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Showing posts from November, 2013

Full-Size Millenium Falcon Ready For Episode VII

I am hopeful yet understandably wary about the prospect of another Star Wars feature film trilogy. The original 1977 Star Wars was just great, a wonderful memory from my young adulthood. I enjoyed the sequels, but was deeply disappointed by the "prequels". Frankly, I felt the shark-jumping was underway when the Ewoks showed up in the Return of The Jedi, and my fears were confirmed when Jar-Jar Binks shuffled on screen in the first prequel. I can only hope that something of the flavor of the original movie is recaptured in this new trilogy, the first episode of which should show up in the Summer of 2015. One good piece of news is that apparently a full-size Millenium Falcon (with interiors) has been built, hopefully signalling an acknowledgement that while CGI is wonderful, it does not need to be used for everything. According to Yahoo‘s inside sources, Han Solo’s always unreliable “fastest ship in the galaxy” is already built and sitting ready for when production moves to Lo…

Untangling Wireless Printing

Wireless printing is one of those great ideas that lacks something in actual implementation. The thought of being able to access a printer without a cable being involved is appealing, and the technology is pretty cool. However, a lot of different standards make the whole thing more complex than it should be. This is always a problem with new technology; more than one manufacturer comes up with a solution to a perceived problem, and confusion ensues. HowToGeek has a new article that goes over the different approaches and what may work best for you. The wireless printing space is a bit of a mess, and is unnecessarily confusing. However, the good part is that these standard aren’t mutually exclusive. You can easily get a new printer that supports standard Wi-Fi printing, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and the printer manufacturer’s own solution. Then, you can choose the type or printer connection that works for you on whatever device you’re using at the time. HowToGeek

How To Disable WiFi Protected Setup (WPS), And Why You Should

WPA2 with a strong password is secure as long as you disable WPS. You’ll find this advice in guides to securing your Wi-Fi all over the web. Wi-Fi Protected Setup was a nice idea, but using it is a mistake.

Your router probably supports WPS and it’s likely enabled by default. Like UPnP, this is an insecure feature that makes your wireless network more vulnerable to attack.

Most home users should be using WPA2-Personal, also known as WPA2-PSK. The “PSK” stands for “pre-shared key.” You set up a wireless passphrase on your router and then provide that same passphrase on each device you connect to your WI-Fi network. This essentially gives you a password that protects your Wi-FI network from unauthorized access. The router derives an encryption key from your passphrase, which it uses to encrypt your wireless network traffic to ensure people without the key can’t eavesdrop on it.

This can be a bit inconvenient, as you have to enter your passphrase on each new device you connect. Wi-FI Prote…

The International Space Station Is 15 Years Old, Still Going

I sometimes forget that we have had a real, live, working space station in Earth orbit for 15 years now. For a concept that was purely an imaginative fiction for many years (albeit convincingly portrayed in the 1968 movie "2001: A Space Odyssey"), the impressive NASA collaboration is now treated in a blasé manner. Such is the march of technology; we will likely realize in a few years that we have quietly inserted humanoid robots among us to help us with various mundane or perilous tasks... The ISS is the only lab we have for carrying out sustained scientific research in zero-gravity conditions, and there are now five dedicated modules of the station that are purely for research. So far at least 1,500 scientific studies have been carried out in space, and the results are being used back here on Earth by the 69 countries that have taken part. TheRegister


Just For Fun...

WinPatrol - A Windows Virtual Guard Dog

WinPatrol (free) and WinPatrol Plus have been around for years, as a host intrusion prevention utility. It's not an antivirus as such, but the program monitors what's going on in various areas of your Windows PC, and actually barks (it's kinda cute) when something may need attention. It's always been something I would hesitate to recommend to novice PC users as it can be overwhelming in the amount of information it covers. It is a very useful program though, and works well. The new versions of Win Patrol (free and "Plus"), as reviewed by PCWorld, have streamlined the alerts so you don't hear about non-essential events, which seems like a good move if done prudently. It works on Windows XP through Windows 8. For example, past versions would notify you when a legitimate program was added to your Startup program list. The latest version will notify you when a higher level of activity—typically signifying some sort of malicious intent—is detected. WinPatro…

NSA Google Fiber Hacking - Yep, It's Worse Than You Thought

The recent revelation from the seemingly bottomless Edward Snowden pile-o-secrets concerned the NSA intercepting traffic from Google's high speed fiber network. Because this only happened on data outside the US, we assumed it was for spying on foreign interests, which seemed "sort of okay" as a policy for the US security arm. Not so fast, Skippy. Because of the nature of Google's data network infrastructure, a BIG can of worms has been opened up, allowing the NSA a sort of weird plausible deniability. I don't know about you, but I find all this pretty discouraging. Data replication, which is there for reasons of both performance and fault tolerance, means that when the GCHQ in London is accessing the Google data center there, they have access to all Google data, not just Google’s UK data or Google’s European data. All Google data for all users no matter where they are is reachable through any Google data center anywhere, thanks to the Google File System.

This knoc…

Google Chrome Malware Blocking Getting Better

The Chrome browser already has some malware blocking capability thanks to Google's Safe Browsing program, and they also recently made available a "reset" function (similar to that already in Internet Explorer). Now they have a more active malware blocking feature available in the testing (Canary) channel - meaning it should soon be available in the regular, publicly-available version. In the current Canary build of Chrome, we’ll automatically block downloads of malware that we detect.  This is in addition to the 10,000 new websites we flag per day with Safe Browsing, which also detects and blocks malicious downloads, to keep more than 1 billion web users safe across multiple browsers that use this technology. Keeping you secure is a top priority, which is why we’re working on additional means to stop malicious software installs as well. None of these sorts of solutions are perfect of course, but it's good to see that at least some efforts are being made to keep up wi…