Saturday, December 30, 2006

Vintage Computer Commercial Flashbacks

Since the Introduction of the first games consoles like Pong and the first personal computers like the Altair. These devices have forever changed our lives by making computer technology available to the masses.

As time passes new generation of game consoles and computers are created. Each of these new devices is generally better then its predecessors, and each one trying to build on the success for the previous generation.

Today we have game consoles and computers that are literally tens, hundreds or thousands of time more powerful then those only one or two decades previous. Also the graphics and sound rendering on some of the latest video games systems are more realistic then any previous generation of these devices.

The television commercial of vintage computer and game console listed give you a brief look at how things once were.
  • Atari 400: An early attempt by Atari to enter the home computer market (circa 1978).
  • Atari 2600: One of Atari's most successful games system ever created.
  • Commodore VIC-20: The VIC-20 was a low-powered home computer, but what is different about this commercial was that William Shatner stars in it. Tag line "Wonder Computer Of The 1980's" (circa 1982).
  • Commodore 64: The Commodore 64 was one of the most successful home computers ever produced. It was a great computer, and it was affordable. Tag line "What no one else can give you at twice the price" (circa 1982)
  • Coleco Adam: A home computer created in the early 1980s by the toy manufacturer Coleco to follow on the success of its ColecoVision game console (circa 1983).
  • TI-99/4A: The TI99/4A was never a great or really successful home computer, but they did own a third of the home computer market at one time. In this commercial Bill Cosby is pushing a $100 rebate on this computer (circa 1983).
  • Kaypro: One of many CP/M-based computer sold in the 80's. Tag line "The complete computer" (circa 1984).
  • Apple Lisa: The Apple Lisa was the first commercial computer to have a graphical user interface.
  • IBM PC/AT: This is one many commercials that IBM did in the 80's using a Charlie Chaplin like character (circa 1986).
  • Apple //c: A compact, low-cost, non-expandable version of the Apple ][ line of computers.
  • Amiga 1000: This is an early Amiga Commodore commercial (circa 1986). Watch for the spining red/white ball at the end, that graphic made this computer famous.
  • Tandy 1000: Radio Shack's entry into the IBM PC compatible market. They really need to make their commercials more compelling. I almost hate including this one because its not very interesting.
  • Apple Newton: The Newton was the first PDA, and it was really was great device. The handwriting recognition on it never worked very well, but it was still cool. Although this device is huge by today's standards.
  • Atari Jaguar: Advertised itself as the first 64-bit game console. Here is a Wikipedia article with all the information.
    • A compilation of more Atari Jaguar commercials.
  • Atari Lynx: The Lynx was Atari's first entry into the hand-held cartridge video game market which was popularized by the Gameboy.
  • IBM PS/2: IBM attempt to regain the control of the PC compatible market by introducing a proprietary architecture that they controlled. This commercial also includes a reunion of the original M*A*S*H characters (circa 1988).
  • Windows 95: While not a computer or game console, Windows 95 was significant. Tag line "Where do you want to go today" (circa 1995).
  • Packard Bell: I was never a Packard Bell computer fan, they made IBM PC compatibles during the 90's. Although, they did a great job on this commercial (circa 1996).
  • Dell: Bootcamp: I really enjoyed this commercial from Dell. Although it doesn't hold a candle to some of Mac ads created by Apple over the years (circa 2005).
    • Dell Dude: This is the first of a series of the 'Dell Dude' (aka Ben Curtis) commercials. Tag line: "Dude, you're gettin' a Dell!"
  • iPod: While its not a computer, its still a device that has caused the a cultural revolution of its own (circa 2005).
If you notice that I have not included a lot of Apple commercials, check out the following article. This articles includes real Macintosh commercials, and several parodies.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

AJAX DNS Utilities

It seems that AJAX is everywhere. Any company that is calling themselves 'Web 2.0' is using this buzzword to try to get some attention.

Below are a few example of what may be the latest trend (DNS lookup tools) in AJAX enabled web sites.
  • AjaxDNS: An AJAX based DNS lookup tool suite (DNS lookup, Whois lookup, etc.)
  • Yet another AJAX based DNS tools site.
  • AjaxWhois: An AJAX based DNS Whois lookup tool.
For more information on AJAX, read my article 'What is Ajax, and Does it Matter?' (Buy, Swap, or Sell A Gift Card)

Did you receive a gift card for Christmas from a store that you don't like? At, you can buy, sell, or swap your gift cards.

Personally I like giving gift cards for presents, because I don't have to guess what the person wants. Plus, it just makes it easier to buy stuff. All you have to know (or guess) is the store that the person will shop at, and how much you want to spend.

Polar Rose - We sort the web of photos!

There's a interesting site from Sweden called 'Polar Rose' that has gotten a few peoples attention over the last couple of days. The company is creating a technology that uses a combination of computer face recognition algorithms and user feedback to identify and tag people in pictures.

The technology is a way of giving context to visual content that is hard for search engines to process. Currently search engines like Google have to index pictures based on tags that are attached to them or the content of the text around the images.

The company is creating a plug-in for the Firefox and Internet Explorer browser that finds people in photographs. When the software finds a person in a photograph that the user is viewing, it displays an icon on the person and requests the user to identifies them if they can.

Google prototyped a somewhat similar technology (minus the face recognition algorithms) called the 'Image Labeler' a few months back. Check out this article for more information.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Article: Faster external drives arriving--slowly

CNET reports: "This one is for eSATA, an external version of the technology that's used to connect hard drives inside the PC chassis. Unlike USB and FireWire, eSATA (external Serial ATA) lets external drives communicate at the same speed as internal drives, so the technology would be welcome for those trying to back up digital photo archives or who need added capacity for storing digital music or recording video."

eSATA is the new external hard drive standard that could replace the FireWire or USB interface as the default connection for attaching these devices to your computer. Ultimately the the market will decide if it does or not.

Article: BBC moves to file-sharing sites

BBC News reports: "Hundreds of episodes of BBC programmes will be made available on a file-sharing network for the first time, the corporation has announced."

If you're a fan of old BBC programs and want to download them legally this is great news. Read the article for the latest information.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Google New Patent Search

Google is continuing their mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. They just released a new patent search feature, that allows you to perform full text searches on 7 million+ US patents.

All the information for this site comes from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This service allows you to search patents from the 1790s through the middle of 2006.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NORAD Is tracking Santa

NORAD is continuing its 50+ year tradition of tracking Santa as he makes his Christmas journey. You can watch Santa's progress starting on Christmas Eve at the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site. Also on December 24th, the kids can call the tracking service toll free at 1-877-Hi-NORAD anytime after 9AM EST (Eastern Standard Time) to find out the status of Santa journey from NORAD.

Chad Vader Episode 5 (Holiday Special)

This is the latest installment of the continuing story of Chad Vader, Darth Vader's less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother

If you have not yet already watched "Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager" episodes 1-4, you may want to watch them to get the background story. I have included links to these videos below:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Psychedelic Milk Experiment

Here is a great experiment that you can do with your kids to get them interested in science. All you need is a pan, food dye, milk and dish soap. Watch the video to find out what happens. Have fun, and make sure throw away the milk after the experiment...

Just Don't Drink It After - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, December 15, 2006

Video: 'Will It Blend' an iPod?

The popular internet video series 'Will It Blend?' is known for blending objects not previously thought to be blendable (rakes, marbles, golf balls, hockey pucks, cell phones etc.). In the latest video Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson decides he needs a new iPod, and you know what that means - blend the old one!

To buy the blender in this video, check out the eBay aution.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Article: Skype Replaces Free SkypeOut Calls With Flat Rate

PC Magazine reports: "On Wednesday, Skype announced it will be offering U.S. and Canadian customers a new unlimited calling plan at a flat rate of $29.95 per year, or, for those who decide to subscribe before January 31, 2007, $14.95. ... The Skype Unlimited Calling plan will let users make 12 months of unlimited SkypeOut calls to any phone in Canada or the U.S. and, according to the company, is the first time that Skype is making an annual calling plan available anywhere in the world."

So, if you frequently call people within the United States or Canada (even if you live in other parts of the world), you can call any phone in that region, for an unlimited amount of time, as many times as you want for $14.95 for the first year (if you sign up before January 31, 2007). The catch is that you have use your computer to make the calls.

I expect that this could cause a price war with the other major VoIP (Voice Over IP) carriers such as Vonage, AT&T, etc.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gone in Four Seconds (Protecting Yourself Against ID Theft)

Identity thieves are targeting your car. View the video guide to learn how protect your valuables and personal identity.

Lesson learned: lock your car at all times, make sure the windows are rolled up if you have leave your car, and don't leave valuables in plain site.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Best Mac Ads, Spoofs and Parodies

Since its original 1984 Macintosh commercial Apple has continued to create great ads for its products. The best thing about these ads is that people love to parody them. The current PC vs. Mac ads continue Apple's legacy that it started more then two decades ago.

Below is a list of all the best Apple ads, spoofs and parodies that I am aware that are available. If you can find better ones let me know.

Note: Viewer discretion advised. Most of these spoofs contain inappropriate language, so if this offends you please don't watch them.

PC vs. Mac Spoofs (watch all the current ads)
Think Different/Switch Spoofs (example of the original ad)
iPod Parodies
  • New iPods - This is an SNL (Saturday Night Live) skit about Steve Jobs and the new iPods (such as the Micro, Picano, and Invisa)
  • Apple iRack - This is an MadTV skit about Steve Jobs and the new iRack
  • iPod Flea - See the new iPod flea and it's accessories.
  • Apple iPod 1984 - A parody of the original 1984 commercial.
  • iPod Racer - You have to see it to believe it. The Steve Jobs mask is a great touch.
Other Parodies
  • Toasted Bunny - Apple G3 vs Pentium 2 commercial. (Note: this is a real ad)
  • iBox Ads - An ad for Apple's new gaming console?
  • MacIntosh Jr. (The Power to Crush the other Kids) - This is an SNL skit of an older Macintosh ad.
  • McIntosh Post-It-Notes - This is another SNL skit which makes fun of the Apple Newton PDA.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Video: Skyguard Laser Defense in Action

A demo video shows the Skyguard high-energy laser defense system eliminating various targets, inclusing mortar rounds and artillery shells.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Article: U.S. Dominates List of Technology Pioneers

eWeek reports: "Forty-seven companies—more than half of which are U.S.-based and 19 of which are IT-focused—were awarded status as Technology Pioneers 2007, announced the World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based independent organization that seeks to improve the state of the world, on Dec. 4."

Article: Nintendo Warns Wii Owners: Don't Let Go

PC Magazine reports: "Nintendo Co. Ltd. has some cautionary advice for players of its Wii video game console: when waving the controller, use the wrist strap, keep your palms dry and, whatever you do, don't let go. ... The Wii has been pitched as a cheap alternative to pricier machines from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., but some gamers complain they are facing unexpected costs after losing their grip on the console's remote control and smashing their televisions and other appliances."

Some of these problems reported on this site are the fault of the users not using the equipment properly. The other problems are the fault of the manufacture not properly designing the strap on the Wii remote.

Article: Cell Phones Don't Raise Cancer Risk: Study

PC Magazine reports: "Using a cellular phone does not increase a person's risk of cancer, according to a broad study released on Tuesday involving more than 400,000 Danish cellular telephone users. ... A team of researchers used data on the entire population of Denmark to determine that neither short- nor long-term use of cellular phones, also called mobile phones, was linked to a greater risk of tumors of the brain and nervous system, salivary gland or eyes, leukemia or cancer overall."

This is good news for now. The real question is a year from now will they find evidence of the opposite information.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Best Star Wars Parody/Fan Films (Updated)

Below are my picks for all-time best Star Wars parodies and fan films. When you watch the videos you will notice that they all vary in video quality from really good (i.e.: I.M.P.S.), to really bad (i.e.: Tie-Tanic). I also tried to find versions of these videos that use the Google Video service so they're easier to view, but some of them were not available from this site.

So here is my list:
  • Star Wars - Robot Chicken: Darth vader calls the emperor to inform him that the Death Star was destroyed by teenagers. [New]
  • G4 - Emperor Gets a Job: The emperor is forced to get a new job. [New]
  • I.M.P.S.: The Relentless: IMHO, this is the best Star Wars fan film (ever).
  • MTV Movie Awards 2005 Star Wars Parody: A hilarious and well edited Star Wars parody featuring Jimmy Fallon
  • Troops: Hilarious take-off on Cops, using Storm Troopers.
  • Ryan vs Dorkman: One of the best amateur lightsaber battles ever done in a fan film.
  • Hardware Wars: The grand daddy of all Star Wars fan films. It was probably created in the late 70's, and its very cheesy but very funny.
  • Tie-Tantic: A hysterical Titanic/Star Wars cross parody. (Note: The video quality of this file is really bad, but watchable.)
Honorable Mention
  • Triumph vs. Star Wars Geeks: This is not a fan film or parody, but if you have not watched Triumph (the insulting comic dog) take on the Star Wars geeks then you're missing some great comedy. (Note: some content in this video is PG-13)
  • Star Wars Kid: I almost hate to list this video because of its background story, but in many ways its really part of the of the Star Wars fan film/parody culture. (Note: There are several remixes of these videos available all over the Net.)

Article: Cars that talk to each other

Wheels24 reports: "In the near future, motorists will be able to detect danger even if it lies around the next bend or over the horizon. ... DaimlerChrysler and their technical partners have conducted field tests of the 'WILLWARN' (Wireless Local Danger Warning) European research project."

This is a great project in concept, I just hope it really catches on. I also hope that they lockdown the technology before someone figures out how to exploit it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Article: How to Quiet Your PC

ExtremeTech reports: "We've all seen plenty of reviews of those big CPU coolers that promise to keep your processor chilly while reducing noise. Big, slow-moving fans are good at that. There are other parts of your system that can make a lot of noise, though. That graphics card can get loud when it spins up. The hard drive and optical drive vibrate the case during heavy use. If there's a fan on your motherboard chipset, it can sometimes be the worst offender: That small fan often spins at a really high speed, emitting a loud high-pitch sound. Of course, your case fans matter, too. An often overlooked part of the noise equation in a high-end PC is the power supply."

Photos: A kite to pull a cargo ship

CNET reports: "It won't replace propellers, but an oversize paraglider-shaped kite could help cut fuel costs for ocean-going vessels as it also reduces their emissions. The airborne gear, from a Hamburg, Germany-based company called SkySails, has been tested on smaller ships over several years and now is being fitted for a cargo ship from Beluga Shipping, headquartered in nearby Bremen. The maiden voyage for the 130-meter MV Beluga SkySails is expected in 2007."

Its a very novel idea to leverage the power of the wind to help propel a cargo ship to cut fuel costs. In our modern age, I think sometimes we forget to look back to older technologies to see how we can improve upon it.

: Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon

Wired News reports: "The crowd is getting ugly. Soldiers roll up in a Hummer. Suddenly, the whole right half of your body is screaming in agony. You feel like you've been dipped in molten lava. You almost faint from shock and pain, but instead you stumble backwards -- and then start running. To your surprise, everyone else is running too. In a few seconds, the street is completely empty."

This is a pretty nasty 'non-lethal' weapon if it can make your skin feel like it was 'dipped in molten lava'. I just hoped its never used as a form of torture. For more information about it, read the article.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Article: '9 out of 10 e-mails now spam' reports: "Criminal gangs using hijacked computers are behind a surge in unwanted e-mails peddling sex, drugs and stock tips. ... The number of 'spam' messages has tripled since June and now accounts for as many as nine out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide, according to U.S. email security company Postini."

That is a lot of spam. I know I have recently seen my spam folder increase in size by about a third.

My question, are we going to be reading soon that 99 out of 100 emails is spam.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Video: Haxx0r Flakes

Are you a n00b who wants to be an L33t Haxx0r, then you need to eat Haxx0r Flakes...

Video: OLPC User Interface Demo

This video demos the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child, aka "Hundred Dollar Laptop") User Interface (using an emulator). It's pretty unconventional and worth having a look.

Video: Innovative supermarket in China

What do you get when you cross a roller coaster with a supermarket? Watch the video below to find out.

Cool Web Sites

Below are some cool Web sites that I found that you can check out:
  • 10 Minute Mail (Gives you an anonymous email that lasts for 10-minutes, great for sites that require you to register with an email address.)
  • (Create free phone conferences with your friends, family and colleagues.)
  • Media Convert (Convert files from one format to another)
  • ResizR (Resize your images)
  • NutritionData (Find nutritional data on different product)
  • Montastic (A free website monitoring service)
  • Protopage (A Web 2.0 start page site)

Popups Must Die

Popups Must Die

Article: Sweatshops: The Ultimate Botnet?

"Pay people 2 cents an hour to click on ads and spam blogs. Computers should make most of these jobs obsolete. ... Every now and then you read stories about how people in the Third World are being paid to perform repetitive tasks to assist in fraudulent Internet schemes."

I have read all sorts of weird stuff, but this is a new one on me. These are human sweatshop botnets where people in third world countries are paid a small amount of money to perform repetitive tasks that used to be done by computers.

I am assuming that the criminals had to go to low cost labor to get around the technology stopgaps that were put in place to stop this stuff from happening. For example, I am manually approve all comments to this blog, and I have remove all the spam I find.

It always amazes me what people will do for a buck. Is the next big thing going to be exploiting low wage labor in the cyberworlds like 'Second Life' to make stuff?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No WiFi For You

No WiFi For You

The Whole Internet Truth

The Whole Internet Truth

A Sign From Above

A Sign From Above

Article: The "Unlocked Phones" Ruling: The Facts (Gearlog)

Gearlog reports: "As a Thanksgiving present to American consumers, the US copyright office last week recommended that Americans be allowed to unlock their cell phones. This is so enticing, so exciting, and so confusing, that I thought I'd give a little rundown on what it actually does and doesn't mean."

This is great news for cellular consumers. The nice thing about the ruling is that it gives you the right to go to a third party to get your phone unlocked legally.

Personal, several months ago after being with my carrier for almost a year I requested the code to unlock my phone and they complied without any problems. So the ruling is a small victory, but none the less a victory.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Equinox - It Runs on Water (Free Energy - 1995)

Here is a except about video (Note: I didn't write this.): "On Sunday, 17 December 1995, viewers in U.K. saw an hour-long T V. program which, at long last, puts across the clear message that "free energy" is on the way.

In the opening stages Arthur C. Clarke explained how there were four stages in the way scientists react to the development of anything of a revolutionary nature. "Free energy" was now working its way through these four stages of reaction, which were:

a: "It's nonsense,"
b: "It is not important,"
c: "I always said it was a good idea," and
d: "I thought of it first."

The scene moved to Rome, Georgia where Jim Griggs of Hydrodynamics, Inc. demonstrated the assembly and operation of a "hydrosonic water pump" which operated over-unity by producing hot water or steam with energy in excess of the electrical energy input to the pump motor. "Over-unity" was confirmed by satisfied customers, including the Albany Fire Station, where engineers from the "local university" and the "local power company" had been called in to verify the over-100% efficiency."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The PS3 Aftermath: Scams, Violence, Supply and More...

I have been going back through some of the recent news archives from various sources about the PlayStation 3 (PS3) launch. I found an amazing array of stories of people getting scammed, robbed, abused and more.

Below are links and excerpts to some of the stories that I found. This list is not complete but it does give a sample of the stories that are available if you look for them:

Short Supply
Originally Sony said it was going to ship 400,000 unit to the US in 2006, then changed its story and cut the supply in half. This caused major havoc in the supply chain.
Failed Systems
Its seems like some of the new PS3 systems that were shipped were DOA (Dead on Arrival), or had some failing parts. I wonder if Sony will have enough systems replace the failed units in a timely manor?
eBay Scams
New PS3s have been selling for thousands of dollars on eBay buy people trying to make a quick profit on these systems. Some of the scams are almost funny, but like anything its buyer beware. Remember: make sure that you carefully read the description on any eBay sales, its basically a contract between you and the seller.
  • Example 1: Someone buys 3 original PlayStations (NOT three PlayStation 3's) for USD$900 dollars. No Controllers or Games included.
  • Example 2: Someone paid USD$1100 to buy the contact information of someone who might be selling a PS3.
  • Example 3: Someone bought a picture of the PS3 for $840 Canadian dollars.
Both buyers and sellers could have lost more then their PS3s, they could have lost their lives. Its amazing what people will steal, or do if they can make any money off of it.
Strange Stories
Below are just strange stories about people trying to buy PS3s, and some of the lengths they went to. Some of these stories are just craziness in my opinion humble opinion.

Video: Patrick Stewart Alphabet

This video show Patrick Stewart in full custom singing a vaudeville type alphabet song, while aboard the bridge of the Enterprise. You almost expect it to be one those clips that are thrown together from fragments of the show but its not. Enjoy...

Video: Full-Length Harry Potter Trailer

A full-length trailer of the new Harry Potter film is now available for you to watch. The movie is due for release in July 2007.

Video: Kids Magic Trick

Here is a simple magic trick that you can teach your kids. The great thing is that all it requires is:
  • Bowl of water
  • Pepper
  • A drop of liquid dish soap

Consumer Reports: The Best Places to Buy Stuff

Consumer Reports: " One of Consumer Reports’ greatest strengths is the ability to tap into experiences of hundreds of thousands of serious shoppers on subjects as diverse as restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, and theme parks. Year after year, our Annual Questionnaire provides fodder for some of the best-read stories in the magazine and on our Web site, in which we rate the stores and services people rely on day-in and day-out. "

Here is an article to checkout before you go shopping for your holiday gifts.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving....

To all my readers here in the USA, I just want to say to you 'Happy Thanksgiving...' to you...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Microsoft Zune Review

ExtremeTech reports: "I'm not sure who's 'fault' it is, but the Zune has been all over the web for the past several weeks. As soon as it became known that Microsoft was preparing its own portable media device and service, the phrase 'iPod Killer' was attached to it. Whatever Microsoft's intentions, it was going toe-to-toe with a well-established product that absolutely dominates the portable media category. In one fell swoop, Microsoft is now expected to somehow de-throne the iPod. It has to offer all the iPod's features and more, at the same or lower price. It needs to look better, work better, offer better content, shine your shoes, walk your dog, and prepare your taxes. Anything else is an abject failure. Or is it?"

This is the best and most complete review of Microsoft's new Zune media player I have read so far. Most of the praise and criticism is very balance which I appreciate from any news source.

Photos: Legos, from the factory to you

CNET reports "They're just small, brightly colored pieces of plastic, right? Wrong. Legos are enduringly popular toy bricks and more that for a half-century have fueled the imaginations of everyone from preschoolers to craft-minded adults. The sign on this wall at a Lego store in New Jersey sums it up in just four words: What will you make?"

It seems like the Lego Group, based in Billund, Denmarkis going through some tough times right now. They're moving manufacturing to countries where labor is less expensive, and they have sold off their Legoland amusement parks.

Article: The Geek's Guide to Holiday Gift-Giving

eWEEK Labs analysts put together a slide show of products that they recommend for making your working live merry and bright. Anyone want to buy me a "Microsphere M2 Workstation"?

Article: The 13 Most Embarrassing Web Moments

PC World reports: "The Internet is the most efficient information distribution system ever known. But if you're not careful, it's also the perfect way to embarrass yourself in front of the entire world."

Some of these are interesting, but I would not say they're the best choices. I will have to do some research and post my own list.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Video: Male Restroom Etiquette

All men of the world can find common ground in these simple rules of "evacuation" etiquette.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Article; Need a place to crash? Try a stranger's couch reports: "Jim Stone, a 29-year-old from west Texas, has been traveling nonstop since March of 2004. ... Sometimes in a pickup truck and other times on a motorcycle, he's trekked through much of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. But he's slept in a hotel just one night over that stretch of nearly 1,000. ... That's because Stone is part of a growing network of people online who've gone a step beyond hotels, hostels and even apartment swapping in their travel planning: They sleep on each others' couches."

Looking for a cheap places to stay when you travel, read this article. If you're looking for cheap travel, check out the wonderful world of Freighter Travel

Video: Take an in-depth look at the Microsoft Zune

CNET reports: "The Microsoft Zune, with its intuitive interface and solid playback performance, will please most users. But lukewarm format support and the cool, but limited Wi-Fi capability will have advanced users seeking more. The Zune is a very good start, though. CNET's James Kim takes a look."

This is the first balanced report that I have seen that doesn't just trash the Zune just because it's from Microsoft. I have made it clear in the past that I am no iPod lover, but I will say its one of those devices that really changed, define, and legitimized the MP3 market.

Video: Laptop Battery Explodes

"We intentionally created conditions in which the Li-ON battery pack would explode inside a generic portable. The results are dramatic. There are numerous conditions where these fires can occur in real life. Faulty battery packs (driving the recalls), faulty protection circuits inside the PC, exposure to excessive heat, and blunt force are some of the major ways that this could happen to you."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sci Fi Talent Agency

Have you ever wondered where they come up with the characters for sci-fi shows and movies?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Article: Sun Pours Out Java Cup

eWeek reports: "Sun on Nov. 13 released at all versions of Java-Standard, Enterprise and Micro Edition-under GNU GPL (General Public License) Version 2.0. ... 'This undoubtedly is the largest single open-source contribution in the history of IT,' Rich Green"

Today is an historic day for the Java programming language...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Joke: BlueScreen Screen Saver v3.2

Looking for a good harmless practical joke to play on your friends, install the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) screen saver. Also make sure to check out my other article 'Harmless Computer Practical Jokes'.

"One of the most feared colors in the NT world is blue. The infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) will pop up on an NT system whenever something has gone terribly wrong. Bluescreen is a screen saver that not only authentically mimics a BSOD, but will simulate startup screens seen during a system boot.
  • On NT 4.0 installations it simulates chkdsk of disk drives with errors!
  • On Win2K and Windows 9x it presents the Win2K startup splash screen, complete with rotating progress band and progress control updates!
  • On Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 it present the XP/Server 2003 startup splash screen with progress bar!
Bluescreen cycles between different Blue Screens and simulated boots every 15 seconds or so. Virtually all the information shown on Bluescreen's BSOD and system start screen is obtained from your system configuration - its accuracy will fool even advanced NT developers. For example, the NT build number, processor revision, loaded drivers and addresses, disk drive characteristics, and memory size are all taken from the system Bluescreen is running on.

Bluescreen runs on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 9x (it requires DirectX)."

Video: Cutest Cat Video Ever...

A complination of kittens and cats doing funny things.

Video: "Office Space" Recut

The movie 'Office Space' has been recut into a slasher/thriller trailer. Seems like someone took one too many staplers from Milton.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Article: Microsoft Zune Review

PC Magazine reports: "The Microsoft Zune ($249.99 list) is a shot across iPod's bow. I got a first-hand look at the Toshiba-built, Microsoft-designed digital music player and the associated software and supporting Web site and all I can say is 'Wow.'"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Article: Woz highlights celebration of Apple's history

CNET reports: "If there's one machine that more than any other shaped the future of the computer business, it almost surely is the Apple I. ... And what do you get when you bring together four of the Apple I team members--including Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak--behind that groundbreaking computer? A lovefest."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Video: Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments II - The Domino Effect

The guys from EepyBird are back, with 251 bottles of Diet Coke and over 1,500 Mentos mints. In Experiment #137, they did a mint-powered version of the Bellagio fountains. This time, it's one giant Coke & Mentos chain reaction that has to be seen to be believed.

If you don't know about these guys, check out their first video.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Video: Microsoft's Zune zooms into CNET Networks

CNET reports: "Due to launch on November 14, the Zune is Microsoft's addition to the growing portable MP3 player market. Today, we got the chance to try one out before they hit store shelves."

For more information, check out

Air Force To Set Up Cyberspace Command

PC Magaine reports: "The U.S. Air Force plans to set up what could become a major command aimed at safeguarding U.S. military and civilian cyberspace, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said on Thursday. ... Wynne, speaking at a military communications and intelligence conference, said U.S. vulnerabilities in cyberspace included financial networks, satellite communications, and radar and navigational jamming."

I think I would like to work for a place like this...

Article: PlayStation 3 shines in prelaunch test

CNET reports: "I'm standing in a room full of gamers in what must certainly feel to some like heaven: Sony's PlayStation 3 prelaunch press event. ... From the street, it's not clear why such an event would matter, but inside, on two floors filled almost literally to the rafters with high-definition TVs and PS3s, it's obvious that this is the center of the video game universe today. And that's borne out by the fact that nearly every important American video game journalist is on hand."

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) will be launched 11/17. If you have $500-600 burning a hole in your pocket here is a place to spend it.

Best Funny Commercials: The Sequel

A little while ago did article called 'Top 10 Best Commercials of All Time', now I am doing its sequel. These are some great commercials that were not mention in the original article either because I forgot about them or I didn't know they existed.

Warning: Some of these commercials can be tasteless, or borderline obscene. Viewer discretion is advised.
Honorable Mentions

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Article: Intel's Quad-Core CPU (codenamed Kentsfield) Arrives...and Delivers

PC Magazine reports: "Intel still has something of the killer instinct it once had, that paranoia that ex-CEO Andy Grove proclaimed frequently. So today, Intel is launching the Core 2 Extreme Q6700 quad-core processor. Built using two Core 2 Duo dies, the QX6700 is essentially two dual-core CPUs in a single package. This allows it to look like a single processor, which is important for operating system licensing. Microsoft counts the sockets, not the number of cores, in Windows licensing."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Security Watch: RFID-enabled credit card theft -

CNET reports: "There's that old expression that waving money around only tempts thieves. Now, the multimillion-dollar RFID smart-card industry has made waving around your credit (and your credit history) that much easier for thieves to steal. New contactless credit cards, which use RFID technology, broadcast your credit information to credit card readers, so thieves, using equipment that costs less than $200, can now eavesdrop on the wireless transmission."

The convenience of the new RFID credit cards are not worth the security risks associated with them. To me, waving my card in front of an RFID card reader requires the same time and energy as swiping it through a standard card reader.

I don't see the convenience advantages of these cards. So the real question is why would I want to use an RFID credit card that could easily allow someone to steal my information?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Article: Scientists Create Cloak of Partial Invisibility reports: "Scientists have created a cloaking device that can reroute certain wavelengths of light, forcing them around objects like water flowing around boulders in a stream. To creatures or machines that see only in microwave light, the cloaked object would appear nearly invisible. ... 'The microwaves come in and are swept around the cloak and reconstructed on the other side while avoiding the interior region,' said study team member David Smith at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering. 'So it looks as if they just passed through free space.'"

The Life and Death of a Pumpkin...

A cherished holiday from a new and horrible perspective. Brought to you by Blame Society Productions.

WINNER: Best Short Film and Best Concept, 2006 Chicago Horror Film Festival, October (Chicago, IL).

Happy Halloween...

Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager (Episode 4)

If you have not yet already watched "Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager" episodes 1-3, you may want to watch them to get the background story. I have included links to these videos below:
Episode 4
The continuing story of Chad Vader. Chad is Darth Vader's less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother, who is the day shift manager at a local a grocery store. In this episode it's Chad Vader's first evening as the night shift manager, but major changes are to come.

Chad Vader 5 Update
Matt and Aaron talk about the upcoming Chad Vader episode and read more viewer comments.

Building Your Own Stonehenge

Wally Wallington has demonstrated that he can lift a Stonehenge-sized pillar weighing 22,000 lbs and moved a barn over 300 ft. What makes this so special is that he does it using only himself, gravity, and his incredible ingenuity.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Article: IBM Uses 'Veins' of Water, Thermal Paste to Cool Chips

ExtremeTech reports: "IBM said Thursday that it had developed two methods to cool the surface of its chips, both based on networks of tiny channels used to funnel thermally-conductive substances."

As computers go faster and faster, they generate more and more heat. So people are having to invent better ways for cooling these chips, first they used heatsinks, then added fans, then have progressed to liquid cooling. IBM has taken heatsinks and liquid cooling to the next level with their technology.

Historical note: The Cray-2 used an inert substance called Fluorinert for cooling its processors. Fluorinert, was developed by 3M as a blood plasma replacement, it was also featured in the movie the Abyss where a mouse was immersed in a cup and could apparently breathe in it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Photo Gallery: Office and computer pranks

TechRepublic reports: "What better way to welcome back coworkers from an extended vacation than an amusing practical joke? Whether you enjoy the simple elegance of filling someone's cubical with balloons, appreciate the effort required to cover an office with tin foil, or the comedic brilliance of growing grass on a keyboard, this gallery photo gallery will tickle your funny bone and keep you looking over your shoulder? You'll be glad these office pranksters didn't target you."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Article: Toshiba Releases Pocket-size Projector

PC Magazine reports: "What weighs just over a pound, nearly fits in the palm of your hand, and was just introduced by Toshiba? If you answered 'Toshiba's new mobile projector,' you're right. The TDP-FF1AU, from Toshiba America Information Systems Digital Products Division, weighs 1.1 pounds, measures 2.2 by 5.5 by 4.0 inches (HWD), and comes with a lithium-ion battery pack that adds 0.6 pounds and just 0.8 inches to the depth. According to Toshiba, the battery pack is good for 2 hours of viewing. If you need more than that, you can use the power cord."

Personally I would love to play with one of these devices just to see how well it works. I can think of a lot of cool applications for such a device.

For example: My Dell Axim 51v, can put out a 640x480 VGA signal. So I could put a video on SD card or a CF microdrive and have a totally portable movie projection system.

Article: Google Copies Rollyo's Business Plan, Inserts AdSense

Google Watch reports: "Google unveiled today a new customizable search engine that can be added to any Web site. The new service, called Google Custom Search Engine and built off the Google Co-op technology, will ostensibly help publishers attune search experiences to their specific audiences while giving Google more inventory on which to place its AdSense advertisements."

Steve Bryant did a great review of the Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE). I am still playing with the technology to say whether I really like it or I dislike it. Although, what I have seen of it so far I like.

GCSE allows you to create a 'search container' (this is what I am calling it) of sites that you can limit your search to. For example: I can create a search engine of just my blogs (IMHO, and Windows Tip of the Day) that I can make available for anyone to search. I can also limit any search results on my GCSE site to the content from just those sites.

Video: First Look at the Nintendo Wii

CNET does a quick preview of the Nintendo Wii features, games and controller. Its a next generation console with lots of old school game play (it can play lots of games from several older consoles)...

Note: the Wii going to be released November 19th for $250...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Article: Sony Unveils PlayStation 3 and Game Details

PC Magazine reports: "San Francisco -- Calling it 'future proof' and the only true 'next-generation' game console, Sony today took the wraps off of its new PlayStation 3. .. Although there was lots of game play and many demos, the focus of the launch was more on the Internet-based capabilities and what else you could do with the console, like playing movies, music, and photos."

This is the best information that I have seen on the PS3 to date.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Article: Obedient driver follows orders, crashes car reports: "A German motorist followed the command 'Turn right now!' from his navigation system and crashed into a small toilet hut by the side of the road -- about 30 yards before the crossing he was meant to take."

I would love to see how he explains this to his insurance company. The problem is he is not the only one who has done this. I think these people are taking the commands from the navigation system too literally.

Article: Firefox 2.0 Scheduled For Release on Tuesday

PC Magazine reports: "The Mozilla Foundation will release the Firefox 2.0 browser on Tuesday, Mozilla Foundation officials confirmed Monday. ... The new release promises several new features, as well as a solution to a annoying memory leak that has troubled earlier versions, according to Mozilla."

I have been playing with the release candidate of this browser for a few weeks now. It has some nice new features, but their not revolutionary.

I have one major complaint about this version of Firefox, several of my favorite extensions stopped working. So be prepared to be disappointed here.

Personally, I believe that the ideas for most of the new features in the browser were borrowed from the more popular extensions. Below is a list of some of the new features:
  • Phishing filter warns you when you're visiting a fake web site.
  • A new search feature that displays suggestions as you type your search request.
  • A session manager that restores the windows and tabs you had opened before a crash.
  • A spelling checker that spell checks your input into web forms.
  • Better RSS support.
To download the new Firefox 2.0 browser go here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Free and Low Cost Office Suites (and other stuff)

In a previous article, I talked about how to create a low cost virtual office. Now I am going to show you where you can find free or low cost office suites for personal or business use.

There are several options available to you. Some of these suites require that they be install on your local computer, and others can be run from within your browser.

Personally I am a big fan of Microsoft Office, and I have a hard time using anything less. The one problem with Office is that its not free or low cost.

If you just have basic word processing needs, such as writing letters to your friends and family, or creating simple spreadsheets or presentations. Then Microsoft Office might be over kill for you, there several other choices available that might be a better fit for your needs.

Out of all the free, low cost, or online office suites available, is the best IMHO. Then after that I would start to look at everything else and see what fits your needs. Whatever you look at, make sure its has the features that you're going to use.

All these tools are pretty good for doing basic things like creating a document, managing numbers, etc. Although, for tasks that are more complicated, you're going to need a real office suite like or Microsoft Office.

Office Suites

Browser Based:
  • ThinkFree: A Java-based browser office suite. Includes word processor, presentation and spreadsheet application.
  • Google Docs & Spreadsheets: An AJAX-based browser office suite. Includes a word processor and spreadsheet application.
  • ZOHO: An AJAX-based browser office suite. Includes a word processor, presentation spreadsheet application, and more.
Software Based:
  • One of the best office suites available. Includes a word processor, presentation and spreadsheet application.
  • AbiWord: A free word processor application.
Drawing and Page Layout:
  • Dia: An open source vector graphic program.
  • GIMP: An open source bit-map drawing program.
  • Scribus: An open source page layout program.
Instant Messaging Client
  • Meebo: A browser based universal instant messaging client. Supports: AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Jabber and GTalk.
  • Trillian: If you have multiple accounts across several IM services this is a great IM client. Supports: AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.
Email/Calendar/Contact Manager

Browser Based:Software Based:
  • Thunderbird: An e-mail client, with spam filtering.
  • Sunbird: Calendaring with a task manager.
Other Useful Stuff...
Below are some extra resources that you may need in your day-to-day activities.

  • GnuCash: Personal and small-business financial-accounting software.
  • Free Templates: Free label templates for: Avery, CDs, address, mailing, shipping, etc.
  • 1001 Free Fonts: Thousands of free fonts are available for download.
  • Need information about a word or subject, this site includes dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia (uses Wikipedia), and more.
  • Currency Converter: Lookup current exchange rates for just about any currency.
  • Martindale's Reference Desk: A great collection of links to different types of references available on the web.
  • Martindale's On-Line Calculators: A great collection of links to different types of calculators available on the web.
  • RefDesk: A great collection of reference resources that are available on the Web.
  • Unit Converter: Convert just about any numerical data from one unit type to another.
  • World Clock: A web-based world time clock.
  • Yearly Calendar: A web-based yearly calendar.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

GPS Crazyiness (Video)

"Gizmodo hooks up four GPS devices at the same time, ends up with a maelstrom of voices and a nightmarish conclusion. See the Garmin c550 StreetPilot,Cobra NavOne 4500, Mio C710 DigiWalker and Honda Civic Hybrid's GPS Navi in action."

Article: Scientists teleport two different objects reports: "Beaming people in 'Star Trek' fashion is still in the realms of science fiction, but physicists in Denmark have teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality."

Scientists in Denmark are playing with technology that is going to take us one baby step closer toward Star Trek like transporters. They figured out how to teleport billions of atoms from one location to another (about 18 inches) using technology they call 'entanglement.' The technology they developed uses light, quantum mechanics, and magnetism.

Sun's Project Blackbox (Portable Data Center)

Sun created a new concept called 'Project Blackbox', which is a portable data center using an ordinary 20' shipping container. This product is optimized to deliver energy savings, space savings, and provide performance efficiencies.

Inside the shipping contain is 8' 18" standard racks, cable trays, cooling and lights. All you have to do is add: water (for cooling), 200 kilowatts of power, and network bandwidth and you're ready to go.

Quote Of The Week

"Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug" -- John Lithgow

Are you messy enough? (Blog)

From UNEASYsilence: "Who said being messy didn't pay off? We are looking for the messiest, grimiest, just god awful pig sty of a setup out in computerland. We aren't talking about wires behind your desk that are not properly tie wrapped. We want to see Mountain Dew stains on the carpet, furniture made out of shipping boxes, moldy food, the worse the better."

And the winner is...

Also make sure to check out their Flickr site of submission.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 is now available...

Microsoft just made Internet Explorer 7 available for download. This is the latest version of the IE browser, and its only for Windows XP SP2 . If you're running an earlier version of the Windows OS, you're out of luck.

This is the first major release of the IE browser since Windows XP was introduced back in 2001. It includes a radically different interface, with a lot of great new features and other improvements.

Some of the new improvements in the browser include: security protection, a redesigned user interface, and a development platform. Below is a high level list of the major new features:
  • Phishing Filter (reports if a web site is not who it really is)
  • RSS Reader (allows you to read RSS feeds in the browser)
  • Tabbed browsing (open multiple web pages in a single window)
  • Toolbar search box (quickly search from the toolbar)
  • Advanced printing (optimized web page printing)
  • Security Status Bar (displays different colors in the status bar to notify you how safe the web site might be)
  • Privacy Cleaner (quickly deletes your browser cache, cookies, and other data that might contain personal information)
  • And more...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hands on the Wii

CNET reports: "I'm sitting in a conference room here at CNET Networks' headquarters, playing a baseball game on a Nintendo Wii in which the players look like little more than rudimentary Lego people."

The Nintendo Wii has taken a radically different approach to creating their next generation game console. Instead of fancy HD graphics, they're going old school and designing games that are fun to play.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Changing the World with Your Screen Saver

Do you want to help cure cancer and other diseases? By installing special screen savers on your computer, you can donate your spare computing cycles to cure AIDS, cancer and solve other more complex problems.

The screen saver utilizes the unused processing power of your computer, as a part of a large distributed computing cluster. These clusters can be composed of thousands (or more) of computers working together for a common goal. The way these large clusters work is each computer downloads a small part of a larger problem, and computes the data and sends the results back to the master computer.

Below is a list of some of the projects that are available:
  • Stands for 'Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing', here is a brief list of some of the current projects:, Seasonal Attribution Project, BBC Climate Change Experiment.
  • Searches for treatments for Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and other related diseases.
  • Searches for treatments for cancers, and other diseases.
  • SETI@home: Analyze radio telescope data in the search for extraterrestrial life.
  • Searches for treatments for cancers, and other diseases.
To donate your spare computing cycles. All you have to do is download the software, set how much of your systems resources that you want to donate, then leave your computer alone.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lightning exits woman's bottom reports: "A WOMAN has suffered severe burning to her anus after being struck by lightning which hit her in the mouth and passed right through her body."

Put this article in the reality is stranger then fiction file...

MIT Sketch Board of the Future

Here is MIT's version of the sketch board of the future. Its pretty advanced, but at the same time its a technology that is in its infancy.

Jeep drives across water

Those wild and wacky Icelanders are at it again, now they're driving nitrous enhanced custom 4x4 across the water. It just proves Tim the Toolman Taylor's theory if you throw enough power at something, you can make it happen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

PCI Express 2.0 nears completion

CNET reports: "A two-month clock has begun ticking for the release of PCI Express 2.0, an update designed to help the ubiquitous computer communication technology with virtualization, power management and high-end graphics cards."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Article: 'P2P TV' Streams Live U.S. TV Channels Over The Internet

PC Magazine reports: "Fans of the Oakland Athletics baseball team were in a quandary this week: due to Major League Baseball's scheduling preference for East Coast teams, games featuring the A's were shown during work hours, in the mornings and afternoons on the West Coast."

It seems that there is a popular trend in Asia (that will probably spill over into other regions) of illegally streaming TV channels from all around the world over the Internet.

I once read that BitTorrent traffic was consuming a large majority of the Internet bandwidth. I believe the traffic that these applications will generate will only make things worse as they get more popular...

Article: Why Microsoft's Zune scares Apple to the core

ComputerWorld reports: "Apple fans assume iPod will face Zune in the market, mano a mano, like other media players. But that's not the case. Zune will be supported and promoted and will leverage the collective power of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Soapbox (Microsoft's new "YouTube killer") and the Xbox 360."

I have made it clear in the past that I am no iPod fan. Its a great device, but I can't stand the cult following it has. All I am going to say is that its a glorified MP3 player, and get over it.

Microsoft's Zune has a few cool features that the current generation of iPods don't have. Such as a larger screen, and WiFi.

Personally one thing I like about the Zune's DRM is the subscription feature that allows you to download all the music you want. If I have to have DRM encoded files, I would prefer an 'all-I-can-eat' package. That way if I don't want the device anymore, I am not stuck with a lot of music I can't listen to at a later date. Then if there's some music I really want, I will buy the CD.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Best Star Trek Fan Films

Did you know that there are a several great Star Trek fan made movies and shows spinoffs. Some are based on the original Star Trek series, and others take different spins on the franchise.

Most of these shows have great special effects, sets, and sound. The hard part about watching them for me is to get over the acting, but I believe they're doing the best job that they can (I know I can't do better, so who am I to criticize).

Below is a list of some of the series that are available:
  • Starship Exeter (based on TOS): A story of the U.S.S. Exeter, crew and commander by Captain John Garrovick.
  • Starship Farragut (based on TOS): A story of the crew of the U.S.S. Farragut (NCC-1647), a Constitution class starship under the command of John T. Carter.
  • Star Trek: Hidden Frontier (based on TNG): A story of the crew of the starship Excelsior and its home base Deep Space 12.
  • Star Trek: Intrepid: Federation and Merchant Service efforts to colonize a sparse region of space far from the Federation core.
  • Star Trek: New Voyages (based on TOS): Trying to complete the original series five-year mission of the Enterprise crew. Note: Walter Koenig (played Chekov [TOS]) and George Takei (played Sulu [TOS]) guest starred in episodes.
  • U.S.S. Hathaway (based on TOS): Takes place during the same time period of events in Star Trek II and III.
  • Star Wreck: A series of Finnish parody movies.
For more information, check out this Wikipedia article.

40 Years of Star Trek...

Star Trek is now 40 years old. I remember watching the Original Series in re-runs as a kid, and really enjoying it. In fact it inspired my love for Sci-Fi.

When I was younger I was a hard core Star Trek geek, but then as I got older I toned down my adoration for the series. I still enjoy it, but now I don't need to know all the trivia about it.

Confessions of a Star Trek Geek:
I have watched every single Star Trek movie ever created, and some even more then once (can you say 'The Wrath of Khan'). I also hated Star Trek V 'The Final Frontier', like the majority of fans of the series.

I have watched every single episode of the original series more then once, including the cartoon. I believe I have seen all the episodes of the Next Generation.

I have watch most (well at least three quarters) of the Deep Space 9 episodes, but I have not watched all the Voyager episodes (I think I have only seen half at the most). I also have missed the majority of episodes from the Enterprise series.

Auction at Christie's
Christie's is holding an auction from Oct. 5-7, in honor of the anniversary of Star Trek. This is the first official studio auction of memorabilia from all five Star Trek television series and ten movie spinoffs.
Your 2-Cents
If you have any comments (such as your favorite Star Trek movie or TV series) that you would like to add to this article please post them. I would really enjoy reading them.

Article: Danish Scientists Teleport Light, Matter

PC Magazine reports: "Beaming people in Star Trek fashion is still in the realms of science fiction but physicists in Denmark have teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality."

I see these articles popup every few years, but I haven't seen any real fruit from the technology.

I want Star Trek like transporters and I want them now. :-)

Article: Star Trek XI: What We Know |

TwitchGuru reports: "If we face up to facts, we must admit that Star Trek has fallen by the wayside of late. The quality of recent movies has ranged from dubious to dire, and for the first time in nearly two decades, there are no new Star Trek TV episodes in production."

This is the latest information that I know about for Star Trek XI...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Internet Privacy is an Oxymoron

Sun Microsystems Inc. Chairman of the Board of Directors Scott McNealy once said, "You have no privacy, get over it." That statement is more true today, then when it was originally said. Everyday, we are losing more of our ability and rights to protect our privacy.

Did you know that there is no such thing as true anonymity or privacy on the Internet? All you can do is mask your identity, and make it difficult for someone to know who you are. Although, in most cases its still possible for someone to track and identify you with enough work.

There is a lot of information about you that is leaked by your own personal Internet activities (such as surfing a web site, posting on forums, etc.). Then your computer and its applications (such as your browser, IM client, etc.) are doing their own fair share to help leak more information.

Anything that contains your name, address, etc. Is known as 'personally-identifiable information' (PII), because it can personally identify you directly. This information is generally provided by you to some web site or service (such as Amazon, eBay, etc.) that you may use regularly.

Any of the information (PII or not) is used to profile how you surf the web, what you buy, and other types of demographic analysis. All most all of this tracking is perfectly legal, and you even grant companies permission to do this when you agree to use a web site through its 'terms of service' or 'privacy policy' that you don't read.

Information Leaked by your Applications
As I said earlier, when you visit a web site there is certain types of information about you that is revealed by your computers applications. A lot of this information (such as your browser cookies) are needed by web-based applications to be able to customize your experience.

Below is a brief list of some of the information a web site can know about you, just by visiting it with a regular browser and Internet connection:
  • The type of browser you're using, a long with information about its features. For example: what version of: Java, JavaScript, Flash and other applications you have installed (see: BroswerSpy).
    • This doesn't include the information in the HTTP header, which includes information about your browser and the web page you requested from a web site (see the following article for more information).
    • There is information in the HTTP header called the 'referer', that also gives the web site your visiting, the last URL of the web site you're coming from. Here is an example, of some of the information a site can see about you.
  • Browser cookies and web beacons (an invisible 1x1 graphic on a web page with a unique id embedded in to its name), which can be used identify your computer across different web sites. This technology is generally used by advertising and marketing companies to track and profile your browsing activity to better serve you ads.
    • As more web sites become interactive, browser cookies are used to track your web site session information. If you turn off the cookie feature, you can prevent certain web sites from working properly for you.
    • Web beacons have been used by spammers to track if you open up an email message, and to see if a email address is valid. Although, most modern email clients prevent images from being downloaded automatically which help prevent information about you from being leaked.
  • Your browser keeps local copies of all the web pages you visited in its cache, along with a history of all the URLs you visited. Some browser's like Firefox keep track of the files you downloaded, and the keywords you typed into the search toolbar. Then there is the saved forms information (known as AutoComplete in IE), and saved password feature. This information is used to improve the broswer's user experience, but also can become a privacy issue in some cases.
Then there is all your other Internet applications such as your e-mail client, instant message client, VoIP client, etc. Each of these programs have their own type of logging or privacy issues, that you might be or might not be aware of.

For example, your instant message client may keep logs of all your conversations. Your e-mail client, keeps all the messages that you received and sent. Your VoIP client keeps a log of all the calls that you make.

Even if you clean all this information off your local computer, your application's service provider has logs and/or copies of it in their servers and databases. Its not uncommon for them to use this information to profile usage habits of their users. All this information is also available to local and federal law enforcement generally with the use of a search warrant.

Generally, no matter what network enabled application your using, the following information is always going to be left about you on some server somewhere.
  • Once someone knows your computer's IP address, its possible to isolate the ISP, and therefore the city, state/province, and country your computer's from (see: IP Address Locator).
    • Local and federal law enforcement with the use of a search warrant can force the ISP to release your identity, based on your computer's IP address.
  • When you visit a web site, information is stored in the web server logs of the time you visited the site, your IP address, which pages you viewed, and sometimes what you searched for on that site (see: Omniture).
    • Think about this, all your favorite search engines keep all the information that you searched. If you have a personal account on a site like Google, Yahoo, etc., they can directly tie this information back to you.
    • For example: "On August 4, 2006, AOL released three months of search history for 650,000 users to the public. Although the searchers were only identified by a numeric ID, the New York Times discovered the identity of several searchers." (excerpt from the Wikipedia)
  • Anytime you visit a web site using it's domain name your computer needs to lookup the IP address of the remote server through some DNS server request. This information is then logged on that computer.
  • When you're at work, and you search the Internet your companies web proxies and firewall can track all types of Internet activity. Plus in the U.S.A. any information on your computer, or in your e-mail is property of the company.
Digital Forensics
With all the data stored on computers these days, a new area of computer criminal science has been created called 'digital forensics'. These are law enforcement personnel specially trained to find and retrieve specific information off a computer.

The tools that these people use are good at extracting the data they want. Generally the programs we use everyday are really good at leaving digital bread crumbs all over your computer's hard drive about everything that you do. These digital forensics tools are designed to leverage this information

On a side note, about digital forensics tools. Did you know that by using a pattern analysis program you can predict if something was written by a man or a women with almost 70% accuracy.

The way this technology works is by analyzing the words used in a message and assigns different values to them to determine if the text was written by a man or women. More information can also be determined by your writing style beside gender, such as your nationality based on the words that you use.

To see this tool in action, check out Gender Guesser or Gender Genie. With technology like this, it means that any of those anonymous posting or e-mail you might have created are becoming a lot less anonymous.
Note: This technology was created by Dr. Neal Krawetz of Hacker Factor Solutions.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Inside Google's Manhattan Office

eWeek takes you inside Google's Manhattan Office. It seems like a cool place to work...

Article: Core 2 Extreme Quad E6700 Performance

ExtremeTech reports "Earlier this week, Intel announced the Core 2 Extreme Quad processor (code-named Kentsfield), a single-socket processor built with two Core 2 CPU dies. The two dies are connecting via a 1066MHz (effective) front-side-bus (FSB). Intel claims that the 1066MHz FSB will have more than enough bandwidth to feed both cores, even in heavy operation."

These are first bench marks that I seen about the new Core 2 Extreme Quad processor.

Article: Firefox Zero-Day Code Execution Hoax?

eWeek reports: "A public claim by hackers that Mozilla's Firefox browser is vulnerable to multiple code execution vulnerabilities may be an overblown hoax."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Article: Hackers claim zero-day flaw in Firefox

CNET reports: "The open-source Firefox Web browser is critically flawed in the way it handles JavaScript, ... An attacker could commandeer a computer running the browser simply by crafting a Web page that contains some malicious JavaScript code, Mischa Spiegelmock and Andrew Wbeelsoi said in a presentation at the ToorCon hacker conference here. The flaw affects Firefox on Windows, Apple Computer's Mac OS X and Linux, they said."

It just goes to show that no browser is completely safe from programming flaws, even our beloved Firefox...

Article: Silicon vs. CIGS: With solar energy, the issue is material

CNET reports: "The booming solar industry is in the midst of an argument over which material will become dominant in the future for harvesting sunlight and turning it into electricity. Solar panels made from crystalline silicon currently account for more than 90 percent of the solar infrastructure today. ... Panels that harvest energy with CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) cost far less to make and install, say backers."

Crystalline or CIGS, personally I don't care which one wins as long as it's efficient, reliable and low-cost. Right now it seems like CIGS is the winner in theory, but we will have to see what happens. The market place will ultimately decide which one is better.

This article is a good read... Although it might only wet your appetite, and leave you wanting to know more about CIGS. For more information on CIGS check out this site.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Article: Sharp Develops Triple-View LCD

PC Magazine reports: "Japan's Sharp Corp. said on Wednesday it has developed the world's first liquid crystal display (LCD) panel that allows the viewing of three different images on one screen at the same time."

This is a very uniquie display, three people can watch three different TV programs at the same time.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Video: Alan Wake footage on Intel's new Quad Core CPU

See Intel's Core 2 Quad processor (a quad core CPU) in action, its a pretty impressive graphics demo.

Video: How to Talk Like a Pirate

A classroom educational film on the language of Pirate.

Note: The video is a little long (6+ minutes), but its funny. Its also not too work place friendly, so be careful where you watch it (i.e.: no nudity or language, but some in appropriate comments).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Intel Previews Potential Replacement for Flash

eWeek reports: "Intel literally has, in hand, the first prototype of a new type of nonvolatile memory chip that its executives think could someday supplant flash memory and thus change the face of the industries such as cellular phones, music players and possibly even PCs."

Basically the PCM technology can be used as a type of non-volatile NAND (storage) or NOR (code execution) Flash memory replacement. Hopefully this will open up new applications for USB Flash drives, and other technologies...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Allen Brain Atlas (Now online)

Excerpt from the site: "The Allen Brain Atlas (ABA) is an interactive, genome-wide image database of gene expression in the mouse brain. A combination of RNA in situ hybridization data, detailed Reference Atlases and informatics analysis tools are integrated to provide a searchable digital atlas of gene expression. Together, these resources present a comprehensive online platform for exploration of the brain at the cellular and molecular level."

Wired reports: "Scientists have mapped every gene in the mouse brain as part of Paul Allen's Brain Atlas project launched in 2001. While brain maps until now have been similar to a traditional encyclopedia, the Allen Brain Atlas is more like Google Earth."

Intel pledges 80 cores in five years (article)

CNET reports: "Intel has built a prototype of a processor with 80 cores that can perform a trillion floating-point operations per second."

Think about this, if they're able to release desktop computers that can perform 1 TeraFLOP (Trillion Floating-Point Operations Per Second), what will the super computers be able to do?

Intel's Otellini: Terabyte per second (video)

CNET has a video from Intel's Developers Forum where Intel's Otellini announced the Core 2 Quad (quad-core processor) that will be released in Q4 of 2006.

White & Nerdy (Weird Al Music Video)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Protecting Yourself in the Information Age (Free eBook) [beta]

In life you learn how to protect yourself and valuables. Although, when you first start using the Internet no one teaches you how to protect your computer and personal data. Find out how to defend yourself against viruses, spyware, Identity Theft, and more. This book is written for people of all different computer skill levels (from novice to professional).

I am hoping people will give this book to their friends, family, and associates.

Please let me know if this book helps you...

Download my new free eBook:

  • Protecting Yourself in the Information Age (PDF)
    • Notes:
      • This is a pre-released beta version of the eBook, I am seeking comments, corrections, reviews, and any other suggestions. (Use the Send Comments link)
      • If you have a product that you would like me to consider for inclusion in future versions of this eBook please contact me. (Use the Send Comments link)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dance Dance Extreme (now with Fire)

I recently just learned about 'Dance Dance Immolation' (DDI) an art installation at Burning Man 2006 (so I am a little behind the times). DDI is basically DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) with fireproof suits and flamethrowers. If you make a mistake you get flamed, literally. For more information check out this site.

Warning: Do not try this anywhere.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Miniature Linux Devices (article)

LinuxDevices reports: "A small company has begun building its line of tiny, gumstick-sized single-board computers (SBCs) into miniscule packaged PCs that displace around 68 cc of volume and come with Linux pre-installed. Suggested apps for the teeny 'Netstix' Linux PCs include webservers, printer servers, IP-telephony servers, security appliances."

I am really fascinated by the potential applications for these tiny computers, but personally I still need to find a really good application for them before I would buy one. As a file server, they would not have a enough storage. Although, You could turn it into a really cool portable web server that you could put on your network?

Here are the technical specification for the device:
  • 200MHz Intel XScale PXA255
  • 64MB of RAM
  • 16MB of flash memory
  • 10/100 Ethernet port (WiFi is available)
  • Type II CompactFlash (for use with a microdrive)