Rest that hand, this $365K machine can sign your name for you

When the prestigious Swiss watchmaker Jaquet Droz began building its Signing Machine in 2014, perhaps it was thinking it might be perfect for famous folks fed up with having to repeatedly pen their autograph for adoring fans.

But a lot has happened in the last four years, with the once sought-after autograph having given way to the celebrity selfie, where the fan sidles up beside their hero and sticks a smartphone in front of their faces for a quick snap.

Whatever the reason, Jaquet Droz has finally unveiled its exquisite Signing Machine, an astonishing pocket-sized contraption that showcases the company’s mechanical clockwork technology by replicating your signature. It does this via a retractable arm that contains a slot for a pen. The Signing Machine is now available to purchase, with the maker incorporating the owners’s signature into the design when building the device.

As with the very finest of old-school timepieces, the Signing Machine needs to be wound up before it can begin the process of signing merchandise, contracts, checks … well, pretty much anything you like. But keep in mind, this handmade machine comprises 585 different parts, so you’ll only get about two signatures from it before it’ll need winding up again. Saying that, if your name is more “Englebert Humperdinck” than “Bono,” your finger and thumb may have to bounce back into action before the machine even makes it to your family name.

The Signing Machine was unveiled at the recent Baselworld watch extravaganza in Switzerland. The box of tricks, which forms part of the brand’s 280th anniversary celebrations, takes inspiration from The Writer and The Draughtsman, two pen-holding automatons created by company founder Pierre Jaquet Droz and his son, Henri-Louis, in the late 18th century to help promote their timepieces. The two human-like machines, along with another called The Musician, can be seen today at the Neuchâtel Museum of Art and History in Switzerland.

According to the watchmaker, the Signing Machine’s movement has been “reworked for fluidity, carrying out perfect, more consistent signatures” than you can get with The Writer.

To prevent some villainous individual from running off with the machine and signing away the owner’s life, the device can only be activated via a code chosen by the owner.

Anyone ordering The Signing Machine will be able to select most of its decorative elements, “keeping with the philosophy of Jaquet Droz to create truly unique objects of art, executed by hand within its workshops,” which is just as well considering the device will set you back around $365,000.

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Cybersecurity is the target of Udacity’s next nanodegree

Just last week, the U.S. and U.K. issued a rare joint warning regarding the possibility of a wave of Russian cyberattacks against not only governments and organizations, but people’s homes and offices, too.

Regardless of whether such attacks are launched with the help of a state or by individuals sitting at home in their pajamas, few will dispute the suggestion that the threat from hackers is growing, with the problem made all the greater by a shortage of experts to bolster online defenses.

It’s against this backdrop that elearning school Udacity is making preparations for its first-ever nanodegree program in cybersecurity.

In a post outlining the upcoming program, Christian Plagemann, Udacity’s vice president of learning, defined cybersecurity as “one of the most pressing issues of our time,” which, he notes, is becoming an increasingly complex issue with so much of our business and personal data now stored in the cloud.

“Fortunately, with the rise of new technologies, modern cloud architectures and software-defined infrastructure, and better collaboration between IT, engineering, and security professionals, we now have the tools and abilities to rise to the challenge,” Plagemann said, adding that Udacity’s new course will help train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

There aren’t a whole lot of details available regarding the course at this stage. Indeed, the page set aside for the new learning program currently displays a call for partners to offer their expertise in helping to design the course, as well as sponsorship assistance to go toward encouraging high-potential talent to join the course. In return, contributing businesses and organizations will have “priority access” to cybersecurity talent from the nanodegree program.

Plagemann points out that with Udacity having already produced around 10,000 qualified A.I. engineers, he has high hopes for the new cybersecurity course.

“Graduates of this program will be uniquely qualified to significantly raise the security standards at their current organizations, or find entirely new career opportunities in this field,” he said.

California-based Udacity was founded back in 2011 to offer online courses, both free and paid, to large numbers of people. The company’s most recent data shows that more than eight million students have enrolled in its free courses and more than 30,000 have taken part in its nanodegree programs, some of which have been created in collaboration with big-name firms such as Google, Amazon, IBM, Nvidia, and Mercedes-Benz.

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Here’s everything we know about the Motorola Moto Z3 and Z3 Play

Moto Z3

Another year, another set of Motorola devices from Lenovo. We’ve already seen the Moto G6 and Moto E5, and we’re now just waiting on the Moto Z3 — the big flagship Moto device. Previous iterations of the Moto Z have done pretty well, offering not only flagship hardware, but also a new ecosystem of modular add-ons that can help make your phone both more functional and more unique.

But exactly what will the new Lenovo Moto Z3 offer? Will it be all that different from previous Moto Z phones? So far it seems as though there will be at least two Moto Z3 phones — the Moto Z3 and the Moto Z3 Play. We may not know everything there is to know about the new phones just yet, but here’s everything we do know.


Since the first major leak from Droid Life, we’ve learned a bit more about what we can expect from the Moto Z3 range. According to an FCC listing, we can expect all versions of the Moto Z3 to be packing a 6.1-inch screen — up from 5.5 inches on both the Moto Z2 Force and Moto Z2 Play.

The result of that larger display is that it covers much more of the front of the phone, and means there’s no home button at the bottom. The resolution of that display will come in at 2560 x 1440, with an aspect ratio of 18:9, similar to a lot of other 2018 flagships. The phone’s design will also feature rounded corners.

moto z3 news play

The standard Moto Z3 will feature an even more modern look, with images showing that the display may curve slightly around the edge. On the display, the images also seem to show a new white software button that we assume is for navigation, while the power button on the side may also function as the phone’s fingerprint sensor, according to Evan Blass.

The back of the phone looks much the same as previous Moto Z phones. That makes sense — Lenovo will want to ensure that the Moto Mods already available will fit on new Moto Z phones. The camera bump is presumably the same size, and shows a dual-sensor camera.

Speaking of Moto Mods, an image of the Moto Z3 shows what looks to be a “5G” mod. What that means remains to be seen, though if we had to speculate, we would assume that the mod includes the radios necessary to connect to 5G networks.

moto z3 news


An FCC listing for the Z3 Play from back in March has shown us a good amount of what to expect from Motorola’s latest phone. The Z3 Play will apparently be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, 4GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. It’s all powered by a 3,000mAh battery, which should give exceptional battery life when combined with the energy-sipping Snapdragon 636 processor. The battery life on the older Moto Z2 Play was impressive, and we expect the same from the new Z3 Play.

We still don’t know much about the specs for the standard Moto Z3, but the Droid Life leak suggests that at least one Moto Z3 is planned with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, to match up with the other high-end flagships of this year.


The camera hasn’t generally been one of the Moto Z range’s strongest points, but with the recent advances in camera technology, we expect that the newest additions will pack some decent enough cameras. The recent FCC filing listed the Moto Z3 Play as having a dual-camera system involving 12-megapixel (MP) and 8MP lenses, which should be able to provide decent enough performance for the mid-range device. There may also be a 5MP selfie camera around the front.

There hasn’t been much released about the standard Moto Z3’s camera yet, but we expect to see a similar dual-camera setup on that too — perhaps with a slight bump in specifications.

Price and release date

We don’t know much about pricing or availability for these phones just yet. Lenovo announced the Moto Z2 Play early in July, with the Moto Z2 Force coming just a few weeks later. With the number of rumors surrounding the Moto Z3 Play having increased in the last month or so, we fully expect that phone to show up first, with the standard Moto Z3 to follow shortly after.

Updated on April 23: We’ve added in the latest rumors, including the specs, camera details, and design for the Moto Z3 Play.

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Here’s absolutely everything we know about the HTC U12 Plus

best htc u11 life cases

HTC has put out great flagship phones in two consecutive years with the HTC 10 and the HTC U11. The Taiwanese company is likely hoping to continue that winning streak with the HTC U12. But what can we expect from the next HTC flagship? Here’s everything we know about the HTC U12 Plus so far.


According to the most recent rumors, HTC will be skipping the U12 entirely and putting out just the HTC U12 Plus. This is apparently for branding reasons, and to stop the HTC U12 being seen as a lesser product compared to the latest Galaxy S9, or iPhone X. It may also being used to justify the high price of the model.

While this is odd news to come out, it does explain why there haven’t been many leaks that specify the HTC U12 — instead, we’ve seen the HTC U12 Plus being leaked almost exclusively. With that in mind, it seems that this has been a change that HTC has been planning for some time.


It seems that buyers will have only one choice to make when buying the HTC U12 Plus, and that’s the choice between 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. The device will also be powered by 6GB of RAM, and — as expected — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. All of this will be powered by battery that’s at least 3,000mAh large — with some sources putting it at a fairly huge 3,420mAh.

We’d suspected the U12 Plus would contain Qualcomm’s latest processor even before a leaked list of phones containing the upcoming powerful Snapdragon 845 was leaked. With many 2018 flagships containing Qualcomm’s latest chip, it would have been odd if HTC released a flagship without it.

Snapdragon 845


We’ve seen some developments in terms of the display we’ll be expecting to see on the HTC U12 Plus. According to the latest leaks, the U12 Plus will come with a 6-inch OLED display — this sort of size is not uncommon these days, and it all but confirms our suspicions that HTC would move towards a bezel-less design, and away from the bezeled look of the HTC U11.

This matches with early renders of the HTC U12 Plus from Evan Blass showed a large screen and dual-lens cameras on both the front and the back of the phone. It also shows a fingerprint sensor on the back.

This seems to be all-but-confirmed now, thanks to a tweet from #iamaniff, a senior member at XDA Developers.

The tweet shows photos of unreleased HTC phones, sporting a clearly “bezel-light” design. The tops and bottoms of the units have been covered up, presumably to aid in stand stability — but also to stop further details of a new phone from leaking. While not confirmed, these were likely test units of the new HTC U12 Plus.

At the moment, it seems likely that HTC will be going with a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, but don’t discount HTC trying to get ahead of the market on under-screen fingerprint sensing. Since the Desire 12 Plus features facial unlocking, we can safely expect the same from the U12 Plus.

The HTC U12 Plus will also apparently come with water-resistance of some degree (possible even IP68), to match with the water-resistance on the latest flagships from Samsung and Apple.

Whether Edge Sense will return also remains to be seen. The “squeeze-to-activate” function was well-received enough on the HTC U11 for Google to request the feature in the Pixel 2 range, and so it seems likely that it would return in the U12 Plus. Of course, HTC may decide to try something new instead.

Launch and release date

Current rumors point to the phone being released in Taiwan alongside the Desire 12 and Desire 12 Plus, in May. Taiwan is the home of HTC, so it was expected that these devices would launch here before the rest of the world, but don’t expect it to take long for HTC’s latest phones to make it to the rest of the world following this release.

The 128GB model is expected to cost 23,990 new Taiwan dollars (around $810), so expect the 64GB model to be in the $600-700 range.


The HTC U11 launched with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, but was upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo in fairly short order. With Google’s I/O conference in May, we expect the HTC U12 will launch with the latest version of Android Oreo, and will be upgraded to the newer version of Android a few months after it’s released by Google. Either way, the U12 will likely have HTC’s Sense UI laid over the top of whatever version of Android it’s running.

Updated on April 23: Added the latest rumors that HTC will skip the U12 in favor of the U12 Plus, and updated the article with the latest leaks and reveals.

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‘Red Alert Online’ is coming to mobile devices, and people are not happy

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The Command and Conquer: Red Alert games are among the most acclaimed real-time strategy titles of all time, combining the series’ fantastic gameplay elements while introducing an alternate-history story any fan of The Man in the High Castle or Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus would love. It has been nearly a decade since a new game in the series has been released, and though that is about to change, fans aren’t happy.

Announced on Monday, April 23 by Chinese publishing giant Tencent, Red Alert Online is bringing the series to both iOS and Android devices. Little is known about the gameplay or narrative thus far, but the announcement trailer shows tanks rolling across the ground and planes flying through the air as we see a branching chart detailing a military’s conquest. Elsewhere, vehicles barrel through a forest as anti-air missiles fire into the sky and a line of industrial equipment runs nearby. At the very end of the trailer, we see a shadowy figure turn around to address the player — it appears to be the psychic Yuri.

Thus far, player reaction to the announcement has been abysmal. In addition to a terrible like-to-dislike ratio on the YouTube video, fans have expressed their distaste for the game on the forum ResetEra.

“I’m honestly surprised it took this long for the corpse of [Command and Conquer and Red Alert] to be dragged out like this,” one user commented.

Others were a little more optimistic, glad that the series wasn’t completely dead, as fewer and fewer big-budget real-time strategy games are available today.

“This certainly isn’t what I wanted out of Command and Conquer, but doing something in the mobile space can give a [glimmer] of hope for something else,” another fan added.

Tencent is no stranger to releasing acclaimed games and franchises on mobile platforms. It recently launched PUBG Mobile, an excellent version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds for iOS and Android. The game was updated with an “arcade mode” option, giving players the chance to play in games with specific rulesets, including “pistols only” or “sniper rifles only.” Unlike the versions of the game available on Xbox One and PC, PUBG Mobile is completely free, as well, making it comparable to Fortnite on mobile.

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European Commission prepares to assess Apple’s acquisition of Shazam

apple acquiring shazam aquires lifestyle 2

News of Apple’s acquisition of music-recognition app Shazam has made waves not only in the music world, but in government as well.

In February, a few months after Apple officially confirmed the deal, the European Commission officially accepted a request from member nations Austria, France, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Spain, and Sweden to assess the proposed acquisition. The examination will seek to determine whether or not the acquisition will “threaten to adversely affect competition,” something American tech companies are often accused of in Europe.

On April 23, the Commission has confirmed in a press release the opening of an “in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple under the EU Merger Regulation.” Noting that it has concerns that the deal would reduce choice for users of music streaming services, the regulatory body is seeking to determine whether the merger will help Apple steer listeners away from other streaming services, establishing a sort of monopoly on the industry in the continent.

“The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. “Our investigation aims to ensure that music fans will continue to enjoy attractive music streaming offers and won’t face less choice as a result of this proposed merger.”

Apple’s purchase of Shazam is the latest acquisition for the world’s largest tech company.  

First launched in 2002, Shazam has grown significantly over the last several years. Once specifically devoted to music recognition, Shazam now accepts audio and visual clips to identify songs, movies, and television shows. The service is the oldest of its kind, and competes with Soundhound and Musixmatch.

“We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple,” Apple spokesperson Tom Neumayr told BuzzFeed News at the time of the acquisition. “Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS. Today, it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms.”

While the acquisition price has not been publicly announced, Apple reportedly paid around $400 million for the company. This estimate falls far below Shazam’s $1 billion valuation from its last funding round in 2015. The discrepancy is likely due to Shazam’s struggle to become profitable.

In 2015, Shazam posted an annual loss of $22 million. The company saw a major turnaround in 2016, with revenues of $54 million, and became profitable for the first time with a pretax loss of $5.3 million. Earlier in 2017, Shazam CEO Rich Riley hinted that the company’s ability to become profitable could make it an attractive acquisition target.

A big part of Shazam’s turnaround is due to its feature diversification. In earlier incarnations, Shazam made money primarily from advertising revenues and linking customers to services like Apple Music. In 2016, the company added a new augmented reality feature, allowing users to scan branded Shazam codes to unlock deals and games on the app.

The new features allow Shazam to build more strategic partnerships and drive engagement with the app. Earlier in 2017, the company partnered with spirits company Beam Suntory, maker of Jim Beam, Sauza, and Hornitos tequila, to create a wildly successful AR marketing campaign. Since its partnership with Beam, Shazam has partnered with a number of other companies and artists to create similar AR campaigns within the app.

Exactly what Apple plans to do with Shazam is unclear. Apple frequently purchases smaller tech companies to scrape the technology for its own products, but Shazam has technically been baked into Siri for quite some time. You can ask Siri to “Shazam this song,” or even simply ask the voice assistant, “What’s this song,” and the feature is powered by Shazam. Apple could remove Shazam’s branding and bake the feature fully into iOS, or create tighter integration with Apple Music. It’s unclear if this spells doom for Shazam’s Android app

The European Commission, however, is concerned that Apple may use Shazam to access “commercially sensitive data about customers of its competitors.” This, the Commission says, could help Apple target competitors’ listeners and encourage them to switch platforms, placing these other music providers at a competitive disadvantage.

The Commission now has 90 working days, or until September 4, 2018, to make a decision. It is not entirely clear what Apple will be required to do should the decision come back not in favor of the tech giant, but we’ll just have to wait and see how this latest courtroom drama plays out. 

Updated on April 23: The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation over the acquisition. 

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Grip Gear’s dolly slides phones, compact cameras around for smooth shots

grip gear movie maker 2 dolly announced slider mode photo
Grip Gear

The company that shrank the video slider is back with a new design — and a mini video dolly. The Grip Gear Movie Maker 2 is an updated video slider designed for smartphones, action cameras, and compact cameras. The Movie Maker’s motor can also be taken off the track using a new dolly add-on that allows the system to drive on smooth surfaces.

Grip Gear says it redesigned the Movie Maker 2 from the ground up with more attention to detail compared to the previous generation. The mini video slider can accommodate cameras up to 1.7 pounds. The slider includes two 12-inch track pieces and can be expanded by purchasing additional tracks.

The motor has nine different speeds, though the set can also be used as a manual slider. The motor can also be removed from the track to create a 360-degree rotating base for shooting panoramas, videos or time-lapses with a steady, circular motion. The motor will last for about two hours on batteries or can be used for long stretches up to 36 hours using a power bank. Like the first generation, the slider can also be used vertically.

Designed for use with compact cameras, Grip Gear says the entire slider system can pack easily away into a backpack and weighs about two pounds.

grip gear movie maker 2 dolly announced the with rx100The updated version comes along with the new dolly add-on, a $30 accessory that uses the motor from the slider as a wheeled video dolly. The mini tabletop dolly will carry the camera over smooth smooth surfaces using a wheeled add-on.

“We were very proud of the Generation 1 Movie Maker, after we rebuilt the entire unit from scratch for the second generation with more attention to detail and quality we are very proud to launch the Movie Maker 2 and the Micro Dolly,” Dean Tzembelicos, co-founder of Grip Gear, said in a statement.

The second generation enhances the original Movie Maker — we thought the original was a fun, compact slider although motor noise was audible and there was a slight bounce where the tracks connected. After launching at the National Association of Broadcasters Show earlier this month, the Movie Maker 2 and the dolly accessory is now available on Amazon.

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Florida police attempt to use dead man’s fingerprint to unlock his phone

Detectives in Largo, Florida attempted to use the fingerprints of a man killed in an officer-involved shooting in March to unlock his phone, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The man, Linus Phillip, was pulled over by Largo police for illegally tinted windows. The Tampa Bay Times reports officers Matthew Steiner and Prentice Ables noticed the smell of marijuana in Phillip’s car and attempted to detain him. During the arrest, Phillip managed to jump into the driver’s seat and attempted to drive away, dragging Steiner who was still partially in the vehicle. Steiner withdrew his weapon and fired in self-defense according to the Largo Police Department. Phillip was later pronounced dead at Largo Medical Center.

After his body was released from state custody, Phillip’s body was sent to Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home in Clearwater. Shortly after his body was released, two detectives went to the funeral home and unsuccessfully attempted to unlock Phillip’s phone by holding fingers from the corpse to the fingerprint sensor.

Lieutenant Randall Chaney of the Largo Police Department told the Tampa Bay Times that detectives were trying to access the phone to acquire evidence for two investigations: One involving Phillip’s shooting and one for separate drug charges. He also said that while,”We can’t remember having unlocked a phone in that fashion, either at the scene, the Medical Examiner’s office, or the funeral home,” the detectives did not feel they needed a warrant as the deceased have no right to privacy.

Although the actions of the Largo Police Department raises plenty of ethical questions, the legal implications are much more straightforward. A number of legal experts agree that privacy protections do not cover the deceased. Further, in 2014 a Virginia Circuit Court ruled using fingerprint authentication on your smartphone negates your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in Commonwealth of Virginia v. Baust.

While you may waive your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by using biometric factors like facial or fingerprint recognition to unlock your phone, the same cannot be said for passcodes. Since passcodes don’t have a physical aspect, the Virginia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled an individual cannot be compelled to provide it in an investigation. However, police departments can use devices such as GrayKey to brute force their way into your device.

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The best Android podcast apps for your listening pleasure

Radio is a dying format — err, at least in the traditional manner. These days, many of us prefer to listen to podcasts or other streaming media that allow us to listen at our own leisure. Thankfully, there are thousands upon thousands of amazing podcasts available on-demand. Below are a few of our favorite podcast apps for Android that allow you to quickly access The Daily and NPR’s robust lineup wherever you might roam.

Pocket Casts ($4)


One of the most popular podcast apps is Pocket Casts, which sets itself apart with a modern interface that looks as great as it functions. The app supports both light and dark themes, and offers settings that let you control your download preferences — a welcome feature if you don’t have unlimited data. You can also build a playback podcast, trim the silences between podcasts, and carry out a host of other actions.

Another neat feature in Pocket Casts is that you can sign in using any Android device, which helps you access your podcasts quickly if you use multiple devices. The developers behind the app also routinely release bug fixes and updates, so you can expect more great features as time goes on. At $4, the price is steep, but worth it if you love podcasts.

Download now from:

Google Play


best podcast apps for android radiopublic

RadioPublic is a relative newcomer to the Podcasting world, but it has some pretty impressive credentials; RadioPublic’s founding partner is the nonprofit Public Radio Exchange. The team at RadioPublic wanted to create a podcast app that helps listeners discover and connect with content creators. While the story behind the app is pretty impressive on its own, it’s also an excellent option for listening to your favorite podcasts.

Download now from:

Google Play


best podcast apps for android castbox

Castbox is another fairly new podcast app that makes finding your favorite content simple. With Castbox, you can listen to more than 50 million different podcasts from around the world. In addition to providing a huge assortment of content, Castbox offers a clean and easy to use interface.

Download now from:

Google Play

Podcast Addict


Podcast Addict has a pretty nice feature set, especially for a free app. It offers support for Sonos speakers, so if you like to listen to podcasts around the house, this may be the perfect app for you. Video podcasts are also supported on Podcast Addict.

The trade-off for these features is that the interface is a little cluttered and outdated. You’ll still be able to tweak download preferences and other settings, however, and the app offers support for internet radio stations, allowing you to listen to awesome stations like KEXP and Radio Free Brooklyn, no matter where you live.

Download now from:

Google Play



SoundCloud has become quite the podcast app over the past few years, and many content creators now choose to upload their podcasts directly to SoundCloud in addition to other platforms. The main downside is that it will take some time for you to find all the podcasts you want to listen to, but once you do, everything will work nicely and smoothly. The app features a handsome interface, too, and allows you tom designate “favorite” tracks you’d like to listen to at a later time.

SoundCloud is largely about streaming rather than downloading, however, so if you’re looking for something that you can use offline, there might be a better option on the app market.

Download now from:

Google Play


As the most popular streaming music service, it’s surprising it took Spotify so long to jump on the podcast bandwagon. Spotify has a beautiful user interface that is incredibly simple to use. With apps for both Windows and Mac, it’s also easy to continue listening to your podcast at work. If you like obscure podcasts, however, Spotify may not be the best option. Spotify carefully curates the podcasts on its platform, meaning you may not be able to find less popular ones.

Download now from:

Google Play Store

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Unstoppable exploit in Nintendo Switch opens door to homebrew and piracy

The Nintendo Switch may soon be a haven for hackers, but not the kind that want your data — the kind that want to run SNES emulators and Linux on their handheld gaming consoles. A flaw in an Nvidia chip used by the Switch, detailed today, lets power users inject code into the system and modify it however they choose.

The exploit, known as Fusée Gelée, was first hinted at by developer Kate Temkin a few months ago. She and others at ReSwitched worked to prove and document the exploit, sending it to Nvidia and Nintendo, among others.

Although responsible disclosure is to be applauded, it won’t make much difference here: this flaw isn’t the kind that can be fixed with a patch. Millions of Switches are vulnerable, permanently, to what amounts to a total jailbreak; only new ones with code tweaked at the factory will be immune.

That’s because the flaw is baked into the read-only memory of the Nvidia Tegra X1 used in the Switch and a few other devices. It’s in the “Boot and Power Management Processor” to be specific, where a misformed packet sent during a routine USB device status check allows the connected device to send up to 64 kibibytes (65,535 bytes) of extra data that will be executed without question. You need to get into recovery mode first, but that’s easy.

As you can imagine, getting arbitrary code to run on a device that deep in its processes is a huge, huge vulnerability. Fortunately it’s only available to someone with direct, physical access to the Switch. But that in itself makes it an extremely powerful tool for anyone who wants to modify their own console.

Modding consoles is done for many reasons, and indeed piracy is among them. But people also want to do things Nintendo won’t let them, like back up their saved games, run custom software like emulators, or extend the capabilities of the OS beyond the meager features the company has provided.

Temkin and her colleagues had planned to release the vulnerability publicly on June 15 or when someone releases the vulnerability independent of them — whichever came first. It turned out to be the latter, which apparently came as a surprise to no one in the community. The X1 exploit seems to have been something of an open secret.

The exploit was released anonymously by some hacker and Temkin accordingly published the team’s documentation of it on GitHub. If that’s too technical, there’s also some more plain-language chatter about the flaw in a FAQ posted earlier this month. I’ve asked Temkin for a few more details.

In addition to Temkin, failOverflow announced a small device that will short a pin in the USB connector and put the device into recovery mode, prepping it for exploitation. And Team-Xecuter was advertising a similar hardware attack months ago.

The answer to the most obvious question is no, you can’t just fire this up and start playing Wave Race 64 (or a pirated Zelda) on your Switch 15 minutes from now. The exploit still requires technical ability to implement, though as with many other hacks of this type, someone will likely graft it to a nice GUI that guides ordinary users through the process. (It certainly happened with the NES and SNES Classic Editions.)

Although the exploit can’t be patched away with a software update, Nintendo isn’t powerless. It’s likely that a modified Switch would be barred from the company’s online services (such as they are) and possibly the user’s account as well. So although the hacking process is, compared with the soldering required for modchips of decades past, low on risk, it isn’t a golden ticket.

That said, Fusée Gelée will almost certainly open the floodgates for developers and hackers who care little for Nintendo’s official ecosystem and would rather see what they can get this great piece of hardware to do on their own.

I’ve asked Nintendo and Nvidia for comment and will update when I hear back.