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Monthly Archives: March 2016

An Israeli Firm Is Reportedly Helping the FBI Unlock the San Bernardino Killer’s Phone

Apple has refused to help investigators, citing privacy concerns

The FBI being apparently assisted by an Israeli tech firm in its efforts to unlock the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook — a perpetrator of December’s attacks in San Bernardino, Calif.

Apple has been steadfast in its refusal to aid the FBI in accessing the phone’s information, saying that doing so would breach privacy rights, but U.S. prosecutors said on Monday that a “nongovernmental third party” had provided them with a solution. On Wednesday, the English-language version of Israeli news website Ynet.co.il, in an article that featured reporting from Reuters, ventured that the “third party” in question is Cellebrite, an Israeli “mobile forensics” firm that has been under contract with the FBI since 2013.

The firm, which has worked with law-enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, prides itself on its ability to unlock locked Apple devices. A page on its website dedicated to subject claims that “Cellebrite’s Advanced Investigative Services (CAIS) offers global law enforcement agencies a breakthrough service to unlock Apple devices running iOS 8.x.”

It adds: “This unique capability is the first of its kind — unlock of Apple devices running iOS 8.x in a forensically sound manner and without any hardware intervention or risk of device wipe.”  Read More

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Protesters block the road to Donald Trump rally near Phoenix

Donald Trump’s rally in the Phoenix suburbs on Saturday was briefly delayed as dozens of protesters carrying signs that denounced racism blocked an Arizona highway leading to the rally site.

The route was first blocked by a pair of pickup trucks decorated with banners reading “Comb Over Racism: Dump Trump” and “Shut Down Trump.” Dozens of protesters then filled in the roadway, carrying signs reading “Love Trumps Hate” and “Stand Against Racism.” One homemade sign said, “Combat White Supremacy.”

As the trucks were towed away, protesters formed a human wall. Traffic finally resumed after officers began arresting

Later Saturday afternoon, scores of protesters temporarily blocked the entrance to the Tucson Convention Center, chanting “Shut it down!” and preventing supporters from entering a Trump rally there.

And in New York City, protesters from a wide range of left-leaning organizations organized a roaming protest Saturday targeting two of Trump’s most prominent properties in midtown Manhattan. There were reports that the police used tear gas to prevent a group of protesters from moving past barriers near Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.  Read More

Google backs away from human-looking robots

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Finally, Google’ s big robot strategy is coming in to focus.

It is…wait for it…nothing.

On Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, to be more precise, our collective robotic good luck ran out as Google, according to a Bloomberg report, puts its flagship robot maker, Boston Dynamics, up for sale.

The news comes just weeks after Google and Boston Dynamics accomplished a near unheard-of feat: they made us feel for a robot.

Jerk human beats up Boston Dynamics robot read the Mashable’s headline and it was not the exception, Most of the media covered the video showing a bipedal robot enduring a stress-test of sorts with a similar level of concern for the robot’s well-being. When I saw it, I thought, “Nice job Google, you made us empathize with a robot that would normally play a starring role in our nightmares.”

Now, I realize that that remarkable video was likely an unsanctioned hail-Mary pass by the Boston Dynamics team: something to dazzle the public and remind Google why they bought it in the first place.

Alphabet was clearly unmoved. Alphabet is Google’s parent company and the home of Google X, which is where, ostensibly, experimental pursuits like robotics are housed.  Read More

Sony Drops A Bomb: Playstation VR Will Be $399

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Playstation VR just established itself as the mass market VR headset to beat. The headset will hit the market in in October 2016 for $399, $200 lower than competitor Oculus Rift and less than half of the $800 HTC HTCCY +% Vive. That means anyone looking to get into VR can do so for just $800, a far cry from the $1500+ required for Oculus Rift. You’ve got to add $50 for the Playstation Camera, and the price does not include the Playstation move controllers used for some games. Sony , as it’s proven, has a knack for unbundling to achieve the impact of a low price point. Still, there are already 36 million VR-ready PS4s in living rooms across the world, and that’s a powerful potential install base.

We’ve been here before: at E3 2013, Sony dropped a bomb on the Xbox One with that very same $400 price point, cementing a position at the head of the console war that it still holds today. The implication of this price is huge: it means that Sony is fully poised to bring VR to millions of consumers in October. WE can expect an actual release date at E3, along with the final suite of launch titles. judging by the montage the company showed before the announcement, there’s going to be plenty to play.

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive may have better specs than Playstation Vr, but it would be unwise to overlook the advantage developers on PS4 gain by working with a fixed system. I’ve seen a while lot of demos on both Oculus and PSVR, and both have felt fairly comparable in terms of the VR experience. As with a lot of these things, it all comes down to the software, and Sony stands to do pretty well in that department as well.  Read More

Alphabet may ditch Boston Dynamics and its robot dreams

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Frustrated with Boston Dynamics’ slow pace in building a marketable product, Google’s parent company Alphabet is apparently looking to unload robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics, which it acquired a little more than two years ago.

Alphabet is cutting its losses and looking to unload the company, according to a Bloomberg report. The company is known for its four-legged Big Dog and aslow-moving humanoid robot that became a video sensation.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg also reported that Toyota Research Institute, a division of Toyota Motor Corp., and Amazon.com, which uses robots in its warehouses, are potential buyers.  Read More

Apple Actively Working to ‘Double Down’ on iCloud Encryption

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Apple is working to further harden iCloud security so that even it won’t be able to access user information stored on its data servers, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

According to yesterday’s report, which cites “people familiar with the matter”, Apple executives are actively considering how to bolster iCloud encryption without inconveniencing users.

Currently, encrypted data kept on the cloud service is accessible by Apple using a key, which is used for restoring account information if, for example, a user forgets their password. Apple’s access also allows the company to provide relevant information it has to law enforcement agencies that approach it with proper, legal requests.

However, Apple appears to be concerned that keeping a copy of the key means it could be compromised by hackers or that the company could be legally compelled to turn it over to governments.

The news contrasts with a report earlier this month suggesting that Apple viewed privacy and security issues differently between physical devices that can be lost and its iCloud service.

However, according to The Wall Street Journal, an Apple spokesperson pointed to comments made by senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi in reference to the company’s fresh concerns. “Security is an endless race—one that you can lead but never decisively win,” he wrote in a March 6 opinion piece in The Washington Post. “Yesterday’s best defenses cannot fend off the attacks of today or tomorrow.”  Read More

Apple says San Bernardino iPhone case is ‘unprecedented,’ cannot be decided in a vacuum

Apple’s crack legal team, led by Theodore Boutrous, Jr. and Ted Olson, in today’s response (via Christina Warren) reassert many of the same arguments posed in an initial response to the California court order, specifically limitations to the All Writs Act and potential infringement of Apple’s First Amendment rights. The case, Apple says, is not about “one iPhone,” but rather precedent for compelling private companies to hand over customer data at the behest of law enforcement officials.

“It has become crystal clear that this case is not about a ‘modest’ order and a ‘single iPhone,’ as the FBI director himself admitted when testifying before Congress two weeks ago,” the filing reads. “Instead, this case hinges on a contentious policy issue about how society should weigh what law enforcement officials want against the widespread repercussions and serious risks their demands would create.”

Apple references a recent congressional hearing on encryption attended by FBI Director James Comey, Apple’s lead counsel Bruce Sewell and other associated parties. Comey at the hearing said he would “of course” leverage any precedent set in the California case to unlock iPhones in other   Read More

Gripe all you want on social media, Chicago not bringing back ‘I voted’ stickers

Illinois primary voting

Chicagoans may have taken to social media to complain about not getting “I voted” stickers after casting their ballots in Tuesday’s primary, but that isn’t doing much to sway city election officials.

In other words, don’t expect to see them pop up — or make a comeback, the city issued them years ago — in polling places during the November general election, said Jim Allen, a spokesman for Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners.

Stickers don’t drive turnout, Allen said. “Voters come to the polls for the candidates, contests and issues on the ballots, not stickers,” he said. “If stickers were so important, why does Chicago pretty much always beat suburban Cook County in turnout?”  Read More

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