Businesses

Apple Discontinues iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle (macrumors.com) 108

From a report: Apple today removed the iPod nano and iPod shuffle from its website and online store around the world, suggesting the iconic portable media players may be discontinued. Apple continues to sell the iPod touch. Beyond new colors and storage capacities, Apple had last updated the iPod nano in October 2012 and the iPod shuffle in September 2010. Apple last updated the iPod touch in July 2015 with an 8-megapixel rear camera. Apple introduced the iPod shuffle in January 2005, followed by the iPod nano in September 2005. In total, there were seven generations of the iPod nano, and four generations of the iPod shuffle. The company has confirmed that it has discontinued the devices.
Data Storage

Upcoming USB 3.2 Specification Will Double Data Rates Using Existing Cables (macrumors.com) 152

A new USB specification has been introduced today by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which is comprised of Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, and other companies. The new USB 3.2 specification will replace the existing 3.1 specification and will double data rates to 20Gbps using new wires available if your device embraces the newest USB hardware. Mac Rumors reports: An incremental update, USB 3.2 is designed to define multi-lane operation for USB 3.2 hosts and devices. USB Type-C cables already support multi-lane operation, and with USB 3.2, hosts and devices can be created as multi-lane solutions, allowing for either two lanes of 5Gb/s or two lanes of 10Gb/s operation. With support for two lanes of 10Gb/s transfer speeds, performance is essentially doubled over existing USB-C cables. As an example, the USB Promoter Group says a USB 3.2 host connected to a USB 3.2 storage device will be capable of 2GB/sec data transfer performance over a USB-C cable certified for USB SuperSpeed 10Gb/s USB 3.1, while also remaining backwards compatible with earlier USB devices. Along with two-lane operation, USB 3.2 continues to use SuperSpeed USB layer data rates and encoding techniques and will introduce a minor update to hub specifications for seamless transitions between single and two-lane operation.
Power

Toyota's New Solid-State Battery Could Make Its Way To Cars By 2020 (techcrunch.com) 68

According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota is in production engineering for a solid state battery, which uses a solid electrolyte instead of the conventional semi-liquid version used in today's lithium-ion batteries. The company said it aims to put the new tech in production electric vehicles as early as 2020. TechCrunch reports: The improved battery technology would make it possible to create smaller, more lightweight lithium-ion batteries for use in EVs, that could also potentially boost the total charge capacity and result in longer-range vehicles. Another improvement for this type of battery would be longer overall usable life, which would make it possible to both use the vehicles they're installed in for longer, and add potential for product recycling and alternative post-vehicle life (some companies are already looking into putting EV batteries into use in home and commercial energy storage, for example).
Android

Motorola Unveils the Moto Z2 Force, a Smartphone With Double the Cameras and a Shatterproof Screen (theverge.com) 46

Motorola has announced a new flagship smartphone that will be available on every major U.S. carrier. Some of the noteworthy specifications include a nearly indestructible screen and dual rear-facing camera sensors. The Verge reports: The Moto Z2 Force is the closest thing to a flagship phone that Motorola has released this year, and it's got all the hardware specs to show for it: inside is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It runs Android 7.1 with a promised upgrade to Android O to come. That's all standard fare for an expensive 2017 smartphone, and the Z2 Force is certainly expensive at around $720. It's priced even higher on some carriers like AT&T ($810). This version is much thinner than last year's phone, but that sleek design comes with a significant sacrifice in battery capacity; the Z2 Force has a 2,730mAh battery compared to the 3,500mAh battery in the old Moto Z Force. Between this and the Moto Z2 Play, Motorola sure does seem obsessed with slimming things down lately, and what are we gaining? Oh, there's no headphone jack on this thing either. Be prepared to go wireless or live the dongle life.
AMD

Chipmakers Nvidia, AMD Ride Cryptocurrency Wave -- For Now (bloomberg.com) 57

During California's Gold Rush, it was often the sellers of pickaxes and shovels who made the most money. In the frenzy to get rich quick from cryptocurrencies, some investors are calling computer chipmakers the modern-day equivalent. From a report: Shares of Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices have gained at least 14 percent since the beginning of June, spurred in part by about a 10-fold boom from April to June in a market, known as ethereum, for a currency that can be used to buy computing power over the internet. What's the link between ethereum and these Silicon Valley chipmakers? It lies in the really powerful graphics processors, designed to make computer games more realistic, that are also needed to gain access to encrypted digital currencies. Nvidia and AMD have rallied in the last month and a half even as investors have ignored chip stocks leaving the benchmark Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index up about 1 percent. Nvidia has gained 14 percent and AMD rallied 27 percent. While some of that has come from optimism around new products for other markets, analysts are projecting that sales related to cryptocurrencies will result in a spike in revenue for both companies. Even so, investors shouldn't bank on a lasting impact from the cryptocurrency boom, said Stacy Rasgon, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "This has happened before," Rasgon said. "It lasted about a quarter." [...] Like bitcoin, ethereum is an attempt by an online community to create an economy that doesn't rely on government-backed currencies. Unlike bitcoin, it's focused solely on offering decentralized computing and storage services. Those seeking to use these services -- and speculators looking for a quick profit by creating and then selling ether -- have seized on graphics cards, which excel at performing multiple simple calculations in parallel, as a faster way to claim the blocks of code that act as the currency of the ethereum market. Demand from ethereum miners has created temporary shortages of some of the graphics cards, according to analysts, who cite sold-out products at online retailers. Estimates of additional sales from this demand run as high as $875 million, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mitch Steves. That would roughly equal AMD's total sales from graphics chips last year, or half of Nvidia's quarterly sales of those components. But Steves and other analysts are also quick to warn that the market opportunity could fizzle out.
Movies

Biologists Use Gene Editing To Store Movies In DNA (scientificamerican.com) 87

New submitter elmohound writes: A recent paper in Nature describes how gene editing was used to store a digital movie into a bacterial population. The choice of subject is a nice hommage to Muybridge's 1887 photos. From a report via Scientific American: "The technical achievement, reported on July 12 in Nature, is a step towards creating cellular recording systems that are capable of encoding a series of events, says Seth Shipman, a synthetic biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. To develop such a system, however, his team would need to establish a method for recording hundreds of events in a cell. Shipman and his colleagues, including Harvard geneticist George Church, harnessed the CRISPR-Cas immune system best known for enabling researchers to alter genomes with relative ease and accuracy. Shipman's team exploited the ability to capture snippets of DNA from invading viruses and store them in an organized array in the host genome. In nature, those snippets then target an enzyme to slice up the invader's DNA. The team designed its system so that these snippets corresponded to pixels in an image. The researchers encoded the shading of each pixel -- along with a barcode that indicated its position in the image -- into 33 DNA letters. Each frame of the movie consisted of 104 of these DNA fragments." You can view the movie here, which consists of five frames adapted from Muybridge's Human and Animal Locomotion series.
Verizon

Millions of Verizon Customer Records Exposed in Security Lapse (zdnet.com) 44

Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: An Israeli technology company has exposed millions of Verizon customer records, ZDNet has learned. As many as 14 million records of subscribers who called the phone giant's customer services in the past six months were found on an unprotected Amazon S3 storage server controlled by an employee of Nice Systems, a Ra'anana, Israel-based company. The data was downloadable by anyone with the easy-to-guess web address. Nice, which counts 85 of the Fortune 100 as customers, plays in two main enterprise software markets: customer engagement and financial crime and compliance including tools that prevent fraud and money laundering. Nice's 2016 revenue was $1.01 billion, up from $926.9 million in the previous year. The financial services sector is Nice's biggest industry in terms of customers, with telecom companies such as Verizon a key vertical. The company has more than 25,000 customers in about 150 countries.
Data Storage

Western Digital Gets US Court Order To Access Toshiba Databases, Chip Samples (reuters.com) 12

Western Digital won a temporary U.S. court order on Tuesday saying that Toshiba must allow Western Digital's employees to access databases and chip samples as part of a joint venture with Toshiba around flash memory chip plants in Japan. Reuters reports: Toshiba is scrambling to sell its flash memory business and Western Digital is among the bidders. In a sign of high tensions around the deal, Toshiba threatened to lock Western Digital out of shared databases and quit sending chip samples. Western Digital sued Toshiba in San Francisco County Superior Court saying that its joint venture with Toshiba means Toshiba must get its consent for a sale. It asked the court for two separate orders: An injunction to stop the sale, and a temporary restraining order forcing Toshiba to give its workers access to shared databases. A judge granted the temporary order for access to the shared databases Tuesday and set a further hearing on July 28.
Intel

Intel Launches Xeon Scalable CPUs: Dual Xeon Platinum 8176, 112 Threads Tested (hothardware.com) 54

MojoKid writes: Intel announced its new Xeon Scalable processor family based on the 14nm Skylake-SP microarchitecture a few weeks back, though today marks the official launch of the platform. Not only do these processors feature a new microarchitecture, but Intel has also revamped the naming convention and arrangement of the Xeon product stack, branding them with Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze model families. Intel Xeon Scalable series processors feature core counts ranging from 4 to 28, with varied frequencies and cache configurations. Workstation processors and lower-core count server chips top out in the 3.2GHz -- 3.6GHz range, while the higher-core count products typically fall in the 2GHz -- 2.7GHz range. Six memory channels are supported and the chips have 48 lanes of integrated PCIe 3.0 connectivity. Power envelopes range all the way from 70W on up to 205W. The Xeon Scalable series also introduces new security, virtualization, and storage-related features, more memory bandwidth, support for AVX-512 extensions, a mesh interconnect, and enhanced hardware controlled power management, among a host of other architectural improvements. Testing of a 2P Xeon Platinum 8176 system, sporting 56 physical cores / 112 threads shows significantly increased performance and bandwidth, with only moderately higher power consumption versus a previous-gen 2P Xeon E5-2679 v4-based system.
Cellphones

Researchers Have Developed A Battery-Free Mobile Phone (hothardware.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes HotHardware: Researchers from the University of Washington are looking to make batteries a thing of the past when it comes to mobile phones. The team has developed a phone that uses "almost zero power" according to associate professor Shyam Gollakota, who co-authored a paper which detailed the breakthrough... The researchers designed the phone to harvest microwatts of power from RF signals transmitted from a base station that is 31 feet away. Additional power is harnessed via ambient light through the use of miniature photodiodes that are about the size of a grain of rice. While in use, the phone consumes about 3.5 microwatts of power and is capable of communicating with a custom base station that is up to 50 feet away to send and receive calls... The phone ditches the traditional analog-to-digital converter, which turns your voice into data, in favor of a system that uses the vibrations from a microphone or speaker to perform the same task. An antenna then converts that motion into radio signals in such a way that very little power is consumed.
There's two drawbacks. First, modern smartphones "need a lot more than a 3.5-microwatt power budget for blazing fast processor, copious amounts of RAM and internal storage, and power-hungry displays." And more importantly, "you have to press a button to switch between transmissions and listening modes with the phone."
Data Storage

OneDrive Has Stopped Working On Non-NTFS Drives (arstechnica.com) 130

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: OneDrive users around the world have been upset to discover that with its latest update, Microsoft's cloud file syncing and storage system no longer works with anything other than disks formatted with the NTFS file system. Both older file systems, such as FAT32 and exFAT, and newer ones, such as ReFS, will now provoke an error message when OneDrive starts up. To continue to use the software, files will have to be stored on an NTFS volume. While FAT disks can be converted, ReFS volumes must be reformatted and wiped. This has left various OneDrive users unhappy. While NTFS is the default file system in Windows, people using SD cards to extend the storage on small laptops and tablets will typically use exFAT. Similarly, people using Storage Spaces to manage large, redundant storage volumes will often use ReFS. The new policy doesn't change anything for most Windows users, but those at the margins will feel hard done by. Microsoft said in a statement that it "discovered a warning message that should have existed was missing when a user attempted to store their OneDrive folder on a non-NTFS filesystem -- which was immediately remedied." According to Ars, Microsoft's position, apparently, is that OneDrive should always have warned about these usage scenarios and that it's only a bug or an oversight that allowed non-NTFS volumes to work.
Hardware

Raspberry Pi's Smaller, Cheaper Rival: NanoPi Neo Plus2 Weighs in at $25 (zdnet.com) 121

FriendlyARM, the maker of compact NanoPi developer boards, has released the NanoPi Neo Plus2 for $25. From a report: This board is an update to the recently released NanoPi Neo 2, a $15 cookie-sized developer board measuring 40mm x 40mm (1.6in) with a 64-bit Allwinner H5 processor, 512MB RAM, and one USB port. The NanoPi Neo Plus2 is slightly larger at 52mm x 40mm (2in x 1.6in) and has two USB ports. It has the same H5 quad-core A53 ARM Cortex processor, but comes with 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC storage. The NeoPlus2's storage in addition to Gigabit Ethernet puts it ahead of the Raspberry Pi 3 on paper, and at $25 undercuts the better-known board by $10.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.12 Officially Released (softpedia.com) 55

prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: After seven weeks of announcing release candidate versions, Linus Torvalds today informs the Linux community through a mailing list announcement about the general availability of the Linux 4.12 kernel series. Development on the Linux 4.12 kernel kicked off in mid-May with the first release candidate, and now, seven weeks later we can finally get our hands on the final release... A lot of great improvements, new hardware support, and new security features were added during all this time, which makes it one of the biggest releases, after Linux 4.9...

Prominent features of the Linux 4.12 kernel include initial support for AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics cards, intial Nvidia GeForce GTX 1000 "Pascal" accelerated support, implementation of Budget Fair Queueing (BFQ) and storage-I/O schedulers, more MD RAID enhancements, support for Raspberry Pi's Broadcom BCM2835 thermal driver, a lot of F2FS optimizations, as well as ioctl for the GETFSMAP space mapping ioctl for both XFS and EXT4 filesystems.

Linus said in announcing the release that "I think only 4.9 ends up having had more commits," also noting that 4.9 was a Long Term Support kernel, whereas "4.12 is just plain big."

"There's also nothing particularly odd going on in the tree - it's all just normal development, just more of it than usual."
Power

California Has So Much Solar Power That Other States Are Paid To Take It (mic.com) 324

"On 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power," reported the Los Angeles Times. Mic reports: California is generating so much solar energy that it is resorting to paying other states to take the excess electricity in order to prevent overloading power lines. According to the Los Angeles Times, Arizona residents have already saved millions in 2017 thanks to California's contribution. The state, which produced little to no solar energy just 15 years ago, has made strides -- it single-handedly has nearly half of the country's solar electricity generating capacity...

When there's too much solar energy, there is a risk of the electricity grid overloading. This can result in blackouts. In times like this, California offers other states a financial incentive to take their power. But it's not as environmentally friendly as one would think. Take Arizona, for example. The state opts to put a pin in its own solar energy sources instead of fossil fuel power, which means greenhouse gas emissions aren't getting any better due to California's overproduction.

The Los Angeles Times suggests over-construction of natural gas plants created part of the problem -- Californians now pay roughly 50% more than the rest of the country for power -- but they report that power supplies could become more predictable when battery storage technologies improve.
Power

There Is a Point At Which It Will Make Economical Sense To Defect From the Electrical Grid (qz.com) 494

Michael J. Coren reports via Quartz: More than 1 million U.S. homes have solar systems installed on their rooftops. Batteries are set to join many of them, giving homeowners the ability to not only generate but also store their electricity on-site. And once that happens, customers can drastically reduce their reliance on the grid. It's great news for those receiving utility bills. It's possible armageddon for utilities. A new study by the consulting firm McKinsey modeled two scenarios: one in which homeowners leave the electrical grid entirely, and one in which they obtain most of their power through solar and battery storage but keep a backup connection to the grid. Given the current costs of generating and storing power at home, even residents of sunny Arizona would not have much economic incentive to leave the electric-power system completely -- full grid-defection, as McKinsey refers to it -- until around 2028. But partial defection, where some homeowners generate and store 80% to 90% of their electricity on site and use the grid only as a backup, makes economic sense as early as 2020.

[A]s daily needs for many are supplied instead by solar and batteries, McKinsey predicts the electrical grid will be repurposed as an enormous, sophisticated backup. Utilities would step up and supply power during the few days or weeks per year when distributed systems run out of juice.

Operating Systems

32TB of Windows 10 Internal Builds, Core Source Code Leak Online (theregister.co.uk) 201

According to an exclusive report via The Register, "a massive trove of Microsoft's internal Windows operating system builds and chunks of its core source code have leaked online." From the report: The data -- some 32TB of installation images and software blueprints that compress down to 8TB -- were uploaded to betaarchive.com, the latest load of files provided just earlier this week. It is believed the data has been exfiltrated from Microsoft's in-house systems since around March. The leaked code is Microsoft's Shared Source Kit: according to people who have seen its contents, it includes the source to the base Windows 10 hardware drivers plus Redmond's PnP code, its USB and Wi-Fi stacks, its storage drivers, and ARM-specific OneCore kernel code. Anyone who has this information can scour it for security vulnerabilities, which could be exploited to hack Windows systems worldwide. The code runs at the heart of the operating system, at some of its most trusted levels. In addition to this, hundreds of top-secret builds of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, none of which have been released to the public, have been leaked along with copies of officially released versions.
Businesses

Amazon Web Services Quietly Forms a Mixed Reality Team, But What Is It Building? (geekwire.com) 41

Nat Levy, reporting for GeekWire: Amazon is building a new "two pizza team" within Amazon Web Services focused on mixed-reality technology, another sign that the cloud powerhouse is expanding its reach and branching out into new areas. AWS isn't talking publicly about the initiative, but a job posting for a software engineer sheds some light on the team's goals. The posting says the company is "building a set of services, and platform to bring AWS and Amazon into the world of Mixed Reality." The company wants engineers with experience in "Computer Vision, 3D objects, rendering and data storage by designing, developing and testing software solutions." The posting further states that "applications would include real-time 3D modeling, image and video stream processing all within a scalable distributed environment." The posting calls the group a "true start-up within AWS (a real two pizza team)." The two-pizza term goes back to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and his well-known rule that any team or meeting that can't be fed with two pizzas is too large.
Android

OnePlus 5, 'The Best Sub-$500 Phone You Can Buy', Launched (arstechnica.com) 174

From an ArsTechnica article: Smartphone companies don't seem to care about cultivating a true "lineup" of phones. If you aren't spending at least $650, most companies will offer you anonymous, second-rate devices that seem like they've had no thought put into them. Enter the OnePlus 5, which continues the company's tradition of offering an all-business, high-end smartphone for a great price. Today OnePlus is both announcing the OnePlus 5 and lifting the review embargo on the device, which we've had for about two weeks now. $479 gets you an aluminum-clad pocket computer with a 2.45GHz Snapdragon 835 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3,300mAh battery. You still get OnePlus' physical 3-way alert switch, a USB-C port, capacitive buttons with a front-mounted fingerprint reader, and a headphone jack. The phone has two cameras on the back: one 16MP main camera and one 20MP telephoto camera, arranged in the most iPhone-y way possible. Besides the $479 version, there's a more expensive $539 version, which ups the RAM from 6GB to a whopping 8GB, adds another 64GB of storage for a total of 128GB, and changes the color from "Slate Grey" to "Midnight Black." Further reading: OnePlus 5 review: as fast and smooth as Google Pixel, without the price tag - The Guardian; OnePlus 5 review: the me-too phone - The Verge; OnePlus 5 Review - Wired.
Businesses

Dropbox Is Rolling Out a Private Network to Speed Up File Access (fortune.com) 40

Dropbox, the file storage company that last year moved 90 percent of its data out of Amazon Web Services cloud and into its own data centers, is at it again. From a report on Fortune: The San Francisco company is building its own international private network to make sure users abroad can access their files -- most of which reside in those aforementioned Dropbox U.S. data centers -- faster. "What people don't realize about the internet is that it is very 'bursty' and can hit bottlenecks," Akhil Gupta, vice president of engineering at Dropbox tells Fortune. That is why the company is ripping out third-party load balancers and replacing them with its own software running on standard Linux hardware. Insulating itself from the balky internet is also the reason Dropbox is contracting to use its own dedicated fiber cable to carry that traffic. "We want to make user experience as real time as possible since 70 percent of our users are outside the U.S. and most of the data lives in North America," says Dan Williams, Dropbox's head of production engineering. Dropbox still partners with Amazon for customers in some countries, like Germany, which require user data to stay in the country of origin.
Government

198 Million Americans Hit By 'Largest Ever' Voter Records Leak (zdnet.com) 119

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server, reports say. From a ZDNet article: It's believed to be the largest ever known exposure of voter information to date. The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics. UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery, who found the exposed server, verified the data. Through his responsible disclosure, the server was secured late last week, and prior to publication. This leak shines a spotlight on the Republicans' multi-million dollar effort to better target potential voters by utilizing big data. The move largely a response to the successes of the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, thought to have been the first data-driven campaign. Further reading: Republican Data-Mining Firm Exposed Personal Information for Virtually Every American Voter - The Intercept; The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak - Upguard; Data on 198M voters exposed by GOP contractor Data On 198M Voters Exposed By GOP Contractor - The Hill.

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