Light Start: Zodiac cipher solved, Toyota EV evolved, Twitter’s purchase resolved and live YouTube HDR installed

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The Zodaic Killer’s cipher has been cracked after 51 years

This just feels like an excellent reminder to never give up. While many cryptographers gave up on trying to crack the coded message left behind by the notorious Zodiac Killer in 1969. After teasing reporters and police alike with a series of coded messages hinting at his motivations and identity, the last clue he ever sent was known as the 340, named for the number of characters contained within. It was considered uncrackable for decades, with many suspected it as intentionally misleading. Not so as three dudes, scattered across the world, actually managed to solve it.

Dave Orancheck, a software developer from the USA, Sam Blake, an applied mathematician in Australia and Jarl Van Eycke, a warehouse operator in Belgium, worked together to crack the code. According to Orancheck, the code is known as a transposition cipher which is a very old form of code that uses rules and constraints to hide the meaning of message within symbols. So, after all this time, what was Zodiac Killer trying to say?

“I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING LOTS OF FUN IN TRYING TO CATCH ME THAT WASN’T ME ON THE TV SHOW WHICH BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ME I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE GAS CHAMBER BECAUSE IT WILL SEND ME TO PARADICE ALL THE SOONER BECAUSE I NOW HAVE ENOUGH SLAVES TO WORK FOR ME WHERE EVERYONE ELSE HAS NOTHING WHEN THEY REACH PARADICE SO THEY ARE AFRAID OF DEATH I AM NOT AFRAID BECAUSE I KNOW THAT MY NEW LIFE WILL BE AN EASY ONE IN PARADICE DEATH.”

Spooky…

Source: Ars Technica

Toyota is developing an EV that can charge in 10 minutes

Toyota hasn’t really been at the forefront of the electric vehicle market so the news that it’s potentially about to unveil a new electric vehicle that can go from empty to fully-charged in 10 minutes is more than a little exciting. The as-yet-unnamed vehicle comes equipped with solid-state batteries which should offer around 500km, putting it on par with the industry standard. The only real difference is that charge time; other EV’s looking to hit that maximum range would have to charge for roughly 45 minutes. If the battery turns out to actually work as promised, it could be huge for Toyota.

When can we expect this car to hit our streets? Well, you’ll need to be patient. While reports indicate that the car will be shown off early 2021, actual production will only start in the “early 2020s”. Which could be from now all the way through to 2025. There’s still some time to kill and probably a lot of design decisions to be made to really optimise how the car will work with a battery that’s so much more energy-dense. VW is currently working on a similar design using solid-state batteries but even those still need a great deal more time in the oven.

Source: Input Mag

Twitter purchases Squad, an app designed for virtual hangouts

You’ve probably not heard of Squad, but clearly, the startup was showing enough potential that Twitter, one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, thought it was a viable investment. For those of you who don’t have your fingers on the beating pulse of the internet, Squad is an app designed to allow friends to hang out via video chats and screen-sharing. Kinda like Discord? Speaking on the acquisition, Twitter’s VP of product, Ilya Brown said that Squad will, “bring new ways for people to interact, express themselves, and join in the public conversation”.

Of course, this acquisition is bad news for the scores of people using Squad as the app formally shut down on 12 December. Its tech will no doubt be folded into Twitter so expect to see some version of Squad’s UI integrated into the endlessly scrolling blue abyss. Finally, something that isn’t “fleets” to break up our sessions of endless doom-scrolling.

Source: The Verge

HDR support has arrived for YouTube livestreams

YouTube

YouTubers who make use of the live streaming feature were no doubt pleased to discover that high-dynamic range support has been added to the site. This means that live streams can now offer HDR in real-time and while it doesn’t really change the game into anything all that revolutionary, it’s still a nice quality of life feature to have. HDR has been a thing on YouTube since 2016 but implementing it into live streams is a first not only for the platform but for the industry. Not even Twitch, which is essentially nothing but live streaming, supports live HDR.

For those of you who don’t know, HDR is a technology that allows video to show a wider variety of colours. This means that colours are often shown as more vibrant and deep. The cliche thing to say (although it’s accurate too) is that HDR makes blacks darker and whites brighter. Doesn’t sound like much but it’s a pretty substantial difference.

Now the real question is whether this announcement has prompted Twitch to panic and begin implementing its own HDR support…

Source: The Verge

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I completed a Masters Degree just so someone might take my opinions seriously one day. Also writes about video games over at Critical Hit.

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