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Cloud

Tim Sweeney Dislikes Windows 10 Cloud Rumors, Calls OS 'Crush Steam Edition' (arstechnica.com) 183

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The rumor that Microsoft is building a version of Windows 10 that can only install apps from the Windows Store has drawn criticism before it's even official. Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to attack the operating system. Although its real name is named Windows 10 Cloud, he's dubbing it "Windows 10 Crush Steam Edition." Sweeney is convinced that Microsoft wants to exercise total control over the Windows platform and destroy Valve's Steam. Last year, Sweeney attacked the Universal Windows Platform API. He claimed (incorrectly) that third-party stores such as Steam would be unable to sell and distribute UWP games, leaving them at a disadvantage relative to Microsoft's own store. He followed this statement with the claim that Microsoft would systematically modify Windows so as to make Steam work worse and worse, such that gamers grow tired of it and switch to the Windows Store. In his tweets, Sweeney recognizes that Microsoft wants to compete with Chrome OS. But he fails to understand what the company must do to actually offer that competition. He wrote that "it's great for Microsoft to compete with ChromeOS, but NOT BY LOCKING OUT COMPETING WINDOWS SOFTWARE STORES." This statement represents a failure to understand that "locking out competing Windows software stores" is, for this market, positively desirable. It's fundamental to preventing the hard-to-support free-for-all that a Windows system would otherwise represent. A later tweet does recognize the value of this lockdown, but Sweeney says that Windows 10's "great admin features to limit user software installs" should be used instead. This again suggests a misunderstanding of the target market: systems will be used with little to no supervision and with little to no administrative oversight. To compete against the Chromebook, Windows 10 Cloud needs to be locked down by default, and it must not offer any ready way to disable that lockdown. In his complaints, Sweeney also fails to consider what happens should the Chromebook threat go unaddressed: Chromebooks running Chrome OS will proliferate. These machines will not support third-party stores, they will not support Steam, and they will not support PC games at all. Sweeney may not want Microsoft to build this world, but even if Microsoft doesn't create it, Google already is doing so.
Windows

CNET Editor Rails Against Non-Consensual Windows Updates (cnet.com) 498

schwit1 shares this angry commentary from a CNET senior editor: Maybe you're delivering a presentation to a huge audience. Maybe you're taking an online test. Maybe you just need to get some work done on a tight deadline. Windows doesn't care. Windows will take control of your computer, force-feed it updates, and flip the reset switch automatically — and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, once it gets started.

If you haven't saved your work, it's gone. Your browser tabs are toast. And don't expect to use your computer again soon; depending on the speed of your drive and the size of the update, it could be anywhere from 10 minutes to well over an hour before your PC is ready for work. As far as I'm concerned, it's the single worst thing about Windows. It's only gotten worse in Windows 10. And when I poked around Microsoft, the overarching message I received was that Microsoft has no interest in fixing it.

The editor recalls rebooting his Windows laptop while listening to a speech by Steve Jobs in 2010. (The reboot locked his computer for 20 minutes while updates were installed, "the first of three occasions that a forced Windows update would totally destroy my workflow at a critical moment.") He shares stories from other frustrated Windows users, urges readers to send him more anecdotes, and argues that Microsoft has even begun "actively getting rid of ways to keep users from disabling automatic updates."
Government

Julian Assange Will Not Hand Himself In Because Chelsea Manning's Release Won't Happen Immediately, Lawyer Says (independent.co.uk) 564

President Obama commuted Chelsea Manning's prison sentence yesterday, reducing her time required to serve behind bars from 35 years to just over seven years. Prior to the commutation, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange pledged to surrender himself to U.S. authorities if Manning was pardoned. Roughly 24 hours have passed since the news broke and it appears that Assange will not hand himself in to the Department of Justice. The Independent reports: Mr Assange's lawyers initially seemed to suggest that promise would be carried through -- telling reporters that he stood by his earlier comments -- but it appears now that Mr Assange will stay inside the embassy. The commitment to accept extradition to the U.S. was based on Ms Manning being released immediately, Mr Assange's lawyer told The Hill. Ms Manning won't actually be released until May -- to allow for a standard 120-day transition period, which gives people time to prepare and find somewhere to live, an official told The New York Times for its original report about Ms Manning's clemency. "Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning's sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought," Barry Pollack, Assange's U.S.-based attorney, told the site. "Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately."
Chrome

Latest Adobe Acrobat Reader Update Silently Installs Chrome Extension (bleepingcomputer.com) 145

An anonymous reader writes: The latest Adobe Acrobat Reader security update (15.023.20053), besides delivering security updates, also secretly installs the Adobe Acrobat extension in the user's Chrome browser. There is no mention of this "special package" on Acrobat's changelog, and surprise-surprise, the extension comes with anonymous data collection turned on by default. Bleeping Computer reports: "This extension allows users to save any web page they're on as a PDF file and share it or download it to disk. The extension is also Windows-only, meaning Mac and Linux Chrome users will not receive it. The extension requests the following permissions: Read and change all your data on the websites you visit; Manage your downloads; Communicate with cooperating native applications. According to Adobe, extension users 'share information with Adobe about how [they] use the application. The information is anonymous and will help us improve product quality and features,' Adobe also says. 'Since no personally identifiable information is collected, the anonymous data will not be meaningful to anyone outside of Adobe.'"
Businesses

IBM Promises To Hire 25,000 Americans As Tech Executives Set To Meet Trump (reuters.com) 244

IBM Chief Executive Ginni Rometty has pledged to "hire about 25,000 professionals in the next four years in the United States" as she and other technology executives prepared to meet with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday. Reuters reports: IBM had nearly 378,000 employees at the end of 2015, according to the company's annual report. While the firm does not break out staff numbers by country, a review of government filings suggests IBM's U.S. workforce declined in each of the five years through 2015. When asked why IBM planned to increase its U.S. workforce after those job cuts, company spokesman Ian Colley said in an email that Rometty had laid out the reasons in her USA Today piece. Her article did not acknowledge that IBM had cut its U.S. workforce, although it called on Congress to quickly update the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that governs federal support for vocational education. "We are hiring because the nature of work is evolving," she said. "As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills -- which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting." She said IBM intended to invest $1 billion in the training and development of U.S. employees over the next four years. Pratt declined to say if that represented an increase over spending in the prior four years.
Republicans

Twitters Says It Will Ban Trump If He Breaks Hate-Speech Rules (qz.com) 1058

Twitter has made a serious effort as of late to limit hate speech on its social media site, especially after Election Day where "biased graffiti, assaults and other incidents have been reported in the news." The company now faces President-elect Donald Trump, who has used Twitter for the past 18 months as a megaphone for his views and rants, which many would consider as "hate speech." According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is "speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or other traits." Quartz reports: While Trump's deceptive tweets may not violate Twitter's rules against harassment, threats and "hateful conduct," Twitter is still keeping an eye on his account for more egregious offenses. This week, the company told Slate it would consider banning key government officials, even the president, if its rules against hate speech or other language were violated. "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies," a spokesperson wrote. Twitter confirmed with Quartz that everyone, including government officials, were subject to the policy: "The Twitter Rules apply to all accounts," a spokesman wrote. Trump may not have crossed that line yet, but he hasn't exactly refrained from making incendiary claims. Most recently, he claimed that Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who allegedly carried out an attack injuring 11 students at Ohio State University, "should not have been in our country." Artan was a legal permanent U.S. resident, whose family had fled Somalia for Pakistan in 2007. He arrived in the States in 2014.
Advertising

Advertising Company AppNexus Bans Breitbart News Over Hate Speech (betanews.com) 434

Mark Wilson quotes a report from BetaNews: Right-wing website Breitbart -- the darling of the so-called alt-right movement (which it defines as being "younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist [and] terribly anti-establishment") -- has been blocked by a leading ad exchange. The site, home to Milo Yiannopoulos (also known as @Nero and banned from Twitter) will no longer be permitted to sell ad space via AppNexus. The move comes after an audit by AppNexus found that Breitbart was in violation of its policies on hate speech and incitement to violence. AppNexus's spokesperson Joshua Zeitz told the BBC: "We use a number of third-party standards to determine what is and isn't hate speech, and if we detect a pattern of speech that could incite violence or discrimination against a minority group, we determine that to be non-compliant and we simply won't serve ads against it. I'm not going to put the examples out there because I'm not going to engage in a tit-for-tat on what is compliant." Bloomberg, which was the first publication to report on the news, noted that AppNexus' investors included Microsoft, News Corp and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP.
Programming

Are Flawed Languages Creating Bad Software? (techcrunch.com) 531

"Most software, even critical system software, is insecure Swiss cheese held together with duct tape, bubble wrap, and bobby pins..." writes TechCrunch. An anonymous reader quotes their article: Everything is terrible because the fundamental tools we use are, still, so flawed that when used they inevitably craft terrible things... Almost all software has been bug-ridden and insecure for so long that we have grown to think that this is the natural state of code. This learned helplessness is not correct. Everything does not have to be terrible...

Vast experience has shown us that it is unrealistic to expect programmers to write secure code in memory-unsafe languages...as an industry, let's at least set a trajectory. Let's move towards writing system code in better languages, first of all -- this should improve security and speed. Let's move towards formal specifications and verification of mission-critical code.

Their article calls for LangSec testing, and applauds the use of languages like Go and Rust over memory-unsafe languages like C. "Itâ(TM)s not just systemd, not just Linux, not just software; the whole industry is at fault."
Microsoft

Microsoft Limits Cortana Search Box In Windows 10 To Bing and Edge Only (venturebeat.com) 361

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Microsoft has announced a big change for how the Cortana search box in Windows 10 will work going forward: all searches will be powered by Bing and all links will open with the Edge browser. This is a server-side change going into effect today. Once it takes effect on your Windows 10 computer, Cortana will no longer be able to serve up results from third-party search providers, like Google or Yahoo, nor take you to a third-party browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Ryan Gavin, Microsoft's general manager of search and Cortana, said in a Windows blog post announcing the change, "Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana. The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable. The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can't depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser. The only way we can confidently deliver this personalized, end-to-end search experience is through the integration of Cortana, Microsoft Edge and Bing -- all designed to do more for you."
Media

Valve Inks Deal With Lionsgate Adding Over 100 Movie Titles To Steam Platform (hothardware.com) 117

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Valve took a major step in growing its Steam digital distribution platform today by adding movie rentals to the mix. The addition of movies to Steam's catalog is a first, and it was made possible through a deal with Lionsgate Entertainment that immediately fleshes out the service with more than 100 flicks. Steam is currently the biggest digital distribution platform for games, and while it has a long way to go before it can claim the same for movies, there's little doubt Valve wants to take it there. In a press release announcing the deal, Valve said Lionsgate was "one of the first major studios to license films" for streaming on Steam, which hints that it's attempting to lure other studios as well. You can view the entire catalog here.
Chrome

The Future of Firefox is Chrome (theregister.co.uk) 243

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla seems to think a new future for Firefox [lies in Chrome]. While they claim that it is only about new ways of browser design, it is also an open secret that they are running into more and more problems lately with web compatibility. [Senior VP Mark Mayo caused a storm by revealing that the Firefox team is working on a next-generation browser that will run on the same technology as Google's Chrome browser. The project, named Tofino, will not use Firefox's core technology, Gecko, but will instead plumb for Electron, which is built on the technology behind Google's rival Chrome browser, called Chromium.] The benefit of Chromium/Electron would be that it is a solution they could pull much faster forward than their own Servo plans [Servo being Mozilla's Rust-based web engine]. What the real outcome of all this will be, only Mozilla knows so far. But inside Mozilla there is much resistance against such plans... Interesting times are ahead.
Republicans

Amazon Customers Sign Letter To Jeff Bezos To Dump Donald Trump (thestreet.com) 623

An anonymous reader writes: More than 13,000 Amazon customers (including upwards of 5,000 Amazon Prime subscribers), have signed a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling for the company to stop selling Trump's line of menswear. UltraViolet Action is the organization hosting the petition, which calls for Amazon to "stop profiting off of [Trump's] brand of hate." The letter reads: "Donald Trump has consistently lobbed racist, sexist, and xenophobic attacks against entire groups of people, encouraged violence and vitriol against his political enemies and perpetuated a culture of violence against women. Amazon.com should want to distance themselves from this hateful rhetoric, but instead, they're profiting off his brand," explained Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer at UltraViolet, in a statement. "Jeff Bezos needs to listen to his customers and ensure that Amazon doesn't profit off of Trump hate, and take immediate steps to dump Trump." If Amazon does take action, they wouldn't be the first. Macy's stopped carrying Trump's products last summer, and Univision and NBC cut ties with Trump over his statements as well.
Businesses

Bank's Severance Deal Requires IT Workers To Be Available For Two Years (computerworld.com) 602

dcblogs points out this story at Computerworld about a severance agreement that requires laid-off IT employees to be available to help out for two years. The article reads in part: "SunTrust Banks in Atlanta is laying off about 100 IT workers as it moves work offshore. But this layoff is unusual for what it is asking of the soon-to-be displaced workers: The bank's severance agreement requires terminated employees to remain available for two years to provide help if needed, including in-person assistance, and to do so without compensation. Many of the affected IT employees, who are now training their replacements, have years of experience and provide the highest levels of technical support. The proof of their ability may be in the severance requirement, which gives the bank a way to tap their expertise long after their departure. The bank's severance includes a 'continuing cooperation' clause for a period of two years, where the employee agrees to 'make myself reasonably available' to SunTrust 'regarding matters in which I have been involved in the course of my employment with SunTrust and/or about which I have knowledge as a result of my employment at SunTrust.'"
Windows

Underground Piracy Sites Want To Block Windows 10 Users 394

An anonymous reader writes: Some smaller pirate sites have become concerned about Windows 10 system phoning home too many hints regarding that the users are accessing their site. Therefore, the pirate administrators have started blocking Windows 10 users from accessing the BitTorrent trackers that the sites host. The first ones to hit the alarm button were iTS, which have posted a statement and started redirecting Windows 10 users to a YouTube video called Windows 10 is a Tool to Spy on Everything You Do. Additionally, according to TorrentFreak, two other similar dark web torrent trackers are also considering following suit. "As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC," said one of the FSC staff. Likewise, in a message to their users, a BB admin said something similar: "We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users' P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group."

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