VR & 360° at The Photography Show

The Photography Show at the NEC Birmingham is just over a month away now, and the all-new VR & 360° Theatre will play host to a series of expert talks and hands-on demonstrations, offering visitors fascinating insights into some of the most exciting new visual technology.

Join photo and video artist Mat Collishaw and photographic historian Pete James to hear about their latest project, Thresholds – an opportunity to delve into the re-creation of one of the UK’s first photographic exhibitions, which aptly took place in Birmingham in 1839.

James says: “We are now on the verge of another revolution in our perception of the world as viewed through images, that of virtual reality: a total immersion with the image.”

From workflow to product photography

From exploring the past to documenting the future, Olympus Visionary John Nasarri will take to the stage to share his pioneering 360° interactive wedding service – photography accompanied by ambient sound landscapes, video and photo slideshows, culminating in a spectacular sensory experience.

With new imaging trends comes the need for new kit, and digital artist and videographer Nick Driftwood will offer advice on the camera technology needed to film and photograph a 360° field of view effectively in the new world of immersive technology.

Drone and UAV specialists Aerial Motion Pictures will showcase the world of interactive 360° tours with a view from above The Photography Show, and will discuss the value this can bring to businesses, and how interactive images can be taken to the next level.

There will also be a host of other speakers, covering everything from how to easily incorporate 360° tech into your workflow to 360° product photography made simple. To see the full lineup of experts appearing on stage in the VR and 360° Theatre, click here .

The Photography Show runs from March 18-21. To book your tickets and find out more visit The Photography Show

Top Tech Conferences: The Ultimate B2B Tech Events Guide 2017

Love it or loathe it, events and conferences are often where wheelers and dealers in the world of technology meet to decide on the future of the industry.

Ironically, technology itself has accelerate the demise of some massive tech events (like Comdex) but the remaining ones are more focused, alive and bustling than ever before.

Techradar Pro and ITProPortal have joined forces with the tech B2B PR industry to curate a list of national and international technology events, conferences and happenings, focusing on B2B.

Featured:  Mobile World Congress 2017

MWC is a B2B event for anyone and everyone in mobile and those in adjacent industries who want to discover how mobile technology can benefit their industries. In short, anyone in business will find relevant learning and networking opportunities to make the trip to Barcelona worthwhile.

QuickBooks Connect London

March 6th-7th 2017, London, UK

Bring your future into focus at QuickBooks Connect. Learn from influential advisors, network with peers, and immerse yourself in interactive workshops — all designed to put you on the fast track to growth.

Citrix Summit

January 8-10 2018, Anaheim, USA

Citrix Summit is the essential business development conference for partners. Partners who attend gain firsthand insight into Citrix strategy for digital business transformation through intensive technical, sales and business training that delivers the tools to strengthen relationships, take advantage of market opportunities and pave the way for new deals.

MVNOs Networking Congress 2017

November 2017, London, UK

The 2016’s edition of the event focused on the challenges and opportunities for the European market. It attracted the full spectrum of MVNOs in Europe with over 50% of the audience made up from first time attendees.

Key topics included the regulatory landscape in Europe, the challenges and opportunities from network consolidation, winning in saturated markets, monetizing emerging technologies as well as many more.

Smart Home Summit 2017

November 2017, Silicon Valley, USA

Smart Home Summit brings together leading decision makers looking to take the smart home from a niche prospect for the tech savvy consumer into a mass market reality through collaboration and partnerships. Download the brochure to find out more about who will attend, topics being covered, speakers and other features taking place.

LTE Voice Summit 2017

October 2017, London, UK

Virtualization is the biggest industry game-changer of the past 20+ years, and operators are debating and best-practice sharing in order to ascertain the benefits it will bring their networks and services.Voice virtualization poses numerous complex decisions and there is no clear route as yet…top experts spoke at the Voice Virtualization Summit, allowing attendees to ascertain how their business will proceed in this brave new virtualized era for the industry.

IP Expo Europe 2017

October 4th-5th, London, UK

It’s the ONLY enterprise IT event that brings everything together under one roof. All the key players. All the information across the entire technology stack. All the key product launches, demos, solutions and educational seminars.

CeBIT 2018

March 20th-24th, Hannover, Germany

CeBIT is THE platform for experts and top decision-makers from all areas of digital business along the B2B value chain. The global market is present here – make sure you are, too! CeBIT is one of the world’s most important investment platforms for digital business processes. No other place can boast as many IT decision-makers and managers at the same time – or with such a strong focus on SMEs.

Infosecurity 2017

June 6th-8th, London, UK

Infosecurity Europe is the region’s number one information security event featuring Europe’s largest and most comprehensive conference program and over 360 exhibitors showcasing the most relevant information security solutions and products to 13,500 visitors.

Google Assistant can now share personal info in Allo, but only if you let it

One of the coolest features of Allo is the ability to bring Google Assistant into any conversation. Just type @google and you can ask Assistant questions like “What’s my schedule like today” or “Show me the latest Cars 3 trailer,” and it will happily oblige, saving you the trouble of opening Chrome or Calendar and searching yourself.google assistant allo

Now Google is making it easier to share that personal information with other people. First spotted by Android Police, the new feature gives you an option to send otherwise private data to your friends in an instant, but only if you allow it.

For example, when you’re in a chat and you ask Assistant something like, “What are my upcoming flights,” or “Show me my upcoming appointments,” it will now ask you if you’d like to share that information with the other people in your group. Tap Don’t Share and it will send a message saying, “Can’t share this right now.” Tap Share Now, however, and it will display the information it has retrieved on your phone for all to see.

Unfortunately, you can’t choose a contact to share it with when in a one-on-one conversation with Assistant, nor can you keep your personal queries completely hidden, but the ability to share information like this could prove to be useful in certain situations. The server-side feature isn’t tied to a specific Play Store update, though Android Police surmises that you likely need version 6.0 of Allo, which began rolling out last week.

While limited to just calendar entries, travel information, and contacts, the new sharing option has pretty big potential. Assistant has been frustratingly limited inside Allo—where it ought to excel in a natural conversational format—and this new feature could signal a new collaborative direction for Allo. However, without proper SMS integration, Allo is likely to remain a niche app, no matter how smart Assistant gets.

This story, “Google Assistant can now share personal info in Allo, but only if you let it” was originally published by Greenbot.

Researchers trick ‘CEO’ email cammer into giving up identity

Businesses targeted in email scams don’t always have to play the victim. They can actually fight back.ceo email scam spoof

Researchers at Dell SecureWorks have documented how they identified a suspected email scammer from Nigeria, by essentially playing along with the scheme to fool the attacker into revealing his true whereabouts.

Anyone can use these tips, said Joe Stewart, director of malware research at SecureWorks. “We’re letting them (the scammers) give us all the information about themselves,” he said.

The email scheme SecureWorks dealt with involved a fraudster impersonating a CEO in what’s called a business email spoofing attack. The goal is often to trick a victim into wiring funds to the scammer’s bank account.

Although a business can train its employees to learn how to spot these suspicious emails, that won’t necessarily stop the attack, especially since it’s easy for anyone to continually bombard a victim with emails, SecureWorks said.

Instead, a business’ IT security staff can actually fight back and disrupt the scammer’s operations. They can do this, by first replying to an email scam and pretending to act like a gullible victim.

This was how SecureWorks managed to eventually identify an email scammer from Nigeria that targeted a U.S. technology company back in November. SecureWorks was brought in to investigate and decided to fool the fraudster into thinking his scheme had worked.

The scammer had tried to trick the U.S. technology firm into wiring funds to a bank account by impersonating its CEO. SecureWorks pretended to comply, which caused the scammer to turn greedy.

“He started asking for $18,000,” said James Bettke, a SecureWorks researcher. “And then after that, he said, ‘Oh that’s a typo. It’s a $118,000.’”

screen shot 2017 02 14 at 10.23.39 pmSecureWorks
One of the emails sent by the scammer.

To try and identify the scammer, SecureWorks decided to email back a PDF-based receipt, indicating the wire transfer had been complete. In reality, the receipt was a decoy that when clicked on, sent off the recipient’s IP address and other web browser information.

The researchers found that their scammer was using an internet service provider in Lagos, Nigeria and was viewing the receipt on an iPhone.

SecureWorks continued to play a gullible victim, by claiming the wire transfer had failed. That forced the scammer to hand over details to other bank accounts. The researchers then took that information and notified the responsible bank that these accounts were being used for fraud, shutting them down.

To find out more about the scammer, the researchers sent another decoy receipt of a wire transfer that forced the recipient to enter a legitimate mobile phone number to view the form.

The scammer fell for the ruse. Using Facebook, the researchers found that the entered phone number was tied to a user named “Seun,” which the researchers believe is a real account.

“We know who he is,” Stewart said. “We could report him to the EFCC (The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria). But he didn’t get away with any money.”

So instead, SecureWorks is publicizing information about the fraudster’s scams, including the email addresses he used.

FreeSync gets luxurious with Acer’s 37.5-inch curved, ultrawide gaming monitor

Even though Nvidia explicitly pitches its G-Sync monitors as premium accessories, the GeForce crew doesn’t hold an iron grip over luxurious variable refresh rate displays. This week, Acer revealed a swanky ultrawide display with AMD FreeSync support and an astoundingly bad name.acer xr382cqk monitor

The Acer XR382CQK’s 37.5-inch screen boasts a 3440×1600-pixel resolution and a gentle 2,300R curve. Combine those with the stutter-killing FreeSync tech and a 21:9 aspect ratio and you’re looking at a screen that screams “immersion” on paper. The display’s rocking a 5 millisecond response time—not great, but definitely not bad—and 75Hz refresh speeds that you’ll probably have trouble hitting in-game unless you’ve got one hell of a rig. That resolution’s no joke.

Somewhat surprisingly, the XR382CQK isn’t part of Acer’s dedicated Predator gaming lineup. Acer probably did that for design flexibility; while Predator gear features aggressive black and red aesthetics, the slim and silver XR382CQK utilizes a “ZeroFrame” design with smaller bezels to (you guessed it) increase immersion even more.

Acer’s premium FreeSync monitor also supports picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes that let you watch input from two sources simultaneously, a nifty touch that takes advantage of the XR382CQK’s size.

acer xr382cqk monitor 2

Other features include preset “GameView” display profiles, wide 178-degree viewing angles, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, USB-C, and a four-port USB 3.0 hub for connecting your gaming accessories. The display also packs a pair of 7 watt speakers bolstered by DTS Sound, but if you’re already dropping $1,300 on a gaming monitor, you’d be much better off investing in a nice speaker system or pair of headphones to go with it.

: While FreeSync’s openness has proven to be a major win for AMD in modestly priced monitors, we’re starting to see the high-end fill out, too. At CES 2017 Samsung announced several ultrawide, curved FreeSync monitors of its own, the highlight being the CF791, which looks downright stunning in real life.

Samsung’s 34-inch, 3440×1400 display is a wee bit smaller than Acer’s XR382CQK, but it compensates for that with the inclusion of cutting-edge Quantum Dot technology, a more aggressive 1,500R curvature, and a much lower price tag of $950. Decisions, decisions.

New Chrome beta feature looks to make web apps as powerful as native ones

Chrome users have been able to add homescreen shortcuts for their favorite websites for years, letting you quickly jump to a site without having to navigate the bookmarks folder, but they’ve always been just that: fancy links. With the latest Chrome beta, Google wants them to be something far greater.chrome android

Called Progressive Web Apps, they promise to offer the best of both worlds, allowing users to experience the power of a Google Play Store app without needing to go through a download or update process. “It loads quickly, even on flaky networks, sends relevant push notifications, has an icon on the home screen, and loads as a top-level, full screen experience,” Google says.

The concept has been around since 2015, but it only just making it available in the beta version of Chrome for Android. How it works is simple: When you visit a Progressive Web App, you’ll be able to save it your homescreen like before (via a new Add Shortcut option), except now it won’t just be a fancy link. It will appear in your app drawer alongside everything else you’ve downloaded from the Play Store, and it will function just like a native app would, with the same settings, notifications, and subscriptions that you would find in a Play Store app.

progressive web apps

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Google

Progressive Web Apps act just like native apps, except you add them to your phone through Chrome.

You’re not even technically running them in Chrome. Once installed, Progressive Web Apps launch independently of the browser and work even when there isn’t an Internet connection. Updates are done silently in the background, they scale to any screen, and most importantly, they feel like a native app. As Google writes in a blog post:

“This new Add to Home screen feature is one more step in our journey to empower developers to build the best possible experience for their users, and we are committed to ensuring the same mechanisms for installing Progressive Web Apps are available to all browsers on Android.”

If you want to test them out, you can download Chrome Canary, Google’s beta version of Chrome, in the Play Store. Then, navigate to chrome://flags, find the #enable-improved-a2hs experiement, and tap the Enable button. (Thanks for the tip, Android Police!) Then, when you visit one of Progressive Web Apps, you’ll be able to add it to your phone and play around with it. There aren’t too many sites available right now, but you will find a decent smattering of popular apps like Polymail, Flipboard, and the Financial Times.

progressive web apps

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Once you add it to your app drawer, the Progressive Web App (right) is indistinguishable from a native app.

 Apps on Android are changing. A couple weeks ago, Google began testing its new Instant Apps that let users interact with aps without needing to download them in the Play Store, but Progressive Web Apps takes that concept one step further. Not only do they eliminate the Play Store middleman altogether, they let developers build powerful apps right in Chrome and deliver them quickly without the hassle of downloads and updates, or concern about compatibility. Native apps have served us well (and likely will for years to comes), but Google is already thinking beyond the present implementation of apps to a future where everything is instant and connected.

This story, “New Chrome beta feature looks to make web apps as powerful as native ones” was originally published by Greenbot.

Plex’s new Amazon Echo support lets you control your home theater with your voice

Plex is getting into the home automation game. The popular media management software just announced it now has an Alexa skill, as well as smart home features that turns off the lights or post a message in Slack based on an action you take with Plex.plexserver

The new Alexa skill is available now in the US and UK Alexa stores. Once you’ve activated the Plex skill, you can ask your Alexa to play content from your local media library on demand, such as a movie or a television episode from a specific season. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? You can also ask Alexa and Plex (Plexa?) to suggest music or something to watch.

Plex doesn’t specifically say this, but it appears the Alexa skill is open to all users, not just Plex Pass subscribers.

That said, the company is also adding an interesting new feature for Plex Pass users called Webhooks. Basically, what this means is that when you take an action with Plex, a secondary action can be carried out by a computer.

If you start a movie in Plex, for example, you could use Plex’s Webhooks feature to automatically dim the living room lights. Right now, Plex is hoping to get developers to start adding Webhooks that integrate with Plex.

There are three examples on Github that you can try out right now, including desktop notifications for music playback, automated Slack posts when you rate something in Plex, and a smart light integration with the Wink Hub.

These integrations are useful, but they’ll require some knowledge of JavaScript meaning it’s probably out of the grasp of most users, and that may not change. Plex’s technical documentation for Webhooks says they are a “fairly advanced feature and won’t commonly be used by an ‘average’ user.” Plex Pass Pro customers may be able to get an installer to come to their home and set Webhooks up, however.

This story, “Plex’s new Amazon Echo support lets you control your home theater with your voice” was originally published by TechHive.

LG’s fixing its 5K monitor to work near Wi-Fi routers

LG has ended its silence on the router proximity problems for its 5K Mac monitor that rolled out in late 2016. The company recently told Recode that 5K monitors manufactured after February 2017 would add extra shielding to prevent them from freaking out near Wi-Fi routers.ultrafine5k

As for existing monitors, it appears those can also be retrofitted against signal interference, as well. The report didn’t mention how existing monitor owners can have their displays repaired if necessary. LG’s 5K monitor comes with a one year warranty that covers labor and parts, so it may be as simple as submitting a repair request on LG’s site. We’ve reached out to the company for clarification.

New monitors with the extra shielding will presumably be able to operate near a router without issue. Soon after the monitor became available, users started complaining that their fancy new displays would be unusable next to a router. The problems start when the monitor is within 6.5 feet of a router.

LG’s UltraFine monitor features a 27-inch display with 5120-by-2880 resolution, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and three USB 3.1 ports. It also has a built-in camera, stereo speakers, and is currently priced at $974.

The extra shielding is good news for anyone who was hoping to pick up LG’s stunning monitor. You might still want to wait for the updated models to roll out before buying one, however, since the fix requires physical alteration. It’s not clear how long the retrofitting will take, or if the models currently available from Apple’s online store are already fixed. We’re asking LG about all of those details, but in the meantime patience is probably a virtue in this case.

This story, “LG’s fixing its 5K monitor to work near Wi-Fi routers” was originally published by Macworld.

Zero-day Windows file-sharing flaw can crash systems, maybe worse

The implementation of the SMB network file sharing protocol in Windows has a serious vulnerability that could allow hackers to, at the very least, remotely crash systems.windows 10 bsod

The unpatched vulnerability was publicly disclosed Thursday by an independent security researcher named Laurent Gaffié, who claims that Microsoft has delayed releasing a patch for the flaw for the past three months.

Gaffié, who is known on Twitter as PythonResponder, published a proof-of-concept exploit for the vulnerability on GitHub, triggering an advisory from the CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Microsoft Windows contains a memory corruption bug in the handling of SMB traffic, which may allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to cause a denial of service or potentially execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system,” CERT/CC said in the advisory.

Microsoft’s implementation of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol is used by Windows computers to share files and printers over a network and also handles authentication to those shared resources.

The vulnerability affects Microsoft SMB version 3, the most recent version of the protocol. CERT/CC has confirmed that the exploit can be used to crash fully patched versions of Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.

An attacker can exploit the vulnerability by tricking a Windows system to connect to a malicious SMB server which would then send specially crafted responses. There are a number of techniques to force such SMB connections and some require little or no user interaction, CERT/CC warned.

The good news is that there are no confirmed reports of successful arbitrary code execution through this vulnerability yet. However, if this is a memory corruption issue as described by CERT/CC, code execution might be a possibility.

“The crashes we’ve observed so far do not manifest in a manner that suggests straight-forward code execution, but that may change, though, as we have time to analyze it more in-depth,” said Carsten Eiram, the chief research officer at vulnerability intelligence firm Risk Based Security, via email. “This is only the initial stage of the analysis.”

Carsten’s company also confirmed the crash on a fully patched Windows 10 system, but has yet to establish if this is just a NULL pointer dereference crash or the result of a deeper issue that could have a more severe impact. Just to be on the safe side, the company is following CERT/CC’s lede in treating this as a potential code execution flaw. CERT/CC scored this vulnerability’s impact with 10, the maximum in the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).

Gaffié said on Twitter that Microsoft plans to patch this issue during its next “Patch Tuesday,” which this month will fall on February 14—the second Tuesday of the month. However, it’s possible that Microsoft could break out of its regular patch cycle if the vulnerability is indeed critical and starts to be exploited in the wild.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both CERT/CC and Eiram advise network administrators to block outbound SMB connections—TCP ports 139 and 445 along with UDP ports 137 and 138—from local networks to the Internet. This won’t completely eliminate the threat, but will isolate it to local networks.

Gears of War 4 adds multiplayer crossplay for Windows 10, Xbox One gamers

Microsoft’s ambitious Play Anywhere initiative, which lets PC and Xbox gamers game together, made unexpected strides on Friday, when it was announced that Gears of War 4’s crossplay will expand beyond cooperative mode to include multiplayer competition. gears of war 4

The feature, however, will be limited to Social Quickplay, rather than competitive ranked matches, Microsoft said. So your dreams of a “Super Bowl” of GoW play between the best PC and Xbox players will have to wait.

Interestingly, when Microsoft tested GoW4’s expanded crossplay features at the end of 2016, participation heavily favored the Xbox One. Of the 115,000 players that took part in the test weekend, there was a whopping 91-9 percentage split between the Xbox One and the Windows 10 platform. Over 750,000 matches were played.

To the question of which platform came out on top, Microsoft said the two sides were pretty even: Windows 10 and Xbox players had “closely matched results” when comparing their average kills and deaths, score, and kills per match. Nevertheless, Microsoft said the game’s Core and Competitive rankings will remain separated: Xbox players will only play Windows players, for example, to maintain parity.

“When we looked at the extensive data we received, thanks to the incredible participation from our community, there was a clear message—it works,” the company said in a blog post.

When played with a decent community of polite, competitive opponents, multiplayer gaming can be awesome. Crossplay simply opens up this experience to a larger number of potential players. For its part, Microsoft is really trying to establish Windows and the Xbox as one happy, collective ecosystem, and crossplay is a big part of that.