Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

Hackers

I’ve noticed that here lately my SSH server has had an increasing number of hackers trying to log in.  Mostly they’re from the APNIC (Asia-Pacific) region, but a fair number from other regions (include North America) as well.

Since I have no plans to travel abroad in the near future I went ahead and blocked out all IP addresses registered through any registrar except ARIN, and I also added several hosting companies that seem to to have customers that either don’t secure their servers well or they themselves launch cyber attacks.

It’s generally a good idea to make sure that any server that can be used to gain entry to your network is as secure and limited as possible.  Obviously you don’t want to go overboard and make it impossible for you to do what you need with relative ease; but that said, you don’t want to make it easy for others to do things to your computers.

Originally posted 2010-01-25 01:00:43.

Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 with GPS and Connected Services

I picked up a copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 with GPS and Connected Services; basically the package includes the same Pharos (re-branded) GPS module that Microsoft has been using along with a Pharos (re-branded) FM side-band receiver (similar technology as to what you can get on a number of all-in-one GPS units that provide real time data).

I haven’t tried all the wizzy new features for real yet, but in service areas I should be able to get real time data on traffic, construction, gas prices, weather, etc… the real question is how well S&T uses that data to auto-magically re-route.

I have a Pharos all-in-one GPS-150 receivers that’s a nice little unit, but it’s difficult to enter address information (there is not a sync to the PC option), and it doesn’t get real time data feeds. The Pharos all-in-one uses their Ostia software rather than Streets and Trips; but you can hack Tom-Tom PDA software to run quite nicely on it (the problem is getting the maps).

__________

A bit of trivia for those that don’t know the connection between the word “Pharos” and mapping / navigation. Pharos was the name of the light house at Alexandria, Egypt. And “Ostia” was the ancient port of Rome at the mouth of the Tiber river.

Originally posted 2008-07-08 00:15:45.

Vista Activation

Over the past couple weeks I’ve had to “reactivate” two copies of Vista; now I did update the video cards and the optical drive (which is likely what triggered it), but interestingly enough, these are the two oldest copies of Vista (the first two computers installed with it).

It’s not difficult…

You try the online activation, it fails.

You call the automated telephone activation system, it fails.

You request a transfer to a Microsoft activation specialist, you read them the codes, answer a couple simple questions, and they give you the activation code which you type in and then you’ve activated.

Hopefully my activation is good for another twenty months (or more)!

NOTE:  While I’m sure that changing the hardware triggered this, I suspect that Microsoft has implemented a more rigorous inspection of the computer fingerprint to defeat bulk copies of Vista by questionable computer manufactures.

Originally posted 2008-12-28 12:00:06.

U.S. spying harms cloud computing, Internet freedom: Wikipedia founder

By Nerijus Adomaitis

OSLO | Thu Nov 7, 2013 12:36pm EST

(Reuters) – The United States’ alleged large-scale surveillance of global communications networks will badly harm the U.S. cloud computing industry, the founder of Wikipedia said on Thursday.

Jimmy Wales, who launched the online encyclopaedia service 12 year ago, said the U.S. eavesdropping, revealed by leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, also poses a threat to Internet freedoms by giving an excuse to oppressive regimes to introduce more censorship.

“It’s going to have a big impact on the cloud computing industry as people are afraid to put data in the U.S., but it’s also devastating for the kind of work I do,” Wales told reporters after speaking at an IT event in Norway.

“If you are BMW, a car maker in Germany,… you probably are not that comfortable putting your data into the U.S. any more,” said the former futures trader who is still a key player at Wikipedia, one of the most popular websites in the world.

Cloud computing is an umbrella term for activities ranging from web-based email to businesssoftware that is run remotely via the Internet instead of on-site. It is being adopted by big companies and governments globally to cut costs and give flexibility to their IT departments.

Snowden’s leaks revealing the reach and methods of U.S. surveillance have prompted angry calls for explanations from France to Brazil. Germany has been particularly annoyed by revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“EMBARRASSING”

Wales said the revelations made it more difficult to convince oppressive regimes to respect basic freedoms and privacy as Wikipedia seeks to limit censorship of its content.

“They (spying revelations) give the Chinese every excuse to be as bad as they have been… It’s really embarrassing,” he said. “It’s an enormous problem, an enormous danger.”

China and countries in the Middle East have been most active in filtering Wikipedia content to restrict access to certain information, Wales said.

He said Wikipedia had no plan to introduce advertising.

“If we need to do that to survive, we will do what’s needed to survive, but we are not discussing that,” he said. “Some places have to remain free of commerce… Wikipedia is a temple for the mind,” Wales said.

Wikipedia has been financed through a non-profit foundation Wikimedia, which reported revenues of $38.4 million for the fiscal year 2011-2012, including $35.1 million in donations and contributions.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

On Reuters.com

Originally posted 2013-11-07 14:00:05.

Internet Explorer 8

Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8 quite a while ago, and I’m not sure they fully realized how many web pages it would break.

Sure, they put a compatibility mode in it to allow some older sites to run; and they have the facility to “update” IE8 to configure it for more sites with know issues, and developers can add a header or a meta tag to their web pages to force IE8 into compatibility mode, and of course a user and select compatibility mode.

A truly sad thing is that in all this time Microsoft hasn’t issued a fix to Virtual Server 2005’s web management interface (the only way you can control Virtual Server 2005); and it requires compatibility mode to work (come on guys, how tough is it to just update the web pages to include the meta tag — or maybe you could actually fix what’s broken in the page).

My personal feeling is that we didn’t need another version of Internet Explorer; and we certainly didn’t need another version of any software rushed out the door riddled with severe bugs and deficiencies.

Why software companies spend so much time and energy making things worse (work on thing that are BROKEN) is beyond me…

Your potential. Our passion.

Maybe they should consider we could all achieve our potential if we didn’t have to waste so much time finding works around for their psychoses.

Originally posted 2009-08-26 01:00:09.

So you want to be in pictures…

Or rather should I say that you want to be able to play “moving pictures” on your computer…

You computer may have come with software for playing back video, DVDs, etc — or the operating system version you installed might support some formats; but eventually you’re going to reach a point where you want to play something that you don’t have support for and you might not feel like spending a lot of money.

There are two major issues with playing back media:

  1. Your computer needs software that is able to decode the audio and the video portions of the media; and
  2. Your computer needs software that is able to “break apart” the audio from the video.

The first piece of software is call a “decoder” — or often times a codec.  And you’ll hear things like MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, etc for video and things like AC3, AAC, PCM, DTS, MP3, etc for audio.

The second piece of software is called a mux (specifically for play back a de-mux) — and those take particular containers and split them into the separate audio and video streams.  The file extension generally tell you about the “envelope” the data is contained in, or how it was muxed.  Some standards mux specifications, but even when the audio/video standard includes a way to mux the data, it might be in a richer envelope that supports alternate audio streams, alternate video streams, hyperlinks, closed captions, multiple languages, etc.

A growing open standard for containing audio and video is the Matroska format.  It’s generally designated as .mkv for audio/video files and .mka for audio files.

It’s a rich standard well supported on Windows, OS-X, and *nix platforms.

For more information visit the Matroska Offical Homepage:

You’ll not only find information on the Matroska format, but links to many free tools to help you play back that audio and video format you’re having trouble with.

Originally posted 2008-12-14 01:00:52.

Get a free PC safety scan

Microsoft is offering a free scan utility to check your PC for malware (viruses); get rid of junk on your hard drive; and improve your PC’s performance.

It’s part of the Windows Live offering, and an on-demand utility.  You can purchase continuous protection from Microsoft with Windows Live OneCare.

http://onecare.live.com/site/en-us/default.htm

Originally posted 2008-09-03 23:48:46.

Standards

There’s an old adage that goes something like…

Standards are great, we need more of them.

Well, in point of fact we probably need fewer.

It seems to me for any particular need there are always multiple conflicting standards, and as time goes on those standards diverge rather than converge.

Wouldn’t it be much better if over time standards evolved so that the guided diverging paths into one cohesive one?

Originally posted 2009-12-29 01:00:17.

Screen Protectors

First, let me start by saying that any screen protector is better than no screen protector at all on a touch screen; but let me assure you that all screen protectors are not created the same.

Most screen protector vendors will tell you that their screen protector is made from “military grade” PET — and that’s not an expensive plastic, so we’d expect all screen protectors to be made of a layer of PET; but generally better screen protectors have additional layers of materials deposited on them.

The finish of the screen protector greatly affects it’s performance.  Generally you’ll want a matte finish — there are some applications where you may want a glossy finish, but for the most part you will not.  The matte finish will help reduce glare, as well as make those annoying fingerprints less obvious.

The “feel” of the various materials will vary greatly.  I personally like “soft” finishes where I can actually feel the material give slightly.  The extremely hard finishes I find unpleasant; though that would be exactly what you wanted if you were using a stylus.

The method of application will also vary.  Most of the inexpensive screen protectors ship with two thin plastic layers on each side, and one side will have adhesive (that’s generally the one with the “red” label).  Better screen protectors generally use a “wet” application where you use a small amount of fluid provided (which is essentially water and a mild, clear soap).  By far the wet methods are much easier to install and much easier to align perfectly.  Regardless of which application method the screen protector requires it’s important to make sure you clean your touch display so that it is absolutely spotless — which is one reason why you may want to apply the screen protector immediately after opening up the box and removing the protective film on the device.

Finally, check to see if your screen protector comes with a guarantee.  That may change the long term price of what you’re paying for the screen protector (though remember, for warranty claims you’ll likely need to return the screen protector — so there is shipping involved).

What screen protector do I think is the best — Zagg.  Their invisibleSHIELDs have lifetime warranties, a great feel, extremely durable, and easy to install.

But, Zagg screen protectors are expensive… and you just may not want to spend that for a screen protector; so you have to weigh everything I’ve said against your wallet.

But remember — any screen protector is better than no screen protector… so if you can’t justify the price of a Zagg, check your favorite places and find a good price on something that will protect your investment in your phone or tablet.

Originally posted 2011-11-13 02:00:08.

Remember when…

Remember when it was just so darn easy to share files with other computers on your local area (home) network?  It was ever simple to share files between PCs and Macs.

Have you noticed that while Windows was once a very easy platform to share files with others from it’s become almost impossible to even share files between two PCs running the same version of Windows?

If Microsoft is seeking to make their operating system more secure by making it unusable I they are getting very close to realizing their objective.

I really have grown tired of the complexities of sharing folders between PCs, more and more I’m finding that just using Box or Dropbox, or Google Drive is a much more efficient way to transfer small numbers of files between two machines — even if it’s a one time transfer.  I mean, yeah, it’s kinda retarded to send files to cloud storage potentially on the other side of the country to just copy it to a machine that’s a few feet away — but let’s be serious, it’s quicker than figuring out why Windows say the same user (with the same password) on two different machines, who should have unlimited rights to a directory can’t copy a file from and certainly can’t copy a file to a machine.

Yeah, it may seem retarded, but the days of using *nix copy command between remote machines seems easier…

Microsoft needs to take a hard look at human factors, and not of all the wizzy new feature they keep adding to their operating system, but to the foundation features that people (all people) actually use day in and day out for productivity — after all, we don’t all have domains at home… and not only do we sometimes move files between machines we own, but occasionally some of us might have a friend with a laptop come over.

I guess that’s why I keep a few fairly large USB drives around, because Microsoft certainly doesn’t want to actually make computers that run their operating system usable.

Originally posted 2013-11-03 10:00:23.