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 1 
 on: Today at 12:42:52 AM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt

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There has been somewhat of a revolution in brain-computer interfaces due to new machine learning techniques, which are now able to reconstruct images you are thinking off from your visual cortex for example by directly reading your neurological activity.

Microsoft being Microsoft has thought of ways these non-invasive techniques could be used to control a computer. 

They have posted a number of patents addressing the point, which include:

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CHANGING AN APPLICATION STATE USING NEUROLOGICAL DATA

Computer systems, methods, and storage media for changing the state of an application by detecting neurological user intent data associated with a particular operation of a particular application state, and changing the application state so as to enable execution of the particular operation as intended by the user. The application state is automatically changed to align with the intended operation, as determined by received neurological user intent data so that the intended operation is performed. Some embodiments relate to a computer system creating or updating a state machine, through a training process, to change the state of an application according to detected neurological data.


The patent suggests by reading a user’s brain activity an application may automatically execute the user’s intended action.

Slightly less ambitiously the following patent suggests users could use neurological activity as an analog control for a PC, which as controlling the volume of the PC or moving a mouse.

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CONTINUOUS MOTION CONTROLS OPERABLE USING NEUROLOGICAL DATA

Computer systems, methods, and storage media for generating a continuous motion control using neurological data and for associating the continuous motion control with a continuous user interface control to enable analog control of the user interface control. The user interface control is modulated through a user’ s physical movements within a continuous range of motion associated with the continuous motion control. The continuous motion control enables fine-tuned and continuous control of the corresponding user interface control as opposed to control limited to a small number of discrete settings.


Microsoft also suggests the brain activity could simply change the mode of a PC.

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MODIFYING THE MODALITY OF A COMPUTING DEVICE BASED UPON A USER’S BRAIN ACTIVITY

Technologies are described herein for modifying the modality of a computing device based upon a user’s brain activity. A machine learning classifier is trained using data that identifies a modality for operating a computing device and data identifying brain activity of a user of the computing device. Once trained, the machine learning classifier can select a mode of operation for the computing device based upon a user’s current brain activity and, potentially, other biological data. The computing device can then be operated in accordance with the selected modality. An application programming interface can also expose an interface through which an operating system and application programs executing on the computing device can obtain data identifying the modality selected by the machine learning classifier. Through the use of this data, the operating system and application programs can modify their mode of operation to be most suitable for the user’s current mental state.


Most interestingly Microsoft suggests brain activity could be used to discern items of interest in user’s visual field when using a head mounted display such as the Microsoft HoloLens.

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MODIFYING A USER INTERFACE BASED UPON A USER’S BRAIN ACTIVITY AND GAZE

Technologies are described herein for modifying a user interface (“UI”) provided by a computing device based on a user’s brain activity and gaze. A machine learning classifier is trained using data that identifies the state of a UI provided by a computing device, data identifying brain activity of a user of the computing device, and data identifying the location of the user’s gaze. Once trained, the classifier can select a state for the UI provided by the computing device based upon brain activity and the gaze of the user. The UI can then be configured based on the selected state. An API can also expose an interface through which an operating system and programs can obtain data identifying the UI state selected by the machine learning classifier. Through the use of this data, a UI can be configured for suitability with a user’s current mental state and gaze.


What is interesting about this, of course, is that a user would already be wearing something on their head, which could also read their neurological signals via EEG or other modality.

Microsoft's inventors appear to be drawn from the Surface and HoloLens team, though one of them have left for PerceptivePixel.io.

It is not known if Microsoft intends to use these ideas for as assistive technology or if this is something they intend for everyone, but this does give us a taste of the future where hands-free control no longer means voice only.

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 2 
 on: November 19, 2017, 06:41:47 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Computer users of a certain age will remember BIOS as ubiquitous firmware that came loaded on PCs. It was the thing you saw briefly before your operating system loaded, and you could dig into the settings to change your computer’s boot order, enable or disable some features, and more.

Most modern PCs ship with UEFI instead. But most also still have a “legacy BIOS” mode that allows you to use software or hardware that might not be fully compatible with UEFI.

In a few years that might not be an option anymore: Intel has announced plans to end support for legacy BIOS compatibility by 2020.

Intel’s Brian Richardson announced the move in a recent presentation (PDF link). In slightly more technical terms, Intel will require UEFI Class 3 or higher, which lacks legacy BIOS support.

Note that this doesn’t mean “Secure Boot” will be mandatory.

While Secure Boot and UEFI were often uttered in the same breath when UEFI started to take off, Secure Boot is just an optional feature in UEFI. So theoretically the move to deprecate support for legacy BIOS won’t prevent you from running an unsigned operating system on a PC with an Intel processor… unless PC makers decide to not only enable Secure Boot by default but make it impossible for users to disable it. That’s not something Intel is requiring (at this point).

You should still be able to run Linux distributions on PCs with UEFI… but if you run into compatibility problems on a system that doesn’t support legacy BIOS, you’ll have one less option for forcing it to work… particularly if you’re using an older operating system that simply does not support UEFI. Some folks have noted that older graphics cards and other hardware may also fail to run on systems using UEFI 3.

Richardson notes that some users are still relying on legacy BIOS support because specific tools they rely on aren’t compatible with UEFI. So in order to meet its goal of phasing out support by 2020, Intel wants to work with partners to “eliminate components with no UEFI support” and “Improve user experience with UEFI Secure Boot” for things like installing operating systems and other tools.

The end result could lead to tighter security, smaller code sizes, and wider support of newer technologies.

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 3 
 on: November 19, 2017, 04:20:06 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
In this post, we will learn a bit about the wuauserv process in the Windows operating system and see how to fix wuauserv high CPU or Memory usage problems in Windows 10/8/7. The name of this service is Windows Update Service, and we will see how you can stop or restart the Windows Service easily.

What is wuauserv

The wuauserv process or Windows Update Service enables the detection, download, and installation of updates for Windows and other programs. If this service is disabled, users of this computer will not be able to use Windows Update or its automatic updating feature, and programs will not be able to use the Windows Update Agent (WUA) API.

The path to its executable is C:\WINDOWS\system32\svchost.exe -k netsvcs. It typically consumes the most CPU resources & memory in svchost.exe, which by itself is normal, but when at times it is known to consume resources abnormally. In such cases, here is what you can try.

wuauserv high CPU usage

1] Run System Maintenance Troubleshooter. To run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter. Open Run, type the following and hit Enter:

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msdt.exe -id MaintenanceDiagnostic


The troubleshooter helps the user adjust settings to improve operating system speed and performance.

3] Run Windows Update Troubleshooter. Windows 10 users can access all TRoubleshooters via the Troubleshooters Page in Settings.

4] Run services.msc to open the Windows Services Manager.



Double-click on Windows Update service to open its Properties box. Click on Start. Wait a minute and then click on Start. Click OK and exit. This will restart the Windows Update Service. Check if it solves the problem.

5] Clear the contents of the SoftwareDistribution folder and the Catroot2 folder.

6] Boot the system in Safe Mode with networking. If the system works fine in Safe Mode, then you may need to perform Clean Boot. You have to follow a different procedure to start Windows 10 in Safe Mode. Once there, select the option to start the system in ‘Safe mode with Networking’. So boot into Clean Boot State and then try and troubleshoot, identify and isolate the offending process manually. Once your work is done, set the system to start normally.

7] Ideally, these steps should fix the issue of high CPU usage. However, in case the issue remains unresolved, to identify the offending process, you can also use the Event Viewer, then use it to identify errors.

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A Note from your System Admin:

In my experience, when wuauserv starts eating memory, the best thing to do is to wait until it finishes installing the updates and then reboot.

If you can't or aren't willing to reboot now, you can always reset wuauserv with the following BAT script (right click & run as administrator):

net stop wuauserv
net stop bits
rd /s /q %windir%\softwaredistribution
net start bits
net start wuauserv
wuauclt.exe /detectnow

If you need to know how to Create a Batch File have a look here.

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 4 
 on: November 19, 2017, 03:59:42 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Throughout the almost 10 years of existence, our website has covered many concept phone brands. However, I have to say that the one met with most creativity by designers has always been Nokia for some reason.

A close second is Sony. Today’s concept is a Nokia machine, of course, rendered by Tiant Nguyen, who brings back the Nokia N9.

If you remember the Nokia N9 started a design format that would be adopted on the entire Lumia line and even copied by Apple on an iPod at some point.

Now Tiant Nguyen wants to remake the template and start over. And he does it in style, with a curved screen, that goes beyond the current curvature of the Nokia 8 and into a more rounded territory.

I don’t know why, but I’m getting serious Batmobile vibes from this creation… It seems like it keeps the classic polycarbonate back, but I may be wrong and we could be dealing with a unibody metal case.

There’s a dual back camera here, with PureView Carl Zeiss optics and a big Xenon flash. The 41-megapixel sensor makes a triumphant comeback with a fingerprint scanner below it.

This feels like a phone that would be massive and massively popular if marketed right. Perhaps name it… N10?

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 5 
 on: November 19, 2017, 03:42:34 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
The way Microsoft patched a recent security bug has made security and software experts believe the company might have lost the source code to one of its Office components.

Experts reached this conclusion this week after Microsoft patched a security vulnerability tracked as CVE-2017-11882 that affected EQNEDT32.EXE — the equation editor that was included with the Microsoft Office suite until 2007.

While Microsoft has replaced the old EQNEDT32.EXE component with a new one in 2007, the older file is still included with all Office installations to allow users to load and edit equations created with the old component.

The way Microsoft patched a recent bug raised some eyebrows

Researchers at cyber-security firm Embedi discovered a flaw in this component over the summer. The bug got a lot of media attention because it allowed silent attacks on all Microsoft Office and Windows versions released in the past 17 years with no user interaction.

While most security experts looked at the Embedi 20-page report for details on the bug, one particular company looked at the way Microsoft patched the bug in Office.

Experts from 0patch — who run a platform for instantly distributing, applying, and removing microscopic binary patches — noticed that the patched EQNEDT32.EXE file was almost identical to the old one.

Microsoft manually edited a binary

"Have you ever met a C/C   compiler that would put all functions in a 500  KB executable on exactly the same address in the module after rebuilding a modified source code, especially when these modifications changed the amount of code in several functions?," 0patch experts asked rhetorically.

When programmers modify source code and compile a new binary, the compiler modifies the memory addresses of functions when the binary is compiled. This creates a slightly distinct binary every time.

The only way the new EQNEDT32.EXE stayed so similar to its previous version was if Microsoft engineers manually edited the binary itself.

A company like Microsoft that has solid and complex software development and security practices in place would never deem manually binary editing as acceptable.

The only way this happened is if Microsoft somehow lost the source code of a long forgotten Office component.

Embedi researchers pointed out that the component's age is what attracted them to hunt for bugs inside it in the first place.

"The component was compiled on 11/9/2000," the Embedi team pointed out. "Without any further recompilation, it was used in the following version of Microsoft Office. It seems that the component was developed by Design Science Inc. However, later the respective rights were purchased by Microsoft."

Somewhat weird that a component that shipped with Office in the last 17 years did not receive one single update.

Praises to whoever manually patched EQNEDT32.EXE

Manually editing executables to alter a binary's behavior is considered a low-level hack, one that usually causes more problems than it solves. Developers that engage in such tactics usually risk corrupting the entire binary. According to 0patch, the EQNEDT32.EXE patching was a work of art.

The CVE-2017-11882 vulnerability happened because the EQNEDT32.EXE would allocate a fixed size of memory and load a font name inside. If the font name was too long, it would trigger a buffer overflow and allow attackers to execute malicious code.

0patch says it found fixes for this problem —checks to verify and truncate the font's name— but also other modifications in unrelated parts of the binary.

"There are six such length checks in two modified functions, and since they don't seem to be related to fixing CVE-2017-11882, we believe that Microsoft noticed some additional attack vectors that could also cause a buffer overflow and decided to proactively patch them," 0patch said.

In addition, Microsoft optimized other functions, and when the code modifications resulted in smaller functions, Microsoft added padding bits to avoid not messing the arrangement of other nearby functions.

Such efforts to avoid not ruining the EQNEDT32.EXE binary are time-consuming, and no sane developer would have taken this route if he still had access to the source code. Furthermore, Microsoft also modified the binary's version number also by manually editing the binary.

All the clues point to the conclusion that Microsoft lost access to the EQNEDT32.EXE source code, which if you think about the amount of software the company has managed in the last 42 years, it's a wonder it did not happen a few more times before.

"Maintaining a software product in its binary form instead of rebuilding it from modified source code is hard. We can only speculate as to why Microsoft used the binary patching approach, but being binary patchers ourselves we think they did a stellar job," the 0patch team said.

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 6 
 on: November 19, 2017, 01:56:15 AM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Controllers designed for eSports have been around for a while now but Scuf Gaming popularized them for regular consumers. Since then many companies, including Microsoft, have launched their own iterations.

However, we believe that the Xbox Elite Controller is by far the best option out there for gamers looking for increased precision and more durability. Is there another controller that beats Microsoft’s offering though?

Razer recently unveiled the Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller for Xbox One and PC. Not only does it contain a lot of options, but it also provides added flair due to a series of ever-changing lights at the top.

The Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller features a black hard plastic body with many of the same options as the Xbox Elite Controller. It doesn’t have as much of a rubberized feel. You can change your thumbsticks, D-pad, and hair triggers.

However, the biggest change — for the better — is the placement of the additional buttons at the top and back of the controller. There are six more buttons you can customize using Razer Synapse for Xbox. Unlike the Xbox Elite Controller, you don’t accidentally press them at any given time and the controller is comfortable to hold. You won’t have to hold it around the edges to prevent accidental paddles presses. It makes you wish Microsoft implemented a similar design for their product.

One of the main differences between the Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller and others out there has to be the presence of two buttons on the back which engages the agility or precision mode. Let’s say you want to quickly change direction, then you hold down the agility button and quickly make a turn.

Once you let go the controls revert to your standard configuration. This same principle applies to precision mode as well. If you’re playing a multiplayer shooter and slowly want to track a target that’s far away, then engage it until you don’t need to anymore.

The Xbox Elite Controller somewhat does this if you change the controller configuration quickly back and forth but it’s not ideal. This implementation gives you a competitive edge especially in titles like Battlefield 1 or Destiny 2. While some might consider this an unfair advantage, it’s still a great feature.

Unfortunately, that’s where the improvements end. The Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller doesn’t feel as premium as the Xbox Elite Controller. It doesn’t use metal on the thumbsticks and D-pad, and in general feels less sturdy. The buttons also have less travel. The problem here isn’t that this makes the controller less reliable, the issue is that it doesn’t feel like a premium product. The materials used in its construction could’ve been better.

The Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller is wired so that means you’ll have to connect it to your Xbox One at all times. This might seem cumbersome for some even though it improves input lag when compared to a wireless device. Additionally, the light strip on the front is gorgeous, but it doesn’t add any functionality.

Overall, the Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller is great. Despite being wired, it brings a lot of innovation to the table. It costs the same as the Xbox Elite Controller so that might be an issue.

Why would anyone purchase Razer’s offering as opposed to the one manufactured by Microsoft for $160? Well, that answer depends on what you want. If you just want added precision and don’t care about competitive games as much, then go with the Xbox Elite Controller.

If you want precision and even more varied controls which you can change with the press of a button, then the Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller is your only choice. Just like past products from the company, this one is also geared more towards the eSports community than regular consumers.

Despite that — if you’re intrigued by the design and features — you should pick one up. Using the agility and precision modes might take some getting used to but the results are worth the effort.

The Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller is available on Amazon

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 7 
 on: November 19, 2017, 12:26:35 AM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
The Microsoft HoloLens is certified as protective eyewear, and Microsoft promises a hardhat accessory in 2018, but some companies are already working in the field with the headset and needed the protection now.

Geographic Information System provider Meemim already has a HoloLens-based application which allows users to see through the ground and see the location of pipes, cables, sewers and other hidden features, which offers great utility in a construction environment.

The same environment however often demands a hardhat, with its absence being a fireable offense.

Not prepared to wait for Microsoft’s solution, they have created an adaptor of their own which allows them to use the HoloLens with a pre-certified hardhat without compromising the protection and features of either.

Constructed of 3D printed elements, it attaches to the same attachment points of the HoloLens headband and actually makes the headset more comfortable to wear for extended periods by distributing the weight over a much wider area of your head than the headband.

The modification only requires the removal of 2 screws from the HoloLens and does not void your warranty or compromise the protection and comfort of either the headset or the hardhat.

 





The hardhat was created with the help of Birdstone Innovations Inc. from Toronto and has gone through a number of versions, with version 3 currently in the works. All parts can be 3D printed or sculpted using moulds.

Meemim notes their solution works splendidly, with installation only taking 2 minutes, and with the device easily reverted to its original state by simply removing two screws and replacing the attachments with the original supporting band.

Their hardhat has seen over 200 hours of field testing and the team are willing to share their knowledge and can be contacted by email here. They are planning further developments to the concept, notably making it easier to use the HoloLens in bright sunlight, a current weakness of the headset.

Follow their progress and read more about their other applications here.

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 8 
 on: November 18, 2017, 07:52:02 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Microsoft makes much of their HoloLens Mixed Reality headset rolling out to areas such as oil exploration, car design, and operating theatres, and while these areas are easily able to bear the $5000 cost of the headset there is very little likelihood the general public will get their hands on the device and appreciate the technology.

That was why I have always been an advocate of the HoloLens as part of a multimedia museum tour, which to me seems to be the perfect application, due to the controlled environment, very focused application, and the ability to amortise the cost of the headset over thousands of users, and the very large market of museums (there are more than 55,000 museums worldwide).

It is therefore heartening to me to see the headset actually finding a place on a museum tour, if only temporarily.

At the Chateau de Pierrefonds visitors will be able to don the headset and see virtual exhibits of suits of armor, rooms with audio annotations and numerous virtual animations illustrating the 150-year history of the museum.

The exhibit runs today and tomorrow and was developed with the help of Minsight (previously HoloStoria).

See a video demonstrating the technology below, and read more about the exhibit here.



Hopefully, in the future, we will see such features become a permanent part of the museum experience, allowing us to enhance our experience of the past seamlessly with the technology of tomorrow.

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 9 
 on: November 18, 2017, 04:26:04 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt


To celebrate the series passing an 11-year anniversary milestone, Gears of War 4 is invading Forza Motorsport 7 in the form of custom racing suits.

If you played Gears of War 4 on Xbox One or Windows 10 before October 31, Turn 10 is giving you a free Gears of War 4-themed Driver Gear suit (pictured below) in Forza Motorsport 7. Those who are eligible will receive an Xbox Live message containing a code to download the suit. Messages will begin to go out on November 20 and may take up to two weeks to receive.

Luckily if you didn’t manage to play Gears of War 4 before October 31, you still have another chance to get this outfit. Fans who try out the free trial and play before December 31 become eligible to receive a code in mid-January.



Another pair of racing suits making their way to Forza Motorsport 7 are based on JD and Kait (top image). To acquire these suits, you’ll need to brush up on your racing skills. Two new events go live today in Forza 7’s Rivals mode. If you complete them then you will receive the suits after the eligibility window closes on November 26.

Details of these events are posted by Microsoft here.

If you have yet to jump into Gears of War 4 or Forza 7, both are available from Microsoft now for $39.99 and $59.99, respectively.





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 10 
 on: November 17, 2017, 03:42:07 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
German manufacturer Trekstor has made the decision to crowdfund its previously announced Windows Phone 5.0.

The device comes with low-end specs, a mid-range design and all held together powered by an aging processor which we’ve previously covered here.

Trekstor is aiming this device,  not at users who want to purchase a Windows phone for the first time, that’s unrealistic, but rather at users who already have a Windows phone, but don’t want to change ecosystems just to upgrade their handsets. This obviously won’t attract Lumia 950 XL or HP Elite x3 buyers, but for 550 users, 650 users, it’s a viable replacement.

“Continuum surely is a factor, but we also see this as a replacement device for users of other Windows Mobile phones and therefore there is a factor of convenience when switching phones. ” Trekstor’s Simon Wiedemann explained to tech blog AllAboutWindowsPhone, “Same reason why other users stick with their OS even faced with inferiority.”

Trekstor’s reasoning makes sense on some level. Microsoft managed to cultivate dedicated fans of their Windows on phones initiative, and with a lack of manufacturers, it’s not exactly a crowded market at the moment. Continuum is also still a “cool” feature, albeit one with limited practicality at the moment. On the other hand, Microsoft has all but killed off Windows phone, with development from third-party ISVs being limited to maintenance for the most part.

You can back the device from 209 Euros on Indiegogo at the moment if you’re interested.



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