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Showing posts from December, 2015

AVG Web TuneUp On Google Chrome's Sh*t List

AVG is a well-known and widely-used free antivirus solution, and the company has other products as well, including one which has drawn the ire of the makers of the Google Chrome browser. The AVG Web TuneUp product apparently screwed up some of Chrome's security features.  A Google security researcher filed a bug report with AVG and also sent a snarky email: "I’m really not thrilled about this trash being installed for Chrome users."
Yikes.
ExtremeTech

Ubuntu Linux's 200 Million User Target: Yeah, About That...

I have been a Linux user for several years, and my laptop has run various flavors of Linux during that time, with nary a whiff of Windows. In my case, Linux suits my purpose and does what I need to do - so I am not  hater. 
Having said that, Canonical's stated goal of 200 million Ubuntu users in 4 years has fallen laughably short at the end of 2015 - less than 25% of that number, in fact. Disappointing, to put it mildly.
I suppose if you lump all the Ubuntu-based distros together, you would get a pretty good user base number, but that's not what Canonical had in mind, I am pretty sure; they meant Ubuntu users.
Of course, various Linux incarnations are powering lots of things from Supercomputers to Android devices - just not Ubuntu Desktop systems.

Google Glass 2.0 Ahoy!

Google Glass 2.0 is real enough, even though Google is whistling, looking the other way and keeping quiet on the whole subject. The new "Enterprise" version looks much like the old "Explorer" version, but is foldable this time around.
All of the details we previously reported about the device’s internals have been corroborated by The Wall Street Journal, including its Intel Atom processor, improved battery life, and improved “wireless connectivity” (which includes the addition of a 5 GHz WiFi band for video streaming applications). We also mentioned better heat management which is a result of the new chip, and its improved performance. There’s also a yet-to-be-seen Google-made external battery pack, which attaches to the device magnetically.9to5Google



Ho, Ho, Ho - Merry Christm....What the Heck?!?!

Courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

Let me be the first to welcome our new Reindeer overlords



Microsoft Wants Windows Users To Be Windows Consumers

Windows 10 adoption is doing well, but Microsoft wants it to do better - they have a stated goal of  Windows 10 on one billion devices a couple of years after the initial release. Devices, not just PCs. One assumes Microsoft has some number in mind where Windows 10 makes financial sense for them, and they want to exceed that number quickly.
Although they are "giving away" Windows 10 to most current Windows home users, they are poised to make money from new revenue streams through Windows 10, such as the SaaS (Software As A Service) model for things like Office, and from data mining and advertising revenues.
I believe this is the main reason that Microsoft is being so aggressive in prodding people to upgrade, and why I am pretty sure the free upgrade offer will be extended in 2016.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rekindles Memories

I saw the original Star Wars in Scotland when I was 20 years old, which offically makes me an old fart. I can still recall the real sense of wonder at what I was experiencing on the screen - a fun yarn, with some breathtaking visual effects for the time. The hardware looked real (and used), the environments seemed like real, if alien, places.
The Force Awakens gave me much the same feeling - not exactly, but very close. The story is in some ways very similar to the original, and the impeccable production and visual effects gave me much of that same feeling of real alien locations.

As one who has become a little jaded by CGI and large scale spectacle in so many movies these days, this was almost without exception very, very well done in all respects. A fun story well told, with big emotions and some true spectacle.
Almost worth waiting almost 40 years for, in fact.

Current SSDs Not Quite So Great In The Datacenter

Now that SSDs are showing up in datacenters, some of the shortcomings of the current technology are becoming more apparent in that environment. A couple of biggies are that they operate considerably more slowly in elevated temperatures, and that they don't work well with the structure of most databases.
New technologies are on the way for next year and beyond, though - ZDNET has a good round-up here.
ZDNET

Childhood's End Miniseries Thoughts

The SyFy cable channel (Sharknado!) just concluded it's 3 night miniseries event adapting Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End, which has been one of my favorite books for many years. This was most definitely not Sharknado, rather it was a substantially-budgeted retelling of the original story for a TV audience more than 60 years later.

Netflix Embarks Upon A Bandwidth Diet

Streaming video service Netflix currently accounts for about one third of Internet traffic heading to our homes, and they are looking to significantly slim that down by using smarter compression.  Netflix has already started testing the new encoding system with customers, pushing out some popular videos with re-encoded titles and monitoring their bandwidth usage and streaming duration.The company aims to have a thousand re-encoded titled in its catalog by the holidays and the entire process completed by the end of 2016, Variety reports.Consumerist

Microsoft's Dumb, Dangerous Precendent

The traditional wisdom regarding unsolicited emails, such as it is, encourages you not to open attachments or click on links even if it appears to be from someone you know - you should check with them first, just because email is so easy to spoof.

There was also the admonition that Microsoft would never send out emails with links to patches in them, that these would be handled via Windows updates. Well, for some unknown reason, Microsoft just screwed with that notion by doing just that, regarding their new Universal Mail app. Although it looks like a phishing message, the message is, in fact, from Microsoft. For years, those of us who support Windows customers have admonished people to never click a link in an email message that says it will install a Windows update. "Microsoft would never send you an email with a link to a patch," the saying went -- until Friday anyway. Now, I guess the general advice is "If it looks like the mail came from Microsoft, sure, install what…

The Trek And The Furious

The first Star Trek Beyond trailer is out, and it sure looks like it was directed by the same guy who made Fast and Furious 6, Justin Lin. The trailer is very much action-centric, although with the sneaky things they do with trailers it's hard to know what the tone of the final movie will be. As it stands, it does not look very Star Trek-y, but even that may be okay for a 2016 would-be Summer blockbuster.

Woman Involved In Auto Accident Tattled On By Her Own Car

Our cars are getting smarter, like most other technology; and technology tends to do what we tell it to, and does not engage in "fudging" or equivocation. When a 57-year-old woman's car was involved in a hit skip in Florida, the car's technology did not consider whether it should use it's 911 response to report the incident, even though she herself had fled the scene. She was later arrested. However, in the case of hit-and-run drivers there will be nowhere to hide — as their car may snitch on them. You are automatically linked to a record of a collision’s time, the vehicle involved — and therefore the accompanying registration details — and the location.

Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivy A Thing?

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, or EHS, is characterized by a "variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to electromagnetic fields" (Wikipedia)
This is not a recognized medical disorder and several double-blind tests have indicated that EHS sufferers cannot determine the presence or lack of electromagnetic radiation. And yet one wonders if there is indeed some kind of correlation here, or if it is just a bunch of nervous nellies ascribing random symptoms to this condition (to put it crudely).
In the industrialized world, we do live among a continuous onslaught of all kinds of electromagnetic radiation, both natural and man-made; light, microwaves, radio, TV, WiFi, etc. While the levels of most of these are very low, how low is "low enough" for some people?
MSN

China Wants Robots!

China is looking to replace it's low-skilled workers with robots, as part of that country's efforts to remake and grow their economy. China is already the world's largest producer of everything from clothes to electronics, but much of it depends on low-cost, low-skill labor. And even as economic growth has slowed, wages continue to rise across the country as the economy evolves. The Chinese government is also eager to see its workforce diversify and its manufacturing industries become more technologically advanced. Mashable

The End Is Nigh For Gmail?

Gmail looks to be on the way out as Google's free email service, to be replaced by Inbox - which Google has been experimenting with for some time. Gmail is over 10 years old now, even though it spent a lot of that time in "beta". 
As a Gmail user myself, I have not yet taken up the invite to try Inbox, but this Forbes article indicates that yes, the plan is to ultimately shift Gmail users to Inbox - and one assumes that existing emails and attachments will carry over, much like when Microsoft's Hotmail users were switched over to Outlook.com. [Inbox] uses standard gmail accounts and Google played it safe by operating it as a standalone Gmail alternative. But the two were never going to be remain permanently separated. Google doesn’t create major services for them to remain niche. It has shown that with many ruthless culls in the past, including that of the beloved Google Reader in 2013. Forbes


The Geoengineering Option To Combat Climate Change

The current talks on curbing the global warming trend may not yield any meaningful, actionable consensus - then what? More talks, no doubt, but what if most countries can't bring themselves to disrupt their already rather economies in pursuit of a noble but still distant set of goals - and those based largely upon a future wrought by the results of computer modelling? 

A Lot Of Questions About The Security Of Consumer Products

As someone who is pretty cynical about computer security in general, I am disappointed but not too surprised about recent tales of digital toys and other "connected' devices being insecure and generally poorly thought out. Hello Barbie has some gaping vulnerabilities, as is VTech's Android tablet for kids. VTech themselves exposed millions of customers' data from their website, and many other consumer platforms are also rife with security holes (and often these are old vulnerabilities).
It does little to alleviate my skepticism.

Batman V Superman - New Trailer's Big Reveal

The new Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice trailer reveals a pretty big plot point (you can view the trailer below if you don't seeing mind the spoiler), and it's quite a marketing contrast to the Star Wars trailers that have been released thus far. The Force Awakens trailers and TV spots have shown quite a bit of footage, but very little in terms of the actual plot.
The first Batman V Superman trailer followed much the same pattern; a general theme (Bruce Wayne/Batman pissed off at Superman's part in the loss of life and destruction of parts of Metropolis in Man of Steel), accompanied by some footage that contained some puzzling images (such as Superman bowing before Lex Luthor). 
However, the new trailer seems more like one of those most-of-the-plot-in-condensed-form kind of trailers we so often see these days. It is shown that Superman and Batman put their differences aside to confront a common enemy after their bout of fisticuffs (which has always been a generally acc…