Microsoft is ending Windows 7 support one year from today

Today is an important date to note for Windows 7 users, because in exactly a year’s time, on January 14, 2020, all support for the operating system will cease, meaning that Microsoft will no longer deliver updates or critical security patches.

In other words, you’ve only got a year left before you need to consider moving to Windows 10 (or some manner of alternative).

Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended back in January 2015, but extended support, whereby Microsoft continues to deliver updates and fixes any vulnerabilities in the OS, runs for a further five years. So as mentioned, that means it all comes to a grinding halt in January 2020.

At that point, if holes are found in the OS which allow exploits to be leveraged by malicious types, there won’t be any patches provided, so you will continue to use the operating system at your own risk.

Of course, when it comes to businesses, they will be able to negotiate for extended support to continue – but companies will have to pay for the privilege.

Forced migration

All in all, this should mean that Windows 10 adoption will increase further next year, as many of those who have stuck with Windows 7 are forced to migrate. Unless the diehard holdouts choose an alternative path such as one of the many flavors of Linux, or simply stick with unsupported Windows 7, a choice many Windows XP users made (and still do, even to this day).

Windows 7 has remained popular in many quarters, and indeed Windows 10 only overtook the old OS this month according to one set of figures that measures desktop operating system market share.

Windows 8 is next on the chopping block, of course, and extended support for that flavor of Windows will cease come January 2023. The Microsoft Store has already stopped accepting apps for Windows 8/8.1 from developers.

Via Windows Latest

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How to integrate blockchain with legacy systems (and whether you should)

Blockchain offers enterprises a new method for transacting over a distributed, trusted network, but plugging the technology into existing databases, ERP systems and a client/partner base is no small task. And in many cases, it isn’t even needed.

While few production blockchains have been deployed, the distributed ledger technology (DLT) was still one of the most-hyped technologies of 2018. It’s not just hype; the blockchain market is expected to skyrocket in value from $708 million in 2017 to $60 billion by 2024.

Because of all the market hype, companies made a mad dash to implement DLT, lest they lose a competitive edge, according to Kevin McMahon, director of emerging technologies at Chicago-based consultancy SPR.

For many companies, however, DLT isn’t a good fit for tasks that can be just as easily handled with traditional technologies, such as relational databases. For others, the challenges associated with implementing DLT will have less to do with the technology itself and more to do with building out a network of users who can agree on governance rules.

“The technology part isn’t really all that difficult. It’s novel, the cryptography’s great and it’s got some cool features, but the real challenge is building out that network –  finding people who want to participate and want to share data amongst themselves and are committed to maintaining the infrastructure necessary,” McMahon said. “It’s about making sure their processes and workflows are able to accommodate writing additional data to a blockchain.”

blockchain survey infographic SAP

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TaoTronics TT-BH060 Bluetooth headphones review: Affordable noise cancellation, but the sound lacks sparkle

If you’re looking to screen out unwanted noise on the airplane or other loud environments so you can concentrate on the tunes, normal headphones won’t cut it—you often have to crank the volume up so loud, it becomes unpleasant (and could damage your hearing).

What you want are active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones, such as the TaoTronics TT-BH060 ($70 at Amazon). They’re super comfortable, affordable, and while not they won’t eliminate noise entirely, they do reduce the most tiring portions of the spectrum. But these aren’t the best choice if you want great sound in addition to active noise cancellation.

How active noise canceling works

If you’re not familiar with noise cancellation, here’s how it works. The headphones record ambient noise, reverse its phase, and then play that sound back along with the original noise. Waves being pulses of sound, they take each other out of the equation when similar frequencies collide going the opposite direction (the phase) given the same amplitude (volume). Indeed, pro sound consoles have phase-flip and mono-summing switches that let audio engineers check for this very phenomenon.

In active noise-canceling headphones, microphones record the ambient noise, and then the phase is inverted and added to the mix of what you’re hearing. How well it works depends on the speed and accuracy of the hardware. Nearly all noise-canceling headphones are also of a closed-back design, so they also passively reduce the amount of ambient sound that reaches your ear drums. 

Design and specs

The TT-BH060 boast an impressive physical design. They’re a closed-back model, of course, and they have very comfortably padded on both the ear cups and the headband. In that aspect, they’re better than the $100 Sony MDR-7506 (non noise canceling) that I normally use. They’re also light in weight at 7.7 ounces.

The TT-BH060 happened to fit my head and ears perfectly right out of their carrying case. This obviously won’t happen with everyone, but they are easily adjustable via the usual sliding mechanisms for each side. The cups fold up so they fit in the provided case.

The volume up/down rocker is on the bottom of the right cup, along with the Bluetooth pair/power button, ANC on/off switch, 3.5mm jack for hardwired use, and dual microphones for the noise-cancellation work. The left cup is home to another mic and the Micro-USB port for charging the battery.

61odui87k9l. sl1000 TaoTronics

The TaoTronics TT-BH060’s come nicely packaged with a carrying case and the required cables for charging and hardwired use.

TaoTronics includes both a non-data Micro-USB charging cable and a three-foot 3.5mm male-to-male analog stereo audio cable with a straight-line plug on one end and a right-angle on the other. The TT-BH060’s also support Bluetooth 5.0 with it’s advanced power savings and more reliable streaming. This of course requires a Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter at the source, although they are backward compatible with earlier versions.

Loads of Samsung Galaxy S10 information has just leaked

We’re now very close to the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10 range, but at this rate there might not be many surprises, as the phones have been heavily leaked, and today several more sources have filled in some of the gaps in our knowledge.

The bulk of today’s rumors come from Max Weinbach (a contributor to XDA Developers) on Twitter, who says among other things that the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite will come with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and the standard Galaxy S10 will have 6GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus meanwhile will apparently come in configurations with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage. He also adds that the 5G model of the Galaxy S10 Plus will have a choice of 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage.

The foldable Samsung Galaxy X, which looks to be landing at the same event, supposedly has 12GB of RAM and 512GB or 1TB of storage, though Weinbach notes that he’s not 100% sure of the folding phone’s specs.

Two lenses or three?

Weinbach also has some information on the cameras, saying that all three phones (the S10 Lite, S10 and S10 Plus) have an ultra-wide 16MP f/1.9 lens with a 123-degree field of view but no optical image stabilization (OIS).

Apparently they also have a 12MP standard lens with a variable aperture that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4. This one is said to have OIS.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus will additionally apparently have a 13MP f/2.4 telephoto lens with OIS and a 45 degree field of view. So in other words, both the S10 Lite and standard Galaxy S10 would have two lenses while the Galaxy S10 Plus would have three. Interestingly though, reliable leaker @UniverseIce slightly disagrees, saying that the standard S10 will also have three lenses.

Back to Weinbach’s claims, he says that the S10’s camera will have both ‘Bright Night’ and portrait lighting. He also says that the phone will come with a pair of AKG earbuds, that it has the same speaker grille design as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and that its chin is slightly larger than the top and side bezels.

Apparently the phones will also have a dual NPU (neural processing unit) and glossier bodies than the Samsung Galaxy S9 range. Both the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus will apparently have in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint scanners, but the S10 Lite is said to have a side-mounted normal scanner, which we’ve heard before.

Finally, the power button on the Galaxy S10 Plus is apparently way above the Bixby button, while the placement on the S10 and S10 Lite is supposedly similar to the Galaxy S9’s.

S10 Lite or S10 E?

Credit: CompareRaja

Credit: CompareRaja

In other more minor news we’ve heard from CompareRaja that the entry-level S10 will indeed be called the Galaxy S10 Lite, rather than the Samsung Galaxy S10 E as had recently been rumored. However, Evan Blass (another reliable leaker) has separately said that he too has heard the S10 E name, so we’re still not sure about the naming.

The site also reiterates some previous rumors, saying that the S10 Lite will have a 3,100mAh battery, the Galaxy S10 will have a 3,500mAh one, and the Galaxy S10 Plus will have a 4,000mAh one. The range is said to come in black, white, blue and green, with the S10 Lite additionally getting a region-dependent yellow option.

As ever, we’d take all of this with a pinch of salt, especially the information on camera lenses and the naming of the Galaxy S10 Lite, since there’s some disagreement there, but with the Samsung Galaxy S10 range set to land on February 20 we’ll know the truth very soon.

  • Lots of other major phones will be landing soon after at MWC 2019

Via PhoneArena and AndroidCommunity

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Flash will be disabled by default in Firefox 69

Multimedia software Flash will be disabled by default in Firefox 69, which is due for release on 3 September 2019, and Mozilla will remove support for the plugin from commercial versions of the browser completely early next year.

As Neowin reports, a recent bug report has revealed that the process will begin with the Firefox nightly build, followed by the stable release. The extended support release (ESR) will continue to support Flash until the end of the year for businesses that rely on it. 

After Flash

Flash has been making websites interactive since 1996, but has been a popular target for criminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities. 

It has now been superseded by technologies including HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly, which don’t require separate browser plugins. Adobe began advising content creators to move away from Flash in 2015, and will end support for the plugin in 2020.

“Today, open standards like HTML5 have matured and provide many of the capabilities that Flash ushered in,” said Adobe in a statement. “Looking ahead, we encourage content creators to build with new web standards and will continue to focus on providing the best tools and services for designers and developers.”

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 UK release date set for January 16

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 release date is January 16 (at 12pm) in the UK, with the flagship handset coming in cheaper than the top offerings from Apple and Samsung.

In fact, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 price is just £499, with a £50 reduction to £449 for a limited time only from 12pm on January 16. This early-bird price will be available from Mi.com, Amazon and Ebuyer.

In return you’ll get a notch-free and almost bezeless 6.39-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, 12MP + 12MP dual rear cameras, 24MP + 2MP dual front cameras and a 3,200mAh.

Slide for selfie

The key feature of the Mi Mix 3 is its no-notch, almost bezeless display which makes for a striking look – with the dual selfie cameras hidden beneath it.

To access these front snappers you need to slide the screen down, revealing the cameras.

Xiaomi only launched in the UK towards the end of 2019, and the Mi Mix 3 joins five more handsets under the firm’s ‘Mi’ name, as well as a host of Redmi devices and the Pocophone F1.

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AMD CEO admits ray tracing is ‘important’ but still thinks Nvidia jumped the gun

AMD’s CEO has clarified that ray tracing is indeed important to the graphics card maker, and that there’s already a GPU which uses the tech in development.

Lisa Su made the comments in a roundtable session with PC World, in which she noted that the key to Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 2080 is that it boasts a lot of features and that ray tracing is one of its “important” capabilities.

She then reiterated that it was important to AMD, stating: “I think ray tracing is important technology; it’s something that we’re working on as well, from both a hardware/software standpoint.”

But then she fired her shots at Nvidia, adding that “technology for technology’s sake is okay”, but that “technology done together with partners, and really getting the development community fully engaged, I think is really important.”

She observed: “So you’re going to see a lot more gaming discussions from us as we go through this year, and into the future, and that’s kind of how we do it. We view it as a broad ecosystem, we don’t focus on just the one technology.”

In other words, this is underlying AMD’s previous line which is that it’s too early to be pushing with ray tracing just yet, and that Nvidia has gone ahead with it for Turing GPUs just for the sake of saying it has got the technology, as opposed to delivering any real benefits to gamers.

Of course, support for ray tracing is limited right now, and as we’ve seen, turning on these fancy lighting effects can seriously hamper frame rates – although the developers of Battlefield V, for instance, have worked hard to optimize the tech along with Nvidia.

AMD’s argument is that it would rather focus on making its GPUs better performing across the entire gamut of games, rather than those with support for a specific feature.

PR pot-shots

This might give you some perspective for Nvidia’s chief executive Jensen Huang’s comments last week concerning AMD’s freshly-unveiled Radeon VII graphics card, which the CEO called “underwhelming” while specifically noting that it had no ray tracing capability (or AI chops).

Huang observed: “It’s 7nm with HBM memory that barely keeps up with a 2080. And if we turn on DLSS we’ll crush it. And if we turn on ray tracing we’ll crush it.”

AMD’s CEO replied quietly: “What I would say is that we’re very excited about Radeon VII, and I would probably suggest that he [Huang] hasn’t seen it yet.”

So yes, this is a typical PR pot-shot battle, with flak being fired between both sides. But what this latest development does show is that AMD isn’t underplaying the importance of ray tracing, and while any kind of rough timeframe for a GPU with the tech on-board has still not been mentioned, Lisa Su clearly sees this as an important part of the puzzle in the future.

Via Wccftech

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