Make Way for Merged Reality

Intel recently announced the development of a virtual reality headset that makes it possible for viewers to see nearby objects from the real world in an otherwise computer-generated view.

Intel will be offering the new technology to outside manufacturers at some point in 2017 and is not planning to sell the headsets itself.

paIntel’s efforts to develop this technology have been titled Project Alloy and the new product creates new opportunities for Intel to sell its RealSense depth-sensing cameras, Replay graphics-creation software and other proprietary inventions that may come in handy for virtual reality and augmented reality technology developers and manufacturers.

While Intel may have just thrown its name in the hat, the burgeoning VR industry has already become a race track featuring some major players including Facebook, HTC, Microsoft, Sony, and Apple.

That said, according to Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich, Project Alloy will likely prove competitive due to some unique features that it alone possesses and which threaten to “redefine what is possible with computing.”

One such example is the way that the Project Alloy headset cameras would make it possible for a user’s finger movements to appear in the virtual world and even manipulate virtual objects.

“Merged reality is about more natural ways of interacting with and manipulating virtual environments,” he explained in a blog. “[That liberates] you from the controllers and the nunchucks of today’s VR systems by immersing your hands- your real-life hands- into your simulated experiences.”

pa2Krzanich led an on-stage demonstration in which the hands of the wearer could be seen only if kept near the center of a user’s field of view. Krzanich’s own face was even able to appear within a VR world if he stood close enough to the wearer of the headset, though he showed up as a relatively low-res version of himself.

According to Big K, going wireless would it make it possible for an owner to avoid being jolted out of their VR experience due to the limit of their controller cords. That said, his system’s reliance on wi-fi would make any computer involved be just a bit slower in its response to a user’s actions, which could significantly lower the possible quality of a gamer’s experience.

Regardless, many developers are excited to see the fruits of Intel’s labors. Microsoft has even promised to support the new headset in the latest version of Windows 10. Ed Barton, a technology consultant with Ovum, had this to say about Project Alloy:

“Having a real-time rendition of your hands or other objects in VR could have appeal to enterprise applications, such as surgeon training with a body diagram or a mechanic having graphics overlaid onto an engine part. But when it comes to gaming, there hasn’t  been much clamour to be able to see you hands in real time,” he pointed out.

“Vive, for example, has addressed the issue with special controllers. It’s not something that people have been crying out for,” he concluded.

That said, little is known for certain about the future of the VR industry and what people will be clamouring for.

Was the DNC Breach the Work of Russian Hackers?

The recent breach of sensitive data stored on the DNC server has been making waves since the stolen information was published on WikiLeaks just a few days ago. As the information is sifted through (exposing problematic behavior on the part of handfuls of DNC higher-ups), questions have gone unanswered regarding the expertly-planned cyber espionage attack that was so successfully carried out against the national committee.

dnc leak2Cyber experts have noted that the scale, timeliness, and sensitivity of the data released imply a level of sophistication that would be difficult to find outside of state-sponsored activity. WikiLeaks’ decision to publish the documents into a search engine has indexed that data, making it that much easier for those looking for damning data to locate it. Email conversations between democratic party leaders revealing a collusion to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton, remarks regarding Bernie Sanders’ lack of religious emphasis, and many other sensitive topics have been sentenced to the public eye, with largely embarrassing results.

It’s worth mentioning that the documents were well-timed; all confidential information was exposed strategically; their surfacing just before the Democratic National Convention allowed for the highest possible level of chaos upon the convention’s onset.

As for who actually carried out the hacking? American authorities seem to be unanimously pinning the blame on Russian hackers, an allegation that gains evidence daily. For example, in mid-June when the DNC called in the the cyber threat analysis firm Crowdstrike to examine the committee’s servers, the company found “two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network.” Crowdstrike then released a comprehensive report of its findings, which were released on June 14. Among its many discoveries, Crowdstrike found that one of the hacking groups had been snooping in the DNC’s servers for almost a year. The next week, two different cybersecurity firms independently confirmed Crowdstrike’s reports. The additional firms also found that the two hackers used malware and methods identical to those used in other attacks attributed to the suspected Russian hacking groups.

dnc leakThe day after Crowdstrike’s report was published, a hacker calling themselves “Guccifer 2.0” took credit for the hack and claimed that he or she was not affiliated with the Russian government and was instead a stand-alone hacker. Guccifer 2.o went on to claim that he had handed off much of what he had found to Wikileaks.

More compelling evidence linking the DNC breach to Russian state-sponsored hacking was found by King’s College in London professor Thomas Rid. Rid found that there was an identical command-and-control address hardcoded into the DNC malware that was also on the malware that was used to hack the German Parliament back in 2015. German officials had stated that the malware originated from Russian military intelligence.

Additional evidence includes that documents were translated into Cyrillic and that Guccifer, who claimed to be Romanian, did not speak coherent Romanian.

“It doesn’t strain credulitiy to look at the Russians,” said malware expert with CitizenLab Morgan Marquis-Boire. “This is not the first time that Russian hackers have been behind intrusions in US government, and it seems unlikely that it will be the last.”

The Kremlin has denied any Russian involvement in the leak.


City Scapes of Tomorrow


The world of technology has always had ebbs and flows that result in the each changing leaps forward that fundamentally change the look of our cities and vital infrastructures. In the history of man kind there have been several in only a hand full that fulfill this classification to the necessary condition I am after for the sake of this article. They started out with the first hyper leap that made all hyper leaps there after possible in the first place. What I am referring to is of coarse the advent of agriculture. This changed cities by allowing them To form in the first place and enabled the rise of collective living. The next hyper leap was the rise of electricity and the integration of power for every home and citizen on a grid. This allowed the world to stay up later, work longer and because of this addition and ease to productivity. This fundamentally changed the city and its outlook more than anything prior in so far as it made it so every home had to be retro fitted, just a few years after that we were able to develop the first wave of personal auto mobility. What was significant about this was that it fundamentally altered the landscape of of our country and city centers more so than any other individual leap in human history. Today there has been a general mi laze in this regard but we stand on the pressies of what could shape the landscape of the way we live. Without much though we can imagine that it is going to be the tech integration on a large scale and the inter connectivity of everything. Now you may be wondering that this has already taken place. However we are are only beginning to scratch the surface of this phenomena what is going to happen when we take the innovations of the tech industry and move them away from just our computers and apply them to every system of our infrastructure. What we are likely to see is going take all the other previous quantum leaps and make them fundamentally different. For instance the way we think of cars and car ownership in on the brink of a new jumping off point in so far as it is going to be much more centered around the notion of personal transportation rather than primarily the notion of being the sole owner of a car you drive yourself. Rather there is going to be a system where in you hail a car upon your need and it takes you where you are needing to go and there you are. No need for personal insurance, no need to lengthy loans. This is because there is going to be a safer easier alternative that is going to take off all over the place. There is also going to be an integration that fundamentally rethinks or food systems and infrastructure. Think efficiency and actuality control on steroids. There will also be the means to maintain and control the gardens via drone based technology thus saving much on the costs.

Orlando Massacre Triggers Facebook Safety Check

On Sunday, Facebook activated a new safety feature in response to the horrifying massacre at the gay night club in Orlando, Florida that left 49 dead and many more wounded. Safety Check had been activated in other countries, but Sunday makes the first day that the feature will be available in the United States.

safety check2The feature was activated first in Paris after last year’s terrorist attacks ravaged the city for a night. Safety Check allows for users to notify loved ones and friends that they’re safe in a time of crisis, whether the issue is caused by meaningless violence, civil unrest, natural disasters or otherwise. Users can check on the people thought to be in whatever area is affected by the danger and mark friends and loved ones safe when they can confirm that they’re OK.

According to Facebook, Safety Check has been tweaked since its initial release in order to streamline its deployment in places other than Paris:

“Many people practically live on Facebook, so this feature is a convenient way for people to notify others of their status,” explained program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan Mike Jude. “Rather than having to call many people discretely, this allows anyone on your Facebook network to obtain your status.”

Facebook’s Peter Cottle wrote about Safety Check on June 2, not realizing that the feature would need to be used only 10 days later:

“We’re excited to continue working on Facebook’s role in crisis response over this coming year, as well as to test new ways for the community to initiate and spread Safety Check in the coming weeks.”

Cottle went on the explain how the feature works. Apparently, given the occurrence of a crisis, Facebook will run a small piece of code or hook that executes itself after every News Feed load. If someone is in the affected area, Facebook then invites that person to mark himself or herself safe with a feed prompt and a notification. Then Facebook searches for the person’s friends that are also in that area. Each friend will get a notification that invites them to participate in a Safety Check, and then Facebook will search through those people’s friends to see who might be affected. According to Facebook, it takes only a few minutes to move through up to 100,000 people. At full capacities, the feature can check in on millions of people in only 10-15 minutes.

safety check3“Police tend to get inundated during [emergencies], and they have very little information until well after the event is over,” commented principal analyst the Enderle Group Rob Enderle. “This is more real time and lets people communicate en masse.”

According to Charles Kind at Pund-IT, Facebook’s “massive user base could make Safety Check a valuable resource for people trying to establish the whereabouts and condition of loved ones.”

“Safety Check’s effectiveness depends on how, and how well, users utilize it,” he continued. “If they don’t buy in, Safety Check will be, at best only partially successful.”

Nothing not obvious in that statement. Safety Check has proven helpful not only in the Paris terrorist attacks but also after the devastating earthquake in Nepal last year.

Is ISIS a Cyberthreat?

A 25-page report released by Flashpoint last week stated that the Islamic State’s cyberwar capabilities remain unsophisticated, but are on the rise. The report, titled “Hacking for ISIS: The Emergent Cyber Threat Landscape,” purported that IS’s “overall capabilities are neither advanced nor do they demonstrate sophisticated targeting.” That said, the group is taking steps to increase the effectiveness of its attacks, making its internet exploits no laughing matter.

“Their capability of hacking military or NSA servers in the United States is far-fetched, but it’s not completely impossible,” stated Laith Alkhouri, the director of Middle East and North Africa research at Flashpoint and one of the authors of the report.

cybercal“Concern is high, not because they have sophisticated hacking skills but because they’re utilizing multiple ways of bringing in new talent, utilizing all the freely available tools online, trying to utilize malware that’s already available and building their own malware.”

According to the report, ISIS hasn’t developed the organization and skills of more capable and threatening adversaries of the United States. Flashpoint’s Director of Security Research Allison Nixon had this to say:

“Chinese and Russian hackers are organized criminal gangs or nation-state supported groups…They’re highly educated, highly skilled. They use custom malware and custom tools… On the other hand, ISIS supporters are more like script kiddies or hactivists. They have a low level of sophistication and engage in behavior patterns and use toolsets that we would see in any other attention-seeking group.”

“They’re using open source tools and very old public exploits,” Nixon continued. “They’re only capable of hacking sites that aren’t well maintained in the first place.”

Nixon went on to define the difference between ISIS and hacktivists: “Hacktivists don’t threaten physical violence. Physical violence is an important part of ISIS hackers… They’re interested in translating these online threats into physical attacks.”

Most of ISIS cyberwarriors’ hacking tools are taken from publicly available open source projects owing to the ease of obtaining an open sourced tool. Creating their own tools that functioned with the same effectiveness would require a significant amount of time and skill that is difficult for ISIS to access at this current time.

“As pro-ISIS cyber attacks and capabilities have gradually increased over time but remained relatively unsophisticated, it is likely that in the short run, these actors will continue launching attacks of opportunity,” said the report.

cybercaliphate“Such attacks include finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in websites owned by, for example, small businesses, and defacing these websites. Other attacks may include DDoS attacks.”

That said, the ISIS cyberactors are demonstrating an upward trajectory in both number of attacks and sophistication of attacks.

“We’re starting to see these groups coalesce their brand. They’re increasing their ranks in number. They’re increasing their ranks in skill. They’re increasing their ranks in languages, which means they’re increasing the channels on which they operate and which they distribute their claims of responsibility,” stated Alkhouri. “That menas they have a much more powerful message and a more robust structure than before… They are coalescing their ranks to become a hacking powerhouse.”

IPO Climate is Cold

There were 20 companies that presented at the forum this past year. Of those 20 companies 18 are listed on the ASX and UBS said there is clearly a better application to the tech model when we consider this in context of the global trends of late. “The market in my view seems to be a lot more accepting of taking on a bit more risk earlier on in the development of a company,” said Zach Gottesman in an interview last weekend at a bubba gump shrimp co bar during all you can eat popcorn shrimp. He went on to say that “A while back you would have had to go through more venture capital rounds and more pre-IPO rounds. But the market seems to be more accepting of taking on more risk earlier, a lot of the time before the company is even at profitability.”dfg

The emerging markets will be our judge.
Goatman is some times wrong,  but he makes some compelling points considering this.
“But essentially what the market is saying is, I’m prepared to pay over the odds for better than market growth and I won’t pay anything for less than market growth. So I can’t get that cyclical growth in an environment where the globe just isn’t growing and I need to go to structurally different models which is IT.”

His intellectual rival Marvin Claymore says that ,

“Generally investors in the small cap end need $100 million of free float before its starts to be reasonably meaningful. I would say $80 million to $100 million is where you start to get the attention of the market.”

At any rate we need to point to the fact that all signs point to bubble and beyond that its going to be a crash, so get what ever nuggets you can you can out of the market and head for the hills. What I would do if I were you is ensure jhlhlthat you are staying invested in markets that seem as if they are somewhat recession prone and affect necessarily markets. For instance energy, everyone is going to need it and its not going anywhere anytime soon, but if you want to keep you tech portfolio diverse you should consider something like solar city. We all know that Elon Musk has the midas touch and for many reasons his name alone cashes checks. If we are sure that you want to make a quick buck then Musk is your boy. He has a kind of messiah complex in the eyes of Americans and we know that when someone is seen in this way the market wants to put all they can into them. But if we want to play it safer then you should look into something like gold, if you think about it for whatever reason people always put an unjustifiable value on this useless thing but its not very techie. So if I were you I would look into the tech industry as the solution rather than the problem, if we are going to do that then we are going to good things.

What The First Wave of Wearables Has Taught Us

As late as 35 years ago, first wearable as we understand them hit the market. Not really a wearable by our standards today, but for all intensive purposes the Casio C-80 calculator watch. This little puppy couldn’t bark with the big dogs today, but without it we wouldn’t have the path of the wearable we are on today. The wearable that got us started wasmota-smartring the Star Trek communicator, and from there it was in the collective consciousness, to say ‘hey, lets get a little tech in our daily lives on our person.’ This boxy little derp stop watch, a full numeric keyboard and dedicated buttons for all your favy basic math functions trig excluded, and it told what time of the day it was. What more could you want?

Fast forward t0, today and the stakes are a little bit higher. With all of the innovations we’ve unlocked in the past 35 years 2016 is likely to be the year of the wearable as we know it, and its a beautiful thing. The apple watch debuted in 2015 and was the avant garde of this market, now they are a dime a dozen in the wearable world. Now we have the fitbit being not only a tech conscious choice for consumers but a product that is being marketed as a health conscious product, as if to say “if you care about your health, you should really consider getting a fit bit.” Following on the coat tails of that is the Nike Fuel Band which is basically the same thing, but probably more stylish by most accounts. What this means for your computer is no laughing matter.

asdfkjjasdfasdfasdfIt goes deeper than any particular product, it is the very way we think of the way we move in the world. For instance we no longer just learn some cool skill or trait today we learn “life hacks” as if what we have done in the real world can only make sense in relation to our devices and their hold on our taints.

Another thing the first wave of wearable has taught us is that at our core we want devices that can help us in our competitive and individualistic endeavors. Every app is great in what it can tell you about yourself, but you are not likely to stand the test of time if you don’t also have the means to compare yourself to national averages and compare yourself against others. Consider the app at its core the point is sold as a means for you to better yourself intellectually and remain sharp into old age. What it has become however is a kind of pissing contest where you compare yourself to national averages which has a duly beneficial marketing advantage for the company. If you are at a low end of the average you are going to want to continue to have it an hopefully rise among the ranks. Whereas if you are at the top it gets you really happy to know you are there and you are going to keep it as a conversation starter.

Meta Embarks On New Frontier of Augmented Reality

On Wednesday March 3, 2016 the brand Meta Technologies announced it would be starting to take preorders for it’s Meta 2 augmented reality wearable headset. Not only is this news big in the world of electromagnetism but the company has also set the lofty goal for itself that they would be shipping this mere $949 dollar head set no later than the third fiscal quarter this year.

Meta has painstakingly striven to develop a synthesis experience that CEO Meron describes as “the art of user interface, design with the the science of the brain,” at a 2016 TED talk conference.

as early as this fall they hope, developers can have the opportunity to as he believes, “make their augmented reality dreams come true”, promised Ryan M. Pamilin who is VP of sales at Meta. But make this augmented reality a reality is no easy step as he states. Siting not only the difficulties of scale and operation but the sheer lack of synergy or dynamic data solutions surrounding the industry and its operators as a whole.

maxresdgggefaultThat said the developers are confident that after only a few minutes of wearing the glasses you come to forget that you are wearing them at all, although many are skeptical because their is nothing like it to support such a claim. To this skepticism the Meta Developers are saying “bring it on” and taking the gloves off and believe it is so hard for people to take this leap because they’re hasn’t being anything like this. a wearable augmented reality headset for under $1,000.

There will be a learning curve similar to the in home computer or wide spread use of cell phones, However, many believe that this will not be a passing fad and will take over the way we experience data, and navigate the internet. a future is on the horizon where the line of real vs fake will be forever blurred. Where the meta physical implications that have been espoused will now be thrown into question leaving us to wonder “where am I?”

rrrrrrIt is very likely the case that this technology will be used on a daily basis, from work to home, and in very much the same way we are always on the internet via our smart phones or computers the relationship will be even more invasive. i.e. today  we know we are interacting with something, and that this thing, which is exists is separate of us, we go on our computer we and peak into a landscape or experience; but tomorrow we live the experience. Email updates will emerge in the foreground, as we walk to our desk, graphs appearing for the meeting the moment we wake up as we make breakfast for the kids. although this does have an obvious benefit to our productivity in the systematic execution of prescribed tasks it is important that we take pause and consider if this constant stimulation will affect the creativity that is borne out of reflective moments of boredom, that we consider our surroundings and our place in it.

That said, The Meta 2 drops this year, and demand is high so if you want to be in the first wave of the revolution now is the time to up your name on the list.

Electromagnetism- the Secret of Your Storage Drive

Whether you prefer classic hard disk drives or solid-state drives (also called flash drives), you rely on some form of electromagnetism to store your precious data. Your data has to be able to be converted into digital form to be stored in a computer, and as you likely know, digital data is stored in binary code, or a sequence of 0’s and 1’s.

But it’s not as if there’s just a bunch of 0’s and 1’s in your physical hard drive that your computer then configures into the data you recognize when you see it on your monitor. No, the physical way of storing binary code is through either the presence or absence of magnetism or electrical current.

b.opIn the case of a hard disc drive, if there’s no magnetism, that means 0. If there is magnetism, that means 1. A piece of magnetized metal reads the presence or absence of magnetism on tiny (microscopic) units of space on a spinning disk and from that understands what binary code to send to the computer, which then uses software to translate that code into more digestible information for you to read from your monitor.

In the case of a solid state drive, the absence of an electric current means 0, and the presence of an electric current means 1. Because electric currents can be created by transistors and transistors are able to be made smaller and smaller as time goes on (while hard disk drives can only be so  small and still be functional due to their reliance on a spinning disk mechanism), solid-state drives are capable of being much smaller and storing the same amount of information as hard disk drives. However, if your SSD fails, it’s going to be way less likely that you’re able to recover the information.

But this give and take between electricity and magnetism goes much deeper than a choice between storage drives. Magnetism actually begets electricity, and the other way around. Here’s how:

It comes down to subatomic particles, as things so often do. Each electron is surrounded by a force called an electric field. When an electron moves, it creates a second field called a magnetic field. When electrons are made to move together, or flow in an electric current through a conductor (i.e. a metal or other substance with a structure that enables electrons to weave through the place comfortably), the conductor becomes a temporary magnet.

hmBut that’s electricity begetting magnetism. How would that current even be forced to be created? If you get a coil of wire and place it near a magnet with an unchanging magnetic filed, nothing happens. However, if that magnetic field is changed by moving the magnet back and forth or spinning the wire, the changing magnetic field can produce an electric current in the wire.

Electricity and magnetism have always been extremely closely related, in an interactive relationship known as electromagnetism. Flowing electrons produce a magnetic field and spinning magnets cause an electric current to flow. Simple as that.

Apple and Microsoft Investigated for Child Labor Issues

Amnesty International and the African Resources Watch (Afrewatch) released a report today regarding child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the report, children ages seven and up are working 12-hour days in dangerous conditions to mine cobalt, a material that many tech firms use to create smartphones. The report also claims that large tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung have not performed the basic checks necessary to ensuring that their mineral mining operations don’t use child labor.

cobaltCobalt is integral to the creation of rechargeable lithium batteries, which are found in many smart mobile devices. Over half the cobalt used globally originated in the Dominican Republic of Congo, which has often been criticized for its tolerance of child labor.

This is not news to human rights enthusiasts. In 2012, Unicef uncovered the fact that over 40,000 children had worked in DRC mines in the past year and that many of those mines harvested cobalt. Adult and child mine workers were interviewed, and many described being paid as little as $1 daily and enduring violence, intimidation and health problems on the job.

Amnesty International and Afrewatch claim that mines employing those people provided the cobalt in lithium batteries sold to 16 multinational brands. According to the report, the cobalt came from Congo Dongfang Mining, which is owned by the Chinese mineral company Huayou Cobalt. Huayou Cobalt then sells its minerals to battery manufacturers, who then sell their batteries to Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, Vodafone, and a variety of other tech giants.

According to Huayou Cobalt, company heads were not aware that their suppliers relied upon child labor and in general labor in unsafe working conditions.

Samsung, Sony and Vodafone apparently denied an claims to having a connection with this supply chain or to DRC Cobalt in the first place. Apple responded by saying it was evaluating many different materials including cobalt for labor and environmental risks. Microsoft claimed that it had not traced cobalt use in its products all the way to the mine level “due to the complexes and resources required.”

cobalt2The DRC has met a variety of conflicts as a result of its possession of huge amounts of highly valuable natural resources. The demand for these resources brings plenty of buyers, causing the DRC to build up the largest workforce of miners in the world. However, these miners work in uncontrolled and dangerous conditions and are unchecked by environmental regulations, leading to land degradation and pollution.

Globally, the cobalt market has remained unregulated due to its possession outside the “conflict mineral” legislation that regulates the extraction of other minerals like gold and tin. Cobalt’s extremely high utility in the manufacture of smartphones and other mobile devices that run off small lithium batteries have perhaps made it necessary for it to be upgraded to “conflict mineral” status. This however, would likely face powerful lobbying by tech companies that prefer lower prices to human rights.

As to how knowledgable these companies were about the sources of their cobalt, it’s difficult to say. Though I for one would not be surprised if the secret’s outing was the biggest surprise this event had to offer the tech giants.