How the CIA Allegedly Turns Everyday Devices into High-Tech Spy WeaponsPosted: March 8, 2017 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Mediasphere, Science & Technology, White House | Tags: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Big Brother, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, Edward Snowden, Google, IOS, iPad, iPhone, Smart TV, Spying, WikiLeaks | 1 Comment
‘This essentially gives our enemies a playbook on how we go about our clandestine cyber-operations.’
Bruce Golding, Jamie Schram and Mark Moore report: CIA software can secretly turn everyday electronics like smartphones and high-tech TVs into listening devices to spy on unsuspecting users, WikiLeaks claimed in a massive document dump Tuesday.
Some of the computer programs target the iOS software that runs Apple iPhones as well as Google’s Android operating system, which does the same for phones built by Samsung, HTC and Sony, WikiLeaks said.
The “weaponized” software also reportedly provides techniques to defeat the encryption abilities of popular apps including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Wiebo, which claim to supply users with secure and private communications.
One program, known as “Weeping Angel,” can even be used to infect Samsung “smart” TVs and covertly activate their built-in microphones to record conversations and then transmit them over the internet, WikiLeaks said.
[Read the full story here, at New York Post]
The documents also reveal that the CIA as of 2014 was “looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” WikiLeaks said.
“The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” WikiLeaks suggested.
Although it posted online nearly 9,000 documents and files related to the Orwellian tools — a cache it called “Year Zero — WikiLeaks said it had decided to hold off on releasing the actual software.
“WikiLeaks has carefully reviewed the ‘Year Zero’ disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should be analyzed, disarmed and published,” the hack clearinghouse said in a press release.
There is nothing in the WikiLeaks documents to suggest that the CIA — which is charged with obtaining foreign intelligence for national security purposes — uses any of these devices to spy on American citizens.
The CIA refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the WikiLeaks information, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t comment, saying it “has not been fully evaluated.”
A retired CIA operative told The Post that the WikiLeaks disclosure could cripple the agency’s high-tech surveillance capabilities.
“This essentially gives our enemies a playbook on how we go about our clandestine cyber-operations,” the former agent said.
“This will be bad for the agency. They will have to re-examine its procedures for doing this type of work.”
Cybersecurity experts said the material appeared genuine.
Jake Williams of Rendition InfoSec, who has experience dealing with government hackers, noted the files’ repeated references to operation security.
“I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern,” he said. “It rings true to me.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Wikileaks CIA Stash May Prove Interesting, But Not Necessarily for the HacksPosted: March 8, 2017 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Science & Technology, War Room | Tags: Android (operating system), Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Central Intelligence Agency, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Hillary Clinton, National Security Agency, RUSSIA, United States, Whatsapp, White House, WikiLeaks | Leave a comment
The software tools revealed by the leak are sinister, unsurprising—and potentially politically explosive.
Jamie Condliffe writes: Wikileaks has released a huge number of files that it claims to be the “largest ever publication of confidential documents” from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. It includes details of a number of hacking tools, though at first blush they don’t appear to be as incendiary as their potential political ramifications.
“To be sure, such hacks are sinister. But if we learned anything from Snowden’s disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance programs in 2013, it’s that government agencies feel it necessary to hack any technology the public chooses to use.”
The controversial organization published the first tranche of what it says will become a vast collection called Vault 7 on the morning of March 7. The first wave, called Year Zero, contains 8,761 documents and files from between 2013 and 2016.
At this point in time it’s impossible to have scoured the entire database. But Wikileaks claims that it contains descriptions of tools from the CIA’s hacking program. They are said to include malware that can turn Samsung TVs into covert listening posts, tools to remotely control vehicles, and a number of means to render encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal redundant.
[Read the full story here, at MIT Technology Review]
None of these approaches are particularly earth-shattering. Samsung had already admitted that its smart TVs could effectively spy on you. Security consultants showed that they could remotely control a Jeep Cherokee two years ago.
“None of these approaches are particularly earth-shattering. Samsung had already admitted that its smart TVs could effectively spy on you.”
And as Edward Snowden points out, the files don’t reveal a problem with encrypted messaging services themselves, though they do reveal that the CIA has a number of targeted exploits that allow them to gain partial remote access to iOS and Android. Read the rest of this entry »
Facebook Is Trying Everything to Re-Enter China—and It’s Not WorkingPosted: January 30, 2017 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Asia, Censorship, China, Global | Tags: Android (operating system), Beijing, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Facebook, Google, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hugo Barra, Majority rule, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan (philanthropist), Xiaomi | 3 Comments
Since regulators blocked the service in 2009, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has hired well-connected executives, developed censorship tools and taken a ‘smog jog’ in Beijing—but the company has made no visible headway.
Such permits typically give Western firms an initial China beachhead. This one, which Facebook won in late 2015, could have been a sign Beijing was ready to give the company another chance to connect with China’s roughly 700 million internet users, reopening the market as the social-media giant’s U.S.-growth prospects dimmed.
There was a catch. Facebook’s license was for three months, unusually short. Facebook executives found the limitation unexpected and frustrating, people familiar with the episode said.
Facebook never opened the office. The official posting disappeared and now exists as a ghost in cached versions of the government website. “We did, at one point in time, plan to have an office,” said Facebook spokeswoman Charlene Chian, “but we don’t today.”
[Read the full story here, at WSJ]
The episode is part of Facebook’s running tale of woe in China, where it has been trying to set the stage for a return. Blocked on China’s internet since 2009, Facebook has courted Chinese officials, made Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg more visible in China, hired a well-connected China-policy chief and begun developing technology that could cull content the Communist Party deems unacceptable.
It has made no visible headway. And as time passes, Facebook is watching from the outside as Chinese social-media giants mop up the market that might have been its own. Weibo, along with Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and QQ, are now dominant in China, and it may be too late for Facebook, said industry executives including Kai-Fu Lee, Google’s former China head and now CEO of Innovation Works, a Chinese incubator.
“At this stage and time with WeChat, Weibo and other products, it’s hopeless,” Mr. Lee said.
Facebook also faces a wary central government, which blamed social media for stirring ethnic unrest in 2009 and remains uneasy with Facebook’s ability to be a dissidents’ megaphone, said industry executives and others who deal with Beijing regulators. And government censorship would be a prerequisite, under Chinese law, for Facebook to re-enter China.
“It’s important for Facebook to respect the laws and regulations of China,” said Guo Weimin, vice minister of the State Council Information Office. “The Chinese government has always had an open approach to social-media networks. Cooperation with new media is welcome on our side.”
Mr. Zuckerberg, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has said he considers China crucial to Facebook’s future. “Obviously you can’t have a mission of wanting to connect everyone in the world and leave out the biggest country,” he told analysts in 2015. “Over the long term, that is a situation we will need to figure out a way forward on.”
His drive has had fits and starts. He scored a high-profile board seat at one of China’s top universities to build inroads with Chinese officials but didn’t attend the body’s meeting last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Why It’ll Be Hard for Trump to Surpass Obama’s Record of Chilling Press FreedomPosted: January 27, 2017 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Censorship, History, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: American Civil Liberties Union, Android (operating system), Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Obama administration, Presidency of Barack Obama, President of the United States, Twitter, White House | 3 Comments
Many in the mainstream media are reacting with righteous indignation over comments from a senior Trump adviser suggesting the administration views the traditional media as an opponent. But if we’re to take these apostles of press freedom seriously, they should first explain why the Trump Administration is worse than the Obama Administration.
After all, the Obama Administration literally tried imprisoning an uncooperative journalist, monitored journalists’ every digital move, and “hammered” at least one challenging reporter with IRS audits.
Let’s rewind the tape.
The Obama Administration began with lofty promises of being “the most transparent administration in history.” Instead it ended up setting a record, by the Associated Press’s count, for denying the most Freedom of Information Act requests.
[Read the full story here, at Grabien News]
As the administration’s popularity began tumbling early into its first year, the Obama White House declared war on Fox News. The White director of communications, Anita Dunn, warned they would henceforth treat Fox News “like an opponent,” insisting, “we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”
The Obama administration made good on that threat. Soon thereafter, the administration sought to deny Fox News’ participation in executive branch news-making events — which only failed after other networks admirably refused to participate if Fox News were excluded.
As you’ll see in the montage above, President Obama blamed Fox News and talk radio for virtually every problem his administration encountered, warning in his waning days that these “domestic propagandists” were far more damaging to America than any interference from hostile powers like Russia.
When Fox News’s State Department correspondent, James Rosen, reported accurate information about North Korea leaked by a member of the Obama State Department, Eric Holder ordered his movements to be tracked, his phone records seized, and went “judge shopping” until he found one willing to grant such a warrant without telling Rosen himself. Holder even told Google to not notify Rosen that the government was monitoring his email.
“To treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job — seeking out information the government doesn’t want made public — deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based,” the Washington Post wrote at the time. Read the rest of this entry »
Will Machines Ever Become Human?Posted: January 22, 2017 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Mediasphere, Robotics, Science & Technology, Think Tank | Tags: AlphaGo, Android (operating system), Andy Rubin, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous car, Bloomberg L.P., Bumper sticker, Bureau of Labor Statistics, David Gelernter, Machine learning | Leave a comment
David Gelernter writes: No. Digital computers won’t; and in the world as we know it, they are the only candidate machines.
What does “human” mean? Humans are conscious and intelligent — although it’s curiously easy to imagine one attribute without the other. An intelligent but unconscious being is a “zombie” in science fiction — and to philosophers and technologists too. We can also imagine a conscious non-intelligence. It would experience its environment as a flow of unidentified, meaningless sensations engendering no mental activity beyond mere passive awareness.
Some day, digital computers will almost certainly be intelligent. But they will never be conscious. One day we are likely to face a world full of real zombies and the moral and philosophical problems they pose. I’ll return to these hard questions.
The possibility of intelligent computers has obsessed mankind since Alan Turing first raised it formally in 1950. Turing was vague about consciousness, which he thought unnecessary to machine intelligence. Many others have been vague since. But artificial consciousness is surely as fascinating as artificial intelligence.
Digital computers won’t ever be conscious; they are made of the wrong stuff (as the philosopher John Searle first argued in 1980). A scientist, Searle noted, naturally assumes that consciousness results from the chemical and physical structure of humans and animals — as photosynthesis results from the chemistry of plants. (We assume that animals have a sort of intelligence, a sort of consciousness, to the extent they seem human-like.) You can’t program your laptop to transform carbon dioxide into sugar; computers are made of the wrong stuff for photosynthesis — and for consciousness too.
No serious thinker argues that computers today are conscious. Suppose you tell one computer and one man to imagine a rose and then describe it. You might get two similar descriptions, and be unable to tell which is which. But behind these similar statements, a crucial difference. The man can see and sense an imaginary rose in his mind. The computer can put on a good performance, can describe an imaginary rose in detail — but can’t actually see or sense anything. It has no internal mental world; no consciousness; only a blank.
[Read the full text here, at BQO]
Bur some thinkers reject the wrong-stuff argument and believe that, once computers and software grow powerful and sophisticated enough, they will be conscious as well as intelligent.
They point to a similarity between neurons, the brain’s basic component, and transistors, the basic component of computers. Both neurons and transistors transform incoming electrical signals to outgoing signals. Now a single neuron by itself is not conscious, not intelligent. But gather lots together in just the right way and you get the brain of a conscious and intelligent human. A single transistor seems likewise unpromising. But gather lots together, hook them up right and you will get consciousness, just as you do with neurons.
But this argument makes no sense. One type of unconscious thing (neurons) can create consciousness in the right kind of ensemble. Why should the same hold for other unconscious things? In every other known case, it does not hold. No ensemble of soda cans or grapefruit rinds is likely to yield consciousness. Yes but transistors, according to this argument, resemble neurons in just the right way; therefore they will act like neurons in creating consciousness. But this “exactly right resemblance” is just an assertion, to be taken on trust. Neurons resemble heart cells more closely than they do transistors, but hearts are not conscious. Read the rest of this entry »
The Mechanics of Mechanophilia: Why Men Find Siri SexyPosted: November 15, 2016 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Robotics, Science & Technology | Tags: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Artificial Intelligence, Baby Boomers, CNBC, Facebook, Google Assistant, Internet of Things, IOS 10, iPad, iPhone, Nottingham Trent University, Sexual attraction, Sexual partner, Siri, Virtual assistant | Leave a comment
We all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?
Gareth May writes: How would you feel if you walked in on your flatmate pouring his iPhone a glass of Cristal and remarking on her exceptional ‘wallpaper’? Open mouthed and curious, right? Well, welcome to the future. For some technophiles at least.
Apart from neo-Luddites, we all have relationships with tech. The question is: how far do you go?
A survey from 2012 revealed the extreme level of attachment many of us feel towards our gadgets. It found that three-quarters of the 2,500 people polled said losing a personal device would give them more anxiety than losing a wedding ring. Another from 2016 discloses that nearly 40pc of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than their co-workers, parents, children or friends.
Of course, such interactions could be simply checking the time – and if you started calling your friends to do that they’d think you’d gone batty – but what these stats betray is the shaping of an emotional bond between man and machine that seems to be growing year on year.
“People use things in a sexual way all the time. You could name any object, from a radiator to a tin can, and there’s someone out there that gets sexually aroused by it.”
Sci-fi programmes like Humans, depicting the trouble caused when overly lifelike AI get mixed in with the rest of society, may be fictional, yet our relationship with tech still gets closer and closer. Quite alarmingly close.
Virtual assistants (VA for short), also known as personal assistant A.I.s, are digital secretaries that can schedule meetings, order meals, play audio and visual files, and assess online accounts. Not to be confused with ‘virtual assistants’ that work remotely and are actual people, current VAs on the market include Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and, of course, Apple’s Siri.
“Most new technology seems to turn to porn eventually. Webcams, virtual reality, Internet etc. I see no reason why A.I won’t be included in this. It’ll certainly be cheaper to run phone sex lines with an army of bots instead of having to pay women to answer the phones.”
— Steve Worswick, an expert in the field of digital A.I
Last month, in an interview with The Times, Illy Eckstein, chief executive of Robin Labs, creators of a virtual assistant and satnav known as ‘Robin’, said that 5pc of interactions in their database are classified as “clearly sexually explicit”.
Trawling the Internet for evidence of the above I discovered a Reddit forum titled: ‘I masturbate to Siri and I feel disgusting’. The poster says he’s a 20 year old male, who started talking to Siri sexually as a joke before realising that “it really turned me on.”
The phenomenon clearly has farther reaches than one sole forum post. VA creators and chatbot companies predict such interactions and put algorithmic safeguards in place to deter feelings of emotional and sexual attachment from costumers.
[Read the full story here, at telegraph.uk]
Earlier this year one of the key writers for Microsoft’s Cortana, Deborah Harrison, revealed at the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” regarded Cortana’s ‘sex life’ adding, “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”
Steve Worswick is an expert in the field of digital A.I. He’s also the leading developer of Mitsuku, a family-friendly online chatbot.
“Mechanophilia: love or sexual attraction to computers, cars, robots or androids, washing machines, lawnmowers and other mechanized gardening equipment, sexual relations between living organisms and machines.”
He told Telegraph Men that he used to have a banning system (five strikes and you’re out) for anyone who attempted to have sexually explicit conversations with Mitsuku. However, he received so many emails from people who wanted to treat the bot sexually, that he removed the strike system and instead programmed Mitsuku to either ignore sexual requests, say something to steer the conversation to other topics, or simply insult the user.
Worswick believes men are using Mitsuku in this way and seeing bots as “sex objects” simply because they cannot fight back, have no legal rights, and are not going to judge them or contact the authorities or their wives or girlfriends.
Disney Has Biggest Year Ever at Global Box Office With $5.85 BillionPosted: November 2, 2016 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Art & Culture, Economics, Entertainment, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Alden Ehrenreich, Android (operating system), Avatar (2009 film), Billy Dee Williams, Han Solo, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker, Star Wars, Star Wars: Episode VIII, Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Leave a comment
The studio is home to the four top-grossing films of the year so far — ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ ‘Zootopia,’ ‘Finding Dory‘ and ‘The Jungle Book.’
Pamela McClintock reports: Disney is celebrating yet another milestone at the global box office, fueled by superheroes, talking animals and, of course, the Force.
With two months left to go in 2016, the studio has already posted its biggest year ever worldwide with $5.85 billion through Nov. 1, surpassing its previous record of $5.84 billion in 2015. Better yet, it is virtually assured of setting a new industry record in 2016, besting Universal’s 2015 haul of $6.89 billion.
[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]
“For the second year in a row, the Walt Disney Studios has reached a new high at the box office thanks to an absolutely stellar collection of releases from Disney, Disney Animation, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm,” said Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn in a statement. “This success is a testament to the refined talent and innovative work the entire Studio team puts into making these world-class cinematic experiences.” Read the rest of this entry »
OH NO THEY DIDN’T: Apple Has Dumped $100B in Market Value in Past MonthPosted: January 7, 2016 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Economics, Mediasphere, Science & Technology | Tags: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Battery (electricity), iPhone, Mobile World Congress, Samsung, Samsung Galaxy, Secure Digital, The Wall Street Journal, Universal Serial Bus | Leave a comment
Apple Inc. AAPL, -4.22% shares fell below $100 for the first time in 15 months, gripped by Thursday’s sharp market declines and signs of slowing growth in the two pillars of the company’s recent success: the iPhone and China.
“Signs of weakness in the iPhone, its best-selling and most profitable product, come after new, larger-screen models propelled Apple to record results in its fiscal year ended Sept. 26.”
The Cupertino, Calif., company’s 4.2% drop on the day was greater than the overall market’s slide and the 3% slump in the Nasdaq Composite, which closed down 10% from its May peak. Since early December, Apple has shed $100 billion in market value.
“Buoyed by China’s rising middle class, Apple’s Greater China sales in that period grew 84%, and the company overall posted revenue of $233 billion for the year. Now, both of those growth engines appear at risk.”
Signs of weakness in the iPhone, its best-selling and most profitable product, come after new, larger-screen models propelled Apple to record results in its fiscal year ended Sept. 26. Buoyed by China’s rising middle class, Apple’s Greater China sales in that period grew 84%, and the company overall posted revenue of $233 billion for the year.
[An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.]
Now, both of those growth engines appear at risk. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Apple has cut order forecasts to iPhone suppliers in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter. And China’s economy is slowing sharply, dramatized by plunging stock markets. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Apple’s New Cupertino Campus Construction Shown in Drone VideoPosted: November 4, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Mediasphere, Robotics, Science & Technology | Tags: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Automobile, Automotive industry, California, Cupertino, Electric car, iPhone, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, The Wall Street Journal | Leave a comment
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said the new Cupertino, Calif., campus would house 12,000 employees when he presented the idea in 2011. Drone footage shows that the 2.8-million-square-foot spaceship-like office complex is now taking shape. Photo/Video: YouTube/Duncan Sinfield
After Arrests, Hong Kong Government Quietly Deletes Articles Gushing About UberPosted: August 11, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Censorship, China | Tags: A.T. Kearney, Android (operating system), Arrest, Hong Kong, Terms of service, Twitter, Uber, Uber arrests, World Wide Web | Leave a comment
Laurel Chor writes: While the city’s Type-A, over-privileged, impatient residents complained about yesterday’s arrests of Uber drivers and debated whether that sounded the death knell for the company’s services in Hong Kong, InvestHK quietly erased online evidence that it once gushed about the car-hailing app.
In May, InvestHK, a government department that aims to “attract and retain foreign direct investment”, published a piece proudly talking about the company’s decision to launch in Hong Kong.
Sam Gellman, Uber’s Asia expansion lead, happily provided pro-Hong Kong quotes for the article: “Hong Kong is an incredible city, combining global commerce and local culture, large industry and startup entrepreneurship and innovation. It makes a fantastic regional headquarters for us as expand into the Greater China area.”
InvestHK continued to boast that it had provided Uber with “significant support, including information on public transportation and advice on market entry strategy prior to its launch.
Uber is now probably pretty pissed, and InvestHK likely a widdle bit embarrassed, as the Hong Kong police arrested five Uber drivers and raided the company’s local office, taking away three people. The police said that the drivers were “illegally driving cars for rental purpose” and for operating “without third-party insurance”. Whoopsies! Read the rest of this entry »
Report: New Apple TV to be Unveiled in September, but Without Expected TV Subscription ServicePosted: July 30, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Guns and Gadgets, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Android (operating system), App Store (iOS), Apple Inc, Apple TV, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Buzzfeed, El Capitan, Google Play, IOS, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Siri | Leave a comment
The Apple TV is also expected to gain Siri voice search support in its update this fall, as well as more on-board storage.
Chance Miller reports: According to a new report from BuzzFeed News, Apple is currently planning to unveil its refreshed Apple TV in September. The company had originally planned to unveil the device at WWDC this summer, but scrapped it from the event at the last minute. A September unveil has seemingly been expected since the announcement was pulled from WWDC.
“It was reported in the past that the device will not feature support for 4k content, as Apple feels there is not a large enough market for the feature at this time.”
The report goes on to corroborate much of what we reported earlier this year. The refreshed Apple TV is expected to be slimmer than the current-generation device and will feature Apple’s new A8 chip. Read the rest of this entry »
NOW WHAT DO WE DO? Americans Have Completely Stopped Signing Up for #TwitterPosted: July 28, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: U.S. News | Tags: Android (operating system), Charles Schwab, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Extended hours trading, Marketing, Mobile marketing, Mobile phone, New York City, Short Message Service, T-Mobile, Text messaging | Leave a comment
Twitter must look abroad for ever-important user growth
Twitter on Tuesday posted second quarter earnings of $0.07 per share, beating expectations of $0.04 per share. That good news sent Twitter’s stock up over 4% in after-hours trading early Tuesday afternoon.
But Twitter’s full earnings presentation reveals something else interesting about the service: Americans have pretty much stopped signing up for it.
The number of new American Monthly Active Twitter Users has been gradually getting smaller for a while now, even flatlining once before at the end of last year. Now that’s happened for a second time, with no new U.S. user growth from Q1 2015 to Q2 2015:
Big Moon Presents: Tales From Deep SpacePosted: June 25, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Entertainment, Mediasphere | Tags: A Land Fit for Heroes (Gollancz), Amazon Kindle, Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Apple iPad Air 2, ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7, IOS, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface, Player character | Leave a comment
Come for the luxury, stay for the adventure!
From Amazon Games, and Amazon Games & Apps, I share this item because of the talent involved in the making of the video. It’s written by Pundit Planet favorite author and good buddy Robert Ferrigno. Known for stylish crime fiction novels, nor fiction, and more recently, futurist political fiction, the Assassin series: ‘Prayers for the Assassin, Sins of the Assassin, and Heart of the Assassin, followed by ‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf’ (all available through Amazon, conveniently) Also, a friend of National Review and occasional NRO contributor (this item about author Elmore Leonard, for example) We have some Ferrigno-related news archived here, Robert was an inspiration when this site was being launched, we love having a reason to include him. Lot of other talented involved in the project, too.
Now that Robert is doing story design for games, currently at Amazon, we often don’t know what projects he’s involved in, while he’s working on them. Today, however, this video got released, and is being promoted at the Apple Store, among other outlets, so naturally want to show it here, too. Here’s a description:
E, one of the game’s two playable characters, could very well be a distant relative of Lost Winds‘ young hero Toku. A traveling salesman by trade, E gets his luggage mixed up with CASI, a combat assured secure inventory drone, on the Big Moon space station. At the same time, the station’s servile Meek population stage an uprising. E and CASI must work together to recover the lost luggage and unravel the secret behind the Meek revolt.
Dire circumstances to be sure, but Tales From Deep Space keeps the tone light, with delightful cartoon graphics and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Lost Winds was lauded for its unique visuals, and Tales carries the same excellent pedigree.
[Also see – Kindle Now Hosts Over 12,000 Marvel Comics Via Online Store]
The pair travel the station, solving puzzles, collecting collectibles and taking on the meek in simple combat as they move from task to task. Navigating the corridors and platforms of Big Moon is a matter of tracing a line from one of the characters in the desired direction — if there are jumps to be made or boxes to climb, E and Casi handle that on their own.
Most puzzles involve splitting up the team in traditional co-op platformer fashion — one takes the high road, unlocking doors and activating elevators for the character taking the low road. Some obstacles requiring more thinking through than others, but on the whole the challenge level hovers around moderate.
Tales From Deep Space is a delightful puzzle platforming adventure that would be right at home as a downloadable console title or a quirky Steam offering. It just happens to be a Kindle Fire exclusive.
In the past I’ve been hesitant to talk about Amazon-exclusive games. Hell, I had to make a new app review icon for this article, because I’d never seriously considered the Fire serious contender to traditional Android tablets and iPads. That’s starting to change. Read the rest of this entry »
[BOOKS] ‘Losing the Signal’: The Inside Story of How the iPhone Crippled BlackBerryPosted: May 22, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Mediasphere, Reading Room, U.S. News | Tags: A123 Systems, Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Apple TV, BlackBerry, BlackBerry (company), BlackBerry Curve, blackberry phones, Books, Carl Icahn, Cellular, FaceTime, IOS, iPhone, Samsung, Smartphones, Television, The Wall Street Journal | Leave a comment
‘Losing the Signal’ examines Research In Motion’s efforts to take on Apple’s game-changing smartphone
[Read an excerpt here, at WSJ.com]
[Order the book “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and
Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry” from Amazon.com]
The Message is the MediumPosted: March 29, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Entertainment, Global, Science & Technology | Tags: Android (operating system), Apple Daily, Apple Inc, Baselworld, China, Facebook, Germany, Google, Google Play, Hong Kong, Intel, IOS, iPhone, Silicon Valley, Switzerland, TAG Heuer | Leave a comment
Messaging Services Are Rapidly Growing Beyond Online Chat
“I PROPOSE, if and when found, to take him by his beastly neck, shake him till he froths, and pull him inside out and make him swallow himself.” It is not often that Silicon Valley’s denizens quote P.G. Wodehouse. But this is what Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital firm, expects the success of messaging services could do to both mobile and corporate software.
The most striking example so far of this process came on March 25th when Facebook announced at a conference in San Francisco that it has started to turn its Messenger service into a “platform” that can carry, and be integrated with, all manner of apps created by other software firms. So Facebook Messenger, which is itself an app for smartphones that run on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, will then be competing with those operating systems’ services for buying apps and downloads. In plain language, it could become the app that ate Apple’s app store.
The prospect may surprise those who thought messaging apps were just another way for teens to share this week’s tragic news about One Direction (a pop group, apparently). But their continuing explosive growth suggests that they will be a
lasting phenomenon. According to Flurry, a market-research firm, the total number of users grew by more than 100% last year (which explains why old-style text messages seem to have peaked, see chart). Together the ten biggest messaging apps, which include KakaoTalk, Viber and WeChat, now boast more than 3 billion users. WhatsApp, the leader of the pack, alone has 700m—a big reason why Facebook last year paid $22 billion for the firm, despite continuing to develop its own Messenger app.
As the number of users has grown, specialised versions of messaging apps have emerged. What made Snapchat popular was the ability to exchange pictures that vanish after a few seconds (and often contain nudity). Secret, Whisper and Yik Yak let users remain anonymous (including bullies, unfortunately). Telegram stands out because of its strong encryption (making intelligence services unhappy). And FireChat works without cellular service: users’ phones communicate directly, which was a popular feature during recent protests in Hong Kong. Read the rest of this entry »
What’s the Apple Watch Good For?Posted: February 24, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Art & Culture, Science & Technology | Tags: Amazon.com, Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Canalys, International Data Corporation, IOS, IOS jailbreaking, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Microsoft Surface, OS X, Personal computer, Phablet, Samsung, Tablet computer | Leave a comment
Developers and designers debate whether the Apple Watch will find its purpose
John Pavlus writes: When Apple unveiled the first iPad in 2010, many pundits scoffed. Among the gripes: tablet computers had been tried before without success; most people already had laptops; and wasn’t it just a giant iPod Touch?
“A watch is a very covert object,” she says. “I could see a new kind of private language or low-level communication emerging from this kind of wearable, using pulses or squeezes.”
— Laura Seargeant Richardson, a user experience expert at Argodesign, a consultancy based in Austin, Texas
The market, as we know, reacted differently. Tablet computers are now a hit—thanks in no small part to Apple’s savvy design, which offered people something that was instantly comprehensible and easy to use, but also flexible enough to suggest thousands of new applications.+
With the upcoming release of the Apple Watch, the company seems poised to repeat the trick. Despite a raft of existing smart watches from companies including Samsung, Motorola, and Pebble, wearable technology has resisted mainstream appeal, partly because the devices don’t feel particularly useful (see “So Far, Smart Watches Are Pretty Dumb”).
The advance marketing for the Apple Watch has done little to explain why this product will fare better, but the tools (WatchKit) and documentation (Human Interface Guidelines) released for app developers provides some clues. They suggest a simple, intuitive mode of interaction centered on streamlined alerts. If the market influence of the iPhone and iPad are any indication, the user experience patterns that Apple establishes may come to define what all smart watches are “for” in eyes of their users.
The Apple Watch might seem like a computer that resides on your wrist, but technically that isn’t the case. Apps that run on it are actually just extensions of iOS apps that run on an iPhone; they use the watch as an auxiliary display. This encourages developers to exploit the device as a kind of remote control for their existing iOS apps, and imagine the UX accordingly.
“You’re not allowed to run code on the watch at all,” says William Van Hecke, user experience lead at the Omni Group, a productivity software vendor that’s developing apps for the Apple Watch.
Nik Fletcher, product manager at Realmac Software, says his team “carefully reduced the core essence” of the company’s to-do list app, called Clear, in order to adapt it for the Apple Watch. Whereas the full iOS app lets users reorder tasks or mark off entire lists in one stroke, and includes animations and sound effects, the new version focuses on what Fletcher terms “recall and completion.” Upcoming reminders can be viewed using the watch’s (noninteractive) Glance view, and individual items can be crossed off. New entries must be input via the iPhone or Mac version of the software. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple’s Titan Car Project to Challenge TeslaPosted: February 13, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Mediasphere, Science & Technology, U.S. News | Tags: ABI Research, Alameda, Altamont Pass, Android (operating system), Apple Inc, California, China, Executive officer, Google, IOS, iPad, iPhone, Microsoft, Microsoft PowerPoint, Satya Nadella | Leave a comment
Apple Has 100s Working on Design of a Minivan Like Vehicle
The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said.
“There are products that we’re working on that no one knows about. That haven’t been rumored about yet.”
— Chief Executive Tim Cook, to Charlie Rose, in September
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
Apple ultimately could decide not to proceed with a car. In addition, many technologies used in an electric car, such as advanced batteries and in-car electronics, could be useful to other Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad.
Apple often investigates technologies and potential products, going as far as building multiple prototypes for some things that it won’t ever sell. Any car would take several years to complete and obtain safety certifications.
But the size of the project team and the senior people involved indicate that the company is serious, these people said. Apple executives have flown to Austria to meet with contract manufacturers for high-end cars including the Magna Steyr unit of Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. A Magna spokeswoman declined to comment.
Apple’s industrial design team is staffed with several people who have experience at European auto makers. Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a famous industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson created a concept car for Ford Motor Co.
Apple hopes to put its stamp on the electric vehicle market in the same way it did the smartphone with its iPhone, said a person familiar with its work. Even though Apple defied expectations of slowing growth with a 30% rise in revenue in the quarter ended December, the company is under constant scrutiny of where its next breakthrough product will come from.
Earlier this week, Mr. Cook said at an investor conference that he does not believe that companies naturally start to slow as their revenue grows. He said this was “dogma” and that Apple didn’t believe in putting limits on what it was capable of.
A side benefit of the project, according to one of the people, is that it has persuaded many Apple employees who were thinking of leaving the company to stay and work on an exciting new endeavor without the pressure of churning new products every year.
Other Silicon Valley giants are looking at autos. Google Inc. has been working on a self-driving car for years. The head of Google’s autonomous vehicle project said last year that the company aims to forge a partnership with auto makers to build a self-driving car within the next few years. A self-driving car is not part of Apple’s current plan, one of the people familiar with the project said. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Extreme Advertising: iPhone 6 Endures 101,000 Foot Drop from Near-SpacePosted: January 22, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Mediasphere, Science & Technology, Space & Aviation | Tags: Android (operating system), Apple Inc, Fahrenheit, Global Positioning System, Google Play, GoPro, IOS, iPhone | Leave a comment
John-Michael Bond writes: Could your iPhone 6 case survive a 101,000 foot drop from near-space, experiencing 70 MPH winds and temperatures as low as -79 degrees F? If you have Urban Armor Gear‘s iPhone 6 case, the answer is apparently yes. The company tested its latest case with a science experiment, creating a special rig to send iOS to the fringes of space.
The flight rig contained two GoPro cameras, 1 GPS locator and a backup phone with GPS and active tracking installed. The flight lasted over 3 hours and covered 12 miles across the ground. The iPhone 6 was wrapped in our composite iPhone 6 case with no screen protector installed. The iPhone was on upon takeoff but froze and shut down as the temperature dropped. When the iPhone 6 and flight rig were found, the iPhone was powered on and tested for full functionality.
[VIDEO] New Magnetic ‘Slate’ Lets You Digitize Pen & Paper Drawings in Real TimePosted: January 19, 2015 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Art & Culture, Mediasphere, Robotics, Science & Technology | Tags: Android (operating system), Apps, Bluetooth, drawing, handwriting, Image scanner, IOS, Kickstarter, Universal Serial Bus | Leave a comment
A harmonious union between natural drawing and digital technology has been one of the most elusive challenges, one of the computer revolution’s great disappointments. What happened? It didn’t happen. Most efforts to make this work have been somewhat interesting, but ultimately, fall short. We expected better. Does isketchnote break the barrier? Good question. I haven’t had an opportunity to test it, but based on this early edition, it’s definitely worth closer examination. Here’s a few comments:
On her YouTube page, Latin Vixen writes:
Got my kickstarter Isketchnote device by iskn. This device digitizes your artwork on any piece of paper or sketchbook that fits in the black area of the digitizer. It digitizes the sketch and draws it on the iPad in real time. You can replay the sketch as it creates an animation or save the sketch. Handy device if you need your work digitized right away so you can later finish it on the computer. Great for digitizing notes as well…
In an entertaining review at Rocketnews24, Scott Wilson writes:
iSketchnote started as a Kickstarter project by the French group ISKN in September 2013, and it quickly exceeded its modest $35,000 goal by hitting $350,000. Now, a little over a year later, it’s finally being released to the public as an alternative digital-drawing tablet. In fact it’s not even a tablet at all; it’s just a “slate” and a pen. You can put any kind of paper that you want on top of the slate, write away with the special pen, and watch your writing or drawing get turned into a digital version in real-time via Bluetooth or USB to your tablet or PC….(read more)
In sketchnote first test, Latin Vixen continues:
At the start of start of the video you see me touching the ipad. I am adjusting the opacity of the lines that will appear on the ipad and the size. I lowered the opacity to around 40% as I go over my lines a lot so it matches my real media art style best. Read the rest of this entry »
Rise of the Robot Security GuardsPosted: November 13, 2014 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Science & Technology, Self Defense, Think Tank | Tags: Android (operating system), California, IDG, London, Microsoft, Mountain View, River Thames, San Francisco, San Jose, Silicon Valley, Wi-Fi | Leave a comment
Knightscope is preparing to roll out human-size robot patrols
Rachel Metz reports: As the sun set on a warm November afternoon, a quartet of five-foot-tall, 300-pound shiny white robots patrolled in front of Building 1 on Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus. Looking like a crew of slick Daleks imbued with the grace of Fred Astaire, they whirred quietly across the concrete in different directions, stopping and turning in place so as to avoid running into trash cans, walls, and other obstacles.
The robots managed to appear both cute and intimidating. This friendly-but-not-too-friendly presence is meant to serve them well in jobs like monitoring corporate and college campuses, shopping malls, and schools.
Knightscope, a startup based in Mountain View, California, has been busy designing, building, and testing the robot, known as the K5, since 2013. Seven have been built so far, and the company plans to deploy four before the end of the year at an as-yet-unnamed technology company in the area. The robots are designed to detect anomalous behavior, such as someone walking through a building at night, and report back to a remote security center. Read the rest of this entry »
Home Delivery of Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles: Is it Legal?Posted: November 10, 2014 | Author: Pundit Planet | Filed under: Health and Social Issues, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Android (operating system), Cannabis (drug), Dispensary, Entrepreneur, IOS, Los Angeles, Medical cannabis, Medical marijuana card, Mobile app, Photo identification, Robert Holguin | 2 Comments
New #Nestdrop app promises home delivery of medical marijuana in Los Angeles. But is it legal? My report @ABC7 at 6. pic.twitter.com/jM2o3Yd4gZ
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) November 8, 2014
Robert Holguin reports: It seems like there’s an app for everything these days. An app called Nestdrop brings medical marijuana directly to the doorsteps of Angelenos.
“This is unprecedented. It’s never been done before. We’re only dealing with medicinal marijuana, this is medicine for patients.”
— Michael Pycher, developer
Nestdrop, which began with delivering alcohol, promises their weed deliveries will get to you in under an hour.
Michael Pycher is the developer.
“We have every intention to comply with the law. We’re not trying to skirt around anything.”
“This is unprecedented. It’s never been done before,” Pycher said. “We’re only dealing with medicinal marijuana, this is medicine for patients.”
LA City Attorney says it’s illegal to offer home delivery of medical #marijuana. Regardless, there’s an app for that. http://t.co/CIYtvtNZdT
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) November 10, 2014
Pycher says Nestdrop checks to make sure the user is a legitimate medicinal marijuana patient. Read the rest of this entry »