A detailed technical rebuttal of Bloomberg's "backdoored servers" article

Earlier this month, Bloomberg published a terrifying, detailed story claiming that Chinese spies had, for years, been sneaking hardware backdoors into servers used in data-centers run by companies like Apple and Amazon, as well as Congress, the Senate, the White House, Navy battleships and more. Read the rest

Apple may pop an updated iPad Mini in 2019

Apple will be plopping out new hardware at their second fall event, come the end of the month. Those that spend their days puzzling out what trillion dollar companies will aspire to sell us next think that there's a good chance that we'll see a refresh of the iPad Pro (possibly with a USB-C port baked into them) and refreshed MacBooks. Good stuff, all around, especially if they can figure out how to fix the hot mess that Apple currently has the nerve to call a keyboard.

But what's down the road? Ming-Chi Kuo thinks he knows. Kuo is a supply chain analyst for IT International Securities. It's part of Kuo's gig to try and figure out what products a company plans on making, based on the components that they order. According to Kuo, a new iPad Mini is a-coming.

From The Verge:

Kuo says that the new iPad Mini will get “an upgraded processor and a lower-cost panel,” which would seem to position it as a smaller option for those considering Apple’s entry-level iPad model rather than a miniature version of the iPad Pro. An iPad Mini update has been a long time coming — Apple last updated the device with the iPad Mini 4 back in 2015.

Kuo also says that Apple is still looking at either late 2018 or early 2019 for the AirPower charging mat along with the rumored AirPod update that would add a Qi-compatible case. It’s still not clear whether those will be showing up at next week’s event, or if Apple will even mention the still missing charging pad at all.

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Astrohaus' Freewrite Traveler might not be ideal for every writer, but maybe you'll dig it

Our Jason Weisberger isn't a huge fan of the Freewrite that he bought a few years back. Others feel differently about the pricey mechanical keyboard and E Ink display-equipped focused writing slab. From the looks of things, enough people dig it that the device's parent company, Astrohaus, felt that it was time to release a more portable version. Enter the Freewrite Traveler.

Weighing in at just under 30 ounces, the Freewrite Traveler is a lightweight E Ink writing machine with a folding display, which'll take up a whole lot less room in a Scrivener's bag than Astrohaus' original typing slab did.

From The Verge:

The Traveler weighs 1.8 pounds compared the original’s four pounds, which can partially be attributed to a change in keyboards. The Freewrite features a full-size mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown keyswitches. The Traveler includes a thinner scissor-switch keyboard, which might be less enticing to some die-hard mechanical keyboard users, but it also had to be swapped out to make the Traveler lighter and thinner. The new device keeps the original 6-inch E Ink display, and it still charges over USB-C. Astrohaus says the Traveler battery should last for around 30 hours. It’ll cost $269 with early bird discounts on Indiegogo, and it will eventually retail for around $599. It comes in one colorway: a white interior and black exterior.

Unfortunately, while the hardware might be a great step forward from a portability standpoint, the Freewrite Traveler still suffers from some of the same needless bullshit that users of its older sibling have been forced to suffer. Read the rest

I'm a big fan of this inexpensive little fan

I was recently asked by USA Today's technology site, Reviewed.com, to sort out a feature on the best rechargeable batteries. I called in a ton of the things, in a number of sizes, and got down to testing. One of the tests that I decided to run was to pop the various AA cells I had on hand, by brand, into a battery-powered fan to see how long they could run the thing for. I opted to order the least expensive fans I could find that I felt, based on my past experience testing fans (if you work as a hardware journalist for long enough, sooner or later, you'll have tested damn near everything), wouldn't crap out on me after running for a few hours: the Honeywell HTF090B Turbo on the Go Personal Fan. In order to cut down on the amount of time it'd take me to run the tests I needed to conduct, I ordered four of them.

To my surprise, I fell in love with an $11 piece of hardware.

This little Honeywell fan can be run off of a USB connection, making it a great choice for using at your desk, or four AA batteries. When running the fan on rechargeable battery power, I was able to get a maximum run time of close to 10 hours. Not bad! It's light and compact enough that you could stick it in a carry-on bag to take with you traveling or toss it in the back of a car to keep you cool during a bit of tent camping on a weekend. Read the rest

Stellar collection of 1980s tech company logos (also available as a slideshow!)

Available free on Archive.org, the 1985 Electronic Engineers Master Vol 2 contains page after page of excellent technology company logos, many of which have been lost to the obsolescence of hardware and business plans. Marcin Wichary the designer/typographer/writer behind the Segmented Type Playground and the Pac-Man Google Doodle, turned the logos into a beautifully haunting slideshow.

(via Kottke)

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LG's G7 ThinQ smartphone looks like a great handset but it creeps me out

Last week, I flew to Toronto to check out a new phone that LG's had a hell of a time trying to keep a secret: the LG G7 ThinQ.

It looks looks and feels a lot like most of the high end handsets that companies are pushing out today. It's slick to the touch (you'll definitely want to put it into a case), has a nice heft to it, and yes, a notch at the at the top of its display a là iPhone X, but the company reps were quick to point out to me that you can totally make it disappear with a little software sorcery.

Depending on where you are in the world, you'll be able to pick up the G7 ThinQ with 4GB of RAM plus 64GB storage or with 6GB RAM plus 128GB storage. No matter which one you fork over your money for, storage shouldn't be an issue: the handset supports microSD cards up to 2TB in size. The phone's got an ultra bright 1,000-nit display which, while they wouldn't let me take outside to test, LG swears will make it easy to see in direct sunlight. I don't doubt that this is the case.

Its camera does tricks, too. It uses onboard A.I. to guess at what you're taking a photo of and sets itself up to take the best shot of your subject that it can. Under controlled conditions, I was shown how it can take photos in near darkness that'll come out well lit and looking reasonably good. Read the rest

The Floppotron: reclaimed computer hardware as a musical instrument

Paweł Zadrożniak, aka Silent, created The Floppotron, the greatest new musical instrument in recent memory. Here is it playing Through the Fire and Flames from Dragonforce. Read the rest

Hiding malware in boobytrapped replacement screens would undetectably compromise your mobile device

On the one hand, if you let an untrusted stranger install hardware in your electronic device, you're opening yourself up to all kinds of potential mischief; on the other hand, an estimated one in five smartphones has a cracked screen and the easiest, most efficient and cheapest way to get that fixed is to go to your corner repair-shop. Read the rest

Five methods to remove a stripped screw

I probably strip 50-65% of screws that I install. (I know, I'm doing it wrong. For starters, I should step away from my power drill until I learn to be more delicate.) Until I break my bad habits, Mikesaurus's Instructables post "5 Ways to Remove a Stripped Screw" will come in handy. (I've long ago mastered the bonus sixth step: "Leave it.")

This rubber band method is surprisingly effective and doesn't require anything you may not have at home:

"If the screw isn't totally stripped the rubber band will help fill in the areas where the screw has been stripped and provide friction where it's needed, allowing the screw to be removed."

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PocketCHIP handheld Linux computer

Donald Bell of the Maker Project Lab checks out the PocketCHIP handheld Linux computer. It cost $69 and has a keyboard and color display. It's mainly for creating and playing games. Looks pretty cool! Read the rest

New 3D printing config dramatically reduces print time

Autodesk’s Project Escher allows multiple 3D printers to manufacture the same object simultaneously via a software "conductor." Read the rest

Inside China's 'Silicon Valley of Hardware,' Shenzhen, with hardware hacker Bunnie Huang

In the first of a series of documentary videos about 'Future Cities,' WIRED UK has released a wonderful short doc on Huaqiangbei, the vast market district in Shenzhen, China.

They picked the best host and guide imaginable for this project, hardware hacker and researcher Andrew "Bunnie" Huang. Read the rest

MacBook customized to resemble 1980s Apple IIe

The hardware customizers ColorWare are now offering new MacBooks reskinned with an Apple IIe vibe. They're $3,000 and limited to an edition of ten. Read the rest

How to electrify your skateboard with a power drill

DIY boosted board made with a power drill, brass wire wheel brush, extension bit holder, right angle drill attachment, flexible bit holder, and of course a skateboard and wheels.

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Illustrator is drawing every item in his late grandfather's tool shed

Artist Lee John Phillips has begun to lovingly draw the over 100,000 items housed in his late grandfather's toolshed. He plans to catalog every single tool, part, gadget, and bit of hardware over the course of the next five years.

I adore old tools and hardware, and I find that his illustration style is wonderful at capturing their essence. I'll be following along on his Instagram page, and would certainly purchase a print edition should he make one available (hint, hint).

Artist Celebrates Late Grandfather by Drawing the 100,000+ Items in His Tool Shed (Thanks, Oh Soon!) Read the rest

"Big T" measuring tape looks like Mr. T

The Fisco "Big T" measuring tape resembles Mr T. "I pity the rule." Read the rest

How the hell did they get 1024 colors out of a 1981 PC?

If technical descriptions of how they achieved the amazing graphical feat flew over your head, this pictorial explanation makes clearer just how insane this thing is.

The idea that such multi-color trickery was possible came to me some time ago, as I was looking at reenigne's code for patching up composite CGA emulation in DOSBox; messing with that patch during development gave me a much better picture of composite CGA's inner workings. When I had ironed out the basic concept for this hack, I divulged it to reenigne for 'peer review' and for testing on real hardware. Soon enough, we had an improved recipe:

Take two familiar (though officially undocumented) tweaks. Blend to an even mixture producing a new effect. Add one crucial new trick – an ingredient of reenigne's devising. Test and calibrate until blue in the face.

It's also a great look at the workings of CGA for the interested but nontechnical layman.

Released at the Revision 2015 demo party, 8088 MPH is a vision of previously undiscovered possibility (a perfect entrypoint to the 19A0s!)—there's even MOD music, including digital samples, at 6:40m, like it's just no big deal at all to do that with 1981 hardware

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