Category Archives: computers

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.


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.

back-640x640 ruitbag-r15-2-640x534


USB stick which can perform HIV tests

Category : computers

Scientists at Imperial College London and DNA Electronics have developed a type of HIV test on a USB stick.

aids-usb

The device uses a drop of blood to detect HIV and then creates an electrical signal that can be read by a computer or handheld device.

The disposable test could be used for HIV patients to monitor their own treatment.

Furthermore, the technology could enable patients with HIV to be managed more effectively in remote locations.

New research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows the device is accurate and can produce a result in under 30 minutes.

The technology monitors the amount of virus in the bloodstream.


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Microsoft tool makes it easy to move from Evernote to OneNote

Category : computers

Evernote is the popular and top app for note taking and loved by many. Microsoft has a similar called OneNote until recently it is a paid application as part of the Office apps. But Microsoft recently made the OneNote family of apps free across devices, since then the usage of OneNote is increasing according to reports.

onenote

Now today Microsoft is announcing a tool to poach Evernote users to OneNote, the tool will make the switch from Evernote to OneNote easier. Microsoft says they hear from Evernote users that they want to switch to OneNote but they have all their on Evernote and that is pulling them back, that is a nice way to put it. The OneNote Importer tool will make the switch painless, the tool is for Windows only intiially, later it will also be available for Mac users as well.

The OneNote app is available in all devices and is free. Microsoft released a Mac app for free in March 2014 and later made the Windows app completely free in early 2015.

The OneNote importer tool can be downloaded from here. The download page lists a comparison chart between the two services, reproduced below.

How to import Evernote notes to OneNote

Download the importer tool and accept the end user license agreement.

If you have Evernote app installed on your Windows machine then the process is simple. All you have to do is sync all your notes to Evernote before importing them. The Importer tool will automatically discover your Evernote notes. Select the notes you want to import to OneNote and you are done.

If you don’t have Evernote installed then you have to go to Evernote and export your Notebooks as .enex files. This file can be imported to OneNote using the OneNote Importer tool. Select the Microsoft Account you want to use with the OneNote.

When you are set with the export file click Import and all your notes will be imported to OneNote.

After importing the notes to OneNote they will be available on all your devices like Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Here are instructions and Faq for the importer tool.


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Microsoft ends sales of Windows 7 and Windows 8

Category : computers

Microsoft has stopped the sales of both Windows 7 and Windows 8 from now on, that means if you want to a buy a new laptop or desktop you have Windows 10 as the only option for now. The end of sales means the relevant version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

The OEMs like Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo and others won’t be offering new computers with Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed. They will sell the new laptops and desktops with Windows 10 as that is the current Windows operating system that is shipping. You won’t get the downgrade rights also with this announcement. The last resort for you if you really want a Windows 7 or 8 system is to go to any retail store and buy the laptop or desktop of your choice as soon as possible. The move could boost the sales of Windows 10 systems and increase the market share of Windows 10 which is flat at the moment.

Though Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems won’t be on sale but you will get support for both these operating systems till 2020 and 2023 respectively. Windows 7 was launched in 2009, it was on sale for seven years and it is the most popular Windows OS ever. Comparatively Windows 8 is on sale for just four years and after the launch it became quite controversial because of the radical changes it introduced. With both these operating systems going away hopefully Windows 10 sales will increase and the coming festival season will give it a good boost in terms of sales.


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