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Published: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 23:26:17 -0700

Last Build Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2016 23:26:17 -0700


Google Fiber puts expansion plans on hold to review strategy

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 23:17:02 -0700

Google Fiber has paused plans to roll out fiber optic cables across a number of U.S. cities, as the company reevaluates its strategy to presumably use mainly wireless to provide high-speed Internet service.

Work on Google Fiber is to continue in in the cities where it has been launched or is under construction, wrote Craig Barratt, senior vice president at Alphabet and CEO of its Access unit, of which Google Fiber is a part. In the “potential Fiber cities” where  Google Fiber was still at the stage of exploratory discussions, the project will pause operations.

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Civilization VI review: Learning from some (but not all) of history's mistakes

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:25:00 -0700

Just like that, five days are gone. I fell into quite a few “One More Turn” traps over the weekend, looked up more than once to realize it was past 3 A.M., and I come before you now having made my way through three Civilization VI campaigns.

I’ve got thoughts, both good and bad. But I’ll say this up front: Civilization VI ($60 on Steam or Amazon) is better than Civilization V was at launch.

All roads lead to nukes

A hell of a lot better, really. Oh, the honeymoon’s already worn off and people have started complaining that “Civilization VI isn’t as good as Civilization V with all its expansion packs.” The cycle continues, and I’m sure Firaxis will release at least two expansions (and then an all-encompassing Gold Edition) over the next couple years to fix some of Civ VI’s weaker points.

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Apple's Q4 2016 results: Better than expected with 45.5 million iPhones sold, but revenue continues to slide

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:10:00 -0700

Apple is gearing up to launch new Macs on Thursday, which is reportedly why it rescheduled its Q4 earnings report for Tuesday—so Macs will dominate the headlines instead of the company’s snoozeworthy (for Apple) Q4 report.

The company sold 45.5 million iPhones in the fourth quarter—also its final quarter of fiscal 2016—though that includes just two weeks of iPhone 7 sales and only the earliest signs of Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 catastrophe impact.

The iPhone sales were better than expected: Analysts had forecast 44.8 million phones shipped in Q4, which Apple handily exceeded. Apple made a $9 billion profit off of $46.9 billion in revenue in Q4, down year-over-year from an $11.1 billion profit off $51.5 billion in Q4 of 2015. And while profits and revenue are down pretty much across the board, Apple is again choosing to focus on its services, a bright spot in the company’s portfolio. Services revenue, which includes iCloud, Apple Music, iTunes, and the App Store, grew 24 percent to $6.3 billion in the fourth quarter.

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18% off Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone - Deal Alert

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 14:05:00 -0700

At home, a dorm, or in the office, the Snowball iCE USB microphone delivers crystal clear high quality audio for vocals, podcasts, narrations, Skype calls, and everything else in between. Simply mount Snowball iCE on the included adjustable stand, plug the USB cable into your Mac or PC and that’s it. You’re ready to sit back and start recording crystal-clear audio for any project. The Snowball iCE mic currently averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 1,700 people (read reviews). Its typical list price of $59.99 has been reduced 18% to $49.

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Intel wants to make its Internet of Things chips see, think, and act

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:24:00 -0700

Rolling out the internet of things means using devices as our eyes and ears and even asking them to make decisions for us. The chips at the heart of those devices play critical roles, and on Tuesday some of them got better at their jobs.

While ARM introduced two minuscule processor architectures with security features borrowed from larger chips, Intel unveiled its Atom E3900 chips with improved computer vision and industrial-grade timing.

The E3900s are designed for a wide range of applications, including manufacturing and surveillance, and they’ll soon be joined by a version specifically for vehicles, called the A3900.

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AWS quietly launches tool for migrating on-premesis apps to the cloud

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:22:31 -0700

Amazon is trying to simplify the process of moving legacy applications to the cloud with a new service that it quietly launched this week.  The aptly named Server Migration Service is designed to help IT teams set up the incremental replication of virtual machines from their on-premises infrastructure to Amazon's cloud.

More companies are adopting the public cloud to take advantage of performance benefits and cost savings. But getting legacy apps into the cloud can be a pain, especially for those applications that require high uptime but take time to migrate. Server Migration Service helps simplify that process and may lead to additional cloud adoption.

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ARM builds up security in the tiniest Internet of Things chips

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:15:00 -0700

IoT is making devices smaller, smarter, and – we hope – safer. It’s not easy to make all those things happen at once, but chips that can help are starting to emerge.

On Tuesday at ARM TechCon in Silicon Valley, ARM will introduce processors that are just a fraction of a millimeter across and incorporate the company’s TrustZone technology. TrustZone is hardware-based security built into SoC (system on chip) processors to establish a root of trust.

It’s designed to prevent devices from being hacked and taken over by intruders, a danger that’s been in the news since the discovery of the Mirai botnet, which recently took over thousands of IP cameras to mount denial-of-service attacks.

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What OneNote's Math and Replay features say about the spotty state of Windows Ink

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:07:00 -0700

One of the most significant features of Windows 10’s Anniversary Update was the addition of pen computing, known as Windows Ink, which we criticized as falling short of the average consumer’s needs. We don’t know whether any new inking features will be announced at Microsoft’s Windows event on Wednesday (or the event that follows on November 2). Recently, however, we took a deeper dive into the capabilities, when we tried the new Math and Replay features within Windows 10’s OneNote UWP app.

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BlackBerry unveils the DTEK60, pledges a secure Android experience for $499

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:04:00 -0700

BlackBerry is back with another Android phone.

This time it’s the DTEK60, the pricier sibling to the DTEK50 announced in July. This model offers better specs and comes in at $499, compared to the more modest $299 DTEK50.

For the money you get a Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, a 3000mAh battery that promises to go 24 hours, 32GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot. The screen comes in at 5.5 inches with a 2560x1440 resolution at 435 PPI. 

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Google Messenger gets a new icon, interface cleanup, and preps for RCS messaging

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:17:00 -0700

Google Messenger’s leap to version 2.0 brings a number of changes that tidy up the interface and prepare for a world of better messaging.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the icon has been revamped, with a white message bubble inside of a dark blue circle. You’ll get the circular icon regardless of whether or not you have a Pixel.


The dark blue icon is now more distinguished from Google’s phone app.

Also, several subtle improvements bring more consistency to different parts of the interface. The conversations are grouped more tightly together, which improves on the previous iteration that felt like there was too much wasted space.

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Google's massive, cloud-connected Jamboard aims to reinvent the whiteboard

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:01:00 -0700

What’s big, red, and supposed to be the next big thing in workplace collaboration? Google’s new Jamboard, a massive touch display and accompanying cloud service that’s supposed to help business users brainstorm together. 

Jamboard works like a digital whiteboard, letting users sketch out ideas, attach digital sticky notes, plus bring in content from the web into a single, constantly updating workspace. People can use Jamboard to collaborate both on the 55-inch mega-display of the same name, or using accompanying tablet and smartphone apps for iOS and Android.

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The Jamboard is available in private beta for business customers of Google’s G Suite productivity service offering starting Tuesday. The company expects to make it generally available early next year.

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Workstation software flaw exposes industrial control systems to hacking

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:00:02 -0700

The software used to program and deploy code to various Schneider Electric industrial controllers has a weakness that could allow hackers to remotely take over engineering workstations.

The software, known as Unity Pro, runs on PCs used by engineers and includes a simulator for testing code before deploying it to programmable logic controllers (PLCs). These are the specialized hardware devices that monitor and control mechanical processes -- spinning motors, opening and closing valves, etc. -- inside factories, power stations, gas refineries, public utilities and other industrial installations.

Researchers from industrial cybersecurity firm Indegy found that unauthenticated attackers could execute malicious code on Windows computers where the Unity Pro PLC simulator is installed. That code would run with debug privileges leading to a complete system compromise.

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Critical account creation flaws patched in popular Joomla CMS

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 09:56:15 -0700

The Joomla developers are warning website administrators to apply an update for the popular content management system that fixes two critical vulnerabilities.

The flaws are serious enough that the Joomla project released a prenotification about the planned update on Friday, urging everyone to be prepared to install it as soon as possible. This suggests that attacks targeting these vulnerabilities are expected to follow shortly.

Joomla 3.6.4, released Tuesday, fixes a high-priority flaw in the account creation component that could be exploited to create accounts on a Joomla-based website even if user registration has been disabled on it.

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Beleaguered Samsung now fending off reports of Galaxy S7 Edge phones catching fire

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 09:21:00 -0700

The smoke still hasn’t cleared from Samsung’s Note7 debacle, and along come new reports that Galaxy S7 Edge phones are also catching fire.

There are two recent incidents to go on. PhoneArena says someone from a “big U.S. wireless carrier” contacted the site about a Galaxy S7 Edge that exploded while charging overnight using Samsung’s official charger. 

Another S7 Edge user in Canada posted pictures of his phone, which he said “burst into flames” while driving. He said he tossed the phone out the window of his car and then covered it with snow to extinguish it. 

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Opera 41 speeds up start times for tab addicts

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:42:00 -0700

The latest version of the Opera browser just rolled out, promising faster start-up times especially for users who open numerous tabs at once.

The new update, Opera 41, also boosts battery life when using video calling over WebRTC and when watching videos in pop-out mode.

More tabs, efficient tabs

The major change for Opera 41 is a new “smarter startup sequence.” When you launch the browser it will automatically load the tab you were using most recently. Then Opera 41 loads pinned tabs (if you have any), and then the rest of your tabs in decreasing priority.

Opera says that during its tests, start-up time in Opera 41 improved by 86 percent on average for a browser with 42 or more tabs open, compared to Opera 40. If you’re a more modest browser user with about 10 tabs open at once, the new start-up routine can still improve your “boot” time by about 50 percent.

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Google buys eye-tracking VR firm Eyefluence

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:35:00 -0700

Google has acquired a 3-year-old eye-tracking company for virtual and augmented reality headsets, signaling the tech giant's interest in the immersive technologies.

Eyefluence, founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneurs Jim Marggraff and David Stiehr, develops eye-interaction technologies to control VR and AR headsets. "Eyes can instantaneously transform intent into action, enabling communication as fast as you can see," the company says. 

The deal with Google was announced Tuesday. "With our forces combined, we will continue to advance eye-interaction technology to expand human potential and empathy on an even larger scale," Eyefluence said in a blog post.

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IBM is folding SoftLayer into its Bluemix cloud services portfolio

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:28:49 -0700

OpenStack users running their workloads on IBM's SoftLayer public cloud infrastructure took it calmly when the company's object storage development lead, Brian Cline, announced that SoftLayer is going away.

Cline opened his presentation with the news at the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona on Tuesday.

But it's not as bad as it sounds. The same services will still be available from the same servers, managed through the same SoftLayer control portal: Only the brand is going away.

IBM is going to replace the SoftLayer name with Bluemix, its broader cloud platform, making SoftLayer services just another page in the Bluemix catalog of infrastructure, platform and application services.

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Azure brings SQL Server Analysis Services to the cloud

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:00:00 -0700

SQL Server Analysis Services, one of the key features of Microsoft's relational database enterprise offering, is going to the cloud. The company announced Tuesday that it's launching the public beta of Azure Analysis Services, which gives users cloud-based access to semantic data modeling tools.

The news is part of a host of announcements the company is making at the Professional Association for SQL Server Summit in Seattle this week. On top of the new cloud service, Microsoft also released new tools for migrating to the latest version of SQL Server and an expanded free trial for Azure SQL Data Warehouse. On the hardware side, the company revealed new reference architecture for using SQL Server 2016 with active data sets of up to 145TB.

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Microsoft's graveyard: 8 products Microsoft killed in 2016

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 07:29:00 -0700


Microsoft has rolled out plenty of new things in 2016, including the latest edition of Windows Server, additions to its Azure cloud platform and increased availability of its futuristic HoloLens mixed reality technology. But as always, the company has had to make room for the new by ditching some of the old. Here’s a roundup of products, services and more that Microsoft rid itself of in 2016. (Here’s our broader 2016 Tech Industry Graveyard and our 2016 Google Graveyard.)

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AT&T's 'radically' affordable DirecTV Now streaming TV service launches in November

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 07:18:00 -0700

Paying attention pays off! Amid all the excitement about AT&T’s planned acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed that DirecTV Now will roll out in November. AT&T announced the service in March as one of three online streaming services the company planned to introduce.

When it first teased DirecTV Now, AT&T said there would be a variety of packages that included both live and on-demand content. There would also be premium add-ons just like your regular cable subscription, as well as services like Sling TV. Stephenson didn’t elaborate on any specifics about channel choices or add-ons, but during an interview with CNBC he did say there would be a 100 channel bundle. Stephenson also said during a call with market analysts discussing the Time Warner deal that DirecTV Now would be a “mobile-centric product.”

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Best Deals of the Week, October 17th - October 21st - Deal Alert

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:46:00 -0700

Best Deals of the Week, October 17th - October 21st - Deal Alert

Check out this roundup of the best deals on gadgets, gear and other cool stuff we have found this week, the week of October 17th. All items are highly rated, and dramatically discounted.

75% off DKnight MagicBox II Bluetooth 4.0 Portable Wireless speaker, 10W Output Power with Enhanced Bass

The DKnightMagicBox II Bluetooth speaker offers great quality sound with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 technology. It features two highly powerful 40mm total 10W acoustic drivers for excellent sound. With the ultra-compact size and the soft touch rubber design, it can be easily fitted into a backpack, suitcase, or a travel bag. The built-in 2000 mAh rechargeable battery enables an 10-12 hours of playtime on a single charge. This speaker is strong enough to fill up a kitchen, living room, or classroom. It is ideal for personal usage, indoor party or outdoor BBQ or picnic with friends and family. This portable speaker averages 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 8,700 people (read reviews). With a typical list price of $129.99, this 75% off deal is just $32.99. Check out buying options now at Amazon.

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20% off APC Back-UPS 600VA 7-outlet Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) with USB Charging Port - Deal Alert

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:38:00 -0700

The new APC Back-UPS BE600M1 provides instant battery power to your critical electronics when the power goes out, keeping you connected and available both personally and professionally. Designed specifically to enhance the features that matter most to you, including more runtime, more battery backup outlets, and a USB port for charging convenience, the BE600M1 is also smaller and lighter than the previous model. APC's BE600M1 offers guaranteed surge and lightning protection for attached devices.  When the power goes out, the APC BE600M1 will power critical devices including home networking equipment; allowing you to maintain your internet connection. This allows you to work productively, avoid the loss of valuable data, and safely shut down equipment. It currently averages 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 4,400 people on Amazon (read reviews), where its typical list price of $74.99 has been reduced 20% to $59.95.

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US transport agency guidance on vehicle cybersecurity irks lawmakers

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:25:00 -0700

Guidance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for improving motor vehicle cybersecurity has attracted criticism from lawmakers who said that mandatory security standards were required.

“This new cybersecurity guidance from the Department of Transportation is like giving a take-home exam on the honor code to failing students,” said Senators Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, who are both members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

“In this new Internet of Things era, we cannot let safety, cybersecurity, and privacy be an afterthought,” the senators added.

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Lyft customers face potential hack from recycled phone numbers

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:23:00 -0700

Giving up an old cell phone number for a new one may seem harmless. But for Lyft customers, it can potentially expose their accounts to complete strangers.

That’s what happened to Lara Miller, a media relations specialist living in California. Earlier this month, she discovered two credit card charges made in Las Vegas, over 400 miles away.

“I thought it was legit fraud on my debit card,” Miller said.  

But in reality, another woman had accidentally taken over her old Lyft account. It happened because the phone company had recycled the cell phone number Miller had canceled back in April—opening the door to the hack.

The problem involves Lyft’s login process. The ride-hailing app does away with the hassle of usernames and passwords, and instead signs up customers with their smartphone’s cell number.

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For cordless VR and more, WiGig may be worth the wait

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:17:00 -0700

The stars are finally aligned for WiGig, an ultra-fast, short-range wireless network that took a long time to become a reality.

On Monday, the Wi-Fi Alliance launched a certification process for WiGig products, which will go as fast as 8Gbps (bits per second) and could include virtual-reality headsets and high-speed office Wi-Fi zones.

The technology was announced in 2009 and is based on a standard, IEEE 802.11ad, that’s now available in some shipping products. But the official WiGig logo will assure buyers that networks and devices from different vendors can work together out of the box. That’s a crucial issue for almost anyone investing in network gear.

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti review: The new budget gaming champions

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 06:00:00 -0700

After months of focusing on the high end, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10-series is finally trickling down to the masses. The $109 GeForce GTX 1050 and its bigger brother, the $139 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, are a pair of affordable new graphics cards designed to ease introductions into PC gaming. 

At those prices, it’s clear that Nvidia’s aiming directly at the Radeon RX 460’s jugular—prompting AMD to launch preemptive price cuts. But the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti are more than fresh foot soldiers in the never-ending war between AMD and Nvidia. While the older GTX 950 required the use of an extra six-pin power connector for most of its life, the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti assume the mantle of the popular GTX 750 Ti by sipping a mere 75 watts of power, allowing them to draw all needed energy via your motherboard alone. That means you can slap Nvidia’s new cards into a prebuilt “big box” PC from the likes of HP and Dell to transform them into full-fledged gaming machines with minimal hassle—a trick that 2GB variants of the Radeon RX 460 can also perform.

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How to pin the Recent Items folder to File Explorer in Windows 10

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 05:00:00 -0700

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The best tips and tricks to get the most out of your Pixel phone

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 04:00:00 -0700

The first true Google phone has a lot of powerful features, but for some of them you'll need to know where to look.

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Origin EON17-X review: Hot and loud, but oh so fast

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 03:30:00 -0700

A time will come when we stop referring to machines like the Origin EON17-X as “notebooks.” Instead, we’ll just call them what they are: ultra-compact desktops with built-in displays.

Sure, you can pick up these laptops and take them with you, assuming you have a dolly or a gym membership. But aside from the form factor, systems like the EON17-X are desktop-class from top to bottom: Companies making high-end gaming PCs were already stuffing their notebooks with desktop CPUs, and now that Nvidia’s Pascal “mobile” parts are essentially the same as their desktop counterparts, there’s nothing particularly notebook-y about these machines anymore. Heck, they’re not even a “desktop replacement” for most people, but more like a desktop upgrade.

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D-Link DCS-5030L HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Camera review: This camera covers a lot of ground

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 03:00:00 -0700

Although DIY home security cameras can seem interchangeable, no model is suitable for every need. It’s a fact D-link has capitalized on by offering an array of models, from basic nanny cams to serious surveillance models to weatherproof cameras for outdoor monitoring. It recently expanded its offerings with the DCS-5030L HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Camera, aimed at users with big rooms or active kids and pets to keep an eye on. It’s not the most attractive camera we’ve seen, but what it lacks on looks it makes up for in features.

What you get

With its bulky dome shape, circle of lights, and prominent antenna, the DCS-5030L resembles something out of a 1950s space-art poster. Its wide base allows you to set it on any flat surface without worrying it will tip over. You can also give it a more permanent spot on your ceiling with the included mounting bracket. In either case, it’s going to be pretty conspicuous; this isn’t a camera that blends easily with home decor.

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