Facebook Messenger Introduces Dropbox and Video Chat Heads

Facebook Messenger is a system built to help communicate through the popular social network, but the latest features look to bring it closer to email with Facebook Messenger introducing dropbox features and even adding a chat head imagine to your video calls.

The dropbox features allow you to add in dropbox files just like you would add an emoji, the end result being the ability to go through files and directories on your dropbox system and send them just like you would any other file. Any photos or videos sent linked through the messenger will appear as if  you had sent them normally while other files will either be sent to download via the Dropbox app or as a hyperlink to download the file through the web.

Ever had a video call on Facebook messenger? Your entire screen filled with someone’s face, stopping you from contacting or responding to other messages. The new chat head feature will display your callers video in a little circle that you can place and drag around your screen, letting you get on with your browsing while you chat away. The feature could even support video chat amongst different applications and with both features set for release within the next few days, just watch out for the latest download.

Energy-Friendly Chip Could Boost Neural Networks

The quest to gain a greater insight into artificial Intelligence has been exciting and has also opened up a range of possibilities that have included “convolutional neural networks”, these are large visual networks of simple information-processing units which are loosely modelled on the anatomy of the human brain.

These networks are typically implemented using the more familiar graphics processing units (GPUs). A mobile GPU might have as many as 200 cores or processing units, this means that it is suited to “simulating a network of distributed processors”. Now, a further development in this area could lead to the potential for a specifically designed chip that has a sole purpose of implementing a neural network.

MIT researchers have presented the aforementioned chip at the “International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco”. The advantages of this chip include the notion that it is 10 times more efficient than an average mobile GPU, this could lead, in theory, to mobile devices being able to run powerful artificial intelligence algorithms locally, rather than relying on the cloud to process data.

The new chip, coined “Eyeriss” could, lead to the expansion of capabilities that includes the Internet of things, or put simply, where everything from a car to a cow, (yes apparently) would have sensors that are able to submit real-time data to networked servers. This would then open up horizons for artificial intelligence algorithms to make those important decisions.

Before I sign off I wanted to further delve into the workings of a neural network, the workings are that it is typically organised into layers, each of these layers contains a processing node. Data is then divided up among these nodes within the bottom layer, each node then manipulates the data it receives before passing it on to nodes within the next layer. This process is then repeated until “the output of the final layer yields the solution to a computational problem.” It is certainly fascinating and opens up a world of interesting avenues with which to explore, when you combine science and tech, the outcome is at the very least educational with the potential for it to be life changing.         .

Make the World a Little Bit Smaller With a Conference Call

New Zealanders might be at the “bottom” of the world, but with today’s technology, there is no longer reason to feel isolated. The Internet has given us the ability to communicate in so many more ways that even the bottom of the world can be connected. Conference calls allow for reliable, effective communication no matter where in the world you might be.

Conference Calls Bring Us Closer

Conference calls make it easy to conduct business over the telephone or the Internet. Now, Internet calling offers the best quality, and that is important, especially when there is a great distance between the people participating in the call. Internet conference calling, according to BioSci Consulting, allows individuals to work together to come up with innovative ideas to solve existing problems, and  many, providers, such as Blue Jeans, offer conference call solutions for New Zealand businesses.

Participants in conference calls all have a role to play. Some are more outspoken, some are inquisitive, and others prefer to sit back and let others do the talking. The most important part of any conference call is to encourage everyone to make a contribution. If everyone contributes, the call is time well-spent, and everyone leaves with a sense of accomplishment.

A feeling of camaraderie on a call is especially important when the participants are not close together. In today’s global economy, we no longer want to be in the same room as our business partners because we want to expand our reach as far as possible. Conference calls allow us to work with our colleagues as if they were sitting right next to us, when in reality, they might be on the other side of the world. Moreover, regular voice communication allows us to get to know each other better. Hearing the tone of someone’s voice allows us to have more insight into their personality, so when we engage in non-verbal communication, we are more familiar with the people we work with.

Embrace the Medium

Former Wharton School of Business professor Butch Ward is an old hand at conference calling, and agrees that knowing the participants on a call is crucial to the success of doing business over the phone or Internet. He realizes that meeting in person isn’t always possible, but the better you interact, the more likely you are to accomplish the goals you want to achieve.

Set Your Agenda

It is important to have an agenda in place beforehand. E-mailing the participants to alert them to what will be discussed will give them the opportunity to prepare, and make significant contributions. Having a set agenda will allow those who aren’t as outspoken the opportunity to speak up, If they know what is going to be discussed. The worst possible outcome of a conference call is descending into a free-for-all, where participants all begin talking over each other, and there is no flow to the conversation.

Choose a Leader

One person should lead the conference call. Pick someone who is assertive enough to keep everyone in line, and outspoken enough to shut down anyone who tries to dominate the exchange. A leader should ensure that everyone remains cordial and respectful.

Moreover, the leader should make it clear that controversial topics and personal opinions could be counterproductive. The goal of a successful conference call is to address the issues at hand and find effective solutions. It is especially important for the leader to accomplish as much as possible when there might be a significant time change involved. If businesses in New Zealand are doing business in North America or Europe, the time difference might be as much as 18 hours.

Conference Calls Can Keep Your Business on Budget

While many of today’s businesses strive to compete in the global economy, those keeping an eye on expenses need to make sure the cost of doing business doesn’t eat into profits.

Conference calls help significantly curtail expenses because they cut down on travel. Video conference calls make it possible to meet prospective business partners from other parts of the world, while feeling like everyone is in the same room. This mode of communication can be just as effective as meeting in person, but it avoids the need for expensive air travel, especially from the South Pacific, where travel is not only costly, it is also time-consuming.

Forbes, in its Career Bootcamp series, reminds us that many business practices changed after the 2008 financial crisis, and stresses that we still need to be mindful of frivolous expenses. Hosting a successful conference call can certainly pinch-hit for expensive business trips if we stick to our agendas and make sure we communicate effectively with our partners. The world is still vast, but conference call makes us feel closer than ever.

Volvo to Accept Blame in Event of an Accident

Well in the case of the autonomous cars anyway. Up until now, the only company to come forward with a fully working prototype is Google and the accidents that occurred were never blamed on the company, rather the external parameters such as traffic and pedestrians. It has now come to light that Swedish-based company Volvo will “accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode” and is the route cause of an accident.

This announcement follows the steps taken by Volvo to protect the main software that controls the car by passing it through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This Act prevents occurrences such as vehicular hacking being blamed on the company itself and treated as a criminal offense.

If we remember back a few months, vehicle hacking way a hot news subject with a small team taking it upon themselves to hack multiple cars, including a brand new Jeep.

In the US specifically, the government has allowed monitoring and regulating of autonomous vehicles to be controlled by the individual states, but Volvo is now calling out for a country wide regulation format and this will be discussed further tomorrow at a seminar for self-driving cars.

I can see Volvo is taking a massive step forward by trusting the car’s software and hardware this much and removing the blame from the driver almost entirely. Let’s hope that this allows lawmakers and legal systems to become more lenient with autonomous vehicles operating in each state and each country of the world.

Thank you to Mashable for providing us with this information.

Conference Cancelled After Pressure From IP Camera Makers

Security is a tricky subject. In recent years both digital and physical security has been scrutinised and exposed for some rather crucial weaknesses. Back in May it was claimed that a security researcher was able to remotely issue commands to a plane’s engines, more recently it was revealed that some car companies had silenced an investigation that had found a vulnerability in the way their key fobs communicated with their immobilizer system. Now it’s the turn of internet-enabled cameras to come under fire.

Gianna Gnesa is a security consultant with Ptrace Security, a company based in Switzerland. He was set to speak at the Hack in the Box GSEC Conference that was to be hosted in Singapore. He has since decided to cancel his presentation.

The presentation was set to reveal the breaches in security systems that utilize internet connected video games (IP cameras). Gnesa has since cancelled his presentation after “legal pressure from manufacturers affected”.  In the talk, Gnesa was set to “expose vulnerabilities found on major surveillance cameras and show how an attacker could use them to stay undetected”.

Traditionally security consultants work on a “responsible disclosure” policy, in which they only release date about defects or issues with security once the manufacturers or developers have had time to develop and release patches to fix these issues.

Thank you PC World and GSEC for the information.

Image courtesy of PC World.

Your Smart Home Appliances Are Not as Safe as You Think

Are you a proud owner of smart lock? How about motion sensors, temperature sensors, bulbs or other Internet of Things gadgets? Well, if they’re made by ZigBee, chances are your house is vulnerable to hacking, according to a paper revealed at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

ZigBee, a company that specializes in IoT smart appliances that supplies big name companies such as Samsung, Philips, Motorola and Texas Instruments, is said to have implemented just enough security measures to pass the requirements to ship, which means that security measures are almost non-existent. Hackers are said to easily be able to sniff out exchange network keys, gaining access to the entire network and all smart appliances.

The security experts say that the main cause for the lack of security is due to the companies, who want to quickly ship out the latest tech, make it communicate and interact with everything, all while keeping prices down to a minimum. As a consumer, I get the bit to keep prices down, but if I have to pay a bit extra to prevent someone opening my door or fiddling with my lights, I think that would be an option all of us may opt for. In the end, security is more important than cheap product, don’t you think?

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Architect’s Toy Box

AMD Fury X Gets Benchmarked on Far Cry 4

Details about AMD’s latest Fury X graphics card have been focused on the hardware and specs. We did know the card came with AMD’s HBM technology and a lot of computing power. If you’ve missed the spec details, you can view them again here. So how well can it handle the latest games? Well, AMD seems to have ut it to the test.

The Fury X was recently benchmarked on Ubisoft’s latest Far Cry title, Far Cry 4, at the Beijing conference. The company showed that Fury X is able to handle 4K resolution while rendering Far Cry 4 in Ultra Settings at an average rate of 54FPS. The minimum was indeed 43FPS, but we are talking about 4K here and I’m sure nothing that is within an acceptable price range can handle that at the latter FPS.

Also, compared to other cards benchmarked on Far Cry 4, the Fury X seems to be at the top line. I mean it looks to have even taken on NVIDIA’s GTX Titan X as shown below. The only competition it has, according to the benchmarks, is the R9 295X2. However, you can’t really compare a dual-GPU card or an SLI configuration’s statistic with just a single card’s output.

What we need to know now is what price tag coming with this beast. We don’t want to speculate on a price right now, but since it’s AMD, we can’t be looking at something greater than what NVIDIA is asking for their own cards. Or will we?

Images courtesy of LinusTechTips

Microsoft’s Surface Hub Aimed at Enhancing Your Workplace Productivity

Microsoft has always been dedicated towards business solutions and it now shows us that once again with its big brand new Surface Hub touch screen. The company aims to make your workplace more productive and interactive in a world where more and more business meetings take place on overseas conference calls.

Microsoft’s Brian Eskridge said that they are focusing on making content and video sharing faster and easily accessible to people to “get things done”. Of course, you already have similar options already available out there, but none could compare with a big touch surface.

If you ask why you need an oversized touch screen display in your conference room instead of just having a normal Skype meeting on a laptop, here’s the answer. Microsoft’s Surface Hub comes equipped with a high-definition display, touch controls, built-in cameras and microphones, Microsoft’s own business productivity software and even Kinect features built into the cameras.

Aside from the above, the Hub provides support for other business software tools such as Google Hangouts, but more business solution software is bound to be made available for it once it gets released. So you have a big screen full of potential in your office and it isn’t restricted to Microsoft’s deals. Isn’t that pleasing?

The Surface Hub will hit the market this July, but Microsoft already placed it in some companies to get beta testing feedback. The standard Microsoft Surface Hub is said to boast a 55-inch touch display and be priced at $7,000, while the bigger 85-inch model comes with a $20,000 price tag.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of notebook online

ASRock VIP Event @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – On the second day of Computex, we were invited to attend a VIP conference to gain more detailed information on the booth showcased on the main floor.

Once we arrived, it was a typical affair, projector and screen with a few rows of chairs and a tantalising layout of product to our right. We were allowed to grab a few pictures before taking a seat, which primarily featured the new 100 series motherboards, ASRocks new Beebox NUC and a random TV/ monitor; which will be used in a demonstration later. Along with all of these, ASRock has a large standing banner suggesting that they have a new brand; ASRock Gaming. This will now categorise some of the motherboards under this new brand; much like previous Fatal1ty motherboards within the ‘Killer’ or ‘Professional’ branding.

The motherboard line-up featured some old classics from the Fatal1ty and Extreme Range with the new chipset and features such as USB 3.1 and USB type-C. Although they are not displayed here, ASRock also offers other 100 series motherboards based on the B150 and H170 chipsets. With the new 100 series, only the Z170’s will feature DDR4 compatibility while the rest will remain with DDR3.

  

      

We look forward to the release of the 100 series motherboards and supported processors and we aim to review them as soon as possible after launch. We will keep you updated with any news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.

What Will Facebook Unveil at the F8 Developer Conference?

It’s that time of the year when Facebook will be going through their strategies and upcoming plans and with a lot more in their product portfolio than before, this should be the most interesting F8 conference yet.

We’re predicting some updates to Facebook’s standalone and Messenger apps on mobile as well as some strong pushes with their VR acquired company; Oculus.

For now, this is all speculation and rumour but we’re be bringing you the latest updates as it happens and if you want to check it out yourself, you can tune in for the 2-day event here.

Valve Starts Teasing People with New Half-Life 3 Rumor

Valve has been ridiculously trolling people with various hints of a new equal to its Half-Life title, either through memes or other forms of hilarious trolls. In its latest attempt, the signs might be more obvious than ever before.

RagnarRox has recently added a Facebook post stating that Valve has scheduled a public press-conference on the 3rd of March, at 3pm. Let us stop and think for a second on that. March, which is the 3rd month of the year, the 3rd day of the month and at 3pm. Is it a coincidence?

We can even go deeper into the “conspiracy” here and take into account the place of the conference, which is San Francisco. The word “San” can also be interpreted as “three” in Japanese, further adding to the craze of the 3’s. Could it be that this is the real deal?

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

Twitch Fan Convention to Take Place in San Francisco

 

Twitch, the popular game streaming service, is to have its very first fan convention in San Francisco. TwitchCon will take place across two days on September 25th and 26th where viewers, Twitch broadcasters and developers can all sit and watch each other play in person instead of online.

Well, it’s supposed to involve a bit more than that, but at the moment details are extremely limited. The website for the event only gives a date – there’s not even ticket prices yet available. We do know however, that it will take place at Moscone West, the same place Apple and Google holds their annual developer conferences, WWDC and Google I/O. That should mean plenty of exhibit space and many opportunities for presentations.

Twitch has a massive following online, with millions flocking to the site to watch people play games. It’s success lead to a $970 million acquisition by Amazon back in September 2014.

We’ll bring you more details as they’re revealed.

Source: The Verge

New Techniques Show iPhone Data Extraction

Previously unpublicized techniques show how personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through trusted devices.

Researcher Jonathan Zdiarski showed in a presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference this week, how the services take a surprising amount of data for what Apple says are “diagnostic services meant to help engineers”.

The users are not notified that the services are running and can not disable them. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block any future connections.

The same techniques to circumvent the backup encryption could however also be used by law enforcement or others with access to the “trusted” computers to which the devices have been connected.

In a video demonstration where Zdiarski showed what he could extract from an unlocked phone and a trusted computer, he also told us that the only way to un-pair your iPhone is to wipe it. The NSA collaboration rumors started right away, but Apple denied creating any “back doors” for intelligence agencies.

”We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data.”

Zdziarski said he did not believe that the services were aimed at spy agencies, but that they do extract way more information than needed, with little to no disclosure.

Security industry analyst Rich Mogull said Zdziarski’s work was overhyped but technically accurate. ”They are collecting more than they should be, and the only way to get it is to compromise security.”

Mogull also agreed with Zdziarski that since the tools exist, law enforcement will use them in cases where the desktop computers of targeted individuals can be confiscated, hacked or reached via their employers.

For all the attention to the previously unknown tools and other occasional bugs, Apple’s phones are widely considered more secure than those using Google Inc’s rival Android operating system, in part because Google does not have the power to send software fixes directly to those devices.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Apple.

Edward Snowden Plans on Working with Russia to Develop Anti-Spy Technology

Following his calling to hackers all over the world and instigating them to work on anti-spyware technology, ex-NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, has now stated that he will be working with Russia in order to develop anti-surveillance technology aimed at divulging government spy operations around the world. He is stated to have asked support in his ‘quest’ at the Moscow Hackers on Planet Earth conference.

“We the people — you the people, you in this room right now — have both the means and the capability to improve the future by encoding our rights into programs and protocols by which we rely every day,” he said. “And that’s what a lot of my future work is going to be involved in, and I hope you’ll join me in making that a reality.”

Following his statement in Moscow, ZDNet has apparently reported that he also made another telelink remark to the New York City attendees, while also taking some time to defend his activities involving leaked government information.

“If we’re going to have a democracy and an enlightened citizenry, if we’re going to provide the consent of the governed, we have to know what is gong on, we have to know the broad outlines of a policy, and we can’t have the government shut us out from every action that they’re doing”

Thank you Washington Times for providing us with this information

Security Firm Offering up $10,000 If You Can Hack A Tesla

Think you’ve got what it takes to break the security on the Tesla Model S? Then why not give it a go, because if you can do it, there is a $10,000 prize up for grabs next week. Anyone who registers for SyScan conference in Beijing from 16-17th of July can enter the competition and the event organizers will have the Tesla Model S and computers on site to get the ball rolling.

The security experts who are running the competition are obviously hoping that no one can hack it, but even if they do it’ll only help them tighten up the cars security even further. They want to see if anyone can control features of the car remotely, take over the in-dash browser and more.

Tesla have a full vulnerability disclosure program on their cars, meaning they’ll report any flaw with their cars in a bid to improve awareness and safety for their owners. Tesla aren’t even involved in the hacking project, but they are hoping that anyone who hacks the vehicle will pass on their findings to their developers.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information.

 

Sony Demoes Batman: Arkham Knight on PC

Rocksteady appears to have confirmed that the Batman: Arkham Knight demo was run on a PC. This is quite interesting, since everyone would have expected it to be demoed on a console, such as Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

However, the “This is a PC build.” sign apparently answered everyone’s questions about the platform on which it was running on. This is quite some good news for the PC gamers out there, since it would appear that the demo did not suffer from former Batman-related issues gamers have faced, such as stuttering side-effect.

Also, the Unreal Engine 3 version seems to have done the trick in terms of performance and graphical appeal. Since the demo was on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users should see similar if not the same type of graphics and feel for the game as well, given that the next-fen consoles are fairly similar to PC as announced some time ago.

Batman: Arkham Knight is said to be released worldwide on both Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC next year. Until then, fans can watch the demo presented in the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xrYb5oOC-U[/youtube]

Thank you DSOGaming for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of DSOGaming

Microsoft’s “Treshold” Rumored To Be Expected In April 2015 At BUILD

Microsoft is reportedly trying to forget its failure that came with Windows 8.1 behind it by calling the OS Windows 9, and although it hasn’t entered the development phase, the company has already started planning ahead.

Microsoft will hold its annual BUILD conference in April 2014 and it’s rumored that the company’s long-term vision will be presented at the show. This will include the first look at what Microsoft has planned for Windows 9, alongside more information on Windows Phone and Xbox.

Addressing the criticisms surrounding Windows 8 will be a major focus of Windows 9, and the OS is expected to bring the “Metro 2.0”, a major update to the design language used from Windows 8 onwards set to fix issues. This update may introduce a feature that allows Metro-style applications to be run on the desktop as floating windows and not just full-screen apps.

The Start menu may also return in Windows 9 “Threshold”, or even earlier in a second “Update 2” for Windows 8.1. “Threshold” updates should also come to Windows Phone and Xbox, but it won’t necessarily bring the eventual merge of Windows RT and Windows Phone.

Microsoft is now busy working on the first update for Windows 8.1, which is essentially a free service pack that will likely debut in April 2014 alongside Windows Phone 8.1. The development of both OSes is nearing completion, so it shouldn’t be too long before we’ll get our hands on updates for Microsoft’s main platforms.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

Sony Confirm New Press Conference At Gamescom 2013

While we’ve seen plenty of the PlayStation 4 at E3 and other major gaming events, we can’t help but get excited at what else Sony could have to offer and they’ve promised more surprises at this year Gamescom, which eTeknix are going to have the pleasure of attending to get a first hand look at the next-gen console.

Sony will be at Gamescom 2013 in force, hosting yet another conference on Tuesday prior to the show (August 20th) at the Saatenaus am Rheinpark in Cologne.

The conference starts off at 7pm local time (6pm here in the UK) and doors open at 6pm local time so if you’re at the event and able to make it, you know where to be and when to get there and if you’re a PlayStation fan, you won’t want to miss it.

While many people will be wanting more details on the PlayStation 4 it’s already clear that Sony have been very open about hardware and I bet they still won’t reveal their release date, not yet, that will be a last-minute thing for both Microsoft and Sony as they don’t want the other getting their hardware out first, obviously. One thing we do know however is that Sony have often used Gamescom for announcing price cuts and we could see some new deals on the PS3 and Vita to warm us up for the next few months.

Now all we need is for Microsoft to show their hand as rumour says that they will be holding a conference of their own at this years Gamescom.