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Sep 20, 2011

3D Printers Used to Create ATM Skimmers

ATM skimmers were printed with high-tech 3D devices by a group of fraudsters who managed to steal more that $400,000 (€ 280,000) from unsuspecting bank customers.

Like every other major improvement in technology, 3D printers are put to good use among thieves, this time in the attempt to replicate credit card slots strategically placed on automated teller machines.

The scam isn't new, but the fact that 3D printers represent the means of doing it, is. The new devices don't come cheap, but it looks like the investment is well worth it, right up until you get caught by a police officer working under cover, informs Krebs on Security.

Skimmers are components placed by those who plan on committing bank fraud, on the front of cash machines, right on top of the credit card slot in a way to make it look like it belongs there. Each card that passes through the contraption is copied into the device, exposing all the information to the crooks. Because credit card information is almost worthless without a PIN code, tiny cameras are strategically placed to record the security digits of each.

The four men indicted by a federal court in June used a 3D printer to create perfect scanners that would be placed on automated banking machines.

After the gang's leader, Jason Lall was imprisoned for ATM fraud in 2009, the rest of his men had to come up with a new way of procuring the contraptions. That's when the techie behind the whole operation came up with the plan of printing them.

“When [Lall was] put in jail, we asked, ‘What are we going to do?’ and we had to figure it out and that’s when we came up with this unit,” Paz allegedly told an undercover officer that infiltrated the group.

The accomplice that handled the “heavy lifting” was Albert Richard of Missouri City, Texas. He was in charge with mounting the skimmers on the machines, making sure that the surveillance camera's were blocked.

The last member of the gang had the mission of driving all around Texas, emptying the bank accounts of the victims.

According to the owner of a company that handles 3D printing, costs for a high-end device that could almost flawlessly reproduce the front of an ATM can reach $20,000 (€14,000).


Nvidia Details Kal-El Architecture, Packs 5 ARM Cores

After a long wait, Nvidia is finally getting ready for the launch of Kal-El and it recently sent our way a series of documents describing in great detail the architecture of this chips as well as the performance improvements brought by the move to a quad-core design.

Nvidia introduced Kal-El at MWC 2011 in February of this year and back then it described the SoC as a quad-core ARM Cortex A9-based chip which brings great performance benefits when compared with the current Tegra 2.

While the last part of the statement still hold true, what Nvidia failed to mention is the Kal-El will actually feature a fifth Cortex A9 core.

The Santa Clara company calls this technology variable Symmetric Multiprocessing, vSMP for short, 
and its main purpose is to reduce the power consumption of Kal-El when running in an idle state or when executing tasks that require low processing power.

Compared to the other four ARM cores found inside Kal-El, the so called “Companion” core is manufactured using a special low-power silicon process.

Before moving on, a short discussion about CPU fabrication techniques is in order to better understand Nvidia's reasoning for this decision.

Processor power consumption is mainly characterized by two characteristics: leakage power and dynamic power. 

Leakage power is for the most part determined by the silicon process technology used, while dynamic power is determined by the silicon process technology and by the operating voltages and frequencies of the chip. The total power consumption of the chip is the sum of these two values.

As a result, when a processor is operated at or near its peak frequency, its dynamic power consumption accounts for most of its TDP and while in idle or near idle, the leakage power is a significant portion of the total power consumption.

As stated above, the fabrication technology employed for a chip affects its leakage power to a great extent and transistors built using fast process technologies consume high leakage power under standby, but are capable at running at higher frequencies without requiring a significant increase in operating voltages.





















New iPhone 5 Case Leak Purports ‘Extremely’ Thin Design, Tapered Back

The iPhone 5 case displayed next to an iPhone 4 in the picture to the left is said to have simply showed up on someone’s doorstep, with the owner claiming it should house a very thin Apple device.

Titled, “I received an iPhone 5 Case”, this person’s three-day old GDGT post is only now receiving some proper attention. Not that it should be trusted, though.

“This case is EXTREMELY thin. If this is the final design, Apple will have a totally knockout product,” this person says. “It definitely fits a much wider and taller phone than the iPhone 4, so we should definitely have a bigger screen in our hands - at least 3.7"”, reads the post.

The poster adds that the case has a considerably larger camera slot (as everyone can see with their own eyes). This leads him to believe that there will be “more MP [megapixels] in the iPhone 5.”

The details this person was able to extract from this simple case are indeed enticing.

He also makes reference to the much rumored tapered back of the forthcoming iPhone 5.

“The taper is amazing,” he says, following with a link to an old report that speculated the possibility to see an iPod touch-shaped iPhone 5 this year.

For those of you hoping the next day will finally bring an end to all the iPhone 5 rumors, simply don’t. It won’t.

Not until Apple confirms its fall event which at least we know will be featuring iOS 5 and iCloud followed by their public debut.

We also agree that it’s becoming ridiculous to track all the rumors about iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and white iPod touches in the press.

So why don’t you use those comments to tell us what you think about all this.


Battlefield 3 Official PC System Requirements Available

Electronic Arts and DICE have finally released the official PC system requirements for the upcoming Battlefield 3 first person shooter, confirming what exact specifications computers need to meet to run the new title.

Battlefield 3 has been in development for quite some time and we've heard a variety of details about it and its innovative Frostbite 2 engine, which allows the title to display realistic graphics and animations.

Since the game's official announcement, we've seen a variety of footage, taken from all the game's versions, including the PC, PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, but only PC owners worried about what sorts of specifications their gaming rigs need to meet in order to handle Battlefield 3.

We already saw a leaked version of the system requirements appear many months ago, but only now did EA and DICE confirm a set of official specifications, so check out the minimum and recommended specs for Battlefield 3 below, via Eurogamer.

Minimum:
OS: Vista Service Pack 2 32-bit
Processor: 2GHZ Dual Core (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHZ or Athlon x2 2.7GHZ)
Memory: 2GB RAM
Hard drive: 20GB
Graphics card AMD: DirectX 10.1 compatible with 512MB RAM (ATI Radeon 3000, 4000, 5000 or 6000 series, with ATI Radeon 3870 or higher performance)
Graphics card Nvidia: DirectX 10.0 compatible with 512MB RAM (Nvidia GeForce 8, 9, 200, 300, 400 or 500 series with Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT or higher performance)
Sound card: DirectX compatible
Keyboard and mouse
DVD ROM drive

Recommended:
OS: Windows 7 64-bit
Processor: Quad Core CPU
Memory: 4GB RAM
Hard drive: 20GB
Graphics card: DirectX 11 compatible with 1024MB RAM (Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 or ATI Radeon 6950)
Sound card: DirectX compatible
Keyboard and mouse
DVD ROM drive

While the minimum specifications aren't all that bad, the recommended ones are pretty steep, considering both video cards are the most recent generation made by their respective manufacturers.

What do you think? Share your thoughts about these requirements below.

Battlefield is out on October 25, for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.


DoTA 2 Beta Leaked, Details About Game and Half-Life 2: Episode 3 Available

A beta version for the upcoming Dota 2 online title from Valve has apparently been leaked on the web, with many enthusiasts examining every single file and extrapolating a variety of details about not just Dota 2 but also other files that hint at the often rumored Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

Valve is banking big on the upcoming Dota 2 online action real time strategy game, the sequel to one of the most popular mods for WarCraft III, Defense of the Ancients.

It's already held a massive event for the game earlier this year at Gamescom 2011, and it now seems that a very private beta is ran across the world.

Files for this beta have now been leaked on the web, via Kotaku, and Dota fans have examined every one of them in order to uncover new details about the upcoming title.

First up, all the game modes are now known, including Single Draft, All Random, Random Draft, Captains Draft, Captains Mode, Death Mode, and Easy Mode, while there are a lot of assets like character icons, menu screens or spell icons, not to mention audio files for each single character.

Portions of code also hint at a free-to-play mode, similar to what Valve is now doing with Team Fortress 2, while a new intro with the classic bald-headed Valve guy is set to be presented with Dota 2.

Other fans, this time dedicated to Valve's Half-Life franchise, have found, via Game Informer, some interesting files that seem to include weapon information for something called 'ep3', including mentions of a icegun or a flamethrower, weapons that didn't appear up until now in the series, but may be included in the often rumored Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

Valve hasn't commented on the leak, so do take these details with a grain of salt before the company reveals anything official about Dota 2 or Episode 3. 


Intel to Release Two Atom SoC Devices in 2012

In the upcoming year, Intel will intensify its assault on the tablet and smartphone market by releasing two Atom system-on-a-chip devices built using the 32nm fabrication technology, not just one as previously thought.

The first one of these chips is known by the code name of Medfield and is the company's first Atom SoC solution targeting the mobile market.

Unlike the previous Atom designs, Medfield will include not only the processor cores and the GPU on the same die, but also the I/O functionality that was previously enclosed in the northbridge such as SATA and USB interface or the PCI Express links.

By going this route, Intel will be able to decrease both the costs and the power consumption of its chips, and will finally have a solution, from an integration point of view, able to compete with the ARM-based processors developed by Nvidia or Texas Instruments.

This design will be further refined in 2013 with the launch of the Silvermont architecture, but between Medfield and this SoC, Intel also plans to introduce a second chip targeted at the low-power market.

Information about this processor is scarce at this moment, but AnandTech claims that it will also be built using the 32nm fabrication process and that, most probably, it will come as a dual-core part (maybe with Hyper-Threading enabled) in order to compete with the quad-core ARM chips expected to arrive from Nvidia and Qualcomm. 

Together with the CPU, the graphics core could also get an upgrade, which will most probably be based on a PowerVR design just as its the case with the current solutions enclosed in the Oak Trail tablet processors.

Other details are not available, but it seems like Intel is determined to go after ARM in the tablet and smartphone space. The only thing that remains to be seen is if the Santa Clara chip maker will actually manage to achieve its target.


Windows Phone Mango to Arrive at Vodafone Starting Tomorrow

Another day, another rumors regarding the availability of Windows Phone Mango, the new mobile operating system flavor from Microsoft, as a software update for the already available Windows Phone devices on the market. 

The update was expected to arrive last week, and a recently leaked internal memo from wireless carrier Orange France confirmed that, yet Microsoft was not yet ready to bring it to devices, and the actual release date was postponed. 

No official word on the matter has emerged for the time being, nor on the new release window for the platform, yet rumor has it that the software might be released as soon as tomorrow, September 21st, at least on Vodafone's airwaves. 

What's even more interesting is the fact that handsets available through the entire Vodafone Group are expected to start receiving the update, which means that users in a wide range of European countries and elsewhere should receive it. 

Of course, nothing has been officially confirmed on this for the time being, and chances are that, the same as the previous rumors on the availability of Mango, this one will not pan out either. 

Last week, Vodafone Australia announced that they have already finished testing the software update, and that the roll-out process should start in the near future, but they did not offer specific details on when that might happen. 

Other wireless carriers around the world, including O2 in the UK, or Tesltra in Australia, also confirmed that they were ready for the deployment, yet Microsoft is the one who should start pushing the software out, it seems. 

When compared to the previous version of Windows Phone, mango packs a wide range of enhancements, new features and fixes, and should offer a greatly improved experience to all users.

The new platform release is also set to arrive on shelves on new hardware starting with this fall, and is said to have already made an appearance on upgraded handsets in some European countries. (via)


Windows 8 Preview Build 8102 M3 Expires March 12, 2012

Save the date: March 12, 2012. This is the last day when early adopters are able to use the fully fledged Windows Developer Preview. 

Microsoft gave green light to downloads of Windows 8 Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) a week ago, starting on September 13, 2011.

The first public preview of Windows 8 will have some six months of life to enjoy after which it will expire. 

This should of course come as no surprise, since it’s the software giant’s policy for all pre-release software. 

Windows 8 Preview Build 8102 M3 too is time-bombed, and according to the information that the operating system displays, it’s set to expire on March 12, 2012. 

This means that testers only have about half a year to play with the Windows 8 Developer Preview working as it is today. 

Most likely, Windows 8 Preview Build 8102 M3 will continue to work even after March 12, 2012, although the expiration deadline is bound to bring with it the crippling of the user experience. 

As far as I’m concerned, the date is an indication that users will already have a new pre-release Build of Windows 8 to play with ahead of March 12, 2012. 

According to what little Microsoft did reveal about the development milestones of Windows 8, M3 will be followed by the Beta, with the Release Candidate (RC) planned for availability after that, and RTM (release to manufacturing) afterwards. 

There’s no telling at this point in time when Windows 8 Beta is offered to early adopters, but just as it was the case for Build 8102, this development milestone will undoubtedly be public. 

Personally, I think that testers will get Windows 8 Beta at least a few months ahead of the expiration deadline of Build 8102. I’d venture out to say that a CES 2012 release could be realistic, although I must stress that this is nothing but speculation at this point in time. 



Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

WinMend Auto Shutdown 1.3.0.1

A utility that can turn off your computer automatically

WinMend Auto Shutdown is a utility that can turn off your computer automatically. With simple settings, it can shut down, hibernate, stand by or log off the computer unattended at a scheduled time.

There is a 30-second countdown screen before the computer is automatically turned off, so you can cancel or change the operation in time. Based on user`s settings, it can be launched automatically at Windows startup to perform tasks set by the user.When auto shutdown is set up, it will be minimized to the task bar. Your screen will look clean!

Requirements:

  • 800mhz CPU
  • 256MB RAM
  • 12 MB of free hard disk space.

What's New in This Release:

  • Add the system determines for stand by and sleep
  • Improved support for Windows 7

Download here

Freemake Audio Converter 1.0.0.2

Audio Converter to MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, M4A, OGG.

Freemake Audio Converter converts audio files between all key audio formats and prepares music for MP3 players, mobile phones and Apple gadgets. It accepts over 40 audio file formats (MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, M4A, OGG, AMR, AC3, AIFF, M4R) that makes it available to transfer and listen to almost any audio in media players like iPod, Zune, Coby, SanDisc and many others. 

The free audio program converts audio to M4A and M4R audio formats preparing files for Apple devices - iPad, iPhone, iPod. For more convenience it also exports converted audio files directly to iTunes library.

For each of the supported audio formats Freemake Audio Converter has several pre-defined presets. For more powerful users the program allows to create a custom preset with the adjustment of a bitrate, audio channels and sample rate of an output audio.

Freemake Audio Converter is also capable of extracting audio from video files - DVD, MP4, AVI, MPEG, H.264, MKV, DIVX, MOV, WMV, VOB, 3GP, RM, QT, FLV and over forty other video formats.

For those who would like to convert multiple audio files simultaneously, the audio converter provides an option to convert audio in batches. Also, the freeware allows users to join audio files into one and convert it to any of the supported output formats. Quickly convert your video and audio files to other audio formats using Freemake Audio Converter.

Here are some key features of "Freemake Audio Converter":
  • Convert audio to MP3, M4A, WMA, WAV, AAC
  • Convert audio between all key audio formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, M4A, OGG. Convert WMA to MP3, WAV to MP3, MP3 to WAV, FLAC to MP3, AAC to MP3, etc.

Free MP3 Converter:
  • Use Freemake as Free MP3 Converter: convert audio to MP3 format for MP3 playes: iPod, Zune, Coby, SanDisc Sansa, iRiver, Walkman, Archos, GoGear, etc.
  • Convert audio to iPod, iPhone, iPad
  • Convert audio to M4A format for Apple devices. Get smaller than MP3 audio files for playback on iPod, iPhone, iPad or in iTunes.

MP3 to iTunes:
  • Send MP3 and AAC files directly to iTunes from our audio converter

Join audio files:
  • Merge multiple audio files into one with Free Audio Converter from Freemake.

Extract audio from video:
  • Export audio tracks from video files: DVD, H.264, AVI, MPEG, MP4, MKV, DIVX, MOV, WMV, VOB, 3GP, RM, QT, FLV, etc

Requirements:
  • .NET Framework 4.0

Download here

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