Apple's iPod Came Out Two Decades Ago

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Conversation: On October 23, 2001, Apple released the iPod — a portable media player that promised to overshadow the clunky design and low storage capacity of MP3 players introduced in the mid-1990s. The iPod boasted the ability to “hold 1,000 songs in your pocket”. Its personalized listening format revolutionized the way we consume music. And with more than 400 million units sold since its release, there’s no doubt it was a success. Yet, two decades later, the digital music landscape continues to rapidly evolve.

The iPod expanded listening beyond the constraints of the home stereo system, allowing the user to plug into not only their headphones, but also their car radio, their computer at work, or their hi-fi system at home. It made it easier to entwine these disparate spaces into a single personalized soundtrack throughout the day. […] The rise of touchscreen smartphones ultimately led to the iPod’s downfall. Interestingly, the music app on the original iPhone was called “iPod.” The iPod’s functions were essentially reappropriated and absorbed into the iPhone. The iPhone was a flexible and multifunctional device: an iPod, a phone and an internet communicator all in one — a computer in your pocket. And by making the development tools for their products freely available, Apple and Google allowed third-party developers to create apps for their new platforms in the thousands.

As of this year, mobile devices are responsible for 54.8% of web traffic worldwide. And while music piracy still exists, its influence has been significantly reduced by the arrival of streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube. These platforms have had a profound effect on how we engage with music as active and passive listeners. Spotify supports an online community-based approach to music sharing, with curated playlists. […] As of February this year, more than 60,000 tracks were being uploaded to Spotify each day. The experience of listening to music will become increasingly immersive with time, and we’ll only find more ways to seamlessly integrate it into our lives.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple’s iPod Came Out Two Decades Ago

US Regulators Exploring How Banks Could Hold Crypto Assets

A top U.S. bank regulator said U.S. officials are looking to provide a clearer path for banks and their clients that are looking to hold cryptocurrencies, in order to keep control over the fast-developing asset. Reuters reports: Jelena McWilliams, who chairs the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, told Reuters in an interview on Monday that a team of U.S. bank regulators is trying to provide a roadmap for banks to engage with crypto assets. That could include clearer rules over holding cryptocurrency in custody to facilitate client trading, using them as collateral for loans, or even holding them on their balance sheets like more traditional assets.

“I think that we need to allow banks in this space, while appropriately managing and mitigating risk,” she said in an interview on the sidelines of a fintech conference. “If we don’t bring this activity inside the banks, it is going to develop outside of the banks. … The federal regulators won’t be able to regulate it.” McWilliams’ comments provide the fullest picture yet of what regulators are exploring as part of a cryptocurrency “sprint” team first announced in May. The goal of the team was to ensure cryptocurrency policy coordination among the three main U.S. bank regulators – FDIC, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

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Source: Slashdot – US Regulators Exploring How Banks Could Hold Crypto Assets

Adobe Brings New Creative Cloud Apps To M1 Macs and The Web

During Adobe Max 2021 today, the company announced new features for Creative Cloud’s various iPad apps, two more applications running natively on Apple Silicon Macs, and new web versions of some apps, among other things. Ars Technica reports: Adobe said it is adding or improving AI-driven tools across the suite, including an updated Object Selection Tool for Photoshop on Desktop. And some AI tools previously seen in Photoshop, like the Sky Replacement tool, are headed to Lightroom on Mac, iPad, and iPhone for the first time. The iPad version of Photoshop will gain support for RAW images and is getting several new tools and the ability to convert layers into Smart Objects. Illustrator for iPad is getting some improvements, too, most notably the ability to vectorize images and track version history and revert to earlier iterations. Further, After Effects and InDesign are getting Apple Silicon support on recent Macs.

It’s not all about native applications, though — Adobe announced this week that it will bring versions of Photoshop and Illustrator to the web. The web versions won’t be as robust as the desktop versions, but they will let you make minor edits and provide a way to share and discuss work with colleagues or clients. The apps will allow users to review work and leave comments without launching a native version of Photoshop — think of it a bit like a stripped-down version of InVision that exists directly inside the Creative Cloud ecosystem. Adobe also said it’s launching a system built into Photoshop that can, among other things, “help prove that the person selling an NFT is the person who made it,” reports The Verge. “It’s called Content Credentials, and NFT sellers will be able to link the Adobe ID with their crypto wallet, allowing compatible NFT marketplaces to show a sort of verified certificate proving the art’s source is authentic.”

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Source: Slashdot – Adobe Brings New Creative Cloud Apps To M1 Macs and The Web

Apple's Privacy Rules to Blame For Facebook's Lower Than Expected Quarterly Growth, Says Zuckerberg

Apple’s privacy rules are “negatively affecting” Facebook, and its business, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed during its most recent earnings call. MacRumors reports: As a quick refresher, starting with iOS 14.5 and all newer versions of iOS and iPadOS, Apple requires that apps ask for users’ permission to track them across other apps and websites. Under the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, the latest change gives users a choice on whether they wish to be tracked for ads or other purposes. […] Continuing on its anti-Apple’s privacy rules campaign, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quick to blame Apple for his company’s lower than expected growth in the third quarter of the year. Kicking off the earnings call, Zuckerberg said Apple is “negatively affecting” Facebook but that he believes the company will be able to “navigate” the challenges Apple is presenting thanks to its long-term investments.

“As expected, we did experience revenue headwinds this quarter, including from Apple’s changes that are not only negatively affecting our business, but millions of small businesses in what is already a difficult time for them in the economy. Sheryl and Dave will talk about this more later, but the bottom line is we expect we’ll be able to navigate these headwinds over time with investments that we’re already making today.” While Zuckerberg and the Facebook executive team hold Apple’s changes accountable for this quarter’s performance, it may also be an asset. Zuckerberg has in the past stated that ATT could ultimately help Facebook, and it’s a sentiment he again repeated during the earning’s call. Apple’s changes, according to Zuckerberg, are making “e-commerce and customer acquisition less effective on the web.” Still, Facebook could benefit from the lessened effectiveness as “solutions that allow businesses to set up shop right inside our apps will become increasingly attractive,” Zuckerberg added.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, also criticized Apple and its privacy rules, going as far as to claim that the new rules are negatively impacting Facebook while benefiting Apple’s own advertising business: “We’ve been open about the fact that there were headwinds coming — and we’ve experienced that in Q3. The biggest is the impact of Apple’s iOS14 changes, which have created headwinds for others in the industry as well, major challenges for small businesses, and advantaged Apple’s own advertising business.” Despite Facebook facing an avalanche of pressure amid leaked internal documents and scrutiny, Sandberg pointed the finger at Apple for Facebook’s lackluster performance this quarter. “Overall, if it wasn’t for Apple’s iOS 14 changes, we would have seen positive quarter-over-quarter revenue growth,” Sandberg said.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple’s Privacy Rules to Blame For Facebook’s Lower Than Expected Quarterly Growth, Says Zuckerberg

The 'Dune' Screenplay Was Written In MS-DOS

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Oscar winning Dune screenwriter Eric Roth banged out the screenplay using the MS-DOS program Movie Master. Roth writes everything using the 30-year-old software. “I work on an old computer program that’s not in existence anymore,” Roth said in an interview in 2014. “It’s half superstition and half fear of change.” Roth wrote the screenplay for Dune in 2018 and explained he was still using Movie Master on a Barstool Sports podcast in 2020. That means Dune was written in an MS-DOS program.

In the video, he pulled up a DOS window in Windows XP and booted up Movie Master 3.09 on an ancient beige mechanical keyboard. “So now I’m in DOS. Nobody can get on the internet and get this,” Roth said. “I have to give them a hard copy. They have to scan it and then put it in their computers and then I have to work through their computer because you can’t even email mine or anything. You can’t get to it except where it is. It has 40 pages and it runs out of memory.” […] Roth also said the 40 page limit helps him structure his screenplays.”I like it because it makes acts,” he said. “I realize if I hadn’t said it in 40 pages I’m starting to get in trouble.” Another writer to use MS-DOS is George RR Martin, notes Motherboard. He apparently used MS-DOS program WordStar “to slowly write ever single Game of Thrones book.”

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Source: Slashdot – The ‘Dune’ Screenplay Was Written In MS-DOS

TikTok Tells US Lawmakers It Does Not Give Info To China

During the company’s first appearance at a U.S. congressional hearing, TikTok executive Michael Beckerman said it does not give information to the Chinese government and has sought to safeguard U.S. data. Reuters reports: Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, became the company’s first executive to appear before Congress, testifying to a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. Republicans in particular pressed Beckerman on worries regarding TikTok’s stewardship of data on the app’s users. Senator Marsha Blackburn, the panel’s top Republican, said she is concerned about TikTok’s data collection, including audio and a user’s location, and the potential for the Chinese government to gain access to the information. Blackburn questioned Beckerman on whether TikTok could resist giving data to China’s government if material were to be demanded. “We do not share information with the Chinese government,” Beckerman responded.

Under questioning by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, Beckerman said that TikTok has “no affiliation” with Beijing ByteDance Technology, a ByteDance entity at which the Chinese government took a stake and a board seat this year. Beckerman also testified that TikTok’s U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with backups in Singapore. “We have a world-renowned U.S. based security team that handles access,” Beckerman said. Republican Senator John Thune said TikTok is perhaps more driven by content algorithms than even Facebook, as the app is famous for quickly learning what users find interesting and offering them those types of videos. Beckerman said TikTok would be willing to provide the app’s algorithm moderation policies in order for the Senate panel to have it reviewed by independent experts.

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Source: Slashdot – TikTok Tells US Lawmakers It Does Not Give Info To China

Microsoft Is Force Installing PC Health Check In Windows 10

Microsoft has begun force installing the PC Health Check application on Windows 10 devices using a new KB5005463 update. BleepingComputer reports: PC Health Check is a new diagnostics tool created by Microsoft and released in conjunction with Windows 11 that provides various troubleshooting and maintenance features. However, its primary use has been to analyze a device’s hardware to check if it’s compatible with Windows 11. Microsoft says that users who do not want PC Health Check on their system can simply uninstall it using the Settings app. However, readers have told BleepingComputer that they have had to uninstall the application numerous times as the applications keep being reinstalled on the next check for updates. To make matters worse, when attempting to uninstall KB5005463, Windows 10 states that the update is not installed, when that is clearly untrue […]. BleepingComputer has found a way to block the update from installing PC Health Check on your computer for those who do not want the application installed.

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Source: Slashdot – Microsoft Is Force Installing PC Health Check In Windows 10

FBI Raids Chinese Point-of-Sale Giant PAX Technology

An anonymous reader quotes a report from KrebsOnSecurity: U.S. federal investigators today raided the Florida offices of PAX Technology, a Chinese provider of point-of-sale devices used by millions of businesses and retailers globally. KrebsOnSecurity has learned the raid is tied to reports that PAX’s systems may have been involved in cyberattacks on U.S. and E.U. organizations. Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, PAX Technology Inc. has more than 60 million point-of-sale terminals in use throughout 120 countries. Earlier today, Jacksonville, Fla. based WOKV.com reported that agents with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had raided a local PAX Technology warehouse. In an official statement, investigators told WOKV only that they were executing a court-authorized search at the warehouse as a part of a federal investigation, and that the inquiry included the Department of Customs and Border Protection and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS).
Several days ago, KrebsOnSecurity heard from a trusted source that the FBI began investigating PAX after a major U.S. payment processor started asking questions about unusual network packets originating from the company’s payment terminals. According to that source, the payment processor found that the PAX terminals were being used both as a malware “dropper” — a repository for malicious files — and as “command-and-control” locations for staging attacks and collecting information. The source said two major financial providers — one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom — had already begun pulling PAX terminals from their payment infrastructure, a claim that was verified by two different sources. The source was unable to share specific details about the strange network activity that prompted the FBI’s investigation. But it should be noted that point-of-sale terminals and the technology that supports them are perennial targets of cybercriminals.

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Source: Slashdot – FBI Raids Chinese Point-of-Sale Giant PAX Technology

Photoshop Will Get a 'Prepare as NFT' Option Soon

Adobe is launching a system built into Photoshop that can, among other things, help prove that the person selling an NFT is the person who made it. It’s called Content Credentials, and NFT sellers will be able to link the Adobe ID with their crypto wallet, allowing compatible NFT marketplaces to show a sort of verified certificate proving the art’s source is authentic. From a report: According to a Decoder interview with Adobe’s chief product officer Scott Belsky, this functionality will be built into Photoshop with a “prepare as NFT” option, launching in preview by the end of this month. Belsky says attribution data created by the Content Credentials will live on an IPFS system. IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) is a decentralized way to host files where a network of people are responsible for keeping data safe and available, rather than a single company (somewhat similar to how torrent systems work). Adobe says that NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, Rarible, KnownOrigin, and SuperRare will be able to integrate with Content Credentials to show Adobe’s attribution information.

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Source: Slashdot – Photoshop Will Get a ‘Prepare as NFT’ Option Soon

150 People Arrested in International Darknet Opioid Probe

Some 150 people were arrested worldwide and more than $31.6 million in cash and virtual currencies were seized during a 10-month international investigation into opioid trafficking through darknet marketplaces, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. From a report: The massive probe, called “Operation Dark HunTor,” spanned three continents and led to the recovery of about 234 kilograms (over 500 pounds) of illegal drugs, including enough fentanyl to cause more than 4 million lethal doses, according to deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco. A darknet is encrypted online content that can only be accessed with specific browsers and is primarily used to purchase or sell illegal goods or services, especially illegal drugs. 65 people were arrested in the United States, one in Bulgaria, three in France, 47 in Germany, four in the Netherlands, 24 in the United Kingdom, four in Italy and two in Switzerland. Prosecutors allege the suspects were responsible for tens of thousands of illegal sales across the U.S., Europe and Australia.

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Source: Slashdot – 150 People Arrested in International Darknet Opioid Probe

AT&T's Confusing 5G Plus Expansion Confirms T-Mobile Was Right All Along

AT&T’s new 5G Plus expansion gives T-Mobile the perfect “I told you so” moment. From a report: AT&T currently offers two “flavors” of 5G: 5G Plus over the high-band mmWave spectrum and regular 5G, which is comparable to 4G LTE. Now, a blog post details that AT&T is bolstering 5G Plus with the mid-band C-band spectrum in 2022 — a concept that T-Mobile has been preaching for years. Former T-Mobile CEO John Legere slammed AT&T for not having a mid-band spectrum in 2019, stating that 5G needs a low-band, mid-band, and high-band spectrum to work efficiently. This is because that high-band mmWave 5G offers the fastest speeds over shorter distances, making it best for highly concentrated areas. Conversely, low-band 5G provides the bare minimum for speed over wider areas. Offering 5G service with no in-between isn’t ideal — a mid-band range serves as the median between both spectrums.

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Source: Slashdot – AT&T’s Confusing 5G Plus Expansion Confirms T-Mobile Was Right All Along

'Dune' Sequel Greenlit by Legendary and Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve will get the chance to create the second film of his planned two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. said Tuesday. From a report: The news comes after Villeneuve’s “Dune” tallied $41 million at the domestic box office during its debut over the weekend, a solid haul considering the film also launched on HBO Max Friday. Globally, the film hauled in $220 million. While Warner Bros. seemed keen to greenlight a second film for Villeneuve, Legendary owns the cinematic rights to the novel and had to be onboard in order to continue the story on the big screen. The second film is expected to follow Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) as he joins the Fremen and works to bring peace to the desert planet of Arrakis. “Dune: Part Two” will debut on Oct. 20, 2023.

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Source: Slashdot – ‘Dune’ Sequel Greenlit by Legendary and Warner Bros.

Astronomers Spot First Possible Exoplanet Outside Our Galaxy

A possible Saturn-sized planet identified in the distant Whirlpool Galaxy could be the first exoplanet to be detected outside the Milky Way. From a report: The exoplanet candidate appears to be orbiting an X-ray binary — made up of a normal star and a collapsed star or black hole — with its distance from this binary roughly equivalent to the distance of Uranus from the sun. The discovery opens up a new window to search for exoplanets — planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun — at greater distances than ever before. Although nearly 5,000 exoplanets have been detected so far, all of them are in the Milky Way galaxy — with few further than about 3,000 light years from Earth.

An exoplanet in the spiral Messier 51 (M51) galaxy — also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive shape — would be about 28m light years away. Dr Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian in Cambridge, US, who led the research, said: “Since the 1750s, it has been conjectured that the dim distant nebulas, now called galaxies, are island universes: large, gravitationally-bound stellar populations similar to our home, the Milky Way. Our discovery of the planet candidate … gives us the first peek into external populations of planetary systems, extending the reach of planet searches to distances roughly 10,000 times more distant.”

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Source: Slashdot – Astronomers Spot First Possible Exoplanet Outside Our Galaxy

Tech's Message To the Hill: We're Not Facebook

TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat will appear before Congress Tuesday with a key priority: distinguishing their practices from Facebook’s. From a report: Facebook is under attack, and its tech peers don’t want to get caught in the crossfire as lawmakers mull legislation to rein in the company. At the hearing before the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee, representatives from TikTok, YouTube and Snap will focus on ways their services differ from Facebook and Instagram and measures they’ve already put in place to protect children.

TikTok’s Michael Beckerman, vice president and head of public policy, will highlight proactive safety moves the company has made, including disabling direct messages for users under 16. Snap’s Jennifer Stout, vice president of global public policy, will note that the company was designed to avoid some of the toxicity of social media platforms and uses human moderation for creator posts that will reach more than 25 users. YouTube’s Leslie Miller, vice president of government affairs and public policy, will point out that the company already has designed different services and products for younger users, including YouTube Kids, Made for Kids and Supervised Experiences.

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Source: Slashdot – Tech’s Message To the Hill: We’re Not Facebook

Facebook Says It's Refocusing Company on 'Serving Young Adults'

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he’s redirected teams within his company to “make serving young adults their north star.” The comment, made on a call with investors this afternoon, speaks to Facebooks’ concerns about declining usage among teens and young adults. From a report: “So much of our services have gotten dialed to be the best for the most people who use them, rather than specifically for young adults,” Zuckerberg said. He suggested the change will be more than just lip service. Facebook usage among older users will grow slower than it otherwise would have because of the changes, Zuckerberg said. Even with those tradeoffs, he said, “I think it’s the right approach.” Zuckerberg expects the changes to take years. One of the more immediate shifts could be to Instagram, which he says will see “significant changes” to lean further into video and make Reels “a more central part of the experience.”

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Source: Slashdot – Facebook Says It’s Refocusing Company on ‘Serving Young Adults’

Biden Appoints Jessica Rosenworcel To Officially Lead the FCC

President Joe Biden named acting Federal Communications Commissioner Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to officially head the agency on Tuesday, propping her up as the administration’s leader to tackle broadband expansion and net neutrality. Biden also nominated progressive advocate Gigi Sohn as the third Democrat for the bench. From a report: The decision comes late into Biden’s term, beating out both former presidents Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon who nominated their FCC chairs well into September of their first years. If confirmed by the Senate before December, the FCC’s 2-2 deadlock would end and provide Democrats with a majority to push forward Biden’s telecom agenda. But it’s unclear if senators plan to move on Rosenworcel and Sohn’s confirmations before the end of the year. Without a majority, current Democratic commissioners Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks have their hands tied when it comes to implementing Biden’s agenda. In July, Biden signed an executive order urging the FCC to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules and to take up other measures to promote broadband competition, including requiring companies to provide transparency into pricing.

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Source: Slashdot – Biden Appoints Jessica Rosenworcel To Officially Lead the FCC

Amazon Joins Race for Quantum Computer With New Caltech Center

Amazon is officially entering the race to develop a quantum computer, joining U.S. and Chinese rivals in the quest to harness the properties of nature’s tiniest particles into computing power far surpassing existing machines. From a report: Amazon will base its quantum team at a new center on the campus of Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., which officially opens this week. Caltech described it as the first “corporate-partnership building” on the university’s campus, showing “Caltech’s interests in bringing fundamental science to the marketplace.” The investment reflects growing corporate interest in quantum computers, which are still at an early stage of development but could someday crack problems that existing computers can’t, such as identifying new materials to capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or new chemical compounds to treat intractable diseases. In the defense sphere, some scientists believe quantum computers might someday be able to break existing forms of encryption, making them a hot development priority for the United States, China and other nations.

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Source: Slashdot – Amazon Joins Race for Quantum Computer With New Caltech Center

Amazon is Building a Clubhouse Competitor That Turns Hosts Into DJs

Amazon is next on the list of companies getting into the live audio game. The company is building a new app, codenamed “Project Mic,” that gives anyone the ability to make and distribute a live radio show, complete with music, according to a presentation viewed by The Verge. From a report: This project’s big goal is to democratize and reinvent the radio. The app will be focused on the US initially. Listeners will be able to tune in through the app, as well as through Audible, Amazon Music, Twitch, and Alexa-equipped devices. With the Alexa devices, listeners will be able to interact with shows using just their voice. The app experience will also be optimized for the car, playing into Amazon’s idea of trying to reinvent radio. A mockup app image viewed by The Verge depicts a screen listing shows that are currently live; trending topics, like #NBA or #hot100; and featured creators. Users will also be able to search for content by topic, name, or music.

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Source: Slashdot – Amazon is Building a Clubhouse Competitor That Turns Hosts Into DJs

AnandTech Reviews Apple's M1 Pro and M1 Max Chips

AnandTech reviews the recently unveiled M1 Pro and M1 Max chips : The M1 Pro and M1 Max change the narrative completely — these designs feel like truly SoCs that have been made with power users in mind, with Apple increasing the performance metrics in all vectors. We expected large performance jumps, but we didn’t expect the some of the monstrous increases that the new chips are able to achieve. On the CPU side, doubling up on the performance cores is an evident way to increase performance — the competition also does so with some of their designs. How Apple does it differently, is that it not only scaled the CPU cores, but everything surrounding them. It’s not just 4 additional performance cores, it’s a whole new performance cluster with its own L2. On the memory side, Apple has scaled its memory subsystem to never before seen dimensions, and this allows the M1 Pro & Max to achieve performance figures that simply weren’t even considered possible in a laptop chip. The chips here aren’t only able to outclass any competitor laptop design, but also competes against the best desktop systems out there, you’d have to bring out server-class hardware to get ahead of the M1 Max — it’s just generally absurd.

On the GPU side of things, Apple’s gains are also straightforward. The M1 Pro is essentially 2x the M1, and the M1 Max is 4x the M1 in terms of performance. Games are still in a very weird place for macOS and the ecosystem, maybe it’s a chicken-and-egg situation, maybe gaming is still something of a niche that will take a long time to see make use of the performance the new chips are able to provide in terms of GPU. What’s clearer, is that the new GPU does allow immense leaps in performance for content creation and productivity workloads which rely on GPU acceleration. To further improve content creation, the new media engine is a key feature of the chip. Particularly video editors working with ProRes or ProRes RAW, will see a many-fold improvement in their workflow as the new chips can handle the formats like a breeze — this along is likely going to have many users of that professional background quickly adopt the new MacBook Pro’s. For others, it seems that Apple knows the typical MacBook Pro power users, and has designed the silicon around the use-cases in which Macs do shine. The combination of raw performance, unique acceleration, as well as sheer power efficiency, is something that you just cannot find in any other platform right now, likely making the new MacBook Pro’s not just the best laptops, but outright the very best devices for the task. It’s a comprehensive review, and Intel should be panicking.

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Source: Slashdot – AnandTech Reviews Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max Chips

Amazon Brings Alexa To Hospitals and Senior Living Centers

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After already targeting verticals like hotels and apartment complexes, Amazon announced today it’s now rolling out new solutions for healthcare providers and senior living centers. The solutions, which are a part of Alexa Smart Properties, are designed specifically to meet the needs of deploying Alexa devices at scale and will allow the facility’s administrators to create customized experiences for their residents or patients. In senior living centers, the residents would be able to use Alexa devices to call their family members and other loved ones, as well as keep up with the goings-on at their community and other community news. The devices could also be used to make announcements, allow the residents to communicate with each other through direct audio messages and make voice and video calls, and they can streamline other center activities — like check-ins, maintenance requests and various administrative tasks. Amazon believes this could help make facilities more efficient and productive. Amazon says senior living communities include Atria and Eskaton will integrate with its new solution.

With Amazon’s new solution for hospitals, patients will be able to use Alexa to communicate with care staff, control the devices in their room, and stay entertained with news and music. Healthcare providers can also communicate with their patients using Alexa features like calling and Drop-In, without having to enter the patient rooms. This could also help hospitals be more productive and conserve their medical supplies and protective equipment like gloves, masks and gowns, notes Amazon. (PPE shortages had been an ongoing issue in some locations as COVID spiked during the pandemic.) Though Amazon has struggled with privacy issues related to its use of voice recordings and transcriptions, the healthcare and senior living center solutions will not save the voice recordings and don’t require users to share personal info with Alexa to use the device, the company explains. Users can also mute the Echo’s microphone at any time with the button on top. Amazon also claims it safeguards protected health information received through HIPAA-eligible Alexa skill interactions. Both of the new Alexa Smart Properties solutions will roll out in the U.S. starting next month, Amazon says.

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Source: Slashdot – Amazon Brings Alexa To Hospitals and Senior Living Centers