Sunday

Alex Jones - Loon Or Threat?

Apparently, Apple, Facebook, YouTube etc. got together and decided Alex Jones was a threat to . . . what?

In any case, he was engaged in "wrongthink" has been "de-personed" and erased.

Problem solved.

Or Pandora's Box opened.


Saturday

Gas Engines With Fully Digital Valves

Now that we are apparently heading toward an electric vehicle future, here's interesting news about a breakthough in the internal combustion engine. Specifically, the complete digital control of the valves - no rods or actuators, just computer control of each individual valve using a precision electric motor.

Why? Although the internal combustion engine may be "marked for death" it will be around for a while yet, and hybrid electrics need efficient gas engines to pair with the electric system.

This digital valve setup can perform all kinds of tricks that increase efficiency and decrease emissions, so it sounds like something that may really be embraced in the coming years. The article below goes into quite a bit of depth, and is pretty eye-opening as to the possibilities of this technology.



Pondering Our Home PC Swap

So, I am on the cusp of embarking on a dangerous and hazard-filled undertaking; replacing our home PC. When I say "home PC" I mean the desktop my wife uses on a daily basis.

Currently, it's a classic, custom-built machine (i.e. I cobbled it together years ago), and while it still serves my wife's relatively light use, I have the ability to provide a "free" upgrade. My wife basically surfs, and plays those little Flash games from Big Fish, etc. So, nothing demanding a lot of storage, CPU or GPU power.

The specs are an old Intel DUO quad core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 240GB SSD drive (a relatively recent upgrade, which really boosted performance). The system also runs Windows 7, and this is one of the points of contention.

Image courtesy Extreme Tech

Sunday

The Electric Car Range Issue

I have noticed quite a few YouTube and other articles of late about whether we really need all the range we seem to want from electric cars. Since internal combustion powered cars typically have a range of 350 or 400 miles (560 or 640km), something like that, many of us seem to expect a similar range to be available on electric vehicles.

The articles I referred to above seem to be prepping us to accept shorter range electric vehicles, and the current (2016) average range of an all electric car (EV) is around 180 miles (290 km), although this is being slowly improved each year. 


Bakkt - To The Future?

Cool, so you can now spend your Bitcoin at Starbucks? Not quite, but the creation by the Intercontinental Exchange of a new company, Bakkt, is a start in that direction. This one got attention since some of the players involved are Microsoft (yes, that Microsoft) and Starbucks themselves, among others.
The new company is working with a marquee group of organizations ... to create an integrated platform that enables consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend digital assets on a seamless global network.
Interestingly, although perhaps inevitably, this gets away from the concept that created Bitcoin in the first place, as seen below in an excerpt from the original paper by its creator (emphasis mine):
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending.
Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

BusinessWire


Saturday

Bye-Bye, Gamefly Streaming Service

According to Variety, Gamefly's streaming video game service will shutdown at the end of August, although they will continue their mail game rental service. 

Electronic Arts purchased Gamefly this year, and as EA has it's own new game streaming service called Origins Access Premiere, it seems like a bit of a coincidence that Gamefly's service would be now shut down - although EA says that was not their decision.
Reached for comment Wednesday, an EA spokesperson said “We acquired the team in Israel and the technology they’ve developed, we did not acquire the Gamefly streaming service.  We have not been involved in any decisions around the service.”


SANS Ouch! For August 2018

The SANS institute provides a monthly newsletter, SANS Ouch!, featuring bite-sized security articles designed for the non-geeks among us (e.g. your Mom, Grandpa, Uncle Bob, and that other kinda weird lady that shows up at all the family picnics).

These articles address a wide variety of security-related topics and are provided "ready to share" either from the SANS site (link below) or as a downloadable PDF.

Articles are offered at no charge, no sign up required, and you are encouraged to share them. 

July's Ouch! is about Smart Home Devices

https://www.sans.org/security-awareness-training/resources/smart-home-devices



Ouch! Archive: https://www.sans.org/security-awareness-training/ouch-newsletter