Wikileaks offers tech giants access to sourcecode for CIA Vault 7 exploits

Wikileaks' seismic Vault 7 release didn't follow the usual Wikileaks procedure: perhaps in response to earlier criticism, the organization redacted many of the files prior to their release, cutting names of CIA operatives and the sourcecode for the cyber-weapons the CIA had developed, which exploit widely used mobile devices, embedded systems, and operating systems. Read the rest

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other tech firms donated cash and services to Trump inauguration

Technology companies including Amazon, Google and Microsoft donated considerable amounts of both cash and technical services for the ceremonies and events around the inauguration and swearing in of President Donald Trump, according to reports making the internet rounds on Tuesday night.

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With Windows 10, Microsoft doubles down on forced updates and reboots (save your work!)

Windows 10 takes one of the most hated aspects of Microsoft operating systems -- forced, sudden software updates and reboots -- and elevates them to a sadistic art, with Win 10 machines suddenly announcing that it's update time and rendering themselves inoperable for up to an hour, wiping out unsaved work and locking users out of their computers while they're onstage, or in the middle of large file uploads, or livecasting, or completing a live test for college admission, taking notes during an interview, etc. Read the rest

Watercooler won't dispense until it finishes updating Windows

Intel Director of Incident Response Jackie Stokes has captured the entirety of 2017 in a single image: a watercooler that won't dispense water until it has installed a Windows upgrade (caption: "I just wanted some water..."). Read the rest

If MacOS is a path through the gloomy forest, Windows 10 is a carnival in an open field

Joel Johnson reviews the MacOS vs Windows situation as it stands after Apple's disappointing new MacBook Pro. Like a lot of people needing capable laptops, he's switched back to Windows, and finds himself torn between two startlingly opposite visions of the computing experience.

Whereas MacOS is simple and powerful, "a path through a gloomy forest" hand-in-hand with a mentoring but controlling Apple...

Windows is a carnival in an open field staffed by drunk orphans. You can approach it from any direction, pulling a cart you first loaded up in 1998. There are signs posted everywhere, telling you a dozen ways to move forward. “TOUCH THE AMAZING SCREEN!” “BEND THE HINGES … ON A LAPTOP!” “SEE THE PEN! IT WORKS NOW!” “DARE YOU SAMPLE THE DELIGHTS OF THE CLOUD?”

I suspect this article was actually supposed to be a review of Microsoft's Surface Book but it's all like that. Read the rest

For two years, criminals stole sensitive information using malware hidden in individual pixels of ad banners

Eset's report on Stegano, a newly discovered exploit kit, reveals an insanely clever, paranoid, and devastatingly effective technique used by criminals to infect their victims' computers by hiding malicious code in plain sight on websites that accepted their innocuous-seeming banner ads. Read the rest

Blade Runner drawn in Microsoft Paint

David MacGowan is recreating Blade Runner shot-by-shot as Microsoft Paint illustrations. He tells Motherboard:

I like the idea of having a blog but basically feel as if I have very little to say about things, at least things that are original or interesting. I gravitated to Tumblr with some idea of just posting pictures, but still felt I needed to be posting something I'd actually made myself... [Y]ears ago I used to draw really crappy basic MS Paint pics for a favourite pop group's fan site, and they always seemed to raise a smile. The idea of doing something else with MS Paint, a kind of celebration of my not being deterred by lack of artistic talent, never really went away....

I don't really think about giving up. The idea of actually completing something I start out to do (for once in my life) is very appealing,And it's fun, it's not a chore.

MSP Blade Runner

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The Xbox Onesie is a kigurumi for gamer astronauts

Microsoft has announced an Xbox Onesie that looks like a cuddly spacesuit, and comes with pockets sized to fit game-controllers, forearm grips to prevent slippage at key moments, and roomy hoods that can accommodate enclosed gamer headsets. Read the rest

Illegal "Warranty Void If Removed" still ubiquitous: they're on the Xbox One S

The tamper-evident "Warrant Void If Removed" stickers violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which allows device owners to take their gadgets for service at independent depots without voiding their warranties. Read the rest

Microsoft will buy Linkedin for $26.2B

The all-cash deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, and will be one of the largest acquisitions in tech business history. Read the rest

Amid education funding emergency, Washington State gives Boeing, Microsoft $1B in tax breaks

Jeff writes, "Combined, Washington State is providing Microsoft and Boeing $1 billion annually in tax breaks. Cumulatively, Microsoft's state tax has saved its shareholders $8.6 billion in costs. While the company quietly surpassed $1 trillion in all time revenue, its home state faces emergencies in education funding, homelessness, heroin addiction and escalating crime." Read the rest

Microsoft sues US government for the right to tell you when the feds are reading your email

“We appreciate that there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.”

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Microsoft video shows how a blind software engineer uses AI to 'see' the world

Meet Saqib, a Microsoft dev in London who lost the use of his eyes at age 7. Here's a neat little profile of his artificial intelligence development work from Microsoft Cognitive Services:

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Microsoft's neo-nazi chat bot rides again

"Tay," Microsoft's attempt at creating an artificial millennial, returned to twitter. Nothing that chatbot said helped Microsoft's situation, and the world should question if this technology giant is allowed to continue mucking around with artificial life.

Via Ars Technica:

Microsoft today accidentally re-activated "Tay," its Hitler-loving Twitter chatbot, only to be forced to kill her off for the second time in a week.

Tay "went on a spam tirade and then quickly fell silent again," TechCrunch reported this morning. "Most of the new messages from the millennial-mimicking character simply read 'you are too fast, please take a rest,'" according to the The Financial Times. "But other tweets included swear words and apparently apologetic phrases such as 'I blame it on the alcohol.'"

The new tirade reportedly began around 3 a.m. ET. Tay's account, with 95,100 tweets and 213,000 followers, is now marked private. "Tay remains offline while we make adjustments," Microsoft told several media outlets today. "As part of testing, she was inadvertently activated on Twitter for a brief period of time."

Microsoft has apologized. Read the rest

Jerks were able to turn Microsoft's chatbot into a Nazi because it was a really crappy bot

Microsoft Research deployed a tween-simulating chatbot this week, only to recall it a few hours later because it had turned into a neo-Nazi, and the next day, they published a bewildered apology that expressed shock that it had been so easy for trolls to corrupt their creation. Read the rest

After Tay's very public crazy racist Nazi sexbot breakdown, Microsoft's like, 'Tay-a culpa, guys'

Learning from Tay’s introduction,” a blog post dated March 25, 2016 by Microsoft Research Corporate VP Peter Lee:

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Minecraft to become AI testbed

Microsoft plans to turn Minecraft into a test suite for artificial intelligence research, reports the BBC. As a simplified but all-encompassing model of the world, it's perfect for tutoring 'bots.

…Microsoft suggests the open-ended nature of Minecraft makes it particularly useful because of the huge variety of situations it can simulate from first-person perspectives.

"It allows you to have 'embodied AI'," explained Matthew Johnson, the principal software engineer working on AIX.

"So, rather than have a situation where the AI sees an avatar of itself, it can actually be inside, looking out through the eyes of something that is living in the world.

"We think this is an essential part of building this kind of general intelligence."

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