Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Spyware backdoor prompts Google to pull 500 apps with >100m downloads

August 22nd, 2017

Enlarge (credit: portal gda)

At least 500 apps collectively downloaded more than 100 million times from Google's official Play Market contained a secret backdoor that allowed developers to install a range of spyware at any time, researchers said Monday.

The apps contained a software development kit called Igexin, which makes it easier for apps to connect to ad networks and deliver ads that are targeted to the specific interests of end users. Once an app using a malicious version of Igexin was installed on a phone, the developer kit could update the app to include spyware at any time, with no warning. The most serious spyware installed on phones were packages that stole call histories, including the time a call was made, the number that placed the call, and whether the call went through. Other stolen data included GPS locations, lists of nearby Wi-Fi networks, and lists of installed apps.

In a blog post published Monday, researchers from mobile security company Lookout wrote:

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in android, Biz & IT, google play, Policy, spyware, Tech | Comments (0)

Spyware backdoor prompts Google to pull 500 apps with >100m downloads

August 22nd, 2017

Enlarge (credit: portal gda)

At least 500 apps collectively downloaded more than 100 million times from Google's official Play Market contained a secret backdoor that allowed developers to install a range of spyware at any time, researchers said Monday.

The apps contained a software development kit called Igexin, which makes it easier for apps to connect to ad networks and deliver ads that are targeted to the specific interests of end users. Once an app using a malicious version of Igexin was installed on a phone, the developer kit could update the app to include spyware at any time, with no warning. The most serious spyware installed on phones were packages that stole call histories, including the time a call was made, the number that placed the call, and whether the call went through. Other stolen data included GPS locations, lists of nearby Wi-Fi networks, and lists of installed apps.

In a blog post published Monday, researchers from mobile security company Lookout wrote:

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in android, Biz & IT, google play, Policy, spyware, Tech | Comments (0)

HP stuffed the best gaming desktop perks into the 10-pound Omen X laptop

August 22nd, 2017

Enlarge (credit: HP)

HP gave its Omen gaming line a big boost before this year's E3 with the launch of new gaming PCs, peripherals, a GPU accelerator, and a VR backpack. While the company wants to provide devices for all kinds of gamers, its newest launch targets enthusiasts who don't want to compromise power when choosing a portable device. The new Omen X laptop is a behemoth gaming notebook, measuring 16.73 x 12.88 x 1.43 inches and weighing 10.69 pounds. All that space is for good reason: the Omen X trades svelte for substance as it features a bunch of perks typically only seen in stationary gaming PCs.

One of the biggest things HP emphasized about the Omen X laptop is its overclocking abilities. The Omen X laptop can be configured how you'd like and you can choose to get it with Intel's 7th gen Core i7-7820HK CPU, which is factory unlocked for overclocking. Gaming enthusiasts (and general PC enthusiast as well) are more likely to experiment with overclocking their devices to get the most performance out of the CPU as possible. However, that would normally be taxing on the entire system and the processor in particular since it produces extra heat.

As such, HP designed the internals of the Omen X laptop differently from those in its previous Omen laptops to better handle the heat produced by overclocking. HP also claims the design reduces thermal throttling that can limit the overclocking affects. The company removed the optical drive and included higher-performance fans that allow for more airflow through the machine than in the existing Omen laptops. With the help of an integrated vapor chamber and bottom vent holes, the internals better move heat away from the important stuff (CPU, GPU) and expel air through the back and sides of the laptop (which also keeps the heat away from you, the user).

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Gaming & Culture, Gaming Laptop, HP, omen x, omen x laptop, overclocking, Tech | Comments (0)

Microsoft to remove full ReFS support from Windows 10 Pro, push Workstation SKU

August 21st, 2017

Enlarge (credit: Anna)

In the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is removing the ability to create volumes using its new ReFS file system from Windows 10 Pro. Existing volumes will continue to work, but Pro will no longer be able to create new ones.

After rumors in June, Microsoft confirmed last week that it was producing yet another variant of Windows 10: Pro for Workstations. The main features of this build are that it lifts certain limits found in regular Pro: up to four processors (compared to two in Pro) and 6TB of RAM (compared to 2TB). It also has support for certain exotic server-grade hardware, including non-volatile main memory and high-speed network adaptors.

Microsoft is promoting one final feature in Pro for Workstations: its new, modern file system, ReFS ("resilient file system"). ReFS—like modern file systems on other platforms such as Oracle's ZFS and Linux's btrfs—includes integrated checksums to detect data corruption. Combined with Storage Spaces, it can automatically reconstruct damaged data from software-defined arrays.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in file systems, Microsoft, ReFS, Tech, Windows, Windows 10, Workstation | Comments (0)

Android 8.0 Oreo is official, starts rollout to devices

August 21st, 2017

Enlarge (credit: Google)

NEW YORK CITY—Happy Eclipse Day! As the Moon slowly crept its way across the Sun, Google took the opportunity to host an Eclipse-themed Android 8.0 launch event in New York City. Along with eclipse glasses and a simulcast of NASA's eclipse livestream, Android "O" finally got its full name: "Android 8.0, Oreo."

Like KitKat before it, Android's alphabetical snack-themed codenames have gone commercial and partnered with an actual snack producer, adopting Nabisco's trademarked "Oreo" as the name for this release. The event also came with the traditional statue unveiling: a superhero Android Oreo.

With today's event, Android 8.0 Oreo is shipping out across all the usual distribution methods. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is getting the 8.0 code drop. OTAs will begin to roll out "soon" to the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C, and system images should be up on developers.google.com soon. Any device enrolled in the Android Beta Program will also be upgraded to these final builds.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Tech | Comments (0)

The very dirty history of on-demand video technology

August 21st, 2017

Enlarge / It's the Sony U-Matic in all its analog glory. This device was used in the early 1970s to stream X-rated video to hotel rooms, often using a closed-circuit broadcasting device on the hotel roof. (credit: Wikimedia)

In 1973, a young Roger Ebert reviewed the movie Deep Throat. He was not yet a household name or a Pulitzer Prize winner, but he was a respected film critic. The fact that he and his peers regularly reviewed pornographic films suggested that we’d entered a new era in film—an era in which pornography might be viewed as art.

Turns out that wasn’t the case. More than 40 years later, people are still arguing about whether porn can be art. But that doesn’t mean the early '70s weren’t a turning point for porn. The year before Roger Ebert saw Deep Throat, the Hotel Commodore in New York City shocked the nation by announcing that it had installed a system which would let viewers watch X-rated titles in their hotel rooms. It might not be art, but porn had become a testing bed for new kinds of on-demand video technologies.

The United States was not the nation to lead the world into this new era. Japan got there first. Technology-friendly Osaka had hotels built specifically for many different combinations of sex and video. Some hotel rooms came equipped with video cameras, as well as, presumably, both an overworked technical staff and an overworked cleaning staff. Other rooms simply had a television that picked up the signal of a closed-circuit broadcasting device on the roof, creating an early form of streaming video. In 1971, one hotel's device made contact with a steel safety railing. This considerably increased the broadcast range and gave surrounding houses a glimpse of movies that not everyone appreciated.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in history, On-demand Video, streaming video, Tech | Comments (0)

Intel first 8th generation processors are just updated 7th generation chips

August 21st, 2017

Enlarge / A Kaby Lake refresh die. (credit: Intel)

The first "8th generation" Intel Core processors roll out today: a quartet of 15W U-series mobile processors. Prior generation U-series parts have had two cores, four threads; these new chips double that to four cores and eight threads. They also bump up the maximum clock speed to as much as 4.2GHz, though the base clock speed is sharply down at 1.9GHz for the top end part (compared to the 7th generation's 2.8GHz). But beyond those changes, there's little to say about the new chips, because in a lot of ways, the new chips aren't really new.

i7-8650U i7-8550U i5-8350U i5-8250U
Base clock/GHz 1.9 1.8 1.7 1.6
Maximum 1-core clock/GHz 4.2 4.0 3.6 3.4
Maximum 2-core clock/GHz 4.2 4.0 3.6 3.4
Maximum 4-core clock/GHz 3.9 3.7 3.6 3.4
Cores 4 4 4 4
Threads 8 8 8 8
Cache size/MB 8 8 6 6
Maximum GPU clock/GHz 1150 1150 1100 1100

Although Intel is calling these parts "8th generation," their architecture, both for their CPU and their integrated GPU, is the same as "7th generation" Kaby Lake. In fact, Intel calls the architecture of these chips "Kaby Lake refresh." Kaby Lake was itself a minor update on Skylake, adding an improved GPU (with, for example, hardware-accelerated support for 4K H.265 video) and a clock speed bump. The new chips continue to be built on Intel's "14nm+" manufacturing process, albeit a somewhat refined one.

Earlier this year, Intel claimed that the new chips would add 30 percent performance over 7th generation parts; that number is now 40 percent. A total of 25 percent of that boost (in the SYSmark benchmark) comes from the doubled core and thread count. The remainder is split evenly between "manufacturing" improvements (which is to say, higher clock speeds) and "design" improvements.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in CPU, Intel, processors, Tech | Comments (0)

Android O is O-fficially launching August 21

August 18th, 2017

Enlarge

Google has revealed the launch date for the final version of Android O: August 21. Google will be livestreaming an unveiling event live from New York City at 2:40pm ET to coincide with the solar eclipse. There's a new teaser site up at Android.com/eclipse, which counts down the time until the event. "Android O is touching down to Earth with the total solar eclipse," the site promises, "bringing some super (sweet) new powers!"

Android O (which we know will be version 8.0) is currently on its fourth developer preview, having originally launched in March. At the event we're expecting Google to unveil the traditional snack-themed codename for the OS, finally revealing what the "O" in "Android O" stands for. It should also start pushing out OTA updates for at least the Pixel and Pixel XL, with updates for older Google devices happening the day of the event or shortly after.

Android O is not a mystery at this point. The OS brings a big revamp of the notification panel with a new layout, colors, and features like snoozing. Google is clamping down on background apps for more consistent performance and better battery life. There are new, updatable emoji, a faster startup time, an all new settings app, and lots of security enhancements, including the new "Google Play Protect" anti-malware branding. Most importantly, Android 8.0 brings Project Treble to new devices, a modularization of the OS away from the hardware. That initiative should make it easier to develop and roll out new Android updates.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Tech | Comments (0)

Android O is O-fficially launching August 21

August 18th, 2017

Enlarge

Google has revealed the launch date for the final version of Android O: August 21. Google will be livestreaming an unveiling event live from New York City at 2:40pm ET to coincide with the solar eclipse. There's a new teaser site up at Android.com/eclipse, which counts down the time until the event. "Android O is touching down to Earth with the total solar eclipse," the site promises, "bringing some super (sweet) new powers!"

Android O (which we know will be version 8.0) is currently on its fourth developer preview, having originally launched in March. At the event we're expecting Google to unveil the traditional snack-themed codename for the OS, finally revealing what the "O" in "Android O" stands for. It should also start pushing out OTA updates for at least the Pixel and Pixel XL, with updates for older Google devices happening the day of the event or shortly after.

Android O is not a mystery at this point. The OS brings a big revamp of the notification panel with a new layout, colors, and features like snoozing. Google is clamping down on background apps for more consistent performance and better battery life. There are new, updatable emoji, a faster startup time, an all new settings app, and lots of security enhancements, including the new "Google Play Protect" anti-malware branding. Most importantly, Android 8.0 brings Project Treble to new devices, a modularization of the OS away from the hardware. That initiative should make it easier to develop and roll out new Android updates.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Tech | Comments (0)

“Bing is bigger than you think,” Microsoft boasts, at 33% of US searches

August 18th, 2017

We've known from Microsoft's financial reports that Bing has been growing. The search engine became profitable in the third calendar quarter of 2015, and Microsoft says it has continued to grow both the market share and revenue-per-search since then.

But how big is Bing? Via OnMSFT, Microsoft tweeted yesterday that it's "bigger than you think" and provided some numbers that will probably be a surprise to many. The company claims that fully one-third of searches in the US are powered by Bing, either directly or through Yahoo or AOL (both of which provide results generated by Microsoft). Other strong markets include Taiwan, at 24 or 26 percent, and the UK, at either 23 or 25 percent (depending on which tweet you read).

Globally, the company is claiming a 9-percent market share. Google is still the runaway winner, of course, but Microsoft's numbers (using data from comScore) suggest that in at least some parts of the world, Bing is big enough to take note of. The real target for this kind of data is, of course, advertisers; by showing that Bing is actually being used by large numbers of people, Microsoft hopes that it will become more appealing to those wanting to advertise alongside search results.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Bing, market share, Microsoft, search engines, Tech | Comments (0)