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Showing posts from March, 2012

Nicely Done, Google!

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GDrive on the way?

A Google cloud storage platform, perhaps called Google Drive or G drive may be coming to us in April. The possibility has been talked about for quite a while, and indeed there have been some "hacks" to allow you to make use of Gmail storage, etc. to provide a similar sort of functionality (at the risk of angering Google and getting your account suspended). While Google is remaining non-committal - doing its best Apple impression - it does seem that this finally may be what many have been waiting for, or at least curious about.
Techspot

When men were men, and hard drives were...enormous

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We think very little today about going online or heading to the computer store and plunking down twenty bucks and leaving with a multi-Gigabyte sized flash drive, or spending $100 and getting a 1Terabyte hard disk drive. Take a trip with me now down memory lane to, oh let's say the mid-1950's, when this IBM film crows about a hard drive the size of a refrigerator, which offers about 5MB of storage. No, you read that correctly, 5MB - about the size of single MP3 file. Go to around to 8 minute mark to see the beast in action, if you dare...


A quick "Anonymous" primer

This is an interesting brief look at the Anonymous group that has been quite prominently on the news over the last few years. Not too sure about the strangely distracting background music, though.
Mashable

Bug Bounties Can't Beat "Market" Prices

Some software companies offer "bug bounties" to hackers and others in an attempt to close security holes in their products, in effect "farming out" the detective work to those wily rascals who might otherwise wreak havoc. It's a good idea, except that there is more cash - a lot more - changing hands for these exploits. This is not even in the black market; this is in a sort of gray market where "middle men" can make quite a bit handling the transfer of information. The exploits do eventually get to the companies concerned - after a bit of  a markup. How about $250,000 for an Apple iOS exploit?
H-Online

Data mining; the rules get a bit looser...

People talk about "give an inch and they'll take a mile" and "the slippery slope", or "letting the camels nose into the tent", and we all know what those phrases allude to. The sad part is, they seem to be particularly applicable to government. I was born and raised in the UK, which sadly over the last 20 years or so has really become much like the rest of Europe, with very much of a "Nanny State" mentality. In the USA, we seem to be rather too willing to head in that direction too.

Big brother gets a little bigger and slicker

So, those ingenious folk in Japan have come up with a way to (very) quickly recognize images of individual from camera footage - how about comparing 36 million faces per second? Just what we need. It would have been nice if they had maybe used the technology to, oh I don't know, scan x-rays for tumors? Just my 2 cents.
Infowars

Anonymous to Takedown DNS Servers?

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There is quite a bit of discussion going round that the Anonymous group may be planning to try to hobble the DNS servers using "DNS amplification" - something I confess I had not heard of thus far. That would be a major pain in the butt and would certainly get the group the attention they enjoy (and maybe more attention than they might like from law enforcement). If they do, here is a handy-dandy list of IP addresses for major sites.
Arstechnica

Gnome 3 Not Sounding Real Good So Far

I use Linux at work (mostly command-line), and ran a couple of different versions of Linux Mint on my older laptop for about a year. I have even tried Ubuntu with the Unity Desktop, which was admittedly weird but more usable than Windows Metro on a "regular (non-touch) computer". However, Gnome 3 has been described a mess by Linus Torvalds, and a new Toms Hardware review of Fedora 15 with Gnome is pretty harsh too. Ugh.
TomsHardware

Open Season On Open Source

One of the attractive things about open source software is the collaborative aspect, and that it has a sort of built in peer review. However, that does not always mean that unwelcome things may not find their way in - like the Linux kernel keylogger incident last year, or the malicious backdoor that went unnoticed in some applications from Horde.org. Is nothing sacred?
Arstechnica

Leaky Plugins In Chrome And Firefox

Recent reports indicate problems with some plugins for both Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox browser. The presence of certain plugins can be detected by Java code on the web site being visited. This is a problem for at least a couple of reasons; privacy and the ability for malware to be more effective when it's know what plugins are present. *Sigh* Never ends, does it?
Ghacks

Cool Turntables! No, That's Not An Oxymoron.

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For those of you old enough to remember vinyl records (the big, round black disks made of plastic - the prehistoric CD) probably recall there was a big market for high end, esoteric turntables. The turntables are the platter on which the record sits, and which typically holds the pick up arm. I am feeling old just describing this! Anyway, they are still making cool looking - and I'm sure hideously expensive - turntables for those audiophiles who just can't go digital. I actually used to own one that looked very similar to the Thorens model in the article below (it was NOT a Thorens, I must emphasize - that probably costs more than my car).
CNET

March Madness Strains Company Networks

The current trend of "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) - where employees bring personal computer equipment like iPads to use at work - coupled with the streaming of March Madness games is probably causing a bit of grief for some network admins. Remember that each "stream" of a game takes up a bit of bandwidth, unlike a radio or TV broadcast where one signal can be "shared" by as many users as needed.
Eweek

New iPad Tracker

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If your curiosity has the better of you and you just *have* to know how the new iPad is faring, then Chikita Labs has just the thing for you -  a real time tracker, showing iPad adoption compared to the previous versions.
Chikita

Overclock Your Noggin For $99

In an article that makes me think of the "time travel" machine from Napoleon Dynamite, a neuroscience student at Michigan State University has a start up company (GoFlow) which is introducing a $99 "TDCS" Kit. TDCS - Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation - is a technique that can supposedly increase learning rates in subjects. While this may sound like moderately dangerous malarky (but what do I know?) the start up's website mentions the US Army and DARPA using the process for training purposes. Lord knows, my gray haired melon needs all the help it can get, but I think I'll pass on this one for now...

Real Peeps Trying Windows 8

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Chris Pirillo (the Lockergnome) had his dad try Windows 8 and recorded the result. Comedy gold, I tell yah! This was pretty much my reaction, btw...
InstantFundas

WiFi Networks (Literally) On The Fly

Here's a nifty and slightly creepy concept: use swarming UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to carry wireless base stations and thereby create a localized wireless network.

Electronic Countermeasures @ GLOW Festival NL 2011 from liam young on Vimeo.

Now They Are Just Making Sh*t Up...

More and more, "marketing" seems to be synonymous with "see what whoppers you can get away with", and the latest case in point would be the recent release of the new iPad and the back and forth about "4G networks"  - who has the biggest and best, and what 4G even is. It's too tiresome to even summarize the various claims, so just read the NYTimes article which does a nice job of laying it all out.
NYTimes

Khan Academy - There's An App For That

Khan Academy, which has had quite a lot of attention lately, now has an iPad app. The site is well known for providing educational videos for all sorts of things; now the iPad app opens up further possibilities and convenience:
The enhanced version of Khan Academy will include time-syncing between devices--no Internet connection required--an interactive transcript of the lectures for easy searching, and a handy scrubber for moving between parts of the lectures. Perhaps more importantly, now that more schools have begun adopting Khan's lectures for their own classrooms, the free iPad app could possibly replace or supplement textbooks, saving cash-strapped schools and students a lot of money.Fastcompany

What Google Really Does

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Makeuseof - click for bigger image

Google Quickly Fixes Leaky Sandbox

Following up on the rather quick exploit of their Chrome browser at the recent Pwnium contest, Google provided a patch within 24hrs. This fix is included in Chrome version 17.0.963.78. This was a Google-sponsored event in the first place, so one would hope they would follow up quickly - still, good for them!
Techspot

Replicating Reality

A pretty interesting (albeit dopey-looking) set up that allows you to enjoy an immersive 3D experience without being surrounded by huge displays. This is hacked together for demonstration and proof of concept purposes, but you can see the potential (after the commercial).
From Engadget

Will It Work With Windows 8?

Now that Windows 8 (or whatever it will actually end up being called - Microsoft still has not confirmed it) is really beginning to loom large on the horizon, some of us are curious if our existing "stuff" - hardware and software - will work with it. Well, Microsoft thought of that too, and has given us the Windows 8 Compatibility page. Enjoy...
Microsoft

Now, This Is More Like It

After complaining here about the "Metro" interface for Windows 8, this comes as a pleasant surprise - a nice-looking Metro desktop. Now, you are still stuck with the touch-centric aspects of the "new paradigm", but at least it does not look like it was created with a paint program on a Commodore 64.
Zdnet

Google Chrome Gets Pwnd Rather Quickly

Google's Chrome browser is generally considered once of the safer web browsers, both by virtue of it's sandboxing and also because Google is pretty aggressive in offering cash rewards for reported vulnerabilities. Well...even the best intentioned efforts can come crumbling down in a few minutes, as reported from the Pwn2Own Contest. Ouch...
Twitter

Eye-Opening Browser Add-On

An interesting browser add-on called "Ghostery" gives quite an insight to all the various bits and pieces that are part of the websites one visits through the day; it shows the companies that track and follow users' behavior on the web. It's available in some form for all the major browsers. It's quite enlightening/creepy, and also allows you to block different items if you start to feel particularly paranoid...

Cloudy, With Windows 7

Virtual computers sort of come and go; the latest incarnation I have seen is OnLive Desktop, which allows you to run a cloud-based "Windows 7" virtual computer on your iPad or Android tablet. You can also use Microsoft Office (but not Outlook) from within the virtual PC.You get 2GB of cloud storage for free, and all you need is a decent Internet connection. Pretty neat.

iPad 3 Rumors Abound

As usual, with the anticipated release of an Apple product - any Apple product - the rumors start a-flyin'. With the iPad 3 expected imminently, the level of fervor is cranked up to 11. One of the more interesting recent reports comes from Arstechnica, who noticed some interesting items in their server logs of all places. One was a device with a display resolution that matched the rumored new "retina" display type for the iPad 3. It's not a common resolution, so it was of interest. The other was some references to iOS 6 and a newer version of the "WebKit"; it's expected that iOS 6 will be a feature of the iPad 3 (although perhaps not at the launch). Current devices are running iOS 5.x. So, some circumstantial evidence, but interesting detective work from Arstechnica. We should get the straight scoop shortly...
Arstechnica

Windows 8 First Impression

I put the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 on my laptop today; my first impression (admittedly after only an hour or so - but that would make it a "first impression") is that it would work nicely on a tablet, but I didn't feel at all comfortable using it on laptop. It's a pretty jarring transition from Windows 7, more so than going from XP to Vista or Windows 7. It's reminiscent of Ubuntu's new UI, more than anything else (at least to me). Seems like stuff was moved around just for the sake of it.

Flying Car At Last?

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I love the idea of a flying car; I'm not sure why (I'm scared of heights), but it appeals to me in a very real way. While I know the practical realization of such a piece of machinery (and the infrastructure to support it) would be  tremendously difficult and expensive to implement, the concept still tickles my fancy. Anyway, Terrafugia has a machine that would probably be more correctly called a drive-able aircraft than a "flying car", but they do have a working prototype and will be debuting it at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. Cool.

Big Brother's Potential New Toy

It's sobering to understand how many of the components of all the "dystopian future"-type novels are either with us now, or are pretty conspicuously visible just over the horizon. Even more so when you realize how we tend to make a bit of a fuss at first, then usually just go with the status quo; the unacceptable becomes accepted. I shouldn't need to spell out examples, if you sit and think for a moment you can come up with your own list.

Well, here's another item with great potential - a "speech jamming" device. It uses a delay effect, which causes many people to become unable to speak while it is working, and it can be used at a distance. You may have encountered this effect yourself (I have), when using Skype or something similar if you are speaking and also hearing yourself in your headset, but with your voice delayed by a short time - it's very hard to continue to talk.
ExtremeTech

Windows 8 Login Oddity

Lots of stories flying around about Windows 8 since the Consumer Preview was made publicly available for download; people hate it, people love it, it's the end of Microsoft, etc. This one is bit more practical though, and it will be interesting to find out the answer; the WSJ's Amit Agarwal found there is apparently a 15-character limit to logon passwords in the Preview version. He is unsure if it's just a UI bug, or an actual limit - although the latter would seem kind of odd.
Digital Inspiration

What Is It With Italians And Radio Transmission?

I don't know, but those Mediterranean folk seem to have a special affinity for that particular part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Since their fellow countryman Marconi got the whole ball of wax rolling back in 1895 (before even I was born!), radio transmissions have been limited in a way that this latest discovery may blow away, potentially allowing much more bandwidth on the already congested frequency allotments.
Theregister

60GB SSD Round-Up

As usual, Tom's Hardware rolls more information into one article than most of us normally glean from an entire magazine. This time, it is a look at 60GB SSD boot drives using the popular "SandForce" controller. This technology can allow some manufacturers to use slightly lower-quality memory in an effort to keep prices down, while still giving good performance. Although SSD prices have fallen pretty dramatically of late, there is still a bit of a price barrier for Scrooges like me to overcome before we ditch the good old rotating platters we have come to know and love (or hate).
Toms Hardware

"Mastered For iTunes" - Maybe Marketing Malarky?

Apple has been talking up their "Mastered For iTunes" project, where audio files are made available with better quality that the "standard" AAC files. However, there is some doubt being cast upon the whole thing, in particular the article linked below cites a recording engineer and a mastering engineer who both have a less than enthusiastic opinion. My old ears probably couldn't tell the difference now anyway - MP3s and such usually sound fine to me - but I still don't like the idea of being misled.
Techeye 

Your Data Is Not Your Own (Example # 1,267)

You don't still really think that stuff you do on or around the web is "private" do you? Even I buried that concept in my mind many moons ago - there's just too much revenue to be generated from valuable user data (likes, dislikes, patterns of behavior) for web companies to ignore it. It's like dangling a big slab of steak in front of a Lion - Simba can't help himself. It's just too juicy (and convenient) to ignore. The latest crinkle is that reportedly "...popular smartphone applications can access users’ text messages amongst other personal data, even when that phone is not being used"
Zdnet

Lytro Camera Is All Kinds Of Cool

Talk about "thinking out of the box" - who would have the imagination to envision a camera that allows you to take images that can be focused after the fact? Lytro, that's who! They refer to the images as "living pictures", and while they don't move like "Harry Potter" snapshots, it's still impressive that these images, once taken, can be manipulated in seemingly impossible ways. Walt Mossberg takes a look at the link below.
Allthingsd

Never Mind Windows 8, How About MS Flight?

Microsoft is offering a free download of Microsoft Flight that allows you to fly around Hawaii. I haven't downloaded it yet - although I will - and I suspect you may be prompted more than once to pony up for the "real thing". Still, it sounds cool!
Coolthingoftheday