not just in China, but in other Asian countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea and Thailand. "The January drop is a recurring theme in cryptocurrencies as people celebrating the Chinese New Year, aka Lunar New Year, exchange their crypto for fiat currency," said Alexander Wallin, chief executive officer of trading social network SprinkleBit in New York. "The timing is about four to six weeks before the lunar year, when most people make their travel arrangements and start buying presents."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- 'No One Wants Your Used Clothes Anymore'
An anonymous reader shares a report: For decades, the donation bin has offered consumers in rich countries a guilt-free way to unload their old clothing. In a virtuous and profitable cycle, a global network of traders would collect these garments, grade them, and transport them around the world to be recycled, worn again, or turned into rags and stuffing. Now that cycle is breaking down. Fashion trends are accelerating, new clothes are becoming as cheap as used ones, and poor countries are turning their backs on the secondhand trade. Without significant changes in the way that clothes are made and marketed, this could add up to an environmental disaster in the making. [...] The tide of secondhand clothes keeps growing even as the markets to reuse them are disappearing. From an environmental standpoint, that's a big problem. Already, the textile industry accounts for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined; as recycling markets break down, its contribution could soar. The good news is that nobody has a bigger incentive to address this problem than the industry itself.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Within Next Five Years Your Pizzas Will Probably Be Delivered by Autonomous Cars, Domino's Pizza CEO Says
In an interview with The Street, Domino's Pizza outgoing CEO Patrick Doyle said in three to five years at the earliest he expects driverless cars and voice orders to shift the way the world orders pizza. From the report: "We have been investing in natural voice for ordering for a few years. We rolled that out in our own apps before Amazon launched Alexa and Alphabet launched Google Home...[and] we are making investments...to understand how consumers will want to interact with autonomous vehicles and pizza delivery," Doyle said.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Days After Hawaii's False Missile Alarm, a New One in Japan
An anonymous reader shares a report: Japan's public broadcaster on Tuesday accidentally sent news alerts that North Korea had launched a missile and that citizens should take shelter -- just days after the government of Hawaii had sent a similar warning to its citizens. The broadcaster, NHK, corrected itself five minutes later and apologized for the error on its evening news (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). The initial texts cited J-Alert, a system used by the government to issue warnings to its citizens about missiles, tsunamis and other natural disasters. But NHK later said that the system was not to blame for the false alarm. Makoto Sasaki, a spokesman for NHK, apologized, saying that "staff had mistakenly operated the equipment to deliver news alerts over the internet."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Philippine Lawmakers Worry China Telecom May Be a 'Trojan horse'
An anonymous reader shares a report: Opposition members of the Philippine Congress raised concern on Wednesday that China Telecom Corp, which may enter the Philippine industry, could be a "Trojan horse" aimed at giving China access to state secrets. The Southeast Asian country aims to name a third telecom operator within the first quarter that will break the duopoly of PLDT and Globe Telecom State-run China Telecom has been named as a possible investor in that third entity. President Rodrigo Duterte, who has warned both PLDT and Globe to shape up or face competition, has welcomed Chinese entities specifically to become the third telecoms operator. Beijing has selected China Telecom to invest in the Philippines, according to Philippine officials, but it would need to partner with a local company as it cannot operate alone under the law. China Telecom's presence in the Philippines, however, does not sit well with some lawmakers, given China's telecommunications expertise and sophisticated technology.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Salmonella Probably Killed the Aztecs
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: In 1545 disaster struck Mexico's Aztec nation when people started coming down with high fevers, headaches and bleeding from the eyes, mouth and nose. Death generally followed in three or four days. Within five years as many as 15 million people -- an estimated 80% of the population -- were wiped out in an epidemic the locals named "cocoliztli." The word means pestilence in the Aztec Nahuatl language. Its cause, however, has been questioned for nearly 500 years. On Monday scientists swept aside smallpox, measles, mumps, and influenza as likely suspects, identifying a typhoid-like "enteric fever" for which they found DNA evidence on the teeth of long-dead victims. Scientists now say they have probably unmasked the culprit. Analysing DNA extracted from 29 skeletons buried in a cocoliztli cemetery, they found traces of the salmonella enterica bacterium, of the Paratyphi C variety. It is known to cause enteric fever, of which typhoid is an example. The Mexican subtype rarely causes human infection today. Many salmonella strains spread via infected food or water, and may have travelled to Mexico with domesticated animals brought by the Spanish, the research team said. The study has been published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
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- America's Fastest Spy Plane May Be Back -- And Hypersonic
A Lockheed Skunk Works executive implied last week at an aerospace conference that the successor to one of the fastest aircraft the world has seen, the SR-71 Blackbird, might already exist. Previously, Lockheed officials have said the successor, the SR-72, could fly by 2030. Bloomberg reports: Referring to detailed specifics of company design and manufacturing, Jack O'Banion, a Lockheed vice president, said a "digital transformation" arising from recent computing capabilities and design tools had made hypersonic development possible. Then -- assuming O'Banion chose his verb tense purposely -- came the surprise. "Without the digital transformation, the aircraft you see there could not have been made," O'Banion said, standing by an artist's rendering of the hypersonic aircraft. "In fact, five years ago, it could not have been made." Hypersonic applies to speeds above Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. The SR-71 cruised at Mach 3.2, more than 2,000 mph, around 85,000 feet. "We couldn't have made the engine itself -- it would have melted down into slag if we had tried to produce it five years ago," O'Banion said. "But now we can digitally print that engine with an incredibly sophisticated cooling system integral into the material of the engine itself and have that engine survive for multiple firings for routine operation." The aircraft is also agile at hypersonic speeds, with reliable engine starts, he said. A half-decade before, he added, developers "could not have even built it even if we conceived of it."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Hackers Seem Close To Publicly Unlocking the Nintendo Switch
Ars Technica reports that "hackers have been finding partial vulnerabilities in early versions of the [Nintendo] Switch firmware throughout 2017." They have discovered a Webkit flaw that allows for basic "user level" access to some portions of the underlying system and a service-level initialization flaw that gives hackers slightly more control over the Switch OS. "But the potential for running arbitary homebrew code on the Switch really started looking promising late last month, with a talk at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress (34C3) in Leipzig Germany," reports Ars. "In that talk, hackers Plutoo, Derrek, and Naehrwert outlined an intricate method for gaining kernel-level access and nearly full control of the Switch hardware." From the report: The full 45-minute talk is worth a watch for the technically inclined, it describes using the basic exploits discussed above as a wedge to dig deep into how the Switch works at the most basic level. At one point, the hackers sniff data coming through the Switch's memory bus to figure out the timing for an important security check. At another, they solder an FPGA onto the Switch's ARM chip and bit-bang their way to decoding the secret key that unlocks all of the Switch's encrypted system binaries. The team of Switch hackers even got an unexpected assist in its hacking efforts from chipmaker Nvidia. The "custom chip" inside the Switch is apparently so similar to an off-the-shelf Nvidia Tegra X1 that a $700 Jetson TX1 development kit let the hackers get significant insight into the Switch's innards. More than that, amid the thousand of pages of Nvidia's public documentation for the X1 is a section on how to "bypass the SMMU" (the System Memory Management Unit), which gave the hackers a viable method to copy and write a modified kernel to the Switch's system RAM. As Plutoo put it in the talk, "Nvidia backdoored themselves."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Lawsuit Filed By 22 State Attorneys General Seeks To Block Net Neutrality Repeal
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A lawsuit filed today by the attorneys general of 22 states seeks to block the Federal Communications Commission's recent controversial vote to repeal Obama era Net Neutrality regulations. The filing is led by New York State Attorney General Schneiderman, who called rollback a potential "disaster for New York consumers and businesses, and for everyone who cares about a free and open internet." The letter, which was filed in the United States District Court of Appeals in Washington, is cosigned by AGs from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Washington DC. "An open internet -- and the free exchange of ideas it allows -- is critical to our democratic process," Schneiderman added in an accompanying statement. "The repeal of net neutrality would turn internet service providers into gatekeepers -- allowing them to put profits over consumers while controlling what we see, what we do, and what we say online."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- New Study Claims That the 'Black Death' Was Spread By Humans, Not Rats
dryriver shares a report from BBC: Rats were not to blame for the spread of plague during the Black Death, according to a study. The rodents and their fleas were thought to have spread a series of outbreaks in 14th-19th Century Europe. But a team from the universities of Oslo and Ferrara now says the first, the Black Death, can be "largely ascribed to human fleas and body lice." The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, uses records of its pattern and scale. The Black Death claimed an estimated 25 million lives, more than a third of Europe's population, between 1347 and 1351. "We have good mortality data from outbreaks in nine cities in Europe," Prof Nils Stenseth, from the University of Oslo, told BBC News. "So we could construct models of the disease dynamics [there]." He and his colleagues then simulated disease outbreaks in each of these cities, creating three models where the disease was spread by: rats, airborne transmission, and fleas and lice that live on humans and their clothes. In seven out of the nine cities studied, the "human parasite model" was a much better match for the pattern of the outbreak. It mirrored how quickly it spread and how many people it affected. "The conclusion was very clear," said Prof Stenseth. "The lice model fits best. It would be unlikely to spread as fast as it did if it was transmitted by rats. It would have to go through this extra loop of the rats, rather than being spread from person to person." Plague is still endemic in some countries of Asia, Africa and the Americas, where it persists in "reservoirs" of infected rodents. According to the World Health Organization, from 2010 to 2015 there were 3,248 cases reported worldwide, including 584 deaths. And, in 2001, a study that decoded the plague genome used a bacterium that had come from a vet in the U.S. who had died in 1992 after a plague-infested cat sneezed on him as he had been trying to rescue it from underneath a house.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- Many Enterprise Mobile Devices Will Never Be Patched Against Meltdown, Spectre
Mark Wilson shares a report from BetaNews: The Meltdown and Spectre bugs have been in the headlines for a couple of weeks now, but it seems the patches are not being installed on handsets. Analysis of more than 100,000 enterprise mobile devices shows that just a tiny percentage of them have been protected against the vulnerabilities -- and some simply may never be protected. Security firm Bridgeway found that just 4 percent of corporate phones and tablets in the UK have been patched against Spectre and Meltdown. Perhaps more worryingly, however, its research also found that nearly a quarter of enterprise mobile devices will never receive a patch because of their age. Organizations are advised to check for the availability of patches for their devices, and to install them as soon as possible. Older devices that will never be patched -- older than Marshmallow, for example -- should be replaced to ensure security, says Bridgeway.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
- SAP boss promises to cull marketing dross on community network
Bill McDermott admits hub was seen as a 'channel to promote corporate messages'
CEO Bill McDermott has pledged to improve the SAP Community network previosuly slammed by members for offering a crap user experience and being another mechanism to push marketing messages.…
- New Quantum head honcho thrown in at the deep end
CEO Patrick Dennis has his work cut out
Comment There's a new president and CEO at Quantum, with the board hoping for a dose of Patrick Dennis magic to fire up the company and return it to growth and profits.…
- Sueball smacks AMD over processor chip security flaw silence
CEO, CFO in crosshairs after shareholder 'losses'
AMD stands accused of "artificially inflating" its stock price by not making public a CPU design flaw the tech world now knows as Spectre, according to a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of investors.…
- UK.gov slammed for NHS data-sharing deal with Home Office
Flouts doctors' guidelines, doesn't properly balance public interests, MPs told
The UK health service's NHS Digital has been accused of operating to a "lower standard of confidentiality" than rest of NHS, in a heated hearing about a deal that requires patient info to be handed over for immigration enforcement.…
- Going soft: Kaminario exits the hardware business
Software-centric business model to reach disruptive industry price point
Kaminario has announced it will leave the hardware business, and said Tech Data will build the certified appliance hardware needed to run its software.…
- Destroying the city to save the robocar
The fight for our public space
Special report Behind the mostly fake "battle" about driverless cars (conventional versus autonomous is the one that captures all the headlines), there are several much more important scraps. One is over the future of the city: will a city be built around machines or people? How much will pedestrians have to sacrifice for the driverless car to succeed?…
- 'No evidence' UK.gov has done much to break up IT outsourcing
Carillion scandal part of a long tradition of big supplier addiction
The scandal around Carillion has put the UK government's addiction to outsourcing in the spotlight. Yet it is a practice that has been going on for many decades - not least in public sector IT.…
- Wanna motivate staff to be more secure? Don't bother bribing 'em
Also, don't get the BOFH to publicly smack them with a LART
Usenix Enigma It's frustrating getting users to keep information and systems secure on a daily basis. However, don't try any smart gimmicks – particularly offering wedges of cash or other prizes for good behavior.…
- VMware’s NSX world domination plan advances with not-just-point release
Version 6.4 brings the NSX GUI to the vSphere client
VMware’s made no secret of its ambitions for its NSX network virtualization product, which it thinks has the potential to be bigger than server virtualization as organisations start to spread resources out across multiple clouds and on-premises bit barn.…
- Google's 'QUIC' TCP alternative slow to excite anyone outside Google
Multiplexing-over-UDP idea has hit the standards track, but is mostly ignored
Google's contribution to Internet standards, the fast-than-TCP thanks to multiplexing QUIC protocol, has yet to extend much beyond the Chocolate Factory, according to a German report into its adoption.…
- Flying on its own, Thunderbird seeks input on new look
Brings in designers to apply a new coat of UI before world thinks it looks too shabby to run
Now that the open source email client Thunderbird is sleeping in a separate bed from Mozilla, the project has called on outside help for a UI redesign.…
- Wave Tata, Capita: You've lost mega-contract to rival outsourcer
Man from Pru tears up £722m deal five years ahead of time
Financial services slinger Prudential is to kick Capita to the curb, cutting short a 15-year mega deal and switching the administration of its life and pension policies to Tata Consultancy Services.…
- DXC execs: Here's ANOTHER deadline for skills profiling
Staff got until 26 January to load bullets on employment gun
DXC Technologies' employees still reluctant to upload their "skill profile" onto a company database they fear will be used in the next big redundancy rounds yesterday got a ticking off from top brass.…
- Causes of software development woes
Reg readers point the finger at ambiguous requirements
Research "Agile development" can mean different things to different people. To some it's about easing up on traditional rigour, and even legitimising a quick-and-dirty approach to getting stuff out of the door. To others it's about implementing a different kind of rigour, in order to bust project backlogs in a more robust manner, and generally keep up with constantly changing business demands.…
- Veeam buys AWS EC2 instance backup and recovery biz
Swallows N2WS so it can stick oar deeper in Amazon cloud
Veeam has announced the acquisition of N2WS, an IaaS startup, whose board includes Veeam co-founder and President Ratmir Timashev, for $42.5mn cash.…
- Airbus warns it could quit A380 production
Needs to make six to eight a year, predicts it can get back to 25 a year once airlines wake up
Airbus has reported its most prolific year to date in terms of deliveries, but also warned that it needs a new buyer of its flagship A380 if it is to continue production.…
Linux.com offline for now
- 24-Way NVIDIA/AMD GPU Benchmarks With X-Plane 11
With the next update to X-Plane 11 introducing VR support, I have renewed interest in this realistic, cross-platform flight simulator. It's been a few years since we last delivered any benchmarks with X-Plane, but for your viewing please today is an assortment of 24 graphics cards both old and new, low-end to high-end from NVIDIA and AMD in looking at how this flight simulator is running on Ubuntu Linux.
- The DRM Graphics Driver Changes Coming For Linux 4.16
With being past the cutoff of new features to be merged to DRM-Next for targeting the upcoming Linux 4.16 kernel merge window, here is a recap of the prominent changes to the Direct Rendering Manager drivers for this next kernel cycle...
- KDE's Discover Snap Support Is Maturing Too
While KDE Discover's Flatpak support was declared "production ready", that isn't the only app sandboxing tech they are working on: their Ubuntu Snap support is also coming together nicely...
- Benchmarking Retpoline Underflow Protection With Intel Skylake/Kabylake
Beyond the Retpoline support already found in the mainline Linux kernel, developers are working on Retpoline Underflow support that would be used for Intel Skylake and Kabylake CPUs. RETPOLINE_UNDERFLOW protects against falling back to a potentially poisoned indirect branch predictor when a return buffer underflows and this additional protection is needed for Intel Skylake/Kabylake processors. I ran a couple benchmarks...
- Benchmarking Retpoline-Enabled GCC 8 With -mindirect-branch=thunk
We have looked several times already at the performance impact of Retpoline support in the Linux kernel, but what about building user-space packages with -mindirect-branch=thunk? Here is the performance cost to building some performance tests in user-space with -mindirect-branch=thunk and -mindirect-branch=thunk-inline.
- Retpoline Support Backport Lands In GCC 7
The backporting of -mindirect-branch, -mindirect-return and -mindirect-branch-register, a.k.a. the GCC "Retpoline" patches, have been back-ported and merged into the GCC 7 branch...
- BPF Getting Error Injection & More In Linux 4.16
While BPF has been under the spotlight recently in light of Spectre, with the upcoming Linux 4.16 cycle this in-kernel virtual machine and originally packet filter will be picking up new features...
- 16-Way GPU Comparison With NVIDIA GPUs Going Back To Kepler
Last week I provided a fresh look at the NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux gaming performance using the latest drivers at the start of 2018. That testing included the latest NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, but for those curious how these numbers compare for older NVIDIA GPUs, here's a look with the Kepler and Maxwell graphics cards added to the comparison.
- Retpoline Is Still Being Improved Upon For Intel Skylake/Kabylake
While initial support for Retpoline was merged into the Linux 4.15 Git kernel last week and is now being backported to some supported Linux kernel series, there is still additional work ongoing for properly mitigating Spectre v2 on Intel Skylake CPUs and newer...
- Intel's Mesa Driver Is A Step Closer To ARB_gl_spirv Support
Igalia has sent out the fourth version of their patches for wiring in ARB_gl_spirv support into the Mesa OpenGL driver. This extension is the last main blocker from Intel having OpenGL 4.6 support and allows for SPIR-V ingestion support for better interoperability between OpenGL and Vulkan...
- Vulkan 1.0.68 Published
Coming just over one week since Vulkan 1.0.67 is now the Vulkan 1.0.68 graphics/compute programming specification update...
- Facebook reopens investigation to see if Russia influenced Brexit
This past December, Facebook investigated whether Russia had used the social network to influence the EU Referendum vote, or Brexit. At the time, the team found little evidence of UK-related activity from the "Internet Research Agency" in Russia. Now, in a letter from Facebook's UK policy director Simon Milner, the company promises to continue the investigation at the request of Damian Collins, the chair of the Digital Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the House of Commons.
Milner asserts that the work will need a "number of weeks" to complete, due to the detailed analysis of historic data required to be completed by the current security team, which is concurrently working on live security threats. The team will try and identify other clusters of coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum, similar to the one it investigated before. Milner also requests any information the UK government has that could help Facebook narrow its search.
Via: The Verge
- Apple plans to add 20,000 jobs, new campus in the US
Apple is determined to show that it's investing in the US economy despite its tax moves and foreign manufacturing. The company has announced a slew of investments it claims will pump a total of $350 billion into the US economy, highlighted by its focus on (what else) jobs. It expects to spend $30 billion in capital expenses that will create more than 20,000 new positions over the next 5 years, both at its existing buildings and a new location (to be unveiled later in 2018) that will initially focus on tech support.
It's also pouring more cash into domestic manufacturing. The company is swelling the size of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund from $1 billion to $5 billion, which should both help existing American suppliers and foreign firms looking to set up shop in the US.
Apple also says it will back the next generation of students. It's expanding its current efforts to support coding and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs and adding new programs to give teachers a helping hand. Accordingly, the tech giant is investing more money into its share of the government's ConnectED program to ensure that students in less fortunate communities have the hardware and other resources to learn tech-related skills.
And Apple is naturally eager to head off tax concerns: it's pointing out that it will pay about $38 billion in repatriations as a result of recent changes to American tax law. The payment should be the "largest ever made," the company said.
It's not surprising that Apple would unveil a large commitment. American companies are under pressure to show that they're contributing to the economy, and Apple's news is coming right as other American brands are slashing jobs. With that in mind, there are lingering questions. Apple didn't elaborate on just how it would contribute $350 billion (though it did say this excludes product sales and tax payments), and it's not clear how many of those 20,000 new jobs will be retail, tech support or other relatively entry-level positions. Even so, it's evident that Apple is willing to splurge on its American businesses for at least the next few years.
- YouTube snags the rights to Eminem-produced satirical film ‚ÄėBodied‚Äô
YouTube has acquired the rights to Eminem-produced Bodied, a satirical film that takes place within the Oakland hip-hop scene. It's co-written and directed by Joseph Kahn -- director of 2004's Torque as well as music videos for everyone from Taylor Swift to Eminem -- and follows a grad student who decides to jump into the rap battle scene. The student, played by Calum Worthy (Austin & Ally, American Vandal), is successful, which doesn't sit well with others in Oakland's underground hip-hop world.
Bodied premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and won the Grolsch People's Choice Midnight Madness award. YouTube now holds global rights to the film and will preview it at the Sundance Film Festival this month. Bodied will then see a theatrical release later this year and will be accessible on YouTube Red.
This is a notable move for YouTube, especially since Amazon has been raking in festival films left and right. Last year, Amazon began recruiting festival filmmakers to its Video Direct platform, offering cash bonuses and larger-than-typical Video Direct royalties for the rights to their films. It extended those offers to filmmakers with movies at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. At the Toronto festival, where Bodied debuted, Amazon snagged the rights to over 100 films.
Bodied stars Jackie Long, Shoniqua Shandai, Walter Perez and Rory Uphold. It also features Charlamagne Tha God and battle rappers such as Dizaster, Dumbfoundead and Hollow Da Don.
- Google says fix for WiFi bug on Cast devices is coming tomorrow
Just a day after reports of users losing WiFi connections due to Google devices with the "Cast" feature, the company has responded. According to an entry on Google's support page, the company has identified the issue and will release a fix to roll out as a Google Play service update tomorrow January 18th.
Google says the culprit is a bug on Android phones that sends too much network traffic, which then slows down your WiFi network. Depending on the router, you may see slowdowns or have your WiFi go down. Devices affected include any Chromecast built-in device, like Google Home or Chromecast. While TP-link has also issued a patch for its own affected router, it's good to see Google jumping on the issue so quickly.
Via: Android Police
- Xfinity customers will get a ton of Winter Olympics content next month
The Olympics offer a unique technical challenge for TV broadcasters and cable companies every few years. With the 2018 Winter Olympics just a few weeks away, Comcast has announced its plans to offer a pretty huge variety of coverage for its Xfinity TV subscribers. While other cable providers get access to the same content from NBC that Comcast does, the company is enabling some solid feature and packaging it in easy that are exclusive to Xfinity subscribers.
For starters, it's worth noting that the Winter Olympics take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea; thanks to the time difference, many events will take place in prime time here in the US. NBC will broadcast its nightly Olympics prime-time coverage live, with no tape delay, so it should be a lot easier than in years past to see your favorite sports live. Xfinity's Olympics Home will show viewers everything that's airing live across various networks (including NBC proper, NBC Sports, USA and several others). From there, you'll also be able to quickly browse highlights, check out a daily summary, the current medal count and the day's schedule and jump into whatever particular video you want to view.
For live content, Xfinity is offering "instant on demand," which basically means you can tune in to any live broadcast and then tell it to start from the beginning. So if you're jumping into the day's coverage late, you can still start right from the beginning without having to save it to your DVR.
Another big part of Xfinity's Winter Olympics coverage is something they're calling "virtual channels." These aren't dissimilar to YouTube playlists focused around specific themes — they'll primarily be made up of shorter clips (around five minutes each, though that can vary). Naturally, there will be channels for individual sports, but there will also be themes like " biggest upsets," "fantastic finishes," "funniest moments" as well as daily recaps, the best moments from the previous night, profiles of teams and athletes and so forth. For people who don't want to sit down and just get a quick taste of the most popular trending stories or focus on specific sports, these channels should be helpful. Xfinity's editorial team will be curating these selections, and they will be exclusive to the company's subscribers.
Xfinity customers get a handful of other niceties, as well. The voice-capable X1 remote will let you ask for a variety of content, like medal counts, sports and athletes. The company's X1 Sports companion app lets you pull up a sidebar of Olympics content on the TV to keep track of scores and standings for other events, and if you see something you want to watch in that sidebar, you can just scroll over and click it to launch. Finally, the Xfinity Stream app for iOS and Android will basically mirror the Olympics experience users get on their TV, so you'll get the same experience for keeping up on the games away from the big screen in your house.
And if your big screen is a 4K TV, NBC and Xfinity will have super high-definition content to check out. Unfortunately, it isn't live broadcasts, but a whole bunch of the bigger stuff events will be available on-demand the following day in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos sound. The opening ceremony, closing ceremony, figure skating, ski jumping, snowboard "big air" and men's hockey are all getting this treatment, among a few other events. It's not the entire slate of coverage, but this will likely be the biggest sporting event to catch in 4K thus far. Maybe by the Summer 2020 games, we'll actually get some live 4K broadcasts.
As for who will get access to these features, Comcast says that almost anyone with a cable subscription beyond the bare-bones basic tier will get this coverage and features included with their subscription. Given how many people were unhappy with not being able to keep up with events live during the 2012 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Comcast's plan sounds a lot better — getting tons of coverage live is probably the most important thing here, and having easy ways to catch up on events that viewers miss should make the Olympics a lot more enjoyable for Xfinity customers.
- Facebook adds livestream features to old videos
Facebook says its Live videos are wildly popular and generate around six times the interaction other videos do. That's why it's testing a new feature that adds the elements responsible for making Live a more engaging, interactive experience to non-Live videos on the platform. Starting today, select Groups will have access to "Watch Party," an experimental tool that creates a shared experience for multiple users. It allows administrators to post any public video on their Group, which members can then watch together at the same time. (Also, it probably helps that a billion accounts use Facebook Groups every month.) They can even leave comments and reactions that show up on screen the same way they do on Live, whatever it is they're watching.
The company decided to conduct initial testing within Groups, since members are bound by common interests and are more inclined to watch videos together. A lot of people join Groups to get the latest news about their interest, after all, and information is often presented in video form on the website. Fidji Simo, Facebook's VP of Product, said the social network will be studying how testers use Watch Party in order to get it ready for a wider release in the future.
Source: Fidji Simo (Facebook)
- 'chaiOS' bug can cause iMessage to crash with a text message
There's a new bug floating around called "chaiOS" that appears to be a basic GitHub link. However, when you text it to a person via the iMessage app (whether on iOS or MacOS), it will crash the app and possibly cause the device to freeze and restart. In other words: Be aware that this exists, but don't send it to anyone.
ūüĎč Effective Power is back, baby!
Text the link below, it will freeze the recipient's device, and possibly restart it. https://t.co/Ln93XN51Kq
‚ö†ÔłŹ Do not use it for bad stuff.
thanks to @aaronp613 @garnerlogan65 @lepidusdev @brensalsa for testing!
— Abraham Masri (@cheesecakeufo) January 16, 2018
It was Twitter user Abraham Masri who first uncovered the bug. The people over at "effective power" bug in his tweet. This dates back to 2015 and caused some havoc, as simply sending a text message was enough to cause the recipient's iPhone to crash continuously. Apple has since fixed the bug.
- GAO expects delays in SpaceX and Boeing astronaut flight certification
It's no secret that NASA is pretty far behind schedule when it comes to returning to human spaceflight. Currently it's working with two contractors, Boeing and SpaceX, for eventual crewed flights. Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology asked NASA some hard questions about the delays, and it turns out the setbacks aren't over yet. Cristina Chaplain from the GAO, who testified at the hearing, said, "We've found that the program's own analysis indicates that certification is likely to slip into December 2019 for SpaceX and February 2020 for Boeing." Both companies are currently scheduled to be certified in the first quarter of 2019, and both companies maintained during the hearing that they are confident in their current schedules.
According to William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate at NASA who also testified at the hearing, the US is currently covered through fall of 2019, thanks to seats we've purchased on Russian Soyuz rockets. After that, though, it becomes a real problem. If there are additional delays to either of these schedules, Russia can't build more Soyuz capsules in time to accommodate the US, and there are no more seats reserved for U.S. astronauts. While Gerstenmaier said that NASA is brainstorming about how to find additional flights if such an action becomes necessary, that doesn't change the constraint here. There's currently one vehicle able to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. It's not clear where NASA expects to find more choices there.
It's important to note that certification is different than a first flight. While SpaceX and Boeing are both scheduled to send their first crewed flights into space by the end of 2018, it's likely they will slip into early next year. Human-rating certification, on the other hand, is a rigorous process to ensure that the system (crew capsule and launch vehicle) is safe to regularly carry astronauts.
The delays are certainly frustrating, and we can add to that the fact that the ISS is currently only scheduled to be in operation through 2024. It's looking like we'll be getting very close to the end of the space station's life before the US has a regular method to send astronauts there and bring them home. That being said, NASA's certification program is rigorous (it will require seven flights of the Block 5 Falcon 9 before it allows the system to be certified to carry humans), and safety comes first. At the hearing, Gerstenmaier said, "NASA is aware of the schedule, but not driven by the schedule." This is an incredibly complicated process, and it's important to get it right, with a minimum of risk for astronauts.
- Google's Project Fi now offers unlimited data (with a catch)
Google's Project Fi can make sense if you only use a smattering of data and want to save money, but it hasn't been an especially good deal if you consume gigabytes like they're going out of style. Thankfully, there's now an unlimited option... of sorts. Google has introduced a Bill Protection feature that caps your data bill at $60 if you use over 6GB in a given month. In other words, $60 (plus your base bill) gives you as much data as you need. It's not quite an unlimited plan in the strictest sense, though -- it's more of a bridge between Fi's original approach and what incumbent US carriers offer.
If you run over 15GB in a month as an individual user (the number is different for group plans), you'll be throttled to "slower" speeds. We've asked Google if it can say what those speeds are. If you're determined to use your service at full speed, you can pay for your individual data use above that 15GB threshold at $10 per gig. This is stricter than the potential slowdowns you typically face with major US carriers when running over the limit, but this at least gives you a way to avoid slowdowns entirely if you have the budget.
Bill Protection also applies to international use and data-only service, Google adds. It's rolling out now to both individuals and groups, and should kick in with your next billing cycle.
Google is betting that this represents the best of both worlds for most users: you can get effectively unlimited data if you want it, but you don't have to pay for unlimited data in those months where you're using only a couple of gigs. You'll still want to consider one of the incumbent networks if you hate the very thought of guaranteed throttling, but you don't have to turn to them if you're more interested in keeping costs down than ensuring full performance.
Update: Google tells us the slowdown after 15GB cutoff drops you to 256Kbps. That's usable for basic tasks, but you definitely won't be streaming Netflix at that speed.
- Google tool lets you train AI without writing code
In many ways, the biggest challenge in widening the adoption of AI isn't making it better -- it's making the tech accessible to more companies. You typically need at least some programming to train a machine learning system, which rules it out for companies that can't justify a data scientist for the task. Google may have a solution: it just unveiled an alpha release of Cloud AutoML Vision, its first in a set of tools that trains AI without requiring code. This first service trains image recognition systems using a drag-and-drop interface -- you just have to load photos, tag them and start the training process.
As mentioned at AutoML's preview back in May, Google is actually using "baby" neural networks to build these systems. It iterates the mini nets with reinforcement training and picks the best one from the bunch.
Not surprisingly, this costs money: you have to apply for access, and you'll be charged fees for both training the models and accessing them. You won't be using this to indulge in a hobby. However, this promises to make AI, and image recognition in particular, much more accessible. While there are already custom AI options (Microsoft can fine-tune its trained AI models for you), Google's approach is simple and hands-on enough that your favorite website or device maker could roll AI into their products with relatively little effort.
There are already some practical examples. Disney, for instance, is using Cloud AutoML to help you search for products on its store based on what they look like, not arbitrary tags. You can find that Buzz Lightyear toy even if it's been miscategorized. Conservationists at the Zoological Society of London, meanwhile, are hoping to automatically categorize animals that pass by wildlife cameras. While there will still be a need for advanced, manually programmed AI, it won't be as essential as it used to be.
- Lyft and Aptiv will partner on self-driving cars beyond CES
This year at CES, ride-hailing app company Lyft partnered with Aptiv, an autonomous tech company, for a pilot program involving self-driving cars. Modified BMWs were available for on-demand rides to up to 20 destinations within Las Vegas as part of the demonstration. Now, it appears that this program was so successful that read about our own experiences taking a ride in the cars. It will be interesting to see how the two companies develop their partnership and how they choose to move forward with their second pilot program.
- Bitcoin tumbles below $10,000, half of its peak value
Bitcoin has crashed to as low as $9,500, falling below $10,000 for the first time since November and neatly halving its December 19th peak of $19,000, according to Coinbase. It has declined steadily since CES 2018 started, thanks to reports that South Korea planned to clamp down on the cryptocurrency. If you hedged your bets with Ethereum, Ripple or Dogecoin, then that didn't help either, as most virtual currencies have fallen precipitously since yesterday.
Analysts, and nearly everyone else with common sense, have been expecting a correction. "The market was very overheated and had significantly dislocated from trend," CryptoCompare's Charles Hayter told CNBC. "A large percentage of investors were expecting this correction and reversion to mean." He added that the panic was "leading the herd to sell with no other justification than fear."
Adding to the tension is the fact that China's central bank reportedly said that the government should ban the centralized trading of the currencies. The nation is reportedly trying to (gently) push crypto-miners out of the country because the energy used by tens of thousands of computers creates pollution. China is also concerned it could spawn an economic crisis -- something that a lot of investors are no doubt experiencing right now. (Another unexpected consequence, as Engadget noted in a 2013 explainer, the tendency for folks to hoard the currency rather than spending it will almost always cause a boom, followed by a crash. In other words, bitcoin is highly volatile, and it's just as plausible that it'll get back to its peak or even exceed it.
- Amazon renews ‚ÄėThe Tick‚Äô for a second season
Amazon decided to take on the quirky superhero spoof The Tick in 2016 despite the fact that the last live-action version of the comic was cancelled before it could complete a single season. But that risk seems to be paying off because Amazon has now greenlit a second season of the show even though the first season isn't yet finished.
"I am so excited that Amazon wants to continue this wildly fruitful collaboration and that this amazing cast gets to stay together, and that we get to build this mythos further, wider, deeper, and taller," series creator Ben Edlund said in a statement. "We got a good ball of mud spinning with the right tilt of axis, I'm very happy we have this opportunity to keep peopling it." Naturally, The Tick also had something to say about the series renewal. "You feel it too, don't you? Destiny's warm hand in the small of your back, pushing, pushing. She's on a roll," he said.
Series leads Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman will be be returning for season two and additional casting will be announced later on. The 10-episode second season is scheduled to debut in 2019 and production will begin this year. The second half of season one kicks off on February 23rd.
- YouTube taps Kevin Durant for more sports-focused video
Kevin Durant's YouTube channelis extremely popular; it's a place his fans can go to learn more about the basketball star through fan Q&As and take a peek inside his workout sessions. That's why it's not a huge surprise that, as CNET reports, YouTube has struck a deal with Durant's startup Thirty Five Media in order to create more sports-centered video content for the service. Details about the deal, including financial terms and length, aren't available.
In a crowded media landscape, sports are a clear way to attract viewers to a platform. Just last month, Facebook said its eventual budget for sports could be "a few billion dollars," while Amazon recently snagged the rightsfor NFL Thursday live streaming. As these deals are snapped up (and increase in price), agreements with individual star athletes, like Durant, can fill in the gaps.
Facebook has previously signed deals with individual stars, including the Balls, a popular family of basketball stars (no pun intended). That series has amassed quite the viewership for Facebook, in part thanks to patriarch LaVar Ball's antics, and it's likely YouTube is looking for similar results with the sports stars that it signs.
- Twitter faces trademark infringement lawsuit from podcast network
TWiT, aka This Week in Tech, is suing Twitter. The well-known tech netcast says Twitter has broken a number of written and oral agreements and is infringing on its trademark. The two companies started up around the same time in the mid-2000s, with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams telling TWiT's Leo Laporte that Twitter was simply a "text-based microblogging service". The two informally agreed that, despite the similarities in their names, their platforms were fundamentally different and were happy to co-exist on the condition, the lawsuit alleges, of "each company continuing its own unique distribution platform." As far as TWiT is concerned, that's no longer the case.
According to the lawsuit, in 2009 Laporte became concerned that Twitter was going to develop audio and visual content that could challenge TWiT's. Williams allegedly then told Laporte "we're not expanding to audio or visual under the Twitter brand." But fast forward to May 2017, and Twitter announces its plans to basically do exactly that, delivering original, premium video content exclusively from its platform.
TWiT's attorneys have since ordered Twitter to stop expanding on its trademark. "Since that time, the parties have engaged in communications with the goal of informally resolving this dispute," the lawsuit states. "These efforts have not resolved the dispute, and Twitter continues its expansion into TWiT's business in breach of its agreement with Plaintiffs, refuting its representations and promises made, and infringing on Plaintiffs' intellectual property rights, all to Plaintiffs' injury." Engadget has reached out to TWiT and Twitter for comment.
- A new 'Fable' game is reportedly in the works
A brand new Fable game is in the works, or so says a number of sources close to the rumored project. According to Eurogamer, UK developer Playground has been given the job of creating a new, big-budget revisit to the fantasy world of Albion, and while franchise owner Microsoft said in a statement that it does not comment on rumor or speculation, all signs seem to give the reports credibility. For a start, November 2017 saw Playground openly reveal its plans for its first ever non-racing game, described only as an open-world action RPG. Meanwhile, Xbox boss Shannon Loftis has made no secret of Microsoft's fondness for the franchise.
According to Eurogamer, the new Fable will be something of a clean break from the previous iterations developed by former studio Lionhead. Original assets exist, but it's likely that Playground will start again from scratch. Don't expect its arrival any time soon, either. Sources say it's still early days for the project, but the pay-off should be massive. Around 200 people have been drafted in to work on the game at Playground's UK-based Warwickshire offices, which suggests Microsoft is throwing significant investment at the endeavour, and that Albion will return more fantastical than ever before.
- Google opens an office in China's Silicon Valley
Google's often fractious relationship with China may be softening on the news that the search giant is opening a new office in the country. The company already has two facilities in China, located in Beijing and Shanghai, but will now rent space in a building in Shenzhen, the Chinese equivalent to Silicon Valley. The province, which borders Hong Kong, is the home of Huawei, Tencent, ZTE, OnePlus -- not to mention the massive Foxconn plant that is also situated there.
As decade-long feud with the country. Back in 2010, Google shut down its Chinese search engine in protest against the country's heavy-handed censorship, which blocks references to anything the Communist Party dislikes. That includes references to pro-democracy campaigns, documents of internal corruption, police brutality, the Taiwanese independence movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre.
But the company can't ignore such a vast potential market forever, and it's thought that other pro-China initiatives are laying the groundwork for a return. It doesn't hurt that Shenzhen is home to key hardware partners, and now that it owns a big chunk of HTC's business, the need for face-to-face communication is key. And if Google is planning to make nice with China, it's going to need to make plenty of new friends in a very short amount of time.
- Mitsubishi's mirrorless car cameras can spot distant traffic
Mirrorless cars, terrifying as they may sound, as coming. In 2015, the United Nations gave the go ahead for carmakers to replace mirrors with cameras and display systems, so the race is on to design tech that's fit for the job. Now, Mitsubishi says it's developed the industry's highest-performing vehicle camera, able to detect objects up to 100 meters away.
The technology uses the brand's proprietary AI to give drivers advanced warning of upcoming obstacles, and is expected to help prevent accidents, especially when changing lanes. The system has a visual-cognition mode, which mimics human visual behavior to focus on the right thing in any given field of view, and it can distinguish between object types, such as pedestrians, cars and motorcycles (not that it's okay to drive into any of them, of course). Compared to conventional camera-based systems, this one extends the distance of object detection from 30 meters to 100 meters, and improves object detection accuracy from 14 percent to 81 percent.
Mirrorless cars are expected to launch in Japan as early as next year, a move driven by carmakers that say camera systems provide a wider, blind spot-free view for drivers and are therefore safer. Doing away with bulky mirrors also helps cars become more aerodynamic, which results in lots of selling points, such as faster speeds and better fuel efficiency, so expect other manufacturers to follow Mitsubishi's lead soon.
- Siri‚Äôs news bulletin feature goes live in the UK and Australia
Brits can now ask their iThings to give them a brief update on what's happening in the world with the command: "Hey Siri, give me the news." Siri doesn't actually read the news, though, and instead will automatically play the latest podcast from a trusted source of your choice. I was treated to a 2-minute bulletin from BBC News when I said the magic words to Siri this morning, which also offered Sky News and LBC up as alternative sources.
As Apple prepares Siri for life inside its HomePod smart speaker, it first added the news briefing feature to the beta version of iOS 11.2.5 -- limiting it to the States at that point, too, where The Washington Post, Fox News, NPR or CNN provide the updates. In a matter of weeks, however, it's now graduated out of beta to become a standard Siri feature in iOS 11, whilst rolling out to new territories. So far the UK and Australia are confirmed, but there could be other countries the feature is also live in.
- The Morning After: Wednesday, January 17th 2018
Welcome to the middle, and we've got more car news from the North American International Auto Show, which kicked off almost immediately after last week's CES. There is no rest. Also: a space junk laser.
Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 7 Plus is the second-best-selling smartphone in China.
US Congress reportedly lobbied AT&T to dump Huawei smartphones
AT&T recently revealed it wouldn't carry Huawei smartphones, despite rumors that it would be the first US carrier to do so, raising suspicions that politics played a part in its decision. Reportedly, US lawmakers did indeed pressure AT&T to drop its plans to carry handsets from the Chinese company. Furthermore, senators and House members are also pressuring AT&T to end its collaboration with Huawei on standards for its next-generation 5G network. The government is telling companies that dealing with Huawei, China Mobile and other firms could harm their ability to procure government contracts.
Space junk laser.
Chinese scientists unveil plan to zap space junk with orbital lasers
There have been more than a few proposals for eliminating space junk, such as grabbing it, gobbling it and blasting it from Earth. The latest idea, however, may be the most dramatic... and the most effective. Chinese researchers have successfully simulated an orbital laser station that would zap small debris that's under four-inches long.
House bill now has 80 co-sponsors, and 22 state attorneys general take legal action.
The fight to restore net neutrality is picking up steam
Yesterday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said that Senate Democrats now have a total of 50 votes in favor of restoring net neutrality. Today, the push back against the net neutrality repeal intensifies, as a companion House bill to reject the FCC's repeal now has 80 co-sponsors. What's more, 22 state attorneys general have also filed a lawsuit to block it from happening.
Android Auto, CarPlay, touchscreens, voice control and TV tuners, oh my.
Lamborghini's 650HP Urus is equal parts muscle and infotainment
Lamborghini's Urus is more than just an absurdly overpowered SUV; it's packed with technology both on the entertainment and safety sides, too. That means along with its 650-horsepower twin-turbo aluminum 4.0 liter V8 (whew), you also have the option for a pair of Android Auto tablets mounted to the back of the driver and passenger seats.
As you hoped, it oozes nostalgia.Watch the first footage from Kodak's reborn Super 8 film camera
Film may have had its day, but there's no denying it evokes a dreamy nostalgia that digital video can't match. Kodak got a lot of folks, including A-list Hollywood directors, excited about its hybrid Super 8 camera based on that idea and has now revealed the first footage that seems to deliver on its retro-tinged promise.
Bluetooth, USB-C and even more fine tuning?
Microsoft may be working on a new Xbox Elite controller
Microsoft's Xbox Elite controller is pricey but arguably the go-to choice for Xbox One owners who want a gamepad that fits their exact needs. And apparently, there's enough demand to merit a sequel. Here are some details that have already leaked.
But wait, there's more... Google Chromecast devices are messing with WiFi connections Facebook settles out of court in unique revenge-porn case 'NBA Jam' may return for its 25th anniversary The next weird 3DS game includes a tiny fishing reel Levandowski faces fresh accusations of stealing trade secrets
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- Microsoft's 15-inch Surface Book 2 comes to 17 new countries
Microsoft first launched the Surface Book 2 in November, but so far, both the 13- and 15-inch variants have only been available in the US. That's about to change, however, as the 15-inch model is now on pre-order in Australia, Canada, France, German, the UK and other European nations where, until now, only the 13-inch model was sold. On top of that, starting in February, Microsoft will release both Surface Book 2 models in places where it has yet to go on sale, including China, India, Italy, Qatar and other parts of Asia and the Middle East.
The 15-inch model is particularly interesting as a graphics and gaming unit, since it comes with a nicely powerful NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card (the 13-incher has NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics). Though you might be tempted to buy it as a gaming machine, know that the power supply isn't enough to sustain a charge if you're running games like learned from that experience for the Surface Book 2. In fact, Microsoft fixed nearly everything we didn't like about the last one, strengthening the hinge, improving the screen and making it work better as a tablet. With an eight-gen Intel CPU and NVIDIA 1060 graphics, it's certainly powerful, and incredibly light for a hybrid laptop/tablet at 4.2 pounds.
As mentioned, pre-orders start today for the 15-inch model in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Over the next few months, both the 13- and 15-inch models will go on sale in Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. Pricing starts at $1,499 for the 13-inch model and $2,499 for the 15-incher.
- London‚Äôs new electric taxis scuppered by faulty sensor
London's new electric taxis have been delayed. The "TX" cabs developed by LEVC were supposed to arrive in the capital late last year. But there's a problem with the system that tracks time and distance — recorded as electric "pulses" — for the all-important fare meter. It's forced the company to push back its delivery schedule while a fix is developed and approved by Transport for London (TfL). "Deliveries are subject to a short delay as a result of an unexpected issue with compatibility with the taxi meters and the taxi," an LEVC spokesperson said. "The problem is understood, and it involves the pulse messages sent between the vehicle and the meter."
LEVC, formerly known as The London Taxi Company, is working with TfL and third-party meter suppliers on a solution. It's unclear exactly which component is causing the issue, however. A spokesperson explained that it's causing the taxis to deliver fewer "pulses" than normal, which in turn produces low, inaccurate fares. (Not a bad problem for London citizens, but I'm sure taxi drivers wouldn't be impressed.) LEVC now expects to fulfil its first taxi orders sometime next week. Only then can it usher in the greener, tech-savvy era of transportation mayor Sadiq Khan has been longing for.
The new car has a 1.3 litre, three-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator for a battery pack and electric motor. As a pure EV, it can travel up to 70 miles on a single charge, but with a full tank of petrol that rises to 400 miles. Its green credentials, then, are limited, but it does meet the zero-remissions capable" requirement that was introduced on January 1st. London's air quality is notoriously bad and it's hoped the new cabs will improve public health as older, traditional gas-guzzlers are switched out.
The TX comes with a contemporary interior too. It has onboard WiFi, USB charging and support for contactless payments — a requirement in London since 2016. Drivers also have access to a sat-nav with information about traffic congestion and charger points. The latter will be crucial as the city gradually expands its EV-refueling infrastructure. Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, told the Guardian that there is "still nowhere near the number of rapid charge points" required in central London. Tfl has promised to install 300 by 2020, but the slow roll out could limit the initial interest from drivers.
There's also the issue of price. At £55,600 — including an electric vehicle grant of £7,500 — it's hardly an impulse buy. Though running costs are lower, the initial cost is considerably higher than a traditional diesel model. That's a problem for an industry that is already steeling itself against ride-hailing services such as Uber. At the moment people are very hesitant," McNamara added. "We've got to pay £12,000 more for a vehicle that we don't know the reliability or durability of, at a time when the market is being squeezed by that company [Uber]." The TX has an uphill battle, then, even once LEVC has fixed its mysterious vehicle-to-meter interface glitch.
Via: The Guardian
- Lyft opens its ride-booking Concierge service to all businesses
Lyft has finally opened up Concierge to businesses and organizations of all sizes. The program allows members to hail rides for other people, giving companies a way to offer that extra touch of service to customers, especially those who can't call for a ride themselves due to one thing or another. Concierge launched in 2016 when Lyft teamed up with the National Medtrans Network in New York City -- the perfect place to start, since most residents don't have cars -- to take patients to the doctor.
After a while, Lyft forged partnerships with more companies, including JetBlue, CareMore and GoGoGrandparent. JetBlue, for instance, can call a Lyft to offer their passengers or crew a seamless journey, while GoGoGrandparent can hail a ride for the seniors who call their number on a landline. Rotor Zen, a San Diego-based helicopter tour operator, also uses the service to get guests from hotels and to drive them back after their tour.
Now, Concierge is open to any company, so long as they sign up for a Lyft Business account and add a payment method. They can hail almost any type of Lyft ride for employees and clients alike. It's worth taking note, however, that the companies will be able to track passengers' journeys in real time. That's ideal for businesses like GoGoGrandparent, so they can track their elderly customers. But those who don't appreciate being watched by their employers might want to call a ride on their own and just ask for reimbursement.
- Teach valuable STEM skills with electronic papercraft noisemakers
*Hitches up onion belt* Now back in my day, our papercraft activity books just folded up into something pretty. And we liked it that way. But you kids, with your Nintendoodads and Snapcharts, well that just isn't good enough, is it? No, your paper-based projects have to employ all sorts of electrical circuits, teach STEM skills, make music and ok this is actually pretty cool.
Dubbed "Papier Machine", this interactive booklet is actually a compendium of six electronic toys that you can tear out, assemble and play music with. Each page is silkscreened with conductive silver ink (similar to the stuff used in touchscreen-enabled gloves) and the entire kit includes everything else you'll need to complete each activity: button cell batteries, a tiny sound chip, piezoelectric elements and so on.
With the Papier Machine book, you'll be able to create a basic working keyboard, race magnetic marbles around a gyroscopic racetrack, build a paper wind chime that plays evolving electronica melodies, and a whole bunch more. The booklet is currently an ongoing Kickstarter project (having hit $34,000 of its $55,000 funding goal as of the time of this post's publication with 33 days left). Each kit is going for €35 ($43) as part of the project's early bird pricing. Should it fully fund, the company hopes to begin shipping product to backers starting July, 2018.
- Antique BeOS Content by Scot Hacker
In late 2002, Byte.com decided to combat falling ad revenue by charging admission to its archives of computing content. I have first-hand experience tring to harvest enough revenue from the Internet to pay operating costs, and fully support Byte's decision to move to a subscription model. However, my BeView columns on Byte.com are now virtually hidden from search engines and thus from the Internet, and hundreds of incoming links (which now redirect to a subscription page) might as well be broken. The BeOS content I provided to Byte.com over the two years I wrote for them is tailored to a very specific niche audience. BeOS itself is, for practical intents and purposes, completely dead. Even though these articles were surprisingly well-trafficked at the time, it is hard for me to imagine that anyone would pay for access to the Byte archives just to read a few old nuggets. Scot Hacker's BeOS columns for Byte, neatly archived. What an amazing treasure trove. I don't think this archive is new by any means, but it's the first time I've seen it.
- Apple changed the future of laptops 10 years ago today
"It's the world‚¬Ä¬ôs thinnest notebook," said Steve Jobs as he introduced the MacBook Air 10 years ago today. Apple's Macworld 2008 was a special one, taking place just days after the annual Consumer Electronics Show had ended and Bill Gates bid farewell to Microsoft. Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by removing it from a tiny paper office envelope, and the crowd was audibly shocked at just how small and thin it was. We'd never seen a laptop quite like it, and it immediately changed the future of laptops. The unveiling of the original MacBook Air was a watershed moment for laptop. Sure, the first model wasn't exactly a speedy machine, and it had an incredibly hefty price tag, but it changed the entire market. Later models became incredibly successful, and for years it formed the backbone of Apple's laptop lineup. Every other manufacturer would eventually copy most of its design and construction, to the point where every laptop in the ‚¬ā¨800-1200 range sported the MacBook Air-like design. It became the benchmark every other similarly priced laptop was compared to. It's still for sale today, but it's an outdated machine mostly kept around for its low price, ironically enough. Interestingly enough, just today, I bought a new keyboard for my iOS laptop (a 2017 iPad Pro 12.9"), which gives it a look very similar to a MacBook Air - just without the legacy operating system. The spirit of the Air definitely lives on in laptops of the future.
- Google memory loss
Tim Bray, former Google employee, currently working at Amazon, writes: I think Google has stopped indexing the older parts of the Web. I think I can prove it. Google‚¬Ä¬ôs competition is doing better. It's an interesting theory for sure, but it seems hard to back this up with any tangible evidence. How would you even test this? You can pick specific web sites to test this with, but that will always be an incredibly small - infinitesimally, unbelievably small - subset of web sites, and there's no way to extrapolate any of that to the web as a whole. To make matters worse, Google tailors search results to the information they have on you, making this even harder.
- New bill aims to ban US gov from using Huawei, ZTE phones
US lawmakers have long worried about the security risks posed the alleged ties between Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and the country's government. To that end, Texas Representative Mike Conaway introduced a bill last week called Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, which aims to ban US government agencies from using phones and equipment from the companies. Almost all phones and electronics - including most "American" or "European" phones - are made in China. This seems more like a battle in a wider trade war than something related to spying.
- Wrong dropdown menu selection led to false missile warning
Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: "Test missile alert" and "Missile alert". He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert. "In this case, the operator selected the wrong menu option," HEMA spokesman Richard Rapoza told The Washington Post on Sunday. A dropdown menu with just two options. That's incredibly bad user interface design.
- Reading disks from 1988 in 2018
I used an Apple IIe computer throughout high school and into my second year in college, before I bought a Mac SE. That following summer I sold the Apple IIe and everything that came with it - the monitor, floppy drives, and dot-matrix printer - and pocketed the cash. What I was left with were two boxes containing two dozen 5.25-inch floppy disks. I could've thrown the disks away - I had already transferred all the files I cared about to the Mac. But for some reason I saved them instead. And the two dozen floppy disks stayed in two battered boxes for the next 27 years.
- Apple's iOS security document
Apple designed the iOS platform with security at its core. When we set out to create the best possible mobile platform, we drew from decades of experience to build an entirely new architecture. We thought about the security hazards of the desktop environment, and established a new approach to security in the design of iOS. We developed and incorporated innovative features that tighten mobile security and protect the entire system by default. As a result, iOS is a major leap forward in security for mobile devices. This document provides details about how security technology and features are†implemented within the iOS platform. It will also help organizations combine iOS†platform security technology and features with their own policies and procedures to meet their specific security needs. Some light reading over the weekend.
- What really happened with Vista: an insider's retrospective
I enjoyed reading Terry Crowley's thoughtful blog (What Really Happened with Vista). Terry worked in the Office organization and did a fantastic job covering the complex machinations that went into Windows Vista and the related but doomed Longhorn project‚¬Ä¬ä-‚¬Ä¬äfrom an outsider's point of view. He correctly identified many of the problems that dogged the project and I don't mean to rehash any of them here. I figured it was only fair to try to offer an insider's view of the same events. I can't hope to be as eloquent or thorough as Terry but hope to shed some light on what went wrong. Ten years have gone by since the original release date of Windows Vista but the lessons seem more relevant now than ever. I really enjoy these stories from people involved with the Vista project. Even though we complained left and right about Vista itself, the release was still hugely important and many of Windows NT's core systems were rewritten from scratch, and we still profit from those reworks and rewrites today. Doesn't retroactively make using Vista any less painful, though.
- See the long-lost NES prototype of SimCity
Gamers of a certain age probably remember that Nintendo worked with Maxis to port a version of the seminal SimCity to the brand-new SNES in 1991. What most gamers probably don't realize is that an NES version of the game was developed at the same time and cancelled just before its planned release. That version of the game was considered lost for decades until two prototype cartridges surfaced in the collecting community last year. One of those prototypes has now been obtained and preserved by the Video Game History Foundation's (VGHF's) Frank Cifaldi, who demonstrated the emulated ROM publicly for the first time at MAGFest last weekend. I'm a SimCity 2000 person myself, but the original SimCity is a classic, and I love that they finally managed to preserve it.
- Apple is moving its Chinese iCloud operations to a local firm
Apple is moving its Chinese iCloud operations from its own datacenters to a local Chinese company run by the government. The firm is called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). It's based in Guizhou Province and supervised by a board ran by government-owned businesses. In emails to mainland Chinese customers, Apple says that the move enables "us to continue improving the speed and reliability of iCloud and to comply with Chinese regulations." But there's also the chance that closer ties with the Chinese government might mean more regulation, which Apple has a record of abiding closely to in the past. Last July, Apple deleted VPN apps from the App Store that had helped netizens evade Chinese censorship, "because it includes content that is illegal in China." Those who aren't happy with the move at least have the option of closing their iCloud accounts. Read into it what you will, but the ties between Apple and the Chinese government are strengthening. One has to wonder how long until Apple has to open up iMessage's encryption.
- The fight for patent-unencumbered codecs is nearly won
Apple joining the Alliance for Open Media is a really big deal. Now all the most powerful tech companies - Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, AMD, ARM, Nvidia - plus content providers like Netflix and Hulu are on board. I guess there's still no guarantee Apple products will support AV1, but it would seem pointless for Apple to join AOM if they're not going to use it: apparently AOM membership obliges Apple to provide a royalty-free license to any "essential patents" it holds for AV1 usage. It seems that the only thing that can stop AOM and AV1 eclipsing patent-encumbered codecs like HEVC is patent-infringement lawsuits (probably from HEVC-associated entities). I can barely believe this is still a thing, and that it seems like a positive outcome.
- Gemini is a tiny Android laptop with the spirit of Psion
The Gemini is a clamshell Android device with an 18:9 ultrawide 1080p screen and a compact but more-or-less full physical keyboard. It runs on a 10-core MediaTek Helio X27 processor and has 4GB of RAM, a 4,220mAh battery, and two USB-C ports. It‚¬Ä¬ôs 15.1mm thick when closed and weighs 308g. There are both Wi-Fi-only and LTE-capable models. The software is pretty much stock Android with a useful customized dock that can be brought up anywhere, and you can also dual-boot into Linux for more customization. This is exactly what I've always wanted. A tiny Psion Series 5-like computer running a modern operating system. This machine can run Android and regular Linux, and seems quite similar in concept to the GPD Pocket 7, which sadly seems to be hard to come by here in The Netherlands (I'd want to run Haiku on the GPD Pocket 7). To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what's I'd use such a tiny laptop for, but they're tiny enough they're not really taking up space.
- Performance impact of Spectre, Meltdown patches on Windows
From Microsoft's blog: Last week the technology industry and many of our customers learned of new vulnerabilities in the hardware chips that power phones, PCs and servers. We (and others in the industry) had learned of this vulnerability under nondisclosure agreement several months ago and immediately began developing engineering mitigations and updating our cloud infrastructure. In this blog, I'll describe the discovered vulnerabilities as clearly as I can, discuss what customers can do to help keep themselves safe, and share what we've learned so far about performance impacts. The basic gist here is this: the older your processor and the older your Windows version, the bigger the performance impact will be. Windows 10 users will experience a smaller performance impact than Windows 7 and 8 users, and anyone running Haswell or older processors will experience a bigger impact than users of newer processors.
- Everything is too complicated
It's the very beginning of CES 2018, and the first trickles of gadget news are starting to come out. The flood begins tomorrow as the show floor opens and keynotes and press conferences begin in earnest. It's easy to see the broad themes of the show and the tech industry at large already forming: smart assistants everywhere, sensors and radios in every device you can think of, and an eternal hope that something, anything, will be the reason people will finally upgrade their TVs. All of that is exciting - I love gadgets and am one of the few crazy people that think CES is incredibly fun! - but I want to take a half-step back before it all begins and point out something obvious: most people have no idea how any of these things work, and are already hopelessly confused by the tech they have. Shoving a display and garbage software on every single possible household item is simply a really, really dumb idea. Add networking into the mix, and it becomes outright dangerous. People end up with products they have no idea how to use, that quickly become outdated, aren't getting software updates, and quickly become dangerous attack vectors for all sorts of possible criminals. The article also touches on something else - namely, that even things like smartphones are getting way, way too complicated for most people. I, too, am continuously surprised by how little people around me really know about their smartphone - be it iOS or Android - and what certain things mean or how certain functions work, or that they even have said functions at all. Tech companies are doing a terrible job of exposing users to functionality in a meaningful, understandable way.
- The oldest x86 processor still supported by a modern Linux kernel?
What is the oldest x86 processor that is still supported by a modern Linux kernel in present time? I asked the above quiz question during the Geekcamp tech conference in Nov 2017 during my emcee role. The theoretical answer as you can glean from the title of this post is the 486 which was first released in 1989. I determined that fact from this article where support for the 386 was dropped in Dec 2012. To get you interested, here is the result of my effort. Cool project.
- Avoiding Server Disaster
Worried that your server will go down? You should be. Here are some disaster-planning tips for server owners.
- Visualizing Molecules with Python
Introducing PyMOL, a Python package for studying chemical structures.
I've looked at several open-source packages for computational chemistry in the past, but in this article, I cover a package written in Python called PyMOL.
- What I See for LJ 2.0: in a Word, Community
It has been too long, but I was at least one of the founders of the Seattle UNIX User's Group. I remember the first meeting well. It took place at Seattle University, and our guest speaker was Bill Joy. He impressed me in that he had a huge pile of overhead transparencies (remember, this was in the 1980s), asked a few questions of the group, selected some of them and started talking.
- 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