12.20.2016

Attention Readers

Davis and the Jake-Man are on holiday leave until January. We look forward to sharing tech news with you next year!

12.17.2016

Davis's Tech News December 11 - December 17





"Davis's Tech News" is a weekly digest of #technews curated by D&theJM's Senior Technology Correspondent, Davis.






Editor's note: We previously used Readability, a read-it-later bookmarklet service, to curate Davis's Tech News. However, it shut down at the end of September. Our hearts go out to this phenomenal platform's talented developers. Readability's design language is in the DNA of Davis and the Jake-Man; our gray background (#212324) and serif font, Mercury, were inspired by this wonderful platform that for seven years empowered users to "Read Comfortably."



http://www.davisandthejakeman.com/search/label/davistechnews

12.14.2016

NETGEAR Publishes Security Advisory For Certain Routers

CERT warns against using certain Netgear routers until a fix is issued



Netgear just published a security advisory, stating that a few of its popular routers are affected by a serious security vulnerability. This particular vulnerability could allow remote hackers to take control of the routers.

A Twitter user going by “Acew0rm” discovered the issue and informed Netgear by email in August. Up until this point, the vulnerability seemed to be ignored by Netgear, and there has been little fanfare about the problem until now.

Netgear’s advisory states, "Netgear has recently become aware of the security issue #582384 that allows unauthenticated web pages to pass form input directly to the command-line interface. A remote attacker can potentially inject arbitrary commands which are then executed by the system,".

“So far, it’s been confirmed that the issue affects at least eight router models.”

So far, it’s been confirmed that the issue affects at least eight router models; the R6250, R6400, R6700, R7000, R7100LG, R7300, R7900 and the R8000. Three of those happen to be in Amazon’s top five selling routers. 

The situation is complicated. A few beta fixes have been released for some models, but aren’t fully tested. Even worse is that Netgear customers have to install the firmware themselves, since Netgear has no way to push firmware updates. With the growing internet of things and the already massive router botnets, the internet will be feeling this one.

"A hacker able to convince someone to visit a website with the malicious code could exploit the flaw and execute any command with root privileges."

Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has said that exploit code has been seen on the web. A hacker able to convince someone to visit a website with the malicious code could exploit the flaw and execute any command with root privileges.

So far nobody has a practical solution to this vulnerability. Exploiting the flaw is very easy, and CERT suggests that anyone who can should stop using an affected router until a fix is available. Netgear will update its advisory once it has more information.

12.13.2016

Apple Went in the Wrong Direction with the MacBook

USB Type-C is being widely adopted in the smartphone market, but not by Apple


Apple refreshed their top laptop, the MacBook Pro, in late October. It was a departure so drastic from the Pro of old and a change so user-hostile that if not for the fact sales of the iPhone eclipse that of Macs, you could argue that it was an even deeper cut into the already fraying ties that bind the Apple faithful. 

The controversy surrounding the new MacBook Pro, indicative of a philosophy consistent with the iPhone’s removal of the headphone jack, is centered around the USB Type-C connector. Like Apple’s unnecessary removal of the 3.5mm audio jack, this move asks the user to switch standards; iPhone 7 owners suddenly find themselves exploring wireless audio solutions and buyers of the 2016 MacBook have all added “dongle” to their vocabulary. In other words, Apple is asking too much.

The notion that dongles are for the use of legacy devices is false, given that many peripherals are still shipping with USB Type-A. There’s a parallel to this inertia that can be seen in other parts of Apple’s walled garden: scarce 3D Touch inclusion, few iPad Pro-optimized apps, the prevalence of wired headphones. Apple can’t drive the industry forward all on its own.

"Apple can’t drive the industry forward all on its own."

Since the iPhone 6S and 7 have continued to use Apple’s proprietary connector even after the USB Type-C standard was finalized, despite Apple contributing roughly a quarter of the engineering team responsible for its development, it’s safe to assume that Lightning will continue to be the mobile connector of choice on Apple products for years to come. It is in this context that the decision to debut the Core M MacBook with a single USB Type-C connector and to throw two or four on the Pro model (with no MagSafe, SD card slot, or traditional USB ports) is so mystifying. 

Why have two different reversible connectors? Why does a USB-C to Lightning cable have to exist? This fragmentation is mind-boggling and puts an unnecessary workload on users to do their homework and buy the right adapters. The introduction of Lightning earphones and Lightning-charged mice and keyboards only confounds the problem because those are all thing you use with a computer, and Apple computers don’t have Lightning ports. Pardon the nostalgic tone, but this move is very un-Apple and if Steve Jobs were alive today, Cupertino would be moving in a more well-thought-out direction.


The direction Apple should've gone in was to add a female Lightning port to charge the Apple Pencil and use Lightning earphones. In addition, they should've figured out a way to keep their patented MagSafe a part of their charging solution. Third party manufactured Griffin devised such a way, for example. Likewise, Windows OEMs are including USB Type-C and A without compromising on the beauty of their hardware. Case in point, HP's 2016 revision to the Spectre x360 is a prime example of what the MacBook should be. You can buy a pair of USB Type-C headphones and use them with a Samsung phone and laptop or HP phone and laptop. There's no one pair of headphones you can use out-of-the-box with both the iPhone 7 and 2016 MacBook Pro. That's either a massive oversight or a foolishly arrogant design choice.

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12.11.2016

Davis's Tech News December 5 - December 10





"Davis's Tech News" is a weekly digest of #technews curated by D&theJM's Senior Technology Correspondent, Davis.






Editor's note: We previously used Readability, a read-it-later bookmarklet service, to curate Davis's Tech News. However, it shut down at the end of September. Our hearts go out to this phenomenal platform's talented developers. Readability's design language is in the DNA of Davis and the Jake-Man; our gray background (#212324) and serif font, Mercury, were inspired by this wonderful platform that for seven years empowered users to "Read Comfortably."



http://www.davisandthejakeman.com/search/label/davistechnews

12.07.2016

Capcom to Revive Dormant Franchises

Starting with a new Marvel vs Capcom


This year’s PSX showcase has ended with a ton of incredible announcements. Last of Us 2, a Crash Bandicoot reboot and a slew of new trailers rocked the showcase, but none more than Capcom. Capcom has been fairly dormant these past few years, and who can blame them? 

Dwindling sales for recent franchises, along with the disaster that was Street Fighter V’s launch (and Capcom’s anti-piracy rootkit) seemed to have left Capcom struggling to gain market against highly expected titles like Final Fantasy XV. The Japanese developer may have turned that around with two announcements last weekend. 

The first announcement was the release of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 to PS4. Even better, Saturday’s announcement was for the same day release of the game, with Xbox One and PC versions due next year. Capcom followed up with something even better, the next installment in the series, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. A teaser trailer was shown at the event, and which now has over 1.3 million view on YouTube

“A huge change for the series is that teams will now have two characters instead of three.”

The trailer features Mega Man X and Ryu against Iron Man and Captain Marvel (formerly Miss Marvel) in a fight over an infinity stone. A huge change for the series is that teams will now have two characters instead of three. Infinity stones can be used in fights, and might replace X-Factor from previous games. A second gameplay trailer has been released, showing Morrigan and captain America as playable characters.

In a followup interview, Michael Evans from Capcom and Mike Jones from Marvel discussed other gameplay changes. The tag system will now be freeform and much simpler, with the bulk of customization focusing on the infinity stones. Less experienced players shouldn’t be overwhelmed when given the choice of three different assist attacks, or worried that their characters’ hyper combos are out of sync. 

Capcom also promised to bring back other franchises in the announcement, but hasn’t given any details. Marvel vs Capcom Infinity will release on PS4, Xbox One and PC late next year.

12.05.2016

Bethesda Shutting Down Fan Project?

Parent company Zenimax sends mixed signals


Bethesda’s parent company Zenimax has demanded the take down of DoomRL, a free Doom Roguelike created by Kornel Kisielewicz. The game’s creator shared the news on Twitter, along with the letter they sent him. 


Zenimax is demanding that Kisielewicz remove all references to the Doom trademark or face legal action. Twitter followers suggested rebranding like DMCA’s Sky, but removing all references and changing monster names and sprites won’t be easy. Kisielewicz later wrote: "Short version: we're f***ed,".

This particular case is troubling for a number of reasons. Up to now, Zenimax’s child company Bethesda has been very encouraging of fan projects, and is well-known for a faceoff with Sony over PS4 owners’ ability to mod games. Skyrim in particular has a very dedicated modding community, which has replaced dragons with trains, autotuned all the bears, let players ride giant chickens, and other crazy things. Bethesda can remove mods violating their mod kit EULA, but usually lets modders run wild.

“Bethesda can remove mods violating their mod kit EULA, but usually lets modders run wild.”

Another important fact in this case is that DoomRL didn’t come out recently. DoomRL was first released back in 2002. Waiting fourteen years into a project’s lifecycle to shut it down is pretty strange. The 9 year development of Pokemon Uranium ended immediately after release,, but unlike Uranium, DoomRL has been in active development for 14 years.

Some fans think that the timing is due to the creator’s new kickstarter for Juniper Hell. The spiritual successor to DoomRL (and another potential infringement) has already raised more than $51,000 of its roughly $76,000 goal. It might be that Zenimax is trying to prevent Jupiter Hell from being funded, but Zenimax may actually increase funding with the extra media attention. Further complicating things, Zenimax just congratulated fan projects Brutal Doom 64 and Enderal: The Shards of Order for nominations in this year’s video game awards

The final interesting bit in this case is that Zenimax has requested that DoomRL’s site remove the “doom” tag from its metadata, which would keep it from showing up in search results for Doom. Something like this has rarely been heard of, and effectively removes a site from the internet. (Except for those with the URL, but let’s face it, search engines rule the Web.)


“At time of writing, DoomRL can still be downloaded from its parent site, but no one knows for how long.” 

Some believe that this potential lawsuit may be the result of an automated bot, but it seems a bit doubtful since the request has been so specific. At time of writing, DoomRL can still be downloaded from its parent site, but no one knows for how long.

12.04.2016

Davis's Tech News November 28 - December 4






"Davis's Tech News" is a weekly digest of #technews curated by D&theJM's Senior Technology Correspondent, Davis.




Editor's note: We previously used Readability, a read-it-later bookmarklet service, to curate Davis's Tech News. However, it shut down at the end of September. Our hearts go out to this phenomenal platform's talented developers. Readability's design language is in the DNA of Davis and the Jake-Man; our gray background (#212324) and serif font, Mercury, were inspired by this wonderful platform that for seven years empowered users to "Read Comfortably."

http://www.davisandthejakeman.com/search/label/davistechnews

12.01.2016

Apple to Begin Reducing iPhone 7 Orders

Cupertino not infallible, looks to iPhone 8 to stimulate growth


The iPhone 7 is a polarizing product; you either love it or you hate it. Apple’s 2016 flagship can be seen as either a natural progression of the iPhone or a hostile ploy to sell wireless earbuds. The latter argument has been fleshed out here on D&theJM, so let’s instead focus on sales of the handset rather than opinions regarding the single-ported flagship.

Apple is still the world’s most profitable company but as we learned from their end-of-quarter report in October, Cupertino is not infallible. Having reported their first decline in sales year over year since 2001, Apple is experiencing a cooling with regard to interest in its hardware products. 


It is in this market of slowing smartphone sales that reports of reduced iPhone production have surfaced. Apple profited from an unsustainable, one-time boost at the 7’s launch “driven by strong demand for the jet black iPhone 7 models and in part by the mishap brought upon by Samsung Galaxy Note 7” say Monica and Steve Shen of DigiTimes of Taiwan and Greater China. 

It's no surprise that the iPhone 7's reception has been lukewarm given how iterative an update it is to the iPhone 6S. Apple has traditionally revised the internals of their flagship on S-cycle iPhones and redesigned the chassis on numbered releases in an Intel-esque Tick-Tock pattern. Having broken this trend and reused a two-year-old design with the iPhone 7, Cupertino will have to hit one out of the park with its tenth anniversary iPhone 8 if it hopes to reverse its fortunes, sizable though they still are.

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