The past few days there has been a lot of press around the fact that the Google Wallet Pin was cracked on rooted android phones. Lots of people including computer programmers and technologists (who should frankly know better) have reacted to this by posting messages/comments equivalent to: “rooting is bad”, “rooting causes security holes” etc etc etc… Guess they have forgotten the simple rule of computer security: “physical access is total access”, basically it means that if I have physical access to a device I can get full access to it eventually.
This fact was demonstrated it quite nicely by the news that you don’t really need to root your phone to get your pin hacked, all you need to do is reset the application data.
The problem in both cases is caused by the fact that the Google Wallet’s pin is stored locally on the phone itself instead of online so if you can get access to it you can bruteforce it or if you clear the app data it removes the pin and lets you choose another.
One way of fixing the second issue would be to force the phone to link to the internet after the local cache is cleared to sync the pin with the online secure server instead of just letting a user choose a new one. The fix for the first case is a lot harder because you can’t have a wallet that requires the phone to be connected to the web everytime you use it, and if you store it locally then you are just asking for trouble.
Another way would be for the receiving side to validate the pin sort of line how we do it for credit cards but that doesn’t seem too feasible either. Or we could salt the pin with the user’s account info/do a dual encryption, first one requires the pin to unlock the second one requires the account password.
Now if I can come up with such solutions then I am sure the people at Google and the various banks working on this issue will come up with other more secure options. Its not the end of the world. yet. This is a new technology and like all new tech it has its teething issues and I am looking forward to the final fixed product.
Its been expected for a while now but its finally official; Kodak is shutting down its camera business by June to focus on its current brand licensing program, and seek licensees in these categories. Its sad that the company that was once a synonym for camera’s and photos is going to shut down. I remember my first camera, it was a point and shoot Kodak camera that I spent loads of time and effort on to take some really cool and interesting photos with. I think I still have it at home sitting in one of the boxes of old stuff along with my Nintendo and other artifacts of my childhood. Future generations will have no idea what a kodak moment refers to and that just sucks.
From their press release:
Eastman Kodak Company (the “Company”) (OTB: EKDKQ.PK) announced today that, as a result of its ongoing strategic review process and commitment to drive sustainable profitability through its most valuable business lines, it plans to phase out its dedicated capture devices business – comprising digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames – in the first half of 2012. Kodak will instead expand its current brand licensing program, and seek licensees in these categories. Following this decision, Kodak’s Consumer Business will include online and retail-based photo printing, as well as desktop inkjet printing.
Kodak has contacted its retail partners, and is working closely with them to ensure an orderly transition. Kodak will continue to honor all related product warranties, and provide technical support and service for its cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames.
“For some time, Kodak’s strategy has been to improve margins in the capture device business by narrowing our participation in terms of product portfolio, geographies and retail outlets. Today’s announcement is the logical extension of that process, given our analysis of the industry trends,” said Pradeep Jotwani, President, Consumer Businesses, and Kodak Chief Marketing Officer.
A few months ago I remember reading about how Kodak went from being a leader in its field to a struggling company that is almost ready to shut down, can’t find the article right now but it was a really interesting read.
Thanks to CNET for the initial story.
Practical bio computers took a step closer to reality thanks to work by Sivan Shoshani1, Dr. Ron Piran1, Prof. Yoav Arava2& Prof. Ehud Keinan. They have managed to create a Biomolecular computer that is capable of decoding images stored in DNA. Biocomputers are something that I find really interesting and I try to keep an eye out for any new developments in the field. Even though this doesn’t sound like a big deal, its a huge step forward because till now we could only store a very limited amount of data in Biocomputers (stuff like a couple of 0′s & 1′s) but now that we can store an image we are closer to being able to store more complex data and the best part is that since this doesn’t require an interface it can work directly with organic flesh.
A biomolecular computer made in a test tube has proved capable of decoding images stored in DNA. The computer, built by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have created a mixture of DNA molecules, enzymes, and ATP (the substance that provides energy for our own cells) that successfully decrypts information from a DNA chip, in this case the images shown above. The images were first encrypted onto the chip, and then decrypted by the computer and stained in a way that displays only particular sequences. This means that several images can be overlapped on the same chip, then recovered separately by looking for separate genetic sequences.
The boffins have published their paper in Angewandte Chemie, a German journal of chemistry. Tried to read the paper but unfortunately its behind a pay wall and I am curious about the issue but not curious enough to pay for access.
Thanks to The Verge for the initial story.
When I first saw this I thought it was a joke and that maybe I have had too many cold meds in too short a time period. However it looks like the newly founded religion ‘Kopimism’ is real and its central tenet; the right to file-share has been formally recognised by the Swedish government. The Church of Kopimism claims that “kopyacting” – sharing information through copying – is akin to a religious service.
This is quite interesting and funny at the same time. Most governments in the world allow religious freedom so if that same right is given to Kopimism, then the war on piracy would grind to an abrupt halt because continuing would open a large can of worms.
The Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet finally registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation shortly before Christmas, the group said.
“We had to apply three times,” said Gustav Nipe, chairman of the organisation.
The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all.
It was founded by 19-year-old philosophy student and leader Isak Gerson. He hopes that file-sharing will now be given religious protection.
“For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore copying is central for the organisation and its members,” he said in a statement.
Before you get all offended and upset, remember we already have a church of the flying spaghetti monster.
Thanks to BBC News for the initial news. If you want to learn more visit Kopimism’s Official website.
According to Toshiyuki Nakagaki, a professor at Future University Hakodate the lowly slime mold that most of us associate with gym showers and broke college students may be what helps us make the next major breakthrough in Biotechnology and computer algorithms.
Basically, Physarum polycephalum, or grape-cluster slime which looks like mayonnaise when looked at without a microscope has the ability to organize its cells to create the most direct root through a maze to a source of food. During experiments the research team successfully managed to get the molds to form the pattern of a railway system quite similar to the railroad networks of the Kanto region centering Tokyo. If this can be harnessed then we can use the networks in future designs of transport systems. The best part is that the networks created are resistant to unexpected stimulus so if used in real world applications that would make them resilient and fault tolerant.
He says slime molds can create much more effective networks than even the most advanced technology that currently exists.
“Computers are not so good at analysing the best routes that connect many base points because the volume of calculations becomes too large for them,” Tero explained.
“But slime molds, without calculating all the possible options, can flow over areas in an impromptu manner and gradually find the best routes.
“Slime molds that have survived for hundreds of millions of years can flexibly adjust themselves to a change of the environment,” he said. “They can even create networks that are resistant to unexpected stimulus.”
Research has shown slime molds become inactive when subjected to stress such as temperature or humidity changes. They even appear to “remember” the stresses and protectively become inactive when they might expect to experience them.
Sources: Yahoo News & Engadget
Following in the footsteps of The Royal Society, Cambridge University has digitized and made available online; the notebooks in which Sir Isaac Newton worked out his theories that are the basis of most of the classical science.
Included in the collection are Newton’s own copy of his 1687 masterwork, Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica, in which he described with mathematical rigor his laws of motion and gravitation. The digitized version also includes Newton’s own edits and marginalia, plus many pages of handwritten notes.
Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica handwritten notes
Also included are some early papers; a notebook Newton inherited from his stepfather known as the Waste Book, in which he wrote down some of his work on developing calculus; a pair of college notebooks; and a raft of papers on Hydrostatics, Optics, Sound and Heat.
Looks like people are finally realizing that sharing information is good. Looking forward to seeing more such items being shared. Way to go Cambridge!
You can browse the archive at the Cambridge Digital Library.
Source: BBC News
I have been using 1and1.com as my hosting provider for a while now (since 2005) and have been happy with the service for the most par, however after their recent pricing change the service is getting to be a bit more expensive than I am comfortable with so I am thinking about changing webhosting providers. What hosting providers do you use and would recommend? I need the following feature sets in the service:
- MySQL DB: Fairly large no of databases with large storage allocations
- Full SSH Shell Access
- Unlimited Bandwidth (Have gotten bit by this a few times)
- Email Accounts: A fairly high no with large quota’s (I never delete mails)
- Perl Support
- Multiple Domains allowed
- High availability/uptime
Thanks in advance.
Not satisfied with finally getting having access to blackberry messages for ‘security’ surveillance, the Indian government has formally put a proposal that a UN body should take over the running of the whole internet in front of the UN General Assembly in New York. Basically they have asked for a new UN body called the United Nations Committee for Internet-Related Policies (CIRP) to be created which would then develop Internet policies, oversee all Internet standards bodies and policy organizations, negotiate Internet-related treaties, and act as an arbitrator in Internet-related disputes.
In theory this sounds really good but in practice its a really bad idea. The whole idea behind the internet is to have a system that is not centrally controlled so there is no one point of failure or control, now if this new body is brought into the picture they will start enforcing rules that may not make sense to the majority of people using the net but are forced to follow because they are told to by a central agency.
Keep in mind that the folks ‘administering’ the internet are the same folks who are trying to get legislation’s/treaties like ACTA and E-PARASITE passed. And don’t forget the three strikes law from France or other similar insane policies that politicians that have no clue about the internet and are still sticking to the old ways of doing things want to enact.
Do you really want these folks to have formal control of the internet? I sure don’t. If this becomes reality maybe its time for folks to start building an alternate internet without the ‘big brother’ or the politicians.
What do you do with 50 Tons of Plastic? You can’t bury it because it doesn’t decompose, you can’t leave it lying around because it will poison the soil and be an eye sore.
Folks at Vertech Limited along with Dawyck Estates, Cass Hayward LLP, Cardiff University’s School of Engineering, Rutgers University’s AAMIPP Department and Axion International seem to have figured out a way to use this so that that is both useful and doesn’t look ugly.
They recycled the 50 tons of plastic and converted it into a 90 feet Thermoplastic road bridge over the River Tweed at Easter Dawyck in Peeblesshire. This is one of the first of its kind in Europe and was built in just over 2 weeks including the four days to assemble it on site.
A bridge made of plastic has a lot of advantages over regular bridges. It won’t rust and doesn’t require to be painted which is another cost saving. Plus that’s 50 tons of plastic that is not cluttering a land fill somewhere and the best part is that it is 100 percent recyclable, so when the local community decide they don’t want it any more, it can be broken up and turned into another bridge elsewhere.
We should support more of these projects and initiatives so that 30 years down the line we are not living in a mountain of trash.
Source: 50 Tons of Plastic Recycled Into Scottish Foot Bridge & World Architecture News
The Royal Society which is the worlds oldest publisher has made its entire archive of more than 69,000 articles open and given free access to everyone. For those of you who are wondering what Royal Society is all about, here’s a brief introduction:
Founded in 1660, the ‘Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge’, was granted, two years later, a charter to publish by Charles II. On March 6th, 1655, the first issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was published under the editorship of Henry Oldenburg, who was also Secretary of the Royal Society at the time. He stipulated that the journal should be ‘licensed by the council of the Society, being first reviewed by some of the members of the same’ and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society thus became the first ever peer-reviewed journal.
The Royal Society is the world’s oldest scientific publisher and, as such, our archive is the most comprehensive in science. Treasures in the archive include Isaac Newton’s first published scientific paper, geological work by a young Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated account of his electrical kite experiment. Readers willing to delve a little deeper may find some undiscovered gems from the dawn of the scientific revolution – including Robert Boyle’s account of monstrous calves, grisly tales of students being struck by lightning, and early experiments on to how to cool drinks ‘without the Help of Snow, Ice, Haile, Wind or Niter, and That at Any Time of the Year.’
Now anyone with a net connection can read Benjamin Franklin’s account of his kite experiment in his own words or other similar landmark issues and who knows what idea one of these might spark in someone’s mind. After all you never know what might spark an idea and inspire a person to create the next great thing. These issues are an amazing treasure for people interested in the history of science and just reading them gives the reader an idea of how science evolved over the ages.
These journals are available for online browsing or for download as PDF files. However at a quick glance I couldn’t figure out if they allow mirroring of this stuff on other sites or not. I have reached out to them for permission to mirror the content but I don’t know if it will be granted or not. I hope it is, but you never know.
Source: Royal Society Publishing & History Today