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Showing posts from May, 2012

Windows 8 Preview Out And About

A few days ahead of schedule, the Windows 8 Preview version is out, with some changes from the earlier Consumer Preview. This latest look should be very close to what the Windows 8 final release actually offers. Personally I just uninstalled the "dual boot" Consumer Preview I had on my notebook today, and don't really have any intention of installing the newer version - I wasn't a fan, let's put it like that. BGR

Flame FAQ

The good folks over at H-Online, the German-based security site, have a great write-up on the Flame malware that has been talked about so much recently. As usual, they get down to the nitty-gitty and correct some misconceptions that have arisen on the Web over the last week or so. This is actually very user-friendly article, as they can sometimes get into the weeds a little in their analysis. H-Online

Your Tax Dollars At Work

I am not a tin-foil hat guy, I'm really not - but this kind of stuff still gives me the heebie-jeebies:

While the FBI has been tight-lipped about the creation of its Domestic Communications Assistance Center, or DCAC -- it declined to respond to requests made two days ago about who's running it, for instance -- CNET has pieced together information about its operations through interviews and a review of internal government documents. DCAC's mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order. It's also designed to serve as a kind of surveillance help desk for state, local, and other federal police. Cnet

Cyber-warfare Becoming Reality

I personally dislike the "cyber-" prefix; it seems both lazy and overused. Regardless, the notion of Cyber-warfare (politically motivated hacking for spying and sabotage) does seem to be coming to pass before our eyes. In the larger arena, there is the whole "Anonymous" and "Wikileaks" phenomena; more specifically, in recent times we have had malware like Stuxnet, Duku and now Flame. On the hardware side, we have the reportedly porous, Internet-connected SCADA monitoring our critical infrastructure just begging to be hacked, and now we find that our military may be using at least one Chinese-made chip that has a backdoor. Sounds like the rubber is indeed hitting the road...


LG is unleashing a pretty remarkable new display; a 5 inch, full HD LCD display (1920x1080 pixels), with a 400ppi resolution. This is "better" than both the Apple iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S III, and we should start seeing devices using this screen in the latter part of 2012. TheInquirer

Really Dirty Computer

Okay, the video could have been edited a bit - but it does how you just how nasty computers can get over time. Veritable dust magnets. I bet it didn't work after this either...

Google's Goggles Get (more) Real

I'm sorry, whenever I read about Google's "Project Glass", the phrase "Google Goggles" just pops into my mind. It's juvenile, I know, but I guess I'm a twelve-year-old in a Baby Boomer's body. The latest is that Google employees have been very conspicuously "out and about" lately wearing the (working?) prototypes for all to see and wonder about. A great buzz-generator if nothing else - and they also released the first "real" video from someone presumably wearing these glasses. Disappointingly, it does not show any "hud" information, just a first-person look of the wearer using a trampoline.
Prediction - IF (and it's a big "if") Google can deliver on even half of the promise of this product (an unobtrusive, wearable augmented reality /video recording device) this will be a frickin' monster.

Animated Gifs As Art

Animated .gif images have always had a pretty high "cheese" quotient for me - sure, they can be subtle, but that's usually not the idea. It seemed a bit odd then when I learned that the Photographer's Gallery in London, UK has an exhibition of around 40 animated .gifs. Still, I suppose art is what you say it is...

Go straight to the gifs

Self-Destructing SSD Drive - On Purpose

Remember the old Mission Impossible TV shows, and after Jim Phelps got his mission for the week the little tape recorder hosting the disembodied voice would disappear in a puff of (probably stinky) smoke? Well, how about if someone sold a Solid State Hard Drive that would literally go up in a puff of smoke if you needed to securely destroy whatever data it contained? Yep, someone does that already - RunCore's rather oddly-named "Invincible" model of SSDs, in fact. That's hard core. X-BitLabs

Another New Cheap Computer

VIA is releasing their own cheap PC later this year, following on the heels of Raspberry Pi and the Chinese-built Allwinner thumbdrive computer. The VIA model uses the new Neo-ITX form factor (i.e. really small), but should work with a Mini-ITX or MicroATX chassis. It will run Android 2.3 and have some flash storage and other niceties like USB, ethernet, audio and video. Cool.  Oh, and it's expected to sell for around fifty bucks. Neowin

What Were You Doing At 19 Years Old?

I know what I was doing, and it wasn't pretty (pumping gas after flunking out of Glasgow University's Electronic Engineering program) - but Aisha Mustapha is breaking all kinds of stereotypes in one fell swoop: she is a physics student at an Egyptian university. She has also come up with a better propulsion system for spacecraft: Mustafa said the invention generates energy for space vehicles from electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force, which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy considered as the lowest state of energy. Ummm, yeah, sure - what she said.

Pervasive Tech Myths

I am frequently both jealous and admiring of the articles LifeHacker comes up with, and this one is no exception. There are a bunch of well-known conventions that more often than not don't hold up to scrutiny. Here we have a list of ten time-wasters, and I agree with them all - but quibble slightly with number 1 (I maintain you can realize small performance improvements with some tweaks). LifeHacker


I think we have all had those Windows programs that just will not uninstall, for whatever reason - it's frustrating and time-wasting. Here is another one of those useful tools to help with that situation (any time there are several tools available to fix a problem, you know it happens more than just occasionally). "GeekUninstaller", as reviewed here on "Windows 7 Hacker", sounds like just the ticket - and it's portable and free, so a nice addition to the old thumb drive toolbox.

Another 'Linux Is Dead' Article...

Another article on how Linux is dead on the Desktop, probably something we can stack up beside all the "This is the year of Linux" articles. I used Linux Mint on my laptop for about a year, and it was great - no complaints. As far as I am concerned, it did everything I needed it to and did it well. The only reason I am not using it now is that I got a new laptop that had Windows 7 installed, and because it used a newer AMD chipset, I was not sure it had Linux support. I suspect I will be loading Linux on it when Windows finally breaks or becomes too slow (which seems to inevitably happen).
Linux on the Desktop is not dead, at least not to me... LinuxToday

Bitcoin Thievery Abounds

Bitcoins - a "decentralized virtual non-government currency" (a concept that I am still not entirely comfortable with) - are apparently just as susceptible to online thievery as everything else. This is not shocking news to me. The latest reported theft was from the Bitcoinica site and represented almost $90,000 of value, and follows up on a larger theft a couple of months ago. Not only that, but this time the baddies also lifted a bunch of usernames and email addresses, so now they can follow up with some nice targeted phishing attacks. Lovely. H-Online

OpenDNS DNSCrypt

This is still in a preview state for Windows and Mac systems, but it seems like a neat idea to minimize your exposure to man-in-the middle attacks by using OpenDNS for domain name resolution in conjunction with their software DNSCrypt. Looks very simple to use - and that's good; "regular folk" won't use something that involves a lot of "fiddling about". ghacks

Some XBMC Lovin'

I have posted before about nailing together a dedicated media center computer using XBMCBuntu - a slimmed-down Ubuntu Linux installation with XMBC ready to go. Basically, grab an old PC and a suitable (cheap) video card, and load up XBMCBuntu. It's great fun and I have really enjoyed playing with it. Today, I saw not one but TWO posts concerning XBMC, and both were actually quite interesting - I already installed the Hulu plugin from the second article. Excellent!
LifeHacker - make XBMC easier to use for non-geeks
HowToGeek - how to get Hulu and Amazon video on XBMC

"Avengers" Busts The US Box Office Record

The Marvel Avengers movie, directed by Joss Whedon, will break the previous US opening weekend box office record held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - and likely break it by quite a bit at over $200 million. The movie already opened in other parts of the world and has been doing boffo business there too. I have seen it, and can only say "Joss Whedon is The Man"; Firefly/Serenity, Buffy, now this - c'mon. LATimes

Now THAT's A Neat Computer

This is a couple of years old, and it's just a concept - but what great idea. With the technology of OLEDs and the like, this couple be quite practical pretty soon. I am usually not that impressed by "concept" stuff, as it often smacks of someone just trying to be cool - but this seems like a well thought out idea. Yankodesigns

History of Computer RPGs In Pictures

I admit I am not an RPG (role playing game) person, but I do see the attraction and the immersive quality of the genre. Tom's Hardware has a great look at the graphical side of computer RPG's "through the ages" - and the title photo from the article (below) actually gives an eye-popping comparison. The interesting thing - as I can attest to from memories of playing the original Wolfenstein 3D - is that while better graphics are a lot of fun, if you have a great game to start with then your own imagination can transport you to wherever you need to be. TomsHardware

A "Solar" Blast From The Past

Fascinating article in Arstechnica concerning a massive solar event that created concern and wonder pretty much world-wide in 1859 - yes, that was before I was born. Interesting how the written reports sound more like prose that news sound bites.
At that time almost the whole southern heavens were in a livid red flame, brightest still in the southeast and southwest. Streamers of yellow and orange shot up and met and crossed each other, like the bayonets upon a stack of guns, in the open space between the constellations Aries, Taurus and the Head of Medusa—about 15 degrees south of the zenith.

There's Gold In Them Thar Macs!

The last flurry of malware activity on the Mac platform is a shadow of things to come, if you follow the money. Apparently Mac malware is pretty lucrative, and Apple holds around 12% of the PC market currently - which is pretty close to what is often considered the tipping point at which it really become worth it for the bad guys to start working over the users of a particular platform. NYtimes