Showing posts from May, 2014

Just For Laffs


Buy A Tablet, Get Free Windows 8.1

Taking a page out of the Google playbook, Microsoft lures OEMs with a free version of Windows that defaults to the Bing search engine, helping them build lower-cost Windows devices.
Android is essentially free for device makers that want to build products based on Google's mobile operating system. Incidentally, Android is tightly integrated with several major Google services, including Gmail, Maps and, of course, Google Search.

Now, Microsoft is following suit.

After months of rumors, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant officially took the wraps off Windows 8.1 with Bing. The zero-cost licensing program is Microsoft's way of helping the company's "hardware partners build lower cost Windows devices," according to spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc.
Read the rest of "Microsoft Offering Tablet Makers 'Free' Windows 8.1 With Bing" at

Hey, How About A Sub-$100 Laptop?

A new laptop computer for less than one hundred dollars? Yes, there is such a beast, and as you would expect there are some caveats - it runs Android, for one thing, and has a lower-resolution screen at 1024x600 pixels. However, the Y10D laptop does have a touch screen, dual-core processor and a full keyboard - so you do get something for less than $100. You can also add additional storage via an SD card.


Ubuntu 14.04 And The Steam Installation Faux Pax

The release of Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) brought Long Term Support (LTS) as well as some other features, such as the ability to install the Steam gaming platform from the software center. However, the realization of this appears to be rather shoddy, and one hopes Canonical will fix this quickly as it smacks a bit of "amateur hour" - particularly as the Steam availability might draw in some new folk to the Ubuntu fold. The Linux Action Show #309 pointed out four main issues when trying to install Steam from the Software Center:
1 - two Steam items are shown, one of which is broken 2 - the install process refers to purchasing Steam (which is actually free) 3 - it also requires an Ubuntu One account (which is being discontinued)
4 - if you download the Steam .deb package from Valve, double clicking on it will launch the Software Center, which then will not complete the installation
These are all pretty dumb errors and just feed confusion and uncertainty, and should be readil…

Automated Monitoring, Automated Screw-Ups

We recently covered a story about a lawyer who found himself approached by cops with guns drawn after an automatic license plate reader misread a single character on his plate as he drove by. The police did make an attempt to verify the plate but were stymied by heavy traffic. Unfortunately, it appears they decided to force the issue rather than let a potential car thief escape across the state line.

As I pointed out then, the increasing reliance on ALPRs, combined with the one-billion-plus records already in storage and the millions being collected every day, means the number of errors will only increase as time goes on -- even as the technology continues to improve. This person was lucky to escape with nothing more than an elevated heart rate. Others won't be so lucky... like Denise Green of San Francisco.
Read the rest of "Another Bogus Hit From A License Plate Reader Results In Another Citizen Surrounded By Cops With Guns Out" at TechDirt

iFixit - Scratch That DIY Itch

iFixit is a site that gathers up resources allowing you to unleash your inner desire to DIY - Do It Yourself. Computers, cellphones, autos, toasters, guitar amps, whatever; iFixit will likely have a guide to help you, and sourcing for replacement parts. iFixit is a global community of people helping each other repair things. Let's fix the world, one device at a time. You bought it, you should own it. Period. You should have the right to use it, modify it, and repair it wherever, whenever, and however you want. Defend your right to fix. iFixit 

Internet Of Things = Internet Of Ads

Google is looking ahead to a future in which ads are served up on any number of “smart” devices in your home, in your car and on your body.

In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission the company makes its case for not breaking out ad revenue performance by mobile devices in part by saying the definition of “mobile” is continually morphing and it could soon include serving ads on any number of devices beyond the smartphone, tablet and desktops of today:
We expect the definition of “mobile” to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market. For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.
Read the rest of "Google Eyes Future For Enhanced Campaigns: Ads On Thermostats, Wearables, Refrigerators And More" at

When CGI Really Had That "Wow!" Factor

The use of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) in movies can be both a blessing and a curse. It can present us with incredible scenes that would be otherwise impossible to achieve, or it can pull you right out of the moment if sloppily done. These days, we may even be a bit passé about CGI effects - but not so very long ago, before the year 2000, CGI was still rare and novel enough to make us gape. Take a look at the top 10 CGI moments in movies prior to 2000:

When Is Windows XP Not Windows XP?

When it's a Linux distribution that looks an awful lot like XP. Not sure I would endorse this, if only for the fact that there is currently not a live CD version so you can try it on your hardware before installing - but it is "lightweight" and less susceptible to security issues that XP now is. Right from the start you will notice the Windows XP resemblance, and the developers have made a great job imitating Microsoft's operating system. Someone less savvy in computers won't be able to really tell the difference.

The distribution comes with a number of applications already installed, like Konqueror, but users can also install Google Chrome, DebApps (manage and install applications from Debian repositories), Virtualbox Guest Additions optimized drivers for those who run inside VirtualBox, and Application Server / Client (accelerated application terminal server and client).

A very important package that users might consider installing is the Look Switcher, which wil…

Interstellar Trailer Looks...Stellar

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar now has a full trailer, that has been showing with Godzilla - and it's looking good:

Net Neutrality Nonsense

I'll be honest; I am so sick of the phrase "Net Neutrality" I could stick a fork in my eye. It's one of those topics that has risen to the level where one side yells "black!" and the other "white!", and there is little or no actual meaningful discussion. The sides are lined up and they are not moving. What's worse, there is not a damn thing I can do about it; I am at the mercy of these yo-yos, and will be left with whatever (probably crappy) "solution" they come up with.
...yesterday's FCC vote concerning the NPRM on "open internet" rules was really just the start of the process. A lot of people seem confused by this -- and part of the problem is really the FCC. Tom Wheeler keeps insisting that the rules are designed to protect net neutrality and the open internet, but as lots of people keep pointing out, the rulemaking he's proposing would likely do the opposite. Because of that, you get a ton of confusion, perhaps…

Fade To Blu (Ray)

The Blu-ray optical disc format, once a bastion of hope for reviving the home entertainment industry, is struggling to survive under the assault of video-on-demand and downloads.

In a new financial forecast, Sony has warned of heavy losses primarily due to its exit from the PC business and because "demand for physical media [is] contracting faster than anticipated."

In two weeks, Sony will announce its financial results. The company expects to post a net loss.

A report released earlier this year by Generator Research showed revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years.

By comparison, online movie revenue is expected to grow 260% from $3.5 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 2018, the report states.
Read the rest of "Bye-bye, Blu-ray: Video-on-demand and streaming options are gaining on you." at ComputerWorld

Yahoo! Email To Require Up-To-Date Browser For All Features

Yahoo has announced that it will limit access to its services for users with older web browsers.
An announcement on the Yahoo blog on Thursday said that only the two most recent iterations of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari will be supported at any given time, starting from 5 June.
From that date, heritage browsers will receive only the basic Yahoo Mail interface, which limits many of the features offered in the most up-to-date edition. Starting today, affected users will receive a splash screen notification on login, giving instructions on how to upgrade to a more modern web browser.
Read the rest of "Yahoo Mail cuts support for older web browsers" at

The Beats Goes On

The news that Apple apparently intends to buy Beats Electronics for over 3 beeeellion dollars seems to be flummoxing the pundits and bloggers, and it's kind of fun to see them all sputtering and stuttering, struggling to find "the reason". One things is certain; that Beats founder, rapper, producer and entrepreneur Dr Dre did GOOD. Some say it's because Apple is "afraid" for its music mindshare. Or it's because Apple wants to fight Spotify. Maybe it's because people are buying a pair of headphones that "replaced white earbuds as a status symbol." It's because Apple wants to maintain its cachet with the youth of today. It's about reaching out to Android users. It's because Beats investors are looking to make a quick buck. It's an April Fools' joke with the wrong date on it. It's a completely unfathomable mystery, like crop circles or Stonehenge. The upshot is that nobody really knows what Apple is thinking, though tha…

Employee Fraud At The EPA (aka Your Tax Dollars NOT Working)

The new get-rich-quick-scheme is this: go to work for the US government.

Or rather, go to "work" for the US government.

Or, screw it... let's not even go to work.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has just released the results of an investigation into employee fraud at the EPA. The environment, which seems to actually be in need of protecting, is being "overseen" by employees that can't even be bothered to show up for work. (via Reason Hit & Run)
[An] EPA manager [...] allowed an employee to stay at home and not report for duty for several years... [T]his EPA manager not only entered fraudulent time-and-attendance records for the absent employee but also approved the same fraudulent records. It is estimated that the manager's approval of fraudulent time-and-attendance records cost the government more than $500,000... Read the rest of "To Succeed At EPA: Watch Tons Of Porn, (Don't) Work From Home, Or Pretend You're A Secret Agent&qu…

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace ... Thing

Oh boy, this one is a doozy.

The U.S government is going to start testing its new and well-thought-out identity consolidation program. It's the NSTIC (National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace), and it basically works like an online Uncle Sam-approved driver's license. What a great idea! Absolutely nothing could possibly go wrong. At all.

It's not as though our trusted Uncle Sam has a near-omnipotent arm of data-hungry spy weenies with a track record for abusing their powers that's so long and awful it makes me sprint to the liquor cabinet whenever I think about it. Or that government sites, networks, and databases like the U.S. Navy or the Department of Energy (to name only a very, very few) are about as safe as a dinner party at Kim Jong-Un's house. Or that the same people who are supposed to protect our most valuable data -- like, say, the IRS -- couldn't be bothered to upgrade their non-secure desktop OS (Windows XP, which now stands for eXtra Po…

Happy Birthday, BASIC!

10 LET "date" = "1st May 1964"
20 LET "place" = "Dartmouth College, New Hampshire"
30 PRINT "John G Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz designed BASIC"

BASIC was designed to allow users of the Dartmouth college timesharing mainframe to write programs, even if they weren't fluent in the computer programming languages of the day.
Like all good languages it had a diverse derivation, a mixture of Fortran and Algol 60 with a few other influences thrown in. As its popularity grew, a range of dialects emerged, ranging from Sinclair BASIC, where each command was assigned its own key on the keyboard, to Microsoft BASIC, which was installed on many early IBM and IBM compatible personal computers, what we know today as the PC.
Read the rest of "BASIC is 50 years old" at TheInquirer