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Government

Department of Energy Invests $50 Million To Improve Critical Energy Infrastructure Security (helpnetsecurity.com) 51

Orome1 shares a report from Help Net Security: Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing awards of up to $50 million to DOE's National Laboratories to support early stage research and development of next-generation tools and technologies to further improve the resilience of the Nation's critical energy infrastructure, including the electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure. The electricity system must continue to evolve to address a variety of challenges and opportunities such as severe weather and the cyber threat, a changing mix of types of electric generation, the ability for consumers to participate in electricity markets, the growth of the Internet of Things, and the aging of the electricity infrastructure. The seven Resilient Distribution Systems projects awarded through DOE's Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) will develop and validate innovative approaches to enhance the resilience of distribution systems -- including microgrids -- with high penetration of clean distributed energy resources (DER) and emerging grid technologies at regional scale. The project results are expected to deliver credible information on technical and economic viability of the solutions. The projects will also demonstrate viability to key stakeholders who are ultimately responsible for approving and investing in grid modernization activities. In addition, the Department of Energy "is also announcing 20 cybersecurity projects that will enhance the reliability and resilience of the Nation's electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure through innovative, scalable, and cost-effective research and development of cybersecurity solutions."
Intel

Intel Cuts Cord On Its Current Cord-Cutting WiGig Products (zdnet.com) 30

An anonymous reader shares a ZDNet report, which also has some clarification from Intel: It looks like you can add WiGig wireless docking to Intel's dustbin (along with IoT products axed earlier this summer), as the company has discontinued existing products using the 802.11ad wireless standard, according to Anandtech. [Since publishing this report, we've received a statement from Intel clarifying its WiGig support: "We continue to offer current versions of our 802.11ad products, such as the Intel Tri-band Wireless AC 18265 and Gigabit Wireless 10101R antenna module. We remain committed to WiGig and think it has exciting potential for a number of applications, including enabling VR to become wireless, mesh networking and as part of Intel's leading products for 5G."] WiGig was developed several years ago with faster speeds than then-current Wi-Fi standards, but because it relied on the 60GHz channel, its high throughput could only travel over short distances. As a result, it eventually became marketed as a feature for wireless laptop docking stations, and while it received some support from enterprise laptop manufactures like Dell and Lenovo, the technology didn't make a big dent against standard wired laptop docks.
Iphone

Apple Announces iPhone X With Edge-To-Edge Display, Wireless Charging and No Home Button (theverge.com) 570

At its event in Cupertino, California today, Apple unveiled the iPhone X to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. It brings several new features including an edge-to-edge screen, Qi wireless charging, and Face ID. The Verge reports: Because of its edge-to-edge display, the iPhone has no place for a conventional home button, relying instead on a complex facial recognition system to unlock the phone. Called FaceID, the new system will replace TouchID, the home button sensor that's enabled fingerprint logins since 2013's iPhone 5S. Users can wake the phone by swiping up from the button instead of hitting the button. The same gesture will open the control panel once the phone is awake. The updated iPhone 8 will continue unchanged, including both the home button and TouchID. Apple also unveiled the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which are updated versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus released last year. These new devices feature glass backs with support for wireless charging. The Verge provides some additional specs and features in its report: Apple has improved the display on the iPhone 8 line, adding the same True Tone technology it offers on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro to automatically adjust the screen based on the ambient light in the room to offer more accurate colors. Internally, Apple has upgraded the processor from the A10 Fusion found in the 7 to the A11 Bionic. It's a six-core chip with two performance cores that are 25 percent faster than the A10, and four performance cores that the company says are 70 percent faster that the old model. There's also a new Apple-designed GPU that's 30 percent faster, with the same performance as the A10 at half the power. On the camera front, there's a new 12-megapixel sensor on the iPhone 8 that is larger, faster, and finally has optical image stabilization. The iPhone 8 Plus also has new sensors, and offers f/1.8 and f/2.8 apertures now. The dual cameras on the 8 Plus also have a new "Portrait Lighting" feature to adjust the lighting for portrait shots. And Apple says that the improvements apply to video, too, with Apple executive Phil Schiller claiming that the new devices have the "highest quality video capture ever in a smartphone," with support for 4K/60fps video. Slow motion videos now support up to 1080p resolution at 240fps, doubling the the iPhone 7's 120fps option. The iPhone 8 will start at $699 for a 64GB model, while the 8 Plus will start at $799 for 64GB of storage. You can preorder these devices starting Friday, September 15th, and they will be released a week later on September 22nd.

UPDATE 9/12/17: The iPhone X will be priced starting at $999 for the 64GB variant. Pre-order will be available October 27th with shipments starting November 3rd.
Communications

The New Apple Watch Series 3 Has Cellular Built-In (techcrunch.com) 55

The first big product unveiling at Apple's Event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California was the Apple Watch Series 3 with built-in support for cellular. TechCrunch reports: Wireless cellular LTE connectivity provided by a built-in chip means the new Apple Watch will be able to stay connected even when it's not tethered to an iPhone, which is a huge step forward in terms of making it an independent mobile device. Pricing for the Series 3 Cellular starts at $399, and a version without cellular starts at $329. Pre-orders begin on September 15, and they'll be available on September 22. The new Apple Watch is visually quite similar to the existing version, with backwards compatibility with existing straps and bands. There's a new Blush Gold color to match the new iPhone color option, and a new ceramic Dark Gray for the higher-end models that joins the existing white. Plus, the cellular version sports that red crown for an extra bit of visual flare. The non-cellular version doesn't have the new red crown.

Inside, it has a new dual-core processor with 70 percent better performance, as well as a new W2 chip that improves Bluetooth and wireless connectivity and power efficiency. The cellular antenna is actually the display itself, and there's an electronic SIM card inside for connectivity. The device is the same physical size as the Series 2, despite adding everything needed for cellular and LTE connectivity -- though the back crystal is extended 0.25 mm, which is incredibly thin. It's still got GPS like Series 2, and it's swimproof, plus it packs in all-day battery life still.

Encryption

Virginia Scraps Electronic Voting Machines Hackers Destroyed At DefCon (theregister.co.uk) 194

Following the DefCon demonstration in July that showed how quickly Direct Recording Electronic voting equipment could be hacked, Virginia's State Board of Elections has decided it wants to replace their electronic voting machines in time for the gubernatorial election due on November 7th, 2017. According to The Register, "The decision was announced in the minutes of the Board's September 8th meeting: 'The Department of Elections officially recommends that the State Board of Elections decertify all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or touchscreen) voting equipment." From the report: With the DefCon bods showing some machines shared a single hard-coded password, Virginia directed the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) to audit the machines in use in the state (the Accuvote TSX, the Patriot, and the AVC Advantage). None passed the test. VITA told the board "each device analyzed exhibited material risks to the integrity or availability of the election process," and the lack of a paper audit trail posed a significant risk of lost votes. Local outlet The News Leader notes that many precincts had either replaced their machines already, or are in the process of doing so. The election board's decision will force a change-over on the 140 precincts that haven't replaced their machines, covering 190,000 of Virginia's ~8.4m population.
Power

Volkswagen To Build Electric Versions of All 300 Models By 2030 (bloomberg.com) 168

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller announced sweeping plans to build electric versions of all 300 models in the group's lineup as the world's largest automaker accelerates the shift away from combustion engines and tries to draw a line under the emissions-cheating scandal. Speaking on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show, the CEO laid out the enormity of the task ahead, vowing to spend 20 billion euros ($24 billion) to develop and bring the models to market by 2030 and promising to plow another 50 billion euros into the batteries needed to power the cars. Volkswagen is throwing the fire power of its 12 brands behind the push, aiming to catch up with the likes of Tesla Inc. and transform from a battery-vehicle laggard into a leader. Underscoring the enormity of the shift taking place in the industry, Mueller said VW will need the equivalent of at least four gigafactories for battery cells by 2025 just to meet its own vehicle production. At 50 billion euros, the CEO announced one of the largest tenders in the industry's history for the procurement of batteries. By 2025, VW aims to have 50 purely battery-powered vehicles and 30 hybrid models in its lineup, with a goal of selling as many as 3 million purely battery-powered cars by then. The transformation will pick up speed after that to reach the 2030 goal as economies of scale and better infrastructure help bring down prices and accelerate sales.
China

China Joins the Growing Movement To Ban Gasoline, Diesel Cars (arstechnica.com) 126

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: China has become the latest country to publicly discuss plans to ban the production and sale of gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles. In July, both France and the UK published plans to phase out sales of conventionally powered vehicles by 2040. China will now add another nail to the coffin of the internal combustion engine. However, unlike the French or British plans, in this case there's no target date -- yet. The news comes from an automotive policy forum in Tianjin. China's vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobin, said that his ministry has begun work on a timetable to phase out fossil fueled vehicles. The Xinhua news agency also reports that Xin told automakers they need to begin to "readjust their strategies" accordingly. For foreign car companies hoping to sell EVs in China, that will mean investing in the country, as imported vehicles come with stiff import duties attached.
Robotics

As Robots Move Into Amazon's Warehouses, What's Happening To Its Human Workers? (brisbanetimes.com.au) 237

An anonymous reader writes: A 21-year-old Amazon warehouse worker has been replaced by "a giant, bright yellow mechanical arm" that stacks 25-pound bins. "Her new job at Amazon is to baby-sit several robots at a time," reports the New York Times, "troubleshooting them when necessary and making sure they have bins to load... [T]he company's eye-popping growth has turned it into a hiring machine, with an unquenchable need for entry-level warehouse workers to satisfy customer orders." Even though Amazon now has over 100,000 robots, they still plan to create 50,000 new jobs when they open their second headquarters. "It's certainly true that Amazon would not be able to operate at the costs they have and the costs they provide customers without this automation," said Martin Ford, author of the futurist book Rise of the Robots. "Maybe we wouldn't be getting two-day shipping."

Amazon's top operations executive says they're saving less-tedious jobs for the humans who work as "pickers" and "stowers" for the robots. "It's a new item each time," Mr. Clark said. "You're finding something, you're inspecting things, you're engaging your mind in a way that I think is important." The Times reports that the robots "also cut down on the walking required of workers, making Amazon pickers more efficient and less tired. The robots also allow Amazon to pack shelves together like cars in rush-hour traffic, because they no longer need aisle space for humans, [meaning] more inventory under one roof, which means better selection for customers."

"When Amazon installed the robots, some people who had stacked bins before took courses at the company to become robot operators. Many others moved to receiving stations, where they manually sort big boxes of merchandise into bins. No people were laid off when the robots were installed, and Amazon found new roles for the displaced workers, Clark said... The question going forward is: What happens when the future generations of robots arrive?"

Power

Tesla Temporarily Boosts Battery Capacity For Hurricane Irma (sfgate.com) 328

Slashdot reader mikeebbbd noticed this in the AP's Florida hurricane coverage: Electric car maker Tesla says it has temporarily increased the battery capacity of some of its cars to help drivers escaping Hurricane Irma. The electric car maker said the battery boost was applied to Model S and X cars in the Southeast. Some drivers only buy 60 or 70 kilowatt hours of battery capacity, but a software change will give them access to 75 kilowatt hours of battery life until Saturday. Depending on the model, that could let drivers travel about 40 more miles before they would need to recharge their cars.

Tesla said it made the change after a customer asked the company for help evacuating. The company said it's possible it will make similar changes in response to similar events in the future.

Robotics

Swarms Of Flying Robot Bees Could Monitor Weather, Collect Data (venturebeat.com) 60

An anonymous reader quotes VentureBeat: Native honeybees, one of the most prolific pollinators in the animal kingdom, are dying off at an unprecedented rate from Colony Collapse Disorder and threatening an ecosystem service worth about $15 billion. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the RoboBees project looks to minimize the loss of this critical resource with new microbots that can mimic the pollinating role of a honeybee... In a remarkable display of biomimicry, scientists have developed a flight-capable robot that's just half the size of a paperclip and weighs in at one tenth of a gram... The RoboBees project pushes the boundaries of research in a variety of fields, from micromanufacturing to energy storage and even the computer algorithms that control the robots by the swarm...

While the effect of a single robot might be miniscule, a coordinated group of hundreds, thousands, or millions of RoboBees could perform a host of unprecedented tasks. Aside from pollinating plants for agricultural purposes, the RoboBees could coordinate to digitally map terrain, monitor weather conditions, and even assist in relief efforts after a disaster, through data collection. While RoboBees are only intended as a stopgap measure for honeybee loss, the potential applications of the technology have the world holding its breath for the next breakthrough.

Hardware

Can We Surpass Moore's Law With Reversible Computing? (ieee.org) 118

"It's not about an undo button," writes Slashdot reader marcle, sharing an article by a senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories who's studying advanced technologies for computation. "Just reading this story bends my mind." From IEEE Spectrum: [F]or several decades now, we have known that it's possible in principle to carry out any desired computation without losing information -- that is, in such a way that the computation could always be reversed to recover its earlier state. This idea of reversible computing goes to the very heart of thermodynamics and information theory, and indeed it is the only possible way within the laws of physics that we might be able to keep improving the cost and energy efficiency of general-purpose computing far into the future... Today's computers rely on erasing information all the time -- so much so that every single active logic gate in conventional designs destructively overwrites its previous output on every clock cycle, wasting the associated energy. A conventional computer is, essentially, an expensive electric heater that happens to perform a small amount of computation as a side effect...

[I]t's really hard to engineer a system that does something computationally interesting without inadvertently incurring a significant amount of entropy increase with each operation. But technology has improved, and the need to minimize energy use is now acute... In 2004 Krishna Natarajan (a student I was advising at the University of Florida) and I showed in detailed simulations that a new and simplified family of circuits for reversible computing called two-level adiabatic logic, or 2LAL, could dissipate as little as 1 eV of energy per transistor per cycle -- about 0.001 percent of the energy normally used by logic signals in that generation of CMOS. Still, a practical reversible computer has yet to be built using this or other approaches.

The article predicts "if we decide to blaze this new trail of reversible computing, we may continue to find ways to keep improving computation far into the future. Physics knows no upper limit on the amount of reversible computation that can be performed using a fixed amount of energy."

But it also predicts that "conventional semiconductor technology could grind to a halt soon. And if it does, the industry could stagnate... Even a quantum-computing breakthrough would only help to significantly speed up a few highly specialized classes of computations, not computing in general."
Iphone

Hobbyist Gives iPhone 7 the Headphone Jack We've Always Wanted (engadget.com) 194

intellitech shares a report from Engadget: For those of you who miss the iPhone headphone jack, you're definitely not alone. But Strange Parts creator Scotty Allen missed it so much that he decided to add one to his iPhone 7. He just posted a video of the project's entire saga, with all of its many ups and downs, and in the end he holds what he set out to create -- a current generation iPhone with a fully functional headphone jack. It turns out, real courage is adding the headphone jack back to the iPhone. The project took around 17 weeks to complete and throughout it Allen spent thousands of dollars on parts including multiple iPhones and screens and handfuls of lightning to headphone adaptors. Along the way, Allen bought a printer, a nice microscope and fancy tweezers. He had to design his own circuit boards, have a company manufacture multiple iterations of flexible circuit boards and at one point early on had to consult with a chip dealer that a friend hooked him up with.

The final product works by using a lightning to headphone adaptor that's incorporated into the internal structure of the phone. However, because the headphone jack is powered via the phone's lightning jack with a circuit board switching between the two depending on whether headphones or a charger are plugged into the phone, you can't actually listen to music and charge the phone at the same time.

AI

AI Can Detect Sexual Orientation Based On Person's Photo (cnbc.com) 350

ugen shares a report from CNBC: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now accurately identify a person's sexual orientation by analyzing photos of their face, according to new research. The Stanford University study, which is set to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and was first reported in The Economist, found that machines had a far superior "gaydar" when compared to humans. Slashdot reader randomlygeneratename adds: Researchers built classifiers trained on photos from dating websites to predict the sexual orientation of users. The best classifier used logistic regression over features extracted from a VGG-Face conv-net. The latter was done to prevent overfitting to background, non-facial information. Classical facial feature extraction also worked with a slight drop in accuracy. From multiple photos, they achieved an accuracy of 91% for men and 83% for women (and 81% / 71% for a single photo). Humans were only able to get 61% and 54%, respectively. One caveat is the paper mentions it only used Caucasian faces. The paper went on to discuss how this capability can be an invasion of privacy, and conjectured that other types of personal information might be detectable from photos. The source paper can be found here.
Power

India Aims To Put One Million Electric Vehicles On the Road By Mid-2019 (indiatimes.com) 76

gubol123 shares a report from The Economic Times: Six leading car makers are eyeing the government's plan to buy 10,000 electric vehicles while policy makers are considering generous fiscal incentives to make their capital and running cost cheaper than petrol cars within five years. Broadly, the aim is to put on roads one million electric three-wheelers and 10,000 electric city buses by mid-2019 and make India the world leader in at least some segments of the market as the country strives to shift entirely to battery-powered transportation by 2030. In six to eight months, 10,000 e-vehicles are expected to be running in the national capital region. The tender to buy 10,000 e-vehicles has already attracted Tata Motors, Hyundai, Nissan, Renault, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra, and would be quickly followed by a dramatic scaling up of the e-vehicles program. The tender would be awarded by the end of this month and cars would start rolling in by mid-November.
Android

Galaxy Note 8 Sets New Pre-Order Record For Samsung Despite Last Year's Disaster (theverge.com) 39

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Note brand is still going strong despite Samsung recalling and discontinuing Note 7 devices last year for battery explosions. The company today announced that more customers in the U.S. have preordered the Note 8 than any other Notes it has ever sold in previous years during the same time period. Note 8 preorders went live on August 24th and the device is one of Samsung's most expensive smartphones to date, starting at $930. It's unapologetically pricey, though Samsung did attempt to offset that price tag with some presale offers. Samsung did not specify exactly how many Note 8 preorders it has received so far, but judging by how popular Note 7s were last year before everything went down, it seems that little has deterred Note fans from upgrading -- not even the price tag.
Earth

UN Aviation Agency To Call For Global Drone Registry (reuters.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The United Nations' aviation agency is backing the creation of a single global drone registry, as part of broader efforts to come up with common rules for flying and tracking unmanned aircraft. While the International Civil Aviation Organization cannot impose regulations on countries, ICAO has proposed formation of the registry during a Montreal symposium this month to make data accessible in real time, said Stephen Creamer, director of ICAO's air navigation bureau. The single registry would eschew multiple databases in favor of a one-stop-shop that would allow law enforcement to remotely identify and track unmanned aircraft, along with their operator and owner. It's not yet clear who would operate such a database, although ICAO could possibly fill that role. The proposal, however, could face push back from users, after hobbyists successfully challenged the creation of a U.S. drone registry by the Federal Aviation Administration in court earlier this year.
Desktops (Apple)

The Google Drive App For PC, Mac Is Being Shut Down In March (theverge.com) 92

Google announced in a blog post today that the Google Drive app for desktop will be shut down. The Verge reports: Support will be cut off on December 11th and the app will shut down completely on March 12th, 2018. Users who are still running the Drive app will start seeing notifications in October that it's "going away," and the company will steer customers towards one of two replacements depending on whether they're a consumer or business user. Google Drive the service isn't going anywhere. You can still access it from the web, smartphone apps, and either of the software options mentioned below. Google now has two fairly new software tools for backing up your data and/or accessing files in the cloud. There's Backup and Sync, the all-encompassing consumer app that replaces both the standalone Google Drive and Google Photos Uploader apps. It offers essentially the same functionality as Drive and works much the same way. And on the enterprise side, Google has rolled out Drive File Streamer, which saves space on your local drive while providing access to "all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your computer."
Businesses

iPhone's Summer Production Glitches Create Holiday Jitters (wsj.com) 48

Yoko Kubota, Tripp Mickle, and Takashi Mochizuki, reporting for WSJ: Apple's new iPhone, which is expected to be unveiled Tuesday, was plagued by production glitches early in the manufacturing process this summer, according to people familiar with the situation, which could result in extended supply shortfalls and shipping delays when customers start ordering the device later this month (alternative source). New iPhones are typically in short supply when first released. But if shortfalls of the new phone extend beyond the initial sales period, which is expected to begin September 22, they could weaken analysts' and investors' projections for sales in the crucial holiday period. The production glitches led to a setback of about a month in the manufacturing timetable. Foxconn, the Apple contractor that assembles iPhones, has been ramping up production at its manufacturing complex in Zhengzhou, China. The company is paying bonuses to employees who can help bring new hires on board at its Zhengzhou plant, which Foxconn said in June employs about 250,000 people.
Google

Google Drive Faces Outage, Users Report [Update] (google.com) 75

Numerous Slashdot readers are reporting that they are facing issues access Google Drive, the productivity suite from the Mountain View-based company. Google's dashboard confirms that Drive is facing outage. Third-party web monitoring tool DownDetector also reports thousands of similar complaints from users. The company said, "Google Drive service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change. Google Drive is not loading files and results in a failures for a subset of users."

Update: 09/07 17:13 GMT: Google says it has resolved the issue.
Transportation

Google's Street View Cars Are Now Giant, Mobile 3D Scanners (arstechnica.com) 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google's got a hot new ride. The company has a new Street View car with updated cameras, and -- surprisingly -- a set of Lidar (Light, Detection and Ranging) cans! Google doesn't have anything up officially about this, but Wired has the scoop on the new vehicles. The camera system upgrade -- the first in eight years -- greatly improves the image quality while simplifying the rig. In the main ball, Google is down from 15 cameras to seven, making the whole package a lot smaller. These 20MP cameras are aimed all around the car, and the pictures they take are stitched together into a spherical image for Google Maps. There's more to the cars than just the ball though: there are also a pair of "HD" cameras that face directly left and right. These are dedicated to reading street signs, business names, and even posted store hours; those images are funneled to Google's cloud computers for visual processing. The end result of the new cameras will be prettier Street View shots, with higher resolution, better colors, and fewer stitching errors. The better images should also result in more data for Google's various visual feature-detection algorithms.

Wired's report focuses almost entirely on the new cameras, but I think the the most interesting additions are the two LIDAR pucks that hang just below the camera ball. These are the ubiquitous Velodyne VLP-16 "Puck" sensors, allowing the to car "see" in 3D in 360 degrees. These $8,000 Lidar sensors are most commonly used in autonomous car prototypes, so to see them on a Street View car is unexpected. Don't expect the Street View cars to start driving themselves anytime soon -- as Google Street View's Technical Program Manager Steve Silverman says in Wired's video, the Lidar sensors "are used to position us in the world."

Power

Hackers Have Penetrated Energy Grid, Symantec Warns (fortune.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Hackers have been burrowing their way inside the critical infrastructure of energy and other companies in the U.S. and elsewhere, warns cybersecurity giant Symantec. In a new report, Symantec claims that the threat of cyberattack-induced power outages in the west has elevated from a theoretical concern to a legitimate one in recent months. "We're talking about activity we're seeing on actual operational networks that control the actual power grid," Eric Chien, technical director of security technology and response at Symantec, told Fortune on a call. Reports surfaced over the summer of hackers targeting staff at nuclear energy facilities with phishing attacks, designed to steal login credentials or install malware on machines. The extent of the campaign as well as the question of whether the attackers had breached operational IT networks, rather than merely administrative ones, was unclear at the time. Symantec is now erasing all doubt. "There are no more technical hurdles for them to cause some sort of disruption," Chien said of the hackers. "All that's left is really motivation." Symantec detailed its findings in a report released Wednesday morning. The paper tracks the exploits of a hacker group that Symantec has dubbed DragonFly 2.0, an outfit that the company says it has linked to an earlier series of attacks perpetrated between 2011 and 2014 by a group it dubbed DragonFly.
Hardware

Researchers Find New Way To Build Quantum Computers (reuters.com) 53

An anonymous reader shares a report: Researchers in Australia have found a new way to build quantum computers which they say would make them dramatically easier and cheaper to produce at scale. Quantum computers promise to harness the strange ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at a time to solve problems that are too complex or time-consuming for existing computers. The team from the University of New South Wales say they have invented a new chip design based on a new type of quantum bit, the basic unit of information in a quantum computer, known as a qubit. The new design would allow for a silicon quantum processor to overcome two limitations of existing designs: the need for atoms to be placed precisely, and allowing them to be placed further apart and still be coupled. Crucially, says project leader Andrea Mello, this so-called "flip-flop qubit" means the chips can be produced using the same device technology as existing computer chips.
Android

TrustZone Downgrade Attack Opens Android Devices To Old Vulnerabilities (bleepingcomputer.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bleeping Computer: An attacker can downgrade components of the Android TrustZone technology -- a secure section of smartphone CPUs -- to older versions that feature known vulnerabilities. The attacker can then use previously published exploit code to attack up-to-date Android OS versions. The research team proved their attack in tests on devices running the ARM TrustZone technology, such as Samsung Galaxy S7, Huawei Mate 9, Google Nexus 5, and Google Nexus 6. They replaced updated versions of the Widevine trustlet with an older version that was vulnerable to CVE-2015-6639, a vulnerability in Android's Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment (QSEE) -- Qualcomm's name for its ARM TrustZone version that runs on Qualcomm chips. This vulnerability allows attackers root level access to the TrustZone OS, which indirectly grants the attack control over the entire phone. The research paper is available here, and one of the researcher's authors explains the attack chain in an interview here.
IBM

Lenovo Looks To Commemorate 25th Anniversary of IBM's Notebook Brand With Thinkpad 25 (theregister.co.uk) 132

New submitter Provocateur writes: Lenovo will be marking the 25th anniversary of IBM's well known notebook with the Thinkpad 25. Andrew Orlowski writes via The Register: "The long-awaited 'retro' Thinkpad will be based on the guts of a contemporary T470 laptop, Lenovo's business workhorse, according to a German certification site. Lenovo inherited IBM's notebook brand 12 years ago, and with it a design classic. However, in 2012 Lenovo saw fit to 'modernize' the iconic keyboard, along with other unwelcome changes. This didn't meet with approval from some stalwarts, who clung to the superior X220 and T420 lines, the last that you could buy with the 7 row QWERTY. Two years ago Lenovo's design chief Dave Hill acknowledged that some people 'would stand in line' for the classic version. In June, Hill confirmed that for the Thinkpad's 25th anniversary this year a retro edition would indeed be produced, which Hill promised 'will embody many of the things people asked for.'

The German certification site has found the 'Thinkpad 25' variant described as a Thinkpad T470 here (hat-tip to NoteBook Check). A Chinese notebook forum has a picture purporting to be the Thinkpad 25."

Iphone

How One Writer Is Battling Tech-Induced Attention Disorder (wired.com) 195

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Katie Hafner has spent the last 23 days in rehab. Not for alcoholism or gambling, but for a self-inflicted case of episodic partial attention thanks to her iPhone. On Backchannel, Hafner writes about the detrimental effect the constant stream of pings has had on her, and how her life has come to resemble a computer screen. "I sense a constant agitation when I'm doing something," she says, "as if there is something else out there, beckoning -- demanding -- my attention. And nothing needs to be deferred." "I blame electronics for my affliction," writes Hafner, who says the devices in her life "teem with squirrels." "If I pick up my iPhone to send a text, damned if I don't get knocked off task within a couple of seconds by an alert about Trump's latest tweet. And my guess is that if you have allowed your mind to be as tyrannized by the demands of your devices as I have, you too suffer to some degree from this condition."

Hafner goes on to describe her symptoms of "episodic partial attention" and provide potential fixes for it: "There are the obvious fixes. Address the electronics first: Silence the phone as well as all alerts on your computer, and you automatically banish two squirrels. But how do you shut down the micro-distractions that dangle everywhere in your physical world, their bushy gray tails twitching seductively? My therapy, of my own devising, consists of serial mono-tasking with a big dose of mindful intent, or intentional mindfulness -- which is really just good, old-fashioned paying attention. At first, I took the tiniest of steps. I celebrated the buttoning of a blouse without stopping to apply the hand cream I spotted on the dresser as if I had gotten into Harvard. Each task I took on -- however mundane -- I had to first announce, quietly, to myself. I made myself vow that I would work on that task and only that task until it was finished. Like a stroke patient relearning how to move an arm, I told myself not that I was making the entire bed (too overwhelming), but that I had a series of steps to perform: first the top sheet, then the blankets, then the comforter, then the pillows. Emptying the dishwasher became my Waterloo. Putting dishes away takes time, and it's tedious. Perhaps the greatest challenge lies in the fact that the job requires repeated kitchen crossings. There are squirrels everywhere, none more treacherous than the siren song that is my iPhone."
Businesses

Only 13 Percent of Americans Are Scared Robots Will Take Their Jobs, Gallup Poll Shows (cnbc.com) 267

According to the results of a Gallup poll released mid-August, most employed U.S. adults aren't too worried about technology eliminating their jobs. Only 13 percent of Americans are fearful that tech will eradicate their work opportunities in the near future, according to the poll. Workers are relatively more concerned about immediate issues like wages and benefits. CNBC reports: This corresponds with another recent Gallup survey finding that about one in eight workers, or 13 percent of Americans, also believe it's likely they will lose their jobs due to new technology, automation, robots or AI in the next five years. While the survey reflects a generally confident American workforce, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells CNBC Make It that people should not become complacent.

"Employees need to think of themselves as replaceable in a way that propels them into action," Salemi says, "so they can focus on continuously learning and sharpening their skills." In the meantime, Americans can look to what the tech giants are saying. On the contrary, Salemi emphasizes that Americans shouldn't be paranoid and lose sleep every night. Rather, they should think about AI "from a place of power." "If your job does start to get automated, you'll already have a game plan and solid skill set to back you up for your next career move," she says. If you find yourself in the 13 percent of Americans worried about losing their jobs to robots, Salemi says you can "robot-proof" your job through networking. "Always be on top of your game, she says. "If your industry is becoming more digitally focused, get schooled on specific skills. Instead of being lax about your career, always stay ahead of the curve, keep your resume in circulation, ask yourself where the industry is headed and most importantly where you and your skills fit in."

Microsoft

Microsoft Extends Free Windows 10 S-To-Pro Upgrade Deadline (betanews.com) 93

BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: Windows 10 S is a really great idea in theory. By limiting the operating system to applications from the Windows Store, it could make users safer. After all, it should limit the potential of malware since users can't download and install questionable things from the web. Of course, this will only be successful if there is a good library of apps, and I am sorry to say, the Windows Store is a failure in that regard. The biggest selling point for Windows is legacy program compatibility. Once you take that away, there isn't much left. Thankfully, the company is giving complimentary upgrades from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro until the end of 2017. This will allow a person or organization to easily recover from mistakenly buying into Windows 10 S if it doesn't meet their needs. Today, however, as a sign of weakness, Microsoft extends this deadline. Buried at the end of a blog post about Surface Laptop colors, Microsoft drops the following bombshell: "For those that find they need an application that isn't yet available in the Store and must be installed from another source, we're extending the ability to switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free until March 31, 2018. We hope this provides increased flexibility for those people searching for the perfect back-to-school or holiday gift." Why do I say this is a sign of weakness? Well, if the Windows 10 S experiment was going well, Microsoft would have no need to extend the deadline. In other words, if users were truly buying into and enjoying the "S" experience, we wouldn't see such an announcement. The fact that the company seemingly tried to hide this news is quite telling too. Ultimately, it signals a lack of confidence in Windows 10 S.
Businesses

Power Company Kills Nuclear Plant, Plans $6 Billion In Solar, Battery Investment (arstechnica.com) 390

Socguy writes: After being unable to complete the Levy County Nuclear Plant a few years ago, Duke energy abandoned it, leaving rate payers on the hook. Duke is now in the process of settling legal action as a result. As part of the settlement Duke will construct or acquire 700MW of solar capacity over four years in the western Florida area, construct 50MW of battery storage, undertake grid modernizations and install 530 electric car charging stations. "The Levy nuclear plant was proposed in 2008 and ran into hurdles early on," reports Ars Technica. "With cheap natural gas in 2013, Duke Energy Florida became nervous that it might not recuperate costs spent on the nuclear plant, especially with regulatory delays. The company cancelled its engineering and construction agreements in 2013 but said that it was holding open the possibility of returning to Levy someday. Over nine years, about $800 million had been spent on preparatory work for the plant. With Tuesday's announcement, those costs are sunk costs now. But overall, the changes will save residential customers future nuclear-related rate increases. Those customers will see a cost reduction of $2.50 per megawatt-hour (MWh) 'through the removal of unrecovered Levy Nuclear Project costs,' the utility said. The 700MW of solar won't exactly cover the nameplate capacity of the Levy plant, which was supposed to deliver 2.2 gigawatts to the region. But the Tampa Bay Times wrote that Duke 'is effectively giving up its long-held belief that nuclear power is a key component to its Florida future and, instead, making a dramatic shift toward more solar power.'"
Operating Systems

Is Apple Copying Palm's WebOS? (salon.com) 188

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Salon: Released in 2009 by Palm -- the same company that popularized the PDA in the 1990s -- WebOS pioneered a number of innovations, including multiple synchronized calendars, unified social media and contact management, curved displays, wireless charging, integrated text and Web messaging, and unintrusive notifications [that have all been copied by the mobile operating systems that defeated it on the marketplace]. The operating system, built on top of a Linux kernel, was also legendary for how easily it could be upgraded by users with programming skills. WebOS was also special in that it used native internet technologies like JavaScript for local applications. That was a huge part of why it was able to do so much integration with Web services, something its competitors at the time simply couldn't match.

Apple's upcoming iOS 11 once again demonstrates how far ahead of its time WebOS really was. The yet-to-be-released Apple mobile system has essentially copied the WebOS model for switching apps by having the user swipe upward from the bottom to reveal several "cards" that represent background applications. While Apple's decision to remove its massively overworked Home button is an improvement, it is still an inferior way of switching apps, compared to what you could do on WebOS eight years ago.

Operating Systems

ReactOS 0.4.6 Released (osnews.com) 97

OS News reports that the latest version of ReactOS has been released: 0.4.6 is a major step towards real hardware support. Several dual boot issues have been fixed and now partitions are managed in a safer way avoiding corruption of the partition list structures. ReactOS Loader can now load custom kernels and HALs. Printing Subsystem is still greenish in 0.4.6, however Colin Finck has implemented a huge number of new APIs and fixed some of the bugs reported and detected by the ReactOS automated tests. Regarding drivers, Pierre Schweitzer has added an NFS driver and started implementing RDBSS and RXCE, needed to enable SMB support in the future, Sylvain Petreolle has imported a Digital TV tuning device driver and the UDFS driver has been re-enabled in 0.4.6 after fixing several deadlocks and issues which was making it previously unusable. Critical bugs and leakages in CDFS, SCSI and HDAUDBUS have been also fixed. General notes, tests, and changelog for the release can be found at their respective links. A less technical community changelog for ReactOS 0.4.6 is also available. ISO images are ready at the ReactOS Download page.
AI

Huawei Unveils AI Mobile Chipset Said To Rival A11 Processor In Upcoming iPhones (macrumors.com) 77

On Saturday, Chinese mobile maker Huawei unveiled its first artificial intelligence smartphone chipset, which it hopes will lure customers away from Apple's upcoming range of new iPhones and towards the Asian company's "most powerful handset yet," the Mate 10, which is set to debut next month. Mac Rumors reports: Huawei touted the Kirin 970 AI mobile chipset's built-in "neural processing unit" at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, claiming that the technology is "20 times faster" than a traditional processor. The world's third largest smartphone maker claimed that mobile devices powered by the Kirin 970 will be able to "truly know and understand their users," by supporting real-time image recognition, voice interaction, and intelligent photography with ease. According to Nikkei, the Kirin 970 integrates 5.5 billion transistors in a single square centimeter about the size of a thumbnail, which includes an octa-core central processing unit, a 12-core graphics processing unit, a dual-image signal processor, a high-speed 1.2Gbps Cat.18 modem, and AI mobile computing architecture. The Kirin 970 is said to be based on the same 10-nanometer technology as Apple's existing A10X Fusion processor and the A11 processor that will power its new iPhone range, set to debut this month. The Mate 10 is said to be a bezel-less all-screen handset with a 6-inch, 2:1 display and a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution. Like Apple's so-called "iPhone 8," the Mate 10 is also expected to feature some form of facial recognition and improved cameras.
Earth

The Solar Eclipse of 2017 Destroyed Lots of Rental Camera Gear (petapixel.com) 140

Despite numerous warnings sent out to renters, a number of LensRental's camera equipment came back damaged and destroyed from the solar eclipse of 2017. PetaPixel provides pictures in a report that shows some of the damage. One photo, for example, "shows a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens that had its aperture blades partially melted by the sun during the eclipse," while another shows a Canon 7D Mark II shutter being burned so bad that "the heat went past it and damaged the sensor behind it as well." LensRentals, one of the leading camera rental companies, writes about the destruction in a blog post on their website: The most common problem we've encountered with damage done by the eclipse was sensors being destroyed by the heat. We warned everyone in a blog post to buy a solar filter for your lens, and also sent out mass emails and fliers explaining what you need to adequately protect the equipment. But not everyone follows the rules, and as a result, we have quite a few destroyed sensors. To my personal surprise, this damage was far more visually apparent than I even expected, and the photos below really make it visible.

The images above are likely created because people were shooting in Live View mode, allowing them to compose the image using the back of their screen, instead of risking damage to their eyes by looking through the viewfinder. However, those who didn't use live view (and hopefully guess and checked instead of staring through the viewfinder), were more likely to face damage to their camera's mirror. While this damage was far rarer, we did get one particular camera with a damaged mirror box caused by the sun.

Earth

Finland To Introduce Law Next Year Phasing Out Coal (reuters.com) 176

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Finland will introduce legislation next year to phase out coal and increase carbon taxes, a top government official told Reuters, which would require the country to find alternative energy sources to keep its power system stable. Coal produces roughly 10 percent of the energy consumed by Finland, which is the Nordics' heaviest coal consumer and burned about 4.1 million tons of oil equivalent in 2016. "This strategy has a goal of getting rid of coal as an energy source by 2030 [...] We have to write a law [...] and that will be next year," Riku Huttunen, director general in Finland's energy department, said. The law will, however, leave "room for manoeuvre" to ensure security of supply, he said, meaning coal-fired power plants could still be available to avoid the risk of blackouts. Finland is increasing its nuclear capacity, which could replace coal. But that may not be sufficient, a Nordic power trader said, as Finland will receive less nuclear power from neighboring Sweden, which is phasing out two reactors. Helsinki is raising its nuclear power capacity to reduce dependency on Russian energy imports. Two new reactors, Olkiluoto 3 and Hanhikivi 1, are due to go online in 2018 and 2024, respectively.
AT&T

AT&T Uverse Modems Found To Have Several Serious Security Vulnerabilities (threatpost.com) 75

dustman81 writes: AT&T Uverse modems were found to have several serious vulnerabilities, including a superuser account with hardcoded username/password exposed to the internet via SSH, a HTTP server with little authentication which allows command injection, and an internet exposed service which exposes internal clients to external attacks. Information security consulting and software development firm Nomotion reports the findings in their blog: "It was found that the latest firmware update (9.2.2h0d83) for the NVG589 and NVG599 modems enabled SSH and contained hardcoded credentials which can be used to gain access to the modem's 'cshell' client over SSH. The cshell is a limited menu driven shell which is capable of viewing/changing the WiFi SSID/password, modifying the network setup, re-flashing the firmware from a file served by any tftp server on the internet, and even controlling what appears to be a kernel module whose sole purpose seems to be to inject advertisements into the user's unencrypted web traffic. Although no clear evidence was found suggesting that this module is actually being used currently, it is present, and vulnerable. Aside from the most dangerous items listed above, the cshell application is also capable of many other privileged actions. The username for this access is remotessh and the password is 5SaP9I26." The report continues to detail the other vulnerabilities: Default credentials 'caserver' https server NVG599; Command injection 'caserver' https server NVG599; Information disclosure/hardcoded credentials; and Firewall bypass no authentication.

Further reading: FierceTelecom; The Register

Displays

Sharp Announces 8K Consumer TVs Now That We All Have 4K (theverge.com) 285

Thuy Ong reports via The Verge: Now that you've upgraded to a shiny new 4K TV, Sharp has revealed its latest screen to stoke your fear of missing out: a 70-inch Aquos 8K TV. That 8K (7,680 x 4,320) resolution is 16 times that of your old Full HD (1920 x 1080) TV. Sharp calls it "ultimate reality, with ultra-fine details even the naked eye cannot capture," which doesn't seem like a very good selling point. Keep in mind that having a screen with more pixels doesn't buy you much after a certain point, because those pixels are invisible from a distance -- while an 8K panel would be beneficial as a monitor, where you're sitting close, it won't buy you much when leaning back on the couch watching TV. HDR, however, is something else entirely, and fortunately, Sharp's new 8K set is compatible with Dolby Vision HDR and BDA-HDR (for Blu-ray players). The lack of available 8K HDR content is also a problem. But there is some content floating around. The TV will be rolling out to China and Japan later this year, and then Taiwan in February 2018. Sharp is repurposing its 70-inch 8K TV as an 8K monitor (model LV-70X500E) for Europe, which will be on sale in March. There is no news about a U.S. release.
Communications

Germany Unveils World's Most Powerful X-Ray Laser (theguardian.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The world's most powerful X-ray laser has begun operating at a facility where scientists will attempt to recreate the conditions deep inside the sun and produce film-like sequences of viruses and cells. The machine, called the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL), acts as a high-speed camera that can capture images of individual atoms in a few millionths of a billionth of a second. Unlike a conventional camera, though, everything imaged by the X-ray laser is obliterated -- its beam is 100 times more intense than if all the sunlight hitting the Earth's surface were focused onto a single thumbnail. The facility near Hamburg, housed in a series of tunnels up to 38 meters underground, will allow scientists to explore the architecture of viruses and cells, create jittery films of chemical reactions as they unfold and replicate conditions deep within stars and planets.

XFEL is the world's third major X-ray laser facility -- projects in Japan and the U.S. have already spawned major advances in structural biology and materials science. The European beam is more powerful, but most significantly has a far higher pulse rate than either of its predecessors. "They can send 100 pulses out per second, we can send 27,000," said Robert Feidenhan'l, chairman of the European XFEL management board. This matters because to study chemical reactions or biological processes, the X-ray strobe is used to capture flickering snapshots of the same system at different time-points that can be stitched together into a film sequence.

Cellphones

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Navigate Your Smartphone? 66

There are many different ways to navigate a smartphone. Some devices employ capacitive touch navigation buttons in favor of on-screen navigation buttons for the back, home and overview commands. Others, such as the recently released Moto Z2 Force and Moto Z2 Play, feature a mini trackpad under the display that lets users navigate their device through a series of swipes (on-screen navigation buttons are used by default, but the option to use the "one button nav" mini trackpad can be enabled in the settings). The upcoming iPhone 8, for example, may feature a software bar in lieu of a physical/virtual home button, introducing new gesture controls for returning to the home screen and switching between apps.

How do you navigate your smartphone? Given the many different options available on the market, do you think there is one method of navigation that trumps the others, or is it a classic case of "different strokes for different folks?"
Communications

New Qualcomm Auto Chipset Advances Vehicle-To-Everything Communications (zdnet.com) 24

Qualcomm has introduced a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) chipset and reference design that aims to bring automakers one step closer to deploying the communications systems necessary for fully autonomous vehicles. Ford, Audi, the PSA Group and SAIC are all endorsing the new chipset. ZDNet reports: The Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset, expected to be available for commercial sampling in the second half of 2018, is based on specs from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's C-V2X reference design will feature the 9150 C-V2X chipset, an application processor running the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) V2X stack, as well as a Hardware Security Module (HSM). C-V2X technology encompasses two transmission modes: direct communications and network-based communications. It's key for both safety features and for implementing autonomous driving capabilities.

For instance, its direct communications capabilities improve a vehicle's situational awareness by detecting and exchanging information using low latency transmissions. Relying on the globally harmonized 5.9 GHz ITS band, the 9150 C-V2X chipset can relay information on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) scenarios without the need for a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), cellular subscription or network assistance. On top of that, C-V2X network-based communications (designed for 4G and emerging 5G wireless networks) supports telematics, connected infotainment and a growing number of advanced informational safety use cases.

Data Storage

SanDisk Breaks Storage Record With 400GB MicroSD Card (extremetech.com) 70

SanDisk has managed to cram 400GB into a microSD card, making it the largest microSD card currently on the market. The company said the capacity breakthrough was the result of Western Digital, the company that owns SanDisk, "leveraging its proprietary memory technology and design and production processes that allow for more bits per die." The nitty-gritty details weren't revealed beyond that. ExtremeTech reports: The speed appears to come with a tradeoff. SanDisk trumpets its A1 speed rating, saying: "Rated A1, the SanDisk Ultra microSD card is optimized for apps, delivering faster app launch and performance that provides a better smartphone experience." This is a generous reading of the A1's target performance specification. Last year, the SD Association released a report discussing the App Performance Class memory card specification and why the spec was created in the first place. When Android added support for running applications from an SD card, there was a need to make certain the cards people bought would be quick enough to run apps in the first place. The A1 is rated for 1500 read and 500 write IOPS, with a sequential transfer speed of 10MB/s.

This SanDisk drive should run applications just fine. SanDisk claims it can be used for recording video, not just storing it. But it's not going to be fast enough for 4K data; Class 10 devices are limited to 10MB/s of sequential write performance. Obviously not all phones support shooting in 4K anyway, so whether this is a limitation will depend on what device you plan to plug it into. The 100MB/s speed trumpeted by Western Digital is a reference to read speeds; write speeds are lower and likely closer to the 10MB/s sequential target mentioned above. The microSD card is expected to retail for $250.

Android

LG Announces V30 Smartphone With 'FullVision' OLED Display, Dual Cameras (phonedog.com) 45

At a press conference in Berlin, LG announced their newest flagship smartphone, the LG V30. The V30 doesn't feature a removable battery or a secondary display like its predecessor, but it does feature faster performance and a significantly redesigned build construction that puts in more in line with Samsung and Apple's offerings. PhoneDog reports: A bigger device with beefier specs, the LG's V series took more design cues from the G series this year more than ever. As expected, LG got rid of the secondary display in favor of a single 6-inch LG P-OLED display (not Super AMOLED, although practically the same with rich black and vibrant colors). The V30 switches out its secondary display for slimmer bezels, which may prove to be a smart move considering how popular the concept is this year. Specs look pretty solid, although there were reports that the device would feature 6GB of RAM rather than 4GB. The bread and butter of the V30 are its sophisticated audio and its dual rear camera set-up. Speaking of the back of the device, another small advantage that LG may have over the competition is the center placement of its rear fingerprint sensor, which has been a bit of a pain point for Samsung this year with the S8 and the Note 8. The LG V30 is set to release on September 21 in South Korea, with releases in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe following shortly after. LG also has yet to announce a price for the V30, although rumors peg it to be around 800,000 KRW in South Korea (which equates to about $699 in the U.S.). For those interested, GSMArena has a full spec sheet available for the LG V30. Some of the noteworthy specs include a 6-inch LG P-OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and QHD (1440 x 2880) resolution, Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB RAM, dual 16-megapixel/13-megapixel rear-facing camera sensors, headphone jack, 32-bit/192kHz audio, wireless charging and Android 7.1.2 Nougat.
AMD

AMD Releases Ryzen PRO Processors Worldwide, 8-Core Ryzen Threadripper 1900X (techradar.com) 94

Today, AMD announced the global release and broad adoption of AMD Ryzen Pro desktop processors. At its launch event in New York City, the company touted three main pillars that define these chipsets: reliability, security, and performance. They support features like Trusted Platform Module 2.0, which integrates secure microcontrollers into devices, GuardMI technology, which enables silicon-level security to help protect against threats, and SenseMI technology, which consists of a collection of smart features that aims to fine-tune performance for most responsive applications. For the first time, AMD has partnered with the top three PC OEMs: HP, Dell and Lenovo. Brad Chacos for PCWorld provides a "rundown of the commercial-focused Ryzen Pro systems that are coming down the pipeline, straight from AMD":

-Dell Optiplex 5055 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-HP EliteDesk 705 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-Lenovo ThinkCentre M715 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-Lenovo ThinkPad A475 and A275 notebook PCs are expected in Q4 2017.
-Ryzen PRO mobile processors are scheduled for launch in the first half of 2018.

The global launch of the Ryzen Pro processors is not the only bit of news AMD announced. The company also announced the release of a new budget Threadripper 1900X model. From a report via TechRadar: AMD has released its 8-core Ryzen Threadripper 1900X processor, offering people who were put off by high price of the flagship 16-core Threadripper 1950X a chance to build a PC with all of the advanced Threadripper features for almost half the cash. As we expected, the Threadripper 1900X will come with eight cores clocked at 3.8GHz, with a turbo that reaches 4.0GHz (and an XFR boost to 4.2GHz), and will cost $549 -- almost half the Threadripper 1950X's $999 asking price, and a fair bit cheaper than the mid-range Threadripper 1920X, which costs $799. In fact, the price is within touching distance of the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X, which comes with eight cores and 16 threads, and costs $499.
Power

Cummins Unveils Electric Semi Truck Before Tesla (autoblog.com) 264

Cummins has beat Tesla to the punch by unveiling its own electric semi truck. According to Forbes, the fully electric, class 7 day-cab urban hauler, called Aeos, gets 100 miles of range from its 140-kWh battery pack and can haul a 22-ton trailer. While the company does offer the options of additional battery packs to triple the range or a range-extending engine generator, the Aeos is better suited for city use rather than long-haul trucking. Autoblog reports: While this electric truck is a concept, it's a working demonstration of a product Cummins plans to start producing in 2019. At the unveiling in Columbus, Ind., Cummins also revealed its latest near-zero-emissions natural gas engines, as well as the X15 and lightweight X12 clean diesel engines. The company said it is embracing new technologies that allow its customers to contribute to a sustainable future.
Robotics

New T-Shirt Sewing Robot Can Make As Many Shirts Per Hour As 17 Factory Workers (qz.com) 409

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: In 2015, after years of research, SoftWear Automation introduced LOWRY, a sewing robot, or sewbot, that uses machine vision to spot and adjust to distortions in the fabric. Though initially only able to make simple products, such as bath mats, the technology is now advanced enough to make whole t-shirts and much of a pair of jeans. According to the company, it also does it far faster than a human sewing line. SoftWear Automation's big selling point is that one of its robotic sewing lines can replace a conventional line of 10 workers and produce about 1,142 t-shirts in an eight-hour period, compared to just 669 for the human sewing line. Another way to look at it is that the robot, working under the guidance of a single human handler, can make as many shirts per hour as about 17 humans. The company has emerged as a leader among those trying to automate sewing, drawing the interest of businesses that make home goods and of course clothing manufacturers, including Tianyuan Garments Company, a Chinese firm that produces for brands such as Adidas and Armani. Tianyuan Garments has invested $20 million in a 100,000-square foot factory in Little Rock, Arkansas, planned to open in 2018. The factory will be staffed with 21 robotic production lines supplied by SoftWear Automation, and will be capable of making 1.2 million t-shirts a year.
Google

Google Assistant Coming Soon To More Speakers, Appliances and Other Devices (techcrunch.com) 50

Google announced today several new third-party speakers that will support the Assistant. Their blog post is a follow-up to a post in May where they announced the general availability of the Google Assistant SDK, which lets anyone download and run the Google Assistant on the gadget of their choice. TechCrunch reports: That's likely to be good for both the voice-powered assistant market, as well as for Google's ability to use its service to collect useful data which it can then use to work on its advertising and marketing products. The more places Assistant appears, the more likely it is that people will engage with the voice companion, and that's not territory Google wants to cede to someone like Amazon. Some of the devices getting Google Assistant coming to IFA include the Anker Zolo Mojo, a small cylinder speaker that's sort of like a third-party Google Home, which will go on sale in late October. Two other smart speakers powered by Assistant, including the Panasonic GA10 and the TicHome Mini, are also on their way. Google is also now making it possible to use Assistant to check on the state of your laundry or dishes, using an integration with LG's line of home appliances, which also includes voice commands for LG's Roomba competitor.
The Almighty Buck

Best Buy Will Now Send a Salesperson To Your House To Sell You Things (theverge.com) 144

An anonymous reader writes: Starting next month, Best Buy will launch a free service where salespeople will come to your house to make recommendations about gadgets and services to try and sell you stuff. The service has been in testing in five markets and will be expanded to more cities around the U.S., according to the Associated Press. The Verge reports: "Best Buy has found that shoppers spend more money when at home than in store. CEO Hubert Joly says the in-house service is one way the company will open up 'latent' customer demand. Sales associates are responsible for promoting the service -- when customers ask about certain products, the salesperson will suggest an in-home visit. The topics discussed during the home visits usually involve recommendations for products and gadgets, and other services. Best Buy says the salespeople working in the in-home service receive hourly rates, or a salary, and not commissions. The company already operates a 'Geek Squad' facility, but that's a paid service that offers repairs and installations."
Data Storage

APFS Is Not Optional (apple.com) 330

From a new Apple knowledge base article: When you upgrade to macOS High Sierra, systems with all flash storage configurations are converted automatically. Systems with hard disk drives (HDD) and Fusion drives won't be converted to APFS. You can't opt-out of the transition to APFS.
Robotics

South Korea Moves Towards The World's First 'Robot Tax' (zdnet.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: It's being called the world's first robot tax. If it goes into effect, South Korea will be the first country to change its tax laws in recognition of the coming burden of mass robotic automation on low and middle-skill workers. The change proposed by the Moon Jae-in administration isn't a direct tax on robots. Rather, policymakers have proposed limiting tax incentives on investments in automation... Under existing law, South Korean companies that buy automation equipment, such as warehouse and factory robots, can deduct between three and seven percent of their investment. The current proposal, which seems likely to advance, is to reduce the deduction rate by up to two percentage points.

The move is evidently not an attempt to staunch companies from adopting automation technology. Rather, it is a kind of formal acknowledgment that unemployment is coming on a big enough scale to eat into South Korea's tax revenue. Policymakers are hoping that reducing the deduction incentives by a couple percentage points will offset the lost income tax and help keep the country's social services and welfare coffers filled.

The Korea Times, which broke the story, reminds readers that former U.S. treasury secretary Lawrence Summers has called robot taxes "profoundly misguided... A sufficiently high tax on robots would prevent them from being produced."
Businesses

Domino's Market Tests A Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Car (cnn.com) 145

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Someday soon your Domino's Pizza could be delivered to you -- without an actual delivery person. Ford and Domino's are testing out a specially-equipped Ford Fusion that comes not only with self-driving technology but also an oven. It sounds cool but there is a catch -- there's no one to walk the pizza to your front door and ring the bell. That's what Ford and Domino's say they're really testing. "How will customers react to coming outside to get their food?" Domino's president Russell Weiner said in a statement, "We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple."

During the testing phase, an engineer and a driver will be in the car -- but the windows will be heavily tinted so customers can't see them. And both have been instructed not to interact with people at all. Domino's wants to see how well customers deal with coming out and getting their own pie from what is, basically, a pizza ATM built into the car. To get their pizzas, customers will have to enter a number on the touchpad, then a back window will lower, revealing the pizza. Over the next five weeks, randomly selected customers around Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be offered the option of getting their pizza delivered by the hi-tech "driverless" car.

Data Storage

BackBlaze's Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017 (backblaze.com) 99

BackBlaze is back with its new hard drive reliability report: Since our last report for Q1 2017, we have added 635 additional hard drives to bring us to the 83,151 drives we'll focus on. We'll begin our review by looking at the statistics for the period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 (Q2 2017). [...] When looking at the quarterly numbers, remember to look for those drives with at least 50,000 drive hours for the quarter. That works out to about 550 drives running the entire quarter. That's a good sample size. If the sample size is below that, the failure rates can be skewed based on a small change in the number of drive failures.

Editor's note: In short: hard drives from HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, and Toshiba were far more reliable than those from Seagate across the models BackBlaze uses in its datacenters.

Android

Tech Firms Team Up To Take Down 'WireX' Android DDoS Botnet (krebsonsecurity.com) 29

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs On Security: A half dozen technology and security companies -- some of them competitors -- issued the exact same press release today. This unusual level of cross-industry collaboration caps a successful effort to dismantle "WireX," an extraordinary new crime machine comprising tens of thousands of hacked Android mobile devices that was used this month to launch a series of massive cyber attacks. Experts involved in the takedown warn that WireX marks the emergence of a new class of attack tools that are more challenging to defend against and thus require broader industry cooperation to defeat. News of WireX's emergence first surfaced August 2, 2017, when a modest collection of hacked Android devices was first spotted conducting some fairly small online attacks. Less than two weeks later, however, the number of infected Android devices enslaved by WireX had ballooned to the tens of thousands. Experts tracking the attacks soon zeroed in on the malware that powers WireX: Approximately 300 different mobile apps scattered across Google's Play store that were mimicking seemingly innocuous programs, including video players, ringtones or simple tools such as file managers.

Experts involved in the takedown say it's not clear exactly how many Android devices may have been infected with WireX, in part because only a fraction of the overall infected systems were able to attack a target at any given time. Devices that were powered off would not attack, but those that were turned on with the device's screen locked could still carry on attacks in the background, they found. The identical press release that Akamai and other firms involved in the WireX takedown agreed to publish says the botnet infected a minimum of 70,000 Android systems, but Seaman says that figure is conservative.

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