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Google Rebuilt the Android Media Stack To Prevent Another Stagefright 50

Reader Trailrunner7 writes: Android Nougat is bringing with it a slew of security improvements, many of them under the covers, and the one that likely will have the biggest long-term effect is the major rebuilding effort Google undertook on the media stack. That component of the operating system is meant to process audio and video, and it's been a weak spot in Android. The media stack includes the mediaserver process, which is used by a number of apps on Android devices. Researcher Josh Drake last year discovered a critical vulnerability in the libstagefright function in the media stack, which could allow an attacker to get complete control of a target device by sending a malicious MMS message. The Stagefright vulnerability is among the more widespread and dangerous flaws to affect Android, and though Google patched it last year, the company decided to take a more systemic approach to the problem in Nougat. Rather than addressing vulnerabilities on a case by case basis, Google implemented technologies to prevent a large group of bugs.

Steam VR Tracking Technology Now Available To Third Parties ( 13

You will soon be able to play and try out any virtual reality game or app in StreamVR ecosystem without having to purchase HTC's VR gear. SteamVR creator Valve has announced it is opening the floodgates to a new wave to a new wave of VR peripherals. PC Gamer reports: "This tracking technology enables hardware developers to build highly precise position and orientation sensing into devices of all kinds," reads the press release. "Valve expects the technology to be used in a variety of devices, such as VR peripherals and other input devices." The technology being licensed includes everything needed to wirelessly track objects with the HTC Vive base stations (those two laser emitters that you mount in the corners of the room when setting up a Vive), its sensors, and the Steam VR software. To be clear, it doesn't mean we'll see new tracking systems based on the Vive's technology, but that new hardware can work with the Vive's base stations and sensors. The goal is to "support the growth of a healthy portfolio of products that work together with HTC Vive," said HTC VR vice president Raymond Pao.

Comment Re:Does it understand BEING HONKED AT? (Score 1) 156

I wouldn't think so. First off, it would have no idea if the honk were directed at it or some other vehicle.

But mostly its because a honk is usually the equivalent of "hey idiot, pay attention". But Google's cars are always paying attention, so I don't think listening for a honk would be a valuable input.

Comment Great idea (Score 1) 45

I actually did something similar back in 2011. I was working for a company that makes video surveillance software (Aimetis Symphony if you are curious). I was mostly responsible for integrating new cameras (IP cameras are pretty cool), but one day I ended up working on a problem with tracking. The software can do real time object tracking, and when you are using PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras you can have the cameras physically follow moving objects. Its a little bit tricky because not all PTZ cameras have the same characteristics (speed, acceleration, etc) so getting the tracking algorithm to work well with them all takes some work. In order to test my changes I had to connect to one of the test cameras we had on the roof and wait for a car to pass by so I could see how well it tracked it. This was time consuming to say the least.

Being a big fan of automated testing, I was trying to figure out a way to consistently reproduce a test environment. You can't just use a canned video clip as an input because the moving camera changes the incoming video. One day it occurred to me that using a computer generated world would work great. So I grabbed an open source 3d engine (I think it was OGRE, but I'm not sure) and coded up an interface so the rendered 3d output could be fed to the software. Basically to the software the 3d engine looked like a camera. I also wired up the PTZ controls from the software to the "player" inputs (ie mouse) of the 3d engine so it could move the viewport in the 3d world. I then created a simple world with a circular road and a 3d car model that drove around the track and fired it up. The software happily tracked the car model as it drove around and around and moved the camera to keep the car centered in the view. Worked brilliantly. Only took 5 or 6 hours to get it running.

Showed it to my boss and coworkers and they were kinda blown away. My idea was that we could setup multiple 3d worlds with different characteristics so that when you made a change to the tracking algorithm you could run a repeatable test against multiple scenarios so you see how the change affected everything (often a change that improves the tracking in one scenario breaks it in another scenario).

I left the company shortly thereafter (for personal reasons, it was a great place to work) so I don't know what became of it. Since I wasn't there to champion it I suspect they never did anything with it. :(


Comment Re:Blockchain (Score 1) 287

No its not. The blockchain is currently almost 12GB. Last week I downloaded a game that was 28GB. Thats just one game. 1TB hard drives are $60.

Yeah, if you are getting started it takes a fair amount of time for the blockchain to come down. If you are in a rush, just use Electrum (which will be up and running in 30 seconds) until the blockchain has finished downloading.

Plus, bitcoin devs are working on ways to prune the blockchain.

Blockchain size is not something you need to worry about.

Comment Re:Good thing I didn't invest. (Score 2) 157

> It was good advice at the time.

Actually, no it wasn't. Good advice would have been: Use your brain. Research Bitcoin until you understand how it works, what it is and what it isn't. Then, decide if it is workable and worthy. If it is, decide how much you are willing to risk investing in it. Don't invest more than you can afford to lose. Note that this is good advice for any new technology.

This is what I did early in 2011. At first I was like most people: "That can't possibly work." But I researched and I found it could and DID work. And I wanted it to succeed, so I did whatever I could to help it (which included investing in it).

When I finally figured out what it was all about I got a weird feeling. I can best describe the feeling as "This Is Important". I got the same feeling when I first found out about the Internet.

Comment Re: What is 300 trillion ? (Score 1) 205

Idiots who don't understand fiat currency make me sad.

Indeed, I believe this is responsible for much of the hate towards Bitcoin, which I would have expected to receive a much more positive response from the /. crowd.
Trying to understand Bitcoin causes people to realize that they don't really understand currencies, when they think they do, and the cognitive dissonance results in anger.

Just because you use currency every day doesn't mean you understand it. If you did, you'd have gotten rich from forex trading and you wouldn't be on /. right now.

Comment Re:Can i please have two? (Score 1) 395

I just really hate to go back to chasing that upgrade dragon.

Its not as bad as it used to be. A decent gaming rig lasts a LOT longer these days. I used to be on something like a 6-8 month upgrade cycle. My current video card (Radeon 6950) is just over 2 years old, and still handles everything fine, I could probably easily get another year out of it and maybe more. A $300 card amortized over ~3 years is pretty cheap.

Comment Re:perhaps what forbes highlights (Score 1) 692

That isn't what makes Bitcoin volatile. It is volatile because the market is so small. Which means that small players can cause large changes in the value by doing certain things. Sure, Bitcoins market cap is $1B USD, which sounds big, and it is for an individual. But in terms of the global economy its TINY. Once Bitcoin gets past $1T USD market cap its exchange rate will much more stable.

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