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Security firm releases evidence of alleged military-backed Chinese hacking group at work

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 9:39 am

Security firm Mandiant has come out with quite the startling report titled "APT1: Exposing One of China's Cyber Espionage Units", which has tracked the alleged military-backed Chinese hacking group dubbed as Advanced Persistent Threat 1 all the way back to 2006.



Mandiant have written "Our analysis has led us to conclude that APT1 is likely government-sponsored and one of the most persistent of China's cyber threat actors." The group is also believed to be the 2nd Bureau of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Department's (GSD) 3rd Department, otherwise known as Unit 61398.


The New York Times have written about it, where they worked off an advance copy of the report, which led them to buildings in Shanghai which they believe is where the unit is based. The Times then encountered persistent attacks from Chinese hackers last year, where they worked with Mandiant to monitor and block the intrusions into their network.

Continue reading 'Security firm releases evidence of alleged military-backed Chinese hacking group at work' (full post)

Firefox 19 is available for Windows, Mac and Linux ahead of its official launch tomorrow

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Internet Browsers | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 8:36 am

Firefox 19 isn't going to officially launch until tomorrow, but you can get your hands on the latest version of Mozilla's browser for Windows, Mac and Linux right now.




You can download it directly from Mozilla's FTP server, or you can wait until the official launch and continue to check the Firefox website. Mozilla's blog also provides information about the release if it's significant enough, like Firefox 19. If you are using Firefox as your mobile browser, you might want to also keep an eye on the Google Play Store, too, as it should launch for Android tomorrow.

US scientists working on way to turn plastic bags into batteries

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 7:38 am

Scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory are working on something truly incredible, where they are converting plastic bags into batteries - yes, you read that right. Vilas Pol, a Chemist with the laboratory was interviewed by Al Jazeera, where he cut a plastic bag and eventually turned it into a battery.




Pol did this by cutting plastic bags into bits, puts the pieces of plastic bag into a metal tube, adds a 'catalyst', and heats it to 700C. In three hours, a fine black-colored powder - carbon. This carbon sells for $150 per gram, making it worth more than gold. Within a few minutes, the carbon can be converted into a watch battery. Scientists are now working on making this technology cheaper.


The more energy pushed into the battery, the cheaper the battery can get - which is the main driving force of storing more energy into the battery itself. The US government is set to invest $120 million into the project, to create smaller batteries that would eventually be used in smartphones, right up to electric cars.

Continue reading 'US scientists working on way to turn plastic bags into batteries' (full post)

Google could cut illegal sites funding off, would only push them to use Bitcoins

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 6:36 am

In an effort to stem the unending stream of pirated material, search giant Google could do something unprecedented (I feel like I'm writing a speech for Obama using that word) and block all funding to websites offering links to pirated material.




This could be films, music, books, games - you name it - any site that is making money from illegal material. Google's plans, while still in the discussion stage, would see them block funding to websites that don't respond to legal challenges, such as being offshore. If this does go ahead, it wouldn't be the first time a website has had its funding cut off, where we saw donations to WikiLeaks cut off from Mastercard, PayPal and Visa back in 2011.


Google would have no troubles getting the support of book publishing firms, or the music and film industries, who would like to see those extra 0's in their bank accounts instead of piracy websites. Google are aware that their move could have unintended consequences - which I'm sure we'll see Anonymous pop up and have a word or two of input - but the Mountain View-based search giant could iron out some issues in the coming months, and put their plan into action in the spring.

Continue reading 'Google could cut illegal sites funding off, would only push them to use Bitcoins' (full post)

Bill Gates talks about the current Microsoft CEO's performance, talks of their mistakes with the mobile market and more

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 5:29 am

During an interview with CBS' Charlie Rose, Founder and Chairman of Microsoft, the infamous Bill Gates, talked about a number of things with the Redmond-based everything giant.



The most interesting part of the interview were Gates' comments on the mobile industry, and how they didn't jump out of the gate early enough - allowing Apple and Google to capitilize on this. Gates also discussed the performance of Steve Ballmer, the current CEO of Microsoft, saying that he and Ballmer were two of the most self-critical people he knew, and that there are plenty of great things Microsoft have achieved under Ballmer's leadership over the last twelve months.


Gates pointed to Windows 8 and Surface as being the key to the future, but he did add that this simply isn't enough. I think the big change that Microsoft will go through - well, I hope they do anyway - is Xbox. I hope they really push the platform and not forget the PC this time. If they were to combine these worlds, they would be truly unstoppable - not only against Apple, but Google, Sony and Nintendo.

Continue reading 'Bill Gates talks about the current Microsoft CEO's performance, talks of their mistakes with the mobile market and more' (full post)

Tizen 2.0 SDK and source code arrives, boasts a bunch of new features

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Operating Systems | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 4:39 am

Last September, an early release of Tizen 2.0 popped its head up, but disappeared back into its hibernation until now. The SDK and source code to Tizen 2.0 is now out, dropping its Alpha name.




Tizen 2.0 has now had some enhanced support injected into it, with HTML5 getting some amplification, as well as better Web UI framework that provides full-screen and multi-window features. Developers can now use the new hardware APIs for Bluetooth and NFC support, as well as access a device's call history, calendar and messaging "subsystems".


The updated OS now includes support for background applications, text-to-speech and IP Push, as well as reference applications including calendar, gallery and a phone app. Native IDE and an improved web development environment have been included with the latest code. More information is available here.

Doom screenshot gets remastered from 320x240 to a pixel-busting 9600x7211

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 3:36 am

I still remember playing Doom and thinking it was just incredible at the time, but to fast-forward to now and think our smartphones have superior resolutions to the once superior 320x240 is scary.



Well, a Deviant Art user going by the name Elemental79 has converted a simple 320x240 pixel screenshot from Doom, to an absolutely gorgeous 9600x7211. This includes textures, lighting and 3D effects, all done within Photoshop. Elemental79 has said that:




Each frame represents ten seconds of work. The image spans across 7 PSD files at a resolution of 9600x7211 pixels. The project took 35 hours to complete over the course of 8 days.

Continue reading 'Doom screenshot gets remastered from 320x240 to a pixel-busting 9600x7211' (full post)

Raspberry Leaf is a print-at-home cover for the GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Science, Space & Robotics | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 1:32 am

For Raspberry Pi prototypers, it's sometimes hard to remember which GPIO pin is which. That's where Dr. Simon Monk's Raspberry Leaf comes in handy. This simple piece of paper that can be printed at home goes over the top of the pins and reminds you which is which. You can see it in action below:




It's these simple ideas that can make people millions. Luckily, Dr Monk is part of the DIY community and is releasing the idea and template for everyone to use. You can download the image file and print it out at home from Dr. Monk's website.

FCC broadband monitoring data shows half of ISPs fall short of advertised speed

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 1:02 am

It's long been a contention that the advertised speeds are an "up to" rating meaning that the ISP doesn't actually have to provide that speed. Consumers generally expect that the advertised speed is the speed that they will be receiving at their house. The FCC monitors the actual versus advertised speed and has reported some data for September of last year.




According to the FCC's data, more than half of the major ISPs failed to meet the advertised download speed. An additional three meet the advertised speed when averaged over 24 hours, but fell short of the advertised speed during the peak hours of 7-11p.m. The chart of data can be seen above. Upload speeds can be seen below.




When it comes to upload, the companies performed better. Only four of the 15 companies didn't provide advertised upload speeds. It just goes to show that not all ISPs are created equal.

Sprint starts LTE rollout in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Feb 19, 2013 12:31 am

Users of Sprint with 4G LTE devices in Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York City should be able to pick up spotty LTE coverage. It appears that Sprint has started flipping the switch on towers in those cities without making an official announcement. It's likely they're testing the towers ahead of an official launch.




Coverage has been spotty meaning that not all towers have been turned on. Once the coverage is officially announced and made live, users should expect a blanket of LTE goodness. Sprint has confirmed that the cell towers were turned on for testing and that the company decided to leave them on until the official announcement so that users could continue using LTE.