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Wednesday September 17, 2014
Android: Beware Old Android Browser (CVE-2014-6041)
This looks pretty serious for folks that still use the old Android Browser (or apps that might use some of the contained code):
Sunday September 14, 2014
Stephens Weekly Tech/Science News Roundup
As usual, here is a bit of a roundup of this weeks Tech and Science news. I decided not to do what most news agencies have done, and shove the Apple iPhone 6 down your throats ^_^
SanDisk SD memory card 'largest ever'
Memory specialist SanDisk has created an SD card with 512 gigabytes (GB) of storage space - the highest capacity ever released.
The card, which is the size of a postage stamp, will go on sale for $800 (£490).
The launch comes a decade after the firm released a 512-megabyte (MB) SD card with one-thousandth of the space.
Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29175093
Facebook experiments with vanishing posts
Facebook is following in the footsteps of messaging app Snapchat by testing a feature that allows users to schedule the automatic deletion of their posts.
The social network said the option, which offers expiration settings ranging from one hour to seven days, was "a small pilot" for its iOS app.
Facebook often tests new capabilities.
It faced criticism in June for one experiment that "manipulated" the content of nearly 700,000 users' news feeds, to gauge emotional responses.
Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29156436
Google buys firm behind spoon for Parkinson's patients
Google has bought a biotech company that has developed a spoon designed to make life easier for people with diseases such as Parkinson's.
It is part of its ambitious foray into health technology, spurred in part by the personal interest of co-founder Sergey Brin.
Last year, Google became the main investor in Calico, a firm dedicated to developing medicines to extend life.
Latest acquisition Lift Labs will join Google's research division Google X.
The spoon developed by Lift Labs is equipped with sensors that detect tremors and cancels them out by as much as 70%, according to the firm.
The technology it uses is similar to image stabilisation features in cameras that compensate for shaky hands when taking a photo.
Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29155888
In this Chinese city, phone addicts get their own sidewalk lane
Some places have lanes for bicycles, others for motorcycles, but there's a place in mainland China that boasts a different type of lane altogether: one for phone addicts glued to their screens. According to a Chinese publication, the cellphone lane above was spotted along a place called Foreigner Street in Chongqing city, one of the five major cities in the country. The sidewalk was most likely painted on for everyone's safety, because, hey, if there's distracted driving, there's also distracted walking, as perfectly demonstrated by the woman in this video. If the idea sounds familiar, it's because the National Geographic did something similar back in July as an experiment. The society stenciled "NO CELLPHONES" on one-half of a DC sidewalk and "CELLPHONES: WALK IN THIS LANE AT YOUR OWN RISK" on the other half. The result? Well, among other things, they found that the people actually glued to their phones didn't even notice the markings at all. Typical.
Read more at: http://www.engadget.com/2...alk-lane-china/#continued
The Big Picture: NASA gets ready to build the 'next great rocket'
See the gargantuan structure above that dwarfs that line of puny humans at the bottom (bet you didn't even notice them at first glance, huh)? It's a welding tool -- the biggest one built for spacecraft, in fact, that's slated to help Boeing build the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The structure's officially called the Vertical Assembly Center, and it stands 170 feet tall with a width that measures 78 feet: not exactly surprising, considering the SLS is a 200-foot-tall behemoth. It's but one of the many tools Boeing intends to use to build the core stage of NASA's "most powerful rocket ever" after the two organizations finalized their $2.8 billion deal in July. The core stage will house cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen used to power the rocket's four engines, and building it brings the SLS much closer to the launch pad for deep space exploration.
Read more at: http://www.engadget.com/2...rocket-welding/#continued
eBay DROPS DEAD AGAIN - tat bazaar says sorry, scrambles to resurrect site
eBay went titsup earlier today, and the company is now attempting to bring its site back to life.
The online tat bazaar coughed to an unexplained technical blunder preventing an unknown number of its subscribers from accessing the site, which many buyers and sellers of used goods enjoy using in their spare time on the weekends.
eBay posted this miserable statement on its service page about 90 minutes ago:
We are aware that some users may experience problems when using the eBay Site. We are actively working on restoring the issue and apologize for any inconvenience caused.
But plenty of folk were still complaining that they were unable to access the site, at time of writing.
Friday September 12, 2014
Software patents are crumbling thanks to the Supreme Court
Tim Lee has written a nice write up for recent legal progress in rolling back the software patent madness of recent years. It's good news for those of us who spend our time coding and don't want to get wrapped up in frivolous lawsuits designed to extort money.
Now a series of decisions from lower courts is starting to bring the ruling's practical consequences into focus. And the results have been ugly for fans of software patents. By my count there have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court's decision — including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated.
Thursday September 11, 2014
One Chance: A game you can only play once
Here's an interesting looking game called One Chance which only allows you to play it once.
One Chance is a game quite unlike any you have ever played online. It is about a scientist who created a pathogen that is inadvertantly wiping out all mankind on Earth. You then have six in-game days to decided how you will spend the rest of your life. Will you stay at the office and do all you can to find a cure? Will you finally step away from the office and spend some time with the family you have been neglecting? Or will the madness and impending doom jusr cause you to lose your mind?
What really sets One Chance apart is that you really only have One Chance to play it. The game picks up on your I.P and unless you have multiple computers with multiple I.P's, you really only do get one chance in One Chance, which is part of what makes it so spectacular.
(It actually just stores a cookie, so you can play it again if you clear your cookies or use Incognito/Private browsing mode.)
SigCheckGui: A Tool that scans and lists digitally signed files from a folder/disk
DC Member skwire, in responding to a request on our Coding Snacks request section, has written a beautiful GUI front end to the excellent SigCheck commandline utility by Mark Russinovich from Sysinternals.
The tool will recursively scan folders (or active processes) and produce a nice grid (sortable of course) of results, showing the digitial secure signatures of applications and DLLs.
In addition to being a useful security tool, it's a neat way to find out more information about the applications installed on your pc.
Website | Download
Saturday September 06, 2014
Tech/Science News + Some Other Things (From Around The Web)
Well!...It seems that my last couple of news posts went down well enough for me to be asked to do more, so here we go!!! If you guys find any interesting stories and want me to post them in next weeks 'issue' then private message me links and such and I will get them included!
This Mechanical Keyboard Switch Sampler Is My New Favorite Desk Toy
Enter the Max Keyboard Cherry MX Switch Pro Sampler, a ~$20 customizable kit that simulates what using each of the switch types actually feels like. The set includes red, black, blue, brown, green, gray, clear, and white switches, along with sound dampening rings, and an acrylic base to test the switches on.
Aside from being an extremely useful tool for choosing your keyboard, the Sampler is a cool addition to your desktop to fidget with, and makes for a great little gift for anyone into this sort of thing. There's even a cheaper ~$10 model that comes with just the 4 more common switch colors.
Read more at http://lifehacker.com/thi...s-my-new-favor-1630606204
Run Competitions On Your Website Simply and Easily, With Gleam.io
There’s something about getting stuff for free that ignites a frenzy in anyone, and it’s that compulsive fact of human nature which makes competitions so effective for any website. Gleam.io is the newest, and best way to run a promotional competition on a web project.
Read more at http://www.makeuseof.com/...and-easily-with-gleam-io/
Test Ebola treatments to be rushed to West Africa
In an extraordinary move, the World Health Organization plans to rush experimental Ebola vaccines and drugs to workers and patients in West Africa in the coming weeks and months. The move reflects a sense of urgency to get the epidemic there under control.
First on the agenda is immediate use of “convalescent serum,” an untested treatment that involves transfusion of blood from an Ebola survivor to a patient. Donors would first be tested for serious diseases such as HIV. Ebola survivors carry antibodies against the virus, but the value of a transfusion containing them is unknown.
Thursday September 04, 2014
Your favorite podcasts?
I have seen Marc Maron on tv a few times and have never been a fan, but a friend recently turned me on to his podcast around the time that Robin Williams died (he had a pretty heavy interview with Robin Williams).
He has now done more than 500 podcasts -- which are 30-60 minutes in length and are mostly just one on one interviews with someone in comedy or music business. I've been really impressed with them -- they are adult discussions, at times funny, sad, vulnerable, deep, etc.
Most of the podcasts are surprisingly deep and frank discussions with comedians, moving between discussions of personal struggles, work ethic, and the theory of comedy. Really fascinating stuff.
Highly recommended. What other podcasts do you guys listen to?
Saturday August 30, 2014
Rest in Peace my Dearest Cat Saffron 1996-2014
Saffron, my cat and constant companion and friend of 17+ years passed away this week.
I have no words to describe how much I miss her. There is huge hole in my heart that I don't know how to fill.
Rest in peace my dear cat. I miss you so much.
Sunday August 24, 2014
Let's have some weekend Science and Tech! (A bit of a roundup!)
As some of you may know, I used to do some Tech News here at DC, but as the days went on, time got a little more constrained and real life slowly took over. However...even though I can't promise a full time thing, what I can promise, is one for you right now!!
Windowless Planes Offer Passengers Spectacular Panoramic Views:
An international design agency has come up with an intriguing and innovative new aviation concept that has won them a prestigious award - windowless jets.
Technicon Design’s idea is not to ruin your views while cruising through the air, but to enhance them. This would be achieved by filming the exterior environment and displaying it on inside surfaces throughout the cabin. Rather than being restricted to a small window, passengers would experience a spectacular panoramic views of the world. Of course, it would also be possible to display other things on the screen besides the sky, such as movies.
While this may sound gimmicky, removing windows has the added benefit of weight reduction and would also simplify plane construction. It would also allow greater flexibility when designing the interior of the plane.
Read more at http://www.iflscience.com...views#k77557fLHpV346hZ.99
Scientists Find Traces Of Ancient Star From The Beginning Of The Universe:
An ancient star has revealed traces thought to be from one of the Milky Way’s first supernovae. The discovery may help us understand the nature of the giant stars that once populated the universe.
Read more at http://www.iflscience.com...space#8OLKpVM1kS4ZzgMm.99
NSA and GCHQ agents 'leak Tor bugs':
The Tor Project says it believes some NSA and GCHQ agents are surreptitiously leaking it information to protect anonymity on the net.
Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28886462
Super-famous Instagranimals and their owners:
Wired.co.uk speaks to the people behind some of the most popular social media animals to find out how they build their audiences and what opportunities have arisen
Read more at http://www.wired.co.uk/ne...ranimals-and-their-owners
Android web apps get extra security with privacy wrapper:
On a mobile application, users typically have a single choice to protect their privacy: install the application or not...
Read more at http://www.wired.co.uk/ne...2/privacy-wrapper-android
Hacking our ears: how Dolby is bringing Atmos into the home:
Since Dolby Atmos arrived on the cinema scene in 2012, the technology has set a precedent for movie sound.
The intricate but sparse sonic landscape of Gravity, Godzilla's guttural roar, the rain-soaked urban jungle of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes... all of these have benefitted from the Dolby Atmos Cinema Processor and its support of up to 128 discrete audio tracks.
Read more at http://www.techradar.com/...mos-into-the-home-1262350
Gmail app hack works 92 percent of the time:
Computer scientists have discovered a method of hacking smartphone apps across Android, iOS and Windows devices that is effective up to 92 percent of the time on six of seven popular apps, including Gmail.
Read more at http://www.wired.co.uk/ne...21/gmail-hacks-92-percent
Heart failure patients healthier after ear stimulation:
Heart failure patients could live healthier lives by having nerves in their ears stimulated with a portable Tens machine.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (Tens) machines are commonly used to alleviate back pain and are even used during labour. Now a team from the University of Leeds wants to adapt it to tackle health problems that are impacted by changes in the sympathetic nervous system, including heart disease and hypertension. The technique works by altering the signals that can make a heart beat too hard, by stimulating the vagus nerve.
Read more at http://www.wired.co.uk/ne...in-heart-disease-patients
Hackers easily seize control of nearly 100 traffic lights:
Taking over a city's intersections and making all the lights green to cause chaos is a pretty bog-standard Evil Techno Bad Guy tactic on TV and in movies, but according to a research team at the University of Michigan, doing it in real life is within the realm of anyone with a laptop and the right kind of radio. In a paper published this month, the researchers describe how they very simply and very quickly seized control of an entire system of almost 100 intersections in an unnamed Michigan city from a single ingress point.
Read more at http://www.wired.co.uk/ne...08/21/traffic-light-hacks
In Other News
Ebola crisis: The economic impact:
With more than 1,300 reported deaths from Ebola in West Africa, the virus continues to be an urgent health crisis, but it is also having a devastating impact on the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
"The economy has been deflated by 30% because of Ebola," Sierra Leone's Agriculture Minister Joseph Sam Sesay told the BBC.
Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28865434
Ice Bucket Challenge ALS Donations Break $50 Million Mark:
The organization raised $64 million in all of 2013
The Ice Bucket Challenge is the gift that keeps on giving for the ALS Association. The organization raised more than $10 million on Thursday alone, it said, bringing its total haul since July 29 to $53 million. For comparison’s sake, the group raised $2.2 million during the same period last year.
Read more at http://time.com/3159673/a...cket-challenge-donations/ (Warning: Contains a video that Auto-Started on my browser.)
Giant Crack Appears In Earth In Mexico:
Video footage has emerged of a kilometre-long crack thought to have been triggered by an underground stream in northwest Mexico.
The eight-metre (26ft) deep trench opened up last week and severed Highway 26 between Hermosillo and the coast.
Captured by Hermosillo Desde El Cielo, the footage was shot by a drone flying along the length of the trench, which is up to five metres (16ft) across.
Read more at http://news.sky.com/story...ppears-in-earth-in-mexico
Thursday August 21, 2014
Talents and talent shows
Hi folks. Guess what: my girlfriend is on America's Got Talent this year! And now she's in the semifinals, holy cow. Her name is Abigail Baird, she's an acrobat, and her act is called Aerial Animation. Here's her first audition a couple months ago:
Aerial Animation AGT Audition
And her second performance in the Quarterfinals:
The official video doesn't include the judges comments, but it's here:
She has been working incredibly hard on this and it's pretty amazing to see her dedication and perseverance. She's been a professional acrobat and teacher for a number of years now and she has been getting by on earnings from teaching acrobatics to kids and the gigs she has been able to get here and there (it turns out making a living as an acrobat is hard!), but this could be an opportunity to perform full-time and it's tremendously exciting.
I've been pretty quiet around here lately, I have to minimize my DC time because otherwise it'll take most of my *free* time. But I still consider you guys part of my Internet family and this remains one of the best communities around, so I'm excited to share this moment in my life. I know some of you have already seen Abigail on the show, so hopefully it's interesting to know she's a distant DC cousin, in a way.
Abigail will be be on the live show again for the semifinals coming up August 26th, and she'll need votes to continue. If you're already watching the show, vote for your favorites, but maybe put a couple of your votes in for her even if she's not your top pick. If you weren't already watching, then you weren't going to vote anyway, right? So I figure you might as well give her *all* your votes. There are 3 ways to vote and you get 10 points for each voting method. But I'll go into all that a bit more in an update early next week before the show.
Anyway, I've been encouraged to post about this by mouser and other DC'ers, but in the spirit of community involvement I also want to open this up a bit more widely. Because as it turns out at least one other DC'er has an upcoming brush with fame (you know who you are), and maybe there are more! So if you've been on a talent show before, or have an appearance/audition upcoming, or you just have a talent you want to showcase, let 'er rip! Singing, dancing, expert armpit fart noises, playing the William Tell Overture on 5 parts of your body (real talent a friend of mine showcases at parties), whatever you can do, let's see it! In the meantime I'll be posting occasional updates about my sweetheart, including shameless requests for your votes.
Best keyword-powered program launchers for Windows: Find and Run Robot comes out on top
Martin Brinkmann, at the excellent ghacks, has a nice comparison of keyword-powered launchers for windows, and I'm proud to say that my own Find and Run Robot (FARR) gets the recommendation in the end.
The main idea behind application launchers is to speed up that process. Ideally, all you have to do is enter what you are looking for in the program's interface to load it right from there.
Most launcher apps come with shortcuts that you can press or active to display the frontend on the screen to start issuing your commands.
While most launchers support the basic operations listed above, it is extra features that distinguish them mostly. Some may support web searches for example or to run Windows commands to quickly shutdown the PC.
...While that is the case, it is Find and Run Robot that gets my seal of approval.
Regular Expressions 101
While working with regular expressions today I stumbled over regular expressions 101. Not only does it test your regular expression as you type, but it also picks it apart and explains it to you piece by piece. Amazing!
Wednesday August 20, 2014
7 Best Tools To Print To PDF (From The Web)
Nice roundup of virtual-printer tools that let you print to PDF from any application that can send output to the printer.
What’s the best PDF printer for Windows? We checked 7 of the most popular options to find out.
It’s kind of shocking that printing in Windows 8 doesn’t come with a PDF option; Mac and Linux users have had this by default for years. Windows users still need dedicated software, and it’s all of varying quality.
PDF printers let you save any file you can print as a PDF, meaning that any computer on Earth can open it without much trouble. Because these programs disguise themselves as regular printers, you can use them to create a PDF file in any program that lets you print. We’ve shown you how to print to PDF on Windows 8, but such software is by no means new: you can use it on any version of Windows.
Read Full Story: http://www.makeuseof.com/...g/7-best-tools-print-pdf/
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