[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blake Ross to Google: Trust is Hard to Gain, Easy to Lose

Blake Ross, one of the main guys behind the Firefox project, says he no longer trusts Google because the company recently announced that it will promote its own products over those of the competition.

Google is now displaying "tips" that point searchers to Google Calendar, Blogger and Picasa for any search phrase that includes "calendar" (e.g. Yahoo calendar), "blog" and "photo sharing," respectively. This is clearly bad for competitors, and it's also a bad sign for Google.

In a sense, Blake is right to be outraged considering the "do no evil" reputation of Mountain View's giant. Almost everybody that uses Google Search expect it to return unbiased search results. By displaying "tips" on top of search pages, Google is inciting users into using their products, which in a lot of people's mind, is just plain wrong. In another sense, I think that any company that has such a huge user base would be crazy not to do something like this. If Google stands to profit by displaying tips that point people to their products, which are both free and excellent, I say fine! Yahoo and Ask are already doing it, why would it be wrong for Google to do so? Remember folks, the main goal of a company is to make profit and attain market dominance in their field of operation. So here are 2 questions for you to wrap up this post:

  • Is it morally wrong from Google to do this?
  • Is it financially wrong from them to do it?
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Friday, December 29, 2006

Exchange 2007 Drops Outlook Rights

Microsoft LogoYes folks, the people at Microsoft just came up with yet another way to rip you off out of your money, and this time, they're doing it by stripping Exchange 2007 from its Outlook CALs.

Exchange 2007, which was released to manufacturing earlier this month, strips Outlook 2007 from its CAL (Client-Access License). In previous versions of Exchange, customers received a copy of Outlook along with each Exchange CAL. Enterprises that purchased Exchange 2003 and 100 Exchange CALs, for instance, also received 100 copies of Outlook 2003.

The new mail server, however, restricts the free Outlook 2007 client software to companies that had a Software Assurance plan in place as of Nov. 30. Software Assurance is a Microsoft program that gives enterprises software upgrade rights during a multiyear contract in exchange for a flat annual fee.

Outrageous isn't it?

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

nVidia 'Priceless' Commercial (Video)

This short NVIDIA commercial shows you how to overclock your home PC the "cool" way, featuring the new nForce 600 series MCPs and GeForce 8800 series GPUs. This is one of the best ad I've seen in a long, long time. Enjoy the show!

New Microsoft IE7 Commercial: Simplified (Video)

IE7 LogoMicrosoft has recently released a brand new IE7 commercial titled "Simplified". Strangely, I kind of like the concept behind the ad. Yes, I know, there's definitely something wrong with my brain tonight. I'll watch it again tomorrow morning, and if I still like it, I think I'll go consult a psychologist right away.

Who's the Sexiest Geek of 2006 - Let the Voting Begin!

After much deliberation, the [GAS] crew has picked who they consider to be the 5 most worthy nominees out of your suggestions to participate in our "Who's the Sexiest Geek of 2006" contest.

Here are the 5 nominees, in no particular order.

#1: Xeni Jardin

Xeni JardinXeni is an incredibly intelligent women who has been heavily involved with all things web for quite some time. She works as a Tech Culture journalist in addition to being the co-editor of BoingBoing, one of the most interesting collaborative weblogs out there.

Xeni Jardin is a tech culture journalist and co-editor of the award -winning weblog Boing Boing. She is a contributor to television, radio, and print venues including Wired Magazine and National Public Radio, and likes to float in spaceships.

#2: Leah Culver

Leah CulverLeah is a clever young programmer who had the fantastic idea of selling ad space on the back of her 15" MacBook Pro to help pay for it. Being like most young people, i.e. cash strapped, she had to come up with a way to replace her old G3 iMac with something that would allow her to keep up with the programming world. Leah currently works as a programmer for instructables.com.
#3: Teresa Noreen
Teresa Noreen
Apart from being a pretty face, Teresa Noreen is an extremely intelligent women and has been involved in the World Wide Web for a couple of years. Believe it or not, Teresa is a hardcore gamer, a case modder and even a car computer builder. And, if that is not enough, a couple of years ago she took 2nd place in Sony's contest to find a spokesmodel for their EverQuest role-playing game "Quest for Antonia". Teresa currently works as a professional model and is also co-hosting a show on StoneCold TV.

#4 Chris Pirillo

Chris PirilloChris Pirillo is an Internet dinosaur. He has been around forever and for a lot of us represents geekness incarnate. He is the mind behind the lockergnome phenomenon that took the Internet by storm in 1996. Here is an excerpt from his site that describes Chris quite well:
Chris is "a Geek, Internet Entrepreneur, Hardware Addict, Software Junkie, Book Author, Once TV Show Host, Technology Enthusiast, Shameless Self-Promoter, Tech Conference Coordinator, Early Adopter, Idea Evangelist, Tech Support Blogger, Bootstrapper, Media Personality, Technology Consultant, Thicker Quicker Picker Upper."

#5 Maddox
Maddox... is one of the most amazing and enigmatic Internet personalities I've ever had the good fortune of stumbling upon. His site, dubbed "The Best Page in the Universe", is one of the most visited page on the web, and what is most amazing about it is no money was invested in its promotion to make it that way. If you are wondering why his site is so popular, just head over there and take an hour to read what this guy has to say. You'll be a better person out of the experience I can guarantee you.


Please note that this isn't a contest of beauty. Being a sexy geek has very little to do about how people look. I know that most of the people that will be voting will be of the masculine gender and that there are nice looking women among the nominees, but please guys, try to make your choice without considering the gender or appearance of each nominee. Instead, just vote in accordance to what each person has accomplished in the past year.

As previously stated, the winner will get a $100 prize deposited in their paypal account. If the eventual winner doesn't want the money, he/she can choose to donate it to a charity of their choice.

Create polls and vote for free. dPolls.com

Please note that you can scroll down to vote for the last contestant via the small blue arrow on the poll interface. Each visitor can vote once a day. The poll will last for a total of 7 days. Good luck to our 5 finalists!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sell your Soul to Microsoft, Get a Free Laptop

According to several sources, it seems that Microsoft has given a bunch of Ferrari laptops to select bloggers who promoted them through the year. And we're not only talking about A-list bloggers here, they also handed a few to operators of low-traffic blogs. I'm sure you can imagine that this has caused quite a firestorm of controversy through the blogosphere.

Assuming it doesn’t use Sony batteries, this laptop blows everything out of the water. It retails for a hot $2,299. But if you write about Microsoft, they might even give you one for free. Is it ethical? Probably not. Is it worth something to hard-working sweat and tears bloggers? Hell yeah.

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Vista's Content Protection Badness

As most of you probably know by now, Windows Vista is proving to be a mixed bag of happy improvements and irkful headaches. Yes, there's the shiny new Aero Glass UI, which really does look nicer than Windows XP's offerings (though it comes with its own set of headaches). On the other hand, there are numerous instances of rather uncool things being done in the background, such as Vista's new (and decidedly unshiny) Virgin Stack. The argument over whether or not users should upgrade to Microsoft's latest offering abound, and are beyond the scope of this particular post. But from what I've seen, read, and heard, not enough people outside the more geekish circles are really seeing the important pros and cons of the new OS beyond the purely cosmetic changes. This is probably one of the reasons behind the recent founding of sites like BadVista and the noise they are trying to stir up.

I've heard all manner of rumors and rumbles concerning the copy-protection technologies that are supposedly built into Vista. The credible ones make me sad, and a little nervous about the future, but at the end of the day they didn't have much impact beyond "Well, there's yet another reason to get a Mac or switch to Linux." Reading a recent paper by one Peter Gutmann changed that.

The basic story here is that Microsoft is introducing a large suite of features and technology that enable Vista to control and enforce the use of so-called "premium content"...which amounts to copy-protected media such as HD-DVD and Blu-ray disks. This not only takes a lot of software technology to accomplish, but also requires a large amount of new hardware, as well as new driver technology to support it. The end result is that successful playback of this "premium content" demands that a secure connection is made between the media's reader device and the display it is projected onto. If this secure connection cannot be established (whether it be because you are using unsupported hardware connections, unsupported drivers or chipsets, or whatever) or if that connection is even interrupted, playback will silently fail. The results of this can be anything from severely degraded playback results, to a completely black display. Details of how and why this will happen, as well as the ramifications of Microsoft essentially forcing this technology on hardware manufacturers can be found in the paper.

If you think that degraded output really isn't more than an annoyance, you may be surprised to learn differently.

Beyond the obvious playback-quality implications of deliberately degraded output, this measure can have serious repercussions in applications where high-quality reproduction of content is vital. For example the field of medical imaging either bans outright or strongly frowns on any form of lossy compression because artifacts introduced by the compression process can cause mis-diagnoses and in extreme cases even become life-threatening. Consider a medical IT worker who's using a medical imaging PC while listening to audio/video played back by the computer (the CDROM drives installed in workplace PCs inevitably spend most of their working lives playing music or MP3 CDs to drown out workplace noise). If there's any premium content present in there, the image will be subtly altered by Vista's content protection, potentially creating exactly the life-threatening situation that the medical industry has worked so hard to avoid. The scary thing is that there's no easy way around this - Vista will silently modify displayed content under certain (almost impossible-to-predict in advance) situations discernable only to Vista's built-in content-protection subsystem.

Some other choice tidbits include how Vista's copy-protection technology will foster the "elimination of open-source hardware support" and "elimination of unified drivers," enable "denial-of-service via driver revocation," cause serious system instability, and noticeably increase hardware and software development costs across the board.

It may seem like an article like this would be nothing more than crazed Vista-bashing, but it is not. The horrible fallout for implementing the copy-protection mechanisms described in the paper is completely logical, and Microsoft's reasons for going forward with it anyway are equally so. In short, it stands to put them in a very strong position to completely dominate not only software and hardware markets, but content distribution as well. Seriously, what self-respecting (and continually employed) CEO doesn't want to conquer their respective planet and gain control of their market?

In the same way that Apple has managed to acquire a monopolistic lock-in on their music distribution channel (an example being the Motorola ROKR fiasco, which was so crippled by Apple-imposed restrictions that it was dead the moment it appeared), so Microsoft will totally control the premium-content distribution channel. Not only will they be able to lock out any competitors, but because they will then represent the only available distribution channel they'll be able to dictate terms back to the content providers whose needs they are nominally serving in the same way that Apple has already dictated terms back to the music industry: Play by Apple's rules, or we won't carry your content. The result will be a technologically enforced monopoly that makes their current de-facto Windows monopoly seem like a velvet glove in comparison.

Check out "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" by Peter Gutmann.

If you have a few minutes to spare, please read the whole thing. It's simply fascinating, and is something that EVERY responsible computer user will need to start thinking about as this kind of technology continues to develop and evolve. There is also some additional commentary that is also worth checking out. Via Schneier.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Are you a Geek, a Nerd, or a Dork?

Just a quick post to keep you guys entertained while resting between 2 drinking holiday season parties. The guys at Militant Geek HQ have posted a funny chart to help you discover the type of "geek" you are. A worthy read if you are currently procrastinating about your own existence.

An alarming trend that we’ve noticed at the Militant Geek HQ is the sloppy usage of the terms ‘geek’, ‘nerd’, and ‘dork’. It was almost as if certain individuals assumed that they meant the same thing! For the record Geeks are those that have technical aptitude, nerds are bright but socially awkward, and dorks are just inept excuses for protoplasm. To prevent such future travesties of verboten wonders the retired circus-monkey crew at Militant Geek has prepared this handy comparison chart:

Read more


Monday, December 25, 2006

Space Elevator Explained (Video)

Space ElevatorHere is an interesting clip explaining how one of the many possible space elevator technologies, the space tether, would work. Please note that this space elevator design is currently the only one that is the subject of active research and commercial interest in space.

The tether space elevator consists of a cable anchored to the Earth's surface, reaching into space. By attaching a counterweight at the end (or by further extending the cable for the same purpose), centrifugal force ensures that the cable remains stretched taut, countering the gravitational pull on the lower sections, thus allowing the elevator to remain in geostationary orbit. Once beyond the gravitational midpoint, carriage would be accelerated further by the planet's rotation.

The most common proposal is a tether, usually in the form of a cable or ribbon, spanning from the surface to a point beyond geosynchronous orbit. As the planet rotates, the inertia at the end of the tether counteracts the centripetal force of gravity and keeps the cable taut. Vehicles can then climb the tether and escape the planet's gravity without the use of rocket propulsion. Such a structure could theoretically permit delivery of cargo and people to orbit with transportation costs a fraction of those of more traditional methods of launching a payload into orbit. (Source: Wikipedia)

Happy Holidays to All our Readers!

We'd just like to take a few minutes here on this 25th of December to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2007.

Oh, and one last thing, don't forget that if you drink, don't drive! We wouldn't want any of you to be hospitalized or in prison when 2007 arrives.

Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Vista and Office 2007 in ActionPack

For those of you that take advantage of the Microsoft Action Pack subscription, you will be pleased to know that Microsoft is including both Vista Business and Office 2007 in the update that will take place the second week in January. Its not quite a Christmas present, but it'll do. Many had wondered if Microsoft would actually include Vista before its General Release.

On the downside, it would appear that they are not ready to send out Exchange 2007 yet. They also are not sending out Vista Ultimate in the Action Pack, although they have said they would make that upgrade available to Action Pack users at a reduced price.

If you have a small business, Microsoft's Action Pack is a great way to leverage becoming a Microsoft Partner into ALOT of free software to use internally at your business, as well as increase your familiarity with products. If you are not familiar with it, you should read more about becoming a subscriber to the Microsoft Action Pack.

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Official Transformers Movie Trailer Released

The official trailer for the upcoming Transformers movie has just been released a few days ago. Need I say more? Enjoy the show!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Look Back on the C-64 (Video)

When I think about my old Commodore 64, all kinds of good memories suddenly pop in my mind. Released in 1982, the C64 was a beast. It featured a 1.02MHz processor, 64Ks of memory and 20Ks of ROM, all of this for around $600. This may probably seem very expensive to some of you guys right now, but back then, the C64 was considered as insanely cheap. When I think that companies such as Dell are currently offering full systems for under $400 and that $100 $150 laptops are soon going to appear on the market, it just makes me want to cry! Here's a short video presenting my old childhood friend.

Vista Exploit Surfaces on Russian Hacker Site

Windows LogoAccording to eWeek, Proof-of-concept exploit code for a security flaw affecting all versions of Windows (including Vista) has been released on a Russian hacker site, forcing Microsoft to activate its emergency response process.

The PoC reportedly allows for local elevation of privilege on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows XP SP1, Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista operating systems," Reavey said in an entry posted late Dec. 21 on the MSRC blog.

Read more

Thursday, December 21, 2006

PS3 Draws Controversy!

I remember having a conversation with a colleague who asked me what I thought of the new "Console Technologies" coming out; specifically the Wii and the PS3's.

Personally, I'm not big on console gaming. I'm a gamer, but largely, a PC gamer. I'm willing to spend $2k on a PC, but not so much willing to spend $500 to $1000 on a console gaming system.

My colleague asked me, what is it about the PS3 that is so great? What makes it better than the Xbox 360? Or for that matter, the Wii? I told him frankly: "I don't care."

I'm willing to spend a whack on a PC. Why? Because my PC does more for me than just play games. Sure, I buy the high-end hardware so that I can play the games I want (Oblivion, Guild Wars, Neverwinter Nights 2, Dreamfall, Sims 2), but I use it for work as well, and I need a machine that can give me the horsepower that I want for the money I'm spending.

Now, am I willing to spend a grand on a gaming console? No way! But that's my opinion; my preference. I'd rather spend the cash on hardware that can support the games I want while providing me with the tools I need to do my job.

My argument was simply this: Is Blu-Ray worth the extra $500 that Sony is charging for the PS3? In my opinion, that's a big "Hell no!" Tell me, what'S the main reason people buy those console gaming system?

Everyone together:

"To play games!"

Not to watch Blu-Ray movies!

Does the PS3 kick butt by offering the most technologically advanced video technology??? Suuuuuuure, but who cares!???

When buying a gaming console, I don't care that it offers COMPLETELY realistically generated graphics, so much, as it offers a game that is entertaining and worth the money I'm paying.

So, this begs the question: "How can it compete with the x360?"

Well, for me? If I were to choose? I'd pick an XBox 360 or a PC. The formula is simple. The360 offers great graphic technology, with game titles that buyers are willing to spend money for. Does it matter that the PS3 offers better technology PLUS Blu-Ray capabilities? No, it doesn't. In the end, the buyer simply wants to be entertained with the best games out there (which the 360 provides) and no one really cares about Blu-Ray. No one is buying the PS3 for Blue-Ray, and if they are, they're nuts! (again, my opinion) In any case, the Blu-ray fromat will either fade out, like Sony's Beta technology, or it will be offered dirt-cheap as a PC add on -- further adding credence that one should spend money on their PC first!

Furthermore, people's arguments tend to be: "Well, you PC gamers are willing to spend $700 on a video card, how is it so crazy that someone is willing to dump $800 to $1000 on a PS3?"

The answer to that question is simple: If an avid PC gamer is willing to drop $700 on a Video Card, he is specifically purchasing the power to better graphics on his PC to support the type of gaming he wants. But to spend $800 + on gaming system that offers bells and whistles that he doesn't really need?? That's just plain crazy. I get as much enjoyment out of my gamecube, which I bought for $200, because the games I purchased with it were decent and well done. I don't care about Blu-Ray, I don't care that the console gives me cutting edge video over its competition, I just care that the games I buy for it are great, for a price that's reasonable. And i'm sorry, $800 isn't reasonable for the mediocre games offered on the PS3.

Again, this is my humble opinion, which seems to be shared by an editorial writer at Extreme Tech.

Read the article here.

And please, whether you agree with me or not, weigh in here! Your opinion counts, and I will not slam you if you disagree with me. I invite the debate!


Cola Drinkers, Beware: The Effect of Cola Drinks on your Body

Drinking cola may have the effect of a wake up pill on your mind and satisfy your immediate need for caffeine, but do you truly know the effect that this magical potion has on your system? Before reading what follows, please put down your can of your favorite black stuff and prepare to be shocked.

  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.

  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)

  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dialate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.

  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.

  • > 60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.

  • > 60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.

  • > 60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Cola. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.
Therefore, to resume what was just written, drinking cola is just like filling up your car's gas tank with dangerous super-fuel. It will give you a little boost of energy for a short while, but in the long term, your engine will suffer from it. Personally, I don't really need to be concerned about this because I usually fill up my personal gas tank with a way more nourishing fuel: Beer!

(via Orangish)

Microsoft Hands Out 16,000 SUSE Linux Enterprise Subscriptions

Suse LinuxDeutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and AIG Technologies have already signed up for the SUSE Linux enterprise subscription certificates Microsoft is offering under its recent, controversial deal with Novell.

As part of that deal, Microsoft also said it will distribute 70,000 coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support, so that customers can benefit from the use of an interoperable version of Linux with patent coverage as well as the collaborative work between the two companies.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Free Copies of 'An Inconvenient Truth' for US Teachers

An Inconvenient TruthI know that there are some people among you who work in schools as educators, so here's something that should be of interest to you guys. Participate.net offers 50,000 copies of the controversial climate change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" for free to the first 50k U.S. teachers who ask for one. Just head over to this address, fill out the form and patiently wait until your copy arrives in your mailbox... if it ever does!

We have 50,000 copies of An Inconvenient Truth to give away to teachers in the United States. The first 50,000 teachers who apply are eligible to win. There is a limit of one DVD per teacher. All entries must be received by January 18, 2007.

(Via BoingBoing)

Month of bugs to bite Apple

Yes folks, as we said yesterday, Mac computers are not as secure as they used to be, and to prove this, two hackers plan to release a multitude of security bugs afflicting Apple's products during the entire month of January.

On Jan. 1, two security researchers will begin publishing details of a flood of security vulnerabilities in Apple's products. Their plan is to disclose one bug per day for the entire month, they said Tuesday.

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Apple Releases New Holiday 'Get a Mac' Ad : Goodwill (Video)

The folks at Apple have just released a new “Get a Mac” commercial specially produced for the holiday season. At long last, the PC and Mac have decided to put their differences aside and fraternize. Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mac Users Finally Waking Up to Security

After being the target of numerous attacks in 2006, it seems that Mac users are finally starting to get the message that they are not immune against villains and their evil plans. As the popularity of Mac desktops and laptops increases every day, the "security through minority" concept that used to protect Apple users so well is rapidly disappearing into oblivion.

Just over a year ago, Mark Borrie from the University of Otago in New Zealand, said that Apple users were their own worst enemy when it came to security, because they considered themselves immune from attack.

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Sony Releases New PS3 Commercial: Multi-Dimensional (Video)

After having released a bunch of horrible PS3 commercials, Sony has finally produced an ad that makes their console stand out of the competition. Enjoy the show!

Pluggd: A Google for Podcasts

Podcast logoUsing speech-to-text software and studying the contextual relationships between words, a new startup makes audio files as searchable as text on the web.

Pluggd has found a way to index podcasts, talk shows and other spoken-word content. The company's service then allows users to search the audio files for specific words.

You can try Pluggd's word-searching demo yourself right now. Enter your search term and you'll see mentions of your word highlighted in various colors -- heatmap-style -- on a timeline of the show. The redder "hot spot" areas represent denser clusters of your search term, and clicking on one will cause the player to jump straight to the discussion about your desired topic.

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Panasonic Develops Battery That Won't Overheat

After the world was hit by the exploding laptop battery fiasco earlier this year, engineer at Panasonic have started to develop some new models of lithium-ion batteries that are not supposed to overheat, even in the case where a short circuit occurs.

The new battery includes a heat-resistive insulator inside the battery cell, next to an existing separator that insulates the anode and cathode. If that separator is punctured a short circuit occurs that typically causes the battery to overheat and in some circumstances catch fire. Panasonic said its insulation layer ensures that the battery won't overheat even in the event of a short circuit.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

New Honda ASIMO TV Commercial

The folks at Honda UK have recently produced a new ad showcasing Honda's legendary robot: ASIMO. Enjoy the show!

ASIMO is a humanoid robot created by Honda Motor Company. Standing at 4 feet 3 inches and weighing 119 lbs, the robot resembles a small astronaut wearing a backpack and can walk on two feet in a manner resembling human locomotion at up to 3.7 mph. ASIMO was created at Honda's Research & Development Wako Fundamental Technical Research Center in Japan. (Source: Wikipedia)

Prices on LCD TVs to Plunge by the End of 2007

For those of you who are planning to buy a new LCD TV soon, waiting a few months might be a great idea if you are a bit short on money right now. According to Digitimes.com, prices on LCD displays are expected to plunge by the end of 2007, going down as low as US$799 for a 37" and US$399 for a 32" screen.

IE7 Optimized for Google

Google inc. has just released their own version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 in which Google, not Windows Live Search, is the primary search engine. The browser also provides users with the Google Toolbar as well as a customizable Google homepage. That's certainly some great news for MSN haters who are still choosing IE as their browser of choice.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Geek Horoscope: The Holiday Edition

BBSpot has just released an holiday edition of their very funny and popular Geek Horoscope series. Funny stuff, like always.

Jan 20 - Feb 18

Your kids are getting smarter. They're planning on putting a webcam pointed at the Christmas tree to try and catch Santa on video. For their sake, don't put the presents under the tree while drunk and half-naked again.

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End of Week Humor: What Do You Want For Christmas? A Wii or a PS3?

The folks at EpilepticGaming.com have recently put together a short but funny "A Christmas Story" spoof to help you get through that last week of work before the Christmas holidays begin. Enjoy the show!

Friday, December 15, 2006

New TV Technology: OLED Displays (Video)

Here's an interesting clip produced by CNet presenting the future of television technology: OLED Displays. Enjoy the show!

Google's Holiday Wish May Come True: An Online Clone Of MS Office

It seems that Google has its hands everywhere these days. How many acquisition have they made in the past year? The only two that I can think of right now is Writely and Youtube, but I'm sure there are tons of other ones, and this is probably only a beginning. Why am I saying this? Because apparently, Montain View's giant is about to acquire a Korean based corporation that will allow them to enter in direct competition against one of Microsoft's top product: MS Office.

Rumors of a deal between Google and the Korean developer of an online Microsoft Office clone gained intensity Friday as Kang Tae-jin, CEO of the Korean firm, arrived in Silicon Valley.

Kang's firm makes the ThinkFree Office suite, a highly-regarded bundle of office software that mimics the Microsoft standard. A Google acquisition team -- reportedly the same team that led the firm's acquisition of YouTube -- has visited the Korean company for acquisition talks twice in recedays, according to Korean press reports.

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Nintendo To Replace 3.2 Million Wii Straps

Yep, after seeing too many pictures of people destroying their television set or getting hurt by their wiimote, the folks at Nintendo have decided to replace 3.2 million Wiimote straps. The recall will allow owners to exchange their current remote strap for one almost twice as thick.

The Wii's signature wand-like remote controller is used to mimic the motions of a tennis racket, golf club or sword, depending on the game. But soon after the Wii went on sale last month, people started reporting cases of the controller's strap breaking as they waved it about vigorously.

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Microsoft Releases Vista Update to Fight 'Monster'

As most of you probably know, Vista was "cracked" last month by a few overly bright villains who came up with a way to bypass the product activation technology.

The Frankenbuild workaround essentially involves cobbling together files from a Vista Release Candidate build with the build that was released to manufacturing in November, to create a hybrid that bypasses activation.

Now, just a few weeks later, Microsoft released an update to prevent people from using this "Frankenbuild" method.

The Vista update released by Microsoft the week of Dec. 12 will use the new Windows Update client in Vista to make the "Frankenbuild" systems to go through a genuine validation check.

The update will only affect systems that are running a specific binary-tampered version of Windows Vista, Microsoft said in a statement.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, many more techniques that bypasses Vista's activation process still exist on the web. My guess is that the next year will be an interesting but frustrating one for Redmond's anti-piracy team.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

[GAS] Contest: Who's the Sexiest Geek of 2006?

Yep, 2006 is almost over, and since this blog is all about the world of technology and sexy geeks, we thought that starting a contest to determine who's the sexiest geek of 2006 would be a fabulous way to end the year.

Here are the basic rules:

  • Leave your nomination in the comments section of this post. You can nominate yourself or someone else;
  • Only 1 nomination per participant (If you nominate someone else, you obviously cannot win!);
  • The nominated person has to have accomplished something of worth on the web in the past year;
  • Explain why this person should be picked and provide a link to his blog/site.
Nominations are starting today and will last for a total of 7 days. After this period, the [GAS] team will pick their 5 favorite entries on which you, the readers, will vote to determine the winner.

The prize? $100 deposited to the winner's Paypal account or to spend in any shop that supports Paypal. If the lucky person doesn't want the money, he/she can choose to donate it to his/her charity of choice.

Let the nominations begin!

Edit: The nomination period is now over.

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Top 15 Best Time Wasters on the Web

As we're getting closer to Christmas, work-related productivity in companies is quickly going down; so why not follow the trend and waste some of your precious time visiting cool spots on the web? And if you don't know where to start looking, the folks at PC World just pubbed this great article listing the top 15 time wasters on the web.

It's first thing in the morning and you're at the office. You're sipping your coffee and sifting through e-mail, but you're not quite ready to delve into the real work of the day. So what are you gonna do? Fire up your Web browser and distract yourself by wasting time on the Internet.

Ah, but where to start? In the name of science, we culled through hundreds of bookmarks to determine the best sites for spitting in the face of productivity.

Read more (Via Tech. Filter)

Windows Vista Randomization Gets OEM Thumbs Up

According to this article on eWeek, Microsoft's use of code-scrambling diversity in Windows Vista has just received a major thumbs up from most U.S. OEM partners. The technique randomly arranges the positions of key data areas to block hackers from predicting target addresses.

The Redmond, Wash. software giant has convinced major U.S. computer makers—including Dell, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard—to make default changes at the BIOS level to allow a new Vista security feature called ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) to work properly.

ASLR, which is used to randomly arrange the positions of key data areas to block hackers from predicting target addresses, is meant to make Windows Vista more resilient to virus and worm attacks.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

RuBot II Versus Man (Video)

If you've been with us for a while, you'll probably remember a video we posted a few months ago about RuBot II, a cool Rubik's Cube solving robot. In the clip, the machine could solve a cube in a matter of seconds, but the question remains: how would it fare against a human being? Here's a video answering the question, filmed directly from the UK open Rubik's Championships 2006.

Should People Get Vista Now?

Windows VistaWhen Windows Vista becomes widely available next month, it will have been more than five years since Microsoft released a new operating system. So, is Vista worth the wait? Should people be patient and wait a few more months before installing it on their computer? Read this article to find out.

Windows Vista will have a major impact on the personal computing experience of millions of users worldwide during the coming years, but that doesn't mean Microsoft's latest operating system is a killer product, nor something you necessarily need or want.

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Top 10 Scams Of 2006

ConsumerAffairs.com has an article today listing the top 10 scams of 2006. Most of you are probably already aware of these scams, but there are other out there who might profit from reading this list.

Scammers scored at will, generating instant cash using lottery and fake check scams. They capitalized on news events and pop culture to catch consumers off guard, and enlisted all kinds of emerging technology to perfect identity theft.

Here then, chosen from the roughly 50,000 consumer complaints we've processed in the past year, are the ConsumerAffairs.com Top Ten Scams of 2006.

Read more (Via John Chow Dot Com)

Today is Microsoft Patch Day!

Yep, it's that time of the month again folks. Microsoft has just released seven new security bulletins yesterday. They have also updated their Malicious Software Removal Tool.

Here are the details:

MS06-072: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer
Severity: Critical

MS06-073: Vulnerability in Visual Studio 2005 Could Allow Remote Code Execution / Severity: Critical

MS06-074: Vulnerability in SNMP Could Allow Remote Code Execution
Severity: Important

MS06-075: Vulnerability in Windows Could Allow Elevation of Privilege
Severity: Important

MS06-076: Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express
Severity: Important

MS06-077: Vulnerability in Remote Installation Service Could Allow Remote Code Execution / Severity: Important

Happy patching everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Using a 'Defense In Depth' Strategy to Protect your Corporate Network (Part 1)

Defense in DepthLet's face it the days of having your network exposed to the world without danger are now long gone. If you want your company to stay on the road to profitability, you, as the corporate IT resource, will need to make it see the advantages of implementing an effective security architecture in order to protect its assets.

My definition of an effective security architecture will most likely seem excessive upon first glance, but with the fast-paced evolution of both online and offline threats, corporations must always be prepared for the worst. This first post in a series of many will introduce you to the concept of "defense in depth" and will also list some of the key components required to apply that concept to your environment.

First of all, a "defense in depth" architecture is exactly what it implies: a security system composed of multiple layers of protection which completely surround an IT environment. Each layer of defense is there to support the previous one in case it is breached. Not only does this prevent attacks against mission-critical systems but it also gives organizations time to react in case someone does breech their network.

Let's start this series by listings the first 2 components, the front-line soldiers, of our "ideal" security system.

The Firewall

Cisco Pix 525The firewall is the first line of defense against bad guys that come from the perimeter -- in most cases, the Internet. They are mainly designed to prevent unauthorized communications from happening between different sections of a computer network. Firewall rules must be thought out very carefully before entering into production. Usually, conscientious administrators will configure their firewalls to deny all connections to all ports by default. After this, they will slowly start to open required ports one by one until the desired configuration has been achieved.

Additional reads and ressources:

Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) /Intrusion detection system (IDS)

Snort IDSIPS/IDS systems are software or hardware based solutions that constantly scan a network for suspicious activity. If they detect anything abnormal happening they will try to intervene (IPS) or report the situation to the administrator (IDS). Many of you probably believe that an IPS is better then an IDS, yet this is not always the case. IPS devices are often prone to detect false positive events, especially those that attempt to detect rogue traffic using heuristics. In the case of false positive detections, IPSs usually try to stop any suspicious events dead in their tracks, often preventing perfectly good requests from happening. This is not a particularly practical solution if it happens too often. If you want to have a look at a very good IDS that is free and runs both on Linux and Windows, you should definitely take a look at Snort.

Additional reads and ressources:

In the second part of this article, I will continue writing about some of the other components that are a part of our defense in depth architecture. Until then, please stay tuned and be sure you don't miss anything by subscribing to our feed!

The Worst Game of the Year and Other Awards for Awesomely Bad Things in 2006

2006 had plenty of bad games, but what was the worst? What game had the worst glitches and bugs? What was the most disappointing title of the year? TwitchGuru looks back at 2006 to find the worst games and gaming-related items and events.

I think we can say with a fair amount of certainty that 2006 wasn't such a great year for games. Sure, there were some fabulous titles released this year. And yes, we had two notable console launches. But it seemed like that for every Gears of War or Oblivion, there were 10 awful titles. There were far too many mediocre and unoriginal games and poorly designed and poorly conceived titles. In fact, many things about gaming this year were truly bad. So instead of doing another "Best of 2006" list, I figured it was time to take the whipping stick to the worst of 2006.

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Firefox Ads on TV?

After last years full page ad in the New York Times, the folks at the Mozilla foundation have now decided to promote Firefox via a medium that can reach a much larger percentage of the population... television. As was the case last time, these commercials did not cost much since they were all produced voluntarily by amateurs and the cost of antenna time was all paid by the donations of loyal fans.

The 4 chosen ads will be aired on the ESPN, Comedy central and MTV networks and will mainly be played in the San Francisco and Boston area.

Here are the ads in question, for your viewing pleasure:


This is Hot

Billy's Browser

Web for All

(via SpreadFirefox

Is Online Banking Too Dangerous to Trust?

Many security experts are ready to say, "So long and thanks for all the phish." But the convenience and benefits of online banking are just too great for consumers to swear off. What is your take on this? Do you think that online banking is safe enough for everyone, or should people get back to their old ways and walk to the bank when they need to pay their bills?

Every holiday season we get stories about the dangers of e-commerce and pitches from vendors about how they address those dangers.

It appears that many experts are on the side of recommending against e-commerce altogether. Just too dangerous. I was recently involved in a discussion on the famous Funsec security list with several security experts who argued the same thing about online banking.

Read more

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tech Pros Unconvinced IT Job Boom Will Last

The employment market for IT professionals has been fantastic this past year, but unfortunately, the current job boom is probably not going to last much longer, at least that's what most tech people seem to think.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said they don't have confidence that the current IT boom would last much longer. Thirty-two percent thought it would last a little longer, or at least as long as the economy remains strong.

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Top-10 Technology disappointments of 2006

TG Daily has an interesting piece this morning listing the top-10 technology disappointments of 2006. Can you guess who won the #1 spot this year?

It is less than two weeks to Christmas and less than three weeks until we will be ringing in the new year. Time to wrap things up for 2006 and take another look on what was hot - and not. We are starting our mini series with what we felt did not live up to its hype and turned out to be a major disappointment. Here's our Top-10 for this category.

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Mozilla Ships Alpha Version of Firefox 3.0

FirefoxIt looks like the folks at the Mozilla Foundation have already released an alpha version of Firefox 3.0 to developers. Surprisingly, the final product could be shipped as early as Fall 2007, only 1 year after the release of version 2.0. Now let's see if Microsoft can keep up the pace with IE 8 (I doubt it!).

The software, code-named Gran Paradiso, comes just six weeks after Mozilla shipped version 2.0 of the browser, but it has already been more than a year in development, according to Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering.

The final version of Firefox 3.0 is expected to be released by the end of 2007. Developers hope that it will be a major step toward making Web applications indistinguishable from programs that are installed on the desktop, Schroepfer said.

Read more

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How Steel is Made: From Start to Finish (Video)

For those of you who have always wondered how steel was made, then here's an interesting video showing you the whole process from start to finish.

Move over silicon, there's new transistor material in town

According to this article, the #1 transistor material of the last few decades, silicon, will soon hit a wall in terms of size and performance. Fortunately for us, technology lovers, several replacement materials are currently under development all around the globe.

One such material is indium gallium arsenide, or InGaAs, a material in which electrons travel many times faster than in silicon. MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) recently demonstrated InGaAs-fabricated transistors that can carry 2.5 times more current than the latest silicon devices. The transistor was only 60 nanometers, or billionths of a meter long.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Most Ridiculous Gadget Ever: The 85 in 1 Swiss Army Knife

Yeah, you read that right, and no, it's not even a joke. This unique special edition swiss army knife contains all 85 tools that were ever produced by Wenger. At 2lbs and 11 onces, this behemoth is not exactly what we could call "portable". Here's a quick clip presenting the monstruosity with all its 85 arms.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Exchange Server 2007: The End of Service Packs?

It just came to my attention that Microsoft has just finished the development and testing process of Exchange Server 2007. What's most interesting about this new version, however, is its new servicing model, and even better, the probable end of service packs.

Exchange Server 2007 is going to be serviced by Microsoft in a unique, new way that will be a substantial improvement for customers in terms of system reliability, release predictability, and overall quality of software patches. Our goal with servicing Exchange 2007 is to respond to mission critical problems as quickly as possible with high quality fixes, and here’s how we are going to do it:

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Go Wild for Wildfire

Are you like me? A person that likes to setup geeky stuff just for the sake of setting up geeky stuff? Well, I've gone and done it folks. I've installed and configured my very own Jabber Server on one of my machines at home. For those of you interested in actually setting up your own chat-server, I introduce to you: Wildfire, by Jive Software.

A revolution in enterprise instant messaging the combines the power, performance and support of enterprise applications with next generation flexibility... all in an Open Source package.

Wildfire 3.1 installs on any platform, comes with its own JRE package built right into it, and can either be configured to connect to a remote or local database. Once installed, administration is completely done through a simple web-interface. Between the end of the download and the completion of the installation, I had the solution working in less then 15 minutes. For an IM client to use with it, one can download Jive Software's open source client: Spark.

Some have asked, "Why? Why would you install this?" Well for my part, my answer is: "Because I can!" However, being an open-source product, Wildfire is great for corporations who wants a free, secure, private and internal IM solution for inter-departmental communication and collaboration. Wildfire is easy to set up, to administer, and with Spark as a client, easy for users to create their own account.

With an open source product like Wildfire 3.1 that interacts with public systems without sacrificing vital corporate security features, Jive Software is making business IM more functional and driving it even closer to ubiquity. Mike Osterman - President, Osterman Research

Of course you are not limited to using Spark as your IM client of choice, any Jabber client will work. Trillian and Gaim are good example of this.

So have fun with it. For a free solution, this is a surprisingly well developed product. And being Open Source, the price is right!

I, Robot Bartender

Got a powerful thirst? Let El Espanol Borracho, Robomoji or another robotic booze-slinger mix up a crazy cocktail that will blow your mind. Here's a report from Wired journalist John Borland taking a look at a bunch of drink-mixing robots from the Roboexotica Festival in Vienna, Austria.

What's happening here is not just art, not wholly technology, but an intoxicating mixture of the two that manages to comment on both while still pouring a (sometimes) decent drink. Kind of like that philosophy major who tends bar at your local watering hole.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

10 Office Holiday Party Landmines to Avoid

Workers tend to dread holiday parties because "fun" usually doesn't mix very well with "continuing to pay your bills". Since most of your collegues are probably going to attend and not going there could be seen as bad by certain important people, the folk at eWeek pubbed a nice little guided tour of the landmines to avoid.

Can you drink? Must you wear a tie? What if you say the wrong thing? What if your manager says you should loosen up but doesn't really mean it? What if you make a bad joke? Do you have to be nice to the vice president that always calls you "Bob" when your name is "Brian"?

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