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Hardware

Samsung Plans All-Screen Design in New Galaxy S8 Phones (bloomberg.com) 104

Samsung may have big plans to overcome the whammy of its disastrous Galaxy Note7 this year. The company is reportedly planning to push the boundaries of design with the next flagship smartphone, dubbed the Galaxy S8. The smartphone, which was recently pegged to ship without a headphone jack, will have an "all-screen" design, Bloomberg is reporting. The report adds that there might not be a home button -- at least the way we know it -- and that any part of the lower display will serve as a fingerprint scanner. From the report: The bezel-less displays will provide more viewing real estate while a virtual home button will be buried in the glass in the lower section. Samsung needs the Galaxy S8 to be a hit after suffering through the Note 7 debacle that tarnished its brand, led to an embarrassing recall and may cost the company more than $6 billion. While Samsung is targeting a March release of the S8, that could be delayed until April, the people said. Samsung is adopting tougher testing procedures in the wake of the Note 7 debacle that could push back the launch by about a month, one of the people said.
Advertising

New Stegano Exploit Kit Hides Malvertising Code In Banner Pixels (bleepingcomputer.com) 204

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: For the past two months, a new exploit kit has been serving malicious code hidden in the pixels of banner ads via a malvertising campaign that has been active on several high profile websites. Discovered by security researchers from ESET, this new exploit kit is named Stegano, from the word steganography, which is a technique of hiding content inside other files. In this particular scenario, malvertising campaign operators hid malicious code inside PNG images used for banner ads. The crooks took a PNG image and altered the transparency value of several pixels. They then packed the modified image as an ad, for which they bought ad displays on several high-profile websites. Since a large number of advertising networks allow advertisers to deliver JavaScript code with their ads, the crooks also included JS code that would parse the image, extract the pixel transparency values, and using a mathematical formula, convert those values into a character. Since images have millions of pixels, crooks had all the space they needed to pack malicious code inside a PNG photo. When extracted, this malicious code would redirect the user to an intermediary ULR, called gate, where the host server would filter users. This server would only accept connections from Internet Explorer users. The reason is that the gate would exploit the CVE-2016-0162 vulnerability that allowed the crooks to determine if the connection came from a real user or a reverse analysis system employed by security researchers. Additionally, this IE exploit also allowed the gate server to detect the presence of antivirus software. In this case, the server would drop the connection just to avoid exposing its infrastructure and trigger a warning that would alert both the user and the security firm. If the gate server deemed the target valuable, then it would redirect the user to the final stage, which was the exploit kit itself, hosted on another URL. The Stegano exploit kit would use three Adobe Flash vulnerabilities (CVE-2015-8651, CVE-2016-1019 or CVE-2016-4117) to attack the user's PC, and forcibly download and launch into execution various strains of malware.
Software

Windows 10 'Home Hub' Is Microsoft's Response To Amazon Echo and Google Home (mashable.com) 101

Microsoft's response to the Amazon Echo and Google Home is Home Hub, a software update for Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant that turns any Windows PC into a smart speaker of sorts. Mashable reports: Microsoft's smart digital assistant Cortana can already answer your queries, even if the PC's screen is locked. The Home Hub is tied to Cortana and takes this a few steps further. It would add a special app with features such as calendar appointments, sticky notes and shopping lists. A Home Hub-enabled PC might have a Welcome Screen, a full-screen app that displays all these, like a virtual fridge door. Multiple users (i.e. family members) could use the Home Hub, either by authenticating through Windows Hello or by working in a family-shared account. Cortana would get more powerful on Home Hub; it could, for example, control smart home devices, such as lights and locks. And even though all of this will work on any Windows 10 device -- potentially making the PC the center of your smart home experience -- third-party manufacturers will be able to build devices that work with Home Hub. You can read Windows Central's massive report here. Do note that Home Hub is not official and individual features could change over time. The update is slated for 2017.
Displays

Panasonic Announces 1,000,000:1 Contrast Ratio LCD Panel To Rival OLED (androidauthority.com) 103

OLED panels have always been known to have higher contrast ratios than LCD panels, but that may be about to change with Panasonic's recently announced LCD IPS display. The display boasts a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, which is up to 600 times more contrast than some of the company's conventional LCD panels that tend to offer around 1800:1 ratios, and rivals OLED specifications. Android Authority reports: Panasonic has accomplished this through the use of its new light modulating cell technology, which allows the company to switch off individual pixels in the display using a secondary control layer. Typically, LCD backlights mean that either the entire or only large parts of the display can be dimmed at any one time. OLED panels switch off lights entirely for a black pixel to offer very high contrast ratios, and this new LCD technology works on a very similar principle. This is particularly important for reproducing HDR video content, which is becoming increasingly popular. Furthermore, this new light modulating cell technology allows Panasonic to increase the peak brightness and stability of the display, which can reach 1,000 cd/m2 while also providing HDR colors. Many other HDR TV panels top out in the range of 700 to 800 cd/m2, so colors, highlights, and shadows should appear vivid and realistic. Panasonic plans to ship the new display starting in January 2017 with sizes ranging from 55 to 12 inches.
SourceForge

SourceForge Introduces HTTPS Support For Project Websites (sourceforge.net) 44

SourceForge announced on Wednesday that it is introducing HTTPS for all project websites on its platform. Once a project has been moved to HTTPS, old domain will automatically redirect to their new counterparts, resulting in no loss of traffic or inconvenience. From a blog post on the site: With a single click, projects can opt-in to switch their web hosting from http://name.sourceforge.net to https://name.sourceforge.io. Project admins can find this option in the Admin page, under "HTTPS", naturally.There's also a guide to assist developers with the transition. SourceForge launched HTTPS support for SourceForge.net back in February, but this rolls out HTTPS support to individual project websites hosted on SourceForge. There's also a Site News section on the website now where you can read about all SourceForge changes and improvements over the past year since SourceForge was acquired by BIZX, such as eliminating the DevShare program and scanning all projects for malware.
Google

Morgan Stanley: Pixel Phone Will Generate Google Almost $4 Billion In Revenue Next Year (9to5google.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Google: With initial Pixel pre-orders exceeding expectations and promising activation numbers from Verizon, Google is on track to sell three million phones with revenues of $2 billion in 2016. The Morgan Stanley estimate comes as the Pixel reportedly captured 10% of the premium smartphone market in India. Unsurprisingly, the 128GB Pixel XL has the largest gross profit margin at 25%, while the cheapest 32GB Pixel is at 22%. Morgan Stanley also estimates that, compared to the iPhone, the Pixel will be half as profitable. Morgan Stanley expects Google to sell 5-6 million Pixel and Pixel XL devices in 2017 to the tune of $3.8 billion in revenue. Google is also expected to make money from increased usage of services like Android Pay and mobile search. Google's big gains were possibly due in part to Samsung's Note 7 debacle, with the company's marketshare falling to 23%. Apple captured the number one position at 66%. Additionally, Google benefitted from running a number of promotions, including cashback and exchange programs. The company also heavily advertised in newspapers, with billboards, and for the first time displays in large retail stores.
Iphone

Apple's Next iPhone Could Have a Curved Screen, Says WSJ (theverge.com) 155

Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup might include a model with a curved screen similar to Samsung's Edge devices, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke with the Wall Street Journal (paywalled). Apple's suppliers told the paper that they were asked to "increase output of thinner organic light emitting displays and submit prototype screens with better resolution than ones from Samsung." From a report on The Verge (since WSJ is paywalled): But with that in mind, the company is also reportedly considering more than 10 prototypes, so a curved display might not make it to market. We've heard this rumor before when it was coupled with the idea that at least one of Apple's new phones would include an OLED display.
Displays

Samsung Places A Big Bet on Quantum-Dot TV, Acquires QD Vision (zdnet.com) 46

Quantum-dot televisions promise "better picture quality and are also cheaper to manufacture than organic light-emitting diode sets," ZDNet reports. And now Samsung has confirmed their acquisition of Massachusetts-based QD Vision for $70 million, according to this article shared by Dthief: QD Vision, previously known as Color IQ, is a specialist in quantum dot display technology. Developed for displays including PC monitors and television sets, quantum-dot technology uses semiconductor nanoparticles to change the properties of quantum dots, improving color definition and sharpness... QD Vision will become part of Samsung's research and development unit in the hope of creating quantum-dot LED displays suitable for the consumer market which could, in turn, become a strong competitor against OLED displays... The agreement follows Samsung's pledge earlier this year to launch a total of 14 SUHD television models this year, all of which use quantum dot technology.
Windows

Microsoft's x86 on ARM64 Emulation: A Windows 10 Redstone 3 Fall 2017 Feature (zdnet.com) 123

Mary Jo Foley, reporting for ZDNet:Since January 2016 (and maybe before), there's been talk that Microsoft was working on bringing x86 emulation to ARM processors. Sources of mine are now saying that this capability is coming to Windows 10, though not until "Redstone 3" in the Fall of 2017. Here's why this matters: Microsoft officials continue to claim that Continuum -- the capability that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to connect to external displays and keyboards -- is going to be a key for the company, its partners and its customers. There's been one very big limitation to Continuum so far, however: It only allows users to run Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and not full-fledged x86 apps. What if an ARM64-based device could run x86 apps via emulation, the same way that the WOW (Windows on Windows) emulator allowed 32-bit apps to run on 64-bit Windows? That would make Windows 10 Mobile, which as of now, continues to support ARM only, and Continuum a lot more interesting, especially to business users who need certain Win32/line-of-business apps.
Graphics

The Next iPhone Will Feature An OLED Display, Says Bloomberg (bloomberg.com) 67

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. has big plans to outfit its next iPhone with vibrant, energy-sipping organic LED displays, seeking to entice consumers with new technology that's already been embraced by other high-end smartphone makers. The trouble is that the four main suppliers for such components won't have enough production capacity to make screens for all new iPhones next year, with constraints continuing into 2018, people familiar with the matter said, presenting a potential challenge for the Cupertino, California-based company. OLED screens are more difficult to produce, putting Apple at the mercy of suppliers that are still working to manufacture the displays in mass quantities, the people said. The four largest producers are Samsung Display Co., LG Display Co., Sharp Corp., and Japan Display Inc. While Samsung is on track to be the sole supplier for the new displays next year, the South Korean company may not be able to make enough due to low yield rates combined with increasing iPhone demand. The supply constraints may force Apple to use OLED in just one version of the next-generation iPhone, push back adoption of the technology or cause other snags. Apple plans to ship at least one new iPhone with an OLED screen next year, the 10th anniversary of the smartphone's debut, people with knowledge of the matter said. A pair of other new iPhone models will likely feature screens that use older LCD technology, partly because there won't be enough OLED displays to satisfy anticipated demand, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The OLED iPhone, at least, will have a new look that extends glass from the display to the device's back and edges, according to a person familiar with Apple's plans. This all-glass design will have a virtual Home button embedded in an edge-to-edge screen, rather than a physical button that can be pressed, the person added.
Music

Music Torrent Site What.CD Has Been Shut Down (theverge.com) 86

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: What.cd, an invite-only music torrent website first launched in 2007, has been shut down after a raid by French authorities. The private tracker offered free (and often illegal) access to a massive, deeply thorough collection of music and was popular among audiophiles for its strict rules around quality and file formats. The site was created after the shutdown of another well-known torrent website, Oink, which operated between 2004 and 2007. Though its primary focus was music sharing, What.cd also permitted torrents of computer software, ebooks, and other content. Zataz Magazine is reporting 12 servers that powered What.cd's infrastructure were seized by French cybercrime authorities. What.cd hasn't been taken offline completely, but torrents are unavailable and the homepage now displays a message confirming its demise: "Due to some recent events, What.CD is shutting down. We are not likely to return any time soon in our current form. All site and user data has been destroyed. So long, and thanks for all the fish."
Patents

Samsung Patent Describes Holographic TV Technology (consumerist.com) 52

Patently Mobile is reporting about a new patent application filed by Samsung that lays out new holographic TV technology. Slashdot reader Rick Schumann writes via Consumerist: Holographic displays as described by Samsung would be able to make the depth the brain perceives consistent with the focus of the eyes. Lasers would be used to project holograms that float in front of the screen, which of course sounds a heck of a lot like a mini Princess Leia telling Obi-Wan Kenobi he's her only hope. The display apparatus could also include an eye tracking unit that would locate an observer's pupils and adjust how far it has to project the holographic image for optimum viewing.

Worth noting: This is just a patent application; no indication of even a working prototype.


Businesses

Apple Considering Expansion Into Wearable Glasses, Says Report (bloomberg.com) 121

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple is weighing an expansion into digital glasses, a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing, according to people familiar with the matter. While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer's field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project. Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn't ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added. Should Apple ultimately decide to proceed with the device, it would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest, another person said. The glasses may be Apple's first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Apple has AR patents for things like street view in mapping apps. It was also awarded patents for smart glasses that make use of full-fledged virtual reality. Apple is unlikely to leverage VR in a mass-consumer product, Cook suggested in October. Apple's challenge is fitting all the technology needed into a useful pair of internet-connected glasses that are small and sleek enough for regular people to wear.
Desktops (Apple)

New MacBook Pro's Dedicated AMD Graphics Chips Are 'Significantly' Faster and Support Dual 5K Displays (macrumors.com) 170

Whereas Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pros feature integrated Iris Pro graphics, the 15-inch MacBook Pros feature dedicated AMD graphics, resulting in significant performance improvements over previous MacBook Pro models. Ars Technica's Andrew Cunningham found the Radeon Pro 455 graphics chip in particular to be a "significant boost" over the dedicated GPUs available in the 2012-2015 MacBook Pro models, such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 650M, Nvidia GeForce GTX 750M, and AMD Radeon R9 M370X. MacRumors reports: AMD's Polaris-based Radeon Pro 450, Radeon Pro 455, and built-to-order Radeon Pro 460 GPUs in the new 15-inch MacBook Pro support up to six displays, whereas Intel's integrated GPUs affixed to the logic board can drive a total of three displays. The expanded support enables the new MacBook Pro to drive two of Apple and LG's new UltraFine 5K displays at 60Hz simultaneously. Intel's GPUs can't because, due to bandwidth limitations of the DisplayPort 1.2 spec, the two 5K displays technically function as four displays. This method is known as Multi-Stream Transport (MST). Apple could have used Nvidia's faster Pascal-based GPUs, which support DisplayPort 1.3, but Thunderbolt 3 and most monitors do not support the higher-bandwidth spec yet. In the meantime, Nvidia's GPUs can only drive up to three displays beyond the main MacBook Pro screen -- not enough for dual 5K displays over MST. Apple officially says the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers up to 130% faster graphics performance, and up to 2.5x more computing power per watt, compared to the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro, but those stats are based on the built-to-order Radeon Pro 460 chip that costs between $100 and $200 extra.
Movies

How Stephen Wolfram Devised Interstellar Travel (And Code Samples) For 'Arrival' (backchannel.com) 102

The new movie "Arrival" depicts first contact with aliens, and its producers faced the question of how interstellar spacecraft would actually work. They turned to futurist Stephen Wolfram, who came up with an answer overnight, and also tasked his son with writing much of the computer code seen on displays in the movie. Slashdot reader mirandakatz brings us Wolfram's story: Christopher was well aware that code shown in movies often doesn't make sense (a favorite, regardless of context, seems to be the source code for nmap.c in Linux). But he wanted to create code that would make sense, and would actually do the analyses that would be going on in the movie... For instance, there's a nice shot of rearranging alien "handwriting," in which one sees a Wolfram Language notebook with rather elegant Wolfram Language code in it. And, yes, those lines of code actually do the transformation that's in the notebook. It's real stuff, with real computations being done...

For the movie, I wanted to have a particular theory for interstellar travel. And who knows, maybe one day in the distant future it'll turn out to be correct. But as of now, we certainly don't know. In fact, for all we know, there's just some simple "hack" in existing physics that'll immediately make interstellar travel possible.

Wolfram's theory posited that space is just one of the attributes emerging from a low-level network of nodes, where long-range connections occasionally break out of three-dimensional space altogether. His 6,900-word essay (originally published on his blog) also suggests film-making has "some structural similarities" with software development -- and grapples with the question of how we'd actually communicate with aliens once they've arrived.
Google

Just in Time for Daydream, YouTube Launches Its Standalone VR App (techcrunch.com) 18

An anonymous reader writes: Coinciding with the debut of Google's new Daydream View VR headset, YouTube this morning announced the launch of its YouTube VR app, which is available first on Daydream. The standalone application turns all of YouTube's content into an immersive experience, even if the videos weren't built for VR viewing. To do so, YouTube VR will display standard videos in a virtual movie screen in app's new theater mode. Of course, 360 degree videos on YouTube will work best in this app. In the theater mode, the video itself fills the main portion of the screen, while video information -- like the title and description -- is off on one side. The other side of the screen displays your queue so you can see what's coming up next. Player controls are down at the bottom. This way, you can watch and browse at the same time, says Google.
Microsoft

Microsoft is Adding a Virtual Trackpad To Windows 10 (theverge.com) 15

Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 10 build 14965 to Windows Insiders. Among other noticeable inclusions, the new build comes with a virtual trackpad for users with a touch-capable Windows 10 machine. The Verge adds: Microsoft describes the feature as a way to control external monitors with a tablet and no mouse. It's designed to sit in the taskbar, if selected, and provide a virtual trackpad on the screen that can be used to control the mouse and right-click or left-click options. You can now enable a touchpad icon in the notification area, and you can tweak the trackpad gestures in the main Windows 10 settings panel. It's an interesting addition that will be welcomed by Windows 10 tablets users that aren't using a keyboard or trackpad, or those who connect tablets up to second displays regularly.Microsoft reporter Tom Warren has made a short video to demonstrate the feature.
Software

New Software Remembers Everything Your Computer Has Ever Displayed (cnn.com) 117

A Napster co-founder launched a new software this week which lets you search for anything you've ever looked at on your computer. schwit1 shared this report from CNNMoney: Atlas Informatics Founder and CEO Jordan Ritter calls the software "a photographic memory for your digital life"... This includes web pages, emails, Slack chats, Netflix films, Spotify songs, or anything else that's appeared in front of your eyes on your screen... You can search by keyword, content type or time, and it displays all related information based on relevancy. For instance, if two documents were open at the same time and you toggled between them, they will both appear whether or not they contain a keyword. Once installed on your hard drive and browser, Atlas Recall runs in the background and begins collecting your activity. The company captures all the content you've looked at and stores it on its servers.
It's encrypted before transmission to the Atlas Cloud servers, though you can block it from capturing data from certain applications, files, and web sites. "The platform wars are over, nobody won, and no one will ever win them again..." Ritter told CNNMoney. "What we want is something that works the way we use our devices and data."
Intel

Intel Wants To Replace Fireworks With Drones (marketwatch.com) 94

Intel has announced a drone called the "Shooting Star" that has the potential to augment or replace fireworks. The drone weighs about as much as a volleyball and can light up in 4 billion color combinations for commercial entertainment light shows. MarketWatch reports: Whether drone-focused light shows will prove to be more cost-efficient is a bigger question. The devices would only have to be purchased once, but would likely cost much more than a standard small-scale fireworks show. Small-town holiday fireworks displays typically cost about $2,000 to $7,000 for a basic show, according to Premier Pyrotechnics, while the city of Houston spent an estimated $100,000 on its 2016 Fourth of July fireworks show, according to Houston Business Journal. On a grander scale, estimates suggest Macy's Inc. may spend $6 million on its annual Fourth of July fireworks show. Intel's drones are not publicly for sale, and the chip maker would not disclose how much they would cost. For now, the drones are proof of the ability to automate multiple drone flights at once, using software that could be adapted to commercial applications like mapping or inspections.
Iphone

Future iPhones Could Fold In Half (geek.com) 95

Apple has just received a patent, titled "electronic devices with carbon nanotube printing circuits," that suggests future iPhones may be foldable -- at least to some degree. Geek reports: Based on the language in the patent, it doesn't sound like Apple is specifically talking about a device that has a fully bendable display. It mentions one that can bend "along edges of touch sensors or displays." The carbon nanotube PCBs provide flexibility for some of the phone's internals, but not all of them. Those other parts will likely be covered by other patents if Apple is genuinely working on a seamless foldable device. The usual caveats apply here. For now, this is simply yet another patent padding Apple's already massive portfolio. Could they be planning to release an iPhone that folds in half? Definitely.

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