Most people are familiar with firmware on a very basic level given that they are often prompted to download firmware updates on computing devices such as smartphones, laptops, printers and routers. Yet many are oblivious to the potential security risks that firmware can bring. To address this, Google's malware scanning service VirusTotal can now help users identify harmful firmware.
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Zune Insider reports that Microsoft has updated the Zune firmware to 3.1, adding three new free games (Checkers, Sudoku, and Space Battle) and improving the Zune Social feature with better looks and a "like minded listeners" feature that shows you how your taste compares to your friends. Aside from the fun stuff, the update also promises improved stability and performance. To update, just launch the Zune software and go to Settings -> Check for Updates. Zune importers, let's hear how you like it in the comments.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Open-source MP3 firmware Rockbox has released its first major update in three years, adding support and stability for more MP3 players and playback of more file types. Rockbox has long been the best tool to breath new life into an aging MP3 player, from first through 5.5 generation iPods to iRiver, Sandisk, and Archos players (see all the supported players here). Rockbox features include Last.fm support, album art, games, video playback, and tons more. Better yet, the new release comes with a streamlined installation tool called RockboxUtility that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux and makes installation simple. With the latest release, Rockbox easily earns its spot as one of the 20 best iPod utilities. If you're a Rockbox user, share your favourite features in the comments. Rockbox
If you're using a consumer grade point-and-shoot Canon digital camera, you've got hardware in hand that can support advanced features way beyond what shipped in the box. With the help of a free, open source project called CHDK, you can get features like RAW shooting mode, live RGB histograms, motion-detection, time-lapse, and even games on your existing camera. Let's transform your point-and-shoot into a super camera just by adding a little special sauce to its firmware.
You might think your consumer-model Canon digital camera can't pull off the kind of fancy shots and tricks that make you stop and look on Flickr—until you unlock your camera's potential with the Canon Hacker's Development Kit. The completely reversible firmware upgrade, available for models running the DIGIC II or DIGIC III platforms, speeds up fast shutter modes (from 1/1,600th of a second to 1/60,000th!), allows for time-lapse photography and other scripted shots, unlimited interval shooting, better HDR pics, and much, much more. Wired's How-To Wiki has a handy guide and introduction to the CHDK, available at the link below. I lack a Canon to try out the CHDK, so let your fellow readers know what you think if you've taken this step already. Supercharge Your Camera with Open-Source CHDK Firmware
Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote was today, and among a bevy of new hardware announcements, Apple has pushed out two very significant updates for iPhone and iPod touch users. Apple has added multi-recipient SMS (iPhone-only), faux-GPS on Google Maps using cell tower triangulation, Web Clips (i.e., bookmarks of web sites on your home screen), and home screen icon customisation via drag and drop. iPod touch users can now get the Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather apps that came standard on the iPhone for a $24.99 upgrade (these features will come standard in new iPod touches). Hit the jump for a closer look at the new and improved features.
newVideoPlayer("ipodwizard_gawker.flv", 475, 376);
While Microsoft decided that old Zunes are getting all the feature updates of the new and improved Zune, Apple left iPod video owners out in the cold with the new iPod classic user interface. Why? Presumably your old money is getting dirty, and Apple would prefer to have your shinier, newer money. If you'd like the new iPod classic interface but you'd very much like to keep your new money, head over to DrivenDesign and download the modified iPod classic for iPod video firmware. The new firmware (obviously) isn't Apple-supported, and it's missing a feature here and there (namely Cover Flow), but it's getting frequent updates and looks promising. My latest classic-style iPod is an aged 3G, so I was unable to give this one a full test. If you try it out, let us know how it worked for you in the comments.
iPod Classic Comes to iPod Video