So you thought the facial recognition technology built into your laptop would keep your business and personal information safe? Bwa-ha-ha! Today, the Black Hat DC 2009 security conference found out that, as Vietnam-based security researcher Nguyen Minh Duc puts it, Your Face is NOT Your Password.
Nguyen's paper reveals (PDF link) that it's relatively simple to hack facial recognition systems included in webcam-equipped laptops from Lenovo (Veriface III), ASUS (SmartLogon v1.0.0.0005), and Toshiba (Face Recognition 18.104.22.168). Methods used included using photographs in place of live faces (Facebook, anyone?) and performing brute-force attacks by changing lighting and photo angles in a digitized face until the system permits access.
Are you counting on facial-recogntion technology to keep your stuff safe? Is your company? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off on this latest "unbreakable," but now broken, access-control technology.
Stanford Professor Byron Reeves is a Planeteer, and you can be one too -- if you’re an MMORPG player. Reeves’ plan hedges its bets on the idea that you’re willing to install a Smart Meter, a device that monitors electricity usage in your house and sends a report of your wasteful excesses to power companies.
However, instead of giving power companies the skinny on your war against the Energizer Bunny, Reeves hopes to send pertinent information to games like World of Warcraft. He outlined his energy-saving plan during radio show Living on Earth’s Green Gaming segment:
"So imagine that you're in your home, you're signed into [the] game… and you make a decision in the game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom [in real life]. As soon as you do that, the Smart Meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer and your house [in the game] turns a shade of green that it wasn't before,” he explained.
“And if I'm using less electricity, my team might do well. I get gold pieces and points… whatever the game designers think is fun. You get feedback in an entertainment game about what you're doing in the real world."
Sounds good to us, though implementing it – especially in a game as colossal as World of Warcraft – might be a bit rough. Then again, Blizzard did invent a race of hippie cow-people, so you never know.
BenQ has finally made good on their promises to release an all-in-one computer, and it has come in the form of the nScreen i91.
The screen-based computer has a sizeable 18.5-inch 16:9 LCD screen, with an AMD Semperon 210U processor, 1GB of memory and a 160GB HDD under the hood. To help sweeten the deal they’ve included a 4-in-1 card reader, an integrated webcam, and an average power consumption of just 30 watts.
It’s designed to be as easy to use as possible, with a main selling point that you can simply plug it in, press the volume/power knob, and be on the Internet.
There haven’t been any announcements yet as to when this will be available here in the U.S., but it is currently available in Taiwan for roughly $517.
If your company releases a browser, you’d hope that your own website would work using said browser, wouldn’t you? Well, it looks like Microsoft has managed to somehow mess that up, with their very own site (among others) on IE8’s incompatibility list.
Among the broken sites are bigs such as Google.com, Yahoo.com, Live.com, Wikipedia.org, Flickr.com and many others. A larger list can be found here.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the next update for IE8 is a big one.
OCZ has added a backlit keyboard to its Alchemy line of gaming peripherals, but this one comes with a twist. Unlike traditional backlit planks, OCZ's Illuminati lets users switch between blue or red LED backlit keys, erasing the fear that the decor at the next LAN party you attend might clash with your keyboard.
In addition to the user-selectable color scheme, the Illuminati comes equipped with rubber-coated keys, which the company claims will last for more than 5 million cycles. Gamers can also make use of 14 multimedia and internet hotkeys and a curved wrist wrest. What you won't find on the keyboard are any USB ports.
OCZ launched its Alchemy line last year in an attempt to offer gaming peripherals without the high prices that typically come hand-in-hand. The Illuminati is the third keyboard in the company's Alchemy series, with the Elixir and Elixir II having come before it.
To borrow from Jerry Maguire's 'You had me at hello' scene, Maingear's newest product announcement had us 'Core i7,' but lost us when the talk turned to the GPU. The new Prelude 2, as it's being called, combines Intel's Core i7 platform with a Samsung 22-inch LCD monitor and tops it off with Nvidia's 3D Vision Technology, and at under two grand, it sounds like an intriguing proposition. But sticking out like a sore thumb is the inclusion of Nvidia's mid-range 9800GT videocard.
"The fact that Maingear customers will have the ability to play games in 3D stereo is just awesome," said Ujesh Desai, general manager of GPU business at NVIDIA. "NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision is taking the world by storm, and Maingear’s Prelude 2 is going to deliver a mind-blowing experience."
That "mind-blowing experience" will be delivered by Intel's Core i7 920 (2.66GHz) processor nestled into an Asus P6T X58 motherboard, 3GB of triple channel DDR3-1066 memory, a 250GB Western Digital hard drive with 16MB of cache, onboard audio, a 650W power supply, and Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit all stuffed inside a Lian-Li enclosure.
To be fair, this is only a baseline configuration. The Prelude 2 offers plenty of customization options, including up to a 1200W power supply, up to two of the hard to find dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Intel's full lineup of Core i7 processors, liquid cooling, up to 12GB of Corsair XMS DDR3-1333MHz memory, up to four hard drives (including Intel's X25-M 80GB SSD, Western Digital's Velociraptor, and RAID 0), and a host of other goodies.
The Prelude 2 is available now from Maingear.com starting at just shy of $2000 (baseline configuration).
With Google having opened Android Market to paid apps, users of the fledgling mobile platform are eagerly looking forward to an inevitable rise in the number of apps. Google, on its part, is trying its best to offer more reasons for Android users to exult.
And exult they will on hearing that the Android Market will let users return any application within 24 hours from the time of purchase. Google has stolen a march on Apple’s App Store by espousing an application return policy.
Also, users will be allowed unlimited reinstalls by Google. If any dispute arises - including billing issues - between a user and a developer, the two parties will have to settle it directly as Google is not interested in playing arbitrator. Another thing Google is not interested in is porn. The Android Market policies expressly prohibit “nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material.”
Shuttle has always been good about their barebone systems, and that trend doesn’t stop with the SX58H7. This beefy little scrapper comes ready for tons of power, by the means of Intel’s Core i7 and two video cards.
The SX58H7 comes with an X58 Express chipset, and 500 watt PSU, two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots, space for up to 16GB of DDR3 DRAM, and room for two SATA II drives. Should you be looking to hook yourself into the lifeline of data, there’s also two gigabit Ethernet jacks on the back.
It’ll run you about $611, which isn’t a pleasant price tag. But, if you’ve got some money burning a hole in your pocket, and want to put a lot of power in a small place, be sure to check this out.
Nvidia this week released new WHQL GeForce drivers for GeForce 6, 7, 8, 9, and 200-series owners. The new drivers, version 182.06, promise around a 10 percent performance increase in Fallout 3 at high resolution with AA, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Half Life 2 at high resolution with AA, the insanely entertaining Left 4 Dead at high resolution with AA, and Race Driver: GRID, also at high resolution with AA.
In addition to double-digit performance boosts, Nvidia says its new drivers include full support for OpenGL 3.0 on GeForce 8, 9, and 200 series GPUs and automatically installs the new PhysX software (version 9.090203. The drivers also fix a bug in Vista 32-bit where GeForce 9800 GTX/GX2/GT/GTX+ and 8800 GTS/GT/GS owners experienced a system hang when switching between performance states.
After purchasing a Lenovo PC preloaded with Microsoft's Windows Vista, Emma Alvarado was shocked to learn she would have to pay $59.25 in order to downgrade to Windows XP. She's now taking the matter to court and has a filed a lawsuit against Microsoft.
"Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers preinstalled with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to 'downgrade' to the Windows XP operating system," the suit alleges.
The suit is an interesting one, though probably an uphill battle for Alvrado to convince a judge that Microsoft is in the wrong. The software maker had originally intended for XP to go the way of the dodo bird at the end of June in 2008, but has since offered more than one stay of execution due to consumer demand. Both Vista Business and Ultimate come with downgrade rights, but it's up to the OEMs to decide if they want to offer it as an option, and if so, for how much. Pricing varies by OEM, which might make Alvarado's claim that Microsoft extended its XP cutoff date because of "tremendous profits" hard to prove in court.
Does Alvarado have a case? Hit the jump and give us your verdict.