Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

If you use Zomato to look up restaurants, you may want to check your account: someone has infiltrated its system and got away with 17 million users’ IDs, usernames, names, email addresses and hashed passwords. The service says no payment information was stolen, since credit card details are stored separately. It also doesn’t have access to your Facebook or Google account, so you don’t have to worry about anything if you simply linked your account instead of making a standalone one for Zomato. But if you did make a standalone one for Zomato, it’s best to change your password ASAP. This is totally separate incident from the WannaCry attacks , and the hacker who infiltrated the company’s system didn’t ask for ransom. He tried to sell his loot on the dark web instead but ended up pulling it down when the company agreed to his terms. They include acknowledging the security vulnerabilities in its system, to work with the ethical hacker community to patch them up and to launch a bug bounty program. Zomato says it will amp up its website’s security measures, especially since it found out that 6.6 million of the stolen hashed passwords can “theoretically [be] decrypted using brute force algorithms.” It also promises to reveal how exactly the hacker got in, which the infiltrator himself revealed to the company, once it’s done fixing the vulnerabilities that made it possible. Via: VentureBeat Source: Zomato

Duolingo is one of the best free ways to get started learning a new language, and they’re finally answering the pleas of wannabe polyglots everywhere by adding Japanese to their curriculum. Sugoi! Read more…

If you’re intending to build an analytical engine with a six-sided prism to run Charles Babbage’s weird cardboard vaporware program , you will need some help with Babbage’s notes, as old Charles was inventing a whole technical vocab from scratch. (more…)

The first real trailer for Star Trek: Discovery . If you’ve been waiting patiently for  Star Trek: Discovery , we have some good news and some bad news (and, I guess, some in-between news). The good news is that the series will make its debut on CBS All Access this fall, and that its order has been expanded to 15 episodes from the originally promised 13 episodes . The neither-good-nor-bad news is that it will be accompanied by a  Talking Dead -style post-show discussion show called  Talking Trek , which you can watch if you like that sort of thing or ignore if you don’t. And the bad news is that, well, the trailer falls a little flat, especially knowing what we do about the behind-the-camera turmoil (Bryan Fuller, its original showrunner, dropped out of the process partway , and the show was originally supposed to launch this past January ). Though the new show canonically takes place in the same fictional universe as the original series,  The Next Generation , and most of the other pre-JJ Abrams  Trek shows and movies, the show’s look has a lot more in common with Abrams’  Trek than with any of the older entries. Everything, including the uniforms and the bridge, is shiny and slick. And while later episodes of  Deep Space Nine ,  Voyager , and  Enterprise made extensive use of computer-generated effects, decades of advancements in the field are going to mean much bigger and flashier effects than anything that has been possible in older series. As a lifelong fan my impulse is to be pretty forgiving of  Trek , but the trailer doesn’t do much for me. In some ways, it’s  Trek -by-numbers: warp signatures are detected, crewmembers are beamed up, (newly redesigned and honestly sort of off-putting) Klingons are engaged, computers are spoken to, objects are viewed onscreen, frontiers are explored. But a few wooden performances and editing that leaps wildly from scene to obviously unrelated scene does the trailer no favors. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Popular Torrent Site ExtraTorrent Permanently Shuts Down

Posted by kenmay on May - 18 - 2017

ExtraTorrent, the world’s second largest torrent index, on Wednesday said it is permanently shutting its doors. The site, which launched in 2006, had steadily climbed the ranks in the piracy world to become the second most popular torrent site, observing millions of daily views. TorrentFreak adds: “ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to beâ¦.” TorrentFreak reached out to ExtraTorrent operator SaM who confirmed that this is indeed the end of the road for the site. “It’s time we say goodbye, ” he said, without providing more details. ExtraTorrent is the latest in a series of BitTorrent giants to fall in recent months. Previously, sites including KickassTorrents,, TorrentHound and went offline. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Breath of the Wild hack is like Garry’s Mod for Zelda

Posted by kenmay on May - 18 - 2017

This 18-minute video shows off what can be done with the item-spawning power of the Accio Code. Games like Fallout 4 notwithstanding , console gamers by and large miss out on the ocean of user-made modifications that let PC gamers tweak and enhance their games well past release. A team of hackers is working to fix that situation for the Wii U version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild , though, using some intricate homebrew to create an ersatz debug mode that lets players spawn objects arbitrarily in the game world. Much like the popular Garry’s Mod initially let players manipulate the sandbox that is Valve’s Half-Life 2 , the Breath of the Wild “Accio Code” lets you “spawn anything, anywhere,” as the title for this extensive demonstration video puts it. With the Accio Code in place, you can make anything from bananas to boulders rain down from the sky, revive multiple copies of long-dead non-player characters, or spawn a room full of the game’s toughest bosses to attack each other. Using the Accio Code, it’s pretty easy to obtain 999,999 rupees (the in-game limit, apparently), give yourself the game-concluding Bow of Light at any time, or create stamina-increasing vials that can raise your maximum stamina past the usual limit. You can also easily fill the screen with so much detritus that the overloaded game engine slows to a crawl and the game activates a scene-resetting Blood Moon to save itself. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Android O beta is available to download today

Posted by kenmay on May - 17 - 2017

It wouldn’t be Google’s annual developer conference without the birth of the latest version of Android, would it? 2017 sees the company announcing Android O, an operating system that’s not really about flashy features. Instead, the software is all about making the user’s experience that much easier and better, thanks to weirdly-named concepts like “Fluid Experiences” and “Vitals.” We’ve already seen big chunks of Android O, which has been available in developer preview form since March. Much of Google’s effort has been behind the scenes, reducing battery drain, improving notifications and joining up its platforms to make the experience that much more seamless. Some of these features are covered by Fluid Experiences, which includes a picture-in-picture mode, the aforementioned new notifications and Google’s smart text selection / autofill. In addition, Android O is packing a “lite” version of Tensorflow , software that enables computers to learn quicker than ever before. In the Vitals column, there’s faster boot and app load times, as well as Play Console Dashboards and Android Studio Profilers. Android O is also getting Google Play Protect , a raft of new security features to protect your device from security threats with a built-in device finder. One of the biggest cheers at I/O went up when the company announced that Android O would support the Kotlin programming language. In the run up to I/O, we also learned about other features that Android O will be boasting, including a technology called ” Copyless Pasting .” In addition, Google recently lifted the lid on Project Treble , which will apparently ease the pain of getting updates pushed out to various handsets. The Android O beta is available to download from today and will be available for everyone later this year. This is a developing news story, please refresh the page for more information. For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here

Android Go is streamlined for cheap phones

Posted by kenmay on May - 17 - 2017

It’s no secret that Google has been working on improving its apps and operating system for those using less-powerful devices or unreliable connections. It’s optimized its apps to use less data and memory, but now it’s expanding its focus OS-wide. At its developer conference today , Google previewed a version of something the company has been calling Android Go, and it’s supposed to work well even on devices with less than 1GB of onboard memory. Google says Go will ship “as an experience” in 2018, which means manufacturers will potentially start making handsets with the lighter OS after that. According to Google, “Android Go is designed with features relevant for people who have limited data connectivity and speak multiple languages.” It’s basically optimized to run smoothly on entry-level devices that are running at least Android O . This works in part by designing apps like Chrome, Gboard and YouTube Go so that they use “less memory, storage space and mobile data.” Gboard, in particular, will make it easier to type in several different languages via transliteration. You can type the phonetic spelling of words in other languages, and the software will show you characters in the native language. This targets regional markets where low-cost phones thrive, such as India and South America. Android Go will also include a version of the Play Store that will show the entire app catalog, but it will highlight apps that have developers have finetuned for Go. Considering most budget smartphones today boast at least 2GB of RAM, the new software will likely bring Android to even cheaper devices than before. According to Google, there are already two billion monthly active devices running Android, and making it easier to install on lower-end handsets will help the company reach “the next billion users.” For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here

Last year at Moogfest , the namesake synth maker set up a temporary instrument factory to crank our its Model D reissue . For the 2017 installment of the analog soiree, Moog is building another synthesizer on-site in Durham, North Carolina, but this time it’s a retooled version of the more compact Sub 37 . Officially dubbed the Subsequent 37 CV, this new model carries a similar overall construction as its predecessor. However, the front panel is now silver and the side panels are solid aluminum with inset North American hardwood. I won’t be shy about it: This thing is a beaut. “We were inspired to create the Subsequent 37 CV by, or due to, all the feedback we received from players who were in love with the deep modulation capabilities of the sub 37 and wanted to bring that expressivity out to the other gear in their studio, ” explains Moog engineer Amos Gaynes. The “CV” in the model name refers to the four assignable control voltage outputs on the side that sit next to two assignable gate outputs. Those connections allow you to connect the Subsequent 37 CV to much more robust modular systems. Moog also revamped the keybed for increased playability and upgraded headphone amp for live monitoring with high-quality sound. The company also modified the analog signal path on this new piece of gear. “[Control Voltage] allows you to take an changing [electrical] signal from one place to and use it to control the properties of a different sound-making circuit, ” Gaines notes. “It’s important because it allows you to interconnect one thing and another. It allows you to freely connect sources of expression with the musical properties of your studio equipment.” He also explains a key advantage to analog: its responsiveness.”One really good thing about control voltage is that it’s direct and immediate, ” he says. “It’s much higher resolution than digital equivalents. It’s alive–it’s infinitely responsive.” In terms of changes to the sound profile, Moog retuned the Multidrive circuit for even more growl and a grittier sound than the original Sub 37. There’s also now more headroom in the mixer which improves the sound in Duo mode. In fact, Moog says there’s twice as much headroom on the Subsequent 37 CV than the Sub 37 Tribute Edition. And yes, that classic Mood Ladder Filter is still part of the tool box as are some familiar controls from that previous model — like 256 presets and 16 banks of 16 patches. “We took the opportunity when redesigning the instrument not only to add expressive CV output control, but to realize some of our long-held ambitions for the sound engine, ” Gaines says. The first 125 synthesizers will be built at Moogfest and feature presets from artists like 808 State. Those units will be sold exclusively through Guitar Center at the event between May 18-21. Moogfest in Durham. If you can’t make the trip on short notice to take in the event in person, Moog plans to sell 2, 000 of the instruments total, so you’ll have a shot at nabbing one after this weekend. If you’re able to find one, you’ll need to hand over $1, 799 in order to take it home.

The United States Senate has been taking cybersecurity more seriously than ever before, thanks to the DNC leaks and various government cyberattacks. Senate Sergeant at Arms Frank J. Larkin and his team have recently finished encrypting all Senators’ websites, and it turns out he has also approved Signal for official use by Senate staff members. Sen. Ron Wyden, a privacy and encryption advocate, has revealed that Larkin’s office has given one of the most secure messaging apps out there its seal of approval in a letter thanking the Sergeant at Arms for his efforts. While the letter was sent on May 9th, ZDNet says staff members were first allowed to use the app for official business back in March. That the current administration would approve Signal for official use came as somewhat of a surprise. Back in February, House Republicans Darin LaHood and Lamar Smith demanded an investigation into the EPA’s use of secure messaging apps to secretly express their dissatisfaction with President Trump’s policies. They said encrypted conversations can “run afoul” of the government’s record-keeping rules. Nevertheless, Signal’s approval isn’t really groundbreaking. The National Archives and Records Administration told ZDNet that Senate staff members are exempt from those rules, so long as they don’t use encrypted apps for anything considered “historically valuable.” Via: ZDNet Source: Senator Ron Wyden