Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

Kraftwerk loses hip-hop music-sampling copyright case

Posted by kenmay on May - 31 - 2016

(credit: Tobias Helfrich ) After a decades-long battle, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the supreme German Constitutional Court) has overturned a ban on a song that used a two-second sample of a Kraftwerk recording. In 1997, music producer Moses Pelham used a clip from 1977 release Metall auf Metall (Metal on Metal) in the song Nur mir (Only Mine) performed by Sabrina Setlur. Lead singer of Kraftwerk, Ralf Huetter, sued Pelham, and in 2012 the electropop pioneer won his case for copyright infringement in Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), gaining damages and a block on Nur mir . However, in today’s judgment, the eight judges of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided that the lower court did not sufficiently consider whether the impact of the sample on Krafwerk might be “negligible.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Besides its $1, 723 10-core Core i7 Extreme Edition processor , Intel just teased some other chip news during its keynote presentation at Computex. There aren’t many details available, but the company confirmed the the 7th generation of its Core CPU technology will go on sale later this year. They will be joined by its Apollo Lake chips, which are a cheaper version of the current 6th gen Skylake family. Apollo Lake should bring 4K video capability and USB-C to cheaper, 2-in-1 laptop/tablet style devices with smaller batteries. As far as the 7th generation of Core CPUs, buyers can expect support for Thunderbolt 3 , and IR cameras used for features like Windows Hello’s facial recognition.

Bumblebees sense electricity with their fine hairs

Posted by kenmay on May - 31 - 2016

In 2013, Gregory Sutton from the University of Bristol published an important paper demonstrating that bumblebees can sense electricity (his experiment trained bees to associate current in fake flowers with nutrients, and showed that bees preferentially sought out electrified flowers), but now how they sensed it. (more…)

Two days after Fiverr, a marketplace for digital services, removed user listings from its website that advertised DDoS-for-hire services, the company’s website suffered a six-hour long DDOS attack. Softpedia reports: The incident took place on the morning of May 27 (European timezones), and the service admitted its problems on its Twitter account. At the time of writing, Fiverr has been back up and functioning normally for more than two hours. Fiverr’s problems stem from an Incapsula probe that found DDoS-for-hire ads on its marketplace, available for $5. Incapsula reported the suspicious listings to Fiverr, who investigated the issue and removed the ads. Fiverr first removed all listings advertising blatantly illegal DDoS services, but later also removed the ads offering to “test” a website for DDoS “protection” measures. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

An anonymous reader writes from a report issued by Softpedia on May 27: Microsoft and several other security researchers have detected the first ransomware versions that appears to have self-propagation features, being able to spread to other machines on its own by copying itself to shared network drives or portable storage devices automatically. Called ZCryptor, this ransomware seems to enjoy quite the attention from crooks, who are actively distributing today via Flash malvertising and boobytrapped Office files that infect the victim if he enables macro support when opening the file. This just seems to be the latest addition to the ransomware family, one which recently received the ability to launch DDoS attacks while locking the user’s computer. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How much more can ASUS shave off of the ZenBook, its flagship ultraportable? Apparently, quite a bit. The company’s new ZenBook 3, announced today at Computex, clocks in at just 2 pounds and 11.9mm (0.46-inches) thick. In comparison, the previous ZenBook UX305 weighed 2.64 pounds and was 12.9mm thick (0.51-inches). Sure, those might just seem like incremental improvements, but they’re remarkable when you consider just how insanely thin and light the previous model was. Most impressively? The ZenBook 3 just barely edges out Apple’s svelte MacBook , which weighs 2.03lbs and is 13.2mm (0.52-inches) thick, all the while packing in a larger 12.5-inch display. ASUS attributes the ZenBook 3’s weight loss to a new “aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, ” which it says is 40 percent stronger than what’s typically used in laptops. Honestly, that just sounds like marketing fluff, but there must be something special about the laptop’s new material to lose 0.6 pounds from the last gen. ASUS is still sticking with its “spun metal” style, so hopefully you’re a fan of the concentric metallic rings on its cases. It’ll be available in “Quartz Grey, ” “Royal Blue, ” and the seemingly ubiquitous “Rose Gold.” Unlike the MacBook, the ZenBook 3 won’t be under-powered. At the top end, you’ll be able to configure it with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe SSD (which should be faster than a typical SATA drive). The display is covered in Gorilla Glass 4, and it looks like Asus was also able to slim down the bezel (now it covers 82 percent of the laptop’s front). The ZenBook 3 packs in a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port for charging (which it says can juice the laptop’s battery up to 60 percent in 49 minutes), and it should last around 9 hours of typical battery life. As for cooling, Asus says it’s developed the “world’s thinnest” fan at just 3mm. There’s also a built-in fingerprint sensor with Windows Hello support. The ZenBook 3 will start at $999 with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. Stepping up, you can get it with a 512GB SSD for $1, 499, and you can add a Core i7 processor, 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM for $1, 999. ASUS isn’t talking about availability details yet. We’ll definitely be paying attention to this ultraportable. Check back soon for hands-on impressions of the ZenBook 3. Developing…

4K copy protection removal shop settles for $5.2 million

Posted by kenmay on May - 30 - 2016

Intel and Warner Bros. are still very much embroiled in a war on companies stripping copyright protection from 4K and Blu-ray videos. Hardware seller Ace Deal has agreed to pay the two industry giants $5.2 million to settle a lawsuit over alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Supposedly, Ace Deal knowingly aided in piracy by selling devices that remove HDCP anti-copying measures, making it relatively easy to bootleg the latest 4K movie extravaganza . The shop has already pulled the offending gear from its online store and is barred from selling similar devices in the future, but the small outfit still faces a relatively big, potentially crippling payout. The verdict is a sharp contrast to what’s happening with LegendSky, which faced a similar lawsuit at the start of the year. It contends that its HDFury gadgets aren’t stripping HDCP, just weakening it (which is legal) — in fact, it counter-sued Intel and Warner Bros. for allegedly making defamatory claims and abusing their market position. Ace Deal didn’t have that defense, so it was far more likely to be on the hook. Source: TorrentFreak

It’s no secret that the new Doom is chock-full of Easter eggs and other surprises, but the latest is one you wouldn’t find just by wandering around the game’s tortured halls. Intrepid fan TomButcher has noticed that at least one tune in the soundtrack, “Cyberdemon, ” shows both pentagrams and the number 666 when you visualize the music’s frequencies through a spectrogram. Composer Mick Gordon recently teased that this hidden sinister imagery might be present in a video (below at the 3:29 mark), but there’s no doubt about it now. Clearly, he remembers the days when the original Doom ‘s hellish artwork had some parents in a frenzy. Music aficionados will be quick to note that stealthy image insertion isn’t new. Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) legendarily inserted his own face into the spectrogram for a track on his Windowlicker EP, for a start. All the same, it’s good to know that the art of sneaking in subtle audio references is far from dead — even if you’re unlikely to see this feat in many other games going forward. Via: Reddit Source: TomButcher (Imgur)

Hackers Claim to Have 427 Million Myspace Passwords

Posted by kenmay on May - 27 - 2016

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard: There’s an oft-repeated adage in the world of cybersecurity: There are two types of companies, those that have been hacked, and those that don’t yet know they have been hacked. MySpace, the social media behemoth that was, is apparently in the second category. The same hacker who was selling the data of more than 164 million LinkedIn users last week now claims to have 360 million emails and passwords of MySpace users, which would be one of the largest leaks of passwords ever. And it looks like the data is being circulated in the underground by other hackers as well. It’s unclear when the data was stolen from MySpace, but both the hacker, who’s known as Peace, and one of the operators of LeakedSource, a paid hacked data search engine that also claims to have the credentials, said it’s from a past, unreported, breach. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The bar is made of 120 tons of pure Canadian ice. So are the walls, and all the furniture, along with intricately carved ice sculptures, including a replica of the Vegas skyline and an icy Iron Throne just for Game of Thrones fans. Walking into Minus 5 Ice Bar in Las Vegas is like stepping into a real-world scene from Disney’s Frozen . Read more…