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Showing posts from January, 2016

Star Trek - The Original Model

The miniature of the USS Enterprise from the original Star trek TV show on NBC is being prepped to go on display at the Smithsonian. Considering the model dates back to the mid-1960's TV series, there is actually quite a bit of work involved in bringing it back to pristine condition. ...the Enterprise has been treated to cover more than four decades of wear and tear that had to be individually removed by scientists. "To understand the layers of paint applied to the model over the decades, microscopic cross sections of the paint were sampled and studied by Dr. Susan Buck, a conservator specializing in the analysis of painted surfaces," the researchers said."The analysis revealed layers of paint from four generations of filming and four previous restorations. The only area with unaltered original paint, on top of the saucer, will be painstakingly cleaned and stabilized, but not altered."TheRegister

Windows Phone Is "Pining For The Fjords"

Windows phone, after selling 57% less than it did last year (which itself was a small number compared to sales of Android or Apple phones) is now pretty much dead, by any reasonable analysis. Microsoft and Nokia have sold a total of 110 million Windows Phones compared to 4.5 billion iOS and Android phones in the same period. IDC recently reported that 400 million phones were sold in the recent quarter, meaning just 1.1 percent of them were Lumia Windows Phones. Microsoft does not have any compelling Lumia handsets, and the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL were both disappointing flagship devices with unfinished Windows 10 Mobile software. TheVerge



Ouch. LHC Crew To Yank 9,000 Cables

As part of a clean up process, the folks at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the largest single machine on planet Earth - are in the process of disconnecting old cabling to make room for the new. Around 9,000 cables, which is a lot - particularity as some of them are long cables. The crew has already disconnected 2,700 of the cables, and expects to remove all of them in 2017. CERN shouldn't have any problems with the LHC shutdown scheduled for 2019, in other words. And hopefully, this won't be necessary again. The gigantic amount of clutter stems from a "not-so-good habit" of leaving old cables around, which suggests that engineers will be much smarter about cleaning up in the future. Engadget

Even Smarter Smartphones

Infoworld - Android phones may soon get a whole lot smarter thanks to a new partnership between Google and chip maker Movidius that promises to bring machine intelligence directly into mobile devices.
Movidius specializes in machine vision, and it has already worked with Google on the Project Tango computer-vision platform. Now, through the new collaboration, Google will use Movidius' flagship MA2450 chip to bring deep learning to Android handsets.
Full story at Infoworld

I Don't "Get" Curved TVs

I admit it, I don't "get" the curved TV thing. One of the great advancements in display technology in the last few years was to allow flat panel displays to have a wider viewing angle. No longer did you have to be looking "straight on" at a large (or small) flat screen to get a bright, clear image. 
Many will remember - not that long ago - where a flat screen's brightness and clarity would drop off alarmingly if you went just a little out of the "sweet spot" - for example, looking at a TV from a few feet to either side. Colors washed out, contrast went to pot, and the whole thing just became fuzzy.
Curved TVs seem to be taking both the shared TV watching experience AND the benefit of a much wider viewing angle and throwing them both out the window! I just don't get it.


Boeing Looks At Laser And Nuke Aircraft Engines?

In a remarkable patent application, Boeing describes an aircraft engine powered by lasers and nuclear reactions. I suppose a regular jet airplane engine would sound far-fetched to Orville and Wilbur Wright, so who knows? Modern airliners such as the Boeing Dreamliner are powered by multiple turbofan engines. These engines deploy a series of fans and turbines to compress air and ignite fuel to produce thrust. Boeing's newly patented engine provides thrust in a very different and rather novel manner. According to the patent filing, the laser engine may also be used to power rockets, missiles, and even spacecraft.Business Insider


There's Cable Management, And There Are Works Of Art

Well-dressed cabling shows organization and attention to detail, among other things; these go above and beyond. I know how hard this is to do well, so hat's off.
Buzzfeed

Wrangling Hulu To Work On Ubuntu Linux

HowToGeek - Hulu doesn’t work out-of-the-box on modern Linux distributions. While Netflix “just works” if you’re using Google Chrome, Hulu’s DRM has gotten old and clunky. You can get Hulu to work on Linux, but it’ll take a little tweaking.
It wasn’t always so hard. Back when Netflix was making life hard for Linux users, Hulu even offered a Linux desktop app. But that desktop app is now discontinued. Hulu relies on Adobe Flash, and Adobe Flash’s DRM code is falling apart on Linux.
Get the full skinny here on How-To Geek.

Is David Duchovy Worth Two Gillian Andersons?

It's being reported that Gillian Anderson was originally offered half of the salary offered to co-star David Duchovny to reprise her role as agent Dana Scully in the upcoming X-Files revival mini series.

Are we still doing this, in 2016? Ms. Anderson went through a similar disparity in the original series, although in that case there was some feeling that she was originally to be "the sidekick". As the show progressed, the characters of Mulder and Scully became more of a team, and pay parity was eventually agreed to for the two principal actors.
I confess I have no background in movie or TV salary negotiations, but if two actors are brought back to recreate a popular team in a series revival does it not seem a bit churlish to start out offering one of them half of what the other was offered?
That's how it's being reported anyway, and on face value it comes across as pretty sucky. While Anderson certainly isn’t the first actress in Hollywood to be offered less than…

Linux Keyring Zero Day CVE-2016-0728 Not Quite As Bad As First Thought

has a good overview of the scope of the recent Linux/Android zero-day flaw, and while there is a problem, it's not quite as dire as first thought. It only affects more recent kernel versions, version 3.1.0 and later,  and the Android exploit is mostly useless in that environment, according to Mr Vaughan-Nichols.
Specifically the following distributions are theoretically vulnerable:
CentOS Linux 7Debian Linux stable 8.x (jessie)Debian Linux testing 9.x (stretch)Fedora 21 and newerScientific Linux 7openSUSE Linux LEAP 42.x and version 13.xOracle Linux 7Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 12SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 12Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr)Ubuntu Linux 15.04 (Vivid Vervet)Ubuntu Linux 15.10 (Wily Werewolf)ZDNET 

Denmark Produces More Than 40% Of It's Energy Via WInd

In 2015, the country of Denmark produced 42.1% of it's electricity needs from wind power, a world record. The Danish government has goals to produce 50% from wind by 2020. I thought the Netherlands had all the windmills? Denmark's wind turbines energy production has been quite steady. 18% of the country's electricity needs were fulfilled by wind energy in 2005, it raised to 22% in 2010 and then 39.1% in 2014. Though Denmark sells its wind power to Germany, Sweden and Normay, it buys solar power, hydro power , nuclear power from this countries.Solarcrunch

Sorry, Windows 10 Only On New PC Hardware Says Microsoft

In a pretty startling change to established policy, Microsoft has announced that PCs based upon new architectures (including Intel's Skylake) will require Windows 10. Support for Windows 8.1 and earlier on new hardware will be limited or not available at all.
Windows 7 is still being supported by Microsoft through 2020 as before, but only on existing hardware, which is not how things worked previously. The way it's always been in the past is that enterprises could buy today's hardware, but put their current image on it, only upgrading when it made sense. But with this move, Microsoft changes everything -- and with precisely zero warning. Computerworld





Chapeau Linux 23 - 10 Days Later

A little over  a week ago, I took a look at Chapeau Linux 23,  one of my infrequent wanderings away from Ubuntu-based Linux distros. After about 10 days, I can confirm my initial favorable impression of Chapeau - it works well, and smoothly, and largely looks quite polished.
I have become used to the fonts, and I have even gotten a lot more comfortable using the Gnome 3 Desktop. While I still don't actually like the Gnome 3 aesthetic, it's certainly usable and functional. In fact, the only small issue I have is that, although the default software selection is pretty comprehensive,  the available additional software selection seems to be a bit...skimpy. 
There is no Google Chrome, or Chromium that I can find  - and no LMMS (a popular DAW program). I realize I can probably add a repo to address this, or even download a tarball, but it seems a bit odd that these (pretty widely-used apps) would be MIA from the standard software selection. 
Other than that small gripe, a good job …

That Internet Killswitch Is None Of Your Beeswax

The US Department Of Homeland Security apparently has a protocol that can shut down cell and data services in a national emergency, but don't worry your pretty little head about it - just keep Instagramming your lunch. The fight for transparency regarding SOP 303 began shortly after a Bay Area Rapid Transit (“BART”) officer in San Francisco shot and killed a homeless man named Charles Hill on July 3, 2011. The shooting sparked massive protests against BART throughout July and August 2011. During one of these protests, BART officials cut off cell phone service inside four transit stations for three hours. This kept anyone on the station platform from sending or receiving phone calls, messages, or other data. That does not really sound like life in the good ol' USA, does it? More like Iran or China.

TheAntiMedia


Hasta La Vista, Al Jazeera

TheIntercept - Executives of Al Jazeera America (AJAM) held a meeting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time to tell their employees that the company is terminating all news and digital operations in the U.S. as of April 2016, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs. The announcement marks a stunning and rapid collapse of what, from the start, has been a towering failure.

More at TheIntercept 

IoT Floods CES 2016

IoT - or Idiotic Overkill Technology as I sometimes think of it - made a BIG splash at CES 2016, as the CNET article here shows. While I am a card-carrying old fart, I do also work in IT and I don't automatically reject new stuff just because it's new. Well, most of the time.
While I agree the "Jetson-like" appeal of connected devices is cool in many regards, I also feel strongly that we are not ready for this - by a long way. Showing my age again with that Jetsons reference, hmmm.
The current climate of hacking and lackadaisical security just seems to be anathema to an orderly roll out of useful and reliable technology to be used in and around our homes.
App-controlled air conditioning and slow cookers are fine - and possibly even useful - but I don't want to come home to a stifling house, dehydrated pets and a cremated pot roast because some 14-year old twerp hacked my stuff for "teh lulz".

A Quick Look At Chapeau Linux 23

As I have mentioned here before, I tend to hop around operating systems on my laptop - primarily different Linux distros. This time around, I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit - away from the Ubuntu-based universe. 
Chapeau is a sort of kinder, gentler Fedora; it is also based upon Red Hat Linux, and the default desktop is Gnome 3. The more cosmopolitan among you may have realized that "chapeau" is French for "hat" - see what they did there?


About That New Year's Resolution