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LinuxSecurity - Security Advisories











  • Debian LTS: DLA-1993-1: mesa security update
    Tim Brown discovered a shared memory permissions vulnerability in the Mesa 3D graphics library. Some Mesa X11 drivers use shared-memory XImages to implement back buffers for improved performance, but Mesa



LWN.net

  • [$] Keeping memory contents secret
    One of the many responsibilities of the operating system is to helpprocesses keep secrets from each other. Operating systems often fail inthis regard, sometimes due to factors — such as hardware bugs and user-spacevulnerabilities — that are beyond their direct control. It is thusunsurprising that there is an increasing level of interest in ways toimprove the ability to keep data secret, perhaps even from the operatingsystem itself. The MAP_EXCLUSIVEpatch set from Mike Rapoport is one example of the work that is being donein this area; it also shows that the development community has not yetreally begun to figure out how this type of feature should work.


  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (kernel), Debian (ghostscript, mesa, and postgresql-common), Fedora (chromium, php-robrichards-xmlseclibs, php-robrichards-xmlseclibs3, samba, scap-security-guide, and wpa_supplicant), Mageia (cpio, fribidi, libapreq2, python-numpy, webkit2, and zeromq), openSUSE (ImageMagick, kernel, libtomcrypt, qemu, ucode-intel, and xen), Oracle (kernel), Red Hat (ghostscript, kernel, and kernel-rt), Scientific Linux (ghostscript and kernel), SUSE (bash, enigmail, ghostscript, ImageMagick, kernel, libjpeg-turbo, openconnect, and squid), and Ubuntu (ghostscript, imagemagick, and postgresql-common).


  • Cook: Security things in Linux v5.3
    Kees Cook catchesup with the security improvements in the 5.3 kernel."In recent exploits, one of the steps for making the attacker’s lifeeasier is to disable CPU protections like Supervisor Mode Access (andExecute) Prevention (SMAP and SMEP) by finding a way to write to CPUcontrol registers to disable these features. For example, CR4 controls SMAPand SMEP, where disabling those would let an attacker access and executeuserspace memory from kernel code again, opening up the attack to muchgreater flexibility. CR0 controls Write Protect (WP), which when disabledwould allow an attacker to write to read-only memory like the kernel codeitself. Attacks have been using the kernel’s CR4 and CR0 writing functionsto make these changes (since it’s easier to gain that level of executecontrol), but now the kernel will attempt to 'pin' sensitive bits in CR4and CR0 to avoid them getting disabled. This forces attacks to do more workto enact such register changes going forward."


  • [$] The Yocto Project 3.0 release
    The Yocto Project recentlyannounced its 3.0 release, maintaining the spring/fall cadence it has followed for thepast nine years. As well as the expected updates, it contains new thinking ongetting the best of two worlds: source builds and prebuilt binaries. Thisfits well into a landscape where reproducibility and software traceability,all the way through to device updates, are increasingly important to handlecomplex security issues.


  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (kernel, linux-lts, and linux-zen), CentOS (kernel, sudo, and thunderbird), Debian (linux-4.9), Fedora (samba), openSUSE (apache2-mod_auth_openidc, kernel, qemu, rsyslog, and ucode-intel), Oracle (kernel), Red Hat (kernel and kernel-rt), Scientific Linux (kernel), SUSE (kernel and microcode_ctl), and Ubuntu (kernel, libjpeg-turbo, linux, linux-hwe, linux-oem, linux, linux-hwe, linux-oem-osp1, and qemu).



  • [$] Analyzing kernel email
    Digging into the email that provides the cornerstone of Linux kerneldevelopment is an endeavor that has become more popular over the last fewyears. There are some practical reasons for analyzing thekernel mailing lists and for correlating that information with the patchesthat actually reach the mainline, including tracking the path thatpatches take—or don't take. Three researchers reported on some effortsthey have made on kernel email analysis at the 2019Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE), held in late October in Lyon, France.


  • Announcing the Bytecode Alliance
    The Bytecode Alliance is anindustry partnership with the aim of forging WebAssembly’s outside-the-browserfuture by collaborating on implementing standards and proposing newones. The newlyformed alliance has "a vision of a WebAssembly ecosystem that issecure by default, fixing cracks in today’s softwarefoundations". The alliance is currently working on a standaloneWebAssembly runtime, two use-case specific runtimes, runtime components,and language tooling.


  • [$] The 2019 Automated Testing Summit
    This year saw the second edition of the AutomatedTesting Summit (ATS) and the first that was open to all. Last year's ATS was an invitation-onlygathering of around 35 developers (that was described in an LWN article),while this year's event attractedaround 50 attendees; both were held in conjunction with theEmbedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE), in Edinburgh, Scotland for 2018and in Lyon, France this year. The basic problem has not changed—morecollaboration is needed between the different kernel testing systems—butthe starting points have been identified and work is progressing, albeitslowly. Part of the problem, of course, is that all of these testingefforts have their own constituencies and customers, who must be kept upand running, even while any of this collaborative development is going on.


  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (dpdk, intel-microcode, kernel, libssh2, qemu, and webkit2gtk), Fedora (apache-commons-beanutils, bluez, iwd, kernel, kernel-headers, kernel-tools, libell, and microcode_ctl), openSUSE (gdb), Oracle (kernel), Red Hat (kernel and kernel-rt), SUSE (dhcp, evolution, kernel, libcaca, python, python-xdg, qemu, sysstat, ucode-intel, and xen), and Ubuntu (dpdk, intel-microcode, kernel, linux, linux-aws, linux-kvm, linux, linux-lts-trusty, linux-azure, linux-hwe, linux-kvm, linux-oem, linux-oracle, linux-kvm, linux-oem-osp1, linux-oracle, linux-raspi2, linux-lts-xenial, linux-aws, linux-raspi2, and webkit2gtk).


  • This week's hardware vulnerabilities
    A set of patches has just been pushed into the mainline repository (andstable updates) for yetanother set of hardware vulnerabilities. "TSX async abort" (or TAA)exposes information through the usual side channels by way of internalbuffers used with the transactional memory (TSX) instructions. Mitigationis done by disabling TSX or by clearing the relevant buffers when switchingbetween kernel and user mode. Given that this is not the first problemwith TSX, disabling it entirely is recommended; a microcode update may beneeded to do so, though. This commit containsdocumentation on this vulnerability and its mitigation.
    There are also fixes for another vulnerability:it seems that accessing a memory address immediately after the size of thepage containing it was changed (from a regular to a huge page, forexample) can cause the processor to lock up. This behavior is consideredundesirable by many. The vulnerability onlyexists for pages marked as executable; the mitigation is to force allexecutable pages to be the regular, 4K page size.


  • Stable kernel updates
    Stable kernels 5.3.11, 4.19.84, 4.14.154, 4.9.201, and 4.4.201 have been released. They all containimportant fixes and users should upgrade.


  • Security updates for Tuesday
    Security updates have been issued by Fedora (community-mysql, crun, java-latest-openjdk, and mupdf), openSUSE (libssh2_org), and SUSE (go1.12, libseccomp, and tar).


  • [$] Debian reconsiders init-system diversity
    Many community-based Linux distributions have made the decision to switchto systemd, and most of those decisions were accompanied by lengthy,sometimes acrimonious mailing-list discussions. No distribution had aharder time of it than Debian, though, where arguments raged through muchof 2013 before the Debian Technical Committee decided on systemd in early 2014. Thereafter,it is fair to say,appetite for renewing the init-system discussion has been low. Now,though, the topic has returned to the fore andit would appear that the project is heading toward a new generalresolution to decide at what level init systems other than systemd shouldbe supported.


  • FSF: New Respects Your Freedom website
    The Free Software Foundation's Respects Your Freedom program provides acertification for hardware that supports your freedom. A new website listing certified products has beenlaunched. "In 2012, when we announced the first certification,we hosted information about the program and retailers as a simple page onthe Free Software Foundation (FSF) Web site. With only one retailer sellingone device, this was certainly satisfactory. As the program grew, we addedeach new device chronologically to that page, highlighting the newestcertifications. We are now in a place where eight different retailers havegained nearly fifty certifications [...]. With so many devices available, across so many different device categories, it was getting more difficult for users to find what they were looking for in just a plain chronological list."



LXer Linux News

  • PyRadio: An open source alternative for internet radio
    PyRadio is a convenient, open source, command-line application for playing any radio station that has a streaming link. And in 2019, almost every radio station (certainly, every one that has a web presence) has a way to listen online. Using the free PyRadio program, you can add, edit, play and switch between your own selected list of streaming radio stations. It is a command-line tool for Linux that can run on many computers, including Macintosh and tiny computers like Raspberry Pi.








  • APT Package Manager on Linux Explained
    In this tutorial, we are going to focus on Linux package management using the APT package manager. First, we are going to go through a bit of history on the origins of Open Source Software in order to grasp the fundamentals of Linux packages. Later on, we will be focusing a bit more on APT (Advanced Package Tool) and we are to see how you can compile your own programs in order to have custom installations.


  • Whoami Command in Linux
    The whoami command is a compound of the words “Who am I?” and prints the name of the user associated with the current effective user ID.




  • Intel says Keem Bay VPU offers 10 times the AI performance of the Myriad X
    Intel announced a third-gen VPU code-named “Keem Bay” that will offer 10 times the AI performance as its Myriad X chip. It’s claimed to be equivalent to a Jetson Xavier AGX, but with up to 4.7 times more power efficiency. At Intel’s AI Summit held yesterday in San Francisco, the chipmaker announced a third-generation version […]


  • How to Install Wekan on CentOS 7
    Wekan is a web-based kanban board application that provides task distribution using intuitive graphics for better and modern team collaboration. Wekan makes use of what they call ‘Board’ from which you can add your team members. Added members can be assigned on a ‘Card’ which is simply a card-like interface that contains the details about a task. In this tutorial, we will be installing Wekan and Snap on a CentOS 7 VPS.







  • It's RedHat, And Everyone Else
    As time passes, it appears that corporations are primarily considering one distribution when considering installing Linux, and that distro is clearly RedHat. That probably does not come as any major surprise, but it appears RedHat's dominance continues to get stronger. What use to be a landscape littered with a multitude of choices has nearly been rendered down to one. Wow! That didn't take long. The open source software dynamic seemed to be formed on the premise that users were never again going to be pigeon-holed into using one piece of software. Or, perhaps better stated, that was a byproduct of making the source code readily available. And, that is still true to this day. However, as a corporate citizen in today's business climate, one finds themselves with limited possibilities.



[[LinuxInsider

	Copyright 2019
	http://www.linuxinsider.com|Linux Insider"LinuxInsider"]]
  • ALT Linux: Worthy Linux Alternatives, With a Catch
    ALT Linux offers a buffet of Linux distributions that meet a variety of specialized needs. Its inviting selections could be a good source of alternative Linux OS solutions if you take the time to sort out the menus. You might find navigating the poorly designed website a tedious chore. Still, persevering could get you a few tasty options to satisfy your computing appetite.


  • KaOS Linux Brings Order to the Desktop
    The KaOS distro is an up-and-coming Linux OS that provides one of the best integrations yet of a refreshed KDE-based computing platform. Two types of users gravitate to this solidly maintained distribution: those who are frustrated by poor user experiences with Linux distros that are bloated and cumbersome to use; and those who want a better and more controlled KDE desktop environment.


  • Microsoft's Chromium-Based Edge Browser Available as Release Candidate
    Along with unveiling its new Edge browser logo, Microsoft announced the official launch date of its nearly finished Chromium-based Edge browser and made its Release Candidate available for download immediately. The latest beta edition of the browser is stable enough for anyone to use, Microsoft said, and it will help IT admins prepare for the mid-Jan. 15 rollout.


  • Latest ExTix: Lots of Flexibility and a Few Flaws
    ExTiX 19.10, released with the LXQt desktop on Oct. 23, is a customized Linux distro that leaves you wanting more but settling for less. ExTix is a lightweight modular Linux operating system that is part of the Exton Linux/Live Systems family of distributions hosted by The Swedish Linux Society. The ExTix distro line is perhaps the best known of Exton's Linux platforms.


  • Linux Inside Azure Sphere on the Horizon
    Azure Sphere will be generally available in Feb 2020, Microsoft has announced. Its scheduled arrival highlights Microsoft's readiness to fulfill its promise for better IoT device security at scale. Microsoft first introduced Azure Sphere in 2018, opting to use its own version of a Linux operating system instead of Windows 10 to drive its new Azure Sphere OS to securely connect IoT devices.


  • Dragora Linux Is Anything But Simple
    Dragora is a fledgling Linux distribution that neither works out of the box nor is user-friendly. That said, if you have an adventurous interest in practically starting from scratch and somewhat building your own computing platform, Dragora could be an interesting side project to learn how a distribution works on the inside.


  • Samsung's Support for Linux on DeX Fizzles
    Samsung has called quits on its effort to provide a full Linux desktop platform for Android. In an email to beta testers last week, Samsung said it would not support its Linux on DeX beta program for future OS and device releases. Samsung's announcement coincides with Google's release of the Android 10 OS update and its rollout on Samsung phones. Neither company will provide Linux on DeX support.


  • Solus Brightens Computing Across the Linux User Spectrum
    The Solus Project is alive and well and continues to offer a fresh approach to uncomplicating the computer desktop. That says a lot, given the sometimes sordid developmental path of the almost 5-year-old Linux distribution. Solus 4.0 Linux "Fortitude" was updated earlier this month. The Solus team provided improvements to the distribution's supported desktop environments: Budgie, GNOME and MATE.


  • 'Serious' Linux Sudo Bug's Damage Potential Actually May Be Small
    Developers have patched a vulnerability in Sudo, a core command utility for Linux, that could allow a user to execute commands as a root user even if that root access was specifically disallowed. The patch prevents potential serious consequences within Linux systems. However, the Sudo vulnerability posed a threat only to a narrow segment of the Linux user base, according to Todd Miller, a maintainer of the open source Sudo project.


  • Austrumi Linux Has Great Potential if You Speak Its Language
    Austrumi Linux is an unusual distribution. With a little more polish, it could be a good tool for running Linux on any computer you touch without changing anything on the hard drive. Last updated on Oct. 3 to version 4.08, Austrumi Linux is a bootable live Linux distribution based on Slackware Linux. It was created and is maintained by a group of programmers from the Latgale region of Latvia.


  • Devs Engage in Soul-Searching on Future of Open Source
    Two things to avoid in online discussions are politics and religion. Open source technology may be an explosive third topic that software developers should be wary of subjecting to a virtual debate. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg and Ruby on Rails creator and Basecamp cofounder David Heinemeier Hansson got into an all-out Twitter slugfest last week about the role of open source.


  • SolydXK Delivers Rock Solid Linux Performance
    SolydXK is a Debian-based distribution with a choice of Xfce or KDE desktops. Both versions are simple to use and offer dependable and consistent performance. SolydX and SolydK are Debian Buster-based Linux OSes with the Xfce and KDE desktops respectively. The SolydXK distro is a solid open source alternative for small businesses, nonprofit organizations and home users.


  • ArcoLinux Eases the Way for the Arch-Curious User
    ArcoLinux is a big change for the better for anyone switching from another Linux distro to the Arch infrastructure. ArcoLinux previously was known as "ArchMerge Linux." It is a rolling update distribution based on Arch Linux, but it offers an unusual learning path to make assimilating into the Arch architecture a more pleasant experience. ArcoLinux is a continuation of ArchMerge Linux.


  • Manjaro 18.1: Goes Arch One Better
    Manjaro Linux 18.1, released on Sept. 12, is one of the most complete Linux OSes you will find. It is a powerhouse distro that offers a better Arch Linux computing platform, and it is the de facto standard for comparing Arch family options. After six months of development, the latest series is a fast, user-friendly, desktop-oriented operating system based on Arch Linux with an independent nature.


  • Pine64 Teases $25 Linux Smartwatch
    While open source enthusiasts still await the year of the Linux desktop, hardware developer Pine64 is advancing the cause of a $25 Linux-powered smartwatch, dubbed "PineTime." The Pine64 community has invited developers with an interest in smartwatches to join in its efforts to bring the product to market. Pine64 makes inexpensive Linux-based single board ARM computers that cost $15 to $20.


  • Archman Linux: Pure Arch With Extra Flair
    Archman is an Arch Linux-based rolling distribution featuring the Calamares system installer, Pamac package manager, and a selection of preconfigured desktop environments. The distro's name is derived from the combination of Arch Linux and Pacman package management. The new version comes with a customized Xfce 4.14 desktop environment. The customization is immediately noticeable.



Slashdot

  • White House Unveils Rules Requiring Online Disclosure of Hospital Prices
    schwit1 shares a report from The Hill: The Trump administration on Friday unveiled new rules to require increased disclosure of health care prices, in a move officials said would drive down costs by increasing competition. One regulation would require hospitals to provide a consumer-friendly online page where prices are listed for 300 common procedures like X-rays and lab tests. A second regulation would require insurers to provide an online tool where people could compare their out-of-pocket costs at different medical providers before receiving treatment. The rule announced Friday affecting hospitals is a final rule, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. The rule for insurers is still a proposal that is not yet finalized. "Hospitals and insurers will fight this. The last thing they want is consumers price shopping," adds schwit1.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • MacBook Pro Teardown Confirms the New Keyboard Is Basically Just the Old, Good Keyboard
    iFixit's teardown of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro confirms that the keyboard uses the more reliable scissor-style switches that Apple first introduced in its Magic Keyboards in 2015. The Verge reports: The switches on the 16-inch MacBook Pro are so similar to the standalone keyboard, in fact, that iFixit's report says that keys are interchangeable between the two products. The change comes after a long, multiyear debate between Apple and customers over the butterfly switches, causing Apple to revamp the mechanism multiple times to block debris and add extra strength. Apple was also forced to acknowledge that the keyboards were problematic, and offered an extended warranty program for those laptops. Per iFixit, the new keys also have more travel when you press them (about 0.5 mm more), and the keycaps themselves are about 0.2 mm thicker compared to the much-maligned butterfly switches. The teardown also notes that the clips that attach the keycaps to the switches appear to be more reinforced to make it easier to remove or replace them down the line.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Supreme Court Will Hear Long-Running Google and Oracle Copyright Lawsuit
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The Supreme Court said on Friday that it will hear a dispute between tech giants Oracle and Google in a blockbuster case that could lead to billions of dollars in fines and shape copyright law in the internet era. The case concerns 11,500 lines of code that Google was accused of copying from Oracle's Java programming language. Google deployed the code in Android, now the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Oracle sued Google in 2010 alleging that the use of its code in Android violated copyright law.   Google won two victories in the lower courts but ultimately lost on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled last year for Oracle. Oracle has previously said it is entitled to $9 billion in damages, though no official penalty has been set. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle purchased in a deal valued at $7.4 billion that was completed in 2010. Underlying the legal issues in the case is a technical dispute over the nature of the code that Google used. Google has said that the code was essentially functional -- akin to copying the placement of keys on a QWERTY keyboard. Oracle maintains that the code, part of Java's application programming interface, or API, is a creative product, "like the chapter headings and topic sentences of an elaborate literary work." A number of high-profile tech firms urged the top court to take the case in order to side with Google.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Hulu Boosts the Price of Its Live-TV Service
    Hulu said Friday it will increase the price of its online cable TV alternative product Hulu Live by $10 to $55 a month in what is the latest sign providers are having trouble making money on discounted packages of channels that rival cable. From a report: Hulu Live, which offers about 60 channels such as ESPN and CNN, was first introduced two years ago. The price increase takes effect Dec. 18, the company said in a statement. So-called skinny bundles -- cheaper online alternatives to cable packages -- have struggled recently as budget-conscious consumers seem more willing to just cut out traditional cable networks entirely. Sony is shutting down its offering, PlayStation Vue, in January.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Xbox One November Update Arrives With Google Assistant, Gamertag Updates, More
    Microsoft's November 2019 update for Xbox One consoles is now headed out to everyone. From a report: After a period of testing with Xbox Insiders, several new features are now rolling out to the public, including Google Assistant support, the option to use any Gamertag, text filters, and more. Perhaps the biggest update here is support for Google Assistant. While it doesn't run on your Xbox, Google Assistant support allows you to issue commands to control your Xbox from your phone or smart speaker. It works much like the Amazon Echo integration that hit Xbox consoles several months ago, letting you turn your Xbox on, launch games, and more with your voice. The Gamertag updates in the November 2019 update bring more choice to players on consoles. Microsoft announced a plan earlier this year to revamp Gamertags, allowing you to choose any name you want. If you pick a Gamertag that's already taken, you'll have a numbered suffix added to it. "With the November 2019 Xbox Update, these gamertag options are now supported on console, including profiles, friend lists, messages, Clubs, LFG and more," Microsoft says.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Billboards Love Streaming Wars Because That's Where Ads End Up
    Streaming services are the hottest thing in entertainment these days. But when it comes to getting the word out about the newest offerings, it's traditional media that often benefits. From a report: Apple, Disney and other big tech and media giants are increasingly turning to outlets like TV, billboards and newspapers to promote their new online products. Spending on broadcast and cable ads by streaming services jumped 19% to $209 million over the past 10 weeks, according to data from researcher ISpot.TV. The biggest spender was Apple, which launched its Apple TV+ service on Nov. 1. It accounted for almost one-quarter of the spending, followed closely behind by Amazon.com , with $37 million in TV ad purchases.   "Television is the easiest place to find people who like TV," said Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence for GroupM, the ad buying unit of WPP. Disney, which introduced its new Disney+ streaming service on Tuesday, relied heavily on its own networks for marketing. Ads ran on ESPN's Monday Night Football, while ABC aired the first episode of the service's new "High School Musical" series the Friday before the launch. The company also promoted the service on its radio network and in the hotel rooms at its theme parks.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Disney + and 'The Mandalorian' Are Driving People Back To Torrenting
    An anonymous reader shares a report: A simple glance at torrent websites shows that plenty of people are stealing from the brand new steaming services -- episodes of The Mandalorian and Dickinson all have hundreds or thousands of seeders and are among the most popular shows on torrent sites. I reached out specifically to Disney, Apple, and Netflix to ask what their policy was on going after pirated content, and haven't heard back, but it's obvious that these companies assume that at least some of their viewers aren't paying the full price for their services. Given that you can watch as many as six simultaneous streams with Apple TV+, and four with Disney+ and the top Netflix package, the more common form of piracy -- password sharing -- is built into the system. But for pirates who don't have any access to the legit services, what makes stealing content particularly appealing in this age is that there are few if any people who face consequences for the crime.   Since the discontinuation of the "six strikes" copyright policy in 2017, there's been lax enforcement of copyright laws. Rather than going after individuals for exorbitant fines for downloading a handful of songs like copyright holders did a decade ago, enforcement these days has focused on the providers of pirated content, with the much more efficient goal of taking down entire streaming sites rather than just a few of their visitors. Of course, as the continued resilience of The Pirate Bay shows, the current strategy isn't particularly effective at stopping piracy, either. But it does mean that those who only download already-stolen content are safer than they've ever been.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • The Org That Doles Out .Org Websites Just Sold Itself To a For-Profit Company
    Today, the Public Interest Registry (PIR), which maintains the .org top-level domain, announced that it will be acquired by Ethos Capital, a private equity firm. From a report: This move will make PIR, previously a non-profit domain registry, officially part of a for-profit company -- which certainly seems at odds with what .org might represent to some. Originally, ".org" was an alternative to the ".com" that was earmarked for commercial entities, which lent itself to non-profit use. That's not all: On June 30th, ICANN, the non-profit that oversees all domain names on the internet, agreed to remove price caps on rates for .org domain names -- which were previously pretty cheap. Seems like something a for-profit company might want. Removing price caps wasn't exactly a popular idea when it was first proposed on March 18th. According to Review Signal, only six of the more than 3,000 public comments on the proposal were in favor of the change.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Google Almost Made 100,000 Chest X-rays Public -- Until it Realized Personal Data Could Be Exposed
    Two days before Google was set to publicly post more than 100,000 images of human chest X-rays, the tech giant got a call from the National Institutes of Health, which had provided the images: Some of them still contained details that could be used to identify the patients, a potential privacy and legal violation. From a report: Google abruptly canceled its project with NIH, according to emails reviewed by The Washington Post and an interview with a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But the 2017 incident, which has never been reported, highlights the potential pitfalls of the tech giant's incursions into the world of sensitive health data. Over the course of planning the X-ray project, Google's researchers didn't obtain any legal agreements covering the privacy of patient information, the person said, adding that the company rushed toward publicly announcing the project without properly vetting the data for privacy concerns. The emails about Google's NIH project were part of records obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request. Google's ability to uphold data privacy is under scrutiny as it increasingly inserts itself into people's medical lives. The Internet giant this week said it has partnered with health-care provider Ascension to collect and store personal data for millions of patients, including full names, dates of birth and clinical histories, in order to make smarter recommendations to physicians. But the project raised privacy concerns in part because it wasn't immediately clear whether patients had consented to have their files transferred from Ascension servers or what Google's intentions were.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Taiwan Stops Selling Huawei Phones That Identify It as Part of China
    Taiwan suspended sales of three Huawei smartphone models that identify Taiwan as part of China, striking a fresh blow in a long-running conflict over references to sovereignty. From a report: Phone carriers were ordered to stop offering Huawei's P30, P3O Pro and Nova 5T models starting Thursday because their displays included the words "Taiwan, China" for time zones and contacts, said Peter Niou, a deputy director at the National Communications Commission in Taipei. The reference impairs Taiwan's "national dignity," Niou said. The halt adds Huawei to the list of global brands, from Coach and Givenchy to JPMorgan, that have had to respond to the sovereignty dispute between separately governed Taiwan and China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory. The two fashion brands, owned by companies in the U.S. and France, apologized to China's government after offering T-shirts that identified Taiwan as a country.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Apple To Remove Vaping Apps From Store
    Amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes, Apple will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its mobile App Store this morning, Axios reports. From a report: The move comes after at least 42 people have died from vaping-related lung illness, per the CDC. Most of those people had been using cartridges containing THC, though some exclusively used nicotine cartridges. The company has never allowed the sale of vape cartridges directly from apps. But there were apps that let people control the temperature and lighting of their vape pens, and others provided vaping-related news, social networks and games.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • A Jury of Random People Can Do Wonders For Facebook
    Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Klein Center, writes about how and why Facebook might take inspiration from the U.S. jury system in reviewing the truth value of political ads. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the article: What we need are ways for decisions about content to be made, as they inevitably must be when platforms rank and recommend content for us to see; for those decisions yet not to be too far-reaching or stiflingly consistent, so there is play in the joints; and for the deep stakes of those decisions to be matched by the gravity and reflectiveness of the process to make them. Facebook recently announced plans for an "independent oversight board," a tribunal that would render the company's final judgment on whether a disputed posting should be taken down. But far more than its own version of the Supreme Court, Facebook needs a way to tap into the everyday common sense of regular people. Even Facebook does not trust Facebook to decide unilaterally which ads are false and misleading. So if the ads are to be weighed at all, someone else has to render judgment.   In the court system, legislators write laws, and lawyers argue cases, but juries of ordinary people are typically the finders of fact and judges of what counts as "reasonable" behavior. This is less because a group of people plucked from the phone book is the best way to ascertain truth -- after all, we don't use that kind of group for any other fact-finding. Rather, it's because, when done honorably, with duties taken seriously, deliberation by juries lends legitimacy and credibility to the machinations of the legal system.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Physicists Irreversibly Split Photons By Freezing Them In a Bose-Einstein Condensate
    Physicists from the University of Bonn and the University of Cologne have succeeded in cooling photons down to a Bose-Einstein condensate, causing the light to collect in optical "valleys" from which it can no longer return. The findings have been published in the journal Science. Phys.Org reports: A light beam is usually divided by being directed onto a partially reflecting mirror: Part of the light is then reflected back to create the mirror image. The rest passes through the mirror. "However, this process can be turned around if the experimental set-up is reversed," says Prof. Dr. Martin Weitz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn. If the reflected light and the part of the light passing through the mirror are sent in the opposite direction, the original light beam can be reconstructed. The physicist investigates exotic optical quantum states of light. Together with his team and Prof. Dr. Achim Rosch from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Cologne, Weitz was looking for a new method to generate optical one-way streets by cooling the photons: As a result of the smaller energy of the photons, the light should collect in valleys and thereby be irreversibly divided. The physicists used a Bose-Einstein condensate made of photons for this purpose, which Weitz first achieved in 2010, becoming the first to create such a "super-photon."   A beam of light is thrown back and forth between two mirrors. During this process, the photons collide with dye molecules located between the reflecting surfaces. The dye molecules "swallow" the photons and then spit them out again. "The photons acquire the temperature of the dye solution," says Weitz. "In the course of this, they cool down to room temperature without getting lost." By irradiating the dye solution with a laser, the physicists increase the number of photons between the mirrors. The strong concentration of the light particles combined with simultaneous cooling causes the individual photons to fuse to form a "super-photon," also known as Bose-Einstein condensate. "Perhaps quantum computers might one day use this method to communicate with each other and form a kind of quantum Internet," says Weitz.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • The Black Death Plague Just Reappeared In China
    At least two people in China are under close observation and are receiving treatment for infections of the same plague that devastated Europe in the mid-1300s. The two confirmed cases originated in north China and were confirmed by doctors in Beijing earlier this week. From a report: The pneumonic variant of the plague, which affects the lungs, can easily spread to others through the air. It is one of the three main forms of plague infection, alongside bubonic and septicemic, but it's believed that the pneumonic form was largely responsible for the rapid spread of plague during the Black Death pandemic that wiped out as much as half of Europe's population centuries ago. While it hasn't led to a full-scale pandemic for some time, plague -- a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics -- is known to persist in certain animal populations across Asia as well as the Americas and Africa. The pneumonic form, however, is rare and considered to be a more serious threat. It is almost always deadly if not promptly treated. China's Xinhua news agency didn't provide many details on the condition of the two patients or if they had contact with others. The report simply notes that "relevant disease prevention and control measures have been taken."
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Andrew Yang Wants To Tax Digital Ads, Launch a New Algorithm Regulator
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: On Thursday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang put out a sweeping new tech policy proposal with a number of controversial proposals, including taxing digital ads and launching a new department to regulate algorithms on social networks. [...] In his Thursday blog post, Yang argues that his opponents' calls to break-up big tech firms like Facebook and Google fall short of protecting consumers from companies that prioritize "profits over our well-being." Yang's broad tech policy plan attacks the issues plaguing tech from four different angles: promoting a healthy relationship with tech, data ownership and privacy, fighting disinformation, and empowering the federal government with new guidelines and resources to tackle these issues.   Ever since the 2016 election, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been under fire by public advocates and lawmakers for their failures to remove disinformation from their platforms. In his tech proposal, Yang piggybacks on his digital ads VAT, suggesting that if it were implemented, there would be less false information on social media because platforms would become subscription-based and not be forced to accept advertising at all, let alone misleading political ads. There would also be significant new restrictions on how platforms like Facebook can target users with content. Any algorithms used by "platforms that allow political advertisements or the sharing of news stories" would be required to be open source or at least confidentially shared with Yang's "Department of the Attention Economy." All ads would have to be clearly labeled as such. Yang says he would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act -- one of the most pivotal laws governing the internet -- but didn't specify what his amendment would look like.   He also pledges to pass a "Digital Bill of Rights, ensuring ownership of data, control over how it's used, and compensation for its use" if he is elected president. Consumers could choose to opt in to have their data collected. "But then you should receive a share of the economic value generated from your data," Yang says.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


The Register













































  • I've had it with these motherflipping eggs on this motherflipping train
    Woman fined £1,500 for tirade over commuter's weird brekkie
    Eating on the train is no yolk. One woman felt so strongly about it, she's now nursing a £1,500 fine after eggsploding with rage at a fellow commuter for gobbling a hard-boiled pre-chicken on the service from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street.…



  • UK Info Commish quietly urged court to swat away 100k Morrisons data breach sueball
    Supermarket says it's innocent and we don't need more than that, ICO told judges
    The UK's Information Commissioner urged the Court of Appeal to side with Morrisons in the supermarket’s battle to avoid liability for the theft and leaking of nearly 100,000 employees’ payroll details – despite not having read the employees’ legal arguments.…






Linux.com offline for now

Phoronix




  • OnLogic Karbon 700: Passively-Cooled, Up To 8 Core / 16 Thread Industrial & Rugged PC
    OnLogic (formerly known as Logic Supply until a recent rebranding) announced the Karbon 700 back in August as a durable Linux-friendly computer largely intended for industrial applications but nothing prevents the user from using it as a passively, well-built desktop PC either. OnLogic recently sent over the Karbon 700 and it's been working out very well even with passively cooling an Intel Xeon eight-core / sixteen-thread processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB NVMe storage, and more.





  • Experimental Work Allows DXVK To Be Natively Used For Direct3D 11 On Linux
    The DXVK Direct3D 10/11 over Vulkan implementation to date has been built as a Windows library run under Wine along with the game/software being rendered for converting the calls to Vulkan for execution by the host drivers. There is now experimental work for building DXVK as a native Linux library for converting D3D10/D3D11 calls to Vulkan outside of Wine...







  • Zombieload V2 TAA Performance Impact Benchmarks On Cascade Lake
    While this week we have posted a number of benchmarks on the JCC Erratum and its CPU microcode workaround that introduces new possible performance hits, also being announced this week as part of Intel's security disclosures was "Zombieload Variant Two" as the TSX Async Abort vulnerability that received same-day Linux kernel mitigations. I've been benchmarking the TAA mitigations to the Linux kernel since the moment they hit the public Git tree and here are those initial benchmark results on an Intel Cascade Lake server.




  • Intel's Assembler Changes For JCC Erratum Are Not Hurting AMD
    When writing about the Intel Jump Conditional Code (JCC) Erratum and how Intel is working to mitigate the performance hit of the CPU microcode update with patches to the GNU Assembler, there was some concern expressed by readers that it might hurt AMD performance. That does not appear to be the case...





  • The Firefox + Chrome Web Browser Performance Impact From Intel's JCC Erratum Microcode Update
    With yesterday's overview and benchmarks of Intel's Jump Conditional Code Erratum one of the areas where the performance impact of the updated CPU microcode exceeding Intel's 0~4% guidance was on the web browser performance. Now with more time having passed, here are more web browser benchmarks on both Chrome and Firefox while comparing the new CPU microcode release for the JCC Erratum compared to the previous release. Simply moving to this new CPU microcode does represent a significant hit to the web browser performance.




  • Khronos Next Pursuing An Analytic Rendering API
    The Khronos Group has been expanding into a lot of new areas in recent times from OpenXR to 3D Commerce to NNEF and now forming an exploratory group for creating an analytic rendering API...




  • AMD GCN OpenMP/OpenACC Offloading Patches For The GCC 10 Compiler
    Over the past year Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics has been working extensively on the new AMD Radeon "GCN" back-end for the GCC code compiler. With the code that is found in GCC 9 and up to now in GCC 10 hasn't supported OpenMP/OpenACC parallel programming interfaces but that could soon change with patches under review...



  • VirtualBox SF Driver Ejected From The Linux 5.4 Kernel
    Merged to the mainline Linux kernel last week was a driver providing VirtualBox guest shared folder support with the driver up to now being out-of-tree but important for sharing files between the host and guest VM(s). While the driver was part of Linux 5.4-rc7, Linus Torvalds decided to delete this driver on Tuesday...


  • The Gaming Performance Impact From The Intel JCC Erratum Microcode Update
    This morning I provided a lengthy look at the performance impact of Intel's JCC Erratum around the CPU microcode update issued for Skylake through Cascade Lake for mitigating potentially unpredictable behavior when jump instructions cross cache lines. Of the many benchmarks shared this morning in that overview, there wasn't time for any gaming tests prior to publishing. Now with more time passed, here is an initial look at how the Linux gaming performance is impacted by the newly-released Intel CPU microcode for this Jump Conditional Code issue.





Engadget"Engadget RSS Feed"

  • Google scales back town hall meetings following leaks

    Google's weekly all-hands meetings have quickly become a source of leaks, and the company is apparently taking an aggressive approach to curbing those leaks: it's limiting the meetings themselves. The Verge has learned that CEO Sundar Pichai sent company-wide email (appropriately leaked to the media) revealing plans to drop the bi-weekly, all-encompassing "TGIF" meetings in favor of monthly gatherings devoted solely to "product launches and business strategies." While there were multiple reasons for the change, Pichai wasn't shy about citing the frequent leaking as a factor.

    There's a "coordinated effort" to leak meetings after each TGIF, Pichai said. He argued that this hurt Google's ability to use TGIF as a platform for "candid conversations" on key subjects. The company will still hold town hall discussions for "important workplace issues," the executive promised, and there will still be "Social TGIFs" in local offices. There just won't be one bi-weekly meeting to cover everyone.

    Pichai added that the split between product discussions and other issues wasn't "serving either purpose very well." He also noted that viewership had dropped substantially over the past decade from 80 percent of Google staff to just 25 percent. That was partly due to the company getting bigger, according to the CEO.

    Google confirmed the accuracy of the email to Engadget, but didn't offer additional commentary.

    The move could prompt mixed reactions at Google. Leaks have sometimes been used to spin Google's internal discussions, such as Breitbart's attempt to use a 2016 TGIF meeting as evidence of political bias in the company's products. This theoretically reduces the chances for weaponizing TGIF meetings. At the same time, though, the reduced frequency could be seen as a way to avoid dealing with complaints about company culture, including reports of retaliation against protesters. While this may help Google control more of its own narrative, it could hinder solutions to any deep-seated problems.

    Source: The Vege


  • What we've been watching: 'State of the Union' and 'Little Monsters'

    In this installment of our video IRL, senior editor Daniel Cooper highlights the short-bites marital drama Ste of the Union that you absolutely must not binge. Senior editor Richard Lawler explains why Hulu's shlocky horror movie Little Monsters is worth your time.
    Little Monsters

    Richard Lawler
    Senior News Editor

    In the age of prestige television, sometimes I just need something a little more comfortable to watch, and that's what Little Monsters delivers. After taking a break from the Walking Dead series I wasn't sure if I needed any more zombie content, but this movie on Hulu split the difference between 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead.

    Instead of a group of 20 somethings stumbling through London, though, this zombie outbreak moves from a US military base in Australia to the amusement park next door. There, Lupita Nyong'o is the teacher, Ms. Caroline, guiding a group of kids on a class trip while Dave, played by Alexander England, does a poor job of chaperoning and an even worse job of trying to impress the teacher.

    It's not much for a plot, and makes it even more ridiculous to see legitimate stars like Nyong'o and Josh Gad -- who parachutes in as the deeply troubled children's TV star 'McGiggles' -- hamming it up in what is essentially a B-movie. Lupita's previous horror turn in Us provided a strong performance as she took on two very different characters, and while Little Monsters isn't a better movie, it's an even better example of what she can do. The stakes are never too high, and despite an R-rating the horror is never too gory to make this a truly bad day at the park, and if you're flipping through things to stream late at night, it's an almost perfect pick.

    Little Monsters is now streaming on Hulu.
    State of the Union

    Daniel Cooper
    Senior Editor

    I had the words of BBC iPlayer or Sundance Now subscription


  • iFixit examines the 16-inch MacBook Pro's 'throwback' keyboard design

    From the time we spent with Apple's just-announced 16-inch MacBook Pro, it was obvious that the shallow, unreliable butterfly keyboard design was out and scissor switches were back in. (It didn't hurt that Apple has confirmed the changes on the new MacBook Pro's product page.) But naturally, the teardown team at iFixit was bound to get their hands on the 16-inch MacBook Pro and see exactly how its keyboard compares to ones that came before it. Well, they've just published their results -- and just as expected, the new keyboard is nearly identical to the one in the 2015 MacBook Pro as well as Apple's external Bluetooth Magic Keyboard. That's great new for anyone in the market for a new Apple laptop.

    iFixit's story is a good read if you want to get the full, sad tale of the rise and fall of Apple's laptop keyboards. Long story short, Apple replaced the comfortable, highly-lauded keyboard in the MacBook Pro in the fall of 2016, bringing over the thin, butterfly-switch keyboard it originally introduced in the tiny 12-inch MacBook in 2015. People were pretty quickly divided about the new keyboard's shallow travel and rather loud typing sound, but the bigger issue was undoubtably a reliability one. Keys were liable to get stuck or repeat characters if even a small piece of dust or a crumb got in there the right way, and getting them fixed required taking apart the entire laptop. It was, in short, a fiasco.

    Apple tried to make the keys more reliable over a few revisions of the butterfly keyboard mechanism, and it also guaranteed to replace any computer with that keyboard if there were issues even after the warranty expired. My own experience with Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro from this year is that the keyboard is now much more reliable than previous models I've tried -- but it does seem the keyboard is inherently flawed.

    It's thus a huge relief that they've gone back to the scissor-style keyboard design, which means more travel and easier repairability. If you want to get up-close and personal with Apple's various keyboard designs over the last few years, definitely check out the photography over at iFixit. We'll have a full review of the new MacBook Pro soon, but in the meantime you can at the very least rest assured that the keyboard is a huge step forward. Now we'll just have to wait for Apple to bring it to the rest of its MacBook lineup.

    Source: iFixit


  • Spotify's latest feature creates a playlist for your road trip

    It's no secret Spotify wants to give you as many playlist options as possible, and today it's adding one more. Only this time, the streaming service wants to help you create a list for a specific activity: a road trip. With "Soundtrack your Ride," Spotify will make a playlist for your drive based on the duration of your journey and your answers from a short quiz.

    First, you put in your starting point and destination so Spotify can calculate your drive time with the help of Google Maps. Then you're led through a series of questions that gather info like who you're traveling with, your favorite genre for a road trip and what type of car you drive. The questionaire also asks for your "drive vibe" (mellow, sing-a-long, pedal to the metal, etc.) and your "ultimate road trip song." The list there is limited to six options, and nearly all of them directly reference driving, so you have to go with one that's closest to your preference and keep on truckin'.

    When you're done, Spotify will compile a playlist that lasts the length of your journey, and save it to the playlists section of the app. Like most of the company's playlist generating tools, Soundtrack your Ride is only available on the web on desktop. You can access it on mobile, but things get trimmed to the point it's not really usable. You can't use it inside any of Spotify's apps either, so you'll need to plan ahead and compile your list before you depart.

    Via: The Verge

    Source: Spotify


  • Google's Files app now streams local media to your Chromecast

    Google just made it decidedly easier to beam your personal media collection to your Chromecast device of choice. An updated version of the Files by Google app includes long-in-the-making support for playing your audio, photos and videos on any Chromecast-capable device, whether it's a speaker, smart display or TV. You only have to dive into a section containing media and choose a target. After that, you'll have on-screen playback controls to steer the action from your phone.

    This should work with all the media you'd typically play on a Chromecast in the first place, and should be available right away if you have the latest version of Files. The technology behind the app isn't strictly new -- there have been local media casting apps for years, and that's not including individual media apps that can cast their own content. This gives you an official, straightforward option, though, and it could cover the bases in ways that some apps can't.

    Via: 9to5Google

    Source: Google Play


  • Pre-installed apps on low-end Android phones are full of security holes

    In what has become an annual reckoning, security research company Kryptowire recently published its 2019 report on the state of manufacturer-installed software and firmware for Android devices and, to no one's surprise, they found more than 140 bugs which could be exploited for malicious purposes.

    The DHS-funded report uncovered 146 apps, which come pre-installed on inexpensive Android handsets, would pull shenanigans like eavesdropping through the microphone, unilaterally changing their permissions or surreptitiously transmitting data back to the manufacturer without ever notifying the user.

    Kryptowire found these bugs on phones from 29 different manufacturers from relatively unknowns like Cubot and Doogee to marquee companies include Sony. And given that the average Android come with anywhere from 100 to 400 apps pre-installed, often bundled as part of larger app suites, these vulnerabilities pose a growing threat to users.

    The problem isn't unsolvable, mind you. "Google can demand more thorough code analysis and vendor responsibility for their software products that enter the Android ecosystems," Kryptowire CEO Angelos Stavrou told CNET

    Source: Kryptowire


  • Porsche’s Taycan lives up to its EV hype

    Driving a Porsche -- regardless of its body style -- is filled with expectations. The vehicle should go fast while whipping around corners. So it's no surprise that the automaker's electric Taycan (pronounced Tie Khan) offers those things. The revelation is that it does so, even with the heft of a 93.4kWh battery pack.

    Electric vehicles are great at accelerating quickly, helped along by that low center of gravity (because of all that battery weight). But the laws of physics still apply and cornering can be a challenge if an automaker wants to give drivers more than 100 miles of range. More range means more battery and more battery means more weight. But the automaker has decades of experience getting cars around tracks in the quickest manner possible and it applied that wealth of knowledge to its first electric vehicle. The result is spectacular.

    Angeles Crest Highway is one of the go-to destinations for performance drivers in Southern California. The mountain road is filled with switchbacks, long sweeping turns, and beautiful views. It's ideal for testing an electric sports car.

    During my time behind the wheel of the Taycan, the vehicle handled tight corners with precision. Yes, the mass of battery under the seating area made itself known, but it was less prevalent than I expected. The vehicle's air suspension and dynamic chassis control do a lot of the heavy lifting here, making the car feel lighter than it actually is.



    Yet the steering was tight without feeling twitchy. That makes the car ideal, not just for back-road and track days, but also daily use. In fact, in order to get to (and back from) Angeles Crest Highway, I had to do a lot of freeway and city driving. During that time, the Taycan displayed more composure on rutted bumpy roads than I anticipated.

    The automaker says that the Taycan's ride sits between the Panamera and the 911. So it's not as smooth as a high-end luxury vehicle, but it is impressively composed on the roads it'll spend a majority of its time traversing.

    Some of that ride quality comes from the electric powertrain. EVs just have a smoother ride because they're not battling the forces of an internal combustion engine while driving. Also, they go fast. In the case of the Porsche Taycan, it goes very fast.

    I drove the Turbo S version of the Taycan with its 750 horsepower and 774 pounds of torque. It'll do zero to 60 in an internal organ-warping 2.6 seconds. It'll perform this feat again and again and again as I continually jam down the accelerator between corners in the mountains. Thermal management is tough though, and it's the reason some EVs can't continually and reliably perform at their peak. Porsche's engineers decided that if they were going to put the company's badge on a car, it should perform like its internal-combustion siblings.



    For the most part, it does. But it's unlikely most drivers will ever use the full potential of the Turbo S. The $185,000 price tag makes this the ultimate enthusiasts Taycan. For the rest of those interested in the car, the $151,000 Turbo will probably do the trick with its 670 horsepower and 626 pounds of torque. Or better yet, the $103,000 4S coming next year that'll do zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds.

    Regardless of which version of the Taycan someone (with a lot of money) buys, they should be happy with the interior. Like other Porsches, the inside is driver-focused. The new digital dash cluster is bright and clear and even with the glare of the sun beating down on it, was easy to read. More importantly, it's simple to navigate between the on-screen features using the controls on the steering wheel.

    The infotainment system in the dash is an updated version of the automaker's PCM system. I didn't notice any latency and I'm still a fan of the customizable home screen. There was some oddness with the navigation, but Porsche was very upfront about the fact that we were driving pre-production Taycans. So I'll have to wait until I get some serious time behind the wheel of a production vehicle to really put the system through its paces.



    While we wait, it was nice to see Porsche jump onto the voice-assistant bandwagon. A simple "Hey Porsche" launches the feature and it does the usual tricks. But again, a production vehicle with final software will be needed for a proper test of the feature.

    Below the infotainment display is a secondary touchscreen that controls the climate features with quick-launch buttons for navigation, media, phone and settings on the main screen. At the bottom of the secondary display is an area for navigating the main touchscreen and writing out addresses. The biggest issue here is that the cup holders in the center console are right in front of it. So if you have a coffee or soda there, you have to reach around it to use the lower portion of the screen.

    Fortunately, the rest of the interior makes more sense and is very comfortable. I found the front seats to be both supportive and cushy enough for a long day of performance and freeway driving. The back seats, however, can be tight if you're sitting behind someone tall.

    If you're in the driver's seat, you'll be happy to know that the vehicle's adaptive cruise control is outstanding in traffic. It handled cut-ins without incident and is a bit more aggressive to get you back up to speed when it encounters a hole in traffic. A plus for anyone in cities like Los Angeles where someone will tailgate you if you don't immediately fill a gap in front of you while on the highway.



    The lane keep assist is there to nudge you back into your lane, but it's very subtle. It's ideal for a sports car, but I ended up just shutting it off after about an hour of driving.

    Whether you're on the highway or backroads, bringing the Taycan to a stop adds another level of tech to the car. Up to 90 percent of the stopping power is from regenerative braking. Even in the Turbo S while pushing the vehicle, most of the braking came from the electric motor slowing the car down. Porsche says braking can create 265kW of power for the car. That's impressive and it means that the car's brake pads won't need to be changed for quite a while.

    I will say, that in hard braking when the car hands off the braking to the hardware there's a noticeable surge in stopping power. It can be alarming during high-performance driving the first time it happens. You will start to anticipate it after a few hours, but I'd rather have smooth braking from start to finish.

    Weird braking issues aside, the Taycan is an impressive piece of engineering. Even in pre-production form, the car feels solid and ready for everything from cruising around town to tackling the track. The car's ability to recharge at up to 270kW means if you find a charging station that can push out that much power, you'll be back on the road quickly. And frankly, once you get behind the wheel of the Taycan, that's exactly what you're going to want to do.

    Source: Porsche


  • Twitter's political ad ban will also curb ads for hot-button issues

    Twitter has finally outlined how its ban on political ads will work, and it's considerably clearer -- if not as clear as some would like. When the ban takes effect on November 22nd, it'll bar ads for anything referring to candidates, parties, existing officials, legislation, regulation, ballot measures and referendums. They also can't rally for votes or financial help. Politicians effectively can't run ads, in other words. It also forbids ads from PACs and other organizations that fuel campaigns. However, the bigger changes for some may involve new policies limiting "cause-based advertising" on the social network.

    The new rules will restrict ads for contentious subjects like abortion and climate change. Some keywords, such as "conservative" and "liberal," won't be allowed as a matter of course. The list of barred keywords will receive continuous updates, Twitter said. The company's new policies also curb the use of microtargeting, or attempts to skew elections by aiming ads at narrow demographics. Issue advertisers won't be allowed to target ads based on criteria like age, ethnicity and specific location, although state-level targeting will be permitted.

    Like politicians, issue advertisers won't be allowed to champion specific political actions. News publishers who are already exempt from Twitter's issue rules (at least 200,000 visitors in the US, not primarily user-submitted and not focused on one issue) are allowed to advertise based on their fact-based reporting, but not to endorse candidates or banned topics.

    There are concerns about how well Twitter will enforce the new policies. Facebook blocked innocuous LGBT ads due to its approach to issue ads -- will Twitter risk similar problems? There are also questions as to whether Twitter will have a consistent definition of fact-based reporting in light of allegations of political bias. Legal and policy VP Vijaya Gadde said Twitter was prepared for the possibility of "[making] some mistakes," though, and made clear that the site would have to "improve this policy over time." If you're not a fan of the rules as they are, don't be surprised if they evolve before long.
    Today, we're sharing the full details of Twitter's new political ads policy. I encourage you to read through it for the full detail, but I wanted to share some of the thinking that went into its creation. This new policy goes into effect on 11/22.https://t.co/iz9lVJ016s
    — Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) November 15, 2019
    Via: CNBC, The Verge

    Source: Twitter Business, Vijaya Gadde (Twitter)


  • Apple TV+ snags Gary Oldman for spy drama 'Slow Horses'

    Apple TV+ has only just rolled out and it's already nabbed one of the biggest names in showbiz. Acting legend Gary Oldman is set to star in spy drama Slow Horses, an adaptation of Mick Herron's Slough House books, according to Variety.

    The show -- named after the first novel in Herron's series -- tells the story of a team of British intelligence agents banished to MI5's lackluster Slough House department due to making major mistakes in the field. Oldman plays the group's leader, the clever but curmudgeonly Jackson Lamb.

    The role is a departure from the norm for the Academy Award-winning Gary Oldman, who has held few TV parts during his illustrious movie career, which includes the likes of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the Harry Potter franchise, Dark Knight and True Romance. Perhaps this is an appetizing taste of what's yet to come on Apple's newly-launched platform.

    Source: Variety


  • Hulu increases the price of its live TV service, again

    Hulu's live TV streaming is about to get more expensive. The company announced today that its Hulu + Live TV option would increase to $54.99 a month starting December 18th. This is the second time this year the company has raised its rate on live television streaming. In February, there was a $5/month hike to $45.99 -- up from the $39.99 price when the service debuted in 2017.

    "The new price better reflects the substantial value of Hulu + Live TV and allows us to continue offering all of the popular live news, sports and entertainment programming included in the plan," the company explained in the announcement.

    To help ease the pain, the company recommends switching to streaming-only plans during times of the year when you don't need live TV. It gave the end of football season as an example. Sure, that works, but it's not necessarily an ideal scenario, especially for those of us who are terrible at planning or remembering to cancel.

    At $54.99 per month, Hulu + Live TV is now $5 a month more than YouTube TV. Hulu isn't the only company raising rates though, as AT&T did the same in October. As live TV streaming becomes increasingly more popular, and services continue to expand their content lineup, higher prices are inevitable. Which begs the question: Is this really better than cable?

    Source: Hulu


  • Colin Furze made a real version of Junkrat’s RIP-tire from ‘Overwatch’

    If you need something from pop culture brought to life, then the first person to call is Colin Furze, YouTube's own mad inventor. Furze has already made working versions of the hit the Switch on October 15th.

    Furze took the engine from a petrol-powered chainsaw and retrofitted it, with plenty of cunning, into the middle of a tyre. With some extra adornments and a remote control, the RIP-tire managed to cut a paint can and smash several panes of glass. Obviously, Furze breaks down how he made the device in the clip, and teases that there are more modifications to come in future.

    And, of course, don't forget that Overwatch is available to play on all good consoles, so get your practice in before Overwatch 2 drops at some point in the future.


  • Echo Studio review: Amazon finally nailed the audio quality

    We've heard this pitch before from Amazon. Last year, the company debuted the $150 Echo Plus in an attempt to improve audio quality in its smart speaker line. It also revealed a $130 Echo Sub add-on that could provide the much-needed low-end tones that all of its Alexa speakers lack. But now that Amazon has a high-resolution option for music streaming, which also includes 3D audio, those older Echo devices just wouldn't cut it. Enter the $200 Echo Studio: a supersize Alexa hub that's hands down the best sounding speaker Amazon has built.

    True to its heritage, the Echo Studio is indeed a capable Alexa speaker. That means a host of voice-friendly features are available here. The Echo Studio even has the same blue/green colored ring that lights up when you summon the virtual assistant. Or if you've disabled the speaker's microphones, the ring glows red. Through the Alexa app, you go through the initial setup and have access to customization options. At its core, the Echo Studio is everything we've come to expect from Amazon speakers, but the main differences here are size and sound.

    Compared to other models in the Echo line, this thing is a beast. It dwarfs the latest Echo in every dimension. It's also larger than Apple's HomePod and the Sonos One, which is a better-sounding Alexa-compatible alternative to Amazon's devices. Like the HomePod, the Echo Studio is a short, stout cylinder. Specifically, it's eight inches tall (206mm), almost seven inches in diameter (175mm), and it weighs 7.7 pounds (3.5kg). None of this is a problem per se, but you will need more space to accommodate the Echo Studio than most competing devices. That's not to mention the fact that Amazon recommends six inches of clearance from walls.


    Despite its cylindrical design, the Echo Studio doesn't blast tunes in all directions. There are 3 two-inch midrange speakers that fire to the left, right and upward, respectively. A single one-inch tweeter faces forward, and a 5.25-inch woofer faces downward. There's an opening that spans the width or "belly" of the Echo Studio that enhances the bass output, and it's cut all the way through to the back of the speaker. However, if you move from the front or sides of this thing around to the back, it's clear there's no audio directly beamed in that direction. You can hear it; it just doesn't sound as good. Again, this isn't a major issue, just something to be aware of when you're positioning the unit.

    There's also a 24-bit DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and an amplifier inside the Echo Studio -- key pieces that help the speaker handle high-res lossless content that's available through various streaming services, including Amazon's own. There are also a 3.5mm input for external audio sources and a micro-USB port flanking the power cable around back.

    Like all other Echo devices at this point, the Echo Studio is wrapped in fabric. Except for the plastic ring around the top that houses controls and microphones, and a plastic plate on the bottom, almost the entire speaker is covered in cloth. I think it looks nice, and I prefer it to other smart speakers that are mostly plastic or primarily showcase exposed grilles as the main design element.

    Once you've found a good spot, all you have to do is add the device to your Alexa app. A few taps later and the Echo Studio is set up and ready to go. There's an audio-calibration feature that analyzes the room for the best acoustic performance. However, that process begins automatically when you add the speaker in the app, and it only takes a few seconds. I wanted to test the Echo Studio both pre- and post-calibration, but that wasn't an option, since the test kicks in on its own.

    The Echo Studio is the best speaker Amazon has made yet, at least in terms of audio quality. And really, it's not even close. Yes, every Echo speaker is capable of playing music, but it's no secret they don't sound good. So if great sound quality and Alexa support were both important to you, you had to look elsewhere or try to improve things with an additional purchase, like the Echo Sub. Those days are over.

    To get the most out of this $200 device, you might want to consider Amazon Music HD or Tidal's high-res streaming plan. Sure, regular Spotify sounds good on the Echo Studio, but I prefer the HD and Ultra HD songs offered on Amazon's latest streaming tier. Other people I asked thought audio from Spotify sounded better. So I'd recommend using your free trial from Amazon to see if you're willing to pay for the higher-resolution audio or if just regular ol' streaming is enough for you. To me, there was more clarity, detail and dimensionality with the HD and Ultra HD songs when compared to the same tracks on Spotify.

    The Echo Studio upmixed regular stereo music with Dolby Atmos. The action is enabled by default as Stereo Spatial Enhancement in the speaker's audio settings, right under the EQ sliders. Amazon says this upmixing "adds space, clarity and depth to stereo audio content." And of course, the company recommends that you leave it turned on "for best audio experience." When playing Chvrches' "Death Stranding" and switching the tool on and off, the main difference is that the nonenhanced audio from Spotify is louder and way more treble-heavy. With Stereo Spatial Enhancement, everything sounds well tuned and balanced. There is more depth and it does sound better, but it's not quite as good as HD and Ultra HD tracks.



    Spotify sounds good on this thing too, by the way -- I'm just stating my preference for the high-res options. If you're an Echo fan and you've been yearning for better audio, "regular" streaming tiers will sound great. However, Echo Studio is equipped to handle lossless tunes if you're into that sort of thing. The speaker is also able to handle Sony's 360 Reality Audio content, which is more of a mixed bag at this point.

    The main issue with 3D music on Amazon Music HD is there's not much of it right now. When you set up the Echo Studio for the first time, Alexa recommends a Best of 3D Music playlist on Amazon Music HD. But that collection ranges from Ariana Grande's "7 Rings" to Cam'Ron's hip-hop masterpiece "Oh Boy" and the Beatles' "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." There are four more curated 3D playlists for rock, pop, classical and hip-hop classics, but they only have between six and 12 songs each. There are other 3D songs, but they aren't easy to find in the Amazon Music app, and I've yet to find any full 3D albums.

    So what you end up with is a mix of 3D and either HD or Ultra HD when you pick an album. For example, the Weeknd's Starboy has ten 3D tracks, but the other eight are Ultra HD. When you ask Alexa to play music, the assistant will default to the 3D version if it's available. In fact, if a 3D version is available on Amazon Music HD, I haven't found a way to choose the Ultra HD or HD track instead. And of course, you can cast any songs from the streaming app to the Echo Studio, regardless of format.



    Honestly, I can't detect a huge difference between Ultra HD and 3D tracks on the Echo Studio. Unlike the prototype Sony speaker I heard at CES, it's still obvious the audio is coming from a single speaker and where the speaker is positioned. There isn't noticeably more depth compared to the other high-res formats, which also do a solid job imparting a spatial quality to the sound. When compared to Spotify, the 3D tracks have more presence and more clarity, which does sound better to me. They're also noticeably louder, even if you don't change that level. Once again, some people I asked preferred "regular" Spotify to the 3D versions of the songs I played for them.

    That being said, it's still early days for this manifestation of 3D audio. This is the first speaker where Sony's new ecosystem has been available, and there are only 1,000 songs to choose from right now. The Echo Studio is well-equipped for both the present and the near future, so long as Sony is able to deliver on its promise of more content. And hopefully Amazon will make it easier to find them.

    With Dolby Atmos compatibility, the Echo Studio can also serve as a home theater speaker, but only with Fire TV devices. It accommodates Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, if whatever you're watching isn't Atmos-friendly. Setup is a breeze once again: All you have to do is connect your gear to your Amazon accounts and WiFi network through the Alexa app. As with the initial steps for music, you tap the "+" in the top right of the Alexa app. But this time you select Set Up Audio System and follow the steps. In a few taps, the Echo Studio will be connected via WiFI for Fire TV sound. You can also use the Fire TV remote to adjust volume when the time comes.

    I was only able to test this with one Echo Studio, not a stereo pair. While Atmos was clearly an upgrade over Dolby Digital Plus when I compared them, it's nowhere close to what I've experienced with Sony and Sennheiser Atmos soundbars and setups. Of course, those start at more than $1,000. There's more depth and subtle detail to things like city streets and gunfights. But like the 3D music, it's still obvious the sound is coming from a single speaker rather than seeming like it's all around you.

    Again, the big issue here is limited content options. Pretty much the only thing available with Dolby Atmos on Prime Video is Jack Ryan. The other issue is the options aren't easy to find. And to get the immersive audio on Netflix, you have to splurge for the pricey Premium Plan that includes UHD streaming. Even then, not everything will have Atmos. Same for Disney+: A variety of selections, like Avengers: Endgame, have Atmos, but many others don't. Some rentals and purchases from Amazon offer the audio format too, so you have some options. But let's face it: We're living in a streaming-first world, so Prime Video should have more Atmos content, and it should be easily accessible and clearly labeled. Especially since Amazon is hyping the Echo Studio as an alternative to more-robust living room setups.

    At $200, the main competition price wise is the Sonos One. There's also the HomePod, but it's $99 more expensive. Both are smart speakers with voice control, but neither sounds as good as the Echo Studio. In terms of audio quality, you'd have to go up to something like a Sonos Play:5 for an alternative that could stand with Amazon's latest. Of course, the Play:5 is $499. At that point, you could have two Echo Studio speakers for a stereo pair -- and still have $99 left over.

    Amazon has finally built an Echo speaker for people who care about great sound but still want Alexa within speaking range. And both of those are in the same device rather than connecting an Echo Dot to a better speaker to get the audio quality you desire or some other workaround. Alexa remains dependable for the things it's equipped to handle, and the Echo Studio also makes a decent home theater option. My main issues using this device are the limited 3D content and how difficult it is to find both that and Dolby Atmos shows/movies in Amazon's apps. The speaker is great on nearly all fronts, but now Amazon needs to polish its software to offer a complete package.


  • The best USB car charger

    By Nick Guy

    This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. Read the full guide to USB car chargers.

    For a few bucks, a good USB car charger can charge your phone and other devices faster than the port that came in your car. After testing more than 60 models, we think the best car charger is the dual-port Nekteck PD 45W Type-C Car Charger. You can fast-charge phones, tablets, and laptops from its USB-C port, and simultaneously charge a second phone on its USB-A port. No other charger offers as much power for a better price.

    Compared with the familiar USB-A port, the smaller USB-C port can charge most modern phones faster (if you're using the right cable) and can even charge tablets and laptops. And the Nekteck PD 45W Type-C Car Charger provides the best of both worlds. When you're using a USB-C–to–Lightning cable, the charger's USB-C port can charge an iPhone about three times faster (at 18 watts) than the USB-A wall charger that comes in the box from Apple; your phone can charge from empty to roughly 50 percent in just half an hour while you're sitting in traffic, say, or running errands around town. This Nekteck charger's 45-watt output and included USB-C–to–C cable also support the maximum charge rate on Android phones (such as the Samsung Galaxy S10), the 2018 iPad Pro, and even many laptops. And you can use the 12-watt USB-A port at the same time to charge a second phone or other device with any USB cable you already have.

    Port one: 45 W USB-C

    Port two: 12 W USB-A

    With two USB-C ports, the Scosche PowerVolt Power Delivery Dual 18W USB-C Car Charger (CPDC8C8) is what you should get if you want to fast-charge two modern devices at the same time. Each of the PowerVolt's USB-C ports supports full 18-watt charging, so you can charge two modern phones at top speed; that means an iPhone's battery will go from 0 to around 50 percent charged in half an hour, compared with about 35 percent on a standard 12-watt USB-A charger. A dual–USB-C setup is rare—this is the only such model we've found from a company we trust. You can still use this charger with older phones, such as an iPhone 7 or earlier—they just won't charge any faster than on a USB-A charger.

    Port one: 18 W USB-C

    Port two: 18 W USB-C

    We think getting a faster USB-C charger is worth spending a little more, but if you simply want a good, inexpensive power source in the car, go with ZMI's PowerCruise C2 36-Watt Dual USB Car Charger with QC 3.0. All two-port, 24-watt chargers from reputable companies in this price range work just as well as any other, but unlike similar models we tested, this ZMI charger stands out because it supports Quick Charge 3.0 on both ports, offering slightly faster speeds to devices that support that standard. It's also made of metal instead of the cheaper-feeling plastic of almost every other charger.

    Port one: Quick Charge 3.0 USB-A

    Port two: Quick Charge 3.0 USB-A

    The RAVPower Quick Charge 3.0 54W 4-Port Car Adapter (RP-VC003) is especially useful when you're traveling with a car full of passengers, as it can charge up to four devices simultaneously without taking up much more space than competing two-port models. Each of its ports can put out 12 watts, and one supports Quick Charge 3.0, so you're not sacrificing charging speed for more devices.

    Port one: Quick Charge 3.0 USB-A

    Port two: 12 W USB-A

    Port three: 12 W USB-A

    Port four: 12 W USB-A
    Why you should trust me
    I've reviewed car chargers for Wirecutter since 2014, monitoring every noteworthy new charger. Additionally, I've tested hundreds of other charging accessories, researching and writing our guides to USB wall chargers, USB-C laptop chargers, and USB-C accessories, among others. Previously, for three years I was the accessories editor at iLounge, where I reviewed more than 1,000 products, including numerous charging options.

    Because USB-C can be dangerous business—subpar chargers and cables can fry innocent phones and laptops—I've also used specialized testing hardware to ensure the safety and reliability of every charger we've considered for this guide. This step allows us to definitively say that our picks work exactly as advertised, putting out the right levels of power and adhering to safety standards.
    Should you get a car charger (or upgrade one you already have)?
    Even if your car has a USB port for integrating music playback and phone calls with your car stereo, and even if that port can charge your phone, spending $20 or so for a dedicated two-port charger can be worth it. That's because the built-in USB ports in most cars put out only 5 watts, which isn't enough to charge a tablet or even newer smartphones at full speed. If you're running an app like Waze or Google Maps, your car's USB port may not charge your phone faster than your phone uses power, so you can end up at your destination with the same battery level on your phone as when you got into the car. Good USB-A chargers can charge more than twice as fast (12 watts), and the latest USB-C chargers can charge modern smartphones at up to 18 watts as long as you use a cable that plugs into the smaller port instead of the USB-A cable that probably came with your device. (This is our favorite cable for iPhones.)

    Even if your car's USB port does offer higher-speed charging, most cars have only one port. All of our picks let you charge two or more devices from a single accessory outlet—something your family and friends will appreciate.

    However, if you recently bought a multiport USB charger that provides at least 2 amps from each of its ports (look for the "output" listing in the small print on the body of the charger), you have less reason to upgrade. Although you'd be able to charge some devices slightly faster with our top picks, the difference wouldn't be big enough for you to spend more money on a new model right now.

    If you have an older car charger, check where it says "Output DC 5V" (or similar). If it's less than 2.0 A, you'd get noticeably faster charging by buying a new charger. Photo: Sarah KobosHow we picked and tested
    You can find hundreds of USB car chargers that plug into your car's accessory-power jack. Over the past few years, these models have become significantly smaller, more powerful, and less expensive—just like USB wall chargers. But most of the car chargers available aren't even worth considering because they don't have enough power to simultaneously charge two devices at faster speeds, something even very inexpensive models can now do. These days, a good USB charger for the car should offer the following:
    At least two USB ports: The cost and space savings of a single-port charger aren't significant enough to justify the limited output. It's almost always a better value to choose a charger with two or more ports, whether those ports be USB-A, USB-C, or a combination of the two. The fastest possible output: USB-C ports with 18- to 45-watt output: A USB-C port will charge most modern phones faster than a USB-A port will (if you're using the right cable), and can even charge tablets and laptops. Phones that support USB Power Delivery (USB PD)—the standard that allows for fast charging over USB-C—generally draw up to 18 watts, while larger devices can take 45 watts or more. But your device will pull only as much power as it's rated for, so there's no safety concern about your phone being damaged or overheating when you're using a more-powerful charger. USB-A ports with 12-watt or QuickCharge 3.0 output: There's no reason to choose a charger with USB-A ports slower than 12 watts (5 volts, 2.4 amps), because they're not much less expensive and they offer slower charging to Apple and Android devices. A detachable USB cable: A permanently attached USB cable is limiting because you can't swap out the cable (to use, say, a Micro-USB, Lightning-to-USB, or USB-C–to–USB-C cable) to charge different kinds of devices, attach a longer cable, or have any other control over what kind of connections you use. Just as important, if a built-in cable fails, you have to replace the entire package, charger and all. Good power-to-dollar value: We added up the total power across each charger's ports and divided by the price to determine the value. This step let us rule out unnecessarily expensive models. Ranges varied from 1.2 watts per dollar at the most expensive to around 4 watts per dollar as the best value. USB-IF certification: Although this was not a requirement, we gave higher credence to chargers that have been certified by the USB Implementers Forum (PDF), which means they have passed the USB-IF Compliance Program and have been tested for safety.
    For our latest update, we tested another 20 chargers, including some with only USB-A ports, some with just USB-C ports, and some with both. To find the top options in each category, we put the finalists through a number of tests.
    Chargers with USB-C ports: USB-C uses digital communication between devices to verify charging speeds in a way that USB-A doesn't; with the right tools, you can interpret exactly what's going on in the communication between the charger and the device you've plugged in. We used the Total Phase USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software to measure and record this data, including the advertised power profiles, the steady state output, and whether any errors occurred in charging. Chargers with USB-A ports: We tested the maximum power draw from each port by plugging in a variable power load and an ammeter. This setup allowed us to finely control the power flow and determine whether it matched the advertised rate. We started with the power load set to 0 amps and then turned it up until it matched the promised amperage, ensuring the voltage stayed between 4.75 volts and 5.25 volts. Then we repeated that test on each charger's other ports, confirming that every port behaved as expected and that, combined, they matched the right output. Combined power output: After testing each individual port, we tested the combined output when each was pushed to the maximum. The best chargers support their fastest rates on each port at the same time, with added devices slowing nothing down.
    Once we had these results, the Wirecutter team had a spirited discussion about the pros and cons of different physical sizes: Is smaller always better, or can a charger be too small? The answer, based on our discussions and our hands-on testing: Yes, some chargers are so small, they're hard to remove from a car's outlet when you need to. Although in our evaluation we paid attention to each charger's size and fit in a car's dashboard, we concluded that the smallest car charger isn't always the best choice.
    Our pick: Nekteck PD 45W Type-C Car Charger
    Photo: Sarah Kobos
    The Nekteck PD 45W Type-C Car Charger is the right model for any vehicle, any phone, and almost any device you might want to charge while driving. It's a tiny but powerful charger that packs both USB-C and USB-A ports, ensuring near-universal charging compatibility. Thanks to the USB-C port's 45-watt output, it'll charge almost anything at top speed, so you'll never have to worry about your phone running out of power while you're using it to navigate, and you can even juice up your laptop on the go. The Nekteck also comes with a USB-C–to–USB-C cable, making this low-priced model an even better value.

    Charging speed is the most important factor when you're choosing a car charger, and in our tests the Nekteck PD 45W model performed as expected. It was one of the first chargers to feature both a fast USB-C port and USB-A port, and it's still the best. Most smartphones charge at 15 to 18 watts, so this charger's 45-watt USB-C port is more than powerful enough to charge any smartphone at its fastest rate. (There's no risk of your device drawing too much power, so you can safely use higher-rated chargers without causing damage to the phone or worrying about anything overheating.)

    Battery percentage in charging an iPhone XS

    Charger

    30 minutes

    60 minutes

    5 W USB-A charger (such as an iPhone power brick)

    17%

    33%

    12 W USB-A charger

    35%

    73%

    18 W USB-C Power Delivery charger

    48%

    81%

    A USB-C charger can charge an iPhone more than twice as fast as the 5 W power brick that comes with the phone, and noticeably faster than a USB-A charger. Modern iPhones charge at a maximum of 18 W.

    In our tests of the Nekteck charger, our iPhone XS, paired with a USB-C–to–Lightning cable, went from completely drained to about 50 percent in 30 minutes, and to 81 percent after an hour (those figures may be slightly less if you're using navigation apps). The Nekteck's 12-watt USB-A port, on the other hand, brought the iPhone to about 35 and 73 percent in those respective periods of time. Other USB-C car chargers with 18 W output—we tested four otherscan charge a phone just as quickly, but few pair that capability with a quality USB-A port, and none do so for such a good price.

    The Nekteck car charger has enough room for you to easily plug and unplug a USB-C and USB-A cable even if you don't have the dexterity of a brain surgeon. Photo: Sarah Kobos
    Since many compact laptops charge at 30 or 45 W, you can even use this Nekteck charger to quickly fill them up on the go. In our tests, its USB-C port charged the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro—both of which are capable of laptop-like 45 W charging—at their fastest rates, something no other car charger we tested could do. The larger iPad reached 33 percent charge in half an hour and 65 percent in one hour. (Some popular laptop models, including the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros, can draw 60 W or even 90 W, so they won't charge as fast as they can with their included wall chargers.) Our tests with Total Phase software showed that the USB-C port behaves as promised, and it didn't throw up any red flags that would make us cautious about using it.

    The body of the Nekteck PD 45W combines glossy black plastic and matte metal elements. It's not a fashion piece, but it does look pretty good next to the cheaper appearances of some competitors. It sticks out 1.4 inches from the outlet, and its face is an oval 1.6 inches tall and 1.1 inches wide with a blue LED to indicate when it's plugged in. While the Nekteck PD 45W is compact and unobtrusive, it isn't so short that it's difficult to remove, as some other car chargers are.

    The Nekteck PD 45W car charger is the only model we tested that includes a USB-C–to–USB-C cable, a $10 to $20 value if bought separately. You can keep this cable in your car to charge your Android phone, computer, or iPad Pro without having to buy a separate accessory. We've verified that the cable adheres to standards; it's not only safe, but it also has a sturdy build quality. In addition to passing our own tests, the charger has been certified by the USB-IF, which means it's been independently tested for safety.

    Similar to the coverage from most reputable charger brands, Nekteck's standard warranty period is 12 months, with a six-month extension if you sign up for the company's newsletter. We've found the customer support to be helpful, both in response speed and in addressing our concerns.

    Flaws but not dealbreakers

    Unlike some chargers, the Nekteck PD 45W Type-C Car Charger doesn't have illuminated USB ports, which would make plugging in cables in a dark car a little easier.
    Upgrade pick: Scosche PowerVolt Power Delivery Dual 18W USB-C Car Charger
    Photo: Sarah Kobos
    If you want to simultaneously charge two phones at the fastest speeds possible, we recommend the Scosche PowerVolt Power Delivery Dual 18W USB-C Car Charger (CPDC8C8). It's the only car charger with dual USB-C ports from an accessory maker we trust. Each port supports 18-watt charging speeds, even when you use them at the same time, and it's not much larger or much more expensive than the Nekteck 45-watt charger.

    In our testing, an iPhone XS, when plugged into the PowerVolt with a USB-C–to–Lightning cable, charged from zero to about 50 percent in 30 minutes and to 80 percent in an hour. That's roughly 15 percent more battery life than your phone would get from a standard 12-watt USB-A charger. Android phones, including the Google Pixel family and the latest generations of the Samsung Galaxy line, would see similar gains compared with using USB-A chargers. The Scosche also performed as expected when we ran it through the Total Phase test, showing the proper power rates and no errors, so it should be compatible with any device that charges on the USB-C standard.

    The Scosche PowerVolt is a little bigger than the Nekteck PD 45W car charger, but it has two USB-C ports instead of one. Photo: Sarah Kobos
    Like the Nekteck PD 45W car charger, the Scosche PowerVolt has USB-IF certification, which means an independent lab has verified that it meets a set of criteria for safety and performance. Although we didn't rely on USB-IF certification in making our recommendations for this guide, that stamp of approval makes us even more comfortable with our picks.

    Scosche's warranty is one of the best we've seen. It covers the PowerVolt for three years, almost double the coverage that Anker—one of the most reputable companies in the business—offers. When we've contacted Scosche's customer service, we've been impressed by the fast response times; we got a response to one support inquiry within three hours.
    Budget pick: ZMI PowerCruise C2 36-Watt Dual USB Car Charger with QC 3.0
    Photo: Sarah Kobos
    If you don't want to spend more than $10 or so on a charger and aren't concerned about USB-C speeds, we recommend ZMI's PowerCruise C2 36-Watt Dual USB Car Charger with QC 3.0. To be fair, any dual-port USB-A charger from a reputable brand will work as well as any other. But the PowerCruise has a slight edge because it's the rare charger that supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 charging technology on both ports (if you have a compatible phone), and it has the most aesthetically pleasing design in the category.

    Like every dual-port charger we tested, the PowerCruise properly allowed 12-watt power draw from both ports. An iPhone XS should reach 35 percent from empty in half an hour, and about 73 percent in an hour. Although we don't think you should buy the PowerCruise only because it supports QC 3.0—most phones these days will charge just as fast or faster on a USB-C charger—the fact that it offers that support, for the same price as non-QC chargers, adds extra value and makes it the best USB-A option for a larger variety of phones.

    Dual–USB-A chargers from good companies are all about the same, but the PowerCruise is made of metal, which is nice. Photo: Sarah Kobos
    Whereas most car chargers are plastic, the PowerCruise is made of silver-colored brass. It has a substantial heft (something that makes it feel premium) and a clean look. It also sports a glowing ring between the charging stem and the 0.8-inch-tall head, though the ports themselves aren't lit.
    Also great: RAVPower Quick Charge 3.0 54W 4-Port Car Adapter (RP-VC003)
    Photo: Sarah Kobos
    Four ports might seem like overkill to some people, but if you really need to charge more than two devices at once in the car, the RAVPower Quick Charge 3.0 54W 4-Port Car Adapter (RP-VC003) is a great pick. It fits four fast USB charging ports into a package that's not much larger than the Nekteck PD 45W.

    With a black metal body that sticks out 1.4 inches from the car's outlet, and a face that's 1.8 inches tall and 1 inch wide when oriented vertically, the charger isn't unreasonably large. Its ports are aligned in a single row, so you can rotate the charger 90 degrees if a horizontal orientation better fits your car's setup.

    The RAVPower RP-VC003 charger is as compact as a charger can be with four USB-A ports crammed on the front. Photo: Sarah Kobos
    The RP-VC003 did fall a bit short in our tests, but not in a way that we think will affect most people. All three standard USB ports put out the proper 12 watts (2.4 amps, 5 volts) when we used them individually, and the Quick Charge port offered the right 2-amp, 9-volt charging figure. But when we tested the maximum draw on all four ports at once, one of the non–Quick Charge ports dropped to 0.8 amp. Since it's rare for devices to draw the whole 12 W available on a USB port—the power draw tapers off as a battery fills up—we don't think this problem will affect too many people. Even with this minor drawback, the RAVPower charger is still a better option than the limited competition.
    What about cheap dual-port 12-watt chargers?
    There's no shortage of small, $10-ish, dual-port USB-A chargers from reputable brands. Scosche's ReVolt, RAVPower's RP-PC031, RP-PC106, and RP-VC006, Aukey's CC-S7, Anker's PowerDrive 2, and AmazonBasics's Dual-Port USB Car Charger all perform identically to one another. Some are shorter than others and end up looking like they're part of your car when installed, and some have glowing ports that make it easier for you to plug in a cable when it's dark. But they all work fine, and they're decent buys if you find a great sale or it's easier to pick up one of these over the ZMI PowerCruise C2.
    The competition
    Aukey's Expedition Flush-Fit 18W is a tiny metal charger offering a single 18-watt USB-C port. We generally recommend chargers that don't sit flush because they are harder to remove, and think you can get a better deal for a multiport charger. In our tests, one of the power profiles was an unusual 12V/1.75A (21 watts), which doesn't match the 12V/1.5A listed on the charger itself. For that reason alone, we'd be wary of using it.

    Satechi's 72W Type-C PD Car Charger provides more power than any other model we tested, with 60 watts from the USB-C port (enough to charge a 13-inch MacBook Pro at full-speed) and 12 watts from the USB-A port. But it doesn't come with a charging cable, and that much power is overkill for most devices. If you often find yourself needing to charge your laptop in the car, the Satechi will be a good choice for you, but most people will be better off with the Nekteck charger, which includes a cable and offers 45-watt charging that will also work with most laptops.

    Anker's PowerDrive Speed+ Duo has a 30-watt USB-C port (as opposed to the Nekteck's 45-watt port), doesn't come with a cable, and generally sells for a few dollars more than the Nekteck. It's otherwise a good choice if you prefer the aesthetics of the glowing blue ring around the charging face.

    Aukey's CC-Y7 supports only a 27-watt output from its USB-C port, and it isn't USB-IF certified.

    In our testing, the Anker PowerDrive Speed+ 2 didn't support full Quick Charge speeds, despite its specs.

    RAVPower's Dual USB Car Adapter (RP-PC022) failed when we tried to charge devices on both the USB-A and USB-C ports at the same time.

    We don't recommend the AmazonBasics 4-Port USB Car Charger because it required us to unplug and reconnect our test iPads a few times to get the proper 2.4-amp power draw from each port. Eventually, all four were providing the right amount of power, but we found the RAVPower RP-VC003 to be more reliable.

    This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

    When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions.


  • How to hack your holiday meal

    I don't think of cooking as a production or a nuisance so much as a sporting event, and holiday meals take the place of the Super Bowl. In our house, my husband Marcus and I train for months, testing out different recipes, techniques and timings so that on the big day no one runs out of steam at 2PM when it's clearly going to take another 10 hours to serve dinner.

    "Who are you competing against?" a possibly saner person might ask. If it's a potluck, the answer is apparent (everyone). When you're hosting, it becomes an internal sort of competition. In the perfectionist's case you can never really win, even if everyone says they love your slightly burnt pie crust and don't at all mind eating Christmas lamb at midnight.

    Now don't take that admission as failure, because I've been training for the holiday season for decades. And after many, many missteps I've ultimately created a playbook of tech-enabled tricks.

    For example, I can't remember the last time I cooked a turkey in the oven. At our house, I use an Anova sous vide to make the most tender, juicy white meat I've ever tasted. Before you imagine me gently lowering a raw, naked bird into a bathtub full of circulating water, let me specify that unless you're hosting a large group, a turkey breast or two will do the trick.

    Simply place a skin-on, bone-in breast half (about three pounds) into a freezer bag with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs like rosemary and thyme. Then sous vide it for about three hours, anywhere between 130 and 145 degrees depending on how pink you like it. After those hours are up, heat a skillet (I like Le Creuset's cast-iron options) to scalding, then carefully place the breast skin-side down to sear it. Plan for about three-quarters of a pound per person. For a bigger group you might need to prepare multiple halves this way, making sure the meat is in a single layer in the sous vide so that it cooks evenly. Your guests will be delighted.
    Anova Precision Cooker Nano
    At $99, this small but powerful sous vide cooker heats quickly, controls temperatures well and comes with an accompanying app to adjust temperatures from afar (or, um, the couch). It's a nice perk rather than a must-have. However, it only has 750W of power versus other precision cookers' 1,200W, which means if you're cooking large quantities, you'll have to wait longer for the water to heat up.
    favorite kitchen gadget -- to work. I use it to make mashed potatoes -- Marcus' favorite part of the holiday meal and the dish I've hated since I was a kid. (I've always loved Brussels sprouts though. Go figure.) Marcus likes to say that makes me not a true American yet I faithfully make this dish each year.

    Some might recommend using a pressure cooker because it cuts down on time, but I prefer it because it concentrates the potatoes' flavor. Russets or Yukon Gold are the best types to use because their high starch content makes for creamier results. Peel and slice those suckers evenly, then slap them into the cooker's steamer basket with a little water in the bottom of the machine and cook on high for five minutes or so. Be sure to use a ricer afterward to keep them fluffy -- not gluey the way a food processor might -- and add plenty of butter and half and half. We keep a strict ratio of half potato/half dairy in our house.
    Instant Pot LUX60V3 V3
    With an impressive cult following, the Instant Pot has transformed the plug-in pressure cooker into the It gadget of the 21st century. For only $65, it pressure cooks, slow cooks, sautés, and even makes lube. It's got self-regulating safety features and is dishwasher safe although it can be a chore to clean all of its bits and bobs.
    Buy Instant Pot Lux on Amazon - $65
    It's also not the holidays without traditional green bean casserole with those weird, dehydrated onions on top. I update the dish by abolishing all canned vegetables. You'd be amazed what flavor fresh beans lend to a classic.

    Every authority will tell you to blanche most greenery in salt water before cooking it, because the high temperatures and sodium break down the pectin in the cell walls, leaving softer vegetables behind. But it's so retro to heat a big pot of boiling water, and it takes forever. I like to use one of my many electric kettles to boil water at the same time as I heat up more on the stove -- a basic hack, for sure, but one of the most useful time-savers I know of. This way the pot is ready in less than five minutes.

    Put a rubber band around the beans so you don't spend forever fishing them out, dump 'em in, and then shock them in ice water a few minutes later to stop the cooking process. Snip them quickly using kitchen shears rather than a knife and cutting board (also a good trick if you're making stuffing). Just don't tell me if you use canned cream of mushroom soup in the finished product.
    Bonavita BV382510V 1.0L gooseneck kettle
    If you're going to get an electric kettle, you might as well get the most useful one out there. Coffee aficionados prefer this gooseneck variety, at $51, because it gives you the most control over your pour, heats quickly, and is adjustable in increments of one degree.
    Buy Bonavita BV382510V on Amazon - $51Oxo Good Grips kitchen shears/scissors
    Whether you're snipping rosemary sprigs or spatchcocking a chicken, it comes in handy to have a quality pair of shears made specifically for the kitchen. Oxo's stainless steel ones do the trick, with micro-serrated blades that don't slip and are strong enough to cut through meat bones. It's also always satisfying to separate the blades easily and throw them in the dishwasher after you're finished cooking. Just handle the sharp blades with care.
    Buy Good Grips scissors on Amazon - $18Cuisinart

    To confirm our assumption that we're not too basic, for dessert we eat Southern sweet potato pie rather than pumpkin. Make sure to sous vide the potatoes for a few hours before mashing them to break down their starch molecules into maltose.

    For the crust, I like to mix things up in a food processor because those blades are designed to evenly combine butter with the dry ingredients. Pulse it a few dozen times and voila! I also recommend tongs for making a pretty pattern around the crust edge rather than my clumsy fingers.
    Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY
    Sure, you could get the cheapest food processor available, but as someone who has had multiple processors break down mid-hummus making, I can say it won't puree as well and the motor will slow down over time. At $150, Cuisinart's 14-cup model pummels your ingredients into subservience but also comes in a variety of cute colors.
    Buy Cuisinart Food Processor on Amazon - $146OXO Good Grips 12-inch tongs
    These excellent tongs make easy work of picking up heavy ingredients like meat as well as delicately turning light ingredients like kale chips (don't judge). Plus they don't absorb much of the heat from the dish you're cooking. They might become your most cost-efficient kitchen tool yet.
    Buy Good Grips tongs on Amazon - $13
    It's usually about 11PM by the time I'm pressing pastry, but no one seems to mind. It's most often my fault too, because I haven't managed to follow my own advice and instead have opted to make eight different pies, each with a different tessellation design on the crust. Still, I console myself. Marcus says he's become acclimated to eating late at night, and reassures me that if cooking were a dance-a-thon, I'd be the last woman standing.


  • GitHub will store all of its public open source code in an Arctic vault

    Let's face it, there are a lot of things that could bring about the end of the world as we know it -- heightened political tensions, climate change, even an asteroid. In the event that things go FUBAR, what will happen to the masses upon masses of data and digital stuff that humanity relies upon every day? If open source coding platform GitHub has anything to do with it, it'll all be stored safely at the very ends of the Earth.

    At its Universe Developer Conference two days ago, GitHub announced its Archive Program -- its plan to preserve all of its open source software for future generations. The program will see this data stored on an ongoing basis across various data formats and locations, including in the Arctic World Archive, a vault hidden 250 meters within an Arctic mountain in Svalbard. The Doomsday seed vault is just around the corner.

    The data is stored on reels of film coated with iron oxide powder. It can be read by a computer or -- in the event of a global power outage -- a human with a magnifying glass. Crucially, this film will last for 1,000 years. Among the first data deposit at the vault is the source code for Android and Linux operations systems, as well as a range of programming languages, web platforms, cryptocurrencies and AI tools. GitHub is planning on having all active public repositories stored by February 2020.

    The data will sit alongside digitally preserved national archives from around the world, including artworks, music, scientific breakthroughs, historical manuscripts and archaeological finds. Should some kind of apocalyptic event take place, all this data could well be used to help rebuild a global society. If not, it will at least act as a valuable time capsule. After all, just 20 years ago open source code was a very fringe idea -- now the world all but depends on it. Who knows what technology will look like in 1,000 years' time?

    Source: GitHub


  • The latest Xbox One update adds Google Assistant voice controls

    Xbox One's November update is here, bringing with it a bunch of new features and tools designed, as always, to improve your gaming experience. First up, and probably most notable, is the roll-out of Google Assistant voice controls. We've known this was coming for a while, and after a brief spell in beta, it's now available to all Xbox users. If you've got a Google Assistant Home-enabled device, you'll be able to turn your console on and off, launch games and apps and control videos using your voice, and the usual "Hey, Google..." command.

    Also in the update are gamertag improvements for console, following the PC update that saw the addition of 13 worldwide alphabets and a new display option. These are now supported on profiles, friends lists, messages, clubs and more. Current players can keep their existing Xbox tag without having to do anything.

    Xbox has also introduced customizable text filters, so you get to decide what's acceptable and what isn't in the text-based messages you receive. There are four filter levels, ranging from friendly (keep it clean), through medium, mature and unfiltered (where anything goes). Xbox is keen to stress that players can still report messages that violate community standards, though, regardless of the filter level you choose. Configure your message safety by going to Settings > General > Online safety & family > Privacy & online safety > Message safety.

    Other update changes include Mixer viewing improvements -- you can move Mixer chat around your screen or hide it altogether -- plus additional languages support for voice-to-text dictation, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Norweigian, Portuguese, Japanese and Simplified Chinese. More are set to arrive with future updates.

    Elsewhere, the Settings menu has had a makeover in aid of simplicity and ease of use, and a number of new console set up improvements mean that from now onwards, gamers who buy a brand new Xbox One will have the option to customize their Xbox One's language, time zone, power settings, and more through the Xbox app for iOS or Android while the Xbox console is installing the latest system update. So that's less time messing around, and more time gaming.

    Source: Xbox


  • Amazon is selling the new 16-inch MacBook Pro for $100 less than Apple

    Apple unveiled its redesigned 16-inch MacBook Pro just two days ago, and Amazon has already jumped in with a sale -- $2,300 instead of Apple's list price of $2,399. It's a big spend either way, but that $100 saving will definitely sweeten what's an already-appealing offering for MacBook fans.

    It replaces the similarly-sized 15-inch model. It's fast, it's light and – drumroll -- it has a new keyboard. This is a major USP for the device, given the unrelenting problems it's had over the last year. The new model features a new Magic Keyboard designed to address previous issues, plus the oft-requested physical Escape key.

    With such a major launch so close to the holidays, it's pretty unlikely you're going to find one for a lower price this side of Christmas, which means it's going to be a popular deal and won't last long. Move quickly if you want to be one the first to own Apple's newest flagship tech.
    Thrifter

    Source: Amazon



  • If your family needs a second car, make it a fun, compact EV

    Earlier this month, Volkswagen began production of the ID.3. It's a small, electric four-door hatchback with three different battery sizes, meant for a variety of driving lifestyles. The interior feels like the future, and if it drives anything like the E-Golf, it's going to be great. Except it's not coming to the United States.

    Likewise, the Honda-E has been the darling of literally every auto event it graces with its presence. It hits all the right buttons for the car-loving world. It's dripping with nostalgia, it looks amazing, it's rear-wheel drive, and it's an EV crammed full of tech in a way that doesn't feel forced. Unfortunately, it also won't be coming to the United States.

    That cool Honda Fit (aka Jazz, in other parts of the world) hybrid that was unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Show is unlikely to make into the showrooms of the country that actually invented jazz. Oh, and the Golf plug-in hybrid, it's also not coming to the US. We won't be able to buy these cool, small cars.

    For the automakers, it's a business decision. The United States is obsessed with larger vehicles. Crossovers, SUVs, and trucks (that never seem to be actually hauling all that much) are what Americans want. But we can change that. I mean you're never going to give up your SUV, I get it. But what if your second car was a small EV or hybrid? Something to run errands, commute to work and keep around so you're not putting miles on a vehicle that's larger than your master bedroom



    According to statistics, the average household has 1.8 to 2 cars. It depends on who you ask, but let's just accept that there are more families that have two cars than have one. The larger-vehicle market (SUVs, crossovers, trucks) continues to eat away at the sedan market. So there's a good chance most of those vehicles are big.

    I get it. The population is aging and getting in and out of an SUV is easier on our old joints. Or if you have a young family, it's way easier to put a car seat in a crossover than a sedan. Also, you can haul a ton of stuff with an SUV or truck. (Although the Honda Fit has a remarkable amount of cargo space.) Plus, you can't tow the boat to the lake with an E-Golf. But you're not always doing these things -- except getting old. That never stops. (Well, it does, but the endgame only requires one type of vehicle, and it's more of a wagon than an SUV.)

    But that second car doesn't need to be huge. So make it small. Make it an EV. Make it something that's fun to drive. Because SUVs are not all that fun to drive. Sure, they've improved. Gone are the days when being behind the wheel of a large vehicle was like driving a city bus. But very few trips in a crossover end with a smile on the driver's face.

    Electric cars are a blast. They have incredible torque so every time you leave a stoplight it's like a tiny drag race (Do not drag race). They have a very low center of gravity so even when you're cruising the Target parking lot it feels like you're navigating a sports car.

    Finally, thanks to tax incentives, you can get these cars for relatively cheap.

    That is, if they're available, and sadly, most aren't. Volkswagen told me that it's bringing the larger ID.4 crossover to the US first because it wants to make a strong introduction to the EV world. I've talked to multiple Honda representatives about the Honda-E and they tell me that the car just doesn't make sense here because it won't sell that well. The current Honda Fit's US sales (2018: 35,300) are nothing compared to the automaker's CRV sales (2018: 379,013) in the US. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Jazz (aka Fit) outsold the CRV 37,894 to 28,576 in 2018.

    But there are still options. The E-Golf is going away, but you can snap one up before they are discontinued. It's a fun little EV that's the bridge between the Golf and the new ID.3. The $37,000 Chevy Bolt is still out there, even though Chevy doesn't seem to do any marketing for it.



    Plus there's the upcoming $29,000 Mini SE electric vehicle. While others are retreating from the market, Mini is happy to bring its EV to the United States. It doesn't expect it to be a huge seller though. Pat McKenna, head of product for US Mini, said that the company is "cautiously optimistic" for the midrange EV. It's a global vehicle, and Mini expects it will do better in other regions.

    I had the opportunity to drive (at only a frustratingly slow 50 mph) the Mini SE a few months ago on a track. I can't offer up a complete feel for the car, but in my short time behind the wheel, it felt like it had the go-kart characteristics of a typical Mini. In other words, it'll be fun to drive around town.

    Plus there's the Tesla Model 3, starting at $39,500. This is the bestselling of all the electric cars and there's no chance Tesla will stop selling it in the United States. Oh, and behind the wheel, it's also a blast.

    So keep your SUVs and trucks. But let's start convincing automakers to bring more small EVs to the States because diversity in the driveway is good. Driving should be more than a chore; it can be a delight and small EVs have increasingly become some of the most fun you can have behind the wheel. Even when you're just running to the store to get some milk.


  • The popular 8-quart Instant Pot Lux is at its lowest price ever

    Instant Pot deals are becoming almost a daily occurrence. But since we're heading into the heart of holiday shopping season, all of them are worth considering for the culinary wizard on your list. Today, Amazon has the Instant Pot Lux 80 8-quart 6-in-1 model for just $55. What's more, that's the best price we've seen on this particular model, which typically costs $80. In fact, it's the lowest price ever on the Lux 80, according to Camelcamelcamel.

    This 8-quart model is recommended for families of six or more people, or for someone who enjoys batch cooking or meal prep. It offers three saute modes (low, medium and high), in addition to Egg and Cake cooking presets. And of course, the typical Rice, Slow Cooker and Manual Instant Pot modes are also available here.

    While $55 is a good price, we've been seeing deals on various Instant Pot models over the last few weeks. Those included discounts on the pricier Ultra models and on the red Duo. However, today's deal on the Lux 80 is the cheapest we've seen across all models over the last couple weeks. And this is one of Amazon's Gold Box deals of the day, so it won't be around for long.

    When you do take the plunge, check out our Instant Pot guide to make the most of of your new purchase.

    Via: 9to5Toys

    Source: Amazon


  • What to do when everything on their holiday wish list is digital

    The following scenario will play out thousands of times this holiday season, and if you're buying a lot of presents for friends and family, it'll likely affect your life personally.

    You: What do you want for the holidays?

    Them: The new Akali skin for League of Legends!

    You: I can get you some Riot Points, but I can't wrap them. Anything else?

    Them: The Staccato Shotto for Fortnite!

    You: Same problem.

    Them: How about Luigi's Mansion 3? Here, just download it on my Switch.

    You: Ugh.

    With the advent of living, online worlds and digital-first storefronts, plenty of gamers' wish lists include intangible items like cosmetic upgrades, fresh weapons, extra characters and new games. Gift cards make it easy to hand out in-game currency for most major titles, and download codes mean you don't even have to put on pants to pick out a present. However, white elephant gift exchanges are pretty boring when everyone passes around nondescript envelopes. Even in the modern online age, there's something deeply unsatisfying about giving someone a fully digital present.

    Luckily, there's a way to give your friends and family all the in-game goodies they want and also provide something to unwrap, all without buying extra presents. It's craft time, baby.

    The following crafts are cheap yet effective, utilizing materials you might already have in the house. Each project is fairly simple, but if you get frustrated, remember that's part of the process. Spending an hour fretting over the color of your homemade Fortnite chug jug is actually an hour spent thinking about the person receiving the gift, and that's what infuses these items with love. That, and the download codes.
    League of Legends Riot Points | Poro plushie

    Materials: Scissors, hot glue gun, black marker, Styrofoam ball, modeling clay, craft foam (pink, brown, white, black)

    Time: 45 minutes

    Notes: There are a handful of Poro crafting guides online, but the cutest and simplest one we found comes from former Canadian eSports group eLESGA, and it's right here. As with all of these projects, feel free to improvise! If you're looking to save time on your Poro, leave out the mustache and the little feet and make the horns out of brown craft foam rather than modeling clay.
    V-Bucks | Chug jug

    Materials: Tall food container, paint (dark blue, light blue, turquoise, silver), paint sponge, foam or modeling clay, scissors, hot glue

    Time: 45 minutes

    Notes: Grab your supplies, pull up a photo of the Fortnite chug jug and go wild. Or for a visual rundown, check out this how-to YouTube video from Troom Troom.

    You can't purchase V-bucks directly, but a gift card for the recipient's preferred platform will let them purchase all the wacky weapons and pink bear suits they want.
    Minecoins | Diamond sword or pickax

    Materials: Printer, paper, foam-core board, glue stick, metal ruler, cutting mat and craft scalpel or rotary cutter

    Time: 1 hour

    Notes: If you want to get fancy with this one, print images of the sword or pickax at a copy shop on shiny, 11x17-inch paper. Or keep it simple and print at home on standard-size sticker paper: The tools will be tiny, but that makes them more adorable. Plus, this method eliminates glue from the equation. Writer Kerry Ann Morgan provides clear images of the Minecraft tools on her blog, alongside instructions for putting it all together.
    eShop gift card | Masks and more

    Materials: Printer, paper or card stock, glue stick, string (for most)

    Time: 10 minutes

    Notes: Nintendo has taken crafting into its own hands, offering an official selection of printable masks, dioramas, tags and paper projects featuring Mario and pals. Simply pick your favorite and your craft is nearly finished.
    Nintendo eShop Gift Card at Amazon - $50The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide



    The best gifts for the home The best audio gifts, from headphones to DJ gear The media streamers and soundbars to buy this holiday season The movies and books we'd give as gifts The best smartphones, tablets and smartwatches to give as gifts The best gifts and games for console gamers PC and mobile accessories that'll make great gifts The best laptops and 2-in-1s to give as gifts Subscriptions and gift cards that make great last-minute gifts The best gifts for PC gamers, from laptops to GPUs The best cameras, accessories and bags to give as gifts The best fitness gadgets for the athlete on your list The best tech toys and STEM kits


  • Apple 'surprised' by Germany's new law to open up mobile payments

    Germany has introduced new legislation to deal with money-laundering, and it's causing problems for Apple. On Thursday, the German Parliament passed a raft of new measures to bring the country in line with EU directives on money laundering. These include stricter regulations for real estate agents, notaries, auction houses, and operators of electronic money infrastructure. The legislation didn't specifically name Apple nor Apple Pay, but it basically means Apple and Apple Pay.

    The new rule -- which is set to come into effect early next year if passed by the upper house of Parliament, the Bundesrat -- stipulates that the tech giant must open up its Apple Play platform to rival providers in Germany. At the moment, traditional bank payment apps can't access the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip in the iPhone or Apple Watch, and have to resort to clunky data transfer methods such as QR codes. Giving competitors' access to this platform (for a fee) would help to even the playing field.

    Apple, however, claims this move could be harmful to users' payment experience and compromise the security and privacy of financial data. In a statement to Engadget, Apple said it was "surprised by the suddenness of this legislative process" and that it "believes deeply in competition." The company intends to fight the proposal and says, "We look forward to engaging with the German government to help them understand our technical approach to Apple Pay and we'll continue to work closely with the EU regulators."

    The legislation comes at a tumultuous time for Apple, which is already on the EU's antitrust radar because of the way the Apple Pay app operates. It's also become something of a beacon for Germany's growing desire to more tightly regulate US tech companies. Speaking to Reuters, Jens Zimmermann, a senior lawmaker from Germany's Social Democrats, said of the Chancellor's office, "It would be astonishing if they let themselves be reined back by an American company."

    Source: Reuters



  • 'Minecraft Dungeons' will arrive in April 2020

    Game developer Mojang last year unexpectedly announced that it was working on Minecraft Dungeons -- a blocky take on classic dungeon crawlers. Now we know when we can finally expect it to land. Initially slated for 2019, Microsoft now says the game will be arriving on Xbox One, PC, Switch and PS4 in April next year.



    The game touts the distinct Minecraft look and feel, but turns the series' traditional formula on its head. Instead of letting players' imaginations loose on a vast, open canvas, Dungeons is an adventure game, filled with quests, characters, items and enemies, and can be played by up to four people online.

    Dungeons is something of a passion project for the small team at Mojang, but it's not the only Minecraft spin-off around. Mojang was also responsible for Minecraft: Story Mode, the narrative-driven adventure game that proved pretty popular when it was first launched in 2015.

    According to Microsoft's most recent -- and rather vague -- trailer, players that sign up via Mojang's website will be in with the chance of playing Dungeons first, perhaps hinting at a beta ahead of the official launch in April. Although when exactly that will be is still unclear.

    Via: eurogamer

    Source: Xbox [YouTube]



OSnews

  • Developer runs Windows 10 IoT Core on a graphing calculator
    An independent developer has managed to hack a Calculator to run Windows 10 operating system, but it’s not a basic or scientific calculator that we normally use. According to the photos, the device is actually the HP’s Prime Graphing Calculator which comes with a touch screen interface, and good industrial design. The photos shared by the developer Ben shows off Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) edition running on the HP Prime Graphing Calculator. Perhaps not the most useful hack in the world, but still very cool.


  • Supreme Court agrees to review disastrous ruling on API copyrights
    Ars Technica reports: The Supreme Court has agreed to review one of the decades most significant software copyright decisions: last years ruling by an appeals court that Google infringed Oracles copyrights when Google created an independent implementation of the Java programming language. The 2018 ruling by the Federal Circuit appeals court will upend the longstanding expectation of software developers that they are free to use existing software interfaces to build new computer programs,! Google wrote in its January petition to the Supreme Court. In a sane world, this idiotic ruling would be overturned and Larry Ellison cries in his huge pile of money. Sadly, this world is far from sane, so this could really go either way.


  • The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X review: 16 cores on 7nm with PCIe 4.0
    Deciding between building a mainstream PC and a high-end desktop has historically been very clear cut: if budget is a concern, and youre interested in gaming, then typically a user looks to the mainstream. Otherwise, if a user is looking to do more professional high-compute work, then they look at the high-end desktop. Over the course of AMD’s recent run of high-core count Ryzen processors that line has blurred. This year, that line has disappeared. Even in 2016, mainstream CPUs used to top out at four cores: today they now top out at sixteen. Does anyone need sixteen cores? Yes. Does everyone need sixteen cores? No. Do I want sixteen cores? Yes.


  • 1Password takes 200 million in venture capital
    I wanted to be the first one to tell you: I’m incredibly proud to announce that we’ve partnered with Accel to help 1Password continue the amazing growth and success we’ve seen over the past 14 years. Accel will be investing USD$200 million for a minority stake in 1Password. Along with the investment – their largest initial investment in their 35-year history – Accel brings the experience and expertise we need to grow further and faster. I use 1Password, and Im deeply skeptical of venture capital investments like these. 1Password has been profitable since its founding, so this investment is not a make-or-break kind of thing, which makes me worried about the future. Password managers require a lot of trust from their users, and trust is not something I give to venture capitalists.


  • Microsoft is working to bring 64-bit Intel app emulation to Windows on ARM
    With Microsofts launch of the Surface Pro X last week, questions were once again raised about the apps that can run on it. The answer is that like any Windows 10 on ARM PC, it can run native ARM (ARM and ARM64) apps, and it can run emulated 32-bit Intel (x86) apps. This leaves out 64-bit Intel (AMD64, or x64) apps, so if you want an app thats only available in an x64 flavor, such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Photoshop Elements, you cant use it. Thats going to change though. Speaking with several sources, I can confirm that Microsoft is indeed working on bringing x64 app emulation to Windows on ARM. When that will happen is a bit more unclear, but it seems like it could be in Windows 10 21H1, which would mean that the general public will have access to it in the first half of 2021, and Windows Insiders will be able to test it out next year. Developing tools and technologies like this always carries an inherent risk  if its slow and cumbersome, people will complain and wont want to use your operating system. If its fast and seamless, however, developers have little to no incentive to develop native ARM64 applications for Windows on ARM. Thats a fine line to tread, and definitely something Microsoft will have issues with. On a related note, the ARM64 version of Microsofts new Edge browser has been released.


  • Windows 10 to disallow WEP encryption
    Microsoft is planning to remove WEP encryption from Windows 10. Since the 1903 release, a warning message has appeared when connecting to Wi-Fi networks secured with WEP or TKIP (which are not as secure as those using WPA2 or WPA3). In a future release, any connection to a Wi-Fi network using these old ciphers will be disallowed. Wi-Fi routers should be updated to use AES ciphers, available with WPA2 or WPA3. WEP is very old  it entered the scene in 1997  and was cracked in 2001. Its incredibly easy to crack, so it only makes sense to remove this outdated feature from Windows.


  • Apple debuts new MacBook Pro with working keyboard
    The updated 16-inch MacBook Pro features a larger display with slimmer bezels than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which it has replaced in Apples notebook lineup. The display has a resolution of 30721920 pixels with up to 500 nits of brightness. The notebook features an updated Magic Keyboard! that does away with the unpopular butterfly mechanism, returning instead to a more reliable scissor mechanism with 1mm key travel, along with Intels latest 9th-generation processors with up to 8 cores. It also has up to 64GB of RAM and up to 8TB of SSD storage. Above the keyboard, the Touch Bar lives on, but the 16-inch MacBook Pro marks the return of a physical Esc key. In line with the latest MacBook Air, the Touch ID sensor has also been separated from the Touch Bar. It took them 4 years, but Apple finally remembered how to make a keyboard. Aside from the new MacBook Pro, Apple also announced the new Mac Pro will be available in December.


  • BBC feature on Terry Davis of TempleOS
    When a homeless man was accidentally killed by a train on the 11/08/18 in The Dalles, Oregon, no one realised how many people it would effect. The man was a computer programmer called Terry Davis and he was on a mission from God. Hed designed an entire operating system called Temple OS and according to Terry its creation had been a direct instruction from God himself. As a fellow programmer explained it, you can imagine how over time one man might build a house, but this is like building a sky scraper, on your own! And this was all done while Terry battled a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Aleks Krotoski searches the emails, web posts and live streams to piece together the life of a remarkable individual whos work touched so many and is now celebrated not just as a technological achievement but an artistic one. Davis story was a sad one, and partially intertwined with OSNews and the crew here. His behaviour meant we eventually had to ban him from the site, but even after that, then-OSNews editor Kroc Kamen worked with him for an OSNews article.


  • Tearing apart printf()
    If Hello World is the first program for C students, then printf() is probably the first function. Ive had to answer questions about printf() many times over the years, so Ive finally set aside time for an informal writeup. The common questions fit roughly in to two forms: Easy: How does printf mechanically solve the format problem?Complex: How does printf actually display text on my console? My usual answer? Just open up stdio.h and track it down! This wild goose chase is not only a great learning experience, but also an interesting test for the dedicated beginner. Will they come back with an answer? If so, how detailed is it? What IS a good answer? This is incredibly detailed and definitely over my head, but Im sure many of you will enjoy this one greatly.


  • Google’s secret ‘Project Nightingale’ gathers personal health data on millions of Americans
    Google is teaming with one of the country’s largest health-care systems on a secret project to collect and crunch the detailed personal health information of millions of Americans across 21 states, according to people familiar with the matter and internal documents. The data involved in Project Nightingale includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth. Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients, according to a person familiar with the matter. Theres a lot of money to be made in healthcare, and it was only a matter of time before creepy technology companies like Google would want a piece of this pie  through massive amounts of personal information. Technically, this is all above board, though. Its fully within federal regulations and laws, so this practice is unlikely to stop.


  • Viral tweet about Apple Card leads to Goldman Sachs probe
    A Wall Street regulator is opening a probe into Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s credit card practices after a viral tweet from a tech entrepreneur alleged gender discrimination in the new Apple Card’s algorithms when determining credit limits. A series of posts from David Heinemeier Hansson starting Thursday railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got. The tweets, many of which contain profanity, immediately gained traction online, even attracting comment from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Hansson didn’t disclose any specific income-related information for either of them but said they filed joint tax returns and that his wife has a better credit score than he does. The whole Twitter thread by David Heinemeier Hansson is an exercise in inflexible bureaucracy and an unshakable belief in the black box algorithm that nobody even seems to understand. Bias in algorithms is a real problem, and it will only become a bigger problem as they become more and more important in every aspect of our society.


  • IBM, sonic delay lines, and the history of the 80×24 display
    What explains the popularity of terminals with 80×24 and 80×25 displays? A recent blog post 8025! motivated me to investigate this. The source of 80-column lines is clearly punch cards, as commonly claimed. But why 24 or 25 lines? There are many theories, but I found a simple answer: IBM, in particular its dominance of the terminal market. In 1971, IBM introduced a terminal with an 80×24 display (the 3270) and it soon became the best-selling terminal, forcing competing terminals to match its 80×24 size. The display for the IBM PC added one more line to its screen, making the 80×25 size standard in the PC world. The impact of these systems remains decades later: 80-character lines are still a standard, along with both 80×24 and 80×25 terminal windows. As noted, a follow-up to our earlier discussion.


  • What happened if you tried to access a network file bigger than 2GB from MS-DOS?
    One of my friends is into retrocomputing, and he wondered what happened on MS-DOS if you asked it to access a file on a network share that was bigger than what FAT16 could express. My friend was under the mistaken impression that when MS-DOS accessed a network resource, it was the sector access that was remoted. Under this model, MS-DOS would still open the boot sector, look for the FAT, parse it, then calculate where the directories were, read them directly from the network hard drive, and write raw data directly to the network hard drive. This is not how it works. Raymond Chen is an international treasure.


  • AMD Q4: 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X, Threadripper up to 32-Core 3970X
    AMD is set to close out the year on a high note. As promised, the company will be delivering its latest 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X processor, built with two 7nm TSMC chiplets, to the consumer platform for $749. Not only this, but AMD today has lifted the covers on its next generation Threadripper platform, which includes Zen 2-based chiplets, a new socket, and an astounding 4x increase in CPU-to-chipset bandwidth. At this point its starting to feel like kicking Intel when theyre down.


  • Bill Gates: everyone would be using Windows Mobile instead of Android if not for the US antitrust investigation
    Gates said that he has no doubt the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft! as the company would have otherwise focused more on developing the mobile operating system. The lawsuit ended up distracting him away from Windows Mobile and he ultimately screwed that up . He also said that Microsoft was three months too late on a release! that would have been used by Motorola on a smartphone. While he did not provide the specifics, it is possible that Gates is referring to the iconic Motorola Droid which launched with Android and made consumers in the US notice the OS thanks to the heavy marketing push from Verizon and Motorola. I wouldnt be surprised if this is actually quite close to reality. Had Verizon and an  at the time  influential phone makers like Motorola with its Droid phone and all the marketing blitz that accompanied it opted for a Microsoft product, I wouldnt be so sure Android wouldve gotten the head start that it did.



Linux Journal - The Original Magazine of the Linux Community

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


     
    Final Letter from the Editor: The Awkward Goodbye

    by Kyle Rankin

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

    That's basically this post. 

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

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


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

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

    Figure 1. A Typical Kernel Panic

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

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

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

    Figure 2. kexec Configuration Menu

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Ugh, I hate it.

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

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

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

    And the portcullis came crashing down.

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

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


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

    The word DevOps confuses me.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Once you're in your activated virtualenv, install the required Python modules with the command:
      pip3 install pythreejs termcolor pytz pandas pyqt5 sip  
    After those dependencies are installed, grab the source code with the command:
      git clone https://github.com/cadnano/cadnano2.5.git  
    This will grab the Qt5 version. The Qt4 version is in the repository https://github.com/cadnano/cadnano2.git.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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