Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vending Machine Fail

Actually, the machine still works, but the little touchscreen experienced an application crash - "vendorbot" I would assume. Also interesting the it's running Windows CE from August of 2010.

Wonder if the "remote desktop" or "messenger" apps work!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Are Open-Source Skills the Key for Finding a Job?

At first blush, Matt Asay thinks so, but digging a little deeper he determines that it's not so clear cut.

Open-source skills best hope for landing a good job:

In the midst of a weakening global economy and rampant uncertainty as to when the recession will lift from North America and Western Europe, one thing is certain: open-source technology skills may be the best hope for landing a good job. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, open source claims five of the top 10 keywords in's job listings, with Hadoop, Puppet, Android, and jQuery making the list, along with HTML5, a proxy for various open-source projects like ext-JS, SproutCore, etc.

But before you rip up your Microsoft Certified IT Professional certification, it pays to balance rising trends against dominant technologies.

Using, it's clear to see that interest in open technologies such as Drupal, Hadoop, and jQuery is exploding:

However, the picture becomes a bit murkier when you start adding in search terms like Microsoft's SharePoint:

And gets even worse when throwing in "Oracle", ".Net", and "Windows":

Nice Overview of Network Attacks

From Deb Shinder Network Encroachment Methodologies:

In this article, we will go over several of the more common network encroachment and attack methods that can be used alone, or in conjunction with each other or with additional attacks to compromise a network.


There are a number of methods that persons wishing to circumvent your network security can use in order to gain access to information. In order to protect against them, it’s important for you to understand what each is, how they work, and the threats that they present for your network. While not comprehensive, here is a list of some of the more common methods used by intruders and attackers:

  • Snooping
  • Spoofing
  • Password Compromise
  • Denial of Service Attacks
  • Man in the Middle Attacks
  • Application Level Attacks
  • Key Compromise

Kindle Fire Update Begins Cat-and-Mouse Game with Hackers

Andrew Tarantola and Chris Beidelman reporting ...

Kindle Fire Auto-Update Scorches Roots and Potentially Shutters Android Marketplace:

Amazon rolled out its newest software update for the Kindle Fire—version 6.2—last night. Initial reports indicate that it both de-roots your jailbroken device and removes access to the Android Marketplace.

Smartphone on Wheels


From Rik Myslewski Toyota unveils 'smartphone on four wheels':

Toyota has introduced a concept car with touchscreen doors, digitally customizable exterior and interior, collision-avoidance tech, car-to-car networking, and more – and for reasons known only to the marketing mind, they call it the Fun-Vii.


"We thought it would be fun to put a smartphone on four wheels," said Toyota president Akio Toyoda when rolling out the car ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, to be held at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center. "This idea led to the birth of the Fun-Vii."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WiFI News: Ruckus Wireless Introduces ChannelFly

Stephen Lawson reporting –

Ruckus Tackles Channel-changing in Wi-Fi:

Ruckus Wireless took another shot at optimizing Wi-Fi capacity on Monday, introducing a technology called ChannelFly that is designed to place network clients on the best possible channel based on the actual capacity of that channel.

Because Wi-Fi uses unlicensed radio spectrum, Wi-Fi networks are susceptible to interference from Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens and other spectrum users, as well as from other Wi-Fi systems. The two bands where it works, in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges, can be divided into several channels. But the growing number of Wi-Fi devices and networks all have to contend for the use of those channels.

Intelligently assigning clients to the various channels is one way of making the best use of a network's capacity, and other vendors have targeted this solution. For example, in 2008, Aruba Networks introduced its Adaptive Radio Management 2.0 network management software, one purpose of which was making better channel assignments. Ruckus, which pioneered beamforming, another Wi-Fi optimization technique, said it has taken a new approach to picking channels with ChannelFly.

The software, which is available free for all Ruckus access points, determines how long it takes each packet to traverse the network in order to gauge the performance offered by each channel. It uses both current and cumulative results to predict which channel will be the best for a client to use. The access point communicates a change of channel to the client via the IEEE 802.11h standard.

By contrast, most other channel selection systems involve an access point passively listening for evidence of interference or congestion in adjacent bands, said David Stiff, director of product management at Ruckus. ChannelFly directly measures the impact of interference or congestion on actual packets.

Try out Windows Phone 7.5 Mango on Your iPhone

From Steven Sande

Try out Windows Phone 7.5 Mango with your iPhone:

How do you sample a juicy Mango without actually catching cooties from touching a Windows Phone? It's easy -- just point your browser to, and you are presented with a sparkly representation of the Windows Phone 7.5 Metro UI that you can touch and swipe.

Transform iCloud into a Travel Hub?

Intriguing idea from Jon Stokes Apple Needs a Cloud Strategy, So It Should Buy Hipmunk and Tripit:

The WSJ reports that Apple is looking to hire high-level cloud experts to help guide the company’s cloud strategy. This is an encouraging move, because a fresh vision is exactly what Apple needs if it’s going to pivot from offering device-centric user experiences to network-centric user experiences. The very best way to get that vision, and to turn iCloud from a “me too” version of Google Apps into something uniquely compelling in its own right, would be for Apple to buy fistfuls of great startups that could super-charge iCloud with one or both of the following characteristics:

  1. iCloud should give users the ability to do something they already do in a better, more fun, or more convenient way.
  2. iCloud needs a network effect, such that iCloud users will routinely say to non-users, “Hey, even though you don’t own an Apple product, you still need to sign up for iCloud so that we can do this particular thing together.”

To that end, I’d like to suggest that if Apple is serious about developing a cloud strategy that isn’t doomed to failure, it should “think different(ly)” about its approach to product innovation and buy both Hipmunk and Tripit.

Follow Your Passion – Do What's Fun!

Great story from Mike Swanson on how he gave up his full-time gig as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft to become a full-time iOS developer. Some key observations Swanson makes:
Not only was I hooked, but I was constantly learning new things, challenging myself, and having fun all at the same time!
in the summer of 2011, it hit me: I’m having so much fun writing mobile software for Juicy Bits, why don’t I make it my full time job?

Juicy Bits:

After some frustrating weeks learning Objective-C (thankfully, I already knew C/C++), I managed to build an app called 3D Camera that was released in May, 2009. I created a “novelty” app primarily because I didn’t have time to maintain servers or other back-end infrastructure, and I wanted a fun app that nobody would depend on. I also needed an app that the press wouldn’t find very interesting. After all, my day job was still as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, and nobody needed that article.

At the time, most of my decisions were based on experimentation, and I never expected that this side project would turn into anything real. I told one of my friends that I’d be happy if I could make enough money to pay for a new camera lens. My company name, Juicy Bits, was concocted on short notice so I could release 3D Camera in the App Store. If I knew that it would eventually become my full-time job, I probably would have put more thought into the name!

Since then, Juicy Bits has served as an after-hours technical playground. I didn’t need it to pay the bills, so I was free to experiment. I continued to build novelty apps, and I tried running sales, creating “lite” versions, altering pricing, using social media, and just about anything that could teach me more about this new marketplace. Not only was I hooked, but I was constantly learning new things, challenging myself, and having fun all at the same time!

But I couldn’t tell anyone about it. Only my wife and one of my closest friends knew what I was doing.

As my skills improved, I was able to create and release more apps. In June, 2009, I packaged-up some of my close-up nature photos and published a gallery of wallpaper images. Those gallery apps have gone through some revisions to become Nature Images, Nature Images HD, and Textures HD. While they’re not big sellers, each release has taught me just a little bit more about how the app marketplace works.

In December, 2009, I released Spy Pix. It’s yet another novelty (and photography) app that uses a technique called steganography to hide one image inside of another. Imagine my surprise when I learned that it’s popular with college kids who like to send…err…special photos to each other. Who knew!?

(Via Daring Fireball)

X-Scan – Basic Free Network Vulnerability Scanner

X-Scan by XFocus – Basic Free Network Vulnerability Scanner:

X-Scan is a general scanner for scanning network vulnerabilities for specific IP address range or stand-alone computer by multi-threading method, plug-ins are supported. This is an old tool (last update in 2005), but some people still find it useful and there are certain situations where it can be useful (especially in those jurassic companies using old kit).

It supports Nessus NASL plugins for vulnerability scanning – which makes it pretty useful. It also has both a GUI and command line version for scripting.

The following items can be scanned:

  • Remote OS type and version detection,
  • Standard port status and banner information,
  • SNMP information,
  • CGI vulnerability detection,
  • IIS vulnerability detection,
  • RPC vulnerability detection,
  • SSL vulnerability detection,
  • SQL-server,
  • FTP-server,
  • SMTP-server,
  • POP3-server,
  • NT-server weak user/password pairs authentication module,
  • NT server NETBIOS information,
  • Remote Register information, etc.

Kindle Fire a Bad Sign for Open Platforms?

Anastasia Salter's First Impressions of the Kindle Fire:

The first-generation Kindle Fire is a strange combination of both worlds, and while it fails to fully satisfy as either it does promise to leave its mark on our media consumption devices and perhaps even make an appearance in our classrooms or our own toolkits for travel and meetings.

The Kindle Fire has a few immediate selling points. It’s fairly light, and fits in a decent-sized purse or bag without any trouble. It’s the first time I’ve been convinced that there’s hope for this tablet size, perhaps even as a future replacement for smart phone sized devices. At $200, it’s also a better deal than most tablets on the market. The streaming video content and library-like elements of Amazon Prime membership also offer Netflix some competition.

The user experience of the Kindle Fire is less well-realized beyond these first impressions. The Kindle Fire eliminates interface buttons on the front surface entirely and finding the way back to the main screen can be difficult. The interface bar launcher that stays on-screen with many apps is an unattractive waste of a sliver of screen real estate. In my first hours with the device I was annoyed by several responsiveness problems and found typing to be extremely awkward. While some apps have good on-screen keyboards, the default Kindle Fire keyboard is cramped. For serious notetaking during meetings, it may not be your best bet. Kindle Fire’s much-touted web browser, Silk, also seems slow and clunky compared to the iPad or even Android’s standard smartphone browser.


And right now, the apps are still a problem for the Kindle Fire. The app marketplace is still limited, and the number of apps actually optimized for the Kindle Fire is even smaller. I tried a few ProfHacker favorites, such as Evernote, which worked as well as they do on a Android smartphone but not remarkably better. Unlike the difference between apps optimized for the iPad versus the iPhone, which often differ in resolution and interface, there are very few tablet optimized apps for Kindle Fire at this point. I tried a Kindle Fire optimized version of Plants vs. Zombies and happily wasted an hour or two, and the optimized app did look much better than many others. If the Kindle Fire gets enough market share, more apps will likely follow suit.


Ultimately, Amazon seems to be trying to make an Apple device to tame the Android world—complete with the same digital rights management and control concerns as the iPad. If this device is successful, and the future of Android points more towards systems like this one, it’s a bad sign for open platforms.


Best VPN Software for Windows?

At least according to the readers of

Menlo Logic AccessPoint SSL VPN Software - Voted Readers' Choice Award Winner - VPN Software:

Menlo Logic AccessPoint SSL VPN Softwarewas selected the winner in the VPN Software category of the Readers’ Choice Awards.Checkpoint VPN-1 PowerandAstaro Network Securitywere runner-up and second runner-up respectively.

AccessPoint SSL VPN Software

1stMenlo Logic AccessPoint SSL VPN Software23%
2ndCheckpoint VPN-1 Power19%
3rdAstaro Network Security15%
4thBarracuda SSL VPN12%
5thSecurepoint Security UTM Software7%
6thWinfrasoft VPN-Q 20105%
7thCelestix MSA Threat Management Gateway Series1%
7thViPNet OFFICE1%
8thInfoExpress VTCP/Secure0%



PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Tell Congress not to censor the internet NOW! -

PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting "creativity". The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites-- they just have to convince a judge that the site is "dedicated to copyright infringement."

The government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill would cost us $47 million tax dollars a year — that's for a fix that won't work, disrupts the internet, stifles innovation, shuts out diverse voices, and censors the internet. This bill is bad for creativity and does not protect your rights.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet on Vimeo:


NY Times Magic Mirror

magic mirror

NYTLabs Magic Mirror Reveals News and Health Statistics - information aesthetics:

The Magic Mirror [], developed by The New York Times Research & Development Lab (with Alexis Lloyd, among others) has just been selected as one of Time's "50 Best Inventions" of 2011. It is probably the best gadget to fullfil those urgent craves from the data addicted, during those few moments they cannot reach their smart phones.

At first sight, the mirror looks like any normal plain, reflective surface. However, next to showing one's reflection, this mirror is also able to deliver daily news and weather details while brushing your teeth or combing your hear. It combines a Philips Mirror TV with a Microsoft Kinect camera to allow you to access all sorts of information while admiring your own reflection. For instance, the mirror can check one's daily calendar and social feeds, and displays all sorts of statistics regarding one's health, including historical sleep patterns or walking activity.

New York Times R&D Lab: Health and the "magic mirror" from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

New York Times R&D Lab: Retail and the "magic mirror" from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

Reveal Project - Personal Data Mirror from NYT R&D on Vimeo.

Coursekit Launches Today

Zachary Lichaa reports that Coursekit launches. A Blackboard alternative created by students – brilliant!

One month after Techstars Demo Day, Courskit has launched.

We first wrote about the startup in May when the founders raised a $1 million seed round and dropped out of University of Pennsylvania.

Since then, the "more social Blackboard" site has been quietly testing the product at 30 universities across the country. It now has about 3,500 users and 80 college student ambassadors.

Courskit is a social network for higher education. It connects students with teaches using course management tools and social media tools. It gives academic instructors a free way to post materials and engage with students regarding the subject matter at hand at anytime.

But do teachers want to communicate with their students around the clock?

Founders Joe Cohen, Dan Getelman, and Jim Grandpe believe they do.

“Our goal is to turn courses into communities online. Because when that happens, amazing things follow: people share ideas, make new relationships, ask questions, and get to know each other,” said Cohen, Coursekit’s CEO. “It transforms the learning experience from something that happens twice a week into a continuous conversation.”

Hacking Siri to Start Your Car

Chris Velazco reporting – New Siri Hack Will Start Your Car:

While Apple’s engineers toil away deep in the heart of their Cupertino headquarters, developers have taken it upon themselves to make Siri even more impressive than usual. Forget about setting reminders and checking the weather — with a little bit of know-how (and a homebrew proxy server), Siri can start your car for you.

Developer Brandon Fiquett is behind this little hack, and boy what a hack it is. Building off the same Siri Proxy server that allowed @plamoni to control a thermostat over WiFi, Fiquett created a plugin that interacts with a PHP script that lives on his own webserver. That PHP script allows Fiquett to send commands to any (registered) car with a Viper SmartStart system, which in this case means his silver Acura TL.

The end result is just as impressive as it sounds: when asked, Siri can fire up his Acura’s engine, pop its trunk, lock the doors, and trigger the car’s alarms (not that anyone really pays attention to them).

South Korea to Ban Late Night Gaming for Minors

Natalie Apostolou reporting Sth Korean gamers suffer joystick curfew shock:

A ban restricting all South Korean gamers under 16 from playing online games between midnight and 6am is now in full affect.

South Korea, boasting the fifth largest broadband penetration rate, is the first country to implement the controversial initiative under the Youth Protection Revision bill.

The bill, variously known as the Shutdown Law or Cinderella Law, had been contested but was eventually passed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kindle Fire for $123

Anna Heim reporting Kindle Fire's on Sale: $123:

How much do you think a Kindle Fire cost? If you answer is $199, think again. Amazon’s latest tablet is currently available for $123.38 at Walmart and Target, The Verge reports.

The History Of The Modem

Great infographic! – shared by Mark O'Neill

INFOGRAPHIC : The History Of The Modem:



Great Tables - The Coffee Kind

Suzy Lelièvre:

Loving these tables fromSuzy Lelièvry‘s Contorsions series.



Mac vs. PC Security – Is It That Simple?

Daniel Miessler thinks so – I'm not so sure … Mac vs. PC Security In One Sentence:

If you follow Information Security at all or have been part of a PC vs. Mac discussion at any level, you’ve probably come across the timeless question of:

What’s more secure, Mac or PC?

Well, there’s an analogy from renowned security researcher Charlie Miller that elegantly captures the answer in a single sentence:

Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town.

In other words, less security with less exposure (OS X) vs. more security with more exposure (Windows).

In short, having a secure operating system and being safe are two different things. Exposure matters. So even though Windows is technically more resistant to attack, people using it are still less safe than if they were to use OS X.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Windows 8 Bootkit Bypassing UAC

Windows 8 Bootkit Demo from Peter Kleissner on Vimeo.

Pulkit Chandna reports - Security researcher demos Windows 8 bootkit bypassing UAC:

Few men can lay claim to being ahead of their time like Peter Kleissner. While most of us were busy playing around with the Windows 8 Developer Preview, this Austrian security researcher was vetting it for possible vulnerabilities. Whatever he was up to seems to have worked. Kleissner has successfully identified a vulnerability in this early version of the upcoming operating system and even posted a video of his proof-of-concept “Stoned Lite” bootkit successfully exploiting this flaw. Hit the jump for the video.

Here is a video of his 14KB bootkit called Stoned Lite successfully bypassing Windows 8 User Account Control. “This shows how to use Stoned Lite to get SYSTEM rights on Windows 8 through the cmd privilege escalation (done by a driver loaded by the bootkit). The infector is just 14 KB of size and bypasses the UAC,” reads the video’s description on Vimeo.

Upon being asked on Twitter if the exploit in any way circumvented UEFI, Kleissner clarified: “No it's not attacking UEFI or secure boot, right now working with the legacy BIOS only (details will be in the paper).”

With the release of Windows 8 still a fair way away, Microsoft has plenty of time to fix this bug discovered by Kleissner, who is a bootkit junkie of sorts having previously developed a bootkit called Stoned as a proof-of-concept for a vulnerability in Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2003.

Amazon a Bunch of Salesmen and Bean Counters

Bruce Eckel gives up on the Kindle Fire

Why I'm Returning My Kindle Fire:

So when the Fire was announced, I was already primed. I really liked the Kindle experience, and here was a tablet computer for only $199! It seemed like it was time to take the leap.

This was my first tablet computer so I assumed I'd have to compensate and adapt. The 7" screen makes selecting and typing a hit-and-miss affair; perhaps younger and nimbler fingers were having a better time of it.

Then I tried transferring an AVI video file to the device. No go; it simply didn't see the file. Also, there's no way to add memory so even if video files did work I wouldn't be able to put very many of them in (I found one or two blogs that said you had to translate them into MP4 format first, but following those instructions produced no joy. Apparently you also need to use a tool that will translate them and create a special profile file before the Fire will recognize it but I never got that far).

Then a really big surprise. I've been creating a tool to memorize lines for an upcoming play, and it creates a .mobi file (the Kindle format) so I can upload it to the Kindle and use it to prompt myself. This has been terrifically useful, and it's also pushed me through the process of learning how to create this Kindle-specific format.

Or so I thought.

It turns out the Fire doesn't read .mobi format. This completely stuns me -- Amazon has invested so much in having their own format which goes against the apparently more powerful EPUB format that I can't see how they wouldn't have built-in support for it in the Fire. But sure enough, I uploaded my .mobi files to the "books" directory of the Fire and they didn't show up. I understand that there's probably some way to manage all this stuff and get what you want but it seems like an uphill battle.

The more I used the Fire, the more it felt like I was looking through the wrong end of a spyglass and all I could see was Amazon. I had read that the Fire is designed as a consumption device for Amazon products but I hadn't believed that they would go to so much trouble to hobble what should be a general purpose computer. This is an unfortunate sign for the company; it means that the people who are running it are salesmen and bean counters who are more concerned about what a product does for the company and its bottom line than what it actually does for the customer.

Still, I was determined to try to make a go of the Fire because its $199 price tag seemed to be a breakthrough for tablets and could motivate a lot of people to get one, so I should know about them.

Then I went to Costco. There, I saw a $189 Vizio Android tablet which was not only 8" (vs. 7" for the Fire) but also had things like a camera and expandable memory. So there went the price advantage. Next to it was a 10.1" Acer Iconia Tab A500 for $319, sporting the very latest Android as well as things like a GPS and front and back cameras. The size alone drove me to this one.

The feel between the Acer and the Fire is nothing short of totally different. From the first moment, the Acer feels like a real computer, one which is trying to enable you rather than restrict you.

The Case for a Facebook Smartphone

Jean-Louis Gassée with a really astute analysis of the rumored Facebook smartphone.

A Facebook Smartphone – Why?:

At the end of last week’s Monday Note, I briefly wondered about the rumored Amazon smartphone. Would it follow the Kindle Fire strategy: Pick Android’s lock and sell the device at or below cost in order to lubricate the wheels of Amazon’s e-commerce of tangible and intangible things?

This week, we have the rebirth of another story: the Facebook phone. All Things D, the Wall Street Journal’s site dedicated to… All Things Digital, aired a series of postsfocused on Facebook’s hypothetical jump into the smartphone fray. Given the site’s reputation for reliable sources and real writing, this must be more than idle speculation floated for pageviews.

But what’s going on? Why would Facebook — or Amazon — create its own smartphone?

Get an Apple II on Ebay for $6,100

Original, working 1977 Apple II sells on Ebay for $6,100:

One of the first 3,000 complete units made

An original and completely unmodified 1977-era Apple II computer, including the original Integer ROMs, has fetched $6,100 at auction on Ebay. Remarkably, the unit is still in full working condition despite its age, and is from very early on in the Apple II's production run, with a "revision 0," or original design, logic board. The complete unit has a serial number of #2812, light green expansion slots and was never upgraded to display six colors.

The seller, located in Lebanon Ohio, positioned the unit as being for a serious Apple collector only due to the scarcity of a 1977 unit that is both working and was never upgraded to the more useful Applesoft ROMs in 1979. The machine, largely designed by Steve Wozniak, is in excellent cosmetic condition and represents one of the first "complete" pre-assembled computers consumers could buy. It originally retailed for a minimum of $1,298 (with 4KB of RAM).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Review of Ice Cream Sandwich

Farhad Manjoo's review - Android Needs a Heart - begins very positively, but ends with this:

I don’t want to sound too negative: Ice cream sandwich represents a great improvement for much of Android, and I think it’s a credible rival to the iPhone and Windows. But of the three major smartphone operating systems, Android is still by far the most confusing. It’s also the least likely to inspire joy.

China's Controversial Solution to Unemployment

Laurie Burkitt reports on China's unusual approach to stemming growing unemployment of college graduates. I have no doubt that many colleges would like to trim their offerings in a similar way. China to cancel college majors that don't pay:

Much like the U.S., China is aiming to address a problematic demographic that has recently emerged: a generation of jobless graduates. China’s solution to that problem, however, has some in the country scratching their heads.

China’s Ministry of Education announced this week plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates, according to state-run media Xinhua. The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work.

The move is meant to solve a problem that has surfaced as the number of China’s university educated have jumped to 8,930 people per every 100,000 in 2010, up nearly 150% from 2000, according to China’s 2010 Census. The surge of collge grads, while an accomplishment for the country, has contributed to an overflow of workers whose skillsets don’t match with the needs of the export-led, manufacturing-based economy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Positive Review of the Kindle Fire

Erick Schonfeld likes the Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire, What Is It Good For?:

The Fire is a standout media tablet that does a few things very well and I am going to tell you what they are.

I’ve been using a Kindle Fire for the past two weeks (that is, when my kids or wife haven’t absconded to another room with it). The device passes my first test: my family fights over it. The Fire is kid-tested, and mother-approved. Fruit Ninja is the new obsession with my young children. Even my two-year-old, who loves the iPad, is increasingly eyeing the Kindle Fire and scheming ways to get her Mom out of the room so she can play with it. My wife will have none of that, she’s reading Joan Didion’s latest book on the Fire. I sneak it away from the bedside table when everyone is asleep at night to watch old episodes of Arrested Development.

The Kindle Fire is purpose-built to find and consume digital media: books, movies and TV shows, music, magazines, apps, and the web. It is more limited in its capabilities than an iPad, but in these areas it holds its own.

Google's Chromebook

Is Google's Chromebook a Failure?:

After we spotted an advertisement for the Chromebook on Google Chrome's new tab page, followed by the recent drop in price of some Chromebook laptops, we started to wonder, "Is Google's Chromebook a failure?"

Earlier this week, Google announced that the price of some Chromebook laptops -- the Acer, which is rumored to have only sold 5K devices, and Samsung Chromebooks -- will drop by as much as 30% down to $299.

Google also recently updated the user interface on the Chromebook to sport a new login screen and started offering Chromebooks for in-flight use on select domestic Virgin America flights.

Matt Rosoff from Business Insider recently wrote that even though Google cut the cost of Chromebooks, it probably still won't sell. He even said, "they should keep cutting prices and make them free."

The Kindle Fire and Education

Audrey Watters considers The Kindle Fire As Educational Tablet?:

The initial reviews for the new Kindle Fire have been fairly lukewarm, many tech punditspronouncing that the new Amazon tablet will be no iPad killer. That may well be true, although there is already speculation about which device will be hotter this holiday season.

But just how hot will the Kindle Fire be in education?


The Kindle Fire, unlike the iPad however, really doesn't seem to be targeting any aspect of the educational market. There's no educational app category, for starters, and I really doubt we'll see the sort of edu-focused advertising campaign for the Kindle Fire like we did with Apple's "Learn" ad. There's no Inkling app, no Kno app, no Coursesmart app -- not really a surprise as these are all e-textbook apps as well as e-bookstores.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Classic TV via Cory Doctorow

WKRP's Turkey Drop, short attention span theater edition

MacBook Air for $850

Great deal from Amazon!

Amazon drops new 11-inch MacBook Air to $850:

Amazon has joined in a rare price race on Macs by dropping the price on the 11-inch MacBook Air. A brand-new, 1.6GHz Core i5 version of the ultraportable has dropped to $850, a full $150 less than its retail price. The discount is steeper than what's expected from Apple, which may stop at $898.

Linux Mint Gains at Ubuntu's Expense

Ubuntu mint 0022

Disgruntled Ubuntu Unity Users Flock in Droves to Linux Mint:

Don’t panic Ubuntu fans but your favorite desktop Linux distribution has fallen to fourth place in DistroWatch’s latest ranking.

Ubuntu has been overtaken by Fedora, Mint, and openSUSE. Mint now holds the number one spot in all of DistroWatch’s rankings going back at least a year, which leads us to wonder why.

One reason behind this reversal of fortune for Ubuntu could be the change of default interface in version 11.04 or “Natty Narwhal”, released in April 2011. With the new Ubuntu came Unity, an interface previously seen in Ubuntu Netbook Edition, and Gnome was relegated to an option.

There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Unity. Now it seems like Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, may be paying the price for the change.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Excluding iPads Sales"

John Gruber does a nice job of analyzing NPDs convoluted tablet sales report. ★ Fun With Numbers:

Yesterday the NPD Group issued a report on U.S. tablet sales in the U.S., from January through October of 2011. Worth noting up front is that the numbers in this report are about sales — actual tablets sold to actual customers — not “shipments” from the factory to stores and warehouses.Much-reported on is that second-place went to HP, after its fire sale on the discontinued TouchPad. What hasn’t gotten much commentary is the extraordinarily contorted way that NPD reported these numbers.

WiFi Survey App

WiFi Survey App for Mac OS X at WLAN

Very early version of WiFi Survey App for Mac OS below.


Project the Volume on Your iPad

Thorin Klosowski shares a clever little hack – Project the Volume on Your iPad with a Post-It Note:

If you're gathering around your iPad or tablet to show off home movies over the holiday, chances are the volume doesn't get loud enough for everyone to hear. Instructables user MomDuck slapped on a Post-It note to better project the sound.

It doesn't actually have to be a Post-It Note, a piece of paper will also work if you slide it into the case, but as a quick, readily available way to better project sound, it works in a pinch. Just slap the Post-It note near the speaker on your tablet, fold it slightly into a V-shape and you've got a mini projection system. It's obviously not going to win any design awards, but it'll make gathering around the tablet a little more enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

China Blocking Encrypted Tunnels

From Sophie Beach - China Blocks Encrypted Tunnels Through Great Firewall:

Forbes reports that administrators of China’s Great Firewall Internet censorship system appear to be testing a new roadblock for encrypted connections which previously could access blocked websites:

In the cat-and-mouse game between Chinese censors and Internet users, the government seems to be testing a new mousetrap–one that may be designed to detect and block tunnels through its even when the data in those tunnels is aimed at a little-known computer and obscured by encryption.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The $345,000 Burger

From Kate Kelland –  First lab-grown burger to cost $345,000 to produce. Doesn't sound very appetizing!

Scientists are cooking up new ways of satisfying the world's ever-growing hunger for meat.

"Cultured meat" - burgers or sausages grown in laboratory Petri dishes rather than made from slaughtered livestock - could be the answer that feeds the world, saves the environment and spares the lives of millions of animals, they say.

Granted, it may take a while to catch on. And it won't be cheap.

The first lab-grown hamburger will cost about $345,000 to produce, according to Mark Post, a vascular biologist at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, who hopes to unveil such a delicacy soon.

Experts say the meat's potential for saving animals' lives, land, water, energy and the planet itself could be enormous.

"The first one will be a proof of concept, just to show it's possible," Post said from his Maastricht lab. "I believe I can do this in the coming year."

It may sound and look like some kind of imitation, but in-vitro or cultured meat is a real animal flesh product, just one that has never been part of a complete, living animal - quite different from imitation meat or meat substitutes aimed at vegetarians and made from vegetable proteins like soy.

Using stem cells harvested from leftover animal material from slaughterhouses, Post nurtures them with a feed concocted of sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way.

ExtraPuTTY - Potential Alternative to PuTTY [Windows only]

ExtraPuTTY | Fork of PuTTY:

ExtraPuTTY is a fork from 0.60 version of PuTTY.

ExtraPuTTY has all the features from the original soft and adds others.

Below a short list of the principal features (see all features):

  • DLL frontend
  • TestStand API
  • timestamp
  • Scripting a session with lua.
  • Automatic sequencing of commands.
  • Shortcuts for pre-defined command.
  • Portability (use of directories structure)
  • Integrates PuTTYcyg, HyperLink, zmodem and session manager projects

It is written and maintained primarily by Sebastien Blavier and Simon Tatham (team's) for PuTTY.
ExtraPuTTY is free and only designed for Microsoft Windows platform.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do Print Books Have Value That E-books Do Not?

Matt Richtel and Julie Bosman reporting for the NY Times – For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper:

Print books may be under siege from the rise of e-books, but they have a tenacious hold on a particular group: children and toddlers. Their parents are insisting this next generation of readers spend their early years with old-fashioned books.

This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals.

Could Apple Still Launch Their Own Wireless Carrier?

Following news that Steve Jobs had hoped to create an alternative to cellular carriers using unlicensed WiFi spectrum, Jean-Louis Gassée considers the case for The Apple Wireless Carrier (Part 2)

End of story? Not quite.

Take a look at the recently-announced Republic Wireless, a hybrid carrier that rides on a combination of WiFi networks and cellular infrastructure. The phone, a LG Optimus Android device, costs $199 upfront and the service goes for $19/month, with unlimited minutes, data, and text. No hidden fees, just sales tax. Free roaming in the US over Sprint’s network. Free WiFi calls to the US from anywhere in the world. No contract, no termination fee, cancel when you want. This is far from the $100+/month, two-year indentureship that AT&T offers its iPhone users.

Reactions to the new service, one of a broad array offered by (a Carolina company that presents itself as a “Complete BUSINESS Communications Provider”) range from guarded to enthusiastic. As Ina Fried of All Things D points out, Some Restrictions (Still) Apply:

“…the company wants to deliver most of its service over Wi-Fi, using cellular more as a backup for when Wi-Fi isn’t available. Customers who…gobble up too much cellular data or wireless minutes will be asked to find another carrier.”

The company buys 3G network capacity from Sprint. Return too often to the “all you can eat” network buffet and management will escort you out.

We’ll have to wait a few months to see what happens next. Will Republic Wireless grow into a viable, disruptive business, proving Jobs was right to look for a way to build a hybrid carrier? Will its business model fail because $19/month won’t be enough to pay the Sprint bill? Or will Republic Wireless end up as a beta for Apple’s own hybrid network?

Gaming and Learning

Great post from Lisa Nielsen - well worth reading!

Video Games for Learning? Why Not?:

The Atari-generation often defaults to an automatic mindset that books are for learning and games are for play. However, many have no accurate frame of reference. The types of games kids are learning with today, were not available to them when they were children. At their most basic level video games are similar to books. Books can be anything—trashy novels, historical fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, classic literature—each type with varying potential for learning. Likewise, today's video games offer different purposes and varying levels of usefulness when it comes to learning. Adults should focus on the type of learning they want to support in young people, and then consider if games are a good tool for that.

Here are some of the more popular types of games students use for learning today:

  • Drill and Kill
  • Health and Fitness
  • Simulation
“I don’t want to study Rome in high school. Heck,
I build Rome every day in my online game (Caesar III).”
– Colin, Age 16

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hacking Satellites

Chinese hackers took control of NASA satellite for 11 minutes:

Hacking is becoming a growing problem on Earth. It may seem strange to mention Earth, as there’s not much to hack outside of our planet’s atmosphere unless you count satellites. Even then, how feasible would it be to gain access to the systems running such devices?

Well, China not only has people working on such things, it has been discovered they actually managed to take control of two NASA satellites for more than 11 minutes.

The successful attacks occurred in 2007 and 2008. The more serious of the two happened in ’08 when NASA had control of the Terra EOS earth observation system satellite disrupted for 2 minutes in June, and then a further 9 minutes in October. During that time, whoever took control had full access to the satellites’ systems, but chose to do nothing with it.

The second hack affected the Landsat-7 satellite on two occasions, one in October of ’07, the other in July of ’08. Unlike the Terra OS incident, this hack did not see control taken away, but access was gained.

What's the Kindle Fire Best For?

As always, great post by The Macalope!

The Macalope Weekly: Making excuses:

The one thing that all the reviewers seem to agree that Amazon really gets right with the Kindle Fire is the shopping experience. That is, of course, the Kindle Fire’sraison d’être. So, if you’re looking for a more stylish, mobile way to buy more things from Amazon, this is definitely the tablet for you.

Kill Bill: David Versus Goliath

Great story from Denise Grollmus detailing one college kids' legal fight against Microsoft. Microsoft's Army Of Lawyers Was No Match For A Kid From Kent State:

David Zamos doesn't look as if he could single-handedly humiliate the world's largest software maker.

The well-built 21-year-old sips a jumbo cup of Starbucks coffee in the University of Akron's student union. He's looking dapper in pin-striped slacks, a navy pea coat, and a necklace of wooden beads that hugs his wide neck.

Thanks to massive doses of caffeine, Zamos (whose name rhymes with "famous") anxiously taps his Camper lace-ups against the table. A laptop sits to his right, a fat black binder to his left.

The only thing setting him apart from the other late-night crammers is that his notebook isn't filled with study guides. It's overflowing with documents from the federal lawsuit Microsoft brought against him on December 21.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Serious" Games, Decision-Making, and the US Government

$10.5 Million isn't a whole lot of money for game development.

Michael Cooney reporting Raytheon gets $10.5M to develop “serious games”

These aren't your basic video gaming systems here.  The US government gave Raytheon BBN Technologies a $10.5 million today to develop what it called "serious games" that result in better decision-making by teaching players to recognize and diminish the effects of their own biases when analyzing information used to make decisions.

Under a contract from the government's cutting edge research group, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), Raytheon BBN will develop game-based training programs featuring an international detective theme developed by game designers, cognitive psychologists and experts in intelligence analysis and in measuring game-player engagement.

The gaming system will focus on certain types of bias that frequently hurt effective decision-making:

  • Confirmation bias -- the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms preconceptions.
  • Blind spot bias -- being less aware of one's own cognitive biases than those of others.
  • Fundamental attribution error -- over-emphasizing personality-based or character-based effects on behavior.
  • Anchoring bias -- relying too heavily on one trait or one piece of information.
  • Representative bias -- judging the likelihood of a hypothesis by its resemblance to immediately available data.
  • Projection bias -- assuming others share one's current feelings, values or thinking

Full Disk Encryption and Law Enforcement

From Sebastian Anthony Full disk encryption is too good, says US intelligence agency:

You might be shocked to learn this, but when a quivering-lipped Chloe from 24 cracks the encryption on a terrorist’s hard drive in 30 seconds, the TV show is faking it. “So what? It’s just a TV show.” Well, yes, but it turns out thatreal federal intelligence agencies, like the FBI, CIA, and NSA, also have a problem cracking encrypted hard disks — and according to a new research paper, this is a serious risk to national security.

The study, titled “The growing impact of full disk encryption on digital forensics,” illustrates the difficulty that CSI teams have in obtaining enough digital data to build a solid case against criminals. According to the researchers, one of which is a member of US-CERT — the US government’s primary defense against internet and digital threats — there are three main problems with full disk encryption (FDE): First, evidence-gathering goons can turn off a computer (for transportation) without realizing it’s encrypted, and thus can’t get back at the data (unless the arrestee gives up his password, which he doesn’t have to do); second, if the analysis team doesn’t know that the disk is encrypted, it can waste hours trying to read something that’s ultimately unreadable; and finally, in the case of hardware-level disk encryption, tampering with the device can trigger self-destruction of the data.

The paper does go on to suggest some ways to ameliorate these issues, though: Better awareness at the evidence-gathering stage would help, but it also suggests “on-scene forensic acquisition” of data, which involves ripping unencrypted data from volatile, live memory (with the cryogenic RAM freezing technique, presumably). Ultimately, though, the researchers aren’t hopeful: “Research is needed to develop new techniques and technology for breaking or bypassing full disk encryption,” concludes the paper.

Cotton Candy - A USB Stick Contains Dual-Core Computer

From Avram Piltch - this is very cool!


USB Stick Contains Dual-Core Computer, Turns Any Screen Into an Android Station:

Is that a USB key in your pocket or a dual-core computer? Today, Norwegian company FXI technologies showed off a USB stick-sized portable computer prototype, complete with a dual-core 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU (same as in the Galaxy S II), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI-out and a microSD card slot for memory. Codenamed Cotton Candy because its 21 gram weight is the same as a bag of the confection, the tiny PC enables what its inventor calls “Any Screen Computing,” the ability to turn any TV, laptop, phone, tablet, or set-top box into a dumb terminal for its Android operating system.

The Cotton Candy has a USB 2.0 connector on one end and an HDMI jack on the other. When connected to an HDTV, it uses the HDMI port for video, the USB for power, and Bluetooth to connect to a keyboard, mouse, or tablet for controlling the operating system. The device can output up to 1080p so even a full HD screen can display the Candy’s preloaded Android 2.3 operating system at its native resolution. The dual core CPU is powerful enough to play local 1080p video or stream HD clips from the Web. Learn more and see our hands on video below.

Verizon, The Galaxy Nexus, and Bloatware


More from Steve Kovach Verizon Is Going To Ruin The Best Part Of The Galaxy Nexus:

Google released a bunch of videosyesterday showing off the best features of the upcoming Galaxy Nexus andAndroidIce Cream Sandwich.

As an added bonus they give us a look at the Verizon LTE model that is due to hit the U.S. later this month.

But after watching the videos, I noticed something really disturbing. Verizon appears to be forcing bloatware like My Verizon Mobile and Verizon Backup Assistant onto the Galaxy Nexus.

That's awful. The beauty of Google's Nexus phones is that they're supposed to be pure Android. No bloatware, crapware, skins, or any other add-ons from carriers or manufactures. Just Android.

It's the same approach Apple takes with the iPhone and it's one of the biggest advantages iOS has over most Android phones.


Kindle Fire Tear Down

Some key details from Steve Kovach What's Inside The Kindle Fire? (AMZN):

The wizards at iFixit got their hands on Amazon's new slate, the Kindle Fire, and did what they do best.

The Kindle Fire has been ripped open, and all its juicy innards revealed. Here's what they found:

  • The power input view the Micro USB cable means the Kindle Fire takes a very long time to charge.
  • But the battery is massive. It takes up most of the space underneath the Fire's casing.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Tidbit on Kindle Fire from Ben Brooks

∞ A Review of “the First Serious iPad Competitor”, aka the Kindle Fire:

The digitizer is actually visible under bright lighting and reveals that it is spaced wider than on the iPad. Thus, I would assume, explaining most of the poor touch interaction on the device.


Ben Brook's Review of the Kindle Fire

∞ A Review of “the First Serious iPad Competitor”, aka the Kindle Fire:

The long and short of the Fire is that it does quite a few things, but doesn’t do any of them very well. It does many of these things really poorly.

It was about a year ago that I reviewed the original Samsung Galaxy Tab — one of the first Android tablets, also seven inches. The main problems with that tablet were: hardware, lack of software, the OS and the price. Amazon only fixes the price and the hardware (mostly) on the Fire, otherwise the device feels very similar — though more closed — than the Tab did a year ago.

That’s probably not something you want someone to ever say about a new tablet: “feels like one I used a year ago.” Tablets aren’t cars, they don’t get better with age, they just get sad with age.

Engineers Study More - Duh!

From Richard Perez-Pena College Student Survey Shows Balance of Work and Study:

Business majors spend less time on course work than other college students, but they devote more hours to nonschool duties, like earning money and caring for family members. In contrast, engineering students spend the most time studying and the least on outside demands.

Those are among the findings released on Thursday from the annual National Survey of Student Engagement, a project that tries to measure how hard, and how effectively, students are working. This year’s results are based on forms filled out last school year by more than 400,000 undergraduates, all of them freshmen or seniors, at nearly 700 colleges and universities in the United States.

Grouping students into seven academic disciplines, the study shows wide differences in the number of hours they put into schoolwork outside the classroom. Among students concentrating in engineering, 42 percent say they spend at least 20 hours per week on such study, well ahead of any other group.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

3 Random, Meaningless Stats

From Dan Frommer 3 random, meaningless stats, because I love you:

  1. 55.5 million people “Like” Facebook on Facebook, or about one for every 14.5 of its 800+ millionusers.
  2. @Twitter has 6.8 million followers on Twitter and has tweeted 1,222 times.
  3. Google has “About 12,240,000,000 results” for “google”. (Bonus: If you Google “search engine”, Google doesn’t show up on the first page of results. But Altavista, Lycos, and Webcrawler do.)

Walt Mossberg's Amazon Kindle Fire Review

Walt Mossberg's Amazon Kindle Fire Review:

This new $199 device is called the Kindle Fire, and after testing it for a week, I think it’s a good—though not a great—product and a very good value. It doesn’t just add color to the Kindle, it adds a robust ability to store and stream music, TV shows and movies—and a weaker ability to store and display color photos. And it offers about 8,500 apps at launch, including Netflix, Angry Birds and QuickOffice.

To be clear, the Kindle Fire is much less capable and versatile than the entry-level $499 iPad 2. It has a fraction of the apps, a smaller screen, much weaker battery life, a slower Web browser, half the internal storage and no cameras or microphone. It also has a rigid and somewhat frustrating user interface far less fluid than Apple’s.


Kindle Fire

But the Fire has some big things going for it. First, the $199 price, though the Fire’s seven-inch screen is less than half the surface area of the iPad’s display. Second, the Amazon and Kindle brands, already known and loved for e-readers and more. Third, Amazon is the only major tablet maker other than Apple with a large, famous, easy-to-use content ecosystem that sells music, video, books and periodicals. The Fire can be thought of as a hardware front end to all that cloud content.

Finally, while the Fire, like many other tablets, is based on Google’s Android operating system, Amazon has taken the bold step of hiding Android. It shuns its user interface and nearly all of Google’s apps and services, including Google’s app store. The Fire’s software is all about the content and apps Amazon has sold you and the easy purchase of more.

Publishers Not Happy With Kindle Lending Library?

From Nate Anderson

Kindle lending library "exercise of brute economic power," says Guild:

After seeing that a movie adaptation was in production, last week I downloaded Suzanne Collins' novel The Hunger Games—and I didn't pay a thing for it. But I didn't turn to piracy. Instead I visited, where the company's new "Kindle lending library" offers those with Kindle hardware and an Amazon Prime subscription one free book to read each month. It's a terrific new benefit for Prime users, and it's clearly designed to hook people on Amazon hardware (like the new Fire tablet) and digital content.

Amazon attracts more customers to e-books, readers get free content, and publishers get paid. Everyone's happy, right?

Wrong. The Authors Guild, which represents the interests of writers, blasted the program yesterday, saying that the lending library program is built on "nonsense" and a "tortured reading" of Amazon's contracts with publishers.

"Amazon, in other words, appears to be boldly breaching its contracts with these publishers," wrote the Guild. "This is an exercise of brute economic power."

Giving Up on Blackberry

Greg Herlein is Ditching Blackberry - Hello Siri:

I just reserved an iPhone 4S for pickup tomorrow.  I plan to turn off my Blackberry.  Of course, my day job only supports the ancient, slowly dying behemoth that is RIM.  Oh well.  I’ll pay extra for the tethering option and use my notebook to access work email over VPN.  Frankly, it’s better than paying the same dollars for an Enterprise Blackberry plan that gives me access to corporate email and an increasingly sucky mobile computing experience.  Today I swapped twitter clients, trying a new one.  And had to reboot my phone each time.  What?  Really?  A REBOOT to delete an app?  Come on RIM, what century are we in?   And which twitter clients do you support?  Seriously?  Did you fall off a cliff?  Oh, wait… you did.  What developer in their right mind would still support Blackberry?

I’m not some young kid demanding only the latest with no appreciation for the past.  I learned cobol on punch cards.  I coded my first program on a TRS-80 with 4K of RAM (yes, you young punks, there once was a computer that small).  The first computer I bought with my own money was an Osbourne.  I still remember how excited I was that Linux was ported to the Zaurus.  But I’ve also written Android code and published a game for the iPhone (MultiAlien).  The world has moved on, and fast.  It’s about the web.  It’s about modern operating systems.  My expectations are that modern vendors follow the curve.  I’d still be chasing Android if Google had not risked the livelihood of their whole ecosystem with their ignorance of Intellectual Property rights (which means that Larry will get an even better boat for the next America Cup race).  The only reason RIM has a market at all is that they have tentacles into corporate IT email.  When that is gone…  the company value plummets to NOTHING.  I’m serious.  They have NOTHING that I want.  And when that cliff hits…  you don’t want to have a Blackberry.  And I have carried a Blackberry for 7 years.  Until tomorrow.

Gaming Changes Brain

James Gallagher reporting for BBC News Computer gamers' brains 'differ':

The brains of people who regularly play computer games differ from those of infrequent gamers, research suggests.

A study in teenagers showed the "reward hub", which is involved in addiction, was larger in regular players.

A report in Translational Psychiatry said it was unknown if games changed the brain or if brain differences made people more likely to play.

Experts said more studies were needed for parents and teenagers to make sense of the findings.

Playing computer games has been linked to a range of effects from addiction to improved reasoning.

An international group of researchers investigated whether playing changed the structure of the brain.

They ranked 154 14-year-olds by the number of hours played in a week, with the middle teenagers playing about nine hours a week.

Those playing more than nine hours were classed as frequent players. None were classed as addicted.


Brain scans showed a larger ventral striatum, which is the hub of the brain's reward system, in regular gamers.

Dr Simone Kuhn, one of the researchers from Ghent University in Belgium, said the region is "usually activated when people anticipate positive environmental effects or experience pleasure such as winning money, good food, sex".

The region has been implicated in drug addiction.

The authors said it "cannot be determined" whether this was a "consequence" of gaming or if naturally larger regions led to a "vulnerability for preoccupation with gaming".

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No, You Cannot be a Professor

Larry Cebula's advice to students hoping to earn doctorates and pursue a career in higher ed. Open Letter to My Students: No, You Cannot be a Professor:

No, my esteemed student, you are not going to be a history professor. It isn't going to happen. The sooner you accept this the better.

This is not because you are not bright enough. You are plenty bright. In any case, finishing a Ph.D. program is more a matter of persistence than intelligence. The reason you are not going to be a professor is because that job is going away, and yet doctoral programs continue to produce as many new Ph.D.s as ever. It is a simple calculation of odds--you are not going to win the lottery, you are not going to be struck by a meteorite, you are not going to be a professor. All of these things will happen to someone, somewhere, but none of them will happen to you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More on Kindle Fire

According to Sebastian Anthony Kindle Fire's flames have been doused:

Ahead of tomorrow’s full-scale launch of Amazon’s new wunderkind, panacea, and lynchpin of its continuing distribution domination, initial reviews of the Kindle Fire are starting to trickle in… and they’re not as fantastic as we — or you — had hoped. Unsurprisingly, not a single review is denying that the bright screen, solid construction, and $200 price point make for a perfect holiday season outing — but to actually win the hearts of consumers, to steal those throbbing, Cupertino-captivated organs away from the iPad, the Kindle Fire has to be amazing… and it isn’t.

Throughout almost every review, one particularly telling observation rears its ugly head: the Kindle Fire can be sluggish. For the most part, and judging by some video reviews, the Fire is snappy — but sometimes it just slows down. Page turns can lag. Menus can be slow to load. Screen touches can be unresponsive. For a device that is entirely about media consumption, the Fire will live or die depending on its perceived alacrity. If an E Ink Kindle or Nook is better for reading books, and a smartphone or iPad is better for watching movies or listening to music, what space is there for the Fire?

Not an iPad-Killer; Maybe Not Even a Honeycomb Killer

Joshua Topolsky's review of the Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire review:

If you're thinking about getting the Fire, you have to decide not just whether you want a tablet, but what kind of tablet you want. This isn't an iPad-killer. It has the potential to do lots of things, but there are many things I have yet to see it do, and I wonder if it will get there given the lean software support. It's my impression that Amazon believes that the Fire will be so popular that developers will choose to work on its platform rather than on Google's main trunk of Android, but that's just a theory right now.

Still, there's no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price. The amount of content you have access to — and the ease of getting to that content — is notable to say the least. The device is decently designed, and the software — while lacking some polish — is still excellent compared to pretty much anything in this range (and that includes the Nook Color). It's a well thought out tablet that can only get better as the company refines the software. It's not perfect, but it's a great start, and at $200, that may be all Amazon needs this holiday shopping season.


PCMag's Kindle Fire Review


Sascha Segan likes the Kindle Fire - calling it a first-rate tablet - in spite of the sometimes sluggish interface, no cellular or bluetooth, no user-replaceable battery, limited storage, no way to connect to a TV, etc. I guess the bar for an Android tablet is very low. The biggest selling point is the price - half of what most competitors charge. Amazon is banking on the razor-razor blade strategy - sell you the razor at cost or at a loss and make money on the blades (in this case the audio, video, books, and apps Amazon sells).

Amazon Kindle Fire Review & Rating:

The Amazon Kindle Fire puts the Apple iPad on notice. The Fire is the first small tablet that average users can pick up and immediately use, with a simple, clear interface. Then there's the price: Android along with amazing specs for just $199. It's open enough to attract geeks, too. While the user interface occasionally gets sluggish, we're willing to have a bit of patience to get a first-rate tablet for half of what most competitors charge, thus the Kindle Fire is our first Editors' Choice for small tablets.

Technology Predictions for 2012

Randy Muller at Global Knowledge shares Seven Technology Predictions for 2012:

1. Corporations adopt social networking as a primary communication tool.

2. Death of the laptop?

3. The "To the Cloud" movement continues.

4. The need for Virtualization skills will grow exponentially.

5. The days of owning software are numbered.

6. Real bandwidth to the household.

7. The rise of streaming media.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eight Digital Trends That are Shaping the Future

Mashable's Pete Cashmore

School is So Obsolete

Laurette Lynn, The Unplugged Mom, learns to Google from her smartphone.

The Unplugged Mom Tells How She & Her Kid's Are Getting Smart with Smart Phones:

Okay, I can concede that smart phone technology can indeed be quite useful in education :)

Not to mention keeping track of wait times for rides at the amusement park so that a family can maximize their time most effectively to experience more for their money! :)
What does this all mean?  It means independent, self-sufficient learning is the future folks.

School is so obsolete.

(Via The Innovative Educator)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...