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13
Aug

Microsoft and Intel want Bitcoin tech in your workplace


Blockchain is practically tailor-made for business, and not just because it’s a cornerstone of Bitcoin. Its decentralized, speedy approach to secure transactions is more convenient for tracking cargo around the world or providing digital IDs to those who’d otherwise have nothing. And Microsoft knows it — it’s partnering with Intel to introduce a framework, Coco, that promises to make blockchain accessible to virtually any large business where it might help. It draws on Intel’s Software Guard Extensions to provide blockchain’s distributed tech with speed (up to 1,600 transactions per second) and security that scales to just about any kind of business with relative ease. You don’t need to spend as much time crafting a custom blockchain system, or pay through the nose for computing power as your demands grow.

There are catches. Although Coco should work with any operating system and hypervisor (virtual machine monitor) that supports the right trusted execution environments, you need Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and Intel hardware. This is clearly aimed at enterprises with fairly run-of-the-mill setups. Microsoft and Intel ultimately plan to offer the work from Coco as part of an open source project in 2018, though, and there are already takers like Ethereum and JP Morgan.

This doesn’t mean that blockchain will be ubiquitous. However, it could lower many of the barriers to the technology. Rather than treat blockchain as an experiment or a niche tool, your workplace might use it whenever it makes sense. This might be the ticket to making blockchain mainstream.

Source: Microsoft, Intel

13
Aug

Poll: Review scores – what matters most to YOU?


Buying a new phone can be a challenge, especially when you have to navigate the myriad of options out there to find the phone that’s most suited to you. Over the past 18 months, we’ve been working on an all-new reviews process here at Android Authority and if you’ve followed our Best of Android series, as well as recent articles such as the OnePlus 5 Battery Life review, you’ll have seen a short glimpse into some of the new format. Now, as we near the official launch of our all-new reviews process, we need YOUR help!

We’ve finalised our testing and the last piece of the puzzle we’re working on is how we score devices. There’s two methods we’re considering and both use all of the data we’ve collected through testing, but how we score and rank devices is where we’d like your input! After all, our reviews are designed to help you make the best purchase possible and we want to ensure we’re providing scores that actually matter to you!

There’s two types of scoring we’re considering and both are relative to all the other devices we’ve tested. The first method uses scoring that takes the actual results of the testing and attributes a score relative to the actual data of other devices we’ve tested. The pitfall of this method is that outliers such as a phone with an insanely large battery life will result in misleading disparities in scores.

The second method is to apply scoring according to how the devices rank against each other. As an example, a phone with 10 hours of battery life might be the top result (and get 10 out of 10), but a phone with 7 hours could be second on the list and, assuming we’ve tested 100 devices, it would get a score of 99 (or equivalent). The obvious pitfall here is that the score doesn’t tell you how much better or worse a phone is, rather just that it is better.

Now we’ve explained that, we want to know what matters to YOU. What helps you most when deciding to buy a phone? Do you want to know the actual data, or how a phone ranks against the competition? Or a combination of the both? Vote in the polls and let us know in the comments below and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on!

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

13
Aug

Super-thin semiconductors delay the ‘death’ of silicon


Silicon has been the backbone of processors for decades, but it’s rapidly approaching its physical limits: making a chip on a process smaller than 5 nanometers is usually impossible without introducing problems. How is Moore’s Law for chip complexity going to survive? Stanford researchers have a solution: augment it with materials that outdo silicon where it counts. They’ve pinpointed two semiconductors, hafnium diselenide and zirconium diselenide, that can be made extremely thin (just three atoms thick) while self-insulating far more effectively than silicon. You could get transistors that are 10 times smaller than the smallest you get from silicon alone — 5nm chips would seem bloated compared to what’s possible with these diselenides.

The scientists stress that you’d still need silicon, but the combination of these new materials with silicon could still lead to far more complex processors, much longer battery life, and other advantages that usually come with shrinking transistor sizes. Moore’s Law can’t last forever (the laws of physics won’t allow it), but this could delay the inevitable for many years.

As with many semiconductor breakthroughs, the biggest challenge is simply getting this to market. The Stanford team needs to improve the contact between transistors and these circuits, not to mention improve the reliability of the insulation itself. And of course, there’s the not-so-small matter of putting these semiconductors into a full-size, production-worthy chip. It could take years before this work makes a difference, and by that point the chip industry might already be struggling. If it doesn’t take too long, though, this might give the computing industry a much-needed lifeline.

Source: Stanford

13
Aug

Google Pixel camera trick comes to other phones through a mod


Much of the Google Pixel’s photographic prowess comes from its software — it’s particularly good at high dynamic range photos thanks to its HDR+ mode, which fills in gobs of detail while reducing the blur you sometimes see in HDR shots. But do you have to buy a Pixel phone to see the benefit? Not necessarily, if you’re willing to live life on the edge. Developer B-S-G has modified the Google Camera app to enable HDR+ on any Android phone with a Snapdragon 820, 821 or 835 processor. Your Galaxy S8 or OnePlus 3 won’t perfectly mirror the Pixel’s photo quality, but this could lead to improvements when taking photos in situations with bright highlights or dark shadows — especially if your phone’s default image processing is mediocre. XDA has verified that the software works, so it’s not just a bold claim.

The software is still in a rough state, so you might not want to install it if you depend on Google Camera for your snapshots. We also wouldn’t be surprised if the mod is relatively short-lived given that it’s not exactly Google-approved. Still, this along with previous mods (such as a high-speed shutter mod for Nexus phones) shows that the Pixel’s camera tricks could theoretically help any Android phone, not just those with a “G” on the back.

Via: The Verge

Source: XDA-Developers

13
Aug

Moshi Arcus backpack review


Since high school, I’ve always used messenger bags. It’s easier to grab stuff on the move, and over-the-shoulder bags often look more professional than traditional backpacks. But after carrying Ona’s Union Street messenger bag every day for more than a year, it was already showing signs of wear. It was also hurting my shoulders while weighing me down. I swapped to the Moshi’s Arcus backpack for a change of pace and I haven’t looked back. Having carried it around for about half a year, I can say in this Moshi Arcus backpack review, it’s the best bag I’ve ever used.

A bag for photographers and techies

I carry a lot of products for my job. I often have more than six phones on me, in case I need to snap a photo for a camera comparison. I also have my Nikon D7000 DSLR with three different lenses; a 10.5-inch iPad Pro (or sometimes my 12.3-inch Samsung Chromebook Pro); a New Nintendo 3DS; a 20,100mAh battery pack; and a plethora of cables and other accessories. Fitting all this into my previous Ona bag was possible, but this stretched it to the max, with little room to add items like a water bottle or book. I have plenty of room for more in the Arcus, however.

My favorite feature of this bag is the protective, crush-resistant compartment.

The Arcus is made of a canvas-like durable fabric. The straps and back section are padded for comfort while protecting the internals. There are plenty of small and big pockets, and there’s even more padding on the bottom.

The primary compartment is near the straps on the rear, and it’s here that you can store a 15-inch laptop, papers, books, and pens. On the back of the bag, there are two pockets that can store thin items such as a passport or an external battery pack.

My favorite feature of this bag is the protective, “crush-resistant” compartment at the top. I store my Nintendo 3DS, and all my phones here. There’s a hard shell protecting this compartment from drops, so you can be sure the contents are safe. Underneath this protective safe is a zipper to access the second main compartment.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The second main storage area has two access points — one on the side and one below the crush-resistant compartment. I utilized the camera insert offered by Moshi to house a DSLR with a lens attached, along with two other lenses. Once this camera insert is in place, there’s not a lot more you can add to this compartment.

If you don’t use the camera insert, though, there’s plenty of space. There’s also a mesh velcro pocket inside the second main compartment, which I used to store small accessories like camera batteries.

After using the Arcus for about six months, I hardly see any wear and tear.

Accessing my camera quickly is one of the few pain points I have with this bag, and it’s a reason why I strongly prefer messenger bags. All I had to do before was lift up the flap and grab my camera. Now, I have to take off my backpack and unzip the side compartment. You can try to do it with the Arcus slung on your back, but we don’t recommend it, as a lens could fall out.

The Arcus’ front section features a pocket that fit my external battery, along with a wall charger and three cables. A pouch for a bottle can be found on the side.

After using the Arcus for about six months, I hardly see any wear and tear (apart from the straps my dog likes to chew). The Arcus is also weatherproof, and I have walked through many rainstorms without any issues — everything inside remained dry.

The bag has a slim profile, even when completely full, and it’s comfortable to wear. It can get a little top heavy, especially if you fill the crush-resistant compartment with devices, so you may need to lean it on something to keep it upright. The straps also loosen over time, so you need to readjust them every so often to raise the Arcus up on your back.

There are cheaper backpacks out there, but for what the Arcus provides, we think it’s well worth the $230 price tag. We used the titanium gray model, but the charcoal black looks more professional.




13
Aug

‘2 Dope Queens’ podcast comes to HBO next year as four hour-long specials


Comedians Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson are bringing their hit podcast 2 Dope Queens to HBO. The network has announced that four one-hour 2 Dope Queens comedy specials will be airing on the network in 2018. This comes about a year and a half since the podcast launched in April 2016 through WNYC studios. The podcast typically contains a few monologues and standup routines from Williams and Robinson as well as storytelling and comedy from a new set of contributors each week.

It’s not clear if or how the format of the specials will differ from the standard formula of the podcast, but it’s certainly the type of comedy show that could easily translate to TV. As the shows were just announced, there’s no word on when the shows will air or who may be guest-starring, but it seems likely Williams and Robinson will pull out all the stops for this event.

While this is a high-profile gig, Williams and Robinson have plenty of experience already: Willam appeared in films The Incredible Jessica James and People Places Things; she’s also been on The Daily Show and HBO’s own Girls. Robinson has shown up on I Love Dick, Broad City and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and also published her first book, You Can’t Touch My Hair (And Other Things I Still Have to Explain), last fall. Finally, she has a second podcast, Sooo Many White Guys, which is produced by Broad City’s Ilana Glazer. Given how busy Williams and Robinson have been over the last few years, their resumes will likely be even longer by the time their specials air on HBO in 2018.

Source: HBO (Medium)

13
Aug

Infiniti prototype melds a 1940s race car with EV power


As a rule, electric car concepts embrace the future. Even those with a retro flavor are clearly products of the 21st century. Don’t tell that to Infiniti, however — it’s going deep into the past. Nissan’s luxury badge has unveiled the Prototype 9, an EV whose design unabashedly recalls 1940s race cars (particularly those from Auto Union). And it’s not just the long nose, spoked wheels and massive front grille that pay homage — the prototype was even built using traditional techniques. Inside, of course, it’s very much the product of 2017 know-how.

The machine includes a 140HP equivalent motor that’s powerful enough to get the vehicle to 62MPH in 5.5 seconds with a top speed of 105.6MPH. It’s not the fastest EV by any means, but it does beat a standard Tesla Model 3 to the 62MPH mark despite its vintage chassis. There is one major drawback (besides the car’s single-seater nature), though: range. The Prototype 9 only lasts for 20 minutes under “heavy track use,” and we wouldn’t expect it to drive much further at roadway speeds… not that you’d take it off the track.

Is this a hint of Infiniti (or Nissan) EVs to come? Not really. This is ultimately a demonstration of the company’s design chops for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. However, it does show that electric cars don’t have to hew to cutting-edge (or even semi-recent) bodies to be eye-catching. Don’t be surprised if elements of the Prototype 9 find their way into more straight-laced EVs, whether it’s the internal layout or visual cues.

Via: Autoblog

Source: Infiniti

13
Aug

New investment capital flows into Flo, the AI-powered period-tracking app


Why it matters to you

Flo already has an active monthly user base of 10 million women, and with its new investment round, that number will only grow.

As an app that over 50 percent of the world’s population could make use of on a monthly basis, it’s no wonder that Flo has met with enormous success since its launch in 2015. The hugely popular period tracking app has just raised $5 million in a Series A funding round led by Flint Capital and brand ambassador, supermom, and supermodel Natalia Vodianova, and reinforces the need for female-focused technology in the 21st century.

Flo, which launched just under two years ago in October of 2015, has already secured 10 million monthly active users, and is only gaining in popularity. In fact, the app now sees its user base grow by 1 million users each month. This is largely thanks to a slew of new features, including personalized health insights.

The app relies upon neural networks to both analyze and anticipate menstrual cycles. “The use of machine learning increased predictions accuracy by 54.2 percent, with the prediction error reduced from 5.6 to 2.6 days,” Yuri Gurski, Flo founder and president told Venturebeat via email. “The more symptoms are logged, the more unique patterns the algorithm is likely to find in a woman’s cycle.”

Also included in the newest version of Flo is what Gurski describes as “Quora-style Q&A service.” Here, Gurski noted, “Users can discuss their most burning intimate issues with experts and other users, anonymously. We are seeing amazing results; it is truly a strong community of like-minded peers.”

While the app started out exclusively as a pregnancy app, Flo now has a pregnancy mode that promises a “tailored health solution for women at any stage of the reproductive cycle.” In fact, the company claims that it helps 100,000 women a month get pregnant.

So what will the app do with its new influx of cash? According to a news release, the goal is to use this sum to accelerate growth and expand Flo’s presence throughout the U.S. market. Furthermore, the company has ambitious plans to partner with research centers and universities with the goal of advancing female health science. Ultimately, Flo says, its goal is to “become the number 1 female health platform in the world, with at least 100 million users.”




13
Aug

Yet another reason to hate hotel Wi-Fi — it could be hacked by Russians


Why it matters to you

Russian hackers are targeting business-level hotels in a form of attack that nabs guest information, including usernames and password.

Hotel guests already have enough anxiety-inducing fodder to make their stays a bit less than desirable. From the odd stain on the carpet to the questionable bedspread to the toilet that just won’t stop flushing (or won’t flush at all), there are plenty of reasons to think twice about even the nicest of temporary residences. And now, there’s one more.

As per a new report from security firm FireEye, a Russian hacker group called APT28, or Fancy Bear, has been targeting hotel Wi-Fi networks to spy on guests. And in recent months, the group has reportedly begun to use a leaked NSA hacking tool to make their attacks more sophisticated still.

“FireEye has moderate confidence that a campaign targeting the hospitality sector is attributed to Russian actor APT28,” the firm wrote. “We believe this activity, which dates back to at least July 2017, was intended to target travelers to hotels throughout Europe and the Middle East.”

Perhaps most alarming is the discovery that once hackers succeeded in tapping into hotel Wi-Fi, they managed to take guests’ usernames and passwords completely passively. In fact, guests didn’t even have to type in their sensitive data to have it stolen.

“It’s definitely a new technique,” Ben Read, the leader of FireEye’s espionage research team told Wired. “It’s a much more passive way to collect on people. You can just sit there and intercept stuff from the Wi-Fi traffic.”

FireEye believes that the hackers managed to infiltrate hotel networks via phishing emails that contained infected attachments and malicious Microsoft Word macros. Once they were in a hotel Wi-Fi network, they would then launch NSA hacking tool EternalBlue, which was leaked earlier in 2017. This tool allowed them to spread their control throughout the network, finally reaching servers responsible for the corporate and guest Wi-Fi networks.

Finally, APT28 is said to have used a network-hacking tool known as Responder, which gave them access to user credentials.

And if you think you can avoid these sorts of attacks by staying at nicer hotels, think again. “These were not super expensive places, but also not the Holiday Inn,” FireEye’s Read said. “They’re the type of hotel a distinguished visitor would stay in when they’re on corporate travel or diplomatic business.”

So what can you do to protect yourself? FireEye recommends bringing your own wireless hot spot to steer clear of hotel Wi-Fi altogether. Just another thing you’ll have to remember to pack for your next trip.




13
Aug

Express yourself in this weekend’s comment thread!


Kick back and chat during your weekend downtime.

We’re all busy getting ready for Android O and IFA and V30s and Note 8s and everything else, but it’s still important to remember to take a break once in a while. That’s especially true if you spend the majority of the week behind a desk in a cubicle or office. Take your weekend time, whether it be the normal Saturday and Sunday weekend or other days because work is a 24/7 thing, and get some fresh air.

galaxy-s8-steps.jpg?itok=6m22F_8d

After you have spent some time in the glorious sunshine of the great outdoors, you can kick back and chat with friends right here. Express yourself, and be yourself with no judging. I think we all learned this week that it’s very difficult sometimes when the way you feel inside clashes with what others think. Don’t let that stop you from doing a bit of free thinking even if what you’re thinking turns out wrong in the end or others don’t agree.

The important thing is to be respectful of others when you do disagree. We’re all wired differently, but we’re all in this mess of a world together. Let’s chill and chat with each other!

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