Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Adobe Launches Ad-Supported Media Player

In what has to be considered one of the most useless expenditures of corporate resources in recent memory, Adobe has launched a media player supported by advertising; a feature which just about guarantees it's not being adopted widely.

The link above will take you to The Inquirer's announcement. Here is Adobe's official page for it.

Ars Technica's Review is here.


EMC buys Iomega | Between the Lines |

Unfortunately, I don't believe this is news to many people, just an expected occurrence.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

HP Admits to Selling Infected Flash-Floppy Drives

I post this not to embarass HP, but to illustrate that we are repeating history.

In the very old DOS days, the way to stay safe from events such as this was to format everything you got before you used it. Pre-formatted floppies encouraged poor practice in this regard, but those of us with a paranoid bent did it and everyone should have. Now, with flash drives, the modern floppy, we have the same problem. And the solution is the same.

If it is new, format it. If it comes with data or executables on it, scan it first, before doing anything else. Don't even open it and look at the contents before initiating the scan!


ISPs Hog Rights in Fine Print

It's just like software licenses. You sign away your rights and pledge your soul along with giving them your credit card details.

Periodically these things come under public scrutiny and occasionally they actually get made better for the consumer. Don't count on that happening this round in the cycle. Still, it's nice to see some public mention and the resulting chance the public awareness has been raised.


Apple Adds Anti-Hacker Features to QuickTime

You've all heard me rant about how media players are going to continue being one of the preferred attack vectors for the bad guys who want to compromise systems. Apparently Apple is tired of that truth and decided to do everything they can to stop it happening via QuickTime.

That's only to the good. How well Apple will succeed is open to question, as it appears [to me] that applications like media players are simply going to be vulnerable. Giving their best to these changes can only help users stay secure and, if they are really good, they might achieve a long period of "peace" where no new vulnerabilities are discovered for a while.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 04-06-08

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 04-06-08. 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.

Spirit Of Knoxville: Autonomous Trans-Atlantic Balloon Project

University of Tennessee students have built 5 balloons that they release into the jet stream, and track via radio and gps. The goal? To get to Europe. They have released 4 balloons so far, and the launch is tonight! April 06, 2007 (00:00 GMT/20:00EDT) is the scheduled lift-off. They need help tracking it, and have links and software to send your results back (almost like an earth bound seti). Hmmm, They have on the website, they say 8:00pm EST, aren't we on EDT? Oh well... check the Launch page to findout. The last flight lasted 40 hours and ended up in Ireland. They also have live updates, once it has launched.

Spirit Of Knoxville: Autonomous Trans-Atlantic Balloon Project
update: The Latest News:
* Recovery plans underway. Volunteers heading to area. 42 minutes ago
* Balloon has landed in southwestern Virginia. The balloon plastic seems to have failed during the initial climb. more details may be posted about 3 hours ago
* Landing will occur within the next few hours in the US. The balloon envelope has failed, no reason has been hypothesis about 14 hours ago
[h/t GeekDad blog @ wired]

P.S. Because I have ADD, I'm unable to limit this to one topic. :P If you just read this through RSS, you might want to click through to the site, to check out the links I share in my google reader, have our posts read to you and search amazon, plus any other things I'm experimenting with (mwahahaha). Please let me know if you have suggestions or comments here or by email missm.oncomputers at . As always, thanks for reading and contributing SO much to our weblog!

Why modular Windows will suck for Microsoft and suck for you

Here is Peter Bright's ideas on what might be wrong with the model for the next Windows version, or at least what we know of it now. While I have not formed my thoughts on all this as yet (there being very little hard information on the subject out and about) I tend to agree with Bright's reasoning.

Even so; it's a bit early to get all worked up over this. So take it with a grain of salt and think about it as time unfolds the whole story.


Links from the Gregg zone

1) Well its geek meet in Las Vegas, links for the week are all about Vegas, I was ask about cheap things to do in town. The best site I found about having fun in Las Vegas while holding a tight grip on your wallet is this one. There is a lot of info here, and it seems to be legit. They seem to call it as they see it for good or bad, reading through it I agree with almost everything I saw. I am considering buying the American Casino Guide coupon book, with the site discount only $11.50. What interests me is table match play, the book has $80.00 meaning at say roulette I bet red for almost even odds, but win $160.00 for $80.00 risk. That I like, however you should look close at the list of offerings to be sure you will be at those locations.

2) This is a link to the free shuttles available between different properties, even if you are using a cab you can save a bunch by limiting the distances traveling to off strip properties should you decide to go to them.

3) Another option is the city bus service they are usually on schedule unless there is an accident, or breakdown. Those are rare this time of year, more frequent in summer. You can get a 24hr pass for the bus. They cost $2.50 on any line other than the strip, meaning any cross street going away from the strip. The 24hr pass for the strip bus cost $5.00; if you want to use the off strip pass on the strip route they charge an extra fifty cents each time. This is the City bus service link use the drop down menu on the left side hit Citizens Area Transit if you know the address just put them in the trip planer. The complete service schedule book, with maps bought on any bus for 25 cents. If you are, up late and want a nice way to see the strip and all the lights, take the bus to the terminal at either end. The buses run every ten min., so there are many busses you can get the second floor, front row seats nothing but window, ride to the other end with a terrific view, or get off any time.

Well it seems I should offer some advice about gambling, I am writing this from the review of my overall experience, not from an educated academic study based in the areas of math, statistical analysis, or anything like that. I have read numerous books on the various games, played many systems with various degrees of success and failure. I have developed opinions on playing most games. However, the most important thing to remember, casino gambling is a form of entertainment, not a way to make money, change or improve your life, play for entertainment only. If you break even you have won, it is like going to the movie, having a good time and having them refund your money as you leave. The most important thing is money management, set your parameters. Know at what point you will quit in advance, if I lose X amount of dollars I quit, but just as important if I win X amount of dollars I will quit. Personally, I play what I think of as plateaus usually based on either tens, or twenties. In other words say I start with twenty dollars and I get to thirty-five on a particular payoff, I will quit if I drop to thirty, however if continued play gets me to fifty-seven dollars I will then quit if I drop down to fifty. There is always a place to quit, go do something else, however there is no limit on the top end, only the bottom, once I win I am guaranteed to come home ahead, the only question is how much.

Black Jack:

I have a preferred method of playing this game that originated from a system on roulette I read about in a Gambling Times Magazine article. It requires very little skill, only varying the amount you bet on each hand. As far as game decisions are concerned, you just follow the rules of basic logic. Here is a link to print out a chart of what to do with the cards dealt to you. This chart is for a four-deck shoe, the amount of decks will not matter for this play, the chart is just to provide guidance, and stop you from doing something dumb. I will talk in units of play be they dollars, five dollar chips, or whatever.

Start with twenty units, follow strategy chart, first bet two units, if you lose at any time the next bet is two units. In essence, what you have is ten starting seed bets of two units each. If you win the first bet, you will have four units your two and the two you won. Next bet is three units, set aside the one left over in a separate stack or put them in your pocket, these units are not replayed, considered profit/reserve. If you win the second bet, you will now have six units, and your next wager is five units. One goes into your profit/reserve; your risk on this series is now zero. If you win three in a row, you will be ahead ten units. Your next bet is two units taken from the ten, you just won; repeat this pattern until you lose the seed bet. Then start over with a new seed, when you have lost the last seed bet, leave the table.

A variation I like to play with this is to find a table with open seats next to me, and if I complete a series, play one more hand on two spots five units each. If I win both of those, I am up twenty units, if I win one lose one I am still up ten, lose both break even. There are some situations requiring added units involving splits, and double downs. An extreme example you are dealt a pair of eights, split, draw another eight, and a three, split the other eight, double down on the three, draw another three, and a two, double down on both of those, you have up to 25 units on this hand. This is very unusual but, remember as a rule these situations increase your advantage, which is why the math says to bet more.


I play them, but not often. However, I can offer some insight on them. I worked for a while for a secure document destruction company here in Las Vegas, one of the jobs we did was to destroy randomizing chips from the machines, the ones in the slot machine that set the odds. When the casino wants to change the payout rate on a particular slot machine, they just change the chip. They printed the payback rates on the chip; they ranged from 98% to 63% on the ones I saw. Based on that knowledge, my opinion is that you are better off to only play a particular machine for say three to ten pulls and change machines. What are the chances you picked the best payback machine on that row? At least this way you get the average pay back for that row. Another thing I think is important is the pay table, say for example 2,500 for1 coin, 5,000, 2 for coins, 20,000 for 3 coins, the overall average percentage of return for that machine includes the large bonus for 3 coins. When playing these machines, you should play the max. If you are playing one or two coins, your chances of winning are less. If I wanted to play one coin, I would want something like 2,000 – 4,000 – 10,000, or maybe just 2 coins with out a bonus. The other thing here is the larger the big payout the more play required between payouts. If you are just killing time and not interested in a big payoff, you might prefer smaller pays, but more of them, stay away from the big multipliers, and the large jackpots. Also, beware of the Max. Play button! If you are playing a penny machine, the max button can be 500 units or more, at penny play that is five dollars; at a five-cent rate, your twenty is gone on the first spin.


The worst odds in the casino, but I play this also sometimes. Better to play the machines for small amounts. I will play five dollars on nickel Keno, I play the way ticket games. I occasionally will throw a twenty at quarter keno machine; play a seven or six spot to kill time, but only if I am up quite a bit, and feel lucky. If you want to play live Keno, I would suggest the way tickets for smaller wagers, as low as 40 cents a way most places.


Baccarat can be a very good game to play, and it is one of the easiest to play. There are only two bets, player and house. I play the same as I play Black Jack, with the wagering format. I usually play whatever won the last hand, looking for three player wins, or three banks, wins in a row. The other option just play bank. Another way to play is to look for a successful player, watch his chip stack off and on while wandering around. Some players are very adept at this game, find one you like just sit down and do what he does.


I think I would like this game to much, so I avoid it. Sorry.

Pia Gow:

Pia Gow is the best table game to play if you just want to play a long time for your money, if you are not interested in winning a bunch, or worried about losing this is a great game.You break even on most hands, win a few and lose a few, but at a five-dollar table, you can play for a long time without losing much. The game is much easier than it looks, watch a few hands, sit down you can ask the dealer, or someone at the table how to set your hand. They are usually very nice to new players, and they expect questions, all you need to play is a basic understanding of the ranking of poker hands.

Video Poker:

Video poker is my personal favorite, but unless you have devoted some time to study these games, I would caution against playing them a lot. They are a game of skill and as such to get close to the expected rate of return will require an investment of time, patience, and study. There are many different teaching aides available. If interested take a trip to the gamblers bookstore (11th and Charleston), a great bookstore with gambling books and systems. You can buy programs for your computer that will train you to play the various games correctly; as you play, they tell you when you make a mistake, how much that error will cost you over time, and the correct play. If you play perfectly, and play machines with the correct pay table, your overall return will be over 100%. That would be after say 500,000 hands, not one or two hours. Be sure to ask for advice on which to buy, I would try and favor a program that will allow you to change the pay table to match the machines where you play. They are not standard, that is how the percentage is calculated.


Here I can offer two plays that may be of value to this particular group, providing you have a basic understanding of the game. Look for a short priced favorite in the race, 8-5 or less the horse must be bet down from the morning line odds. If you find one look for another horse in the same race bet down against it with a starting morning line of between 4-1, and 15-1, must be about half the morning line or less. I have made a lot of money on this play. The other play is much more risky, but can payoff big. Look for a race with eight or more horses in the field, and a favorite at 4-1 or more, toss the favorite and just pick three horses for whatever reason you come up with, like the names, colors, and/or jockeys, birthdays, whatever. Then you buy a one-dollar box for the exacta, and trifecta, this cost twelve dollars, but if you guess, right could pay thousands.


There are some plays on this game that will allow you to play for long times with limited risk, but you will lose in the end. You can play the Black Jack wagering system on red or black. If you want a more advanced play on this game, ask me, it is a little complicated, not to play, but to explain.

Other Table Games: Games like three card poker, let it ride, Texas hold-em, Spanish twenty-one, etc. they are all fun, but carry a higher risk than others, I have tired most of them, but with limited success.

I hope this might help, remember it is only advise, it is after all gambling, have fun, enjoy…Gregg