Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for the ‘reader’ Category

Android O is actually here! After diving into Google’s blog post , we fired up our developer tools and loaded Android O on a sacrificial device. There are a few new interesting features, lots of UI tweaks, and plenty of odd bugs and unfinished areas. Let’s dive in. Notifications: Snooze, channels, and a terrible new ambient mode My favorite new feature in Android O is the ability to do system-wide notification snoozing. If you don’t want to deal with a notification right now, just pull it to the side a bit, which will unveil a new “clock” icon. Tap it, and the notification will be automatically snoozed for 15 minutes. You can tap on the drop-down menu to increase the time to 30 minutes or an hour. This is really handy, but I’d like to be able to customize the times here. I’m sure some people would like a few hours, or maybe a “tomorrow” option. A “type in your time” option would be fine, too. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

Instagram Rolls Out Two-Factor Authentication for Everyone

Posted by kenmay on March - 23 - 2017

Instagram has finally pushed out the update they tested over a year ago  that adds two-factor authentication to its accounts. Here’s how to set it up. Read more…

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London police allegedly used hackers to target activists

Posted by kenmay on March - 23 - 2017

If it wasn’t already clear why it’s a problem when police surveillance goes wrong , it is now. An independent investigator is looking into claims that London’s Metropolitan Police used an illegal, roundabout way to access the emails of activists and journalists. An anonymous former worker alleges that a Met intelligence unit took advantage of India “counterparts” that used hackers to obtain email logins for innocent people ranging from Greenpeace protesters to Guardian reporters. The snooping had been going on for a “number of years, ” according to the insider, and there was reportedly widespread document shredding to cover up the monitoring. There’s evidence to support the claim. The tipster provided passwords for 10 email accounts, most of which have been proven authentic by the users themselves. The investigation is still early, but a police spokesman says that the claims are “deeply troubling” and that the force will provide its “fullest possible support.” If the allegations are as serious as they sound, though, they would represent a serious blow to the Met’s reputation. They would show that a key law enforcement division was regularly spying on people who weren’t even suspected of crimes, and was fully aware that it was doing something wrong. Via: Ars Technica Source: The Guardian , BBC

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Modern John Deere tractors are outfitted with dozens of sensors and computers, many of which cannot be serviced by owners because of a stupid licensing agreement John Deere forces upon its customers. Since farmers have neither the time nor money to waste on a technician’s visit, some are taking matters into their own… Read more…

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This Nest Security Flaw Is Remarkably Dumb

Posted by kenmay on March - 23 - 2017

The internet has made it supremely easy to install connected security cameras wherever you want. Unfortunately for Nest, that easy connectivity makes it simple for hackers to disable its cameras with just a few keystrokes. And that’s a very bad feature for a security camera. Read more…

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Email scheme stole $100 million from two US tech companies

Posted by kenmay on March - 23 - 2017

It’s tempting to assume that technology workers are intelligent enough to avoid email fraud , but that’s not always the case. Both the FBI and the state of New York have charged a Lithuanian man, Evaldas Rimasauskas, with perpetrating a phishing campaign that siphoned $100 million away from two US tech companies companies. They’re both choosing to remain unnamed, although one is a “multinational online social media company” — you can probably whip up a short list of candidates based on that description. The scheme wasn’t particularly complicated, either, and mostly relied on less-than-attentive employees. Between 2013 and 2015 (possibly earlier), Rimasauskas allegedly ran a fake company in Latvia that had the same name as an “Asian-based computer hardware manufacturer.” He used this bogus firm to fool victims into responding to phishing emails, getting them to wire millions of dollars to his bank accounts in Latvia and Cyprus. The fraudster quickly spread the money to accounts elsewhere in the world (including Lithuania, Hong Kong, Hungary and Slovakia), and even sent forged documents to the banks to convince them that the large sums of money were legitimate. If the charges (which include wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering) hold up, Rimasaukas faces stiff punishment. He’s looking at a minimum of 2 years in prison if he’s found guilty of identity theft, and each of the remaining charges could get him up to 20 years behind bars. However, it’s also safe to say that his targets are learning a hard lesson, too. Even the most tech-savvy companies can fall prey to online fraud, and they may need to step up their security measures (including staff education) to prevent similar incidents. Source: Department of Justice

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Turning sunlight into power is a surprisingly tricky thing. Experiments in academia have created solar arrays that can capture up to 40-percent of the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity, but consumer cells are notably less efficient. At best, silicon-based technology has a theoretical 29-percent efficiency ceiling — meaning any consumer panel in the low 20s is doing pretty well. Still, we’re inching ever closer to the technology’s limit. Researchers at Kaneko corp recently announced that they’ve developed a silicon solar cell with a record-breaking 26.3 percent efficiency rating. The score is only just barely higher than the previous record of 25.6, but that 0.7 percent gain is no easy feat. Researchers had to analyze what factors in current cell design was keeping the technology from reaching its theoretical limits. The group decided that reducing optical loss was the best path forward, and moved low-resistance electrodes to the rear of the cell to increase the amount of photons that could be captured. That’s a lot of technical jargon, sure — but the big win here isn’t just that the cell is more efficient, it’s that the more productive silicon cell was produced using the same kind of production process used for consumer sells. In other words, this isn’t just an experiment, it’s something we might actually see on the market soon. Via: Ars Technica Source: Nature Energy

Categories: reader

Say Goodbye to Virgin America

Posted by kenmay on March - 23 - 2017

Alaska Airlines announced on Wednesday that it will retire the Virgin America brand sometime in 2019. The Seattle-based airline bought Virgin America last year for $2.6 billion with the hope of expanding beyond the Pacific Northwest. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin America, apparently cried when he heard the news.… Read more…

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A short video explains the new functionality that lets the Dolphin emulator access the official Wii Shop Channel. Perfect accuracy is an extremely ambitious goal for any console emulator to shoot for, and it’s one that many emulators never come close to achieving. The team behind the open source Dolphin emulator took a major step closer to reaching that goal last week, though, releasing a new version that can actually purchase and download games legitimately from the Wii Shop Channel. Accessing Nintendo’s Shop Channel servers from the PC-based emulator isn’t exactly a plug-and-play affair. For one thing, you’ll need to use some homebrew software on an actual Wii to dump the contents of the system’s NAND memory . From there, you have to use some special software tools to extract the certificates and keys that Nintendo uses when validating connections to its online servers. With all that in place, though, Version 5.0-2874 of Dolphin can now connect to the Wii Shop Channel servers to download WiiWare and Virtual Console games. The emulator will even let you re-download games that were previously purchased on the original Wii itself and let you enter a valid credit card to purchase new games. (This is why people use emulators, right?) Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Android O teases big changes to save your battery

Posted by kenmay on March - 22 - 2017

Google I/O is only a few months away — but just like last year, we won’t have to wait until then to get our first taste of what’s coming to Android. Today, Google is releasing a developer preview of Android O, just over one year after first dropping details on Android 7.0 Nougat . Just like last year, the company is highlighting a handful of major features and letting developers know how they can try it out. But as is often the case with preview releases, Android O is not ready for regular users and not for the faint of heart. Judging from the info Google has released today, Android O doesn’t have a big, attention-grabbing consumer feature like split-screen multitasking. Probably the closest is a change to how the system handles notifications. Android will allow for new “notification channels, ” which from Google’s somewhat-vague description sound like a way for developers to roll up various types of notifications into a bundle a user can browse. An example screenshot Google provided showed a news app with 10 different “categories” of notifications, so you can see all the tech news notifications in one shot. It’s the kind thing we’ll need to see in action to judge, but it could potentially help to simplify a messy notification window. Another pretty major change is called “background limits.” While it’s not something a user will interface directly with, it could crucially save battery life, something Google has focused on in Android for a while now. Background limits will do just what it says: put limits on what apps can do in the background, across three main areas. Background services, location updates and “implicit broadcasts” will all be subject to automatic limiting by Android to help developers create apps that don’t trash your battery life. Google’s initial release doesn’t give much info on how this will affect the functionality of apps, but the company admits that it’s a “significant change” to Android. Therefore, it’s providing a lot of documentation on what’s changing and how to make apps work in the new system — we haven’t had a chance to review it yet, but we’ll update this post with anything significant we learn. Other features worth mentioning include a picture-in-picture mode for phones (the feature came to tablets last year), “adaptive” app icons that should look native to multiple phone launchers, better keyboard navigation for devices like Chromebooks and support for autofill apps. Google compares these apps to password managers; it sounds like it’ll be an improved way to manage all the info you get tired of having to enter over and over again. Developers will be able to try Android O out in the official Android emulator, but if you want to try it on actual hardware you’ll have to download and flash your device. Google says that brave developers can do this with the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5x, Nexus 6P and Nexus Player. If you’re interested in building apps to work with Android O and Android Wear 2.0, that’s available in the emulator as well. Android O isn’t being pushed out to the beta channel (where just about anyone can try it) just yet, so only try this if you’re really game for potentially wreaking havoc on your chosen device. For everyone else, Google says it’ll have a lot more details on Android at I/O in May — we’ll probably see the full beta release right around the, as well.

Categories: reader