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  • RedHat: RHSA-2017-3248:01 Low: .NET Core security update A security update for .NET Core on RHEL is now available. Red Hat Product Security has rated this update as having a security impact of Low. A Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) base score, which gives a detailed severity rating, is available for each vulnerability from

  • Fedora 27: roundcubemail Security Update Upstream announcement for **version 1.3.3** This is a security update to the stable version 1.3. It primarily fixes a recently discovered file disclosure vulnerability caused by insufficient input validation in conjunction with file- based attachment plugins, which are used by default. More details will be published under CVE-2017-16651. We strongly recommend to update all productive

  • Fedora 26: roundcubemail Security Update Upstream announcement for **version 1.3.3** This is a security update to the stable version 1.3. It primarily fixes a recently discovered file disclosure vulnerability caused by insufficient input validation in conjunction with file- based attachment plugins, which are used by default. More details will be published under CVE-2017-16651. We strongly recommend to update all productive

  • Debian: DSA-4042-1: libxml-libxml-perl security update A use-after-free vulnerability was discovered in XML::LibXML, a Perl interface to the libxml2 library, allowing an attacker to execute arbitrary code by controlling the arguments to a replaceChild() call.

  • Debian: DSA-4041-1: procmail security update Jakub Wilk reported a heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability in procmail's formail utility when processing specially-crafted email headers. A remote attacker could use this flaw to cause formail to crash, resulting in a denial of service or data loss.

  • [$] Replacing x86 firmware with Linux and Go
    The IntelManagement Engine (ME), which is a separate processor and operatingsystem running outside of user control on most x86 systems, has long beenof concern to users who are security and privacy conscious. Google andothers have been working on ways to eliminate as much of that functionality as possible(while still being able to boot and run the system). Ronald Minnich fromGoogle came to Prague to talk about those efforts at the 2017 EmbeddedLinux Conference Europe.

  • Security updates for Monday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (icu and lib32-icu), CentOS (firefox), Debian (imagemagick, konversation, libspring-ldap-java, libxml-libxml-perl, lynx-cur, ming, opensaml2, poppler, procmail, shibboleth-sp2, and xen), Fedora (firefox, java-9-openjdk, jbig2dec, kernel, knot, knot-resolver, qt5-qtwebengine, and roundcubemail), Gentoo (adobe-flash, couchdb, icedtea-bin, and phpunit), Mageia (apr, bluez, firefox, jq, konversation, libextractor, and quagga), Oracle (firefox), Red Hat (firefox), and Scientific Linux (firefox).

  • [$] 4.15 Merge window part 1
    When he released 4.14, Linus Torvaldswarned that the 4.15 merge window might be shorter than usual due to the USThanksgiving holiday. Subsystem maintainers would appear to have heardhim; as of this writing, over 8,800 non-merge changesets have been pulledinto the mainline since the opening of the 4.15 merge window. Read on fora summary of the most interesting changes found in that first set ofpatches.

  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (couchdb), Debian (opensaml2 and shibboleth-sp2), Fedora (knot and knot-resolver), openSUSE (firefox), Slackware (libplist and mozilla), and Ubuntu (firefox and ipsec-tools).

  • Introducing container-diff, a tool for quickly comparing container images (Google Open Source Blog)
    Google has announced that it has released its container-diff tool under the Apache v2 license. "container-diff helps users investigate image changes by computing semantic diffs between images. What this means is that container-diff figures out on a low-level what data changed, and then combines this with an understanding of package manager information to output this information in a format that’s actually readable to users. The tool can find differences in system packages, language-level packages, and files in a container image.Users can specify images in several formats - from local Docker daemon (using the prefix `daemon://` on the image path), a remote registry (using the prefix `remote://`), or a file in the .tar in the format exported by "docker save" command. You can also combine these formats to compute the diff between a local version of an image and a remote version."

  • [$] SPDX identifiers in the kernel
    Observers of the kernel's commit stream or mailing lists will have seen acertain amount of traffic referring to the addition of SPDX licenseidentifiers to kernel source files. For many, this may be their first encounter with SPDX. Butthe SPDX effort has been going on for some years; this article describesSPDX, along with why and how the kernel community intends to use it.

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (firefox, flashplugin, lib32-flashplugin, and mediawiki), CentOS (kernel and php), Debian (firefox-esr, jackson-databind, and mediawiki), Fedora (apr, apr-util, chromium, compat-openssl10, firefox, ghostscript, hostapd, icu, ImageMagick, jackson-databind, krb5, lame, liblouis, nagios, nodejs, perl-Catalyst-Plugin-Static-Simple, php, php-PHPMailer, poppler, poppler-data, rubygem-ox, systemd, webkitgtk4, wget, wordpress, and xen), Mageia (flash-player-plugin, icu, jackson-databind, php, and roundcubemail), Oracle (kernel and php), Red Hat (openstack-aodh), SUSE (wget and xen), and Ubuntu (apport and webkit2gtk).

  • NumPy will drop Python 2 support
    The NumPy project is phasingout support for Python 2. "The Python core team plans to stopsupporting Python 2 in 2020. The NumPy project has supported both Python 2and Python 3 in parallel since 2010, and has found that supporting Python 2is an increasing burden on our limited resources; thus, we plan toeventually drop Python 2 support as well. Now that we're entering the finalyears of community-supported Python 2, the NumPy project wants to clarifyour plans, with the goal of to helping our downstream ecosystem make plansand accomplish the transition with as little disruption aspossible." NumPy releases will fully support both Python 2 andPython 3 until December 31, 2018. New feature releases will support onlyPython 3 as of January 1, 2019. (Thanks to Nathaniel Smith)

  • [$] SciPy reaches 1.0
    After 16 years of evolution, the SciPy project has reached version 1.0. SciPy, a free-software project, has become one of the most popular computational toolkits for scientists from a wide range of disciplines, and is largely responsible for the ascendancy of Python in many areas of scientific research. While the 1.0 release is significant, much of the underlying software has been stable for some time; the "1.0" version number reflects that the project as a whole is on solid footing.

  • Stable kernel updates
    Stable kernels 4.13.13, 4.9.62, 4.4.98, and 3.18.81 have been released. They all containimportant fixes and users should upgrade.

  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (libxml-libxml-perl and varnish), openSUSE (GraphicsMagick, mongodb, shadowsocks-libev, and snack), Red Hat (flash-plugin, kernel, php, and redis), Scientific Linux (kernel and php), and Ubuntu (shadow).

  • [$] KAISER: hiding the kernel from user space
    Since the beginning, Linux has mapped the kernel's memory into the addressspace of every running process. There are solid performance reasons fordoing this, and the processor's memory-management unit can ordinarily betrusted to prevent user space from accessing that memory. More recently,though, some more subtle security issues related to this mapping have cometo light, leading to the rapid development of a new patch set that ends thislongstanding practice for the x86 architecture.

  • Firefox 57
    Firefox 57 has been released. From the releasenotes: "Brace yourself for an all-new Firefox. It’s fast. Reallyfast. It’s over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago, built on acompletely overhauled core engine with brand new technology from ouradvanced research group, and graced with a clean, modern interface. Todayis the first of several releases we’re calling Firefox Quantum, alldesigned to get to the things you love and the stuff you need faster thanever before. Experience the difference on desktops running Windows, macOS,and Linux; on Android, speed improvements are landing as well, and bothAndroid and iOS have a new look and feel. To learn more about FirefoxQuantum, visit the Mozilla Blog."

  • Reveal.js presentation hacks
    Ryan Jarvinen, a Red Hat open source advocate focusing on improving developer experience in the container community, has been using the Reveal.js presentation framework for more than five years. In his Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2017, he shares what he's learned about Reveal.js and some ways to make better use of more

  • How to use special permissions: the setuid, setgid and sticky bits
    Normally, on a unix-like operating system, the ownership of files and directories is based on the default uid (user-id) and gid (group-id) of the user who created them. The same thing happens when a process is launched: it runs with the effective user-id and group-id of the user who started it, and with the corresponding privileges. This behavior can be modified by using special permissions.

  • How to Run Diablo II with the GLIDE-to-OpenGL Wrapper
    Diablo II is usually a breeze to run on Linux, thanks to WINE and so often times you need no special tricks. However, if you're like me and experience a few glitches and washed out colours in the standard fullscreen mode, you have two options: run the game in windowed mode and go without cinematics, or install a GLIDE-OpenGL wrapper and get the game running properly in its fullscreen glory again, without the glitches and colour problems. I detail how to do that in this article.

  • GParted The Complete Partition Editor For Linux
    ?Partition editing is a task which not only requires carefulness but also a stable environment. Today GParted is one of the leading partition editing tools on Linux environment. GParted is not only easy but also remains powerful at the same time. Today I am going to list out the installation as well as basics to use GParted which will be helpful to newbies.

  • Intel plans to end legacy BIOS support by 2020
    Intel’s Brian Richardson announced the move in a recent presentation (PDF link). In slightly more technical terms, Intel will require UEFI Class 3 or higher, which lacks legacy BIOS support. Note that this doesn’t mean “Secure Boot” will be mandatory.

  • Announcing Season of KDE 2018
    KDE Student Programs is pleased to announce the 2018 Season of KDE for those who want to participate in mentored projects that enhance KDE in some way.

  • Boot Linux ISO From Android Phone
    The Thing about us Linux users is that we are never committed to one particular distro. We are always looking for something new, something more exciting. It may be a new Desktop Environment, a newer kernel or a completely different Linux experience.

  • Goodbye Apple, goodbye Microsoft... hello Linux
    Linux is everywhere – and will free your computer from corporate clutches. Rival operating systems: most people are too busy to look beyond Windows (left) and macOS (right), but Linux (centre) is worth making time for.

  • Akademy 2018 - Vienna, Austria - 11-17 August
    Vienna Calling! This is not only a song by the famous austrian singer Falco, but could also the motto for next years Akademy.In 2018 Akademy will be held at the University of Technology (TU Wien) in Vienna, Austria, from Saturday 11th to Friday 17th August.

Linux Insider

  • MX 17 Linux: The Best of 2 Linux Worlds
    MX Linux-17 Beta 1 is a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Debian's "stable" branch. It is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. Normally, taking a first look at an early phase beta release means taking a few hours to get familiar with the features and performance. If too many glitches appear, it can doom the early release to a negative review.

  • Take Linux and Run With It
    "How do you run an operating system?" may seem like a simple question, since most of us are accustomed to turning on our computers and seeing our system spin up. However, this common model is only one way of running an operating system. As one of Linux's greatest strengths is versatility, Linux offers the most methods and environments for running it.

  • Fixes MIA for Many Linux Kernel Flaws
    A Google code security researcher's recent discovery of 14 flaws in Linux kernel USB drivers led to last-minute fixes in the Linux 4.14 release candidate code set for distribution on Sunday. The flaws, which Google researcher Andrey Konovalov disclosed this week, affect the Linux kernel before version 4.13.8. All 14 have available fixes. However, there are other flaws that have not been fixed.

  • GeckoLinux Beta Does openSuse Better
    The latest developmental beta release of GeckoLinux brings this custom spinoff distro of openSuse to new levels of performance and convenience. When I first looked at GeckoLinux in late 2015, I was impressed with the developer's efforts to smooth over what I did not like about using the Suse infrastructure. GeckoLinux impressed me then. It does not disappoint me now.

  • Nvidia Containerizes GPU-Accelerated Deep Learning
    We often talk about hybrid cloud business models, but virtually always in the context of traditional processor-bound applications. What if deep learning developers and service operators could run their GPU-accelerated model training or inference delivery service anywhere they wanted? What if they could do so without having to worry about which Nvidia graphics processor unit they were using?

  • Marcher Malware Poses Triple Threat to Android Users
    A three-pronged banking malware campaign has been infecting Android phones since the beginning of this year, according to Proofpoint. Attackers have been stealing credentials, planting the Marcher banking Trojan on phones, and nicking credit card information. So far, they have targeted customers of BankAustria, Raiffeisen Meine Bank and Sparkasse, but the campaign could spread beyond Vienna.

  • New Collaborative Platform to Spur Open Source AI Development
    The Linux Foundation has announced an agreement with AT&T and Tech Mahindra to launch the Acumos Project, a new platform for open source development of artificial intelligence. The new platform is part of a broader effort to open up opportunities for AI collaboration in the telecommunications, media and technology sectors. AT&T is a Platinum Member of The Linux Foundation.

  • Sonar Could Help Devs Build a Better Website
    Microsoft's Sonar, released under an open source license, could help developers build more effective and secure websites. Sonar, a linting tool and site scanner, is the next evolution of the static scan tool, according to Microsoft. The team that developed Microsoft's Edge browser created Sonar as a better way for website maintainers to check performance and security issues.

  • Neural Nets Give Low-End Phone Pics DSLR Look
    Researchers have found a way to use neural networks to create DSLR-quality photos from snapshots taken with low-end smartphones. A team of scientists at the ETH Zurich Computer Vision Lab recently published a paper describing a deep learning approach that uses neural networks to translate photos taken by cameras with limited capabilities into DSLR-quality photos automatically.

  • AWS Offers Aurora Cloud DB Service Compatible With PostgreSQL
    Amazon Web Services on Tuesday announced the general availability of Amazon Aurora with PostgreSQL compatibility. The service is now fully compatible with both MySQL and PostgreSQL, the company said. AWS also announced that customers migrating to Amazon Aurora from another database can use the AWS Database Migration Service free of charge for the next six months.

  • Linux Foundation Launches Open Data Licensing Agreements
    The Linux Foundation has introduced the Community Data License Agreement, a new framework for sharing large sets of data required for research, collaborative learning and other purposes.  CDLAs will allow both individuals and groups to share data sets in the same way they share open source software code. The agreement could help foster an increase in data sharing across a variety of industries.

  • Anarchy Linux Dispels Fear of Arch
    Anarchy Linux, the distro formerly known as "Arch-Anywhere Linux" has changed my tune about the terrors of Arch-based Linux as a suitable OS. In general, however, Arch-anything presents a challenge that may not be worth the effort for typical desktop needs. A potential trademark violation forced Anarchy Linux developer/maintainer Dylan Schacht to rebrand Arch-Anywhere, his homespun distro.

  • Samsung to Give Linux Desktop Experience to Smartphone Users
    Samsung has announced a new app, Linux on Galaxy, designed to work with its DeX docking station to bring a full Linux desktop experience to Galaxy smartphone users. Samsung earlier this year introduced DeX, a docking station that connects to a monitor to give Galaxy smartphone users a desktop experience. With the Linux on Galaxy app, users will be able to run full Linux desktop distributions.

  • Companies Turn Blind Eye to Open Source Security Risks
    Many software developers and enterprise users have been lax or oblivious to the need to properly manage open source software. A new report highlights the consequences of failure to establish open source acquisition and usage policies, and to follow best practices. Flexera polled more than 400 commercial software suppliers and in-house software development teams within enterprises.

  • Google's Pixel 2 Earns High Marks in Spite of Dull Design
    As Google's new Pixel 2 smartphones get ready to hit the shelves, reviews of the models have begun mushrooming online. While the new phones generally have received positive grades, many reviewers found the their design boring. "The Pixel 2 hardware is ho-hum," observed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. "Google didn't take many risks in its design."

  • New Tools Offer Wholesale Distributors Fast Track to E-Commerce
    Epicor this week released Epicor Commerce Connect, a cloud-based application designed to help wholesale distributors quickly deploy e-commerce sites that will automate many of the steps required to move product to their customers. The Commerce Connect software is now available for Epicor Eclipse, a cloud-based platform geared toward helping companies deploy rich B2B and B2C solutions.

  • AWS, Microsoft Offer New Open Source AI Framework
    AWS and Microsoft have announced the availability of Gluon, an open source deep learning library for building AI neural networks. Gluon will make it easier for researchers to define machine learning models using a collection of prebuilt, optimized neural network components. It will enable software developers and enterprise users to manipulate machine learning models like any other data structures.

  • Container Runtime Brings Greater Flexibility to Kubernetes and BOSH
    The Cloud Foundry Foundation has launched Container Runtime as the default deployment and management platform for containers using Kubernetes and BOSH. The foundation announced Container Runtime at its annual European user conference. Cloud Foundry is an open source Platform as a Service offering used for building and managing applications in the cloud or in data centers.

  • GNOME and Budgie: 2 Comfy Ubuntu 17.10 Environments
    Ubuntu 17.10, otherwise known as "Artful Aardvark," is a paradigm shift for Canonical. The company is set to release the official version of the much anticipated Ubuntu 17.10 desktop, server and cloud distro on Oct. 19 -- it released the final beta version late last month.  Ubuntu 17.10 comes with a new default desktop to replace the retired Unity interface.

  • Android Devs May Follow Apple's Face ID Lead
    Apple's use of facial recognition to unlock its iPhone X may open the gates for developers champing at the bit to bring the technology to the Android world. Face ID, which will replace fingerprint scanning in Apple's new iPhone X, uses Apple's TrueDepth 3D camera to verify the owner of a phone. Android developers have been working on similar systems, said Sensible Vision CEO George Brostoff.

  • With the Shell, You Can Go Wild(card) and Follow Your Pipe Dream
    There is more to the shell than commands composed of alphanumeric characters. In addition to those familiar programs, there is a whole host of processing tools hiding behind the symbols of a standard keyboard. To say nothing of their incredible potency in combination, each one is so powerful on its own that it helps to take a methodical approach to get familiar with them.

  • Another Tor Browser Feature Makes It Into Firefox: First-Party Isolation
    An anonymous reader writes: Unbeknown to most users, Mozilla added a privacy-enhancing feature to the Firefox browser over the summer that can help users block online advertisers from tracking them across the Internet. The feature is named First-Party Isolation (FPI) and was silently added to the Firefox browser in August, with the release of Firefox 55. FPI works by separating cookies on a per-domain basis. This is important because most online advertisers drop a cookie on the user's computer for each site the user visits and the advertisers loads an ad. With FPI enabled, the ad tracker won't be able to see all the cookies it dropped on that user's PC, but only the cookie created for the domain the user is currently viewing. This will force the ad tracker to create a new user profile for each site the user visits and the advertiser won't be able to aggregate these cookies and the user's browsing history into one big fat profile. This feature was first implemented in the Tor Browser, a privacy-focused fork of the Firefox browser managed by the Tor Project, where it is known as Cross-Origin Identifier Unlinkability. FPI was added to Firefox as part of the Tor Uplift project, an initiative to bolster the Firefox codebase with some of the Tor Browser's unique privacy-focused features. The feature is not enabled by default. Information on how to enable it is in the linked article.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Deep Learning Is Eating Software
    Pete Warden, engineer and CTO of Jetpac, shares his view on how deep learning is already starting to change some of the programming is done. From a blog post, shared by a reader last week: The pattern is that there's an existing software project doing data processing using explicit programming logic, and the team charged with maintaining it find they can replace it with a deep-learning-based solution. I can only point to examples within Alphabet that we've made public, like upgrading search ranking, data center energy usage, language translation, and solving Go, but these aren't rare exceptions internally. What I see is that almost any data processing system with non-trivial logic can be improved significantly by applying modern machine learning. This might sound less than dramatic when put in those terms, but it's a radical change in how we build software. Instead of writing and maintaining intricate, layered tangles of logic, the developer has to become a teacher, a curator of training data and an analyst of results. This is very, very different than the programming I was taught in school, but what gets me most excited is that it should be far more accessible than traditional coding, once the tooling catches up. The essence of the process is providing a lot of examples of inputs, and what you expect for the outputs. This doesn't require the same technical skills as traditional programming, but it does need a deep knowledge of the problem domain. That means motivated users of the software will be able to play much more of a direct role in building it than has ever been possible. In essence, the users are writing their own user stories and feeding them into the machinery to build what they want.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • The Secret to Tech's Next Big Breakthroughs? Stacking Chips
    Christopher Mims, writing for the Wall Street Journal: A funny thing is happening to the most basic building blocks of nearly all our devices. Microchips, which are usually thin and flat, are being stacked like pancakes (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled). Chip designers -- now playing with depth, not just length and width -- are discovering a variety of unexpected dividends in performance, power consumption and capabilities. Without this technology, the Apple Watch wouldn't be possible. Nor would the most advanced solid-state memory from Samsung, artificial-intelligence systems from Nvidia and Google, or Sony's crazy-fast next-gen camera. Think of this 3-D stacking as urban planning. Without it, you have sprawl -- microchips spread across circuit boards, getting farther and farther apart as more components are needed. But once you start stacking chips, you get a silicon cityscape, with everything in closer proximity. The advantage is simple physics: When electrons have to travel long distances through copper wires, it takes more power, produces heat and reduces bandwidth. Stacked chips are more efficient, run cooler and communicate across much shorter interconnections at lightning speed, says Greg Yeric, director of future silicon technology for ARM Research, part of microchip design firm ARM.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Spam Is Back
    Jon Christian, writing for The Outline: For a while, spam -- unsolicited bulk messages sent for commercial or fraudulent purposes -- seemed to be fading away. The 2003 CAN-SPAM Act mandated unsubscribe links in email marketing campaigns and criminalized attempts to hide the sender's identity, while sophisticated filters on what were then cutting-edge email providers like Gmail buried unwanted messages in out-of-sight spam folders. In 2004, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates told a crowd at the World Economic Forum that "two years from now, spam will be solved." In 2011, cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs noted that increasingly tech savvy law enforcement efforts were shutting down major spam operators -- including, alleged to be a major hub in a Russian digital criminal organization that was responsible for an estimated fifth of the world's spam. These efforts meant that the proportion of all emails that are spam has slowly fallen to a low of about 50 percent in recent years, according to Symantec research. But it's 2017, and spam has clawed itself back from the grave. It shows up on social media and dating sites as bots hoping to lure you into downloading malware or clicking an affiliate link. It creeps onto your phone as text messages and robocalls that ring you five times a day about luxury cruises and fictitious tax bills. Networks associated with the buzzy new cryptocurrency system Ethereum have been plagued with spam. Facebook recently fought a six-month battle against a spam operation that was administering fake accounts in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Last year, a Chicago resident sued the Trump campaign for allegedly sending unsolicited text message spam; this past November, ZDNet reported that voters were being inundated with political text messages they never signed up for. Apps can be horrid spam vectors, too. Repeated mass data breaches that include contact information, such as the Yahoo breach in which 3 billion user accounts were exposed, surely haven't helped. Meanwhile, you, me, and everyone we know is being plagued by robocalls.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Stock Music Artists Aren't Always Happy About How Their Music Is Used
    mirandakatz writes: If you're a stock music composer, you sign over the rights to whatever music you put up on a variety of hosting sites. That can get complicated -- especially when your music winds up being used to soundtrack hate speech. At Backchannel, Pippa Biddle dives into the knotty world of stock music, writing that stock music is 'a quick way for a talented musician to make a small buck. But there's a hidden cost: You lose control over where your work ends up. In hundreds, if not thousands, of cases, a tune becomes the backing track to hate speech or violent videos. Often such use violates the license the buyer agrees to when purchasing the track. But nobody reads the licenses -- and, more importantly, no one enforces them.'

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Security Problems Are Primarily Just Bugs, Linus Torvalds Says
    Linus Torvalds, in his signature voice: Some security people have scoffed at me when I say that security problems are primarily "just bugs." Those security people are f*cking morons. Because honestly, the kind of security person who doesn't accept that security problems are primarily just bugs, I don't want to work with. Security firm Errata Security has defended Linus's point of view.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • We Can't Trust Facebook To Regulate Itself, Says Former Operations Manager
    schwit1 shares an op-ed on the New York Times by Sandy Parakilas, a former operations manager on the platform team at Facebook: Sandy Parakilas led Facebook's efforts to fix privacy problems on its developer platform in advance of its 2012 initial public offering. What I saw from the inside was a company that prioritized data collection from its users over protecting them from abuse. As the world contemplates what to do about Facebook in the wake of its role in Russia's election meddling, it must consider this history. Lawmakers shouldn't allow Facebook to regulate itself. Because it won't (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). Facebook knows what you look like, your location, who your friends are, your interests, if you're in a relationship or not, and what other pages you look at on the web. This data allows advertisers to target the more than one billion Facebook visitors a day. It's no wonder the company has ballooned in size to a $500 billion behemoth in the five years since its I.P.O. The more data it has on offer, the more value it creates for advertisers. That means it has no incentive to police the collection or use of that data -- except when negative press or regulators are involved. Facebook is free to do almost whatever it wants with your personal information, and has no reason to put safeguards in place. The company just wanted negative stories to stop. It didn't really care how the data was used. Facebook took the same approach to this investigation as the one I observed during my tenure: react only when the press or regulators make something an issue, and avoid any changes that would hurt the business of collecting and selling data. This makes for a dangerous mix: a company that reaches most of the country every day and has the most detailed set of personal data ever assembled, but has no incentive to prevent abuse. Facebook needs to be regulated more tightly, or broken up so that no single entity controls all of its data. The company won't protect us by itself, and nothing less than our democracy is at stake.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Intel Planning To End Legacy BIOS Support By 2020, Report Says
    Michael Larabel, writing for Phoronix: Intel is planning to end "legacy BIOS" support in their new platforms by 2020 in requiring UEFI Class 3 or higher. Making rounds this weekend is a slide deck from the recent UEFI Plugfest. Brian Richardson of Intel talked about the "last mile" barriers to removing legacy BIOS support from systems. By 2020, they will be supporting no less than UEFI Class 3, which means only UEFI support and no more legacy BIOS or CSM compatibility support mode. But that's not going to force on UEFI Secure Boot unconditionally: Secure Boot enabled is considered UEFI Class 3+. Intel hasn't removed legacy BIOS / CSM support yet due to many customers' software packages still relying upon legacy BIOS, among other reasons. Removing the legacy BIOS support will mitigate some security risks, needs less validation by vendors, allows for supporting more modern technologies, etc.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Critics Debate Autism's Role in James Damore's Google Memo
    James Damore "wants you to know he isn't using autism as an excuse," reports a Silicon Valley newspaper, commenting on the fired Google engineer's new interview with the Guardian. But they also note that "he says being on the spectrum means he 'sees things differently'," and the weekend editor at the entertainment and "geek culture" site The Mary Sue sees a problem in the way that interview was framed.  It's the author of this Guardian article, not James Damore himself, who makes the harmful suggestion that Damore's infamous Google memo and subsequent doubling-down are somehow caused by his autism... It frames autism as some sort of basic decency deficiency, rather than a neurological condition shared by millions of people.... This whole article is peppered with weird suggestions like this, suggestions which detract from an otherwise interesting piece.. All these weird suggestions that autism and misogyny/bigotry are somehow tied (as if autistic feminists didn't exist) do unfortunately detract from one of the article's great points.  Having worked at a number of companies large and small, I can at least anecdotally confirm that their diversity training rarely includes a discussion of neurodiversity, and when it does, it's not particularly empathetic or helpful... Many corporate cultures are plainly designed for neurotypical extroverts and no one else -- and that should change. I really do think Lewis meant well in pointing that out. But the other thing that should change? The way the media scapegoats autism as a source of anti-social behavior.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • 10-Year-Old Boy Cracks the Face ID On Both Parents' IPhone X
    An anonymous reader writes: A 10-year-old boy discovered he could unlock his father's phone just by looking at it. And his mother's phone too. Both parents had just purchased a new $999 iPhone X, and apparently its Face ID couldn't tell his face from theirs. The unlocking happened immediately after the mother told the son that "There's no way you're getting access to this phone."  Experiments suggest the iPhone X was confused by the indoor/nighttime lighting when the couple first registered their faces. Apple's only response was to point to their support page, which states that "the statistical probability is different...among children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed. If you're concerned about this, we recommend using a passcode to authenticate." The boy's father is now offering this advice to other parents. "You should probably try it with every member of your family and see who can access it."  And his son just "thought it was hilarious."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Upsurge in Big Earthquakes Predicted for 2018
    hcs_$reboot writes: "Scientists say the number of severe quakes is likely to rise strongly next year because of a periodic slowing of the Earth's rotation," reports the Guardian. "They believe variations in the speed of Earth's rotation could trigger intense seismic activity, particularly in heavily populated tropical regions. Although such fluctuations in rotation are small -- changing the length of the day by a millisecond -- they could still be implicated in the release of vast amounts of underground energy, it is argued."   The theory goes that the slowdown creates a shift in the shape of the Earth's solid iron and nickel "inner core" which, in turn, impacts the liquid outer core on which the tectonic plates that form the Earth's crust rest. The impact is greater on the tectonic plates near some of the Earth's most populous regions along the Equator, home to about a billion people. Scientists from the University of Colorado looked at all earthquakes registering 7 and up on the Richter scale since the turn of the 20th century. In this timeframe, the researchers discovered five periods of significantly greater seismic activity.  The seismic activity follows a five-year period of slowing in the earth's rotatio, and "This link is particularly important because Earth's rotation began one of its periodic slowdowns more than four years ago," according to the article.   "The Earth is offering us a five-year heads-up on future earthquakes," says one of the researchers, adding "The inference is clear. Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Net Neutrality is Essentially Unassailable, Argues Billionaire Barry Diller
    An anonymous reader quotes Yahoo Finance: The billionaire media mogul behind such popular sites as Expedia, and HomeAdvisor has a one-word forecast for traditional media conglomerates concerned about being replaced by tech giants: serfdom. "They, like everyone else, are kind of going to be serfs on the land of the large tech companies," IAC chairman Barry Diller said... That's because Google and Facebook not only have such massive user bases but also dominate online advertising. "Google and Facebook are consolidating," Diller said. "They are the only mass advertising mediums we have..." He expects Facebook, Google and maybe Amazon to face government regulation, simply because of their immense size. "At a certain point in size, you must," he said. "It's inevitable."  He did, however, outline one positive for Big Tech getting so gargantuan. Big Telecom no longer has the economic leverage to roll back today's net-neutrality norms, in which internet providers don't try to charge sites extra for access to their subscribers. "I think it's hard to overturn practically," he said. "It is the accepted system."  Even if the U.S. government takes moves to fight net neutrality, Diller told CNBC that "I think it is over... It is [the] practice of the world... You're still going to be able to push a button and publish to the world, without anybody in between asking you for tribute. I think that is now just the way things are done. I don't think it can be violated no matter what laws are back."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • First Ever Anti-Aging Gene Discovered In a Secluded Amish Community
    "This is one of the first clear-cut genetic mutations in human beings that acts upon aging and aging-related disease," Dr. Douglas Vaughan, a medical researcher at Northwestern University, told Newsweek. schwit1 quotes Science Alert: As far as we know, it looks like the only community in the world known to harbour it is an Old Order Amish community living in Indiana... Vaughan's team tested 177 people from the Amish community of Berne, Indiana, and found 43 people with one mutated SERPINE1 gene copy. Compared to the general Amish population, these 43 people had a 10 percent longer lifespan, and 10 percent longer telomeres (the DNA-protecting structures at the ends of our chromosomes that unravel when the cells reach the end of their lifespans). They also showed lower incidence of diabetes and lower insulin fasting levels. On top of that, the study showed a small indication of lower blood pressure and potentially more flexible blood vessels.   "For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes," said Vaughan. These people also had 50 percent lower PAI-1 levels than average. It's not known exactly how PAI-1 contributes to aging, but it does play a role in a process called cellular senescence. This is when cells are no longer able to replicate, so they just go dormant. This contributes to the effects of aging.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • What They Don't Tell You About Climate Change
    Countries are scrambling to limit the rise in the earth's temperature to just two degrees by the end of this century. But Slashdot reader dryriver shares an article titled "What They Don't Tell You About Climate Change." No, it is not that Climate Change is a hoax or that the climate science gets it all wrong and Climate Change isn't happening. According to the Economist, it is rather that "Fully 101 of the 116 models the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses to chart what lies ahead assume that carbon will be taken out of the air in order for the world to have a good chance of meeting the 2C target."   In other words, reducing carbon emissions around the world, creating clean energy from wind farms, driving electrical cars and so forth is not going to suffice to meet agreed upon climate targets at all. Negative emissions are needed. The world is going to overshoot the "maximum 2 degrees of warming" target completely unless someone figures out how to suck as much as 810 Billion Tonnes of carbon out of Earth's atmosphere by 2100 using some kind of industrial scale process that currently does not exist.  That breaks down to 1,785,742,000,000,000 pounds of CO2, "as much as the world's economy produces in 20 years," according to the Economist.  "Putting in place carbon-removal schemes of this magnitude would be an epic endeavour even if tried-and-tested techniques existed. They do not."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Bitcoin Prices Surge 26% in November, Pass $8000
    Bitcoin's value has increased more than 26% in less than three weeks, writes Bloomberg. An anonymous reader quotes their report:   Bitcoin topped $8,000 for the first time, as investors set aside technology concerns that had derailed its advance earlier this month. Bitcoin rose 4.8 percent to $8,071.05 as of 7:17 a.m. Sydney time on Monday. It's now up more than 700 percent this year after shrugging off a tumble of as much as 29 percent earlier this month. It's been a tumultuous year for the largest cryptocurrency, with three separate slumps of more than 25 percent in value all giving way to subsequent rallies.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Nathan Barley blamed for global GDP slump
    Clueless freelancers and the productivity puzzle
    Nathan Barley, the insufferable "self-facilitating media node" of Charlie Brooker's TV series, may be a prime culprit for Britain's lack of productivity growth.…

  • OnePlus 5T is like the little sister you always feared was the favourite
    This time, the flagship challenger gets it right
    Review OnePlus has settled into the groove of releasing two flagships a year, and this Christmas-time 5T reiteration may well piss off the fans who bought the OnePlus 5 released in the summer. It's better all round, sports the 6-inch 18:9 OLED that's a genuine flagship display... and it's the same price as before. So 499 buys you some absurd specs: 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and 449 6GB/64GB.…

  • It's 2017, and command injection is still the top threat to web apps
    Open Web Application Security Project updated 'top-ten risks' lands on Monday, but we found a late, late draft
    The Open Web Application Security Project will on Monday, US time, reveal its annual analysis of web application risks, but The Register has sniffed out the final draft of the report and can report that it has found familiar attacks top its charts, but exotic exploits are on the rise.…

  • F5 DROWNing, not waving, in crypto fail
    Bleichenbacher, the name that always chills cryptographers' blood
    If you're an F5 BIG-IP sysadmin, get patching: there's a bug in the company's RSA implementation that can give an attacker access to encrypted messages.…

  • User experience test tools: a privacy accident waiting to happen
    Researchers watch publishers watching you, ignore privacy settings, run over mere HTTP
    Researchers working on browser fingerprinting found themselves distracted by a much more serious privacy breach: analytical scripts siphoning off masses of user interactions.…

  • Some 'security people are f*cking morons' says Linus Torvalds
    Linux Lord fires up over proposal to secure Linux by shutting down wonky processes
    Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has offered some very choice words about different approaches security, during a discussion about whitelisting features proposed for version 4.15 of the Linux kernel.…

  • nbn™ to ISPs: share your speeds or we'll share 'em for you
    nbn™ financials, the speed scandal, and 'what millennials like part 1,096'
    NBN Week Australia's National Broadband Network “speed scandal” was in the news again last week, as nbn™, the company building and operating the network, suggested it should publish its internal speed data to resolve the issue.…

  • Massive US military social media spying archive left wide open in AWS S3 buckets
    Dozens of terabytes exposed, your tax dollars at work
    Three misconfigured AWS S3 buckets have been discovered wide open on the public internet containing "dozens of terabytes" of social media posts and similar pages – all scraped from around the world by the US military to identify and profile persons of interest.…

  • New UK aircraft carrier to be commissioned on Pearl Harbor anniversary
    You know, the surprise attack intended to sink aircraft carriers
    Her Majesty the Queen will commission the new British aircraft carrier named after her into Royal Navy service in three weeks – on the anniversary of an infamous naval battle where numerous warships were sunk.…

  • So what does EE's 5G test really signal?
    Over-hyped tech inches a step closer... maybe
    Brit mobile operator EE has proudly announced the success of a "breakthrough test" for 5G, but what do these tests signal for future 5G usage?…

  • UK private sector joins public in... Escape from DXC Max
    Aviva and Centrica wanted cloud giant love. 1 outsourcer... wasn't ready... to let go
    Updated Insurer Aviva and energy supplier Centrica are the latest big customers to indicate plans to ditch outsourcing giant DXC Technologies, The Register can reveal.…

  • It's artificial! It's intelligent! It's in my home! And it's gone bonkers!
    Discoursing Descartes with my robotic pet
    Something for the Weekend, Sir? I have awoken to the sounds of electronic growling. Making my way downstairs, I discover teethmarks in the bannister, a pool of oil by the back door and the remains of a torn-open jumbo box of AA longlifes in the kitchen.… offline for now

  • LWJGL 3.1.4 Adds Zstd & LZ4 Bindings
    A new release is available of the Lightweight Java Game Library 3 (LWJGL) that is popular among game developers using the Java programming language...

  • Intel Ironlake Receives Patches For RC6 Power Savings
    Intel Ironlake "Gen 5" graphics have been around for seven years now since being found in Clarkdale and Arrandale processors while finally now the patches are all worked out for enabling RC6 power-savings support under Linux...

  • Funtin SFF-8639: U.2 NVMe SSD To PCI-E Card Adapter
    With our review this week of the Intel Optane SSD 900P 280GB U.2 SSD there was a discussion in the forums about using U.2 SSDs in desktop systems, etc. If your system doesn't have a U.2 slot, an adapter like the Funtin SFF-8639 makes it easy to pop the SSD into a PCI-E x4 slot...

  • Linux 4.16 Will Be Another Big Cycle For Intel's DRM Driver
    We are just through week one of two for the Linux 4.15 merge window followed by eight or so weeks after that before this next kernel is officially released. But Intel's open-source driver developers have already begun building up a growing stack of changes for Linux 4.16 when it comes to their DRM graphics driver...

  • Radeon VCN Encode Support Lands In Mesa 17.4 Git
    It's an exciting day for open-source Radeon Linux users today as besides the AMDGPU DC pull request (albeit still unmerged as of writing), Radeon VCN encoding support has landed in Mesa Git...

  • Linux 4.15 Gets Fixed To Report Current CPU Frequency Via /proc/cpuinfo
    A change recently in the Linux kernel led the CPU MHz reported value via /proc/cpuinfo to either be the nominal CPU frequency or the most recently requested frequency. This behavior changed compared to pre-4.13 kernels while now it's been fixed up to report the current CPU frequency...

  • Linux File-System Benchmarks On The Intel Optane 900P SSD
    Earlier this week I presented out initial Linux benchmarks of the Intel Optane 900P SSD with this 3D XPoint memory U.2 solid-state drive delivering incredible performance figures. Those tests were done with EXT4 while in this article are more tests with other mainline Linux file-systems and also testing some of the different mount options.


  • Master & Dynamic’s concrete speaker is equal parts sound and spectacle

    If you're a fan of well-designed headphones that have a unique aesthetic, Master & Dynamic should be at the top of your list. The company has been pairing colored leather and metal accents for years now, creating some of the best looking audio accessories available. Earlier this year, the company ventured into another product category: wireless speakers. In true M&D fashion, it didn't cut corners on design, materials or sound and even opted to make its first model out of concrete. Sure, it's been done before, but concrete speakers are still a novelty. It looks great and, as I discovered after spending several weeks with one, the MA770 is more than capable when it comes to audio quality. But, it's not for everyone.

    For the MA770, Master & Dynamic teamed up with Sir David Adjaye, an architect you may know from his work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. The collaboration resulted in a speaker that exhibits physical weight and dramatic angles, so the ties to Adjaye's work are obvious. To construct the MA770, the company developed a unique type of concrete to increase the material's sound dampening properties and overall acoustics. The shell is also one solid molded piece.

    As you might expect, a speaker made out of concrete is pretty heavy -- 35 pounds to be exact. It's definitely a "lift with your legs, not with your back" type situation. The extra heft means you have to give some thought to where the MA770 will sit. Most bookcases and tables will have enough strength to support the audio gear, but you'll need to look beyond a flimsy shelving unit or a small mantle. For me, a dresser was a good spot to accommodate the overall size of the speaker and give it the recommended clearance from the wall. The speaker is much larger than something from the likes of Sonos, Sony and others so placement took some planning. The MA770 is more comparable in size to Bang & Olufsen's BeoPlay A6, another speaker that will put a dent in your wallet.

    A concrete speaker is something you're going to want to show off in your home, and Master & Dynamic is well aware of that fact. On the face of the MA770, there's a magnetic metal grille that's easily removed to expose the device's dual speakers and single tweeter. You can see through the grille already, but just in case you want to display that bare concrete facade, you're able to do so. Along the bottom of the speaker's front is a metal strip that holds the MA770's four onboard buttons and an LED indicator for which connection is active. The controls are for volume, play/pause and selecting a source and that light will tell you if you've picked Cast, Bluetooth, aux or optical to play your tunes. Since most music apps have audio controls, I only had to get up to change the source rather than to tweak the volume or pause a song.

    Once you've found a place to put it, the MA770 is easy to set up. All you have to do is plug it in and download the Google Home app on a phone or tablet. Since Master & Dynamic's speaker uses Chromecast for its WiFi connectivity, you'll need the Google app to get it connected to your home network. In my testing, the speaker was recognized immediately and the setup was complete in less than five minutes. Sometimes connected speakers can take a while to get going or require multiple attempts to get them online. That wasn't the case here, thankfully.

    From there, broadcasting audio via WiFi to the MA770 is a matter of firing up your favorite compatible audio app and hitting the Cast button. For me, that's a mix of Spotify (through Spotify Connect) and PocketCasts. Bluetooth is available for all of the options that don't play nice with Chromecast, like Apple Music. It works fine, but I rarely used it. And let's face it: If your go-to audio apps are Chromecast-enabled, there's little reason to.

    You can also opt to use two MA770 units as a stereo pair for both wired and wireless audio. I wasn't able to test this out as I only had one unit on hand, but if you feel the need to splurge for two, just know this feature is available. In terms of wired connectivity, there's a 3.5mm aux input around back as well as an optical input. Unfortunately, I'm not (yet) a turntable owner so I wasn't able to put the MA770 through its paces with vinyl.

    If the audio quality I experienced over Chromecast is any indication, you can expect Master & Dynamic's trademark sound no matter the input method. It's an audio profile that's more "natural," than Vizio and Sony speakers I've tested. I've always liked it on the company's headphones, especially when a lot of other options tend to overly favor the low end. There's also 100W of power at work, so the concrete speaker can blast those tunes at a high volume without sacrificing overall quality.

    Most genres shine on the MA770, but I found bluegrass, jazz and rock sounded best. The Punch Brothers and Miles Davis especially since they have a ton of detail that can get lost on lesser speakers and headphones. The music was crisp and clear, which allowed the finer points to come through. Indeed, the more conservative approach to bass does have an effect when listening to hip-hop and other genres that need serious low end. Don't get me wrong, Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels and Big K.R.I.T. all sound great, but a little more bass could make the MA770 better suited for every genre instead of a few standouts. Sonos is still my top choice -- the sound quality you get for the price is unmatched. With a smidge more bass, the MA770 could put up more of a fight, but as it stands, Sonos is still the first on my list.

    Of course, the most pressing issue for many would-be buyers is the price. The MA770 costs $1,800, putting it on a Band & Olufsen level of luxury. Sure it sounds really good, has a unique look and the allure of using a rather unique material, but that's a lot of money to drop on one piece of audio gear. Even if the price tag is a deal breaker for most people, the MA770 is a lofty first voyage into speakers for Master & Dynamic, and one that checks all the boxes in terms of design, audio and ease of use.

    Indeed, Master & Dynamic will likely introduce more speakers down the road and the financial commitment should be a little easier to swallow. Consider B&O: The company built its reputation on stellar audio at astronomical prices before introducing the more consumer friendly BeoPlay line, with a variety of speaker options from $2,699 down to $169. The options may not be as diverse as B&O's lineup, but hopefully we'll see some more affordable speakers from Master & Dynamic soon enough. Until then, most will choose to admire the MA770 from afar. If the price isn't a concern, the company is showing off the speaker at its first retail location in NYC's SoHo neighborhood from November 30th through December 24th. You can at least see it in the flesh before you take a chunk out of your savings account.

    Photos by Edgar Alvarez

  • What we're buying: Lightroom on a new iPhone, Google's Pixel 2 cases

    This month, we're making the most of our devices, whether that's by testing mobile photo-editing apps, trying out an iPad keyboard that matches its surroundings, or simply just laying down a little too much cash for a pretty-looking Pixel 2 phone case.

    Timothy J. Seppala
    Associate Editor

    I've been using Adobe's Lightroom on my phone for a few years now. It's never been the most user-friendly image-editing suite for iPhone (that'd be Google's Snapseed), but it makes up for that shortcoming with sheer power. Adobe focused on adding incredibly useful features to the mobile app, like support for both editing and capturing uncompressed RAW files and high-dynamic-range (HDR) photos.

    Since I upgraded to the iPhone 8 Plus, the app has gotten even more useful. This is mainly because of the extra processing power afforded by the A11 Bionic processor. While Apple crowed at launch about how much games and AR would benefit from the chip, what won me over was that now it takes only a few seconds to export an edited RAW file at max resolution. On my old iPhone 6s, that would take anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds. In that time, I can export and upload five or six photos to Instagram on Apple's second-newest phone. What's more, on my old phone, using the "professional" mode brought everything to a grinding halt. Setting exposure and ISO was a chore, and a handful of adjustments were grayed out because the hardware wasn't capable enough. Dragging the white-balance selector around was a stuttery experience too.

    That isn't the case with the 8 Plus, but I'm usually getting better results shooting in auto or HDR mode; I shoot only full manual with my Nikon, but I'm fine letting the computer take over on my phone.

    More than that, even with the 8 Plus, making adjustments to ISO and shutter speed sometimes brings the app to a crawl. It's intermittent, though, and I rarely use the pro setting, so it's not a huge deal. Given how buggy iOS 11 has been for me, I'm willing to blame the system software and not Lightroom.

    This brings us to HDR. Apple has made huge strides with the iOS camera app's HDR setting (it's turned on by default out of the box) and, depending on the use case, it often produces better photos than Lightroom does -- especially in low-light situations. That probably has a lot to do with the new hardware's dedicated image signal processor. Snapping a photo at a concert using Lightroom results in an unusable image full of purple grain where the shadows are, and outdoor shots at dusk typically don't fare a whole lot better.

    For instance, a photo taken of the gaping hole in my parents' garage roof blew out all the highlights and turned everything a sickly yellow, while the default camera app looked approximately like what I saw onscreen when I hit the shutter. Daylight HDR photos usually look overprocessed and unnatural, but every now and again the shadows and highlights aren't blown out and I get better results than with the iOS camera.

    As far as actual editing goes, Lightroom is as good as it ever was, if not a little better, thanks to the device I'm using it on. Aside from the speed improvements I mentioned earlier, editing on the 8 Plus' bigger screen is a lot more enjoyable than on my 6s. It's also easier to see fine details and how different adjustments like sharpening or clarity affect them. Holding my phone in landscape makes editing an even more comfortable experience. Editing tools tuck into the right rail and expand when I tap on them, and disappear just as quickly.

    I keep mobile photos and shots taken with my Nikon camera siloed off from one another and typically don't edit iPhone shots anywhere but on my phone. And for that, Lightroom CC is great. It doesn't quite allow for the more stylized edits I favor for my DSLR stuff, but for throwing a set of pictures to Instagram after an impromptu photo walk through my neighborhood, it does the trick. And if I want to get really crazy once I get back to my laptop, I can always use the Lightroom camera to grab some RAW files. Will the app's shortcomings, like wonky HDR, stop me from using it? No, because for me it's still better than Snapseed's mostly gimmicky editing tools and iOS' bare-bones options for tweaking.

    Rob LeFebvre
    Contributing Editor

    There are plenty of reasons to use an external keyboard with an iPad, including better accuracy and comfort when typing for extended periods. I have my favorites, of course, like the Logitech K811, which can hold up to three different devices in its memory. However, being able to physically attach one onto an iPad is my own personal holy grail for iOS-capable input devices. The Brydge 10.5 iPad Pro keyboard is what I've been looking for -- an input device that makes my iPad look like a laptop with a good-looking, protective form factor. It has backlit keys, doubles as a clamshell case for your 10.5-inch iPad Pro and comes in space gray, silver, gold or rose gold to match the finish on your precious iOS device, turning it into a MacBook mini of sorts. The keyboard has the same thickness and rounded design as the iPad Pro 10.5-inch, making it the perfect companion for my tablet of choice. It also works with any other device as a standard Bluetooth keyboard, of course.

    The Brydge keyboard has nicely spaced keys, and, while they're not full-size, they are easy to hit and use, even when touch typing. The keys are responsive, and the F and J keys both have a little raised bump on the lower half so you know where to place your fingers for touch typing -- just like a MacBook.

    At first, I had a little trouble hitting them with enough force to register a key press, but I was able to train my fingers to do so within just a few minutes. There are three brightness settings (low, medium and high) for the backlit keyboard so you can match the brightness of the keyboard to the ambient light from your iPad and the room. There's even a small handrest below the keys themselves -- not enough room to rest my admittedly large hands in their entirety, but roomy enough to rest part of them during long typing sessions.

    Why not just get an Apple-made Smart Keyboard, though, which is thinner and adds less weight to your iPad? Well, aside from the extra $20 it costs and the lack of backlit keys, Apple's own input device is pretty flimsy in comparison. Sure, it's more spill-resistant than the Brydge, but the Smart Keyboard isn't really my favorite way to type on an iPad when it's in my lap; it feels flimsy. The Brydge, however, is made of the same metal construction as the iPad itself. The Brydge's hinge keeps the iPad at the exact angle I want without flopping around at all. I'm able to use it on my lap when I sit with my legs extended to my coffee table in front of me (my usual posture), as well as in a cross-legged position while sitting on my bed or in a large chair. I can also see it being pretty fantastic for tiny lap trays in the coach section of an airliner, where a larger MacBook might have trouble fitting in (especially if you're behind one of those travelers who insist on leaning their seat back during the flight).

    The Brydge feels so much like typing on my MacBook Pro that I have to keep reminding myself to touch the screen and not search for a touchpad. It's a solid, useful, stylish peripheral that has boosted my writing productivity on my iPad.
    Mat Smith, Engadget

    Mat Smith
    Bureau Chief, UK

    I like to hop between Android and iOS phones, but one of the minor frustrations I've found with Google-powered smartphones is the relative lack of case options. If it's not an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy slab, there's often not much to choose from, or it's a bunch of unremarkable plastic or rubbery sleeves. I wish I were brave enoughto carry my phones around "nude," without a case, but that's not going to happen.

    Imagine my surprise, then, when Google's own Pixel 2 family launched with official case options that are actually attractive, eye-catching and well, desirable. When all phones are mostly all the same -- slabs of metal and plastic in metallic hues -- the case represents one last attempt to deliver some kind of self-expression. I have the completely black Pixel 2, which means that my case, the "midnight" color, is the only way I can get a splash of neon orange on my power button. (The "cement" number also tempted me with its minty blue button.)

    The case is downright tactile: the outside is a knitted fabric slightly similar to the Google Home Mini speaker, a nylon-polyester material with a pixelated look (get it?) that stands out. It's still a solid case, and that does mean it adds a bit of thickness to either the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL, but neither of these phones was particularly chunky to begin with -- it's not a major complaint, but if you wanted a slender case for your phone that only minutely affects its thickness, this isn't the one for you. Cleverly, despite its rigidity, these cases are compatible with the squeeze-to-launch Google Assistant motion. I rarely use the function, but I was surprised that something so solid could still deliver my squeezing efforts. That "welded silicone" logo on the rear of the case doesn't come cheap ($40 / 35), but the fabric case is now making my Pixel 2 a conversation point. And it's a positive one.

    "IRL" is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they're buying, using, playing and streaming.

  • Chrome OS will let you reply to messages from notifications

    You've had the option to reply to message notifications on Android for years, so why can't you do that on your shiny new Chromebook? You can soon. Google has started implementing support for in-line replies to messages from notifications. Much as on Android, you can respond to a message from a supporting app (Hangouts is one example) in the pop-up box rather than switching tasks entirely and losing your focus.

    The feature isn't yet included in public builds, and it's clearly unfinished. Google itself warns that there aren't even animations and a "submit" icon to send a message with a click. It'll likely take weeks before you can easily try this yourself. When it does arrive, though, it should make your life considerably easier if you want to keep a conversation going while you're in the midst of a Netflix marathon.

    Via: Chrome Story, 9to5Google

    Source: Chromium Gerrit

  • What you missed at last week's Engadget Experience

    Engadget has been around for 13 years. If you asked me when I joined in 2011, or the site's founders in 2004, how they expected this website to evolve, I'm sure none of us would have guessed that we'd one day be able to call ourselves art curators. But this is 2017, and in the years since it launched, Engadget has changed. No longer do we restrict ourselves to just hardware or even software. The Engadget of today is just as interested in robots, AI, gaming, space travel, design, electric cars, virtual reality, augmented reality, even mixed reality. We cover art, too, as it relates to things like games, storytelling in VR and technology in pop culture. Tech is everywhere now, and we're a more well-rounded publication because of it.

    But back to the art curation. Earlier this year, we received what may as well have been a blank check from our parent company. It's not every day that we receive a windfall, so we decided to go big -- and get a little weird in the process. Our vision: The Engadget Experience, an event where we would put on an art exhibition, comprised of immersive-tech pieces that we commissioned ourselves. We put out a call to artists, promising to award five grants worth $100,000 apiece.

    The response was tremendous -- all told, we received more than 300 applications. And we can't say we were surprised: This was the biggest prize pot in this space, and at a time when arts funding is generally seeing cuts. Sifting through those submissions was time-consuming -- many of the applications were lengthy, and described concepts that hadn't yet been attempted -- but with the help of four guest judges we narrowed the list down to the five on display last week. Would that we had even more space, and even more money: There were many proposals we loved that didn't make the cut.

    If you were able to join us in LA last Tuesday, thanks! We loved seeing crowds of people listening to panels and waiting in line to check out each of the interactive installations. If you didn't happen to be in the area, we can only hope that we'll have a chance to do something like this again one day. In the meantime, we've put together a recap video above, and as this week unfolds, we'll be debuting short documentaries that were meant to showcase our grant winners' work, particularly for those who weren't able to see it in person.

    As you'll see, these projects are diverse in nature, but if one theme unites them, it's this: The technology and art worlds often operate apart from one another, in silos, but weird and beautiful things can happen when the two sides are in conversation. We want that conversation to continue, every day, on Engadget.

  • IHOP will deliver your pancakes in select cities

    IHOP 'N GO is the International House of Pancakes' online ordering service that was in a limited test phase earlier this year. Now, the breakfast food chain is rolling out the program nationwide. Starting today, most US restaurants will accept online to-go orders placed at IHOP also plans on rolling out a mobile app by the end of the year, as well as adding delivery service through and DoorDash. That program is being tested in select cities in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Utah.

    Online ordering is now available at over 1,700 US locations. It's not clear when delivery will roll out on a nationwide basis, but if you're ordering online for the first time, you can receive $5 off an order of $25 or more with the code IHOPNGO.

    Earlier in 2017, the pancake giant introduced custom packaging that was designed to ensure that to-go patrons would receive the same quality food that they were used to enjoying in restaurants. The company's patented packaging keeps food warm longer and allows for easy transport with minimal sliding.

    IHOP certainly isn't the first chain restaurant to add delivery to its roster of services. Fast food eateries such as Five Guys and Chipotle have experimented with delivery by partnering with various websites, including DoorDash, Amazon and Facebook. It's not a surprise that IHOP wants to get in on the action and deliver fluffy, delicious pancakes to houses across the country.

  • Roomba robotic vacuums now follow IFTTT instructions

    If Roomba vacuums are going to feel like they're truly part of your connected home, they need to do more than dutifully clean your floors on a set schedule. Thankfully, iRobot is helping them do just that. It just added IFTTT "recipes" that tell Roomba robots when to clean or to interact with other devices. You can tell your robovac to start cleaning when you leave or stop when you get home, for starters. However, the cleverest tricks come when the robot interacts with the outside world. You can tweet to your Roomba to start a command, or have it post to Facebook or Twitter when it's done. You can even have it flash your Hue lights or play music (on Android devices) when it's finished, in case there's something you need to do immediately afterwards.

    Other IFTTT recipes include cleaning before a calendar event (important for that big dinner party), pausing your Roomba during a call and notifying you when there are new iRobot actions and applets. The company is hinting at more in-depth actions, as well -- imagine your robot cleaning more frequently when the weather forecast mentions high pollen levels.

    Between this and voice assistant support (Roombas can respond to both Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant), it's clear iRobot is feeling the heat from competitors that increasingly tout similar features. IFTTT isn't as mainstream as controlling a robot vacuum with an Echo speaker, but it gives power users a better reason to choose a Roomba over the alternatives.

    Via: TechCrunch

    Source: IFTTT

  • 'Dota 2' and 'League of Legends' players might be smarter than you

    People who play multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA) like Dota 2 and in the UK concludes.

    The scientists found that as participants got older, shooter skills dropped. The performance pattern suggested that younger players had an advantage over older ones and that "performance decreases monotonically with age." Since MOBAs tend to favor more strategy and planning than twitch reflexes, this might not be too surprising. If you're having a hard time competing in TechRadar

    Source: PLOS One

  • You can now hail Uber rides for friends who don't have accounts

    If you use Uber often enough, you've probably had those moments where you wanted to hail a ride for someone else, such as a friend heading home from the bar. It isn't always easy to arrange a guest trip, however, which is why Uber has just introduced a feature that lets you order a ride on someone else's behalf, whether or not they have an account. You just have to specify the traveler's name, phone number and location -- you don't have to serve as a proxy, and the passenger doesn't need a smartphone app. This could be particularly helpful if you're hailing a ride for someone who may only have a basic cellphone.

    And if your would-be passengers do use Uber? You can help them, too. Uber now lets you gift credit in-app. You no longer have to buy a physical gift card. While there probably aren't many people eagerly anticipating Uber credit for the holidays, this could be helpful if you owe a ride to a friend.

    The company is making the pickup process easier at the same time. You now have a live location sharing feature (thankfully optional) that can tell your driver exactly where you are, which could help you avoid a cancellation if your street address and physical location don't quite line up. Also, the drivers themselves will be more conspicuous: Uber's color-coded Beacons are expanding to Chicago, New York City and San Francisco, making it easier to spot your car.

    The upgrades should be available starting today.

    Via: Mashable

    Source: Mashable, Uber Newsroom

  • UK parliamentary groups demand more rights for gig economy workers

    Two parliamentary groups have called on the UK government to introduce a new law that would extend the rights of Uber, Deliveroo and other "gig economy" workers. A year ago, two Uber drivers won an employment tribunal case that classified them as "workers," rather than "self-employed." That distinction might seem small, but legally it gave them the right to the national living wage, minimum levels of paid holiday, and basic protections against discrimination. Uber is trying to appeal the decision, but has so far been unsuccessful. Now, two select committees want everyone in the gig economy to be categorised as "workers" by default.

    "The onus would be on the firm to prove self-employed status, when disputed, rather than on the worker to do so through the courts," the Works and Pensions Committee and the Business Select Committee wrote in their report. Worker status is different from a traditional "employee," however. A full or part-time member of staff, for instance, is also entitled to sick and parental pay, minimum notice periods and protection against unfair dismissal. "Worker," then, is a vaguely defined middle ground in UK law. The two committees would like "increased clarity" so that employers, workers and legislators know exactly how the rules apply.

    Uber and Deliveroo, of course, are happy with the status quo. Typically, these companies draft contracts which don't have worker benefits in them — so drivers and couriers are automatically treated as self-employed. It's then down to the individual to take their employer to court and prove they deserve the worker classification. The two committees are now calling on the government to close this "loophole" and block "dubious business practices." "Recent court cases have exposed a pattern of companies using bogus self-employed status as a route to cheap labour," the MPs argue.

    Some people prefer to be labelled as self-employed, however, and the two committees don't want to put an "unnecessary burden" on this group. They do, however, want tribunals to be "more effective," with higher fines for companies that have lost similar cases in the past.

    While worker status is the bulk of their demands, the group is also calling on the government to tackle the "volatile availability" of gig economy work. If you're a Deliveroo courier, for instance, there's no guarantee that you'll be offered a delivery when you 'log on.' To combat this, the committees want a new "wage premium" for hours where work can't be guaranteed. Such a scheme could, MPs argue, encourage companies to provide staff rotas and other shift details. For Uber and Deliveroo, however, that seems unlikely given the fluidity of customer orders.

    Finally, the two parliamentary groups want the UK's enforcement bodies to have more power and resources. Fines should be increased and non-complying companies need to be "named and shamed," the politicians argue. "We need new laws but also much tougher enforcement," Rachel Reeves, an MP and chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee said, "to weed out those businesses seeking to exploit complex labour laws, and workers, for their competitive advantage."

    Via: BBC

    Source: Parliament.UK

  • Uber orders up to 24,000 Volvo SUVs for its self-driving fleet

    Uber has just taken another big step from a ride-sharing service to a transportation provider. It announced that it will buy up to 24,000 Volvo XC90s, marking the first major vehicle fleet purchase by a ride-hailing service. Uber will take delivery of the SUVs between 2019 and 2021, then equip them with its own sensors and tech, allowing it to do fully autonomous, driver-free passenger rides. "This new agreement puts us on a path toward mass-produced, self-driving vehicles at scale," Uber's Jeff Miller told Geely Auto, is using the proceeds to develop its own driverless cars. It has been working with Uber for nearly three years to develop a base vehicle with core autonomous tech, which the ride-sharing company could then customize as it sees fit. Uber has also made deals with Ford and Daimler.

    Uber aims to eventually give driver-free passenger rides, which is the only way such a service would be economically feasible. "It only becomes a commercial business when you can remove the vehicle operator from the equation," Miller told Reuters.

    However, Uber and everyone else are still far from that goal. Uber has been offering autonomous car rides in Ford Fusion and other vehicles for over a year in Pittsburgh. However, earlier this year, it admitted that human drivers had to take the wheel at least once every mile. City dwellers are also reportedly tired of the tests, as they haven't provided the promised jobs and other benefits. On top of all that, Uber is embroiled in a lawsuit with Google's Waymo, which accused it of stealing key self-driving tech.

    Source: Bloomberg

  • SoundCloud shows how its algorithms influence music streams

    SoundCloud wants the world (and, more importantly, record labels) to know that it can break artists too. And, who can blame it. It must sting when Apple Music declares that it helped Post Malone (who went viral on SoundCloud before invading the Billboard Hot 100) become a streaming record-breaker. And, when Spotify's Rap Caviar playlist (stocked with SoundCloud upstarts, like Lil' Uzi Vert and Lil' Pump) is hailed as a hit-maker. Its solution? A new stat that reveals the power of its algorithm in helping creators nab more plays. The update follows the insights SoundCloud added to its SoundCloud Pulse app and the web, including playlist streams and top listeners, cities and countries.

    This time, the stats are even more granular. Creators will be able to see how often their tracks are receiving plays through algorithmic discovery features, such as "related tracks," artist stations, and The Upload: SoundCloud's personalized new music feed.

    The problem for SoundCloud -- a home to underground artists -- is its inability to monetize. We're talking about a company that almost went under as recently as August - - it survived by laying off hundreds, replacing its CEO, and securing some much-needed cash. But, it also shot itself in the foot by failing to capitalize on the success of an entire genre built on the back of its service (SoundCoud Rap). And, it continues to suffer setbacks -- last month, Billboard announced that ad-supported streaming services (like SoundCloud and YouTube) will carry less weight compared to paid services when it comes to its chart rankings, starting in 2018. Meanwhile, SoundCloud's attempt at corralling paying subscribers (SoundCloud Go) was a mess.

    But, doubling down on analytics is a step in the right direction. At the very least, it should please uploaders (the lifeblood of the service). What's more, it could help position it as an influential distributor, in the vein of its popular rivals. Maybe it would be wise to ditch the video experiments, though, which didn't work for Spotify either.

  • 'A Wrinkle in Time' trailer shows off a planet-hopping adventure

    A Wrinkle in Time is a classic sci-fi novel that's being brought to the big screen by director Ava Duverney. The book, originally published in 1963, is by Madeleine L'Engle and features Meg Murry, a twelve-year-old girl who goes on a quest across the universe to save her father. A new trailer for the movie, which releases on March 9th, 2018, came out today.

    The trailer focuses on the science of the movie, which revolves around Meg's father's (Chris Pine) discovery. He found that there was a way to travel across great distances in the blink of an eye via a tesseract. However, he was captured by a dark force in the universe, and Meg (Storm Reid), along with her brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and friend Calvin O'Keefe (Levi Miller), must save him. They're aided by three witches, played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. Gugu Mbatha-Raw also costars in the movie as Meg's mother.

    Source: YouTube

  • Rare metals could make hydrogen-powered cars more efficient

    Despite being much faster to fuel up than EVs, hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars have largely failed to make an impact. There are various reasons for that like the crazy expensive infrastructure and hydrogen's explosiveness, but the main one is that from well to wheels, hydrogen cars are much less efficient than EVs. Now, researchers from Spain and Norway have unveiled a new method to convert methane to hydrogen with almost no loss of energy, perhaps making the vehicles (slightly) more feasible.

    The system builds on a hydrogen production process called steam reforming. During the process used today, 700 to 1,000 degree Celcius steam reacts with methane (natural gas) under high pressure in the presence of a catalyst like nickel or platinum, producing H2, water and CO2. The problem is that only 65-75 percent of the methane's energy is captured as hydrogen and the process still releases significant amounts of CO2 -- about half of what your car produces when burning gasoline.

    By adding a ceramic membrane to that process, the researchers were able to generate hydrogen from natural gas in one step "with near zero energy loss," they said. The membrane is made from barium, zirconia, yttrium and other rare elements, and the trick is to apply an electrical voltage difference across its surface. When you do that, the steam and methane mix will transit to the other side as protons, creating ionized hydrogen.

    The end result is concentrated, impurity-free hydrogen that's already compressed electrochemically at up to 50 bar (750 psi). With not much more treatment, it's then ready to be used in a fuel-cell vehicle or for industrial purposes. The team didn't mention how pollutive the process would be, but if less methane is required to make the same amount of hydrogen, it should produce less CO2. The system retains about 88 percent of the methane's energy, so "zero energy loss" is actually about a 12 percent loss.

    They also note that the process scales down well, meaning you could produce hydrogen from your own natural gas lines using a small generator. That would let you refuel a hydrogen car at home, much as you can with an EV, reducing the need for complex H2 fueling infrastructure.

    CoorsTek says that the well-to-wheel efficiency is 41 percent, and uses a spiffy infographic to show that's better than hybrids, gas cars and even EVs. That assumes, however, that your electricity is produced in a relatively inefficient way. It also notes that CO2 emissions for a car powered by the hydrogen would be a third less than an internal combustion engine and even slightly lower than an EV. That's not the case in nations that are powered mostly by renewable and nuclear energy, where the overall pollution from EVs would be much lower than any other vehicle.

    Hyperbole aside, the development could still have tremendous value. CoorsTek notes that hydrogen use for transportation is a pittance compared to the hundreds of tons used by fertilizer manufacturers and other industries. Any improvement in reforming, then, could substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, on a larger scale, it would be feasible to capture and store the CO2 underground, as it's completely separated from the hydrogen.

    On the other hand, there's a reason that oil companies support hydrogen cars and not EVs. Hydrogen fuel cells still consume a substantial amount of fossil fuels because of methane reforming, and at this point, the planet can't absorb a lot more greenhouse gases.

    Via: Green Optimist

    Source: CoorsTek

  • 'Valkyria Chronicles' sequel will go back to its strategy roots

    Sega is finally making a proper sequel to Valkyria Chronicles. The original, which came out in 2008, was a refreshing blend of top-down strategy and third-person warfare. You led rookie officer Welkin Gunther and his makeshift squad through a fantasy-infused version of World War II. The tactical combat and watercolor artwork made it a cult hit, however Sega (until now, anyway) didn't seem interested in a console follow-up. Instead, the publisher released two sequels for the PlayStation Portable and a panned spin-off, Valkyria Revolution, for the PS4 and Vita earlier this year.

    Enter Valkyria Chronicles 4. As out next March on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in Japan; an international release will presumably follow shortly after.

    Via: Kotaku

    Source: Valkyria Project

  • Pixel 2 buzzing noise will be fixed with upcoming update

    Not all of Google's Pixel-oriented updates have been as fun as the recent introduction of Lens to its flagship phones. Mainly, the big G has been scrambling to fix display and audio issues plaguing its big guns. The same goes for its upcoming update that seeks to vanquish the buzzing noise from certain Pixel 2 phones. If you heard the strange sound on your expensive new handset, help will arrive in the coming weeks, according to Google community manager Orrin Hancock.

    "Hey all, We're rolling out a software update in the coming weeks which eliminates a faint buzzing sound on some Pixel 2 devices when the phone is placed to your ear during a phone call," reads the note on the Pixel community forum, which is as straightforward a response as you're likely to get.

    Add that to the list of problems the company has been forced to dispel, including the clicking noise on both the Pixel and Pixel XL, the screen burn-in issue on the Pixel XL, and the larger handset's unresponsive edges, and some phones getting shipped without Android. This audio hiccup (which users have been sounding off on for weeks) serves as yet another reminder of the Pixel's troubled rollout. But, at least Google has been quick to deliver over-the-air updates.

    Source: Google

  • Honor’s 7X is a big, unremarkable mid-range phone

    It's no wonder Huawei's been the third-biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world for so long now. The company releases so many of the things, it's hard to keep track. Following Huawei's recent launch of the Mate 10, it's now sub-brand Honor's turn to welcome a new device to its ranks: the Honor 7X. It's designed to succeed the now year-old 6X, which offered dual-camera tricks at a mid-range price. The 7X has a key selling point of its own too, in the form of a big ol' 5.93-inch "FullView" display.

    Honor says it's basically managed to cram a nigh 6-inch display into the body of a 5.5-inch phone. What the company really means by that is that it's following the flagship trend of eliminating as much bezel as possible to flood the phone's face with pixels, hence the tagline "FullView." It's a good enough attempt but doesn't quite nail the edge-to-edge aesthetic of, say, the Galaxy S8. Truly bezel-less, the Honor 7X is not.

    Despite its size, the 7X is comfortable to use even if you can't get to every corner of the screen with just the one thumb. The phone is incredibly light considering its size, metal body and reinforced corners; and there are no sharp angles to dig into your palms as you shift it around to probe far-flung regions of the display. The 7X's 5.93-inch, 18:9, 2,160 x 1,080 LCD screen is undoubtedly the star of the show here. It's big and full of detail, and it cuts through even the brightest of daylight. It can also dim to as low as 3 nits so as not to tax your eyes when you're thumbing through the pages of Engadget while dozing under the covers.

    You could argue that the big screen is particularly media friendly, but you have to bear in mind that not a great deal is shot with an 18:9 aspect ratio. That means the majority of YouTube videos, as an example, are letterboxed to the left and right of the frame. The camera viewfinder takes up only two-thirds of the screen, for the same reason. There are a couple of features specific to this tall display, though. First, there's a one-key split-screen mode that works with a few messaging apps, including WhatsApp and the standard SMS client.

    Should you get a WhatsApp notification while you're watching a video, let's say, you can hit the Android multitasking key and it'll load the app up into another window, side-by-side style. It's kinda like Android's inline reply functionality, but more like Facebook Messenger's bubble, in that it lets you see all the recent chatter in the thread. Honor has also partnered with Gameloft so players of the mobile FPS title Modern Combat Versus get a wider 18:9 field of view while running 'n' gunning on the 7X.

    Don't let that big and bright display distract you from the Honor 7X's shortcomings, however. Don't get me wrong: There are other things to like about the handset, the camera being one of them. Or rather, the dual-camera arrangement, featuring one 16-megapixel color sensor paired with a 2-megapixel monochrome number and phase-detection autofocus to boot. Unlike some Huawei phones with a similar setup that can take native black-and-white shots, though, this 2MP sensor is purely capturing lighting and depth information. The data is used to improve contrast and low-light performance, as well as enable you to play around with depth of field to inject digital bokeh into your pics using the aperture setting.

    The camera app has various common modes you might expect, like HDR and slow-mo video, as well as an iPhone-esque portrait and wide-angle features. The 8MP front-facing camera also has a bokeh mode for introducing background blur into your selfies, and a basic effects catalog for adding animal face overlays, la Snapchat. Shots from my limited time with the 16MP camera bode well. They came out crisp, well-saturated and with the right amount of contrast more often than not.

    Sandwiched between the dual-camera situation and the big screen is Huawei's Kirin 659 octa-core processor (four 2.36GHz cores and four 1.7GHz cores), 4 gigs of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage -- you can choose to stick up to a 256GB microSD card or another SIM into the thing, but not both -- and a 3,340mAh battery. In short, all the power and space you'd want and expect in a mid-tier device.

    The main issue with the Honor 7X isn't what it's offering, but what it isn't. You get a fingerprint sensor, but no NFC chip, so you can forget about using Android Pay or whatever your preferred mobile wallet/payment service is. There's no waterproof rating to speak of, and the 7X opts for the older micro-USB port instead of USB-C. This isn't the biggest deal; you probably have micro-USB chargers hanging out of plug sockets at home already, but it does mean there's no fast-charging feature for a speedy top-up. Finally, the 7X ships with Huawei's EMUI 5.1 layered over Android 7.0 Nougat -- if you're buying a brand-new phone, you'd like it to have the latest Android 8.0 Oreo build.

    Unfortunately, there's no firm word on pricing just yet -- that'll be revealed at an Honor event on December 5th -- but since the 6X cost $250/225 at launch, I'd expect the 7X to come in below $300/300. In Western markets, the phone will be available primarily in black and Honor's trademark blue, though a gold version will retail elsewhere.

    If you're going to be in the market for a mid-range device in the near future, and you like the idea of a decent camera and oodles of screen, then the Honor 7X might be right up your street. That said, assuming $250/250 is a pretty accurate estimate of price point, remember that there are a number of cheaper devices that have more value-adding features, such as that NFC for mobile payments that the Honor 7X is sorely and strangely missing.

  • 'Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp' comes to your phone November 22

    Soon, Aussies won't be the only ones building summer camps in Nintendo's latest mobile game. The gaming giant announced that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will arrive on iOS and Android devices worldwide on November 22nd. The title marks Nintendo's third foray into smartphone gaming, following Super Mario Run and #PocketCamp
    — Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 20, 2017
    As usual, it's a free-to-play instalment from an existing series, but this time round we're getting many of the hallmarks from the Animal Crossing franchise. The main difference is you're making a camp filled with cute animal inhabitants instead of a town. And, Nintendo is hoping to pocket from your dedication with the addition of Leaf Tickets, which let you buy in-game items and speed up construction by grinding or ponying up real cash. The lucky campers in Australia have been able to play the title since late last month, so everyone else has some catching up to do.

    Source: #PocketCamp
    — Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 20, 2017 ">Nintendo (Twitter)

  • London buses to be powered by coffee grounds

    As part of ongoing efforts to reduce pollution in the capital, London's buses are set to utilise a new source of fuel: coffee grounds. Thanks to a collaboration between Bio-Bean, Shell and Argent Energy, double deckers will be filled with a B20 biofuel created by blending oil extracted from coffee waste with diesel. So far, they've produced enough to power one London bus for a year, but as Londoners drink 20 million cups of coffee a day, it could provide enough oil to power a third of Transport for London's entire network.

    Bio-Bean's plant can recycle 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee a year. The company collects waste from high street coffee shops, as well as instant coffee factories, and uses it to extract an oil. This is then mixed with other fats and oils to create a 20 percent biocomponent of B20 fuel. Buses don't need to be modified either, keeping costs low.

    Fuels like Bio-Bean will provide a greener alternative as London continues to introduce greener methods of transport. Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that from 2018, all new single-decker buses in the centre of the city will be zero-emission, helped by a sizeable fleet of hybrid electric buses. However, the end goal is to have a zero-emission transport system by 2050.

    Source: Shell

  • HaptX promises to make your virtual hands feel like real ones

    The holy grail of VR is immersion: to truly feel like you're in a virtual world. While most modern VR headsets do a pretty good job of this, the experience isn't perfect. One problem standing in the way of true immersion are the controllers. They're OK for basic tasks like picking up objects, but they still feel a little unnatural. Even VR gloves like the Manus offer only vibration feedback; it lets you know you've touched something, but not what you're touching. A new startup, however, aims to change that. It's introducing a pair of gloves that promises to make your virtual hands feel just like real ones.

    The gloves are made by HaptX, which used to be known as AxonVR. It changed its name partially because there are a lot of other companies that are using the name Axon -- it's the name of a phone, a trucking company and a maker of non-lethal weapons. HaptX also happens to be the name of the technology that makes the realistic touch possible.

    When the company says "realistic touch," it means the gloves let you feel the shape, texture and even temperature of whatever you're holding -- you can even feel if an object is hard or soft. That's right; the gloves will actually prevent your hand from going through virtual objects.

    At the heart of the technology is microfluidics, which is a study of how fluids move through small, sub-millimeter channels. HaptX CEO and co-founder Jake Rubin spent several years at Cal Poly researching the subject, along with the company's other co-founder, Dr. Robert Crockett. This led to the creation of the HaptX skin, which is made up of hundreds of tiny little air pockets. Whenever you touch something in the virtual world, these air bubbles -- also known as haptic actuators -- inflate, displacing your skin in the same way a real object would. The actuators can be woven into fabric, which results in what Rubin and co. call the HaptX smart textile.

    "These are basically tiny little haptic pixels," said Jake Rubin, CEO and founder of HaptX. "And by changing their pressure over time, very quickly, we can create any sensation in your skin." He likens it to a visual display, with each pixel changing in color to create an image. He explained that with the HaptX gloves, the pixels are tiny and in high density near the fingers -- where the most sensitivity is needed -- and larger and lower density at the palm.

    The sensitivity of the displacement can be up to 2 millimeters, which Rubin said is much higher of than that of other VR gloves. Other haptic gloves like the GloveOne and the aforementioned Manus use vibrating motors that buzz or rumble, the Teslasuit uses electrodes that deliver small electric shocks, and still others like the VRgluv use motors that provide resistance on the fingers. None of these, according to Rubin, offer the same accuracy and finesse as the HaptX.

    I tried a prototype of the gloves, and I was trepidatious at first. For one, the test glove was too big for my hands -- Rubin says most of the HaptX engineers have larger mitts than I do. The issue is that in order for the HaptX material to work, my fingers need to touch the glove's fingertips.

    After some pulling, however, my hand fit. The glove was made out of a mesh fabric on the inside and a Vive receiver was attached to the outside; my fingertips were secured by what felt like plastic clamps. The glove was attached to a wire connecting to a large Xbox-like machine. This, Rubin said, houses all the valves to control air flow.

    The glove felt bulky, heavy and a little uncomfortable. Rubin tells me that the final version will come in different sizes and be slimmed down, so hopefully, this is only an issue with the prototype.

    Then, I had an HTC Vive strapped to my head and the HaptX folks fired up the demo. A small farm appeared in front of me, with raining clouds, a barn and a wheat field. I placed my hand underneath one of the clouds and immediately felt light raindrops. I waved my hand through the wheat field and felt every strand run through my fingers.

    Next, a small fox ran out. When I placed my palm in front of it, it leapt into my hand, giving me a ticklish sensation as it ran around. When the fox finally lay down, I felt its whole body in the palm of my hand. Next, a huge spider crawled into view; it too climbed onto my hand. Its eight legs felt so fuzzy and realistic that it sent shivers up my spine, and I cringed in reaction.

    I also squeezed the clouds and the rocks to see which was softer. I felt more resistance with the rocks but still managed to close my fingers into a fist, forcing the rocks to slip out of my hand. Ideally, I shouldn't be able to close my fingers at all. Rubin said that could be because the glove didn't fit my hand well enough in the first place.

    Despite the unpleasant feeling of the glove, I was surprised by how realistic the touch sensations felt. It's unlike any other VR controller I've tried. That said, there are a few flaws. For one, the gloves need to be attached to the aforementioned box. Rubin said they could be put it in a backpack for untethered applications when doing room-scale VR, but that sounds a little clunky. He thinks the technology will get to the point where they won't need a box, but it's not there yet.

    Also, the prototype I tried didn't have a temperature setting, because that version uses water instead of air. Rubin said the company is focusing on the non-temperature version of the gloves so it can get them to market sooner.

    As impressive as the HaptX gloves felt, Rubin doesn't intend for them to be used for video games, at least not yet. Right now, Rubin is marketing HaptX to be used for commercial applications like training simulation in medical, military and industrial spaces, location-based entertainment for theme parks, and design and manufacturing using telerobotics. This is because, in those applications, fidelity and finesse are way more important than in gaming.

    "Some of these full-scale military simulators cost tens of millions of dollars," said Rubin. "And there are these entertainment companies that are overlaying VR on physical environments but you still need a very large room. It's not very scalable." With something like HaptX, however, all you'd need to is change the software. He said that HaptX can be used when prototyping products, so manufacturers can "feel" what a car's interior is like, for example.

    Rubin hopes to release the first version of the gloves starting next year. He doesn't rule out the technology trickling down to consumers, but that's not the company's focus. "We expect the price to come down quickly over a course of two to three years, to the point where consumers can have it," he said. "It may never be, you know, $100 but it should be cheap enough within a couple of years that a consumer could certainly purchase and own this kind of technology."

    Interestingly, Rubin also said it's possible for the HaptX material to be built into a full bodysuit. "When you combine these existing arm exoskeletons, our haptic wearables and a locomotion solution like an omnidirectional treadmill or a lower-body exoskeleton, it would get you very close to a holodeck -- a full immersion in a virtual environment."

  • NASA can pinpoint glaciers that might flood coastal cities

    It's safe to say that melting glaciers and ice sheets are bad things: they raise ocean levels and risk flooding low-lying coastal areas. But which of these icy bodies do you have to worry about in your area? NASA might help. It recently developed a technique that can determine which glaciers and sheets pose a threat to a given area. It's complex, but it could make a big difference for coastal cities that may need to react to global warming.

    Gradient fingerprint mapping, as it's called, uses advanced math to check the local variations in the ice thickness of all of the world's ice drainage systems. When you map all these gradients, you can determine where the water will ultimately go. And it's more complicated than you think -- if a lot of ice melts, it can actually lower the sea level in certain areas because of the reduced gravitational pull.

    The resulting predictions can be surprising in multiple ways. For one thing, proximity isn't necessarily an indicator of which glaciers you have to worry about. New York City primarily has to fret about the glaciers in Greenland's northeast (those furthest away), for example. As for that gravitational effect? The sea level around Oslo, Norway would actually fall if only the glaciers in the same Greenland area melted. Meanwhile, the breaking ice sheets in the western Antarctic would pose the greatest danger to Sydney.

    It's not exactly the most heartening discovery, but it could be important if there's no way to dramatically slow or halt the melting process. Planners could use the data to understand whether or not they need sea walls and other measures to prevent flooding. Like it or not, that know-how may become crucial in the next few decades.

    Via: Earther

    Source: Science Advances

  • Kevlar cartilage could help you recover from joint injuries

    It can be difficult to fully recover from knee injuries or other damage to your joints, if just because there hasn't been an artificial replacement for cartilage that can withstand as much punishment as the real thing. That may not be an issue in the long run, though: scientists have developed a Kevlar-based hydrogel that behaves like natural cartilage. It mixes a network of Kevlar nanofibers with polyvinyl alcohol to absorb water at rest (like real cartilage does in idle moments) and become extremely resistant to abuse, but releases it under stress -- say, a workout at the gym.

    You don't even need a lot of it to replicate a human body's sturdiness and overall functionality. A material with 92 percent water is about as tough as real cartilage, while a 70 percent mix is comparable to rubber. Previous attempts at simulating cartilage couldn't hold enough water to transport nutrients to cells, which made them a poor fit for implants.

    There's a long way to go before the material becomes useful. Researchers are hoping to patent the substance and find companies to make it a practical reality. The implications are already quite clear, mind you. If it works as well in patients as it does in lab experiments, it could lead to cartilage implants that are roughly as good as the real tissue they replace. A serious knee injury might not put an end to your running days.

    Source: University of Michigan, Wiley Online Library

  • Treaty ending use of planet-warming HFCs takes effect in 2019

    The treaty phasing out the use of Earth-warming hydrofluorocarbons now has an official start date. Sweden has become the 20th country to ratify the Kigali Amendment, invoking a clause that has the measure taking effect on January 1st, 2019. From then on, wealthier countries (less fortunate nations have until 2024 or 2028) must cut back on use of the greenhouse gas in everything from air conditioning to refrigerators. Ideally, this pushes companies to use and develop eco-friendly coolants.

    If the ramping down of HFC use works as intended, it could theoretically avoid as much as an 0.5C increase in the overall global temperature. Given that the Paris Agreement has most of the world fighting to keep global warming to 2C or less in this century, that would represent a major accomplishment.

    There's one catch, though: the US. The country has yet to ratify the treaty, and it might not do so given President Trump's intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and overall aversion to climate science. If the US doesn't move forward, though, it's more likely to hurt itself than anyone else. It may limit American coolant makers' access to other countries' markets for HFC alternatives. The Kigali Amendment is still likely to have its intended effect, especially since American firms may switch to more climate-friendly chemicals regardless of the government's stance. It's just that US government decisions may let stragglers hang on to HFCs for longer than they would otherwise.

    Via: New York Times

    Source: United Nations

  • Did Microsoft manually patch their Equation Editor executable?
    Really, quite literally, some pretty skilled Microsoft employee or contractor reverse engineered our friend EQNEDT32.EXE, located the flawed code, and corrected it by manually overwriting existing instructions with better ones (making sure to only use the space previously occupied by original instructions).  This... This is one hell of a story. The unanswered question is why, exactly, Microsoft felt the need to do this - do they no longer have access to the source code? Has it simply become impossible to set up the correct build environment?  Amazing.

  • How to set up a Pixelbook for programming
    Well, I've really done it. I've taken a pure and unsullied Google Pixelbook, which at one time was fast and secure in all ways, and made it into a crashy mess. My crime? The desire to code.  I'm going to walk you through my process for converting this machine into something that's marginally desirable for programming, but I just wanted to warn you before I begin: this isn't easy, clean, intuitive, or practical. There are rumors that Google is working on better ways to make Chrome OS a host for other flavors of Linux or Linux apps, but right now we're basically working with hacks, and hacks hurt.  Because these hacks hurt, I'd implore you to read this entire guide before attempting any of the steps so you know what you're getting yourself into, and if you, in fact, desire the results.  I think the PixelBook is a stunningly beautiful and fast machine, and while Chrome OS isn't nearly as useless as people often think it is, it clearly isn't the kind of operating system many OSNews readers would prefer. This is a guide to getting a traditional Linux setup up and running.

  • RISC-V port merged to Linux
    The RISC-V port was just merged to Linux a few minutes ago. This means we will be in the 4.15 release, which should be out about 10 weeks from last Sunday. As soon as the tarballs are created, the RISC-V Linux ABI will be stable, and  since we'll ideally be in a glibc release that comes out soon after that we'll be fully ABI stable by early in February.  RISC-V is a completely free and open ISA that hasn't seen much adoption just yet.

  • Scripting the Haiku GUI with 'hey'
    Haiku's GUI is in principle entirely scriptable. You can change a window's position and size and manipulate pretty much every widget in it. The tool to do this is hey. It sends BMessages to an application, thus emulating what happens if the user clicks on a menu, checkbox, or other widgets.

  • The Xerox Alto struts its stuff on its 40th birthday
    The Xerox Alto, widely recognized as the first modern personal computer, pioneered just about every basic concept we are familiar with in computers today. These include windows, bit-mapped computer displays, the whole idea of WYSIWIG interfaces, the cut/paste/copy tools in word processing programs, and pop-up menus. Most of this vision of the "office of the future" was first unveiled at a meeting of Xerox executives held on 10 Nov 1977, which was 40 years ago last week.  To celebrate that birthday, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., brought together some of Parc researchers who worked on the Alto on Friday. They put it through its paces in a series of live demos. These demos used an Alto that had been restored to working order over the past eight months.  One of the most important computers ever made.

  • * More than 1 billion Android devices run outdated software *
    This is horrifying:  But even with the data we have, we can take a guess at how many outdated devices are in use. In May 2017, Google announced that there are over two billion active Android devices. If we look at the latest stats (the far right edge), we can see that nearly half of these devices are two years out of date. At this point, we should expect that there are more than one billion devices that are two years out of date! Given Android's update model, we should expect approximately 0% of those devices to ever get updated to a modern version of Android.  Whenever I bring up just how humongous of an issue this is, and just how dangerously irresponsible it is to let average consumers use this platform, apologists come out of the woodwork with two arguments as to why I'm an Apple shill or anti-Google: Google Play Services and Project Treble.  Google Play Services indeed ensures that a number of parts of your entire Android operating system and stack are updated through Google Play. This is a good move, and in fact, Android is ahead of iOS in this respect, where things like Safari and the browser engine are updated through operating system updates instead of through the App Store - and operating systems updates present a far bigger barrier to updating than mere app updates do. However, vast parts of Android are not updated through the Play Store at all, and pose a serious security threat to users of the platform. Google Play Services are anything but a silver bullet for Android's appalling update situation.  Project Treble is the second term people throw around whenever we talk about Android's lack of updates, but I don't think people really understand what Project Treble is, and what problems it does and does not solve. As Ron Amadeo explains in his excellent Android 8.0 review:  Project Treble introduces a "Vendor Interface" - a standardized interface that sits between the OS and the hardware. As long as the SoC vendor plugs into the Vendor Interface and the OS plugs into the Vendor Interface, an upgrade to a new version of Android should "just work." OEMs and carriers will still need to be involved in customizing the OS and rolling it out to users, but now the parties involved in an update can "parallelize" the work needed to get an update running. SoC code is no longer the "first" step that everyone else needs to wait on.  Treble addresses an important technical aspect of the Android update process by ensuring OEMs have to spend less time tailoring each Android update to every specific SoC and every specific smartphone. However, it doesn't mean OEMs can now just push a button and have the next Google Android code drop ready to go for all of their phones; they still have to port their modifications and other parts of Android, test everything, have it approved by carriers, and push them out to devices worldwide.  Project Treble addresses part of the technical aspect of Android updates, but not nearly all of it. While Treble is a huge improvement and clearly repays a huge technical debt of the Android platform, it doesn't actually address the real reason why OEMs are so lax at updating their phones: the political reason. Even in the entirely unrealistic, unlikely, and honestly impossible event Treble solves all technical barriers to updating Android phones, OEMs still have to, you know, actually choose to do so.  Even the most expensive and brand-defining Android flagships - the Note, Galaxy S, LG V, and so on - are updated at best only six months after the release of a new version of Android, and even then, the rollout usually takes months, with some countries, regions, carriers, or phones not getting the update until much, much later.  This isn't because it really is that hard to update Android phones - it's because OEMs don't care. Samsung doesn't care. LG doesn't care. HTC doesn't care. They'd much rather spend time and resources on selling you the next flagship than updating the one you already paid for.  Treble will do nothing to address that.  But let's assume that not only will Treble address all technical barriers, but also all political barriers. Entirely unlikely and impossible, I know, but for the sake of argument, let's assume that it does. Even then, it will be at best four to five years before we experience these benefits from Treble, because while Treble is a requirement for new devices shipping with Android 8.0 out of the box, it's entirely optional for existing devices being updated to 8.0. With the current pace of Android updates, that means it will be no earlier than four to five years from now before we truly start enjoying the fruits of the Treble team's labour.  At that point, it will have been twelve to thirteen years of accumulating unupdateable, insecure Android devices.  The cold and harsh truth is that as a platform, Android is a mess. It was quickly cobbled together in a rushed response to the original iPhone, and ever since, Google has been trying to repay the technical debt resulting from that rushed response, sucking time and resources away from advancing the state of the art in mobile operating systems.  As an aside, I have the suspicion Google has already set an internal timeline to move away from Android as we know it today, and move towards a new operating system altogether. I have the suspicion that Treble isn't so much about Android updates as it is about further containerising the Android runtime to make it as easy as possible to run Android applications as-is on a new platform that avoids and learns from the mistakes made by Android.  Each and every one of you knows I'm an Android user. I prefer Android over the competition because it allows me to use my phone the way I want to better than the competition. Up until recently, I would choose Android on Apple hardware over iOS on Android hardware - to use that macOS-vs-Windows meme - any day of the week.  These days - I'm not so sure I would. Your options as an Android user today? A Pixel phone you probably can't buy anyway because it's only available in three countries, and even if you can buy it, it falls apart at the seams. You can buy a Samsung or HTC or whatever and perpetually run outdated, insecure software. Or you can buy something from a smaller OEM, and suffer through shady nonsense.  You have to be deeply enveloped in the Android bubble to not see the dire situation this platform is in. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

  • OnePlus left a backdoor in its devices with root access
    Just a month ago, OnePlus was caught collecting personally identifiable data from phone owners through incredibly detailed analytics. While the company eventually reversed course on the data collection, another discovery has been made in the software of OnePlus phones. One developer found an application intended for factory testing, and through some investigation and reverse-engineering, was able to obtain root access using it.  People often tout OnePlus phones as an alternative to the Pixel line now that Google abandoned the Nexus concept of affordable, high-quality phones. Recent events, however, have made it very clear that you should really steer clear of phones like this, unless you know very well what you're doing.

  • Google to remove Accessibility Services apps from the Play Store
    Some of the most innovative applications on the Play Store are built on using APIs in ways that Google never intended. There are apps that can remap your volume keys to skip music tracks, record and play back touch inputs on webpages or games, and even provide alternative navigation keys so you can use your device€™s entire screen. All of these examples that I€™ve just mention rely on Android€™s Accessibility APIs. But that may soon change, as the Google Play Store team is sending out emails to developers telling them that they can no longer implement Accessibility Services unless they follow Google€™s guidelines.  Accessibility Services is an attack vector for malicious software, so in that light it makes sense. Of course, that doesn't make it any less frustrating that good, innovative software gets smothered like this. Luckily, this is Android, so the developers can always just distribute their applications outside of the Play Store through sideloading, but that's not exactly a secure solution for most people - and let's be honest, not being in the Play Store will be the death knell for most developers.  The real solution would be to provide APIs for things like this, but I doubt Google is going to invest any time, effort, and money into creating such APIs, since they seem more concerned with shoving useless digital assistants down our throats.

  • How Firefox got fast again
    People have noticed that Firefox is fast again.  Over the past seven months, we€™ve been rapidly replacing major parts of the engine, introducing Rust and parts of Servo to Firefox. Plus, we€™ve had a browser performance strike force scouring the codebase for performance issues, both obvious and non-obvious.  We call this Project Quantum, and the first general release of the reborn Firefox Quantum comes out tomorrow.  orthographic drawing of jet engine  But this doesn€™t mean that our work is done. It doesn€™t mean that today€™s Firefox is as fast and responsive as it€™s going to be.  So, let€™s look at how Firefox got fast again and where it€™s going to get faster.  I should definitely give Firefox another try - I've tried it over the years but it always felt a little sluggish compared to the competition. Chrome's gotten way too fat over the years, so I've resorted to using Edge on my main computer lately - it isn't perfect, but it it sure is fast, and places very little strain on my machine. I want my browser to get out of my way, and gobbling up processor cycles is exactly not that.

  • A history of the Amiga, part 11: between an Escom and a Gateway
    Ars Technica has released another excellent article in their series on the Amiga. This article covers the beginning of the post-Commodore world, starting with Escom and ending with the beginning of Amiga Inc.  Commodore International declared itself insolvent on April 29, 1994 under Chapter 7 of US bankruptcy law. Ordinarily, this would have been followed immediately by an auction of all the company€™s assets. However, Commodore€™s Byzantine organizational structure - designed to serve as a tax shelter for financier Irving Gould - made this process far more lengthy and complicated than it should have been.

  • Sailfish 2.1.3 released
    Another point release of one of the few - maybe even only - alternative mobile operating systems still being actively updated.  This update, 2.1.3 alias Kymijoki€brings Sailfish X for Sony Xperia X. All Sailfish devices get fixes for some recent well-known security vulnerabilities, including WPA issues and Bluetooth Blueborne. Kymijoki contains connectivity improvements made for Qt and Android apps and fixes dozens of other issues, too.  It's a relatively minor update, but still - it's good to see Sailfish progressing.

  • Fused video stabilization on Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
    One of the most important aspects of current smartphones is easily capturing and sharing videos. With the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the videos you capture are smoother and clearer than ever before, thanks to our Fused Video Stabilization technique based on both optical image stabilization (OIS) and electronic image stabilization (EIS). Fused Video Stabilization delivers highly stable footage with minimal artifacts, and the Pixel 2 is currently rated as the leader in DxO's video ranking (also earning the highest overall rating for a smartphone camera). But how does it work?  An interesting technical look at how Google achieves these results on their Pixel 2 phones, with the obvious caveat that we're looking at story written by Google here, so take that into account as you're reading this.  On a related note, overall DxO ratings are dumb.

  • The rise and fall of LiMux
    The LiMux (or Limux) initiative in Munich has been heralded as an example of both the good and bad in moving a public administration away from proprietary systems. Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) President Matthias Kirschner reviewed the history of the initiative - and its recent apparent downfall - in a talk at Open Source Summit Europe in Prague. He also looked at the broader implications of the project as well as asking some questions that free-software advocates should consider moving forward.   The LiMux initiative is one of the longest-running story 'streams' on OSNews. The oldest item I could find is from 2003.

  • * Modern tech product reviews are flawed *
    Khoi Vinh on why 24 hour or even weeklong reviews are dumb:  However I've come to believe that there's at least one thing wrong with this whole notion of product reviews - and with smartphone revirews in particular - and that's that by and large they€™re only ever interested in these phones when they're brand new.  When an iPhone debuts it's literally at the very peak of its powers. All the software that it runs has been optimized for that particular model, and as a result everything seems to run incredibly smoothly.  As time goes on though, as newer versions of the operating system roll out, as there are more and more demands put on the phone, it inevitably gets slower and less performant. A case in point: I'm upgrading to this iPhone X from a three-year old iPhone 6 Plus and for at least the last year, and especially over the last three months, it has struggled mightily to perform simple tasks like launching the camera, fetching email, even basic typing. People who have recently had the misfortune of having to use my phone tell me almost instantly, "Your phone sucks."  You could argue that three years is an unrealistically long time to expect a smartphone to be able to keep up with the rapidly changing - and almost exponentially increasing - demands that we as users put on these devices. Personally, I would argue the opposite, that these things should be built to last at least three years, if for no other reason than as a society we shouldn't be throwing these devices away so quickly.  This is, of course, the reason behind the odd embargo strategy Apple employed regarding the iPhone X - if you only give people an hour or at best, 24 hours, to review a device, people will still be in the honeymoon phase of owning a product, where you're still rationalising spending ‚1200 for a phone (or any other high price for any other product, for that matter). Choice-supportive bias is a real thing, and each and every one of us experiences it. During this period, initial flaws aren't as apparent, and long-term flaws or flaws that only pop up in specific situations aren't yet taken into account. It makes the product appear better than it really is.  This is why, back when I still did reviews for OSNews, I had my own rule of using a product for at least four weeks before publishing a review. This gave me enough time to get over this initial phase, and made sure I had a more levelheaded look at the whole thing. We don't do many reviews anymore - I have to buy everything myself, and I'm not rich - so it's not an issue at this point, but even if companies were to approach us today for reviews, I would still ask for that four week period, and if they were to object - sorry, but no review.  This is, of course, what the major publications should've done. Nobody forced The Verge or whomever else to publish a review within 24 hours. The initial embargo rush is important for the bottom-line, I get that, but it still feels rather suspicious. What can you really learn about a product in just 24 hours? Can you really declare something "the best damn product Apple ever made" after using it for less than a day? At what point does writing most of the review in advance before you even receive the product in the first place, peppering it with a few paragraphs inspired by the 24 hours, cross into utter dishonesty?  By reviewing products in a day or less, popular tech media is really doing readers and consumers a huge disservice, only further strengthening the idea that the tech press is often nothing but an extension of a company's PR department. This erodes credibility, and in turn hurts those among the media who do take their time to properly review a product.  It's okay to not rush writing a review to meet some asinine embargo. It's okay to not ask "how high?" when a company tells you to jump. It's okay to publish a review a week or even a month after an embargo has been lifted. It's okay to not post unboxing videos of non-retail boxes.  It's okay to, sometimes, just say no. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...

  • Tock: a secure embedded operating system
    Tock is an embedded operating system designed for running multiple concurrent, mutually distrustful applications on Cortex-M based embedded platforms. Tock's design centers around protection, both from potentially malicious applications and from device drivers. Tock uses two mechanisms to protect different components of the operating system. First, the kernel and device drivers are written in Rust, a systems programming language that provides compile-time memory safety, type safety and strict aliasing. Tock uses Rust to protect the kernel (e.g. the scheduler and hardware abstraction layer) from platform specific device drivers as well as isolate device drivers from each other. Second, Tock uses memory protection units to isolate applications from each other and the kernel.  Visit the official site and the github repository for more information.

  • Sysadmin 101: Patch Management
    A few articles ago, I started a Sysadmin 101 series to pass down some fundamental knowledge about systems administration that the current generation of junior sysadmins, DevOps engineers or "full stack" developers might not learn otherwise. I had thought that I was done with the series, but then the WannaCry malware came out and exposed some of the poor patch management practices still

  • pfSense: Not Linux, Not Bad
    Through the years, I've used all sorts of router and firewall solutions at home and at work. For home networks, I usually recommend something like DD-WRT, OpenWRT or Tomato on an off-the-shelf router. For business, my recommendations typically are something like a Ubiquiti router or a router/firewall solution like Untangled or ClearOS.

  • NETGEAR 48-Port Gigabit Smart Managed Plus Switch (GS750E)
    More than ever, small to mid-sized businesses demand and rely on their networks to carry out mission-critical business activities. As always, however, budgets and expertise constrain these companies from using complex managed switches to run their networks.

  • New Hope for Digital Identity
    Identity is personal. You need to start there.

    In the natural world where we live and breathe, personal identity can get complicated, but it's not broken. If an Inuit family from Qikiqtaaluk wants to name their kid Anuun or Issorartuyok, they do, and the world copes. If the same kid later wants to call himself Steve, he does. Again, the world copes. So does Steve. 

  • Slicing Scientific Data
    I've covered scientific software in previous articles that either analyzes image information or actually generates image data for further analysis. In this article, I introduce a tool that you can use to analyze images generated as part of medical diagnostic work. 

  • Linux Journal November 2017
         Arrogance, the Biggest Linux Security Problem
    Linux is no longer an obscure platform avoided by those with malicious intent.

  • PoE, PoE+ and Passive POE
    I've been installing a lot of POE devices recently, and the different methods for providing power over Ethernet cables can be very confusing. There are a few standards in place, and then there's a method that isn't a standard, but is widely used.

    802.3af or Active PoE: 

  • Analyzing Song Lyrics
    I was reading about the history of The Beatles a few days ago and bumped into an interesting fact. According to the author, The Beatles used the word "love" in their songs more than 160 times. At first I thought, "cool", but the more I thought about it, the more I became skeptical about the figure. In fact, I suspect that the word "love" shows up considerably more than 160 times. 

  • Testing the Waters: How to Perform Internal Phishing Campaigns
    Phishing is one of the most dangerous threats to modern computing. Phishing attacks have evolved from sloppily written mass email blasts to targeted attacks designed to fool even the most cautious users. No defense is bulletproof, and most experts agree education and common sense are the best tools to combat the problem.

  • The Wire
    In the US, there has been recent concern over ISPs turning over logs to the government. During the past few years, the idea of people snooping on our private data (by governments and others) really has made encryption more popular than ever before. One of the problems with encryption, however, is that it's generally not user-friendly to add its protection to your conversations.

  • InfluxData
    What is ephemeral data, you ask? InfluxData can supply the answer, because handling it is the business of the company's InfluxData open-source platform that is custom-built for metrics and events.

  • Extended File Attributes Rock!
    Worldwide, data is growing at a tremendous rate. However, one recent study has pointed out that the size of files is not necessarily growing at the same rate; meaning the number of files is growing rapidly. How do we manage all of this data and files? While the answer to that question is complex, one place we can start is with Extended File Attributes. Continue reading

  • Checksumming Files to Find Bit-Rot
    In a previous article extended file attributes were presented. These are additional bits of metadata that are tied to the file and can be used in a variety of ways. One of these ways is to add checksums to the file so that corrupted data can be detected. Let's take a look at how we can do this including some simple Python examples. Continue reading

  • What’s an inode?
    As you might have noticed, we love talking about file systems. In these discussions the term "inode" is often thrown about. But what is an inode and how does it relate to a file system? Glad you asked. Continue reading

  • Emailing HPC
    Email is not unlike MPI. The similarities may help non-geeks understand parallel computers a little better. Continue reading

  • iotop: Per Process I/O Usage
    Based on a reader comment, we take iotop for a spin to see if it can be used for monitoring the IO usage of individual processes on a system. The result? It has some interesting capability that we haven't found in other tools. Continue reading

  • SandForce 1222 SSD Testing, Part 3: Detailed Throughput Analysis
    Our last two articles have presented an initial performance examination of a consumer SandForce based SSD from a throughput and IOPS perspective. In this article we dive deeper into the throughput performance of the drive, along with a comparison to an Intel X-25E SSD. I think you will be surprised at what is discovered. Continue reading

  • Putting Drupal to Work
    Drupal is a simple but powerful CMS. However, you'll probably want to configure it. Learn how to tweak Drupal's settings to your liking. Continue reading

  • SandForce 1222 SSD Testing – Part 2: Initial IOPS Results
    SandForce has developed a very interesting and unique SSD controller that uses real-time data compression. This affects data throughput and SSD longevity. In this article, we perform an initial examination of the IOPS performance of a SandForce 1222-based SSD. The results can be pretty amazing. Continue reading

  • Drupal at Warp Speed
    Need to setup Drupal CMS but don't have the time to learn how? Try this 30 minute quick start guide. Continue reading

  • Chasing The Number
    The Top500 list is a valuable measure of HPC progress, but the race it has spawned maybe over for many organizations Continue reading

  • Stick a Fork in Flock: Why it Failed
    This probably won't come as a surprise to many, but the "social Web browser" has thrown in the towel. Don't cry for the Flock team - they're flying the coop for Zynga to go make Facebook games or something. But Flock's loyal fans are out in the cold. Why'd Flock fail? There's a few lessons to be learned. Continue reading

Page last modified on October 08, 2013, at 02:08 PM