Archive for July, 2011

3D Video

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis July 31st, 2011

Hologram of a violinGrowing up, I always loved Sci-fi.  It was always expected that the future of 3D video would be in Holography.  But the movie industry found a way to do it without the expensive lasers, and got rid of the old red/blue filter idea.  These days, it’s mostly done with POLARIZATION or SHUTTERING (strobing).  See, the only thing necessary to give depth to a picture is for one eye to see a different image than the other.  Then our brain interprets the picture as 3D instead of 2D.  So the glasses you get nowadays look fairly normal.  You can’t tell that one lens is shown differently from the other.  Some folks are shelling out $100-$150 for their own 3D movie shades.  But according to the reviews I’ve seen, the glasses they hand out in theatres are almost as good as the personal ones.  But the glasses are the PROBLEM, not the solution, according to most experts.  People just don’t want to wear them, and hygiene is an issue.  Keep your eye peeled for new technology that might eliminate the EEEWWWWWW! factor from 3D viewing.  Here’s an article about some of the latest,  and another that discusses shuttering.

Internet Explorer users are STUPID!?

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis July 30th, 2011

Get real.  Some silly Canadian psych profiling company released survey results that are splashed all over tech headlines.  The bottom line is that it was NOT done scientifically, nor are IQ tests reliable. In my humble opinion, the whole premise that AptiQuant (the company that published it) was built upon is questionable.  They test you, and put you in a category.  So much for individuality.  They go to GREAT LENGTHS to explain how valid it is; I say HOGWASH.  The results seem to imply that you’re a brainiac if you use Firefox, and a moron if you browse with Internet Explorer (IE).  Did they ask about multiple browsers?  What about corporate policies?  Some people don’t have a choice.  In fact, I would suggest that even if you USE another browser, that you leave IE as the default.  The comments from  AptiQuant sounded like whiny kids;

[paraphrased] Boooo-hoooo but we don’t LIKE to make our web sites work with IE!! It’s TOO HARD!  Then they prattle on about MODERN WEB STANDARDS as if Microsoft had nothing to do with it.  

Ummmm  HELLO?!  The MAJORITY (roughly 43%) of surfing is done on IE!  And about 80% of computers run Windows!  I’d say Microsoft SETS the standard.  By the way, if you want Java to run really nicely in Internet Explorer, try the Google Chrome Frame add-on.  It’s a slick way to make your IE browser behave more like Firefox or Opera, etc.

Chinese Junk

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 28th, 2011

This is NOT what the article's about!Nope, not the ship; the crap that China sells us and undermines our economy and the work we do.  I know that it’s nearly impossible to do, but try not to buy stuff that’s made in China.  It’s difficult because the PARTS might be made there.  But they have sub-standard manufacturing and do all kinds of weird things like using lead paint in kids toys and putting capacitors (electronics) in monitors that explode after 2 years. (yes, I witnessed this)  For a country about to default on its national debt, we could be the next Chinese Providence.  We owe them more than 3 TRILLION $$.  It’s a staggering number, brought on by consumers-gone-wild.  Remember:  cheap isn’t necessarily good.  To fully understand how hard it would be to stop buying Chinese products, here’s a link to a book about a family that did exactly that.

Politics

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis July 27th, 2011

The new age of electronics has completely changed politics in this nation.  For one thing, it has (at least somewhat) levelled the playing field.  The masses can now group, communicate, and expel those they don’t like AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT.  This makes it even more important for you, as a voter, to say your peace.  I always scratch my head at the voter turnout in the US.  It’s usually quite small, and seems as if no one cares.  But hackles are raised lately, with the deadlock in Washington, because most of the nation is already feeling the pressure of our economic woes.  So if you’re ticked off at the inability of our lawmakers to come to agreement:  TELL THEM.  Here’s a link to let your voice be heard to any and every elected official possible – click here to LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

Back to School

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis July 26th, 2011

Parents know how expensive school can be.  If you have a youngun’ with an EDU email address, you can sign up for an Amazon Student account.  It’s Amazon Prime, but no fee!  Prime gives discounts on certain items, but the main perk is FREE TWO DAY SHIPPING.  My wife and I did this for her grad school, and saved a ton on electronics, textbooks, and supplies.  It made shopping really quick and easy, and two days later our stuff was on the doorstep!  College students can sign up now, then do some research on the texts required for their classes.  They’ll have their books long before the first class, and avoid getting robbed by the campus bookstore.  Learn more about Amazon student here

The Blu-ray Sham

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 25th, 2011

It's simply bullshitI guess the tech companies and movie industry think we’re all IDIOTS.  Blu-ray is a farce.  Let me explain:  The main reason they wanted the new format was to COPY PROTECT their media.  They also wanted to cram MORE ADVERTISING and crap on the disks you buy and rent.  But the main thing they wanted you to do is BUY MORE DISKS and EQUIPMENT.  Now they’re all scrambling because no one is buying, so every DVD or downloaded movie has all these ads claiming better video and audio (so PLEASE PLEASE buy the blu-ray and we’ll even throw in the DVD!)  Let’s dispel this myth:  Yes, the resolution is higher BUT it’s like comparing NEAR perfect to perfect.  I challenge anyone to tell the difference between DVD and blu-ray on a 35″ or smaller TV.  Sound?  I get 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround with every DVD I watch, and my sound system can’t do any better!  The really sad part is that they could have done all these changes to a DVD, but used better compression.  Instead, they want to take us all to the cleaners.  Want to vote?  Then DON’T BUY BLU-RAY. 

Botnets

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 24th, 2011

Zombie BotnetIt sounds like something out of a Sci-fi flick, but it’s real, and it’s high tech crime at its finest.  They’re called Botnets from the original IRC Bot, which was just an automated responder for chat rooms.  But people quickly took advantage of the programming tool, and figured out how to spread the software bug across multiple machines, all the while protecting and propagating each other.  PC’s would be taken over, and then do their dirty work without the owner’s knowledge.  These ZOMBIE computers would then interconnect.   The BOTNET was born.  Have you ever had the Fake Antivirus Warning that tries to get your credit card?   That’s CONFICKER, one of the largest botnets ever grown.  An estimated 1-10 million PC’s have been afflicted with this software disease.  Recently Microsoft helped take down one of the toughest botnets to date.  Read the full article here.

Phone Hack technology

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 23rd, 2011

Ya just never know...The Murdock scandal in the UK has a lot people asking HOW?!  There are four different technologies involved here ; 1) Voicemail Hacks are relatively easy if your phone supports checking with a 4-digit PIN.  (there just aren’t that many possible combinations so patience pays off)  2)  Random Air-wave Pirates can sit around, with the right equipment, and scan/listen to any and all cell phone calls emanating from a given tower.  This is difficult and yields very random results  3)  TAPPING is using a device or station to intercept your conversation or text, etc..  These are typically illegal without a warrant.  WARNING:  Smart phones can be SOFTWARE hacked within 5 minutes of being in someone else’s hands!  See an article here 4)  Cell Phone PINGS are GPS locators that are built in to phones, and required by the FCC since the 9/11 attacks.  The US Supreme Court is reviewing a case to decide if it should be legal for law enforcement to track people this way without a warrant.  (See more details here.).  NOTE :  These are all about privacy hacks.  There’s a whole ‘nuther topic about breaking into your phone’s operating system that is also referred to as a hack.  Anyone interested?  :-)

Banks

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis July 21st, 2011

Trusteer BannerInternet security has become problem worldwide, and banks have taken notice.  Of all the entities out there, they take brunt of attacks and suffer the majority of losses.  But don’t think they take this lightly – some of the best digital security teams in the world work for the largest banks, and many have started taking proactive steps to help their customers.  Here in Tulsa, my bank is setting up full-scale security analysis for its bigger business clients, and has a great place on the website for smaller customers to get information and help.  A good example is a program called Trusteer Rapport.   It watches connections to secured sites for you, and checks validity against phishing sites.  If you do any online banking, you should have this program.  You can download it here.   Interesting note:  When I tried to take a screen shot of the Trusteer web site, Rapport wouldn’t let me!  Just another security measure  :-) 

Protecting a file

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 20th, 2011

After you encrypt an Excel fileIn a previous post I talked about encryption, but a user asked me a good question:  What if I only want to protect 1 file or document?  So I did a little digging, and it turns out that Office 2007 and later support AES 128 bit SH1 encryption.  I assume that’s good enough for the banks (?).  It will make it easy to protect Word and Excel docs… the instructions are here.  After that, just try to open the file and you get a prompt for password.  Close it, and it’s encrypted again. I still like Truecrypt for multiple files, but this will be a nice solution for a single file.  Be sure to use a strong password, but DON’T FORGET IT!