Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for September 29th, 2017

(credit: Image Comics) Finally, we have some good news for the end of the week. According to Variety , Amazon is going on a bit of a sci-fi binge. The streaming network, which has already given us delights like The Man in the High Castle and an excellent new version of The Tick, has commissioned three new series: the Larry Niven classic Ringworld, Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk Snow Crash, and (the one that brightened my day most)  Lazarus  by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. Assuming all three remain true to their source material, each will be a very different vision of the future. Ringworld takes place nearly a thousand years from now in a post-scarcity culture. Written in 1970 and the first of a long-running series of books, the titular Ringworld is a vast habitat in space. In Ringworld, our hero is a bored 200-year old hired by some aliens to investigate this artificial world—a 600 million-mile (950 million km) ribbon orbiting a Sun-like star. It’s been awhile since I’ve read the book but it’s easy to see how previous attempts to adapt it for the screen have ended in failure. But with an Amazonian budget and and ever-more capable CGI, now might be the perfect time to try. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

Enlarge (credit: Marseille ) Well, this is a turn-up for the books. Normally an HDMI cable that claims to improve your picture quality would be just so much audiophool [editorial standards prevent me from using an appropriate noun here]. HDMI cables carry digital signals, and bits are bits, right? Add to that a “directional” claim—you’ve gotta plug the right end into the TV—and normally our eyes would be rolling. But the Marseille mCable Gaming Edition appears to be a working, legitimate product. It’s an HDMI cable that makes the kind of claims that we’ve come to expect from audiophile con men, but there’s a key difference: Marseille isn’t making its performance claims on the basis of specious nonsense about construction, materials, and chakras. Rather, this cord works because the Gaming Edition HDMI cable has a microchip in it. That microchip performs anti-aliasing of the signal passed through the cable. The cable is intended for console gamers. While the Xbox One X is set to shake things up a bit when it’s released later this year, the consoles currently on the market are, especially from a GPU perspective, relatively underpowered. While PC gamers can readily achieve 1080p or better with a wide range of anti-aliasing options—which offer all kinds of trade-offs between performance, image quality, and the visibility of jagged edges—console gamers have far fewer options. Their graphics processors just aren’t strong enough to offer the same kind of flexibility and image quality. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

Andy Greenberg, writing for Wired:At today’s Ekoparty security conference, security firm Duo plans to present research on how it delved into the guts of tens of thousands of computers to measure the real-world state of Apple’s so-called extensible firmware interface, or EFI. This is the firmware that runs before your PC’s operating system boots and has the potential to corrupt practically everything else that happens on your machine. Duo found that even Macs with perfectly updated operating systems often have much older EFI code, due to either Apple’s neglecting to push out EFI updates to those machines or failing to warn users when their firmware update hits a technical glitch and silently fails. For certain models of Apple laptops and desktop computers, close to a third or half of machines have EFI versions that haven’t kept pace with their operating system system updates. And for many models, Apple hasn’t released new firmware updates at all, leaving a subset of Apple machines vulnerable to known years-old EFI attacks that could gain deep and persistent control of a victim’s machine. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: reader

 Starting October 1, passengers on most Delta will have free access to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage. To access the feature, a passenger will have to log into Delta’s in-flight wifi portal powered by Gogo. This is first time an airline has offered such a service throughout its fleet. Traditional SMS messages will not work. Only the aforementioned mobile messaging services… Read More

Categories: reader

 Like many cities, Moscow has an enormous network of CCTV cameras, but unlike many cities, thousands of those cameras are now hooked up to a powerful facial recognition system that can track criminals (and trash collectors) wherever they go. The privacy implications are serious, of course, but a large scale rollout like this will help make them part of the public discussion. The facial… Read More

Categories: reader

Enlarge (credit: Autobahn ) An alarming number of Macs remain vulnerable to known exploits that completely undermine their security and are almost impossible to detect or fix even after receiving all security updates available from Apple, a comprehensive study released Friday has concluded. The exposure results from known vulnerabilities that remain in the Extensible Firmware Interface, or EFI, which is the software located on a computer motherboard that runs first when a Mac is turned on. EFI identifies what hardware components are available, starts those components up, and hands them over to the operating system. Over the past few years, Apple has released updates that patch a host of critical EFI vulnerabilities exploited by attacks known as Thunderstrike and ThunderStrike 2 , as well as a recently disclosed CIA attack tool known as Sonic Screwdriver . An analysis by security firm Duo Security of more than 73,000 Macs shows that a surprising number remained vulnerable to such attacks even though they received OS updates that were supposed to patch the EFI firmware. On average, 4.2 percent of the Macs analyzed ran EFI versions that were different from what was prescribed by the hardware model and OS version. Forty-seven Mac models remained vulnerable to the original Thunderstrike, and 31 remained vulnerable to Thunderstrike 2. At least 16 models received no EFI updates at all. EFI updates for other models were inconsistently successful, with the 21.5-inch iMac released in late 2015 topping the list, with 43 percent of those sampled running the wrong version. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

FDA OKs a blood sugar monitor that doesn’t need fingerpricks

Posted by kenmay on September - 29 - 2017

A fingerprick isn’t just a fingerprick when you have to do it all the time to test your blood sugar levels. Thankfully, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first continuous glucose monitoring system for adults that doesn’t require you to draw blood several times a day. Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System works by inserting a tiny sensor wire below the surface of your skin. The wire needs 12 hours to start up, but once it’s ready, you can simply pass a mobile reader over it to read your glucose levels. It even works for 10 days before you have to replace it. FDA’s Donald St. Pierre explained that the agency has always been welcome to new technologies that can help people manage chronic conditions. “This system, ” he said, “allows people with diabetes to avoid the additional step of fingerstick calibration, which can sometimes be painful, but still provides necessary information for treating their diabetes — with a wave of the mobile reader.” Abbott already has a similar system available called the FreeStyle Libre Pro , but you need a doctor’s help to use it and to activate the sensor wire under your skin. You don’t need a doctor’s help to determine if your sugar levels are too low, too high or just right with the Flash, but you have to be 18 and older to be able to get it. Source: FDA , Abbott Freestyle Libre

Categories: reader