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After Math: On the road again

It’s been a big week for transportation news. Karma is making a comeback with its $100,000 Revero, London is putting traffic updates on the backs of its busses, LeEco just threw down big bucks on a brand new factory, and Skully officially went belly up. Numbers, because how else would you know if you can drive 55 or not?


SpaceX nails a tricky fourth rocket landing at sea

SpaceX is good enough at sea-based rocket landings that they’ve nearly become commonplace. The private spaceflight outfit has successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket aboard a drone ship for the fourth time, or its sixth landing overall. And this wasn’t a particularly easy trip, either. On top of the inherent challenges of a sea landing, the destination for the rocket’s payload (the JCSAT-16 communications satellite) meant that the vehicle had to contend with both “extreme velocities” and high re-entry heat.

No, SpaceX still hasn’t reused a rocket yet — that’s happening in the fall. However, the touchdown suggests that the company might just meet its objective of launching a rocket every two weeks by the end of 2016. There are no guarantees that it’ll land every time (just ask SpaceX what happened in June), but the success rate is now consistent enough that Elon Musk and crew can expect that rockets will return intact.

First stage landing confirmed on the droneship. Second stage & JCSAT-16 continuing to orbit

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 14, 2016

Source: SpaceX (Twitter), (YouTube)


A quick way to fix your internet connection and make it faster: Update your router’s firmware – CNET


No Man’s Sky in VR? Someone did it. Sorta – CNET


Invoxia Voice Bridge review – CNET

The Good The Voice Bridge lets you access your landline from a mobile phone. The box is simple and compact, and there are no fees beyond the cost of the hardware.

The Bad Android support is still in beta. Setup can take some time, despite plug-and-play promises. No Wi-Fi means long cables if your phone jack isn’t near your router. It doesn’t play so nicely with answering machines, so be sure to answer calls quickly.

The Bottom Line The Voice Bridge does one thing — forward calls to and from your landline — but it does it pretty well.

If you’ve heard of Invoxia before, it’s likely because of Triby, the company’s fridge-friendly speaker that was the first non-Amazon device with built-in Alexa voice support. But now the French company is back with Voice Bridge, a tiny networking box that accesses your landline from any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. (You may see the Voice Bridge sold under the name “Swissvoice,” a brand that Invoxia acquired in 2013.) The hardware costs $99 or £79, but — unlike some similar services — there’s no recurring subscription fee. The Voice Bridge doesn’t appear to be available in Australia, but the US price converts to about AU$130.

Like a lot of other telephone accessories, Voice Bridge lives in the VoIP space — voice over internet protocol — but not in the traditional sense. Usually, a VoIP service replaces a traditional landline, instead routing phone calls over the web. Invoxia’s approach is to live alongside an existing landline, and forward those calls to an iOS device. (Android support is in beta.) More uniquely, the Voice Bridge can also allow you to remotely make calls from your mobile device using the landline number. That means, in theory, you could call from an iPhone in Europe via your US-based landline to another US-based number, and avoid any international long distance charges.

voice-bridge-image-3.jpgView full gallery
Jacob Krol/CNET

Those are some very niche features, and — if you’re already using applications like Skype, WhatsApp or Google Voice — you can already make calls worldwide ranging from free to cheap. But for those who actually want to route mobile calls through their landline number, the Voice Bridge delivers. And it doesn’t cost you anything beyond the one-time hardware purchase.

Using Voice Bridge IRL

In addition to the Voice Bridge hardware (measuring 3.13 inches square, 0.8 inch tall; 7.95cm square, 2cm tall), you get a telephone cable, an ethernet cable and a power adapter (with several interchangeable international plugs included). The Voice Bridge doesn’t support Wi-Fi, but since it’s just a box you plug in and forget about, we’re not holding that against it. You will need to make sure your router and phone jack are within close proximity, however.


From the Editor’s Desk: A busy month ahead


Some Sunday musings as we get ready for the silly season.

These Editor’s Desk columns have become synonymous with our former editor-in-chief Phil Nickinson’s name, but as he’s off doing something new and extremely exciting (you’ll all see it soon enough — I can’t wait to see it myself), we’re going to be sharing this prestigious piece of Android Central website real estate. We’ll be rotating between myself, Alex Dobie, Daniel Bader and Jerry Hildenbrand. (To start it off, I encourage you to take a quick look at Daniel’s introduction (albeit several months after joining Mobile Nations) that he wrote last weekend.)

I’m sure most regular readers are used to seeing my name on articles and reviews here, and as I move into this new U.S. Executive Editor roll you should be seeing even more of my byline. It’s exciting for me to be able to bring more analysis and insight to AC, and together with Alex, Daniel and Jerry we’re going to continue to do everything we can to make this site and community awesome.

This is my last stretch of being at home for more than a couple days at a time for a while, as we’re entering the late-summer/early-fall silly season for Android. Here’s a quick synopsis.

For me, it kicks off a little early with an Honor event down in San Francisco this coming week, and there will be a similar event in Europe the next week. After a little more non-show travel, it’s the huge IFA show in Berlin — officially kicking off on September 2, but we’ll be on the ground August 30 — from which you’ll get all of the great show coverage you expect; this show should be a good one for smartwatches, and new devices from Huawei, Sony and more.

That show is quickly followed by LG unveiling the V20 the week after, which itself lands right on top of an expected iPhone launch the same week. The V20 will be the first phone launching with Android 7.0 Nougat, so once it’s out the door we’re starting the countdown to when Google officially unveils its “finished” (for now) version of the operating system that has been in Developer Preview status for months. And, of course, that very often coincides with new Nexus hardware.

So yeah, we’ll be busy. Before you know it, we’ll be looking October right in the face. Now, a few more thoughts:

  • There’s a big and exciting article coming up on AC this week. I’ve been head-down working on it, and can’t wait to share it.
  • Jerry has absolutely been killing it with these Android 7.0 feature spotlight articles.
  • Just like this Editor’s Desk column, we’re also going to be taking turns hosting the podcast. The format may change a little here and there, and we all have to get used to the rotating cast (and missing out on Phil every week), but it’s coming together well, I think.
  • It’s time for the Olympics and the start of the English Premier League season, both of which are exclusive to NBC in here in the states. That means using the horrendous NBC Sports app — NBC should be ashamed of its Android app and website. What a dumpster fire.
  • Things have kind of slowed down on the “Android apps on Chrome OS” front — we’ll see more from that closer to the end of the year, and I hope this is one initiative that Google really sticks with.
  • Using a few different phones the past month, I have legitimately been missing using Project Fi. You can bet I’ll have it with me for all of my travel (especially international) coming up.

That’s it from me for now. Have a good rest of your Sunday (or perhaps Monday), and get ready for a busy few weeks on AC.


Karma’s stunning electric supercar, and more in the week that was

After years of anticipation, Karma Automotive has finally unveiled the Revero, a plug-in electric supercar powered by roof-mounted solar panels. In other transportation news, BMW launched an electrified version of its flagship sedan, and a new report shows that the UK will have more EV chargers than gas stations by the year 2020. Work continues on the Hyperloop: One company announced plans this week to build the world’s first underwater supersonic transport tubes. And Republic Bike’s kids cargo bike might just be the coolest ride for pint-sized commuters.
This month Tesla announced a historic merger with SolarCity, and Elon Musk is already working on his next big product: a roof made entirely out of solar panels. Meanwhile, New York approved plans to source 50 percent of its energy from renewables, and Scotland was powered entirely by wind energy for a full day. In the Middle East, Masdar has developed a new technology that uses sand to store solar heat, and a man in Gaza built a sun-powered desalination machine that can produce 2.6 gallons of fresh water every day.

A team of researchers has built the world’s largest 3D printer, and it’s capable of churning out entire houses made of mud at nearly zero cost. In other technology and design news, a futuristic indoor farm in Japan is able to produce 12,000 heads of lettuce a day using advanced LED lighting techniques. A vertical farm could bring 10 floors of urban produce to a site near New York City’s High Line. And a 16-year-old South African girl invented a drought-busting wonder material using everyday orange peels.


Cryptography Experts Recommend Apple Replace its iMessage Encryption

Apple has implemented a series of short- and long-term defenses to its iMessage protocol after several issues were discovered by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University, according to a report published today (via PatentlyApple).

This attack is different to the one Johns Hopkins researchers discovered in March, which allowed an attacker to decrypt photos and videos sent over iMessage.

The technical paper details how another method known as a “ciphertext attack” allowed them to retrospectively decrypt certain types of payloads and attachments when either the sender or receiver is still online.

The scenario requires that the attacker intercepts messages using stolen TLS certificates or by gaining access to Apple’s servers. While the attack takes a high level of technical expertise to be successful, the researchers note that it would be well within the means of state-sponsored actors.

Overall, our determination is that while iMessage’s end-to-end encryption protocol is an improvement over systems that use encryption on network traffic only (e.g., Google Hangouts), messages sent through iMessage may not be secure against sophisticated adversaries.

The team also discovered that Apple doesn’t rotate encryption keys at regular intervals, in the way that modern encryption protocols such as OTR and Signal do. This means that the same attack can be used on iMessage historical data, which is often backed up inside iCloud. In theory, law enforcement could issue a court order forcing Apple to provide access to their servers and then use the attack to decrypt the data.

The researchers believe the attack could also be used on other protocols that use the same encryption format, such as Apple’s Handoff feature, which transfers data between devices via Bluetooth. OpenPGP encryption (as implemented by GnuPGP) may be vulnerable to similar attacks when used in instant messaging applications, the paper noted.

Apple was notified of the issue as early as November 2015 and patched the iMessage protocol in iOS 9.3 and OS X 10.11.4 as a result. Since that time, the company has been pushing out further mitigations recommended by the researchers through monthly updates to several of its products.

However, the team’s long-term recommendation is that Apple should replace the iMessage encryption mechanism with one that eliminates weaknesses in the protocol’s core distribution mechanism.

The paper detailing the security issue is called Dancing on the Lip of the Volcano: Chosen Ciphertext Attacks on Apple iMessage, and was published as part of the USENIX Security Symposium, which took place in Austin, Texas. You can read the full paper here.

Tags: iMessage, Encryption
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Irish court orders accused Silk Road admin’s extradition to US

Silk Road’s saga hasn’t ended just because some of its primary architects are behind bars. An Irish court has ordered the extradition of Gary Davis, an alleged key administrator for the Dark Web-based black market, to the US. Davis reportedly both handled customer questions and organized Silk Road’s many items (including drugs and hacking tools) into sections. He’s poised to appeal the ruling, and for good reason: he could face a life sentence if the US convicts him.

His lawyers tried numerous strategies to fight the extradition request. They claim that the American charges are vague, and that the request isn’t clear. He should have been charged with corresponding Irish crimes, the attorneys argued. Davis’ defense also said that he’s affected by Asperger’s Syndrome and might suffer if sent to an isolating section of a New York City prison. As you might guess, the court rejected these notions — it doesn’t see evidence that Davis would be isolated, for example.

If Davis is convicted, the prison term will show that the US is determined to tie up every loose end of the original Silk Road. Don’t expect it to deter others, however. Research shows that digital black market activity has exploded since Silk Road’s shutdown in 2013, with three times the activity and twice the revenue. Stamping out one site didn’t necessarily create the added demand, but law enforcement may need to focus more on shutting down sites on a basic level than holding everyone to account.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: Irish Times


MIT-designed windows can rapidly switch from clear to opaque

Imagine not having to use curtains or blinds anymore. Instead of covering your windows when the sun’s too strong, you simply have to flip a switch to turn them completely opaque. A team of MIT researchers have developed a method that could make that scenario a reality. Their technique uses electrochromic materials that can instantly change the color of glass from transparent to nearly black by applying a bit of electricity. It’s certainly not the first method developed to change a window’s color, but according to the researchers, their creation has a much faster response time and requires lesser energy.

Other techniques take a few minutes to change the shade of the material, and some can’t achieve the opacity that it can. Further, there are methods that need a constant flow of voltage for the window to remain opaque. This one only needs electricity when switching colors — the window can remain in its nearly black state without being connected to a source of energy.

To make sure it has near instantaneous response time, the researchers used sponge-like materials called metal-organic frameworks that can quickly conduct electrons and ions. Electricity is applied to give the window a negative charge, and positive ions attack in an effort to neutralize it. That is what causes the color-changing effect. They also mixed two different chemicals that dye the window red and green to get to a color that’s very nearly black.

MIT professor of chemistry Mircea Dincă said the technique could lead to “pretty significant energy savings” by reducing the need for air conditioning. “You could just flip a switch when the sun shines through the window, and turn it dark,” he added. He also believes that it could lead to low-power smart displays, similar to e-ink found on Kindles. While the researchers already proved that their method works in the lab, they still need to create an actual working sample to entice investors and get their creation into our homes.

Source: MIT

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