Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May 17th, 2017

Android O beta is available to download today

Posted by kenmay on May - 17 - 2017

It wouldn’t be Google’s annual developer conference without the birth of the latest version of Android, would it? 2017 sees the company announcing Android O, an operating system that’s not really about flashy features. Instead, the software is all about making the user’s experience that much easier and better, thanks to weirdly-named concepts like “Fluid Experiences” and “Vitals.” We’ve already seen big chunks of Android O, which has been available in developer preview form since March. Much of Google’s effort has been behind the scenes, reducing battery drain, improving notifications and joining up its platforms to make the experience that much more seamless. Some of these features are covered by Fluid Experiences, which includes a picture-in-picture mode, the aforementioned new notifications and Google’s smart text selection / autofill. In addition, Android O is packing a “lite” version of Tensorflow , software that enables computers to learn quicker than ever before. In the Vitals column, there’s faster boot and app load times, as well as Play Console Dashboards and Android Studio Profilers. Android O is also getting Google Play Protect , a raft of new security features to protect your device from security threats with a built-in device finder. One of the biggest cheers at I/O went up when the company announced that Android O would support the Kotlin programming language. In the run up to I/O, we also learned about other features that Android O will be boasting, including a technology called ” Copyless Pasting .” In addition, Google recently lifted the lid on Project Treble , which will apparently ease the pain of getting updates pushed out to various handsets. The Android O beta is available to download from today and will be available for everyone later this year. This is a developing news story, please refresh the page for more information. For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here

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Android Go is streamlined for cheap phones

Posted by kenmay on May - 17 - 2017

It’s no secret that Google has been working on improving its apps and operating system for those using less-powerful devices or unreliable connections. It’s optimized its apps to use less data and memory, but now it’s expanding its focus OS-wide. At its developer conference today , Google previewed a version of something the company has been calling Android Go, and it’s supposed to work well even on devices with less than 1GB of onboard memory. Google says Go will ship “as an experience” in 2018, which means manufacturers will potentially start making handsets with the lighter OS after that. According to Google, “Android Go is designed with features relevant for people who have limited data connectivity and speak multiple languages.” It’s basically optimized to run smoothly on entry-level devices that are running at least Android O . This works in part by designing apps like Chrome, Gboard and YouTube Go so that they use “less memory, storage space and mobile data.” Gboard, in particular, will make it easier to type in several different languages via transliteration. You can type the phonetic spelling of words in other languages, and the software will show you characters in the native language. This targets regional markets where low-cost phones thrive, such as India and South America. Android Go will also include a version of the Play Store that will show the entire app catalog, but it will highlight apps that have developers have finetuned for Go. Considering most budget smartphones today boast at least 2GB of RAM, the new software will likely bring Android to even cheaper devices than before. According to Google, there are already two billion monthly active devices running Android, and making it easier to install on lower-end handsets will help the company reach “the next billion users.” For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here

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Last year at Moogfest , the namesake synth maker set up a temporary instrument factory to crank our its Model D reissue . For the 2017 installment of the analog soiree, Moog is building another synthesizer on-site in Durham, North Carolina, but this time it’s a retooled version of the more compact Sub 37 . Officially dubbed the Subsequent 37 CV, this new model carries a similar overall construction as its predecessor. However, the front panel is now silver and the side panels are solid aluminum with inset North American hardwood. I won’t be shy about it: This thing is a beaut. “We were inspired to create the Subsequent 37 CV by, or due to, all the feedback we received from players who were in love with the deep modulation capabilities of the sub 37 and wanted to bring that expressivity out to the other gear in their studio, ” explains Moog engineer Amos Gaynes. The “CV” in the model name refers to the four assignable control voltage outputs on the side that sit next to two assignable gate outputs. Those connections allow you to connect the Subsequent 37 CV to much more robust modular systems. Moog also revamped the keybed for increased playability and upgraded headphone amp for live monitoring with high-quality sound. The company also modified the analog signal path on this new piece of gear. “[Control Voltage] allows you to take an changing [electrical] signal from one place to and use it to control the properties of a different sound-making circuit, ” Gaines notes. “It’s important because it allows you to interconnect one thing and another. It allows you to freely connect sources of expression with the musical properties of your studio equipment.” He also explains a key advantage to analog: its responsiveness.”One really good thing about control voltage is that it’s direct and immediate, ” he says. “It’s much higher resolution than digital equivalents. It’s alive–it’s infinitely responsive.” In terms of changes to the sound profile, Moog retuned the Multidrive circuit for even more growl and a grittier sound than the original Sub 37. There’s also now more headroom in the mixer which improves the sound in Duo mode. In fact, Moog says there’s twice as much headroom on the Subsequent 37 CV than the Sub 37 Tribute Edition. And yes, that classic Mood Ladder Filter is still part of the tool box as are some familiar controls from that previous model — like 256 presets and 16 banks of 16 patches. “We took the opportunity when redesigning the instrument not only to add expressive CV output control, but to realize some of our long-held ambitions for the sound engine, ” Gaines says. The first 125 synthesizers will be built at Moogfest and feature presets from artists like 808 State. Those units will be sold exclusively through Guitar Center at the event between May 18-21. Moogfest in Durham. If you can’t make the trip on short notice to take in the event in person, Moog plans to sell 2, 000 of the instruments total, so you’ll have a shot at nabbing one after this weekend. If you’re able to find one, you’ll need to hand over $1, 799 in order to take it home.

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The United States Senate has been taking cybersecurity more seriously than ever before, thanks to the DNC leaks and various government cyberattacks. Senate Sergeant at Arms Frank J. Larkin and his team have recently finished encrypting all Senators’ websites, and it turns out he has also approved Signal for official use by Senate staff members. Sen. Ron Wyden, a privacy and encryption advocate, has revealed that Larkin’s office has given one of the most secure messaging apps out there its seal of approval in a letter thanking the Sergeant at Arms for his efforts. While the letter was sent on May 9th, ZDNet says staff members were first allowed to use the app for official business back in March. That the current administration would approve Signal for official use came as somewhat of a surprise. Back in February, House Republicans Darin LaHood and Lamar Smith demanded an investigation into the EPA’s use of secure messaging apps to secretly express their dissatisfaction with President Trump’s policies. They said encrypted conversations can “run afoul” of the government’s record-keeping rules. Nevertheless, Signal’s approval isn’t really groundbreaking. The National Archives and Records Administration told ZDNet that Senate staff members are exempt from those rules, so long as they don’t use encrypted apps for anything considered “historically valuable.” Via: ZDNet Source: Senator Ron Wyden

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Watts is a huge battery that powers your home

Posted by kenmay on May - 17 - 2017

 Like Tesla’s Powerwall, Watts is a big battery that can power your home. One Watts cell can support a few small appliances including computers and refrigerators and a few units can power TVs and electric washers. The units can charge via the grid or with solar panels and the Watts units include an app that shows discharge and battery remaining. The batteries, which were designed in… Read More

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Bell, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, said a hacker had accessed customer information containing about 1.9 million active email addresses and about 1, 700 names and active phone numbers. The breach was not connected to the recent global WannaCry malware attacks, the company added. From a report: The information appears to have been posted online, but the company could not confirm the leaked data was one and the same. “There is no indication that any financial, password or other sensitive personal information was accessed, ” the company wrote in a statement. Bell said the incident was unrelated to the massive spike in ransomware infections that affected an estimated 200, 000 computers in more than 150 countries late last week. It is not clear when the breach occurred, how the data was accessed, or how long the attacker had access to Bell’s systems. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Samsung sold over 5 million Galaxy S8 phones

Posted by kenmay on May - 17 - 2017

Samsung was quick to crow about Galaxy S8 pre-orders , but it was easy to be skeptical without real numbers to back up the bragging. Flash forward a few weeks, though, and it’s a different story. The company now reports that it has sold 5 million Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus devices worldwide since its April 21st debut — not bad for less than a month on the market, and only in a limited number of countries. It’s not certain which model was the most popular, though the regular S8’s lower price helps its chances. It’s hard to say how this stacks up to the Galaxy S7, although Samsung had noted that pre-orders were up 30 percent compared to a year ago. And other manufacturers? That’s tricky when most tend not to divulge model-specific data to avoid tipping their hand to competitors. The closest you get is Apple. It reported selling 50.8 million iPhones last quarter (about 16.9 million per month), but it’s not certain how many of those were iPhone 7 and 7 Plus units, let alone how many of them sold in April. Without directly comparable figures, it’d be difficult to declare a sales leader in high-end phones. As it is, Samsung is likely less concerned about raw numbers and more about its bottom line. In that sense, the S8 could easily be a success. Samsung racked up record operating profit in the quarter before the S8 stared shipping (albeit mainly on the back of chip sales), and the phone’s strong early showing is only bound to help. Via: Mashable Source: The Investor , ZDNet

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced what it is calling a big breakthrough — creating a prototype of a computer with a single bank of memory that can process enormous amounts of information. The computer, known as The Machine, is a custom-built device made for the era of big data. HPE said it has created the world’s largest single-memory computer. The R&D program is the largest in the history of HPE, the former enterprise division of HP that split apart from the consumer-focused division. If the project works, it could be transformative for society. But it is no small effort, as it could require a whole new kind of software. The prototype unveiled today contains 160 terabytes (TB) of memory, capable of simultaneously working with the data held in every book in the Library of Congress five times over — or approximately 160 million books. It has never been possible to hold and manipulate whole data sets of this size in a single-memory system, and this is just a glimpse of the immense potential of Memory-Driven Computing, HPE said. Based on the current prototype, HPE expects the architecture could easily scale to an exabyte-scale single-memory system and, beyond that, to a nearly limitless pool of memory — 4, 096 yottabytes. For context, that is 250, 000 times the entire digital universe today. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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