Privacy

Dell Lost Control of Key Customer Support Domain for a Month in 2017 (krebsonsecurity.com) 73

Brian Krebs reports: A web site set up by PC maker Dell to help customers recover from malicious software and other computer maladies may have been hijacked for a few weeks this summer by people who specialize in deploying said malware, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. There is a program installed on virtually all Dell computers called "Dell Backup and Recovery Application." It's designed to help customers restore their data and computers to their pristine, factory default state should a problem occur with the device. That backup and recovery program periodically checks a rather catchy domain name -- DellBackupandRecoveryCloudStorage.com -- which until recently was central to PC maker Dell's customer data backup, recovery and cloud storage solutions. Sometime this summer, DellBackupandRecoveryCloudStorage.com was suddenly snatched away from a longtime Dell contractor for a month and exposed to some questionable content. More worryingly, there are signs the domain may have been pushing malware before Dell's contractor regained control over it.
Google

Google Wants Its New Pixelbook to Win the Laptop and Tablet Battle (fortune.com) 104

Google is once again trying to make a big splash with laptop computers, this time with its new Pixelbook. From a report: Google debuted its Pixelbook, a new laptop-tablet hybrid during its Pixel 2 event in San Francisco on Wednesday, a high-end version of its barebones Chromebook laptops that rely on Google's Chrome operating system (OS). Google hopes its new Pixelbook, which sells for $999 to $1,649, will give it a viable challenger to Apple's MacBooks and other premium laptops. With Google's low-end Chromebooks, the company supplies the OS while third-party companies like HP Inc. and Dell build the devices. But Chromebooks are bulky, short on processing power, have limited storage, and are incompatible with Google's new Pixelbook stylus pen for drawing digital images on touchscreens. Matt Vokoun, Google's director for Chromebooks, emphasized that his company is serious about the Pixelbook. Although Google previously sold both high-end laptops and tablets, they were mostly "demonstration-oriented," he said, meaning Google didn't produce many of them and that they were instead for showing to potential manufacturers to get them on board with the idea.
Intel

Intel Cuts Cord On Its Current Cord-Cutting WiGig Products (zdnet.com) 30

An anonymous reader shares a ZDNet report, which also has some clarification from Intel: It looks like you can add WiGig wireless docking to Intel's dustbin (along with IoT products axed earlier this summer), as the company has discontinued existing products using the 802.11ad wireless standard, according to Anandtech. [Since publishing this report, we've received a statement from Intel clarifying its WiGig support: "We continue to offer current versions of our 802.11ad products, such as the Intel Tri-band Wireless AC 18265 and Gigabit Wireless 10101R antenna module. We remain committed to WiGig and think it has exciting potential for a number of applications, including enabling VR to become wireless, mesh networking and as part of Intel's leading products for 5G."] WiGig was developed several years ago with faster speeds than then-current Wi-Fi standards, but because it relied on the 60GHz channel, its high throughput could only travel over short distances. As a result, it eventually became marketed as a feature for wireless laptop docking stations, and while it received some support from enterprise laptop manufactures like Dell and Lenovo, the technology didn't make a big dent against standard wired laptop docks.
AMD

AMD Releases Ryzen PRO Processors Worldwide, 8-Core Ryzen Threadripper 1900X (techradar.com) 94

Today, AMD announced the global release and broad adoption of AMD Ryzen Pro desktop processors. At its launch event in New York City, the company touted three main pillars that define these chipsets: reliability, security, and performance. They support features like Trusted Platform Module 2.0, which integrates secure microcontrollers into devices, GuardMI technology, which enables silicon-level security to help protect against threats, and SenseMI technology, which consists of a collection of smart features that aims to fine-tune performance for most responsive applications. For the first time, AMD has partnered with the top three PC OEMs: HP, Dell and Lenovo. Brad Chacos for PCWorld provides a "rundown of the commercial-focused Ryzen Pro systems that are coming down the pipeline, straight from AMD":

-Dell Optiplex 5055 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-HP EliteDesk 705 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-Lenovo ThinkCentre M715 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-Lenovo ThinkPad A475 and A275 notebook PCs are expected in Q4 2017.
-Ryzen PRO mobile processors are scheduled for launch in the first half of 2018.

The global launch of the Ryzen Pro processors is not the only bit of news AMD announced. The company also announced the release of a new budget Threadripper 1900X model. From a report via TechRadar: AMD has released its 8-core Ryzen Threadripper 1900X processor, offering people who were put off by high price of the flagship 16-core Threadripper 1950X a chance to build a PC with all of the advanced Threadripper features for almost half the cash. As we expected, the Threadripper 1900X will come with eight cores clocked at 3.8GHz, with a turbo that reaches 4.0GHz (and an XFR boost to 4.2GHz), and will cost $549 -- almost half the Threadripper 1950X's $999 asking price, and a fair bit cheaper than the mid-range Threadripper 1920X, which costs $799. In fact, the price is within touching distance of the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X, which comes with eight cores and 16 threads, and costs $499.
Businesses

After Losing Support, Trump's Business and Manufacturing Councils Are Shutting Down (theverge.com) 642

Over a dozen anonymous readers share a similar report: Two White House advisory councils that once included tech leaders like Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick have dissolved, after several members resigned over President Donald Trump's weak condemnation of white supremacists. A member of the Strategic and Policy Forum told CNBC that it wanted to make a "more significant impact" by disbanding the entire group: "It makes a central point that it's not going to go forward. It's done." Soon after, Trump took credit for shutting down both that group and a separate Manufacturing Council, "rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople." The councils' members came from a range of industries, including several major Silicon Valley companies. Besides Musk and Kalanick, executives from Intel, IBM, and Dell had joined. It's been controversial from the start -- Musk and Kalanick both left months ago -- but a major exodus started this week, after Trump issued a vague statement blaming "many sides" for violence at a white supremacist rally that left one woman dead. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned on Monday, saying that politics had "sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base." Axios has more details.
AMD

Preview of AMD Ryzen Threadripper Shows Chip Handily Out-Pacing Intel Core i9 (hothardware.com) 180

MojoKid writes: AMD is still days away from the formal launch of their Ryzen Threadripper family of 12 and 16-core processors but OEM system builder Dell and its Alienware gaming PC division had an inside track on first silicon in the channel. The Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition sports a 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X processor that boosts to 4GHz with a base clock of 3.4GHz and an all-core boost at 3.6GHz. From a price standpoint, the 16-core Threadripper chip goes head-to-head with Intel's 10-core Core i9-7900X at a $999 MSRP. In early benchmark runs of the Alienware system, AMD's Ryzen Threadripper is showing as much as a 37% percent performance advantage over the Intel Core i9 Skylake-X chip, in highly threaded general compute workload benchmarks like Cinebench and Blender. In gaming, Threadripper is showing roughly performance parity with the Core i9 chip in some tests, but trailing by as much as 20% in lower resolution 1080p gaming, as is characteristic for many Ryzen CPUs currently, in certain games. Regardless, when you consider the general performance upside with Ryzen Threadripper versus Intel's current fastest desktop chip, along with its more aggressive per-core pricing (12-core Threadripper at $799), AMD's new flagship enthusiast/performance workstation desktop chips are lining up pretty well versus Intel's.
Republicans

Silicon Valley Says Trump Plan To Reduce Immigration Will Hurt Economy (cbslocal.com) 273

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS Local: President Donald Trump's push to cut legal immigration to the United States in half is being met by opposition from Silicon Valley leaders, economists, and even some Republicans senators, who all say legal immigration is key to economic prosperity. The Trump administration Wednesday endorsed the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act or RAISE Act, a Senate bill introduced by two Republican senators earlier this year, that aims to cut all U.S. immigration in half. Business leaders, especially those in California's tech industry, say the bill will stymie their ability to fill jobs and grow the U.S. economy. California's economy is the sixth largest in the world and many attribute that success, in part, to immigration. The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents companies including Amazon, Apple, Adobe, Dell, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Visa, Nokia, and Microsoft railed against the bill.

Dean Garfield, President and CEO of the council said, "This is not the right proposal to fix our immigration system because it does not address the challenges tech companies face, injects more bureaucratic dysfunction, and removes employers as the best judge of the employee merits they need to succeed and grow the U.S. economy." Garfield argues that the tech industry cannot find enough STEM-skilled Americans to fill open positions and that U.S. immigration policy "stops us from keeping the best and brightest innovators here in the U.S. and instead we lose out to our overseas competitors."

Social Networks

Iranians Use 'Cute Photographer' Profile To Hack Targets In Middle East (securityledger.com) 39

chicksdaddy shares a report from The Security Ledger: Hackers working on behalf of the government of Iran are using alluring social media profiles featuring a young, English photographer to entice and then compromise the systems of high value targets in the oil and gas industry, according to a report by Dell Secureworks. In a report released on Thursday, Secureworks' Counter Threat Unit (CTU) said that it observed an extensive phishing campaign beginning in January and February 2017 that used a polished social media profile of a young, English woman using the name "Mia Ash" to conduct highly targeted spear-phishing and social engineering attacks against employees of Middle Eastern and North Africa firms in industries like telecommunications, government, defense, oil and financial services. The attacks are the work of an advanced persistent threat group dubbed COBALT GYPSY or "Oil Rig" that has been linked to other sophisticated attacks. The attacks, which spread across platforms including LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as email, were highly successful. In some cases, the attacks lasted months -- and long after the compromise of the employee -- with the targets engaged in a flirtation with a woman they believed was a young, attractive female photographer. The Mia Ash persona is a fake identity based loosely on a real person -- a Romanian photographer and student who has posted her work prolifically online. According to a report by Security Ledger, the persona was created specifically with the goal of performing reconnaissance on and establishing relationships with employees of targeted organizations. Victims were targeted with the PupyRAT Trojan, an open source, cross-platform remote access trojan (RAT) used to take control of a victim's system and harvest credentials like logins and passwords from victims, and lured with malware-laden documents such as "photography surveys" (really?). One target was even instructed to make sure to open the document from work because it will "work better," Secureworks said.
Businesses

PC Shipments Hit the Lowest Level In a Decade (cnbc.com) 202

PC shipments are at the lowest levels since 2007. From a report: Gartner said this week that the PC market declined 4.3 percent during the second quarter. The research company said that shipments were at the "lowest quarter volume since 2007," noting the market dropped for the 11th quarter in a row. The report is in stark contrast to another from IDC in April which said that the PC market grew for the first time in five years. Gartner said HP has the largest global market share with 20.8 percent of the market. HP is trailed by Lenovo which has a 19.9 percent share, with shipments down a substantial 8.4 percent since last year. Dell, Apple and Asus finish out the top five players. In the U.S., Gartner suggests Apple's shipments were down 9.6 percent from last year. The research firm didn't give an explanation for why that might have occurred, though Apple was late to refresh its computers with the latest Intel processors. Upgraded Macs just hit the market last month.
AMD

AMD Unveils Ryzen Threadripper 1950X 16-Core and 1920X 12-Core Specs and Pricing (hothardware.com) 85

MojoKid writes: AMD first teased its Ryzen Threadripper series of high-end desktop (HEDT) processors back in mid-May, but is now sharing additional details on the first two products in the family. Both processors are based on the 14nm Zen core, make use of AMD's new Socket TR4 interface, support quad-channel DDR memory, and feature a total of 64 PCIe lanes. In addition, both processors will come from the factory unlocked. Ryzen Threadripper 1920X will have 12 Cores, 24 Threads, and 3.5/4.0 GHz (Base Clock/Precision Boost) clock speeds. Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will have 16 Cores, 32 Threads, and 3.4/4.0 GHz (Base Clock/Precision Boost) clock speeds. Pricing is set at $799 and $999, respectively, with availability in early August, though Dell's Alienware gaming PC division will have systems shipping with the new chip starting this month. AMD also put the new chips up against Intel's Core i7-7900X 10-core CPU in a Cinebench benchmark run in a video demo, and the 12-core Threadripper chip beats Intel's currently available Skylake-X chip handily, while the 16-core Threadripper outpaces it even further.
Microsoft

Google Chrome Bests Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera In Independent Battery Life Tests (betanews.com) 114

An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTuber Linus Tech Tips has pitted Microsoft Edge against Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera and discovered that it does not deliver as strong a performance as Microsoft claims. Linus Tech Tips took four Dell Inspiron laptops, with the same specs, and found that Microsoft Edge trails Chrome and Opera in battery life tests. It would seem that it still beats Firefox, after all. However, the results are much, much closer than what Microsoft's own tests indicate. On average, the difference between Chrome, which offers the best battery life, and Microsoft Edge is under 40 minutes. Opera comes closer to Microsoft Edge than Chrome in this test. Even Creators Update, which based on Microsoft's test should help Microsoft Edge obliterate the competition, didn't help make it faster than Chrome. Linus says he used the same methodology that Microsoft used in its set of battery tests earlier this year, in which it declared Edge as the winner.
Android

Google Adds Android App Support To Additional Chromebooks (digitaltrends.com) 13

An anonymous reader shares an article: The list of Chromebooks that can officially run Android apps has been a bit limited, but that's changing. Google on Thursday updated its list of Chromebooks that now have official support, and 16 new machines have been added. They include: Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (C731, C731T), Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532), Asus Chromebook C202SA, ASUS Chromebook C300SA/C301SA, CTL NL61 Chromebook, Dell Chromebook 11 (3180), Dell Chromebook 11 Convertible (3189), Dell Chromebook 13 (3380), HP Chromebook 11 G5 EE, HP Chromebook 13 G1, Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook, Lenovo N23 Yoga Chromebook, Lenovo N22 Chromebook, Lenovo N23 Chromebook, Samsung Chromebook 3, and Mercer Chromebook NL6D.
Businesses

WSJ: There's An 'Inexorable' Trend Towards Working Remotely (foxbusiness.com) 226

The Wall Street Journal reports that the trend towards remote working "is inexorable" in America's labor force, with 43% of workers now doing at least some of their work from home (up from 39% in 2012), and 20% now working entirely from home (up from 15%). An anonymous reader writes: Besides lowering an employer's rent, telecommuting also makes employees happier, which helps with both recruiting and retention according to the Journal. Automattic, maker of WordPress, is able to have an almost entirely remote workforce of 558 employees spread across more than 50 countries. But it depends on getting the right set of tools. Automattic uses Slack for conversations, Zoom for videoconferences, "and its own internal system of threaded conversations for documenting everyone's work and for major decisions." One of the company's "happiness engineers" even says online communicaton has created "radical transparency," since it's possible to read and search through internal communcations. Just remember that not every job can work remotely, according to Dell's chief human resources officer. "Engineering, leadership, R&D, sales and customer support -- those are roles that don't lend themselves very well to remote work."
It'd be interesting to hear the experiences of Slashdot's readers. Anyone want to share their own experiences with working remotely -- or of working with remote co-workers?
Businesses

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google Lobby Against Texas 'Bathroom' Bill (arstechnica.com) 587

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Executives from some of the globe's leading technology firms are demanding that Texas not adopt "discriminatory" bathroom legislation. On the table in Texas is a law similar to one enacted -- and later partially repealed -- in North Carolina. The tech companies have aligned themselves with critics of the bill who believe the legislation is unfair to the transgender community. "As large employers in the state, we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas' reputation as open and friendly to businesses and families," the companies wrote Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "Our ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent, encourage new business relocations, expansions and investment, and maintain our economic competitiveness would all be negatively affected." Pending Texas Senate legislation would prohibit transgender people in Texas from using restrooms matching their gender identities. The House on Sunday passed its own bill that would apply the bathroom limitations solely at schools. The tech companies, however, aren't threatening to pull out of Texas, like some did over the same issue in North Carolina. The letter sent to Gov. Abbott was signed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon chief Jeff Wilke, IBM head Ginni Rometty, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and Google's Sundar Pichai. There were 14 companies -- including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Silicon Labs, Celanese Corp., GSD&M, Salesforce, and Gearbox Software -- signing on to the letter. "Discrimination is wrong and it has no place in Texas or anywhere in our country," the companies wrote.
Intel

Intel's Super Portable Compute Card Could Be Your Real Pocket PC (techcrunch.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes (edited and condensed for length): Smartphones are already computers in our pockets, but Intel's new Compute Card turns an actual PC into something you can take with you wherever you go. Equipped with a range of processor options -- including an ultra-efficient Celeron, and notebook-class Core i5s, this slap that looks like a USB backup battery is attracting a range of interest from Intel OEM partners hoping to use it for everything from smart signage to modular notebooks. The Intel Compute Card, which was originally revealed at CES earlier this year, will come in a range of configurations that include up to 4GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage, as well as built-in AC 8265 wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, the company said today at Computex. Intel also announced availability of the Compute Card Device Design Kit today, which will let OEM partners create devices that work with the modular computing core. LG Display, Sharp, Dell, HP and Lenovo are already working on accessory solutions for Compute Card, Intel said.
China

Chinese Giant Huawei Gets Serious About PC Business, Announces Plans For Global Expansion (reuters.com) 53

Speaking of new laptops, Chinese conglomerate Huawei plans a global expansion into computers, it said on Tuesday, posing a fresh challenge to established PC players in a market that has suffered two years of falling sales volumes and pressure on margins. From a report: At a news conference in Berlin, the Shenzhen-based company introduced its first line-up of three personal computer models, including a 15.6-inch screen notebook, a 2-in-1 tablet and notebook hybrid and an ultra slim, metallic 13-inch notebook. Initially, Huawei plans to target the premium-priced consumer market, competing with Lenovo, HP and Dell, which together sell more than 50 percent of all PCs. To a lesser extent, it will also go up against Apple's high-end, but shrinking, Mac computer business. Huawei's Matebook X is a fanless notebook with splash-proof screen and combined fingerprint sign-on and power button, priced between 1,399 and 1,699 euros ($1,570-$1,900). Its Matebook E 2-in-1 hybrid will run from 999 to 1,299 euros while the Matebook D with 15.6-inch display is priced at 799 to 999 euros, it said. Huawei said it aims to offer the new PCs in 12 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East in early June.
Oracle

In Oracle's Cloud Pitch To Enterprises, an Echo of a Bygone Tech Era (siliconangle.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Oracle sought to position itself once again this week as the best place for everything companies need to move to cloud computing. On Thursday, executives at the database and business software giant distanced Oracle from public cloud leaders such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure that provide computing, storage and other services to corporations looking to reduce or eliminate their data centers. "Our cloud is more comprehensive than any other cloud in the market today, a full end-to-end cloud," said David Donatelli, Oracle's executive vice president of converged infrastructure. "We design from the chip all the way up to the application, fully vertically integrated." What's interesting about that messaging, which Oracle has been refining since at least its OpenWorld conference last September, is not simply the competitive positioning. Oracle is essentially saying that the nature of cloud computing suggests customers need to move away from the notion that has dominated information technology since personal computers and PC-based servers began to displace mainframes and minicomputers: cherry-picking the best applications and hardware and cobbling together their own IT setups. In short, Oracle contends, it's time for another broad swing back to the integrated, uber-suppliers of a bygone era of technology. Of course, the new tech titans such as Google, Facebook and Amazon arguably wield as much power in their particular domains of advertising and e-commerce as the Big Blue of old. But it has been a long time since a soup-to-nuts approach has worked for enterprise tech companies, and for those few still attempting it, such as Dell and Oracle, it's far from obvious it will work. The cloud, Oracle contends, may well change that.
Operating Systems

Microsoft Unveils Windows 10 S, an Education Edition Limited To Windows Store Apps (venturebeat.com) 127

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a new edition of its latest operating system: Windows 10 S. Available on first-party and third-party hardware -- Microsoft will be releasing its own Windows 10 S device and will also let manufacturers sell their own -- Windows 10 S is a streamlined edition of Windows 10 aimed at the education market. From a report: "We really are working hard to deliver the best platform for education, for students of all ages and school districts of all devices," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president in Microsoft's operating systems group, about the new Windows 10 S release. The main way that Windows 10 S differs from the other editions is that it can only run apps from the Windows Store. That includes Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps that Microsoft has approved into its app store. The goal is to avoid the problems of traditional Win32 apps that often run in the background and push their own updates. Microsoft wants to stop apps from hooking into the boot and sign-in process to handle all their own updates, which in turn slows down startup time. Windows Store can take care of this today, but Windows 10 S makes it the only way to install and update apps. As a result, Microsoft hopes Windows 10 S will be able to offer faster sign-in times and better battery life. This is still a full version of Windows 10. It's just locked down to only work with apps that Microsoft has approved, similar to how Apple and Google lock down iOS and Android to their respective app stores. The operating system follows the company's Intune for Education announcement back in January. Those systems created by third-party hardware partners like Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and Toshiba, start at $189.
Power

Study Shows Laptop Batteries Often Don't Last As Long As They Say (digitaltrends.com) 87

A new study conducted by Which? magazine has found that "the battery life claimed by laptop manufacturers rarely lives up to reality. "Although Apple's battery life claims were the closest to reality, in the case of some other manufacturers, their laptops lasted hours less than the stated time," reports Digital Trends. From the report: In its testing, Which looked at the battery life claims of 67 different laptop models from manufacturers as diverse as Asus, Apple, Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba -- some of the world's most popular laptop makers. It found that while Apple's average claim of 10 hours was proven correct -- and was even slightly better in some cases -- Dell's claims were overstated by more than four hours, and HP, close to five. The times listed in the header image are the average claimed battery life for all of the laptops Which? has tested over the past year versus the times it recorded in its internal testing. That involved charging the laptops to full, then running them down to nothing three times, using online web browsing via Wi-Fi or watching local videos to do so. Out of all laptops tested, the only manufacturer to understate battery claims was Apple. In one case, it claimed that its MacBook Pro 13 could achieve 10 hours of usage, while tests suggested it could go for as long as 12 hours. At the other end of the spectrum though, there were some really egregious overstatements. The Lenovo Yoga 510 has a claimed battery life of five hours -- it only lasted two hours and seven minutes. The HP Pavilion 14-al115na is supposed to be able to run for nine hours, but was only capable of four hours and 25 minutes. The Acer E15 claimed six hours but ran for just under three hours.
Operating Systems

Dell Doubles Down On High-End Ubuntu Linux Laptops (zdnet.com) 128

Dell became the first major OEM to offer a laptop with Linux pre-installed in it in 2007. Ten years later, the company says it is more committed than ever to offering Linux-powered machines to users. From a report on ZDNet: The best known of these is the Dell XPS 13 developer edition, but it's not the only Linux laptop Dell offers. In a blog post, Barton George, senior principal engineer at Dell's Office of the CTO, announced "the next generation of our Ubuntu-based Precision mobile workstation line." All of these systems boast Ubuntu 16.04 long-term support (LTS), 7th generation Intel Core or Intel Xeon processors, and Thunderbolt 3, AKA 40 Gigabit per second (Gbps) USB-C, ports. As the Xeon processor option shows, these are top-of-the-line laptops for professionals. It took longer than expected for Dell to get this new set of five Ubuntu-powered Precision mobile workstations out the door. The Precision 5520 and 3520 are now available. The 3520, the entry-level workstation, starts with an Intel Core 2.5GHz i5-7300HQ Quad Core processor with Intel HD Graphics 630. From there, you can upgrade it all the way to an Intel Core Xeon 3 GHz E3-1505M v6 processor with Nvidia Quadro M62 graphics.

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