Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for February 1st, 2017

Facebook shows no sign of stopping, now has 1.86 billion users

Posted by kenmay on February - 1 - 2017

Facebook is under quite a bit of pressure of late. It’s trying to fix the rise of fake news and clickbait on its News Feed and, more recently, it’s had to deal with the Zenimax lawsuit against Oculus . But all of that hasn’t eaten into Facebook’s bottom line. As its Q4 2016 earnings report shows, the company once again raked in cash hand over fist, with $8.8 billion in revenue and $3.56 billion in profit. Its user growth also continues to climb, with 1.86 billion monthly users and 1.74 billion logging in on mobile. Mobile advertising made up 84 percent of its revenue last quarter. Those numbers are pretty good when you look at daily users too. The company reports that 1.23 billion people use Facebook everyday, with 1.15 billion doing so from mobile devices. Still, the growth is only up 3.91 percent from last quarter, which is slightly slower than the 4.67 percent reported a few months ago. Also, while $8.8 billion is certainly a hefty amount, it’ll lose around $500 million due to the Zenimax lawsuit payout announced earlier today. For the whole of 2016, Facebook made close to $27 billion, which is an increase of 57 percent from the previous year. Much of the growth can be attributed to expansions of Facebook properties like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. We’ll report more from the earnings call later today. Developing…

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ZeniMax Awarded a Half Billion in Lawsuit Against Facebook

Posted by kenmay on February - 1 - 2017

ZeniMax, the owner of game studios Bethestha Softworks and id Software has been awarded $500 million by a jury in its lawsuit against Oculus Virtual Reality and its parent company, Facebook. Read more…

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BMW’s all-new 2017 5 series stirs up a technology tsunami

Posted by kenmay on February - 1 - 2017

Jim Resnick Pleasing widely diverse masters can be a death sentence. For BMW’s newest 2017 5 series sedan, competing interests tug on it in a multitude of different directions. The traditional BMW enthusiast who factors fun first needs all the best of BMW’s driving machine DNA—and needs it close to the skin. Those needy for general luxury prefer isolation rather than inclusion in the driving process. The tech-focused need digital entertainment. So this is a veritable three-ring circus of sport sedan requirements. BMW’s last-generation 5 series garnered mixed feelings, so with the all-new G30 platform 5 series, BMW hopes to reboot impressions, and we’ve driven it. Launching globally on February 11, the new 5 is actually a bit lighter than the last iteration, BMW quoting a weight loss of as much as 137lb (62kg) from the outgoing model, depending on exact model compared. The new 5 also comes out of the starting gate with several engine configurations. The bottom of the range here in the US is the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, issuing 248hp (185kW) and 258lb-ft (350Nm) in the 530i, netting acceleration to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds or 5.8 when equipped with BMW’s “xDrive” all-wheel-drive. A 3.0L, 335hp (265kW) inline six, which also generates 332lb-ft (450Nm) of torque, powers the 540i to 60mph in just 4.9 seconds or 4.7 seconds with xDrive. Later this spring, the M550i with all-wheel drive will debut, powered by a 456hp (347kW) turbocharged V8 packing 480lb-ft (650Nm) of torque, promising even quicker, 3.9-second 0 to 60 blasts, quicker than the outgoing M5. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Matter-antimatter asymmetry confirmed in baryons

Posted by kenmay on February - 1 - 2017

The LHCb detector. (credit: Fermilab ) Everyone, at some point in their lives, wonders why they are here. Existential questions don’t stop at the personal level, though. Why is there a Universe, and why is it filled with matter? The last question is a puzzle that has gainfully occupied the minds of and employed physicists for many years. The time spent pondering such questions has not been wasted, as it turns out, as researchers from the LHCb detector report  that one of the theoretical paths that allows matter to outnumber antimatter is open for business. An overly simple reading of the Standard Model of physics predicts that matter will be produced at the same rate as antimatter. The antimatter and matter should, through simple statistics, collide and wipe each other out, leaving only energy. But that didn’t happen. The substance we label matter was, somehow, produced in greater abundance than antimatter. In the beginnings of the Universe, antimatter was eliminated, leaving only matter. A closer look at the Standard Model reveals that some imbalance is expected. But it also predicts a Universe with much less matter than we observe. And, experimentally, we’ve only observed the relevant matter/antimatter asymmetry for a particular class of particles, called mesons. That notably leaves out the particles that make up the Universe, called baryons. Luckily, baryon asymmetry is exactly what one of the LHC detectors, called LHCb, is designed to investigate. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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An anonymous reader shares a report: A new month, and a brand new version of open-source office suite LibreOffice is now available to download. And what a release it is. LibreOffice 5.3 introduces a number of key new features and continues work on improving the look and feel of the app across all major platforms. The Document Foundation describes LibreOffice 5.3 as “one of the most feature-rich releases in the history of the application.” One of the headline features is called MUFFIN interface, a new toolbar design similar to the Microsoft Office Ribbon UI. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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(credit: Aurich Lawson) New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today filed a lawsuit against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary, claiming that the Internet provider “allegedly conduct[ed] a deliberate scheme to defraud and mislead New Yorkers by promising Internet service that they knew they could not deliver.” State officials said they conducted a 16-month investigation that reviewed internal corporate communications “and hundreds of thousands of subscriber speed tests,” concluding that Spectrum-TWC customers were “dramatically short-changed on both speed and reliability,” the attorney general’s announcement said . The 87-page summons and complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court is available here . “The suit alleges that subscribers’ wired Internet speeds for the premium plan (100, 200, and 300 Mbps) were up to 70 percent slower than promised; Wi-Fi speeds were even slower, with some subscribers getting speeds that were more than 80 percent slower than what they had paid for,” the announcement said. “As alleged in the complaint, Spectrum-TWC charged New Yorkers as much as $109.99 per month for premium plans [that] could not achieve speeds promised in their slower plans.” Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Your ability to run 32-bit apps on an iOS device is coming to an end. As several other Apple news sites have reported, Apple has updated the pop-up warning in the iOS 10.3 beta to say that the 32-bit app you’re running “will not work with future versions of iOS.” The warning goes on to say that the “developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility.” From a ComputerWorld article (edited for clarity): In October 2014, Apple told developers that all new apps created after February 1, 2015 must have 64-bit support. Shortly after, Apple announced that all updates to apps must also be 64-bit compatible. Any 32-bit apps submitted to Apple after June 2015 would be rejected. Last September, Apple announced that it was going to remove apps from the App Store that did not “function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines, or are outdated.” Presumably, this would include apps that did not meet the 64-bit requirement. Apple does not state which version of iOS will be 64-bit only, but since this is a major development, you can probably assume that this will happen in iOS 11. An announcement will likely be made during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this summer. The switch to 64-bit only support means that older iOS devices built on 32-bit architecture will not be able to upgrade to the new iOS. This includes the iPhone 5, 5c, and older, the standard version of the iPad (so not the Air or the Pro), and the first iPad mini. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: When it launched late last year, the new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar was largely reliant on first-party applications to show off what it could do. Since then, a number of other companies have jumped on board, helping the secondary screen grow into something more than novelty. Of course, as with any new technology, there’s going to be some unanticipated downside. Test taking software company Examsoft, for one, believes the input device could help facilitate cheating among students taking the bar exam. What’s perhaps most interesting here, is that the company’s calling out one of Touch Bar’s more mundane features: predictive text. “By default, ” the company writes, “the Touch Bar will show predictive text depending on what the student is typing, compromising exam integrity.” It’s hard to say precisely how the company expects a standard feature on mobile devices to help students pass one of the more notoriously exam out there, but The Next Web notes that some states have already taken action. North Carolina, for one, has required test takers with the new model MacBooks to disable the Touch Bar, while New York is banning the machines altogether. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Source-code hub Gitlab.com is in meltdown after experiencing data loss as a result of what it has suddenly discovered are ineffectual backups. On Tuesday evening, Pacific Time, the startup issued the sobering series of tweets, starting with “We are performing emergency database maintenance, GitLab.com will be taken offline” and ending with “We accidentally deleted production data and might have to restore from backup. Google Doc with live notes [link].” Behind the scenes, a tired sysadmin, working late at night in the Netherlands, had accidentally deleted a directory on the wrong server during a frustrating database replication process: he wiped a folder containing 300GB of live production data that was due to be replicated. Just 4.5GB remained by the time he canceled the rm -rf command. The last potentially viable backup was taken six hours beforehand. That Google Doc mentioned in the last tweet notes: “This incident affected the database (including issues and merge requests) but not the git repos (repositories and wikis).” So some solace there for users because not all is lost. But the document concludes with the following: “So in other words, out of 5 backup/replication techniques deployed none are working reliably or set up in the first place.” At the time of writing, GitLab says it has no estimated restore time but is working to restore from a staging server that may be “without webhooks” but is “the only available snapshot.” That source is six hours old, so there will be some data loss. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The 3D platformer Donkey Kong 64 was lauded for its expansive worlds and multitude of well-hidden collectibles when it launched on the Nintendo 64 in 1999. Like many games of the era, it has enjoyed a peculiar afterlife as speedrunners blitz through it in record time under various conditions, like picking up each of the 976 banana coins found within. Unfortunately, all those completionist runs now seem to be invalid: 17 years after the game came out, streamer Isotarge has found a 977th coin. Turns out the collectible was hidden underground in the game’s fifth level, Fungi Forest, but the telltale patch of dirt indicating buried treasure in the game was hidden by a patch of tall grass. Isotarge was examining save data for that stage and discovered that the information for a particular pickup, rainbow coins, was incomplete. Using analysis tools, they pinpointed its location and unearthed it. While Isotarge is no stranger to using glitches to find out-of-bounds items likely leftover by developers, this particular coin is in fair territory and can be plucked from the ground using an ordinary character move. @Znernicus yes, times have been removed in All Collectables, 949 banana coins (now 974), Fungi coins, DK coins, All Rainbow Coins — Bismuth

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