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 CTO.org - News Archive - January 6, 2018
It's the world's first big-screen TV that can be rolled up to hide away when not in use.

The Consumer Technology Association says it wants to "expand women's voices" at the major trade show. The group had been chastised on social media.

Archiverse backs up 17 terabytes of Nintendo's Miiverse -- memes and all.

These wall mounts stick to a variety of surfaces with a technology inspired by geckos' amazing feet.

Definitive Technology'-™s new stand-mount D9 speaker floors the Audiophiliac with its seductive performance and iconic design.

At Kohler's Smart Home Experience Lab in Wisconsin, we got a first-hand look at its new line of connected bathroom products.

The Wi-Fi Alliance expects to improve how well wireless networks cope with the explosion of gadgets in our lives.

Every January, gadget firms make a splash at CES. But what happens to those products afterwards?

Commentary: The dating site estimates a 42 percent spike in searches for love this Sunday. But why now?

Searches of electronic devices at the border increased nearly 60 percent from 2016. The agency also released updated guidelines for conducting searches.

Despite betting big on EVs, a majority of executives feel electric cars are doomed to fail.

Talking to your glasses via Amazon's voice assistant is possible, thanks to Vuzix and what looks like an imminent CES reveal, according to Bloomberg.

The Internet Association, a lobbying group for firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, says it'll work with others filing suits against the FCC for repealing Obama-era internet protections.

The social network says blocking or removing officials' tweets would hide information that's meant to be debated -- even if the tweets violate its rules.

Cryogenics: It's not just for ice cream and bodies. The dessert company wants to help other industries flash-freeze products.

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Amid the panicked response this week to the news of significant, though not-yet-exploited, vulnerabilities in the vast bulk of the world's microprocessors, it went almost unnoticed that most browser makers responded by updating their wares in the hope of fending off possible web-based attacks.

The Google-driven revelations - it was members of the search firm's Project Zero security team who identified the multiple flaws in processors designed by Intel, AMD and ARM - were to go public next week, on Jan. 9, this month's Patch Tuesday. At that time, a coordinated effort by multiple vendors, from OS developers to silicon makers, was to debut with patches to protect, as best could be done without replacing the CPU itself, systems against flaws grouped under the umbrella terms of Meltdown and Spectre. That plan went out the window when leaks started to circulate earlier this week.

Have you ever wished you could clone yourself? Imagine how much you could accomplish.

The future of A.I. will make something kind of like that possible. By scanning your face and voice and observing how you talk and what you know, future A.I. could build a virtual assistant that'-™s a virtual you.

Sounds like science fiction. But one company is already working on it.

The creator of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum is exploring ways to fix an innate issue with the technology - the inability for processing capacity to effectively scale.

And the Ethereum Foundation is seeking outside developers to help solve the scaling problem.

Ethereum and Hyperledger are the world's leading blockchain platforms and the basis for a myriad number of applications, from cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum's Ether to "smart" or self-executing online contracts.

Last night Microsoft released KB 4056894, the 2018-01 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7. Spurred by early disclosure of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, Microsoft has done yeoman work getting the software part of the patches pushed out the Automatic Update chute.

That said, Windows patches are only part of a very formidable picture.

Where we stand with Windows patches

As of this morning, all of the supported versions of Windows have Meltdown-related patches, except for Windows 8.1. In particular:


What'-™s the problem?

Taking advantage of a vulnerability that has been around for 20 years, Meltdown and Spectre exploit a CPU performance feature called '-'speculative execution.'-" Speculative execution exists to improve computer speed by enabling the processor to work on multiple instructions at once, sometimes in non-sequential order.

The Professional Surge Protector CSP300WUR1" safeguards common home and office devices, such as computers and electronics, by absorbing spikes in energy caused by storms and electrical power surges. Designed for convenience, the portable CSP300WUR1 is ideal for travelers. It provides 600 joules of protection, has three surge-protected outlets, and a folding wall tap plug. Two USB ports (2.1 Amp shared) charge personal electronics, including smartphones, digital cameras, MP3 players, and other devices." A Limited-Lifetime Warranty ensures that this surge suppressor has passed high quality standards in design, assembly, material or workmanship and further protection is offered by a $50,000 Connected Equipment Guarantee. It currently averages 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, where its typical list price of $21.95 has been reduced 41% to just $12.99. See the discounted" CSP300WUR1 on Amazon.

Database admin pilot fish at this state law-enforcement agency is spending too much of his time dealing with an unruly mainframe database system that's less than a year old.

"The problems were constantly causing me to get called in at night," says fish. "Sometimes it was the database software and sometimes it was the application.

"There was no real overtime -- indeed, my pay title did not allow for overtime -- but my boss allowed me to take unofficial compensatory time off."

Early one afternoon, a uniformed police officer comes to see fish. He explains that he's from Internal Affairs, and says he's there to investigate a report that fish sometimes leaves work early.

.'-" Following is a fresh batch of Chrome extensions that can improve how you work with and manage files in Google Drive.

1. Drive Companion / 2. Docs Companion

Svelte'-™s Drive Companion turns Google Drive into a virtual desktop application on Windows. Clicking the Drive Companion icon on the Chrome toolbar launches an application window with the main page of your Google Drive running inside it. Like an ordinary desktop application, its icon (or title bar) appears on the Windows taskbar, and its window frame can be resized.

Microsoft has pushed 2017's final Windows 10 feature upgrade to customers faster than it did the year's first revision, according to data from a Windows app ad network.

Data from AdDuplex, a Lithuanian company whose technology is embedded in thousands of Windows apps, showed that October's Fall Creators Update (FCU) had been installed on about 54% of all measured Windows 10 personal computers by Dec. 20.

Windows 10's FCU, also known as version 1709 in Microsoft's yymm numeric format, launched Oct. 17. In the nine weeks from then until Dec. 20, AdDuplex reported, more than half - 53.6% to be exact - had upgraded to FCU from an earlier version.

Wireless charging firm" Powermat has joined the Wireless Power Consortium" (WPC), a group that promotes the adoption of the popular Qi charging specification.

The move signals a further consolidation of the wireless charging industry, which has seen three previously competitive industry groups share various specifications and join forces to promote them.

The move was not completely unexpected as Powermat also formally announced the release of its Charging Spot 4.0 with SmartInductive technology platform, which supports two of the major charging formats.

Before we begin, a quick confession: I am not a psychic.

Despite what you may have heard, I can't actually predict the future. In fact, I don't even believe in the time-tested tradition of making tech predictions (well, except for one foolproof prophecy I foist upon the Twitterverse every January, but that's a special sort of forecast).

You know what I do believe in, though? Trends. Observing the sometimes-subtle trends within a tech ecosystem over time helps us understand the bigger picture of where things are moving and why. That's the kind of "future-gazing" that lets us make educated guesses about a then-tiny-young-platform's likelihood of exploding and, against all popular odds, becoming the world's most widely used OS. That's the kind of "crystal-ball reading" that lets us see the seeds of two separate Google platforms starting to come together and not canceling each other out (as popular opinion consistently predicted).

I'-™m increasingly skeptical of security holes that have their own logos and PR campaigns. Yesterday'-™s sudden snowballing of disclosures about two groups of vulnerabilities, now known as Meltdown and Spectre, has led to enormous numbers of reports of varying quality, and widespread panic in the streets. In the case of Intel's stock price, that's more like blood in the streets.

While it'-™s true that both vulnerabilities affect nearly every computer made in the past two decades, it'-™s also true that the threat '-” especially for plain-vanilla Windows users '-” isn'-™t imminent. You should be aware of the situation, but avoid the stampede. The sky isn'-™t falling.

Apple is updating its systems against newly revealed Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, but it'-™s not enough to update personal devices '-” what about older PCs and the millions of servers that may also be vulnerable to the bug?

The bigger picture

The Spectre and Meltdown bugs are causing lots of distress. Meltdown impacts Intel processors, while Spectre appears to threaten chips from AMD and ARM as well. A good explanation of these vulnerabilities is here.

Just leave the slim and trim Blackout Buddy in your wall socket and you'-™ll never be in the dark. It automatically turns on when the power goes out so that you can easily locate it. Then, fold away the prongs and you've got yourself a flashlight. A very bright idea from the American Red Cross. Flip a switch and the Blackout Buddy also doubles as an LED nightlight, so you can keep your kids' rooms, hallways, or kitchen always illuminated. The Blackout Buddy keeps itself charged and provides up to 4 hours of light when needed. It averages 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 1,800 people on Amazon (read reviews). Its typical list price of $14.64 has been reduced 39% to just $8.98.

TurboTax coaches you every step of the way and double checks your return as you go to handle even the toughest tax situations, so you can be confident you'-™re getting every dollar you deserve. Its typical list price of $59.99 has been reduced a generous 34% to $39.86 in a deal that is exclusive to Amazon. Also exclusive to this Amazon deal, receive a free 1-year subscription to Quicken Starter Edition 2018. Learn more, or take advantage of the deal now, on Amazon.

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BYTE is starting a new series, to bring back the issues you loved in print from 1975 to 1998. Initially we have the first two issues and four others from 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Security experts urge companies to implement two-factor authentication, VPNs, and graduated permission levels to better protect customer data from hackers.

Microsoft admits that it doesn't encrypt all server-to-server communications, opening the way for the NSA and others to access the data flow.

Affordable Care Act site has faced a relatively low volume of attacks, compared with other federal websites.

Google's Gmail app for iPad and iPhone gets new features and iOS 7's design language.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels announces PostgreSQL database service, new instance types, use of solid state disk to speed I/Os.

As software eclipses hardware, it's dawning on enterprises that they need API programs. Here's where to begin.

Authors Guild's claim of copyright infringement gets shot down in a surprise ruling.

The goal is allow home monitoring devices and mobile health apps communicate more easily healthcare providers.

Google's personal assistant software gets upgraded to better manage owners' lives and understand natural language requests.

Android smartphones owners can now pay for goods and services by tapping their device to Isis terminals at 1.3 million locations nationwide.

LinkedIn pushes customized content with the integration of news curation app Pulse for desktop and mobile versions.

Hacker grabbed 860,000 passwords for fun, but promises not to leak or use them to harm people.

VMware wants to move into cloud computing? Guess what, Amazon's moving into desktop virtualization.

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Nicomi Stewart, a mother in Rochester, New York, is '-'disgusted'-" after an automated call sent to her phone from the city'-™s school district mispronounced her daughter'-™s name as a racial slur.

You may soon get to say a lot more on Twitter. The social media giant announced it is testing a longer character limit. The change will extend the current 140 characters to 280 for all languages except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Users won'-™t see this change right away, though. Only a small percentage will be testing it at first, and according to the company, it is just a test and there is no guarantee this change will be available to everyone. Via Business Insider:" http://www.businessinsider. ...

Mac OS High Sierra (macOS 10.13)." As the new name suggests, it'-™s just a refinement of last year'-™s Mac OS Sierra. In fact," you" could sum up what's new in an article about as short as" this one.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)?

Facebook has a "realistic opportunity" to enter China in 2018, Mizuho analyst James Lee wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. Lee came to the conclusion after meeting "various industry contacts" in China during a recent trip. Facebook's recent appointment of an executive to manage relations with China will help the company "understand the regulatory requirement and negotiate Facebook's operating structure in China," said Lee in the note, a copy of which was obtained by Business Insider.

Apple is expected to include wireless charging as a core feature in the iPhones it launches on...

Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone is nearly upon us. Here's everything we expect from what could be Apple's most important product in years.

Apple's App Store is getting a major update in iOS 11, and it's going to make finding new apps far better.

Equifax was hacked and lost the information of 143 million Americans, and they need to tell us how.

Apple's iPhone 8 is nearly upon us, but not everyone is psyched. Here are the best alternatives for Apple's upcoming iPhone.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is a wonderful smartphone, but its high price is a tough pill to swallow.

Yahoo's David Pogue has a sneaky way you can create a universal link to a Facebook item so that you can send or post to anyone.

There are some gadgets that are just too cool for us Americans.

More laptop makers are pushing the limits of design and performance, but high-resolution panels are hurting their batteries.

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