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 CTO.org - News Archive - February 17, 2018
The US National Labor Relations Board says Google fired the author of a controversial diversity memo not to silence a dissenter, but over "unprotected discriminatory statements."

The Sennheiser IE800 S throws a party for your ears.

Unleash your inner wizard with these Wizard Training Wands from Jakks Pacific that use motion sensors to track your movements.

New Mighty Muggs toys of C-3PO, Captain Phasma and Maz Kanata debut at Toy Fair 2018.

Schiit Loki is a four-band equalizer that lets you easily tweak the sound of your speakers, headphones and music.

In an attempt to better understand the changing automotive landscape, Google crunched a bunch of its data to find out what it is we all care care about, when it comes to cars.

Vrooom! Car racing gets spiced up with augmented-reality effects shown off at Toy Fair 2018.

And it sounds like it'll be a doozy.

What might look like a gorgeous classic Aston is in fact, a brand-spanking-new car. Made from the ground up to the original specification of the 1959 Le Mans competitor, the DB4 GT Continuation is the closest you could get to automotive time travel.

It automatically inflates when it senses a crash. The technology was originally designed to protect motorcycle riders, but is now used by downhill skiers like Lindsey Vonn.

Will you finish them all before the Academy Awards on March 4?

In this edition of Ask Maggie, CNET's Marguerite Reardon breaks down what you need to know about the carrier practice of locking phones.

Commentary: Art like "Black Panther" overturns stereotypes to reclaim the past and reimagine the future. To understand the film's power, you need to understand Afrofuturism.

Exclusive: Tony Stark's big suit from "Avengers: Age of Ultron" comes in Lego form this March.

Show Us Yours: Missourians Patrick and Stephanie enjoy witnessing the firepower of their fully armed and operational entertainment station.

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Google wants you to keep using Google. So to keep your interest, it'-™s working hard to apply some of the world'-™s most advanced technologies to making your online activities faster and easier.

It'-™s attacking from several angles. One of them is prediction. Google is figuring out how to guess what you'-™ll want to do, then making that prediction available as an instant option.

This predictive power will transform how employees and executives in enterprises and other businesses operate. The predictive internet will do for work what self-driving cars will do for transportation.

It'-™s starts with messaging.

Predictive conversation

Google is beta-testing a new tool called Reply that reads what your colleagues message to you and then suggests replies, which you can choose to send with a click or tap. That might sound like Google'-™s existing Smart Replies, which is built into Gmail, Inbox and Allo. But Reply is Smart Replies for third-party apps, essentially. (Sign up for the beta here.)

Microsoft this week released the first preview of what will become Windows 10 version 1809, this year's second feature upgrade and the one slated to ship this fall.

But the debut of what Microsoft calls the "Skip Ahead" build for Windows 10 1809 also hints that the release of the spring feature upgrade, aka 1803, will take place in early April.

On Wednesday, Microsoft forked the 1803 preview of Windows 10 - as it's done before when it nears release of a feature upgrade - so that developers could continue to deliver beta code for that build while also beginning to work on the next-in-line, 1809. (Microsoft uses a yymm labeling system to mark its Windows 10 feature upgrades; 1803 indicates a March 2018 release, while 1809 marks a September release.)

The Microsoft Update Catalog uses insecure HTTP links '-" not HTTPS links '-" on the download buttons, so patches you download from the Update Catalog are subject to all of the security problems that dog HTTP links, including man-in-the-middle attacks.

Security researcher Stefan Kanthak, writing on Seclist'-™s Bugtraq mailing list, elaborates:

Even if you browse the "Microsoft Update Catalog" via the HTTPS link, " ALL download links published there use HTTP, not HTTPS!

That's trustworthy computing ... the Microsoft way!

Despite numerous mails sent to <secure () microsoft com> in the last years, and numerous replies "we'll forward this to the product groups," nothing happens at all.

I'-™ve been inspired to make a few predictions after spending the morning looking at some of the powerful applications you can now run on a midrange iMac Pro.

Enterprises need the iMac Pro

Apple sees the way the industry is going. It'-™s decision last year to recommit to the pro Mac market followed years of criticism, but now it has made that declaration, it seems deadly serious in its determination to ensure that if PCs are going to be trucks, then it wants some of the most powerful trucks on the road to be Macs.

Flashback to one of Detroit's "Big Three" automakers in the 1970s, when almost half the new cars coming off its assembly lines have steering column electrical problems, says a pilot fish engineer who was there.

"Each steering column wiring harness was supposed to be tested manually in a sub-assembly area next to the line, and then sprayed with a white dot to show that it passed," fish says.

"After a bit of casual observation, it was discovered that some of the workers would actually test just one, spray five or ten, then go back to reading a magazine."

Management decides on a high-tech solution: an automated test system for each assembly plant to walk the workers through each test step for every steering column, and record the results on the plant's mainframe.

Google Assistant is artificial intelligence at your fingertips" '-” but sometimes, it can be tough to know what to ask an omniscient robot to do.

I'm here to help. I've talked to my phone more than I'd care to admit (even before it did anything in response" '-” boy, were those awkward times), and I've put together the ultimate guide to Google Assistant's most useful productivity-oriented commands.

So clear your throat, grab your nearest Assistant-packing gadget, and start putting that virtual companion of yours to work.

(Google Assistant is available on Android phones and tablets running Android 5.0 or higher, on iOS devices via a downloadable app, and on certain Chromebooks and home speaker products. With Android and other Google devices, Assistant can typically be summoned via voice command or by pressing and holding the Home key. You can also download an app that'll give you a more traditional home screen shortcut. Unless otherwise noted, the functions described in this article should work on any Android phone, but some of them may not be available on iPhones, iPads, or other types of Assistant-enabled devices.)

Microsoft never sleeps. Even before the" Windows 10 Fall Creators Update" was rolled out, the company began work on the next major update to Windows 10, code-named Redstone 4. As it did with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft has been releasing a series of public preview builds to" members of Microsoft's Insider Program.

What follows is a list of every preview build of Redstone 4, starting with the most recent. For each build, we've included the date of its release and a link to Microsoft's announcement about it. We've also kept the list of all the preview builds that led up to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (Redstone 3) and the Windows 10 Creators Update (Redstone 2), which are below the builds of Redstone 4.

HP is expanding its Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering to cover Apple's iOS and macOS hardware.

As part of HP's expanded DaaS offering, known more generally under the industry term of managed mobility services (MMS), customers will be able to pair iPhones, iPads, Macs and other Apple devices with HP's support, managed services and analytics.

Apple for years pushed, without much success, to get its hardware and software into the office. But the organic adoption of its iOS devices" '-" especially the iPhone '-" finally forced enterprises to take it seriously.

Microsoft's free Windows Analytics service now scans enterprise Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 PCs, and reports whether they've been updated to defend against potential attacks exploiting the Meltdown and Spectre processor vulnerabilities.

The new capabilities of Windows Analytics' "Upgrade Readiness" were announced Tuesday by Terry Myerson, the top Windows executive at the company. Myerson called the vulnerabilities - found by Google security researchers and reported to vendors in mid-2017 - "a new challenge for all of us" because they were in the silicon, not in software.

"We have added new capabilities to our free Windows Analytics service to report the status for all the Windows devices that [IT professionals] manage," Myerson wrote in a post to a company blog.

Late last month, Apple quietly unveiled major changes to macOS Server. Although the announcement didn't disclose much about the new abilities macOS Server will gain, it does detail services to be deprecated starting this spring. Though these features won't disappear immediately, they will eventually be removed from future releases and hidden on new macOS Server installations.(Insider Story)

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 ).

With Apple's better-late-than-never arrival into the smart speaker market this month, there's been lots of talk about the state of the smart assistant '-” and why, ultimately, all these companies are working so hard to get you talking to their technology.

From Siri to Alexa and Google Assistant to Bixby (yes, even Bixby), the virtual assistants are all soldiers in the tech world's latest battle for our attention. And what these artificially intelligent entities are really all about comes down to a single four-syllable word:


Whether you're Apple, Amazon, Google, or any of the less equipped companies fighting to get a foot into this arena, the virtual assistant is the latest and most promising way to get folks further entrenched in your ecosystem '-” and thus likely to keep using the associated products and services that benefit your bottom line.

It's the 1990s, and this IT support pilot fish is working at a factory that manufactures electronic components, setting up PCs and running the network.

"One day I received a call from a user I'd never heard from before," says fish. "He worked in the chemical treatment area and informed me that his four-month-old PC was not working.

"I walked to his area and he informed me the PC was in his testing room. I entered a closed room and immediately began having problems breathing."

His lungs burning, fish runs back outside and tells the user there's no way he can work on the PC in the testing room -- it will have to be pulled out.

With an annoyed sigh, user goes into the room -- with no more protection than fish had -- and unhooks the PC and brings it to fish, who's still coughing.

IBM sees" blockchain as much more than the foundation for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and wants the government to consider embracing it as a way of saving time, cost and risk.

IBM is among a growing number of vendors offering blockchain as a service (BaaS), which allows enterprises to pilot the technology without massive capital expenditures related to onsite development and hardware.

The very early reports are in, and it looks like this month'-™s monstrous panoply of patches isn'-™t as destructive as last month'-™s '-" so far, at least. Aside from a few reported incompatibilities, the big news involves two Outlook security holes that kick in when you download email, or preview a message. There are no known exploits, but if you use Outlook, you need to understand the dangers '-" and should seriously consider patching sooner rather than later.

First, the blast. Yesterday, Microsoft released its usual Patch Tuesday security updates, which include" 50 separately identified security holes (CVEs). Those 50 are in addition to the one Adobe Flash Player security hole, CVE 4074595, that was plugged on Feb. 6. Of the 50, 14 are rated Critical, 34 rated Important (which means they aren'-™t) and two are Moderate.

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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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Acer's Swift 7 is the thinnest laptop in the world.

HTC and Valve'-™s Vive was the first virtual reality headset that really made me jump on the VR hype train. Not only could you escape into virtual worlds, but thanks to its motion tracking sensors, your movement in the real world was translated into the digital. Like Facebook'-™s (FB) Oculus Rift, the Vive'-™s display resolution made individual pixels clearly visible in certain situations, killing any sense of true immersion.

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)?

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