[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mac Vs. PC Cartoon

Yesterday I stumbled on this awesome comic strip from Tim Buckley. I asked him for permission to post it on [GaS] and he agreed immediately. So here it is for your viewing enjoyment.

(Click to enlarge)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Late Friday Fun: WhackYourBoss.com

If you just can't take any more from your boss, but don't want to end up in handcuffs for assaulting them, then this game is for you.

Check it out.

XP Search Not Finding What You Need?

If you've already experienced XP's marvelous *ahem* built-in file search feature, you probably already know that it is flawed in many ways. Want to test it? Just create a file named geeks.ttt containing a few strings of test characters and try doing a context search (searching for text within a file) on your C drive for all files containing this text. So, did XP provide you with the expected result? Of course it didn't (unless you already applied the proper registry tweak).

The XP file search engine is flawed in two ways:

  • It fails to find text inside files with the "wrong" extensions.
  • It misreports finding the match if the file name has the matching text even if the file content does not.

Fortunately, there's an easy fix to the first point (and unfortunately, none for the second)

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. We cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

  • Go to Start->run, type "regedit" in the run box and click OK
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ ContentIndex
  • Create a dword value named "FilterFilesWithUnknownExtensions" (without quote) inside the ContentIndex key and assign an HEX value of 1 to it.

Voilà, that's it.

Now, try your search again.

Click here to view a full listing of all [GAS] technology articles.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Introducing the RuBot II: A Totally Freaky Rubik Solving Robot

Is it only me, or is this robot giving you the creeps also? This thing can solve any Rubik's cube in a max of about 50 seconds no matter how much mixed up it is. Impressing, isn't it? Enjoy the show!

Intel Previews Potential Replacement for Flash Memory

pcm memoryEweek has an interesting article today about the invention of a new kind of nonvolatile memory technology that could one day replace traditional flash memory. Unlike flash, chips using this new technology will be able to execute code with performance and also sustain millions of read/write cycles without dying.

Intel, as part of a lengthy joint venture with ST Microelectronics, has produced the first Phase Change Memory or PCM chips—nonvolatile memory chips that work well for both executing code and storing large amounts of data, giving it a superset of the capabilities of both flash memory and dynamic random access memory.

Read more

Symantec says Vista will 'reduce consumer choice'

symantec logoSymantec recently issued a statement stating that Windows Vista will reduce consumer choice in the field of security software. Is Symantec right? And if they are, should this kind of thing concern us? The folks at ArsTechnica dig into the controversy and give us their opinion.

Symantec and Microsoft have always had an uneasy relationship: the former depends on the latter for a platform for its products, yet often finds itself in direct competition with the software giant. Now, with Microsoft's new operating system Vista still on pace for release in January 2007, Symantec is warning that the OS may harm it and other security software companies. In a statement released today, Symantec communications director Chris Paden said that Vista will "reduce consumer choice" when it comes to computer security.

Read more

Other related news:
Symantec Speaks Out Against PatchGuard

Zero-day Internet Explorer VML exploit demonstrated

Network security analyst Corey Nachreiner, CISSP, demonstrates how a zero-day security vulnerability in Internet Explorer can be exploited. The vulnerability we're talking about here is the VML flaw that Microsoft patched with MS06-55 a few days ago.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sony to Release PS4 this Christmas

Yes folks, you read that right: the PS4.


Tokyo , Japan- Sony President Ken Kutaragi held an impromptu press conference today, stunning the world by announcing the imminent release of the PlayStation 4. Deciding to forego the intended release of the much-anticipated PS3 and concentrate on the release of the as-yet unanticipated PS4, Sony has decided to market its new system as "a leap ahead of our competition."

If you haven't realized it yet, this is a joke, but definitely worth a read if you need a good laugh.

New Stranglehold media kicks viewers in the crotch...

...don't worry, it does so in a good way.

I actually previewed the game behind closed doors at E3 this year, and I have to admit that I was pretty darn impressed by what I saw.

See more at GayGamer.net

Announcing UC Berkeley on Google Video

BerkeleyUC Berkeley has announced on Tuesday that it is now offering over 250 hours of free educational content via Google Video. Definitely a good spot to visit if you need to upgrade your brain. The offered courses are divided into 4 categories including Courses, Arts & Humanities, Global & Public Affairs and Science & Technology.

The University of California, Berkeley is the preeminent public research and teaching institution in the nation . From classic literature to emerging technologies, the curricula of our 130 academic departments span the wide world of thought and knowledge. Supported by the people of California, the university has embraced public service as an essential part of its mission since 1868. The content on this page —drawn from campus seminars, courses and events—is just one part of UC Berkeley's commitment to the broadest possible dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of our state, the nation and the world.

Check it out.

Microsoft releases fast patch for IE flaw

windowsOnly 8 days *ahem* after realizing that attackers were exploiting the latest unpatched Windows VML security flaw, Microsoft has finally decided to break its normal release schedule and publish a patch to fix this whole mess.

The patch fixes the flawed way in which Internet Explorer handles the Vector Markup Language (VML), a proposed standard for coding vector graphics into XML. Attacks using the flaw were detected eight days before the patch, on September 18, by Sunbelt Software, although other security companies may have independently discovered the issue. Over the weekend, attackers used another zero-day exploit--this time in a Web application known as cPanel--to compromise Web sites and send visitors to a rogue page that hosted the attack code.

Read more

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WWW: The World Wide Waste of Time

What? Is it possible that some of you guys actually surf the net at work? We, at [GaS] would never condone such an unacceptable use of company time... but if you ever feel like visiting us during work hours, take a look at this perfectly awesome looking tool and try to imagine what you can do with it.


(via HardOCP)

2 New 'Get a Mac' Ads Hit the Web

Here are two new "Get a Mac" commercials: "Microsoft Office", and "Counseling". Enjoy the show.

Microsoft Office


Wouldn't it be great if someone would come out with a "Hi, I'm a Mac / Dell laptop, and I'm on fire" parody of these "Get a Mac" ads?

Convert a USB Hub into a Scary 6-Legged Monster with Glowing Eyes

usb monsterAs Halloween is approaching, Instrutables.com has a great tutorial showing you how to convert an old USB hub into a scary 6-legged monster, whose limbs can be attached to any USB devices. This is a perfect little project to do if you want to freak your kids out and bring the spirit of Halloween into your house.

Check it out.

Cell Phones? Hell Phones!

Convenient and beguiling, the cell phone nevertheless is devil's handiwork. Don't think so? Here's the proof.

I don't have a cell phone. In fact, I'm here today to tell you that they're the work of the devil. Switch yours off for five minutes and I'll explain why.

Read more

Monday, September 25, 2006

1,000 Page-Per-Minute Inkjet Printer

2 researchers from the College of Judea and Samaria in Israel have designed a new kind of print head that could allow ink-jet printers to print up to 1000 pages per minute. Imagine the size of paper tray a printer featuring this technology would need just to keep printing for 1 hour. One 500 sheet paper tray usually has a height of about 3 inches, so to provide sufficient paper for this kind of printer for 1 hour, we would need one that has a total height of 30 feet ( 9.14 meters). Damn, that's just too high to fit in my house. I guess I'll have to stick with my old 10 page-per-minute HP DeskJet then.

Researchers Moshe Einat and Nissim Einat have designed a print head called JeTrix that is conceptually similar to that of a LCD monitor. The printer head features micro-reservoirs of ink, and each reservoir is responsible for an element on the page, just like how each pixel is represented on an LCD monitor. Traditional ink-jet heads need to move back and forth across paper, but this new concept enlarges the print head to the cover the entire sheet. This allows a page to be printed in just one process, which explains the remarkable printing speed.

Read more

Experts Believe the Future Will be Like Sci-Fi Movies

robotIn the year 2020, Luddite terrorists attack technology infrastructure and artificial intelligences dominate earth. Or at least that's what 700 experts predict in the latest Pew poll. Is the future really going to be like a sci-fi movie?

The highly speculative scenarios presented to respondents are all vaguely reminiscent of various themes commonly found in contemporary science fiction. From artificial intelligences dominating humanity to disgruntled Luddites engaging in violence, the poll looks more like an abandoned script by Michael Piller than a serious exploration of the future. Let's examine some of the more colorful quandaries, and see how many of the concepts have been prominently featured in Star Trek:

Read more

Sunday, September 24, 2006

We Don't Need No Stinking iPod or Zune!

samsung q1Apple and Microsoft are going to compete for those who want to watch mobile video content, but who actually wants to watch a movie on a frickin' 2 or 3 inch display? Is there anything else out there that has no limits on content and provides a much better multimedia experience while still being somewhat portable?

I have loaded lots of content on my mobile devices, but watching video is done more to show people what can be done rather than what I actually do on a regular basis. Before picking up the Samsung Q1 I was using my PSP for video content on the airplane because it had a larger display for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Is video content really that enjoyable on a 2 inch iPod display?

Zdnet blogger Matthew Miller seems to have discovered a perfect solution to the problem with the Samsung Q1. Oh the Q1 is very nice indeed, but don't get me wrong, at $1000USD, it's way too expensive to be used simply as a media player. I'd also be curious to learn about how long the battery can really last on this thing. We all know how much video content can drag power from batteries on portable devices.

Read more

Friday, September 22, 2006

RSS 101: How to explain RSS the Oprah way

RSSStephanie Quilao from the "Back in skinny Jeans" blog has written a nice and simple article explaining how RSS works. For those among you who have no idea about what RSS stands for, read her post, and then follow her instructions to subscribe to our feed.

Today, I’m going to explain how RSS can help you live your best life online.

We all have busy lives with very little time. Web surfing is fun but can take hours going to visit every single website and blog you enjoy. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could just get all the headlines of the most current stories from all your favorite websites and blogs in one place?

Well now you can, and it is called RSS feed.

Read more.
Subscribe to our feed.

Apple Airport Vulnerable After All

appleA while ago our friend Matt, the web monkey, did a post about 2 researchers who had discovered a critical flaw in the Apple Airport wireless drivers. The flaw, when exploited, could apparently be used to take control of any nearby machines that were also equipped with one of those wireless cards.. The discovery was largely criticized by the IT community as being irrelevant because the researchers who discovered the flaw did not want to expose the attack code publicly.

Now, a few weeks later, Apple have quietly released the patch to fix the so called "unfounded" vulnerability. It seems that David Maynor and Jon Ellch, the guys who discovered this whole mess, were right after all.

According to the update issued by Apple, two separate stack buffer overflows exist in the AirPort wireless driver's handling of malformed frames. An attacker in local proximity may be able to trigger an overflow by injecting a maliciously crafted frame into a wireless network. When the AirPort is on, this could lead to arbitrary code execution with system privileges.

Read more.

Update: The Daring Fireball blog has some additional details concerning this issue.

The second issue, CVE-2006-3508, “affects Intel-based Mac mini,MacBook, and MacBook Pro computers equipped with wireless. Power Mac, PowerBook,iMac, Mac Pro, Xserve, and PowerPC-based Mac mini computers are not affected.”This list of affected computers corresponds to those whose AirPort cards arebased on Atheros chipsets.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pour nos Lecteurs Francophones - For our French Speaking Readers

For those among you who are francophones, you'll be happy to learn that I've just started to translate in French all articles and tutorials that were published on [GAS] in the past year. It should take me a while to finish the job, but if you go take a look at the new geeksaresexyfr blog, you'll see that I've already started to work on the project.


Pour ceux d'entre vous qui parle français, vous serez heureux d'apprendre que je viens tout juste de commencer à traduire en français tous les articles et tutoriels qui ont été publiés sur [GAS] dans la dernière année. La tâche devrait être d'assez longue haleine, mais si vous allez jeter un regard sur geeksaresexyfr, vous remarquerez que j'ai déjà commencé à travailler sur le projet. Si vous aimez ce que nous faisons ici, vous pouvez nous aider en passant le mot sur votre blog!

NWN 2 - On The Horizon!

http://www.atari.com/nwn2/It's so close, I can taste it!
The long awaited release of Neverwinter Nights 2 is drawing near... Despite the fact that it was supposed to be released Sept. 19th, 2006 - the release date, according to the 'online stores' is set to October 31st, 2006. This project has been pushed back several times, but initial previews of the game look GREAT!

I was a huge fan of NWN 1 - and all of its modules. I've finished them all, and since then, I've been pretty much empty! Oh sure, I've gotten my kicks with Guild Wars and Oblivion, but game-play in NWN is amazing, and captivating. I really hope that the developers and producers of this game managed to maintain the excellence in story-telling that made NWN1 so popular.

Neverwinter Nights 2 continues the tradition with an even deeper and more engrossing storyline, tremendously immersive character development, stunning graphics, and, an expansive multiplayer experience. The player's journey not only expands their personal power, but also their political power, as he rises through the ranks of Neverwinter society and can even becomes a lesser noble of Neverwinter Cities are alive in the game, teeming with the life of children play through the street, farmers lead their animals around, and passersby walk on their mysterious business. In addition, frequented locations change rather dramatically between chapters. Past the campaign included with the game itself, Neverwinter Nights 2 also gives you all the tools you need to build your own modules, campaigns, and adventures.

If it's all they promise it to be, I'm dying to get my hands on it! I just hope they don't push the date back again.

Visit the Official Game Site.
Visit IGN.com's Review Pages

Tuesday Morning Fun: Top Gear - Jeremy Shoot Out (Video)

Here's a clip from Top Gear showing Jeremy Clarkson shooting a range of cars with various weapons. Enjoy the show.

Hard Drives Go Flash: Samsung Flash SSD

nandTom's Hardware has a nice piece this morning presenting Samsung's new 32 GB Flash Solid State Hard Disk. How does these new drives measure up against traditional IDE hard disks and what are the implications for desktop and mobility users? A very interesting read.

Most attempts to speed up storage performance either use caches to store data that is used frequently, or they deploy faster memory solutions such as SDRAM or DDR-SDRAM. However, all of these require the steady supply of energy by means of buffer batteries or by sucking power out of the grid. Solid state hard drives based on Flash memory are similar to SDRAM-based solutions, but they are unaffected by power-related volatility issues, which plague SDRAM units. Data that is written to Flash stays - even throughout power interruptions.

Read more.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oldversion.com: Because Newer Is Not Always Better

Sometimes, when a new software version of one of our old favorites comes out we get all excited and want to try it out right away. We then proceed to update the old release with the most recent one only to finally realize that our once-beloved application is now an unstable, adware supported piece of crap, and that the installer to the previous version isn't available for download anymore.

If this kind of thing has ever happened to you, you'll be happy to learn that Olderversion.com can help you get back that old application you've been searching for so long. Their archive contains over 1000 versions of about 100 different programs. A nice little discovery for the nostalgic among you.

Check it out (via PopGadget).

Why Music Lessons Are Good For Your Mind

According to a new study to be published in the next issue of Brain magazine, children who take music lessons from an early age develop better memory function and show some increased learning abilities compared to those who do not.

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton used magnetoencephalography or MEG brain-scanning technology to compare the developmental changes in 12 children aged four to six over the course of a year. The study, to be published in the October edition of Oxford University's neurology journal Brain, found that those who took music lessons showed more changes in brain responses.

Personally, I'd like to send my kids to some basic music lessons when they turn around 4 years old. They may or may not like it at first, but in the long term I'm sure it'll be good for them. Are there any parents here who saw changes in their children's mental abilities after sending them to a music school?

Read more.

Torpark: Totally Anonymous And Portable Web Browsing

TorparkThe good folks over at Hacktivismo, an international group of computer security experts and human rights workers, just released Torpark, an anonymous, fully portable Web browser based on Mozilla Firefox. Torpark comes pre-configured, requires no installation, can run off a USB memory stick, and leaves no tracks behind in the browser or computer. It uses the TOR (The Onion Router) network to anonymize the connection between the user and the website that is being visited. Definitely worth a look if you are feeling concerned about your anonymity on the Internet.

Check it out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How Higher RPM Hard Drives Rip You Off

Expensive high-RPM hard drives usually deliver better performance, right? Wrong! ZDNet blogger George Ou explains to you why in an article he posted on his blog today. Definitely an enlightening read for all you PC performance freaks out there.

Conventional wisdom in the server and home enthusiast market says that more expensive high-RPM hard drives translate to better performance, but is this really true? I'm going to debunk this myth once and for all and prove to you that not only are you paying more money but you're getting less storage and less performance.

Read more.

Microsoft Jumps On YouTube Bandwagon

microsoft soapboxI'll start this post with a quote from my pal Oliver at Tech Filter:

Anything successful is worth competition

It seems that Microsoft, by launching a video-sharing site, wants to grab (steal?) a part of the 'YouTube' pie before too many competitors start to pop up on the web. The service, which is named 'Soapbox', is entering beta phase today and is supposed to officially launch within the next six months.

"Microsoft is jumping on this bandwagon with some uncertainty with where it's going, but the company believes it needs to be on board," Joe Wilcox, an analyst at Jupiter Research, told Reuters news agency.

In my own opinion, I think that Microsoft is just trying, yet again, to be a party crasher. If they don't plan to offer some truly unique features with their new service (and according to current reviews, they don't), their attempt to enter the 'video-sharing' market will most certainly fail miserably.

Read more.

Toshiba recalls 340,000 Sony-manufactured batteries

toshibaYep, just a few weeks after the Dell and Apple battery fiasco, here comes a third player in the big recall game: Toshiba. Fortunately, none of the affected batteries have undergone spontaneous combustion yet, and according to Toshiba, they're not going to.

Toshiba has joined Dell and Apple, and asked its customers to send back their Sony-made laptop batteries currently sitting in Dynabook and Satellite machines. The notebook maker's recall extends to some 340,000 customers worldwide.

Read more.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Screaming Mobile

mobile managerA company named Synchronica came up with a great solution to help protect your confidentiality in case your cell phone ever gets stolen. Dubbed "Mobile Manager", Synchronica's security service allows you to have your cell phone locked or nuked remotely as soon as you report it as missing. As an added bonus, you can also enable a feature that will blast an horror movie-like scream (MP3) through your mobile's speaker at the same time. A thief could always stop the wail by removing the battery from the phone, but as soon as he puts it back in, the screaming will resume. Awesome feature isn't it?

via Tech Filter)

Attack Code Targets New IE Hole

internet explorerFor those of you who still use Internet Explorer to browse the Web, you should know that attack code exploiting an unpatched IE flaw has been released on publicly accessible websites last week. When integrated into a specially crafted web page, the malicious code in question allows an attacker to gain control of any PC that is unfortunate enough to have browsed the rogue page.

Fully-patched Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 SP4 systems are open to the new attack, said David Cole, director of Symantec's security response group. "This is proof-of-concept code, we haven't seen any active exploits," said Cole. "Whether it grows into something bigger is heavily linked to if it gets remote code execution [capabilities]," he added.

Since Microsoft hasn't released a patch to fix this flaw yet, here are 2 simple tricks you can use to protect yourself:

  • Disable ActiveX controls in Tools-Internet Options.
  • Use Firefox
Read more.

Monday Morning Fun: Weird Al - White And Nerdy (Video)

We don't usually post music videos here on [GAS], but this one really fits with the theme of our blog and will certainly put a smile on your faces on this grey Monday morning (Monday mornings are always grey, aren't they?).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wii Console Walkthrough (Video)

Here's an interesting video from the folks at GTtv taking an in-depth look at what makes the Wii such a unique gaming console. Enjoy the show.

(via Techeblog)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

10 Programming Languages You Should Learn Right Now

Among thousands, a few programming languages really stand out for their job marketability and wide use. If you're looking to boost your career or learn something new, eWeek has an interesting piece that should help you make up your mind about which programming language you should learn next.

By picking the brains of Web developers and IT recruiters, eWEEK selected 10 programming languages that are a bonus for developers to add to their resumes. Even better, they're great jumping-off points, with loads of job opportunities for younger recruits.

So, do you guys agree about what's in this list or not?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mozilla Security Updates

mozillaSpeaking of protecting your computer...

Mozilla just released a number of security/stability updates that patch a number of important vulnerabilities. More information is available via links supplied by
a set of mozillazine bulletins.

If you are running Firefox, Thunderbird, Seamonkey, and/or Camino, this is important to you. Do the right thing, and update your software installations (and those of anyone else you have nerdish influence over). Specific vulnerability information regarding these programs can be found below:

The 14 Best Ways To Protect Your Computers

Infoworld columnist Roger A. Grimes pubbed a nice little article this morning listing 14 simple ways to protect your computers. This article is mainly targeted at people who have to manage a large number of boxes, but some of the tips he gives can be applied to simple, stand-alone systems.

Forget expensive IDSes, host-based IDSes, and unified threat management appliances. Here's how to really get the best security bang for your buck:

Here are a few links to articles we have on [GAS] that will be of use to you if you want to implement some of the suggestions that are given in the article:

4. Secure your passwords. Require long passwords, 10 characters or longer for normal users, 15 characters or longer for admin accounts. Implement account lockout, if even with only a one-minute lockout. On Windows, disable LM password hashes. On Unix/Linux, use the newer crypt(3) hashes, MD5 style hashes, or even better, bcrypt hashes if your OS supports it.

8. Update patch management for OSes and all applications. Have you patched Macromedia Flash, Real Player, and Adobe Acrobat lately?

9. Implement anti-virus, anti-spam, and anti-spyware tools on the gateway and/or at the host-level.

Optimizing Your Backup Tape Rotation Strategy

Backups are a primordial part of any corporate disaster recovery plan, so to maximize their effectiveness you have to keep your data as long as you can, on the least number of medias possible. We don't want to have 600 tapes sitting uselessly in an expensive out-of-location vault when there's a way to only have a few. Backup tapes can be expensive and secure storage space is even more so.

There are many ways you can rotate your backup medias, but today I'm going to talk to you about my strategy of choice: the Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) backup rotation strategy.

To use this rotation scheme you'll need:

  • 4 Daily or "Son" tapes (or 8 if you rotate these tapes bi-monthly)
  • 3 Weekly or "Father" tapes
  • 1 Monthly or "Grandfather" tape (Not reusable, you need a new one each month)

Here's a small graphic showing you my backup schedule:

(click to get a larger view)

You can see by looking at the graphic, the GFS method will allow you to go back to get data anywhere in the last 2 weeks, all end-of-weeks for a month, and all end-of-months for as long as you want to keep your monthly tapes.

All tapes, except the "Grandfather" one, will be reusable. The "Grandfather" tape is usually removed from the rotation scheme to be stored off-site on the last business day of each month. A new Grandfather tape has to take the place of the old one for the next monthly backup.

People who back up a huge amount of data usually do full backups on Weekly and Monthly tapes, and incremental ones for daily backups. Since my company doesn't have that much information to back up, I do full backups all the time. It's a matter of choice.

One of the disadvantages of using the GFS rotation scheme is that each tape is used until it fails, and tapes do fail, trust me. The only thing you can do to prevent this is to replace your most used ones once in a while. I replace my daily and weekly tapes every 2 years. Some manufacturers suggest that their media can support up to 10,000 cartridge uses, but I prefer not to take any chances.

As you can see, having a good rotation strategy for your tapes has many advantages. If you are not using such a strategy already, what are you waiting for?

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Get An RC1 Product Key With Your Hotmail, Msn Or Live ID

If you have a Live, Hotmail or MSN ID and are searching for a Vista RC1 product key, look no further! Just use your ID to login to this site and Microsoft will graciously provide you with a new key, which can be installed on up to 10 PCs, on the spot.

Thank you for your interest in Microsoft Windows Vista. Your Windows Vista RC1 Product Key is listed below. A confirmation email has been sent to your registered email address containing your Product Key. If you do not receive this email in 24 hours, please check your filtered mail (junk mail) folder.

(Via HardOCP)

Microsoft's Live.com Goes Live!

microsoft liveMicrosoft's new search portal, Live.com, has officially left beta status. In addition, the company announced that Live.com would now be the default search for MSN. Is MSN on the way out? Will Microsoft's new search engine challenge the supremacy of Google.com?

Microsoft took another step forward in their Windows Live software development effort yesterday, as they announced that the search portal Live.com was officially leaving beta status. In addition, the company revealed that Live Search would be replacing the older MSN Search portal on MSN.com and all of Microsoft's web-based search products, including the MSN Search option on the toolbar in Internet Explorer 7.

Read more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cubicle War 2006 (Video)

IT People Are A Breed Apart

Yep folks, it's official: techies are a breed apart. According to new research by Intermedia.NET, IT staff are twice as likely as other staff members to wear a heavy metal T-shirt and carry a Maglite and a Leatherman. They are also 34% more likely to wear a ponytail, 63% more likely to wear black jeans; and 32% less likely to wear clean clothes every day.

Our research provides an interesting insight into the life of IT people,” said Rurik Bradbury, VP marketing for Intermedia.NET. “Our large Microsoft Gold Certified team of engineers was comforted that IT people are twice as likely to wear Megadeth and similar t-shirts, and that black jeans and ponytails are still hot items. However, they were distraught to find that the cellphone belt clip has gone ‘mainstream’ and lost its identification with the IT subculture.

Read more.

Once, Twice, Three Times an IE Patch

internet explorerMicrosoft has been forced yet again to reissue a cumulative IE patch for a third time to cover a 10th remote code vulnerability that was missed in the original releases. Good job Microsoft, well done! (Can you sense the irony here?)

Microsoft's Patch Tuesday on Sep. 12 brought three bulletins covering a three software flaws, but the day will be remembered most for an Internet Explorer mega-patch that is being re-rereleased to address a 10th vulnerability that was missed by the software maker.

Read more.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Star Trek just turned 40!

40 years ago, on the 8 of September 1966, the first episode of Star Trek was broadcasted in the U.S. Since then, we have seen more than 700 episodes, ten movies and countless books and video games. To celebrate this event, here's a compilation of articles that intend to pay homage to our favorite sci-fi creation of all time.

Star Trek is 40: Official announcement from StarTrek.com

Set Phasers To Arial: Celebrating 40 Years of Star Trek Fiction: As Star Trek celebrates its big four-oh, TwitchGuru takes a look back over four decades of Star Trek fiction in print. They cover the highs, the lows and the future of Star Trek fiction, and include interviews with two of the franchise's leading authors: David Mack and Margaret Bonanno.

The Best - And Worst - Of Star Trek Movies: Since Star Trek's debut in 1966, we have had ten movies - some great, some not so great. The guys at TwitchGuru take a look at these movies and assess their place in Trek history.

Five Ways to Cure Star Trek's Midlife Crisis: After being on air for 40 years - the Star Trek franchise is really starting to show its age, thanks to a string of disappointing television series and feature films. Now the future of the series is in doubt. Can Trek bounce back? Besides a Genesis torpedo and Vulcan mysticism, here are five ways to resurrect the franchise.

A Star Date With Shatner: The Star Trek icon chats with Wired News about the franchise's staying power, video games and the unintelligible language of Esperanto fans.

Trek Tech: 40 years since the Enterprise's inception, some of its science fiction gadgets are part of everyday life.


Dell Unveils First AMD Desktop

AMDOn September 13, for the first time in its history, Dell will start selling AMD powered PCs on their website. The new desktops, mainly designed for consumers and SMBs, will offer AMD's Sempron, Athlon 64 and dual-core Athlon 64 X2 chips.

Dell, which had long been an Intel-only shop, made the jump to AMD because it has been convinced that customers wanted AMD chips and also that AMD itself is on good standings in terms of technology and manufacturing capacity.

Read more.

The iBreath® iPod Alcohol Breathalyzer

Davidsteele.com has a nice little iPod accessory that you might want to consider buying before the holiday season begins.

The iBreath® is a unique iPod accessory that includes a fully functioning alcohol breathalyzer and integrated FM transmitter. Just fold out the BAC blow wand and exhale into it for a full 5 seconds. 5 seconds later, this jail-saving gizmo let's you know if you're safe to drive. It even houses a timer that can be set from 1 minute up to 4 hours in order to remind you when it's time for the next test.

The iBreath comes in black or white and costs $79. A real deal if it can help you avoid doing some jail time.

Check it out.

Expanding the challenge to the iTunes market

emusicGreat news for all you UK and European based, non-iPod owning, music lovers. The second largest online download retailer has opened its doors to the UK and European market:

eMusic is the second most successful download site in the US after Apple's iTunes Music Store, and will sell tracks from 8,500 independent labels.

The subscription-based site will offer MP3 recordings that work on all digital music players, including Apple's iPod.

And unlike Apple's iTunes AAC formatting, tracks are available in MP3 format and without restrictive Digital Rights Management:

Apple and many other legal download services that use their own DRM technology also limit the numbers of computers a track can be played on, or the number of times it can be burnt onto a CD.

eMusic does not use any DRM.

"We are not against DRM," said Steve McCauley, European president of eMusic. "But we are against technology that prevents customers doing what they want with their music."

read full story


Monday, September 11, 2006

The Ultimate Lego Rubberband Chaingun (Video)

Yeah, you read that right. This device can shoot around 11 rounds of rubber bands per second. Impressive isn't it? This would definitely be the ultimate weapon to use in an office war game. Enjoy the show!

A Note Regarding Internet Privacy

Earlier this evening, I received a message from a friend of mine asking me to explain and illuminate some privacy stuff with regard to the latest release of Facebook.com (a social networking site similar to MySpace). My response to her ended up being less of a personal correspondence, and more of a general blurb that deserved wider attention. I then posted it on my blog.

After a little more idle reflection before hurrying off to work, I realized that the last bit of my blurb was something that applies to all of us Internet users. In fact, it is a point that most people don't think about, let alone understand.

It doesn't matter how much "security" is built into the website itself. It is still hosted on publicly accessible machines that we have no real control over. Any and all information that we put on there should be considered completely public. It can go literally anywhere at literally any time. Who knows how many people have access to Facebook's backend databases? We have absolutely no control over where this information goes or how it is used. We can only trust that Zuckerberg & Co. actually do what they say they do, and that any future owners of Facebook can be similarly trusted. And this goes not only for Facebook, but also for every single website, web-service, and web-application anywhere.

Parsing and caching by search engines, archival by the Wayback Machine, even backups made by your web host all disseminate information posted online to locations that are outside of your direct control as well. It's a reality of the system, and it isn't going to change. Please read my original post before sending hate-comments calling me a Facebook-hater. I'm not.

This isn't being paranoid, it's just common sense, mixed with a bit of technical knowledge about how the system works. "Know where your information is going, what could happen to it, and act accordingly. It's as simple as that."

Read your feeds with Microsoft Max (Beta)

For those of you who are not satisfied with their current feed reader, you'll be pleased to learn that Microsoft has just released a new version of Microsoft Max (beta), a slick looking, multi-purpose application that combines both feed reading and photo viewing/sharing functionalities. I installed it on my Windows box this morning and I must say that up to now I don't really have anything bad to say about it, except that the reading interface doesn't provide enough details about each article it displays. If the MS Max team could integrate additional ways to present feeds into their software, I'd be an happy guy and Max would probably become my feed reader of choice. Even with this limitation, the application is definitely worth a look anyway.

Microsoft® Codename Max is your opportunity to try a new, exciting experience from Microsoft. Today Max lets you make beautiful photo slideshows to share with your family and friends. You can also use the newsreader to keep up with the latest news updates from around the world.

Check it out (via LifeHacker).

10 Unknown Windows Freeware Applications You Should Know About

freewareWhile browsing my daily list of reads this morning, I stumbled on this old but still interesting article listing 10 unknown freeware applications that any geek should know about. There's really some great apps in there, so I would definitely recommend that you guys take a look at some of them.

There are dozens of well known freeware applications out there. From web browsers to word processors to anti-viruses, there is freeware everywhere. Take a look at these 10 great Windows freeware applications you have probably either never heard of or never fully looked into.

Read more.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

iPod: disappearing up its own headphone socket?

It's not without considerable interest that I read a piece in The Observer online today.

If what is being reported is a true reflection of the current status (and I have no reason to disbelieve) it appears as if the iPod could finally be in danger of falling foul of its own success story:

The iPod, the digital music player beloved of everyone from Coldplay's Chris Martin to President George Bush, is in danger of losing its sheen. Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate. Industry experts talk of a 'backlash' and of the iPod 'wilting away before our eyes'. Most disastrously, Apple's signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool.

On Tuesday the eyes of iPod-lovers the world over will be on Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, when he seeks to allay fears that it could follow Sony's tape-playing Walkman into the recycling bin of history.

Myself, I’ve never owned one, and never really wanted one. I had already bought into the Creative market before Apple even launched the iPod and as such never felt the need to switch. Don’t get me wrong though, as a consumer, trained product designer and lover of all things gadget related I’ll admit I've had moments when I considered buying one, well, just out of curiosity.

But even I’m not that wasteful with money.

I was largely dissuaded because I felt that my Creative player had more to offer me by way of functionality than an iPod would.

However, many of my friends and peers have purchased those ubiquitous white boxes. This gave me access to a whole range of iPods, and then in turn the subsequent comments from the users themselves.

There appeared to be a common theme: battery issues and file type restrictions being the primary two. Precisely what sold me on my Creative player in the first place. On top of this I know a not inconsiderable number of people who have owned one and have stated they will never buy one again. Or still own one and rarely use it at all. “Expensive paperweight” being my favourite quote.

I felt vindicated for sticking to my guns and not buying in.

I’ve been laughed at, by many of these same people for staying with my, clearly unfashionable, Creative player. But amusingly it’s a player I’ve had for years, without fault. With no restrictions on file types and transfers. And a battery I can replace myself should I ever need to (I haven’t yet, after 3 years and constant playing).

Interestingly in the article, Carla Avruch from The Zandl Group is quoted as saying:

'Panellists cite that the batteries are not replaceable, so when they die the entire player must be replaced,' she said. 'We have heard from some conspiracy theorists that the batteries are made to die soon after the warranty ends.

'Other complaints are that iTunes [Apple's online music store] is overpriced and the format is not easily transferred on to other players. In our ethnography interviews, some long-time iPod-users told us that they have stopped updating their iPods because it's too much work, while other consumers who had bought iPods more recently had not even taken theirs out of the package to set it up.'

So it seems that my vindication could be even further founded.

As a designer I was always aware of the clear distinction between ‘form’ and ‘function’. In the case of iPod I firmly believe that Apple have embraced the idiom ‘function follows form’ with gusto, sacrificing potentially fruitful functionality to produce an expensive box that looks sleek and not a whole lot else.

In addition to this, for me personally iPods are just too common. They’re everywhere. If I’m going to spend that amount of money on a new toy I prefer it to be something more interesting. Purchased with a little more imagination.

My suggestion? Do yourself a favour and look at other manufacturers, there are many, many interesting alternatives:

  • Creative have a variety of options (and Creative have stepped up their game considerably in recent times, many of their players clearly in direct competition with Apple).
  • The SanDisk Sansa series offering an alternative degree of function flexibility (memory expansion, multiple file formats etc).
  • Or if you want something with even more dynamism you could do worse than look at my personal favourite, the Archos range (the AV 500 for example, 100GB internal hard drive, 4" colour screen, music player, video recording etc. A little more money from your wallet maybe, but when it comes with a promise of up to 400 hours of video, 250 movies, or 1 million photos I’m pretty sure you’ll get your moneys worth in no time at all).
And those are just for starters.

I'm curious to hear what the next installment in the iPod saga will entail. It should be interesting to see what Steve Jobs brings to the table on the future of the iPod at the conference on Tuesday. Innovate to stay ahead ‘n all that. Although I’m fairly certain no new developments will ever sway my opinion to any great degree.

Sadly I don’t imagine for one minute that iPod is about to come crashing down in flames overnight. However, when something dominates the market to such a degree, I suspect it really is just a matter of time before iPod really will get sucked into its own little Click Wheel.

Read full Observer story.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

XP Support - Are you Feeling Lucky?

There has been a lot of speculation about what lengths Microsoft would go to push consumers and businesses alike over to its Vista brand. According to this article, business users don't have that much to be scared of.

It looks like corporate support for Windows XP Pro should extend well into 2014 for businesses. Home users aren't so lucky though. It appears that support for XP Home and XP Media Center could end as early as 2009. That's not a lot of time, for the most vulnerable users to have to feel the pressure to upgrade their OS. What this will more realistically create is a whole throng of users that will lack OS updates, and will be forced to either ignorantly plunge ahead vulnerable, or add a few dollars to Bill Gates money vault he swims in every day.

Software Pirate Gets 87 Months in Prison

If you've been considering pirating software recently, here is a story that should help discourage you from pursuing this idea.

A 26-year-old California man who pleaded guilty last December to criminal copyright infringement charges was sentenced today to 87 months in federal prison -- the longest U.S. sentence ever for software piracy -- for his role in illegally copying and selling pirated software.

Read more.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Purchased an Intel Centrino Duo Laptop Recently?

Centrino DuoI just stumbled on this awesome deal, thought that I'd share it with you guys since there's probably a few of you who purchased a Centrino Duo laptop recently.

Now through October 31, 2006, when you purchase a notebook with Intel® Centrino® Duo mobile technology, you can get a Relax Pack, filled with extra “stay connected” offers. (Total value: $400)

The Intel Small Business Relax Pack contains one backpack, one pad folio with pen, card for 20 sessions of unlimited access from any AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot, $100 in Marriott Bonus Bucks and a Marriott Two for One Bonus Round of Gold, $5 off coupon from Connexion by Boeing and a Skype internet calling starter kit.

Get your free Relax Pack now (US only).

PC Magazine's Top 99 Undiscovered Web Sites

Yeah, I know, there's already too much of these top (insert random number here) lists on the net, but hey, this one is actually useful and made me discover some pretty interesting sites.

Think of us as the friends who are always forwarding you links to cool sites you'd never find on your own. That's who we aim to be with this list of 99 Undiscovered Web Sites, and that's who you'll be after reading it.

Check it out!.