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LinuxSecurity - Security Advisories

  • Fedora 30: xfig FEDORA-2020-6a2824178e>
    - Security fix for CVE-2019-19746, CVE-2019-19797 - New upstream release 3.2.7b - Add patch fixing CVE-2019-19746 (rhbz#1787040) - Add patch fixing CVE-2019-19797 (rhbz#1786726)

  • [$] The rapid growth of io_uring
    One year ago, the io_uring subsystem didnot exist in the mainline kernel; it showed up in the 5.1 release in May2019. At its core, io_uring is a mechanism for performing asynchronousI/O, but it has been steadily growing beyond that use case and adding newcapabilities. Herein we catch up with the current state of io_uring, whereit is headed, and an interesting question or two that will come up alongthe way.

  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (git and python-apt), Oracle (openslp), Red Hat (chromium-browser and ghostscript), SUSE (samba, slurm, and tomcat), and Ubuntu (clamav, gnutls28, and python-apt).

  • [$] How to contribute to kernel documentation
    Some years back, I was caught in a weak moment and somehow became thekernel documentation maintainer. More recently, I've given a few talks onthe state of kernel documentation and the sort of work that needs to bedone to make things better. A key part of getting that work done iscommunicating to potential contributors the tasks that they might helpfullytake on — a list that was, naturally, entirely undocumented. To that end,a version of the following document is currently under review and headedfor the mainline. Read on to see how you, too, can help to make thekernel's documentation better.

  • Five new stable kernels
    Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced the release of the 4.4.211, 4.9.211, 4.14.167, 4.19.98, and 5.4.14 stable kernels. As usual, thesecontain important fixes throughout the kernel tree; users should upgrade.

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by openSUSE (chromium, libredwg, and thunderbird), Oracle (apache-commons-beanutils, java-1.8.0-openjdk, libarchive, and python-reportlab), Red Hat (kernel), Scientific Linux (apache-commons-beanutils, libarchive, and openslp), SUSE (java-11-openjdk), and Ubuntu (e2fsprogs, graphicsmagick, python-apt, and zlib).

  • [$] A tiny Python called Snek
    Keith Packard is no stranger to the stage; he has spoken on a wide variety of topics since he started going to the conference in 2004(which was held inAdelaide, where organizers apparently had a lot of ice cream forattendees). One of his talks at this year's conference was on aneducation-focused project that he has been working on for around a year:a version of Python called "Snek" targeting embedded processors.He gave a look at some of the history of his work with 10-12 year-old students that led to thedevelopment of Snek as well as some plans for the language—and hardware torun it on—moving forward.

  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (tiff and transfig), Fedora (thunderbird-enigmail), Mageia (ffmpeg and sox), openSUSE (fontforge, python3, and tigervnc), Oracle (python-reportlab), Red Hat (apache-commons-beanutils, java-1.8.0-openjdk, kernel, kernel-alt, libarchive, openslp, openvswitch2.11, openvswitch2.12, and python-reportlab), Scientific Linux (java-1.8.0-openjdk and python-reportlab), SUSE (samba and tigervnc), and Ubuntu (python-pysaml2).

  • [$] Control-flow integrity for the kernel
    Control-flowintegrity (CFI) is a technique used to reduce the ability toredirect the execution of a program's code in attacker-specified ways. TheClang compiler has some features that can assist in maintainingcontrol-flow integrity, which have been applied to the Android kernel. KeesCook gave a talk about CFI for the Linux kernel at the recently in Gold Coast, Australia.

  • Wine 5.0 released
    Wine 5.0 has been released. The mainhighlights are builtin modules in PE format, multi-monitor support, XAudio2reimplementation, and Vulkan 1.1 support. Wine is capable of running Windowsapplications on Linux and other POSIX-compliant systems.

  • Roose: PHP in 2020
    Brent Roose argues thatit is time to take another look at PHP. "In this post, I want tolook at this bright side of PHP development. I want to show you that,despite its many shortcomings, PHP is a worthwhile language to learn. Iwant you to know that the PHP 5 era is coming to an end. That, if you wantto, you can write modern and clean PHP code, and leave behind much of themess it was 10 years ago."

  • Security updates for Tuesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (openconnect), Fedora (e2fsprogs, glibc, kernel, and nss), openSUSE (Mesa, php7, and slurm), Oracle (.NET Core, java-1.8.0-openjdk, java-11-openjdk, and thunderbird), Red Hat (java-1.8.0-openjdk, openvswitch, and openvswitch2.11), Scientific Linux (java-1.8.0-openjdk), SUSE (java-11-openjdk, libssh, libvpx, Mesa, and thunderbird), and Ubuntu (libbsd and samba).

  • [$] process_madvise(), pidfd capabilities, and the revenge of the PIDs
    Once upon a time, there were few ways for one process to operate uponanother after its creation; sending signals and ptrace() wereabout it. In recent years, interest inproviding ways for processes to control others has been on the increase,and the kernel's process-management API has been expanded accordingly.Along these lines, the process_madvise() system call has been proposed as a way for one process to influencehow memory management is done in another. There is a newprocess_madvise() series which is interesting in its own right,but this series has also raised a couple of questions about how processmanagement should be improved in general.

  • GNU make 4.3 released
    GNU make 4.3 is out. New features include explicit grouped targets, a new.EXTRA_PREREQS variable, the ability to specify parallel builds inthe makefile itself, and more. There are also a couple ofbackward-incompatible changes; see the announcement for details.

  • Security updates for Monday
    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (git, java-11-openjdk, and thunderbird), Debian (cacti, chromium, gpac, kernel, openjdk-11, ruby-excon, and thunderbird), Fedora (chromium and rubygem-rack), Mageia (suricata, tigervnc, and wireshark), openSUSE (glusterfs, libredwg, and uftpd), and Ubuntu (linux-hwe and sysstat).

LXer Linux News

  • Apollo Lake in-vehicle PCs have four PoE ports
    Nexcom’s “nROK 6222” and similar “VTC 6222” are rugged, Linux-ready in-vehicle computers with an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, 5x GbE (4x with PoE), 3x mini-PCIe, 2x SATA, 2x HDMI, and CAN, serial, VGA, USB 3.0, and GPS. Nexcom announced a nROK 6222 computer for rolling stock applications and a similar VTC 6222 system for more […]

  • Install Adminer Database Management Tool on Debian 10
    Managing database systems like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQLite form the web-based UI is easier than using the command-line tool. Adminer is one of the best full-featured database management tool written in PHP.

  • How is the path environment variable managed in Linux/Ubuntu/Debian?
    Many users, beginners and advanced are sometimes confused on how the PATH environment variable is handled on Linux. Why are there so many files .bash_profile, .bashrc,.profile , .bash_login ? In this short article, we will try to clear up this confusion and will also explain how to add a path to PATH on Linux as well as provide a glimpse inon the different files involved and the way the way are invoked.

  • Top 7 Predictions for Linux and Open Source In 2020
    When it comes to prediction for Linux and open source in 2020, there are already a lot to take in to consider that 2020 will be a very eventful year in the open source community. 2020 already looks like a year with so much to offer already, so, I will quickly run through what the predictions are for the year. Here are my top 7 predictions.

  • How to install kafka on RHEL 8
    Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform. With it's rich API (Application Programming Interface) set, we can connect mostly anything to Kafka as source of data, and on the other end, we can set up a large number of consumers that will receive the steam of records for processing. Kafka is highly scaleable, and stores the streams of data in a reliable and fault-tolerant way.

  • Tcpdump Command in Linux
    tcpdump is a command-line utility that you can use to capture and inspect network traffic going to and from your system

  • Use this open source tool to get your local weather forecast
    Last year, I brought you 19 days of new (to you) productivity tools for 2019. This year, I'm taking a different approach: building an environment that will allow you to be more productive in the new year, using tools you may or may not already be more


	Copyright 2020|Linux Insider"LinuxInsider"]]
  • Canonical Introduces Scalable Android-Based Cloud Platform
    Canonical is deploying a scalable Android-based operating system for mobile and desktop enterprise applications from the cloud. The company just announced its Anbox Cloud containerized workload platform. Anbox Cloud allows apps to be streamed to any operating system or form factor. Its uses include cloud gaming, enterprise workplace applications, software testing and mobile device virtualization.

  • TROMjaro Updates Deliver Lighter, Better Manjaro
    The current version of TROMjaro is as close as it gets to being a Manjaro clone. However, a much different philosophy gives users something more than the Manjaro distro itself offers. The latest ISO release, version 11.11.2019, is based on Manjaro 18.1.2 "Juhraya." As such, TROMjaro is part of the Arch Linux family. TROMJaro offers a new twist on open source freedom in Linux.

  • Arduino Aims to Secure IoT With New Dev Platform, Hardware
    Arduino announced a new low-code Internet of Things application development platform at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. It also introduced the low-power Arduino Portenta H7 module, a new family of Portenta chips for a variety of hardware applications. Arduino has achieved prominence as a go-to developer of an innovation platform for connecting IoT products.

  • New Feren OS Does Plasma Better
    Feren OS now is built around Ubuntu Linux 18.04 and the KDE Plasma desktop instead of Linux Mint. The Cinnamon desktop version could retire later this year. The Feren OS community has released a mostly maintenance snapshot update for the Feren OS Cinnamon version. This new Feren OS release meets the goal of mixing the Cinnamon desktop with the more capable KDE Plasma 5 to make a better distro.

  • Samsung Debuts Sleek Galaxy Chromebook
    Samsung introduced a high-end Galaxy Chromebook at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The new model could serve as an extension of the company's smartphone lineup and spawn a premium device demand in the category. Samsung aims to position it as the company's flagship Chromebook to meet potential demand for a more useful and powerful multipurpose premium mobile device.

  • Remix Could Bring Some Cinnamon Lovers Back to Ubuntu
    Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix arrived just in time for the holidays. Its first stable version is based on Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine. It utilizes Linux Mint's Cinnamon desktop environment on top of Ubuntu Linux's codebase. Work on several release candidate and beta versions stretches back to 2013. The efforts stayed under the radar until the announcement of the new distro's debut stable release.

  • Data-Munching Bug Throws Chrome 79 Android Rollout Into Chaos
    Google has stalled the rollout of its Chrome 79 Web browser for Android devices until it can find a way to neutralize a data-destroying bug. Affected users have been vilifying Google and app developers for failing to head off the problem. The latest Chrome version contains two highly anticipated new features: phishing protection, and the ability to reorder bookmarks.

  • Plenty of Linux Power Is Built Into Linux Lite 4.6
    Serving two masters, in theory, is nearly impossible. In practice, the Linux Lite distribution easily satisfies Linux newcomers and veteran penguin fans as well. This distro is very beginner-friendly -- in large part due to a fine-tuned Xfce desktop interface that gives former Windows and macOS users a familiar base. I have always considered the distro's name -- "Linux Lite" -- to be a misnomer.

  • Should Discord Be in Your Incident Response Toolbox?
    Cybersecurity incident response teams have choices when it comes to communication tools: Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom and numerous others. Some require a subscription or commercial license -- others are free. Some are niche tools specifically designed for incident response. Some are generic business communication tools that IR teams have adapted for use during a cybersecurity incident.

  • Devs: Open Source Is Growing Despite Challenges
    Optimism about the future of open source is high among software developers worldwide. However, a growing number of devs worry that a lack of funding threatens its sustainability. That is a key takeaway from DigitalOcean's second annual open source survey. The online survey provides a snapshot of the state of open source, as well as a gauge of the inclusivity and friendliness of contributors.

  • Linux For All Shines on LXDE Desktop
    Linux For All very well could be a unifying Linux distribution that provides a common computing platform. LFA comes in just one flavor, the LXDE environment. However, LXDE is an inviting option that eliminates confusion and complexity in favor of a powerful desktop that is lightweight enough to run on low-powered aging hardware. A major advantage is better hardware support for Nvidia graphics.

  • OSGeoLive Distro Opens Doors to Geospatial Worlds
    If you ever have considered investigating or working with elements of the geospatial world, check out the latest edition of OSGeoLive, a Linux distribution that runs directly from a bootable DVD or USB thumb drive. You also can load a pre-made virtual machine disk file that runs in a VMware Workstation or VirtualBox environment. Or you can install it on a hard drive the old-fashioned way.

  • You've Come a Long Way, Linux-Baby
    When Linux first emerged from its cocoon in a frenzied Usenet thread, it is doubtful that almost anyone imagined the project would ascend to global prominence. Even more astonishingly, its dominance was driven as much, if not more, by its adoption by the private sector -- although it posed an antithesis to its business model -- as by any of its other notable traits.

  • How the Quantum Tech Race Puts the World's Data at Risk
    The technology one-upmanship between the United States and China is fast becoming the new space race. There's been a lot of talk in the press about the competition to reach 5G, but little traction outside of the tech community about something more momentous: the dangers of computing in a post-quantum world. The recent news from Google about its quantum capabilities is exciting.

  • Cleverly Reimagined Slax Distro Pushes Portable Linux's Limits
    Slax Linux is a handy portable operating system that can be a useful alternative to bulky, more complicated Linux options that install to a hard drive. However, it is far from a complete out-of-the-box solution. That is not a bad thing, though. Slax works. Copying just one folder from the downloaded ISO directly to a USB drive gives you a fully functional Linux OS.

  • GitHub Aims to Make Open Source Code Apocalypse-Proof in Arctic Vault
    GitHub wants to make sure its entire warehouse of open source code survives an apocalypse by burying it deep within an Arctic vault as one of several preservation strategies. Microsoft-owned GitHub is creating the Arctic Code Vault as a data repository for the existing Arctic World Archive. The AWA is a very-long-term archival facility about 0.16 miles deep in the permafrost of an Arctic mountain.


  • Air-Traffic Control Is in the Midst of a Major Change
    Shift from radar to GPS should make tracking faster and more accurate, allowing more planes in the air. From a report: Since World War II, air-traffic controllers have used radar to keep track of aircraft. But as of Jan. 1, most planes and helicopters flying in the U.S. must be equipped with transponders that allow their movements to be traced with GPS coordinates. The deadline caused a flurry of upgrades last year as operators who hadn't yet complied with the mandate rushed to equip their aircraft in time. Now, more than 100,000 commercial and general aviation aircraft have the transponders, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, including nearly all commercial aircraft and an estimated 60% of general aviation aircraft that need it.   "If you're flying an antique plane in the middle of Ohio, you don't have to have it," said John Zimmerman, vice president of Sporty's Pilot Shop, an Ohio retailer and flight school. The U.S. controls 29.4 million square miles of airspace, including all of the U.S., large portions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. The FAA mandate primarily applies to Class A airspace, which is 18,000 feet or more above sea level; Class B airspace, the areas surrounding the nation's busiest airports; Class C airspace, the areas around smaller regional airports; and above 10,000 feet in Class E, the most common airspace. LaGuardia Airport in New York is Class B. Richmond International Airport in Virginia is Class C.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Google Backtracks on Design That Made Search Ads Look Like Normal Results
    Google's latest design change to its search results received blowback from some who said it blurred the lines between search ads and regular search results. On Friday, Google responded, saying it will be experimenting with different designs, some that will not include the icons that make ads look similar to those organic search results. From a report: As part of a recent redesign to desktop search results, the company made paid links look more like the unpaid search results users see. The word "Ad" in bold text appears next to the advertisements, which typically appear as the first few results in a search and are therefore more likely to be clicked on and generate ad revenue for Google.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • FICO Changes Could Lower Your Credit Score
    Credit-scoring company Fair Isaac is making changes that will create a bigger gap between consumers deemed to be good and bad credit risks [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: Changes in how the most widely used credit score in the U.S. is calculated will likely make it harder for many Americans to get loans. Fair Isaac, creator of FICO scores, will soon start scoring consumers with rising debt levels and those who fall behind on loan payments more harshly. It will also flag certain consumers who sign up for personal loans, a category of unsecured debt that has surged in recent years. The changes will create a bigger gap between consumers deemed to be good and bad credit risks, the company says. Consumers with already-high FICO scores of about 680 or higher who continue to manage loans well will likely get a higher score than under previous FICO versions. Those with already-low scores below 600 who continue to miss payments or accumulate other black marks will experience bigger score declines than under previous models.   Millions of consumers could see their scores rise or fall as a result of the changes, the company said. The changes are an about-face from recent years, when FICO and credit-reporting companies made changes that helped increase scores for some consumers, such as removing some negative information, including civil judgments, from credit reports. Credit scoring and reporting companies also recently started factoring in such information as bank account balances and utilities payments to help give consumers with limited credit histories a better shot at getting loans. Those recent moves can help revenue-hungry lenders identify more creditworthy consumers and make it easier for them to be approved for loans. Average FICO scores have been rising steadily following some of these changes and an improving economy.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Does Your Domain Have a Registry Lock?
    Brian Krebs: If you're running a business online, few things can be as disruptive or destructive to your brand as someone stealing your company's domain name and doing whatever they wish with it. Even so, most major Web site owners aren't taking full advantage of the security tools available to protect their domains from being hijacked. Here's the story of one recent victim who was doing almost everything possible to avoid such a situation and still had a key domain stolen by scammers.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Lenovo Issues Firmware Update for ThinkPad Laptops Made Between 2017 and 2019 To Fix Various USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 Connection Issues
    couchslug writes: Potential hardware damage alert. As reported by Notebookcheck and later posted to a Lenovo support page, the USB-C firmware issue affects more than a dozen ThinkPad models including the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (5th Gen to 7th Gen), X1 Yoga (2nd Gen to 4th Gen), and P-series ThinkPads. It turns out that a firmware update issued in August 2019 corrupted the software controlling the port. " couchslug adds: Anyone with more information on this expensive problem please post. It's already taken out many system boards. The problem affects enough models that class action suit may be appropriate because failures due to the defect have occurred outside the warranty window. Users on Reddit suggest the situation is even worse. The "critical firmware update" is only a mitigation for the hardware failure -- keeping the machine going until the warranty expires." CNET adds: If your laptop is one of the models affected, Lenovo recommends to immediately update your system with new driver and firmware packages that are designed to resolve any USB-C problem. If the updates don't work out, Lenovo urges ThinkPad owners to reach out to Technical Support.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Pentagon Blocks Clampdown on Huawei Sales
    The Commerce Department's efforts to tighten the noose on Huawei Technologies Co. is facing a formidable obstacle: the Pentagon. From a report:Commerce officials have withdrawn proposed regulations making it harder for U.S. companies to sell to Huawei [the link may be paywalled] from their overseas facilities following objections from the Defense Department as well as the Treasury Department, people familiar with the matter told WSJ. The Pentagon is concerned that if U.S. companies can't continue to ship to Huawei, they will lose a key source of revenue -- depriving them of money for research and development needed to maintain a technological edge, the people said. The Treasury Department wanted to make sure that Secretary Steven Mnuchin had a chance to weigh in, said one of the people. Cabinet officials are expected to meet on Huawei and other China issues in the coming weeks. The splits within the Trump administration on how to deal with Huawei show the difficulty of confronting China on technology without harming U.S. companies.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Who's Afraid of the IRS? Not Facebook.
    Speaking of tax evasions, Kiel, in a separate story at ProPublica this week: In March 2008, as Facebook was speeding toward 100 million users and emerging as the next big tech company, it announced an important hire. Sheryl Sandberg was leaving Google to become Facebook's chief operating officer. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, then 23 years old, told The New York Times that Sandberg would take the young company "to the next level." Based on her time at Google, Sandberg soon decided that one area where Facebook was behind its peers was in its tax dodging. "My experience is that by not having a European center and running everything through the US, it is very costly in terms of taxes," she wrote other executives in an April 2008 email, which hasn't been previously reported. Facebook's head of tax agreed, replying that the company needed to find "a low taxed jurisdiction to park profits." Later that year, Facebook named Dublin as its international headquarters, just as Google had done when Sandberg was there. And just like Google, Facebook concocted an intra-company deal to "park profits" in Ireland, where it would pay a tax rate near zero.   Like its Big Tech peers, Facebook wasn't much afraid of the IRS. But, as it happened, the same year that Facebook started moving profits to Ireland, the IRS launched a team to crack down on deals like that. The effort started aggressively. As we recently reported, the IRS threw everything it had at Microsoft in the largest audit in the agency's history. But shortly after the IRS showed this new ambition, Republicans in Congress, after taking the House in 2010, began forcing cuts to the IRS' budget. Over the years, as Facebook grew into one of the world's largest companies, with 2 billion users, the IRS was shrinking. By the time the IRS finally took on Facebook over its Irish deal a few years later, the agency was in over its head. ProPublica pieced together the story of the Facebook audit from court documents filed by the two sides in their yearslong battle. The picture revealed by the documents provides a crucial window into the IRS' struggles to check large corporations' tax schemes.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Wikipedia Now Has More Than 6 Million Articles in English
    Wikipedia has surpassed a notable milestone this week: The English version of the world's largest online encyclopedia now has more than six million articles. From a report: The feat, which comes roughly 19 years after the website was founded, is a testament of "what humans can do together," said Ryan Merkley, chief of staff at Wikimedia, the nonprofit organization that operates the omnipresent online encyclopedia. The 6 millionth article is about Maria Elise Turner Lauder, a 19th-century Canadian school teacher, travel writer and fiction writer. The article was written by Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, a longtime editor of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is available in dozens of languages, but its English-language version has the most number of articles. The English edition is also the most visited project on the website. According to publicly disclosed figures, the English version of the website averages about 255 million pageviews a day. According to web analytics firm SimilarWeb, Wikipedia overall is the eighth most visited website.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Rome Wasn't Built In a Day, But a $30.4B Microsoft Puerto Rico Tax Dodge Was
    theodp writes: ProPublica's Paul KIel has the remarkable tale of the IRS' 12-years-and-counting audit of Microsoft for a 2005 deal involving a Puerto Rico subsidiary (and related "Legal Entities") that was deemed worth nothing or a nominal amount on June 30th, 2005 but valued at $30.4 billion just one day later. Seen as an epic case of tax dodging by one of the largest companies in the world, the IRS opened the biggest audit by dollar amount in the history of the agency. In response to extensive written questions, Microsoft said it "follows the law and has always fully paid the taxes it owes." Kiel writes:Microsoft had shifted at least $39 billion in U.S. profits to Puerto Rico, where the company's tax consultants, KPMG, had persuaded the territory's government to give Microsoft a tax rate of nearly 0%. Microsoft had justified this transfer with a ludicrous-sounding deal: It had sold its most valuable possession -- its intellectual property -- to an 85-person factory it owned in a small Puerto Rican city. Over years of work, the IRS uncovered evidence that it believed laid the scheme bare. In one document, a Microsoft senior executive celebrated the company's "pure tax play." In another, KPMG plotted how to make the company Microsoft created to own the Puerto Rico factory -- and a portion of Microsoft's profits -- seem "real." Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled Microsoft had to turn over disputed KPMG documents because the firm had been promoting a tax shelter. Martinez wrote, "the Court finds itself unable to escape the conclusion that a significant purpose, if not the sole purpose, of Microsoft's transactions was to avoid or evade federal income tax." It's an outcome that "serves the public interest," he wrote, given the difficulty of the IRS' task of discovering underreporting of corporate taxes. Barring an appeal, the ruling resolves the summons enforcement case and means the audit can now be completed by the IRS in the coming months.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Scientists Re-Create Voice of 3,000-Year-Old Mummy
    Longtime Slashdot reader vm writes: You don't have to wait until next Halloween to get creeped out. Using 3D printing, medical scanners, and an electronic larynx, researchers have recreated the voice of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. The tongue has deteriorated over three millennia and all they have so far is a vowel sound but it's a pretty clever way to raise the dead with science. "The researchers then synthesized Nesyamun's voice by 3D printing a model of his airway and connecting it to an electronic larynx, an artificial voice box that provides a noise source," reports Science Magazine. "Based on writings on Nesyamun's coffin and the objects he was buried with, researchers know that he was an Egyptian priest and scribe who likely sang and spoke to the gods as part of his ritual duties. His coffin inscriptions include a wish to 'see and address the gods as he had in his working life.'"   The findings have been reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • First Space-Baked Cookies Took 2 Hours In Experimental Oven
    pgmrdlm shares a report from ABC News: The results are finally in for the first chocolate chip cookie bake-off in space. While looking more or less normal, the best cookies required two hours of baking time last month up at the International Space Station. It takes far less time on Earth, under 20 minutes. And how do they taste? No one knows. Still sealed in individual baking pouches and packed in their spaceflight container, the cookies remain frozen in a Houston-area lab after splashing down two weeks ago in a SpaceX capsule. They were the first food baked in space from raw ingredients. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano was the master baker in December, radioing down a description as he baked them one by one in the prototype Zero G Oven. The first cookie -- in the oven for 25 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) -- ended up seriously under-baked. He more than doubled the baking time for the next two, and the results were still so-so. The fourth cookie stayed in the oven for two hours, and finally success. Parmitano cranked the oven up to its maximum 325 degrees F (163 degrees C) for the fifth cookie and baked it for 130 minutes. He reported more success. As for aroma, the astronauts could smell the cookies when they removed them from the oven, except for the first.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Mars Rover Is Frozen In Place Following Software Error
    Iwastheone writes: NASA reports that Curiosity has suffered a system failure that left the robot unaware of its position and attitude on the red planet. Until it recovers, Curiosity is frozen in place. Mars is far enough away that we can't directly control Curiosity in real-time -- the rover gets batches of commands and then carries them out. That means it needs to have precise awareness of the state of all its joints, as well as environmental details like the location of nearby obstacles and the slope of the ground. This vital information ensures the rover doesn't bump anything with its arm or clip large rocks as it rolls along. Curiosity stores all this attitude data in memory, but something went wrong during operations several days ago. As the rover was carrying out its orders, it suddenly lost track of its orientation. The attitude data didn't add up, so Curiosity froze in place to avoid damaging itself. While the rover is physically stuck in place, it's still in communication with the team here on Earth. Since everything else is working on the rover, NASA was able to develop a set of instructions that should get the rover moving again. When transmitted, the data will inform Curiosity of its attitude and confirm its current state. This should allow the rover to recover and keep performing its safety checks. However, NASA also hopes to gather data on what caused the issue in the first place. The hope is they can avoid another freeze-up in the future.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • What the Hell Happened To Mint?
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: Intuit's Mint personal-finance service wants me to know it's sorry. Again. "We're sorry!" its investments page bleats when I try to view my mutual funds' performance. "Our graphs require the latest version of Adobe Flash player." That site has spent years apologizing to me for needing Adobe's vulnerability-riddled plug-in: since I long ago booted Flash from my browser, since Adobe said in 2017 that it would drop Flash by the end of 2020, since Intuit told me in 2018 that Mint would wean itself from Flash "in the coming months."   But that's in keeping with this fossilized financial tool. Mint still provides a valuable service for free in aggregating transaction data from multiple financial institutions to clarify where your money comes and goes -- and in the bargain suggests hopefully-better financial products from advertisers -- but this app exhibits severe symptoms of neglect. It's as if Mint, with 13 million-plus registered users, were a resource-constrained startup instead of a property of Intuit, the Microsoft of personal finance. But more than a decade after the firm behind TurboTax and QuickBooks (and, until 2016, Quicken) bought Mint for $170 million, neatly taking a competitor off the map, this once-groundbreaking app might as well be streaked with cobwebs. The report goes on to note the "updates" category of Mint's blog "reveals no new features since April 2019's revised financial-advice interfaces in the mobile apps it introduced soon after the acquisition."   "It could be doing much more," says Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint. He points in particular to the lack of integration between Mint and TurboTax, saying, "I had a dream that TurboTax would take you about five minutes."   Another explanation for why the personal-finance service has gone neglected is the success of TurboTax, which generates roughly 10 to 20 times the revenue of Mint. Fast Company also notes that Mint "benefits from a lack of serious competition," as Quicken requires an annual subscription and remains desktop-bound, and the free Personal Capital web app is more geared toward investment management.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Trend Micro Set Up a Fake Tech Company and Honeypot To Study Cyber Criminals
    DesScorp writes: In an effort to better understand the latest threats to IT systems, antivirus and security company Trend Micro created a fake tech company, complete with AI-generated photos of fake employees, in order to build a honeypot environment that looked like an actual, working tech factory environment. "Malicious hackers are targeting factories and industrial environments with a wide variety of malware and cyberattacks including ransomware, cryptocurrency miners -- and in some cases they're actively looking to shut down or disrupt systems," reports ZDNet. "All of these incidents were spotted by researchers at cybersecurity company Trend Micro who built a honeypot that mimicked the environment of a real factory. The fake factory featured some common cybersecurity vulnerabilities to make it appealing for hackers to discover and target."   The report adds: "To help make the honeypot as convincing as possible, researchers linked the desktops, networks and servers to a false company they called MeTech and created a website detailing how the manufacturer served clients in high-tech sectors including defense and aerospace -- popular targets for hacking. The website even featured images and bios of people who supposedly worked for the false brand, with headshots generated by artificial intelligence in an effort to make the honeypot look as much like a legitimate company as possible." Trend Micro even leaked details of system vulnerabilities in things like Virtual Network Computing (VNC) access to further lure criminals in. The fake company was attacked by everyone from ransomware actors to cryptocurrency miners, to hackers that did "recon" to look for possible industrial espionage data.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • 'Unauthorized Bread': A Tale of Jailbreaking Refugees Versus IoT Appliances
    Science fiction writer, journalist and longtime Slashdot reader, Cory Doctorow, a.k.a. mouthbeef, writes: My novella "Unauthorized Bread" -- originally published last year in Radicalized from Tor Books -- has just been published on Ars Technica: it's an epic tale of jailbreaking refugees versus the disobedient IoT appliances they're forced to use, and it's being turned into a TV show by The Intercept's parent company and a graphic novel by First Second with help from Jennifer Doyle. Making the story open access was in honor of the book being shortlisted for Canada Reads, Canada's national book award. The story builds on the work I've done with EFF to legalize jailbreaking, including our lawsuit to overturn parts of the DMCA. The story is part of a lineage with a long history of /. interest, starting with my 2002 Salon story 0wnz0red, and it only seemed fitting that I let you know about it!

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Register

 offline for now


  • Radeon RX 5600 XT With New vBIOS Offering Better Linux Performance Following Fix
    Earlier this week AMD launched the Radeon RX 5600 XT and as shown in our Linux launch-day review it offers nice performance up against the GTX 1660 and RTX 2060 graphics cards on Linux with various OpenGL and Vulkan games. Complicating the launch was the last-minute change to the video BIOS to offer better performance, but unfortunately that led to an issue with the Linux driver as well as confusing the public due to the change at launch and some board vendors already shipping the new vBIOS release while others are not yet. Fortunately, a Linux solution is forthcoming and in our tests it is working out and offering better performance.

  • Linux k10temp Driver For AMD CPUs Updated To Better Handle Power/Temp Analysis
    As we have been eagerly talking about for the past week, the Linux kernel's k10temp driver was updated for better AMD CPU CCD temperatures and voltage/current reporting. Those improvements have been quickly evolving thanks to the work of the open-source community with AMD still sadly holding the datasheets concerning the power/temperature registers close to their vest. A new version of k10temp was sent out on Wednesday...

  • Vulkan 1.2 Comes To macOS / iOS Via Updated MoltenVK
    While Apple still isn't officially supporting the Vulkan graphics/compute API in remaining focused on their Metal drivers, MoltenVK at least has been updated for Vulkan 1.2 in allowing developers to target this Vulkan-to-Metal abstraction layer for macOS and iOS...

  • Debian 7 Through Debian Testing Benchmarks With/Without Mitigations
    As part of our many Linux benchmarks in ending out the 2010s we ran tests looking at CentOS 6 through CentOS 8, seven years of Ubuntu Linux performance, and various other Linux distribution benchmarks and testing other important pieces of open-source software over time. One of the additional comparisons now wrapped up is looking at the performance of Debian GNU/Linux going back from the old 7 series through the current 10 stable series and also Debian Testing. Tests where relevant were done out-of-the-box with the default security mitigations and again with mitigations disabled.

  • Wine Is Approaching Six Million Lines
    Given yesterday's release of Wine 5.0 I was curious to run some development stats on Wine Git as of the 5.0 release tag for seeing how development is trending on this wildly popular program among Linux users especially for running Windows games and applications...

Engadget"Engadget RSS Feed"

  • Watch Google's upcoming AirDrop-style file sharing in action

    It's been a while since we've heard anything about Fast Share, Google's upcoming take on AirDrop. But based on a new hands-on video, it looks like you may soon be able to check out the file-sharing feature on your Android phone. Now known as Nearby Sharing, published a report that showed Samsung is working on a feature called Quick Share. Last year, a trio of Chinese phone manufacturers announced they were working on their own file-sharing protocol. However, the benefit of Google's approach is that it would work with any Android phone, instead of a specific make of phone. It's not clear when Google will release Nearby Sharing, but there's a good chance we'll learn about it at the company's upcoming I/O developer conference, which starts on May 12th.

    Via: The Verge

    Source: XDA-Developers

  • Google vows to make Search 'better' after redesign backlash

    Last week, Google upset desktop users when it changed the appearance of Search. The changes were relatively minor, showing companies' favicons next to link previews, but critics argue that the changes cluttered an otherwise clean interface and made it difficult to distinguish ads from search results. Now, Google is backtracking a bit. In a tweet, the company said it is going to "experiment with new placements for favicons."
    Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what's been on mobile for months. We've heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we're going to experiment with new placements for favicons....
    — Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
    Over the coming weeks, Google says, it will continue to test changes. Desktop users will see a variety of favicon placements. It's hard to say at this point what that will look like. It's also unclear how Google will differentiate ads.

    Last year, Google brought the favicons to mobile Search. The goal was to make it more evident where info is coming from. According to the company, the changes have been well received on mobile. Google says early tests for desktop were positive, too, but that the company is "always incorporating feedback from our users." In other words, Google seems to have heard your complaints, and it's working to figure out the best way to redesign its desktop Search.
    Here's our full statement on why we're going to experiment further. Our early tests of the design for desktop were positive. But we appreciate the feedback, the trust people place in Google, and we're dedicating to improving the experience.
    — Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020

  • The best touchscreen winter gloves

    By Nick Guy, Kaitlyn Wells, and Justin Krajeski

    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 touchscreen winter gloves.

    The best touchscreen gloves are ones that can differentiate between "texting" and "textjngZ." And after testing 20 more pairs this year, we think the newly redesigned Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves are some of the best we've seen of the 80 we've tried overall. They're warm enough, accurate, and can fit a wide range of hand sizes.

    Although no pair of touchscreen gloves is going to keep your hands perfectly warm or let you type as well as you would with bare fingers, the Moshi Digits were warmer, fit better, and were more accurate in typing tests than the competition. If you want a good pair of touchscreen liner gloves instead, we have a pick for that. If you want a thinner glove for fall weather or prefer the classic look of leather, we also have picks for those. Do keep in mind, though, that ultimately it may be easier to use voice commands and audio messages, rather than trying to type in even the best of these gloves.

    The snug fit of the Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves's knit design makes typing easier, and the microfleece lining is soft, cozy, and warmer than some of the other gloves we tested. Sure, while you wear them you won't be able to properly compose a tweetstorm about how hot Timothée Chalamet looks in Greta Gerwig'sLittle Women, but you should be able to easily text your friends that you'll meet them "inside the movie theater in 10." We also found that the Moshi Digits dry faster and have a better grip than other knit gloves. The company recently redesigned the glove to lengthen the older version's frustratingly short fingers and fit a wider variety of hand sizes. Because the Moshi gloves have a simpler and more elastic fit than others we tested, it should be easy to determine which of the gloves' three sizes are the right fit for you.

    Sizes: S, M, L

    Colors: light gray (S, M), dark gray (L)

    Materials: acrylic and nylon shell, microfleece lining

    If you're particularly worried about an accurate fit, consider the Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves, which have a stretchy fit that hugs the hand like a second skin and makes typing more accurate than with other gloves we tested. (The difference in ease of typing between the Moshi Digits and the Black Diamond gloves was negligible, though.) The Black Diamond pair's fleece material also blocks wind better than traditional knit fabrics (like that used in the Glider Gloves) and is water-repellent. But these are designed to be liner gloves, so they're not very warm on their own. Unless you're going to be active, you may want to pair the Black Diamonds with an outer glove in extremely cold temperatures and in the snow. The Black Diamond gloves' stretchy material also means sizing is more forgiving than with some other gloves we tested, and the company offers more specific sizing than Moshi (XS to XL, rather than just S to L).

    Sizes: XS to XL

    Color: black

    Materials: fleece shell, goat leather palm

    If you live somewhere with temperatures that rarely drop below 40 °F, you can get away with the less insulated but more accurate Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves. They're the least warm of the gloves we recommend and a little baggy, but you can easily size down for a tighter fit. And they're a good option if you work in a cold office and need something thin for all-day use.

    Sizes: S/M to XL

    Color: black with a mélange pattern

    Materials: acrylic, nylon, spandex, copper yarn

    If you want a pair of fancy leather gloves that will keep you warm through the winter, the Canada Goose Workman Gloves are surprisingly accurate, given their thickness, and they still look stylish. But be prepared to spend a little more. The plush, thick Workman gloves are the warmest pair we recommend, with an exterior of goatskin leather with wool trim and a lining of polyester faux fur. These gloves also have ribbed cuffs to keep cold from reaching your fingertips. Although all of our testers noted their accuracy, the Workman Gloves have touchscreen capabilities only on the index finger. We found them to be surprisingly cozy, but we don't expect them to keep your hands warm when the temperature starts dipping below zero.

    Sizes: S, M, L, XL

    Colors: black

    Materials: goatskin leather, wool trim, polyester faux fur lining

    The Kent Wang Deerskin Gloves have a classic design, a cashmere lining, and above-average touchscreen accuracy. They weren't as warm as the double-layer knit Moshi Digits, but our testers found them to be about as warm as the Black Diamond fleece gloves. Like the Canada Goose Workman Gloves, they're expensive. Because the Kent Wangs are sold in specific sizes and the leather is less stretchy than our knit and fleece recommendations, it may be harder to get a proper fit. If that's the case, you can opt for a custom pair, for $25 more.

    Sizes: 7, 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5

    Colors: black, dark brown

    Materials: calf leather palm, deerskin back, cashmere lining
    Who should buy these
    Regular gloves don't work with the capacitive screens on phones and smartwatches, so if you want to use your device when it's cold out, you'll need to either take off a glove or use gloves that are designed to work with touchscreens.

    Unfortunately, every touchscreen glove we've tested exists on a continuum of "warm but inaccurate" to "cold but good for typing," and no glove was truly good at both. Inaccurate gloves led to incoherent text messages, and thin but accurate gloves left us freezing when we wore them in cold weather. In an era in which voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are increasingly accurate and useful, you may be better off just using a normal glove and talking to your phone instead.

    In our trials, we focused on gloves that existed in that middle ground of the continuum—those suited to when you're out walking the dog or waiting for a train, rather than those designed for Arctic conditions or heavy labor. They'll keep your fingers from freezing while you're brushing the snow off your windscreen, and they will allow you to fire off a quick text or get Google directions.

    Touchscreen gloves also break down quickly—a pair of good touchscreen gloves will last you a full winter or two if you're lucky, because the conductive material that enables touchscreen compatibility wears down over time.
    How we picked and tested
    Over the past five years, we've tested more than 80 pairs of touchscreen gloves. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    We've researched hundreds of gloves over the past five years. In our most recent update, we looked at 47 pairs, tested 20, and panel-tested nine winter gloves with four testers who had various hand sizes and aesthetic preferences. We chose gloves to test based on several factors, including our previous picks, companies with great reputations in outdoor wear, strong owner reviews, availability across major retailers, and a wide variety of styles and fits.

    Heavy-duty gloves aren't great for typing, and the thinnest gloves won't keep your hands much warmer than if you were wearing no gloves at all. So we focused mostly on the middle ground: gloves that would be warm enough to get you through a commute.

    To start the latest update to this guide, I (Justin Krajeski) tested 20 gloves myself. This meant wearing four pairs of gloves each day for a week on my commute, during lunch breaks, and while running errands around New York City in December. After 11 pairs were eliminated, a panel of Wirecutter staffers with very different hand shapes and sizes tested each pair of gloves for accuracy, fit, appearance, comfort, and ease of use (like when you pull a key card from your pocket to enter a building). We tested the nine finalists on the loading dock of our Long Island City office on a day when the weather oscillated between rain and light snow, with the temperature at about 40 °F. While blaring the latest King Princess record, Wirecutter staffers used each set of gloves as they attempted to fill out a survey on their phones, and we used their responses—and typos—to inform our picks.

    In 2018, we tested each glove's durability and drying time. We ran strips of Velcro across each pair 10 times to see how easily the fabric snagged. We also melted crushed ice on each pair of gloves and tracked the drying time. This told us how fast they'd dry after an afternoon snowball fight with the kids or during the commute home on a sleeting day.
    Our pick: Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves
    Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    No pair of touchscreen gloves is going to let you type a message with flawless accuracy and also keep your hands warm for hours on end. But if you need to type when it's cold out, we recommend the Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves. After seven years of testing, these are the best touchscreen winter gloves we've found. They're easier to type in than the competition, they're warm enough to use for your winter commute, and—after a recent redesign to include larger hands—they fit a wide range of hand sizes.

    The typing experience with the Moshi Digits is pretty good. But keep in mind that "pretty good" is like saying "unbelievably great!" in another product category. By comparison, when we asked a tester if the Lululemon Cross Chill Run Gloves were keeping their hands warm, they typed the response: "By A.G. kk. Not a all." The Moshi's knitwear pattern is taut and flexible, which is ideal for dexterity. And the seams are thin on the fingertips, which makes typing more predictable and reliable than with most other knit gloves. All of the fingers have the conductive fiber sewn in (that's what makes it possible to use gloves with a modern touchscreen), so you can type text messages with your thumbs or poke with your pinky.

    Our testers thought typing was easy while wearing the Moshi Digits and filling out a survey on their phones. In our testing in 2018, we found that the gloves' thicker insulation caused testers to have to press down hard on their screens to get a response. But even though the gloves are still double-layer, that complaint seems to have been addressed in the new version of the Moshi Digits. Single-layer gloves, including those from Agloves and, offered more dexterity but were less predictable at typing because the fingertips were too long.

    All of our panelists loved the soft microfleece lining in the Moshi Digits. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    The Moshi Digits were the coziest gloves we tested. Think of them as a combination of that fuzzy scarf Nana made you last year and the winter blanket that your pet hogs on the sofa. The gloves have a knitted exterior, are lined in microfleece, and were the softest and among the warmest gloves we looked at. In our thermal camera testing, it didn't show much difference between them. In previous years' testing, a panelist thought the gloves performed well during high-energy activities, such as shoveling snow, and found they were "plenty warm" for a 15-minute dog walk.

    The Moshi Digits have rubberized grip lines and dots that help keep your phone from slipping out of your hand. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    Although most knitted winter wear can be a pain to dry, the Moshi Digits dried quickly in our tests. It took an hour for these gloves to dry, compared with the six hours that the equally thick Smartwool Cozy Gloves needed. The Moshi Digits's knit construction easily catches on Velcro, and though the snagging didn't tear the glove or do any other real damage, it did lead to general fuzziness.

    Moshi recently redesigned the Digits to lengthen the older version's annoyingly short fingers and transition from just two sizes (S/M and L/XL) to three (S, M, L), which means that they should now work well for a wide variety of hand sizes. When we tested the large Digits with people who had bigger hands, they said the gloves felt good and fit "much better than the medium-sized gloves. Although they were a little tight around my fingers, it was much more manageable." Just keep in mind that Moshi measures hand size from wrist to fingertip, as opposed to palm width, so confirm your size before ordering.
    Runner-up: Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves
    Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    The Black Diamond HeavyWeight ScreenTap Fleece Gloves offer a stretchy fit that hugs your hand and makes it easy and accurate to type. They weren't quite as warm as the Moshi Digits, but their fleece material blocks out wind better than traditional knit fabrics. They'll work best at keeping you warm if you pair them with an outer glove and save solo use for when you're being active. Black Diamond offers a more specific range of sizes than Moshi does. Although that means you're likely to find a more accurate fit for your hand type, it may just be easier to buy one of the simpler elastic options from Moshi.

    Of the gloves we tested, the Black Diamonds were among the most accurate at typing, although the difference in accuracy between the Black Diamonds and the Moshi gloves was negligible. The stretchy fleece material covers your hand nicely and offers good dexterity that makes typing easier. Like the fingers on the Moshi Digits, all of the Black Diamond gloves' fingers are conductive—but it's easiest to type with your index fingers because the fit there is better (the gloves' thumbs were either too long or a little too tight on our testers). Most of the typing mistakes we made with the Black Diamonds were due to seam placement on our fingers, which some panelists felt made typing uncomfortable and less accurate, but most didn't notice.

    The Black Diamond gloves have a patch of goat leather on the palms that makes gripping slippery phones easier. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    Although the gloves are about as decent for typing out texts as the Moshi gloves are, they won't keep your hands very warm. The gloves are from Black Diamond's liner series (meaning you can wear them with an outer glove) and are recommended solo in temperatures from 25 °F to 40 °F. In 2018, they received mixed reviews on how well they insulated during our walk-in fridge testing: Our panelists thought the elastic cuffs did a pretty good job of preventing the 30 degree Fahrenheit air from seeping into the gloves, but their fingertips were still cold. In real-world testing, these gloves kept our hands warm enough for a short dog walk in mid-30s (Fahrenheit) temps—although we don't recommend them for those times you're stuck outside your friend's Bushwick apartment at 9 p.m. in 10 °F weather.

    The manufacturer says these gloves will fight off the cold better when you're active rather than standing still, stating they're "ideal for skiing, trail running or hiking with your smartphone." This is a point commonly made about soft-shell gear: that it will keep you warm enough while you're active, but that you'll need something substantially warmer if you're standing still.

    If you get splashed by a passing vehicle during your morning commute, these gloves will dry out by lunchtime. When we melted crushed ice on the gloves, it took just two hours to air-dry them, thanks to their DWR (durable water-repellent) coating. The Smartwool Cozy Gloves were just as thick, but they took more than six hours to dry.

    Of the gloves we tested, the Black Diamonds fit the most hand shapes and sizes, and they come in sizes from XS to XL. Comparatively, the Moshi Digits come in only three sizes (S, M, L), but their simple, more elastic body means the limited sizing will still fit a wide variety of hand sizes. The Black Diamond gloves' stretchy fleece shell offers just enough give that the gloves were never too loose in the palms nor too snug in the fingers. The stretchiness also made it easy for our testers with long fingernails to move up a size without compromising the overall fit.

    The Black Diamonds are all about function, not fashion. While the soft and fluffy gray Moshi Digits are practically cuddle-worthy, the Black Diamonds are available only in black, and the stretch-knit fleece design reminded one panelist of what thieves wear in heist films. The only branding is a small Black Diamond logo on the back of the hand. A large patch of black leather on the palm makes it easy to grip slippery phones and metal railings. You can also connect the two gloves with a tiny clasp, so they stay together at the bottom of your bag.

    We know from our experience over the past seven years of testing that it's hard to find a good pair of touchscreen winter gloves that are reliably in stock. If you can't find the Moshi Digits or the Black Diamond HeavyWeights, and none of the other gloves that we highlight here appeal to you, consider a different model from the Black Diamond ScreenTap series, like the LightWeight or MidWeight versions. These gloves are thinner, so they're not as warm as the HeavyWeight gloves we recommend (and the HeavyWeights aren't even that warm, so take that into account). But they have the same design, so we're confident they'll provide the same level of dexterity and typing accuracy as the HeavyWeight version.
    A thinner pick for warmer climates: Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves
    Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    The Glider Gloves Urban Style Touchscreen Gloves were our original pick, a few years ago, and we still like them. Their conductivity is great, and because they're thin, they're also very accurate if you get a good fit (we recommend sizing down if your fingers are shorter than average). But they're the thinnest gloves we tested, so they aren't ideal for colder climates.

    Because they're so thin and fit a little baggy, they don't trap body heat as well as our other picks. They're single-layer knitted gloves, so they're less resistant to wind than the Moshi Digits or the Black Diamonds, and they stop being warm enough in the low 40s (Fahrenheit). The manufacturer says the loose fit is normal, and the size guide for the gloves states that the gloves "contain 2% spandex material that will conform to your hand the more you wear it." We long-term tested the gloves and found that they didn't change much in shape, though. (Make sure you reference the company's sizing guide to find the right size before ordering.) The Glider Gloves are interwoven with conductive copper yarn, so the entire glove is touchscreen-compatible.

    The palms on the Glider Gloves feature a silicone cluster of holes for extra grip. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    These gloves are slow to dry if you get them wet—they took five hours to dry during our tests, which was longer than most pairs we reviewed. (The Smartwool Liner Gloves were equally thin and needed just an hour or two to dry.) The Glider Gloves are still a great buy if you live in a more temperate area or venture out into the cold for only short bursts at a time. Their low insulation also makes them a good choice for people who want to wear gloves all day—for example, in a cold office—but need normal dexterity.

    The gloves are available in black with a striped, olive green design (aka a "neutral mélange pattern"). The fingers and palm are covered in a cluster of small silicone, honeycomb-style hexagonal holes to keep slippery devices from falling out of your hands. And the gloves are thin enough to roll into a bundle (like a pair of socks), so you'll spend less time digging through your bag to find them.
    The best leather touchscreen gloves
    Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    Leather touchscreen gloves provide a more formal and refined alternative to the standard knit and fabric options that you see in most stores. Though they're significantly more expensive, they're the way to go if you need an option that's suitable for wearing with a business suit or to a formal event, or if you're searching for a particularly nice gift for someone.

    The Canada Goose Workman Gloves are made from goatskin leather, and their insides are lined with polyester faux fur. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

    If you're looking for a pair of dressy leather gloves that will keep you pretty warm throughout the winter and can be used with a surprising amount of accuracy (considering how heavy they feel), the Canada Goose Workman Gloves are our favorite choice. They're a good (albeit expensive) option for people who want the look and feel of all-leather gloves while maintaining touchscreen compatibility. The Workman Gloves are goatskin leather with wool trim, and their insides are lined with polyester faux fur. Plus, they have ribbed cuffs to keep any cold from reaching your fingertips. Although all of our testers were impressed by their accuracy, the Workman Gloves have touchscreen capabilities only on the index fingers. And though they're the warmest of the gloves we tested, they're still not designed for truly frigid conditions.

    The Kent Wang Deerskin Gloves are lighter-weight for milder winters and look more refined than other, warmer options. Photo: Sarah Kobos
    If you're willing to trade a bit of warmth for a more refined look, we like the classically designed Kent Wang Deerskin Gloves, which are made of calf leather and deerskin. They're cashmere-lined, and even though they're warmer than the Glider or Black Diamond gloves, they're not on the same level as the Moshi or Canada Goose options. And because they're leather and are sold in specific sizes, it's harder to get a proper fit than you would with a softer and stretchier material, like those used in our non-leather picks. But you can opt for a custom pair for $25 more.

    Although the Canada Goose gloves have touchscreen capabilities only on the ends of the index fingers, the entire surface of the Kent Wang gloves is touchscreen-compatible. They were better at typing than the other leather gloves we tested in 2018—though not as good as our other picks. The thick seams along the fingers meant we had to use our finger pads (not the tips or sides, which is a natural position) to type and swipe.

    The Canada Goose gloves were the warmest pair of gloves we tested that remained accurate to type with. While probably not warm enough for below-zero temperatures, they're well suited as an everyday, stylish-looking glove for cold commutes, dog walks, or other regular activities in a New England winter. The Kent Wangs are better suited to the milder seasons of the West Coast and the South, or for dressier occasions like winter weddings or going to the orchestra.

    The Kent Wang gloves' deerskin exterior shed moisture and prevented water stains better than most other leather gloves. If you drop your phone in the snow, you don't have to think twice about water damage to either the Canada Goose Workman Gloves or the Kent Wangs when you pick it up.

    Animal rights advocates have criticized Canada Goose for how it sources both animal fur and goose feathers for its iconic jackets. Neither of these materials is used in these gloves, but some people prefer to avoid the company entirely on ethical grounds.

    Both sets of leather gloves fit our testers' hands well, with a little more give in the knuckles and palms than other leather gloves, which can be too constricting (like the Mujjo and the Nordstrom Cashmere Lined Leather Touchscreen Gloves). This helps with typing dexterity and means you're less likely to take the gloves off in frustration when responding to a quick Slack message or an email. You can buy the Canada Goose Workman Gloves in sizes S to XL. The Kent Wangs are sold in sizes 7 to 10.5, but aren't available in whole sizes after 7 (they go from 7 to 7.5 to 8.5, and so on). If you'd prefer to wear a whole size—or your hands are particularly petite—you can spend an extra $25 for a custom-sized pair.
    A good-enough pair you can go into the store and grab right now because your fingers are freezing
    We tested Target's Wild Fable Women's Tech Touch Gloves and its Goodfellow & Co. Men's Solid Knit Fingerless Tech Touch Gloves for our winter 2019-20 update. We found the Goodfellow & Co. gloves difficult to type in. But Target's Wild Fable Women's Tech Touch Gloves—which are designed as a one-size-fits-all pair of gloves—worked for the men and women in our test panel, regardless of hand size. Our panel agreed that the Wild Fable gloves were comfortable to use and provided some warmth for their fingers, but everyone acknowledged that these gloves wouldn't last for a brisk walk through freezing temperatures. Even so, we found Target's gloves to be totally adequate when you've run out to complete a few errands but forgot your Moshi Digits, and you need to spend a few bucks on a pair of touchscreen gloves so your hands don't fall off your forearms.

    We found Target's gloves to be totally adequate as a last resort. Photo: Michael Murtaugh
    Target frequently adds and removes listings for its gloves, so we can speak with certainty about only the two we tested. But even so, we think that if you're in a pinch, whatever you find in the store will probably be good enough.
    How these gloves work
    Photo: Sarah Kobos
    For a capacitive touchscreen (the technology used in most touch-capable phones, tablets, and computers today) to register that you're interacting with it, you have to poke it with something that conducts electricity, such as a finger or a stylus. Touchscreen gloves are embedded with special materials to achieve the same effect.

    Early attempts at touchscreen gloves used patches of conductive material sewn into the fingertips. Some manufacturers still do this, but gloves made using this method wear out quickly.

    A more common method is to weave conductive thread (typically silver or copper; the two have about the same performance and durability) into the fabric, either just in the fingertips or throughout the glove. The thread conducts electricity from a finger to the tip of the glove covering that finger.

    A third method, used in leather gloves, embeds leather with nanoparticles of silver, which produces full-hand conductivity. This technology is more forgiving of a loose fit than knit gloves with conductive thread, because the leather can conduct electricity from any part of your hand to any fingertip.

    (You can make your existing gloves touchscreen-capable by sewing special thread into them or treating them with special drops. But judging from the cost and reviews of those items, we recommend simply buying a proven pair.)
    The competition2020 update
    The Aegend and TrailHeads running gloves worked poorly with our capacitive touchscreens, and they were thin, so they didn't keep our panelists' hands warm during testing.

    When we tested the Black Diamond LightWeight WoolTech Gloves, we found they were more like windbreakers for your hands than gloves meant to actually protect you from severe—or even mild—winter weather conditions.

    The Burton Men's Touch N Go Glove was baggy, and its poor fit didn't help when it came to typing on our phones.

    When I say that I could not type more than "t fdkf hag" while wearing my Dimore Winter Gloves and that they ripped at the seams when I pulled them over my knuckles, I mean that literally.

    We tested the men's Isotoner Faux Suede and Microfiber Touchscreen Gloves, smartDRI Microfiber Touchscreen Gloves with Berber Spill, and smartDRI Nylon & Fleece Touchscreen Gloves with Gathered Wrist. Although all the gloves from Isotoner were warm, the thumb slots on the Faux Suede and smartDRI Microfiber touchscreen gloves were way too big for my thumbs. This made the typing experience particularly frustrating. Plus, the Faux Suede gloves may be difficult to match with your outfit; plaid is a very specific stylistic choice. The smartDRI Nylon & Fleece gloves didn't have the same issue as the other Isotoner gloves we tested, but they weren't as comfortable as our top picks.

    This is an example of what typing in the L.L.Bean Cresta Wool 250 Liner Gloves looked like. Maybe an alien was speaking through me? Otherwise the L.L.Beans were just terrible to use.
    We tested the L.L.Bean Cresta Wool 250 Liner Gloves in women's and men's sizes. We found that not only were we unable to use the touchpad on our laptops, we were unable to type anything resembling the English language.

    The Lululemon Cross Chill Gloves were not well-received. We found them difficult to type in and not very warm. As Updates writer Jordan Bowman said, "Please skip these at all costs."

    When we tested the Lululemon Resolute Runners Gloves, we ran into similar issues. SEO Content Strategist Lauren L'Amie really liked the look of the gloves. She found the fit snug and the material soft. But once she started using them to type, she turned to me and said: "Help, they are the worst!"

    No one particularly liked the fit of the Mission Workshop The Strasse touchscreen winter gloves. People were divided about the look of the gloves—some thought they looked sleek, while others found them ugly. Half of the testers thought these gloves kept their hands warm, but the other half found this pair left them cold. Everyone agreed that we shouldn't recommend them.

    The Mujjo Insulated Touchscreen Gloves and Double-Insulated Touchscreen Gloves were comfortable and attractive, but they had poor accuracy while typing.
    2018 update
    The fit on the Black Diamond Midweight Softshell Gloves was baggy for all of our testers, and this made typing nearly impossible.

    The Columbia Ascender Softshell Gloves are available only in men's sizes, and our testers thought the soft-shell material crinkled too much. And the fit was tight, which made typing uncomfortable.

    The Columbia Trail Summit Running Gloves (men's and women's) were a strong contender for a cool-weather pick because they fit well and typed with greater accuracy than most thin gloves we tested. But they sold out in the women's sizes during our review, and the touchscreen ability didn't surpass that of our Glider Gloves pick.

    The Columbia Thermarator Fleece Gloves (women's and men's) were thin and lacked a lining, which made them scratchy to wear. The fit was bulky, and only conductive patches on the index finger and thumb pads were usable.

    The Isotoner Women's smartDRI Chevron Shortie Touchscreen Gloves were too tight in the palms and too long in the fingers. The poor fit made typing impossible.

    The Nordstrom Cashmere Lined Leather Touchscreen Gloves are sold in a women's cut, so they fit petite hands better than our Kent Wang pick. But they fit a little tighter, which makes them harder to wear, and they're thinner, so they're not as warm.

    We tested two styles of Smartwool gloves: the Cozy Gloves and the Liner Glove. The touchscreen sensitivity was poor, and they fit baggy on most of our testers.

    We retested a few gloves from the North Face, including the Apex+ Etip and the Commutr. Even with gender-specific sizing available, the fit wasn't ideal. (Our testers who identify as women thought the women's fit was too tight, and the unisex gloves were too boxy.) The arc of the gloves (which the North Face calls "radiametric articulation") left our hands frozen at an uncomfortable angle, and we couldn't flex our fingers. All of this made typing on our devices impossible.
    2014–17 testing
    We tested the following gloves for previous versions of this guide (discontinued models are not listed):

    The Agloves Sport and Polar Sport gloves are thin, and they just don't compare to the Moshi Digits in warmth or quality.

    Burton's Men's AK Tech gloves are a decent soft-shell option, but their fit was poor, and the typing accuracy was abysmal.

    The Glider Gloves Winter Style Touchscreen Gloves were our previous main pick. They offered the best combination of warmth, touchscreen sensitivity, and grip at the time. In 2015, Glider added a longer cuff and an improved conductive mix. But in our tests, the touchscreen sensitivity was worse, not better.

    J.Crew's Wool Smartphone Gloves for men are warm and fit well, but you can activate a touchscreen only with your finger pad. The leather is also slippery, which isn't great when you're holding an expensive smartphone.

    The North Face Etip gloves have clunky conductive panels, and the Denali Etip gloves (men's and women's) fit boxy—both of these things made precise typing almost impossible.

    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.

  • More than 20 attorneys general are trying to ban 3D-printed guns

    The fight over 3D-printed guns has gone back and forth for years. One side wins, the other appeals and so on. Now, 21 US attorneys general are banding together to renew the fight and sue the Trump administration. Their lawsuit, submitted Thursday, challenges new federal regulations that could, once again, allow blueprints for making 3D-printed guns to be posted on the internet.

    The 3D-printed weapons are also known as "ghost guns" because they don't contain registration numbers that could be used to trace them. Opponents fear that if blueprints are shared online, criminals who aren't legally allowed to purchase firearms, might be able to obtain the so-called ghost guns.

    The battle over 3D-printed guns began in 2013, when the Texas-based company Defense Distributed posted blueprints for a 3D-printed pistol. More than 100,000 copies were downloaded before the US State Department stepped in, ruling that Defense Distributed was violating International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

    Defense Distributed countered that it had a First Amendment right to post the blueprints online. For a few years, the case bounced between a Texas district court, a US Court of Appeals (both of which denied Defense Distributed's injunction request) and the Supreme Court (which declined to hear the case). That could have been the end, but in 2018, under the Trump administration, the US State Department and Defense Distributed reached a settlement, which allowed Defense Distributed to continue sharing its firearm files.

    But the debate was far from over. States quickly joined together to sue the Trump administration, arguing that the settlement violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Tenth Amendment. There was a temporary ban on 3D-printed firearms, then an extension. Meanwhile Defense Distributed used a loophole to share the blueprints with private customers. In November, a Seattle judge overturned the settlement between Defense Distributed and the US State Department because it failed to give a proper explanation and thus violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

    Apparently not ready to give up, yesterday, the Trump administration finalized new rules that transfer the regulation of 3D-printed guns from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce. According to a press release shared by New York AG Letitia James, "loopholes in Commerce regulations mean the agency will lack the power to regulate 3D-printed guns in any meaningful way -- effectively allowing their unlimited distribution."

    In the lawsuit filed yesterday, the AGs argue that the new rules are unlawful. At this point, it's hard to say if this legislation will be any more successful than the last.

    The 21 attorneys general involved in the case represent Washington (where the lawsuit was filed) California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

    Via: AP News

    Source: New York Attorney General Letitia James

  • A breath-sensing AR project helps visualize your impact on the world

    What if you could see how your breath affected the world around you? A new immersive production premiering at the Sundance festival today hopes it will make you consider your impact on the environment. It's called Breathe, and features animated glowing particles in augmented reality that you can interact with, set to narration by actress Zazie Beetz.

    To experience Breathe, you'll need to strap on a Magic Leap AR headset, which is hooked up to a breath-detecting sensor. This is the first time such a biometric sensor has been connected to the Magic Leap, according to Breathe director Diego Galafassi. He told Engadget at a recent demo that the idea for the project came about in summer 2018, after he had been in an interview with an anthropologist. "We were talking about air in the atmosphere, and the way in which the air can help us reframe that relationship," he said. "We breathe all the time, of course. But we rarely stop to think about it or perceive our breathing and how that can become perhaps a really interesting portal for us to talk about changes in the atmosphere."

    The project also draws from environmental information like the air quality in the city you're in. So those at the festival in Park City, Utah, will see fewer clusters than I did in New York, for example. Wind direction will also affect the air currents in the experience.

    When you start Breathe, you'll see a cluster of glowing particles in front of you. As you inhale and exhale, they move about. Since my demo used an early version of the experience and the headset didn't have the breath sensor attached yet, I wasn't able to see this for myself. Still, I could swat at placeholder dots in mid-air and watch them disperse.

    The version of Breathe that I watched also lacked the narration by Beetz, so it didn't make much of an impact. But, it did give a rough idea of what viewers can expect, and in its early stages the piece reminded me a lot of Treehugger VR that launched at Tribeca 2017. The earlier work also used glowing spots to demonstrate our relationship with the world around us, and Breathe is meant to do the same.

    "The project is about trying to harness the power and possibilities of new media and AR technologies to establish a different kind of relationship to the natural world and realize how embedded we are in this huge planetary system," Galafassi said. The idea is that if you can immediately see an action as small as drawing a breath change things around you, you might feel more strongly about the consequences of your practices.

    Breathe will be showcased at Sundance, and move on to a residency at the Phi Centre in Montreal for a few months after that. Galafassi said his team is in talks with various institutes in the US and Europe to display the experience, so you might get a chance to check it out soon.

  • I am my own spy: A personal surveillance story

    One of the first webcams I purchased was a Dropcam several years ago. We'd had a couple of package thefts, and I wanted to see if I could catch the perpetrator in the act. I positioned the camera at our front window, with the lens pointed at the steps leading up to the front door. Alas, I never did catch anyone because we never had any more package thefts. Maybe they were scared off by the presence of a camera, or maybe they realized their folly when one of the packages they'd stolen was simply a bag of cat litter.

    That was my first experience with internet-connected cameras, but it wouldn't be my last. Over the years, I acquired other cameras: an Amazon CloudCam to keep an eye on our cat and the Nest Hello video doorbell as it was a more sensible upgrade over my jerry-rigged Dropcam (plus I could use it to see who was at my front door without leaving the couch). The latest addition to the collection is the Google Nest Hub Max, as that can double as a Nest Cam as well, giving me yet another vantage point into my living room. But while people often purchase these webcams for security purposes, I found that I was inadvertently using them to feed my inner voyeur.

    This wasn't my intention, of course. As I mentioned, I initially got the CloudCam to monitor our cat when we were away. I positioned the camera on a bookshelf in the living room to get as wide a view as possible, as our cat often lazed on the couch or slept on a cat tree by the window. As I was in the office, I would get the occasional alert that the camera noticed something moving, and I'd open the app to see her rolling about in the sun or simply waiting for us to come home. It seems silly perhaps, but the sight of her made me happy. It gave me peace of mind that she was okay.

    But it took a turn for the weird when one day, when I was in Las Vegas for work, I received a notification that the camera had detected something. I instinctively launched the app and saw that it was actually my husband who triggered it. He had just come home and appeared to be at his computer. It seems that I had forgotten to turn the camera off when I left for the airport.

    I could've just shut off the app right then and there. But I didn't. I was away in a different city, and I was missing him so much that seeing him even on a security cam brought me a strange sort of joy. So, I lingered. Thanks to the microphone on the camera, I knew he was watching YouTube videos. Then, a few minutes later, I heard him switch over from watching YouTube to playing Overwatch. Without really meaning to do so, I was spying on him.
    If that sounds kind of creepy, well, it is.
    Despite a twinge of guilt, I brushed it off as a one-time occurrence. It was just for a few minutes after all, and it wasn't like I meant to do so. But as the week wore on, I found myself checking in on the camera every so often, just to see what he was up to. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then internet-connected spy cameras apparently fill it with guilt-tinged longing.

    If that sounds kind of creepy, well, it is. I'll admit it. I'm not even the jealous sort of spouse, and it's not like me at all to be checking up on what my husband is doing in his spare time. I would never do this at all if I were back home. But there was just something about being away from home for an extended period that made me give into voyeurism despite a guilty conscience.

    This made me realize just how voyeuristic I've become since that initial Dropcam purchase. Thanks to the Nest Hello video doorbell, for example, I know the comings and goings of not just my husband (he's well aware of that, of course; he uses it, too), but also the people in the neighborhood. I know that every week, an old stranger comes by to root through our recycling bin. I know the time of day the neighbor's kids like to skateboard down the sidewalk. Once, I even inadvertently overheard an entire conversation some strangers had by our front steps.

    That's perhaps not quite as egregious as peeking in on my own family as they're at least out in the open, but at the same time, they also don't know they're being watched. It struck me that these cameras, which are ostensibly meant for security purposes, have also inadvertently helped me create my own little surveillance state. Sure, I got them just to catch package thieves and keep an eye on the cats, but it then led to me knowing a little too much about the lives of neighbors, passers-by and, yes, my own family.

  • Fortnite Chapter 2's next season will start on February 20th

    Epic Games has at last set a start date for focus on holiday updates, but now says the season won't start until even later. The developer didn't offer much insight on what Season 2 has in store, but noted there'll be more overtime challenges and a two-week event before it kicks off.

    Meanwhile, a major update is on the way early next month that will overhaul the physics engine (perhaps another reason why it pushed back Season 2). Epic expects that there'll be some hiccups as it transitions to Unreal Engine's Chaos system, so it's running tests with a small group of players and will refine everything in due course. The Chaos engine could make environmental damage much more detailed and interactive.
    v11.50 will feature Unreal Engine's Chaos physics engine, which can allow for stuff such as what you see in this image to happen in Fortnite!
    — FireMonkey • Fortnite Intel 🎄 (@iFireMonkey) January 24, 2020
    Source: Epic Games

  • Craig Kaths' intricate synth sculptures look real enough to play

    Recently, I spent the afternoon traipsing through the streets of Brooklyn for Gowanus' annual open art studios tour. It's a yearly ritual for me because the industrial neighborhood, which is full of warehouses turned CrossFit gyms, is a veritable playground for creative types. Every abandoned-looking building opens its doors to reveal dozens of artists' studios.

    After glazing over hundreds of paintings and vases, I came across a room full of intricate musical instruments and machines, all painstakingly crafted of wood. And I don't mean acoustic guitars. No, here were guitar pedals, MPCs, pianos and more, all with knobs, cords and plugs that looked real enough to find at Main Drag Music.

    The cords in particular looked like I could easily bend them with my bare hands or, more likely, with my feet as I tripped over them. I imagined some poor sucker spending thousands of hours whittling each one with a knife while listening to Four Tet on high. The machines didn't actually work, but the rigorous detail made each of them mesmerizing.

    Artist Craig Kaths said he's been using power tools since he was 10 years old as well as playing guitar and DJing for almost as long. "The main drive that makes me make work is definitely music and sound," the blonde, boyish thirty-something explained. "But they're definitely not just that." To him the sculptures reference not only musical electronics but also the labor involved in creating art. "My work is about the physicality of work," he said, adding that "it's an easy way to connect to people -- to be able to show [you put] time and effort into something."

    Take Chuck Close drawings, for example, Kaths said. From far away, each looks something like a photograph -- i.e., one piece of art. But if you look closer (pun intended), each tiny panel is its own painting, which even the least artistic among us knows takes a long time to make.

    Kaths is no stranger to strenuous processes: Though he started out as a painter, he's worked at art fabrication shops for almost a decade. That includes a stint with Takashi Murakami, where he assisted the famous artist in screenprinting the base layers of his superflats and then carefully painting over each section. "It doesn't sound like much," Kaths said. "But this is super labor intensive: A four-inch-by-four-inch canvas would take about 10 days to prep before it was ready to be painted on."
    Craig Kaths

    In 2015, while managing projects at an art gallery in New York (i.e., mainly working at a computer all day), he started itching to do something with his hands again. That was right around the time famed artist Roxy Paine premiered Carcass, his fast-food restaurant made entirely of birch wood, including all the fryers, computers and everything else you'd find in a McDonalds or Burger King. Then there's Paine's Checkpoint piece: a life-size, wooden diorama of a TSA checkpoint.

    Inspired by Paine's installations, Kaths decided to try woodworking himself, combining it with music for a unique take. The first one was a wooden version of a guitar pedal connected to cords, which looked like they were coming straight from the wall. From there, Kaths let his imagination take over, creating fantastical machines only loosely based on real-life models. "The pieces I make reference real things," he explained, like pianos and keyboards, but with a twist. For example, one keyboard looks like a Fender Rhodes or Wurlitzer -- until you notice a few important details, namely that the sharp and flat keys aren't in the right places. Kaths said he wants musicians, carpenters and other experts as well as laypeople to notice the differences.

    So what kind of machines does one use to make wooden machines?

    Kaths said he originally tried to chisel the wood to look like plugs and other electronics, then realized his work about work didn't need to be that laborious. Now he's hacked together a less painful process. He creates the plugs, knobs and other detail work using a router on a micro lathe he built after watching a YouTube video. He uses an XY plotter from Makeblock fitted with a laser engraver to design and burn knob-level markings, design indicator marks and other patterns on to his sculptures to make them look more like real-life music equipment and other types of machines. Kaths also experiments with the XY plotter as more of an instrument of artistic expression, using the laser to create "paintings" by strategically burning paper and gesso (a white paint mixture designed to prep a surface).

    Makeblock sells the plotter as if it were a children's toy, but he had to put it together himself and learn G-code to use it. "You can put a pencil, a pen, anything, and the thing will hold it like a paintbrush," he said. Meanwhile, to create the cords for his wooden sculptures, he soaks about 100 wooden dowels at a time in water for two weeks, then steaming them for a couple hours until they're "like a spaghetti noodle." Finally, he bends and shapes them until they look convincingly like the cords tangled behind my TV, though with less dust and dog fur. (He said this method has a 70 percent success rate.)

    A decade ago, Kaths would have been able to bend the dowels and use the lathe easily, but laser cutting? Forget about it. The technology has only been around since the 1960s, and Kaths would have had to seek out an expert to use an expensive laser-cutting machine. "Over the past 20 years or so, the technology has significantly become more affordable as patents have expired," said Scott Van Campen, the executive director of Makerspace NYC. He estimates that the tools cost as little as one-fourth of their former price. That's "allowed people to literally have high-tech machines on their kitchen tables. Three-dimensional printers, laser cutters, plotters and CNC routers all basically use the same technology to control the movements of the 'tool' of choice."

    Using these machines, Kaths estimated that one wooden artwork takes approximately one month to make (he has always worked a day job, but nights and weekends are devoted to his art practice).
    Craig Kaths

    Now, after spending the past few years perfecting the practical side of working with wood and exploring the ideas of process and creation in his work, he's expanding to other themes. Kaths' latest sculptures looks less like something you'd buy at Guitar Center and more like an installation at a cool gallery in Chelsea.

    Take his piece Everything Is Purple, which showed at Tempus Project in Florida in winter 2018. It consists of 50 connected wooden cords twisting and turning from an attachment on one wall across the floor to an attachment on the opposite wall. Kaths being Kaths, Everything Is Purple alludes to the hip-hop song. But he said the "mess" of the cords refers to "how much of a mess we are all in due to our current political climate." It also refers to "how we can all come together as one," in that if you combine blue and red, you get purple. "We're all connected," he said.

  • My quest to fix my terrible home WiFi

    When I was young -- in high school or so -- my sister and I had a system worked out. Our Comcast cable internet service routinely seemed to flake out, so she and I would take turns running downstairs to the router, unplugging it, waiting for what felt like the most torturous 30 seconds possible and plugging the router back in. It was obnoxious enough back then, but now that our respective homes are filled with even more hardware clamoring for internet connections, the idea of half-assing a home network seems even tougher to endure. And yet, that's exactly what I've been doing, even now.

    Ever since I moved into a Brooklyn duplex, I've struggled to blanket my space in consistent, speedy signal. Alright, fine, "struggled" might not be the right word -- I've mostly just muddled along with the far-from-great router provided by my ISP, lamenting that the furthest-flung corners of my home weren't much more than WiFi deserts. Maybe that sounds familiar. If it does, I feel you, but don't worry: We can do better. Even relatively modest investments will get your home network running better than it would with some of the stuff your ISP can offer you, and with a lot less fuss than you might think.

    The goal: To cover every inch of my duplex with solid WiFi signal and improve my download speeds whenever possible. Throughout my testing, I ran speed tests in three locations:
    The kitchen, which bleeds directly into my living room. Where I probably spend the most time. Approximately 15 feet from the existing router's location. My bedroom. Approximately 15 to 20 feet from the existing router, but with more walls (and obviously a door) in the way. The basement. I've long dreamed of turning this into an office or a photo studio or something, but my existing router can't even hope to reach the furthest corners. There's also quite a lot of flooring and pipes between the router and the basement's open space.
    When I started all this, my Optimum-provided router was set to generate separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. Take a look at these baseline speeds (average of three trials, expressed in download speed/upload speed):
    Kitchen Bedroom Basement JerseyShore_2.4GHz 54.9/26 21.3/27 8.1/1.93 JerseyShore_5G 318.41/38.79 274/40 56/14 Brute force
    At first, I thought splurging on a single super-powerful router might be enough to blast WiFi signal all over the place. For my initial tests, I turned to the venerable Netgear Nighthawk X10, a $390 inverted plastic spider that promised insane speeds thanks to its support for the 802.11ad standard. The problem is, hardly anything on the market right now also supports that standard, so its utility is mostly limited to future-proofing.

    Since this is a Netgear router we're talking about, it's probably not much of a surprise to hear the setup process feels positively old-school. Once you've connected the Nighthawk to power and your modem, the rest of the config happens in a web browser, and it was around this point that my faith began to falter. The interface just chugs, to the point where I wondered if Netgear sent me a bum router. Nope: That's just how it works. Once my setup was (finally) complete, I indeed found it made for better upload and download speeds than my ISP's router. Then again, for nearly $400, anything less would've been a huge disappointment.
    Kitchen Bedroom Basement JerseyShore_2.4GHz 131.3/38 126.81/35 27.2/6.89 JerseyShore_5G 325.27/39 308.11/36 88.2/23.1
    It does pack a few interesting extras, like built-in support for backups to Amazon Drive and Plex, though the latter thing is notoriously flaky. All told, the Nighthawk does work well, but I really just want to make sure I have a fast wireless network that doesn't crumble under the load of multiple machines thrumming away at once. We can do better.
    UniFi Dream Machine to test instead of one of its more accessible AmpliFi router setups. Turns out, they knew exactly what they were doing, because the Dream Machine quickly became one of my favorite options.

    The first thing you notice upon plugging in the Dream Machine is the noise -- it's not unlike the sound of a small PC booting up, because that's basically what it is. More reasonably priced routers usually pack the minimum specs required to get the job done, but with its 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, the Dream Machine can handle some seriously granular feats of network management, nearly all of which were overkill for the task at hand.

    Despite that, actually setting up the UDM was pretty painless. Rather than direct me to a web interface to create a network and manage settings, nearly all of the heavy lifting happens in an iOS or Android app, which got me up and running in less than 20 minutes. (At least five minutes were eaten up by a software update immediately post-install.) Curiously, it was set to output just a single WiFi network, but that wound up working just fine.

    Once all that was done, the app provides an overall connection score to measure the network's quality, and I never saw it dip below 96 percent. Beyond that, the slew of statistics and tools available from the app proved pretty astonishing -- I could see how many devices were tapping into the network at once, but also inspect which apps were chewing up the most bandwidth. Hell, I could even set up a Starbucks-esque captive portal asking guests to agree to buy me a bottle of wine in exchange for internet access. Sounds pretty fair to me.

    Turns out, the Dream Machine had one more surprise in store: Even by itself, the router yielded noticeable improvements in network range and download speeds through my home.
    Kitchen Bedroom Basement JerseyShore 358/42 296/41.2 98/41
    Now we're getting somewhere. At this point, we're starting to get close to the 400 Mbps down speed cap I'm working with, but there's still room for improvement when it comes to blanketing that basement. A single router wasn't going to do the job, so it was time to try something different.
    Nest WiFi, an updated version of the company's existing mesh router system. A single router module costs just $129, but what made more sense for my strange, split-level situation was the next tier up on the Nest WiFi hierarchy, a $269 package that includes the router and a single additional WiFi point.

    Setting up the Nest WiFi and its range extender was easier than I'd expected; if you've ever breezed through a Google Home or Home mini installation, you know exactly what to expect. All told, it took less than twenty minutes from the moment I unboxed everything to plug in the new router, run downstairs, set up the range extender and install a software update. The connection between the basement-dwelling WiFi point and the host router happened in moments and was surprisingly palatable thanks to all the bouncy animations and reassuring messages the Google Home app fed me. And the speeds? Well, they're more than enough to satisfy.

    This new WiFi network isn't as downright fast as the one I built using my original router, but it offered more consistent speeds through my home -- speed tests in my bedroom were just about as fast as ones I conducted in my kitchen, which sits in line of sight of the Nest router. The real show was going on in the basement, though. What was once a WiFi wasteland was now flush with signal; download speeds in even the furthest corners of the basement were three times faster than on my old router's 5GHz network, and upload speeds were just as solid as they were upstairs.
    Kitchen Bedroom Basement JerseyShore 248/42 253/42 175/39
    Even better, the range extender doubles as a Google Home speaker, which helps take some of the sting out of the additional $120 it costs. I was going to have to put some kind of smart speaker down there at some point, and having one bit of hardware doing multiple jobs is more convenient than I saw coming.

    I will say, though, that embracing Google's vision of WiFi does take some getting used to, especially if you've spent any serious time poking around in your router's settings. There are no options to create separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, or for port-forwarding or even for viewing router settings in a web browser. Instead, everything goes through the Google Home app, which has a handful of features, like the ability to set up nuanced parental controls and create networks specifically for guests.

    If you're setting up a WiFi network from scratch, Google's opacity means the process is refreshingly simple. Ditto if you're replacing an existing router that you only ever used to generate one wireless network. My problem was, over the two years I've lived here, I set devices that needed the most speed to connect to a 5GHz network and relegated the rest to a 2.4GHz network. Because the Nest WiFi doesn't separate those bands, I had to go back to those 5GHz devices and set them to run on the Nest's single network instead. Once that was done though -- and it really didn't take that long -- all of my gadgets thrived on that improved network.
    currently on sale at $69), they're fairly affordable by mesh standards, and they're supposedly very easy to setup.

    I can vouch for the latter -- Amazon and Eero claim it'll take no more than 10 minutes to get up and running, and that was certainly true of the first Eero node I installed. (Since I added more nodes in my bedroom and basement, the total setup time was closer to 20 minutes, which still isn't bad.) Even better, the Eero app you need to complete the setup process walks through a few crucial steps that other mesh systems I tested didn't.

    Ideally, you don't want one of your mesh nodes sitting on a windowsill or pressed up against a wall -- that can impede your signal strength dramatically. Eero is smart enough to remind you of that and run brief performance tests as you're setting up nodes in different rooms to make sure it's able to communicate clearly with other nodes and forge strong connections with the rest of your hardware. When it comes to simple, thoughtful setup, Eero is well ahead of the pack.
    Kitchen Bedroom Basement JerseyShore 270/41 256/39 96/21
    Unfortunately, that simplistic setup is easily the best thing about using an Eero network. As I write this, I'm sitting in my basement directly in front of my third Eero node -- you'd think that the computer I'm typing on would connect to the access point next to it, right? Yeah, no -- for whatever reason, this PC would much rather connect to an access point in the hallway directly above me. I'm not the only one to have trouble getting certain devices to connect to the Eero point, either. There's a pretty long discussion to be had about whether this is because of a shortcoming on Amazon/Eero's part, or if Windows 10 is making a bad call about what router it should be connecting to, but it almost doesn't matter since I can't -- for example -- force a device to connect to a specific Eero.

    Because of that, my download speeds in my basement were less than half of what they were while using either the Nest WiFi or the Dream Machine. No thanks.
    Buy Eero Mesh Router on Amazon - $69Buy Mesh WiFi System on Amazon - $174Wrap-up
    Chances are, you're not going to face the exact same WiFi woes I did, but the lessons I picked up along the way are pretty broadly applicable. Ditch your ISP's router. Lean on a mesh network system if you're trying to network something bigger than a small apartment. Trust me, it's worth it.

    With all that said, there's one last question to tackle: Which of these WiFi systems would I actually drop a couple hundred bucks on? As I started putting this story together, my heart belonged to the Nest WiFi -- at the time, it offered what felt like the best blend of simplicity, network performance and utility. (Mine is already a Google Assistant-heavy home, so not having to buy an extra Nest Hub or something for my basement was a nifty bonus.) Even now, the Nest WiFi is still my pick for anyone looking to lay a great foundation for a smart home -- it's excellent at what it does and gives you access to a reliable voice assistant, too.

    At the end of it all, though, I have to go with Ubiquiti's Dream Machine. It's pricey and lacks some of the creature comforts that the Nest WiFi does, but it's noticeably faster and offers plenty of networking meat to dig into. I didn't even realize I wanted to get more acquainted with that stuff before I started this project, and while I don't harbor any ambitions of playing home sysadmin, the Dream Machine is fantastic for people who want to create rock-solid WiFi networks and learn a few new tricks along the way.

  • Sega's new app lets you remotely win prizes from a real claw machine in Japan

    If you've ever wanted to play around on a claw machine without all the hassle of leaving your house -- or even standing up -- technology has come through for you. Sega has launched a new mobile apps, Sega Catcher Online, that lets you do exactly that: play on a real life claw machine (also known as UFO catchers) via a video feed on your phone. Also, the machine is literally located in Japan, and if you win something it'll be delivered to you free of charge -- but that doesn't mean you don't have to pay to win.

    Prizes include plushies, pillows, towels and other anime-based collectables, and a go on the machine costs between 100 and 200 Sega Points -- 130 points will cost you two bucks, although you can buy more at a discount (you can practice for free). You can also earn points for other activities, such as logging in regularly, linking your phone and so on. According to Sega, it'll take around a week for your hard-won bounty (because let's be honest, it's never as easy as it looks) to be delivered to the US. You can get one delivery for free each week, or pay for extra deliveries with in-game currency.

    It's not a completely novel idea -- the very similar Akiba Catcher has been around for a while, for example. But with Sega's branding, and the fact it's available to play outside Japan, it's an idea that could become a bit more mainstream. The freemium title came to PC and Mac last year, but launches on iOS and Android devices in the US today.

    Via: Polygon

    Source: Sega Catcher

  • Beats Solo Pro headphones are back to their lowest price on Amazon

    Amazon is currently offering two Beats Pro models with a decent price cut, so if you're in the market for new ear gear now is the time to act. First up, the Beats Solo Pro Wireless Headphones are available in all colors for $250 -- that's $50 off the usual price, and the second time we've seen them at this all-time low. We scored them 81 -- if you can deal with the lack of a 3.5mm jack, you'll get your money's worth in terms of excellent sound and a hands-free Siri.
    our opinion, the best-sounding Best headphones yet. Prices for these have been up and down in recent times, but they're now on offer now for $200 shipped -- another $50 off the original price tag. The large charging case is a bit of a burden for these headphones, but the payoff is a massive battery life -- and the ambidextrous controls are a huge boon to busy multitaskers.

    Source: Amazon

  • How Weber used decades of expertise to improve smart grilling

    The Weber Kettle is arguably the most iconic grill of all time.

    There are other companies that have made a name for themselves with novel designs and features. But when you think about charcoal grills, I'll bet the kettle shape Weber pioneered comes to mind. I would argue that overall design is timeless. Invented by George Stephen in 1952, the first model was inspired by the shape of a buoy. Stephen worked at Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago at the time -- where the company gets its name (which technically is Weber-Stephen). Stephen discovered that a rounded bowl and a removable lid could drastically improve grill performance. So he cut the top off of a buoy, attached legs to the bottom and a handle on the top. The Weber Kettle was born.

    Since its inception, Weber redesigned and tweaked what are considered "normal" grill features to increase efficiency or to simply make cooking easier. For example, the company's Flavorizer Bars not only help direct grease and moisture away from burners on gas grills, but they also enhance flavor by producing smoke from said drippings.

    In 2020, Weber is bringing nearly 70 years of grilling know-how to an increasingly popular product category: pellet grills.

    If you're unfamiliar, these cooking devices use compressed hardwood pellets as their primary fuel source. Pellets come in a variety of woods -- hickory, oak, pecan, cherry, etc. -- and basically look like rabbit food. The benefit is they're much easier to store and require a lot less attention than shoveling coals during the cooking process. Pellet grills are electric, with a fire pot or heating element inside that ignites the tiny pieces of wood.

    More recent (and more expensive) models offer WiFi and/or Bluetooth connectivity so you can monitor and control your grill remotely. This sounds like overkill, but I assure you it's not. The addition of WiFi means you don't have to physically walk to your grill to check the status of your 12-hour brisket cook. And during the winter months, that's a huge perk. Plus, if you need to run to the store for supplies, you can do so. Let's be honest: We'd all rather keep it parked on the couch than have to manually monitor the grill every hour or so.

    Currently, the pellet grill industry is dominated by the likes of Traeger, Pit Boss, Camp Chef, Green Mountain Grills and others. Traeger is probably the best-known of the bunch, partially due to its massive marketing machine. The company's original founder (who sold it and now works for Pit Boss' parent company, Dansons), Joe Traeger, invented the pellet grill. Even though the Traeger family is no longer affiliated with the company, the legacy remains. The company first brought WiFi connectivity to its lineup with the Timberline in 2018 before expanding the smart grilling tools to all of its 2019 models. Traeger isn't the only company to offer WiFi on a pellet grill, it's just one of the more popular ones.

    "The revolution in charcoal grilling with the Weber Kettle completely changed and transformed grilling industry back in the '50s," Weber CEO Chris Scherzinger explained. "The exact same thing happened when Weber introduced its first gas grill in the '90s. We believe that SmokeFire revolutionizes pellet grills."

    That sounds like what you'd expect to hear from the chief executive of a company in the middle of a massive product launch, but I don't think Scherzinger is overstating things. Especially when you consider how Weber designed its latest grills.

    Weber is admittedly a late entry into the pellet-grill game. It did its homework, however, and rather than simply put out a line of pellet grills with the Weber logo on them, it brought its wealth of grill knowledge to the table. It also listened to pellet-grill users, collecting info on what they did and didn't like about using these machines.

    "We developed from the ground up with a white sheet of paper a completely new approach to the pellet grill designs," Scherzinger continued.

    The first area Weber tackled on SmokeFire was the actual cooking process. In order to convince people to invest at least $999 on a grill, it has to be versatile enough to cook everything well. The company discovered that most existing pellet grills max out at around 400-450 degrees, despite claims of 500 or higher. This is fine for a lot of high-temp uses like roasting or even pizza, but for a true quick sear, you need a grill to get hotter. Weber devised a solution for SmokeFire that ensures temperatures of up to 600 degrees.

    "You can get a steak that doesn't look like it was baked in an oven, but one that looks like it was grilled on a Weber grill." Scherzinger said. "We sought to make this grill the first pellet grill that can really be a grill." In other words, instead of offering both low-and-slow barbeque-style cooking alongside a higher temperature range, Weber wanted true searing ability -- whether you're cooking burgers, steaks or something else.

    Next was grill performance. Those Flavorizer Bars not only protect a grill's heating element and enhance flavor, but they also help evenly distribute heat. Most pellet grills have a solid sheet of metal that protects the fire pot and directs grease to a collection container underneath or on the side. That large element also helps keep ash from flying up on your food. Weber chose to bring a battle-tested element of its gas grills to its pellet model, rather than include one large piece of steel. And by doing so, the company also made a much less sexy task -- cleanup -- a lot easier.

    That piece of metal in most pellet grills has to be protected, otherwise it will rust quickly if you're not careful. Grill makers offer aluminum liners to help with this, or you can simply wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil. Either way, it's extra work, and extra cost. With the Flavorizer Bars, you don't need a cover, and they're much easier to remove and handle.

    But that's just one piece of the grill. In order to clean most pellet models, you have to completely remove everything from the inside. When you count the grates and other protective pieces, we're talking six or more items. Then you have to break out the shop vac. Yes, most companies advise you to clean out the ash and dust that accumulates during the cook with a vacuum. It's fine if you already have one, but if you don't, that's an additional purchase on top of a pricey grill. Either way, the the cleanup process is awful, and you need to do it after every third or fourth cook to keep your grill running smoothly and safely. And, most importantly, to keep ash out of your food. Trust me, I'm speaking from experience: It's the worst thing about these grills.

    Weber realized this wasn't a great experience, so it did something about it.

    "We developed a different design in our engine, and in our shields and filters, inside the grill box that prevents the ash from flying up and landing on top of the food," Scherzinger noted. "All of the ash lands in the drawer." That drawer is a slide-out compartment that's easily accessible from the front of the grill. Here, both ash and grease collect for easy removal. Sure, you'll want to take the SmokeFire's internal components apart and give it a deep clean from time to time, but if what Weber claims is true, you won't have to do it nearly as often. That's a welcome change.

    The company also opted to put the pellet hopper around back. This isn't a novel decision -- some other grill makers have done the same -- but that location does provide its advantages. There's less potential for an auger jam since the setup is now partially gravity-fed. The auger is a drill-like spiral that moves the pellets from the hopper to the fire pot. When the hopper is on the side of a grill, the auger path is longer, so there's more space for something to go wrong.

    Where most companies offer one or maybe two food probes, Weber has opted for four. This isn't unique to SmokeFire, either, but the ability to monitor that many things simultaneously isn't a common feature on these grills.

    "We increased the number of probes to add a level of versatility," Melanie Hill, Weber's director of IoT, explained. "Let's say you're grilling for a large party and someone wants medium rare, someone wants rare and someone wants a well-done steak. You have the option to have up to four probes."

    Weber has a proven track record with connectivity. In 2016, Weber-Stephen acquired iGrill from iDevices, a line of connected thermometers that allow you to monitor food temperatures on your phone from Bluetooth range. The company would develop the iGrill 3, a similar device designed specifically for use with its gas grills. The only issue is you had a limited range to venture from the grill before you lost contact with the device. iGrill is still helpful if you needed to step away and can help you avoid overcooking an expensive steak, but the nature of the connectivity restricts the available features.

    "We layered on top of [our design] the technology development that we've been doing, transforming from just a hardware company to a hardware and software company," Scherzinger said.

    On the software side, Weber isn't forging its path alone. The Weber Connect app that powers the smart features for both the SmokeFire grills and the Smart Grilling Hub runs on JuneOS, the software that powers the June smart oven. Basically, the same algorithms and software that help you cook food perfectly with a small appliance are doing the same with Weber's new hardware. Powerful features like step-by-step guidance and estimated completion times are important additions to backyard grilling and smoking for cooks of all skill levels.

    "The draw of the JuneOS is its way of using algorithms and artificial intelligence along with the predictive quality of cooking," Hill said. "We basically mirrored that from a grilling perspective and worked hand in hand with them over the past 12 months as we developed the product."

    Weber and June development teams test early product prototypes for Weber Connect and the SmokeFire grill
    It's also about education, providing the tools necessary to make grillers confident in their ability, even if they lack experience. In fact, the Weber Connect app will be available in 30 languages at launch. The display on the SmokeFire grills will offer that language support as well.

    "We decided to push the envelope with Weber Connect to not just tell you when the meat is done, but literally guide you through the whole process," Hill said. She went on to say Weber made it a priority that Connect was simple, easy to use and "kind of fail-proof."

    Sure, companies like Traeger allow you to send recipe information from their app to the grill over WiFi, but the process doesn't involve the specifics that Weber and June serve up. Inside Weber Connect, you're always aware of the next step, how long until you need to complete it and more. It goes well beyond simply having your grill adjust temperature or remind you what step you're on. Weber's spin on smart grilling provides details and, more importantly, time information, so you're aware of what's coming without having to flip back to the full recipe page and read the steps for the 100th time.

    Hill explained that Weber also put a major emphasis on the quality of the visuals in the app. We live in the Pinterest and Instagram age after all, so a cooking app doesn't just need to have the information, it also has to look good. She said it was a top priority that the photos and videos that guide you in Weber Connect be on the same level as what you'd find in the company's cookbooks.

    It's not just about guiding novices though. Weber Connect is a great tool for experienced cooks too. The app gives you the ability to manually use presets for specific temperatures, so if you've done a brisket before and you know the temperature at which you like to wrap, for example, you can do things on your own. Ditto for setting a completion temp on your favorite cuts.

    "There's a lot of cool things that you can do interacting with an app that really allows you to make your own programs and ultimately cook food better," Weber's head grill master, Kevin Kolman, explained. Even semi-pros will appreciate tools like the estimated completion times, since every pork shoulder or brisket is different, and the duration of the cook can vary based on things like fat content and other factors.

    While pellet grills are certainly popular devices, the more compelling Weber Connect hardware is the Smart Grilling Hub. Announced at CES, this compact unit gives you all the benefits of Weber's powerful new software for the grill or smoker you probably already own. It too accommodates four probes, and you can use one of them to monitor ambient grill temperature in addition to keeping track of your food. WiFi and Bluetooth are on board, and unlike similar devices that run on batteries you have to replace, the Hub is rechargeable.

    It's also only $130. Similar products, like ThermoWorks Signals, can cost over $200. And while they offer Bluetooth and WiFi, the software component isn't nearly as robust. Essentially, the Smart Grilling Hub gives anyone the chance to use Weber's advanced connected grilling tools without having to drop at least $999 on a new grill. Plus, this hardware is a lot more portable. If you need to cook elsewhere, you can take your high-tech sous chef with you.

    A thousand dollars is a lot to spend on a new grill, especially when you can do a lot on a kettle-style grillfor a fraction of that cost. The trade-off, naturally, is manual labor and ease of use. Weber's SmokeFire grills are competitively priced though, parked in between Traeger's Pro Series and Ironwood -- that company's entry and mid-range models. Yet, the SmokeFire has a feature set that's more in line with Traeger's premium Timberline series, despite Weber's 24- and 36-inch models being priced several hundred dollars cheaper at $999 and $1,199, respectively. There are other, cheaper options that still get you WiFi, like Camp Chef's Woodwind grills, but Weber is banking on the fact its powerful app and design choices will entice you.

    The implications of SmokeFire and Weber Connect reach beyond simply an iconic grill company getting in on the hot new trend. The cleaning process is in dire need of help, and, if what Weber says is true, it has devised a way to relieve some of the headache. Sure, we'll have to wait and see when this gets in the hands of real users and reviewers, but based on what I saw with working models at CES, Weber's approach will at least ease some of the stress of routine maintenance while also offering better overall performance. Other companies will surely be tracking SmokeFire and Weber Connect closely to gauge reaction. Pellet grills aren't a new technology by any means, but there's room to innovate when it comes to design, features and software. If Weber succeeds in improving cleanup and guiding aspiring backyard pitmasters, you can bet other companies will try to do the same. And Weber doesn't plan to take a break either, even though SmokeFire grills will start shipping this month.

    "It takes myself and my wife out of the kitchen and puts us on the patio with a glass of wine in our hand -- it's just a better way to live your life." Scherzinger explained." "iGrill started us on that path, for sure. Weber Connect and all the innovations that we're pursuing in the coming years seek to advance that even further."

    And now I'm hungry.

    Images: Weber

  • London police begin using live facial recognition tech across the capital

    London's Metropolitan Police Service has begun using live facial recognition (LFR) technology. At key areas throughout the city, signposted cameras will scan the faces of passing people, alerting officers to potential matches with wanted criminals. According to the Met, "this will help tackle serious crime, including serious violence, gun and knife crime, child sexual exploitation and help protect the vulnerable".

    In a tweet, the Met assured the public that any images obtained that don't trigger a potential alert are deleted immediately -- and that it's up to officers whether they decide to stop someone based on an alert or not. The technology operates from a standalone system, and isn't linked to any other imaging platforms, such as CCTV or bodycams.

    Despite the Met's insistence that the technology can be used for good, however, some critics have lambasted LFR as ineffectual and in some cases, unlawful. In April 2019, for example, a report from the University of Essex found that the Met's LFR technology has an inaccuracy rate of 81 percent. The previous year, technology used by police in South Wales mistakenly identified 2,300 innocent people as potential criminals.

    The Met's new endeavor is launched at a tumultuous time for facial recognition technology. Just last week the European Commission revealed it's considering a ban on the use of LFR in public areas for up to five years, while regulators figure out how to prevent the tech being abused. Meanwhile, privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch -- supported by more than 18 UK politicians and 25 additional campaign groups -- has called for a halt to adoption, citing concerns about implementation without proper scrutiny.

    Source: Metropolitan Police

  • Samsung is building its own version of AirDrop called Quick Share

    Samsung is working on an AirDrop rival called Quick Share for its Galaxy phones, according to Galaxy S20+ 5G, if that is indeed the phone's official name, so Quick Share might launch with Samsung's next flagships. Just like AirDrop, it will give you an easy way to transfer files between two Galaxy phones. You'll also able to choose whether to allow only your contacts to share files with you or to allow everyone nearby to send you memes, videos and other things.

    You'll also be able to use Quick Share to stream files to supported SmartThings devices. To do so, it first has to temporarily upload files to Samsung Cloud and then stream them to a SmartThings device -- take note, though, that this feature seems to be limited to 1GB per send for a total of up to 2GB per day.

    Image: Max Winebach/XDA Developers

    Since Samsung has yet to officially announce the feature, it's still unclear if it will also make its way to older phones. We might find out on February 11th at a Galaxy Unpacked event where the tech giant is expected to unveil its next flagship devices.

    Source: XDA Developers

  • Boston Dynamics gives its robot dog a developer SDK

    Now that Spot is more clever and polite, Boston Dynamics is ready to set it free. The Softbank-owned robotics company announced that it's making Spot's SDK available to anyone who wants it via GitHub, starting today. The release will allow developers and even non-traditional roboticists "develop custom applications that enable Spot to do useful tasks across a wide range of industries," said Boston Dynamics VP Michael Perry.

    Until today, only developers in the early adopter program could get the SDK, but now it's freely available to all as open-source code. However, developers will still need to become early adopters if they want to lease a robot to test their code, Boston Dynamics said. That way, they can "create custom methods of controlling the robot, integrate sensor information into data analysis tools and design custom payloads which expand the capabilities of the base robot platform," according to the company.

    By way of example, Boston Dynamics cited a company called HoloBuilders that have used the SDK to add Spot to their existing app. "With what they've developed, workers can use a phone to teach Spot to document a path around a construction site and then Spot will autonomously navigate that path and take 360 images that go right into their processing software," it said. Other uses include security monitoring, laser-scanning and police chores like examining suspicious packages.

    Along with the SDK release, Boston Dynamics announced a change in management. Founder a Mark Raibert will become Chairman, ceding his CEO role to former COO and long-time employee Rob Playter. That's part of a larger plan for Boston Dynamics to commercialize its robots like SpotMini, Atlas and now Handle -- and the release of the SDK is a big step towards that goal.

    Source: Boston Dynamics

  • MIT's new GPS system uses satellite images to put you in the right lane

    If you've ever used GPS navigation while driving in an unfamiliar place, chances are you've had more than one incident with last minute merging -- likely because the GPS hasn't picked up on the number of lanes on the road, or where they lead to. But this particular annoyance's days could be numbered, thanks to research from MIT.

    Typically, GPS maps are created by big companies such as Google, which sends camera-strapped vehicles around a neighborhood to capture details on an area's roads. And that's worked pretty well so far, but it's not without its limitations. For a start, it's an expensive process, and keeping these maps up to date is time-consuming. Secondly, because of the costs involved, some parts of the world are being ignored; GPS data is basic at best, or simply non-existent.

    One solution to these challenges is to unleash machine-learning models onto satellite images to automatically tag road features. This is cheaper, these images are updated regularly, and a bird's eye view of a road will give a whole bunch of more useful information about lane control. The problem is, satellite images of roads are often obscured by things such as trees and buildings, making things harder for the machine-learning component. But this is where MIT comes in.

    Working with Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), the facility has designed a system that uses a combination of neural network architectures to automatically predict the types of roads and number of lanes behind obstructions. In tests, the system -- called RoadTagger -- counted lane numbers with 77 percent accuracy, and could infer road types (residential or highway, for example) with 93 percent accuracy.

    QCRI was particularly invested in this research because of the challenges Qatar is facing ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. According to the paper's co-author Sam Madden, Qatar is not a priority for companies building digital maps, and yet it's constantly building new roads and improving old ones ahead of next year's soccer event. "While visiting Qatar, we've had experiences where our Uber driver can't figure out how to get where he's going, because the map is so off," Madden said. "If navigation apps don't have the right information, for things such as lane merging, this could be frustrating or worse."

    The researchers plan to develop RoadTagger to predict other features, too, such as parking spots and bike lanes, and hope that one day it can be used to help humans quickly validate continuous modifications to roads. Sort of like a Waze for infrastructure. "Our goal is to automate the process of generating high-quality digital maps, so they can be available in any country," said Madden, meaning that panicked last-minute lane merges could soon be a thing of the past.

    Source: MIT

  • 'Disco Elysium' gets a hardcore mode for fans who want a challenge

    Video game developer ZA/UM has launched a Hardcore True Detective mode for its award-winning game ever-growing Steam library. The developer warns that the new mode is "not meant for first-time detectives," because it makes the game a lot more challenging.

    To start with, the game's difficulty goes way up. You'll have to get used to failure, especially since the mode also limits your resources. The game's NPCs are poorer than before and have less money to drop. "You've always had to hustle to survive. Now you've got to hustle more," the developer wrote in its announcement.

    Big pharma will also screw you over -- just like real life! -- and will make over-the-counter drugs more expensive and less effective. As a result, you may have to turn to booze and cigarettes to clear your head and build up your courage. That said, you'll get extra XP for finishing tasks, and you'll level up faster and higher to balance the rise in difficulty.

    In addition to a tougher gameplay mode, ZA/UM has also updated Disco Elysium with widescreen support, so you can watch yourself fail to solve cases in the correct aspect ratio.

    Source: Steam

  • 'Apex Legends' celebrates its first year with a new melee-focused hero

    It's been almost a year since EA and Respawn shocked gamers by will add a new hero, Forge, and launch season four of gameplay and content add-ons. For existing players, there are some special "year one" login gifts, plus people who play between February 4th and 11th can nab 10k XP for their first match of the day, every day.

    The new hero Forge appears to add some melee abilities to the mix, with "Shatter Gauntlets" that he can use to beat up opponents. According to his backstory, the character is a "five time hyperfighting federation champion" who joins the game with some corporate sponsorship attached. According to people who've poked around for leaks, some of the abilities they're anticipating make him seem a lot like Doomfist, the similarly-augmented hero-with-a-big-arm from Overwatch.

    Otherwise, players can expect to see the map continue to change as well as a new setup for ranked gameplay that will begin with the launch of Season 4 "Assimilation." Also, for ranked players the season length will be cut in half, and after it splits for the second half they'll be playing in Kings Canyon, the setting that Apex Legends launched with last year. Finally, the Apex "Predator" tier will be hard-capped at the top 500 ranked players on each platform -- while high-ranked players will still be in the game's new Master Tier, they'll have to keep playing to avoid being bypassed and knocked out of Predator.

    There's a new sniper rifle, the Sentinel, that's bolt-action, has a charge-up mechanic and promises to quickly cut through enemy armor. Naturally there's a new battle pass coming for season with skins, music packs and more, but you'll have to wait for more details. It's been an interesting year for the game, Respawn and EA. While it hasn't knocked Fortnite or others out of the lead in battle royale gaming, it still has a lot of players across all platforms, a place in esports with its ESPN X Games tie-ins and a place at the lead of EA's plans for games-as-a-service.

    Source: Apex Legends (1), (2)

  • Sprint will fix anyone's cracked Samsung Galaxy screen for $49

    Sprint has launched an affordable screen repair program for Samsung Galaxy phones, and it doesn't even matter if you're a subscriber. The company will fix cracked screens on eligible devices for $49 until February 9th, 2020 "no matter who your carrier is," according to the program's website. While it doesn't cover the tech giant's latest flagship devices -- Galaxy S10s are still probably under warranty for most people anyway -- the program will repair broken screens on the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+, S9, S9+ and Note 8.

    That said, the offer does have some limitations. Your phone must be in working condition, and the carrier notes that not all shattered displays are repairable. Further, the offer is limited to one device per customer and is only available at Sprint stores with repair services. In the event that Sprint deems your phone unrepairable, it will give you the option to sell it for $150 towards a new device.

    Okay, so perhaps that's the whole point of this all: to get you to become a paying customer in case you're in the market for a new phone or a new plan. Still, it sounds like a good deal if you've been wanting your screen fixed for the longest time but don't want to or can't spend too much on its repair.

    Via: 9to5Google

    Source: Sprint

  • FDA warns hospitals about security flaws in some GE medical equipment

    Some GE medical equipment have vulnerabilities that make them easy to tamper with, according to the FDA. The agency has warned hospitals and healthcare providers that a third-party cybersecurity firm has identified flaws in certain GE Healthcare Clinical Information Central Stations and Telemetry Server models. Hospitals use these devices to monitor patients' information, including their temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure, and are usually located in the nurse's bay or other central locations within a facility.

    Those vulnerabilities, the FDA said, could allow bad actors to remotely take control of the devices in order to generate false alarms or silence real ones. An attacker could, for instance, stop the system from notifying providers about a patient's cardiac status, putting their life in danger. Thankfully, the FDA has yet to receive reports of patient harm or device malfunction involving GE's central stations. The company has taken steps to prevent them all the same, advising customers to separate the equipment from wider hospital network and instructing them on where they can get a patch when it becomes available.

    The FDA has been keeping a close eye on medical equipment cybersecurity measures and issues over the past years. It issued a final guidance instructing manufacturers to boost pacemakers' and insulin pumps' protections against cyberattacks in 2016. The agency also previously issued a warning about certain pacemakers that are vulnerable to hacking and even recalled half a million pacemakers due to hacking fears.

    Via: CNBC

    Source: FDA

  • Google I/O 2020 starts May 12th

    Now that enough people have completed a special puzzle, Google announced that its annual developer event will return to the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. Google I/O will run from May 12th - 14th, a few days later than its timing in 2019. In the past we've seen announcements focusing on everything from Assistant to Google Glass, and who knows what 2020 may bring to the location's outdoor stage. (Other than Android, AI and other usual service enhancements, of course.)

    Cosmos aligned. We'll be back at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View for this year's #GoogleIO on May 12-14!
    — Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) January 24, 2020
    Source: Google I/O Mission

  • Apple says EU push for universal phone charger would 'stifle innovation'

    The European Parliament has renewed its push for a phone charger standard through an amended draft law, and it won't surprise you to hear that Apple has raised objections. The iPhone maker has issued a statement arguing that rules dictating a common connector in phones "stifles innovation" and would hurt the public more than it helped. To support its claims, the company commissioned a study from Copenhagen Economics claiming that a common charger move would cost €1.5 billion (about $1.7 billion), more than negating the €13 million ($14.4 million) in potential environmental benefits. It even suggested the EU might create an environmental problem by "disrupting" hundreds of millions of people who use Apple devices with Lightning ports.

    Apple also felt that rules weren't necessary when the industry was already consolidating around USB-C, either through port changes or through cables (as with the iPhone 11 Pro). The industry has consolidated from "30 chargers to three, soon to be two," Apple said. It still hoped the European Commission would look for a solution -- just not one that hurt the industry's (read: Apple's) "ability to innovate."

    You can read Apple's full statement below.

    The EU has been pressing for harmonized phone charging for over a decade, arguing that it would reduce e-waste and simplify the experience for customers. You might not even need a new charger in the box alongside your new phone. To date, though, it has relied on a voluntary approach that it doesn't believe has been effective. Regulation would theoretically push exceptions like Apple to do what they won't on their own accord.

    Whether or not mandatory adoption would help isn't clear. While USB-C has made life considerably easier in the smartphone world, it didn't start reaching phones until 2015, or three years after Lightning (which included many of USB-C's design advantages) made its debut in the iPhone 5. Widespread adoption took a while after that. As genuinely helpful as a standard could be, there is a risk you could wait longer for meaningful advances.

    "Apple stands for innovation and deeply cares about the customer experience. We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.

    "More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.

    "We do not believe there is a case for regulation given the industry is already moving to the use of USB Type-C through a connector or cable assembly. This includes Apple's USB-C power adapter which is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices. This approach is more affordable and convenient for consumers, enables charging for a wide range of portable electronic products, encourages people to re-use their charger and allows for innovation.

    "Prior to 2009, the Commission considered mandating that all smartphones use only USB Micro-B connectors which would have restricted the advancement to Lightning and USB Type-C. Instead, the Commission established a voluntary, industry standards-based approach that saw the market shift from 30 chargers down to 3, soon to be two — Lightning and USB-C, showing this approach does work.

    "We hope the Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry's ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to customers."

    Source: Reuters


  • Microsoft Office update switches Chrome search engine to Bing
    Microsoft is planning to use the Office 365 installer to forcibly switch Chrome users over to the company’s Bing search engine. Microsoft’s Office 365 ProPlus installer, used by businesses, will include a new Chrome extension next month that switches the default search engine to Bing. New installations of Office 365 ProPlus and updated installs will include the extension, as long as the default search engine in Chrome is not set to Bing. Microsoft is clearly marketing this to IT admins as enabling its Microsoft Search functionality in Chrome, but it also looks like a stealthy way of pushing people over to using Bing. If Bing is already set as the default search engine in Chrome, then the extension never gets installed. Microsoft is planning to roll this out in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and India next month. Windows is an advertising platform. Get out while you can.

  • Google will provide 8 year of updates for Chromebooks
    When we first launched Chromebooks, devices only received three years of automatic updates. Over the years, we’ve been able to increase that to over six. Last fall, we extended AUE on many devices currently for sale, in many cases adding an extra year or more before they expire. This will help schools better select which devices to invest in and provide more time to transition from older devices. And now, devices launching in 2020 and beyond will receive automatic updates for even longer. The new Lenovo 10e Chromebook Tablet and Acer Chromebook 712 will both receive automatic updates until June 2028. So if you’re considering refreshing your fleet or investing in new devices, now is a great time. Eight years is a decent amount of time, especially since most Chromebooks are quite cheap  so this longevity is really good value. I only wish Google were this dedicated to Android, too.

  • NomadBSD
    Speaking of using BSD as a general purpose operating system: NomadBSD is a persistent live system for USB flash drives, based on FreeBSD. Together with automatic hardware detection and setup, it is configured to be used as a desktop system that works out of the box, but can also be used for data recovery, for educational purposes, or to test FreeBSDs hardware compatibility. This seems like quite the polished and minimalist  yet full-featured  FreeBSD distribution to test out your hardware.

  • Wine 5.0 released
    This release represents a year of development effort and over 7,400 individual changes. It contains a large number of improvements that are listed in the release notes below. The main highlights are:  Builtin modules in PE format. Multi-monitor support. XAudio2 reimplementation. Vulkan 1.1 support. Wine allows me to run virtually any Windows game I use on Linux  including League of Legends, my most-played game  so its a pretty amazing tool in my book. Since many people no longer directly interact with Wine, using it through tools like Steams compatibility tools or Lutris, instead, its easy to forget just how important of a project Wine really is.

  • WordPad is gettings ads in Windows 10
    An upcoming feature of WordPad has been discovered by enthusiasts, revealing in-app ads that promote Microsoft Office. The change is hidden in recent Insider Preview builds, and not activated for most users. WordPad is a very simple text editor, more powerful than Notepad, but still less feature rich than Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer. It is good for creating a simple text document without complicated formatting. The more advertisements and preinstalled junkware Microsoft shoves into Windows 10, the more the otherwise decent operating system turns into a user-hostile joke. Apple is going down the same route with iOS, and everything about it just feels disgusting and sleazy. One of the many reasons I transitioned all my machines away from Windows and to Linux.

  • Apple dropped plan for encrypting backups after FBI complained
    Apple Inc dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations, six sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. The tech giant’s reversal, about two years ago, has not previously been reported. It shows how much Apple has been willing to help U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, despite taking a harder line in high-profile legal disputes with the government and casting itself as a defender of its customers’ information. This once again just goes to show Apples privacy chest-thumping is nothing but marketing and grandstanding. This is effectively a backdoor for government agencies to use, and if the good guys! can use it, so can the bad guys. On top of that, this neatly ties into Apple handing over iCloud data to the Chinese government  data that is most certainly being used by the Chinese regime in, among other things, its genocide of the Uyghurs. I prefer a company thats open and honest about what data it collects and uses and why  Google  over a company that purposefully tries to muddy the waters through marketing and grandstanding  Apple. The devil you know and all that.

  • FreeBSD is an amazing operating system
    As mentioned previously, because FreeBSD is a real multi-purpose operating system with many different use cases, FreeBSD is very flexible and tuneable. Whether you want to run FreeBSD on your desktop computer or on your server, it provides many tuneable options that enables you to make it very performant. The options set out-of-the box may not suit your needs exactly, but then FreeBSD provides lots of documentation on how to get it to work as you need, and it provides a very helpful community with many people who has experience in dealing with many different situations and problems. I believe it is important to understand that FreeBSD is not like a GNU/Linux distribution. FreeBSD is an operating system made by developers who are also system administrators. This means that FreeBSD is supposed to be run by system administrators who understands how the system works. You cannot simply jump from something like Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSUSE and then expect that you get the same experience on FreeBSD (I and a lot of other people would be extremely sad if that were the case). The BSDs just arent my thing. Im not a developer, and Im not a system administrator. Over the past six months or so, Ive moved all my machines and all my workflows over to Linux  my laptop, my main PC (used for everything that isnt translating), and my office PC (for my translation work), and I couldnt be happier (in the interest of full disclosure, I do keep Windows around on my main PC for possible future Windows-only games, and I have a Windows 10 virtual machine on my office PC for some Windows-specific translation software I need to keep around). As I was planning this careful migration, I never once considered using any of the BSDs. For the simpler, almost exclusively desktop oriented work that I do, BSD just doesnt seem like the right tool for the job  and thats okay, Im not the target audience  and I suspect there are many people like me. I think the BSDs are stronger for not trying to be everything to all people, and this more focused development seems to be exactly why someone chooses BSD over Linux. And I see no reason why anybody should want to change that.

  • Google is working to bring official Steam support to Chrome OS
    Last week in Las Vegas while at CES, I spoke with Kan Liu, Director of Product Management for Googles Chrome OS. In a wide-ranging discussion about the Chrome platform and ecosystem, Liu dropped something of a bombshell on me: the Chrome team is working—very possibly in cooperation with Valve—to bring Steam to Chromebooks. The next question, of course, is just what sorts of games would even be worth playing on a Chromebook when run directly on local hardware. Currently, most Chromebooks have extremely limited 3D acceleration performance, with only the most recent devices like Samsungs Galaxy Chromebook possessing vaguely passable GPUs. Liu said we could expect that to change: more powerful Chromebooks, especially AMD Chromebooks, are coming. Liu would not explicitly confirm that any of these models would contain discrete Radeon graphics, but told us to stay tuned. This makes a lot of sense. Sure, you wont be running the latest and greatest AAA titles on Chromebooks any time soon, but Steam has a massive library of less intensive games and older titles that would run just fine on any mid-range Chromebook. On top of that, this would open Chromebooks up to Steams streaming feature.

  • The PinePhone starts shipping  a Linux-powered smartphone for $150
    Pine64 has announced that it is finally shipping the PinePhone, a smartphone that takes the rare step outside the Android/iOS duopoly and is designed to run mainline Linux distributions. The PinePhone starts shipping January 17 in the Braveheart! developer edition. An interesting device for sure, and the dip switches on the motherboard that act has hardware kill switches for things like the microphone and camera are pretty neat. I do take issue with the Linux-powered! as if thats some unique quality or anything. Save for the odd iPhone, every single smartphone in the world runs Linux. Maybe not in a form that adheres to your no true Scotsman idea of Linux, but 100% Linux nonetheless.

  • The new Microsoft Edge is out of preview and now available for download
    From this incredible momentum, today I’m pleased to announce the new Microsoft Edge is now available to download on all supported versions of Windows and macOS in more than 90 languages. Microsoft Edge is also available on iOS and Android, providing a true cross-platform experience. The new Microsoft Edge provides world class performance with more privacy, more productivity and more value while you browse. Our new browser also comes with our Privacy Promise and we can’t wait for you to try new features like tracking prevention, which is on by default, and provides three levels of control while you browse. The new Edge will also come to Linux, so this gives us yet another Chromium-based browser available on all platforms. Why, exactly, youd choose Edge over Chrome, Vivaldi, or any others is still not entirely clear to me, however.

  • Opening up the Baseboard Management Controller
    In 2011 Facebook announced the Open Compute Project to form a community around open-source designs and specifications for data center hardware. Facebook shared its hardware specs, which resulted in 38 percent less energy consumption and 24 percent cost savings compared with its existing data centers. What Facebook and other hyperscalers (Google, Microsoft, et al.) donate to the Open Compute Project are their solutions to the agonizing problems that come with running data centers at scale. Since then, the project has expanded to all aspects of the open data center: baseboard management controllers (BMCs), network interface controllers (NICs), rack designs, power busbars, servers, storage, firmware, and security. This column focuses on the BMC. This is an introduction to a complicated topic; some sections just touch the surface, but the intention is to provide a full picture of the world of the open-source BMC ecosystem, starting with a brief overview of the BMCs role in a system, touching on security concerns around the BMC, and then diving into some of the projects that have developed in the open-source ecosystem. A good overview.

  • The AlphaSmart dana in 2019
    The AlphaSmart dana is technically a Palm OS PDA, in the same way that Hannibal Lecter is technically a famous chef. The dana does run Palm OS 4.0, but it has almost reversed priorities from a normal PDA. For example, I drafted college essays on a dana, but never used the calendar or address book until I began writing this article. In contrast, Palm OS founder Jeff Hawkins distilled the average PDA user’s needs down to, “All I really care about is calendars and address book and trying to coordinate with my secretary.” Palm designed their operating system to organize a social schedule, but AlphaSmart Inc. used that codebase to create a device that focused on expression rather than organization. AlphaSmart was founded by ex-Apple employees who designed simplified computers for classrooms that couldn’t afford high end computers. AlphaSmart achieved these lower costs by hyperfocusing on composition. Those lower costs became irrelevant as laptop prices dropped, but the hyperfocus on composition itself has become more relevant in an era of distraction. If we consider the dana as a device for producing drafts, even its flaws are transformed into strengths. The dana is the pinnacle of AlphaSmart’s writer-focused devices. Former Apple engineers Ketan Kothari and Joe Barrus created AlphaSmart in the early 90s to create word-processing computers. Kothari said that their goal was to allow the users to “focus on the words”. They floated their ideas in an education discussion board on FidoNet, and met up with a group of enthusiastic teachers to get feedback on a prototype device. The prototype was simply a full keyboard with an LCD display and the ability to store writing. The teachers liked it, but told the engineers they needed something with fewer keys, standard batteries, and a smaller form factor. Kothari and Barrus incorporated these few tweaks into their original AlphaSmart device. All future products kept this form factor: a reduced keyboard with an LCD screen, output ports, and a battery compartment. Future models introduced a handful of new features. The 1995 AlphaSmart Pro could connect to both PC and Mac computers. Five years later, the AlphaSmart 3000 introduced USB support. Then in 2002, the dana adapted Palm OS 4 to facilitate a much more capable machine. The dana included a touch screen, a backlight, proper file management, compatibility with loads of Palm applications, a larger screen, improved font rendering, and a plethora of ports including two SD card slots. The dana was the first of the AlphaSmart machines to use the Palm OS, and also the last. The dana was released at a retail cost of well over $500 adjusted for inflation. At that time, the lower end 600mhz iBook retailed for $1700 adjusted for inflation. As the cost and weight of laptops fell, AlphaSmart had to simplify their designs to compete with lower end laptops. They released the Neo which abandoned Palm OS and many of the dana’s features, but cost half as much as the dana. Initially, AlphaSmart aimed for a two tier product line with the cheaper Neo and the higher end dana. However, they found schools were reluctant to pay more without getting a full-blown laptop. AlphaSmart slightly upgraded the memory in the Neo, rebranded it as the Neo2, and continued for several years with this as their sole device. In 2013, even though the Neo2 sold as low as $119, it was finally killed off. There is no current successor, and the dana stands as the high water mark of AlphaSmart’s mission to create a machine with a focus on the words. The Machine Itself The dana is a text editor that theoretically could function as a complete word processor. In the same way that the calendar and address book were the center of Palm’s handhelds, AlphaWord is the software heart of the dana. AlphaWord has plenty of options for formatting, but I rarely go into them. I’m typing this on the dana right now, and I am focused entirely on the content. I’ve adjusted the font to 18 point Garamond bold, but that’s purely for visibility. The font will be stripped when I move the document onto my laptop. The dana can output RTF documents that preserve fonts, but it’s a bit awkward. Preserving the fonts requires squinting into the already blurry screen at smaller 12-point letters. The dana has so much word processing power that it can even print straight from the dana, but this feature just highlights how much the dana should not be used for a finished product. First, AlphaWord does not separate documents into pages. Documents are pure streams of text, which is perfect for a first draft. However, the pageless documents mean that the actual layout is a mystery until the document is printed. Next, the dana has quite a few technical printer issues. I connected to two cheap inkjet printers, and both ignored the dana. I connected to a Brother laser printer, and I believe it printed the correct number of pages, but they all came out blank. I found a couple large office-style copiers that could print the documents straight from AlphaWord, but they disregarded the font except for italics and bold. My favorite printer interaction was connecting to a thermal printer. I didn’t expect anything, but the cheap thermal printer spooled out anything the dana threw at it. The thermal printer completely disregarded all formatting on the dana, but there was something fitting in the stark receipt-like printouts coming from the simple keyboard. I experimented with sending some receipt-style list poetry to the thermal paper and was pleased with the output. However, I can’t imagine trying to read an essay off of a narrow scroll of receipt paper. While the dana can’t adequately print, Palm OS facilitates a plethora of ways to get documents off of the dana. USB keyboard emulation is both the best way to get material off of the dana, and the machine’s default setup. When connected to via a standard USB cable, the dana becomes

  • Google is seeking to deprecate Chrome’s User Agent string
    Google intends to deprecate the user agent string in Chrome. According to the proposal, the first step is to deprecate the “navigator.userAgent” method used to access the User Agent string, suggested to start in March with Chrome 81. This change won’t have any visible effect for most people, and websites will continue to work completely as normal. However, web developers will be given explicit warnings in the Chrome development console that retrieving the User Agent string is no longer a good idea. Next, with the release of Chrome 83 in June, Google will begin to freeze, or stop updating, the User Agent string with each update to Chrome. At the same time, Chrome will also “unify” the information shared about your device’s operating system, for example meaning that two computers on slightly different Windows 10 updates should have the same User Agent. This will eliminate one more potential fingerprinting method. Finally, beginning in September’s Chrome 85 release, every Chrome rowser running on a desktop operating system, such as Windows, macOS, or Linux, will report the exact same User Agent string, eliminating all possible User Agent fingerprinting. Similarly, Chrome 85 will unify the User Agent on mobile devices, though devices will apparently be lumped into one of a few categories based on screen size. User agent strings have long outlived their usefulness, and today only serve to artificially restrict browser access in the stupidest of ways. Im obviously not comfortable with Google spearheading this effort, so Im counting on a lot of scrutiny from the web community and other browser makers.

  • Amiga Java
    Since Java Grinder (a Java byte-code compiler) already supports the Motorola 68000 CPU with the Sega Genesis I figured it shouldnt be too hard to extend the MC68000.cxx class to support the Commodore Amiga computer. More specifically, the original Amiga 1000. Amazing.

  • Windows 7 is no longer supported beginning today
    Its the end of an era. Todays date, January 14, has been on the books for years now, and its the day that support ends for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. More specifically, extended support is ending for Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 and 2. There are, of course, workarounds. Microsoft is offering Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for those willing to pay up, and its only available for Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise. The price is going to be per-machine, and it will double every year. In other words, if youve got a business with multiple Windows 7 PCs, its going to be costly to keep them on the legacy OS. ESUs will be available for three years. You can get ESUs through volume licensing or through Microsoft 365. Windows 7 is 11 years old by now, and moving the operating system strictly to paid maintenance seems acceptable  you cant expect operating systems to be maintained forever. This means that unless theyre planning on being irresponsible, Windows 7 users will have to start moving to Windows 10. They might want to download one of the many debloat programs, followed by a a tool that gives them strict control over Windows 10s leaky privacy settings. Or, you know, move to something else entirely.

Linux Journal - The Original Magazine of the Linux Community

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

    Final Letter from the Editor: The Awkward Goodbye

    by Kyle Rankin

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

    That's basically this post. 

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

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

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

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

    Figure 1. A Typical Kernel Panic

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

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

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

    Figure 2. kexec Configuration Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ugh, I hate it.

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

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

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

    And the portcullis came crashing down.

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

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

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

    The word DevOps confuses me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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