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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Something Cute...

I'm going back to bed

[stretching paws up]

No amount of coffee is working this morning. Serious. I'm hittin' the hay.

Katherine M., nice find. Tho, they should have ended the movie at exactly the current middle point.

As I'm too tiered to live out my frustration to gnome configuration I though something cute would be a nice change...

Update: - hacked Lightning Multiweek to work with Thunderbird

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Disappointed in Google...

Yea I know that the google search engine is great, Blogger is great, Gmail is great, Orkut is great - basically all the services are great. They just made few mistakes on the road to the greatness.

I know how much it takes to maintain huge systems, and I know that the most problems are started from the business side. Revenue is everything, so you always need to expand and create new products. I is hard to integrate different systems as they tend to have very different architecture.

I have survived several harvesting/infection attempts in Orkut - I admit they are a minor nuisance, but still, its an indication that something is broken. It may not be a problem of technology in essence, but the social engineering behind it. As people get more adept in scripting languages the patterns you need to create to suppress malicious use are getting too complex.

Bu this is not why I'm disappointed. The problem is one single decision that google made to increase the revenue with its gmail service. At the beginning the service was nice and pure - you had to be invited to join by a person. I know it is not really efficient nor failsafe against bot engines that would send up millions of invitations to them self, just to be able to send more spam. When one gets closed and the address banned the bot has several to spare.

I have pretty good filters to filter and classify spam to categories. The thing that pushed me over the line was 2 e-mails coming from the same gmail address with 1 hour interval - first was mail containing harvesting address and the second was mail inviting me to work as gmail address creator "Work from home filling forms".

Right - does anyone else see a problem here or am I alone?

How blunt do you have to be to work for the people who harvest your address or even infect you computer with spyware or trojans.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

A step closer to interstellar travel...

Another nice gem was found in the wide space of Internet. It seems that the smart minds of NASA have started to come around to a technical solution that the SCFI world has known for ages. The simple concept of Deflector. There have been a lot of experiments consisting of generating, stabilizing and forming of plasma fields.

We still don't have the materials to create super strong alloys that would withstand the pressure or radiation gradients of open space but they are not that far away maybe few years of theory and another two to finalize the material generation.

Nor do we have the technology to get into the orbit efficiently. The best are ether hydrogen/oxygen or kerosene/peroxide rockets. Well in few years we should have the reusable crew vehicle, but still anti gravity is just a theory. There are some promising ideas - one of which is HexaLifter - its not a mature technology, nor is it a anti gravity device. Tho it could provide some interesting flight apparatus - well if we could create a light enough power reactor capable of putting out few gigawatt's of energy and would weight around 100kg.

When we get out to the orbit, getting to the next planet will be easier as we already possess the the ION Drive technology. Getting it to go faster wont be a problem.

The hull design could be HyFish as its very aerodynamic design and also because of its light weight. Also an plasma generator could be up on the nose part of the craft to make the ride smoother.

Mind condition: Hopeful wishing at full potential.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Cure for the braindead...

Well almost. Brain death does not really mean a condition where the brain shuts down - it can also mean that the person is not smart. Well it seems the scientists can have a cure for that in a future. These gene factors can help to regenerate the brain enough to make it learn faster and put the knowledge into long term memory. As we use only 21% of out brain matter (well at least we thing we use - no one knows exactly) we have enough spare neurons to remap our "damaged" neurons. In theory this could fight against Alzheimer's and few more memory and learning disability's. I'm guessing that it will work on normal people also by increasing their memory and learning ability.

Now I understand how the characters in SCFI movies are so smart - they meed to learn some new technology, so they take a magic pill and read the book. Woala, instant intelligence :) So if you think we have a drug problem now, think what the masterminds of the future will think out (or are on). Next generation drug wars will not be fought on who get higher fast, but who gets smarter faster. I imagine the direct brain download isn't far behind, since the normal optical data assimilation is just soo damn slow...

Too bad the pills ain't out right now - would be nice to ace the math exam (I suck at math)

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Late and Later...

haven't had time to write something new - tried to Survive the school, Work and the flue. Yes I'm still not well, but here goes...

The first thing is: Thunderbird is out. Looks sleek, works a bit faster and looks like the spam engine got a little boost :) Lightning works also, but as usually there is a catch (and I don't get why the people coding lightning haven't integrated it yet) - Lightning Multiweek View is not compatible with with TB 2.0. Well I hope Joey Minta is fixing the problem, or at least he will update the version requirement in the extension. Usually people wont know what they are missing and a month view is not sufficient when you are at the last week of the month - this little gem will show you the next 4 weeks (thats how many weeks I want to see into the future - less is insufficient and more is too much I can bare :) ).

Next gem is the HP new printer family. Well It seems they are so efficient in inc consumption that they wont make ends meat with the ink industry. So the geniuses there will lease you a printer instead selling you one. I would have nothing against it BUT they charge for each printed sheet AND that is based on the printing quality. This pops up some questions:

1) I print 1000 pages that contain 100 dots of with the highest quality setting - probably I will be taxed with the highest rate per page, so increase the amount of pages by few million and HP gets a HUGE profit out of nothing as the ink will last well really long (this is a theoretical exercise, but to use so high volume printer you might just print out blank forms)

2) Ok, You lease the printer, You print um, some 100 000 pages in a month, so its time to start paying for the service. So do you call the service people and get them to come to your work place so they would take out the statistics? Who says that the data that the technician takes is the same you are billed by? You augment your network so that the printers can go and report to some HP site that they have printed xxx pages with this quality? Big deal, you just wont let the printers to connect to the HP site - profit right? Well, what happens if someone hijacks the session and crawls back to the intranet with that?

3) You take out you Uzi and start shooting it at your firewall to open up dozens of IP-s and ports so that the (hmm technicians?) processes can go and monitor the "printer". As the high volume printer probably will utilize some PC and most likely will operate on a OS (who wants to bet that it will be some kind of a stripped down windows?), so I will not go into the security risks it will propose...

4) Who can guarantee that the printer wont lie? Everyone lies - its just the matter of degree of detecting it!

Enough with HP - lets continue with google. I understand competition, but I don't understand regression. So far I have been happy with most of the services that they provide, but the deal to buy was a blow below the belt (I think). I would understand the tactics to eliminate the the competition by eliminating them by merging (and I hope thats their tactic). Google has been my (Idol would be a bit much, but still...) example when it comes to web advertising. I survived the switch when they started to do flash based adverts - thats where I draw the line. I have seen my share of web based flash advertising that filled the whole page. SO I hope they are just eliminating the competitor!

New Ubuntu Feisty Fawn is out and should be looking great (haven't had time to test it tho).

Next rumor is that the Valve servers have been hacked - nothing is sacred any more.

There is a new material that is tougher than the diamond. Well its not completely correct, as there are several materials that are tougher than diamond, but they are super expensive to create. Most people would thing "the Frell with it" who needs it. I on the other hand would imagine creating some kind of hexagonal grids from it melted into a some king of a elastic material. Well I assume it is as fragile as as a diamond - tough does not mean strong you know! This would be interesting as micro meteorites ore some debree in space will not pierce or scratch the craft while out in the space :) Weird way of thinking? Well yea - I want to be in space someday so Ill try to progress it as much as I can :)

There is so much more I would like to comment, but soo little time - so thats it for today - hopefully tomorrow is a better day.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The 20 Most annoing tech products by PCWorld...

The every year worst top 20 is out. The number 1. is AOL - not my preferred choice as I don't live in USA, so my vote went to the number 8 (Microsoft Windows Vista). Well at least I tried :)

I have lived through most of the products, so heres some of my comments: the number 2 was not so bad - SE was worse.

How could they put together iTunes WMP, Zune and Napster - I don't get the logic. Sure all they use DRM, BUT there is a difference - Apple is dropping it, Zune is just a virus with its infective DRM and WMP is just not worth to mentioning. Sure DRM is the common bad factor in all of them, but still - they are not comparable. Besides Apple is correcting its mistake!

Never used the nr. 4. security products... Penguin rules! :D No comment on nr. 5.

And the next contestant is - Bonzy Buddy :) Anyone remember the green/yellow/purple helper screaming and wanting attention? Thats right its the ultra functional, resource hungry, nothing doing monkey. At the beginning it had at least 1 cool feature - H&H language synthesis engine and a api to make it scriptable - it was fun for a while. But as usual nothing good will last forever. Soon after MS integrated its functionality the the Clippy (well it became famous with Bonzy at least) and some time after that they started to bundle adware with the installer and as usual it was followed with spyware. Bye bye monkey (wave)!

Next stop MySpace - It matured too fast and so started the scamming, viruses and spyware - never got into it really.

Ok, we covered the Vista part - it just isn't worth the money, time and resources.

The next one is is kinda out of place (or should I say out of time). I would say it is the only good thing MS has ever done properly (if someone could kill the BITS). Windows Update isn't so bad thing (well it right now, but it started with Windows XP - 2004 or 2005). Well it started with WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) - Microsoft just got greedy and lost around 10% of its share with it in the enterprise world (Good luck with Vista - hi hi hi...).

I never had a quarrel with Apple QuickTime under windows - tho Now I have under linux, so in conclusion it never worked as needed!

Office 97 was usable (even tho it crashed in the places where you hadn't done a save and when restarting it erase the changes from an ancient backup).

Hmm, the next on is a pickle - Adobe (Formerly known as Macromedia) Flash. It got its bad name form flash advertising, but around 4..5 years ago some people created fantastic flash based sites. So I have no quarrel with the technology but I have with how its been used. Well thats up to today when Adobe joined the DRM market. I hope they wake up soon like Apple did - otherwise they will start to fade and waiting MS Silverlight to drop DRM and to be ported to linux will take ages, so life will get pretty interesting...

Next on the platter is AIM - as usually its a big corporation and should be spliced up to smaller peaces (in my opinion) too much power is never healthy... Also forcing Gaim to change its name to (what the **** was the new name?) Oh... Yeah... Pidgin... I feel sorry for the person who thought up that name. I understand the need for a not yet trademarked name but come one... I hope that name is not final as (If i remember right) that means pretty nasty thing in one language!

Windows (Live!!!) Messenger is almost totally unusable (PS! I didn't mention linux here!). None of my friends who use Messenger use the Live version. After Bill left the MS the design department has gotten free hands to redesign everything and as usually they tried to do the best, BUT as usually they managed to develop the worst. Go figure... I Have never used YIM nor PS3 so I leave them alone.

E-Bay - I cant say I have anything against them. They run a sleek operation, BUT as usually the greed of the government gets the worst out of them. Online taxing is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard of - basically its outrageous, people have bought the products once and now if they want to sell them again the government wants more money out of them. Why don't they go catch some Al-Qaeda or Bin-Laden or terrorist or something useful, not harass the simple people!

Now we get to a nice looking product :) Apple Pro Mouse - looks cool, but is totally useless (buttons anyone?). Never used plaxo, Outlook, Power Mac, Harmonium, Quicken, Harmony (well, I have played around a little with it but still - looks nice but programming is pain!).

This should be mandatory to every manufacturer on how NOT to do things!

That about it for todays technology bashing - see You all soon :)

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Saving the world step by step...

A lot of people are working on creating new technologies that will save the planet but they do it from their point of view. The problem with the new technology is that it takes time, to develop, time to mature, time to market and time to be adopted. Usually the better the technology is the longer it will take to develop and the higher are the costs to deploy, the higher will be the price and at the end run it will be adopted very slowly. So basically the development will kill the progress or an simpler alternative will be found.

I have read about several claims of modified car computer firmwares that save fuel consumption, lower exhaust gases, give more horsepower and some more tweaks. So far they were created by enthusiasts wanting to boost the power of their car and the high mileage and lowered fuel consumption was just a bonus. Well it seems they were partially right - a Dutch scientist has created crude way of saving the planet. The idea in it self is to switch off the generator when it is not needed. I would argue that it is not sufficient to save the planet, but it could compensate for some pollution. The original story is here. I would make a little alteration to this tweak - instead of switching the generator totally off I would just disconnect the battery charging circuit. Usually car generators utilize electrically enhanced magnets witch draw energy from the battery/generator it self. It wont be as effective as running the car electronics from battery, but in the log run it will save the battery itself. Constant charging/discharging the battery will kill it in around 2..6 months thanks to high cycle count. I would suggest starting to charge the battery 2 minutes after the engine has started, charge it to the full capacity and turn off the generator for the next 30..60 minutes and check the battery conditions after that if it need another recharging (this would have to integrate a temperature gradient tho - on cold weather the charging can take a lot more time). The voltage regulation could be replaced by a capacitor circuit to regulate voltage fluctuations.

There are around 1 billion cars out there and this technology could be applied to around 50..75% of them. When the current EU regulation is saying that the current norm is 160g/km CO2 - assuming that each car drives 10 000 km/year we get that each car produces 1600 kg/year and now all cars together we produce 1.6 billion tons of CO2. So what can the 1..5% CO2 cutoff give us? Well... we get at 50% implementation 8...40 million tons less and at 75% 12...60 million tons of less CO2 pollution. It wont save the planet but it helps a bit - progress is needed, but it will give few more years to develop better technology...

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Space madness...

Looks like Bill Gates is finally starting to think out of the box - hes going into space:)

This is great that rich people spend some of their money on spaceflight. It could stimulate the space industry a little and maybe generate some new concepts of how to do it better and safer. It would be a hard blow to the companies ego to report to the public "We are sad to inform that the rocket/shuttle transporting Bill Gates to the ISS has exploded after takeoff". Some would be sad and the Linux people would rejoice (nothing personal Bill - its just business). Well, to think of the past, when bill was head of Microsoft security was nonexistent but at least the release schedule was kept strictly by the numbers...

This makes me wonder - when will NASA send the last (14?) peaces of the ISS up to orbit? I know that there should have been a lot of science modules, but how about sending a nice motel up there? As there have been 5 civilians up there and possibly more to follow. Also they could put a nice herbonics bay in place - the astro-/kosmo-/taikonauts need their daily vitamins also and where else can you grow 100kg melons (ok ok Chernobyl does not count as you would glow green the rest of the life).

As I have not been in space I really cant comment on what to do better (I can at least dream of it :) ) but when I will go I would expect a nice motel, good food, nice beverages and some more room. I could not imagine bouncing around in a 2 by 2 barrel all day looking at the blue sphere that is the earth. It will be interesting for about 2 hours total - 1 for day time and the second for night time, so what I'm supposed to do the rest 2+ days?

PS! Anyone willing to loan me 130M $USD for a trip to the ISS and a spin around the moon? :) Ill pay You back in 10k years - I promise. ;)

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

When the SCFI and the present collide...

I was reading news today and found a nice little pearl about possible next gen (space?)flight hull design. The company is SmartFish and the future looks pretty nice :) The company looks to revolutionize the flight industry with new concepts, but I'm thinking in a bigger scale. When I first time saw the conceptual image of this design the first thing that popped into my mind was "Hey I have seen it before".

So I tried to remember where I have seen it - it was from an episode of an Star Trek Voyager episode. In that episode they designed their new shuttle and their basic holodeck conceptional model looked pretty close to HyFish. I tried to look for the image in the net but the closest I could come to a sideways image was this. It isn't the right image, but if you can watch the episode of "ST Voyager: Extreme Risk" (by this source) I'm sure You can see the similarities. A Mimbari from on of the Babylon 5 movies once said "Put a big enough engine on a flying brick and you get a starship" so the atmospheric rules don't apply in space :) The HyFish model looks a lot nicer than the Delta Fayer, but hey it lacks a warp drive, Borg weapons, teleporters, antigrav, antimatter core, unimatrix shields and who knows what else...

Back to real life. The design is sleek, but I can see some limitations with it. First is its wing span - its pretty small, witch means it cant carry a lot of weight and has to travel at high speeds. This is not really a drawback, but still if the landing gear cant properly retract on takeoff it will be guaranteed to crash thanks to the aerodynamic turbulence pushing the tail upwards and therefore making it nosedive in the runway. The same gos for landing - opening the landing gear bays will generate a lot of turbulence and possibly instability. The second thing is the large cockpit window (at least I'm assuming that is the black part). On high speeds (possibly exceeding march points) the pressure vortexes can crack or even shatter the glass as the pressure is not divided evenly - adopting the ST design could help. Also putting an ion generator at the front can reduce the pressure (this is experimental at this time tho). The third is the air intake(s) (I'm assuming there is another one at the other side) - they extend outwards to the direction of the plain. Its a common design used, but in high speeds the fuel/air mixture can get little too thin especially on high altitudes and the engine can stall. As its a single engine flayer, this can be problematic - it could be reduced by making the intakes the shape of an egg, so the airflow can be regulated without the need to regulate fuel intake.

This design can have a lot of promise and could be adopted to near earth orbit/orbital flight. We are just an step away from actual commercial spaceflight technology. Anyone have a warp drive / antigrav / shield / antimatter reactor plans lying on their desk? Care to share them? :)

PS! If the suggestions here will be taken account on improving the HyFish give some credit to the author also ;)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The wonderful world of scams...

I don't get it - normally get spam about Viagra, loans, lottery winnings, tax refund and fake rolexes. Big deal - ThunderBird's spam filter grabs, reports, ad dumps them. But the bank scam... I don't know who's black list I have been put, but they start to get annoying. One thing is to be a professional, do your job well (ether its for good or bad - its not up to me to decide that), but the latest batch is plain pathetic. Where has the ethics gone? 10 years ago, wen you got a scam - it was fine graded text with a meaning, it had a sense of personal touch, it was estethical. When you read the text, it was believable, it had the nice "personal touch". It had the feeling that even a little effort has put to it to make it more realistic. I miss the old days...

Nowadays, when you get a scam mail, its full of some random garbage, excessive grammar errors, all mails come in with some active content to harvest your mail address and/or contact list, infect you pc with a trojan/spyware/adware/malware. the mails contain embedded insults/garbage. They are filled with pictures with sites to harvest all they can on show you the finger at the end. It just gets frustrating to even open your mailbox. When you finally get the mood up to open it all you see is SPAM. Friends sending you "I love you", your bank asking for passwords, the lottery telling you won 100 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000$ USD even if you haven't participated in one (I wonder if there is enough currency in the world to cover that amount), the pharmacists telling you that you cant get it up, a "friend" telling you a way to pay off your 20 year mortgage in 6 months, etc... etc... etc....

Back to todays topic. Some unknown bank (BB&T) send me a mail like this:

Looks legit right? Well not really - this is not a screen shot, its the picture from the mail. I have seen a lot of nice scams, but this one was just cold - a template picture, a little text in photoshop, no personalization. This alone should arise alarms even if you secretly wish that you had an account with 1 000 000$ USD on it :) As usual it was a html mail with some embedded text from "Misery by Stephen King, 1987". I know its just for bypassing the spam filters as the optical recognition isn't so widely used to scan email pictures, but still isn't it and IP violation and if so what is the RIAA/MPAA/BSA for literature? I guess if there would be such a organization they could file charges against that person and by doing so they could enforce law enforcement organizations to fight spam - wouldn't that be a nice twist? :)

Well back to the scam - all looks legit except that the url the picture was pointing to. Poor Outlook (express) users would not even see to what they are clicking, but thanks to TB I can look at the link I'm about to click. Now look at the url in the picture and compare it to the link thats embedded to the url (I'll make comments in brackets): http://(hmm http is insecure why isn't it https wit ha valid cert? DEFCON 4) why is the mail from, the url on the picture *.bbandt.* and the real url *.bbt.*? Right the author made a SMALL mistake when writing the url to the picture? DEFCON 3) .com.onlineservlet_(here comes some random numbers that can be tracked back to me, so I'm not releasing them - but still why is there a "." instead a "/"? Its part of the domain - this should rise a lot of alarms. DEFCON 1) <- now the last part should put all the bells and whistles to scream on the maximum level (if the blinking read lights are not enough :)). Your right - this is not the right url for the bank - its a phishing site under the Tokelau TLD. A little more digging and the owner of the domain is Donald Williamson. Now there can be 3 explanations to why he would try to scam people like this 1) hes domain is hijacked and is used by criminal element and the owner is not aware of it 2) this person does not exist, is stolen identity, is forced to register by other parties 3) he is running the scam and was stupid enough to give out hes real information. A little more googleing gave me also this result. This means the domain is part of a larger group of domains focused on attacking BB&T.

The conclusion turn off javascript, turn off images and activex (if you are using windows), use ThunderBird or an alternative browser, look at the url before clicking on it (ant not the text that looks like a link) and finally rise your paranoia level - next time the mail might be from Your bank and it might contain personal info to make it more believable.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Life is sick and so am I...

Well, now you know the truth. I'm sick. I had all hopes up that I wouldn't get any flue this year and it was successful until last Friday. This is kinda ironic tho - the weather getting wormer and wormer and I still manage to get a flue. I hope it isn't the bird flu :P

So far I have found that the best thing to do meanwhile is to do something interesting on the computer. This will keep the mind off the bad side at the same time letting the body to heal. So today I found a nice site for little mind exercise called that I finished in 3 hours or so.

And hers my results :)

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