Oct 232008
 

moon

There goes the neighborhood.

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first spacecraft to Moon, was successfully launched yesterday (October 22, 2008) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR. 

All systems onboard the spacecraft are functioning normally. Further orbit raising maneuvers are planned in the coming few days.

The objective for the craft if to be placed in orbit around the moon and conduct mineralogical and chemical mappings.

 Posted by at 5:53 am
Oct 232008
 

bgc3

The graphic above is the logo for Bill Gates’ new company: bgC3. Yes, that’s right, several months after departing Microsoft, BillG is heading up a new company and it’s not too forthcoming with details, though Techflash has talked to an insider to get a sneak peek. I wonder if he’s going to invest in some kind of open source idea or possibly find himself heading up another big money machine.

As you can tell from the bgC3 homepage, there’s not too much to be gleaned about this business.

 Posted by at 12:16 am
Oct 222008
 

Hoarders

I found this short video documentary on compulsive hoarders (wikipedia), people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The video is fascinating in a clinical sense, but could be scary or possibly revolting if you’re lacking in empathy for these folks because clearly there’s a psychological issue going on here.

The video is called ‘Possessed’, is about 20 minutes long and you meet 4 very different hoarders. If you enjoy watching medical mysteries or science shows, then I highly recommend watching it.

 Posted by at 12:32 am
Oct 202008
 

IronKey

A while back, I was given an Ironkey 2gb flash drive to review for GeekNews.  I’ve had plenty of time now to put it through some testing, and now I’m going to lay my experiences out on the line for you.

ironkey1a

The unit comes in a slick, stainless-steel, waterproof case that feels sturdy and with quite a heft to it compared to other flash drives I’ve used. The case is injected with an epoxy that covers the circuitry and keeps it dry and shock-resistant. Just looking at the drive itself, you can tell it’s secure, and that any tampering would cause the destruction of the drive. Having only a single seam along the back of the unit is a testament to its apparent strength and protection.

So setting up the Ironkey drive for the first time, it asked me to set up a login and password and configure the secure Web browser, taking just a few minutes. The Ironkey has an internal password generator that can create passwords for you that include normal, alphanumeric, or strong variants, depending on your desire for secure access to the unit.

Setting up your account online was the next step. After filling out the necessary information, and answering a few questions to setup the Ironkey services, I had access to an online password backup, device and software updates and use of Ironkey’s encrypted surfing service, through Firefox. Now I was ready to use the Ironkey!

ironkey1

So now I can plug in the drive in any computer with a USB 2.0 port, and a menu will appear on the bottom right hand portion of the screen, asking for your validation password. Once past that, you have several options available to you. Backup your files with encryption, a password manager, access to your account online, and changing settings. I knew from reading the documentation, that Firefox was included in the drive as a mobile app, so I decided to check that out first. And, true to word, Firefox settings were completely self contained, including cookies, passwords, and any temporary content generated via web surfing to several of my favorite haunts on the web. Plus, I had thought using the secure proxy via Ironkey’s encrypted web service would have slowed any surfing down, but I was pleased to be wrong. It was also handy to port over all my IE bookmarks, that serves as a secure backup just in case!

ironkey12d

I spent some time copying files to and from the drive, and was pretty pleased with the transfer rate of 12mb (read) 10mb (write) even though the documentation proposes rates of 30mb (read) 20mb (write).  Taking about 5 minutes to fill up the available 1.6gb of available space, this drive isn’t the fastest I’ve used, but I believe the speed vs. security far outweighs any inconvenience.

Well, I work at home, so security isn’t generally an issue. However, it is nice to be able to lock the drive via the Ironkey menu at anytime, and still leave the drive in the USB port while going off to take care of other things. It’s a nice touch, and relieves me from having to remove the drive and pocket it every time I have to leave my desk. It is a semi-pain to have to type in your passkey again when you want to continue using it, especially if you’re using a 15 digit secure passkey complete with control characters, like me (Did I mention that if you enter your password ten times wrong, the drive circuitry self destructs?). But, such is the life of keeping your data secure.

So let’s say tragedy hits, and you’ve either lost or destroyed your drive. Ironkey offers a secure online backup service that allows you to restore any backed up data onto another Ironkey drive with little difficulty, and you’re on your way back to business once again. How cool is that?

In all, a very handy and secure flash drive in my opinion. Its satin debonair finish and heft definitely give it a class that I find lacking in most similar units. Definitely this would be recommended to those with a wish to keep their data secure in a fast and easy to use package.

ironkey26h

Thanks again to Katie Mason, at Ironkey for the opportunity to review this device!

Oct 192008
 

I was introduced to Diggy Games last week and have spent a bit of time there in the last couple of days playing some interesting Flash-based free online games. It’s also got a lot of old school games you may have once loved and forgot about. One game new to me that was a little weird but fun is a version of Tower Defense, what’s different about it is that it uses Monkeys and Balloons as you can see below; it’s called Bloon Tower Defense.

Another of my favorites that allowed me to relive old times was Cloud Soldier, a side-scroller in the sky.

 Bloon Tower Defense

 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Oct 162008
 

All I can say is WOW.  Aside from the corny generic name, Audiotool by Hobnox is a crazy cool web based app for audio lovers.  This is a Frankenstein of Flash and Java that allows you to utilize a virtual recording studio to produce your own music and then publish it for the Hobnox community to check out.  Everything is controlled via your mouse, which makes producing slow, but manageable.  After playing with it for an hour, I was pleased with my results, but frustrated that I couldn’t export my track as a WAV file.  In all, a nice tool, bringing those without the cash for hardware into the producing game.  Way to go!

audiotool

Oct 142008
 

Games Space Invaders Gaming:

Microsoft Sues over Damaged Xbox Cargo [IDG News] -Microsoft is suing cargo delivery service DHL Express for allegedly losing 21,600 Xbox game consoles because of a 2007 train derailment in Texas.

Alliance to Research Games as Teaching Tools [Seattle P-I]-Microsoft and several universities have formed an alliance to investigate the use of video games as learning tools for young students.

‘Spore’ gets cute and spacey add-ons [CNET] -Your Spore creature could soon get even creepier–or cuter, depending on your preferences in primordial beings. Electronic Arts on Monday officially confirmed rumors that an expansion pack titled Spore Creepy & Cute Parts Pack will be available worldwide as soon as November 18.

Budget Gaming 101: Tips For The Broke Gamer [Consumerist] – Frugal gaming tips galore. Read the comments

Pocket ProtectorTech:

‘Unbreakable’ Encryption Technology Demoed [BBC News]-Perfect secrecy is a step closer with the launch of the world’s first computer network protected by unbreakable quantum encryption.

OpenOffice 3.0 released, for Mac [Macworld] – The OpenOffice.org Community announced Monday the release of OpenOffice.org 3.0, a free office software suite designed as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

Green Fluorescent Protein Scientists Win Nobel Prize In Chemistry [AHN] – A Japanese national and two American researchers won this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of the green fluorescent protein, or GFP as well as utilizing biological processes inside cells and behind diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Pocket PC Gadgets:

Windows Mobile Firefox ‘Just Weeks Away’ [WindowsForDevices]-Code-named “Fennec” for now, the browser will sport a finger-friendly interface with “kinetic” scrolling, an “expose” feature for tabs, and an optional geolocation feature.

Reality To Go: 3-D Virtual Reality on Mobile Devices [Science Daily]-New information architecture from researchers in Offenburg, Germany puts 3-D visualizations in the palm of your hand.

T-Mobile Preorders 1.5 Million Android G1s [CRN] – T-Mobile has already taken 1.5 million preorders of Google’s G1 Android phone, according to reports.

Internet Web News:

Google Agrees to Work with Click Forensics [PCWorld] – Google is now cooperating with Click Forensics, a click-fraud detection company that Google in the past has accused of issuing misleading data.

Going Wireless without Wi-Fi [International Herald Tribune] – A cellular phone network system is competing with WiMAX to be the next generation of wireless connection to the Web.

Ballmer’s ‘Miss’ on Yahoo Looks Good Now [Bloomberg News] -Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he was disappointed Yahoo refused a takeover offer that went as high as $47.5 billion back in May. Now he looks lucky.

Google: Yes, If Revenue Craters, We’ll Fire People [Silicon Valley Insider] – Sensationalist title, but the gist of it is true

 Posted by at 12:28 am
Oct 132008
 

Geek Love

Here’s some link love for sites that have linked to Geeknews recently.

http://geeg.info – GeeG is a new geeky site that covers Aliens to Global Warming to Photoshop.

http://blueonionsoftware.com – Mike created Blue Onion Software as a personal project. So far it’s looking pretty good, especially since one of his goals is to work on expressing himself and experimenting with technology.

http://thebox.blogli.co.il/ – I don’t speak or read Hebrew, but from browsing the site it appears to focus on pointing to sources of information on the net to learn technology, with at least some focus on coding.

http://ufoaliennews.blogspot.com/ – I think the blog url says it all. It’s a private site so you can’t peek unless you have the codeword. :-)

http://identidadgeek.com – This is like Geeknews but for my neighbors to the South in Mexico.

http://www.murphyzville.com/blog – “because there’s life outside the basement”.

http://fourthcheckraise.blogspot.com/ – I never did figure out what The Fourth Checkraise is about, but i’ve suspected Ilkka is smarter than me and has a plan to take over the world one day. If so, I hope I can be a henchman.

 Posted by at 12:11 am
Oct 122008
 

Obama UFO 

As if the upcoming new president of the US doesn’t have enough to deal with, the Paradigm Research Group is trying to pressure Washington DC into releasing evidence of UFOs. They’re doing this through an initiative called the Million Fax on Washington, it’s a campaign to pressure politicians in capitulation.

Good luck with that. Wired has the details on the story.

Other related stories include:

 Posted by at 2:57 pm
Oct 082008
 

I came across this beauty today in my meanderings on the net.  Sumo Paint is a Photoshop clone that works entirely from your web browser.  Now I’ve never been into the Photoshop scene, so I can’t pretend to know about all its complexities, but this web based version seems to have all the bells and whistles.  I uploaded an image and fooled around with a variety of the settings, turning a perfectly good image into something that resembles a plate of dog food.  BUT, I had fun doing it 😉

sumopaint

Get it while it’s hot, friends.  Who knows how long a good thing like this will remain free?

Oct 082008
 

iMovee - 1

iMovee is a hip product. It’s stylish glasses, aka, private entertainment video glasses, that project a virtual big screen television inches in front of your eyes. The best part is that it works with your iPhone, Zune, Xbox, Wii, lots of mobile phones and other gadgets.

This is great for dental patients, passengers on a plane or any other situation where you want to just get away, but can’t. The newest model – iMovee AIBO Mobile TV – has a sleek robotic feel to it and has an MSRP of US$349.95.

We’ll try to obtain one for testing.

iMovee - 2

 Posted by at 12:15 am
Oct 072008
 

Truthfully, I don’t know what the purpose of this website is, other than being a window into the soul of a twisted or severely profound person.  I spent thirty minutes there, and still don’t know what, if anything, that I was doing.

Check it out.  I would suggest turning down the volume a bit, some of the items in this website tend to get a bit noisy.  Have fun!

Oct 062008
 

digital_fingerprint

I received a tip from my new buddy Henk today who resides in the Netherlands. It’s regarding a couple of topics most of us are probably all familiar with: Kevin Mitnick & Privacy.

Mitnick was in the news again recently for an interesting detaining at the Atlanta airport – you gotta read what happened, talk about a bad day gone worse. Sheesh! 

Anyway, it can be understood that based on Mitnick’s past, he is probably anal about his privacy, with that in mind, here’s the message from Hank:

Yesterday I was visiting TWIT LIVE (leo Laporte) and 20 mins before episode #163 started, he had to call an AT&T service to setup a interview with Kevin Mitnick.

I and 2500 other twitters noticed that the AT&T call was setup by an automatic message, saying, ‘We are calling now (Number of Mitnick)’.  Laporte tried to mute it, but too late. He apologized to Mitnick and proposed him to pay the costs for a new number.

Five minutes earlier the Skype-nick of Veronica Belmont was revealed by accident, also nothing earth shaking, but it made me think about a basis for a small story. More and more tech guru’s use twitter, stickam etc.  and can be followed for hours each day.

Which jeopardizes their privacy and those they interview.

Thanks for the mail Henk. I wonder if Kevin shrugged it off, figuring give it a couple of days and if the phone isn’t ringing off the hook then it’s all just water under the bridge. Also, someone as scrutinized as he is probably isn’t as fazed by his number being revealed to thousands of listeners/fans/hackers.

I gave out my mobile number in a public forum once that is frequented by my customers; co-workers thought I was crazy but only one person took advantage of it to contact me for some free technical support while I was at home. I was amazed it wasn’t abused and learned that most geeks respect each other’s privacy and will probably not abuse it.

If I put my mobile number on the Geeknews sidebar, do you think it would get abused? Robert Scoble did it for quite a while and I don’t recall him being hassled via his phone #.

 Posted by at 8:50 pm
Oct 062008
 

Noone likes losing files from their computer, especially those favorite MP3’s we love to listen to, those hard to replace family photos, or perhaps special emails; all akin to virtual treasures we would solemnly mourn if lost suddenly. Thus enters the wonderful world of backup programs.

I have to tell you – I’m not a huge fan of backup programs. In fact, most times, the restore function on my Vista Ultimate X64 is usually turned off. However, after being approached by our friend Flavius Saracut from Neobyte Solutions, I was compelled to give Titan Backup a try. I managed to acquire the software with a quick download, and a clean install that only took a few minutes via a broadband connection.  The interface is user friendly and clearly shows the functions available to the user.

Titan Backup 2.3  

The features of Titan Backup include:

  • Wizard driven tasks
  • Backup to almost any storage device type
  • Sync Tasks
  • Free plugins to support your favorite applications
  • Version Control
  • Encryption 

Backup options include 256-bit AES encryption, the ability to run other programs before and after the backup, and username/password entry for backing up to protected network locations.  You can backup to a public folder, hard disk, flash stick, CD/DVD, or via FTP. Additional features include notification emails, folder sync, a scheduler, cmd line execution and some well written help files. 

I ran the backup wizard first. Like most backup programs, you have the option to select files, registry and profile related items. I chose a few files and some settings from my profile. What was interesting about my profile section was it allowing you to select program specific items that it had detected, like my photos associated with the Microsoft Office Picture Manager.  Next you select your backup options. Normal and differential increment options were there. You could also encrypt using AES as well. Alternatively you could use Zip compression and create a self extracting archive.  The destination choices are flexible, with options to backup to disk, network share, removable device, CD/DVD and remote FTP server. It covers all possible bases.  The final stage, for scheduling, is also just as flexible. The entire process was done in just a few moments. You can also have a shortcut placed on the desktop that allows you to initiate the task at any time.

Titan Backup 2.3a

After the backup was complete, I erased some of the files I archived, and ran the Restore feature.  I selected the “individual files” option, as I only needed a few files, and not the entire backup.  A few more clicks and I was as good as new, with the erased files replaced, like they had never been gone.

In all, my experience with Titan Backup has given me pause in whether I should continue my non-archive practice up to now.  Neobyte has created a easily used, friendly software that enables you to ensure you can keep your treasures safe, and within reach at a moments notice.  Thumbs up, I say!

Flavius tells me that for a limited time you can get 30% OFF with this discount purchase link.  Pretty snazzy deal!