[H] Enthusiast Archives: December 2016 Archive Listing

Saturday December 31, 2016

[H]appy New Year!

Happy New Year! Hopefully all of you will have a great time celebrating tonight and, with any luck, you'll have the day off tomorrow to recuperate watching a bowl game or the parade. For those of you stuck at work on the 1st, we'll be here rounding-up a bit of tech news for you to help pass the time. As always, we appreciate you spending the new year (and every year) with us. Happy New Year!

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Winners For First Steam Awards Revealed

Did any of you guys even vote? While the categories tried to be new and creative, the winners are largely what you’d expect.

…it turns out that that Steam users really like Valve games. Also Grand Theft Auto V. Of course, not all of Valve’s games managed to win. Dota 2 lost to Dark Souls III in the "Love/Hate" category, and Team Fortress 2 was passed over in favor of Skyrim for games that have stood the "Test of Time." Scanning over the data for some of the most active games on Steam reveals a list not entirely dissimilar from the one above, except with games like Rocket League and Football Manager 2017 conspicuously absent.

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Samsung Will Launch Wireless In-Ear Headphones With The Galaxy S8

This isn’t difficult to believe, as the company already has a foundation there with their Gear IconX. It’s funny to see people accuse them of copying Apple’s AirPods, when Samsung had their own version out since June.

Samsung will launch new wireless in-ear headphones alongside the Galaxy S8. We’re not sure whether they would be bundled along with the smartphone or sold separately, but Samsung is surely looking to put out a product that competes with Apple’s AirPods. Whether or not these new headphones feature Harman audio remains to be seen. We wish that Samsung sticks with a 3.5mm headphone jack for the Galaxy S8. We reviewed the Gear IconX, Samsung’s first completely wireless headphones, and found that it was a great concept but nowhere near an ideal solution to replace wired headphones.

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Amazon Alexa May Be A Witness To Murder

Authorities have forced Amazon to release data from an Echo device that may provide more insight and potential evidence regarding a murder in Arkansas. While the company complied, it isn’t known yet whether anything relevant was obtained, with the case not having gone to trial yet. But what is more interesting is how this could provide new information on how Amazon’s devices truly intercept and store audio.

Bentonville Police investigators determined that Collins had died after a fight, while being strangled and held underwater—and that Bates was the only person at the scene at the time. Now investigators have reportedly served a search warrant to Amazon in hopes of getting testimony from a possible witness: the Amazon Echo that was streaming music near the hot tub when they arrived at the scene. The police were immediately suspicious when they found that the water of the hot tub was tinted red and that Collins had injuries suggesting a struggle—including cuts on an eyelid, a bloodied nose, and swollen lips. There were signs of blood on the sides of the hot tub and on the patio around it and evidence that the tub and the patio had been hosed down to remove the blood.

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New Tool Downloads Any Netflix Video Instantly

Gee, wonder what Netflix thinks about this? The big thing, I think, is that it actually lets you convert the downloaded files and keep them indefinitely.

…it is the first Windows application that allows people to download Netflix videos to their computers through an easy-to-use interface. After logging in to Netflix, users simply enter the video URL and ‘Free Netflix Downloader’ then downloads any video in a few minutes. The tool also offers the option to convert the output files to AVI, MP3, or a version optimized for iPhone and iPad. "This is the ONLY app in the world that can do this trick now!" DVDVideoSoft’s Alex informs TF. The software supports multiple downloads at the same time and according to the developer, it is ideal for people who have slow Internet connections, among other things.

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Android Customers Are So Committed That Exploding Note 7 Did Little To Help Apple

Well, it’s not like the Note 7 was the only Android phone you could buy. Why would anyone jump to an entirely different ecosystem just because one model was faulty?

Despite Apple's continued commanding lead in holiday sales of smartphones and tablets, however, the numbers suggested Apple's share was lower and Samsung's was slightly higher from last year. Attempting to explain the trends shown in the data, NPD analyst Stephen Baker told The Wall Street Journal he believes that Android loyalists are committed, and even dangerous exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7 were not enough to push significant numbers of customers over to the iPhone. "Most of those who bought or wanted to buy a Note 7 opted for a different high-end Galaxy phone," Baker said.

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More Mysterious Radio Signals Have Been Detected Coming From Outside Our Galaxy

We have been picking up multiple radio signals that have been coming from the same location in space. I don’t know why scientists are wasting time coming up with hypotheses when it’s obviously aliens.

Currently, the leading hypothesis for the source of the Milky Way's FRB is the cataclysmic collision of two neutron stars, which forms a black hole. The idea is that as this collision happens, huge amounts of short-lived radio energy are blasted out into space. But the repeating nature of these distant signals, all coming from the same place, suggest that can't be the case - at least for these particular FRB. Instead, the 17 radio bursts detected from FRB 121102 indicate that something less dramatic is going on - the most likely hypothesis at the moment for these outer-galactic FRB is that they're coming from an exotic object such as a young neutron star, that's rotating with enough power to regularly emit the extremely bright pulses.

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Foxconn Wants To Replace Nearly Every Human With Robots

It isn’t any kind of surprise, as this is basically every production factory’s dream. What is interesting is that the company is already close to the goal, with many of its factories having fully automated processes with minimal human workers. A Foxconn manager notes that humans can still be pretty useful because they have the flexibility to quickly switch from one task to another, however.

Foxconn Electronics is automating production at its factories in China in three phases, aiming to fully automate entire factories eventually, according to general manager Dai Jia-peng for Foxconn's Automation Technology Development Committee. In the first phase, Foxconn aims to set up individual automated work stations for work that workers are unwilling to do or is dangerous, Dai said. Entire production lines will be automated to decrease the number of robots used during the second phase, Dai noted. In the third phase, entire factories will be automated with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing and inspection processes, Dai indicated.

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Russian Operation Hacked A Vermont Utility, Showing Risk To U.S. Electrical Grid Security

Malware code associated with "Grizzly Steppe," a Russian hacking operation, was found at electric utility Burlington Electric, which serves nearly 20,000 customers in Vermont. The code was found on a laptop that was not connected to their grid systems.

Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities. …Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said he was briefed on the attempts to penetrate the electric grid by Vermont State Police on Friday evening. "This is beyond hackers having electronic joy rides — this is now about trying to access utilities to potentially manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter," Leahy said in a statement. "That is a direct threat to Vermont and we do not take it lightly."

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Microsoft Bringing New "Game Mode" To Windows 10 For Enhanced PC Gaming Experience

Games may run better than ever in an upcoming version of Windows 10, which will reportedly come with a mode that will allocate resources to improve gaming performance. I bet the catch is that it will only work for games launched from the Windows Store.

Microsoft is working on a brand new "Game Mode" feature for Windows 10 that will enhance the PC gaming experience by minimizing resources used by running apps to almost nothing and allocating freed up resources to the game, making it run faster, better and smoother overall. …Our own sources have said this feature works similarly to how Xbox One handles running a game. Xbox OS, when a game is launched, will allocate resources to make sure the game is running the best it possibly can. Up until now, Windows hasn't had a built-in option for this that benefits games directly, but with the Creators Update that will be changing.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 5 Could Arrive Before March, May Have 4K Display

You are in luck if you are itching to upgrade your Surface Pro 4, as its successor is due out within months. One of its major selling points may be an Ultra HD display, although I’m not a fan of that decision, with it being a smallish device that should have just kept resolution the same for better performance.

Pegatron will be manufacturing the device. Pegatron is similar to the more infamous Foxconn and they've become the preferred manufacturer for a number of other products like the iPhone. The report also says that the Microsoft Surface Pro 5 will feature an ultra-HD (3840 × 2160p) display which is a vast improvement over the Surface Pro 4's 2736 x 1824p display. This change will see an increase in PPI from 267 to 358 representing a 34% improvement. We may also see a magnetic charging stylus on this generation of the Surface Pro. The rumor further indicates that the launch date for the Surface Pro 5 will be in the first quarter of 2017, which could be as late as March.

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Friday December 30, 2016

Consumer Reports Stands By MacBook Pro Battery Test Findings

Consumer Reports is standing by its initial findings that caused the agency to not recommend the MacBook Pro due to battery concerns. The agency said that it is confident in its results and won't be rerunning its tests.

In this case, we don’t believe re-running the tests are warranted for several reasons. First, as we point out in our original article, experiencing very high battery life on MacBooks is not unusual for us – in fact we had a model in our comparative tests that got 19 hours. Second, we confirmed our brightness with three different meters, so we feel confident in our findings using this equipment. Finally, we monitor our tests very closely. There is an entry logged every minute, so we know from these entries that the app worked correctly.

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