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 CTO.org - News Archive - May 11, 2018
Even after fans and celebs plead online for the cancelled TV show to return, Hulu reportedly decides not to pick it up. Will TBS rescue the police comedy?

Elon Musk removed the five-year Tesla veteran from his position as chief of Model 3 production last month.

Lift heavy packages or ease your life on the assembly line, but don't fantasize about becoming Iron Man yet.

With a plug-in hybrid system from Toyota, this new electron infusion could give the little Crosstrek the extra pep it deserves.

A federal appeals court says no to collective bargaining, for now.

It'-™s Google I/O week, so we are giving aways 80 collectible pins, exclusive to MWC 2018, to one of our lucky Instagram followers. This sweepstakes ends May 13, 2018.

In the future, leg day won't just be for workouts at the gym.

Yes, you can call it a "marscopter."

Because you want to know who's influencing you.

Giving in to flickergate, Microsoft finally admits that there are cases where a firmware or driver update can't fix the problem.

Atlas runs. SpotMini opens door. Boston Dynamics' has a knack for making robots that both delight and make us fear the future machine apocalypse.

If there's ever a robot uprising, Boston Dynamics' Atlas and SpotMini will probably lead the revolution.

Production should start in July, the key word being "should."

Elon Musk & Co. send up a rocket that's designed to head back to space 99 more times.

Alexa, what information are you keeping on my children?

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Microsoft's new move to put PR groups inside its operating divisions is paying off. We're now seeing the worst news shuffled out the door on Friday nights. This week's instance addresses a years-long fight by afflicted Surface Pro 4 users to get Microsoft to admit it has a problem, and to provide redress.

Flickergate, you may recall, involves the propensity of some Surface Pro 4 machines to flicker violently. You can see the shake '-” dating to March 6, 2016, mind you '-” in a YouTube video posted by Dmitriy1986.

I've written about the flicker, and Microsoft's abhorrent treatment of its customers, on April 4, 2017, Aug. 1, 2017, Nov. 13, 2017, Feb. 7, 2018, and Mar. 21, 2018.

Travel light(ly)
competition business speed laptop sprint determin leader

Image by Thinkstock

Wouldn'-™t it be nice to work '-" while traveling z- without carrying so much stuff? I dream about darting through security in my socks, wheeling one spinner case right onto the plane with just a smartphone in my pocket. I also worry that I will I fail at my job when I arrive.

Once upon a time '-" dating back to the first '-'Concept'-" macro virus in Word '-" the Office folks were wary of new features that had possible security implications. But in the past few weeks, we'-™ve been introduced to two new features that have '-'Kick Me'-" written all over them.

First, JavaScript in Excel. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Last December, Microsoft published a Dev Center article that talked about using the new Excel JavaScript API to create add-ins for Excel 2016.

One of the great things about R is the thousands of packages users have written to solve specific problems in various disciplines -- analyzing everything from weather or financial data to the human genome -- not to mention analyzing computer security-breach data.

Some tasks are common to almost all users, though, regardless of subject area: data import, data wrangling and data visualization. The table below show my favorite go-to packages for one of these three tasks (plus a few miscellaneous ones tossed in). The package names in the table are clickable if you want more information. To find out more about a package once you've installed it, type help(package = "packagename") in your R console (of course substituting the actual package name ).

As Win10 version 1803 rattles through the unpaid beta-testing phase, it'-™s snagged another victim '-” Intel'-™s aging SSD6 solid-state drives. Both Microsoft and Intel now admit that running Win10 version 1803 on Intel 600p or Pro 6000p is a recipe for disaster.

Some Surface Pro (2017) models ship with '-'bad'-" Intel SSD Pro 6000p drives. Customers are complaining about freezes with Win10 version 1803 '-” and the Microsoft support folks don'-™t have a clue what'-™s causing the problem. Now we know.

Here'-™s how the drama unfolded.

Win10 version 1803 has been in beta testing for centuries, in internet time. The '-'final'-" version, build 17134.1, entered the Windows Insider Fast ring almost a month ago, on April 16. In a jumble of mixed-up build numbers, Win10 version 1803 has been officially pushed since April 30. Why did it take so long to figure out that the 600p and Pro 6000p cause problems?

Mozilla this week released Firefox 60 for Windows, macOS and Linux, enabling a previously-only-tested policy engine so IT admins can manage the browser within the enterprise.

Firefox, which can be downloaded from here, updates in the background, so most users need only relaunch the browser to get the latest version. To manually update, pull up the menu under the three horizontal bars at the upper right, then click the help icon (the question mark within a circle). Choose "About Firefox." The resulting page shows that the browser is either up to date or details the updating process.

News Apple may work with Goldman Sachs to launch credit services via Apple Pay shouldn'-™t surprise anyone '-” technology is transforming the entire financial system as your iPhone becomes more than a wallet.

It'-™s becoming increasingly clear to me that the market is getting ready to pivot to the next big computing experience. I'-™m convinced we don'-™t need two or three separate computing devices that increasingly do the same things.

PCs, smartphones and tablets all can be used for games, productivity applications and communications. At the same time, we'-™re increasingly getting into trouble using our smartphones inappropriately, which has resulted in laws restricting their use while doing other things '-" like driving. " " 

It'-™s getting closer to a time when we'-™ll move to a converged solution that will both do all we do on our smartphones, PCs and tablets, and allow us to use the technology more safely. I was at Microsoft Build this month [disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author], and I'-™m increasingly convinced their HoloLens could evolve into this converged platform replacement for our personal technology needs.

Microsoft has given customers all kinds of reasons for why the faster release pace of Windows 10 is a great idea, from keeping pace as technology change accelerates to staying ahead of hackers by constantly improving security.

What it's never spelled out is how much the rapid releases would cost users.

In a recent report, Gartner Research put numbers to those costs, and concluded - spoiler alert! - that Microsoft's twice-annual feature updates were a greater burden on enterprises than the once-traditional upgrade-every-six-years tempo that businesses managed until 2015.

The report described a tool Gartner offered to clients, the "Windows 10 Feature Update Cost Model," which lets enterprises estimate costs for tackling one or two such updates each year. The goal of the tool: to "model and plan your cost and labor requirements" for those transitions.

IT support pilot fish gets an instant message from one of the company's front-line techs, who has a customer on the line wanting to know how to clean his flash drive.

"This tech -- let's just say he wasn't hired for his knowledge and experience in our subject matter," says fish. "He concluded that, after years of cleaning his tape drive, then his DVD-RW drive, the customer now had flash drives for backup of his server, and wanted to know how to clean them properly.

"Actually, the person on the phone wanted to know how to erase or format a flash drive. But our tech, as he often does, misunderstood the customer and thought he needed to physically clean the drive of dirt.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

From its inaugural release to today, Android has transformed visually, conceptually and functionally '-” time and time again. Google's mobile operating system may have started out scrappy, but holy moly, has it ever evolved.

Here's a fast-paced tour of Android version highlights from the platform's birth to present.

Android versions 1.0 to 1.1: The early days

Android made its official public debut in 2008 with Android 1.0 '-” a release so ancient it didn't even have a cute codename.

Things were pretty basic back then, but the software did include a suite of early Google apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar and YouTube, all of which were integrated into the operating system '-” a stark contrast to the more easily updatable standalone-app model employed today.

Results are starting to roll in about this month'-™s Patch Tuesday, and it'-™s quite a mixed bag. For those of you struggling with the new Windows 10 April 2018 Update, version 1803, there'-™s good news and bad news. The hand wringing about a new VBScript zero-day, thanks to our good old friend baked-in Internet Explorer, looks overblown for now. And if you can'-™t get RDP working because of '-'An authentication error has occurred'-" messages, you missed the memo.

Windows 10 version 1803

First, the good news. As I anticipated earlier this week, this month'-™s cumulative update for 1803 is a must-have, warts and all. The new build 17134.48 replaces the old 17134.1 (which went to those who installed 1803 directly or fell into the seeker trap) and the old 17134.5 (for those upgrading with the Windows Insider builds). As Susan Bradley explains, 17134.48 claims to fix both the Chrome and Cortana freeze, as well as a major VPN bug.

That wacky new gesture navigation system may be Android P's most attention-grabbing element '-” for better or maybe for worse '-” but the latest version of Google's operating system also has its share of small yet significant changes.

And you know what? Those seemingly subtle touches are often the ones that end up bringing the most meaningful improvements to our day-to-day lives.

To wit: The nine new Android P features described below won't all command attention. They won't all appear in ads or atop reviews. Some of them might not even be noticed by average users, at least not in any overt sense.

Leading jewelry companies that have struggled with proving the authenticity of their goods have launched an online distributed ledger based on blockchain" to improve global provenance in the diamond and jewelry supply chain.

De Beers announced it has succesfully tracked from mine to jeweler 100 "high-value" diamonds on its new blockchain-based electronic ledger called Tracr now being piloted; De Beers hopes to go live with Tracr later this year.

In December, De Beers, which controls about 35% of the world's diamond production, announced its intention to launch what it called an industry-wide blockchain network to track diamonds. Along with verifying a diamond's authenticity, the De Beers blockchain network will be able to prove the gems are not mined in war-torn areas where the sale of the gems could be used to finance violence.

The launch of a big Microsoft Windows 10 update like the April 2018 Update isn'-™t the end of a process '-” it'-™s really just the beginning. As soon as a major update is released, Microsoft quickly gets to work on improving it by fixing bugs, releasing security patches, and occasionally adding new features.

Here we'-™ve summarized what you need to know about every Windows 10 update being released to the public. First come updates to the currently shipping version of Windows 10 '-” version 1803, known as the April 2018 Update '-” with the most recent updates on top. (Note that the April 2018 Update is on a phased rollout, so you may not have received it yet.) Below that are updates to version 1709, known as the Fall Creators Update, and below that updates to version 1703, known as the Creators Update. For each build, we'-™ve included the date of its initial release and a link to Microsoft'-™s announcement about it.

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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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CES 2018 had more than its fair share of wacky items and compelling gadgets, but one of the biggest trends to emerge, once again, from the popular tech expo was voice-enabled devices. And, of course, it was all about Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Here are seven items at CES 2018, some of which address legitimate use cases and some of which may be closer to mad-scientist territory.

At CES 2018, Sennheiser announced two new products that focus on recording or playing back 3-D audio.

Honda wants to change your perception of robots. And it's hoping to do so with four new concept robots.

At CES 2018, Ford announced it is working with a city in which it will operate its self-driving cars. The automaker wouldn't identify the city but did say how autonomous vehicles can change the way people live.

Intel is betting that Volocopter 2X will be one of the first passenger-carrying drones to operate in the U.S. A prototype of the pilotless two-seat helicopter-like drone was shown off at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

AMD CEO Lisa Su told Yahoo Finance that the Austin, Texas-based computer and graphics chip company is quickly working to resolve and address a recently-discovered security flaw that affects AMD computer chips.

Nvidia rolled out a slew of updates for its GeForce line of gaming products at CES 2018 including massive computer screens and cloud game streaming.

It's hard to figure out which of the connected household devices on display at CES 2018 is worth buying, but it's even more difficult to know if they are secure from hackers. A security expert visits exhibits and tries to help.

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)?

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.

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