Monthly Archives: November 2016

Your wireless keyboard can give away all your passwords

Category : computers

Wireless keyboards from eight companies suffer from the KeySniffer vulnerability, allowing attackers to glean passwords, credit card numbers, and security questions and answers.

security-data-lock-keyboard

Wireless keyboards from eight companies suffer from the KeySniffer vulnerability, allowing attackers to glean passwords, credit card numbers, and security questions and answers.

According to a report by Threatpost, the vulnerability can allow attackers to eavesdrop on keystrokes from up to 75 metres away.

The keyboard brands affected are:

  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Toshiba
  • Kensington
  • Insignia
  • Radio Shack
  • Anker
  • General Electric
  • EagleTec

KeySniffer was discovered by Marc Newlin, a researcher with Bastille Networks, after he found that two thirds of the keyboards he tested did not have encryption to begin with.

“As soon as I had finished the initial reverse engineering process it was immediately clear that these devices were sending all the keystrokes in clear text,” said Newlin.

Bastille gave the keyboard manufacturers 90 days to address the vulnerability, but most vendors failed to respond, stated the report.

Affected users should switch to a wired or Bluetooth-enabled keyboard, said Bastille.


Intel unveils Project Alloy

Category : gadgets

Intel has unveiled its all-in-one virtual reality platform, Project Alloy.

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Its all-in-one VR platform “made from the ground up”.

“A clear example of the future of merged reality today, the Alloy platform completely redefines what is possible in an all-in-one VR platform,” said Intel.

Alloy will use Intel’s RealSense technologies, which are optimised for VR, to deliver new immersive experiences, said the company.

The device can operate without cables, as the “computing power” (processor and battery) is located within the Alloy Head-Mounted Device (HMD).

“This, combined with collision detection and avoidance, enables the user to utilise physical movement to explore a virtual space,” said Intel.

Merged reality

Intel said the merged reality experience the Alloy offers means users can see their hands, friends, and objects around them.

Users can see elements from the real world while interacting with elements from a virtual world.

Intel said the HMD has RealSense cameras attached to it, which means users will not have to set up external sensors or cameras in a location of use.

“Intel is collaborating with Microsoft to optimise Windows-based content and experiences on Intel-based VR devices such as Alloy,” said Intel.

Intel will open the Alloy’s hardware and provide APIs for the ecosystem in 2017.


Intel unveils Aero Ready-To-Fly drone

Category : gadgets

Intel has launched its Intel Aero Platform for drones, alongside a Yuneec Typhoon H drone with Intel RealSense Technology

new drone technology at the Intel Developer Forum, featuring its Intel Aero Platform for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Intel is focussed on creating new technologies in the UAV segment, and said pre-orders are open for the Intel Aero Platform for UAVs.

Designed from the ground up to support drones, the UAV developer kit is powered by an Intel Atom quad-core processor.

It combines compute, storage, communications, and flexible I/O in a form factor the size of a standard playing card.

When matched with the optional Vision Accessory Kit, developers will have opportunities to launch sophisticated drone applications.

Intel’s Aero Ready-To-Fly drone is a quadcopter with the compute board, and integrated depth and vision capabilities incorporating Intel RealSense Technology.

The Aero drone supports several plug-and-play options, including a flight controller with Dronecode PX4 software, Intel RealSense for vision, and AirMap SDK for airspace services.

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Yuneec Typhoon H

Intel also showcased the Yuneec Typhoon H with Intel RealSense Technology, which uses intelligent obstacle navigation to avoid objects and plot an alternative course.

yuneec-typhoon-h


Xiaomi unveils new Mi Robot Vacuum

Category : gadgets

Xiaomi is taking on iRobot with its new Mi Robot Vacuum, which looks like a Roomba, but is a fraction of the price

mi-robot-vacuum-2

Xiaomi is taking on iRobot with its new Mi Robot Vacuum, which looks like a Roomba, but at a fraction of the price.

The Mi vacuum features 12 sensors to navigate the area it is cleaning and has a brush which can self-adjust to different surfaces.

The vacuum robot has a high-quality battery, offering over 2 hours of cleaning on a single charge, said Xiaomi.

The vacuum also automatically moves back to its docking station after it has finished cleaning or when it is running out of power.

mi-robot-vacuum-1 mi-robot-vacuum

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Apple iPhone’s new wireless earphones

Category : computers

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that Apple will look to make inroads into the Bluetooth headphone market.

According to MacRumours, Kuo said Apple was working on a Bluetooth-like communication chip and its own Bluetooth headphones.

This follows reports that Apple will remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7.

The company is also working on wireless earphones, stated the report, which may be released today alongside the iPhone 7.

The “AirPods” are expected to look very similar to the Bragi Dash earbuds – pictured above.

The AirPods will be targeted at the high-end market, above Apple’s Beats headphone range.

bragi_dash


Why turning your PC off and on again is the best fix

Category : computers

It’s the most common answer to our computing woes: when your PC or mobile is playing up, try turning it off and on again. Or, alternatively, rebooting.

To understand the concept of a “reboot”, it’s helpful to first understand what a boot means as far as computers are concerned.

The word comes from the expression “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”, which I’ve never fully understood, but apparently means “improve yourself by your own efforts”.

In a computer, the only program physically built into the computer hardware is a tiny one, called the “bootloader”.

When the computer starts up, this program gets control and loads, or “boots” another, much larger, program which serves as the “operating system” for the computer.

We know these systems by such names as Unix, Mac OS, Android and Windows 10.

The operating system does for your computer what your parents did for you during the first five years of your life. It organises the allocation of resources, fetches things and puts them away – and controls what the programs can and can’t do.

However, sometimes the operating system can get itself into a bit of a state – like your mum or dad did when the doorbell rang just as the washing machine sprang a leak and your pet rabbit escaped.

A clean slate

If we give the computer too many tasks to run – or a set of physical events occur in a sequence that the software writers weren’t expecting – then tasks can get “stuck” in memory.

Computer scientists talk about a “deadly embrace” that occurs when task A is waiting for task B to do something, and task B is waiting for task A to do something, causing them both to get stuck.

In addition, as tasks run, they fetch and use resources such as computer memory and, over time, the arrangement of these resources will become fragmented and harder to manage, just like it is difficult to find things in an untidy bedroom (which is probably why your parents made such a fuss about it).

A reboot may also be a temporary fix for problems caused by hardware that is becoming unreliable, particularly if things start to go wrong when components get hot.

Modern operating systems are very adept at spotting and removing stuck processes and also work very hard to keep things tidy, but sometimes a computer can reach a state where the best thing to do is start again from scratch.

A reboot removes every task and then restarts with a clean slate.

As a computer scientist I’m always looking for the easiest way to solve a problem and rebooting a computer is a good thing to try first, before looking for more complicated reasons why a system is running poorly.

Fix-all?

There are two flavours of reboot, which are often called “warm” and “cold”. You do a “cold” reboot by actually turning the computer off and on again.

A “warm” reboot, meanwhile, just reloads the operating system. Sometimes a warm reboot will fix your problems, but if some of your hardware has got itself into a state where it is not responding to any signals from the outside world, you might need to reach for the power switch.

One thing reboots cannot fix, however, is malicious software such as viruses. These horrid bits of program usually insert themselves into the boot process so that they get control next time the computer starts up. The only way to get rid of these pesky intruders is to scan your system, find them, and remove them.

In my experience the need for reboots is decreasing over time. These days I find that the main reason why I have to reboot my machine is to install updates.

This is because it is very hard for an operating system to update parts of itself while it is running – rather like trying to repair an aircraft in flight.

Some systems are never rebooted. Things like air traffic control systems and the programs that run our nuclear reactors are left running continuously. These systems have the advantage that they only run one particular program and their operating system can be built around this code.

However, for general purpose machines like the ones on our desks and in our pockets, the need for reboots will remain for a while. For me, it’s just a necessary consequence of having such a powerful and flexible device at my fingertips.


SanDisk unveils the biggest SD card in the world

Category : computers

SanDisk has revealed its prototype 1TB SD card.

sandisk-1tb

SanDisk the biggest SD card in the world, the prototype 1TB SDXC.

There is no information on price or launch date, but Western Digital – which owns SanDisk – said the card will be produced to meet the needs of 4K and 8K media.

“Higher-capacity cards expand the possibilities for professional videographers and photographers, giving them even greater ability to create more of the highest quality content, without the interruption of changing cards,” said Western Digital.

Read and write speeds of the SD card were not disclosed by the company.


Microsoft HoloLens

Category : computers

Microsoft’s HoloLens system is now available for pre-order in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Devices will start to ship in late November.

In the UK, a developer version of the HoloLens costs £2,719, while the commercial HoloLens suite is available for £4,529.

“Since the launch of Microsoft HoloLens, we have seen really passionate developers and world-class companies develop groundbreaking computing experiences – experiences only possible on HoloLens,” said Alex Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft Windows and Devices Group.

“Together, we have only scratched the surface of what mixed reality can do. I can’t wait to see what happens next as we welcome these new countries to our holographic landscape.”

microsoft-hololens


Secure laptop bag with no visible zips

Category : computers

The RiutBag R15 is a secure 15-inch laptop backpack, with no visible zips to the person behind you.

riutbag-r15

If you are looking for a secure laptop backpack, the RiutBag R15 is for you.

The RiutBag R15 is a secure 15 litre, 15-inch laptop backpack design, with no visible zips to the person behind you.

The R15 also features a D-pocket for smartphone access, water bottle holders, waterproof materials, four reflective RiutBands, and a trolley suitcase strap.

“Designed backwards, all access points are safe against your back for calm, secure travel. Smart, simple, and secure for work or holiday travel,” said the company.

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Cheap Microsoft virtual reality headsets announced

Category : software

Microsoft has stated that hardware partners will bring affordable virtual reality headsets to the market in 2017.

windows-vr

Microsoft has partnered with hardware manufacturers to ship virtual reality headsets from early 2017.

The VR headsets will be made by companies such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer, and will start from $299 (R4,157).

The headsets will start shipping with the Windows 10 Creators Update between March and May 2017, said Microsoft.

All the VR headsets will ship with six-degrees-of-freedom sensors.

Microsoft also demonstrated “Holotour” – which allows you to explore and interact with new places – which will run on Windows 10.


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