Showing posts from April, 2012

Layers of Cloud

This is a very interesting idea from instant fundas, and as a matter of fact I set it up today with Dropbox and SkyDrive (I have had a Hotmail account for years, so was eligible for the 25GB allowance on SkyDrive). What the article describes is basically running some combination of two or more cloud backup products, so you end up with pretty impressive redundancy.

With free account allowances of 2GB from Dropbox, 5GB for GoogleDrive and up to 25GB for SkyDrive, there is potential for an interesting set up. I ended up moving my Dropbox inside my SkyDrive folder...
instant fundas

One in Five Want Self-Drive cars

A J.D. Power and Associates survey indicates that 20% of those surveyed "definitely would" or "probably would" want this feature in their next car. I for one would like a flying car, but that's just me. The systems that are available now - or will be shortly - are being pitched as "driver assistance" systems; backup collision alarms, cruise control with automated distance detection (so you don't run into the car in front), and mechanisms that keep sleepy drivers from dozing off. But it seems that quite soon we may be looking at a more literal "self driving" car. It's going to be very interesting to see how the lawyers handle that one. BGR

Thinking Out Of The Box

I enjoy it when someone comes up with an idea that really makes me think "how did they come up with that?". A great example of that would be a camera that gives you a description of the scene you just snapped. In words. Whoa, wait - what? Yep, the prototype device will spit out a thermally printed description of what was photographed, after a couple of minutes. Now, reminiscent of the gadgets in the Flintstones, there is actually someone who looks at the photo and then types a description, and that is what the camera prints out.  NYTimes
Now if you went really bonkers - and this part is my contribution - how about a pair of wireless glasses for the visually impaired? The wearer is standing on a street and triggers a built-in camera on the glasses; the scene is analyzed via a data network connection (and ultimately I guess the analysis could be done by computer) and the description is verbalized back to the wearer "You are standing across the street from the XYZ City Ho…

Windows 8 On The Desktop

This is a really in-depth review of Windows 8 after several weeks of pretty intensive use from Peter Bright at ArsTechnica. I have only used Windows 8 personally for (maybe) 10-12 hours all told, but a lot of the things I initially came away with are echoed here, but with a better perspective through extended use. Lots of screenshots and things - and some great comments from the readers, too.

It's still a puzzle to me that Microsoft, with the resources they have, seem to be still struggling a bit with the Windows UI. I guess maybe they get committed to a concept, and when the juggernaut starts picking up speed it's hard to change course. It will be interesting to see what tweaks have been made when the next beta is released

Henry Ford Says


SUSE Studio

No, not the Genesis song (sorry, oblique boomer reference), but this is a very cool-sounding idea where you can tailor make your own SUSE Linux distribution online. You can also test it online, and of course download it as needed. You can even brand your version. Crikey.

Props to my co-worker Ryan ( @ryan_koch ) who pointed this out to me.

Early Talk On Windows 9

Tech writers being the news-hungry creatures they are, there are already stories about what we might see in Windows 9 - even though Windows 8 is not even for sale yet. The story below in particular caught my eye, as it reflects upon what Windows RT (the version for ARM-powered devices) might portend. The writer suggests it might be the opportunity for Microsoft to make a major break from legacy applications, and it's also interesting that it's the only SKU that is not available as an installable product - it only comes pre-installed on hardware. ITProPortal

Another "Duh!" Moment

With advancing age there seem to come more "Duh!" moments - or in the current Internet parlance, "Derp!" moments. The other evening our daughter complained she could not get an Internet connection. All of the attached devices in our house are wireless, except the "main" computer - which was working fine, as were the other computers. It was apparently not a problem with our actual Internet connection.
After some standard fiddling around, I remembered I also had some wireless problems with a different computer a couple days before (which worked fine the next day). Neither that one nor my daughter's PC were responding to the "normal" things; repairing the connection, rebooting, etc. After some head scratching and grumbling, it dawned on me that I had restricted the number of wireless connections on our LAN from the default 255 in the router settings; after a quick finger count of computers, game systems, an iPhone and a Kindle, I realized we s…

Digital Music - Lossless Or Not?

Lifehacker comes up with an amazing number of interesting articles, and the following is no exception; can you tell the difference between "lossless" and "lossy" recorded music? With my tired old ears it's touch and go, but take a look (and listen) and see if things like FLAC or Apple's higher-fi recordings are worth it for you.

A Numbers Game - Why Mac Malware Is On The Rise

Why are Apple PCs being increasingly targeted by malware while they are still less than 10% of the PC population? There is a formula that comes into play, and when the magic numbers are reached - here comes the malware.
...for years, it was believed that Apple’s low market share would protect it from online evildoers. Why waste time coding a virus for Apple’s tiny sliver of users when a much vaster sea of vulnerable Windows machines was waiting to be infected and hijacked for click fraud, denial of service attacks or credit card theft?Forbes

Raspberry Pi? Aye!!

The "Raspberry Pi" PC - a teeny-tiny single board computer aimed at the more geeky among us - is selling like hot cakes, or "pi", or whatever other metaphor you want to stick in there. The first batch of 10,000 of the $35 computers sold out in minutes, and pre-orders are heading towards the half million mark. Everybody likes Pi.

Official: Windows 8 to be known as...Windows 8

Microsoft has let the cat out of the bag, and Windows 8 will in fact be known as, well,  "Windows 8". Everyone has been calling it that for a long time, but the folks at Redmond only now officially acknowledged the moniker. I was secretly hoping for some weird off-the-wall name to actually surface at the last minute, but alas, no.
Windows 8 Server will be referred to as Server 2012, and the other three versions will be Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT (the latter is the version that will run on ARM powered platforms). Windowsteamblog

Apple Mac Flashback Dwindling

The widely-report "Flashback" Java exploit is being tamed - although perhaps not as quickly as hoped, according to anti-virus maker Symantec. They estimate current infections now at about 140,000 systems, down from around 600,000 at the height of the problem.

People Are Often Knuckleheads

A pretty obvious statement, it's true - and it was ever thus. With the ubiquity of phone cameras and sites like YouTube, it's just a lot easier to get your "fix" of this behavior these days. To wit, the video below, where a bikini-clad young woman joins other like-minded folk to get a blast from the jet engines at the coveniently-placed runway of the St. Maarten airport. She seems to be at least conscious shortly after the event...

My Slow Road To A Media Center PC - Journey's End

In my last post concerning this mini-saga, I was in a dither because I now had a snappy display but no audio through the HDMI connection to our TV. Ugh. I did muck about with some command-line Linux stuff and this thread was actually very helpful, but was not the ultimate solution in my case. I confess I weakened for a time, and did consider just bypassing the HDMI cable and using some computer speakers for audio. I also thought about loading up Windows instead and running the XBMC application that way.

However, the final solution was pretty straightforward, and I did want to stay with the Linux-based XBMCbuntu for a few reasons; Linux works well on older hardware, and I feel it's quite a stable platform once it's configured. Also, the XBMCbuntu setup is built for the specific purpose of running the Media Center application, and it works well as far as I have seen.

My fix for the audio issue ultimately turned out to be as simple as removing a second sound card from the compute…

Metro UI Is Here To Stay For A While

The Metro User Interface, which started on Windows phones and is featured front and center in Windows 8, looks to also be coming to Microsoft's online offerings such as Skydrive and Hotmail. I have mixed feelings about this - the online presence seems fine, but I didn't enjoy my Windows 8 demo experience very much. I still have a hard time seeing that as a Desktop OS - a tablet OS maybe, but on the Desktop?

My Slow Road To A Media Center PC - 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Since my previous post on this project, I got a video card on sale for less than $30 (my kinda money) with an Nvidia chipset, 512GB DDR3 RAM, HDMI out, etc. I put the card in, installed the proprietary Nvidia drives and ... it works really well. Smooth menus and transitions, and while I have not tried any movie-length files yet, hi-def videos and streaming look great. This is on a 5-year-old computer with a 2.53Gz single core Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM and a hardly-cutting-edge video card.

BUT, no audio. Aaaarrrggghh  - frustrating that I am very close, but yet not quite there. I was so disappointed that the video was so ghastly before the new video card, that I never even noticed that the audio was not working. Sound worked fine via HDMI when I had tried XBMC running as an application on my laptop, and for some reason it just did not occur to me there would be a problem running XBMC from Ubuntu Linux.

I hope I don't have to do too much mucking about with ALSA configurati…

WordPress Plugin Is A Must Have

I'm afraid I can't recall where I fist saw this plugin mentioned, but I owe them some kind of props. It's one of those things that is very simple, yet very useful. The Limit Login Attempts plugin does just that, and therefore makes it much harder for baddies to brute force their way into your WordPress admin panel. This is for use with WordPress sites you are hosting, or have someone host for you; as far as I know, you can't use plugins on the free sites.
By default WordPress allows unlimited login attempts either through the login page or by sending special cookies. This allows passwords (or hashes) to be brute-force cracked with relative ease.

Limit Login Attempts blocks an Internet address from making further attempts after a specified limit on retries is reached, making a brute-force attack difficult or impossible.
Author Site

Angry Birds Fans, Take Care

For you pig-poppin' folk out there, be aware there is a malware-ridden version of the latest episode of the insanely popular game making the rounds, according to the game's makers, Rovio. AV maker Sophos has more detailed report on their site.

Apple's Reluctant Response to Flashback

Apple seems to be having a really tough time admitting that malware can gain access to their OS X platform, regardless of whether it is directly via the OS or not. Apple has gone to some lengths to point out that its a Java exploit - but a Java version provided by Apple, not Oracle. Apple just announced they are working on a tool to remove malware served up by the Flashback exploit, and they have also released a couple of updated Java versions to mitigate the risk - although if you are running OS X 10.5 or earlier, apparently you are s.o.l. for now - they recommend that you "disable Java" in your web browser to "better protect" yourself. Not really an on-the-ball or comprehensive response IMHO, as the Windows version of this was addressed in February.

Just man up Apple; you have a cool OS and everything, but it's not completely cootie-resistant.

My Slow Road To A Media Center PC - Part Deux

Following up on my previous post,  I got the old PC out of the closet (formerly my PC, then my daughter's, and now mine again by default), used most of a can of compressed air to de-clog it (cough, sneeze), and loaded up XBMCbuntu. XBMCbuntu is XBMC nailed on top of an Ubuntu distribution, and it loaded very nicely, with no drama. I was able to easily set up the wireless card and even the $20 wireless keyboard I had picked up. But alas, when XBMCbuntu fired up, I was greeted to a goppingly slow UI.

I mean "press-a-key-and-wait-three-or-four-seconds-for-something-to-happens" kinda slow.

Hmmm. The computer is older, but it's not a 486 or something. After some head scratching, I realized the video card did not support OpenGL 2.0, so XBMC was using a software renderer. Ugh. Well, I guess I need a less ancient video card. So near, yet so far...

Video Game Glitches

Remember in "Space Invaders" how the Alien Spacecraft got quicker when there were fewer of them? I always figured it was part of the game - but no, turns out it was a hardware limitation! The little buggers were supposed to attack at the same speed all the time. has some fun videos showing several favorite video game glitches.

Queen "Golden Orb" Gift Set

As a card-carrying Old Fart, I am of course a big fan of "Queen" - particularly the first five or six albums. That said, even I would be a little hesitant to plunk down some pretty major coin for this rather unusual 40th anniversary set of Queen music. I'm not even sure if it's tacky or sublime:

Mac Flashback Malware Fix

Not surprisingly, quite a lot has been written about the supposedly half million or so Apple Macs infected with the "Flashback" malware. However, there did not appear to be much information on how to detect it or even fix the situation if you were infected (perhaps a reflection of the somewhat befuddled state of Mac antivirus/antimalware knowledge right now). The good folks at Ars Technica have come up with the goods though, so head on over there if you suspect that your shiny Mac may be hiding something from you...

Flying "Cars" Are Taking Off

One of my favorite geeky dreams is a flying car; I don't know why exactly - I'm scared of heights for one thing. Nevertheless, Blade Runner, Fifth Element, etc. all get my juices going for some reason. But the flying car has been disappointingly earth bound thus far. Now, suddenly there are two "cars" that have actually flown - or at least I am taking these videos at face value. The "car" part is a bit generous, as in one case it's really more of an auto gyro mated with a motor trike. Anyhoo, they can drive on the road and they can fly (with people in them), so...

My Slow Road To A Media Center PC

So, I am working my way - albeit extremely slowly - towards a media center PC. We have the TV, thanks to a great Christmas gift from our in-laws. A month or so ago, I got a wireless N router - not specifically for the media center project, but it will be nice if I do much streaming.

Last week I loaded up XBMC on my laptop to try it out as the basis for a media center set up. XBMC is a free media center application that has a nice, customizable interface that looks good on a TV.

IPV 6 More Different Than I Realized

Interesting article in the Register, with the World IPV6 Launch coming up they bring into focus some of the complexities of the new IP structure. With the explosion of connected devices, of course we need to have a solution to the prospect of simply running out of available IP addresses, which is where IPV6 comes in. However in reading the article, I guess I was less informed than I thought, the article focuses on potential difficulties with things like NATing within small business network set ups.