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Education

Microsoft President Brad Smith: Computer Science Is Space Race of Today 145

theodp writes: Q. How is K-12 computer science like the Cold War? A. It could use a Sputnik moment, at least that's the gist of an op-ed penned by Senator Jerry Moran (R., KS) and Microsoft President Brad Smith. From the article: "In the wake of the Soviet Union's 1957 Sputnik launch, President Eisenhower confronted the reality that America's educational standards were holding back the country's opportunity to compete on a global technological scale. He responded and called for support of math and science, which resulted in the National Defense Education Act of 1958 and helped send the country to the moon by the end of the next decade. It also created the educational foundation for a new generation of technology, leadership and prosperity. Today we face a similar challenge as the United States competes with nations across the globe in the indispensable field of computer science. To be up to the task, we must do a better job preparing our students for tomorrow's jobs." Smith is also a Board member of tech-bankrolled Code.org, which invoked Sputnik in its 2014 Senate testimony ("learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment") as it called for "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund [...] to support the teaching and learning of more computer science," nicely echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy. Tying the lack of K-12 CS education to the need for tech visas is a time-honored tradition of sorts for Microsoft and politicians. As early as 2004, Bill Gates argued that CS education needed its own Sputnik moment, a sentiment shared by Senator Hillary Clinton in 2007 as she and fellow Senators listened to Gates make the case for more H-1B visas as he lamented the lack of CS-savvy U.S. high school students.
Operating Systems

'UpgradeSubscription.exe' File In Preview Build Hints At Windows 10 Subscriptions (zdnet.com) 251

An anonymous reader writes: A file named "UpgradeSubscription.exe" is found buried in the System32 folder of Windows 10 build 14376, alongside 590 other .exe files. ZDNet reports the file has been part of other recent preview builds, but just recently uncovered. "In the file's properties, it's described as the Windows Upgrade to Subscription Tool, and its date and time stamp corresponds to other administrative tools in the same build," reports ZDNet. You can view the screenshot here. Microsoft responded to ZDNet saying: "The Windows Upgrade to Subscription tool, found in the latest Windows Insider builds, helps to manage certain volume licensing upgrades from Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update to Windows 10 Enterprise. This binary file is not associated with the free consumer upgrade offering nor is it applicable to consumer Windows editions." When pressed for additional details, Microsoft responded with, "No further comment." While the file does nothing, it does appear to confirm that it's related to licensing, referencing a registry value called AllowWindowsSubscription. Build 14376 reveals a few references to servicing packages named Microsoft-Client-License-Platform-Upgrade-Subscription-Package. Last year, there was some talk about Windows 10 being the last version of Windows as Microsoft is pushing a "Windows as a service" vision. When news broke in April about Windows Phone's sharp revenue declines, PCWorld reported that CEO Satya Nadella's strategy is to grow Microsoft's revenues by convincing customers to adopt its paid subscription services.
Businesses

US Regulators Investigating Tesla Over Use of 'Autopilot' Mode Linked To Fatal Crash (cnbc.com) 323

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday it is opening a preliminary investigation into 25,000 Tesla Motors Model S cars after a fatal crash involving a vehicle using the "Autopilot" mode. The agency said the crash came in a 2015 Model S operating with automated driving systems engaged, and "calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash." It is the first step before the agency could seek to order a recall if it believed the vehicles were unsafe. Tesla said Thursday the death was "the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," while a fatality happens once every 60 million miles worldwide. The electric automaker said it "informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred." The May crash occurred when a tractor trailer drove across a divided highway, where a Tesla in autopilot mode was driving. The Model S passed under the tractor trailer, and the bottom of the trailer hit the Tesla vehicle's windshield. Tesla quietly settled a lawsuit with a Model X owner who claims his car's doors would open and close unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature poses a danger in the rain.
The Courts

Tesla Admits Defeat, Quietly Settles Model X Lawsuit Over Usability Problems (bgr.com) 125

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there's no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstart the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously. But in Tesla's zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X. According to a recent report, avowed Tesla fan named Barrett Lyon recently returned his Model X and filed a lawsuit against Tesla arguing that the Model X was "rushed" and released before it was ready for sale. Now comes word that Tesla has since quietly settled the lawsuit. "In Lyon's lawsuit," Fortune writes, "he claimed the cars doors opened and closed unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature posed a danger in the rain. He also shared a video that shows the car's self-parking feature failing to operate successfully." Tesla's response: "We are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience throughout ownership. As a principle, we are always willing to buy back a car in the rare event that a customer isn't completely happy. Today, the majority of Model X owners are loving their cars."
Transportation

Rolls-Royce Eyes Autonomous Ships, Expects Remote-Controlled Cargo Ships By 2020 (pcmag.com) 147

An anonymous reader writes from a report via PC Magazine: Speaking at a recent symposium in Amsterdam, Rolls-Royce vice president of innovation for marine, Oskar Levander, said, "The technologies needed to make remote and autonomous ships a reality exist." In partnership with the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) project, Rolls-Royce, DNV GL, Inmarsat, Deltamarin, NAPA, Brighthouse Intelligence, Finferries, and ESL Shipping are leading the $7 million effort. Unmanned ships could save money, weight, and space, making way for more cargo and improving reliability and productivity, the AAWA said in a recent white paper. "The increased level of safety onboard will be provided by additional systems," Rolls-Royce said on its website. "Our future solutions will reduce need for human-machine interaction by automating selected tasks and processes, whilst keeping the human at the center of critical decision making and onboard expertise." Initial testing of sensor arrays in a range of operating and climatic conditions is already underway in Finland. Phase II of the project will continue through the end of 2017. Rolls-Royce plans to launch the first remote-controlled cargo ships by 2020, with autonomous boats in the water within the next two decades. Rolls-Royce was in the news last week when they unveiled their first driverless vehicle called The Vision Next 100.
Education

Google Launches 'Project Bloks' Toys To Teach Kids To Code (thenextweb.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a hardware project dubbed 'Project Bloks' to help teach kids how to code. There are three components to the learning experience: Brain Board, Base Boards, and Pucks. The Brain Board features a processing unit that is based off of Raspberry Pi Zero, which controls and provides power to the rest of the connected components. It does also interact with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. The Base Boards are connective units that let users design instruction flows. Finally, the Pucks are the components you interact with. They're shaped with switches, arrows, buttons, dials and more, and can be programmed to turn things on or off, move avatars, play music, and more. What's neat is you can record instructions from multiple pucks into a single one. Some of them can be made with simple, inexpensive materials like paper with conductive ink. You can watch the official introduction video on YouTube. Google did release a subsequent video about the project called "Developing on Project Bloks."
Microsoft

Microsoft Tests New Tool To Remove OEM Crapware (arstechnica.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Windows 10 already includes ways to clear out applications and data to repair misbehaving systems or prepare them to be sold, courtesy of the Refresh and Reset features added in Windows 8. Microsoft is now adding a third option: a new refresh tool. Currently available only for Windows Insiders, the new tool fetches a copy of Windows online and performs a clean installation. The only option is whether or not you want to preserve your personal data. Any other software that's installed will be blown away, including the various applications and utilities that OEMs continue to bundle with their systems. Ars Technica points out that the tool isn't perfect. For example, "it installs a preview build from the fast track, but Microsoft notes that the new tool can sometimes install a version older than the one currently installed. When this kind of version mismatch occurs, the option to preserve your files is removed."
Microsoft

Microsoft Open-Sources 'Checked C,' A Safer C Version (softpedia.com) 208

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Microsoft has open-sourced Checked C, an extension to the C programming language that brings new features to address a series of security-related issues. As its name hints, Checked C will add checking to C, and more specifically pointer bounds checking. The company hopes to curb the high-number of security bugs such as buffer overruns, out-of-bounds memory accesses, and incorrect type casts, all which would be easier to catch in Checked C. Despite tangible benefits to security, the problem of porting code to Checked C still exists, just like it did when C# or Rust came out, both C alternatives.
Software

Software Industry Has $1 Trillion Economic Impact In US (cnet.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNET: A report from software trade organization BSA The Software Alliance shows that the software industry is driving economics gains across the country. The software industry had a $1.07 trillion impact on U.S. gross domestic product in 2014, according to the report. It's being driven by 2.5 million jobs directly related to the software industry, with an additional 7.3 million positions for people in real estate, professional services and other fields the industry supports. California surpassed all other states with 408,143 software jobs that contributed roughly $90.53 billion to the GDP. New York came in second with 147,361 software jobs contributing $37.16 billion. Texas came in third with 200,000 jobs adding about $30 billion. Alaska came in last place with 1,325 software jobs contributing $248 million to the GDP.
Bug

BadTunnel Bug Hijacks Network Traffic, Affects All Windows Versions (softpedia.com) 105

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has just patched a vulnerability that affects all Windows versions ever released. Called BadTunnel, the security flaw allows attackers to pass as a WAPD or ISATAP server and intercept all network traffic. Exploitation is trivial and firewalls are natively designed to open the port through which the attack is carried out. BadTunnel can be triggered whenever the user clicks URI or UNC links/paths in Office files, IE, Edge, or other applications that support the URI/VNC scheme (and most do). Additionally, an attacker can carry out his attack from the other side of the world, and does not need to have a foothold on the victim's network. While recent Windows OS versions received patches, exploitation points remain open for non-supported Windows operating systems such as XP, Windows Server 2003, and others. For these operating systems, and for those that can't be updated just yet, system administrators should disable NetBIOS.
Businesses

The Biggest Maker of Raspberry Pis Has Been Acquired For $871 Million (theverge.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: The biggest manufacturer of the Raspberry Pi minicomputer, Premier Farnell, has been acquired by Swiss industrial component supplier Daetwyler Holding AG for roughly $871 million. According to Bloomberg, the deal will reportedly help both companies compete better in the components market. "By combining forces, we significantly increase our competitiveness and extend our product range," Daetwyler Chairman Ulrich said in a statement, "facilitating a one-stop shopping experience for our wide range of customers from a multitude of industries." Premier Farnell is one of the only companies with a license to design and distribute Raspberry Pis. The Wall Street Journal says the Raspberry Pi devices are a big part of the company's business, as the division in charge of the Pi raked in 16 percent of the company's total revenue last year.
E3

AMD Announces Radeon RX 470, RX 460 Graphics Cards (gamespot.com) 48

An anonymous reader writes from a report via GameSpot: At E3 2016, AMD has announced the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460. They will join the RX 480 in the company's Polaris family. Both GPUs will be VR-capable, whereas the RX 480 is made for 1440p gaming. AMD says the RX 470 will focus on delivering a "refined, power-efficient HD gaming" experience, and that the RX 460 will offer a "cool and efficient solution for the ultimate e-sports gaming experience." The RX 480 will be priced starting at $200 for the 4GB variant, with the other two cards most likely priced lower. The company did also announce that the chips are extremely thin, offering a very low Z-height, and will fit into thin and light gaming notebooks. They support a wide variety of features that include DX12, HDR, HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.3/1.4, and H.265 encoding/decoding. AMD claims the RX 480 card outperforms $500 graphics cards in VR. The RX 470 and RX 460 have yet to have official release dates. However, the RX 480 is scheduled to launch on June 29. In April, AMD announced a plan to license the design of its top-of-the-line server processor to a newly formed Chinese company, creating a brand-new rival for Intel.
The Almighty Buck

A Tour of Campus 2, Apple's Upcoming Headquarters (popsci.com) 119

Dave Knott writes from a report via Popular Science: Popular Science has an article detailing Campus 2, Apple's upcoming headquarters, including a video with a tour of the complex which is still under construction. The Spaceship, as many have nicknamed it, is over one mile in circumference and when it is completed later this year it will house 13,000 employees. Its exterior will largely be composed of thousands of huge curved glass planes; the floors and ceilings will be constructed from hollow concrete slabs that allow the building to "breathe," bolstering its eco-friendly qualities. Campus 2 will run entirely on renewable energy, with rooftop solar panels providing an output of 16 megawatts of power and acting as the campus's primary energy supplier. Upon completion, the main building will have four stories above ground and three below, with numerous other facilities including seven cafes, a fitness center and a 120,000 square-foot theater where Apple will hold its famous product announcements. Construction on the building is expected to be finished by the end of 2016. Interesting facts: Apple used 4,300 concrete slabs, weighing a total of 212 tons, to create the structure. The Spaceship also features 330-ton, 92-foot-tall steel reinforced doors for its restaurant -- the dining-hall doors alone span 60,000 square feet and collectively weigh 330 tons. The campus boasts 900 panels of vertical glass, 1,600 panes of canopy glass, 510 panes of clerestory glass, and 126 panes for skylight glass (3,000 total). The total cost of the project is approximately $5 billion.
Education

Ready CEO: Coding Snobs Are Not Helping Our Children Prepare For The Future (qz.com) 342

jader3rd writes: Quartz has an article written by the CEO of Ready, David S. Bennahum, about how public education should be embracing computer science, and how existing programmers don't like these efforts because they feel that doing so will result in kids being exposed to programming in a manner different then how they were introduced to it. Bennahum writes: "Writing software today is eerily similar to what it was like in the late 1950s, when people sat at terminals and wrote COBOL programs. And like the late 1950s, the stereotype of the coder is largely unchanged: mostly white guys with deep math skills, and minimal extroversion. Back in the Sputnik-era, people thought of programmers as a priesthood in lab coats: the sole keepers of knowledge that ran these exotic, and mysterious room-sized machines. Today the priesthood is a little hipper -- lab coats have long given way to a countercultural vibe -- but it's still a priesthood, perhaps more druidic than Jesuitic, but a priesthood nonetheless, largely comprised of white men." "Instead of attempting to lure code-literate teachers away from Silicon Valley, we need to revolutionize the way coding is done. Rather than fit the person to the tool, let's fit the tool to the person. Pop computing can help us get there, offering a gloriously diverse array of tools to match our gloriously diverse species. It's only a matter of time before the process of making software itself is transformed, from one that requires a mastery of syntax -- the precise stringing of sentences needed to command a computer -- to the mastery of logic. Logic is the essence of software creation, and the second step after mastering syntax.'
Cellphones

Lenovo and Motorola Unveil PHAB2 Tango AR and Modular Moto Z Smartphones (hothardware.com) 25

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Google has been teasing its Project Tango augmented reality (AR) platform for years but no OEMs have stepped up to the plate to deliver Tango-enabled hardware until now. Lenovo just came out with its PHAB2 Pro 6.4-inch phablet smartphone which packs a full-fledged AR experience. The PHAB2 Pro will be the first commercially available Lenovo smartphone in the U.S. and it leverages Tango AR technology in three ways. The smartphone's "eye" uses motion-tracking to determine its location in 3D. Area learning can also feed location information to the phone, and depth perception allows the phone to analyze the world around it. The PHAB2 Pro is also huge with a 6.4" QHD display covered in 2.5D curved glass. Powering the PHAB2 Pro is a Snapdragon 652 processor with 4GB of RAM, a generous 64GB of storage and a microSD slot. There's also a 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera and a 4050 mAh battery. Lenovo's Motorola Mobility division also announced the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, which are next generation Android flagships. The Moto Z is the standard model and measures just 5.2mm thick and comes with a 5.5" QHD AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB of storage. Its 13MP rear camera features optical image stabilization and laser autofocus, while its 5MP front camera with wide-angle lens takes care of selfies. Then there's the new Moto Z Force, which ups the ante with a 3500 mAh battery, a 21MP rear camera and a shatterproof screen. But what truly makes the Moto Z and Moto Z Force stand out are Moto Mods. These are modular accessories that attach to the back of the smartphones via four magnets and a 16-pin connector. It's much more elegant than what LG has employed with the G5 (which requires you to remove the bottom of the smartphone). Instead, Moto Z users can simply attach an accessory, like the JBL SoundBoost Mod which brings high-end sound, with a quick snap.
Windows

Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14361 Released (betanews.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes from a report via BetaNews: Windows Insider chief Dona Sarkar announced in a blog post that they are releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14361 for both PC and Mobile to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. This new release includes new features, some improvements to existing features, and various bug fixes that the company hopes to iron out before the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. A LastPass extension for the Microsoft Edge browser, and Hyper-V Container, which will let you use Docker natively on Windows 10, has been added. A series of improvements have been made to Windows Ink, and the Settings app, which includes changes to the colors so it's more obvious where you are. The Blu-ray icon and Network Quick Action icon have also been updated. You can read the full list of improvements and fixes for PC here.
Government

FTC Has Serious Concerns About IoT Security and Privacy (onthewire.io) 41

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On The Wire: The Federal Trade Commission has sent comments to the Department of Commerce, outlining a list of concerns about the security and privacy of connected and embedded devices, saying that while many IoT devices have tangible benefits for consumers, "these devices also create new opportunities for unauthorized persons to exploit vulnerabilities." One of the key security problems that researchers have cited with IoT devices is the impracticality of updating them when vulnerabilities are discovered. Installing new firmware on light bulbs or refrigerators is not something most consumers are used to, and many manufacturers haven't contemplated those processes either. The FTC said the lack of available updates is a serious problem for consumers and businesses alike. "Although similar risks exist with traditional computers and computer networks, they may be heightened in the IoT, in part because many IoT chips are inexpensive and disposable, and many IoT devices are quickly replaceable with newer versions. As a result, businesses may not have an incentive to support software updates for the full useful life of these devices, potentially leaving consumers with vulnerable devices. Moreover, it may be difficult or impossible to apply updates to certain devices," the FTC comments say. In early May, the FTC issued a 10-page letter to eight leading players in the mobile communications arena requiring them to tell the agency how they issue security patches.
Microsoft

Microsoft Removes the 'X' From Windows 10 Update Leaving No Way Out (theregister.co.uk) 664

simpz writes: The Register reports that Microsoft has changed the Windows 10 update dialog and no longer shows the "X" close button. They say once agreed to there is no obvious back-out method and it is now out of step with Microsoft's own documentation on this. They have a screenshot of this. As noted above, the latest move is out of step with Microsoft's Knowledge Base documentation, which says you can re-schedule your upgrade.
Open Source

Apple Releases First Preview of Swift 3.0 (macrumors.com) 227

DaGoatSpanka quotes a report from MacRumors: Apple yesterday released the first preview build of Swift 3.0, a major update to Apple's open source Swift programming language. Swift 3.0's official release is expected to come in late 2016 after proposed changes are finalized. The Swift 3.0 preview can be downloaded from the official Swift website. There are versions of Swift 3.0 available for Xcode 7.2, Ubuntu 14.04, and Ubuntu 15.10. [Swift 3.0 is not source compatible with Swift 2.2 as it introduces source-breaking changes, but going forward, the goal is to make Swift 3.0 source compatible with future Swift language updates.] Swift 3.0 will likely be shown at Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Microsoft

Windows Zero-Day Affecting All OS Versions On Sale For $90,000 (softpedia.com) 187

An anonymous reader writes: "A hacker going by the handle BuggiCorp is selling a zero-day vulnerability affecting all Windows OS versions that can allow an attacker to elevate privileges for software processes to the highest level available in Windows, known as SYSTEM," writes Softpedia. The zero-day is up for sale on a Russian underground hacking forum, and is currently available for $90,000 -- after it was initially up for $95,000. The hacker is saying he'll sell the zero-day to one person only, who'll receive its source code and a working demo. Two videos are available, one showing the hacker exploit Windows 10 with the May 2016 security patch, and another one bypassing all EMET features. While security experts think the zero-day may be overpriced, they think the hacker will find a buyer regardless.

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