January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

As we rappel down the Patch Tuesday rabbit hole this month, Microsoft just announced it’s going to start pushing its January Windows security patches onto AMD processors again. But it neglects to mention which ones. Per a late-night change to KB 4073707:

Microsoft has resumed updating the majority of AMD devices with the Windows operating system security update to help protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown.

A small subset of older AMD processors remain blocked to avoid users getting into an unbootable state after installation of recent Windows operating system security updates. Microsoft is working with AMD to resolve this issue and should resume Windows OS security updates to this subset of AMD processors via Windows Update and WSUS by next week. For AMD device-specific information please refer to AMD’s Security Advisory.

Of course, AMD’s Security Advisory has very little information — and no mention at all about which AMD processors were originally removed from the list and which are now apparently back on the patch list.

Conspicuously, this paragraph has been pulled from KB 4073707:

Microsoft has resumed updating the majority of AMD devices with the Windows operating system security update to help protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown.

Which makes me wonder if Microsoft is still pointing the finger at AMD, or if the two have somehow come to a resolution of their spitting contest.

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

There have been many companies whose products have changed, and even revolutionized the way in which we live, but it’s hard to find one which has had the global impact of Microsoft. 

People like them and dislike them for various reasons, but I sincerely doubt that any of us can objectively dismiss the impact Microsoft has made. 

Founded in 1975, they are a young company by many standards, which may be a contributing factor to their success, but part of their success has been their resilience and ability to respond to changing technologies, market demands, and business opportunities. 

In some cases, they have created opportunities, and even demand, while in others they were slow to respond or late to react. 

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

Dell has announced its new XPS 15 at CES 2018 in Las Vegas on Tuesday, with the 2-in-1 priced from $1299.99 and available as of spring in the northern hemisphere.

everything CES 2018

Frank Azor, VP and GM of XPS, Alienware, and Dell Gaming, called it the most powerful 2-in-1 ever produced thanks to a partnership between Intel and AMD.

“Intel and AMD partnered together on creating a brand new chip that took the best of their CPU silicon and the best of their Vega mobile graphics, and combined it into one chip,” Azor explained.

“What that allowed us to do is give you the horsepower that those two pieces of silicon have to offer in a much smaller form factor than would otherwise be possible if those two pieces of silicon were separated from one another.

“That’s allowing us to give you a 15-inch 2-in-1 that’s about 16 millimetres thick and delivers remarkable performance.”

The XPS 15 (9575) is powered by a choice between an 8th-generation Intel quad-core i5 or i7 processor, which features Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics with 4GB of HBM2 RAM; runs Microsoft Windows 10; and has a 3,200×1,800 15.6-inch UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge touch display.


The new Dell XPS 15

(Image: Dell)

It also comes kitted out with a 75Wh battery with 15 hours of battery life; edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 4; two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-C 3.1 ports, and a microSD card reader; an optional Windows Hello-compliant fingerprint reader in the power button; 802.11ac wireless with optional vPro functionality, and Bluetooth 4.1, as well as Miracast capability; 8GB-16GB dual-channel DDR4 at 2400MHz on-board and 32GB post-RTS; and GORE Thermal Insulation to improve performance by moving heat out of the device to keep temperatures down.

Storage options include 128GB SATA, 256GB PCIe, 512GB PCIe, or 1TB PCIe SSD, while docking options include the 130W Dell Dock or the 180W Dell Thunderbolt Dock. It comes with gyroscope, eCompass/magnetometer, and accelerometer/FFS sensors.

See also: CES 2018 special coverage (CNET)

The XPS 15 is available in the same platinum silver aluminium with black carbon-fibre composite palm rest as the previous model, with Azor telling ZDNet that the plan is to guage consumer interest in a white finish before it extends the use of the white crystalline material it helped invent for the new XPS 13 to the XPS 15.

“We may introduce new colours in the future, depending on what our customers would like to see from us. If white is in demand, we will absolutely consider it,” he told ZDNet.

The XPS 15 comes with a magnetic maglev keyboard, as well as being compatible with the newly announced Dell Premium Active Pen, which magnetically attaches to the 2-in-1.

“We’ll also be using a brand new maglev keyboard, which is a completely different keyboard construction … it uses magnets to give you the responsiveness that you’ve come to expect from the best notebook keyboards,” Azor told media.



The new Dell XPS 15

(Image: Dell)

The Dell Premium Active Pen will be priced at $99.99 and become available on April 6 in the US and June 12 globally.

“The Dell Premium Active Pen was created with 4096 pressure sensitivity for fine control to create strokes of varying lightness or darkness and low latency or lag for a more natural writing experience,” Dell explained.

“Tilt support allows for more detailed shading when you draw. The top button instantly launches OneNote, captures a screenshot, or activates Cortana; two barrel buttons efficiently erase or launch the context menu; and the Quick Launch button allows you to quickly and conveniently take notes by writing on the locked screen.”

Dell also used CES to announce two new Thunderbolt 3 storage devices, one with 500GB capacity that will sell for $439, and one with 1TB capacity for $799, which will both become available on February 28.

Thunderbolt 3 technology supports bandwidth of 40Gbps, with Dell citing transfer speeds of up to 2,650MBps.

Dell also spruiked its new 24-inch Ultrathin Monitor for $299.99 and 27-inch Ultrathin Monitor for $499.99, which will become available on January 30, as well as its Alienware command centre software, along with a new Inspiron VR gaming desktop PC.

The new Inspiron, available as of January 9, includes support for all premium virtual reality (VR) headsets on the market for $799 — or $749 for those who don’t want a VR configuration.

It includes a choice of Intel’s 8th-generation core i3, i5, or i7 processors; 8GB or 16GB of DDR4 memory at 2400MHz, with 64GB of additional memory sold separately; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 2GB GDDR5, 1060 with 3GB GDDR5, or 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 graphics; and a Micro ATX motherboard or Intel Z370 Express Chipset.

Lastly, Dell announced its Mobile Connect product, which will provide wireless point-to-point smartphone-PC integration for calls, texts, notifications, and mirrored screens, which comes factory installed on XPS, Alienware, Inspiron, and Vostro PCs as of January.


CES 2018: Trends to expect

The big consumer electronics show kicks off on Jan. 7 in Las Vegas. Here’s a rundown of trends to watch for at CES 2018.

CES 2018 special coverage (CNET)

The latest news from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2018: New Intel core processor adds Radeon RX Vega M graphics

Intel has combined 4GB of high-bandwidth memory gen 2 with AMD’s Radeon RX Vega M Graphics on its 8th-generation core processor, available in core i5 and i7 configurations.

Dell unveils new XPS 13 ahead of CES

Dell’s new XPS 13 packs an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, Intel UHD Graphics, and an UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge touch display with fingerprint recognition, and is backed up by 19 hours of battery life.

CES 2018: Dell upgrades Latitude notebooks, begins making motherboards from gold e-waste

Dell’s new Latitude 7490 uses an active steering antenna to improve Wi-Fi performance by 155 percent, while its Latitude 5285 notebooks will begin shipping with motherboards made from gold e-waste as of March.

Samsung to reveal QLED monitor with Thunderbolt 3 at CES

The 34-inch curved monitor, CJ791, comes with a Thunderbolt 3 cable that moves data at speeds four times faster than USB alternatives.

CES 2018: The products and companies to watch (TechRepublic)

While much of the CES crowd fixates on big TVs and connected cars, we’ll have the stories about AI, data, and 5G that will impact the future of business.

CES 2018: Could laptops be the surprise show-stealer? (TechRepublic)

PCs have long been on the back burner at CES, but ARM-powered laptops could make them the surprise hit of the show this year because of two important features.

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: Healthy iPhone battery or not, you can still get a replacement for $29

Apple’s response to being caught throttling older iPhones — something that conspiracy theorists have been accusing Apple of doing for years — has been bad. Shockingly bad.

Must read: How to tell if your iPhone battery needs replacing

Let’s begin right at the start. Who at Apple OK’d the idea of throttling older iPhones in the first place? Not only that, but they went a step further and decided not to tell anyone that iOS contained code that deliberately slowed down iPhones whose batteries were showing signs of wear.

To say that this was boneheaded is putting it mildly. While the geek in me thinks that the solution that Apple came up with for iPhones randomly restarting was a clever one, the way it was implemented, and the fact that it was kept a secret from users, leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. How no one at Apple thought that this would not come to light, and that the revelation would later snowball into lawsuits and Senate committee probes is just beyond me.

I also find it hard to believe that a step as drastic as inserting code into the iOS platform wouldn’t need to get a green light from those at the highest echelons of Apple, which raises questions about the executive’s fitness to lead the company into the future.

But mistakes happen. Even at Apple. Most mistakes are remembered not for the mistake itself but for how it was handled. And if Apple deciding that it would be OK to slow down older iPhones was bad, how the company has dealt with the fallout has been nothing short of shambolic.

Apple’s “apology” was far from being an apology. In fact, I rolled my eyes so far and so fast when I read it that I think I sprained them. Not only was it not specifically signed by any of Apple’s executives, which given the severity of the situation I would have expected, but the tone was more defiant than apologetic, and reminiscent of how the company responded to the Antennagate issue in 2010.

Rather than saying sorry, it feels as though Apple is lecturing users about how it knows best, and that pushing out updates that quietly hobbled devices was the right thing to do.

It wasn’t.

Then there’s the “solution” that Apple proposed to the problem: The $29 battery replacement. Not only did Apple not consider how users might determine whether they needed to spend the money on having their iPhone’s battery replaced, but no consideration was given to those who had become frustrated by their iPhones and consigned it back to Mother Earth Gaia for recycling.

This entire issue, from whatever process Apple has for determining what goes into iOS to the response, is a worrying sign that the Cupertino giant is chaotic, muddled, and disorganized. The fact that no one from Apple has come forward to take charge of this situation is frankly unbelievable, and the fact that Apple seems to be just hunkering down and hoping that this problem goes away are major red flags.

Apple needs to take charge of this situation as soon as possible. Otherwise this is something that we’re going to be talking about for years, and it’s an issue that’s going to haunt Apple each and every time it releases new software. Trust in Apple is now shattered, and it feels like no one at the company cares.

Related stories

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

If you’re a tax time do-it-yourselfer, this is a deal that will save you money, and potentially make you some money as well.

H&R Block’s popular tax software is fully updated for 2018 and designed to make your 2017 tax prep easier and more convenient. Step-by-step interviews guide you through a customized experience relevant to your tax situation, so you know everything is accounted for. This version contains everything you need to prepare your federal and state taxes in one complete program, and everything can be handled electronically (including the PC or Mac software download). Right now the tax software’s price is reduced 33% on Amazon to $29.99.

You’ll notice a “5% refund bonus offer” included with this purchase. In 2018, if you purchase an Amazon gift card with some/all of your federal tax refund, H&R Block will add 5% as a bonus ($5,000 bonus limit per customer). I’m not great with math, but this does appear to be free money for those expecting a Federal refund.  See the popular tax software now on Amazon.

This story, “Get 33% Off H&R Block’s Federal & State Tax Software, Plus a 5% Amazon Bonus” was originally published by TechConnect.

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

Video: Millions of iPhone owners could put off buying new devices after Apple’s $29 replacement offer

Apple now faces a total of 32 class action lawsuits in the US for slowing down iPhones with older batteries without telling users.

Dozens of law firms in the US have filed suits seeking damages on behalf of iPhone owners, with potential suits brewing in France, Australia, Canada and South Korea.

As reported by Patently Apple, this week alone five US law firms filed separate iPhone slowdown class actions, including one from Hagens Berman, the firm behind the case that ended with Apple paying a $450m settlement over ebook price fixing.

One of two suits filed on Wednesday in San Jose cites six causes of action, including fraudulent conduct, unfair conduct, trespass to chattels, breach of implied duty, and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Trespass to chattels, or physically meddling with someone else’s property without permission, was expanded to include proximate interference with computer networks in lawsuits against spammers in the 1990s.

In the suit filed in San Jose this week, lawyers contend that Apple’s software updates were a trespass of chattels since the updates interfered with iPhone owners’ devices, which degraded their performance and utility.

Download now: Mobile device computing policy (free PDF)

“Apple intentionally pushed iOS updates, including but not limited to iOS 10 and 11 and their variants, despite knowing that the updates imposed performance demands that the phones’ hardware could not meet, throttled the phones’ performance, and otherwise negatively impacted the performance and utility of the phones,” the lawyers argue.


Lawyers contend that Apple’s software updates intentionally degraded the performance and utility of iPhone owners’ devices.

Image: CNET

“As a direct and proximate result of Apple’s interference with their iPhones, plaintiffs and the class suffered injury, including that their iPhones suffered a permanent and long-term degradation in performance, utility, condition, quality, and value. As a result, plaintiffs and/or class members were required and induced to purchase new iPhones and/or new batteries to their detriment and Apple’s benefit.”

Several other lawsuits similarly argue that Apple’s updates amounted to this trespass to chattels.

“Defendant Apple intentionally interfered with, and committed trespass to, plaintiff’s and putative class members’ property, ie, their iPhones, by installing performance-throttling software on their phones without their knowledge,” Hagens Berman writes in its suit.

“To reiterate: because Apple did not inform them of, or seek their consent to installation of, performance-throttling software when presenting them with the iOS 10.2.1 or 11.2 updates, or both of them, plaintiff and the putative class members did not consent to Apple’s interference.”

The Wall Street Journal this week reported that senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has asked Apple how it decided to throttle iPhone performance, while a French prosecutor has reportedly launched a preliminary investigation over the issue.

Previous and related coverage

Is Apple really throttling your old iPhone? Benchmarking firm settles the question for good

Benchmarking firm Futuremark has released the results of 100,000 iPhone tests to settle the question of whether your iPhone really does get slower over time.

Apple discounts battery replacements to make up for slowing down old iPhones (TechRepublic)

After purposefully slowing down iPhones due to battery issues, Apple is offering $29 replacement batteries for one year.

iPhone 7 throttling: Qualcomm says Apple gag stopped it revealing speed squeeze

Qualcomm has countersued Apple, arguing huge profits from the iPhone would have been impossible without its technology.

How to get Apple’s $29 iPhone battery replacement (CNET)

What you need to know, and what you need to do.

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

Warren Buffett’s advice on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be summed up in two words: Stay away. In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, the billionaire Berkshire Hathaway investor said that “in terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with almost certainty that they will come to a bad ending….

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016

After more than a week, YouTube has revealed the punishment star vlogger Logan Paul will receive for posting a video of a suicide victim in Japan . Paul, who laughed and joked about the dead man during the widely condemned video, will have his channels removed from the Google Preferred platform,…

January 11, 2018 brianradio2016


January 10, 2018 brianradio2016

With apologies to Alanis Morissette: “It’s like rain on your wedding day; it’s a blackout at a giant tech show…” USA Today reports the power went out for nearly two hours Wednesday in two of the main halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the Consumer Electronics Show. CES…