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Published: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:49:56 -0700

Last Build Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:49:56 -0700

 



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

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:46:00 -0700

Update 03/30/17 9:45am: Added DeX pricing and availability information.

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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Verizon to begin installing a new piece of search-based bloatware on Android phones

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:14:00 -0700

Anyone who has bought an Android phone through a carrier knows what a frustrating experience it can be. Aside from the lock-in due to a multi-year contract, carrier-specific phones are loaded with all sorts of apps and services that we don’t want and, in many cases, can’t get rid of. And now Verizon is looking to add another.

According to TechCrunch (which is owned by Verizon), Big Red has partnered with Android app maker Evie to bring a new search-based launcher to the carrier's versions of Android phones. Like the highly rated Evie Launcher already for sale in the Play Store, AppFlash (as it is called) will “help users find content and services across different apps — and Evie is working with Verizon to make this the default experience on customers’ Android devices, popping up whenever they swipe to the left of their home screen,” according to the report.

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Twitter stops counting usernames in replies toward the 140-character limit

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:11:00 -0700

Twitter’s 140-character limit is essential to its existence, but the company realizes how annoying it can be to trim your thoughts when composing a reply because the person you’re chatting with has a long username. Twitter has decided to no longer count a username toward your 140 characters, a change now rolling out to its iOS and Android apps as well as Twitter.com.

This means tweets will look a little bit different. Instead of including the username of the person you’re replying to in the tweet itself, the username will appear above your text. The change will make tweets more easily readable, especially when conversations include a handful of people. (This also means the end of lengthy @username clusters in Twitter reply canoes, at long last.)

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Thimbleweed Park review: An incredible homage to point-and-click LucasArts adventures

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:00:00 -0700

"We want Thimbleweed Park to be like an undiscovered classic LucasArts' adventure game you'd never played before. A game discovered in a dusty old desk that puts a smile on your face and sends a wave of nostalgia through you in the same way it does for us."

I lifted that paragraph from Thimbleweed Park's original Kickstarter campaign, a statement of intent dating back to late 2014. It's a captivating idea—a long-lost masterpiece, a video game B-side tucked away and forgotten, perfectly preserved in 1s and 0s on some floppy disk.

It's also exactly what Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, and co. delivered.

Retro-futurism

Thimbleweed Park is a LucasArts adventure game, through and through. Sure, the engine is quite a bit more powerful than SCUMM, the dialogue more self-referential, and there are a few modern conveniences baked in. But with minimal tweaking you could've handed this game to me in the early '90s and I wouldn't have blinked.

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The Samsung Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition is infused with Microsoft apps

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:22:00 -0700

Microsoft's invasion of Android phones just took a new turn. Up until now, the company has strong-armed device makers into pre-installing Microsoft apps on Android phones. With the Samsung Galaxy S8, however, Microsoft is selling its own version of the phone called the Samsung Galaxy S8 Microsoft Edition. (There’s also a Galaxy S8+ edition.)

The specialized phone comes with “Microsoft customization” that is applied when it's unboxed and connected to Wi-Fi. Microsoft says the customization adds a “best-in-class productivity experience with Microsoft applications such as Office, OneDrive, Cortana, Outlook” and so on. 

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Millions of websites affected by unpatched flaw in Microsoft IIS 6 web server

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:12:00 -0700

A proof-of-concept exploit has been published for an unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Information Services 6.0, a version of the web server that’s no longer supported but still widely used.

The exploit allows attackers to execute malicious code on Windows servers running IIS 6.0 with the privileges of the user running the application. Extended support for this version of IIS ended in July 2015 along with support for its parent product, Windows Server 2003.

Even so, independent web server surveys suggest that IIS 6.0 still powers millions of public websites. In addition, many companies might still run web applications on Windows Server 2003 and IIS 6.0 inside their corporate networks, so this vulnerability could help attackers perform lateral movement if they access such networks through other means.

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AMD preps for Ryzen 5's launch with a helpful AM4 motherboard update

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:55:00 -0700

While AMD’s enticing Ryzen 7 processors battle Intel’s Extreme Edition chips for a fraction of the price, the AM4 motherboard platform is still in its infancy, as early adopters can attest. But Ryzen motherboards are becoming more polished by the day, and AMD just detailed a significant update ahead of the April 11 launch of the Ryzen 5 series of CPUs.

Ryzen motherboard BIOSes rely on the AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture, and AMD’s Rob Hallock says AMD’s pushing an AGESA update to its motherboard partners soon. Its tweaks are expected to appear in AM4 motherboard BIOS updates in early April.

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Google to developers: Get on the 18:9 bandwagon or get left behind

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:38:00 -0700

Taller is the new bigger. If you haven’t been paying attention to the specifics of the newest Android flagships, you’re not in tune with the latest trend: wider screens. Both the LG G6 and the Galaxy S8 have introduced larger aspect ratios for their displays, and the result is a phone that’s easier to hold and better to use.

But there’s a problem when it comes to apps. For years, developers have been optimizing their apps for 16:9 screens, whether they’re 5.2 inches or 5.7 inches. So, when they show up on 18:9 screens (or in Samsung’s case, 18.5:9), there’s going to be some truncating of the screen, meaning the experience will be lessened and you won’t be able to take advantage of the extra real estate.

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Here's how Microsoft is helping companies build IoT hardware

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:20:23 -0700

One of the biggest challenges with building connected hardware is getting from proof-of-concept (PoC) prototypes to devices that are ready for large-scale production rollout. Microsoft is aiming to help through labs that allow companies to come in and work with experts on building internet-connected hardware.

Companies come into one of three Microsoft Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence (IoT/AI) Insider Labs with the hardware they’ve built so far and a plan for an intense two or three weeks of work. Visitors are paired with mentors who are experts in different areas and given access to machinery that can help them quickly work through different hardware designs.

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This company is turning FAQs into Amazon Echo skills

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:03:00 -0700

People looking for an easier path to integrating with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant have good news on the horizon. NoHold, a company that builds services for making bots, unveiled a project that seeks to turn a document into an Alexa skill.

It’s designed for situations like Airbnb hosts who want to give guests a virtual assistant that can answer questions about the home they’re renting, or companies that want a talking employee handbook. Bot-builders upload a document to NoHold’s Sicura QuickStart service, which then parses the text and turns it into a virtual conversation partner that can answer questions based on the file’s contents.

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Right now, building Alexa skills is a fairly manual process that requires programming prowess and time to figure out Amazon’s software development tools for its virtual assistant. People who want to change the way that a bot behaves have to go in and tweak code parameters.

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Samsung's Connect Home mesh Wi-Fi router comes with a SmartThings Hub built-in

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:02:00 -0700


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5 things the Samsung Galaxy S8's Bixby artificial intelligence service will do

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:09:00 -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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Open-source developers targeted in sophisticated malware attack

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:07:00 -0700

For the past few months, developers who publish their code on GitHub have been targeted in an attack campaign that uses a little-known but potent cyberespionage malware.

The attacks started in January and consisted of malicious emails specifically crafted to attract the attention of developers, such as requests for help with development projects and offers of payment for custom programming jobs.

The emails had .gz attachments that contained Word documents with malicious macro code attached. If allowed to execute, the macro code executed a PowerShell script that reached out to a remote server and downloaded a malware program known as Dimnie.

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

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:07:00 -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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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 00:04:00 -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 private, and 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 the 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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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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