Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

All You Need is Love…and $999

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Well, I was able to make my way through the entire Apple keynote today LIVE (via streaming video) from the new Steve Jobs Theater on the also new Apple Park spaceship-like campus.

The opening video was clever, as it showed people walking into the new theater for the first time ever. Accompanying the walk-in video was The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”

Yes, all you need is love, and $999, if you wish to purchase the new Apple X (pronounced “ten,” not “ex”) 64GB iPhone, whose new features include an A11 Bionic neural engine chip, a first-of-its-kind OLED screen, and a new Facial ID security feature that makes Touch ID obsolete and has a 1 in a million (according to Apple) chance of being hacked.

No doubt, it’s a gorgeous new smartphone, and yes, it’s being released in the 10th anniversary year of the original iPhone’s introduction. But unless you’re really excited by the novelty of the Face ID authentication or the “Super Retina Display” or the increased speeds and feeds of the A11 bionic neural networking chip, then this particular “one more thing” may just be that.

Apple also introduced the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which also come with the A11 chip, which is optimized for 3D games and Metal 2, paving the way for Apple’s coming Augmented Reality onslaught. Both the iPhone 8 devices and the X will now be charged via Qi-standards based wireless chargers, which apparently will create a new cottage industry of 3rd party opportunities for the likes of Mophie.

For me, the upside surprise came with the new Apple Watch Series 3, one which has built-in LTE and gets us closer than ever to Dick Tracy-land. In fact, the demo involved the presenter making a live Watch-to-Watch call to another Apple employee who was out on a body of water somewhere paddle boarding. Thankfully, she didn’t fall in while on camera, but the new Apple Watch working as a phone with no iPhone in sight was, well, a welcome sight. Too bad I just bought a Series 1 earlier this year!

In terms of software, I should have known better — there wasn’t much on offer for what clearly was an Apple fall hardware announcement. There were some cute new animated emojis using the Face ID tech: “animojis.” The Apple Watch includes some new heart monitoring capabilities, including the ability to monitor for atrial fibrillation (if your heart is fibrillating, put down your Apple Watch and call your doctor, FAST!).

My favorite was what looks to be a killer new AR game called “The Machines” where you can point your iPhone 8 (but what about my SE??) and shoot stuff with your friends.

And if you *were* awaiting news about the new iOS 11, Apple indicated it would be available for download starting a week from today (September 19th).

As for buying new stuff, I’ll stick with my year-old Apple iPhone SE for now — it still has a headphone jack I can actually plug stuff into, even if I do have to … first world deep sigh … plug it in as well every night to charge the thing. Oh, the horror….

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

What I’m Looking For In Today’s Apple Announcements

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In a phrase, not much.

First, I’m excited about seeing the new Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s new spaceship HQ.

Second, while I *am* interested in seeing the specs, speeds and feeds of the reported Apple X and iPhone 8 models, I’m not sure there’s anything transformative that will appear (maybe the presumed "Face ID" facial recognition will be interesting).

The new LTE-enabled Apple Watch? Well, I waited two years to buy the Apple Watch, and Apple told me it had to be tethered to my iPhone and that for my watch to work, I would have to carry my iPhone everywhere I go.

So I did. And I do!

The new Apple TV…meh. I already got one and I hardly use the thing, and I don’t think 4K support will be the kickstarter.

Which leaves us with…what?

Software.

I’m looking to see how the software changes and improves.

I’m looking to see if Siri is getting smarter and more usable.

I’m really looking to see if iOS 11 delivers on some needed improvements…a new, designed Control Center (for better shortcuts and preferred app settings)…Document scanner in Notes…Drag and drop with the iPad…Instant Markup with the Apple Pencil (through a variety of apps)…In short, I’m looking to see if the iPad Pro could actually start me down the road to using the iPad as an MBP replacement.

Other than that, I don’t expect much. : 0

Don’t get me wrong, because I am, indeed, invested heavily in the Apple ecosystem.

But in the past I’ve also bought into too much hype of these types of announcements.

So rather than drool over my screen like a fanboy ready to wait in line for the iPhone X until next February, I’m instead looking for some serious progress on the software front.

Siri, are you listening?

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

New IBM Linux-only Mainframe Delivers Breakthrough Security

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IBM has unveiled the IBM LinuxONE Emperor II, the next generation of its family of Linux-only enterprise systems, which delivers new capabilities aimed at helping organizations achieve very high levels of security and data privacy assurance while rapidly addressing unpredictable data and transaction growth.

A key feature of the new LinuxONE Emperor II, IBM Secure Service Container is an exclusive LinuxONE technology that represents a significant leap forward in data privacy and security capabilities.

Last year, more than four billion data records were lost or stolen, a 556 percent increase over 2015. Of the more than nine billion records breached during the past five years, only four percent were encrypted – or securely scrambled — leaving most of that data exposed and vulnerable to attackers.

With IBM Secure Service Container, for the first time, data can be protected against internal threats at the system level from users with elevated credentials or hackers who obtain a user’s credentials, as well as external threats.

Software developers benefit by not having to create proprietary dependencies in their code to take advantage of these advanced security capabilities. An application only needs to be put into a Docker container to be ready for Secure Service Container deployment, and the application can be managed using the Docker and Kubernetes tools that are included to make Secure Service Container environments easy to consume.

Developers and clients can learn more and apply to participate in the beta at: http://ibm.biz/sscbeta. Developers can access new technologies, open source code and documentation on containers, mainframe development and more with IBM Developer Journeys: https://developer.ibm.com/code/journey/.

The most advanced enterprise Linux platform for data

The new LinuxONE Emperor II is the world’s most advanced enterprise Linux platform, featuring the industry’s fastest microprocessor and a unique I/O architecture with up to 640 cores dedicated to I/O processing. The vertical scale, shared-everything system design allows LinuxONE Emperor II to:

  • Scale-up a single MongoDB instance to 17 TB in a single system and get 2.4x more throughput and 2.3x lower latency on LinuxONE Emperor II leveraging the additional memory available compared to LinuxONE Emperor – providing applications faster, more secure access to data while enabling greater scale at reduced complexity.
  • Provide up to 2.6x better Java performance than x86 alternatives, and integrated hardware for pause-less garbage collection, enabling mission-critical Java workloads — which require consistent high-throughput and low-latency processing — to minimize unpredictable transaction delays due to garbage collection.
  • Provide a Docker-certified infrastructure for Docker EE with integrated management and scale tested up to two million Docker containers – allowing developers to compose high-performance applications and embrace a micro-services architecture without latency or scale constraints.

Learn more about IBM LinuxONE.

Written by turbotodd

September 12, 2017 at 9:09 am

No Yuan

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First China banned initial coin offerings.

Now Chinese authorities plan to shut down domestic bitcoin exchanges, writes The Wall Street Journal, which it claims will deliver “a final blow to a once-thriving industry of commercial trading for virtual currencies.”

Apparently regulators have been investigating bitcoin and other virtual currencies since the beginning of the year, but when it became evident that Chinese investors used bitcoin as a short against the promise of a falling yuan…well, you do the math.

Bloomberg reports separately that China is home to nearly a quarter of the the world’s bitcoin trades, but that this move by the Chinese authorities will “definitely slow the development of cryptocurrencies in China.”

The move can be viewed in the larger context of a broad clampdown on financial risk as we draw closer to next month’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Bitcoin users will still be able to trade cryptocurrencies in China without exchanges after this move, but the process is likely to be slower and come with increased credit report, says Bloomberg.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2017 at 9:09 am

Posted in 2017, bitcoin, blockchain, china, crytocurrency

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Worried About Equifax Breach? Put a Security Freeze on Your Credit Files!

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After blowing my top when learning about this latest data breach at Equifax, where roughly 44 percent of Americans’ personal information — including Social Security, driver’s license, and credit card numbers were put at risk — well, I decided I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

Rather than spend a monthly fee paying one of these credit companies a fee to protect the very information they traffic in, I went one better: I put a security freeze on my credit file with each of the four major credit vendors in the U.S.: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis.

So what did this involve?

It was much easier than people might have you think, and for the full details, we have Krebs on Security to thank for the full instructions.

Here’s the bottom line:

A security credit freeze basically blocks any potential creditors from able to view or "pull" your credit file, unless you affirmatively unfreeze or thaw your file first. So, if you need to have a credit line inquiry anytime soon, this option’s not for you.

On the other hand, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired worrying about these data breaches, this is the option for you.

Depending on your state, it’s a modest fee to put a security freeze on your credit file for each of the previously mentioned vendors. (In Texas, each freeze costs $10, although for some reason Innovis was free.)

What does this freeze do?

First, ID thieves can still apply for credit in your name, but they won’t succeed in getting new lines of credit because few if any creditors will extend that credit without first being able to gauge your risk worthiness.

Also, the freeze can help protect your credit score, because as you’ve probably heard, every credit inquiry made by a creditor can negatively impact your credit score.

How do you do all this? It’s easier than it looks.

Go to each of the websites (www.experian.com, etc.) and search for "security freeze." You then should be able to find each vendor’s direct link with directions on how to impose the freeze.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft, you well know that $30-50 is a small price to pay to gain some piece of mind and to frustrate the hackers looking to benefit from your prior naivete.

Take your personal info and credit back into your own hands.

Do it, and do it now!

Written by turbotodd

September 8, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Data Breaches

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First things first. TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday).

Although if I were hanging out in Key West at the moment, I’d probably be thinking about more than just another margarita and earth-bending sunset.

Hurricane Irma has already wracked devastation across the Caribbean, hammering Antigua, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, and now passing through the Turks and Caicos, the northern coast of Cuba, and the southern Bahamas before making landfall in south Florida.

The New York Times’ characterized Irma overnight as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm with sustained winds of up to 155 miles an hour. The National Hurrican Center has the latest probable path here.

Meanwhile, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific Coast of Mexico late last night, killing at least 32 and sending people in Mexico City fleeing into the streets.

Effects of the quake were felt through the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, and on into Guetemala. Last night’s quake was said to be more powerful than the one that killed nearly 10,000 in 1985, after which construction codes were bolstered significantly.

The Mexican government issued a tsunami warning off the coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas, but neither appeared to have been impacted by waves.

And then there was the man-made disaster. Credit reporting agency Equifax announced on Thursday that hackers had gained access to company data and potentially compromised sensitive information for 143 million American consumers (~44 percent of the U.S. population!), including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and other personally-identifiable information.

The company’s press release indicated that “criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.”

As if having a web exploit endanger the personal information of about one-third of the American population weren’t bad enough, Bloomberg is reporting that three of Equifax’s senior executives sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered the security breach.

Coincidence?

If you believe that, I’ve got some credit card numbers I’ll be happy to sell you at a rock bottom price!

The hack is so gargantuan that Equifax is offering ALL U.S. consumers free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection for one year through its TrustedID Premier service.

It’s the least they can do.

Read Krebs post to learn more about the breach and its aftermath.

In the meantime, take matters into your own hands. Check all your credit card statements online to ensure no suspicious charges are starting to get racked up, and consider putting a freeze on your credit until you’re confident you’re not a victim of this “incident.”

Written by turbotodd

September 8, 2017 at 9:40 am

IBM and MIT to Pursue Joint Research in Artificial Intelligence

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IBM and MIT today announced that IBM plans to make a 10-year, $240 million investment to create the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab in partnership with MIT. The lab will carry out fundamental artificial intelligence (AI) research and seek to propel scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI.

The collaboration aims to advance AI hardware, software and algorithms related to deep learning and other areas, increase AI’s impact on industries, such as health care and cybersecurity, and explore the economic and ethical implications of AI on society. IBM’s $240 million investment in the lab will support research by IBM and MIT scientists.

The new lab will be one of the largest long-term university-industry AI collaborations to date, mobilizing the talent of more than 100 AI scientists, professors, and students to pursue joint research at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge — co-located with the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts — and on the neighboring MIT campus.

The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, Dario Gil, and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. IBM and MIT plan to issue a call for proposals to MIT researchers and IBM scientists to submit their ideas for joint research to push the boundaries in AI science and technology in several areas, including:

  • AI algorithms: Developing advanced algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning. Researchers will create AI systems that move beyond specialized tasks to tackle more complex problems, and benefit from robust, continuous learning. Researchers will invent new algorithms that can not only leverage big data when available, but also learn from limited data to augment human intelligence.
  • Physics of AI: Investigating new AI hardware materials, devices, and architectures that will support future analog computational approaches to AI model training and deployment, as well as the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning. The latter involves using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and also researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.
  • Application of AI to industries: Given its location in IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters and Kendall Square, a global hub of biomedical innovation, the lab will develop new applications of AI for professional use, including fields such as health care and cybersecurity. The collaboration will explore the use of AI in areas such as the security and privacy of medical data, personalization of healthcare, image analysis, and the optimum treatment paths for specific patients.
  • Advancing shared prosperity through AI: The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab will explore how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations, and enterprises. The lab will study the economic implications of AI and investigate how AI can improve prosperity and help individuals achieve more in their lives.

In addition to IBM’s plan to produce innovations that advance the frontiers of AI, a distinct objective of the new lab is to encourage MIT faculty and students to launch companies that will focus on commercializing AI inventions and technologies that are developed at the lab. The lab’s scientists also will publish their work, contribute to the release of open source material, and foster an adherence to the ethical application of AI.

Both MIT and IBM have been pioneers in artificial intelligence research, and the new AI lab builds on a decades-long research relationship between the two. In 2016, IBM Research announced a multi-year collaboration with MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences to advance the scientific field of machine vision, a core aspect of artificial intelligence.

The collaboration has brought together leading brain, cognitive, and computer scientists to conduct research in the field of unsupervised machine understanding of audio-visual streams of data, using insights from next-generation models of the brain to inform advances in machine vision. In addition, IBM and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have established a five-year, $50 million research collaboration on AI and Genomics.

For more information, visit MITIBMWatsonAILab.mit.edu.

Written by turbotodd

September 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

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