Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

A short video explains the new functionality that lets the Dolphin emulator access the official Wii Shop Channel. Perfect accuracy is an extremely ambitious goal for any console emulator to shoot for, and it’s one that many emulators never come close to achieving. The team behind the open source Dolphin emulator took a major step closer to reaching that goal last week, though, releasing a new version that can actually purchase and download games legitimately from the Wii Shop Channel. Accessing Nintendo’s Shop Channel servers from the PC-based emulator isn’t exactly a plug-and-play affair. For one thing, you’ll need to use some homebrew software on an actual Wii to dump the contents of the system’s NAND memory . From there, you have to use some special software tools to extract the certificates and keys that Nintendo uses when validating connections to its online servers. With all that in place, though, Version 5.0-2874 of Dolphin can now connect to the Wii Shop Channel servers to download WiiWare and Virtual Console games. The emulator will even let you re-download games that were previously purchased on the original Wii itself and let you enter a valid credit card to purchase new games. (This is why people use emulators, right?) Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Android O teases big changes to save your battery

Posted by kenmay on March - 22 - 2017

Google I/O is only a few months away — but just like last year, we won’t have to wait until then to get our first taste of what’s coming to Android. Today, Google is releasing a developer preview of Android O, just over one year after first dropping details on Android 7.0 Nougat . Just like last year, the company is highlighting a handful of major features and letting developers know how they can try it out. But as is often the case with preview releases, Android O is not ready for regular users and not for the faint of heart. Judging from the info Google has released today, Android O doesn’t have a big, attention-grabbing consumer feature like split-screen multitasking. Probably the closest is a change to how the system handles notifications. Android will allow for new “notification channels, ” which from Google’s somewhat-vague description sound like a way for developers to roll up various types of notifications into a bundle a user can browse. An example screenshot Google provided showed a news app with 10 different “categories” of notifications, so you can see all the tech news notifications in one shot. It’s the kind thing we’ll need to see in action to judge, but it could potentially help to simplify a messy notification window. Another pretty major change is called “background limits.” While it’s not something a user will interface directly with, it could crucially save battery life, something Google has focused on in Android for a while now. Background limits will do just what it says: put limits on what apps can do in the background, across three main areas. Background services, location updates and “implicit broadcasts” will all be subject to automatic limiting by Android to help developers create apps that don’t trash your battery life. Google’s initial release doesn’t give much info on how this will affect the functionality of apps, but the company admits that it’s a “significant change” to Android. Therefore, it’s providing a lot of documentation on what’s changing and how to make apps work in the new system — we haven’t had a chance to review it yet, but we’ll update this post with anything significant we learn. Other features worth mentioning include a picture-in-picture mode for phones (the feature came to tablets last year), “adaptive” app icons that should look native to multiple phone launchers, better keyboard navigation for devices like Chromebooks and support for autofill apps. Google compares these apps to password managers; it sounds like it’ll be an improved way to manage all the info you get tired of having to enter over and over again. Developers will be able to try Android O out in the official Android emulator, but if you want to try it on actual hardware you’ll have to download and flash your device. Google says that brave developers can do this with the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5x, Nexus 6P and Nexus Player. If you’re interested in building apps to work with Android O and Android Wear 2.0, that’s available in the emulator as well. Android O isn’t being pushed out to the beta channel (where just about anyone can try it) just yet, so only try this if you’re really game for potentially wreaking havoc on your chosen device. For everyone else, Google says it’ll have a lot more details on Android at I/O in May — we’ll probably see the full beta release right around the, as well.

Fill In Those Wi-Fi Dead Spots With a $20 Range Extender

Posted by kenmay on March - 21 - 2017

Wi-Fi range extenders can’t work miracles, but if there’s one spot in your house with spotty coverage, they can be a much cheaper solution than buying a new router. So for $20, why not give this one a try? Most complaints about this model seem to stem from its setup process, but if you can get through that, people… Read more…

A Texas grand jury has charged a Maryland man with “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon” after authorities say he tweeted an animated flashing GIF designed to trigger Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald’s epilepsy last year, “immediately” causing him to have a seizure. Read more…

Zack Whittaker, writing for ZDNet: Cisco is warning that the software used in hundreds of its products are vulnerable to a “critical”-rated security flaw, which can be easily and remotely exploited with a simple command. The vulnerability can allow an attacker to remotely gain access and take over an affected device. More than 300 switches are affected by the vulnerability, Cisco said in an advisory. According to the advisory, the bug is found in the cluster management protocol code in Cisco’s IOS and IOS XE software, which the company installs on the routers and switches it sells. An attacker can exploit the vulnerability by sending a malformed protocol-specific Telnet command while establishing a connection to the affected device, because of a flaw in how the protocol fails to properly process some commands. Cisco said that there are “no workarounds” to address the vulnerability, but it said that disabling Telnet would “eliminate” some risks. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Enlarge / A customer in Apple’s store in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2010. A report by a major New Zealand newspaper found Apple hasn’t paid any taxes in New Zealand. (credit: Brendon O’Hagan / AFP / Getty Images ) The big technology story in New Zealand this weekend is about Apple’s tax bill. Or rather, the lack thereof. The electronics giant sold $4.2 billion (NZD) worth of products in New Zealand, but it didn’t pay any local tax at all. That’s according to a Saturday report from the New Zealand Herald . Apple did pay $37 million in income tax based on its New Zealand sales, but it paid that money to the Australian government, since that’s where the New Zealand operation is run from. The arrangement to send the tax on New Zealand profits to Australia has been in place since at least 2007. Experts confirmed the arrangement is legal under New Zealand law. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Norway Plans to Build the World’s First Ship Tunnel

Posted by kenmay on March - 21 - 2017

Norway is planning to build the world’s first ship tunnel through the country’s Stad peninsula, which is home to harsh weather conditions that often delay shipments and cause dangerous conditions for ship crews. The proposed tunnel would enable ships to travel through the peninsula in safety. New Atlas recently interviewed Stad Ship Tunnel Project Manager Terje Andreassen about the project: NA: We’d usually expect a canal to be built for this kind of purpose, so why a tunnel? Because in this case we are crossing a hill which is more than 300 meters (384 ft) high. The only alternative is a tunnel. From a maritime point of view this is still a canal, but with a “roof.” NA: How would you go about making such a large tunnel — would you use a boring machine, for example, or explosives? First we will drill horizontally and use explosives to take out the roof part of the tunnel. Then all bolts and anchors to secure the roof rock before applying shotcrete. The rest of the tunnel will be done in the same way as in open mining. Vertical drilling and blasting with explosives down to the level of 12 m (42 ft) below the sea level. NA: How much rock will be removed, and how will you go about removing it? There will be 3 billion cubic meters (over 105 billion cubic ft) of solid rock removed. All transportation from the tunnel area will be done by large barges. NA: What, if any, are the unique challenges to building a ship tunnel when compared with a road tunnel? The challenge is the height of this tunnel. There is 50 m (164 ft) from bottom to the roof, so all secure works and shotcrete must be done in several levels. The tunnel will be made dry down to the bottom. We solve this by leaving some rock unblasted in each end of the tunnel to prevent water flowing in. Assuming it does indeed go ahead — and with the Norwegian government having already set aside the money, this seems relatively likely — the Stad Ship Tunnel will reach a length of 1.7 km (1.05 miles), and measure 37 m (121 ft) tall and 26.5 m (87 ft) wide. It’s expected to cost NOK 2.3 billion (over US$272 million) to build and won’t actually speed up travel times, but instead focuses on making the journey safer. Top-tier architecture and design firm Snohetta has designed the entrances, and the company’s early plans include sculpted tunnel openings and adding LED lighting on the tunnel ceiling. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Whether you’re just learning how to code or you’re a seasoned vet, experimentation is a key part of the learning process. Glitch is a free new coding site that makes that a little easier by implementing a remix and collaboration system that’s also easy to deploy as an actual app. Read more…

Prankster sends a 419 scammer into a NSFW rage

Posted by kenmay on March - 21 - 2017

Kvatch of The Hoax Hotel is masterful at playing rubes who fall for online scams. In this gem, he keeps an “FBI agent” named “Josh” on the line for nearly 22 minutes, riling him up until he’s ” the angriest scammer I’ve ever called .” (more…)

Experiments with thermochromic hair dye

Posted by kenmay on March - 21 - 2017

Lauren Bowker’s UK-based firm The Unseen is currently working on a bunch of cool thermochromic textile and dye applications, like this hair color that responds to heat . (more…)