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Vermont power company finds malware linked to Russian hackers

The Washington Post first reported the finding, suggesting that Russian hackers had gained access to the electrical grid via the Vermont utility, however the company's statement says there's no indication that happened. In a statement, it said the laptop in question was not connected to grid systems. Vermont Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia told the Burlington Free Press that the grid was not in danger.

Because it's not clear exactly what matched, there's a possibility that it could be the result of a false positive, or shared code. Also, it's not clear when or how the malware got on the laptop. Based on those reasons, a number of security professionals on Twitter suggested waiting for more details before crediting this finding to Grizzly Steppe (a name attributed to the Russian attacks in Wednesday's report).

So far, no other utilities or agencies have reported anything similar, but we will update this post if more information comes to light.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/31/vermont-power-company-finds-malware-linked-to-russian-hackers/

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ICYMI: Say farewell to 2016 with these favorite stories

Today on In Case You Missed It: We are rounding up some favorite stories from the year before it's lost to us all. When next you see ICYMI, it'll be from CES.

As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/31/icymi-say-farewell-to-2016-with-these-favorite-stories/

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Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016

This year's new watches, such as the Apple Watch Series 2, the Fitbit Blaze and a slew of Android Wear watches, were mostly underwhelming, with merely incremental upgrades. Battery life continues to be unsatisfactory, the cases are usually still too thick, and companies still struggle to balance timeless design with futuristic functionality. Google, which originally planned to launch Android Wear 2.0 this year, is pushing that update to early 2017. The new version will apparently allow for apps that can run independently on smartwatches without requiring a companion phone, something that Apple's watchOS 2 has offered since fall 2015. Speaking of Apple, the Series 2 appears to be one of the few smartwatches that did well this year: It's received mostly positive reviews and appears to be selling decently well, although Apple did not respond to queries on actual sales numbers.

Traditional watchmakers continued to smarten up their products this year, with one of the most notable being Tag Heuer and its fancy Connected watch. That thing costs a whopping $1,500, and it doesn't offer much more than the other Android Wear watches. Sure, it's a Tag, but when most Android Wear watches cost between $150 and $400, you realize that you're paying $1,200 more for yet another wearable that needs recharging every two days or so, with a display that's middling at best.

The only established watchmakers that succeeded at producing decent devices (think Timex and Fossil) did so by avoiding going fully digital, sticking instead to more-conventional analog designs with hidden sensors for basic fitness tracking. Really, then, the watches that did well this year were the hybrids, with the one big exception being the Apple Watch Series 2.

Then come the brands that have basically given up on making smartwatches altogether. A Motorola exec recently said the company is not working on a successor to last year's Moto 360, because it just doesn't "see enough pull in the market" to justify developing an updated model. That this kind of sentiment is coming from Motorola, of all companies, is telling. After all, the Moto 360 was the first Android Wear watch to have a round face and is one of the most well-received smartwatches running Google's software.

Similarly, this year Microsoft discontinued its Band fitness wearable. Although it's more of an activity tracker, the Microsoft Band always toed the line, what with its color touchscreen and smartwatch-like features such as phone notifications and third-party app support. Unlike Motorola, however, Microsoft never explained its exit from the field, although it continues to support its suite of health apps that can run on other devices.

One of the biggest signs that smartwatches are in trouble, though, was industry pioneer Pebble's recent acquisition by Fitbit for the modest sum of about $40 million. Back in its heyday, Pebble reportedly received bids from Citizen and Intel for $740 million and $70 million, respectively. The startup declined both suitors and went on to launch a new line of fitness-focused smartwatches this year. The Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 raised $12 million on Kickstarter, beating the $1 million funding goal. Despite the company's fundraising successes, Pebble failed to resolve its financial woes and eventually accepted Fitbit's offer.

With so much consolidation in the smartwatch space, the future of the category looks gloomy. Less competition can mean less innovation, which can result in products growing stale and eventually fading altogether. Still, there have been developments in 2016 that could give the industry a boost. Startup Matrix Industries came up with a way to use body heat to power a smartwatch, which could eliminate (or at least alleviate) the problem of inadequate battery life. Plus, with Android Wear 2.0 slated to arrive early next year, the next generation of smartwatches will likely become more functional, giving users more reason to wear them.

We also saw a few watches this year that let wearers control Amazon's Alexa from their wrist, although they ran obscure independent operating systems that barely had third-party app support. The Alexa integration means that these watches can access more than 2,000 so-called skills, letting you do things such as turn on your smart lights or thermostat, ask how much you've spent at specific stores, or buy many, many pairs of socks. You can't do most of that yet with Android Wear's OK Google command, but Alexa's expansion into watches could spur Google to improve its own assistant.

So 2016 wasn't a great year for smartwatches. In fact, it was a disappointing 12 months that don't bode well for the future of the category. But there are enough upcoming potential enhancements that the industry could be revived. Components could also get smaller and more powerful over time, as they did with smartphones, eventually leading to sleeker frames housing more full-featured systems. But that's something to look forward to in the future. As for this year's smartwatches? Goodbye, and good riddance.

Check out all of Engadget's year-in-review coverage right here.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/31/smartwatches-failed-to-excited-in-2016/

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Recommended Reading: Some suggestions for Twitter in 2017

A Billion Dollar
Gift for Twitter

Anil Dash,

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked the masses this week what the company should focus on in 2017. After a year filled with harassment issues and the failure to court a buyer, the next few months will be very important for Twitter's future. Tech entrepreneur and blogger Anil Dash penned some suggestions for the company and the list would be a great place for Dorsey to start in January.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/31/recommended-reading-some-suggestions-for-twitter-in-2017/

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Pros and cons: Our quick verdict on Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro

Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro has a mouthful of a name and a somewhat bland design. But what might seem like a forgettable phone really isn't: This massive 6.4-inch handset is the first available phone with Google's "Tango" 3D mapping technology. But while Tango feels magical when it works, bugs and hiccups periodically dampen the experience. Indeed, as is the case with many first-generation technologies, you're better off waiting for refinements -- that is, unless you're the sort of early adopter who needs to be on the bleeding edge. (And if you are, the $499 asking price is reasonable considering how much flagship phones typically cost.)

The problem is, once you set aside Tango (which itself isn't perfect), you're left with one lackluster phone. Though well-constructed, the design isn't memorable, while the cameras and custom software are downright lousy. The possibly too-big screen will also be a deal-breaker for some. Basically, then, as cool as Tango is, you're better off waiting for the technology to improve, and for a wider variety of devices to support it.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/31/lenovo-phab-2-pro-mini-review/

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The best of Engadget 2016: Editors’ picks

Terrence O'Brien

That Dragon, Cancer and shooting the "enemy"

The Engadget team has published a lot of great work this year. I've had the pleasure of editing everything from ambitious 4,000 word features, to clever 500 word editorials, but only one story has ever actually brought tears to my eyes. So, for that Aaron, thank you (I think). I'll never forget how hard it is to edit 10 point font on a laptop while crying.

Movies and TV have a long history of painting Muslims (and in particular Arab Muslims) with a broad, unflattering brush. Not surprisingly, video games have fallen into the same sad routine. But games might prove even more problematic, since it asks people to become active participants, rather than just observers. As developer Rami Ismail pointed out told Nicole Lee, "That's Call of Duty, over and over. Shoot all the Arabs... Muslim blood is the cheapest in the world.

James Trew

The "Uber for blowjobs"

When we think about how technology impacts our lives, it's easy to focus on the convenience it brings. In 2016, we can order room service with a voice command, or frolic on the beach (or is it run for our lives?) while a drone takes our holiday snaps. It's certainly an amazing time to be alive. The real impact of technology, for me, though, is when it shines a light on the darker corners of the human condition.

Earlier this year, I met and interviewed Pia Poppenreiter, who raised eyebrows with her (definitely not prostitution) "paid dating" service. Poppenreiter's "Ohlala" commoditized the most basic emotional need -- companionship. Unsurprisingly this "dating on demand" business model elicited mixed feelings, raising questions of morality, desire and maybe the true cost of convenience.

Kerry Davis

AI is genderless, until it isn't

This year, as part of our AI Week, we dug into why so many of our gadgets' "personalities" skew female, and how that could harm society; something that ended up being very eye-opening. From Cortana developers to proud feminists who abhor calling AI "she," we learned a lot about gender, and its representation in technology.

I personally was also touched by the "Superhumans" video series showing the people who suffered debilitating injuries and are fighting to get fuller lives back with exoskeleton suits and the like. Engadget's series following some of them at the first International Cyborg competition is a shining example of what can be achieved when technology is used to meaningfully improve people's lives.

Dan Cooper

The future is sexy

Back in 2015, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to try out Kiiroo's teledildonic sex kit that enables you to have sex across the internet. I found it quite underwhelming when I tried to make an electronic bedroom dance with my wife. I was delighted -- and a little gobsmacked -- to read my boss follow in my footsteps, albeit with a slight twist.

Rather than attempting to make love to someone else, he decided to place himself at the heart of a robotic threesome. Not only was it brave, it also served as a little protest at the heteronormativity of so many pieces of sex tech.

Jessica Conditt

Even when artificial, intelligence is complicated

I've been thinking about the complex relationship between the mind and technology since I was a senior in high school. That's when I wrote the prologue of my first novel, a near-future science-fiction story about the world's first brain-transplant patient.

Neuropsychology is fascinating to me -- it was my major for a hot minute in college -- but even though I'd researched its components for years, I'd never shared my thoughts about the technological singularity as a journalist. I felt vulnerable writing this editorial for AI Week, which is why I'm so glad I did it.

Nick Summers

Shooters with scientific sound design

While I love video game music, I rarely think about sound design. The atmosphere created when hailstones rattle against the roof of a dilapidated factory. The tension you feel when a tree branch snaps in a seemingly empty forest. Back in October, Tim dived into Gears of War 4 and the sounds that were achieved with a Microsoft technology called Triton.

It's a fascinating read, explaining a technical part of video game development in a way that anyone can understand. I'm not a huge fan of the roadie-run franchise, but this piece made me want to check out The Coalition's handiwork.

Billy Steele

Shooters with scientific sound design

What's the level below casual gamer? Whatever you call that, it's what I am. I'm interested, but it's not something I spend a lot of time doing. However, I do have a soft spot for Gears of War as it was one of the few games besides Call of Duty, NCAA Football and a few others that really kept my attention.

As more of an audio/music nerd, Tim's feature on how Microsoft made the sound in the latest Gears so good is a deep dive into a crucial part of every game. In this case, the effort put in to make sure hallways don't sound like bathrooms makes all the difference.

Aaron Souppouris

Superhumans and fighting depression

I loved watching Superhumans, our video series about the world's first cyborg games. But it's one of Mona Lalwani's accompanying essays that stayed with me longest. In it, she looked into the lives of two competitors, both left paralyzed by accidents, that were competing in a cycling event thanks to tech.

Another important story came from Jessica Conditt, who reported on a nonprofit organization working to support those in the gaming industry that are living with depression. It's an undercovered, highly stigmatized topic, and Jess' article offers a beacon of hope for those that struggle with mental health issues.

Devindra Hardawar

Foreseeing cyberwarfare

You can trace a direct line from Stuxnet -- the brainchild of the US and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear program -- to Russia's hacking of this year's presidential election. Stuxnet was the first major cyberattack from a nation state, and it led to subsequent attacks from Iran, North Korea and others.

In his most recent documentary, Zero Days, Alex Gibney breaks down the inside story of Stuxnet and why it's necessary for countries to discuss cyberwarfare. I didn't realize it at the time, but my chat with Gibney and Symantec researchers Eric Chien and Liam O'Murchu ended up being my most prescient interview this year.

Mat Smith

The world's crappiest robot

My favorite report was on Hebocon, a competition to find the world's crappiest robot. Held in London, most of the robots were low-tech and poorly-made. One was literally a sex toy on wheels. I laughed, I cried, I took as many photos and gifs as I could.

You should definitely watch our video series on the Cybathlon. Mona and our video team covered the world's fist cyber games in Switzerland, where augmented athletes competed using exoskeletons, arm prosthetics, brain-computer interfaces and more. The competition's purpose was to push the field of bionic-assistive technology to do more for the people who need it -- to drag it forward. I can't wait to see what happens next year, or even five years from now.

Cherlynn Low

Games can make you feel uncomfortable

I joined Engadget in June this year, so really this pick is my favorite from the past six months. In my time here, I've loved every single piece I've written equally -- they're all my children -- so I decided to avoid showing bias by picking someone else's.

I really enjoyed Jess Conditt's amazing piece on What Remains of Edith Finch that drew me in with a compelling headline but that managed to avoid being sensational in its handling of a sensitive topic. I'm a casual gamer and a huge fan of the horror genre, and Jess' story made me really want to check out the game to see if it's as calmly macabre as she describes.

Tim Seppala

Home town props and post-election fallout

My favorite piece to write this year was one where I was able to combine a love of my home state (and Detroit) into a story that touched on the broader implications of an android-filled future (no not Google's Android). Also, it was a nice chance to break away from typical E3 preview coverage, and dig into something a little deeper.

As for the work of my colleagues, Aaron knocked this story about the follow-up to Resogun out of the park. Not just in terms of writing, but also reporting and layout. Not much else needs to be said. Likewise Jess did a great job covering the fascinating connection between earthquake science and predicting elections, and of course, our coverage on the fake news debacle that followed.

Nathan Ingraham

Underground hip-hop and the end of the universe

Jess's feature on the collision of hip-hop and nerd culture is exactly the kind of story I love seeing on Engadget. It's not about gadgets and on its face it isn't a story that screams "technology," but it's a profile of a movement that wouldn't exist without the geek culture that sprung up around technology. I had never heard about or thought about this sort of music before, and any story that opens my eyes a little to something I didn't know about before in such an entertaining way is worth a read.

Nicole Lee

Pink or Bluetooth?

Everything needs to have an app, right? Well, not to me. Back in January at CES, I learned about a Bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test and, well, got a little upset that something so inexorably personal was now part of the "Internet of Things" movement. I thought it was opportunistic and completely unnecessary (even if it does work on smartphones and tablets!). Almost a year later, and I still feel the same way.

Robbie Baldwin

Everything is hacked

The United States is currently up in arms over the possibility that Russia hacked our democratic process. "How could such a thing happen?" I've heard people utter a version of this again and again. The reality is that this is nothing new (just look at the US involvement in Latin America in the 1980s).

During Def Con this year security researcher Chris Rock laid out just how simple it is to undermine the political status quo; regime change no longer requires guns and military. A few well placed articles, some hacked email and/or bank accounts and you're on your way to a bold and frightening new world. AKA 2017.

Christopher Trout

Screw everything

Our editors and producers did some truly thought-provoking work this year. There was Jess Conditt's exploration of AI's limits, Mona Lalwani's in-depth look at the world's first cyborg olympics, Aaron Souppouris' very personal essay about "That Dragon, Cancer," Cherlynn Lowe's first-person exploration of Donald Trump's potential effect on immigration and Daniel Cooper's heartfelt shift to daddy blogging. But I'm shallow and I love to see things fall apart. So 2016 was basically my year.

Our social media expert Nicole Lee took Snapchat to task for its racist filters, Edgar Alvarez called out the Kardashians for pimping products on Instagram, Andrew Tarantola attended a pathetic Pokemon crawl and our managing editor, Dana Wollman, braved the world of smart tampons. All this is to say, please keep fucking up because we do great work when you do.

Oh, and how could I forget the dick bidet. Say it with me: D I C K B I D E T! Happy New Year!

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/31/the-best-of-engadget-2016-editors-picks/

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Buon Anno 2017 dalla redazione di Tecnocino

Si chiude un 2016 che tecnologicamente parlando è stato ricchissimo di novità e si apre un 2017 che probabilmente proseguirà vivendo un po’ di rendita lato social network ma che lato prodotto continuerà a proporci tantissimi nuovi device di cui prendere nota e da valutare. Senza dimenticare l’esplosione della web tv che sarà garanzia di trasformazioni e innovazioni per avere sistemi sempre più performanti, per le tasche di tutti e con numerose offerte su pacchetti e contenuti.

E’ stato un 2016 che ha surclassato gli anni precedenti per gli innumerevoli upgrade forniti sui servizi di messaggistica, Instagram è stato rivoluzionato fino ad arrivare il competitor numero uno di Snapchat, che ha visto smartphone sempre più potenti aumentare la qualità della fotografia in maniera davvero rilevante sia per qualità che per tecnologie utilizzate e che ha sancito le GIF animate come valida alternativa all’utilizzo delle immagini anche nel campo pubblicitario.

Il mondo tech viaggia veloce a volte fin troppo. Ma per chi frequenta le nostre pagine e in generale il tech web è sicuramente abituato, ed, anzi, sarebbe forse sorpreso del contrario.

In attesa dei tanti appuntamenti tech previsti per il 2017 prendiamoci giusto un giorno per fermarci, guardare un pochino indietro, pensare al davanti, e scambiarci gli auguri di Buon Anno con la speranza che la serenità avvolga sempre il nostro cammino.

Qui innanzitutto vi proponiamo (giusto per rimanere in tema) uno spazio dove recuperare delle immagini per whatsapp da utilizzare per inviare gli auguri di buon anno 2017 ad amici e parenti. Qui invece dove recuperare delle GIF animate sempre per regalare un sorriso e gli auguri di buon anno 2017 su whatsapp con una marcia in più.

Da parte di tutta la redazione di Tecnocino invece tantissimi auguri di Buon Anno 2017! Stay tuned!


Article source: http://www.tecnocino.it/2016/12/articolo/buon-anno-2017-dalla-redazione-di-tecnocino/85479/

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NASA’s chief scientist Ellen Stofan leaves the agency

NASA's chief scientist Ellen Stofan is "departing for new adventures" after more than three years in the top advisory position. The planetary geologist, academic and researcher worked with NASA throughout much of the 1990s, returning to the agency in August 2013 for the chief scientist role. In an online exit interview, Stofan said the search for extraterrestrial life is the most exciting scientific endeavor NASA is currently undertaking, whether that eventually be found on Mars, an ocean world like Jupiter's moon Europa, or perhaps one of the many alien planets spotted by the Kepler telescope -- though she admits the geology of Saturn's moon Titan, where it rains methane, fascinates her also.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/30/nasa-chief-scientist-leaves/

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Twitter boss says edit tweet feature is ‘definitely needed’

Dorsey suggested that there are two types of edits Twitter could implement. The first would allow a window, say five minutes, to fix any typos, bad links and other user errors. The other would allow you to make edits anytime, much as you can on Facebook. However, as with Facebook, Twitter would be forced to implement a revision history in that case so that edits don't go "off the public record," Dorsey said.

It might even allow a short window to edit that could further damage trust in the network. By altering tweets, news sites or prominent individuals could slightly changing their context and meaning, for instance. President-elect Trump, for one, considers the site as his own personal "newspaper -- without the losses," he once tweeted. While it's clear when he deletes tweets, many users might not notice if one has been slightly altered.

"Delete is enough. Context changing post-fact is dangerous," user Justyn Howard replied to Dorsey. He added that even short edit windows between 30 seconds and five minutes aren't really needed, since you can just delete and repost a tweet. As for a revision history, he points out that "80 people liked [your tweet]. Which version?"

Other top suggestions were to introduce bookmarks so you could find favorite tweets easier, rather than just using the "like" button, which also effectively endorses the tweet. The other main demand, of course, was to improve safety and reporting options for bullies, something Twitter has been taken to task for many times. In replying to many of those requests, Dorsey called it the company's "top priority."

Twitter is already looking or has previously looked at a lot of the ideas, Dorsey said, and that's the rub of the problem with Twitter in general. It's stuck between pleasing its existing users and trying to attract new ones to a site that's notoriously difficult to grok and potentially dangerous once you get popular. Dorsey was perhaps hoping to see a genius idea that could solve all those problems and finally help make the site profitable -- or saleable.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/30/twitter-boss-says-edit-tweet-feature-is-definitely-needed/

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Sonos alarms are waking users a day early (updated)

As our editor and many others have experienced, deleting the alarms is the only way to make them stop. We'll have to wait for official word on the cause, but alarms set for December 31st going off on December 30th could be a New Year's or Leap Year bug. Back in 2011, Apple had a problem with iPhone alarms not working correctly on January 1st.

For now, rebooting the system won't help and recreating alarms from scratch doesn't fix the problem either. Your best bet is to use another form of audio to wake you up until Sonos is able to remedy the issue -- unless you like having music play in your house that you can't turn off. We've reached out to the company for more info on the issue and we'll update if we get any additional details.

Update: A post on the Sonos support forums explains what's going on. According to John M, the company discovered a bug in its software that pertains to leap year handling. Unfortunately, they can't fix it in time, so until the end of New Year's Day, alarms will continue to have issues. For now, the recommendation is to disable existing alarms (info on how to set/change alarms is here), and John says there will be a fix included in a future update to keep this from happening again.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/30/sonos-alarm-bug/

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