Monday, February 27, 2006

Life in the Googleplex Photo Essay

Time magazine has an interesting photo essay, it's a day in the life a Google employee at the Googleplex (Google's headquarters). It kind of reminds me of the pre-dot-com boom companies.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Windows OneCare Live

Microsoft recently released a new security subscription service called 'Windows OneCare Live'. This new security service is currently in beta testing phase. Some of new features of the service are: an improved software firewall, anti-virus, data backup and cleanup tools for your computer.

Microsoft also announced the pricing of the new service will be: $49.95 per year to protect three PCs. Currently now while its in beta, its free to try until April 30th.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Google Page Creator

Google recently announced a new service called 'Page Creator' that allows you to create and publish web pages easily. The site claims no technical knowledge is required to use this service.

Although, due to heavy demand they are currently not accepting new accounts right now. If you want, you can add your name to a waiting list by submitting your email address.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The woodpecker that destroyed the world... (Macintosh Security)

If you ever talk to a Mac user about security, they will sing the praises of their operating system. They will let you know how impervious it is too attack. I am exaggerating this point a bit, but there is truth in what I say.

Take for example a close friend of mind who is a Mac user. I am forced to listen to his rhetoric all the time about how much better the Mac is to other OSes.

I will agree that the Mac OS X is a great OS. It has a great GUI, and overall it appears to be fairly secure. I will also give the Mac high marks for being very powerful, and stylish.

Being a Windows user, I run several different layers of security on my home computer, and I make sure that I keep all my software up-to-date. I have been hit by a few viruses over the years, but never had my machine infected or any damage caused by it (Thank God).

I have also cleaned several systems that belong to friends of mine that have been infected by viruses. To be honest, after your system has been compromised by malicious software, you are better off to backup your data, format the hard drive and re-install your OS and applications.

The one big mistake that I have seen companies and individuals make over and over again is a claim that their operating system, application, etc. can't be hacked, or compromised. Fairly soon after the claim has been made, someone generally manages to penetrate these defenses.

For example, Larry Ellison once declared his company's databases were 'unbreakable,' until one day somebody managed to break it. My only point is that if you have a secure product don't flaunt it, it only brings trouble. Hackers love to prove companies wrong very publicly.

I don't have any recollection of Apple ever making any outlandish security claims. Although, as the Mac gains more popularity Apple will need to address its security problems more quickly.

In a fairly recent article from ZDNet, the opening paragraph states: "OS X contains unpatched security flaws of a type that were fixed on alternative operating systems more than a decade ago, according to a security researcher credited with finding numerous bugs in Apple's increasingly popular platform."

There also was an article in CNET "Just a day after experts warned of what is believed to be the first Trojan in the wild to target Apple Computer's Mac OS X, alerts are being published on a new worm that exploits an 8-month-old vulnerability in the operating system."

I want to be fair in saying that most of the attacks that I have seen against Mac OS X have been pretty benign. Although, I really believe that there is a false sense of security in the Mac community about how secure their OS really is.

Just remember, according to Weinberg'’s Second law: 'If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization'

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Will Apple Adopt Windows? (Article)

John C. Dvorak reports: "The idea that Apple would ditch its own OS for Microsoft Windows came to me from Yakov Epstein, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University, who wrote to me convinced that the process had already begun. I was amused, but after mulling over various coincidences, I'm convinced he may be right. This would be the most phenomenal turnabout in the history of desktop computing."

This article will probably have every Mac owner cursing at Dvorak. Personally I don't believe Steve Jobs would ever let it happen. Although, it's an interesting idea...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Software pioneer Bricklin tackles wikis (Article)

CNET reports: "In 1979, Bricklin released VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet for personal computers. Now he's close to finishing the beta for WikiCalc, an open-source, browser-based collaboration tool that mimics the functionality of a spreadsheet while leveraging the technology of wikis, which let anyone, anywhere manipulate data across the Web."

It will be interesting to see if this technology takes off. I think its a great idea, I would like to see how people will use it.

For more information about VisiCalc, check out the following web page. For more information about Wikis, check out the following web page.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Teaser Video

I have no idea where this came from, but its suppose to be a Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 teaser video. I don't think its a real Microsoft video, but its still funny.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

CryptoKids America's Future Codemakers & Codebreakers

The NSA (National Security Agency) has created a kid-friendly website, which uses games and cartoon characters to introduce kids to the exciting world of cryptography.

There are seven CryptoKids, which include Crypto Cat, versed in Navajo; Decipher Dog, a cryptanalyst; Joules, an engineer; Slate, the mathematician; T. Top, the computer scientist; and Rosetta Stone is the language analyst.

New Microchips Shun Transistors (Article)

Wired News reports: "For the first time, researchers have created a working prototype of a radical new chip design based on magnetism instead of electrical transistors."

New transistor-less microchips that use magnetism may one day replace conventional transistor-based chips. Because these devices don't use wires, these chips are suppose to be: faster, smaller, and less power-hungry (which means less heat) when compared to modern microchip technologies.

These devices also have a few advantages over the conventional micro-electronic chips, and that they're suppose to be less susceptible to power fluctuations, and they may also one day allow your computer to boot almost instantly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cool Product of the Week: WashDryIron

Do you like washing your clothes (I don't know anyone that does)? Well technology is getting ready to come to your rescue to make this tedious core much easier.

Oliver Blackwell a University of Plymouth (UK) graduate has created the ultimate washer, dryer, and ironing machine. It's called WashDryIron and it can wash, dry and iron your clothes, up to 16 items at once, including king size bed sheets. Blackwell expects his WashDryIron machine to retail for around US$1,400.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Intel shows off its quad core

CNET reports: "Just as the bragging rights for dual-core chip supremacy are dying down, Intel gave the first glimpse of a quad-core chip coming next year."

First there was the Megahertz/Gigahertz speed war with AMD to see who could produce the fastest CPU. Now, we are entering into the multiple CPU core wars, to see who can put the most cores on a chip.

The only problem with running multiple cores is just because you have the extra cores doesn't guarantee you a huge increase in speed. For example, the speed increase you will get going from one core to two cores will be much greater then what you will get from going from two cores to four cores.

True 3D Display Technology Demonstrated in Japan (Article)

DailyTech reports: "By creating plasma in open air with lasers, Japanese scientists are working on a true 3D display"

This device is not the first of its kind, another company introduced the Helio Displays last year that offer a similar functionality. The article is brief and light on any real details about the device, but is still interesting.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

PC Industry Looks to Transform Firmware

eWeek reports: "In a move that experts say promises to lead to fewer headaches for IT staff by creating more stable and manageable desktops and notebooks, the PC industry has begun transitioning to the United Extensible Firmware Interface. Dubbed UEFI, the interface offers a standardized way for a PC's firmware, the underlying software that controls its hardware, to interact with the operating system. The new interface offers a standard method for loading an operating system, as well as running pre-boot applications."

One of the leftovers from the original IBM PC that's still in most modern personal computers is the system BIOS. The BIOS (which stand for Basic Input Output System) is what your computer uses to load the OS into memory after it is turned on.

The technology that the current BIOSs is based on is more then 20 years old, in PC time that is prehistoric. The new UEFI specification will allow the creation of new features that's not available in modern the BIOS.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Google's new version of Gmail (Video)

Watch a video by a reporter from CNET demonstrating Gmail's new chat feature. The new Gmail Chat feature is currently only available for Internet Explorer 6.0 (and higher) and Firefox 1.0 (and higher) and in the U.S. English interface only. Even though the chat features of Google Talk are integrated into Gmail now, you still must download the Google Talk client application to make voice calls.

Google Testing PayPal Killer GBuy (Article)

WebProNews reports: "Several retailers have been quietly testing a Google payment system called GBuy, and users will see a GBuy icon next to AdWords paid search ads. PayPal has dominated the online payment field for some time. It has been a profitable business, one which eBay purchased in October 2002."

Advantages of Being a Mother

Did you know that during pregnancy the fetus and the mother's blood mix, and that blood will stay in the mother's system for decades (this is known as 'physiologic microchimerism')? At first this was thought not to happen because the placenta acts like a biological filter preventing the blood from mixing. Later they found out this was wrong too.

After they discovered that the mother and child's blood mix, they thought this might cause problems in the mother making her more susceptible to certain types of disease. Actually, they now believe that the fetus's blood will help the mother by being able to repair tissue and possibly fight off some forms of sickness.

ref: (Khosrotehrani et al. JAMA. 2004 July 7;292:75-80)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Product of the Week: TeraStation Home Server

ExtremeTech reviewed the TeraStation Home Server. They ask the question whether you should buy a pre-built system, or D.I.Y. it.

If you build it yourself there several components that you will need to get started, such as: motherboard, case (with high wattage a power supply), drives, RAID controller (if its not already built into the motherboard), gigabit Ethernet card, and OS/NAS software (there are some prebuilt Linux distro that can handle this). After you have all the parts you have to worry about setting it up and configuring it.

Either way its your choice. If you you're in the market for this type of storage this might be a good place to start. Read the article for more information or check out these pictures.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Quote of the Day...

"The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things."
- Henry Ward Beecher

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Send an SMS Message from Google

Google now allows you to send SMS text message to any SMS phone that supports this feature. This is a a cool technology if you're friends, family or colleagues have this service on their phone enabled, and you don't have any other way to send these messages.

The interface for the site is pretty barren, but functional.

Moving Beyond a Petroleum-Based Economy

I was listening to Science Friday on NPR, and they had a great program about alternative forms of fuel for our vehicles. The hot topic was how much petroleum America is consuming, and alternative forms of energy we can use to replace it.

It was discussed that the U.S. consumes about a thousand barrels of oil a second. At this rate, we are not going to have enough petroleum for current and future generations. Our country is very dependent on oil from other countries, and these countries are starting to use it as a political weapon against us.

We need to start changing our energy dependency on petroleum now, and not later. Although any significant changes can take a decade or more for it to happen. If we wait until the last minute, we will be in real trouble.

Two things need to happen for us to begin moving to a non-petroleum based economy. First there has to be a lifestyle change where we reduce our fuel/power consumption, commute more or use public transportation, buy more smaller and more fuel efficient cars and energy saving appliances. Second, we have to invest in the science and technologies required to create the new fuels, and to make the current technologies cleaner and more efficient.

There have already been big advancements in the types of alternative forms of energy and technologies that are available. Below is a brief list covering the most popular of these technologies:
  • Ethanol: made from biomass (made from waste saw mills, farm product residue, switchgrass, etc).
  • Biodiesel: made from soybean or vegetable oils (include wasted vegetable oils).
  • Hybrid Cars (electric/fuel): cars engines that run on electricity from batteries or from fuel.
Future technologies:
  • Hydrogen: creates energy by breaking down a fuel (such as gasoline, or water) into some type of energy.
By removing our dependency on petroleum, a lot of great things can happen to help our economy to flourish if we do it right. We can create new jobs, economic prosperity, and lead the rest of the world in the advancement of these technologies. We can also reduce our dependency on foreign countries for a major resource that we rely on to keep our country going. Finally we can make these technologies cleaner and more efficient to sustain ourselves.

Google at work on desktop Linux (Article)

According to the Register: "Google is preparing its own distribution of Linux for the desktop, in a possible bid to take on Microsoft in its core business - desktop software. ... A version of the increasingly popular Ubuntu desktop Linux distribution, based on Debian and the Gnome desktop, it is known internally as 'Goobuntu'."

There has been lots of rumors, speculation, and denial about this subject, but this is the first real article that I have seen that talks about the subject in any real detail.

25 words that hurt your resume

Did you know that there are 25 words that can hurt your resume? reports: "Often, when job seekers try to sell themselves to potential employers, they load their resumes with vague claims that are transparent to hiring managers, according to Scott Bennett, author of 'The Elements of Resume Style'"