AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

SpaceX runs successful Crew Dragon tests after explosion

Written by James Delahunty @ 14 Nov 2019 1:44

SpaceX runs successful Crew Dragon tests after explosion SpaceX has successfully run tests on its human-rated Crew Dragon capsule following an unfortunate explosion earlier this year.

The launch provider sent a Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station back in March this year. The mission was a success with a nominal launch and docking of the Crew Dragon to the station. After a few days, it left the ISS and returned to the surface of the Earth.

Unfortunately for SpaceX and NASA's short term goals, the same Crew Dragon that was docked to the ISS for several days subsequently exploded during a test in April. This pushed things back while SpaceX investigated the cause of the explosion during the tests, delaying America's return to human space flight following the retirement of the space shuttle.

Last month, SpaceX CEO met with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne following a public spat between the two. It was sparked by a tweet sent by Bridenstine that seemed to remind SpaceX of its delays in the crew launch area as the firm was showing off its latest developments with Starship.

SpaceX found that the explosion was due to a leak of a liquid oxidizer into high pressure helium tubes due to a fault component. The test was being carried out on the vehicle's launch escape system, which would separate the capsule from a failing rocket during ascent, protecting the lives of the astronauts on board.


AfterDawn: News

Rockstar Games apologizes for Red Dead Redemption 2 PC issues

Written by James Delahunty @ 14 Nov 2019 1:28

Rockstar Games apologizes for Red Dead Redemption 2 PC issues Rockstar Games has provided an update for frustrated PC gamers after a rocky launch for its Read Dead Redemption 2 title on the platform.

Rockstar said it has been working around to clock to address issues that have affected RDD2 players since it launched last week, but acknowledged that despite the work there are still issues for some players. The developer identified game stuttering issues and linked them to "unforeseen issues related to specific combinations of Nvidia graphics drivers, Nvidia GPU cards and certain CPU's."

It is rolling out an update that will address the stuttering issue alongside other fixes, but it is still working with Nvidia to completely resolve the stuttering issue. It may take a few days for the developer to properly test new updates before they can be pushed out.

"We sincerely apologize for this temporary inconvenience and will update you as soon as we have more information to share," Rockstar said in a press release.

Players who are experience issues should report them at the Rockstar Games website here.

"And as a show of gratitude to our PC fans while we sort this out in the coming days, everyone who plays Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC this week and through to the holiday season will receive a complimentary care package for Red Dead Online that includes the Prieto Poncho and an assortment of provisions and ammo. Look for more details on the care package to come."

AfterDawn: News

Netflix and Nickelodeon to produce more original content

Written by James Delahunty @ 14 Nov 2019 1:17

Netflix and Nickelodeon to produce more original content Netflix and Nickelodeon have announced a new deal to produce new animated content for Netflix' streaming service.

Under the new deal, the pair will produce new animated content based on Nickelodeon characters from its extensive library. Netflix has worked with Nickelodeon before on content like Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, and Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling.

Forthcoming content will also include specials based on The Loud House and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

"Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit," said Netflix vice president of original animation, Melissa Cobb.

"We're thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix."

The announcement comes after Disney launched the Disney+ streaming service on Tuesday. Disney+ attracted ten million users in its first two days despite technical glitches.

AfterDawn: News

Google Chrome to shame slow websites

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Nov 2019 5:42

Google Chrome to shame slow websites Google's Chrome Browser will soon show varied warnings about slow loading webpages.

At some point in the near future, users of Google's Chrome Browser will start to see various flags and warnings about slow loading webpages as they browse the web. Google engineers refer to this planned practice as "speed badging", with the ultimate goal to alert users to slow websites and give some explanation as to why they are so slow.

The warnings will vary from text to graphic warnings that reflect the reasons for the delays. A webpage could load slowly if it uses inefficient coding, for example. However, the problem with the slow loading of a webpage may not lie with the developer of that particular website at all.

These days, a lot of page load delays are caused by the inclusion of third party elements in the webpage. These can include advertisers that have to be provided by the servers of an ad network (Google Adsence, for example). Another common element is the inclusion of analytics code which can require third party services (Google Analytics, for example).

More common nowadays again is the inclusion of social media and other gadgets, which also require the web browser to connect to third party servers to load elements.


AfterDawn: News

Disney+ hits technical snags on launch day

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Nov 2019 5:40

Disney+ hits technical snags on launch day Despite technical glitches affecting the new streaming service from the entertainment giant, Disney is positive about the reasons for the disruptions.

Some users who have signed up for the new Disney+ streaming service have experienced some technical difficulties on launch day. One common problem is the appearance of a blue screen featuring an image of Mickey Mouse, accompanied by a message instructing the user to exit the app and try again.

Whatever the glitches may be, Disney has explained that the problems are down to heavier demand for the new service that was anticipated for launch day.

"The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our highest expectations. ... we are aware of the current user issues and are working to swiftly resolve them," Disney said in a statement, reports Reuters.

While that's a bummer for affected customers, this is a good sign for Disney as it aims to take on rivals in space including Netflix. Disney+ costs $7 a month and provides access to a library of around 500 films and over 3,500 TV show episodes from the company's extensive catalog.

AfterDawn: News

Netflix to halt on older Samsung Smart TVs, Roku boxes

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Nov 2019 1:42

Netflix to halt on older Samsung Smart TVs, Roku boxes If you have an older Samsung Smart Television then Netflix might not work anymore in a few weeks' times.

Due to the technical limitations of older devices, Netflix and other such services often have to kill official support for apps on those devices. The latest roundup of devices that will not have Netflix soon include several Samsung smart televisions and older Roku set top boxes.

Specifically, Samsung has confirmed that some of its Vizio line-up of smart TVs sold from around 8-9 years ago will no longer support Netflix from December 2nd. This is an unfortunate long term cost of being an early adopter of any new product.

"Netflix has announced that due to technical limitations, as of December 2, 2019, the Netflix streaming service will no longer be supported on several consumer electronics devices, including some from Samsung. This change will impact select 2010 and 2011 Samsung Smart TV models that were sold in the U.S. and Canada. Affected devices will receive a notification reflecting this change."

It's not the end of the world if your television is affected however. Things have changed dramatically since 2010 with streaming devices like Chromecast carrying a wide range of supported services with a low cost. A new Chromecast would not only fix the Netflix problem on your old Samsung TV, it would be an upgrade compared to the old functionality.


AfterDawn: News

App Defense: Play Store apps to get further scanning for malware

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Nov 2019 1:31

App Defense: Play Store apps to get further scanning for malware Google has partnered with several security firms in forming a group that aims to detect and prevent malware-laden apps from getting onto the Play Store.

There are currently more than 2.5 billion Android devices in the wild. Most get their apps from Google's Play Store. While Google does have systems in place to find malicious apps and prevent them from being published to the service, some do slip through the cracks from time to time.

In order to fight back, Google has announced the App Defense Alliance. Its members include ESET, Google, Lookout, and Zimperium. Google's Play Protect detection systems will be integrated with the partner's scanning engines.

Apps queued for publishing will face intense scrutiny from the technologies of each member of the alliance. Their systems use a combination of machine learning and static/dynamic analysis to detect abusive behavior. Google's position is that more eyes are better for detecting problems ahead of time.

For more info: App Defense Alliance

AfterDawn: News

Tesla to reveal 'cyberpunk' electric pickup truck

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Nov 2019 5:01

Tesla to reveal 'cyberpunk' electric pickup truck Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced when the company will show off its electric pickup truck.

Musk previously suggested that Ford's F-150 is a benchmark model for its electric pickup truck, which he says has a "cyberpunk" design. The goal, Musk said at a recent shareholder meeting, is that the Tesla pickup will meet or exceed the abilities of the Ford F-150.

The world will get a look at Tesla's take on an electric pickup on November 21 in Los Angeles. Musk announced the date and location on Twitter.

He went on to tweet that the date was strangely familiar, along with a link to the Opening Titles of the original Blade Runner, which is set in November 2019.

AfterDawn: News

Pirate Bay criminal investigation closes in Sweden

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Nov 2019 8:21

Pirate Bay criminal investigation closes in Sweden A criminal investigation resulting from a data center raid almost five years ago has come to a close with no conviction.

In December 2014, police raided a data center in Sweden. The action brought down several major BitTorrent websites and pushed the notorious Pirate Bay offline for around two months. As part of the investigation, police targeted Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij.

Prosecutors reportedly had evidence against Neij, but as of now, the case is formally closed. Under Swedish law, the prosecution needed to reach Neij for "final serving", which gives a defendant a chance to review the evidence in a case.

In the five years since the December 2014 raid, the prosecution failed to reach Neij for final serving, and now the time has run out. The statute of limitations has expired and so no case related to the 2014 raid can be made against him.

"The investigation was closed because the statute of limitations expired," prosecutor Anna Ginner told TorrentFreak.

"The investigation was finished. However, we did not manage to contact the suspect to give him the possibility to review the investigation on final serving."

While the criminal case is now closed, the aftermath of the raid did result in a tug of war over the domain, which ended up in possession of the Swedish state.


AfterDawn: News

Avast prevents attack targeting CCleaner

Written by James Delahunty @ 23 Oct 2019 12:27

Avast prevents attack targeting CCleaner Avast has detailed how it prevented a suspected supply chain attack on the popular CCleaner software product.

CCleaner had been targeted in such an attack in 2017 and led to Piriform unknowingly distributing malware with the installer for the better part of a month. Attackers had successfully breached the development environment and made malicious modifications before distribution.

Avast has confirmed that it has prevented a similar incident from occurring. It has detailed "Abiss" in a blog post; a suspected supply chain attack on the CCleaner product. The most important detail is that the attempt was unsuccessful and no users of the product were exposed to malware as a result.

The clues that something was amiss started with a false positive in the form of a MS ATA alert of a malicious replication of directory services from an internal IP belonged to Avast's VPN address range. Further analysis found the attacker was attempting to gain access to the network through the VPN as early as May 14, 2019.

The user, whose credentials were apparently compromised and associated with the IP, did not have domain admin privileges. However, the attacker managed to gain domain admin privileges through a successful privilege investigation.


AfterDawn: News

Hong Kong: Blizzard reduces suspension for pro gamer, will pay him prize money

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Oct 2019 6:01

Hong Kong: Blizzard reduces suspension for pro gamer, will pay him prize money Blizzard has spoken publicly on this week's controversial decision to suspend a pro gamer and withhold his prize after a Hearthstone tournament.

Pro gamer Ng Wai Chung, better known as Blitzchung was banned for a year earlier this week. He had voices support for the Hong Kong protesters in an interview after the tournament, while wearing a gas mask. "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age," he said.

Following this decision, a boycott of Blizzard trended on social media and fans tried to delete their accounts in solidarity. J. Allen Brack, Prsident of Blizzard Entertainment, published an open letter to fans about the incident.

"Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong--in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action," Brack writes.

"The official broadcast needs to be about the tournament and to be a place where all are welcome. In support of that, we want to keep the official channels focused on the game."

Brack also stressed that the specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decisions made, adding that Blizzard's relations in China has no influence on them. However, over the past few days Blizzard has received criticism and complaints from players, casters, esports fans, and employees and Brack acknowledges that the company reacted too quickly and that its process wasn't adequate.


AfterDawn: News

Facebook's Libra loses backing of financial, payment companies

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Oct 2019 5:59

Facebook's Libra loses backing of financial, payment companies Facebook's digital currency Libra has suffered another blow ahead of its launch as all of the payment processors backing it have pulled their support.

The decision of several companies comes after PayPal decided to drop out of the Libra Association, the group that will develop and maintain Libra. It has now been followed by MasterCard, Visa, Stripe, Ebay and Mercado Pago. "Visa has decided not to join the Libra Association at this time," the company said in a statement.

"We will continue to evaluate and our ultimate decision will be determined by a number of factors, including the Association's ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations."

Co-creator of Libra, David Marcus took to Twitter to respond to the news.


AfterDawn: News

Google working on 'negative latency' for Stadia cloud-gaming platform

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Oct 2019 2:19

Google working on 'negative latency' for Stadia cloud-gaming platform Questions about latency arose as soon as Google announced its cloud gaming service Stadia, but Google is apparently aiming for 'negative latency' with the service.

Latency concerns are entirely understandable. It is one thing when the input from controllers travels over a wire to a PC or console, or short range wireless connection. It is an entirely different thing when the input from the controller or other devices has to travel across the Internet, and the result has to be streamed back to you. Latency seems almost inevitable.

Significant latency and lag could seriously hurt Google's platform when it launches in November. However, the company has been working on it and Majd Bakar, VP of Engineering at Stadia, has even invoked 'negative latency'.

This is a peculiar term since it conjures up thoughts of an input command being received and the result being streamed back to you before you even sent the input. However, it is likely a term that hints at how things work at the back-end. There are suggestions that what Bakar means is that the Google system will predict input controls and constantly render frames ahead of time, and then quickly determine which predictions were correct and send the appropriate frames.


AfterDawn: News

Update iTunes to fix bug exploited by ransomware

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Oct 2019 2:16

Update iTunes to fix bug exploited by ransomware An iTunes update has fixed a vulnerability in an iTunes service that a particular strain of ransomware was using to hide itself from anti-virus software.

The ransomware - identified as BitPaymer - was found to be exploiting a zero-day bug in the Bonjour update component that runs in the background in Windows. This service is installed when iTunes is installed in Windows and actually remains on the system even when iTunes is uninstalled later on.

Specifically, the ransomware exploited an "unquoted service path" vulnerability in Bonjour which let the ransomware hijack its execution path. This would launch the ransomware and would also fly under the radar of many antivirus utilities.

Apple has since updated the flawed Bonjour component which you can update by installing the latest version of iTunes. You can get iTunes for Windows 32-bit from here, or you can get iTunes for Windows 64-bit from here.

Remember, even if you uninstalled iTunes before, the Bonjour component remains and will be unpatched unless you install the latest iTunes. If you want to get rid of Bonjour it should be listed with all other programs in "Programs & Features" in the Control Panel in Windows.


AfterDawn: News

YouTube TV subscribers can gift two week free trials to friends

Written by James Delahunty @ 11 Oct 2019 2:12

YouTube TV subscribers can gift two week free trials to friends Subscribers of YouTube TV services can gift special two week free trials to their friends and families for a limited time period.

YouTube has sent out emails to customers of its YouTube TV service. In the e-mails are codes that subscribers can send to their friends and families to redeem a special two week free trial of the service. Usually, new users to YouTube TV only get a five day free trial of the service, so if you know any YouTube TV subscribers now would be a good time to nag them to send on the code.

"So, we're giving you a special two week extended free trial code to share with friends and family who might like to try YouTube TV for the first time," the e-mail reads.

"After all, whether they're entertainment lovers or sports fans, with 70+ channels and unlimited DVR space, there's something for pretty much everyone, right?"

YouTube sets no specific limit on the number of times a code can be redeemed but reserves the right to impose its own cap. Presumably this would happen if a subscriber decides to post the code somewhere publicly for anyone to redeem. There is also a time limit on this offer.

Codes must be redeemed by October 16, 2019.


Latest user comments

News archive