Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 183

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.
Intel

Dell Packs Xeon and Quadro GPU In 4lb Laptop (hothardware.com) 73

MojoKid writes: To look at the Dell Precision 15 5510, you wouldn't know that it sits in the middle of Dell's workstation lineup. The laptop is thinner and sleeker than you might expect a workstation-class laptop to be and the premium carbon fiber palm rest gives the system a decidedly high-end vibe. Not to mention, like the XPS 15, Dell equipped this machine with its 4K IGZO Infinity Edge display that has almost no bezel on three of its sides. However, the Precision 15 5510 is actually Dell's mid-range mobile workstation that also supports Intel Xeon E3 processors and NVIDIA's Quadro M1000 series GPUs. It's essentially a mobile workstation version of Dell's XPS 15 line but along with an NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive, delivers professional grade performance and the pro app certifications that go with it. Compared to Lenovo's ThinkPad W550 line, the Precision 15 is a more sleek, stylish machine and in testing it packs more punch as well. Lenovo may already have their Skylake Xeon refresh in the works for the ThinkPad W series, however.
Sony

Apple, Samsung, and Sony Face Child Labor Claims (amnestyusa.org) 187

An anonymous reader writes: Amnesty International has accused Apple, Samsung, Sony, and other tech companies of failing to do basic checks to ensure minerals used in their products are not mined by children. A new report explains how cobalt is harvested from mines by children as young as seven years old. The cobalt then ends up in lithium-ion batteries sold to device-makers throughout the world. The list of companies who use these batteries also includes Daimler, Dell, HP, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft, Vodafone, Volkswagen, and ZTE. Amnesty International notes that half the world's cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where many mining operations have terrible track records for accidents and concern for workers' welfare. They say, "the vast majority of miners spend long hours every day working with cobalt without the most basic of protective equipment, such as gloves, work clothes or facemasks to protect them from lung or skin disease." According to UNICEF, about 40,000 kids worked in mines across southern DRC in 2014.
Privacy

New Dell Tech Support Scams Have Customers Worried Company Was Hacked (onthewire.io) 76

Trailrunner7 writes: A new twist on the fake tech support scam has arisen that has victims wondering whether Dell has been hacked.There has been a recent rash of calls to Dell customers in which the caller says he is from Dell itself and is able to identify the victim's PC by model number and provide details of previous warranty and support interactions with the company.

These are details that, it would seem, only Dell or perhaps its contractors would know. One person who was contacted by the scammers wrote a detailed description of the call, and said the caller had personal details that could not have been found online. Dell officials say they're looking into it.

Security

Dell, Toshiba and Lenovo Utilities Expose PCs To More Attacks 89

jones_supa writes: It turns out that OEM helper software is still often quite fragile and can expose systems wide open to attack. Currently Lenovo, Dell and Toshiba all have unpatched vulnerabilities in their various support utilities for Windows. These vulnerabilities were discovered by a security researcher who goes by the name Slipstream, and he has posted details onlinealong with proof-of-concept exploit code. The vulnerabilities allow arbitrary code execution, planting malicious files and modifying system registry values.
Transportation

Why Car Salesmen Don't Want To Sell Electric Cars 482

HughPickens.com writes: Matt Richtel writes in the NYT that one big reason there are only about 330,000 electric vehicles on the road is that car dealers show little enthusiasm for putting consumers into electric cars. Industry insiders say that electric vehicles do not offer dealers the same profits as gas-powered cars, they take more time to sell because of the explaining required, and electric vehicles may require less maintenance, undermining the biggest source of dealer profits — their service departments. Some electric car buyers have said they felt as if they were the ones doing the selling. Chelsea Dell made an appointment to test-drive a used Volt but when she arrived, she said, a salesman told her that the car hadn't been washed, and that he had instead readied a less expensive, gas-powered car. "I was ready to pull the trigger, and they were trying to muscle me into a Chevy Sonic," says Dell. "The thing I was baffled at was that the Volt was a lot more expensive." Marc Deutsch, Nissan's business development manager for electric vehicles says some salespeople just can't rationalize the time it takes to sell the cars. A salesperson "can sell two gas burners in less than it takes to sell a Leaf," Deutsch says. "It's a lot of work for a little pay."

Jared Allen says that service is crucial to dealer profits and that dealers didn't want to push consumers into electric cars that might make them less inclined to return for service. Maybe that helps explains the experience of Robert Kast, who last year leased a Volkswagen e-Golf from a local dealer. He said the salesman offered him a $15-per-month maintenance package that included service for oil changes, belt repair and water pumps. "I said: 'You know it doesn't have any of those things,'" Mr. Kast recalled. He said the salesman excused himself to go confirm this with his manager. Of the whole experience, Mr. Kast, 61, said: "I knew a whole lot more about the car than anyone in the building." "Until selling a plug-in electric car is as quick and easy as selling any other vehicle that nets the dealer the same profit, many dealers will avoid them, for very logical and understandable reasons," says John Voelker. "That means that the appropriate question should be directed to makers of electric cars: What are you doing to make selling electric cars as profitable and painless for your dealers as selling gasoline or diesel vehicles?"
Security

Second Root Cert-Private Key Pair Found On Dell Computer (threatpost.com) 65

msm1267 writes: A second root certificate and private key, similar to eDellRoot [mentioned here yesterday], along with an expired Atheros Authenticode cert and private key used to sign Bluetooth drivers has been found on a Dell Inspiron laptop. The impact of these two certs is limited compared to the original eDellRoot cert. The related eDellRoot cert is also self-signed but has a different fingerprint than the first one. It has been found only on two dozen machines according to the results of a scan conducted by researchers at Duo Security. Dell, meanwhile, late on Monday said that it was going to remove the eDellroot certificate from all Dell systems moving forward, and for existing affected customers, it has provided permanent removal instructions (.DOCX download), and starting today will push a software update that checks for the eDellroot cert and removes it. The second certificate / key pair was found by researchers at Duo Security.
Privacy

Dell Accused of Installing 'Superfish-Like' Rogue Certificates On Laptops (theregister.co.uk) 92

Mickeycaskill writes: Dell has been accused of pre-installing rogue self-signing root certificate authentications on its laptops. A number of users discovered the 'eDellRoot' certificate on their machines and say it leaves their machines, and any others with the certificate, open to attack. "Anyone possessing the private key which is on my computer is capable of minting certificates for any site, for any purpose and the computer will programmatically and falsely conclude the issued certificate to be valid," said Joe Nord, a Citrix product manager who found the certificate on his laptop. It is unclear whether it is Dell or a third party installing the certificate, but the episode is similar to the 'Superfish' incident in which Lenovo was found to have installed malware to inject ads onto users' computers.
Christmas Cheer

'Twas the Week Before the Week of Black Friday 146

theodp writes: It's almost time for America's answer to the Running of the Bulls (YouTube), kids. So, if you're dreaming of a cheap tech Christmas, it's time to peruse the 2015 Black Friday ads and make your game plan. Get lucky at Best Buy this year, and you could score a $299.99 Dell 15.6" touchscreen laptop (i3, 8GB memory, 1 TB HD), a $399.99 Microsoft 10.8" Surface 3 (Atom x7, 2GB memory, 64GB storage), $899.99 MacBook Pro 13.3" laptop (i5, 4GB memory, 500MB HD), $99 Acer 11.6" Chromebook (Celeron, 2GB memory, 16GB storage), or, for those on a tight budget, a $34.99 7" Amazon Fire tablet. Fight the crowds at Walmart, and you could snag a $199 HP 15.6" laptop (Celeron, 4GB memory, 500GB drive) or $199 iPad mini 2. And for stay-at-home shoppers, Dell's Windows 10 price-breakers include a $149.99 14" laptop (Celeron, 2GB memory, 32GB storage) and a $229 15.6" laptop (i3, 4GB memory, 500MB HD). So, in your experience, has Black Friday been like a claw machine — suckering you with big prizes, but never delivering — or have you actually walked away with a great deal?
HP

HP Is Now Two Companies. How Did It Get Here? (cio.com) 198

New submitter joshroberts3388 writes: If Hollywood wanted a script about the inexorable decline of a corporate icon, it might look to Hewlett-Packard for inspiration. Once one of Silicon Valley's most respected companies, HP officially split itself in two on Sunday, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales. HP fell victim to huge shifts in the computer industry that also forced Dell to go private and have knocked IBM on its heels. Pressure from investors compelled it to act. But there are dramatic twists in HP's story, including scandals, a revolving door for CEOs and one of the most ill-fated mergers in tech history, that make HP more than a victim of changing times.
Displays

Hands-On WIth Dell's 4K Infinity Edge-Equipped Laptops (hothardware.com) 77

MojoKid writes: Dell's 2015 version of the XPS 13, the company's 13-inch premium ultrabook, is arguably one of the most acclaimed laptops of the year, with its "Infinity Edge" display that comes in resolutions from 1080p up to UHD 4K, with almost no bezel, and a carbon fiber composite chassis design with a machined aluminum lid. Based on the product's success in the market, Dell recently announced they were bringing the design approach and 4K Infinity Edge display to both their XPS 15 consumer based ultrabooks as well as their Precision 15 professional line up. At Dell World 2015 this week Austin, the company had both 15-inch versions on display for demos and this quick hands on shows just how compact and well-built the machines are, though they're also now refreshed with Intel Skylake processors and PCIe NVMe SSDs.
Data Storage

Samsung Demos PCIe NVMe SSD At 5.6 GB Per Second, 1 Million IOPS (hothardware.com) 88

MojoKid writes: Samsung decided to show off their latest SSD wares at Dell World 2015 with two storage products that are sure to impress data center folks. Up and running on display, Samsung showcased their PM1725 drive, which is a half-height, half-length (HHHL) NVMe SSD that will be one of the fastest on the market when it ships later this year. It sports transfer speeds of 5500MB/sec for sequential reads and 1800MB/s for writes. Samsung had the drive running in a server with Iometer fired up and pushing in excess of 5.6GB/sec. The PM1725 also is rated for random reads up to 1,000,000 IOPS and random writes of 120,000 IOPS. The top of the line 6.4TB SSD is rated to handle 32TB of writes per day with a 5-year warranty.
Data Storage

Western Digital To Buy SanDisk (reuters.com) 99

An anonymous reader writes: Reuters reports that Western Digital will buy SanDisk in a deal worth roughly $19 billion. In a press release, WD said, "The combination is the next step in the transformation of Western Digital into a storage solutions company with global scale, extensive product and technology assets, and deep expertise in non-volatile memory (NVM)." SanDisk has been in business since 1988, and primarily "manufactures flash memory chips and other digital storage for personal computers, data centers and consumer electronics, including smartphones and tablets." They have over 8,000 employees, compared to WD's ~76,000. This follows another major transaction in the storage market, when Dell bought EMC last week.
Businesses

Dell To Buy EMC For $67 Billion (nytimes.com) 116

im_thatoneguy writes: After days of rumors, the NY Times is reporting that Dell will in fact be acquiring storage company (and VMWare parent) EMC in a record $67B deal being financed by a consortium of banks. Dell has confirmed the deal on their website.

Under the deal, Dell will pay $33.15 a share, which represents a premium even on top of EMC's current value, which had already jumped on initials rumors of a $50B acquisition last week. However, insiders say the deal won't be a straight forward cash buy-out of stock holders. Instead, EMC investors will receive about 70% in cash and the remainder in what's called a Tracking Stock, which will track the performance of just the VMWare Division within the new organization.

Microsoft

Microsoft's Mission To Reignite the PC Sector (nytimes.com) 267

HughPickens.com writes: Sales of personal computers have been declining for so long — 14 consecutive quarters — that it's hard remember a time when PCs ruled the tech world. Now Nick Wingfield writes in the NY Times that Microsoft is leading the way on a mission to re-ignite the PC market by taking the once-unthinkable step of competing with its hardware partners. This week, Microsoft dived even further into the business with a laptop device, the Surface Book. The stated reason that Microsoft got into the PC hardware business three years ago, with the original Surface, was not to put PC companies out of business — but to better illustrate the capabilities of its software, providing devices that would inspire PC makers to be more innovative.

One of the most remarkable things about Microsoft's growing presence in the hardware business is that it has not led to open revolt among its partners. Initially, many of them were not happy about Microsoft's moves, complaining in private. "It's positioned as a laptop, very squarely against the MacBook Pro as an example. But that could also be extended to a Dell XPS 13, or an HP x360," says Patrick Moorhead. One reason there hasn't been more pushback from OEMs is that Microsoft's Surface business is still relatively small. Another is that the money Microsoft has poured into marketing Surface has raised the broader profile of Windows PCs. While Microsoft obviously risks alienating its partners, it's doing so with a much bigger fight in mind. "Right now Microsoft really believes that it has to have a combined hardware, software, and services play to go up against the likes of Apple," says Moorhead. "That's why it's doing this. That's why it's taking such an aggressive stance now, moving to laptops."

Security

Iran-Based Hacking Crew Uses Fake LinkedIn Profiles In Espionage Attacks (secureworks.com) 41

An anonymous reader writes: The Iranian hacker group Cleaver has been directing a cyber spying campaign at bodies in the Middle East across a network of fake LinkedIn accounts. It is thought that the threat actors were using the professional platform to gather intelligence using six 'leader' profiles, each with over 500 connections, and a collection of 'supporter' accounts. According to Dell researchers, recruitment advertisements and skill endorsements from 'supporter' accounts were used to boost credibility. Perhaps they're after the New Yorker crowd, too.
Hardware

Dell Brings 4K InfinityEdge Display To XPS 15 Line, GeForce GPU, Under 4 Pounds (hothardware.com) 94

MojoKid writes: There's no doubt that Dell's new XPS 13 notebook, when it debuted earlier this year, was very well received. Dell managed to cram a 13.3-inch 3200x1800 QHD+ display into a 12-inch carbon fiber composite frame. Dell has now brought that same InfinityEdge display technology to its larger XPS 15, which the company boasts has the same footprint as a 14-inch notebook. But Dell didn't just stay the course with the QHD+ resolution from the smaller XPS 13; the company instead is offering an optional UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD panel with 8 million pixels and 282 pixels per inch (PPI). The 350-nit display allows for 170-degree viewing angles and has 100 percent minimum Adobe RGB color. Dell also beefed up the XPS 15's internals, giving it sixth generation Intel Core processors (Skylake), support for up to 16GB of memory and storage options that top out with a 1TB SSD. Graphics duties are handled by either integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 or a powerful GeForce GTX 960M processor that is paired with 2GB GDDR5 memory. And all of this squeaks in at under 4 pounds.
Businesses

Dell, EMC Said To Be In Merger Talks (itworld.com) 97

itwbennett writes: According to a Wall Street Journal report (paywalled), Dell might buy some or all of storage giant EMC. (The grain of salt here is that the Journal's report cited unnamed sources, and cautioned that the companies might not finalize any agreement.) If the report has it right, though, "a total merger would be one of the biggest deals ever in the technology industry," writes Stephen Lawson for IDG, "with EMC holding a market value of about US$50 billion. It would also bring together two of the most important vendors to enterprise IT departments."

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