Do Airlines Make Money From First Class? - [briefly]
04:06 PM EST - Nov,21 2019 - post a comment
Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines make a lot of their money at the front of the plane. A strong economy and industry consolidation has allowed the airlines, in recent years, to invest in more fuel efficient planes with better cabins focusing on premium classes. One focus has been rethinking business class. First class internationally and on some key domestic routes has become a hybrid of first and business class.
As of November 2019, if you wanted to book a first class round trip flight on Emirates from JFK to Dubai at the last minute it could cost you over $23,000.
Flying from New York to Mumbai? Etihad Airways offers a three-room luxury suite called The Residence which features a private bathroom, a private living room and a personal butler. Flying round trip on Etihad for that flight could be over $36,000.
And, for about $3,000, American Airlines Flagship First fliers can go from New York to Los Angeles with access to an exclusive check-in area and premium wines in the flagship lounge.
While the airlines make a significant amount of money packing people into coach like cattle, premium cabins like business and first class are still a major source of income for U.S carriers.
Half-Life: Alyx Announcement Trailer - [gaming]
03:34 PM EST - Nov,21 2019 - post a comment
Valve has followed through on their promise, revealing first details of Half-Life: Alyx
, a new installment in the Half-Life series that will require a virtual reality headset. The game will be free to owners of Valve's Index and will also support Rift, Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality.
Valve, the creators of Half-Life and the Steam platform, today announced Half-Life: Alyx, a new, full-length virtual reality entry in the Half-Life series. Slated for release on Steam in March 2020, the title will be compatible with all PC-based VR headsets in March 2020.
Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mount the resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine. As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.
Half-Life: Alyx was designed from the ground up for Virtual Reality and features all of the hallmarks of a classic Half-Life game: world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and an intricately woven story that connects it all with the characters iconic to the Half-Life universe.
"Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life", says Valve founder Gabe Newell. "VR has energized us. We've invested a lot of ourselves in the technology. But we're also game developers at heart, and to be devoting ourselves to a VR game this ambitious is just as exciting. For that to come in the form of Half-Life feels like the culmination of a lot things we care a lot about: truly great games, cutting edge technology, and open platforms. We can't wait for people to experience this."
Half-Life: Alyx is powered by SteamVR on Valve's Source 2 engine, and can be played on Steam with all PC-based VR headsets.
Samsung Brings the Dark Side to Galaxy Note10+ - [mobile]
05:17 AM EST - Nov,20 2019 - post a comment
Samsung will sell a Star Wars Special Edition of the Galaxy Note10+
this December, with Star Wars-inspired design elements and digital content. The phone will be bundled with a specially designed case, a metal badge as a collector's item, a red S Pen, and Galaxy Buds. The design features a First Order logo on the back. The phone comes loaded with exclusive Star Wars-themed content including wallpapers, shutdown animations, icons, and sounds. Engadget reports
that the (unlocked) phone will go on sale in the US on Dec. 13th for $1300. This special edition coincides with the release of The Rise of Skywalker film on December 20th.
HP board unanimously rejects Xerox's bid to acquire the company - [briefly]
05:15 AM EST - Nov,20 2019 - post a comment
HP's board of directors said Sunday
that they unanimously rejected a proposal from Xerox to acquire the company, because the offer is not in the best interest of shareholders and would undervalue HP. Xerox had offered HP $22 per share in its takeover bid for the company. The bid consists of 77% cash and 23% stock, or $17 in cash and 0.137 Xerox share for each HP share.
"In reaching this determination, the Board also considered the highly conditional and uncertain nature of the proposal, including the potential impact of outsized debt levels on the combined company's stock," the board wrote in a letter to John Visentin, Xerox's CEO.
HP announced in October that it will cut between 7,000 and 9,000 jobs by the end of fiscal 2022 as part of a broader restructuring plan that it estimates will save $1 billion a year. The cuts would amount to nearly 16% of its 55,000 employees across the world, according to data from FactSet.
The software company is worth $29 billion and is over three times the size of Xerox, which makes printers and copiers, in terms of market cap.
"We note the decline of Xerox's revenue from $10.2 billion to $9.2 billion (on a trailing 12-month basis) since June 2018, which raises significant questions for us regarding the trajectory of your business and future prospects," the board wrote.
Google Camera Flaw (Android) - [security]
03:53 PM EST - Nov,19 2019 - post a comment
The thought of a stranger hijacking your camera and being able to see what you are doing without your knowledge is the stuff of nightmares for most people. Our phones tend to follow us into every area of our lives. Checkmarx
decided to see if the cameras that are built into Android phones might be vulnerable to hacking. For their testing, the team took a Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 smartphone and began to probe the Google Camera app. The team found that there were a number of "concerning vulnerabilities" in the Google Camera app.
They also found that the same vulnerabilities impact the camera apps of other smartphone vendors in the Android ecosystem. They specifically cited Samsung's camera app as vulnerable. The team found in testing that by manipulating specific actions and intents, an attacker can control the app to take photos and record photos through a rogue process that should have no permission to do so.
Checkmarx also notes that it found specific attack scenarios that could enable malicious actors to circumvent various storage permission policies to give them access to stored videos and photos along with GPS metadata embedded in photos; that data could be parsed to locate the user. One way the researchers found enabled a rogue application to force the camera to take pictures and record videos even if the phone is locked or the screen turned off. The researchers were able to force video and images to be taken even when the user was in the middle of a voice call.
Allowing an app to receive input from the camera, mic, and GPS location is highly invasive, according to Google (or course). The team was able to design an attack scenario that circumvents the permission policy by abusing the Google Camera app itself. The vulnerability has to do with giving permissions to external storage, which provides an app with access to the entire SD card. The team says that when activated during a voice call, the hacker could record the voices on both ends of a conversation.
Checkmarx says that it has already notified Google of its findings, and the company updated vulnerable versions of the Camera App in July 2019.
Google Stadia - Early reviews - [gaming]
05:26 PM EST - Nov,18 2019 - post a comment
Google Stadia, Google's new cloud-gaming platform, has had a ton of hype and made promises. Well it's finally here, in some form at least. With only a handful of games and a handful of compatible devices, a lot of its promised features aren't available at launch. Is the service the first step towards the future of gaming, or will Stadia fall flat on its face? Here's what the early reviews say:
The Stadia controller connects to the Chromecast Ultra via WiFi, enabling untethered gameplay in the living room. To play on a phone, tablet, laptop or PC, the official gamepad has to be physically plugged in (for now). The first Stadia game I booted up was Destiny 2 on the Chromecast Ultra. The title screen loaded quickly and I created a new character; the process felt so smooth and familiar that I forgot I was playing a AAA, online game on a streaming puck the size of a Thin Mint. But then, I started shooting. The lag was immediate.
With Stadia, games sometimes look like you're watching an ultra-high resolution gameplay video rather than actually playing the game yourself. They look drab. If you want to understand, go watch this video, make it fullscreen, set the quality to the highest your display can support. This is what it looks like to play games on Stadia. It's better quality than you'd get trying to play a game on mid-tier hardware, but not quite as crisp and crystal-clear as it would be if you played it on a really nice display. Stadia excels in that middle ground just shy of ultra-high-def.
While you've probably heard predictions that Google's Stadia will be the "Netflix of games," it turns out the analogy only goes so far. While Google intends to eventually have a back catalog of free games included for your $10 monthly fee, Stadia is not primarily a subscription service. The subscription only includes a single game as of today - Destiny 2. Primarily, Google tells us you should expect to buy, not rent cloud games for the same retail prices you'd find on other platforms like PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and Steam.
It costs $120 to get the early edition Founder's pack, which includes a Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, a short USB-C-to-C cable, a Destiny 2 game download, and three months of a $10-per-month Stadia Pro subscription service needed to take advantage of all of Stadia's online features. Also, you need to buy the actual games at their regular prices... even though you can't download them. A more affordable Stadia play service is launching in 2020, though details are unclear. It all seems like a lot to pay for a "consoleless console." In the UK, you can get the Premiere Edition with the same features. Prices of Stadia games are basically full retail game prices. This could get crazy expensive fast!
Why Car Windows Have Little Black Dots - [briefly]
01:38 PM EST - Nov,16 2019 - post a comment
Every now and then, you get stuck in traffic. So what do you do? You stare blankly at your windshield, right. And you probably notice the little black dots around the edges. Ever wondered what those are for?
But black dots aren't the only part of your car that might have you wondering, "What on Earth is that for?" Since you're still looking at your windshield, did you notice that little line with an arrow pointing down and AS1 written on it? Or what about the black lines going across the back window and that little snowflake on your dashboard? Let's figure out!
Google Maps Can Now Speak Aloud Places in Foreign Languages - [briefly]
01:36 PM EST - Nov,16 2019 - post a comment
Google has updated its Maps app
with the ability to speak aloud the name and/or address of your destination in the local language when traveling abroad. The feature is designed to be used when hailing a taxi or asking a local for directions. The feature appears automatically when in a country where the local language doesn't match your device's language setting. A speaker icon appears next to the place name in each listing. Tapping it brings up a new box with the option to speak the place name in the local language, speak the address in the local language, or jump to Google Translate to continue a conversation with a local. The new feature will be rolling out this month on Android and iOS with support for 50 languages and more on the way.
NVIDIA Announces Financial Results for Third Quarter Fiscal 2020 - [briefly]
01:29 PM EST - Nov,16 2019 - post a comment
NVIDIA has reported revenue for the third quarter ended Oct. 27, 2019, of $3.01 billion compared with $3.18 billion a year earlier and $2.58 billion in the previous quarter. GAAP earnings per diluted share for the quarter were $1.45, compared with $1.97 a year ago and $0.90 in the previous quarter. Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $1.78, compared with $1.84 a year earlier and $1.24 in the previous quarter. NVIDIA will pay its next quarterly cash dividend of $0.16 per share on Dec. 20, 2019, to all shareholders of record on Nov. 29, 2019. The company will return to repurchasing its stock after closing the acquisition of Mellanox Technologies, Ltd. Although discussions with the European Union and China regulatory bodies are progressing and closing the acquisition is possible by the end of this calendar year, the company believes the closing will likely occur in the early part of calendar 2020.
AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.11.2 - [briefly]
01:27 PM EST - Nov,16 2019 - post a comment
AMD Thursday released its latest version of Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition. Version 19.11.2 beta
is the second release for the month of November 2019, and comes with optimization for "Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order." The driver also addresses a bug with certain map areas or cities in "Player Unknown's Battlegrounds" (PUBG) intermittently experiencing stuttering or performance loss.
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Some specific map areas or cities in Player Unknown's: Battlegrounds may intermittently experience stutter or performance drops
7nm Intel Xe GPUs Codenamed 'Ponte Vecchio' - [hardware]
03:59 AM EST - Nov,14 2019 - post a comment
Intel's first Xe GPU built on the company's 7 nm silicon fabrication process will be codenamed "Ponte Vecchio," according to a VideoCardz report
. These are not gaming GPUs, but rather compute accelerators designed for exascale computing, which leverage the company's CXL (Compute Express Link) interconnect that has bandwidth comparable to PCIe gen 4.0, but with scalability features slated to come out with future generations of PCIe. Intel is preparing its first enterprise compute platform featuring these accelerators codenamed "Project Aurora," in which the company will exert end-to-end control over not just the hardware stack, but also the software.
"Project Aurora" combines up to six "Ponte Vecchio" Xe accelerators with up to two Xeon multi-core processors based on the 7 nm "Sapphire Rapids" microarchitecture, and OneAPI, a unifying API that lets a single kind of machine code address both the CPU and GPU. With Intel owning the x86 machine architecture, it's likely that Xe GPUs will feature, among other things, the ability to process x86 instructions. The API will be able to push scalar workloads to the CPU, and and the GPU's scalar units, and vector workloads to the GPU's vector-optimized SIMD units. Intel's main pitch to the compute market could be significantly lowered software costs from API and machine-code unification between the CPU and GPU.
Minecraft Earth Launches in US - [gaming]
03:50 PM EST - Nov,13 2019 - post a comment
Minecraft Earth is now available in the US
in an "Early Access" version. Users can walk around to explore a Minecraft version of the real-world map, collect virtual resources scattered around the map, and start building with Minecraft blocks on "buildplates", which can be placed on a tabletop like a virtual AR diorama. Buildplates can also be placed in the world using life-size AR. Both modes allow multi-player collaboration. The map also includes interactive Adventures at set locations on the map. Like Pokemon Go, the map is based on Open Street Map data.
Windows 10 Nov 2019 Update 1909 Released - [briefly]
04:04 AM EST - Nov,13 2019 - post a comment
Microsoft late Tuesday released its second major update to Windows 10 for the year, the Windows 10 November 2019 Update (version 1909)
. This update beats conventions in that is "minor" in comparison to the Windows 10 May 2019 (1903) Update, in that Microsoft didn't change too many under-the-hood components, but updated the operating system's user-interface
. For example, the operating system retains the older version's driver model. The Actions Center received several UI updates such as the ability to add items to your agenda directly from the calendar, improved sorting of notifications, improved accessibility of the Start menu, and the ability to use third-party accessibility software from even the Lock screen. The only notable under-the-hood changes concern the scheduler. Windows 10 now gets the ability to address multiple "favored" cores in a multi-core processor. A favored core is a physically superior core that can sustain higher boost clocks for longer.
Microsoft plans to release this feature update as an optional update, which means that it won't download and install until you manually start the process from the Windows Update settings page. However, if your device is running a version of the Windows 10 that's nearing the end of life, then eventually version 1909 will install automatically.
You can download the November 2019 ISO files for updating your Windows 10 from the following links:
- Windows 10 November 2019 Update (64-bit)
- Windows 10 November 2019 Update (32-bit)
The following new features are being introduced as part of this update.
- This update will be published to WSUS so that customers can deploy and manage Insider Preview builds alongside their standard ConfigMan/WSUS approach. See this blog post for details.
- We are offering pre-release support for 19H2 offered to Windows Insider Program for Business (WIP4Biz) customers who face blocking issues that prevent them from feature evaluation or device use. See this article for details.
- Windows containers require matched host and container version. This restricts customers and limits Windows containers from supporting mixed-version container pod scenarios This update includes 5 fixes to address this and allow the host to run down-level containers on up-level for process (Argon) isolation.
- A fix to allow OEMs to reduce the inking latency based on the hardware capabilities of their devices rather than being stuck with latency selected on typical hardware configuration by the OS.
- Key-rolling or Key-rotation feature enables secure rolling of Recovery passwords on MDM managed AAD devices upon on demand request from Microsoft Intune/MDM tools or upon every time recovery password is used to unlock the BitLocker protected drive. This feature will help prevent accidental recovery password disclosure as part of manual BitLocker drive unlock by users.
- A change to enable third-party digital assistants to voice activate above the Lock screen.
- You can now quickly create an event straight from the Calendar flyout on the Taskbar. Just select the date and time at the lower right corner of the Taskbar to open the Calendar flyout and pick your desired date and start typing in the text box-you'll now see inline options to set a time and location.
- The navigation pane on the Start menu now expands when you hover over it with your mouse to better inform where clicking goes.
- We have added friendly images to show what is meant by "banner" and "Action Center" when adjusting the notifications on apps in order to make these settings more approachable and understandable.
- Notifications settings under Settings > System > Notifications will now default to sorting notification senders by most recently shown notification, rather than sender name. This makes it easier to find and configure frequent and recent senders. We have also added a setting to turn off playing sound when notifications appear.
- We now show the options to configure and turn off notifications from an app/website right on the notification, both as a banner and in Action Center.
- We have added a "Manage notifications" button to the top of Action Center that launches the main "Notifications & actions" Settings page.
- We have added additional debugging capabilities for newer Intel processors. This is only relevant for hardware manufacturers.
- We have made general battery life and power efficiency improvements for PCs with certain processors.
- A CPU may have multiple "favored" cores (logical processors of the highest available scheduling class). To provide better performance and reliability, we have implemented a rotation policy that distributes work more fairly among these favored cores.
- We have enabled Windows Defender Credential Guard for ARM64 devices for additional protection against credential theft for enterprises deploying ARM64 devices in their organizations.
- We have enabled the ability for enterprises to supplement the Windows 10 in S Mode policy to allow traditional Win32 (desktop) apps from Microsoft Intune.
- We're updating the search box in File Explorer to now be powered by Windows Search. This change will help integrate your OneDrive content online with the traditional indexed results.
- We have added the ability for Narrator and other assistive technologies to read and learn where the FN key is located on keyboards and what state it is in (locked versus unlocked).
NVIDIA Releases GeForce 441.20 WHQL Drivers - [briefly]
01:19 PM EST - Nov,12 2019 - post a comment
NVIDIA today posted GeForce 441.20 WHQL software
. The drivers come game-ready for "Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order," and "Stormland." This includes SLI support for the latest Star Wars game. NVIDIA also introduced support for CUDA 10.2 compute API. The list of G-Sync compatible monitors has been expanded with three more displays. Among the issues addressed with this release are geometry corruption on GTX 900-series "Maxwell" GPUs with "Red Dead Redemption" in Vulkan; G-Sync getting disengaged when V-Sync is disabled in "Red Dead Redemption." Vulkan-related errors with "The Surge" have also been fixed. There's also a surprising bug-fix, "Quake 3 Arena" appearing washed-out when color-depth is set to 16-bit. Performance drops with "CS: GO" have also been addressed.
New G-SYNC Compatible Monitors
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Application SLI Profiles
- Acer XB273U
- Acer XV273U
- ASUS VG259Q monitors.
New Features and Other Changes
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Fixed Issues in this Release
- Added support for CUDA 10.2
- [Red Dead Redemption 2][Vulkan][Maxwell GPUs]: Geometry corruption occurs on some Maxwell GPUs. 
- [Red Dead Redemption 2][Vulkan]: G-SYNC disengages when disabling V-Sync on the game. 
- [The Surge 2] VULKAN_ERROR_DEVICE_LOST when using driver version 440.97. 
- [Quake 3 Arena]: Colors in the game become washed out when set to 16-bit color. 
- [HDR]: HDR black levels are grey on LG OLED55C9. 
- [CS:GO]: The game experiences performance drops in certain CPU-limited cases. 
Samsung Faces Factory Contamination - [technology]
12:43 PM EST - Nov,11 2019 - post a comment
Today, Samsung's foundry division, dedicated to the manufacturing of DRAM chips, is facing challenges from mistakes that happened a few weeks ago. Those mistakes are in the form of contamination of the clean rooms
, where all the tools necessary for the manufacturing of DRAM chips on 200 mm wafers got infected, and now Samsung is taking a multi-million dollar loss because the new wafers have to be scrapped.
Clean rooms are essential for the semiconductor manufacturing process, because they keep all the pollutants away from silicon, keeping silicon clean and ready for use. However, Samsung has not managed to keep a clean room for its DRAM manufacturing facility working with 200 mm wafers for 1x nm-class DRAM chips. The tools used for wafer processing have been contaminated and, therefore, the wafers themselves because of their interactions. Samsung has admitted that they have lost around "several billion South Korean won," resulting in millions of US dollars. The re-assuring thing that this will not significantly impact the DRAM market is that production is now going as planned, and the issue is sorted out, so we can hope this doesn't have any big impact on the DRAM prices.
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