• Location based price

    I’m not ok with this.

    It’s not something I do very often, but see others do it ‘all the time’….
    When shopping in a brick and mortar store, you scan the barcode of the thing you are interested in buying and see if you can find it cheaper some other place – probably on-line and probably from Amazon.
    Sometimes (not very often) the store will price match, it’s becoming far more common that they will do this, often the price match is only given very reluctantly and you get a fair bit of bad blood flowing getting it done.

    Amazon has got some tech to mess with this process.

    It’s super simple, first, they look at the wi-fi you are joined to, if nothing obvious there, they check your GPS from the photo you took (most people do not turn that off). Depending on your location, they will mess with the price you see.

    The patent, ominously titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” is for technology that examines what a person is searching for when connected to a retail WiFi network — that is, a WiFi network provided by and located within a store, such as an Amazon bricks-and-mortar location. The technology can actually determine whether you’re searching for a competitor’s item online and take subsequent action.

    I’m not Ok with this…. And I am a huge Amazon fan / customer.

  • Hand held astrophotos

    Camera tech is constantly improving. At some stage, you just have to buy in and lock yourself to that year/months tech level and go with it.
    This is what I did some 7 years ago with the Canon 5D Mk2. In good light it’s still more camera than I can manage, but is really starting to show its age in others.

    One of my (many – shut up all of you!) interests is astrophotography. Specifically landscape star shots.
    (I have been down the rabbit hole of telescope based astrophotography and found my pockets are just not deep enough for that thread – besides, when it came to sharing, I found my circle to be more receptive to seeing land and stars rather than just deep stars and fuzzy blobs).

    All this came to front again with the Grand Canyon raft trip. Its been years (and years and years) since I have been under such dark skies.
    It was a real joy to walk around camp at 2am by nothing more than starlight.

    I digress.

    The latest cameras have such good image stabilization tech that it seems possible to take photos of the Milky Way with no tripod.


    When it comes to optical image stabilization, it seems like nothing comes close to touching Olympus’ OM-D E-M1 Mark II. As one photographer recently discovered, the 5-axis optical stabilization is so good, you can actually shoot the Milky Way hand-held with this monster

    The Mitakon lens is manual focus, so I set up to focus using the viewfinder zoom on the brightest object in the sky. I calculated the settings to be best at ISO 12800, f/0.95, with 4 seconds.

    Nice. But I really need to spend some money on a better drone camera than a GoPro.

  • Power grid virus

    Seems parts of the worlds power grids are ready and primed with a nice attack vector and are just waiting for the kill code…..


    The shutdown of Ukraine’s power grid last year was just a warning shot for the world.

    Say hello to Industroyer, a nasty bit of malware that also goes by the name Crash Override. It targets circuit breakers and is able to hijack electrical systems from afar by taking advantage of communication protocols for power supply infrastructure, transportation controls, and water and gas systems used all over the world, according to cybersecurity researchers who posted their discovery on Monday.

    We blogged about the Ukraine attack back in March 2016.

    What impressed me back then was the deliberate patience of the guys behind the attack. This was no rush job by some power giddy script kiddies.
    Seems we are in for more of the same.

    The researchers who discovered Industroyer warn it can be used to do significant damage to electrical power systems, and can be modified to hit other kinds of infrastructure. That makes it the biggest threat to industrial systems since Stuxnet in 2010.

    “Attackers could adapt the malware to any environment, which makes it extremely dangerous,” wrote Anton Cherepanov, a malware researcher at IT security company ESET.

    Here is the telling bit (to me);

    From the way Industroyer is written, ESET suspects the authors know a lot more about power grids than the average hacker.

    “This malware is definitely the work of extremely dedicated, resourceful and capable attackers with deep knowledge of the architecture and systems in power grid substations,” said Robert Lipovsky, an ESET researcher.

    Its features are so hidden that the infected system believes everything is normal, and Industroyer wipes all its traces once the job is done. Some of its tricks include creating an additional backdoor, disguised as the Notepad application. It can also be written to only work during non-working hours, so people can’t stumble across it in action.

    Its “time bomb” feature lets the hackers coordinate and set off attacks simultaneously, potentially causing massive outages in multiple areas.

    “The recent attack on the Ukrainian power grid should serve as a wake-up call for all those responsible for the security of critical systems around the world,” Cherepanov said.

    We are getting to the point where the guys that used to work in the system are now retired, jaded with the way ‘the man’ has taken the prime of their lives and they are out to say farewell to the world in a rather spectacular manner…. There is little point having all this knowledge of ‘the system’ in your head and not being able to use it, you are no longer appreciated for what you know or for your past service, so why not press that knowledge into one last hurrah.

    The old joke about the last person leaving the country turning out the lights…. Yeah, not as funny now as then….

  • Tilt drone

    Interesting to see the way people are pushing drone tech in different ways.

    Since they are not (yet) pushing this onto consumers, I really don’t mind seeing a solution to a very tiny problem (fitting a drone through a doorway like slit in a building).

    This sucker can fly parallel to the wall. Why? Because it can, and we need software and engineers to push stuff like this so that when the time is right, when there is a problem to be solved, we have some data on the solution.

    Also, major points if you spotted the Raspberry Pi in the video.
    (My names thebaldgeek and I’m a geek).

  • IBM Watson Gateway Device

    Just incase you were wondering what we were up to in the Opto 22 studio….
    (I don’t recommend that any of you watch it, it’s just an FYI)

    Paul is editing the second one now and I am writing the script for the third video – they are more workshop videos than this one, so might be of more interest to you lot….