Monday, December 31, 2007

The art of software murder

It's a rant against software bloat, and a particularly good one. I suppose we've all read enough of those, but I post this one because it mentions, indeed centers upon, Paint Shop Pro, of which Gail is an enthusiastic user. She was worried when Jasc sold out to Corel. I reassured her. Now it seems that I was wrong.

The comments on other applications are equally dark.

Jack

Sunday, December 30, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-30-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-30-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) I was reading an article titled Heathrow Airport to get first Personal Transport System next year. This of course got my Google juices going. It was necessary to look into this subject a little deeper. I am posting two links the first on the Heathrow story, http://www.ananova.com and the second to a link site on personal transit in general, enough information to satisfy your curiosity if you are interested in learning more about what will most likely develop into our future. http://faculty.washington.edu

2) I was looking through my books the other day, thinking I would like to start a novel to read off an on, but could not find anything interesting. And so, I thought I would look around for something new. I found an author I was not familiar with, although maybe well known to a lot of you out there. Vernor Vinge referred as “The Online Prophet” how could, that! Not grab me. Evidently, in his Sci-Fi novel “True Names” he predicted the internet in 1981. I am going to look around for it on Ebay; here is a link about the author. http://www.salon.com

3) This is an interesting site for the DYI guy, or gal out there who likes to try building things, especially the off the wall type projects. I like this one quite a bit, because I am a tinkerer at heart. You can build; a solid wood clock, a welder from an old microwave, Tesla turbine from old CD’s (something to do with those AOL’s), a marshmallow gun, well you get the idea. Check it out at http://www.instructables.com

4) I was talking to someone the other day who did not know what the Hubble deep field was, that surprised me so I thought I would put up a very good link for anyone else out there who might not be familiar with the subject. Check out the video it puts things into perspective. http://www.deepastronomy.com

5) This is a link sent to me by Riley a few days ago, thanks for the trip down memory lane. Wow does this site transport me back in time to an era that defined a very large part of my life. The sounds of Viet Nam songs, and radio broadcast that were recorded there, and sent back to the states. It is funny how sounds, can trigger memories of days gone by. Give it a listen even if you were not around then, it was the best of times and the worst of times for a lot of us. Thanks again Riley I enjoyed the site a lot. http://www.manchu.org

Divine Disorder on the Desktop

It's an article in Technology Review about "revitalizing the tired old desktop metaphor". Now, while it probably could use a good revitalization, I'm not about to pronounce the desktop as we know it dead.

I've been reading a lot of this sort of thing of late and I find it interesting. I hope you will, too. Please either follow the link in the article to "Bumptop" or use this one.

I also found a sort of history of interactive desktops and/or Graphic user interfaces (GUIs) here that I think you might find both interesting and thought provoking.

Jack

Friday, December 28, 2007

AOL pulls plug on Netscape Web browser - Yahoo! News

I don't many true Netscape users anymore, but it is still sad to see this coming.

HP EX470 Windows Home Server Easter Egg

Kudos to Paul Thurrott for pointing me to this. It's ridiculously cute. Besides; Windows Home Server needs a bit of good press now.

Jack

Open Source Living

I don't know how many times someone has asked me to look for an open source or Free Software app for them because they hate navigating SourceForge. (I LOVE navigating SourceForge, which is probably something I should use to build geek cred and not admit in public.)

Open Source Living is an index of the most popular and proven open source and Free Software applications around. Listings are for Windows, Macs and, of course, Linux and while not separated by OS, the listings are easy enough to get around in and understand. At least that's the mission statement. I note that the site carries a very Google-like beta tag. Still, it works fairly well and I urge you to have a look at it.

Jack

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Microsoft's Windows Home Server corrupts files

Man; Microsoft certainly did not need this one. Windows Home Server has had a rather lackluster launch (to put it mildly) and though many, including myself, see a huge future for it, MS seems to be doing everything wrong.

I wonder what happened to product testing at MS? First Vista comes out half-baked and now this? Maybe they're all off shining Ray Ozzie's shoes?

Jack

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Have a great holiday!

Peace on Earth is my wish. Happy Politically Correct Celebration.



--MissM

IE's Acid trip back to conflict

Here is a short explanation of why one reporter sees Internet Explorer 8's passing of the Acid2 test as important. Basically, it says what I said on the show, Sunday. However, I think the author, Phil Manchester, does a much better job of putting it into perspective than I did, which makes this worth reading.

Jack

Monday, December 24, 2007

Pics of Deepak's Grandchildren

Not only pics of Tristan Jack Midha, the newest arrival, but some of Sophia Helen, who just turned 2.

Enjoy,

Jack

Serious Windows Home Server concerns [Updated]

Now here is one to follow. In my very limited experience with WHS, this hasn't come up. However; it may well be device related, so don't dismiss it until we know.

Jack

Antivirus protection worse than a year ago

This will scare you a bit. The full report won't be out for a while, but the preview/peeks are bad enough.

Jack

Serious Flash vulns menace at least 10,000 websites

Your alarmist Uncle Jack has been negligent. It seems any of us who use Flash, regardless of underlying platform (here that Mac folks?) are in danger here. For now, the only thing I can think of to do is disable Flash.

There will doubtless be more details in the next few days. Expect protection from AV companies and workarounds from Adobe, if not an actual fix. (Everyone in the know seems to be betting on a combination of both, as the problem lies in something Adobe can't control; the tools used to build Flash sites.) Isn't the Internet grand?

Jack

Microsoft fixed borked IE update

A few people I have talked to have taken issue with Microsoft's timeline on their issuing a fix for this problem, but it is out there, it is automated if you have Automatic Updates on or it can be gotten manually. Anyway; it seems to fix the problems entirely.

Jack

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-23-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-23-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Geek Meet 2008

Hi all.

As you know, Geek Meet 2008 is scheduled for April 11-13 2008 in Las Vegas, NV.

We have started to look into the arrangements for Geek Meet this year, and due to the proposals being received, we are considering instituting a registration fee for Geek Meet this year. Please let us know your thoughts by responding to our polls on whether or not you would pay a fee, and if so, how much you would be willing to pay.

Unfortunately, if the response is that people would prefer not to pay a fee, we might be forced to find a new location.

Thanks.

Aaron


Are you willing to pay a registration fee for Geek Meet 2008?
Yes
No
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com




How much are you willing to pay?
$10
$11-$20
$21-$30
$31-$40
$41-$50
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com



*Note: Any fee collected will be used to cover the Geek Meet expenses such as T-shirts and the cost of the meeting room for the show.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) I thought with Christmas only a day or two away I should find a good “Geek Gift” somewhere out there, and while I suppose a little late to get it on your list you might buy one of these with the Christmas money aunt Mary put into your Christmas card. You might have to add a few bucks of your own, well maybe quite a few, anyway check this out. The 914-PC-BOT is the first general service robot designed for digital life in the home. It is a host computer, it is a web server, it has an 80 Giga hard drive, and a Gig of Ram, and, you can program it with Linux Umbunto, or Windows XP, and there is a lot of other stuff above my pay grade. http://www.whiteboxrobotics.com

2) This is a revisit to the one laptop per child site. They have extended the give one get one program through the end of the year. Therefore, if you want to participate you have 10 days left before they change it. It would be a very nice thing to do in the holiday spirit. You might even know some one to give the one you receive, double your pleasure, double your fun, not to mention your karma. http://laptopgiving.org

3) This is a wiki site on free energy. Many (hundreds) of online free video links to sites dealing with free energy, every thing from home videos of people showing off their inventions, to professional videos, and news releases. Even crop circles displaying how to build inter-stellar space ships, analyzed, and explained if you want to build one. Being a person who likes conspiracy theories, I liked the videos on suppression. They made some good points, those who control how we get our energy, control everything. I put up a site a while back on a person running his car on water, I was wondering what happened to him, there are references here to other people doing the same thing, and they also disappeared. This site is amazing if you are into the subject, it is all here, so check it out. http://peswiki.com

4) If you are a fan of Google’s Sketchup program, this tutorial site that is very interesting, for instance you can watch someone design a tractor from scratch, step-by- step, at an accelerated rate. It is very interesting for anyone who has wanted to play around with a cad program just for fun, or design your new home for real. You could even design your own free energy system. If you have not seen it, Google’s program is worth checking out. http://www.youtube.com

5) To end the links for the week something for the space buffs out there, I ran across an article that took me by surprise. Formerly the Sun was the largest object in our solar system. Now, comet 17P/Holmes holds that distinction. An interesting read, and printed up it might even win you a bar bet, or two. http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Plexiglas-like DVD to hold 1TB of data

Finally! Someplace for John B. to put all his penguin pictures in one place!

If this debuts at reasonable prices, this puts a whole new spin on backups. Until it does, I'm staying skeptical.

Jack

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kaspersky false alarm quarantines Windows Explorer

"Stuff" happens. This highlights the problem with signature databases. As time goes on, they get so large that confusion rears it's ugly head. Kaspersky got on top of this one in a hurry, but some users were still affected; especially those with it set to delete rather than quaranteen files. A cautionary tale, that.

Jack

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Download details: Standalone Update Package for Windows XP Service Pack 3

"Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate"
This is a public release of XP's SP3. This is still BETA it's very close to the full version. This is 336.1MB download and I would guess Microsoft will be mailing CD's at a later date.

Maybe it can fix some of the WUD problems.
AlaskaJoe

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Patch Tuesday IE Update Goes Wrong

I ran into this yesterday, but did not attribute it to the proper cause and instead reinstalled IE, which seems to have fixed the problem, which is something you might wish to keep in mind.

However; This short article at The Inquirer will give you the basic info you need and steer you to the appropriate Knowledge Base (KB) article if you are having the problem.

It's hard to tell how widespread this is. However, it is starting to get a lot of press and may affect a lot of people or only a few.

Jack

QuickBooks update shreds Mac files

This story is still only about 12 hours old and is still developing in terms of what Intuit might be able to do to mitigate damage. Support is available. For now, don't install anything and hit the Intuit support pages for further instructions.

Jack

Sunday, December 16, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-16-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-16-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Review: Windows XP

It's a Vista satire that I think you really will like.

Jack

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) I just ran across this site looks interesting sort of like a cross between a verbal blog, personal talk show (you can host), a Socrates café, all wrapped up in one. I will need to check into it some more, but on the surface I think it might be fun to play around with. http://www.talkshoe.com

2) Next up a site that is in process of creating a web reference for every species of life known to exist on the planet, and then to keep up with the new discoveries as they come along. Sounds easy until realizing there are currently 1.8 million known, and we add several thousand every year. The problem is cataloging them before they become extinct. http://www.eol.org

3) This is another of those free online movie sites they currently have over four hundred available. Need to sign up, but it is free. They even had Rocky and Bullwinkle, used to be a favorite of mine, especially the fractured fairy tales, and Peabody the Dog, with the way back machine. They also have many classic movies, and you can share viewing, not sure, I understand why though. http://cinema.lycos.com

4) This is an interesting link on determining the meaning of your name, just type in a name and you will get a breakdown of who you are supposed to be. The readings are interesting, and surprisingly accurate. http://www.bostonuk.com/

5) One more for those who like ghost stuff, sorry I found this to late for Halloween, but rather than wait till next year I thought I would just throw it in. It is rather extensive there are many subjects, covered in depth. I am still browsing around the site, I hold most of this stuff at arms length, but am always willing to keep an open mind. http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/

A Few Words About Flash Memory Sticks

I've spoken on the show about durability of flash memory devices several times. Because I'm often questioned by listeners and others on this subject, I decided to write a bit about it for you and sort of put it all in one place.

Note throughout that this is just my opinion and based on my experiences and those of a few people I know. This base is fairly limited and your experiences may vary quite a bit. I do walk around with a minimum of 4 at all times, carrying Windows software, Linux distros and all sorts of tools for working on systems, not to mention how-to stuff and my own documents. I use them a lot at home, as well.

Still, I have gone through a number of these things now and I think I can state rather fairly that there are some problems that can affect them.

First and foremost is heat. These devices get warm. The longer they stay warm, the more prone they are to failure, in my experience. Not total failure. They will simply lose capacity. I assume a few transistors die and the system drops that entire block from the file allocation table. Neither I nor anyone I know has had one simply die. They just lose capacity, either in small or large increments, as they age.

Because simply leaving the memory sticks plugged in to the system keeps them quite warm, I have taken to physically removing them whenever I am not either actively reading or writing from them. (Just ejecting them or unmounting them from the file system is not enough. They will still heat up if left connected.) Since implementing that little policy, I have not had one lose even a tiny bit of capacity. Obviously, I do not recommend someone plugging flash memory devices in to take advantage of Microsoft Vista's "Ready Boost" feature. You can do it, but be warned that the boost in performance is not large at all and you're going to have to replace the flash device fairly often. And if you insist in giving this a shot, there are devices specifically intended to fulfill this purpose. Buy one of those. The price premium is because they are designed to take the heat.

And you've already figured out not to leave them in the car, right? That will kill them faster than a 3 year old with a hammer.

The second enemy of memory sticks is dust. It gets into the sockets and kills connectivity. I assume what happens is that the dust is sometimes conductive and crosses connectors, but I am not sure of this. I never buy a stick that folds into it's cover. I want one with a proper cap that fits rather tightly. That way it won't collect all the different dusts and particles that lurk in my pockets and in the bottom of my toolbox and purse. (Yes, guys. I carry a purse. I simply have too much junk to handle when I move away from my home to get along without one. I just make sure it's neither pink nor patent leather and no on says anything about it.)

The third area of concern as far as reliability goes is rough handling. This is kind of a "no brainer", but even the toughest sticks I have seen are prone to damage if they are crushed. It sounds simplistic, but when we chuck these things into a bag or whatever, if we pay just a bit of heed to storing them they will not be damaged. Personally, I just put them into a side pocket and go. Back pockets are a no-no.

I've had experience now with all sorts of brands and models. I have a few favorites. Tied for first place are Memorex and PNY brands. They seem to last the best and offer the best read and write speeds, regardless of whether you buy the fast stuff or just their run of the mill. Running relatively close behind them is San Disk and their Cruzer lines especially.

A word about PNY brand. In the early days of flash memory sticks, their stuff was average at the best. The ones they made early on were in sizes of a few megabytes, and that stuff failed repeatedly on me. Since then, and especially in the last 18 months, they have really brought up their game. I hear this from everyone and my experiences jibe with theirs. I used to avoid PNY like the pest because they were so unreliable, but now will spend my own money on them and gladly so. Even at that, I do steer clear of the older, smaller PNY units; those 256 MB or smaller. I have some and I use them, but only where a quick backup or replacement is at hand. I have learned not to trust them the hard way and they never leave the workbench. It is at the least embarassing to have one fail in front of a client.

I am not aware of a "bad" brand; one that you need to steer clear of.

Jack

Saturday, December 15, 2007

BZ's '07 San Francisco Fleetweek Photo Gallery

wow! Some really incredible Blue Angel photographs from Fleet Week, which is this week in San Francisco. Thanks
to the BadAstronomer for pointing them out.

BZ's '07 San Francisco Fleetweek Photo Gallery



--MissM
my shared google reader items.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

MikeOS

Here's something to do on those cold winter nights; make your own operating system!

In the words of the web site;

MikeOS is a 16-bit operating system for x86 PCs, written in assembly language, which boots from a floppy disk or CD-ROM. It features a text-based dialog-driven user interface, a command-line, support for FAT12 (DOS) floppies and PC speaker sound. It can load external programs and has over 30 system calls. Basic DOS .COM program support is also included.

It isn't supposed to be a "general purpose" operating system. Rather, it is a teaching tool with basic functionalities. I think it is cool. It has a good reputation, too. I've downloaded a copy to fool with here at some point in the future.

I think some of you might like this.

Jack

PlayForSure becomes "Certified for Windows Vista"

Huh? Does this make as little sense to you as it does to me? Frankly, it is time go to one of the legit stores that sell non DRM'd MP3s (Amazon.com for example). If you want whole CDs you can always rip them, too. But this MS incompatible changing target stuff is pretty lame. I feel very sorry for the MS partners who are trying to sell their hardware and trying to compete with the iPod and the Zune using PlaysForS^H^H^H, er, Certified for Vista?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rogers accused of hijacking other web pages

Canadian web surfers have been subjected to modified content as their ISP injects it's own content into http pages they have requested. This is outrageous and to be sure Canadians are duly outraged.

I'm only surprised that a US ISP hasn't done this yet (that I know of). We usually have the lead in this kind of baloney.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Amateur Time Hackers Play With Atomic Clocks at Home

This is just too darned cool!! Folks who have acquired surplus precision timekeeping stuff on eBay or elsewhere and play with it. I especially liked the home demonstration of relativity. I know you're going to enjoy this one.

Jack

Monday, December 10, 2007

Asus allows memory upgrades to EEE

The link is to a news blurb at The Inquirer rather than the Asustek web page, which seems to have been slashdotted by the rush to look at the new warranty terms. Even so, this has all the relevant details unless you're an EeePC owner who needs to print out a page for future reference.

Jack

Sunday, December 09, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-09-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-09-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) This is one of those “Covers it all sites”, just plain interesting reading on world oddities covering nature, people, technologies, media, and much more actually fifty-seven different subjects, a great read. http://2spare.com/

2) Next up another car of the future, but not to distant you can order one today. This car looks more like an airplane than a car; in fact, its name Aptera means wingless flight in Greek. Very cool car either all electric, or hybrid, 0 to 60 in ten seconds, 85 mph cruising speed, up to 300 MPG. http://www.aptera.com/

3) This is one of those above my pay grade sites, and I think a lot of this audience is familiar with it. But, it is new to me and I thought I should put it up just in case some of you may have missed it, and for those novice types, like me who may be listening. A device called the Bug, which is an open source modular, mobile device, kind of like a electronic Lego concept. A base unit which is a fully programmable and “hackable” Linux computer, equipped with a fast CPU, 128 MB Ram, built-in WiFi, rechargeable battery, USB, Ethernet, and a small LCD with button controls. Each Bug base houses four connections, for users to combine any assortment of BUG modules to create their individualized ultimate gadget. http://www.buglabs.net/products

Microsoft publishes detailed Vista SP1 “changelog”

Here it is, folks. The list of "stuff" they've put into Service Pack 1 for Vista. The reading is dry, dry, dry, but nowhere near so dry as the "official" Microsoft post. Though this one is rather long, it does fit on one page, where the MS one seemed to go on for eternity.

SP1 is going to be interesting. It seems to me MS has concentrated on a different set of enhancements than I would have chosen, but then I don't have all the feedback they have to help me choose stuff.

Anyway; have a look. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. SP1 is not the simple security rollup we were told it would be at first. Far from it, in fact.

Jack

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Linux is about to take over the low end of PCs

An opinion piece from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. SJVN makes a point with real numbers, dollars and cents type, for Linux gaining a foothold the the business market.

I think the biggest problem for the Linux PC vendors if this happens, will be keeping up with the demand. Dell and HP may come back into play, if they will do something about the prices. Case in point, Dell selling the Linux loaded PC for more than the same Windows loaded PC in the UK, and then Dell pulling the Linux offering, because it wasn't selling. I would buy the one with Windows, and wipe the drive, loading my own Linux, if I had to pay more for the Linux one up front.

Friday, December 07, 2007

UPDATED! Western Digital NAS drive blocks full access to media files

It seems Western Digital has decided for themselves what type of files we are allowed to put on our hard drives. This is a twisted tale. It started with this post on BoingBoing, then grew from there. Here is a list of the types of files it restricts access to. It is huge.

Though this is an ongoing story, I have a hard time believing a hard drive company could be so stupid as to do this to customers. We shall have to see. Other companies could follow. If that happens, this is a disaster for our freedom of use of our machines.

Jack

UPDATE; Now it appears Seagate is selling drives that are natively incompatible with Linux and Macs without a workaround being instituted. I smell a monopoly at work here and I am not happy about it.

Jack

Substantial green benefits to running Linux

From a 2004 study done in the UK, this article from CNN explains in short how Linux benefits the environment.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

» Vista SP1 will deliver big network speed boost | Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report | ZDNet.com

"Vista SP1 will deliver big network speed boost"
Forget the reports you might have read about SP1 resulting in no performance boost. That story was based on a silly artificial benchmark involving scripting of Office applications. Back here in the real world, where gigabit network connections are now commonplace, you’ll see at least one huge improvement when transferring files over network connections.
The big question is: Will this really improve Vista's network speed?

AlaskaJoe

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

BBC NEWS | Technology | 'Kill switch' dropped from Vista

"Microsoft is to withdraw an anti-piracy tool from Windows Vista, which disables the operating system when invoked, following customer complaints."
Wow, excellent response! Well done Microsoft!

--MissM
BBC Technology | 'Kill switch' dropped from Vista

AT&T to exit pay phone business in 2008 - Boston.com

This is a sad news article.

I guess everyone better get a cell phone.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Video: RSS in Plain English | Common Craft - Explanations In Plain English

I may have posted this before, but daWabbit's better half and I were talking about ebay this weekend, and I mentioned RSS to her, and she'd never heard of it. So, I thought I'd post this and mayyyyybe, the most prolific contributor to the blog would show his wife the video . I really liked the comparison between RSS/bookmarks and Netflix/video store, very appropriate. One comes to you, you have to go fetch the other.

Video: RSS in Plain English | Common Craft - Explanations In Plain English

--MissM

WORLD'S FIRST .COM

thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com has a list of the first 100 .com domain names registered. I found it interesting and think you will, too.

Jack

At software giant, pain gives rise to progress

CNet.com has an interesting account of how Microsoft became more aware of security and changed their internal practices to not only deal with problems but to avoid them whenever possible. While it is somewhat "rah, rah" in it's tone, it seems to match the facts. In other words, it isn't made pretty just for your consumption. I think it is worth a read. Plus, I enjoyed it.

Jack

Vocalize Firefox

A platform independent, browser specific screen reader? Yup.

After some problems working with Jaws, Charles Chen went to work on his own and created Fire Vox, CLiCk, Speak, and the CLC-4-TTS library that power this idea into reality. It's pretty cool. Works well, so far at least.

Worth checking out.

Jack

Sunday, December 02, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-02-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-02-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) First link of the week is a free service, to our service men, and women. This site sponsored by Xerox, and offered to help support our troops. You may select a card, enter a short message, and send it to help support troop moral during the holiday season. While you cannot select a particular individual, they will select at random a service person for you, and mail it in your name, cost nothing, but even a few seconds of pleasant distraction can be a gift. http://www.letssaythanks.com/

2) Offering number two, you know I have an interest in on line audio and video sites. I suppose it says something about the amount of free time I have, but the reality is I cannot watch T.V. anymore, due to lack of content, and over commerciality. This site is conversations with who they consider the most fascinating people of the year, we are not referring to the people you generally see on the tube, these are people who excel in their fields. The subject matter covers a very wide spectrum, I very much like this site, and intend to spend some time here. http://test.ted.com

3) I am putting this old favorite up because I have not heard it mentioned off the net in a while, although I know it is doing very well on the net. People who are old A.B. fans will recognize it immediately. For those not familiar it is an Art Bell type audio site. I was just there yesterday because they did an interview with Shirley Maclaine, and I wanted to see if they mentioned the Kucinich comment from the debates, which they did, but briefly. This link will take you directly to the interview on the archive page, http://www.unknowncountry.com , if you want to explore the site use this link to the home page. http://www.unknowncountry.com/ To navigate to show archives from the home page use the dreamland tab.

4) Last up for the week a link to an interesting article on “The Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa” in death valley. I have a cousin who hangs out a lot in Death Valley and we were talking about them. When I go home I went to one of my favorite geological sites to brush up on them, thought there might be some interest in this mystery. They still do not know what actually moves these rocks weighing hundreds of pounds across the dry lakebed; the article is about the proposed theories, and possibilities. http://geology.com

Vulnerability of software integrity and code signing applications to chosen-prefix collisions for MD5

Some of us rely on code signatures. I know I do. I check them religiously on files I download, keep them in secure places and run them every time I open one of those executable files for installation.

It has been known for some time that MD5 checksums might be vulnerable, but according to the paper linked to above it is toast. I'm worried.

Jack

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Security firm cracks encryption for Microsoft's wireless keyboards

Okay; I have absolutely no idea if this is actually important to anyone not already wearing a tinfoil beanie (with or without propellor) and NSA types. But it does illustrate the extent to which our systems and tools are being scrutinized. And anyone who reads up on stuff like this has to despair at the state of security.

Jack

Leopard is the New Vista, and It's Pissing Me Off

Writing in PC Magazine, Oliver Rist takes Apple to task over Leopard. This is a harsh criticism, by any standard, but well worth your time.

Jack

Thursday, November 29, 2007

EFF Releases Reports and Software to Spot Interference with Internet Traffic

Are you a ComCast subscriber? Do you think your ISP is fooling with your business on the web? The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some tools for you, including a rather windy how-to (including some necessary network theory as background) on how to spot such tomfoolery. Just click on the link titled "Detecting Packet Injection: A Guide to Observing Packet Spoofing by ISPs".

Jack

Hackers hijack web search results ( BBC News )

Deliberate poisoning of search engines endangers Windows computers using Google, MSN and Yahoo search engines. Comments from Sunbelt, Trend and others.

It gets worse everyday, as the criminals try to find new ways to sneak into your private information.

Sunbelt's blog has more details http://sunbeltblog.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Age Determines Technology's Value

"Look at a PC and what do you see? Many baby boomers and older members of Generation X are conscious of the technology and infrastructure that make PCs work; then they see content. Generation Y and the Millennials see just content."

What do you see? Maybe it's a good thing to be old! :)

AlaskaJoe

Ten things holding back tech

Interesting indictments.

Jack

Rambus aims for a terabyte of bandwidth

Now this is a cool one. You can find several articles about it around the well known tech news sites. I chose this one because it is short.

I know this would be an important gain in computer capabilities but, to be perfectly honest, I can't get my mind around the concept. It is just too far removed from today. I guess that means it would be a very great leap forward. If you can't imagine the benefits, they are either imaginary or very huge.

Jack

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rumour of new hole in Windows

This one is to be proven, as the announcement at Heise makes perfectly clear. Still, it's one to watch, to see if we are in any danger.

Jack

New QuickTime bug opens XP, Vista to attack

Another week, another set of vulnerabilities.

Jack

Sunday, November 25, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-25-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-25-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Links from the Gregg Zone

1) For the first couple of items this week I thought I would take up a general view of Thanksgiving, meaning a year round giving thanks for the use of the planet by supporting green technologies. If you have not been keeping up with the advancements in the field of solar energy, you are in for some real surprises. There is a company called Nanosolar that is doing some very big things, and not in the future I mean now. They have been quietly working away building a plant in San Jose California (140,000 sq. ft.), and another near Berlin, Germany (507,000 sq. ft.). They expect to be in production early next year; they have made some very large advances in the technology. The solar cells they produce are printed like newspaper, and about the same thickness, with a cost around a tenth of current conventional solar panels. Due to the fact these do not use any silicon, which is in short supply these days, they can keep the cost low. The link I have put up is the main site for the company, however I suggest you link to the “news + awards” link page, because this is the best place to research what is going on, very interesting, check it out. http://www.nanosolar.com/
2) My second item is something I just think is one of the best ideas I have seen come along in a long time. It is a device called the Sawfish, what it does is to harvest the forests that have been flooded by the creation of dams, reservoirs, and man made lakes. It seems even after fifty years in the cold water areas these trees have been perfectly preserved. The Sawfish is a remote controlled device, using cameras to maneuver into position it grabs on to the tree with two large pinchers, attaches an air bag, and then saws the tree above the lake bed without disturbing the eco-system in any way. It has proved itself already, late last year in British Columbia by harvesting six thousand trees in six months. It is estimated the value of submerged lumber is over fifty billion dollars. The today video on the main page is worth checking out, this is the type of progress we need more of finding wasted resources, and using them to slow our global problems. http://www.tritonlogging.com/
3) The third and final link for the week goes deep into the Gregg Zone, that area of questioning the origin of our reality. This is one of my favorite areas of introspection, asking the tough questions. Who am I? Where does my conscious perception of self originate from? What is reality? What is illusion? Where is the border between perception, and reality? This segment is dealing with something I ran across recently, an article by Nick Bostrom Department of Philosophy, Oxford University. The paper is titled “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” The simulation argument. This site, and subject are intense, approach with an open mind and I can guarantee it will be expanded. Mr. Bostroms original paper has a link on the left side of the front page; there is also an extensive list of links for further reading, and reactions to the paper. http://www.simulation-argument.com/

Friday, November 23, 2007

ASUS eeePC: First impressions and GPL violations

Now this is disappointing. Very disappointing. Asus is apparently not playing by the rules. And who was the bright light that came up with the idea that opening the DIMM compartment to add memory voided the warranty?

I am a LOT less enthusiastic about the EeePC than I was and unless a bunch of this stuff gets fixed really quickly, I won't be buying one next week, as planned.

Jack

Windows XP SP3 Yields Performance Gains

Now here is some very welcome news. Especially after the disappointment of no gains in performance with Vista SP1. In some areas gains are in the neighborhood of 10%, which is stunning, in my opinion.

You'll enjoy reading this one.

Jack

Thursday, November 22, 2007

For your enjoyment...

In honor of the long weekend in America, I thought I'd post my google reader shared items.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and we'll see you on Sunday, for another content filled show.



and apologies in advance to you rss readers, I know that the shared links don't show up.

And a LOL video:


[h/t Dvorak's blog for the video]
--MissM

BD+ crack released

Slysoft has released a HUGE functionality update to AnyDVD which allows reproduction of disks protected by BD+. This is the last link in the Blu-Ray chain to be broken and, as usual, Slysoft does it in a user-friendly way.

Read on;

Jack

Monday, November 19, 2007

Steganos Offers Free Version of Safe One

Steganos is a German company specializing in serious encryption and data protection for industries like banking. They are highly thought of.

Now, they are offering a version of one of their products for free to Windows users. Check this one out. Really. It's a good product and encrypting a volume of super-private stuff you carry with you might be just the ticket to set your mind at ease. There is a password generator and everything.

Jack

Vista Requires More Hardware Resources than Microsoft's Windows for Supercomputers

Softpedia takes Microsoft's Vista to task for it's profligate consumption of computer resources. This one is worth a read, if only for the irony inherent in it.

At the same time, exo-blog takes apart the beta for Vista Service Pack 1 and notes there is no performance improvement available from installing it. I'm not sure how to take this as it is in direct conflict with reports from testers whom I know and respect.

See for yourself.

Jack

Sunday, November 18, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-18-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-18-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) This has to be the best site I have found in a long time. I really like documentary films this site has 589 of them free online, and will most likely be adding more. In the technology section, select computers there are about twenty full-length movies on computer related subjects. Also in the technology section I was very impressed with the listing “What We Still Don’t Know” Especially with part, three of that series, deals with how science first decided against intelligent design, then embraced the idea, then threw it out again only to come back to it in the end. I especially liked the concept that we are actually living in a computer program simulation, not like in the Matrix, but as in our reality is programmed. I have seen a couple of other references to this concept elsewhere. Another one I especially liked was under anthropology titled Guns, Germs, and Steel this was a “National Geographics Special” about the way civilizations developed around the world, and why some advanced more that others mostly by luck of the draw. Anyway, this site promises to take up way to much of my time. http://best.online.docus.

2) One of my recurrent themes since I started doing this has been the concept that the internet with its free exchange of information has the potential to change the direction of world development especially in the political realm. The last link I offered started me on a quest of sorts to find other links related to free online documentaries, there are a lot of them out there, from serious treatments of how we did not go to the moon, faked it all, to quack medical cures for everything. However, there are always diamonds in the ruff. I was surfing various sites looking for something interesting when I saw a title about Fox News, I remembered seeing a story about one of the current presidential candidates, and there connections to that organization. I am not going to get into that aspect of the subject; I will leave that part of the equation up to you. The link I am posting is about the manipulation of the news, a single person pushing his political views and agenda with an audience of 3/4 of the world population that to me is very scary. Without the internet, curiosity, and concern for what is really going on behind the propaganda fed to us daily I would never have known how staggering the numbers are. The video I am referring to is the seventh one on the list "Out Foxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism", I will be watching some of the others soon. http://www.trythis.com


3) Could Leonardo Da Vinci have left us the first Easter egg? An interesting article in the BBC linked here, might offer that possibility. Someone has postulated there is a 40-second musical score hidden in the painting “The Last Supper”. I am afraid I have no expertise in this area at all, so I will leave it up to you, and the experts. http://news.bbc

4) There might be some strange time loop angel to this article in the English version of “The Local” a Swedish newspaper about an iron age Mickey Mouse, found during an excavation in southern Sweden. I have to admit it sure looks like Mickey, wonder if Walt was Swedish. Bet it would do well on Ebay for sure. Worth a look for any Disney fans out there. http://www.thelocal.se

Friday, November 16, 2007

What Intel Giveth, Microsoft Taketh Away

Even if you don't read much of what we post here, you have just got to read this one. Yes, it savages Microsoft. Yes, it is biased. However; the accusations could as easily be pointed at a number of other software companies.

Jack

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Public takes on Bletchley's Colossus UPDATED!

A rebuilt version of WWII's Colossus electro-mechanical computer used to break German codes is now in competition with PCs. It's kind of cool and will let us see just how powerful those old computers were.

Jack

Update; Here is a site where you can actually get problems generated by the Enigma machines to crack, if that turns your crank.

Overclocker's University

It seems Foxconn has come up with a new scheme to keep in close touch with the overclocker/enthusiast communities. I thought some of you might want to see this.

Jack

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apple charges fortune for memory upgrade

It's not just Apple, though this seems a particularly egregious example.

The whole point in posting this is to remind you all, and inform those who might not know, that the company who "made" your computer is the LAST place you want to look for memory and some other upgrades. You are much better off going to reputable manufacturers and dealers on the web, or even local to you, and getting your parts there.

Jack

Sunday, November 11, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-11-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-11-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

How to troubleshoot Windows Home Server problems

This ComputerWorld article is the first on this subject I have seen. It looks pretty useful, too. Have a look for yourself and I'll bet you bookmark it against future need. I did.

Jack

AMD's Phenom/790FX utility could be a jewel

The link is to a fairly detailed review of Gigabyte's GA-MA790FX-DQ6 motherboard. The board is apparently a very good one, but the overclocking/tuning utility that came with it is what really caught the reviewer's attention, apparently with good reason. NVidia and Intel have similar utilities, but the new one from AMD is supposedly the new king of the hill.

I think you will enjoy the review. It's not too long nor overly occupied with the bit-level details. Even so, it gives a pretty good picture of what will probably prove to be a top enthusiast's board on the AMD side of the street.

Jack

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) This is a video sent to me that I liked it is one of those three minute; make you think type of videos. Not sure how many others will like it, you know me I am just a little twisted in the way I look at the world. However, I think this little video says a lot about who, and what we are just kind of puts things in perspective. http://www.youtube.com

2) Last week, or maybe the week before, geez I seem to have forgot where I left my memory, anyway I posted the link for the 2001 UFO disclosure movie. You know the one with all the airline pilots, air force generals, and government officials coming out about UFO’s, at the National Press Club in Washington D.C... Well they are going to do it again. November 12 that is tomorrow, some of you may have caught the interviews about it on Larry King Friday show. It will be moderated by Fife Symington the Governor of Arizona he was on the show, along with James Fox film maker of the movie “Out of the Blue” one of the better UFO movies, Colonel Chuck Halt, Nick Pope, and Shirley MacClaine. I am putting up several links about this; first, the written transcript of Larry’s show http://transcripts.cnn.com the video is probably on YouTube now, but not at this time. Next, a press release about the 2007 meeting tomorrow http://www.nhne.org/ . And, a link to the movie “Out of the Blue” mentioned on Larry’s show, it is in eight parts, http://www.nhne.org there are several other videos here you might like. You can be sure when the video of the press conference comes out you will find a link here in the Gregg Zone.

3) This strikes me as a sign of our times, I am not sure where I come down on it, but you may have a use or interest in this site. This is a map service updated every 450 to 900 seconds showing worldwide terrorist activity, gang activity, illegal alien activity, and soon to be added Amber Alerts, Bird flu reports, and I assume a host of others. This is a clickable google-earth type map, with various icons showing alerts, and locations of the events. You may navigate, and zoom, I am sure there are other features I did not find when I was there. You can click for related news stories if there is a URL for them. http://www.globalincidentmap.com/

4) I decided to update myself on the red rain phenomena that occurred a few years back in Kerala India off the Malabar Coast. I was curious if they had made any progress proving, or disproving whether or not it constituted an alien life form. I was totally amazed when they had the first incident back in 2001. The subject sort of dropped off my radar, until a few days back I had heard there was another happening recently. Checking into it seems there has been some new research, but not much progress. For those who have no clue what I am talking about there was a red colored rain that contained living cells, about the size of human blood cells, but they were very different form anything found on earth. For starter’s no DNA, they reproduce at temperatures exceeding 500 degrees, and pressures exceeding 300 lbs per inch. And, as yet still no evidence of DNA, the linked article was last up dated November 5, http://www.earthfiles.com/

Friday, November 09, 2007

CellWriter; Handwriting recognition for Linux

I found this via an article at Linux.com.

I have not yet used this, but I thought it worth trying. I will be building it in the next few days and giving it a whirl.

Previously, I had simply run my own printing, which is my normal handwriting, through OCR. I could get away with that because I had such good printing. But as I age and the effects of old injuries to my hands become more pronounce, along with a substantial tremor, normal OCR cannot read my output. CellWriter may be the answer to my prayers.

Jack

Cross-site scripting hole in Firefox

This one is hardly unexpected. A good, solid workaround is given and I'm sure there will be patches to FireFox, related browsers and the JRE, too.

Jack

Only two security updates on Microsoft's next Patch Tuesday

Only two updates, eh? I cannot help thinking that MS will sneak in one or two more at the last minute, but if they don't this won't be the first time I have been wrong about this.

Jack

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Stupid Filter" Software Finally a Reality?

I can think of several forums I visit that could use this and a few of them are in desperate need.

Jack

Brace yourself for Adobe's Photoshop overhaul

This is an idea making the rounds. The folks who write The GIMP are also doing it.

These super-capable graphics programs have simply gotten too complex for the "standard" interface to serve a lot of users well. But, as the article makes clear, removing features is almost never acceptable. So, the folks at Adobe are trying to find a way to allow you to customize the interface in such a way that you won't have to sort through a bunch of options and features you don't use to get to the ones you need. Yet they don't want you to lose features, so they'll all be there, somewhere, waiting on you to need them.

Interesting concepts to think about.

Jack

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Open source, Lego-like computer modules run Linux

This one appealed to the "do it yourselfer" in me. I think you will like it, as well.

Now you can computerize your reclining chair, if you wish.

Jack

Multiple Quicktime security vulnerabilities show up

Get the fixes from the Apple link in the article or from your favorite download site.

Jack

Monday, November 05, 2007

ASUS Eee PC: Exclusive Inside Look!

They're not all that exclusive. I got in.

Tweaktown has a nice article where they strip Asus' "EeePC" down and check all the inside bits. Along with that, they'll tell you more about this new mini-notebook with the mini-price.

Jack

Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh causes Mac vulnerability

Well, foot in mouth strikes again, however inadvertantly.

Yesterday I wondered aloud if it was not time for Mac owners who have clueless users which might compromise the system via less than safe conduct to get anti-virus or anit-malware software installed. So far; I am not aware of any threats to the Mac that can happen without user interaction and I am quite sure I have not missed any. But threats requiring user interaction are beginning to pop up, hence my wondering about AV applications for the Mac.

Now, I find out that Norton's AV for the Mac is a problem causer, not a problem solver. Not that I was going to recommend it, anyway, but it surely would be on most people's list of brands to shop.

So much for my being ahead of the curve, eh?

Jack

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-04-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-04-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) I was talking to Riley a while back he said he was very interested in some of the online radio links I had been putting up, and was looking forward to more. I thought this week I would dip into that folder on my desktop, the one I just call “radio”. I lost some of the older links I had when I last replaced my computer; however I think I have enough to keep even the unemployed busy for a while. The first one is a big favorite of mine, as an old Art bell fan, and one who likes to try to understand science, and physics, especially the new areas involving quantum physics, string theory, nano-technology, you know those on the edge subjects. Regarding these areas, one of my favorite guests from Art’s show was Michio Kaku. If you liked him as I did, this site is for you. He has a one hour radio show called “Explorations in Science” this site archives the last one hundred shows, along with some other interesting tid bits. So, if you are into science, physics, technology, their trends and politics, this is for you. http://www.kpfa.org

2) Next up, let us step a little closer to the edge. This site has some very good paranormal shows and guests, there is a lot here on every subject you can think of from Angels, to Zero Point, not your average mainstream radio that is for sure. http://www.bbsradio.com/

3) Now we have our toes sticking off the edge looking into the abyss, the next site has radio, assorted audio, video, and some links that might challenge your mind set to the limits. It is as I said, the links this week should keep anyone interested in these subjects occupied for quite a while, and this is another very extensive site. http://www.thothweb.com

4) This link is another paranormal radio site, mostly interviews with book authors, speakers, and producers of movies, and paranormal media. It is not as extensive as the previous sites, but still a little more to the mix. http://www.blogtalkradio.com

5) I have to add one more radio site here while it is not in the paranormal or scientific venue. It is still an old favorite. Lots of extreme political content, fair warning if you are a fan of those right wing talk shows, and you has high blood pressure, you may need to take something in advance to help keep your calm, or avoid it altogether. The content extremely varied both politically, and in the music offered. This is about as far from mainstream radio as it gets but if you like to hear more than one side of an issue, and believe in maintaining an open mind, there is some very good information here. http://www.kpfk.org

6) I have to toss in a Gregg Zone item before I go, this is a story about NASA, cities on the Moon, and microbes on Mars. The story dated today 10-31-07, is about the firing of the manager of the Data and Photo Control Department at NASA’S Lunar Receiving Laboratory during the manned Apollo Lunar Program. Now he is spilling the beans, this is a must read for anyone interested in UFO’S, aliens, life on other planets, or any of those related subjects. http://english.pravda.ru/

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Leopard looks great. But what if you can't see?

Progress is being made. However, it seems the state of accessibility for those needing readers or visual aids could be much enhanced if one of the major OS companies simply bought one of the big providers of accessibility software and rolled the products into the OS.

We will ask Riley about it Sunday.

Jack

Photos: The history of the digital camera

CNet's Crave blog has a pictorial early history of digital cameras. It's entertaining to me and I'm quite certain you will find it so, as well.

Jack

Friday, November 02, 2007

» Mac Attack: Porn video lures dropping DNS-changer Trojan | Ryan Naraine’s Zero Day | ZDNet.com

"Organized identity thieves are using porn video lures to deliver malware to Mac OS X users, confirming fears among security researchers that it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s fast-growing platform becomes a big malware target."

For those of you with a Mac that thought you were safe to surf porn using a Mac, read this!

AlaskaJoe

Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.9 Now Available

At the time of this posting (late night) only one mirror had been synched. I'm sure all the others will be fully updated by the time we're all awake and attempting to function.

Jack

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Revolutionizing the command line with Hotwire

I raved a bit about Microsoft's Power Shell on the show, a while back, and it seems Hotwire is inspired by that.

The command line is handy. Everyone knows that. And it is also supremely powerful. Miscrosoft's Power Shell extends that and Hotwire does the same.

This is not the end of the story, by any means. This is just the first tentative steps in really revolutionizing the command line.

Jack

OpenSolaris Project Indiana

Phoronix has an article on the 'developer's preview' of the next Open Solaris release. I think it's pretty cool, though I am not currently attracted strongly enough to put it on a machine.

I thought you might like to read about it and see some screenshots.

Jack

A FREE Software Rant

I came across a thought provoking article at Linux.com, very early this morning. It is my intention to share those provoked thoughts with you.

Before we go to much further, here is the link that got me to thinking. (My wife says you should blame this rant on them. :))

You all know I'm a Linux user. I probably talk too much about it on the show. If you have listened closely, you also know that I do absolutely all my computing on Linux. I don't have a dual-boot system where I can sneak some task out on Windows and there is no MS based box in the corner, waiting to bail me out of some tough situation. I do absolutely everything on Linux, because I can.

Now, I'm not much of a multimedia on the computer person. I have Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash installed, though I can not remember the last time I actually sat through a Flash presentation. And on occasion I play a music CD while I am working. But that's it. I don't do the video on PC bit at all. I will start soon, as my wife and I are going to publish a few how-to videos of Native American craft techniques. We will do so in a free and open format that anyone can play, regardless of their computing platform. Plans continue, but that is all I can say has been decided, for now.

I am a Free and Open Source software (FOSS) advocate. However; I am also a pragmatist. I realize that FOSS cannot yet serve every need. In fact, because of proprietary software's ubiquity, it may never do so. One area where this is glaringly evident is multimedia. Codecs (short for "COmpressor, DECompressor, the software that actually handles the multimedia information stream) for many formats are proprietary and there are no FOSS equivalents or substitutes because these regimes are aggressively protected by their owners.)

Or, there ARE FOSS equivalents out there, but downloading and using them may violate local laws, such as The US' "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (DMCA). There may be other laws that apply, as well.

Fedora now has "Codec Buddy" to help you get these multimedia tools. Before that there was "Easy Ubuntu" and "Automatix" for other distributions. (I'm probably missing some others, here. Please excuse the omissions.) So there is a way around it, if you must.

I, personally, stick with FOSS and don't do this sort of thing on most of my Linux installations. I'm just funny that way. Don't have anything against them, despite the apparent lawlessness in using them. I just don't have a need. There is a bunch of media playback stuff in the other room.

I save the computer for computing.

Jack

Book review: The Essential Blender

I've been a Blender fan for a very long time. But it has a unique interface that is difficult to learn, a fact that has held a lot of people back.

However; Blender is VERY capable software that can generate really serious animation. It's also Free, in every sense, though it started out closely held.

Now there is a book, albeit an expensive one, that will get you up to speed in Blender. The profits from the book go to the Blender people, too, so I think it is worth the price. So much so that I just ordered one based on this review.

Jack

Rockstar may end up with big headache over unlocked AO content in Manhunt 2

Ahh. Here we go again, Folks!

It seems that when RockStar "took out" the adult content in Manhunt 2, all they really did was sever a few links in the code. Russian game hackers have now made that accessible. RockStar is in deep doo-doo over this one. Watch as it explodes in their faces like a grenade thrown in a game.

I can't think of it happening to a nicer bunch of people.

Jack

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mac OS X 10.x Malware

This is a bit unusual. I think we're going to see more of it, though.

It's a trojan that requires user interaction/permission to install, so a bit of wisdom on your part should be enough to protect you. Should you have less than savvy users, though, something like this might signal the need to run an anti-virus on your Mac. They ARE available and while the OS seems not to require one, the foibles of it's users might.

Jack

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Web marketing to people with disabilities

Here's a small article on CNet. The topic itself is huge, as you may have guessed from our discussions with Riley on the show.

I found this particularly apt at this time because I am planning a new site for my wife that will be shared with several organizations. (I can do that because their sites will be very low as far as traffic numbers are concerned.) I am fully committed to making it fully accessible to all. We will see how I do at that. It's not easy, though it is not really hard; simply adding another level of complexity and not a bad one at that.

I'm sure Riley will have some constructive criticism for me and I will solicit the same from all of you, should you feel helpful.

Jack

When antivirus products (and Internet Explorer) fail you

Here is one I think every user ought to know about. It's short and easily understood if you know much of anything about how your computer really works. A good read.

Jack

Data recovery firm sounds Mac hard drive damage alert

Whatever you do, don't take this as the swipe at Seagate and/or Apple it is intended to be.

That said; there are some good points about not moving laptops (or desktop machines, for that matter) while the hard drive might be spinning. Doing so is risky.

A cautionary tale and nothing more.

Jack

The Fastest Vista Notebook is a Mac!

You just have to love this, though I doubt it gives anyone at Dell, MS, HP or anywhere else heartburn.

Jack

Leopard with chinks in its armour

Heise has discovered some flaws in the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard firewall that should give users pause. Undoubtedly, the user can tighten things up, but I have yet to find good directions for doing so.

Apple may or may not be as lackadasical regarding this as Heise depicts them, or they could be fixing this as I write. I would like to think the latter applies, but we shall have to see.

Jack

UPDATE!! Here is a point by point refutation of the Heise article cited above. This is very much worth reading.

Jack

Monday, October 29, 2007

Installing Ubuntu in a VM

We will be playing with Ubuntu 7.10 in a VM Monday night 10/29/07 at 8PM Eastern 4PM Alaska (That's 5PM Pacific)

We will be using Skype if you would like to join us give me a call or email me your contact info if I need to call you.

The two files you will need are: a VM Player
(it is 173MB)
and the image (about 458MB) of Ubuntu 7.10

You will need to unzip (UltimateZip) the file into a folder, (it's a .Rar format) then install the VM Player and tell it to open the image file.

FYI, The VM Player will only let you run a VMimage there are a lot you can download and play with.
Talk to you tomorrow night!
AlaskaJoe

Sunday, October 28, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-28-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-28-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.




If you would like to download Gregg's Links from the Gregg zone here it is for download.
We are working on the bandwidth problems please bear with us.

Asus Eee PC 701 review

CNET UK has a really good, yet brief, review of the Asustek Eee PC 701 mini-notebook. I want one, rather badly. It would serve all of my mobile needs, though when my wife and I are sitting in the front room, watching TV, talking to each other and surfing, I might want a machine with a larger display.

Still, with the 701 being very inexpensive, there is no case for a larger machine for me in any other regime.

Jack

Heatpipes: The Investigation Begins

Ever wonder what all the fuss over heat-pipes is? This article at Phoronix will tell you and tell you about a number of units in specific. It's the basics you're after, I'm sure, so you know how they work.

This article is a bit long, but not too bad. An entertaining read, it won't really feel like work, even with all that learning you will be doing.

Jack

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Russian PDF attacks surge; Microsoft takes blame

Microsoft Windows ShellExecute function turns out to be the real culprit in the PDF vulnerability problems. Fixes to Firefox, Adobe products and others close the URI attack vectors but do nothing to address the underlying vulnerability or vulnerabilities.

While MS says (accurately) in the advisory that the attacks are "fairly limited", they are growing in number and intensity. This short article on Computer World's site explains some and the MS advisory tells the rest.

Jack

Windows Server 2008 RC0

Tom's Hardware has an extensive (19 pages surely qualifies as that) review of the first release candidate of Windows Server 2008.

If you have any interest in such things (and I do) this is probably the best place to start checking it out.

Microsoft is now gaining server market share faster than anyone else, Linux included! A careful reading of this will tell you enough that you can figure out why.

Jack

How to remove Windows Desktop Search

Okay. Here's instructions on how to clean up your machine if Automatic Updates has put Windows Desktop Search on your machine. I've done it once, via Add/Remove Programs. Apparently, I was lucky. Should you need a bit more to remove it, here's what you need.

Jack

Friday, October 26, 2007

When PDF's Attack... Again!

Adobe is ahead of this game. So are most of the Anti-Virus folks. But if your reader is not up to date, or your AV definitions, you can be had. Seeing as so many folks are bad about updating, this one is likely to get some real traction, if it hasn't already.

Jack

Routing Economics Threaten the Internet

Looks like it is time to change how we route information over the Internet. While there are some scary thoughts in this article, it is not as alarmist as the title promises. It's more a statement of facts with a workable solution given. I'm sure more solutions will materialize, too.

Jack

RealNetworks closes several security holes

Looks like the folks at Real have been busy again. This is important if you have any version of Real Player installed.

Jack

This Bud's for You?

This is a scam warning. I just thought it unusual enough that it might be of interest to you. A very short read and a laugh.

Jack

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) Well, it is that time of year, when we start to think about those things that go bump in the night. Yes, Halloween is moments away, also a big time of year for Joe and Sue, and so a moment to say happy birthday Joe…happy birthday Sue…and happy anniversary to Joe and Sue. In the interest of the Halloween spirit, I thought I would post a few sites concerned with that venue. To start off I remember younger days trying to carve pumpkins usually with limited success, lucky for me they were supposed to look ghoulish, and ugly. Unfortunately not amateurish, luckily everyone would think the younger kid carved it. I used to marvel at those that were almost like works of art. This first site was the best I found on how to carve a pumpkin; they have free downloadable patterns, lots of them. I thought the pumpkin ladys link was most useful, not so much for the patterns, but the tips at the end. I will not be carving this year, but only because of the timing, and the fact I do not do Halloween any more. I would very much like to attempt one or two of the more complex ones, just for the heck of it, anyway here is the link check it out. http://www.bellaonline.com

2) Do you like word games? I know that I do; here is one that is related to Halloween, it is a hangman variation with a skeleton, a sarcastic one at that. The game is fun, and not all that easy, I managed to reach 475, of course, I only played twenty or thirty times. Using the old e,a,r,s,t,l,n,i, etcetera concept. A hint the n seems to come up more than usual. So, try it and see what you can do, there is also a link to add to a web site if you want. http://www.dedge.com

3) You have been invited to a party that starts in an hour or two, and you are stuck without a costume, what are you going to do? Here is a site with some ideas for a last minute ideas that might pull you out. I did not say necessarily good ideas, but if you are desperate, it is a start. There are also many other ideas here if you have more time.http://costumeideazone.com/

4) Next up ghost stories, I thought I would put up a link for some ghost stories online. This is from a site mentioned by Jack a while ago “Project Gutenberg” they do audio, and e-text books on line. Currently over 20,000 free downloads online books, and over 100,000 if you include partners, affiliates, and resources, you can also volunteer to do proof reading, or of course donate funds. The link offered is to Charles Dickens, “Three Ghost Stories” in audio format. If you are interested in more, just click on the main page link. http://www.gutenberg.org.

5) To finish out the week a link to the Washington Post for an article about the origin of the Halloween holiday, the oddest holiday celebrated in the U.S. There is not any connection to anything with this holiday, it is not religious, not patriotic, has nothing to do with the seasons, yet it is one of the widest celebrations of all, crosses all segments of our society. Reading the article, I find there is as much mystery in its origins as there is in the way we celebrate it. Check it out a very in-depth and interesting article, you will be quite well prepared to discuss the subject with anyone, and sound like a true scholar on the subject. http://www.washingtonpost.com

6) This is a late addition thanks to Jack, an article on the tech side of the ghost busting business. A line of work requiring some creativity to develop the tools of the trade cannot just go to Fry’s and get them off the shelf. http://www.cio.com If this subject fires up your “I want to try it juices”, you may want to start easy and cheap using stuff you have on hand. I would suggest trying some E.V.P.’s that is an acronym for electronic voice phenomena. Here is a site with some interesting links to do everything from record your own, listen to others, or read about the subject. http://www.ghostvillage.com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Microsoft's OneCare silently changes Automatic Updates

Last Patch Tuesday, or should I say the Wednesday morning after, I woke up to find my computer had rebooted itself over night. Knowing the date I opened Microsoft update and found that updates had been installed without my intervention. Now I know that I just hadn't accidentally changed the setting. I always leave my setting at "download, but ask me to install". I had used One Care Live. I just uninstalled it.

There is a name for programs that silently do things behind your back and against your expressed will. They are called Malware.

And there is the basic issue of ownership. I guess if you have Windows on you computer, you have to abide by MS's license and therefore they own your computer.

And yes, danged straight I'm angry.

Microsoft Update Strikes Again!

Now it seems MS is pushing their desktop search as an automatic update!

While some may really like the search, it is not my idea of a good time. Unless you have a really fast machine, it will bog your computing experience down as surely as dragging an anchor. It can be disabled, as it runs as a service, but we should not have to deal with this.

Jack

Password-cracking chip causes security concerns

The processors on high-end graphics cards are very good at the type of operations used to crack passwords, among other things. So it is really no surprise they got put to that use. Still, this is just one more threat to worry about, I guess. Pass the Rolaids, please.

Jack

Storm worm strikes back at security pros

This thing just gets scarier and scarier.

Jack

Sun's ZFS is close to perfect, but widely misunderstood

You all have heard me wax enthusiastically about Sun's ZFS (Zetabyte File System) a couple times on the show. It's a tremendous improvement on any existing file system and probably will be the model for all those to follow, at least in part, for quite a while, unless Microsoft's WinFS actually materializes and fulfills all it's promises. In that case; ZFS goes onto large machines and WinFS onto Windows desktops and servers.

Incidentally, Sun is having to defend it's open sourcing of ZFS in court, which may prove interesting.

Here is a one page article that will explain a good deal about ZFS without getting very technical on Tom Yager's blog at InfoWorld. It is worth a read by everyone. For the technically inclined, it will whet your appetite and the rest of us will learn just what all the talk is about.

Jack

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WARNING: device driver updates causing Vista to deactivate

If Microsoft were a human Vista's activation would be the piece of toilet paper hanging out of its pants as it left the washroom. What don't companies get about punishing their paying customers? Deactivating a legitimately purchased and installed copy of Vista on as little as a driver update seems unconscionable to me.

Nasty PDF exploit runs wild

This one is bad. Really. Adobe's Acrobat Reader software is one application no one thinks to update. Even when notified, no one updates it.

What you are reading at The Register, courtesy of the link above, is just the first whisper of what is bound to be a flood of coverage.

Jack

Would-be identity thief finds himself stumped without printer drivers

I just love stupid criminal stories.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Panda Anti-Rootkit

I've now used this tool twice. I like it. I doubt there is much difference in efficacy between this and RootKit Revealer, but one cannot have too many tools like this at hand and this one seems worthy of inclusion to your working software collection.

Jack

AMD DTX Small Form Factor System Sneak Peek

As I said on the show a couple months ago; I'm stoked over this effort to bring standardization to small form factor (SFF) PCs. It's completely open and free to anyone to implement. It's also backward compatible, which will ease the minds of a lot of component makers.

HotHardware.com has an excellent short and concise look at the new form factor. I'm sure that when you finish reading it, you will be able to imagine one or more of these machines fitting right into your home or office and your life. I do.

Jack

WARNING: device driver updates causing Vista to deactivate

I can testify this is true. Driver updates for Creative X-Fi and Diamond ATI Radeon cards have caused it among my people in the last couple days. Calling in for new activation rectified the problem, but the tech I spoke to about the Creative X-Fi issue was openly skeptical, though he did grant the activation.

Jack

Hellgate: London Includes Adware

Plus, the End User License Agreement (EULA) authorized the company (Massive, Incorporated) to collect data on you and use that to serve contextual ads.

The bit about ads in a game demo is one thing. But in a game someone has already shelled out big bucks for, it's a disgrace. Greed run rampant. There is no other way to say it. And to add to the injury, the reporting, etc. seems to amount to really big back-door to one's computer.

When are the companies going to realize that it is MY computer, not theirs? And that it is MY personal information and they have no right to it?

Jack

Monday, October 22, 2007

Workaround available for vulnerability in versions 8.1 and earlier of Adobe Reader and Acrobat

This has been floating around for a while, but I have to admit to having been only dimly aware of that. Anyway, it is a serious flaw, but there is a workaround, which is at the link above.

Of course; the best workaround would be to use a smaller, less bloated reader, like the Foxit product. But that's another story all together.

Jack

Core of "Windows 7" taking shape: meet the "MinWin" kernel

We spoke a little bit about this on the show, yesterday. It's fascinating to me.

This article at Ars Technica is good, explaining a lot. Plus, it has a link to a one hour video of the presentation Eric Traut gave on the subject. Should you not want to do such a long video, there is also a link to a shorter "digest" version.

Jack

Sunday, October 21, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-21-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-21-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

FakeChecks.org

Here is a good, well done security reference. Not for those of us who more or less keep up on this sort of thing, but for those who are potential victims. It's worth it.

And as an added bonus; I found this site from Roger's Information Security Blog, which I consider a really good place to get early info on security warnings. Most of Roger's posts are short pointers to another site, but he also has some good things to say when he describes them. This is one to put on your feed reader list and check whenever he posts.

Jack

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) This is for anyone who like was an Art Bell fan, due to the subject matter, but has been disillusioned with the way the show has evolved. Personally, I can no longer listen to the show at all, to many commercials, and the quality is just not there anymore. I have started to look around the net at some of the alternatives; this site is one I found that I like quite a lot. The sites name is the “Black Vault”, I especially like the radio pod cast section it is very good, and very well done. This site was started by, John Greenewald when he was fifteen years old and has been going for over ten years. I will post more of these as I run across them. http://www.theblackvault.com

2) I was trying to update myself on what has been going on with the Princeton Eggs. The place I am trying to send you to is a newsletter link I found doing my update inquiry. The newsletters titled “FUTUREdition”, “Future Facts – from Think Links – The Future in the News….Today”, this newsletter from The Arlington Institute. A newsletter affiliated with the Princeton Global Consciousness project. If you are trying to stay ahead of the crowd with what is latest in science news, you should add this to your arsenal. You will need to follow a path to get there, because the direct link would not work. Start at the home page link provided, http://noosphere.princeton.edu/ , then go to the bottom of the page, select links, in the text on that page there is a link that says newsletters. When you click on that link it takes you to a page offering two newsletters, click on FUTUREdition. That will take you to a page that says the page does not exist, you need to delete everything except the first word futuredition in the link, then hit the search box. It is a little extra work, but a nice site.

3) Joe and I had the U.F.O. subject visit us last week, sorry I can’t go into that at all here, let us just say Roswell, high ranking military contacts, secrecy, and leave it at that. Anyway I went back to find the disclosure project video, thought I would put up that link here for those who have not seen it. This is a copy of the description from the link…..A large number of ex high ranking officials including air traffic controllers, ex secret op. officers, commercial pilots, numerous military defense specialists with top secret clearance, people who had access to very sensitive documents lieutenants, ex commanders in the u.s air force,
astronauts, etc...
All going before the national press club to discuss what their experiences have been regarding U.F.O’s and all are willing to go before congress to testify under oath.. Never before has such a group come forward.. http://www.youtube.com

4) This is just plain weird, it is a converter, like metric to standard. Except there is nothing standard about it, for example how many chickens = Tom Cruse ans. 45.3597024435 / or Tom also is equal to 3984 + U.S. quarters, but he is smaller than the testicle of a Wright Whale. Strange as it is, here it is http://www.weirdconverter.com