Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for March 1st, 2017

An international team of researchers say they’ve found fossils dating back to at least 3.77 billion years ago, making them the oldest fossils ever found on our planet. The discovery, though sure to attract scrutiny, has implications for our understanding of how life got started on Earth—and how it may have emerged… Read more…

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Enlarge (credit: Palo Alto Networks ) It’s a mystery that left researchers scratching their heads: 132 Android apps in the official Google Play market attempted to infect users with… Windows malware. The apps, which were spawned by seven different developers, mostly contained carefully concealed HTML-based iframe tags that connected to two heavily obfuscated malicious domains. In one case, an app didn’t use iframes but instead used Microsoft’s Visual Basic language to inject an entire obfuscated Windows executable into the HTML. The apps were equipped with two capabilities. One was to load interstitial ads, and the other was to load the main app. The main apps loaded WebView components that were configured to allow loaded JavaScript code to access the app’s native functionality. An example of one infected app’s user interface and underlying code. (credit: Palo Alto Networks ) That was a lot of work considering that the Windows-based malware was incapable of executing on an Android device. On top of that, the two malicious domains in the iframes—brenz.pl and chura.pl—were taken over by Polish security authorities in 2013. So what, precisely, was going on? Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Spotify is close to offering lossless-quality music

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2017

Tidal’s lossless-quality music streaming was its original selling point over big name rivals, but it might not have that advantage for much longer. Both The Verge sources and Reddit members have discovered that Spotify is prepping its own lossless offering, Spotify Hi-Fi. Much like with Tidal, paying $20 per month would give you audio befitting your premium headphones . There’s no word as to when Hi-Fi would arrive — Spotify isn’t commenting beyond acknowledging that it’s “always testing new products.” However, it certainly appears to be getting close. A higher-quality tier makes sense for Spotify in more than a few ways. On top of negating one of Tidal’s advantages, it’d give listeners a reason to choose Spotify over Apple Music and other rivals that (currently) make do with lossy tracks. Also, this could be important in Spotify’s continuing struggle to turn a profit . It’s safe to say that it doesn’t cost twice as much to deliver higher-bitrate music, so converting even a fraction of Spotify’s 40 million-plus Premium customers to lossless could prove to be very lucrative. Source: The Verge , Reddit (1) , (2)

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Enlarge (credit: aling_ ) Everything from solar power panels to everyday electronics relies on advanced materials and manufacturing processes. But some interesting things are also being made with some old-school tech: plants. Recently, researchers have demonstrated the ability to create electronic plants, or e-Plants, which made their own localized analog and digital circuits. These technologically savvy plants were produced using the existing plant vascular system, so first-generation models are limited by the nature of their leafy hosts. Now, a team of researchers has developed a new method to produce e-Plants, in this case getting a rose ( Rosa floribunda ) to produce its own wiring and even supercapacitors. Energy transport Eleni Stavrinidoua, Roger Gabrielsson, et al Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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NVIDIA reveals its $700 top of the line GTX 1080 Ti

Posted by kenmay on March - 1 - 2017

Last year we called NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 “the upgrade you’ve been waiting for, ” and now PC gamers have another high-end graphics card to drool over. Now, at GDC 2017 CEO Jen-Hsun Huang presented its successor, the GTX 1080 Ti, which promises “35 percent more performance, ” packs 11GB of GDDR5X memory and will go on sale March 10th for $700. In fact, NVIDIA even claims this new card is faster than its $1, 200 Titan X that launched late last year. At the same time, the company announced the 1080 is getting a price cut and will now start at $500. Developing… Watch live video from NVIDIA on www.twitch.tv The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti – faster than TITAN X – will be $699 and available next week. #UltimateGeForce pic.twitter.com/aW6XIv0Cyv — NVIDIA GeForce (@NVIDIAGeForce) March 1, 2017 Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2017! Source: NVIDIA (Twitter)

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Apple has decided to adopt a flexible display for at least one model of the new iPhone, reports WSJ. From the report: People with direct knowledge of Apple’s production plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company has decided to go ahead with the technology, and it will release a phone model using the OLED screens this year (Editor’s note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source). The technology allows manufacturers to bend screens in ways they couldn’t previously — such as by introducing a curve at the edge of the phone as in some Samsung models. However, once the phone is manufactured, the OLED screen can’t be bent or folded by the user, at least with current technology. Using OLED displays would allow Apple to introduce a phone with a new look to fuel sales. They said Apple would introduce other updates including a USB-C port for the power cord and other peripheral devices instead of the company’s original Lightning connector. The models would also do away with a physical home button, they said. Those updates would give the iPhone features already available on other smartphones. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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On the fifth birthday of the original Raspberry Pi, the foundation has announced the Raspberry Pi Zero W, a slightly more capable variant of the miniature computer. From a report on BetaNews: It’s essentially a Pi Zero with the addition of the two features many people have been requesting — wireless LAN and Bluetooth. Priced at $10, the Pi Zero W uses the same Cypress CYW43438 wireless chip as Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to deliver 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The full list of features is as follows: 1GHz, single-core CPU, 512MB RAM, mini-HDMI port, micro-USB On-The-Go port, micro-USB power, HAT-compatible 40-pin header, composite video and reset headers, CSI camera connector, 11n wireless LAN, and Bluetooth 4.0. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Enlarge / A promotional image shows some of the games you’ll be able to download for one monthly subscription price through Xbox Game Pass. (credit: Xbox Wire ) Borrowing a page from Netflix’s unlimited subscription model, Microsoft today announced Game Pass , a service that will offer downloadable copies of over 100 Xbox One and backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games from the systems’ legacy catalogs for a $10-per-month subscription. Microsoft hasn’t provided a full list of games that will be available yet, but an e-mailed announcement included Halo 5: Guardians, Saints Row IV Re-Elected, NBA 2K16, Mad Max, LEGO Batman, Mega Man Legacy Collection, Terraria, Payday 2, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Fable III, SoulCalibur II and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 as examples of what to expect at launch. Publishers taking part in the program include 2K, 505 Games, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, Sega, SNK, THQ Nordic GmbH, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Microsoft Studios. New games will cycle in and out of availability with some regularity, Microsoft said. Still, based on the above list, we wouldn’t expect any major new releases to hit Game Pass until well after their traditional retail launches. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Amazon) When the Amazon infrastructure-as-a-service cloud goes down, Internet users are going to notice. Amazon Web Services, which powers a whole bunch of websites and online services, has been struggling today, and numerous sites that rely on Amazon infrastructure have gone offline as a result. Appropriately enough, ” Is It Down Right Now? ,” a site that tells you whether other sites are down, has been struggling to stay online. Other apparent victims include The AV Club , Trello, Quora, IFTTT, Open Whisper Systems , and websites created with Wix . Oh the irony! https://t.co/UlVux2PETS is down now too. #aws #s3 — Gillian Owen (@gilliancowen) February 28, 2017 Amazon itself was initially having trouble providing updates to its service health site. But the company posted this note at 2:35pm ET: “We have now repaired the ability to update the service health dashboard…. We continue to experience high error rates with S3 in US-EAST-1, which is impacting various AWS services. We are working hard at repairing S3, believe we understand root cause, and are working on implementing what we believe will remediate the issue.” Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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