AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

Twitter sues Feds to lift gag on surveillance scope details

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Oct 2014 0:56

Twitter sues Feds to lift gag on surveillance scope details Twitter has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California seeking a means to reveal the actual number of national security related information it requests it receives.

Internet services like Twitter and Facebook can currently only inform its users publicly of the total number of data/information requests it receives from law enforcement and government agencies. Essentially, this means that it lumps together the total number of requests it receives from law enforcement agencies (mission persons' investigations etc.) and from national security entities.

They are not legally allowed to reveal how many of the total number of requests and orders received are related to national security, even if the number is zero.

According to Twitter, the firm is entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users' concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance, including what types of legal process have not been received.

It has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California asking the court to declare these restrictions on its ability to speak about government surveillance as unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Later this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will also consider the constitutionality of the non-disclosure provisions.


AfterDawn: News

You can now customize Chromecast imagery shown on your TV screen when idle

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Oct 2014 0:41

You can now customize Chromecast imagery shown on your TV screen when idle Google is now enabling Chromecast users to use their own photos or choose personalized sources of backdrops to be shown on the TV screen when idle.

The feature had been promised for summer but seemingly slipped a bit, but it is available now. It allows users to use their own photo albums via Google+, or to select from other options for backdrops when idle.

You can, for example, see artwork from galleries and museums around the world via the Google Cultural Institute, satellite imagery from remote places on Earth via Google Maps and U.S. users can get images from the New York Times, the Guardian and others.

Setting it up is as easy as opening the Chromecast app on your device and selecting Backdrop from the left menu. This allows you to customize your sources for imagery. You can also get more information on pictures you see by selecting "Backdrop" from the left menu and tapping on the card to find out more.

Alternatively you can open the Google app on Android or iOS, tap the microphone and ask "What's on my Chromecast?"

The update is rolling out now.

More information:

AfterDawn: News

VIDEO: Malware used to steal cash from ATM machines

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Oct 2014 0:28

VIDEO: Malware used to steal cash from ATM machines Kaspersky has detailed an interesting and naughty piece of malware that allowed attackers to steal cash directly from some ATM machines running an embedded Microsoft Windows OS.

The malware was active on at least 50 ATM machines in Eastern Europe, but there is some evidence that it has spread beyond the region to many other countries, including Canada, France, India and the United States. Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team came to this conclusion based on statistics of submissions made to the popular VirusTotal service.

It is targeted at ATM machines made by a major manufacturer, running a 32-bit embedded Windows operating system, and it is smart enough to hide itself using several tactics.

What is interesting is Kaspersky cited security camera footage at locations of infected ATM machines that show a bootable CD was used to infect them. It transfers the malware to the device, performs some checks and then edits the registry to boot the malware, which then interacts with ATM through the standard library MSXFS.dll. which Kaspersky informs readers is "Extension for Financial Services (XFS)."

It then runs in an infinite loop waiting for user input, but it will only accept commands by default on Sunday and Monday nights. It accepts multiple commands from an operator, who then must press the Enter button the keypad to proceed. Another clever trick is clearly intended at making it so only the right people can manipulate the machine, by requiring that a session key be entered.


AfterDawn: News

VIDEO: Finns crazy to get iPhone 4 (yes, '4')

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Sep 2014 8:30

VIDEO: Finns crazy to get iPhone 4 (yes, '4') Despite being around four years old now, enthusiastic but impatient Finns showed up at stores today to buy an iPhone 4 for 99.90.

While we have been so entertained by a video of a guy dropping his brand new iPhone 6, and several others showing that it will just bend right out of shape if you stick it in your tight jeans pocket (not a feature!), today's iPhone video from Finland is a little surprising.

Retailer Verkkokauppa got its hands on some ancient refurbished iPhone 4 models (the one that can't get iOS 8!) and wanted to sell them off for 99.90 a piece to make a quick return. They sent out units to multiple stores, limited to just 50 in each store. The problem is, a lot more people showed up at stores.

At stores in Helsinki and Pirkkala (near Tampere), police had to come to calm people down. Stores were only allowing ten people in at a time once they opened at 9AM, so naturally that ticked off quite a large number of people.

Witnessing mobs of people fighting in America on Black Friday every year to get deals before the holidays is rather sad, but witnessing Finns getting rowdy and upset over a four year old iPhone is one of the saddest videos I have seen in some time. Check this video out from Pirkkala...


AfterDawn: News

What you should know about Apple Pay

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Sep 2014 20:13

What you should know about Apple Pay Apple Pay is a new mobile, contactless payment system developed by Apple Inc. that will soon be available to use online and offline. What should you know about it?

Today in Cupertino, Apple unveiled its new iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and introduced its Apple Watch line for the first time. It also dated iOS 8's public release for later this month and gave away a U2 album to iTunes customers.

Another service announced by Apple - and strongly linked to the new iPhones and Apple Watch - is Apple Pay, which the company promises will revolutionize how to pay for physical goods and services offline, and how you pay for things in apps on your iPhone.

So here is a quick run down of what Apple revealed to this point.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a new mobile payments and contact-less payment service provided by Apple, which the firm promises is simple to use, private and secure. Using NFC (near-field communication) built in to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, you can pay for goods and services easily without having to produce a credit card or debit card, using Passbook, and TouchID as part of the authorization process.

When will it be available?

Apple Pay will be available as a free update in October.


AfterDawn: News

Now unveiled, what is Apple Watch all about?

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Sep 2014 18:24

Now unveiled, what is Apple Watch all about? Apple has finally shown off its upcoming Apple Watch wearable device to the public, slating it for release in earlier 2015. So what was the fuss all about and did Apple deliver?

Describing it as its most personal device ever, Apple showed off the upcoming Apple Watch in Cupertino today. The smartwatch will come in three varieties - Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition - in either 38 mm and 42 mm sizes and with enclosures rafted from custom alloys of polished or space black stainless steel, space gray or silver anodized aluminum and 18-karat rose or yellow gold. A line of watch straps are also available.

UI, Controls and Fitness

Each Watch comes with a Retina display that tout a Force Touch feature, which can essentially tell the difference between a tap and a "press". The user interface is of course based on the company's iOS operating system, though obviously redesigned for such a small display and to support the Watch control mechanisms.

Apple has introduced the "Digital Crown" which you can use to control the UI, for navigation, zooming or scrolling. It also serves as the device's Home button and can be used to access Siri.

Apple Watch puts a strong emphasis on fitness and exercise. The Activity app is designed to motivate you to be more active throughout the day while the Workout app provides the metrics you need during your sessions, as well as goal-setting and pacing during popular session-based workouts, such as running and cycling.


AfterDawn: News

Apple unveils iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Sep 2014 16:41

Apple unveils iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus As expected, Apple has shown off two new iPhone models, claiming they are the biggest advancement in the iPhone line so far.

Information leaked about the new iPhones turned out to be largely correct. As rumored, Apple introduced two new iPhone models - the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch retina HD displays, respectively. The 4.7-inch display touts a 1334 x 750 resolution (38 percent more viewing space than an iPhone 5s) and the 5.5-inch display boasts a full hd, 1920 x 1080 resolution (88 percent more viewing area than an iPhone 5s).

Both run iOS 8 powered by Apple's second generation 64-bit "Destkop-class" A8 chip. Both also include the M8 motion coprocessor that gathers motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and the new barometer, which senses air pressure to provide relative elevation.

The new iPhones also support high quality voice calls over LTE (VoLTE) and Wi-Fi calling if supported by the carrier and support 802.11ac Wi-Fi with speeds up to 433 Mbps and Bluetooth 4.0.

The iSight camera has gotten a new sensor featuring Focus Pixels for faster autofocus. High-definition video on iPhone improves with faster frame rates up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo, as well as continuous autofocus, cinematic video stabilization and time-lapse video. iPhone 6 Plus users also benefit from new image stabilization features.


AfterDawn: News

Apple to unveil iPhone 6 today, but what else?

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Sep 2014 6:55

Apple to unveil iPhone 6 today, but what else? It has already been a year since Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c smartphones, which means it has almost been a year since iPhone 6 speculation really kicked off. Today, Apple will hold an event in Cupertino, California, in which it is almost certain to show off the iPhone 6, making it first iPhone not unveiled in San Francisco.

The Flint Center for the Performing Arts can hold a lot more media personnel than the Yerba Buena Center, so perhaps Apple feels this event is of greater importance than its most recent ones, or maybe it is simply that the iPhone is not what it is most eager to show off this time.

Since the iPhone 6 is something you could put your house on showing up today, what do we know about it? Well, for starters there is almost a consensus already that it will be available with either a 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen, the latter providing a sixth row of apps on the home screen. One rumor spreading today suggests that the 5.5-inch device will be called iPhone 6 plus, or iPhone 6+.

It is also expected to pack Apple's new dual-core A8 chip and 1GB of RAM, run iOS 8, and for the first time may be available with 128GB of storage. Until now, only the iPad provided a 128GB option, while the iPhone was limited to 64GB. Previously though, every doubling of internal storage provided in the line-up added an additional $100 to the price tag.


AfterDawn: News

FCC denies report that its website was attacked

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Jun 2014 16:35

FCC denies report that its website was attacked The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has denied a report from VICE that its website suffered from a denial of service attack last week.

After comedian John Oliver had a rant about the FCC and net neutrality, he urged people to go to the FCC website and provide the regulator with feedback while opinion from the public was being sought. Not long after this, the commenting section on the FCC website became unusable.

VICE ran a report quoting an FCC source saying that it was actually hacked who brought down the commenting system with a denial of service attack.

Later though, an FCC spokesperson reached out to Engadget to deny the initial report. He said that the commission had no evidence of a malicious attack, and that a high volume of traffic caused the collapse. Engadget also noted that the FCC's commenting system is 17 years old.

VICE is sticking by its original report however, saying that a high-level FCC source had described it as a "database denial of service attack."

When you think about it though, given the age of the FCC's commenting system and combining that with thousands people trying to add comments, would that appear to be a denial of service attack if you were unaware of John Oliver's call to arms?


AfterDawn: News

Google joins anti-piracy effort to cut ad revenue from rogue websites

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Jun 2014 16:25

Google joins anti-piracy effort to cut ad revenue from rogue websites Google is part of a new coalition aimed at cutting advertising revenue to websites that offer copyright infringing content.

The practice of targeting ads on piracy websites is not new. The goal is straight-forward, to make the operation of these websites a non-profitable risk so that many will end up shutting down, or plans to launch new sites will be abandoned. Police in the UK are already targeting ads on piracy websites.

Search giant Google will join another effort in Italy. It will reportedly sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the country, along with music and movie groups, and others in the advertising business.

A committee comprised of signatories will handle complaints from rights holders that highlight advertisements shown on websites offering pirated content.

Source: TorrentFreak

AfterDawn: News

WARNING: TweetDeck vulnerable to XSS flaw (UPDATE: fixed!)

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Jun 2014 13:00

WARNING: TweetDeck vulnerable to XSS flaw (UPDATE: fixed!) Twitter's useful TweetDeck app is vulnerable to a cross-site-scripting (XSS) flaw that a lot of people have run in to today.

While browsing today, my TweetDeck tab in Google Chrome came to the front by itself with a message simply saying "XSS in TweetDeck". At the same time, my co-worker Jari sent me a link to a tweet that - when combined with TweetDeck - would automatically Re-tweet the message and spread.

Here is a screenshot of the tweet, before it is inevitably taken offline

It appears that to be affected by it, all you need is for it to appear in your timeline in TweetDeck at least in Google's Chrome browser. In our case, it was re-tweeted by an Adobe account, which then exploited the flaw in Jari's TweetDeck to retweet it, and then it showed up in my timeline and I retweeted it.

Of course, you can manually "un-retweet" it if you visit the actual tweet in a browser and just click the RT button again so it is no longer green. Here is the direct link, which should be safe to open in a browser.


AfterDawn: News

E3 2014: Nintendo unveils 'amiibo' toys compatible with Wii U via NFC

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Jun 2014 20:20

E3 2014: Nintendo unveils 'amiibo' toys compatible with Wii U via NFC Nintendo has displayed why it built NFC (near-field communications) chips into the Wii U controller by unveiling its new amiibo toys.

One of the first games compatible with amiibo will be Super Smash Bros 4. By holding the toy to the Wii U gamepad information can be transferred between the two. Customized settings, achievements and more can be carried by players in the amiibo toys.

Other games that will support amiibo toys soon will be Mario Kart 8, Yoshi's Woolly World and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

No details were given on how much these trinkets will cost though, but here's a demonstration of how they work.


AfterDawn: News

E3 2014: Nintendo confirms Zelda for Wii U in 2015

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Jun 2014 19:56

E3 2014: Nintendo confirms Zelda for Wii U in 2015 Nintendo announced that the Wii U console will claim its first Legend of Zelda title in 2015.

A brief trailer for the next Zelda game was shown at Nintendo's E3 press briefing and is embedded below. The Wii U console could certainly use strong titles as soon as possible to turn around its fortunes.

The open-world format for the Wii U Zelda marks a break with the past for the Zelda series, providing the player with total freedom of movement. Lead character Link is set to appear in other titles due to be released this year too, including Super Smash Bros 4.

Give the trailer a glimpse..


AfterDawn: News

E3 2014: Bloodborne for PS4 debut trailer released

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Jun 2014 19:47

E3 2014: Bloodborne for PS4 debut trailer released A notable PlayStation 4 exclusive shown off at E3 this year is Bloodborne, being developed by FromSoftware and SCE Japan Studio.

It is being directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki (Dark Souls) and is expected to be released sometime in 2015. Screenshots of the game had leaked onto the Internet weeks before E3, but the title wasn't revealed until the press briefing.

Bloodborne is set in the ancient city of Yharnam which is plagued with a strange endemic illness spreading through its population. The player will engage in a struggle to uncover secrets of the dreary city in order to survive.

Check out the trailer.


AfterDawn: News

E3 2014: No Man's Sky gameplay trailer

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Jun 2014 19:35

E3 2014: No Man's Sky gameplay trailer One title that received a lot of attention at E3 so far is No Man's Sky, being developed by Hello Games.

No Man's Sky is set in a Sci-Fi Universe and will feature a procedurally generated open world, in which players can explore planets, deep oceans, discover life and so on. Environments in new undiscovered worlds will vary from mild to absolutely hostile.

Information gained about new planets, species and so forth can be shared with other players. Of course, there are also battles in space to keep you occupied.

It looks like a very ambitious project and it will be interesting where it goes.

Check out the trailer shown at E3 this year.


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