Intel Spectre/Meltdown Patch Coming for Newer Chips; Amazon Narrows Field for 2nd HQ; Apple Repatriates Cash & Gives Bonuses; SurveyMonkey Going Public

Intel has admitted that even it’s newer CPUs are affected but the reboot problems from the Spectre/Meltdown patches. This includes Skylake and Kaby Lake chips, according to engadget.com. Patches should be out in about a week, but slowdowns will be between 2 and 25%, depending on the task, and if just one core is running.

Amazon has cut the field of cities where it may build its second headquarters. Geekwire.com says the online giant is down to 20 cities in the US and also Toronto, Canada. They include Washington, D.C. and two suburbs, which may or may not be a hint. The only West Coast city is L.A. All the rest are in the Midwest or Northeast.

Apple announced yesterday the it is bringing back $350 billion in overseas cash the next 5 years, and will build a new facility in the US, employing some 20,000 people. The company will cough up about $38 billion in taxes in the process. The new campus will initially be devoted to AppleCare. No location has been revealed, but it won’t be in California. Now, according to bloomberg.com, Cupertino has also said they are giving a $2500 bonus in restricted stock units as well. Apple has over 120,000 employees, and both full time and part time employees in all departments are eligible.

After 19 years, online polling company SurveyMonkey is getting ready to go public later this year. Recode.net reports that the company has been valued at $2 billion of late. Two other major IPOs set for this year include Spotify and Dropbox. SurveyMonkey has 650 employees and says nearly all the Fortune 500 companies have used it’s online surveys.

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More Next-Gen iPhone Rumors; Amazon & Google vs HomePod; Intel Security Issue

A number of sources point to 3 new iPhones this fall…a refreshed iPhone X, a bigger iPhone X Plus with a 6.5 inch screen…also with an OLED screen, and an in-between model with a 6.1 inch LCD screen. LG will make the 6.5 inch screens, with Samsung continuing to supply the 5.8 inch OLED screen Improvements to Face ID are also touted. Now, according to macrumors.com, there may be a 2nd generation iPhone SE out this spring. It will likely keep the same form factor with a 4 inch screen as the present SE.

Amazon and Google both had sizable discounts on their smart speakers heading into the holidays. 9to5mac.com reports that analysts think they both probably lost money on the units or just broke even, in order to grab market share before Apple releases its HomePod speaker. Not only that…and you probably figured this was coming…Alexa may be soon making suggestions when you are getting ready to shop or are shopping. Yep, product placement. You may suddenly find that Alexa is suggesting specific brands…Proctor & Gamble is one such ‘advertising partner’ being discussed. The thought is, people may just order the suggested brand instead of letting Alexa blather on.

There is apparently a serious security problem with all recent Intel chips…so big a problem, that they won’t really discuss how it works, or what it is, but patches are coming. This will affect virtually all late model Windows and Mac machines. Bgr.com says it will be a crucial patch…but there’s a hitch. The patch may slow down the computers by some 30%, but at least by 5%! Pretty much every computer made in the last 10 years is affected. (90% of servers and laptops.) The fix involves moving the chip’s kernel to a completely separate address space, so every system call will require switching between 2 address spaces to keep the kernel secure…that’s where the speed bump occurs. A later update may restore the speed, but for now…patch those things when the security update comes…otherwise, your machines can be hacked and give the hackers god like power over them…including ability to read all personal info and passwords.


Apple iMac Pro Out This Week; AmEx Drops Signatures; Switch Passes 10 million in As Many Months; Clapboss Wins the Irritating War

As Jobs used to say, ‘One more thing’…yes, Apple kicked the HomePod down the road into next year, but today announced that the iMac Pro will go on sale Thursday. Businessinsider.com reports that the pricey and powerful (starting at $4999) iMac sports a 27 inch Retina display, and can be upgraded (pushing up the nosebleed price even further) to 128 gigs of RAM, 4TB of storage, and an 18 core Intel Xeon processor. The Pro is really made for pros…audio and video pros who need all that power. Unlike the MacBook Pro, which has irritated Pros with only USB C ports and not even a Mag Safe connector, the iMac Pro rocks 4 USB ports, 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, and a wired ethernet port. Did I mention it starts at almost 5 grand? My eyes are still watering!

American Express has announced that it will stop requiring signatures for purchases. Engadget.com notes that in the last few months, both MasterCard and Discover had announced the same, but only in the US and Canada starting in April. AmEx is dropping signatures globally. All say that tech advances have made signatures obsolete. In some regions people will still have to sign where required by law. This should move lines at check stands faster and increase the spread of cardless transaction systems like ApplePay.

Gaming is more than alive and well! Nintendo has announced that it has pumped out 10 million Switch consoles in 10 months! Variety.com says they are on track to pass up the Wii U soon, which took 5 years to sell 13.6 million! Three games account for over half of game sales: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2.

If you’ve ever been irritated by thos obnoxious TV ads with the guy clapping to turn lights and Christmas trees on and off…or worse, been to Grandma’s and she actually bought and uses one, get ready for the ultimate annoyance….the Clapboss! Techcrunch.com says it’s a net connected dongle that lets you clap to turn things off and on. The Kickstarter is $39, and the irritating little dongle…which has a smug, smiley face on it…will be $80 retail. It supports 6 different clap patterns so you can turn on and off 6 different devices….and annoy the hell out of anyone living with you nearly to the point of justifiable homicide.


Google Tested a Pixel 2 Wake to Shoot Feature; Broadcom Offers to Buy Qualcomm; Foxconn Added as Apple Watch Supplier; Tesla Invite To Truck Reveal is Out

It hasn’t been activated yet, but 9to5google.com has discovered a wake to shoot gesture that activates the camera. Basically, when you pick it up and hold it in either landscape or portrait picture mode, the camera app opens. It will work whether the phone is asleep or locked. The feature requires specific hardware. It’s not known if Google has held off due to concerns of launching the cam by mistake or couldn’t finish some work before launch, but let’s hope it comes in the future!

An offer is in the works that will be the biggest tech deal ever. Broadcom has proposed buying rival Qualcomm for $130 billion. According to businessinsider.com, this would make Broadcom the third largest maker of chips and components for smartphones behind Intel and Samsung. It also might make the Qualcomm vs Apple lawsuit go away. As we reported last week, Apple is looking at ditching Qualcomm completely over that, and Apple is one of Qualcomm’s biggest customers that throws off most of the modem division’s revenue. The merger would have to be approved by shareholders and the Department of Justice due to antitrust concerns.

Foxconn is apparently supplying System in Package tech for Apple Watch next year. 9to5mac.com reports that Quanta Computer was the original sole assembler of the smartwatch, and Apple added Compal Electronics this year, but only for older generation watches. Like many huge companies, Apple likes to have 2 or more suppliers for major components, to avoid getting gouged on price and unexpected supply chain jam ups.

The invite is out, and so’s the date. Tesla will preview its electric big rig on November 16th, in Hawthorne, CA. at 7 in the evening. Cnet.com notes that the twilight shot of the truck is from the right front quarter…the only other tease pic we’ve seen was from the front…yep…it just looks like the outline of a more zoomy big rig.


Apple Ditching Qualcomm Modems; Unbreakable Phone Screens in Works; Surface Pro with LTE Advanced Next Month

Apple has been squabbling in court with Qualcomm for some time, and Qualcomm has withheld software used to test its communications components. Now, according to appleinsider.com, Apple is designing phones and iPads to run on Intel and MediaTek modems. Apple has used multiple suppliers for years in iPhones, but often the Qualcomm modems have been the ones that could work on bands used by more carriers.

Who hasn’t dropped their phone and sweated it cracking or breaking…or worse, picked it up to see a shattered screen? Now, thenextweb.com reports that scientists at the University of Sussex may have a solution…screens made of silver nanowire and graphene. Present screens that use indium tin oxide are not only fragile…indium is scarce and expensive, and an environmental disaster to extract. Of course, the world isn’t exactly flooded with silver, either…that’s where the silver nanoparticles come in. Combining them with graphene…made from plentiful graphite…you get a less expensive and stronger alternative. With any luck, this development…which the scientists say is easily scalable to mass production…will be in phones soon, and broken screens will be pretty much a thing of the past!

Microsoft is planning to ship a new version of Surface Pro tablets that have LTE Advanced mobile connectivity by early december. Geekwire.com says the successor to the Surface Pro 4 will start at $1149 with 4 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs storage. An 8 gig of RAM and 256 gigs storage model will set you back $1449. Both run an Intel Core i5 processor.


Facebook to Hire 1000 To Battle Election Interference; Facebook Testing Face Recognition to Unlock Accounts; Apple Looking To Roll Own on Mac Chips; Google Launches “Made for Google” Accessory Program

Facebook is making changes in the wake of the Congressional investigation of Russian election meddling via social media including Facebook. TechCrunch.com says that includes hiring 1000 more people to its global ads review team over the next year, and making it so anyone can see any ad run by any organization on Facebook instead of only the ads targeted to them.

Facebook is also testing out facial recognition as a way to get back into your account if you’re locked out. 9to5mac.com points out that if you are on the road, and don’t have roaming available, you can’t even use 2 factor identification. The face recognition would not be Apple’s Face ID, but Facebook’s own system, and it would be in addition to two-factor authentication using SMS….as noted, where SMS might not be available. It’s not clear if or when the feature will be rolled out.

Future laptops from Apple may feature Apple designed chips in place of ones from Intel. Businessinsider.com says this is coming on the heels of Apple’s new iPhone 8 models with Apple designed ARM chips that can outperform a MacBook Pro in bench tests. Apple is also apparently looking at designing custom silicon for their modem chips, too in place of Qualcomm or Media Tek.

Google is readying a ‘Made for Google’ program to certify accessories from its partners. According to 9to5google.com, it should work similarly to Apple’s accessory program, giving users a little peace of mind about buying gear that they can know will work well with Google hardware devices. No time frame as yet, but we may hear more later this week when Google bows the Pixel 2 family of products in San Francisco.


The Essential Phone Revealed; Google Search Personal; Intel’s Insane 18 Core i9 Processor

The Essential Phone, that handset from the father of Android, Andy Rubin, has been revealed, and doesn’t disappoint. 9to5google.com reports that the front screen barely has a bezel at the bottom, and goes clear to the top, except for a little tab in the middle for the selfie cam. The phone runs on a Qualcomm 835, has 4 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs of storage. It will run on all carriers. It sports a 13 MP dual cam in back, and 8 MP selfie cam, and get this…is made from a combination of titanium and ceramic, which should weather drops considerably better than the aluminum on Samsung and Apple phones. Besides USB-C, it has wireless data transfer, and a clever magnetic connector for accessories…including a 360 degree cam that clicks into the port at the top of the phone. It sells for $699.

Google has added a personal tab as a search option. Bgr.com says you have to be signed in to use it, and for the paranoid, it can be disabled…although Google will continue to Hoover up your data and package and sell it anyway, like everyone’s. What it does do is take your previous search data, and offer results that are refined based on your prior searches. (Again, if it freaks you out, go to Search Settings in your Google account and check the Do Not Use Private Results.)

Intel has unveiled its new Extreme Core i9 processor at Computex. According to tech crunch.com, it’s got 18 cores and 36 threads! How much for that crazy amount of processing power? A cool $1999! Other siblings in the Core i9 family include one with 10 cores for $999 and a 16 core model for $1699. All of them have a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz with a turbo boost up to 4.5. No shipping date was announced, so you have time to save your pennies for that eye-popping $2000 job in a shiny new rig.