Microsoft's Surface Go is... go

When I'm away from home, I hate carrying my laptop. There's not enough room to use it in coach seating on an airplane and it weighs more than I care to haul around during a press junket. Typically, I pack my 9.7" iPad Pro, instead. It's great for editing photos with, but as a text generation and editing machine, has its flaws as well: Any keyboard case I use with it proves too damn small for me to reliably type on and that it won't work with a mouse or trackpad really slows my workflow down. I've been looking for something that can stradle both worlds--the portability of a lightweight tablet with the ease of use that a mouse can bring to the party--for some time now. My main work machine is a Mac, but I use Windows 10 on a regular basis, as well.

As such, I've got my fingers crossed that Microsoft's Surface Go will be the low-cost, juuuuuust good enough work machine that I've been looking for.

From The Verge:

It has a 3:2 aspect ratio display (1800 x 1200 pixel resolution), the signature built-in kickstand with unlimited positions, a front-facing camera with facial recognition login, and Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connector port for charging and connecting to a desktop dock. Microsoft has added a USB-C 3.1 port, capable of charging the tablet or outputting video and data to external devices. It has also rounded the corners a bit compared to the latest Surface Pro, but overall, it’s the same familiar magnesium design Surface users have come to expect.

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Microsoft CEO: don't worry, we're mostly helping the parts of ICE that don't involve kidnapping children

As Microsoft employees grow increasingly furious that their employer is a key technology provider to ICE, providing, among other things, facial recognition software, the company is responding, conscious of the possibility of a repeat of Google's showdown with its employees over the provision of AI for drone warfare systems. Read the rest

Microsoft employees pissed over company's connection to ICE

Back in January, Microsoft announced that they were "proud" to support ICE. Honestly, what company wouldn't be? A U.S. federal contract, no matter how large your coffers and corporate reach might be, is a good get, due both to the amount of American lucre you'll pocket and the visuals that come from being trusted by one of the most powerful countries in the world to meet their cloud computing needs.

But hey: it isn't January anymore and Microsoft in June, 2018 is looking a little bit like IBM back in the 1930s.

Under the Trump Administration's direction, ICE and other Homeland Security entities have been busy breaking up families, emotionally scarring thousands of innocent kids, and driving their anguished caretakers into cages, or worse, to suicide. That Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services are helping such villainy along, in any capacity, might be good in the short-term, for the company's bottom line, but the optics are shit. More than this, the company's association with ICE is raising the hackles of some of their their most important assets: not their shareholders or board, but their employees.

According to Gizmodo, a number of Microsoft employees, who prefer to remain anonymous in the interest of protecting their careers, have stepped forward to report that the computer technology company's relationship with ICE has led to growing dissent among the company's workforce. When Giz questioned Microsoft's PR team on the matter, the response was a bit wishy-washy:

From Gizmodo:

Microsoft condemned family separation by ICE in a statement to Gizmodo but declined to specify if specific tools within Azure Government, like Face API—facial recognition software—were in use by the agency.

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Here are 15 privacy settings you should change from defaults, from Linkedin to cellphones to smart TVs

The Washington Post rounds up 15 privacy defaults that no one in their right mind would want to leave as-is, and provides direct links to change 'em (hilariously and predictably, Verizon/Oath/Yahoo's privacy settings dashboard times out when you try to load it) -- once you're done with that, go back and follow his links to unfuck the privacy defaults for Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and #DeleteFacebook. (via Reddit) Read the rest

New XBox and Windows game controller for people with disabilities

Microsoft's new accessible game controller has a retro vibe, enormous buttons, and a range of attachments tailored to specific disabilities.

The new Xbox Adaptive Controller, which will be available later this year, can be connected to external buttons, switches, joysticks and mounts, giving gamers with a wide range of physical disabilities the ability to customize their setups. The most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company, the device can be used to play Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games and supports Xbox Wireless Controller features such as button remapping.

Reminds me of the original arcade Street Fighter "punchable" buttons (see the photo from Ars Technica, below). There's a certain irony here, because (in their primitive 80s form) they were unreliable and made the game too difficult, leading arcade operators to replace them with normal buttons. Because the punch-plates were pressure sensitive, though, the game required six normal buttons to play properly, kicking off the myriads-of-buttons era in which games became markedly less accessible.

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Debullshitifying Microsoft's smear campaign against the recycler it helped send to prison

Eric Lundgren is the PC recycler who is going to jail for 18 months for having a Chinese factory duplicate the obsolete Windows restore CDs Microsoft lets you download for free and authorizes recyclers to distribute. Read the rest

Microsoft sends recycler to jail for reinstalling obsolete, licensed copies of Windows on refurbished PCs

Eric Lundgren is an environmental hero, whose California business diverts literal tons of e-waste from landfills, refurbishes it, and puts it in the hands of people who can make good use of it. Read the rest

The end of Windows closes in

Five years ago, Steve Ballmer said "we can make Windows devices once again the devices to own." Last week, Microsoft announced that Windows will no longer be a standalone unit at Microsoft, ending a division dedicated to personal OS that started in 1980. Via Ben Thompson at Stratechery: Read the rest

Terrifying Steve Ballmer ad for Microsoft Windows 1.0

Knowing Microsoft's longtime sales chief Steve Ballmer, I thought I knew what to expect from this early ad starring him. But the sheer maniacal force of it means I've already had enough internet for the day, and it's not even 7 am. Read the rest

Artist makes fantastic digital paintings using Excel

Tatsuo Horiuchi, 77, creates lovely landscape paintings using the color graphing features of Excel. As William Gibson said, "The street finds its own uses for things."

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20% of Manchester police systems run Windows XP

Manchester boasts England's second-largest police-force (after London) and some of the nation's shittiest IT. Read the rest

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. Read the rest

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

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