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Hardware

FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips 505

Posted by Soulskill
from the righteous-backpedaling dept.
New submitter weilawei writes: Last night, FTDI, a Scottish manufacturer of USB-to-serial ICs, posted a response to the ongoing debacle over its allegedly intentional bricking of competitors' chips. In their statement, FTDI CEO Fred Dart said, "The recently release driver release has now been removed from Windows Update so that on-the-fly updating cannot occur. The driver is in the process of being updated and will be released next week. This will still uphold our stance against devices that are not genuine, but do so in a non-invasive way that means that there is no risk of end user's hardware being directly affected." This may have resulted from a discussion with Microsoft engineers about the implications of distributing potentially malicious driver software.

If you design hardware, what's your stance on this? Will you continue to integrate FTDI chips into your products? What alternatives are available to replace their functionality?
Microsoft

New Microsoft Garage Site Invites Public To Test a Wide Range of App Ideas 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-it-a-spin dept.
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched a new section on its website: The Microsoft Garage is designed to give the public early access to various projects the company is testing right now. The team is kicking off with a total of 16 free consumer-facing apps, spanning Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, and even the Xbox One. Microsoft Garage is still going to be everything it has been so far, but Microsoft has simply decided it's time for the public to get involved too: You can now test the wild projects the company's employees dream up.
Operating Systems

The Classic Control Panel In Windows May Be Gone 346

Posted by timothy
from the good-riddance-or-sorely-missed dept.
jones_supa writes In Windows 8, there was an arrangement of two settings applications: the Control Panel for the desktop and the PC Settings app in the Modern UI side. With Windows 10, having the two different applications has started to look even more awkward, which has been voiced loud and clear in the feedback too. Thus, the work at Microsoft to unify the settings programs has begun. The traditional Control Panel is being transformed to something temporarily called "zPC Settings" (sic), which is a Modern UI app that melts together the current two settings applications.
Hardware

FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips. 687

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-dirty dept.
janoc writes It seems that chipmaker FTDI has started an outright war on cloners of their popular USB bridge chips. At first the clones stopped working with the official drivers, and now they are being intentionally bricked, rendering the device useless. The problem? These chips are incredibly popular and used in many consumer products. Are you sure yours doesn't contain a counterfeit one before you plug it in? Hackaday says, "It’s very hard to tell the difference between the real and fake versions by looking at the package, but a look at the silicon reveals vast differences. The new driver for the FT232 exploits these differences, reprogramming it so it won’t work with existing drivers. It’s a bold strategy to cut down on silicon counterfeiters on the part of FTDI. A reasonable company would go after the manufacturers of fake chips, not the consumers who are most likely unaware they have a fake chip." Update: 10/24 02:53 GMT by S : In a series of Twitter posts, FTDI has admitted to doing this.
Windows

Windows 0-Day Exploited In Ongoing Attacks 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the gift-that-keeps-on-giving dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is warning users about a new Windows zero-day vulnerability that is being actively exploited in the wild and is primarily a risk to users on servers and workstations that open documents with embedded OLE objects. The vulnerability is currently being exploited via PowerPoint files. These specially crafted files contain a malicious OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) object. This is not the first time a vulnerability in OLE has been exploited by cybercriminals, however most previous OLE vulnerabilities have been limited to specific older versions of the Windows operating system. What makes this vulnerability dangerous is that it affects the latest fully patched versions of Windows.
Software

Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the history-revealed dept.
zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet.

The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future.

With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.
Windows

Microsoft Introduces Build Cadence Selection With Windows 10 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the putting-a-ring-on-it dept.
jones_supa writes: Microsoft has just released Windows 10 TP build 9860. Along with the new release, Microsoft is introducing an interesting cadence option for how quickly you will receive new builds. The "ring progression" goes from development, to testing, to release. By being in the slow cadence, you will get more stable builds, but they will arrive less often. By choosing the fast option, it allows you to receive the build on the same day that it is released. As a quick stats update, to date Microsoft has received over 250,000 pieces of feedback through the Windows Feedback tool, 25,381 community forum posts, and 641 suggestions in the Windows Suggestion Box.
Software

GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today 155

Posted by timothy
from the please-have-more-than-8-megs-of-RAM dept.
New submitter Shade writes Well over one and a half years in the works, the latest and greatest release of GNU Emacs was made officially available today. Highlights of this release include a built-in web browser, improved multi-monitor and fullscreen support, "electric" indentation enabled by default, support for saving and restoring the state of frames and windows, pixel-based resizing for frames and windows, support for digitally signed ELisp packages, support for menus in text terminals, and much more. Read the official announcement and the full list of changes for more information.
Operating Systems

More Eye Candy Coming To Windows 10 209

Posted by timothy
from the sincere-flattery dept.
jones_supa writes Microsoft is expected to release a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview in the very near future, according to their own words. The only build so far to be released to the public is 9841 but the next iteration will likely be in the 9860 class of releases. With this new build, Microsoft has polished up the animations that give the OS a more comprehensive feel. When you open a new window, it flies out on to the screen from the icon and when you minimize it, it collapses back in to the icon on the taskbar. It is a slick animation and if you have used OS X, it is similar to the one used to collapse windows back in to the dock. Bah.
OS X

If You're Connected, Apple Collects Your Data 312

Posted by timothy
from the so-they-can-notify-next-of-kin dept.
fyngyrz (762201) writes It would seem that no matter how you configure Yosemite, Apple is listening. Keeping in mind that this is only what's been discovered so far, and given what's known to be going on, it's not unthinkable that more is as well. Should users just sit back and accept this as the new normal? It will be interesting to see if these discoveries result in an outcry, or not. Is it worse than the data collection recently reported in a test version of Windows?
GUI

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday 369

Posted by timothy
from the new-one-looks-nice-to-me dept.
HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.
Graphics

Direct3D 9.0 Support On Track For Linux's Gallium3D Drivers 54

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-or-another dept.
An anonymous reader writes Twelve years after Microsoft debuted DirectX 9.0, open-source developers are getting ready to possibly land Direct3D 9.0 support within the open-source Linux Mesa/Gallium3D code-base. The "Gallium3D Nine" state tracker allows accelerating D3D9 natively by Gallium3D drivers and there's patches for Wine so that Windows games can utilize this state tracker without having to go through Wine's costly D3D-to-OGL translator. The Gallium3D D3D9 code has been in development since last year and is now reaching a point where it's under review for mainline Mesa. The uses for this Direct3D 9 state tracker will likely be very limited outside of using it for Wine gaming.
Government

South Korean ID System To Be Rebuilt From Scratch After Massive Leaks 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-think-it-through-this-time dept.
AmiMoJo writes: South Korea's national identity card system may need a complete overhaul following huge data thefts dating back to 2004. The government is considering issuing new ID numbers to every citizen over age 17, costing billions of dollars. The ID numbers and personal details of an estimated 80% of the country's 50 million people have been stolen from banks and other targets. Some 20 million people, including President Park Geun-hye, have been victims of a data theft. Citizens are unable to change their credentials, which are used in many different sectors, making them an attractive target for hackers.
Intel

Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored: Things Are Improving 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-crysis dept.
MojoKid writes: For the past few years, Intel has promised that its various low-power Atom-based processors would usher in a wave of low-cost Android and Windows mobile products that could compete with ARM-based solutions. And for years, we've seen no more than a trickle of hardware, often with limited availability. Now, that's finally beginning to change. Intel's Bay Trail and Merrifield SoCs are starting to show up more in full-featured, sub-$200 devices from major brands. One of the most interesting questions for would-be x86 buyers in the Android tablet space is whether to go with a Merrifield or Bay Trail Atom-based device. Merrifield is a dual-core chip without Hyper-Threading. Bay Trail is a quad-core variant and a graphics engine derived from Intel's Ivy Bridge Core series CPUs. That GPU is the other significant difference between the two SoCs. With Bay Trail, Intel is still employing their own graphics solution, while Merrifield pairs a dual-core CPU with a PowerVR G6400 graphics core. So, what's the experience of using a tablet running Android on x86 like these days? Pretty much like using an ARM-based Android tablet currently, and surprisingly good for any tablet in the $199 or less bracket. In fact, some of the low cost Intel/Android solutions out there currently from the likes of Acer, Dell, Asus, and Lenovo, all compete performance-wise pretty well versus the current generation of mainstream ARM-based Android tablets.
Internet Explorer

Microsoft's JavaScript Engine Gets Two-Tiered Compilation 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the under-the-hood dept.
jones_supa writes: The Internet Explorer team at Microsoft recently detailed changes to the JavaScript engine coming in Windows 10. A significant change is the addition of a new tier in the Just-in-Time (JIT) compiler. In Windows 10, the Chakra JS engine now includes a second JIT compiler that bridges the gap between slow, interpreted code and fast, optimized code. It uses this middle-tier compiler, called Simple JIT, as a "good enough" layer that can move execution away from the interpreter quicker than the Full JIT can. Microsoft claims that the changes will allow certain workloads to "run up to 30% faster". The move to a two-tiered JIT compiler structure mirrors what other browsers have done. SpiderMonkey, the JavaScript engine in Firefox, has an interpreter and two compilers: Baseline and IonMonkey. In Google Chrome, the V8 JavaScript engine is also a two-tiered system. It does not use an interpreter, but compiles on a discrete background thread.
Microsoft

Microsoft Partners With Docker 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the team-up dept.
rjmarvin writes Docker is teaming up with Microsoft to bring its open container technology to the next release of Windows Server. Docker Engine will work with the next release of Windows Server and images will be available in Docker Hub, which will also integrate directly into Microsoft Azure. The partnership moves Docker beyond Linux for the first time with new multi-container application capabilities for cloud and enterprise developers.
DRM

Mozilla Teams Up With Humble Bundle To Offer Eight Plugin-Free Games 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the stay-inside-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes Mozilla and Humble Bundle announced a new package that features award-winning indie best-sellers for which gamers can choose how much they want to pay. Naturally called the Humble Mozilla Bundle, the package consists of eight games that have been ported to the Web. The first five games (Super Hexagon, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, Osmos, Zen Bound 2, and Dustforce DX) can cost you whatever you want. The next two (Voxatron and FTL: Faster Than Light) can be had if you beat the average price for the bundle. You can pay $8 or more to receive all of the above, plus the last game, Democracy 3. Previously, all of these indie games were available only on PC or mobile. Now they all work in browsers on Windows, Mac, and Linux without having to install any plugins.
Microsoft

Data From Windows 10 Feedback Tool Exposes Problem Areas 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the self-awareness-kernel-keeps-uninstalling-morality-drivers dept.
jones_supa writes: Two weeks in, and already a million people have tried out Windows 10 Technical Preview, reports Microsoft, along with a nice stack of other stats and feedback. Only 36% of installations are occurring inside a virtual machine. 68% of Windows 10 Technical Preview users are launching more than seven apps per day, with somewhere around 25% of testers using Windows 10 as their daily driver (26 app launches or more per day). With the help of Windows 10's built-in feedback tool, thousands of testers have made it very clear that Microsoft's new OS still has lots of irksome bugs and misses many much-needed features. ExtremeTech has posted an interesting list of the most popular gripes received, them mostly being various GUI endurances. What has your experience been with the Technical Preview?
Firefox

Firefox 33 Arrives With OpenH264 Support 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 33 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include OpenH264 support as well as the ability to send video content from webpages to a second screen. Firefox 33 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Full changelogs are available here: desktop and Android."
Windows

Windows Flaw Allowed Hackers To Spy On NATO, Ukraine, Others 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-the-cookie-jar dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Reuters reports that a cybersecurity firm has found evidence that a bug in Microsoft's Windows operating system has allowed hackers located in Russia to spy on computers used by NATO, Ukraine, the European Union, and others for the past five years. Before disclosing the flaw, the firm alerted Microsoft, who plans to roll out a fix on Tuesday. "While technical indicators do not indicate whether the hackers have ties to the Russian government, Hulquist said he believed they were supported by a nation state because they were engaging in espionage, not cyber crime. For example, in December 2013, NATO was targeted with a malicious document on European diplomacy. Several regional governments in the Ukraine and an academic working on Russian issues in the United States were sent tainted emails that claimed to contain a list of pro-Russian extremist activities, according to iSight."

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