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Published: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 02:10:12 -0800

Last Build Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 02:10:12 -0800

 



Samsung still struggling with the recovery of Note7 phones from users

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 23:33:33 -0800

Samsung’s recall of Galaxy Note7 smartphones because of exploding batteries is far from complete with some users, for example, in Canada still not turning in their devices for a refund or exchange.

The South Korean company has now decided to cut these phones from the network, adopting similar measures to those taken last month in New Zealand and earlier this month in Australia.

The company said Wednesday that from Dec. 12 functional limitations on Note7 phones, including curbs on the battery charge, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disablement will be introduced in Canada.

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Microsoft-Qualcomm deal finally puts Windows 10 and Win32 apps on ARM devices

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:24:00 -0800

Windows RT tried, and failed, to deliver a full-fledged Windows environment on top of anemic ARM microprocessors. Now, Microsoft is trying again, with two major improvements: compatibility with the mainstream Win32 apps that PC users have enjoyed for years, and a new generation of powerful ARM chips to run them.

At its Windows Hardware Engineering (WinHEC) conference in Shenzhen, China, Microsoft said Thursday morning that it's partnered with Qualcomm to enable new, low-cost PCs. These are intended to replace Windows tablets built around Intel’s Atom, a chip the company's essentially discontinued.

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Microsoft wants to enable cellular PCs, but will carriers bite?

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:09:00 -0800

Spending time traveling can be a frustrating exercise in trying to find Wi-Fi. So much modern work often requires an internet connection, and while it’s possible to tether smartphones to PCs to help bridge the connectivity gap, that’s a clunky solution.

Microsoft is aiming to help with that by supporting the installation of non-removable programmable SIM cards and data radios in PCs and Windows tablets. In the company's vision, users will then be able to purchase cellular data for those cards through the Windows Store. The announcement was made Thursday at the company’s WinHEC conference for device manufacturers in Shenzhen, China.

By enabling the new form of internet access, Microsoft could give users an easy way to get online right from their computer, and encourage manufacturers to build cellular-capable devices. Users would also get settings to help them better manage the use of data plans, so it’s easier for them to control how much data apps can suck up.

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New Windows 10 Insider Build allows you to shut down your PC with your voice

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:05:00 -0800

In its latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build, Microsoft has given you the power to shut down or restart your PC by your voice alone—a convenience that also may allow pranksters of all stripes to wreak havoc.

Microsoft rolled out Preview Build 14986 of Windows 10 to insiders in the Fast ring on Wednesday, on the first day of its Windows Hardware Engineering conference (WinHEC) in Shenzhen, China. It’s a rather substantial build, offering the ability to restart, lock, or shut down your PC via Cortana. It allows you more freedom to control your music via Cortana, provides better PC game support via the Windows Game Bar, includes a Windows Defender dashboard, features improved Windows Ink capabilities, and much more. The new build also ships with specific improvements for customers in Asia, including a better typing experience for Chinese keyboards. 

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Intel, Microsoft renew 'Wintel' partnership with Project Evo and VR specs for PCs

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:05:00 -0800

On Wednesday night, Microsoft and Intel reforged their traditional “Wintel” partnership with a collaboration called “Project Evo” in which the two companies said that they will work together to improve how PCs think, see and hear. Their initiatives include everything from improved security and authentication to gaming innovations and “mixed reality” experiences.

Microsoft made the announcement at its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Shenzhen, China, an event where Microsoft works with hardware partners to define the future of the PC and related devices.

Much of this collaboration involves Intel, which helps provide the hardware reference designs that inform computers and other products made by manufacturers like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. This year’s WinHEC is being held six months after Microsoft declared its intentions to bring Windows 10 to virtual reality devices, and to help the five aforementioned hardware companies develop inexpensive head-mounted VR displays. To this end, Intel used WinHEC 2016 to unveil the PC specifications for those VR devices, and also announced its Project Evo partnership with Microsoft.

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Bluetooth 5 is out: Now will home IoT take off?

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:33:20 -0800

Bluetooth is aiming straight for the internet of things as the fifth version of the wireless protocol arrives with twice as much speed for low-power applications.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which gains the most from the new Bluetooth 5 specification, can now go as fast as 2Mbps (bits per second) and typically can cover a whole house or a floor of a building, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said Wednesday. Those features could help to make it the go-to network for smart homes and some enterprise sites.

The home IoT field is pretty open right now because most people haven’t started buying things like connected thermostats and door locks, ABI Research analyst Avi Greengart said. Bluetooth starts out with an advantage over its competition because it’s built into most smartphones and tablets, he said. Alternatives like ZigBee and Z-Wave often aren’t.

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9 free 'round-the-clock streaming apps for low-effort TV watching

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:33:00 -0800

Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime excel at delivering on-demand video, but sometimes you don’t want to pick from an endless list of movies and TV shows. You might not even care that much about what’s on, provided it’s palatable enough to play in the background while you’re doing other things.

For this type of lean-back, passive viewing, you’ll want a video app that has some kind of ‘round-the-clock streaming element, so you can start watching with minimal effort. These types of apps have become more commonplace over the last couple years, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a few that match your interests. Here’s a list of our favorites:

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A Turkish hacker is giving out prizes for DDoS attacks

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:25:06 -0800

A hacker in Turkey has been trying to encourage distributed denial-of-attacks by making it into a game, featuring points and prizes for attempting to shut down political websites.

The DDoS platform, translated as Surface Defense in English, has been prompting other hackers in Turkey to sign up and score points, according to security firm Forcepoint which uncovered it.

Users that participate will be given a tool known as Balyoz, the Turkish word for Sledgehammer, that can be used to launch DDoS attacks against a select number of websites.

For every ten minutes they attack a website, the users will be awarded a point, which can then be used to obtain rewards. These prizes include a more powerful DDoS attacking tool, access to bots designed to generate revenue from click fraud,  and a prank program that can infect a computer and scare the victim with sounds and images.

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Qualcomm's new chip may be too late as ARM server market fades

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:50:00 -0800

After more than half a decade in the making, ARM server chips should have struck gold by now, but they haven't. ARM servers were projected to be approaching a double-digit server market share, but they still are virtually non-existent.

Keeping market realities in mind, Qualcomm earlier this year said it would take a wait-and-watch approach before making a splash with its ARM server chips. While ARM servers adoption has been poor, Qualcomm decided to go ahead and launch the chips.

In the making for two years, Qualcomm's Centriq 2400 server chips have 48 cores and are now being sent as samples to companies. Volume shipments of the chips will start in the second half next year.

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Democrats unveil bill to probe Russia's role in alleged election hacks

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:50:00 -0800

U.S. lawmakers are pushing for a government probe into whether Russia may have interfered with the presidential election by hacking high-profile political targets.  

On Wednesday, two Democratic representatives unveiled legislation that proposes to form a 12-member bipartisan commission to investigate the electronic means Russia may have used to influence the U.S. election.

"Regardless of whether you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else, Russia’s attacks on our election are an attempt to degrade our democracy," said Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, one of the sponsors of the bill.

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T-Mobile's Digits looks to expand your phone number to all of your devices

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:11:00 -0800

T-Mobile is no stranger to shaking up the mobile world, having previously unveiled unlimited video streaming, streamlined data plans and hassle-free device upgrades, and now it has a new Un-carrier trick up its sleeve: a single number for all your devices and multiple numbers on a single device.

Called Digits, the unique program lets you share your T-Mobile number with any Internet-connected device, including smartwatches, computers, and tablets. As the company explains in its press release, “Just log in and, bam, your call history, messages, and even voicemail are all there. And it’s always your same number, so when you call or text from another device, it shows up as you.”

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Halo 5: Forge's multiplayer is now more accessible on PC with a new custom game browser

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:14:00 -0800

When Halo 5: Forge launched on PC over the summer I think many people went through the same set of events as I did: 1) Download it, excited. Free Halo multiplayer! 2) Notice it’s impossible to set up a match unless your Xbox friends are also online. 3) Delete it.

It was a shame. Here was Halo multiplayer on the PC, at long last, but practically unplayable without any sort of matchmaking or server browser. And to be fair, Microsoft did tell us that Forge was more about creating custom maps than playing them. It just did so while dangling the idea of playing them in front of us.

(image)

Get your Needlers ready, though. As part of a massive Halo 5 console patch releasing this week, Halo 5: Forge finally gets that much-needed custom game browser. From the patch notes:

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Amazon replaces cashiers with AI and computer learning

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 10:56:00 -0800

Amazon wants customers to be able to leave their wallets at home and still go shopping, as long as they have their smartphones on hand.

The online retail giant is opening up a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle called Amazon Go, and the store uses a mix of sensors and computer learning to track what items customers pick up and to automatically add them to their Amazon accounts.

Amazon identifies each customer using a QR code, which individuals scan before entering the store. The store offers groceries, ready-made food, and Amazon meal kits. Currently, Amazon Go is only accessible to the company’s employees, but Amazon says it will open its doors to the public in early 2017. 

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Ubisoft's 30th anniversary putters across the finish line with free copies of Assassin's Creed III

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 10:35:00 -0800

Ubisoft has given away some truly excellent games in 2016 to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Since June, players have been able to scoop up free copies of Beyond Good & Evil, Rayman Legends, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and more. So what classic gem did they choose to end on?

Assassin’s Creed III, a.k.a. The Most Boring Assassin’s Creed. Well, maybe slightly less boring than the original, but that’s not saying much at all. Starring the bland and incredibly petulant Connor in his quest to sleep through all his lines, Assassin’s Creed III takes you to all the best parts of the American Revolution and then steers you through the most generic missions it can think of.

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$49 Windows tablets, $1,000 PC discounts, and 50% off Xbox games highlight Microsoft deals

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:53:00 -0800

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have come and gone. But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from publishing some fairly amazing deals over the next 12 days, half of which you’ll need to visit a brick-and-mortar Microsoft store to score.

Since the deals kick off on December 5, you have until Monday to plan your purchases. And you will need to plan them, too: The 12 Days of Deals unlock each day and are only good “while supplies last.” Naturally, you’ll have to line up at a physical Microsoft Store if you want to score a “doorbuster.” 

Some of the deals are well worth the trouble. Microsoft will offer up to $1,000 off on select PCs on two separate days, for example, and there are a number of half-off deals on Xbox One games, too. Another intriguing deal is a $49 Windows tablet on Friday, December 9. Microsoft’s best deals, however, are shrouded in mystery: The company isn’t revealing which tablet will be $49, or what PCs it will be discounting by $1,000. 

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29% off World Travel Power Plug Adapter with Dual USB Charger - Deal Alert

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:36:00 -0800

Get 14% off the highly rated M8 all-in-one world travel power adapter from Orei, plus an additional 15% when you check the "apply coupon" box on Amazon right now. This gadget features built-in sliders that create the right adapter for any country you find yourself in. It's all self-contained -- no additional parts to attach or keep track of. As a bonus, they've included dual-USB ports to keep your devices juiced up as well. The M8 adapter averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 2,200 people (read reviews). Its typical list price of $28.99 has been reduced 14% to $24.99, but if you click the "Apply Coupon" button, you'll activate an additional 15% discount on the already discounted price, putting it at just over $21. See this deal on Amazon.

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Best Bluetooth speakers

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:22:00 -0800

Last updated December 7, 2016 to include our review of the Fluance Fi50 Bluetooth Wood Speaker.. 

There was a time when Bluetooth speakers were like jelly beans: They were cheap, they all looked the same, and they were invariably of dubious quality. Times have changed. Every major audio manufacturer has at least one model on the market today, and most have several. If you haven’t listened to a Bluetooth speaker lately, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise.

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36% off OWI Super Solar Recycler Kit - Deal Alert

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:06:00 -0800

Before you chuck that CD ROM, soda can or plastic bottle, exercise your kids imagination with this kit from OWI that turns your recyclables into a solar-powered robot, race car, boat, or whatever they can dream up with this kit full of gears, motors, a solar panel and more. The Super Solar Recycler Kit is powered completely by natural light so you never have to worry about batteries. It averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, where its typical list price of $24.99 has been reduced 36% to just $16.05. See the discounted OWI Solar Recycling Kit now on Amazon.

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Google and Slack deepen partnership in the face of Microsoft Teams

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 09:00:00 -0800

Slack and Google have vastly deepened their partnership roughly a month after Microsoft announced its competitor to the popular enterprise chat service.

Wednesday saw the announcement of several new features aimed at making G Suite, Google’s set of productivity software and services, more useful to people who use Slack. The functionality resulting from the partnership will make it easier to share and work on files stored in Google Drive using Slack.

Slack and Google were early partners during the lifecycle of the chat service which gives business users a set of rooms where they can discuss work, share files and more. Microsoft recently announced Teams, a similar service integrated into Office 365 that’s currently in beta.

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Fitbit scoops up rival fitness tracker maker Pebble

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 08:47:00 -0800

Fitbit, the maker of popular fitness trackers, has acquired assets owned by rival Pebble, including key employees and intellectual property related to software and firmware development.

The deal, which was reported last week, closed on Tuesday, Fitbit announced on Wednesday. Amid slumping sales in the overall smartwatch market, Fitbit was interested in the PebbleOS, which has a large number of apps running on it and can be paired with both Apple’s iOS and Android.

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Google trims the size of app updates with new data-saving technique

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 08:09:00 -0800

With millions of apps in the Play Store and enough space on our phones to comfortably store hundreds of them, updating can be a tedious, data-chomping process. Earlier this year, Google announced it was using a new Delta algorithm that reduced the size of updates by as much as half when compared to the old way of downloading APKs. Now it’s taking it a bit further in a continued push to save you time, space, and money.

The new approach, called file-by-file patching, creates updates that are as much as 90 percent smaller than the full app. On average, the process trims download size by 65 percent, saving users some 6 petabytes of cumulative data each day, according to Google’s estimates. As Andrew Hayden, software engineer on Google Play, explains in a post on the Android Developers Blog:

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Latest Android security update fixes Dirty COW, GPS vulnerabilities

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:59:29 -0800

The monthly Android security update released this week fixes the serious Dirty COW privilege escalation attack that can allow malicious apps to take full control of devices.

Dirty COW (copy-on-write) is a privilege escalation vulnerability that has existed in the Linux kernel for the past nine years and is already being exploited in the wild. It affects Android because the mobile OS is based on Linux, but it was initially believed that the SELinux security policies enforced by default in Android provided some mitigation against the attack.

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YouTube's top trending videos for 2016

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:42:00 -0800

YouTube Rewind, the popular video site’s annual review, is due out Wednesday at 10 a.m. PST. Leading up to the big reveal, the Google-owned property released its list of the top 10 trending videos for 2016 to several news outlets including Variety.

The list includes the indescribable madness of carpool karaoke, scientific inquiry, John Oliver, and Vlogger Casey Neistat. This year’s list is interesting because while it does have some weird items that are part of the YouTube tradition. There’s also a lot of particularly mundane items like a six-minute short from a sportswear company and a guided tour of first class. These videos received  550 million views and have been watched for over 25 million hours combined.

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10 best sites and services to sell used tech

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:24:00 -0800

At the end of each year, many of us attempt to turn the technology we no longer need into cash. You could be cleaning out the drawers or closets to which you banished old gadgets. Perhaps you treated yourself to a Surface Studio or MacBook Pro and need some extra money to pay for that pricey new computer.

Whatever your reason, selling used tech is much easier today than in the past. You used to have to make multiple decisions just to create a new eBay listing. Now the process of listing an item for sale, or getting a quote, often takes only a few minutes, and many more options exist than ever before.  

Here’s a guide to 10 of the best websites and mobile apps we’ve found for selling used tech, listed in no particular order.   

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The security gift guide

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:20:00 -0800

Even more than most IT professionals, security professionals are asked for advice on a regular basis. We are supposed to know not just about computers in general, but how people can protect themselves both online and in the real world. Whether it is getting a printer working, or if it is safe to shop online, we are expected to have the answers.

At the same time, shopping for gifts can be problematic. You’re never sure what people have. Some people provide gift lists, which are great. But in the absence of a specific request, you might as well give people something useful that might make things easier for you. This guide can be useful even if you are not a security professional. Also remember that security is not just about stopping hackers, but about providing confidentiality, integrity, and availability in all forms.

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Malicious online ads expose millions to possible hack

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 07:12:00 -0800

Since October, millions of internet users have been exposed to malicious code served from the pixels in tainted banner ads meant to install Trojans and spyware, according to security firm ESET.

The attack campaign, called Stegano, has been spreading from malicious ads in a “number of reputable news websites,” ESET said in a Tuesday blog post. It’s been preying on Internet Explorer users by scanning for vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and then exploiting them.

The attack is designed to infect victims with malware that can steal email password credentials through its keylogging and screenshot grabbing features, among others.

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SoftBank gives more detail about $50B US investment

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:59:46 -0800

Masayoshi Son, CEO of Japanese telecom firm SoftBank, plans to invest US$50 billion and create 50,000 jobs in the U.S. by pumping money into startups, he said after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.

Son gave few details Tuesday after the meeting with Trump, but he said his focus would be on U.S. startup companies. Son came to meet Trump and to celebrate the Republican's election victory.

The $50 billion is half of an already announced $100 billion investment by SoftBank in the global technology industry over the next five years, Son later told the Wall Street Journal. That investment, done in partnership with Saudi Arabia's public investment fund, was announced in October.

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Duo’s first major update puts an emphasis on better video quality

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:58:00 -0800

When Google launched its standalone video-calling app Duo in August, it promised simple, high-quality conferencing to rival the FaceTime experience on iOS. With a new update to version 5 currently rolling out in the Play Store, Google's streamlining its new system a little more, making it easier to get started and better to use.

(image) @juberti

 Justin Uberti, the Duo team’s technical leader, tweeted this chart to illustrate user’s positive experiences with the new update.

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U.S. Supreme Court leaves gap in Samsung-Apple patent ruling

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:48:00 -0800

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Samsung Electronics and its backers in the industry in a design patent dispute with Apple, when in a 8-0 decision it said that “the term ‘article of manufacture’ is broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not.”

But the top court has left a lot unsaid, including by not providing guidance to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on how the damages Samsung has to pay Apple for the infringement of smartphone design patents will have to be calculated. That could also delay for a long time the resolution of the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung, which has already dragged on for a number of years.

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Backdoor accounts found in 80 Sony IP security camera models

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 06:38:00 -0800

Many network security cameras made by Sony could be taken over by hackers and infected with botnet malware if their firmware is not updated to the latest version.

Researchers from SEC Consult have found two backdoor accounts that exist in 80 models of professional Sony security cameras, mainly used by companies and government agencies given their high price.

One set of hard-coded credentials is in the Web interface and allows a remote attacker to send requests that would enable the Telnet service on the camera, the SEC Consult researchers said in an advisory Tuesday.

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