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Fri, 26 May 17
Intel To Expand Thunderbolt 3 Reach, Plans To Open USB-C Specs
By the end of this year, the PC and Mac marketplace could feature nearly 150 devices with Intel's Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port. But Intel is aiming to expand the reach of its universal port design even further by integrating support for the connector into its future CPUs.

Starting next year, the company also plans to boost the connector technology by making the Thunderbolt 3 protocol specification available to other companies under a non-exclusive, royalty-free licensing arrangement. Announced yesterday, the move would enable third-party manufacturers to incorporate the USB-C technology into their chips as well.

First released by Intel and Apple in 2011, the Thunderbolt updated previous USB technology via a single cable that can support high-speed data transfers, device connectivity, and charging. The Thunderbolt 3, which hit the market in late 2015, provides speeds of up to 40 Gbps and can support dual 4K displays and up to 100W of charging power.

Integration Means 'Thinner, Lighter' Systems

Writing in an online editorial yesterday, company executive Chris Walker said the new CPU integration and specification plans are part of Intel's "Thunderbolt 3 everywhere" ambitions.

"With Thunderbolt 3 integrated into the CPU, computer makers can build thinner and lighter systems with only Thunderbolt 3 ports," said Walker, vice president of Intel's client computing group and general manager of the mobility client platform. By making the technology available to third-party processor manufacturers, "[w]e expect industry chip development to accelerate a wide range of new devices and user experiences," he said.

Currently, not all Intel chips provide native support for Thunderbolt 3. This means device manufacturers must either use Intel's Alpine Ridge chip, designed to support Thunderbolt 3, or include Alpine Ridge as an add-on, which adds to a device's cost and power consumption.

With Thunderbolt 3 support built into all of Intel's chips, "all the...

Fri, 26 May 17
Hack Attack by Subtitles Threatens Millions of Users Worldwide
If there wasn't enough to worry about already, hackers have now figured out a way to attack computers though the subtitles in videos. The new vulnerability allows remote attackers to take complete control of machines using malicious subtitle files, including those commonly used with video applications and systems such as VLC, Kodi (XBMC), Popcorn-Time, and strem.io.

The problem is so widespread among so many different video playback tools that the number of potentially vulnerable machines could be as high as 200 million worldwide, according to Check Point Software Technologies, the security company whose researchers first discovered the issue.

An Open Door

This particular method of mounting an attack seems especially insidious because it can be executed so easily. Hackers can take complete control over the entire subtitle supply chain without resorting to man-in-the-middle attacks or requiring any user interaction. Other attacks require that hackers intercept network traffic between two parties, convince users to visit malicious Web pages or download malicious code.

That is not the case here. Instead, the attack is launched though the use of a malicious subtitle file, such as a .srt file, crafted by the hacker. The malicious file can then be uploaded to one of a number of free subtitle repositories such as OpenSubtitles.org. Oftentimes, there may be multiple files with different versions of the subtitles stored on the repositories. In that case, the repositories will rank the different files in order of perceived quality.

But the researchers from Check Point found that they were able to manipulate the ranking algorithms used by these repositories, allowing them to ensure that their malicious file would receive the highest ranking. That is important not only because many users rely on those rankings to decide which files to download, but many platforms automatically download subtitle files and use the repositories'...

Fri, 26 May 17
Digital Currency Bitcoin Value Hits an All-Time High
The price of the digital currency bitcoin hit a new all-time high on Monday of close to $2,200. As such, the lucky few (if any) who bought $100 worth of bitcoin seven years ago to the day at a cost of $0.003 cents each are now sitting on a vast fortune of more than $70 million.

According to a CNBC report, Monday marks the seven-year anniversary of what is believed to be the first ever bitcoin transaction. On May 22, 2010, a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz traded 10,000 bitcoin in exchange for two pizzas.

For many investors, the concept of bitcoin is confusing and unfamiliar, especially the rise in its value. According to the CNBC report, there are a few factors to explain the surge in bitcoin's value over the years.

First, political uncertainty and has created demand for a digital currency that is not linked to any one central bank or government. For example, bitcoin has gained popularity in countries with capital or currency restrictions, especially in China, India and Venezuela.

More recently, Japan passed legislation that would allow companies and retailers to accept bitcoin as a legal currency. Naturally, this helped boost trading activity in the yen/bitcoin pair and now accounts for over 40 percent of all bitcoin trade.

No Stranger To Volatility

But at the end of the day many investors who are used to volatility in the stock market might be uncomfortable with the volatility seen in bitcoin. Consider the fact that bitcoin hit a prior all-time high of $1,137 in November 2013 and then traded between $200 and $400 for much of 2014 and 2015.

It wasn't until January 2017 that the price of a bitcoin eclipsed its 2013's high--only to plunge 23 percent the following day.

Fri, 26 May 17
Mark Zuckerberg Says He Is Not Running for Public Office
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his quest this year to visit every state he hadn't before is about building relationships, not politics. The 33-year-old billionaire wrote in a Facebook post that some users have asked if the trip means he's running for public office. Zuckerberg says he's not running for anything. Instead, he says the visits around the country are in order "to get a broader perspective."

He said Facebook is looking to connect users beyond people they already know, and he wrote that it may be important that the platform connects users to "people you should know." He describes those as people outside a user's social circle who he says "provide a new source of support and inspiration."

Facebook is exploring models for building those connections, Zuckerberg said.

He wrote the post Sunday from Newport, Rhode Island, where he was spotted with his wife, Priscilla Chan. Massachusetts real estate broker Gisele Borghani said she and her family were walking on a crowded sidewalk to Newport's Easton's Beach when they nearly bumped into the couple.

"I said, 'Hi,' and he smiled back and she smiled back," Borghani said. "They were just minding their own business like two normal people."

She said Chan was wearing a baseball cap from Maine, where the couple was spotted a few days ago. The couple was flanked by two bodyguards, who were walking about 10 feet back, she said.

Borghani said the resort town was packed with people enjoying the beautiful weather and the city's oyster festival.

Zuckerberg and Chan then traveled to Providence on Monday to visit the Del Sesto Middle School. The Providence Public School District said it was expecting representatives from the couple's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and "was delighted when the foundation's namesakes showed up in person."

The couple and their organization's education director, Jim Shelton, also met Monday with...

Fri, 26 May 17
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 May Embed the Fingerprint Scanner
After various phone companies have tried making it work, it looks like the technology of embedding the fingerprint scanner under the screen might come on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 first.

According to a new leaked video, a new dummy shows an early concept for the Galaxy Note 8 design, and it doesn't have a fingerprint sensor on the front or on the rear of the phone. That may be because Samsung feels ready to place the scanner under the screen. Earlier rumors suggested that Samsung would be putting this tech under the screen of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, but couldn't get the tech in time.

This might also mean that Samsung might be gearing up to put more focus on unlocking your phone with the Iris scanner rather than using the more commonly used fingerprint method.

Other leaked specs for the phone suggest that it will pack the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset in the US, while the rest of the world will get the Exynos 8895 chipset, much like Samsung chose to do on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.

The Note 8 is expected to be announced around August or September this year, but all we know for certain is the phone will be released at some point in 2017.

Fri, 26 May 17
Ford's New CEO Promises a Fit But Fun Company
Ford's new CEO, Jim Hackett, revealed a little about his plans -- and a lot about himself -- when he talked to media after his appointment. p Here are four of the comments the former head of Steelcase Inc. made at Ford's Dearborn headquarters Monday and the deeper meaning behind them. p What he said: Any time this Rubik's cube is being turned around, we have just as much advantage in that future as anyone else. We have a right to it. And what we have, that won't be lost, is this great vehicle business. The number one vehicle in the world is built by Ford Motor Company, and that's not lost on me. The license you get to make change is from your care where all the earnings are coming from. p What he meant: Ford, like every major automaker, is at a crossroads. The company has to keep churning out vehicles and keeping them fresh in order to make the money it needs to invest in future modes of transportation, like self-driving cars. Former CEO Mark Fields, who retired over the weekend, was criticized for letting popular vehicles like the Ford Escape get dated and for not bringing a subcompact SUV to the U.S. market more quickly. p Hackett [pictured above] is making clear that he will keep a close eye on the automotive business, which was responsible for 90 percent of Ford's $10.4 billion pretax profit last year. The F-Series pickup and the Focus sedan are both among the world's best-selling vehicles. At the same time, he doesn't want employees to think of Ford as an old company that can't compete with Google or Tesla when it comes to technology. Hackett said Ford's new mobility efforts, which he has led for the last year, have been moving quickly, although it's not yet clear when they...

Fri, 26 May 17
With Surface Updates, Microsoft Signals New Hardware Push in China
Microsoft is updating its Surface tablet line, introducing a device that drops the numeral branding from the tablet and adds battery life and horsepower. p The Surface Pro [pictured above], introduced at a media event in China on Tuesday, looks much like the Surface Pro 4 that Microsoft released in October 2015. But inside are updated Intel processors and, Microsoft says, battery life that lasts as much as 50 percent longer than the previous iteration. p The cost of the new device will range from $799 for a version powered by Intel's Core M processor, to $2,699 for one outfitted with a more powerful seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16 gigabytes of RAM. p Those prices don't include the Surface's type cover ($129), essentially a requirement for the tablet to function as a laptop replacement as Microsoft touts in advertisements. p The 12.3-inch touch screen is built for interaction with the Surface Pen. p Microsoft's Surface line launched with a thud in 2012, but a recent run of polished devices have earned better reviews and made the company's venture into computer hardware a viable line of business. p Surface devices, including the Surface Studio desktop PC and the Surface Book laptop, brought in more than $4 billion in revenue during the 12 months that ended in March. A new offering, the Surface Laptop, was introduced earlier this month. p The devices have also helped fuel the growth in demand for more-portable laptops, and spurred other computer makers to spice up their offerings in the competitive, and shrinking, market for PCs. p The Surface Pro, available for pre-order Tuesday, is expected to be available June 15 in 27 markets, including the United States, Canada and much of Western Europe. p The device also will launch then in China -- a market where Microsoft's computers have tended to arrive on a delayed basis, if at all. The country has...

Fri, 26 May 17
Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner Fooled by German Hackers
The iris-recognition feature in Samsung's new Galaxy S8 smartphone has been defeated by German hackers, less than a month after the device hit shelves around the world. p A video posted by the Chaos Computer Club, a long-running hacker collective formed in Berlin in 1981, shows the security feature being fooled by a dummy eye into thinking that it is being unlocked by a legitimate owner. p The artificial eye -- which is made using just a printer and a contact lens to match the curvature of the eye -- can be created using pictures of the owner's eye taken from social media, the group said, though for highest quality fake irises, a digital photograph taken in night mode works best. p The security risk to the user from iris recognition is even bigger than with fingerprints, as we expose our irises a lot, said the group's spokesperson, Dirk Engling. If you value the data on your phone -- and possibly want to even use it for payment -- using the traditional pin-protection is a safer approach than using body features for authentication. p The Galaxy S8 also ships with a facial recognition feature, which was defeated before the phone was even on sale : it can be tricked with something as simple as a printed-out picture of the owner. The ill-fated Note 7 also had the same infrared iris scanner as the Galaxy S8. p CCC is the same group that first fooled Apple's TouchID fingerprint sensors, just weeks after the first iPhone 5s hit the market. That hack was carried out with graphite powder, a laser etching machine and wood glue, all to trick Apple's systems for ensuring that a real finger was being used, but required physical access to something the target had touched (a year later, another hacker demonstrated a way to generate working fingerprints from...

Thu, 25 May 17
Google Attribution Aims To Link Offline Purchases to Online Ads
Machine learning can help marketers better track the success of their ads, whether customers ultimately end up buying online or off, thanks to a new tool unveiled by Google yesterday. However, consumer and privacy advocates are expressing concern about the potential implications of Google's ever-expanding ability to understand user behavior from first search to final purchase.

Google Attribution, whose launch in beta was announced yesterday during the company's Marketing Next conference in San Francisco, is a new offering that lets marketers better assess the effectiveness of their advertising, according to senior vice president of ads & commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy. In a blog post about the tool's launch, Ramaswamy said Google Attribution uses machine learning to provide data-driven insights about each step in the consumer journey.

Tracking Across Devices and Channels

"For the first time, Google Attribution makes it possible for every marketer to measure the impact of their marketing across devices and across channels -- all in one place, and at no additional cost," Ramaswamy said. Rather than just relying on last-click attribution, which misses the impact of most marketing touchpoints, Google's new tool makes use of data from a range of applications like AdWords, Google Analytics, and DoubleClick Search to let marketers better understand consumer actions across devices and channels, he said.

Over the coming months, Google also plans to roll out new capabilities enabling marketers to understand the in-store sales impact of their ads at the device and campaign levels, Ramaswamy said.

For example, large retailers who take email information at the point of sale from shoppers enrolled in their loyalty programs will be able to import data about such transactions into AdWords to better analyze campaign-related purchases by individual stores.

"And even if your business doesn't have a large loyalty program, you can still measure store sales by taking advantage...

Thu, 25 May 17
Microsoft Said To Buy Cyberecurity Firm Hexadite for $100 Million
Redmond may not be saying anything, but reports indicate that Microsoft has agreed to buy Israeli cybersecurity company Hexadite for around $100 million. Hexadite uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and address small-scale network attacks, a frequent problem for many large enterprises.

Although nothing is official yet, the deal could be announced within the next couple weeks, according to reports. Assuming the acquisition goes through without a hitch, the agreement would represent yet another example of Microsoft's recently announced plans to invest more than $1 billion on network security every year for the near future.

Automating Responses to Smaller Threats

Hexadite, which was founded in Israel but is currently headquartered in Boston, is one of several new companies that is tackling the problem of network security by using machine learning and AI to handle smaller network breaches, while flagging more significant attacks for a company‚EUôs security team to address themselves. p By automating the work of dealing with less serious attacks, Hexadite aims to free up resources to focus on larger and potentially more dangerous threats. The company said it can reduce the time needed to address security problems by up to 95 percent. p Reports of a deal between the two companies appears to make sense, given what Hexadite does and where Microsoft has said it wants to focus its energies. The acquisition would fit neatly into Redmond's strategy of expanding its offerings for enterprise customers, particularly those already using cloud-based products and services. p In fact, Hexadite may not be the only such deal Microsoft is negotiating at the moment. Just last month, the company was also reported to be in talks to acquire Cloudyn for $50 million to $70 million, Cloudyn, another startup focused on monitoring and optimizing enterprise operations across multi-vendor cloud deployments, is also an Israeli tech company. p subheadGrowing...


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