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LinuxSecurity.com - Security Advisories









  • Debian LTS: DLA-1434-1: linux-base update
    `bbLinuxSecurity.com`/bb: The linux-base package has been updated to support the package of Linux 4.9 that was recently added to Debian 8. This resolves a dependency that was not satisfiable by the jessie and jessie-security suites.



LWN.net

  • A weekend pile of stable kernels
    Greg Kroah-Hartman has released five new stable kernels: 4.17.9, 4.14.57, 4.9.114, 4.4.143, and 3.18.116. As usual, they contain importantchanges throughout the kernel tree; users of those series should upgrade.


  • Open sourcing oomd, a new approach to handling OOMs
    Over on the Facebook code site, Daniel Xu announces the release of oomd under the GPLv2. Oomd is a user-space "out of memory" killer that was mentioned in our recent article on the block I/O latency controller and it uses the pressure stall information covered in an even more recent article."Oomd constantly monitors PSI [Pressure Stall Information] metrics to assess whether a system is under unrecoverable load. PSI alone is insufficient, so oomd also monitors the system holistically. This is in contrast to Linux’s OOM killer, which focuses primarily on the kernel’s concerns. Since OOM detection criteria can vary depending on workload, the plugin system supports customization to both the detection and process kill strategies.Thanks to this new ability to monitor key system resource indicators, oomd is able to take corrective action in userspace before a system-wide OOM occurs. Corrective action is configured via a flexible plugin system that is capable of executing custom code. Thus, in addition to oomd’s default process SIGKILL behavior, application developers can customize their plugin with alternate strategies, such as sending a 'back off' RPC to the main workload or dumping system logs to a remote service."


  • Security updates for Friday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (dnsmasq, linux-base, and openjpeg2), Fedora (libgit2, libtomcrypt, openslp, and perl-Archive-Zip), and openSUSE (gdk-pixbuf, libopenmpt, mercurial, perl, php7, polkit, and rsyslog).


  • [$] The problem with the asynchronous bsg interface
    The kernel supports two different "SCSI generic" pseudo-devices, each ofwhich allows user space to send arbitrary commands to a SCSI-attacheddevice. Both SCSI-generic implementations have proved to have securityissues in the past as a result of the way their API was designed. In thecase of one of those drivers, these problems seem almost certain to lead to theremoval of a significant chunk of functionality in the 4.19 developmentcycle.


  • Stable kernel 4.4.142
    Greg Kroah-Hartman has released the 4.4.142stable kernel. It is not an essential upgrade, "but a number ofbuild problems with perf are now resolved, and an x86 issue that some people might have hitis now handled properly. If those were problems for you, pleaseupgrade."


  • Security updates for Thursday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (ant, gpac, linux-4.9, linux-latest-4.9, taglib, vlc, and znc), Fedora (ceph), Red Hat (fluentd and qemu-kvm-rhev), Slackware (httpd), and SUSE (e2fsprogs, glibc, libgcrypt, mercurial, openssh, perl, rubygem-sprockets, shadow, and wireshark).



  • [$] Deep learning and free software
    Deep-learning applications typically rely on a trained neural net toaccomplish their goal (e.g. photo recognition, automatic translation, orplaying go). That neural net uses what is essentially a large collection ofweighting numbers that have been empirically determined as part of its training (which generally uses a huge set of training data). Afree-software application could use those weights, but there are a number of barriers for users who might want to tweak them for variousreasons. A discussion on the debian-devel mailing list recently looked atwhether these deep-learning applications can ever truly be considered "free" (as infreedom) because of these pre-computed weights—and the difficultiesinherent in changingthem.


  • [$] The PEP 572 endgame
    Over the last few months, it became clear that the battle over PEP 572 wouldbe consequential; its scale and vehemence was largely unprecedented in thehistory of Python. The announcement by Guido van Rossum thathe was stepping down from his role as benevolent dictator for life (BDFL),due in part to that battle,underscored the importance of it. While the Python project charts its course in the wake of hisresignation, it makes sense to catch up on where things stand with thiscontentious PEP that has now been accepted for Python 3.8.


  • Stable kernel 4.17.8
    Stable kernel 4.17.8 has been released.This fixes the issue with i386 systems that was present in the 4.17.7 kernel.



LXer Linux News


  • Monitor website contents modification with Python
    The beauty of python programming. It does everything for you and saves serious money for a company spends to monitor it’s competitor websites. There are many ways to Monitor website contents modification with Python, however, It was having some different issues like last-modified time are not always possible on some of the sites or download the whole page and compare it every time.







  • Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming
    Python Language Server an option for those that codeMicrosoft's Visual Studio Code, the company's Electron-based source code editor for Linux, macOS and Windows, has been bestowed with the company's Python Language Server, making it more fluent in the popular programming language.…


  • Using Linux Containers to Manage Embedded Build Environments
    Linux container technology has been proposed by companies like Resin.io as a simpler and more secure way to deploy embedded devices. And, Daynix Computing has developed an open source framework called Rebuild that uses Linux containers in the build management process of embedded IoT development.



[[LinuxInsider

	Copyright 2018
	http://www.linuxinsider.com|Linux Insider"LinuxInsider"]]
  • Google Adds Kubernetes to Rebranded Cloud Marketplace
    Google has announced the rebranding and expansion of its Cloud Launcher platform. Going forward, it will be known as the "Google Cloud Platform Marketplace," or "GCP Marketplace." It will offer production-ready commercial Kubernetes apps, promising simplified deployment, billing and third-party licensing. Google's goal is to make containers accessible to everyone, especially the enterprise.


  • Pinguy OS Puts On a Happier GNOME 3 Face
    Pinguy OS 18.04 is an Ubuntu-based distribution that offers a non-standard GNOME desktop environment intended to be friendlier for new Linux users. This distro is a solid Linux OS with a focus on simple and straightforward usability for the non-geek desktop user. If you do not like tinkering with settings or having numerous power-grabbing fancy screen animations, Pinguy OS could be a good choice.


  • Ribbons and Tabs Give OnlyOffice Suite a Fresh Look
    Ascensio System SIA recently released its free office suite upgrade -- OnlyOffice Desktop Editors -- with a ribbon and tab interface plus numerous updated features. The refresh makes version 5.1 a potential alternative to Web versions of the Microsoft Office suite and Google Docs for Linux users. The three-module set of OnlyOffice Desktop Editors has an impressive collection of tools.


  • Peppermint 9 Offers Some Cool New Options
    Peppermint 9 accomplishes something most other Linux distros don't: It melds the best components from other desktop environments and integrates them into a solid operating system. The latest release nearly completes a process begun several upgrades ago, using more Xfce elements and fewer LXDE components. Peppermint is a good alternative to the Linux Mint Xfce release.


  • Suse Linux Enterprise 15 Bridges Traditional, Software-Defined Systems
    Suse has launched Suse Linux Enterprise 15, its latest flagship operating platform. SLE 15 bridges traditional infrastructure technologies with next-generation software-defined infrastructure, the company said. Suse Manager helps users meet management challenges created by technology advancements such as software-defined infrastructure, cloud computing and containers.


  • Linux Skills Most Wanted: Open Source Jobs Report
    The Linux Foundation's 2018 Open Source Technology Jobs Report shows rapid growth in the demand for open source technical talent, with Linux skills a must-have requirement for entry-level positions. Linux coding is the most sought-after open source skill. Linux-based container technology is a close second. The report provides an overview of open source career trends.


  • Crate.io Releases Commercial Machine Data Platform
    rate.io has introduced a commercial Machine Data Platform, along with a new version of its open source SQL database for the Internet of Things and machine data. The company also announced an US$11 M Series A funding round. The Machine Data Platform is Crate.io's first major commercial venture following last year's initial steps toward selling services around its free database.


  • Can Hackers Crack the Ivory Towers?
    Academics have been hard at work studying information security. Most fields aren't as replete with hackers as information security, though, and their contributions are felt much more strongly in the private sector than in academia. The differing motives and professional cultures of the two groups act as barriers to direct collaboration, noted CypherCon presenter Anita Nikolich.


  • Modicia: Ultimate Linux with a Twist
    Every once and a great while I stumble on a Linux distro that makes me sit up and smile. Modicia O.S. is one of them. It is not that Modicia steps over the bleeding edge of innovation. It is a seemingly standard desktop Linux distribution based on Xubuntu. It comes in one desktop flavor, Xfce -- but with a twist. Yet nothing is standard about Modicia O.S. That is what generates the happiness.


  • Private Cloud May Be the Best Bet: Report
    News flash: Private cloud economics can offer more cost efficiency than public cloud pricing structures. Private, or on-premises, cloud solutions can be more cost-effective than public cloud options, according to a report by 451 Research and Canonical. That conclusion counters the notion that public cloud platforms traditionally are more cost-efficient than private infrastructures.



Slashdot

  • Lawmakers, Lobbyists and the Administration Join Forces To Overhaul the Endangered Species Act
    An anonymous reader shares a report: The Endangered Species Act, which for 45 years has safeguarded fragile wildlife while blocking ranching, logging and oil drilling on protected habitats, is coming under attack from lawmakers, the White House and industry on a scale not seen in decades, driven partly by fears that the Republicans will lose ground in November's midterm elections. In the past two weeks, more than two dozen pieces of legislation, policy initiatives and amendments designed to weaken the law have been either introduced or voted on in Congress or proposed by the Trump administration. The actions included a bill to strip protections from the gray wolf in Wyoming and along the western Great Lakes; a plan to keep the sage grouse, a chicken-size bird that inhabits millions of oil-rich acres in the West, from being listed as endangered for the next decade; and a measure to remove from the endangered list the American burying beetle, an orange-flecked insect that has long been the bane of oil companies that would like to drill on the land where it lives. [...] The new push to undo the wildlife protection law comes as Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress, and is led by a president who has made deregulation -- the loosening of not only environmental protections but banking rules, car fuel efficiency standards and fair housing enforcement -- a centerpiece of his administration.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • IoT Security Flaw Leaves 496 Million Devices Vulnerable At Businesses, Report Says
    Nearly a half-billion Internet of Things devices are vulnerable to cyberattacks at businesses worldwide because of a 10-year-old security flaw, according to a new report from a security software vendor. From a report: The report was published Friday by Armis, a provider of Internet of Things security software for enterprises that focuses on detecting threats in IoT devices at workplaces. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has previously made security disclosures, including the BlueBorne malware attack that impacted 5 billion IoT devices.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • China's JD.com Plans Move Into Europe
    Chinese e-commerce company JD.com plans to expand in Europe and aims to have finalized its strategy for entering the market by the end of the year, its chief executive told a German newspaper. Reuters: China's second largest e-commerce business also wants to open an office in Germany by the end of 2018, the Handelsblatt daily cited Richard Liu as saying. "For me it's no longer just about selling products from Germany in China. I would also like to sell products in Europe," Liu told the paper. "We have just got to clarify the details." Further reading: JD.com is expanding its consumer base with drone delivery and local recruits who can exploit villages' tight-knit social networks to drum up business.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • The Hidden Environmental Cost of Amazon Prime's Free, Fast Shipping
    Amazon's Prime Day shopping spree offers free, fast shipping -- but experts say there's a hidden environmental cost that doesn't show up on the checkout page. From a report: Expedited shipping means your packages may not be as consolidated as they could be, leading to more cars and trucks required to deliver them, and an increase in packaging waste, which researchers have found is adding more congestion to our cities, pollutants to our air, and cardboard to our landfills. Free and fast shipping has always been a Prime membership's marquee perk -- one that's drawn in over 100 million subscribers who pay $119 annually. A 2017 study by UPS found that nearly all (96%) US customers had made a purchase on a marketplace like Amazon or Walmart, and over half (55%) said free or discounted shipping was the primary reason. [...] That convenience is encouraging people in the US to buy more, and to make more individual purchases rather than placing a single order for several items. "There are more sales in lower-price products online than there have been in stores," Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at the NPD Group, told BuzzFeed News. And all of those transactions are negatively impacting our planet, according to Miguel Jaller, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis: "People are consuming more. There's more demand created by the availability of these cheap products and cheap delivery options."
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Google Tests Curvy Chrome Tabs With Material Design Overhaul
    Google is trying out a new Chrome interface that for the first time in a decade presents a very different look for the tabs and address bar at the top of the widely used web browser, CNET reports. It adds: Since its public debut in 2008, Chrome has featured a trapezoidal tab for each website you have open. But tabs now look very different on Chrome Canary -- a very rough-around-the-edges version used to test changes before they reach a broader audience. The active tab has a slope-shouldered look with curved corners. The grayed-out inactive tabs merge with the the browser itself and are separated only by thin vertical lines. In addition, the address bar's text box is a gray oval against a white backdrop, instead of a round-cornered white rectangle with a hairline border.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Comic Book Publishers, Faced With Flagging Sales, Look To Streaming
    Comic book publishers are facing a growing crisis: Flagging interest from readers and competition from digital entertainment are dragging down sales. Hoping to reverse the trend, publishers are creating their own digital platforms to directly connect with readers and encourage more engagement from fans. From a report: One of the biggest direct-to-consumer efforts is DC Universe, a platform from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Digital Studios that will offer streaming content, including original and classic TV series. DC Universe is "a huge opportunity" that offers "ultimate creative control," said Jim Lee, a co-publisher of DC Entertainment. "It allows you to look at wider adaptations of the source material." [...] The Walt Disney Company, which owns Marvel Entertainment, said last year that it would create a streaming platform that would include Marvel movies like "The Avengers" and "Guardians of the Galaxy." Smaller comic book publishers are testing their own direct-to-consumer platforms. Image Comics, the publisher of popular titles like The Walking Dead and Saga, started a direct-to-consumer platform in 2015 to sell comic book subscriptions and apparel.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Open Gov't Advocates Fear that Private Messaging Apps Are Being Misused by Public Officials To Conduct Business in Secret
    The proliferation of digital tools that make text and email messages vanish may be welcome to Americans seeking to guard their privacy. But open government advocates fear they are being misused by public officials to conduct business in secret and evade transparency laws. From a report: Whether communications on those platforms should be part of the public record is a growing but unsettled debate in states across the country. Updates to transparency laws lag behind rapid technological advances, and the public and private personas of state officials overlap on private smartphones and social media accounts. "Those kind of technologies literally undermine, through the technology itself, state open government laws and policies," said Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. "And they come on top of the misuse of other technologies, like people using their own private email and cellphones to conduct business." Some government officials have argued that public employees should be free to communicate on private, non-governmental cellphones and social media platforms without triggering open records requirements.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Slashdot Asks: Do You Need To Properly Eject a USB Drive Before Yanking it Out?
    In a story earlier this week, Popular Science magazine explored an age-old topic: Do people need to safely eject a USB stick before they pull it from their computer? The magazine's take on it -- which is, as soon any ongoing transfer of files is complete, it is safe to yank out the flash drive -- has unsurprisingly stirred a debate. Here's what the magazine wrote: But do you really need to eject a thumb drive the right way? Probably not. Just wait for it to finish copying your data, give it a few seconds, then yank. To be on the cautious side, be more conservative with external hard drives, especially the old ones that actually spin. That's not the official procedure, nor the most conservative approach. And in a worst-case scenario, you risk corrupting a file or -- even more unlikely -- the entire storage device. To justify its rationale, the magazine has cited a number of computer science professors. In the same story, however, a director of product marketing at SanDisk made a case for why people should probably safely eject the device. He said, "Failure to safely eject the drive may potentially damage the data due to processes happening in the system background that are unseen to the user." John Gruber of DaringFireball (where we originally spotted the story), makes a case for why users should safely eject the device before pulling it out: This is terrible advice. It's akin to saying you probably don't need to wear a seat belt because it's unlikely anything bad will happen. Imagine a few dozen people saying they drive without a seat belt every day and nothing's ever gone wrong, so it must be OK. (The breakdown in this analogy is that with seat belts, you know instantly when you need to be wearing one. With USB drives, you might not discover for months or years that you've got a corrupt file that was only partially written to disk when you yanked the drive.) I see a bunch of "just pull out the drive and not worry about it" Mac users on Twitter celebrating this article, and I don't get it. On the Mac you have to do something on screen when you eject a drive. Either you properly eject it before unplugging the drive -- one click in the Finder sidebar -- or you need to dismiss the alert you'll get about having removed a drive that wasn't properly ejected. Why not take the course of action that guarantees data integrity? What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the answer varies across different file systems and operating systems?
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Boston Dynamics Is Gearing Up To Produce Thousands of Robot Dogs
    Boston Dynamics, maker of uncannily agile robots, is poised to bring its first commercial product to market -- a small, dog-like robot called the SpotMini. From a report: The launch was announced in May, and founder Marc Raibert recently said that by July of next year, Boston Dynamics will be producing the SpotMini at the rate of around 1,000 units per year. The broader goal, as reported by Inverse, is to create a flexible platform for a variety of applications. According to Raibert, SpotMini is currently being tested for use in construction, delivery, security, and home assistance applications. The SpotMini moves with the same weirdly smooth confidence as previous experimental Boston Dynamics robots with names like Cheetah, BigDog, and Spot.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Facebook Confirms It's Working on a New Internet Satellite
    A host of companies believe the better way to connect the estimated half of Earth's population that's still offline is to launch "constellations" of smaller satellites into low Earth orbit, around 100 to 1,250 miles above our planet. According to emails from the Federal Communications Commission, which Wired obtained by filing a Freedom of Information Act request, Facebook is officially one such company. From the report: The emails show that the social network wants to launch Athena, its very own internet satellite, in early 2019. The new device is designed to "efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world," according to an application the social network appears to have filed with the FCC under the name PointView Tech LLC. With the filing, Facebook joins Elon Musk's SpaceX and Softbank-backed OneWeb, two well-funded organizations working on similar projects. In fact, SpaceX launched the first two of what it hopes will be thousands of its Starlink satellites just this past February. The emails, which date back to July 2016, and subsequent confirmation from Facebook, confirm a story published in May by IEEE Spectrum, which used public records to speculate that Facebook had started a satellite internet project.
            

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


The Register



  • Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming
    Python Language Server an option for those that code
    Microsoft's Visual Studio Code, the company's Electron-based source code editor for Linux, macOS and Windows, has been bestowed with the company's Python Language Server, making it more fluent in the popular programming language.…


  • [NSFW] Fake prudes: Catholic uni AI bot taught to daub bikinis on naked chicks
    Send nudes plz... for the purposes of training this machine-learning software
    NSFW Artificially intelligent software is used more and more to automatically detect and ban nude images on social networks and similar sites. However, today's algorithms and models aren't perfect at clocking racy snaps, and a lot of content moderation still falls to humans.…



  • Friday FYI: 9 out of 10 of website login attempts? Yeah, that'll be hackers
    Credential stuffing is rampant – so try not to reuse the same password on every site, eh?
    Up to 90 per cent of the average online retailer's login traffic is generated by cybercriminals trying their luck with credential stuffing attacks, Shape Security estimated in its latest Credential Spill Report.…







Linux.com offline for now

Phoronix

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X: Windows 10 vs. Linux Performance
    Recently there have been several Linux distribution benchmark comparisons on Phoronix to test the latest Linux OS releases, including several comparing to the current Microsoft Windows 10 performance. Those recent tests have all be done with various Intel CPUs, but for those curious about the AMD Windows vs. Linux performance, here are some fresh benchmarks as we approach the end of July.





  • A Closer Look At The Linux Laptop Power Use Between Ubuntu, Fedora, Clear & Antergos
    Earlier this month I posted some results when looking at the Windows 10 versus Linux power consumption using a Kabylake-R Dell XPS 13 laptop and testing Windows 10, Ubuntu 18.04, Fedora Workstation 28, openSUSE Tumbleweed, and Clear Linux. For some additional numbers, I took three other distinctly different laptops and tested them on a few Linux distributions to see how their battery life and power efficiency compare as additional metrics to complement this earlier data.




  • Wine-Staging 3.13 Released With Extra Patches
    Following Friday's release of Wine 3.13 is now the adjoining Wine-Staging 3.13 version debut that incorporates various extra/testing patches atop this code-base for running Windows programs/games primarily on Linux and macOS systems...





Engadget"Engadget RSS Feed"

  • Tata will stop selling the 'world's cheapest car'

    Tata's Nano was supposed to be a revolution in automotive design when it was unveiled in 2008 as the world's cheapest car -- in theory, it opened the door to vehicle ownership for people who'd otherwise have to spring for two-wheeled transport or nothing at all. Flash forward a decade, however, and the reality is very different. After winding down production, the Indian car maker has declared that the current Nano "cannot continue beyond 2019." The final manufacturing numbers helped explain the move. Tata made just one (yes, one) Nano in June versus 275 a year earlier, which itself was no great shakes in a market where virtually car segment has seen explosive growth.

    While the company didn't formally explain the exit, there were numerous problems that plagued the Nano from the start. It didn't roll off the line until 2009, and there were both quality and safety issues (particularly a tendency to catch fire) that damaged its reputation.

    However, the biggest obstacle to success may have been the design of the car itself. Tata thought that focusing on price above all else would help sales, but that cost-cutting was arguably a turn-off -- it looked like you were settling for a sub-par machine just because of the price tag. India's burgeoning middle class appeared to be more interested in saving up for cars they'd be happy to own, if they felt pressure to get cars in the first place.

    This doesn't rule out a future Nano, but it'd likely require a fundamental change in philosophy that focuses on value for money rather than a rock bottom sticker price. And there's no guarantee that it would be successful even then. While car hailing apps like Uber might not dominate, they still reduce the need for car ownership. In some cases, it could be cheaper to simply cars on demand instead of buying one.

    Source: Economic Times


  • NASA helps businesses make use of its satellite data

    NASA has made its raw satellite data widely available for a long while. Now that it has a privatization-minded leader, though, it's looking to make that data more palatable for the business crowd. The administration has released a Remote Sensing Toolkit that should make it easier to use observational satellite info for commercial purposes, including straightforward business uses as well as conservation and research. The move consolidates info that used to be scattered across "dozens" of websites, and helps you search that unified database for helpful knowledge -- you don't have to go to one place for atmospheric studies and another to learn about forests.

    The kit includes both some ready-to-use tools for making sense of satellite content as well as the code companies can use to craft their own tools.

    It's easy to see concerns that NASA might downplay purely scientific uses of its data as a result. Still, this might be overdue. The earlier approach may have offered massive amounts of content (petabytes, NASA said), but there was no one repository where you could find everything you needed. This could encourage more use of that data for all purposes, not just for companies hoping to make a profit.

    Source: NASA


  • HomePod may get phone call support and multiple timers

    While Apple was quiet about HomePod updates at WWDC, that doesn't mean it's twiddling its thumbs -- its staff are privately testing pre-release software. And now, we might now what that software entail.s French site iGeneration claims to have details of the HomePod's iOS 12-based beta, and it could address a laundry list of feature requests for Apple's smart speaker. Most notably, it would include native phone call support. Instead of having to start the call on your iPhone and switch audio inputs, you could both place and receive calls through the HomePod. Your smartphone would just supply the cellular connection. This wouldn't be a new concept by a long shot, but it'd be extremely helpful if you'd rather not stay within earshot of your iPhone's modest speakers.

    The beta reportedly addresses a relatively small but important demand: multiple timers. As with Amazon and Google, you could set one timer for the veggies cooking on the stove and another for the roast in the oven. Other additions would include a HomePod version of Find My iPhone, Spanish language support and a "fix WiFi" feature that makes the HomePod connect to your iPhone's network when there's a mismatch (you previously had to reset the HomePod to solve this).

    There's no guarantee that these features will make the cut for Apple's customary round of fall software updates, assuming they make the cut at all. It took Apple months to bring multi-speaker stereo and AirPlay 2 to the HomePod despite promising both in 2017. And these still wouldn't address some of the larger gripes with the HomePod, such as its lack of multi-user voice recognition. If this proves accurate, though, the HomePod would be an easier sell to people who want more than a souped-up music player.

    Via: 9to5Mac

    Source: iGeneration (translated)


  • 'Cosmos: Possible Worlds' trailer explores alien life and butterflies

    After the briefest of teases at the start of the year, Fox is ready to show Cosmos: Possible Worlds in earnest. The network has released an initial trailer that suggests Possible Worlds will follow the basic formula of the reborn series' first season while covering some decidedly different ground. As the name implies, there's a focus on extraterrestrial exploration and seemingly fantastical ideas. What would alien life be like, Neil deGrasse Tyson asks, and what are we doing to venture beyond Earth? There's even talk of exploring "paradoxical realities."

    At the same time, the show will focus on the small scale, including the very personal. You'll see the inner workings of a butterfly's wings, not to mention the early days of the late astrophysicist (and original Cosmos host) Carl Sagan. The series is once again focusing on how everything is connected, rather than treating biology and human endeavor as separate from the vastness of space.

    There's still no release date for Possible Worlds beyond the previously mentioned spring 2019 window. From this first glimpse, however, the odds are that your perception of the new season will depend on how much you liked its predecessor. If nothing else, it's good to see science take the spotlight at a time when it's frequently under attack.


    Source: Fox (YouTube)


  • NSA leader creates task force to fight Russian cyberattacks

    The President might have claimed that Russia stopped hacking the US, but intelligence officials know otherwise -- and they're stepping up their fight against the ongoing threat. Recently installed NSA and Cyber Command chief Paul Nakasone has created a dedicated task force (the Russia Small Group) to tackle online threats from Putin's regime. While he wasn't specific about what the group would do, he said it was "in line" with what intelligence agencies have been doing ever since the 2016 presidential election. In short: they're devoting extra energy to preventing a repeat of the widespread hacking from two years ago.

    Nakasone argued that this wasn't optional. If the US decided to "stand on the sidelines" and didn't focus its energy on digital adversaries like Russia and China, it risked letting those opponents shape the virtual battlefield. They "undermine" elections, stoke social tensions and steal sensitive info, Nakasone said -- you need people who can tackle this on a "continual basis."

    It's not shocking that Nakasone would pursue this route. He's a four-star Army general who is running both the NSA as well as a recently elevated Cyber Command. If anyone is likely to both focus on threats from specific countries and see the bigger picture of online security, it's him. The question is whether or not the Russia Small Group will have a meaningful effect on the 2018 mid-term elections. It might, but it was formed so recently that it may need time to reach its full potential and give Russia second thoughts.


    Source: Bloomberg, Aspen Institute (YouTube)


  • 'Disenchantment' trailer reveals a fantasy land gone wrong

    Netflix has finally offered more than a brief peek at posted the first full trailer for the animated series, and it's evident from the get-go that nothing in the fantasy genre is sacred here. The clip takes jabs at tropes like the royal wedding (Princess Bride, anyone?) and even Game of Thrones' best-known seat. You also get a better feel for characters beyond the roguish (but maturing) Bean. Elfo is hopelessly innocent, while Luci stands as Bean's literal and figurative personal demon.

    The 10-episode run premieres August 17th. It's far too soon to say whether or not this will come close to replicating the better moments of Futurama or The Simpsons, but the basic ingredients are there: Groening's iconic art style, top talent (such as Broad City's Abbi Jacobson in the main role) and ample amounts of cultural commentary.


    Source: Netflix (YouTube)


  • Snapchat ends its peer-to-peer payment service on August 30th

    Snap's one-time hope of becoming a major player in money transfers has come to an ignominious end. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that it's discontinuing its Snapcash service on August 30th. While it didn't say what would happen to users' accounts, it promised that they'd receive notifications through both the Snapchat app itself as well as the support website. It's sad news if you're a frequent Snapchatter who used the feature to cover your share of restaurant bills, but you could see this coming given the competition and Snap's own fortunes.

    Snapcash launched in 2014 as a partnership with Square that theoretically gave both sides a tremendous boost: Snap got a payment platform with relatively little work, while Square attached its service to a very familiar name. However, it's no secret that Snapcash didn't take off. For many, Venmo is the household name when it comes to pay-your-friends apps -- and that's not including mounting competition from the likes of Facebook, Zelle or tightly integrated features like Apple Pay Cash and Google Pay. No matter how well Snapcash worked, it was just one fairly ordinary option in a sea of choices.

    The shutdown also comes as Snap itself has been struggling to stay competitive. Remember, Snapcash launched when Snapchat was at a cultural zenith, and Instagram was still two years away from introducing an imitative Stories feature that would ultimately help it eat Snap's lunch. It was easy for Snap to add a feature like this when everything was coming up roses -- it's harder to justify it now, when the company's core business is at stake. The discontinuation of Snapcash could help Snap refocus its efforts, especially now that it might have other, more effective ways of raking in revenue from your payments.

    Source: TechCrunch


  • Google reportedly offered Android changes to EU in 2017

    The European Union may have characterized its $5 billion Android antitrust fine as punishment for an intransigent Google, but the practical reality might be different. Bloomberg sources have claimed that Google offered to make changes to its Android policies in August 2017, not long after it received an EU antitrust penalty for its product search practices. Although Google didn't dive into specifics, it had offered to "loosen restrictions" in Android contracts and had considered distributing its apps in "two different ways."

    The EU wasn't having it, according to the sources. Officials reportedly said only that a settlement was "no longer an option," and that Google's offer was "too little too late." It couldn't even mention the possibility of paying a fine as part of an agreement -- regulators had effectively locked in their course of action. Google had tried to talk about ending the probe considerably earlier than that, according to the tipsters, but regulators supposedly either stonewalled or said it was too early to negotiate. If so, there may have only been a brief window of opportunity for a truce.

    The revelations, if accurate, ultimately leave Google in the same boat: it's now facing a giant fine and significant changes to its mobile strategy if its appeal doesn't succeed. They do suggest that the penalty wasn't inevitable, though, and that Google might well have implemented Russia-style changes months sooner if the EU had wanted to bend.

    Source: Bloomberg


  • The best website builder for small businesses

    By Kevin Purdy

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

    After researching 17 of the top website-building services and hosts, building 20 websites with seven of the most promising ones, and changing hundreds of little things on each page, we believe Wix is the best way for a small business to put up a professional-looking website. Its templates, setup interview, and editing tools create modern, clean-looking sites that you can easily customize, and adding crucial tools like contact forms or restaurant menus is easier than with other website-building tools. Wix's customer support is reliable, its free trial is generous, and its pricing is clear and fair for small businesses.

    Beyond the basics of site editing, Wix offers a wealth of plug-ins for adding Google Maps, OpenTable, appointment booking, and other tools to your website. Its search engine optimization tools are easy to understand and use, and thanks to Wix's size and scale, your site should remain reliable and available even under heavy traffic.

    Weebly lacks the variety of templates that Wix provides, and it can't automatically build you a site by asking you about your business. But Weebly's editing interface is simpler and provides less room for error with its drag-and-drop boxes. Weebly also (paradoxically) offers deeper access to the code behind your site, but has fewer useful plug-ins and forms from the start. You should try Weebly if you can't find a template or generated site you like on Wix, if you want to make some specific changes to your site using code (or a code-savvy helper), or if price is the most important factor for you, as the Starter package for Weebly costs one-third less than Wix's comparable Combo package.

    Every designer we spoke with specifically recommended Shopify for any business that's looking to sell goods online. Although our top picks have built-in ecommerce tools, it makes more sense for most businesses to use Shopify, or at least its Lite version, and embed Shopify's tools into their websites—Shopify works with both of our top picks, and you won't be locked in if you decide to change your site later.
    Why you should trust us
    I've written a number of Wirecutter guides to software, including tax software, budget apps, and picks in our home-office guide. Before joining Wirecutter, I wrote about the Web and apps for years, both as an editor at the productivity and software site Lifehacker and as a freelancer for publications including Fast Company, Fortune, and ITworld. I have some experience building websites, with very basic tools (Notepad and HTML), ridiculously convoluted tools (Jekyll, which powers my personal site), and some of the modern building tools reviewed here, including WordPress and Squarespace.

    In addition to using my own experience, I enlisted the help of a dozen Wirecutter writers and editors to help test site-building apps. Some were experienced with building and maintaining websites, whether through all-in-one tools like those we considered or through manual setup and coding, while others were making a site for the first time.

    I also spoke with several experienced designers about their processes for building websites for clients, both with template-based building apps and through a traditional design-and-build process. Brandon Davis is the co-founder and creative director of Block Club, a branding and strategy agency that has built websites for clients with Squarespace, through Brandcast, and from scratch. Paige Brunton is a Squarespace design specialist who has built sites previously in WordPress and works with a variety of individual, nonprofit, and business clients. Idelle Fisher, proprietor of Pickle-Wix Web Design, has over 15 years of professional Web-design experience (and, as you might guess, works to set up Wix sites for clients).
    Who this is for
    These services are for small-business owners, because a small business needs to have its own website. A business can (and usually should) be active on social media, sell in multiple stores, and find customers wherever they may be. But lacking a stand-alone site on the greater Web means losing out on potential business and brand recognition.

    A proper website lends legitimacy and trustworthiness to a business, as compared with businesses that exist only on review sites such as Yelp or in Google Maps. A well-made website lets people find your business when they're searching for what you offer, not just your business name. You can also tell your business's whole and honest story on its website, rather than competing for attention on (and trying to discern the unknowable sorting system of) a search engine. If nothing else, a website lets you publish your phone number, address, and business hours in a place where people will know that info is accurate—most people have been burned a few times by relying on the hours listed for a business in a mapping app.

    "Small business" is a big concept, so we researched and wrote this guide with three types of businesses in mind:
    A retail business that wants people to find it and visit it: a restaurant, a shop, an indie movie theater. A business that wants to sell goods online, at a volume that its existing employees can handle. A service-oriented business that wants to exude professionalism: a law firm, a consultant, a contractor.
    If your business already has a website, either a site on another build-it-yourself platform or one you paid a developer to make, switching to one of our all-in-one picks will likely mean starting over. Most site-building apps cannot import site data, or the look and feel of a site, beyond whatever you can copy and paste. At the same time, you may find that one of our picks can create a site that looks and functions better than what you currently have, and websites built with a good site-building app can be much easier to update and improve.
    How we picked
    First, we researched 17 of the most prominent website building and hosting services, looking at pricing, features, and templates or example client sets.

    There's no easy way to say which building platform offers the "best" tools for making a business website that is easy to navigate, gives people the information they need, reaches the audience searching for it, and has professional polish. Someone with a clear plan and good design instincts, and maybe a little code knowledge, can turn out a decent site using a cheap, underpowered Web-template tool, while the most sophisticated website-building app can only nudge a site owner into making good decisions about what to put up and where to put it. And you can't fully tell whether a particular service will work for your needs until you've gotten deeper into building a site.

    However, speaking with Wirecutter staffers and our experts gave us a sense of what we should look for in a good build-it-yourself platform:
    An interface that requires no code knowledge whatsoever to put a site together, and is also easy for other people to update (even if they didn't make the site originally). Site templates that do not demand a wealth of high-quality images just to get a page up. Where possible, a site platform should offer built-in, tasteful stock-art options for business owners who don't have a library of photos or illustrations. Basic analytics and search engine optimization, or at least guidance on building search-friendly sites, without requiring payment for a premium package. Storage and bandwidth that would not restrict a typical small-business website (preferably unlimited). Timely, friendly, effective customer support for standard-tier customers. Live chat and phone calls during business hours are best, but fast email response is okay. A functional contact form that works on any browser. Pricing that is in line with most of the competition. Most of the extra features offered in the higher-price tiers of site-building apps are marketing or SEO tools that a business could likely buy separately. A website builder shouldn't cost significantly more than mainstream competitors, roughly $20 to $40 per month. Social integration that can be customized and made to look not awful. A free trial of some kind. Websites, and especially online stores, are complex endeavors, and finding out that a platform lacks a feature you need shouldn't happen after you've paid. No intrusive or distracting "Built by" or "Made with" branding or logos. (Minimalist branding is acceptable.) Integrated email and domain management.
    For any business-related website, reliability (it doesn't go down, or it comes as close to "5 nines" as possible) is crucial. We could not test this aspect directly, and most website providers don't offer reliability guarantees, but our picks are companies that are large enough that outages are not common—or at least only as common as most large-scale server outages that affect the Web from time to time.

    For businesses looking to sell goods online, we sought a few more qualities:
    Support for multiple products and identifying information, with as seamless a setup process as possible. A clear fee structure. A store that looks authentic, loads quickly, and is easy to step through, so potential customers don't simply open a new tab and go to Amazon instead. For businesses that mostly sell expertise and appointments, a functional appointment-booking system.
    Using those criteria, we settled on seven apps we wanted to test further: Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, WordPress for Business, GoDaddy GoCentral Website Builder, Simvoly, and Strikingly. Some of these were broadly popular and obvious contenders (Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress), while others had an interesting feature set, price, or templates (GoDaddy, Simvoly, and Strikingly).
    How we tested
    Screenshots by Kevin Purdy, Liam McCabe, Daniel Varghese, and Sabrina Imbler
    You can't tell whether a website-building app will work for you until you try it, so I tested each of our seven finalists, using each one to try to improve the website of my favorite lunchtime deli. In doing so, I noted how much time it took until I felt my site had at least one good page ready to present to the world, and how versatile the tool was in letting me change my mind as I went along. I also asked questions of each app's support staff, to test their speed and helpfulness of response. Some of the apps had built-in help tools, and sometimes detailed help forums or FAQ sections, but every app we tested had one or two quirks that left us wanting to ask "How do you ..." questions, so a good support response was crucial.

    A dozen Wirecutter staffers also built websites using the seven finalists. Some testers built personal sites, but most tried to remake the website of a favorite small business they thought could use a better one. I asked each tester to spend a maximum of about an hour on each site. We didn't publish our sites, because we didn't want to impact the search results for those businesses or confuse people by presenting an unofficial, incomplete version of that business's identity. But each staffer shared their site with me and answered questions about the building process.
    Our pick: Wix
    Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
    If you're going to build your website yourself, Wix presents the fewest obstacles to putting an informative, attractive, and useful website online. In our testing, Wix's site generator and template-editing tools were faster at getting a working site up than those of the competition. Wix's editing interface also made adding, adjusting, and removing page elements easier to accomplish than with other site-building apps.

    Wix offers a good mix of templates that are different, but not overwhelming in number, and most don't require you to have a wealth of high-resolution images available to make them work. Getting a contact form, online food menus, reservations, or other plug-ins working is simple. The built-in SEO tools are easy to set up. Customer support, even for free plans, was helpful in our testing. Wix's free trial is the most useful of any professional site-building tool we tested, giving you unlimited time with a basic plan to try out the tools and templates. And the company's pricing and plans, while not the cheapest, should fit the needs of most small businesses; they're also clear about what you get at each level.

    Jenni Gritters, outdoors editor for Wirecutter, has built sites using Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix, and after our testing, she said she recommended Wix for anyone looking to get a small-business site off the ground. "It's the easiest to use of the three, with pre-built templates that look original and literally no space to mess things up," Jenni wrote in her testing notes. "If people want a pretty website with little to no effort, Wix is a great place to land."

    Before you start looking over templates and obsessing over headlines, Wix can take a shot at building a site for your business using its ADI, or Artificial Design Intelligence, script. It sounds hokey, but by asking you what kind of business you have, where it's located, and what you do and don't need on your site, and then quickly generating a site (usually a single page), Wix's ADI can get you going a lot faster than other website-building tools, most of which still require you to pick and choose templates and design items. Other services, if they ask you any questions about your business at all, ask only the category of your business (as WordPress and Squarespace do) or if you have a Facebook page (as Jimdo does). Wix's ADI works even better if your address is in Google Maps, or if your social media pages contain your logo.

    You can work on any individual piece of your website with Wix, even just one line of text, rather than having to move things around inside a "block" or "section." Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Wix's interface didn't leave us guessing about how to change things, remove things, or move things around on the page. Wix offers hundreds of templates (more on that just below), so chances are, you'll be able to find one that won't require you to change the layout or page elements significantly.

    Having this freedom to move, resize, and customize each element of the page could lead to overenthusiastic mistakes. Wix offers simple undo and redo buttons, and saves a new version of your page every time you save. This is definitely not the case with perhaps the most heavily advertised site builder, Squarespace, where tapping Control+Z or Command+Z to undo sometimes works but sometimes doesn't, and cleaning up mistakes can lead you to wipe out other page elements accidentally or leave you wandering through the settings menus. WordPress's templates offer draft versions and preview links, but not the same kind of undo/redo/history convenience.

    When asked to rate (on a scale of one to five, with five being the best) how difficult they would find it to come back and update their Wix sites regularly, two staff testers gave Wix the highest average scores of any app, a four and a five. My own testing led me to agree with them. Updating a site through Wix is similar to designing the site itself: It feels like editing a document, rather than building through code. You can either edit the text of a block or section on the page directly or create a News section on a page and edit the items inside that. Wix doesn't give you a wealth of options, but it does offer more than what most tested site-building apps provide.

    Wix offers a variety of templates, organized into specific business or use categories. For example, Wix's "Fashion & Beauty" section has "Hair & Beauty" and "Fashion & Accessories" subsections, and then themes titled "Beauty Salon," "The Makeup Artist," "Hairdresser Site," and such. These specialized options are more useful than some other services' overly broad categories, and they make it easier to get started than Squarespace's vague names like "Montauk" and "Foster."

    Wix's templates are not all similar, and they work even for businesses that don't have a variety of good photography on hand. Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Modern Web design (and the approach of most website-building services) tends toward large, high-quality images, sometimes animated, often laid out on top of one another, as a visitor scrolls down a long page. But not every business owner has a wealth of images available. Wix provides a few options to get good images on your site, besides uploading yourself: importing from social media accounts, using a free Wix-provided image, or buying images from Shutterstock for about $3 each. Other sites (such as Strikingly) offer free images, and some (such as Squarespace) offer paid art, but having both, plus easy import from Facebook or Instagram or the like, leaves you unlikely to hit a wall because you don't have the right image for a template.

    If you don't have the right image for a piece of your site, Wix provides both free and low-cost stock art. Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Getting the functional parts of your site working—contact forms, menus, interactive maps, social integration, or even online ordering—is easy with Wix, especially given that most relevant templates will have those sections set up. Contact forms need only your email address to work. Wix launches a small wizard when you assemble an online food menu, and you can fill it out with images (stock or your own). Squarespace, in contrast, has you edit the text of your menu on the page; some other website-building apps provide just an upload spot for a PDF menu (which is fine for some cases, but not particularly mobile-friendly). You have options to accept online reservations and orders through Wix's own services, but you can also integrate OpenTable, any of a number of appointment and booking tools, and many other apps.

    Wix's SEO tools are a good introduction to keyword optimizing and writing effective descriptions for your site. Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Wix provides some basic SEO tools that, while not anything magical, do coax you into making your site describe itself in search-friendly ways. Most site-building apps claim that SEO is baked into their pages and design. Wix exposes you to a bit of the behind-the-scenes work, such as picking out the strongest keywords, updating a site's meta (search-friendly) description, being mobile-friendly, and more. We liked that Wix didn't pretend there was a secret sauce that only it could provide; the company spells out its SEO advice on the open Web. Upgrading to any paid plan allows you to hook in Google Analytics, Facebook ad tracking, and other analytics tools that are par for the course for a small-business site.

    I posed a written question to Wix's support center at nearly 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night and received a detailed response by about 10 a.m. the next day. I asked about the best way to create a menu for a restaurant website that would allow me to frequently change out the daily specials. The company's response seemed considered and written by a human. The suggestion was only a partial solution (creating menu items that appeared only on certain days), but the person responding noted that they had added my suggestion to "the relevant inbox" and "hope to see easier options for daily menus in the future." A fast, affirmative response, and a note that things could be better, is a pretty good result from a late-night support post.

    Wix's lengthy, essentially unlimited free trial period is also appealing. With a free account, you can build your site in private, put up a preview (at a Wix.com address) for anyone to check out, and invite collaborators to work on your site, for as long as you like. The features that pull you into paid plans include the ability to remove Wix.com ads and branding from the bottom of your site, to use your own .com domain, and to get more storage. Most small businesses won't bump up against the bandwidth or storage limits of the Combo plan ($12 per month), and we don't think most businesses need the added features of the Unlimited and VIP plans, such as accepting online payments and launching email campaigns, which are likely things a fast-growing business would want handled by a specialized service like Shopify (another pick) or MailChimp.
    Flaws but not dealbreakers
    An inherent flaw of Wix's more detailed, open-ended design capabilities is that if you change a lot of the elements of a template, you can end up making bad style choices with the type, images, layout, sizing, organization, or any other element of Web design. Judging from our testing, Wix won't interfere if you really want to use Comic Sans and a low-res image of a greasy sandwich to poorly advertise your diner. None of the other site-building apps did much advising either, but their editing tools did not offer as many ways to change each element of a page design. Wix's finer-grained controls provide more opportunities for missteps, if someone uses too many of them.

    Once you pick a template on Wix, you can't switch to another template—you have to rebuild the site with that new look. Template-switching doesn't work wonderfully on other website builders, as it usually produces a number of errors and odd leftovers, but swapping between templates is at least possible with Weebly and works fairly well on Squarespace.

    Wix's Combo package contains most of what we think small businesses will need but imposes monthly limits on file storage (3 GB) and bandwidth (2 GB). While those limits shouldn't affect most small businesses' sites, Wix's competitors, including Weebly and Squarespace, offer unlimited storage and bandwidth at or below that price level.

    Testers complained of having difficulty removing page features (sidebar text boxes, large images, contact forms) from certain templates without messing up the page's general layout. Unless you use a single-page layout (or a "strip," in Wix terms), template elements are not modular, and wiping out an entire container means having to smoosh together the elements that were around it to make up for the empty space.

    Wix does not allow for editing a website's style sheet (CSS files), and doesn't provide deeper access to the HTML behind the page, or FTP access to the files. This restriction is intentional, but it means that experienced Web designers can't easily fix up your site or introduce custom bits of code or design choices to your site. Both Weebly and Squarespace offer more robust design and code tools in their settings.
    A simpler option: Weebly
    Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
    If you're willing to give up stylish template options and work with a smaller set of boxier, more-modular editing tools, Weebly is worth considering. It doesn't offer as wide a range of attractive templates, as many ways to alter those templates, an interview-style site setup, or as many plug-in apps as Wix. But Weebly's simpler tools are easier to use, and it provides the same contact forms, maps, and other website basics. It also costs less: Weebly's Starter plan is roughly two-thirds the cost of Wix's comparable Combo plan, has the same essentially infinite free trial, and puts no limits on bandwidth or storage, unlike Wix.

    Weebly's interface involves more drag-and-drop blocks than Wix's freeform grid alignments—it's not better or worse, just different. Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Weebly is drag-and-drop in the truest sense, as you grab page elements from a left-side bank and then bring them into your page. You don't get as many editing tools and plug-in apps as with Wix, but the ones that most small businesses need should be there. An example: One Wirecutter tester was irked that Weebly had no tools to create a link to a different section of the same page (an anchor link in Web terms); Weebly's support section says you can make an anchor link, but only manually with HTML code.

    Weebly allows for more access than Wix does to the CSS and HTML code underneath your site, in case you want to try a font or style that Weebly doesn't offer or bring in outside help. You can also enter, in the page's settings section, your own site description and keywords, and install the tracking code for any tool (such as Google Analytics) you might use. That's handy, but you need to dig into Weebly's "Ultimate SEO Guide" to go further.

    Weebly's plug-ins, such as this embedded Google Map, are painless to configure. Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Weebly costs $8 per month for the Starter plan, which removes Weebly advertising, lets you use your own domain, provides unlimited storage, and adds site stats and a few other tools. That's just two-thirds of the price of the most similar Wix plan, with no storage or bandwidth restrictions, making Weebly worth considering if you don't mind choosing from plainer templates and doing more of the design work yourself.
    An add-on for selling goods online: Shopify
    Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
    Shopify is the online-sales service that each designer we spoke to—even those who specialized in site-building apps with built-in ecommerce tools, like Wix and Squarespace—specifically recommended. We didn't test Shopify in the same way that we tested website-building apps because it wasn't feasible to create an entire fake workflow of products, store, sales, shipping, tracking, customer service, inventory, payments, and return-customer marketing. But going by recommendations, research, and, most of all, the fact that Shopify can work with all of our site-building picks, we think Shopify is the first place to look if you need a system to handle the stuff you sell online.

    Shopify's $9-per-month Lite plan allows you to sell items through an embeddable buy button that works in Wix, Weebly, and most any other website-building service. This plan also gives you the ability to sell through your business's Facebook page, take support questions through Facebook Messenger, and (after you buy a $50 hardware setup) sell through a phone or tablet with a mobile card reader. The plan should cover a business that is mostly focused on brick-and-mortar sales but sells online occasionally. If you want to scale up, Shopify's other plans give you an unlimited number of items and infinite image storage, shipping discounts, scaling transaction fees, and the like.

    Shopify's item pages and widgets are meant to blend into any website design. Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Shopify powers a lot of online stores, though you often don't see the company's custom-built interfaces and branding because it's hidden or tightly integrated. It's a large enough vendor and focused on one aspect of business, so your store should remain reliably online and offer a quick-and-easy checkout experience. On top of that, Shopify's fees and rates are usually lower than those of our picks' built-in e-commerce tools. Paige Brunton, the Squarespace design specialist we interviewed, told us she recommended Shopify to any client who was "selling more than a few secondary things," and specifically 20 or more items.
    What about Squarespace?
    Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald
    Squarespace creates websites that are heavy on big, high-resolution images, prominent type (often overlaid on images), long pages with multiple sections, and a lot of neutral space around everything. Squarespace bakes good design sense into all its templates, and if your business fits Squarespace's young, ultramodern sensibility, your site will look great. But judging from our testing, and according to the experts we interviewed, people who jump into a Squarespace template without a lot of big, impressive images, or who start moving things around to get the site they want, will end up fighting the app.

    Squarespace's editing interface is harder to get comfortable with than those of Wix or Weebly, and moving items around or changing them can introduce tricky page problems. Screenshots: Kevin Purdy and Sabrina Imbler
    "Unless you have a very critical eye, it's too easy to make a template site look not so great," said Brandon Davis of brand and strategy firm Block Club. In our tests, Wirecutter staffers hit frustrating roadblocks when trying to make images link to different internal pages, moving images or text blocks around without rearranging other parts of the template, figuring out how to change the front-page background image (confusingly dubbed the "banner"), and setting up the pages and menus (you have to clone or delete the Demo pages first).


    If your business does fit one of Squarespace's templates without requiring notable changes, the result can be impressive. Wirecutter staffers described their Squarespace sites as "looking clean and very pretty," "uber-fancy," and "not bad for less than an hour's work."


    We recommend looking through Squarespace's templates and seeing if your idea for a site and all its pages map over to an example site, and considering whether you have the right images to replace those in the example. If so, Squarespace's support is responsive and helpful, and its pricing is simple, with no storage or bandwidth limits. Small businesses can likely use the Personal plan, unless they need Google-based email or plan to sell online—though we recommend a different tool for online sales.
    The competitionServices we tested
    WordPress powers close to 25 percent of all websites, including Wirecutter. But that's the self-hosted technology; WordPress's own hosted site builder for businesses is a different thing, though it felt similar to our testers—and not in a good way. It seemed to encourage a blog-style setup, with a stream of posts running down the page. Our testers needed to take a while to figure out how to set up some basic things such as menus and navigation, and although the sites looked okay when they were done, the experience made our testers unlikely to recommend WordPress to anyone without a lot of website-making experience. Nobody was sure of the best practices or settings for ensuring SEO-friendly descriptions. Generally, it didn't seem like it was much easier to build a site on WordPress's business-focused platform than it was to build out a WordPress installation with the help of a designer.

    Strikingly (first image) and Jimdo (second image) offer very simplified site designs, but neither provides a better value than our top picks.Screenshot: Kevin Purdy
    Strikingly focuses on creating one-page (maybe two-page) sites for businesses that want to tell customers about themselves and maybe link somewhere else. We liked Strikingly's especially simple page tools and small set of options for changing layouts and styles, but the service charges $16 per month to get rid of a persistent purple Strikingly banner at the bottom of your site (both desktop and mobile), making it more expensive than our picks, with less flexibility.


    Jimdo also provides single-page sites for businesses, using interview-style page creation, with the added convenience of importing information and pictures from your business's Facebook and Google Maps pages (if they exist). Still, most brand-new businesses won't have those set up yet. And Jimdo's templates are more rigid than Strikingly's, often lacking style or color options for a page's content blocks. Regardless, we nearly named Jimdo as a pick for creating very, very simple pages that, while not as refined as our picks' templates, still managed to convey a respectable presence, for an ad-free Pro price lower than most.

    Simvoly offers no built-in photo editing or cropping features—or, at least, our tester couldn't find them. It also lacks an undo function, and our tester described the page/menu setup as "mind-boggling." And it doesn't cost less than our runner-up pick.

    GoDaddy's GoCentral Website Builder did not provide our tester with many template options or design choices, and left our tester feeling they had created a site that was only "fine, if you don't need much [and] don't ever update it."
    Services we considered but did not test
    Yola received unimpressive reviews from other publications, and it keeps its Yola branding on sites that pay for its Bronze tier. Yola's templates didn't catch our eye at first glance. The main Yola site was also down twice while we were researching this guide, which didn't inspire confidence.

    BigCommerce is indeed big, and its cheapest plan starts at $30 per month, with just a 15-day free trial. For a small business looking to set up its own site, that's a big price to pay.

    The templates from Duda seemed intriguing, but its cheapest plan for businesses costs more than those of our picks, which have much broader support and plug-in compatibility and more users. The company also places an emphasis on reselling (white-labeling) its site builder through third-party designers.

    SiteBuilder, uKit, and Site123 offer no templates or example client sites on their pages. uKit and Site123 provide scant detail on their pricing, and SiteBuilder uses prominent introductory prices to obscure the real cost of its services.

    Cargo (aka Cargo Collective) seems dedicated to sites for publications, with a tight focus on artistic and abstract expression.

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

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


  • After Math: Redemption songs

    Self-inflicted SNAFUs are an inevitable, albeit cringe-inducing, aspect of life -- whether that's referring to the veteran who helped save a squad of young soccer players as "pedo guy" or wondering aloud if maybe holocaust deniers are simply misunderstood. So yeah, it was a good week for mea culpas as well as countries and companies alike stepping up to do the right thing (for once).



    15 inches: It's not easy squeezing a kid through a flooded passageway barely more than a foot wide and apparently impossible to do if that kid is housed in a miniature submarine that your company threw together from spare parts. But don't tell that to Elon Musk, unless you want to be accused of pedophilia. But at least he apologized for it.



    13 years: Technically, Facebook is only meant for use by adults and proper teenagers. Tweens need not apply thanks to the US Child Online Privacy Protection Act which excludes anyone under the age of 13 from signing up for social media accounts. Facebook announced this week that it would begin enforcing that rule, some 20 years after the passage of the COPPA.



    58 million: It Twitter seems ever so slightly less toxic these days, it probably has something to do with the company knocking nearly 60 million bot accounts offline during the final months of 2017. Or it could be the additional 70 million fake accounts that they've nixed in the past two months.



    6 years: Adidas is going all in on going green. The company announced that by 2024, any plastics used in its shoes and athletic gear will come exclusively from recycled sources. Good on them.



    44.92 Mbps: Residents of Minneapolis rejoice! You've got some of the fastest internet connectivity in the entire country, beating out the likes of San Francisco and Irvine in California, Fort Wayne, Indiana and sister city Saint Paul.



    $0: Not only did Google announce this week that it will be working with the UN to study the impact of human activity on the environment, the company will be doing so at no charge. Because we're all in this together. Yes, even you weirdos who think that climate change is caused by body heat.



    4.5 months: Cuba is finally joining the digital revolution and has announced plans to roll out internet connectivity island-wide by the end of this year. Journalists with the state-run media will get first crack at the service, though there's no word yet on what it will cost everybody else.



OSNews

  • What's going on with Microsoft's Surface Andromeda device?
    Zac Bowden has published an article making sense of all the news and rumors regarding Microsoft's Andromeda device, its dual-screen foldable tablet thing. According to his sources, the device is not cancelled, but delayed until next year because the custom UI Microsoft is building for it needs more time.
    The Andromeda device runs an experience tailored for its unique form-factor, which is built on top of Windows Core OS. This tailored experience is known as Andromeda OS and includes no legacy UIs and bloat. Microsoft is doing the exact same thing with Surface Hub 2, which also runs a custom tailored version of Windows Core OS known as Aruba and built specifically for that large collaborative device form factor.  Therefore, it's important to stress that Andromeda OS is unlike any version of Windows 10 available on the market today; it's an entirely new Windows OS experience powered by CShell that's built from the ground up for mobile dual-screened multitasking. Because of this, Microsoft needs more time to ensure the OS is well-baked.
    Bowden's article is probably the closest to the current state of Andromeda.



  • Bloomberg: Fuchsia intended to replace Android in five years
    Well, here it is. I've been saying for 18 months now that Fuchsia clearly felt like a whole lot more than "just" a research operating system, and that I believed its developers' ultimate goal is to replace Android, which is a dead end. This Bloomberg article by the usually well-informed Mark Gurman is the clearest indication yet that such is, indeed, the end goal.
    But members of the Fuchsia team have discussed a grander plan that is being reported here for the first time: Creating a single operating system capable of running all the company's in-house gadgets, like Pixel phones and smart speakers, as well as third-party devices that now rely on Android and another system called Chrome OS, according to people familiar with the conversations.  According to one of the people, engineers have said they want to embed Fuchsia on connected home devices, such as voice-controlled speakers, within three years, then move on to larger machines such as laptops. Ultimately the team aspires to swap in their system for Android, the software that powers more than three quarters of the world's smartphones, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The aim is for this to happen in the next half decade, one person said.   CEO Sundar Pichai hasn't signed off on all of this just yet, so it's by no means 100% guaranteed - and a lot can change in five years. That being said, it's getting easier and easier to see which way the wind's blowing.  There's also reports of Fuchsia's security and privacy oriented design getting in conflict with Google's ad-driven business model.  The company must also settle some internal feuds. Some of the principles that Fuchsia creators are pursuing have already run up against Google's business model. Google's ads business relies on an ability to target users based on their location and activity, and Fuchsia's nascent privacy features would, if implemented, hamstring this important business. There's already been at least one clash between advertising and engineering over security and privacy features of the fledgling operating system, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ad team prevailed, this person said.
    It's sad to hear that, but in the end, not exactly surprising.


  • Chrome OS isn't ready for tablets yet
    So this is supposed to be a review of the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, a tablet that was designed explicitly and exclusively for the education market. Acer and Google say teachers really wanted a tablet form factor for the classroom, and they really don't want to have to figure out how to manage an entirely new operating system when they're already all in on Chrome OS. And so here it is, finally: an honest-to-goodness Chrome OS tablet.
    Keep this article in mind when you read the next item I'm about to post.


  • Chinese iCloud user data is now handled by a state-owned telco
    If you're an Apple customer living in China who didn't already opt out of having your iCloud data stored locally, here's a good reason to do so now. That information, the data belonging to China-based iCloud users which includes emails and text messages, is now being stored by a division of China Telecom, the state-owned telco.  The operator's Tianyi cloud storage business unit has taken the reins for iCloud China, according to a WeChat post from China Telecom. Apple separately confirmed the change to TechCrunch.
    Privacy is very important to us at Apple. Unless you're Chinese - then you're shit out of luck.


  • Windows 10 getting support for leap seconds
    Microsoft is bringing support for leap seconds - yes, that one extra second - to Windows, starting with Windows 10 Redstone 5 and Windows Server 2019. With the upcoming updates for Windows 10, Microsoft's operating system now deals with leap seconds in a way that is incredibly accurate, UTC-compliant, and traceable.  Leap seconds typically occur every 18 months, resulting in one extra second. The extra leap second occurs to adjust with the earth's slowed down rotation, and an extra second is added to UTC in order to keep it in-sync with mean solar time. To deal with the extra second more appropriately, Windows 10 will now display that extra second, instead of directly jumping to the next one, making it the world's first OS to have full support for leap seconds.
    I didn't know operating systems didn't fully support leap seconds. That is a big surprise to me.


  • Google CEO responds to EU Android fine
    Google's CEO Sundar Pichai has responded to the EU's antitrust fine regarding Android. The blog post is exactly what you'd expect - a lot of fluffy language about how amazing Android is and how it helps little kids pet bunnies and all that stuff, with remarkably little substance. There's really no actual reply to the three core claims in the EU ruling, which makes the response rather weak.

    One part stood out to me though.
    The phones made by these companies are all different, but have one thing in common - the ability to run the same applications. This is possible thanks to simple rules that ensure technical compatibility, no matter what the size or shape of the device. No phone maker is even obliged to sign up to these rules - they can use or modify Android in any way they want, just as Amazon has done with its Fire tablets and TV sticks.
    This hits at the core of the ruling, because according to the EU, established through years of research and verifiable through leaked copies of the agreements Google signs with Android device makers, the very problem is that Android bans Android device makers from making or shipping Android devices that do not use Google's version of Android. Pichai seems to claim here that that's not true, but this is something that ought to be easily verifiable, and I doubt the EU would hand down this fine if the agreements between Android device makers and Google didn't clearly specify this.

    We'll have to wait and see if Google can substantiate all of this, because if not, Pichai just flat-out lied in an official statement from the company.


  • Microsoft announces preview of Windows 10 IoT Core Services
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how businesses gather and use data to develop competitive insights and create new financial opportunities. As IoT technology matures and our partners gain more experience, they are evolving their business models to increase the overall return on investment of their IoT solutions. This includes adding recurring revenue, enhancing security, and reducing support costs.  At Computex a few weeks back, we announced Windows 10 IoT Core Services, which enables our IoT partners to commercialize their solutions running on Windows 10 IoT Core. We are now excited to announce the public preview of this service along with details on purchasing and pricing. As described in our previous blog, IoT Core Services provides 10 years of operating system support along with services to manage device updates and assess device health.
    I have no idea what any of this means, but I'm just the copier and paster.


  • EU fines Android for $5 billion for Android antitrust violations
    Update: here's the full press release. Here's the three main violations:
    In particular, Google:  has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google's app store (the Play Store); made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called "Android forks").  Original article continues below.    Google has been hit with a record-breaking €4.3 billion ($5 billion) fine by EU regulators for breaking antitrust laws. The European Commission says Google has abused its Android market dominance by bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and "made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators" to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets.
    I'm okay with bundling applications, but I'm 100% opposed to large corporations like Google blocking competing companies from running forked versions of Android - allowed through Android's licensing - and wealthy corporations basically buying dominance by sending large sums of money to in this case carriers and manufacturers that smaller companies could never afford.

    That being said, I do feel like the way we determine what is and is not corporate behaviour damaging to consumers and the market needs some serious overhaul. I've asked this question on OSNews before, but even though Apple doesn't have the market share to qualify as a monopoly, does anyone really want to argue that Apple - which sucks up virtually all of the profits in the handset market, despite its small marketshare - does not have power and influence over the mobile market akin to Google's? Which player has more influence over a market - the player with 10% market share sucking up 90% of the profits, or the player with 90% marketshare sucking up only 10% of the profits?

    I'm no economist so I'm not going to claim I know the answer, but it sure does seem like relying solely on market share to evaluate market dominance seems shortsighted, at best.


  • Do you really need to properly eject a USB drive?
    Pull a USB flash drive out of your Mac without first clicking to eject it, and you'll get a stern, shameful warning: "Disk Not Ejected Properly."  But do you really need to eject a thumb drive the right way?  Probably not. Just wait for it to finish copying your data, give it a few seconds, then yank. To be on the cautious side, be more conservative with external hard drives, especially the old ones that actually spin.  That's not the official procedure, nor the most conservative approach. And in a worst-case scenario, you risk corrupting a file or - even more unlikely - the entire storage device.
    This is terrible advice for regular users, but I have to admit that I, too, don't really use the safe eject features of operating systems, unless I want to eject right after completing a write operation.



Linux Journal - The Original Magazine of the Linux Community

  • Vivaldi's New Qwant Privacy-Focused Search Engine, Microsoft Makes PowerShell Core a Snap, Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.6 Now Available, Apache Software Foundation's Annual Report and More

    News briefs for June 20, 2018.

    Vivaldi Technologies has added a new privacy-focused search engine called Qwant to its Vivaldi web browser. Qwant doesn't store cookies or search history. Softpedia News quotes CEO and co-founder of Vivaldi Jon von Tetzchner: "We believe that the Internet can do better. We do not believe in tracking our users or in data profiling." You need version 1.15 of Vivaldi in order to enable Qwant.

    Microsoft has made its PowerShell Core available in the Snap Store as a Snap application, OMG Ubuntu reports, allowing "Linux users and admins on various distros to run the latest version of PowerShell securely and safely across desktop, laptop and IoT."

    Red Hat Ansible Engine 2.6 is now available. According to the press release, this new version "adds new content for automating across hybrid and multicloud environments, along with simplified connections to network APIs and updates for Ansible deployments overseeing Windows environments". It allows users "to more rapidly expand their infrastructure, without expanding manpower" and focuses on three areas of automation: multicloud, network and Windows.

    Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook announced the Open-Source Data Transfer Project to promote universal data portability. Phoronix reports that the initiative "is to enable consumers to transfer data directly from one server to another, without the need for downloading/uploading of the content". See also the Google Open Source blog for more information.

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) released its annual report last week, which announced that the Foundation received open-source code worth more than $600 million by volunteer project contributors over a 12-month period. According to the post on IT Web, the report also covered one of the biggest crises for the ASF: "the Equifax data breach that affected 143 million consumers in the US and Canada as a result of a vulnerability in Apache Struts".
          News  Privacy  Vivaldi  Web Browsers  Microsoft  Snap  Red Hat  Ansible  Cloud  Apache                   


  • Atomic Modeling with GAMGI
        by Joey Bernard   
    For this article, I'm moving back into the realm of chemistry software—specifically, the General Atomistic Modelling Graphic Interface, or GAMGI. GAMGI provides a very complete set of tools that allows you to design and visualize fairly complex molecules.

    GAMGI has the special ability to make creating repeating structures much easier, which is handy when you're trying to create crystalline structures.

    GAMGI should be available in the package repositories of most Linux distributions. For example, on Debian-based distros, you can install GAMGI with the following command:
      sudo apt-get install gamgi  
    There are also data and documentation packages (gamgi-data and gamgi-doc), and when you first start to use GAMGI, it's a good idea to install those packages as well.

    Once the packages are installed, you can start GAMGI from the command line or from your desktop environment's menu system. When it starts up, you get a blank canvas to begin your work.

    Figure 1. When you start GAMGI, you get a minimal set of tools to help begin your project.

    This interface is probably one of the more minimal ones of the chemistry packages that you are likely to use, but it hides all of the functionality that is present within GAMGI. It is object-oriented, in that all of the main elements are treated as independent objects, with properties and relationships to other objects. These elements include atoms, bonds, molecules and crystal planes. Each of them are built up of a number of the earlier ones. One extra piece that GAMGI has is the ability to work with orbitals. Let's walk through an example of a salt crystal (NaCl) to show how you can use GAMGI to do graphical analysis.

    When looking at a crystalline structure, you'll want to start by creating a cell in the window. You do this by clicking the Cell→Create menu item. Then you'll get a pop-up window where you can set several properties of the new cell.

    Figure 2. When you create a new cell for crystal structures, you can set several different properties on how it will be constructed.

    Since salt is a cubic crystal, you'll want to set the system value to c (for cubic), and set the lattice value to F (for face-centered). For each of these, you can get a full set of allowed values by clicking the associated "List" button. Clicking Ok creates the cell.
        Go to Full Article          



  • Using the Best CPU Available on Asymmetric Systems
        by Zack Brown   
    Dietmar Eggemann posted a patch from Quentin Perret to take advantage of energy-efficient CPUs on asymmetric multiprocessor (AMP) systems. AMP is distinguished from SMP (symmetric multiprocessor) systems in that an SMP system uses several instances of only one type of CPU, while an AMP system might use CPUs of differing speeds, feature-sets and so on.

    Quentin's patch was an effort to take advantage of differences in power consumption between the CPUs on an AMP system. It attempted to identify the most efficient CPU that was not already saturated with processes and assign newly awakened processes to it. If no CPUs fit the bill, standard SMP-type methods of processor assignment would be used instead.

    Dietmar explained, "The selection of the most energy-efficient CPU for a task is achieved by estimating the impact on system-level active energy resulting from the placement of the task on each candidate CPU. The best CPU energy-wise is then selected if it saves a large enough amount of energy with respect to prev_cpu."

    He acknowledged that this algorithm was a brute-force approach that could work well only on systems with a relatively small number of CPUs. He said, "This patch is an attempt to do something useful, as writing a fast heuristic that performs reasonably well on a broad spectrum of architectures isn't an easy task."

    Patrick Bellasi and Joel Fernandes had no serious objections to the patch and offered some technical suggestions. The discussion delved into various technical issues and specific ways of addressing them, with no one raising any controversial issues.

    This is the type of situation with a patch where it might look like a lack of opposition could let it sail into the kernel tree, but really, it just hasn't been thoroughly examined by Linux bigwigs yet. Once the various contributors have gotten the patch as good as they can get it without deeper feedback, they'll probably send it up the ladder for inclusion in the main source tree. At that point, the security folks will jump all over it, looking for ways that a malicious user might force processes all onto only one particular CPU (essentially mounting a denial-of-service attack) or some such thing. Even if the patch survives that scrutiny, one of the other big-time kernel people, or even Linus Torvalds, could reject the patch on the grounds that it should represent a solution for large-scale systems as well as small.
        Go to Full Article          


  • Google Fined by EU for Antitrust Violations, Qt Creator 4.7.0 Now Available, New ownCloud Version 10.0.9, pfSense Gold to Be Free with the 2.4.4 Release, Kobol Relaunches Helios4

    News briefs for July 18, 2018.

    Google is being fined $5 billion USD for Android antitrust violations, The Verge reports. The EU Commission claims Google has abused Android dominance in three ways: "Google has been bundling its search engine and Chrome apps into the operating system. Google has also allegedly blocked phone makers from creating devices that run forked versions of Android, and 'made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators' to exclusively bundle the Google Search app on handsets." It has 90 days to bring its "illegal conduct to an end in an effective manner". Google plans to appeal this decision.

    Qt Creator version 4.7.0 is now available. The release announcement notes that with this release, the Clang code model now is on by default to keep up with developments in C++. In addition, "the Clang code model provides much better information about issues in code without going through the edit-compile-analyze cycle explicitly." You can download the open-source version here.

    ownCloud's new version 10.0.9 includes improved password policy, S3 Object Storage integration and pending shares feature. According to the ownCloud press release, this new version increases security as "password policies can now be defined for all users, and a password history prevents previously used passwords from being set and the ability to accept or reject pending shares of received files provides additional control and security." You can download ownCloud here and its corresponding apps here.

    Netgate announces that pfSense Gold will be free with the 2.4.4 release, including all services previously offered under the pfSense Gold subscription, such as the pfSense Book and monthly online Hangouts (video conferences). In addition, AutoConfigBackup (ACB) also will be free and will conform to GDPR best practices. The 2.4.4 release is planned for September 2018.

    Kobol is relaunching Helios4 via its own funding campaign. The open-spec NAS SBC and fanned system "runs Debian on a Marvell Armada 388 SoC with 2GB ECC RAM and offers 1x GbE, 2x USB 3.0, and 4x SATA 3.0 ports for up to 48TB". According to the Linux Gizmos post, "So far, the Full Kit is half funded while the Basic Kit has drawn little interest. Kobol says that it will refund the money if the campaign doesn't reach its 500-unit goal by Aug. 5. Shipments are due in October."
          News  Google  Android  EU  qt  OwnCloud  pfSense  Security  Hardware  Embedded                   


  • At Rest Encryption
        by Kyle Rankin   
    Learn why at rest encryption doesn't mean encryption when your laptop is asleep.

    There are many steps you can take to harden a computer, and a common recommendation you'll see in hardening guides is to enable disk encryption. Disk encryption also often is referred to as "at rest encryption", especially in security compliance guides, and many compliance regimes, such as PCI, mandate the use of at rest encryption. This term refers to the fact that data is encrypted "at rest" or when the disk is unmounted and not in use. At rest encryption can be an important part of system-hardening, yet many administrators who enable it, whether on workstations or servers, may end up with a false sense of security if they don't understand not only what disk encryption protects you from, but also, and more important, what it doesn't.
     What Disk Encryption Does
    In the context of Linux servers and workstations, disk encryption generally means you are using a system such as LUKS to encrypt either the entire root partition or only a particularly sensitive mountpoint. For instance, some Linux distributions offer the option of leaving the root partition unencrypted, and they encrypt each user's /home directories independently, to be unlocked when the user logs in. In the case of servers, you might leave root unencrypted and add encryption only to specific disks that contain sensitive data (like database files).

    In a workstation, you notice when a system is encrypted at rest because it will prompt you for a passphrase to unlock the disk at boot time. Servers typically are a bit trickier, because usually administrators prefer that a server come back up after a reboot without manual intervention. Although some servers may provide a console-based prompt to unlock the disk at boot time, administrators are more likely to have configured LUKS so that the key resides on a separate unencrypted partition. Or, the server may retrieve the key from the network using their configuration management or a centralized secrets management tool like Vault, so there is less of a risk of the key being stolen by an attacker with access to the filesystem.

    The main thing that at rest encryption protects you from is data loss due to theft or improper decommissioning of hard drives. If someone steals your laptop while it's powered off, your data will be protected. If someone goes into a data center and physically removes drives from a server with at rest encryption in place, the drives will spin down, and the data on them will be encrypted. The same goes for disks in a server that has been retired. Administrators are supposed to perform secure wiping or full disk destruction procedures to remove sensitive data from drives before disposal, but if the administrator was lazy, disk encryption can help ensure that the data is still protected if it gets into the wrong hands.
        Go to Full Article          



  • IBM's New Security-First Nabla Container, Humble Bundle's "Linux Geek Bundle", Updates on the Upcoming Atari VCS Console, Redesigned Files App for Chromebooks and Catfish 1.4.6 Released

    News briefs for July 17, 2018.

    IBM has a new container called Nabla designed for security first, ZDNet reports. IBM claims it's "more secure than Docker or other containers by cutting operating system calls to the bare minimum and thereby reducing its attack surface as small as possible". See also this article for more information on Nabla and this article on how to get started running the containers.

    Humble Bundle is offering a "Linux Geek Bundle" of ebooks from No Starch Press for $1 (or more—your choice) right now, in connection with It's FOSS. The Linux Geek bundle's books are worth $571 and are available in PDF, ePUB and MOBI format, and are DRM-free. Part of the purchase price will be donated to the EFF. See the It's FOSS post for the list of titles and more info.

    More information on the upcoming Atari VCS console due to launch next year has been released in a Q&A on Medium with Rob Wyatt, System Architect for the Atari VCS project. Rob provides more details on the hardware specs: "The VCS hardware will be powered by an AMD Bristol Ridge family APU with Radeon R7 graphics and is now going to get 8 gigabytes of unified memory. This is a huge upgrade from what was originally specified and unlike other consoles it's all available, we won't reserve 25% of hardware resources for system use." In addition, the Q&A covers the Atari VCS "open platform" and "Sandbox", compatible controllers and more.

    Google's Chrome OS team is working on redesigning its Files app for Chromebooks "with a new 'My Files' section that promises to help you better organize your local files, including those from any Android and Linux apps you might have installed." See the Softpedia News post for more information on this redesigned app for Android and Linux files and how to test it via the Chrome OS Canary experimental channel.

    Catfish 1.4.6 has been released, and it has now officially joined the Xfce family. According to the announcement, it's "lightweight, fast, and a perfect companion to the Thunar file manager. With the transition from Launchpad to Xfce, things have moved around a bit. Update your bookmarks accordingly!" Other new features include an improved thumbnailer, translation updates and several bug fixes. New releases of Catfish now can be found at the Xfce release archive.
          News  IBM  Containers  Nabla  Security  Books  gaming  Google  ChromeOS  Chromebooks  Catfish  XFCE                   


  • A Look at Google's Project Fi
        by Shawn Powers   
    Google's Project Fi is a great cell-phone service, but the data-only SIMs make it incredible for network projects!

    I have a lot of cell phones. I have iPhones (old and new), Android phones (old, new, very old and funny-shaped), and I have a few legacy phones that aren't either Android or iPhone. Remember Maemo? Yeah, and I still have one of those old Nokia phones somewhere too. Admittedly, part of the reason I have such a collection is that I tend to hoard nostalgic technology, but part of it is practical too.

    I've used phones as IP cameras for BirdTopia (my recorded and streamed bird-feeder collection). I've created WiFi-only audiobook devices that I use when I'm out and about. I've used old phones as SONOS remotes, Plex players, Chromecast initiators and countless other tasks that tiny little computers are perfect for doing. One of the frustrating things about using old cell phones for projects like that though is they only have WiFi access, because adding multiple devices to a cell plan becomes expensive quickly. That's not the case anymore, however, thanks to Google's Project Fi.

    Most people love Project Fi because of the tower-hopping features or because of the fair pricing. I like those features too, but the real bonus for me is the "data only" SIM option. Like most people, I rarely make phone calls anymore, and there are so many chat apps, texting isn't very important either. With most cell-phone plans, there's an "access" fee per line. With Project Fi, additional devices don't cost anything more! (But, more about that later.) The Project Fi experience is worth investigating.
     What's the Deal?
    Project Fi is a play on the term "WiFi" and is pronounced "Project Fye", as opposed to "Project Fee", which is what I called it at first. Several features set Project Fi apart from other cell-phone plans.

    First, Project Fi uses towers from three carriers: T-Mobile, US Cellular and Sprint. When using supported hardware, Project Fi constantly monitors signal strength and seamlessly transitions between the various towers. Depending on where you live, this can mean constant access to the fastest network or a better chance of having any coverage at all. (I'm in the latter group, as I live in a rural area.)

    The second standout feature of Project Fi is the pricing model. Every phone pays a $20/month fee for unlimited calls and texts. On top of that, all phones and devices share a data pool that costs $10/GB. The data cost isn't remarkably low, but Google handles it very well. I recently discovered that it's not billed in full $10 increments (Figure 1). If you use 10.01GB of data, you pay $10.01, not $20.
        Go to Full Article          



Linux Magazine » Channels



  • 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



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