Remote iPhone Shutter: Maxstone Hits Kickstarter

The MaxStone Kickstarter Project is a remote iPhone and digital camera shutter.  This new project is hoping to combine some popular recent gadget trends with normally sought after pro DSLR photography features for a Bluetooth connected gadget, that is distinctive and more multitalented than others in the same category. The MaxStone is a Smartphone controlled camera shutter, Bluetooth device locator and remote Smartphone shutter trigger in one device.

The device is a small tool powered by a solitary watch battery, which is attached to your camera via a straightforward loop strap. It connects in such a way that it covers the camera’s shutter button and has a small, pebble-like main body in front of your camera’s IR sensor. This contains an IR blaster that connects to your Smartphone via Bluetooth, to enable you to trigger the camera’s shutter remotely from your device. The simplicity of the device means MaxStone is much more compatible with a variety of camera models and brands.
There are a variety of applications to the device.  You can either trigger the camera’s shutter instantly or via time delay or you can even program it to take photos at intervals for time-lapse photography spanning nearly a year, according to the firm’s Kickstarter page and you can maintain operation even if your phone is powered down or loses a connection. It can also handle simple video recording operations on certain models of camera.

These features alone would be impressive in a tool that is priced at $29 for a starting pledge.   The Maxstone also offers a Bluetooth proximity alarm sensor, which makes it possible to receive alerts if you move away from your camera, or whatever else it’s attached to. It can also be used in a kind of visa versa way, to locate your phone, as it triggers an alert on your device when you press the button. Did I mention it could also operate as a remote shutter for your iPhone camera too? Which is vitally important for those of us who are of the Selfie generation.
The MaxStone was created by Will E and Lia Zhang, a husband and wife team who created the original prototype and design. Radio engineer Will Griffith helped refine the RF communications technology and Shawn Han has developed and continues to build the MaxStone iOS application. The team is based in New York-based and they are seeking $50,000.  The company has already raised around $6,500, with a just under a couple of months left in their campaign. The firm plans to ship the MaxStone by March, 2014.

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250K Devices Infected By Cryptolocker Ransomeware in UK Alone

A research team specialising in security has revealed that the form of Ransomeware, Cryptolocker, could have managed to infect anywhere between 200,000 to 250,000 devices and could also have collected over £600,000 ($980,000, AU$1,000,000) in the virtual currency Bitcoin.

Dell’s SecureWork’s specialist counter-threat unit has scrutinised the infection rates of Cryptolocker and claims that the malware has been developed in either Russia or Eastern Europe. The earliest infection this year would have happened around 4 months ago (September 5) this year. But just how the malware is distributed is still unclear.

Ransomware is a successful new variety of malware and virus that finds and locks away system/essential files on a victim’s computer. The encrypted files are held locked away until the user meets the demands of payment within 72 hours – displayed ominously in the form of an on-screen timer. What is more worrying is that, it targets, mapped drives and all locally connected, network attached or cloud-based storage such as Dropbox.

Unlike traditional malware, which can be removed with the use of antivirus software, Cryptolocker cannot currently be removed. If a user can root out the virus, there is still no way to access the files, which it encrypts. All decryption keys are located on one of Cryptolocker servers; the files are only released again, if the user pays the ransom.

“By using a sound implementation and following best practices, the authors of Cryptolocker have created a robust program that is difficult to circumvent,” SecureWorks notes in a blog post. “Instead of using a custom, cryptographic implementation like many other malware families, Cryptolocker uses strong third-party certified cryptography offered by Microsoft’s CryptoAPI.”

Audaciously, Cryptolocker also has its own dedicated support system for people who pay their ransom but miss the deadline! There have been reports of the author of the program actively answering help question on online forums, such as this thread.
Dell’s SecureWorks estimates that the Ransomware has infected 250,000 systems in the first 100 days of its active lifecycle.
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Cubli The Robotic Cube Can Walk & Jump

Swiss researchers at Zurich’s ETH Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, have built a cube-shaped robot that can walk around and balance itself on its edges or corners.  The Cubli  is able to accomplish these feats because it has three internal spinning wheels, which provide a gyroscopic balancing force. The Cubli device can be commanded to fall in any given direction. Combining these three abilities — jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling — the Cubli is able to, in effect, ‘walk’.”

The Cubli is aware if its position and orientation, because of Inertial sensors connected to an embedded processor and controller, these allow it to stand up on one edge, then move up from there to a single corner and even spin around on an axis.
The principles used are similar to those used in satellites to stabilise them in orbit, so they don’t end up spinning around uselessly. The practical uses for the Cubli’s unusual method of locomotion include walking around on planets during space exploration and it may also be used as a way to develop self-assembling robots.
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Info From 40 Million Credit Cards Stolen From Target

For a store that’s logo is a giant bulls-eye, Target recently found itself in the crosshairs of  some credit card thieves. And, if you shopped at a physical Target location in the United States between November 27th and December 15th and used a credit or a debit card, your financial information may have been stolen as well. At the end of the day, Target fears that the information from up to 40 million debit and credit cards were stolen during that few week period. It doesn’t matter where in the United States you shopped as Target is seeing signs of fraud all over the country. This is definitely not the kind of publicity Target was looking for during the 2013 Christmas season.
This news is not something for shoppers to take lightly. If you are one of the approximately 40 million people who used their credit or debit card at Target between those dates, Target is encouraging you to keep a close on all of the activity with your card(s). If you see anything suspicious, you should definitely alert your financial institution immediately. They are also recommending that you look at your credit report every so often.

Just What Can The Thieves Do With Your Information?
According to Techland, the thieves can use the magnetic stripe information from your card to make fake cards which they can then use. If they were able to retrieve your PIN number from a debit transaction, they would also (in theory) be able to take out cash from ATM’s. What Target knows for sure the thieves obtained were the names, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and the CVV from the back of the cards.
What’s even more interesting with this large security breach is that it appears there was some tampering with Target’s credit card machines themselves. Obviously, Target has no idea how this happened and is investigating with help from the Secret Service.
Target has offered affected customers discounts and free credit monitoring. Was your account one of the 40 million that were stolen?
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Oracle Buys Responsys For $1.5bn

The rumours floating around regarding the Responsys buyout have been confirmed.  Oracle will buy cloud-based marketing company Responsys for $1.5bn.  Oracle has finally reached an agreement to obtain the cloud marketing company, for $1.5bn (£945m), as they continue to build up their cloud services portfolio.
The deal also continues a sequence of recent acquisitions involving marketing firms, including’s purchase of ExactTarget earlier this year for $2.5bn, Adobe’s buyout of Neolane for $600m and Oracle’s own acquisition of Eloqua last year for $871m, as well as the purchase of Compendium recently, back in October. Microsoft has also been spending time and money in this area, buying MarketingPilot back in 2012.

Shares in cloud marketing firm Marketo, which went public earlier in the year, rose 9% after the announcement of the Responsys deal last Friday, as traders looked toward more consolidation in the sector. Possible buyers for Marketo could include NetSuite or SAP, according to a memo to investors from FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives, “Marketing automation is one of the hyper-growth areas within cloud,” Ives wrote, adding that “investors want Oracle to put more fuel in the growth engine”.

The Responsys contract has been approved by its board of directors and is likely to close in the first half of 2014. Obviously it is still subject to shareholder approval mind you. Oracle’s offer of $27 per share is a premium of about 38 percent over Responsys’ closing price on Thursday last week.
Oracle noted that with Responsys, which focuses on business-to-consumer marketing, and Eloqua, which specialises in business-to-business selling, the company is now in the rare position of being able to offer both types of marketing under one roof. Oracle co-president Mark Hurd in a statement,

“The Oracle Marketing Cloud is now the only platform to unite enterprise-class leaders in these historically distinct marketing-automation fields.”

Responsys allows firms to run marketing campaigns across different channels including and social media, email and the web, as well as building customer profiles and tracking advertising performance. Its customers include LinkedIn and United Healthcare.
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iPhone 6 to come with larger screen, due May 2014

Rumors of new iPhone and iPad models with screen larger than current ones have been doing the rounds for a while now. The latest report indicates that the large screen iPhone 6 may launch sooner than expected.

Digitimes reports citing their sources that the iPhone 6 release is planned for May 2014. The publication in its report says, "Apple is also rumoured to be planning a larger size iPhone for May 2014, using a 20nm processor manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company."

Digitimes doesn't give any more details on the specifications for the iPhone 6, except that the screen will be 'larger' than one seen on the current generation iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. We have already seen multiple agencies reporting about the rumored bigger 5-inch display in Apple iPhone 6.
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5 Minute iOS 7 Jailbreak Released

It never takes hackers too long to figure out how to bypass Apple’s security rich features of their latest iOS and provide the world with details of how to Jailbreak their nice and shiny iPhones.  And iOS 7 is no exception.  The iOS7 Jailbreak has finally arrived and it promises a simple, untethered solution in just five minutes.  If you are going to attempt this, (and I am, in no way advising you to do so) please proceed with caution.

A team of clever hackers have used their skills and abilities to smash through Apple’s walled garden and have released a simple but effective jailbreak for iOS 7.  The tool, which has only taken three months to arrive after Apple launched its revamped mobile software, comes from the Evasi0n team and works on iOS devices running iOS 7.0 to 7.0.4.

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Apple's latest patents cover heart rate monitors and hover touch displays

Apple was granted two patents on December 24 for new tech that could be integrated in future iPhones and other iOS devices.
One patent covers a heart rate monitor that could be integrated directly into portable devices.
The other is for a touch panel display that can detect hovering fingers and improve accuracy by automatically compensating for "signal drift."
Both patents were filed in 2010 and approved on the day before Christmas.

Improving hover interactions:

Some non-Apple smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S4, already include hover controls called Air View, allowing users to interact with the device's display without actually touching it but by hovering a finger nearby.
But Apple's hover-related patent notes that integrating both hover and touch interactions in a single device is difficult, as the display can get confused.
The patent focuses on a variety of ways to improve a device's accuracy at detecting inputs when both touch and hover interactions are available.
It also focuses on improving accuracy when signal drift, i.e. environmental factors confusing a device's sensors, are present.
The patent proposes, among other solutions, recalibrating the sensors periodically so that environmental factors are considered when the device determines whether it's receiving touch- or hover-based inputs.

Groove is in the heart:

The other patent in question today concerns a "seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor" for iOS devices.
The heart rate monitor reads a user's EKG data for authentication or mood determination purposes. The monitor's sensors can be embedded in a number of places in a mobile device.
As always with these patents it's not clear whether Apple will ultimately use any of the features or solutions they describe.
But as it did with the fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S, it seems Apple might be experimenting with even more new smartphone features in 2014.
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Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga Comes To iOS

I have some very good news for Lego fans, Star Wars fans, and those who own an Apple device that has been updated with at least iOS 6. It seems that “a galaxy far, far away” has now decided to take up residence in the app store. That’s right, fans can now download Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga onto their iPhones, iPads, and more. The game is free to download, but users should be aware that only the first episode (The Phantom Menace) is completely free to play. Once you complete that chapter, you have to fork over $14.99 to play the rest of the series. If you break down that price, it comes to right around $2.99 for each subsequent episode, which may or may not make it more justifiable for you to purchase. To me, it seems like such a small price to pay to carry around the entire Star Wars universe in your pocket.

A Galaxy Not So Far Away Anymore…
The Lego Star Wars games have proved to be major successes in the video game world over the years. Who would’ve originally thought that joining Lego and Star Wars would lead to Lego joining forces with Harry Potter, Superman, Batman, the Avengers, and the Pirates of the Caribbean? It seems that Lego is willing to go just about anywhere Hollywood decides to go these days.
Having played through the Lego Star Wars complete series on the Wii, I can vouch that it is a very fun and entertaining game to play. In fact, it might even be easier to play on a phone or a tablet than on the Wii. Nothing beats getting to play as Lego Obi-Wan Kenobi as he avenges Qui-Gon Jinn at the end of the Phantom Menace.
If you’d like to download Lego Star Wars: The Complete Series, you can click here. As of right now, it’s only available for iOS devices.
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Increase Your Arm Strength With A Titan Arm

A group of college students in Pennsylvania really want to lend you an arm in the near future. Or, to put it more accurately, they want to provide you with a way to increase the strength of your current arm. For their senior capstone project, 4 engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania decided they wanted to create something that would really help out their fellow men and women around the world. What they ended up creating is a wearable exoskeleton known as the Titan Arm that is connected to a backpack and attaches to your arm. Once attached to an arm, the Titan Arm automatically allows the wearer to lift 40 pounds more than usual.

The student’s ultimate goal seems to be to help individuals who require rehabilitation, and to also assist individuals who have jobs that require them to lift heavy objects frequently throughout the day. Take a look below to see just what the Titan Arm looks like.

The Future Of Physical Therapy?
As you can see in the picture above, the Titan Arm looks fairly futuristic, and appears to be something that wouldn’t look too out of place on a cyborg. But this neat looking arm might just be part of the wave of the future. It has already taken home top honors in several contests and is currently garnering interest among potential users.

Possibly the best feature of the Titan Arm is its price. It was created for less than $2,000 and is almost made completely out of aluminum. The students can see the day when its low cost will make it a staple in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. But the Titan Arm will surely come in handy in other places as well, such as the kitchen and the garage. After all, we could all use a little extra arm strength sometimes. It is unknown whether they are working on a dual arm prototype, but I for one certainly hope so.
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Universal Laptop Charger Standard To Come Next Year

The average household today has more than one laptop, and it is always such a pain to have to find the appropriate charger, isn’t it? It’s a different story if family members have the same laptop, but that is not always the case. Then there’s the other story of going somewhere else and forgetting your laptop charger. Unless you find someone in the area with a laptop that has a compatible charger, you’re more or less screwed.
The  International Electrotechnical Commission [IEC] Technical Specification 62700 just might make things easier for laptop users. This is the new universal laptop charger standard that the IEC is pushing for, which will allow a wide range of laptops to share the same charger. It is not unlike the standard that has been set for mobile phone chargers (although we know how specific manufacturers have adhered – or not – to that).

The IEC’s push for a universal laptop charger standard will certainly make it more convenient for people  with multiple devices, but there is also another aspect – the lessening of e-waste. Obviously, the fewer chargers needed, the less waste produced.

The IEC International Standards for the universal charger for mobile phones has been widely adopted by the mobile phone industry and is already starting to help reduce e-waste.  A single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers is the next step in lowering e-waste and its impact on our planet. I am proud that the IEC has yet again managed to make the best possible technical solution available,” stated IEC general secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk. (Source)

If things go according to plan, the universal laptop charger should be ready early next year (next month!). The question now is exactly how laptop manufacturers will adopt the standard, how quickly, and how prevalent it will be. The key is in the authorities making sure that manufacturers adhere to this new standard. Otherwise, there will still be fragmentation, defeating the purpose.
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Researchers in Canada Send Text Using Vodka & A Fan

Researchers at York University in Canada have used vodka and a desk fan to send a new type of text message. The team were able to encode the alphabet in evaporated alcohol and assigned different concentration levels to represent bits 1 and 0.

During the experiment, the chemical signal was sprayed 12 feet and then decoded by a receiver measuring the increase and decrease in alcohol concentration. The resulting message due to the varying concentration levels was “O Canada”.

Professor Andrew Eckford, who led the study, explained the reason for this experiment saying that chemical signals can reach places that wireless signals cannot. Dr Weisi Guo from the School of Engineering at University of Warwick, who also worked on the research team, said that these types of chemcial signals could be used to eventually communicate on a nanoscale to “carry out a specific task such as targeting drugs to cancer cells.” Although this may seem a little far-fetched, if the scientists can develop the right concentration levels then it becomes a nearer possibility.
Molecular communication happens all the time in nature, with plants and animals using pheromones to transmit long-range messages. Humans have never been able to control sending continuous data this way, so this research is very exciting.

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