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Microsoft

Microsoft Details Its 24-Core 'Holographic Processor' Used In HoloLens (pcworld.com) 56

The processor powering Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset has been a mystery -- until now. During the annual Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, Microsoft revealed some juicy details about the secretive chip. PCWorld reports: "The HoloLens' HPU is a custom 28nm coprocessor designed by TSMC, The Register reports. The chip packs 24 Tensilica digital signal processor (DSP) cores. As opposed to more general-purpose CPU cores, DSPs are a specialized technology designed for rapidly processing data flowing in from the world -- a no doubt invaluable asset while rendering augmented reality environments in real time. Microsoft's HPU also contains roughly 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SDRAM, and 1GB of traditional DDR3 RAM. It draws less than 10W of power, and features PCIe and standard serial interfaces. The HPU's dedicated hardware is up to 200 times faster than performing the same calculations via software on the less-specialized 14nm Intel Cherry Trail CPU. Microsoft added custom instructions to the DSP cores that allow the HPU to churn through HoloLens-specific tasks even faster, The Register reports. The HPU can perform roughly 1 trillion calculations per second, and the data it passes to the CPU requires little additional processing."
Google

Google Search Removes 'Mobile-Friendly' Label, Will Tackle Interstitials Next (venturebeat.com) 50

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced two updates to mobile search results: an aesthetic one rolling out now and an algorithmic one coming next year. The former consists of removing the "mobile-friendly" label in search results and the latter will punish mobile sites that use interstitials. The goal is to "make finding content easier for users," though as always, the company didn't share exactly how much of an impact users and webmasters can expect. The report adds: "If your site is in the 15 percent group, here's a quick recap. A webpage is considered 'mobile friendly' if it meets the following criteria, as detected in real time by Googlebot: Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash; Uses text that is readable without zooming; Sizes content to the screen so users don't have to scroll horizontally or zoom; Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped. The company now wants to tackle 'intrusive interstitials' as they 'provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible.' After January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible when coming from mobile search results 'may not rank as highly.' Interstitials that Google doesn't like include showing a popup that covers the main content (immediately or delayed), displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content, and using a layout where the above-the-fold portion is similar to a standalone interstitial but the original content is inlined underneath. Interstitials that Google deems OK include legal obligations (cookie usage or for age verification), login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable, and banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible."
Operating Systems

Linux Turns 25, Is Bigger and More Professional Than Ever (arstechnica.com) 281

The Linux operating system kernel is 25 years old this month, ArsTechnica writes. It was August 25, 1991 when Linus Torvalds posted his famous message announcing the project, claiming that Linux was "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu." From the article: But now, Linux is far bigger and more professional than Torvalds could have imagined. Linux powers huge portions of the Internet's infrastructure, corporate data centers, websites, stock exchanges, the world's most widely used smartphone operating system, and nearly all of the world's fastest supercomputers. The successes easily outweigh Linux's failure to unseat Microsoft and Apple on PCs, but Linux has still managed to get on tens of millions of desktops and laptops and Linux software even runs on Windows.Do you use any Linux-based operating system? Share your experience with it. What changes would you want to see in it in the next five years?
Businesses

Interviews: Ask Raspberry Pi Founder and CEO Eben Upton a Question 124

It's been roughly five years since we last interviewed the founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd., Eben Upton. Eben currently serves as a technical director and ASIC architect for Broadcom. He founded the Raspberry Pi Foundation in 2009 to develop and market a $25 microcomputer for education. He has also founded two successful mobile games and middleware companies, Ideaworks 3d Ltd. and Podfun Ltd., and served a Director of Studies for computer science at St. John's College, Cambridge. Ebon has agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule and answer some of your questions.

You may ask Eben as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per comment. We'll pick the very best questions and forward them to Eben Upton himself. (Feel free to leave your suggestions for who Slashdot should interview next.)

Go on, don't be shy!
Android

Google Begins Rolling Out Android 7.0 Nougat (venturebeat.com) 157

An anonymous reader writes: Google today started rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat to existing Nexus devices via an over-the-air software update. This is a gradual rollout: The Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and General Mobile 4G (Android One) will all be updated, but " it may take several weeks" before everyone gets the latest and greatest, a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat.The Nexus 5 (2013), which packs in a Snapdragon 800 SoC coupled with 2GB of RAM and 5-inch full-HD display, won't be receiving Android Nougat update -- despite having all the hardware capabilities required for a phone to receive Google's latest OS update. The truth of the matter is if Google wanted to update the Nexus 5 with the latest Android software, it could have. It just chose not to. It's very likely that same will be the case for the Nexus 6, a phone that has 3GB of RAM, and Snapdragon 805 SoC, next year when the company releases Android O update.
Debian

Systemd Rolls Out Its Own Mount Tool (phoronix.com) 522

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: I'm surprised this hasn't surfaced on Slashdot already, but yesterday Phoronix reported that systemd will soon be handling file system mounts, along with all the other stuff that systemd has encompassed. The report generated the usual systemd arguments over on Reddit.com/r/linux with Lennart Poettering, systemd developer and architect, chiming in with a few clarifications.
Lennart argued it will greatly improve the handling of removable media like USB sticks.
Microsoft

Ask Slashdot: How Will You Handle Microsoft's New 'Cumulative' Windows Updates? (slashdot.org) 392

Microsoft's announced they'll discontinue "individual patches" for Windows 7 and 8.1 (as well as Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2). Instead they'll have monthly "cumulative" rollups of each month's patches, and while there will be a separate "security-only" bundle each month, "individual patches will no longer be available." This has one anonymous Slashdot reader asking what's the alternative: We've read about the changes coming to Windows Update in October 2016... But what happens when it's time to wipe and reload the OS? Or what about installing Windows on different hardware? Admittedly, there are useful non-security updates worth having, but plenty to avoid (e.g. telemetry).

How does one handle this challenge? Set up a personal WSUS box before October to sync all desired updates through October 2016? System images can work if you don't change primary hardware, but what if you do? Or should one just bend the knee to Microsoft...?

Should they use AutoPatcher? Switch to Linux? Or just disconnect their Windows boxes from the internet... Leave your answers in the comments. How do you plan to handle Microsoft's new 'cumulative' Windows Updates?
KDE

KDE Edition Beta Released For Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' (fossbytes.com) 36

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' KDE Edition Beta is now available for download and testing. This release is based on the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel and KDE Plasma 5.6 desktop environment. The final release of this widely popular distro is expected to arrive in September... Just like MATE, Cinnamon, and Xfce releases, the KDE release is a long term release that will remain supported until 2021.

Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' KDE Edition ships with Mozilla Firefox as default web browser and LibreOffice as the default office suite. The Linux distro also features a wide range of popular KDE apps like Kontact, Dolphin, Gwenview, KMail, digiKam, KTorrent, Skanlite, Konversation, K3b, Konsole, Amarok, Ark, Kate, Okular, and Dragon Player.

"Unlike other Linux Mint editions, the KDE edition will ship with the SDDM display manager," reports the Linux Mint blog. Distrowatch notes that it's based on Ubuntu 16.04, and suggests "Mint's 'KDE' flavour might turn out to be the most interesting of the bunch, especially if the project's usually excellent quality assurance is applied to this edition in the same manner as in its 'MATE' and 'Cinnamon' variants."
KDE

Ask Slashdot: Is KDE Dying? 505

A long-time loyal KDE user "always felt that it was the more complete and integrated of the many Linux desktop environments...thus having the most potential to win over new Linux converts." And while still using KDE exclusively without any major functional issues, now Slashdot reader fwells shares concerns about the future of desktop development, along with a personal opinion -- that KDE is becoming stale and stagnant: KDE-Look.org, once a fairly vibrant and active contributory site, has become a virtual ghost town... Various core KDE components and features are quite broken and have been so for some time... KDEPIM/KMail frankly seems targeted specifically at the poweruser, maintaining over many years its rather plain and arguably retro interface. The Konqueror web browser has been a virtual carcass for several years, yet it mysteriously remains an integral component...

So, back to my opening question... Is KDE Dying? Has innovation and development evaporated in a development world dominated by the mobile device? And, if so, can it be reinvigorated? Will the pendulum ever swing back? Can it? Should it?

The original submission has some additional thoughts on Windows 10 and desktop development -- but also specific complaints about KDE's Recent Items/Application Launcher History and the KDE theming engine (which "seems disjointed and rather non-intuitive".) The argument seems to be that KDE lacks curb appeal to fulfill that form-over-function preference of the larger community of users, so instead it's really retaining the practical appeal of "my 12 year old Chevy truck, feature rich for its time... Solid and reliable, but definitely starting to fade and certainly lacking some modern creature comforts."

So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does desktop development need to be reinvigorated in a world focused on mobile devices -- and if so, what is its future? And is KDE slowly dying?
Windows

Microsoft Announces 'Cumulative' Updates Will Become Mandatory For Windows 7 and 8.1 (microsoft.com) 275

Microsoft's now changing the way updates are delivered for Windows 7 and 8.1. Slashdot reader JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Microsoft's Senior Product Marketing Manager Nathan Mercer just announced that, "From October 2016 onwards, Windows will release a single Monthly Rollup that addresses both security issues and reliability issues in a single update... Each month's rollup will supersede the previous month's rollup, so there will always be only one update required for your Windows PCs to get current."

What this means is that individual patches will no longer be available after October 2016, and Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will now only have two choices: stop updating completely and leave your computers vulnerable to security holes, or accept everything single thing Microsoft sends you whether you want it or not.

Microsoft says their new approach "increases Windows operating system reliability, by eliminating update fragmentation and providing more proactive patches for known issues." They added that "Several update types aren't included in a rollup, such as those for Servicing Stack and Adobe Flash," and that "the .NET Framework will also follow the Monthly Rollup model." According to Microsoft's blog post, they'll also be releasing a monthly "security-only" update, but again, "individual patches will no longer be available".
GUI

Fedora 25 To Run Wayland By Default Instead Of X.Org Server (phoronix.com) 151

An anonymous reader writes: Fedora 25 will finally be the first release for this Linux distribution -- and the first tier-one desktop Linux OS at large -- that is going ahead and using Wayland by default. Wayland has been talked about for years as a replacement to the xorg-server and finally with the upcoming Fedora 25 release this is expected to become a reality. The X.Org Server will still be present on Fedora systems for those running into driver problems or other common issues.
Fedora's steering committee agreed to the change provided the release notes "are clear about how to switch back to X11 if needed." In addition, according to the Fedora Project's wiki, "The code will automatically fall back to Xorg in cases where Wayland is unavailable (like NVIDIA)."
Chrome

Google Will Kill Chrome Apps For Windows, Mac, and Linux In Early 2018 (venturebeat.com) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced plans to kill off Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. Chrome extensions and themes will not be affected, while Chrome apps will continue to live on in Chrome OS. Here's the deprecation timeline:

Late 2016: Newly published Chrome apps will not be available to Windows, Mac, and Linux users (when developers submit apps to the Chrome Web Store, they will only show up for Chrome OS). Existing Chrome apps will remain available as they are today and developers can continue to update them.
Second half of 2017: The Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Early 2018: Chrome apps will not load on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
There appears to be two main reasons why Google is killing Chrome apps off now. First, as Google explains in a blog post: "For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn't provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap. Since then, we've worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers." Secondly, Chrome apps aren't very popular: "Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux will therefore be removing support for packaged and hosted apps over the next two years."
Open Source

Microsoft PowerShell Goes Open Source and Lands On Linux and Mac (pcworld.com) 396

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it is open sourcing PowerShell, its system administration, scripting, and configuration management tool that has been a default part of Windows for several years. The company says it will soon release PowerShell on Mac and Linux platforms. PCWorld reports: The company is also releasing alpha versions of PowerShell for Linux (specifically Ubuntu, Centos and Redhat) and Mac OS X. A new PowerShell GitHub page gives people the ability to download binaries of the software, as well as access to the app's source code. PowerShell on Linux and Mac will let people who have already built proficiency with Microsoft's scripting language take those skills and bring them to new platforms. Meanwhile, people who are used to working on those platforms will have access to a new and very powerful tool for getting work done. It's part of Microsoft's ongoing moves to open up products that the company has previously kept locked to platforms that it owned. The company's open sourcing of its .NET programming frameworks in 2014 paved the way for this launch, by making the building blocks of PowerShell available on Linux and OS X. By making PowerShell available on Linux, Microsoft has taken the skills of Windows administrators who are already used to the software, and made them more marketable. It has also made it possible for hardcore Linux users to get access to an additional set of tools that they can use to manage a variety of systems.
Google

Oracle Says Trial Wasn't Fair, It Should Have Known About Google Play For Chrome (arstechnica.com) 181

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.
Operating Systems

Linux Kernel 4.6 Has Reached End of Life, Users Urged To Move To Linux 4.7.1 67

Reader prisoninmate writes: Immediately after announcing the availability of the first point release for the Linux 4.7 kernel series, Greg Kroah-Hartman also informed the community about the launch of Linux kernel 4.6.7, which is the seventh maintenance update for the Linux 4.6 stable kernel branch, but it also looks like it's the last one for the series, which has now officially reached end of life. Therefore, if you're using a GNU/Linux operating system powered by a kernel from the Linux 4.6 branch, you are urged to move to Linux kernel 4.7 as soon as possible by installing the brand new Linux kernel 4.7.1 build.
Medicine

Startup Aims To Commercialize a Brain Implant To Improve Memory (ieee.org) 85

the_newsbeagle writes: Neuroscientist Ted Berger has achieved some remarkable feats in his work on an implanted brain prosthetic to boost memory. Working with rats, he recorded the electrical signals associated with a specific memory from one animal's brain, then inserted that signal -- and thus the memory -- into another animal's brain. Working with monkeys, the implanted device enhanced the animals' recall in difficult memory tasks.

Still, it's startling to learn that a startup is ready to commercialize Berger's work, and is trying to build a memory prosthetic for humans suffering from Alzheimer's, brain injuries, and stroke. The new company, named Kernel, will fund human trials and develop electrodes that can record from and stimulate more brain cells.
"An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory," writes Eliza Strickland via IEEE Spectrum.
Security

Windows UAC Bypass Permits Code Execution (threatpost.com) 79

msm1267 writes from a report via Threatpost: A Windows UAC bypass has been publicly disclosed that not only bypasses the security feature meant to prevent unauthorized installs, but can be used to run code on compromised machines without leaving a trace on the hard disk. The bypass relies on Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe), a native Windows feature used to view event logs locally or remotely. Researcher Matt Nelson said he figured out a way to use eventvwr to hijack a registry process, start Powershell and execute commands on Windows machines; he collaborated with fellow researcher Matt Graeber on a proof-of-concept exploit, which was tested against Windows 7 and 10. A report published today by Nelson said it would work against any version of the OS that implements UAC. An attacker would already need to be on the machine to use this technique, Nelson said. The attack allows an admin user to execute code in a high-integrity context without requiring the user to approve the administrative action via the UAC pop-up. Microsoft, the researcher said, does not consider UAC bypasses a security boundary worthy of a bulletin and patch. It's unclear how Microsoft will address this issue.
Intel

Intel's Joule is Its Most Powerful Dev Kit Yet (engadget.com) 55

Devindra Hardawar, writing for Engadget: We've seen plenty of unique dev kits from Intel, including the SD card-sized Edison, but not one as powerful as this. Intel announced Joule today, a tiny maker board that will allow developers to test RealSense-powered concepts and, hopefully, bring the to the market faster than before. The company says the tiny, low-powered Joule would be ideal for testing concepts in robotics, AR, VR, industrial IoT and a slew of other industries. And it also looks like it could be an interesting way for students to dabble in RealSense's depth-sensing technology in schools. There will be two Joule kits to choose from: the 550x, which includes a 1.5GHz quad-core Atom T5500 processor, 3GB of RAM and 8GB of storage; and the 570x, which packs in a 1.7Ghz quad-core Atom T5700 CPU (with burst speeds up to 2.4GHz), 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Both models include "laptop-class" 802.11AC wireless, Intel graphics with 4K capture and display support, and a Linux-based OS.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Bad Programming Ideas That Work? (infoworld.com) 671

snydeq writes: Cheaper, faster, better side effects -- sometimes a bad idea in programming is better than just good enough, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner: "Some ideas, schemes, or architectures may truly stink, but they may also be the best choice for your project. They may be cheaper or faster, or maybe it's too hard to do things the right way. In other words, sometimes bad is simply good enough. There are also occasions when a bad idea comes with a silver lining. It may not be the best approach, but it has such good side-effects that it's the way to go. If we're stuck going down a suboptimal path to programming hell, we might as well make the most of whatever gems may be buried there." What bad programming ideas have you found useful enough to make work in your projects? Don't be shy or ashamed, we all want to hear your responses!
Encryption

Serious Flaws In iMessage Crypto Allow For Message Decryption (onthewire.io) 43

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: New research from a team at Johns Hopkins University shows that there are serious problems with the way Apple implemented encryption on its iMessage system, leaving it open to retrospective decryption attacks that can reveal the contents of all of a victim's past iMessage texts. The iMessage system, like much of what Apple does, is opaque and its inner workings have not been made available to outsiders. One of the key things that is known about the system is that messages are encrypted from end to end and Apple has said that it does not have the ability to decrypt users' messages. The researchers at JHU, led by Matthew Green, a professor of computer science at the school, reverse engineered the iMessage protocol and discovered that Apple made some mistakes in its encryption implementation that could allow an attacker who has access to encrypted messages to decrypt them.The team discovered that Apple doesn't rotate encryption keys at regular intervals (most encryption protocols such as OTR and Signal do). This means that the same attack can be used on iMessage historical data, which is often backed up inside iCloud. Apple was notified of the issue as early as November 2015 and it rolled out a patch for the iMessage protocol in iOS 9.3 and OS X 10.11.4.

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