20 September 2011

Linux 3.0 Is A Big Deal (Kind Of)

The release of kernel 3.0 in the Linux world was effectively downplayed by a good portion of the Linux world as “just another update.”  And they’re right- the version was going to be 2.6.40, until Linus Torvalds switched it to 3.0 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Linux.  In that sense, no, Linux 3.0 was not a big deal as far as the 44 million lines of code in the kernel were concerned.  It only added the usual collection of drivers and bug fixes.

However, 3.0 is, from a publicity standpoint, a huge milestone for Linux in a lot of ways.  It shows, among other things, that Linux is continuing to grow and evolve and is a viable piece of software.  The fact that the version number was bumped to 3 could have made much more of an impact on the non-Linux world than it actually did- understandably, few people would care to hear that Linux hit version 2.6.40, but jumping a whole number is considered a big deal.  Windows has moved to that scheme- Windows 7, Windows 8- as has ...

10 August 2011

How To Run An Online Scam

As much as it may appear otherwise, given a little time running an online scam isn’t nearly as difficult as the general person likes to think. This translates to the rest of us being required to be all the more vigilant about keeping ourselves safe and verifying anything, especially before sharing any personal information.

Though there are scams running online all the time, some obvious, others not, one of the most recent ones that spread virally was about browser choice being indicative of a person’s IQ. The news article was picked up by various reputable news sites such as CNN, Telegraph, BBC and others and circulated for a few days. I picked it up and mentioned it in the previous post on The Philosophy of Nate as well before anyone had any reason to question the results of the study, which conveniently seemed to make some sense. Having been on CNN and the BBC, it seemed legitimate enough to me.

Surprisingly little work went into putting together the sc...

01 August 2011

My Browser Said What?

One of the most overlooked (and under-cared about) aspects of online privacy is what browsers say about their owners.  Generally, web browsers transmit a lot of data about what browser they are, certain software/hardware capabilities, and software versions.  Transmitting information such as this has its uses- websites can warn about out-of-date software, and software sites can direct visitors to the appropriate download for their system.  It does raise some security and privacy concerns as it makes it easier to track people.  Even I can admit to simply not caring what my browser says about me.

With concern mounting regarding hacking and privacy, browser headers, as they’re called, will probably be thought about much more by the average privacy-aware web surfer, especially with the new Internet tracking bill passed by the government.  There are browser extensions that can hide or mask the information your browser sends to the Internet, but while doing this improves privacy...

21 July 2011

What's Up With Linux?

The Linux Foundation is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Linux this summer, from its humble start in 1991 to where it stands today as the operating system of choice for supercomputers, phones and many more things where speed, security, and reliability are required.  Get in on the celebration at

Outside of the more nerdy, technically inclined people like myself, Linux isn’t extremely popular and isn’t even well known.  Windows vs. Mac OS X is the usual choice given in stores, and Linux only recently has gotten some publicity from companies such as Dell and Google.  Given its past of being powerful but hard to use, the general opinion of Linux isn’t too surprising even though it has become a misconception.

Unfortunately, the selling point for Linux is usually that it’s free and that it doesn’t have viruses, both of which are generally true but are not the best things...

18 July 2011

Google and Facebook's New Looks

Google and Facebook are both in the process of rolling out some changes to their interfaces; Google started soon after announcing Google+, and Facebook started just in time for everyone to log into Facebook at work Monday morning and be irritated about it.

For Google, the new look is pretty slick and integrates Google+ features (for those using the service) across most of Google’s products with a new upper bar.  The rest of the services that the change has affected now sport a new layout that is much more consistent across Google that was a long time coming, particularly for Blogger, but doesn’t change anything so significantly that anything is hard to find.  The new upper bar provides slick integration with Google+ for those using it and is more noticeable for switching between services.  So far changes have been rolled out to GMail via a preview theme, Calendar, Blogger in Draft, Search, the Help centre, YouTube, and the account page (accessible through Google+) that in...

07 July 2011

Google+ Takes on Facebook

If the number of hacks, extensions, and suggestions on how to make Facebook more like Google+ is any indication, Google+ has drawn more than a small amount of interest across the web. At the same time, pressure is increasing on Facebook to bring new features to Facebook that may not have even been considered in the past.

The first, and probably most momentous indication of the pressure on Facebook is the announcement of Facebook’s latest new feature; video chat via Skype. Given the low-quality video and the lack of any distinguishing features, it seems clear that Facebook unveiled the new feature long before it was actually ready, not long after Google+ was announced. In all likelihood it is not the last feature Facebook will announce prematurely due to pressure from Google. I haven’t tested Facebook’s video chat myself (it runs only on Windows right now), but I have already heard complaints about the new chat interface as well as some notable testers such as ZDNet compla...

05 July 2011

What Google+ Means for Facebook

Google+, particularly due to its current exclusiveness, has gained a huge appeal across the Internet if the demand for invites has been any indication.  Fan pages have sprung up on Facebook for Google+ and its various features and it generally has been the latest big thing online, even finding itself a mention on FOX News.

Due to the exclusiveness of Google+, it remains to be seen just how popular it will become and if it will actually grow in popularity to rival Facebook, as Facebook once did to Myspace.  Google was forced to shut down its invite system given the huge demand for entrance into its social network which has simply created more demand; Google+ invites can now even be bought on Ebay.  Meanwhile, Facebook has a developed network with over 130 million users and counting which makes it a formidable social network to compete with- one that until now has faced little direct competition.

Google+, however, offers many of Facebook’s features in a much more re...

01 July 2011

The Lowdown on Google+

Google has made a few attempts to get into the social networking market, particularly to compete with Facebook, but thus far has seen limited success.  Google Buzz was nailed over privacy concerns, Google Orkut never caught on, and Google Wave was a dismal failure.  Google’s latest stab at social media is Google+ (Google Plus).  Currently, it is invite only and Google took down invites temporarily so only those who were invited are able to use the network, making it seem pretty exclusive.

Unfortunately, Google stands at a disadvantage with Google+ given the fact that Facebook and Twitter are already well-established, and Google’s previous attempts at social networking never caught on and were never really liked.  However, it appears that they have been busy introducing new features across Google as a foundation for Google+ for a while now, and with great results.   The new +1 button for sharing sites in search results and articles from blogs takes the place of Facebook’s ...

22 June 2011

What Site to Trust Next

As Dropbox is my favorite (and currently, only) cloud storage provider, I place a lot of trust in them in, both in terms of reliability (they are my backup system) and security (I store my journal with them).  I trust Dropbox with a huge part of my digital life, so I stay up to date on their company goings-on in order to make sure my trust is not misplaced, and thus far, it has not been.

However, on Sunday Dropbox had a particularly bad security issue; a software update left all accounts accessible without a password for a little over 4 hours, at which point the issue was fixed; though 1% of Dropbox’s millions of users were affected.  The issue was kept relatively quiet; the Dropbox crew emailed all affected users, and posted a low-key announcement on their blog that was picked up by a number of other blogs.  It comes at a bad time for Dropbox, given Sony’s recent issues and the wave of hacking going on that even allegedly resulted in the UK’s 2011 Census data being stole...

16 June 2011

Losing the Cursor

Every new “era” in computing starts a new battle between the large companies.  Everything from simply going online (at one point in time, not so simple), to the interface we’re familiar with on our computers has gone through the battle of the companies, generally the “big names” in software such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and the like.  The latest issue appears to be one that will impact everyone who keeps up with the latest trends in software, one that has already started but hasn’t gained a lot of speed in terms of publicity yet.  Apple pioneered the so-called “Tablet War” with the iPhone/iTouch and a little more recently, the iPad, and they are currently the best selling tablet on the market.  Android from Google is available on tablets and phones as well, giving Google a place as the other major contender.

However, due to the divide between the personal computer and the tablet, issues are arising with how the new interface is rolled out, as it appears that the new to...

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