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Microsoft

Microsoft: Windows 7 Does Not Meet the Demands of Modern Technology; Recommends Windows 10 (neowin.net) 429

In a blog post, Microsoft says that continued usage of Windows 7 increases maintenance and operating costs for businesses. Furthermore, time is needlessly wasted on combating malware attacks that could have been avoided by upgrading to Windows 10. A report on Neowin adds: Microsoft also says that many hardware manufacturers do not provide drivers for Windows 7 any longer, and many developers and companies refrain from releasing programs on the outdated operating system. Markus Nitschke, Head of Windows at Microsoft Germany, had the following to say about Windows 7: "Today, it [Windows 7] does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments. As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs. With Windows 10, we offer our customers the highest level of security and functionality at the cutting edge.
Wireless Networking

Wireless Headphone Sales Soared After Apple Dropped Headphone Jack (fortune.com) 252

Apple's decision to remove the headphone jack from new iPhones last year prompted lots of consumers to switch to wireless headphones, according to a new report on holiday shopping. From a report: Three-quarters of all headphones sold online in December were wireless models, up from 50% a year earlier, according to shopping tracker Slice Intelligence. Apple was the biggest beneficiary of the shift, as both its new AirPods earphones and models from its Beats subsidiary led the sales charts. The $159 AirPods, Apple's first wireless model sold under its own brand, didn't go on sale until Dec. 13, but the product quickly dominated the wireless headphone market, Slice found. In the year prior to the debut, the Beats brand topped online sales of wireless models with a 24% market share, trailed by Bose with an 11% share and Jaybird at 8%. But after AirPods went on sale, they grabbed 26% of online wireless sales, Slice found. Bose was second at 16% and Beats dropped to third with 15% of the market during the period considered.
The Courts

A Federal Judge's Decision Could End Patent Trolling (computerworld.com) 168

"Forcing law firms to pay defendants' legal bills could undermine the business model of patent trolls," reports Computerworld. whoever57 writes: Patent trolls rely on the fact that they have no assets and, if they lose a case, they can fold the company that owned the patent and sued, thus avoiding paying any of the defendant's legal bills. However in a recent case, the judge told the winning defendant that it can claim its legal bills from the law firm. The decision is based on the plaintiff's law firm using a contract under which it would take a portion of any judgment, making it more than just counsel, but instead a partner with the plaintiff. This will likely result in law firms wanting to be paid up front, instead of offering a contingency-based fee.
The federal judge's decision "attacks the heart of the patent-troll system," according to the article, which adds that patent trolls are "the best evidence that pure evil exists."
The Almighty Buck

T-Mobile Eliminates Cheaper Postpaid Plans, Sells 'Unlimited Data' Only (arstechnica.com) 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: T-Mobile USA will stop selling its older and cheaper limited-data plans to postpaid customers, shifting entirely to its new "unlimited" data plans that impose bandwidth limits on video and tethering unless customers pay extra. To ease the transition, T-Mobile will offer bill credits of $10 a month to customers when they use less than 2GB per month. T-Mobile began its shift to unlimited data plans in August with the introduction of T-Mobile One, which starts at $70 a month. While there are no data caps, customers have to pay a total of $95 a month to get high-definition video and mobile hotspot speeds of greater than 512kbps. The carrier said in August that the unlimited plan would be "replacing all our rate plans," including its cheaper plans that cost $50 or $65 a month. Nonetheless, T-Mobile kept selling limited postpaid data plans to new customers for a few months, but yesterday CEO John Legere said that as of January 22, T-Mobile One will be the "only postpaid consumer plan we sell." Existing postpaid customers can keep their current plans. For new customers, T-Mobile will presumably keep selling its prepaid plans that cost $40 to $60 a month and come with 3GB to 10GB of data. T-Mobile also said yesterday that it will start including taxes and fees in its advertised rate when customers sign up for new T-Mobile One plans and enroll in automatic payments, essentially giving subscribers a discount. "The average monthly bill for a family of four will drop from $180.48 to $160, according to a company spokesman," The Wall Street Journal reported.

Comment Re:Never had a chance... (Score 1) 78

Hate to say it, but a bad idea in search of a problem...

If quality phones were $30 or so, I would agree with you. But considering how absurdly expensive a quality phone is, modular parts would be fantastic. The problem here isn't in the concept, but rather in the execution.

With my PC, I can easily replace:
1) Memory
2) Motherboard
3) Power supply
4) Storage
5) Input devices
6) Output devices
7) CPU

I would love to be able to cheaply and easily upgrade or replace the parts of my phone (or tablet) that have become obsolete (or have been damaged or destroyed) without having to buy an entirely new device. These things should all have pluggable interconnects to make replacement at least as easy as it is with a PC.

Perhaps LG's designers have reached the limits of their abilities, but the concept is very good.

Movies

Piracy 'Warnings' Fail To Boost Box Office Revenues, Research Says (torrentfreak.com) 189

A new academic study shows that graduated response policies against file-sharers fail to boost box office revenues. From a TorrentFreak report: The empirical research, which looked at the effects in various countries including the United States, suggests that these anti-piracy measures are not as effective as the movie studios had hoped. [...] Thus far there has been very little research on the topic but a new study, published by Dr. Jordi McKenzie of Sydney's Macquarie University, suggests that these "strikes" policies don't boost box office revenues. For his paper, published in the most recent issue of the journal 'Information Economics and Policy,' McKenzie looked at opening week and total box office revenues for 6,083 unique films released between 2005 and 2013. Using a variety of statistical analyses, he then measured the impact of the graduated response systems and related policies in six countries. In addition, another ten countries were included as a control measure. The overall conclusion based on thousands of data points is that these anti-piracy policies have no significant impact on box-office income.
The Almighty Buck

Bitcoin Breaks $1,000 Level, Highest in More Than 3 Years (cnbc.com) 146

The price of digital currency bitcoin has hit the $1,000 mark for the first time in three years. From a report on CNBC: The cryptocurrency was trading at $1,021 at the time of publication, according to CoinDesk data, at level not seen since November 2013, with its market capitalization exceeding $16 billion. Bitcoin has been on a steady march higher for the past few months, driven by a number of factors such as the devaluation of the yuan, geopolitical uncertainty and an increase in professional investors taking an interest in the asset class. "We are seeing the aftermath of zero interest rates run amok. So bitcoin is a healthy reminder that we don't have to hold on to dollars or renminbi, which is subject to capital controls and loss of purchasing power. Rather it's a new asset class," Bobby Lee, chief executive of BTC China, one of the world's largest bitcoin exchanges, told CNBC by phone.
Piracy

Bad Year For Piracy: 2016 Was The Year Torrent Giants Fell (torrentfreak.com) 116

From a report on TorrentFreak: 2016 has been a memorable year for torrent users but not in a good way. Over a period of just a few months, several of the largest torrent sites vanished from the scene. From KickassTorrents, through Torrentz to What.cd, several torrent giants have left the scene.Another notable website which vanished is TorrentHound. ThePirateBay is back, but is often facing issues. Not long ago, ExtraTorrent noted that it was on the receiving end of several DDoS attacks.
Bitcoin

Destructive KillDisk Malware Turns Into Ransomware (securityweek.com) 56

wiredmikey writes from a report via SecurityWeek: A recently discovered variant of the KillDisk malware encrypts files and holds them for ransom instead of deleting them. Since KillDisk has been used in attacks aimed at industrial control systems (ICS), experts are concerned that threat actors may be bringing ransomware into the industrial domain. CyberX VP of research David Atch told SecurityWeek that the KillDisk variant they have analyzed is a well-written piece of ransomware, and victims are instructed to pay 222 bitcoins ($210,000) to recover their files, which experts believe suggests that the attackers are targeting "organizations with deep pockets." From the report: "The ransomware is designed to encrypt various types of files, including documents, databases, source code, disk images, emails and media files. Both local partitions and network folders are targeted. The contact email address provided to affected users is associated with Lelantos, a privacy-focused email provider only accessible through the Tor network. The Bitcoin address to which victims are told to send the ransom has so far not made any transactions. Atch pointed out that the same RSA public key is used for all samples, which means that a user who receives a decryptor will likely be able to decrypt files for all victims. According to CyberX, the malware requires elevated privileges and registers itself as a service. The threat terminates various processes, but it avoids critical system processes and ones associated with anti-malware applications, likely to avoid disrupting the system and triggering detection by security products."

Comment Law Breaking (Score 4, Insightful) 151

If you or I drove down a California street without a valid driver's license, the penalty would be anything from a ticket (first time offense, no injuries to others) to an arrest (multiple offender, injuring people) and possible incarceration.

If the standard penalties were applied to whichever Uber executive authorized the law-breaking, then Uber would come into compliance rather quickly.

Microsoft

Microsoft Wins $927 Million Pentagon Contract To Provide Technical Support (petri.com) 137

Microsoft has secured a massive $927m contract to provide technical support and consultation to the United States Department of Defense. This is the latest in a series of key deals that Microsoft has won with the US military. From a report: The contract comes after the software giant Microsoft secured a deal in February 2016 with the Department of Defense (DoD) to bring Windows 10 to all 4m of its employees within a 12-month timeframe. This was the largest enterprise deal for Microsoft in the company's history. In 2013, Microsoft signed a similar deal to bring Windows 8 to 75pc of all DoD employees.

Comment Re:what's so "unthinkable"? (Score 1) 257

...[Microsoft] made legal commitments not to assert any patents....

And you have been suckered in by Microsoft's double-speak. Microsoft promised, at best, to not sue you for patent violations when you use a particular version of certain parts of .Net Core. They reserve the right to sue you later for using a slightly different version of those same parts of .Net Core, and to sue you for using the parts of .Net Core not covered by the patent pledge. They're just waiting for you to become dependent on their product before springing the trap some years down the road.

This is the same old Microsoft. They've just changed their sheep skins.

Comment Why Is Anyone Surprised (Score 4, Insightful) 158

I don't understand why people are so outraged. This is the very nature of cloud services -- you store your information on someone else's servers, depending on their whims to keep that information accessible. There are no guarantees that the information you put on someone's servers today will still be there tomorrow.

What I find the most stunning is that some people are putting, "...valuable resources that users have created and entrusted to you to retain and keep online" on someone else's servers, and expecting that it will still be there when they need it.

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