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Building the NSA’s Tools


Ya’ know, there’s a whole world of contract manufacturers out there and the NSA lets them all bid on these. They do not do all this work on their own in house, they like CIA have front companies that go around seeding the ideas, bids, RFPs that eventually lead to these devices. It’s a cottage industry of sorts of small COMMs outfits making small runs of very sophisticated devices. All in the name of National Security.

Originally posted on Hackaday:

Fake ANT Catalog Entry for HackRF

Back in 2013, the NSA ANT Catalog was leaked. This document contained a list of devices that are available to the NSA to carry out surveillance.

[Michael Ossmann] took a look at this, and realized that a lot of their tools were similar to devices the open source hardware community had built. Based on that, he gave a talk on The NSA Playset at Toorcamp 2014. This covered how one might implement these devices using open hardware.

The above image is a parody of an ANT Catalog page, which shows [Michael]‘s HackRF, an open source software defined radio. In the talk, [Michael] and [Dean Pierce] go over the ANT Catalog devices one by one, discussing the hardware that would be needed to build your own.

Some of these tools already have open source counterparts. The NIGHTSTAND WiFi exploitation tools is essentially a WiFi Pineapple. SPARROW II is more or less a device running Kismet attached…

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Written by Eric Likness

August 1, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Posted in technology

Resentment, Jealousy, Feuds: A Look at Intel’s Founding Team – Michael S. Malone – Harvard Business Review

English: Michael S. Malone is a U.S. author, a...

English: Michael S. Malone is a U.S. author, a former editor of Forbes magazine and host of a talk show on PBS. Español: Michael S. Malone es un escritor y guionista estadounidense. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just when you think you understand the trio (as I thought I did up until my final interview with Grove) you learn something new that turns everything upside-down. The Intel Trinity must be considered one of the most successful teams in business history, yet it seems to violate all the laws of successful teams.

via Resentment, Jealousy, Feuds: A Look at Intel’s Founding Team – Michael S. Malone – Harvard Business Review.

Agreed, this is a topic near and dear to my heart as I’ve collectively read a number of the stories published over the years from the Tech Press. From Tracy Kidder‘s, Soul of a New Machine, to Fred Brook’s The Miracle Man Month, Steven Levy’s Insanely Great. The story of Xerox PARC as told in Dealer’s of Lightning, the Arpanet Project as told in Where Wizards Stay Up Late. And moving somewhat along those lines, Stewart Brand’s The Media Lab and Howard Rheingold’s Virtual Reality. All of these are studies at some level of organizational theory in the high technology field.

And one thing you find commonly is there’s one charismatic individual that joins up at some point (early or late doesn’t matter) who then brings in a flood of followers and talent that is the kick in the pants that really gets momentum going. The problem is with a startup company say like Intel or its predecessor, Fairchild Semiconductor, there’s more than one charismatic individual. And keeping that organization stitched together even just loosely is probably the biggest challenge of all. So I’ll be curious to read this book Michael Malone and see how it compares to the other books in my anthology of organization theory in high tech. Should be a good, worthwhile read.


Written by Eric Likness

July 31, 2014 at 9:54 pm

A TV Show About Online Videos Shows Us We’re In A Weird Place With Content Right Now


Unless its broadcast OTA, I’ll never see it. And that’s fine by me as the HD quality I get OTA exceeds the overly compressed digital cable most friends I have pay extra to receive. So I’ll be sitting out this bit of weirdness and pop-culture recursiveness.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

A TV show devoted entirely to showing nothing but online videos is now the No. 1 syndicated new show in the nation. You may have seen RightThisMinute on HLN or one of your local channels: It’s on most Cox, Scripps and Raycom stations coast to coast and will soon be syndicated throughout about 91 percent of the country.

The show gets over 2 million viewers for each half-hour episode. Comparing some of the long-standing syndicated shows like the ever popular Judge Judy to RTM is like comparing apples to oranges, but it’s more popular than new shows with big names like Bethany and also Queen Latifah’s new talk show.

There are no writers for the show. The producers and talent all watch and comment on videos they find, TMZ-style, just as they watch them. That may be because the former executive producer for TMZ, Lisa Hudson, is now a part of the…

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Written by Eric Likness

July 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Posted in technology

AMD Clears the Air Around Project FreeSync

examples of video connectors

A/V Connectors currently in the market

AMD has been making lots of noise about Project FreeSync these past few months, but has also left plenty of questions unanswered.

via AMD Clears the Air Around Project FreeSync.

FreeSync, and nVidia G-sync both are attempting to get better 3D rendering out of today’s graphics cards no matter what part of the market they are aimed at. But like other “features” introduced by graphics card manufacturers there’s a drive now to set a standard common to the manufacturers of cards and hopefully too, the manufacturers of display panels.

Adaptive-Sync is the grail for which AMD is searching, promoting and lobbying for going forward. It’s not too manufacturer specific and is just open enough to be adopted by most folks. The benefits are there too, as the article states Tom’s Hardware has tried out nVidia’s G-sync and it works. Which is reassuring given that sometimes these “features” don’t always appear as big revolutionaries strides in engineering so much as marketing talking points.

AMD has been successful so far in pushing adoption by the folks who make RAMDACs and video scaler circuits for the display manufacturers. That’s the real heavy lifting in driving the standard. And with some slight delays you may see the display panel manufacturers adopt this ActiveSync standard within the next year.


Written by Eric Likness

July 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Posted in gpu, h.264

Tagged with , , , ,

A Better Google Glass For $60 (This One Folds)


At $60, this is right-sizing the price for what is essentially a second screen for your smartphone. Take THAT! Google Glass(es). That’s what I’m calling them,… Google Glasses, because that’s what they are. Glasses with a head mounted display.

Originally posted on Hackaday:

glassFor [Tony]‘s entry for The Hackaday Prize, he’s doing something we’ve all seen before – a head mounted display, connected to a Bluetooth module, displaying information from a smartphone. What we haven’t seen before is a cheap version of this tech, and a version of Google Glass that folds – you know, like every other pair of glasses on the planet – edges this project over from ‘interesting’ to ‘nearly practical’.

For the display, [Tony] is using a 0.96″ OLED connected to an Arduino Nano. This screen is directed into the wearer’s eye with a series of optics that, along with every other part of the frame, was 3D printed on a Solidoodle 2. The frame itself not only folds along the temples, but also along the bridge, making this HMD surprisingly compact when folded up.

Everything displayed on this head mounted display is controlled by  either an Android phone…

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Written by Eric Likness

July 28, 2014 at 9:13 am

Posted in technology

The CompuServe of Things

English: Photo of two farm silos

English: Photo of two farm silos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On the Net today we face a choice between freedom and captivity, independence and dependence. How we build the Internet of Things has far-reaching consequences for the humans who will use—or be used by—it. Will we push forward, connecting things using forests of silos that are reminiscent the online services of the 1980’s, or will we learn the lessons of the Internet and build a true Internet of Things?

via The CompuServe of Things.

Phil Windley as absolutely right. And when it comes to Silos, consider the silos we call App Stores and Network Providers. Cell phones get locked to the subsidizing provider of the phone. The phone gets locked to the app store the manufacturer has built. All of this is designed to “capture” and ensnare a user into the cul-de-sac called the “brand”. And it would seem if we let manufacturers and network providers make all the choices this will be no different than the cell phone market we see today.


Written by Eric Likness

July 24, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Apple’s OS X Yosemite Beta Preview


Looking forward to the next version of Mac OS X? I’m curious to see how well it performs on older graphics card and desktop hardware that’s for sure. As far as User Experience goes and the Interface Design changes, I’m going to hold judgement. As long as everything works as intuitively as the older version I’m fine with that. I don’t care what the icons look like or the title bar or menu bars, none of that really impacts my experience. But speed, and the sense of speed does. I’m hoping the Swift programming language has some big returns on investment for this release of the Desktop OS and we see the iLife Suite slowly migrated into Swift to gain further efficiencies in the use of the graphics accelerator card and the CPU and the SSD.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Apple has a new version of OS X coming to Macs this fall, and for the first time ever, it’s giving up to 1 million members of the public the opportunity to test it out in advance – for free, and without requiring they register as a developer, starting this Thursday. The purpose of the advance feedback is to gather feedback and help test the release before its wider launch, and by opening it up to the public, Apple can likely get more input about how consumer-facing features are working than they would with a pool limited strictly to developers.

We’ve had some time with the pre-release build ahead of today’s launch, and our time spent with the next version of Apple’s desktop OS has proven one thing: Yosemite offers a host of great new features for users new to Mac and experienced Apple fans alike. Even the pre-launch build…

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Written by Eric Likness

July 23, 2014 at 10:53 am

Posted in technology