[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Monday, July 31, 2006

Microsoft unveils Vista upgrade matrix

For most people, the experience of using Vista will begin with the purchase of a new PC, however, a few of you guys won't want to change your box right away and will prefer to choose the upgrade path instead. Not sure which version of Windows can be upgraded to which version of Vista? Don't panic, this simple chart will help you make the right decision when the time to select your new OS comes.

Check it out!

Microsoft Will Charge for Office 2k7 Beta

Never thought I'd see the day that a company would charge for a beta, but here we are.

Microsoft announced that they will put a $1.50US charge on Beta2 of the Office 2007 suite, starting Wednesday at 18:00 (PDT)! I am currently downloading it, because I plan to test it this week.

"Since the end of May, Beta 2 has been downloaded more than 3 million times. That's 500 percent more than what was expected," the representative said. "The fee helps offset the cost of downloading from the servers."

I'm not too sure what COST they are incurring, unless Microsoft has a Bandwidth limit imposed upon them (and this, I highly doubt). This is Microsoft being Microsoft. If they can capitalize, EVEN A LITTLE, they will.
So for now, get it while you can, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Read Article from ZDNet

Windows Vista Speech Recognition Demo Gone Awry (Video)

According to this video, it seems that our friends at Microsoft will need to work extra hours on Vista's integrated voice recognition functionalities if they want them to be ready before Vista gets released... sometime in 2010 or so. Enjoy the show.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Companies Find It Hard to Keep their IT People.

For those of us who have worked in IT for 10 years or more, we joined the IT ranks during the height of the IT/High-Tech bubble (a buzzword for a time when companies hired like crazy). Back then, they were throwing ridiculous amounts of money at us, and didn't care if you knew anything (Hence the term 'paper-techy' - which stood for someone who was certified out the hoop, but had little to no work experience at all).

I came upon this great article in
IT World Canada which I thought was VERY interesting. It stated that companies have found it very difficult to keep their IT employees happy, or had troubles recruiting new IT staff. It also suggested that if High-tech firms or other non-high-tech companies wished to hold on to their IT personnel, they should start thinking of creative ways to keep them or recruit them.

"About 75 per cent of all respondents said attracting and retaining people was a major challenge." ~ IT World Canada

Surprised? I know I'm not! Over the years, I have worked for some pretty big firms. In the interests of NOT getting into any legal 'deep-water' I will not mention any here, but I will say this: I have found that in Ottawa (aka: Silicon Valley North), High-Tech corporations that have employee counts that number over 400 treat their IT staff like a number. We've all heard this before; I'm sure we've all said it at one point or another. Companies like this used to demand long hours of me. At one particular spot, it was nothing for them to double shift me, effectively making my normal 8 hours work day into a 16 hours one!

Shift work was killer. Working Tuesday Through Thursday between the hours of 11pm and 7am, and then working the Friday/Saturday shifts 9am to 5pm - was NUTS, and a manager actually gave me that schedule for over 2 months. By the end of it - I'd quit my job with less than a day's notice and told him where he could stick his --- you guessed it folks --- $12/hr job where the sun don't shine.

Furthermore - we IT guys don't like to sit stagnant. We HAVE TO LEARN. And many companies, including the one that I'm with now, refuse to invest money into the education of their staff. They want you to know everything right outta the box - so that they don't have to spend their revenue on YOU. this is becoming an unfortunate by-product of today's High-Tech downturn over the past 4 years.

"You are wasting your money if you try to retain them in traditional ways. What they really care about is: Are they learning? Are they meeting interesting people? Are they having fun? These are the three big drivers to retain them."

I've been lucky in my career! I worked with a fantastic Mobile-Software R&D company who made HUGE strides in the development of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic), and actually help put SVG into the Standard Spec @ W3C for mobile software technologies. They were cutting edge! I worked for them for 5 years and the only reason I stayed there for so long was because the 3 above things were present. They sent me away 3 times a year on course to further my education where it pertained to the business. The people I worked with were not only colleagues or peers, but they were also like a second family, and working there was a blast! I looked forward every day to go into work! At their largest, this company got to 125 employees, and then the "Bubble" popped and layoffs began, until finally, they were acquired by a huge ECM corporation based out of Waterloo.

At that point, my role as System Administrator became a glorified desktop specialist, and I felt as if I had no purpose.

Sadly - I guess I wasn't alone, as this article seems to suggest.

I'm in a much happier place now. The company I work for, again in the mobile technology space, is cutting edge, with lots of challenges. I hope that everyone else is that lucky too.

Read the Article.

Women in Linux

Via Slashdot

The Fedora Project, the project behind the Fedora Core Linux distribution, has introduced Fedora Women, a program to reach out to women who are interested in using and contributing to Fedora Core.

The post also mentions a few other sites as well. Though as a Fedora user myself, I guess I have a little bias when I say "ladies, go get yourself some Linux goodness".

In all seriousness though, the Linux world is a testosterone-charged boy's playground. In fact, the technology world at large is a testosterone-charged boy's playground. We need more women-folk. I'm not saying this because I'm one of those sad geek-dudes who almost never sees a member of the opposite sex. Just the opposite, in fact. The ITSS branch of the department I work in has a surprisingly large number of women. They are smart, talented, funny, and wonderful people who add SO much to the workplace. You ladies
do have a place in the technology world, despite the stupid stereotypes. And hey, the more people that use Linux, the better. Nobody's stopping anybody from embracing the penguin of freedom.

So, to all of you wonderful chicas who read this blog: check out the sites mentioned here (if you aren't already a Linux user, and are interested in checking it out). Using Linux is definitely geeky, and you know what geekiness means on this site. If you are a Linux-Woman, give us a shout-out! The comment board is open.


Read the original Slashdot article.

Introducing: The Other Sys Admin

Greetings Everyone!
I'll take this time to post a small introduction and give you some background!

I am an Ottawa native, born and raised, and started my career in Technology and System Administration back in 1996. Since then I've had a plethora of jobs: Anywhere from Tech Support to Technical Trainer to System Administration (which is my current role).

The worst disaster that I ever had to contend with was all out Exchange 5.5 failure. For those of you who have not ever had to recover an Exchange 5.5 server with No Data Loss - it's a fricken nightmare! Documentation on the procedures are so scattered and difficult to understand that I actually decided to write my own Whitepaper on how to do it. I later published it at
Tek-tips . Click here to actually read the white paper.

I'm an avid gamer as well. My latest obsessions are Guild Wars and Oblivion.
I game on my custom built machine: AMD 3700+, 1 gig RAM, West-Digital 180gig Drive 7200rpm, and nVidia 7800 GT (not too many of those around - but I have connections ;))

I don't have a lot of spare time, however, being a local musician. On weekends I team up with my ol'man and an old friend of his in a band called
The Rivals. Don't hesitate to visit the website and download sounds and the video of us doing "Highway To Hell".

When Kiltak asked me to join G.A.S .. I didn't hesitate. I've been reading the blog for some time, and find that the exercise of posting odd articles here and there will be helpful, even for me, to keep current in today's technical market.

So - *BIG WAVE* .


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Famous Logos redone for Web2.0

The "Web2.0" craze made me tired and annoyed long ago. It's a dumb, innacurate, meaningless, hype-filled buzzword. But it is applied to a real shift in web in web technology (not worth of a "full .0 release), and an interesting aesthetic standard.

Shiny glass/plastic, tasteful dropshadows and bevels, and the nice subtle gradient...this is the stuff of a "Web2.0" logo. It's all over the place. Look around, and you'll find this kind of design very quickly.

Even better, there are people who've had some Photoshop fun, and put together some nice (and rather pretty-looking) mockeries of this design aesthetic. What would famous (yet boring?) logos look like in the world of "Web2.0"?

Read more to find out. There is also a Digg thread on this topic.

Pentium OUT - Say Hi To Core 2 Duo

Well, it's the end of a era! I remember making the jump from my Amiga 1000 and in to a 386 back in 1986 .. and soon after came the Pentium chip which was CUTTING EDGE AND SUPER FAST!!! Oh how I look back on those days with a chuckle of longing for simpler times; but I digress.

Intel has announced that it has officially discontinued the Pentium program laying down new ground for competing head to head with AMD.

Intel celebrated a major milestone this week, officially closing the books on the Pentium era with its launch of the Core 2 Duo, the company's most important product to come out in 13 years. "This is not just an incremental change; this is a revolutionary leap," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said at a launch event in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday. The last time the company held such an event at its headquarters was when it introduced the Pentium processor in 1993.

Read More.

Update!: A video of the introduction of the new Chip has been made available thanks to CNet. Click on the Image below to see it!

Trojan Firefox Extension

Via mozillaZine

Anti-virus firms are reporting that a trojan horse that takes the form of a Mozilla Firefox extension has been spotted in the wild. The trojan, which McAfee has named FormSpy and Sophos has dubbed Troj/FireSpy-A, captures information entered into the browser, including, but not limited to, passwords and banking details, and sends them to a remote computer. The trojan comes with a Windows executable that can also record ICQ, POP3, IMAP and FTP passwords. Within Firefox, the trojan pretends to be the legitimate numberedlinks extension.

The good news? This is a windows-only problem, so you Apple nerds and Linux goofs are safe. Feel free to sadly chuckle at the Windows world again. Also, according to the mozillaZine posting, this beastie "does not use any Firefox security flaws to infect computers." It's just a piece of badness that piggy-backs its way onto a system as a consequence of another infection.

Read more

Friday, July 28, 2006

Late Friday Fun: Bad day at work? (Video)

Now this is one grumpy old man having a tough day at the office. Enjoy the show! Oh, and please, don't forget that throwing a monitor at an office colleague, or anyone for that matter, could make you end up in serious trouble, so think twice before doing it.

IE7 will be 'High Priority'

According to CNet:

IE 7 will be delivered in the fourth quarter as a "high priority" update via Automatic Updates in Windows XP, Gary Schare, Microsoft's director of IE product management, said in an interview Tuesday.

As much as I dislike Microsoft "forcing" new software on people through their Automatic Updates system, I'm pleased to hear this. I have a few musings on this from a couple of the different perspectives I inhabit as a nerd and IT professional.

Web Developer:
Squashing bugs that appear only in IE6 is a hugely frustrating part of a development cycle, and takes up entirely too much time. Designing for IE5 is far worst, but that browser has been largely ignored by the design community (as far as serving those user-agents rich content, at least) for the past couple of years. Now, given the above news, we'll be ignoring that dinosaur. As for IE6 users, the numbers will spike downwards sharply. Hopefully it won't be long before we can ignore that beast as well.

This makes me very very happy.

User Support Consultant:
So basically, users will be forced to upgrade to a new (and very different-looking) browser unless they actively try not to. This scares the poop out of me. There are a LOT of people out there who barely feel comfortable using IE6 after having used it for several years now. These people don't adapt well to even small changes to their computing environment. And yes, there are even those people still out there who don't know how to type a capital letter (you know, by using the shift key?). I kid you not.

These people won't understand what's going on, why things have changed, or how to use their new browser. They will freak out. We will have to help them not to freak out, and set their world straight.

To you wonderful (and technologically compentant) people reading this blog: if you haven't tested the IE7 beta, now is the time to start. If, for some reason, you are unlucky enough to be stuck using some required service that doesn't play nice with anything besides IE6, you can still be clever enough to run both browsers side-by-side. I've written about this trick previously.

Also, tell your IE-using friends and family. Get them to upgrade now (or try the clever hack above). Walk them through the transition now, and on your own time. It's easier to ease a few people into new software in small groups than it is to field tons of calls for help all at once. At the very least, spread the word so people aren't caught by surprise.

Cyber-Security Dork:
IE7 is better than IE6. It has better default settings, better default behavior, and is designed to play happily in your system with far less permissions than the previous version. Improved anti-phishing tools, better handling and control over scripting. Widespread use of this browser will (at least until the black-hat-wearers figure out new exploits and methods of social hackery) make people safer. At least initially. But as always, we'll fight those next battles when we get there.

Read more (via Mezzoblue)

When the Clueless Legislate: USA Bill Requires Schools & Libraries to Block Social Networking Sites

While browsing my daily list of reads this morning, my eyes stopped on this:

US House Resolution 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), was passed by a 410 to 15 vote tonight. If the Resolution becomes law, social networking sites and chat rooms must be blocked by schools and libraries or those institutions will lose their federal internet subsidies. According to the resolution's top line summary it will amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms

An incredibly vague law, DOPA will require schools and libraries to block access to a potentially huge range of sites on the internet. The goal is to protect children from adult predators. Sites that must be blocked include those that allow people to post profiles, include personal information and allow “communication among users.” (source: TechCrunch)

Shocking isn't it? Sure, I think blocking sites such as MySpace and Friendster from educational establishments is a great idea, but unfortunately, blogs and Wikis, which can be used as great learning tools by students, are also targeteted by this resolution. Good job Congress, by voting in favor of this act, you've shown to the world that once again, you guys are a bunch of clueless idiots.

Read more.

System Administrator Appreciation Day

Today is the last Friday of July, which means its the official day to thank your system administrator for all his hard work. Most of us sysadmins never get thanked for anything (even for saying up late at night to get those crashed servers back on their feet), so for once, a small thank you would definitely be appreciated.

Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do.

Consider all the daunting tasks and long hours (weekends too.) Let's be honest, sometimes we don't know our System Administrators as well as they know us. Remember this is one day to recognize your System Administrator for their workplace contributions and to promote professional excellence. Thank them for all the things they do for you and your business.

Happy sysadmin day everyone!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Get a FREE Flexible Keyboard from WatchGuard

Yes, this is a serious offer, and it comes from WatchGuard, a well known and respected company.

This portable, flexible keyboard is durable and comfortable to use. Just roll it up and go. Don't worry about sand or liquid—you can wash it right off. Get yours right now!

edit: Offer not valid anymore, sorry guys.

Paris Homes Test VERY High-Speed Broadband

Think your $15 per month 748Kbps high-speed Internet access represents good value for your money?? Yeah, I also used to think so, but now that I've read this, I'm not so sure anymore.

For €70 ($88) a month, customers participating in the fiber trial get Internet access, digital television broadcasts, and unlimited telephone calls over an optical connection with a theoretical maximum data rate of 2.5Gbps downstream, and 1.2Gbps upstream. The price includes installation and activation of equipment at the customers' homes, and the first two months' access are free.

Yes, you read that right: Phone, Television and a 2.5Gbps broadband connection for $88 per month. Sigh. I'm now officially depressed.

Read more (via tech. filter).

Firefox Is Out

The Mozilla Foundation has released an updated version of Firefox today bringing it up to version This release fixes several important security vulnerabilities, so if you haven't already done so, go and update it right now!

Firefox is a security update that is part of our ongoing program to provide a safe Internet experience for our customers. We recommend that all users upgrade to this latest version.

The newest iTunes peripheral? Video games.

(please, please, please don't sue us Steve Jobs)

Man, just when you thought the Left Behind video game couldn't get any weirder (criticism for its dominionist overtones, supposedly advocating Christian-oriented terrorism, and being an overtly violent title while its creators claim that digital violence is detrimental to gamers), it seems that Left Behind: Eternal Forces isn't going to pull out any stops when it comes to cashing in on its potential legions of Christ-following gamers.

Not only is there going to be in-game advertising provided by Double Fusion, with good old-fashioned spyware keeping track of what ads stay on the screen for what amount of time, but now there will also be in-game links to the Apple iTunes store.

According to InformationWeek,

"After each game level you win, a reward screen pops up with the name of the song and artist," said Jeff Frichner, Left Behind Games president and cofounder. "The link takes the person to the album track on the iTunes site."

"Reward screen," eh? Somehow, I doubt that players are going to be able to download that music for free when they beat the level; perhaps a better term would be "highway robbery screen" instead. To be honest, I'm still more interested in what's going to be in the "family-friendly" advertisements that the developers announced a couple of months ago...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Magic 8-Ball talks Zune

John Gruber (the Daring Fireball) does this thing where he becomes a Magic 8-Ball, and proceeds to talk to himself. Most recently, the Gruber-Magic-8-Ball discussed Microsoft's rumored "Zune" media player/store/service/thing.

Now some people who've been exposed to Daring Fireball might say "this is just more Mac-centric anti-Microsoft crazy talk from an Apple Zealot." Those in that camp should get themselves beyond that superficial impression and take a closer look at what John tends to talk about, especially in light of the cross-blog dialog regarding the Dive-Into-Mark "switch away from Mac" thing. The guy generally talks a lot of sense, and there are some important platform-independent issues he will sometimes address.

At the very least though, his posts (especially when he mutates into a mystical shiny black sphere filled with cryptic wisdom) are entertaining to read. To quote a small piece of the JohnGruber-to-Gruber8Ball dialog:

Q: And so now that Microsoft is abandoning the licensing model (or at least deprecating it) in favor of a closed model that they completely control, will all those pundits who’ve been predicting doom for the iPod for the last four years declare that Microsoft, like Apple, is now making the same mistake with Zune that Apple made with the Macintosh in the 1980s?


Q: Jackasses.


After reading the entire conversation, I also noticed a number of similarities with the continuing "We're going to flaunt a bunch of really cool features, then slowly gut said promised cool features out until there's almost nothing truly different or worth while" fiasco that has become the Microsoft Vista OS. I've stopped getting overly excited about Vista, and I'm not going to hold my breath for Zune either.

Contest: Get a FREE book from [GAS]

A few days ago, newfound buddy Chip from Chip’s Quips decided to run a "get a free book" contest on his blog. He asked people to give him a few reading suggestions, and the person who suggested the book he would pick as his next read would end up winning the contest. The Prize? One book of a value of less than $20.

I thought that this was a great idea, so I'm going to run the exact same contest. Leave your suggestion in the comments section, along with the reason why I should pick your selection, and in 1 week, I'll make my choice.

25 of the Best Extensions for Firefox

Firefox is great, there's no question about that and one of the thing that makes it so powerful is its extensions system. In order to find the best ones, you would normally have to go on Firefox extensions website and test them all one after another, but fortunatly, this guy did the job for you and came out with a list of the 25 best ones.

The following is a list of the 25 of the best extensions for Firefox. They have been classified into three board categories: those that add additional enhancements to the browser and improve a user's experience, those that add additional enhancements to certain web sites, and those that are quite useful but only for certain segments of the population.

Check it out.

Beginner's Guide to Motherboard Selection

A daunting task for beginners, choosing a motherboard is "only" as difficult as deciding what matters the most. Here is a helpful guide for the uninitiated.

We were all beginners once, but it's easy for experts to forget how much they didn't know at the outset of their journey. So, even as Tom's Hardware Guide constantly publishes motherboard comparisons, it's easy to forget that many newcomers lack the requisite knowledge to take advantage of the advice we give.

Read more.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Google Offers Real-Time Traffic Info for Cell Phones

Have you ever wished there was an easy way to get quick information about traffic jams? Listening to the radio to learn about them is so...innefective, so why not use your cell phone to do it instead?

Google is adding another weapon to the driver's arsenal with the launch of a new Google Maps for Mobile feature that provides real-time traffic information. Users can find a destination using Google Maps on their cell phones and then select the new "show traffic" option. The map is then highlighted depending on traffic conditions: red for traffic jams, yellow or orange for some congestion, and green for little or no traffic. (Source: arstechnica)

If you want to use this service, you'll need to

  • Live in one of the 30 supported US metropolitan areas
  • Have a cell phone that is compatible with the service

Check it out!

Solar Power Without Light?

Popular Science has a great story this morning about a small Florida-based company who came up with a new technology that takes advantage of the global warming phenomenon to generate electricity. Matteran Energy uses 'thermal-collection technology to heat a synthetic fluid with a very low boiling point (around 58F), creating enough steam to drive a specially designed turbine. And although a fluid-circuit system converting heat into electricity is nothing new, Matteran's innovative solution increases the system's efficiency to a point where small-scale applications make economic sense,'. I guess that this technology won't be of much use to us, who live in the great white north, but southerners would be able to enjoy its benefits all year long.

Read more.

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Mac Commercial Spoofs (Videos)

Here are 3 brand new Mac commercial spoofs. Enjoy the show!




WiFi in your Laundry Room?

Apparently, a new consortium of consumer electronics companies wants to put WiFi in your laundry room, letting you wash and dry your clothes remotely through the use of e-mail, instant messaging, or cell phone.

The Internet Home Alliance has launched an eight week trial in US homes, in Atlanta, to see how wireless communications can streamline the family laundry. The Alliance is the connected home research group of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA), North America's only industry association dedicated to providing information, education and networking opportunities relating to home and building automation.

Unfortunately, these new hi-tech washers / dryers cannot load, unload, or transfer piles of laundry between themselves, so I really don't see how people would profit from washing their clothes using these machines. I guess that this is just another clever way that corporations came up with to incite people to change their perfectly functional washers and dryers with newer ones.

Read more.

The EverCrack Epidemic : Is Game Addiction a Medical Condition?

TwichGuru has a great article this morning taking a look at game addiction, a condition that probably affects the life of many of you hardcore gamers / MMORPG fans out there. A very interesting read.

Video game addiction made headlines last week when a clinic in the Netherlands opened its doors to compulsive gamers who can't seem to pull themselves away from their PCs and consoles. The clinic is run by "addiction consultants" Smith & Jones, a Dutch firm founded in 2004 by Keith Bakker.

Is game addiction truly a medical condition? What do you guys think?

Read more.

It's Official: AMD Buys ATI Technologies

What has been a rumour for several weeks is now official: AMD just bought ATI. ATI already produces great products by themselves; just imagine what they'll be able to come up with now that AMD owns them.

NEW YORK -- July 24, 2006 --AMD (NYSE: AMD) and ATI (TSX: ATY, NASDAQ: ATYT) today announced plans to join forces in a transaction valued at approximately $5.4 billion. The combination will create a processing powerhouse by bringing AMD’s technology leadership in microprocessors together with ATI’s strengths in graphics, chipsets and consumer electronics. The result: A new and more formidable company, determined to drive growth, innovation and choice for its customers, particularly in the commercial and mobile computing segments and in the rapidly-growing consumer electronics market. Combining technologies, people, and complementary strengths, AMD plans to deliver in 2007 customer-centric platforms for the benefit of customers who want to collaborate in the development of differentiated solutions.

Read more.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Pornography Industry to Decide Format Wars?

Yes folks, it's sad but true: the outcome of the HD-DVD / Blu-ray battle will probably end up being decided by the adult industry, and unfortunately, there's not much we can do to influence the fight.

Just as in the 1980s, when the Betamax and VHS video formats were battling it out for supremacy, the pornography industry will likely play a big role in determining which of the two blue-laser DVD formats — Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD — will be the winner in the battle to replace DVDs for high-definition content.

Read more.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Late Friday Fun: Bringing Tech. Obsession to a New Level (Video)

I don't think I've ever seen a kid, or anyone for that matter, react this way after receiving a gift. Have a great weekend everyone!

(via fixgadgets)

Belkin's Wi-Fi Phone for Skype

Wi-Fi phones are great: they're cheap and they let you call almost anywhere on the planet for free. Free as long as the other person you're trying to reach uses the same service (such as Skype) and have an Internet connection. There had to be a catch somewhere right? Nothing is perfect in this world. If you're currently looking for a Wi-Fi VoIP solution, let me point you to one that is supposed to enter the market next month and looks quite cool: The Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype. With it, you can make free calls to any skype user on the planet without having to turn on your computer. All you have to do to place a call is open the phone, browse your list of contacts to see if the person you want to reach is online, and select him. Voilà, instant free call to any location! The phone will feature WPA and WPA2 with PSK support for secure calls and also 802.11b/g compatibility.

Check it out (via gearlog)

XP's No-Reformat, Non-destructive Total-Rebuild Option

Fred Langa from Information Week (Free subscription to the paper version of the magazine right here) pubbed a very interesting article showing the many ways people can rebuild, repair, or refresh an existing XP installation without losing data, and without having to reinstall user software, reformat, or otherwise destructively alter the setup. This is one of the most useful tutorial I've read in a long time. A must read for all of you IT tech wannabes out there.

It's one of those software design decisions that makes you scratch your head and wonder, "What were they thinking?" The "it" in this case is XP's most powerful rebuild/repair option, and yet Microsoft chose to hide it behind seeming dead ends, red herrings, and a recycled interface that makes it hard to find and (at first) somewhat confusing to use.

Read more.

Crime of the Future - Biometric Spoofing

Although biometric security systems have just started to go mainstream, some people are already starting to feel concerned about how secure these systems really are. It might be possible that in a few years, everyone will have to mask their fingertips because leaving them on a doorknob will be just as dangerous as giving your ATM card PIN to a total stranger. Frightening isn't it?

We are leaving our prints everywhere so the chance of someone lifting them and copying them is real. Currently it's only researchers that are doing spoofing and copying. It's not a mainstream activity--but it will be. Many people are trying to regard biometrics as secret but they aren't. Our faces and irises are visible and our voices are being recorded. Fingerprints and DNA are left everywhere we go and it's been proved that these are real threats.

Read more.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Daily Show Explains Net Neutrality Part II

Yes folks, after making fun of Senator Ted Stevens' view of the Internet in front of millions of people last week, Jon Stewart from the Daily Show decided that the subject needed more coverage and based a new episode of his show on the controversial subject that is net neutrality. Simply hilarious.

Cowabunga, Dudes!

If you were a child of the 80s, then it was almost impossible to miss hearing about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during the last few years of that decade. During that time, 3 movies were made: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (dumb, but entertaining for children), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (whomever decided to put Vanilla Ice into a kids' movie should be flogged publicly) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (kinda dumb, but at least they had better action sequences and some pretty settings). Now, over a decade later, a fourth film has been announced.

This movie, simply titled
TMNT, is due to come out March 30, 2007. It will be entirely computer animated and will keep the visual style and grittiness of the original Mirage comics. According to Peter Laird (one of the original creators of the comics), the film will feature multiple villains but none of them will be Shredder (in fact, Laird wants to keep Shredder dead like in the comic series).

Watch the teaser trailer here.

Battery-Fueled Car Will Smoke You

The world's first lithium-ion supercar is here and it's rocking. From 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, zero emissions never looked so hot.

The Tesla Roadster is powered by 6,831 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries -- the same cells that run a laptop computer. Range: 250 miles. Fuel efficiency: 1 to 2 cents per mile. Top speed: more than 130 mph. The first cars will be built at a factory in England and are slated to hit the market next summer. And Tesla Motors, Eberhard's company, is already gearing up for a four-door battery-powered sedan.

A range of 250 miles at 1 cent per mile means that it would cost around $2.50 to fill up the car. That's what I call cheap. The price of the roadster hasn't been disclosed yet, but unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it won't be affordable.

You can read the
full article over at Wired or go and visit Tesla Motors' official site right here.

edit: I got my hands on a video presentation of the tesla roadster. Check it out:

MySpace Infects Millions with Spyware (Again!)

Apparently, Myspace has been inadvertently serving hacked ads on their site infecting millions of unpatched Windows boxes with spyware. There's two lessons to be learned from this story:

  • Patch your computers
  • Don't go on Myspace
Ok, I have to admit that the second point comes from my profound dislike of MySpace, but common guys, at least keep your systems patched and have some decent, up to date anti-virus / anti-spyware protection!

Read more.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Winternals Acquired by Microsoft

The very excellent company Winternals Software LP (and its freeware side-project Sysinternals) has just become a subsidiary company of Microsoft. If you haven't heard of either of these companies, I very strongly suggest you check them out (especially Sysinternals). If you've ever been in a position to be troubleshooting or managing a Windows machine, their tools can make your life oh-so-much better. Seriously.

My feelings on this latest of Microsoft's acquisitions is mixed. On one hand, I don't like seeing geniuses of the likes of Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell being yanked from a relatively independent position into the ugly corporate beast that is Microsoft. On the other hand, these guys are incredibly smart, talented, and motivated individuals who (if the
Sysinternals Blog provides an accurate picture) definitely have their heads screwed on correctly and pointed in the right direction. There's only so much one can do when working on the outside, so maybe this new development will allow them to truly make a difference.

I’m joining Microsoft as a technical fellow in the Platform and Services Division, which is the division that includes the Core Operating Systems Division, Windows Client and Windows Live, and Windows Server and Tools. I’ll therefore be working on challenging projects that span the entire Windows product line and directly influence subsequent generations of the most important operating system on the planet.

At the very least, I wish them the best, and hope they continue to share their amazing Sysinternals software and incredible knowledge with the IT community.

Read more:

Who Are The Bloggers?

The Pew Internet & American Life project has just released a new report on bloggers. The short version: there's 12 million of them, they live in the suburbs, and they're older and less white than you might expect.

Look to your left. Look to your right. If you're not reading blogs on a regular basis, one of the two people beside you is. A new study out from the Pew Internet & American Life project found that 147 million Americans use the Internet, and 57 million of them read at least one blog regularly.

Yep, and all of you guys are part of these statistics. Personally, almost everybody that I know blogs regularly. It's probably normal since most of them are either IT workers or proud computer owners.

Read more.

Blogger Blog of Note: 23 hours later

For those of you that didn't know, the nice folks at Blogger decided that [GAS] was interesting enough to be advertised on their front page as the blog of note for July 18th. Are you curious about what it feels like to have your blog on Blogger's frontpage for a day? Check this out:

...and it's not finished yet, we'll probably be there for a few additional hours, bringing the total number of unique visitors to approximately 12000 / 15000. Not bad hey?

Flash Drives to Challenge Hard Disks for Laptops

A recent study from market research firm In-Stat suggest that within approximately 10 years, Flash-based solid state drives (SSD) will almost completely replace traditional hard drives in laptops.

When one examines the declining cost trends for flash, the users need for storage and the premium that consumers place on the benefits provided by SSDs, it is easy to see that there will be a clear demand for SSDs

SSDs have many advantages over traditional hard drives. First, they're much more robust then a disk because they have no moving parts (Bye Bye Disk Crash). Second, they're A LOT faster then all other storage devices available on the market, both in term of data throughput and access speed. This is because there are no platters to spin or heads that seeks inside them, resulting in almost instantaneous disk access. Just imagine how long it would take to boot your computer when equipped with one of these babies.

Read more.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Free Logo Design for You!

Yeah that's right! I'm feeling very "santaclaussy" today, so I'll be offering to one of you guys one free logo design (or re-design) for your blog. To participate, just leave your details in the comments, and I'll get to choose the winner in a few days. There is no luck involved in this contest, whatever blog inspires my imagination the most will get to win the prize.

edit: ok, I've got enough entries now. I'll let you guys know who won in a few days.

[GAS] Top 15 Posts

Here are some interesting statistics about the top 15 most popular blog entries on [Geeks Are Sexy]

Freeze your hard drive to recover data: Myth or Reality? 163904 hits
Forgot your Windows password? No problems! 119564 hits
Hard drive recovery utilities: when you can't afford[...] 93435 hits
How to make your own Ethernet Patch Cord 72546 hits
First Video Presentation of the 100$ Laptop 25450 hits
Cracking your Windows SAM Database in seconds with[...] 14828 hits
Securing your Home Wireless Network[...] 14594 hits
The Multi-Touch Screen experiment 13093 hits
Improving Windows XP Boot Time 7720 hits
Directory Harvesting Attacks Explained 5618 hits
10 steps to a better IT Support Process 4443 hits
Auditing your users passwords for complexity 3321 hits
Installing WordPress locally under Windows XP 3318 hits
14- The Inner Working of a Bayesian Spam Filter 3102 hits
15- [Geeks Are Sexy] : Introducing Kiltak 1803 hits

Lumines II to feature music videos.

The soundtrack to the sequel of the beloved PSP puzzle game, Lumines, has been announced by Buena Vista Interactive and has definitely surprised a number of folks with its inclusion of pop music tracks. The original Lumines featured a lot of electronic and ethnic music that, while catchy, was rarely recognizable to players as they tried to solve the game's myriad puzzles.

This time around, not only will there be famous songs along side the original music style, but there will be several music videos available as unlockable backgrounds (which, of course, won't be distracting in the least during the gameplay).

Songs and Videos:

Beck--"Black Tambourine"
Black Eyed Peas--"Pump It"
Chemical Brothers--"Star Guitar"
Fatboy Slim--"Gangster Trippin'"
The Go! Team--"Bottle Rocket"
Gwen Stefani--"Hollaback Girl"
Hoobastank--"Born to Lead"
Junior Senior--"Take My Time"
Missy Elliott--"Lose Control"
New Order--TBD

Songs only:

Junkie XL--"Breezer"
Stigmato Inc--"Reality Check"

New Vista Build - But YOU Don't Get It?

It seems Microsoft has come out with a new build. But the catch is, the ubergeeks who downloaded it when it went public (Myself included) aren't getting the update? It seems that this update includes some significant performance increases. Why Microsoft is choosing not to release it to the public beta has not become apparent. All that said, I'm sure persistant people like me might find a way to get our hands on the update.

You can read about the new release over in this nice article. I wonder what the over/under is on actual release? I'd put my money on March 2007, and I'm a betting man.

Eidos games help establish record profits for parent company. Theologians search for icebergs in hell.

Remember when Eidos used to produce edgy, well-made, and (above all) cool games? Well, since their takeover by SCi, it seems like this trend may get re-established and we gamers might stop getting junk like 25 to Life and Get on Da Mic and once again start seeing more fine titles like those in the Legacy of Kain franchises, Fear Effect, Project Snowblind, and Deus Ex.

SCi definitely has some incentive to produce more quality titles: according to the company, the exceptionally strong sales of both Tomb Raider: Legend and Hitman: Blood Money have provided a record-setting profit of roughly $45.6 million (around 25 million pounds). Apparently,
Legend has sold 2.9 million copies and Blood Money has moved 1.5 million copies since the games' respective releases this spring.

This is really big news for Eidos, who has been a bit of a laughingstock in the gaming industry for the past couple of years due to their frequently late and usually low-quality games (i.e. Get on Da Mic, 25 to Life, Smart Bomb, Shellshock: Nam, etc). Hopefully, with SCi at the helm, this marks the beginning of a new era for Eidos.

Read about it at Joystiq

Firefox 2 VS. IE7

InformationWeek has an interesting piece comparing the beta releases of both Firefox 2.0 and IE7. Who will be the grand winner of this confrontation? I'll let you guys be the judges.

The just-released beta of Firefox 2 may disappoint those who expected a major overhaul, but it adds a variety of useful features that make it a must-have upgrade for Firefox users, including anti-phishing filtering, better RSS handling, a built-in spell checker, and more advanced tab handling.

Check it out.

The Joy Of Sucking

I know the title of this post may sound a bit, uh, innapropriate, but I swear I didn't come up with it, Wired did! Anyhow, according to a new study, being bad at games can be just as fun as being good. Hmm, I wonder why I never felt that way while getting pwned by my friends in unreal tournament, there must be something wrong with me.

Recently, a team of psychologists led by Niklas Ravaja at MIND Labs in Helsinki, Finland, decided to study precisely what sort of emotions people experience while playing games. So they took a bunch of gamers in their 20s and had them play Super Monkey Ball 2 bowling, competing amongst each other (the top scorer won free movie tickets). While they played, the gamers were wired up to a bunch of biosensors -- including skin-conductance meters, cardiac monitors and facial electromyographs. Psychologists have long found that by detecting spikes in one's physiological activity, they can pinpoint the precise moment you find something fun or frustrating.

Read more.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Full Articles Syndication via Feedburner.

A few months ago, when I got our Feedburner feed up, I thought to myself:

"I'll only have FB summarize our posts so subscribers will have to click on articles of interest and visit [GAS] to get all the details about them. While doing this, they'll also get the opportunity to read all the great comments that people leave."

What a great idea! But what I didn't realize is that by doing this, I was forcing a lot of you guys to constantly click in and out of your RSS readers and into your browsers just to be able to read a few posts. Today, following the advice of Convictus, I decided to start syndicating the full content of all blog entries for your reading enjoyment. I hope you guys will appreciate this little modification. Thank you for your input Convictus, it is appreciated.

Private Folder 1.0 Update

Last week, I wrote a small rant about Microsoft and their decision to release a free add-on that allowed regular XP users to easily create a private folder that would encrypt anything they save in it. Unfortunately, the tool was released without having corporate environments in mind, so after getting hit by a firestorm of complaints from angry network administrators, Microsoft had to pull the utility from their site within a few days.

Private Folder 1.0 was designed as a benefit for customers running genuine Windows," Microsoft said in a statement to CNET News.com on Friday. "However, we received feedback about concerns around manageability, data recovery and encryption, and based on that feedback, we are removing the application today.

Today? This quote comes from an article written on July 14th. We are now July 17th and the utility can still be downloaded via its original location. Obviously, there's someone at Microsoft who isn't doing his job very well.

Read more (via tech. filter)

Get Your Name Immortalized on the Firefox Friends Wall

Are you a Firefox lover? Have you tried convincing all of your friends to replace IE by a better, safer alternative? If you answered a hearty "YES" to both of these questions, then now is the time to get to work and have everyone you know start using the world's favorite alternative browser via this location. To thank you for your hard work, Mozilla will have the names of all participants immortalized inside Firefox 2 and also on the Firefox Friends Wall, which will be located at Mozilla headquarters, in Mountain View, California.

So what are you waiting for? Stop being lazy and spread the good news!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

OmniPeek Personal: A New Alternative to WireShark (Ethereal)

WildPackets, a company best known for its excellent, even if expensive, network analysis tools has recently decided that since their number one competitor (WireShark/Ethereal) were offering their product for free, then they would also do the same. Hey, you know the saying: "If you can't beat them, join them!".

Walnut Creek, California, June 19, 2006 WildPackets Inc., innovators in advanced network analysis, today announced it has launched OmniPeek Personal, the first commercially developed Expert network analyzer available free for personal use. OmniPeek Personal gives individual users the chance to experience the power and extensibility of WildPackets award-winning network analysis technology at no cost.

Read more.

Download links:
OmniPeek Personal, WireShark

The Car of the Future

I'd definitely wish I could test drive one of these:

Friday, July 14, 2006

Here Comes The Killer NIC! Run, Run Away!

First, have a look at this thing:

No, you're not dreaming, this is not a video card, it's a Gigabit NIC!

Bigfoot Networks is excited to announce its revolutionary network interface card, Killer™. Killer™ is world’s first NIC designed to speed up and improve the performance of online games by giving gamers lower Pings and more Frames Per Second in their online games. Winning is Killer.

Unfortunately, pricing is still unavailable, but I'm pretty sure that this thing will be extravagantly expensive. It features a 400MHZ 32-bit processor, 64 MB of DDR ram and has a USB 2.0 slot. Will the Killer Nic really improve your gaming experience? No one knows yet, but I'll be sure to report back as soon as benchmarks become available.

If you want more details about the product, you can visit its official website
right here (via Engadget).

Positioning the Brain-Computer Interface

Giving paralyzed people the ability to move a mouse cursor or control prosthetic devices using their brain has long been thought impossible, but fortunately, a new brain implant now turns fiction into reality (Videos). The news was all over the place, so you probably already know about this, but what you probably do not know is how this new technology works right? If you feel the need to quench your thirst for knowledge, Nobel Intent has a great post explaining the basics behind this revolution. This is definitely a worthwhile read for all of you science freaks out there.

Read more.

Google Cheat Sheet

While browsing my daily list of reads this morning, I discovered this very useful Google cheat sheet explaining how you can use operators to customize your searches for better results. Thanks to Oliver from tech. filter for the great find.

Check it out.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Target drops UMD movies from shelves

In a marketing move that shocked... um... well... no one, Target has announced that its chain stores will no longer carry UMD-format movies for the PSP.

To be honest, this news comes as practically no surprise to anyone who has followed the movie format's lack of selling power and evaporating support from major Hollywood distributors. The lackluster sales numbers have been blamed by many critics on the UMDs' prices (equivocal to that of a brand new DVD) and the general lack of bonus features on each disc.

While one distributor's discontinuing isn't necessarily a killing blow, Target is one of the nation's largest retail chains and this could very well be the beginning of the end for the UMD movie format.