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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus Makes Its Debut
April 20, 2016
Canonical on Thursday launched Ubuntu 16.04, aka "Xenial Xerus," an upgrade that will be supported for the next five years. The latest version for all desktop, server and cloud editions will be available for download starting Thursday. Ubuntu 16.04 includes four major technology advancements geared toward multiplatform uses. Xenial Xerus is the sixth Long Term Support release for Ubuntu.
Apple's MacBook Refresh Draws Tepid Response
April 19, 2016
Apple on Tuesday announced a refreshed MacBook with some incremental improvements but nothing likely to dazzle even the staunchest Mac fans. The improved battery life and fanless design got the attention of tech analyst Eric Smith. "Battery life is always top of mind for consumers," he said. However, he was "a little disappointed" that there has been no improvement to display resolution.
LXLE Gives Aging Hardware a New Lease on Life
April 18, 2016
LXLE is an ideal distro for out-of-the-box functionality to handle your everyday computing needs. It's a well-oiled lightweight distribution based on Ubuntu's long-term support releases for Debian and Lubuntu Linux from a community originating in the U.S. The latest version is 14.04.4, released last month. It runs an optimized LXDE that has a comfortable look and feel.
Hortonworks Ramps Up Hadoop Security
April 14, 2016
Hortonworks this week announced a series of enterprise security efforts to bolster performance and data safety with its Hortonworks Data Platform. The company announced that Pivotal Software will standardize on Hortonworks' Hadoop distribution. The thrust of the product announcements concerned updates on applying security policies and maintaining data governance.
HP Debuts Skinniest Laptop Ever
April 5, 2016
HP on Tuesday unveiled its latest challenger to Apple's laptops, touting it as the thinnest laptop in the world. At 10.4 mm, the HP Spectre's chassis is as thin as a triple-A battery, the company noted. The Spectre is powered by Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and weighs in at 2.45 pounds. It has a 13.3-inch Gorilla glass display, and stereo speakers from Bang & Olufsen.
Lawrence Livermore Lab Buys Brainy IBM Supercomputer
April 5, 2016
IBM last week announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has purchased its TrueNorth processor-based cognitive computing platform. The purchase included an end-to-end ecosystem and a multisocket host node. The lab will build a supercomputer based on the platform to see how neural networks might be used in the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's cybersecurity program.
Foxconn Finally Wrangles Sharp Deal
April 1, 2016
Foxconn has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Sharp -- about 66 percent -- for roughly $3.5 billion, the companies announced Wednesday. Foxconn has committed to restoring Sharp's profitability and improving operations, according to the companies. "I am confident that we will unlock Sharp's true potential," Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said. The acquisition brings months of speculation to a close.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
Google Aims to Build a Better iOS Keyboard
March 24, 2016
Google has been developing a third-party keyboard for Apple devices in an effort to increase the number of Google searches on iOS, according to a news report published Tuesday. The keyboard, which is being tested internally, reportedly would incorporate a number of search options and a Swype-like feature to guess the intended word when a user slides a finger from one letter to another.
iPad Pro Wants to Be Your Next PC
March 24, 2016
When Apple unveiled its 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this week, it aimed the tablet squarely at the PC replacement market, with Senior VP Phil Schiller describing it as the "ultimate upgrade for existing iPad users and replacement for PC users." More than 600 million PCs in use are 5 years old or more, he said. The Pro's 64-bit A9X processor rivals that of most portable PCs, Apple said.
Xbox Signals It's Ready to Rumble
March 16, 2016
Microsoft this week announced that it would support cross-network play between its latest gaming console and other platforms. Cross-network support would allow Xbox One players to engage in multiplayer gaming with friends and randoms on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Network. It will be up to developers to support cross-platform games, however.
SQL Server on Linux Shows Microsoft's More Flexible Side
March 9, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to release a version of SQL Server 2016 for Linux. "Bringing SQL Server to Linux is another way we are making our products and new innovations more accessible to a broader set of users," said Microsoft's Scott Guthrie. SQL Server will be able to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, in the cloud and on-premises.
Quantum Computer Leap Could Make Today's Encryption Passe
March 8, 2016
Researchers at MIT and the University of Innsbruck last week announced that they had designed and constructed the world's first scalable quantum computer, a development that could make existing encryption technology obsolete. They built the computer using five atoms in an ion trap. The researchers used laser pulses to carry out an algorithm on each atom to correctly factor the number 15.
Report: 3.5 Million HTTPS Servers Vulnerable to DROWN
March 2, 2016
A report released Tuesday on the DROWN vulnerability raises concerns about possible attacks that could expose encrypted communications. DROWN is a serious vulnerability that affects HTTPS and other services using SSL version 2, according to the team of security researchers who compiled the report. The protocols affected are some of the essential cryptographic protocols for Internet security.
Fresh Raspberry Pi Has Better Hardware Baked In
March 1, 2016
The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Monday announced the availability of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for $35, the same price as the previous model. It is the second major upgrade to the board in just over a year. The hardware upgrade boosts the single-core processor of the original Pi to a faster, more capable quad-core chipset in the Pi 3. The current model is based on a 64-bit chipset.
Google Killed the Laptop Star
February 29, 2016
Anyone who went to business school recognizes the basic tenet that you use marketing to build demand in order to sell products. Through the 1990s, there was impressive marketing surrounding laptops. Apple aggressively marketed this class, as did Microsoft, and it seemed every other brand on TV was trying to convince us we needed a new PC. PC marketing dropped off a cliff in the last decade.
Dell's Embedded PCs Take the IoT to the Mainstream
February 23, 2016
Dell on Tuesday announced the release of its first purpose-built industrial PC products for the mainstream market: the Embedded Box PC 3000 Series and 5000 Series. The products are a response to the growing embedded computing market and the lack of reliable devices, Dell said. The embedded systems market is expected to reach $23.1 billion in 2019, according to a Technavio study.
New IBM Mainframe Promises Advanced Security for Hybrid Clouds
February 18, 2016
IBM on Tuesday introduced the z13s, a mainframe computer system optimized for hybrid cloud deployment. The z13s is designed to provide advanced cryptography for mid-sized firms that need a high level of data protection. The advanced cryptography includes built-in hardware security features that effectively double the speed of data encryption and decryption over prior generations of computers.
Mattel's 3D Printer Will Let Kids Do More Than Play With Toys
February 16, 2016
Mattel last week announced that it is giving its ThingMaker a high-tech makeover by equipping it with 3D capabilities. Using the 1960s iteration, children could create small toys, such as dragons and flowers, by pouring liquid plastic into molds, which were heated and cooled. The updated ThingMaker was designed in partnership with Autodesk, which created the 3D app that works with the printer.
Windows 10 Gains on 7, Inch by Inch
February 2, 2016
Windows 10 last month had more user share than Windows XP and Windows 8, according to data released by NetMarketShare. It held 11.85 percent of the global OS market, though Windows 7 was still No. 1 with 52.47 percent. Though adoption has slowed, the NetMarketShare numbers helped validate Microsoft's claim last month that Windows 10 was active on 200 million devices.
Google, Movidius to Bring Deep Learning to Mobile Devices
January 29, 2016
Movidius on Wednesday announced that it's working with Google to put deep learning on mobile devices. Google will source Movidius' latest flagship chip -- the MA2450 -- and software development environment, and will contribute to Movidius' neural network technology road map in return. That could result in mobile devices that will be able to understand images and audio swiftly and accurately.
Wall Street Backs Off Apple
January 28, 2016
Their fears confirmed, investors were bearish on Apple Wednesday, the day after the company reported its slowest-growth quarter ever. The company's shares closed the day at $93.44, down 6.55 percent. In its Q1 earnings report, Apple prepared investors for what may come next: its weakest quarter for iPhone sales in 13 years. Even worse is its gloomy forecast for next quarter's iPhone sales.
Microsoft Prods Skylake Users to Take the Windows 10 Plunge
January 18, 2016
Microsoft last week announced that within the next 18 months, it will end support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on machines equipped with Intel's 6th generation Core processors, also known as "Skylake." As of mid-July next year, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Skylake systems, and only the most critical security fixes will be released for earlier versions of Windows.
IDC: There's Hope on the PC Horizon
January 18, 2016
IDC last week reported worldwide PC shipments totaled nearly 72 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, down 10.6 percent year over year -- the largest YoY decline ever. While shipments in Q4 were slightly higher than in Q3, 2015 was the first year since 2008 that fewer than 300 million PCs were shipped. Longer PC life cycles and economic issues contributed to the poor results.
What the PC Industry Could Learn From the NRA
January 18, 2016
One of the fascinating things about the NRA is that buyers of guns think the organization represents them, when in fact its mission is to represent gun sellers -- not gun buyers -- and certainly never gun buyers against gun sellers. Guns for consumers largely have been banned in most of the world, with the exception of the U.S., which uniquely has the NRA.
Samsung Snaps Up Snapdragon 820 Chip Manufacturing Deal
January 14, 2016
Samsung Electronics on Thursday announced that it had struck a deal that will make it the sole manufacturer of Qualcomm's flagship mobile processor. Samsung last spring began mass production of a logic chip utilizing its 14-nanometer LPP (Low-Power Plus) process in its own Exynos 8 Octa processor. That process will be used for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip.
Behind the Scenes at CES
January 11, 2016
CES surprised me again this year. For a show that comes too early in the year for most buyers and companies, it still stood out as having some truly amazing things. It will be remembered for showcasing the birth of personal flight vehicles, along with a Tesla-beating car, and Ford showing how it could do what Apple couldn't. I'll fill you in on some of the back stories at CES.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
Looking Ahead to 2016
December 28, 2015
Next week is CES, and I am so looking forward to coming home from that show. It used to be a lot of fun, but it covers such a massive amount of space that just getting around takes up much of the time. Given that most folks do prebriefings if they are smart, and that most of the really cool stuff is behind closed doors and not on the show floor, every year I question the intelligence of going.
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What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.