Sunday, February 27, 2005

Control your iPod via your Onkyo Reciever

Onkyo Reciever Back


Own an Onkyo AV amp and an iPod? Prepare the two for some conjugal bliss. The Japanese company is partnering with Apple to develop a docking station and control unit that’ll allow you to control your iPod via Onkyo remote controls. One cable weds docking station to RI port, and two phono cables handle sound output to the Onkyo’s tape deck input. The bad news (isn’t there always some bad news?) is, you won’t be able to gander at the iPod’s track lists via the Onkyo amp display until they upgrade the system next year. Until then, consider this yet another creative way to convert your regular iPod into an iPod shuffle.


This is REALLY sweet if they can make it user friendly. Seeing as Apple's also I partner in this I have no doubt that it can work. Now the only thing that's missing is an Ipod car kit with docking station....

Friday, February 25, 2005

Firefox 1.0.1 Out

Firefox Tattoo

A new version of firefox has been released. Version 1.0.1 has several security fixes, including a fix for spoofing domain names with unicode. For more information check out the release notes.

Sigarchi jailed for 14 years

Iranian woman behind computer

It looks like Mr. Sigarchi has been jailed for 14 years. This is just a travesty. I can't believe someone can be put away just for blogging what's on his mind. This is pitiful, just pitiful. Excerpt:


An Iranian weblogger has been jailed for 14 years on charges of spying and aiding foreign counter-revolutionaries.

Arash Sigarchi was arrested last month after using his blog to criticise the arrest of other online journalists.

Mr Sigarchi, who also edits a newspaper in northern Iran, was sentenced by a revolutionary court in the Gilan area.

His sentence, criticised by human rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders, comes a day after an online "day of action" to secure his release.

Iranian authorities have recently clamped down on the growing popularity of weblogs, restricting access to major blogging sites from within Iran.

................

Curt Hopkins said Mr Sigarchi's sentence would not dent the resolve of bloggers joining the campaign to help highlight the case.

"The eyes of 8 million bloggers are going to be more focused on Iran since Sigarchi's sentence, not less.

"The mullahs won't be able to make a move without it be spread across the blogosphere."


Altough I doubt it will change much, we WILL be watching you.....

Looks like we were all conned by LokiTorrent

Thief

Some guy has posted a story on how lokitorrent was probably NOT shut down by the MPAA and that the owner just took the lawsuit donation money and ran. He makes some good points.

For those of you who have been living on the moon these past couple of months, the owner of Lokitorrent asked for donation money for a so called lawsuit against the MPAA. He got at least $30.000 from said donations.

A few weeks ago the site was shut down by the "MPAA". Evidence points that there is a good possibility that lokitorrent man faked the MPAA shut down and just split with the money. Excerpt:


At the end of December 2004, the RIAA and MPAA began an international rampage in efforts to close down major bit torrent and ed2k file sharing sites.

Some sites like Suprnova.org, Youceff.com, ShareTv.com, and others went down without a fight while other sites, including ShareConnector and Releases4U were closed down by authorities.

The lawsuits set off a wide spread of panic and dismay within the p2p community as many of the veteran ed2k and torrent contributing societys soon found themselves "homeless" and their works "confisquated" by investigative authorities.

During the turmoil, one such MPAA targeted Bit Torrent site claimed it was willing to stand up against the evil powers of motion picture media thugs by fighting the legal issues in a court of law. LokiTorrent.com began accepting donations from the p2p community to support what they called "necessary legal fee's".

According to a Slyck.com - January 3, 2005 (Slyck.com promoted people to donate to Loki Torrent), within two weeks (5 days public) of announcing their fund raising campaign, Loki Torrents was only $710.00 dollars away from reaching their initial goal. At the time of writing Slyck.com's initial article, Loki Torrent claimed to have raised an impressive $29,290.00 from the p2p community.

Today, just weeks after the initial Slyck.com interview with Edward Webber, owner of LokiTorrent.com, the entire p2p file share community is back in turmoil.

Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Bros Mural

Again, we have some people with too much free time who decided to make a Mario Bros Mural with Post Its. Excerpt:


Super Mario Bros. (Miyamato, et. al.,1986) was an inspiration to many of todays computer engineers. In celebration of Engineering Week, this large format work was created as an homage to the inspirational works of these and other great computer engineers and scientists. Currently 3/4 of this work is still visible at the E2 building at UCSC, it is scheduled to be removed Friday night.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Free Mojtaba and Arash!

Free Mojtaba and Arash!

Cyrix Hotplate Howto

Bunch of Cyrix chips

This is a sweet hack for any old processors you may have lying around. Excerpt:


Welcome to the 21st century. The age of conservation, renewable materials and Jolene Blalock. As we're urged to replace our gaming equipment on a weekly basis, many tonnes of silicon, lead, and copies of Daikatana make it into our planet's landfills.

At RabidHardware we strive to be environmentally sound (so says our lawyers). By re-using hardware we would have so hastily discarded in our youth, we can now give our dear Earth a new lease on life. Seeing how the Great White North is in the middle of one of the more colder winters as of late, and I'm on a budget (read: cheap bastard), I figure we could get two birds stoned at once with this latest project: A CPU-driven hotplate.

Enter the intrepid Cyrix(tm) Central Processing Unit. Instead of piling the landfills with these retired, non-biodegradable heathens (or donating them to NASA for shuttle heat shielding), we may as well put em to further use. So what do we do instead you ask? Well, there is only one thing a Cyrix CPU does well besides reflecting heat, and that is producing it.

To do this we'll be using 7 6x86 Cyrix CPUs ranging from 100mhz to 150mhz, dissipating an upwards of 20+ watts each. All chips will be supplied with 5v regardless of their original requirements, which I imagine will also improve the thermal output.


I wonder how much heat current processors will be able to produce once they're obsolete enough to use for this kind of thing ;)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Paris Hilton Hax0red

Paris Hilton

Yup, Paris Hilton's phone has been hAx0red once again. They managed to dig up dirty camphone shots (right alongside shots of her holding a baby and hanging out with kids—oh, Paris), her notebook, and her address book, which has had such high-brow, mover-and-shaker entries as: Christina Aguilera, Devo Aoki, Fred Durst, Jermaine Dupri, Vicki Gotti, Stephen King, David Lachappelle, Avril Lavigne, Lindsay Lohan, Bijou Phillips, Ashlee Simpson, Twiggy, Usher, and Vin Diesel.

Hehe, nice one......

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Inside The Mind Of A Savant

Rain Man Cover

The Guardian reports:


Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism.

Daniel Tammet is talking. As he talks, he studies my shirt and counts the stitches. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can't drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. He lives with extraordinary ability and disability.

Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."


This is really fascinating. An autistic savant that can explain how he does the things he does. It's also fascinating to see how the human brain compensates for disability. The really cool stuff is that any of us can train our brain to do the same things, even if only to a much lower ability.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Amiga 600 as Car MP3 Player

Amiga 600

Some dude has modded an Amiga 600 for use as a Car MP3 Player!. Excerpt:


Computer: Amiga 600 (nearly an Amiga 500), 7 MHz, 6 MB Ram, a 24 x notebook cdrom-drive, 4 GB harddisk (YES, only seven MHz, it's more than enough if you don't use Windows...!!! And ok, 1 MB Ram would be more than enough, but you know, more is nicer! :-)


This is really sweet use of old hardware. I can't believe that a computer that's now almost 20 years old can do something so cool. a 386 can't even play MP3s properly, and an Amiga 600 is almost twice it's age!

l33t h@x0r tA1k 4 dUmm135

l33t talk

Another article from Microsoft that goes too far and is (unintentionally) funny. Excerpt:


While it's important to respect your children's privacy, understanding what your teenager's online slang means and how to decipher it is important as you help guide their online experience. While it has many nicknames, information-age slang is commonly referred to as leetspeek, or leet for short. Leet (a vernacular form of "elite") is a specific type of computer slang where a user replaces regular letters with other keyboard characters to form words phonetically—creating the digital equivalent of pig Latin with a twist of hieroglyphics.

Leet words can be expressed in hundreds of ways using different substitutions and combinations, but once one understands that nearly all characters are formed as phonemes and symbols, leetspeek isn't difficult to translate.

It's important to remember that the leetspeek community encourages new forms and awards individual creativity, resulting in a dynamic written language that eludes conformity or consistency. However, there are a few standard terms. The following is a sample of key words that haven't changed fundamentally (although variations occur) since the invention of leetspeek. The first series is of particular concern, as their use could be an indicator that your teenager is involved in the theft of intellectual property, particularly licensed software.


If a parent has to look up this page to realize there's something wrong with their kids something else is amiss.......

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Harrods To Sell Holographic Television System

Claro Holographic TV

Harrods is now selling a sweet Holographic Television, called the CLARO. Excerpt:


The CLARO represents the latest innovation in TV and display technology combined with a visual design aesthetic to introduce the TV system of the future - a transparent glass TV and media system utilising holographic technology.

The Holoscreen is a revolutionary holographic film which displays any image fed through a projector at a specific angle on to a transparent display. All other light is ignored. The result is a remarkably bright and sharp image quality - even in brightly lit environments. The screen is a 1.5m x 1.0m rectangle of 10mm glass with a 610mm x 814mm sheet of translucent attached to it. Any type of projector can be used to cast the image. To complete the futuristic setup, a pair of optional Ferguson Hill FH001 speakers can be positioned either side of the screen.

Looking more like space-age satellite dishes the speakers stand an impressive 1.65m high by 0.92m wide by 0.72m deep. The whole system sells for £25,000 of which the speakers make up £9,999 of the price tag. They are driven by modified Lowther DX3's.

The projector renders a huge forty inch image on the glass screen that seems to hang in mid air. Due to the science of the angles involved the image seems bright and clear even in an environment with plenty of other light about. The projector can take various simultaneous inputs such as TV, DVD and computer. In a standard instillation the projector sits on the floor about 5 feet behind the screen, so while the bulkiness of rear projection screens has literally vanished, it actually occupies a greater amount of space.

The CLARO glass TV and monitor will accept all inputs for playback on screen. From cable services to free to air Television, DVD, video, PC or laptop, even games consoles - pretty much anything you can plug into a television or computer screen.


This is some sweet sweet technology that would look SO good in my bedroom. Especially with those wicked space age speakers.

Firefox downloaded 25 million times!

Firefox 25 million downloads


On February 15th, exactly 99 days after it was released, Firefox 1.0 smashed through the 25 million download milestone.

Thank you.

Thank you for helping us take this product from 25 to 25 million, from our little corner of the world to yours, from the technically elite to Karen and Rimone.

With a minimal set of tools—an affiliate system, a small donations fundraising system, blogs, galleries, forums, and the good old human larynx—you all are spreading Firefox to a quarter of a million people a day. More than 500,000 sites now link to Firefox according to Google—a fivefold increase from six months ago.


Very nice. Just a matter of time before the mainstream finally come to their senses!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

New URL Unicode Spoofing Technique Revealed

Unicode table

Another unicode based exploit. Because you can now use unicode in URLs it's quite easy to spoof them. Example:

http://www.paypal.com is the actual site and http://www.pаypal.com/ is the spoof URL.

The spoof URL is actually http://www.pаypal.com, which of course is the unicode character а, which looks exactly like an a. You don't need to be a genius to see where this is going....

For more info and a demo check out Secuna. Boingboing even has a possible fix.

Online Gaming Addiction Becoming A Problem

Screenshot

Well, what we all saw coming is becoming reality. Now the BBC has an article about people who have gaming......Isues..... Excerpt:


"I can't talk to him while he is playing. There is absolutely no point as he doesn't hear me or is so distracted that I get a 'ummm... ya' a few minutes after I ask him a question."

"Gaming widows" has become a comedic term for women who have been shut out by male gamers. But for some it is not in the least funny.

Another correspondent wrote: "I believe that he is addicted to the online gaming, and that is the cause of his depression and restlessness."

And some of them are even sadder: "Today our son was five days old. "The sad truth is my husband spent 11 hours today playing his Warcraft game. He did not interact with our sweet tiny baby because there were important quests waiting online."


While I definatley agree that some people have problems, I also see the point in online games. It's easy to point the fingers, but when you look at the way a lot of people live, it's worse. Think about it, isn't it better to have some fun and excitment then sit in front of the boob tube doing nothing all night?

3 Year Old Newest Member Of MENSA

Mikhail Ali

The BBC reports that the newest (and youngest) memeber of MENSA is three year old Mikhail Ali. Excerpt:


Mikhail undertook a series of tests involving maths, picture and logic puzzles and number sequences.

Mrs Ali added: "Every day he amazes us, but underneath it all he's still our little boy too.

"He still plays with his toys and demands food."

A spokeswoman for the university said they were trying to contact the member of staff who carried out the tests to verify claims that Mikhail has an IQ of 137, putting him in the top two per cent of the population.


Before this the youngest ever member was 4. This is a clever young boy indeed.

Thunderbird 2.0 Roadmap

Get Thunderbird

Looks like Mozilla has released the roadmap for Thunderbird 2.0. An excerpt:


1.1 Goals

  • Inline spell checking (spell as you type)
  • Improved spell check engine. Update our version of myspell to the current version used by Open Office.org
  • Deleting attachments from e-mail
  • Auto Save As Draft
  • Phishing Detector: Thunderbird will attempt to detect email scams, warning users before they visit possible Phishing sites
  • Improved RSS Support including new subscriptions UI, OPML import, and podcasting
  • Software Auto Update
  • Options dialog re-organization based on the work being done for Firefox 1.1
  • Improved integration with anti-virus applications for POP3 users
  • Improved UI for managing SMTP servers


2.0 Goals

  • Working closely with the Lightning Project which adds calendar support to Thunderbird.
  • Trying to solve the information overload problem by looking into two things: Support for tabs (for folders and e-mail) and mail navigation history.
  • Most of the 2.0 goals that are not scheduled for 1.1 are still under discussion....



Looks like there's some cool stuff coming. I can't wait.

SHA-1 Bites The Dust

Charlie Brown

It is time. Bruce Schneier reports that SHA-1 has been broken. He writes:


SHA-1 has been broken. Not a reduced-round version. Not a simplified version. The real thing.

The research team of Xiaoyun Wang, Yiqun Lisa Yin, and Hongbo Yu (mostly from Shandong University in China) have been quietly circulating a paper announcing their results.


This really is a big thing, as SHA-1 is used in a lot of protocols for hashing. For more info on collisions check wikipedia out.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Black Box that can see into the future

Nostradamus

DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.

At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.

But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.

The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.

While at first sight they may sound like a subplot from Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is trully fascinating stuff. For more info check out the article and the Global Consciousness Project.

Criticism on Microsoft's Anit Openness Policy

Bill gates and pie

Just came across an opionion piece on The Register that debunks Bill Gates comments last week that Microsoft ranks interoperability as very important. Exerpt:


So, Mr. Gates, writes Hakon Lie, you say you believe in interoperability. Then why, pray tell, doesn't the web page of your interoperability communiqué conform to the HTML4 standard as it claims to? Why does the W3C validator diagnose 126 errors on your page?

You say you believe in interoperability. Then why is your document served in different versions to different browsers? Why does your server sniff out the Opera browser and send it different style sheets from the ones you send to Microsoft's own Internet Explorer (WinIE)? As a result, Opera renders the page differently.

You say you believe in interoperability. Why does the Hotmail service deny Opera access to the same scripts as Microsoft's own browser? As a result, Opera users can't delete junk mail.


Tsk tsk, why don't they just adhere to standards and get it over with once and for all. Even they must bow to the pressure one day.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Javascript can voodoo with XMLHttpRequest

All in the head logo

All in the HEAD has an article on some cool stuff that can be done with XMLHttpRequest. Excerpt:


With the advent of Google Suggest it seems that the industry has deemed that client-side XML HTTP is ready for the prime time. The technology is nothing new, of course, and has been part of every server-side developer’s standard toolkit for years, but whilst some browsers have maintained support for XML HTTP for a few years, it’s only recently that support has been widespread enough to utilise.

Interestingly enough, the XMLHttpRequest is not part of any public standard. The W3C DOM Level 3 ‘Load and Save’ spec covers similar ground, but you know how long these things take to get implemented. At the time of writing, if you need to use XML HTTP from a user agent, then the XMLHttpRequest object is the only way you can do it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Browser Speed Test

Jeep with parachute

Somebody took the time to do a browser speed test. It Appears that firefox and IE are about the same, but firefox is faster with scripting. Conclusion:


So overall, Opera seems to be the fastest browser for windows. Firefox is not faster than Internet Explorer, except for scripting, but for standards support, security and features, it is a better choice. However, it is still not as fast as Opera, and Opera also offers a high level of standards support, security and features.

On Linux, Konqueror is the fastest for starting and viewing basic pages on KDE, but as soon as script or images are involved, or you want to use the back or forward buttons, or if you use Gnome, Opera is a faster choice, even though on KDE it will take a few seconds longer to start. Mozilla and Firefox give an overall good performance, but their script, cache handling and image-based page speed still cannot compare with Opera.

On Mac OS X, Opera and Safari are both very fast, with Safari 2 being faster at starting and rendering CSS, but with Opera still being distinguishably faster for rendering tables, scripting and history (especially compared with the much slower Safari 1.2). Camino is fast to start, but then it joins its sisters Mozilla and Firefox further down the list. Neither Mozilla, Firefox nor IE perform very well on Mac, being generally slower than on other operating systems.

On Mac OS 9, no single browser stands out as the fastest. In fact, my condolences to anyone who has to use one of them, they all perform badly.

Who Says You Can't Make Money On The Internet

Asbestos Warning sign

Excerpt:


I started something different today. I launched Asbestos News. Like I said, something different.

The subject matter, while weighty and all that, is of little importance to me. It's not that I don't have opinions on asbestos and asbestos reform, because I do. The whole point of the site is to experiment with an idea. I built a tool that helps me aggregate topical news with the help of Google's Alert system. So far it works wonderfully.

But there's a second motive as well. Right now asbestos reform and asbestos related litigation is on fire. Lawyers are paying anywhere from $15-100 per click through on Google ads. The second part of this big experiment is to see if I can capture some of that click through revenue while still providing a somewhat valid service to people who might arrive by search results.

I say somewhat valid, because despite the fact that I read every article and summarize the article in every blog entry, the speed at which it all happens seems too good to be true. Quite literally, the current 20 or so articles on the site took me about an hour of cumulative time to produce. Granted, I'm making it easier on my self by allowing Google to tell me where the news is, but that's the point of their service right? Also, I'm not expert. But over the course of just 20 blog entries, I might know more than the average Joe about asbestos.

I suspect that if Asbestos News does well, I'll probably try to find another hotbed topic to blog on, and will continue to spawn what I'll call, with trepidation, "topical news aggregator blogs" until the concept stops working.

I already take a much more personal approach with digitalslr.org and as far as advertising revenue goes it does fairly well compared to my original expectations. If I can emulate its success while doing less to get there, that's what I call a good thing.


So says Michael Buffington. Sweet simple way to make some extra dough.

Lokitorrent bites the dust




Damn it, they got to LokiTorrent too. Damn them. Damn them all to hell!

Nintendo Definatley Losing It

SNES

An article that makes an interesting point on tomshardware. Excerpt:


Like a few other gamers, I bought the new Nintendo DS the day it was released here in the U.S. (Nov. 21). I was hoping it would be the beginning of a resurgence for the console gaming pioneer. I was also optimistic that it would finally represent an attempt by Nintendo to capture older audiences, a segment of the population that they have never seemed interested in reaching out to before. Unfortunately, in spite of losing market share at an alarming rate, they won't climb onto what could be a life raft for them - the adult market. They are still choosing to focus almost entirely on pre-teens.

They may not realize that there are many adults out there now who grew up with Nintendo, and still want to connect with the company that was associated so strongly with video gaming in their youth. The new "geek chic" has made it acceptable for them to carry around handheld gaming devices that would have been socially verboten in the past. But despite this huge opportunity, Nintendo still chooses only to court America's pre-pubescent youth.

Is that really where they think the money is? Or are they just out of touch with who the older gamers of America are? I think the latter may be the case. Consider that Nintendo's Chief of Public Relations, NiKen Toyota, congratulated himself on the recent increase of DS purchases by Mature (19+) gamers in Japan. He sited the advertisements featuring Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada as the reason it has risen from 49% to 59%. Well, that's great for the Japanese market, where they enjoy things incomprehensible to the American mind. But do they really think effeminate Japanese pop stars will connect them to mature gamers here in the States?


While Nintendo used to be the big cheese it's attitude is going to make it go back to making playing cards pretty soon. While the games (al lot of them anyway) used to be kick ass and for all age groups, the current round of releases is horrible and shoddy (with some exceptions). WHY in godsname are they acting like a toy company and marketing to little kids? Where's the latest F-Zero? Where's the latest Legend of Mana?

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Nintendo. I've hated their fascist licensing schemes (If you wanted to be a developer they had a habit of butting in a lot), but I must admin that NES, SNES & Gameboy games have been a huge part of my youth. That is why I still want them to succeed. Let's hope they see the light one day before it's too late so people don't alway have to use the term "The good old days" when referring to them.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tecmo sues for video game hacking

Mario in jail

"Tecmo has sued users of an Internet message board devoted to hacking into popular games, including its "Ninja Gaiden" and "Dead or Alive," to change their codes, the publisher said on Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Chicago, accuses Web site administrators Mike Greiling of Eden Prairie, Minn., Will Glynn of Davie, Fla., and others of knowingly infringing on Tecmo's proprietary software for the games, which run on Microsoft's Xbox game system.

Greiling could not be located for comment, and Glynn was not immediately available. The site in question is www.ninjahacker.net.

Tecmo, a Torrance, Calif.-based subsidiary of Japan's Tecmo said it has launched an investigation "to find and identify all offenders in this case." The lawsuit charges the defendants with violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and seeks damages."

So says news.com. This is just getting ridiculous. It also shows how dangerous and retarted the retarted DMCA laws are. Now you go to jail for exchanging cheats. As we say in Holland: "Het moet niet gekker worden".....

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

iPod Shuffle RAID Array

So, what do you do when you and some friends are all getting iPod Shuffles? You make a RAID array out of them, of course! Follow along as we explore new depths of geekery...

Ipod Hub

Excerpt:


My original intent was to actually install OS X on the RAID and boot from that, but the OS X (Panther, 10.3.5) Installer wouldn't allow installation onto the RAID array, either as a Strip or Mirror set. After restoring the Shuffles to their original configuation, I tried the OS X Installer again and even the Shuffle itself would not allow OS X to be installed on it, possibly due to how the volume itself is made available to the OS.


This is a nice one. Totally useless, but nice nontheless...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

systrace in OpenBSD

OpenBSD Logo

Just thought I'd mention a nice sample chapter from Secure Architectures with OpenBSD that's been posted online.

It serves as a nice beginners tutorial for all you systrace n00bs out there. Excerpt:


The OpenBSD default system comes with a policy enforcement tool named systrace, which provides a way to monitor, intercept, and restrict system calls. The systrace facility acts as a wrapper to the executables, shepherding their traversal of the system call table. The systrace facility then intercepts the system calls and, using the systrace device, processes them through the kernel and handles the system calls.

Getting started with systrace is quite easy. You can run your programs under systrace, generate policies based on the observed behavior, and then enforce this policy on the program in subsequent runs. There are, however, two problems with this approach:

Round round round we go, where all that processor speed is nobody knows

AMD CPU

Peter Seebach has written another interesting piece at IBM Developerworks on where all that extra CPU power we have these days is going. Excerpt:


Computers are getting faster all the time, or so they tell us. But, in fact, the user experience of performance hasn't improved much over the past 15 years. Peter looks at where all the processor time and memory are going.

About 10 years ago I remember people complaining that Microsoft Word was too slow on the Mac. You could type faster than the processor handled input on such a large application. Imagine my disappointment when I recently discovered that the same thing still holds true. Similarly, my first computer with a hard drive loaded a small command-line utility in under a second and a large graphics program in perhaps half a minute. Those are good specs, but isn't it kind of sad that they haven't changed much in the past 15 years?

So the question is, where is all the CPU power going? How is it possible that a machine with a full gigabyte of memory can run out of room to run applications just as quickly as a machine with six megabytes of memory did 15 years ago? In this month's The cranky user, I'll get to the bottom of this big mystery. But first, I want to revisit an old adage and see where it stands today.


All pretty logical, but I wonder when (or if) the curve will ever slant towards faster reponses. Maybe if we move to 100% solid state systems (no anologue hard disks etc.)...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Wildenstein List - You've made the list

James Bond

A leaked list containing the names of some 240,000 people who allegedly spied for Poland's former communist regime has overtaken sex as the hottest search item on the Internet in Poland, press reports has said.

"This thing is huge. We have recorded around 100,000 Internet searches a day for the list, which is 10 times the number looking for sex," Piotr Tchorzewski, who works at Poland's biggest Internet portal Onet, told Rzeczpospolita daily.

The list, which contains in alphabetical order the names of alleged agents and collaborators of the communist-ero secret service, mixed together with the names of those who were allegedly spied on, has also been put up for auction on the Internet, but its bid price late yesterday -- 2.99 zlotys (around 75 euro cents) -- was hardly breaking records.

On Onet's web portal, it tops the list of search items, and visitors are referred to 650,000 links for the controversial collection of names that has pushed the attorney general to launch legal proceedings and Prime Minister Marek Belka to express concern for the safety of active intelligence agents whose names "might" be on the list.

The list, dubbed the Wildstein List after Bronislaw Wildstein, the journalist who secretly copied it around two weeks ago at the national archives, can change from one Internet consultation to the next, as hackers have been adding or taking off names, press reports said.

The list itself can be found on many web sites. Damn, you're trully screwed if you're in this one.....

ID Chip Sniper Rifle

ID Sniper Rifle

Cool hoax here. Excerpt:


What is the ID SNIPERTM rifle?

It is used to implant a GPS-microchip in the body of a human being, using a high powered sniper rifle as the long distance injector. The microchip will enter the body and stay there, causing no internal damage, and only a very small amount of physical pain to the target. It will feel like a mosquito-bite lasting a fraction of a second. At the same time a digital camcorder with a zoom-lense fitted within the scope will take a high-resolution picture of the target. This picture will be stored on a memory card for later image-analysis.

Why use the ID SNIPERTM rifle?

As the urban battlefield grows more complex and intense, new ways of managing and controlling crowds are needed. The attention of the media changes the rules of the game. Sometimes it is difficult to engage the enemy in the streets without causing damage to the all important image of the state. Instead EMPIRE NORTH suggests to mark and identify a suspicious subject on a safe distance, enabeling the national law enforcement agency to keep track on the target through a satellite in the weeks to come.


Gotten from Schneier Weglog. Only a matter of time before this becomes reality though :-(

Sweetest VOIP Phone I've Seen Yet

The Broadband Phone

It seems that AT&T Research Cambridge (the same guys that brought you VNC) was working on some sweet VOIP phones. On their closure The LCE Sentient Computing Environment got their hands on 70 of those phones. Excerpt:


The Broadband Phone (BBPhone) is basically a Strong-ARM 1100, with 8MB of flash, 32MB of RAM, touchscreen, 10Mbps Ethernet and a sound card running a derivative of the Linux 2.2 kernel.

In the summer of 2003, I took it upon myself to make these phones functional. The results of this exercise are documented in the following sections.


They explain how they got those phones to work properly here. I hope that one day something like this is released to the general public. I wouldn't mind hooking up my house with these babies.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

(Human) troublemaker fed to the lions

Rascist Farmer

A white South African boer (famer) has apparantly fed one of his black employees to the lions. An excerpt:


A WHITE farmer and two of his black employees, accused of feeding a sacked farm worker to the lions, went on trial for murder yesterday in the most racially charged case in South Africa's recent history.

A packed courtroom in the small town of Phalaborwa, in the rural northeast, heard Mark Scott-Crossley, 37, and the co-accused, Simon Mathebula, 43, and Richard Mathebula, 41, plead not guilty to murdering Nelson Chisale, 41, last January.

Chisale's remains were found inside a lion reserve, 16km from the farm. The prosecution alleges he was beaten up, attacked with pangas (large knives) and then trussed up, taken in a truck to the Kruger National Park, and then fed to the lions.

Labelled "a troublemaker", Chisale had been dismissed two months before his death. Scott-Crossley, who owns the farm with his brother, had left instructions that Chisale was not to be allowed back on the premises, the court was told yesterday.


For a picture of the guy, see above. This kind of thing just disgusts me. I hope they hang this guy.

Study concurs that Italian men are a bunch of mommas boys

Italian man

According to the BBC as study has shown that more and more grown men stay living with their mothers well into their 30s. Excerpt:


An ever-increasing number of Italians are living with their parents until well into their 30s, a study says.

The proportion of Italians aged between 30 and 34 still living at home has doubled to well over a quarter, a recent government report concludes.

Sons linger even longer than daughters, the government says, with 36.5% of men aged 30 to 34 remaining at home, compared to just 18.1% of women.

The new figures are part of an annual report by research centre Eurispes.


For more info on why check out the article. Thirtyfour and still living with your mum. Must be difficult with the ladies...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Garden State Review

Cover Garden Poster

I just saw Garden State. This being the recently released flick directed, written by and staring Zach Braff whom many will know as the lead player of the TV series Scrubs.

Before I begin this review I must state that I am a fan of Scrubs, even though it sometimes suffers from American TV series lameness (a lesson has to be learn every episode, sometimes making it too sappy ala Full House). Because of the series I had some preconceived notions of Zach, which have thankfully been nullified. Never would I have conceived that someone from a TV sitcom could have so much talent inside him. Well, enough confessing and on with the review. Here follows a brief synopsis (not too many spoilers, this all becomes clear in the beginning of the movie) ripped from imdb:


Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) shuffled through life in a lithium-induced coma until his mother's death inspired a vacation from the pills to see what might happen. A moderately successful TV actor living in Los Angeles, "Large" hasn't been home to the Garden State in nine years. But even with 3,000 miles between them, he's been unable to escape his domineering father Gideon and the silencing effect he's had on his son from afar. Stunned to find himself in his hometown after such a long absence, Large finds old acquaintances around every corner living quite unique lives as gravediggers, fast food knights and the panderers of pyramid schemes. Meanwhile, at home, he does his best to avoid a long-simmering but inevitable confrontation with his father. By a twist of fate, Large meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a girl who is everything he isn't. A blast of color, hope and quirks, Sam becomes a sidekick who refuses to ride in his sidecar. Her warmth and fearlessness give Large the courage to open his heart to the joy and pain of the infinite abyss that is life.


While this may sound sappy (after seeing trailers I wasn't too keen on seeing this flick) the story pans out quite well. For people of my generation (+/- 25 years) the issues in the film are very real, and I'm sure many people can identify with the lead player. Especially the feeling of not belonging, which is brilliantly portrayed by the acting talents of Zach, the flow of the film and the soundtrack (more about which later).

The script is extremely well written and definitely Oscar worthy IMHO. It was totally believable and had a good mix of 25 something characters. All are people who finish high school and go on with their lives, none of them particularly making it par one (watch the movie if you want to know more). Also a nice slow flow which works for the movie, and a lot of commentary on present day self medication practiced by a lot of people who can't deal with life.

The acting itself is superb. Of special note is Zach who plays the lead character to a T. This of course is logical, as he wrote the thing and I strongly suspect that this is a very personal movie for him, as it is also set around where he himself grew up in real life. Also of note is Natalie Portman. Ever since I saw her as a twelve year old fan I have been a personal fan, and although she has made her share of sappy chick flicks, I still think she's a good actress. While she still has certain nice girl next door quirks, this movie (and another one, Closer, which I will review later) shows that she is really developing into a woman and is ready for proper parts. Her acting isn't as cardboard as she was in Star Wars 4 & 5 (I get a bad taste just typing that title in) and you can definitely see why she was Zachs first pick for the part. I expect to see good work from here in the future. Even all of the extras give good performances, without exception. These are all unknowns, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of them make it as actors.

The soundtrack for this movie was handpicked by Zach before filming, and it shows. Not since Magnolia has a soundtrack so set the tune for a film. Every song is without exception a perfect pick. While a lot of films these days pick predictable top 40 songs, Zach has gone the "alternative" route. Of special note are the inclusions of The Sins and Zero 7, which I am listening to as I'm typing this.

As you can probably guess from this review, I am just glowing about this movie. My only criticism is that sometimes you see a little bit of JC (lead character of scrubs) in Zachs performance, but this by no means becomes irritating. I would never have guessed that he could make such a serious and touching movie. Therefore I'm giving this a well deserved 4.5/5, a must see for all you twenty somethings out there who don't belong.