Apple Watch’s Irregular Heart Rate Reading is a ‘Feature’, Not a Bug

Do you own an Apple Watch? Have you noticed the irregularities in heart rate monitoring pattern of the device? Apple says that it is not a bug in watch’s software, but it is a feature. The device measures your heart rate in an interval of ten minutes, but after the update (Watch OS 1.0.1), the device now attempts to measure the heart rate in same intervals as before, but it does not record it if the arm is in motion. 9to5Mac were the first ones to spot the updated heart rate information page on Apple’s website. This development has been made because the initial pattern of measurement prevented the passive heart rate readings, a feature which records your heart beat during carrying out physical activities.

There has been some speculation that Apple changed the recording frequency to conserve battery life because the updated frequency pattern drains battery less than the initial and it seems that Apple is trying to avoid inaccurately high readings caused by physical activity although this development is not mentioned in changelog.

This update has displeased the user who thought that the initial measuring frequency worked without any issues and now see the device as losing functionality. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Thank you 9to5Mac and Apple for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of 9to5Mac.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980Ti 6GB Graphics Card Review

Introduction


When you think of graphics cards and manufacturers, you automatically think of NVIDIA and the GTX range; regardless of what side of the fence you are on. Without a doubt, they produce some of the best graphics cards in the world, but that performance comes at a hefty price, the current most powerful single GPU card sits at around $950; not exactly sofa change. Today we have the newest Maxwell based graphics card and the first (and likely only) Ti model of the GTX 900 series; the GeForce GTX 980Ti.

We know that Maxwell are the go-to graphics card options of early 2015, they offer amazing performance in the GTX Titan X, great bang for buck in the GTX 970 and awesome budget gaming in the GTX 960; so what are NVIDIA doing by offering up a brand new high-end graphics card? My thought is to cement the fact that NVIDIA is a formidable force in the graphics card marketplace and a new memory technology (High Bandwidth Memory) isn’t going to beat them without a fight.

The GTX 980Ti will be based on the mighty GM200 GPU with some slight modifications to bring the performance down from the Titan X. It is around 90% of the specification in regards to cores and TMUs; so let’s see if it’s around 90% of the performance too.

The retail packaging is very high-end, very strong construction and dense foam for the perfect shipping box to keep your new pride and joy safe.

The card is almost identical to that of the rest of the GTX 900 series reference coolers.

The PCB look very similar to the Titan X, but without the rear mounted VRAM and a few components missing.

Very minimalistic output end, 1x DVi port, 3x DisplayPort and 1x HDMI port.

 

Bill Nye’s Solar Sail Back In Touch After Reboot

We’ve all had the problem, something’s gone wrong and all of a sudden you panic! In my case, it’s normally something goes wrong with the wireless and you rush around checking your computer and your router making sure they are both working fine and you can connect to the internet again. In this case, though the two pieces of machinery were a little further apart when Bill Nye’s Solar Sail spacecraft started communicating again with the engineers back on earth.

The LightSail craft, our initial article on the launch here, had stopped sending information back to Earth after what is believed to be a software glitch. After attempting to remotely reboot the spacecraft failed they had only one chance left, a natural reboot, where the LightSail would reboot itself.

The LightSail successfully managed to reboot itself and call home, the company behind the project, Planetary Group, are confident that once their software has been patched and they are ready they will begin deploying the LightSails sails and continue testing the crafts space travelling capabilities.

Being able to travel without the use of fuel would make space travel not only more sustainable but could lighten up the spaceships we use considerably. This, however, goes as a reminder that no matter how safe you think are you, it always helps to have a backup, be it an automatic reboot for your multi-million dollar spaceship or your latest essay for school it helps to be prepared.

Thank you The Verge for the information.

Image courtesy of ISSS.

Uber Drivers Can Track You if You Agree

Uber, the car sharing phenomenon that has taken the world by storm; has recently updated its terms and conditions to include a new tracking feature for the drivers. This new tracking will allow swifter and more efficient pick-ups as the driver will always know where you are; it will be more accurate than just placing a pin and hoping for the best.

This follows an external review of Uber’s privacy policy prompted by some PR issues involving customer privacy. “If you recall, some Uber employees used the “God View” tracker embedded in the app to spy on the whereabouts of a Buzzfeed reporter and a high-profile venture capitalist last year. All its corporate employees (but not its drivers) reportedly had access to God View and could monitor a user’s activities. Let’s not forget the time an exec made a remark about hiring a team to dig up personal dirt on journalists that criticize the service, as well.”

Along with those changes, this new privacy update list the kind of data it wants to collect from its customers. It makes very clear that it wants to keep records of your transactions, including frequency, cost, distance travelled, etc… and also gathers some information about your device such as make, model, network, etc. Along with that, Uber also wants to collect data of your contacts to provide targeted marketing to them.

This new update will take place on July 15th, so expect some permission pop-ups. If you decide not to activate the new features; Uber stated that the app will work as it currently does.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.

‘Injured’ Crash Victim Starts Using his Phone

Do you use your mobile quite often? Are you obsessed with your mobile phone? So obsessed that you won’t even think to pull it out and start playing on it after you have met an accident. Well, that is what happened in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, China, last Tuesday. Reportedly, he was riding his motorbike when he met the accident. He had injuries, according to Chinese People’s Daily reports. The reason behind the accident and severity of the injuries, though he was conscious enough to operate his mobile phone while lying on the ground, is unclear at this moment.

Few photographs first published on Weibo show the man lying in the street, clutching his phone and seemingly playing a video game. The Daily Mail reports that the victim is subsequently been discharged from the hospital as reported by the police. The Mail also said that skeptics on social media suggested that the man stayed prostrate so that he could extract compensation from the driver. However, if that was the case, surely he might have acted a touch more, well, hurt, than the playing on his phone indicated.

Thank you CNET and People’s Daily for providing us with this information.

The Witcher 3’s PC Patch 1.05 and 1.04 for Consoles Revealed

Have you faced the glitches and bugs while enjoying Witcher 3 : Wild Hunt, a role-playing game? The developers are right where they should be, fixing the game and that is how we get more information about the upcoming patch 1.05 for PC and 1.04 for consoles. Community Coordinator Marcin Momot mentioned that a hot fix on Monday will actually come in the full patch 1.05 for PC, which will be released on Tuesday or Wednesday that would solve the issue that causes XP not to be assigned for certain quests and as pushing hot fix on Monday and then pushing the game patch on the very next day is not the best way to deliver updates.

“That’s correct. It’s getting fixed next week. We were trying to release a hotfix on Monday but since the 1.05 on PC is coming right after that, we might just release 1.05 and include the XP fix in there as well. That will happen most likely Tuesday/Wednesday.”, said Marcin Momot. “We do not stop working. We are trying to fix everything. Thank you for your understanding.”

Momot clarified few things on twitter and official forums today. Bugs such as micro stutter issue, wrong total play time and buggy quest of Pyres of Novigrad will be fixed with the upcoming patch. It was made clear that the 30 FPS lock on Xbox is not optional.

“1.05 is coming after the weekend. This patch will address majority of bugged quests. The Pyres of Novigrad quest will be fixed in the upcoming patch, both on consoles and on PC. Sorry about the delay.”, said Marcin Momot.

Thank you DualShockers for providing us with this information.

Origami Mini-drone Folds, Walks, Swims and Dissolves.

“Image courtesy of ieee.org .”

At ICRA 2015, MIT researchers demonstrated an origami robot which self-folds, walks, swims and dissolves.

From a flat sheet with centered magnet, it folds into action completing its final form in a matter of seconds, ready to take on land or sea. After pushing its forms to the limit one can simply dissolve its shell and start all over again.

The unfolded robot is made of a magnet and PVC enclosed by a structural layer, it weighs 0.31 g and measures 1.7 cm on its side. When placed on a heated surface, the PVC contracts creating folds where the structural layer’s been cut. Goes from flat to folded in under a minute giving you the ability to cruise at a comfortable 3-4 cm/s.

There’s one minor issue, the motor can’t fold or dissolve. The motor a two part magnetic driven system uses a cubic neodymium magnet which the shell encloses and four electromagnetic coils underneath the surface providing magnetic fields for motion. The field turns on and off at 15 Hz causing the robot’s magnet to oscillate back and forth, this combined with its asymmetric design and off-center balance point causes the robot to walk. Its folded design also aids in floating giving you a water st-riders control. Upon completion of tasks submerging the bot in acetone dissolves its outer shell readying it for a new design.

Stages of configuration: (a) Outlook of the system. (b) The crease pattern. (c) Walking mode by torque-based control. (d) Swimming mode by force-based control.

“Image courtesy of ieee.org .”

 

Electromagnetic Coil System:

“Image courtesy of ieee.org .”

Here’s a video of it in action:

This really gives a glimpse of the future, medical, military and energy applications are endless plus we’re one step closer to the Jetsons flying car, the folded briefcase. If you think this one’s amazing let us know in the comments section.

“Thank you ieee.org for providing us with this information.”

ZOTAC Reveal GTX 980Ti Launch Products

With the launch of NVIDIA’s GTX 980Ti graphics card just around the corner, manufacturers are starting to show off what they will be offering to consumers. This time around, it is the turn of ZOTAC.

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti (ZT-90501-10P)

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti (ZT-90501-10P) Specifications:

  • 2816 CUDA cores
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory
  • 384-bit memory bus
  • Base Clock: 1000 MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1076 MHz
  • Memory clock: 7010 MHz

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! (ZT-90503-10P)

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! (ZT-90503-10P) Specifications:

  • 2816 CUDA cores
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory
  • 384-bit memory bus
  • Base Clock: 1051 MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1140 MHz
  • Memory clock: 7010 MHz

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! Extreme (ZT-90505-10P)

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti AMP! Extreme (ZT-90505-10P) Specifications:

  • 2816 CUDA cores
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory
  • 384-bit memory bus
  • Base Clock: 1253 MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1355 MHz
  • Memory clock: 7210 MHz
  • Custom PCB, 2x-8pin PEG

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti Arctic Storm

  ZOTAC GeForce GTX 980 Ti Arctic Storm Specifications:

  • 2816 CUDA cores
  • 6GB GDDR5 memory
  • 384-bit memory bus
  • Base Clock: 1051 MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1140 MHz
  • Memory clock: 7010 MHz

There as some very nice looking designs, mainly following the AMP! branding and style of previous ZOTAC graphics cards. The most interesting is the Arctic Storm with its hybrid air and water cooling solution. More images and specifications will be launched throughout Computex, we will keep you updated.

Thank you to VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

Netflix is Killing BitTorrent Traffic

Forget DMCAs, DRM, fines, and lawsuits: the best way to tackle piracy, as those in the know have been screaming for years, is to make content affordable and easily accessible. iTunes proved it was true for music back in 2003, and a new report from Sandvine shows that Netflix is doing it for film and TV. The report shows that Netflix accounts for 36.5% of all internet traffic in North America, while BitTorrent traffic has plummeted to a low of 6.3%.

Highlights of Sandvine’s findings include:

  • Netflix continues to slowly increase its domination of North American fixed networks, accounting for 36.5% of downstream traffic in the peak evening hours
  • In Latin American, two companies, Facebook and Google, now control over 60% of total mobile traffic in the region
  • The release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Ascendance DLC caused a significant spike in bandwidth usage, and accounted for 12% of traffic on one North American fixed network on its release date
  • During the season five premiere of Game of Thrones, HBO’s two streaming properties (HBOGO and HBONOW) accounted for 4.1% of traffic on one US fixed network; an increase of over 300% of their average levels
  • BitTorrent continues to see a decline in fixed access bandwidth share, and now accounts for only 6.3% of total traffic in North America, and 8.5% in Latin America
  • Netflix’s recent decision to encrypt their service will result in the majority of Internet traffic in Latin America and North America being encrypted in 2016

BitTorrent traffic has been falling for over 7 years; in 2008, torrents accounted for 33% of internet traffic, which fell to 22% by 2011. Legitimate video-on-demand services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video, seem to have successfully undermined illegal firesharing.

Last year, Sandvine’s Dan Deeth told Mashable, “People have shifted their activities to streaming over file sharing, Subscribers get quality content at a reasonable price and it’s dead simple to use, whereas torrenting or file sharing is a little more complicated.”

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.

Is Microsoft Set to Rescue Silent Hills?

Could it be? It is true? Will the greatest game never made really be resurrected? According to the Rooster Teeth YouTube channel: “We can report through an anonymous source that Microsoft is currently in talks to purchase Silent Hills from Konami, and have project as an Xbox One exclusive,” in a deal supposedly worth billions of dollars.

The recently cancelled Silent Hills – co-directed by horror auteur Guillermo del Toro and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, and starring The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus – is one of the many causalities of Konami’s ‘scorched Earth’ restructuring, with the company refocusing its resources on mobile gaming and gambling, but is probably the most lamented. The game’s demo, P.T., hailed as a masterpiece in of itself, was downloaded over a million time from the PlayStation Store, before being acrimoniously pulled last month. The source claims that Konami pulled P.T. from the PlayStation Store “as a show of good faith to Microsoft.”

The unsubstantiated rumour of Silent Hills’ imminent rescue courtesy of Microsoft sounds outlandish, but Lawrence Sonntag of Rooster Teeth’s The Know assures viewers that its anonymous source is trustworthy, saying, “The source is in the industry – very well placed – and has leak information to us in the past that has become true. Specifically, we learned from the source in July 2013 […] that Microsoft would eventually release an Xbox One without a Kinect, and at the time this is when Microsoft was saying, ‘we will never, ever, ever do it’.” The Know’s source reported that the change would occur Summer 2014 – Xbox One without Kinect then shipped on 9th June, 2014.

The Know added, “Our source told us that Microsoft is hungry for exclusives, and they are in serious talks with Konami to buy the Silent Hill property and convert it into an Xbox One exclusive. On top of that, Microsoft is hoping to close this deal by E3 so they can trot it out as a huge get,” so we shouldn’t have to wait too long until the report is confirmed to be true.

Finally, the leaker says that “Silent Hills is said to be about 80% done, and if all that is true the game could come out as early as March of next year.”

Billions of dollars for an ailing franchise? “80% done” when Reedus said during a reddit AMA in December 2014 that “we haven’t shot the heavy [motion capture] stuff yet”? I don’t buy a word of it. But I desperately want to.

Image courtesy of Forbes.

‘Handful of Senators’ Blocking Patriot Act Extension

US President Barack Obama has blamed a “handful of senators” for blocking the USA Freedom Act, designed to extend the mass surveillance legislated by section 215 of the infamous Patriot Act, which expires on 1st June. Obama has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he expects senators who are standing in the way of the extension to fall in line before May comes to an end.

Last week, the Senate voted against The USA Freedom Act (57/42 votes) and a 60-day emergency extension to the existing Patriot Act (54/45 votes).

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we are dark,” Obama said. “And heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”

McConnell is expected to call the Senate into session on Sunday in an effort to push through the extension before it expires at midnight “to make every effort to provide the intelligence community with the tools it needs to combat terror,” according to his spokesman, Don Stewart.

“The only thing that is standing in the way is a handful of senators who are resisting these reforms despite law enforcement and the (intelligence community) saying ‘let’s go ahead and get this done,'” Obama added, putting the blame of any failure to extend the act squarely on the Senate.

If only they’d called it the Stars and Stripes and Apple Pie Act, it would have been a dead rubber.

Thank you Yahoo! Tech for providing us with this information.

Florida Public Schools to Spy on Students’ Social Media

The Orange County Public Schools District have chosen to monitor people’s social activity in their area, the district announced on Thursday that it has signed up with a service called Snaptrends, which bills itself as “Pioneering Location-Based Social Media Discovery.” It promises to “quickly identify actionable insights.”

The public schools insisted that the purpose of the software was “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.” 

Cnet contacted the Orange County Public Schools District to ask how far this monitoring will stretch — current information suggests that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube will be monitored for specific keywords.

They also asked what the district would say to a parent who believes this is unnecessary stalking of their kids. However, there was no response.Schools from Huntsville, Ala,. to Glendale, Calif., have decided that they must, in one form or another, monitor what their students do on social media.

It does make me wonder what level of detail they can see, on a personal and irrelevant level, surely that is an invasion of students privacy?

We’ve all become used to Google, Facebook and other commercial cohorts scanning our messages and generally following us around 24 hours a day. Somewhere buried deep within us might be the idea that they’re only doing it for commercial reasons and don’t care one whit about our personal lives and pre dilections — unless they can make money out of them. It’s business, not personal.

With schools, it’s a little different. They’re specifically monitoring what kids do in private — even if that might be publicly available information — with a view to preventing bad behavior.

Thank you to Cnet for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SnapTrends

SteelSeries Siberia V3 Gaming Headset Review

 

Introduction


Today is a great day, as I finally get to take a look at the latest entry in the ever-popular Siberia gaming headset series. The original Siberia was widely regarded as a great headset, the V2 was and still is thought of as one of the best price vs performance headsets on the market and now we’re at V3, will it continue the trend and be even greater than its predecessors?

As you can see from the specifications below, the V3 is equipped with all the basics. Good quality drivers, a unidirectional microphone and 3.5mm jack plugs; nothing extraordinary, but certainly everything you’re likely to need.

In the box, you’ll find a small booklet to help you setup the headset, although it’s not rocket science really. There’s also a 4-pole to dual 3-pole 3.5mm adaptor; the V3 is compatible with mobile devices and desktop systems.

The headset its self comes hard-wired with a 4-pole cable, perfect for hooking it up to your MP3 player, tablet, smartphone or any other 3.5mm compatible audio output.

The back of the drivers have a nice finish to them with a mixture of gloss and matte plastics that feel durable, but incredibly lightweight. There’s a pivot on the back of the ear-cup to help provide a closer fit over your ear.

At the back of the left ear-cup, you’ll find a small switch to mute the microphone, it comes with a raised section that makes it easier to find and toggle without having to take the headset off and look for it.

As with the previous Siberia headset, the microphone has a flexible boom and can be retracted back into the earcup; a nice solution to hiding the boom when you don’t need it, without having to resort to a detachable one.

The microphone looks pretty straight forward,  but the pull-out/push-away design, combined with the flexible boom makes it really easy to find a comfortable speaking position.

The headband is very similar to previous headsets in this range. Instead of a sliding headband, you have two fixed outer supports that help keep the headset clamped over your ears, while the soft inner section is sprung and will auto-adjust to your head size.

It’s a really cool design, but it also helps cut out a lot of unrequired materials, which in turn helps reduce the weight of the headset.

There’s very little padding here, but since the inner band moves outwards, it still very comfortable to wear; more so than most headsets with thick padding.

The springs are strong, but quite forgiving and it means you never need to adjust the headset; even when switching between users.

The headband design is durable but also very forgiving and you can put quite a lot of strain on it without any concern that it is going to break. This is good for those who plan to chuck the headset in their backpack and travel with it, as it’s certainly not going to break anytime soon.

There’s a soft leather padding on the ear cups that is comfortable to wear, but also provides a nice clean fit over your ears, blocking out a lot of unwanted external sound, whilst also keeping your personal audio from leaking.

Overall, a very nice looking headset with great build quality and a lightweight design.

Hola Founder Confirms VPN Sells Users’ Bandwidth

The operator of 8chan says the bandwidth of millions of Hola users is being sold for reuse, with some of it even being used to attack his site. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Hola founder Ofer Vilenski says that users’ idle resources are indeed utilized for commercial sale, but that has been the agreement all along.

Faced with increasing local website censorship and Internet services that restrict access depending on where a user is based, more and more people are turning to services such as Hola designed to overcome such limitations by sending your internet traffic via other networks. This then makes it appear that you’re located in another country – such as America.With prices plummeting to just a few dollars a month in recent years, VPNs are now within the budgets of most people. However, there are always those who prefer to get such services for free, without giving much consideration to how that might be economically viable.

With prices plummeting to just a few dollars a month for the service, VPNs and proxies are now within the budgets of most people. However, there are always those who prefer to get such services for free, without giving much consideration to how that might be economically viable.One of the most popular VPN/geo-unblocking solutions on the planet is operated by Israel-based Hola. It can be added to most popular browsers in seconds and has an impressive seven million users on Chrome alone. Overall the company boasts 46 million users of its service.

Now, however, the company is facing accusations from 8chan message board operator Fredrick Brennan. He claims that Hola users’ computers were used to attack his website without their knowledge, and that was made possible by the way Hola is setup.

“When a user installs Hola, he becomes a VPN endpoint, and other users of the Hola network may exit through his internet connection and take on his IP. This is what makes it free: Hola does not pay for the bandwidth that its VPN uses at all, and there is no user opt out for this,” Brennan says.

This means that rather than having their IP addresses cloaked behind a private server, free Hola users are regularly exposing their IP addresses to the world but associated with other people’s traffic – no matter what that might contain.While this will come as a surprise to many, Hola says it has never tried to hide the methods it employs to offer a free service.“Hola has gotten greedy. They recently (late 2014) realized that they basically have a 9 million IP strong botnet on their hands, and they began selling access to this botnet (right now, for HTTP requests only) at

“Hola has gotten greedy. They recently (late 2014) realized that they basically have a 9 million IP strong botnet on their hands, and they began selling access to this botnet (right now, for HTTP requests only) at https://luminati.io,” the 8chan owner said.

Thank you to TorrentFreakfor providing us with this information

Image courtesy of  Itproportal

Mad Max’s Insane Vehicles Look Awesome in Lego

No pop culture phenomenon is complete until it gets made in Lego form. Thankfully for fans of Mad Max: Fury Road, that moment has arrived.

A Flickr user has uploaded a massive photo gallery of his collection of Lego inspired by the movie’s incredible array of outlandish vehicles. He’s recreated everything from the ludicrous Doof Wagon to Immortal Joe’s Gigahorse and Furiosa’s almighty War Rig. You can check out more Lego versions of the film’s vehicles over at Lego Will’s Flickr page.

The film was released earlier this month and has an IMDB rating of 8.7/10. A summary of the film is below:

“Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortal Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the despot’s five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a loner and former captive. Fortified in the massive, armored truck the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord’s henchmen in a high-speed, deadly chase through the Wasteland.”

It has made $239,289,534 since the launch based on the box office’s estimated figures and stars the likes of Tom Hardy(mad max himself), Charlize Theron (Imperator Furiosa) and Nicholas Hoult (Nux).

Here are some of the photos:

 

Thank you to Flikr for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Flikr / LEGO Will

Say Hello To Your MicroSD Computer, Courtesy Of Google

Data security is a big issue in the news and politics, with everything from hacking to ransomware affecting a variety of both personal and business users. Mobile phones are used to store everything from personal pictures to work login details. Google aims to solve this with their latest gadget, Project Vault.

The vault looks like your everyday micro SD card, with sizes ranging from 4GB to 64GB announced. The difference being is that this little memory chip has a miniature computer built in. Powered by an ARM processor running ARTOs, an operating system focused on privacy and data security, the chip is designed to allow you a full range of security features such as batch encryption and hardware random number generator. The chip even features a NFC (near field communication) chip and an antenna to allow authorization and authentication services for the device its plugged into.

With all the new security features, allowing a more secure way to store your data on the go the device is designed to be compatible with everything from Android and Linux to Windows and OS X. With no additional software required the chip can be plugged into any micro SD readers and will be picked up as a generic storage device with a standard file system, no additional work required.

Currently, the device is being aimed at companies, with their first version being used internally at Google, however, they have not ruled out plans to make a consumer-focused version in the future. With the release of the Open Source Development Kit they hope that people can test and understand the hardware before they invest more time and finalise the details. In the demonstrator, Vault was used in a chat conversation, with vault taking care of encrypting and decrypting messages, meaning the phones used never actually had to use a key or algorithm, allowing secure communication easily.

With digital security such a big issue these days, generic hardware which can help encrypt everything like this are going to make a big difference to everyday users and giant corporations alike.
Thank you Tech Crunch for the information and images.

 

How Ross Ulbricht Ended up in Prison for Life

Have you heard of the Silk Road? It’s been pretty big news recently. The website was the core of “the dark web” – a side of the internet that was only accessible to the uppermost of criminals.

The main person behind the Silk Road (Ross Ulbricht)  was convicted for Life this week, after being prison since the 1st of October 2013. Ars Technica have published an article telling us what happened on that day:

On October 1, 2013, the last day that Ross Ulbricht would be free, he didn’t leave his San Francisco home until nearly 3:00pm. When he did finally step outside, he walked ten minutes to the Bello Cafe on Monterey Avenue but found it full, so he went next door to the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library. There, he sat down at a table by a well-lit window in the library’s small science fiction section and opened his laptop.

From his spot in the library, Ulbricht, a 29-year-old who lived modestly in a rented room, settled into his work. Though outwardly indistinguishable from the many other techies and coders working in San Francisco, Ulbricht actually worked the most unusual tech job in the city—he ran the Silk Road, the Internet’s largest drug-dealing website.

Shortly after connecting to the library WiFi network, Ulbricht was contacted on a secure, Silk Road staff-only chat channel.

“Are you there?” wrote Cirrus, a lieutenant who managed the site’s extensive message forums.

“Hey,” responded Ulbricht, appearing on Cirrus’ screen as the “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the pseudonym he had taken on in early 2012.

“Can you check out one of the flagged messages for me?” Cirrus wrote.

“Sure,” Ulbricht wrote back. He would first need to connect to the Silk Road’s hidden server. “Let me log in… OK, which post?”

Behind Ulbricht in the library, a man and woman started a loud argument. Ulbricht turned to look at this couple having a domestic dispute in awkward proximity to him, but when he did so, the man reached over and pushed Ulbricht’s open laptop across the table. The woman grabbed it and handed it off to FBI Special Agent Thomas Kiernan, who was standing nearby.

Ulbricht was arrested, placed in handcuffs, and taken downstairs. Kiernan took photos of the open laptop, occasionally pressing a button to keep it active. Later, he would testify that if the computer had gone to sleep, or if Ulbricht had time to close the lid, the encryption would have been unbreakable. “It would have turned into a brick, basically,” he said.

Then Cirrus himself arrived at the library to join Kiernan. Jared Der-Yeghiayan, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations, had been probing Silk Road undercover for two years, eventually taking over the Cirrus account and even drawing a salary from Ulbricht. He had come to California for the arrest, initiating the chat with Ulbricht—who had been under surveillance all day—from a nearby cafe.

Looking at Ulbricht’s computer, Der-Yeghiayan suddenly saw Silk Road through the boss’ eyes. In addition to the flagged message noted by Cirrus, the laptop’s Web browser was open to a page with an address ending in “mastermind.” It showed the volume of business moving through the Silk Road site at any given time. Silk Road vendors concealed their product in packages shipped by regular mail, and the “mastermind” page showed the commissions Silk Road stood to earn off those packages (the site took a bit more than 10 percent of a typical sale). It also showed the amount of time that had been logged recently by three top staffers: Inigo, Libertas, and Cirrus himself.

Ulbricht was soon transferred to a New York federal prison; bail was denied. In addition to charges of drug dealing and money-laundering, prosecutors claimed that Ulbricht had tried to arrange “hits” on a former Silk Road administrator and on several vendors. Though Ulbricht had in fact paid the money, the hits themselves were all faked—in one case, because a federal agent was behind the scheme, in another because Ulbricht appears to have been scammed using the same anonymity tools he championed.

Despite having been caught literally managing a drug empire at the moment of his arrest, Ulbricht pled not guilty. His family, together with a somewhat conspiracy-minded group of Bitcoin enthusiasts, raised a large pool of money for his defense. With it, Ulbricht hired Joshua Dratel, a defense lawyer who has handled high-profile terrorism trials.

Dratel did not reach any sort of plea deal with the government, as is common in such cases. Beyond a general insistence that his client was not, in fact, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Dratel offered no public explanation of what had happened in the Glen Park library—until January 2015, when the case went to trial at the federal courthouse on Pearl Street in lower Manhattan.

“Ross is a 30-year-old, with a lot at stake in this trial—as you could imagine,” Dratel said in his opening statement, addressing the jury in a low-key voice. “This case is about the Internet and the digital world, where not everything is as it seems. Behind a screen, it’s not always so easy to tell… you don’t know who’s on the other side.”

Ulbricht, he said, was only a fall guy, the stooge left holding the bag when the feds closed in; the “real” Dread Pirate Roberts was still at large. But would the jury buy this unlikely story?

The Silk road was a massive network of servers that provided a website to be able to buy almost every drug and illegal substance known to man. Upon login, users could see pictures of the substances and be able to access other tools such as hacking tools, fake ID’s and an illegal coupon scheme. All of which were held against Ulbricht in his trial. The site operated with a simple interface and had extensive user forums, providing a similar experience to Ebay and Craigslist. The website itself had no contact with drugs; it linked buyers and sellers together then taking a percentage of each transaction.

To access the website you had to use two technologies. Tor and Bitcoin. Tor was developed by the US navy originally and now managed by a nonprofit organization. It helped anonymize traffic by routing between several servers and encrypting the traffic on its way through.Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency; also an anonymous method for paying money to other anonymous people.

In July 2013, Der-Yeghiayan scored a bigger prize, taking over the account of a Silk Road staffer named “Cirrus.”

“Cirrus has always been dedicated to our community at large,” Dread Pirate Roberts explained in a private message introducing Cirrus to his small group of administrators shortly before Der-Yeghiayan took over the account.

Adopting Cirrus’ identity, Der-Yeghiayan earned 8 bitcoins a week—about $1,000 at the time—for moderating forum posts. After several weeks, he got a raise to 9 bitcoins a week. He was paid right up until the Silk Road site was shut down in October 2013.

For two years, Der-Yeghiayan worked the case without ever knowing DPR’s real name; he learned about “Ross Ulbricht” from another office just days before the arrest.

Homeland Security Investigations began making purchases from Silk Road, many of them under an account taken over from an existing site user called “dripsofacid.” (Various law enforcement agencies created their own accounts on Silk Road during its existence, but they also took over others after arresting their owners.)

When HSI made their controlled buys, they had the shipments sent to a name and address they used specifically for undercover purchases. Investigators compared the product received to the listing on Silk Road to confirm its origin. One purchase shown to the jury was 0.2 grams of brown heroin, bought from a seller in the Netherlands. The packaging was professional—the heroin tucked inside several plastic bags, which were themselves contained in a vacuum-sealed pouch, which was invisible behind a bluish sheet of paper.

Ultimately, HSI made 52 undercover buys from more than 40 distinct Silk Road dealers in 10 different countries. The drugs were all tested, and all but one purchase resulted in genuine goods. Silk Road, whatever one thought of it, worked as a market.

On the darknet, drugs are still available. But nowhere near the Silk Road has been seen, before or since. “Silk Road 2.0,” launched within a few months of Ulbricht’s arrest, lasted less than a year until its alleged creator, 25-year-old Blake Benthall, was arrested in San Francisco.

The most popular Silk Road successor, a darknet site called Evolution, shut down without warning in March—when its founders apparently emptied out the $12 million in its escrow system and ran. This sort of “exit scam” was the type of large-scale theft that users of such markets always knew was possible.

Any sense that the darknet could be a safe haven has now been shattered but Silk Road began years earlier, when the dream of creating a cryptographically protected libertarian utopia right in the midst of conventional society still seemed a reasonable proposition. But it was never likely to succeed for long—a fact that Ulbricht has now learned the hard way.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of DailyDot

Google’s Solar Plane Crashes After Takeoff

Over the last few months, we have heard about Google’s and Facebook’s plans to bring free internet to everyone in the world; focusing on the parts of the world currently without internet access. Plans jumped from weather balloons to satellites to planes and much more. Google decided to stick with a solar plane.

In theory, this was a good idea; a huge 50m wing span completely covered in solar panels to absorb as much energy as possible, in a light weight chassis and electric motor.

https://youtu.be/Q7Z_-nfVUS4

During initial testing in Albuquerque, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff. This happened on May 1st on a private airfield and luckily no injuries were reported; well apart from the plane. The drone was a project idea of Google which became a reality after the acquisition of Titan Aerospace. It has not been made clear if the plane is salvageable or if the technology will be used to build ‘Solar Plane 2.0’.

“Although our prototype plane went down during a recent test, we remain optimistic about the potential of solar-powered planes to help deliver connectivity,” Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, told Bloomberg. “Part of building a new technology is overcoming hurdles along the way.”

It is still early days for the project, maybe it would be better to be dropped off the bottom of a larger plane instead of self-propelling for take off.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Google Play Services 7.5 Brings Smart Lock and Goodness To Android

At Google I/O 2015, with the launch of Android M, Google also announced the rollout of the new Google Play services version 7.5 which brings a truckload of new features and optimizations to all the Android devices running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and above. The features, reportedly, includes Smart Lock for Passwords, Instance ID, new APIs for Google Cloud Messaging and Google Cast, as well as access to the Google Maps API on Android Wear devices.

The most significant one seems to be the Smart Lock for Passwords which simplifies the task of signing in an app. Developers can now utilize this feature by using a new Credentials API to allow user passwords to be attached to user Google accounts. It is basically Google’s password manager and all the stored password on Chrome can be found at passwords.google.com.

This announcement also brings ‘App Invites Beta’ which will work on both the platforms, Android, and iOS. This will add the functionality to increase the reach of the app by inviting specific contacts to try the app out and will enable to share the selected content.

This development is going to change a user starts its experience with Android. These touch to details will make the experience great.

Thank you Android Developer Blog for providing us with this information.

The Los Santos Police Department First Response Mod for GTA V Receives a New Trailer

I love GTA V, but even I have to admit that its main protagonists are not exactly the most respectable citizens in Los Santos. Come to think of it, pretty much all Grand Theft Auto games forced me to play from the perspective of criminals, and while I don’t see anything wrong with that, it would be nice to see the game through the eyes of the good guys every once in a while. Apparently, a team of modders had the same idea when they designed the LSPDFR (Los Santos Police Department First Response) mod for Grand Theft Auto V.

As its name suggests, the mod allows the player to enforce the law in Los Santos, and it aims to deliver the most comprehensive police experience yet for any GTA title. It will include characters and vehicles affiliated with the LSPD, LSSD, SAHP and FIB, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Until then, the team released a second trailer for the mod, which shows off some of its most important gameplay features. You can check out the trailer below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p6dApsLZko

What is your favorite Grand Theft Auto V mod so far?

Thank you Dsogaming for providing us with this information.

US Military Catches up With the UK with Drones

Drones! These really expensive remote controlled annoyances are huge. If you don’t own one, you will have probably seen one or at least heard of them. This story comes to us from the US military; they have adopted a new drone to use in the strive for ultra covert operations where stealth is key.

Gone are the days of using a remote controlled car, now drones have taken a key place. Not only are they incredibly maneuverable, but they can also be very small. When we think of drones, quadcopters immediately come to mind; while this is the standard for consumer use, drones can pretty much be any shape or size as long as they don’t require a human occupant.

The drone in question is the Black Hornet Nano, or PD-100 UAV if you want to get technical. This miniature drone resembles one of those cheap $15 helicopters you can buy from a market that crashes after about 15 seconds. The key difference between the Nano and the cheap version is about $39,985, yes this costs around $40,000; so it better fly well. It measures in as just 4×1 inches and weighs just 0.04lbs; in with that you also get regular AND thermal cameras, perfect for a night flight.

“According to Defense One, the US Army has “a handful” of these drones in its possession, which it began testing back in March. That said, the tiny, $40,000 Black Hornet Nano has been part of the British military’s arsenal since 2013, so the US is a slightly behind on adopting the device.”

This reminds me of that little surveillance transformer from Transformers 2, where Shia crushes it in his fingers. What are your thoughts on drones getting smaller like this? Good or bad? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you engadget for providing us with this information.

 

Ian Bell Clarifies Statement Regarding Project CARS’ DX12 Performance Improvements

Not too long ago, the head of Slightly Mad studios, Ian Bell, stated that DirectX 12 would enable a 30 to 40% boost in performance in Project CARS. However, he made the statement on a Xbox One thread, which is why gamers assumed that he was talking about a performance increase on the game’s console version. Well, it looks like Ian was actually talking about the PC version of Project CARS, and he clarified the whole thing by adding that the Xbox One version will only see a performance gain of about 7%. Even though it’s still a long way from 30%, this is still a notable improvement, and the good news is that it will be enabled by the next patch.

Ian also stated that Slightly Mad Studios will soon address the hardest hit areas on various circuits. Just in case you’re not aware, some circuits in the game suffer from a considerable hit in performance for reasons yet unknown. As far as the DX12 patch is concerned, it looks like slower quad-core CPUs will benefit the most from it, which means that those with slower configurations will finally be able to play the game decently.

The patch will probably come out sometime this year, but we’ll just have to wait for an official statement.

Thank you Dsogaming for providing us with this information.

Graphics Card Buying Guide Spring 2015

Introduction


Graphic outputs are the most important output of the computer no matter what someone tells you about how an Intel i7-5960x is the best CPU there is, you still require a graphical output to see the magic. When purchasing your computers, it is most likely that the graphics options are the most scrutinised part of all the components; however, choosing the right graphics card for you can be daunting with so many to choose from. Graphics cards come from two major manufacturers, AMD and NVIDIA; both are extremely good at what they do and can offer the consumer amazing graphical performance. From there, each manufacturer then has vendors; some cover both parties such as Gigabyte, others only cover one such as Sapphire for AMD and Zotac for NVIDIA. When considering graphics cards to choose from, you have to consider the following hardware factors:

  • System case size
    • It’s all well and good buying a Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 because you have the money, but when you find it won’t fit in your Shuttle PC case; jokes on you for not measuring
  • Processor
    • This factor only really comes into play when considering high power graphics cards and pairing with older generations of processors. The likes of an AMD Phenom X3 710 won’t give you the full benefit of an AMD R9 295×2 graphics card like an Intel i7 processor could.
  • Screen sizes, quantity and resolutions
    • You tend to find a lot of people will buy the highest powered graphics card and pair it with a standard 23″ 1080p monitor. That’s OK for achieving constantly high FPS, but pointless considering the cards power. The same goes for users who buy a low-powered graphics card and wonders why they can’t play Crisis on 3 screens.
  • Power Supply
    • This is where things get confusing for a lot of people. Imagine you just went into a local computer shop and bought a 600w power supply for £15, 9/10 times that 600w is only a burst value; meaning it cannot sustain 600w for more than a few seconds. This is one area of your computer that you should never do on the budget end, a general rule of thumb is £10 per 100w, but with components becoming cheaper; prices are falling.

OverclockersUK is one of the largest specialised computer component resellers in the UK, they are highly regarded in the computer enthusiast world and can offer some of the best deals in the UK, EU and sometimes the world. This buying guide will use the pricing and product range displayed on the OCUK website without offers and shipping. For the purpose of this buying guide, I will be concentrating on the consumer-grade discrete desktop single graphics cards; the offerings from integrated processor graphics will not be covered in great detail.

So let us do all of the legwork for you and show you what is best to buy at what budget.

This guide is updated quarterly/immediately after major releases. Last updated: 06/05/2015

ASRock Z170 Motherboards Pictured Ahead of Launch

Ahead of next week’s Computex in Taiwan, ASRock has released pictures of their latest motherboard. Based around Intel’s next-generation 100 series chipset for Skylake, the Z170 will be the top platform for the mainstream segment. The pictures show the Z170 Gaming K6 and the Z170 Extreme 7 in their full glory along with Intel’s LGA 1151.

For the Gaming K6, it’s quite obviously targeted towards gamers with the red and black aesthetic most OEMs are using with their gaming products. Branding remains the same with the Fatal1ty line with the name etched on the board but not in the model. M.2 slot resides pretty much where we have come to expect as well as the now prevalent SATA Express along with the SATA 3 ports. As expected DDR4 is used for the 4 DIMM slots.

The Extreme 7, targetting a more enthusiast audience comes with the industry standard black and gold theme. In line with it’s with enthusiast status, the Extreme 7 comes with not 1 but 3 M.2 slots. Being based on Z170, not all of the M.2 and PCIE slots can be used at the same time. Another differentiator also appears to be two removable BIOS chips, great for eliminating risk when messing with the firmware.

Both boards tout key features offered by Z170, mainly the 20 PCIE 3.0 lanes which is particularly useful for the Extreme 7 with it’s 4 x16 slots. Both boards are expected to feature Realtek ALC 1150 onboard audio, branded Purity Sound 3 with prominent EMI shielding. As high-end boards, both also offer onboard buttons and BIOS code readouts. The large number of USB 3 ports are also prominent with Z170, coming standard with the chipset. With Biostar having also teased their Z170 board, Skylake is sure to be right around the corner.

Oculus Rift Price Bomb Dropped by CEO

The most anticipated gaming hardware of possibly the decade has been flaunted in front of consumers since early development. What hasn’t been so widely shared is the price; which is seemly odd considering how close the release is.

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe dropped the biggest hint, stating that a Rift headset and a computer powerful enough to drive it would cost in the region of $1,500 (£1,000). “We are looking at an ‘all-in’ price, if you have to go out and actually need to buy a new computer and you’re going to buy the Rift … at most you should be in that $1,500 range,” Iribe stated at the Re/code conference.

We know what the specifications are, so what about prices. If we use OverclockersUK for current prices and work out the remaining cost for the headset.

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

A quick price tot up, using the cheapest non-stated products such as the motherboard, comes in at around $900 (£600). This leaves a pretty healthy $600 (£400) for the rift itself. This may come as a shock considering the most recent price estimate in September 2014 was between $200 to $400; does this new price include possible inflation or possibly the hiring out to an external company for product? I guess we will find out in a few months.

I can’t wait for the Oculus Rift now, I recently tried the newest Crescent Bay unit and I was very impressed. What are your thoughts on the pricing? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

QNAP’s Compact TS-453 Mini NAS Now Available

It’s only been about a month since QNAP introduced us to their new top loading 4-bay mini NAS. Now it has been officially released, has arrived at stores, and can be yours.

The system is built around a quad-core processor and offers a lot of storage options at a tiny footprint. The vertical design allows it to take less space and fit into smaller areas, making it perfect for non-spacious office environments, dorm rooms, and similar.

It is available in two models, one with 2GB and one with 8GB memory pre-installed. Upgrading memory is a piece of cake on this unit as it’s conveniently accessible from the bottom. No need to take the entire unit apart anymore.

Despite the smaller size and the mini name, the TS-453mini offers all the things you want and expect from a QNAP devices. You get dual LAN, USB 3.0 connectivity, and direct HDMI out.

QNAPs QPvC technology allows you to use the NAS as virtualization station and install other operating systems such as Linux, windows, or android directly on the NAS. Connect a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and pack away that old HTPC. Direct media playback and other HTPC functions are equally supported just as remote controls are.

You still get 24TB raw capacity with the four drive bays at your disposal and the 6TB hard disks that more or less has become the norm these days.

The Intel Celeron 2GHz processor is able to deliver up to 220MB/s transfer throughput and can be expanded all the way up to 96TB by the use of the UX-800P expansion enclosure and 8TB hard drives – because they are equally supported.

Business users don’t miss out either as it supports VMware, Microsoft and Citrix virtualization solutions, cross-platform sharing, Windows AD, LDAP and ACL, Rsync, RTRR, and cloud backups.

TS-453mini Key specifications

  • vertical design, 4-bay
  • Intel Celeron 2.0GHz quad-core processor (burst up to 2.41GHz)
  • 8GB/2GB DDR3L RAM (max. 8GB)
  • 3.5”/2.5” SATA HDD/SSD support, hot-swappable
  • 3 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x Gigabit LAN ports
  • 1 x HDMI v1.4a output
  • IR sensor

The 2GB RAM model currently costs £481.00 on Amazon UK while the 8GB RAM model will set you back £601.89. We are currently in the process of reviewing just this unit and I can already reveal that it’s an awesome unit.

Cooler Master Hyper 612 VER.2 CPU Cooler Review

Introduction


Cooler Master are one of the biggest names in the business, they’ve been making system components for many years now and they’ve got endless experience to draw on. It’s no secret that Cooler Master have created some of the best budget coolers in the business and are still a popular base-line for many system builders. Their latest cooler, the Hyper 612 isn’t likely to win awards for greatest cooler in the world, but it does offer the possibility to run both passively and actively, with multiple fan configurations and it does it for a very reasonable price, so there’s certainly a lot to consider here.

  • Hyper 612 ver. 2 generates only max 20 dB to provide a good operating environment.
  • Without fans, the big fin area will give you dissipation for passive usage.
  • Adopts the innovative patented CDC (Continuous Direct Contact) technology – side-by-side heat pipe configurations with no gaps creating a smooth surface for heat conduction.
  • Folding fin design with good air guiding ensuring high efficiency heat dissipation.
  • Quick-snap fan bracket design for simple installation.

The packaging is pretty straight forward, although it’s nice to see that it supports both 2011 and FM2+ sockets, as well as all the usual popular options.

In the box you’ll find two plastic quick-mount clips, an installation guide and a component box.

In the component box, there’s all the screws and brackets needed for all supported sockets, two metal fan clips and a universal plastic backplate. What is nice to see, is that the thermal grease comes in a syringe, so it’s good for more than one application.

The included fan is of a good quality, with shaped blades to help better direct airflow.

What’s also nice to see is a fully sleeved cable, often we see the coloured cables just before the cable reaches the fan motor, but that’s not an issue here.

The fan comes fitted with a 4-pin PWM connector.

The 612 features a six heat-pipe design, which are “U” shaped to pass through the left and right side of the cooling tower.

The top plate has been stamped with the Cooler Master logo, nothing fancy, but it adds a little to the overall design. X-vents are place around the heat pipe on each fin, which will help guide airflow and create vortices for better cooling.

There’s a sizeable fin stack here, which will come in handy, since this cooler can be run passively on CPUs of up to

The cooler is nothing fancy in terms of design, but it’s not exactly ugly either. I think it’s safe to say it walks a fine line between practicality and style.

A protective sticker covers the heat-pipes; don’t forget to remove this before usage!

The six heat-pipes us a CDC (Continuous Direct Contact) desig; no gaps mean a nice big and smooth surface for conducting heat.