Welcome to issue #9 of the Dithering Digest Weekly Tech Roundup of geeky news and links!

Well Christmas is more or less done now and we are headed into the New Year. With all of the developments, especially around AI, I think 2024 will be an exciting year for geeks with tons of cool toys to tinker on. That or the AI overlords will take over the planet and eradicate us all. Time will tell!

So, enjoy this weeks collection of links from around the web and I will see you in the New Year! Happy New Year!

Home Assistant devoting more resources to iOS app

Home Assistant have added a new iOS engineer to their Nabu Casa project which should mean more features being added to the iOS companion app over this next year. In this latest release they have added the ability to import Apple Thread credentials to make your Apple Thread network the preferred one.

🔗 https://www.home-assistant.io/blog/2023/12/27/companion-app-for-ios-202312-lets-go/

Apple Watch sales ban paused

The ban on sales of Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 has been temporarily paused following an emergency request to the United States Court of Appeals. A relief to Apple to be able to continue to sell a flagship product, especially over the holiday season!

🔗 https://www.macrumors.com/2023/12/27/apple-watch-series-9-and-ultra-2-sales-ban-paused/

“Triangulation” attack infected iPhones over 4 years using incredibly advanced exploit

This one is some proper super spy stuff. Unknown attackers managed to “backdoor” phones, mostly of employees of Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky, for a period of up to 4 years. This attack is made even more frightening by the fact that even now, months after its discovery, they still don’t fully understand how it was done. It appears to have relied on a very secret unused part of the Apple firmware, and no idea on how they found this even existed, let alone how to exploit it.

🔗 https://arstechnica.com/security/2023/12/exploit-used-in-mass-iphone-infection-campaign-targeted-secret-hardware-feature/

Raspberry Pi Emulation station dressed up as retro PC

I love this one. Raspberry Pi with some cooling and audio boards, all encased in a beautiful 3D-printed enclosure to look like a teeny tiny retro computer.

Having recently invested in a 3D printer myself, I suspect I might have a crack at this one. It even has the SD Card slot set up to look like the floppy drive. Amazing!

🔗 https://hackaday.com/2023/12/28/raspberry-pi-does-its-best-retro-pc-impression/

52 Interesting Things I Learned in 2023 – by Jason Kottke

Jason is an excellent tech writer and if you don’t follow him you really should. Inspired by Tom Whitwell’s annual list, Jason had a go this year and there are some gems on there. Be sure to read Tom’s lists over the years too.

Some of my favourites:

5. The San Francisco subway system still runs on 5 1/4-inch floppies.

21. There are satellites that were launched in the early to mid 60s that are still operational.

29. Humans have pumped so much groundwater out of the ground that it’s changed the tilt of the Earth’s axis 31.5 inches to the east.

Jason Kottke – 52 Interesting Things I Learned in 2023 – Kottke.org

🔗 https://kottke.org/23/12/52-interesting-things-i-learned-2023

China building nuclear-powered megaship

China State Shipbuilding Corporation have unveiled plans for their KUN-24AP containership. It will carry a massive 24,000 containers but the most interesting features is that it will be powered by a small nuclear reactor. The molten salt reactor is said to using a thorium fuel cycle.

This would provide immense amounts of power to run the ship, but would also eliminate emissions and allow it to travel at greater speeds than conventional ships.

🔗 https://hackaday.com/2023/12/26/chinas-nuclear-powered-containership-a-fluke-or-the-future-of-shipping/

Purpose-bound or programmable money is coming

With the rise (and some would argue fall) of BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies, governments have become interested in the concept. The UK government and Bank of England are already making plans for a “digital pound” and this proposal would take it a step further. Money could be given out digitally but linked to a purpose, so that it can only be spent in certain ways. This would be useful for benefit payments for example, ensuring they could only be used for rent, food and other essential items and not used for things like alcohol or cigarettes.

🔗 https://www.theregister.com/2023/12/21/programmable_money/

Get better responses from ChatBots

Handy article lists ways to prime chatbots like ChatGPT to get better responses. This is in a similar vein to knowing how to Google things correctly. Asking a question better aligned to how the computer sees the data will yield vastly better results.

🔗 https://www.howtogeek.com/how-to-get-better-responses-from-ai-chatbots/

Computer Joke of the Week

Why did the computer go to the dentist?… To get his Bluetooth checked.

See you all next week! Happy holidays and keep dithering!

By Colin

Serial tinkerer.

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