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2018-01-18T17:56:04.928Z
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As we reported last week, Intel’s Meltdown and Spectre patch is causing reboot problems for older processors. Now Intel says the current firmware updates may be causing computers with newer chips to reboot more frequently as well. In a blog post, Intel VP Navin Shenoy said firmware-updated PCs with Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake, and even Intel’s most recent Kaby Lake processors are all affected.

The patches can also impact performance, with Intel saying that data center tests simulating a stock exchange interaction and online transaction showed a 4 percent slowdown. Other testing of various server workloads showed a slowdown of as much as 25 percent. Shenoy wrote that Intel has issued firmware updates for 90 percent of its CPUs introduced over the past five years, but noted that the company had “more work to do.”

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich previously penned an open letter and promised to be more transparent about CPU and performance impacts. The Meltdown and Spectre security flaws affect nearly every computing device made in the past two decades.

The change will officially begin this July. When you search for something, finding the best answers as quickly as possible is key. This is important when browsing on your desktop, but even more so when doing it from your phone. According to Google, this is the reason it'll be tweaking how search results are displayed later this year. Starting July 2018, search results on mobile will use page speed as a factor to determine what's placed up top and what's at the bottom. This is something that Google's been doing on desktop for a while now, but now it's officially making its way to mobile results. Google will introduce this as part of its "Speed Update", and it's said that this will "only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries." Furthermore, if a page has quality, relevant content, it'll still rank high in search results even if its page speed isn't the fastest around. If you're a developer and want to ensure your web pages are as snappy as can be, Google recommends using Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, and its Chrome User Experience. Google Clips likely launching soon as it passes through FCC
What's the best way to keep your Galaxy Note 8 charged in your car? Samsung's latest marvel is the Galaxy Note 8, a gorgeous device that's packed with awesome features and specs. The only glaring shortcoming might be the battery, which is slightly smaller compared to the Note 7 and Galaxy S8+. Fortunately, the Note 8 offers multiple different ways to keep it charged on the go, with USB-C fast charging along with Qi wireless charging capabilities. With the right accessories, you can be sure that you always arrive with a full charge. Charge your phone in your car with one of these great accessories. iOttie iTap Wireless Car Charger Dodocool Qi Wireless Car Charger Belkin USB-C Car Charger Tronsmart Dual USB Car Charger with Quick Charge 3.0 Nekteck USB Type-C Car Charger AUKEY USB-C Car Charger iOttie iTap Wireless Car Charger We spent some time testing the iOttie iTap Wireless Car Charger with the Galaxy S8 and it proved to be a fast and reliable wireless charger for inside your car. There are two mount styles included: one for your car and one for your work desk. The car mount is quick and easy to install on your dash and includes a ball joint to adjust the viewing angle. The magnetic hold is strong and the wireless charging is nearly instantaneous;...
Google hasn't forgotten about Clips just yet. Alongside big announcements like the Pixel 2 and Pixelbook at Google's October hardware event, we also got our very first look at Google Clips – a new camera from Google that uses AI to automatically capture moments for you. We haven't heard any follow-up news regarding Clips after its initial announcement, but it looks like it may be launching any time now. Variety recently spotted that Google filed for a new FCC listing, and although the name "Clips" isn't directly mentioned, its model number of G015A is. The listing doesn't reveal any new information about Google Clips, but it does suggest that we're nearing its official release. Clips have been on the Google Store since early October, but there's only been an option to join a waitlist until Google decides to let people buy the thing. The price is set at $250, and it'll be interesting to see just how well it actually sells. The idea of having a camera that you place just about anywhere to automatically capture photos and videos (albeit with no audio) is certainly interesting, but with phone cameras being as good as they are (especially on Google's own Pixel 2), I'm thinking Google's going to be faced with an uphill battle trying to convince people to shell out $250 for a camera that'll probably take worse...
Enlarge / A dose of Tc-99m to be used in an upcoming scan. (credit: Getty | Rene Johnston) There’s a mad dash for a vital radioactive isotope that’s used in about 50,000 medical procedures every day in the US, including spotting deadly cancers and looming heart problems. Currently, access to it hinges on a shaky supply chain and a handful of aging nuclear reactors in foreign countries. But federal regulators and a few US companies are pushing hard and spending millions to produce it domestically and shore up access, Kaiser Health News reports. The isotope, molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), decays to the short-lived Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) and other isotopes, which are used as radiotracers in medical imaging. Injected into patients, the isotopes spotlight how the heart is pumping, what parts of the brain are active, or if tumors are forming in bones. But, to get to those useful endpoints, Mo-99 has to wind through a fraught journey. According to KHN, most Mo-99 in the US is made by irradiating Cold War-era uranium from America’s nuclear stockpile. The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration secretly ships it to aging reactors abroad. The reactors—and five subsequent processing plants—are in Australia, Canada, Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and the Czech Republic), and South Africa, according to a 2016 report by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Private companies then rent irradiation time at the...
Enlarge / Labo looks like a trip, Nintendo. (credit: Nintendo) Nintendo has announced a new build-your-own-accessories line for the Switch console, dubbed Nintendo Labo. It will arrive on April 20 in the United States and Japan and April 27 in Europe. Labo's two playsets, the $69.99 Variety Kit and the $79.99 Robot Kit, will come with marked cardboard sheets that must be punched and folded by players, along with connecting string, reflective stickers (for controller-sensing purposes), and other accessories. The foldable parts resemble everything from pianos to fishing rods, along with a full-body robot outfit. They accept both the Switch console and its Joy-Con controllers in various slots.

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Enlarge (credit: Apple) When you say "Hey Siri, give me the news" to your iOS device, Siri will now immediately begin playing a daily news update from a popular news podcast—NPR by default in the United States. Coming shortly before the launch of the HomePod smart speaker, also powered by Siri, this small feature is the latest that brings some Alexa or Google Assistant-style interactions to Apple's ecosystem. In the US, NPR's News Now podcast immediately begins playing as soon as you say the words. Note that hitting the home button and then saying, "Give me the news," won't do it, though. The feature has to be activated by the hands-free "Hey Siri" prompt used in CarPlay or in the upcoming HomePod's screenless interface. Samuel Axon

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Enlarge Yet another Android OEM is dragging its feet with its GPL compliance. This time, it's Xiaomi with the Mi A1 Android One device, which still hasn't seen a kernel source code release. Android vendors are required to release their kernel sources thanks to the Linux kernel's GPLv2 licensing. The Mi A1 has been out for about three months now, and there's still no source code release on Xiaomi's official github account. Unfortunately, GPL non-compliance is par for the course in the world of Android. Budget SoC company MediaTek once tried charging users for access to GPL'd code. Motorola under Lenovo has been regularly accused of violating the GPL and releasing incomplete sources or sources that differ from the kernel shipping on devices. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these alleged GPL violators are from China, which often plays fast and loose with IP law.

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Gary Waters) Apple announced on Wednesday that it would pay $38 billion in taxes to the federal government as it brings cash earned overseas into the United States. The big payment is the result of President Donald Trump's tax cut bill, passed last month, which created a new, special tax rate for overseas cash. Apple is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of that provision. The American company had around $250 billion in cash and other short-term assets held by overseas affiliates. Under previous tax law, Apple would have had to pay a tax of 35 percent in order to bring overseas cash back to the United States. Under the new law, that rate is cut to 15.5 percent, saving Apple tens of billions of dollars compared to what it would have paid to bring the cash home in 2017. Apple didn't have a choice about this. Under the new tax bill, all overseas cash is subject to a one-time 15.5 percent tax whether Apple leaves it overseas or moves it to the United States.

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Enlarge / A cryptocurrency mining farm. (credit: Marco Krohn) Satori—the malware family that wrangles routers, security cameras, and other Internet-connected devices into potent botnets—is crashing the cryptocurrency party with a new variant that surreptitiously infects computers dedicated to the mining of digital coins. A version of Satori that appeared on January 8 exploits one or more weaknesses in the Claymore Miner, researchers from China-based Netlab 360 said in a report published Wednesday. After gaining control of the coin-mining software, the malware replaces the wallet address the computer owner uses to collect newly minted currency with an address controlled by the attacker. From then on, the attacker receives all coins generated, and owners are none the wiser unless they take time to manually inspect their software configuration. Records show that the attacker-controlled wallet has already cashed out slightly more than 1 Etherium coin. The coin was valued at as much as $1,300 when the transaction was made. At the time this post was being prepared, the records also showed that the attacker had a current balance of slightly more than 1 Etherium coin and was actively mining more, with a calculation power of about 2,100 million hashes per second. That's roughly equivalent to the output of 85 computers each running a Radeon Rx 480 graphics card or 1,135 computers running a GeForce GTX 560M, based on figures provided here.

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Enlarge (credit: Fitbit) Now that FitStar's transition to Fitbit Coach is officially complete, Fitbit is expanding the devices that support its revamped personal training app. The company announced that the Fitbit Coach apps for Windows 10 and Xbox One devices will be available for download later today. Fitbit owned FitStar for a while before it announced its impending transformation into Fitbit Coach last year. The app, which is separate from the main Fitbit app that all of the company's wearables connect to, holds guided workouts, video routines, and other personalized fitness programs. Fitbit built off of FitStar's previous offerings and added more content that customers can access fully with a $39.99-per-year Premium subscription. There are some routines that users can access for free after downloading the app (which is free to download as well), but most of the content lies behind Fitbit's paywall.

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Enlarge / Cruise second-generation test vehicles, assembled at GM’s Lake Orion plant in Michigan. (credit: Cruise) In November, Waymo announced it would begin testing fully driverless vehicles with no one in the driver's seat. Then, last week, GM petitioned the federal government for approval to mass-produce a car with no steering wheel or pedals—with plans to release it in 2019. In short, driverless cars are on the cusp of shifting from laboratory research projects to real, shipping products. A new report from the consulting firm Navigant ranks the major players in this emerging driverless car industry. Navigant analysts see GM and Waymo as the clear industry leaders, while Ford, Daimler (teamed up with auto supplier Bosch), and Volkswagen Group are also strong contenders in Navigant's view. Dominating the driverless car business will require both advanced autonomous vehicle technology as well as the ability to mass-produce cars with the necessary sensors and computing hardware. In this respect, Silicon Valley tech companies and the OEMs face opposite challenges. Waymo has long been the leader in driverless software, but it needs to find a partner to help it manufacture the cars that will run that software. Conversely, car companies know how to build cars but don't necessarily have the expertise to create the kind of sophisticated software required for fully self-driving vehicles.

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Enlarge / The Dragon Box. (credit: Dragon Media) The entertainment industry is lining up against the maker of a "free TV" box in a lawsuit that alleges piracy, but the defendant's lawyer says the industry is in for a difficult and dangerous fight. "I think this is a very, very dangerous lawsuit by plaintiffs," lawyer Erik Syverson told Ars yesterday. "If the case does not go the plaintiffs' way, they will have established very unfavorable law to their business models and they may be digging their own grave." Syverson represents Dragon Media Inc., whose "Dragon Box" device connects to TVs and lets users watch video without a cable TV or streaming service subscription.

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Jonathan Gitlin DETROIT—It's fair to say that this year's North American International Auto Show has been a little lackluster. But one of the standouts was the North American debut of the new Audi A7. The previous model was—to my eyes—Audi's best-looking model, and I was worried that its successor wouldn't live up. Happily, that isn't the case. But the new A7 is not just a pretty face; under the skin, you'll find almost all the same technology that Audi is packing into its A8 flagship sedan. That means class-leading infotainment and—once regulators are happy—some seriously advanced headlights and level 3 autonomous driving.

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Enlarge (credit: National Park Service) Immigration policy in the US has grown increasingly contentious, seemingly pitting different communities and ideologies against each other. But a new study suggests that a large majority of Americans appreciate a welcoming policy toward immigrants. Only a specific minority—white conservatives—generally feels otherwise. And the effect isn't limited to policy, as it influenced whether citizens felt welcome in the place that they lived. The research, performed by a collaboration of US-based researchers, focused on New Mexico and Arizona. These states have similar demographics but radically different policies toward immigrants. Arizona has state policies that encourage police to check the immigration status of people they encounter; controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio ended up in trouble with the court system in part due to how aggressively he pursued this program. New Mexico, by contrast, will provide state IDs and tuition benefits to immigrants regardless of their documentation status. The researchers reasoned that these states would provide a reasonable test as to how immigration policies align with the feelings of the public. So they surveyed nearly 2,000 residents of the two states, including immigrants, naturalized US citizens, and people born in the US, focusing on the states' Caucasian and Hispanic populations.

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Enlarge / Despite her smiles here, NASA's commercial crew program manager has concerns about schedules for Boeing and SpaceX. (credit: NASA) Publicly, both Boeing and SpaceX maintain that they will fly demonstration missions by the end of this year that carry astronauts to the International Space Station. This would put them on course to become certified for "operational" missions to the station in early 2019, to ensure NASA's access to the orbiting laboratory. On Wednesday, during a congressional hearing, representatives from both companies reiterated this position. "We have high confidence in our plan," Boeing's commercial crew program manager, John Mulholland, said. SpaceX Vice President Hans Koenigsmann said his company would be ready, too. However their testimony before the US House Subcommittee on Space was undercut by the release of a report Wednesday by the US Government Accountability Office. The lead author of that report, Christina Chaplain, told Congress during the same hearing that she anticipated these certification dates would be much later. For SpaceX, operational flights to the station were unlikely before December, 2019, and Boeing unlikely before February, 2020, Chaplain said.

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Enlarge / That's no moon! Early last night local time, a meteor rocketed through the skies of southern Michigan, giving local residents a dramatic (if brief) light show. It also generated an imperceptible thump, as the US Geological Survey confirmed that there was a coincident magnitude 2.0 earthquake. The American Meteor Society has collected more than 350 eyewitness accounts, which ranged from western Pennsylvania out to Illinois and Wisconsin. They were heavily concentrated over southern Michigan, notably around the Detroit area. A number of people have also posted videos of the fireball online; one of the better compilations is below. A compilation of several videos from Syracuse.com. The American Meteor Society estimates that the rock was relatively slow-moving at a sedate 45,000km an hour. Combined with its production of a large fireball, the researchers conclude it was probably a big rock. NASA's meteorwatch Facebook page largely agrees and suggests that this probably means that pieces of the rock made it to Earth. If you were on the flight path, you might want to check your yard.

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With Bitcoin crashing, some cryptocurrency HODLers are hurting. That might include the Winklevoss twins. 

Tyler and Cameron bought 120,000 bitcoins in late 2012 with money from the $65 million payout from their lawsuit against Facebook.

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin just made the Winklevoss twins billionaires

That's more than $1.32 billion worth of bitcoin at Wednesday evening's value of about $11,000 per bitcoin. That seems like a lot, but just two days ago a bitcoin was worth $14,000. 

Here's the chart on Bitcoin since 2012. Up and up and up. 

Image: coindesk

But then this week, it's been down, down, down.  Read more...

More about Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Winklevoss Twins, Tech, and Consumer Tech

Hawaii's mistaken missile alert prompted many of us to think what we'd do in the last moments of our life if a bomb came hurtling towards us.

PornHub released statistics for the island state after the alert was sent out on Saturday, revealing a sharp drop of 77 percent below the average in the minutes immediately following the emergency notification.

SEE ALSO: Welp, here is your state's most popular search term on Pornhub

But as soon as Hawaiians got the all clear approximately 38 minutes later, there was only er, celebration on their minds. 

The porn site said it received 48 percent higher than average traffic at 9:01 a.m. HST. Good on you, Hawaii. Read more...

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For a guy who's still pretty new to Instagram, Will Smith is killing it.

The actor only joined the social platform in December, but for his big trip to Australia to promote his not-so-great Netflix movie Bright, he's really let us into his world.

SEE ALSO: Will Smith's trip to the zoo will give you life

While there are plethora of PR-approved, tightly curated celebrity accounts out there, Smith's stream of Instagram posts indicate he isn't shy about being a bit of a dorky dad that's just having a helluva good time Down Under. 

Prime example: His trip to Sydney's Taronga Zoo where he offered up some excellent narration when he came face-to-face with a crocodile, and met with a very cute and sleepy wombat. Read more...

More about Australia, Instagram, Culture, Will Smith, and Culture