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HP's Omen 15 is the First Gaming Laptop With a 240Hz Display
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
HP has just upped the refresh rate ante with its latest Omen 15. From a report: The company says it's the world's first gaming laptop with a 15.6-inch 1080p 240Hz IPS display, meaning it should stay ahead of even the quickest-shooting gamer. The laptop itself should also be able to keep up with the screen, as it's equipped with NVIDIA's latest mobile graphics, an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of RAM and the latest 802.11ax wireless, aka "WiFi 6." The Omen 15 arrives in February at a starting price of $1,370.

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AMD's New 12nm Ryzen Laptop Chips Look To Put the Pressure on Intel
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's competition-heating-up department:
AMD has been pushing its Ryzen lineup of processors for a few years now, with the company looking to put pressure on Intel's seemingly unbeatable hold on the chip landscape. From a report: At CES 2019, AMD unveiled its second generation of Ryzen laptop chips, which look to jump ahead of Intel's 14nm roadblock to offer some of the first 12nm processors on the market. To that end, AMD is launching a new lineup of Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7 chips across both the 15W U-series and 35W H-series lineups, almost all of which are built off of the company's new 12nm Zen+ architecture. For the more powerful H-series, there are a pair of new chips: the Ryzen 7 3750H, offering four cores / eight threads, a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz (which can boost to 4.0 GHz), and the Ryzen 5 3550H, also a four core / eight thread processor, but with a 2.1 GHz base speed (which can boost to 3.7 GHz), and only eight GPU cores to the Ryzen 7 3750H's ten. Further reading: AMD Gets Serious About Chromebooks at CES 2019.

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Google Says Assistant Will Be On a Billion Devices By the End of the Month, Up From Around 400 Million Devices Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department:
Days after Amazon revealed that 100 million Alexa-enabled devices have been sold, Google said today that it expects the billionth device with its AI Assistant to be sold later this month. From a report: Ahead of CES this morning, Google dropped a little stat update: Google expects Assistant to be on 1 billion devices total by the end of this month. That's up from around 400M devices this time a year ago. Google first announced Assistant back in May of 2016. By October of that year, they'd rolled it out to the Pixel/Pixel XL; nowadays, it's on TVs, smart speakers, tablets, smart watches, and just about every new Android phone that hits the market.

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The Billion-Dollar Bet on the Future of Magnetic Storage
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
For several decades, the areal density of hard disks increased by an average of nearly 40 percent each year. But in recent years, that rate has slowed to around 10 percent. Seagate and Western Digital, the leading manufacturers of hard drives, differ with each other on how to get around this. From a report: In back-to-back announcements in October 2017, Western Digital pledged to begin shipping drives based on what is known as microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) in 2019, and Seagate said it would have drives that incorporate heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) on the market by 2020. If one company's solution proves superior, it will reshape a US $24 billion industry and set the course for a decade of advances in magnetic storage. Companies that wish to store huge amounts of data do have other options, but hard drives are still the go-to choice for enterprise storage needs that fall somewhere between faster, more expensive solid-state drives built on flash memory, and slower, cheaper magnetic tape.

Seagate now aims to debut a 20+ terabyte drive based on HAMR in 2020, and Western Digital promises MAMR drives that will hold roughly 16 TB later this year. Western Digital expects to quickly scale up to MAMR drives with 40 TB of capacity by 2025, while Seagate believes it can achieve similar capacities through HAMR, though it has not publicly stated a target date. Both companies are essentially starting from the same place, with hard drives that share a few key components. The disk, for example, is a thin platter that has been coated with some form of magnetic material made up of countless individual grains, each of which is magnetized in one particular direction. Ten or so grains in a cluster, all with magnetization pointing in the same direction, represent a bit.

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Germany Reportedly Seeks US Assistance After Hacking Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
German authorities sought help from the U.S. National Security Agency after discovering that hackers had released private data linked to Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of other German politicians, Bild newspaper reported. From a report: Responding to the biggest data dump of its kind in the country, German investigators wanted the U.S. intelligence agency to lean on Twitter to shut down profiles with links to the data, Bild said, citing unidentified security officials. German authorities argued that U.S. citizens were among thousands of people exposed by the data dump. As investigators seek to find out how data including email addresses, mobile phone numbers and private chat protocols were exposed, politicians took aim at Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, known as BSI, for failing to respond after receiving initial indications in December.

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Chinese Tech Investors Flee Silicon Valley as Trump Tightens Scrutiny
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
New Trump administration policies aimed at curbing China's access to American innovation have all but halted Chinese investment in U.S. technology startups, as both investors and startup founders abandon deals amid scrutiny from Washington. From a report: Chinese venture funding in U.S. startups crested to a record $3 billion last year, according to New York economic research firm Rhodium Group, spurred by a rush of investors and tech companies scrambling to complete deals before a new regulatory regime was approved in August. Since then, Chinese venture funding in U.S. startups has slowed to a trickle, Reuters interviews with more than 35 industry players show. U.S. President Donald Trump signed new legislation expanding the government's ability to block foreign investment in U.S. companies, regardless of the investor's country of origin. But Trump has been particularly vocal about stopping China from getting its hands on strategic U.S. technologies.

The new rules are still being finalized, but tech industry veterans said the fallout has been swift. "Deals involving Chinese companies and Chinese buyers and Chinese investors have virtually stopped," said attorney Nell O'Donnell, who has represented U.S. tech companies in transactions with foreign buyers. Lawyers who spoke to Reuters say they are feverishly rewriting deal terms to help ensure investments get the stamp of approval from Washington. Chinese investors, including big family offices, have walked away from transactions and stopped taking meetings with U.S. startups. Some entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are eschewing Chinese money, fearful of lengthy government reviews that could sap their resources and momentum in an arena where speed to market is critical. This comes at a time when Chinese investors have visibly become more active in emerging markets such as India.

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Elon Musk Breaks Ground on Tesla's Shanghai Factory
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 04:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong celebrated on Monday the ground breaking of the electric automaker's first non-U.S. factory. From a report: "China is becoming the global leader in electric vehicle adoption, and it is a market that is critical to Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy," Musk said, according to a company statement coinciding with the ceremony for the Shanghai factory. In Twitter posts before the event, Musk said that the factory will produce "affordable versions" of Model 3 and Model Y vehicles for the Greater China region, and that the plan is to "finish initial construction this summer, start Model 3 production end of year and reach high volume production next year."

According to the company, the so-called Gigafactory in Shanghai "will allow Tesla to localize production of Model 3 and future models sold in China, with plans to eventually produce approximately 3,000 Model 3 vehicles per week in the initial phase and to ramp up to 500,000 vehicles per year when fully operational (subject to local factors including regulatory approval and supply chain constraints)."

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National Parks Face Years of Damage From Government Shutdown
Posted by News Fetcher on January 07 '19 at 01:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
When the government eventually reopens, park experts warn reversing damage won't be as easy as throwing out the trash. From a report: National parks are America's public lands, but right now they're America's trashcans. That's because the U.S. federal government, embattled over funding for a border wall, has shut down, leaving national parks open and largely unattended. Since the shutdown began, brimming trashcans, overflowing toilets, and trespassing has been reported at many parks locations. "Never before have I seen the federal government tempt fate in national parks the way we are today," says Diane Regas, president of the Trust for Public Land. "It's not about what has happened already. It's about what could happen if you don't have the appropriate staffing."

According to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), staffing varies by park, but some 16,000 parks service employees are furloughed, leaving a small number active for policing and security. The government shut down three times in 2018, but only three days last January and less than a day that following February. As of Friday, the government had been partially shut down for 13 days.

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FBI Investigating Fake Texts Sent To GOP House Members
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 09:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating fake text messages sent to some House Republican lawmakers from someone impersonating a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, WSJ reported. From the report: Several House Republicans have received the texts, and at least one member has been repeatedly engaging with the imposter, who posed as Alyssa Farah, Mr. Pence's press secretary and a former House staffer, one of the people said. A person familiar with the fake texts said the messages sought the whereabouts of certain lawmakers and their availability for meetings. Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.), the House Republican conference chairwoman, has been made aware of the fake texts and referred the matter to the House Sergeant at Arms office, a spokesman for Ms. Cheney said.

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Lenovo's Chairman Says Worst is Over For PC Giant
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 05:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
It has taken almost four years but China's Lenovo Group has begun to see some rewards from the multibillion dollar acquisitions of IBM's commodity server business and Google's Motorola Mobility smartphone unit, with the company recently regaining the crown from HP as the world's biggest personal computer (PC) maker.

From a report: The company in November posted a third, straight quarter of profit growth as its Motorola business broke even operationally and as its data centre unit posted much-reduced losses of US$3 million, allowing it to say it was on track to be a "sustainable, profitable growth engine." Chairman and chief executive Yang Yuanqing believes the worst is over for Lenovo, which has spent the past few years refocusing on mobile and smart devices, as well as its data centre services, in what the company has called an "intelligent transformation" to capitalize on the rapid growth of the internet of things (IoT) market globally, as well as the wider adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. "Because of the past few years of laying the groundwork ... we have all the assets needed to now push ahead in the field of automation [where processes can be conducted with minimal human inputs]," he said in a recent interview.

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Vinyl and Cassette Sales Continued To Grow Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 04:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Albums sold on vinyl and cassette both saw a growth in sales according to BuzzAngle Music's End-Year Report profiling U.S. music industry consumption for 2018. From a report: Vinyl sales grew by just shy of 12% from 8.6 to 9.7 million sales, while cassette sales grew by almost 19% from 99,400 to 118,200 copies sold in the US, The Verge reported. Sixty-six percent of those vinyl sales were of albums that are more than three years old and feature classic bands like The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Pink Floyd, reported BuzzAngle. Cassettes saw popularity in newer releases. CDs on the other hand have declined by 18.5% in popularity leading to a total decline in physical album sales of over 15%, reported The Verge. Meanwhile, audio streaming saw an increase of 41.8%, the largest of all music consumption.

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Samsung Smart TVs Will Support Apple AirPlay 2 and iTunes Videos in Spring 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 04:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
If the late 2018 deal that brought Apple Music to Amazon Echo speakers wasn't surprising enough, Samsung today announced a similar partnership with Apple for 2018 and 2019 Samsung Smart TVs: support for iTunes movies, iTunes TV shows, and AirPlay 2 will be coming in spring 2019. From a report: The deal is all but unprecedented for Apple, which has historically restricted playback of iTunes videos solely to its own devices, including Apple TVs, iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Macs, with no support for competing media players such as Roku, or various smart TV platforms. That said, PCs running iTunes have been able to play iTunes videos, and the company has allowed third-parties to license both AirPlay and AirPlay 2 for years. According to Samsung, a firmware update to 2018 Smart TVs will add a new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app in more than 100 countries. AirPlay 2 will become available on Samsung Smart TVs in 190 countries around the world. There are lots of unanswered questions about this iTunes deal. The Verge: Is Apple going to allow Samsung's smart TV tracking to snoop on iTunes viewers? Smart TVs are notorious for tracking what people watch, but Apple's entire brand is privacy. What usage data will Samsung see from the iTunes app?

Samsung smart TVs run Tizen, Samsung's wacky custom operating system. Is Apple building a Tizen iTunes app? Is there a Tizen team inside Apple? Or is Samsung building this app? Who will be in charge of updating it and fixing bugs? Smart TV apps are not known for being updated well or very often.

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LG Unveils 88-inch 8K TV That Doubles as a Giant Speaker
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 03:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's because-why-not department:
Last year LG Display unveiled a rollable OLED TV prototype, which is reportedly becoming a real retail product in 2019. This year they're at it again with a giant 8K OLED set that doubles as a speaker and a weird flower sculpture made entirely of the flexible OLED panels. From a report: As TV's get thinner, it's getting harder and harder to produce audio that isn't thin. Enter LG Displayâ(TM)s 88-inch Crystal Sound OLED set. It has a 3..2.2 sound system embedded directly into the display. The sounds emanate from the panel itself. And, thanks to Dolby Atmos support, LG Display says that viewers will be able to hear dynamic sound come from their top, bottom, left and right. Sony introduced similar technology on its A8F OLED TV, but that was a 4K set.

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Google Drive Has a Serious Spam Problem, But Google Says a Fix is Coming
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 01:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Google Drive has a pretty bad spam problem, and it seems Google doesn't care. Spammers can share files that automatically appear in your Drive, and there's no way to stop it. From a report: Google Drive's sharing system is the problem. Since it doesn't offer any sharing acceptance, all files and folders shared with your account are automatically available to you in Drive -- they just show up. To make matters worse, if you only have "View" permission, you can't remove yourself from the share. It's a mess. And to make matters even worse, this is far from a new problem, but Google still hasn't done anything to fix it.

Google got back to us with a statement saying that changes are coming to Drive's sharing features and they're"making it a priority." Here's the statement in full: "For the vast majority of users, the default sharing permissions in Drive work as intended. Unfortunately, this was not the case for this user and we sincerely apologize for her experience. In light of this issue, we are evaluating changes to our spam, abuse, and blocking features that will prevent this kind of activity from taking place on Drive. In the interim, users who are experiencing similar issues can remove themselves from the folder, and the folder should not reappear in either 'My Drive' or 'Shared with Me' unless they revisit it."

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NSA To Release a Free Reverse Engineering Tool
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 01:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The US National Security Agency will release a free reverse engineering tool at the upcoming RSA security conference that will be held at the start of March, in San Francisco. From a report: The software's name is GHIDRA and in technical terms, is a disassembler, a piece of software that breaks down executable files into assembly code that can then be analyzed by humans. The NSA developed GHIDRA at the start of the 2000s, and for the past few years, it's been sharing it with other US government agencies that have cyber teams who need to look at the inner workings of malware strains or suspicious software. GHIDRA's existence was never a state secret, but the rest of the world learned about it in March 2017 when WikiLeaks published Vault7, a collection of internal documentation files that were allegedly stolen from the CIA's internal network. Those documents showed that the CIA was one of the agencies that had access to the tool.

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AMD Gets Serious About Chromebooks at CES 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 01:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: AMD's early CES 2019 announcements brought us some updates on its laptop processors, which include a targeted attempt to capture some of the growing cheap Chromebook market, slightly faster mobile Ryzens and a promise to keep everyone's AMD laptop drivers up to date with the latest zero-day game-release optimizations. Sadly, the news didn't include the much-anticipated, high-performance 7-nanometer Navi GPUs or the rumored Ryzen 3000-series desktop CPUs -- hopefully, the company's just holding back that info for its CEO's keynote on Wednesday.

For the first time, AMD has gained a little bit of traction in Chromebooks with some partner announcements at CES such as the HP Chromebook 14 AMD and the Acer Chromebook 315. The announcements are in conjunction with the new A4-9120C and its sibling, the A6-9220C, which have slower CPU and GPU clock speeds than the 15-watt full-fat versions. That allows AMD to match the 6-watt target power draw of Intel's competing Celeron and Pentium models. AMD claims somewhat better performance on both Chrome OS and Android apps, which is possible given that their clock speeds are still faster despite the drop. Further reading: AMD at CES 2019: Ryzen Mobile 3000-Series Launched, 2nd Gen Mobile at 15W and 35W, and Chromebooks.

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Apple Took Out a CES Ad To Troll Its Competitors Over Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
An anonymous reader shared a report: Historically, Apple hasn't had an official presence at CES. It's not surprising given the company's success at hosting and hyping its own product launch events -- long before the iPod and iPhone brought Apple to the top of the technology mountain, Steve Jobs keynotes were can't miss events. The company is also very deliberate about its marketing campaigns; when I see Apple billboard ads, they focus on new product close-ups with minimal messaging. This is why the giant ad banner I saw when I arrived in Las Vegas yesterday for CES 2019 caught my eye. Positioned not far from the convention center where CES takes place, the sign is a cheeky riff on the old "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" slogan -- and with just a few words, it casts an Apple-shaped shadow over the convention.

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As Smartphones and Internet Connections Rise in Africa, So Does Entertainment Streaming
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-billion-users department:
Growing smartphone and internet penetration across many African countries saw global streaming companies make a deeper play for audiences here this year. From a report: Netflix signaled its interest in Africa by hiring a content producer for the region and took on the MultiChoice, the continental satellite TV giant owned by Naspers, Africa's most valuable company. The Los Gatos, California company spooked MultiChoice with everything from trolling online ads to billboards placed conspicuously close to their Johannesburg headquarters. MultiChoice has clearly taken notice and has called for Netflix to be regulated. No African regulator has shown the appetite to rein Netflix in, though. Indeed, Netflix has bolstered its library of African content with a first original movie from Nigeria's Nollywood movie industry and committed to producing its first original African series.

[...] Altogether, there's clearly a growing market as content consumption habits evolve among Africa's youth -- a majority of the continent's population. For example, Nigerians are already consuming more video on mobile devices than on television. Platforms like Tv2Go, which launched in South Africa in November, are experimenting with free mobile platforms, but may find that increasingly discerning streaming audiences need binge-worthy content to attract them.

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Will BitTorrent's Paid 'Fast Lane' Violate 'Net Neutrality'?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
BitTorrent and TRON have an ambitious plan to improve the BitTorrent protocol. Not only will users be financially rewarded for seeding, but they can also pay for faster access. While this may sound good to some, we wonder how this rhymes with BitTorrent's fight for Net Neutrality and its advocacy against paid prioritization. From a report: We ask this question because BitTorrent has been a fierce proponent of an open Internet. It has been a frontrunner in advocating for Net Neutrality, repeatedly criticizing paid traffic prioritization and so-called "fast lanes." BitTorrent went as far as creating the dedicated "internetbetter" website, avenging FCC's plans to meddle with the 'Open Internet,' advertising its campaign on a massive billboard. "The FCC's proposed changes to Net Neutrality would create a preferential fast lane for designated traffic," BitTorrent wrote at the time. "Those with the deep pockets to pay for this fast lane will have the ability to access and distribute content at higher speeds. Those who lack the purchasing power will be disadvantaged. This moves us towards an Internet of discrimination." These efforts didn't prevent the Net Neutrality rules from being repealed in the US, but it appears that BitTorrent's own plans may not be in line with an 'open' Internet either.

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Screen Time Not Intrinsically Bad For Children, Say Doctors
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '19 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Spending time looking at screens is not intrinsically bad for children's health, say the UK's leading children's doctors, who are advising parents to focus on ensuring their children get enough sleep, exercise and family interaction rather than clamping down on phones and laptops. From a report: The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has produced the first guidance for parents on how long children should spend on their laptops and phones, which throws the ball firmly back into the parents' court. Each family should decide what is best for its own members -- although all children would benefit from switching off the screen an hour before they go to bed to help them sleep. The college says the focus for parents should be on what the family is doing together, saying screen time is not an issue if parents have control over other aspects of their children's lives. The guidance appears to run counter to the thinking of the health secretary, Matt Hancock, a father of three young children, who has asked England's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, to draw up some rules on the use of social media.

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