China

Chinese Giant Huawei Gets Serious About PC Business, Announces Plans For Global Expansion (reuters.com) 51

Speaking of new laptops, Chinese conglomerate Huawei plans a global expansion into computers, it said on Tuesday, posing a fresh challenge to established PC players in a market that has suffered two years of falling sales volumes and pressure on margins. From a report: At a news conference in Berlin, the Shenzhen-based company introduced its first line-up of three personal computer models, including a 15.6-inch screen notebook, a 2-in-1 tablet and notebook hybrid and an ultra slim, metallic 13-inch notebook. Initially, Huawei plans to target the premium-priced consumer market, competing with Lenovo, HP and Dell, which together sell more than 50 percent of all PCs. To a lesser extent, it will also go up against Apple's high-end, but shrinking, Mac computer business. Huawei's Matebook X is a fanless notebook with splash-proof screen and combined fingerprint sign-on and power button, priced between 1,399 and 1,699 euros ($1,570-$1,900). Its Matebook E 2-in-1 hybrid will run from 999 to 1,299 euros while the Matebook D with 15.6-inch display is priced at 799 to 999 euros, it said. Huawei said it aims to offer the new PCs in 12 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East in early June.
Networking

Netgear Adds Support For "Collecting Analytics Data" To Popular R7000 Router 109

An anonymous reader writes: Netgear's latest firmware update for the R7000 includes new support for collecting analytics data. The update release notes include this caution:

NOTE:It is strongly recommended that after the firmware is updated to this version, log back in to the router s web GUI and configure the settings for this feature.

An article on Netgear's KB states updated last week that Netgear collects information including IP addresses, MAC, certain WiFi information, and information about connected devices.

Desktops (Apple)

App Maker's Code Stolen in Malware Attack (bbc.com) 73

Mac and iOS software developer Panic has had the source code for several of its apps stolen. An anonymous reader writes: Panic founder Steven Frank said in a blog post that it happened after he downloaded an infected copy of the video encoding tool Handbrake. He said there was no sign that any customer data was accessed and that Panic's web server was not affected. Users have been warned to download Panic's apps only from its website or the Apple App Store. Panic is the creator of web editing and file transfer apps Coda and Transmit, and the video game Firewatch. On May 2, Handbrake was hacked, with the Mac version of the app on one of the site's download servers replaced by a malicious copy. In what Mr Frank called "a case of extraordinarily bad luck", he downloaded the malicious version of Handbrake and launched it "without stopping to wonder why Handbrake would need admin privileges... when it hadn't before. And that was that, my Mac was completely, entirely compromised in three seconds or less."
Chrome

Should You Leave Google Chrome For the Opera Browser? (vice.com) 303

mspohr shares a report written by Jason Koebler via Motherboard who makes the case for why you should break up with Chrome and switch to the Opera browser: Over the last few years, I have grown endlessly frustrated with Chrome's resource management, especially on MacOS. Admittedly, I open too many tabs, but I'd wager that a lot of you do, too. With Chrome, my computer crawls to complete unusability multiple times a day. After one too many times of having to go into Activity Monitor to find that one single Chrome tab is using several gigs of RAM, I decided enough was enough. I switched to Opera, a browser I had previously thought was only for contrarians. This, after previous dalliances with Safari and Firefox left me frustrated. Because Opera is also based on Blink, I almost never run into a website, plugin, script, or video that doesn't work flawlessly on it. In fact, Opera works almost exactly like Chrome, except without the resource hogging that makes me want to throw my computer against a brick wall. This is exactly the point, according to Opera spokesperson Jan Standal: "What we're doing is an optimized version of Chrome," he said. "Web developers optimize most for the browser with the biggest market share, which happens to be Chrome. We benefit from the work of that optimization."

Slashdot reader mspohr adds: "I should note that this has also been my experience. I have a 2010 MacBook, which I was ready to trash since it had become essentially useless, coming to a grinding halt daily. I tried Opera and it's like I have a new computer. I never get the spinning wheel of death. (Also, the built-in ad blocker and VPN are nice.)" What has been your experience with Google Chrome and/or Opera? Do you prefer one over the other?

Desktops (Apple)

Apple Releases macOS 10.12.5, iOS 10.3.2, watchOS 3.2.2, tvOS 10.2.1 (macworld.com) 45

On Monday, Apple released point updates to all its operating systems. Starting with the desktop, the macOS 10.12.5 update for Sierra is the fifth major update since the operating system was released in September of 2016. The iPhone-maker also released the iOS 10.3.2 for iPhones, iPads and iPods to the public. The update for Macs offers a range of bug fixes, improvements to Night Shift, and a long list of security patches. The iOS 10.3.2 update offers "bug fixes and improves the security." More details -- including what's new in tvOS, and watchOS -- here.
Security

HandBrake Urges Mac Users To Verify Recent Download, Says Mirror Server Was Compromised (handbrake.fr) 22

HandBrake team, writing on their forum: Anyone who has downloaded HandBrake on Mac between [02/May/2017 14:30 UTC] and [06/May/2017 11:00 UTC] needs to verify the SHA1 / 256 sum of the file before running it. Anyone who has installed HandBrake for Mac needs to verify their system is not infected with a Trojan. You have 50/50 chance if you've downloaded HandBrake during this period. If you see a process called "Activity_agent" in the OSX Activity Monitor application. You are infected. HandBrake is a popular, open-source video conversion tool. The team hasn't issued any advisory for Windows users.
Desktops (Apple)

Modern 'Hackintoshes' Show That Apple Should Probably Just Build a Mac Tower (arstechnica.com) 219

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report written by Andrew Cunningham via Ars Technica: Apple is working on new desktop Macs, including a ground-up redesign of the tiny-but-controversial 2013 Mac Pro. We're also due for some new iMacs, which Apple says will include some features that will make less-demanding pro users happy. But we don't know when they're coming, and the Mac Pro in particular is going to take at least a year to get here. Apple's reassurances are nice, but it's a small comfort to anyone who wants high-end processing power in a Mac right now. Apple hasn't put out a new desktop since it refreshed the iMacs in October of 2015, and the older, slower components in these computers keeps Apple out of new high-end fields like VR. This is a problem for people who prefer or need macOS, since Apple's operating system is only really designed to work on Apple's hardware. But for the truly adventurous and desperate, there's another place to turn: fake Macs built with standard PC components, popularly known as "Hackintoshes." They've been around for a long time, but the state of Apple's desktop lineup is making them feel newly relevant these days. So we spoke with people who currently rely on Hackintoshes to see how the computers are being used -- and what they'd like to see from Apple.
The Almighty Buck

Apple Cuts Affiliate Commissions on Apps and In-App Purchases (macstories.net) 81

From a report on Mac Stories: Today, Apple announced that it is reducing the commissions it pays on apps and In-App Purchases from 7 percent to 2.5 percent effective May 1st. The iTunes Affiliate Program pays a commission from Apple's portion of the sale of apps and other media when a purchase is made with a link that contains the affiliate credentials of a member of the program. Anyone can join, but the Affiliate Program is used heavily by websites that cover media sold by Apple and app developers.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Forces Recyclers To Shred All iPhones and MacBooks (vice.com) 224

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products. Apple's new moonshot plan is to make iPhones and computers entirely out of recycled materials by putting pressure on the recycling industry to innovate. But documents obtained by Motherboard using Freedom of Information requests show that Apple's current practices prevent recyclers from doing the most environmentally friendly thing they could do: Salvage phones and computers from the scrap heap. Apple rejects current industry best practices by forcing the recyclers it works with to shred iPhones and MacBooks so they cannot be repaired or reused -- instead, they are turned into tiny shards of metal and glass. "Materials are manually and mechanically disassembled and shredded into commodity-sized fractions of metals, plastics, and glass," John Yeider, Apple's recycling program manager, wrote under a heading called "Takeback Program Report" in a 2013 report to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. "All hard drives are shredded in confetti-sized pieces. The pieces are then sorted into commodities grade materials. After sorting, the materials are sold and used for production stock in new products. No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale."
Desktops (Apple)

StarCraft Is Now Free, Nearly 20 Years After Its Release (techcrunch.com) 239

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Nearly two decades after its 1998 release, StarCraft is now free. Legally! Blizzard has just released the original game -- plus the Brood War expansion -- for free for both PC and Mac. You can find it here. Up until a few weeks ago, getting the game with its expansion would've cost $10-15 bucks. The company says they've also used this opportunity to improve the game's anti-cheat system, add "improved compatibility" with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, and fix a few long lasting bugs. So why now? The company is about to release a remastered version of the game in just a few months, its graphics/audio overhauled for modern systems. Once that version hits, the original will probably look a bit ancient by comparison -- so they might as well use it to win over a few new fans, right?
Education

Apple Makes iMovie, GarageBand, and iWork Apps for Mac and iOS Free for All Users (macrumors.com) 65

Apple today updated several of its Mac and iOS apps, making them available for all Mac and iOS users for free. From a report: iMovie, Numbers, Keynote, Pages, and GarageBand for both Mac and iOS devices have been updated and are now listed in the App Store for free. Previously, all of these apps were provided for free to customers who purchased a new Mac or iOS device, but now that purchase is not required to get the software. Many Apple customers were already likely eligible to download the software at no cost if they had made a device purchase in the last few years.
Software

Internet Archive Adds Early Macintosh OS and App Emulators (macstories.net) 66

An anonymous reader writes: The Internet Archive has added a curated collection of Mac operating system and software emulators from 1984 through 1989. The Internet Archive already hosts browser-based emulators of early video games and other operating systems, but this is its first foray into Mac software. The collection includes classic applications like MacPaint, programming tools such as MacBasic, and many games including Dark Castle. Each app can be run in an in-browser emulator and is accompanied by an article that chronicles its history. It's fun to play with the apps in the collection and realize just how far apps have come since the earliest days of the Mac. It's also remarkable how many computing conventions used today were introduced during those earliest days.
Youtube

YouTube Has a Secret 'Dark Mode' (thenextweb.com) 118

It appears Google has quietly introduced a new "dark mode" for its video portal YouTube, several people are reporting. Here's how to activate it, via The Next Web:
1. Open the Chrome developer tools tab.
2. Windows users can do this by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I.
3. Mac users can do this by pressing Option + Cmd + I.
4. Select the Console tab.
5. Once in Console, paste the following text: document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=fPQ4jCL6EiE"
6. Hit enter.
7. Close the developer tools tab and refresh the page. Just a little heads-up: YouTube might look slightly different -- though still in white.
8. Click the main settings menu in the top right and find the 'Dark Mode' section.
9. Toggle 'Dark Mode' on and you're settled.

Security

McAfee: Big Spike In Mac OS Malware In 2016, Mostly From Adware Bundling (fortune.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: Security firm McAfee released a report this week that showed a big jump in 2016 regarding malware hitting the Mac operating system. The McAfee report said there were 460,000 malware instances affecting the Mac OS in the fourth quarter of 2016, an over 700% jump from the previous year during the same quarter.

McAfee's new report confirms similar research by other cybersecurity firms in recent years that show an increased prevalence of malware affecting Apple computers. Essentially, as more people buy Apple computers, there are more possibilities for malware to infect the machines. But while an over 700% surge in malware may sound frightening, it should be noted that "the big increase in Mac OS malware was due to adware bundling," the report's authors wrote.

Desktops (Apple)

The Mac Pro Is Getting a Major Do-Over (mashable.com) 240

Apple is moving away from the current, cylinder-shaped design used on its Mac Pro desktop, but that replacement will take until next year to hit shelves. From a report: "The Mac Pro, the current vintage that we introduced, we wanted to do something bold and different. In retrospect, it didn't well suit some of the people we wanted to reach," admitted Apple SVP Craig Federighi. "So many of our customers were moving to iMac that we saw a path to address to many, many more of those people," he added. "With the current generation Mac Pro, which some customers love, others may not, one of the things that's certainly clear and true about that is the team tried to do something different, something bold and we always want to encourage the Mac team that whatever products you make, that make customers happy, that we do bold work. Because the Mac's always been about that. It's been about not being conventional thinking, not me-too-stuff," said Phil Schiller. [...] While we'll have to wait until 2018 for the Mac Pro rebirth ("Want to do something great... that will take longer than this year to do," said Schiller), iMac fans can expect a significant update this year, including some new configurations designed specifically for Pro users who already fans of the all-in-one design. [...] Schiller was somewhat less emphatic when I asked if he was willing to make any "courageous" decisions about Mac Pro ports. I thought I saw a little discomfort flicker across Schiller's face as he reacted to that word and he told me that Apple wasn't making promises about ports on the Mac Pro. Port decisions, he said, are made at a product level. "Just because on one product we removed something, doesn't mean we're going to remove it elsewhere," he told me. More on this here.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Will Ship A Pro iMac Later This Year, It Won't Feature Touchscreen (buzzfeed.com) 163

Apple's expected update to its iMac line will arrive later this year with some previously unexpected additions: pro models. From a report: "We have big plans for the iMac," Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said during a recent reporter roundtable at the company's Machine Shop hardware prototyping lab. "We're going to begin making configurations of iMac specifically with the pro customer in mind." Just what those configurations will entail, Apple won't yet say. Nor will it comment on the possibility of an iMac Pro moniker for the more powerful machines in the lineup. Company executives are, however, quite happy to confirm a feature the pro iMac will not have: touchscreen. "No," Schiller said when asked if Apple would consider building such a thing. "Touch doesn't even register on the list of things pro users are interested in talking about. They're interested in things like performance and storage and expandability."
Privacy

USB Canary Sends An SMS When Someone Tinkers With Your USB Ports (bleepingcomputer.com) 40

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: A new tool released on GitHub last week can help paranoid sysadmins keep track of whenever someone plugs in or disconnects an USB-based device from high-value workstations. Called USB Canary, this tool is coded in Python and currently, works only on Linux (versions for Windows and Mac are in the works). The tool works by watching USB ports for any activity while the computer is locked, which generally means the owner has left his desk. If an USB device is plugged in or unplugged, USB Canary can perform one of two actions, or both. It can alert the owner by sending an SMS message via the Twilio API, or it can post a message in a Slack channel, which can be monitored by other co-workers. USB Canary can prove to be a very useful tool for large organizations that feature strict PC policies. For example, if you really want to enforce a "No USB drives" at work, this could be the tool for the job. Further, with modifications, it could be used for logging USB activity on air-gapped systems.
Government

CIA Tricked Antivirus Programs, Claims WikiLeaks (betanews.com) 94

Reader Mark Wilson writes: Today, WikiLeaks published the third installment of its Vault 7 CIA leaks. We've already had the Year Zero files which revealed a number of exploits for popular hardware and software, and the Dark Matter batch which focused on Mac and iPhone exploits. Now we have Marble to look at. A collection of 676 source code files, the Marble cache reveals details of the CIA's Marble Framework tool, used to hide the true source of CIA malware, and sometimes going as far as appearing to originate from countries other than the US. The source code for Marble Framework is tiny -- WikiLeaks has provided it in a zip file that's only around 0.5MB. WikiLeaks explains that the tool is used by the CIA to hide the fact that it is behind malware attacks that are unleashed on targets: "Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA. Marble does this by hiding ("obfuscating") text fragments used in CIA malware from visual inspection. This is the digital equivalent of a specialized CIA tool to place covers over the english language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before giving them to insurgents secretly backed by the CIA. Marble forms part of the CIA's anti-forensics approach and the CIA's Core Library of malware code."
IOS

Apple is Upgrading Millions of iOS Devices To a New Modern File System Today (theverge.com) 191

Apple today began rolling out iOS 10.3, the latest point update to its mobile operating system. iOS 10.3 brings with it several new features, chief among which is a new file system -- called the Apple File System (APFS). From a report: It's a file system that was originally announced at WWDC last year, and it's designed with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV in mind. Apple has been using its 31-year-old Hierarchical File System (HFS) for iOS devices so far. It was originally designed for Macs with floppy or hard disks, and not for modern mobile devices with solid state storage. Even its successor, HFS+, still doesn't address the needs of these mobile devices enough. Apple's new APFS is designed to scale across these new types of devices and take advantage of flash or SSD storage. It's also engineered with encryption as a primary feature, and even supports features like snapshots so restoring files on a Mac or even an iOS device might get a lot easier in the future.
Privacy

Some Of Hacker Group's Claims Of Having Access To 250M iCloud Accounts Aren't False (zdnet.com) 45

Earlier this week, a hacker group claimed that it had access to 250 million iCloud accounts. The hackers, who called themselves part of Turkish Crime Family group, threatened to reset passwords of all the iCloud accounts and remotely wipe those iPhones. Apple could stop them, they said, if it paid them a ransom by April 7. In a statement, Apple said, "the alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services," and that it is working with law enforcement officials to identify the hackers. Now, ZDNet reports that it obtained a set of credentials from the hacker group and was able to verify some of the claims. From the article: ZDNet obtained a set of 54 credentials from the hacker group for verification. All the 54 accounts were valid, based on a check using the site's password reset function. These accounts include "icloud.com," dating back to 2011, and legacy "me.com" and "mac.com" domains from as early as 2000. The list of credentials contained just email addresses and plain-text passwords, separated by a colon, which according to Troy Hunt, data breach expert and owner of notification site Have I Been Pwned, makes it likely that the data "could be aggregated from various sources." We started working to contact each person, one by one, to confirm their password. Most of the accounts are no longer registered with iMessage and could not be immediately reached. However, 10 people in total confirmed that their passwords were accurate, and as a result have now been changed.

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