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16
Mar

Education starts at home: nine educational apps for young children (age 3-to-6)


How much kids should be allowed to use technology is a very hot topic these days.  But regardless of how you look at the problem, you can’t deny technology can bring some unmistakable benefits.

For example, tech can transform drab things like math problems or grammar exercises into exciting adventures kids won’t shy away from.

Many parents fear allowing kids to use apps will hook them to a life of being dependent flashy smartphones’ screen. But on the other side of the coin, apps can be turned into great tools to help children expand their imagination or develop their cognitive skills.

It’s a matter of selecting the right apps for your child and allowing him or her use them with moderation.

There’s no shortage of educational apps available in the Google Play Store, and for this post, we’ve lined some of the best apps for 3-to-6-year-olds.

Alphabet Car: Learn ABC’s

What it is:

Alphabet Car is a fun tool designed to aid children who are just starting to learn words. Your little one will discover new words by means of playing and engagement.

Why we like it:

  • The app comes with a bold and colorful interface that’s guaranteed to capture the attention of young children.
  • Alphabet Car teaches kids the basics of letters and then gently moves on to words and implicitly spelling.
  • Gameplay is easy enough to master. You drive a bus and as you roll along, big blocks of letters will appear on the road. Aim the bus towards a letter to make a word and hear the letter pronounced. When you gather enough letters for a word, kids will hear the word pronounced.
  • The game uses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles, and strengthens hand-eye coordination in the process.

Install Alphabet Car: Learn ABC’s

Kids Connect the Dots

What it is:

An interactive educational game which enables children to develop their imagination, but also learn how to pronounce numbers and letters.

Why we like it:

  • Children simply have to tap a series of dots to outline a mystery animal or object. What could it be?
  • Kids will be filled with wonder as they complete a drawing and see the animal or object “come to life”.
  • The game teaches young children how to count, as they will have the tap the numbers up to a target number.
  • As the player taps, letters of the alphabet, as well as numbers are articulated, so children can get more familiar with the correct pronunciation.

Install Kids Connect the Dots

Dr. Panda’s Swimming Pool

What it is:

An interactive game which aims to teach younger children how to solve problems and develop their critical learning skills.

Why we like it:

  • Dr. Panda’s Swimming Pool teaches the basics of problem-solving to kids.
  • It features five animals the child needs to take care of, while also enjoying a day at the virtual pool.
  • Kids will be delighted to uncover hidden treasures, as they advance in the game.
  • A great adventure  for kids that features no in-game advertisements and no in-app purchases (although it’s not free, it costs $1.99).

Install Dr. Panda’s Swimming Pool

Kids Numbers and Math

What it is:

A simple app which teaches your child to do basic math calculations, even before he or she starts going to school.

Why we like it:

  • Kids Numbers and Math is an intuitive game for preschoolers that makes learning numbers and basic math fun.
  • Children play the activities (solve math problems) and earn puzzle pieces for the big “Bug Collection Puzzles”.
  • There’s a free version that teaches the numbers 1-20 via a variety of exercises including counting, adding, subtracting and comparing numbers, but if you want more the paid version offers more customization.

Install Kids Numbers and Math

Todo Math

What it is:

With Todo Math doing number operations is no longer boring. Not when you count the 700+ fun activities included.

Why we like it:

  • The app teaches kids mathematical reasoning including pattern recognition, math memory matrices and numerical ordering using fun and colorful games.
  • Features an introduction to basic geometry which explains shape recognition, identification, and tracing.
  • By using Todo Math, children also get to learn about time and money. This section covers days and weeks, telling time, and understanding coins.

Install Todo Math

Memory & Attention

What it is:

A game which aims to teach young children how to focus and pay attention, while boosting their visual memory.

Why we like it:

  • The app includes 4 mini-games to aid with the development of visual memory and 3 mini-games for training attention and concentration.
  • The games were created by a professional child psychologist and are inspired by her experience with working with children in preschool and elementary school.
  • The app is recommended to all children, but even more to those suffering from ADHD/ADHS.
  • Each game has up to four levels of difficulty, for children who love a challenge.

Install Memory & Attention

Lightbot

What it is:

Coding is an essential skill these days and Lightbot is an app that teaches basic coding to children.

Why we like it:

  • Because it’s a clever app that gets kids to program by solving puzzles in a video game.
  • Lightbot introduces the basic coding concepts like instruction sequencing, procedures, and loops.
  • The app features 20 interactive levels during which you can learn plenty, although the full version comes with an additional 30 levels.

Install Lightbot

Toca Mini

What it is:

An app which challenges kids to get creative and bring to life a character or avatar from their own imagination.

Why we like it:

  • While math and language are important, developing the child’s creative spirit should also be a priority. Toca Mini is just the app for that, as it allows kids to design their own scary monsters of fantasy animals.
  • Children can customize their new friend by adding colors, stripes, sleeves and playing with facial components like eyes, mouths, noses or eyebrows! Users can take advantage of stamps to create patterns, hair or clothes.
  • The creations make funny sounds and gestures as the child brings them forth into existence.

Install Toca Mini

Astronomy for Kids

What it is:

A great app for children who have started to wonder about the stars and universe and want to learn more about the secrets of the cosmos.

Why we like it:

  • The app teaches kids about the solar system through a series of astronomical games.
  • Children also get to listen to astronomical facts and watch educational movies about space.
  • A few short quizzes are available for those who want to test their knowledge.

Install Astronomy for Kids

Has your child tried any of these educational apps before? If not, you might want to download them for him or her.

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16
Mar

Fed up with GPU prices? Crypto-rig builder says gamers must suck it up and mine


One of Easy Crypto Hunter’s six-card, 1080Ti mining rigs.

At a recent cryptocurrency investor show, one mining rig builder told Digital Trends he thinks the best way for gamers to offset the inflated cost of graphics cards is to mine cryptocurrency in their spare time. By his reckoning, most cards can pay for themselves in just over a year.

Although the peak value of many cryptocurrencies may be months behind us at this point, the mining boom that was born off of the back of it shows no sign of abating. In turn, graphics card prices remain ridiculously inflated. Even obsolete cards are selling for more than double their launch prices, as availability plagues gamers and miners alike.

While miners look to make a profit on their expensive investment, gamers just want to have fun. That’s not the tack they should be taking according to Easy Crypto Hunter‘s founder and Managing Director, Josh Riddett. During a sit down with Digital Trends at the London Crypto Investor show, he suggested gamers should be mining, too.

“I totally feel for them, I get it. I am an avid gamer myself,” he said when asked how he felt about the impact businesses like his were having on graphics card pricing and gamer upgrade limitations.

EasyCryptoHunter/Instagram

“I’ve spent a lot of my life gaming, I love it. I’ve made a lot of great friends in the online world. The reality of it is [though], no one rides horses when they’ve got cars,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to move with the times. At the end of the day, I appreciate that a graphics card will now cost you twice what it did before, I get that and it sucks, but it can also pay for itself in a year. So it’s kind of swings and roundabouts. It’s very easy to leave your computer mining overnight when you’re not using it, and effectively the graphics card will pay for itself.”

Riddet’s four-month-old business does deal exclusively in GTX 1080Ti graphics cards, and purchases in bulk from both distributors and manufacturers. That’s not a card that many gamers would have been buying, in any case, because of its high MSRP. However, there is a trickle-down element to that. If other miners and gamers can’t buy those cards, they’ll buy the next ones down the list, and the mid-range has already been decimated by miners building more energy-efficient rigs.

If gamers were willing to mine, however,  Riddet thinks they’d easily offset the cost of the card. “[Graphics cards] are harder to get [and] three years ago the prices were cheaper,” he admitted, “but three years ago the card couldn’t pay for itself. Now it can. It’s more money up front, but I’d argue less money out of your pocket in the long run.”

Riddet’s take seems a bit self-serving, but also offers some insight into the world of cryptocurrency hardware. His perspective makes it clear the companies building crypto-mining rigs still enjoy more than enough profit, despite the fact Bitcoin’s price is at roughly half its peak value. Gamers may not like his advice — after all, most don’t want to hassle with mining a cryptocurrency. If AMD and Nvidia can’t find a way to build and distribute cards at more reasonable prices, though, gamers may not have a choice.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Nvidia speaks out against rising price of GPUs due to cryptocurrency mining
  • AMD wants to make it easier for you to buy its GPUs
  • How to mine Bitcoin
  • Yep, mining for cryptocurrency can now heat your home
  • Digital coin miners purchased more than 3 million graphics cards in 2017


16
Mar

Intel CEO reveals hardware plans for addressing Meltdown, Spectre exploits


Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said on Thursday, March 15 that the first processors to see hardware changes that address the Meltdown and Spectre flaws will be the company’s next-generation “Cascade Lake” Xeon Scalable chips for the server market, and eighth-generation Core processors shipping to the mainstream market in the second half of 2018. 

“We have redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning that will protect against both Variants 2 and 3,” Krzanich said. “Think of this partitioning as additional ‘protective walls’ between applications and user privilege levels to create an obstacle for bad actors.” 

As previously reported, Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754), Spectre Variant 1 (CVE-2017-5753) and Spectre Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715) are three exploits presented in January by Google Project Zero, Cybrus Technology, and Graz University of Technology. They take advantage of how modern processors “think ahead” while computing multiple instructions using a technique called speculative execution. 

More specifically, processors “predict” the outcome of their tasks based on information stored in memory. This method speeds up the overall computing process but leaves all that unsecured data wide open for the picking as seen with the Meltdown and Spectre exploits. Since their public disclosure in January, processor manufacturers including Intel and Qualcomm have scrambled to fix the glaring hardware-based security issues. 

On the Intel front, the company released an initial batch of updates but hit the brakes when customers began experiencing problems. After regrouping and ironing out the kinks, a second wave of updates arrived to plug the security holes without issues. According to Krzanich, 100 percent of the processors released over the last five years are now protected against Meltdown and Spectre exploits as long as customers actually apply the updates. 

“With these updates now available, I encourage everyone to make sure they are always keeping their systems up-to-date. It’s one of the easiest ways to stay protected,” Krzanich said. “As part of this, I want to recognize and express my appreciation to all of the industry partners who worked closely with us to develop and test these updates, and make sure they were ready for production.” 

To date, updates addressing Meltdown and Spectre are available for all Intel processors ranging from its second-generation “Sandy Bridge” CPUs to its recent eighth-generation “Coffee Lake” chips. You can see the generational release of your processor by spotting the number after the hyphen in the processor’s name, such as the “6” in the sixth-generation Intel Core i7-6820HK. Intel is still working on fixes for its first-generation “Nahalem” and “Westmere” CPUs. 

The eighth-generation processors slated to arrive in the second half of 2018 likely stem from Intel’s “Cannon Lake” family based on 10nm process technology. It’s essentially a smaller version of Intel’s seventh-generation processor design, aka Kaby Lake, which began shipping to mobile device manufacturers at the end of 2017. Intel’s ninth-generation “Ice Lake” processors for 2019 will have protections against Meltdown and Spectre exploits as well. 

“Our work is not done,” Krzanich concluded. “This is not a singular event; it is a long-term commitment. One that we take very seriously.” 

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Intel’s 9th-generation ‘Ice Lake’ CPUs will have fixes for Meltdown, Spectre
  • Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 patch will address Spectre Variant 2 CPU flaw
  • Apple protects MacOS Sierra, El Capitan from Meltdown, lists Google bugs
  • HP’s Mike Nash on why new Spectre x360 15 is thicker, much more powerful
  • Nowhere is safe now that AMD has suffered its own Meltdown


16
Mar

Microsoft will pay you up to $250,000 to find Spectre-like flaws


If you know how to test hardware and software and how to identify vulnerabilities in them, then there’s some real money to be made. Some manufacturers and developers will pay tons of cash to anyone who can pick out defects in their products that can lead to system breaches — all it takes is some know-how and a little patience. Microsoft is one such company, and it’s now paying up to $250,000 for identifying vulnerabilities related to Meltdown and Spectre.

In case you’ve forgotten, these two vulnerabilities have been causing quite a stir over the last several months. They impact almost all CPUs in use today to one extent or another, including Intel, AMD, and ARM processors going back a decade or so. Fixing the bugs, which involve “speculative execution” that is used to speed up processing, has caused system crashes, reboots, and poor performance, and Intel in particular has struggled to create a stable solution.

Microsoft has now added those kinds of vulnerabilities to its bug bounty program. Phillip Misner, principal security group manager for Microsoft’s security response center, describes the new bounty:

“Speculative execution is truly a new class of vulnerabilities, and we expect that research is already underway exploring new attack methods. This bounty program is intended as a way to foster that research and the coordinated disclosure of vulnerabilities related to these issues. Tier 1 focuses on new categories of attacks involving speculative execution side channels.”

There are four tiers in the Speculative Execution Bounty Program, as follows:

  • Tier 1: New categories of speculative execution attacks, up to $250,000
  • Tier 2: Azure speculative execution mitigation bypass, up to $200,000
  • Tier 3: Windows speculative execution mitigation bypass, up to $200,000
  • Tier 4: Instance of a known speculative execution vulnerability (such as CVE-2017-5753) in Windows 10 or Microsoft Edge. This vulnerability must enable the disclosure of sensitive information across a trust boundary, up to $25,000

Microsoft will be sharing whatever research is uncovered by the bounty program. This will allow collaboration between all of the involved parties to create solutions to the vulnerabilities and create a more secure environment for users.

If you’re someone who knows how to dig into systems and find flaws, then you’ll want to take a look at Microsoft’s standard terms and conditions for its bug bounty programs. There’s some real money to be made, and so you can gain some financial benefit to go with the good feelings that come with bringing some better security to our computing lives.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Microsoft misses another Edge-related 90-day security disclosure deadline
  • Intel opens bug hunt to all security researchers, offers possible $250K payout
  • Looking back on 5 years of Surface with the product guru who brought it to life
  • Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 patch will address Spectre Variant 2 CPU flaw
  • Five years on, Microsoft’s Surface has made your PC better


16
Mar

Researchers exploit flaws in two browsers installed on MacOS devices


Researchers recently uncovered security flaws in two web browsers for MacOS enabling hackers to gain access to Mac devices. The first flaw reared its head in Safari during the first day of Pwn2Own 2018, giving the hacker full control of the Touch Bar. Meanwhile, Check Point Research stumbled across a nasty bug in Google Chrome granting access to the administrative or any other user account without the need for a password. 

First up, Samuel “5aelo” Gross from Phoenhex targeted Safari during his Pwn2Own hack attempt using a MacOS kernel Elevation of Privileges, meaning he found a way to get permission to use resources only reserved for the lowest level of MacOS that even administrators can’t access. He did this by exploiting a bug in Safari’s Java-based just-in-time (JIT) compiler optimization combined with a flaw in the MacOS platform. 

“He used a combination of a JIT optimization bug in the browser, a macOS logic bug to escape the sandbox, and finally a kernel overwrite to execute code with a kernel extension to successfully exploit Apple Safari,” Zero Day Initiative explains a bit more thoroughly. “He left a message for us on the touchbar once he was complete.” 

Meanwhile, Check Point Research’s discovery in Google Chrome has nothing to do with the Pwn2Own 2018 event. Instead, one of the firm’s security analysts noted “unexpected behavior” while examining the Remote Desktop component of Google’s Chrome browser for MacOS. He noticed that he could sign onto the remote Mac device as a guest user, but jump into another active session, even one used by the administrator, without entering a password. 

As the report explains, typically there is someone logged onto a MacOS device but locked with a password when not in use. In turn, guests don’t actually have an account: They can simply access the Mac device without a password and are typically restricted in some fashion by the administrator. All files created by the guest are stored in a temporary folder and deleted once they log off the device. 

That said, if guests access the Mac remotely using Chrome’s extension, they see a screen displaying the current user’s password entry field and an option to sign on as a guest. After clicking on the guest icon and proceeding to the home screen, the guest will see the current user’s desktop rather than the temporary sandboxed guest account. Meanwhile, the source MacOS device displays the guest account on its screen. 

The company said it reported the Chrome issue to Google on February 15, but the search engine giant believes the Remote Desktop login screen is not “a security boundary.” Regardless, Check Point Research felt the need to go public with the issue given many Mac owners provide guest access to their devices. 

Chrome’s Remote Desktop component is a handy way to troubleshoot a remote relative’s computer or grab files from home. At least two computers need Chrome installed, with one serving as the “source” machine providing an access code to the second machine.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Apple iOS 11.2.2 update offers a fix to the Spectre security vulnerability
  • LG unveils two patents for foldable smartphones
  • Two countries are now investigating Apple over iPhone planned obsolescence
  • Not the dress again — illusion from two identical images confuses the internet
  • Making a Spectacle: Snap may release two new versions of its smartglasses


16
Mar

Apple’s latest touchscreen keyboard patent suggests a squishy, keyless future


Apple has flirted with the idea of putting a touchscreen keyboard on its MacBook lineup for a while now. Most recently, a few patent filings have suggested that the idea could be coming to fruition, and a new filing made public gives us a sneak peek at how such a device could work — and why it could be revolutionary.

This latest patent filing describes a touchscreen keyboard with haptic feedback that actually deforms with each keystroke, so it could feel like an actual keyboard, despite being a glossy touchscreen display. The keyboard would achieve this by embedding an array of haptic actuators beneath the display itself.

A display with embedded haptic feedback would certainly make a new MacBook eye-catching, but there is quite a bit going on here. The patent filing goes on to describe haptic feedback zones arranged in such a way that you would be able to load up different keyboard configurations and still receive accurate haptic feedback.

As these drawings indicate, this isn’t just a touchscreen keyboard. It’s every keyboard, or at least it could be. You could load up an ergonomic layout if you’d prefer, you could move your touchpad to the center of your keyboard, or you could turn the whole thing into a giant play and pause button. For some reason. It doesn’t matter why, the point is: You could do it. And you would still get haptic feedback in all the right places.

Just think about how this could work, the options this could open up for graphic designers, for musicians, for programmers, for anyone who might need more than a typical keyboard could provide. This patent spells out how this custom haptic system could work, but the possible implementations are infinitely more interesting.

As we mentioned, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Apple flirt with this idea. There are more than a few patent filings outlining how a touchscreen or dual-screen MacBook might look, but this patent does something else: It shows us how it could work, and what that could mean for MacBook — and even iOS users. That’s right, there is a version of this touchscreen keyboard fitted to an iPad Pro keyboard case in the patent filing. It could just be an example, or it could be a glimpse at the future of the iPad platform. Now, what remains to be seen is how this touchscreen keyboard will stack up to Microsoft’s long-rumored dual-screen phone.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Apple files patent for a crumb-resistant MacBook keyboard
  • Razer Project Linda Preview
  • Latest Microsoft patent hints at mobile device with hardware laptop mode
  • Google’s idea for radar-based gesture control could change the remote forever
  • Instead of stealing jobs, what if A.I. just tells us how to do them better?


16
Mar

Lyft is testing a subscription service for frequent riders


If you find yourself getting around town using multiple Lyft rides every day, or you use the service to commute to and from work, then how do you like the idea of paying a regular monthly fee for all the rides you take?

Lyft confirmed to The Verge that it’s currently conducting trials on variations of a subscription model to see which might work best for frequent riders.

A message sent to one of the riders in the trial describes an “all-access pass” with “no surprises.” Options currently being tested reportedly offer 30 rides costing anywhere between $199 and $300, and $399 for 60 rides. Any journey that costs up to $15 is included in the subscription, but it’s not known what riders are paying if the fare exceeds that amount.

A Lyft spokesperson told The Verge on Thursday, March 15 that it has been trying out its “All-Access Plan” for the past few months with select riders, but it hasn’t yet made a final decision on whether to proceed with the model.

The trial is aimed at finding a fee/ride combination that suits both the rider and the company, but if a suitable balance can’t be struck, Lyft could abandon the plan altogether and consider developing alternative payment models instead.

Lyft, like its main rival Uber, is constantly looking for ways to improve and expand its service. The San Francisco-based service is investing heavily in driverless-car technology, partnering with a large number of companies over the last few years to help advance its plans. Some of its autonomous cars are already motoring along the streets of American cities, albeit as part of a trial service and with an engineer in the driver’s seat to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Away from cars, the company is also experimenting with other modes of transport. In Baltimore, for example, it recently invested $270,000 in the city’s bike-sharing scheme as part of a three-year deal that puts its branding onto five of the city’s busiest bike-sharing stations that will also act as convenient pick-up and drop-off points for Lyft riders. The company hopes the setup will help feed more riders into its car-based service as it seeks to build what the company calls a “multimodal transportation future.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Lyft follows Uber into bike sharing, beginning in Baltimore
  • Your monthly Amazon Prime service is going to cost you more than before
  • Bikesharing has existed for a century, but tech is making it massive
  • Uber is getting into the bike-sharing game
  • How SiriusXM is dominating in the Spotify era


16
Mar

Bali will switch off the island’s internet services for the whole of Saturday


It’s news that will likely cause smartphone addicts to break into a cold sweat, but as long as you steer clear of Bali this weekend, you’ll be just fine.

The Indonesian island is set to turn off mobile internet services for the whole of Saturday to mark the sacred Hindu holiday of Nyepi.

The local communications ministry told news outlets on the island that phone companies have agreed to comply with the request for Bali’s first-ever internet shutdown.

Nyepi marks the new year according to the ancient Balinese calendar and is known as the Day of Silence. As part of the celebrations, Bali’s largely Hindu population is encouraged to take some time for self-reflection. The idea was suggested by Balinese civil and religious groups, according to the Guardian, and was accepted after the issue was discussed by the central government in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.

“Many Hindu people are addicted to gadgets,” Hinduism Society head Gusti Ngurah Sudiana told the BBC. “I hope during Nyepi they can be introspective.”

During the pause for reflection, some people may end up contemplating how much time they spend on social media, how few books they tend to read nowadays, and if there might be a way to get back online once their period of introspection is over.

If the internet’s temporary disappearance becomes just too much for Bali’s residents or the thousands of tourists visiting the island, they can make a beeline for the nearest hotel where Wi-Fi connections will still be available, allowing them to fire up their apps and browse the web in the usual way. Home-based internet set-ups will also remain available should people still want to hop online to see what they’re missing.

Aware that a blanket internet shutdown could cause problems, the authorities are making sure that connections remain available for important services, among them the security forces, medical facilities, and disaster agencies.

Made Pastika, the governor of Bali, quipped that if people stop using the internet for the duration of a day, “people will not die.” adding that he intends to power down his own tech on Saturday for a spot of quiet reflection.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Just say the word to get some help from Alexa or Google Home this holiday season
  • Obama’s cybersecurity commissioner offers advice on how to keep safe when shopping online
  • For deals or just the latest designs, these are the best shopping apps out there
  • The best gifts for skiers
  • Santa Claus is coming to town: Get ready with these Christmas apps


16
Mar

Nowhere is safe now that AMD has suffered its own Meltdown


Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

(in)Secure is a weekly column that dives into the rapidly escalating topic of cyber security.

On Tuesday, March 13, security firm CTS Labs announced the discovery of 13 flaws in AMD’s Ryzen and Epyc processors. The issues span four classes of vulnerabilities that include several major issues, such as a hardware backdoor into Ryzen’s chipset, and flaws that can completely compromise AMD’s Secure Processor, a chip that’s supposed to act as a “secure world” where sensitive tasks can be kept out of malware’s reach.

The lack of agreement means there’s no way to know when the next flaw will be exposed, who it will come from, or how it will be reported.

This revelation comes just months after the reveal of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that impacted chips from AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, and others. AMD, whose chips were compromised by some Spectre flaws, came out of the fiasco relatively unscathed. Enthusiasts focused their anger on Intel. Though a handful of class-action lawsuits were filed against AMD, they’re nothing compared to the hoard of lawyers set against Intel. Compared to Intel, AMD seemed the smart, safe choice.

That made Tuesday’s announcement of flaws in AMD hardware even more explosive. Twitter-storms erupted as security researchers and PC enthusiasts argued over the validity of the findings. Still, the information provided by CTS Labs was independently verified by another firm, Trail of Bits, founded in 2012. The severity of the issues can be argued, but they do exist, and they compromise what some PC users had come to view as the last safe harbor.

The wild west of disclosure

The content of CTS Labs’ research would’ve generated headlines in any event, but the reveal’s punch was amplified by its surprise. AMD was apparently given less than 24 hours to response before CTS Labs went public, and CTS Labs has not gone public with all technical details, instead choosing to share them only with AMD, Microsoft, HP, Dell, and several other large companies.

Many security researchers cried foul. Most flaws are disclosed to companies earlier, alongside a timeframe to respond. Meltdown and Spectre, for instance, was disclosed to Intel, AMD, and ARM on June 1 of 2017 by Google’s Project Zero team. An initial 90-day window to fix the problems was later extended to 180 days, but ended ahead of schedule when The Register published its initial story on Intel’s processor flaw. CTS Labs’ decision not to offer prior disclosure has caused speculation that it had another, more malicious motive.

CTS Labs defended itself in a letter from Ilia Luk-Zilberman, the company’s CTO, published on the AMDflaws.com website. Luk-Zilberman takes issue with concept of prior disclosure, saying “it’s up to the vendor if it wants to alert the customers that there is a problem.” That’s why you rarely hear of a security flaw until months after it was uncovered.

Worse, says Luk-Zilberman, it forces a game of brinkmanship between the researcher and the company. The company might not respond. If that happens, the researcher faces a grim choice; keep quiet and hope no one else finds the flaw, or go public with the details of a flaw that has no available patch. Cooperation is the goal, but the stakes for both researcher and company encourage defensiveness. The question of what’s proper, professional, and ethical often collapses into petty tribalism.

Where’s the bottom?

The industry standard for disclosing a flaw doesn’t exist and, in its absence, chaos reigns. Even those who believe in disclosure don’t agree on details, such as how long a company should be given to respond. The lack of agreement means there’s no way to know when the next major flaw will be exposed, who it will come from, or how it will be reported.

It’s like strapping on a life vest as a ship sinks into frigid waters. Sure, the vest is a good idea, but it’s not enough to save you anymore.

Cyber security is a mess, and it’s a mess that’s taken its toll on each of us. While alarming, the new flaws in AMD processors — like Meltdown, Spectre, Heartbleed, and so many others before — will be soon be forgotten. They must be forgotten.

After all, what other choice do we have? Computers and smartphones have become mandatory for participation in modern society. Even those who don’t own them must use services that rely on them.

Every piece of software and hardware we use is, apparently, riddled with critical flaws. Even so, unless you decide to abandon society and build a cabin in the woods, you must use them.

Normally, I’d like this column to end on practical advice. Use strong passwords. Don’t click on links that promise free iPads. That sort of thing. Such advice remains true, but it feels like strapping on a life vest as a ship sinks in frigid arctic waters. Sure. The life vest is a good idea. You’re safer with it than without — but it’s not enough to save you anymore.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Did I do that? Intel is going to make a killing fixing its own Meltdown
  • Intel CEO reveals hardware plans for addressing Meltdown, Spectre exploits
  • Updates addressing Meltdown security issue are causing a number of PC reboots
  • New ‘Prime’ Meltdown, Spectre exploits outlined by Nvidia, Princeton University
  • Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 patch will address Spectre Variant 2 CPU flaw


16
Mar

See how the Galaxy S9 Plus handles low-light against the competition


The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus take great photos in low-light environments thanks to the variable aperture system on the main rear lens. We’ve shown off how the camera performs in our Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus reviews, but now’s the time to pit it against several flagship smartphones to find the best low-light snapper.

In this test, we used the Galaxy S9 Plus, the Google Pixel 2 XL, the Apple iPhone X, the HTC U11, the LG V30 (with a photo from the new V30S ThinQ), and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. We took the photos as the average person would — simply tapping on a subject in the viewfinder and letting the camera do the rest. The subject matter? The streets of Barcelona at night.  Here’s how the phones performed.

Correos Y Telegrafos

Google Pixel 2 XL

LG V30

iPhone X

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

HTC U11

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Choosing a winner for this photo is tough, and a lot of it may come down to personal preference. It’s easier to eliminate the poorer photos first, which come from the LG V30, the HTC U11, and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro from worst to best. The V30 photo has the worst detail and is very fuzzy, and the latter two are the darkest photos on the list (though with decent detail and solid color accuracy).

Our favorite photos come from the Galaxy S9 Plus, the iPhone X, and surprisingly, the LG V30S ThinQ. The V30S ThinQ’s Bright Mode automatically kicked in due to the poor lighting, and it easily is the most detailed photograph. It captures the mood very well, though we think it could do a better job with color accuracy.

LG V30S ThinQ

Next up is the Galaxy S9 Plus, which has solid detail, but impresses us more with its excellent noise reduction. Take a look at the sky and compare it with the rest of the photographs, and it’s easy to see how the S9 Plus’ photo feels more realistic. The colors also feel natural, though perhaps a little too on the yellow side.

The iPhone X took the photo with the best color accuracy, and it’s slightly more detailed than the S9 Plus. There’s a lot of noise, though, which is largely why we gave the S9 Plus the edge.

The Galaxy S9 Plus’
excellent noise
reduction is
impressive.

That leaves the Pixel 2 XL, which sits somewhere in the middle between the worst photos and the best. It’s a great photo, but it looks too sharpened, and we feel as though it doesn’t capture any particular mood about the setting at all. It has great detail, but the V30S ThinQ beats it, and we love the colors in the S9 Plus and iPhone X photos more.

Overall, these are great photographs, but the S9 Plus, iPhone X, and V30S ThinQ stand out the most. We’re giving the top pick to the S9 Plus for its impressive noise reduction, but the iPhone X is a close second for color accuracy. We love the detail on the V30S ThinQ, but it looks a little greenish, as though someone added an Instagram filter over it.

Arches at the Barcelona Cathedral

Google Pixel 2 XL

LG V30

iPhone X

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

HTC U11

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The arches of the Barcelona Cathedral are the only lit up part of the building late at night. It’s a great way to test which phones can bring out the rest of the building, while not overexposing the archway.

We’re happy with all these photos, but since we’re picking winners we’d place the LG V30 and the HTC U11 at the bottom of the list. The U11 lights up the rest of the cathedral well, but the color is a little bland, and the archway is overexposed. The V30 has great detail (we didn’t test Bright Mode here), but the overall photo has a greenish tint. The areas outside of the arches are also too dark.

The Pixel 2 XL arguably has the best exposed photo with good detail on the cathedral and great lighting on the archway.

Our favorites this time are from the Galaxy S9 Plus, the iPhone X, the Pixel 2 XL, and the Mate 10 Pro. The Galaxy S9 Plus easily takes the win for best color accuracy, excellent noise reduction, and it manages to light up the rest of the cathedral.

The iPhone X is our second favorite, but it’s a little too warm for our tastes. It does have the best detail, but the statues at the bottom of the arches are a little overexposed.

The Pixel 2 XL arguably has the best exposed photo. You can see plenty of detail on the cathedral, while also maintaining great lighting on the archway. Its detail is second to the iPhone, but it loses points for color accuracy with its cooler tones.

The Mate 10 Pro impressed us here with beautiful colors and solid detail, but the areas outside of the arches are hardly visible.

We’re giving the S9 Plus the win, with the iPhone X taking second place again. The Pixel 2 XL gets third place.

Barcelona Cathedral

Google Pixel 2 XL

LG V30

iPhone X

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

HTC U11

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

All of these phones do a great job of capturing the old Barcelona Cathedral, which has been around since the 1300s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our favorites again are the Galaxy S9 Plus, the Pixel 2 XL, and the iPhone X.

The S9 has excellent lighting overall, with a nice warm color that carries the mood of the Gothic Quarter, as well as solid detail. This photo has the best sky, thanks to very little noise.

Unsurprisingly, yet
again, our favorites
are the Galaxy S9
Plus, the Pixel 2 XL,
and the iPhone X.

The Pixel 2 XL is noticeably grainier, but it comes second because it also has great lighting all around. You can see the turrets of the cathedral far more than the rest of the photos (except the S9). It also has the least overexposed arches.

The iPhone X may have some of the best detail, but it’s a little too dark for our tastes. It does have great warm tones just like the S9 Plus, though.

The HTC U11 does a solid job here as well, though with a slightly yellow tone, but good detail. We’re not fans of the V30 and the Mate 10 Pro’s photos, as they both offer poorer detail than the rest, with muted and bland colors.

The S9 Plus gets the win here, followed by the Pixel 2 Xl, and the iPhone X.

Las Arenas

Google Pixel 2 XL

LG V30

iPhone X

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

We’re going to have to sit the HTC U11 out on this one, as we didn’t have the phone on hand for this comparison.

The easiest phone to eliminate here is the LG V30. Details are a little blurry, and overall the photo has an unusual green tint. Next comes the Galaxy S9 Plus. It doesn’t do as well with detail compared to the other phones, though we do like the colors it produced. It’s not a bad photo at all.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro and the Pixel 2 XL tie for second place. The color in the Mate 10 Pro photo looks much more natural than the cooler tones on the Pixel 2 XL photo, but both are well-detailed, and the Pixel wins points for being one of the only phones to not overexpose the A symbol on the left side on the tower.

That means our favorite photo comes from the iPhone X. It offers the strongest detail, but it also has the best color accuracy. The photo looks very natural, and the color of the sky adds more depth. At the end of the day, we’d be happy sharing any of these photos, but we’re nitpicking and the iPhone X gets the win.

Food

Google Pixel 2 XL

LG V30

iPhone X

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

HTC U11

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Right off the bat we have to note that the HTC U11 and the LG V30’s photos aren’t the same as the rest — the food at El Salon is so good, it made us forget to match up our photos. We can still comment about coloring and detail here, though. The LG V30 does a great job with the warm color and solid detail, but the U11 goes in the opposite direction for a colder color. It’s a good photo, but the lighting was nothing like the U11’s photo. It’s also not as sharp as the V30 photo.

The poorest photo of the lot comes from the Mate 10 Pro. It’s not nearly as detailed as the rest of the cameras, and the colors are over-saturated. The iPhone X photo is well-detailed, but like the U11, it surprisingly goes for a cooler tone — which is not representative of the warmer colors at the restaurant.

That leaves us with our two favorite photos, the Galaxy S9 Plus and the Pixel 2 XL. The latter phone’s photo is also cool instead of warm, but the level of detail is stunning. We’d love this photo even more if the camera could just get the colors right. The S9 Plus, however, manages to maintain a lot of detail, while capturing colors well. It’s the photo we’d share of the lot. The S9 gets the win again.

There seems to be a running theme here — the Galaxy S9 Plus has come out on top for almost all of these comparisons.

There seems to be a running theme here — the Galaxy S9 Plus has come out on top for almost all of these comparisons. That doesn’t mean the photos from the other cameras are bad; they’re all incredibly good, and it’s impressive how far smartphone camera technology has advanced. We should note, though, that the Galaxy S9 Plus is our pick for the best low-light camera. We still think certain phones like the Pixel 2 XL outperform it in daylight and other scenarios, such as Portrait Mode.

Not satisfied with our results? That’s OK. Photography is subjective, and if you show two people two photos from different cameras, they may not like the same photo. Let us know what you think of the S9’s camera in low-light in the comments below.

David Cogen, a regular contributor here at Digital Trends, runs TheUnlockr.com, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him over at Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.

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