Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Plugin Allows Developers to Turn iOS Devices Into Bitcoin Mining Bots

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New Plugin Allows Developers to Turn iOS Devices Into Bitcoin Mining Bots

Interesting concept, but a bad idea for any device running on batteries. I really don't want to use an app that deliberately maxes out the CPU load as a revenue-generation scheme. I'd much rather see ads than have my battery prematurely drained.

Now, for an app running on a computer plugged in to a power source (like a desktop system), it sounds like a great idea.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Classic Mac OS - running in JavaScript

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Click through this link to play with a classic Mac (running System 7.0.1, with three apps) running on an emulator written in JavaScript.

I'm really impressed with how well it works. It's also interesting to note that today's computers are so much faster than those Macs that this emulator (running in Firefox 25.0.1 on Mac OS X 10.8, on a 2011-model Mac Book Air) runs faster than the physical hardware it is emulating.

Friday, November 22, 2013

In Soviet Russia (and on LG televisions), TV watches you!

You THINK you're watching your LG smart TV - but IT's WATCHING YOU, baby • The Register

According to Yorkshire, UK–based hacker "DoctorBeet," the internet-enabled sets try to phone home to LG every time a viewer changes the channel, giving the chaebol the ability to track exactly which channels are being watched, minute by minute.

Using network packet-sniffing tools, DoctorBeet discovered that his set was also transmitting the names of media files he played off USB storage, which he observes could potentially be embarrassing for those in the habit of watching less savory downloaded fare.
Disturbingly, however, there doesn't seem to be any way to opt out of the data collection. DoctorBeet observed that while his TV did have an option called "Collection of watching info" in its settings menu, the data was still transmitted whether the option was set to on or off.

This coupled with the fact that when DoctorBeet complained to LG, he got a brush off (you clicked "I accept" so we can do anything we want) tells me that LG is not a company that should be trusted at all. Time to scratch them off of the list of companies I'm willing to do business with.

I'm more than a little bit worried now about how many other smart TVs are doing the same thing. LG was merely the first to get caught. It may be time to buy a firewall device to insert on my LAN between the router and the modem so I can start blackholing the servers that appliances phone-home to.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

BioLite Camp Stove

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Every now and then, I run across a really nifty product. The BioLite Camp Stove is a small camping stove that you can carry in a backpack. It burns twigs and other small pieces of wood - what you are likely to find lying around a camp site, and does not use propane or other expensive fuels.

What makes this different from other kinds of camp stoves is that it has a "power module" that uses heat from the fire to generate electricity to power a fan. This fan blows air into the fire, making it burn hotter and more efficiently than it would otherwise. And as an added bonus, since it generates more power than it needs, it also has a USB port that you can use to charge small electronic devices when the fire is burning.

Interestingly, they also make a large model. Their Home Stove is targeted at people who routinely cook over open fires (like in many third-world countries.) Using a similar design to the Camp Stove, the Home Stove consumes less wood, emits less smoke and gives off less carbon monoxide than an open fire. And it also has a USB port to power small devices.

I realize that I'm not the target audience for these products, as a person who lives in a house with a modern kitchen and never goes camping, but I can appreciate great tech when I see it, and this is pretty awesome.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Teapacks - Push The Button

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For some inexplicable reason, this song, Israel's entry into the 2007 Eurovision contest, has been stuck in my head today:

Since you probably don't understand all of the lyrics (they're in English, French and Hebrew), here's another video. This one is a live performance, with English subtitles:

And if you want to own your very own copy, it's on iTunes


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thursday, November 07, 2013

South Koreans required by law to use Internet Explorer.

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The Washington Post writes about how a 14-year-old law, intended to make internet commerce more secure has produced some really annoying unintended consequences.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Smell Ya Later

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It's only available from the Japanese Amazon store right now, but Scentee is a hardware dongle for your iPhone that will allow scent-based communication. You load it up with a cartridge containing your favorite scent and then configure various app triggers to let the smell loose at appropriate times. Bundled apps include olfactory notifications when someone likes one of your Facebook posts, timers and alarm clocks.

There also a 10-minute video on the site that seems to be more like a b-grade soap opera than an ad for the product. Go figure.