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Jolla Sailfish Will Build A Google-Free Mobile OS For China
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 02:16 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Android-alternatives department:
Jolla released their Android-free mobile Linux OS (Sailfish) on their own smartphones, "but has always intended to offer it to other manufacturers," according to Silicon. The next Sailfish smartphone was the Inex Aqua Fish, and people with Sony Xperia phones can now also run Sailfish through the Sony Open Devices Program. But their next big customer is the nation of China. Mickeycaskill
quotes Silicon.
The Sailfish China Consortium has gained the exclusive rights and license to develop a Chinese operating system based on Sailfish. Russia is also using Sailfish to build a national mobile OS in a bid to reduce its reliance on Western technology and reduce the risk of foreign surveillance. Jolla claimed that there have been many attempts to build a national OS on Android but these had been unsuccessful because of Google's control over the code.

One of the consortium's investors claims "several" major Chinese companies are already interested in joining them, adding "I have been closely following Sailfish OS development, and seen many Chinese projects fail, while Jolla's Sailfish OS has been steadily progressing. Sailfish OS is the only viable alternative for China."

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Microsoft Finally Releases A Beta Version of Skype For Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 09:53 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's phoning-it-in department:
"We want to create a Linux version of Skype that is as feature rich as the existing Skype on desktop and mobile platforms," read Thursday's announcement from Microsoft's Skype team. "Today, we're pleased to announce that we are ready to take the next step and promote Skype for Linux from Alpha to Beta." They're promising more than just better performance and bug fixes. "We have been listening to you and added in some of your top requests." Slashdot reader BrianFagioli shares the list:

One-to-one video calls can be made from Linux to Skype users on the latest versions of Skype for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac.Calls to mobiles and landlines with Skype credit.Linux users can now view shared screens from other Skype desktop clients (Windows 7.33 and above, Mac 7.46 and above).Unity launcher now shows the number of unread conversations.Online contacts in contact list now include Away and Do Not Disturb statuses.

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Google Open Sources Encrypted Email Extension For Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 09:53 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's encrypting-emails department:
Last week Google released E2EMail, "a Gmail client that exchanges OpenPGP mail." Google's documentation promises that "Any email sent from the app is also automatically signed and encrypted... The target is a simple user experience -- install app, approve permissions, start reading or send sending messages." Trailrunner7 quotes On The Wire:
People have been trying to find a replacement for PGP almost since the day it was released, and with limited success. Encrypted email is still difficult to use and painful to implement in most cases, but Google has just released a Chrome plugin designed to address those problems.

The new E2EMail extension doesn't turn a user's Gmail inbox into an encrypted mail client. Rather, it is a replacement that gives users a separate inbox for encrypted messages. The system is built on Google's end-to-end encryption library, and the company has released E2EMail as an open-source project.

Wired quotes a web security researcher who calls the open sourcing "a telltale sign the project isn't going anywhere. This is a way for them to get their work out there but to absolve themselves of future obligations." But Google's privacy and security product manager responds that they're tackling some very thorny issues like secure key handling, and "The reason we want to put this into the open source community is precisely because everyone cares about this so much. We don't want everyone waiting for Google to get something done."

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Free Software Foundation Challenges Tim Berners-Lee On DRM
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 09:53 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's arguing-over-HTML5 department:
Slashdot reader Atticus Rex writes: On Monday, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) director Tim Berners-Lee released a post defending his decision to allow Netflix, Microsoft, Apple and Google to enshrine DRM in Web standards, arguing that blocking it would be pointless. Zak Rogoff, FSF campaigns manager, writes in the response: "As Director of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), Berners-Lee has the ability to block [the DRM proposal] from ratification as an official Web standard... Of course, a refusal to ratify could not immediately stop the use of DRM, but it could meaningfully weaken the position of DRM in the court of public opinion, and put EME proponents Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, and Google on notice that a very prominent figure was willing to stand up to them on behalf of users. Changes in society's technological infrastructure require political movements, not just technological arguments, and political movements benefit greatly from the support of prominent figures." Berners-Lee takes the position that "The web has to be universal, to function at all. It has to be capable of holding crazy ideas of the moment, but also the well polished ideas of the century. It must be able to handle any language and culture. It must be able to include information of all types, and media of many genres. Included in that universality is that it must be able to support free stuff and for-pay stuff, as they are all part of this world.

"This means that it is good for the web to be able to include movies, and so for that, it is better for HTML5 to have EME than to not have it."

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FCC Chair Wants Carriers To Block Robocalls From Spoofed Numbers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's good-riddance department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The FCC in 2015 made it clear that voice service providers can offer call blocking tools to customers, but commissioners said at the time that more needed to be done about Caller ID spoofing. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has now scheduled a preliminary vote for March 23 on new rules designed to solve the problem. "One particularly pernicious category of robocalls is spoofed robocalls -- i.e., robocalls where the caller ID is faked, hiding the caller's true identity," the proposal says. "Fraudsters bombard consumers' phones at all hours of the day with spoofed robocalls, which in some cases lure consumers into scams (e.g., when a caller claims to be collecting money owed to the Internal Revenue Service) or lead to identity theft." The proposed rules would let providers "block spoofed robocalls when the spoofed Caller ID can't possibly be valid." Providers would be able to block numbers that aren't valid under the North American Numbering Plan and block valid numbers that haven't been allocated to any phone company. They'd also be able to block valid numbers that have been allocated to a phone company but haven't been assigned to a subscriber. The proposal would also codify the FCC's previous guidance that phone companies can block calls when requested by the spoofed number's subscriber. The upcoming vote on March 23 is for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which means the rules won't take effect immediately. The FCC uses NPRMs to seek comment on proposals before issuing final rules.

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Curated Advertising Is Coming To Highway Billboards
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 03:14 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's keep-your-eyes-on-the-road department:
Curated advertising may be coming to a highway near you. "A startup called Synaps Labs has brought it to the physical world by combining high-speed cameras set up a distance ahead of the billboard (about 180 meters) to capture images of cars," reports MIT Technology Review. "Its machine-learning system can recognize in those images the make and model of the cars an advertiser wants to target. A bidding system then selects the appropriate advertising to put on the billboard as that car passes." From the report: There is a lot an advertiser can tell about you from the car you drive, says Synaps. Indeed, recent research from a group of university researchers and led by Stanford found that -- using machine vision and deep learning -- analyzing the make, model, and year of vehicles visible in Google Street View could accurately estimate income, race, and education level of a neighborhood's residents, and even whether a city is likely to vote Democrat or Republican. Synaps's business model is to sell its services to the owners of digital billboards. Digital billboard advertising rotates, and more targeted advertising can rotate more often, allowing operators to sell more ads. According to Synaps, a targeted ad shown 8,500 times in one month will reach the same number of targeted drivers (approximately 22,000) as a typical ad shown 55,000 times. In Russia, Synaps expects to be operating on 20 to 50 billboards this year. The company is also planning a test in the U.S. this summer, where there are roughly 7,000 digital billboards, a number growing at 15 percent a year, according to the company. (By contrast, there are 370,000 conventional billboards.) With a row of digital billboards along a road, they could roll the ads as the cars move along, making billboard advertising more like the storytelling style of television and the Internet, says Synaps's cofounder Alex Pustov.

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New Research Suggests Earth's Mantle Might Be Hotter Than Anyone Expected
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '17 at 12:22 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth department:
schwit1 quotes a report from ScienceAlert: New data suggests that the upper parts of Earth's mantle are around 60C (108F) hotter than previously expected. The mantle is the layer between our planet's super-hot core and outer crust, and it plays an incredibly important role in things like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tectonic shifts. But despite the impact the mantle has on our planet, scientists have always struggled to pinpoint its temperature, and new research suggests our previous estimates were off the mark. If the new estimates made by scientists at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington DC are verified, it would mean the mantle is melting shallower than previously expected, and it could change the way we predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The new estimates are based on the fact that the Earth's upper mantle is more affected by the presence of water in its minerals than we've assumed in the past. One of the most common ways to measure the temperature of the upper mantle is to analyze lava emerging from mid-ocean ridges - an underwater mountain range where two plates meet and hot mantle is drawn up and partially melts. So to more accurately measure the temperature at which this would melt, the researchers, led by Emily Sarafian, have used a new technique to add a quantifiable amount of water into mantle samples through tiny particles of the mineral olivine. This allowed them to more accurately measure the melting point of peridotite under mantle-like pressures in the presence of known amounts of water. "Small amounts of water have a big effect on melting temperature, and this is the first time experiments have ever been conducted to determine precisely how the mantle's melting temperature depends on such small amounts of water," said one of the researchers, Erik Hauri. They found that the potential temperature of the mantle beneath the oceanic crust is on average around 60C higher than previous estimates - with some parts much hotter than that. "Our experimental results indicate that mantle potential temperatures along all ocean spreading centers are hotter than existing estimates," the team writes in Science.

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Researchers Create New Form of Matter
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-in-one department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: MIT physicists have created a new form of matter, a supersolid, which combines the properties of solids with those of superfluids. By using lasers to manipulate a superfluid gas known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, the team was able to coax the condensate into a quantum phase of matter that has a rigid structure -- like a solid -- and can flow without viscosity -- a key characteristic of a superfluid. Studies into this apparently contradictory phase of matter could yield deeper insights into superfluids and superconductors, which are important for improvements in technologies such as superconducting magnets and sensors, as well as efficient energy transport. The researchers report their results this week in the journal Nature. The team used a combination of laser cooling and evaporative cooling methods, originally co-developed by Ketterle, to cool atoms of sodium to nanokelvin temperatures. Atoms of sodium are known as bosons, for their even number of nucleons and electrons. When cooled to near absolute zero, bosons form a superfluid state of dilute gas, called a Bose-Einstein condensate, or BEC. To create the supersolid state, the team manipulated the motion of the atoms of the BEC using laser beams, introducing "spin-orbit coupling." In their ultrahigh-vacuum chamber, the team used an initial set of lasers to convert half of the condensate's atoms to a different quantum state, or spin, essentially creating a mixture of two Bose-Einstein condensates. Additional laser beams then transferred atoms between the two condensates, called a "spin flip."

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Snapchat Wanted $150K To Not Run NRA Ads On Gun Control Group Videos
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's karma-is-a-bitch department:
New submitter bababoris writes: It appears that Snapchat's Rob Saliterman attempted to "encourage" Everytown for Gun Safety to advertise with Snapchat or risk having National Rifle Association (NRA) ads run during their Live Story promoting gun safety. The Next Web reports: "Everytown for Gun Safety is an advocacy group that focuses on gun safety and violence issues. According to Mic, it reached out to Snapchat in 2016 to inquire about an advertising campaign for its #WearOrange event, held on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. A Snapchat representative, Rob Saliterman, responded to Everytown with a quote of $150,000. This would allow Snapchat users to engage with the event using custom filters and lenses created specifically for it. Realizing that another department within Snapchat had undercut him, he fired off an email suggesting that Everytown pay up, lest National Rifle Association (NRA) adverts appear on their videos."

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Bill Would Legalize Active Defense Against Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's return-fire department:
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A new bill intended to update the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act would allow victims of computer attacks to engage in active defense measures to identify the attacker and disrupt the attack. Proposed by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), the bill would grant victims of computer intrusions unprecedented rights. Known as the Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, the legislation seeks to amend the CFAA, the much-maligned 1986 law that is used in most computer crime prosecutions. The proposed legislation includes the caveat that victims can't take any actions that destroy data on another person's computer, causes physical injury to someone, or creates a threat to public safety. The concept of active defense has been a controversial one in the security community for several years, with many experts saying the potential downside outweighs any upside. Not to mention that it's generally illegal.

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Ask Slashdot: Why Are There No Huge Leaps Forward In CPU/GPU Power?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's explain-like-I'm-five department:
dryriver writes: We all know that CPUs and GPUs and other electronic chips get a little faster with each generation produced. But one thing never seems to happen -- a CPU/GPU manufacturer suddenly announcing a next generation chip that is, say, 4-8 times faster than the fastest model they had 2 years ago. There are moderate leaps forward all the time, but seemingly never a HUGE leap forward due to, say, someone clever in R&D discovering a much faster way to process computing instructions. Is this because huge leaps forward in computing power are technically or physically impossible/improbable? Or is nobody in R&D looking for that huge leap forward, and rather focused on delivering a moderate leap forward every 2 years? Maybe striving for that "rare huge leap forward in computing power" is simply too expensive for chip manufacturers? Precisely what is the reason that there is never a next-gen CPU or GPU that is, say, advertised as being 16 times faster than the one that came 2 years before it due to some major breakthrough in chip engineering and manufacturing?

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Amazon Pledges To Cover 15 Massive Warehouse Rooftops With Solar Panels
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's keeping-the-lights-on department:
Amazon announced earlier this week that it would install solar panels on 15 of its fulfillment and sorting centers around the U.S. in 2017. "Depending on the specific project, time of year, and other factors, a solar installation could generate as much as 80 percent of a single fulfillment facility's annual energy needs," Amazon wrote in a press release. "That energy will provide electricity for everything from keeping the lights on to powering Amazon Robotics at fulfillment centers," reports Ars Technica. From the report: Amazon is finding stride with other major companies, but it's a bit short compared to some of its more ambitious peers. For example, Google announced in December that by the end of 2017 it would be using a carbon offsets program to pay for as much renewable energy as all of its data centers and offices worldwide consumed. The search giant said at the time that the move to renewable energy wasn't just for show -- it was about avoiding energy price fluctuations in the long term. That's a sentiment Amazon echoed as well in its Tuesday press release. "We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability -- this is good for the environment, our business, and our customers," wrote Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations. "By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It's a win-win."

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Uber Has Been Using a Secretive Program To Identify Enforcement Officers And Prevent Them From Hailing Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 03:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's another-day,-another-controversy department:
Uber has been using a secretive program to evade authorities for years, particularly at times when city regulators were trying to block the ride-hailing service, according to a new report by the New York Times. From the report: Uber is using a tool called "Greyball" to work identify requests made by certain users and deny them service, according to the report. The application, later renamed the "violation of terms of service" or VTOS program, is said to employ data analysis on info collected by the Uber app to identify individuals violating Uber's terms of service, and blocks riders from being able to hail rides who fall into that category -- including, according to the report, members of code enforcement authorities or city officials who are attempting to gather data about Uber offering service where it's currently prohibited. The report claims that that Uber's "violation of terms of service" or VTOS program, briefly known as Greyball, began around 2014, and has sign-off from Uber's legal team.In a statement, Uber said, "This program denies ride requests to users who are violating our terms of service -- whether that's people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret 'stings' meant to entrap drivers." Journalists, putting things in context. Russell Brandom, a reporter at The Verge said, This is the kind of thing a DA would put in front of a judge if they wanted to subpoena Uber's business records for an entire city. Matt Rosoff, editorial director at CNBC Digital added, I've been a tech journalist on and off for 21 years and I can't remember any company having a worse month news cycle-wise than Uber is now.

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Canadian DMCA In Action: Court Awards Massive Damages In Modchip Case
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stickler-of-the-rules department:
New submitter google20000 shares a report from Michael Geist: The Federal Court of Canada has issued a massive damage award in the first major
Canadian digital lock copyright ruling involving circumvention
of technological protection measures. The ruling, which is the first to conduct an extensive examination of the anti-circumvention rules established in 2012, adopts expansive interpretations to the digital lock protections and narrow views of the exceptions. The case launched by Nintendo confirms that Canada has tough anti-piracy laws with one of the most aggressive digital lock laws in the world and will fuel calls to re-examine the effectiveness of the anti-circumvention exceptions in the 2017 copyright review. The case stems from a lawsuit launched by video game maker Nintendo against Go Cyber Shopping, a modchip seller that operated a retail store in Waterloo, Ontario and several online stores. Go Cyber Shopping offered a wide range of products that allow users to circumvent the digital lock controls on the Nintendo gaming console (such as the Wii) and play unauthorized games including "homebrew" games. Go Cyber Shopping argued that it provided other services but the court says that it did not tender any evidence in that regard. The court concluded that the modchip seller engaged in copyright infringement and circumvented technological protection measures. In fact, it went out of its way to emphasize the importance of TPM protection. It adopted a broad interpretation of a technological protection measure -- rejecting a UK case that used a narrower interpretation -- in favor of an approach that covers access controls that go beyond restrictions on copying.

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California Government On the Dangers of Cellphones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-guidelines department:
mi quotes a report from CBS Local: After keeping it hidden for years, California's Department of Public Health has released a draft document outlining health officials' concerns about cellphone radiation exposure. The previously unpublished document was released this week after a judge indicated she would order the documents be disclosed. Health officials' overall recommendation is to "increase the distance between you and your phone" by using a headset, the speaker phone function and text messaging. Health officials recommend not sleeping near your phone and not carry it in your pocket or directly on your body, unless it is off. The fact sheet also states that "EMFs can pass deeper into a child's brain than and adult's" so suggests parents limit their child's cellphone use to texting, important call and emergencies.

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Elon Musk Agrees To Hold Contest For Fan-Made Tesla Ads, At the Urging of a 5th Grader
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's are-you-smarter-than-a-5th-grader department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Adweek: Elon Musk is well aware that Tesla's superfans love to make unauthorized commercials for the brand, given that Tesla doesn't make its own (and, given the power of word of mouth, doesn't really need to). But it has taken a fifth-grade girl to convince him to actually run a fan-made ad. "Dear Elon Musk, I'm Bria from Ms. Esparza's 5th grade class," she wrote to the Tesla founder in a letter that her father (a writer for InsideEVs.com) also posted to Twitter. "I have noticed that you do not advertise, but many people make homemade commercials for Tesla and some of them are very good, they look professional and they are entertaining. So, I think that you should run a competition on who can make the best homemade Tesla commercial and the winners will get their commercial aired." Within an hour of the Twitter post, Musk -- who apparently is as smart as a fifth grader -- brightened to the idea. "Thank you for the lovely letter. That sounds like a great idea. We'll do it!" he wrote. Two of the fan-made, cinematography-rich commercials mentioned in the report include the 2014 spot called "Modern Spaceship," and "Fireflies," which was directed by Parachute's Sam O'Hare. What's particularly neat about the "Fireflies" ad is that it was completely CGI.

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Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin To Offer 'Amazon-Like' Moon Delivery By 2020
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 01:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's because-why-not department:
Less than a week after Elon Musk's SpaceX announced it would soon offer space tourists a cruise around the moon, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has announced that he would be launching an Amazon-like service shipping supplies, experiments, and crew to the Moon by 2020. From a report: Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space venture has proposed sending a robotic lander to the moonâ(TM)s south polar region by 2020, as an initial step toward an "Amazon-like" lunar delivery system and eventually a permanently inhabited moon base. The report says the company's seven-page proposal, dated Jan. 4, has been circulating among NASA's leadership and President Donald Trump's transition team. It's only one of several proposals aimed at turning the focus of exploration beyond Earth orbit to the moon and its environs during Trump's term.

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Apple Cracks Down Further On Cobalt Supplier in Congo as Child Labor Persists
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 01:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Last year, a Washington Post investigation found several instances of miners -- including children -- labored in hazardous, even deadly, conditions at Congo's artisanal cobalt supply chain. Amnesty International and other human rights groups also have alleged problems. Earlier this week, British broadcaster Sky New published an investigation that alleged continued problems in the cobalt supply chain. The Washington Post now reports: Apple said it has temporarily stopped buying cobalt mined by hand in Congo while it continues to deal with problems with child labor and harsh work conditions. The Post connected this troubling trade to Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Company, a Chinese firm that is the largest buyer of artisanal cobalt in Congo and whose minerals are used in Apple products. Last year, Apple pledged to clean up its cobalt supply chain, but the tech giant said it wanted to avoid hurting the Congolese miners by cutting them off. Mining provides vital income for hundreds of thousands of people in one of the poorest countries in the world. Now, Apple says it has stopped -- for now -- buying cobalt from artisanal mines (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source). "We have been working with Huayou on a program that will verify individual artisanal mines, according to our standards," Apple said in a statement, "and these mines will re-enter our supply chain when we are confident that the appropriate protections are in place."

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Razer Wants To Build the Best Linux Laptop, And It Needs Your Help
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's quest-for-best department:
Min-Liang Tan, a founder, CEO and creative director of gaming hardware company Razer, has assured enthusiasts that the company is looking into developing good -- the "best" he says -- Linux notebook. He writes in a post: The Razer Blade series have become the default coding machine for many out there and one of the most common asks is for us to support Linux on it. Well - we're looking at it and we're inviting all Linux enthusiasts to weigh in at the new Linux Corner on Insider to post feedback, suggestions and ideas on how we can make it the best notebook in the world that supports Linux. So if you're a Linux enthusiast, do check out the introductory thread.

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HP Top Level Executive On Life After the Split
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '17 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's split-into-two department:
An anonymous reader shares a ZDNet report: George Brasher is a 26-year HP veteran who has worked in a variety of roles in the company's printer and PC divisions over the years and is now HP Inc's managing director for the UK and Ireland. We began by asking how the first fifteen 'post-split' months had gone. "If you go back to the genesis of the separation, what Meg [Whitman, CEO of HPE and chairwoman of HP Inc] said was that, by splitting into two businesses, we'd be able to have more focus -- and I think that's truly what's happened with HP Inc. What we wanted to get out of it was: could we be more focused on our markets; could we actually accelerate our pace of innovation and get closer to our customers? In general, I'd say the answer is a resounding 'yes'." [...] The second thing is -- and you can see examples around this room [the CWC] -- we're a technology company, and innovation is our lifeblood: if you look at PC and print, we've seen more significant high-quality introductions in the last 15 months than in any previous 15-month period." [...] "The proof is always in the pudding: I look at the Spectre x360, the Elite X3 and other devices -- and it's not just new devices, but also the quality of the new devices; being able to have a partnership with B&O and thinking about a new computing experience. On the print side, it's the same thing: in September we announced our single biggest rollout ever, with a set of 16 A3 multifunction devices starting in a couple of months and rolling out over the course of the year. I don't think that happens unless you have separation, because then you've got a management team and a board, and a group of employees, that are just laser-focused on driving against that."

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