Category Archives: News

Why Your Car Is Insecure

You may not know this, but most of you drove into work today in a computer.  Don’t believe me?  Oh, maybe because you commonly refer to it as your car.  For the past 40 years car manufacturers have been making cars with computers that typically are located in proximity to the automobiles engine.  The on-board computer controls many things including fuel injection, the anti-lock braking system (ABS), gear shifting, and diagnostics (you know, the infamous check engine light) to name a few.

However over the past decade manufacturers have started to add more smarts into the cars, specifically to the entertainment system.  Bluetooth, iPod and USB connectors, as well as WiFi all add the ability to connect 3rd party devices to your car.  As consumers we have taken all of these new features for granted but now we are going to need to rethink these capabilities because they are being used also as attack vectors for hackers.

Over the past year more and more reports have been surfacing regarding groups of people who have been able to successfully hack into the car’s computer and expose some serious exploits.  Last month Chrysler recalled 1.4 million of Dodge Rams, Vipers, Durangos, Chargers and Jeeps due to a flaw in their UConnect entertainment system which could allow an attacker to gain control of critical functions such as braking, steering, speed control, and the transmission.  Then this week Tesla Model S cars pushed out a patch to a flaw that could allow hackers to take control of the vehicle (The details of this hack will be announced during Def Con).  I am pretty sure that we will be hearing more car hacks relating to other car makers in the up coming months too.

The major problem is that there is a design flaw in the how the components in the car connect to the computer.  They use a standard protocol called CAN bus which is similar to the internal bus in typical computers.  Car manufacturers say that the components are “firewalled” from the entertainment system but clearly this isn’t enough.  They need to go back to the drawing board and physically separate the entertainment system from the CAN bus and this will prevent these types of attacks from happening in future model cars.  But there is no word yet whether or not manufacturers are going to be taking this route.  For now if you get a recall letter for your car you should always take it seriously and get your car fixed, regardless of the reason.

Moore’s Law: Its Days are Numbered

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous computer observation known as Moore’s law.  Moore’s law is named after the co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore, which predicted that the number of transistors that you can print on integrated circuits (or ICs) doubles roughly every 18 months.  This law has been consist with the industry trend over the past five decades and as a result we have enjoyed the outcome of faster, smaller, and less expensive components used in computers.

Gordon Moore

However it looks now that Moore’s law may be in trouble.  As we have developed smaller and smaller transistors in the last few years we are now getting down to the nanometer (nm) level in terms of size.  To give you an idea how small a nanometer is if you blew up 1 nanometer to the size of a meter stick (about 3 feet) 1 meter in comparison would be over 600 miles long.  This is roughly the driving distance from New York City to Detroit!

The issue when you start working on these small sizes is that the chip manufacturers have to deal with issues on the quantum level.  Electrons start doing funny things such as spontaneously coming into and out of existence (also known as electron tunneling).  There are also current leakages that cause the chip to incorrectly report a gate as set as open even though it is supposed to be closed.  These ill effects prevent the making of reliable ICs.

But chip makers are not ready to throw in the towel yet.  Currently Intel is down to the 14nm which is about the width of about 150 atoms.  Furthermore, there was a report from IBM a few weeks ago saying that they have been able to cut that number in half to 7nm.  But at some point it looks like we may not be able to get any smaller and it may be sooner than we think.

Microsoft is Open Sourcing Windows Bridge for iOS

While the Windows 10 launch has come and gone, there is still much to be desired. For one thing, we’re still waiting for the various bridges that Microsoft announced, such as the Windows Bridge for iOS, also known as Project Islandwood.

While Project Islandwood won’t be officially available until the Fall, Microsoft is throwing the code up on Github.

In a related article, Microsoft made it clear that this is not about porting iOS apps. They are not running in an emulator. Visual Studio 2015 will compile Objective-C code into native universal apps.

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For the Love of Tech Windows 10 Universal App is Live!

This is something that I’m very excited about. I’ve been working on this for a long time, and the official For the Love of Tech Windows 10 universal app is now live in the Store, and it’s absolutely FREE!

If you’re still on Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1, you can still grab version 2.0. If you’re on Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview, you’re still going to get version 2.0 of the For the Love of Tech app. The reason is because the mobile side of the Universal Windows App requires Windows 10 Mobile build 10240 or better, which hasn’t been publicly released. You can download version 2.0 right now, and as soon as Microsoft pushed out a new Windows 10 Mobile build, you’ll be updated

You can download the official For the Love of Tech universal app right here from the Windows 10 Store!

The Windows 10 DVD Player App is Now Available

You might have heard that Windows 10 would not support Media Center. It’s kind of a big deal. All three people that use it are really upset.

Microsoft did promise a replacement, a DVD Player app. The DVD Player app is free from the Store, assuming that you upgraded to Windows 10 from a PC that had a version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 that had Media Center.

If you upgraded from any other version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, the DVD Player app is $14.99. You can download it right here.

Apple Releases Xcode 7 Beta 5 to Everyone!

Today, Apple released another round of betas. Since we’ve seen two Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan betas since we saw the last Xcode 7, iOS 9, or WatchOS 2 beta, we didn’t see a new Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan beta today, but we got everything else.

As has been the case since WWDC, Xcode 7 Beta 5 is still free for anyone that wants to grab it.

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Apple Releases iOS 9 Beta 5

It looks like Apple is releasing another round of betas today. The last time we saw a full round of betas was beta 4, where Apple seeded iOS 9, Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan, WatchOS 2, and Xcode 7 Beta 4.

Since then, we’ve seen Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan Beta 5 and Beta 6, so I wouldn’t expect to see Beta 7 today. It looks like there is a new WatchOS 2 Beta and there is a new Xcode 7 Beta as well, and of course, iOS 9 Beta 5. There is still no sign at all that the current Apple TV is still supported.

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Windows 10 Mobile Build 10240 Not Coming to Insiders

By now, you’ve probably heard about Windows 10 Mobile build 10240. If you install Visual Studio 2015, it installs an emulator for the build. If you try to run a Windows 10 universal app on a Windows Phone running the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview, it tells you that you need build 10240.

You probably thought that Windows 10 Mobile build 10240 is coming soon.

It’s not.

Continue reading Windows 10 Mobile Build 10240 Not Coming to Insiders

Halo Wars 2 is Coming in Fall 2016

Halo Wars was a real time strategy game for Xbox 360. It was generally beloved by the Halo community. After all, Halo is fucking awesome.

Today, Microsoft announced Halo Wars 2, which is, you guessed it, the sequel to Halo Wars. Halo Wars was the last game from Ensemble Studios, which no longer exists. Bungie, the original Halo developer, wasn’t interested in the project, so Microsoft took on the project themselves.

Continue reading Halo Wars 2 is Coming in Fall 2016

Xbox One DVR Capability Coming in 2016

Today at Gamescon, Microsoft announced that DVR capability is coming to the Xbox One in 2016. This isn’t surprising. In fact, what’s surprising is that they’re waiting until 2016 to do it.

Media Center used to be the solution for that; however, with Windows 10, Media Center is officially dead. Xbox One was supposed to be the answer to that. This means that there’s going to be a good six months between Windows 10 and DVR.

We don’t know anything else about the feature, such as a more specific date or if it will be compatible with cable boxes, but we’ll keep you updated.