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August 23, 2014

Leica’s latest rangefinder camera is both speedier and stealthier

Leica M-P

Digital rangefinder cameras may look like retro fashion items, but they're genuinely handy for pros -- they're good for moments when you need quality without carrying a big, conspicuous DSLR. To that end, Leica has just launched the M-P, a new addition to the M series that's more about serious work than style. You're still getting a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor in a relatively small body, but the buffer memory has doubled to a hefty 2GB; the camera should almost always keep up with your rapid-fire photography. There's also a new selection lever that shows you framing for common focal lengths in the viewfinder, and an anti-reflective coating on the scratch-resistant sapphire LCD will help you review your snaps in bright sunlight.

The M-P may also be notable for what's not there -- Leica's signature red dot branding. Much like the film-based MP from 2003, the M-P goes logo-free to avoid drawing attention and spoiling the moment. It won't be the talk of the town as a result, but you also won't disrupt a "natural" street scene. Just be ready to pay a premium for Leica's faster, subtler shooter. You can pre-order the M-P today, but it will cost you a whopping $7,950 -- around $1,000 more than the regular M's current asking price, let alone full-size DSLRs like the Nikon D4S.

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Via: DPReview

Source: Leica (1), (2)

August 23, 2014

Uber drivers reportedly dealing with robberies in Los Angeles

For Uber, its rise to the top hasn't always gone smoothly. From facing legal challenges across different parts of the world, to battling it out verbally with competitors, the ridesharing company has had to fight hard to make a name for itself. And now things have apparently taken a turn for the worse, at least for some of its drivers. According to PandoDaily, a number of Uber drivers in Los Angeles say they have been suffering from serious attacks, such as robberies at gunpoint, in recent months. The report, which cites three drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity, claims that people with bad intentions are using the Uber app to locate drivers on a map in order to rob them. While, in most cases, these criminals are looking to steal the Uber-provided phones carried by operators, PandoDaily was told someone was, at one point, the victim of a carjacking situation. Either way, the main concern here shouldn't be the iPhones or vehicles at stake, but rather every driver's safety. We've reached out to Uber for comment and will update this story if we hear back.

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Source: PandoDaily

August 23, 2014

ComScore: Most people in the US don’t download apps on a regular basis

While smartphone apps come in handy for a variety of uses from sharing photos to navigating a new locale, it appears that most folks in the US barely download them at all. According to ComScore, 65.5 percent of those users 18 and above who wield a handset in the US go a full month without visiting their respective app store for new material. This means that 34.5 percent load up at least one new selection every 30 days, and figures indicate that the top 7 percent of users are responsible for around half of a month's total. What's more, the iOS crowd primarily focuses on news, radio, photos, social networks and weather, while the Android faithful fire up Google Search and Gmail most often. And to the surprise of no one, Facebook is tops in terms of popularity and amount of time spent on its app. All of that said, most folks seem to load up their phones with the usual suspects early on, and don't tend to divide their attention too often thereafter.

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Source: comScore

August 23, 2014

Secret’s next update will add polls and Flickr support, but limit photo uploads

If you love hanging your dirty laundry on carefully curated and symbolic images, then Secret's next update both is -- and isn't -- for you. Sometime next week, the anonymous sharing app will integrate Flickr image search, but access to the photo service's library comes at a price: the ability to use your own photos. The update will remove the ability to upload images from your phone, with the exception of pictures taken in real-time with the Secret app itself.

It's an odd, unexplained restriction, but privacy may have something to do with it: the update also bakes in a new system that analyzes posts for names. Secrets that contain real names will be flagged,and the user will be prompted to "re-think" their post before sharing their secret. Secrets with names will also be reviewed by real staff to ensure they don't violate the company's privacy policy. Finally, the update is adding a new level of interaction: polls. Secrets that feature yes or no questions will have the option of adding a simple poll feature to anonymously tally up the results. Looking for the full details? Check out Secret's official announcement here.

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Source: Medium

August 23, 2014

Twitter’s ‘Buy Now’ button may be powered by Stripe payments

Remember that illusive "Buy Now" button that briefly showed up on Twitter last month? Re/Code says it's still on the way -- and it's backed by Stripe, a mobile payments startup. According to sources close to the outlet, merchants that want to sell products through tweets will need to sign up with Stripe's payment platform to get started, suggesting that the startup will be the only way to pay for goods on the social network. In the past, Twitter has been rumored to be working with Fancy.com to create a "Twitter Commerce" platform, although its unclear when the company's retail ambitions will come to fruition. Still, something is clearly in the works.

[Image credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images]

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Source: Re/Code

August 23, 2014

Over 1,000 US businesses hit with the same cyberattack as Target

Hackers Grab 40 Million Accounts From Target Stores

Target's massive data breach grabbed headlines right in the middle of holiday shopping that year, and the fallout continues. According to a Department of Homeland Security advisory this afternoon, the attacks that hit the red-hued retailer, along with Supervalu and UPS, are much more widespread than first reported. The so-called "Backoff" malware in various versions has actually hit more than 1,000 businesses in the States, allowing hackers to snag info from millions of credit card payments. Remote network access for contractors provides the avenue for entry, and the announcement suggests that companies have vendors take a close look at their systems for possible criminal activity. It's also calling for businesses to put cash registers on a separate network and employ two-factor authentication to help combat would-be intruders.

[Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

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Source: The New York Times

August 23, 2014

Text adventure ‘game’ offers a taste of what clinical depression is like

Unless you're deep in the throes of it yourself, actual, clinical depression can be incredibly hard to wrap your head around. Sure, you can scroll through the Wikipedia article all you like, but intellectually knowing about and feeling depression are two completely different beasts. Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest (which recently hit Steam after a year floating around on the web) is an experience that sort of straddles the line between the two, and -- in spite of a related mess that's still unfolding -- is still worth checking out.

The thing to bear in mind is that Depression Quest isn't a really a game. On a purely mechanical level, it has more in common with visual novels (though DQ doesn't really have any visuals to speak of) and the choose-your-own-adventure books of yore. The choices available to you fluctuate depending on the ones you've already made, and while it's not hard to figure out how to reach the "best" ending, it's still frustrating to see what options get shut out as you embark down branching mental paths.

What it is -- at least to me -- is evocative. As you guide your nameless protagonist through pained days and seasons (don't worry, the whole experience is pretty short), you might feel the occasional twang of empathy as you blow off a fictional coworker's invitation to hang out or struggle with the prospect of adopting a kitten. At times that twang might grow into a dull throb when some of these situations strike a little too close to home. They certainly did for me; I'd occasionally read through a paragraph or two of exposition only find to myself asking some weighty questions when I finished. Am I weird for feeling the same way? Should I choose the "right" option, or what I know I'd do in that situation? Do I need to explore some of the options available to my protagonist? It's that weird sort of cognitive dissonance that can make Depression Quest such an experience.

That's not to say the experience is a flawless one. Quinn admits in a prologue that the story doesn't strive for medical accuracy, and you'll occasionally be struck by how clichéd and hamfisted things can get. If you frequent Tumblr or spend your time in the geekier corners of the web, you'll probably also know that Quinn has recently been caught up in a personal and ethical firestorm or two (which has been dissected endlessly elsewhere, and that I offer no judgment on) that might color your perception of her work. Try to resist that urge. At worst, you'll get sick of Depression Quest, quit Steam after 10 minutes and move on with your day. At best, though, you just might get a taste of the sort of self-loathing and smothering ennui that so many people with depression experience to varying degrees everyday.

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Source: Depression Quest

August 23, 2014

NSA and GCHQ employees may be undermining the agencies’ work to hack Tor

It's no secret that US and British spy agencies are trying to crack the Tor network, but new information suggests that the agencies' floundering efforts may be sabotaged from within. For the uninitiated, Tor is a web browser that anonymizes a person's identity, location and browsing activity using various technologies -- it's also a known gateway to the so-called "dark-web" that hosts sites like the Silk Road. Naturally, spy organizations see it as a threat, but the Tor Project's Andrew Lewman says some of the agencies' employees are undermining their own hacking efforts. "There are plenty of people in both organizations who can anonymously leak data to us and say, maybe you should look ere, maybe you should fix this," he told the BBC in a recent interview. "And they have."

Technically, Lewman can't know if these suggestions are coming from spy agencies, but he says it makes sense. Tor's anonymous bug reporting system makes it impossible to tell where the reports come from, but the issues that are coming in are so granular, he says, they have to be coming from users who have spent hundreds of hours scrutinizing Tor's source code. "It's a hung," Lewman admits, but he's convinced its accurate. NSA whistleblower William Binney has reportedly told Lewman that NSA employees are upset by the organizations activity recently, and may be leaking data to Tor as a subtle retaliation. Naturally, neither the NSA or GCHQ commented on the matter -- but the possibility of spies undermining themselves for the sake of ethics is fascinating. Check out the full interview at the BBC source link below.

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Source: BBC

August 23, 2014

Google buys design firm behind OLPC and Slingbox

Man, Google's checkbook is really getting a workout this summer. According to a report from Bloomberg, the search giant just acquired yet another company, and unlike the other two companies it bought this month, it isn't an mobile app startup No, no: its latest target is a small product design firm called Gecko, and Google's looking to bring those design smarts to bear on its ambitious Google X projects.

You might not heard of Gecko, but you've almost certainly come across one of the products they've helped design. There's the original Fitbit, for one, to say nothing of Jawbone's early Bluetooth headsets, the friendly looking One Laptop Per Child notebook and a whole host of Dell PCs over the years. Gecko's technical bonafides and awfully pretty designs seem almost beyond question, but what's still unclear is what projects Gecko will start (or has already started) pitching in on. There are some we could probably cross off the list, though: Google's internet-beaming balloons might not need a facelift, and there isn't a lot you can do to gussy up a pair of smart contact lenses. Gecko's forté lays in consumer tech design - perhaps the next big Google Glass revision (which the folks in Mountain View have been trying to inject with style for a while now) will look like something people will actually want to wear.

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Via: Bloomberg

Source: Gecko Design