[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Firefox 2.0 Bakes in Anti-Phish Antidote

According to Internet News, Firefox "Bon Echo" 2.0 will come shipped with a feature named "Google Safe Browsing" which should offer some measure of protection to its users against phishing attacks. This is certainly great news for us, security professionals, and should also be for you, loyal readers.

Anti-phishing capability, which Mozilla has branded "Safe Browsing," is one of the marquee features in Firefox 2.0 and one of the reasons a third alpha is necessary. Now baked into Firefox 2.0 alpha 3, Google Safe Browsing is triple-licensed under the Mozilla Public License (MPL) 1.1, the GPL 2.0 (define) and the LGLP (define).

Read more.

Google Maps Profanity

Have a look at what I stumbled across on Google Maps:

Here is the direct link to the location.

Edit: One of our readers discovered this crop circle a little bit to the southwest of the first location. (link)

Will Eddie get abducted by aliens anytime soon? I guess we'll never know.

Abandon e-mail!

Kelly Martin, editor for SecurityFocus.com, published this fine article explaining how e-mail, in its current form, will never, ever be a secure mean of communication. Even if third-party security add-ons have been developed and piled on top of the current SMTP protocol, we cannot say that these applications have been able to stop the ongoing e-mail war against spammers, viruses, phishers and scammers. I don't think that this war will end anytime soon because the SMTP protocol is too well rooted in current IT infrastructures, and replacing it would probably requires investments of billions of dollars globally.

The main reason we will never win the e-mail war against the spammers-phishers-scammers-botnets and their assorted ilk is we're bound by legal standards that limit the ways we can combat e-mail abuse – unlike in the early days of the Internet. The perpetrators are not bound by the law. source: securityfocus.com

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Computer Nerd Fight Clubs

Please stop laughing guys, this is serious stuff. It seems that geek fight clubs have recently started to pop up all over America. I know this sounds ridiculous, but hey, the story comes from CNN, so it must be true.

They may sport love handles and Ivy League degrees, but every two weeks, some Silicon Valley techies turn into vicious street brawlers in a real-life, underground fight club. Then, bloodied and bruised, they limp back to their desks in the morning.

So, anyone feel like participating in the new [Geeks Are Sexy] fight club?

The Question of Banning Laptops in Class

Ken "caesar" Fisher published a very interesting article on ArsTechnica explaining the problematic of providing WiFi internet access to students in class. If I would be a teacher, I know that I wouldn’t be too happy if half of my class was browsing the web while I would be speaking to them. Some colleges have already implemented a system where dictators teachers can knock out WiFi in their classrooms at the flip of a switch, but unfortunately, this system cannot block laptops that have EVDO access, and as you probably already know, EVDO is getting cheaper by the day.

What can you do in the face of blocking efforts that ultimately will fail? Really, professors shouldn't be doing anything new. A well-structured class should have a lecture component that delivers material and analysis necessary for the student's performance in the course. The bigger question is, if Joe Baccalaureate got through Econ 101 with an "A" while spending his time manicuring his rotisserie-style fantasy baseball team in lecture, what was the lecture for to begin with?

Read more.

Stope Stuff: 12 Cool Gadgets for Dads

MobilityGuru's editors share their top 12 picks for Father's Day gifts. Get ready for an interesting mix of mobile devices, including laptops, notebooks, PDAs and other assorted goodies. They've got you covered whether you're living on a beer or Champaign budget.

At the higher priced end you'll find laptop and notebook computers galore. There's one for dad in the mix, whether he's a road warrior, an office bound or work-at-home business man or someone who loves to play games or do the multimedia thing. Coming down a notch in price there are PDAs and PDA phones with enough features to master to keep dad busy for days. Finally, we've included a bunch of gifts for less than $100. We are sure you'll find something in this group that dad absolutely needs whether its a backpack for his laptop, a case for his iPod, a cool and highly portable stereo speaker system, the best wireless network finder around, or a unique pen-based computer.

Migrating to the “Dark” Side – Moving My Music

Over the next few blog posts I will document my journey to the world of my MacBook. The computer arrived on Thursday morning (a full day ahead of schedule) and I have been anxious to migrate ever since. The first thing I “needed” to do was migrate my iTunes library and iPod. After all, it seemed like the thing to do!

Once I decided that the first thing I was going to do was move my music, I started searching on Apple’s website. I was sure that there was an article written that would tell me exactly what I needed to do. I was a little disappointed with the documentation I could find. I tried a myriad of search terms: “moving iPod from Windows to Mac,” “moving music from Windows to Mac,” “copying music from Windows to Mac,” “moving music between computers,” “migrating to Mac.” The search revealed many discussion postings and responses, many of which referenced a particular technical article , but I could not easily find a way to actually access that article. Once I found the article (and I actually can’t tell you how I stumbled across it; it was an accident), I thought I was home free. But I quickly realized that the article only showed how to moved music files between computers, but did not address any of the specific questions that I had as someone who was migrating to a Mac for the first time.

Based on the article, and my conversation with someone from Apple Technical Support, here is a summary of the steps to move from a Windows machine to a Mac.

  • You do not need to re-format your iPod. A Windows formatted iPod will work on a Mac, you just can’t go from a Mac formatted iPod to a Windows machine.
  • Consolidate your music library. iTunes allows you to keep your music in various places on your computers. Before you can move it, you need to make sure it is all stored in the same folder.
  • Enable disk use of your iPod. Accessing the iPod options menu can do this. This will trigger an update of your iPod. After you do this, you MUST be sure that you properly eject your iPod before disconnecting it.
  • Access your music library using Windows Explorer. This is usually found in My Documents/My Music/iTunes.
  • Copy the iTunes folder to your iPod by clicking and dragging it to the iPod icon in Windows Explorer. This may take a while. It took 3 hours to copy my library. I have about 8 gigabytes of songs, videos and podcasts on my iPod.
  • Connect your iPod to your Mac. iTunes should open automatically and identify your iPod. You will see a message that asks about associating your iPod with the new computer. You will want to answer yes.
  • Import the iTunes library on your iPod to the iTunes on your Mac. This option can be found under the File menu.
  • Delete the iTunes folder from your iPod. You will use Finder to do this.
  • Reset the option to use the iPod as an external disk. Go back to the iPod option to do this.
  • Update your iPod.
The one issue I encountered was that I had to re-subscribe to all the podcasts I listen to. Luckily, all the podcasts carried over to the MacBook, and all I had to do was click the Subscribe button for each of them again.

Next step, moving my mail!

Other [Geeks Are Sexy] technology articles

Editorial: Wow, guys, way to keep up.

So if you follow video game news at all, it may have come to your attention last week that a security guard at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was so absorbed with a handheld video game that he failed to notice an official inspector making the rounds.

The story broke on Friday and started to gain legitimate coverage on Saturday (sorry, Yahoo!, but your news department is so highly suspect that I rank its quality on par with The Weekly World News but without the entertainment value) and is now gaining the attention of larger news groups.

'So why are big news groups paying attention now?' I hear you asking, Dear Readers. In my opinion, it's because video games are such a hot button in the world of politics right now and are the focus of a great deal of legislative scrutiny... in other terms: video games equal controversy right now. Controversy, in turn, is something that people will pay attention to. Thus, controversy makes good news because it hooks an audience. Don't believe me? Just look at how many people followed the idiotic behavior of Tom Cruise compared to those who have paid attention to the recent actions of the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka.

To be honest, I don't think this would be such a big deal if the guard had been immersed in a book instead of playing a game. Apparently there have been five other counts of inattention over the past two years (hmmm... I don't seem to recall seing any of those incidents making headlines, do you?), so excuse me for getting just a little bit irritated at the fact that it's garnering attention now. I personally couldn't care less about what these guards were doing while they were cited for inattention... what I care about is the fact that nothing has been done until now. Have we learned nothing from previous screw-ups at these types of facilities?

Admittedly, electronic devices, computers, and books are allowed at Three Mile Island in order to help these guards stay awake and alert, which seems reasonable. So, what I really want to know is why they're hiring and keeping around people who are so easily distracted that they would overlook an inspector's repeated approach... especially when we know just how badly things can go

Monday, May 29, 2006

Multi-Touch Screen

The interfaces between people and technology have always interested me. It's also a critical part of my work as a web designer. And when I watch movies, it's interesting to see what kinds of fictional "shinies" and other gimmicks people have come up with to portray the future of interface technologies. For the most part, the graphical wonders that have come out of Hollywood are dumb, useless, or strickly plot-driven in their design. But every now and then, I see a creation that is thoroughly thought-out, and beautifully rendered. And then, I turn around and find some aspects of these fictional technologies beginning to be realized.

Seeing the
Multi-Touch Interaction Research demo video made me very happy today. Watch the entire video. It's well worth it.

People are finally beginning to build technology that can truly take advantage of all ten of our fingers. Mainstream technology (in the form of the mouse pointer) is essentially a single "finger" on our screen. It can be a very slow and annoying experience to work with just a mouse. In fact, the "ancient" technology of the keyboard is still much faster, especially in the hands of a talented keyboard jockey. Stylus technology, such as
Wacom's excellent tablet lines, are a step up. In some cases, I'm faster with a digital pen than I am with a mouse. And check out this video of a master artist working magic on a Wacom Cintiq. It's amazing. But these devices and applications still represent a single point of contact.

The Multi-Touch project is one of multiple projects that are beginning to break out of this model. How soon until we start seeing implementations akin to those shown in such movies as
Minority Report and The Island? I don't know about you, but I can't wait.

[Geeks Are Sexy] Official announcement

Microprocessor History

The guys at btxformfactor.com have pubbed a series of very interesting articles about the history and evolution of microprocessors through time. A great read if you are into this kind of stuff.

Microprocessor History - Part 1
It’s nice to know the humble beginnings and compare them to how far we have come in the computing capability of a CPU.

Microprocessor History - Part 2
There have been many players in the microprocessor story, but the two companies that have had the most impact are also the two that dominate the market; Intel and AMD.

Microprocessor History - Part 3
The pipeline is a fundamental feature of microprocessors and is the enabler for several other very important speed-up schemes. Let’s see how pipelines work.

Top 6 Virus Busters According to CNet

You can't really trust old applications when it comes to anti-virus protection, and that is why you always need the latest and greatest running on the background of your system. In this article, CNet has rated the top 6 antivirus packages available on the market today. If you are looking to replace your old AV software, then this would be a good place to learn about the different solutions that are currently available to you.

Selecting antivirus protection is one of the most important decisions you can make when securing your Windows PC, and the wide range of available products can make that decision complicated. CNET editors have reviewed six of the most popular antivirus programs on the market today to help make the selection process easier. Click any of the six rated products for a full review.

Read more.

Introducing The Teacher

My name is Erica (yes, that is my real name) and I am a first year technology teacher in a Junior High School in West Suburban Chicago, Illinois. Before I went back to school for my teaching degree, I was employed for 20 years (I have shoes older than these guys!) in the IT industry in various capacities.

I have worked with many different forms of technology. My first computer program was punched on paper tape and read into the reader of an HP mini while I was in college. My first paid technology job was as a COBOL programmer for a large insurance company in New York. I have worked as a systems security auditor, a systems implementation consultant, project management officer and a technical trainer.

I have been on the Internet since the days of dial-up and character-based browsers. My recent interests include how technology can be used to increase the effectiveness of public education and progressive politics. I am actually considering running for the local school board in the upcoming year.

My first series of articles will be about my transition to my MacBook. It arrived this past week and I can’t keep my hands off of it!

And the winner is...

Well, it's official: the ballots have been cast, the votes have been tallied, the appropriate officials have been sufficiently bribed, and the word is now out. That's right, boys and girls, Gamehelper's E3 2006 Awards have been posted on the web for all to see.

Now, before you ask: yes, every other major gaming site has put out their own award list; no, we don't particularly care about them. Also, I write for Gamehelper, so I'm naturally disposed to plug them when I get an opportunity. Now, there were a lot of amazing pieces of software on display at the show, and I'm sure a number of people might be willing to contest the decision to name Bioshock as Best of Show (titles such as Spore, Too Human, Gears of War and Assassin's Creed have received a great many nods). However, before you cast any judgement on that particular issue, I suggest you read read
Flying Maiden's coverage of the game.

After you read the awards list, feel free to check out the
rest of Gamehelper's E3 coverage to find out why we voted the way we did.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Firefox, for the good of the Internet itself

The Daily Telegraph recently had an interview with Mozilla's Mitchell Baker. Topics discussed include the Mozilla Foundation's finances, and Firefox's "snapping on the heals of Internet Explorer". It is by no means an in-depth article, but it's a fun, quick read. And the following quote gave me plenty of warm-'n-fuzzies.

"We built that browser for the good of the internet itself."


Smack your MacBook Pro!

First, have a look at this:

Interesting isn't it? If you want to implement this desktop switching hack to your MacBook Pro, just follow this simple how-to, and you'll then be able to impress all of your friends with your non-conventionnal desktop switching technique. Have fun!

Social Wine Networking

Not too long ago, Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits announced the launch of Cork'd, a social networking site centered around the enjoyment of wine. Though I've never really enjoyed wine, I can understand the need for this site. The ability to tag, keep track of, and share lists and information about a product that has such a staggering number of varieties is a godsend for those who enjoy that product.

This is social networking, but not in a sleezy myspace kind of way. The site isn't a thinly veiled attempt to vacuum personal information under the guise of bringing people together. It's not a mess of advertising and stalkers. It's a clean, beautifully executed vehicle to allow those who enjoy wine to not only keep track of their own personal favorites, but to expand their experience and share their knowledge with others. It hasn't been designed with "let's make money on the info we collect" mentality. It's a web app that's meant for nothing other than for people to use.

And from a strickly geektastic web nerd's point of view, the site is just sweet. It's built by a couple of really talented dudes, who did it because they wanted to. It's a true labor of love. They're also great blogging-types, and have both written about their reflections, technical notes, and other stuff related to the building of Cork'd. Links below. And they're not done yet. After growing from 20 to over 4000 users in the week after it was released, the dudes have done a good job of bug-hunting and digesting feedback. There's plenty more to come from this Cork'd corner of the InterWebz, and not necessarily wine-centric. Stay tuned.

Links of interest:

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Apparently Iran's Army wasn't cool enough

An upcoming and unnamed video game is finally letting Iranian gamers get back at the oppressive military forces of the United States...

*checks a map*
Um... forget about that last line, will you? Thanks.

According to Iran News, the game's plot involves the rescue of an Iranian engineer who has been kidnapped by American forces while on a pilgrimage to the Shiite holy city of Karbala. As a result, Commander Bahman (who was a friend of the engineer's father during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s) is put at the head of a task force whose purpose is to rescue the man.

Supposedly, the game is being developed by a group known as the Students' Islamic Association, but this is a bit difficult to prove at the moment (no link was provided and no clue was provided as to where this group was located, and a Google search brings up an insane number of links).

What makes this particularly interesting is the possibility that this game could be developed by a US-based group of students; if it is, this could prove to be a huge part of the "games as free speech" debate going on throughout various states' legislatures right now. Stay tuned: as more information turns up on this, we'll report it.

UPDATE: According to a far superior Reuters article, the game is actually being designed by the Iranian Union of Islamic Student Societies (again, sorry, no site was found, but at least we have the name of a real group). The game, which is due out sometime before March 2007, is apparently a response to Kuma Reality Games' recent Iran-based missions as well as the current controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear research program.

The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time

Why are people always writing articles about the best of this and the best of that when they could be doing it about the worst? Let's admit it, reading rants criticizing bad products is much more entertaining then browsing through 10 pages of text praising the top tech innovations of the year. The guys at PC world understood this concept and decided to write a little something about the 25 worst tech products of all time.

Still, even the worst products deserve recognition (or deprecation). So as we put together our list of World Class winners for 2006, we decided also to spotlight the 25 worst tech products that have been released since PC World began publishing nearly a quarter-century ago.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Evening Fun: A Picture Within a Picture Within a...

It's Friday evening, the day is over, and thank god the weekend is here. If you've got a few free minutes, have a look at this nice little time waster. The picture on this page is made of tiny photos. If you click one of them, it zooms in and displays yet more tiny photos. Forever and ever and ever...

The Invisibility cloak: One Step Closer to Reality

According to this article, it seems that we may actually see (or not see in this case) a fully functionnal invisibility cloak in our life time. The register has all the details.

After generations of being effectively invisible to the opposite sex, physicists have finally laid down blueprints for a functioning invisibility cloak. Light or other electromagnetic radiation could be bent around objects covered in exotic materials, making it appear as though they aren't there, a team reports in Science Express.

Wordpress users beware: cache shell injection vulnerability

This concerns all of you guys running any Wordpress versions that are lower then v.2.0.2. The vulnerability works regardless of all php.ini settings, if user registration is enabled, against an empty or weak MySQL DB password.

Read explanation for more details (via BugTraq).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hey, um, guys? Chill out: it's just a game.

Apparently Americans aren't the only ones who are overreacting to video games these days. That's right, it seems that Venezuelan supporters of Hugo Chavez are taking the plot of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames just a little too personally because the plot (what little we know of it right now) has the game taking place two years after the first Mercenaries title and occurs in Venezuela where a tyrannical ruler has started to "mess with" the country's oil supply.

According to a USA Today article, "Chavez supporters in Venezuela's National Assembly suspect the makers of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames are doing Washington's bidding by drumming up support among Americans for an eventual move to overthrow Chavez."

Now that we're done with the objective reporting: you've gotta be kidding me. Chavez's supporters claiming that the Bush administration is using this game as propaganda to support a US invasion is so far-fetched that I'm not even sure Jack Thompson would make such a statement. I might've been willing to give the argument a little credit if these critics had brought up Pandemic's ties to the United States' Armed Forces with their Full Spectrum Warrior games (which, of course, none of them have mentioned), but the game itself is being published by LucasArts. Did these whiners never see Episode III? Lucas and his subsidiaries are about as anti-Bush as you can get.

Besides, if I were Chavez, I'd be far more worried about my disgruntled subjects staging a revolution and holding non-rigged elections.

Microsoft's Alternative to JPEG files : The WMPhoto Format

Yep, Microsoft is doing it again folks; they're trying to come up with a new format to replace the decades-old JPEG one. Ok, maybe this is not such a bad idea, JPEG is kind of getting outdated and we really need to get a new universal picture format that will offer improved picture quality and a better compression rate.

Read more about it on CNet.

Interactive Router Chart : Which Router is Best for You?

If you are looking to get yourself a brand new broadband router and have no idea about what brand or model to choose, look no further; Tom's Networking has just released an interactive chart on their site that lets you see and compare characteristics from almost all the routers that are currently available on the market today.

Check it out.

Dell Strikes Back Editorial

The guys at [H] Consumer recently pubbed a great editorial covering a little visit they did to Dell's Headquarter in Texas to have a look at what the computer giant is doing to improve the performance in their XPS product lines. They cover everything from bloatware to installed driver revisions. A great read for all of you gamers looking for the "perfect system" out there.

Our four hours at Dell were not wasted with PR double-speak. Indeed, our meetings were with Directors and Managers that were immediately responsible for the direction of Dell’s XPS product lines. What was very evident to us was that the people we met with, including Michael Dell, were passionate about their opportunity to improve the customer experience and show us exactly how they intended to do it. They clearly outlined their efforts ranging from new products to a completely new software deployment strategy on their systems. We were even given a demo of Dell’s upcoming DellConnect technical support feature that allows a technician to, with the permission of the user, directly fix issues with a customer’s computer over the internet, cutting down on miscommunications and allowing Dell support to “teach” a customer how to fix their computers on their own.

Read more. (Source: [H] Consumer)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


"Lost. Lost. Lost."
"Lost what?"
"I've lost my marbles."

Gamer fans of the show
Lost got some good news yesterday: Ubisoft and Touchstone have joined forces to make a game based on the series for both consoles and PCs.

Yes, yes, I know: licensed games have the habit of sucking eggs. However, this title is set to be developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the development house behind such games as
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, King Kong, and Beyond Good & Evil.

However, this is not the first game to be based on the show: the series already has a bunch of alternate reality games on the net

Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that the game lives up to the show's name.
which many fans of the show are using to unravel much of the series's mysteries. Exactly what the game is going to be like has yet to be revealed, but Ubisoft's press release claims that it will be used to tell "new interactive stories within the 'Lost' universe."

Emerging Enterprise Podcast from Oliver Rist

My pal and fellow geek Oliver from Infoworld has started to publish a weekly podcast for SMBs a few months ago, and I must say that he really gives a fine, even if short, show. This week, Oliver tells us his opinion about business social networking sites and also talks a bit about web office applications.

We're on a Web applications kick this episode, discussing the validity of social networking to the business set as well as what we'd like to see out of all these new "Web Office" application portals.


Hey Doc, Are You a Gamer?

According to a study by the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at Beth Israel, Surgeons who warmed up by playing video games for 20 minutes immediately prior to performing surgical drills were faster and made fewer errors than those who did not. If I ever need to have an open heart surgery, I'll have to make sure that my doc plays a game of PacMan before he enters the operation room. Having him sit in front of Postal 2 or Doom III instead might not be a very good idea.

Researchers found that surgeons who played video games immediately before the drill completed it an average of 11 seconds faster than those who did not. Any errors committed during the training lengthened the time it took to complete the task — indicating that faster finishers made fewer mistakes. Source: Reuters

Read more (via RealTechNews).

Brand New Batch of Free Tech Publications

We have a brand new batch of free tech publications out for you guys, and all are completely FREE for the taking. First, we have Centralized Management Software: Best Practices to Control Your Data Center. Next up is another white paper named Managing the mobile/remote client. This document by industry analyst firm Summit Strategies identifies why companies have challenges in addressing patches, upgrades, security holes, malware threats, application conflicts, disk crashes and license compliance for desktops and laptops in remote offices. A good read.

You can also get free subscriptions to all of our other great magazines right here. Grab them if you want them, try them if you haven't! You can subscribe to as many as you want.

For once, gaming legislation that doesn't suck

So, remember how politicians and protest groups (read: the American Indian protest of Gun) have spent the past year or so getting their knickers in a twist about violent video games? Remember how they've all vowed to Do Something About It? Well, after a series of truly stupid pieces of legislature, it seems like one has been passed that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) isn't going to fight in the courtroom.

"So why doesn't the ESA have a problem with this?" I hear you asking, Dear Readers. The answer, according to Doug Lowenstein (head of the ESA) is because the new law doesn't attack video games in general. Instead, Maryland's HB 707 simply makes it illegal to sell, distribute, or display sexually explicit video games to minors (so, apparently, we won't be seeing copies of Sociolotron at local GameStops any time soon). While this might make gamers a little wary, don't worry: HB 707 doesn't lump violent video games into the category of pornography like so many previous bills have tried to do.

According to the new law, first time offenders can face up to $1000 in fines, while repeat offenders can face up to $5000. The law is set to go into effect October 1.

Potentially Malicious Windows File Extensions Listing

I just stumbled on this very handy listing of almost every known Windows file types that can be used to compromise a Windows box in one way or another. It's pretty ironic that this document has been made using Word because a vulnerability that allows attackers to install rootkits on a computer via Microsoft's Word was discovered on last Thursday. Don't worry, this file isn't part of the problem; its part of the solution. It contains over 200 file extensions and provides you with all the details needed to help you make an enlightened decision about whether you should block them or not.

First Official Pictures Of The $100 Laptop

The first working prototype of that 100$ laptop we all heard about was unveiled yesterday at the Seven Countries Task Force meeting. Here are the official pictures for your viewing pleasure. The thing looks ok, but a bit too teletubbyish for my taste. Maybe they should tone down the coloring and get rid of the horns before entering the manufacturing process.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Shiira Project

A good friend of mine (and fellow geek) pointed me at the following piece of software earlier today. As people who at times live and breathe inside a web browser, I tend to take notice when she gets really excited about something related to the InterWebz, especially if it's a new browser application. So what is Shiira? Quoted from their website:

Shiira is a web browser based on Web Kit and written in Cocoa. The goal of the Shiira Project is to create a browser that is better and more useful than Safari. All source code used in this software is publicly available.

I'm still, as ever, a fan of Gecko above the rest of the competition, but the KHTML Project and its mutant offspring WebKit are both very good engines as well. But what's so great about Shiira?

Take note that I haven't had the chance to test this software first-hand yet, as I don't have access to a Mac. In fact, I'm living in an exclusively Linux-populated world for the next week and a half. I'll be testing this software myself the first chance I get, but he impressions of the Barista Goddess I've found are trustworthy, especially in the world of Mac.

  • Features: nothing earth-shattering, but still impressive. Tabs, RSS support, download management. It has what it takes to make it a solid everyday normal-use browser, plus a little extra sparkle.
  • Functionality: some of the controls are apparently a little unintuitive, but installation is about as easy as it gets. Bookmarks aren't "imported"--Shiira talks directly to Safari's and Firefox's bookmark locations, so existing backup settings and whatnot won't have to change.
  • Usage: This sucker is fast. Written in Cocoa (OS X native GUI) and using WebKit (rendering engine optimized for OS X) makes this browser extremely snappy. In some cases, it appears to be quicker than even Camino, hands-down the fastest graphical browser for OS X that I've seen. It's even immune to laggy, stuttery Flash performance on a G3 iBook that inflicts all other browsers.
  • Dashboarding: Two words: Shiira Mini. For all of you OS X Dashboard junkies out there, prepare to be thrilled. There's a tiny version of Shiira that is implemented as a Dashboard widget. Quality web browsing from the Dashboard, with the option of quickly kicking out to a full-blown browser.
Will this browser replace one's workhorse browser? Nope. There's still nothing out there that compares to Firefox with a mess of your favorite extensions installed. But for a little quick surfing, this lightweight could be just the thing for you Mac users.

Check out The Shiira Project for more info, screenshots, and the download. Special thanks to Sarah McMenomy for pointing me at this software, and her hands-on testing and reactions.

Windows Vista Beta 2 Video from CNET

CNET has just released a video that lets you get a first look at Microsoft's public beta of Windows Vista. At a first glance, Vista's interface looks sleek and sexy, even a bit OSXish if you want my opinion, but that's probably nothing new to you guys. The video also presents a few new functionnalities, a revamped help and search interface, some integrated widgets, and a lot of eye-candy.

Check it out (via digg).

edit: PcMag also has 46 Screenshots of the new beta right here.

Preventing XP from Storing an LM Hash of your Password in the SAM Database

As you probably already know, Windows saves your user password in something called the SAM Database. It can store it using 2 different password presentations, or "hashes": The Lan Manager hash (LM hash) and the Windows NT Hash (NT hash). NT Hashes are considered to be pretty secure, but unfortunately, LM ones are not and are prone to brute force attacks.

There are 2 ways you can force XP to store your password using the NT hash presentation, and here they are:

1-Use a password that is longer then 14 characters

This is by far the simplest technique. Just use a password that is longer then 14 characters. If you do this, Windows will store a meaningless LM Hash value in the SAM database and use an NT Hash to represent your password instead.

2-Add up the NoLMHash value to the registry

This registry hack will force windows XP to store your password using the NT Hash presentation.

(Warning: Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall your operating system. Microsoft or I cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.)

  • Start, run, type regedit, click OK
  • Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa
  • Under the Lsa key, create a DWORD Value named NoLMHash, and assign a value of 1 to it (as shown in the screenshot below)
  • Restart your computer, and change your password.

Voilà, you are done. You might want to test the strenght of your password via a brute force attack before and after having done the procedure. This guide will show you how to do this.

Other [Geeks Are Sexy] technology articles

Microsoft Unveils FlexGo™: The Pay-As-You-Go PC

Microsoft just unveiled a new way for people to use their PC: a pay-as-you-go approach. If you are only an occasional user, this model might be right for you. Just go to your favorite store, buy a brand new PC at a reduced price, and only pay for the time you spend on it via some prepaid access cards. Most of you guys spends more then 20 hours per week in front of your screens, so something like this would probably end up costing you more money then if you would buy yourself a regular computer.

Monday, May 22, 2006

iDon't to iPods

It seems that everyone has an iPod these days: your friends, your brothers and sisters and even your 80 years old neighbor. I have to admit that Apple's player isn't bad, but there are alternatives on the market and people should have a look at them before making a choice. The fact that everyone has an iPod is not a good reason to get one yourself.

Manufacturers need to do something to fight back against Apple if they don't want to continue loosing market share, and iDont.com is the answer from SanDisk to this situation. I think that a lot iPod owners would have been happy to choose another brand of mp3 player if they would have known about the many disadvantages of the iPod before having bought one. Whether you are an iPod fanboy enthusiast or not, have a look at iDont.com; there's a lot of interesting stuff on there.

Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots from Anywhere!

Now this is a great idea! No need to search the web for hours now when you need to find a publicly available WiFi hotspot in your neighborhood. All you need to do is to send over your coordinates to ilovefreewifi.com via a browser or cell phone, and they will automatically provide you with a report containing the location of the 6 nearest hotspots available in your surrounding area. They've got listings for most major cities in the US and their database is growing rapidly!

Check it out!

Top 11 Signs You're a Victim of Identify Theft

Here are the top 11 signs you're a victim of identify theft according to BBspot.

  • You wake up one morning and can't remember who you are.
  • The insurance company sent your identity theft claim check to someone else.
  • The only mail you get now is addressed to "Occupant".
  • Your credit card bills are actually getting paid each month.
  • You find your house for sale on eBay.
  • Your dog runs to someone else when you call it.
  • You only have four distinct personalities instead of five.
  • You've suddenly started talking with a Russian accent.
  • Your shoes don't fit.
  • There's someone sitting in your cubicle doing your job. (this can also be a sign you're about to be fired)
  • You receive a new CD each month that's yours to keep or return within 10 days if you're not fully satisfied.

If you have a few minutes, have a look at the rest of their Top-11 lists, they are simply hilarious.

The WMD Case Mod Project

The guys at Bit-Tech recently created one of the most cool looking case mod that I've seen in a long, long time. The work that has been done on this project is pretty astonishing. Have a look at it yourself and you'll understand what I mean right away.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gadgets Now and Then Part II

2 weeks ago, I blogged about an article from Fosfor gadgets that was comparing tech toys coming out of the 70's and 80's to their modern counterparts. The guys at Fosfor just pubbed the second installment of this article, so head over there and have fun looking at the prehistoric versions of some of the most popular contemporary gadgets.

Yes, this is a laptop, incredible isn't it?

Friday, May 19, 2006

One small step for Dell, one giant leap for AMD

In what will be recorded as a milestone event in the history of AMD, Dell yesterday stated in its quarterly conference call that it will be offering AMD Opteron processors in future high-end server models. We don't know many more details than that, but analysts are already weighing the potential impact of this deal on not only the server market, but on the computing industry as a whole.

Read more at TGDaily.

Official Microsoft Windows Vista Requirements

There has been a lot speculation lately about what kind of hardware will be required to run Windows Vista on a PC. If you've been asking yourself this question, no need to speculate anymore because a new page has just appeared on Microsoft's website listing the official system requirement for "Vista capable" and "Premium ready" PCs.

Windows Vista Capable PC includes at least: A modern processor (at least 800MHz). 512 MB of system memory. A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.

To get an even better Windows Vista experience, including the Windows Aero user experience, ask for a Capable PC that is designated Premium Ready, or choose a PC that meets or exceeds the Premium Ready requirements described below. Features available in specific premium editions of Windows Vista, such as the ability to watch and record live TV, may require additional hardware.

A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least: 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor. 1 GB of system memory. A graphics processor that runs Windows Aero. 128 MB of graphics memory. 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space. DVD-ROM Drive3. Audio output capability. Internet access capability.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Microsoft introduces a search tool for all its search tools

At the 10th annual CEO Summit yesterday, Microsoft announced the introduction of an enterprise-level tool named Windows Live Search. If you think that name sounds familiar, you're probably right. It's the same as another Microsoft product, whose services this new one will actually be using. The goal of this new tool will be to integrate search facilities of multiple applications and web services under a single search interface.

Is it possible that two divisions of the company just happened to have picked the same name for their different products accidentally? Not from what you'll discover if you read further down in the literature. The new product is being touted as a single clearing house for queries, binding together the search and retrieval features of multiple Microsoft search-capable products. In that list of things being bound together under one enterprise-level interface are "Windows Desktop Search, Intranet search provided by Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Internet search via Windows Live Search, among others". (Source: TG Daily)

I bet that it won't be long until we hear people start screaming about this. Microsoft has always been known for their unfair practices when it comes to steal the target audience of rival companies. Would integrating a web search engine directly in Windows operating systems be considered uncompetitive, even if this engine is only a part of a bigger search application? I'm pretty sure it would.

Read the full story at TG Daily.

Biometric Scans for Nightclub Access

The Telegraph has a nice piece this morning about a British company named "In Touch" that recently released a product that will allow night clubs and pubs to register their patrons via biometric scan. All night clubs wired to this system will have access the same database, so you'll be able to walk from one club to the next, have you index scanned and voila, if the bouncer doesn't see any problems with your record, you're ready to go on partying. If you don't feel like reading the article, there's also a video of this story on CNN's website.