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Exploring the Future of Computing
Updated: 44 min 26 sec ago

Intel opposes Gamergate as part of $300 million effort

Wednesday 7th of January 2015 11:22:22 PM
Intel's big goal last year was to eliminate conflict minerals from its processors and supply chain, and this year it's putting some of its money into something completely different: diversity. During its keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show today, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said the company plans to spend $300 million over the course of the next five years to improve diversity. That goes for both the underrepresentation of women, as well as minorities in the technology industry, something that's become a hot button topic as technology companies try to diversity their workplaces, and increase the appeal of computer science courses. As for why this is happening now, Krzanich cited issues faced in gaming and technology over the past year, alluding to Gamergate, which the company became embroiled in following an advertising snafu. Good move by Intel - and a clear sign the company distances itself sharply from the GamerGate idiots.

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 for OS/2, eComStation released

Wednesday 7th of January 2015 11:20:29 PM
bww bitwise works GmbH announced the availability of 4.1.1 for OS/2 and eComStation. It is offered as a free download in several languages like English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch and Russian. An important piece of software for users of this operating system.

Dell's new XPS 13 has a stunning edge-to-edge display

Tuesday 6th of January 2015 11:51:40 PM
Dell is back with a brand new XPS 13 this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, and it looks like the best one yet. After gradually improving the screen with a new model last year, 2015's XPS 13 will ship with an even better and truly beautiful 13.3-inch "infinity" display. It has an incredibly tiny 5.2mm bezel on the top and sides. While previous models of the XPS 13 have always had an impressively small bezel, the latest feels truly edge-to-edge, and it's dazzling to look at. Dell hasn't just stopped at thin bezels, though, and the 2015 model now has an optional 3200 x 1800 high-resolution touchscreen display. That’s a massive improvement over the 1366 x 768 resolution we disliked on the original. Like so many other Windows laptops over the past few years, this one looks amazing, and can easily hold its own versus a MacBook Air. However, this paragraph doesn't do it for me. You can now imagine me furiously scrolling down and skimming the article, hoping to... Ah, there it is! Alongside that, Dell has vastly improved the trackpad. I usually hate most Windows laptop trackpads, but I was very surprised with the new XPS 13. It’s using a glass button and a precision trackpad, which is something Microsoft has been encouraging OEMs to implement. Precision trackpads allow Windows 8.1 to directly control the pointer, multi-touch, and gesture support in trackpads, making them feel more like a mini touch-screen with smoother scrolling and better zooming and panning support. Gliding around with the Dell XPS 13 felt very smooth, although we’ll need to review it fully to test exactly how good it is. Either way, you’ll want a precision trackpad on your next laptop. Now I'm truly intrigued. Touchpads are the last bastion where Apple's laptops truly outshine the competition by a huge margin, and despite years of tiny improvements, Windows laptops rarely even got close. The first laptop that does... Oh boy.

Google TV, webOS TVs not upgraded to newer versions

Tuesday 6th of January 2015 10:48:56 PM
So, what happens to existing Google TV devices now that Android TV is supposedly the future? Existing Google TV devices and all of the features of these devices will continue to work, and so will the apps you've developed for the Google TV platform. A small subset of Google TV devices will be updated to Android TV, but most Google TV devices won't support the new platform. No updates? Well, I guess Google wanted to maintain consistency with regular Android. But wait! Google isn't the only incompetent player in smart TVs. This is bad. Really. Got the info from LG: "2014 webOS TV models cannot be upgraded to webOS 2.0. Only 2015 TVs will come with webOS 2.0." Smart TVs suck. Apple, when you're done with that horribly ugly watch of yours, please show them how smart TVs are done.

Meet Nokia 215

Tuesday 6th of January 2015 10:40:09 PM
Helping more and more people around the world get online and stay connected, Microsoft introduces the Nokia 215 and Nokia 215 Dual-SIM. With a price tag of just $29 before taxes and subsidies, Nokia 215 is our most affordable Internet-ready entry-level phone yet, perfectly suited for first-time mobile phone buyers or as a secondary phone for just about anyone. I think I'm going to buy one of these, just to see how it holds up. It has most of the services I use on my phone, so I'm wondering if I can take the downgrade while enjoying the crazy awesome battery life.

The real story behind Jeff Bezos' Fire Phone debacle

Tuesday 6th of January 2015 10:36:51 PM
What makes the Fire Phone a particularly troubling adventure, however, is that Amazon's CEO seemingly lost track of the essential driver of his company's brand. It's understandable that Bezos would want to give Amazon a premium shine, but to focus on a high-end product, instead of the kind of service that has always distinguished the company, proved misguided. "We can't compete head to head with Apple," says a high-level source at Lab126. "There is a branding issue: Apple is premium, while our customers want a great product at a great price." The Fire Phone failed not only because it was expensive, but also because its standout features were silly gimmicks, and everything else was just nondescript and boring. You can't sell gimmicky, nondescript, and boring for that kind of money.

So many TVs, so many platforms

Monday 5th of January 2015 10:43:06 PM
Panasonic is opting for Firefox OS. Samsung is going for Tizen. LG is bunkering down with web OS. Sharp is going with Android TV, and Philips has stated all of its TVs will use Android TV. A few questions. One, do we actually want this? Two, where is Microsoft in all this (oh right they dropped the ball)? And three, do we actually want this?

Introducing Google Cast for audio

Monday 5th of January 2015 10:36:15 PM
In 2014, many of you - millions, in fact - helped make Chromecast one of the most popular streaming media devices globally. It's been exciting to bring Chromecast from one country to now 27 countries, with more to come in 2015. Chromecast usage per device has increased by 60% since launch due to the growing roster of new apps and features. And today, we're announcing Google Cast for audio, which embeds the same technology behind Chromecast into speakers, sound bars, and A/V receivers. Just like Chromecast, simply tap the cast button in your favorite music or radio app on Android, iOS, or the web, and select a Google Cast Ready speaker to get the party started. So, at this point I'm the only one who just uses DLNA to play music and video stored on his workstation from my sound system/TV, right?

Unofficial WhatsApp library gets end-to-end encryption

Monday 5th of January 2015 08:12:41 PM
As Slashdot notes: Earlier last year WhatsApp announced partnership with Open WhisperSystems to integrate the ratcheting forward secrecy protocol found in their app called TextSecure, into WhatsApp. The protocol is supposed to provide end-to-end encryption between WhatsApp clients. So far it has been implemented only in WhatsApp on Android, with the rest of platforms yet to come. The implementation however has already made it into unofficial WhatsApp libraries which allow developers to use WhatsApp service in their applications, starting with a python-library called yowsup, and the rest will follow. It's worth mentioning that none of those libraries are supported nor approved by WhatsApp, so one has to wonder if WhatsApp is going to take some legal action (again) against them. I would strongly advise against using any non-WhatsApp approved clients. Users of the unofficial WhatsApp client for Sailfish, Mitakuuluu, got banned from WhatsApp for using an unofficial client, after which Mitakuuluu's developer ceased development. Know what you're getting into!

Intel releases Broadwell-U: New SKUs, up to 48 EUs, Iris 6100

Monday 5th of January 2015 08:05:00 PM
As part of the CES cavalcade of announcements, after launching Core-M back in September, Intel is formally releasing their next element of the 14 nanometer story: Broadwell-U. As the iterative naming over Haswell-U suggests, Broadwell-U will focus on dual-core 15W and 28W units from Celeron to Core i7 using 12 to 48 ­execution units for the integrated graphics. A Broadwell-U processor should drop into any existing Haswell-U equivalent design (i3 to i3) due to pin and architecture compatibility, albeit with a firmware update. As with any node change, the reduction to 14nm affords the usual benefits: more transistors per unit area, lower power consumption for a given design, or the potential to increase performance. Ryan covered the details of Intel's 14nm architecture back as part of the IDF launch, as well as a good deal of the Broadwell architecture itself. The launch today is in essence a specification list with a few extra details, along with potential release dates for Broadwell-U products. The CPUs are already shipping to partners for their designs. Like the previous item about NVIDIA, yet another excellent AnandTech first look at new processor technology - this time from Intel.

NVIDIA Tegra X1 preview & architecture analysis

Monday 5th of January 2015 08:02:13 PM
Now in 2015 and with the launch of the Tegra X1, we can finally begin putting the picture together. Erista as it turns out is something of a rapid release product for NVIDIA; what had been plans to produce a 16nm FF part in 2015 became plans to produce a 20nm part, with Erista to be that part. To pull together Erista NVIDIA would go for a quick time-to-market approach in SoC design, pairing up a Maxwell GPU with ARM Cortex A57 & A53 GPUs, to be produced on TSMC's 20nm SoC process.

'Apple has lost the functional high ground'

Monday 5th of January 2015 09:08:26 AM
Apple's hardware today is amazing - it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future. I'm typing this on a computer whose existence I didn't even think would be possible yet, but it runs an OS riddled with embarrassing bugs and fundamental regressions. Just a few years ago, we would have relentlessly made fun of Windows users for these same bugs on their inferior OS, but we can't talk anymore. Apple has completely lost the functional high ground. "It just works" was never completely true, but I don't think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer. We now need to treat Apple's OS and application releases with the same extreme skepticism and trepidation that conservative Windows IT departments employ. It took them a little longer than the rest of us, but even Apple bloggers are starting to see the obvious.

Xiaomi revenue doubled to $12 billion in 2014

Sunday 4th of January 2015 04:25:43 PM
Fast-growing Chinese tech firm Xiaomi Technology Ltd Co booked 74.3 billion yuan ($11.97 billion) in pre-tax sales last year, up 135 percent from 2013, the firm's chief executive Lei Jun said on his official microblog account on Sunday. [...] Xiaomi sold a total of just over 61 million phones in 2014, up 227 percent from a year earlier, Lei added in a post on his Sina Weibo microblog account. The post did not give a related profit figure, although a filing last month showed that the firm was grappling with razor thin margins as it rapidly expands. A part of the business made around 347.5 million yuan net profit last year on revenue of 26.6 billion yuan and an operating margin of just 1.8 percent. Shamelessness sells.

Home computers behind the Iron Curtain

Sunday 4th of January 2015 02:28:25 PM
I was born in 1973 in Czechoslovakia. It was a small country in the middle of Europe, unfortunately on the dark side of the Iron Curtain. We had never been a part of Soviet Union (as many think), but we were so-called "Soviet Satellite", side by side with Poland, Hungary, and East Germany. My hobbies were electronics and - in the middle of 80s - computers. The history of computers behind the Iron Curtain is very interesting, with a lot of unusual moments. For example - communists at first called cybernetics as "bourgeois' pseudoscience" (as well as sociology or semiotics), "used to enslave a mankind by machines". But later on they understood the importance of computers, primarily for science and army. So in 50s the Eastern Bloc started to build its own computers, separately and "in its own way". Absolutely, positively, fascinating. History is written by the winners, so I'm very happy we're still getting the other side of the story, too.

Why Rosyna can't take a movie screenshot

Sunday 4th of January 2015 02:22:48 PM
Given that the ME sits in a position where it can configure the chipset and operate on the PCI bus, there are some serious security implications here I wish I could mitigate. Among them is the ability of the ME to run arbitrary code on the host CPU via option ROMs or presenting a disk-drive to boot from. Also among those abilities is the possibility to perform DMA to access host CPU memory. And another one is the ability to configure and use PCI devices present in the system (such as the ethernet card). As a consumer, I didn't ask for these features. It'd be great to turn them all off. A hardware switch even. And BIOS settings do have a way to "Disable" the ME. But is it truly disabled? It will still run some code at startup I assume. And given that the Intel ME's security model requires that the host CPU is less privileged than the Intel ME, how can the host CPU really turn it off? One example of how the ME is more privileged is the ability to walk around VT-d configuration when performing memory access, which is possibly something required to make PAVP secure. Baseband processors, FireWire, Apple's Thunderbolt, IME - you may think your operating system is secure, and even if that were true (it isn't), there's still dozens of little pieces of firmware in every machine you own - from your smartwatch to your car - which are closed off, impenetrable black boxes of crappy, insecure code. As for who or what 'Rosyna' is - I think she or he is a person the author knows. Took me a little while to figure that one out (I thought it was a computer program at first). Not really relevant to the story at hand, but I figured I'd save you the confusion.

"2015 is the year of the Apple Watch"

Saturday 3rd of January 2015 12:09:22 AM
From Apple's financial followers to the culture pages, expect few technology topics to garner as much attention in 2015 as the Apple Watch, which is set to launch "early" in the year. Why? Because it's not just a new gadget. Several people, companies, and entire industries are counting on it to be a hit. Without hyperbole, the Apple Watch has the potential to create new billionaires and to change the way people live. The Apple Watch will sell well, surely. However, this article is definitely not without hyperbole. It will not create new billionaires (well, maybe some Apple employees). It will not "change the way people live". I'm not a fan of making predictions, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Apple Watch - and the entire smartwatch market - is not going to be all that the technology press wants it to be. My Moto 360 is already in a drawer.

Alcatel's Pixi phone can run Windows, Android, or Firefox OS

Friday 2nd of January 2015 06:58:53 PM
Fresh off the news that it's acquired the Palm brand, Alcatel has a new Pixi for us. It's not actually the first Pixi from the budget phone maker, but it is pretty unique in its own right: the phone is compatible with three operating systems, being able to run Windows Phone, Android, or Firefox OS. The OS-agnostic Pixi 3 comes in four variants, with a 3.5-inch display 3G model, and three larger versions adding LTE and coming in at 4, 4.5, and 5 inches in size. alcatel is also releasing a round smartwatch which actually looks kind of nice, but appears to be running some custom software instead of Wear.

Lessons from the remarkable rise and fall of Symbian

Friday 2nd of January 2015 06:54:49 PM
David Wood, one of the founder executives of Symbian - and the one who saw it through to the bitter end - has written a book. A very big book. Smartphones and beyond: Lessons from the remarkable rise and fall of Symbian tells the entire story from Symbian's conception, to world domination, to its rapid demise, and it must be one of the most candid and revealing books a technology executive has ever written. The Register's Andrew Orlowski has published a review.

Thunderstrike: firmware vulnerability in Apple's EFI

Thursday 1st of January 2015 01:08:18 PM
This is an annotated version of my 31C3 talk on Thunderstrike, a significant firmware vulnerability in Apple's EFI firmware that allows untrusted code to be written to the boot ROM and can resist attempts to remove it. Very detailed write-up on this remarkable vulnerability.

Analyst: Android hardware profits dropped in 2014

Wednesday 31st of December 2014 01:47:27 PM
While Android continued to gain market share in the global smartphone market, it saw a significant drop on another key metric: Profits. Analyst Chetan Sharma estimates that global profits in the Android hardware market for 2014 were down by half from the prior year - the first year that there has been any significant drop. Google doesn't care, because this is exactly what Google wants. Google wants its services to be everywhere, and Android is the means. Smartphones need to be ubiquitous, and thanks to Android, they now pretty much are. Mission accomplished.

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