Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May 3rd, 2017

The DRAS Phone: a Truly Foldable Smartphone

Posted by kenmay on May - 3 - 2017

Modern smartphones have grown in size as users require a larger screen to interact with, which simultaneously compromises a smartphone’s portability; the DRAS phone has been designed to address this issue. The design incorporates a flexible screen without a solid frame around it so that it can be folded to View the full content here

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Enlarge (credit: Raimond Spekking ) A known security hole in the networking protocol used by cellphone providers around the world played a key role in a recent string of attacks that drained bank customer accounts, according to a report published Wednesday. The unidentified attackers exploited weaknesses in Signalling System No. 7 , a telephony signaling language that more than 800 telecommunications companies around the world use to ensure their networks interoperate. SS7, as the protocol is known, makes it possible for a person in one country to send text messages to someone in another country. It also allows phone calls to go uninterrupted when the caller is traveling on a train. The same functionality can be used to eavesdrop on conversations, track geographic whereabouts, or intercept text messages. Security researchers demonstrated this dark side of SS7 last year when they stalked US Representative Ted Lieu using nothing more than his 10-digit cell phone number and access to an SS7 network. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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New zinc battery competes with lithium-ion

Posted by kenmay on May - 3 - 2017

Enlarge / Lithium-ion batteries do a lot of great things, but they also do this more often than we’d like. (credit: Crushader) Lithium batteries are currently the belle of the battery ball. They have a lot going for them, including high energy storage for their weight and the ability to charge and recharge many times before losing much capacity. But we’re all familiar with the drawbacks, too. Lithium-ion batteries pose a fire risk, and the lithium and cobalt used in them aren’t the most abundant elements, which makes things more expensive. Plenty of other possible battery chemistries could compete with lithium, but getting them to live up to their theoretical potential is difficult. Zinc, for example, performs admirably in your non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, and it could theoretically make a safer and cheaper rechargeable one—with a water-based electrolyte rather than a flammable organic one. This hasn’t happened, though, and the reason becomes apparent if you throw the batteries under a microscope. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Following a spate of suicides and murders that were streamed or hosted on Facebook for hours before they were taken down, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the company will be hiring an additional 3, 000 people to its global community operations team over the next year. That will bring the total size of the department to 7, 500, and the manpower will be dedicated to reviewing “the millions of reports we get every week, and improv(ing) the process for doing it quickly.” Zuckerberg wrote that these reviewers will “help us get better at removing things we don’t allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation, ” and that the social network will continue working with law enforcement and local community groups who “are in the best position to help someone if they need it.” In addition, Facebook will make it simpler for members to report problems and speed up the process for its reviewers to determine which posts violate community standards. The company previously opened up access to its suicide-prevention tools to all its users, and developed an AI system to identify potentially suicidal people. One of the biggest criticisms against Facebook in the recent incidents is its delay in addressing the problematic content on its video platform. Zuckerberg appears to acknowledge that issue in this post, saying “If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner — whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down.” Hiring more people over a year is a prolonged step towards alleviating the problem, but it will hopefully make for speedier response to such situations in future. Source: Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook post)

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Indian IT firm Infosys to hire 10,000 American workers

Posted by kenmay on May - 3 - 2017

Enlarge / Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka discussing financial results in Bangalore in April 2017. (credit: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images) An Indian company that has been accused of abusing the H-1B visa process says it will hire 10,000 American workers over the next two years. Bangalore-based Infosys, which has been criticized in testimony before Congress  over its use of the H-1B visa program, announced today that it will open four new US-based “Technology and Innovation Hubs” to serve Infosys clients in financial services, manufacturing, health care, and other industries. The first one will open in Indiana by August and is expected to create 2,000 jobs there by 2021. The move comes shortly after President Donald Trump signed an executive order asking agencies to study changes to the H-1B program, which is largely used to hire technology workers. Members of Congress from both parties have introduced bills this year that would change the H-1B program dramatically. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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When people say “3D printing” they commonly mean one of two things: FDM printing, which turns a plastic filament into something that can be squirted out of a nozzle; or one of multiple sintering processes, by which a machine uses lasers to fuse parts together out of metal powder. Plastic is not strong but it’s affordable. Metal is strong but it’s expensive, and the metal powders can reportedly provide a health threat to the operator. Zack Vader, who was then an 18-year-old student at the University of Buffalo, conceived of a 3D printer that would offer the best of both worlds. Five years later he and his mechanical engineer father have succeeded in creating it. Vader Systems’ MK1 Experimental machine can take inexpensive aluminum wire and, using the Vaders’ patented MagnetoJet technology, extrude it in liquefied form through a nozzle. The MK1 Experimental can 3D print at twice the speed of a powder bed machine and offers a shocking 90% reduction in the cost of producing parts. Here Zack and father Scott explain how the machine works, show you what it can do and explain how they pulled it off: This is no mere concept; the Vaders have won grants to develop the technology, have three advisors from the U. of B., have hired three mechanical engineers and are currently gearing up for production of the MK1 at a factory in nearby Getzville. They have attracted interest from the automotive supply industry, and the U. of B. reports that there are medical applications as well: Ciprian N. Ionita, PhD, a research assistant professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department — a joint effort of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB — foresees the Vader Systems printer ultimately printing out custom stents and other surgical devices right in the hospital. “This is a game changer, ” he said. The metal powder used in the current metal printing processes is a contaminant that is difficult to clean up and can be toxic inside the body. The Vader printer also will be valuable making custom knee and hip replacements, he said. The Vaders’ plan is to advance the technology so that it can print from copper and bronze wire as well. You can learn more about the machines, which will start rolling off of the assembly line in 2018, here .

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These cards are for throwing

Posted by kenmay on May - 3 - 2017

These Banshee playing cards are made for throwing! Made of plastic, heavier and stiffer than my normal US Playing Cards Bicycle 808 style decks, the Banshee cards sail through the air. The cards also have some cuts in their face to make them scream! Made of tougher stuff, these cards last a lot longer than a paper deck and are a bit easier to learn with. You will need to practice, however, these cards do not instantly imbue you with skill. Talk about useful skills to have at a party! Banshees: Cards for Throwing via Amazon

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Babylon 5 now available to stream for free in the US

Posted by kenmay on May - 3 - 2017

Babylon 5, even during its original run, was never particularly easy to watch when it aired. the changing TV landscape of the time, as well as the failure of B5’s original network PTEN and subsequent re-emergence on the TNT network, meant that timeslots and airdates shifted several times during the show’s five-year run. Show creator Joe Michael Sraczynski’s “B5 books” site is reporting that Go90.com now has the entire show available to stream for free for the first time, along with several other recent series. I’ve always believed that B5 represents one of the better Sci-Fi “space opera” TV shows in history, and one that many people were never able to watch during its run on television. The story and effects hold up extremely well for a show that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Now’s your chance to see it in its entirety on your own terms. Unfortunately, the site is US-only.

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