Tag Archives: China

The Apocalypticon ~ Korea, Russia, China, Social Media, cleaners, CRISPR threat, time travellers, booze anger

Korean DMZ — Is this the ‘scariest place on Earth?’ (I think Washington DC is scarier, myself). The Korean Demilitarized Zone was established in 1953 as part of the armistice agreement that ended three years of brutal fighting between North and South Korea. Stretching across the 250km (155-mile) width of the Korean peninsula, the approximately 3.2km (2-mile) wide swath of land is bounded on both sides by several lines of barbed wire fence and one of the largest concentration of soldiers and artillery in the world. President Bill Clinton once called it the “scariest place on earth.” Now you can see images of it.

Enriched uranium floating about — On 3 August 2016, 7km above Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, a research plane captured something mysterious: An atmospheric aerosol particle enriched with the kind of uranium used in nuclear fuel and bombs.
It’s the first time scientists have detected such a particle just floating along in the atmosphere in 20 years of plane-based observations. And this has baffled scientists. [North Korea?]

The Russian charges — Surprise! The US Justice Department has revealed an eight-count indictment charging 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities over their alleged meddling in US politics, including the 2016 US presidential election. So while the current White House may result from Russian meddling, it has been eight months since the malware known as NotPetya tore through the internet, rippling out from Ukraine to paralyse companies and government agencies around the world. On Thursday, the White House finally acknowledged that attack. And in a reversal of its often seemingly willful blindness to the threat of Russian hacking, it has called out the Kremlin as NotPetya’s creator.
Meanwhile, Russian bots flooded Twitter with pro-gun tweets after the school shooting in Florida.

Social media — General practitioner Rangan Chatterjee says he has seen plenty of evidence of the link between mental ill-health in children and their use of social media. “One 16 year-old boy was referred to him after he self-harmed and ended up in A&E,” reports the BBC. Dr Chatterjee was going to put him on anti-depressants, but instead worked with him to help wean him off social media. Maybe he’s not the only one: Facebook lost around 2.8 million US users under 25 last year.

China — The heads of six top US intelligence agencies told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week they would not advise Americans to use products or services from Chinese smartphone maker Huawei. [That’s going to go down well …] Huawei responded that it “poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor.”
China has reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plan trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country’s forest coverage. The soldiers are from the People’s Liberation Army, along with some of the nation’s armed police force. The majority will be dispatched to Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, known to be a major culprit for producing the notorious smog which blankets the capital city.

Household cleaners, paints and perfumes have become substantial sources of urban air pollution as strict controls on vehicles have reduced road traffic emissions, scientists say. Researchers in the US looked at levels of synthetic “volatile organic compounds”, or VOCs, in roadside air in Los Angeles and found that as much came from industrial and household products refined from petroleum as from vehicle exhaust pipes.

CRISPR could be triggering unintended mutations — Last winter, a letter appeared in a scientific journal that challenged how truly “revolutionary” and world-changing CRISPR gene-editing technology really might be. Researchers found that when they used CRISPR to cure blindness in mice, it had resulted in not just a few but more than a thousand unintended effects. Those unintended changes to DNA, they found, were not detectable using common methods for checking for off-target effects. This, the authors wrote, meant that CRISPR needed significant fine-tuning before it was ready to cure disease in people. Stocks tumbled. The scientific community freaked out.

And in good, or at least funny, news — Time travellers: though most of their wild tales were eventually disproven, the stories are still incredible. Here are five of the most memorable.
Australian scientists are trying to work out why some drunks get so mean. Dramatic mood shifts while drinking alcohol are normal, but for some of us, booze takes us down a path toward nasty, belligerent and downright aggressive behaviour. By studying brain scans of drunk men, Australian scientists have pinpointed the parts of our brain that go weak when we drink, making us meaner than usual. But like so many aspects of human psychology, it’s a lot more complicated than that. [I’ve always thought drunkenness reveals true nature, myself.]


China, Ireland and India, PingPlotter analyses networks

(Image from SecureWorld)
(Image from SecureWorld)

New Chinese cybersecurity law will force Apple to keep data on local servers, aid gov’t. searches — The Chinese parliament has officially approved new electronic security legislation, due to go into effect in June 2017, which could force companies like Apple to make changes to how they handle their data infrastructure – particularly if they’re concerned about privacy.

Irish High Court fast-tracks the Apple data center challenge — The Irish High Court has agreed to put Apple on its commercial list, fast-tracking the resolution of legal objections over its planned €850 million (£756 million) datacenter near Athenry, County Galway, according to Business Insider.

Apple seeks incentives from India’s government before setting up a manufacturing plant — Apple has sought incentives from the Indian government before setting up a manufacturing unit in the country, according to the Economic Times. The incentives are purportedly related to the Department of Revenue and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY).

PingPlotter is a powerful, versatile and a solid tool troubleshooting a connection issue and goes from free to pro — No matter how reliable and fast your Internet is, there are times of unexplained slowness or times when you simply cannot connect reliably to a website. PingPlotter allows you to view the various ‘hops‘ between you and another server. You can view each step in real time and it graphically shows the speed as well as each server that is being used along the way. You can set up multiple windows to trace multiple connections.
PingPlotter can be downloaded free and comes with versions for macOS, Windows, and iOS. The free version has quick troubleshooting all the way up to a US$200 version for professional users. There is a detailed manual online if you would like to see all the application can do.

More Apple Watch water resistance, China, NY Times free, Nuimo controller, PhoneClean

Nuimo is a freely configurable, wireless controller for your favorite apps and smart devices. It's on Kickstarter and doing well.
Nuimo is a freely configurable, wireless controller for your favorite apps and smart devices. It’s on Kickstarter and doing well.

Apple Watch stands up to extreme water submersion in new tests — The Apple Watch has an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means it can survive dunks up to three feet deep and still work. Apple doesn’t recommend showering, swimming, or diving with the watch, and most people will abide by that advice. But not triathlete Ray Maker, who did everything to his Watch Sport that Apple warns against. Meanwhile, Apple Watch video banner ads have appeared atop YouTube’s homepage.

China’s military bans Apple Watch and other wearable tech — Apple may have a hard time finding a place on the wrist of Chinese soldiers because the country’s military has banned Apple Watch as a potential security threat. Other companies are up against the same brick wall, too, because the military sees wearable tech devices as tools enemies could use to spy, or to track soldier’s movements. [‘Synchronise your watches … not.’]

New York Times goes free in app update, Periscope moves beyond Twitter accounts — In a pair of iOS app updates, The New York Times dropped subscription fees for unlimited article access, while live-streaming video app Periscope added profile creation options for users who lack Twitter accounts.

Scenic’s Nuimo on Kickstarter — Nuimo is a freely programmable controller for computer applications and connected devices including Sonos, Philips Hue and Lockitron and more than 30+ other integrations.

PhoneClean tidies up iPhones – now on 74% price reduction — PhoneClean helps you reclaim space filled with useless information, so you can download the newest apps, snap endless photos, and jam to your favourite tunes without maxing out your space. Plus PhoneClean helps you clear out private information so you don’t risk it getting in the wrong hands. And it’s now on special.

Apple Store in China, Nisus Writer Pro on special, Thunderbolt

The new Apple Store in Chongqing's Guotai Plaza will be the company's fourth shot at combining a cavernous underground space with an above-ground landmark
The new Apple Store in Chongqing’s Guotai Plaza will be the company’s fourth shot at combining a cavernous underground space with an above-ground landmark (and no, I have no faith in Mayor Brown’s idea that Auckland’s getting an Apple Store, BTW).

Apple unwraps second retail store in China with cylindrical glass entrance — In the midst of a major retail expansion across China, Apple continues to make progress on its latest flagship outlet in the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, recently breaking down the scaffolding surrounding the new store’s dramatic cylindrical entrance.

My favourite Mac word processor on special — Nisus Software has teamed up with great developers of great tools such as Scrivener, DEVONthink Pro, Tinderbox, Aeon Timeline, and of course Nisus Writer Pro. Use this special link to save 25% on Nisus Writer Pro. To save 25% on other excellent WinterFest software use the coupon code WINTERFEST2014 during checkout.
You can learn more about this collection of exceptional software for writers from the WinterFest 2014 page.

OWC’s Viper Pro SSD-based external hard drives — These sport dual Thunderbolt 2 ports, which the company says can push transfer speeds up to 1,400 megabytes per second. The drives will be available in 4-terabyte and 8-terabyte capacities, and users will have the option to purchases a RAID edition preconfigured in RAID 4.

Futurology 19 ~ Waterless life, Vesta mapped, moon lamp, Microsoft robo-security, Chinese sys, Egyptian spells

Hige asteroid Vesta has been mapped in detail
Huge asteroid Vesta has been mapped in detail

Life might evolve on waterless planets — Astrobiologists Nediljko Budisa and Dirk Schulze-Makuch believe supercritical CO2 might be capable of acting as a life-sustaining solvent in a planetary, environment, which means life could evolve without the presence of water.
~ I’ll drink to that. 

Incredibly detailed map of Asteroid Vespa — A beautiful geologic map of big asteroid/minor-planet Vesta has been created (main picture) by a team led by planetary scientist David Williams, from data collected by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft during its 15-month orbit of the oblong object between 2011 and 2012.
~ I believe you can get lotion for bad asteroids. 

Supermoon lamp — An LED lamp designed by Nosigner is based on the March 19th, 2011 Supermoon, where the moon appeared 14% bigger and 30% brighter. It’s also completely accurate to the actual moon. Nosigner used data from the Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya. ~ Have your own full moon every night. 

Microsoft testing robo-security guards — Microsoft is testing five robot security guards. They contain a sophisticated sensor suite that includes 360-degree HD video, thermal imaging, night vision, LIDAR, and audio recorders. They can also detect various chemicals and radiation signatures, and do some rudimentary behavioral analysis on people they see. They weigh about 300 lbs each, can last roughly a day on a battery charge, and know to head to the charging station when they’re low on power.
~ Stop or I’ll shoot! Please wait while Critical Security Update is in progress …

Cern discovers two knew subatomic particles — Particle physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider have detected two new subatomic particles that were predicted to exist but never seen. The discovery of the two new baryon particles stands to deepen our understanding of the universe.
~ I predict there might be another one. 

Intel panning thumb-sized PCs — Intel is shrinking PCs to (big) thumb-sized ‘compute sticks’ for next year. The stick will plug into the back of a smart TV or monitor “and bring intelligence to that,” said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, during the Intel investor conference in Santa Clara, California.
~ Catchy name? Not so much. 

Ancient Chinese pigment eliminates a dimension — Han purple is an ancient pigment that wasn’t reconstructed by modern chemists until 1992. The physicists found the pigment eliminates an entire dimension. It makes waves go two-dimensional!
~ Ancient Chinese cleverness strikes again.

Bike bottle gathers it own water — The weight of water limits how much can be brought on a long bike ride. There isn’t always an option to stop and fill up from a clean stream or drinking fountain, but  Austrian industrial design student Kristof Retezár has created the prototype of a water bottle system that condenses humid air into clean, drinkable water.
~ Fill, damn you!

1300 year old Egyptian spells deciphered — Arcane invocations in the Handbook of Ritual Power, an 8th-century, 20-page codex, has been translated and published by two Australian scholars of religion and ancient history. The researchers, Malcolm Choat at Macquarie University and Iain Gardner at the University of Sydney, believe the 27 spells in the codex were originally scattered among other documents, and later combined with other invocations to form a “single instrument of ritual power.”
~ I have one of those – iPhone 6. 

Apple Pay burgers, sleek Mujjo 6 case, Apple Pay in China, Heyday

Mujo's new leather iPhone 6 case lets you pack your iPhone, drivers license, and a debit and credit card all in one sleek, classy package
Mujo’s new leather iPhone 6 case lets you pack your iPhone, drivers license, and a debit and credit card all in one sleek, classy package

Apple Pay now accounts for 50% of top-to-pay transactions at McDonald’s in the US — Apple Pay certainly wasn’t the first mobile payment platform to hit the market, but it’s increasingly starting to look like it will be the first to actually have an impact on the way consumers pay for goods and services. Just days after Whole Foods indicated that it has processed over 150,000 Apple Pay transactions, the New York Times reports that Apple’s new mobile payment platform has seen impressive adoption at McDonald’s and Walgreens.

Classiest iPhone 6 case so far looks after your Credit Cards too — The Leather Wallet Case 80° for iPhone 6 Plus (and 6) offers a very classy, slender package based on the concept of its popular predecessor. Redesigned to complement the larger iPhone 6 Plus, the new leather case from  Dutch company Mujjo (check out the gallery at the site) is designed to be as slim as possible, and crafted from Mujjo’s signature high quality vegetable-tanned leather (pictured above). Placed at an 80° angle, a slant line marks the card pocket, placed at an 80° angle. This positions the cards to fit in at an upward angle, to keep them tightly secure and in place. It costs 49 euros (about NZ$77).
This company also makes gloves that work with iDevice touchscreens.

Apple strikes App Store deal with UnionPay, China’s massive bank card provider — Millions of Chinese will now be able to buy from Apple’s App Store through the country’s major domestic banking card provider, in a deal that could help the company squeeze even more revenue from one of its biggest markets.

Heyday is a wonderful, well-designed personal journal app for iPhone — Steve Sande reckons “Day One is one of my favorite apps both on iOS and OS X. But I’ve often wished for a way that my daily travels and photos could be automatically captured for posterity. That’s the idea behind Heyday, an iPhone app that’s billed as a ‘Smart Photo Organizer and Collage Journal/Diary’.” [Will your great grandchildren ever get to read it, though?]

Record price for vintage Apple, 25 Stores for China, Baleful, Yosemite, SSL, suit

The Apple-1, essentially a stand-alone circuit board, was hand-built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in 1976
The Apple-1, essentially a stand-alone circuit board, was hand-built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in 1976

Vintage Apple-1 computer sells for a record US$905,000 — A 38-year-old working Apple-1 personal computer (above) sold Wednesday at auction for a record $905,000 (about NZ$1,157,688.67), almost double the auctioneer’s high-end estimate. [Now to find some software …]

Tim Cook says Apple plans 25 new retail stores in China within 2 years — In an interview conducted on his trip to China to visit Foxconn and discuss security, Cook reportedly confirmed Apple’s plans to open up 25 additional retail stores in China within the next two years. Cook had intimated as much earlier this week during Apple’s earnings conference call.

Confirmed: Christian Bale to play Steve Jobs in Aaron Sorkin penned biopic — Christian Bale will be taking on the role of Steve Jobs in the upcoming Aaron Sorkin penned biopic on the Apple co-founder. Bloomberg confirmed the news early on Thursday, with Sorkin himself noting that Bale secured the role without even going through a formal audition. [Gah.]

OS X Yosemite: The Quintessential Review — On October 16. Apple released OS X Yosemite which is version 10.10. John Martellaro at Mac Observer has been beta testing since the first developer release and also testing with iOS 8. Here is everything that he has learned about “this stellar OS X release“. Meanwhile TUAW tells you how to address its most annoying features, and some Mac users report Bluetooth lag & connection issues after updating to OS X Yosemite. [I have noticed lag – coming soon to this site: 5 Yosemite tips.]

Apple ending SSL 3.0 push notifications in wake of severe POODLE vulnerability — Apple will stop support next week for an encryption protocol found to contain a severe vulnerability, the company said on Wednesday. Support for SSL 3.0 will cease as of Oct. 29, it said.

Apple Wins GPNE patent lawsuit, calls company a Patent Troll — GPNE lost its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple on Wednesday,after which the iPhone and iPad maker promptly called the company a patent troll — a term it was barred from using during the trial. GPNE accused Apple of designing its mobile devices around its years-old pager patent and asked the court to bar the use of “patent troll” in the proceedings.

Wall Street on Apple earnings, record Mac sales, more Yosemite tips, Spotlight backlash, Hackers in China, Windows backups

No more fiddly phone keyboarding – you can now send Text Messages from your Mac (with Yosemite)
No more fiddly phone keyboarding – you can now send Text Messages from your Mac (with Yosemite)

Wall Street blown away by Apple’s ‘remarkable’ record September quarter — Apple exceeded market expectations this week with the results of its record breaking September quarter, leading analysts to heap praise on the company and raise their price targets as it heads into what is expected to be a blockbuster holiday season.
Apple last quarter sold 5.5 million Macs, more than it’s ever sold in any other quarter in company history. MacObserver weighs in, too.

Apple just sold more Macs than iPods for the first time in a decade — The iPad and iPhone are both selling extremely well these days, but Apple’s other portable, the iPod, is not. Being replaced by smartphones as the default mobile music player of choice, the iPod dipped to under 15 million units sold in fiscal 2014, which means two things: the iPod’s bottom has not yet been reached, and the Mac just outsold Apple’s dedicated media player for the first time since 2003.

Bottom line: should you upgrade to OS X Yosemite? Recently we’ve covered OS X Yosemite up one side and down the other. Read through Macworld’s guides for installing Yosemite; getting familiar with the new operating system’s design; putting Handoff and Continuity to good use; and learning about changes to Safari, Notification Center, Spotlight, and Mail, Messages, and Calendars. And check out How to send and receive SMS text messages in OS X Yosemite.

New in Yosemite: Mail Drop, signatures and annotations in OS X Mail — Mail in OS X hasn’t gotten a lot of love over the last few years, with its feature set remaining pretty inert. Finally, with the release of Yosemite, Mail has received some very nice and useful updates.

Apple responds to Spotlight Suggestions ‘backlash,’ says personal data collection limited — In response to a Monday report alleging Apple has started to automatically collect user search and location data through Spotlight Suggestions, the company has issued a statement clarifying the extent to which customer information is gathered and how it is used.

Hackers targeting Apple iCloud users in mainland China with ‘massive’ attack — Hackers have reportedly begun targeting iCloud users in mainland China, utilising a so-called “man-in-the-middle” approach in an attempt to steal user information, with one group accusing the Chinese government itself of perpetrating the attack.

Paragon Software Group releases Boot Camp Backup Beta — the industry’s first all-in-one Windows system backup, restore and migration solution on OS X. The easy-to-use tool includes incremental sector-level backup and other advancements. The official press announcement follows below. With the beta release, Paragon Software gives away 40 commercial product licenses and a 30% discount on the final product to all beta testers.

1M iPhone 6 Chinese preorders, 6+ accessories, HealthKit apps, hidden Instagram, PhotoDirector, Alexia Crowe

Alexia Crowe has an interesting premise, but you have to pay $2.59 to progress beyond the demo screen!
Alexia Crowe has an interesting premise, but you have to pay $2.59 to progress beyond the demo screen!

Chinese carriers notch 1M official iPhone 6 & 6 Plus preorders in 6 hours — Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus officially went up for preorder in China Friday morning and initial reports say the country’s top three wireless carriers accepted one million orders in the first six hours of availability.

Big iPhone 6 launch leads to huge sales of accessories — Whenever Apple launches a new iPhone or iPad, financial and marketing analysis firms are always quick to point out just how many devices were sold in a short amount of time, and what the probable positive impact is to the company’s bottom line.
The NPD Group Weekly Tracking Service showed that for the two weeks following the release of the new iPhones, accessories accounted for a whopping US$249 million in sales.

iOS 8 HealthKit-compatible apps hit the App Store — Now that iOS 8.0.2 is out with support for the Health app enabled, third-party developers are starting to roll out their apps with HealthKit support. The list isn’t very long yet, but it is growing so we expect to see more apps showing up soon.

Hidden menu in Instagram’s Hyperlapse app allows 1080P recording and more — Instagram’s Hyperlapse allows you to create impressive time lapse videos in an easy to use package. Controls are basic, and settings are minimal, but as noticed by Youtube user hoschdebacha, you can have some fun with a suite of advanced settings hidden in the app.

PhotoDirector — Free with one in-app purchase, this new to iOS app is CyberLink which has photo editors for Mac and Windows on the market. The app debuts with impressive editing features including smart object removal like content-aware fill in Photoshop and plenty of other powerful features.

Alexia Crow and the Cave of Heroes — Alexia Crow and The Cave of Heroes free app is universally available but is optimised for iPhone 5. The game (pictured above) follows Alexia Crow, a young girl who falls down a cave opening and ends up in a mythical realm. Tutored by a centaur who had as his former students such luminaries as Hercules and Achilles, it is Alexia’s turn to demonstrate her courage and ingenuity in solving tasks her tutor gives her.

Futurology 03 ~ North Korea’s futures buildings, advances, new data

North Korea's view of the future
North Korea’s view of the future

North Korea’s view of the architectural future — North Korea’s architecture is truly fascinating, influenced by the need to rebuild Pyongyang in the wake of the Korean War and the nation’s relative isolation. What happens when an architect who has never been outside North Korea designs futuristic buildings to accommodate tourists visiting their country? This (and above).
~ Kinda cutesy though. 

The experimental ebola serum is being grown inside tobacco plants — For years, scientists have been looking for cheaper and faster ways to make vaccines, including tinkering with what sounds like an unlikely source: tobacco plants. In fact, the highly experimental serum given to the two American Ebola patients was created using this novel technique. Here’s how it works.
~ ‘Smoking drugs’! Finally a good use for tobacco.

Simply layering solar cells could make them as cheap as natural gas — Usually the focus is exotic solutions to making solar power more efficient: new materials, complex tracking systems or unusual physical phenomena. But what about just stacking them on top of each other? A startup called Semprius is doing just that, figuring it could make solar as cost-effective as natural gas.
~ Experimental units are already nearly twice as efficient. 

IBM’s new brain-like chip squeezes one million neurons onto a stamp —Big Blue has married neuroscience and supercomputing to create a new computer chip that’s the size of a postage stamp but boasts one million neurons and uses as little electricity as a hearing aid (about 70 milliwatts). It’s called TrueNorth.
~ SuperClever.

A second Caribbean to Pacific canal — A Chinese telecom billionaire has joined forces with Nicaragua’s famously anti-American president to construct a waterway between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean to rival the Panama Canal. The massive engineering undertaking would literally slice through Nicaragua and be large enough to accommodate the supertankers that are the hallmark of fleets around the world today.
~ But what will the hat look like?

Software adds 3D to 2D photos — A group of students from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Berkeley have developed free software which uses regular 2D images and combines them with free 3D models of objects to create unbelievable video results. The group of four students created the software (currently for Mac OS X only, and freely downloadable) that allows users to perform 3D manipulations, such as rotations, translations, scaling, deformation, and 3D copy-paste, to objects in photographs.
~ Pretty cool. 

3D printed falcons protect airports — A Dutch company has created 3D-printed robot birds of prey that can soar and swoop like the real thing, scaring away pesky real birds away from airports and fields.
~ And who wouldn’t want one?

Our ancestors may have left Africa even earlier than previously believed — The prevailing view maintains modern humans left the continent 60,000 years ago, but fossils recovered in Asia have given rise to the theory that a human exodus may have reached China as early as 100,000 years ago.
~ Genetics suggests earlier migrations.