Matt’s Favorites: An Epic Hack, Xbox One Release Date and More
So what’s the latest, greatest and most fascinatin’ of all that’s going on in the ever-evolving worlds of science and technology? Well, siddown, strap in and hang on, here we go…
* Here’s the story of an epic social engineering hack with lessons for us all: Comedian Erik Stolhanske didn’t know what he was getting himself into, when he let a cybersecurity expert at SecureState take a crack at hacking him.
* Microsoft may soon announce that the Xbox One will beat the PlayStation 4 out the door. The company has yet to announce when the Xbox One will be available, but Microsoft may decide to launch the high-powered console on Nov. 8, gaming site Kotaku reported on Monday, citing a person who has knowledge of Microsoft’s plans. The move would allow the Xbox One to sit on store shelves for one week before Sony launches its PlayStation 4 on Nov. 15.
* “Saints Row” arguably started life as a parody of “Grand Theft Auto.” But the action-adventure game has come into its own. The latest version, “Saints Row IV,” manages to parody a number of games — such as the “Mass Effect” series, with the help of the voice of series regular Keith David — and features substantial humor and clever writing. “Saints Row IV” is a genuinely funny game, and as fun as its predecessors.
* The Bronx Zoo is showing off its newest resident: a snow leopard born there in the spring. The 17-pound cub is the first son of an orphaned snow leopard from Pakistan. The baby, who is not yet named, went on view last week.
* Government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 Facebook users in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States, the company said Tuesday. The social-networking giant is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers.
* NASA is planning to capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid, and it asked the public to help plan the mission. More than 400 proposals came in, and the space agency continues to narrow down the best candidates. On Aug. 22 the agency released new images and video of the proposals that are under consideration. The plan is to continue developing a baseline concept for the mission before establishing a more detailed plan in 2014. The mission involves redirecting an asteroid and parking it in orbit near the moon, so that NASA astronauts can later explore it.
* And let’s hear it for the 10th anniversary of the Spitzer Space Telescope, which has captured magnificent images and triggered an impressive list of discoveries, while also helping astronomers study many comets, stars, asteroids and planets. The telescope’s infrared vision technology enabled the discovery of Saturn’s largest ring, a wispy band of ice and dust particles that is too faint to detect in visible light, according to a NASA press release. The telescope was also the first to observe light from a planet outside of our solar system., and the now-defunct Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. In its second decade of exploration, the telescope will help NASA scientists monitor potential candidates for its still-developing plan to capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid.
* Want to know if you’re suffering for post-traumatic stress disorder? There’s an app for that.
* Officials confirmed Tuesday that morbillivirus, a virus similar to measles, is the culprit in the death of more than 300 dolphins along the East Coast in recent weeks. It is the same virus that killed off more than 700 dolphins between 1987 and 1988.
* iOS users now can set up and manage their Google Chromecast devices with an app Google released Tuesday. The Chromecast app for iOS lets people set up and configure Google’s streaming-media device. Google announced the app on its Chrome updates blog andpublished the app on iTunes. The app can be used to set up a Chromecast’s Wi-Fi settings and to adjust settings such as the device’s name.
* The Hoop Tracker is a different kind of smartwatch. Instead of talking to your smartphone, it talks to a lever that sits inside a basketball hoop and registers whether or not a shot has gone in. The shot detector has a handle that allows you to attach it magnetically inside any standard basketball hoop. When the ball goes in, the detector registers it as a successful shot and sends the information to the watch. You then can track your improvements from various locations on the court over time.
* The telepathic cyborg lives, sort of. University of Washington scientists Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco claim that they are the first to demonstrate human brain-to-brain communication. Rao sent a signal into a Stocco’s brain via the Internet that caused him to move his right hand. Brain-to-brain communication has previously been demonstrated between rats and from humans to rats.
* Apple’s iTunes Store went down Tuesday for nearly three and a half hours, preventing some users from making purchases. The outage — which started at 9 a.m. Eastern time and lasted until 12:26 p.m. — affected 20 percent of users, according to Apple’s system status page. It is unclear what caused the outage, though such service disruptions plaguing Apple’s systems have been on the rise of late.
* The association between science and morality is so ingrained that merely thinking about it can trigger more moral behavior, according to a study by researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara.
* Safety has rather become the mantra of authorities over the last few years. Government exists, so we’re told, to keep the people safe. As opposed to, say, happy, employed, strong, proud or free. A school district in Southern California is also committed to the safety of its kids. And, given that social media sites are where kids are at these days, it’s decided to keep tabs on every single public post its kids are making. Naturally, the Glendale Unified School District doesn’t have the time to do this itself. So it’s hired an outside company to do its tab-keeping for it. As CBS Los Angeles reports, the district chose Geo Listening, a company that specializes in following kids’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube feeds. “The whole purpose is student safety,” the district’s superintendent Richard Sheehan told CBS.