Latest Technology News

Tests show how much Meltdown fixes will hit Linux system performance

Now that the initial shock about the Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities has died down, the focus is very much on getting the problems sorted. As has been noted already, there has been concern about the impact on performance that the bug fixes will bring.

Intel has been eager to downplay any suggestion of major slowdown, but the exact performance hit will vary from system to system depending on the tasks being performed. Brendan Gregg -- a Netflix engineer whose work involves large scale cloud computing performance -- has conducted some tests into the impact patches will have on Linux systems, concluding that "patches that workaround Meltdown introduce the largest kernel performance regressions I've ever seen."

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Government websites in US, UK and Australia hacked to run secret cryptocurrency miner

Monero logo

Thousands of government websites around the world have been hijacked to mine the cryptocurrency Monero. A commonly-used accessibility script was hacked to inject the Coinhive miner into official sites in the US, UK and Australia. One security researcher described it as the biggest attack of its type that he'd seen.

In the UK, websites for the NHS and Information Commissioner's Office were affected; in the US, the United States Courts' site was hit; in Australia, government sites including that of the Victorian parliament were hit by the cryptojacking code. What all of the sites had in common was the fact that they included the text-to-speech accessibility script Browsealoud from Texthelp.

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Kodi 18 'Leia' development coming along swimmingly

Kodi is excellent software. I mean, an open source and cross-platform media center -- what's not to love? Hell, it can even be used to emulate classic video games! And even though I don't do it, I know it is popular with the piracy crowd, thanks to easy-to-install add-ons that allow free streaming of paid content. I'm not judging -- I know many of y'all are hurting financially, so do what you've got to. I prefer to just watch movies when they come on TBS, TNT, and the like, but I digress.

The next version of Kodi is called "Leia," and it is currently under development. With that said, you can run pre-release versions now with great success. If you are waiting for an official "stable" version of Kodi 18, however, you are probably wondering how the development is going. Well, according to a new blog post from the developers, everything is coming along swimmingly. In fact, they have shared some details and statistics about version 18. Some particularly interesting aspects? Kodi 18 will get Google Assistant support for Android and the ability to handle 8K video.

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Apple videos show how to get the most from its HomePod speaker

Apple HomePod touch controls

The launch of the Apple HomePod was delayed last year, but the iPhone-maker's smart speaker was finally released a couple of days ago. Reviews are -- generally speaking -- positive, but early adopters have a few quibbles.

Whether you're thinking about jumping on the bandwagon, you already have a HomePod, or you just want to know more about them, Apple has released a series of videos that serve as a handy combination of tutorials and an introduction to its latest hardware.

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Xiaomi deletes MIUI vs Android One Twitter poll after the voting didn't go its way

Xiaomi logo

Which is better -- the MIUI skin, or Android One? This is what Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi decided to ask on Twitter, and the results were... interesting.

Presumably the company was rather hoping that Twitter users would vote for its own MIUI which it could then rub in Google's face -- but the poll actually went against Xiaomi. Rather than leave the results of the vote up for anyone to see, the company decided to simply delete it and pretend it never happened.

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Hate the Snapchat redesign? Here's how to get back the old look

Snapchat on iPhone

Change is great, but it is not always well-received. Take the latest redesign of Snapchat, for instance -- the outpouring of hatred for the new look has been incredible.

Users are pleading Snapchat to revert to the old design, complaining that the algorithm-powered interface makes things impossible to find. Of course, the company is extremely unlikely to change back to the old look, but if you're an iPhone user, there are steps you can take to get the old app back. Wondering how to get old Snapchat back? Read on!

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Apple HomePod: 'wow' but 'uh-oh'

HomePod arrived yesterday at 9:40 a.m. PST; thank-you UPS for prompt delivery of my preorder. My initial reaction: Wow and uh-oh. The wow harkens back to the original iPod, which Apple released in October 2001. The company's design ethic treated the overall experience as the user interface: Attach FireWire cable to Mac and device, music syncs. iTunes manages music on the Mac; for iPod, a simple scroll-wheel navigates tracks displayed on a small screen. The uncomplicated and understated approach defied the UX of every other MP3 sold by all other manufacturers.

HomePod is a defining, roots-return that's well-deserving of the portion of name in common with its forebear; both share in common emphasis on music listening as primary benefit.

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Google Trips will help plan your travel with the minimum of hassle

We’re not sure about you, but just planning your next vacation seems to take as long as the vacation itself. You want to make sure you visit the best places, eat at recommended restaurants and make the most of the destination.

It’s hard to find a comprehensive app which contains everything you might need to plan your route, timeline and distances from your hotel. If you’re on a tight schedule, say a weekend away in a new city, it’s really hard to get this route wrong and walk long distances to get to your destination.

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VLC 3.0 'Vetinari' arrives, bringing HDR, 8K and Chromecast support

VLC

In the world of media playing software, VLC is a perennial favorite -- and with good reason. This open source tool is one of the most feature-packed players out there, and it has just received a huge and long-awaited upgrade with the release of VLC 3.0 'Vetinari'.

Many software releases are described as being major or significant, but VLC 3.0 really is a huge release -- it's a truly massive update from its predecessor. Available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebooks and Windows Phone, just about everyone can take advantage of the power of this incredible player.

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Uber and Waymo make surprise settlement over claims of stolen trade secrets

Uber on a phone sitting on a map

Uber has agreed to a settlement with Google's self-driving technology unit, Waymo, over claims that that the company stole trade secrets during the acquisition of Otto. Google's parent company, Alphabet, sued Uber a year ago, and now a payment of $245 million has been agreed.

The financial settlement to be received by Waymo includes 0.34 percent of Uber's equity based on a valuation of $72 billion. Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, expressed "regret" about the matter, and said he wanted to correct "mistakes of the past."

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India hits Google with $21 million fine for search bias

Indian flag and Google

Google is certainly no stranger to accusations of abusing its position to its own advantage, and the company has now been fined 1.36 billion rupees ($21.17 million) by India's antitrust watchdog.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google was guilty of "search bias" and had been abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising. Particular criticism was leveled at Google's promotion of its own flight search page.

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How to install and use the fantastic Kodi alternative that's gaining in popularity

Kodi is a superb, and very flexible free media center, but in the past year or so legal crackdowns, court cases, vanishing add-ons and other bad publicity have made people wary of it, and understandably so. It’s not illegal to use Kodi, but installing add-ons that let you stream copyrighted content for free could get you into trouble.

In the wake of all this bad publicity, rival streaming service Mobdro has been gaining in popularity. The app can be installed on any Android device, including phones, tablets, Amazon's Fire TV Stick, and Google's Chromecast 2.

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Apple confirms but downplays iOS source code leak

Silver iPhone 8 on box

Apple may have just released iOS 11.3 beta 2, but the attention of world turned to the iOS source code that leaked to GitHub. The iPhone maker has confirmed that code for iOS 9's iBoot had leaked, but stressed its age.

The company said that the leak does not pose a security threat to users, insisting that "the security of our products doesn't depend on the secrecy of our source code." But while Apple tries to play down the leak, there's no denying that it is highly significant and an unprecedented embarrassment.

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ADATA launches rugged HD710M Pro and HD710A Pro USB external hard drives

Do you care about your data? If yes, I hope you are backing it up. While I swear by the cloud for backups, only a fool would trust their important data to another company’s servers alone. In other words, it is smart to leverage the cloud, but you should also store your data locally. Redundancy is key, folks.

For locally stored data, I recommend external storage solutions. Why? These drives can be easily taken with you in an emergency, or physically locked in a safe if needs be. To take things further, a rugged external drive with water resistance is ideal. Today, ADATA unveils a new USB 3.1 gen 1 (USB 3.0) durable drive that meets that need.

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Best Windows 10 apps this week

Two-hundred-and-sixty-nine in a series. Welcome to this week's overview of the best apps, games and extensions released for Windows 10 on the Windows Store in the past seven days.

As always, if I missed an app or game that has been released this week that you believe is particularly good, let me know in the comments below or notify me via email.

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