Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

Hell is about to be unleashed for a very affordable price. Bethesda’s “ultimate” edition of Doom rolls out to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 with the new 6.66 update . How’s that for a nice, round, hellish number? The update unlocks all the multiplayer DLC for everyone, offers skill-progression Runes in multiplayer and also comes with a new progression system. Instead of random loot unlocks in multiplayer, you’ll get to work toward specific upgrades. Not only that, but you can grab the whole new edition, including the SnapMap level editor and arcade mode , for $14.99. If you just want to try it out, there will be free weekends on each platform this month, as well. The developer also overhauled “most” of the in-game heads-up display, “including better callouts for challenges, awards and scoring.” The new kill card screen should also make it easier to know more about how and why you died, along with who exactly destroyed you. “Players will also discover numerous improvements throughout the menus and user interface, ” writes the developer in a blog post , “including completely revised post-match summaries as well as updates that better illustrate player status in lobbies, highlight the new progression options and status, and better outline weapon, equipment and demon characteristics.” If the $15 price doesn’t convince you to launch yourself into hell, you can give the title a test run for free at 12pm ET on July 20 for Xbox One, 1pm ET on the same day for PC and then at 12pm ET on July 27th for PlayStation players. Via: Polygon Source: Bethesda

Avast Now Owns CCleaner After Acquiring Piriform

Posted by kenmay on July - 20 - 2017

An anonymous reader writes: Security firm Avast has acquired software firm Piriform. Not only does the acquired company make CCleaner, but many other solid programs too. In fact, the rest of Piriform’s library — Recuva, Speccy, and Defraggler — are staples of the Windows freeware community. “CCleaner is a leading brand in the market, used by 130 million people, including 15 million Android users. CCleaner has an extensive and extremely loyal community of tech-savvy users, who need to speed up and optimize their PC and Android experience. Avast will maintain the CCleaner brand of products along with Avast’s existing performance optimization products, Avast Cleanup and AVG Tune Up. With the addition of CCleaner, Avast has dramatically expanded its product offerings in the PC and smartphone optimization market reaching customers around the world who demand faster performance, ” says Avast. Vince Steckler, CEO of Avast explains, “We see many commonalities between CCleaner and Avast, allowing for great new products for our user bases. Avast and CCleaner are the top two downloaded products on popular download sites. They are both known by advanced users as focused on performance, so we believe there will be a great interest from our CCleaner customers in using Avast security products and vice versa. In today’s connected world, it’s all about speed and high performance, and with Piriform’s robust technology we can address this need perfectly. We look forward to working with the Piriform team to grow the business together.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Enlarge / The catalyst in question. (credit: John Timmer) The carbon dioxide we’re currently dumping into the atmosphere started out as atmospheric carbon dioxide hundreds of millions of years ago. It took lots of plants and millions of years of geological activity to convert it to fossil fuels. One obvious way of dealing with our atmospheric carbon is to shorten that cycle, finding a way to quickly convert carbon dioxide into a usable fuel. Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is a very stable molecule, so it takes a lot of energy to split it. Most reactions that do so end up producing carbon monoxide, which is more reactive and a useful starting material, but it’s far from a fuel. Now, though, researchers have discovered a catalyst that, with a little help from light, can take CO 2 and make methane, the primary fuel in natural gas. While the reaction is slow and inefficient, there are a number of ways it could be optimized. Unexpected methane The work started out with a catalyst that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide when supplied with a source of electrons. The catalyst is a complex ring of carbon-based molecules that latch on to an iron atom at the center. The iron interacts with carbon dioxide, allowing hydrogen atoms from water to break one of the carbon-oxygen bonds, liberating water. The iron loses some electrons in the process, and these have to be re-supplied for the cycle to start again. Typically, that supply comes in the form of a separate chemical that readily gives up some electrons. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

$12k for a guitar made of the boards where people sat and listened to historic concerts. What kind of pick-up does this fantastically expensive beauty come with? Best I can tell: Black. I hope it sounds really, really good. This is especially the case with Fender’s new, limited edition Front Row Legend Esquire line. Made in Fender’s Custom Shop by Master Builder Yuriy Shishkov, these special Telecasters are built to order using 100–year–old Alaskan yellow cedar from the Hollywood Bowl’s original bench boards. Since its official opening in the summer of 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has spent almost 100 years hosting some of the biggest acts of every decade. Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, the Beach Boys, and Black Sabbath are just a smattering of the talent that has graced the Bowl’s stage, and now, you can own a functional piece of its history. Shishkov maintained the characteristics of each piece of bench board that he used, with all of its original scratches, cracks, and bolt holes. The top of each guitar will also feature the original seat number. Via Reverb ( Thanks, Jason Mancebo! )

Enlarge Apple released a slew of software updates today for nearly all of its systems; you can now download macOS Sierra 10.12.6, iOS 10.3.3, watchOS 3.2.3, and tvOS 10.2.2 to any of your compatible devices. The updates appear to be minor, as most of them focus on bug fixes. MacOS Sierra 10.12.6 is the sixth update to this version of Apple’s operating system, and it may very well be the last before the introduction of macOS High Sierra . As per Apple’s usual refresher schedule, macOS High Sierra should be pushed out to users this fall. According to Apple’s information page , macOS Sierra 10.12.6 improves the “security, stability, and compatibility” of Mac systems and tackles three main issues: “Resolves an issue that prevents making certain SMB connections from the Finder.” “Fixes an issue that causes Xsan clients to unexpectedly restart when moving a file within a relation point on a Quantum StorNext File System.” “Improves the stability of Terminal app.” That’s the extent of the details provided for any of these updates. Neither iOS 10.3.3 nor watchOS 3.2.3 lists any new features, but they do mention general “improvements” and “bug fixes.” Similarly to macOS, the operating systems for iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches will be totally revamped when iOS 11 and watchOS 4 launch. Both of those updates are expected to come out alongside macOS High Sierra in the fall. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Much of what happens in North Korea remains hidden from the outside world. But commercial satellite imagery and Google Earth mapping software are helping a human-rights organization take inventory of the worst offenses of the North Korean regime and identify sites for future investigation of crimes against humanity. A new report from the South Korea-based Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) —a non-governmental organization that tracks human-rights abuses and crimes against humanity by the world’s most oppressive regimes—details how the organization’s researchers used Google Earth in interviews with defectors from North Korea to identify sites associated with mass killings by the North Korean regime. Google Earth imagery was used to help witnesses to killings and mass burials orient themselves and precisely point out the locations of those events. Entitled “Mapping Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea: Mass Graves, Killing Sites and Documentary Evidence,” the report does not include the actual locations of what the researchers deemed to be sensitive sites out of concern that the North Korean regime would move evidence from those sites. But it does provide location data of other sites with potential documentary evidence of crimes, including police stations and other government facilities that may have records of atrocities. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Shape of Water looks magical, disturbing, and weirdly romantic. Though Guillermo del Toro took Hollywood by storm with movies like Hellboy and Pacific Rim , he truly made his mark with gothic indies like the Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth and the sumptuous Crimson Peak . Now he’s back with The Shape of Water , another intimate look at the inner lives of monsters and the humans who love them. Anyone who has been immersed in del Toro’s lush, magical films knows he’s a master of design, especially when it comes to creatures. Nearly all of his movies deal with the idea that monsters are better people than their human counterparts, and he always manages to get us to identify with giant hellbeasts and gore-soaked ghosts. Though del Toro’s monsters have always been mesmerizing and gorgeous, The Shape of Water is the first of his movies to deal overtly with a human falling in love with one of these otherworldly creatures. Like Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak , The Shape of Water is also a period piece. Set in the early 1960s during the Cold War, it’s about Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute janitor working at what seems to be a top-secret government facility. She’s assigned to clean a lab where the government has imprisoned a beautiful, intelligent fish-like man (Doug Jones), sort of a glimmering cross between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Aquaman. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: An unknown hacker has used a vulnerability in an Ethereum wallet client to steal over 153, 000 Ether, worth over $30 million dollars. The hack was possible due to a flaw in the Parity Ethereum client. The vulnerability allowed the hacker to exfiltrate funds from multi-sig wallets created with Parity clients 1.5 and later. Parity 1.5 was released on January 19, 2017. The attack took place around 19:00-20:00 UTC and was immediately spotted by Parity, a company founded by Gavin Wood, Ethereum’s founder. The company issued a security alert on its blog. The Ether stolen from Parity multi-sig accounts was transferred into this Ethereum wallet, currently holding 153, 017.021336727 Ether. Because Parity spotted the attack in time, a group named “The White Hat Group” used the same vulnerability to drain the rest of Ether stored in other Parity wallets that have not yet been stolen by the hacker. This money now resides in this Ethereum wallet. According to messages posted on Reddit and in a Gitter chat, The White Hat Group appears to be formed of security researchers and members of the Ethereum Project that have taken it into their own hands to secure funds in vulnerable wallets. Based on a message the group posted online, they plan to return the funds they took. Their wallet currently holds 377, 116.819319439311671493 Ether, which is over $76 million. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NASA is putting hundreds of historical videos on YouTube

Posted by kenmay on July - 19 - 2017

As part of its mission to make its research easier to access, NASA is uploading decades’ worth of archived footage to YouTube. So far around 300 videos have been uploaded, with a further 200 on the way. Each clip documents an important part of NASA’s history, including Space Shuttle landing research, X1 and X43A trial flights and the testing of the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle. SpaceX chief Elon Musk has previously commented on how difficult it was to find historical footage on NASA’s website. Before the uploading project, curious flight-fans would have to laboriously search through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection via the Dryden Flight Research Center website. Standard search queries in Google would reveal nothing. Now, with the video library prominently on the (renamed) Armstrong Flight Research Center’s website and YouTube channel , everyone has easy access to these fascinating historical highlights. Via: Motherboard Source: Armstrong Video Gallery

Hackers can take control of your Segway hoverboard

Posted by kenmay on July - 19 - 2017

We can list so many reasons why you should never set foot on a hoverboard . Now, we’ve got yet another: Cybersecurity company IOActive has figured out how to hijack the Segway MiniPro ” self-balancing personal transporter ” through its Bluetooth connection. It seems like only yesterday that we were discussing how hoverboards had a tendency to spontaneously combust and wondering who exactly was actually buying these products. But clearly some of you out there are interested, because Segway has kept cranking them out. The MiniPro, which retails for $600, allows for remote control of the hoverboard-scooter hybrid (seriously, who thought this was a good idea?) through a Bluetooth app. And there’s no way to turn off the Bluetooth if your hoverboard is hacked. While people can’t cause battery explosions (I guess we should be thankful for the little things), “an attacker could bypass safety systems and remotely take control of the device, including changing settings, pace, direction, or even disabling the motor and bringing it to an abrupt and unexpected stop while a rider is in motion, ” says the press release . Hackers could even track and discover the location of the hoverboard user through this exploit. IOActive did let Segway know about these issues (they discovered them last year; results were partially released today), and they have patched some of the vulnerabilities in the product. Still, this is an increasing problem as devices are becoming more connected . Without proper security (or let’s be honest: even with it), these devices and their users are incredibly vulnerable. At this point, not implementing security for connected devices is shoddy at best and dangerous at worst. Via: CNet Source: IOActive