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Oracle Pulls Plug on Java Browser Plug-In
January 30, 2016
Oracle earlier this week announced its decision to scrap its Java browser plug-in. The plug-in, a frequent target of hackers, won't be included in the next version of JDK 9, which is expected to ship in September. Oracle's action was motivated by browser makers' withdrawal of support for the plug-in. Developers of applications that depend on it need to consider alternatives, the company said.
Google, Movidius to Bring Deep Learning to Mobile Devices
January 29, 2016
Movidius on Wednesday announced that it's working with Google to put deep learning on mobile devices. Google will source Movidius' latest flagship chip -- the MA2450 -- and software development environment, and will contribute to Movidius' neural network technology road map in return. That could result in mobile devices that will be able to understand images and audio swiftly and accurately.
Google's AlphaGo Defeats Human Master of Ancient Game
January 29, 2016
Research at Google on Wednesday announced that AlphaGo has become the first computer software system to beat a human at the ancient game of Go. There are more possible positions in Go than there are the number of atoms in the universe, and it has a googol more positions than chess, Google pointed out. That complexity makes it difficult for computers to play Go.
Feds Embrace Salesforce Platform Offerings
January 28, 2016
The U.S. government has authorized an information technology contract with a potential value of $503 million that is designed to meet newly adopted goals for greatly improving IT acquisition. The General Services Administration, which issued the contract for software and cloud-related services, described the acquisition approach as a first-of-its-kind initiative.
Wall Street Backs Off Apple
January 28, 2016
Their fears confirmed, investors were bearish on Apple Wednesday, the day after the company reported its slowest-growth quarter ever. The company's shares closed the day at $93.44, down 6.55 percent. In its Q1 earnings report, Apple prepared investors for what may come next: its weakest quarter for iPhone sales in 13 years. Even worse is its gloomy forecast for next quarter's iPhone sales.
Suggestion Glitch Crashes Safari Browser
January 27, 2016
Apple's Safari browser has been crashing on Macs and iOS devices when users launch a search through its address bar, according to reports on Wednesday. OS X and iOS users worldwide have been affected, according to The Verge, which confirmed the problem on several iOS devices and at least one OS X machine. One of the first mentions of the glitch was a tweet by app developer Phillip Caudell.
Fast Times With Nelum OS
January 26, 2016
Nelum OS is a light and fast live-installable Linux distribution family offering three separate releases. The distro is a brand-new entry to the land of Linux, with its initial release posted earlier this month. It is an unusual twist on what you usually see with a Linux release. For example, the virtual desktops can be changed simply by scrolling the mouse wheel or finger scrolling the touchpad.
DARPA Challenges Researchers to Link Human Brains With Computers
January 26, 2016
The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, last week announced a new program that aims to build a connection between the human brain and the digital world. To achieve the goals of the Neural Engineering System Design program, DARPA has invited proposals to design, build, demonstrate and validate a human-computer interface.
Zero-Day Flaw Puts Millions of Linux Machines, Android Devices at Risk
January 21, 2016
Tens of millions of Linux PCs and servers, as well as 66 percent of all Android mobile devices, are vulnerable to a zero-day flaw that could allow users with lower-level privileges to gain root access, according to Perception Point, which announced its discovery last week. The local privilege escalation vulnerability, which affects Linux Kernel v3.8 and higher, has existed since 2012, the firm said.
Deepin Takes Linux to New Depths
January 18, 2016
The latest release of the Linux distro now called "Depth OS" deserves serious consideration. It is fast, reliable and innovative, with an impressive homegrown desktop design dubbed "Deepin Desktop Environment." Depth OS has a bit of an identity problem. The open source community that developed the distro seems to have a difficult time deciding what to call it.
Microsoft Prods Skylake Users to Take the Windows 10 Plunge
January 18, 2016
Microsoft last week announced that within the next 18 months, it will end support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on machines equipped with Intel's 6th generation Core processors, also known as "Skylake." As of mid-July next year, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Skylake systems, and only the most critical security fixes will be released for earlier versions of Windows.
IDC: There's Hope on the PC Horizon
January 18, 2016
IDC last week reported worldwide PC shipments totaled nearly 72 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 10.6 percent year over year -- the largest YoY decline ever. While shipments in Q4 were slightly higher than in Q3, 2015 was the first year since 2008 that fewer than 300 million PCs were shipped. Longer PC life cycles and economic issues contributed to the poor results.
What the PC Industry Could Learn From the NRA
January 18, 2016
One of the fascinating things about the NRA is that buyers of guns think the organization represents them, when in fact its mission is to represent gun sellers -- not gun buyers -- and certainly never gun buyers against gun sellers. Guns for consumers largely have been banned in most of the world, with the exception of the U.S., which uniquely has the NRA.
Dronecode Project Gets More Wind Beneath Its Wings
January 14, 2016
The Linux Foundation this week announced an expansion of the Dronecode project with investments from new members and the creation of three technical working groups. The foundation launched the open source project in 2014 in an effort to create a unified platform for commercial drone technology. Twenty-seven companies have joined Dronecode since, bringing membership to 51, officials said.
Samsung Snaps Up Snapdragon 820 Chip Manufacturing Deal
January 14, 2016
Samsung Electronics on Thursday announced that it had struck a deal that will make it the sole manufacturer of Qualcomm's flagship mobile processor. Samsung last spring began mass production of a logic chip utilizing its 14-nanometer LPP (Low-Power Plus) process in its own Exynos 8 Octa processor. That process will be used for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip.
Black Duck Intros Container Scanning
January 13, 2016
Black Duck Software on Tuesday announced it has added to its Hub software container-scanning capabilities that let users map open source security flaws for applications, Linux distros, and other software in Docker and other Linux containers. Adding a containerized scanner to a Docker host enables automatic identification of known open source vulnerabilities in all layers of containers on the host.
Solus Project's Virtues Begin and End With Stability
January 11, 2016
The Solus Project is much like the little engine that still can't function. Version 1.0 was released last month as the first stable release from the twice-revamped Linux distro. Solus is built from scratch for the x86_64 architecture around a rewritten Budgie homemade desktop environment. Budgie offers a simplified approach to implementing the look and feel of older-style GNOME 2 functionality.
Behind the Scenes at CES
January 11, 2016
CES surprised me again this year. For a show that comes too early in the year for most buyers and companies, it still stood out as having some truly amazing things. It will be remembered for showcasing the birth of personal flight vehicles, along with a Tesla-beating car, and Ford showing how it could do what Apple couldn't. I'll fill you in on some of the back stories at CES.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
Uber Settles With New York AG After 'Playing God' With Data
January 8, 2016
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced a deal that would require Uber to encrypt geolocation information about its riders, as well as enhance its data security practices. The AG opened an investigation into Uber in 2014, in response to allegations that the service had tracked riders and displayed their locations in an aerial format, known internally as the "God View."
Hack Lets PS4 Run Linux
January 7, 2016
Hacking team fail0verflow last week demonstrated a hack of Sony's PlayStation 4 game console that allows anyone running the modification to run the Linux OS on the appliance. The demo was part of a lightning talk session at the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress. The hackers used exploits in FreeBSD, PS4's operating system and WebKit, which powers the game console's browser.
Iranian Cyberattack on American Dam Viewed As Rarity
January 7, 2016
Just days before Christmas, a rare event occurred: the report of a successful intrusion into America's infrastructure by overseas hackers. The event -- penetration of the control system of a dam 20 miles from New York City -- happened more than two years ago but wasn't made until last month. Cloaking such incidents in secrecy is standard operating procedure for industries that use control systems.
Elementary OS' Freya Dumbs Down Linux
January 6, 2016
The release last month of Elementary OS Freya version 0.3.2 showed little has changed in this new-style Linux distro that wraps its own lightweight desktop design around the Ubuntu core. I liked the beta release's fresh look and simplified approach to desktop management. However, my hopes for more features and a faster-evolving desktop environment in the latest release went unfulfilled.
China Levels Antitrust Allegations Against Microsoft
January 6, 2016
China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce on Tuesday launched the latest in a series of investigations against Microsoft for possible violations of the country's antimonopoly law. Back in July 2014, about 100 SAIC officials burst into four Microsoft offices in various parts of China and copied contracts and records, downloaded data from company servers, and questioned executives.
PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
Windows 10 Adoption Surges, but Many Users Cling to Windows 7
January 4, 2016
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Windows 10 operating system is now active on more than 200 million devices. Windows 10 adoption accelerated at the end of 2015, with more than 40 percent of new devices activated since Black Friday, said Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi. However, it trails the more than decade-old Windows XP and Windows 8.1 in terms of overall Web traffic, NetMarketShare reported.
Hats Off to Chapeau Linux's Better Fedora Concept
January 4, 2016
The Chapeau project's latest version arrived last month and is a good choice for enterprise users who want something a step above the traditional Fedora distro. An iconic Linux distro, Fedora is a very popular choice in enterprise shops, but it's less than ideal for home and SMB use without an IT staff to make it work. That is where Chapeau 23 comes to the rescue.
Backspace Flaw Enables Linux Zero-Day Attack
December 28, 2015
Researchers last week revealed a zero-day flaw that lets attackers take over a Linux system by pressing the backspace key repeatedly. Pressing backspace 17 to 20 times will overwrite the highest byte of the return address of the grub_memset() function, ultimately causing a reboot by redirecting control flow to the 0x00eb53e8 address, according to the Cybersecurity Group at the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia.
Looking Ahead to 2016
December 28, 2015
Next week is CES, and I am so looking forward to coming home from that show. It used to be a lot of fun, but it covers such a massive amount of space that just getting around takes up much of the time. Given that most folks do prebriefings if they are smart, and that most of the really cool stuff is behind closed doors and not on the show floor, every year I question the intelligence of going.
10 Things on an Apple Fan's 2016 Wish List
December 22, 2015
When your favorite consumer tech company is also the best consumer tech company in the world, and said tech company is generally a magnet for hyperbole and blind customer loyalty -- while also producing more products at higher levels of quality than ever before -- what's left to really wish for? Plenty, it turns out. I'm not talking about a new Apple car or even any special new product category.
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