Anonymous hacks MIT website

January 14, 2013 by  
Filed under News

As reported earlier this week, Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide in his apartment. The Internet has been swamped with tweets, posts, blog entries and media coverage over his death, demanding a full investigation.

Now famed hacker group Anonymous have jumped into the fire, by hacking the Massachussets Institute of Technology’s (MIT) website and leaving behind a few choice words reflecting on Swartz’s passing. Mainly the group said that Swartz was under pressure from an intimidating criminal justice system that eventually led him to take his own life. Anonymous also posted

- We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them.
- We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of copyright and intellectual property law, returning it to the proper principles of common good to the many, rather than private gain to the few.
- We call for this tragedy to be a basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response.
- We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all.

Later the group amended their post, stating “We tender apologies to the administrators at MIT for this temporary use of their websites. We understand that it is a time of soul-searching for all those within this great institution as much — perhaps for some involved even more so — than it is for the greater internet community.”

Java 7 malware hits Windows and Unix systems

January 13, 2013 by  
Filed under News

A new vulnerability in the Java platform has emerged this week, dubbed as Mal/JavaJar-B. In a post by security company Sophos, the vulnerability allows malicious code to potentially allow a remote user to run code remotely on a machine.

The code has currently been seen infecting Windows and Unix systems running Java 7 Update 10, though a patch has not yet been released to address this. At the moment the recommended workaround is to disable Java in your browser completely, or change your Java security settings to ‘High’.

In a related post, Mozilla – makers of popular web browser Firefox – also made a blog post about the exploit, stating that they’ve enabled the ‘Click to Play’ feature of Firefox, which prompts users before running any Java plugins or code.

Windows RT jailbreak tool released

January 11, 2013 by  
Filed under News

As previously reported, a vulnerability in Windows RT allowed a coder to bypass Windows’ lockdown on running native Windows apps.

Now a jailbreak tool has become available on the XDA Developer forums, which is a batch file that automates the previously outlined processes.

Microsoft have strangely kept quite calm about the entire affair, going so far as to simply state that the hack isn’t permanent, and must be run every time Windows RT is started up. They make be keep cool on the outside, but the minions at Microsoft are probably hard at work getting a patch ready to address this little code bug.

More BlackBerry 10 devices launching in 2013

January 10, 2013 by  
Filed under News

While images of an upcoming QWERTY BlackBerry 10 device have already been circulating the Internet for a while now, Research In Motion has plans to launch other BlackBerry 10 devices this year, as many as six handsets in total.

In an interview with FierceWireless at CES, CMO Frank Boulben commented that while RIM will launch a full touch and QWERTY device later this month, they have many more models planned for the rest of the year, each one targeting different price points.

The BlackBerry 10 OS is a complete ground-up redesign of the BlackBerry experience, one that relies heavily on gestures to navigate around the interface. Delays last year forced RIM to postpone the flagship launch, but it has confirmed a launch event for BlackBerry 10 in New York and other parts of the world on Jan 30th. Many analysts are skeptical that BlackBerry 10 will revive RIM’s dwindling status in the mobile market against the likes of Apple and Android, but only in a few weeks time will we really see the reception for the new OS.

Microsoft touts new Windows 8 PCs

January 9, 2013 by  
Filed under News

All eyes are on CES 2013 to see what the big names are announcing, and while Microsoft don’t have a direct presence at the show this year, they’re still promoting Windows 8 via other parties.

The company took the time to release a new video featuring upcoming Windows 8 devices from the likes of ASUS, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, and more. The video points out key features of each device, such as detachable screens, lightweight build quality, and a more intuitive touchscreen experience. While there’s no mention of Microsoft’s own Windows 8 Pro tablet, the devices on showcase certainly have some rather interesting features that will hopefully add to consumers adopting Windows 8 PCs.


ASUS unveils Transformer AIO

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under News

We’ve seen hybrid devices that combine the best of tablets and laptops, but today ASUS decided to go one step further by revealing the Transformer AIO.

Featuring two CPUs and two OSes, the ASUS Transformer AIO is certainly going to be turning heads. When docked it’s an Intel i5 or i7 Windows 8 PC, but undocked it transforms into a Tegra 3-powered Android Jelly Bean tablet. Measuring 18.4 inches it’s a somewhat awkward size for either a tablet or desktop, and there are not details yet on whether you’ll be able to seamlessly share data between the desktop and tablet modes, given that they’re running two different operating systems.

The Transformer AIO will retail at around $1,299 with an i3 processor, with i5 and i7 versions being released at a later date.

Behind the wheel of a Smart car

January 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Car Tech, Reviews, Spotlight

Of all the things that we receive at t-break, there’s one thing that I steer (pun intended) clear of, and that’s cars. I have zero knowledge of what’s under a car’s hood, or what horsepower is or even how to change a car tire. Seriously, when it comes to cars I’m truly a fish out of water. As a point, when it came time for me to buy my first car, I walked into the Nissan showroom, pointed at a blue Tiida, and had this conversation:

Me: I’ll take that one please.
Salesman: Good Sir – would you like to take it for a test drive first?
Me: Oh yeah, I guess that’s a good idea.

So I drive my car purely for practical reasons – I don’t want to upgrade its speaker systems or fiddle with the suspension or make it glow in the dark. I just need my car to get me from point A to point B, and that’s it. I guess that’s what made me a prime candidate to drive the Smart car for a few days. I had seen the tiny car a few times on the roads, mostly due to them being imported on the grey market. But it was only after a friend of mine was tweeting about driving the car around the city did I rekindle my interest in checking out this fun little car. A couple of tweets later and I was sitting behind the wheel of a shiny red Smart car.

It’s somewhat remarkable that despite looking rather tiny from the outside, the Smart is surprisingly roomy inside. I’m 6ft 2”, and I was able to sit comfortably in the driver’s seat without my knees hitting the steering wheel or sitting awkwardly. The seats can be adjusted to accommodate most drivers, and the seats are raised slightly as safety feature should the car be involved in a collision. There’s also a glass roof with a manual cover that you can slide back to let some of the awesome Dubai sunshine in.

My Smart car was one of the basic models, so it had just the essentials (like four tires and a steering wheel). There’s a 6-preset radio system with a USB input for mp3 players, but this can be upgraded to a slightly better music system with CD player etc. The center of the dashboard contains the AC controls as well as a small clock and the tachometer. Behind the steering wheel is the speedometer as well as controls for the lights and windscreen.

Driving the Smart car at first was a bit tricky for me, since the gearbox is not fully automatic. This meant that I had to manually shift gears up or down using either the gear stick or the paddle shifters. I found using the gear stick much easier because trying to change gears with the paddle shifters when you’re making a turn was a bit tricky, simply because I wasn’t used to it. But after a few hours of practice I was able to change gears flawlessly, much to the amazement of our resident petrol-head, Taimoor. The brakes on the Smart car do need some time to get use to – they require a substantial amount of force to be applied to slow the car down. The boot of the Smart car is roomy enough to accommodate a decent amount of shopping, but don’t be looking so pack your IKEA furniture in there. Fuel economy in the Smart was quite impressive. For a full tank of AED 55, I was able to get just over 420km of mileage.

So how does the Smart car actually feel when on the roads? Given its tiny size, the first thing I notice about the Smart car is just how quickly it can accelerate forward. At first I was a little bit terrified of this, but I was able to adjust my driving to accommodate for the quick pick-up. Driving around the city was certainly an interesting experience for two reasons. Firstly, people made it a point to pull up alongside the Smart car and take a good, long look at it (one lady even rolled down her passenger window and took a photo). The other thing is because the car is so small and lightweight, it’s a cinch to swap lanes or squeeze through some of the narrow streets of Bur Dubai or Sharjah. At high speeds I did feel a bit uneasy when turning because the car was able to make tighter turns than my Tiida, but it never felt like it would swerve away. The only major concern I had was when I drove the Smart car during a sandstorm with strong winds. The car’s light body make it a challenge to drive in high winds, and I had to hold on to the steering wheel tightly to prevent the car from drifting into the next lane.

The biggest asset of course with the Smart car had to be with parking. On the day I received it I had a client meeting in the bowels of Dubai Internet City, a place where I rarely find proper parking. To my absolute delight, I found a parking space that I could certainly not have squeezed in my Tiida, but the Smart car effortlessly slid into place without any hiccups.

Even though the Smart car is small and compact, it does have some unique safety features that are worth mentioning. Though large portions of the car’s body are made from durable plastic, the actual frame of the car is made from highly durable steel shell that is designed to absorb impact in the event of a collision. There are also driver-side and passenger airbags, as well as anti-swerve technologies and anti-lock braking systems. For such a small car, there’s certainly a lot of engineering hidden behind that cute exterior.

The Smart car isn’t yet officially available here, though there are forces at work studying if it would be viable to launch the car in the UAE. In other countries such as Europe,Jordan, andBeirut, the Smart car has sold well and is the perfect car for narrow roads and winding streets. Pricing isn’t available either, but I would say that a range of about AED 40-42k would be a good starting point for an entry level Smart car. Granted this won’t be a car designed for families with kids (or shopaholics), but as a ‘people-mover’, the Smart car is a joy to drive around the city, and certainly turns heads while doing so.

Windows RT reportedly jailbroken

January 7, 2013 by  
Filed under News

When Microsoft first announced Windows RT, many users were somewhat confused. Here was a version of the Windows OS that looked just like Windows, but wouldn’t run regular Windows programs. Trying to install a Windows program on a Windows RT device just results in an error, unless you’re installing a program from the Windows App Store.

So it was just a matter of time before someone dug deep enough to try and get past this security block. And sure enough, that day is today. A post over at security-focused blog Surfsec details how unsigned desktop applications can be run on Windows RT. What’s even more interesting is that it seem Windows RT is more than capable of running regular apps; Microsoft simply setup a block to stop regular applications from being installed on RT. The post elaborates on this, saying:

“Windows RT is a clean port of Windows 8. They are the same thing and MSFT enforces Code Integrity to artificially separate these platforms. It does not stop pirates from modifying store apps (and their license checks) because store apps are the only things that can actually run unsigned. The fact that this method works on Windows 8 as well shows how similar the systems are. You can even enforce Code Integrity on Windows 8 to see what Windows RT feels like! The decision to ban traditional desktop applications was not a technical one, but a bad marketing decision. Windows RT needs the Win32 ecosystem to strengthen its position as a productivity tool. There are enough “consumption” tablets already.”

You can read the entire blog post here.

Watch an iPod drop from 100,000 feet

January 6, 2013 by  
Filed under News

We’ve all seen countless videos on YouTube of people torturing their devices. Whether they’re being blended, driven over, boiled in water or stuck in a freezer, there seems to be no end to this madness.

The latest comes from case-manufacturers G-Form, who took it upon themselves to bundle an iPod in one of their iPhone 5 cases – and then drop it from 100,000 feet above the earth. Unfortunately, the video below shows the camera dying at about 40,000 feet supposedly due to extreme temperatures. The next shot is of the case landing safely back on earth, with the iPod intact. While the legitimacy of the video can be calling into question, it’s still worth investing in a good case for your iPhone or iPod, which seem to have a knack for flying off tables.


Google Time concept makes us want to wear watches again

January 6, 2013 by  
Filed under News

I remember when people used to wear watches. But then people decided that it was much easier to whip out their smartphones when they wanted to know the time (and using that as an excuse to check their Facebook).

But a novel concept by Adrian Maciburko might change that. His ‘Google Time‘ concept watch would display the time, weather, and a few alerts from Google+. It would also support swipes and pinch gestures to navigate around, as well as voice commands.

It would be completely awesome if Google actually went through with something like this, given that they’re already testing wearable computing with Google Glasses.

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