John P. Mello Jr.

About the Author John P. Mello Jr.


Smartphones

Google’s Pixel 2 Earns High Marks in Spite of Dull Design

As Google’s new Pixel 2 smartphones get ready to hit the shelves, reviews of the models have begun mushrooming online. While the new phones generally have received positive grades, many reviewers found the their design boring. “The Pixel 2 hardware is ho-hum,” observed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. “Google didn’t take many risks in its design.”

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Web Apps

Apple Releases Retro Version of iTunes

Apple has made a retro version of iTunes available, 12.6.3, reviving features removed by the mammoth 12.7 overhaul it released last month. News of the release surfaced Monday in a post on Reddit by user vista980622. Apple was low key about the release, saying in an online post dated Sept. 23 that the retro version was for business partners who needed iTunes to mass deploy apps on iOS devices.

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Consumer Security

Android Devs May Follow Apple’s Face ID Lead

Apple’s use of facial recognition to unlock its iPhone X may open the gates for developers champing at the bit to bring the technology to the Android world. Face ID, which will replace fingerprint scanning in Apple’s new iPhone X, uses Apple’s TrueDepth 3D camera to verify the owner of a phone. Android developers have been working on similar systems, said Sensible Vision CEO George Brostoff.

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Computing

When Quantum Computers Come, They May Speak Microsoft

Microsoft has been working on a language for a computer that doesn’t exist. The company unveiled the language — as yet unnamed — at its Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. Part of its Visual Studio product, it will run on a quantum simulator and quantum computer. “Quantum computing is the next phase in computing,” said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates.

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Software

SQL Server 2017 Embraces Linux, Docker

Microsoft on Monday announced the general availability of SQL Server 2017, now with support for Linux, at its Ignite conference in Orlando. The company first announced its plans for the newest iteration of its database software a year and a half ago. This is the first version of SQL Server to run on Windows Server, Linux and Docker, noted Scott Guthrie, EVP, cloud and enterprise, at Microsoft.

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Smartphones

Apple’s Worthy iPhone 8 Models May Languish in X’s Shadow

Reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have been laudatory. However, the reviewers can’t seem to get their minds off the jewel of the Apple universe, the iPhone X. Both the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are “awesome” and better than last year’s models — but iPhone shoppers who want to be part of the future will save their money and buy an iPhone X later in the year, suggested reviewer David Pierce.

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Gaming

Xbox One X: More Speed, More Muscle

Microsoft earlier this week announced the next version of its Xbox line of gaming consoles, ahead of E3 2017, now ongoing in Los Angeles. The new Xbox One X, which goes on sale Nov. 7 for $499, is slimmer than previous models and packed with power. With a 6-teraflop Scorpio engine, the One X has 40 percent faster graphics performance than its chief rival, Sony’s PS4 Pro.

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Health

New Stem Cell Treatment Offers Dramatic Burn-Healing Potential

A med-tech startup has developed a novel way to treat burn wounds. RenovaCare harvests a variety of cells, including stem cells, from a healthy area of skin on a patient. Those cells are then suspended in a water-based solution and sprayed onto the wound using the company’s SkinGun. “The sprayer allows us to have a generous distribution of cells,” explained RenovaCare’s Roger Esteban-Vives.

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Operating Systems

Apple’s iOS 11 Makes Siri a More Natural Woman… and Man

New voices for Siri and peer-to-peer payments are among the new features in the next version of Apple’s mobile device operating system iOS 11, previewed at the company’s annual Worldwide Development Conference on Monday. “With the new operating system, Apple has doubled down on many of the applications it has developed for iOS,” said Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research.

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Audio/Video

With Audio Focus, Apple Side-Steps Smart Speaker Competition

Apple raised the curtain on HomePod, its upcoming smart speaker, during Monday’s WWDC keynote presentation. The company also announced some desktop OS features for the iPad, and revealed its plans to become an augmented reality powerhouse. “Just like iPod reinvented music in our pockets, HomePod is going to reinvent music in our homes,” said Apple SVP Phil Schiller.

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Smartphones

Android Creator Launches a Phone of His Own

Essential, a company founded by Andy Rubin, the “father of Android,” on Tuesday pulled off the wraps on a new high-end smartphone. The Essential Phone, priced at $699, includes radios for connecting to all major U.S. carriers. The unit has an almost edge-to-edge display — there’s a bit of bezel at the bottom of its screen — that wraps around the 8-MP selfie camera at the front.

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Tablets

Main Surface Pro Improvements Are Beneath the Surface

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a refresh of its Surface Pro tablet-laptop computer. Although Microsoft said the fifth generation of the unit has been redesigned from the inside out with more than 800 new custom parts, the Surface Pro looks similar to its predecessor. “If you were looking for a major redesign of Surface, this isn’t it,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

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Social Networking

Leaked Docs Spotlight Complexity of Moderating Facebook Content

The public got a rare view into how Facebook tries to keep offensive and dangerous content offline in a report published Sunday. Leaked confidential documents exposed the secret rules by which Facebook polices postings on issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm, as well as such subjects as sports fixing and cannibalism.

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Tech Law

Data Watchdog Cautions Google and UK Health Partner

A British data watchdog has raised questions about whether it was appropriate for a healthcare trust to share data on 1.6 million patients with DeepMind Health, an AI company owned by Google. The trust shared the data in connection with the test phase of Streams, an app designed to diagnose acute kidney injuries. However, the sharing reportedly was performed without an appropriate legal basis.

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Home Tech

Amazon Adds Show to Echo’s Tell

Echo isn’t just for sound anymore. Amazon on Tuesday announced Echo Show, a new version of its popular smart speaker that comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen, 5-inch front-facing camera and dual 2-inch Dolby speakers. With its screen, it can show YouTube videos, access home security cameras, display photos and scroll lyrics as you listen to songs from streaming services.

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Chips

Flaw in Intel Chips Could Open Door to Botnet Armies

A 7-year-old flaw in Intel chips could enable hijackers to gain total control of business computers and use them for malicious purposes. The Intel AMT vulnerability is the first of its kind, according to Embedi, which released technical details about it last week. Attackers could exploit the flaw to get full control over business computers, even those turned off but plugged into an outlet.

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Community

Study Finds Gender Bias in Open Source Community

Gender bias affects contributions to the open source community, according to a paper published Monday. Female programmers’ suggestions for code changes in open source projects — called “pull requests” — were accepted more often than those of their male counterparts when gender was unspecified. However, that changed when the gender of a pull request’s author could be identified.

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Internet

Internet Giants Ramp Up Fake News Defenses

Three major Internet brands this week announced initiatives to combat “fake news” online.
Google revealed that it had tweaked its search processes to help bring high-quality content to the top of search result pages. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced a new online publication that aims to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with legions of volunteer community contributors.

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Boardroom

Uber Boss Practices Brinksmanship With Apple

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a reputation of playing fast and loose with rules, but it appears that a maneuver his company performed on iPhones took his ride-hailing outfit to the brink of ruin a couple of years ago. When Apple discovered Uber was planting code on iPhones that persisted on the devices even after the ride-hailing app was removed, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave Kalanick a warning.

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Tech Buzz

Apple May Be Getting Its Innovation Groove Back

Apple reportedly has begun testing a premium iPhone with a revamped display and body, which could be one of three new models the company is expected to launch this fall. The other two likely will be upgrades to the two existing iPhones. The new design will incorporate curved glass and stainless steel. It will increase the surface area of the display without increasing the size of the phone.

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Cybersecurity

Microsoft’s Timely Response to Shadow Brokers Threat Raises Questions

Just as the Shadow Brokers hacker group started crowing about a dump of never-seen-before flaws in Windows, Microsoft announced it already had fixed most of the exploits. “Today, Microsoft triaged a large release of exploits made publicly available by Shadow Brokers,” said Microsoft Principal Security Group Manager Phillip Misner. “Most of the exploits are already patched.”

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Cybersecurity

Spam Czar Nabbed in Spain May Have Link to Election Tampering

An alleged spam kingpin with possible ties to election meddling in the U.S. was arrested in Spain last week under a U.S. international warrant. Pyotr Levashov had been vacationing in Barcelona with his family. Levashov was arrested for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the Russian news outlet RT reported, but the DoJ said the arrest was not connected to national security.

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Hacking

Hackers Blast Emergency Sirens in Dallas

Screaming sirens serenaded Dallas residents in the early morning hours Saturday after a cyberattack set off the city’s emergency warning system. All of the city’s 156 sirens reportedly were set off more than a dozen times. Officials have not yet identified the perpetrator of the attack, but it likely was someone outside the Dallas area, said Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz.

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Software

Samsung’s Tizen OS Riddled With Security Holes

There are more than three dozen previously unknown flaws that pose a potential threat to consumers using some Samsung TVs, watches and phones, a security researcher has reported. Hackers could exploit the vulnerabilities found in Samsung’s Tizen operating system to gain remote access and control of a variety of the company’s products, according to Amihai Neiderman, head of research at Equus Software.

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Deals

Imagination’s Picture Bleak After Apple Cuts It Loose

Imagination on Monday announced that Apple would no longer use its intellectual property, and the company’s stock sank faster than a bottomless boat on the news. Apple planned to discontinue its use of the company’s IP in new products in 15 months to two years, ending the companies’ license and royalty agreement, Imagination said. Those royalties account for about half the company’s revenue.

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