A few days ago, computer scientists revealed a wide-spread security exploit called FREAK. At first it was thought to be a vulnerability confined to Android devices and Macs, but it turns out that it affects Windows machines too.
Friday, March 06, 2015
A structure whose internal dimensions remain the same regardless of the external forces applied to it sounds fanciful—but that's exactly what this high-tech piece of origami does.
Posted by Augustine at 6:52 AM
Thursday, March 05, 2015
A rose is a rose is a rose, except when it's actually a yeast. A company called Gingko BioWorks in Boston is partnering with French fragrance company Robertet to create a genetically-modified yeast that makes the rose oil used in perfumes.
Posted by Augustine at 9:41 AM
One of the challenges associated with the internet of things is figuring out where to put all that data. If you have dozens of connected devices talking to the cloud (and that is a big if) you've got to think about where that data lives, how to normalize it and how to grant others access to it so...
Posted by Augustine at 8:17 AM
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
I saw the future today. I mean that. I got the chance here at MWC to try the new VR headset that Valve and HTC are developing. Is it good? It's absolutely incredible. This thing is just...my god you guys I can't even.
Posted by Augustine at 4:42 PM
On the scale of extremely disconcerting government revelations, this isn't PRISM, but damn if it isn't alarming. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) air traffic control systems. The FAA is basically just asking to be hacked thanks to its lackadaisical approach to security and software updates. Things are so bad, that relying on servers that have past their "end-of-life" date is probably the least concerning revelation made by the GAO. The government also found that FAA employees were sharing passwords through unencrypted communications channels, and had failed to patch out of date software with three-year-old security flaws.
The GAO report states right off the bat that, despite the FAA's efforts to improve security "significant security control weaknesses remain, threatening the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system." Any effort to prevent, detect or combat an intrusion by hackers is basically undermined by the agency's failure to fully implement a security program required under a law passed in 2002.
If you're not alarmed by all this, you should be. Think about it: This is the agency in charge of directing traffic for over 2,000 planes in the air at any given moment. (Planes, you know, the metal tubes hurtling through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour, each filled living human beings.) And they're relying on hardware that isn't supported by the manufacturer and left security flaws with simple fixes go unpatched for three years.
Senators John Thune and Bill Nelson were among those who quickly demanded answers from the FAA and the Transportation Department. So far the response has been disappointing, with the FAA saying its working on the problem, but offering little in the way of concrete solutions.
Filed under: Transportation
Via: Ars Technica
Posted by Augustine at 4:32 PM
Article: Watch Mozilla preview WebGL 2, the first major update to plugin-free 3D graphics in the browser
There were a lot of announcements at Game Developer Conference in San Francisco today, but one flew under the radar: a preview of WebGL 2. Mozilla gave us a sneak peek of what will one day power games and other intensive applications in the browser. WebGL, which stands for Web Graphics Library, i...
Posted by Augustine at 11:57 AM
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Many "universal" payment cards... well, aren't. They either don't work everywhere or only hold a limited number of cards, which leaves you out of luck when you're trying to add one more loyalty program. Stratos thinks it has this problem licked, though. Its new Bluetooth Connected Card promises "100 percent compatibility" with payment systems in the US, and it can hold an unlimited number of cards that you control through a mobile app. You also shouldn't have to worry about a thief going on a shopping spree if you lose your card, since you can tell it to automatically lock down if it's not close to your phone for a while.
The pricing model is different, to boot. Instead of buying the card outright, you pay for subscriptions ($95 for one year, $145 for two). This will let you get a new card every year, whether it's a replacement or an upgrade. Eventually, you should also get perks like virtual card downloads and location-based recommendations. You might not relish the idea of paying more on top of whatever fees your existing cards carry, but Stratos might be worthwhile if you really can leave most of your cards at home. And unlike some of its rivals, it's not stuck in development limbo -- shipments start as soon as April.
Posted by Augustine at 6:31 PM
It's only been a week since Pebble introduced Pebble Time, its second-generation color smartwatch, and there's already a new version of it up for grabs. Today at Mobile World Congress, the company has just announced Pebble Time Steel, a premium all-metal iteration of the Time. Indeed, the entirety of the Time Steel -- from the bezel to the buttons -- is made out of stainless steel and is available in silver, black and gold finishes. It has the same dimensions as the Time but is about 1mm thicker. That isn't so bad, especially since the Time Steel apparently has a longer battery life of up to 10 days instead of 7. As if that wasn't luxurious enough, when you buy a Pebble Time Steel, you'll get two straps: a stainless steel band plus a leather one.
Oh, and that's not all. Remember that smart accessory port that's on the Pebble Time? Well, today Pebble is also announcing a new open hardware accessory platform that developers can use to create "smartstraps" for the watch, using that smart accessory port to further extend the watch's functionality. Simply use the quick release trigger on the Time (and of course, the Time Steel) to swap out the straps and the smartstrap would have an additional flap that attaches to the smart accessory port.
As for what kind of new functions will the straps bring? Well, CEO Eric Migicovsky suggested perhaps a GPS strap, or one with a heart monitor, or even a battery strap that extends the watch's battery life to three or four weeks. He says that instead of integrating these sensors -- which are often obsolete in a few years anyway -- into the watch, it's more efficient to have them be modular. Pebble is already working on partnerships to come up with some of these smartstraps, but it also wants to hear from its community about additional ideas.
"It's one of the reasons why we wanted to launch the Time on Kickstarter," says Migicovsky. "Our plans involve more than just people buying the watch. We want to involve the community, to come up with the different straps." He says that we'll likely see some of the early smartstraps by the end of the year.
As for the Pebble Time Steel, if you've already backed the Pebble Time but now you'd rather have the Steel instead, don't worry. Migicovsky says you can upgrade to the Steel by increasing the amount of money you're kicking in without losing your spot in line. The special Kickstarter price for the Time Steel is $250 (and yes, you get both the leather and steel bands for that price), while the final retail cost is $299. The Pebble Time Steel will, however, ship in July rather than May.
Photos by Carlos Martinez
Filed under: Wearables
Posted by Augustine at 11:43 AM
You've likely read in a textbook before that light behaves both as a particle and a wave at the same time. Scientists had previously seen it behave one way or another, but it's only now that someone finally found a way to photograph light as both in a single picture since Einstein proposed its dual nature in the early 1900's. In order to photograph light, a team of scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) used a novel technique and an electron microscope so powerful, there are only two in the world.
Here's how they did it: they shone laser onto a tiny nanowire that caused it to vibrate, which, in turn, caused light waves to travel back and forth along its length -- when the waves met, they ended up emitting light particles. The team then fired electrons close to the nanowire that enabled them to capture both the light waves and particles, as you can see in the image above. Sound complicated? The video below makes it easier to understand, but take note that it's still the shorter, oversimplified explanation. If you want the whole enchilada (and all the scientific lingo that comes with it), you'll have to read the team's paper published in Nature.
Posted by Augustine at 11:42 AM
Consumers are shying away from tablets.
Sales of the handheld devices have crashed 30% across the industry, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said on an earnings conference call.
Best Buy's tablet sales declined less than the industry average, although the company declined to give specifics.
It's possible that phones with bigger screens, such as the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note, are hurting tablet sales, a company representative told Business Insider.
The so-called "phablets" are becoming more popular as consumers demand a bigger and brighter experience on their smartphones.
The iPhone 6 Plus boasts a screen that is 1.5 inches large than the previous model. It also has a larger battery, holding charge for 24 hours or more.
As more people buy these phones, it's likely that they don't feel the need to buy a tablet.
Best Buy executives also say that lack of innovation in the space is negatively affecting sales.
Global tablet shipments have been declining, according to a report by BI Intelligence. Meanwhile, "phablet" shipments will hit 1.5 billion by 2019.
"Larger screens are blurring the lines between tablet and phone," a Best Buy company representative said.
Posted by Augustine at 11:38 AM
This isn't your typical laptop announcement post. The most interesting thing about the Spectre x360, HP's new flagship notebook, isn't its design, performance or even price. No, what's interesting about this laptop is that Microsoft helped build it. Over the course of a year and a half, the two c...
Posted by Augustine at 8:02 AM
Monday, March 02, 2015
Game development is expensive. It's not a question of the tools costing too much; game engines like Unity and GameMaker Studio offer free versions, and paid versions aren't far out of reach. That's a recent development, though. When the last generation of game consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii) ruled the roost, the Unreal Engine was both ubiquitous and costly. Its latest iteration, Unreal Engine 4, is widely used, but has taken a sideline to free offerings from the likes of Unity. The engine's maker, Epic Games, isn't sitting idly by and letting the competition take over, though: as of this morning, Unreal Engine 4 is free for all to use.
So what does that mean? It means anyone that wants it has full access to the entirety of Unreal Engine 4's tools. You could create your very own game, or maybe an architecture project, or maybe...well, we don't really know. It's kinda up to you. If you're looking to make money on said project, you're free to -- Epic asks for a revenue share "after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter."
That revenue share comes to five percent of gross revenue -- a dramatic departure from the subscription model Epic announced last year at the Game Developers Conference. But is it enough to compete with Unity?
Developers Engadget spoke with expressed skepticism with the company's business model, saying their development engine choice is a measure of its ability and the developer's past experience more than the price argument. In so many words: it's not about being free, but about being an effective tool.
More than price, devs we spoke with expressed concern about having to re-configure how they work based around a different engine from what they've been using (primarily Unity). So, is it worth re-writing tools and creating new workflows to use Unreal Engine 4? That's a question you'll have to answer yourself. But hey, at least it's free!
Posted by Augustine at 6:20 PM
For the first time ever, scientist have snapped a photo of light behaving as both a wave and a particle at the same time.
The research was published on Monday in the journal Nature Communications.
Scientists know that light is a wave. That's why light can bend around buildings and squeeze through tiny pinholes. Different wavelengths of light are why we can see different colors, and why everyone freaked out about that black and blue dress.
But all the characteristics and behaviors of a wave aren't enough to explain everything that light does.
When light hits metal for example, it ejects a stream of electrons. Einstein explained this back in 1905 by suggesting that light is also made of particles and that those particles of light smack into the metal electrons like billiard balls and send them flying. The insight eventually won him the Nobel Prize, but scientists were not happy about being forced to conclude that light can behave as both a wave and particle.
It's been over 100 years and every experiment with light that any scientist has ever performed proves that light either behaves as a wave or that light behaves as a particle, but never both at the same time. No one has glimpsed both states simultaneously until now.
But you need a source of light to take a photo, so how do you take a photo of light itself? Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne in Switzerland captured the weird split personality of light by using a new photo technique.
First they fired laser light at a tiny metal wire. This trapped waves of light on the wire:
Then they fired a stream of electrons alongside the wire. The light waves on the wire are made of light particles called photons, so the electrons ricocheted off the photons, causing some electrons to speed up and some to slow down. The changes in speed show up as energy blips that can be visualized.
The researchers put the wire under a huge microscope that can see electrons, and snapped a photo of it. The bottom layer of the image shows where the particles of light are and the top layer shows what the light looks like as a wave:
"This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics — and its paradoxical nature — directly," Fabrizio Carbone, one of the researchers who worked on the study, said in a press release.
Carbone said the imaging technique could help advance the development of quantum computers — ultrafast computers that take advantage of other strange properties of light particles.
You can watch a video description of the experiment below, from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) on YouTube:
Posted by Augustine at 2:16 PM