[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Life in the Universe episode #1: Just on Earth, or Everywhere? (Video)

Here's an interesting video followup to the Hubble deep field video we posted a few days ago.

This is the first episode of a series on life in the universe. Looking for life in the universe isn't like looking for your car keys. It's hard to know where to even start. The best place to start is probably by NOT trying to find alien civilizations, but rather ANY kind of life we can.

We will be posting the other episodes as soon as they become available, so please stay tuned!

The Scariest Games of the Decade

Over the last few years, horror PC and video games have been elevated to a formidable genre. In fact, horror games may have surpassed horror movies in the fear factor category. With Halloween just around the corner, the folks at TwitchGuru.com have posted an interesting selection of the scariest games of the decade.

It occurred to me recently that I've probably enjoyed horror games more than horror movies lately. That's partially attributable to the fact that most Hollywood horror movies these days are weak, but mostly attributable to the maturation of game design for the horror genre. I've dove into the horror survival genre head first, and here are the scariest games I've played over the last few years. Some of them are pure horror games, while others are FPS titles full of scary moments.

Check it out.

Couples, Computers and Gaming

via technologiesHere's something that will interest all of you boys and girls who are in a romantic relationship (yes, that even includes those of you who are married!) and who are both into gaming. Via Technologies will be hosting a Couple, Computers and Gaming conference in San Francisco on November 11th 2006. The conference is a "funny and serious look at the way the sexes play computer games" and promises to entertain its attendees with a bunch of cool activities and a few renowned keynote speakers.

Hear experts talk about the latest games and gamers Learn how to fit gaming into your relationship in a healthy way Find out about the exploding professional gaming industry Learn what games women really play and fascinating stories of life online.

For those of you who wish to attend, all necessary information concerning this event can be found on this page.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Next Gen Cell Phone Takes Security to New Heights

p903iIf you're a security freak and don't want to get a cell phone because you consider them to be unsecure, I think you'll want one of those right away. This mobile is a paranoid-dream come true. It comes equipped with facial recognition, GPS tracking and will even lock itself automatically if it gets too far away from you. No need to be afraid about unauthorized individuals using your phone now, this baby won't permit it. It's almost as faithful as a well-trained dog.

The P903i from NTT DoCoMo (nyse: DCM - news - people ), Japan's top mobile carrier, comes with a small black card about the size of a movie-ticket stub. The card works as a security key by connecting wirelessly with the cell phone.

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10 Interview Bloopers to Avoid

Quintcareers.com has a great piece today about 10 things you need to avoid when passing a job interview. A must read for those of you who are currently looking for a new job.

We've all heard stories of job candidates who looked great on paper but who were absolute disasters in person. With fewer and fewer interview opportunities available in this competitive market, it's essential to make the best possible first impression. You can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the top 10 worst interview blunders.

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Mainframes Making a Comeback

mainframeCheap little servers handle so much of the Internet's dirty work that giant computers known as mainframes, which debuted 50 years ago and often cost more than $1 million, are supposed to be things of the past. Yet mainframes are inspiring new and surprising ways of doing things.

When Hoplon Infotainment, a startup video game company in Brazil, let it be known that it uses a mainframe to operate its signature online game, "People would actually take a step back and say, 'What? Did I hear correctly?"' said Tarquinio Teles, Hoplon's CEO.

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Why Two Browsers are Better than One

The folks at Time.com pubbed an article last week encouraging people to install both Firefox 2 and IE 7 on their systems. This makes perfect sense for many reasons, which are almost all listed in the article, but here's another one they missed: Since IE is deeply rooted in the entrails of Windows, you'll definitely want to have the latest version installed on your box simply to cover flaws that may come up after the day IE6 stops being supported by Microsoft.

By now you may have heard that the makers of the two leading web browsers launched their latest totally free editions, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla's Firefox 2, within a week of each other. Feature-wise, most news reports have already declared a winner: the long-awaited IE7 may be a vast improvement over its predecessors, but the new Firefox leaves it in the dust. While that's mainly true, here's what you need to know about each one, and why you should have them both on your Windows PC. (Firefox 2 is available for Mac users, although Internet Explorer is not.)

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken (Video)

In 2003, the Hubble Space Telescope took the image of a millennium, an image that shows exactly how insignificantly small we are. Anyone who understands what this image represents is forever changed by it. If you are the kind of person who has an over-exaggerated sense of his own importance, just take a few minutes of your time and watch this video. I can guarantee that you will be humbled by what you see in it. Enjoy the show.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Important Note to All [GAS] Feed Subscribers

rssFor those of you who already subscribed to the [GAS] feed via feedburner (There are over 500 of you!), good job! For the rest who are reading us via the blogger atom feed, please take a few seconds to update your RSS readers to point to this address instead. Our blogger feed will only live as long as we stay on blogger, but the feedburner one will follow us wherever we may move in the future.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy 5th Birthday, Windows XP!

Windows XPHappy 5th birthday, Windows XP! It's hard to believe, but it was five years ago this week that Windows XP was officially launched. With Vista waiting in the wings, what will become of the venerable OS?

For a child, one's fifth birthday is an exciting time, full of precious moments and limitless promise. For an operating system, coming up to one's fifth birthday is a different matter entirely. By the time they reach this milestone, most operating systems have long since been retired or replaced by the Next Big Thing, often an updated version of themselves. For Windows XP, which is celebrating its fifth birthday this week, the big question is this: why has it taken so long for Microsoft to come up with a successor?

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Wi-Fi Exploits Coming to Metasploit Attack Tool

metasploit logoThe folks who develop Metasploit Framework, one of my favorite pen-test tools, have just announced that they will add 802.11 exploits to a new version of their controversial attack software. This move will simplify the way wireless drivers and devices are exploited, and will help security consultants, and hackers alike, find holes in your wireless environment.

"Right now, this only supports the Linux platform, but we are planning for Windows support very soon," Moore explained. Moore shrugged off criticisms that Metasploit gives black hat hackers all the tools needed to launch attacks, insisting that the target market can be broken into three categories. "[This is for] penetration testers and network administrators that want to demonstrate the impact of an unpatched wireless vulnerability," he said.

For those who want to download the application or read more about it, here's the link to the Metasploit homepage.

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Apologies to All

Just a quick post this morning to let you guys know that [GAS] was out for the better part of the evening yesterday due to some blogger.com problem. This morning, the blog is up, but the template still looks messed up. Everything should be fixed in a few hours. Thank you for your patience.


update: everything is now back to normal. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dell: The Journey (Video)

Prepare to be disturbed. Here's Dell's newest commercial, featuring a couple of renowned IT personalities such as Michael Dell, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Intel's Paul Otellini, among others. I'm not sure how I should react to this ad, should I be laughing or crying? Enjoy the show!

Clad in body armor and armed with his trusty sword, an animated Michael Dell leads down-trodden customers from Proprietaryville to the bliss of Global Standardopolis. Joining him on this musical journey are EMC's Joe Tucci, Oracle's Larry Ellison, AMD's Hector Ruiz and Intel's Paul Otellini. Can our band of heroes defeat the evil "Big Iron" dragon and lead their customers to the Global Standardopolis? This video opened Dell's keynote address at Oracle Open World.

Second Flaw Discovered in IE7

Yes folks, less then a week after its initial release, security researchers at Secunia have discovered a second security flaw in IE7. This new vulnerability could allow an attacker to spoof a URL inside a popup window, allowing him to trick a user into performing certain unintended actions.

Secunia has constructed a demonstration of the exploit, which is available
right here.

Firefox 2.0 Tweak Guide

Firefox LogoI usually install FasterFox (not yet available for Firefox 2.0) on my box so that my copy of Firefox runs smoothly, but I know that some of you prefer to tweak it manually. So for all of you control freaks out there, tweakguides.com has published a very complete guide to help you control every possible aspect of Mozilla's newest browser.

This guide refers to the latest official version of Mozilla Firefox Version 2.0. The guide is designed specifically for those running Firefox on Windows XP, however most of the tweaks in this guide apply to Firefox on other platforms.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Philips 3D TV Solutions - 3D WOWvx Display (Video)

Here's a video showing a cool new display technology from Phillips allowing people to view 3D content on a screen without even having to wear special viewing glasses. Enjoy the show.

Firefox-2 and Fedora-6

Firefox logoIf you hadn't already heard the oh-so-happy news, Firefox 2 has officially been released. Go now, and get the goodness for yourself. Seriously, stop what you're doing, and go download the awesomeness yourself. Right now.

Coming just days after the launch of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 2 offers a refreshed user interface, anti-phishing protection, improvements to the built-in search feature, tabbed browsing changes, the ability to restore an interrupted session, better support for Web feeds, inline spell-checking, support for microsummaries and a number of other enhancements.

Upgrading seems to be pretty painless, and I'm honestly surprised by how few extension incompatibilities I've run across. In my personal installation, SessionSaver (who's functionality is now integrated into Firefox by default) and Reveal were the only ones that were angry and annoyed. I've never had so few extensions stop working after an upgrade, especially so soon after a major release.

If you're still not sure, you can still take this puppy for a spin without having to install anything. As of this writing, v2.RC3 is the latest version of Firefox available at PortableApps.com, but the public release should be up there soon.

Fedora logoIn more obscure news, Fedora Core 6 (Zod), the latest version of the Community-driven and RedHat-sponsored Linux distribution has also just been released. According to a buddy of mine, who beta-tests and troubleshoots FC releases, remarked that FC6 is "very shiny." I'll probably be getting the install DVD from him in the next few days. Download information can be found at the Fedora Project website.

If the jump from FC4 to FC5 is at all telling, Fedora users should be in for a real treat this time around.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Security Heresy: Write Down Your Password

I keep telling to my users to choose strong, easy to remember passwords, and to never, ever write them down. Why am I saying this? Because today, while reading Watchguard Wire, I stumbled on an article pointing to a guy that has a different point of view on all that "keep your password secure business". And I hate to admit it, but he does score some points with his arguments. Only a few though.

You've got thousands of dollars worth of stuff in your pockets, or your purse. Seriously. You're carrying keys to your eight-year-old Honda, which is worth about $5,000. Your credit cards could bring in thousands of dollars for a crook.You're carrying the keys to the house where your family sleeps. It's hard to put a price on that.Do any of your passwords really need more security than your pocket provides? (Source: The Security Mentor)

The points that Frederick expresses in his post are mostly right. Writing a strong password on a piece of paper and sticking it in your wallet is a good way of keeping it secure, but I only see one problem with this: Human Nature. Some people will never forget to put their little piece of paper back in their wallet, but a good proportion of them will constantly leave it on their desk for a few days. For all to see. After a while, the 'reminder' will simply return to under-the-keyboard, where the user used to keep it before having the brilliant idea of putting it inside his wallet.

To my mind, there's really only one way to truly secure a system: implement a two-factor authentication scheme.

A "factor" of authentication is considered one of these three fundamental "things":

  • Something you have (e.g. a smart card, or a secure ID token)
  • Something you know (e.g., a user ID and a password)
  • Something you are (e.g., a fingerprint, or the tone of a voice)
So there you are. By combining 2 or more of these 'factors', you create an authentication scheme that negates most of the security risks associated with the use of simple, conventional passwords. So even if someone writes his password down on a piece of paper and this paper falls in the hands of a evil black-hat hacker, the password itself would be of little use to the attacker if he doesn't possess one or more of the other authentication factors.

So, what is YOUR position on this? To write down or not to write down your password, that is the question.

Related [GAS] technology articles:

Why you Should Protect your Wireless Network with WPA2

Here's an interesting video showing you exactly why you should enable WPA2 encryption on your wireless access point. The guys in the video say that people should use WPA, but it seems that they didn't know about this particular vulnerability, or they would have surely suggested using WPA2 instead.

Microsoft to Open Up its E-mail Technology to Fight Spammers

spamMicrosoft has announced that they will soon open their spam-fighting technology, SenderID, under the Open Specification Promise. So, will this mean that we'll get fewer Viagra / Human hardware enlargement messages in our Inbox?

Sender ID has had a long and relatively inglorious history. In 2004, Bill Gates famously predicted that, thanks to Sender ID, spam would be "wiped out" by 2006. Of course, this miracle failed to happen, not just because the technology wasn't perfect (it wasn't) but because the vast bulk of companies managing the Internet backbone refused to adopt the technology due to concerns over patent licensing. Without such support, Sender ID died on the vine, and wasn't heard from again until two years later. Microsoft claimed that the technology had proven itself in helping curb spam on their Hotmail service, and that adoption among Fortune 500 companies had tripled over the last year.

Since Microsoft has finally removed the limitations that prevented the technology from being widely adopted, I guess we'll soon be seeing products that use Sender ID to stop spam. That's certainly great news for those who dream of a spamless Internet.

Read more

Related [GAS] technology articles:

Internet Rumors Outlawed in China

Internet users living in southwest China will now have to watch their mouths, or their fingers in this case, when they're writing online. A new legislation was recently passed by the Chinese government outlawing rumor spreading using the Internet. Offenders could be fined between 1,000 and 5,000 Yuan ($630USD), and may also have to spend some time in detention to atone for their crime. Organizations picking up and publishing outlawed content will also have to pay fines of 3,000 to 15,000 Yuan.

The report comes after a Chinese court jailed dissident writer Guo Qizhen for four years on Tuesday for inciting subversion over anti-government essays he posted online.

China must not be a very nice country to live in for bloggers. Since blogging is all about freedom of speech, what could a blogger write about in such a country?

Read more

Monday, October 23, 2006

Realistically Augmented 2D? The Neurok Optics 3D LCD Monitor

3d lcdGamers have been subjected to mere two-dimensional treatments of their avatars/scenery tracing back to the earliest days of Pong. The Neurok Optics's iZ3D monitor looks to change this situation by having us look and interact with artificial environments in a new and completely different way.

Enter the wonders of the Neurok Optics's new iZ3D 17" LCD monitor. The manufacturer of this little gem hopes to stimulate greater interactivity/realism by extending visualization of video output along the viewer's Z-plane. Any of you who have had the pleasure of viewing 3D projections utilizing shutter-based, "nausea-inducing" glasses won't be disappointed to hear that the polarized frames used with the iZ3D are passive.

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Top 5 BitTorrent Clients According to Wired

bittorrent logoGot an itch to ride the file sharing wave? If you have, and are unsure about which client would be best suited for you, Wired.com has a nice roundup this morning of the five best bets for BitTorrent bliss.

Newcomers to the wondrous joys of the world's greatest peer-to-peer file sharing protocol are always asking one question: "Which BitTorrent client is best?" One thing is for certain: The client defines the BitTorrent experience for the user, so regardless of knowledge or skill level, each user must find a client that suits his or her needs best.

Check it out

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Note to all Bloggers: Performancing.com Launches the Performancing Partner Ad Network

performancingJust a quick post today to let you all know that my friends at Performancing.com have just launched their new ad Network. For those of you who do not know these guys, you ought to pay them a visit. Their site is an absolute treasure of information when it comes to blog promotion and article-writing. They have an *awesome* tracking engine (for me, it's even better then google analytics), and now, they've launched their ad network, which will be no doubt very successful considering the quality of the material they keep publishing on a daily basis.

If you want to have a look at what their ads will look like, just take a peek at one on the bottom of the [GAS] side bar. It looks very nice and professional.

You can read more about it on

Firefox 2 to be released on Oct. 24

firefox logoFor those of you who don't want to take the risk of installing IE7 of their machine, prefering instead to wait for the final release of Firefox 2 instead, well rejoice! PCWord has just announced that the new version of Mozilla's browser will be available for download on Oct. 24. Just 2 days left until we can finally get our hands on one of the most expected pieces of software of the year.

According to Mozilla Vice President of Products Christopher Beard, Firefox 2.0, which should be available on Tuesday if all goes according to schedule, includes key new usability features missing in the new IE 7.

Read more

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sony Bravia: An Explosion Of Colour

How does one follow on from Sony's visually stunning 2005 Bravia 'Balls' in San Francisco advert? Well, with multi-coloured paint it seems. And lots of it.

Sony's 2005 advert "Balls" was a major event in advertising. It was a major event in San Francisco too, since the company decided not to use computer generated graphics to create the effect of a quarter of a million balls bouncing through the city's steep hillside streets - it decided to use real balls and real streets.

In the end it was decided to keep the original theme, but to use neither balls nor San Francisco - hence 70,000 litres of paint, mortars, bottle bombs and 1,700 detonators redecorating Queen's Court in Glasgow's Toryglen estate.

Read more

And here's the finished advert. Enjoy!

SP3 Delayed

windows xpIs this an attempt from Microsoft to push people into buying Vista? Or merely a company with all of its resources bent on a single priority (get Vista and Longhorn out!)?

Microsoft announced last night that it is pushing back its release of Windows XP SP3 from late 2007 to early 2008. They cite that the release of Vista is their primary focus. This marks the second time that Microsoft pushes back SP3's release date. Some conspiracy theorist out there would suggest that they want to push users into a new Operating System (Vista) rather than keep them on an OS full of holes (XP).

I'm not sure, either way.

This article has created some discussion at Zdnet

XP SP3 is not the only projects that has been 'delayed'. Windows 2k3 SP's have been pushed back. The new version of Office was also pushed back, as reported in June, and how many times has Longhorn and Vista been delayed? Maybe Bill Gates is cashing his chips in at just the right time.

Welcome to Your Worst Malware Nightmare

Spyware and adware have recently emerged as the more pervasive and insidious threats than the worms or viruses, the previous sources of chaos and ruin on the Internet highways. Without some kind of software protection in place the days where you could browse the internet safely without too much risk have now long gone. Here's an article that will help non-IT people understand the concepts and procedures that need to be known in order to be able to effectively identify and remove malware.

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1972 Vauxhall Victor Does 0-60MPH in 1 Second

This 1972 Vauxhall Victor is probably the world's fastest street-legal car in existence today. Its 9.3L V8 engine produces an amazing 2200 HP and can go from 0 to 60 MPH in about 1 second. This monster can definitely beat Ron Patrick's jet-powered beetle that only produces a *ahem* ridiculous 1350 horsepower. Enjoy the show.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

First Security Flaw Signalled in IE7

Less than 24 hours after its release, security experts have already discovered the first vulnerability in IE7. Now why am I not surprised by this? Apparently this flaw could be exploited by attackers via a malicious website, allowing them to gain confidential information from visitors who uses the new version of IE.

A vulnerability has been discovered in Internet Explorer, which can be exploited by malicious people to disclose potentially sensitive information. Please use the test below, to see an example of how this vulnerability can be exploited, and also to determine whether or not your browser is vulnerable.

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Windows Live: OneCare Trial

Microsoft has released their OneCare solution and has made it available on a 90-Day Trial.

They've included AntiSpam and a Two-Way firewall into their OneCare solution.

Help get confidence and peace of mind. Windows Live OneCare is always on, working quietly in the background on your computer, helping protect your PC from viruses, spyware, hackers, and other unwanted intruders. It also goes beyond security, regularly backing up all your important files and automatically cleaning up and tuning up your PC to help keep it running at top speed.

A $49.95 purchase will allow you to install it on 3 machines.
I'm going to be brave and try it on my home PC tonight.

Read all about it!
Try it free here

Singing the Songbird 0.2

songbirdFirst of all, what is Songbird, and why should you care? The following quote by one Ross Karchner at Ross Notes should be a pretty good answer...

"It’s like taking iTunes, ripping out the music store, and replacing it with the rest of the internet."

And that's not much of an exaggeration. Even better, this "beat iTunes over the head with a hammer" app is completely free, and completely cross-platform (courtesy of being built on the Mozilla/XULRunner Platform). It will even theoretically be able to talk to your iPod (and other portable devices). More information regarding Version 0.2 can be found at the release notice page.

Here are a few important things to note, along with some initial impressions:

  • This is a development release. It is not a production release. Don't expect it to be a viable and worthy iTunes-crusher yet. It is buggy, prone to crashing, and has some quirks. Note the version number. It is still a long ways away from 1.0. Don't expect 1.0 performance from a 0.2 product. If you're a Mozilla Sunbird user, you're intimately familiar with this.
  • Songbird is currently a resource-gobbler. While building a music library, it consumed all available CPU resources. Initial memory usage was pretty chunky (~20 megs), continued to grow, and seemed to top out somewhere around 60ish megs. There are likely a few reasons for this...see both the above and below points.
  • The program runs on XULRunner. Yes, it is a platform that has evolved from Mozilla's Gecko rendering-engine thing. Yes, it has a solid history of webpage-rendering awesomeness (*points at Firefox*). No, XULRunner is not ready for prime-time. A good friend of mine is developing a small GTD app in XUL, and attests to this. The above notes on performance can probably be attributed as much to the current version of XULRunner as it can to Songbird's code. Firefox 3 will be running on XULRunner, so expect to see some major improvements here in the near future.
  • Considering what I've noted so far, Songbird is AMAZING. Yes, it barfs here and there, but the app is mature enough at this point to get a decent look at what these guys are going for. There's some good stuff happening here.
  • One word: "EXTENSIONS". This really could become the Firefox of music players. Need I say more?
There really is a LOT of potential in Songbird. It by no means replaces my Foobar/Amarok/Rythmbox and Democrazy Player yet, but it is definitely an worth keep a close eye on. If you're feeling adventurous, check it out. If not, you can still watch the screencast:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 is Out!

download IE7Just a quick post to let you guys know that IE7 was released just a few hours ago.

Upgrade with confidence. Get downloads for Internet Explorer 7, including recommended updates as they become available. To download Internet Explorer 7 in the language of your choice, please visit the Internet Explorer 7 worldwide page.

The setup is available from this location, but personally, I'll just wait a few days to get some feedback from the IT community before setting it up on my box. One can never be too careful with new products, especially anything related to Internet Explorer.

Study: America Full of Internet Junkies

According to a group of researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, you guys may potentially be a bunch of Internet junkies, who only use the web to cure yourselves of bad moods and life's frustrations.

Stanford researchers interviewed 2,513 adults in a nationwide household survey. Because Internet addiction has not been clinically defined as a medical condition, study questions were based on established addiction disorders.Research indicated that nearly 14 percent of the respondents found it difficult to stay away from the Internet for several days and that slightly more than 12 percent often remained online longer than expected. More than eight percent of the people surveyed said they hid "non-essential" Internet use from family, friends or employers and nearly the same number went online to flee from real-world problems.

So, does anyone here feel victimized by this article?

Read more

Infected Video iPods : Apple blames Windows

ipod virusApple has just announced on their site that a small number (less then 1%) of recently manufactured video iPods were shipped with a Windows-based virus called RavMonE.exe (W32/RJump.worm). The original source of infection was apparently traced to the plant where the iPods were made. The RavMonE virus isn't very dangerous by itself, but it can act as a trojan horse, exposing infected systems to more dangerous viruses that are rampaging over the Internet.

Here's a quote from their announcement:

As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.

I don't think blaming windows for this is the right thing to do, they should be taking measures against their manufacturing plant instead. After all, they are the ones responsible for not having up to date AV running on their systems.

Read more

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Introducing GoogleTube (Video)

So, what do you guys think will result from the Google acquisition of YouTube? Here's a video that shows one of the possibility.

Wireless USB Poised to Cut the Cable

After many years of discussion, fast wireless connections between PCs and peripherals will soon be a reality. We may even be able to experience the true "Cable-Free" PC experience as soon as January 2007.

UWB technology can deliver data rates at up to 480 megabits per second at around 3 meters, with speeds dropping off as the range grows to a limit of about 10 meters. Real-world speeds will probably be a little slower, but this is as fast as the wired version of USB 2.0 and much faster than current Wi-Fi networks are capable of transmitting data.

Read more

McDonald's Ships 10,000 Free McTrojan MP3 Players

Hello, I'll take 2 Big Macs, 4 McNuggets and a... McTrojan? Yes, you read that right. It seems that Japanese McDonald's restaurants, as part of a special promotion, were offering free MP3 players to their customers. The catch is that all these MP3 players (10000) came preloaded with a variant of the QQPass password stealing trojan, which apparently executed itself automatically when the poor soul who got it plugged it on his or her computer.

Here's the
official announcement from our friend Ronald. (Translated via Babelfish)

Oh yeah, I forgot, would you also like fries with that?

Microsoft Cripples Vista's Security to Please Rivals

vistaRemember how Symantec and McAfee kept saying that Vista's security features were going to hurt security vendors by locking them out of Vista's kernel? Well, it seems that their talk was successfull because Microsoft just announced that they would allow third-party software to access security-specific functions within Vista's kernel.

The agreement to allow other companies to use kernel security functions comes after some third parties have criticized Microsoft for its hard line on kernel patch protection, also known as Patchguard, which will ship with the Vista operating system. The software technology, which will only be included on systems with 64-bit processors, aims to prevent anyone--either malicious attackers or well-meaning security firms--from changing how the core of the Vista operating system processes data.

Sadly, as time passes, Microsoft continues to strip security features within their new OS. Vista was actually supposed to be extremely secure when it was first announced. Now, why do I have the feeling that it won't be better then XP?

Read more

Monday, October 16, 2006

First US PS 3 Commercial: The Wait (Video)

Here is the first official Playstation 3 commercial to go live in the states. Enjoy the show!

Mozilla Accepting Suggestions for Firefox 3

firefoxAre you a fan of The Fox and feel like getting involved in the development of Firefox 3? Well those good folks at Mozilla have launched a brainstorming wiki just so people can send them their ideas and wish lists for the next version of the #1 open source browser.

We are currently in the early development stage for Firefox 3, and would like to collect all the ideas for feature enhancements in a single place. Our goal is to create a single index that lists what sorts of things we're thinking of doing, with links to more detailed ideas about implementation specifics or concerns, and targets for inclusion in the project.

Check it out

Sunday, October 15, 2006

29 iPod Alternatives for Christmas

StormBlue A9+ BluetoothIf you're currently looking for a new digital media player to replace your very "unfashionable" iSheep or just want to be generous to a lucky one this next christmas, MP3NewsWire.net has a nice article listing 29 iPod alternatives. So, which one do you prefer?

We have run the iPod Killers for Christmas/Summer series since 2004. In that time we reported on 149 portable players and NOT one iPod killer from the bunch. That said, we may actually have a couple of genuine challengers to Apple.

Read more

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday Morning Fun: Hilarious Manipulation of a Telemarketer

phoneThe best way to get a telemarketer to stop calling that I have heard!

Check it out (Via Digg)

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Sneaky Change in Windows Licensing Terms

Microsoft Windows VistaMicrosoft just released the licensing agreements for Windows Vista, and I read them carefully. Buried in the fine print is a dramatic change in licensing terms from the Windows XP versions. Think you can transfer a retail Windows license to any machine you want? Think again.

That limitation on retail licenses is a remarkable change. Previously, a retail license could be removed from one computer and reinstalled on another with no limits. Now, you get to reinstall one time and one time only.

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The Future of CPU's: To Quad or Not to Quad.

Today, I'll be posting more of an observation based on a conversation that Kiltak and I had last night. I was bragging about my new toy:

Samsung SyncMaster 225BW 22" Wide-Screen
Res: 1680x1050
RT: 5ms
Contrast Ratio: 700:1

However, this is not what I wanted to touch on. What Kiltak and I were discussing was that his next big purchase (for the sake of being the total geek that he is) would be a Quad-Core machine. Now, when I saw that, I honestly thought to myself: Why? But why did I buy a 22'' widescreen monitor when I had a, still, very good working 20'' Mitsubishi CRT monitor? Well because!! Isn't that good enough?

What the question came down to was the fact that, sure, quad-core cpu's will be mass shipped soon, but will the applications out there support it? And I came across a great article which asked the very same questions that I was asking myself.

This is what I found out: Yes, there are many applications out there that support the kind of multithreading that the Quad-Cores are designed for. For example: Video Edition, DVD writing, Video Streaming, Background multitasking (specifically Vistas and OSx's Indexing services) .. All of these, just to name a few will multithread in Quad-Core machines.

But the apps aren't there yet, right? Quad-core could come late next year, you say. No, the apps are there. Ever encode video? All the video encoders are heavily multithreaded, and video encoding is extremely parallelizable: You get huge speedups. Oh, but the average user doesn't encode video…only they do. iDVD is an extremely popular Mac app (Intel fuels Apple's machines now, remember?) and next year, literally tens of millions of new Vista owners will have bundled DVD creation software, too. All that MPEG2 encoding can take a long time. Many portable devices require video to be in a particular format or resolution, so the re-encoding of all that stuff is another big time sink. When it comes to HD-DVD and Blu-ray, even the decoding can suck the life out of a high-end CPU. ~ Jason Cross: extremetech.com

Gaming would benefit alot already from a Quad-Core machine. And so, I learned a little something through my conversation with Kiltak. So my advice, to reiterate his desires is : GO GET ONE, DUDE!! Geek-Out on a Quad!

Read the full ExtremeTech article by Jason Cross.

This article touches alot on how important Quad-Core CPU's will be with OSx and the release of Vista. To summarize Mr. Cross's feelings on Quad-Core: The More; The Better!

$100 Laptop Project Update: How Do You Secure 100 Million Laptops?

The day the One Laptop Per Child project will come to fruition, it will create the largest computing monoculture in history. Now just try securing it.

Wary of the security risks associated with a computing monoculture—millions of machines with hardware and software of identical design—OLPC foundation officials are seeking help from the world's best hackers to review the full specifications of the $100 laptop's security model.

Read more

Problem with Blogger within IE (Fixed)

We're experiencing a small problem with blogger this morning. The blog does not display properly when viewed in IE, but is ok within Firefox. I tried republishing the template a couple of times, and strangely, each time I do it, the interface looks different. We're working on the problem right now.

Update: everything is back to normal now. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Security Expert: User Education is Pointless!

securityLet's face it, educating your users about computer security is pointless - mainly because they just don't care about all that "boneheaded computer crap". The only thing that matters to them is their job. Don't ask them to think about anything else, they won't listen to you. The only way to effectively secure your environment is to start treating users like children (subtly, without them realizing it), and implement a security solution that enforces restrictions, therefore immediately limiting the chances of any nasty security exposure.

Users are often called the weakest link in computer security. They can't select secure passwords, and they write down passwords and give them out to strangers in exchange for treats. They use old or outdated security software, can't spell the word "phishing," and click on all links that arrive in e-mail or instant messages, and all that appear on the Web.

I'd be curious to hear about the opinions of our esteemed readership on this. So, what are your thoughts?

Read more (source: news.com)

Related [GAS] technology articles:

Sunbird 0.3 Released

sunbirdThe full 0.3 version release of Mozilla's calendar application has just been released. The improvements are numerous, and it is very highly recommended that all Sunbird users upgrade. Same thing goes for users of Lightning as well.

For those of you who aren't familiar with these two particular Mozilla offerings, here's the skinny. The
Mozilla Calendar Project is developing two pieces of software side-by-side. Sunbird is a full-blown standalone calendaring application, while Lightning is an extension that brings calendaring functionality to Thunderbird and/or Firefox. Originally these two projects were completely separate and independent, but they have recently been brought closer together in an effort to merge them into a single coherent effort. As of this particular release, Sunbird and Lightning are now running off of the same backend code. This is a good thing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

IT Pro Tips and Tricks #1: Removing the Terminal Services Wallpaper on Windows 2003 Dell Servers

dellI'm going to do my best to do two things. First, be more active in this blog. And secondly, try to start a series of tips and tricks that help make all of our lives better. I bet there are a lot of other tips and tricks you guys can teach me to make my life better too. Let’s see how many of you out there are either supporting in-house servers, or are doing third party IT support for other clients.

One of the most annoying things I've ran into recently, is the slow scrolling action you see every time you terminal service into a new Dell SBS server that has their new background. It literally scrolls down very reminiscent of back in 1995 when you were trying to view great pictures of Cindy Crawford over your 28.8 modem connection to the internet. And the slower the connection, the more pain you have to experience waiting for it to finish.

Well, there is a very simple answer to alleviate your pain. Just follow these instructions, and enjoy.

(Insert annoying disclaimer telling you that anytime you edit the registry, you are taking your own life, and that of the server into risk. If you break it, ITS NOT MY FAULT!)

1. On the server, open the registry by going to start - run - regedit
2. Navigate to the following Key: HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop
3. Delete the WALLPAPER key entirely. Some people recommend clearing the contents out, or creating a new wallpaper named the same, but its much simpler to just delete it.
4. Close registry editor, and enjoy

Please feel free to put in your own tips and tricks in the comments section. We'll post the good ones.

Step Back In Time: Relive Your Vinyl Memories

ion usb turntableIf you are a child of the - well - any moment in time before CDs and digital downloading became de rigeur (yes, CDs too were cool once) you'll probably remember the good old days of vinyl records.

Remember? Those big old chunky bits of circular plastic, mostly found in a lovely shade of black (unless you snagged a limited edition, bizarrely shaped, picture record). Played on a turntable. And now largely belonging to the realm of the DJ.

Well if you do, and you are anything like me, then you no doubt have a collection of much adored, and lovingly collected vinyl records that hardly, if ever, get a turn on the decks. Because lets face it, the majority of us are all rushing headlong through the digital music age.

But what about all those not-yet-replaced-as-a-CD-[slash]-download and vinyl rarities that you may have stashed away? Haven't you always harbored a secret desire to convert them into a more user-friendly format? I know I have.

So, calling all vinyl toting music lovers out there: Actually launched late last year, but definitely worthy of further comment, is the... Ion USB Turntable. For all you music enthusiasts who want to experience a little nostalgia and relive some of those vinyl moments.

Recently commented in The Guardian Technology:

There are many ways to transfer audio from vinyl records to PCs, but for the most part they are complex and not very effective. The Ion USB turntable, priced at £120, raises the bar a little.

read more

And additionally reviewed earlier this year by the folks over at The Register, who proclaimed that:

It's a nicely-designed object, with DJ-compliant pitch slider, anti-skate mechanism for those older albums and, for reasons only Ion can tell you, two start buttons. It's rather lightweight, which is either a mercy if you're planning to move it from house to house scavenging old vinyl, or a disappointment if you're one of those audiophile types who like everything made out of depleted uranium for added stability. Certainly, the audio transferred sounded pretty good with no obvious rumble or other environmental artefacts.

There's also a very handy, if somewhat strangely-sited, minijack input just next to the turntable if you want to use the turntable as an analogue-to-digital converter for other line sources, like a cassette or minidisk.

Further concluding that:

Certainly compared with other systems I've tried this is the simplest and most senior-friendly method of capturing old records to hard disk yet seen. It works as a regular hifi turntable as well, making the price (they're £120 from Firebox) even more reasonable - and even though I've already transferred that last old Grandmaster Flash 12 inch I'd been hanging onto, I think I want one.

Read full article

Well, yes, I think I want one too!

If you want one, and after all Christmas is just around the corner, it's available from:

Amazon.com US - $129.99

X-tremegeek.com - $139

iwantoneofthose.com - £119

getinthemix.co.uk - £119

Firebox.com - £119.95

(A full feature list available at iwantoneofthose.com)

U.S. Court Order Could Boost Spam By 50 Billion Daily

spamWay to go U.S. District Court. That's just what we need, more spam. Here's how a September decision by a federal court may give the green light to more junk mail.

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled in favor of e-mail marketing company e360insight, and ordered U.K.-based Spamhaus, a non-profit anti-spam organization, to pay $11.7 million in damages. e360insight had argued that the Spamhaus blacklist -- a database of spammers and suspected spammers that is widely used by spam filtering services and software -- erroneously included its domain. Spamhaus did not contest the case, but has refused to pay the fine, issue an apology, or remove e360insight from the blacklist.

Read more

Jet Powered VW Beetle Update (Video)

For those of you who have been with us for a while, you may remember a post we did in August about a guy who installed a jet engine inside his VW beetle. Some of you said in the comments back then that this project was probably a hoax, but according to this video, it's most definitely not. Enjoy the show!

Want a PS3? That'll Be $2500 Thank You

PS3Just one word: ouch!

If you have missed today's pre-order frenzy of Sony's Playstation 3, but want the console in front of your TV before Christmas, you will be looking at a hefty premium over the already not so cheap price. The launch allocation is pretty much gone, but Ebay sellers are already putting their pre-order guarantees up for auction.

The sad thing about this is that I'm sure that the people who are willing to put their pre-ordered PS3 for auction on Ebay will probably get the price they're asking for, even if it's as high as $2500USD.

Read more

Today is Microsoft Patch Day

patch tuesdayYep, it's that time of the month again. Microsoft has just released ten new security bulletins yesterday fixing a total of 26 security holes. They have also updated their Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Here are the details :

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-056: Vulnerability in ASP.NET 2.0 Could Allow Information Disclosure (922770) Severity: Moderate

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-057: Vulnerability in Windows Explorer Could Allow Remote Execution (923191) Severity: Critical

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-058: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft PowerPoint Could Allow Remote Code Execution (924163) Severity: Critical

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-059: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (924164) Severity: Critical

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-060: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (924554) Severity: Critical

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-061: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution (924191) Severity: Critical

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-062: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Could Allow Remote Code Execution (922581) Severity: Critical

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-063: Vulnerability in Server Service Could Allow Denial of Service (923414) Severity: Important

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-064: Vulnerabilities in TCP/IP IPv6 Could Allow Denial of Service (922819) Severity: Low

-Microsoft Security Bulletin
MS06-065: Vulnerability in Windows Object Packager Could Allow Remote Execution (924496) Severity: Moderate

Happy patching everyone!

Related [GAS] technology articles:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ars Reviews Firefox 2.0 RC2

firefox logoThe good folks at ArsTechnica have just pubbed a great review of Firefox 2.0 RC2 on their site. The article includes a few screenshot comparisons illustrating the interface changes between the old beta and the new release. They also examine the similarities between the browser tab implementation from Internet Explorer 7 and the new tab management features in RC2.

If RC2 is any indication, Firefox 2.0 is an incremental improvement of the 1.5.x series with performance improvements and a handful of relatively useful features. Based on my own experience, I consider it stable enough for regular use, but I endorse caution for users that rely on a lot of extensions, as most extensions aren't yet compatible with Firefox 2.0.

The final release of Firefox 2.0 is expected by the end of October.

Read more (via Slashdot)

New 'Get a Mac' Commercial: Better Results

Apple has just released a brand new PC bashing 'Get a Mac' commercial. This one is pretty hilarious, but like always, the point they're trying to pass along with it is mostly untrue. Enjoy the show!

Guild Wars: Nightfall Due to Ship Oct. 26th.

By: The Other Sysadmin
[Geeks Are Sexy] Tech. News

This fall will be a good one for me. Being a Gaming-Geek, I can't wait for Neverwinter Nights to come out at the end of the month, and along with it GUILD WARS is releasing the next chapter in their MMORPG game, titled: NIGHTFALL.

First I'll give you some background, for those who have not tried Guild Wars yet. First and foremost, it's free to play online. Unlike many MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) who charge a monthly fee for your account on their servers, Guild Wars differs. When you buy the game, you buy your ticket onto the Guild Wars world; that's it! Managing your account is super-easy.

Secondly, the game is graphically rich, but you do not have to be rich to buy the latest and greatest video cards to pump out gorgeous scenery within the game (Even though, it helps to have a great video card).

Thirdly, they've catered to both the PvP enthusiasts, as well as the guys and gals who love to just single-player their way through the StoryLine (which, by the way is remarkably well written, with characters that are likeable, and villains that you love to hate).

I loved the first chapter of Guild Wars (Titled: Prophecy). It made the user work a lot to get a little, but provided great progression through the missions that were straightforward to complete, but not always easy. Some missions I died about 10 times before finally figuring out how to solve it. Standard classes were: Warrior, Monk, Necromancer, Ranger, Elementalist and Mesmer . I was quickly obsessed with the first game. I would play it for hours on end and couldn't get enough.

The Ritualist and Assassin came in Chapter 2 of the Guild Wars world: Factions. I had waited a long time to use an assassin within the game. But I found that Factions added an element to the game that I CAN'T STAND in any game. Guild Wars:Factions takes place in the "Orient" of the Guild Wars world, and with it, its fantastic cities that are rows and rows upon rows of streets, some 3 levels high. Navigating through these cities is frustrating at best. After playing Factions for about 2 months, I found myself reverting back to my older character in the Prophecies part of the world, where the challenges are in the battles not in navigation. There's nothing I hate more while playing a game than walking around for an hour, only to find you've gone the wrong way, and that your goal is 3 levels above you and that you, now, have to retrace your steps and find an opening to the rooftops (GAH!!!).
Now, Nighfall looks promising. They have added a lot to the new chapter that will make the Single-Player mode a little more fun, for those of us who like to play the story-line rather than battle other guilds in Competitive Play.

One of the great strengths of Guild Wars is that if you just want to jump into the game, and pop off a few mission on your own, they provide you with Henchmen to tag along with you; all of them with different classes so that you can balance your party. The farther you get in the game, the harder the mission, and so, the stronger your henchies are. But typically, the henchmen are relatively dumb. They have a degree of AI built in, but some just rush into battle where stealth is desired, and so you kind of had to get to know the 'personalities' of the henchies and choose them wisely before the start of each missions. Also, their levels are static depending on where you picked them up in the game. At the beginning your henchies will be 3rd level characters, and as you get farther and farther into the game, their levels increase depending on which city you hire them in. But they remain static.

In Guild Wars:
Nighfall, ArenaNet reports that henchmen will be far more intelligent, and will respond to commands issued by you. Another good thing about them is that their levels will increase during game play, so that as you play along, they may grow strongers throughout the game with you. They also allow you to build customized groups of Heroes for PvP play - pitting your party versus another. You can even equip them with weapons, armor and special items, and control what skills they have on any given mission. They've added 20 new missions, and 100's of quests.

On top of all of that, they are adding two new classes (professions): Dervish and the Paragon. The Deverish seem to be the D&D equivalent of a Paladin. The Paragon looks like a Roman Champion, fighting with spears and has skills to rally troops into battle.

In Nightfall, you'll explore opulent cities, brave savage coasts, delve deep into ancient monuments, and find your way across poisonous deserts as you determine the fate of the new Realm of Elona in twenty original story missions.

I can't wait for this new addition to the Guild Wars world. I've actually tried out the two new 'professions' in a Beta event, and they looked cool. I'm anxious to see the 'new part' of the world. I haven't had the opportunity to play in any other beta events that may have highlighted some new parts of the continent, but the experience should be interesting.

If you like a good RPG, have a good high-speed connection and want something different, Guild Wars is worth a look. With Neverwinter Nights also coming out with its new version at the end of the month, I am going to be in Gaming Heaven.

Read The Full Article on Guild Wars: Nightfall