Thursday, September 29, 2016

Huawei Mate 9 images leak with two cameras, up to 256 GB of storage

By Tim Schiesser on September 29, 2016, 8:15 AM

Images of Huawei's upcoming large-screened flagship, the Mate 9, have leaked on Chinese social network Weibo. The images show a large six-inch screen with bezels as slim as the Mate 8, with a new dual-camera system boasting Leica branding.

A slide advertising the Mate 9 has also revealed the pricing tiers and color options for the device. The most expensive model will deliver a ludicrous 6 GB of RAM along with 256 GB of storage for 4,700 yuan ($705), while the middle model provides 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage for 3,900 yuan ($585). The cheapest Mate 9 will set you back 3,200 yuan ($480) and pack 4 GB of RAM plus 64 GB of storage.

Color options also appear to vary by tier, with the top-specced model coming in six colors, filtering down to three colors for the cheapest variant. The phone itself seems to use a metal body, so the colors are appropriate for a high-end metal design.

The dual camera system on the rear is expected to use the same dual-12-megapixel sensor setup as on the Huawei P9, although the leaked images show an increase in aperture from f/2.2 to f/2.0. Internally, benchmarks have suggested the Mate 9 will include an all new Kirin 960 chipset featuring ARM's latest high performance CPU cores, the Cortex-A73.

The Mate 8 launched in November last year, so it's only a matter of time before Huawei decides to official unveil the Mate 9. The phone is set to launch with Android 7.0 on board and a new version of the company's EMUI skin, making this the first major Huawei phone to launch with Noguat pre-installed.

This iPhone 7 case brings back the 3.5mm headphone jack

By Shawn Knight on September 29, 2016, 9:15 AM

The outrage that some have exhibited over Apple’s decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus likely isn’t going away anytime soon. The Cupertino-based company does supply a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter with each phone sold but in reality, it’s just something else to leave behind or misplace during a busy day.

What’s more, the adapter prevents you from charging your device while headphones are plugged in.

If you’ve found yourself facing these circumstances lately, a project currently seeking funding on Indiegogo may be worth a look.

The Fuze case is, well, a protective case for your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. What’s unique about it is that it reintroduces the 3.5mm headphone jack, thus eliminating the need to carry around a dongle or adapter. It also has a Lightning port through which you can presumably charge your phone while listening to music and an integrated battery (2,400mAh for the iPhone 7 case and 3,600mAh for the iPhone 7 Plus version).

It’s worth noting that the images of the device on the Indiegogo page differ a bit from what’s shown in the video above. Its creators say the original design was to have an extended base where the 3.5mm jack would be stored but after prototyping and testing, they decided it was too bulky and unattractive. Instead, backers will receive the case shown in the still images which measures 5mm thick and weighs 28 grams.

A pledge of $49 at the early bird tier will get you on the list for a Fuze case for your iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. The flexible funding campaign has a month left and has raised a little over $2,600 of its $60,000 goal thus far.

Facebook's next F8 developer conference will take place in April in San Jose

By Shawn Knight on September 29, 2016, 11:00 AM

The next installment of F8, the on-again, off-again technology conference from social media maven Facebook, will take place at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, next spring (April 18-19, to be exact).

Deborah Liu, VP of Platform at Facebook, said the conference will showcase new technology and feature two days of keynotes from Facebook leaders (one of which will likely be founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg). In addition to the more than 45 sessions, those in attendance will have the opportunity to experience live interactive demos in the developer garage and talk with Facebook product experts.

If previous conferences are any indication, tickets this time around won’t come cheap and will go fast. Registration hasn’t officially opened yet although interested parties can sign up now to receive a notification of when they’ll be able to purchase a ticket.

Facebook held its first F8 conference in 2007 where it introduced the world to the concept of the social graph. Zuckerberg and company hosted another event a year later but skipped 2009 entirely. Since that time, they’ve also passed up on hosting events in 2012, 2013 and 2016.

According to TechCrunch, tickets to the 2015 F8 conference sold for $595 each. That’s still far cheaper than the $1,599 Apple charged for admission to its WWDC in San Francisco this past June. Even at that price, Apple had to use a lottery system to fairly distribute tickets.

Best Buy to host PlayStation VR midnight launch events at 350 stores

By Shawn Knight on September 29, 2016, 12:45 PM

Sony’s PlayStation VR headset is scheduled to arrive in just a couple of weeks. Looking to cater to those that absolutely can’t wait any longer than humanly possible, Best Buy on Thursday said it will be hosting midnight launch events at around 350 of its stores across the country.

Shane Kitzman, Best Buy’s media relations leader, said in a post on the company’s corporate website that select stores will open their doors at 12:01 a.m. EDT on October 13. This trickles down across time zones moving from east to west, meaning stores in the Central time zone will open at 11:01 p.m., 10:01 p.m. for Mountain Time and 9:01 p.m. on the West Coast.

This seems like the best approach versus each time zone opening their stores at 12:01 local time, resulting in people on the East Coast getting the peripheral three hours ahead of gamers on the West Coast.

You can check out Best Buy’s Gaming Events page to find a store near you. As I quickly discovered, 350 stores sounds like a lot but depending on where you live, you may be out of luck. The closest late-night opening in my area, for example, is more than four hours and two states away.

Kitzman said there will be limited quantities of its VR gaming accessory at each Best Buy store nationwide the next day in the event you can’t get to an early opening. Of course, there’s also the far more convenient option of ordering online and having it delivered on launch day.

FCC votes to bolster Wireless Emergency Alerts

By Shawn Knight on September 29, 2016, 6:15 PM

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to update the rules governing Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) in an effort to make them more useful.

The system, designed to alert citizens on their mobile devices of emergency-type situations or events, was most recently on display earlier this month when New Yorkers were warned of a dangerous bombing suspect on the loose.

As The Washington Post recounts, the suspect was eventually apprehended following a shootout with police. The alert that was pushed out to the public wasn’t terribly informative; in fact, the publication likened it to a text message that a teenager might send to a friend. What’s more, the alert lacked helpful information that might have led to his apprehension sooner such as a photo.

Authorities would no doubt have preferred to issue a more detailed alert but simply weren’t able to do so due to limitations of the WEA system. As such, the message that went out was ripe with abbreviations and didn’t include a picture of the suspect.

Thanks to today’s FCC vote, future alerts should be much more robust.

Under the new rules, authorities will have up to 360 characters at their disposal – up from just 90 currently and far less than even Twitter’s 140-character limit. Furthermore, authorities will be able to send alerts with greater geographic accuracy which means you’ll be less likely to receive an alert about a tornado that may be many miles away.

Future messages will also be available in Spanish and will cover additional events, we’re told.

Security group claims Yahoo hack was not "state-sponsored"

By Rob Thubron on September 29, 2016, 1:30 PM

When Yahoo last week confirmed that 500 million of its accounts had been leaked following a hack that took place in 2014, the company said that state-sponsored actors were behind the attack. But according to an independent security firm, a gang of cybercriminals-for-hire was responsible.

Arizona-based InfoArmor, which provides companies with protection against employee identify theft, released an investigative report claiming there is no evidence that a nation-state stole the data.

Last year, Yahoo became one of several companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, to say it would alert users who they suspect have accounts that have come under attack by state-sponsored hackers. It has never revealed how it determines this, or what evidence it has to prove the 2014 hack was orchestrated by a government.

Andrew Komarov, InfoArmor’s chief intelligence officer, concluded that the Yahoo hackers were cybercriminals after reviewing a sample of the leaked data. The firm acquired this from “operative sources” as part of an investigation into a five-person criminal gang located in Eastern Europe known as Group E.

“They have never been hired by anyone to hack Yahoo," said Komarov "They were simply looking for well-known sites that had many users […] According to our information, most of the group's clientele are spammers."

Komarov added that Group E has sold the Yahoo data to at least three different clients. One was a state-sponsored party who had an interest in exclusive database acquisition, and the other two were notable criminal gangs who planned to use it for spam campaigns. "We don't see any reason to say that it's state-sponsored. Their clients are state sponsored, but not the actual hackers," Komarov told the Wall Street Journal.

InfoArmor also believes that Group E was behind the high-profile hacks of LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Dropbox.

Raspberry Pi's most popular operating system gets a visual overhaul

By Shawn Knight on September 29, 2016, 2:15 PM

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched an updated version of Raspbian, a popular open-source operating system for the foundation’s various single-board computers.

Raspbian isn’t developed or affiliated with the Raspberry Pi team although it does serve as one of two operating systems the foundation officially supports (the other is Noobs, which stands for New Out Of the Box Software).

As UX engineer Simon Long explains, he met with Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton a little over two years ago and was flat out asked if he thought he could make Raspbian better. Having very little experience with Linux or Xwindows, Long hesitantly said he thought he could help.

Raspbian, for those not familiar, isn’t exactly the most aesthetically pleasing OS on the block. As such, the initial batch of changes consists almost entirely of visual tweaks. This is evident from the get-go as an elegant splash screen replaces most of the diagnostic messages during boot-up. Long notes that the splash screen was carefully coded as to not slow down the machine’s boot time.

Once at the desktop, you’ll find a vibrant background image – one of 16 sourced from the foundation’s own Greg Annandale. Other quick-hit changes include reworked taskbar, menu and file manager icons, revised temperature and voltage indicators, a new window frame design, the inclusion of the Infinality font rendering package, an updated login screen, options to disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth plus a handful of new applications.

The new image, dubbed PIXEL (which stands for Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight), is available to download free of charge from the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website. Long notes that the uncompressed image is more than 4GB in size meaning some older unzippers may not be able to decompress it properly. If that’s the case, you can simply use a program like 7-Zip on Windows or The Unarchiver on Mac to get the job done.

Set your sights on a software testing career with the Ultimate Software Testing Bundle

By TechSpot Deals on September 29, 2016, 3:15 PM

A software product can’t hit the market until it’s been properly tested. That’s why software development companies hire software testers in droves to expedite the development process. If you’ve been looking for a way into the tech world, software testing is a solid choice.

With the Ultimate Software Testing Bundle, you can become a bona fide software tester and get paid handsomely to sniff bugs out of software. Get this bundle on sale for just $59, or over 90% off retail.

Here are some course highlights:
Software Testing Series (Module #1) - Beginner Level: Get your feet wet in software testing by mastering the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Learn the all the engineering lingo and processes you need to know to properly run tests.
Software Testing Series (Module #3) - Advanced Level: Dive into a variety of SDLC models and learn the distinct pros and cons of each. Learn how to manage the defects you find and use organized metrics to keep track.
Bugzilla Training: Get a crash course in this popular debugging tool. Discover how to boost a software’s performance by seeking out and reporting bugs with Bugzilla.
ISTQB Level 1 Training: Start your job hunt on the right foot by prepping for a leading software testing certification exam.

The Ultimate Software Testing Bundle is currently over 90% off, so save big and get it for only $59.

Hillary Clinton vows to respond to foreign hacking against USA


Hillary Clinton vows to respond to foreign hacking against USA
Image Credit: Venture Beat
Hillary Clinton is vowing anew to respond to foreign hacking the same as any other attack against the United States. When she openly blamed Russia for recent U.S. cyber break-ins, Donald Trump wondered whether to blame overseas governments or overweight hackers working from home. “She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t – maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China,” Trump said during this week’s presidential debate. “It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?”
These are the unanswered questions about how the U.S. government should defend itself after an attack in the internet age: Whether to fire back, how to fire back, and at whom? The Obama administration is still writing its rulebook. A lingering challenge involves identifying whose hands were on the keyboard: Foreign hacker spies, cyber criminals, disgruntled insiders or bored teenagers? Skilled hackers can cover their tracks, use software tools traceable to others and feign their location across borders or continents.
On Wednesday, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said during a congressional hearing that it was “now the clear consensus of the intelligence community that the Russian government was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee and not, as some suggested, somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
The White House has not officially declared Russia responsible and it’s unclear whether or when it might, since blaming Russia – with whom the U.S. is locked in a bitter dispute over fighting in Syria – would probably require plans for a response.
Clinton has raised eyebrows among some cybersecurity experts with her hawkish language on the campaign trail about retaliating with political, economic or even military means. Her aggressive policy proposal is especially notable since the State Department, which she led during President Barack Obama’s first term, traditionally has a vested interest in avoiding overt conflict since it might complicate diplomatic efforts.
“We’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country,” Clinton said during the presidential debate, when asked how she would respond to cyberattacks. For the first time, cybersecurity led the national security portion of the presidential debate, demonstrating its political stakes and the fact that the next president will shape 21st century cyberwarfare policies, setting rules about how the U.S. responds to foreign hackers.
Trump has not released an official position on cybersecurity. Clinton tackles the issue in one-and-a-half pages of her 288-page campaign book. At the debate Trump mentioned “the cyber” without detailing specifics. “We should be better than anybody else, and perhaps we’re not,” Trump said. “The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.”
The high-profile discussion came amid a presidential race that has been punctuated by hacks that cybersecurity firms, Democrats and the Clinton campaign have pinned on Russia, as well as multiple security breaches and data leaks. The White House is grappling over how to respond to hacking that some lawmakers have said is attempting to undermine voter confidence in the election.
“We’re in the process now, really the very early stages of developing those norms by virtue of the types of attacks we’re seeing,” said Matt Olsen, a former general counsel for the National Security Agency. Olsen said responding is a challenge: “How do you know who’s responsible for the attack (and) to what extent are the cyber actors even susceptible to the normal responses like economic or diplomatic pressure?”
Clinton’s cyber security stance tracks with work she started while at the State Department. Even back in 2010, she said countries or individuals who hack “should face consequences and international condemnation” and that “an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all.” In the State Department, she created the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues to deal with global diplomacy and cyber rules. “There was no other office in the world like mine when it was created five years ago,” said Christopher Painter, who’s served as the office’s coordinator since its inception. “Now we have 25 counterparts around the world and more on the way. That really indicates something that was a huge priority in foreign policy.”
But Clinton is hardly a technology expert herself, once struggling with how to operate a fax machine or connect a new iPad to Wi-Fi. And her cybersecurity record at the State Department is spotty. The FBI said there was no evidence her private email server in her home’s basement was hacked, but agents concluded that it was possible that hackers broke into her personal email account. At the end of her term as secretary, Clinton left behind an agency with one of the lowest scores in government for its compliance with a federal information security law.
Many of the most noteworthy cyberattacks – and the administration’s policy for dealing with them – occurred after Clinton left the State Department. The Obama administration has in recent years adopted a “name and shame” policy for state-sponsored hackers. It criminally charged five Chinese military officials with stealing secrets from nuclear power and solar companies and Iranian hackers with attacks on financial institutions and a small New York dam. In 2014, the U.S. publicly accused North Korea of hacking Sony Pictures and placed sanctions on the already isolated nation.
Associated Press

Skype update for iOS adds Siri integration, supports iOS 10 features


Skype update for iOS adds Siri integration, supports iOS 10 features

Skype has announced an update for iOS users that claims to integrate the best iOS 10 features into the Skype experience.
The latest Skype version 6.25 for iPhone and iPad adds support for Siri integration, which enables users to use Siri to make Skype calls. Now you can simply say “Call James Archer” to start a call on Skype after confirmation on the right contact from Siri, Skype says in a blogpost.
Image Credit: Skype
Image Credit: Skype
In addition to Siri integration using the SiriKit, Skype has also added support for CallKit where incoming Skype calls will look exactly like any regular incoming call. This will enable easier switch between a regular call and a Skype call. The company announced that SiriKit and CallKit integration would arrive at their Skype for Business iOS apps next month providing business owners same freedom as announced in the Skype Blogs.
Image Credit: Skype
Image Credit: Skype
There are some limitations with the implementation of the features as you can only make calls to the people if they are in your Skype contact list. You can’t search and add new contacts to your Skype contacts using Siri commands. This update comes right after the update released fromWhatsApp and OlaCabs for iOS 10.

Microsoft makes the Office 365 App Launcher look like the Windows 10 start menu


Microsoft makes the Office 365 App Launcher look like the Windows 10 start menu

Microsoft has upgraded the user interface on the Office 365 App Launcher to make it look more like the Windows 10 start menu. The experience is designed to be consistent across desktops and Microsoft Surface devices. There is now a tabbed layout with three sections, home, new and all. The home screen where users can organise and pin their most used applications.
The tabbed layout with the "New" Section.
The tabbed layout with the “New” Section.
There are tiles available for the applications, and these can be positioned or resized as per requirement. The ellipses menu on the top right of application tiles contains three size options, small, medium and wide. The New section is an easy way to access the most recently installed apps. When new apps are installed, a badge with a notification appears. The All section lists the entire catalogue of applications that are subscribed to, and has a handy search field to search anywhere within Office 365.
Resizing the tiles.
Resizing the tiles.
At the right end of the navigation bar, three applications can be pinned. There is now a support for Office 365 themes. The settings menu now has options to select themes, and organisations can create custom themes for use by their employees. A feature to display recent documents on clicking or tapping of the ellipses menu is being planned. Apps from Office 365, the Office store, Azure, SharePoint and Line of Business will be displayed by the launcher.
Themes in office 365.
Themes in office 365.
System administrators also have the option of including custom tiles for the employees of their organisations. Only customers with the Exchange service can pin, resize or customise apps, and access the tabbed layout. Those who have opted in for the First Release program will see the updates by the end of September. The First Release program allows an organisation to recieve new updates first, and the ability to control which employees receive the updates. Those who have not signed up for the First Release program will see the new update rolling out in October.

Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft announce partnership on AI and machine learning


Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft announce partnership on AI and machine learning
Image Credit: Reuters
In a major boost to artificial intelligence (AI) research, five top-notch tech companies — Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft — have joined hands to announce a historic partnership on AI and machine learning.
It means that these companies will discuss advancements and conduct research in AI and how to develop best products and services powered by machine learning, Tech Crunch reported on Thursday.
Initial financial help will come from these companies and as other stakeholders join the group, the finances are expected to increase.
“We want to involve people impacted by AI as well,” Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder and head of applied AI at DeepMind, a subsidiary of Alphabet (parent company of Google), was quoted as saying.
According to the report, the organisational structure has been designed to allow non-corporate groups to have equal leadership side-by-side with large tech companies.
“The power of AI is in the enterprise sector. For society at-large to get the benefits of AI, we first have to trust it,” Francesca Rossi, AI ethics researcher at IBM Research, told Tech Crunch.
AI-powered bots will become the next interface, shaping our interactions with the applications and devices we rely on and Microsoft’s latest solutions are set to change the way HP interacts with its customers and partners, Microsoft’s Indian-born Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said recently.
At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in August, Nadella had said that AI-powered chatbots will “fundamentally revolutionise how computing is experienced by everybody.”

Facebook is relatively new to live streaming, but here’s why it seems to have caught publishers’ fancy


Facebook is relatively new to live streaming, but here’s why it seems to have caught publishers’ fancy

Everyone’s agreed on one thing, video is the future of web and live streaming will form a significant chunk of that.
The current contenders are Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitch and Periscope. Twitch was among the first to establish itself as a streaming hub, but it did so by carving a niche for itself in gaming. YouTube Live came later and has found a fair amount of success. A great many events and even sports are streamed live on YouTube.
Facebook Live is a relatively new entrant but it seems to have picked up more steam than the rest of the services combined. In fact, it seems to be the platform of choice for advertisers and publishers alike.
Looking closer at the services, it’s easy to see why.
Twitch: It’s all about gaming
Twitch logo Tech2 720
We’ll start with Twitch. As mentioned earlier, Twitch established a niche for itself as a source of all things gaming. If there’s a game you want to see streamed, you’ll find it on Twitch.
Streamers earn money when people subscribe to their stream, via ads and through donations. Twitch is a great place for streamers, but by definition, it’s niche makes it less suited to a larger audience.
Periscope: Limited audience
Periscope splash Tech2 720
Periscope is in an odd spot. It’s not really carved a niche for itself yet, but it doesn’t have much going for it other than the vague association with Twitter. Publishers have found success with Periscope, which is why it can’t be dismissed outright, but compared to the likes of Facebook and YouTube, it’s among the also-rans.
The main problem with Periscope is reach. Twitter has 313 million active users, a number that pales in comparison to Facebook and YouTube’s billion strong user base. Further diminishing Periscope’s reach is the fact that only a fraction of Twitter users actually uses it. As of 2015, the total number of users stands at 10 million, with 2 million daily broadcasts. These numbers are huge, but insignificant in the larger scheme of things.
YouTube Live: Who’s my audience again?
YouTube Live is an extension of YouTube’s video platform and so far, is Facebook Live’s only real competitor. Its main advantage over others is reach, but it’s still not in the same league as Facebook. It’s estimated that YouTube has about a billion monthly active users(around 60-70 percent of Facebook’s total) and about 800 million users watch videos daily.
YouTube is a great platform for watching and streaming video to be sure, but it lacks the cohesion that a social networking platform like Facebook offers. You can watch a live stream, but that’s all you’re there for. Sharing with other users isn’t so easy, you can’t tag your friends or share it to your favourite group as easily and so on.
YouTube limits your interaction to that video. You can share it after the fact, but it’s still not as personal as Facebook’s offering.
Another major issue with YouTube Live is targeting. For advertises and publishers, targeting users is very hard, while Facebook works as a news feed of sorts and can push content as they see fit (they prioritise live videos in people’s news feeds). YouTube can’t do that. On YouTube, people will only see what they’re subscribed to or what they stumble across on their home page.
Target dart Tech2 720
Anyone who’s had their eyes open will be aware of the fact that everything is shifting to mobile. Unfortunately for YouTube, only about 50 percent of their videos are seen on mobile devices. Facebook, again, has a lead on this front, with 75 percent of videos watched, including Live video, on mobile devices.
YouTube also doesn’t have as much data about its users as Facebook. They use cookies, so they can guess at who you are, but Facebook, which requires a login to use, knows who you are. It’s an important distinction that fine tunes targeting and advertisement like nothing else.
To add to all of these above problems, publishers and advertisers claim that YouTube’s charges are higher than Facebook’s.
Facebook Live is new to live-streaming, but it has the ability to leverage the information it’s collected on users to provide the most compelling live-streaming platform for publishers and advertisers. Coupled with a more focused approach to the medium, and a social network that encompasses the entirety of the online world, it does seem like Facebook will simply waltz away with the live-streaming audience.

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