Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

[H]ard News

Monday September 18, 2017

Moon looks Remarkably Like The Death Star

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent back some amazing images in it's 20 year service, and one image it has captured is this of Tethys, Saturn's fifth-largest moon. In this photo, Tethys' crater, Odysseus, makes the moon look suspiciously like the Death Star.

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Pretty incredible photo, and I do see the resemblance for sure. Cassini produced some of the most spectacular images of Saturn that we may ever get, and on Friday the 15th Cassini was torpedoed into Saturn. Cassini's final image can be found here.

Discussion

How Having A Penis Makes You Smarter

In an article posted on tes, a group of Australian scientists claim the reason men are better than women at certain types of physics problems, is their ability to projectile urinate. They state that in dealing with questions about projectile motion only around one-third of girls answer correctly, compared to two-thirds of boys, and this is because boys play with projectile motion up to 5 times a day while going to the bathroom, and playing games with floating toilet targets, and "peeball".

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I don't even know what to say to this... I suppose I could start with, what the hell is "peeball?" There has to be a more rational explanation to this, perhaps men are better at projectile motion because most of us like guns, missiles, aircraft, etc. so they inherently pay more attention to that aspect. I think their mentioning of ball sports is a much more feasible answer than the ability to write ones name in the snow. Or maybe this is that "male privilege" I've been hearing so much about.

This self-directed, hands-on, intrinsically (and sometimes extrinsically, and socially) rewarding activity must have a huge potential contribution to learning, resulting in a deep, embodied, material knowledge of projectile motion that’s simply not accessible to girls.

Discussion

Washington DC Braces for Net Neutrality Protests Later This Month

The Guardian reports that net neutrality advocates are getting together and planning a two day protest in Washington DC. The protest is planned the day when the Federal Communications Commission will meet September 26th and the next day the coalition will meet with legislators. Thanks grtitan for this.

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"The FCC seems dead set on killing net neutrality, but they have to answer to Congress, and Congress has to answer to us, their constituents," said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, one of the protest's organisers.

Discussion

Opteron vs. EPYC Benchmarks & Performance-Per-Watt

In an interesting benchmark Michael Larabel from Phoronix compares the performance of the AMD Opteron 2356, a 2.3GHz quad core and dual Opteron 2384s, 2.7GHz quad core, versus the AMD Epyc 7601, 2.2GHz base, 3.2GHz boost, 32 core 64 thread flagship in a number of benchmarks to see what a decade of improvements looks like.

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Pretty amazing what AMD has managed to do in 10 years time when it comes to performance and performance-per-watt. While I know Intel has improved as well, I don't think you would see a 40x increase over Nehalem. I'm certainly looking forward to five or 6 years from now when these monsters can be picked up for a couple hundred bucks. Big thanks to forum member grtitan for sending us the story.

Discussion

Western Digital Launches Rugged Portable SSDs

In a press release today, Western Digital is launching a line of rugged SSDs aimed at photographers under it's "G-Technology" branding. The SSD-R Series is USB-C, IP67 rated for water and dust resistance, shock resistant to up to a 9.8ft/3m drop onto concrete, and can withstand up to 1,000lbs of pressure, and has a maximum transfer speed of 560MB/s.

The R-Series will be launching sometime this year with the 500GB at $200, the 1TB at $380, and a 2TB for $700.

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I personally think these look great, and the price tag is quite nice. I understand going USB-C for the speed, but there are still many systems and motherboards out there that are lacking it (mine included) so hopefully it does not have a fixed cable or proprietary connector.

Being an on-the-go photographer requires being confident and secure with tools to work with. The G-DRIVE mobile SSD R-Series device is protected by an industry-leading five-year limited warranty and is designed to provide high-performance storage for years to come.

Discussion

NES Golf Found Inside Switch NES Emulator

Not too far back, some very resourceful folks over at SwitchBrew were able to find out that there was an NES emulator inside the Nintendo Switch entitled "flog." Well, it turns out that "flog" is golf backwards no less and there is possibly a version of NES Golf inside every Nintendo Switch. The other interesting thing found was that there was Joy-Con support for controlling the game.

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Yellows8 claims the emulator-wrapped game is installed on Switch systems dating back to the system's original 1.0 firmware. The user also writes that "it's unknown what exactly triggers launching this title." Could there be a button combo, Joy-Con motion command, or even Amiibo-driven unlock required? Or is this just a hidden proof-of-concept of Virtual Console fare soon to officially launch? And how exactly did yellows8 get these screenshots if the user couldn't load the hidden Switch game manually?

Discussion

CCleaner Was Compromised for a Month

Nextweb reports that CCleaner 5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud version 1.07.3191 were hacked. Between August 15 and September 12 about 2.27 million users downloaded the infected CCleaner version with 5,000 using CCleaner Cloud.

The vulnerability allowed a two-stage backdoor to be inserted when running the CCleaner.exe. The malware was also collecting other information including the name of the computer, list of installed software and running processes, and MAC adresses of the first three network adapters.

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Anyone who has downloaded that version should update immediately.

"To the best of our knowledge, the second-stage payload never activated. It was prep for something bigger, but it was stopped before the attacker got the chance."

Discussion

Sunday September 17, 2017

Google's Play Protect Is Failing to Catch Obfuscated Malware on the Play Store

Google’s Play Protect is a user-facing security screening process that scans apps you install, comparing their content against known malware components, and notifies you if any potential risks are found: unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to catch obfuscated malware with up to 20 million installs on the Play Store. A technique called "packing," used to hide the intended functionality of a piece of software, has proven effective in fooling Google’s automated systems.

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...apps with ExpensiveWall request internet and SMS permissions, connect to a remote server at regular intervals, and run what is sent to it by the server in an embedded WebView. If you follow Android security, this might all sound a bit familiar, and that's because it's basically identical to another piece of malware discovered earlier this year. According to Check Point, Play Protect was configured to detect this malware previously, but it's now been "packed" to fool the existing checks.

Discussion

HTC Trademark Suggests Vive Focus Is Standalone VR Headset’s Name

It looks like the name of HTC’s Vive-branded standalone VR headset has already surfaced online: Lets Go Digital has uncovered two filings from HTC for a "head mounted display" named Vive Focus. The standalone will be running on Google’s Daydream mobile VR platform, and the hardware will be based on a reference design made by the search engine giant in partnership with Qualcomm.

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...Google will be hosting a press conference on October 4th, where we’re expecting to learn more about the Vive Focus, which is due for launch later this year. So far, we have no idea what the headset will cost, nor what month it will launch in. We’re also expecting to see the reveal of the next Pixel phone, which will likely also support Daydream. Vive will also be releasing a similar standalone device in China, though this won’t be supported by Daydream. No word yet on if it will carry the same branding, though.

Discussion

Battleborn Quietly Closing Down, 15 Months after Launch

Bad news for fans of Gearbox’s online first-person shooter: Creative Director Randy Varnell has announced that there will be no more Battleplans or planned content after the Fall Update. Battleborn could not get the kind of fan traction, particularly in lore, that Overwatch immediately enjoyed. The game effectively went free-to-play at the beginning of June, but was barely heard from before then.

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Never fear! Battleborn is here to stay. Nothing is changing with Battleborn, and the servers will be up and active for the foreseeable future. We announced the Fall Update for the game at PAX including some new skins, themed around some of your favorite Borderlands characters! That update will also include some updated title art (more full bar titles!) for the more significant challenges in the game, as well as some additional Finisher Boosts and Taunts. Also, there are minor balance changes in that patch.

Discussion

The Navy Will Soon Use Xbox Controllers to Operate Its Attack Submarines

The Navy will be using Xbox 360 controllers to operate the periscopes on board Virginia-class submarines: these subs do not utilize traditional rotating tube periscopes but two photonic masts that are controlled with a helicopter-style stick. Sailors did not like how those worked and decided to replace them with an accessory they grew up with.

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Lockheed Martin says the sailors who tested the controller at its lab were intuitively able to figure out how to use it on their own within minutes, compared to hours of training required for the joystick. The Xbox controller also is significantly cheaper. The company says the photonic mast hand grip and imaging control panel that cost about $38,000 can now be replaced with an Xbox controller that typically costs less than $30.

Discussion

Western Digital Ships 12 TB WD Gold HDD

In before "that’s a lot of data to store on one drive": Western Digital has begun to ship its 3.5" WD Gold HDD with 12 TB capacity, which relies on the same platform as the HGST Ultrastar He12 launched this year. According to AnandTech, the main difference between the WD Gold and the HGST Ultrastar He12 is the enterprise options for the latter: there are models with the SAS 12 Gb/s interface and there are models with SED support and Instant Secure Erase feature.

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Where the HGST-branded drives are made available primarily through B2B channels, the WD Gold are sold both through B2B and B2C channels and thus can be purchased by wider audiences. For example, boutique PC makers, as well as DIY enthusiasts, may start using the WD Gold 12 TB for their high-end builds, something they could not do with the HGST drives. These HDDs may be considered as an overkill for desktops, but since WD’s desktop offerings top at 6 TB, the WD Gold (and the perhaps inevitable future WD Red Pro 12 TB) is the WD’s closest rival for Seagate’s BarraCuda Pro drives.

Discussion

Equifax Hired a Music Major as Chief Security Officer

When Congress hauls in Equifax CEO Richard Smith to grill him, it can start by asking why he put someone with degrees in music in charge of the company’s data security: those who managed to pull up Susan Mauldin’s LinkedIn page before it was altered and taken down were surprised to find that Equifax’s CSO had an amusing but rather irrelevant set of qualifications. Remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know...

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Equifax "Chief Security Officer" Susan Mauldin has a bachelor’s degree and a master of fine arts degree in music composition from the University of Georgia. Her LinkedIn professional profile lists no education related to technology or security. This is the person who was in charge of keeping your personal and financial data safe -- and whose apparent failings have put 143 million of us at risk from identity theft and fraud. It was revealed this week that the massive data breach came due to a software vulnerability that was known about, and should have been patched, months earlier.

Discussion

The iPhone X Needs a $25 USB Type-C Cable to Fast Charge

While the iPhone X is already an expensive device, prospective owners will have to pay even more for fast charging: you'll need to spend at least $74 on a special charger and a USB Type-C Lightning cable for the privilege. It all comes down to the fact that Apple's Lightning protocol doesn't support the wattage, voltage, and amperage needed to enable true fast charging when it's connected to a standard USB Type-A port on the other end of the cable. Thanks Reimu.

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Because the Lightning cables that Apple includes in the box with every iPhone have a USB Type-A connector on the end that plugs into the charger, they don't possess the pins needed to facilitate USB Power Delivery. Namely, the two channel configuration pins, CC1 and CC2. This is why the new iPhone models need a special cable -- one that uses USB Type-C on the charger side -- to take advantage of USB-PD 2.0 and enable fast charging.

Discussion

Why Microsoft Will Drive Serious Linux Innovation

Microsoft, while maintaining its commitment to Windows, has made the necessary steps to not merely run on Linux but to help shape the future of Linux: driving this thought is recent hires such as Jessie Frazelle, who is notable for her work on containers. While MS isn’t high up in terms of kernel contributions (yet), Frazelle notes that the company is doing a lot in terms of innovating around the open-source OS so it can be used to complement other systems.

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Frazelle, remember, has a strong container pedigree. In that area, Microsoft more than earns the "innovator" label. Even seemingly pedestrian work -- like making Docker containers work for Windows, not merely Linux -- is a big deal for enterprises that don’t want open source politics infesting their IT. Or how about Hyper-V containers, which marry the high density of containers to the isolation of traditional VMs? That’s a really big deal. Microsoft’s commitment to Linux has been such that over the past year the percentage of Azure VMs running Linux has jumped from 25 percent to 33 percent, according to Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich.

Discussion

Nikon Is Making a Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera

Nikon has just seemingly confirmed that its upcoming mirrorless camera will contain a full-frame sensor: in an interview with Chinese website Xitek, Nikon Imaging Product R&D General Manager Tetsuro Goto calls full frame "the trend" and says that "if Nikon will go mirrorless, it must be full frame."

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New patent filings by Nikon also confirm this direction. Earlier this month, we shared two Nikon patents that showed 52mm f/0.9 and 36mm f/1.2 lenses for a full frame mirrorless camera. In the same Xitek interview, Goto also states that Nikon’s development of its mirrorless camera will be different from Sony because of the difference in the two companies’ histories and customer bases. "Nikon customer base is very broad, from novice to enthusiasts to prosumer to professional, that’s Nikon’s advantage," Goto says. "Olympus, Sony, and Fujifilm can only cover a small part of that. So far there is no professional using their products."

Discussion

NBA 2K18 Requires 5GB per Save File on the Nintendo Switch

According to a support page on the official Nintendo site, NBA 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch will require 5GB per save file on the system memory. Being that the console comes with only 32GB of internal storage, this is a little worrisome. Gamers do have the ability to add additional storage via a microSD card, but it is still worth asking why a save file would need to be that size.

Discussion

AMD Ryzen Mobile APU Benchmarks: 90% Faster Than Previous Gen

Early benchmarks for AMD’s upcoming Raven Ridge APUs, which feature the Zen CPU and Vega GPU microarchitectures, have surfaced at Geekbench: a Ryzen 5 2500U APU managed a score of 3,625 points in the single-core portion of the benchmark, and 9,723 points in the multi-core portion. Compared to a current generation A12-9800B, which is AMD's fastest mobile Bristol Ridge APU, the new Raven Ridge is around 90 percent faster in Geekbench's multi-core test (9,723 versus 5,115) and about 56 percent faster in single-core performance (3,625 versus 2,315).

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Our standard disclaimer when it comes to these sorts of things applies—this is just a single benchmark, and partially for that reason, we have to be careful not to draw any premature conclusions. That said, the scores on display are in line with what AMD has been promising. AMD previously said Raven Ridge would deliver a 50 percent bump in CPU performance and 40 percent jump in GPU performance, while consuming 50 less power, compared to its 7th generation APU.

Discussion

Criterion: "There Is No VR" in Star Wars: Battlefront 2

In a recent interview with Metro, Criterion’s Matt Webster and John Stanley confirmed that Battlefront 2 will not include any VR support: this is pretty disappointing, as their team developed an excellent X-Wing VR mission for the original Battlefront on PlayStation VR late last year. While a surprise reveal seems slim, Stanley says that VR is "very important" to Criterion.

Still, earlier in the year Webster did say that VR support for the game was "a story for another day" so there’s still a thin thread of hope that some sort of integration will find its way into the game eventually. Don’t forget Sony also stuck a PSVR banner on the game’s icon on the PlayStation Store, though this was apparently an accident. Battlefront 2 is releasing on November 17th on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and we’re still excited to play it even if it won’t be inside a headset.

Discussion

Saturday September 16, 2017

Porsche’s Mission E Will Hit the Streets in 2019

Porsche’s all-electric four-door sports car is entering its latter stages of development: the automaker claims that the Mission E can reach 62mph in "less than 3.5 seconds" and takes less than a quarter of an hour for its battery to charge up to 80%. The vehicle, which will be priced at around $85K, is capable of traveling up to 300 miles on a full charge.

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If the original 600bhp, 800-volt Mission E concept is anything to go by, the production car should be worth waiting for. The Mission E concept is a four-door sports car - a bit like a squashed Panamera, but with a stealthy swagger that turns heads. Especially in its matt white paint job with white and black alloys and neat detailing such as a full-width LED lighting bar for rear lights. Those rear doors are suicide hatches, revealing a 2+2 cabin.

Discussion

Verizon Is Disconnecting 8,500 Customers Who Need Its Service the Most

Verizon is booting customers over data use, including some on "unlimited" plans: the carrier has confirmed that it’s disconnecting 8,500 customers in rural areas, thanks to excessive domestic data roaming on Verizon partner networks. It pays roaming fees to the partner networks for Verizon customers to use those networks, and in some cases, those fees are getting excessive.

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"Approximately 8,500 customers -- using a variety of plans -- were notified this month that we would no longer be their service provider after October 17, 2017," Verizon director of corporate communications Kelly Crummey said. "These customers live in 13 states (Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin) and in areas outside of where Verizon operates our own network."

Discussion

Intel May Launch Ice Lake 8 Core/16 Thread CPUs in Second Half of 2018

A Eurocom representative has revealed that his company (which manufacturers high-end laptops and workstations) is updating their Tornado F5 notebook to the Z390 chipset, noting that 8C/16T CPUs will land in H2/18. These will presumably be Ice Lake chips that utilize Intel’s second-generation 10nm architecture.

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Discussion

Steam Crosses 15 Million Concurrent Users

Steam has hit another milestone: according to SteamDB, the service recently saw 15 million concurrent users for the first time ever. If that wasn't enough, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds crossed an unprecedented 1.3 million concurrent users, the highest ever on Steam. The title for most simultaneous users for a game on the service was previously held by Dota 2: a whopping 1,295,114 online users played the game at its all-time peak.

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Steam has played a huge role in taking gaming on desktops forward. In fact, the gaming portal is considered vital when it comes to gamers' view of an OS or an upgrade. This might be the reason why gamers, in general, view Windows 10 favorably. The service has, to its credit, launched several programs like Greenlight and Steam Direct to support independent developers. Steam's previous notable milestones include reaching 6 million concurrent users back in 2012, and crossing 75 million active user accounts in 2014.

Discussion

Developer Makes Android App That Turns Your Phone into an iPhone X

A developer going by the name of damianpiwowarski on Reddit has made an app that turns any Android smartphone into an iPhone X. There is even an option to turn your handset into an Essential phone. Are ugly notches the future?

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Current trends in smartphones business are following one idea - smartphones have to bezel less. But all of that fancy stuff like cameras has to go somewhere! And they do, in some sort of a hole or a notch. Without that your phone is so ollldddddddd and uglyyyyyy. And future of the smartphones is an iPhone X! They said that! And what does iPhone X have? A NOTCH! So with that app you can make a notch. Why not.

Discussion


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