Showing posts from June, 2014

Facebook's Lab Rats - That's Us

It already knows whether you are single or dating, the first school you went to and whether you like or loathe Justin Bieber. But now Facebook, the world's biggest social networking site, is facing a storm of protest after it revealed it had discovered how to make users feel happier or sadder with a few computer key strokes.

It has published details of a vast experiment in which it manipulated information posted on 689,000 users' home pages and found it could make people feel more positive or negative through a process of "emotional contagion".

Read the rest of "Facebook reveals news feed experiment to control emotions" at TheGuardian

Really Taking It To Consumer Grade SSD Drives

SSD drives are an important technology that can provide fast, quiet and lower-power performance in many different settings. However, they are new enough and different enough that some questions remain about their durability. TechReport has taken it upon themselves to beat the snot out of a half dozen consumer SSD drives to see how they actually hold up - pretty well, actually. At this point, three drives are pushing up daises, and 1 Petabyte of data has been written to the survivors. If you haven't been following along with our endurance experiment, this introductory article is a good starting point. It spends far more time detailing our test methods and system configurations than the brief primer we'll provide here.The premise is straightforward. Flash memory has limited endurance, so we're writing data to a stack of SSDs to see how much they can take. We're checking health and performance at regular intervals, and we're not going to stop until all the drive…

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free - It Might Just Work!

Malwarebytes already makes the well-regarded Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which is my go-to product for malware clean up. Now they have come up with an intriguing and possibly amazing product in Malwarebytes  Anti-Exploit. The purpose of this utility (available in paid and free versions) is to block zero-day exploits in Windows PCs. This almost sounds a little too much like voodoo to me, but PC Magazine seems to like it, and ran some tests that appear to show the product works as advertised, which is pretty remarkable. I will be installing it on our Windows PC, if only based upon my previous experience with their anti-malware product. Zero-day means it's never been seen before, so there's no way a signature could exist. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free, the free, feature-limited version of Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Premium, protects against exploits and doesn't need any signatures. PCMagazine

The (Commercial) Drones Are Coming

We get the sense that drones - or unmanned aerial vehicles - are here to stay, and now the FCC has issued it's first commercial license for drone operation in US airspace.  The first license was issued to BP, which will use the AeroVironment RQ-20A Puma AE to “survey BP pipelines, roads and equipment” in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The Puma AE is a hand-launched drone that was originally designed for military applications, but is now also being used in the private sector. The 13.5-pound drone has a length of 4.6 feet and a wingspan of 9.2 feet. In can travel at up to 51 mph, has an operating altitude of 500 feet, and can stay aloft for 3.5+ hours. DailyTech

The first license was issued to BP, which will use the AeroVironment RQ-20A Puma AE to “survey BP pipelines, roads and equipment” in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The Puma AE is a hand-launched drone that was originally designed for military applications, but is now also being used in the private sector. The 13.5-pound drone has a length o…

The Supercomputer That Just Passed The Turing Test? It Wasn't And It Didn't

So, this weekend's news in the tech world was flooded with a "story" about how a "chatbot" passed the Turing Test for "the first time," with lots of publications buying every point in the story and talking about what a big deal it was. Except, almost everything about the story is bogus and a bunch of gullible reporters ran with it, because that's what they do. First, here's the press release from the University of Reading, which should have set off all sorts of alarm bells for any reporter. Here are some quotes, almost all of which are misleading or bogus: The 65 year-old iconic Turing Test was passed for the very first time by supercomputer Eugene Goostman during Turing Test 2014 held at the renowned Royal Society in London on Saturday. 'Eugene', a computer programme that simulates a 13 year old boy, was developed in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The development team includes Eugene's creator Vladimir Veselov, who was born in Russia a…

We Control The Horizontal And The Vertical (And The On/Off)

Even if you power off your cell phone, the U.S. government can turn it back on.

That's what ex-spy Edward Snowden revealed in last week's interview with NBC's Brian Williams. It sounds like sorcery. Can someone truly bring your phone back to life without touching it?

No. But government spies can get your phone to play dead.

It's a crafty hack. You press the button. The device buzzes. You see the usual power-off animation. The screen goes black. But it'll secretly stay on -- microphone listening and camera recording.

How did they get into your phone in the first place? Here's an explanation by former members of the CIA, Navy SEALs and consultants to the U.S. military's cyber warfare team. They've seen it firsthand.
Read the rest of "How the NSA can 'turn on' your phone remotely" at CNN Money

TuneIn Radio App

TuneIn has become my current favorite streaming radio app. I was using iHeart Radio, which is fine except for one small thing - to go any further than the very basics, you had to login with a social media account. I confess I am still resistant to that, I still don't like sharing all my likes and habits. TuneIn offers a good selection of radio stations and podcasts, which you can search in various ways. You can create an account with TuneIn if you want to save collections of stations etc, but you don't need to in order to just listen to stuff. The Android TuneIn app also seemed to be a little easier to navigate, at least to me. I also like that it has an obvious way to exit the app, unlike iHeartRadio. TuneIn is available as a free app for the usual platforms, Android, Apple, Windows Phone, etc. Listen to over 100,000 real radio stations and more than four million podcasts streaming from every continent. Explore and follow the best in sports, news, music and talk to create yo…

Some Help For The Family IT Person

The world of "IT" (Information Technology) can be a challenging and rewarding place to make a career (I know - I have). Trouble is, when folks know what you do for a living, they understandably tend to bring their computer troubles to you. This can be both flattering and, well, annoying at times. HowToGeek has a helpful article on setting up a relative or friends' PC to minimize the hassle if you have indeed been "contracted" to be their HelpDesk person. It goes through things like configuring limited user accounts, automatic updates and the like so they can't get into too much trouble, and also configuring remote access for when they inevitably do... HowToGeek

Smile - For The NSA

It has been revealed that America's National Security Agent is collecting millions of images of faces from web searches each day. They are reportedly being used to build a sophisticated facial recognition program and are alleged to be accessed through its global surveillance operations including the MYSTIC phone tapping program.

The New York Times reported that documents leaked by Edward Snowden, famed for releasing details of the NSA's snooping on the internet usage of Americans, originating from 2011, show that the NSA is actively intercepting 'millions' of images each day. Of these, around 55,000 are said to be of a sufficient quality to be used for facial recognition.
Read the rest of "NSA harvests millions of images daily to build new facial recognition system" at Neowin