This is Not Android on the iPhone

Wait, what?

Nick Lee:

Finally, Android on the iPhone
You heard me. The holy war is over, brethren. At Tendigi, we’ve designed and built a case that allows iPhone devotees to sample the best Mountain View has to offer. Join me as I outline the steps taken to achieve this feat, as well as the numerous pitfalls encountered along the way.

Okay, that sounds interesting. I’d love some straightforward method of being able to try out modern versions of Android without having buy Android hardware.

It must have been extremely complicated to get this done in software!

I ended up having to port (or outright build) the following components for Android:

[…]

screenstreamer: A daemon I wrote that connects to the usbmuxd service, transmitting the screen’s contents to the iPhone and emulating touch events on the Android side. This is where the magic happens. While there are many ways to capture the screen on Android, I achieved the best performance by connecting to the SurfaceFlinger service and reading screenshots from it. For more information, see this header file and this presentation. The droidVncServer repository on GitHub also contains some helpful pointers.

Are you kidding me? This is the equivalent of VNC streaming a Windows 10 desktop to an Android phone and saying that you got Windows 10 to run on an Android phone. The “Final product” image is a thick ass backpack that contains off-the-shelf Android hardware strapped onto an iPhone and looks like crap. If this were from a 14 year old at a school science fair that would be incredible.

Are Steam Machines a Failure After Only 7 Months?

Valve’s first foray into home computing hardware, the Steam Machine collaborations with various computer makers, have sold fewer than 500,000 units since they were released last November. A figure estimated by Ars Technica via the number of Steam Controllers sold which includes Steam Machines as a portion of that total:

Half a million might not sound like a bad sales number for a brand new hardware platform, but it starts to look pretty tepid in the context of the wider gaming market. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sold over a million consoles in their first day on the market in 2013. After just over seven months on store shelves, Microsoft was up to about 5.5 million Xbox One sales and the PS4 had racked up 10.2 million worldwide sales. That’s what a successful gaming hardware launch looks like these days.

Valve is often guilty of starting something and then just giving up on it without iterating to find success. Their cousins at Microsoft would have had the same issue if they gave up on the original Xbox which sold only 24 million consoles over its first 7 years and was another system frequently referred to as a failure.

Sales figures of hardware over the course of a few months aren’t necessarily going to make or break a company, but I believe that Valve still needs SteamOS.

Quantum Break, the remastered Gears of War: Ultimate EditionForza Motorsport 6: Apex, the upcoming games Halo Wars 2 and ReCore are all exclusive to Windows 10’s built-in app store. SteamOS and Steam Machines continue to be a hedge against Microsoft’s built-in Windows app store restrictions that Valve will need to remain competitive in the event of even more anti-competitive changes to Windows.

Liam Dawe of Gaming on Linux is right on about the lack of advertising hurting sales of the nascent Steam Machines and SteamOS/Linux games:

We are facing real issues, like a lack of bigger platform-pushing titles and performance. Valve do need to up their own advertising a bit too, not just of Steam Machines, but of new Linux releases. They give big homepage banners to plenty of new Windows releases, but only a few SteamOS releases have been graced with such advertising. Valve haven’t even managed to get their own VR device with HTC on Linux yet, they need to up their own game.

Typosquatting Package Managers

Fascinating attack on unmoderated package managers for programming libraries (via former TimeDoctor contributor, Vogon)  that would work just as well on unmoderated app stores:

In the second part of 2015 and the early months of 2016, I worked on my bachelors thesis. In this thesis, I tried to attack programming language package managers such as Pythons PyPi, NodeJS Npmsjs.com and Rubys rubygems.org. The attack does not exploit a new technical vulnerability, it rather tries to trick people into installing packages that they not intended to run on their systems

[…]

So basically we create a fake package that has a similar name as a famous package on PyPi, Npmjs.com or rubygems.org. For example we could upload a package named reqeusts instead of the famous requests module.

It ends up being very successful:

In two empirical phases, exactly 45334 HTTP requests by 17289 unique hosts (distinct IP addresses) were gathered. This means that 17289 distinct hosts executed the program above and sent the data to the webserver which was analyzed in the thesis. The number of HTTP requests is for various reasons higher than the number of distinct IP addresses. The main reason is that pip executes the setup.py file twice on installation. Don’t ask me why.

Money in the Bank

Money in the Bank

The decades-old institution of civil asset forfeiture just got amazingly worse through the new practice of  seizing cash in bank accounts at a whim without any due process:

Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.

It’s called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.  

Here’s how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.

[…]

News 9 obtained a copy of the contract with the state. 

It shows the state is paying ERAD Group Inc., $5,000 for the software and scanners, then 7.7 percent of all the cash the highway patrol seizes.  

Yow.

Also, this is the second website I’ve seen today that still requires Flash to watch their videos. Chrome makes an OK sandbox for that garbage but everyone should stop supporting it. 

GOG Connect

Online DRM-free retailer Gog announced Gog Connect. Gog Connect connects your Gog account to your Steam account and receive DRM-free Gog versions of some games if you already have them on Steam.

The list of supported games is short at just 23 currently, but Gog have said they will change the list up frequently by adding games and removing old ones. Unfortunately you will need to revisit the Gog Connect page when new games are added in order to receive DRM-free Gog copies.

What’s Lap, Dog?

E. Fylladitakis writing for Anandtech has this excellent review of the Corsair Lapdog. It is either the best or worst possible name for a product that connotates this:
an actual dog that might fit on your lap if it deigns you worthy

…but is actually this keyboard and mouse ergonomic nightmare for playing FPS games on a couch the right way:

the corsair lapdog will let anyone put it on its lap

Although it looks cool, it is actually going to cost you upwards of $200. $120 for the Lapdog, and a bunch more for the mouse and keyboard since only two Corsair keyboard models are going to fit. Though you could probably get away with not using a Corsair mouse.

Microsoft Lays Off 1,850

Microsoft’s press release:

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to streamline the company’s smartphone hardware business, which will impact up to 1,850 jobs. As a result, the company will record an impairment and restructuring charge of approximately $950 million, of which approximately $200 million will relate to severance payments.

That’s a lot of weasel words to say they’re firing almost two thousand people. 

“We are focusing our phone efforts where we have differentiation — with enterprises that value security, manageability and our Continuum capability, and consumers who value the same,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “We will continue to innovate across devices and on our cloud services across all mobile platforms.”

The weasel wording continues on to say that Microsoft won’t be developing features for actual people with Windows phone devices and will instead focus on what businesses want, which is a shame since Windows phones were better and more secure than Android in many ways.

Here Microsoft, I streamlined your press press release:

Our phone business hasn’t been successful with people because we focused on what businesses want. We will continue to focus on businesses by firing almost two thousand people who worked on or supported features that people might want. Regrettably, we will have to pay them money so that they don’t cause a scene.

Twitter Remains Broken

Aleen Mean on the changes coming to Twitter:

Today Twitter, the microblogging service dedicated to making sure that people can easily be harassed without repercussion, announced some changes they’re planning on rolling out over the next few months. True to their mission, these new features are sure to promote not only harassment, but spamming from both malicious accounts and #brands trying to #engage their audience.

[…]

Time and time again, we’ve been told that the company is working on making things better for targets of harassment. What we see, however, are half-baked enhancements designed to make the service more appealing to advertisers and attempts at enticing new users. Many people have suggested changes they could implement to curb abuse. For example, Randi Lee Harper’s list of suggestions from earlier this year is still on-point.

I know that Twitter is a huge company and that the people who are spending their time and energy on these new features aren’t necessarily the ones who would work on anti-abuse tools, but it’s clear that the company’s leadership is unwilling to actually act.

When Mom and Dad Turn Out to Be Boris and Natasha

Boris and Natasha

Shaun Walker interviewed the two adult children of Russian spies who were living in the United States as Canadian citizens:

After a buffet lunch, the four returned home and opened a bottle of champagne to toast Tim reaching his third decade. The brothers were tired; they had thrown a small house party the night before to mark Alex’s return from Singapore, and Tim planned to go out later. After the champagne, he went upstairs to message his friends about the evening’s plans. There came a knock at the door, and Tim’s mother called up that his friends must have come early, as a surprise.

At the door, she was met by a different kind of surprise altogether: a team of armed, black-clad men holding a battering ram. They streamed into the house, screaming, “FBI!” Another team entered from the back; men dashed up the stairs, shouting at everyone to put their hands in the air. Upstairs, Tim had heard the knock and the shouting, and his first thought was that the police could be after him for underage drinking: nobody at the party the night before had been 21, and Boston police took alcohol regulations seriously.

When he emerged on to the landing, it became clear the FBI was here for something far more serious. The two brothers watched, stunned, as their parents were put in handcuffs and driven away in separate black cars. Tim and Alex were left behind with a number of agents, who said they needed to begin a 24-hour forensic search of the home; they had prepared a hotel room for the brothers. One of the men told them their parents had been arrested on suspicion of being “unlawful agents of a foreign government”.

Read the whole article. I can’t imagine how disconcerting it is to find out your parents really aren’t who you thought they were.