The Big Hack

Allegedly, Chinese intelligence “People’s Liberation Army” forced factories in China to add tiny microchips, into server boards from industry leading Supermicro to be sold to basically every one including Amazon and Apple. One, the largest resources for virtual machines and secure web services which include almost every government agency in the world, most online commerce platforms, home automation services, the other a telecommunications and personal computing giant. The scope of the hack is truly daunting. These microchips weren’t part of the design specifications submitted to clients and at less than half a centimeter are incredible difficult to discover. This tiny chip opens a backdoor, which allows anonymous computers to siphon data from some of the largest data centers in the world.
In 2015, Amazon.com Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video. Elemental made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, broadcast church sermons, stream video in the porn industry and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency. Elemental’s national security contracts weren’t the main reason for the proposed acquisition, but they fit nicely with Amazon’s government businesses, such as the highly secure cloud that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was building for the CIA.

To help with due diligence, AWS, which was overseeing the prospective acquisition, hired a third-party company to scrutinize Elemental’s security, according to one person familiar with the process. The first pass uncovered troubling issues, prompting AWS to take a closer look at Elemental’s main product, the servers that customers installed in their networks to handle the video compression. These servers were assembled for Elemental by Super Micro Computer Inc.Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found the tiny microchip. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers.

During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.The entity involved was willing to spend time and money to attain long term access into these systems. In emailed statements, Amazon (which announced its acquisition of Elemental in September 2015) “It’s untrue that AWS knew about a supply chain compromise, an issue with malicious chips, or hardware modifications when acquiring Elemental,” Amazon wrote. “On this we can be very clear: Apple has never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server,” Apple wrote. “We remain unaware of any such investigation,” wrote a spokesman for Supermicro, Perry Hayes. The Chinese government didn’t directly address questions about manipulation of Supermicro servers, issuing a statement that read, in part, “Supply chain safety in cyberspace is an issue of common concern, and China is also a victim.” The FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, representing the CIA and NSA, declined to comment.

Back in 2006, three engineers started Elemental Technologies, assembling what one former adviser to the company calls a genius team to write code that would adapt the super fast graphics chips being produced for high-end video-gaming machines. The resulting software dramatically reduced the time it took to process large video files. Elemental then loaded the software onto custom-built servers emblazoned with its leprechaun-green logos. Elemental servers sold for as much as $100,000 each, at profit margins of as high as 70 percent, according to a former adviser to the company. Supermicro had been an obvious choice to build Elemental’s servers. Supermicro’s motherboards would be engineered mostly in San Jose, close to the company’s biggest clients, even if the products were manufactured overseas.

Today, Supermicro sells more server motherboards than almost anyone else. It also dominates the $1 billion market for boards used in special-purpose computers, from MRI machines to weapons systems. Its motherboards can be found in made-to-order server setups at banks, hedge funds, cloud computing providers, and web-hosting services, among other places.

The chips on Elemental servers were designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, according to one person who saw a detailed report prepared for Amazon by its third-party security contractor, as well as a second person who saw digital photos and X-ray images of the chips incorporated into a later report prepared by Amazon’s security team. Gray or off-white in color, they looked more like signal conditioning couplers, another common motherboard component, than microchips, and so they were unlikely to be detectable without specialized equipment. Depending on the board model, the chips varied slightly in size, suggesting that the attackers had supplied different factories with different batches. Since the implants were small, the amount of code they contained was small as well. But they were capable of doing two very important things: telling the device to communicate with one of several anonymous computers elsewhere on the internet that were loaded with more complex code; and preparing the device’s operating system to accept this new code. The illicit chips could do all this because they were connected to the baseboard management controller, a kind of superchip that administrators use to remotely log in to problematic servers, giving them access to the most sensitive code even on machines that have crashed or are turned off.

This system could let the attackers alter how the device functioned, line by line, however they wanted, leaving no one the wiser. A secure machine is open to any and all users. A chip can also steal encryption keys for secure communications, block security updates that would neutralize the attack, and open up new pathways to the internet. Should some anomaly be noticed, it would likely be cast as an unexplained oddity. “The hardware opens whatever door it wants” says Joe Fitz Patrick, founder of Hardware Security Resources LLC, a company that trains cyber security professionals in hardware hacking techniques.

Obviously, the effected companies are pulling out and concurrent with the illicit chips’ discovery in 2015 and the unfolding investigation, Supermicro has been plagued by an accounting problem, which the company characterizes as an issue related to the timing of certain revenue recognition. After missing two deadlines to file quarterly and annual reports required by regulators, Supermicro was delisted from the Nasdaq on Aug. 23 of this year. It marked an extraordinary stumble for a company whose annual revenue had risen sharply in the previous four years, from a reported $1.5 billion in 2014 to a projected $3.2 billion this year.

As consumers we need to make a choice, either take the time to control all sections of production increasing cost and reduce supply or risk compromising our security. Our poignant dependence on electronics is such that some choose to ignore the biggest security breach of our generation.

Pokemon Go: Deoxys Breakdown

EX

Ever since Mewtwo started taking over regular raids, although without Shadow Ball,which is still believe is its most versatile move, people have been waiting for the new EX, Deoxys. "The DNA of a space virus underwent a sudden mutation upon exposure to a laser beam and resulted in Deoxys. The crystalline organ on this Pokémon’s chest appears to be its brain" - Pokedex 

Unfortunately its received Mix reactions so far, people have been taking it down with two accounts , and with time to spare. Here is why we think you shouldn't give up on Deoxys just yet.

Lets break down the different forms of Deoxys and their corresponding move set.

D2

So lets break down the different forms, Normal Form Deoxys is pretty balanced, it can take a hit better than Gengar and does more damage than an Alakazam, nothing extra ordinary, not to shabby either. Which is the problem, Mewtwo is superior in every way and you'd be better off using precious stardust on it than something mediocre.

Attack Form Deoxys, here's where things get interesting, it is a crazy glass cannon ludicrously powerful but time one dodge wrong and you'll be spinning for revives. You go in, hurt and get out this sense of purpose makes it our favorite form of the lot.

Speed Form Deoxys mid range stabber but is honestly let down by its move pool, there are much better options out there making it less viable.

Defense Form Deoxys is just a dex entry, get one and move on as at-least in the current meta, CP and Stamina make more sense than Defense. You have Snorlax, Blissey and Slaking in the game. So what is the point of a defender who cant be placed in a gym and has lower sustain ? We don't know either.

Even if we consider STAB, Attack Form Deoxys running Zen Headbutt and Zap Cannon / Dark Pulse (Physic Counter) would be our recommended pick.

Now that we know what we want, its time to catch this sucker. 

D3

Here are our picks for the best EX Deoxys counters.

CO1

Does whatever a Spider can !

SP IG

Reviewed on the PS4

During its release week, Spider-Man sold more copies than any other previously-released game in 2018, it became the fastest-selling video game based on the titular character, as well as the fastest-selling Marvel-branded video game of all time. The game sold 3.3 million copies in the first 3 days of its release, a record as the fastest selling first-party video game release in Sony Interactive Entertainment's history, beating God of War (Yes, it beat God of War) .The game grossed an estimated $198 million, surpassing the $117 million opening weekend box office of the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming (And Tom Holland). PSX18 has been cancelled and Sony’s response included “Now that we have Spider-Man out the door, we're looking down in 2019 to games like Dreams and Days Gone, but we wouldn't have enough to bring people all together in some location in North America to have that event.” That’s how big a deal Spider-Man is.

I dint exactly know what to expect when I picked up a copy of Spider-Man. The fact that it was developed by Insomniac Games, one of the most underrated game studios in my opinion did peak interest, but I have been let down by games based on comic book characters before. Spider-Man is truly entertaining and managed to keep me glued to my couch for its 15ish hours of game play. The game is not all web slinging Spider-Man action either, there is a lot of Peter Parker in there, which flushes out the narrative and brings context to dialog.

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The game is graphically beautiful, the cityscape never gets dull, lighting is masterful and the variety in textures and reflections make the city almost as good as the character models. Character models, especially during boss battles are brilliantly executed and capture the essence of each iconic villain in Insomniacs own style. The game also has an unusually large draw distance which gives you a sense of direction within the game and makes navigating the open landscape a breeze.  Traversal through the game is nearly flawless, as Spider-Man you can swing by, climb and leap from any roof top in the games version of Manhattan, be it the Empire State Building or the Avengers tower. You can trigger web grapples which let you switch direction midair making Spidey incredibly agile. As you progress, you discover interesting and more efficient ways of getting from objective to another. It’s easy enough not become tedious but rewarding if mastered. Unfortunately, this fluidity in motion doesn’t work as well indoors or during boss battles. It might be necessary to trigger certain cut scenes but does cause some awkward interactions. Don’t get me wrong, the AI is pretty good and makes for some intense gameplay, minions do not wait and attack one after the other, they rush at you with everything they've got and the variety in their arsenal makes each type a little different from the other. combos are much harder to master when compared to the likes of Batman Arkham series. The game also sticks to 30fps at 1080p on the PS4, which is good for a console but a game like this deserves a windows port.

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The game has one of my favorite health regain systems, where you have to earn health, the harder you hit, quicker your focus bar fills up and the better chance you have of survival. There’s a whiff of Marvel cinematic in the game and I don’t just mean the sound track. The pacing of the game could be more even, it almost feels like the game shifts in difficulty every 10 minutes, which makes beating up goons on the streets and side quests more entertaining than the sometimes repetitive nature of boss battles.

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The game also give Spidey and amazing arsenal of gadgets to choose from and customize. Trip mines, drones, electric webs, web bombs and even a suspension matrix let you stall, stun and combo enemies in ways only limited by your imagination.

Marvel's Spider-Man_20180924012909

Spider-man himself learns a few tricks through skill points.

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Customization is not just limited to his loadout either Spider-Man gets a plethora of suits that trigger nostalgia and grant access to special abilities. Each suit give you access to a different ability like instant focus meter to escape a near fatal situation and once you unlock the suit you are free to use these skills at any time. Each suit can also be customized further with the use of mods.

You can get through the game by focusing on the main quests alone, but I feel you would be missing out as some of the side quests not only add to gameplay but to the narrative itself. Honestly, I wish the game had more quests than it does now which is high praise for a game with such depth. As Peter Parker you struggle with your boss, your student and even MJ. The story is diverse and immersive, often nailing balance between action and emotion. This game is a must buy and defiantly worth both your time and money. Gorgeous visuals, brilliant music, storytelling and combat mechanics make up for any faults in pacing.

 

iOS 12 Breakdown

Insta

As tech enthusiasts we keep switching from one mobile OS to the other, iOS, Android, Windows we’ve tried them all. I personally believed Maemo was the future. So here are our thoughts on iOS 12. Spoiler alert, it is absolutely brilliant. Apple has always had better support for older devices when compared to others. Updates go live to all devices on the same day, if the hardware could handle it, but they tend to get slower or the battery life gets worse, CPU’s get under clocked and so on.

This is the first time that an OS update makes all devices new & old snappier. This means ramping up CPU performance to its highest state for performance and ramping it down to preserve battery life. Everything from system wide transitions, app launches, page traversal, keyboard animations to camera launches are significantly more responsive. Apples statistics estimate a performance gains anywhere from 40-60% from the update alone. Synthetic benchmarks also show a 20-30% increase in scores, but is more likely caused by better optimization of the benchmark itself.

 

It’s not just better performance there are so many quality of life improvements. Predictive searches and actions get better over time, but they do get better  you’ll find suggested apps to use, people to text back, reminders to attend or book certain events, and more.  Gone is the farrago of notifications and iOS users finally have access to grouped notifications, everything is neatly organized in stacks based on the type of notification or app and allows us to look at each stack based on importance rather than having to sort through them all. You can also choose which notifications you want hidden from the lockscreen. When you receive a notification, swipe to the left and tap on Manage, which allows you to turn them off completely. Alternatively, you can tap on Deliver Quietly, and the notification will appear in the Notification Center but not on the lockscreen. Do not disturb gets a nifty little update, you can now set up time frames where it automatically kicks in and turns off, so you no longer have to worry about doing it manually. You also have the option to prevent notifications from popping up during this time frame. A blessing for those like me who have difficulty sleeping and constantly check messages. Siri is still inferior to Google, at least for my virtual assistant needs but it’s getting better with each iteration. With Siri Shortcuts, the voice assistant is capable of much more via quick actions that can all be assigned through the new Shortcuts app. There isn’t much you can do at the moment other than customize voice commands to trigger a specific action. For instance, by telling Siri our home address (or whatever phrase you want), we can have the Lyft app launch immediately. As mentioned earlier, Siri will continue to get better and provide better suggestions as we continue to use it. Since we already use the Spotlight Search tool on a daily basis to access certain apps, suggestions conveniently show up underneath and they’re genuinely helpful. If we’re having a conversation with a friend via text and either haven’t responded or tend to text them more often than others, Siri suggests to send a message. When we missed a phone call from a family member, we received a suggestion to make a call back.

You can also create your own voice-activated shortcuts in your device's settings. You pick an app action you'd like Siri to fire up and record a voice command. For example "Hey Siri, start recording" can create a voice memo The Shortcuts app lets you string together multiple shortcut actions into a sort of macro you can either launch from your home screen or activate by talking to Siri. If you're a longtime Mac user, think of it as Automator for your iPhone. After using the app for a while, it's clear why Apple didn't bundle it with this update: Shortcuts is one of the few additions to iOS I've seen that feels like a nod to power users.

Commonly used apps such as Photos, Stocks and iMessage have also been redesigned and look more polished and sleek. There is also a new augmented reality app which can be used to measure physical objects, that’ll come in handy if not it’s just a fun tool to play with.  The keyboard experience is also significantly better, scrolling through text has never been smoother.

Now for features I’m not too sure of, similar to Android P, iOS12 tells you how many times we pick up our phone per hour and App Limits which allow you to set a limit for how long you can use an app. Helping people overcome their addiction to their cellphones is a noble cause but it’s extremely easy to override the limit. The option to either turn off the restriction or delay it is offered to you via a pop-up, without having to take extra steps to get to your Settings. So it doesn’t really stop me from using my device as I always do. Well hold final verdict on battery life for now, but currently I do not see any progress. There have been reports of iPhone users complaining that their screen appears washed out, losing black levels and color saturation. There is a very aggressive skin smoothing issue with the front camera on the latest iPhones, which cannot be toggled off in software. In had retry several times to add a Google account to the mail app, for some reason.

So what are you waiting for ? Jailboken or not this is an update you do not want to wait and the update works on any device that could run iOS 11.

Batman Damned (1/3) “Its about the fall.”

Let’s address the elephant in the room, yes, there is bat butt and more in this comic moving on. Batman damned (1/3) is the first comic to come out of the new publishing DC Black label imprint From DC Entertainment. It aims to gives premier talent the opportunity to expand upon the canon of DC’s iconic Super Hero comic book characters with unique, standalone stories that are outside of the current DC Universe continuity. They have also allowed the artists to get as provocative, edgy and graphic as needed, anything that adds to the story in any way stays.  Giving heavy hitters like Frank Miller, Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Rucka and John Ridley absolute creative freedom can only lead to beautiful story telling. They are going all out on the art work as well collaborating with John Romia Jr., Greg Capullo, Lee Bermejo and Phil Jimenez.

“DC Black Label offers leading writers and artists of any industry the opportunity to tell their definitive DC stories without being confined to canon,” explains executive editor Mark Doyle. “We are carefully crafting each series to fit the vision of the creative team. All of these creators are masters of their craft. I’m psyched to be working on a Wonder Woman story with Kelly Sue and Phil, helping to bring John’s vision of the other history of the DC universe to life and reuniting with some of the greatest Batman talents in the industry.”

Clearly there is a lot to look forward to from the label. Now that we have an idea of the labels general direction lets focus on Batman Damned. Although the book was reviewed on an iPad, due to availability. The print itself is of odd dimensions from what we can tell. So if you keep your single issues sealed after you’ve read them, heads up. The book is larger more pamphlet sized. The DC Black Label is very much aimed at a mature audience, there is nudity, murder and the entire scene is very dark. Batman Damned is written by Brian Azzarello and styled by Lee Bermejo. The art work is beautiful and the story so far is very interesting. Batman Damned is absolutely gorgeous and the story is interesting without being too technical. The tone of every panel and the emotions they try to convey translate perfectly and this could be the next Killing Joke, but we’ll have to wait for issues 2 and 3.

So the joker is dead and no one, including batman knows who did it or how it happened. We are greeted by a wounded batman surrounded by doctors who try to help him but, well he’s Batman. So obviously he assaults them and flees crying out to Alfred for help. This is where things start getting strange, John Constantine, Enchantress, Zatana (Doing the three card Monty on the street corner, hustling strangers. perfect) and Dead Man make an appearance, and there isn’t much dialog so you are kind of trying to figure out what is happening. Strangely this ambiguity works very well with the art style. There’s a lot happening and you get a sense of desperation shared by Batman himself. He wakes up to a cocky John Constantine, his wounds have healed and he hustles to the Bat cave. This is where the controversial nudity happens. He uses the Bat Computer to scan for injuries. Do you have to be naked for a scan? Probably, could you have avoided the male genitalia from the frame? Yes. But I think that’s the point DC Black isn’t worried about censorship and they have made it very clear. There are scenes of Bruce as a child being haunted by the Enchantress, she never really hurts him but asks if he would stay with her. Images of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Speaking of who, are unlike anything we’ve seen before.

There are few comic books that create such interest and by doing so DC has also raised our expectations for what is to come next.

 

Death Stranding

DSIII

Most video game fans have at the least heard of Hideo Kojima, to others he is undoubtedly the greatest video game designer of this generation. Most known for his work in the Castlevania and Metal Gear Franchise under Konami, where he became vice president in 2011, Hideo Kojima became an independent designer in 2015. We finally get to see progress in his latest creation Death Stranding Toward the end of the last day of the Tokyo Game Show 2018, Hideo Kojima appeared on the PlayStation stage to thousands of roaring fans gathered in front, for the premier of the minute long trailer.

“I can’t believe how many people came!” he said, but watch the video linked below and you’ll know why

When asked about the current development status of Death Stranding, Kojima said that “at the moment we’re in the phase where I’m holding the controller the whole day, embedding new elements while playing the game.” As development makes progress “It’s a completely new game. Things are going according to plan, but there’s one thing. Due to the videogame voice actor strike by SAG-AFTRA (labor union) that started in 2016 and lasted a year, I couldn’t record with Norman (Reedus) and Mads (Mikkelsen) during that period. So there are some parts we are still recording.”The mysterious golden-masked character who appeared for the first time in the new trailer will be modeled on Troy Baker, who performed the voice of Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Kojima also gave away an Easter egg in the new trailer. “When he takes off his mask and pushes it to the ground, men appear out of the mud. I’m one of them. You should be able to recognize one character who’s wearing glasses, so that’s me.”

DS

To be honest we still don't know much about the game, there is a strange baby who could be a clone, there are aliens, call signs which may be related to the bible. Death Stranding wont be fore the faint of heart needless to say we have high hopes for this one.

The last tale


Looks like the end for one of the best story tellers in the video games industry. Makers of The Walking Dead, Batman Tales, Tales From The Borderlands and our personal favorite The Wolf Among Us amongst others Telltale Games has laid of all but 25 employees as of September 21, 2018. Currently Telltale only hopes to “fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners.”

The company’s CEO, Pete Hawley, also issued the following statement:

“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for Telltale as we worked to set the company on a new course. Unfortunately, we ran out of time trying to get there. We released some of our best content this year and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, but ultimately, that did not translate to sales. With a heavy heart, we watch our friends leave today to spread our brand of storytelling across the games industry.”

For those who follow the company, the news may not be as shocking as it is to others, the company had to let go of 90 of its employees in November, 2017. There have also been reports of the company’s resources being stretched, employees having to put more hours into productions, senior developers walking away and the law suit by former CEO Kevin Bruner. All things considered Walking Dead Season II may be left unfinished by the 15 year old company.

Telltale had created an iconic style with the first Walking Dead game, developing their own game engine and this opened doors to numerous licenses Minecraft, Guardians Of The Galaxy, The Game Of thrones, Batman, Jurassic Park, Back To The Future and many more. In June Telltale had discussed plans to stream its games to subscribers, they were also rumors of them working on a game based on Stranger Things and some of the best in the business were working on the sequel to Wolf Among Us. In the end corporate drama and the niche nature of the genre they mastered in games has taken its toll. But as they leave we have nothing but fond memories of their beautiful narrative and creative art style.

Torbjörn Rework

Our favorite dwarf, is getting a major update. Torbjörn is moving away from being a control point, defense only pick to a versatile and balanced hero.

Jeff Kaplan Developer Update.

For those who wish to skip the developer update, here are the essentials.

Armor Packs

A major part of Torbjörns skill set was the ability to generate armor packs, each armor pack gave him or an ally 75 armor. The catch being, the need to collect scrap (Auto generates one scrap every second, and could pick up scrap from dead enemies or turrets.) Which meant that killing an enemy long range wasn’t enough he had to get close or behind enemy lines to actually collect enough scrap to be of value to his team. Torbjörn could only carry 200 scrap at a time which let him create four armor packs at best.

Armor packs and the scrap system have been removed in their entirety. Instead he gets a new ability (Overload) which temporarily gives him 150 armor, increased movement speed and also increases the fire rate on his rivet gun. This does not replenish health if he had been damaged before the ability was used.

Molten Core

The demon turret from hell which never misses is being replaces with pools of molten lava. Torbjörn could single handedly contest a point even from spawn, if the enemy team ignored his level two turret. His ultimate would instantly upgrade the level two turret to an 800 health level three, with a fire rate that could rival Orissa and never miss. OPAF, but take out his level two and he wastes precious ultimate charge on building a turret or a basic buff to his fire rate and armor.

This heavy dependency on the damage potential of his ultimate on the location and level of his turret has been removed.

During molten core Torbjörn can now shoot ten balls of molten lava, quite similar to the .52 Gal from Splatoon. The lava stays on the floor and deals damage to any enemy crossing it and kills anyone who cannot disengage quickly enough. This also does additional damage to armor, including armor given by Brigitte.

Builder

Torbjörn , no longer has to build turrets up from level one to two. He can simply throw a turret which will allow some creative gameplay and they simply set up as level two turrets and start dishing out damage in under four seconds. He still has the ability to repair a turret if he feels the need to leave it at particular point and the turret build is on cool down. He also has the ability to destroy turrets similar to Sombra’s beacon.

This is the biggest buff, within the update. Torbjörn no longer has to stop firing and risk elimination during a build. He can simply chuck the turret and continue dealing damage or disengaging. The turret instantly starts dealing damage as soon as it sets up. It also prefers the target you pick instead of the one closest. ie. if you are engaged in a fight further away from the turret. The turret will continue to fire at the enemy you fire at using the rivet gun. This is amazing, it lets you prioritize and say pick off healers from the back line even if a tank is up front trying to shift focus to them.

Overview

Overall, this changes Torbjörn’s play style from being a bunker to a more active damage dealer. Molten core seems like a nerf in terms of potential damage dealt, but can now be used to punish enemy players coming through a choke, moving in groups and help control points. The new turret system and Overload are huge buffs for Torbjörn himself, but he can no longer beef up ally healers or save a critically wounded tank with his armor pack.

Psst! Want to know more about Amazon’s secret hardware launch in Seattle?

echo

Here is the summa. Secret is giving amazon more credit, than they deserve, the event seems more rushed and unorganized especially compared to other tech giants.

The echo dot gets an update “industrial design, fabric base with multiple colors” sound familiar? Jokes aside the echo dot is the reason Alexa continues to grow in user base, its pricing and compact footprint made it accessible compared to the Apple HomePod or Google home. The 2018 update gets a 70% louder and sounds better than the previous generation while staying under $50. So better build, better audio and the same price.


The echo input is the amazon echo which cannot create an echo, this pebble shaped device ships without a speaker. Aiming to make existing speakers “smart”. It gives customers the freedom to use speakers of their choice and still have access to Alexa. A nifty idea for $34.99.
The echo sub is a portable subwoofer for echo devices, this is where things get a little iffy. Depending on the number of echo devices in your home you can either configure it to 1.1 or a stereo 2.1 configuration. At $129.99 the little 100W sub doesn’t make much sense to us at the moment but well hold final judgement until they start delivery.



The echo plus is basically a bigger echo with a fabric lining, better audio and a temperature sensor. Do you see what’s happening? They are flooding the market with very similar products all launched at the same time which also compete with each other in one way or the other. Getting back to the echo plus at $149.99 you can add a routine which lets Alexa control the temperature at home or you could use IFTT to write an applet.

There’s a new Alexa enabled smart plug for $24.99, it’s a smart plug just like any other.

The Echo show is a couple of years old now, and honestly, the hardware was never really that spectacular to begin with. Well, Amazon just introduced a new version of the screen, sporting smart speaker, which features a much nicer design and more. Like the rest of the company’s recently introduced Echo products, the new device features a more premium cloth design. The screen size has been doubled to 10 inches, while the speaker has been tweaked to now feature real-time Dolby processing. The product features an eight-microphone array and will integrate Microsoft’s Skype for non-proprietary chatting. The company has also added third-party browsers, including Firefox, further blurring the line between the display-enabled smart speaker and the company’s Fire tablet offerings.There are various other fun new skills for the refreshed product, including a Battleship game. The product will also integrate with Amazon’s  security offerings through the camera and new doorbell API.The newly designed Show should help Amazon compete with the various third-party Smart Displays introduced for Google Assistant, along with a proprietary Google device expected to be announced next month.
Like its predecessor, the product runs $229.

Alexa Guard, Now this is something where we see potential, if polished. It’s a hub which uses existing smart products. You could tell it to turn on the lights before you leave and it would, or it detects glass breaking or smoke and alerts the user on his phone. At its current state much of the functionality can be replicated easily but with proper routines you could possible use it to call emergency services, or provide one time access to UPS. Among the slew of devices Amazon  announced in Seattle is a new Ring Stick Up Cam – stick up, because it’s designed to go anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. The camera comes in two versions, one that’s battery-powered and could be more easily used outdoors, as well as one that’s wired, which may make more sense indoors.These are called The Ring  Stick Up Cam Wired and Ring Stick Up Cam Battery, respectively.The cameras are the first from Ring that are designed for both indoor and outdoor user, and will also connect with Ring’s Neighborhoods app that helps nearby Ring users communicate about suspicious activity in their neighborhood.The device also supports power over Ethernet (PoE) so if your house is wired for that specifically, you’ll have another option to power the device, Amazon says. Another option is through a micro-USB power supply that provides an internet connection and consistent power.When used indoors, the Ring Stick Up Cam will notify users of any suspicious motion inside the home. When used outdoors, home owners can have a view of their property and further surroundings.Both cameras feature motion detection, 1080p full HD resolution, night vision, two-way talk, a siren, and a wide viewing angle. They will also integrate with Ring Alarm and Alexa in the coming months, Amazon says. When Ring Alarm is disarmed, the cameras will stop recording and detecting motion. When Ring Alarm is enabled and is triggered, the siren will sound. It can also be then prompted to start recording.Alexa owners will be able to call up their Stick Up Cam feed by saying “Alexa, show me the living room”

Yes, there’s now an Echo Wall Clock available that has Alexa voice capabilities by pairing with an existing Echo device over Bluetooth.That means you can ask Alexa to do things like set alarms and timers, and the lines on the clock will illuminate as the time progresses. Alarms and timers, of course, are two of the most-used Echo features, and a wall clock makes sense as a place where people might like to use them, or so Amazon thinks.At the event, the company demonstrated using the clock for setting a pasta timer, which illuminates the minutes on the clock. This 60 LED ring can display multiple timers at the same time, countdown to some event, as well as show visual animations along with the chimes for timers, alarms, and reminders.The 10-inch clock is powered by a battery, and automatically syncs the current time.

Another subscription based content provider, Yay! #sarcasm. Firetv recast is a DVR which has an app that tells you the optimal location to setup an antenna. You can use this to stream the content available to echo spot, echo show, fire tv and other devices.  Unless you are away from home and hate sports bars this is a pass for us at $229.99 and 500GB of storage.
Echo auto, now you can have Alexa in your car, the device uses either the auxiliary port which is a good way to wear down or break the port on your car or Bluetooth to connect to the ICE in your car. Great Bluetooth is amazing, Bluetooth everything, However it needs your phone to connect to your car? The idea is useful but implementation is clunky at best. The location aware services can be used to say open your garage door when you arrive or turn the air condition off when you leave, but if you can do most if this using just your smart phone and the external device is not seamless enough to compete with a car that comes with android auto. If you need to make your old car “smart” then maybe.
Something that we dint mention because it’s getting kind of ridiculous at this point is the $60 Alexa microwave can use nearby echo devices to start making popcorn and has dash replenish

We kept the best for the last which for us is the awkwardly named Echo Link Amp. This is a $300 streaming amplifier with multiroom and voice control, and it’s a companion to the new Sonos Connect-like Echo Link.While the Link is a strange proposition,who has a power amp sitting around that they’d connect a $200 Amazon preamp to? The Link Amp makes much more sense. It is essentially a “BYO speakers” mini system.
It includes a 60-watt x 2-channel amplifier, Coaxial in/out, Optical in/out, Line in/out and Subwoofer output
The Amp is part of Alexa’s expanded multiroom system, which incorporates devices that now include the new Echo Plus and the Echo Sub. As far as its competition in the market the closest is the Sonos Amp, but that device offers HDMI, twice the power and retails for $600.
Amazon says the Amp offers “voice control music selection and playback with your compatible Echo device or the Alexa app.” While it’s obvious that the company wants you to interact with the device via voice it’s a little disappointing that there’s no onboard microphone or even a source indicator. At this stage it’s unclear if the inputs will even be selectable or if everything connected will simply play at once. (Hopefully it’s the former.)
 
The good the bad the meh.
The largest improvement here is the one actually made to Alexa her self, they have improved contextual conversation, like asking her a question and not having to trigger her again for a follow up question. Performance improvements and natural responses rival google assistant. But she still cant use artificial intelligence to schedule a hair cut on your behalf.
The Echo Link Amp could a very strong contender to any of the premium smart sound setups but we lack information regarding the same as of now. If you have a good set of speakers and don’t mind an active microphone in your house get the amazon input. It looks like best way to get into the ecosystem.
The smart wall clock is super pointless but super cool, because everyone needs a good alarm. The event has been long and tiring similar to this article there is way too much for us to pay attention to. The new echo dot is a good upgrade from the previous generation and you can always pair this to a larger speaker in the future.
The Echo auto and ring cam is a pass for now and the echo plus is decent device, but falls short compared to its own more affordable siblings.

Meltdown & Spectre

Meltdown and Spectre exploit critical vulnerabilities in modern processors. These hardware bugs allow programs to steal data which is currently processed on the computer. While programs are typically not permitted to read data from other programs, a malicious program can exploit Meltdown and Spectre to get hold of secrets stored in the memory of other running programs. This might include your passwords stored in a password manager or browser, your personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.

Meltdown and Spectre work on personal computers, mobile devices, and in the cloud. Depending on the cloud provider's infrastructure, it might be possible to steal data from other customers.

Meltdown

Meltdown

Meltdown breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system. This attack allows a program to access the memory, and thus also the secrets, of other programs and the operating system.If your computer has a vulnerable processor and runs an unpatched operating system, it is not safe to work with sensitive information without the chance of leaking the information. This applies both to personal computers as well as cloud infrastructure. Luckily, there are software patches against Meltdown.

Spectre

 Spectre

Spectre breaks the isolation between different applications. It allows an attacker to trick error-free programs, which follow best practices, into leaking their secrets. In fact, the safety checks of said best practices actually increase the attack surface and may make applications more susceptible to Spectre

Spectre is harder to exploit than Meltdown, but it is also harder to mitigate. However, it is possible to prevent specific known exploits based on Spectre through software patches.