Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for September 13th, 2017

Cyber-arms dealer offers $1m for zero-day Tor hacks

Posted by kenmay on September - 13 - 2017

Zerodium is a cyber-arms dealer that produces hacking tools for governments by buying up newly discovered defects in widely used systems, weaponizing them and then selling them to be used against criminals, activists, journalists and other targets of state surveillance. (more…)

Categories: reader

Apple’s new iPhone 8 and iPhone X support fast-charging

Posted by kenmay on September - 13 - 2017

 Want to get 50 percent of your battery life back with just 30 minutes of charging? You can do that with the iPhone 8 (and 8 Plus) and iPhone X (via Engadget). These are the first phones put out by Apple that will support a quicker charge rate if you have a higher capacity charger – though you’ll have to pick one of those up separately to take advantage. Like the iPad Pro before it, … Read More

Categories: reader

Enlarge / From the Department of Energy: “This photo shows the construction phase of a 16.5 MW DC solar farm built in Oxford, MA. This 130-acre property was previously known as the largest piggery in Massachusetts.” (credit: Lucas Faria/ US Department of Energy ) On Tuesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that utility-grade solar panels have hit cost targets set for 2020 , three years ahead of schedule. Those targets reflect around $1 per watt and 6¢ per kilowatt-hour in Kansas City, the department’s mid-range yardstick for solar panel cost per unit of energy produced (New York is considered the high-cost end, and Phoenix, Arizona, which has much more sunlight than most other major cities in the country, reflects the low-cost end). Those prices don’t include an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which makes solar panels even cheaper. The Energy Department said that the cost per watt was assessed in terms of total installed system costs for developers. That means the number is based on “the sales price paid to the installer; therefore, it includes profit in the cost of the hardware,” according to a department presentation  (PDF). The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE-funded lab that assesses solar panel cost, wrote that, compared to the first quarter in 2016 , the first quarter in 2017 saw a 29-percent decline in installed cost for utility-scale solar, which was attributed to lower photovoltaic module and inverter prices, better panel efficiency, and reduced labor costs. Despite the plummeting costs for utility-scale solar, costs for commercial and residential solar panels have not fallen quite as quickly—just 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

The “monster fatberg.” (credit: Thames Water ) A 250-meter-long mass weighing 130 metric tons has blocked a Victorian-era sewer tunnel in the east side of London, the BBC reports . To put the size and heft of the clog in perspective: it’s longer than two American football fields and as heavy as 11 double-decker buses. The mass is a concrete-hard amalgamation of flushed items, including condoms, diapers, and—most notably—wet wipes that have all been cemented together with oils and fats that were also washed down drains. For that reason, these types of clogs are sometimes called “fatbergs.” Authorities expect it will take three weeks to remove. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

HP unveils its insanely upgradeable Z-class workstations

Posted by kenmay on September - 13 - 2017

No matter how great your latest PC build is, HP’s new Z Workstation lineup can probably top it. The company’s latest Z8, Z6 and Z4 desktop workstations are its most powerful and ridiculously upgradeable ever, it says. The top-end Z8 features 24 RAM slots and up to 3TB of RAM, dual Xeon CPUs (with up to 56 cores), dual M.2 SSDs and dual NVIDIA Quadro Pro graphics cards. It’s aimed squarely at VFX artists, letting them run 3D simulations, edit 8K video and do Nuke compositing, probably all at the same time. Just to rattle off a few more specs (because there aren’t many machines like this), it offers 10 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C ports, dual Gig-E ports, seven full-length, full height PCIe slots (nine total) and optional Thunderbolt 3. All of that is housed in a cleanly laid out, tool-free chassis with a 1, 700 watt power supply and invective ducting. Just buying the Z8 box without much inside will cost you $2, 439, but if you want, say, a pair of the latest Xeon Platinum 8180 chips with 28 cores each and two of NVIDIA’s 24GB P6000 Quadro graphics adapters, those items alone would run you a cool $35, 000. Overall, the new machine boosts the memory, CPU core count, graphics and PCIe bandwidth capacity significantly across the board compared to its previous Z840 flagship model. The HP Z6 Workstation ($1, 919) dials that craziness down a notch, with 384GB of max system memory and fewer slots and ports, but still has the dual Xeon CPU option. The Z4 Workstation ($1, 239), meanwhile, lets you install 256GB of RAM and a single Xeon CPU, limited to Intel’s new W-series . The top end of that right now is the Xeon W2155 with 10 cores and 20 threads, and HP hasn’t said whether it’ll support the flagship 18-core Xeon W that’s coming later in the year. Remember, these prices are for the bare boxes only, not the graphics cards, memory, CPUs and other stuff you’ll need. On the Z4 model, however, the Xeon W 10-core chip is “just” $1, 000, so it should be no problem to build a box for around $3, 000 to $4, 000. HP also unveiled a few new displays, including the 38-inch Z38c curved display that is a bit of an odd duck for HP’s video-oriented Z lineup. Much like LG’s 38UC99 38-inch screen , it has sort-of 4K resolution (3, 840 x 1, 600) 21:9 that can’t actually handle full-resolution UHD video, so seems more suited for gaming. It also lacks other features like 10-bit capability, which is becoming increasingly important for 4K HDR video editing and color correctoin. HP’s Z8 and Z6 Workstations are coming in October, while the Z4 arrives sometime in November. This end-of-year date should help film and VFX houses fit them into their fiscal purchase budgets, because other than the Z4, these aren’t really meant for you or me.

Categories: reader

Now that there’s a 4K, HDR-ready Apple TV , the company is pushing content that takes advantage of those capabilities. Eddie Cue just announced on stage that not only will 4K movies cost the same amount as 1080p flicks on iTunes, the company is also upgrading existing HD purchases to 4K for free. Developing… Follow all the latest news from Apple’s iPhone event here!

Categories: reader

Apple is likely to announce more phones than any event in its history. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are two major parts of today’s showcase, and after all those tantalizing leaks, we finally get to hear all about them. After all the leaks, and anticipation, you thankfully won’t have wait much longer to handle one: both iPhone 8 models will go on preorder September 15th, with a launch date of September 22nd. For the bigger handset, you’ll get to pick storage configs from 64GB up to 256GB, while iPhone 8 shoppers will get 64GB and 256 GB options. So how about the cameras? The iPhone 8 has a 12-megapixel camera — it’s a new sensor with a new color filter, while the iPhone 8 Plus, with its dual camera, gets a duo of 12 megapixel sensors. Notably, the wide-angle lens has a f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto one now has f/2.8. What would a new Portrait Lighting, still in beta at the moment, will separate your portrait from the foreground, analyse the lighting and add a different effect as wanted. The effect will be generated on the fly — it’s not a filter per se, but generated by the iPhone itself.(Don’t worry, you’ll also be able to tweak these later, after taking a shot.) Video gets some love too: faster frame-rates for both iPhones, as well as image and motion analysis. The pho Developing… Follow all the latest news from Apple’s iPhone event here!

Categories: reader

The iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone ten”) is real, and it’s finally here. CEO Tim Cook just unveiled the biggest redesign of the iPhone we’ve seen yet at today’s event in the Steve Jobs theater at Apple’s brand-new campus. As expected, the phone is dominated by a massive screen that takes up the entire front of the display. Just like Samsung’s Galaxy S8, the bezels are barely there, though the iPhone X has a slightly odd “cut-out” at the top of the phone to allow for the front-facing camera and sensors. The lack of bezels means the phone isn’t that much bigger than the iPhone 7. The “super retina” display is 5.8 inches with a 2436 x 1125 resolution — that works out to 458 pixels per inch, by far the highest ever seen on an iPhone. Phil Schiller also notes that it’s an OLED screen, the first that’s “good enough” for an iPhone. The screen supports HDR, and naturally includes 3D Touch technology and the “true tone” display on the iPhone 8 and iPad Pro. To accommodate this giant display, Apple has ditched the home button and touch ID. Given that every iPhone has had a home button, this change might even be a bigger deal than the bigger screen. The phone is wrapped with stainless steel and has glass on the front and back; surprisingly, it only comes in two finishes (silver and black). To accommodate this giant display, Apple has ditched the home button and Touch ID. You can raise the phone to wake, but you can also tap the screen to wake it up. Given that every iPhone has had a home button, this change might even be a bigger deal than the bigger screen. To get home, Apple has added gestures like the ones we’ve seen on the iPad for years — a swipe up from the bottom gets you back to the home screen, while swiping up and pausing will bring you to the multitasking menu. To access Siri, you can use “hey Siri” or you can hold the side button, which Apple has enlarged. To replace Touch ID, the iPhone X is locked until you look at it and it recognizes you. Apple is calling this “Face ID.” It uses the front-facing camera as well as other sensors, including an infrared sensor, flood illuminator and dot projector to unlock the phone. (Apple’s calling it a True Depth sensor.) It’ll update your face scan frequently to account for changes like haircuts, hats and beards. Schiller says it’s a one in a million chance that someone else’s face would unlock your phone, compared to one in 50, 000 for Touch ID. Face ID will also let you authenticate Apple Pay purchases — by clicking the side button twice and looking at the screen, your phone will make the desired payment. And Apple’s also using the True Depth sensors to let you create and share animated emojis. Apple is starting with a dozen different emoji (most of them animals) that you can animate using your face. As for the camera, it’s a dual camera, much like that on the iPhone 8 — it has dual 12-megapixel sensors with a f/1.8 aperture on the wide end and f/2.4 on the telephoto lens. The big thing to note here is that both lenses have optical image stabilization, while the iPhone 8 Plus only has OIS on the wide-angle lens. It also features factory calibration on the cameras for augmented reality. The processor is the same as the A11 Bionic chip found in the new iPhone 8, and it sounds like a big step up over last year’s processor. It’s a six-core CPU, with two high-performance cores. Those high-performance cores are 25 percent faster than the A10, while the four high-efficiency cores are 70 percent faster than the A10. Apple also designed the GPU for the first time and says that its optimized for the company’s Metal 2 graphics framework. Despite all the new features and power of the A11 chip, Schiller says that the phone should last two more hours than the iPhone 7. Like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the iPhone X will also include wireless charging for the first time. To facilitate wireless charging, the entire iPhone lineup now has glass backs, just like the iPhone 4 and 4S had many years ago. Somewhat surprisingly, Apple is using Qi, one of the biggest open wireless charging standards. That means that plenty of wireless charging pads out there should work with the iPhone X right out of the box. Naturally Apple has made its own charging mat that can accommodate the iPhone X or iPhone 8, the series 3 Apple Watch and Airpods, provided you buy a new wireless charging case for them. It’s called AirPower, but it doesn’t come out until next year unfortunately. There are a few changes to navigating iOS to accommodate for the lack of a home button. Since swiping up from the bottom gets you home or to multitasking, you now access control center by swiping down from the top of the screen, You need to hit the targets on the left or right where your status and battery indicator live to do that, though. Apple hasn’t shown the notification center yet, but we’re guessing you can get it by swiping down from the middle of the screen. One of the biggest questions about the iPhone X has been its cost. It’ll start at $999 for 64GB, and the 256GB model will likely run an extra $100. Pre-orders start on October 27th, and the phone will begin shipping on November 3rd. Start saving your couch change, folks. Follow all the latest news from Apple’s iPhone event here!

Categories: reader

Some phones and laptops are vulnerable to ‘BlueBorne’ exploit

Posted by kenmay on September - 13 - 2017

Armis security has identified a new vulnerability in computers and mobile devices that leaves them susceptible to attack via Bluetooth. The exploit, dubbed “BlueBorne, ” doesn’t require user permission or to even pair with devices — it can simply connect over the air and access networks or install malware. Armis previously alerted most affected parties back in April, but as of today, it’s mostly Android devices that remain vulnerable to attack. There are technically several distinct attack vectors spread across current mobile operating systems. As Armis noted in its BlueBorne info page, Apple’s iOS beyond version 9.3.5 are vulnerable, but that vector was ironed out in iOS 10. Microsoft released an update today to all Windows versions that closes the vulnerability, with details listed here . Google’s Android, however, is spread across so much hardware that the onus to update falls on third-party manufacturers, who might not patch out the vulnerability in time. For its part, Google released protective patches for Nougat (7.0) and Marshmallow (6.0) as part of its September security update . “We have released security updates for these issues, and will continue working with other affected platforms across the industry to develop protections that help keep users safe, ” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. The other wildcard here: Linux-based devices. Armis informed Linux device operators of the vulnerability very late (last month, as opposed to back in April when it divulged to the other mobile OS providers). Accordingly, Armis wasn’t aware of patches for Linux operating systems, meaning anything running BlueZ are vulnerable to one of the vectors, while those with Linux version 3.3-rc1 can be attacked by another. This includes Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatch, its smart TVs and family hub. While using Bluetooth is a canny way to automatically infiltrate user devices without permission, it means BlueBorne is bound by the signal frequency’s short range, and only affects devices with Bluetooth turned on. But since the exploit is so different to the typical attack vector, users wouldn’t even be alerted if their device gets compromised, leading to a hypothetical nightmare scenario (detailed in the video below) wherein a user spreads the “infection” to vulnerable phones and tablets simply by walking in their vicinity. Worried your device might be vulnerable? Check Armis’ page on the exploit along with the respective white paper (PDF) explaining BlueBorne in detail. Via: The Verge Source: Armis , US-CERT

Categories: reader