‘We’re running with scissors’: Why some experts worry about VR dangers

Virtual gaslighting, augmented torture

What if virtual reality wasn’t just a new way to play games or watch movies? What if the technology wasn’t just creating new methods of communication, of medical treatment, of military training?

What if virtual reality was used in the pursuit of mayhem?

Much has been said about the positives of technology that can reshape reality or even create a new one, but last month two respected academic researchers held a talk at South by Southwest in Austin to explore not just those positives, but also the potential negatives of reality technology.

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WikiLeaks just dropped the CIA’s secret how-to for infecting Windows

Latest batch of documents details how CIA infects targets’ Windows-based computers.

WikiLeaks has published what it says is another batch of secret hacking manuals belonging to the US Central Intelligence Agency as part of its Vault7 series of leaks. The site is billing Vault7 as the largest publication of intelligence documents ever.

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Intel Security is McAfee again

If you were on the internet in a certain era, you remember McAfee. It was the defensive line between you and the rest of the internet, reminding you with incessant popups that you were not hacked, not quite yet, but only if you renewed your subscription right away. Then Intel bought the firewall company in 2010 for an eye-popping $7.68 billion and billed it as Intel Security, and the name McAfee became more closely associated with the company’s founder, a man who retired to Belize only to be accused of his neighbor’s murder. (Johnny Depp will reportedly play John McAfee in an upcoming film.)

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SpaceX is pushing back the target launch date for its first Mars mission

The company was aiming for 2018 but is now looking to 2020

Last year, SpaceX announced a bold plan to launch its Dragon spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018 — in what would be the first ever private mission to the Red Planet. But now it looks like the company is pushing back the mission by a couple years. SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell confirmed today that SpaceX is now targeting the year 2020 for the Mars trip, a move that will allow the company to better focus on its other ambitious projects.

We were focused on 2018, but we felt like we needed to put more resources and focus more heavily on our crew program and our Falcon Heavy program,” Shotwell said at a pre-launch press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida. “So we’re looking more for the 2020 timeframe for that.”

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Vermont power company finds malware linked to Russian hackers

A malware signature linked to ‘Grizzly Steppe’ by the FBI and DHS was found on a single laptop.

Just a few days ago, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a report detailing their assessment that Russian hackers were behind a series of attacks on US agencies and citizens. While the Obama administration issued sanctions, code linked to those hackers has been shared with other agencies, and on Friday, the Burlington Electric Department found malware with a matching signature on one of its laptops. The discovery raises more questions than it answers, but with recent reports of Russian hackers attacking the power grid in Ukraine, it obviously has raised alerts all over.

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Giant Avatar-style robot takes first steps in South Korea 

A giant South Korean-built manned robot that walks like a human but makes the ground shake under its weight has taken its first baby steps.

Designed by a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, the four-metre-tall (13-foot), 1.5 ton Method-2 towers over a room on the outskirts of Seoul.

An employee controls the arms of a manned biped walking robot "METHOD-2" during a demonstration in Gunpo, South Korea

The hulking human-like creation bears a striking resemblance to the military robots starring in the movie “Avatar”.

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Verizon knocks $100 off the second generation Moto 360

Time to get a watch

Smartwatches might be in a slide, but the good news is that means we’re bound to see some decent deals as a result. Price was always one of our hangups with the second generation Moto 360, but Verizon is now selling it for $200 with free shipping — at least $100 cheaper than you can find most other places.

Lenovo, LG, and Huawei all announced earlier this year that they aren’t planning to release new smartwatches anytime soon, so this is likely to be the last Moto 360 for a while. The good news is that the second generation Moto 360 is one of the watches that will support Android Wear 2.0 when it’s released.

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Apple working with Consumer Reports to pin down inconsistent MacBook Pro battery test results

On December 22nd, Consumer Reports said it could not recommend the MacBook Pro — a first for a Mac laptop. It caused a stir! Consumer Reports’ reasoning was simple: it got wildly inconsistent battery test results every time it tried to test multiple versions of the laptop. Its test is one that’s pretty common across the industry, loading up web pages one after another:

For the battery test, we download a series of 10 web pages sequentially, starting with the battery fully charged, and ending when the laptop shuts down. The web pages are stored on a server in our lab, and transmitted over a WiFi network set up specifically for this purpose. We conduct our battery tests using the computer’s default browser—Safari, in the case of the MacBook Pro laptops.

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Cyanogen failed to kill Android, now it is shuttering its services and OS as part of a pivot

It’s been a rocky few months for Cyanogen, the ambitious startup that aimed to build a better version of Android than Google. It has laid off staff, let go of its CEO and parted ways with another co-founder — now it is shutting down its services and nightly software builds on December 31.

The news was announced in a brief blog post released late on Friday:

As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally.

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