OS X Yosemite v10.10.5 Brings Stability, Compatibility, and Security Fixes

In addition to rolling out an update dubbed iOS 8.4.1 to its mobile operating system, Apple also released the OS X Yosemite v10.10.5 update for its desktop operating system. The new update brings with it a number of bug fixes and other improvements, and more importantly a set of security fixes to patch several vulnerabilities including the infamous DYLD glitch.

The OS X 10.10.5 update offers squashing of bugs in the Mail, Photos, and QuickTime Player applications. These are essentially the same improvements that the company had released to developers and public beta testers a few days ago. It can be downloaded from the App Store application on your Mac, under the Updates tab. We recommend backing up your computer via Time Machine or other backup software before installing the update.

Apple has also detailed the security content of OS X 10.10.5 and its accompanying Security Update 2015-006 available for OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.5, OS X Mavericks v10.9.5, OS X Yosemite v10.10 – v10.10.4. Chief among the new additions is a fix that patches the notable DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE vulnerability which was reported by security firms and researchers on August 3. The zero-day vulnerability, which affected OS X 10.10 Yosemite computers, allowed an attacker to gain root access to the system.

OS X v10.10.5 includes updates for its Safari Web browser. The update brings with it several security fixes that among other things fixes the user interface spoofing while visiting a malicious website. The update is available for Safari 8.0.8, Safari 7.1.8, and Safari 6.2.8 versions. You can download it by visiting the App Store.

Apple has also updated iTunes, bumping its version number to 12.2.2 to add improvements to the widely noted glitches in Apple Music. Below you can read the detailed changelog to see all the new additions in these updates. You can download the latest version of iTunes from Apple’s iTunes page or from the App Store on your computer.

Running Windows 10? Microsoft Can Disable Your Pirated Games

It hasn’t even been a month since the release of Windows 10 and Microsoft’s newest desktop operating system has been stirring up one privacy related controversy after another. The latest addition is company’s rather bold decision to change the license agreement, giving it the power to disable counterfeit games and unathorised hardware on computers running Windows 10.

The Redmond-based software mammoth has updated its European License Agreement ToC (first spotted by PC Authority) to note that it will not tolerate counterfeit games or hardware on any Windows 10-powered machine.

The company “may automatically check your version of the software and download software update or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorised hardware peripheral devices,” the 7(b) clause of the revised EULA reads.

While the specifics are largely unclear, the statement suggests that Microsoft is taking a big stand against the usage of illegally obtained games, an ill practice that is significantly reducing the revenue of PC game developers alike. Whether this also extends to non-games applications, well the license explictly says games (for now), so probably not. Why Microsoft is differentiating between illegally obtained games and other apps is anyone’s guess.

When contacted for details, a Microsoft spokesperson offered nothing more than a boilerplate statement. “We take claims of intellectual property infringement seriously and review them in accordance with our standard procedures. We also continue to review the content of our Windows Store periodically as described in this blog post, as we work to deliver a great customer experience and provide fair and transparent developer policies and enforcement.”

It is unclear how exactly the company detects “counterfeit games” on a Windows 10 machine.

Within days of release, Windows 10 was criticised for its stand on privacy, with features like Wi-Fi sense and Cortana, amongst others, taking the blame. Since then the OS has been embrioled in one privacy related controversy after another.

Control 3D Computer Cursors via Gestures Soon

Researchers from the University of Montreal have developed a technique that enables computer cursors to interact in 3D scenarios.

The innovation offers designers an opportunity to navigate through and modify their creations manipulating 3D objects with 3D interactions.

“Our new technology challenges the notion of what a cursor is and does,” said lead researcher professor Tomas Dorta from the university’s school of design.

“The cursor becomes a drawing and controlling plane,” he added.

The technique involves using a tablet to control the cursor but since it does not necessarily rely on external tracking of the user’s movements, “eventually other devices such as smartphones or watches can be used,” the authors noted.

The team explained how the cursor selects objects in space. The users simply sweep the 3D cursors through.

“For the manipulations of objects, the users can use gestures and movements such as pinching and orientation,” Dorta noted.

3d_cursors_official_2.jpgThe cursor is being demonstrated with the Hyve-3D design system, a full scale immersive 3D environment that enables users to create drawings on hand held tablets.

These can then be manipulated on the tablets to create a 3D design within the space.

As the designers are immersed in their work, for example designing a living room, they can test different furniture options according to the scale and even work on the interior detailing.

The immersive images are the result of an optical illusion created by a high-resolution projector.

Specialised techniques render the 3D scene onto a spherical projection in real time.

Windows RT to Get a Start Menu via SP3 Update

It’s no secret that Microsoft has largely neglected Windows RT and the devices that run it. But the company has a new update dubbed SP3 lined up for RT-powered devices that would bring in a handful of features including the Start Menu.

The company has updated the Windows 10 FAQ page to note that a future update to Windows RT – scheduled to release in September – will add a Start Menu to the operating system. Other than that, the “minor” update will also bring a graphical revamp to the lock screen.

“If you’re running Windows RT, your device won’t upgrade to Windows 10. We will have an update available in September 2015 that will improve the Start menu and lock screen. Check Windows Update on your Windows RT device to make sure it is ready to download the update when available,” the description reads.

WinBeta reports that the new Start Menu on Windows RT won’t be identical to its counterpart in Windows 10 and instead look similar to the Start Menu we saw in one of the earlier Windows 10 builds.

Windows RT is a variant of Microsoft’s desktop operating system designed for ARM systems, typically touch-capable hybrid devices and tablets such as the Surface RT. Since it’s not x86 compatible, the number of applications available to Windows RT users is pretty limited.

Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock Launch Z170 Motherboards for Intel ‘Skylake’ CPUs

With Intel having formally unveiled its ‘Skylake’ sixth-generation Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K processors, motherboard manufacturers have launched entirely new product lines based on the supporting Intel Z170 chipset. Skylake CPUs require new motherboards thanks to a changed socket and an upgrade to DDR4 RAM.

Asus has unveiled no fewer than 12 Z170 models, of which seven are available in India. At the high end, Asus promises enhanced fan and liquid coolant pump control with support for up to eight case fans; USB 3.1 with 100W power delivery; overclocking controls for unlocked K-series CPUs; and five-way optimisation for CPU speed, power savings, stable power delivery, quiet fans, and networking and audio settings.

According to Asus, the new gaming-focused ROG Maximus VIII series has set eight world overclocking records and now holds first place in 12 benchmarks. All ROG models include USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports of both the common Type-A and the new Type-C variety. All models also support M.2 NVMe SSDs with four PCIe lanes. A front-panel USB 3.1 Type-C panel will allow for 100W of power delivery.

On the high end, features include custom lighting controls on the chipset heatsink, DDR4 overclocking controls, SupremeFX 2015 audio with an auto-sensing headphone amplifier. The upcoming E-ATX ROG Maximus VIII Extreme will the U.2 format for high-bandwidth PCIe SSDs as well as Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. On the other hand, the mATX Maximus VIII Gene fits into much smaller enclosures.

Asus has also launched a variety of enthusiast motherboards. Prices in India range from Rs. 12,020 for the Z170-P D3 to Rs. 28,220 for the Z170-Deluxe.

asus_z170_models_asus.jpgGigabyte has launched new products in its G1 Gaming, Ultra Durable and Super Overclocking lines. All support USB 3.1 Gen 2 but not all have Type-C connectors. The G1 Gaming series motherboards use a new white-and-red colour scheme with programmable RGB LEDs. High-end models feature onboard Creative audio with upgradeable op-amps as well as wired and wireless Killer NICs for network packet optimisation.

The Super Overclocking series comes in black and orange, and feature extra PCIe power connectors for more stable power delivery, fine-tuning controls for overclockable parameters, and heatsinks with ports for liquid cooling loops built in.

The mainstream Ultra Durable lineup have a black and gold theme, with some models sporting built-in headphone amps, dual BIOS chips, dual Intel Gigabit network interfaces, and software tweaks. In total, Gigabyte has 12 Z170 models on offer.

MSI also debuted its Z170 lineup. At the top of the line, the new The Z170A Xpower Gaming Titanium Edition comes in a striking light grey colour and features dedicated OC buttons, multimeter contact points, LED debug readout, redundant BIOS chips, and PCIe slot disable switches. MSI also promises protection from humidity, high temperatures, electrostatic discharge and electromagnetic interference. Reinforced PCIe slots can support heavy graphics cards and MSI also promises studio-grade sound with virtual 7.1 surround.

The MSI Z170A Krait Gaming comes with a Mystic Light feature, allowing users to set up their own colour schemes. The Z170A Tomahawk Gaming supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 and M.2 SSDs as well as MSI Gaming LAN for network packet prioritisation, and Gaming Hotkey for custom shortcuts.

msi_z170_titanium_msi.jpgASRock also joined the party with 16 models, most of which feature USB 3.1 and M.2 connectivity. While most boards have one USB 3.1 Type-C connector and one Type-A connector on the rear, some models come with a front panel bay featuring an additional pair of ports. The Z170 Extreme+ features three M.2 slots with support for U.2 adapters, and one mini PCIe slot. The board features automatic dehumidification, DTS Connect audio enhancement, automatic driver downloads and installation, dual Intel Gigabit LAN, and platinum Nichicon capacitors.

ASRock continues its association with overclocker Fatal1ty. Models with this branding feature PS/2 mouse ports that support higher polling rates and Killer LAN and Purity Sound with a high-quality DAC and headphone amplifier.

In addition to motherboards, companies are launching new dual-channel DDR4 kits, which will be needed to build a Skylake system. Kingston has announced that its HyperX Fudy DDR4 kits will be available in India from mid-august onwards, with prices starting at approximately Rs. 6,400 for 2x4GB and Rs. 12,800 for 2x8GB respectively. Individual modules and kits of four will also be available, with rated speeds ranging from 2133MHz to 2666MHz.

Microsoft Rolls Out Windows 10’s First Major Update

Microsoft has released what it calls a “cumulative” update for Windows 10. Just a week after releasing the new desktop operating system to the public, late Wednesday, the company started to seed out the first “major” update to it.

What comes in the update; however, isn’t as exciting. The company is largely stuffing in bug fixes aimed at straightening the rough edges that Windows 10 shipped with, and has not detailed the exact changes. “This update includes non-security-related changes to enhance the functionality of Windows 10 through new features and improvements,” the company notes in the description.

But interestingly, the package contains all the previously released bug fixes as well. So, in case you missed downloading any of the past patches, the current update will take care of that as well. Microsoft had released a major update to Windows 10 Developer Preview on July 29.

The update dubbed “3081424”, which comes packed in a 325MB file, is widely believed to be the “Service Release 1 (SR1)” for Windows 10. Windows head Gabriel Aul thoughnotes that he isn’t aware of any such christening. The SR 1 was widely rumoured to hit Windows 10 in the first week of August.

As Microsoft moves its desktop operating system Windows from product to service model, the company would stop releasing any new Windows versions, and instead continue to roll out updates to Windows 10.

The update is more crucial for Windows 10 Developer Preview users for whom it is mandatory to download all the new patches. As previously noted, Windows Insider participants will lose access to Windows Store and several other core Windows 10 features if they didn’t keep their computers up to date

Micro-Structures to Control Elasticity in 3D-Printing

Using a new method developed by Disney Research, a 3D-printed teddy bear can have a stiff head, a flexible tummy and bendable arms, even though all of it is made of the same relatively stiff material.By using a printer to alter the small-scale structure of the material, the Disneyresearchers showed they could vary its elasticity dramatically.

They developed families of compatible micro-structures with varying elastic properties, enabling designers to select the properties desired for each region of an object.

The team demonstrated their new method to produce several deformable toys.

“Many functional objects in our everyday life consist of elastic, deformable material, and the material properties are often inextricably linked to function,” said Christian Schumacher.

3D printing usually involves only a single material or a very small set of materials.

“However, 3D printing easily produces complex, 3D micro-structures which we can use to create metamaterials with properties beyond those of standard printer materials,” Schumacher said.

Metamaterials are substances that derive their bulk properties from the shape and arrangement of their micro-structures, rather than the composition of the material itself.

What the Disney Research team did was to use a variety of these metamaterials so that different regions within a single object could have different elastic properties.

To create an object, these micro-structures measuring 8 mm on a side are tiled together in the object’s interior.

The researchers created an algorithm for optimising the combination of these micro-structures, making sure that micro-structures of different shapes connect properly.

In the demonstration, the team showed that this method could be used to produce fully articulated figures, with joints that bend even through the remainder of each limb was stiff.

Acer Launches New Windows 10 Laptops in India

Acer, after introducing its Cloudbook laptops earlier this week, on Thursday launched three new laptop devices – Acer Aspire E5-573, Aspire V Nitro, and Aspire R13 notebook running Windows 10.

The new Acer Aspire E5-573 powered by Redmond-based tech firm’s latest operating system, would be available in two display size variants – 14-inch and 15.6-inch. The devices are said to sport a textile-pattern on the A-cover and D-cover made by a process using 3D scanning of fabric samples. The laptop runs on fifth generation Intel Core processor, clubbed with Nvidia GeForce 920M GPU, which comes with its own dedicated DDR3 VRAM. The device can support up to 16GB RAM and up to 1TB of hard disk storage.

acer_aspire_v_nitro_black_edition_windows_10_2.jpgThe laptop is Skype certified and sports the company’s home-made TrueHarmony audio tech, which has now been optimised for use with the Windows 10’s virtual voice-based assistant, Cortana. Also included is BlueLightShield feature that reduces the amount of blue light thrown by the display, resulting in lessening of eye strain. Furthermore, the new Aspire E5-573 houses Acer’s Precision Touchpad Technology, Accidental Contact Mitigation technology and more for better typing and finger input experience. The laptop with Windows 10 would be available starting Rs. 26,499.

Acer also announced the new Aspire V Nitro-Black Edition (seen above) gaming laptop with Windows 10. The laptop, like its older Windows 8.1 version, comes with 15-inch 4K resolution IPS display and a slim design profile. The device also features patterned covers made by NIL (Nano Imprint Lithography) technology. The base model runs on fifth generation Intel Core i5 processor along with either a 2GB or 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX960M GPU. The laptop will be available in 8GB and 12GB RAM versions, and feature a 1TB HDD. Also equipped are Acer DustDefender tech and Dolby Digital Plus Home Theatre with four speakers. While the complete list of specification are not yet clear, the laptop innards are likely to match with its Windows 8.1 version listed on the company website. The gaming laptop with Windows 10 starts at Rs. 1,10,000.

acer_aspire_r13_windows_10.jpgLastly, the firm launched its Acer Aspire R 13 laptop with Windows 10, the screen of which can be turned up to 180 degrees, so that it can be used in six different modes – Notebook Mode, Ezel Mode, Stand Mode, Pad Mode, Tent Mode, and Display Mode. The laptop features a 13.3-inch display, is less than 1-inch thin, and weighs around 1.5 kgs. The Aspire R 13 with Windows 10 will be available starting Rs. 89,999, with a fifth generation Intel Core i5 SoC, 8GB of RAM, and up to a 512GB SSD.

Microsoft Boosts Parental Leave, on Heels of Netflix

microsoft_store_crowd_ap.jpg
Microsoft on Wednesday announced an expanded parental leave policy for its US-based employees, a day after a similar move by streaming television giant Netflix.The tech giant said that from November 1, it would offer full pay for 12 weeks to new mothers and fathers, plus eight additional weeks of maternity disability, bringing the total for mothers to 20 weeks.

Until now, Microsoft had offered four weeks paid and eight weeks unpaid time off for new parents in addition to maternity disability.

“When I look at how rapidly the traditional workplace is changing, not just at Microsoft, but throughout business in general, I see a tremendous opportunity for companies to put a stake in the ground around what they believe in and what kind of culture they want to build together with employees,” Microsoft vice president for human resources Kathleen Hogan said in a blog post.

“As we ask our employees to bring their ‘A’ game to work every day to achieve our mission, we believe it’s our responsibility to create an environment where people can do their best work. A key component of this is supporting our employees with benefits that matter most to them.”

Microsoft said it was adding two new paid holidays, Martin Luther King Day in January and Presidents’ Day in February, bringing the total to 12, including two floating holidays. It also is boosting the company contribution for its retirement saving plan, known as a 401k.

The new policy affects some 60,000 US-based Microsoft employees. Hogan said that outside the United States, “we will continue to review what’s offered in each country and work to align to our global benefits philosophy and the local regulations and dynamics in each market.”

The move comes a day after Netflix announced it is offering up to one year of paid parental leave to both male and female employees after the birth of a child.

Netflix said the move was aimed at boosting job satisfaction and retaining top talent.

“We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances,” Tawni Cranz from Netflix said late Tuesday.

“Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally,” Cranz said.

Intel Launches Overclockable ‘Skylake’ Core i7-6700K, Core i5-6600K Desktop CPUs

Intel has announced two new overclockable enthusiast-class CPUs, the first of itsSkylake generation, at the ongoing Gamescom convention in Cologne, Germany. The Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K are based on a brand new architecture. The company also formally launched its Z170 chipset which will be required to support the new processors.While the Core i7-6700K has a base frequency of 4.0GHz and can scale up to 4.2GHz under load, The Core i5-6600K is clocked at 3.5GHz and can be pushed to 3.9GHz. Both models feature four cores and integrated Intel HD 530 graphics, but the Core i7 supports Intel’s Hyper-Threading scheme that allows each core to execute two threads. The former has 8MB of L2 cache while the latter has only 6MB.

Both use the new LGA1151 socket and support DDR4 or DDR3L RAM. Platforms built with either of these CPU and a Z170 motherboard will have 16 lanes of PCI-Express 3.0 connectivity originating directly from the CPU. Both new CPUs have 91W TDP ratings and for the first time, will not come with coolers in the box. Intel believes that enthusiasts are unlikely to use bundled coolers anyway, and many might already have coolers which are compatible since the mount has not changed.

The Skylake generation is a ‘tock’ in Intel’s tick-tock product cycle, which means it is anew architecture and uses a proven manufacturing process – in this case the 14nm node which was introduced with Broadwell beginning last year. Intel previously announced its 10nm node will be delayed, resulting in an extra ‘tock’ in the 14nm lifecycle.

The timing and venue of the launch underscore Intel’s strategy to target PC gamers and enthusiasts. The company had previously used GDC as a launchpad for its overclockable gamer-focused Devil’s Canyon Core i7 and Core i5 pair. More detailed information about the rest of the sixth-generation Core lineup and the Skylake architecture itself will only be disclosed at Intel’s annual Developer Conference in two weeks.

The two processors are the first of the lineup that will be marketed as Intel’s sixth-generation Core family. Variations of Skylake tailored for different classes of devices will follow, including ones for ultra-thin tablets, small-form-factor devices, and notebooks. Interestingly, the company also teased an unlocked K-series SKU for notebooks which will be released later in the year.

Intel is also demonstrating its Thunderbolt 3 technology and its latest SSDs at Gamescom 2015, including a new 800GB model of the SSD 750 series. Component companies including Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock and EVGA will be exhibiting Z170 motherboards, and integrators including Alienware, Acer and HP are showing off fully built systems.