(November 13, 2019) The quest for thin-thin-thin-thin MacBook Pro's led Apple to introduce the Butterfly keyboard with the 2015 Retina MacBook Pro. While it made the MBP ultra-thin, the keyboard is widely reviled and extremely prone to breaking. The Retina MBP butterfly keyboard is one of the reasons to avoid all MacBook's from 2015 to 2019 model years. Back in July rumors were that Apple would replace the MBP keyboard with a radically different design. Today Apple fixes that with a new 16 inch MacBook Pro that has improved CPU, improved graphics, faster memory, and a whole new keyboard. It's not the bendable glass keyboard rumored back in July, and instead the keyboard was borrowed from the Magic keyboard shipping with iMac's. The new keyboard uses a scissor design as did the pre-Butterfly keyboards, but Apple didn't simply revert to the older design. Instead created a new scissor switch design based on the aforementioned Magic keyboard. The CPU and GPU improvements are also worth mentioning, but the keyboard was such a sore point with users to prevent us from talking about anything else. Oh, by the way, Apple also updated the Mac Pro and its associated ultra-pricey display, but the MacBook Pro keyboard took up all the space. Apple's press release below has all the information.
(October 30, 2019) Today Microsoft sent an email to the primary mailing list of the OpenJDK project making an announcement many thought would never happen. That Microsoft is ready to contribute work to the OpenJDK project. Those of us with long enough memory recall the turmoil in the software industry because of Microsoft's predatory approach to Java nearly twenty years ago. In recent years Microsoft has had a huge change of policy, and is now readily working with all kinds of open source projects. That Microsoft is willing to join the OpenJDK project is a grand step forward, and is incredibly welcomed.
(August 7, 2019) Remember - if you're using a service for free, that means you are the product. Twitter, Facebook, etc, are rich well funded companies, but the service they provide is free for the users. How do these companies make their money by offering a free service? Recently Twitter disclosed they've been sharing data with "partners", but they've now stopped doing so. Honest injun.
(August 5, 2019) Today Pres. Trump, in a statement about about the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend, called for an end to activities on social media networks which incite hatred and violence. In the speech he blamed everyone else but his own actions as being the source of this violence. While the other things named, video game violence, online radicalization, and so on, are partly to blame for the rising violence, Pres. Trump's own words and deeds are also to blame.
(July 26, 2019) On Tuesday, at the Turning Point USA conference, President Trump appeared at a campaign-rally-like event where somehow a fake Presidential Seal appeared. The seal which presented on the stage behind Pres. Trump as he basked in the audiences attention, and it looked enough like the real thing to fool everyone. But it was strangely different. The eagle had two heads, and the slogan was strangely different, and so on. How did a fake Presidential Seal appear on the stage at an official President Trump event? And who created this fake seal, is a byproduct of the Internet Age.
(July 23, 2019) Today the US Dept of Justice announced an investigation into "the Practices of Market-Leading Online Platforms" as Pres. Trump continues attacking Big Tech. In the past year or so, so-called Conservatives have criticized social media platforms for supposedly silencing their voices. While the DOJ press release doesn't reference that criticism, it's very likely that the two are connected.
(July 18, 2019) On Wednesday, the European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said the EU had begun an Investigation into whether Amazon uses data from 3rd party retailers in order to gain an unfair advantage in selling its own products. The issue is one American lawmakers, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has raised, namely that Amazon is both a seller in the Amazon marketplace as well as the operator. That dual role naturally raises huge questions.
(July 12, 2019) Today via the Wall Street Journal we learn that the Federal Trade Commission has approved a $5 billion fine against Facebook over privacy violations. But because Facebook makes so much money every year, and has billions of dollars in the bank, the company may just see it as a slap on the wrist and keep on keeping on.
(July 10, 2019) Following a recent Federal Court ruling that Pres. Trump cannot block folks on Twitter, a MAGA Republican running for Congress has sued Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) over being blocked from her personal Twitter account.
(July 9, 2019) A federal court has ruled that President Trump cannot block twitter users from seeing his postings, because he uses that account to conduct official government business. The ruling is applicable to any government official conducting official business through postings on Twitter.
(July 8, 2019) Tens of millions of U.S. citizens have had their faces scanned by the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without their knowledge or consent, according to new documents collected by researchers at Georgetown Law. The goal, to develop a facial recognition database that would recognize "illegal immigrants", is dubious at best. But the action was taken without approval by Congress, or the individual people.
(June 24, 2019) The Raspberry Pi 4 is now available at the same traditional starting price of $35. This popular linux single-board-computer (Linux SBC) comes in the same familiar form factor, but with upgraded specs across the board. Perhaps the most important is it can be purchased with up to 4GB of memory, but there's a lot more to consider.
(May 22, 2019) Apple is finally admitting to the Flexgate problem affecting MacBook Pro's sold between October 2016 and February 2018. The problem was that the display cable was too short and, after repeated opening and closing of the display, the display would stop working. After many months of not saying a thing about this issue, Apple has launched the MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program in which affected laptops will receive a free fix. Curiously, earlier reports by MacBook Pro owners suggest the Flexgate problem exists in 2015 MacBook Pro's, but Apple is limiting the repair effort to 2016 MacBook Pro's.
(May 22, 2019) In April, Julian Assange was arrested in London, and the USA immediately filed for extradition over one count of assisting in the computer hacking in 2010 that lead to the release of leaked documents. When Assange assisted in the hacking to acquire those documents, he stepped over a line. Today the USA Dept of Justice filed additional counts against Assange related to the 2010 leak, but the Dept did not file any indictment related to Assange's role in the conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government to release Clinton e-mails during the 2016 campaign.
(May 15, 2019) Today the Trump Administration announced a ban against 5G Networking equipment supplied by Huawei, a Chinese company. The move was long expected but has to be seen within the context of the stupid trade war launched by the Trump Administration. The Administration has claimed buying networking equipment from China is a grave national security risk.
(May 12, 2019) Apple has released what it calls the fastest Mac laptop ever. The latest MacBook Pro has an 8-core 8th or 9th generation Intel Core processor allowing Apple to claim MacBook Pro now delivers two times faster performance than a quad-core MacBook Pro and 40 percent more performance than a 6-core MacBook Pro.
(May 12, 2019) According to the NY Times, RT News (a Russian propaganda outfit) is inflaming negative stories about 5G Wireless in order to undermine The West. While RT is a Russian propaganda outfit, one wonders just how truthful this article is. The two substantive claims - RT News is inflaming the backlash on 5G Wireless - 5G Wireless is inherently safe - may be true, or may itself be talking points supplied by the 5G Wireless industry.
(April 21, 2019) Within the released and redacted Mueller Report is details of Julian Assange's efforts to ensure Wikileaks played a partisan role in the US Election of 2016. Wikileaks portrays itself as a journalistic organization, but Assange's effort to play a role in ensuring Clinton lost is not the action of a journalist. Journalists do not pick sides, but report events. Some wish us to see Assange as some kind of hero of the people. Perhaps Assange and Wikileaks used to play a positive hero-of-the-people role, but taking sides in political contests has destroyed that image of Wikileaks.
(April 18, 2019) With great fanfare Samsung recently introduced the Samsung Fold, it is a cellphone with the first foldable screen on any device. That sounds kind of cool, that you might not require adding a screen protector to keep the screen safe. If it works I'm sure all the cool kids will salivate over it. But, in light of the Apple Flexgate problem we should not be surprised to learn that screens on the Samsung Fold's given to Tech Reviewers are breaking.
(April 18, 2019) Last weeks arrest of Julian Assange is playing a strange role in US Attorney General William Barr's decision around whether the Trump Campaign is guilty of conspiracy with Wikileaks to damage the Clinton Campaign by releasing stolen emails. The USA has charged Assange with a single count from 10 years ago of aiding Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning) break into top secret computers to steal documents that were then released by Wikileaks. The line of reasoning behind the single charge for Assange is also crucial in saying the Trump Campaign did no wrong, in Barr's eyes.
(April 17, 2019) The FCC is charged with enforcing rules about radio-frequency equipment like WiFi devices. Seeing an increase in uncertified video set-top boxes, the FCC issued a warning last week that manufacturers and retailers of such products are subject to huge fines, and everyone should stop using these things.
(April 11, 2019) The USA is extraditing Julian Assange from British custody after he was arrested today on an outstanding warrant from 2012. Assange has not been charged with his alleged involvement in the conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 elections, but has curiously been charged with a single count from 2010.
(March 21, 2019) The latest Facebook security fiasco is that plain-text text files containing hundreds of millions of Facebook account passwords were kept on Facebook internal servers. It is thought these password files were not available to the public, but still represent a security risk because Facebook employees could then access and use those passwords for who-knows-what purposes.
(February 18, 2019) With Amazon's decision to cancel plans for Amazon HQ2 in Queens NY, other locales could be jockeying for attention. In this interview, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D) makes the case for Ohio as the best location for Amazon HQ2. There are many locales around the country with airports and universities where America's high-tech industry could locate their operations.
(February 14, 2019) Despite a promise to use clean renewable energy, Amazon's largest data center in North Virginia is wholly dependent on dirty electricity from coal and natural gas. Loudoun County Virginia, colloquially known as Data Center Alley, thanks to the many Internet hubs in the Reston/Herndon/Ashburn area, and is served by a utility, Dominion Energy, that relies heavily on coal and natural gas. One of Amazon's biggest AWS hubs is located there, as are data centers owned by many tech giants.
(February 14, 2019) In November, Amazon stunned folks across the country by announcing plans to build an HQ2 facility in Queens NY, and another HQ2 facility in Arlington VA. The Queens location became controversial almost immediately, and today Amazon announced cancellation of the Queens HQ2 project. In canceling the project, Amazon said they would not reopen the HQ2 search at this time, meaning Amazon is missing out yet again on the opportunity to expand in the Midwest.
(November 13, 2018) After several months of looking for "HQ2", it's new headquarters for the USA, Amazon has chosen two locations - Queens NY and Arlington VA. Each location will house about 25,000 employees and there are hopes of rehabilitating or diversifying the economies of each area. But, while this choice is good for those two locations, it represents a missed opportunity. Plenty of locations in other parts of the country could use the sort of economic injection Amazon HQ2 represents, at a lower cost to Amazon for office space.
(October 11, 2018) As a software developer coming of age in the 1980s, Microsoft was the enemy. During the 1990s I worked for three companies that died or nearly died because Microsoft yawned and stretched its arms a little bit. Microsoft was brutal about dominating the PC market with its operating systems, and software developers chafed under their restrictions. But, something shifted, and over the last few years Microsoft got the open source religion. The various actions Microsoft has taken should make us all rethink labeling Microsoft as the enemy. Today Microsoft has pivoted its strategy around patents. Where Microsoft was formerly threatening the open source world with its patent pool, Microsoft has now joined the Open Invention Network, a multi-company patent pool that is protecting Linux.
(October 11, 2018) It's a brave new world. Consider a military warplane flying into battle, or a warship engaged in a sea battle, or a tank battle. In the past that military equipment was standalone, with communications limited to voices speaking over the radio. Now such equipment is connected in a digital communications network using the same technology as the Internet. A recent US Government Accountability Office report found these systems are vulnerable to attacks due to weak cybersecurity. One wonders if the result might be an airplane plummeting out of the sky, or a tank stopping in its tracks, or the guns on a warship going silent, during combat, because the adversary hacked into critical systems.
(October 9, 2018) On Monday Google announced it was shutting down Google Plus following a review of the Google product line-up. Most of the news coverage is focusing on a bug that probably revealed user data. While that bug surely weighed on the decision, from the official blog post it is clear, irregardless of any bug, Google was going to pivot Google Plus to an Enterprise offering through the G Suite product line.
(September 11, 2018) Recently many Conservative politicians and the Conservative-friendly news outlets have been beating the war drums against Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al, because of supposed censorship of Conservative viewpoints. The evidence is weak on this, because the culprit is the algorithms for presenting search results. The irony is rich to learn that a Conservative news outlet, a designated Facebook fact checking organization, have labeled news from a Liberal-leaning news outlet as "false". Meaning that Liberal-leaning news is being downgraded by Facebook, when the actual news piece is entirely factual, solely on the say-so of a Conservative-leaning news outlet that has a long history of printing mistruths.
(September 5, 2018) Following a rage-tweeting incidents where Donald Trump attacked Twitter, Facebook, et al, over supposedly stifling of Conservative voices, and describing it as a serious situation, and threatening that it "will be addressed", the US Department of Justice is starting to put some oomph behind that threat. While representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared before a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Department of Justice issued a statement that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will convene a meeting with several US State Attorneys General to discuss "a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms".
(September 4, 2018) The upgraded Large Hadron Collider is expected to produce 1 billion particle collisions every second, of which only a fraction are the collisions that physicists want to study. To weed out the collisions of interest will require a big data software system on a massive scale to essentially find the needle in the haystack. That is, the interesting collisions in a flood of humdrum everyday collisions. When the LHC is fully operational in 2026 scientists will be completely buried in data unless they develop better tools. To that end the NSF is funding a new institute explicitly for that purpose.
(August 28, 2018) In a series of tweets this morning President Trump demonstrates how little he understands search engines and ranking algorithms. The President claimed that Google is stifling "Conservative" news outlets, that 96% of news search results are slanted against Conservatives by the "National Left-Wing Media" and other Liberal establishments like Google. This attack follows recent similar attacks against Twitter and Facebook and the supposed "shadow banning" exercised to keep folks from seeing Conservative views. What this really shows is either that Trump does not understand how search engines and ranking algorithms work, or else that Trump and his cronies are propping up a fake controversy. Based on this misportrayal of Google/Twitter/Facebook policies, the Trump Administration is promising to "look into" regulating these services, raising the chilling prospect of using this to then stifle actual freedom of speech.
(August 21, 2018) What steers a peaceful young man to commit violence? We say Muslims can be radicalized by information they find online, causing them to commit violence like terrorist missions. What if that person is instead an American, or German, practicing Christianity, who suddenly commits violence? A recent study of anti-refugee attacks in Germany suggest a strong correlation with Facebook usage, especially if one is flocking to hard-line right-wing groups or postings.