Yesterday There Was a Huge DDOS Attack on the East Coast

Did you notice?

Large DDoS attacks cause outages at Twitter, Spotify, and other sites

TechCrunch – By: Darrell Etherington – “Several waves of major cyberattacks against an internet directory service knocked dozens of popular websites offline today, with outages continuing into the afternoon.

Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Shopify, and other websites have been inaccessible to many users throughout the day. The outages are the result of several distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the DNS provider Dyn, the company confirmed. The outages were first reported on Hacker News.

‘We are actively in the third flank of this attack,’ Dyn’s chief strategy officer Kyle York told reporters around 4:30 p.m. ET today. ‘It’s a very smart attack. As we mitigate, they react.’

Dyn’s general counsel Dave Allen added that, with the help of other infrastructure companies Akamai and Flashpoint, Dyn has determined that some of the traffic used in the attacks comes from the Mirai botnet, a network of infected Internet of Things devices used in other recent large-scale DDoS attacks.

Dyn and other DNS providers operate as a link between the URLs you type into your browser and the corresponding IP addresses. DDoS attacks are frequently used to censor specific websites by overwhelming them with junk traffic and knocking them offline. However, by attacking Dyn, it’s possible to overwhelm that directory function and cause outages and loading problems across a large swath of the internet.

Other sites experiencing issues include Box, Boston Globe, New York Times, Github, Airbnb, Reddit, Freshbooks, Heroku and Vox Media properties. Users in Europe and Asia may experience fewer problems than those in the U.S. — according to DownDectector’s outage map, the DDoS attacks against Dyn are primarily impacting U.S. users.

The DDoS attacks on Dyn began this morning. Service was temporarily restored around 9:30 a.m. ET, but a second attack began around noon, knocking sites offline once again.The DNS provider said engineers were working on ‘mitigating’ the issue, but a third wave began around 4:30 p.m. ET before being resolved roughly two hours later.

‘The complexity of the attacks is making it complicated for us. It’s so distributed, coming from tens of millions of source IP addresses around the world. What they’re doing is moving around the world with each attack,’ Dyn’s York explained.York said that the DDoS attack initially targeted the company’s data centers on the East Coast, then moved to international data centers. The attack contained ‘specific nuance to parts of our infrastructure,’ he added.

The White House press secretary told members of the press this morning that the Department of Homeland Security is looking into the attacks. Dyn employees said the company is working with law enforcement to investigate the attacks and has received support from customers, competitors, and the State Department.

Dyn said it has not yet attributed the attack to any group or country, and that the DDoS traffic has been coming from tens of millions of discrete IP addresses around the globe. Although DDoS attacks are sometimes accompanied by extortion letters that ask a company to hand over bitcoin in exchange for ceasing an attack, Dyn said it has not received any messages from its attackers. ‘We are working incredibly diligently on that with the law enforcement community and infrastructure community,’ York said of the attribution process. ‘No one wants to be next.’

The DDoS attack on Dyn follows on the heels of one of the largest DDoS attack in history, which used the Mirai botnet to target the website of independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs. Although DDoS attacks have historically used large networks of compromised computers called botnets to send junk traffic to sites, overwhelming them and making them inaccessible to legitimate users, the Krebs attack expanded in scale by using compromised Internet of Things devices like security cameras to build a botnet. IoT devices are cheaply manufactured and notoriously insecure, making them easy to compromise.

After the attack on Krebs’ website, the code used to build the botnet leaked online, making more massive DDoS attacks all but inevitable.

‘There are 3.4 billion internet users globally and 10 to 15 billion IoT devices. It’s a complex world. All we can do is lock arms together and see how we can rectify this,’ York said.

Security researcher Bruce Schneier reported in September that several internet infrastructure companies had been targeted with DDoS attacks, although they had not caused the kind of widespread outages experienced today. Shneier wrote that the attacks seemed designed to test companies’ defensive capabilities:

‘These attacks are significantly larger than the ones they’re used to seeing. They last longer. They’re more sophisticated. And they look like probing. One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.’

‘Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services,’ Schneier added.

If you’re experiencing connection problems, you can try changing your DNS settings (instructions for how to do this on Mac and Windows are here). Anecdotally, our staff has used OpenDNS ( and and OpenNIC servers and seen connectivity improve.”

Microsoft Makes Money on Office and the Cloud

MicrosoftAzure and Office 365 offset declines in the PC market, but the company’s phone efforts continue to be a drag

Infoworld – By Blair Hanley Frank – “Microsoft’s ongoing move to the cloud paid off once again over the past quarter, as strong growth from Azure and Office 365 offset declines in the PC market.

The company announced on Thursday that its quarterly revenue for the three-month period ending in September was flat overall at $20.5 billion. The company’s net profit was down 4 percent year-over-year from $4.9 billion to $4.7 billion.

Those results were driven by quarterly revenue from the company’s Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Azure and Windows Server, and its Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes Office 365 and Dynamics. Intelligent Cloud revenue grew 8 percent year-over-year to $6.4 billion, while Productivity and Business Processes segment revenue grew 6 percent to $6.7 billion.

It’s another positive sign for the cloud-focused strategy that the company adopted under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella.

Azure revenue grew by 116 percent year over year, and Microsoft revealed for the first time that its profit margin from its cloud platform is 49 percent. The company continues to keep the exact revenue and profit numbers from its public cloud platform under wraps, however.

Office 365 commercial revenue grew 51 percent year-over-year. Microsoft reported it now has more than 85 million commercial monthly active users of its cloud-based productivity suite as a service offering.

Surface sales were another bright spot for Microsoft. The company’s line of tablets and laptops brought in $926 million over the past quarter, compared to $672 million during the same period in 2015. Phone revenue continued to drag the company down for another quarter, however — revenue from that division dropped by 72 percent year-over-year.

Microsoft’s non-GAAP results of $22.3 billion in revenue and earnings of $0.76 a share blew past analyst expectations for the quarter. The consensus of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was an expected $21.7 billion in revenue and earnings of $0.68 a share. Investors rejoiced at the news, sending the company’s stock to an all-time high above $60 per share, beating a previous high set in 1999.”

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL

Pixel and Pixel XL review: What happens when Google designs phones?

Engadget – By: Chris Velazco
– “Google’s fascination with hardware stretches back years. Remember the early days of Android and the G1? The rise of the Nexus line? Those ill-fated Android@Home lightbulbs and those beautiful Chromebooks? It took Google a while, but that fascination turned into a sort of experimental hobby, and now into something far more serious. Software is Google’s art, and the company has been working for a long time to craft the right canvases.

That’s where the new Pixel and Pixel XL come in.

Google has more control over the development — and destiny — of these two smartphones than it ever had with any Nexus phone. It’s not surprising, then, that the company has turned to close friends to help chart this new course. Former Motorola Mobility CEO Rick Osterloh is back at Google heading up hardware after the search giant sold his company to Lenovo. HTC, which most recently worked with Google on the Nexus 9 tablet, is handling the Pixel phones’ production and assembly. There’s a palpable sense that Google wanted to round up its A-team for this project.

It shows. These Pixel phones are a culmination on Google’s part of years’ worth of experimenting with hardware, and they’re unsurprisingly great.

Excellent build quality
Fantastic camera
Smooth performance

Yawn-inducing design
Less water-resistant than rivals


After years of experimenting with Nexus devices, Google finally decided it wanted to make a phone of its own. HTC might be assembling the phones, but Google designed and developed the Pixel from end-to-end. In doing so, it crafted a truly great smartphone that sadly looks a little dull. Still, the inclusion of a speedy new Snapdragon 821 chipset and a fantastic camera make the smaller Pixel a device to be reckoned with. Now, if only it were a little cheaper.”

A Windows 10 PC in Your Hand!

Ockel Sirius A – Indiegogo from Ockel Products on Vimeo.

Need a Windows 10 PC in your pocket? Phone-sized Ockel Sirius A might just fit

ZDNet – By: Liam Tung
– “Dutch hardware developers have launched the Sirius A, a Windows 10 device with phone-like specs but all the ports you’d expect from a PC.

The maker of the Sirius A, Netherlands-based Ockel, describes it as the ‘world’s most versatile mini PC’ and is looking ship the device by May 2017, after rounding up its search for backers on Indiegogo.

The Sirius A’s phone-like features include its six-inch full HD touch display, a 3,000mAh battery, 64GB in-built flash storage, a microSD booster slot, and 3.5mm audio port. It’s also got an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer for compass functionality.

Besides these features, the Sirius A aims to capture the feel of a desktop via additional ports not found in any smartphone. These include two USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, and ports for HDMI, a DisplayPort, Ethernet and a 12V power input for stationary use-cases, such as employing it as an input device when connected to a larger display.

It will also ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit, so all desktop applications should work on the tiny PC, and it’s powered by an Intel Atom quad-core processor with 4GB RAM. Wireless connectivity is provided by a Wi-Fi chip and Bluetooth. However, unlike most PCs, it eschews a cooling fan. Instead, it has a heatsink built into the aluminum casing.

As a mini-PC, the device should be extremely portable at 85mm x 150mm wide. Likely to support the additional PC ports, the Sirius A features an interesting tapered design, starting at 20mm wide on the port side, slimming down to 6mm at the front. Despite its pocketable form-factor, the Sirius A only has battery life of about three hours under ‘casual usage’.

The company says it’s working with Microsoft to develop a ‘switch mode’ that will allow the device to behave as a mouse or soft keyboard when connected to a larger screen.

It’s not clear from the Indiegogo campaign whether when used as a mobile device the screen automatically rotates to suit the direction in which it’s held.

The campaign for the Sirius A has raised $259,500 from 491 backers so far and has 22 days left. Prices under the campaign period start at $549 however the device will retail for $699.

The Sirius A follows Ockel’s release last year of the Windows 10 Sirius B, which lacked a touch display but otherwise offered similar specs.”

The Nintendo Switch!

The Switch shows desperate Nintendo is the best Nintendo

Engadget – By: Devindra Hardawar -“Nintendo has something to prove. After the Wii U flamed out spectacularly, the company needed to do something truly different to stay afloat in the console world. Its answer is the Switch, a new hybrid portable/home gaming system that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. While Microsoft and Sony are simply trying to shove in faster hardware to support 4K and HDR, Nintendo is going back to its roots with a device that evokes memories of spending carefree afternoons with your Gameboy, or going head-to-head with your friends in Mario Kart on the SNES. The Switch is a reminder that Nintendo innovates best after it fails; when its back is against the wall and it’s not just reacting to pressure from the competition.

We last saw that desperate, innovative Nintendo with the launch of the Wii. When it was first announced, we all made fun of its name, underpowered hardware and gimmicky motion controls. We worried about Nintendo’s focus on “casual” players and move away from ‘real’ gamers. But after 100 million units sold, the critics were proven wrong. Nintendo ended up outselling the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and both Microsoft and Sony rushed to develop motion controls of their own.

The Wii came after the failure of the Gamecube, a purple lunchbox of a console (who puts a handle on a gaming system?!) that sold a mere 21 million units. Its skew towards kids pushed third-parties away, which ultimately made it hard for Nintendo to go against the Xbox and PlayStation 2. Aside from its funky controller (and the promise of first-party Nintendo titles), there was simply nothing to really differentiate the Gamecube from the competition. The Gamecube also followed the so-so response to the Nintendo 64, which was stuck with cartridges while Sony and Sega were wowing us with the possibilities of games on CDs.

It’s tough to say much about the Switch at this point, since all we have to go on is a three-minute trailer and some press material from Nintendo. But at first glance, it appears to be everything I wanted with the Wii U. Most importantly though, it does something unique and useful. The Wii U felt like a response to tablet gaming, but its big-screened GamePad was clunky and developers never quite took to it. Super Mario Maker is the best example of what’s possible with the Wii U’s controller, but it came long after most gamers wrote off the system.

One of the Wii U’s few useful features — playing games right on the GamePad, instead of your TV screen — was limited by an incredibly short range. That makes sense, since it’s piping lots of data to the controller wirelessly, but it was annoying nonetheless. A big reason games have taken off on slates is because they let you play games on large screens from anywhere.

Rather than trying to improve that remote play feature on the Wii U, though, it looks like Nintendo built the Switch entirely around that concept. Dock it to your television, and you can play games on the big screen. Attach the ‘Joy-Con’ gamepads to the side of the display, and you can take the Switch anywhere. Simple. You don’t have to worry about reception issues. But Nintendo also doubled-down on portable gaming by giving the Switch a kickstand. You can snap off the controllers, holding one in each hand, to game as you would on your couch from any location.

Most intriguingly, you can just hand one controller over to a friend for a Mario Kart match. I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually sat on a couch and played someone in a local multiplayer session. With the rush towards online gaming, local multiplayer has felt like a dying trend over the last decade. That was never lost on Nintendo, though — and the Switch seems like it’ll revive the magic of gaming with nearby friends.

Developers will likely appreciate the Switch’s straightforward design, as well. Instead of worrying about creating a second-screen experience for games, they can just focus on making games as usual for a single screen. It’s important to note that the Switch is docked when it’s connected to your TV — you’re not actually holding the screen, as you would with the Wii U. Instead, you’re holding the Joy-Con or classic controllers to play games on your television, as you would with any other console.

Even at this early stage, it seems like Nintendo has managed to intrigue developers more than it ever did with the Wii U. Its initial lineup of third-parties include Capcom, EA, Activision, Bethesda, Epic Games, Konami, Ubisoft and Square Enix. We’ve seen games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and NBA 2K running on it, along with first-party titles like Splatoon, Mario Kart, and of course, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. All of those publishers are a good sign, since a console is only as strong as the games and developers supporting it.

Sure, there are valid concerns around the Switch. We don’t know anything about its battery life, actual graphical quality or cost. And while my Twitter feed has been freaking out over it, there’s still a chance the Switch might not take off with consumers. For now, though, I’m excited. Instead of repeating its mistakes, Nintendo seems to be learning from them. And that’s a good thing for gamers everywhere.”

Ethanol Fuel From the Air?

Check this out! Imagine a process that takes CO2 from the air, and makes Ethanol!
Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol

Popular Science – By: Avery Thompson – “Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect.

The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles.

The tech involves a new combination of copper and carbon arranged into nanospikes on a silicon surface. The nanotechnology allows the reactions to be very precise, with very few contaminants.

‘By using common materials, but arranging them with nanotechnology, we figured out how to limit the side reactions and end up with the one thing that we want,’ said Adam Rondinone.

This process has several advantages when compared to other methods of converting CO2 into fuel. The reaction uses common materials like copper and carbon, and it converts the CO2 into ethanol, which is already widely used as a fuel.

Perhaps most importantly, it works at room temperature, which means that it can be started and stopped easily and with little energy cost. This means that this conversion process could be used as temporary energy storage during a lull in renewable energy generation, smoothing out fluctuations in a renewable energy grid.

‘A process like this would allow you to consume extra electricity when it’s available to make and store as ethanol,’ said Rondinone. ‘This could help to balance a grid supplied by intermittent renewable sources.’

The researchers plan to further study this process and try and make it more efficient. If they’re successful, we just might see large-scale carbon capture using this technique in the near future.”

Codeweavers Crossover Running on a Chromebook!

Codeweavers Crossover allows you to run some (quite a few) Windows apps on Linux. It is the paid version of WINE. Well, Chromebooks are based on a special distro of Linux, and some Chromebooks (like the ASUS Chromebook Flip) now work with Android. So, look what Codeweavers has done!

Here’s what Codeweavers says: “Google released Android for Intel based ChromeBooks. AND CrossOver for Android installed and ran on a Google ChromeBook. More importantly, we were able to install the Steam Client into CrossOver for Android and run LIMBO and other games. MORE IMPORTANTLY, we have DirectX 9 support, keyboard support, mouse support, and sound support TODAY!!! PEOPLE, we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE…EVER!!!”

Microsoft’s Future is In the Cloud

Microsoft sets itself on the Cloud for the future.

As PCs decline, Microsoft betting its future on the cloud

Tulsa World via the AP – “In a world where there’s a smartphone app for everything, one company — Inc. — has long been the host for an outsized share of online software and computing services.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wants to change that.

Nadella has poured billions of dollars into building new data centers around the world, hoping to position Microsoft as the leading alternative to Amazon in selling online computing power — housed in remote centers or ‘clouds’ — to internet startups and big corporations, as well as consumers.

As evidence the investment is paying off, Microsoft Corp. reported Tuesday that its Azure cloud-computing business more than doubled in sales last quarter, compared with a year earlier. That growth, combined with increases in revenue from Windows software licenses and other key segments, helped offset a big decline in revenue from the Nokia smartphone business that Microsoft largely shut down last year.

If Amazon has been the undisputed king of the cloud, analysts say Microsoft, Google and a few other tech giants are emerging as rivals. The competition could mean lower prices and more innovation, both for businesses that buy cloud-computing services and for consumers who use popular apps — from Netflix to Pinterest and Airbnb — that run in the cloud.

Amazon pioneered the cloud business almost 10 years ago, when the online retailer began renting out unused capacity on its own servers. Estimates vary, depending on how you define ‘cloud computing,’ but analysts at Synergy Research Group say Amazon still has more than 30 percent of the market, while Microsoft has grown to 10 percent — partly on the strength of Microsoft’s promise that its cloud services are compatible with Microsoft software that customers already have on their own computers.

IBM and Google have 7 and 5 percent, respectively. Like Microsoft, IBM reported this week that its cloud revenues increased in the last quarter, despite a broader decline in its traditional software business.

For consumers, competition in the cloud-computing industry could mean their favorite social media site or streaming entertainment app doesn’t depend on a single company to keep its service running. Increasingly, that’s also true for big companies like General Electric and Boeing, which provide online data and other services for their commercial customers, and which recently signed deals to move some of those services to Microsoft’s cloud.

‘Some companies will want to work with multiple cloud providers, so if anything goes wrong, they have redundancy,’ said Frank Gillett, a tech analyst with Forrester Research.

For Microsoft, meanwhile, cloud computing has been the company’s biggest source of growth in recent quarters. It’s helped drive up Microsoft’s stock price by 15 percent over the last year, despite sluggish sales of PC software and the near-collapse of its floundering smartphone business. The company’s stock was up about 4 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday following the earnings report.

Some investors worry the cloud business isn’t as profitable as selling traditional software, since the latter didn’t require massive spending on data centers. But cloud computing is ‘the area that offers the highest potential for the entire company to grow its way out of a very mature PC business,’ said Dan Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust, which holds Microsoft shares.

Results from Microsoft’s latest quarter underscored that trend. The company doesn’t disclose revenue for its Azure cloud computing service by itself. But Microsoft’s ‘Intelligent Cloud’ division — which includes Azure and some software that customers use in their own data centers — reported revenue of $6.7 billion, up 7 percent from a year earlier. That helped boost Microsoft’s overall sales to $22.6 billion, after adjusting for deferred revenue, for an overall increase of 2 percent.

Revenue from the division that includes Microsoft’s Office productivity software was up 5 percent. But sales from the ‘More Personal Computing’ segment fell 4 percent. The latter includes licensing fees that PC makers pay for Windows software, which saw an uncharacteristic increase, offset by declining revenue from smartphones and Xbox consoles.

Microsoft still relies heavily on the PC business, and it’s been aggressively promoting Windows 10, the latest version of its operating software for PCs and other devices. But Nadella has positioned Windows 10 as part of a broader software ecosystem that includes money-making online services like Skype and the ad-supported Bing search engine.

In a rare concession, Microsoft signaled last week that it was backing off its stated goal of getting Windows 10 on a billion devices by 2018. Analysts say the timetable was probably slowed by a continued slump in global PC demand, as well as Microsoft’s failure to persuade consumers to buy Windows-based phones.”

Mandriva Linux, Formerly Mandrake Linux, is No More!

I used to use Mandrake Linux back in the day (which later became Mandriva Linux to settle a copyright dispute with the Hearst Corporation over the “Mandrake” cartoon character in its newspapers.) It had some great features in it’s day. like the Mandriva Control Center for doing system administration.

You have to remember, this was prior to Unbuntu, Linux Mint, or Peppermint Linux. Now, they have quietly closed down the Mandriva Linux project.

Goodbye Mandriva, we will remember you fondly!

The Last VCR Will Roll Off the Assembly Line This Month!

Last VCR

Another old technology bites the dust!

RIP VHS: World’s Last VCR Will Be Made This Month

Forbes – By: Brittany Hodak – “Be warned, vintage videophiles: Japan’s Funai Electric, a company that claims to be the last manufacturer of videocassette recorders (VCRs), will manufacture its last VHS player this month.

Funai, which manufacturers the VCRs in China for Sanyo, says the decision comes after selling only 750,000 units last year, down from a peak of 15 million units per year. The decreased production numbers have made parts costly and difficult to source, the company says.

JVC’s VHS configuration debuted in 1977, sparking the VHS/Betamax configuration war. VHS trumped Betamax, which debuted in 1975, thanks in large part to its embracing of the X-Rated market; Sony banned the adult industry from releasing movies on its configuration, leading many consumers—who didn’t want to purchase two different devices—to choose VHS. A decade later, in 1987, VHS controlled 90% of the $5.25 billion VCR market. (Last year, Sony announced it would finally stop selling its blank Betamax cassette tapes.)

VHS ruled the home entertainment world for more than two decades. Sony created the DVD player in 1994, but the technology did not debut in the U.S. until 1997, due in larger part to copyright concerns from major movie studios. With early DVD players retailing for $1,000 or more, VHS remained the top configuration in the United States into the new millennium.

In 2001, retail DVDs topped VHS sales for the first time, capturing $4.6 billion of an annual $16.8 billion buying-and-rental market. However, only 25% of homes owning DVD players in 2001, and VHS remained the top rental configuration until mid-2003. The final nail in the VHS coffin came in 2oo6, when A History Of Violence became the final major Hollywood movie was released in the format.

Believe it or not, a search on Amazon for ‘VHS movies’ still returns 135,267 results. More than half of the titles are even available for free two-day Prime shipping! The most popular titles include a mix of classic Disney movies (Bambi, Lady and the Tramp and Beauty and the Beast lead the way) and original box sets of the Star Wars Trilogy. Pokemon: The First Movie also makes an appearance on the first page—presumably because Pokemon GO players are hoping to catch rare creatures inside.

It’s highly unlikely that VHS will ever receive the nostalgic revival that vinyl—and, in recent months, the cassette tape—has enjoyed, thanks in part to high-definition, ultra high-definition and 3D televisions. However, a small number of retro VHS titles still command big money on the secondary market, so look twice before you toss out those old videocassettes.

RIP, VCRs, and thanks for the memories.”

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