Category Archives: Software Development

The largest computer ever built

Locklin on Science has posted a fascinating piece about cold war computers.
Originally built to coordinate radar and missile defence across the US, the SAGE system could even control airborne “drones”!
This system was built in 1958 and didn’t go offline until 1984 (!!).

The SAGE system had many firsts: it was the first nation wide networked computer system. While it used special leased telephone lines and some of the first modems (at a blistering 1300 baud), it was effectively the internet, long before the internet. It was the first to use CRT screens. The first to use a “touch screen interface” via the use of light pens on the CRT. It was the first to use magnetic core memory. It was the first real time, high availability computer system. It was the first computer system to use time sharing. Many people attribute the genesis of computer programming as a profession to the SAGE system. Modern air traffic control, and computer booking systems of course, descend from the SAGE system.

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The GRAIL Project

In 1964 the RAND corporation unveiled the GRAIL Project. GRAIL was an early example of a GUI, and (the first?) example of a tablet.

The system used a programming language called GrailLanguage, which was a high-level flowchart-based programming language. All programs were written graphically and with a pen, using character recognition for statements and shape recognition for flow control.

Watch this video and tell me that the best new talent is working on Groupon for Babies or a better way to share photos.

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FROST: Forensic Recovery Of Scrambled Telephones

A ready to go cold boot attack for a Galaxy Nexus!
Your Android PIN does not protect you.

We present FROST, a tool set that supports the forensic recovery of scrambled telephones. To this end we perform cold boot attacks against Android smartphones and retrieve disk encryption keys from RAM. We show that cold boot attacks against Android phones are generally possible for the first time, and we perform our attacks practically against Galaxy Nexus devices from Samsung. To break disk encryption, the bootloader must be unlocked before the attack because scrambled user partitions are wiped during unlocking. However, we show that cold boot attacks are more generic and allow to retrieve sensitive information, such as contact lists, visited web sites, and photos, directly from RAM, even though the bootloader is locked.

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Git Push over XMPP

Awesome idea, and an implementation to try. Fantastic.

Imagine if you could send git pushes to any of your friends on Google Talk or other Jabber (XMPP) servers. Even though you’re in different places and your computers probably cannot talk to one-another directly, you can share a git repository, without relying on a git hosting provider such as GitHub.

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Toyota’s New Robot runs ROS

ROS is making headway into industrial robotics in a big way.
Toyota’s new human assistance robot runs ROS.

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Breaking Full-Disk Encryption Using FireWire

There have been a number of proof-of-concept hacks using IEEE1394 devices’ DMA to elevate privileges on a host machine.
The most useful application of this technique is breaking into machines that use full-disk encryption. Now there is a tool that will run from any Unix-Like host (Linux, OSX) and can unlock Windows XP,Vista,7,8,OSX 10.6,10.7,10.8, Ubuntu on both x86 and x64 hosts.

Inception is a FireWire physical memory manipulation and hacking tool exploiting IEEE 1394 SBP-2 DMA. The tool can unlock (any password accepted) and escalate privileges to Administrator/root on almost any machine you have physical access to.

It is primarily intended to do its magic against computers that utilize full disk encryption such as BitLocker, FileVault, TrueCrypt or Pointsec. There are plenty of other (and better) ways to hack a machine that doesn’t pack encryption. Inception is also useful for incident response teams and digital forensics experts when faced with live machines.

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Want To Make Your R Charts Look Like The Economist?

Want to make your R charts look like the ones placed in The Economists?
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Android malware designed to build 3-D models of users’ apartments

An interesting article at FastCompany about PlaceRaider, an experimental smartphone trojan designed by Indiana University and the U.S. Navy. It’s Android malware designed to build 3-D models of users’ apartments.

PlaceRaider, which was summarized in a recent arXiv paper, is a piece of “visual malware” which smartphone cameras, accelerometers, and gyroscopes, to reconstruct victims’ rooms and offices. As pictures are uploaded onto the central server, they are knitted together into a 3D model of the indoor location where the pics were taken.

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Installing SAS in VMWare Fusion on Mac

Just a quick note to anyone having trouble installing SAS (Base or Enterprise Data Miner) in VMWare Fusion on Mac:

If you run setup.exe and the splash screen for the SAS deployment wizard spins for a while and then mysteriously disappears, the remedy is as follows:

1. Turn off Folder Sharing for your VM (the SAS installer writes to some temporary files and doesn’t like the remapping of the home folder to the mac file system)

2. Run setup.exe as Administrator

Once you have installed SAS you can turn Folder Sharing back on.

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