Facebook and Oculus had their big confab this week and they're focusing on Augmented Reality, which will bring virtual elements into the real world through a headset that shows you the real world, with virtual elements overlaid on it. Leo says that Facebook is looking to that because they are aware that everyone is getting into VR and they are worried about losing their edge in the genre. So look for Facebook to add AR to Oculus VR. Facebook is also going to add vanishing messages to Instagram in an effort to bury Snapchat since they couldn't buy them.
This Week in Tech News
Leo got the Samsung Galaxy S8 this week and it has a 6.2" screen, but it's a bit weird because of its aspect ratio. Like the iPhone 5 which had a tall, narrow screen, the S8 is doing the same thing to make it tall and larger without being wider. The edge is more aesthetic and has less usable area as before. It is "bezel-less" now, so the image goes edge to edge making it look larger without being wider. It's not the same camera as the S7 – it's extremely nice with an upgraded sensor.
With most of its money stashed in Irish banks, Apple's $246 Billion is tucked safely away from the US Tax Code. So much so, that they've created a separate Irish subsidiary which then licenses Apple's own intellectual property back to Cupertino. It's all the same corporation, mind you, but it enables them to avoid taxes in the US. And it's completely legal. They have more money in the bank than the GDP in Sri Lanka, and the 13th largest country in the world, if it were a country.
T-Mobile may be #4 in the cellular game, but they walked away a big winner in the recent FCC Spectrum 600MHz auction, paying nearly 8 billion dollars for the nationwide rights to that band. Although phones don't operate in the spectrum yet, they will be rolled out by year's end. Then T-Mobile will offer 4G LTE services in that market. Comcast also bought some, signaling they are planning to get into the mobile business. The rest were split between AT&T and US Cellular.
Hackers have been stealing people's information, filing their returns, and getting the refund. Last year, the IRS noticed that the FAFSA online system could get enough personal information that it could be used by hackers. In October, the IRS sent a memo to the Department of Education saying that the system could be abused. But because up to 15 million people used the system out of convenience, they kept it online. In February, the IRS noticed a pattern of fraudulent activity, and shut it down last month.
A year ago, a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers claimed it had a treasure trove of NSA hacking tools that they would sell to the highest bidder. They asked for $7 million in Bitcoin, but didn't get any bids. They've now released the catalog of documents, which means it's a very busy day for security researchers. While these documents are old, they're still very interesting.
An article at MacRumors says that "constant negativity" from pros over the TouchBar on the MacBook Pro, as well as complaints on the Mac Pro tower prompted Apple to rethink the design of the pro Mac platform. But let's be real here. They're not planning to release it until at least 2019.
Microsoft is going to start rolling out the Creators Update to Windows 10 starting April 11. This won't be a massive change in terms of how it looks, but there will be a considerable amount of new features. While last year's Anniversary Update was a problem for some people, Microsoft has fixed those bugs over time. Leo's not counting on it being quite reliable, but it is still good advice that if you get offered the Creator's Update on April 11, you may want to wait. You should be able to defer the update for as long as you can.
We're familiar with DDoS attacks, which are "Distributed Denial of Service" attacks, but there's a new form of attack that's been happening online lately. It's called PDoS, or "Permanent Denial of Service," which actually bricks the device, destroying it permanently. The rationale is that if these devices weren't bricked, someone else would use it for a DDoS attack.
Microsoft Announced their new Scorpio Game Console, which will be faster, stronger, more powerful, and vapor cooled! It will be capable of over a trillion floating point operations per second. It has a graphics processing unit with 40 units clocked at 1.1Ghz. It has an 8-core processor. 12GB of DDR5 RAM with 8GB for games, and 4GB for background processes. Leo says it's more powerful than any computer you've likely had in the house. Microsoft is promising 4K, but have stopped short of saying it will play at 60fps.