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Microsoft

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: the Best New Features (theverge.com) 36

A year after the release of Windows 10, Microsoft is gearing up for Anniversary Update, the first major update to the company's desktop operating system. Ahead of the public release of Anniversary Update on August 2, Microsoft provided media outlets with the Anniversary Update, and their first impressions and reviews are out. The Verge has listed the big changes Windows 10 Anniversary ships with. From the article: Windows Ink: Windows Ink is without a doubt the best part of the Anniversary Update. It's essentially a central location to find built-in or third-party apps that work with your stylus. You can use the new sticky notes to note down reminders, and they'll even transform into true reminders as Cortana understands what you write.
Microsoft Edge extensions: If you're a fan of Chrome extensions, then you'll be glad to hear that they're heading to Microsoft's Edge browser. The Anniversary Update brings support for extensions, and it's now up to third-party developers to fill the Windows Store with their add-ons.
Cortana improvements: Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, debuted on Windows 10 last year, and the software maker is bringing it to the lock screen with the Anniversary Update. You'll be able to ask it to make a note, play music, set a reminder, and lots more without ever logging in. Cortana is also getting a little more intelligent, with the ability to schedule appointments in Outlook or options to send friends a document you were working on a week ago.
Dark theme and UI tweaks: You can switch on what I call even darker mode in settings, and it will switch built-in apps that typically use a white background over to black.
Other improvements include things like Windows 10's ability to set your time zone automatically, and opening up of Windows Hello, the biometric feature to apps and websites. Additionally, the Xbox One is getting Windows apps. The Verge adds, "It feels like a promise that was made years ago, but it's finally coming true with the Anniversary Update. As Windows 10 now powers the Xbox One, Microsoft will start rolling out an update to its console to provide support for Cortana on Xbox One and the new universal apps." Microsoft is also adding Bash, the Linux command line to Windows with the new update. It's an optional feature and users will need to enable it to use it. Users will also be able to "project to PC," a feature that will allow one to easily find a PC to project to from a phone or another PC. There's also a new Skype app, and syncing of notifications between PC and phone is getting better.
Going by the reviews, it appears Windows 10 Anniversary Update is substantially more stable, and has interesting new features. You can read the first impressions of it on ZDNet, and review on PCWorld.
China

China Bans Internet News Reporting As Media Crackdown Widens (bloomberg.com) 25

Earlier this month we learned that China had banned the use of social media as a news source. The local government feared that if news outlets were to report using signals coming from social media, there was a chance that fake, non-credible, and rumors would slip through the filter. It was absurd, to say the least, considering the government itself has been reportedly caught of posting a copious amount of misleading information on domestic social media platforms. In the latest wrinkle to the whole situation, the world's largest nation is now banning internet news reporting. Long time reader schwit1 shares a Bloomberg report on the same: China's top internet regulator ordered major online companies including Sina Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to stop original news reporting, the latest effort by the government to tighten its grip over the country's web and information industries. The Cyberspace Administration of China imposed the ban on several major news portals, including Sohu.com Inc. and NetEase Inc., Chinese media reported in identically worded articles citing an unidentified official from the agency's Beijing office. The companies have "seriously violated" internet regulations by carrying plenty of news content obtained through original reporting, causing "huge negative effects," according to a report that appeared in The Paper on Sunday. The agency instructed the operators of mobile and online news services to dismantle "current-affairs news" operations on Friday, after earlier calling a halt to such activity at Tencent, according to people familiar with the situation. Like its peers, Asia's largest internet company had developed a news operation and grown its team. Henceforth, they and other services can only carry reports provided by government-controlled print or online media, the people said, asking not to be identified because the issue is politically sensitive.
Microsoft

Microsoft Cuts Xbox One Price To $249 - Would You Buy or Recommend One? (theverge.com) 76

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge: Microsoft is cutting the price of its Xbox One console to $249. The new price marks the third price cut in less than two months, ahead of the new Xbox One S launch on August 2nd. 500GB versions of the Xbox One are now $249, and this includes bundles with games like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Quantum Break, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Rare Replay. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon will be selling Microsoft's Xbox One console at the new $249 price point immediately, and the software giant says the consoles will be available at $249 "while supplies last." Microsoft's aggressive Xbox One pricing follows a sales gap between its console and Sony's PlayStation 4. Sony has sold more than 40 million PS4s, but it's not clear exactly how many Xbox Ones have been sold as Microsoft hasn't provided sales figures for quite some time. EA previously revealed Microsoft had sold 19 million Xbox One consoles back in January.
Microsoft

Microsoft Can't Shield User Data From Government, Says Government (bloomberg.com) 84

Microsoft is now arguing in court that their customers have a right to know when the government is reading their e-mail. But "The U.S. said federal law allows it to obtain electronic communications without a warrant or without disclosure of a specific warrant if it would endanger an individual or an investigation," according to Bloomberg. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The software giant's lawsuit alleging that customers have a constitutional right to know if the government has searched or seized their property should be thrown out, the government said in a court filing... The U.S. says there's no legal basis for the government to be required to tell Microsoft customers when it intercepts their e-mail... The Justice Department's reply Friday underscores the government's willingness to fight back against tech companies it sees obstructing national security and law enforcement investigations...

Secrecy orders on government warrants for access to private e-mail accounts generally prohibit Microsoft from telling customers about the requests for lengthy or even unlimited periods, the company said when it sued. At the time, federal courts had issued almost 2,600 secrecy orders to Microsoft alone, and more than two-thirds had no fixed end date, cases the company can never tell customers about, even after an investigation is completed.

Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 126

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."
Biotech

Kurzweil Argues Technology Improves The World, Compares DNA to Code (geekwire.com) 143

Futurist Ray Kurzweil told a Seattle conference specific ways in which technology is already improving our lives. For example, while there's a general perception that the world's getting worse, "What's actually happening is our information about what's wrong in the world is getting better. A century ago, there would be a battle that wiped out the next village, you'd never even hear about it." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes two of Kurzweil's other interesting insights: "We're only crowded because we've crowded ourselves into cities. Try taking a train trip across the United States, or Europe or Asia or anywhere in the world. Ninety-nine percent of the land is not used... we don't want to use it because you don't want to be out in the boondocks if you don't have people to work and play with. That's already changing now that we have some level of virtual communication..."

[And on the potential of human genomics] "It's not just collecting what is basically the object code of life that is expanding exponentially. Our ability to understand it, to reverse-engineer it, to simulate it, and most importantly to reprogram this outdated software is also expanding exponentially. Genes are software programs. It's not a metaphor. They are sequences of data. But they evolved many years ago, many tens of thousands of years ago..."

Medicine

Can Computerized Brain Training Prevent Dementia? (newyorker.com) 35

"Researchers believe they have found a link between speed-of-processing training and a reduction in cognitive decline among the elderly," reports the New Yorker. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article about how this new long-term study actually contradicts much of the previous science. In October of 2014 a group of more than seventy academics published what they called a consensus statement, asserting that playing brain games had been shown to improve little more than the ability to play brain games... no brain game, nor any drug, dietary supplement, or lifestyle intervention, had ever been shown in a large, randomized trial to prevent dementia...until today, when surprising new results were announced at the Alzheimerâ(TM)s Association annual meeting, in Toronto.
Nearly 3,000 participants with an average age of 73.6 participated in the study, with some receiving "speed of processing" training -- and some later receiving four hours of additional training. "The researchers calculated those who completed at least some of these booster sessions were 48% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia after ten years than their peers in the control group." Signatories of the 2014 consensus statement panning brain games are now calling these new results "remarkable" and "spectacular".
United States

New Illinois Law Limits Police Use Of Cellphone-Tracking Stingray (go.com) 27

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from ABC News: A new Illinois law limits how police can use devices that cast a wide net in gathering cellphone data... [Stingray] gathers phone-usage data on targets of criminal investigations, but it also gathers data on other cellphones -- hundreds or even thousands of them -- in the area. The new law requires police to delete the phone information of anyone who wasn't an investigation target within 24 hours. It also prohibits police from accessing data for use in an investigation not authorized by a judge.

A dozen other states have adopted such regulations, and Congress is considering legislation that would strengthen federal guidelines already in place... Privacy advocates worry that without limits on how much data can be gathered or how long it can be stored, law enforcement could use the technology to build databases that track the behavior and movement of people who are not part of criminal investigations.

Earlier this month a U.S. judge threw out evidence gathered with Stingray for the first time, saying that without a search warrant, "the government may not turn a citizen's cell phone into a tracking device." The ACLU has identified 66 agencies in 24 states using Stingray technology, "but because many agencies continue to shroud their purchase and use of stingrays in secrecy, this map dramatically underrepresents the actual use of stingrays by law enforcement agencies nationwide."
Privacy

Glassdoor Exposes 600,000 Email Addresses (siliconbeat.com) 87

A web site where users anonymously review their employer has exposed the e-mail addresses -- and in some cases the names -- of hundreds of thousands of users. An anonymous reader quotes an article from Silicon Beat: On Friday, the company sent out an email announcing that it had changed its terms of service. Instead of blindly copying email recipients on the message, the company pasted their addresses in the clear. Each message recipient was able to see the email addresses of 999 other Glassdoor users...

Ultimately, the messages exposed the addresses of more than 2 percent of the company's users... Last month, the company said it had some 30 million monthly active users, meaning that more than 600,000 were affected by the exposure... Although the company didnâ(TM)t directly disclose the names of its users, many of their names could be intuited from their email addresses. Some appeared to be in the format of "first name.last name" or "first initial plus last name."

A Glassdoor spokesperson said "We are extremely sorry for this error. We take the privacy of our users very seriously and we know this is not what is expected of us. It certainly isn't how we intend to operate."
Democrats

Clinton Campaign: Russia Leaked Emails to Help Trump (washingtonpost.com) 527

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Washington Post: A top official with Hillary Clinton's campaign on Sunday accused the Russian government of orchestrating the release of damaging Democratic Party records in order to help the campaign of Republican Donald Trump -- and some cyber security experts in the U.S. and overseas agree. The extraordinary charge came as some national security officials have been growing increasingly concerned about possible efforts by Russia to meddle in the election, according to several individuals familiar with the situation.

Late last week, hours before the records were released by the website Wikileaks, the White House convened a high-level security meeting to discuss reports that Russia had hacked into systems at the Democratic National Committee... Officials from various intelligence and defense agencies, including the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, attended the White House meeting Thursday, on the eve of the email release.

Clinton's campaign manager told ABC News "some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump." Donald Trump's son later responded, "They'll say anything to be able to win this."
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.7 Officially Released (iu.edu) 55

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The Linux 4.7 kernel made its official debut today with Linus Torvalds announcing, "after a slight delay due to my travels, I'm back, and 4.7 is out. Despite it being two weeks since rc7, the final patch wasn't all that big, and much of it is trivial one- and few-liners." Linux 4.7 ships with open-source AMD Polaris (RX 480) support, Intel Kabylake graphics improvements, new ARM platform/board support, Xbox One Elite Controller support, and a variety of other new features.
Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: The biggest new features of Linux kernel 4.7 are support for the recently announced Radeon RX 480 GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) from AMD, which, of course, has been implemented directly into the AMDGPU video driver, a brand-new security module, called LoadPin, that makes sure the modules loaded by the kernel all originate from the same file system, and support for generating virtual USB Device Controllers in USB/IP. Furthermore, Linux kernel 4.7 is the first one to ensure the production-ready status of the sync_file fencing mechanism used in the Android mobile operating system, allow Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) programs to attach to tracepoints, as well as to introduce the long-anticipated "schedutil" frequency governor to the cpufreq dynamic frequency scaling subsystem, which promises to be faster and more accurate than existing ones.
Linus's announcement includes the shortlog, calling this release "fairly calm," though "There's a couple of network drivers that got a bit more loving."
United Kingdom

Yahoo Ordered to Show How It Recovered 'Deleted' Emails (pcmag.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Just what kind of email retentions powers does Yahoo have? According to a policy guide from the company, Yahoo cannot recover emails that have been deleted from a user's account -- simple as that. If the email is in a user's account, it's fair game, and Yahoo can even give law enforcement the IP address of whatever computer is being used to send said email.

Or, at least, that's what Yahoo has said. A magistrate judge from the Northern District of California has ordered Yahoo to produce documents, as well as a witness for deposition, related to the company's ability to recover seemingly deleted emails in a UK drug case... a UK defendant was convicted -- and is currently serving an extra 20-year prison sentence -- as part of a conspiracy to import drugs into the United Kingdom. He's currently appealing the conviction, in part because the means by which Yahoo recovered the emails in question allegedly violate British law.

The drug smugglers apparently communicated by creating a draft of an email, which was then available to others who logged into that same account.
Programming

Programming Language Gurus Converge on 'Curry On' Conference (curry-on.org) 70

Videos are now online from this week's Curry On conference, which incuded talks by programming pioneers Larry Wall and Matthias Felleisen, as well as speakers from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle. Dave Herman from Mozilla Research also talked about building an open source research lab, while Larry Wall's keynote was titled "It's the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine."

Billing itself as a non-profit conference about programming languages and emerging computer-industry challenges, this year's installment included talks about Java, Rust, Scala, Perl, Racket, Clojure, Rascal, Go and Oden. Held in a different European city each year, the annual conference hopes to provoke an open conversation between academia and the larger technology industry.
Hardware

Transistors Will Stop Shrinking in 2021, Moore's Law Roadmap Predicts (ieee.org) 114

Moore's Law, an empirical observation of the number of components that could be built on an integrated circuit and their corresponding cost, has largely held strong for more than 50 years, but its days are really numbered now. The prediction of the 2015 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which was only officially made available this month, says that transistor could stop shrinking in just five years. From an article on IEEE: After 2021, the report forecasts, it will no longer be economically desirable for companies to continue to shrink the dimensions of transistors in microprocessors. Instead, chip manufacturers will turn to other means of boosting density, namely turning the transistor from a horizontal to a vertical geometry and building multiple layers of circuitry, one on top of another. These roadmapping shifts may seem like trivial administrative changes. But "this is a major disruption, or earthquake, in the industry," says analyst Dan Hutcheson, of the firm VLSI Research. U.S. semiconductor companies had reason to cooperate and identify common needs in the early 1990s, at the outset of the roadmapping effort that eventually led to the ITRS's creation in 1998. Suppliers had a hard time identifying what the semiconductor companies needed, he says, and it made sense for chip companies to collectively set priorities to make the most of limited R&D funding.It still might not be the end of Moore's remarkable observation, though. The report adds that processors could still continue to fulfill Moore's Law with increased vertical density. The original report published by ITRS is here.
Transportation

7-Eleven Just Used a Drone To Deliver Slurpees and a Chicken Sandwich (roboticstrends.com) 108

An anonymous Slashdot reader write: A drone has autonomously delivered Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, doughnuts, hot coffee and candy from a Reno, Nevada 7-Eleven to a nearby home. The delivery was made "in a matter of minutes" to two busy working parents near their store in Reno, Nevada, and the drone hovered in place and gently lowered each package to the ground in the family's backyard.

"To find customers willing to have their order handled by a flying robot, the companies surveyed households within a one-mile radius of the store from which they planned to deliver," reports Tech Crunch. 7-Eleven partnered with drone-delivery company Flirtey, which has also used its drones to perform a ship-to-shore delivery of medical supplies . They're calling this flight the first FAA-approved drone delivery to a home and a historic milestone in commercial deliveries, and both companies plan to continue working together in the future to perform more testing on drone deliveries.

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