computing

iFixit finds dust covers in latest MacBook Pro keyboard

Apple released a refreshed MacBook Pro this week and top among the new features is a tweaked keyboard. Apple says its quieter than the last version and in our tests, we agree. But iFixit found something else: thin, silicone barriers that could improve the keyboard’s reliability. This is big news. Users have long reported the butterfly switch keyboard found in MacBook Pros were less reliable than past models. There are countless reports of dust and lint and crumbs causing keys to stick or fail. Personally, I have not had any issues, but many at TechCrunch have. To date Apple has yet to issue a recall for the keyboard.. iFixit found a thin layer of rubberized material covering the new butterfly mechanism. The repair outlet also points to an Apple patent for this exact technology that’s desig...

Sales of PCs just grew for the first time in six years

Don’t look now, but the PC might not be dead. According to Gartner, collector of marketshare and industry metrics, worldwide shipments of personal computers just experienced the first year-over-year growth since 2012. Shipments totaled 62.1 million units, which is a 1.4 percent increase from the same time period in 2017. The report states “experienced some growth compared with a year ago” but goes on to caution declaring the PC industry as in recovery just yet. The top five PC vendors all experienced growth with Lenovo seeing the largest gains of 10.5% — though that could be from Lenovo completing a joint venture with Fujitsu. HP grew 6.1%, Dell 9.5%, Apple 3% and Acer 3.1%. All good signs for an industry long thought stagnate. This report excludes Chromebooks from its data. PC vendors exp...

China’s largest music streaming business is planning a US IPO

Fresh from Spotify’s unique direct listing in the U.S., another huge streaming service is about to follow suit and go public in America. Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) has nothing like the global profile of Spotify, but China’s top streaming service is heading for the U.S. public markets according to a filing made this weekend by parent company Tencent, the $500 billion Chinese internet giant which plans to spin the music business out. At this point, specific financial details around the listing aren’t being released, but past reports have suggested that it could raise as much as $1 billion and give TME a valuation of $30 billion. That would be quite a jump from its most recent $12 billion valuation and certainly not guaranteed given that others from China, including Xiaomi, has fallen ...

Apple’s Shortcuts will flip the switch on Siri’s potential

Matthew Cassinelli Contributor Matthew Cassinelli is a former member of the Workflow team and works as an independent writer and consultant. He previously worked as a data analyst for VaynerMedia. At WWDC, Apple pitched Shortcuts as a way to ”take advantage of the power of apps” and ”expose quick actions to Siri.” These will be suggested by the OS, can be given unique voice commands, and will even be customizable with a dedicated Shortcuts app. But since this new feature won’t let Siri interpret everything, many have been lamenting that Siri didn’t get much better — and is still lacking compared to Google Assistant or Amazon Echo. But to ignore Shortcuts would be missing out on the bigger picture. Apple’s strengths have always been the device ecosystem and the apps that run on them. With S...

The future of Ethereum looks bright

In what amounted to one of the most far-reaching and interesting conversations at TC Sessions in Zug, Ethereum masterminds Vitalik Buterin, Justin Drake, and Karl Floersch spoke openly – and often candidly – about a bright future for Ethereum scaling and, more interestingly, their way to build teams that work. “There’s definitely changes that we could have made into the protocol,” said Buterin when asked whether or not he would have changed anything if he could start Ethereum again. But, he said, “there are ways in which that the problem is fundamentally hard.” In other words, growth was the only option. “The demand for using public blockchains is high and we need to up the stability in order the meet that demand,” he said. Floersch discussed the problems associated with Ethereum in the co...

The UDOO BOLT is a powerful computer on a tiny board

When we last met UDOO the team was building a powerful Raspberry Pi-based DIY board with a bunch of impressive features including more ports and a better processor. Now the team behind the first units has released the UDOO BOLT, a DIY board that can run “AAA games” thanks to a built-in AMD Ryzen Embedded V1202B 3.2 GHz SoC processor and a Radeon Vega 3 graphics card. The system is also Arduino compatible so you can connect it to your robotics and other electronics projects. The BOLT, when outfitted with a chunk of RAM, is, according to the creators, “almost twice as powerful as a MacBook Pro 13-inch equipped with an Intel i5 and three times more powerful than a Mac Mini.” Because it is nearly a fully-fledged computer you can stick it into a case and treat it like a mini-workstation with a ...

This smart contract scanner will ensure your token is tip-top

A group of researchers at ETH Zurich have created an Ethereum smart contract scanner that will check your smart contracts for bugs, exploits, or potential problems. The researchers, Dr. Petar Tsankov, Dr. Hubert Ritzdorf, Prof. Martin Vechev, and Dr. Arthur Gervais, all have extensive experience in system security and they are working on improving the blockchain space one smart contract at a time. The team recently incorporated as a new company, ChainSecurity, and they are released products to help programmers and ICO builders understand and launch their tokens. “The main technical challenge in building an effective security scanner for smart contracts is finding a way to explore all behaviors of the contact, which can even exceed the number of atoms in the universe. Existing automated sec...

Questions about Apple’s new Maps, answered

Earlier today we revealed that Apple was re-building maps from the ground up. These are some questions from readers that came up when we went live. You can ask more questions here and I’ll try to add them. What part of Maps will be new? The actual map. Apple is building them from scratch, with its own data rather than relying on external partners. What does that mean in terms of what I’ll see? New foliage markers, showing you where ground cover like grass and trees exists more accurately. Pools, parking lots, exact building shapes, sports areas like baseball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts and pedestrian pathways that are commonly walked but previously unmapped. There are also some new features like the ability to determine where the entrances are to buildings based on maps data. Wi...

Big tech companies are looking at Hollywood as the next stage in their play for the cloud

This week, both Microsoft and Google made moves to woo Hollywood to their cloud computing platforms in the latest act of the unfolding drama over who will win the multi-billion dollar business of the entertainment industry as it moves to the cloud. Google raised the curtain with a splashy announcement that they’d be setting up their fifth cloud region in the U.S. in Los Angeles. Keeping the focus squarely on tools for artists and designers the company talked up its tools like Zync Render, which Google acquired back in 2014, and Anvato, a video streaming and monetization platform it acquired in 2016. While Google just launched its LA hub, Microsoft has operated a cloud region in Southern California for a while, and started wooing Hollywood last year at the National Association of Broadcaste...

Security, privacy experts weigh in on the ICE doxxing

In what appears to be the latest salvo in a new, wired form of protest, developer Sam Lavigne posted code that scrapes LinkedIn to find Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee accounts. His code, which basically a Python-based tool that scans LinkedIn for keywords, is gone from Github and Gitlab and Medium took down his original post. The CSV of the data is still available here and here and WikiLeaks has posted a mirror. “I find it helpful to remember that as much as internet companies use data to spy on and exploit their users, we can at times reverse the story, and leverage those very same online platforms as a means to investigate or even undermine entrenched power structures. It’s a strange side effect of our reliance on private companies and semi-public platforms to mediate nearl...

Inside Atari’s rise and fall

Jamie Lendino Contributor By the first few months of 1982, it had become more common to see electronics stores, toy stores, and discount variety stops selling 2600 games. This was before Electronics Boutique, Software Etc., and later, GameStop . Mostly you bought games at stores that sold other electronic products, like Sears or Consumer Distributors. Toys ’R’ Us was a big seller of 2600 games. To buy one, you had to get a piece of paper from the Atari aisle, bring it to the cashier, pay for it, and then wait at a pickup window behind the cash register lanes. Everyone had a favorite store in their childhood; here’s a story about one of mine. A popular “destination” in south Brooklyn is Kings Plaza, a giant (for Brooklyn) two-story indoor mall with about 100 stores. My mother and grandmothe...

Google rolls out Messages on the web for Android users

Messages, Google’s more recent focus for its scattered messaging efforts following its decision to “pause” work on Allo, is now available for web users. The company announced that it would begin rolling out Messages for web starting today, with the full rollout completing over the next week. The feature, along with others including GIF search, smart replies, and more, is part of an updated messaging experience for Android users that aims to be Google’s response to iMessage. The company earlier this year moved its Allo team to work on Android Messages, Google’s app that utilizes the RCS messaging standard. The standard, adopted by numerous mobile operators worldwide, offers more feature parity with iMessage, thanks to its support for things like read receipts, typing indicators, high-res ph...

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