Saturday, August 30, 2014

Drones provide terrorists with a DIY air force

their  fault...

Air power has been one of the defining characteristics of US military supremacy for the last six decades. The ability to see what is happening, and strike at anytime and anyplace, has given us a unique advantage in every war, skirmish and anti-terrorist strike. The sheer cost and complexity of developing and operating military-grade aircraft and airbases, along with training pilots and equipping supply lines, has meant that no other country or organization has been able to compete for air superiority with us. However, our own enthusiasm for unmanned drone use throughout the middle east may have helped sow the seeds of a new challenger to our monopoly on air power — the DIY drone air force.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10

Having tested this tablet myself for some time, I can say.....

This tablet is terrible, I would NOT recommend it.

Check out this review here:

The Chief Technomancer
VB Kid

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hackers take down PSN with DDOS, and Sony president’s plane with a bomb threat

No one is safe with a hacker on the prowl...

In a rather bizarre twist of events, a group by the name of Lizard Squad has taken hacking to the next level: Not only did the hackers take down the PlayStation Network with a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, but they also took down Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley’s airplane with a bomb threat. Sony has since restored service to PSN, and says there’s no evidence of any personal information being stolen. Smedley’s San Diego-bound American Airlines flight was quickly landed in Phoenix, but the only harm done was a lot of annoyed and delayed passengers. Perpetrating a DDOS attack is one thing, but bomb threats are an entirely different can of worms. Heads will undoubtedly roll in the next few days as federal investigators identify the members of Lizard Squad.

Nerds Love Twitch Because There, They Can Be Heroes

Everyone must Twitch, just Twitch....

Why do so many people watch others play video games on Twitch? Because the fans don’t look much different from the celebrities. They all play the same games. In a world of muscle-clad athletes and beautiful pop stars, on Twitch all that matters are your skills and your wits.

Be funny or fast on the trigger, and you can be famous, too. It’s aspirational. That lets viewers identify with the stars they tune into, and that emotional connection keeps them coming back to cheer, laugh and commiserate. It’s more fun to rally around your peers than someone you could never be. And that loyalty helped Twitch get acquired by Amazon today for $970 million.

SpaceX rocket self-destructs after detecting an ‘anomaly’


At its test site in Texas, a new SpaceX rocket has self-destructed mid-flight. As far as we’re aware, this marks the first major failure for SpaceX’s commercial space launch program. In a statement, SpaceX says the rocket detected an anomaly and automatically initiated its self-destruct sequence. No one (and no cows) were harmed in the explosion. A commercial Falcon 9 launch, which was scheduled to put AsiaSat 6 into orbit on Tuesday, has been delayed while SpaceX analyzes the data from the failed test rocket.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Smart tattoo generates electricity from sweat, could power future wearable computers

Something about this doesn't feel right...

Smart tattoos are the hottest thing since mood rings. When they become commonplace, they will be a great way to eavesdrop on both vital signs and not-so-vital signs. The only thing that seems to be holding them back, is getting power to them. Joseph Wang, a researchers from UCSD, has now come up with a way to generate power for these devices without using any external equipment. The secret, is to harness electrons from lactate acid secreted in sweat.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Software on your smartphone can speed up lithium-ion battery charging by up to 6x

Better battery life...

A startup in California, with the rather odd name of Qnovo, says it has developed a new way of rapidly recharging conventional lithium-ion batteries. With Qnovo’s technology, you can get six hours of phone life from just 15 minutes of charging — compared to just 1-2 hours from conventional charging. The secret, according to Qnovo, is that no two batteries are identical — and knowing exactly how much power you can pump into the battery without damaging it can significantly improve recharge times.

As you’re probably aware, lithium-ion batteries — as in, the battery in your smartphone, tablet, laptop — generally hold less charge as time goes by. There are many reasons for LIBs to lose charge and efficiency, but one of the most pesky is the creation of dendrites – mossy deposits of lithium that ooze out of cracks in the anode that form during charging (the sudden influx of ions caused by recharging causes the anode to expand and crack). These dendrites can reach out towards the electrolyte and cause short circuits, seriously reducing the battery’s capacity. [Read: How a lithium-ion battery works.]

Now, device makers already know that charging a lithium-ion battery is pretty dangerous because of dendrite formation. So, to ensure the dendrites don’t form, the amount of current flowing into the battery is reduced to a trickle. This results in longer battery life, which is good — but also significantly longer recharge times. [Read: How USB charging works, or how to avoid blowing up your smartphone.]

Qnovo closed-loop lithium-ion battery charging method

Qnovo is offering a different solution. Rather than simply reducing the charging current to the “lowest common denominator” that definitely won’t damage the battery, Qnovo has designed an intelligent feedback loop that constantly checks the battery’s status to ensure that it gets the optimal amount of current. Apparently, simply by simply sending a pulse into the battery, and then registering the voltage response, Qnovo can work out the battery’s temperature, age, and other factors that affect charging. By continually polling the battery as it charges, the current can be constantly tweaked. The Qnovo website notes that this doesn't just help batteries of different ages, either: Even two batteries made on the same day, at the same factory, can behave significantly differently.

Source: ExtremeTech

Your VB Kid

PORTAL is a travel router that offers instant anonymity after one-time setup


The internet provides a wealth of information at our fingertips, but it may also leave your personal information at someone else’s fingertips. Anonymity tools like Tor have existed for years, but interest in remaining invisible on the internet has increased markedly since the Snowden leaks last year. The problem, however, is that operational security (OPSEC) is tricky even for professionals. The key might be a small travel router recently shown off at Def Con by a pair of security researchers. The Personal Onion Router To Assure Liberty (PORTAL) is a plug-and-play device that conceals your internet traffic without any troublesome configuration.

PORTAL was created by Ryan Lackey and Marc Rogers along with collaborator “the grugq,” who was unable to attend Def Con. When a device is connected to PORTAL via ethernet or WiFi, all its traffic will automatically be routed over the Tor network, thus obfuscating the connection from anyone attempting to monitor what you’re doing.

Tor, or The Onion Router, is a network designed to anonymize internet traffic. When you connect to Tor, your connection is bounced between multiple nodes via an encrypted connection. Each node only knows where you came from and where you’re going directly after. Nothing else is visible, so your traffic is hidden until it reaches the exit node and emerges onto the “real” internet. Even someone sniffing that data would have trouble telling where the packets originated. Sites can also be hosted entirely within Tor on the so-called Darknet, like the infamous Silk Road before its takedown.

There are many ways to access Tor, so why is PORTAL important? If you download a tool like the Tor Browser Bundle or TAILS live CD, you’re responsible for making sure it works right each time you connect. There are a myriad of ways to screw that up and leave yourself exposed, but PORTAL works with the setup people are already using and requires little to no setup after it’s activated the first time. Just connect to the router and it takes care of all those little OPSEC worries.

Despite the clever methods implemented by Tor, it’s still not completely foolproof. A third party can still watch for Tor connections and kill them, or even snoop on both ends of Tor and try to correlate timestamps to determine who is sending what. PORTAL implements a few tricks to make the service more robust and resistant to interception. For example, PORTAL disguises Tor traffic as standard HTTP packets so networks and governments that specifically watch for Tor usage via surveillance systems will be less likely to spot the connection.

The device held up at Def Con is just one example of PORTAL – it’s actually software, not hardware. Users will have to grab the specially configured firmware from Github and flash it to a compatible travel router. This does require a little technical know-how, but the developers say making the process easier is a top priority. The lack of a single hardware device is probably the biggest weakness of PORTAL right now, but it allows the developers to iterate quickly. If you’re willing

Source: ExtremeTech

Your VB Kid

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saying Goodbye To Windows 8

Very good, let it die...

We’re starting to understand what’s next for Windows. Considering the most recent leaks involving the Charms Bar, desktop improvements, and the like, it’s becoming plain that some of what Windows 8 emphasized and introduced will be scaled back in Microsoft’s next Windows build.

Windows 9, often referred to as Threshold, isn’t too far away. There is talk of a beta late this year, and of a release in the first half of 2015, though those estimates I would hold as at least mildly optimistic.

If Windows 8 was a dramatic lurch towards mobile computing, especially on tablets, Windows 9 appears to be heading for a more equitable balance between desktop muscle, and mobile capability. That fits into the larger picture of the computing environment, where PCs are stabilizing after a dramatically difficult period, and tablet growth is cooling.

Microsoft needs to ensure that its desktop-facing operating system manages to support the still-large demand for desktop-focused PCs well. That doesn’t meant that Windows, as part of Microsoft’s vaunted ‘one Windows‘ strategy can abandon tablets, but it does mean that the focus needs to be more even.

Windows 8.1, of course, has been a part of the company’s work to make Windows 8 a better desktop operating system. But a partially-numbered Windows update can only be so radical — Windows 9 has more latitude to enact change.

The idea of removing the Charms Bar, bringing back the Start Menu, and adding multiple desktops are already picking up positive community reaction.

So back to the desktop? Not entirely. Microsoft isn’t backing down from the Windows Store. It isn’t abandoning the Start Screen. Live Tiles do not appear to be going anywhere, on Windows or Windows Phone. Instead the company seems to be at once focusing on providing a Windows 7-quality desktop experience in Windows, while also tying that desktop life to its new mobile-friendly interface, and apps.

That’s why it’s widely expected that Metro apps will be able to run in a windowed-fashion on the desktop in Windows 9, better bringing the Windows Store into the most popular side of Windows. (The company’s move in Windows 8.1 to add a Store shortcut is a preamble for this more important change.) [Update: Your author is a moron. Microsoft did in fact promise this in the future. I had my wires crossed.]

Windows 7 managed to get past Vista’s reputation. Perhaps Windows 9 can repeat the feat.

Source: TechCrunch

Your VB Kid

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Elon Musk warns us that human-level AI is ‘potentially more dangerous than nukes’

Elon knows...

Elon Musk, the mastermind behind SpaceX and Tesla, believes that artificial intelligence is “potentially more dangerous than nukes,” imploring all of humankind “to be super careful with AI,” unless we want the ultimate fate of humanity to closely resemble Judgment Day from Terminator. Personally I think Musk is being a little hyperbolic — after all, we've survived more than 60 years of the threat of thermonuclear mutually assured destruction — but still, it’s worth considering Musk’s words in greater detail.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Facebook Data Privacy Class Action Joined By 11,000 And Counting


On Friday the Europe vs Facebook privacy campaign group kicked off a new legal initiative targeting Facebook — in the form of a class action lawsuit that’s inviting adult non-commercial Facebook users located anywhere outside the US and Canada to join in.