Tops Stories for the Week of April 12, 2017

  • Episode 499
  • April 12, 2017
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday April 12, 2017

A new consumer system from Microsoft boasts speeds of over six teraflops.

Microsoft's revealed the specs for some forthcoming hardware and it's nothing short of impressive.

At the heart of the device will be a system-on-chip packing eight custom x86 CPU cores clocking up to 2.3GHz apiece, plus 40 (yes forty) GPU cores at 1172MHz apiece for a total of over six teraflops of graphics-crunching capacity. 12GB of GDDR5 RAM will enjoy memory bandwidth of 326GB/s. A 1.2TB hard disk and 4K Blu-Ray rounds things out.

Sadly this is not a new desktop computer or server: it's the next XBOX, aka “Project Scorpio”.

Microsoft revealed the specs on Friday.

Project Scorpio will be a significant device because all the power described above is there so that games can deliver 4K video and virtual reality.

The new XBox goes on sale in time for Christmas.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

A hacker set off all the warning sirens in Dallas.

A hacker has been blamed for setting off more than 150 warning sirens in the US city of Dallas over the weekend.

The sirens are usually used to warn of extreme weather events such as tornadoes.

All 156 sirens in the city were activated at 11:42 PM on Friday and the noise lasted for about 90 minutes.

Technicians for the Office of Emergency Management were eventually able to shut the warning system down and find what they said was evidence that the siren system had been hacked.

Last year, someone hacked into a number of traffic signs in Dallas and used them to publish jokes. There has been no suggestion that the same people were involved in the sirens incident.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Hackers can use a simple javascript code to get your smartphone's pin from sensor data.

Modern smartphones have a wealth of sensors inside, from accelerometers to gyroscopes. While sensors like these make the phones more powerful—allowing you to use your phone’s orientation as an input mechanism in a video game, for example—they also present a potential way for hackers to figure out a four-digit pin.

Computer scientists from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found that by monitoring sensors like the phone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, which detect things like the device’s motion and orientation, they were able to figure out a user’s pin 74 percent of the time on just the first guess. That number rose to 94 percent by the third try.

The entry point for the attack to detect the PIN was a javascript exploit delivered through the browser on the phone. All a smartphone user had to do was click on a link that had malicious software that would then detect the phone’s sensor data in the background.

In the case of Safari, the method worked even when the phone was locked after the link had been clicked on, meaning that it could then detect the pin typed in to unlock the phone. One researcher says they reported their findings to Apple who has since fixed the exploit. That fix happened last year as part of the iOS 9.3 update.

Kevin Fu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan has said, “Sensors may represent the weakest link in IoT security. So ubiquitous, yet so untrustworthy and so poorly understood.”


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

Mark Shuttleworth is shaking things up in the Ubuntu world, putting an immediate halt to Unity and switching Ubunto to GNOME.

Canonical is to stop developing Unity 8, convergence, Ubuntu Phones and tablets, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will use GNOME instead of Unity as its default desktop.

Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth may be returning as the Canonical's CEO--a role he stepped down from in 2009.

He indeed announced that Unity would be dropped with GNOME being the desktop of choice for Ubuntu moving forward.

He says Canonical “will invest in Ubuntu GNOME with the intent of delivering a fantastic all-GNOME desktop.”


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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