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Battery for Amilo Pi 1505

Tandy eventually decided that the thrusting young executive types of the early 1980s wanted something rather more portable when they took the elevators to the upper reaches of Nakatomi Plaza, so acquired the rights to Japanese company Kyocera’s Kyotronic 85. The anglosphere’s version was launched as the TRS-80 Model 100 and gave users a full keyboard and eight-line, 40-characters per line screen in glorious grey-on-grey.A 2.4MHz Intel 80C85 hummed along inside, sipping so little power that the machine was powered by a quartet of AA batteries. An on-board backup battery made sure the data in the machines’ RAM – you could have between 8 and 32 kilobytes – remained safe.The Model 100 is often considered a proto-laptop and sold about six million units. Later upgrades adopted the clamshell form factor so common today, but there were also upgrades to the flat-format machines. And one of those was the Tandy 102 that Ed still possesses today.The 102 debuted in 1986, was thinner and lighter than its predecessors and offered 24 kilobytes as its minimum memory specification.“It’s just a beeper, but it works well enough for me,” he wrote. He’s also used the machine “as a catalog of CDs stored in CD changer cartridges via a custom BASIC application but that became obsolete when I swapped my JVC 6+1 changer for a 200-disc Kenwood unit with a CDDB interface.”

Another vintage machine that caught our eye this week was a Commodore 64, gutted for use as a keyboard.The user is an outfit called SteelOwl which offers a “room adventure” in Philadelphia, USA. The aim of this meatspace game is to escape from a room by solving several puzzles that dwell within, one of which requires players “to enter in clues they find on VHS tapes in a pretend 1980s video store.”The application isn’t running on the C64, but the old machine’s chassis is intact so it feel like players are bashing away at the machine’s much-better-than-a-ZX-Spectrum keyboard.Steelowl’s obtained a USB adapter for the C64 from Britain’s Tynemouth Software which charges 40 quid for the kit, in case others out there fancy pressing a C64 into service. Tynemouth Software claim their kit can even connect a Commodore 16 keyboard. The Commodore what? The 16 was the heir to the Vic 20, but flopped just about everywhere. Wikipedia claims the machine went on to be Big in Hungary, a market Commodore chose as a dumping ground for the computer,

But we digress. If you’ve something older, or odder, than Ed’s Tandy 102 let me know and you may appear in a future edition of Runtime. Or use that link to suggest a better name for this column. We considered “Uptime Funk”, FWIW. Israeli security researchers have been able to extract encryption keys from a nearby computer by analysing stray electromagnetic radiation.The attack by computer scientists from Tel Aviv University shows that TEMPEST-style side channel attacks are no longer just the preserve of Mission Impossible and three-letter spy agencies.In a paper, titled ECDH Key-Extraction via Low-Bandwidth Electromagnetic Attacks on PCs, the researchers demonstrate how secret decryption keys in applications using the libgcrypt11 library might be harvested.We show that the secret decryption keys can be extracted from PCs running the the ECDH encryption algorithm, using the electromagnetic emanations generated during the decryption process. By measuring the target’s electromagnetic emanations, the attack extracts the secret decryption key within seconds, from a target located in an adjacent room across a wall.
ECDH (Elliptic Curve Diffie Hellman) is a standard public-key encryption algorithm used in OpenPGP, as specified in RFC 6637 and NIST SP800-56A. We attacked the ECDH implementation of GnuPG’s libgcrypt 1.6.3 (the latest version at the time the paper was written). The attack asks for decryption of a single carefully-chosen ciphertext, iterated a few dozen times, and then uses time-frequency signal analysis techniques in order to extract from the electromagnetic leakage emitted by the target laptop during execution of ECDH decryptions.

The attack rig includes an antenna on a stand, amplifiers, software-defined radio (white box) and an analysis computer. Naturally enough, a lot of digital signal processing and number crunching is involved.The researchers (Daniel Genkin, Lev Pachmanov, Itamar Pipman and Eran Tromer) are due to present their findings in full at the upcoming RSA Conference in San Francisco on 3 March. Security conscious computer users are advised to update their libgcrypt11 packages, something that is already happening. For example, an update for Linux distro Debian can be found here.Many encryption packages on Windows or Macs do not support ECDH, rendering the attack irrelevant. Updates for packages that do support ECDH are already available.Other cryptographic schemes, running on PC-class computers, are also potentially vulnerable to side-channel attacks, the researchers warn. The Israeli team has already demonstrated hacks against RSA and ElGamal, other encryption schemes. More on the Israeli team’s previous work can be found in our previous story here.

Unknown and unseen to most users, your smartphone is “talking” in its sleep, and that can sap your battery.The problem? Routing advertisements, one of the fundamental operating principles of the Internet, can demand enough communications to have a noticeable impact on battery life.Router advertisements are multicasts that remind the devices they serve what IP address the router’s interface is using (in the old IPv4 world,, for example). However, when the smartphone receives that advertisement, it has to process it, even if the screen stays dark.Over at the IETF, a Cisco* engineer called Andrew Yourtchenko and Google* researcher Lorenzo Colitti are suggesting ways that sysadmins can lighten the load on users, at least in the IPv6 world.In particular, the authors say the habits of sysadmins in wired networks, where router advertisements might fly around every few seconds, don’t translate well to the world of mobile devices.In RFC 7772, the pair lay down the current best practice for configuring systems so that on devices like phones and tablets, router advertisements don’t suck more than 2 per cent of a device’s power during sleep mode.

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