Sean Ellis

Secondary writer for Haverzine, software developer, amateur musician, artist and photographer. He has spent his free time learning whatever he can to help him in the ever-changing world of technology without regard to the age of whatever he’s learning about.


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Posts written by Sean Ellis

Security at its finest

Samsung’s new fingerprint scanner easily spoofed




glam_galaxy-s5_groupThat fancy fingerprint scanner in your new Samsung Galaxy S5? Turns out, it’s easily spoofed from nothing more than a photograph of your fingerprint.

A German security team, Security Research Labs, was easily able to spoof the system due to the way it’s implemented in other devices which makes it a higher risk. The video, embedded after the break, not only shows the team gaining access to the device by using a fake fingerprint but it also shows them gaining access to PayPal which also supports the new sensor and is just as easily faked out as the rest of the phone.

Interestingly, Ars Technica reports that this spoofing method doesn’t work against Apple’s Touch ID system but does work on the S5. Given that the team acquired the fingerprint simply by taking a photo of a fingerprint left on a screen, it’s very easy to replicate this attack and gain access to everything, especially when you consider just how many smudges are often left on a phone screen.

The video showing off this spoofing attack is embedded after the break.
Source: Ars Technica


6 cameras ought to be enough for that perfect selfie

Amazon’s rumored phone leaks out




amazonphone-bgrThere have been some rumors saying that Amazon is working on their own phone. It looks like the rumors were right because what you see above is reportedly a prototype of Amazon’s upcoming and unannounced phone.

As is the case with many upcoming phones, this prototype is in a decoy shell so that we can’t see what the hardware underneath looks like. A similar method was used by Apple back during the infamous Gizmodo iPhone 4 leak. Nonetheless, this is what is supposed to be Amazon’s phone as it stands right now.

According to BGR, this device will run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon and 2GB of RAM and come with Amazon’s own fork of Android similar to what they use on the Kindle. The screen is a 4.7″ 720p display which is a bit low-resolution in this world today. Finally, as far as specs are concerned, this phone comes with no less than six cameras.

There’s a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a “standard front-facing” camera on the front for your selfies but it also comes with four additional cameras in the front of the device. These four extra cameras are special infrared cameras which are used to track the user’s face. These special cameras are being used to run a glasses-free 3D display similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS.

With all that power under the hood, you’d expect it to have a pricey tag on the outside and you’re probably right: although we’re still a ways away from the release date, BGR reports that the device seen here is the high-end device with an as of yet unseen low-end device coming later.

Source / Image Credit: BGR
Via: Engadget


Finally bringing Windows Phone up to par

Review: Windows Phone 8.1




win81In the Microsoft camp, much excitement has been created over Windows Phone 8.1 and for good reason. Many improvements have been made to Windows Phone including adding new features that have been missing since the very beginning. These new features also help give Windows Phone a fighting chance against its iOS and Android competition.

So let’s find out just what it is that’s got the Microsoft guys so excited. The review, as always, starts after the break.


For Developers

Windows Phone 8.1 is now out




wp_ss_20131014_0001A couple weeks ago, we reported on a rumor that Windows Phone 8.1 would be arriving on April 14th. Today is that day and it’s confirmed – the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for Developers has been released through Microsoft’s Preview for Developer program, meaning anyone with a Windows Phone developer account (even a free App Studio account) can download and install this update just like you would any other update.

According to one of my contacts, the update is split into two parts: the first part is a pre-update, if you will, that presumably contains some bugfixes for the existing Windows Phone 8 OS while the second part is the actual Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview update.

Windows Phone 8.1 contains many new features such as VPN support, more tile customization options and most notably, Cortana. If you’re interested in the update, all you have to do is get your phone developer unlocked and install the Preview for Developers app – but be aware that once you update, there’s no going back to a stable OS.

Review coming soon!


Even smaller than before

Raspberry Pi unveils the Compute Module; Pi board in DDR2 form




CM_and_pi-smallCredit card devices are small and everything, but what if you want something with the same functionality in a smaller form factor? There is where the Raspberry Pi Compute Module comes in.

The new Compute Module packs the entire Raspberry Pi board into a form factor that’s no larger than a stick of laptop DDR2 while also adding on 4GB of storage; something the original Raspberry Pi boards don’t have. Of course, this stick isn’t very useful by itself so to get started with the board, they’re also making an IO Board that Compute Module snaps into, gaining you an HDMI port, the camera connector, a lone USB port and full access to all of the GPIO pins making this similar to the existing Raspberry Pi Model A.

It’s not available for sale just yet but the Raspberry Pi Foundation says that large-scale buyers can get 100 of these things for $30 a piece.

Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation
Via: Engadget


Says the leaked documents

Windows Phone 8.1 to arrive on April 14th?




Windows-Phone-8-Update-3Yesterday, Microsoft showed off Windows Phone 8.1 during the //BUILD/ 2014 Day 1 keynote. The speakers stated that the build would be arriving for developers sometime later in April but didn’t leave any specifics.

Neowin has acquired an internal email that may help shed some more specifics on when the build will be arriving. While there was an earlier build of Windows Phone 8.1 released to Microsoft Connect partners, it wasn’t deemed the gold master because there were a few extra bugs that had to be fixed. This pushback seems to have resulted in the new release date of April 14th with the build being signed off on April 8th.

An important thing to note is that the leaked Neowin email refers to an “adaptation kit” which is for OEM partners to tailor Windows Phone images to their devices and may not mean that ordinary developers will get the build at the same time the OEMs do.

Source: Neowin
Via: WPCentral


coming soon™

T-Mobile announces Windows Phone 8.1 updates, Lumia 635




win81Following the news of Windows Phone 8.1 and the new Lumia 630 family, T-Mobile is one of the first to offer a press release on these new things.

The Lumia 635 is the successor to the Lumia 521 and will be available on T-Mobile. Like the 521, it’s a budget device aimed at the no contract market but it does include LTE support, something that Stephen Elop mentioned during the keynote this morning. It’ll also come with a 4.5″ screen and a quad-core processor which is a considerable upgrade from the 521.

But if you’re still rocking a Lumia 925 or 521, T-Mobile will be releasing the Windows Phone 8.1 update for those devices too. And it’ll also be available for people who own the MetroPCS version of the Lumia 521, as MetroPCS is now owned my T-Mobile. Unfortunately, owners of the Lumia 810 are once again going to be left out in the cold as the press release makes no mention of that device.

The devices and updates are coming to T-Mobile “this summer” with no specific dates or price points mentioned.

Source: T-Mobile
Via: WPCentral


Start Me Up

(April Fools 2014) First Look: Windows 9




Windows-8-Logo1We’re here just one day before //BUILD/ 2014 and yet we’ve gotten ahold of a Windows 9 build. The rumor mill has suggested for some time that the next version of Windows, codenamed Threshold, will contain many changes to the Windows UI to make it more desktop-friendly as it should be. The changes include bringing back the good old Start Menu, Boot to Desktop by default and the ability to run applications in a window.

As I just stated, we’ve acquired a Windows 9 build and we can confirm these changes and many, many more. In fact, Windows 9 is shaping up to be much more than a return to sanity – it’s a complete redesign of everything in Windows from the ground up; everything from Setup to day-to-day use has been changed. And yet it feels familiar and easy to use, something that Windows 8 certainly isn’t.

So if you’re ready to see what Microsoft has in store for Windows 9, check after the break.


LOL, Minecraft

Officially, Minecraft for Oculus Rift has been cancelled




Minecraft-logo-958x340_1674078Following the news that Facebook is buying Oculus comes word that Notch, creator of the wildly popular sandbox game Minecraft has cancelled the official version of Minecraft for Oculus Rift.

For the very reason that Facebook has bought Oculus, Minecraft will never see an official release of the game that is compatible with the Oculus Rift. Notch having stated that “Facebook creeps [him] out” and how Facebook doesn’t care about their users other than if they’re getting more users are some of the reasons why he personally pulled the plug on the project.

Thankfully, the project was just in preliminary talks and given the nature of Minecraft there are mods out there that make it Rift-compatible, they’re just not official.

Source: Notch (notch.net, Twitter


FarmVille for Oculus Rift

Facebook to buy Oculus for $2 billion




facebookHere’s one that came out of nowhere. Today, Facebook has announced that they’re going to buy Oculus for a cool $2 billion. You read that right: Facebook is going to buy the company behind one of the most promising virtual reality headsets we’ve seen to date.

 

The press release states that while gaming is the primary focus for the headset, several other groups are experimenting with VR in other applications with Facebook joining them. It also states that they believe VR might just emerge as the next social media platform with Mark Zuckerberg stating that “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

The deal will be made up of about $400 million in cash and 23 million shares in Facebook stock, roughly worth $1.6 billion. The deal is expected to close in Q2 2014. And don’t worry; Oculus will still continue to work on their Rift headset.

Source: Facebook Newsroom


I must be dreaming

Microsoft releases source code of MS-DOS and Word for Windows




msdosboxBack in 1981, IBM released the very first x86 PC, a standard that is still in use to this day. Powering that little system was an OS written by a then-small Microsoft known to the world as IBM DOS, later renamed to MS-DOS when the clone PCs started coming in.

Today, Microsoft is much larger and IBM no longer makes x86 PCs, but the source code to MS-DOS still lives on within the halls of Redmond. And now it can live on outside of those halls, as Microsoft has released the source code to the public. That’s right, Microsoft themselves are giving away the source code to one of their biggest products back in the day. The source code is being kept in the care of the Computer History Museum in California and as typical for their source code releases, the site is currently down.

Not only have they released the source code to MS-DOS, they’ve also dug up another gem – the source code to Word for Windows 1.1a. Don’t expect too much from this version of Word, as it was originally sold in 1989 as a Windows 2.0 application. Still, it’s out there now and like the MS-DOS source, is under the care of the Computer History Museum.

Despite the fact that both of these releases are well over 20 years old, it’s still something to be happy about since Microsoft themselves gave the thumbs up to release it.

Source: Microsoft, Computer History Museum (MS-DOS, Word for Windows)
Via: The Verge


Lumia 930?

Nokia teasing #moreLumia during //BUILD/ 2014




nokia_logoWhile Microsoft is heading to San Francisco for //BUILD/ in April, Nokia is also planning to head there to announce something on Day 1 of //BUILD/.

The rumour mill is full of speculation that the announcement will be unveiling the successor to the current generation of Lumia hardware – namely, the Lumia 930 and the Lumia 630. It’s probably no surprise this is happening so close together (and on the //BUILD/ floor, no less) given that Microsoft basically owns Nokia now.

According to speculation, Microsoft will be announcing Windows Phone 8.1 on Day 1 of //BUILD/ and Nokia will be holding their event on the same day, but at 5 PM. What else do we know? Nothing much, so we’ll just have to wait. We’ll be covering the events of //BUILD/ Day 1 as they happen.

Source: ZDNet