Amazon Reveals How to Build an Echo Speaker With Raspberry Pi

Amazon wants to push its Alexa voice assistant as far and wide as possible, so much so that one of the company’s employees has released a step-by-step guide to building an Alexa-powered speaker yourself with a Raspberry Pi.

The DIY echo can be made using a cheap USB microphone, speaker and several other easy to obtain parts. The code is shared on the Github platform and was posted by Amit Jotwani, Amazon’s senior evangelist for Alexa. It’s his job to help developers and tinkerers. This in turn generates interest from a technical perspective and all of a sudden – millions of people are tweaking code, modding parts and making some really nice inventions with the Pi and Amazon’s software.

It would take some basic technical knowledge to assemble and make the echo work via the Raspberry Pi. However the guides are very good and it should be fairly easy for the average joe to make. The Echo is now on sale for $180 – it hasn’t been released in the UK as of yet.  There is one downside to running it off the Rasberry Pi, though, you can’t wake it up by saying “Alexa” and to run a voice command you have to press a button.

Nvidia Partially Open Sources GameWorks Library

One of the biggest complaints about GameWorks is the closed source nature of the toolkit. Because of this black box like nature, developers and competitors have had a hard time optimizing games and hardware for it. With the release of GameWorks 3.1 though, Nvidia will be open sourcing parts of GameWorks which will be available on GitHub.

Right now PhysX, PhysX Clothing and PhysX destruction are already available on GitHub. Of the new additions to GameWorks, Volumetric Lighting will be added at GDC while the previously FaceWorks will join it as well. In the near future, HairWorks, WaveWorks and HBAO+ will also join the open source depository.

Even with these open source additions, there still remains parts of GameWorks that will remain closed source. These are VAXO, VXGI, Turf Effects, FlameWorks and PCSS among others. This means that developers are still limited somewhat unless they agree to Nvidia’s EULA and gain some private source access.

The biggest question about GameWorks though is its implementation. Developers have been lazy in optimizing GameWorks and leaving too much at default or maxed out settings. Open sourcing might not help if developers don’t take the time to tweak things. This should help AMD though who have been on of the most vocal critics. The biggest question is how quickly the open source will track new GameWorks releases, especially given how version 3.2 has no mention of GitHub releases on the roadmap.

Create Your Own LCARS System Using A Raspberry Pi

Star Trek has had a lasting impact on everything from science fiction to people’s everyday lives. Everybody who has watched the series has their own generation, and for myself it was the Next Generation. I remember watching the first episode when it aired and gazing at the screens as they pressed buttons without having to type long commands into a keyboard. This was all done thanks to a system known as LCARS and thanks to some clever coder you can now create your LCARS system.

With nothing more than a Raspberry Pi and his wits, Toby Kurien created a home automation system based on the classic science fiction interface. If that wasn’t cool enough, Kurien has also released the code for the interface system on GitHub, meaning you can not only download and tinker to your heart’s content if you prefer something a little different you can change out the assets, giving your system a whole new look.

Created using Python, the software supports touchscreen and means that when combined with the latest Raspberry Pi, you can create your own little LCARS tablet or wall panel to help control your home, car or even just to play games on. How long before someone modifies it to control the starship Enterprise drone we wonder.

Play a Game of Snake on Your Keyboard

I still remember the old Nokia 3310, the indestructible brick. I would steal it off my family and load up the only game worth playing. Snake, the classic tale of food and growth, was all the hit back in the day and even with its evolutions, from being able to travel from one side of the map to the other to including powerups, the classics are sometimes the best. So why not play it on your keyboard?

Created by the Youtuber Mythic Maniac, the colourful version of snake, played using only a Corsair K70 keyboard was created using C# and is publicly available. Available to download from the code repository site Github, it is noted that while it was only tested and used on a Corsair K70 “there’s a high possibility of it working with others as well”.

https://youtu.be/yYet1X18F2E

With everything you need to download, install and play the game I can see many hours fading away as we get used to the new and colourful version of Snake. Be warned, if you are after “good code” you may want to be wary of the warning posted on the GitHub page,

“I never intended to release this at all, so the source might have some silly things lying all over the place.

If you choose to clone this and use for your own purposes, you might want to clean this up a bit.”

So will you be downloading and playing Snake on your keyboard? Who can get the highest score? Tell us yours in the comments below

BioShock Mod Removes FPS Cap – Allows up to 144FPS

Bioshock, one of the most iconic FPS games of all time, is still just as great to play as it was when it was released, or is it? The PC game modding scene never ceases to amaze me and this time, the talented modder “Turtle [CPU Cool]” has released a mod that really brings BioShock into the modern age of PC gaming, again.

The games physics engine has a cap of 30FPS, or it did, as the new mod unlocks those already beautiful physics and kicks them up to 60, 120 and 144FPS targets, and if you think they looked great before, you haven’t seen anything yet!

The mod is available to download from GitHub, and if you’re looking for an excuse to replay this classic, this is the best one we’ve had in a long while. BioshockPhysicsUnlocker.exe is easy enough to install, just copy the file to your games directory, run the program, pick the FPS target you desire and you’re ready to rock.

For those of you with high refresh displays, the 144FPS mode is going to blow your mind. Check out the trailer for Phyiscs Unlocker below and be sure to check out the mod when you get a chance.

We love this mod, but what’s your favorite game mod?

GCHQ Releases Open-source Spy Tool on GitHub

Open source surveillance has changed the ball game somewhat after British Intelligence security service GCHQ has created an account on well-known code repository site, and one of the fairly recent targets of China’s Great Cannon attack tool, GitHub.

What has exactly been created? It’s an open sourced tool by the name of “Gaffer”, which according to Google is a British slang term for boss; anyway, the tool is written in Java and according to the tools official GitHub page, is a framework that simplifies the storage of “large-scale graphs in which the nodes and edges have statistics such as counts, histograms and sketches,” not exactly Spectre, but hey ho.  The tool has been primarily developed as a graph database with the aim of offering the capability to retrieve data on nodes of interest.

Below is a summary of the tool and its key features

  • Allow the creation of graphs with summarised properties within Accumulo with a very minimal amount of coding.
  • Allow flexibility of statistics that describe the entities and edges.
  • Allow easy addition of new types of nodes and edges.
  • Allow quick retrieval of data on nodes of interest.
  • Deal with data of different security levels – all data has a visibility, and this is used to restrict who can see data based on their authorizations.
  • Support automatic age-off of data.

Gaffer is being distributed under the Apache 2.0 licence which allows you and me to modify and distribute the code in any way, as long as the original copyright notice and disclaimer are preserved.

For those who are excited about updates to this tool, anyone? The official GitHub page for this tool also announces that Gaffer 2 is in development and aims to “create a more general framework that offers the best of Gaffer with improvements”

It will be rather worthwhile to follow this tool through various developments and applications to see how it’s being utilized in the wider world; it would not surprise me if it’s in the news very soon.

Image courtesy of theregister

3D-Print Your Own TSA Master Keys

In a not too distant future your average person will be able to print their own door keys thanks to the technique of 3D printing. Which is great news for those who have lost there’s, not so good if some bright spark has created and uploaded the plans so that you can print your very own TSA Master Keys.

These keys were designed by the Transportation Security Administration following the 9/11 attacks to ensure the safety of travellers into and around the US by requiring any lock on bags to be branded as “travel sentry approved”. This is to enable airport security staff to carry out searches without having to break the lock or bag. These keys are meant to be kept secret; this was up until an article by The Washington Post which was uploaded in 2014 and conveyed a photograph of seven master keys. The respected news source finally took the pictures down in August 2015, but not before a security researcher by the username “Xyl2k” managed to both create and post 3D printing files of all seven master keys to code site Github.

Do they work? Yep, others have test printed them and it turns out you really can open other people’s luggage, sorry, I meant your own. below is a video which has been uploaded to Twitter concerning this.  This might be going off topic, but the source for this story is The Guardian, who decided to place an image to illustrate the story, what did they go for? see for yourself, the link is at the end of the article, let’s just say it looks to be potentially painful to a poor flyer.

“Xyl2k” has stated that the reason the plans were uploaded was to warn against the security flaws in “master keys” and the potential for them to be exploited as in this case. The laughable aspect concerns The Washington Post and their willingness to exist in a parallel universe, a month before the photos were published, the news source rallied for a so-called “Golden Key” which could be used by tech companies, this theoretical key would be then only used with a court order. The big glaring elephant in the room lies with the very fact that it could be copied and then misused by a wide variety of individuals, organisations and groups.

I do wish people would stop simplifying tech to the point of stupidity, for example, the general consensus from powerful officials is that encryption is bad, so why not simplify it and remove it. There is a philosophy term for this and it is called Occam’s Razor, the principle states that among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Therefore, The Washington Post has simplified the many outcomes by suggesting a “Golden Key” to be stored by various tech companies. The only problem with that is the many hackers which include state sponsored virtual safe crackers are smarter than your average David Cameron.

This article has been written on September 11th 2015 but would be published on the 12th, this may seem a bit late when reading this, but I would just like to take a minute to pay respects to the near 3000 people who tragically lost their lives on that day 14 years ago to the most brutal of acts.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” –Nelson Mandela

Thank you The Guardian and Github for providing us with this information.

Browser-Based Game Boy Advance Emulator Shut Down by Nintendo

Nintendo, in its on-going mission to ruin our fun, has forced a popular Java-based Game Boy Advance emulator offline. The emulator, which allowed users to play GBA games in-browser, has been taken off GitHub after Nintendo issued a takedown notice, citing copyright infringements for every game offered through the emulator, rather than the emulator itself. Nintendo complained that offering titles such as Advance Wars, Dragon Ball Z, Super Mario Advance, Pokemon Emerald, and The Sims 2 is an illegal use of the company’s intellectual property.

Nintendo’s takedown notice to GitHub reads:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We represent Nintendo of America Inc. (“Nintendo”) in intellectual property matters. Certain material posted on the web site located at http://jsemu.github.io/gba/ infringes copyrights owned by Nintendo. This notice is provided pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 USC § 512 and GitHub, Inc.’s DMCA Takedown Policy.

Nintendo requests that GitHub, Inc., disable public access to the web site at http://jsemu.github.io/gba/. This web site provides access to unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s copyright-protected video games and videos making use of Nintendo’s copyrighted Pokémon characters and imagery in violation of Nintendo’s exclusive rights. The copyrighted works at issue include but are not limited to the following:

Shortly after receiving the takedown notice, GitHub shut down the emulator and suspended the users account, presumably to prevent any further infringement. However, since the code was open source and available for download, it is still floating about, even being hosted by different accounts on GitHub.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

GitHub’s Text Editor Finally Receives Its First Stable Release

A great development text editor comes from the guys over at GitHub. Its name is Atom and if you’ve never heard of it, I suggest you download it and give it a try. I’ve been using it for some time now and for what it has to offer, I don’t think I’ll change to another IDE any time soon.

Atom has been getting a lot of beta releases up until now, but even with its stable 1.0 release, the GitHub development team still says it’s not quite ready yet. The software is completely customizable and modular. This means you can tweak its interface and theme as much as you want and even add packages and third-party plugins to make it work with your projects.

In addition to the above, it features a development-friendly API, so you can contribute to the vast pool of packages it offers yourself. However, the best part about it is that the piece of software is free and available under the MIT license.

Should you decide to use it, I would recommend downloading the Script package as a ‘must have’ tool. The package lets you compile script on-the-fly directly in the text editor, which is what makes Atom so powerful. It does have compiling limitations on some coding languages, but it extremely useful and constantly updated. While Script works well with Atom on Mac, I got it to compile on Windows too, but there’s some work to be done on the latter OS before you can get it to compile.

If you are interested in downloading the Atom text editor, head on over to its website where you can also get some extra info on it.

Thank you LifeHacker for providing us with this information

The Code Used for Google’s Santa Claus Tracking App has been Made Open-Source

Though the spirit of Christmas has passed, Google brings it back with an open-source announcement of its Santa Tracker app code. For those unaware, the Santa Tracker is an online fictional progress of Santa’s journey throughout the world in real-time during the Christmas festivities.

The code is now available on GitHub for anyone who wants to implement it on whatever they desire. Developers can download the web version from here, while the Android version can be downloaded from here.

The general idea of tracking Father Christmas may seem a bit of pointless unless you are making an app for kids, but the code does contain some pretty nice libraries and samples that can be adapted and used in various other applications.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Microsoft May Have Stopped ‘Halo Online’, but Modders Won’t

Microsoft announced the free-to-play closed-beta Halo Online title last week, having it be restricted to players in Russia. The modding community did not agree with the company’s decision to lock the title to a specific region, so they leaked a copy of Halo Online and the tool to connect was uploaded on GitHub, only to be taken down by Microsoft later on.

“Microsoft is probably quite bothered by what we’ve done already as these files were leaked. We obtained the files from a user on 4chan’s /v/ board,” modder and team member ‘Woovie’ told TorrentFreak.”From there, user Emoose proceeded to create a hack that would allow the client to load files and thus get in-game,” Woovie adds. “He has in the past done the same for Halo 2 and Halo 3 betas so he had experience with this. The files we have are definitely an early internal alpha. A lot of left over code from other Halo games.”

So it means that the modding community has no intentions to stop its own little opened-beta with the leftover code they got their hands on. The question now is whether or not it will become a copyright issue with Microsoft.

“In terms of DMCA/C&D mitigation, we have made redundant git backups on private and public git servers. This is to ensure we will always have one working copy. These are being synchronized so that data is always the same,” Woovie explains.”Further DMCAs may happen potentially, it’s not really known at the moment. Our backups will always exist though and we will continue until we’re happy.”

Also, it seems that ElDorito team is keen on working on their own version of Halo Online for pure passion and it seems they have been a bit baffled by its restriction to Russia. This could mean more action by Microsoft, but team member Neoshadow42 states that the modding of leaked files is more of a service to them.

“As someone involved in-game development, I’m sympathetic with some developers when it comes to copyright issues. This is different though, in my opinion,” the dev explains.”The game was going to be free in the first place. The PC audience has been screaming for Halo 3 for years and years, and we saw the chance with this leak. The fact that we could, in theory, bring the game that everyone wants, without the added on stuff that would ruin the game, that’s something we’d be proud of.” he added. “I don’t particularly see this as damaging, as some people have said. I don’t believe it for a moment, honestly. We’re working to improve people’s experience, bring it to those who wouldn’t have been able to play it anyway. I’d see that as a noble cause.”

This may seem as a piracy act at first, but the developer explains it is not due to the title’s nature of free-to-play and the fact that the game will not be pay-to-play, which in the team’s eyes does not make it piracy.

“This whole project would be completely different in an ethical way if we had taken a paid game and reversed it for everyone to access for free,” Neoshadow42 insists.”At the end of the day, El Dorito aims to deliver exactly what everyone wants. The closest thing to a Halo 3 experience as possible, but on PC. If we can manage that, I’ll be more than happy.”

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

GitHub Gets Hit by the Biggest DDoS Attack in Site’s History

GitHub, the popular website used for projects spanning from game engines to security applications and even web app frameworks, is apparently suffering the biggest DDoS attack in the website’s history, which they believe to originate from China.

The attack appears to have started last Thursday and has all its staff working on mitigating the access problems since then. GitHub states that the attack “involves a wide combination of attack vectors,” which “includes every vector we’ve seen in previous attacks as well as some sophisticated new techniques that use the web browsers of unsuspecting, uninvolved people to flood github.com with high levels of traffic.”

“Based on reports we’ve received, we believe the intent of this attack is to convince us to remove a specific class of content,” GitHub says.

Wall Street Journal reports that GitHub’s traffic surge is based on visits intended for China’s largest search engine, Baidu. Security experts told the publication that the vast levels of traffic has paralysed GitHub over the DDoS attack’s duration.

The attack, which leads back to China, apparently targets two specific sections of GitHub. One of them is Greatfire.org, an anti-censorship organization dubbed the “Great Firewall of China”, which releases tools to help Chinese citizens bypass the county’s censorship controls, and the other links to copies of the New York Time’s Chinese language website and other banned domains.

Security specialist Anth@x from Insight Labs believes that the attack was due to HTTP hijacking by replacing some JavaScript files from Baidu with malicious ones, having Block Execution also used in order to prevent looping. The security specialist even goes further and states that non-Chinese users are now also being “weaponized” to target the country’s targets.

“In other words, even people outside China are being weaponized to target things the Chinese government does not like, for example, freedom of speech.” Anth@x posted on Insight Labs.

GitHub’s status updates twitter account has been keeping us updated with the attack’s status. While yesterday they reported that “all systems reporting at 100%. Attack traffic continues, so we remain on high alert.”, about an hour ago, they stated that “The DDoS attack has evolved and we are working to mitigate”.

Baidu apparently denies involvement in the attack and states that it “was not intentionally involved in any traffic redirection”.

Thank you ZDnet for providing us with this information

VLC to Get Chromecast Support

It seems VLC, the acclaimed open-source portable media player, is getting Chromecast support. VideoLAN, VLCs creator, recently posted a changelog for their media platform to GitHub, with “Chromecast output module” listed as one of the entries.

If that entry means what it appears to mean, VLC will soon be able to stream directly to a Google’s HDMI dongle. The move would be a boost for Chromecast users since the device is not the best at playing local video, and VLC is considered the most versatile media player available.

Couple this new with the recent VLC Player releases for iOS and Android, and the popular software could soon become an essential part of the Chromecast streaming experience.

Source: Gizmodo

Man Maps Home Wi-Fi Signal in 3D

YouTuber CNLohr has developed a low-tech device for creating a 3D map of a Wi-Fi network signal, and has posted the firmware and software he used to GitHub.

CNLohr used a battery-powered ESP8266 chip that he moved around his house to track his Wi-Fi signal strength. The Device has an LED attached that changes colour depending on the quality of the signal. All the data collected was then used to create a 3D model, showing all the hotspots and blackspots around his home.

If you would like to create your own, visit the YouTube video page for instructions and GitHub links.

Source: Engadget

Steam for Linux Bug Could Nuke Your Hard Drive

A bug within Steam for Linux has been discovered that could potentially wipe personal data and files stored on both the PC’s internal hard drive any connected external drive.

The fault, as outlined on Valve’s GitHub Stream for Linux page, is within a line of code in steam.sh that reads ‘rm -rf “$STEAMROOT/”. The command is meant to refresh Steam files on user request, but can also be triggered if Steam’s installation directory is moved, which removes the directory path, rewriting the line as ‘rm -rf “/'”. Without a specific directory to point at, the refresh function indiscriminately clears every drive it can find.

One user on GitHub attested to losing all their system data, including all files stored on a 3TB external drive.

According to PC World, Valve is aware of a handful of users that have been affected by the bug, but has been unable to replicate the phenomenon itself, and is “adding some additional checks to ensure this is not possible while we continue to investigate”.

Until the bug is patched, Linux users are advised to leave their Steam installation directory exactly where it is.

Source: TechRadar

Create Your Own Offline Torrent Database with BitCannon

With torrent sites hosting copyrighted material at risk of closure, like the raid on The Pirate Bay’s servers in Sweden last month, or site URLs being outlawed in certain countries, many have reverted to using clones to save dead sites and proxies and mirrors to offer access blocked URLs. Now web developer Stephen Smith has developed an alternative to use inaccessible sites: create an offline torrent database.

Smith’s BitCannon software can import the archive of a torrent site – KickAssTorrents and Demonoid openly offer their torrent archives for download – and display it as a searchable offline database. Torrents can then be downloaded conventionally, though a magnet link and a torrent client.

Smith told TorrentFreak, “I’m a self taught web developer currently in college studying computer science. I’ve always been fascinated by BitTorrent and its decentralized nature.”

“With BitCannon, I am hoping to reduce the incentive of taking down torrent sites by encouraging users to utilize the site archives, and I hope this will also encourage more torrent sites to offer full site archives.”

The open-source BitCannon software is available for download via GitHub.

Source: TorrentFreak

GitHub Launches Bug Bounty Program, Calls All ‘Bounty Hunters’ For A Challenge and Cash!

GitHub has launched its GitHub Bug Bounty, a program aimed to help security researchers in finding bugs and flaws in system. The company is reportedly willing to pay between $100 and $5,000 for each security vulnerability discovered and responsibly disclosed by hackers.

Only the GitHub API, GitHub Gist, and GitHub.com. GitHub are available for the above mentioned program, but the company says its other Web properties and applications are not part of the program though vulnerabilities found “may receive a cash reward at our discretion.”, as they pointed out.

The amount of money given for bugs and flaws is said to be “based on actual risk and potential impact to our users.” Meaning, the bigger the potential scope and the bigger the severity of the issue, the larger the payout.

“If you find a reflected XSS that is only possible in Opera, which is 60% of our traffic, will earn a much larger reward.” GitHub gave as an example.

Even spotting a very low-level bug is worth disclosing for the extra cash. Not only are you getting paid for your hard work, but you’re making the Web safer in the long-run. Bug bounty programs are becoming more and more popular because they work. The damages caused by exploited bugs are much greater than simply paying security researchers for finding them first.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of GitHub

Bitcoiners Need More Coders As Popularity Increases

 

Bitcoin has gone from strength to strength this last couple of years and while it may have seen a few setbacks recently we can’t ignore the system because put simply, it’s not going to go away, and it’s incredible that it’s progressed as far as it has, a lot of people clearly want and need this service.

“Our bottleneck is not new code, it’s code review and testing,” said Gavin Andresen , chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, but with just two full time members the foundation needs more help on coding the back end software that keeps everything running, not to mention keep up with security and future applications.

“If you want to make developers happy, start reviewing their requests [on GitHub]. Start testing. Say, ‘I tried this,'” Andresen said. When talking about how they need a new lead programmer but also need new testers at a lower level to make sure everything is running smoothly, especially in light of the DDOS attacks that struck the service back in April.

The peer-to-peer nature of Bitcoin makes it decentralized from major banks and other financial networks, a truly digital currency and one that is rapidly emerging from the shadows in to the real world and gaining massive popularity in the process too.

It’s unknown how many people use the service, but it is said to be many millions and hundreds of thousands more are expect to join over the next few month via both mining services and buy cash transaction.

“Little tasks like writing test scripts, test plans … Those sorts of things are not super brainy, algorithmic heavy research, but we desperately need that sort of stuff,” said Jeff Garzik of BitPay, the leading Bitcoin payment processor.

Bitcoin has been around 18 million transactions since it started 4 years ago and more and more places are starting to accept the currency as a form of payment, so even with all it’s issues, the future of Bitcoin is looking pretty promising, but lets not forget that the service is still truly in its infancy.

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