Upgrading the 2014 Mac mini to Solid State Storage

The late 2014 Mac mini, unlike all of the other Mac mini’s before it, features soldered on RAM as well as very difficult to access hard drive that is not intended to be user replaceable. Because of this, along with the lack of a quad core i7 option, have led people who wanted Mac minis to go for a used 2012 model. Since I purchased my Mac mini for work, I settled with a late 2014 because I wanted the warranty as well as the newer processor as well as longer support for macOS. I settled on the 2.6Ghz Core i5 with 16GB of RAM and the molasses slow 1TB 5400 RPM hard drive. Since I was spoiled by the performance of the PCIe SSD found in my late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro I didn’t know how slow macOS is on spinning media. It is *really* slow, to the point where my MacBook was a faster development machine. The whole point of buying the Mac mini was so that I didn’t have to dock in my MacBook Pro to my monitors and peripherals every time I needed to get work done. So after months of putting up with molasses slow disk reads and writes I decided to look into a SSD upgrade. After watching a few YouTube videos on replacing the internal HD I realized that not only is it excessively difficult for a hard drive replacement but that there are so many things I could end up breaking along the way. I need my mini for work and I was not so keen on opening up a new $800 computer. So I looked at external drives and saw USB was an option, however there were some drawbacks. USB 3.0 has a max throughput of 5.0Gbps and SATA is 6.0 so I wouldn’t be getting the full bandwidth. UASP compatible SATA to USB connectors promised almost full SATA like performance since it attaches USB over SCSI. This is also supposed to enable TRIM support but from what I read macOS does not allow TRIM over USB. So USB 3.0 was out, so what other high speed connection is there on the Mac mini. Thunderbolt of course! With a 20Gbps link speed, Thunderbolt 2 is still a very fast standard and provides more than enough head room for SATA. I finally came across the AKiTiO Thunder SATA Go, an external Thunderbolt dock that connects SATA to eSATA to Thunderbolt, negotiating a full 6Gbps link speed. Since this is basically like a direct SATA uplink TRIM is natively supported on SSDs. Sweet. Paired with a Samsung 1TB 850 EVO and you have an absolutely killer SSD upgrade for your Mac mini without even opening it up. This convenience does come at a cost however as the Thunder SATA Go is $95, a price you would not have to pay if you just upgraded the disk internally. I think it’s worth it though since I was able to get up and running in about 2 hours after cloning my hard drive to my SSD using SuperDuper!, setting it to my start up disk, and then erasing my spinning hard drive. I now have 1TB of super fast solid state storage and 1TB of bulk spinning storage which is more than I will ever need for a development machine but boy was it worth it. Boot time, app start up time, and overall system responsiveness have increased 10 fold. Feels like a different computer now, finally a true replacement for my MacBook Pro.

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macOS Security Update 2017-001

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208315

Highly recommended security update that everyone running High Sierra needs to install. Patches a bug that allows the creation and authentication of a root user account without a password. If you have automatic updating turned on for security updates, you should have it automatically download and install. Otherwise check the App Store > Updates tab for the security update.

This is yet another blunder by Apple’s macOS engineering team. The software QA is reaching a new low and its really disappointing. So far its not enough to make me switch back to using Windows full time, but if this continues I am definitely going to consider it.

The iPhone X Review

The iPhone X is possibly the most anticipated iPhone since the original iPhone. It represents the most drastic change in the 10 year evolution of the smart phone that took over the world and is helping propel Apple into becoming a 1 trillion dollar company. I had been closely following rumors of this phone once my iPhone 6 had started showing its age last year. Once I knew about the edge to edge display and facial recognition capabilities I knew I had to jump on the hype train and buy it come release day. And here we are, 24 hours after the launch, and I am still damn impressed with the phone.

Build quality

Apple simply knocked it out of the park as always. I thought my iPhone 4 and 6 were well built but the X is on another level. The finishing and attention to detail is impeccable. The glass back and stainless steel band in “Space Grey” look fantastic. Feels heavy and very high quality, but still relatively comfortable to hold. The way the screen just curves into the band and rest of the body is just perfect. I really can’t say enough about the way the phone looks and feels, you really need to see it for yourself.

The screen

The OLED screen on the iPhone X is something really special. It is arguably the best OLED screen you can find on a smartphone right now. According to Apple, although the display is manufactured by Samsung, it was custom designed for the X. It is PenTile, supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, runs at 60hz but samples at 120hz, and goes from edge to edge of the phone (except for the notch). I can safely say this is the best screen ever put on an iPhone and the best screen I have ever seen on a mobile device. Colors are crisp and the blacks are very deep, with just the right amount of contrast without making it look like a over saturated Galaxy S8 or Note. It gets very bright when you need to use it outside and dims to about the same level as previous iPhone LCD displays when you need to use it in the dark. The only thing that I’d be worried about is burn-in over time which is common with all OLED displays. Apple has said they have used hardware and software to mitigate this but we won’t know for a while. As for now though it really is a great display.

Face ID and the TrueDepth camera system

This is probably my favorite part of the iPhone. Since working with the Kinect over summer I have been interested in depth sensing cameras and getting to see one in an iPhone is very exciting. Using technology pioneered from PrimeSense and perfected over time at Apple, the TrueDepth camera system is an engineering marvel. What used to be found in a device as large as the Kinect now occupies the small notch at the top of the smartphone. The main purpose of this setup is for Face ID, which in my testing has been working very well. I have tested it in darkness, daylight, and with sunglasses all of which work well. It does struggle with certain angles and works best in darkness as some lighting does not play so well. I also found out that it did not work when I had my glasses off, maybe because I trained it while wearing my glasses. It is not perfect but I would say that it is still faster than the Touch ID sensor found in my iPhone 6. Apps that already use Touch ID will work with Face ID, which is a plus. I did notice that apps that have not been updated to prompt for Face ID displayed a message that the app was designed for Touch ID and not Face ID along with the normal prompt asking whether or not you want to let the app use Face ID. Along with Face ID, the TrueDepth camera is also used to Animoji, a feature that I honestly am not that interested in. I tried it, seems cool, but that’s all. If you want to learn more about it, read up on The Verge’s review in which Nilay Patel claims that is the best selling point of the phone.

The A11 Bionic processor

I wasn’t all that amused during the keynote when the processor powering the iPhone was dubbed the A11 Bionic. What a silly name, I mean A10 Fusion sounded cool but Bionic just sounded silly to me. Anyways, the processor packs a serious punch, with synthetic benchmarks such as GeekBench showing Apple’s silicon engineering prowess destroying competing devices like the S8 and Galaxy, benching close to MacBook Pros. In day to day use it is snappy, pretty power efficient based on my usage so far, and a huge upgrade over the A8 found in the iPhone 6. The tear down by iFixit reveals the logic board in which the A11 sits and oh boy it is really something to look at. A true silicon masterpiece that makes you just step back and realize how far the iPhone has come. A 70% decrease in the footprint over the iPhone 7/8 is extremely impressive. From an engineering standpoint it represents a pinnacle in hardware design and packaging, leveraging creative thinking with the latest in fabrication techniques. But then again, this is Apple, so it is expected.

Final thoughts

When Apple announced the iPhone X they billed it as the future of the smartphone. That really is a bold claim even coming from Apple but in a way, I think they might be right. Just looking at the density of the logic board and the TrueDepth camera, Apple is moving hardware in a new direction at a new pace. Albeit their innovation in the Mac space has greatly reduced as well as overall software quality, their new focus on iPhone hardware is refreshing since we had to deal with 3 years of the same iPhone 6 design.  The original iPhone got a lot of things right, and many of those things are still present in the X. The interface and design may have changed but the fundamental usability is still there. Here is to another 10 years of iPhone. Thanks for reading.

 

Microsoft discontinues the Kinect

One of the biggest headlines in tech today was that Microsoft is killing of the Xbox Kinect sensor (article here). This is quiet a blow to hackers and enthusiasts who have been using the Kinect for motion capture, 3D scanning, depth mapping, and general computer vision applications. Introduced for the Xbox 360 in 2010 and teased under the codename “Project Natal”, the Kinect was introduced with much fanfare, only to never get any popular games to play it with. Hailed as a useful accessory with the V2 release for the Xbox One, the second generation of Kinect was more powerful, accurate, and capable since you could use it via voice commands to navigate through your Xbox One. But yet again, even with this promising and advanced piece of technology game developers never really got on board and once again there were no show stopping titles available which led to its inevitable death. However, on a technical side, the Kinect will continue to live on. PrimeSense, the Israeli manufacture of the sensor and circuitry used in the original Kinect for Xbox 360 was purchased by Apple in 2013. Their technology can also be found in the ASUS Xtion which is basically a rebranded PrimeSense Carmine camera. They were arguably one of the most influential companies in the development of consumer 3D depth sensing technology, contributing to projects such as OpenNI as well as the sensor technology in general. But after the Apple acquisition, there were no more PrimeSense cameras being made, and coming back to what I said earlier about the Kinect technology living on today, is that the same structured light sensing technology is now being used in the iPhone X for Face ID. The research that led to a video game accessory that never took off is now behind arguably the biggest feature in a device that has been so hyped up and poised for one of the largest preorders of a consumer electronics device ever. It’s really astonishing once you think about it. But it doesn’t stop there, since Microsoft is continuing to push the edge on vision technologies but not with a Xbox accessory, rather a HMD for mixed reality. I’m talking about the HoloLens, which while is still in development and purchasable as development kit only, is the advancement and technological successor to the Kinect. It uses sensor technology that was pioneered by the first two Kinects and continues to build on them while taking a new approach to interaction. I am fairly certain the engineers who worked on Kinect are now all on the HoloLens team (at least I know this guy is), so I think its safe to say the Kinect is dead. As you can see on this HN post, a lot of people are saddened as am I. I worked with the Kinect all summer for my current employer. We are now looking at alternatives going forward, mainly considering the Orbbec Astra, Occipital’s Structure Sensor, and the Stereolabs ZED. As of now, none of these seem to have a mature and large SDK like that of the Kinect, nor do they offer fully integrated and functional skeletal tracking which is our main focus. Orbbec does have a beta for this, however their slow development and release pace is concerning. We’ll see.

 

A (brief) review of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra

As promised, here is a short review of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. I’ll also do a review of the iPhone X when I get one.

iOS 11

So far, my experience with iOS 11 has been pretty ok. Running on my iPhone 6, performance has been similar to that of iOS 10 with some animations sped up making it seem a bit faster. The scrolling in apps like Safari is noticeably smoother and feels more like scrolling using the fantastic trackpad on my Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro. The new Control Center customization and long-press options (requires Force Touch’ing on later iPhones) are a welcome addition, however I do have some gripes. Not being able to directly switch off WiFi/Bluetooth is annoying since those controls only disconnect you instead of turning off the radio itself. You now have to go to the Settings app to do that. Secondly, the new interface for playing music is buggy, as I have had trouble with 3rd party apps like Amazon Music responding to the play/pause/skip controls. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future update. The new notification center is basically the lock screen view which is strange and doesn’t work as well as the iOS 10 notification center did. Speaking of the lock screen, having to tap “Use Passcode” when I don’t is annoying when I don’t want to use Touch ID. This is actually pretty often since my Touch ID sensor can be spotty at times. These are just some annoyances caused by having older hardware. All in all, it’s a ok update, nothing spectacular.

macOS High Sierra

This was a bit more eventful, mainly because things broke after installing. The install process was quick on my MacBook and slow as expected on my Mac mini. APFS doesn’t seem particularly faster than HFS+, but maybe I just haven’t noticed it yet. Apple did announce that spinning hard drives and Fusion Drives would be supported in a future update. Opening apps such as Safari have become a bit smoother likely thanks to Metal 2, since the window manager is now rendered directly by Metal. Overall UI is a bit faster and higher consistent frame rates. Now for the things that inevitably broke, one of which is a huge annoyance. The first thing was Outlook which refused to open, but this was easily solved by downloading the latest version of Office 2016 for Mac. The more pressing problem was my VPN client, Watchguard IPSec Mobile VPN, stopped working. This is a bummer since I use my VPN to work from home. Looks like Watchguard takes forever to update, and that breaking after OS upgrades is common, so it might be a while before there is support for High Sierra. If you happen to rely on this client, hold back on upgrading to High Sierra. If there is no update in sight within a few weeks, I might just buy equinux VPN Tracker, which supports connecting to Watchguard endpoints as well as yearly OS updates as long as you purchase the yearly subscription ($79/year). This might be a better option than paying once for Watchguard’s own client.

That’s all for now. I will update this if I find anything else broken or interesting about iOS 11 or High Sierra.

[UPDATE 9/28/17]: There is a workaround for WatchGuard’s Mobile VPN Client on High Sierra. Completely uninstall the client using the Uninstaller package included in the dmg for the latest version (2.05). Reboot after uninstalling, then re-install using the Installer package. You should be go to go now. WatchGuard is waiting on NCP, the original author of the client, to issue an update for full High Sierra compatibility.

iPhone X, iOS 11, and macOS High Sierra

Over the past few months I had been closely following almost every major rumor about the iPhone X, and the one everyone hoped would be wrong was of course true, the pricing. My development Mac mini cost less than the baseline 64GB iPhone X, but you should opt for the $1,149 256GB version if you are going to spend $1k anyways. The iPhone X seems to represent a evolution of the iPhone that is really unparalleled to previous releases for a few things such as price, hardware and design, and a vision towards a new interface for the phone. The price just seems like typical Apple greed, and I agree, $1k is a hell of a lot of money for a phone regardless of who made it, but this is a pivotal device for the future of the iPhone. Just like the first iPhone launched in 2007 it can demand that price because of all the hype surrounding it. Come early November (or whenever my order ships), I will finally know if that hype pays off. Secondly is the new hardware, and i’d say the single biggest change is getting rid of the home button. Removal of this once piece of hardware has led to a new authentication mechanism, a completely new way to navigate about iOS, a edge to edge screen, new potential (or hurdles) for app development, heavier focus on machine learning due to Face ID, the list goes on. The third thing would be a new vision for the future of iPhone, and that is really what the X is aiming for. They are trying to move to the all touch based approach that I’d say they have been working towards since the first iPhone. Apple imagined the iPhone as a purely touch centric device with minimal user interaction through physical buttons, and now that the hardware and software are capable it was finally time to make that plunge.

In regards to iOS 11, I don’t really have much to say considering there actually are not that many big features. Peer to peer Apple Pay seems pretty appealing and the tweaked UI is welcome but there really isn’t much else for the average end user. For developers, Core ML and ARKit are cool and welcome additions. I don’t see myself using either any time soon for work but seem like they would be fun to mess with (Xamarin support for these two frameworks and more are already in the works).

Finally, for macOS High Sierra, which focuses more on under the hood improvements, the biggest one being the introduction of APFS as the primary filesystem for macOS. APFS found its way onto iDevices as of iOS 10.3 and is finally making its debut on Mac desktops and laptops. This is a pretty big deal since the whole filesystem will be upgraded during the install which poses many risks. This is an upgrade where you would likely want to back up any important data. According to Apple, APFS should boost performance for flash based mediums, but no word on if it will improve the performance of molasses slow 5400RPM mechanical drives like the one in my Mac mini (I am still regretting not getting at least a Fusion Drive). I am also expecting general performance improvements like those found between Yosemite to El Capitan. Anyways, I plan on upgrading on day 1 as usual on my Mac mini and my MacBook Pro. I’ll keep this blog updated regarding macOS High Sierra, iOS 11, and when it finally arrives, the iPhone X.

 

Reverse Engineering Xamarin Forms Apps

Xamarin Forms as well as Xamarin Native rely on the Mono runtime and framework for cross platform code sharing between iOS, Android, and UWP. This means that a .NET assembly will be generated for the solution and, on Android, will use JIT compiling on the device upon runtime to translate the C# code to native Android code (Apple restricts JIT compiling on device so AOT is implemented for iOS solutions, this will come into play later).

Since this process generates a .NET assembly, we can use standard .NET decompiler tools such as ILSpy to deconstruct the assembly and have a complete, in depth look at the source code. The following is how anyone could download a Xamarin Forms app from iTunes/App Store or Google Play, extract the .NET assembly, and decompile it to view the entire source code.

iOS (Requires a Mac)

[UPDATE 9/28/17: Apple has removed the ability to download apps through the latest version of iTunes, so this method no longer works. It may continue to work on versions prior to version 12.7, but I haven’t tested this.]

[UPDATE 10/9/17: Apple has now reinstated the App Store functionality in iTunes 12.6.3. Odd move by Apple to bring it back just 2 weeks later. If you are already running 12.7, you will need to download and install 12.6.3 from here: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208079]

-Open up iTunes

-Search iTunes for a Xamarin Forms app. Hit Get and then Download. The downloaded .IPA file will be found under ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications/

-Copy the IPA file to a temporary directory on your desktop. Rename the .ipa to app.ipa.

-In Terminal, cd into that directory and enter in unzip app.ipa. Wait until the unzip finishes.

-Open up the Payload folder and right click on AppName.iOS. Click on Show Package Contents.

-In the Finder search bar, enter in .dll. This will locate all the DLLs in the project. Find the AppName.dll file and copy it to a flash drive. We will need to decompile this dll on a Windows machine.

Android (Mac or Windows; I tested this on a Mac)

-Since we cannot directly download the .apk from the Play Store, we need to use a frontend client to download the apk for us. I used Raccoon (http://raccoon.onyxbits.de/)

-Download and open up raccoon using Terminal (java -jar raccoon.jar). Login to a Google account when prompted. Choose “Let Raccoon create a pseudo device”.

-Search for a Xamarin Forms app in the search bar. Once you have found it, hit download. Once downloaded click on show where the file was downloaded to.

-Copy the .apk to the desktop. Again use a temporary folder and run the command unzip in terminal. On Windows you could probably use 7-Zip to do this.

-Open the assemblies folder and copy AppName.dll and AppName.Droid.dll on to a flash drive for the next step of decompiling the DLLs.

DLL Decompile (Windows)

-Download ILSpy  (https://github.com/icsharpcode/ILSpy/releases/download/v2.4/ILSpy_Master_2.4.0.1963_Binaries.zip)

-Unzip it and run ILSpy.exe

-Click open and select the DLLs you want to decompile

-View the source of the DLLs

Installing macOS Sierra on a 2009 HP Pavilion laptop

For the past few years I have been trying to install OS X on my now 8 year old HP Pavilion dv6t-2000. It features a 4 core, 8 thread Intel Core i7-720QM running at 1.67GHz, a NVIDIA GeForce GT 230M graphics card, 4GB of 1067MHz RAM and a 350GB SATA HD. This hardware may seem quite old, and it is, so I have had constant trouble installing anything from Snow Leopard to Mavericks. I could never complete a installation, until yesterday. I decided to take a long and focused look at how I could complete a successful install of Apple’s latest operating system on a 8 year old machine from HP. Here are the biggest problems normally faced by someone who wants to install macOS on a laptop:

-Lack of WiFI driver support for many common adapters

-Motherboard and BIOS support

-Trackpad and keyboard

-Mobile graphics cards

-Audio and webcam

The easiest solution for WiFi use a external dongle, I used a spare Edimax EW-7811Un USB adapter which has up to date drivers for all versions of OS X starting from 10.4

-You can usually find a patch for your specific BIOS (issues such as local APIC crashing can be solved through a simple patch built into the Clover bootloader)

-VoodooPS2 solved my trackpad and keyboard issue

-NvidiaInject inside of Clover does the job perfectly for graphics support

-Since this is mainly a development/messing around computer I do not really need audio and surprisingly enough the webcam worked out of the box

Creating the install media is fairly simple thanks to the latest version of Unibeast. Download the latest copy from here. You will need a tonymacx86 account to do so. Format your USB drive to Mac Extended Journaled with GUID partition table. You will also need to download the Sierra installer from the Mac App Store. Once you have done all that select the drive you want to install to, use legacy BIOS, and let the install media be created.

Boot your installer by selecting your drive in your BIOS boot manager, you will now land on the Clover boot screen. This is the hard part, you will need to pass some boot arguments to get to the installer. Use the following arguments: dart=0 nv_disable=1 cpus=1 -v. This should allow us to eventually reach the installer. Once at the installer, we need to erase the current hard drive. Select the drive, partition to Mac Extended Journaled with GUID partition table. Erase the drive. If you run into any errors, try to force unmount the drive and run the erase again. To do this run the following:

diskutil list

and find the disk that you are installing to (internal should be /dev/disk0)

then run

diskutil unmountDisk force /dev/[disk number]

Let the drive be formatted. Proceed to accepting the license agreements and wait for the install to finish. Once it finishes and reboots, you will need to boot from the installer drive once again. Once at the Clover boot screen select the drive you installed Sierra on. Again, pass the same boot parameters. Once finished, install Multibeast from tonymacx86, run it, select legacy options, let it finish installing. Reboot, this time it should boot Clover from your hard drive. Same boot params, now get into OS X and install KextBeast from tonymacx86. Download the latest VoodooPS2 driver from here. Install it using KextBeast. Download Clover Configurator from here open it, and mount the EFI partition. Once mounted open up /BOOT/CLOVER and find the config.plist. Open it using TextWrangler or a similar code editor. Find the local APIC patch and set it to true as well as Nvidia Injector to true. Save and reboot. You will no longer need any boot arguments. Install any other drivers you need afterwards. This will give you the most basic usable operating system, its up to you on what you need working.

The install was long and frustrating as it took me a while to figure out what boot arguments to use to get into the installer, but once I got in I was able to figure out the post install relatively easily. Now for the final question, was this really worth it. Yes and no; yes because I finally learned how to do a hackintosh relatively properly and no because I was expecting the old but powerful sounding CPU to hold up its performance. In the end I got this:

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 8.54.24 PM.png

Yeah that is some pretty lackluster performance for a seemingly powerful GPU and CPU. But then again, this was from a first get Core i-Series CPU and a 2nd gen GeForce GT GPU. But all in all, the system is actually pretty fast. I am yet to test out compiling some Xamarin projects and I am curious if it can utilize the 4 cores for faster builds compared to my dual core MacBook Pro and Mac mini.

 

EyeToy Vision – facial recognition using the PlayStation 2 EyeToy camera

The PlayStation 2 EyeToy was released in 2003 and was basically a USB webcam that you could attach to your PS2 to play certain games using your body and voice commands. For my current job, I have been developing a strength training application using Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox One which piqued my interest in computer vision. I started messing around with facial recognition on the Kinect using HD face as well as a more traditional PCA based approach using Eigen Faces from this great sample here. I then remembered that I had an old EyeToy USB camera laying around at home that I could use as a capture device and use OpenCV for some basic face recognition. I started work on it last night and now have an working(ish) example of how to use the EyeToy for facial recognition using OpenCV. Bear in mind this is the first time I have done a VC++ project so I probably didn’t do everything in an optimal way.

screenshot

Requirements:

-EyeToy USB Camera (The one I used was an early model and was manufactured by Logitech, later EyeToys were manufactured by Namtai. I have not tested the driver with a Namtai made EyeToy but I am pretty sure it will work.)

-An open USB port (does not work properly with USB hubs)

-Visual Studio 2015 or higher (I compiled with VS 2017 Enterprise)

-EyeToy Vision Source Code: https://shravanj.com/files/EyeToyVision.zip

Before we can begin discussing the program, we need to install the EyeToy drivers, since there is no official PS2 EyeToy driver for Windows. I followed this guide and got it working on Windows 10: http://metricrat.co.uk/ps2-eyetoy-on-windows-8-64-bit-working/

You’ll need to download the driver (which I have uploaded to my website for your convenience here) and extract it. Once you have done that open up a command prompt window with administrator permissions. We need to temporarily disable driver signing verification so we can install the driver. Enter in the following commands:

bcdedit -set loadoptions DISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS

bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING ON

From the Device Manager, find the EyeToy, right click and select Update Driver. Select let me pick from list -> have disk -> locate the unzipped driver folder and select HLCLASSIC.inf. Click continue when prompted about the unsigned driver. Once finished, re-enable driver signing enforcement like so:

bcdedit -set loadoptions ENABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS

bcdedit -set TESTSIGNING OFF

Verify the driver works by opening up the testing application inside the driver folder.

Now that we have the driver setup and ready, we need to prepare Visual Studio. In my initial stages of development, I tried linking OpenCV directly to VS but I never got it to work properly, so instead I found a NuGet package that manages the whole thing for me. Named opencvcontrib, it contains a x64 compiled version of OpenCV 3.1 and more importantly includes the contributed modules which contains the FaceRecognizer class which is not found in the stand alone version of OpenCV. In order for this to work, we need the Visual Studio 2015 platform tools because that was what the whole OpenCV source was built against. If you are using VS 2015 you do not need to do anything, but if you are using VS 2017 like me, you will need to install the 2015 platform tools. To do this, go to Start Menu > Visual Studio Installer. Click the menu icon for you installed VS 2017 product and select Modify. Open the Individual Components tab and scroll down to Compilers, build tools, and runtimes. Select the “VC++ 2015.3 v140 toolset (x86,x64)” and install it. You are now ready to compile the program.

I will get more in depth on the actual programming in another post, I just wanted to share my initial progress on this project.

 

 

Recommended Software: Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware for Business

I generally don’t recommend using anti-virus apart from Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, but due to recent developments it seems like protection against ransomware is needed. I am aware that a future Windows 10 update will allow protection against ransomware in the idea that you can protect specific folders from unauthorized programs accessing it. This, along with Windows Defender Application Guard seem to be a good combination to thwart ransomware. Of course, the best technique is simply following general internet security rules: never open or download files from any unknown email senders or sketchy websites. Use websites like Virus Total when opening an potentially risky file. But if you want an extra line of defense, look no further than Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware. This free download (yes, it is free, unlike most Kaspersky security products) provides solid ransomware and general malware protection via real-time scanning (something that the free version of Malwarebytes does not provide). In essence, its basically a stripped down and free version of Kaspersky Internet Security, a product I used to use a few years ago but never really deemed necessary considering I needed to purchase a new subscription every year. In today’s state of computer security, you can never be too careful. You can find a download link to Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware for Business below (you don’t actually have to own a business to use this software) along with a review from AvGurus posted on the MalwareTips forum.

Link for download: https://go.kaspersky.com/Anti-ransomware-tool.html

Link for review: https://malwaretips.com/threads/kaspersky-anti-ransomware-tool-for-business-quick-test.62451/