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Hardware

Samsung Unveils Chromebook Plus V2 (betanews.com) 73

Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: Samsung announces its latest such laptop -- the premium, yet affordable, Chromebook Plus (V2). This is a refresh of the first-gen "Plus" model. It can run Android apps and doubles as a convertible tablet, making it very versatile. Best of all, you won't have to wait long to get it -- it will go on sale very soon. "The Samsung Chromebook Plus (V2) puts productivity and entertainment at consumers' fingertips and at the tip of the built-in pen. At 2.91 pounds, its thin design makes it easy to slip into a bag and carry all day -- or use throughout the day with its extended battery life. Flipping its 12.2-inch FHD 1920x1080 resolution screen transforms it from notebook to tablet to sketchbook -- and back -- with two cameras for making it easier to stay connected with friends and sharing with the world. Plus, Chrome OS helps users get more done by providing access to millions of Android apps on Google Play," says Samsung. The Chromebook Plus, powered by Intel Celeron Processor 3965Y and 4GB of RAM, goes on sale later this month at $499.
Beer

Uber Seeks Patent For AI That Determines Whether Passengers Are Drunk (cnet.com) 102

In an effort to "reduce undesired consequences," Uber is seeking a patent that would use artificial intelligence to separate sober passengers from drunk ones. The pending application details a technology that would be used to spot "uncharacteristic user activity," including passenger location, number of typos entered into the mobile app, and even the angle the smartphone is being held. CNET reports: Uber said it had no immediate plans to implement the technology described in the proposed patent, pointing out the application was filed in 2016. "We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers," a spokesperson said. "We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features."
Privacy

Apple Tries To Stop Developers Sharing Data On Users' Friends (bloomberg.com) 21

Apple has updated its App Store guidelines to close a loophole that let app makers store and share data without many people's consent. The practice has "been employed for years," reports Bloomberg. "Developers ask users for access to their phone contacts, then use it for marketing and sometimes share or sell the information -- without permission from the other people listed on those digital address books." From the report: As Apple's annual developer conference got underway on June 4, the Cupertino, California-based company made many new pronouncements on stage, including new controls that limit tracking of web browsing. But the phone maker didn't publicly mention updated App Store Review Guidelines that now bar developers from making databases of address book information they gather from iPhone users. Sharing and selling that database with third parties is also now forbidden. And an app can't get a user's contact list, say it's being used for one thing, and then use it for something else -- unless the developer gets consent again. Anyone caught breaking the rules may be banned.

While Apple is acting now, the company can't go back and retrieve the data that may have been shared so far. After giving permission to a developer, an iPhone user can go into their settings and turn off apps' contacts permissions. That turns off the data faucet, but doesn't return information already gathered.

Debian

Systemd-Free Devuan 2.0 'ASCII' Officially Released (devuan.org) 313

"Dear Init Freedom Lovers..." begins the announcement at Devuan.org: We are happy to announce that Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 ASCII Stable is finally available. Devuan is a GNU+Linux distribution committed to providing a universal, stable, dependable, free software operating system that uses and promotes alternatives to systemd and its components.

Devuan 2.0 ASCII runs on several architectures. Installer CD and DVD ISOs, as well as desktop-live and minimal-live ISOs, are available for i386 and amd64. Ready-to-use images can be downloaded for a number of ARM platforms and SOCs, including Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, OrangePi, BananaPi, OLinuXino, Cubieboard, Nokia and Motorola mobile phones, and several Chromebooks, as well as for Virtualbox/QEMU/Vagrant. The Devuan 2.0 ASCII installer ISOs offer a variety of Desktop Environments including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQt, with others available post-install. The expert install mode now offers a choice of either SysVinit or OpenRC as init system...

We would like to thank the entire Devuan community for the continued support, feedback, and collaboration....

The release notes include information on Devuan's new network of package repository mirrors, and they're also touting their "direct and easy upgrade paths" from Devuan Jessie, Debian Jessie and Debian Stretch.
Power

Can An 'OS For Electricity' Double the Efficiency of the Grid? (vox.com) 147

New submitter mesterha shares an "interesting article [from Vox] on how to optimize our use of electricity": Waste on the grid is the result of poor power quality, which can be ameliorated through digital control. Real-time measurement makes that possible. 3DFS technology, which the company conceives of as an "operating system for electricity," can not only track what's happening on the electricity sine wave from nanosecond to nanosecond, it can correct the sine wave from microsecond to microsecond, perfectly adapting it to the load it serves, eliminating waste." "They claim energy reduction of around 15% but anticipate their AI tuning can get eventually get 30%," writes Slashdot reader mesterha. "Seems too good to be true, but it has the support of publications like Popular Mechanics." [3DFS won one of Popular Mechanics' "breakthrough awards" in 2017.]
Security

Severe Firmware Vulnerabilities Found In Popular Supermicro Server Products (bleepingcomputer.com) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Security researchers have uncovered vulnerabilities affecting the firmware of the very popular Supermicro enterprise-line server products. These vulnerabilities affect both older and newer models of Supermicro products, but the vendor is working on addressing the issues. These vulnerabilities do not put the safety of Supermicro products at direct risk, as they can only be exploited via malicious software/code (aka malware) already running on a system. Nevertheless, exploiting these vulnerabilities allows the malware to obtain an almost permanent foothold on infected systems by gaining the ability to survive server OS reinstalls by hiding in the hardware's firmware. Technical details are available in an Eclypsium blog post, while a list of affected servers is available here.
Google

Google Launches Android P Beta 2 With Final APIs (venturebeat.com) 40

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched the second Android P beta with final APIs and 157 new emoji. If you're a developer, this is your third Android P preview, and you can start testing your apps against this release by downloading the new preview from developer.android.com/preview. The preview includes an updated SDK with system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and the official Android Emulator. If you're already enrolled and received the Android P Beta 1 on your Pixel device, you'll automatically get the update to Beta 2.
Operating Systems

tvOS 12 Brings Dolby Atmos Support, Zero Sign-In, and TV App Improvements (macworld.com) 47

If you're using an Apple TV as your main streaming box, you will be happy to know several big improvements are coming to the platform. Macworld reports of what's new in tvOS 12: With tvOS 12, Dolby Atmos comes to the Apple TV 4K. All you need for full 3D immersive audio is an Atmos-supporting sound bar or receiver. This makes Apple TV 4K the only streaming media box to be certified for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

One of the best features of tvOS 11 is called Single Sign-on. You add your TV provider's login information to your Apple TV device. If an app supports Single Sign-on, you can log in with your TV provider with just a few taps. It's a big step forward, but still a little bit of a pain. With tvOS 12, Apple makes the whole process totally seamless with Zero Sign-on. Here's how it works: If your TV provider is your Internet provider (a very common occurrence here in the United States), and your Apple TV is connected to the Internet through that provider, you sign in automatically to any Apple TV app your provider gives you access to. Just launch the app, and you're signed in, no passwords or configuration needed at all.

Apple's breathtaking 4K video screensavers, called "Aerials," is one of those minor delights that Apple TV 4K users can't get enough of. In tvOS 12, they get better. You can tap the remote to see the location at which the Aerial was filmed. A new set of Aerials is the star of the show, however. Called "Earth," these are stunning videos from space, taken by astronauts at the International Space Station.
Furthermore, the TV app will provide live content from select TV providers; Charter Spectrum will support the app with live channels and content later this year. Apple is also now allowing third-party home control systems' remotes to control your Apple TV (including Siri).
Facebook

Apple Jams Facebook's Web-Tracking Tools (bbc.com) 117

The next version of iOS and macOS "will frustrate tools used by Facebook to automatically track web users," reports BBC. At the company's developer conference, Apple's software chief Craig Federighi said, "We're shutting that down," adding that Safari would ask owners' permission before allowing the social network to monitor their activity. BBC reports: At the WWDC conference - held in San Jose, California - Mr Federighi said that Facebook keeps watch over people in ways they might not be aware of. "We've all seen these - these like buttons, and share buttons and these comment fields. "Well it turns out these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not." He then pointed to an onscreen alert that asked: "Do you want to allow Facebook.com to use cookies and available data while browsing?" "You can decide to keep your information private."

Apple also said that MacOS Mojave would combat a technique called "fingerprinting", in which advertisers try to track users who delete their cookies. The method involves identifying computers by the fonts and plug-ins installed among other configuration details. To counter this, Apple will present web pages with less details about the computer. "As a result your Mac will look more like everyone else's Mac, and it will be dramatically more difficult for data companies to uniquely identify your device," Mr Federighi explained.

Transportation

Apple CarPlay Will Now Support Third-Party Navigation and Mapping Apps (techcrunch.com) 44

Apple today announced that it will now let third-party navigation and mapping apps work with CarPlay starting with iOS 12. "Up to now, Apple only allowed its own mapping app, Maps, to work over CarPlay, but now you can use Waze, Google Maps, Here, or whatever other app you might want to use to get from A to B," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The change marks a big shift for Apple, which is well known for favoring its own native apps and generally a more tightly controlled ecosystem on iOS and across devices. But Maps hasn't been the most popular mapping app by some measure, even for users of iOS. This is in a sense is a tacit acknowledgement that iPhone owners are using a wide variety of other services, and so to get CarPlay used more, this needed to be enabled. It's not clear why Apple didn't extend third-party support for other mapping and navigation apps until now. Perhaps it was to sweeten the deal for more people to use its own Maps app.
Operating Systems

watchOS 5 Brings Automatic Workout Detection, Walkie-Talkie Mode, Podcast App To Apple Watch (digitaltrends.com) 50

At WWDC 2018, Apple announced several new features in watchOS 5 that will be coming to the Apple Watch later this year. Digital Trends summarizes all the big new additions including more watch faces and improved health tracking features: Apple is putting a huge emphasis on ensuring fitness tracking data is accurate in WatchOS 5. The company studied more than seven terabytes of fitness data from more than 12,000 participants to make sure its tracking measurements are on point. You'll also find a new competition mode on WatchOS 5. The mode allows you to enter a seven-day competition with a friend. WatchOS 5 also features new fitness modes. The Yoga mode will track your activity via the heart rate monitor while the Hiking mode will use your pace and elevation to better determine the number of calories burned. The Running mode now offers a custom pace alert, tracks your cadence and will even provide time data on the previous mile run. Finally, you'll see new start and end workout alerts.

WatchOS 5 also brings several awesome communications improvements. First off is the new Walkie-Talkie mode. With Walkie-Talkie, you can add friends to your Apple Watch and communicate with them directly by tapping the Talk button within the Walkie-Talkie app. Your Siri watch face will also get a huge update as well. The new Siri watch face will provide more information on your favorite sports teams, offer commute and traffic information, as well as heart rate.
Also available in watchOS 5 are Siri Shortcuts, an official Podcast app, and WebKit, which will let you view webpages from Messages or emails. You will also no longer need to say "Hey Siri" to activate Siri. Now you can simply raise your wrist to your mouth and Siri will automatically be listening.

Note: The original Apple Watch won't get watchOS 5's new features. You will need a Series 1 or newer timepiece.
Operating Systems

Apple Unveils macOS 10.14 Mojave With Dark Mode and Finder Photo Tools (venturebeat.com) 99

Alongside iOS 12, at its developer conference WWDC on Monday, Apple also unveiled macOS 10.14 -- named "Mojave" -- the upcoming software update for the company's laptop and desktops lineups. The headline feature of macOS 10.14 is dark mode, a feature that people who work during late hours might appreciate. VentureBeat: A new Mojave feature called Dynamic Desktop can subtly change the desktop throughout the day, morning, afternoon, and evening. There's also Desktop Stacks, which can automatically clean up a messy desktop by arranging desktop contents into stacks based on content, date, or tag. Gallery View in the Finder lets you see content in a Photos-like display, including full metadata from cameras that can appear in an optional second sidebar; you can rotate photos and do basic automation of Actions within the Finder. The macOS screenshot creation tool has been expanded, as well, to enable instant creation of screengrabbed videos from current screen content.

Continuity has been expanded with Continuity Camera, leveraging your phone's camera to instantly add photos and scans to programs that request them. It also includes a Mac version of the Apple News aggregation app that debuted on iOS two years ago, including the Stocks feature and new sidebar that were shown off for the updated iPad version of News earlier in the Keynote. Voice Memos is also being brought to the Mac, as is Home, the HomeKit app from iOS. Apple also announced a collection of heightened security features for macOS, including protection by default of camera access, microphone access, your mail database, message history, and other private data.
Apple has also redesigned the App Store, and is bringing favicons to Safari tabs.
IOS

Apple Unveils iOS 12 (apple.com) 77

Apple on Monday unveiled iOS 12, the major software update that is coming later this year to all the iPhones and iPad models the company has released since 2013. iOS 12 offers a handful of new features but the focus this year, said company's VP of engineering Craig Federighi onstage, is on performance improvements. Apps will launch up to 40 percent faster, and you can slide to take a photo at up to 70 percent faster than with iOS 11, Federighi said. Part of the major push this year is also on augmented reality. The company is introducing a Measure app, which will people to use their phone's camera to measure real-life objects accurately. There's also 3D graphics that you can place into the real world through AR. Apple made a new file format called USDZ, which was developed in conjunction with Pixar.

Apple is also introducing something called "personalised Memoji characters," ability to have a group FaceTime call, and minor new features and improvements to Siri, and Photos. There is also grouped notifications, a feature that Apple claims to have invented. (Android has had it for more than 8 years.) Additionally, Apple is also bringing new tools to iOS that will allow users to take better control of the time they spend interacting with their iPhones and iPads. Note from the press release: New modes in Do Not Disturb automatically end based on a specified time, location or action and Do Not Disturb during Bedtime helps people get a better night's sleep by dimming the display and hiding all notifications on the lock screen until prompted in the morning. To help reduce interruptions, iOS 12 gives users more options for controlling how notifications are delivered. They can instantly manage notifications to be delivered quietly or turned off completely. Grouped notifications make it easier to view and manage multiple notifications at once. Screen Time provides users with detailed information and tools to help them better understand and control the time they spend with apps and websites. Daily and weekly Activity Reports show the total time spent in individual apps, usage across categories of apps, how many notifications are received and how often iPhone or iPad are picked up.
Operating Systems

Linux 4.17 Released (betanews.com) 28

Mark Wycislik-Wilson, writing for BetaNews: In his weekly message to the Linux community on Sunday, Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux 4.17. The release comes a couple of months after the first release candidate, and in his message Torvalds also talks about version 5.0 of the Linux kernel. Having previously said that Linux kernel v5.0 "should be meaningless," he said that this next major numerical milestone will come around "in the not too distance future." For now, though, it's version 4.17 -- or Merciless Moray, if you prefer -- that's of interest. Linux kernel 4.17 is not a major release, and Torvalds announced it without much fanfare. "So this last week was pretty calm, even if the pattern of most of the stuff coming in on a Friday made it feel less so as the weekend approached. And while I would have liked even less changes, I really didn't get the feeling that another week would help the release in any way, so here we are, with 4.17 released."
Google

Google Quits Selling Tablets (techcrunch.com) 143

Google has quietly crept out of the tablet business, removing the "tablets" heading from its Android page. It was there yesterday, but it's gone today. TechCrunch reports: Google in particular has struggled to make Android a convincing alternative to iOS in the tablet realm, and with this move has clearly indicated its preference for the Chrome OS side of things, where it has inherited the questionable (but lucrative) legacy of netbooks. They've also been working on broadening Android compatibility with that OS. So it shouldn't come as much surprise that the company is bowing out.

Sales have dropped considerably, since few people see any reason to upgrade a device that was originally sold for its simplicity and ease of use, not its specs. Google's exit doesn't mean Android tablets are done for, of course. They'll still get made, primarily by Samsung, Amazon and a couple of others, and there will probably even be some nice ones. But if Google isn't selling them, it probably isn't prioritizing them as far as features and support.
Android Police was first to break the news.
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Talking About Acquiring GitHub, Says Report (zdnet.com) 164

The Welcome Rain shares a report from ZDNet: Microsoft officials have been talking to GitHub about possibly acquiring the company, according to a June 1 report in Business Insider. BI claims that the two have discussed the possibility of an acquisition on an on-and-off-again basis over the years "but in the last few weeks talks have grown more serious." BI is citing unnamed "people close to the companies" as its sources. "This isn't as surprising as it would have been ten or more years ago," writes The Welcome Rain. "Microsoft is investing a lot in git, including GVFS, a Git Virtual File System to help Git work with very large codebases. What might this mean for the future of Github?"
Windows

Windows 10 Pro Is a Dead End For the Enterprise, Gartner Says (computerworld.com) 218

A prominent Gartner analyst argues that Windows 10 Pro is a dead end for enterprises, citing recent changes by Microsoft to the Windows 10 support schedule. "[We] predict that Microsoft will continue positioning Windows [10] Pro as a release that is not appropriate for enterprises by reducing [...] support and limiting access to enterprise management features," Stephen Kleynhans, a research vice president at Gartner and one of the research firm's resident Windows experts, said in a report he co-authored. Computerworld reports: Last year, the Redmond, Wash. developer announced a six-month support extension for Windows 10 1511, the November 2015 feature upgrade, "to help some early enterprise adopters that are still finishing their transition to Windows as a service." In February, Microsoft added versions 1609, 1703 and 1709 -- released in mid-2016, and in April and October of 2017, respectively -- to the extended support list, giving each 24 months of support, not the usual 18. There was a catch: Only Windows 10 Enterprise (and Windows 10 Education, a similar version for public and private school districts and universities) qualified for the extra six months of support. Users running Windows 10 Pro were still required to upgrade to a successor SKU (stock-keeping unit) within 18 months to continue receiving security patches and other bug fixes.

Another component of Microsoft's current Windows 10 support strategy, something the company has labeled "paid supplemental servicing," was also out of bounds for those running Windows 10 Pro. The extra support, which Microsoft will sell at an undisclosed price, is available only to Enterprise and Education customers. Paid supplemental servicing adds 12 months to the 18 months provided free of charge.

Operating Systems

Sonic and Ultrasonic Attacks Damage Hard Drives and Crash OSes (arstechnica.com) 102

Dan Goodin reports via Ars Technica: Attackers can cause potentially harmful hard drive and operating system crashes by playing sounds over low-cost speakers embedded in computers or sold in stores, a team of researchers demonstrated last week. The attacks use sonic and ultrasonic sounds to disrupt magnetic HDDs as they read or write data. The researchers showed how the technique could stop some video-surveillance systems from recording live streams. Just 12 seconds of specially designed acoustic interference was all it took to cause video loss in a 720p system made by Ezviz. Sounds that lasted for 105 seconds or more caused the stock Western Digital 3.5 HDD in the device to stop recording altogether until it was rebooted. The device uses flash storage to house its firmware, but by default it uses a magnetic HDD to store the large quantities of video it records. The attack used a speaker hanging from a ceiling that rested about four inches above the surveillance system's HDD. The researchers didn't remove the casing or otherwise tamper with the surveillance system. The technique was also able to disrupt HDDs in desktop and laptop computers running both Windows and Linux. In some cases, it even required a reboot before the PCs worked properly. The paper titled "Blue Note: How Intentional Acoustic Interference Damages Availability and Integrity in Hard Disk Drives and Operating Systems" can be found here (PDF).
Network

There Are Real Reasons For Linux To Replace ifconfig, netstat and Other Classic Tools (utoronto.ca) 478

Several readers have shared a blog post: One of the ongoing system administration controversies in Linux is that there is an ongoing effort to obsolete the old, cross-Unix standard network administration and diagnosis commands of ifconfig, netstat and the like and replace them with fresh new Linux specific things like ss and the ip suite. Old sysadmins are generally grumpy about this; they consider it yet another sign of Linux's 'not invented here' attitude that sees Linux breaking from well-established Unix norms to go its own way. Although I'm an old sysadmin myself, I don't have this reaction. Instead, I think that it might be both sensible and honest for Linux to go off in this direction. There are two reasons for this, one ostensible and one subtle.

The ostensible surface issue is that the current code for netstat, ifconfig, and so on operates in an inefficient way. Per various people, netstat et al operate by reading various files in /proc, and doing this is not the most efficient thing in the world (either on the kernel side or on netstat's side). You won't notice this on a small system, but apparently there are real impacts on large ones. Modern commands like ss and ip use Linux's netlink sockets, which are much more efficient. In theory netstat, ifconfig, and company could be rewritten to use netlink too; in practice this doesn't seem to have happened and there may be political issues involving different groups of developers with different opinions on which way to go.

(Netstat and ifconfig are part of net-tools, while ss and ip are part of iproute2.)

However, the deeper issue is the interface that netstat, ifconfig, and company present to users. In practice, these commands are caught between two masters. On the one hand, the information the tools present and the questions they let us ask are deeply intertwined with how the kernel itself does networking, and in general the tools are very much supposed to report the kernel's reality. On the other hand, the users expect netstat, ifconfig and so on to have their traditional interface (in terms of output, command line arguments, and so on); any number of scripts and tools fish things out of ifconfig output, for example. As the Linux kernel has changed how it does networking, this has presented things like ifconfig with a deep conflict; their traditional output is no longer necessarily an accurate representation of reality.

The Almighty Buck

First Government Office in the US To Accept Bitcoin As Payment (orlandosentinel.com) 42

Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes the Orlando Sentinel: If cash, check or credit card seems too old-fashioned, Seminole County, Florida Tax Collector Joel Greenberg said this week his office will begin accepting bitcoin as payment for new IDs, license plates and property taxes starting next month. Greenberg said accepting bitcoin and bitcoin cash as a payment method will promote transparency and accuracy in payment.

"There's no risk to the taxpayer," said Greenberg, who has often raised eyebrows since his 2016 election by moves including encouraging certain employees with concealed-weapons permits to carry a firearm openly as a security measure. "Blockchain technology is the future of the whole financial industry."

A spokesperson for a neighboring county's tax collector said they had no plans to follow the move. "Frankly, I think the currency is so volatile that I donâ(TM)t think it makes sense."

And an official at a nearby county said bitcoin payments were "not on our to-do list", adding that no one in the county had requested the ability to pay their taxes in bitcoin.

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