[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Friday, March 31, 2006

First Toshiba HD DVD players for sale in Japan

The first HD DVD players were made available in retail markets in Japan today, as Toshiba finally rolls the big dice, placing its bets on the future of high-definition components. But even as customers install these players in their homes, their design and construction may not be complete, as two key industry standards which HD DVD is pledged to support remain incomplete. So how will these new players work, and even if they do, will they still work in August?

read more

ThinkGeek Does April Fools a Day Early

ThinkGeek.com continues the tradition of coming up with some great fake tech. gear for april fool's day.

The USB Desktop Tanning Center

ThinkGeek has long pondered the fate of geeks who live their entire lives indoors with pale, blotchy skin. We knew we could never motivate them to get off the computer in some half-witted attempt to go kayaking or to have a spring picnic. There simply is not enough time for World of Warcraft as it is, and we fully understand. So, we figured if we can't get you to interact with sunlight, we would do the next best thing and bring the sun to you!

Check it out.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Inner Working of a Bayesian Spam Filter

Before going further about how Bayesian filters work, let’s take a look at the history and the theory behind Bayesianism. The Bayesian theory was named after Reverend Thomas Bayes, a renowned British mathematician who lived in the 18th century. The theory tries to estimate the probability of an event happening based on the degree in which someone believes an event will happen again. To help you understand the concept, here's a sentence that would resume the theory very well:

John has been drinking 2 cups of coffee every morning for the past 5 years. This morning, John has drank 2 cups of coffee; it is then very probable that john will drink 2 cups of coffee tomorrow morning.

The Bayesian Theory, when applied to spam mail, is a very effective method of detecting which emails are legitimate or not. Bayesian filters calculate the probability of a message being spam according to its content. The more emails it sees, the more effective it gets. At first, the filter will not be perfect, but if you provide it with hundreds of emails to analyze, it should eventually achieve approximately 99.5% of efficiency.

How can it get this effective? Let's say you receive 10 messages, if you open and close them really quickly, I'm pretty sure you'll know right away which one of them are spam or not. If you can weed them out that quickly, it means that your brain has associated some patterns to them. Patterns are natural phenomenons, they are everywhere. Since they are repetitive, you can usually predict them using mathematical formulas, and this is why bayesian filtering is incredibly effective.

After having inspected 100's of emails, a spam filter will create a list of the most common elements that categorize junk mail: words (or combination of them), title, html code, meta information, color patterns. It will also categorize legitimate mail the same way, so it can compare each message you get to both of those lists.

Here is the mathematical formula that is used to determine if a message is considered as spam or not.

Excerpt from Wikipedia: "Bayesian email filters take advantage of Bayes' theorem. Bayes' theorem, in the context of spam, says that the probability that an email is spam, given that it has certain words in it, is equal to the probability of finding those certain words in spam email, times the probability that any email is spam, divided by the probability of finding those words in any email:"

I think that we can agree that the word "Viagra" (vi@gra, v1@gr@, \/1@Gr/\, etc.) is one of the most popular words that afflict junk mail today. If you see this word in a message, you can be pretty sure it'll be classified as spam. Now let's say that I receive a message from a friend named Hugo telling me that he'll need to take Viagra because... (no need to explain further right?). Hugo ends his message by signing his name. If you’ve been exchanging mail with Hugo for a while, the probability of the message ending up in the spam folder will be very small because the filter knows that when the name "Hugo" appears in the message, it is usually legitimate. The way the filter classify spam is not that simple, its decision is based on 100's of factors, but you get the point right?

Users must be careful though, like I said before, after a couple of months, a Bayesian filter can attain an efficiency of 99.5%, but there is still .5% of chance that a legitimate message will end up in the spam folder. Users must inspect their spam folder regularly to see if any good mail gets dumped in there. If it is the case, the user has to move the message back in his inbox, and tell the filter that it made a mistake so it will not make it again in the future.

The only way for spammers to defeat a Bayesian filter is to make their message look exactly like ordinary, boring ones. Due to the nature and goal of spammers, this will not happen anytime soon, so Bayesian filters will always remain very effective.

If you are working in a corporate environment hosting their own mail under an exchange mail server, and that spam is starting to be a major problem for all of your users, you may want to read a little review I did of an excellent, centrally managed, anti-spam solution: GFI Mail Essentials.

If you are a simple user that is using Outlook, you may want to have a look at SpamBayes.

"The SpamBayes project is working on developing a statistical (commonly, although a little inaccurately, referred to as Bayesian) anti-spam filter, initially based on the work of Paul Graham. The major difference between this and other, similar projects is the emphasis on testing newer approaches to scoring messages. While most anti-spam projects are still working with the original graham algorithm, we found that a number of alternate methods yielded a more useful response."

Other recommendations are welcomed in the comments.

Other [Geeks Are Sexy] technology articles

Add to Del.Icio.Us

Windows Live Mail Desktop : A renamed version of Outlook Express?

This week, Microsoft has started to beta-test Windows Live Mail Desktop, a new mail client that will allow people to manage their Hotmail account directly from their desktop. In addition to working with Hotmail, the application can also be used to manage POP3 and various other online mail services. Microsoft tries to make us believe that this client is something new and different, but in fact, it's nothing more then a renamed version of Outlook Express with a few extras thrown in.

"In addition to working with multiple Windows Live Mail or Hotmail accounts, the new desktop software can be used to manage POP3 or IMAP accounts, potentially even Google's Gmail"

Outlook express already does everything that was claimed in this article, so what's so special about Windows Live Mail Desktop? I'm sure the new client will bring a few innovations, but renaming Outlook Express is probably a marketing trick to attract the eyes of the computer enthusiasts’ community.

Read more.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Antitrust suspicions on Windows Vista

Hearings are scheduled for this week regarding whether Microsoft has complied with a European Committee directive to turn over information explaining how Windows can be made interoperable. In the meantime, commissioner Neelie Kroes is raising fresh concerns over whether Microsoft has plans to unfairly promote and extend Windows Live Search. The key, quite literally, could be in front of our faces.

According to reports this morning from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, the EU's commissioner for competitiveness, Neelie Kroes, has launched a new wave of possible antitrust concerns about Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Vista. Those reports indicate that Kroes is studying whether certain features of Vista may be giving Microsoft an unfair advantage with regard to its Windows Live Search service, which the company is testing now, and which will likely be formally rolled out when Vista becomes available to consumers in January.

Read more.

How To Deal With Your Exchange BadMail Folder

If you are an Exchange administrator, you probably already know about the existence of the Badmail folder. This directory contains all the mail that never reached any of your users’ inbox. If you look at the messages it contains, you'll realize that most of the crap that is in there is spam and undelivered messages. This folder can usually be found in \Program Files\exchsrvr\Mailroot\VSI 1\BadMail. Unfortunately, Exchange doesn't provide you with any way to automatically delete or archive these messages, so the folder will continue to fill up until you delete its content.

If your organization uses Exchange 2003, Microsoft has released a small application that lets you automatically deletes or archives files in the badmail directory. It also ensures that the size of the folder does not exceed specific size limits and eliminates the administrative overhead of manually archiving or deleting these files.

Microsoft does not provide any tools to do this on Exchange 2000. The solution? Write a small batch file that deletes the content of the folder. After this, add the script to the windows 2000 task scheduler and run it once a week. Don't forget to test your script before putting it into production. You wouldn't want to delete the content of another folder would you?

Suffering in silence with data leaks

A few years ago, a disclosure law was passed in 23 US states which were supposed to force corporations to reveal any data theft or loss incidents to consumers. Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of merchants "forget" to notify their clients when their personal information is stolen and these people only learn about the incident when a disastrous situation arise. Most existing laws allow merchants plenty of wiggle room when deciding whether to tell customers about such breaches or not.

"Only about 10 percent of the merchants do the right thing and notify customers when there is a compromise," Clements said. "Most want to sweep the hack under the rug. Their motivation is clear; they don't want to lose their customers' trust."

Read more.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

When servers crash and burn

An anonymous contributor to the Infoworld magazine wrote a story about how things can end up terribly wrong when nontechnical managers make technical decisions.

"Finally, a month ago, someone decided that it was time to replace the entire system. The same boss who forced the faulty systems on me in the first place called me into his office and said, “Do a little more research this time. Those machines you installed weren’t very reliable.” I thought about my mortgage and decided not to murder him."

Read more.

Anyone here experienced a similar situation? Everyone likes reading about tales of misfortunes, so share your stories in the comments and make everyone learn something out of them!

First Holographic Drives to Ship in 2006

InPhase Technologies, a company focused on holographic storage, was recently able to pack 515GB of data in one square inch of media. Apparently, they will be releasing a 300GB holographic drive on the market before the end of this year.

The first product will most likely be a 300GB disk with a transfer rate of 20MB/sec however the second wave of holographic media will range from 800GB to 1.6TB capacities. Currently, to achieve 1.6TB of capacity we would need 4x400GB hard disk drives in a RAID 0 array which does not come cheap. Pricing on the holographic storage medium has not been announced but since it is a new technology, we can expect prices to be expensive.

Read more (via tech. filter)

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Disco Bar

Check out what this guy did with some controller boards, 128 RGB LEDS, 250 feet of cable and a built-in fridge: The Disco Bar. Click on the big play sign to get the show started.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

For the past year, I've been anxiously waiting for this title to be released, hoping that when it does, my box would be muscled enough to let me play it. Oblivion is now available to the public, and Guess what? My PC isn't fast enough, and I still can't afford a 360. Bummer.

If you want to know more about Oblivion, Ars Technica has published a side-by-side review of both the Xbox 360 and PC versions.

Check it out.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Five years of Mac OS X

Mac OS X is already five years old. John Siracusa takes a look at the road behind as he ponders the critical role the OS has played in Apple’s revitalization. From closing the book on the original Mac to practically inventing a new platform overnight, OS X changed Apple and its users in ways that are worthy of a birthday reflection. Definitely a good read.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

WMF-Like Zero-Day Attack Underway

The first wave of drive-by downloads targeting a zero-day Internet Explorer flaw has started, using a mixture of hijacked Web servers and compromised sites. The attack comes less than 24 hours after Microsoft issued an advisory about this latest flaw. Apparently, this threat is supposed to grow significantly over the weekend, so be careful.

"Less than 24 hours after Microsoft issued an advisory with interim workarounds for IE users, malware hunters have started detecting drive-by downloads on more than 20 maliciously rigged Web sites.

eWEEK has seen a list of more than 20 unique domains and 100 unique URLs hosting the exploits, which are dropping a variant of SDbot, a dangerous family of backdoors that give hackers complete ownership of infected computers."

Read more.

They're Out to Get You - An Introduction to Internet Security

Tom's Hardware has a great Internet Security Guide for the novices out there. If you don't know much about security, and you are concerned about the safety of your privacy on the net, check it out!

Read more.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Vista delay: Why would Microsoft cancel Christmas?

With the Windows Vista-endowed computer already having been touted as the next great technological leap forward for consumers, it is difficult to imagine any great number of them willingly purchasing Windows XP systems instead, for their big holiday family gift items. So is there any logic to Microsoft's decision to postpone consumer Vista until after the holidays?

Read more on TGDaily.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How fast is your Brain?

Posit Science, a San Francisco based research company, unveiled a program that measure how fast your brain can process information based on your hearing speed. The test is done on their website via a small flash application. So, is your brain a P4 3.7 Extreme edition or a 486?

Find out now! (via Cnet)

The Emperor of the Security World

Ever wished you were an emperor so that you could impose your whims to everyone around you? Would you be a benefactor or a tyrant? In this SecurityFocus.com article, Scott Granneman takes the role of dictator of the security world and presents his ideas about mandatory reforms that would improve security for millions of people.

"In this column I'd like to declare myself Emperor of the Security world. Don't worry, I won't force you to worship me as a god, nothing will be renamed in my honor, and no one will be forced to gather seashells (although my car does need a washing...). As for perversions, this is the Internet we're using here, so everyone's safe. No, instead, I plan to rule as a benevolent dictator, trying to bring wisdom and reform to a troubled land. As your new emperor, these are my security decrees..."

Read more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

10 steps to a better IT support process

As an IT professional, you need to have a structured mind to be able to think through all the different problematic situations that can present themselves to you on a day to day basis. After having worked in IT for a while, you should eventually start to develop a certain methodology that will help you solve most problems quickly and effectively. The goal of this article is to help junior IT workers in the task of supporting users in a corporate environment. I also wanted to put down on paper something that I've been doing for years, but never actually took time to document.

Please note that this article has moved. Click here to read it: 10 steps to a better IT support process

Encryption for the masses

Personally, I've never seen any of my clients use encryption to secure their confidential data. Let's face it, with the technology that is currently available, file and disk encryption functionalities integrated into most operating systems are too obscure and complicated for most people to use. Encryption needs to be simple if we want Mr. And Mrs. Everybody to use it. This SecurityFocus.com article looks at Apple's FileVault and takes a sneak peak at what's coming in Windows Vista. It also explains why these new encryption systems will make everything simpler for everybody.

Read more.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Windows Vista delayed AGAIN!

After having delayed Vista multiple times, Microsoft has done the unthinkable : They have delayed it yet again. Redmond is now planning to to deliver the business versions of Vista in November 2006 and the consumer versions in 2007.

"I think that the delay is significant. Microsoft is missing a key time over the holidays in bringing Vista to the most consumers possible at launch,"

Delaying product launches really seems to be popular this month. After Vista and the PS3, who will be next?

Read more.

Samsung launches 32 GB Flash disk for mobile computers

Ever wished your hard drive was faster? If you're the owner of a mobile computer, your dream may soon come true! Samsung has just announced that they will soon be manufacturing a 32GB flash storage device that aims to replace good old hard drives in laptops and other mobile computers. This new drive comes in a 1.8" form factor, reads data at more then twice the speed of a normal HDD and consume 95% less power then their traditional counterpart.

"According to Samsung, the SSD will read and write data at 57 MB/s and 32 MB/s, respectively. We will have to benchmark such a drive in our test lab to verify this claim but if correct, the Flash disk would be about twice as fast as the latest 1.8" hard drive generation, which was measured at a read speed of 24 MB/s by the engineers of Tom's Hardware. The acceleration is most likely not enough to enable instant-on computers, but we would expect Windows computers to cut the system boot time at least in half."

Read more.

Microsoft Admits Internet Explorer Mistakes

Bill Gates admits that he made a mistake in waiting to build new innovations in its own browser technology, Internet Explorer. Now Microsoft is answering that challenge and is already looking ahead to the next two releases of IE. From what I have seen up to now, IE7 isn't that innovative. Tab Browsing, RSS support, Anti-Phishing protections? These features have been included in Firefox for a while, so please don't tell me that IE7 will revolutionize the browser world.

"In a sense we're doing a 'mea culpa' in saying we've waited too long for a new browser release," Gates said during his talk to kick off Microsoft's first show for designers and developers of high-impact Web sites. "We are very immersed in the browser as a platform."

Read more.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Platform for Success Webcast Series: Preview of Windows Vista Operating System

I thought that this webcast would probably interest some of you guys. Yeah, I know it's in June, but if I don't post it now, I'll probably forget about doing it later, so here goes...

Platform for Success Webcast Series: Preview of Windows Vista Operating System

Many end users and IT Professionals alike sit in front of Windows-based PCs to do their jobs on a day to day basis. This system is the gateway to the very complex and diverse digital realm of information, systems and services that they rely on to get the work done. Windows Vista is the operating system that will help; bring clarity to find the information you need by cutting through the clutter and allowing you to focus on what’s important to you. This session will go past feature demonstrations and focus on specific problems and scenarios Windows Vista will help solve for your work environment.

Start Time:
June 7, 2006 1:00 PM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
End Time:
June 7, 2006 2:00 PM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Recommended Audience: IT Professional and Technology Decision Maker.
Language: English

Subscribe here (If you subscribe now, Microsoft will email you an automatic reminder in June) (Free passport account required).

The Department of Homeland Security gets an F on, guess what? Security!

The DHS information security systems were recently evaluated by the House Government Reform Committee, which gave them the lowest possible score for cybersecurity: An F. Ridiculous isn't it? When you think that these guys fail in an evaluation in which they are supposed to excel, it's kind of frightening.

Read more.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Trojan capturing mouse clicks?

In the ever evolving world of malware development, some wise ass developed a new trojan that is not only capturing what you type, but also where you click. I know that some financial institutions use onscreen keyboards to protect themselves against keyloggers, but with this new kind of trojan, the security offered by a virtual keyboard is pretty worthless.

"Security researchers have discovered a keylogging Trojan that captures mouse clicks as well as key strokes. PWSteal-Bancos-Q targets customers of online banking and financial institutions primarily in Brazil. However Australian anti-virus firm PC Tools warns that variants could be created to affect additional online financial sites worldwide. As well as capturing user keystrokes, PWSteal-Bancos-Q also takes snapshots of the users' mouse clicks and then sends the captured information via file transfer protocol (FTP) to the Trojan's author."

Read more.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hybrid hard drives: Can Samsung and Microsoft invent a new market for 2007?

For about a year, Samsung Semiconductor and Microsoft have been leading the development of hybrid hard drives, with the potential of improving system performance by orders of magnitude. Samsung, the Flash memory market leader, could have a new industry all to itself. But would a mandate from Microsoft for hybrid HDD inclusion in Premium Vista computers help or hurt the company?

"These hybrid hard drives will represent the next stage of Samsung's ongoing project with Microsoft to expedite I/O throughput time by leveraging large OneNAND Flash memory caches to radically improve application performance, as well as reduce system power-up and power-down times to under one second."

Read more.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kingston's Self-Destructing USB drive

The problem with USB keys is that if anyone gets their dirty hands on yours, they can have a look at the content of your drive without a sweat. If you are a security freak, then you'll like what Kingston came up with. This 4GB USB flash drive encrypts all data with 128-bit AES, and then adds an extra layer of security: a self destruct feature. If someone tries to enter a wrong password more then 25 times, the data on the drive goes bye bye!

Read more.

Dual-Booting Windows XP and OS X on an Intel-powered Mac?

First, I thought that this was a joke, but apparently it's not! The guys who were able to make both XP and OSX run on an Intel-powered Mac even won $13000 for their exploit. Nice.

Read more.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Taking the Reins of MS Exchange

Oliver Rist, senior contributing editor for the InfoWorld magazine, published this excellent article about how Microsoft Exchange servers are currently positioned in the mail server market and what Microsoft is doing to keep on top of their competitors. He also writes about how you can manage an increasingly old and complex messaging environment with the help of third-party tools, all of this in order to add up missing functionalities to your aging mail server and let you postpone a costly upgrade to a more recent version of Exchange.

Guess who he interviewed to write this article? Me!

"While the range of tools and add-on functionality available for Exchange Server is broad, the next biggest concern for many Exchange managers is cost, especially for SMBs. That’s one reason many Exchange installations, even by Microsoft’s own calculations, still run Exchange Server 5.5. Third-party tools can add life to venerable Exchange installations, delaying the need to move to a new Exchange version and sometimes eliminating the need for an upgrade entirely.

“The migration cost [is] simply too high,” says Yan Fortin, senior network administrator at xxxxxx, a large commercial property management company. xxxxxx is still largely based on the Windows 2000 Server platform, so upgrading to Exchange 2003 means upgrading the entire server infrastructure to Windows 2003 Server to ensure reliability.

While biding his time, waiting for management to approve an upgrade, Fortin instead looks to beef up Exchange 2000’s functionality with third-party tools like GFI Software’s MailEssentials. “It’s a great tool,” he says. “It handles not only anti-spam duties (which aren’t native to Exchange 2000) but also does archiving, disclaimers, and more; and it does this all centrally, so I don’t have to run around to every client station. It gives us the reliability we need, but costs only a fraction of a whole platform upgrade.”

Using MailEssentials and a few other third-party tools allows Fortin not only to extend xxxxxx’s investment in Exchange 2000, but possibly to skip the expense of migrating to Exchange 2003. “It’s a long shot, because we almost never buy [the initial release] of any Microsoft product,” he says, but adds that if he can hang on until Exchange 12 Service Pack 1, a leapfrog from Exchange 2000 may be in the cards."

Apart from being a great tech. journalist, Oliver is also a very funny guy. If you read his stuff (SMB IT, Technology Filter), you'll understand what I mean right away.

Taking the Reins of MS Exchange (Full article)

Sony's PS3 game console delayed

Gamers that were eagerly waiting for the PS3 will have to be patient, because apparently, the console will not get released until next November.

"Sony Corp. said Wednesday it would delay the release of its new PlayStation 3 video game console until early November because development of some of the technology was behind schedule."

That's too bad for Sony, a six-month delay in the launch date could mean handing further advantage to Microsoft. I'm not sure that hardcore gamers will be ready to wait an additional 6 months before getting their hands on a PS3. They may even choose to get an XBox instead!

Read more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Microsoft Black Tuesday...

On March 14th, Microsoft released two new security bulletins, one rated as important and the other as critical on the company's security rating scale. Head over to Windows Update (or turn on Automatic update) to get those patches.

Social Engineering: Because There Is No Patch To Human Stupidity

We must never forget that the human being is always the weakest link in a security system, not the technology itself. SecurityFocus just published this great article explaining how social engineering has evolved over the past few years. If don't know what social engineering really is, then I could tell you that it is the art of obtaining confidential information by manipulating legitimate users over the phone, online, and even in person. No medium is really safe from these guys, so watch out!

"Historically, the motivation has been intellectual challenge, bragging rights, access to sensitive information, simple curiosity, or our biggest fear - malicious intent. By knowing why we are at risk, we can better protect ourselves from the foolish things we do, thereby allowing social engineers to exploit us."

If you want to read further on this subject, Kevin Mitnick, a renowned and reformed hacker, has published an excellent book presenting different scenarios where social engineers have manipulated users to gain access to confidential information.
The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security has been written like a novel, so reading it is both entertaining and informative. If you are in charge of security for your company, you should definitely buy this book. After having read it, you will then be able to teach your users about how to recognize a social engineering attack. It is your job after all, so do it!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Judge to force Google's hand

A federal judge hearing arguments in the Department of Justice's records fight with Google said Tuesday that he would grant federal prosecutors at least part of their request for excerpts from the search giant's massive database. All of this is supposed to be done in order to revive a law that makes it harder for children to see online pornography. While Mr. Bush initial intention is good, I doubt that his administration will stop there once they have their hands in Google's pocket.

Read more.

Performancing metrics : the Ultimate Stats Engine for Bloggers

Today, at lunch time, I was browsing the net looking for news to post to [Geeks Are Sexy], when I stumbled upon a brand new web tracking engine especially made for bloggers. Let me tell you something guys, Performancing metrics is the Cadillac (Or the Ferrari, your choice) of stats engines. Apart from being free, it also provides you with all the stats you can dream of:

  • visitor stats by: geography, languages, browsers, platforms and screen resolutions
  • Activity by: Post views, comments summary, comments by post, categories
  • Marketing: Adsense click (very useful), referrers, search engines (with keywords), outbound links
  • And much, MUCH more.

What are you waiting for? Go and try it right now! It's free, and you can have it up and running under 2 minutes.

This thing is A LOT better then SiteMeter, which I'm keeping only for the web counter.

The enemy within the firewall

I've been telling this to people for years, the biggest threat to a network comes from within a company. Even if you have a layered security system, this will not protect you against people who wants to steal confidential data from inside your network, unless you planned your architecture with internal security in mind.

The Age is reporting that many businesses are now considering employees a much bigger threat to security than most external threats. It appears that some criminal gangs have started to recruit employees to steal insider knowledge instead of having someone bust through the firewall to steal that sensitive data.

"With email and instant messaging proving increasingly popular and devices such as laptop computers, mobile phones and USB storage devices more commonplace in the office, the opportunities for workplace crime are growing."

Read more.

Pushing the Internet Into Space

Adrian Hooke, manager of data-standards programs at NASA, is looking to improve the actual communication process between the earth and devices that are located into space, millions of kilometers away. Right now, it takes approximately 40 minutes to relay information from the Mars rovers to a NASA scientist. That's pretty quick considering how far apart Earth and Mars are, but to Mr. Hooke, that's not fast enough.

"Forget the world wide web. Through a project called the interplanetary internet, Hooke and networking guru Vint Cerf, co-creator the internet's TCP/IP protocol, have been working for the past six years to develop a standard for communicating in disconnected environments, where an uninterrupted two-way dialog isn't possible. The approach is called delay-tolerant networking and relies on communications technologies designed for use in remote places like deep beneath the sea or out in space."

Read more.

Monday, March 13, 2006

After Google Earth and Google Moon, here comes Google Mars

It looks like Google has just released another one of their popular Google earth clones: Google Mars. Google Mars lets you look at the Red Planet in 3 different ways: color elevation, black-and-white, and infrared. While you are there, don't forget to have a look at the Happy Face Crater and to search for Spirit and Opportunity's landing sites. A very nice little time waster.

Check it out!

School Teaches kids about Cyber Security

William Kates of the Associated Press writes:

"A group of students at Rome Catholic School are learning how to become the future defenders of cyberspace through a pilot program that officials say is the first of its kind in the country.

The program teaches students about data protection, computer network protocols and vulnerabilities, security, firewalls and forensics, data hiding, and infrastructure and wireless security.

Most important, officials said, teachers discuss ethical and legal considerations in cyber security."

Now that's a wise move. I think every school should start to consider teaching computer security to their students. Most young people surf around the web carelessly and do not realize the implication of installing free games or clicking on a suspect link in an email.

Read more.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

How a hard drive works

Ever wondered what happened beneath a hard drive cover when it's actually seeking data? well, Check this out!

After seing this, I can certainly understand why we hear about people having problems with their hard disks all the time. (Click on the big play sign to start the video)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fuel Cells Batteries Coming To Your Laptop Soon

Are you tired of having to recharge your laptop battery only after 2 or 3 hours of usage? If yes, then I have good news for you my friends. Soon, a new battery technology could make your laptop run for up to 9 hours. BBC News published an article on fuel cells, and what their adoption could mean for laptop users.

"At the Cebit technology fair in Hanover, Taiwanese hi-tech firm Antig said its fuel cells should be on the shelves of computer shops by early 2007. The first versions of the methanol-using units should keep a laptop going for up to nine hours. Fuel cell technology got a boost recently when international air flight regulators changed rules that banned passengers from carrying flammable methanol onto aircraft."

Read more.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Are you fed up with ad-serving cookies? Block them!

Personally, I hate having websites install ad-serving cookies on my box. Even if I have nothing to hide, I still don't like people looking over my shoulder at what I'm doing, especially when I don't even know about it. To get rid of these cookies, you can always empty your cookie folder manually, or run one of the multiple anti-spyware applications available for free on the Web. Unfortunately, all of these solutions require some interaction from you. The solution? Block them before they get in your computer. There are 2 marvellous little applications that can help you do this automatically: IE-SPYAD for Internet Explorer, and Adblock Plus for Firefox (To use in conjunction with Adblock Filterset.G Updater)

These 2 babies can help you block undesirable sites and cookies by adding them to IE's restricted sites zone. The list gets updated automatically so you don't have to worry about doing it yourself. What are you waiting for? Go and have a look at them right now!

IE-SPYAD Adblock Plus

(Edit: The IE-SPYAD link doesn't seem to work if you click on it directly from this post, but if you copy and paste it back into your IE/Firefox address field, it works fine. Anyone else experiencing this, or is it only me?)

A brief history of Microsoft on the web

Believe it or not, Microsoft's website looked like this back in 1993.

Incredible isn't it? Things have certainly changed since then. I can't believe that we actually thought that it looked good.

"In the beginning, www.microsoft.com was just one computer tucked under a table at the end of a long hallway. It was designed to test Microsoft's first 32-bit Windows implementation of TCP/IP, the software plumbing in Windows that enables Internet communications."

If you are interested in learning more about the history Microsoft's website, then have a look at this article explaining how microsoft.com evolved through time. A good read.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

[Geeks Are Sexy] : Introducing Kiltak

This blog has been running for almost 4 months now (March 2006), and I just realized that I never introduced myself to you guys. For those who are wondering if Kiltak is my real name, well, it's not. The name comes from my gaming years that are now long past (sigh).

I've been working in the IT industry for the past 10 years as a system and security administrator. I like to think myself as a generalist, knowing a bit of everything, and a lot on certain specialized areas. My areas of expertise: Windows OSs (Server / Workstation), networking, security management, Exchange servers and hardware in general.

Before studying in IT, I went to the Montreal University to get a degree in history and pedagogy. I only stayed there for a year because I soon realized that this wasn't really what I wanted to do with my life. That's when I switched to Information technology. A career in an art related field would also have interested me, but after considering it for a while, I concluded that drawing was not something that I wanted to do full time. I've drawn a lot of digital art for an underground art group named Acid Productions between 1991 and 2004. You can have a look at some of my art right here if it's of any interest to you.

[Geeks Are Sexy] has been up and running since late November 2005. My initial goal was to transmit some of my knowledge to fellow computer enthusiasts, while making some great friends in the process (Oliver Rist and Teresa Noreen among others). I also wanted to improve my written English because as you may have already noticed, it is not perfect. I was flamed on a couple of occasion by intolerant DIGG users because of this. Shame on them.

Apparently, people were interested in what I had to say because only 3 months after being opened, [Geeks Are Sexy] started to receive between 1000 and 1200 unique visits per day (3500 now, Nov. 2006). Some of the best articles I've published attracted up to 50000 people in 2 or 3 days.

I'm also happily married and father of a little boy and soon of a little girl (she's due in early April 2006)

Now I'd like to know more about you guys. Just leave a small comment attached to this message, I would really appreciate it. Who's reading me regularly? Don't forget to leave your blog address so I can come to visit you in my spare time.

Microsoft unveils Origami

Microsoft has officially unveiled "Origami" today in an attempt to breathe new life into the ultra-portable market. Apparently, our friends from Redmond feels like the Tablet PC concept didn't work out well enough since it has been released and they decided to redesign and rebrand it to give it a second chance.

"The new machines will connect wirelessly to the Internet and carry full-sized hard drives, but they are not intended to replace current PCs....The new PCs are expected to sell for between $599 to $999, but Microsoft said it is possible to sell one for $500 if the manufacturer selects components carefully."

More details here and here.

RAID For Dummies: No, it's not an Insecticide

Bjorn3D just pubbed this excellent guide explaining how RAID works, its history and terminology. If you never heard about RAID, this guide should help you understand what it is all about, and if your already a RAID pro, you should read it anyways. I'm pretty sure you'll learn a thing or two out of it.

"The use of RAID, a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, up until a few years ago was pretty much limited to servers and high end workstations; this was primarily due to the cost of the controller and the accompanying hard drives. Today that's not at all the case! Most of the newer motherboards provide one or more onboard RAID controllers capable of delivering configurations up to and including RAID 5. With the cost of disk storage at an all time low the two primary barriers to using this once esoteric form of data storage have been lifted."

Read more.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Windows Live: Microsoft's latest jab at Google Search

Microsoft has been trying to catch up with Google for years when it comes to search engine technology, but up to now, they were never really successful about it. Their latest jab at Google comes in the form of a new search portal. Their new engine has a couple of pretty interesting features (for more details, have a look at this PC Magazine article), but to tell you frankly, my first impression weren't very good. The site was awfully slow and the interface was a bit too crowded for my taste. The new scroll bar on the right of the search result page is also a pain in the rear to use.

Try it, you'll see what I mean.

Let's not judge live.com too quicky. The service is still under beta and deserves a second chance after all.

Vista to use 800MB of ram, 7GB of drive space : The Inquirer has been reporting crap again.

According to the Inquirer, Windows Vista is going to eat as much as 800Mb of system memory, even when idling. The inquirer has been well known for reporting inaccurate facts in the past, and guess what, they've done it again. By inspecting the task manager picture they attached to their article, I realized that the reported 800MB of ram is indicated under PF usage. PF as in "PAGE FILE". If you look under the physical memory section of the performance tab, you'll see that 628mb is currently available out of 1 gig of ram. I can't believe that they published this without verifying the accuracy of their claim. Pathetic isn't it?

The value of vulnerabilities

There is value in finding vulnerabilities. Yet many people believe that a vulnerability doesn't exist until it is disclosed to the public. We know that vulnerabilities need to be disclosed, but what role do vendors have to make these issues public?

"There are no guarantees, and therefore I think it would be pretty naive to believe that the person reporting the issue is the only one aware of its existence."

All of this is pretty frightening don't you think?

Read more.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Simple ways to make yourself far cleverer

A few of you guys try to train your body a few times per week to stay physically fit, and that's a great thing to do, but don't forget that you also have to keep your brain in shape if you don't want it to deteriorate as you grow older. This article from the Guardian explain how you can keep your brain from aging, and at the same time increase your cleverness by doing simple mental exercises.

"Doing "brain exercises" such as watching Countdown, playing Sudoku or taking a shower with your eyes closed can make us all up to 40 per cent cleverer within seven days, according to research by a BBC programme this week"

So, anyone up to the task? Try a few of those exercises and report back with your observations in a week. I'm going to do the same thing on my side.

Read more.