June 21, 2018 brianradio2016

When Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Tablet made its debut in 2016 it was designed to compete with devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Two years on, the X1 Tablet has become a staple of the ThinkPad line, and is now on its third generation. With the classic ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen also in Lenovo’s top-tier line-up, business users have plenty of ThinkPad X1 configurations to choose between.

The 13-inch ThinkPad X1 Tablet is designed to bring tablet computing into the office without compromising on traditional laptop features. It should be the only laptop a mobile professional needs — that’s the idea, anyway, and the bundling of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Pen Pro will please those of a more creative persuasion.

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The 13-inch X1 Tablet runs 8th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. The tablet weighs 890g, rising to 1.27kg with the keyboard attached.

Images: Lenovo

The industrial design and build quality is exactly what you’d expect from the flagship ThinkPad X1 range. With MIL-STD 810G certification, the X1 Tablet should withstand knocks and drops, while the Gorilla Glass-protected touch screen should resist scratches and dings.

As usual with a detachable laptop-tablet hybrid, the bulk of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s components are in the screen section, so that’s the bulkier, heavier element. For the record, the tablet alone weighs 890g and measures 304mm by 225.56mm by 8.9mm (11.96in. x 8.88in. x 0.35in.). With the keyboard section attached the weight increases to 1.27kg and thickness to 15.1mm (0.59in.).

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The kickstand supports a wide range of screen angles.

Image: Lenovo

The tablet keyboard sections are held together by strong magnets — and I mean strong. While I don’t recommend it, you can carry the whole unit around by the screen, with the keyboard dangling below, and it won’t fall away.

The tablet’s build is very solid. The durable kickstand hinge supports a wide range of angles, so the screen can easily be set up for comfortable viewing.

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The keyboard is a little less tough, being thin and having a fair amount of flex. Still, it’s fine when the screen and keyboard are linked for transit: the two halves shut together neatly, and the whole thing feels like a solid unit.

The ThinkPad Pen Pro is too fat to sit in a chassis-integrated housing. Thankfully the rather cumbersome stylus holder that occupied a full-size USB port in the original model has been ditched, and there’s now a holder that fits into a dedicated slot on the back of the tablet, beneath the kickstand.

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With the ThinkPad Pen Pro in its holder, the volume rocker is inaccessible.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

I found this works quite well, but it’s not a perfect solution. The ThinkPad Pen Pro wedges into the holder quite tightly, which is good in that it’s less likely to drop out of the holder of its own accord and get lost, but bad in that it takes quite a yank to get the pen out, ready for use. Also, inexplicably, Lenovo has placed the tablet’s volume rocker so that it’s inaccessible when the ThinkPad Pen Pro is in its holder.

The screen’s 13-inch 3,000-by-2,000-pixel (3K) IPS touch screen delivers superb image quality, although it’s quite reflective. Gorilla Glass 4 should prevent the surface from getting scratched, or worse.

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The 13-inch IPS screen is quite reflective but delivers excellent image quality. The keyboard section is somewhat flexible, but still allows you to touch-type at good speed.

Images: Lenovo

The keyboard is necessarily built into a shallower space than is the case with a conventional laptop. It’s recessed so that the keys don’t damage the screen when the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is closed down, and as a result the feel is slightly less comfortable than usual under the fingers. The keys are all well sized — and that includes the arrow keys and Fn keys — and there’s a large Enter key. I was able to touch type at my normal speed, although the experience is less satisfying than on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd Gen.

The touchpad is responsive, and its size has not been compromised by the two-piece setup. Indeed, Lenovo includes its signature scroll and mouse buttons between the top of the touchpad and the space bar, and also has its signature red TrackPoint between the G, H and B keys.

The 2018 ThinkPad X1 Tablet uses 8th generation Intel Core processors. There are just three preconfigured models on Lenovo’s UK website, and I was sent the mid-range model to review. The top-end option costs just a shade over £2,000 (inc. VAT), but for the money you get a Core i7-8650U processor. None of the preconfigured models have integrated LTE mobile broadband, though.

  • Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Home, 13.0 inch 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
    £1,479.99 (inc. VAT; £1,233.32 ex. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.0 inch 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
    £1,849.99 (inc. VAT; £1,541.66 ex. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-8650U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.0 inch 3,000 x 2,000 IPS touch screen, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
    £2,019.99 (inc. VAT; £1,683.32 ex. VAT)

Ports and connectors are closer to what we’d expect to find on a tablet than on a laptop. So, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one of which will be occupied when the device is charging, and a headset jack. And that’s your lot. Well, actually, not quite: there’s a SIM tray for those who want to add LTE mobile broadband, and the caddy has room for a MicroSD card too. This is handy, but whenever a card needs to be used, the tray has to be popped out. Cue the old open-paper-clip manoeuvre, which isn’t an elegant solution for a premium laptop.

There’s a fingerprint reader on the bezel, looking just like the home/biometric button on other tablets. There are two cameras — 2MP and 8MP at the back — and you can add IR as an option if you want to use Windows Hello authentication.

Unlike on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, there’s no ThinkShutter to cover the camera lens when required. Lenovo has created a problem for itself here: if this privacy solution is deemed important enough for the X1 Yoga — and to feature lower down the ThinkPad range, on the ThinkPad T480s for example — why is it absent from the X1 Tablet? Either it matters or it doesn’t.

The stereo speakers deliver plenty of volume, but — as so often on laptops and tablets — there’s a distinct lack of bass. They’ll do the job for video calls and after-hours movie watching, but don’t expect top-quality audio.

Lenovo rates the X1 Tablet’s 42Wh battery for up to 9.5 hours, which seems like a good estimate. In one test session involving writing to the web, a fair bit of streaming and some web browsing, I got through 48 percent of battery life in 4.5 hours. Depending on workloads, it may well be possible to get through a working day from a full charge.

Conclusions

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Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3rd Gen is compact and portable, and the bundled stylus expands the range of use cases. Many users should find battery life good enough for all-day working, and twin Thunderbolt 3 ports will be handy — although one will be occupied when the battery is charging.

There are some drawbacks: the MicroSD card slot is fiddly to get at, audio quality should be better on a device that’s aimed at mobile professionals and creatives, there’s no ThinkShutter for the camera, and Lenovo still hasn’t provided a perfect external housing for its stylus.

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June 21, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: VW and Audi cars could be hacked remotely via their infotainment system.

More security news

A new specification is being developed with the aim of letting car owners unlock and lock their vehicles using a smartphone.

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which counts Apple and Samsung as members, has published the Digital Key Release 1.0 Specification, offering a first look at a standardized way of using a smartphone to lock and unlock any vehicle, start its engine, and share access to the car.

CCC is looking to use existing technologies such as Bluetooth and NFC as part of the Digital Key standard.

The specification outlines a number of use cases, such as how a smartphone would unlock or lock the vehicle, for example, when it is in close proximity, by placing it near a sensor, or by opening an app.

To use the key, the specification suggests authentication could be required either via passcodes or a phone’s biometric readers.

The specification also discusses key provisioning and revocation, pointing to potential applications for car-sharing businesses and car-rental agencies, which would be able to give customers a Digital Key on their phone that expires after the rental period is completed.

“This mechanism works agnostic of the brand of the car or the smart device, so that the rental agency is the single contact point for the customer,” it notes.

This technology could also come in handy when buying a secondhand car, with the system allowing the new owner to simply revoke all previously provisioned keys.

The specification doesn’t go into specifics about how the keys will need to be protected, but it does say whatever mechanism it uses it will need to prevent unauthorized copying, modification and deletion of existing keys.

It will also need to prevent unauthorized provisioning, and factor in software attackers, physical attacks, and attacks on communications between the device and vehicle.

Presumably, Digital Keys for the car will face similar security challenges to today’s various smart locks, as seen in Pen Test Partner’s hack on a Bluetooth-enabled smart padlock this week.

According to CCC, the Digital Key project is using “the expertise of the automakers and handset vendors contributing to development of an entire Digital Key ecosystem while addressing the concerns of reliability and security”.

Digital Key Release 2.0, scheduled for release in Q1 2019, will outline a standardized authentication protocol between the vehicle and smart device.

CCC’s board includes representatives from General Motors, Volkswagen, Daimler, RealVNC, HTC, PSA, Honda, LG Electronics, Hyundai, Alpine, Toyota, Panasonic, and Samsung.

CCC’s charter member companies include Apple, Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, and Volkswagen. Core members include Alps Electric, Continental Automotive, Denso, Gemalto, NXP, and Qualcomm.

As Audi notes in the announcement, it already offers customers a Digital Key service and suggests it will play a lead role in the standard.

“By standardizing a Digital Key solution that complies with our security standards we lay the building blocks for innovative services on a broad basis,” said Ulf Warschat, head of Body Electronics at Audi.

BMW is also keen on Release 2.0. “Leveraging all benefits of Release 2.0 will enable a scalable solution, interoperable with all smart devices and vehicles delivering a superior user experience to our customers,” said Alexander Maier, BMW AG.

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June 21, 2018 brianradio2016

Mac users have been able to create and use text clippings since the last century and Mac OS 9, but the feature remains relatively underexploited — despite being such a great way to boost productivity.

What are text clippings?

Text clippings are small chunks of text on your Mac. Easy to create, they are also easy to use: To add the text to anything you write in any application, you just need to drag & drop the clipping to the document and the words in the clipping will be added to that document. The text can be long, short, or medium, and it can contain HTML links.

How do you create a text clipping?

Creating a text clipping is very easy. If you ever select text to copy & paste it, then you’re almost there. Here’s the fastest way to make a text clipping:

  • Select some text
  • With the text selected, drag & drop the text to your Mac Desktop or Finder window.
  • “Boom” — You’ll see a little text clipping appear.
  • By default the clip will name itself using the first few words of the text, but you can change this.

Tip: If you are going to create multiple clippings to help you automate various tasks, you may want to create a new Folder called Clippings on your Mac. Pop them all in there.

June 20, 2018 brianradio2016

As the battle for cashier-less stores rages on — with Amazon Go’s one-store trial pushing Microsoft and Walmart to explore a mobile cart-based system to ditch associates at checkout — it’s worth questioning whether an employee-less checkout system is something that retailers should truly want. Fully cashier-less efforts should fall into the “be careful what you wish for” category.

The challengers for cashier-less checkout are not solely technological, although the tech hurdles are substantial. Anyone remember JCPenney’s failed effort to fuel cashier-less checkout via RFID?

The real issue is trusting any one system too much. That’s both an IT issue as well as a consumer/shopper issue. Retailers first must convince shoppers/consumers that the system is trustworthy enough for them to try it. Consider when Apple first rolled out its checkout-by-app tactic and then promptly had a customer who tried it only to be incorrectly arrested and jailed overnight. What message did that send other customers who were considering trying it, too?

There have been plenty of examples of driverless cars having accidents, sometimes deadly ones. What message does that send to potential drivers? This column looked last month at the Amazon Echo privacy nightmare when the software made some autonomous decisions and recorded — and transmitted — a family’s private conversation to a co-worker.

June 20, 2018 brianradio2016

Vide: What’s new in Google’s latest update to Android P?

what’s hot on zdnet

Chinese phone maker Oppo has unveiled the Oppo Find X, an Android smartphone with a 6.4-inch OLED display that spans almost its entire front surface.

Rather than follow the standard notch answer to edge-to-edge displays, Oppo has gone with a mechanical pop-up camera behind the display, leaving the screen free of any cutouts for the selfie camera and facial-recognition sensors.

The Find X’s ‘stealth 3D camera’ will rise up when the camera app is opened and retracts when it is closed.

It features a whopping 25-megapixel front-facing camera and a dual 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel rear camera.

As noted by CNET, the front-facing 3D face-scanner improves selfies and unlocks the phone. It is similar in design used by the Vivo Nex’s pop-up selfie from Vivo, the sibling of Oppo and OnePlus, which are all owned by BKK Electronics.

Oppo says the Find X facial recognition uses 3D structure light technology, which Apple used for the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera.

However, instead of 30,000 dots projected onto a user’s face, the Find X projects 15,000 dots. Nonetheless, it claims the Find X’s facial recognition is 20 times faster than fingerprint recognition on the rear of the OPPO R15 Pro.

The Find X checks all the boxes for the high-end 2018 smartphone, including Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 processor, 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage, VOOC fast charging, and a 3,730mAh battery.

The display stretches from top to bottom and curves around the edges on both sides, giving it a 93.8 percent screen ratio, according to Oppo.

The Find X will be available globally in August, with the 256GB option costing €999, which converts to about $1,159.

oppofindx.jpg

Oppo has gone with a mechanical pop-up camera behind the Find X display, leaving the screen free of any cutouts.

Image: Oppo

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June 20, 2018 brianradio2016

If you can determine the vitality of a platform within a sector by the activity it generates, then the appearance of new Apple in the enterprise-focused start-up, Fleetsmith, speaks volumes. I caught up with Zack Blum, CEO and co-founder, to see why he thinks the enterprise is Apple’s space today.

Apple ‘raised the bar’ for enterprise IT

Apple’s place in the enterprise is an iPhone success story, Blum observes.

“In many ways, Apple formalized and standardized the introduction of mobile to the enterprise, going all the way back to the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, and the iPad, which debuted in 2010,” he said.

Fleetsmith offers what Blum claims to be a highly secure, cloud-based SaaS Apple device management solution. He says his solution makes it possible to securely automate the provisioning of new Apple devices, including application install, update and more.

June 20, 2018 brianradio2016

Quick! Name a log analysis service. If the first word that popped out of your mouth was “Splunk,” you’re far from alone.

But Splunk’s success has spurred many others to up their log-analysis game, whether open source or commercial. Here is a slew of contenders that have a lot to offer sysadmins and devops folks alike, from services to open source stacks.

Elasticsearch (ELK stack)

The acronym “LAMP” is used to refer to the web stack that comprises Linux, the Apache HTTP web server, the MySQL database, and PHP (or Perl, or Python). Likewise, “ELK” is used to describe a log analysis stack built from Elasticsearch for search functionality, Logstash for data collection, and Kibana for data visualization. All are open source.

Elastic, the company behind the commercial development of the stack, provides all the pieces either as cloud services or as free, open source offerings with support subscriptions. Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana offer the best alternative to Splunk when used together, considering that Splunk’s strength is in searching and reporting as well as data collection.

June 20, 2018 brianradio2016

APIs have become the mechanism of choice for connecting internal and external services, applications, data, identities, and other digital assets. As a result, APIs now have the potential to serve as a similarly valuable mechanism for analytics. Equally important, APIs can provide a significantly easier-to-use alternative to the traditional, ad hoc approaches to data collection and data analysis that have slowed the process of converting information into the intelligence required by today’s data-driven organizations.

The alliance of APIs and analytics is a natural one, since both technologies are critical to streamlining operations and unlocking innovation. Typically, an organization will begin its digital transformation by embracing APIs to enhance the integration of systems and automation of processes. With several comprehensive turnkey API management solutions on the market, enterprise developers can get a system into production in weeks to months, building in integrations to easily fill in any gaps. From there, the team can continuously improve the implementation.

The next step in digital transformation is analytics as enterprises evolve toward becoming data-driven businesses. Among the technologies being employed to understand an organization’s dynamics and help with decision-making are sophisticated data aggregation, machine learning, data mining, and data visualization. Together, they enable enterprise teams to understand the dynamics of the business, detect patterns, and predict future developments. However, the challenges associated with collecting data and building custom analysis have hindered the adoption of analytics. And even when adopted, analytics is nowhere near having the transformational impact once predicted.

This article explores the challenges of embracing analytics using traditional approaches, examines how API management can address these challenges, and presents a solution blueprint for using API management to mine valuable data for analytics.

June 20, 2018 brianradio2016

Believe it or not, gray-with-age Windows 7 gained market share in March and April 2018. Even now, Windows 10, which arrived not quite three years ago, is running on only 39.3% of all Windows PCs, compared to Windows 7’s 47.3%.

I believe it. Month in and month out, one of the most popular articles I have posted on the internet tells you how to still get Windows 7 legally. Hint: Windows 7 Pro SP1 OEM edition on Amazon is going for $199.

Why not? It’s no secret: A lot of us still prefer Windows 7 to Windows 10. (The less said of Windows 8.x the better.) And Windows 7 extended support won’t end until January 14, 2020.

Well, I’ll tell you why not. Microsoft seems to be slowly but surely strangling its tech support for Windows 7.