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AMD Says Upcoming Zen CPU Will Outperform Intel Broadwell-E

8/18/2016 10:43am
Reader MojoKid writes: AMD has been talking about the claimed 40% IPC (Instructions Per Clock) improvement of its forthcoming Zen processor versus the company's existing Excavator core for ages. Zen's initial availability is slated for late this year, with lager-scale roll-out planned for early 2017. However, last night, at a private press event in San Francisco, AMD unveiled a lot more details on their Zen processor architecture. AMD claims to have achieved that 40 percent IPC uplift with a newly-designed, higher-performance branch prediction and a micro-op cache for more efficient issuing of operations. The instruction schedule windows have been increased by 75% and issue-width and execution resources have been increased by 50%. The end result of these changes is higher single-threaded performance, through better instruction level parallelism. Zen's pre-fetcher is also vastly improved. There is 8MB of shared L3 cache on board now, a unified L2 cache for both instruction and data, and separate, low-latency L1 instruction and data caches. The new archicture offers up to 5x the cache bandwidth to the cores versus previous-gen offerings. However, after all the specsmanship was out of the way, AMD actually showcased a benchmark run of an 8-core Zen Summit Ridge procesor versus Intel's Broadwell-E 8-core chip, both running at 3GHz and processing a Blender rending workload. In the demo, the 8-core Zen CPU actually outpaced Intel's chip by a hair. Blender may have been chosen for a reason but this early benchmark demo looks impressive for AMD and its forthcoming Zen architecture.

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Uber's First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month

8/18/2016 10:00am
Ride-hailing app Uber will introduce self-driving cars in Pittsburgh as soon as this month, Bloomberg reports citing many officials and engineers at the company. The move is the first part of a pilot program to explore the future of the technology, the report added. The company plans to test 100 Volvo XC90s outfitted to drive themselves. Still, the cars will be accompanied by two humans: an engineer who can take control of the vehicle when needed and a co-pilot who takes note. Bloomberg reports: The Volvo deal isn't exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1percent of Uber's most recent valuation.

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WSJ: Facebook's Point System Fails To Close Diversity Gap

8/18/2016 9:00am
theodp writes: Gizmodo and others are picking up on a Wall Street Journal story (Warning: may be paywalled) which reported that Facebook's failure to move the needle on diversity is all the more surprising because the social network awarded Facebook recruiters double points for a "diversity hire" -- a female, Black, or Hispanic engineer -- compared to the hire of a White or Asian male. Facebook declined to comment on whether this points-based system is still in effect. The WSJ also notes that Intel has paid its employees double referral bonuses for women, minorities, and veterans. The reward schemes evoke memories of gender-based (and later race-based) incentives offered for K-12 coding and STEM programs run by tech-backed Code.org (to which Facebook just pledged $15 million) and Google, which offered lower funding or no funding at all to teachers if participation by female students was deemed unacceptable to the sponsoring organizations. Facebook's efforts also seem consistent with the tech-backed Every Student Succeeds Act, which calls for increasing CS and STEM access to address a tech-declared national crisis, but only "for students through grade 12 who are members of groups underrepresented in such subject fields, such as female students, minority students, English learners, children with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students." Hey, sometimes "every" doesn't mean "every!"

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World's Largest Aircraft Completes Its First Flight

8/18/2016 6:00am
The world's largest aircraft has finally completed its first flight after months of preparation and years of searching for funding. The Airlander 10 as it's called spent 20 minutes in the air on Wednesday, landing safely at Cardington Airfield north of London. CNNMoney reports: "Part airship, part helicopter, part plane, the 300-foot long aircraft is about 50 feet longer than the world's biggest passenger planes. The Airlander, made by British company Hybrid Air Vehicles, has four engines and no internal structure. It maintains its shape thanks to the pressure of the 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its hull, which is made from ultralight carbon fiber. The aircraft was originally designed for U.S. military surveillance. But the project was grounded in 2013 because of defense spending cuts. [The team behind the giant blimp-like aircraft] said the aircraft could carry communications equipment or other cargo, undertake search and rescue operations, or do military and commercial survey work. The Airlander can stay airborne for up to five days at a time if manned, and for more than two weeks if unmanned. It can carry up to 10 tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 91 miles per hour. The aircraft doesn't need a runway to take off, meaning it can operate from land, snow, ice, desert and even open water." You can view the historic flight for yourself here (Warning: headphone users beware of loud sound).

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Astronauts To Install A Parking Space For SpaceX and Boeing At The ISS

8/18/2016 3:00am
Since Boeing and SpaceX will begin sending NASA astronauts into orbit next year, the International Space Station is going to need a place for them to park. Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will journey outside the ISS on Friday to install a new docking adapter for these two private companies. Popular Mechanics reports: "Installing these adapters is a necessary step in NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which seeks to spur development of commercial crew spacecraft. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:05 a.m. on Friday, and live coverage will start at 6:30. This will be Williams' fourth spacewalk, and Rubins' first." In the meantime, you can watch this video describing exactly what the spacewalk will entail.

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People Ignore Software Security Warnings Up To 90% of the Time, Says Study

8/17/2016 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A new study from BYU, in collaboration with Google Chrome engineers, finds the status quo of warning messages appearing haphazardly -- while people are typing, watching a video, uploading files, etc. -- results in up to 90 percent of users disregarding them. Researchers found these times are less effective because of "dual task interference," a neural limitation where even simple tasks can't be simultaneously performed without significant performance loss. Or, in human terms, multitasking. For example, 74 percent of people in the study ignored security messages that popped up while they were on the way to close a web page window. Another 79 percent ignored the messages if they were watching a video. And a whopping 87 percent disregarded the messages while they were transferring information, in this case, a confirmation code. For example, Jenkins, Vance and BYU colleagues Bonnie Anderson and Brock Kirwan found that people pay the most attention to security messages when they pop up in lower dual task times such as: after watching a video, waiting for a page to load, or after interacting with a website. For part of the study, researchers had participants complete computer tasks while an fMRI scanner measured their brain activity. The experiment showed neural activity was substantially reduced when security messages interrupted a task, as compared to when a user responded to the security message itself. The BYU researchers used the functional MRI data as they collaborated with a team of Google Chrome security engineers to identify better times to display security messages during the browsing experience.

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Nintendo Shuts Down 'Pokemon Uranium' Fan Game After 1.5 Million Downloads

8/17/2016 10:05pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wrap: The fan-made "Pokemon Uranium" game took a pair of programmers more than nine years to develop. Nintendo needed just about nine days to kill it. "After receiving more than 1,500,000 downloads of our game, we have been notified of multiple takedown notices from lawyers representing Nintendo of America," the creators of "Pokemon Uranium" said in a statement. "While we have not personally been contacted, it's clear what their wishes are, and we respect those wishes deeply. Therefore, we will no longer provide official download links for the game through our website," they continued. "We have no connection to fans who re-upload the game files to their own hosts, and we cannot verify that those download links are all legitimate. We advise you to be extremely cautious about downloading the game from unofficial sources." The role-playing game was free, though creators @JVuranium and Involuntary Twitch were open to suggested PayPal donations of $2-$10. Set in the tropical Tandor region, "Uranium" players can encounter more than 150 all-new species of Pokemon in their quest to collect all eight Gym Badges and triumph over the Tandor League, per the official description. Along the way, the players must battle against a sinister threat that's causing Nuclear Meltdowns.

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Solid-State Battery Could Extinguish Fire Risks

8/17/2016 9:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: "Researchers have designed a new type of battery that, unlike traditional models containing liquid or gel electrolytes, consists purely of solid chemical compounds and is non-flammable, representing a huge boost for improving battery safety," reports The Stack. "Responding to dangers linked to traditional lithium-ion batteries, the team based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has built a solid alternative which contains only solid-state electrodes and electrolytes." The battery is constructed with a layer of highly conductive lithium garnet, which works as a solid electrolyte between two electrodes. The researchers applied the material of the negative pole in viscous form, which allowed it to seep through the porous electrolyte layer. The team was able to temper the battery at 100C. "With a liquid or gel electrolyte, it would never be possible to heat a battery to such high temperatures," the study claims.

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Cisco Patches 'ExtraBacon' Zero-day Exploit Leaked By NSA Hackers

8/17/2016 8:45pm
Patrick O'Neill quotes a report from The Daily Dot: After a group of hackers stole and published a set of NSA cyberweapons earlier this week, the multibillion dollar tech firm Cisco is now updating its software to counter two potent leaked exploits that attack and take over crucial security software used to protect corporate and government networks. "Cisco immediately conducted a thorough investigation of the files released, and has identified two vulnerabilities affecting Cisco ASA devices that require customer attention," the company said in a statement. "On Aug. 17, 2016, we issued two Security Advisories, which deliver free software updates and workarounds where possible." The report adds: "An unknown group of hackers dubbed the Shadow Brokers posted cyberweapons stolen from the so-called Equation Group, the National Security Agency-linked outfit known as 'the most advanced' group of cyberwarriors in the internet's history. One of the cyberweapons posted was an exploit called ExtraBacon that can be used to attack Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) software designed to protect corporate networks and data centers. 'ExtraBacon targets a particular firewall, Cisco ASA, running a particular version (8.x, up to 8.4), and you must have SNMP read access to it,' Khalil Sehnaoui, a Middle East-based cybersecurity specialist and founder of Krypton Security, told the Daily Dot. 'If run successfully, the exploit will enable the attacker to access the firewall without a valid username or password.' ExtraBacon was a zero-day exploit, Cisco confirmed. That means it was unknown to Cisco or its customers, leaving them open to attack by anyone who possessed the right tools."

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Mozilla To Add Screenshot Sharing Feature To Firefox Test Pilot Program

8/17/2016 8:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: [Softpedia reports:] "Mozilla plans to include a webpage screenshot sharing feature to Firefox as part of the Test Pilot program, a spokesperson confirmed to Softpedia. The new feature is called Page Shot, and will initially roll out on Firefox Test Pilot in late-Q3 of this year. The Firefox Test Pilot program allows users to test experimental Firefox features using a special add-on. Based on user feedback, those features will end up as built-in Firefox features, or self-standing add-ons." The pageshot.net website is now offline as Mozilla prepares to launch the add-on via Test Pilot, but Softpedia has the screenshots. You can view the screenshots here.

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Companies Can't Legally Void the Warranty For Jailbreaking Or Rooting Your Phone

8/17/2016 7:20pm
Reader Jason Koebler writes: Manufacturers that threaten to void the warranties of consumers who jailbreak or root their phones are violating federal law.Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, manufacturers cannot legally void your hardware warranty simply because you altered the software of an electronic device. In order to void the warranty without violating federal law, the manufacturer must prove that the modifications you made directly led to a hardware malfunction."They have to show that the jailbreak caused the failure. If yes, they can void your claim (not your whole warranty—just the things which flowed from your mod)," Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, wrote in an email. "If not, then they can't."

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Oracle Says Trial Wasn't Fair, It Should Have Known About Google Play For Chrome

8/17/2016 6:40pm
Two and a half months after a federal jury concluded that Google's Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use," Oracle's attorney says her client missed a crucial detail in the trial, adding that this detail could change everything. ArsTechnica reports: Oracle lawyers argued in federal court today that their copyright trial loss against Google should be thrown out because they were denied key evidence in discovery. Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that the launch of Google Play on Chrome OS, which happened in the middle of the trial, showed that Google was trying to break into the market for Java SE on desktops. In her view, that move dramatically changes the amount of market harm that Oracle experienced, and the evidence should have been shared with the jury. "This is a game-changer," Hurst told U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the trial. "The whole foundation for their case is gone. [Android] isn't 'transformative'; it's on desktops and laptops." Google argued that its use of Java APIs was "fair use" for several reasons, including the fact that Android, which was built for smartphones, didn't compete with Java SE, which is used on desktops and laptops. During the post-trial hearing today, Hurst argued that it's clear that Google intends to use Android smartphones as a "leading wedge" and has plans to "suck in the entire Java SE market. [...] Android is doing this using Java code," said Hurst. "That's outrageous, under copyright law. This verdict is tainted by the jury's inability to hear this evidence. Viewing the smartphone in isolation is a Google-gerrymandered story."In the meanwhile, Google attorney said Oracle was aware of Google's intentions of porting Android to laptops and desktops, and that if Oracle wanted to use this piece of information, it could have.

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Transfer of Internet Governance Will Go Ahead On Oct. 1

8/17/2016 6:00pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Computerworld: The U.S. says it will proceed with its plan to hand over oversight of the internet's domain name system functions to a multistakeholder body on Oct. 1. Computerworld reports: "The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), under contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, operates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) which enables the operation of the internet domain name system (DNS). These include responsibility for the coordination of the DNS root, IP addressing and other internet protocol resources. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Commerce Department, said in March 2014 that it planned to let its contract with ICANN expire on Sept. 30, 2015, passing the oversight of the functions to a global governance model. NTIA made it clear that it would not accept a plan from internet stakeholders that would replace its role by that of a government-led or intergovernmental organization or would in any way compromise the openness of the internet. The transfer was delayed to September as the internet community needed more time to finalize the plan for the transition. The new stewardship plan submitted by ICANN was approved by the NTIA in June. NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said Tuesday that the agency had informed ICANN that 'barring any significant impediment,' NTIA intends to allow the IANA functions contract it has with ICANN to expire as of Oct. 1, said Strickling, who is also assistant secretary for communications and information."

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Cisco Reports Fourth-Quarter 2016 Earnings

8/17/2016 5:30pm
Cisco has reported its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and they have exceeded analysts' expectations. CRN reported yesterday that the company will be laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the company's global workforce, according to multiple sources close to the company. Instead, the company will be cutting only 5,500 positions, representing roughly 7 percent of its global workforce, beginning in the fiscal first quarter of 2017. CNBC reports: "The company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 63 cents a share on revenues of $12.64 billion, beating analyst expectations for 60 cents per share on revenues of $12.57 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. The company said that 'today's market requires Cisco and our customers to be decisive, move with greater speed and drive more innovation than we've seen in our history.' Cisco said it expects to reinvest the cost savings from its restructuring plan into 'key priority areas such as security, IoT, collaboration, next generation data center and cloud.'"

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AT&T Is Boosting Data Plans, Dropping Overage Fees

8/17/2016 5:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: ATT Inc, the No. 2 U.S wireless provider, said on Wednesday that it would roll out a new data plan that does away with overage fees and reduces data speeds for wireless customers who surpass their data allowance. Beginning Sunday, customers can choose the new Mobile Share Advantage plan and pay for extra data, if needed, or work with slower data speeds instead of paying for overages, the company said in a statement. Its current plan includes a $5 data overage charge per 300 megabytes on its 300-megabyte plan and $15 per 1 gigabyte on other plans. ATT has also revised prices and data bucket sizes. For instance, its larger 25-gigabyte plan now costs $190 per month for four smartphone lines. It previously cost $235. All the new plans include an access charge of $10 to $40 per month for each device, ATT said. The new plans will continue to have features such as unlimited text and talk and rollover data. Plans above 10 gigabytes also include unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada and no roaming charges in Mexico. Last month, Verizon introduced a new "Safety Mode" for its data plans that similarly throttles customers who exceed their monthly allotment to avoid overages. While Verizon charges customers on lower tier plans for the feature, ATT notes that it does not apply any extra charges.

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Maker of Web Monitoring Software Can Be Sued

8/17/2016 4:15pm
Reader Presto Vivace shares a CIO report: The maker of so-called spyware program WebWatcher can be sued for violating state and federal wiretap laws, a U.S. appeals court has ruled, in a case that may have broader implications for online monitoring software and software as a service. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected WebWatcher vendor Awareness Technologies' motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the company. The appeals court overturned a lower court ruling granting the motion to dismiss. The appeals court, in a 2-1 decision rejected Awareness' claims that WebWatcher does not intercept communications in real time, in violation of the U.S. wiretap act, but instead allows users to review targets' communications. While plaintiff Javier Luis' lawsuit doesn't address real-time interception of communications, his allegations "give rise to a reasonable inference" of that happening, Judge Ronald Lee Gilman wrote. Awareness pitches WebWatcher as monitoring software for parents and employers. "All WebWatcher products install easily in 5 minutes or less, are undetectable (thus tamper proof) and all recorded data is sent to a secure web-based account which allows you to monitor kids and employees at your convenience from any computer," the company says.

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New Nokia Smartphones and Tablets Are Coming in Late 2016: Company Executive

8/17/2016 3:36pm
An anonymous reader writes: The resurrection of the Nokia brand may happen in the fourth quarter of this year, which could make for some really nostalgic holiday gifts. According to Chinese site ThePaper (in Chinese), Nokia executive Mike Wang confirmed that three or four Nokia-branded Android devices are on the way for the fourth quarter of 2016. The comeback effort would include both phones and tablets. There is a chance, however, that the timeline could get pushed back depending upon how things progress. It wouldn't be a terrible shocker considering we're talking about a new company, HMD. It's composed of former employees from Microsoft, the old Nokia, and others who are banding together to resurrect the once-iconic brand. The best rumor we have is that the phones will have 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch Quad HD, OLED displays, a Snapdragon 820 SOC, 22.6MP back camera, and a metal build with water and dust resistance. No word on what a tablet would look like.

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Intel's New Silicon Photonics Module For Data Centers Beams Info at 100Gbps Across 2km

8/17/2016 2:53pm
An anonymous reader writes:Intel has announced it's launching silicon photonics, a product 16 years in the making, to enhance the use of optics for data center traffic management. It has a tremendous advantage over other silicon solutions, Intel executive vice president Diane Bryant said at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. Intel is "the first to light up silicon," she said, integrating the laser light-emitting material onto silicon. It uses silicon lithography to align the laser with precision, she said, creating a cost advantage because it's automatically aligned. It has a performance advantage because of the precision of lithography. The module Intel is introducing delivers 100 gigabits per second. With network traffic in the data center doubling every 12 months, electrons running over copper cable just won't cut it, Bryant said. However, the cost of fiber optics is growing, positioning silicon photonics as the next solution.The company adds that the silicon photonics module can deliver the data across two kilometers.

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Microsoft Says Upcoming Project Scorpio Might Be the Last Console Generation

8/17/2016 2:11pm
Earlier this year, Xbox chief Phil Spencer expressed desires to see a steady stream of hardware innovation rather than a typical seven-year gap between different console generations, noting smartphone market as inspiration. In an interview with Engadget, Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft's Head of Xbox Games Marketing has hinted that the company's upcoming Project Scorpio is likely going to be the last generation of Xbox console you will ever need to purchase. From the report: I think it is ... For us, we think the future is without console generations, we think that the ability to build a library, a community, to be able to iterate with the hardware, we're making a pretty big bet on that with Project Scorpio. We're basically saying 'this isn't a new generation, everything you have continues forward and it works.' We think of this as a family of devices. But we'll see, we're going to learn from this, we're going to see how that goes. So far I'd say based on the reaction there appears to be a lot of demand and interest around Project Scorpio, and we think it's going to be a pretty big success. If the games and the content deliver, which I think they will do, I think it will change the way we think about the future of console gaming."

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From Now On You'll Be Able To Access NASA Research For Free

8/17/2016 1:28pm
An anonymous reader writes:Fancy some super nerdy bedtime reading? NASA has announced that it will now provide public access to all journal articles on research funded by the agency. Any scientists publishing NASA-funded work will be required to upload their papers to a free, online database called PubSpace within a year of publication. PubSpace is managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PubMed Central, which archives biomedical research. You can see NASA-funded studies here, with recent examples including a paper on cardiovascular disease in Apollo astronauts and one on Martian tsunamis caused by meteor impacts. NASA explains that the new web portal is a response to a 2013 government request for federally-funded research to be more accessible. There are a few obvious exceptions to what's included, such as and material that's related to national security or affected by export controls. NASA's openness follows a trend to make science results more accessible outside of published, often paywalled journals.

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