Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April, 2017

Haha! Lucky riders on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland were treated to a live Jack Sparrow animatronics performance yesterday by Johnny Depp. He made a surprise visit to the park as part of a PR stunt. It’s fun to hear the passengers as they realize that the real Johnny Depp is standing right in front of them.

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Facebook and Google Were Victims of $100M Payment Scam

Posted by kenmay on April - 28 - 2017

Employees of Facebook and Google were the victims of an elaborate $100 million phishing attack, according to a new report on Fortune, which further adds that the employees were tricked into sending money to overseas bank accounts. From the report: In 2013, a 40-something Lithuanian named Evaldas Rimasauskas allegedly hatched an elaborate scheme to defraud U.S. tech companies. According to the Justice Department, he forged email addresses, invoices, and corporate stamps in order to impersonate a large Asian-based manufacturer with whom the tech firms regularly did business. The point was to trick companies into paying for computer supplies. The scheme worked. Over a two-year span, the corporate imposter convinced accounting departments at the two tech companies to make transfers worth tens of millions of dollars. By the time the firms figured out what was going on, Rimasauskas had coaxed out over $100 million in payments, which he promptly stashed in bank accounts across Eastern Europe. Fortune adds that the investigation raises questions about why the companies have so far kept silence and whether — as a former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission observes — it triggers an obligation to tell investors about what happened. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Nintendo programmer Masahiro Sakura coded the Game Boy classic Kirby’s Dream Land on a cartridge-based Famicom console and Disk System that lacked a hardware keyboard. According to a recent presentation given by Sakura, “values had to be input using a trackball and an on-screen keyboard.” Sakura, who was 20-years-old at the time, said he just thought that was “the way it was done.” From Game Watch’s report in Japanese, translated by Source Gaming : At the time, the development tool that HAL Laboratory was using was the Twin Famicom, a console that combined the Famicom and the Famicom Disk System. A trackball made specifically for the Twin Famicom was used with the machine, which read and wrote data to a floppy disk and uploaded data to the floppy disks [during development]. Essentially, they were using a Famicom to make Famicom games. Sakurai told the crowd, “It’s like using a lunchbox to make lunch”. However, because of that, they were able to create a functional test product before the project plan was even completed. (via Ars Technica )

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McDonald’s already tried delivering Quarter Pounder combo meals via Uber in Florida and now the fast-food restaurant it ready to expand the option. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that McDonald’s will launch its delivery option in more cities before the end of June. And yes, it’s still powered by UberEats . That original testing phase included 200 locations in Florida, and for now, there’s no word on exactly where the delivery option is headed next. Those details are likely to come soon, so you might be able to satisfy your Big Mac craving without leaving the house in the near future. For now, McDonald’s is trying to perfect the process of accepting orders, finding the right packaging for deliveries and tackling other “operational challenges.” The company also tried its hand at delivery in 2015 with help from Postmates. That initiative is limited to New York City, though. Delivery isn’t the only move McDonald’s is making to meet the needs of diners in 2017. The company began testing mobile ordering and payments back in March, a feature of its app that’s now available for 400 locations in Chicago, California, Washington state and the DC area. The plan is for every location to have the mobile ordering system in place eventually. As part of the Uber news, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook explained that restaurant redesigns and digital options like mobile ordering are top priorities over the next two years. Source: Crain’s Chicago Business

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Take a look at Apple’s self-driving test vehicle

Posted by kenmay on April - 28 - 2017

Photos obtained by Bloomberg are giving us our first look at what appears to be a testbed for Apple’s self-driving car technology. An observer caught the Lexus SUV (looking similar to the demo vehicle above) rolling out of an Apple facility in Silicon Valley, rocking an extensive kit including Velodyne LiDAR units and radar sensors, which help the car observe the world around it. Apple picked up a permit to test its autonomous technology on California streets a couple of weeks ago, and it apparently isn’t waiting to get started. According to an expert cited by Bloomberg, the kit observed appears to consist of “off the shelf” sensors from third parties like Velodyne , instead of custom hardware. It’s unclear what form the scaled-back Project Titan plans could eventually take, but getting time on the road is a big first step. Here’s the car that #Apple ‘s using to test its autonomous car technology. Story with @mhbergen . https://t.co/jHLnJDRjoS pic.twitter.com/zTezUmcZwC — Alex Webb (@atbwebb) April 27, 2017 Source: Bloomberg

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Few sad as About.com closure announced

Posted by kenmay on April - 27 - 2017

When long-lived websites close down, they often give little notice, sending archivists scrambling to rescue its work for posterity. About.com, the venerable topic-mining hive abruptly put to death, seems to be a counter-example: a faceless mountain of bland, undifferentiated, half-plagiarized content that no-one seems sad to see vanish . Even its own CEO is plainly contemptuous of it. That’s why Vogel tells Business Insider he’s going to shut the site down as of May 2nd. “I got a phone call from Joey Levin, who is the CEO of IAC [About.com Group’s parent company]. He asked, ‘What do you think of About.com?'” Vogel told BI. “My answer — in perfect arrogance — was ‘I don’t.’ Who thinks of About.com? Nobody.” But not all of About.com is going away necessarily. Vogel says he will take parts of the website and turn them into separate niche verticals, then announce a new name for the overarching brand at a conference in New Orleans. “A year ago we were a general interest site,” Vogel told The Drum in March. “We were not growing. In fact, we were kind of shrinking. We had great content, but we were doing the wrong thing.” About.com was one of the earliest big web successes to cash out: to Prime Media in 2000 for $690m, then to the New York Times in 2005 for $410m, IAC in 2012 for $300m, and now to the deep void for sweet fuck all—but also the hope that the staff and infrastructure can be used to launch something new. “I’m not going to be the guy who ruined About.com,” Vogel told Business Inside. “ It’s already ruined, so this is all upside here. ”

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Acer’s new Predator gaming laptop may actually be portable

Posted by kenmay on April - 27 - 2017

What’s the point of getting a powerful laptop if you can’t drag it to a gaming party? Acer’s latest back-to-school update for its Predator series of laptops , the Triton 700, may actually be portable enough for those trips. It packs the latest NVIDIA graphics chips and an advanced dual-fan cooling system into a chassis that’s just 18.9mm (or 0.75 inches) tall. Acer hasn’t shared many other details about the notebook yet, except to say that it will be ready for the back-to-school season this summer. Folks who don’t need quite as premium a system can consider the new Nitro 5 laptop, which offers NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050Ti graphics and the company’s CoolBoost cooling system. Again, at its New York presentation, the company didn’t dwell very long on each product, so other details about the laptop are scant, and we’ll update this post as we get more later from our hands-on. For those who prefer to invest in their at-home battle stations, Acer also unveiled a 27-inch 4K gaming monitor called the Predator X27. It boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time and uses Quantom Dot technology for better image quality while saving energy. The X27, like many of its rivals, supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync HDR technology for smoother streams with higher definition and contrast. We’ll be taking a closer look at Acer’s gaming lineup for 2017 later, so check back here for more information. Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

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How to Add Metal Inlay to Wood

Posted by kenmay on April - 27 - 2017

Adding metal inlay is a nice way to provide visual pop to wooden objects or furniture: The art of inlay is something that used to take decades to master. Now, with digital fabrication tools–or heck, maybe even a trim router with a downcut bit guided by a steady hand–the cutting part goes a lot quicker. However, that doesn’t mean the work can be taken lightly. As Instructables user Ninjosh shows, there’s still a fair bit of manual labor and finessing involved: “Inlays are a great way to set your work apart in a crowded market, ” writes Ninjosh. If you’d like to give it a try yourself, he’s laid out a comprehensive Instructable listing all the tools you’ll need and offering plenty of helpful advice, including the all-important, time-saving what-not-to-do’s. Check it out here .

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Superblack soft-serve ice-cream

Posted by kenmay on April - 27 - 2017

The Little Damage ice-cream shop near downtown LA has unveiled a new, superblack soft-serve flavor called “Almond Charcoal” whose coloring comes from activated charcoal. (more…)

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Reddit plans to make big changes to how the site looks

Posted by kenmay on April - 26 - 2017

Reddit’s default design is a throwback to simpler times on the internet. However, moderators on the site’s numerous subreddits put a bunch of work into making sure their communities stand out from each other by employing CSS (cascading style sheets) to change everything from banner images, fonts, icons and other aspects of the user interface. Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman said that’s going to change, as the massive discussion board is undergoing an overhaul. Among his reasons — CSS being difficult to learn, and it not translating to mobile where Reddit apparently gets over half its traffic — Huffman also says that the site using the coding language has impeded growth and change. “CSS causes us to move slow, ” he said. “We’d like to make changes more quickly. You’ve asked us to improve things, and one of the things that slows us down is the risk of breaking subreddit CSS (and third-party mod tools).” In the next few months, the site will begin transitioning away from CSS. From the sounds of it, though, a lot of the CSS-powered customization features are going to be built into the site proper. Community calendars and “a lot of the functionality” from sidebars will be available via widgets. The redesigned site will run in parallel with the current version as the changes are implemented. Huffman said the ultimate goal is to replicate what’s already available, and that the dev team will make it easier to use and viewable on the go. Speaking directly to the last point, Huffman said that header images and flair colors will render on both desktop and mobile after the changes. As for mod tools, Huffman said that Reddit is in talks with the developers of third-party mod-tool provider Toolbox to port its functionality into the redesign. Perhaps unexpectedly, Reddit’s users aren’t too excited about the new direction. The big worry is that the changes will strip Reddit’s mods of some of their creative control for their respective communities and that everything is going to look a bit more boring as a result. That might be taking the announcement a little too far. For all we know, there’s a chance that the changeover won’t affect much. Or there’s the other possibility: Reddit will realize how big of an undertaking this is and abandon the refresh — something Huffman hinted at in the comments of his post. Replying to a mod who asked what incentive there was to keep working while the changes were coming, Huffman had this to say: “I would advice [sic] to continue developing until the new stuff is real. Who knows, maybe we’ll screw it up and never release it..” So long as r/CrappyDesign (above) can keep its intentionally awful Comic Sans UI and layout, we’ll be happy. Via: The Verge Source: Reddit

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