Author: Brinke Guthrie

Lavabit, Edward Snowden’s favorite email program, is revived

Why it matters to you

Lavabit has added features that take the SSL key out of the equation

There are several email providers to pick from, like Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo — but for infamous NSA leaker Edward Snowden, only Lavabit will do. The email program was closed in 2013, but it is now back in business. You might recall that Lavabit decided to close up shop in 2013 rather than turn over access to Snowden’s email account to the government.

As The Intercept[1] reports, Lavabit founder Lardar Levison had possession of the SSL encryption key that would help provide Snowden’s password, and “though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden’s account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well. Lavabit had 410,000 user accounts at the time.”

Now Lavabit[2] is back in business. “In 2014, with Kickstarter funding, I started the development of the Dark Internet Mail Environment (DIME), a revolutionary end-to-end encrypted global standard and Magma, its associated DIME capable free and open source mail server,” Levison said on the email website. “Today, I am proud to announce that we are releasing DIME and Magma to the world. DIME provides multiple modes of security (Trustful, Cautious, & Paranoid) and is radically different from any other encrypted platform, solving security problems others neglect.”

More: In Lavabit case, Feds forgot to redact ‘ed_snowden@lavabit.com’[3]

As The Intercept pointed out, Levison has re-released Lavabit so that the SSL encryption key isn’t a key factor. “The SSL key was our biggest threat,” he said on the site. We’re getting into some very heavy geek-speak here, but this means that, according to the site the site, “Lavabit will no longer be able to hand over its SSL key, because the key is now stored in a hardware security module — a tamper-resistant device that provides a secure enclave for storing keys and performing sensitive functions, like encryption and decryption.”

Engadget[4] adds that for now the service is only open for people who once had a Lavabit account. Eventually, new users can sign up for one of three email “modes;” Trustful, Cautious, and Paranoid.

Given the current temperature of the world climate, those three modes should prove to be fairly popular.

References

  1. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)
  2. ^ Lavabit (lavabit.com)
  3. ^ In Lavabit case, Feds forgot to redact ‘ed_snowden@lavabit.com’ (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ Engadget (www.engadget.com)

Hackers hit Sundance Film Festival

Why it matters to you

The Sundance Film Festival is a premiere showcase for independent filmmaking

The Sundance Film Festival, the annual independent movie showcase in Park City, Utah, was hit by hackers on Saturday. The box office was targeted, which prompted an indignant festival response via Twitter:

We have been subject to a cyberattack that has shut down our box office. Our artist’s voices will be heard and the show will go on.

— SundanceFilmFestival (@sundancefest) January 21, 2017[1]

According to The Verge[2], a statement on the site, which has since been removed, read, “Sundance Film Festival has been subject to a cyberattack, causing network outages that has shut down our box office. No further information about the attack is available at this time, but our team is working hard to get our system back up and running as soon as possible.”

Following the cyberattack, our team is working hard to get our systems back up asap. Screenings will take place as planned. #Sundance[3]

— SundanceFilmFestival (@sundancefest) January 21, 2017[4]

The IT guys got things fixed up in no time:

Update: The Salt Lake City Box Office is back up and running. #SLC #Sundance[5][6]

— SundanceFilmFestival (@sundancefest) January 21, 2017[7]

More: Anne Hathaway takes on ‘Colossal’ sized movie role[8]

So far, no person or group has admitted being the culprit for the box office hack. IndieWire says[9] the hack attack “came on the day of several big premieres at the fest, including Mudbound, Step, The Hero, The Yellow Birds and Chasing Coral.

Variety[10] also reports “The cyberattack occurred shortly after Chelsea Handler led a Women’s March in Park City[11] to protest the election of Donald Trump, at around noon MT. Roughly 40 minutes later, online ticketing for future shows had been restored. It’s unclear if the attack was related to crowds in Park City, holding empowerment signs and speaking out against Trump.”

The brief attack didn’t seem to have any effect on the festival or its schedule, other than a pesky, minor inconvenience. The Sundance Film Festival dates back to 1978 and was founded by Robert Redford. It runs through January 29.

References

  1. ^ January 21, 2017 (twitter.com)
  2. ^ The Verge (www.theverge.com)
  3. ^ #Sundance (twitter.com)
  4. ^ January 21, 2017 (twitter.com)
  5. ^ #SLC (twitter.com)
  6. ^ #Sundance (twitter.com)
  7. ^ January 21, 2017 (twitter.com)
  8. ^ Anne Hathaway takes on ‘Colossal’ sized movie role (www.digitaltrends.com)
  9. ^ IndieWire says (www.indiewire.com)
  10. ^ Variety (variety.com)
  11. ^ Chelsea Handler led a Women’s March in Park City (mashable.com)

Anne Hathaway takes on ‘Colossal’ sized movie role

Why it matters to you

Oscar winning actress Anne Hathway isn’t afraid to stretch her acting wings by going the indie route

Anne Hathaway seems far from her Oscar winning role in Les Miserables in her upcoming movie Colossal. She plays Gloria, a hard partying woman who discovers she has some kind of telepathic link with a huge monster[1] that is busy trashing Seoul, South Korea. “A monster mash-up of indie comedy and kaiju carnage, it’s like “Pacific Rim” except with dive bars instead of multi-story mech suits” CNET says[2]. The film is now playing at Sundance, where it earned a B+ mark[3].

“I would have loved this movie and felt so cool knowing it existed,” Hathaway said last fall on the website IndieWire[4], from its big debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. “I did this one for my 16-year-old self.”

More: First photos from ‘Pacific Rim: Maelstrom’ set feature Star Wars actor[5]

On the site, Hathaway, who is no stranger to big studio productions, embraced the fact that this rather quirky effort was an indie production. With an independent movie, you may not get the huge marketing push and financial resources, but you also don’t get big studio interference. An indie film also isn’t constrained by “safe” creative, artistic decisions. “In those circumstances you’re sometimes encouraged to make fear-based decisions,” Hathaway said on IndieWire. “In this one, it just felt very free spirited, and we were working with an amazing company, Voltage, that trusted their filmmaker.”

Colossal doesn’t fit any of the usual Hollywood ready-made formats, either. Is it an action movie? Is it a rom-com? Referencing its Toronto Film Festival premiere, Hathaway added “This movie doesn’t have a clear genre, and I think the audience trusted that and understood that it’s okay to laugh and go to a more emotional, powerful place. They don’t negate each other.”

Colossal also stars Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Blake Nelson. It opens April 7 in the U.S.

[embedded content]

References

  1. ^ huge monster (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ CNET says (www.cnet.com)
  3. ^ B+ mark (consequenceofsound.net)
  4. ^ IndieWire (www.indiewire.com)
  5. ^ First photos from ‘Pacific Rim: Maelstrom’ set feature Star Wars actor (www.digitaltrends.com)

SpaceX makes triumphant return following fall disaster

What is it about space that intrigues the corporate moguls of the day? Richard Branson has his Virgin Galactic[1], while Amazon’s Jeff Bezos counts Blue Origin[2] as part of his portfolio. Perhaps they all grew up on Star Trek — it’s that final frontier thing.

And here we have Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the news once again with his SpaceX[3] program. The aerospace designer and manufacturer had a successful Saturday, launching the “Iridium-1” mission: A Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg AFB in California. The rocket carried 10 satellites into space for Iridium, a voice/data company. Not only did the satellites make it into space, but the first stage rocket booster successfully returned, landing on a floating platform known as a drone ship. CNN points out[4] that due to the usual one-and-done use of typical rockets (and the cost), sticking the return landing is the key concept in making these efforts more affordable, as the boosters can be used again. Saturday marked SpaceX’s seventh successful landing.

More: SpaceX may have finally zeroed in on cause of September’s rocket explosion[5]

News of the successful launch is sure to give SpaceX a shot in the confidence arm. Back in the fall, it lost a rocket plus payload in a fiery explosion during pre-launch testing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. AP says[6] “SpaceX announced this month that investigators concluded the accident involved a failure of one of three helium tanks inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen tank.”

SpaceX reportedly has a busy schedule, too — it has 70 launches on the books, worth $10 billion. Besides the commercial payload launches, SpaceX hauls supplies up to the International Space Station and is working on a capsule that will transport astronauts to the station as well.

The sheer vastness of space and the limitless possibilities are compelling reasons to shoot for the stars. Human history is replete with those that have sought to push — and break — boundaries in all their forms. “To boldly go … ” and all that. And with $10 billion in launches on the docket, space is also a tidy cash machine for SpaceX, too.

References

  1. ^ Virgin Galactic (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ Blue Origin (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ SpaceX (www.spacex.com)
  4. ^ CNN points out (www.cnn.com)
  5. ^ SpaceX may have finally zeroed in on cause of September’s rocket explosion (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ AP says (hosted.ap.org)

Apple AirPod ad campaign begins with limited product availability

One sneaky way to market a product is to make it hard to find. Scarcity creates the demand, right? That’s about the size of it with Apple’s new AirPod wireless earbuds. The folks at Cupertino have kicked off their TV advertising campaign for the pricey little item with a set of four different spots. A dancer named Lil Buck is featured prominently in the streets of Mexico City.

First up is the Stroll, (above) with Buck showcasing how the product differs so much from its wired counterparts. You can’t get all tangled up with these now, can you? Though as The Verge[1] points out, Bluetooth headphones offer the same freedom of mobility. Buck is doing some totally impossible gravity-defying dancing — but the theme of these spots is “practically magic,” so Buck and Apple get a pass with their artistic license.

Much-maligned Siri gets some love in the next clip:

[embedded content]

We get to see the charging case and pairing feature. Plus some dancing on the side of a car. Maybe it’s the shoes.

[embedded content]

This last clip shows the buds as musical notes. Another report mentioned how this spot reminded the author of the original iPod campaign, and that’s a spot-on observation. Ah, nostalgia.

[embedded content]

More: Apple AirPods Review[2]

If you were on the fence about purchasing the new headphones, you might feel inclined to head over to your closest Apple Store for a set after seeing these spots. Or maybe not. The Verge adds that “The Apple Store currently shows a six-week shipping time frame, so your best bet is hoping to catch a shipment as it comes in at the Apple Store. If you simply order a pair for in-store pickup, Apple’s website says you might be waiting until March.”

However, that’s totally part of the Apple mystique, right? Leave them wanting more. The AirPod isn’t a totally new product segment designed to set the marketplace on its ear like the iPhone and iPod were — merely an add-on to enhance the end-user experience for existing products like the iPhone 7. If Apple’s vibe (and cost) isn’t your bag — there are always alternatives[3].

References

  1. ^ The Verge (www.theverge.com)
  2. ^ Apple AirPods Review (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ alternatives (www.digitaltrends.com)

Kapow! Zowie! Check out this life-sized Lego Batmobile!

What would the Dark Knight be without his ride? Well, just another dude wearing a black costume with a cape, mask, and pointy ears. After all, as Val Kilmer’s Batman once said, “Chicks dig the car.” As so it makes perfect sense that in The Lego Batman Movie[1] (February 10) the Caped Crusader will have a cool ride, too.

Chevrolet unveiled a life-sized version of the Lego Batmobile on Saturday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. According to Mashable[2], the car is “roughly 17 feet long, created by students from the Detroit community in conjunction with student outreach organizations A World in Motion[3] and First Lego League.”

More: The Dark Knight rides: These are the top 10 Batmobiles of all time[4]

The Lego Batmobile is loaded with cool tech, as you would expect. Chevy created a website[5] for the life-sized vehicle, too. Some of the car’s (fictional) features include a “reality-defying 60.2L V100 engine,” flaming rocket boosters (got to have those, they date back to Adam West in the 1960s), 4G LTE Wi-Fi, automatic nerd alert, side Batwing conversion, high-tensile, projectile-proof armored side panels, and driver-centric bulletproof glass.

Pursuit is always tricky when you’re piloting the Batmobile. Shift into one of three different modes, depending on the situation, or who might be chasing you at that moment: race mode, monster-truck mode, or parallel park mode, “which provides lateral movement for easy parking by turning all four wheels a full 90 degrees.” That should come in handy in parking-challenged Gotham City. Maybe Robin will even get to drive it — this one comes with a dual-seat cockpit. When Christian Bale had his turn he asked, “Does it come in black?” Yep, 13 different shades, including carbon black and noir black.

Only a guy like Bruce Wayne can afford a car like this. The cost is $48,000,000 for his one … a drop in the bucket when you own Wayne Industries, after all.

References

  1. ^ The Lego Batman Movie (www.legobatman.com)
  2. ^ Mashable (mashable.com)
  3. ^ A World in Motion (www.awim.org)
  4. ^ The Dark Knight rides: These are the top 10 Batmobiles of all time (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ Chevy created a website (www.chevrolet.com)

Panasonic now testing HOSPI(R), the autonomous delivery robot in Japan

Japan has long been known for leading the way when it comes to some of the coolest tech, so it makes sense that HOSPI(R), the autonomous delivery robot, is now running through live tests[1] in that country. HOSPI(R) is at this very moment scooting around the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita — Panasonic says the robot “will move around the lobby offering bottled beverages to hotel guests. It will also provide information about bus departures.”

HOSPI(R) will be there until next Wednesday, when it will move onto the Narita International Airport’s travel lounge from January 23-27 — acting as a busboy, trundling off with dirty dishes to be cleaned after staff loads up the storage compartment in the back.

The squat, chunky little robot has been in use at some area hospitals, delivering medicine to doctors and the like. It stands five feet tall with a friendly animated “face,” and can communicate through its speakers. In a nod towards fans of Doctor Who[2], Slashgear says HOSPI(R) “resembles an armless Dalek[3] of sorts, albeit one with a friendly face rather than an appetite for murdering Time Lords.”

This is another example of technology potentially taking over human jobs, much like automated scanner checkout lines have done at some stores. Companies see a way to potentially “improve” efficiency, while aiding the bottom line by not having to pay a salary or spring for benefits.

More: Warehouse robots might just make tedious jobs a thing of the past[4]

Panasonic’s media site says “At the moment, there are no plans to introduce the HOSPI(R) to the Narita International Airport and the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita more permanently.” We know that is subject to change, of course! We’re getting closer and closer to the living with Robot from Lost In Space[5] and Rosie from The Jetsons.

Now, HOSPI(R), be a good chap and go fetch a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.

References

  1. ^ running through live tests (news.panasonic.com)
  2. ^ fans of Doctor Who (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ resembles an armless Dalek (www.slashgear.com)
  4. ^ Warehouse robots might just make tedious jobs a thing of the past (www.digitaltrends.com)
  5. ^ Lost In Space (www.digitaltrends.com)

A drone may one day save your life

Drones currently occupy a somewhat whimsical space in technology. Want to decorate your Christmas tree[1]? No problem. How about a peek at Apple’s new campus spaceship[2]? And as is often the case with tech products, what starts off as whimsy ends up with a practical business application — hello Amazon drone delivery[3].

Now comes word of a serious, potentially live-saving application for these flying marvels. NBC News[4] reports that EMS response drones could soon be a reality. Imagine you’ve had a car crash and you’re by the side of the road. In zooms the drone, swooping downwards to your location via your smartphone’s GPS. It lands softly nearby loaded with medical supplies, which could very well save your life.

More: ‘Morphing wing’ drone capable of landing just like a bird[5]

According to NBC News, Dr. Italo Subbarao, the senior associate dean at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine[6], along with a med student, demonstrated last month how a pair of “disaster drones” they developed could deliver “telemedical” packages to victims and rescue teams in a simulated mass-casualty exercise. Subbarao says that these types of drones can get to areas that conventional rescue vehicles may not be able to reach as fast (think a remote mountainous area, although a cell signal for the GPS may be a problem).

“Immediate communications with the victims and reaching them rapidly with aid are both critical to improve outcomes,” Subbarao says. These drones would also give doctors an immediate first-look at victims, whereas otherwise they would have to wait for the victim to arrive at the treatment center.

The report adds that there are still obstacles to overcome, one being the FAA, the government agency that takes a keen interest in such things. Current drone regulations say most have to max out on the scale “at 55 pounds, (with) an altitude ceiling of 400 feet, and line-of-sight operations, that is, within visible range.”

Drone experts at the nearby Hinds Community College[7], with help from Subbarao’s team, designed and built the disaster drones. One “HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations) package” is designed to help a badly injured victim, while the other is meant to aid up to 100 people with a wide variety of injuries — what you might find in a mass-casualty scenario. Both can fly in rough weather as well.

Dennis Lott, director of Hinds CC’s unmanned aerial vehicle program, said “These drones have impressive lift and distance capability, and can carry a variety of sensors, including infrared devices, to help locate victims in the dark.”

References

  1. ^ decorate your Christmas tree (www.digitaltrends.com)
  2. ^ a peek at Apple’s new campus spaceship (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ Amazon drone delivery (www.digitaltrends.com)
  4. ^ NBC News (www.nbcnews.com)
  5. ^ ‘Morphing wing’ drone capable of landing just like a bird (www.digitaltrends.com)
  6. ^ William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (www.wmcarey.edu)
  7. ^ Hinds Community College (www.hindscc.edu)
       
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