Archive for May 7, 2018

Science Rendezvous is Full STEAM Ahead! on May 12

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 7, 2018 by itnerd

Join Science Rendezvous, Canada’s biggest science festival, for events across the country on May 12. This FREE, one-day, family festival celebrates feats in science and engineering with more than 300 simultaneous events across 30 cities, and thousands of mind-blowing, demonstrations and activities.

Hosted by universities and colleges across Canada, this will be the most ambitious edition of Science Rendezvous to date. From St. John’s to Vancouver, to the edge of the Artic, to a five-block street festival in downtown Toronto, Science Rendezvous is focused on giving the public one-of-kind experiences with Canadian research.

Science Rendezvous takes science and engineering out of the lab and onto the street and community spaces for you to discover and experience. It’s uniquely designed and run by Canada’s scientists, innovators, and the next generation of creators!

Experience augmented reality demos, hovercrafts, large-scale experiments and Science Chase races. There’s so much to see and explore, it will be the most fun your family has with science all year, and it’s FREE for everyone.

The Science Rendezvous theme this year is Full STEAM Ahead!  On Saturday, May 12, you are invited to celebrate with us across the country as we feature art in science as part of this Canada-wide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) showcase.

For more information about Science Rendezvous events in your city visit:‐sites/



HP Is Introduces The New EliteBook 705 Series PCs, ProBook 645 G4 Notebook, & A New Class Of Thin Clients

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 7, 2018 by itnerd

Designed for the modern professional on the go, the new HP EliteBook 705 series PCs offer enterprise-grade security and manageability, along with powerful collaboration features to keep business users connected. Powered by Windows 10, and the innovative machine intelligence and powerful multitasking capabilities of AMD Ryzen PRO mobile processors, users can stay productive all-day with long battery life and HP Fast Charge to charge 50 percent of your battery in just 30 minutes.

The new EliteBook 735 G5, EliteBook 745 G5, and EliteBook 755 G5 also feature:

  • Precision design: An ultra slim design and narrow bezel displays with optional extra-bright viewable screen and integrated ambient light sensor make it comfortable to work in almost any light condition.
  • Secure foundation: Self-healing, hardware-enforced, and manageable security helps protect the PCs, and the built-in HP Sure View privacy screen keeps business more secure.
  • Crystal-clear collaboration: Stay connected and make PC calls more productive with a world-facing, noise cancellation microphone and a collaboration keyboard to easily manage calls at the touch of a button.

With a new modern slim design, the HP ProBook 645, powered by Windows 10 and AMD’s Ryzen PRO mobile processor, delivers a powerful performance, enterprise-grade security and manageability, and flexible configuration options. The precision-crafted design supports several docking options for easy transition, and is designed to pass MIL-STD 810G testing for durability. Protect the PC against the evolving malware threats of the future, with self-healing, hardware-enforced, and manageable security solutions.

Pricing and availability

  • The HP EliteBook 705 series will be available in May starting at $999.
  • The HP ProBook 645 G4 will be available in May starting at $759.

HP also introduced a new class of thin clients that will enable the next generation of virtualized computing and cloud-first application adoption across industries. The latest HP Thin Client innovations set new standards for customers seeking modern design, robust security, ease of management and attractive value.


The new HP thin clients include:

  • The new HP t430 Thin Client provides a modern, sleek, and well-connected device designed for deployment of both virtualized desktop applications or cloud-first end user computing use cases.
  • The new HP mt44 Mobile Thin Client to be a perfect balance of form and function and announced enhancements in three key areas; design, collaboration and security.
  • The new HP ThinPro operating system takes virtual desktops to new heights and provides a solution for customers drawn to the benefits of Linux.

The HP t430 Thin Client and HP mt44 Mobile Thin Client are expected to be available worldwide beginning in May 2018. Pricing starts at $249 USD for the HP t430 Thin Client and $849 USD for the HP mt44 Mobile Thin Client. The HP ThinPro version 7 operating system is expected to be available beginning in July 2018.


When You Sell A Car, You May Still Have Access To Its Telematics… Scary…

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 7, 2018 by itnerd

These days many cars allow you to access all sorts of information remotely and even do things like unlock doors and flash the lights. You might even be able to find its location on a map. That all sounds cool. But what happens to that access when you sell the car. Well, if you have a VW, you may still have access based on this article in The Verge:

Last December, Ashley Sehatti sold her 2015 Jetta back to a local Volkswagen dealership in California. So when the calendar turned over, she didn’t understand why she was still getting sent monthly reports about the car’s health. After another one came in April, she finally logged on to VW’s online portal for Car-Net, the telematics system that runs in many of the company’s modern cars.

To her surprise, Sehatti saw the location of her old Jetta on a map, up-to-date mileage, and the status of the car’s locks and lights. It had been resold, and yet she still had access to some of the car’s systems. “There was nothing in place to stop me from accessing the full UI,” she says over email.

That’s kind of disturbing. But when The Verge dug into this, they found that this is what truly is disturbing. It’s up to the customer to disable these services before they sell the car. And that is usually buried in the terms of service…. Which customers never read. That seems to be the case with VW and with other carmakers:

Other automakers that offer telematics services similar to Car-Net, like GM (OnStar) or Volvo (On Call), also tend to put the burden on the customer to disable subscriptions to these services in their terms of service (TOS) agreements. But these automakers also say they have backstops in place that help make sure customers who forget to discontinue these subscriptions (or who, like many, never read the TOS agreements in the first place) don’t retain access to the telematics systems when the car changes hands.

But specifically in the case of VW, if you don’t do this, you’ll be on the hook for anything that happens. At least the other car companies mentioned in The Verge story had some sort of backup plan in case a customer didn’t do this. But these only work if you sell your car back to a dealer. If you sell it privately, all bets are off.

So the take home message is that if you sell your car, you have to treat it like a smartphone that you’re selling on Craigslist. You have wipe the infotainment system before you sell it and disconnect your access to it. Otherwise bad things can happen.

Amazon Launches Kid Friendly Echo Dot…. Is This A Good Idea?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 7, 2018 by itnerd

Amazon is introducing the Echo Dot Kids Edition, a child-focused version of its Echo smart speaker. It’s just like the Echo Dot that you can get now, but it’s aimed at kids. You can turn off the ability to buy stuff. You can force your kids to use words like “please” and “thank you” when interacting with it. Parents choose which services and skills kids can use, and gives them the ability to set a bedtime or block off time for homework, so that kids can’t talk with Alexa when they’re supposed to be sleeping or focusing on other things. And it will serve up age-appropriate content.

But is this a good idea?

I wonder that because I’ve watched four year olds have delightful conversations with Google Assistant and Siri. But these same kids are shy reserved when dealing with people in real life. I also wonder what Amazon is going to do with all the data that they collect on kids that use this gizmo? That’s not a trivial thought given the Facebook data leakage scandal. There’s also the cynical side of me who thinks that this is a great way to get these kids hooked on Amazon services while they’re young.

Then there’s the fact that I have to ask if kids really need to have one of these at all? What is it that kids get out of having a virtual assistant? Will they suffer by not having one? I don’t think so. This seems to be a solution looking for a problem. Thus if I were a parent, I’d be giving this gizmo a pass. Perhaps other parents should do the same and instead do things like send their kids outside to play or read them a book.

Just a thought.

Security Researchers Find 8 New ‘Spectre-Class’ Flaws In Intel CPUs…. Possibly ARM Too

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 7, 2018 by itnerd

Here we go again.

Sometime today, we’re going to get details on eight… Yes eight CPU flaws that are being dubbed “Spectre NG” or Spectre Next Generation. First, here’s the details from Reuters:

Researchers have found eight new flaws in computer central processing units that resemble the Meltdown and Spectre bugs revealed in January, a German computing magazine reported on Thursday. The magazine, called c’t, said it was aware of Intel Corp’s plans to patch the flaws, adding that some chips designed by ARM Holdings, a unit of Japan’s Softbank, might be affected, while work was continuing to establish whether Advanced Micro Devices chips were vulnerable… The magazine said Google Project Zero, one of the original collective that exposed Meltdown and Spectre in January, had found one of the flaws and that a 90-day embargo on going public with its findings would end on May 7…

“Considering what we have seen with Meltdown and Spectre, we should expect a long and painful cycle of updates, possibly even performance or stability issues,” said Yuriy Bulygin, chief executive officer of hardware security firm Eclypsium and a former Intel security researcher. “Hopefully, Meltdown and Spectre led to improvements to the complicated process of patching hardware.”

The reason why

Neowin also reports that Intel is expected to release microcode updates in two waves; one in May, and the other in August. But it also says this:

That being said, it appears that Google’s Project Zero may have discovered at least one of the eight vulnerabilities a while ago, and their stringent 90-day non-disclosure window may be very close to lapsing, perhaps as early as May 7, if sources are to be believed. After that, their policy is to publicly release information on the vulnerability, regardless of whether a fix is out.

Which means that this is about to get very real very quickly. I’ll be watching this story and I’ll be posting updates as new info comes to light.