Saturday, July 14, 2007

Userful Multi-Station Software

In late 1999 and 2000, I did some work with friends on setting up Linux PCs so 4 people could use one PC simultaneously. We had some successes, though there was a real struggle to implement that many PCI video cards on each machine. (Input was via USB devices.) Even so, we had 4 users humming away on one machine in a call center and in a charitable agency office where the only tasks were text input and other secretarial tasks and some database fetches from a server with, along the companion inputs. For all I know, they're still running.

Now, a company called "Userful" has software to manage things easily and reliably. No more custom setups.

Think about this for a minute. Not all, and in fact most users probably don't actually need an entire PC. This is ever more true when the desktop computers available to us are growing in power and capacity as fast as they are. Got 3 kids? Why do they each need a computer? Build one killer machine and implement Userful's stuff and you will probably end up saving money, trouble and stop that terrible hair loss that affects us older guys.

Give it a look.


The Gregg Zone !!

1) Are you or have you been interested in Seti? Been involved with the “Seti at home project”? Maybe you were involved in the star-dust at home project helping to sort out the dust particles obtained from NASA’s Comet Wild-2 Mission? Well there is a new one that started earlier in the week on Tuesday July 10th. They are looking to the internet for volunteers to help classify a million galaxies, seems the human brain is much better at identifying patterns than computers. This is really a very cool thing you get to see pictures of galaxies for the first time. There is a short test to be sure you understand the nuances between the images you will be sorting into categories. It is a little harder than it looks, I missed eight of fifteen on the test round, need to practice some and try again. Anyway check this out even if it is not your cup of tea, you might pass it along to someone else who might like to help out.

2) This site is something I found after watching a program on T.V., the show was called “The Boy Who Sees with Sound”, I think it was on the science channel; anyway it was about human echolocation. This was something I had heard about some time ago, but it had dropped off my radar because of time, and other interests. When I saw the program on the tube it raised my curiosity to the point of a google search. You can see the 25 min. video here, and also learn more about what has to be one of the most interesting subjects I have seen in a while. Being sighted all my life makes it very difficult to imagine learning a technique involving the art of compensating sound for sight to this degree. If I had not “seen” it, I would have trouble believing it. This really makes me wonder how much of the world around me goes totally unnoticed, just because I’m not focused enough to perceive what is in front of me. Or how much do I miss due to not developing my senses to the limits of their abilities. The link is to the video page, you might like to hit the home button to see what else is there.

3) The internet can help you keep in touch with some very interesting directions our society is headed in. A case in point the other day I ran across something called cultured meat, this term refers to growing meat in the lab. Evidently you could in theory feed an entire nation from only two cells. Eliminating most of the undesirable by-products produced by the raising meat, freeing agricultural land to feed people directly, rather than using an animal to turn the suns energy into food. No methane, no anti-biotic related problems, and much less transportation of support goods to keep the herds, the list of that type of advantage is very long indeed. And then one must consider the lack of need to kill, or mistreat animals. I can see several hours of future reading on the many issues this line of research brings to mind, from technical advancements to the ethics of cloning, creation, and the relationship to the animal consciousness groups. .

4) Okay here we go full speed ahead, if you thought those sites were a little tame how about building your own replicater, yea that cool little dumb waiter kind of machine from star trek, that made what ever you ordered. I read a preliminary article about this a couple of years ago, decided to do a little search to see if I could find an update, never expected to find free online plans to build my own. This site is an open source site dedicated to how to build your own 3-D printer; this is one of those places where you can find the future today. Sometimes I wish I was a little younger, just to see where all this is going. If you decide to build one of these I sure would like an occasional update.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Java flaw poses widespread security threat

At the time of posting, details are scarce. I'm not even satisfied there is a problem. This CNet article is all I have found, so far. More details as they become available.


Cell Phone Spying Service Leaking Data? - Security Fix

drat, they aren't the same size...

Wow this is scary, especially if you have a blackberry or windows mobile "smart" phones (sorry, couldn't help myself on the quotation marks lol)
The Washington Post Security Column elaborates on the issue:

"Last week, the geek news world was abuzz with news of a spying service that lets people intercept text messages, call logs, e-mails and other information from BlackBerry and Windows Mobile-equipped smart phones. But it appears the privacy threat is even bigger: According to evidence unearthed by at least one security researcher, the company that offers the intercept service has left its database freely viewable to anyone with a Web browser. "

Go read the rest of the details...

Cell Phone Spying Service Leaking Data? - Security Fix

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Microsoft facing US$1.15bn Xbox 360 repair bill

MS has now admitted that ALL of the XBox 360 units built to date are faulty, by virtue of poor design. They are NOT going to replace them. Rather, they have extended the warranty to three years, as we said on the show last week.

The new warranty policy is not going to completely compensate (as an example) a user who has had to return their unit multiple times and been without it during those periods. I have to wonder if this increase in warranty coverage will be seen as sufficient by consumer protection agencies and lawyers. I predict there will be litigators flocking around this one and hearings in front of various consumer agencies.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mac OS X with 100 bugs: Still safer than Windows?

I think OS X is still safer than Windows. Obviously the security types are not sure. But in the absense of wide-spread attacks and compromises, I am still telling folks they will be safe for the Mac.

I send my clients and friends a little security newsletter from time to time to remind them of best practices and keep track of threats they need to know about. In it, I am still recommending the Mac OS X as safer than Windows.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Firefox and IE together brew up security trouble | Tech news blog - CNET

To update Jack's post below, apparently both Firefox AND IE have issues.

UPDATE: Blame them both.

That's the latest update from security researchers who initially laid the blame on Microsoft's Internet Explorer for the latest zero-day exploit that also can afflict those using the Firefox Web browser.

Users could face a "highly critical" risk if they have both IE and Firefox version 2.0, or later, loaded on their computer. The trouble begins when browsing a malicious site while using IE and it registers a "firefoxurl://" URI (uniform resource identifier) handler, which allows the browser to interact with specific resources on the Web. As a result, users may find their systems remotely compromised.


"Firefox is the current attack vector, but Internet Explorer is to blame for not escaping...characters when passing on the input to the command line," said Larholm, in response to a reader's comments. "I agree that Firefox could have registered its URL handler with pure DDE (dynamic data exchange, the protocol for information exchange) instead and thereby have avoided the possibility of a command-line argument injection, but IE should still be able to safely launch external applications."

Firefox and IE together brew up security trouble | Tech news blog - CNET

Some of my normal buttons are missing (dang link button won't work, or I'd post to Jack's post, yeah that's how its supposed to be done, check to see if its been posted before posting.:P) while I create this, but the link above has all the info.

Critical Firefox security flaw discovered

Ahhh, browsers! Doncha just love 'em? They keep our lives so interesting! And often in unexpected ways, too.

This flaw looks like a real gem. No doubt the Mozilla folks are hot on the heels of this one. It will no doubt be repaired soon.

The original Secunia advisory is here for those of you with a masochistic bent.


Zone Alarm free for Vista out

Don't know how long this has been out but, I just noticed it. The install was a nightmare. It hung. Windows complained about the true vector service numerous times. However, it does seem to be running OK , after a re-boot.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Vista SP1 beta 1 to launch in mid-July | All about Microsoft |

"Just when Microsoft had customers, partners and competitors all believing that it was going to delay the first service pack for Vista — not releasing a first beta of it until just before year-end — the company is set to deliver Beta 1 of Vista SP1 in mid-July"

Lets see what this Service pack does for Vista.

Microsoft readying Vista's first service pack beta for July release? - Engadget

More news about the rumored (in January, tyvm) service pack for Vista... As Engadget reports:
Interestingly enough, "various unnamed sources" have purportedly stated that Microsoft is actually prepping Vista's very first service pack beta (aw, how cute) for a "mid-July release." To be precise, word on the street is pointing towards July 16th, but the final version of Vista SP1 isn't slated to land until "sometime in November."
Ok it really validates both versions of the rumor :)
Microsoft readying Vista's first service pack beta for July release? - Engadget


Sunday, July 08, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 07-08-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 07-08-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) To start off this round I thought I would put up a site that can help you sort out some of the crazier stuff we get sent to us. I have gotten so many emails, chain letters with the most unbelievable stuff, the example am using is a recent email I got about a mule attacking a mountain lion. The best way to check these out is either at snoops here is the link to the mule story. Another good place to investigate these would be at they had five versions of the letter, snoops had two, but included an interesting history. Here’s the about link.

2) This is for the people out there who like to use herbs, this is the best herb site I have found, lots of information with out the sales pitch I play here a lot and have not seen an ad for anything. If this is an area of interest to you will be glad you checked this out.

3) Being here in Alaska and trying to understand why I have so much trouble adjusting to the 22 hours of light, yea the days are that long. Any it has been driving my circadian rhythms totally out of whack, since I got here, not sure what to expect when I get back to Las Vegas, but anyway doing a little research on the subject I ran across this site from Australia on Edgar Casey I linked an article on light and the pineal gland, melatonin, light, jet lag, and their relationships pretty interesting.

4) And to close it out for the week a little shot for the c2c group. If you are a fan I know you are familiar with this guest Dr. Turi, he was pretty accurate with his predictions. If you have not visited his site it has some interesting reading.