Showing posts from June, 2012

Comparing The Big Three Mobile OSes

Gizmodo has a timely comparison between the features of Apple's iOS 6, Google's Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and Windows Phone 8 from Microsoft. While this is an "on paper" comparison, and not a review after spending time with the products, it's interesting nonetheless. For example, Windows Phone 8 looks to have an advantage as far as mobile payments using Near Field Communication (NFC). Android and Apple both have a lot more apps (quality vs quantity?), and iOS 6 has the much-ballyhooed Siri, of course.

Cloudy, With A Chance Of Email

The small but growing tech company I work for is in the latter stages of moving our slightly creaky Exchange 2003 server's duties to the cloud - Office 365 to be exact. So far, to be honest, it's working quite well. Most of us have a few year's worth of Outlook .pst files that we dutifully uploaded, and we are using our Outlook 2007/2010 clients to access the cloud servers. Of course we can also use the web-based Outlook client that is part of Microsoft Office 365, which appears to be much nicer that the relatively "old school" Outlook Web Access.

Heavy Duty Dramatic License

When TV shows and movies present computer systems or other technology, they usually do so in a manner where people who are actually familiar with the technology involved tend to cringe, or hoot with laughter. Of course, the presentations are usually done for dramatic effect or to move the story along, and viewers typically neither want or need a big set up explaining something arcane like password cracking or IRC. Still, it can be pretty amusing... MakeUseOf

Wireless Vortex Beams!

How cool does that sound?! Currently, the distance over which the insanely high speed wireless transmissions can be sent is small (about a meter) - but they only came up with the concept a few months ago, so who knows where it will end up? American and Israeli researchers have used twisted, vortex beams to transmit data at 2.5 terabits per second.ExtremeTech

Some Future Tech Is Already Here

The movies Blade Runner and Minority Report - both based upon material from science fiction great Philip K. Dick - offer pretty vivid pictures of our future in terms of computers, transportation, language, indeed of society in general. The movies were made 30 years ago and 10 years ago respectively, so how far have we come along the path they portrayed? BBC

Tractor Beams, Baby!

Well, sounds like we could possibly have yet another Star Trek/SciFi staple make it's way into real life - how about a tractor beam that used light? Working with the phenomenon of negative radiation pressure (no, I have no idea either, but it sounds scientific), Very Smart People have produced a paper describing the possibility.

What Happened To The Original Microsoft 'Surface'?

Microsoft did indeed announce another foray into hardware yesterday as rumored, with the introduction of their Surface tablet devices - they looked pretty sweet, actually! Details are a bit skimpy right now, as you might expect, but one thing that struck me was - doesn't Microsoft already have a device named "Surface"?

Yes they do, or at least they did; the original Surface device was a tabletop interface system that has been hanging around for a few years. However, this is now being referred to as PixelSense - I believe PixelSense was the name given to the actual technology used by the (former) Surface device. I still kinda wonder why they re-used the "Surface" name though? This is why I am not in marketing...

Hacking Back

There seems to be a bit of a Wild West attitude at work of late, as hacked companies start "taking things into their own hands" and fighting back with their own hack attacks and other "active defense" means. One can understand the frustration of the companies that were targeted, but as the Reuters article below indicates, the potential for escalation and "collateral damage" increases. Reuters

Fuel Cell Vehicles MIA

I love it when an article answers something that has been nagging at me! For years we have heard that all the hybrids and electric-only cars are just an interim step towards the fuel cell-powered vehicle. These are pure electric vehicles, but instead of plugging in overnight, they call be "refueled" in a few minutes, similar to a conventional gas- or diesel-powered vehicle. They use Hydrogen, that ubiquitous element, as their power source, and leave behind only water and some heat.
Sounds great, so where are they? Well they need infrastructure - a way to deliver the compressed hydrogen - but perhaps more critically they need better catalysts to allow them to work inexpensively, and to have longevity. The article gives a great overview of the catalyst problem. Meanwhile, check out the Top Gear video of James (Captain Slow) May enjoying a Honda Fuel Cell car. ArsTechnica

Beyond Antivirus

The article below addresses a bit of a pet peeve of mine; we see and hear about security breaches all the time, yet it seldom seems that anything is actually done about it. We get profuse apologies from the web site that was hacked, and assurances that "your personal information is important to us" - but then it's rinse and repeat. Well, apparently some people are taking notice and are at least making noises about doing something different...

Application Launcher Round-Up

The folks at HowToGeek have put together a pretty comprehensive compilation of docks and other launchers. Personally, I am a bit stodgy about desktop stuff. I have tried docks before and while they are pretty snazzy, I always seem to uninstall them after a few days. I confess that regardless of whether I am using Windows or Linux, I tend to fall back on the "start-button-and-nested-menu" type of interface. 
I was not too enamored of Ubuntu's recent Unity desktop, and Windows 8 Metro leaves me pretty cold too. It may be because I am not a "power user" in the true sense, and I typically don't have huge numbers of programs installed at once. About the only customization that I regularly use at work is a "virtual screen" utility that gives me three desktops on one monitor - that definitely does help me organize stuff. HowToGeek

Some Else To Worry About

In about 4 billion years from now, the Andromeda galaxy will "collide" (interact is probably a better term) with our Milky Way and a whole of of stuff will be swished around. It's doubtful that our solar system will be destroyed or anything like that, but the night sky will certainly look radically different (and even more beautiful) than is does now. NASA

A Brief (3 mins) History Of Video Games

Very cool video from Neatorama:

Google's New Security Warning

I don't know if this will actually be helpful, or if it just muddies the waters a little more for "regular users" - and the security waters are as murky as they have ever been right now. On Google's Security Blog, the company announced they will post a "security warning" on user accounts they believe to have either been compromised, or are likely to be the target of "bad actors", as they euphemistically say. They don't go into a lot of details on the hows and whys that one particular account might be at greater risk than another, but it's apparently something they feel the need to do. GoogleOnlineSecurityBlog

Windows Out-Of-Band Security Patch Fixes Rogue Certificates

It's beginning to dawn on me that "Security Certificate" apparently does not mean what I thought it meant - a certification that the software attached to that certificate is secure and trustworthy. Silly me. Not bashing Microsoft on this one - they actually acted pretty quickly. It's a much larger problem than that; there have been several big screw-ups lately, with Certificate Authorities being compromised and worse-than-worthless certificates flying around all over the place.

Windows 8 Not Quite Ready For Work Yet

A guest writer for TheRegister tried to use a Windows 8 laptop at work, with surprisingly mixed results. At this pretty late stage, I would have expected better. It seems to be that Metro Apps are the main stumbling block for now - specifically, the author noted that apparently you need to use them in conjunction with a Live! account, and joining the computer to the local domain seemed to break them. Huh? TheRegister

"Flame" Malware Dissection Continues

After the New York Times article on Stuxnet being a joint US/Israeli project that "escaped", there seems to be redoubled interest in the more recently-discovered (but also several-year-old) Flame malware. Researchers have so far discovered over 80 domain names that hosted command and control servers for the malware. The plot thickens... EWeek

Back To Linux

After removing the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 from my notebook, I replaced it with Linux Mint 13 "Maya" (using the Mate desktop). I now have this set up in a traditional dual boot with Windows 7 - I was pleased that it seems to be fine with the A8 AMD chipset on the laptop. Everything is working; camera, wifi, etc. It's a pleasant reminder of how much I like Linux Mint - the last version I had was 11 on my old notebook, and this one seems that little bit slicker; for a free product, it's pretty remarkable. Also, this notebook is 64-bit, so I have some more RAM available too. I'm liking it! Linux Mint