Wednesday, December 31, 2003

JunkScience.com

If you're skeptical about different current popular scientific theories, check out Steven Milloy's 'Junk science' web site. Junk science is faulty scientific data and analysis used to further a special agenda.

I have not come across a great deal of stuff worth posting, but then I found this:

'I Robot' Film Trailer
The makers of the 'I Robot' domestic assistant just released a trailer on its web site, it is the film version of the Isaac Asimov book 'I, Robot' due out in theaters next year. I hope it will be better then A.I.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays and a happy new year to everyone... I personally had a great Christmas with my family, and I expect to have a great new year.

I have a few articles that I want to post about different subjects, but I am busy with a million different side projects that I am working on as well. So I decided to post some new links that I found:

- Dead Troll: Internet Help Desk
Check out the 'Internet Help Desk' video (Warning: mature content)
- The Opte Project
Working on visually mapping the Internet.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Monday, December 08, 2003

Check out! This product...

MediaReady 4000
Below is a brief list of some of the MediaReady 4000 features:
  • DVD/CD Player (Progressive Scan - 5.1 Dolby)
  • Personal Computer (Upgradeable & Media Friendly)
  • Internet Friendly
  • Full-Screen DVD quality Video on Demand over the Internet (scaling up to 720p)
  • Media Jukebox - burn & manage your music and home videos on the MediaReady internal hard drive or any PC - connected on your home network.
  • MPEG-1, 2 & 4 decoder chip built-in.
  • and more.

Cool Links
Test Your Digital IQ
There are 62 questions in this quiz, it will gauge how savvy you are with today's technology and gadgetry in comparison with other people who have already taken the test.

Michio Kaku
Dr. Michio Kaku is the co-founder of String Field Theory, and is the author of international best-selling books such as Hyperspace, Visions, and Beyond Einstein.

CPSC Launches Web Site For Recalled Items
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched a web site for listing a variety of recalled consumer product categories.

Unsolicited Commando
Unsolicited Commando is a FREE distributed software system that fights Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE), commonly known as 'spam'. Unsolicited Commando is not a defensive system like an email filter. It is unique in that it is purely offensive. It works by filling out the forms on websites that have been advertised by UCE with bogus data, data that is 'real' enough to pass a cursory inspection, but not 'real' enough to have any value to anyone.

Star Wars Fan Film Site
There are some great Star Wars spoof films here. Check it out...

Monday, November 24, 2003

Digital Entertainment Hubs/Products:
  • Digital Entertainment Hubs - Great article about Digital Entertainment Hubs. A new consumer device category to confess us more.
  • Telly MC1000 Home Entertainment Server - Possible new Tivo rival.
  • Zenith HDR230 - World's first combination HDTV receiver and HDTV digital video recorder set top box. You can record standard-definition 480i to high-definition 1080i wide-screen content (requires HD-capable TV, and rabbit ears). TiVo and other PVR manufactures are expect to release their products like this later in 2003. It will retail for about $999 dollar (US).

Microsoft vs. Virus Writers

Anytime you install software on your computer form any company or organization you run the risk of opening it up to new vulnerabilities. I am not stating anything new when I mention that Microsoft software is known for having its own share of bugs and vulnerabilities. Although, many people seem argue that Microsoft software is more buggy or more insecure then any other company's software out there, but this might not totally be true.

Consider this, Microsoft creates millions and millions of lines of new code every year. It is impossible to create all that code without having problems or making mistakes. Also, no company has the market-share that Microsoft has, and because it is the market-leader it will also become a popular target for cybercriminals.

If Apple had the market-share that Microsoft has I can almost guarantee that there would be a great deal more viruses and exploits for that Mac OS. Although, Apple has one thing over Microsoft and that is it is built a top of BSD Unix, which is a solid and secure OS.

Virus writers, hackers and crackers will always be drawn to the biggest target, it is like a moth to the largest flames. Why spend hundreds of hours to write a virus or develop an exploit, if it only going to effect a few people. If someone is going to spend the time to write a virus, they want it to effect as many people as possible.

Take for example the Sobig virus and Blaster worm, I am pretty sure that whoever wrote this malware that they're pretty happy with themselves. Think about it from their prospective, they created software to preform a task, and it work so well it is known around the world.

There's No Honor Among Thieves
To combat this ongoing threat Microsoft has put $250,000 bounties for the arrest and conviction of the cybercriminals that created the Blaster worm and Sobig virus. They have also setup a funded with $5 million dollars to finance (dubbed the Anti-Virus Reward Program) future bounties, and are trying working closely with the legal authorities.

Microsoft hopes that the bounties will encourage the friends or associates of the virus writers will turn them in for the money. Thus, forcing virus writers to become more paranoid, and prevent them from sharing their code with others for fear of being turned in.

Now, here is the real question will this new tactic work? Well, you now what they say, 'money talks'.

I think Microsoft's strategy of might lead to a few early arrests, but in the long run it might only slow virus writers down a little bit. Virus writers will also, start only sharing their exploits with close associates that they trust not to turn them in.

The Right Thing To Do
Microsoft's only real defense against these attacks is too improve their code, lock down the default configuration of their server and desktop OSs, and train the system administrators and general public how to protect themselves.

In Microsoft's defense they have already started initiatives to do all three of changes needed. But I have to be a little skeptical about how much it will help or how well they will implement it. Only time will tell.

The general public and system administrators also have to do their part protect their computers from attack and viral infection. There are four simple security rules that can help anyone protect themselves.

1. Install a virus scanner, and keep the signatures updated.
2. Install a firewall, and activate it.
3. Update your OS and applications
4. Don't open up file attachments

No One is Immune
The open-source community is not immune to the dangers of cyberintruders. An unknown person recently attempted to insert a Trojan horse program into the next version of the Linux kernel, which is stored in a publicly accessible database. Security features of the database detected the illegal change, and the database was shut down. The changes, which could have become a security flaw to the kernel, never became a part of the code.

Resources:
- Protect Your PC (for Home Users)
- 3 Ways to Help Ensure Your System Is Protected (for IT Professionals)
- Trustworthy Computing Initiative

Links of Interests
- Check out the Apple switch ads from Red vs. Blue.

Vehicles of the Week:
- Bombardier's Embrio, it like a Segway but different.
- For alternative boats, check out the OutRider.

Free Antivirus and Firewall Software
Computer Associates for a limited time is offering their Windows antivirus and firewall software for free, with a for one year. For more information, see: Note: The free software offer expires 6/30/04.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Links of Interests

PRISMIQ Networked Entertainment Gateway
The PRISMIQ is a networked entertainment gateway that allows you to play a broad array of digital media through your TV, and stereo anywhere in your home. The device will even let you surf the Internet from your couch.

The Meatrix
The Meatrix is a spoof of the Matrix, it points out the dangers, problems, issues with 'factory farming.' I am not a big fan of these liberal sites, but I like idea and the flash animation.

Building a Your Own Segway
Self-balancing scooters can be easy to build using off-the-shelf parts. Also, make sure to check out the Megway site and video.

Monday, November 10, 2003

A Weakness Reported in the WPA Security Protocol

Robert Moskowitz, a senior technical director at ICSA Labs has published paper reporting that some implementations of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), can be compromised through a dictionary or brute force attack.

For those of you who don't know what WPA, its a new standard for data encryption on Wi-Fi networks. The WPA specification uses passwords to act as the keys that encrypt the network's communications. The specification allows for two types of key management: pre-shared keys, where everyone uses the same pass phrase; and managed keys, which use a server to assign a different keys to each user.

The new attack only effects the pre-shared key management, and only if the person who implement the key uses an easy to guess password. The cryptography doesn't have known issues like WEP encryption, but like any system that uses passwords it is suitable to dictionary attacks. The way you can prevent this problem is just by choosing a long (20 characters or more) password that is not easy to guess, and doesn't contain words that are in the dictionary. For example: 'H3ll0W0rlD;Th1s1sAT3sT:Buy4Now'

What Moskowitz found is not ground breaking, but it does make a point that we have to be careful about the passwords we choose for anything, because they can be guessed with enough computing power and time.

Links of Interests

Smart Networked Dust
"Smart dust" devices are tiny wireless MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Sensors) that can detect everything from temperatures, humidity, light, vibrations, etc.

Howard Rheingold (Smart Mobs)
Howard Rheingold is online pioneer, who authored the best-selling books Virtual Reality, The Virtual Community, and Smart Mobs.

X Prize
A worldwide US$10,000,000 competition to build a reusable space craft.

Salary Survey 2003 Registration
Know how your salary compares with others across the country.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Matrix-XP
This is a cool Matrix movie spoof... Check it out...

Dynamism Inc.
Many Japanese consumer electronics are available in Japan 6-12 months (or longer) before we ever see them in the US. Well Dynamism is trying to change that, by making these products available sooner then later. Although, there are two draw backs to using this web sites; first you will pay more for these electronics; second sometimes the documentation and/or hardware and application are not available in English.



What Does It Really Cost to Print?
If own an ink jet printer, then you have seen how expensive it is to buy ink for these printers. Depending on the printer, it can be cheaper to buy a new printer then it is to buy new ink jet cartridges when you run out of ink. This is first article that I have seen, that exposes the real cost of these printers.



ADSL v2.0++
The current standard ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) is getting old, and has several limits. New standard called ADSL2 promises faster speed, a greater reach from the phone company's central office.



Antispam methods aim to merge
The Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) early this month formed a subcommittee to select one of a few competing protocols that verify the e-mail sender is who they say they are.



Dyke to open up BBC archive
Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, has announced plans to give the public full access to all the corporation's program archives. This article was published August 24, 2003, now where are the archives?



The Hidden Costs of IT Outsourcing
I will not hide the fact that I am not a big fan of outsourcing, because the lost of American I.T. jobs. Although, this is a great article about its true costs of outsourcing, this is also not first article that I have read to make this point.



Knee Defender
When flying in coach, are you tired of the people in front of you crushing you when they recline their seat. Well, Ira Goldman got tired of this and decided to do something about it, so he invented the Knee Defender. It is a small block of plastic that prevents the seat in front of you from reclining.

The device sell for $10 on the web site, and the FAA says that it doesn't violates any regulations. Although some airlines are already prohibiting them to avoid conflict or people forcing their seats back and breaking the tray table.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Kids Play
What happens when you let today's kids play old video games (such as: Donkey Kong). If you read the following articles you can read some funny comments and views that they made.

New Ways to Recycle Old Computers:
- My Other VAX is a VAXbar
- The Silicon Graphics Refrigerator Project
(or: How To Turn a $175.000 High-End SGI Challenge DM Server into a Fridge)

Thursday, October 23, 2003

X10 files for Chapter 11

Have you ever seen any of the famous X10 pop-under ads. This company known for having popularizing this technology. Well they have just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

My question to everyone is, will anyone miss them?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Sites of the Day

Site for the geek who has everything:
- Libermann Inc.: This site has very highend computer equipment and perpherials.
- ThinkGeek: This site just has lots of cool stuff...

Test Your Typing Skills for Free
- http://www.typingtest.com/

Fun Site:
Check out NaDa, it does absolutely nothing for free.
- http://www.bernardbelanger.com/computing/NaDa/

Monday, October 20, 2003

Fun Streaming Video Sites:
- I want my Flash TV (Requires a Flash media player) Worth checking out...
- Stupid Videos Very funny site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I have been waiting for the BBC to post their TV/radio archives on the web for several months, but I recently found this web site.

British Pathe Publishes Newsreel Archives

A collection of more than 12 million historic photographs from the British Pathe newsreel, was published on the Internet Monday. The British Pathe a cinema news service that pre-dated television.

The images, which date as far back to the turn of the 20th century, have been created by scanning the archive's 3,500 hours of 35mm film.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

New Product

Check out a production called MessagEase, it calls itself 'the only cross-platform text entry interface technology for the emerging mobile devices'. It is a pretty cool concept that allows you to quickly enter text into just about any mobile device (from phones to PDA).

Friday, October 10, 2003

Interesting Tidbits...

Cloaking Device Made for Spammers
Spammers are annoying enough, but now they're getting together with hackers to create techniques that essentially make certain web sites untraceable. This make the war against spam is just like the drug war, it is only possible to put a small dent in the distribution of it.

Shift key breaks CD copy locks
A Princeton University student has published instructions for disabling a new anti-copying measures being tested on CDs by BMG, and it can as simple as holding down Shift key on your computer keyboard.

Commentary: Every single copy protection scheme has been cracked, and will be cracked. Some forms of copy protection are more sophisticated then others, and can be harder to break.

I do not advocate software piracy in any form, and I encourage people to support the copyright owners by buying the product(s) that they use. Athough personally, I despise any form of copy protection technology, I would encourage people not to buy products that use this technology.

They only reason that I am publishing the link to the story above to demonstrate a point about how easy some copy protection schemes can be broken.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

USDA National Nutrient Database

Are you interest in the nutriential information of certian foods, then check out the two links below:
- USDA National Nutrient Database (Online)
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Windows

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Rayovac’s I-C3 Technology Makes 15-Minute Charger the First of its Kind

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of Rayovac's technology, but I am big fan of rechargeable batteries. Their new rechargeable battery system is suppose to fully change a battery in 15 minutes or less and do it up to thousand times. These batteries are also suppose to last longer (up to 4x) than alkaline batteries in certain devices

For more information click here.

I wonder how much more expensive the charger and batteries are?

The Ultimate Monitor Hoax

It turns out that Liebermann Inc. 92" Grand Canyon monitor is a hoax . I hate falling for this stuff, but I was not the only one. See the post from September 29th for more information.

Links-O-Rama

Computers:
- Windows Longhorn Build 4029 Gallery 2: Early screen shots of next version of desktop version of Windows.
- Silent pump for water-cooled PCs developed (Electro-osmosis): CPU are running hotter and hotter, and fans are having a hard time keeping chips cool. Enter liquid cooling, it cools the chips better and it's quiet. The biggest problem is the expense, and the case modifications that are required
- Using cellophane to convert a laptop computer screen into a three-dimensional display: The poor mans 3D display.

Fun:
- The latest works (Optical Illusions): This site features some cool optical illusions.
- Free 3-D papercraft projects: This site features some awesome paper projects.

Weird:
- Modified car, driving backwards through traffic (14Meg): This is just a weird video...

Movies:
- Matrix Revolution Trailer: This site has one of the worst navigation systems I have ever seen, but it try hard enough you will find the trailer and a bunch of other cool stuff.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King trailer: I think the title speaks for itself.

Monday, September 29, 2003

The Ultimate Monitor

Liebermann Inc. a Los Angeles based company announced their new four monitor display called the 'Grand Canyon Display'. The company claims it is the 'largest, highest image quality and highest resolution LCD displays in the world.' With monitor sizes up to 92', and maximum resolutions at 6400x1200 pixels.

Now the problem, a four-monitor, 92' display costs $17499.99.

Stupid Computer Products

Winner: USB Coffee Cup Warmer

Yes, I am not joking someone created a USB coffee cup warmer. This device originated in Japan, and now has made it into the US. Apparently, the device only works on pre-heated liquids (such as: coffee, tea, etc..), it also lacks a real heating element. It uses the heat generated by two voltage regulators to keep coffee warm.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Check this out...

Fun w/floppies: "How to make a starship enterprise out of an old floppy disk"

VeriSign's SiteFinder

On September 15th, 2003 VeriSign inserted wildcard resolvers into their top level DNS root servers (.com and .net domain names) that forces all unregistered or mistyped domain names resolve to VeriSign's SiteFinder search engine. The biggest problem with this change is that it breaks the reverse-DNS lookup verification process used by mail servers to insure that incoming mail is coming from a valid domain. The other problem is that it violates the way that DNS is suppose to work.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser does something similar when you type a non-existent domain name, it will redirect you to the MSN site to assist you in finding the site you're looking for. This feature can be annoying for advanced Internet users, but novice users it might actually be of some benefit.

Note: If you run BIND 8 on your DNS servers, you can patch them to work around this problem.

The Aftermath
On September 19th, 2003 ICANN created the following advisory. On September 23th, 2003 VeriSign responded to the public outcry over the SiteFinder service.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Cheap 802.11 Antenna

You may have seen projects that make 802.11 antennas out of Pringles and coffee cans. Now you can learn how to make a 802.11 antenna from an old floppy disk and a paper clips.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

WiFi Speed Spray

Do you live in a polluted environment? If so, you've probably experienced data transfer slow-down. Then WiFi Speed Spray™ can overcome the effects of pollution, increase fidelity, and provide you with the fastest wireless data transfer possible. Approved by the FCC, and 802.11b compliant! Compatible with Windows and most versions of Linux.

(Read the fine print...)

Friday, September 12, 2003

Mr. Security Says Patch Your System NOW!

Microsoft has announced some newly discovered vulnerabilities in the Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. These vulnerabilities are similar to those leveraged by the MSBlast (Lovesan) worm that crippled many systems across the Internet a few weeks ago. This patch (MS03-039) is a available at their website:

Industry experts believe that it is only a matter of days before a virus exploiting these vulnerabilities appears. It is strongly recommended that you download the patch and install it on your personal computer(s) at home. Note: Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME users are not affected by these vulnerabilities and users with these operating systems DO NOT need to download and install the patch.

There is also another situation that needs your attention. There has been a rash of hoax and virus-containing email messages making their rounds for the past few days, focusing on the theme of the September 11 attacks. These messages should be deleted without forwarding or opening the attachments. One in particular, which mentions a WTC Survivor virus, is a hoax and has been circulating for over a year. Please do not forward it to anyone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

RIAA vs. A 12-year-old girls

I believe that RIAA has the right to protect the Intellectual Property of the artists it represents. I don't agree with their recent tactics of suing file swappers, but it is means to an end (I guess).

Although now, I think they have stepped across line of overzealous enforcement, on Tuesday (09/09/2003) the RIAA sued a 12-year-old girl in a New York city housing project on the Upper West Side. The girl was wrong for sharing the copyrighted material, but forcing her mother to pay $2,000 fine, then having to apologize and admit that her daughter's actions violated U.S. copyright laws is very excessive in my opinion.

Check out Boycott-RIAA.com for more information.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Checkout These New Products:

- HP's ScanJet 4670 digital flatbed scanner (Q3122A), it is very cool looking. It features, vertical see-thru scanning. ($199 US)

- Lexmark PrintTrio Photo P3150, the features include:
- Built-in memory card readers that accepts CompactFlash I & II, Memory Stick, Multimedia, Secure Digital, SmartMedia and Microdrive
- Borderless, 6-color inks for professional photo prints and copies
- Host-based black, white and photo copies. Reprint your favorite photos with the push of a button.
- 48-bit CIS flatbed color scanner easily handles books, traditional photographs and more
- Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi on photo paper; up to 2400 x 1200 dpi on all other paper types
- All this for only $99 US...

Note: I am only mentioning these and other products in my blog because I like the features that they have to offer, and in no way am I endorsing them.

Cool Sites

Free Classic E-books:
- Planet PDF
- Project Gutenberg

Miscellaneous Sites/Products:
- Whacky Japanese TV Skits: I am pretty sure that some of a these videos are destined to be Internet cult classics.
- Digital spy camera: This digital camera is so small that it will fit on a keyring. Note: I am pretty sure it will cause some privacy issues (can you say, 'Camera Phone').
- Insultingly stupid movie physics: Only a true geek will like this site...

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Another Free OS Alternative...

SkyOS (http://skyos.org/) a free operating system for x86 PCs. Features include multiprocessor support (SMP), virtual memory, memory protection, multitasking and threading, and much more. The minimum requirements for installing SkyOS are: Pentium, 32MB RAM, VESA compatible video card, and a bootable device.

Water-Cooled PC

If your planning to overclock your PC, you might want to consider using a water-cooling system. Water-cooling systems are very quiet and keep the temperature of your CPU and other component in your case much cooler than adding a few fans to your heat sink. The main problems with the technology is that it is more expensive then fans, and you have to run plumbing inside your case.

For more information check out:
- Koolance, they sell an external cooling system that costs about $230 US.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Things that make you hum...
Interesting set of photos of a tow boat hitting a bridge and surviving...

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

In the news:
The worm at the heart of the Big Apple
How the MSBlast worm MAY have contributed to the East Coast blackout. [Interesting article]

Phantom.net
This is suppose to be a new gaming console, but a great deal of people are saying it is fake. The site is very elaborate, although it is amazing how much publicity it has generating for a product that is not even real. I know companies that would kill to get this publicity.

Are we Ready for Ternary or Quaternary logic
For several decades all digital computers have used binary logic (1s and 0s) as its base logic. Now that transistors are getting smaller and smaller, they are getting harder and harder to produce. Chip-makers around the world are looking at ways expand the base logic of microchips beyond two. [Interesting article, but technical]

Cool sites:
Webby Awards
Web sites that have won awards for being the best site in the category.

National Weather Service
Free weather information without ads.

SayItBaby.com
Allows you to send someone a personal or anonymous video message...

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Throwing out the baby with the bath water...

Over the last few weeks, there have been some funny situations and quotes in the news, here were two that I found very humorous:

1. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) now blames text-messaging for helping bad movie fail more quickly at the box office. In the olden days (only just a few years ago), it use take a fews days for word-of-mouth to spread that a certain movie was bad. So, the theaters were able to get a few good days of screen play before people wouldn't come to see the movie any more. Now, people have their new fangled cell phones and can instant message their friends while watching the movie and tell them its a stinker.

In my humble opinion, text messaging cell phones are not the problem. If a movie flops too quickly at the box, I think the blame should fall on movie industry for making a bad movie.

2. Now, anyone who uses Microsoft Windows knows how stable and secure their OS and applications? Well, Scott Charney, Microsoft's chief security strategist, told a group of developers at the TechEd 2003 conference in Brisbane that information collected from Dr Watson (MS error reporting tool), revealed that "half of all crashes in Windows are caused not by Microsoft code, but third-party code."

Isn't that great news to know that Microsoft is only responsible for half of all your system crashes? Whew, I know that I can now breath a sigh of relief. Now, we can start blaming third party developers for the other half of your crashes.

Companies needs to get a clue and start fixing the real problems, and stopping finding someone or something else to blame!

A new reason to patch your computer...

Microsoft recently release a new cumulative patch (MS03-032) for the Internet Explorer browser. This patch fixes several new and existing exploits in the IE browser. This patch has been marked as 'Critical' by Microsoft, so I would highly recommend that you and yours upgrade.

If you want to take this whole process to the next level, I would recommend going to the WindowsUpdate site and upgrade to all the latest patch there.

Happy safe computing...

Thursday, August 21, 2003

New RIO MP3 Players

Rio is about to introduced two new MP3 players. I know this doesn't sound very interesting, but these players have some awesome new features.

The first product is called 'Nitrus' (it will retail for about $300 US), the cool thing about this player is that it has a built-in 1-inch 1.5GB hard drive, and it is very small. The second player is called 'Karma' (it will retail for about $400 US), it offers 20GB hard drive, an Ethernet port, RCA stereo output ports, and can play music from your computer to through the Karma and into your stereo.

Both of these devices are have long battery life (about 16+ hours), great sound, and supports a few different CODECs including some open-source ones. Both devices can play following digital audio formats: MP3, WMA, FLAC, and OGG.

Note: As far as I know the devices are not for sale as of yet...



Move Over MS03-026, its MS03-030 Turn

Well, you may have been one smart ones who patched your computer early and survived MSBlast worm without a problem. Now, you have to make sure your system is ready for next vulnerability (MS03-030) that may soon be exploited.

Microsoft patched this vulnerability On July 23, about the same time that it created the MS03-026 patch which prevents the MSBlast worm from infecting your computer. The security bulletin describes the patch as a "critical" vulnerability in DirectX. According to the Microsoft, unprotected systems can be exploited simply by playing a MIDI file or visiting a malicious web page.

The problem is in a DirectX component that relies in a library file called 'QUARTZ.DLL'. This DLL is used by several applications, including Internet Explorer to play MIDI files. All a malicious programmer has to do is a make a specially crafted MIDI file that can cause a buffer overflow error, which can allow an them to take control of your system, or cause some type of system damage

To protect yourself, do one of the steps below:

1. See the security bulletin: MS03-030 and download the patch for your version of Windows.

- OR -

2. Goto to the WindowsUpdate site install the latest patches.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Cool Stuff Updates:

  • If you're a Christian check out the following site, it is about Mel Gibson's new Passion Movie that should be coming out about easter. The movie is about the last 12 hours Jesus life before he was crucified. It looks really good and has a very high production value, check out the site for more information. Note: Mel Gibson produced the film and is not staring in it

  • The Pulse Detonation Engine is the next generation air craft engine, that is suppose to replace the jet engine.

  • Gamma-ray weapons are the next generation weapons that will replace some of our more conventional weapons.



Sorry I have not posted recently, but I have not had time. But here is something to that I hope you find interesting...

Cool web sites that I found:
- Human Clock
- Industrious Clock
- Cool Text-to-Speech Sythnisizer
- XBox Emulator

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Beware MSBLASTER Worm

Well, its finally here a worm that takes advantage of the security hole in Microsoft RPC (Remote Procedure Call) Interface. The Worm is called MSBLASTER.EXE (W32/Blaster). Several different security professionals have to prophesying the coming of this event for weeks.

Now, I have said it before, and I will say it again, if you use Windows NT 4.0, 2000, XP, or 2003 and not installed the Microsoft patch MS03-026, do it now!

This worm has already hit my mother and knocked her computer off the Internet. From what I have read about the problems she is experiencing, it failed to install itself on here computer. The problem is that it corrupts here ability to get online.

To protect yourself try following these suggestions:

1. Install a firewall at the perimeter of your network.
2. Update your anti-virus signatures.
3. Update your application and OS patches.

Inside MSBLASTER:
The way this worm works is that it tries to force an unprotected computer to download and execute a copy of a file called 'MSBLAST.EXE' from another compromised computer. When the application gets executed on the newly compromised host computer, it then begins scanning for other vulnerable systems to infect. One of the interesting feature of this worm is that it is suppose to include the ability to launch a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack against WindowsUpdate.com using the infected computers.

Coming Clean...
If your computer does become infected by the MSBLASTER Worm, then follow the steps below to remove the it.

1. Open RegEdit by typing "REGEDIT" at the Run... command.
2. Locate the following registry key: 'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run' and delete the following value: 'windows auto update'
3. From the Run... menu type following command delete the worm: "del %Windir%\system32\msblast.exe"
4. Open Task Manager by right-clicking the taskbar, open up the Process tab. Find the 'msblast.exe' process, right-click it and select 'End Process'.
5. Patch your system with MS03-026.

Or, download one of the following removal tools:

- Symantec Removal Tool
- Trend Micro Removal Tool
- F-Secure Removal Tool
- Computer Associates Removal Tool
- McAfee/NAI Removal Tool

Monday, August 11, 2003

The Next Internet Revolution

Calling and talking to your friends over the Internet is a technology that has been around for several years. But it has been plagued by poor sound quality and long delays in between conversations. It also an inconvient technology to use because if you wanted to make a call you had to turn on your computer, and launch an application or goto a web site (such as Dialpad and PC2Phone )to make a call.

Then there is the hardware issues that you had to deal with, couldn't just use mike and speaker. What you needed is a headset so that it didn't sound like you were talking to someone in a tunnel. So depending on your computer setup you could be switching wires headset and speakers, everytime you wanted to make a call. It just wasn't really worth it. (Note: The hardware/software configuration would change depending which service you were using)

The biggest problem with the whole PC-to-phone or PC-to-PC technologies was they were not convinent, or easy-to-use. Consumer product designers know that in order to make a good product, it has to be easy-to-use, or it is not going to sell. They often use the telephone as good example of an easy-to-use device. Because, it is a device that we are all familiar with, and know how to use.

All of the early free PC-to-Phone services are gone, but there still are plenty of free PC-to-PC services available. Now, the PC-to-Phone services charge for their services.

Enter VOIP
Michael Robertson founder MP3.com and Lindows, just launch a new start-up company called 'SIPphone', which allows people to make with free Internet-based phone anywhere in the world.

Robertson's new company is selling phones specially designed SIP phones that allow you to make Internet-based calls without a computer for free, anywhere in the world. The catch is that this technology only works with other device that support the same technology, and requires a broadband connection.

The way the SIPPhone works is that you need purchase a pair of them for $130 form SIPPhone.com. Then you plug the phone's power cord into a local wall socket, and then plug the phone's ethernet cable into your broadband router. In about a minute, the phone is ready to work. There is a great deal more information on the SIPPhone about how it works.

NOTE: The SIPphones are based on the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standard, also known as Voice Over IP (VOIP). The SIP protocol governs the initiation and routing of Internet-based calls.

The Competition
Vonage is a company that provides Internet-based flat-rate calling plans using your broadband connection to provide you regular phone service. The Vonage advange over SIPphone is that it works like your regular phone, and doesn't require you to change your calling habits. Anyone with a phone can call you, and you can call anyone else. SIPphones only work when calling someone else with a SIPphone.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Making the World Unsafe for Hackers

Patches happen
Over the years Microsoft has been developing several technologies to make it easier for the system administrators and the average computer users to keep their systems up-to-date (for example: WindowsUpdate).

To avoid these problems you could switch to another operating systems such as: Linux or the Macintosh OS, and you can free yourself of some of these concerns. Although, these OSes are not without their security problems too. For example: there are lots of security/bug patches that are available for Linux and it's applications.

The biggest advantages of the these alternative OSes is that they don't have the market share that Microsoft has. So, the virus writers and hackers are not activity targeting these platforms. A virus writer goal is to try to infect as many machines as possible, so their going to go after the biggest target.

Although, I wonder if Linux or the Macintosh were the number one OS, how would they fair against new attacks that might be created against them.

Protect thyself...
If you have not patched your system with with the latest patches from Microsoft, then do it now and don't wait. Microsoft has a relatively new patch known as MS03-026, it is a pretty nasty flaw, that allows programs to be run on your computer remotely without your knowledge or having to do anything for this exploit to happen.

This flaw is so nasty that the Department of Homeland Security issued a security advisory, urging people to patch your systems.

Things that you can do to protect yourself:
  • Install the latest system patch from Microsoft with the Windows Update service
  • Install a hardware or software firewall, try the free version of ZoneAlarm.
  • Install anti-virus software, try the free home version of Avast.
  • Backup all your important data.

After you secure your system, you then have worry about maintenance:
  • Update your virus signatures weekly.
  • Update your system patches monthly.
  • Maintain you data backup, on a daily or weekly schedule.

Test your system

Other tips for keeping your system secure:
  • Download and install Spybot Search & Destroy, it removes spyware and other malicious software from your computer.
  • Install an anti-spam filter on your email client, like POPFile.
  • Install a script manager, like Script Sentry. This prevents malicious scripts from trying to run on your computer without your knowledge.

Security practices:
  • Don't store confidential information on your computer unencrypted.
  • Don't open attachments in your email, unless your expecting them. Even then still scan them with your anti-virus software before opening it.
  • If you download software off the Internet, only do it from reputable sites.
  • Change your passwords often.
  • Use strong passwords, which means it should contain ad-least eight characters made up of numbers, letters (in diffent cases) and punctuation marks. For example: if your password 'Powerline', it could look like 'P0w3rL!n3'.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Cool Online Internet Tool Sites

Security:
- Anti-Virus Scanner: HouseCall Anti-Virus
- Software Update: Microsoft Windows Update
- Spyware Scanner: PestScan

Browser Tool:
- BrowserSpy

Anti-Spam Tools:
- Sam Spade

Networking Tools:
- DNSstuff.com

Diagnostics Tools:
- PC Pitstop

Graphics:
- 3D Heading Maker

More funny web sites:


  • Matrix ASCII animation - You have to see it too believe it.

  • Trooper Clerks - A couple of slacker stormtroopers kill time on the big, bad battle-station -- away (but not too far away) from all of the blasters, light-sabers and garbage compactors.



Monday, August 04, 2003

Viva La Open-Source

Open-source software has been become very controversial topic recent, ever since SCO challenged the Intellectual Properties (IP) rights of Linux. It appears that SCO is trying to use FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt), to try to prevent companies from adapting Linux. Microsoft (and other companies), are trying to this leverage controversial situation to try to promote their products.

Microsoft is trying to fight a difficult battle against Linux, they have to convince people to adapt their technology and that it is worth spend thousand or millions of dollars to license it. While Linux community gives away their software to everyone who want to use it. Microsoft is trying to leverage the FUD that SCO is generating to win the hearts of the IT managers that fatten their coffers. Microsoft is afraid of Linux, and they have admitted, because they know that they can't compete with a free products.

IMHO Microsoft has two advances over Linux; there first advatage is their tight application integration; the second advatage is the ease of software installation under Windows. Because the applications and OS are coming from one company the look and feel and integration can be very tight. While linux and other open-source project don't have this advantage.

My biggest complaint about Linux is the application installation procedures, some apps use a simple one-click installation, while others can very complicated. My only other complaint is the application integration between Linux apps., Mostly it is just user-interface issues. Many of these open-source don't have the resources or experience to develop good GUIs.

I have to admit that I hate having to pay for software when I don't have too and that's why I love open-source and freeware. Microsoft and other third party software vendors make some great products, but for the average home user or small business they can be very expensive purchase. For example take Open-Office, which is given away for their product for free; while MS Office can cost several hundred dollars. It can be a simple decision for some people who don't mind using Open-Office, while other will pay to use MS Office because that what 'everyone' else uses.

Personally, I love the Windows XP operating system, it is the best OS Microsoft has ever created. I can do things with this OS, that were impossible in previous version of Windows without having to write some type of C++ program. Don't get me wrong, because I am not a 'Microsoftie', I know how buggy and insecure MS products can be, but at the same time they have some pretty cool technology.

In the end you have to determine what is right for you or your company. I and just about everyone else believe that SCO will fail in the IP claims against Linux. Although, until Linux is vindicated, there is going to be FUD in hearts of the IT managers that control the technology direction of companies.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Below is a list of funny web sites that I have found:

  • 'You Are My Friend' generator - Real fun web site that allow you to personalize a message to your friends. Just replace 'yournamehere' in the URL with the first name of your friend.

  • The Advertising Slogan Generator - As the name says it generates advertising slogans.

  • It Hurts - If you have eye problems or subject to strokes don't look at this web site.

  • BuzzPhraser - A TechnoLatin phrase generator



Friday, August 01, 2003

When Shreading Documents Isn't Enough...

Reconstructing Schred Documents (Requires Registration)
Talks about how computers and scanning technology can recontructed shreaded documents that were once though to be unrecoverable.


The Next Big Thing (for this week only) [Part 2]...

As soon something is declared as a 'hot technology', or 'the next big thing' you end up with a million or so copycats trying to cash in on someone else's success. How many search engines do we need, or how many web browsers do we need to browser to surf the web, etc... ?

Pretty soon companies are going to start developing their own 'social networking' software, or declaring they're software already has this functionality. The same thing is happened with 'Web Services', then previous to that we had 'Application Services Providers' (ASP), and 'Web Portals', etc..

I am not advocating that we discourage innovation, but it just sometimes get ridiculous with the amount of copycat technologies out there. I don't personally believe in 'Darwinism', but one of his principals holds true in my mind. This principal is the 'survival of the fittest', it states in the wild the strongest animals will survive. In the business world like the animal world this principal applies, the strongest companies will survive while the weaker companies will die.

The only real innovation that comes from these copycat companies is the fact that they will add new features or enhance existing ones that are copied by their competitors. And this cycle will continue to repeat itself...


The Next Big Thing (for this week only) [Part 1]...

Blogging has become so last week. Now, people are declaring Friendster and services like it as the 'next big thing'. This service is part of a fast growing new category of Internet services called 'social networking'.

Friendster is a service that helps people find new 'friends' by allowing friends to refer their friends to others. The service is based around a community concept, but right now it seems a new way of meeting people on the Internet.

Friendster opened to the public in March of 2003, and it just hit it's first one million users a few weeks ago. The company claims that they're expanding their user base at a rate of 20% per week.

To be continued...


Thursday, July 31, 2003

The RIAA and You

If you swap songs on any of the major public file-sharing networks (such as KaZaA), you're now running the risk of being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The RIAA has already issued several hundred subpoenas to ISPs (Internet Service Providers) across the USA, requesting the real names of people offering copyrighted music on these networks.

The RIAA is trying identify and shutdown these individual song swappers, making good on its threats to expand its legal battle against copyright theft. If you do get subpoenaed by the RIAA, there is a very good chance that your going to lose your case if you fight it. They have been very successful at winning these cases against file swappers.

If you think your at risk of being used or have already been subpoenaed by the RIAA, then the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has some resources that might help you.:

RIAA vs. Everyone
I believe that all forms of piracy are wrong, but I also believe that the way that the RIAA is handling situation is wrong. There should be a better way of handling this situation, then suing your current and future customers.

It is only recently that businesses like Apple with their iTunes music store and other service like it, are making commercial music affordable, and usable. These businesses are allowing people to download the music tracks they like, and play it the way they want to.

The MP3 revolution changed the way we listen to music. We now play the song tracks we want to hear in our computers, cars, and portable players; without worrying about what type media (CD, cassette, etc..) that it is stored on. With CDs you have to worry about them being scratched or lost. With MP3s and other digital formats, you can burn the music tracks you want to hear on inexpensive CDs, or download them to a portable device.

Personally, I hate the fact that you have to spend $16 dollars (US) for CD when you may only like three songs or less on it. The on-line music stores allow you download the music you want hear, and play it where you want to.

These on-line music stores have taken the first steps in correcting a flawed business model that has existed for years. By allowing you download the music you want listen too for a reasonable price.

Now they need work on improving the 'fair use' rights of this music, so that after you download it you can use it the way you want too. They also, need to work on expanding the selection of music that they have available.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Star Wars Kid

You may seen or heard about the 'Star Wars Kid' videos that have been circulating around the Internet these last few months. They're the about as popular as the 'dancing baby' videos that circulated a few years earlier.

If you have not seen or heard of these videos, they contain video footage of an overweight teenage boy that was trying to mimic the fighting moves of the Jedi knights from the recent Star Wars movies. Although, he is not very graceful; I am not sure if I could do a better job trying these moves myself.

I have to admit when I first saw the videos I thought they were funny. I was also amused how people took this video made short Star Wars and Matrix trails from them.

Then after I read the following article in Wired, I did not find it funny anymore:

Whether you think these videos are funny, or you find them demoralizing this is you to decide. The facts are: these videos were NOT made with this person's permission, and this is a real person who was humiliated by these videos.

I feel the tone of this post comes across like I have an agenda to condemn these videos. I am trying to keep this post as un-bias as I possibly can without avoiding the facts of the matter. I won't say that I approve them, but I think it important that you draw your own conclusions.

Well after a two week hiatus I am back...
Did anyone miss me?


On the lighter side...

You may have seen or heard about the mock Internet Explorer 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' 404 error message page that was created by Anthony Cox, a British blogger. At the top of the page it states 'These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed' The text goes on to state 'The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country may be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate.'

There is also another 404 error page about the Iraq Dis-Information Minister.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Blog Name Change

First of all, I am changing the name of my blog from 'Hello World...' to 'In My Humble Opinion'. I chose the first title "Hello World..." from a very famous code sample that most new programmer use when they're first learning how to program.

For example, here is the Hello World program in BASIC:
10 Print "Hello World..."

>run
Hello World...

The reason for changing the name to 'In My Humble Opinion', is because the phrase has always stood out to me. I believe if you start a statement with this phrase you automatically invalidate the humbleness of your comment. The phrase is almost an oxymoron. because of the contradiction between humility and while trying to express ones opinion.

Okay, I am going to stop ranting here about this subject. I really don't believe that anyone really cares why I did this, but just in case anyone wondered why I choose the strange titles.




Now for Something Completely Different...

Stamp It Out
Ever wanted your own first class stamps? All you have to do is upload your own pictures, and presto you have your own stamps. Note: If you think that you can use these images to create stamps to fool the post office, you will be sorely disappointed, but is still a cool site.

Automatic Bad Movie Trailer Generator
This site creates bad movie trailers like the ones you see on TV and in theaters, only these are randomly generated on the fly. Each trailer is made up of random elements that are combined differently every time you view it. You can play it over and over repeatedly and you'll never get quite the same trailer.

Window RG (RG stand for 'Really Good')
It's a Flash version of a Windows XP spoof...


Monday, July 14, 2003

My first blog...

This is my first blog, and I have to admit I like the technology, but I can also see its short comings too. Blogging to me is the HTML equivalent of UseNet for the World-Wide Web. When the UseNet first appeared on the Internet almost 30 years ago, I am pretty sure it was a phenomena similar to blogging. All of sudden people around the world were able to post their views, ideas, interests, etc..; without having to worry about what the other people or governments think.

(Note: for those people who don't know what UseNet is, here is a brief explanation. In the 1970s the UseNet was developed to allow people to post their views and ideas on the Internet. Over the years it has evolved into a huge archive of everything under the sun [and I mean everything])

The primarily thing that differentiates Blogging from the UseNet (besides the back-end technologies); is the UseNet posting only supports plain text, where blog postings can use HTML (which means it can support: pictures, sounds, and much more). Also, if you know anything about HTML, then you know it supports a much richer set of formating options then plain-text. It is kind of like comparing Windows Notepad to Microsoft Word.

Blogging vs. Creating Web Pages
One of the best things about blogging is if you know how to use a web browser, then you should be about to do it. It only took me about five minutes or less to setup this blog on Blogger.

The great thing about Blogger is that you don't have to know HTML, CSS, Java-Script, etc.. to post (although it does help to know these technologies). If you had to reproduce the posting process using a regular web site it would require that you have a great deal more knowledge about how to create and maintain a web site.

For example, to post a web page on a regular web site you would first have a web server to host your pages; a web page editor to create your web pages; and some type of file transfer program (such as an FTP program) to manage the files. Then after you have all that, you then need to know use different web page technologies such as: HTML, CSS, Java-Script, etc..

Blogger Shortcomings
Some of the main shortcoming that I found in the free version of Blogger:

  • No storage is provided to host additional files (such as images).

  • No web site usage tracking statistics

  • Knowledge/support areas are outdated.


If you need any of these features then you will have to pay for them. Personally, I am pretty frugal when it comes to money, so I found some free alternatives to help offset some of these shortcomings.

Support
First, the 'Blogger Unofficial FAQ blog' has some of the best and most update information about Blogger. If you're having a problem, or needed to know about what special tags that Blogger supports; this is the place to go.

Free Web Site Usage Trackers
If you spend your free time ranting (like me), and want to know if anybody is even looking at what you're typing. Then you will want to install a web site usage tracker. This technology requires that you insert a HTML code fragment into your template. Then anytime someone comes to your blog, this site will capture information about the page they visited, what type of browser they have.

Free Search Engine/Directory Submissions
If you want to promote your blog, then I would submit it to the search engines and directories for inclusion (note: if you have a commercial blog, then some search engines/directories will change you for inclusion.)

Host Web Content
If you need to include graphics, and/or other types of content in your blog you should be able to use a free web host service like GeoCities. Also, if you need an alternate free email address to prevent your real email address from being flooded by unwanted message, Yahoo Mail is great service.

Fun web sites...

Stamp It Out
Ever wanted your own first class stamps? This web site lets you create you own personal stamps.


Automatic Bad Movie Trailer Generator
This site creates bad movie trailers like the ones you see on TV and in theaters, only these are randomly generated on the fly. Each trailer is made up of random elements that are combined differently every time you view it. You can play it over and over repeatedly and you'll never get quite the same trailer.


Saturday, July 12, 2003

More Cool Articles

Wired magazine's science fact articles:

  • Being Invisible
    Next generation optical camouflage.

  • A User's Guide to Time Travel
    Once confined to fantasy and science fiction, time travel is now simply an engineering problem.

  • 8 Super Powers
    These super powers include:

    • X-Ray Vision

    • Regeneration

    • Total Recall

    • Teleportation

    • Weather Control

    • Force Fields

    • Underwater Breathing

    • Super Strength




Friday, July 11, 2003

Cool Articles

P2P's little secret

It's a great article about privacy on the Internet.

New Memory That Doesn't Forget

MRAM (Magneto-resistive Random Access Memory) could be the next generation memory for computers and other handheld electronic devices. What makes MRAM better then today's conventional RAM technologies is:

- It consumes less power
- Its faster
- Its non-volatile, meaning that it doesn't require power to keep it alive.

The Anti-gravity Underground

Have you ever seen those anti-gravy vehicles and device in Sci-Fi movies and wondered what it would be like to have one. Check out this article to find out more.

Kensington WiFi detector

If you're in data security and you need to find rogue wireless access points, then you might want to check out the Kensington WiFi detector. I believe it might be a great alternative to a laptop with a WiFi card and NetStumbler (or equivalent software). Some of the features of this device are:

- Detects WiFi networks with the press of a button
- Compact and lightweight
- Detects 802.11b and 802.11g signals up to 200 feet away
- No software or computer required


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

The State of Recoding Television

As short as a few years ago, TVs could internally handle the two main signals that they received, which were either an analog cable signal or over the air TV transmissions. Now that we have digital satellite (DSS), and digital cable, and High-Definition TV (HDTV) technologies, things have all changed.

With all these new technologies, it means that making the correct component choices the first time is critical so that everything works together. This also means, that the equipment setup will now become more complex.

For example, lets say that you want to get a new HDTV, with a HDTV satellite receiver, a Tivo PVR, and a Gateway Connected DVD player. The first thing that you need to consider is the HDTV monitor that you want to buy, some of these monitors require the purchase of an additional receiver. Then if you want to record your HDTV programming, you will need a PVR that can record this signal. DirecTV and Tivo are suppose to have a satellite HDTV receiver with that can do this (although, all I could find was press release about it 'coming soon').

Then once you have the TV, PVR, and HDTV receiver selected, you now you consider which DVD player you want. I personally like the idea of the Gateway connected DVD player because of it's feature set.

Hooking It All Together:
Hopefully when you bought your TV you had enough forethought to buy one with extra video connectors to handle hooking up all these different components. If that wasn't enough to worry about, you also need to consider which video/audio connections (such as: Composite, RCA, Component, and S-Video) each of devices use, and which will give you the best picture quality.

Then there's the other devices that we hook up to our TVs, such as:
- Camcorders
- Game consoles
- Home theater systems
- etc..

The Future:
As more entertainment devices are being developed, hooking all these components together is going to become a worse nightmare. The manufactures need to rally together to standardize one connection type, that allows you daisy chain the devices together. These devices also need to allow one device to become the master of the chain so that when you press the play button you don't have to set each device's video selection mode to allow that device to play through to the TV.

For example, if you have an older TV that only has two video inputs, and you have a VCR, and a DVR player. When you want to play the DVD, you first have to switch the video input on the TV so that it will display the video output of the DVD player. Then you can can press the play button on your DVD player to watch your movie. It would would be nice if you just pressed play button on the DVD player, and the player communicated with the TV that it need to switch the video inputs.

Personal Note: For some reason I feel this strong rant to talk about home entertainment devices. So, over the next few days I am going to state my opinions of these technologies. If you find this subject boring, I have a great deal of different topics planned for the future...

Personal Video Recorders

I have to admit I personally love the PVR (Personal Video Recorders) technology, it has changed the way I watch TV. I can watch my favorite TV programs when I want too, and I don't have to be subject to the television programming schedules.

The technology to record and playback TV programming has been available since the 70's with invention of the VCR, but it still doesn't match the experience of a PVR. The features I love most about PVRs is that you can pause, rewind, stop live TV, plus you can skip through commercials on any of your recorded programming. You can also search for new programming to record.

So, If you don't have a PVR go out and buy one now! Once you start using one of these devices you will wonder how you lived without it.

There are a few things that you need to know before you go out and buy a PVR.
- The most popular PVR makers are Tivo and ReplayTV
- If you get your TV reception from analog cable or over the air TV transmissions. Then you should be in pretty good shape to use one of these devices out of the box.
- If get your TV programming from a digital cable system or satellite provider then things get more complicated.

If you have DishNet as your satellite provider then you have to use their proprietary PVR technology. If you have DirecTV as your satellite provider then you can get their PVR with Tivo technology. As far as digital cable is concerned contact your cable provider.

As much as I love the PVR, this technology also has it short comings. Having used by current PVR system for more then a year now, and having seen what is available; I see the biggest problems with this technology is:

- You can't offload content to a removable media such a CD or DVD.
- Doesn't support HDTV programming, yet! (this should be coming soon, hopefully before 2004)
- Not enough disk storage space to hold all the programming. Most PVRs come with 40 or 80 hours of recording time. I sounds like a lot time, but it is not if you're trying to save your favorite shows to watch at a later.

While I believe that the future of PVRs is bright. I also believe it can be sum up in one word 'convergence'. The next generation of these devices needs to include:

- Support the ability to save recorded content to a DVD disk.
- The ability play DVDs.
- Network-enabled with the ability play/display content (music, pictures or video) off your computer.
- Support larger hard drives.

Personally I admit I am a big fan of the Tivo technology because of the amazing range of enhancements products that are available for it. They range from open source software, to 3rd party hardware modifications. For more information about these product see: DealDatabase

Privacy Note: Tivo tracks all the information about your viewing habits, the arrogates the data and sells it movie and television companies.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Digital Hubs Future or Fad

'Digital hubs' are not a new product category for consumers, but they're an interesting one, and one that is about to really take off. I believe that Tivo and Replay laid the foundation for digital hub revolution with their PVR (Personal Video Records) technology. Microsoft later popularized (notice I didn't say 'invented') it with it's Windows XP Media Center Edition.

There are now several different companies, selling several different products, with many different features, all competing to define the digital hub category. For example, I have seen special enhancements for Microsoft's XBox that enhances it's multimedia capabilities, TIVO has their Home Media Option, Sony is creating the PSX, etc..

One exceptional product that seems to really stand out in this category is the Gateway Connected DVD Player. What is really great about this product is its features and the price ($250 US). Not only is it a DVD player, but it can also play several different digital audio/video file formats stored on your PC (such as: JPEG, MP3, MPEG, etc..) over the network. Below is a list of the different digital media formats it can play, and diffent types of LAN capabilities it supports:

Media: DVD, CD, VCD/SVCD, Kodak Picture CD and MP3 files on CD-R/CD-RW
Formats: MPEG1/MPEG2 video, JPG photos and MP3/WMA audio files
Connectivity: Support either wired Ethernet or Wi-Fie (802.11b) connectivity to a Microsoft-based home network.

There is one major problem with all of these devices that will kill this market in the near future if it not addressed. There needs to be some form of interoperability standards so that these devices can communicate seemlessly with each other. These products can be 'jerry-ridged' to work together, but the integration is not very seamless. As these devices become more and more complex you have to become a 'home media architect' to hook it all up.

For example: What components, and connections would you need to hookup a DirecTV satellite receiver, Tivo Series 2, and a Gateway Connected DVD Player to your TV. You could use an integrated DirecTV/Tivo PVR, but you lose the ability to do some major modifications to the device. But if you a DirecTV receiver, with a regular Tivo Series 2 you loose the ability to record the digital content right to the hard drive. There are also several other things that you would have to consider in this configuration.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Wearable Glove Keyboard

Dr. Carsten Mehring invented a wearable glove-type input device designed to simulate Qwerty-style keyboard. This device could replace the current input technologies (such as: pen type stylus, thumb keyboards, etc..) that we use today to enter information into palm-sized computers. Dr. Mehring device is called 'KITTY' (which stand for: Keyboard Independent Touch Typing), which uses sensors worn on each finger and three sensors on each thumb.

There is a competing technology from a company called Senseboard Technologies that is based on a similar idea. Instead of being a glove, they use devices that clip on to your hands and senses the motion of your fingers as you pretend to touch type on an invisible keyboard.

Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle

DARPA is planning on building an unmanned reusable 'hypersonic cruise vehicle' (HCV) capable of striking any target in the world within two hours. This aircraft will also have the ability to carry a payload up to 12,000 pounds in munitions.

The potential of such a weapon, has several advantages over most modern day conventional weapon technologies. Such as: You don't have to worry about losing your own people; or finding airbase in a foreign country to host your equipment; or worrying about it getting shoot down by conventional weapons. It also has a whole host of other advantages, but most of all it should be able deliver it's payload before it's target even knew it was there.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

DataGlyphs

I recently saw a very cool technology, it is called 'DataGlyphs' from PARC (or Palo Alto Research Center, and formerly known as Xerox PARC). DataGlyphs are 45-degree diagonal lines that can be as small as one one-hundredth of an inch or less. Each glyph is designed to represents a single binary number (such as: '0' or '1'), depending on whether it slopes to the left or right. The main limitation to the size of the glyph is the resolution of the printer and scanner used to print it and to read it, the higher the resolution of these devices the smaller the glyph can be.

One of the cool things about this technology is that you can embed binary information into images, create special watermarks, etc...; and people might not even realize that they're there. Another great thing about the technology is that it has a lot of built-in error correction so that you should be able to crumble, burn holes, spill coffee, etc.. on the page; and the software should still be able to decode the message.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

UberGeek.TV

Today, I am going to start by posting a very funny site I came across this morning, it is called UberGeek.TV. The only thing worthwhile about the site is the flash animation on the right-hand side of the content on the front-page.