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  • SuSE: 2017:1707-1: important: the Linux kernel
    LinuxSecurity.com: An update that contains security fixes can now be installed. An update that contains security fixes can now be installed. An update that contains security fixes can now be installed.



  • Debian: DSA-3886-2: linux regression update
    LinuxSecurity.com: The security update announced as DSA-3886-1 caused regressions for some applications using Java - including jsvc, LibreOffice and Scilab - due to the fix for CVE-2017-1000364. Updated packages are now available to correct this issue. For reference, the relevant part of the original


  • SuSE: 2017:1706-1: important: the Linux Kernel
    LinuxSecurity.com: An update that contains security fixes can now be installed. An update that contains security fixes can now be installed. An update that contains security fixes can now be installed.



  • SuSE: 2017:1704-1: important: the Linux kernel
    LinuxSecurity.com: An update that contains security fixes can now be installed. An update that contains security fixes can now be installed. An update that contains security fixes can now be installed.





  • Debian: DSA-3899-1: vlc security update
    LinuxSecurity.com: Several vulnerabilities have been found in VLC, the VideoLAN project's media player. Processing malformed subtitles or movie files could lead to denial of service and potentially the execution of arbitrary code.





  • [$] Distributing filesystem images and updates with casync
    Recently, Lennart Poettering announceda new tool called casync for efficiently distributing filesystem and diskimages. Deployment of virtual machines or containers often requires suchan image to be distributed for them. These images typically contain mostor all of an entire operating system and its requisite data files; they canbe quite large. The images also often need updates, which can take upconsiderable bandwidth depending on how efficient the update mechanismis. Poettering developed casync as an efficient tool for distributing suchfilesystem images, as well as for their updates.


  • [$] An introduction to asynchronous Python
    In his PyCon 2017 talk, MiguelGrinberg wanted to introduce asynchronous programming with Python tocomplete beginners. There is a lot of talk about asynchronous Python,especially with the advent of theasyncio module, but there are multiple ways to createasynchronous Python programs, many of which have been available for quitesome time. In the talk, Grinberg took something of a step back from theintricacies of those solutions to look at what asynchronous processingmeans at a higher level.


  • The mkosi OS generation tool
    Last week Lennart Poettering introducedcasync, a tool for distributing system images. This week he introducesmkosi, a tool for making OS images. "mkosi is definitely a tool with a focus on developer's needs for building OS images, for testing and debugging, but also for generating production images with cryptographic protection. A typical use-case would be to add a mkosi.default file to an existing project (for example, one written in C or Python), and thus making it easy to generate an OS image for it. mkosi will put together the image with development headers and tools, compile your code in it, run your test suite, then throw away the image again, and build a new one, this time without development headers and tools, and install your build artifacts in it. This final image is then "production-ready", and only contains your built program and the minimal set of packages you configured otherwise. Such an image could then be deployed with casync (or any other tool of course) to be delivered to your set of servers, or IoT devices or whatever you are building."


  • [$] Ripples from Stack Clash
    In one sense, the Stack Clash vulnerabilitythat was announced on June 19 has not had a huge impact: thus far, atleast, there have been few (if any) stories of active exploits in thewild. At other levels, though, this would appear to be an importantvulnerability, in that it has raised a number of questions about how thecommunity handles security issues and what can be expected in the future.The indications, unfortunately, are not all positive.


  • Security updates for Wednesday
    Security updates have been issued by Debian (kernel and openvpn), Mageia (docker, libetpan, weechat, and yodl), Oracle (mercurial), Scientific Linux (freeradius), SUSE (kernel), and Ubuntu (systemd).


  • [$] CentOS and ARM
    The CentOS distribution has long beena boon to those who want an enterprise-level operating system without anenterprise-level support contract—and the costs that go with it. Inkeeping with its server orientation, CentOS has been largely focused onx86 systems, but that has been changing over the last fewyears. Jim Perrin has been with the project since 2004 and his talk at OpenSource Summit Japan (OSSJ) described the process of making CentOSavailable for the ARM server market; he also discussed the status of thatproject and some plans for the future.


  • GitHub announces Open Source Friday
    GitHub has announceda new program that aims to make it easier for people to contribute to opensource projects. "Open Source Friday isn't limited toindividuals. Your team, department, or company can take part,too. Contributing to the software you already use isn't altruistic—it's aninvestment in the tools your company relies on. And you can always startsmall: spend two hours every Friday working on an open source projectrelevant to your business. Whether you're an aspiring contributor or activemaintainer of open source software, we help you track and share your Fridaycontributions. We also provide a framework for regular contribution, alongwith resources to help you convince your employers to join in."


  • Security updates for Tuesday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (expat and poppler), Debian (unrar-nonfree and vlc), Fedora (chromium and mercurial), Gentoo (freeradius, kauth, and libreoffice), Mageia (glibc, irssi, kernel, kernel-linus, kernel-tmb, and rpcbind/libtirpc), openSUSE (libgcrypt, netpbm, and sudo), Oracle (sudo), Scientific Linux (mercurial), Slackware (kernel), SUSE (jakarta-taglibs-standard, kernel, and kernel-source), and Ubuntu (apache2).


  • [$] daxctl() — getting the other half of persistent-memory performance
    Persistent memory promises high-speed, byte-addressable access to storage,with consequent benefits for all kinds of applications. But realizing thosebenefits has turned out to present a number of challenges for the Linuxkernel community. Persistent memory is neither ordinary memory norordinary storage, so traditional approaches to memory and storage are not always well suitedto this new world. A proposal for a new daxctl() system call,along with the ensuing discussion, shows how hard it can be to get the mostout of persistent memory.


  • Intel Skylake/Kaby Lake processors: broken hyper-threading
    Henrique de Moraes Holschuh has posted an advisory about a processor/microcodedefect recently identified on Intel Skylake and Intel Kaby Lake processorswith hyper-threading enabled. "TL;DR: unfixed Skylake and Kaby Lakeprocessors could, in some situations, dangerously misbehave whenhyper-threading is enabled. Disable hyper-threading immediately inBIOS/UEFI to work around the problem. Read this advisory for instructionsabout an Intel-provided fix."


  • Stable kernel updates
    Greg Kroah-Hartman has released stable kernels 4.4.74 and 3.18.58. Both contain the usual set ofimportant fixes and users should upgrade.


  • Security updates for Monday
    Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (kernel, linux-zen, and tcpreplay), Debian (drupal7, exim4, expat, imagemagick, and smb4k), Fedora (chromium, firefox, glibc, kernel, openvpn, and wireshark), Mageia (mercurial and roundcubemail), openSUSE (kernel, libmicrohttpd, libqt5-qtbase, libqt5-qtdeclarative, openvpn, and python-tablib), Scientific Linux (sudo), and SUSE (firefox).


  • Kernel prepatch 4.12-rc7
    The 4.12-rc7 kernel prepatch is out."It's fairly small, and there were no huge surprises, so if nothinguntoward happens this upcoming week, this will be the final rc. But asusual, I reserve the right to just drag things out if I end up feelinguncomfortable about things for any reason including just random gutfeelings, so we'll see."


  • Stable kernels 4.11.7 and 4.9.34
    The4.11.7 and4.9.34 stable kernel updates have beenreleased. Among other things, they contain the fixes for the recentlydisclosed "Stack Clash" vulnerability.The 4.4.74, and3.18.58 updates are still in the reviewprocess but should be out in the near future.



  • 6 Linux clipboard managers to boost your productivity
    During a recent episode of Bad Voltage, each presenter had to name a small Linux utility we were surprised more people didn't regularly use. Fellow Opensource.com Community Moderator Ben Cotton suggested this topic would be of interest to the Opensource.com community, and I think he's correct. Thanks for the suggestion, Ben.read more


  • Samba 4 Additional Domain Controller for failover Replication on CentOS 7
    In this tutorial, I will show you how to configure an additional domain controller which is one of the key features of SAMBA 4. This setup provides a degree of load balancing and failover for AD services (Ldap schemas and dns ) and configuring it is really easy. We can also use this feature to scale up the environment.


  • Understanding the Linux Kernel
    The Linux Kernel is often misunderstood or not even known about. To help everyone out we can go over some basics of the Kernel and help you to understand things better.There are many aspects of the Kernel which will help you to understand the concept of the Kernel.


  • Testing modules and containers with Modularity Testing Framework
    Fedora Modularity is a project within Fedora with the goal of Building a modular operating system with multiple versions of components on different lifecycles. Fedora 26 features the first look of the modularity vision: the Fedora 26 Boltron Server. However,... Continue Reading →


  • Master Bash Programming with Free Books
    Bash (acronym for the ‘Bourne-Again-SHell’) is the GNU Project’s shell and programming language. It’s an sh-compatible shell that incorporates useful features from the Korn shell (ksh) and C shell (csh). Bash has become a de facto standard for shell scripting. It runs on almost all versions of Unix and a few other operating systems including Windows platforms.


  • 4 easy ways to work toward a zero trust security model
    There has been a lot of talk about zero trust networks lately, but little consensus about what they actually are. Similar to DevOps or software defined networking, that zero trust means something a little different to everyone is becoming clear. That said, there is one thing we can all agree on: The network cannot be trusted.read more


  • An introduction to functional programming in JavaScript
    When Brendan Eich created JavaScript in 1995, he intended to do Scheme in the browser. Scheme, being a dialect of Lisp, is a functional programming language. Things changed when Eich was told that the new language should be the scripting language companion to Java. Eich eventually settled on a language that has a C-style syntax (as does Java), yet has first-class functions. Java technically did not have first-class functions until version 8, however you could simulate first-class functions using anonymous classes.read more


  • How to Install The Latest Mesa Version On Debian 9 Stretch Linux
    Mesa is a big deal if you're running open source graphics drivers. It can be the difference between a smooth experience and an awful one. Mesa is under active development, and it sees constant noticeable performance improvements. That means it's really worthwhile to stay on top of the latest releases.


  • How to Set Up an Email Server in Ubuntu
    There are plenty of reasons to run your own email server. In the past it’s been a real pain, but now using Ubuntu, Docker, and Mailcow, it’s much easier.



  • Type 7 module runs Yocto Linux on 16-core Atom C3000 SoC
    DFI’s rugged, Linux-ready “DV970” COM Express Basic Type 7 module debuts the server-class, 16-core Atom C3000, and supports 4x 10GbE-KR and 16x PCIe 3.0. DFI promotes the DV970 as the first COM Express Basic Type 7 module based on the Intel Atom C3000 “Denverton” SoC, but it’s the first product of any kind that we’ve seen that uses the SoC.



  • Rugged marine computer runs Linux on Skylake-U
    Avalue’s “EMS-SKLU-Marine” is an IEC EN60945 certified computer with 6th Gen Core CPUs, -20 to 60C support, plus 2x GbE, 4x USB 3.0, M2, and mini-PCIe. The EMS-SKLU-Marine is designed for maritime applications such as control room or engine room, integrated bridge systems, propulsion control or safety systems, and boat entertainment systems. Avalue touts the […]


  • Extreme Tux Racer 0.7.4
    One of the major games for Linux is ‘Extreme Tux Racer’, available for Android, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems and Ubuntu Touch. The goal of the game is to control Tux, or another chosen character, to get to the bottom of the hill. The character will slide down the hill of snow and ice on his belly. Along the way you can pick up herring.


  • Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 – new kid on the block
    Ubuntu Budgie is the newest addition to the officially supported Ubuntu flavours. It is quite interesting how these two parts can play together. The first time they married was the Ubuntu Budgie 16.04 remix. And since 17.04 Ubuntu Budgie is officially supported by Canonical.



  • Install Nginx with ngx_pagespeed on CentOS 7
    Ngx-pagespeed is a free and open source Nginx module that can be used to speeds up your site and reduces page load time. It works by automatically applying web performance best practices to pages and associated assets without requiring you to modify your existing content or workflow. You can easily optimize various files such as CSS, HTML, png, and jpg using Ngx-pagespeed module.


  • openSUSE Leap Is Now 99.9% Enterprise Distribution
    Two years ago when openSUSE decided to move the base of openSUSE Leap to SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE), they were entering uncharted territory. SLE is a tightly controlled enterprise ship that runs on mission critical systems. On the other hand openSUSE has been a community-driven project that, despite sponsorship from SUSE, is relatively independent.



  • GitHub launches Open Source Friday 
    Open source software is developed by hobbyists and professionals alike. In fact, 65% of respondents to this year'sGitHub open source surveywho make contributions to open source projects do so as part of their job. However, the survey indicates that employers often lack a clear policy on employee contributions. A new project from GitHub aims to increase contributions to open source projects and to educate employers on why it's important.read more


Linux Insider

  • Xinix Offers Linux Lovers a Path to Zen
    Xinix is an innovative newcomer to the world of Linux distros. Now in beta, this distro has been spearheaded by a single developer who slowly is bringing other programmers on board to move things along. Despite its early development status, Xinix has potential for Linux fans who like to experiment with new platform concepts and do not mind trying out an OS that is not yet fully functional.


  • Sudo or Sudo Not, There Is No (4th) Try
    If you're a Linux user, at some point in some tutorial or troubleshooting guide you've more than likely encountered Linux's magic word: "sudo". A casual observer probably can tell you that it's used to access restricted functions on your computer, but there is much more to it than that. My hope is that by taking a moment to learn about the power of "sudo", you will be better equipped to use it.


  • OTA Report: Consumer Services Sites More Trustworthy Than .Gov Sites
    The Online Trust Alliance on Tuesday released its 2017 Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll. Among its findings: Consumer services sites have the best combined security and privacy practices. FDIC 100 banks and U.S. government sites are the least trustworthy, according to the audit. The number of websites that qualified for the honor roll is at a nine-year high.


  • Microsoft Expands Linux Container Support in Windows Server
    Microsoft has decided to expand its support for Linux containers in the next release of Windows Server. Linux containers and workloads will work natively on Windows Server, said Erin Chapple, general manager for the server operating system. The company also will extend Window Server's Hyper-V isolation capability, which was introduced in the 2016 release of the operating system.


  • Rosa LXQt Edition's Flexibility Sets It Apart
    The Rosa Desktop Fresh R series gets better with each new edition to its distro lineup. The already-established Rosa Desktop Fresh R was a hit with its series of standard desktop editions released with KDE4 and Plasma 5, as well as the GNOME 3 and MATE desktops. This latest LXQt edition adds the ability to run this powerhouse computing platform on legacy boxes with as little as 512 MB of RAM.


  • Securing Your Linux System Bit by Bit
    As daunting as securing your Linux system might seem, one thing to remember is that every extra step makes a difference. It's almost always better to make a modest stride than let uncertainty keep you from starting. Fortunately, there are a few basic techniques that greatly benefit users at all levels, and knowing how to securely wipe your hard drive in Linux is one of them.


  • Open Source Survey Exposes Community Troubles
    GitHub has released the results of its survey on open source software development, practices and worldwide communities. Responses from more than 6,000 participants reveal some of the problems missing or poorly done documentation can have on users and project adoption. The survey also reveals an ongoing concern about nasty interactions among community members and negative attitudes toward women.


  • BitKey Unlocks Mysteries of the Bitcoin Universe
    BitKey is a Debian-based live distribution with specialist utilities for performing highly secure air-gapped bitcoin transactions. This distro is not for everyday computing needs, but if you are obsessed with the use of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, it might be just what you need. I am a high-tech sort of guy with a keen interest in diving through Linux distros both simple and complex.


  • Hacking and Linux Go Together Like 2 Keys in a Key Pair
    Ever since taking an interest Linux, with the specific aim of better understanding and enhancing my personal digital security, I have been fascinated by hacker conferences. As soon as I learned of their existence, I made a point of keeping tabs on the major conferences so I could browse through the latest videos in their archive once each one wraps up. I thought that was the closest I would get.


  • MariaDB Offers a Bigger Box of Transactional Tools
    MariaDB last week announced the availability of MariaDB TX 2.0, a fully functional open source transactional database solution for modern application development and enterprise use cases. MariaDB TX offers a comprehensive package of technology and services, including feature-rich new releases of MariaDB Server and MariaDB MaxScale, which close the functional gap between open source and proprietary offerings.


  • New GitHub Marketplace Showcases Integrators, Speeds Development
    GitHub has launched GitHub Marketplace, featuring apps from more than a dozen integrators. The platform allows developers to review and purchase new tools that do everything from helping to manage projects, to automating code building, testing code quality, or monitoring the impact of code changes. It allows devs to start using tools without setting up multiple accounts or payment methods.


  • Red Hat Linux Upgrade Pushes New Security, Automation Tools
    Red Hat on Tuesday announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 beta. RHEL 7.4 includes new security and compliance features and streamlined automation, along with tools for improved systems administration. This latest upgrade comes nearly three years into the series 7 lifecycle. It continues to provide enterprises with a rich and stable foundation.


  • Android at the Wheel: Google Aims for One Vehicle Ecosystem
    Google showcased the next phase of its automotive strategy at its I/O conference earlier this week, and announced partnerships with Volvo and Audi, which unveiled concept vehicles running its new automotive system. Embedded Android for Automotive is an entirely new OS rather than an update to Android Auto. It will allow drivers to utilize Google services without an Android mobile device.


  • Feren OS: A Linux Desktop Game-Changer
    Feren OS is a polished and well-stocked Linux distro that comes close to being an ideal replacement for Microsoft Windows and macOS. In fact, this impressive Linux OS is a very attractive replacement for any Linux distro. The only impediment to this assessment is dislike of the Cinnamon desktop. Feren OS does not give you any other desktop options, but it comes with many configuration choices.


  • Intertwining Artificial Intelligence With Blockchain
    Except for those folks living under rocks, everyone knows about or at least has heard of bitcoin. However, not everyone understands the technology of bitcoin, which extends well beyond Internet-based currency. For the rock people, bitcoin is an Internet-based currency that allows for transparency with respect to each transfer of the currency through the use of a distributed database.


  • Crate.io Packs New Features, Services Into DB Upgrade
    Crate.io on Tuesday announced an upgrade to its open source CrateDB, and introduced a commercial version. The database now is available as a managed service as well. CrateDB 2.0 features clustering enhancements and SQL improvements. The enterprise edition adds authentication and authorization features for enhanced security, which are not provided in the open source version.


  • Google's New Mobile OS Will Have a Distinctly Non-Linux Hue
    Google has been developing a new open source OS called "Fuchsia" for smartphones, tablets and other devices, which could be unveiled as early as this summer. Little has been revealed about the new OS since it first came to light last year. However, new details that surfaced last week have been making the rounds. Fuchsia apparently will move Google away from its long association with Linux.


  • The IoT's Scramble to Combat Botnets
    With shadowy botnet armies lurking around the globe and vigilante gray-hat actors inoculating susceptible devices, the appetite for Internet of Things security is stronger than ever. "If you throw IoT on a con talk, you've got a pretty good chance to get in," remarked information security professional Jason Kent, as he began his presentation at Chicago's Thotcon conference last week.


  • What Internet-Connected War Might Look Like
    A technician hurriedly slings his backpack over his shoulders, straps on his M9 pistol, and bolts out of the transport with his squad of commandos in a hail of gunfire. As soon as his team reaches the compound, he whips out a laptop and starts deploying a rootkit to the target server, bullets whizzing overhead all the while. Army Cyber Institute's recruits are training to do just that.


  • Raspberry Pi Fans Can Build Their Own AI Voice Assistant
    Google and AIY Projects have launched an open source DIY artificial intelligence Voice Kit for Raspberry Pi hobbyists. The AIY Voice Kit includes hardware for audio capture and playback, connectors for the dual mike daughterboard and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components such as micro servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for a dedicated power supply.


  • A Taste of Linux From a Sample Disk Platter
    Since Linus Torvalds developed the Linux kernel, there has been an explosion of distributions that can be categorized into several broad classes. There are hundreds of distributions out there, but each category has some that have become emblematic. Ubuntu is one of the most iconic distributions of Linux, period. It earned this distinction by crafting a beautiful, user-friendly desktop OS.



  • Research Finds 1 In 3 American Cats and Dogs Are Overweight
    After surveying 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats in the U.S. last year, a group of researchers found that about one in three were overweight or obese. "Looking over data from the last decade, the researchers say the new figures reveal a 169-percent increase in hefty felines and a 158-percent increase in chunky canines," reports Ars Technica. From the report: All the data is from researchers at Banfield, which runs a chain of veterinary hospitals across 42 states. The researchers surveyed animals that checked into one of Banfield's 975 locations, putting them through a five-point physical and visual exam. Animals were considered overweight if their ribs were not clearly visible or easily felt and if their waists were also hard to see. Pets were dubbed obese if their ribs couldn't be felt at all and they had no visible waist. As in humans, being overweight makes pets more prone to chronic health conditions. Also similar to humans, doctors blame pets' weight problems on overfeeding and lack of exercise. Other contributing factors include genetics and health issues such as arthritis, which can make play painful. Last, some pet owners may not be able to spot weight issues in their pets -- particularly because so many more dogs and cats are now overweight, making chubby pets the new norm. Dog breeds with the highest prevalence of obesity are Labrador Retrievers, Cairn Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels, the researchers report. For cats, the fattest breeds are Manx and Maine Coons.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Mayors of 7,400 Cities Vow To Meet Obama's Climate Commitments
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Mayors of more than 7,400 cities across the world have vowed that Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris accord will spur greater local efforts to combat climate change. At the first meeting of a "global covenant of mayors," city leaders from across the US, Europe and elsewhere pledged to work together to keep to the commitments made by Barack Obama two years ago. Cities will devise a standard measurement of emission reductions to help them monitor their progress. They will also share ideas for delivering carbon-free transport and housing. Kassim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, told reporters he had travelled to Europe to "send a signal" that US states and cities would execute the policies Obama committed to, whether the current White House occupants agreed or not. Reed, whose administration has promised that the city of Atlanta will use 100% renewable energy by 2035, said 75% of the US population and GDP lay in urban areas, where local leaders were committed to fighting climate change. "We have the ability to still achieve between 35% and 45% CO2 emission reductions without the involvement of the national government and it is why I chose to be here at this time to send a signal to 7,400 cities around the world that now should be a time of optimism, passion and action," he said.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • London Metropolitan Police's 18,000 Windows XP PCs Is a Disaster Waiting To Happen
    According to MSPoweruser, the London Metropolitan Police are still using around 18,000 PCs powered by Windows XP, an operating system Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014. What's more is that the police force is upgrading its PCs from Windows XP to Windows 8.1, instead of Windows 10. Only 8 PCs at the police force are reportedly powered by the "most secure version of Windows right now." From the report: From the looks of things, the London Metropolitan Police will continue to upgrade their systems to Windows 8.1 at the moment. Windows 8.1 is still being supported by Microsoft, although the mainstream support for the OS is set to end on the 9 January 2018. Microsoft will offer extended support for the OS until 2023, which means Windows 8.1 is still a much more secure alternative for the Metropolitan Police than Windows XP. Windows 10 still would have been the best option in terms of security, however. Microsoft is releasing security updates for the OS every month, and the new advanced security features like Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection makes PCs running Windows a whole lot more secure. The spokesman of the 0Conservative London Assembly said in a statement: "The Met is working towards upgrading its software, but in its current state it's like a fish swimming in a pool of sharks. It is vital the Met is given the resources to step up its upgrade timeline before we see another cyber-attack with nationwide security implications."
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Researchers Create New Probiotic Beer That Boosts Immunity
    randomErr writes: A new patent has been filed for a innovative brewing technique that incorporates a live strain of good bacteria into the brewing process. Researchers at NUS (National University of Singapore) have created a probiotic sour beer that may boost immunity and improve gut health. The bacteria Lactobacillus paracasei L26 is capable of neutralizing toxins and viruses and regulating the immune system. Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, of the Food Science and Technology Program at NUS said, "While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics. As a believer of achieving a healthy diet through consuming probiotics, this is a natural choice for me when I picked a topic for my final-year project."
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • O'Reilly No Longer Selling Individual Books, Videos Online
    dovf writes: Just got an email from O'Reilly Media that as of today, they are no longer selling individual books or videos online -- rather, they are encouraging people to sign up for Safari. They are continuing to publish books and videos, "and you'll still be able to buy them at Amazon and other retailers." They also make it clear that we will not lose access to already-purchased content, updates to such content, etc. More details can be found in the FAQ. No mention, though, of whether the content sold at these other retailers will remain DRM-free... From the FAQ: "You can buy all of the books (ebooks and print) at shop.oreilly.com from Amazon and other digital and bricks-and-mortar retailers. We're no longer selling individual books and videos via shop.oreilly.com -- but we are definitely continuing to publish books and videos on the topics you need to know. And of course, every O'Reilly book and video (including O'Reilly conference sessions) is available instantly on Safari." The only mention of "DRM" in the FAQ is in regard to what happens to the digital content you have in your account at members.oreilly.com. According to O'Reilly, "Your DRM-free ebooks and videos are safe and sound, and you'll continue to have free lifetime access to download them anytime, anywhere."
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • US Imposes Stricter Security Screenings At Foreign Airports, But Won't Expand Laptop Ban Yet
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The United States will require foreign airports to implement stricter security practices and screenings for any passengers headed to the U.S. John Kelly, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, announced today that the new measures were being put in place. Though he didn't go into specifics, Kelly said the new requirements would include further screenings of electronics, more thorough vetting of passengers, and measures meant to stop "insider attacks." The U.S. is also encouraging the use of more bomb-detecting dogs, "advanced checkpoint screening technology," and the addition of "preclearance" locations, which station U.S. customs officers overseas, allowing them to screen passengers before boarding instead of after they land. One thing Kelly didn't announce was an expansion of the tablet and laptop ban, which is currently in effect on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. If airports don't comply with the new screening rules, Kelly said, they may be subject to additional electronics bans. But for the time being, it sounds like the ban will be kept to those 10 locations. According to Reuters, airlines have 21 days to comply with the new rules for explosives screenings and four months to comply with everything else.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Equal Rights Center Sues Uber For Denying Equal Access To People Who Use Wheelchairs
    The Equal Rights Center is suing Uber, alleging that the company has chosen not to include wheelchair-accessible cars as an option in its standard UberX fleet of vehicles, and excludes people who use wheelchairs in Washington, D.C. According to the lawsuit, Uber is in violation of Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the D.C. Human Rights Act. TechCrunch reports: After conducting its own investigation of Uber's services for people in wheelchairs, the ERC found that passengers had to wait an average of eight times longer for an accessible car to arrive. They also had to pay twice as much in fares, according to the ERC's study. Ultimately, the ERC wants Uber to integrate wheelchair accessible cars into its UberX fleet so that people who use wheelchairs don't have to wait longer and pay more to use the car service. Uber said in a statement provided to TechCrunch: "We take this issue seriously and are committed to continued work with the District, our partners, and stakeholders toward expanding transportation options and freedom of movement for all residents throughout the region."
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Samsung Plans To Open $380 Million Home Appliance Plant In US, Creating Almost 1,000 Jobs
    Samsung Electronics has agreed to open a $380 million home appliance manufacturing plant in Newberry County, South Carolina. The new plant is expected to generate 954 local jobs by 2020. CNBC reports: The South Korean firm said this year it was in talks to build a home appliances plant in the United States amid worries about protectionist policies under U.S. President Donald Trump put pressure on global companies to generate jobs in the country. "With this investment, Samsung is reaffirming its commitment to expanding its U.S. operations and deepening our connection to the American consumers, engineers and innovators," Samsung Electronics America President and CEO Tim Baxter said.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Facebook's Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men From Hate Speech But Not Black Children
    Sidney Fussell from Gizmodo summarizes a report from ProPublica, which brings to light dozens of training documents used by Facebook to train moderators on hate speech: As the trove of slides and quizzes reveals, Facebook uses a warped, one-sided reasoning to balance policing hate speech against users' freedom of expression on the platform. This is perhaps best summarized by the above image from one of its training slideshows, wherein Facebook instructs moderators to protect "White Men," but not "Female Drivers" or "Black Children." Facebook only blocks inflammatory remarks if they're used against members of a "protected class." But Facebook itself decides who makes up a protected class, with lots of clear opportunities for moderation to be applied arbitrarily at best and against minoritized people critiquing those in power (particularly white men) at worst --  as Facebook has been routinely accused of. According to the leaked documents, here are the group identifiers Facebook protects: Sex, Religious affiliation, National origin, Gender identity, Race, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Serious disability or disease. And here are those Facebook won't protect: Social class, continental origin, appearance, age, occupation, political ideology, religions, countries. Subsets of groups -- female drivers, Jewish professors, gay liberals -- aren't protected either, as ProPublica explains: White men are considered a group because both traits are protected, while female drivers and black children, like radicalized Muslims, are subsets, because one of their characteristics is not protected.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • The Petya Ransomware Is Starting To Look Like a Cyberattack in Disguise
    Further research and investigation into Petya ransomware -- which has affected computers in over 60 countries -- suggest three interesting things: 1. Ukraine was the epicentre of the attack. According to Kaspersky, 60 percent of all machines infected were located within Ukraine. 2. The attackers behind the attack have made little money -- around $10,000. Which leads to speculation that perhaps money wasn't a motive at all. 3. Petya was either "incredibly buggy, or irreversibly destructive on purpose." An anonymous reader shares a report: Because the virus has proven unusually destructive in Ukraine, a number of researchers have come to suspect more sinister motives at work. Peeling apart the program's decryption failure in a post today, Comae's Matthieu Suiche concluded a nation state attack was the only plausible explanation. "Pretending to be a ransomware while being in fact a nation state attack," Suiche wrote, "is in our opinion a very subtle way from the attacker to control the narrative of the attack." Another prominent infosec figure put it more bluntly: "There's no fucking way this was criminals." There's already mounting evidence that Petya's focus on Ukraine was deliberate. The Petya virus is very good at moving within networks, but initial attacks were limited to just a few specific infections, all of which seem to have been targeted at Ukraine. The highest-profile one was a Ukrainian accounting program called MeDoc, which sent out a suspicious software update Tuesday morning that many researchers blame for the initial Petya infections. Attackers also planted malware on the homepage of a prominent Ukraine-based news outlet, according to one researcher at Kaspersky.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage May Be Hurting Workers, Report Finds
    As companies look for ways to cut costs, Seattle's $15 minimum wage law may be hurting hourly workers instead of helping them, according to a new report. From a USA Today article: A report (PDF) from the University of Washington (UW), found that when wages increased to $13 in 2016, some companies may have responded by cutting low-wage workers' hours. The study, which was funded in part by the city of Seattle, found that workers clocked 9 percent fewer hours on average, and earned $125 less each month after the most recent increase. "If you're a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money," Mark Long, a UW public-policy professor and an author of the report told the Seattle Times. "It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent."
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • More Than 40 ISPs Across the Country Tell Chairman Pai to Not Repeal Network Neutrality
    An anonymous reader shares a report: One excuse FCC Chairman Ajit Pai regularly offers to explain his effort to gut net neutrality protections is the claim that open Internet rules have harmed ISPs, especially small ones. During a speech earlier this year, he stressed that 22 small ISPs told him that the 2015 Open Internet Order hurt their ability to invest and deploy. In reality, though, many more ISPs feel very differently. Today, more than 40 ISPs told the FCC that they have had no problem with the Open Internet Order (PDF) and that it hasn't hurt their ability to develop and expand their networks. What is more, that they want the FCC to do its job and address the problem Congress created when it repealed the broadband privacy rules in March.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • Google Must Delete Search Results Worldwide, Supreme Court of Canada Rules
    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google on Wednesday in a closely-watched intellectual property case over whether judges can apply their own country's laws to all of the internet. From a report: In a 7-2 decision, the court agreed a British Columbia judge had the power to issue an injunction forcing Google to scrub search results about pirated products not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world too. Those siding with Google, including civil liberties groups, had warned that allowing the injunction would harm free speech, setting a precedent to let any judge anywhere order a global ban on what appears on search engines. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical." "This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods," wrote Judge Rosalie Abella.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • A New Kind of Tech Job Emphasizes Skills, Not a College Degree
    Steve Lohr, writing for the New York Times: A few years ago, Sean Bridges lived with his mother, Linda, in Wiley Ford, W.Va. Their only income was her monthly Social Security disability check. He applied for work at Walmart and Burger King, but they were not hiring. Yet while Mr. Bridges had no work history, he had certain skills. He had built and sold some stripped-down personal computers, and he had studied information technology at a community college. When Mr. Bridges heard IBM was hiring at a nearby operations center in 2013, he applied and demonstrated those skills. Now Mr. Bridges, 25, is a computer security analyst, making $45,000 a year. In a struggling Appalachian economy, that is enough to provide him with his own apartment, a car, spending money -- and career ambitions. "I got one big break," he said. "That's what I needed." Mr. Bridges represents a new but promising category in the American labor market: people working in so-called new-collar or middle-skill jobs. As the United States struggles with how to match good jobs to the two-thirds of adults who do not have a four-year college degree, his experience shows how a worker's skills can be emphasized over traditional hiring filters like college degrees, work history and personal references. [...] On Wednesday, the approach received a strong corporate endorsement from Microsoft, which announced a grant of more than $25 million to help Skillful, a program to foster skills-oriented hiring, training and education. The initiative, led by the Markle Foundation, began last year in Colorado, and Microsoft's grant will be used to expand it there and move it into other states. "We need new approaches, or we're going to leave more and more people behind in our economy," said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.


  • FBI Interviews Employees of Russia-Linked Cyber Security Firm Kaspersky Lab
    FBI agents on Tuesday paid visits to at least a dozen employees of Kaspersky Lab, a Russia-based cyber-security company, asking questions about that company's operations as part of a counter-intelligence inquiry, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. From a report: In a classic FBI investigative tactic, agents visited the homes of the employees at the end of the work day at multiple locations on both the east and west coasts, the sources said. There is no indication at this time that the inquiry is part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion. Kaspersky has long been of interest to the U.S. government. Its cyber-security software is widely used in the United States, and its billionaire owner, Eugene Kaspersky, has close ties to some Russian intelligence figures, according to U.S. officials.
             

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.




  • Robots will enable a sustainable grey economy
    Oldies will retain mobility and independence when Teslas can self-drive them to work or be sent out to do the shopping
    My uncle Amadeo turns 79 this week and bought himself a luxe Model S Tesla as a present.…


  • NATO: 'Cyber' is a military domain
    Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has told a press conference ahead of a ministerial meeting tomorrow Brussels time that “cyber” is a “military domain” – and that a cyber-attack on one member can trigger NATO's Article 5.…







  • Don't panic, but Linux's Systemd can be pwned via an evil DNS query
    PS, Alpine users, you need to get patching, too – for other reasons
    Systemd, the Linux world's favorite init monolith, can be potentially crashed or hijacked by malicious DNS servers. Patches are available to address the security flaw, and should be installed ASAP if you're affected.…






  • Kaspersky Lab US staff grilled by Feds in nighttime swoop
    Also, update your Kaspersky Anti-Virus File Server – before you get hacked
    Several employees of Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab got an unpleasant surprise on Tuesday night when FBI agents popped round to their residences for a chat.…






  • Rackspace shoves Splunk in its data trunk
    Managed cloud biz’s next move? Machine learning, obviously
    Managed cloud provider Rackspace has announced it is using Splunk to power its decision analytics engine - and plans to use the software provider’s machine learning tool next.…



  • What is the enterprise cloud?
    Integrated IT infrastructure is a good place to start
    Sysadmin blog The private clouds are coming. A few of them are already in place, lurking in the shadows, but in 2017 the Infrastructure Endgame Machines (IEMs) land and everyone starts being able to buy cloud-in-a-can. With private clouds moving along the hype cycle towards Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) solutions, the race to rebrand the concept for marketing purposes begins. Behold: the enterprise cloud!…



  • 123-reg resolves secure database access snafu
    Catches up with https everywhere memo
    UK-based hosting and domains provider firm 123-reg has fixed an issue that meant access to some customers' databases ran over an unsecured link, creating a privacy risk in the process.…


  • A minister for GDS? Don't talk digital pony
    Junior appointment more telling than non-expert status
    Comment The appointment of UK digital minister Caroline Nokes yesterday was met with some sniggering when it was revealed she was formerly the chief executive of the National Pony Society.…




  • AWS Summit London queues caused by security, not snafu
    Ultimate Britishness experience – wet, grey skies and a huge wait just to be disappointed
    The AWS Summit in London has opened – and queues of several hundred people are already building around the venue as rumours of an IT failure on the ticket desks swirl.…



  • Met Police laggards still have 18,000 Windows XP machines in use
    Never fear – they're moving to, er, Windows 8.1 instead
    Thousands of Metropolitan Police computers are still running Windows XP more than a year after the force promised to upgrade them, mayor Sadiq Khan has admitted in response to a Greater London Assembly question.…


  • Looking for an Ubuntu Unity close cousin? Elementary, my dear...
    Matching DNA and personality types
    Ubuntu's Unity interface is gone, which means there's one less desktop to choose from in Linux-land. And while dozens remain to choose from, Unity was one of the most polished out there. Many will miss its detail and design.…






  • 'Bio-hacker' embeds public transport ticket under his skin
    But the transport authority says that invalidates the card
    Killjoys at the public transport authority in the Australian State of New South Wales are warning users of stored-value-for-public-transport "Opal Card" that turning them into implants invalidates the card.…



  • Amadeus airline booking system TITSUP and it's not ransomware
    Australian airline QANTAS is partly offline, other carriers may be in trouble too
    The Amadeus airline booking platform is suffering another outage, so far mostly seen in a follow-on TITSUP (Total Inability To Support Usual Performance) hitting Australian airline Qantas.…





  • Mozilla dev and Curl inventor Daniel Stenberg denied travel to USA
    Settle down: This looks like a SNAFU, not Trump teasing techies
    All Daniel Stenberg wanted to do was endure about fifteen hours of air travel from Sweden so he could spend a fun week talking code at Mozilla's all-hands meeting in San Francisco. But the Moz developer and maker of the Curl data transfer tool was denied boarding in Stockholm, en route to London and then The City By The Bay.…











Linux.com offline for now


  • ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC USB-C Portable Monitor
    What if you could have a monitor that weighed less than two pounds, only required a single cable for both power and display, offered 1080p on a 15-inch IPS screen, and was designed for portability? It would be possible to easily have a secondary display with you anywhere whether it be outdoors, on the beach, in the conference room, or practically anywhere. ASUS has managed such a device with the MB16AC ZenScreen.






  • Unreal Tournament Updated With New Linux Client
    Epic Games has released an updated version of its new, free-to-play Unreal Tournament game powered by Unreal Engine 4. With this latest update does come a new, easy-to-obtain Linux client!..


  • NVIDIA 381.10.10 Vulkan Linux Driver Benchmarks
    With NVIDIA just releasing a new beta Vulkan driver that in addition to having new Vulkan extensions and better Vulkan/OpenGL interoperability also has "various performance improvements", I couldn't resist running some benchmarks...








  • Intel Core i9 7900X Linux Benchmarks
    Since the Intel Core-X Series were announced last month at Computex, I've been excited to see how well this high-end processor will perform under Linux... Linux enthusiasts have plenty of highly-threaded workloads such as compiling the Linux kernel, among other packages, and thus have been very excited by the potential of the Core i9 7900X with its ten cores plus Hyper Threading and sporting a 13.75MB cache. With finally having an X299 motherboard ready, here are my initial Ubuntu Linux benchmarks for the i9-7900X.




  • Intel Core i7 7740X Benchmarks On Linux
    Now with the motherboards having arrived, we can move on to our Intel Core-X Linux benchmarking. Here is an initial look at the Intel Core i7 7740X Kabylake-X processor.




  • Test Driving AMDGPU's Performance With DRM-Next For Linux 4.13
    With the Linux 4.13 merge window likely to open next week and the DRM-Next cutoff already having passed for new material that in turn wants to target 4.13, here are some initial benchmarks with a Polaris and Fiji graphics cards for this new AMDGPU DRM code.



  • Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Begins Shipping, Costs ~$1200 USD
    The Radeon Vega Frontier Edition has begun shipping today as the Vega-based compute card geared to go up against the Titan Xp and P100 accelerators for compute/workstation workloads. This is the first Vega GPU card to market, but will come at a hefty cost...




  • A Simple Dive Into Vulkan Compute Programming
    While Vulkan is most often talked about for being a high-performance graphics API, it also has integrated compute capabilities -- and in fact, may be the future of OpenCL -- and is quite capable for GPGPU computing. There are countless Vulkan graphics tutorials and code samples out there, but for those interested in just Vulkan for compute, a Phoronix reader pointed me to a new simple/easy project...



  • Vulkan vs. OpenGL Linux Game CPU Core Scaling
    After carrying out the P-State/CPUFreq governor comparison with a focus on OpenGL and Vulkan Linux games, next I ran some fresh numbers seeing how well modern OpenGL/Vulkan Linux games are scaling across multiple CPU cores.





  • P-State/CPUFreq Governor Tests With Linux 4.12 For OpenGL/Vulkan Games
    For those wondering about the impact on gaming of the different CPUFreq vs. P-State CPU frequency scaling drivers and their different governors, here are some fresh tests using an Intel Skylake CPU with Radeon RX Polaris graphics when using the latest Linux 4.12 kernel and Mesa 17.2-dev.




  • AES-128-CBC Support Coming To Fscrypt
    AES-128-CBC support is coming to fscrypt, the generic file-system crypto code in the Linux kernel that's currently in use by F2FS and EXT4 for offering native file-system encryption support...




Engadget

  • Amazon Prime Day will include China and India on July 11th

    Amazon's Black Friday-like event for the summer will be back for the third time. On July 11th, the e-commerce giant will hold the third annual "Prime Day," and this time, more people will be able to take advantage of all the deals on offer. To start with, the event will last for 30 hours instead of the usual 24 and will begin at 9PM Eastern on July 10th. In addition, Amazon is launching the event for the first time in China, India and Mexico, which only recently joined the list of countries where the company's Prime service is available. Folks in the US, UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium and Austria will be able to participate as always.

    Its name is a dead giveaway that you'll have to be a Prime member to take advantage of the deals that day. But if you're paying $99 per year for the service anyway, it's a pretty nice perk. As with any massive shopping event, you're bound to come across a lot of crap deals, but you'll also find good discounts on various gadgets and electronics.

    While the event itself won't begin until the evening of July 10th, Amazon will reveal exclusive promos for Prime members every day until then. You can access the first batch of promotions starting today, which include access to Amazon Music Unlimited for 99 cents, 40 percent off Kindle Unlimited membership and 40 percent off Audible for your first six months on the audiobooks service. You may also want to keep an eye out for Alexa-exclusive deals if you have an Echo or a Tap speaker, a Fire TV or a Fire table, since they typically include bigger discounts than what you'll find on the website.


    Source: Amazon


  • Recent 'NotPetya' attacks might not be ransomware at all

    The companies and agencies hit by a cyberattack in the Ukraine, Russia, the US, parts of Europe, Asia and Australia might never be able to recover their data. See, some security researchers, including Kaspersky Lab, believe that the malware that invaded those computers was only masquerading as ransomware in order to lure the media into covering it as a follow-up to the WannaCry incidents. While its developers painstakingly tried to make it look like ransomware, the researchers say it's actually what you call a "wiper," since it overwrites parts that a disk needs to run. It doesn't encrypt those parts, so you can regain access to them after you pay -- it just completely erases them.

    In addition, they found that the developers intentionally made it hard for victims to pay. First, they used a single Bitcoin address to receive payments. You'd think criminals expecting to get a lot of money from their victims would use several Bitcoin wallets to make processing a lot faster. They also required victims to email them with a long string of characters that they have to manually type if they want to access their PCs again. The kicker? The email address doesn't even work.

    That's probably for the best, because as the researchers said, there's no hope of getting their data back even if they pay. However, there seems to be some disagreement when it comes to the malware's -- dubbed PetyaWrap, NotPetya and ExPetr, because it's now obvious that it's not the same Petya ransomware that was first seen in 2016 -- true nature.

    MalwareTech disagrees with the assessment that it was intended to be a wiper, since it only destroys the first 25 sectors of the disk. Those sectors are essential, but they're also apparently empty in any standard Windows installation. It's a bit hard to believe the cyber criminals didn't know that. The security researcher agrees, though, that the hackers never intended to make money with their creation:
    I do believe the purpose behind Petya was to cause disruption not make money, but the claims of intentional MBR destruction are false.
    — MalwareTech (@MalwareTechBlog) June 28, 2017
    The questions that must plaguing everyone's minds now are "Who did it?" and "Why?" We still don't have an answer to that, but Ukrainian cybersecurity firms and government agencies think what happened was a state-sponsored cyberattack meant to wreak havoc on Ukrainian institutions. When asked whether he believes that the state sponsor is Russia, Roman Boyarchuk, the Center for Cyber Protection chief in Ukraine, replied: "It's difficult to imagine anyone else would want to do this."

    Via: Ars Technica

    Source: Kaspersky Lab, Comae, the grugq (Medium), Malwaretech


  • Meet the small 360 camera module that will fit into phones

    You're probably not aware of this, but a Chinese company dubbed ProTruly has already released the world's first two smartphones with a built-in 360 camera last December. Don't worry if you missed the news, because chances are you'd be put off by the devices' sheer bulkiness, but according to HT Optical, this may no longer be the case with the next release. At MWC Shanghai, I came across this Wuhan-based company which happened to be the 360 camera module supplier of not just ProTruly, but also of Xiaomi for its recent Mi Sphere Camera.

    As I was mocking the ridiculousness of the ProTruly Darling phones displayed at the booth, HT Optical's Vice President Shu Junfeng pulled me to a side and gave me a sneak peek at what's coming next: a much smaller 360 camera module that can fit into a 7.6mm-thick smartphone, yet it'll take 16-megapixel stills -- a massive jump from, say, the Insta360 Air dongle's 4.5-megapixel resolution, and also a tad more than the latest Samsung Gear 360's 15-megapixel offering.


    Future "VR smartphones" will look much less ridiculous than this ProTruly Darling.

    I wasn't sure whether it was excitement or skepticism that my face expressed upon hearing this claim, but it prompted Shu to show me some photos -- which he wasn't able to share for this article -- of an upcoming smartphone that will feature this new module. Indeed, the device looked more like a conventional smartphone, as opposed to the 8.9mm-thick and 181.4mm-tall ProTruly Darling pictured above (and just for reference, the iPhone 7 Plus is 7.3mm thick and 158.2mm tall).

    Also, the lenses on this mysterious phone's module apparently add just an extra 1mm to the overall thickness, which means the camera will be less of an annoyance during phone calls or when placed in our pockets. This still doesn't stop either lens from touching whatever surface you place the phone on, but Shu assured me that these lenses will feature a tough scratch-resistant coating.

    Shu then showed me what he claimed to be a 16-megapixel 360 still taken with that new camera module, and the image was surprisingly sharp for such a tiny module. Needless to say, I was able to zoom into that image much further than I would with the photos from my Insta360 Air. While there was no sample video to show me, the exec said this little module can shoot 4K videos which is also impressive. I guess we'll see more when this phone launches in China on July 30th.



    As a firm that used to deal with camera makers like Sony and Olympus, HT Optical has dabbled with other kinds of product categories following the decline of the compact digital camera market. On top of the smartphone VR camera, I was also intrigued by the company's phone cases with integrated optical zoom camera. The one highlighted above comes with 5x optical zoom, for instance, and it has its own microSD slot. It's a similar idea to the Hasselblad MotoMod for Moto Z series, except you can plug any iPhone or Android phone -- depending on the plug type -- into this one. As a bonus, thanks to their built-in battery, the cases can capture images by themselves when needed, so long as you're comfortable with the lack of a viewfinder.

    It's hard to tell whether this type of phone case will ever take off, but for the smartphone VR camera module, Shu reckoned it'll take at least a year or two before it becomes a mainstream feature. For now, he's happy to focus on working with the smaller mobile brands that tend to be more daring.


  • Canon's lightweight Rebel SL2 has a much-improved sensor

    If you prefer a DSLR's true optical finder to the EVF of a mirrorless, but don't want to lug a heavy camera, there aren't many options. Canon does have one worthy of consideration, however: the EOS Rebel SL2. It replaces the four-year-old Rebel SL1 and brings it to a much more modern standard, thanks mostly to a new 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor. At the same time, it only gains a bit of weight, going from 407 to 453 grams, which is exactly one pound.

    With the Rebel SL2, you're getting a walking-around DLSR with Canon's impressive gamut of lenses and decent, but not amazing, specs. That includes a sensor with around 30 percent percent more resolution (the same as the one on the EOS 77D and Rebel T7i), and a new liveview dual-pixel autofocus system. However, Canon says that the 9 point AF system is the same as the one on the previous model, which is pretty disappointing considering the competition and how old it is.

    That yields a continuous shooting speed of 5 fps, up from 4 fps on the last model, with a decent 3.5 fps in liveview mode thanks to the new dual-pixel system. Native ISO goes up to 25,600 compared to 12,800 before, expandable to 51,200. Canon adds that it has updated the Rebel SL2 to its new, simpler menu user interface, first introduced on the EOS Rebel T7i.

    The Rebel SL1 was the lightest DSLR you could buy, but the Rebel SL2, weighing 47 grams more at 450 grams (one pound), now cedes the crown to the 395 gram (14 ounce) Nikon D3400.

    Other specs include a 1.04 million dot, 3-inch screen that, unlike the new 6D Mark II model, is not touch sensitive. Connectivity-wise, you get Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi and NFC, making it easier to sync the camera with your smartphone. One other bonus: the battery is slightly larger than the one in the last model, giving you a bit more shooting time.

    For video, the Rebel SL2 can shoot 1080p at up to 60 fps, the same as with Canon's new full-frame 6D Mark II model. Continuous video AF should be better with the dual-pixel AF. The lack of 4K is not as disappointing for the Rebel model as it is for the 6D Mark II, but for $100 more, you can get Panasonic's Lumix G7, an interchangeable lens camera with Ultra HD video.

    The EOS Rebel SL2 costs $550/580 (body only), or $700/680 with the Canon EF-S 18-55m f/4-5.6 IS lens -- $100 cheaper than the SL1 was at launch. For a bit more in the same sensor class, you could get the less hefty Nikon D5600, and if you want to pay less, Sony's mirrorless A6000 or the aforementioned D3400. It arrives in late July 2017 in the US and UK, and is now up for pre-order at B&H Electronics.


  • Canon's full-frame 6D Mark II is a solid upgrade with a catch

    Nearly four years after it first launched its original EOS 6D budget full-frame camera, Canon has unveiled a successor. The EOS 6D Mark II improves on the past model in nearly every way, offering more connection options, resolution, much faster autofocus and higher sensitivity, while retaining the light weight and good handling we liked about the original. It falls down in a key area, however, offering just 1080p video resolution rather than the 4K you'd expect in a modern DSLR.

    The improvements in the new new model revolve mostly around the new sensor. Instead of 20.2 megapixels, it captures 26.2 million pixels, about 30 percent more resolution. Paired with a new Digic 7 processor, you can now shoot at 6.5 fps continuously and grab up to 150 JPEG or 21 RAW images before the buffer fills.

    Canon says the new 45 point cross-type system makes autofocus much faster, and there's a new dual-pixel autofocus that offers better speed in liveview mode, too. You can shoot with less light thanks to an improved maximum native ISO of 40,000, compared to 25,600 in the last model. As before, that's expandable to ISO 102,400.

    Another big change is the 1.04 million dot monitor, which now has a touchscreen and "vari-angle" adjustment. That opens up new possibilities like touch shutter and focus, making it easier to switch focus from one subject to another when shooting video. At the same time, the more twistable rear monitor makes it easier to take selfies. On top of having WiFi as before, new wireless features include Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, making it a lot easier to set up, shoot remotely, or sync with your phone.

    The body is just slightly heavier than the original at 685 grams (24.1 ounces) instead of 680 grams, but it's still the lightest full-frame DSLR out there. (Sony's mirrorless A7 II is much lighter at 600 grams, or 21 ounces, mind you.) The new weather-proof construction is more robust and Canon has made it easier to handle, thanks to a deeper, edgier grip.


    Now for the bad news. The EOS 6D Mark II only has 1080p, 60 fps video and not 4K, something that's unacceptable for a 2017 camera that costs $2,000. Canon may be hoping that users who really need it will go for a 5D Mark IV, a DSLR that costs around $3,500. But 4K is available in nearly every new mirrorless, high-end compact, and smartphone camera, so consumers will expect it in a fancy DSLR nowadays. The 6D II does offer one new video feature, however, "HDR Movie," which gives you more details in black and highlight areas at up to 1080p/29.97 fps.

    Canon told us in a pre-briefing that most photographers only publish video at 1080p and that 4K files are "heavy," so it felt the option wasn't needed. However, The 6D Mark II's specs were leaked onto the internet quite awhile ago and almost every comment on the leak posts has bashed the lack of 4K. To be fair, there aren't any other full-frame cameras in the 6D II's price range that go beyond 1080p. However, for around $2,600 or so, you can pick up a new full-frame Sony A7R II or A7S II, both of which can handle 4K.

    The EOS 6D Mark II arrives to the US and UK in late July 2017 for $1,999/1,999 (body only), $2,599/2,379 with Canon's EF 24-105 f/3.5-5.6 mid-range zoom, and $3,099 with the high-end EF 24-105mm f/4.0 zoom. It's now up for pre-order at B&H Electronics in the US.

    Source: Canon


  • Eero's new mesh WiFi system packs more power in a pretty package

    The first-generation Eero was a game-changer. With a mesh network that blanketed your home in WiFi, it finally offered home wireless that doesn't suck. It pledged to rid my home of dead spots and, for the most part, it did. Since then, however, Eero has seen plenty of competition from the likes of Google, Linksys and Samsung -- each promising the same mesh-network capabilities.

    Now, Eero is out with two new products -- a second-generation Eero, plus a new Eero Beacon -- that promise a more powerful network overall at a slightly lower entry-level price (you can get both in a starter bundle for $299). I've been using the "standard" home bundle (which is one Eero hub and two Beacons) for the past two weeks and, despite a few quibbles, I can say that it certainly delivers.

    The second-generation Eero looks exactly the same as the first-generation Eero, but that's not really a bad thing. Both the second-gen Eero and the Eero Beacon are two of the most stylish WiFi products out there. There are no unsightly antennae or clunky hardware here; instead, the Eero and the Eero Beacon share a similar minimalist aesthetic.


    Both are encased in a glossy white shell, with a rather attractive curved exterior. The design doesn't draw your attention necessarily, but it's also pleasant enough that you wouldn't want to hide it behind a piece of furniture. It's an aesthetic so pleasing that many others have copied it since the original's release.

    Aside from looks though, the second-gen Eero is very different from the first. Internally, it has tri-band support, a new thermal management system, a new antenna array and a Thread radio for low-power connected home products, like locks and thermostats. In short, it's just all around better. On the rear of the second-gen Eero are two Ethernet ports, a USB-C connector (for both diagnostics and power) and a power-reset button. The two Ethernet ports don't seem like enough at first, but the WiFi is actually so good that I found I didn't miss it (more on this later).

    The Eero Beacon, on the other hand, is basically Eero's Mini-Me. It's half the size of a regular Eero and plugs directly into the wall. It's also not quite as powerful as the second-gen model (it has dual-band instead of tri-band), it doesn't have any Ethernet ports either, so you can't use this as a standalone unit -- it requires the aforementioned Eero hub in order to work. But it has much of the same internal specs, including that aforementioned Thread radio support.


    If you're thinking to yourself, gee, the Beacon looks a lot like a nightlight, well, it comes with an LED that works exactly like one. When it's dark, the ambient light sensor will detect it, and voil, it'll light right up. Or, if you want, you can even use the app to have it come on at certain times of day automatically. It's a touch of whimsy that I find quite charming and is definitely a feature you likely won't find in other WiFi products.

    Setting the Eero up is pretty easy. You'll have to download the companion app to do so, but once you do, it'll guide you through the installation process. As with the original Eero, you'll have to create an account with your email address and phone number, so that it can easily send verification codes instead of requiring you to set up a password. You can then set up your network name and assign a password, just like with other routers.

    From there, it's as simple as plugging the Eero hub (the regular-sized one, not the Beacon) into a power outlet and into your modem. The LED on the front will blink blue to indicate that it's in pairing mode, and the app will detect it soon after. Once it does, it runs a short signal-strength test to see if you've placed the Eero in a suitable spot, and then you're done. Installing additional Eeros and Beacons is done the same way. Because each Eero hub does the job of a router, a range extender and a repeater, connecting multiple Eeros together essentially creates a mesh WiFi network that covers your whole home.

    The latest version of the companion app offers additional diagrams and animations in the hopes of making the setup even more painless. For example, it asks you what sort of home you have -- is it square, or long? -- and how many rooms, in order to best figure out how many Eeros you should have and where you should place them.

    The company says that one regular Eero and one Eero Beacon should be good enough for one- to two- bedroom homes (like a studio or a small apartment), while one Eero and two Beacons is sufficient for most two- to three-bedroom homes. Of course, this may vary depending on the kind of house you have, as well as the position of your outlets.

    I bring up the outlet issue in particular because the Beacon is more suited for outlets that are aligned vertically, like in most modern homes, instead of horizontally, which is more common in older houses. This turned out to be a slight issue for me, as my house has a mix of both -- while most of the house has modern outlets, my bedrooms have old-fashioned horizontally-aligned ones, where the Beacon ends up on its side and could potentially block the other outlet. It's not a terrible issue, really, but it's something to keep in mind.


    The refreshed app has an improved dashboard as well, letting you see all of your connected Eeros and devices in a single view. You can dial down to each connected device to see which WiFi band it's using as well as which Eero hub it's connected to (the Eero system is intelligent enough to switch frequencies and connections depending on network load). If you're a parent, you can easily assign different devices to different family members and keep track of their internet usage. If you want everyone to come to the dinner table right away, for example, you can just shut off their internet access. Pretty devious.

    On to the part you've all been waiting for: performance. I'll start by admitting that I don't have the fastest ISP in the world -- I'm just on DSL -- and I live in a two-bedroom 1,200-square-foot home with multiple levels. I decided to run a few speed tests (using Speedtest.net) with my laptop plugged directly into my modem to get a good benchmark to test against. With a wired connection, I had an average latency of 26 ms, download speeds of 28 Mbps and upload speeds of 2.27 Mbps.

    Next, I ran speed tests while wirelessly connected to the Eero network in both the downstairs living room and the upstairs bedroom. In my living room tests, my WiFi speed tests were on par with my wired connection, with an average latency of 27ms, download speeds of 28.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 2.2 Mbps. The upstairs speed was a touch slower, but not by much, with an average latency of 28ms, download speeds of 27 Mbps and upload speeds of 2.16 Mbps. In short, the wireless connections throughout the house had more or less the same performance as my wired connection, with hardly any dead spots. That's pretty impressive.


    Then I tried to see if I could maintain a decent connection while moving from room to room. I tested this by having a Facetime call with a colleague and then walking around the house. It was a pretty great connection for the most part -- the high-res video looked crisp and clear -- but I did experience a hiccup when I went into the bathroom, where the video suddenly dropped in quality. Interestingly though, the video went back to being good again in just a few minutes, which Eero attributes to the dynamic rerouting finally kicking in. Meanwhile, I also had about seven or so devices connected to the network at the same time, and I suffered few to no bandwidth concerns when streaming video or playing games.

    There are a few more Eero features worth mentioning. For one thing, all of the new Eero devices are compatible with the original ones. So if you're an existing Eero customer, you can still use your old hubs with the newer models in the same mesh network. Next is that you can add a guest network that's just for, well, guests, with the added ability to simply text them the guest password directly from the app. And, because the Eero is connected to the cloud, the firmware is updated over-the-air, without you having to do anything.

    Last but not least is Eero Plus, which is an additional paid subscription that promises premium protection against malware and viruses on all of your connected devices. The service also offers stronger parental controls like content filtering or enabling SafeSearch on certain profiles. And, of course, Plus subscribers get priority customer support. The Eero Plus subscription is available for either $9.99 a month or $99 a year.


    The cost of having an Eero in your home is certainly more than a traditional router. You can get a starter Eero and Beacon package for $299, but if you live in a multi-tier house like mine, you'll probably want the Eero and two Beacons bundle, which sells for $399. If you live in a larger house, or you just want more Ethernet ports, you can cough up for the three Eero hub bundle for $499. Eero also sells the devices individually; the second-gen Eero is $199 while the Beacon is $149.

    Comparatively, the Google WiFi three-pack is $299, while a single Google WiFi hub is $129. Samsung's Connect Home product, on the other hand, is $379.99 for a three-pack and $169.99 for a single unit (there's also a more powerful single-device Connect Home Pro for $249.99). Linksys is selling its mesh WiFi solution in individual units for $200, and in packs of two and three for $350 and $500, respectively.

    While the original Eero seemed expensive at the time (three-pack was $499, single was $199), the second-generation Eero bundles actually seem on-par with what's on the market currently. Sure, the individual second-gen Eeros are still on the high-end price-wise, but you can mix and match with the more affordable Beacons, which are really just as capable. Plus, you could just get the starter $299 Eero bundle to see if that's enough for your WiFi needs before splurging on more.

    In sum, I believe the Eero works as advertised, and delivers on its promise of whole-home wireless coverage in an attractive, user-friendly package. That said though, if you already have an existing mesh-networking solution like Google WiFi or the original Eero, the slight performance difference is probably not worth upgrading to the second-gen model. But if you're interested in diving into the whole mesh WiFi thing and you have to cash to spare, the powerful, prettier Eeros could be well worth it.


  • Draft defense bill would ban Kaspersky's security software

    American officials are worried that Russian software could be used to compromise national security, and they aren't taking any chances. A draft version of the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act, which greenlights military funding, explicitly bans the Department of Defense from using Kaspersky Lab's security software over concerns that it could be "vulnerable to Russian government influence." Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who added the clause, believes Kaspersky "cannot be trusted" to protect the US' critical infrastructure. The links between the company and the Russian government are "very alarming," she says.

    Shaheen is referring to reports from outlets such as BuzzFeed News, which cited anonymous officials concerned that Kaspersky has a "close relationship" with the Russian government. There doesn't appear to be hard evidence of a link, but there are worries that the US isn't adequately vetting access agreements between Kaspersky and the third-party vendors that provide its tools to the American government. The firm has landed contracts with agencies ranging from the National Institutes of Health (in 2008) to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (in 2016), including some State Department offices.

    Kaspersky, for its part, is vocally denying connections. It "has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts," according to repeated statements. We've reached out for comment on the NDAA bill and will let you know if Kaspersky has more to say.

    Not that any denials are stopping law enforcement. NBC News has learned (and Kaspersky has since confirmed) that FBI agents interviewed "at least a dozen" Kaspersky staffers as part of a counter-intelligence investigation. The conversations were only meant to gather information about how the company works, including how its US-based division reports to Moscow, but they still indicate that the FBI is worried enough about possible influence from Putin's camp that it wants more answers. There's no sign that this is linked to investigations into Russian attempts to influence the US election through hacks.

    It's possible that the bill eventually signed into law could omit the Kaspersky ban. If it passes as-is, though, it would signal a fundamental change of attitude toward the use of Kaspersky's software for important systems -- just the chance that Russia could slip spyware through (even if it's against Kaspersky's will) would be considered too great a risk. A move certainly wouldn't help alleviate tensions with Russia, which still denies any involvement in election-related hacks. Whether or not the fear is justified, it's evident that Kaspersky will have trouble winning American contracts going forward.

    Via: Dustin Volz (Twitter 1), (2), Reuters

    Source: Senate (PDF), NBC News


  • Elon Musk's 'Godot' machine cuts its first LA tunnel segment

    SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk just tweeted that his tunnel-carving operation, The Boring Company, just completed cutting out its first segment with its Beckett-homaging drill, Godot. While the plan is to build an entire subterranean network underneath the streets of Los Angeles, it's unclear where this first tunnel portion was cut and how far it went. Last we heard, negotiations for permits to start digging under city soil were promising but not concrete.
    No longer waiting for Godot. It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA.
    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2017
    Location is important: Back in February, The Boring Company was safely and legally cutting test tunnels in the SpaceX parking lot, but anything beyond the borders of the organization's land would require getting permission from the city. The founder tweeted that he'd had "promising conversations" with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti two weeks ago -- and that getting permits was harder than developing the tech for his future tunnel network -- but we haven't seen official confirmation that Musk got the green light to start digging on city grounds.

    That network isn't for a new public transit system, mind you: The Boring Company's tunnels will haul cars, bikes and pedestrians on electric sleds at up to 125 miles per hour, according to a concept video released in April, that will shrink half-hour drives aboveground to five-minute blitzes below. The first leg of the network is slated to run from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and up to Sherman Oaks.

    Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)


  • Signal tests changes to how users verify secure contacts

    Last November, Signal introduced a few changes to how it manages its safety numbers -- the unique code given to each conversation you have on the app. Safety numbers can change because someone gets a new phone and reinstalled the app or because the conversation has been compromised. Typically, whenever that code changed, those in the conversation had to manually approve the new safety number before sending or receiving any additional messages.

    With the November update, Open Whisper Systems (OWS) introduced an "advisory mode" setting that allowed users to be notified of a safety number change but not be prevented from exchanging messages. After testing out that setting and collecting feedback from users, OWS has made some adjustments to it, which are now available for testing in the beta channels of the Signal app.

    In advisory mode, if you receive a message in a conversation with a new safety number, a notification will appear telling you about the new number. And it will stay on the screen until you see it. Even if you get a few new messages, they won't push the notification off of the screen. When sending a message after a safety number change, the same notification will appear and you'll be able to send messages as long as you've had the chance to see the notification. If it happens to appear just after you send a message or just before, the message won't be delivered until you approve it. Users can also now mark a safety number as "verified" and any safety number changes from a verified conversation will require manual approval even if you've switched on the advisory mode.
    The changes are available in beta now and OWS encourages users to send along any feedback they have.

    Source: Open Whisper Systems


  • Real-time tracking and projection mapping keeps getting better

    Japanese creative studio P.I.C.S. have set a mindbending new standard for real-time tracking and projection mapping with their latest visual creation, EXISDANCE.

    The technology has been around for a while, although it arguably first captured the mainstream public's imagination at the Grammy's last year, when a red bright lightning bolt appeared on Lady Gaga's face during her David Bowie tribute.



    Since then we've seen Disney take scary clown makeup to the next level with its 'Makeup Lamps', plus any number of visual delights from creative studios demonstrating the technology's increasingly precise capabilities, but the latest offering from P.I.C.S. (the same team that made the weird Nintendo Switch advert), is an absolutely spectacular execution.



    This isn't straightforward projection. A complex set of algorithms is responding to the dancer's movements and creating a visual accompaniment in real-time. Latency -- the time between generating a particular image and matching it to the pose -- is one of the biggest challenges in this kind of live augmentation, but as you can see here the P.I.C.S. team have nailed it. Minimal latency, maximum wow.

    Source: Vimeo


  • Postmates' speedy booze delivery begins drop-offs in NYC and Texas

    Postmates' on-demand alcohol service is now available well beyond California's borders. On top of an expansion to Miami in May, the internet delivery mainstay is now making its Drinks feature available in New York City (in Brooklyn and Manhattan) as well as Austin, Dallas and Houston. As before, the aim is to bring neighborhood stores' booze to your door in 25 minutes or less. You'll have to be in the mood for certain drinks depending on where you live, though. The NYC service focuses on wine and spirits, while the Texas offerings revolve around beers.

    The Drinks service is best-suited to pricier orders: you'll need to pay a $3 delivery for orders under $30. Postmates is waiving that fee for the next month (as of this writing), though, so it may be worth trying if you're craving an amber ale or bourbon on a hot summer night. The main catch right now is simply availability -- it's far from a nationwide service at the moment (Postmates counts 13 cities in total). Given the rapid expansion, however, you might not have to wait long to see whether it's any better than existing delivery options in your area.

    Source: Postmates (Medium)


  • You won't escape Google ads in VR

    Sorry, folks, donning a virtual reality headset won't offer a refuge from internet advertising. Google's Area 120 incubator is experimenting with online ad formats designed with VR in mind. It's a lot trickier than slapping a banner on a website, as you might have already guessed. The team says it's trying to create ads that feel at home in VR and are relatively flexible, but are also "non-intrusive" and genuinely useful if you're interested. Area 120's first concept appears to hit that mark.

    The initial concept packages the ad into a cube that unfolds into an ad (in this case, a YouTube video promoting an app) when you tap on the cube or stare at it for a few seconds. Close the video and a download button briefly appears before shrinking back into the box. It's a simple concept, but it gets the point across without feeling out of place or risking an accidental launch.


    Area 120 is currently testing the ad format on Google's own Cardboard and Daydream VR experiences as well as Samsung's Gear VR, and it's encouraging VR developers to sign up for an early access program to get a head start.

    It's hard not to wince at the thought of headset-based sales pitches, but this could be important to the future of VR. Many mobile app creators depend on ads for a living, and this format would let them offer VR titles without either charging you for access or having to figure out their own ad solution. While this won't necessarily raise the quality of VR apps (it's easy to see this enabling a lot of fluff), it could at least give you more than a handful of choices.

    Via: 9to5Google

    Source: Google Developers Blog


  • DHS won’t expand its laptop ban to all US-bound flights just yet

    In a statement today, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced expanded security measures for US-bound flights. Kelly said the new measures were in response to terrorist groups' "renewed interest" in targeting airlines. "We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed," he said.
    There aren't a lot of details on the enhanced security measures just yet, but they include more thorough passenger and electronic device screening, increased security protocols in passenger areas and around aircraft, greater use of explosive-detecting canines and more preclearance locations. Reuters reports that airlines flying into the US from any of the 280 originating airports worldwide have 21 days to implement more thorough explosive screening measures. They'll have 120 days to phase in the other security enhancements.

    Those airlines that don't comply could face a ban on electronic devices -- like the one implemented in March for a number of Middle East airlines -- or a suspension of their US-bound flights.

    "While the actions we are announcing today will improve the security of US-bound flights, I am hopeful other nations will follow suit. Unless we all raise our security standards, terrorists—who see commercial aviation as the greatest takedown—will find and attack the weakest link," said Kelly.



    Source: Department of Homeland Security (1), (2)


  • NBC Sports’ new Premier League plan is terrible for everyone

    When NBC Sports announced its new $50 Premier League Pass yesterday, it was easy for soccer fans in the US to get excited about the ability to watch without a cable subscription. However, upon close inspection, the new broadcast structure for England's top league may be worse than limiting a full slate of games to those who have a plan with Comcast, Time Warner or other providers. Allow me to explain.

    If you want the comprehensive slate of matches that has been available through the NBC Sports apps in the past, you'll have to pay for both the new subscription and a cable plan. The NBC Sports Gold Premier League Pass will give subscribers access to 130 games during the season for $50. The Premier League schedule has a lot more games than that, so where are the others? NBC says "up to 250 games" will be available to cable customers that air on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC -- the three networks that typically show the top matchups each weekend in the US. In other words, NBC Sports is dividing its coverage between people who are willing to pay for cable and those who aren't.

    NBC Sports confirmed to Engadget that the only time Pass subscribers will be able to stream games broadcast on NBC networks will be after the fact as archived replays of "most matches."

    Now, $50 for an entire season isn't that big of an investment. But you're getting a limited number of games and matchups that may not be super compelling unless you're a die-hard fan of a mediocre top-tier English club. Even then, when the likes of Swansea City face top-of-the-table sides like Chelsea, a cable subscription may be your only way to watch. And the same applies for fans of good clubs taking on terrible teams -- Manchester City fans may need this new subscription when they're playing a team at the bottom of the table. NBC will most likely continue to air the week's best matches on its broadcast networks.

    Basically NBC is screwing both cord cutters and cable subscribers.

    Sure, the Premier League continues to gain popularity in the US and NBC is likely wrestling with a way to cash in on those Extra Time games. But this is a terrible solution for both casual and die-hard soccer fans. Just charge us $100 (or slightly more) per season and give us access to every game without demanding that we have a cable plan to see the best matchups. Or heck, give us the option to watch our favorite team for $75 per year -- similar to what MLB.tv offers. Hey, it seems to be working OK for MLB, NBA, NHL and the NFL.


  • Lawsuit claims Uber discriminates against people with disabilities

    Uber launched a couple of new programs back in 2014 to serve people who use wheelchairs. UberAssist is a way to hail an UberX driver trained in accessibility and whose car can accommodate a folding wheelchair. UberWAV will send you an actual accessible vehicle with a rear-entry ramp and safety features for riders with accessibility needs. These programs are only available in a handful of larger markets like New York Washington DC or Portland, unfortunately. In addition, Uber may not have provided these services in equal ways to riders who need them even in cities where these programs exist. The Washington, DC-based Equal Rights Center (ERC) is suing Uber for denying that equal access to people with disabilities, claiming that the company is in violation of Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the DC Human Rights Act.

    The organization conducted an investigation that compared the experience of customers with and without disabilities. The ERC claims that Uber makes people in wheelchairs wait an average of eight times longer for an accessible solution to arrive and had to pay twice as much in fares. Further, it alleges that none of the more than 30,000 Uber cars in DC is capable of serving individuals who can't use a folding wheelchair.

    "Uber had the power to design and implement services in the District that connect wheelchair users to employment and educational opportunities, support services and cultural events," said Michal Allen, a partner at the firm representing the ERC. "It just chose not to do so. By flouting federal and local accessibility laws, Uber deprives wheelchair users of the life-changing benefits of the convenient, affordable, on-demand services that Uber delivers to its customers who don't use wheelchairs."

    This isn't the first lawsuit Uber's faced over accessibility, either. A couple of wheelchair users from Mississippi filed a suit last May, which alleged that Uber had no accessible options in the city of Jackson. A Chicago disability group also sued Uber for violating wheelchair accessibility laws last October.

    Update: An Uber spokesperson sent Engadget the following statement in an email: "We take this issue seriously and are committed to continued work with the District, our partners, and stakeholders toward expanding transportation options and freedom of movement for all residents throughout the region."

    Via: TechCrunch

    Source: Equal Rights Center


  • Telegram will register with Russia but won't share secure data

    A few days ago, we reported that Russia's communications regulator demanded that messaging app Telegram hand over information, including decrypted user messages, or risk being banned from the country. Now, Reuters reports that Telegram has agreed to register with the Russian government but will not hand over any user data or messages.

    Russia claims it needs information from Telegram to put the app on a list of information distributors that officially operate within the country. While Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, says that the company is happy to register, he refuses to comply with any requests that violate Telegram's confidentiality policy.

    The reason behind Russia's demands? It says that terrorists have been using the Telegram app to plan attacks, including a suicide bombing in April. While Telegram has been shutting down known terrorist channels on the network, it's easy for them to create new ones.

    This is just the latest conflict in the ongoing struggle between the need to protect users' privacy and a desire to crack down on terrorist communication. For now, though, it appears as though users' Telegram data is safe: Durov has been vehemently arguing in favor of privacy protection on Twitter and has made it clear the service won't compromise on this issue.

    Source: Reuters


  • Fox Sports brings its 'virtual suite' to Gold Cup VR broadcasts

    Fox Sports is no stranger to VR. The network broadcasted Super Bowl 51 via a virtual suite of sorts, for instance. Now Fox is taking that further with the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer championship. The footie action starts July 8th with the USA vs. Panama match at 4:30 PM Eastern, and will continue with two as-of-yet unannounced games thereafter. Basically, it's combining that social space from American football with its previous work of broadcasting what everyone else around the world calls football, in VR.

    The suite sounds a lot like what Fox had on offer for the Super Bowl earlier this year: multiple camera angles to choose from, there will be several 360-degree pre-show videos and replay features, too. The differences this time are that it's sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings and you can link up to watch with friends. So you should probably expect to see the corporate sports bar's familiar black and yellow logo wherever you look.

    If there's a catch, it's that you need a Facebook account to login and join your friends so you can watch from the social lounge together. No friends? No problem: the app will pair you with randoms too. Hanging out with strangers in VR was on your bucket list anyway, right?


  • Google Photos' AI-powered sharing is now available

    Google is making good on its promise of AI-assisted photo sharing. A Google Photos upgrade arriving this week uses machine learning to suggest pictures based on both your own sharing habits, the people in the photos, and whether or not they're part of a "meaningful moment," such as a party or a wedding. You might not have to remember to share photos of your best friend when you get home from a big weekend shindig. You can customize who receives the photos, of course, and fellow Google Photos users can get reminders to add their photos to the relevant album.

    The update is also a big deal if you always want to share snapshots. There's now an option to share your photo library, whether it's the whole thing or snippets based on specific criteria. You can limit Photos to sharing pictures that include your partner, for example, or only those photos taken from a certain date onward.

    Neither feature is flawless. What if your significant other has their back turned to the camera in an otherwise important shot? And while your friends won't need Google Photos to receive suggested shares, the shared library clearly depends on everyone signing up. Still, this might be one of the more practical examples of how AI technology can help in everyday life. You won't always have to remember to share photos when you get home -- a machine will do much of the work for you.

    Source: Google


  • Canada says court order to pull Google results applies worldwide

    In 2012, Canadian manufacturer Equustek asked Google to remove search results relating to a court case against Datalink, a distributor of the former company's network devices. While Google complied with the request, it only did so in Canada itself. The Supreme Court then ordered Google to remove search results pertaining to the issue in all countries Google operated in. Google appealed the decision, arguing that the order went against its own freedom of expression. The court has now rejected the company's argument. The majority decision says that Canadian courts may in fact grant injunctions that compel compliance anywhere in the world.

    "The internet has no borders - its natural habitat is global," the Supreme Court wrote in its judgment. "The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates - globally."

    This isn't the first time a country has told Google to comply globally. EU courts told Google to allow user requests to pull outdated or irrelevant information, while a court in France ruled that the company must extend the so-called "right to be forgotten" rule to global, not just regional, search results.

    As reported by Reuters


  • DNC hires ex-Uber engineer as its chief technology officer

    The Democratic National Committee has selected ex-Twitter VP Raffi Krikorian as its chief technology officer. Krikorian was until recently the senior director of engineering at Uber's Advanced Technologies Center, but left the company in February.

    The DNC had plenty of cyber troubles during the election -- most notably an email hack, information from which was subsequently posted by WikiLeaks. And boosting the DNC's cyber defenses will clearly be one of Krikorian's priorities. However, DNC Chair Tom Perez told Politico in January that he wanted an in-house cybersecurity officer to also work with state partners, not just the DNC. Pennsylvania Democrats were hit with ransomware in March and last year, the FBI suspected a number of Democrat officials' cellphones had been hacked.

    Some of Krikorian's other roles might include some much-needed updates to the DNC's use of technology in their campaigns. In the job posting for the CTO, the DNC made it clear they were looking for someone who could spur some innovation in how the party uses tech. The DNC hasn't yet announced when Krikorian will start his new position.

    Source: Recode


  • Artistic AI paints portraits of people who aren't really there

    Mike Tyka paints the portraits of people who don't exist. The subjects of his ephemeral artwork are not born from any brush. Rather, they are sculpted -- roughly -- from the digital imagination of his computer's neural network.

    Faces are "interesting and we humans react strongly to them, we tend to read a lot into them," Tyka explained over email. "I find I connect with them when I work with them, I'm curious about who they might be, if they existed."

    As such, Tyka has spent the past nine months or so developing the Portraits of Imaginary People project, which follows his earlier works, Inceptionism and The Groovik's Cube. For Imaginary People, Tyka sought to use generative neural networks to create original portraits, much like the one Alexander Reben used to mimic Bob Ross' speaking style.

    To do so, Tyka turned to a machine learning technique known as a generative adversarial network (GAN). "I started experimenting with GANs for this installation I did with Refik Anadol, where we used the technique to generate imaginary historical documents from a large archive," Tyka wrote. "After we finished that project (it opened in April in Istanbul), I started looking at faces again using the same techniques."

    If you want a generative model like a GAN to, say, draw you a picture of a cat, you'll first have to get a huge data set of cat pictures and then train the model to create a picture of a cat with all the requisite features like ears, whiskers and a tail. In this case, Tyka utilized roughly 20,000 high-resolution portraits from Flickr as his base training data set.

    That's a good first step, but let's say you want a realistic picture of a cat, not a digital doodle. To do that, you need to set up a second (adversarial) neural network, known as a discriminator, for your GAN. So while the first network (the generator) creates pictures of cats, the discriminator's job is to compare those generated images against real-world samples (e.g., actual pictures of cats) and figure out if they're fake or not. Based on each result, the system then goes back and tweaks the generator network's parameters to make the output image appear more and more realistic.

    If you're only using a single, unconditioned GAN, the output image is typically only going to be in the 128x128 to 256x256 pixel range, Tyka explained. So to increase the size of these machine-generated images, he stacked multiple, separately trained GANs on top of one another. "The second stage is a superres GAN which [sic] is conditioned on the output of the former," Tyka said. "I.e. in addition to the discriminator loss (which tries to make it look 'real') there is an additional term that makes sure the output is a plausible high-res version of the respective low-res input." This second stage effectively increases the image resolution to 768x768 or 1024x1024 pixels.

    By training the second-level (or even third-level) GAN on higher-resolution images of specific facial details like eye, hair and skin texture, it can act as an upscaler for the GANs stacked below it. Eventually Tyka wants to generate 4K-quality pictures, though he's currently having difficulty finding a sufficiently robust data set for training such a system.

    Getting the results you see here are easier said than done, however. There was plenty of work to complete before the first simulation ever ran. "GANs are hard to train and hard to control," Tyka explained. "Grooming the input data is important, making sure all images are high-res, don't have artifacts and are not drawings but real photos is time consuming."

    What's more, keeping the adversarial networks in sync requires a fair amount of trial and error. "GANs are annoying because there isn't a global objective function. The two networks are each other's objective functions so to speak, so the goalposts are moving," Tyka explained. "It's hard to compare different runs with different parameters because there isn't a good, stable metric for how well a particular net is doing."

    Still, Tyka's desired end result for this project does not revolve around accuracy or fidelity. "The goal, like with many art projects, is to make compelling artwork which [sic] inspires or moves or makes you think," he concluded. "That's hard to quantify so I just follow my gut."


  • US hit by cyberattack that targeted Ukraine and Russia

    Yesterday, a number of Ukrainian and Russian companies and state agencies reported being hit by a cyberattack, the results of which ranged from flight delays at Boryspil airport to a shutdown of Chernobyl nuclear power plant's automatic radiation monitoring system. And while those two countries took the brunt of it, the virus at the root of the attack quickly spread throughout Europe and to Asia, Australia and the US.

    Among those affected in the US were hospitals, the pharmaceutical company Merck, Nabisco and Oreo. A major Los Angeles port was forced to stop operations yesterday because of the attack and was still closed as of this morning. FedEx also experienced disruptions in its TNT Express delivery service. A US nuclear power plant was the victim of a cyberattack as well, but it's not as of yet clear whether it was connected to the others.

    The virus being spread is thought to be a version of the "Petya" ransomware and like the WannaCry virus that wreaked international havoc in May, it appears to take advantage of a Microsoft Windows flaw uncovered by the NSA and published online by hackers. This virus, however, seems to only be able to spread between directly connected networks, which is believed to be the reason the attack seemed to slow throughout the day Tuesday.

    It's still unclear as of now who is behind the attack.



    Source: ABC


  • Revamped Twitch app streams live from your phone

    As useful as the Twitch mobile app can be, it still falls short of what you're used to on the desktop, especially if you're a broadcaster. Would you believe that you have to switch apps just to stream live? Thankfully, it's shrinking that gap today. It's starting to roll out a Twitch app overhaul that adds some of the features you take for granted while refining the interface. For creators, the biggest deal is simply direct mobile streaming -- you can livestream to your channel without any go-between software. While phone-based broadcasting was certainly possible before, this could easily lead to more IRL streams from your favorite streamers.

    Of course, there are plenty of updates for those content to sit back and watch. The Pulse discovery feed and the notification center finally made it to mobile, for starters. The interface should also make it easier to find those features, including navigation bars that promise easier access to mainstay features as well as swipe-based controls for picking videos or going back to a previous stream. You'll also see a dark mode for those nighttime viewing sessions, and instant playlists that you can access just by swiping down.

    You might not see all these features right away, as Twitch doesn't expect everyone to get the new app until early July. When it arrives, though, it could shake up your expectations for Twitch. You'll have more reason to watch on your phone instead of waiting until you get home, but it'll also help Twitch in its quest to expand beyond game streams. It's also good news for broadcasters who'd rather not be chained to their computers -- they can go on a PC-free vacation without losing touch.
    💜📲

    Our new Twitch mobile app is rolling out over the next 2 weeks!

    Check out the new design, features, and more on https://t.co/O2nyREm9VH pic.twitter.com/rAapxuqk3u
    — Twitch (@Twitch) June 28, 2017
    Source: Twitch, Twitter


  • California may give EV buyers instant rebates

    If you're worried about the federal tax credit for electric car purchases phasing out, you may want to pay attention to what California is proposing. The state is concerned about demand for EVs declining as the tax incentives disappear. As a result, California is considering legislation that will give instant rebates to buyers of electric cars at the time of purchase.

    A key component of this bill is that the rebate is instant, applied automatically when you purchase the vehicle. California currently has a mail-in EV rebate program for certain car models, but purchasers have to wait up to 90 days to receive their funds. It's possible that this wait makes people less likely to choose electric over gasoline power for their vehicle.

    While it's not clear exactly how much each rebate would be, The California Electric Vehicle Initiative would be income based. The state is specifically concerned with helping low-income residents purchase EVs. Their goal is to bring the purchase price of electric cars down to their gasoline-powered equivalents. The bill currently proposes putting aside around $3 billion total for these incentives.

    The legislation hasn't been passed yet; while it passed an assembly vote, it still needs to face two Senate committees. It's notable, though, because California is often a leader in emissions and car regulations for the rest of the country. If this becomes law in California, it's possible we could see other states following suit.

    Via: Bloomberg

    Source: California State Legislature


  • Bonaverde wants to be the Keurig of raw coffee

    Many people take their coffee drinking seriously, but even those with a proper espresso machine at home won't roast their own beans. This delicate step is typically done on an industrial scale using specialist equipment, far from the end consumer. Now, the caffeine addicts at Bonaverde intend to bring roasting to the kitchen counter with the first all-in-one machine that turns raw, green coffee beans into a cup of joe. The company crowdfunded its appliance way back in 2013, and several years later the consumer model is now ready. But several questions have loomed over Bonaverde's vision to change how people drink coffee -- namely, where on earth do you buy unroasted beans?

    Raw, green beans aren't exactly easy to come by. They're usually traded by the ton, not something you pick up at your local store. Some specialist retailers do sell raw beans in consumer-friendly quantities, but you still wouldn't call them a particularly accessible commodity. Thus, Bonaverde hasn't just spent the past four years refining its machine; it's also established a complete supply chain to ship beans directly from coffee growers to your doorstep.

    Bonaverde had to develop another machine to enable growers to package their product in the special parcels required by its all-in-one appliance. Like Keurig or Nespresso pods, these are not optional. The little pizza-slice-shaped bundles contain enough raw coffee for one pot, with the packaging doubling as the brewing filter (that's one less thing to buy). The grower-side equipment is built with the isolated fields of developing countries in mind. It runs on solar power with battery backup, is simple enough to be fixed with "a hammer and screwdriver," rather than needing elaborate replacement parts when it breaks down, and even has a few bonus features like being a WiFi hotspot (an embedded cellular SIM handles the connection).



    Key to the packaging process is a unique RFID chip that's attached to every pouch. Bonaverde users will have to tap this tag on the front of their machine before it'll roast raw beans. This is partly for quality control, the company tells me. As the end user will likely have zero experience with roasting, the tag communicates the optimal profile to the appliance -- different strains of bean from different regions require distinct temperatures, timing and air-circulation settings to be at their best. In other words, Bonaverde doesn't want consumers to have at every parameter, ruin the roast and think their machine is junk as a result.

    End users do have some level of control, though. Using a companion mobile app, they're able to tweak the roasting profile if they want a more intense flavor, for example, and they can also determine how finely the roasted beans are then ground, which impacts the final brew. (The idea is that this take on personalization is better than asking users what exact temperature they want during the final phase of roasting.) Bonaverde plans to introduce community features to its app in the future, too, so connoisseurs can share their tweaks with other users. Importantly, the app also has a scheduling feature so your pot will be ready at a certain time, meaning you don't have wait for the roughly 20-minute roasting, grinding and brewing cycle to complete each morning.



    The RFID packaging is also important to Bonaverde for a completely different reason. Being a startup, it doesn't have the cash to set itself up as a middleman between grower and consumer, buying from one and selling to the other. Instead, growers effectively license Bonaverde's vision, packing the coffee off their own backs. Bonaverde handles the shipping -- a more manageable overhead -- and distributes the coffee to consumers, who just pay for delivery. Buying the actual coffee occurs only once you've tapped that RFID chip on the appliance, at which point the grower gets what it's owed and Bonaverde takes a cut. In this way, the startup hopes to build a global ecosystem around home roasting without becoming a trader itself, thanks to the microtransaction model. (You could just... never actually scan the chip.)

    That sounds potentially exploitative and risky for the grower, but Bonaverde is guaranteeing its partners a minimum of 30 percent more than Fair Trade wholesale price with its model. The farmer is able to set their own pouch prices, which can range from roughly $2 to $5 per pot -- handpicked beans that are more expensive to produce could demand a higher price, for instance.



    In some ways, Bonaverde has it all sewn up. Its all-in-one coffeemaker wasn't going to be viable without easy access to raw, green beans, so it's creating the supply chain. The startup doesn't want to own the whole ecosystem, though, and hopes to partner with companies as well as growers, so you might pick up compatible pouches at your favorite local spot. Familiarity for the customer, branding for the coffeehouse, and a cut for Bonaverde. Putting pouches in coffee shops and machines in hotels is likely a ways off, though, as you can't solve the inherent chicken-and-egg problem overnight.

    Bonaverde has a long road to becoming the next Keurig or Nespresso. The obvious obstacle is growing the initial user base, thus becoming more attractive to pouch partners, which in turn makes the machine itself an easier sell. But the company is asking for a significant amount of commitment. First, there's the price of the all-in-one machine.



    While some early-bird backers managed to pick one up for as little as $250 four years ago -- and are just now expecting delivery -- the appliance goes on general sale today for $799/799/€799 for the white version and $1000/1000/€1000 for the silver model (coinciding with the launch of an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs). New customers are looking at a fall shipping window, mind. It looks significantly different from the initial Kickstarter pitch. It's essentially a tall, square filter coffee machine with some added bulk on top to account for the roasting element. Not unattractive, but potentially too demanding for smaller kitchens. Beyond the machine, you have to be comfortable allying yourself with the whole ecosystem, from buying the pouches to the replacement filters that capture unwanted oils and such created during the roasting process (each is good for 30 brews, I'm told).

    Ultimately, though, Bonaverde is attempting to change perceptions. The main selling point is truly fresh coffee anytime you want it. I tried a cup myself and found it to have a certain cleanliness about it, though it was also relatively tasteless. I'm pretty sure the company plied tasters with a light brew that was bound to be universally inoffensive, though, and I'm no coffee expert, so am hesitant to make any real judgments on quality, especially after just two mugfuls. Green beans apparently last upwards of a year before starting to go stale, and then there's supporting the growers directly. But the freshest of coffee is still the primary draw.



    I'm not sure real aficionados want to go to the trouble of roasting their own beans -- this is also assuming they believe the machine's process is as robust as industrial roasting -- for the sake of a pot of filter coffee. Bonaverde intends to release an espresso model in the future, possibly later this year but likely next. This will at least give consumers options, but we're still talking about an unexplored market here.

    Bonaverde obviously believes there's a large appetite for home roasting, and the company has reason to. The startup's crowdfunding campaign eclipsed its initial $135,000 goal by over half a million bucks, and I'm told a pre-market competitor in San Francisco is currently working on a similar all-in-one machine. But whether there truly is a big enough demand for home roasting to support Bonaverde's supply chain -- or whether the company can create it -- is the next looming question to be answered.

    Source: Bonaverde


  • The iPad-is-or-is-not-a-laptop-replacement
    Matt Gemmell, iPad-only user:  I occasionally see the phrase "laptop replacement" regarding the iPad, despite the bizarreness of both the concept and the generalisation. Intelligent people like journalists and tech pundits use it, seemingly without humorous intent, and it puzzles me. There's no such thing as a laptop replacement, and if there were, the iPad isn't meant to be one.  Once you let go of the trope about an iPad replacing a laptop, take a step back, and see it as a device that is great for some but not for all, this whole discussion becomes irrelevant in a heartbeat. Just because iOS isn't the same as macOS or just because iOS is not a good fit for your general purpose computing needs does not mean that applies to everyone.  While you might say iOS can't do overlapping windows and window management!, somebody who prefers the iPad for their computer needs would say why would I want to manually fiddle with all these annoying overlapping windows?  For me personally, I feel like the ideal mobile general purpose computer lies somewhere halfway between the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro - which is exactly why I ordered a brand new iPad Pro 12.9" today, so that I can compare it to my Surface Pro 4 and see where, exactly, that halfway point lies and which of these two major platforms is closest to it.  These are, actually, quite exciting - although not necessarily positive, see e.g. the lack of control we have over these devices - times in the world of general purpose computing.


  • Improvements to the Xerox Alto Mandelbrot drop runtime
    Last week I wrote a Mandelbrot set program for the Xerox Alto, which took an hour to generate the fractal. The point of this project was to learn how to use the Alto's bitmapped display, not make the fastest Mandelbrot set, so I wasn't concerned that this 1970s computer took so long to run. Even so, readers had detailed suggestions form performance improvements, so I figured I should test out these ideas. The results were much better than I expected, dropping the execution time from 1 hour to 9 minutes.  Articles like this are very satisfying to post, because we can all agree this is just plain awesome, no ifs or buts.


  • What Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods really means
    There is something horrible about this little video. Why do the inhabitants of this suburban home require a recipe for pasta from a jar? Why can't they turn the lights down using their hands? If the ad were an episode of "Black Mirror", they would be clones living in a laboratory, attempting to follow the patterns of an outside world they've never seen. And yet the ad is not fantastical but descriptive. It's unsettling because it's an accurate portrayal of our new mail-order way of life, which Amazon has spent the past twenty-two years creating.  Eventually, governments all over the world will have to ask themselves the question: how big and powerful will we let corporations become? The more powerful they get, and the bigger and bigger the role of money in Washington DC and Brussels, the more I believe we have already reached the point where it's time to start breaking up some of the most powerful corporations - like the oil giants, like Apple, like Google, like Amazon, and so on.  These companies play such a huge role in the core foundations and functioning of our societies, that we have to start taking steps to break them up. We've done it before, and we need to start thinking about doing it again.  Corporations exist to serve society - not the other way around. If, due to their sheer size and power, they become a liability, they have outlived their usefulness.


  • EC hits Google with record 2.42 billion EUR fine
    The European Commission has fined Google ‚2.42 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.  The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google's parent company.  The two core offences as noted by the European Comission are as follows:  From 2008, Google began to implement in European markets a fundamental change in strategy to push its comparison shopping service. This strategy relied on Google's dominance in general internet search, instead of competition on the merits in comparison shopping markets:  Google has systematically given prominent placement to its own comparison shopping service: when a consumer enters a query into the Google search engine in relation to which Google's comparison shopping service wants to show results, these are displayed at or near the top of the search results. Google has demoted rival comparison shopping services in its search results: rival comparison shopping services appear in Google's search results on the basis of Google's generic search algorithms. Google has included a number of criteria in these algorithms, as a result of which rival comparison shopping services are demoted. Evidence shows that even the most highly ranked rival service appears on average only on page four of Google's search results, and others appear even further down. Google's own comparison shopping service is not subject to Google's generic search algorithms, including such demotions.  As a result, Google's comparison shopping service is much more visible to consumers in Google's search results, whilst rival comparison shopping services are much less visible.  Much like Apple's and Ireland's illegal tax deal, fines like this can be easily avoided: respect the laws regarding doing business in the EU. I don't expect the current (or the previous, for that matter) US administration to keep these incredibly powerful tech giants in check, so I guess it's up to the EU.


  • Website used Zillow photos to mock bad design; Zillow may sue
    Cyrus Farivar, for Ars:  An architecture blogger has temporarily disabled her website, McMansionHell.com, after receiving a demand letter from Zillow and posting it on Twitter.  On Monday, Zillow threatened to sue Kate Wagner, saying that that she was violating its terms of use, copyright law, and possibly the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act because she took images from the company's website without permission. However, on each of her posts, she acknowledged that the images came from Zillow and were posted under the fair use doctrine, as she was providing (often humorous) commentary on various architectural styles. Her website was featured on the design podcast 99% Invisible in October 2016.  Confusingly, Zillow does not even own the images in question. Instead, Zillow licenses them from the rights holders. As such, it remains unclear why the company would have standing to bring a lawsuit against Wagner.  Her website is incredibly entertaining, and you'd think such use of photos falls squarely under fair use. It sucks that she had to shutdown her website, and I'm hoping Zillow loses this case hard.


  • Apple releases first beta of iOS 11 to public beta testers
    Apple today released the first public beta of iOS 11 to its public beta testing group, allowing non-developers to download and test the update ahead of its fall release. iOS 11 has been available for developers since June 5, and the first public beta corresponds with the second developer beta.  iOS 11 is a huge step forward for iPads as a general purpose computing device, but there are still steps to be taken - changing default applications is a big one, as is mouse support so you don't have to touch the screen for every little thing you need to do. And, of course: Xcode for iOS, which seems like an inevitability at this point.  Somewhere halfway between the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro lies the ideal mobile computer. Apple made a huge stride towards that perfect middle ground with iOS 11.  Update: The Verge has a good overview of what's new in iOS .


  • Nintendo unveils SNES Classic, doesn't include Chrono Trigger
    Nintendo has revealed details for the SNES Classic. The standalone mini console will feature 21 games, including Super Mario World, Earthbound, Super Mario Kart, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. But the most surprising inclusion is Star Fox 2, the unreleased sequel to the original Star Fox for SNES.  No Chrono Trigger.  Why would I buy a SNES if I can't play the best game ever made on it? This is a baffling, dealbreaking omission.


  • 32TB of Windows 10 beta builds, driver source code leaked
    Seeing "Windows 10 source code leaked!" headlines or tweets? Not so fast - while there was a leak, it wasn't anything particularly interesting. The only truly interesting bit is this, as explained by Ars' Peter Bright:  The leak is also described as containing a source code package named the "Shared Source Kit." This is a package of source code for things like the USB, storage, and Wi-Fi stacks, and the Plug-and-Play system. It isn't the core operating system code (part of which leaked in 2004) but rather contains those parts of the driver stack that third parties have to interact most intimately with.  Microsoft routinely gives access to the source code of a wide variety of parts of Windows to academic institutions, certain enterprise customers, and, of course, hardware makers - which is what the above mentioned source code package refers to. While interesting, it seems unlikely this leak is of any significance to anyone.


  • Google to stop scanning e-mail for ads
    Google is stopping one of the most controversial advertising formats: ads inside Gmail that scan users' email contents. The decision didn't come from Google's ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers.  Alphabet Inc.'s Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft Corp. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google's senior vice president of cloud. "What we're going to do is make it unambiguous," she said.  Good move, and in the current climate, Google really couldn't continue this practice - automated algorithms or no.


  • Jolla's summer 2017 update
    Jolla's CEO Sami Pienimäki:  We have positive progress and major future business potential with Sailfish openings e.g. in China and Russia. While these projects are big and take time, they're developing steadily and we expect them to grow into sizable businesses for us overtime. These two are now our key customers but the projects are in early phase and our revenues are tight.  At the same time realizing this opportunity requires significant R&D investments from our licensing customers and Jolla.  Meanwhile, as Russia and China are progressing, we also have good traction with other new potential licensing customers in different regions. Good discussions are ongoing, and we€™re waiting eagerly to get to share those with you.  And yes, they're still going to at some point maybe possibly start the refunding process for the tablet. My Jolla Tablet spent about 5 minutes outside of the box, since there's not much you can actually do with it.


  • * The Scott Forstall interview *
    The Computer History Museum organised an interview with Scott Forstall, led by John Markoff. Forstall led the iPhone operating system (now iOS) team for the iPhone and the iPad from their inception, and was a close friend and confidant of Steve Jobs. He was ousted by Tim Cook, supposedly because Forstall was a challenger to Cook's position and power inside the company. On top of that, much like Steve Jobs, Forstall supposedly wasn't the easiest person to get along with, and Cook wanted a more harmonious Apple.  Ever since his departure from Apple, Forstall has been silent. This interview is the first time he's opened up about his long, long tenure at first NeXT (where he was hired on the spot by Steve Jobs himself) and then Apple, and quite honestly, I didn't really know what to expect.  It turns out that if you close your eyes while listening to Forstall speak, it's almost like you're hearing Steve Jobs. The man is charming, well-spoken, has a thoughtful or funny reply to every question, sprinkles it with a touching or heartwarming story or anecdote - all the while showing a deep understanding of what made Apple's products great without having to resort to technical details or PR-approved talking points.  As the interview ended and I pondered the whole thing, it just became so very clear why Cook would want to get rid of Forstall as quickly as he could. Can you imagine a boring bean counter like Cook sharing the stage with a man who so closely resembles and feels like Steve Jobs?  It might very well be the case that a Jobs-like figure like Forstall would not have yielded the kinds of immense financial success Apple has enjoyed under Cook, but I can't help but shake the feeling that an Apple with Forstall at the helm - or even just an Apple with Forstall, period - would be a more exciting, a more innovative, a more boundary-pushing Apple. We'll most likely never know.  Then again... It wouldn't be the first time someone gets ousted from Apple, only to return when the time is right. Read more on this exclusive OSNews article...


  • Trump administration approves social media checks
    The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.  [...]  Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years' worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.  [...]  While the new questions are voluntary, the form says failure to provide the information may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application.  This surely won't affect the countless incredibly smart scientists and engineers wanting to work in the US and contribute to the US economy.


  • Atari CEO confirms Atari is working on a new game console
    Atari CEO Fred Chesnais told GamesBeat in an exclusive interview that his fabled video game company is working on a new game console.  In doing so, the New York company might be cashing in on the popularity of retro games and Nintendo€™s NES Classic Edition, which turned out to be surprisingly popular for providing a method to easily play old games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda in HD on a TV.  [...]  Chesnais declined to describe a lot of details about the console. But he said it is based on PC technology. He said Atari is still working on the design and will reveal it at a later date.  It seems extremely unlikely that this will be a console in the Xbox, Playstation, or Switch sense, but if it's based on PC technology, it won't be some rebranded Android tablet either. I wasn't an Atari kid when I was young - PC and Nintendo all the way - so I have no sense of nostalgia for the company, but I'm still intrigued.


  • My Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis
    Now that Ubuntu phones and tablets are gone, I would like to offer my thoughts on why I personally think the project failed and what one may learn from it.  To recapitulate my involvement in the project: I had been using Ubuntu Touch on a Nexus 7 on an on-and-off-basis between its announcement in 2013 and December 2014, started working on Click apps in December 2014, started writing the 15-part €œHacking Ubuntu Touch€ blog post series about system internals in January 2015, became an Ubuntu Phone Insider, got a Meizu MX4 from Canonical, organized and sponsored the UbuContest app development contest, worked on bug reports and apps until about April 2016, and then sold off/converted all my remaining devices in mid-2016. So I think I can offer some thoughts about the project, its challenges and where we could have done better.  Excellent and detailed explanation of why Ubuntu Phone failed.


  • Leaked recording: Inside Apple's global war on leakers
    In what is surely the greatest bit of irony in the tech industry this week, a recording of an internal Apple briefing on countering leaking has leaked. Tons of interesting insight in the article covering the recording, but this bit jumped out at me, because I never put two and two together in this regard:  Apple's Chinese workers have plenty of incentive to leak or smuggle parts. "A lot, like 99.9 percent, of these folks are good people who are coming to a place that has a job, they're gonna make money, and they're gonna go back and start a business in their province or they're gonna do something else with it, support their family," Rice says. "But there's a whole slew of folks that can be tempted because what happens if I offer you, say, three months' salary?' In some cases we've seen up to a year's worth of salary being rewarded for stealing product out of the factory." Apple workers on the production line make approximately $350 a month, not including overtime, according to a 2016 report from China Labor Watch.  It never dawned on me that leaks could be the result of underpaid factory workers.



  • AWS Quickstart for Kubernetes
        Kubernetes is an open-source cluster manager that makes it easy to run Docker and other containers in production environments of all types (on-premises or in the public cloud). What is now an open community project came from development and operations patterns pioneered at Google to manage complex systems at internet scale.

       


  • Steve Suehring's CompTIA Linux+ and LPIC Practice Tests (Sybex)
        
    Possessing Linux skills is valuable in today's IT job market where demand for talent outstrips supply. Getting certified proves you have the chops to do the job, and two well worn paths to Linux certification are the Computing Technology Industry Association's CompTIA Linux+ and the Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC).  
       


  • Ubuntu Kylin, a Linux Distribution with a Microsoft Windows Experience
        
    Ubuntu Kylin is an open-source Linux distribution based on Ubuntu since 2013, mainly developed by a Chinese team alongside dozens of Linux developers all over the world. It contains the basic features you would expect from Ubuntu, plus features a desktop environment and applications.
       


  • SUSE CaaS Platform
        
    There are a lot of decisions to be made before enterprises are ready for production and deployment of container apps, asserts SUSE.
       


  • Linux Lite
        
    Linux Lite is a beginner-friendly Linux distribution that is based on the well known Ubuntu LTS and targeted at Windows users. Its mission is to provide a complete set of applications to support users' everyday computing needs, including a complete office suite, media players and other essential applications. 
       



  • ONF/ON.Lab's ONOS Project
        
    Networks have become indispensable infrastructure in modern society. The danger is that these networks tend to be closed, proprietary, complex, operationally expensive and inflexible, all of which impede innovation and progress rather than enable them.
       


  • Never Trust Yellow Fruit
        
    You've probably heard about the WiFi Pineapple from Hak5. It's a fascinating device that allows you to do some creepy pen testing. It's the sort of tool that could be used for evil, but it's also incredibly useful for securing networks. 
       



  • BlueCat DNS Edge
        
    Migration to the cloud, the flexibility of network virtualization and the promise of IoT involve IT transformations that have placed incredible strain on enterprise security.
       


  • Jetico's BestCrypt Container Encryption for Linux
        
    Cyber-attacks are now constant, threats to privacy are increasing, and more rigid regulations are looming worldwide. To help IT folks relax in the face of these challenges, Jetico updated its BestCrypt Container Encryption solution to include Container Guard.  
       


  • SQL Server on Linux
        
    When Wim Coekaerts, Microsoft's vice president for open source, took the stage at LinuxCon 2016 in Toronto last summer, he came not as an adversary, but as a longtime Linux enthusiast promising to bring the power of Linux to Microsoft and vice versa. With the recent launch of SQL Server for Linux, Coekaerts is clearly having an impact. 
       


  • Low Tech High Tech
        
    Google Cardboard should be terrible. Really, it should. It's literally made of cardboard. I remember as a kid some cereal boxes came with spy glasses you had to cut out of the box itself—and they were terrible. But Google Cardboard is amazing. Granted, you need to add your $750 Android phone to it, but that's already in your pocket anyway. 
       


  • Android Candy: the Verbification of Video Chat
        
    People who study the history of languages probably will look back at our current time and scratch their heads. We keep inventing verbs! First, Google became the verb we use for searching. Then, "Facebooking" someone became a viable way to contact them. Heck, I forgot about "texting" someone. It seems we just keep taking perfectly good nouns and making them verbs.
       


  • Why the Largest Companies in the World Count on Linux Servers
        Linux started its life in the data center as a cheaper alternative to UNIX. At the time, UNIX operating systems ruled the industry and for good reason. They were performant, fault tolerant and extremely stable. They also were very expensive and ran on very proprietary hardware.   




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


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



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




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



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





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


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


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


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


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


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


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