Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

21.5-inch iMac supply dwindles amid chip shortages, possible refresh

April 16th, 2021

Apple's low-end, 21.5-inch iMac appears to be in short supply at Apple Stores and in Apple's online storefront in the United States. The shortage could be a hint of an imminent change to the iMac lineup just a few days before Apple hosts a product launch event on April 20.

In particular, the cheapest, 1080p iMac (the rest of the 21.5-inch models have 4K displays) is seeing ship dates slipping back several days into late April or early May, which is usually a sign of low supply. This Mac in particular is also increasingly unavailable for pickup at physical Apple Stores around the US.

Meanwhile, the more expensive 27-inch iMac is shipping within a normal window, and it is showing as available at more retail stores.

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Posted in 21.5-inch iMac, Apple M1, Apple silicon, Apple Store, iMac, M1, Mac, Tech | Comments (0)

Backdoored developer tool that stole credentials escaped notice for 3 months

April 16th, 2021
Backdoored developer tool that stole credentials escaped notice for 3 months

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

A publicly available software development tool contained malicious code that stole the authentication credentials that apps need to access sensitive resources, in the latest revelation of a supply chain attack that has the potential to backdoor the networks of countless organizations.

The Codecov Bash Uploader contained the backdoor from late January to the beginning of April, developers of the tool said on Thursday. The backdoor caused developer computers to send secret authentication tokens and other sensitive data to a remote site controlled by the hackers. The uploader works with development platforms including Github Actions, CircleCI, and Bitrise Step, all of which support having such secret authentication tokens in the development environment.

A pile of AWS and other cloud credentials

The Codecov bash uploader performs what is known as code coverage for large-scale software development projects. It allows developers to send coverage reports that, among other things, determine how much of a codebase has been tested by internal test scripts. Some development projects integrate Codecov and similar third-party services into their platforms, where there is free access to sensitive credentials that can be used to steal or modify source code.

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Posted in bash updater, Biz & IT, codecov, software development, supply chain attack, Tech | Comments (0)

Google loses “Location History” court battle in Australia

April 16th, 2021
Google loses “Location History” court battle in Australia

Enlarge

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled that Google misled Android users over its collection of location data. This ruling is in reference to the "Location History" controversy from a few years ago. The Associated Press reported at the time that turning off the Location History setting does not disable all location-tracking features across every Google product.

The ACCC's press release states that from January 2017 to December 2018 (the AP article was published in August 2018), "Google misrepresented that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location." The ruling continues, saying, "In fact, another Google Account setting titled 'Web & App Activity' also enabled Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default."

With the ACCC's finding of wrongdoing, it's not clear what the Australian government plans to do about the situation yet. The press release says, "The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, publications orders, and compliance orders. This will be determined at a later date." ACCC Chair Rod Sims added, "In addition to penalties, we are seeking an order for Google to publish a notice to Australian consumers to better explain Google’s location data settings in the future. This will ensure that consumers can make informed choices about whether certain Google settings that... collect location data should be enabled."

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Almost everything we’d want in a gaming laptop—the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

April 16th, 2021

Recently, we managed to get our hands on an Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 laptop. We had to do it just like anybody else does, by finding one and buying it retail. That's notable because this laptop combines AMD's Ryzen 9 5900HS processor with an Nvidia RTX 3070 Mobile GPU, a combination that means this device sells out extremely quickly.

Make no mistake, the RTX 3070 in this year's AMD-powered Zephyrus is a distinct step up. Last year, if you wanted an RTX 3000 series GPU in a laptop, you had to settle for an Intel CPU to go with it.

Overview

Specs at a glance: Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 GA503, as tested
OS Windows 10 Home
CPU 3.0GHz 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS (4.5GHz boost)
RAM 16GiB DDR4-3200
GPU AMD Radeon 8 core / Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 MaxQ
SSD SK Hynix M.2 NVMe PCIe3.0 1TB
Battery ASUStek 90Wh
Display 1440p WQHD, non-glare, 165Hz, adaptive sync
Connectivity
  • two USB-A ports
  • two USB-C ports
  • 3.5mm phone/mic combo jack
  • DC power jack
  • full-size HDMI out
  • RJ-45 wired Ethernet
  • micro SD reader
  • Kensington lock slot
  • no camera
Price as tested $1,800 at Best Buy

This year's Ryzen-powered Asus ROG Zephyrus G15 is almost everything we'd want in a gaming laptop. Beastly CPU? Check. Beastly GPU? Check. Full-size wired LAN port? Check. Loud speakers? Absolutely. 1440p display with high refresh? Yes. Even the storage on this laptop—a model of SK Hynix NVMe SSD we'd never seen before—is blistering fast.

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Posted in ASUS, Features, Gaming & Culture, Gaming Laptop, laptop, Tech, zephyrus | Comments (0)

Popular software development tool Docker gets Apple M1 support

April 15th, 2021
Docker running on a Mac.

Enlarge / Docker running on a Mac. (credit: Docker)

Docker, a popular multi-platform application used by software developers, has released a version that runs natively on Apple Silicon hardware, including Macs released with Apple's custom-designed M1 chip.

The M1 chip uses the ARM instruction set and cannot natively run software that was designed to run on the x86 architecture that the Intel processors in previously released Macs used. Though the previous version of Docker did work via Apple's Rosetta solution, the introduction of an M1-native version of Docker contributes to a closing gap for developers concerned about running their entire suite of tools in an optimal way.

It follows the release of M1 versions of Homebrew, Visual Studio Code, and other developer tools and applications. But some gaps remain—for example, Microsoft's Visual Studio 2019 IDE (which is distinct from the comparatively lightweight Visual Studio Code) has not been updated.

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Posted in apple, Apple M1, Apple silicon, ARM, containers, docker, M1, software development, Tech | Comments (0)

US government strikes back at Kremlin for SolarWinds hack campaign

April 15th, 2021
US government strikes back at Kremlin for SolarWinds hack campaign

Enlarge (credit: Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images)

US officials on Thursday formally blamed Russia for backing one of the worst espionage hacks in recent US history and imposed sanctions designed to mete out punishments for that and other recent actions.

In a joint advisory, the National Security Agency, FBI, and Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency said that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, abbreviated as the SVR, carried out the supply-chain attack on customers of the network management software from Austin, Texas-based SolarWinds.

The operation infected SolarWinds’ software build and distribution system and used it to push backdoored updates to about 18,000 customers. The hackers then sent follow-up payloads to about 10 US federal agencies and about 100 private organizations. Besides the SolarWinds supply-chain attack, the hackers also used password guessing and other techniques to breach networks.

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Posted in Biz & IT, hacking, Policy, russia, sanctions, SolarWinds, Tech, Treasury Department | Comments (0)

Google Earth is now a 3D time machine

April 15th, 2021

Google has pushed out what it says is Google Earth's "biggest update since 2017" with a new 3D time-lapse feature. Entering the new "Timelapse" mode of Google Earth will let you fly around the virtual globe with a time slider, showing you satellite imagery from the past 37 years. Google Earth Timelapse has been around for years as part of Google Earth Engine (which is a totally separate interface from Google Earth; it's a weird Google branding thing), but it was previously only available in 2D. Now, Google has mapped all this data across the 3D Google Earth globe, where you can watch cities being built, forests being cut down, and glaciers receding.

Google Earth Timelapse isn't just a huge amount of data; properly mapping it across the globe means correcting the images for artifacts and problems. The company had to get clouds out of the way, correct images for perspective, and ensure seamless transitioning through zoom levels. Luckily, Google happens to have some really big computers to handle the load.

The company explains what it took to make Timelapse happen:

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Intel, Nvidia, TSMC execs agree: Chip shortage could last into 2023

April 15th, 2021
Intel, Nvidia, TSMC execs agree: Chip shortage could last into 2023

(credit: Intel)

How many years will the ongoing chip shortage affect technology firms across the world? This week, multiple tech executives offered their own dismal estimates as part of their usual public financial disclosures, with the worst one coming in at "a couple of years."

That nasty estimate comes from Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who offered that vague timeframe to The Washington Post in an interview on Tuesday. He clarified that was an estimate for how long it would take the company to "build capacity" to potentially address supply shortages. The conversation came as Intel offered to step up for two supply chains particularly pinched by the silicon drought: medical supplies and in-car computer systems.

In previous statements, Gelsinger pointed to Intel's current $20 billion plan to build a pair of factories in Arizona, and this week's interview added praise for President Joe Biden's proposed $50 billion chip-production infrastructure plan—though Gelsinger indicated that Biden should be ready to spend more than that.

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Posted in chip shortage, GPUs, Intel, NVIDIA, Tech, TSMC | Comments (0)

What to expect from Apple’s “Spring Loaded” event on April 20

April 14th, 2021
An Apple logo in colorful scribbles

Enlarge / The teaser image on this event's invitation looks like Apple Pencil scribbles, perhaps supporting the idea this will be an iPad-focused event. (credit: Apple)

It might have taken longer than expected (the event has historically taken place in March), but Apple announced its spring product unveiling event this week. Executives from the company will take the stage in a livestream from Apple's Cupertino headquarters, where they'll introduce and discuss new products that Apple plans to ship in the near future.

As has become the custom, we'll do our best to outline what you should or shouldn't expect in terms of announcements from the unveiling.

While each Apple event's accompanying graphic and name—this one is called "Spring Loaded," and you can see the graphic above—can sometimes (not always) act as a sort of teaser for what kind of announcements are to come, the name doesn't tell us much this time around. That said, the scribbled lines that make up the Apple logo above look like the work of an Apple Pencil, one of the key accessories for the iPad.

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Posted in AirTags, apple, Apple M1, Apple silicon, ar, augmented reality, geolocation, ipad, ipad pro, M1, Mac, Macbook, MacBook Pro, Mini LED, Tech, Tile, U1, ultra wideband | Comments (0)

Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile kill their cross-carrier RCS messaging plans

April 14th, 2021
Google Messenger is the biggest RCS app out there.

Enlarge / Google Messenger is the biggest RCS app out there. (credit: Google)

The Rich Communication Services (RCS) rollout continues to be a hopeless disaster. A year and a half ago, the cellular carriers created the "Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI)," a joint venture between AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon that would roll out enhanced messaging to the masses in 2020. Now, Light Reading is reporting that initiative is dead, meaning that the carriers have accomplished basically nothing on the RCS front in the past 18 months.

RCS is a carrier-controlled GSMA standard introduced in 2008 as an upgrade for SMS, the ancient standard for basic carrier messaging. SMS (which started in 1992!) has not kept up with the feature set of over-the-top messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, and while RCS still wouldn't be able to keep up with services like those, it can bring slightly more messaging functionality to carrier messaging. RCS includes things like typing indicators, presence information, read receipts, and location sharing.

Verizon confirmed the news to Light Reading, saying, "The owners of the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative decided to end the joint venture effort. However, the owners remain committed to enhancing the messaging experience for customers including growing the availability of RCS."

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