Friday Tech News Roundup #28

Below are 10 tech news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

1Password bolts on a ‘pwned password’ check – Password management service 1Password has a neat new feature that lets users check whether a password they’re thinking of using has already been breached. At which point it will suggest they pick another. Techcrunch

Snips brings its privacy-focused voice assistant to cars – French startup Snips is announcing two things for its voice assistant SDK. Techcrunch

Tinder vulnerability let hackers take over accounts with just a phone number – A newly published attack let researchers take over Tinder accounts with just a user’s phone number, according to a new report by Appsecure. The Verge

Google Assistant will soon detect what language you’re speaking in – Google Assistant is getting some important language upgrades this year. The Verge

Apple’s AirPower said to be released next month, pricing info still unclear – Alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X last September, Apple showcased its wireless charging accessory called AirPower. The charging mat will allow Apple users to charge their iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch on the same surface. At the time, Apple teased a 2018 debut, and now it looks like we’re inching closer to that release…. 9to5Mac

New AirPods reportedly coming this year with ‘Hey Siri’ support, water resistant model in development – Apple is working on a new version of the AirPods truly wireless earbuds for release later this year, featuring a new wireless chip and support for ‘Hey Siri’ activation, according to a report from Bloomberg today. 9to5Mac

Nvidia is creating surveillance cameras with built-in face recognition. Uh, great? – Nvidia has partnered with AI developer AnyVision to create facial recognition technology for “smart cities” around the world. Mashable

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre – The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. HPCWire

Windows 10 updates could be installed much more quickly in the future
Microsoft is working to make the major updates for Windows 10 more streamlined, so that these currently twice-yearly upgrades don’t take nearly as long to install and configure. Techradar

Tim Cook Says Apple is Always Focused on ‘Products and People’ Over Wall Street Expectations – Apple’s CEO primarily reflected on the iPhone maker’s culture and approach that has led to products such as the iPhone X, Apple Watch, AirPods, and HomePod, and as to be expected, he talked up the company he runs. Macrumors

Friday Tech News Roundup #27

Below are 10 tech news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

As Stripe backs away from crypto payments, Coinbase offers a new solution for e-commerce – Popular payment enabler Stripe announced plans to end support for bitcoin last month, but crypto exchange Coinbase is stepping into the gap after it released a new option for online merchants. Techcrunch

Apple and Android are destroying the Swiss Watch industry – In Q4 2017 – essentially during the last holiday season – market research firm Canalys found that more people bought Apple watches than Swiss watches. Two million more, to be exact. Brian Heater has more data but this news is quite problematic for the folks eating Coquilles St-Jacques on the slopes of the Jura mountains.Techcrunch

Microsoft’s next Windows 10 update will include high-performance mode – Microsoft is adding a new enhanced power mode to Windows 10 Pro for users who need to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their computer. Mashable

Facebook’s new slogan: ‘If you think we’re not good for your business, leave’ – Facebook is famous for the mantra “move fast and break things.” But these days, the tech giant is all about time well spent, and with that comes a new tagline for everyone to follow: If you don’t like us, leave. Mashable

Intel’s new graphics drivers automatically optimize game settings – Intel is introducing a new feature for its processors with integrated graphics, allowing games to be automatically optimized on systems. The Verge

Apple says new apps must support the iPhone X Super Retina display – Today, Apple informed developers that all new apps that are submitted to the App Store must support the iPhone X’s Super Retina display, starting this April, reports 9to5Mac. The Verge

Facebook using 2FA cell numbers for spam, replies get posted to the platform – Facebook is reportedly spamming some users by text, using a cell number they provided only for use in two-factor authentication. 9to5Mac

Receiving an Indian character crashes Messages and other apps in iOS 11 [U: Mac & Watch too] – There have been a number of cases where sending a particular message to an iOS device causes the Messages app to crash, leaving users unable to re-open it – and a new one has emerged in iOS 11. 9to5Mac

Researchers discover two new Spectre and Meltdown variants – Spectre and Meltdown are two serious, recently discovered security flaws tied to CPU hardware. Techspot

MIT’s new chip makes neural networks practical for battery-powered devices – Researchers at MIT have developed a chip capable of processing neural network computations three to seven times faster than earlier iterations. Techspot

Daily Journal – Aug 4, 2017

This is my 120th journal.

I woke up this morning at around 0730hrs feeling very groggy. Didn’t really want to get up for the day, I went back to sleep. I woke up again at around 0900hrs and I still don’t feel ready to get up, so back to sleep I went.

I finally couldn’t sleep anymore and was wide awake at around 1000hrs. Noticed that my mom wasn’t at home. I went and finished my morning routine. Then I took an omeprazole pill for my erosive gastritis before I ate my breakfast of instant oatmeal and two slices of bread with tuna spread half an hour later. Then I went and lazed on my bed and used my phone for a bit before I went for a quick shower at around 1110hrs.

My mom came back with my brunch at around 1115hrs and asked me if I wanted to eat. I told her that I would bring it to work instead. Got out of the shower and prepared the things I need for work, took my packed brunch, and out of the house I went. I also took 10 ml of magnesium triplicate as I was feeling my gut rumbling, which simply meant that the acid was attacking my stomach wall.

I reached the client’s office at around 1215hrs after getting StarBucks. Yeah, I know coffee is a bad choice of drink for people with gastritis but then I can’t do without black coffee.

I ate my food first and chatted with one of the staff there. Got my MacBook out and started browsing the net, reading news article and checking my twitter. Before I knew it, it was close to 1420hrs and I got started to do some work. Yeah, I wasn’t feeling the mood to do work. The manager came back from her gym session at around 1430hrs and I clarified with her on some stuff. Then I went to do more coding before I surf the net again and chit chat.

Continued to do some more work at around 1600hrs and lasted until 1730hrs before I decided to call it a day. I left the client office at around 1830hrs, used the washroom and off I went.

At 1840hrs, the station at Raffles Place was still surprisingly crowded but when I boarded the west bound train of the east-west line, was genuinely surprised to see a decently empty train.

On the journey back, I played Plague Inc. on my phone. Yes, I actually spent S$4.50 buying the game from the app store. Other than Cities: Skylines, Plague Inc. is one of simulation games that I do enjoy playing. Admittedly, I had a hard time with the bioweapon strain. I couldn’t infect enough people before the cure is completed and deployed. If anyone go any suggestion, let me know down in the comments below.

Upon reaching home, I showered and had home-cooked Lor Mee for dinner. While eating, I watched episode 8 of the Planet of the Apps.

I also tried to do some research as to why my Java application is encountering an issue where getting a SQL connection is so slow. I noticed it was the case ever since I upgraded my Mac OS to Sierra 10.12.6 with VirtualBox 5.1.22 with Windows 10 guest. It was still the same when I upgraded to Virtualbox 5.1.26 with Windows 10 guest patched with the Creators Update. If anyone got any idea why please also let me know down in the comments below. I’m very close to actually spending the money to get a Intel NUC just to host the MS SQL Server 2014.

For the rest of the night, I think I will try to do some more work on my client’s application. If I can, I will also prepare another entry for my blog focusing on technology news.

Now, here is a video about building a super compact gaming PC, which is something that I’m considering of doing to fulfill my desire to do minimalist high-end gaming.

Here I conclude my journal for today.

Thoughts about Microsoft Build 2017

Well, I’m late to the party. Other news sites, bloggers, and vloggers have all covered it. They have their own thoughts about it. I’m going to do my own take on it, on only features that I’m interested in

For those who don’t already know, Microsoft held an event in Seattle between May 10 to 12, 2017 that introduced to the world a whole bunch of new things for Windows 10 that we all should be excited about — by that I mean techies.

To summarize, during the event, Microsoft pointed out several trends that’s going on that most of us already know: the rise of IOT devices, Artificial Intelligence, Serverless Architecture. They also talked about what they are doing regarding those trends. They are digging in deeper, delivering better solutions or services that customers need.

I’m more interested in their new Fluent Design. User experience and graphics is important to me (though I can’t really draw very well). Microsoft has attempted over the past decade to deliver a nice interface. They introduced Aero with Windows Vista, which was a massive flop. It was slow and sluggish. I’ve personally used it and don’t really like it. Then came Windows 7 and they improved Aero. It was much snappier and still look great.

Then came Windows 8 where they introduced what was known then as Metro design, subsequently known as Modern UI and then Microsoft Design Language. I personally liked it more than the pseudo-3D of Aero in Windows 7 because it is simplistic and minimalistic. It was improved Windows 8.1 and then in Windows 10.

However, the biggest gripe about Microsoft’s Windows was that the user interface isn’t consistent. There are some glaring defects that any good user interface designer should pick up on and fix it. Then, there is the fact that there are thousands if not millions of applications that runs on it. Many of which are legacy application and their user interface hasn’t been updated in ages. On the other hand, the web user interfaces have gotten so much better though every webpage is starting to look like each other due to the extensive use of common frameworks like bootstrap.

With Fluent Design, Microsoft aim to make Windows look great. As a design language, there are five main features:
1. Light
2. Depth
3. Motion
4. Material
5. Scale

You can read more about the Fluent Design System here.

When you combine all five of them properly in your application, the experience the user get will be so much better, richer and immerse them. This design language is in part, I believe due to the increase use and popularity of mixed-reality devices.

As someone who has been using Apple for more than year and already buy into the ecosystem, I’m somewhat excited to see how future applications made for Microsoft Windows will look like and how it will affect the way we as users interact with our devices. My concern was that, there is always the issue where the third-party developers do not ensure their app is consistent with the overall look and feel of the Windows running on the user’s computer.

Right now, the Fluent Design System is implemented in a somewhat beta form with the insiders build of Windows 10. If you are interested, you can download that and try it. Until it is released fully and used by many of the applications in Windows, I will stick with the experience I’m getting from Apple’s ecosystem.