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  1. Last month’s news that IBM would do a Hewlett-Packard and divide into two—an IT consultancy and a buzzword compliance unit—marks the end of “business as usual” for yet another of the great workstation companies. A quick aside on computing history. You can imagine personal computing being driven by two distinct schools of thought. The “top down” school, represented by research-led organisations including Xerox PARC, Bell Labs,academia and the military, asked “what would the world be like if everyone had their own minicomputer”? They took large, time-sharing systems like UNIX and installed them first under, then on, employees’ desks for their own personal use. The “bottom up” school was made up of hobbyists who asked “can we make an interesting computer out of inexpensive components”? Thus companies like Apple and MITS in the US, Acorn and Sinclair Radionics in the UK, and others took chips that were usually used as peripherals controllers in “real” computers and built interactive programming systems around them. The microcomputer revolution came from the bottom-up school, as they made home computing affordable. The workstation revolution came from the top-down school, as they made powerful on-demand computing feasible. The two schools came into very close proximity in the 1980s, when the Motorola 68000 family of CPUs (along with the 68881/68882 FPU and 68851 MMU) were the processors of choice in everything from entry-level PCs like the Atari 520ST, through games consoles like the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the US), to the most expensive UNIX workstations from NeXT Computer, Sun Microsystems, and Apollo Computer. But then the workstation makers invested heavily in their own CPU architectures based on RISC design principles and again the two diverged. The workstation market became highly differentiated: RS/6000 from IBM (later PowerPC), Alpha from Digital Equipment Corp, MIPS from, well, MIPS, SPARC from Sun, PA-RISC from HP. The software on these workstations, while superficially very similar, was also differentiated and surprisingly incompatible. Take a program from HP-UX and you’ll have difficulty running it on NeXTSTEP, unless the authors shared the source code and used the nascent GNU autotools to support portable building. As Yoda said: begun, the UNIX wars have. Of course we know that the (desktop) computing world today is mostly Intel and that workstations are mostly fancy PCs, rather than bespoke designs by vertically-integrated companies, Apple being the two trillion dollar outlier. How we got here was that the commodity parts got good enough that there was no evident advantage to workstation-grade hardware. A high-end PC could easily run a workstation OS like System V UNIX (Solaris was an early example), BSD (386BSD which later became FreeBSD, or NeXTSTEP) or Windows NT. Along the way, the workstation companies consolidated (Apollo and eventually DEC got absorbed into HP; MIPS into SGI) or disappeared altogether (Sun became Oracle Hardware; SGI went bankrupt and sold its assets to sgi; Symbolics did similar—incidentally Symbolics was the first company with a .com domain). IBM long ago stopped even making its own brand PCs, and the news of its split means that there are now very few workstation companies trading in the same form they had “back in the day”. The only ones I can think of that have not had major changes to their corporate structures are Xerox and Sony, whose management may not even have known that they sold workstations. What’s got lost alongside the death of the workstation is the business model where you sell expensive computers as part of an integrated solution into a particular vertical market, where that expensive solution will cost a lot less than cobbling something together out of cheap PCs. Why? I think people have a lower expectation and higher pain threshold when using computers now; they expect an amount of friction based on their own experience and translate that expectation into realms where it doesn’t belong. As I described way back in issue 2, computing is a lemon market. Organisations would go to the workstation vendors because they solved particular problems very well. If you’re in AI, you need Symbolics. Computer graphics, SGI. Telecoms, that’d be Sun. If you want to write software in Ada for the military-industrial complex, you’ll be buying a Rational workstation. Yes, the first IDE was a completely integrated package of hardware and software. And, of course, Apple for Desktop Publishing, the Mac being a workstation of sorts itself. People would buy computers because applications like AutoCAD, Quark or Mathematica ran well on them. They wouldn’t buy the computer then browse the App Store to see whether it could do anything useful. And the strange thing is that catering to those vertical markets with integrated solutions is easier than ever now. The wide availability of free software means that the basic job of “being a desktop computer” is taken care of at zero cost, so business can focus on contributing valuable bespoke behaviour. And hardware costs are lower than ever: the availability of high-capability SoCs and single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi and Rock64 should make it a no-brainer to sell the computers as accessories for the applications, not the other way around. In high-tech domains, an engineer could readily have a toolchest of suitable computers in the same way that a mechanic has different tools for their tasks. This one has an FPGA connected by both PCI-E and JTAG to allow for quick hardware prototyping. This one is connected to a high-throughput GPU for visualisations; that one to a high-capacity GPU for scientific simulations. The general purpose hardware vendors want us to believe that an okay-at-anything computer is the best for everything: you don’t need a truck, so here’s a car. But when you’re hauling a ton of goods, you’ll find it cheaper and more satisfying to shell out more for a truck. Okay-at-anything is good for nothing. Source
  2. from the you-don't-own-what-you-buy dept Remember the Slingbox? It was a piece of hardware by Dish subsidiary Sling Media that let users beam TV content from your home cable box to anywhere else. Sling was public enemy number one among entrenched cable and broadcast industry gatekeepers, because its products (*gasp*) not only made life easier on consumers, but at one point integrated ad-skipping technology. Back in 2013 the broadcast and cable industry was so pissed at Sling, it managed to get a best-of-show CES award retracted by CNET and CBS simply because the industry didn't like the disruptive nature of the company's technologies. Ah, memories. This week, Sling Media announced that all Slingboxes will effectively become useless paperweights in a few years. In a company announcement, it says the technology will no longer work at all as of November 9, 2022: "Slingbox servers will be permanently taken offline 24 months after the discontinued announcement date (November 9, 2020), at which point ALL Slingbox devices and services will become inoperable. Until then, most Slingbox models will continue to work normally, but the number of supported devices for viewing will steadily decrease as versions of the SlingPlayer apps become outdated and/or lose compatibility. The shift isn't particularly surprising given that the streaming era has effectively made such technology irrelevant. Users can now obtain streams of numerous apps on any platform they like. And software like Plex similarly let users stream content from their home PC anywhere they have a reliable internet connection. Streaming from your home cable box isn't as popular because people are not only cutting the cord at a record pace, they're shifting to streaming platforms that are inherently more flexible. Evolution made Sling irrelevant. The company kind of explains this all to users, but not really: Q: Why is Slingbox being discontinued? A: We’ve had to make room for new innovative products so that we can continue to serve our customers in the best way possible. Q: Will Slingbox be releasing any new products? A: No. At the same time, it's yet another example of how in the modern era, you simply don't really own the things you buy. Firmware updates can often eliminate functionality promised to you at launch, as we saw with the Sony PlayStation 3. And with everything now relying on internet-connectivity, companies can often give up on supporting devices entirely, often leaving users with very expensive paperweights as we saw after Google acquired Revolv, then bricked users' $300 smart home hub. Now it's the Slingbox's turn to head to that great gadget graveyard in the sky. Source
  3. Slim laptops and convertibles might be making the much of the running, but even desktop PC is seeing increasing demand right now. The continued need for many of us to work, study and be entertained while at home is leading to increased demand for PCs. The PC market has been in long-term decline, largely thanks to the rise of the smartphone and other devices that make the PC less attractive to many, particularly consumers, who have been upgrading much less often. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a huge increase in home working which, has in turn created big demand for business laptops, plus consumer devices for watching video and playing games while at home. According to research by IDC, shipments of traditional PCs – made up of desktops, notebooks, and workstations – in EMEA will total 82.1 million in 2020, a 12.7% year-on-year increase. The tech analyst said that demand will continue to be strong throughout 2020 and into the first half of 2021. The Western European commercial market is expected to return to growth (up 7.1% year-on-year) in the fourth quarter of this year as lockdowns and restrictions accelerate the transition toward mobility, further skewing the product mix in favour of notebooks. The Western European consumer market could grown 28.0% year-on-year in the same period, its third consecutive quarter of substantial growth. "The second wave of the pandemic, allied with businesses still shifting to an indefinite remote working environment, will continue to erode demand for stationary devices," said Liam Hall, senior research analyst, IDC Western Europe Personal Computing. The ongoing rollout of laptops across education – as schools and colleges wrestle with remote learning – is also likely to boost sales. Image: IDC While longer term sales of desktops is likely to contract further (they only account for 20% of the market now) in the short term desktops sales will actually see something of a boost, thanks to demand from gamers for powerful machines. For price-sensitive consumers, desktops also provide the best specification-to-cost ratio, IDC noted. "Notebooks will remain the preferred form factor and will continue to experience exceptional growth driven by the need to equip every household member with a device for remote learning, as well as entertainment, during the ongoing lockdown periods," it said. Longer term there is little prospect for growth – IDC predicts sales will be significantly lower again by 2024, with traditional desktops and notebooks bearing the brunt of the decline. Source
  4. Ars readers share their stories of coronavirus-related hardware shortages and more We asked readers if the epidemic has affected their work. We got stories back. Enlarge / Lenovo's Thinkbook 13s laptop. Valentina Palladino 58 with 49 posters participating A couple of weeks ago, IPC, a trade group that represents electronics companies, surveyed manufacturers to estimate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the industry. Manufacturers surveyed said their suppliers have warned them they should expect about three weeks of delays on average, but the manufacturers expect things to be even worse than that—about five weeks on average. A select few expect delays longer than nine weeks. On March 3, the Financial Times ran a story claiming that electronics retailers have been informed that they should expect it to take “up to three times as long for PCs and parts to be delivered” as normal. It also notes that small OEMs are at a significant disadvantage when supply is low because large companies like Apple are in a better position to work with the suppliers that are operating most effectively. But Apple and its ilk are not weathering this storm perfectly, either. Last week, Bloomberg wrote that Apple has told its tech support workers to expect multi-week delays for replacement iPhones at Apple Stores, and some Apple employees “also noticed a shortage of individual parts.” There were also previous reports that an iPad Pro refresh’s launch will be delayed because of the outbreak’s impact on Apple’s supply partners. We asked our readers, many of whom are professional technologists across a variety of industries, whether they have faced problems getting needed equipment or other issues related to this health crisis. We got several stories back. Here are some anecdotes about challenges IT managers and the like are facing right now. engrpiman 2 wrote: Our Lenovo computers are back ordered indefinitely. Both CDW and Anixter are reporting supply chain issues. mtgarden also relies on Lenovo and added: Lenovo is saying anything not already in stock is now being listed as 2-3 months. Likely won't be that long, but large orders (corporate stuff) should plan on a long lead time. From Dreamslacker: My workplace had an order of Lenovo laptops for a customer come in without the WLAN adapters installed. Lenovo has advised us that the leadtime for the parts to come in is in the three to six months region. For the time being, they've requested that we purchase off-the-shelf USB wireless dongles (they will reimburse this cost) and install them for the customer to use until such a time that they are able to provide the parts and installation services. punksmurph is facing some challenges, too: We are moving to Lenovo Laptops and thin clients (we use specific Dell models for high powered desktops). Right now our orders are all on hold. We are not returning Dell lease refreshes because we would inventory out in like two weeks if we did. Our Dell systems we need for desktops are 60-90 days out minimum for the desktops we need. And due to some technology requirements with Nvidia cards, we are stuck. It really is hell. Supply is not the only issue, Ars readers report. Some shared stories of how their companies are attempting to address the outbreak and keep employees safe, from sanitation to remote work to travel limitations. Writes numerobis: I have a customer, a multi-national software vendor, that’s had travel bans from certain sites for a while, and has now (today I think?) decided on a global travel ban, interviews to be done remote, global optional work-from-home. I am having my own team prepare to work at home; we don’t quite have the infrastructure yet. From binaryspiral: All work travel has been canceled. Any conferences or in classroom training, customer meetings that were in person are now remote. All our vendors—Cisco, Dell, HP, etc.—have released statements about possible limited product delays or availability and even tech support availability as call centers shut down. According to wkingan's experience, some companies are going to wild sanitation measures: Our IT Help Desk ordered about a million cases of bleach wipes and instituted a new policy where they wipe down all surfaces in the Help Desk walk-up space every 15 minutes. It smells really bleach-y in there now. anjoschu went into much more detail about the impact their company is seeing and the responses to it: Our company has doubled the capacities of the remote working infrastructure and is going to hold a massive test tomorrow where 50% of our employees (>1200 total) are asked to work from home as a stress test. The policies sound relatively sensible: no work travel except with explicit exception from the highest-ups, colleagues that have been in high-risk areas as defined by the national health agency have to work from home for 14 days, stay home if feeling ill, no shaking hands please, cough/sneeze in handkerchief/elbow, wash hands immediately after blowing nose, canteen has closed open buffet in favor of plates prepared for you by staff, etc. All in all, I feel pretty well cared for in this company. They try to make sure everyone washes or sanitizes their hands when touching buttons, door handles, etc. and provide the means to do so. There are daily updates on the company policies and measures dealing with the outbreak, which all include (strong) advice on what to do to decrease risk of infecting others or yourself and what the plans are should someone at our company become a known carrier. And a wide range of industries are heavily impacted. dargonite reported serious challenges in the freight industry in Canada: I live in Canada, work IT at a freight forwarding company. Between the shutdown in China and the rail blockades here at home, the entire shipping industry is pretty much at a standstill. All of the warehouse workers here have been laid off. Our warehouse usually moves hundreds of thousands of boxes a week and there hasn't been a truck for at least 2 weeks. We are anticipating customers will file for bankruptcy as they have not gotten their products and have missed sales/holiday sales and have had to pay for storage at the ports (ports have created Super Piles, which is hundreds of thousands of cargo containers piled sky-high) Imagine you are a small company selling products; you haven't gotten your goods, you still have to pay us (freight forwarding) as we have already paid the ships and truckers, etc, and on top of that any cargo that makes its way into the ports of Canada, are also not going out because of the blockades! (hence, super piles) so right now, everything is basically at a stand-still. For more information about the coronavirus and the world's response to it, read Ars Technica's detailed guide, updated daily. And thanks to our readers for sharing their stories. Source: Ars readers share their stories of coronavirus-related hardware shortages and more (Ars Technica)
  5. MICROSOFT’S WINDOWS FUTURE IS NOW TIED TO HARDWARE If you've been following Microsoft’s Windows changes in recent years, then this week’s reorg inside the company won’t have come as much of a surprise. Chief product officer, Panos Panay, is now taking a bigger role that involves him leading a single group that combines the Windows Experience team and Microsoft hardware teams. It will be known as Windows + Devices, and it ultimately means that the future of Windows is now tied closely to hardware. hat’s a significant change for Microsoft, but one that it has been working towards for years. The company’s Surface RT tablet was originally developed in secret to launch alongside Windows 8, as a showcase for the new operating system back in 2012. It kick started Microsoft’s Surface hardware business, but the original tablet launched with a Windows RT operating system that didn’t really tie closely to the hardware. The Surface RT was slow, lacked apps, and the OS didn’t take advantage of the hardware in ways we often see Apple capitalize on with its tight iOS integration on the iPad. Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet Panay led the team that created the original Surface RT, but the secrecy around the product meant most people working on Windows had no idea Microsoft was building a tablet. He’s been on a mission to improve this software and hardware integration ever since. The first signs of Surface hardware and Windows software aligning were evident in the Surface Pro 3 stylus nearly six years ago. You could click a button on the stylus to launch OneNote and immediately take notes, but it was still fairly basic integration. Microsoft’s Surface Hub followed a year after the Surface Pro 3, and it featured a custom variant of Windows 10 built specifically for a giant 84-inch 4K display. Microsoft then went on to launch its Surface Book with a detachable display. When I reviewed the original Surface Book I was surprised at how limited the note-taking experience was, especially as the hardware was designed so you could take the display off and use it as a digital clipboard. There was an obvious and awkward disconnect between the Windows side and Surface hardware side, perhaps in part because of secrecy or the separation of teams that were trying to integrate these features. Microsoft then went on to improve inking support in Windows 10 thanks to Windows Ink, but still to this day inking feels like it’s not fully baked into the OS so it can be used freely everywhere. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop We’ve also seen Microsoft make some mistakes with its Surface hardware to push Windows initiatives in the past. Windows 10 S debuted on the Surface Laptop, and Microsoft later admitted that the variant, that locked the laptop to Windows Store apps, was a mistake. Microsoft then went on to shake up Windows massively with a reorg two years ago, that separated the core Windows engineering team from the “Experiences & Devices” group responsible for delivering the Windows client you use everyday to Office 365 and Surface hardware. Panay will now assume control of the Windows client side, which essentially means the shell and experience that sits on top of the core part of the Windows operating system. Microsoft has been engineering Windows to run across a variety of hardware, and the core of the OS is now aligned to Azure and Microsoft’s AI teams. Source
  6. Sorry, this is my first post here when I ask for Your opinion and suggestions, about what I have to do or check, before going to buy a new pc. The problem is that I don't want to buy it with Windows, but want get it as cheap as possible. It means I thought to buy it with Linux and then remove Linux permanently and instal Windows 10 Pro. It is Dell Inspiron 3583, released on 2019 and in three conditions/builds, ie Ubuntu, Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro. All seems to be possible, because all drivers and even BIOS'es are downloadable for free from Dells support page. So, have I forgot something to check? Here is the Inspiron 3583 Setup and Specifications page, https://www.dell.com/support/manuals/ee/en/eebsdt1/inspiron-15-3583-laptop/inspiron-3583-1sp-setup-and-specifications/operating-system?guid=guid-2959a596-4e1f-4c1b-9e6c-857583b2f398&lang=en-us here is the .pdf about all versions https://topics-cdn.dell.com/pdf/inspiron-15-3583-laptop_setup-guide_en-us.pdf and here is the drivers site: https://www.dell.com/support/home/ee/en/eedhs1/product-support/product/inspiron-15-3583-laptop/drivers So, any kind of good ideas are wellcome and if they are positive, I'll buy one of them. Most likely with Ubuntu, because I already have genuine Windows 10 Pro for it. Image
  7. New Beijing "5-3-2" policy to give local tech scene a boost to the detriment of foreign companies. Beijing officials have ordered all government offices and public institutions to replace foreign hardware and software with Chinese alternatives within the next three years. The mass replacement process was detailed in a government directive issued to public institutions earlier this spring. The directive is internally known as "3-5-2" based on the percentage targets the Chinese Communist Party imposed on government organizations. In 2020, the first year when the directive enters into effect, government organizations are supposed to replace 30% of their foreign hardware and software in their respective inventories. For 2021, the target is 50%, and then 20% in 2022. The directive remained secret until the past week when its existence leaked to the Financial Times. The news agency said it confirmed the new directive with employees of a private cyber-security firm, who were also aware of the new policy after interacting with their respective government clients. The new 3-5-2 policy is expected to severely impact companies like HP, Dell, and Microsoft, known suppliers for the Chinese government. The directive doesn't apply to privately-owned Chinese companies, which are likely to continue using foreign hardware equipment and software, due to the high cost of replacing private inventories,the FT said. The new directive appears to have been issued around the same time the Chinese government also ordered its military to create a custom operating system to replace Windows amid fears of US hacking and backdoors in military networks. The source and reason for the new policy are, without a doubt, China's current trade war with the US, as well as the Trump administration's efforts into getting Huawei banned from 5G infrastructure projects across the world. Source
  8. dabourzannan

    Guitar Software

    hi, I'm not sure this is the right place for this request. I'm having a problem using my guitar software on a new laptop with a single plug for "mic + speaker". Used to have two separate plugs, in my old Dell laptop. I used to plug my guitar in the mic, and either plug-in a speaker or just use the built in speaker to listen to the music. I'm unable to to use this single plug as input only, and use the normal built-in speakers for listening. My laptop is HP Envy and the OS is Windows 10. Will appreciate any help.
  9. Key Points Regina Dugan joined Facebook from Google to make the company relevant in hardware. Building 8, the laboratory she started, turned into a costly failure for Facebook, and Dugan was gone in less than two years. Ultimately Building 8 became Portal, a video-chat product that has failed to gain market traction. In her relatively brief tenure as a vice president at Facebook, Regina Dugan often started each week with a team huddle. On Oct. 17, 2017, a year and a half into her job running the advanced projects laboratory known as Building 8, she called her standard meeting. But this time Dugan, a longtime Silicon Valley engineer and executive who previously spent four years at Google, had stunning news to deliver. On the verge of tears, she told the dozens of people in her group that she was leaving the company to explore new ideas on her own, according to former Building 8 employees. It was shocking, not only because Dugan had come on board just 18 months earlier, but because Building 8 was leading Facebook's effort to get into the hardware game, where CEO Mark Zuckerberg was desperate to play. When he announced the hiring of Dugan in April 2016, Zuckerberg said Facebook would "be investing hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years." Dugan's departure marked a huge setback for Facebook, which has repeatedly struggled to break into hardware while its big tech rivals Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have found various ways to succeed, whether through popular consumer electronics like the iPhone and Xbox or streaming devices and voice assistants from Amazon and Google. In December 2018, just two and a half years after its inception, Building 8 was stripped apart, with the core of the group becoming Portal. That product, the only gadget launched publicly by Building 8, is a video-calling device that's failed thus far to gain traction in a highly competitive market. Building 8's experience highlights Facebook's central quandary as it seeks to diversify beyond mobile ads, which account for 93% of revenue, and expand into the costly business of developing, manufacturing and selling consumer devices. Coding is Facebook's DNA, but the company's hacker culture clashes with the realities of hardware development, which demands longer time horizons and relationships with a wide swath of manufacturers and resellers, all issues well beyond Facebook's core. Furthermore, as the company continues its effort to develop Portal, it has to contend with a deterioration of trust among consumers following a host of privacy scandals that make it difficult to lure customers into buying a Facebook-branded camera for their living room. There's a lot of money at stake. The smart home market, which includes speakers and entertainment products, is forecast to reach $151.4 billion in revenue by 2024, up from $76.6 billion last year, according to a Research and Markets report from January. The analysis doesn't include Facebook among the more than three-dozen companies listed as potentially key players. In reporting on Facebook's hardware challenge, illustrated by the rise and fall of Building 8, CNBC spoke with more than a dozen former employees from the team who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak about their experiences. Dugan declined to be interviewed for this story. A visionary leader Dugan, who has a PhD in mechanical engineering from Caltech, gained recognition in the tech industry for her work at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, where she was a director from 2009 to 2012. Google hired her in 2012 to create the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group inside Motorola Mobility, a unit Google retained even after selling Motorola to Lenovo in 2014. Within Google, Dugan reported directly to Sundar Pichai, according to people with knowledge of the matter. At the time, Pichai was product chief but ran day-to-day operations and was eventually promoted to CEO in August 2015. Dugan lost some of her direct access to Pichai when Google hired former Motorola President Rick Osterloh to come back as senior vice president of hardware in April 2016. That's about the time Zuckerberg was looking to expand Facebook's hardware efforts, which had been mostly limited to the acquisition of virtual reality headset maker Oculus two years earlier. Following Amazon's success with its Echo speakers, Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to have its own smart home device, former Facebook employees said. In her public departure note from Google, Dugan wrote a 450-word Facebook post, calling it a "bittersweet day" but expressing her excitement to do what she loved most. "Audacious science delivered at scale in products that feel almost magic," she wrote. "A little badass. And beautiful. There is much to build at Facebook... and the mission is human... compelling." One of the first things she did upon arriving at Facebook was to look for early-stage projects that had potential to blossom. She found a prototype with the code name Little Foot, an iPad placed on a motorized base that could detect a person in the room and swivel in that direction. With Zuckerberg pushing his company to prioritize video, Building 8 decided to use Little Foot as the basis for a consumer video-calling device. The team worked with award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker Lucian Perkins to develop a feature that allowed the device's camera to focus on the speaker in the video frame. The idea for the machine was to build a bridge that digitally cut the distance between loved ones — a portal. Building 8 experimented with the device's size, testing versions as big as large-screen TVs. The ideal experience would be a wall-to-ceiling product, a former Building 8 executive said. By late 2016, the group had put together a prototype and demo to show Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, who gave it the green light and told Dugan to bring the product to customers. Internal tension The eight in Building 8 represented the number of letters in Facebook. Its physical location was inside Building 59 on Facebook's main campus in Menlo Park, California, not far from the huge iconic thumbs up sign. That's where, in June 2017, a select few employees showed up for b*8 Underground, a quarterly event intended to showcase Building 8's work. The exclusive invitations had arrived in the form of stainless steel slabs. To get into the event, attendees handed their invitation to a staffer, who put the slabs onto a machine programmed to cut the metal into a bottle opener. The staffer then handed back the bottle opener, along with a beer. Inside, Facebook employees got to see early versions of Portal as well as other experiments like a brain-computer interface designed to allow humans to mind-control a device, and Project Sequoia, an augmented reality adventure resembling the hologram-like computers in "Iron Man" movies. But as employees marveled at Building 8's creations, tensions were beginning to brew. Some staffers resented Building 8's secretiveness — to enter the space you needed an escort. The group was spending lavishly, shelling out over $100 million a year on vendors, consultants and show-off events, according to two former executives. There were also internal struggles. People who came from the hardware industry were shocked by Facebook's unrealistic production timeline. The company expected Building 8 to ship its first product within a year, a fraction of the time it normally takes to develop hardware devices, former employees said. A Facebook spokeswoman disputed that fact and said Building 8 was not expected to ship products within that timeframe. And then there was the Facebook stigma. Following the company's role in enabling the spread of disinformation in the 2016 election, the team knew it faced a massive public trust and privacy problem. Hardware is hard Dugan's pace of progress was a key source of friction between Building 8 and its parent company. She was working on two-year timelines, but in Aug. 2017, Facebook made a decision designed to speed things up. Schroepfer announced that Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, a longtime vice president who had run the company's ads and business team, would manage consumer hardware, including Oculus and Building 8. Bosworth was a Zuckerberg loyalist, having joined the company in 2006, but he had no experience in hardware. As it turned out, that decision spelled the beginning of the end for Dugan. Less than two months later, she announced her sudden departure. Dugan's former colleagues say it's unclear if she was fired or quit, but over the following weeks many of her deputies followed her out the door. Bosworth named Rafa Camargo, who had followed Dugan from ATAP, as the interim head. When it came to technological decisions, Bosworth offered little direction, former employees said. Camargo told CNBC in an interview that Bosworth's contributions are significant and that he's responsible for the hardware, software, marketing, go-to market and manufacturing decisions behind all of the devices Facebook has released since the Oculus Go in May 2018. "It's super difficult to launch products on time, in quality, in volume and in need of the market, and he's leading it all," Camargo said. Amid Building 8's turmoil, by early 2018 Facebook had a more existential problem on its hands that derailed any chance the company had of getting Portal to market on its accelerated timeline. In March of that year, multiple publications reported that Cambridge Analytica, a London-based political consulting firm, had improperly accessed the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, a scandal that would send the company's stock spiraling downward and ultimately lead Zuckerberg to turn his attention to creating a "privacy-focused social platform." Within days, Bosworth told his team that Facebook had hit a low in terms of user trust and said it wasn't the right time for Portal. He didn't offer a projected launch date, and said the team was going to rethink the design. Facebook's spokeswoman told CNBC that Portal launched on schedule as the company's plan was always to release the product in the fall of 2018. Multiple former Building 8 employees said the rollout was delayed numerous times. Facebook finally released two Portal video-chatting devices in November, with the addition of camera covers so users could block the lens. Portal immediately hit privacy snags. A week after telling Recode that no data collected by Portal would be used to target Facebook users with ads, the company walked back the statement and said that because Portal's software was built on Facebook's Messenger infrastructure, it collected the same type of type of data and could potentially be used to inform ads. A month after the release, Camargo announced that Building 8 was no more and the group would now be known as Portal. In early 2018, the remaining research projects were moved to Oculus Research, which has since been rebranded as Facebook Reality Labs, based in Redmond, Washington. That's where the company is working on a brain-reading interface — a noninvasive wearable device that will allow people to type using their thoughts. Portal sales have been so disappointing that Facebook has slashed prices multiple times. According to IDC, the company has shipped just over 54,000 Portal devices since its launch (The Information first cited this data). Michael Levin of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners described Portal's market share and consumer awareness as "immaterial." Facebook's representative said the IDC number is inaccurate but wouldn't provide an official figure. Camargo said Portal has exceeded Facebook's expectations both in sales and user engagement. "We're quite excited about it," he said. In April, CNBC confirmed that the company is developing a voice AI assistant that could be used in future Portal devices as well as Oculus headsets and other projects. Bosworth said at the Code Conference in June that the company plans to launch multiple new versions of Portal later this year, and Camargo told CNBC that Facebook is working on new augmented reality products. Through the experience of Building 8, Facebook learned what it takes to consistently build multiple, complex, high-quality products, he added. One of the expected future devices is a project with the code name Ripley, which Cheddar previously covered and CNBC confirmed with former employees. Ripley is a small device with a built-in camera designed to sit on top of a TV, turning it into a Portal screen. "Hardware is coming to the home," Bosworth said at Code Conference. "We want to make sure that human connection, connection between two people, is a first-party experience on that hardware." Source
  10. Planting Tiny Spy Chips in Hardware Can Cost as Little as $200 A new proof-of-concept hardware implant shows how easy it may be to hide malicious chips inside IT equipment. Illustration: Casey Chin; Getty Images More than a year has passed since Bloomberg Businessweek grabbed the lapels of the cybersecurity world with a bombshell claim: that Supermicro motherboards in servers used by major tech firms, including Apple and Amazon, had been stealthily implanted with a chip the size of a rice grain that allowed Chinese hackers to spy deep into those networks. Apple, Amazon, and Supermicro all vehemently denied the report. The NSA dismissed it as a false alarm. The Defcon hacker conference awarded it two Pwnie Awards, for "most overhyped bug" and "most epic fail." And no follow-up reporting has yet affirmed its central premise. But even as the facts of that story remain unconfirmed, the security community has warned that the possibility of the supply chain attacks it describes is all too real. The NSA, after all, has been doing something like it for years, according to the leaks of whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Now researchers have gone further, showing just how easily and cheaply a tiny, tough-to-detect spy chip could be planted in a company's hardware supply chain. And one of them has demonstrated that it doesn't even require a state-sponsored spy agency to pull it off—just a motivated hardware hacker with the right access and as little as $200 worth of equipment. "It’s not magical. It’s not impossible. I could do this in my basement." Monta Elkins, FoxGuard At the CS3sthlm security conference later this month, security researcher Monta Elkins will show how he created a proof-of-concept version of that hardware hack in his basement. He intends to demonstrate just how easily spies, criminals, or saboteurs with even minimal skills, working on a shoestring budget, can plant a chip in enterprise IT equipment to offer themselves stealthy backdoor access. (Full disclosure: I'll be speaking at the same conference, which paid for my travel and is providing copies of my forthcoming book to attendees.) With only a $150 hot-air soldering tool, a $40 microscope, and some $2 chips ordered online, Elkins was able to alter a Cisco firewall in a way that he says most IT admins likely wouldn't notice, yet would give a remote attacker deep control. "We think this stuff is so magical, but it’s not really that hard," says Elkins, who works as "hacker in chief" for the industrial-control-system security firm FoxGuard. "By showing people the hardware, I wanted to make it much more real. It’s not magical. It’s not impossible. I could do this in my basement. And there are lots of people smarter than me, and they can do it for almost nothing." A Fingernail in the Firewall Elkins used an ATtiny85 chip, about 5 millimeters square, that he found on a $2 Digispark Arduino board; not quite the size of a grain of rice, but smaller than a pinky fingernail. After writing his code to that chip, Elkins desoldered it from the Digispark board and soldered it to the motherboard of a Cisco ASA 5505 firewall. He used an inconspicuous spot that required no extra wiring and would give the chip access to the firewall's serial port. The image below gives a sense of how tough spotting the chip would be amidst the complexity of a firewall's board—even with the relatively small, 6- by 7-inch dimensions of an ASA 5505. Elkins suggests he could have used an even smaller chip but chose the ATtiny85 because it was easier to program. He says he also could have hidden his malicious chip even more subtly, inside one of several radio-frequency shielding "cans" on the board, but he wanted to be able to show the chip's placement at the CS3sthlm conference. The bottom side of a Cisco ASA 5505 firewall motherboard, with the red oval marking the 5-millimeter-squared chip that Elkins added.Photograph: Monta Elkins Elkins programmed his tiny stowaway chip to carry out an attack as soon as the firewall boots up in a target's data center. It impersonates a security administrator accessing the configurations of the firewall by connecting their computer directly to that port. Then the chip triggers the firewall's password recovery feature, creating a new admin account and gaining access to the firewall's settings. Elkins says he used Cisco's ASA 5505 firewall in his experiment because it was the cheapest one he found on eBay, but he says that any Cisco firewall that offers that sort of recovery in the case of a lost password should work. "We are committed to transparency and are investigating the researcher’s findings," Cisco said in a statement. "If new information is found that our customers need to be aware of, we will communicate it via our normal channels." Once the malicious chip has access to those settings, Elkins says, his attack can change the firewall's settings to offer the hacker remote access to the device, disable its security features, and give the hacker access to the device's log of all the connections it sees, none of which would alert an administrator. "I can basically change the firewall's configuration to make it do whatever I want it to do," Elkins says. Elkins says with a bit more reverse engineering, it would also be possible to reprogram the firmware of the firewall to make it into a more full-featured foothold for spying on the victim's network, though he didn't go that far in his proof of concept. A Speck of Dust Elkins' work follows an earlier attempt to reproduce far more precisely the sort of hardware hack Bloomberg described in its supply chain hijacking scenario. As part of his research presented at the Chaos Computer Conference last December, independent security researcher Trammell Hudson built a proof of concept for a Supermicro board that attempted to mimic the techniques of the Chinese hackers described in the Bloomberg story. That meant planting a chip on the part of a Supermicro motherboard with access to its baseboard management controller, or BMC, the component that allows it to be remotely administered, offering a hacker deep control of the target server. Hudson, who worked in the past for Sandia National Labs and now runs his own security consultancy, found a spot on the Supermicro board where he could replace a tiny resistor with his own chip to alter the data coming in and out of the BMC in real time, exactly the sort of attack that Bloomberg described. He then used a so-called field reprogrammable gate array—a reprogrammable chip sometimes used for prototyping custom chip designs—to act as that malicious interception component. "For an adversary who wants to spend any money on it, this would not have been a difficult task." Security researcher Trammell Hudson Hudson's FPGA, at less than 2.5 millimeters square, was only slightly larger than the 1.2-millimeters-square resistor it replaced on the Supermicro board. But in true proof-of-concept style, he says he didn't actually make any attempts to hide that chip, instead connecting it to the board with a mess of wiring and alligator clips. Hudson argues, however, that a real attacker with the resources to fabricate custom chips—a process that would likely cost tens of thousands of dollars—could have carried out a much more stealthy version of the attack, fabricating a chip that carried out the same BMC-tampering functions and fit into a much smaller footprint than the resistor. The result could even be as small as a hundredth of a square millimeter, Hudson says, vastly smaller than Bloomberg's grain of rice. "For an adversary who wants to spend any money on it, this would not have been a difficult task," Hudson says. "There’s no need for further comment about false reports from more than a year ago," Supermicro said in a statement. But Elkins points out that his firewall-based attack, while far less sophisticated, doesn't require that custom chip at all—only his $2 one. "Don’t discount this attack because you think someone needs a chip fab to do it," Elkins says. "Basically anyone who’s an electronic hobbyist can do a version of this at home." Elkins and Hudson both emphasize that their work isn't meant to validate Bloomberg's tale of widespread hardware supply chain attacks with tiny chips planted in devices. They don't even argue that it's likely to be a common attack in the wild; both researchers point out that traditional software attacks can often give hackers just as much access, albeit not necessarily with the same stealth. But both Elkins and Hudson argue that hardware-based espionage via supply-chain hijacking is nonetheless a technical reality, and one that may be easier to accomplish than many of the world's security administrators realize. "What I want people to recognize is that chipping implants are not imaginary. They’re relatively straightforward," says Elkins. "If I can do this, someone with hundreds of millions in their budget has been doing this for a while." Source: Planting Tiny Spy Chips in Hardware Can Cost as Little as $200
  11. Modding Time It's about time LINUX SMARTPHONES have hardly set the world on fire in the last few years (unless you're Russian). Yes, yes, we know Android is a Linux-based system but it hardly counts - and when Ubuntu can't make it work, who can? Nevertheless, plucky little operations like Pine64 have been offering the prospect of Linux laptops for years, and now they plan to bring their own handset too. But the really interesting bit is that Pine is also working on its equivalent of WearOS and the first fruits are being previewed in the form of a Linux smartwatch. PineTime (almost impossible to say in any voice but Kath & Kim) is set to run ARM Mbed or FreeRTOS and is specifically designed as a companion to Linux smartphones. If only we knew of any companies planning one of those… la la la…. The big draw, however, is that PineTime is set to cost just $25 (£20 in New Boris Bucks) making it a very easy sell for those five people who want the phone. The prototypes show that its the software that is unique, the casing and strap have both seen the light of day in other smartwatches, but the software? That's all-new, baby. Don't expect a Huawei Watch 2 or Ticwatch Pro - this is very much an entry-level affair. Expect a heart rate monitor, and Bluetooth and not a massive amount else. But the fact that (being open-source) this is a damn fine tinker-toy will make a lot of developers and hobbyists dead happy. Pine64 describes it as a ‘side project'. It's not got a release date, as yet, and was only mentioned in passing on the company's Twitter page. However, the response has been bigger than that for the phone itself, so it sounds like the great un-Windowed are going to be mad for this. Fingers crossed, anyway. It can't do worse than WearOS, eh? Source
  12. My laptop just hung without any error and I had to restart by long pressing the power button. There was no indication of what caused the issue. I was simply browsing in my firefox to purchase some steam games and suddenly mouse and keyboard all stopped. Is there a way to figure out the exact cause for Windows 10 hanging issue? Is there any log of error somewhere even though it didn't display any error, neither before nor after restart. My laptop is still in warranty period so if there is any hardware issue, I can get it fixed/replaced. Any Idea.. Thanks.
  13. March 2021 NPD: PlayStation 5 is the fastest-selling U.S. console ever This is a real picture of the PlayStation 5. Image Credit: GamesBeat Video game hardware sales were up 47% in March, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That growth comes despite a surge in sales that began last year due to the start of pandemic stay-at-home orders. And while the Switch continues to fuel those sales, so does the Xbox and, especially, the PlayStation 5. “March video game hardware dollar sales were 47% higher than a year ago, at a March record $680 million,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said “The previous high of $552 million was set in March 2008. Year-to-date hardware spending totaled $1.4 billion, an increase of 81% compared to a year ago.” The Switch, which continues to sell out despite higher availability compared, led the month. “Nintendo Switch was the best-selling hardware platform in both units and dollars during the month of March,” said Piscatella. “In the first quarter, Nintendo Switch was the unit sales leader while PlayStation 5 ranked first in hardware dollar sales.” But the limited availability of the new generation of consoles isn’t unusual. Despite its short supply, PS5 is actually on a record pace for sales in the U.S. “PlayStation 5 is the fastest-selling console in U.S. history in both unit and dollar sales [through] lifetime sales with five months on the market,” said Piscatella. For now, Microsoft and Sony continue to sell nearly every console that they make. And these sales would certainly be higher if they could produce more systems. Accessories also continue record sales in March The NPD also tracked a new March sales high for video game accessories. “March 2021 spending on video game accessories reached a March record $300 million,” said Piscatella. “[That’s] 26% higher when compared to a year ago. First quarter accessory dollar sales totaled $717 million, 42% higher than a year ago.” And while console sales and software can reveal excitement among gamers, peripheral sales are even more illustrative. People are buying new controllers and headsets because they know they’re invested into the new generation for the long run. That is resulting in strong sales for the DualSense gamepad. “The PS5 DualSense Wireless Controller White was the leading accessory in dollar sales for the month of March as well as the first quarter,” said Piscatella. And this momentum should last through the rest of the year. Source: March 2021 NPD: PlayStation 5 is the fastest-selling U.S. console ever
  14. Priorities for business and consumer PC buyers are changing. Remote working may have caused many people to value their laptop and desktops a lot more, but the PC industry is likely to struggle as companies and consumers cut back on spending. PCs may have been viewed as yesterday's news thanks to the rise of smaller form factors like smartphones, tablets and wearables, but trusty laptops and desktops (and variations on them like Chromebooks and even Raspberry Pis) have proven their worth during lockdown for workers and kids doing home schooling. But that utility doesn't imply future sales: Canalys forecasts that global PC and tablet shipments will fall 7% from 396 million devices in 2019 to 368 million in 2020. According to the analyst firm, the global PC market will remain flat in 2021 and return to growth, at 2%, in 2022. Demand for notebooks has surged in the short term, leaving vendors scrambling, said Ishan Dutt, analyst at Canalys. This is likely to continue as businesses that have been forced into home working are now choosing to implement it on a larger scale, and are investing in devices to give them flexibility. Schools will also be switching to laptops as they invest in remote learning. But desktop refresh rates will suffer as businesses remain uncertain about the scope of their operations and their office space needs, Dutt said. The rush to remote working has emphasised the continuing importance of the PC. "Despite the progress that smartphones and tablets have made in recent years, the need for a high-performance mobile computing device has never been more pronounced", said Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi, who added that PC sales may actually creep up slightly next year. Canalys said that the PC market has been rattled by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, and that the rest of the year will see further year-on-year shipment declines, although smaller than in the first quarter. That's largely down to the recovery of the supply chain and manufacturing base for PCs in China, which will allow manufacturers to service the pent-up demand for businesses looking to support remote working and education. Image: Canalys However, the analyst firm warned that the likely recessionary impact of the coronavirus will see consumers, businesses and governments focus on other spending ahead of PC refresh when times get tough. By region, Canalys forecasts that PC and tablet shipments will fall only 3% in 2020 and will post growth of 4% in 2021 in China, and fall 1% year on year in 2020 in Asia Pacific, where market recovery will start in 2021. Total PC and tablet shipments in North America will drop 6% year on year in 2020 and only start to recover in 2022, the analyst firm said. In Europe, with the bulk of commercial PC refresh having occurred last year, and businesses and consumers being forced to tighten their purse strings, the second half of 2020 will see sharp declines, with PC and tablet shipments to EMEA set to fall 10% in 2020 before posting growth of 1% in 2021. In Latin America, Canalys expects shipments to fall 16% year on year. Source
  15. johnmayer

    Need Help Buying New Laptop

    Hi Guys, i need help buying new laptop with good performance and the processor should be atleast i3 and iam not concerned about getting OS with the laptop and my budget is 20,000-25,000 rupees so your welcome to suggest Thank you.
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