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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Why Don't HDR TVs Have sRGB Or AdobeRGB Ratings?
dryriver writes: As anyone who buys professional computer monitors knows, the dynamic range of the display device you are looking at can be expressed quite usefully in terms of percentage sRGB coverage and percentage AdobeRGB coverage. The higher the percentage for each, the better and wider the dynamic range of the screen panel you are getting. People who work with professional video and photographs typically aim for a display that has 100 percent sRGB coverage and at least 70 to 80 percent AdobeRGB coverage. Laptop review site Notebookcheck for example uses professional optical testing equipment to check whether the advertised sRGB and AdobeRGB percentages and brightness in nits for any laptop display panel hold up in real life. This being the case, why do quote-on-quote "High Dynamic Range" capable TVs -- which seem to be mostly 10 bits per channel to begin with -- not have an sRGB or AdobeRGB rating quoted anywhere in their technical specs? Why don't professional TV reviewers use optical testing equipment that's readily available to measure the real world dynamic range of HDR or non-HDR TVs objectively, in hard numbers? Why do they simply say "the blacks on this TV were deep and pleasing, and the lighter tones were..." when this can be expressed better and more objectively in measured numbers or percentages? Do they think consumers are too unsophisticated to understand a simple number like "this OLED TV achieves a fairly average 66 percent AdobeRGB coverage?"

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Border Agents Fail To Delete Personal Data of Travelers After Electronic Searches, Watchdog Says
The Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog, known as the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that the majority of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents fail to delete the personal data they collect from travelers' devices. Last year alone, border agents searched through the electronic devices of more than 29,000 travelers coming into the country. "CBP officers sometimes upload personal data from those devices to Homeland Security servers by first transferring that data onto USB drives -- drives that are supposed to be deleted after every use," Gizmodo reports. From the report: Customs officials can conduct two kinds of electronic device searches at the border for anyone entering the country. The first is called a "basic" or "manual" search and involves the officer visually going through your phone, your computer or your tablet without transferring any data. The second is called an "advanced search" and allows the officer to transfer data from your device to DHS servers for inspection by running that data through its own software. Both searches are legal and don't require a warrant or even probable cause -- at least they don't according to DHS. It's that second kind of search, the "advanced" kind, where CBP has really been messing up and regularly leaving the personal data of travelers on USB drives. According to the new report [PDF]: "[The Office of the Inspector General] physically inspected thumb drives at five ports of entry. At three of the five ports, we found thumb drives that contained information copied from past advanced searches, meaning the information had not been deleted after the searches were completed. Based on our physical inspection, as well as the lack of a written policy, it appears [Office of Field Operations] has not universally implemented the requirement to delete copied information, increasing the risk of unauthorized disclosure of travelers' data should thumb drives be lost or stolen." The report also found that Customs officers "regularly failed to disconnect devices from the internet, potentially tainting any findings stored locally on the device." It also found that the officers had "inadequate supervision" to make sure they were following the rules. There's also a number of concerning redactions. For example, everything from what happens during an advanced search after someone crosses the border to the reason officials are allowed to conduct an advanced search at all has been redacted.

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Why I'm Usually Unnerved When Modern SSDs Die on Us
Chris Siebenmann, a Unix Systems Administrator at University of Toronto, writes about the inability to figure out the bottleneck when an SSD dies: What unnerves me about these sorts of abrupt SSD failures is how inscrutable they are and how I can't construct a story in my head of what went wrong. With spinning HDs, drives might die abruptly but you could at least construct narratives about what could have happened to do that; perhaps the spindle motor drive seized or the drive had some other gross mechanical failure that brought everything to a crashing halt (perhaps literally). SSDs are both solid state and opaque, so I'm left with no story for what went wrong, especially when a drive is young and isn't supposed to have come anywhere near wearing out its flash cells (as this SSD was). (When a HD died early, you could also imagine undetected manufacturing flaws that finally gave way. With SSDs, at least in theory that shouldn't happen, so early death feels especially alarming. Probably there are potential undetected manufacturing flaws in the flash cells and so on, though.) When I have no story, my thoughts turn to unnerving possibilities, like that the drive was lying to us about how healthy it was in SMART data and that it was actually running through spare flash capacity and then just ran out, or that it had a firmware flaw that we triggered that bricked it in some way.

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Super Micro Says Review Found No Malicious Chips in Motherboards
Computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer told customers on Tuesday that an outside investigations firm had found no evidence of any malicious hardware in its current or older-model motherboards. From a report: In a letter to customers, the San Jose, California, company said it was not surprised by the result of the review it commissioned in October after a Bloomberg article reported that spies for the Chinese government had tainted Super Micro equipment to eavesdrop on its clients.

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Californians Have Now Purchased Half a Million EVs
According Veloz -- an electric car industry group -- electric vehicle sales in California hit a cumulative 512,717 since 2010. "Months of strong U.S. sales in 2018, preceded by a strong 2017, are starting to show a trend: electric vehicles are selling well, especially in places where there are strong monetary and non-monetary incentives to buy them," reports Ars Technica. From the report: "Overall, this year has seen exponential growth in electric car sales," Veloz wrote. "Electric cars accounted for 7.1 percent of California car sales in the first three quarters of the year, with fully electric, zero-emission car sales outpacing plug-in hybrid sales 4.1 percent to 3 percent respectively." Veloz's data tallies not just fully battery-electric vehicles but also plug-in hybrids as well as the much rarer fuel cell vehicles. The group gets its data (PDF) from the blogs InsideEVs and HybridCars.com as well as a market-research firm called Baum & Associates and estimates from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). According to data from InsideEVs, the Tesla Model 3 was the top-selling electric vehicle model in the U.S. in November. In November alone, 18,650 of those vehicles were sold in the U.S. To its credit, Veloz's press release isn't too self-congratulatory. The group writes, "Veloz recognizes that, while electric car sales are increasing at a rapid clip, it is not happening fast enough to achieve the deep cuts in emissions that the state needs to achieve to protect people's health and curb negative impacts on the environment."

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Walmart Is Reportedly Testing a Burger-Flipping Robot
Flippy, a burger-flipping robot that's been trialed in a number of restaurants this year, is coming to Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to see whether or not it's the right fit for its in-store delis. Yahoo News reports: Flippy is the world's first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant powered by artificial intelligence from Miso Robotics, a two-year-old startup. Flippy got a gig at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles with vending food service company Levy Restaurants, part of Compass Group, to fry up chicken tenders and tater tots. Through the World Series, Flippy churned out 17,000 pounds worth of the fried foods. It's able to fry up to eight baskets of food simultaneously. "Walmart saw what we were doing and said, 'Could you bring Flippy from Dodgers Stadium to our Culinary Institute?'" Miso Robotics CEO David Zito told Yahoo Finance. In practice, a Walmart associate would place a frozen product on the rack. Using visual recognition technology, Flippy identifies the food in the basket and sets it in the cooking oil. The machine then "agitates" the basket by shaking it to make sure the product cooks evenly. When the food is finished cooking, Flippy moves the basket to the drip rack. An associate then tests the food's internal temperature. A few minutes later, the associate can season the food before it hits the hot display case. The reason Walmart is looking at the robot is so it can do some of the more mundane and repetitive tasks at the deli. The robot is supposed to serve as an "extra set of hands," letting the associate spend less time putting potato wedges and chicken tenders in fryers and more time on other services like taking customer orders and prepping other foods.

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GoPro To Move US-Bound Camera Production Out of China
In an effort to counter the potential impact from new tariffs, GoPro is moving most of its U.S.-bound camera production out of China by the summer of 2019. The company said international-bound camera production will remain in China. Reuters reports: The company had previously said it was being "very proactive" about the situation regarding tariffs as U.S. and China ramped up its bitter trade war, in which both nations have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's imports. "It's important to note that we own our own production equipment while our manufacturing partner provides the facilities, so we expect to make this move at a relatively low cost," said Chief Financial Officer Brian McGee. In the company's earnings call in November, GoPro said it had the option to move U.S.-bound production out of China in the first half of 2019, if necessary.

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Aston Martin Will Make Old Cars Electric So They Don't Get Banned From Cities
Aston Martin announced this week that it's starting a "Heritage EV" program where owners of classic Aston Martins can have their cars converted to an all-electric powertrain. The British automaker said they are starting this program so that classic cars don't get banned from cities that are moving to shun internal combustion engines in favor of boosting air quality for residents. The Verge reports: Aston Martin says the technology for these conversions will be built on "key components" being used to develop the Rapide E, a super-limited all-electric sports car due late next year. The Rapide E will use an 800-volt, 65kWh battery, offer "over 200 miles" of range, and feature a sub-4-second 0-60 mph time, as well as a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Only 155 of them will be sold, too. So the best way to get a taste of Aston Martin's electric future might actually be one of these EV conversions. The automaker says the first car it will develop a conversion plan for is the 1970 DB6 MkII Volante. Aston Martin will build Rapide E-inspired "cassettes" that can essentially slide in where the original engine and gearbox used to be, and will even be attached to the same mountings. A new screen will be fitted in the car's interior, but otherwise, little else is changed. This also means that, should an owner change their mind, and also have the money (which, come on, of course they do), they should be able to change it back if they so desire.

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Tesla's Giant Battery In Australia Saved $40 Million During Its First Year, Report Says
Last December, Tesla switched on the world's biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia to feed the country's shaky power grid for the first day of summer. Neoen, the owner of the giant battery system, released a new report for the first full year of operation and revealed that the energy storage system saved about $40 million over the last 12 months. Electrek reports: The energy storage capacity is managed by Neoen, which operates the adjacent wind farm. They contracted Aurecon to evaluate the impact of the project and they estimate that the "battery allows annual savings in the wholesale market approaching $40 million by increased competition and removal of 35 MW local FCAS constraint." It is particularly impressive when you consider that the massive Tesla Powerpack system cost only $66 million, according to another report from Neoen. Here are the key findings from the report: - Has contributed to the removal of the requirement for a 35 MW local Frequency Control Ancillary Service (FCAS), saving nearly $40 million per year in typical annual costs- Has reduced the South Australian regulation FCAS price by 75% while also providing these services for other regions- Provides a premium contingency service with response time of less than 100 milliseconds- Helps protect South Australia from being separated from the National Electricity Market- Is key to the Australian Energy Market Operator's (AEMO) and ElectraNet's System Integrity Protection Scheme (SIPS) which protects the SA-VIC Heywood Interconnector from overload

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Eastern European Banks Were Attacked Via Backdoors Directly Connected To Local Networks, Report Finds
An anonymous reader writes: Karspesky security researcher Sergey Golovanov writes about recent cybertheft incidents involving hardware backdoors planted by criminals. Each attack had a common springboard: an unknown device directly connected to the company's local network. In some cases, it was the central office, in others a regional office, sometimes located in another country. At least eight banks in Eastern Europe were the targets of the attacks, which caused damage estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. Hardware backdoors are cheap and immune to antivirus. A firmware modified OpenWrt based router can provide covert remote access, painless packet captures, and secure VPN connections with the flip of a switch. Will a flashlight and a ladder be common tools of computer security someday? After the cybercriminals entered a organization's building, connected a device to the local network and scanned the local network seeking to gain access to the resources, they proceeded to stage three. "Here they logged into the target system and used remote access software to retain access," writes Golovanov. "Next, malicious services created using msfvenom were started on the compromised computer. Because the hackers used fileless attacks (PDF) and PowerShell, they were able to avoid whitelisting technologies and domain policies. If they encountered a whitelisting that could not be bypassed, or PowerShell was blocked on the target computer, the cybercriminals used impacket, and winexesvc.exe or psexec.exe to run executable files remotely."

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Snapdragon 8cx Gives Windows Its Most Extreme Arm Chip Yet
Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform, a new flagship "Extreme" chipset for Windows on Arm notebooks, tablets, and 2-in-1s that promises more connectivity, more power, and battery life in excess of 25 hours. From a report: The new platform also debuts Qualcomm's new nomenclature for that ecosystem of devices, borrowing technologies from Snapdragon for smartphones but shaping them for ultraportable computing. It comes twelve months after Qualcomm announced its first Windows on Arm products. At last year's Snapdragon Summit, partners ASUS and HP revealed a Windows 10 notebook and 2-in-1, respectively, each running Microsoft's software on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835. The Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform won't replace the 850 -- or, indeed, be called the Snapdragon 1000 or Snapdragon 8180 as the rumors suggested -- but instead sit above it in the Windows on Arm ecosystem. Described as "a new tier of premium computing" by Qualcomm's Miguel Nunes, senior director of product management, ahead of the Snapdragon Summit 2018 at which SlashGear is Qualcomm's guest, it was also developed from the ground up with computing in mind. Its predecessors were, of course, mobile chipsets coopted into laptop use.

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24 Amazon Workers Sent To Hospital After Robot Accidentally Unleashes Bear Spray
Joe_Dragon shares a report from ABC News: Twenty-four Amazon workers in New Jersey have been hospitalized after a robot accidentally tore a can of bear repellent spray in a warehouse, officials said. The two dozen workers were treated at five local hospitals, Robbinsville Township communications and public information officer John Nalbone told ABC News. One remains in critical condition and 30 additional workers were treated at the scene. The official investigation revealed "an automated machine accidentally punctured a 9-ounce bear repellent can, releasing concentrated Capsaican," Nalbone said. Capsaican is the major ingredient in pepper spray. The fulfillment center was given the all clear by Wednesday evening. "All of the impacted employees have been or are expected to be released from hospital within the next 24 hours. The safety of our employees is always our top priority and a full investigation is already underway. We'd like to thank all of the first responders who helped with today's incident," Amazon said in a statement Wednesday night.

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Quantum Computers Pose a Security Threat That We're Still Totally Unprepared For
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: The world relies on encryption to protect everything from credit card transactions to databases holding health records and other sensitive information. A new report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says we need to speed up preparations for the time when super-powerful quantum computers can crack conventional cryptographic defenses. The experts who produced the report, which was released today, say widespread adoption of quantum-resistant cryptography "will be a long and difficult process" that "probably cannot be completed in less than 20 years." It's possible that highly capable quantum machines will appear before then, and if hackers get their hands on them, the result could be a security and privacy nightmare. Today's cyberdefenses rely heavily on the fact that it would take even the most powerful classical supercomputers almost unimaginable amounts of time to unravel the cryptographic algorithms that protect our data, computer networks, and other digital systems. But computers that harness quantum bits, or qubits, promise to deliver exponential leaps in processing power that could break today's best encryption. The report cites an example of encryption that protects the process of swapping identical digital keys between two parties, who use them to decrypt secure messages sent to one another. A powerful quantum computer could crack RSA-1024, a popular algorithmic defense for this process, in less than a day. The U.S., Israel and others are working to develop standards for quantum-proof cryptographic algorithms, but they may not be ready or widely adopted by the time quantum computers arrive. "[I]t will take at least a couple of decades to get quantum-safe cryptography broadly in place," the report says in closing. "If that holds, we're going have to hope it somehow takes even longer before a powerful quantum computer ends up in a malicious hacker's hands."

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We're No Longer in Smartphone Plateau. We're in the Smartphone Decline.
The days of double-digit smartphone growth are over -- and the next decade may start to see smartphone sales decline. A report adds: From roughly 2007 until 2013, the smartphone market grew at an astonishing pace, posting double-digit growth year after year, even during a global recession. They were the good years, the type that would inspire a Scorsese montage: millions and then billions of smartphones going out; billions and then trillions of dollars in rising company valuations; every year new models of phones hitting the market, held up triumphantly at events that were part sales pitch, part tent revival. (To nail the Scorsese effect, imagine "Jumpin' Jack Flash" playing while you think about it.) But just like every Scorsese movie, the party ends. Smartphone growth began to slow starting in 2013 or 2014. In 2016, it was suddenly in the single digits, and in 2017 global smartphone shipments, for the first time, actually declined -- fewer smartphones were sold than in 2017 than in 2016. Every smartphone manufacturer is now facing a world where, at best, they can hope for single-digit growth in smartphone sales -- and many seem to be preparing for a world where they face declines.

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Qualcomm: 5G Android Flagship Phones Will Storm the 2019 Holidays
Get ready for lots of 5G phones in time for the holidays next year. From a report: The first devices for the fast, next-generation network will hit the market in early 2019. Samsung, for one, said it will have a phone for Verizon, AT&T and other networks in the first half of the year. By the holidays next year, every flagship handset -- at least when it comes to those running Google's Android software and using Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor -- will tap into 5G, said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon. "When we get to exactly this time of year one year from now ... we will see every [handset maker] on the Android ecosystem, their flagship across all US carriers will be a 5G device," he told CNET in an interview Tuesday at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii. "Every Android vendor is working on 5G right now."

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