Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May 12th, 2017

An anonymous reader writes: The audio driver installed on some HP laptops includes a feature that could best be described as a keylogger, which records all the user’s keystrokes and saves the information to a local file, accessible to anyone or any third-party software or malware that knows where to look. Swiss cyber-security firm modzero discovered the keylogger on April 28 and made its findings public today. According to researchers, the keylogger feature was discovered in the Conexant HD Audio Driver Package version 1.0.0.46 and earlier. This is an audio driver that is preinstalled on HP laptops. One of the files of this audio driver is MicTray64.exe (C:windowssystem32mictray64.exe). This file is registered to start via a Scheduled Task every time the user logs into his computer. According to modzero researchers, the file “monitors all keystrokes made by the user to capture and react to functions such as microphone mute/unmute keys/hotkeys.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft announced that Ubuntu has arrived in the Windows Store. From a report: The company also revealed that it is working with Fedora and Suse to bring their distributions to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in Windows 10. At the conference last year, Microsoft announced plans to bring the Bash shell to Windows. The fruits of that labor was WSL, a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables (in ELF format) natively on Windows, which arrived with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update released in August 2016. Microsoft also partnered with Canonical to allow Ubuntu tools and utilities to run natively on top of the WSL. By bringing Ubuntu to the Windows Store, the company is now making it even easier for developers to install the tools and run Windows and Linux apps side by side. Working with other Linux firms shows that Microsoft’s deal with Canonical was not a one-time affair, but rather part of a long-term investment in the Linux world. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Enlarge / Project Neon in the Groove Music app. (credit: Tom Hounsell ) SEATTLE—Earlier this year, pictures of a new Windows look and feel leaked . Codenamed Project Neon , the new look builds on Microsoft Design Language 2 (MDL2), the styling currently used in Windows 10, to add elements of translucency and animation. Neon has now been officially announced, and it has an official new name: the Microsoft Fluent Design System. The awkward MDL2 name exists because the original codename for the geometric, text-centric style introduced with Windows Phone 7 and incrementally iterated ever since was subject of a trademark dispute. That look and feel was internally named Metro, but Microsoft had to stop using the Metro name after pushback from a German supermarket chain . The company didn’t initially have any particularly good name to refer to the styling formerly known as Metro, so many people continued to use that term for lack of anything better. It wasn’t until a couple of months after dropping “Metro” that a new name, “Microsoft Design Language,” was settled on. Our understanding is that Neon befell a similar fate; someone out there is using the Neon name, forcing Microsoft to pick a different appellation. This time around, however, the company has recognized that it’s important to have an official name for the style that it can talk about and describe, giving us “Microsoft Fluent Design System.” Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Microsoft Windows 10 was a big improvement over Windows 8.1 in most important ways, but it made a big change to the way OneDrive syncing worked. In Windows 8.1, you could see all the files you had stored in OneDrive, but the operating system would only actually download and open the file when you needed to open it. At least for PCs that usually have Internet connections, this was a neat way to offer cloud file syncing without consuming gigabytes of space for infrequently used files on every computer you were signed into. But the behavior could be error-prone—apps could attempt to open the placeholder files created by OneDrive rather than the files themselves—and it could create confusion about which files were actually available offline. So in the initial releases of Windows 10, Microsoft changed the behavior to be more Dropbox-esque . All OneDrive files are now downloaded to your PC when you sign in, though as with Dropbox you can choose to only sync selected folders based on what you need to have available at all times. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the more intriguing features Microsoft will include in this fall’s Windows 10 Creators Update is Timeline. As the name suggests, it’s a way for you to move backwards in time and see things you were working on in the past and resume what you were doing. Microsoft described it as a visual timeline of everything you were doing on your computer, and you can jump back into files, applications and websites where you left off. Introducing Timeline. Easily jump back in time to continue where you left off. #Windows10 #MSBuild pic.twitter.com/e3gxhXnp6W — Windows (@Windows) May 11, 2017 Timeline lives in the Windows app switcher. When you click it, you’ll see your active apps, but below that you’ll see what you were running earlier in the day. Clicking down on one of those things that you were using earlier will pop it open just as you were using it before. This works across multiple devices, as well — when you open up another Windows device where you’re signed in, you can resume the tasks you were using before. This will even work across other devices like an iPhone using the Cortana app. If you’re somewhere where you have Cortana, it’ll prompt you to continue working on whatever you were doing before. If you don’t have the specific app installed on your phone, it’ll help point you to the right app as well. At first glance, it sounds a little bit like the Time Machine backup feature that Apple has included in macOS for years now. But Time Machine is more of a file backup system that lets you go back and see earlier versions of files that you might want to restore. Microsoft’s Timeline covers applications and websites as well as just files, and it doesn’t require an external hard drive, as it’s not really a true backup system in the way Time Machine is. Indeed, Timeline appears more like Microsoft’s answer to Continuity, a feature Apple build into macOS and iOS that lets you pick up and resume work across whatever Apple device you’re using. Timeline is just one feature in the forthcoming Creators Update, which features a host of tools for using Microsoft’s software and services across devices. The “Microsoft Graph” set of APIs will let you pick up and continue work across multiple devices and will iOS and Android as well as Windows. It’ll also let you have a “universal clipboard” across your devices. Click here to catch up on the latest news from Microsoft Build 2017.

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Reddit Users Lose Real Money After Meme Currency Bot Dies

Posted by kenmay on May - 12 - 2017

Another day, another cryptocurrency clusterfuck. This week, the creator of the tipping bot “dogetipbot”—a service that let Reddit users “tip” each other in Dogecoin— announced that his company is broke, he’s broke, and the bot is broke because he spent all the coins, after he himself ran out of money. Read more…

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An anonymous reader writes: A confidential computer project designed to break military codes was accidentally made public by New York University engineers. An anonymous digital security researcher identified files related to the project while hunting for things on the internet that shouldn’t be, The Intercept reported. He used a program called Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices, to locate the project. It is the product of a joint initiative by NYU’s Institute for Mathematics and Advanced Supercomputing, headed by the world-renowned Chudnovsky brothers, David and Gregory, the Department of Defense, and IBM. Information on an exposed backup drive described the supercomputer, called — WindsorGreen — as a system capable of cracking passwords. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Bikers interested in going green have reason to rejoice today. Harley-Davidson has already shown off its prototype Livewire electric bike, and it’s promised to offer you a real one in the next five years . Today, the motorcycle manufacturer said it has plans to make 100 new motorcycles over the next 10 years, including an entire range of electric vehicles. Vice president Bill Davidson confirmed that electric bikes are Harley-Davidson’s future to Drive magazine while in Sydney to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary in Australia. While an electric Harley won’t have the signature engine boom that its combustion-powered bikes have, Davidson said that the company is working on a sound that he likens to a jet engine. “It is an amazing motorcycle, ” he told Drive . “While it doesn’t have a 45-degree, pushrod twin-cylinder engine it has the performance expected from a Harley Davidson even if it won’t sound the same, ” he said. So far, we’ve only seen the one Livewire concept model with a limited top speed and range, it’s likely thHarleyely-Davidson will create both sport and cruiser-style bikes to appeal to both the speed freaks and the touring bikers. Davidson noted that as automated cars become more ubiquitous, driving enthusiasts may turn to motorcycles to get their manual fix, telling Drive , “I think the more automatic cars [happen], motorcycling will become more appealing. I see it as a huge opportunity.” Via: Autoblog Source: Drive

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Trump Signs Executive Order On Cybersecurity

Posted by kenmay on May - 12 - 2017

President Trump on Thursday signed a long-delayed executive order on cybersecurity that “makes clear that agency heads will be held accountable for protecting their networks, and calls on government and industry to reduce the threat from automated attacks on the internet, ” reports The Washington Post. From the report: Picking up on themes advanced by the Obama administration, Trump’s order also requires agency heads to use Commerce Department guidelines to manage risk to their systems. It commissions reports to assess the country’s ability to withstand an attack on the electric grid and to spell out the strategic options for deterring adversaries in cyberspace. [Thomas Bossert, Trump’s homeland security adviser] said the order was not, however, prompted by Russia’s targeting of electoral systems last year. In fact, the order is silent on addressing the security of electoral systems or cyber-enabled operations to influence elections, which became a significant area of concern during last year’s presidential campaign. The Department of Homeland Security in January declared election systems “critical infrastructure.” The executive order also does not address offensive cyber operations, which are generally classified. This is an area in which the Trump administration is expected to be more forward-leaning than its predecessor. Nor does it spell out what type of cyberattack would constitute an “act of war” or what response the attack would invite. “We’re not going to draw a red line, ” Bossert said, adding that the White House does not “want to telegraph our punches.” The order places the defense secretary and the head of the intelligence community in charge of protecting “national security” systems that operate classified and military networks. But the secretary of homeland security will continue to be at the center of the national plan for protecting critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid and financial sector. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Germany was able to set a new national record for the last weekend of April with 85 percent of all electricity consumed in the country being produced from renewables — wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power. Digital Trends reports: Aided by a seasonal combination of windy but sunny weather, during that weekend the majority of Germany’s coal-fired power stations weren’t even operating, while nuclear power stations (which the country plans to phase out by the year 2022) were massively reduced in output. To be clear, this is impressive even by Germany’s progressive standards. By comparison, in March just over 40 percent of all electricity consumed in the country came from renewable sources. However, while the end-of-April weekend was an aberration, the hope is that it won’t be for too much longer. According to Patrick Graichen of the country’s sustainability-focused Agora Energiewende Initiative, German renewable energy percentages in the mid-80s should be “completely normal” by the year 2030. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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