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Hardware Hacking

Wearable Computer With Lightweight HUD 150

zeazzz writes to mention that the folks over at UMPC have a very cool little writeup and pictorial of a user's latest wearable PC. With the surge in smart phone adoption it seems that enthusiasm for wearable computers has dropped off a bit, which is too bad. I certainly look forward to my augmented reality HUD instead of depending on my iPhone for everything. "Essentially he took the MyVu headset, removed one of the eye pieces, and mounted the other to his glasses to that he could see his surroundings and the UX's screen at the same time. The MyVu is attached to the UX through the A/V output port on the UX's port replicator dongle. With some additional addons he provided his UX with extra battery life via an external battery, and several input methods to communicate with the UX while the rest of the kit resides within the backpack."

Undercover Cameras Catch PC Repair Scams, Privacy Violations 665

Barence writes "With help from readers of PC Pro, Sky News in the UK launched an undercover investigation into rogue PC repair shops. As a result, Sky's cameras caught technicians scouring through private photos, stealing passwords and over-charging for basic repairs. It was a simple enough job: 'To create the fault, we simply loosened one of the memory chips so Windows wouldn't load. To get things working again, one needs only push the chip back into the slot and reboot the machine. Any half-way competent engineers should fix it in minutes.' But these technicians had other ideas, stealing photos and documents, as well as login details for email and bank accounts."
Input Devices

Can New Game Control Schemes Hope To Match the PC Keyboard? 202

An opinion piece on Gamasutra discusses how, in spite of the fancy new motion control systems that have come to console gaming, the PC's keyboard and mouse setup is still unreplaceable for many titles and genres. Quoting: "With over 100 keys to choose from (back of the box quotation right there), the possibilities are near endless, if you start to think of shift and control functions altering the purpose of keys. It means that, when the developers start to make their game, they don't have to worry about the limitations of the interface, knowing that, if all else fails, they can always assign the compass to K, even if that's a bit of a stretch to all but the pianists. The keyboard is the friend of ambition, and ArmA 2 is the testament to that, in all its surrealist, broken glory. ... It's the same reason RTS games have found a home on the PC for so long, able to use the skills people accumulate moving around windows and clicking on icons to command troops and manipulate their battle lines. Developers taking advantage of what we already know to teach us something we don't is what gaming is all about."

Security Threats 3 Levels Beyond Kernel Rootkits 264

GhostX9 writes "Tom's Hardware has a long interview with security expert Joanna Rutkowska (which is unfortunately split over 9 pages). Many think that kernel rootkits are the most dangerous attacks, but Joanna and her team have been studying exploits beyond Ring 0 for some years. Joanna is most well known for the BluePill virtualization attack (Ring -1) and in this interview she chats a little bit about Ring -2 and Ring -3 attacks that go beyond kernel rootkits. What's surprising is how robust the classic BluePill proof-of-concept is: 'Many people tried to prove that BluePill is "detectable" by writing various virtualization detectors (but not BluePill detectors). They simply assumed that if we detect a virtualization being used, this means that we are "under" BluePill. This assumption was made because there were no products using hardware virtualization a few years ago. Needless to say, if we followed this way of reasoning, we might similarly say that if an executable makes network connections, then it must surely be a botnet.'" Rutkowska says that for her own security, "I don't use any A/V product on any of my machines (including all the virtual machines). I don't see how an A/V program could offer any increased security over the quite-reasonable-setup I already deployed with the help of virtualization." She runs three separate virtual machines, designated Red, Yellow, and Green, each running a separate browser and used for increasingly sensitive tasks.
Social Networks

Of Science and Choice In Online Dating 311

Must be summertime, as online publications turn to the contemplation of Internet dating. The NY Times's piece (registration may be required) takes a not particularly deep look at the reality behind the "science" claims of,, and others. "The question is how much it really matters to users if the methods have any scientific basis. A friend of mine... said she looked at several dating sites and chose the ones that looked like they had 'the least riffraff.'" Technology Review focuses on studies showing that the overwhelming number of choices presented by many dating sites can be counterproductive: "...more search options lead to less selective processing by reducing users' cognitive resources, distracting them with irrelevant information, and reducing their ability to screen out inferior options." The article concludes with a look at the startup Omnidate, which offers technology for 3D virtual dating. The site has had twice as many women (by percentage) sign up as the other dating sites typically see.

Massively Single-Player Gaming? 209

Massively is running an article discussing the trend in recent MMOs to enable and encourage solo play. Where the genre's early offerings, like Everquest and Ultima Online, were heavily dependent on finding other people to interact with, it's common for today's games to allow players to experience most of the content by themselves. Quoting: "It is human nature to want to be the center of attention or at least feel like the hero on some level. It's also not too far of a stretch to call members of our species generally selfish. How can you really deliver this experience if you force your players to ask for help all the time? I think this was simply a natural progression of the genre in trying to appeal to our natural traits. ... Finally, I believe it all comes down to the mighty dollar. Audiences grew and so followed the market and competition. Suddenly, you couldn't make MMOs on the cheap anymore (though a stalwart few still try). Not only are game studios focused on appealing to the solo casual gamer to maximize earnings, they also want to build in artificial time sinks to make players stick around."

Facebook Violates Canadian Privacy Law 179

Myriad and a number of other readers passed along the news that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner has made a determination that Facebook violates Canadian privacy law in four different respects. Canada has the highest per-capita facebook participation in the world — about a third of the population — according to coverage in The Star. The EU is also expressing similar privacy concerns, though Canada's action "represents the most exhaustive official investigation of Facebook privacy practices anywhere in the world," says Michael Geist. The CBC's coverage spells out the areas of privacy concern, in particular that nearly a million developers of Facebook apps in 180 countries have full access to the entirety of users' private data. Also of concern: Facebook holds on to your data indefinitely after you quit the site. The BBC notes that Facebook is working with the privacy commission to resolve the issues, and quotes a Facebook spokesman thus: "Overall, we are looking for practical solutions that operate at scale and respect the fact that people come to share and not to hide." (Schneier recently blogged about research on "privacy salience," and cited Facebook's practices among others' as practical examples of how social networking sites have learned not to push the privacy issue in users' faces.)
Classic Games (Games)

A History of Early Text Adventure Games 130

HFKap writes "The earliest computer games were pure text and were passed around freely on the ARPANET, culminating in the 'cave crawls' Adventure and Dungeon. The advent of the home computer opened up a commercial market for text adventure games, though the limited resources of these machines presented significant technical problems. Many companies vied for success in this market, but the best-remembered today is Infocom, founded by a group from MIT. Infocom's virtual memory and virtual machine innovations enabled them to design extremely ambitious and creative games, which they dubbed Interactive Fiction (IF). Ultimately the text game lost its paying customers to the lure of graphical games, such as those produced by Sierra On-Line. This article is a dialogue between Harry Kaplan and Jimmy Maher, editor of the modern IF community's pre-eminent e-zine SPAG."

Low-Budget Electronics Projects For High School? 364

SciGuy writes "I am a physics teacher for 9th graders. I really want to teach them modern electronics (something beyond the light bulb and battery). My hope is for a project that: 1) Is fun 2) Teaches about circuits that are relevant to their life. 3) Doesn't rely too heavily on a black box microcontroller. Individual components would probably be better. (I realize that #2 and #3 are probably contradictory. They will already be programming in my class but I want them to understand the circuitry behind modern tech.) 4) It must be as cheap as possible. Yay, public school. Unless some of the parts can be scrounged or found at home, I would probably want to keep the project around $5." What would you build?
The Courts

Internet Astroturfer Fined $300,000 245

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company who posted fake reviews of their services on various websites, will have to pay $300,000 to the state of New York. Cuomo's office says this is the first US case to specifically target astroturfing on the internet. "Internal emails discovered by Attorney General Cuomo's investigation show that Lifestyle Lift employees were given specific instructions to engage in this illegal activity. One e-mail to employees said: 'Friday is going to be a slow day — I need you to devote the day to doing more postings on the web as a satisfied client.' Another internal email directed a Lifestyle Lift employee to 'Put your wig and skirt on and tell them about the great experience you had.' In addition to posting on various Internet message board services, Lifestyle Lift also registered and created stand-alone Web sites, such as, designed to appear as if they were created by independent and satisfied customers of Lifestyle Lift. The sites offered positive narratives about the Lifestyle Lift experience. Some of these sites purported to offer forums for users to add their own comments about Lifestyle Lift. In reality, however, Lifestyle Lift either provided all the 'user comments' themselves, or closely monitored and edited third-party comments to skew the discussion in favor of Lifestyle Lift."

Canadians Find Traffic Shaping "Reasonable" 291

gehrehmee writes "A recent Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll on ISPs' use of traffic shaping suggests that 60% of survey respondents find the practice reasonable as long as customers are treated fairly, while 22% believe Internet management is unreasonable regardless. The major Canadian Internet and phone service provider Rogers, meanwhile, compared 'person-to-person file-sharing to a car that parks in one lane of a busy highway at all times of the day or night, clogging the roadways for everyone unless someone takes action.' Is there a lack of education about the long-term effects of traffic shaping on free communication? Or are net neutrality advocates just out of touch?" The poll found that only 20% of respondents had ever heard of traffic shaping. The article is unclear on whether the "60%" who found the practice "reasonable" are 60% of all respondents — most of whom don't know what they are talking about — or 60% of the minority who know. If the former, then the exact phrasing of the question is the overwhelming determinant of the response. At the CTRC hearings, which wrapped up today, Bell Canada executives revealed that the company "slows certain types of downloads [P2P] to as little as 1.5 to 3 per cent of their advertised speed during 9-1/2 hours of the day."

Repulsive Force Discovered In Light 176

Aurispector writes in with news that the Yale team that recently discovered an attractive force between two light beams in waveguides has now found a corresponding repulsive force. "'This completes the picture,' [team lead Hong] Tang said. 'We've shown that this is indeed a bipolar light force with both an attractive and repulsive component.' The attractive and repulsive light forces Tang's team discovered are separate from the force created by light's radiation pressure, which pushes against an object as light shines on it. Instead, they push out or pull in sideways from the direction the light travels. Previously, the engineers used the attractive force they discovered to move components on the silicon chip in one direction, such as pulling on a nanoscale switch to open it, but were unable to push it in the opposite direction. Using both forces means they can now have complete control and can manipulate components in both directions. 'We've demonstrated that these are tunable forces we can engineer,' Tang said."

Wikipedia Debates Rorschach Censorship 635

GigsVT writes "Editors on Wikipedia are engaged in an epic battle over a few piece of paper smeared with ink. The 10 inkblot images that form the classic Rorschach test have fallen into the public domain, and so including them on Wikipedia would seem to be a simple choice. However, some editors have cited the American Psychological Association's statement that exposure of the images to the public is an unethical act, since prior exposure to the images could render them ineffective as a psychological test. Is the censorship of material appropriate, when the public exposure to that material may render it useless?"

6 Reasons To License Software Under the (A/L)GPL 367

Henry V .009 writes with a link to Zed Shaw's "newest rant," which gives a cogent description of his reasons for choosing the not-always-popular GPL for his own code: "Honestly, how many of you people who use open source tell your boss what you're using? How many of you tell investors that your entire operation is based on something one guy wrote in a few months? How many of you out there go to management and say, 'Hey, you know there's this guy Zed who wrote the software I'm using, why don't we hire him as a consultant?' You don't. None of you. You take the software, and use it like Excalibur to slay your dragon and then take the credit for it. You don't give out any credit, and in fact, I've ran into a vast majority of you who constantly try to say that I can't code as a way of covering your ass."

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito