Category Archives: Computer Repair

Zeroday exploit for Windows and Chrome

There is a zeroday (meaning infection in the wild that was just publicly acknowledged and is infecting people) exploit for Windows 10 (and previous versions of Windows) combined with an exploit in Google Chrome .  You need to make sure to update both your Google Chrome to the latest version and apply any pending Windows 10 (or 7, 8, etc) updates.  Read more about it at:

https://arstechnica-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/03/attackers-are-actively-exploiting-a-serious-windows-zeroday-in-the-wild/?amp=1&amp_js_v=0.1

Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

The new Spring Creators Update for Windows 10 will be released this week.  There will be many new features with this release, including the ability to resume past activities in timeline and a file sharing feature with nearby devices. There will be other features coming as well, including a rebuilt Game Bar with a new Fluent design UI, a diagnostic data viewing tool in the Security and Privacy section, and Cortana is reportedly easier to use with a new Organizer interface and My Skills tab.

Read more about the new Spring Creators Update for Windows 10 here:

https://hothardware.com/news/microsoft-confirms-windows-10-april-update-release-build-17134

Unpatchable Nintendo Switch Exploit

 

A newly published exploit for the Nintendo Switch console is unpatchable.  The exploit can’t be fixed via a downloadable patch because the exploit makes use of a vulnerability in the USB recovery mode, circumventing the lock-out operations that would usually protect the bootROM. The flawed bootROM can’t be modified once the chip leaves the factory. Access to the fuses needed to configure the device’s ipatches was blocked when the ODM_PRODUCTION fuse was burned, so no bootROM update is possible.

Nintendo may be able to detect hacked systems when they sign into Nintendo’s online servers. Nintendo could then ban those systems from accessing the servers and disable the hacked Switch’s online functions.

You can read more about the Unpatchable Nintendo Switch Exploit at:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/04/the-unpatchable-exploit-that-makes-every-current-nintendo-switch-hackable/

Commodore Plus/4

Plus/4 – 121 colors in 1984!

Model:           Commodore Plus/4 

Manufactured: 1984

Processor: 7501/8501 ~0.88MHz when the raster beam is on the
visible screen and ~1.77MHz the rest of the time. (The TED chip
generates the processor frequency). The resulting speed is equal to the
vic-20. A PAL vic-20 is faster than this NTSC machine, but a PAL Plus/4
is just a little faster than a PAL vic-20.

Memory: 64Kb (60671 bytes available in Basic)

Graphics: TED (7360)

Hi-Resolution: 320x200
Colors: 121 (All can be visible at the same time)
Hardware reverse display of characters
Hardware blinking
Hardware cursor
Smooth scrolling
Multicolor 160x200
(No sprites)

Sound: TED (7360)
2 voices (two tones or one tone + noise)
"OS" Basic 3.5
Built in Tedmon, software:
"3-plus-1" = word processor, spreadsheet, database and
graphs.

History and thoughts

The Plus/4 was called 264 as a prototype (January 1984) and was supposed to have customer selectable built in software. But they decided to ship all with the same built in software and rename the computer Plus/4 (June 1984). (The reason for the long delay was that Commodore’s factories were busy producing C64s). There was other versions available of the same “TED” computer (more or less): The C16 – Looks like a black Vic20 with white keys but is the same computer as the Plus/4, but with no built in software (except for Tedmon), only 16kb of ram, and no RS232. Why it looks like a vic-20 is because Commodore intended it as a replacement for the vic-20 when it was cancelled in 1984. There was also a C116 with the same features as the C16 but looked like a Plus/4 with rubber keys. About 400,000 Plus/4s were made (compared to 2,5 million vic-20s and something like 15 million C64s).

The reason why the Plus/4 wasn’t more popular was one: The C64! Commodore kind of competed with themselves. Let’s list the benefits with the two computers:

 Plus/4:
   * 121 colors (compared to c64's 16)
   * Very powerful basic
   * Built in machine language monitor
   * A little faster
   * Built in software
   * Lower price

 C64:
   * Sprite graphics
   * Better sound
   * Lots of software available
   * All your frieds have one
   * Your old vic-20 tape recorder will work without an adapter
   * Your old vic-20 joysticks will work without adapters

Well, which would you choose?

Well, Basic 3.5 is quite powerful. It has commands for graphics, sound, disk commands, error handling etc. I counted 111 commands/functions (compared to 70 for the C64). On the c64, POKE and PEEK is the only way to access graphics, sprites and sound. And with most of those registers being two bytes big and the chips a bit complex to set up, that is quite troublesome and time consuming for the basic. And drawing graphics with lines, circles etc using only basic on the c64 is just impossible (or would take a year!) On the other hand – if basic programming doesn’t interest you, but copying pirate copied games from your friends, then the c64 is your computer… I mean back then! 😉

There was more reasons than just the c64 for the Plus/4’s lack of success. There are many theories about this on the internet so instead of just repeating them, I would like to contribute with another one: The strange names! Why on earth name the same line of computers so differently! The Plus/4, C16 and C116 is more compatible than a vic-20 with and without memory expansion! And they even look different! I would have made two different computers:”TED-64″ (Plus/4) and”TED-16″ (The C16, but in a Plus/4 case).

They would also have normal joystick and tape ports (or adapters included with the computer). The 3-plus-1 software could have been left out and been sold separately on a cartridge to bring down the price of the computer. It could have been sold together with the computer in a bundle at a reduced price if you wanted to. This way the original 264 idea about customer selectable included software could have been doable with all the selectable software on different cartridges.


My impressions

I have just got the Plus/4, but my impression of it so far is very positive. It’s little and neat. I like the basic and the graphics. The computer has very much “Commodore” feeling. I would say it’s like a mix between the vic-20 (for the simplicity, one graphcis/sound chip and default colors), the C64 (for the similar graphics) and the C128 (for the powerful basic and the similarities with the 128’s VDC chip features like blinking etc.) The Plus/4 also have the Esc codes that the C128 has. The machine language monitor is also almost the same. But in the same time the Plus/4 is simple and easy to survey like the vic-20. I think it’s a well designed computer. The only thing I don’t like about the Plus/4 is the lack of a Restore key. But there are work-arounds (Runstop+reset for example). I have written some more tips about this in the manuals below.

The same people designing the Plus/4 (except for one) later designed the C128.

If you plan to get a Plus/4, then you might want to know that the 1541 diskdrive is working, the video cable is the same as for the c64 (at least composite and sound that my cable is using). But for joysticks, you need to make a little adapter, also for the tape recorder (if it isn’t of the black type that has a built in adapter).

My Plus/4 is a NTSC machine with a 110V power supply. And living in Sweden I needed to buy a 220->110v converter. The Plus/4 does not need the frequency from the PSU (like the C64), so a simple converter that generates 110v 50Hz is fine. My Plus/4 has a square power plug. Others have a round one, and then I could have used an European c64 power supply instead. There are of course PAL Plus/4s as well, but I got mine for free and I like the NTSC display too. No BIG border around the screen like on all PAL Commodores. The NTSC Plus/4 has also a little faster key repeat, so it feels a little faster even though the PAL version runs faster. BUT – There is MUCH more PAL software available it seems…


This is an archive of pug510w’s Dator Museum which disappeared from the internet in 2017. We wanted to preserve the knowledge about the Commodore Plus/4 and are permanently hosting a copy of Dator Museum.

Designing Calm Technology

by Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown

Xerox PARC
December 21, 1995

Introduction

Bits flowing through the wires of a computer network are ordinarily invisible. But a radically new tool shows those bits through motion, sound, and even touch. It communicates both light and heavy network traffic. Its output is so beautifully integrated with human information processing that one does not even need to be looking at it or near it to take advantage of its peripheral clues. It takes no space on your existing computer screen, and in fact does not use or contain a computer at all. It uses no software, only a few dollars in hardware, and can be shared by many people at the same time. It is called the “Dangling String”.

Created by artist Natalie Jeremijenko, the “Dangling String” is an 8 foot piece of plastic spaghetti that hangs from a small electric motor mounted in the ceiling. The motor is electrically connected to a nearby Ethernet cable, so that each bit of information that goes past causes a tiny twitch of the motor. A very busy network causes a madly whirling string with a characteristic noise; a quiet network causes only a small twitch every few seconds. Placed in an unused corner of a hallway, the long string is visible and audible from many offices without being obtrusive. It is fun and useful. The Dangling String meets a key challenge in technology design for the next decade: how to create calm technology. 

We have struggled for some time to understand the design of calm technology, and our thoughts are still incomplete and perhaps even a bit confused. Nonetheless, we believe that calm technology may be the most important design problem of the twenty-first century, and it is time to begin the dialogue.

The Periphery

Designs that encalm and inform meet two human needs not usually met together. Information technology is more often the enemy of calm. Pagers, cellphones, newservices, the World-Wide-Web, email, TV, and radio bombard us frenetically. Can we really look to technology itself for a solution?

But some technology does lead to true calm and comfort. There is no less technology involved in a comfortable pair of shoes, in a fine writing pen, or in delivering the New York Times on a Sunday morning, than in a home PC. Why is one often enraging, the others frequently encalming? We believe the difference is in how they engage our attention. Calm technology engages both the center and the periphery of our attention, and in fact moves back and forth between the two.

We use “periphery” to name what we are attuned to without attending to explicitly. Ordinarily when driving our attention is centered on the road, the radio, our passenger, but not the noise of the engine. But an unusual noise is noticed immediately, showing that we were attuned to the noise in the periphery, and could come quickly to attend to it.

It should be clear that what we mean by the periphery is anything but on the fringe or unimportant. What is in the periphery at one moment may in the next moment come to be at the center of our attention and so be crucial. The same physical form may even have elements in both the center and periphery. The ink that communicates the central words of a text also, though choice of font and layout, peripherally clues us into the genre of the text. 

A calm technology will move easily from the periphery of our attention, to the center, and back. This is fundamentally encalming, for two reasons.

First, by placing things in the periphery we are able to attune to many more things than we could if everything had to be at the center. Things in the periphery are attuned to by the large portion of our brains devoted to peripheral (sensory) processing. Thus the periphery is informing without overburdening.

Second, by recentering something formerly in the periphery we take control of it. Peripherally we may become aware that something is not quite right, as when awkward sentences leave a reader tired and discomforted without knowing why. By moving sentence construction from periphery to center we are empowered to act, either by finding better literature or accepting the source of the unease and continuing. Without centering the periphery might be a source of frantic following of fashion; with centering the periphery is a fundamental enabler of calm through increased awareness and power.

Not all technology need be calm. A calm videogame would get little use; the point is to be excited. But too much design focuses on the object itself and its surface features without regard for context. We must learn to design for the periphery so that we can most fully command technology without being dominated by it. 

Our notion of technology in the periphery is related to the notion of affordances, due to Gibson by popularized by Norman. An affordance is a relationship between an object in the world and the intentions, perceptions, and capabilities of a person. The side of a door that only pushes out affords this action by offering a flat pushplate. The idea of affordance, powerful as it is, tends to describe the surface of a design. For us the term “affordance” does not reach far enough into the periphery where a design must be attuned to but not attended to.

Three signs of calm technology

Technologies encalm as they empower our periphery. This happens in two ways. First, as already mentioned, a calming technology may be one that easily moves from center to periphery and back. Second, a technology may enhance our peripheral reach by bringing more details into the periphery. An example is a video conference that, by comparison to a telephone conference, enables us to attune to nuances of body posture and facial expression that would otherwise be inaccessible. This is encalming when the enhanced peripheral reach increases our knowledge and so our ability to act without increasing information overload.

The result of calm technology is to put us at home, in a familiar place. When our periphery is functioning well we are tuned into what is happening around us, and so also to what is going to happen, and what has just happened. We are connected effortlessly to a myriad of familiar details. This connection to the world around we called “locatedness”, and it is the fundamental gift that the periphery gives us.

Examples of calm technology

To deepen the dialogue we now examine a few designs in terms of their motion between center and periphery, peripheral reach, and locatedness. Below we consider inner office windows, Internet Multicast, and once again the Dangling String.

inner office windows

We do not know who invented the concept of glass windows from offices out to hallways. But these inner windows are a beautifully simple design that enhances peripheral reach and locatedness. 

The hallway window extends our periphery by creating a two-way channel for clues about the environment. Whether it is motion of other people down the hall (its time for a lunch; the big meeting is starting), or noticing the same person peeking in for the third time while you are on the phone (they really want to see me; I forgot an appointment), the window connects the person inside to the nearby world.

Inner windows also connect with those who are outside the office. A light shining out into the hall means someone is working late; someone picking up their office means this might be a good time for a casual chat. These small clues become part of the periphery of a calm and comfortable workplace.

Office windows illustrate a fundamental property of motion between center and periphery. Contrast them with an open office plan in which desks are separated only by low or no partitions. Open offices force too much to the center. For example, a person hanging out near an open cubicle demands attention by social conventions of privacy and politeness. There is less opportunity for the subtle clue of peeking through a window without eavesdropping on a conversation. The individual, not the environment, must be in charge of moving things from center to periphery and back. 

The inner office window is a metaphor for what is most exciting about the Internet, namely the ability to locate and be located by people passing by on the information highway.

Internet Multicast

A technology called Internet Multicast may become the next World Wide Web (WWW) phenomenon. Sometimes called the MBone (for Multicast backBONE), multicasting was invented by a then graduate student at Stanford University, Steve Deering.

Whereas the World Wide Web (WWW) connects only two computers at a time, and then only for the few moments that information is being downloaded, the MBone continuously connects many computers at the same time. To use the familiar highway metaphor, for any one person the WWW only lets one car on the road at a time, and it must travel straight to its destination with no stops or side trips. By contrast, the MBone opens up streams of traffic between multiple people and so enables the flow of activities that constitute a neighborhood. Where the WWW ventures timidly to one location at a time before scurrying back home again, the MBone sustains ongoing relationships between machines, places, and people.

Multicast is fundamentally about increasing peripheral reach, derived from its ability to cheaply support multiple multimedia (video, audio, etc.) connections all day long. Continuous video from another place is no longer television, and no longer video-conferencing, but more like a window of awareness. A continuous video stream brings new details into the periphery: the room is cleaned up, something important may be about to happen; everyone got in late today on the east coast, must be a big snowstorm or traffic tie-up. 

Multicast shares with videoconferencing and television an increased opportunity to attune to additional details. Compared to a telephone or fax, the broader channel of full multimedia better projects the person through the wire. The presence is enhanced by the responsiveness that full two-way (or multiway) interaction brings. 

Like the inner windows, Multicast enables control of the periphery to remain with the individual, not the environment. A properly designed real-time Multicast tool will offer, but not demand. The MBone provides the necessary partial separation for moving between center and periphery that a high bandwidth world alone does not. Less is more, when less bandwidth provides more calmness. 

Multicast at the moment is not an easy technology to use, and only a few applications have been developed by some very smart people. This could also be said of the digital computer in 1945, and of the Internet in 1975. Multicast in our periphery will utterly change our world in twenty years.

Dangling String

Let’s return to the dangling string. At first it creates a new center of attention just by being unique. But this center soon becomes peripheral as the gentle waving of the string moves easily to the background. That the string can be both seen and heard helps by increasing the clues for peripheral attunement.

The dangling string increases our peripheral reach to the formerly inaccessible network traffic. While screen displays of traffic are common, their symbols require interpretation and attention, and do not peripheralize well. The string, in part because it is actually in the physical world, has a better impedance match with our brain’s peripheral nerve centers.

In Conclusion

It seems contradictory to say, in the face of frequent complaints about information overload, that more information could be encalming. It seems almost nonsensical to say that the way to become attuned to more information is to attend to it less. It is these apparently bizarre features that may account for why so few designs properly take into account center and periphery to achieve an increased sense of locatedness. But such designs are crucial. Once we are located in a world, the door is opened to social interactions among shared things in that world. As we learn to design calm technology, we will enrich not only our space of artifacts, but also our opportunities for being with other people. Thus may design of calm technology come to play a central role in a more humanly empowered twenty-first century.

Bibliography

Gibson, J. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Norman, D.A. The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 1988.

MBone. http://www.best.com/~prince/techinfo/mbone.html 

Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. Keeping It Simple: Investigating Resources in the Periphery. To appear in Solving the Software Puzzle. Ed. T. Winograd, Stanford University. Spring 1996. 

Weiser, M. The Computer for the Twenty-First Century. Scientific American. September 1991.

Brown, J.S. http://www.startribune.com/digage/seelybro.htm 

Weiser, M. http://www.ubiq.com/weiser


This is an archive of Mark Weiser’s ubiquitous computing website (ubiq.com) which disappeared from the internet in 2018 some time after Mark Weiser passed away. We wanted to preserve Mark Weiser’s knowledge about ubiquitous computing and are permanently hosting a selection of important pages from ubiq.com.

Creator’s Update coming to Windows 10

Microsoft just unveiled a plethora of products and updates to their hardware and software coming in 2017.  One of the most interesting announcements was the Creator’s Update coming to Windows 10 Spring of 2017.  The Creator’s Update features it’s first integration of 3D technology.  Starting with one of those oldest pieces of software from Windows, Paint 3D aims to scan objects from the real world and bring them to life in an all new 3D environment.  The update is largely meant for the new Surface Studio desktop that aims to ease professional artists into these realms. Look to see the Windows 10 Creator’s Update coming to all Windows 10 supported devices for free this Spring.

To read more about Creator’s Update visit the upcoming features sections of Microsoft.com.

Creators Upgrade for Windows 10

Apple Refreshes the MacBook Pro

It has been four years since Apple has overhauled the design of the MacBook Pro and today Apple aims to breathe new life into the series. Designed for developers, the MacBook Pro has always featured top of the line specifications to push the limits of computing of its time. Now thinner, more powerful, and seemingly more innovative than ever before. Apple aims to bring simplistic, easy to use controls at your finger tips. The new OLED display between the keyboard and screen (which used to be function keys) dubbed the Touch Bar utilizes taps and gestures to perform a wide array of tasks. The bar includes Touch ID powered by the company’s very own T1 chip for security. Touch ID can be used to make purchases as easy as a finger press with Apple Pay.

Updated MacBook Pro 2016

One of the biggest changes of the device is it’s inclusion of all new USB C ports. Any slot doubles as a charging port for the device. Long gone is the need to worry about where you are to get a comfortable charging area. These ports can be used for anything. Thunderbolt, USB, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, you name it. The downside? No more specific ports. You will need an adapter to get the compatibility with your older devices.

The device launches in many types of configurations and and claims no matter which model you get, it will be twice as fast as it’s previous generation. Learn more about the different specifications and configurations at Apple’s website here. Pre-orders expected to ship in 2-3 weeks.

Apple sues Amazon over fake chargers

According to a recently filed lawsuit by Apple, about 90% of the chargers sold on Amazon are fakes. Company Mobile Star LLC is being suited for trademark infringement, on allegations that the company has been selling fake Apple chargers as Genuine. In light of recent news, of some Apple devices catching fire, it is strongly advised that you use a Genuine Apple Certified cable to ensure not only your device safety, but yours as well.

Apple wrote the following:

“Consumers, relying on Amazon.com’s reputation, have no reason to suspect the power products they purchased from Amazon.com are anything but genuine. This is particularly true where, as here, the products are sold directly “by Amazon.com” as genuine Apple products using Apple’s own product marketing images. Consumers are likewise unaware that the counterfeit Apple products that Amazon.com sourced from Mobile Star have not been safety certified or properly constructed, lack adequate insulation and/or have inadequate spacing between low voltage and high voltage circuits, and pose a significant risk of overheating, fire, and electrical shock. Indeed, consumer reviews of counterfeit Apple power adapters purchased from Amazon.com and from the above ASIN report that the counterfeit products overheat, smolder, and in some cases catch fire:”

Apple goes further on to say that they purchased around 100 of these chargers and personally tested them in their labs to find that they were “poorly constructed, with inferior or missing components, flawed design, and inadequate electrical insulation.” Amazon has since then turned over their entire inventory back to Mobile Star LLC for further investigation and has pulled the chargers off the website.

More information about the lawsuit can be found here.

1TB SD Card

SanDisk just announced a new 1TB SD card (specifically a SDXC card) that is currently in prototype phase. The new card is aimed at the storage market for 4K and 8K video recorders or any other device that needs ultra high resolution video files (i.e. tons of storage space, like Virtual Reality VR playback devices).

SanDisk is one of the best flash and SD card manufacturers on the market.  It is one of the top brands we at Karls Technology recommend to our clients.  You can read more about the new cards in this article.