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Published: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 04:00:10 -0700

Last Build Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 04:00:10 -0700

 



AI test drive: Is Alexa on your phone as good as it is in your home?

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0700

Alexa is making its move. While Amazon’s virtual assistant has been tied to its own devices since its introduction more than two years ago, it is now beginning its an all-out assault on Siri and Google Assistant as it looks to establish a foothold on iOS and Android.

But entering enemy territory isn’t going to be easy. Apple and Google have both built their AI aides deeply into their mobile operating systems, so Alexa has to live inside apps for now. On the iPhone it’s inside the Amazon shopping app, and on the Mate 9 (the only Android phone that supports it), it’s accessible via a dedicated Huawei Alexa app. So to use it, you’ll need to open the respective app before you can start asking questions.

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Windows 10 Creators Update: The 5 biggest changes

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 03:30:00 -0700

Windows 10 just keeps getting bigger and better.

Microsoft just announced that the Windows 10 Creators Update will start rolling out on April 11, building upon the foundation laid by vanilla Windows 10 and its subsequent “November” and “Anniversary” updates. While not every feature that Microsoft promised at the Creators Update’s reveal last fall actually made the final cut, it’s still overflowing with helpful new extras that polish rough edges and just plain make things more fun.

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No, cord cutting will not break the internet

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 03:00:00 -0700

File this one under “unexpected defenses of cable TV.” A couple of recent opinion pieces suggest that cord cutting is a threat to the internet as we know it.

The theory goes like this: As more people abandon cable and satellite TV for streaming services like Netflix, demand for more internet bandwidth will skyrocket, and our poor internet infrastructure won’t be able to keep up. Here’s what Shira Ovide of Bloomberg View describes as a “crucial issue” that not enough industry people are talking about:

Traditionally, the cable and telecom companies that are responsible for internet networks don’t have a great track record of making infrastructure investments, which often don’t result in decent financial returns. Hopes that new mobile technology will patch holes or replace creaky broadband aren’t realistic for all but a handful of circumstances.

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Missing pieces: What Microsoft failed to deliver in the Windows 10 Creators Update

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 03:00:00 -0700

If the Windows 10 Creators Update had worked out as Microsoft had promised, we all would be taking 3D selfies, importing them to Windows, and then sharing them among our closest friends and coworkers via Office presentations and mixed-reality headsets.

Microsoft sold us that vision as part of the Creators Update launch last fall. But somewhere between then and the Creators Update rollout announcement April 29, key pieces went missing. Microsoft previously said that its My People experience would be left for the “Redstone 3” update in the fall. The company never warned us, however, that we wouldn't see the Windows Capture app, which creates 3D objects simply by tapping your smartphone. If there’s a way to share 3D objects within the Holotour app within the HoloLens, I haven’t seen it. And, of course, neither the HoloLens nor the third-party mixed-reality devices are commercially available yet.

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Here's proof that Ryzen can benefit from optimized game code

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 03:00:00 -0700

If you’re skeptical whether “optimizations” can truly improve gaming performance on the disruptive new Ryzen CPU, AMD has a message for you: They really can.

On Thursday the company released benchmark results from a beta version of Ashes of the Singularity that showed a sizable increase in performance from just a few weeks of tuning for the company’s new CPU.

Why this matters: When AMD’s Ryzen launched with bat-out-of-hell application performance but somewhat slower gaming performance than Intel’s rival CPUs, it spawned an Unsolved Mysteries-like search for the cause of such a puzzling disparity. Many theories later (including one that has absolved Microsoft), the only one that seems to be standing are the games themselves.

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VMware patches critical virtual machine escape flaws

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 02:53:29 -0700

VMware has released critical security patches for vulnerabilities demonstrated during the recent Pwn2Own hacking contest that could be exploited to escape from the isolation of virtual machines.

The patches fix four vulnerabilities that affect VMware ESXi, VMware Workstation Pro and Player and VMware Fusion.

Two of the vulnerabilities, tracked as CVE-2017-4902 and CVE-2017-4903 in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database, were exploited by a team from Chinese internet security firm Qihoo 360 as part of an attack demonstrated two weeks ago at Pwn2Own.

The team's exploit chain started with a compromise of Microsoft Edge, moved to the Windows kernel, and then exploited the two flaws to escape from a virtual machine and execute code on the host operating system. The researchers were awarded $105,000 for their feat.

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Before suing Uber, Waymo initiated action against former engineer

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 00:04:59 -0700

Uber is asking a federal court that most of the claims of a lawsuit filed by rival self-driving car developer Waymo should be settled through arbitration, a process that is usually cheaper and faster than a federal lawsuit.

The ride-hailing company is referring to Waymo’s own arbitration proceedings against a former engineer who later joined Uber as the basis for its argument in favor of arbitration to resolve the dispute.

Waymo filed a suit last month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that a former employee Anthony Levandowski stole trade secrets relating to self-driving cars before leaving to start Otto, a self-driving trucking company that was later acquired by Uber. Other former Waymo employees who left for Uber and Otto were also found downloading sensitive files, Waymo alleged.

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Trump extends Obama executive order on cyberattacks

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 18:18:54 -0700

U.S. President Donald Trump is extending by one year special powers introduced by former President Barack Obama that allow the government to issue sanctions against people and organizations engaged in significant cyberattacks and cybercrime against the U.S.

Executive Order 13694 was introduced on April 1, 2015, and was due to expire on Saturday, but the president sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday evening informing it of his plans to keep it active.

"Significant malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," Trump wrote in the letter. "Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 with respect to significant malicious cyber-enabled activities."

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Sanbot is the Jill of all trades

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:18:24 -0700

Need a teacher, airport guide, care taker, and customs control officer all in one? Sanbot has you covered. Standing at just under 3 feet tall with big cartoon eyes and flipper arms, Sanbot looks more helpless than helpful, but don't let that cute appearance fool you. Sanbot is packed with features to help "her" get the job done.

First off...sensors. Sanbot has 14 of them scattered throughout its three foot frame. Many of these are touch sensitive, allowing the robotic lady to respond with human-like emotion to a particular tap. Seven microphones along with IBM Watson smarts help Sanbot to react to voice commands and localize a speaker's direction. In addition to voice commands, users can tap the bot's HD screen or use an Android phone to make it do things like dance or project a presentation on the wall.  

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Tested: Microsoft Edge is the only browser to run Netflix in 4K

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:01:00 -0700

In 2016, Microsoft made headlines by boasting that Microsoft Edge was the only major browser to run Netflix in 1080p. As part of the Windows 10 Creators Update’s blitz of new features, Edge has now made the jump to 4K, and it’s the first major PC browser to do so.

To test the feature, we fired up Netflix within Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Edge. Edge—as well as the Windows 10 Netflix app that you can download from the Microsoft Store—appears to be the only way to run 4K Netflix content on your PC.

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China Oceanwide completes its purchase of IDG

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:16:00 -0700

The sale of tech publishing pioneer International Data Group to China Oceanwide Holdings Group and China-based IDG Capital is final.

The deal for China Oceanwide Holdings Group to acquire a majority stake in International Data Group was first announced in January. Tech analyst firm IDC and venture capital firm IDG Ventures are included in the deal.

China Oceanwide hosted an event in Bejing Wednesday to announce the closing of the deal. The companies did not disclose the terms of the sale.

China Oceanwide has said it will focus on growth at IDG and IDC.

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36% off Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard - Deal Alert

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:05:00 -0700


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Congress to US citizens: Want online privacy? Pay up!

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:01:21 -0700

Tuesday’s congressional vote to repeal U.S. restrictions on broadband providers doesn’t mean that online privacy is dead. Consumers will just have to pay for it.

The coming repeal, which President Trump is expected to sign into law, paves a clearer path for broadband providers to sell customers’ internet browsing history and other online data, without their consent.

Privacy advocates are worried. Imagine corporate giants snooping on your internet activities, and then bombarding your PC, phone and TV with targeted ads.

However, the privacy rule rollback might have an opposite effect too. Expect broadband providers and other internet services to emerge offering online privacy protections -- but at a price.

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5 things Samsung's Bixby artificial intelligence service will do

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:49:51 -0700

Could artificial intelligence make devices easier to use? According to Samsung, it sure can, and that's what it the company out to prove with its Bixby AI service.

Bixby is being loaded on the Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones, which were announced on Tuesday. Bixby is an agent that can help the smartphones talk, recommend, and remind, said Mok Oh, vice president of service strategy at Samsung.

The AI service is being positioned as a more intuitive way to use and interact with smartphones. For example, Bixby can help smartphones execute tasks with a voice command. It also brings cool features like image recognition and language translation on board the S8 smartphones.

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Google Calendar finally comes to the iPad

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:50:00 -0700

Google’s Calendar app is making a long-awaited move to a new device: Apple’s iPad. You read that right: Until Wednesday, the tech titan hadn’t optimized its marquee calendar application to run on Apple’s tablets.

The app provides users with a view of the calendars that they have and that are shared with them through Google’s service. In addition, they get a handful of features Apple’s native calendar app doesn’t have, like the ability to more easily find time and space for a meeting with other people inside their organizations.

Making iPad users wait for a native Calendar app is hardly a surprise coming from Google, considering that it’s the company behind Android, and frequently ships new features first to apps for devices running its mobile operating system.

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Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Studio will ship in more markets

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:56:00 -0700

Microsoft has been cautious about making its Surface product line available worldwide. It tests devices in specific markets, sees how they do, and if the response is good, ships them to those areas.

The company appears to have have received a strong response, in particular, to its Surface Studio, Surface Book devices and Surface Dial, which will soon be available in many Asian and European countries.

The expanded availability of these devices was announced on the same day Microsoft said it would release Windows 10 Creators Update on April 11.

The Surface Book with Performance Base, one of the devices that will be more broadly available, is a high-performance laptop that can also be a tablet. The screen pops out from the keyboard base to be a tablet. In a review, PC World concluded the device was powerful and easy to use, but had some design issues and was heavy.

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38% off Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive - Deal Post

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:15:00 -0700

The Backup Plus Ultra Slim Portable Drive is one of Seagate's thinnest and most eye-catching portable hard drives. Available in stunning gold and platinum colors- style meets storage- and easily slips into your backpack along with your other essentials. At 9.6mm thin, capacity is not sacrificed with 1TB and 2TB options-bring your most important files and head out the door. Back up and manage your favorite files from your computer, tablet and mobile devices using the Seagate Dashboard. Run a one-click backup or schedule an automatic backup plan to help protect your files. Convenient tools for local, mobile, cloud and social media backup at the ready. With high-speed USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity, you can depend on seamless plug-and-play functionality. And the USB bus-power eliminates the need for an external power supply, letting you access your files while on the move. The Lyve mobile and desktop app gives you the ability to access a single, consolidated and personalized photo and video library. When you purchase a Backup Plus Ultra Slim Portable Drive, you get 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage for 2 years (US$95 value).   The Backup Plus Portable Drive averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon (read reviews). It's typical list price of $129.99 has been reduced 38% to $79.99 on Amazon.

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BrandPost: The Challenges of Moving into E-Commerce

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:37:00 -0700

Many small businesses and startups want to bring the ease of use of e-commerce to their customers, allowing them to take advantage of this convenience and grow their business. But, there are some key issues that keep them from making that move. We reached out to key influences to get their feedback.

Michelle Killebrew (@shellkillebrew), Group Vice President, Head of U.S. Marketing at Fisher Investmentshad this to say: “Fundamentally, merchants are concerned at entering into a whole new business model. It’s daunting to think through how to market and sell products online versus in a store.”

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Newegg has dropped the price of a G.Skill 32GB RAM kit to $174

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:27:00 -0700

RAM is priced at a premium these days and may not get any better for a few months yet. So when a RAM deal shows up, it's best to jump on it if the modules suit your setup. Right now, folks waiting to snag a good chunk of DDR4 RAM are in luck: Newegg is selling four G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 8GB 288-pin DDR4/3000 RAM modules for $174.

The RAM comes in red only, and for those into overclocking, this 1.35V kit supports Intel's XMP 2.0. 

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Trojan source code leak poised to spur new online banking attacks

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:26:00 -0700

The source code for a new Trojan program that targets banking services has been published online, offering an easy way for unskilled cybercriminals to launch potent malware attacks against users.

The Trojan is called Nuclear Bot and first appeared for sale on underground cybercrime forums in early December for $2,500. It can steal and inject information from and into websites opened in Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome and can also open a local proxy or hidden remote desktop service.

These are all features commonly seen in banking Trojans, as they're used by attackers to bypass the security checks of online bank websites to perform fraud. For example, the proxy and remote desktop functionality allows hackers to initiate rogue transactions through the victims' browsers after they have been tricked into providing the second authentication factor.

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What's in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:39:01 -0700

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones look beautiful, and are loaded with new features that could make an upgrade worthwhile.

The handsets are superfast and 4K capable, and also herald the arrival of new technologies like Bluetooth 5 and LTE gigabit modems.

We take a look inside the handsets and see how they have improved from the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Screen size is bigger

The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, while the S8+ has a 6.2-inch screen, which are larger than the 5.5-inch S7 and the 5.7-inch Note 7. The screen resolution is 2960 x 1440 pixels, a slight uptick from S7's 2560 x 1440-pixel screen. Samsung was able to increase the S8 screen size by cutting the home button, and also adding to the height. The screen area now constitutes 83 percent of the S8 front surfaces.

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What's in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:39:00 -0700

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones look beautiful, and are loaded with new features that could make an upgrade worthwhile.

The handsets are superfast and 4K capable, and also herald the arrival of new technologies like Bluetooth 5 and LTE gigabit modems.

We take a look inside the handsets and see how they have improved from the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Screen size is bigger

The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, while the S8+ has a 6.2-inch screen, which are larger than the 5.5-inch S7 and the 5.7-inch Note 7. The screen resolution is 2960 x 1440 pixels, a slight uptick from S7's 2560 x 1440-pixel screen. Samsung was able to increase the S8 screen size by cutting the home button, and also adding to the height. The screen area now constitutes 83 percent of the S8 front surfaces.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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5 Samsung Galaxy S8 features Apple should steal for iPhone 8

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:10:00 -0700

The iPhone 8 would benefit from the Galaxy S8's edge-to-edge display, augmented reality camera, and a smarter assistant.


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Samsung launches the Galaxy S8 with a stunning design and Bixby AI assistant

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:50:00 -0700

Updated 03/29/17 9:00am: Added pricing information.

Samsung is back. After the Note7 recall stripped us of our end-of-year Galaxy fix, Samsung has officially unveiled its flagship S8 and S8+ phones, and they should be enough to make you forget all about the phablet fiasco.

Packed with a slew of high-end features and wrapped in a stunning, near-bezel-less enclosure, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are sure to turn heads, dispensing of the home button and the somewhat stale S7 form factor, and putting Apple and its rumored iPhone 8 on notice. With the S8, Samsung has returned to the flagship market in a big way, and assuming they don’t have any recall-level issues, it should rocket the company back to the head of the class.

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25% off HotLogic Mini Personal Portable Oven - Deal Alert

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:21:00 -0700

Hot Logic Mini averages 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 1,800 people (87% rate a full 5 stars: read recent reviews).  A cross between a lunch bag and an oven, this personal, portable cooker is great for the office, job site, the campsite, the car, or anywhere you have an outlet. The Hot Logic Mini will prepare fresh-cooked hot meals, reheated meals or perfectly cooked prepackaged meals without overcooked edges or frozen centers. Whether you're cooking uncooked, frozen chicken breasts with fresh beans on top or reheating last night's pizza, HotLogic will cook it and hold its temperature until you're ready to eat. Its typical list price of $39.95 has been reduced, for now, to $29.95. See this deal now on Amazon.

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Hands-on with DeX, Samsung's bid to make your Galaxy S8 a desktop computer

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:19:00 -0700

With powerful chips, tremendous graphics power, and a high-speed, versatile charging port, the Galaxy S8 is basically a handheld PC that fits in your pocket. The only thing that’s holding it back is its screen—and maybe a keyboard and mouse. While the S8+’s 6.2-inch display is nothing to scoff at, it still pales in comparison to the 27-inch monitors that grace our desks, or even the 13-inch displays on our laptops.

So Samsung has developed a solution. The DeX Station is a puck-sized dock that connects your S8 to a big-screen monitor so you can type and multitask just like if you were using a PC. Once it’s plugged in, a new interface will appear on your monitor, and all of your phone’s apps will be just a click away.

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Three privacy tools that block your Internet provider from tracking you

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:04:00 -0700

It's official: Congress has sold you out to Internet service providers, passing a bill that dismantles Internet privacy rules and allows ISPs to sell your web history and other personal information without your permission. Assuming President Trump signs the bill into law, it means anyone concerned about privacy will have to protect themselves against over zealous data collection from their ISP.

Some privacy-conscious folks are already doing that—but many aren’t. If you want to keep your ISP from looking over your shoulder for data to sell to advertisers, here are three relatively simple actions you can take to get started.

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Hands on with the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the phones that do everything

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 -0700

Samsung is just killing it with hardware design lately, and with the Galaxy S8, the most impressive hardware in mobile steps it up a notch. The phone comes in two sizes: the regular S8 at 5.8 inches and the S8+ at 6.2 inches. And I never thought I would say this, but I prefer the big one. I actually want a phone with a display over 6 inches!

I'll have to use the S8 a lot more to form an opinion about Samsung's latest software. But from the time I spent kicking the tires of some pre-production demo units, I think it's clear that Samsung has made the most feature-rich phone in memory. And it all starts with a really, really big display.

To infinity...

The first thing you’ll notice about the Galaxy S8 is that, while it still looks very Samsung-y thanks to curved sides, it’s basically all display. Samsung calls this new design “infinity display,” and it’s built with the same top-quality Super AMOLED technology used on other recent devices, with support for HDR and wide color gamuts. But just as LG has done with the G6, Samsung dropped the 16:9 aspect ratio most phones use and opted for a taller 18.5:9 ratio display, with only the tiniest bezel above and below (just enough room for the front camera and iris scanner). And, yes, that’s 18.5—I confirmed with Samsung that the resolution is 2960x1440, not 2880x1440 as is the resolution of the LG G6.

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What's in Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 -0700

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones look beautiful, and are loaded with new features that could make an upgrade worthwhile.

The handsets are superfast and 4K capable, and also herald the arrival of new technologies like Bluetooth 5 and LTE gigabit modems.

We take a look inside the handsets and see how they have improved from the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Screen size is bigger

The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch screen, while the S8+ has a 6.2-inch screen, which are larger than the 5.5-inch S7 and the 5.7-inch Note 7. The screen resolution is 2960 x 1440 pixels, a slight uptick from S7's 2560 x 1440-pixel screen. Samsung was able to increase the S8 screen size by cutting the home button, and also adding to the height. The screen area now constitutes 83 percent of the S8 front surfaces.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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Privacy advocates plan to fight Congress' repeal of Internet privacy rules

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:42:00 -0700

Privacy advocates haven’t given up the fight after the U.S. Congress voted to allow ISPs to sell customers’ browsing histories and other personal information without their permission.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 to strike down ISP privacy regulations approved by the Federal Communications Commission only months ago. House’s passage of a resolution of disapproval followed a Senate vote to pass the same resolution days earlier. 

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the Republican-pushed bill. But Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he will introduce new legislation to require the FCC to pass new ISP privacy rules.

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