Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for May 31st, 2017

The practice of hacking standard Super Mario World cartridges on stock Super Nintendo hardware has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, it required a robot entering thousands of button presses per second to insert arbitrary code on top of the game. By last year, streamer SethBling was proving that this kind of code insertion was possible for a human acting with pixel-perfect precision. Now, SethBling and others in the SMW hacking community have taken things a step further, permanently writing a full hex editor and gameplay mods onto a stock Super Mario World cartridge using nothing but standard controller inputs. SethBling’s ten-minute video explaining the entire “jailbreaking” process is a must-watch for anyone interested in the particulars of perpetually altering a 25-year-old game without any special hardware. In short, the jailbreak builds on an exploit discovered by Cooper Harrsyn that lets players write data directly to the small, 256-byte save files that are permanently stored on the Super Mario World cartridge. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Controversy over DNA sequencing of 90 Egyptian mummies

Posted by kenmay on May - 31 - 2017

One of the most hotly-contested fields of genetics revolves around the genetic lineage of ancient Egyptians. A new study of 90 Pre-Ptolemaic, Ptolemaic, and Roman mummies raises as many questions as it answers. (more…)

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PCs are making a comeback, if the news out of Computex 2017 is any indication, and Microsoft wants to make sure they’re all constantly connected . To support that vision, Intel is making its current and future modems compatible with e-SIMs, so future laptops can connect to LTE networks without physical SIM-card trays. That’s because the technology you’d typically find in a SIM card will be embedded into its modems, so you can connect your machine just by entering a phone number and avoid having to fiddle with a tiny tray. The chip maker says it is working on validating “e-SIM-enabled always-connected platforms with multiple carriers using the Intel XMMTM 7260 modem and our upcoming Intel XMM 7360 modem.” At its keynote, Microsoft announced a slew of carriers that will support the e-SIM devices, including T-Mobile, AT&T, Vodafone and other international service providers. The always connected PC project is another part of the two brands’ Project Evo collaboration to deliver Windows devices across multiple product categories. So this could mean e-SIM-enabled speakers or VR headsets in future, too. Click here to catch up on the latest news from Computex 2017!

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Tabletop Audio: ambient loops for your RPGs

Posted by kenmay on May - 31 - 2017

“Role-players, boardgamers, writers, coders, artists, graphic designers, teachers, house-cleaners, lucid dreamers, gym-rats, distance runners, commuters” can enjoy over 100 ambient atmospheric loops with names like “Orbital Promenade,” “Lunar Outpost,” “Testing Chamber” and so on. (more…)

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WD’s next-gen SSDs add even more speed and capacity

Posted by kenmay on May - 31 - 2017

Hard disk specialist Western Digital (WD) acquired SSD maker SanDisk last year for a colossal $19 billion, and now we’re getting some idea as to its strategy. The company unveiled two new lineups — branded under each company’s names — that feature the first SSDs to use 64-layer 3D NAND chips developed by SanDisk. The new, higher capacity chips will allow for “lower power consumption and higher performance, endurance and capacities, ” Western Digital wrote in its press release . The two lines, WD Blue and SanDisk Ultra 3D, are identical capacity-wise, use the same controllers and have identical performance specs — though WD Blue also offers a M.2 2280 device that SanDisk doesn’t. All of the 256GB drives, both in 2.5-inch and M.2 formats, start at a very reasonable $100. They also come in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB sizes, but WD hasn’t listed prices for those items yet. That information will be particularly interesting, since the drives require fewer chips than rival SSDs, which will hopefully drive down the prices. As for the performance, it’s pretty, pretty good. The larger capacity devices can read at 550 MB/s and write 560 MB/s, and the 256GB SSD is just a touch slower (550 MB/s and 525 MB/s). Perhaps more importantly, all products have a mean time to failure (MTTF) of 1.75 million hours. WD says that’s “industry-leading, ” but it falls behind some products, including Samsung’s (more expensive) 850 Pro , which sports a two million hour MTBF. WD gave a pretty good clue as to why it’s offering identical products under different labels. “Between our two strong brands in SanDisk and WD, and their respective loyal customer bases and distribution channels, these advanced SSDs will appeal to a very broad [range of consumers], ” said WD CEO Mike Cordano. In other words, WD has huge stores of goodwill in both brands, and it’s not willing to give that up to save some marketing costs. Source: Western Digital

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From Tallahassee, Florida’s Lofty Pursuits who offer these “handmade artisinal candies” at $6 for a 2.75oz bag: A new technique for a new effect in our image candies. These Crystal Roses are formed from nothing but hot sugar, and flavors. This is the first in a series of candies using this kind of design.

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Ridley Scott pauses his iconic in-camera chestburster scene in several places to show the tricks he used to make it so memorable. (more…)

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