Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for June 6th, 2017

Atlas Obscura discloses a secret library, The Conjuring Arts Research Center , established to preserve the secrets of magic! The not-for-profit organization was established in 2003, “dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts.” It was started by William Kalush, who developed a love of magic from the card tricks shown to him by his father, a Marine wounded in World War II. This love of card magic turned to a love of collecting magic books, which now form a wondrous collection of over 15,000 books—some dating to over 600 years old—housed in this hidden location. “I like early books that no one else has ever seen”, Kalush says, sitting in a high-backed, ornately carved wooden chair that wouldn’t look out of place with a wizard sitting on it. “Books of performances pieces, card secrets, many that are unique.” Browsing through the shelves stacked with all things conjuring, you will find obscure books on sleight-of-hand techniques, mentalism, deceptive gambling, the history of magic, and the mysterious secrets of card tricks. One book is the seminal The Expert At the Card Table, which appeared in 1902, written by an S. W. Erdnase. It’s one of the most detailed collections of sleight-of-hand techniques and card sharping, a book so iconic and well-studied within magic circles it is known as “the Bible.” Appropriately enough, S. W. Erdnase was a pseudonym. The real identity of the writer has remained a century-old mystery.

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Inept cyber-crims stole a bunch of IP addresses

Posted by kenmay on June - 6 - 2017

In a post to the venerable NANOG list (mirrored since to Dave Farber’s Interesting People list), anti-spam researcher Ronald F. Guilmette posts the results of his investigation into the IP addresses claimed by a mysterious company called host-offshore.com — IP addresses assigned to “various parties within the nation of Columbia (including the National University thereof)” but, strangely, routed through Bulgaria. (more…)

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In an interview with Time earlier this week, Sony Head of Global Marketing and Sales Jim Ryan said that “when we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much.” An in-depth Ars Technica analysis of Xbox Live user data shows that sentiment is definitely true, at least when it comes to Microsoft’s competing consoles. Our analysis used a third-party API to randomly sample usage data from nearly one million active Xbox One Gamertags over a period of nearly five months starting last September ( read the introductory piece for much more about the data and methodology). In the end, only about 1.5 percent of the more than 1.65 billion minutes of Xbox One usage time we tracked was spent on the 300+ backward-compatible Xbox 360 games, in aggregate. That translates to an average of just 23.9 minutes per sampled active Xbox One user spent on Xbox 360 games out of 1,526 average minutes of Xbox One usage during the sampling period. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Upon close inspection of the Windows 10 build that Microsoft accidentally pushed to insiders last week, several users are reporting discovering the reference of a new Windows 10 SKU. From a report: In a leaked slide, Microsoft describes the edition as “Windows 10 Pro for Workstation” with four main capabilities: 1. Workstation mode: Microsoft plans to optimize the OS by identifying “typical compute and graphics intensive workloads” to provide peak performance and reliability when Workstation mode is enabled. 2. Resilient file system: Microsoft’s file system successor to NTFS, dubbed ReFS, is enabled in this new version, with support for fault-tolerance, optimized for large data volumes, and auto-correcting. 3. Faster file handling: As workstation machines are typically used for large data volumes across networks, Microsoft is including the SMBDirect protocol for file sharing and high throughput, low latency, and low CPU utilization when accessing network shares. 4. Expanded hardware support: Microsoft is also planning to allow Windows 10 Pro for Workstation on machines with up to 4 CPUs and a memory limit of 6TB. Windows 10 Pro currently only supports 2 CPUs. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, President Donald Trump endorsed a plan to hand over oversight of the nation’s airspace to a non-profit corporation that will likely be largely controlled by the major airlines. Republicans argue that privatizing air traffic control will help save money and fast track important technological upgrades. But Democrats and consumer groups criticize that plan as a corporate giveaway that will inevitably harm passengers. The air traffic reform proposal, which fell short in Congress last year, would transfer oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a government-sanctioned, independent entity that would be made up of appointees from industry stakeholders. The effort picked up steam when the union representing air traffic controllers endorsed the plan, citing years of understaffing by the FAA. Some passengers may balk at the idea of handing over day-to-day management of the nation’s highly complex air traffic control system to the same companies that rack up tens of thousands of customer complaints a year, and occasionally physically assault or drag passengers off their planes. But the Trump administration argues this is the only way to modernize a system that still runs on technology that’s been around since World War II. The FAA is already years into a technology upgrade known as NextGen, which involves moving from the current system based on radar and voice communications to one based on satellite navigation and digital communications. The FAA wants to use GPS technology to shorten routes, save time and fuel, and reduce traffic delays by increasing capacity. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An Incredibly Clever Lock Design from 1680

Posted by kenmay on June - 6 - 2017

Holland’s Rijksmuseum has in their collection this ” detector lock , ” created by a British locksmith named John Wilkes circa 1680. Made of nothing more complicated than brass and steel, it essentially has two-factor identification as you need to both possess the key and know how to operate the damn thing. And it’s got a clever little counter: Detector lock by John Wilkes from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

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At WWDC 2017 today, Apple unveiled a brand new iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch display and 40% narrower bezels. The new iPad features a 50% brighter True Tone display and “ProMotion” technology which increase refresh rates up to 120hz. 9to5Mac reports: The new iPad Pro includes dynamic refresh rate adjustments, screens move from 24hz to 48hz to 120hz. This maximizes battery life and performance, when you need it. The A10x Fusion chip improves CPU and GPU by at least 40%. Cameras have also been upgraded with the same sensor as the iPhone 7 on the back and the front. Apple demoed a photo app called “Affinity Photo, ” to demonstrate the 120hz refresh rates. Apple says new iPad Pro performance compares favorably with a desktop computer. This includes incredibly fast selections and fluid Apple Pencil interactions. Both iPad models start with 64GB of memory and maxes out to 500GB at the high-end. There are also several new software features for iPad, coming this fall with iOS 11: A new customizable Dock that provides quick access to frequently used apps and documents from any screen; Improved multitasking, including a redesigned app switcher that brings Spaces to iOS, making it easier to move between apps or pairs of active apps, used in Split View and now Slide Over; Multi-Touch Drag and Drop, which is available across the system to move text, photos and files from one app to another, anywhere on the screen; A new document scanner in Notes, which lets users easily scan single or multi-page documents, removes shadows and uses powerful image filters to enhance readability; and Deeper integration with Apple Pencil, with support for inline drawing to write along text in Notes and Mail, Instant Markup to easily sign documents, annotate PDFs or draw on screenshots, and a new Instant Notes feature, which opens Notes from the Lock Screen by simply tapping Apple Pencil on the display. New searchable handwriting makes it easy to search for handwritten text or characters. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Zero’s DS 6.5 motorcycle was built for urban commuters

Posted by kenmay on June - 6 - 2017

For other riders, an electric motorcycle is a two-wheeled invitation to talk. It’s the lack of sound that initially tips them off. They always ask about range and speed. But mostly range. How far can they ride before they would have to plug in? With the new Zero Motorcycles DS 6.5 , it’s a conversation that requires explaining a few caveats about its 67 mile in-city range (it has a smaller battery so it’s cheaper and lighter). Surprisingly, they get it. The Zero DS 6.5 is the motorcycle company’s attempt to find a middle ground between the 147-mile range 13kWh DS and its thrilling (but requires an experienced rider) FX and FXS line . Electric bikes are already more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts, so if they can shave $3, 000 off the price of a DS by cutting its battery in half, maybe more people would be interested. It’s a financial compromise that on paper looks like a rather boring bike thanks in part to the reduction in horsepower. On the road though, the DS 6.5 is just as enjoyable as its more powerful sibling. In some cases, more so. The biggest difference between the 13 and 6.5 is the battery size, but the byproduct of that is that the 6.5 loses nearly 100 pounds. That weight saving is immediately apparent when you get on the bike — it feels much nimbler. That translates to quicker maneuvers while navigating the obstacle-filled streets of San Francisco. The weight reduction also means that the drop in horsepower (the DS 13 has 60 while the DS 6.5 tops out at 37) isn’t that noticeable. The 70 pounds of torque also help. The power is there whenever you need it — just twist the throttle and go until you need to stop. The 6.5 is equipped with anti-lock brakes that kept the bike from locking up the wheels even on the slightly moist roads in the Bay Area. Unfortunately (but really fortunately for me) I wasn’t able to ride the bike in the rain to see how well it stopped in wet conditions. Soaked street test aside, the brakes felt solid and I felt confident each time I had to slam on them to stop from being killed by the growing number of inattentive drivers out there. Seriously, put your phone down and use a blinker before changing lanes. The smaller battery and range only reared its head on a trip to Oakland that ended with me riding against a powerful headwind that sucked 25 percent of my power heading back over the Bay Bridge, leaving me with 15 percent power to get across San Francisco. I made it with power to spare, but it’s a reminder that highway speeds and weather can take their toll on the battery. For the most part, I averaged about 55 miles between charges while riding in the city and mostly in sport mode instead of eco mode. I’m sure if I had decided to ride slower I could have gotten a bit closer to the rated 67 miles in the city. But if your commute involves a lot of high-speed cruising the rating plummets quickly to 47 miles riding in both the city and highway and 35 miles freeway only if you’re riding at 70 miles per hour. Like previous Zero bikes, the DS 6.5 can be charged directly from a standard 120-volt outlet without any special adaptors. It’ll go from zero to fully charged in just over four-and-half-hours. It likely means an overnight charge but there is the option to add a level-two charging port like those found on electric cars to the bike. The optional $2, 000 charge tank accessory supports all those EV charging stations that have been popping up and it drops the total charge time down to 1.4 hours. It’s an expensive option, but if your access to wall sockets is limited, it might be worth the extra cash. That’s where you have to make the decision about the DS 6.5. Yes, it’s $3, 000 cheaper than the 13kWH version, but it’s still going to cost you $11, 000 (not counting the Charge Tank). Meanwhile, the go-to DS — the Kawasaki KLR 650 — is just shy of $7, 000. But while these bikes look similar, the KLR is an adventure bike. It’s ready for long rides both on and off road. The Zero DS 6.5 is a city bike that is ready for some offroading, but in reality, the crumbling streets of San Francisco (and other cities) make the bike’s off-road capabilities almost necessary for two-wheeled commuters. The lack of a clutch, while initially odd, is also perfect for stop and go traffic and lane splitting (only in California). And there’s another feature that will make commuters happy: That smaller battery opened up room for a storage area large enough for a trip to the corner market. That storage joins the lockable compartment that resides where the gas tank would usually be. Unless you get the $2, 000 charge tank, that is. So, the Zero Motorcycle DS 6.5 isn’t going to take you on long mountain rides or trips through the desert regardless of its off-road capabilities. But what it will do is get you around an urban area where its suspension and high sitting position make it ideal for navigating our crumbling infrastructure. Like other electric vehicles, the DS 6 is pricey, but various incentives (that vary from state to state and from county to county) will bring the price down. And if you factor in the gas and maintenance savings (no more oil changes!) it starts to make more financial sense. But more importantly, it’s a joy to ride. It’s not as exciting as the FXS, but not every ride needs to be a seat-of-your-pants extravaganza. Sometimes, you just need to get to work.

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The iPad Pro’s new 10.5-inch screen size may be a bit bigger than the 9.7-inch model it’s replacing, but it’s still sleek and svelte. However, a larger display and a new chassis aren’t the only differences. Inside you’ll find upgraded specs belying the device’s thin frame. Take a peek at our table to to see how much of a difference that extra 0.8 inches of screen makes between smaller iPad Pro models. iPad Pro (10.5-inch) iPad Pro (9.7-inch) Price $649, $749, $949 $599, $749, $899 Dimensions 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm (9.8 x 6.8 x 0.24 inches) 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm (9.45 x 6.67 x 0.24 inches) Weight 469g (1.03 pounds) 437g (0.96 pounds) OS iOS 10 iOS 9 Display 10.5-inch IPS LCD Retina display 9.7-inch IPS LCD Retina display Resolution 2, 224 x 1, 668 (264 ppi) 2, 048 x 1, 536 (264 ppi) Aspect ratio 4:3 4:3 Processor Apple A10X Apple A9X Memory Not available 2GB Storage 64 / 256 / 512GB 32 / 128 / 256GB Ports Lightning Lightning Front camera 7MP, f2.2, 1080p video 5MP, f2.2, 720p video Rear camera 12MP, f/1.8, 4K video at 30fps 12MP, f/2.2, 4K video at 30fps Cellular radio Optional GSM/EDGE CDMA UMTS/HSPA/ HSPA+/DC-HSDPA LTE Optional GSM/EDGE CDMA UMTS/HSPA/ HSPA+/DC-HSDPA LTE WiFi Dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth v4.2 v4.2 Battery 30.4 Wh, 10 hours 27.5 Wh, 10 hours * Specs in italics are unconfirmed. Get all the latest news from WWDC 2017 here!

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