August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

There’s a reason why it feels like déjà vu all over again. The version of Windows 10 that was supposed to be ready to roll out to the world at large just got an “oh, wait a minute” update of several dozen minor bug fixes. It’s still too early to tell if the tiny tweaks cause more harm than good, but it might be prudent to hold off on the massive rollout for now.

On July 27, Microsoft declared that Windows 10 Creators Update, version 1703, had garnered what we used to call “Current Branch for Business” status. As Gregg Keizer reported, Microsoft determined that 1703 was ready to roll out to businesses. The next day, Microsoft posted information about a new security patch, KB 4032188, that added dozens of bug fixes to version 1703, bringing it up to build 15063.501. Somehow that patch never made it out the door, and Microsoft quickly removed reference to it.

Last night, Aug. 1, Microsoft re-posted the KB 4032188 article, and this time released the cumulative update to go along with it. Again, there are dozens of separate bug fixes, none of which seem particularly devastating for most folks (e.g., “dropped key on Microsoft Surface Keyboard,” “NTFS sparse files were unexpectedly truncated,” problems “launching a Settings app while another application is using the camera”), but in total they represent a whole lot of little things that one would expect to be fixed before rolling a new Windows 10 version out to the mainstream.

For the record, KB 4032188, dated July 31 and released late Aug. 1, brings Windows 10 version 1703 up to build 15063.502 (screenshot)—one notch higher than the flash-in-the-pan version from July 27. Unexpectedly, this cumulative update also includes the .NET Framework July 2017 cumulative quality update for Win10 1703.

August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

Video: The Apple iPhone: 2007, meet 2017

What we know about the iPhone 8 is limited. By limited, I mean we only have rumors, speculation, and innuendo. You know nothing, Jon Snow.

We don’t even know what it (or they) will be called. If Apple follows its traditional tick-tock upgrade cycle, we’re about to enter the tock phase, where Apple substantially improves the current phone and plasters an “s” on the name.

Read also: iPhone 8: Everything we think we know so far | iPhone and iPad accessories from $6 to $200 | Got water in your iPhone? Here’s how to save your device

Most analysts expect an iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. But because the iPhone is 10 years old this year, we also have some expectations for a big feature reveal in a new, possibly limited-edition iPhone.

This is the iPhone 8, a sort of super-iPhone, one which people think might be as expensive as a not-cheap laptop. It’s the so-called tenth-anniversary iPhone.

There is some speculation that not only will this device be insanely expensive, it will also be tremendously difficult for Apple to produce. That leads the rumor mills to surmise that while it will probably be announced at the iPhone event in September or early October, it might not ship for months after that. Some claim that when it does ship, it will do so in small quantities.

In other words, if you want to get your hands on one, it’s going to be quite the challenge.

The way Apple has handled this sort of demand allocation in the past is allow to people to order the phone just as soon as its announced. Those who place their orders earlier have a chance to get a phone sooner. Those who wait often have to come back again and again — until Apple again accepts orders.

Personally, I think all of this is ridiculous. It’s a phone. But I’m not a stand-in-a-line sort of guy. If there’s a restaurant with a line, I’m not going to stand in it. I’m also not going to get crazy about a future version of an iPhone when my current one works just fine.

I don’t like the idea of a bevel-less display. I really don’t want a hidden home button. I think the idea of facial recognition to unlock is a nightmare that will both reduce security and increase frustration. If I shave my beard, does that mean I can no longer unlock my phone? Don’t worry, I’m not shaving my beard. But you get the point.

On the other hand, some people do need to get the phone as soon as possible. Developers form one category. There are some favored developers that will be seeded devices by Apple. But Apple has millions of developers and not all of them are important enough to get special treatment from Cupertino. Many of them will want a phone as early as possible to customize their software and possibly try out new features.

Then there are the journalists. While there is a never-ending stream of news, reviews and write-ups of newly released Apple products are often hugely popular. Those tech journalists who have ever said a critical word about Apple are never getting review units from the company. Instead, they have to buy their own devices — just to tell you about them. If they have to wait months for a unit on allocation to arrive, they’re going to be scooped by anyone who managed to get a unit earlier.

These two groups are the ones for whom legitimately ordering a new Apple phone, sight unseen, makes sense. Then there are the folks who always want the latest and greatest Apple device so bad that they’ll spend almost anything and buy almost anything.

It was with this in mind that Alex Lindsay of MacBreak Weekly speculated that some number of loyal Apple customers will jump to the front of the line and pay a premium price, even if they have no idea what is in the new device.

He suggested that Apple should open up pre-ordering way before the device is announced, so those people who knew they’re going to buy the device — no matter what features are eventually announced or how expensive it will be — can get on the list early.

So, what do you think? Would you prepay for the next, top-of-the-line Apple iPhone, even if you don’t know how much it will cost or what it can do? Let us know in the TalkBacks below.

I’ll give you my answer. I use my headphone jack. I know my headphone jack. My headphone jack is a friend of mine. And the iPhone 8 will have no headphone jack.

P.S. One final cautionary note for pre-order fanboys and enthusiasts: Apple introduced a special 20th Anniversary Macintosh for the Mac’s 20th anniversary in 1997. It was weird, insanely expensive, and unsuccessful. If that’s any indication, an Apple anniversary-issue iPhone may not be the best thing for you to spend your cash on. Just saying.

P.P.S. MacBreak Weekly rocks. Definitely check it out.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

Until recently, I thought unwanted spam calls were mostly a thing of the past. The Federal government, as well as many states, set up Do Not Call registries that allowed consumers to enter their phone numbers and block most undesired calls from companies trying to sell goods or services. There were hefty fines for repeated violations, so most companies played by the rules and families could finally enjoy a peaceful meal uninterrupted by telephone solicitors.

I was living in a fool’s paradise.

Technology has made it very simple (and very cheap) for unscrupulous companies to make thousands of calls at almost no cost to themselves, and when those calls are coming from outside of the U.S. it is almost impossible to enforce Do Not Call laws. As a result, the number of robot-dialed spam calls has exploded. It has also become simple to spoof numbers and make them appear as if they are coming from the same area as the recipient’s phone. These are especially insidious because for many people, the initial reaction is to think a local person or business is likely placing the call.

Most carriers offer some sort of spam detection or filtering. If you are an AT&T, Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile customer, you should be able to take advantage of your carrier’s spam filtering service. My informal survey of friends and colleagues suggests that none of these perform perfectly, but they do help cut down on the number of spam calls that you actually answer, both through filtering at the network level and alerting you to potential spam calls before you answer the call. 

August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

lenovon23windows10s.png

Lenovo’s N23 notebook running Windows 10 S costs about $250 and is available worldwide today.

Image: Lenovo

As part of its back-to-school push, Microsoft has started selling the first affordable third-party notebooks running its locked-down Windows 10 S.

Microsoft has announced availability of the Lenovo N23 and N24, which Lenovo unveiled in January. The N23 and N24 for Windows 10 S will cost $249 and $279, respectively, and are available worldwide today.

More Windows 10

Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s answer to Google’s affordable and easy-to-manage ChromeOS-powered Chromebooks for the education sector.

So far, the only device to ship with Windows 10 S pre-installed has been Microsoft’s own $999 Surface Laptop, whereas this range is priced from $189 and up.

Windows 10 S devices run a version of Windows 10 Pro that can only install apps from the Windows Store and are limited to Microsoft’s Edge browser. Microsoft says this configuration will deliver longer battery life, faster boot-up, and better security, in addition to management features for IT admins.

Microsoft has listed several other models with Windows 10 S pre-installed that will be available soon, including the Asus Vivobook W202, which will cost $279 and is for the US market.

The Dell Latitude 3180 and 3189 will cost $229 and $299, respectively, and will be available in the US and Canada.

The Fujitsu Lifebook P727 will cost $999 and is for the US and Canada. Fujitsu has a P727 Windows 10 for the enterprise, but the Windows 10 S model has lower specs, in line with the other Windows 10 S models, which nearly all have 4GB of RAM and 64GB if storage and come with an 11.6-inch screen.

The HP ProBook x360 will cost $299 and be available in the US, the UK, and Australia.

Microsoft’s device page lists numerous other models as “Coming soon with Windows 10 S”, including the Acer TravelMate Spin B1 for $299, and several without prices including a Samsung Notebook M, a Toshiba Tecra C40-D, an Asus VivoBook Flip TP203, and Toshiba Portege X20W.

Microsoft yesterday also made Windows 10 S available for testing. This move is aimed at IT administrators in schools to allow them to test Windows 10 S on eligible Windows 10 devices.

Read more on Windows 10 S

August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

There’s now a JavaScript library for executing neural networks inside a webpage, using the hardware-accelerated graphics API available in modern web browsers.

Developed by a team of MIT graduate students, TensorFire can run TensorFlow-style machine learning models on any GPU, without requiring the GPU-specific middleware typically needed by machine learning libraries such as Keras-js.

TensorFire is another step towards making machine learning available to the broadest possible audience, using hardware and software people are already likely to possess, and via advances in how accurate model predictions can be served with a fraction of the resources previously needed.

The machine learning power is in your browser

TensorFire works using the WebGL standard, a cross-platform system for rendering GPU-accelerated graphics in browsers. WebGL supports GLSL, a C-like language used to write shaders, which are short programs used to transform data directly on the GPU.

August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

Real-time streaming data ingest is a common requirement for many big data use cases. In fields like IoT, e-commerce, security, communications, entertainment, finance, and retail, where so much depends on timely and accurate data-driven decision making, real-time data collection and analysis are in fact core to the business.

However, collecting, storing and processing streaming data in large volumes and at high velocity presents architectural challenges. An important first step in delivering real-time data analysis is ensuring that adequate network, compute, storage, and memory resources are available to capture fast data streams. But a company’s software stack must match the performance of its physical infrastructure. Otherwise, businesses will face a massive backlog of data, or worse, missing or incomplete data.

Redis has become a popular choice for such fast data ingest scenarios. A lightweight in-memory database platform, Redis achieves throughput in the millions of operations per second with sub-millisecond latencies, while drawing on minimal resources. It also offers simple implementations, enabled by its multiple data structures and functions.

In this article, I will show how Redis Enterprise can solve common challenges associated with the ingestion and processing of large volumes of high velocity data. We’ll walk through three different approaches (including code) to processing a Twitter feed in real time, using Redis Pub/Sub, Redis Lists, and Redis Sorted Sets, respectively. As we’ll see, all three methods have a role to play in fast data ingestion, depending on the use case.

August 2, 2017 brianradio2016

The usual pattern that Apple has followed as of late is to unveil the new iPhone on the first or second Tuesday or Wednesday of September, and then ship the iPhone second Friday following the event, or, as was the case with the iPhone 6s in 2015, the third Friday.

However, the current rumormill is suggesting that while the iPhone 8 will go on pre-order in September, it won’t be ship until October or perhaps even November.

This would allow Apple to not only get the regular and Plus iPhones out of the door, but also gauge demand for the iPhone 8, as well as catch up on shortages due to low component yields.

There are some going as far as to suggest that the tenth-anniversary iPhone 8 won’t ship this year. This seems unlikely to me.

Another possibility is that that the iPhone 8 will launch with some features disabled because the software for some features won’t be ready. As bad as this sounds, it’s better than having buggy features.

August 1, 2017 brianradio2016

If Microsoft were to have a motto for Office 2016, it could well be the old coaching adage “There is no ‘I’ in “team.” The suite offers considerable collaborative and teamwork features that turn Office from a tool for a single person into one that helps people work together.

If you work by yourself and will use Office as a standalone product, you’ll find far fewer changes from Office 2013. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Office is already so stacked with features that adding new ones just for the sake of it could harm rather than help its usability.

How successful has Microsoft been in adding collaboration features? And how useful are the handful of non-collaborative features added to the core of Office? That’s what I’ll cover in the rest of this review.

Share and share alike

The Office suite, particularly Word, has long had the best features of any productivity-tool suite for letting people review each other’s documents – I’ve always thought that its change-tracking, markup and reviewing features were the gold standard for document review. As someone who makes a living as a writer, I can’t imagine doing without them.

August 1, 2017 brianradio2016

The Escape Club had one of the biggest and most inescapable hits of the 80s with their 1988 number one blockbuster “Wild Wild West”. Contrary to popular belief, they are not one-hit-wonders, and cracked the code again in 1991 when their balled “I’ll Be There” hit the top 10 as well. Frontman Trevor Steel discusses the effects a number one smash has had on his life and, surprisingly, it isn’t the consistent windfall huge hits have been for other guests we’ve featured on the show. He’s had to pivot over the years to other roles within the music industry and Escape Club’s fortunes have fluctuated. The band still do their thing occasionally, releasing an excellent album called Celebrity in 2012. He’s a really good guy and honest about the ups and downs.

 

https://www.facebook.com/theescapeclub/

August 1, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft just announced a new financing option for Surface Laptops, Surface Pro 2017s, Surface Books and Surface Studios. On the, uh, surface, the Surface Plus plan for individuals looks quite inviting: A new Surface Pro 2017, for example, only costs $34 per month for 24 months; Surface Laptops run $42 per month, and Surface Books $63 per month. But before you take the plunge, be aware of the footnotes.

I priced out a top-of-the-line Surface Pro 2017, i7, 16 GB, 1 TB storage, Iris Plus, Extended Service, and came to a total of $2,848, or $119 per month with Klarna financing (formerly Kreditor), plus sales tax. If you go with the least-capable Surface Pro 2017, you end up with an m3 processor, 4 GB, 128 GB storage, built-in graphics and a Standard one-year limited warranty — for $799, or $33 per month.

In both cases, at the end of the 24 months, you end up paying for the machine at a zero-percent rate. If you miss a payment, you get hit with a late payment fee of $35, plus interest at 19.99%. The 18-month upgrade option specifically requires you to upgrade to another Microsoft product and use Klarna again for 24-month financing.

The Surface Laptop comes with Windows 10 S — the version that doesn’t run old-fashioned Windows programs — but through the end of the year you can upgrade Win10 S to Win10 Pro (which does run regular Windows programs) for free. The other machines come with Win10 Pro right out of the box.