Update for iOS and Macs negates text bomb that crashed devices


Last week we reported a major bug in Apple operating systems that would cause them to crash from mere exposure to either of two specific Unicode symbols. Today Apple fixes this major text-handling issue with iOS version 11.2.6 and macOS version 10.13.3, both now available for download.

The issue, discovered by Aloha Browser in the course of normal development, has to do with poor handling of certain non-English characters. We replicated the behavior, basically an immediate hard crash, in a variety of apps on both iOS and macOS. The vulnerability is listed on MITRE under CVE-2018-4124. If you were curious.

Apple was informed of the bug and told TechCrunch last week that a fix was forthcoming — in fact, it was already fixed in a beta. But the production version patches just dropped in the last few minutes (iOS; macOS). Apple calls the magical characters a “maliciously crafted string” that led to “heap corruption.” It seems that macOS versions before 10.13.3 aren’t affected, so if you’re running an older OS, no worries.

The iOS patch also fixes “an issue where some third-party apps could fail to connect to external accessories,” which is welcome but unrelated to the text bomb.

You should be able to download both updates right now, and you should, or you’ll probably get pranked in the near future.

This autonomous 3D scanner figures out where it needs to look


If you need to make a 3D model of an object, there are plenty of ways to do so, but most of them are only automated to the extent that they know how to spin in circles around that object and put together a mesh. This new system from Fraunhofer does it more intelligently, getting a basic idea of the object to be scanned and planning out what motions will let it do so efficiently and comprehensively.

It takes what can be a time-consuming step out of the process in which a scan is complete and the user has to inspect it, find where it falls short (an overhanging part occluding another, for instance, or an area of greater complexity that requires closer scrutiny) and customize a new scan to make up for these lacks. Alternatively, the scanner might already have to have a 3D model loaded in order to recognize what it’s looking at and know where to focus.

Fraunhofer’s project, led by Pedro Santos at the Institute for Computer Graphics Research, aims to get it right the first time by having the system evaluate its own imagery as it goes and plan its next move.

“The special thing about our system is that it scans components autonomously and in real time,” he said in a news release. It’s able to “measure any component, irrespective of its design — and you don’t have to teach it.”

This could help in creating one-off duplicates of parts the system has never seen before, like a custom-made lamp or container, or a replacement for a vintage car’s door or engine.

If you happen to be in Hanover in April, drop by Hannover Messe and try it out for yourself.

Featured Image: Fraunhofer

Foxconn is working with RED to make cheaper and smaller 8K cameras


Foxconn, AKA Hon Hai Precision Industry, AKA the company that made your iPhone, is working with digital cinema pioneer RED to create affordable 8K cameras, the company announced. Chairman Terry Gou told reporters in Taipei, the Nikkei’s among them, that the goal is to reduce both the price and the size of such camera systems by two-thirds.

Considering you can shoot 4K on the tiny sensor of a mobile phone these days, it’s not actually much of a surprise that small-factor 8K is a focus for a major hardware manufacturer. Pretty soon it’ll be a standard feature on flagship phones.

Of course, Gou said nothing to suggest that the image quality would be worth it. A sensor that records at that resolution may be an integral part of an 8K system, but there’s much more to it than that. For one thing, to capture a decent image, you’ll need some serious glass in front of it — lenses for consumer-level products simply aren’t made with the kind of precision necessary for that level of detail. Cinema glass is five figures to start.

Honestly that’s just the start. In addition to the glass, you’ll need a very fast, effective image processor and a whole lot of storage — even compressed, an 8K video may be 10 to 20 times larger than a 1080p one. Then you’ll need to color and edit… and after all that, most people will be unable to tell the difference between it and normal HD.

But digital cinema is more than people taking videos of their friends doing karaoke. More and cheaper cameras shooting reasonably good footage at 8K is great news for directors who want multiple angles, VFX artists who always want more pixels, operators whose backs are breaking from carrying heavy 8K gear and producers who need to keep costs low. Sometimes two decent cameras are better than one great one (but not always).

RED has straddled that line, with gear generally too expensive for people who aren’t actually filmmakers (think $15-30,000), but often considerably cheaper than competition from the likes of Arri and Panavision (think higher). Apparently the two are in talks to create a joint venture or partnership to produce these theoretical cameras, as part of an effort by Foxconn to differentiate its holdings a bit.

I’ve contacted RED for more info and will update this post if I hear back.

Featured Image: RED

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. flamethrower is real, $500 and up for pre-order


So that flamethrower that Elon Musk teased The Boring Company would start selling after it ran out of its 50,000 hats? Yeah, it’s real – and you can pre-order one now if you want need a ridiculous way to spend $500.

Musk revealed the flamethrower on Saturday, after some digging tipped its existence late last week. The Boring Company Flamethrower is functional, too, as you can see from this Instagram featuring some Boring Co. staff, presumably well safety trained, firing off two of the things IRL.

Marketing copy for the flamethrower includes a “guarantee” that it will “liven up any party,” and a proclamation that it’s “world’s safest flamethrower,” in case you were concerned (you probably are not, if you’re ordering a flamethrower on the internet). The $500 fee doesn’t include taxes and shipping, which are added at checkout, and the initial shipments will come out in spring.

There’s also a disclaimer about international shipping incurring extra fees (and maybe seizure at the border?) plus, buyers will be required to review and accept a terms and conditions document prior to getting their flamethrower in the mail.

The Boring Co. also sells a fire extinguisher, because they know how to make an upsell with specific relevance, and it’s $30, which they fully admit is more than you’d pay elsewhere. But it has a sticker. There’s not even a picture, so it probably doesn’t look all that impressive.

Musk’s Boring Company is literally a company focused on tunnel boring, but it seems like it’ll be a while before it has revenue or significant results (even if it’s already digging test tunnels). To fund the project until then, selling weird stuff with the company’s logo to Muskheads everywhere seems like a decent plan. Even if it contributes negatively to the sum total of working flamethrowers existing in the world.

Sony CES 2018 live blog


For Sony, CES is a show of sheer, brute force. It’s all about a big, flashy showing from a consumer electronics giant. And unlike big competitors like Samsung and LG, Sony hasn’t spent much of the past few weeks showing its hand, so there’s going to be plenty of unknown here.

That said, if past years are any indication (as they nearly always are), this is going to be a big show for TV and audio offerings. Given the way pretty much every other announcement has gone this year, it seems like a safe bet that we’ll see plenty of announcements tied to voice-based AI like Google Assistant.

And, of course, this is Sony we’re talking about, so expect lots of general weirdness around the edges.

The Sony CES 2018 live blog starts at 5:00pm PST.

Devin Coldewey January 8, 20184:42 pm

I’ll look into the tech behind the competing TV tech once the show gets started and I can get at the folks who know such things.

Devin Coldewey January 8, 20184:40 pm

LG went hard on OLED this morning (very early this morning). Then Samsung just trashed OLED in favor of Micro LED. What’s Sony’s play?

Devin Coldewey January 8, 20184:39 pm
Devin Coldewey January 8, 20184:37 pm

Brian Heater January 8, 20184:37 pm

Xperia handsets are always a possibility at these things, as well. The company company’s certainly announced those at past CESes, though with MWC coming up in a little of a month, it may just opt to keep its powder dry until then. 

Lucas Matney January 8, 20184:36 pm

To further set the stage, “Waste a Moment” by Kings of Leon is playin

Brian Heater January 8, 20184:36 pm

As mentioned above, Sony’s one of the few big names here that didn’t spill the beans ahead of the event. That said, it seems safe to assume we’ll getting the usual spread at the show: lots of TV, home hifi and personal audio news. 

Devin Coldewey January 8, 20184:35 pm

shout out to the guy blinking in the front row

Devin Coldewey January 8, 20184:35 pm

Brian Heater January 8, 20184:34 pm

It’s the usual Sony CES aesthetic, which is to say bright, even blindingly white shag carpeting and walls. 

Brian Heater January 8, 20184:33 pm

And we’re in. Like always, Sony’s converted its convention center booth into a press conference space.