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  • Debian: DSA-4149-1: plexus-utils2 security update Charles Duffy discovered that the Commandline class in the utilities for the Plexus framework performs insufficient quoting of double-encoded strings, which could result in the execution of arbitrary shell commands.

  • Debian: DSA-4148-1: kamailio security update Alfred Farrugia and Sandro Gauci discovered an off-by-one heap overflow in the Kamailio SIP server which could result in denial of service and potentially the execution of arbitrary code.

  • Debian LTS: DLA-1312-1: libvorbisidec security update Huzaifa Sidhpurwala discovered that an out-of-bounds memory write in the codebook parsing code of the Libtremor multimedia library could result in the execution of arbitrary code if a malformed Vorbis file is opened.

  • Debian LTS: DLA-1311-1: adminer security update It was discovered that there was a server-side request forgery exploit in adminer, a web-based database administration tool. Adminer allowed unauthenticated connections to be initiated to arbitrary

  • RedHat: RHSA-2018-0576:01 Important: Red Hat JBoss BRMS 6.4.9 security An update is now available for Red Hat JBoss BRMS. Red Hat Product Security has rated this update as having a security impact of Important. A Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) base score, which gives a detailed severity rating, is available for each vulnerability

  • [$] Energy-aware scheduling on asymmetric systems
    Energy-aware scheduling — running a system's workload in a way thatminimizes the amount of energy consumed — has been a topic of activediscussion and development for some time; LWN first covered the issue at the beginning of 2012.Many approaches have been tried during the intervening years, but little inthe way of generalized energy-aware scheduling work has made it into themainline. Recently, a new patch set wasposted by Dietmar Eggemann that only tries to address one aspect of the problem; perhaps the problem domainhas now been simplified enough that this support can finally be merged.

  • Stable kernels 4.9.89, 4.4.123, and 3.18.101
    Yet another new crop of stable kernels has been released: 4.9.89, 4.4.123, and 3.18.101. Each contains a rather large set ofchanges all over the kernel tree; users of those series should upgrade.

  • Krita 4.0 released
    Version 4.0of the Krita drawing tool has been released; see thisarticle for a summary of the new features in this release."Krita 4.0 will use SVG on vector layers by default, instead of theprior reliance on ODG. SVG is the most widely used open format for vectorgraphics out there. Used by 'pure' vector design applications, SVG on Kritacurrently supports gradients and transparencies, with more effects comingsoon."

  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (lib32-libvorbis), Debian (exempi and polarssl), Gentoo (collectd and webkit-gtk), openSUSE (postgresql96), SUSE (qemu), and Ubuntu (libvorbis).

  • Introducing the syzbot dashboard
    "Syzbot" is an automated system that runs the syzkaller fuzzer on thekernel and reports the resulting crashes. Dmitry Vyukov has announced theavailability of a web sitedisplaying the outstanding reports. "The dashboard shows info about active bugs reported by syzbot. Thereare ~130 active bugs and I think ~2/3 of them are actionable (stillhappen and have a reproducer or are simple enough to debug)."

  • [$] A "runtime guard" for the kernel
    While updating kernels frequently is generally considered a security bestpractice, there are many installations that are unable to do so for avariety of reasons. That means running with some number of knownvulnerabilities (along with an unknown number of unknown vulnerabilities, ofcourse), so some way to detect and stop exploits for those flaws may bedesired. That is exactly what the Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG)is meant to do.

  • [$] The Sound Open Firmware project launches
    It is an increasingly poorly kept secret that, underneath the hood ofthe components that most of us view as "hardware", there is a great deal ofproprietary software. This code, written by anonymous developers, rarelysees the light of day; as a result, it tends to have all of the pathologiesassociated with software that nobody can either review or fix. The 2018Embedded Linux Conference saw an announcement for a new project that, with luck, will change thatsituation, at least for one variety of hardware: audio devices.

  • RawTherapee 5.4 released
    Version5.4 of the RawTherapee image-processing tool is out. New featuresinclude a new histogram-matching tool, a new HDR tone-mapping tool, anumber of user-interface and performance improvements, and quite a bitmore.

  • Stable kernels 4.15.12 and 4.14.29
    Greg Kroah-Hartman has released stable kernels 4.15.12 and 4.14.29. As usual, they contain importantfixes and users of those series should upgrade.

  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by CentOS (firefox), Debian (plexus-utils), Fedora (calibre, cryptopp, curl, dolphin-emu, firefox, golang, jhead, kernel, libcdio, libgit2, libvorbis, ming, net-snmp, patch, samba, xen, and zsh), Red Hat (collectd and rh-mariadb101-mariadb and rh-mariadb101-galera), and Ubuntu (paramiko and tiff).

  • Stone: A new era for Linux's low-level graphics - Part 1
    Daniel Stone beginsa series on how the Linux graphic stack has improved in recent times."This has made mainline Linux much more attractive: the exact samegeneric codebases of GNOME and Weston that I'm using to write this blogpost on an Intel laptop run equally well on AMD workstations, low-power NXPboards destined for in-flight entertainment, and high-end Renesas SoCswhich might well be in your car. Now that the drivers are easy to write,and applications are portable, we've seen over ten new DRM drivers mergedto the upstream kernel since atomic modesetting was merged."

  • [$] Two perspectives on the maintainer relationship
    Developers and maintainers of free-software projects are drawn fromthe same pool of people, and maintainers in one project are often developersin another, but there is still a certain amount of friction between thetwo groups. Maintainers depend on developers to contribute changes, butthe two groups have a different set of incentives when it comes to reviewing andaccepting those changes. Two talks at the 2018 Embedded Linux Conferenceshed some light on this relationship and how it can be made to work moresmoothly.

  • GStreamer 1.14 released
    The GStreamer team has announceda major feature release of the GStreamer cross-platform multimediaframework. Highlights include WebRTC support, experimental support for thenext-gen royalty-free AV1 video codec, support for the Secure ReliableTransport (SRT) video streaming protocol, and much more. The release notescontain more details.

  • Six more companies adopt GPLv3 termination language
    Red Hat has announcedthat six more companies (CA Technologies, Cisco, HPE, Microsoft, SAP, andSUSE) have agreed to apply the GPLv3 termination conditions (wherein aviolator's license is automatically restored if the problem is fixed in atimely manner) to GPLv2-licensed code. "GPL version 3 (GPLv3)introduced an approach to termination that offers distributors of the codean opportunity to correct errors and mistakes in license compliance. Thisapproach allows for enforcement of license compliance consistent with acommunity in which heavy-handed approaches to enforcement, including forfinancial gain, are out of place."

  • Hybrid cloud security: Emerging lessons
    New and emerging security lessons becoming evident as hybrid cloud infrastructures grow up. As hybrid cloud infrastructures mature, so do the collective lessons learned from these implementations.

  • Modular PLC platform runs Linux on Allwinner H5
    UniPi’s “Axon” line of 13 DIN-rail PLC systems for smart home and building automation run Linux on an Allwinner H5, and offer GbE, WiFi, BT, and varying configurations of DIDO, analog I/O, relays, and serial I/O.

  • Block Web traffic in Apache server using .htaccess
    htaccess file is a very important & useful file used to alter the configuration of Apache web server. .htaccess files can be used to change the configuration of the Apache Web Server to enable/disable...

  • How to install XMB forum on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
    XMB forum also known as eXtreme Message Board is a free and open source forum software written in PHP and uses MySQL database backend. XMB is a simple, lightweight, easy to use, Powerful and highly customizable. In this tutorial, we will learn how to install XMB forum on Ubuntu 16.04.

  • Simple Load Balancing with DNS on Linux
    When you have server back ends built of multiple servers, such as clustered or mirrored web or file servers, a load balancer provides a single point of entry

  • How to install pip on Debian 9
    We will show you, how to install pip on Debian 9. pip is a package management system which you can use to install and manage packages written in Python. Python is a programming language that allows you to perform web development, software development, system administration, scientific and numeric data analysis and much more. The Python Package Index (PyPI) hosts thousands of third-party modules for Python and you can install any of these modules using the pip package manager. Installing Pip on Debian is really an easy task, just follow the steps bellow carefully and you should have pip installed on a Debian 9 VPS in few minutes.

  • Raspberry Pi 3B+ Speeds Up Three Ways
    Although the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ may not be the huge breakthrough that we expect to see with next year’s Raspberry Pi 4, it’s certainly a welcome improvement that should help the platform continue to dominate.

  • How to create a Bash completion script
    I recently worked on creating a Bash completion script for a project, and I enjoyed it very much. In this post, I will try to familiarize you with the process of creating a Bash completion script.What is Bash completion?Bash completion is a functionality through which Bash helps users type their commands more quickly and easily. It does this by presenting possible options when users press the Tab key while typing a more

  • How to Switch to Xorg from Wayland in Ubuntu 17.10
    The default display server in Ubuntu 17.10 is Wayland instead of the usual Xorg. If you are still using apps that only run in X11, here’s how you can easily switch to Xorg from Wayland in Ubuntu 17.10

  • Seeking Fellows for a Better Internet: Apply
    More than ever, we need a movement to ensure the internet remains a force for good. We need people who stop the spread of misinformation, who put individuals in control of their data, and who keep artificial intelligence accountable. We need people who ensure smart cities and next-generation voice technology are diverse and equitable, and who conduct open research. Mozilla Fellows do just this. And today, we’re opening applications for our 2018-2019 cohort of Mozilla Fellows, with $1.2 million in support.

Linux Insider

  • LG Offers Open Source webOS to Spur Development in South Korea
    LG has announced a plan to release a new open source version of its webOS platform as part of a deal with South Korea's government to encourage startup initiatives. Working with NIPA, the agency responsible for tech sector development, LG plans to solicit proposals from hundreds of startups, and provide logistical and technical support to the most promising candidates.

  • Google Opens Maps APIs and World Becomes Dev Playground
    Google plans to open its Maps APIs to video game developers, which could result in far more realistic settings in augmented reality games. With access to real-time map updates and rich location data, developers will have many choices of settings for their games. The APIs will provide devs with what Google has described as a "living model of the world" to use as a foundation for game worlds.

  • New Raspberry Pi Packs More Power
    The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Wednesday launched the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. The new release comes two years after the introduction of its predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The Raspberry Pi computer runs the open source Raspbian operating system. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is an incremental upgrade to a line of predecessors that have become entrenched in education, hobbyist and industry markets.

  • SpaceChain, Arch Aim to Archive Human Knowledge in Space
    SpaceChain has teamed with the Arch Mission Foundation to use open source technology to launch an ambitious project involving the storage of large data sets in spacecraft and on other planets. Arch Mission will load large quantities of data onto SpaceChain's satellite vehicles with the eventual aim of storing data on other planets. The joint effort will help launch the Earth Library.

  • Deepin Desktop Props Up Pardus Linux
    The Pardus Linux distro offers an inviting computing experience with both old and new options. However, a dual development path narrows its user appeal. Pardus suffers from sharing its personality -- splitting its attention between an enterprise edition and a community version. While they both share the same distro name, they come from different developer teams.

  • Kali Linux Security App Lands in Microsoft Store
    Kali Linux, a penetration testing app from Offensive Security, has become available in the Microsoft Store. Windows 10 users can download and install the Kali Linux app onto the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Microsoft last summer announced that WSL, which makes it possible to run operating systems like Ubuntu, would become a fully supported part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

  • Microsoft Gives Devs More Open Source Quantum Computing Goodies
    Microsoft has announced the first major upgrade to its Quantum Development Kit since its introduction last year. It has added several new features designed to open the platform to a wider array of developers, including support for Linux and macOS, as well as additional open source libraries. Further, the kit will be interoperable with the Python computing language.

  • Red Hat Adds Zing to High-Density Storage
    Red Hat has announced the addition of high-density storage capabilities to its in-memory data management technology. The company has expanded an alliance with Azul Systems to build on their prior collaboration to provide entitlements for Azul Zing with JBoss Data Grid subscriptions. The arrangement will help customers meet speed and volume needs for their big data environments.

  • When It's Time for a Linux Distro Change
    It's common for Linux users to hop between distributions and survey the field, and I recently reached a point where I had to seriously rethink the one I was using most of the time. Between hardware compatibility issues with my old standby and some discouraging missteps with other go-to choices, I felt the time had come to reassess my pool of preferred distributions and repopulate it from scratch.

  • Endless OS Helps Tear Down Linux Wall
    The Endless OS is a distro with its own adapted desktop environment based on Gnome 3, and with an even simpler and more streamlined user experience. Although it looks and feels a lot like an Android shell running on a PC, Endless OS is a fully functional Linux distro designed to be easy to install and use. The latest version includes automatic updates and improved application launch speeds.

  • Suse, AWS Nudge SAP Customers to the Cloud
    Suse recently entered an agreement to expand its relationship with AWS, allowing Suse Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications to be sold directly on the AWS Marketplace. AWS customers that are running SAP workloads on Suse Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications -- a leading platform for SAP Hana and SAP S/4Hana -- will get integrated and streamlined support from AWS and Suse.

  • SentinelOne Debuts Unified OS Threat Protection
    SentinelOne this week announced a partnership with Microsoft to bolster threat protection for mixed platform users, making computing safer for Linux machines in a multiplatform workplace. SentinelOne will integrate its Endpoint Protection Platform with Microsoft's Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service to cover Mac and Linux device platforms.

  • Kudos to Namib Linux for Making Arch Approachable
    Namib is an ideal Linux distro for anyone who wants to ease into the Arch approach to computing. Namib is a newcomer -- the third and current release arrived late last year. However, it makes up for its lack of age by its performance. Namib makes Arch simple. Surprisingly very user-friendly as well as compatible with older computers, Namib also is very stable.

  • Open Up the Source Code to Lock Down Your Data
    Meaningful security is more than an app or an OS. It's a mindset. Linux security tools by themselves will not make you or anyone more secure. Security requires trade-offs in convenience, so the tools I'll highlight here are not recommended as "daily drivers." Only you can determine your ideal balance point. Perhaps the single greatest strength of Linux is that it is open source.

  • WiFi Routers Riddled With Holes: Report
    Most WiFi router vendors have not patched numerous firmware vulnerabilities discovered more than two years ago, according to a new report. OEM firmware built into WiFi routers use open source components that contain numerous known security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. Insignary conducted comprehensive binary code scans for known security vulnerabilities in WiFi routers.

  • Open Source Software Turns 20-Something
    Saturday marks the 20th Anniversary of open source, sort of. Open source led to a new software development and distribution model that offered an alternative to proprietary software. No single event takes the prize for starting the technology revolution. However, Feb. 3, 1998, is one of the more significant dates. On that day, Christine Peterson, a futurist and lecturer in the field of nanotechnology, coined the "open source" term.

  • Skype Comes to Linux in a Snap
    Canonical has announced the availability of Skype as a Snap file, the universal Linux app packaging format. Skype now can deliver its communication service to a wider range of Linux users, not just those who run Canonical's Ubuntu Linux distribution. Skype, a Microsoft product, is an application that lets users make video and voice calls, and send files, video and instant messages.

  • Privacy-Minded Smart Speaker May Struggle to Get to Know You
    Mycroft AI earlier this week announced that its Mark II smart speaker achieved full funding on Kickstarter in just 6.5 hours. As of Wednesday, pledges reached more than three times its $50K goal -- with 23 days remaining in the campaign. The Mark II is positioned as an open source alternative to the dominant Amazon Echo line of smart speakers and its main challenger, the Google Home device.

  • Free Linux Tool Monitors Systems for Meltdown Attacks
    SentinelOne has released Blacksmith, a free Linux tool that can detect Meltdown vulnerability exploitation attempts. The company has been working on a similar tool to detect Spectre vulnerability attacks. Though free, Blacksmith is not open source. SentinelOne decided to expedite its development in-house to save time, said Raj Rajamani, vice president of product management.

  • SolydXK Plasma Rewards Effort With Stunning Results
    SolydXK is a Debian-based Linux distribution that comes with a choice of the Xfce or KDE desktop. The latest edition of SolydXK, released this month, provides a state-of-the-art Linux platform. Since I first reviewed the SoldXK distro back in 2013, it has grown into a reputable Linux offering built around two popular computing options. Those two desktop options drew me to the Linux OS years ago.

  • Quest Updates Toad Open Source Database Tools
    Quest Software on Monday announced a series of updates to its Toad open source database software applications, including new versions of its Toad Edge, Toad Data Point and Toad Intelligence Central products. After launching the first version of Toad Edge last summer, the company began seeing an uptick in downloads of freeware that supported MySQL on its Toad World community site.

  • SpaceX Launch Last Year Punched Huge, Temporary Hole In the Ionosphere
    The Falcon 9 rocket that launched last August reportedly ripped a temporary hole in the ionosphere due to its vertical launch, which Ars Technica notes as being rather unusual: Contrary to popular belief, most of the time when a rocket launches, it does not go straight up into outer space. Rather, shortly after launch, most rockets will begin to pitch over into the downrange direction, limiting gravity drag and stress on the vehicle. Often, by 80 or 100km, a rocket is traveling nearly parallel to the Earth's surface before releasing its payload into orbit. However, in August of last year, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from California did not make such a pitch over maneuver. Rather, the Formosat-5 mission launched vertically and stayed that way for most of its ascent into space. The rocket could do this because the Taiwanese payload was light for the Falcon 9 rocket, weighing only 475kg and bound for an orbit 720km above the Earth's surface. As a result of this launch profile, the rocket maintained a nearly vertical trajectory all the way through much of the Earth's ionosphere, which ranges from about 60km above the planet to 1,000km up. In doing so, the Falcon 9 booster and its second stage created unique, circular shockwaves. The rocket launch also punched a temporary, 900-km-wide hole into the plasma of the ionosphere.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • World's Largest Animal Study On Cell Tower Radiation Confirms Cancer Link
    capedgirardeau shares a report from Digital Journal: Researchers with the renowned Ramazzini Institute (RI) in Italy announce that a large-scale, lifetime study (PDF) of lab animals exposed to environmental levels of cell tower radiation developed cancer. The RI study also found increases in malignant brain (glial) tumors in female rats and precancerous conditions including Schwann cells hyperplasia in both male and female rats. A study of much higher levels of cell phone radiofrequency (RF) radiation, from the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), has also reported finding the same unusual cancer called Schwannoma of the heart in male rats treated at the highest dose. The Ramazzini study exposed 2448 Sprague-Dawley rats from prenatal life until their natural death to "environmental" cell tower radiation for 19 hours per day (1.8 GHz GSM radiofrequency radiation (RFR) of 5, 25 and 50 V/m). RI exposures mimicked base station emissions like those from cell tower antennas, and exposure levels were far less than those used in the NTP studies of cell phone radiation. "All of the exposures used in the Ramazzini study were below the U.S. FCC limits. These are permissible exposures according the FCC. In other words, a person can legally be exposed to this level of radiation. Yet cancers occurred in these animals at these legally permitted levels. The Ramazzini findings are consistent with the NTP study demonstrating these effects are a reproducible finding," explained Ronald Melnick PhD, formerly the Senior NIH toxicologist who led the design of the NTP study on cell phone radiation now a Senior Science Advisor to Environmental Health Trust (EHT). "Governments need to strengthen regulations to protect the public from these harmful non-thermal exposures."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • FCC's New 5G Rules Favor Fast Setup Over Federal Reviews
    In a 3-2, party-line vote Thursday, FCC commissioners passed a measure that exempts small cell radio deployments from federal environmental and historical preservation reviews originally meant for large cell phone towers. The vote didn't affect reviews from towns and cities, but the agency may consider exemptions for those reviews later this year. CNET reports: Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has been leading the agency's charge in promoting 5G. He said the exemptions are sorely needed because reviews have been costing wireless operators too much and have slowed deployments. In 2017, these federal reviews cost providers $36 million. He anticipates that as 5G deployments increase in the coming year they could cost providers as much as $241 million. Meanwhile, he said FCC records show that less than 1 percent of cases reviewed resulted in any changes to planned deployments. "The disproportionate fees are the product of a broken and outdated system," Carr said. "This threatens to hold us back in the race to 5G or limit the business case to densely populated or affluent areas." He added that with Thursday's rule change, the FCC "can flip the business case for thousands of communities." Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, however, said that though the current reviews process does involve red tape, Thursday's change "misses the mark" and also runs afoul of key environmental and historic preservation values.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • South Korea To Shut Off Computers Past 19:00 Hours To Stop People Working Late
    dryriver shares a report from the BBC: The government in South Korea's capital is introducing a new initiative to force its employees to leave work on time -- by powering down all their computers at 20:00 on Fridays. It says it is trying to stop a "culture of working overtime." South Korea has some of the longest working hours in the world. Government employees there work an average of 2,739 hours a year -- about 1,000 hours more than workers in other developed countries. The shutdown initiative in the Seoul Metropolitan Government is set to roll out across three phases over the next three months. The program will begin on March 30, with all computers switched off by 20:00. The second phase starts in April, with employees having their computers turned off by 19:30 on the second and fourth Friday that month. From May on, the program will be in full-swing, with computers shut off by 19:00 every Friday. According to a SMG statement, all employees will be subjected to the shutdown, though exemptions may be provided in special circumstances. However, not every government worker seems to be on-board -- according to the SMG, 67.1% of government workers have asked to be exempt from the forced lights-out. Earlier this month, South Korea's national assembly passed a law to cut down the maximum weekly working hours to 52, down from 68.'

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Experts Say Video of Uber's Self-Driving Car Killing a Pedestrian Suggests Its Technology May Have Failed
    Ever since the Tempe police released a video of Uber's self-driving car hitting and killing a pedestrian, experts have been racing to analyze the footage and determine what exactly went wrong. (If you haven't watched the video, you can do so here. Warning: it's disturbing, though the actual impact is removed.) In a blog post, software architect and entrepreneur Brad Templeton highlights some of the big issues with the video:  1. On this empty road, the LIDAR is very capable of detecting her. If it was operating, there is no way that it did not detect her 3 to 4 seconds before the impact, if not earlier. She would have come into range just over 5 seconds before impact.  2.On the dash-cam style video, we only see her 1.5 seconds before impact. However, the human eye and quality cameras have a much better dynamic range than this video, and should have also been able to see her even before 5 seconds. From just the dash-cam video, no human could brake in time with just 1.5 seconds warning. The best humans react in just under a second, many take 1.5 to 2.5 seconds. 3. The human safety driver did not see her because she was not looking at the road. She seems to spend most of the time before the accident looking down to her right, in a style that suggests looking at a phone. 4.While a basic radar which filters out objects which are not moving towards the car would not necessarily see her, a more advanced radar also should have detected her and her bicycle (though triggered no braking) as soon as she entered the lane to the left, probably 4 seconds before impact at least. Braking could trigger 2 seconds before, in theory enough time.)   To be clear, while the car had the right-of-way and the victim was clearly unwise to cross there, especially without checking regularly in the direction of traffic, this is a situation where any properly operating robocar following "good practices," let alone "best practices," should have avoided the accident regardless of pedestrian error. That would not be true if the pedestrian were crossing the other way, moving immediately into the right lane from the right sidewalk. In that case no technique could have avoided the event. The overall consensus among experts is that one or several pieces of the driverless system may have failed, from the LIDAR system to the logic system that's supposed to identify road objects, to the communications channels that are supposed to apply the brakes, or the car's automatic braking system itself. According to Los Angeles Times, "Driverless car experts from law and academia called on Uber to release technical details of the accident so objective researchers can help figure out what went wrong and relay their findings to other driverless system makers and to the public."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • KeepVid Site No Longer Allows Users To 'Keep' Videos
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: For many years, KeepVid has been a prime destination for people who wanted to download videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, Facebook, Vimeo, and dozens of other sites. The web application was free and worked without any hassle. This was still the case earlier this month when the site advertised itself as follows: "KeepVid Video Downloader is a free web application that allows you to download videos from sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch.Tv, Vimeo, Dailymotion and many more." However, a few days ago the site radically changed its course. While the motivation is unknown at the time, KeepVid took its popular video download service offline without prior notice. Today, people can no longer use the KeepVid site to download videos. On the contrary, the site warns that using video download and conversion tools might get people in trouble. "Video downloading from the Internet will become more and more difficult, and KeepVid encourages people to download videos via the correct and legal ways," the new KeepVid reads. The site now lists several alternative options to enjoy videos and music, including Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Pandora.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Instagram Will Show More Recent Posts Due To Algorithm Backlash
    Instagram announced today that it will show more new posts and stop suddenly bumping you to the top of the feed while you're scrolling. "With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won't miss the moments you care about," Instagram writes. TechCrunch reports: Instagram switched from a reverse chronological feed to a relevancy-sorted feed in June 2016, leading to lots of grumbling from hardcore users. While it made sure you wouldn't miss the most popular posts from your close friends, showing days-old posts made Instagram feel stale. And for certain types of professional content creators and merchants, cutting their less likable posts out of the feed -- like their calls to buy their products or follow their other social accounts -- was detrimental to their business. Instagram and Facebook moved to hide these posts over time because they can feel spammy.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Reddit Bans Subreddits Related To Selling Guns, Drugs, Sex, and More
    New submitter cornholed writes: Yesterday, Reddit updated their Content Policy forbidding transactions for certain goods and services. From the formal announcement on Reddit: "As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including: firearms, ammunition, or explosives; drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, or any controlled substances (except advertisements placed in accordance with our advertising policy); paid services involving physical sexual contact; stolen goods; personal information; falsified official documents or currency." Bloomberg has an interesting write-up on how Reddit is wading into the gun control debate. See this post on Reddit for a full-list of all subreddits banned. "Reddit has been something of a Wild West for users building communities by curating and commenting on content in subreddits," reports Bloomberg. "Sometimes, as in the case with gun sales, marketplaces emerge in the course of conversations within specific communities. With Reddit's increased popularity -- the site is the sixth-most-visited in the world -- has come introspection and stricter content guidelines. The company recognizes its responsibility for having provided a platform for hate groups to flourish and, more recently, the possibility that Russian propaganda on the site may have played a role in influencing the 2016 presidential election."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • New R2D2 Technique Protects Files Against Wiper Malware, Secure Delete Apps
    An anonymous reader writes: Purdue University scientists have developed a data protection technique called Reactive Redundancy for Data Destruction (R2D2) that can safeguard data sitting inside a virtual machine from modern data-wiping malware and even some secure file deletion methods. The technique was developed to protect enterprise systems, which are often running inside VMs. Researchers say the new technique was successful in preventing wiper malware such as Shamoon (v1 and v2), StoneDrill, and Destover from deleting data during their experiments, but it was able to prevent data deletion attempted with legitimate "secure delete" applications. When such operations are detected, R2D2 runs each one through a series of policies that evaluate the operation for known destructive patterns. If the scan triggers a warning, the VM creates a temporary checkpoint that a human operator can use as a system restore point.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Human Driver Could Have Avoided Fatal Uber Crash, Experts Say
    An anonymous reader shares a report: The pedestrian killed Sunday by a self-driving Uber SUV had crossed at least one open lane of road before being hit, according to a video of the crash that raises new questions about autonomous-vehicle technology. Forensic crash analysts who reviewed the video said a human driver could have responded more quickly to the situation, potentially saving the life of the victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. Other experts said Uber's self-driving sensors should have detected the pedestrian as she walked a bicycle across the open road at 10 p.m., despite the dark conditions. Herzberg's death is the first major test of a nascent autonomous vehicle industry that has presented the technology as safer than humans who often get distracted while driving. For human driving in the U.S., there's roughly one death every 86 million miles, while autonomous vehicles have driven no more than 15 to 20 million miles in the country so far, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. "As an ever greater number of autonomous vehicles drive ever an ever greater number of miles, investors must contemplate a legal and ethical landscape that may be difficult to predict," the analysts wrote in a research note following the Sunday collision. "The stock market is likely too aggressive on the pace of adoption."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Atlanta City Government Systems Down Due To Ransomware Attack
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The city of Atlanta government has apparently become the victim of a ransomware attack. The city's official Twitter account announced that the city government "is currently experiencing outages on various customer facing applications, including some that customers may use to pay bills or access court-related information." According to a report from Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA, a city employee sent the station a screen shot of a ransomware message demanding a payment of $6,800 to unlock each computer or $51,000 to provide all the keys for affected systems. Employees received emails from the city's information technology department instructing them to unplug their computers if they noticed anything suspicious. An internal email shared with WXIA said that the internal systems affected include the city's payroll application. "At this time, our Atlanta Information Management team is working diligently with support from Microsoft to resolve the issue," a city spokesperson told Ars. "We are confident that our team of technology professionals will be able to restore applications soon." The city's primary website remains online, and the city government will continue to post updates there, the spokesperson added.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Researchers Finally Solve Mystery of 'Alien' Skeleton
    When the mummified remains of a six-inch humanoid were found in an abandoned mining town in Chile's Atacama desert 15 years ago, speculation on its origins ran wild. The skeleton, it is being reported, was so bizarre it appeared in a documentary as potential evidence for alien life. But now scientists in California have extracted DNA from the mummy's bones and pieced together the real and tragic story of the individual, known as Ata. Rather than a visitor from another world, Ata was a girl who appears to have been stillborn, or to have died immediately after birth, with devastating mutations that shaped her extraordinary body. From a report: Now, the authors of a study based on five years of genomic analysis want to set the record straight: Ata is human, albeit one with multiple bone disease-associated mutations. And they believe that their findings, published Thursday in the journal Genome Research, could help diagnose genetic mutation-based cases for living patients. In 2003, Ata was found in a deserted mining town called La Noria, in Chile's Atacama region. It was thought to be ancient at first, but initial analysis conducted in 2012 proved that the skeleton was only about 40 years old. This meant DNA would still be intact and could be retrieved for study.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Trump Announces $60 Billion Tariff on Chinese High-Tech and Other Goods
    Following months of investigations by the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Trump administration announced on Thursday at a White House briefing that the administration intends to place about $60 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods, with the bulk of them likely to be focused on the high-tech industry. The White House will announce a final list of goods subject to the tariffs in the next few weeks. From a report: "We've lost over a fairly short period of time, 60,000 factories in our country. Closed, shuttered, gone. Six million jobs at least, gone. And now they are starting to come back," President Trump said during the briefing. "The word that I want to use is reciprocal -- when they charge 25 percent for a car to go in, and we charge 2 percent for their car to come into the United States, that's not good. That's how China rebuilt itself."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Online Piracy Is More Popular Than Ever, Research Suggests
    An anonymous user writes: A broad and detailed report from piracy tracking outfit MUSO shows that visits to pirate sites went up last year. The company recorded more than 300 billion visits in 2017, which suggests that "piracy is more popular than ever." TV remained the most popular category and most pirates prefer streaming over torrents or direct downloading.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Facebook Gave Data About 57 Billion Friendships To Academic
    Before Facebook suspended Aleksandr Kogan from its platform for the data harvesting "scam" at the centre of the unfolding Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media company enjoyed a close enough relationship with the researcher that it provided him with an anonymised, aggregate dataset of 57bn Facebook friendships. From a report: Facebook provided the dataset of "every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level" to Kogan's University of Cambridge laboratory for a study on international friendships published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2015. Two Facebook employees were named as co-authors of the study, alongside researchers from Cambridge, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. Kogan was publishing under the name Aleksandr Spectre at the time. A University of Cambridge press release on the study's publication noted that the paper was "the first output of ongoing research collaborations between Spectre's lab in Cambridge and Facebook." Facebook did not respond to queries about whether any other collaborations occurred. "The sheer volume of the 57bn friend pairs implies a pre-existing relationship," said Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. "It's not common for Facebook to share that kind of data. It suggests a trusted partnership between Aleksandr Kogan/Spectre and Facebook."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Guns, audio and eye-tracking: VR nearly ready for prime time
    The future is finally getting into gear
    GDC Virtual reality reemerged in the past couple of years as a hot tech topic. However, the unfortunate truth – fiercely ignored by its passionate advocates – is that it hasn't been ready for primetime.…

  • Reflection of a QR code on PoS scanner used to own mobile payments
    Chinese researcher also cracked magnetic and sonic payments
    Black Hat Asia Paying for stuff with your smartphone is downright dangerous according to Zhe Zhou, a pre-tenure associate professor at Fudan University, who yesterday explained how three different payment methods can be cracked at Black Hat Asia in Singapore.…

  • Dodo, Commander, iPrimus are very sorry about 100/40 NBN plans
    Regulator secured refund/exit deals for 16,000 unhappy customers this week
    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's push-back against internet service providers making over overly-optimistic download speed claims on the national broadband network has seen Dodo, iPrimus and Commander agree to refund their customers.…

  • Probe: How IBM ousts older staff, replaces them with young blood
    Big Blue's five-year effort to weed out elders detailed after deep-dive investigation
    IBM for the past five years has been pushing older employees out of the company and replacing them with younger staffers in the US or moving the jobs overseas, it is claimed.…

  • Vodafone is UK's mobile ping king
    It's not all about speed
    Vodafone is the mobile network with the best ping rate, according to network performance sleuth Tutela.…

  • The Register Lecture: How to build your own tractor beam
    Bristol's Dr Asier Marzo on acoustic levitation
    Levitation and tractor beams are the stuff of science fiction legend. Think Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Steven Spielberg’s Back to the Future II in 1989, or any number of Star Trek episodes.…

  • F-35B Block 4 software upgrades will cost Britain 345m
    After we leave the EU we could cover that in a week with change to spare ... allegedly
    Britain will spend 345m ($486m) upgrading its F-35B fighter jets to the most recent, combat-ready, version of the aircraft’s operating system.…

  • Diplomats, 'Net greybeards work to disarm USA, China and Russia’s cyber-weapons
    Because when state attacks blow back, the taxpayers who paid to have them developed pay again
    Black Hat Asia The USA, China and Russia are doing all that they can to avoid development of a treaty that would make it hard for them to conduct cyber-war, but an effort led by the governments of The Netherlands, France and Singapore, together with Microsoft and The Internet Society, is using diplomacy to find another way to stop state-sponsored online warfare.…

  • Holy sweat! Wearables have THREE attack surfaces
    The device, the app and the cloud, and your development lifecycle isn’t fit enough to catch up
    Black Hat Asia Wearable devices – and anything that relies on an app to help with configuration – has at least three attack surfaces and your existing secure development lifecycle probably isn’t going to cope with the complexity that creates.…

  • Colt, Verizon show off inter-carrier SDN
    Care for some extra bandwidth? Just turn the knob
    One thing that's always been promised in telco-land, but rarely delivered, is genuine automation between carrier networks. At the end of last week, Verizon and Colt claimed to crack it with an inter-carrier software-defined-networking (SDN) demo.…

  • Everybody loves Microsoft's open switch software, SONiC
    Plus news from F5, Palo Alto and Dell EMC in your networking news capsule
    Roundup This week's networking news roundup isn't only “what happened at the Open Compute Project summit?” – there's also news from F5, Palo Alto Networks, and Dell EMC.…

  • What ends with X and won't sue security researchers?
    Netflix lures bounty-hunters, Dropbox offers vulnerability research safe harbour
    If you listen carefully, you'll hear the sound of a very small ship coming in: Netflix has joined Bugcrowd, offering bounties of up to US$15,000 for vulnerabilities.…

  • US mulls drafting gray-haired hackers during times of crisis
    Shortage of tech talent has government pondering end to age, gender restrictions
    A US government commission has asked the public for its thoughts on possible changes to the military's selective service rules to allow the conscription of technical talent, including those with computer-oriented skills, regardless of sex or age.… offline for now

  • Fedora 28 Beta Has Been Delayed
    It's time for the Fedora 28 release dance and to place your bets if F28 will be released on time or is another Fedora release challenged by release delays...

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Benchmarks
    Last week on Pi Day marked the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with a slightly higher clocked Cortex-A53 processors, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, faster Ethernet, and other minor enhancements over its predecessor. I've been spending the past few days putting the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ through its paces the past few days with an array of benchmarks while comparing the performance to other ARM SBCs as well as a few lower-end Intel x86 systems too. Here is all you need to know about the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ performance.

  • Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux With Radeon / GeForce GPUs On The Latest 2018 Drivers
    Given how fiercely the latest open-source AMD Linux driver code is running now up against NVIDIA's long-standing flagship Linux GPU driver, you might be curious how well that driver stacks up against the Radeon Software driver on Windows? Well, you are in luck as here are some fresh benchmarks of the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 as well as the GeForce GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 Ti while being tested both under Microsoft Windows 10 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS while using the latest AMD/NVIDIA drivers on each platform.

  • Mesa 17.3.7 Released With A Bunch Of Fixes
    While Mesa 18.0 should finally be out on Friday as the major quarterly update to the Mesa 3D drivers, Mesa 17.3.7 is out today and it's a rather big update for being just another point release to last month's 17.3 series...

  • AMD Posts Open-Source Driver Patches For Vega 12
    It's been a while since last hearing anything about the rumored "Vega 12" GPU but coming out this morning are a set of 42 patches providing support for this unreleased GPU within the mainline Linux kernel...

  • Slax Linux Distribution Begins Planning For Its First 2018 Release
    Arriving last Christmas was a rejuvenated release of Slax, the long-running, lightweight Linux distribution with its development restarting last year and having shifted from being a Slackware derivative to Debian and moving from KDE to Fluxbox+Compton. Those involved are working on a new Slax release for 2018...


  • Now The Church of England takes Apple Pay and Google Pay

    What can a church do when its younger parishioners stop carrying coins they can toss into the donation box? In the Church of England's case, it's to offer high-tech collection plates that accept Apple Pay, Google Pay and SMS mobile payments. According to the launch the option in all 16,000 churches throughout England before the year ends, not just for donation collection, but also for collecting fees for weddings, christenings, concerts and funerals.

    The Church's "collection plate" is actually a portable SumUp Air card reader, which you can see above. It's still trialing contactless payments before it expands their availability, but one of the issues it sees going forward is that transferring money through Apple or Google Pay takes more time than dropping coins into a bag. It has to find a way to make collection via digital means more practical and viable if it wants to use it for one-off donations.

    At least one reverend was thrilled with how things went during the trial period -- Margaret Cave from Christchurch in East Greenwich told the BBC that it was "great" and that she is "going to keep" the option. "It makes us feel like we're part of the 21st century, and we can take payments in a safe and secure way," Cave added. If other C of E reverends share her view, then more parishioners might see contactless payment options for donation in the near future.

    Via: Apple Insider

    Source: BBC

  • Samsung is 'looking into' Galaxy S9 touchscreen issues

    Tonight Samsung has responded to growing reports of Galaxy S9/S9+ phones with touchscreen problems. Reddit and Samsung's own support forums where owners have noted issues with their phones registering touches. Where on the device they see this issue has varied, and some said they were able to resolve it with a factory reset or turning up the sensitivity but most needed a new phone. A Samsung spokesperson said to Engadget that "We are looking into a limited number of reports of Galaxy S9/S9+ touchscreen responsiveness issues," and encouraged any owners with problems to contact the company directly.

    Of course, we've seen worse hardware issues, and iPhones have had their own bouts with things like "touch disease" but we'll be watching carefully to see if this issue is truly widespread or limited to just a few devices.

    At Samsung, customer satisfaction is core to our business and we aim to deliver the best possible experience. We are looking into a limited number of reports of Galaxy S9/S9+ touchscreen responsiveness issues. We are working with affected customers and investigating.

    We encourage any customer with questions to contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG.

    via bobdurfob

    Source: Android Police, 9to5Google, Samsung support forum, PiunikaWeb

  • Researchers develop device that extracts water from desert air

    Researchers at MIT and UC Berkeley have developed and now tested a device that can extract water out of the air even in the driest of climates. The team proposed the device in a Science article last year and now they've improved the design and tried it out in Tempe, Arizona. While there are a few ways to pull water out of the air, most come with significant limitations. They usually require humidities upwards of 50 percent and some need a lot of energy input to make them work. The research team's latest design, however, works passively, without the need for energy input, and can work in places with humidity as low as 10 percent.

    The core of the design is a material called a metal-organic framework, or MOF. It's made up of linked molecules that create a super porous material with lots of surface area. And depending on what you make the MOF with, it can be very hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water. See the video below for more on this type of material. The MOF used here is able to pull water from the air and store it in its pores, which it does during the night. Then come daytime, sunlight is used to release the water and a condenser is used to harvest it. The system is completely passive and the research team showed it can work even in the arid Arizona climate.

    Tested over five daily cycles in May 2017, the water output was estimated to be around a quarter of a liter per kilogram of MOF. Additionally, the team tested the water for impurities and found that the MOF wasn't leaching into it. Next, the researchers want to scale up the system and make it more efficient. "We hope to have a system that's able to produce liters of water," Evelyn Wang, who lead the research, said in a statement.

    The work was published today in Nature Communications.

    Via: MIT

    Source: Nature Communications

  • Tesla says it’s being underpaid because its batteries are too fast

    It looks like Tesla's batteries are too fast for their own good. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, the company claims it's not being properly paid for the electricity its South Australia battery farm is generating for the country's power grid. And Tesla says its because its batteries supply electricity faster than the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) can register. The current standards are based on response rates for fossil fuel generators, but Tesla's batteries can respond much more quickly than they do. "Tesla estimates that the Hornsdale Power Reserve battery has delivered 30 to 40 percent of its services to frequency markets without being paid due to existing AEMO technical specifications being written based on fossil fuel generation assets," Tesla said.

    The South Australian battery farm went live last December and it has already proven its worth. In January, the AEMO asked energy companies to provide power to the grid, which it does when there's a system outage or planned maintenance. That typically drives up energy prices and during this particular incident, prices were expected to reach around AU$9,000/MW. But Tesla's batteries and an adjoining wind farm kicked in and kept prices around AU$270/MW, saving the energy market millions of dollars.

    In the US, Tesla's batteries are used in California, Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts and Puerto Rico. They're also used to run the island of Ta'u and are being incorporated into a Canadian pilot project that will test a hybrid of battery and wind power.

    Via: Electrek

  • Hands-on with the sci-fi game that falls apart as you play

    You're never going to play Clunker Junker in your living room or on your desktop PC, no matter how many GPUs it has. Hardware is the issue here, but it's not a matter of processing power -- Clunker Junker requires two LED-adorned arm cranks, plus four crates with glowing lights and doors that come crashing down when they're unlatched during gameplay. The game itself, to be fair, runs on a laptop, but that's about as traditional as this thing gets.

    Clunker Junker is a cooperative space shooter for two players. Each crew member has a handheld, gun-like controller that stretches from palm to elbow; it's made to be held in the left hand, with a crank on the right side, a navigation cube on the base and an LED spout on the front. The spout fits into openings in the four crates, representing different aspects of the spaceship -- movement, shields, weapons and engine.

    Players stick their navigation cubes into squares cut in the top of two of the boxes; one person controls where the ship goes while the other manages the direction of the turrets. When the on-screen ship takes damage (and, trust me, all Clunker Junker players will take damage at some point), flaps on the front of the affected boxes slam down, their innards glowing red and demanding repairs. Fix up the ship by sticking the LED gun into the appropriate hole and turning the crank until the box glows green again. Then close the flap and get back to steering the ship or shooting with the turret -- or fixing whatever else has broken in the interim.

    Clunker Junker is a fast-paced, communication-driven video game that doubles as a solid arm workout. Its creators at experimental studio HNRY know how to build physical experiences with real impact: Last year, they took home the alt.ctrl.GDC award at the Independent Games Festival for their Fear Sphere project. Not bad for a group of folks making weird games in their spare time, just for fun.

    That's the heart of the alt.ctrl.GDC space -- strange experiences built to push the boundaries of video game development, rather than turn a profit. Clunker Junker may not be heading to the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 any time soon, but the ideas powering its development may, one day, seep into traditional development pipelines.

    Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!

  • Tidal now streams music to both Amazon Fire TV and Android Auto

    When last we heard in December, Norwegian publication Dagens Nringsliv reported that music streaming service Tidal had enough cash to last about six months. But the company is evidently still around and has more to announce: Tidal now has a new app for Amazon's Fire TV products and is compatible with Android Auto.

    Both are useful additions for hearing your tunes on the road or at home. Android Auto is picking up steam, with a couple new head units appearing at CES this year that support the platform. The app for Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick lets users play music on a customized interface suited for large screens.

    As for its longevity, the company told Engadget back in December that they will break even soon and achieve profitability in mid-2018.

    Source: Tidal (Twitter)

  • Venmo temporarily halts instant money transfers

    Did you need a friend to pay you back on Venmo as soon as humanly possible? You might have to twiddle your thumbs for a little while. Venmo has temporarily pulled its instant transfer feature in order to make a "few changes" to the service. You can still use regular bank transfers, but that won't help much if you need that money to pay a bill.

    Venmo didn't go into detail when asked about the pause, but said it was done to handle "technical issues." Some users should already see it coming back.

    This isn't the first hiccup with the service. The Verge noted that Venmo took the feature down in February due to a "brief disruption." It's not a good look for Venmo to freeze one of its most valuable features, however, and the removal comes when PayPal, Square and Zelle all have their own instant money transfer options. Venmo risks ceding ground if its immediate payments aren't as reliable as those of its rivals.
    We're making a few changes to our instant transfer feature, and it is currently unavailable. Our priority is to ensure we're giving you the best experience, and we're sorry for any inconvenience. Our standard bank transfer option is still available in the meantime.
    — VenmoSupport (@VenmoSupport) March 21, 2018
    Via: The Verge

    Source: Venmo Support (Twitter)

  • Wirecutter's best deals: The UE Roll 2 Bluetooth speaker drops to $50

    This post was done in partnership with Amazon Echo Spot

    Street Price: $130; Deal Price: $104

    At $104, this is a new low price for the Echo Spot, our clock radio Echo pick in our guide to Amazon Echo speakers. This Alexa-powered speaker that features a screen is one of the newer additions to Amazon's line and we haven't seen a ton of deals for it to this point. The Echo Spot is It's usually $130, so grab one at this price while you can.

    The Amazon Echo Spot is our clock radio pick in our guide to Amazon's line of Alexa-enabled speakers. Grant Clauser wrote, "Like the Echo Show, the Echo Spot's defining features are a built-in camera and an LCD screen that can display a clock, song lyrics, or videos or allow video chats with other Spots, Shows, or the Alexa smartphone app. The Spot is about the size of a softball, and the screen is only 2.5 inches wide, making it perfect for a bedside clock (it includes six clock faces), but too small to watch anything longer than a film trailer."
    STM Prime Laptop Backpack

    Street Price: $80; Deal Price: $64 w/ code PRETTYDAY

    Apply code PRETTYDAY in cart to drop the price of this backpack to $64, only a dollar higher than the low we've posted for the STM Prime previously. This backpack typically goes for $80, so it's a nice discount. The Black, Frost Grey, and Steel colors are all eligible for the deal.

    The STM Prime Laptop backpack is our smaller laptops pick in our guide to our favorite laptop backpacks. Dan Frakes wrote, "Not everyone wants to lug their entire office around—or wants a backpack big enough to let them. If you prefer to travel light, or if you're looking for a bag that better fits someone of smaller stature, STM's Prime holds a 13-inch laptop and the essentials (and a bit more when you need it) in a compact, lightweight backpack that's comfortable and protective while still managing to keep everything organized."
    Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

    Street Price: $70; Deal Price: $59

    At $59, this is a nice drop on the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Deals on this controller are still comparatively rare, and while we've seen them increase in frequency this year, this is the second lowest price we've seen for this controller. For this long-term Switch gaming with larger hands, this controller is a borderline necessity, so grab one while it's cheap.

    The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller is a staff pick and one of our favorite accessories for the Nintendo Switch in our upcoming guide on Switch accessories. More like a traditional gaming controller than the Joy-Cons, it's a major improvement for extended gameplay sessions or if your hands are too big and get cramped while trying to play with the small Joy-Con controllers. Adam Burakowski said, "While a bit expensive, the Pro controller is worth it for how much it upgrades your gameplay experience over the included Joy-Cons."
    UE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speaker

    Street Price: $75; Deal Price: $50

    If you're looking for a rugged waterproof speaker for your adventures, the UE Roll 2 is a great choice. At $50 for Dell members (free to join), this matches the typical low we see for this Bluetooth speaker. Outside of one outlier deal that briefly took it to $45 last year, we've never seen it lower than $50 and it's often still over $70, so this is still an excellent deal for it.

    The UE Roll 2 is our top pick in our guide to the best portable Bluetooth speaker. Brent Butterworth wrote, "Two and a half years after the introduction of the original (and barely different) UE Roll, the UE Roll 2 remains the Bluetooth speaker we use more than any other, and the one we'd buy if we could own only one. The Roll 2 sounds full, with smooth reproduction of everything from bass notes to cymbals, and it plays loud enough to fill a hotel room or a spot at the beach with sound. It's so watertight it will survive being dunked 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes. The 10-hour tested battery life and 60-foot range are remarkable for a speaker of this size. More than two years of worldwide traveling with the Roll 2 and the original Roll have only confirmed our love for this design. The only real downside is that it lacks a speakerphone function."

    Because great deals don't just happen on Thursday, 'sign up for our daily deals email' and we'll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, 'please go here'.

  • Trump's Chinese tariffs could have a big impact on the tech industry

    Trump has shouted about weaponizing trade since the campaign trail, but this year he's put it to action, committing to solar tariffs back in January that endangered US jobs. This afternoon, Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum to enact tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of imports from China, including products in the tech sector. It is "the first of many" actions, Trump reportedly said as he signed it. China immediately fired back by claiming it would retaliate and "defend its legitimate rights and interests" if the US imposes those restrictions, according to a Ministry of Commerce statement.

    The Trump administration alleged that the trade actions are intended to penalize China for stealing American companies' intellectual property, among other practices. The tariffs and other measures primarily target particular tech products where China has an advantage over US items, including aeronautics, modern rail, new energy vehicles and high-tech products, according to CNBC. A US trade representative who investigated China's possibly unfair trade practices will post a list of those products in 15 days, after which comes a 30-day public comment period.

    Depending on how the first wave of tariffs goes, Trump may consider more actions against China in two weeks. For its part, China has said over and over that it doesn't want a trade war. "It's unrealistic and unreasonable to demand complete equality in trade," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters today, according to CNN. "We hope that both sides can sit down and talk calmly."

    Source: CNN, CNBC

  • GoPro licenses camera tech to other companies amid sales struggles

    There's no question that GoPro is hurting: sales are struggling, its drone plans are dead and it's not clear that the company can survive purely on sales of action cameras like the Hero6. What's it going to do? Offer its technology to other companies, apparently. GoPro has unveiled a licensing deal that lets Jabil use its camera lens and sensor tech for a wide range of products. The two aren't specific about what this will involve, but Jabil sees uses in everything from law enforcement (think body cameras) through to videoconferencing and self-driving cars. Yes, the tech that documents your mountain bike trip could also drive you across town some day.

    Naturally, the licensing isn't expected to allow competing action cameras.

    The pact isn't a complete surprise when GoPro had already worked with Jabil on cameras from the Hero4 onward. However, it's still a rare step for a company well-known for keeping its secrets close to the vest. There's no certainty that GoPro will score many more deals like this, but it's entirely possible that the company could rely on licensing agreements like these to shore up its bottom line. It wouldn't have to depend quite so much on its own camera sales (which fluctuate wildly based on new releases and holidays) to survive.

    Via: TechCrunch

    Source: GoPro

  • CDs and vinyl are outselling digital music downloads

    Digital music downloads began to outsell physical media since 2012. It took four more years for digital music revenue to surpass those from physical media as well. Then streaming happened, and last year generated more money in the US than all the other formats. Now, digital downloads are coming in dead last, with fewer sales than CDs, vinyl or other physical media, according to the latest annual report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

    Even though shipments of physical media dropped 4 percent to $1.5 billion, digital download revenues fell 25 percent to $1.3 billion in 2017, putting CDs and vinyl back on top of non-streaming music formats. Streaming continues to rule the roost, however, accounting for almost two-thirds of the total US music industry revenues in 2017, which represents most of the growth in the sector. One promising new streaming category is the "limited tier" service, like Amazon's unlimited Prime streaming to a single Echo speaker. This group, which also includes Pandora Plus, accounts for 14 percent of the whole subscription market, up from 11 percent the previous year.

    Don't let record execs tell you otherwise; they're doing pretty well. The US music industry is going strong with revenues up $1.1 billion (wholesale) and $2 billion (retail) since 2015. Digital downloads brought in 15 percent of total music industry revenue, with physical media accounting for 17 percent. Records are still cool — the RIAA calls vinyl "a bright spot among physical formats," with revenues from the format up 10 percent to $395 million.

    Via: The Verge

    Source: RIAA

  • EA is teaching AI troops to play 'Battlefield 1'

    It's been a couple of years since AI-controlled bots fragged each other in an epic SEED, has taught self-learning AI agents to play Magnus Nordin has been interested in self-learning gaming AI ever since DeepMind taught itself to play old Atari games back in 2015. Once he got to SEED, he and his team figured out the basics of a three-dimentional FPS to train a neural network, then worked with the Battlefield team (DICE) to integrate the AI agent into the official game's environment.

    Nordin noted that AI agents can hold their own against humans when they're pitted against live players in a simple game mode that's been restricted to handguns. The next step, says Nordin, will be training the network to deal with more complex strategies "like teamwork, knowing the map and being familiar with individual classes and equipment." While the agents still get confused or stuck in behavior loops, EA sees promise here for the future of neural networks and machine learning in games.

    Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!

    Source: EA

  • Siri won't be reading hidden notifications out loud for much longer

    A fix is coming for a bug that led Siri to speak notifications out loud that were hidden behind the lock screen should someone ask about them. "We are aware of this issue and it will be addressed in an upcoming software update," Apple confirmed to Engadget. It's unclear when this will be, as the company could release a minor operating system patch (conceivably 11.2.7) before the next big update iOS 11.3, which is currently in beta.

    Brazilian site MacMagazine originally reported the bug earlier this week, noting that asking Siri to read notifications out loud inadvertently includes those that are hidden (i.e. need authentication before they're shared). SMS and iMessages are still kept private, The Verge reported, but Siri reads out hidden messages from third-party apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Gmail. Engadget tested this yesterday, and the bug performed as described.

    Until an update fixes the issue, there are two currently viable workarounds that Apple recommends:
    — Turn off lock screen notifications for sensitive apps (Go to the app in Settings > Notifications > Show on Lock Screen)
    — Disable Siri whenever the device is locked (Settings > Siri & Search > Allow Siri When Locked)

    Via: The Verge

    Source: MacRumors

  • Mozilla pulled its Facebook ads and others may follow

    Facebook is obviously in some very hot water as details regarding Cambridge Analytica's use of its users' data continue to unfold. And along with heated consumer backlash and questions from lawmakers, Facebook may now start to lose advertising money. Yesterday, Mozilla pulled its ads from Facebook, saying in a blog post about the decision that the Cambridge Analytica news "caused us to take a closer look at Facebook's current default privacy settings given that we support the platform with our advertising dollars. While we believe there is still more to learn, we found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data -- particularly with respect to settings for third party apps." And because of that, it has chosen to halt advertising on the platform for the time being.

    While Mozilla appears to be the first major company to make such a move, many others are currently considering doing the same thing. As The Times reports, the UK's Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) has asked Facebook for more answers and will meet with company executives this week. "When we meet with Facebook tomorrow we want to understand the scope of the inquiry Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday," Phil Smith, director general of ISBA, told the Independent. "We want reassurances for our members that it will get to the bottom of the issues and any implications for the public and for advertisers." The trade body represents over 3,000 brands, including Unilever and P&G, which may consider pulling their hundreds of millions of dollars of ad money from Facebook depending on Facebook executives' responses.

    In a statement, ISBA said, "The claims that other apps using the Facebook platform, and predating mid-2015, have collected similar bodies of personal data and that controls for distribution have been inadequate, raise questions about the possibility that Facebook data has been, or is being used improperly elsewhere. ISBA is asking Facebook for a full account of further potential issues so that advertisers can take appropriate measures." The Times reports that sources close to the ISBA have said if Facebook's answers aren't satisfactory, trade body members may choose to pull their ad money. A top UK ad agency also told the Independent that advertisers will start threatening to pull their ads from Facebook if the company can't generate trust in its data security.

    Additionally, Nordea, the Nordic region's largest bank, said this week that for now, it won't be purchasing any more Facebook shares. "Given the high-level revelations and the turmoil surrounding the company with a strong public backlash, coupled with the overhanging threat of increasing regulation of the platforms and the EU GDPR on the horizon, we choose to quarantine Facebook," Sasja Beslik, Nordea's head of group sustainable finance, told Reuters.

    "We are encouraged that Mark Zuckerberg has promised to improve the privacy settings and make them more protective," Mozilla said yesterday. "When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we'll consider returning."

    Source: Mozilla, ISBA

  • FCC loosens rules to speed 5G rollouts

    The FCC under Tom Wheeler took early steps to loosen regulations in the name of accelerating 5G rollouts, and the new commission is making good on those plans. The regulator has adopted new rules that scrap certain environmental checks for new cellular and wireless broadband sites. Small facilities on non-native land are no longer subject to reviews under the National Historic Preservation Act or the National Environmental Policy Act. They'll still be bound by local- and state-level rules, but they won't have to wait for the feds to give the all-clear.

    The new rules also eliminate the need to submit environmental assessments just because a would-be facility will sit in a floodplain, so long as "certain conditions" are met. FCC officials now have timeframes to act on those environmental assessments, however.

    All three Republicans on the commission approved the new rules, while both Democrats voted against it.

    The order is likely to please American telecoms racing to launch their 5G networks as quickly as possible and score those all-important bragging rights. It won't have many fans among the eco-conscious, mind you. While large cell sites still have to go through federal review, this reduces the amount of scrutiny over the impact of smaller sites. If regional regulations are relatively light, this could lead to environmental harm.

    Source: FCC

  • Congress wants Zuckerberg to testify about Cambridge Analytica

    Thus far, two states, the FTC, UK Parliament and US Congress all want answers from Facebook regarding how political firm Cambridge Analytica ended up with data on 50 million users. Representatives from the company even met with staffers from House and Senate committees a couple days ago. But now the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to hear from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself, and have officially requested he testify at an upcoming hearing.

    Which follows Zuckerberg saying he would be "happy" to speak to Congress, a statement that appeared in a blitz of media appearances and a public Facebook post yesterday when the CEO finally broke his silence on the growing Cambridge Analytica situation. The committee requested he appear at a hearing at an undisclosed date to testify.

    "The latest revelations regarding Facebook's use and security of user data raises many serious consumer protection concern," House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and top Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.) said jointly to The Washington Post. "After committee staff received a briefing yesterday from Facebook officials, we felt that many questions were left unanswered."

    Source: The Washington Post

  • Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence, but he didn’t have much to say

    As a series of reports exposed Cambridge Analytica's use of improperly obtained personal data, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was nowhere to be seen. The billionaire's self-imposed public exile ended with a fresh media tour that took in stops at CNN, blasphemy: While in the US you would be unlikely to face punishment for taking the Lord's name in vain, it's a different situation in other countries.

    That is, perhaps, the problem with building a platform that you want to be universal and then forgetting that other people don't necessarily share your values. Zuckerberg says that the Facebook project of "building a community for people all over the world" to "connect across boundaries" is unprecedented. The fallout from those connections, or even just from sharing the information globally, can be problematic in the extreme. For instance, with the violence in Myanmar, the company stands accused of condoning the massacre of Rohingya Muslims because it censored posts from a resistance group.

    Zuckerberg's response was almost offensively anodyne, saying that he and his team are seeing "new challenges that [he] didn't think anyone had anticipated before." He added that he didn't believe it was possible to "know every issue that you're going to face down the road." And that the company has a "real responsibility to take all these issues seriously as they come up" and "make sure we solve them."

    Sadly, the time for such navet has long since passed, especially as Facebook can now see where its action -- or inaction -- has led. It is not wholly responsible, sure, but it has been at least partially complicit in the current turmoil in the US, the fracturing of the European Union and plenty of violence. Not to mention that the problems that Zuckerberg says were impossible to predict were ... fairly easy to predict.

    It's hard not to feel a little sympathy for Zuckerberg as the techno-utopia he created begins to twist and crack under its own weight. If it was his plan to build an Agora for the modern world, a town square where the millennial versions of Plato and Socrates teach and debate, then he must be disappointed. After all, in their place, Facebook has instead helped spread the gospel of modern-day intellectual flyweights.

    Not to mention all of the people raking him over the coals for not responding sooner, or the senators demanding that he show up and testify before Congress. It is a little unfair to demand that the CEO of a company that employs 25,000 people be aware of the minutiae of every aspect of their business. On the other hand, if Zuckerberg isn't spending every waking hour of his day trying to solve this crisis, then something is very wrong.

    In his CNN interview, Zuckerberg said that he welcomes regulation, so long as it's the "right kind" of regulation. He declined to explain precisely what that would entail, but said he'd love to see tighter rules around online "ad transparency." Online ads are, after all, a wilderness compared with the worlds of print and TV, where there are obligations to disclose where the money has come from.

    It's just a shame, you know? That Facebook, a company that has never sold ads and doesn't have a dominant position in the online media world, is powerless in this context. If it were a massive ad platform that had a huge chunk of the ad market, then it could have tightened its own standards years ago, before regulators stepped in. In fact, that would demonstrate a level of leadership that, in turn, would demonstrate a real commitment to change. Wouldn't that be cool?

    Perhaps it was unfair to castigate Zuckerberg for not speaking out on this issue sooner, as if rushing to judgment is somehow an admirable quality. It is right, and something that should be lauded, that people don't simply open their yaps and begin speaking as soon as they're asked a question. People should never be bullied for wanting to know something before sharing their opinion on it.

    The problem for Zuckerberg, of course, is that journalists first informed Facebook about the Cambridge Analytica leak at the tail end of 2015. It's tough to argue that he didn't have enough time to prepare a response.

  • Facebook gave researcher anonymized data on 57 billion friendships

    The Guardian reports today that Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan's relationship with Facebook wasn't limited to his now infamous "thisisyourdigitallife" app. He had actually also received an additional sizable chunk of data from Facebook that he used for a research paper published in 2015. This dataset, however, differs quite a bit from that collected through Kogan's personality app. While large in volume, this other set was anonymized and aggregated with no personally identifiable information included. As the 2015 research paper states, the data included "every friendship made on Facebook in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level," which summed up to over 57 billion friendships.

    Again, this situation is very different from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. While a smaller, separate set of data used in the paper was collected through a Facebook app, the aggregated friendship data were provided by Facebook. And two of the authors of the paper were Facebook employees. So it's not so much that this particular situation signals any wrongdoing on the part of Kogan, but instead highlights the fact that Facebook may have been more involved with the researcher than it would like people to think. "The sheer volume of the 57 billion friend pairs implies a pre-existing relationship," Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, told The Guardian. "It's not common for Facebook to share that kind of data. It suggests a trusted partnership between Aleksandr Kogan/Spectre and Facebook."

    Facebook suspended Kogan just ahead of the slew of reports detailing Cambridge Analytica and Kogan's use of its users' data, but Kogan has stated that he believes he's being used as a scapegoat by both companies. "We made clear the app was for commercial use -- we never mentioned academic research nor the University of Cambridge," Kogan wrote in an email to his university colleagues. "We clearly stated that the users were granting us the right to use the data in broad scope, including selling and licensing the data. These changes were all made on the Facebook app platform and thus they had full ability to review the nature of the app and raise issues. Facebook at no point raised any concerns at all about any of these changes."

    Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence on the situation yesterday in both a Facebook post and a CNN interview.

    Via: The Guardian

    Source: Personality and Individual Differences

  • With 'Siren,' Unreal Engine blurs the line between CGI and reality

    Epic Games has been obsessed with real-time motion capture for years, but the company is now trying to take its experiments with the technology one step further. Enter "Siren," a digital personality that it created alongside a few prominent firms in the gaming industry: Vicon, Cubic Motion, 3Lateral and Tencent (which just became a major investor in Ubisoft). The crazy thing about Siren is that she comes to life using live mocap tech, powered by software from Vicon, that can make her body and finger movements be captured and live-streamed into an Unreal Engine project.

    Back in 2016, Epic Games teased the live motion-capture technology first used for Hellblade, which was stunning and showed the potential of the tech. With this new iteration, though, the company says it hopes to take "live-captured digital humans to the next level." Siren is a high-fidelity digital character based on the likeness of an actress, Bingjie Jiang from China -- and Epic Games says she's only the start. This has larger implications not just for games, but for other industries, like film, marketing and advertising. Imagine if actors didn't have to come in to do their work, it just had to be someone who looked remotely like them.

    Epic Games says that, at GDC 2018, it wanted to test the potential of Cubic Motion's facial performance capture system and show how it enables real-time face animation to mirror human emotion. The company said that, "Recreating the subtle intricacies of movement can be the difference between a realistic digital recreation and a trip into the uncanny valley." The uncanny valley is when CGI doesn't look realistic at all, and that doesn't require any pre- or post-production editing. That's why real-time (essentially) cloning of analog subjects is so important.

    It's creepy, sure, but the future often is.

    Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!

  • Snapchat’s Map Explore makes it easier to find your friends

    Snapchat is rolling out a new feature that will make it easier to find events and see friends' updates on Snap Map, The Verge reports. Rather than looking through the map to see where your friends are or to find an interesting Our Story snap collection, Map Explore will provide updates for you to view and swipe through. Once you open Snapchat, pinch the screen to bring up Snap Map. Then just tap "New Updates" at the bottom of the map and you'll see updates from your friends who have chosen to share their location as well as Snapchat's updates to its Our Story collections. You can swipe left to see additional updates, and to see your own status, just head to the Settings icon where you can delete it or turn it off.

    Snap Map launched last year as a feature meant to help users see what's going on around them and find out what their friends are up to. Earlier this year, Snapchat brought Map to the web along with the ability to embed it into other websites.

    Snap Map statuses update when users open the app, though only if they've chosen to share their locations. Ghost Mode is always on option for those who don't want to advertise where they are. Map Explore is rolling out over the next few weeks.

    Image: Snapchat

    Via: The Verge

  • The video game industry is finally asking where the women are

    Ubisoft is participating in the Women in Gaming Rally at GDC this week.

    It's one of the first things the 20 or so journalists pooled between the open bar and the canapes on the second floor of Hotel Zetta were told -- mentioned right after the evening's embargo information and just before spokespeople split the reporters into three groups and shepherded them to their appropriate meetings. There were three sessions, each 20 minutes long and covering distinct topics: Online ecosystems, artificial intelligence, and new studio openings. After each session, the groups would rotate to see the next presentation, for an hour total of on-the-record, Ubisoft-centric back-patting and glad-handing.

    But before any of that, Ubisoft representatives wanted reporters to know the studio would participate in the Women in Gaming Rally at GDC. This was the one hosted by Microsoft and held at the Jewish Contemporary Museum on Tuesday, not to be confused with the Women in Games International networking event sponsored by PlayStation and held at the headquarters of a local non-profit, also on Tuesday. That first one -- Ubisoft would be there.

    The journalists broke into their groups. In the rear conference room, Jean-Philippe Pieuchot, the managing director of Ubisoft's studio in Pune, India, began his presentation with exciting news of the company's new outpost in Mumbai. The plan is to open in June and employ as many as 100 people within two years, with an emphasis on bringing aboard programmers and artists to bolster the company's portfolio of AAA games. Ubisoft Mumbai will collaborate with the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai and France's Intuit Lab, two highly regarded schools awash with fresh talent.

    In the middle of the presentation, Pieuchot flipped the slide to show off a photo of the Mumbai leadership team, seven people covering roles from Art Director to Technical Lead. Seven people who all happened to be men.

    It wasn't surprising. It's not an anomaly in the video game industry to see a leadership lineup without any women, but the Ubisoft Mumbai image was striking. It felt tailor-made for the meme factory, begging someone to scrawl, "Game development in 2018" in big block letters across the bottom. It was notably out-of-touch and tired. In my notes, I wrote, "Sigh."

    And something strange happened. After the customary beat of silence, one reporter asked, "In the leadership slide you showed for Mumbai, how come there are no women? It was all men."

    I feel the need to clarify here. Of the 20-odd journalists at the Ubisoft briefing, just two were women, including myself. Again, this gender disparity wasn't out of the ordinary -- but the question itself was.

    I've been to seven GDCs and countless E3s, PAXes and CESes; I've been covering the video game industry for major outlets since my senior year of college in 2011. I've been hit on after interviews; I've been asked if I "actually play video games"; I've been greeted before meetings with, "Look, they sent the hot one."

    I have never heard a reporter ask this question. I have never heard it asked so directly of a developer, especially not by a man, especially not in a room full of men, and especially not when prompted by a single slide, a side note to the larger story. Ubisoft is expanding to Mumbai. Isn't that exciting?

    "How come there are no women?"

    I wasn't going to ask it myself. Nearly a decade of trade shows and PowerPoint presentations from major video game publishers had rendered me nearly numb to the realities of gender roles in the industry. This was just another slide in another show at another conference where the lack of women in leadership roles was considered normal. Business as usual. Click, next slide.

    "How come there are no women?"

    Pieuchot and Burk responded with the appropriate statistics and promises -- 27 percent of Ubisoft's overall leadership roles are held by women; they want to do better and new recruitment efforts in these regions will absolutely help -- but what they said matters less than the fact that they were forced to say it.
    "How come there are no women?"
    It's easy to see why this question would appear here, now. Ubisoft primed the pool with the mention of the Women in Gaming Rally (and this is the company whose technical director once famously said creating playable female characters would have "doubled the work" for animators), right before showing off an all-male management slide. Through movements like #MeToo, society is awake to the lack of female leadership at most major companies and is finally taking seriously reports of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Today, seeing a lineup of male leaders at a video game studio -- especially after extolling the company's involvement in a female-empowerment workshop -- looks as tone-deaf as sacrificing a goat for the launch of a game, asking fans to "take out a hit" on their friends over the color of their hair or size of their genitals, or saying a game offers an expansive connected universe when it really doesn't. It's another reason to call out Ubisoft, as if they just announced a new, shady Season Pass scheme.

    "How come there are no women?"

    This isn't only Ubisoft's burden to bear. Images of all-male leadership teams are all-too common in the video game industry. Questions about them, however, are not.

    "How come there are no women?"

    This question, asked just once across all three sessions, doesn't mean the video game industry is cured of gender-based discrimination or unconscious bias. It doesn't mean sexism has been defeated and the industry now exists in a beautiful, post-gender utopia. It doesn't mean any of these things. But it did happen. And that's something.

  • Raytheon's laser and microwave buggy test brought down 45 drones

    This week, Raytheon announced it successfully tested its anti-drone technology. The advanced high-power microwave and laser dune buggy brought down 45 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones at a U.S. Army exercise that was held in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

    The microwave system was able to bring down multiple UAVs at once when the devices swarmed, while the high energy laser (HEL) was able to identify and shoot down 12 Class I and II UAVs, as well as six different stationary devices that propelled mortar rounds. The equipment is intended to protect US troops against drones; it's self-contained and easy to deploy in a tense situation. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory worked with Raytheon to develop this counter-drone and UAV tech.

    Source: Raytheon

  • Introducing the LineageSDK for developers
    LineageOS is an operating system for everyone: from the average user to the advanced developer. While users have a giant playground in their hands with many customization options, we also want to make LineageOS a fun place for developers. The standards for official builds help ensure developers that their app will not end up in a bad state because of inappropriate Android API changes or broken hardware support, but this is not enough for us; we're announcing some new APIs that will allow your apps to do more when they're running on a LineageOS-powered device.  The Lineage platform SDK (LineageSDK for short) is a powerful resource that allows us to both keep our features out of the core Android frameworks (for better security and easier bringup processes) and expose some extra functionality to app developers.  We'll have to wait and see if developers are willing to add some code to their Android applications for the features in this SDK.

  • Zuckerberg: Cambridge Analytica leak a "breach of trust"
    After days of silence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to the controversy over the 2014 leak of private Facebook user data to a firm that went on to do political consulting work for the Donald Trump campaign in 2016.  Cambridge Analytica got the data by paying a psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, to create a Facebook personality quiz that harvested data not only about its own users but also about users' friends. Kogan amassed data from around 50 million users and turned it over to Cambridge.  Zuckerberg says that when Facebook learned about this transfer in 2015, it got Kogan and Cambridge to certify that they had deleted the data. But media reports this weekend suggested that Cambridge had lied and retained the data throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.  This whole thing should make everyone think twice about how - and if - they should keep using Facebook. I've personally always been incredibly careful about what data I put on Facebook and I've rarely - if ever - used any Facebook 'apps', but in the end, you don't even need to feed Facebook any data for them to figure out who you are and what you're interested in. It's actually remarkably easy to extrapolate a whole lot about you from simple things like the times you're online, or which sites with Facebook social trackers you visit, and so on.  I trust Google with such forms of data, but not Facebook. If it wasn't for my friends, I'd delete my Facebook account in a heartbeat. My hope is that this story - which has certainly permeated beyond tech media into the mainstream media - will push more and more of the people around me to consider leaving Facebook.

  • LG releases webOS as open source again
    Pretty big news out of LG - they're releasing their variant of webOS - the TV and smartwatch one - as open source.  webOS is a web-centric and usability-focused software platform for smart devices. The operating system has constantly evolved, passing through its journey from Palm to HP, and most recently to LG Electronics. Now, we are releasing webOS as an open source project, named webOS Open Source Edition (OSE).  This marks the second time webOS has been released as open source. It's released under the Apache License, version 2, and there's instructions for getting it to run on a Raspberry Pi 3.  We are a truly open project. You will see us working in the open like any community member, so you can see what we're doing in real time. We operate using typical open practices: the Project uses the Apache 2.0 license, is hosted on GitHub, and accepts contributions via a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) approach. As the community grows and individuals and organizations emerge who make significant contributions, it is our intention to invite them into the governance of the Project.  It seems like a truly open project, but at the same time, one has to wonder what this means for webOS' commercial future at LG. The cold and harsh truth is that moves like this generally mean the end of commercial viability, not the beginning. This isn't necessarily a problem though - at least this move ensures the code and operating system will continue to exist.

  • How (and why) we ported Shenzen Solitaire to MS-DOS
    Can two programmers who are accustomed to making games for modern computers with gigabytes of RAM and high-color HD displays port one of their games to MS-DOS? Neither of us had any experience developing on such old hardware, but since working within artificially limited systems is something of a Zachtronics game design specialty, we felt compelled to try!

  • Microsoft to force Mail links to open in Edge
    For Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring, we will begin testing a change where links clicked on within the Windows Mail app will open in Microsoft Edge, which provides the best, most secure and consistent experience on Windows 10 and across your devices. With built-in features for reading, note-taking, Cortana integration, and easy access to services such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft Edge enables you to be more productive, organized and creative without sacrificing your battery life or security.  I'm one of those weird people who actually really like the default Windows 10 Mail application, but if this absolutely desperate, user-hostile move - which ignores any default browser setting - makes it into any definitive Windows 10 release, I won't be able to use it anymore.  As always, we look forward to feedback from our WIP community.  Oh you'll get something to look forward to alright.

  • iOS 11 bugs are so common they now appear in Apple ads
    If you blink during Apple€™s latest iPhone ad, you might miss a weird little animation bug. It€™s right at the end of a slickly produced commercial, where the text from an iMessage escapes the animated bubble it€™s supposed to stay inside. It€™s a minor issue and easy to brush off, but the fact it€™s captured in such a high profile ad just further highlights Apple€™s many bugs in iOS 11.  The fact Apple's marketing department signed off on this ad with such a bug in it is baffling.

  • Google renames Android Wear to Wear OS
    As our technology and partnerships have evolved, so have our users. In 2017, one out of three new Android Wear watch owners also used an iPhone. So as the watch industry gears up for another Baselworld next week, we€™re announcing a new name that better reflects our technology, vision, and most important of all - the people who wear our watches. We€™re now Wear OS by Google, a wearables operating system for everyone.  If a company changes the name of one of its operating system, but nobody cares - has the name really been changed?

  • The Amiga Consciousness
    There exists a global community, a loosely knit consciousness of individuals that crosses boundaries of language and artistic disciplines. It resides in both the online and physical space, its followers are dedicated, if not fervent. The object and to some extent, philosophy that unites these adherents, is a computer system called the Commodore Amiga. So why does a machine made by a company that went bankrupt in 1994 have a cult like following? Throughout this essay I will present to you, the reader, a study of qualitative data that has been collected at community events, social gatherings and conversations. The resulting narrative is intended to illuminate the origins of the community, how it is structured and how members participate in it. Game industry professionals, such as the person interviewed during the research for this paper, will attest to the properties, characteristics and creative application of the machine, and how this creativity plays a role in the sphere of their community. I will examine the bonds of the society, to determine if the creative linage of the computer plays a role in community interactions.  The Amiga community is probably one of the most fascinating technology subcommunity out there. Lots of infighting, various competing Amiga operating systems, incredibly expensive but still outdated hardware, dubious ownership situations - it's all there. Yet, they keep going, they keep pushing out new software and new hardware, and they're in no danger of falling apart.  Amazing.

  • A $1.6 billion Spotify lawsuit is based on player pianos
    Spotify is finally gearing up to go public, and the company€™s February 28th filing with the SEC offers a detailed look at its finances. More than a decade after Spotify€™s launch in 2006, the world€™s leading music streaming service is still struggling to turn a profit, reporting a net loss of nearly $1.5 billion last year. Meanwhile, the company has some weird lawsuits hanging over its head, the most eye-popping being the $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by Wixen Publishing, a music publishing company that includes the likes of Tom Petty, The Doors, and Rage Against the Machine.  So, what happened here? Did Spotify really fail to pay artists to the tune of a billion dollars all the while losing money? Is digital streaming just a black hole that sucks up money and spits it out into the cold vacuum of space?  The answer is complicated.  The answer involves something called "player pianos". You can't make this stuff up.

  • Security researchers publish Ryzen flaws
    Through the advent of Meltdown and Spectre, there is a heightened element of nervousness around potential security flaws in modern high-performance processors, especially those that deal with the core and critical components of company business and international infrastructure. Today, CTS-Labs, a security company based in Israel, has published a whitepaper identifying four classes of potential vulnerabilities of the Ryzen, EPYC, Ryzen Pro, and Ryzen Mobile processor lines. AMD is in the process of responding to the claims, but was only given 24 hours of notice rather than the typical 90 days for standard vulnerability disclosure. No official reason was given for the shortened time.  Nothing in technology is safe. As always, my advice is to treat any data on a phone or computer as potentially compromisable.

  • Trump blocks Broadcom's bid for Qualcomm
    President Trump on Monday blocked Broadcom's $117 billion bid for the chip maker Qualcomm, citing national security concerns and sending a clear signal that he was willing to take extraordinary measures to promote his administration€™s increasingly protectionist stance.  In a presidential order, Mr. Trump said "credible evidence" had led him to believe that if Singapore-based Broadcom were to acquire control of Qualcomm, it "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States." The acquisition, if it had gone through, would have been the largest technology deal in history.  This US administration would eventually stumble onto doing the right thing - infinite monkeys and all that - so here we are. To explain why this is a good move, Ben Thompson's article about this issue is a fantastic, must-read explainer.  There is a certain amount of irony here: the government is intervening in the private market to stop the sale of a company that is being bought because of government-granted monopolies. Sadly, I doubt it will occur to anyone in government to fix the problem at its root, and Qualcomm would be the first to fight against the precise measures - patent overhaul - that would do more than anything to ensure the company remains independent and incentivized to spend even more on innovation, because its future would depend on innovation to a much greater degree than it does now.  The reality is that technology has flipped the entire argument for patents - that they spur innovation - completely on its head. The very nature of technology - that costs are fixed and best maximized over huge user-bases, along with the presence of network effects - mean there are greater returns to innovation than ever before. The removal of most technology patents would not reduce the incentive to innovate; indeed, given that a huge number of software patents in particular are violated on accident (unsurprising, given that software is ultimately math), their removal would spur more. And, as Qualcomm demonstrates, one could even argue such a shift would be good for national security.

  • Looking at Lumina Desktop 2.0
    TrueOS, formerly PC-BSD, has a desktop environment called Lumina. It's getting a big overhaul for Lumina 2.0, and this short interview gives some more details about what's coming.  With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself.  [...]  The entire graphical interface has been written in QML in order to fully-utilize hardware-based GPU acceleration with OpenGL while the backend logic and management systems are still written entirely in C++. This results in blazing fast performance on the backend systems (myriad multi-threaded C++ objects) as well as a smooth and responsive graphical interface with all the bells and whistles (drag and drop, compositing, shading, etc).

  • New guts bring new processors, DDR4, USB3 to old ThinkPads
    We often see people funneling their passion into keeping beloved devices in operation long past their manufacturer€™s intent. These replacement Thinkpad motherboards [Chinese] bring old (yet beloved) Thinkpads a much desired processor upgrade. This is the work of the user [HOPE] on the enthusiast forum 51nb. The hack exemplifies what happens when that passion for legendary gear hits deep electrical expertise and available manufacturing. This isn€™t your regular laptop refurbishment, [HOPE] is building something new.  This is incredible. I wish someone could do this with an iBook G4 or a 12.1" PowerBook.

  • Google releases first Android P preview
    Google has released the first preview for Android P - again, apologies for the late coverage - and it contains some interesting improvements. Here's a few things that jumped out at me:  To better ensure privacy, Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle. While your app's UID is idle, the mic reports empty audio and sensors stop reporting events. Cameras used by your app are disconnected and will generate an error if the app tries to use them. In most cases, these restrictions should not introduce new issues for existing apps, but we recommend removing these requests from your apps.  This is a very good move, and I doubt anyone will have any objections.  In line with these changes, Android P will warn users with a dialog when they install an app that targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2 (targetSdkVersion less than 17), and future platform versions will continue to increment that lower bound.  Expect scary warning dialogs when installing older applications. This should encourage developers to update their applications as users complain in the review sections of the Play Store. Hopefully.  You can now access streams simultaneously from two or more physical cameras on devices running Android P. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision. The API also lets you call a logical or fused camera stream that automatically switches between two or more cameras.  Definitely neat.  There's a lot more stuff in this preview release, and more features will certainly follow over the coming months.

  • A lot can happen in a decade
    I came down with a nasty cold last week and this weekend, so I'm a bit behind on some of the stories that made the rounds last week. In other words, forgive the tardiness here.  Whether you€™re a developer who's working on mobile apps, or just someone enjoying the millions of apps available for your phone, today is a very special day. It's the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone SDK.  I don't think it's an understatement to say that this release changed a lot of people's lives. I know it changed mine and had a fundamental impact on this company's business. So let's take a moment and look back on what happened a decade ago.  The smartphone revolution - caused by the iPhone - came in two big waves, in my view; the iPhone itself, and, followed a year or so later, by the release of the iPhone SDK. It's easy to forget just how limited the original iPhone really was in terms of software, and I honestly doubt it would've been as big of a hit had it not been for the SDK.

  • Do I Have to Use a Free/Open Source License?
    Open source? Proprietary? What license should I use to release my software?

    A few weeks ago I ran into a neighbor, whom I'll call Leo, while he was out taking his dogs to the park. Leo stopped me to ask about some software he's developing.

    "Hey, you do open source stuff for companies, right?" Leo asked. 

  • diff -u: Intel Design Flaw Fallout
     For weeks, the world's been talking about severe Intel design flaws affecting many CPUs and forcing operating systems to look for sometimes costly workarounds. 

  • Weekend Reading: All Things Bash
        Bash is a shell and command language. It is distributed widely as the default login shell for most Linux distributions. We've rounded up some of the most popular Bash-related articles for your weekend reading.


  • Security: 17 Things
    A list for protecting yourself and others from the most common and easiest-to-pull-off security crimes.

  • Oracle Patches Spectre for Red Hat
    Red Hat's Spectre remediation currently requires new microcode for a complete fix, which leaves most x86 processors vulnerable as they lack this update. Oracle has released new retpoline kernels which completely remediate Meltdown and Spectre on all compatible CPUs, which I install and test on CentOS here.

  • 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