Archive for January 8, 2018

HP Fuels the Future of Computing at CES 2018

Posted in Commentary on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

The latest HP products take PC performance, design, and functionality to new heights – ranging from the world’s most powerful convertible and its newest Always-Connected PC 2-in-1 to a groundbreaking 3D camera and cutting-edge gaming technology.

HP Spectre x360 15

The premium HP Spectre x360 15, the world’s most powerful convertible PC1, offers fast performance and powerful discrete graphics to effortlessly create, edit and stream 4K and 3D content.

Specific features include:

  • Power and performance for creative enthusiasts: From intensive workloads to editing huge video files, users will experience fast and responsive performance and graphics capabilities with the choice of:
    • 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 8705G processor4 with Radeon™ RX Vega M graphics offering up to 12 hours of battery life5 with Fast Charge Technology – 50 percent in 30 minutes6 or
    • Quad core 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processors4 with NVIDIA® GeForce® MX 150 graphics with up to 13.5 hours of battery life5 with Fast Charge Technology – 90 percent in 90 minutes7.
  • Gorgeous, premium design: Built from an aluminum CNC machined chassis with a new angular profile at 19.5 mm and weighs 4.62 lbs.8 It is offered in Dark Ash Silver with Copper Luxe accents featuring sleek geared hinges for seamless transitions between laptop, tablet and entertainment modes. Speakers now sit above the keyboard for an improved audio experience in any mode while allowing the keyboard to offer numeric keypad ideal for Adobe short-cut keys.
  • Imagination is the limit: The 4K UHD9 15.6-inch diagonal touch display and optional HP Tilt Pen set ideas in motion on the digital canvas. The durable and brilliant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 display is strong and scratch-resistant for when creating on the go and using a touch display.
  • Secure and Smart: Packed into this powerful PC includes an IR camera supporting Windows Hello3 and a finger print reader to safely and seamlessly log in with both in any mode.

HP ENVY x2

The HP ENVY x2, an Always-Connected PC, it is purpose built for an always-on, always ready to work experience featuring Intel® CoreTM processors.

Specific features include:

  • Thin, light, and durable: The fanless CNC Machined Aluminum tablet is 7.9 mm10 and 1.69 lbs.11 features a brilliant 12.3-inch diagonal touch WUXGA+ display12 with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 for increased durability and scratch resistance when on the go.
  • Optimized for editing and multi-tasking: The leather-like textured case in Oxford Blue integrates an adjustable stand to transform the device into laptop, reading and tablet modes. The backlit keyboard has a 1.3 mm key travel for a smooth typing experience in any lighting condition. The Windows Ink pen offers a natural drawing and writing experience with simultaneous pen and touch.
  • Freedom to be productive and connected in more places: Up to 17 hours of battery life13 and Window 10 Home3, stay productive on Wi-Fi, in sync with Connected Modern Standby14, and connect with a LTE-Advanced support15 option with Intel® XMM™ LTE modems.
  • Built for productivity: 7th Gen Intel® CoreTM Y-Series processors4 are optimized for maximum performance gains, equipped with up to 256 GB PCIe SSD Storage16 to store presentations and multi-task with up to 8GB LPDDR3 memory.

HP Z 3D Camera

HP Z 3D Camera empowers visual and physical design experiences for digital creatives with HP hardware and software innovations to create realistic 3D digital images from real objects by bringing the Sprout by HP experience to the PC.

Specific details include:

  • Reinvents creative workflows: Designed for CG artists, 3D designers, game developers and digital fine artists, the HP Z 3D Camera extends the Sprout Pro G2 experience to an accessory that easily attaches to a computer display17 and connects via USB to capture and digitize 3D objects, 2D documents and live video.
  • More human experiences: Allows for richer, more immediate remote live sharing by bringing into view the desk, hands, etc. to complement screen sharing, text and the webcam.
  • Unique design minimizes desktop space for real-time capture and visualization: It creates life-like digital images by rotating an object with the user’s hands or positioning under the camera. With tracking and scanning software that is easy to download, it constructs the 3D model in real time. Workflows are enhanced by scanning objects with computer-graphics-friendly resolutions that maintain separate texture maps for physical-based rendering (PBR) and AR, VR and mixed reality content creation.

For more information on the HP Z 3D Camera, please see the news advisory here.

 HP Pavilion Wave with Amazon Alexa2 for Windows 103

HP Pavilion Wave delivers powerful computing with amazing audio experiences and is now engineered for voice interactions with hands-free Amazon Alexa.

Specific details include:

  • Same stunning desktop design, enhanced with voice: The HP Pavilion Wave is a unique desktop built around a fully integrated, advanced audio system to play music, listen to movies, and web chats making it the perfect device to take productivity and multitasking to the next level with Amazon Alexa2 to help with thousands of things.
  • Voice integration for powerful experiences: Customers can control music, timers, alarms, smart home devices and more simply by asking Alexa while web browsing, working, or streaming content18. It now will offer a custom LED to indicate Alexa is listening. Working with Intel and Amazon engineers to optimize Intel® Smart Sound Technology to help deliver a hands-free experience, the 360-degree multi-directional reflective audio can hear voice commands from any angle.

OMEN Game Stream

OMEN Game Stream19 allows gamers to play top AAA games anytime and anywhere by leveraging the power and performance of their OMEN PC on any Windows 10 device3 with a high-speed internet connection.

Specific details include:

  • Connected cloud gaming experience: Offered within the OMEN Command Center, gamers can now take their OMEN gaming experience with them on-the-go with their OMEN gaming PC doing all the heavy lifting by acting as a cloud gaming server.
  • Push gaming boundaries: Using any Windows 10 device3, gamers can connect to their OMEN PC and play games that are well beyond the hardware specifications of the connecting device for an incredible cloud gaming experience.

OMEN X 65 Big Format Gaming Display with NVIDIA G-SYNC™

The OMEN X 65 Big Format Gaming Display with NVIDIA G-SYNC™ is a next-generation big format gaming display for the home featuring a cutting edge 4K UHD10 65-inch diagonal display.

Specific details include:

  • Stunning graphics and performance: The display runs a 120 Hz refresh rate with ultra-low latency for gamers to enjoy gorgeous visuals with the performance they crave to beat the competition.
  • Striking visuals for gaming: 4K UHD10 and HDR-10 support brings gorgeous color, brightness, and contrast to most current games on the market.
  • Designed for gaming and more: NVIDIA G-SYNC™ and NVIDIA® SHIELD™ integration provide incredible fluidity to the screen for gaming, streaming movies, episodic content, and music18.

For more information on new OMEN hardware and software, please see visit the OMEN Game Stream the blog post and OMEN X 65 Big Format Gaming Display with NVIDIA G-SYNC™ blog post.

For more information on all the products announced today, please visit the HP NewsroomCES Online Press Kit.

Pricing and Availability

  • HP Spectre x360 15-inch starting pricing is $1,369.99 and planned to be available via HP.com and Best Buy on March 18.
  • HP ENVY x2 is planned to be available is Spring 2018. Pricing and mobile carriers will be disclosed closer to product availability.
  • HP Z 3D Camera is planned to be available in the US only in March 2018 for $599.
  • HP Pavilion Wave is planned to ship with Amazon Alexa in Spring 2018 with a starting price at $549.99.
  • OMEN Game Stream is planned to ship on OMEN systems in Spring 2018.
  • OMEN X 65 Big Format Gaming Display with NVIDIA G-SYNC™ is planned to be available in Fall 2018. Pricing will be disclosed closer to product availability.
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ASUS Reveals All New Lineup At CES

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd
ASUS today revealed its all-new lineup of connected devices at the ASUS Showcase Room at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, displaying how the ASUS ecosystem delivers impeccable connectivity to keep users in touch around the home, at the office and on the go. Here’s a list of what was revealed.

ASUS Lyra Voice

Winner of the CES 2018 Innovation award, Lyra Voice is a two-in-one 802.11ac mesh Wi-Fi system and voice assistant with powerful stereo speakers, a microphone and integrated Amazon Alexa voice control. Users can interact with Amazon Alexa simply by talking to Lyra Voice, enabling them to play music, hear the news, check the weather, control smart-home devices, and more.

Part of the Lyra mesh Wi-Fi system family, Lyra Voice is a tri-band, AC2200-class device that communicates with other connected Lyra hubs to provide whole-home coverage with no Wi-Fi dead zones. It’s the perfect choice for wherever a smart assistant is desired — be it the kitchen, living room or bedroom. The system also integrates seamslessly with trigger and automation services such as IFTTT, making it easy to turn a traditional house into the connected smart home. Lyra Voice can be configured and controlled easily using the intuitive Lyra mobile app.

ASUS Lyra Trio

Lyra Trio is a stylish, dual-band, multi-hub mesh Wi-Fi system with unique antenna placement to deliver impeccable Wi-Fi to every corner of the home — banishing Wi-Fi dead zones.

Lyra Trio features 3×3 MIMO technology and seamless roaming to deliver superior Wi-Fi speeds and automatically connect users to the best possible signal wherever they are in the home, ensuring consistently fast and smooth connections. This eye-catching new Wi-Fi- system also boasts always-on privacy protection for all connected smart devices for the life of Lyra Trio, ensuring that security is always up to date.

The ASUS Lyra app puts users in control, enabling PC-free setup, network management and diagnostics, and automatically notifies the network administrator should problems arise.

ASUS RT-AX88U

RT-AX88U is a dual-band router featuring the next-generation 802.11ax wireless standard for ultrafast Wi-Fi speeds of up to 6000Mbps. With a revolutionary combination of OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology, 802.11ax technology provides 4X-faster throughput than 802.11ac technology on connected devices in traffic-dense environments, while also increasing network capacity and efficiency. With the latest 802.11ax technology and four powerful antennas, RT- AX88U provides wide coverage and stable connections. Moreover, RT-AX88U offers easy connectivity for multiple users. Its eight Gigabit LAN ports and MU-MIMO for both uplink and downlink communications make RT-AX88U the ideal solution for busy environments such as LAN parties, which demand high capacity for both wireless and wired connections.

RT-AX88U also includes AiProtection, commercial-grade network security powered by Trend MicroTM, to block and neutralize internet security threats for all connected smart devices. It’s also compatible with the ASUS AiMesh Wi-Fi system for seamless whole-home coverage.

ASUS NovaGo

NovaGo is the world’s first Gigabit LTE-capable laptop designed for truly connected mobility, providing users with an always-on, always-connected experience with Windows 10. This ultrathin and light convertible laptop is powered by a Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 835 Mobile PC platform, and features a Gigabit Snapdragon X16 LTE modem for lightning-fast download speeds of up to 1Gbps — 3X to 7X-faster than average broadband speeds. It has up to a 22- hour battery life1 with over 30 days of modern standby, and a built-in eSIM or Nano SIM2 that ensures seamless connectivity across borders.

NovaGo is a new breed of laptop designed for the tech-savvy user who is aware of the new and exciting always-on, always-connected possibilities offered by the Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC platform. The latest premium-tier Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC platform is designed to provide superior user experiences with blazing-fast connectivity and exceptional on-the-go power efficiency.

NovaGo runs Windows 10 S natively and provides users with a secure and familiar Windows experience including the Start menu and great new features like Windows Ink, Windows Hello and Cortana. Windows 10 S runs verified apps from the Microsoft Store, which provide a seamless and secure experience. Users can stay productive with Outlook and PowerPoint, get creative with Photoshop or InDesign, and be entertained by Spotify or Netflix.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1)

ZenFone Max Plus (M1) is the first model in the new ZenFone Max Series, the world’s only range of high-battery-capacity smartphones, perfect for modern, connected users that need their devices to just keep on going.

ZenFone Max Plus (M1) is the first ASUS smartphone with a 5.7-inch full-view display in an amazingly compact body that’s no larger than many standard 5.2-inch smartphones. With its expanded viewing area, compact size, dual rear cameras, convenient face- and fingerprint-

These products should be hitting your corner of the world shortly.

An Update To The Linksys WRT32X And WRT3200ACM Firmware Issues…. A Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

The last time I wrote about the firmware issues with the Linksys WRT32X and WRT3200ACM routers, I wrote about the fact that there did not seem to be any hope in the minds of users that this would get fixed. This despite the fact that Linksys was taking the commendable action of serving up Velops or routers to anyone who needed to get back on line.

But there may be hope for users based on this message from a Linksys employee that was posted on the Linksys Community Forum yesterday (click to enlarge):

linksysx.JPG

The fact that they have beta firmware for the WRT3200ACM is a positive sign. I say that because in the last week, this same employee have been getting more advanced users to test a piece of this firmware with largely positive results. Assuming that the users that test this encounter no issues, there may be an end to this for WRT3200ACM that is in sight. And hopefully WRT32X users won’t be far behind.

I will continue to monitor this and update you with any information that I find out.

UPDATE: A beta firmware is now available for the WRT32X (click to enlarge):

wrt32x

There is no word on how well this firmware works at this time. But I will stay on top of this story.

#PSA: Western Digital My Cloud Drives Have A Hidden Backdoor… Update Them NOW!

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

A while back I posted a story on a vulnerablity with Western Digital My Cloud drives that was kind of, well, horrific. Today I have another one for you. It appears via a security researcher that Western Digital My Cloud NAS drives have a hardcoded backdoor, meaning anyone can access them and pwn you. The backdoor has the username “mydlinkBRionyg” and the password is “abc12345cba” (without quotes).

Now you’re likely wondering why is the word “dlink” in the username as that should be a competitor to Western Digital. There’s a good reason for that. It appears that the WD NAS devices once shared code with D-Link “Sharecenter” devices. Interestingly, these D-Link devices were issued patched firmware in 2014 and no longer contain the backdoor. Speaking of patches, this backdoor was disclosed to Western Digital six months ago and the company apparently did nothing until November 2017 when it issued firmware 2.30.172. That’s an epic fail and shows that Western Digital isn’t keeping its eye on the ball when it comes to security.

What I recommend to users of the following drives is this:

  • MyCloud
  • MyCloudMirror
  • My Cloud Gen 2
  • My Cloud PR2100
  • My Cloud PR4100
  • My Cloud EX2 Ultra
  • My Cloud EX2
  • My Cloud EX4
  • My Cloud EX2100
  • My Cloud EX4100
  • My Cloud DL2100
  • My Cloud DL4100

First, verify that you’re running firmware 2.30.172. If you’re not, unplug this drive and stop using it until you have upgraded to that firmware. But keep in mind that this issue has been out there for so long, you may have already been pwned and not know anything about it. Thus you may want to question why you want to have a hard drive connected to the Internet in the first place.

Some Free Advice To Canadian Telcos…. Just Give Us Your Lowest Price & Be Done With It

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

Every year, or when I get fed up with whomever is my telco of the moment is, I do one of two things. I either try to negotiate with my current telco for a better deal, or I shop around for the best deal I can find. What I find is that I never get the bottom line best price from a Canadian telco. Instead, I find this sort of thing:

bell 3

This is Bell that I am using as an example, but other telcos do some version of this. In short, they only guarantee a really good price for a period of time. But then the price goes up at the end of that period of time. The problem with this is that all it guarantees is that:

  1. Consumers who see this get turned off and don’t consider the telco in question.
  2. Consumers take the offer and are surprised by the fact that the offer has a price that is for a limited amount of time. Related to this, consumers who deal with contact center reps don’t have this explained properly to them and things go horribly sideways as a result.

In short, Canadian telcos are asking for trouble when they do this. But they are equally asking for trouble when they make Canadians negotiate with them to ensure that they are getting the best price. Because not only does the fact that consumers have to take time out of their day to do negotiate, but telcos are opening themselves up to having consumers comparison shop. Which in turn means that they’ll bolt to the competition who may offer a better deal.

Thus I’d like to propose that Canadian telcos do something differently. How about you just give us hard working Canadians your best price from the start? Make everything as clear as possible so that consumers don’t feel that they’re being tricked in any way. And don’t package it as a limited time offer. On top of that, how about say once a year you reach out to your customers and review what they’re getting from you to see if they are getting the best value for money? My insurance company does that and I feel that they to some degree are looking out for me. Yes I understand they’re also trying to sell me more services. But the fact that they do check in on a regular cadence, and my bill goes down every once in a while, or I get more for my money makes me feel that I am getting better value for money to some degree. That is the reason why I haven’t dumped them for someone else. Now I know this takes effort and resources that Canadian telcos may not be willing to put money into. But if they were willing to do that, I suspect they’d see higher retention rates and less negative press.

So, I ask all Canadian telcos this question: Are you game to give Canadians what they want?

A Follow Up To My Latest Rogers Gigabit Internet Issue: Is It Resolved?

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

The title of this post is a bit of a different one, but it will make sense as I go along.

Since encountering another issue with my Rogers Gigabit Internet service and toying with the idea of going to Bell, something strange happened. It resolved itself. I documented what I saw before and after in the second post that I linked to. And it has continued to work flawlessly. In fact, I have checked the modem as early as this morning and found that signal strength and signal to noise ratio are all within spec. That wasn’t the case when I was troubleshooting the issue. Another data point is that Rogers sent out a senior tech and found nothing wrong.

So, since I am not a believer in things fixing themselves, I have to believe that either:

  1. Someone moved out and took some problematic equipment with them. Which in turn solved my issue.
  2. There was another type of issue within the Rogers network in my area that caused this, and has since been resolved.
  3. The issue is intermittent and will reappear at some point.

You’ll note that I am not saying that Rogers fixed this specific issue because I have no evidence that they did. Plus they wouldn’t have had time to investigate and fix this over the New Year’s weekend. Thus whatever I saw, may still be out there. I will simply have to keep an eye out and see.

Now I was dealing with Rogers Office Of The President and after a chat with them, I agreed to monitor things and reach out if the issue reappears. To that end, over the next few days I will be installing a Rasberry PI 3 running this software that I wrote about in the past couple of weeks with some custom hooks to pull the modem stats and do speed testing several times a day. I am going to start with four times a day and see how that works out. Seeing as I have had success with using this method in the past to troubleshoot other issues on my network, I am hoping that it will capture whatever it is that I am seeing.

Now some closing thoughts. Starting with a word about the Rogers Office Of The President. These people are rockstars. But the fact that you have to get an issue escalated to this level to get access to these rockstars doesn’t seem to make sense. Something that I preach to my contact center clients is that you have to put your best trained and best prepared people on the front lines. Because if you do that, you’ll get customer issues resolved quicker and get better customer satisfaction. At least, that’s what the clients who take my advice say to me. So, if I were Rogers, I’d find a way to do that sooner rather than later. Which brings me to my last point. During this latest go round with Rogers, 41 people emailed and Tweeted at me to tell me their stories about issues they’ve had with their Gigabit service. That’s not good if you’re Rogers. But I have some free advice for them. If I were running Rogers, I’d start proactively testing the connections of customers who have Gigabit service. And if they find anything amiss, then they should reach out to those customers and say something like “We see that you have a potential problem with your service and we’ll going to work towards resolving it.” That would make those customers feel better as they didn’t have to report an issue. Rogers found it because they are looking out for their customers. Right now I don’t know how the emails and Tweets that I have received relate to their overall customer base, but unhappy customers will eventually lead to bad press. That’s something that no company can afford these days. Thus I’d advise Rogers to take a proactive stance on this to address those people (and whomever else is out there who isn’t emailing or Tweeting someone) to make sure that this doesn’t snowball.