Sunday, January 26, 2014

Today's Garfield

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I honestly wish our cats would be willing to look cute for photos the way Garfield and Nermal do...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Krebs On Security: Bug Exposes IP Cameras, Baby Monitors

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Brian Krebs exposes a critical bug in popular web-cameras:
A bug in the software that powers a broad array of Webcams, IP surveillance cameras and baby monitors made by Chinese camera giant Foscam allows anyone with access to the device’s Internet address to view live and recorded video footage, KrebsOnSecurity has learned.

The issue came to light on the company’s support forum after camera experts discovered that the Web interface for many Foscam cameras can be accessed simply by pressing "OK" in the dialog box when prompted for a username and password.

All I can say is d'Oh!

Wired: A Hackathon Where 2G-Era Tech Is King

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Wired reports:
if you want to make smartphone applications that work for most people (not just most Americans), you have to think slow. Smartphones and the Internet are booming in the developing world. ... But the mobile Internet in the developing world is a fundamentally different beast than the one we typically talk about. That includes everything from the devices people use to to the plans they purchase, and the networks they run them on.
The most common smartphone in the world is, according to Ericsson, the K-Touch W 619. It has a single core processor, and a 3.5-inch display with 480 x 320 resolution. When you hear about the next billion people going online, that’s the kind of device they’re going to use to do it. What’s more, they’re going to run that phone on networks where traffic moves at kilobytes per second, not megabytes. In Ethiopia, for example, only 23 percent of network traffic can hit download speeds of greater than 1 Mbps; a mere 4 percent can upload at that speed. For bandwidth-hogging apps, this poses multiple problems. The first is that they may just not work. When phones are constantly trying to suck or push data to a network, and encountering problems doing so, it also eats up battery life. That’s a much bigger problem than simply needing to recharge your iPhone twice a day.
With luck, these app developers will also optimize their apps to use less CPU, less battery and less bandwidth on the high-powered phones used in the US. In the developing world, these issues may be business-crushing problems, but they're really annoying everywhere else too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Abu Dhabi song

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Every now and then, the cats get me annoyed enough that Jen and I talk about mailing them to Abu Dhabi.

Here's where the idea came from:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

UNIX as religion?

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Or, as the article's author calls it, Over-Extended Metaphor for the day.

It's an amusing (if somewhat tenuous) way of drawing an analogy between the world/politics of UNIX-like operating systems and Christianity.

In the early days, the UNIX faith spread underground among nests of true believers; but they evangelized their friends and neighbours and gradually it began to spread in strange communities. And with the spread came the great split. By the mid-1970s there were two main sects: AT&T UNIX, which we may liken unto the Roman Catholic Church, and BSD UNIX, which we may approximate to the Orthodox Churches. And then lo, there were many schisms.
Read on...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Project Unity: 15 game consoles in one big wooden box

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Project Unity is one person's method for creating a multi-standard game console. He takes 15 different console motherboards, mounted into a single wooden box, along with custom-built hardware to select the active board and to allow a single custom-built controller to work with them all.

It's not pretty, but it works. It must've been fun to design and build this.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I just replaced Jen's iPhone battery

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Jen's iPhone, which is approaching two years old, has lost its ability to hold a charge. The battery would lose 20% of its power per hour, just sitting in standby. So I went on-line to buy a new battery and installed it last night. The process was much simpler than I had expected, although you must be able to manipulate some extremely tiny screws in the process.

The instructions I followed are available here.

I bought a battery and matching toolkit (two small screwdrivers, plastic pry-tool and two tiny Phillips-head screws to replace Apple's annoying pentalobe screws,) from iFixit for $30. It took about 10 minutes (not counting the time to sync and backup the phone) to complete this repair. Far better than sending it to Apple, who would charge $80 and hold on to the phone for a week.

All of our battery problems appear to have gone away, thanks to this relatively simple fix.