Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 5th, 2017

Enlarge / This option is the best way of transitioning out of the Insider Program. (credit: Microsoft) The “official” release of the Windows 10 Creators Update , version 1703, won’t come until Patch Tuesday on April 11, but if you want to upgrade now—and don’t want to enroll your system in the potentially unstable Windows Insider Program—you can now do so. The Windows 10 Update Assistant will upgrade any Windows 10 Home or Pro system to the Creators Update; you’ll need to grab the latest version of the Assistant and then run it, but it should be straightforward enough. If you’re upgrading more than one machine or want to perform a clean install, the Media Creation Tool, available from the same link, is the better bet; the Media Creation Tool can fetch an ISO to burn a DVD or create a bootable USB drive, and that can be used for bare metal installs. The Creators Update itself is build 15063.0, but there will be a small Cumulative Update delivered on April 11. Previews of this patch have been rolled out to insiders, with the fast ring Insiders on 15063.14 and slow ring Insiders on 15063.13. Using the Update Assistant or Media Creation Tool appears to also update to 15063.13. This situation may well change by the actual release day next week. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Biggest Misconceptions About VPNs

Posted by kenmay on April - 5 - 2017

Have you heard? Internet service providers want to sell your data and a virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to tell them to shove off . There’s a problem though. VPNs are notoriously shady, are more complicated than they look, they’re unregulated, and can be more of a security risk than they’re worth if you… Read more…

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On Wednesday, stun gun maker Taser announced that it’s offering free body cameras to every police department in the United States. That’s 700, 000 cops across 18, 000 departments. Rebranding itself as “Axon” (as in the nerve fibers that connect neurons throughout the human body), the company said in a press release that… Read more…

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Sony’s SSDs can withstand the torture of capturing 4K

Posted by kenmay on April - 5 - 2017

Aspiring 4K filmmakers who want the best quality can buy pro-level RAW video cameras on the cheap, or use a DSLR with an external 4K recorder like the Atomos Ninja 2 . However, the SSDs on such devices often record and dump out high bit-rate 4K video multiple times a week, so they need to be much faster and more durable than the one on your laptop. That’s where Sony comes in with its latest G Series Professional SSDs, which can write up to 2, 400 terabytes without failing and use tech that prevents disastrous frame dropping. Sony says the SV-GS96 960GB model’s 2, 400 terabyte rating will let you fully write the drive five days a week for ten years without failing, while the 480GB model (SV-GS48) gives you about half that durability. Both drives can read at up to 550 MB/s and write at 500 MB/s, but Sony adds that the drives “feature built-in technology preventing sudden speed decreases, while ensuring stable recording of high bit-rate 4K video without frame dropping.” The drives also have built-in data protection tech that protects them from power failures and connectors that can handle 3, 000 removal and insertions, “six times more tolerance than standard SATA connectors, ” it says. Performance and ruggedness comes at a price. The 960GB unit costs $539, compared to around $350 for a Kingston HyperX Savage 960GB drive, a model that’s rated to capture 4K RAW video with Blackmagic’s BMCC camera . The 480GB SSD is a bit more reasonable at $287 compared to around $190 for the equivalent Kingston model. Considering the thousands that an SSD failure could cost , filmmaker will likely see the difference as chump change. Sony says they’ll arrive in May 2017. Source: Sony

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An anonymous reader writes from a report via BleepingComputer: Last week, at the BlackHat Asia 2017 security conference, researchers from cyber-security firm Cylance disclosed two vulnerabilities in the firmware of Gigabyte BRIX small computing devices, which allow an attacker to write malicious content to the UEFI firmware. During their presentation, researchers installed a proof-of-concept UEFI ransomware, preventing the BRIX devices from booting, but researchers say the same flaws can be used to plant rootkits that allow attackers to persist malware for years. The two vulnerabilities discovered are CVE-2017-3197 and CVE-2017-3198. The first is a failure on Gigabyte’s part to implement write protection for its UEFI firmware. The second vulnerability is another lapse on Gigabyte’s side, who forgot to implement a system that cryptographically signs UEFI firmware files. Add to this the fact that Gigabyte uses an insecure firmware update process, which doesn’t check the validity of downloaded files using a checksum and uses HTTP instead of HTTPS. A CERT vulnerability note was published to warn users of the impending danger and the bugs’ ease of exploitation. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Invader Zim teaser for a new animated TV movie Invader Zim , the Nickelodeon animated series that ran for two seasons in the early ’00s, will end its longtime television absence “soon-ish.” The cable network announced its intentions on Tuesday in the form of a dry press release and a far-less-dry animated teaser. In the teaser, Zim, the series’ neurotic titular alien, announces his evil intentions under the veil of darkness—and then is interrupted by his longtime robo-pal Gir. “I like your voice!” Gir chuckles mid-video. “It’s funny!” “I’m not BEING funny!” Zim retorts. “I’m being, you know, terrifying and spooky!” Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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While others try shoes that lace themselves or have 3D printed soles , Reebok will have “plant-based” footwear on shelves this year. Adidas already sold a sneaker produced from ocean-plastic , but Reebok’s “Cotton + Corn” push is focused on shoes that are made from sustainable, growing materials, that can even be used as compost after they’re worn out. According to Reebok Future head Bill McInnis “We like to say, we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok. Ultimately, our goal is to create a broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use. We’ll then use that compost as part of the soil to grow the materials for the next range of shoes. We want to take the entire cycle into account; to go from dust to dust.” While the shoe itself won’t arrive until later this year, Reebok says it’s using DuPont’s Susterra Propanediol to create the sole. It originates from “non-food source” industrially grown corn, while the upper will be made of organic cotton. Last year, the Future department the Liquid Speed shoes made with 3D drawing technology , and this next project will fit right alongside them. More importantly, McInnis claims this is “just the beginning, ” and expects to use it as a blueprint moving forward. Source: Reebok

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Norway’s famous doomsday seed vault is getting a new neighbor. It’s called the Arctic World Archive, and it aims to do for data what the Svalbard Global Seed Vault has done for crop samples — provide a remote, impregnable home in the Arctic permafrost, safe from threats like natural disaster and global conflicts. But while the Global Seed Vault is (partially) funded by charities who want to preserve global crop diversity, the World Archive is a for-profit business, created by Norwegian tech company Piql and Norway’s state mining company SNSK. The Archive was opened on March 27th this year, with the first customers — the governments of Brazil, Mexico, and Norway — depositing copies of various historical documents in the vault. Data is stored in the World Archive on optical film specially developed for the task by Piql. (And, yes, the company name is a pun on the word pickle, as in preserving-in-vinegar.) The company started life in 2002 making video formats that bridged analog film and digital media, but as the world went fully digital it adapted its technology for the task of long-term storage. As Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand tells The Verge: “Film is an optical medium, so what we do is, we take files of any kind of data — documents, PDFs, JPGs, TIFFs — and we convert that into big, high-density QR codes. Our QR codes are massive, and very high resolution; we use greyscale to get more data into every code. And in this way we convert a visual storage medium, film, into a digital one.” Once data is imprinted on film, the reels are stored in a converted mineshaft in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The mineshaft (different to the one used by the Global Seed Vault) was originally operated by SNSK for the mining of coal, but was abandoned in 1995. The vault is 300 meters below the ground and impervious to both nuclear attacks and EMPs. Piql claims its proprietary film format will store data safely for at least 500 years, and maybe as long as 1, 000 years, with the assistance of the mine’s climate. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Driverless pods begin ferrying the public around Greenwich

Posted by kenmay on April - 5 - 2017

It’s been almost a year since the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) opened sign-ups for a driverless pod trial in Greenwich. The original plan was to start before Christmas, but given today’s date that obviously didn’t happen. Still, better late than never, eh? Over the next three weeks, roughly 100 people will clamber aboard “Harry, ” a self-driving shuttle named after clockmaker John Harrison. It will take them around a two-mile course in North Greenwich, near The O2, to demonstrate how the technology could be used for “last mile” trips in urban areas. The shuttle is a repurposed Ultra Pod , which is already in operation at London’s Heathrow Airport. With a maximum speed of 10MPH (16KPH), it’s not the fastest electric vehicle — you could beat it on a Boosted Board — however it’s hoped the leisurely pace will reassure pedestrians and minimise dangerous incidents. Each pod carries up to four people, including a safety operator who can pepper the breaks in an emergency. It’s able to ‘see’ it’s surroundings using a mixture of cameras and lasers, and use that information to track obstacles and create a collision-free route. Notably, it doesn’t need to rely on GPS for any of these calculations. The purpose of the trials is to see how the public reacts to self-driving vehicles, and to examine how the technology can best be applied in built-up areas. Each trip will give the research team a wealth of valuable information — four terabytes of data every eight hours, to be precise. It’ll be supplemented with passenger interviews, taken before and after each trip, and written feedback that anyone can submit online through an interactive map . “It is critical that the public is fully involved as these technologies become a reality, ” Professor Nick Reed, academy director at TRL said. The “GATEway Project” at Greenwich is one of many research initiatives being funded by the UK government. We’ve already seen the ” Lutz Pathfinder ” pod, which is being tested in Milton Keynes, and a modified Land Rover that’s serving as a research testbed in Bristol. Plans are also underway for a 41-mile ” connected corridor , ” which will be used to test LTE, local WiFi hotspots and other forms of connectivity in self-driving vehicles. In the private sector, Nissan is testing its electric Leaf cars in the capital, and Roborace is developing a driverless motorsport . It’s an impressive hub of activity, even without Google and Uber’s involvement. Via: BBC

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Tizen is Samsung’s long-touted OS to replace Android and Israeli security researcher Amihai Neiderman just delivered a talk on it at Kapersky Lab’s Security Analyst Summit where he revealed 40 new 0-day flaws in the OS, and showed that he could trivially send malicious code updates to any Tizen device, from TVs to phones, thanks to amateurish mistakes of the sort not seen in real production environments for decades. (more…)

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