Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May, 2017

https://youtu.be/27dnddCq5gc Here’s how to make web page with cute dog photos, taught by Satan!

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Cody Xiong from North Carolina should have kept his mouth shut, but when police came to his door to ask about something unrelated, the paranoid poppy grower said, “I guess you’re here for the opium.” This led police to discover over an acre of poppy plants, worth about $500 million, in Xiong’s backyard. According to Time : Investigators believe the plants were being harvested in Xiong’s isolated rural lot, before being shipped elsewhere. Opium poppies are used to make opium, morphine, codeine and heroin, and police estimated that the haul consisted of over 2,000 pounds of the plant. Xiong was arrested at the site and charged with manufacturing a Schedule II drug and trafficking in opium, both felonies. He was later released from jail after posting $45,000 bail. Image: Magnus Manske

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Qualcomm pays BlackBerry $940 million in royalty spat

Posted by kenmay on May - 27 - 2017

Qualcomm hasn’t been very successful with its licensing practices. It’s gotten into trouble in South Korea for charging phone makers over an “unnecessarily broad set of patents” It has also been dealing with lawsuits from the FTC and Apple for similar tactics. Qualcomm was ordered to pay BlackBerry $815 million in an arbitration settlement last April. BlackBerry announced today that the two companies have reached a final agreement amount of $940 miillion, which includes the original arbitration amount along with interst and attorneys’ fees. The release says that Qualcomm will pay the full amount before the end of May. BlackBerry has been trying to change its fortune after getting out of phone design . It brought in $286 million in revenue last quarter, making this $940 million settlement a much needed infusion of cash to can help the beleaguered company pivot towards self-driving cars . For its part, Qualcomm seems to be weathering the storm of lawsuits and anti-trust fines with countersuits and settlements like the current BlackBerry agreement. Qualcomm’s chips power a large number of mobile devices, with a Snapdragon system-on-chips in high-end Android phones. The company also continues to expand to as many other devices as possible, including IoT and connected cars . We’ve reached out to Qualcomm for comment on this story and will update when we hear back. Source: Blackberry

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Hackers stole credit card information from customers at Chipotle restaurants across the United States between March 24th and April 18th, the company announced today. Chipotle revealed in April that it had been the victim of an attack, and today it shared details about the type of information stolen from customers, which covered “cardholder name in addition to card number, expiration date, and internal verification code.” No other information was compromised, Chipotle said. The attack pulled data off the magnetic strips of credit cards used in physical Chipotle locations around the US. The company has not said how many customers were affected, though it offered a searchable list of locations that were actually hit in the attack, including the dates each restaurant was vulnerable. Some were compromised for about a week, and others for the full four weeks. If you swiped a credit card at a Chipotle in March or April, check out the list of affected restaurants right here . “Because of the nature of the incident and the type of data involved, we do not know how many unique payment cards may have been involved, ” Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Engadget. As Reuters notes, Chipotle is not offering credit monitoring services to compromised customers. The company said monitoring services don’t alert customers when a fraudulent charge is made in their name. “Chipotle takes this kind of issue very seriously, and we regret any inconvenience or concern it may have caused, ” Arnold told Engadget. “To help prevent a similar incident from recurring, we have resolved the issue and continue to work with cyber security firms to evaluate ways to enhance our security measures.” Source: Chipotle

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Feast your eyes on this 600-DPI e-paper screen

Posted by kenmay on May - 26 - 2017

 I have to say, I really like e-paper. And it’s come a long way since the crude early Kindles — nowadays you have e-readers that are as high-resolution as the best phones and iPads. And they’re set to get even better if E-Ink’s latest screens make it into a few products, as I hope they do. Read More

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Chinese tech giant Baidu’s text-to-speech system, Deep Voice , is making a lot of progress toward sounding more human. The latest news about the tech are audio samples showcasing its ability to accurately portray differences in regional accents. The company says that the new version, aptly named Deep Voice 2, has been able to “learn from hundreds of unique voices from less than a half an hour of data per speaker, while achieving high audio quality.” That’s compared to the 20 hours hours of training it took to get similar results from the previous iteration, for a single voice, further pushing its efficiency past Google’s WaveNet in a few months time. Baidu says that unlike previous text-to-speech systems, Deep Voice 2 finds shared qualities between the training voices entirely on its own, and without any previous guidance. “Deep voice 2 can learn from hundreds of voices and imitate them perfectly, ” a blog post says. In a research paper (PDF), Baidu concludes that its neural network can create voice pretty effectively even from small voice samples from hundreds of different speakers. All of which to say, it might not be long before we start hearing digital assistants that are more representative of the voices users encounter in their day-to-day lives. To hear how far the tech has come and for more information of how the team got to this point, hit the source links below. Via: The Verge Source: Baidu (1) , (2) (PDF)

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An anonymous reader writes: In another intraday jump of more than $200, bitcoin surged to a record Thursday on strong Asian demand overnight. Bitcoin jumped more than 10 percent to an all-time high of $2, 752.07, more than twice its April 30 price of $1, 347.96 according to CoinDesk. The digital currency last traded near $2, 726. At Thursday’s record, Bitcoin has now gained more than 45 percent since last Thursday and more than 180 percent for the year so far. “There is no question that we are in the middle of a price frenzy, ” said Brian Kelly of BKCM, in a note to clients Thursday. “There will be a correction and it could be severe, but it’s unclear if that correction will start from current prices of $2700 or from some place much higher.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Millions of people risk having their devices and systems compromised by malicious subtitles, according to a new research published by security firm Check Point. The threat comes from a previously undocumented vulnerability which affects users of popular streaming software, including Kodi, Popcorn-Time, and VLC. Developers of the applications have already applied fixes and in some cases, working on it. From a report: While most subtitle makers do no harm, it appears that those with malicious intent can exploit these popular streaming applications to penetrate the devices and systems of these users. Researchers from Check Point, who uncovered the problem, describe the subtitle ‘attack vector’ as the most widespread, easily accessed and zero-resistance vulnerability that has been reported in recent years. “By conducting attacks through subtitles, hackers can take complete control over any device running them. From this point on, the attacker can do whatever he wants with the victim’s machine, whether it is a PC, a smart TV, or a mobile device, ” they write. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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A half-lap joint is good-looking, functional and, once you get good at it, quick to cut with hand tools. But even if you get the joint to fit snugly, the intersections may show ugly gaps due to slight imperfections in your sawing or chiseling technique. Traditional Japanese woodworking has a method to completely erase those gaps, and to get the joint fitting so tightly that when removed, you can actually see the imprint of one workpiece on the other:  The technique is called kigoroshi , and here’s how they do it . (Sorry folks, the creator has disabled embedding.) See Also: The Ultimate Wood Joint Visual Reference Guide

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JSON Feed Announced As Alternative To RSS

Posted by kenmay on May - 24 - 2017

Reader Anubis IV writes: With Slashdot recently asking whether we still use RSS, it may come as a surprise that something interesting has happened in the world of news feeds this week. JSON Feed was launched as an alternative to RSS and Atom, eschewing the XML they rely on — which is frequently malformed and difficult to parse — in favor of a human readable JSON format that reflects the decades of combined experience its authors have in the field. The JSON Feed spec is a simple read that lays out a number of pragmatic benefits the format has over RSS and Atom, such as eliminating duplicate entries, adding the ability to paginate feeds so that old entries remain available, and reducing the need for clients to scrape sites to find images and other resources. Given that it’s authored by the developers behind one of the earliest, popular RSS clients and a recently Kickstarted blogging platform, the format is intended to address the common pain points currently faced by developers when producing and parsing feeds. While it remains to be seen whether JSON Feed will escape the chicken-and-egg stage of adoption, several clients have already added support for the fledging format in the week since its announcement, including Feedbin, Inoreader, and NewsBlur. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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