Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for October 10th, 2017

UpGuard has yet again uncovered a trove of corporate data left unprotected, this time from major consulting and management firm Accenture . The data — contained on four cloud-based storage servers — were discovered by UpGuard Director of Cyber Risk Research Chris Vickery in mid-September and weren’t protected by a password. Anyone with the servers’ web addresses could download the stored information, which included decryption keys, passwords and customer info. And Accenture’s client list includes a number of large companies. On its website , Accenture says its clients “span the full range of industries around the world and include 94 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500.” UpGuard says that the information stored on the unprotected servers could have been used to attack Accenture itself as well as a number of its clients and Vickery told ZDNet that the data amounted to the “keys to the kingdom.” In a blog post about the exposure, UpGuard said, “Taken together, the significance of these exposed buckets is hard to overstate. In the hands of competent threat actors, these cloud servers, accessible to anyone stumbling across their URLs, could have exposed both Accenture and its thousands of top-flight corporate customers to malicious attacks that could have done an untold amount of financial damage.” This data exposure is just the latest to be sniffed out by cybersecurity firm UpGuard. Other recent discoveries by the company include Election Systems & Software’s exposure of 1.8 million Chicago residents’ personal information, Deep Root Analytics’ leak of nearly 200 million US citizens’ data, the release of 14 million Verizon customers’ info by Nice Systems and exposure of classified intelligence data by a US defense contractor. In light of these repeated mishandlings of sensitive data, it’s becoming increasing clear that major companies need to take a serious look at their cybersecurity practices. UpGuard quickly notified Accenture after discovering the exposed data and the company secured the servers soon thereafter. Accenture also said that UpGuard was the only non-authorized visitor to access the servers. Accenture told ZDNet , “We closed the exposure when the Amazon Web Services S3 issue was first reported. As we continue our forensic review we may learn more but, the email and password information in the database is more than two and a half years old and for Accenture users of a decommissioned system.” Source: UpGuard

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Enlarge / The clean look of the SNES Classic gets ruined a bit the second you plug stuff in. (credit: Kyle Orland) After guesses, estimations, and positive early tests, the Super NES Classic has emerged as a hackable little piece of gaming nostalgia—and quite an easy one to hack, at that. This weekend saw the September device receive a simple exploit in the form of hakchi2 , a Windows program designed by a Russian hacker who calls himself “ClusterM,” and, among other things, it allows fans to add far more games to the system than its default set of 21. If any of that sounds familiar, as opposed to gibberish, it’s because the same program and hacker emerged shortly after the launch of 2016’s Linux-powered NES Classic. ClusterM found a way to wrap that system’s FEL-mode exploit (read lots more about that here ) in a tidy Windows GUI, which allowed fans to use Windows Explorer menus to dump game ROMs, emulator cores, and even new art into their boxy ode to ’80s Nintendo bliss. ClusterM announced plans to repeat his trick well before the SNES Classic landed in stores, and his hacking hopes looked promising with the reveal, courtesy of Eurogamer , that the SNES Classic has a near-identical chipset and board compared to the NES Classic. Initial tests of the FEL-mode exploit, which requires booting into a telnet interface to talk to Nintendo’s Linux box, proved promising, and ClusterM returned eight days after the system’s launch with a new hakchi2 version—which now works with either “Nintendo classic” system. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This is how good PS3 games were meant to look

Posted by kenmay on October - 10 - 2017

Be sure to view full-screen and at full resolution on a high-res monitor to really see the difference. Fans of classic gaming emulation know that modern emulators can do a lot to sharpen up the standard-definition sprites and polygons made for consoles designed to be played on low-resolution tube TVs. This weekend, though, an update to the RPCS3 emulator showed how much resolution scaling can improve the look of even early HD games. While the new update technically supports rendering at up to 10K resolutions, the video above shows that upscaling to 4K resolution and adding 16x anisotropic filtering can lead to a huge improvement for games originally made to run at 720p. Upscaling the 11-year-old hardware with three times the resolution doesn’t even put too much strain on modern GPUs—the creators say in an explanatory blog post that “anyone with a dedicated graphics card that has Vulkan support can expect identical performance at 4K.” Unlike N64 emulators, which often require handmade high-resolution texture packs to make upscaled games look decent, RPCS3 can often get amazing improvements in sharpness and clarity just by using content that’s already in the PS3 software. That’s because many PS3 titles stored extremely high-resolution assets on the PS3’s Blu-Ray discs, then crushed those textures down for faster processing by the console. The result is that surfaces that looked muddy and jagged on the original hardware can take full advantage of the art as it was originally conceived when upscaled for the emulator. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Red’s new flagship camera is the $80,000 Monstro 8K VV

Posted by kenmay on October - 10 - 2017

RED’s cinema cameras are too expensive for most of us , but they do push the state-of-the-art, making future camera’s you can afford better. A case in point is RED’s latest sensor called the Monstro 8K VV (Vista Vision). The bombastic name aside, it packs impressive specs. The sensor is 40.96 x 21.6 mm, which is slightly wider and slightly shorter than 35mm full-frame, handles 35.4-megapixel stills and 8K, 60 fps video, features 17+ claimed stops of dynamic range, and shoots at higher ISOs with lower noise than the last model. You can take RED’s dynamic range (DR) claims with a pinch of salt, but even if it’s plus or minus a stop, that would make it one of the best, if not the best, sensors on the market. RED’s current Helium 8K S35 sensor is the current DXOMark champ with a score of 108 (Nikon’s D850 is the best DSLR with a 100 score). DXO measured a dynamic range of 15.2 for the Helium, below RED’s claimed 16.5+ stops, but the Monstro 8K VV should easily best the 108 score. The sensor launch is good news for RED, but things didn’t exactly go as planned with its large-format 8K sensor. It originally launched the full-frame Dragon VV sensor back in April 2015, but was unable to make very many due to manufacturing yield problems. As a result, many folks that ordered one never received it. The good news is that RED will now offer those folks the 8K Monstro VV instead, giving them a better sensor for the same money. New orders, meanwhile, will be fulfilled in early 2018, the company says. “Thanks for waiting, and sorry again that it took so long to tame the VV process, ” said RED CEO Jarred Land. The new sensor is the big news, but RED also made a smaller announcement that might be more beneficial for users. It released a “completely overhauled, ” less complex image-processing pipeline (IPP2), with improved color management. Despite the company’s technical prowess, it has struggled to draw many filmmakers who prefer the look and handling of ARRI’s cameras, which dominate film and TV production credits. It no doubt hopes the simpler IPP2 process will sway those folks to its system which is, on paper, technically superior to ARRI’s system, and cheaper to boot. Via: Red Shark News Source: RED

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‘Batman: The Animated Series’ is coming to Blu-ray in 2018

Posted by kenmay on October - 10 - 2017

Batman: The Animated Series is finally getting the remaster treatment it deserves. From this weekend’s New York Comic Con Warner Bros. announced that “later in the year” in 2018 it will release the influential animated show to high-def formats. As Polygon notes , the specifics are a bit fuzzy at this point. Will the 85-episode show come out all in one boxed set, or in volumes like the DVDs before? At this point that’s up in the air. However, any package will likely look and sound better than streaming the show on Amazon Prime . Plus, every episode will almost assuredly have the iconic opening credits sequence attached. This summer Warner released Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on Blu-ray, the PG-rated feature-length movie that takes place in the Animated Series universe. If you want a peek at how gussied up episodes of the old series might look on Blu-ray, that’s probably your best bet.

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GM has already said it has what it takes to get a fleet of autonomous vehicles on the road before anyone else, and that timeline might’ve sped up further. Cruise Automation , the company GM acquired a little over a year ago, has announced it’s made a purchase of its own: Strobe, which specializes in shrinking LIDAR arrays down to a single chip. The most immediate benefit here is cost. In a post on Medium , Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt writes that LIDAR-on-a-chip will drop the price “by 99 percent” versus other LIDAR systems. “Strobe, Cruise and GM engineers will work side by side along with our optics and fabrication experts at HRL (formerly Hughes Research Labs), the GM skunkworks-like division that invented the world’s first laser, ” Vogt wrote. The new LIDAR system can apparently deal with sun reflecting off rainy streets and help differentiate between someone clad in black jaywalking at night. Vogt wrote that when combined with RADAR and cameras, the LIDAR can handle pretty much every type of sensing needed for self-driving applications. If you were looking for proof that GM might beat the competition to market, well, this could be part of it. Via: TechCrunch Source: Medium

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An anonymous reader shares a report: The missing links between galaxies have finally been found. This is the first detection of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe — protons, neutrons and electrons — unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space. You have probably heard about the hunt for dark matter, a mysterious substance thought to permeate the universe, the effects of which we can see through its gravitational pull. But our models of the universe also say there should be about twice as much ordinary matter out there, compared with what we have observed so far. Two separate teams found the missing matter — made of particles called baryons rather than dark matter — linking galaxies together through filaments of hot, diffuse gas. “The missing baryon problem is solved, ” says Hideki Tanimura at the Institute of Space Astrophysics in Orsay, France, leader of one of the groups. The other team was led by Anna de Graaff at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Because the gas is so tenuous and not quite hot enough for X-ray telescopes to pick up, nobody had been able to see it before. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The next Star Wars film won’t hit theaters until December 15th, but there’s a new trailer that just aired during Monday Night Football. Star Wars: The Last Jedi brings Luke Skywalker back into the story — along with the final appearance of Carrie Fisher as Leia — and should answer some of the questions that have been eating at us ever since the credits rolled on The Force Awakens two years ago. If you’re trying to come into this flick clean but just can’t resist taking a peek at the trailer, don’t worry — director Rian Johnson feels your pain . Tickets are already on sale from a number of providers ( IMAX , Fandango , Cinemark , AMC , Alamo Drafthouse , Atom Tickets , MovieTickets.com ), but check below for the trailer in case you need a little more convincing. Oh, and if you just need more time in the universe, don’t forget that EA just announced an extension to the Star Wars Battlefront II open beta . I a legitimately torn. If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood….. https://t.co/Y29K5yz8i4 — Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) October 8, 2017 FWIW: I love that there are folks who want to come into a movie clean, I think that’s awesome. Me, I’m a weak man. I watch ALL THE TRAILERS — Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) October 9, 2017 Check out the brand new poster for Star Wars: #TheLastJedi and watch the trailer tonight. pic.twitter.com/A4UGpYqoeW — Star Wars (@starwars) October 10, 2017 Source: StarWars.com , Star Wars (YouTube)

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NVIDIA introduces a computer for level 5 autonomous cars

Posted by kenmay on October - 10 - 2017

At the center of many of the semi-autonomous cars currently on the road is NVIDIA hardware. Once automakers realized that GPUs could power their latest features, the chipmaker–best known for the graphics cards that make your games look outstanding–became the darling of the car world. But while automakers are still dropping level 2 and sometimes level 3 vehicles into the market, NVIDIA has announced its first AI computer, the NVIDIA Drive PX Pegasus that it says is capable of level 5 autonomy. That means no pedals, no steering wheel, no need for anyone to ever take control. The new computer delivers 320 trillion operations per second, 10 times more than its predecessor. Before you start squirreling away cash for your own self-driving car, though, NVIDIA’s senior director of automotive, Danny Shapiro, notes that it’s likely going to be robotaxis that drive us around. In fact, the company said that over 25 of its partners are already working on fully autonomous taxis. The goal with this smaller more powerful computer is to remove the huge computer arrays that sit in the prototype vehicles of OEMs, startups and any other company that’s trying to crack the autonomous car nut. NVIDIA’s announcement should make all those companies happy. The computing needed to power a self-driving car’s AI and data crunching not to mention the huge amounts of data coming from potentially dozens of cameras, LiDAR sensors , short and long-range radar is staggering and usually means there’s a small server room stored in the trunk. All that processing power sucks up a ton of power from the vehicle and as more cars are going electric, the last thing an automaker wants is a system that cuts in the range of their new car. The new NVIDIA Drive PX Pegasus AI computer is the size of a license plate and uses far less power than the current model. But it’s going to be a while before anyone gets their hands one. The new computer will be available in the second half of 2018 with next generation GPUs that NVIDIA hasn’t actually announced yet. But there’s already one institution that’s ready to go autonomous: the Deutsche Post DHL. The delivery service is looking to deploy a pilot fleet with the current Drive PX in 2018. The hope is to have the car be able to shadow its delivery persons as they drop off packages. A driver could get out of the truck or van with a few packages for a block and when they are finished, the vehicle will be waiting for them outside the last house. So the autonomous future isn’t just about delivery people, it’s also about delivering your online purchases. Source: Nvidia

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Equifax division TALX has a product called The Work Number , where prospective employers can verify job applicants’ work history and previous salaries (it’s also used by mortgage lenders and others): you can create an account on this system in anyone’s name, provided you have their date of birth and Social Security Number. The former is a matter of public record, the latter is often available thanks to the many breaches that have dumped millions of SSNs (the latest being Equifax’s catastrophic breach of 145,000,000 Americans’ data). (more…)

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