GeekSpeak for 2015-02-14

Cruise to the Summit in your iVan

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Space and security are the topics this week; from star wars cruises to space submarines and huge password dumps to counter reverse-engineering software.

Cyber Summit: in search of Leadership

President Obama travels to the beating heart of the U.S.’s burgeoning technology industry today to speak about the growing importance of cyber security to the nation’s economy and national defense and to encourage U.S. businesses to share more information about cyber attacks with each other -and the government.

Apple’s iMessage platform, for example, offers end-to-end encrypted text messages, unlike traditional text messages. That encryption likely means the only way police can see those messages is by obtaining a user’s iPhone. Apple has sold hundreds of millions of devices that use iMessage.

Get 2GB of extra storage in your Google Drive free

This Safer Internet Day, we’re reminded how important online safety is and hope you’ll use this as an opportunity to take 2 minutes to complete a simple Security Checkup.

As our way of saying thanks for completing the checkup by 17 February 2015, we’ll give you a permanent 2 gigabyte bump in your Google Drive storage plan.

Free Up Google Storage

View ways to free up space in your Google storage accounts.

Google storage usage

View your Google storage breakdown by type and usage.

Check if you were exposed in the 10 million password dump

A simple web interface allows you to search through a massive amount of leaked passwords in order to see if you were one the people affected.

NASA releases details of Titan submarine concept

Now that NASA has got the hang of planetary rovers, the space agency is looking at sending submarines into space around the year 2040. At the recent 2015 NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Cocoa Beach, Florida, NASA scientists and engineers presented a study of the Titan Submarine Phase I Conceptual Design, which outlines a possible mission to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, where the unmanned submersible would explore the seas of liquid hydrocarbons at the Titanian poles.

Freeze your dead head with this service

smartphone thefts drops with rise of remote ‘kill switches’

Thefts involving smartphones have declined dramatically in three major cities since manufacturers began implementing “kill switches” that allow the phones to be turned off remotely if they are stolen, authorities said on Tuesday.

Iowa digital drivers license

According to an article in Des Moines Register, the agency is in the early stages of developing mobile software for just this purpose. The app would store a resident’s personal information, whatever is already on the physical licenses, and also include a scannable bar code. The plans are for the app to include a two-step verification process including some type of biometric or pin code. At this time, it appears that specific implementation details are still being worked out.

Who will manage your Facebook account after you die?

Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to:
1. Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)
2. Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
3. Update the profile picture and cover photo

Thync Wearable Device May Reduce Stress

Thync today announced results from a study published via bioRxiv that show electrical neurosignaling delivered by its consumer wearable device reduces the brain’s response to stress in a chemical-free manner.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Energy Sources vs Transportation

On earth we only have two energy sources: the Sunshine and thermonuclear1.

Sunshine actually produces all of these:

  • Hydro-Electric: Solar energy vaporizes water, which, now warm and therefore lower-density is pushed away from the gravity well of earth. So Hydro-Electric uses Sunshine that has been converted to potential energy. The water flow pushes against turbine blades with causes the turbine to turn, connected to a coil of wire and through a magnetic field causes and electrical differential.
  • Wind energy is also powered by Sunlight.
  • Plants – wood and the like of course are formed by use of Sunlight energy. (Junk Mail too)

We have an impressive electric grid that delivers a lot of this to our homes and runs our lives, and electricity is an amazingly useful transportation mechanism, but sometimes it is nice to have non-plugged in sources of power. (Batteries only go so far)

People have spoken a lot about Hydrogen as a fuel. And we can make hydrogen from Electricity, though this is not traditionally very efficient. Also, though compressed Hydrogen has a great energy density (142 MJ/kg) it has some challenges. Additionally we have a lot of technical experience and infrastructure based on combustion. Gasoline (44.4 MJ/kg) is widely used.

Being able to create a combustable fuel from sunlight directly would be great. As we wouldn’t have an electrical middle step which incurs loss.

Published in PNAS with Authors are Joseph Torella and Christopher Gagliardi from Harvard; Portable Solar Energy

Their work integrates an “artificial leaf,” which uses a catalyst to make sunlight split water into hydrogen and oxygen, with a bacterium engineered to convert carbon dioxide plus hydrogen into the liquid fuel isopropanol.

1 There are other energy sources available on Earth: geothermic and gravitational sources (hi moon), but we mostly harness thermonuclear, and Sunlight and it’s side effects.

Carriers must unlock your phone after contract ends

Going forward, unless a phone is connected in some way to an account that owes the carrier money, said carrier will unlock the phone if asked to do so.

A Crypto Trick That Makes Software Nearly Impossible to Reverse-Engineer

At the SyScan conference next month in Singapore, security researcher Jacob Torrey plans to present a new scheme he calls Hardened Anti-Reverse Engineering System, or HARES. Torrey’s method encrypts software code such that it’s only decrypted by the computer’s processor at the last possible moment before the code is executed.