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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 20 min 39 sec ago

Verizon, Apple continue to lobby against your 'right to repair'

Tuesday 30th of January 2018 11:36:42 PM
Third party phone repair shops say that phone makers like Apple and game console makers like Sony and Microsoft have effectively monopolized repair, using their size and power to drive smaller companies out of business. Verizon and Apple have worked in union to thwart such bills in several states, but traditionally don't like to publicly talk about their lobbying on this front. They now have another state to worry about, with Washington State considering their own right to repair bill, created in the wake of outrage over Apple's decision to throttle the performance of older phones to (Apple insists) protect device integrity in the wake of failing battery performance. I've said it a million times by now, but I see no reason why computers should be treated any different than cars: PC and phone makers should be forced to publicise the necessary information to allow third-party repair shops to repair their devices, all without voiding warranty.

How Apple built a chip powerhouse

Tuesday 30th of January 2018 11:35:21 PM
For several years, Apple has been steadily designing more and more of the chips powering its iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches. This creates a better user experience and helps trump rivals. Recently the company got a fresh incentive to go all-in on silicon: revelations that microprocessors with components designed by Intel Corp., Arm Holdings Plc and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. are vulnerable to hacking. [...] That original “system-on-a-chip” has since been succeeded by increasingly powerful processors. Today, Apple packs its devices with custom components that process artificial intelligence tasks, track your steps, power game graphics, secure Face ID or Touch ID data, run the Apple Watch, pair AirPods to your phone and help make Macs work the way they do. The result: a chip powerhouse that could one day threaten the dominance of Qualcomm Inc. and even, eventually, Intel. Apple's chip business really puts the company in a unique position. No other phone or PC maker can rely on such a powerful chip division, with the exception of Samsung, but Samsung's own ARM chips are nowhere near as powerful as Apple's. Assuming Apple manages to turn their chip prowess into real-world advantages for users, it'll be hard for competitors to catch up.

Microsoft releases update to disable Intel's Spectre mitigations

Monday 29th of January 2018 11:17:48 PM
Microsoft has released an update that disables Intel's microcode Spectre mitigations. Intel has reported issues with recently released microcode meant to address Spectre variant 2 (CVE 2017-5715 Branch Target Injection) - specifically Intel noted that this microcode can cause "higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior" and then noted that situations like this may result in "data loss or corruption". Our own experience is that system instability can in some circumstances cause data loss or corruption. On January 22, Intel recommended that customers stop deploying the current microcode version on affected processors while they perform additional testing on the updated solution. We understand that Intel is continuing to investigate the potential effect of the current microcode version, and we encourage customers to review their guidance on an ongoing basis to inform their decisions. This whole thing is a mess.

Extensions in Firefox 59

Saturday 27th of January 2018 12:54:12 AM
Firefox Quantum continues to make news as Mozilla incorporates even more innovative technology into the platform. The development team behind the WebExtensions architecture is no exception, landing a slew of new API and improvements that can now be found in Firefox 59 (just released to the Beta channel).

Want to see all data Windows 10 sends Microsoft?

Saturday 27th of January 2018 12:47:45 AM
Following the publication last year of the data collected by Windows 10's built-in telemetry and diagnostic tracking, Microsoft today announced that the next major Windows 10 update, due around March or April, will support a new app, the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, that will allow Windows users to browse and inspect the data that the system has collected. While I doubt this tool will alleviate any of the concerns some people have over Windows 10's data collection, it does at least give some insight into what's being sent to Microsoft - assuming, that is, you trust the reporting to be truthful and accurate.

Building a Lightroom PC

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 02:40:05 PM
If there's one thing that will make even the most powerful computer feel like a 7 year old rig, it's Adobe Lightroom paired with RAW files from any high-megapixel camera. In my case, I spent over a year of spare time editing 848GB worth of 11,000+ 42-megapixel RAW photos and 4K videos from my New Zealand trip and making these nine photosets. I quickly realized that my two year old iMac was not up to the challenge. In 2015 I took a stab at solving my photo storage problem with a cloud-backed 12TB Synology NAS. That setup is still running great. Now I just need to keep up with the performance requirements of having the latest camera gear with absurd file sizes. I decided it was time to upgrade to something a bit more powerful. This time I decided to build a PC and switch to Windows 10 for my heavy computing tasks. Yes, I switched to Windows. I love articles like this, because there is no one true way to build a computer for any task, and everyone has their own opinions and ideas and preferences, making sure not one self-built PC is the same as anyone else's. Add in a healthy dose of urban legends and tradition, and you have a great cocktail for endless discussions that never go anywhere. It's clickbait without actually being clickbait.

EU fines Qualcomm for abuse of dominant market position

Wednesday 24th of January 2018 02:34:53 PM
The European Commission has fined Qualcomm €997m for abusing its market dominance in LTE baseband chipsets. Qualcomm prevented rivals from competing in the market by making significant payments to a key customer on condition it would not buy from rivals. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Qualcomm sounds like an upstanding company. Of course, they are appealing the decision.

Unlocked PS4 consoles can now run copies of PS2 games

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 10:35:49 PM
After years of work, hackers have finally managed to unlock the PS4 hardware with an exploit that lets the system run homebrew and pirated PS4 software. In a somewhat more surprising discovery, those hackers have also unlocked the ability to run many PS2 games directly on the console, using the same system-level emulation that powers legitimate PlayStation Classics downloads. That's actually quite useful. Too bad this requires hacking and cracking, instead of it simply being a legitimate option. I have quite a few PS2 games I'd love to play directly on my PS4, instead of having to buy remasters.

Apple Addresses Meltdown and Spectre in macOS

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 10:31:05 PM
Along with macOS High Sierra 10.13.3, Apple this morning released two new security updates that are designed to address the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities on machines that continue to run macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan. As outlined in Apple's security support document, Security Update 2018-001 available for macOS Sierra 10.12.6 and OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 offers several mitigations for both Meltdown and Spectre, along with fixes for other security issues, and the updates should be installed immediately. Together with last week's update, this means the last three major revisions of macOS are now protected from the processor bugs.

DuckDuckGo moves beyond search to also protect you while browsing

Tuesday 23rd of January 2018 10:26:54 PM
Today we're taking a major step to simplify online privacy with the launch of fully revamped versions of our browser extension and mobile app, now with built-in tracker network blocking, smarter encryption, and, of course, private search - all designed to operate seamlessly together while you search and browse the web. Our updated app and extension are now available across all major platforms - Firefox, Safari, Chrome, iOS, and Android - so that you can easily get all the privacy essentials you need on any device with just one download. Seems like a natural extension of what DuckDuckGo is already known for. Nice work.

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