Articles, Page 12 of 207

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31 Jul 12

Software Engineers, Developers and Computer Scientists

How do you delineate software engineers, software developers and computer scientists from one another? There are, of course, “definitions” for these individuals but practical reality often differs.

One amusing anecdote I’ve seen said, “A Software Engineer is the person you call to reset your password. A Software Developer is the person you call to set up a new Excel macro. Nobody knows what a Computer Scientist is.”

31 Jul 12

Female Body Armor

Women in the Army are on the verge of getting new armor. The simple fact of the matter is that current vest and plate designs just don’t fit right on women due to different body form factors. While it’s easy to simply redesign the shapes, the “challenge right now is that when you bring in those complex curvatures, the plate loses some of its strength.” In other words, 0xB16B00B5 get in the way and weaken contemporary plate designs if they’re simply reshaped to form. Perhaps this is the first step towards a military uniform consisting of form-fitting spandex just like the comic books said would happen.

30 Jul 12

3D Printing Firearms

Gun control may soon be a very moot point. Take for example, the classic AR-15 (M4/M16 equivalent). You can buy nearly every component for this weapon via uncontrolled mechanisms today. The “controlled”, if you will, component is the lower receiver which is stamped by serial number and ultimately considered the weapon. An American gunsmith has taken to technology and voila, printed himself a lower receiver from a standard 3D printer using resin. The lower receiver was mated with the appropriate components and a fully-functional AR-15 was born. THe digital design to replicate the work exists on ThingVerse where people can expand on the work … like add full auto?

25 Jul 12

Everybody p0wns Natanz

It’s beginning to seem that Iran is the Poland of cyberspace … everyone is p0wning them. The latest buzz around the Natanz nuclear facility is an email received by F-Secure from a scientist at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). F-Secure has confirmed the email really did originate from the facility but has not had a chance to validate the claims. Within the note, the scientist claims their network and Siemens systems were shutdown from an attack utilizing nothing more than Metasploit with the added audible insult of playing ACDC’s Thunderstruck from the computer’s speakers each night. If true, then it would seem Iran’s networks are the digital equivalent of the easy-girl at the frat party.

24 Jul 12


Microsoft has been contributing to the Linux kernel for many years, specifically to get driver support for Hyper-V to function properly. As a matter of fact, their efforts were recognized by the Linux Foundation as putting Microsoft among the top 1% of Linux contributors. That recognition was recently discolored a little by a lack of professionalism in their code contributions. The following entries were submitted into the kernel …

#define HV_LINUX_GUEST_ID_LO               0x00000000
#define HV_LINUX_GUEST_ID_HI               0xB16B00B5

1337 speak for ‘Big Boobs’, the entry was noticed during an examination of changes through Git. This somewhat amusing back and forth between Linux developers shows the discovery of the 0xB16B00B5 constant which in turn was ‘solved’ by recommitting the code in decimal form instead of hexadecimal. Apparently, this constant has been in use by Microsoft long enough they responded, “While the hypervisor does not interpret the guest ID that is registered, I am not sure what dependencies there might be on this value” with regards to changing it to something else.

23 Jul 12

Professional Athletes in the Olympics

In the beginning of the modern Olympic games, athletes were required to be amateurs. That requirement extended beyond the sport they competed in and included any form of payment for athletic performance. Jim Thorpe’s performance in the 1912 Olympics exemplified this rule. However, as time went on, nations began suspecting one another of seeding the games with state professionals or other less-than-amateur entries. The United States truly bit the professional athlete bullet with the 1992 Dream Team that effectively changed the face of Olympic basketball. Now, nearly every athlete of dominance has some form of professional affiliation or monetary sponsorship and the games are inundated with advertisements and endorsements.

20 Jul 12

Concealed Carry - What If?

By now, it’s likely that you already know about the Aurora, CO shootings during the Batman: Dark Knight Rises premier. One crazed gunman managed to kill 12 and injure 59 using an AR-15, shotgun and dual .40 handguns. The weapons were purchased legally as Colorado is not one of the difficult states for acquiring firearms (for law-abiding citizens that is).

Already, people are questioning whether or not stricter gun control is the answer or whether more citizens with privately concealed firearms could have defended themselves. With regards to self defense, a concealed carry permit is relatively easy to obtain in Colorado and the state supports both Castle Doctrine and stand-your-ground. Only days ago in Florida, a senior citizen with a concealed firearm shot two thugs holding up an Internet cafe at gunpoint adding credence that a trained and armed society can often take care of itself [see the security footage embedded below]. Naturally, there are two sides to the coin and many admit that in the crowded, dark and smoky theater, it would have been difficult for a person to defend themselves without injuring others in the process.

18 Jul 12

2013 Diesel Jeep Cherokee

Awhile back, American Jeep enthusiasts were underwhelmed when only the Liberty was given a 2.8L diesel. The engine was short lived because the 2007 restrictions on diesel fuel took effect that most engines where incapable of meeting. Needless to say, excitement for a diesel engine in a Jeep (that people actually wanted) has never faded away and the auto industry’s tumble in 2009 crippled the crate diesel engine swap for the Wrangler TJ series.

It looks like the wait may finally be over as Chrysler has announced the 2013 Grand Cherokee will have a 3.0L diesel as an option. Production of the diesel for the Cherokee (along with the Durango and the rebirth of the Viper) is expected to also create more than 1000 jobs in the Detroit factories. The overseas markets have long enjoyed diesel options; 90% of Cherokees in Europe are diesel powered. If the overseas market engines perform similarly in the United States (after meeting the 2007 requirements), the Cherokees are expected to get more than 33mpg.

12 Jul 12

Functional Song Ratings

I’ve used various song rating systems over the years, usually trying to find a meaningful definition for each of the six available ratings (not rated, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). The ratings were there, so I should use them … right?

Well, no, actually. I realized after years of rating and playing that I really only need to classify songs I own in three ways:

  • Songs I want to hear on the large playlist I listen to in the car and at work
  • Songs I don’t want on that playlist, but I do want to hear when listening to an album straight through
  • Songs I don’t want to hear unless I double-click on them
12 Jul 12

UN Arms Treaty Possibly Affecting US Gun Owners

Not long after President Obama was elected, many Americans began a mad scramble to purchase firearms and ammunition with the expectation he was going to crack down hard on the gun control. Thus far, that particular lane of legislation has remained relatively quiet from the White House. An interesting political twist in the foreign policy arena may finally bring that flag to bear. The United Nations is hammering away at the Arms Trade Treaty, a measure designed on its face to control the availability of weapons to crime syndicates and terrorists. However, the small arms covered by the treaty and the notion of a global firearm registry extend bureaucratic implications towards private gun ownership in the United States (if ratified). There are further large scale implications as well in ratifying the treaty such that nation states would be in violation for providing arms and defenses to other countries or factions (such as Taiwan) faced with less than nobly intended foreign neighbors. But by and large, as the world’s preeminent clearinghouse for private firearm ownership, Americans are concerned with how foreign pressure may impact their present legal right to own – especially when Iran is given an important role in policing the practical application of the treaty.

09 Jul 12

God Particle Discovered

Physicists have been messing around with the standard model since the 1970s by slamming particles into one another to discern the basic building blocks of the universe. While the model described the particles quite well, there was no evidence beyond theoretical prediction about the bosons that influenced the forces between them. The Higgs Boson in particular was of interest to physicists and is often referred to as the God Particle for its theorized purpose in providing mass. This property is, of course, critical for allowing atoms to form and ultimately for “us” to exist, hence the name. The Higgs Boson was actually found in December of 2011 but to avoid an embarrassing declaration of science (faster than light neutrinos?), researchers held onto the news until a definitive five-sigma level of confidence was attained. The discovery was made possible by smashing particles repeatedly in the CERN supercollider revealing evidence of the Higgs Boson with a mass equaling 125 gigaelectron volts (GeV) — about 125 times the mass of a proton. Be prepared for the resurgence of the physics nerd as they steal the cash, chicks and cocaine from the more mainstream geeks and rappers, as according to Princeton physicists – “It’s a triumphant day for fundamental physics. Now some fun begins.”

02 Jul 12

Music Purchase Log: 2012 Q2

Music I purchased in the second quarter of 2012:

  • Bear Vs Shark – Right Now, You’re in the Best of Hands
  • Beecher – Breaking the Fourth Wall
  • Bled, The – Heat Fetish
  • Bullets and Octane – In the Mouth of the Young – Some good tunes, but not enough of them. It’s almost like they’re forcing it to work.
  • Bush – Sea of Memories – Nice to see they’re back in action, but this is one I probably won’t return to often. Not that I regret getting it; my tastes have just moved on.
30 Jun 12

Dumbing down our education

Remember your grandparents saying ’He only had an 8th grade education"?

Well, this is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS – 1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,’‘play,’ and ‘run.’

23 Jun 12

Nerd Feast

Ideas Worth Spreading

Perhaps you-all have known about this for a long time, but I have just discovered a rich vein of stories that make you think, and help you with how to think.
It is an archive of presentations by academics on their research know as Ted Talks
I am constantly amazed by how entertaining and informative these highly intelligent people can be when discussing a subject that they love and have usually devoted many years to understanding.

There are now more than 1000 of these presentations in the Archive and my sampling indicates that they are all great. I particularly enjoy the way these presentations lack political or social bias in presenting subjects that are often highly controversial and divisive when discussed by us ordinary lay, non academics. Perhaps I perceive no bias because I already think in the same way as these people. I hope that is true, but I suspect not. I find it truly humbling to see highly articulate and educated men and women of all ages and racial groups offering such profound insight into things that are popular subjects in more mundane discussions with my friends. Collectively I think these talks are a great tribute to scientific method and the academic approach, and I wish that our national public policy debates could be conducted in this way.

20 Jun 12

Hacker Interacts with AntiVirus Researchers

The stereotypical hacker tends to lurk solo in the dark like a dirty mushroom. But a Chinese malware author broke the mold recently by interacting with AVG researchers. As the anti-virus reverse engineers were investigating a suspected piece of malware within a virtual machine, a window popped up on their system from the hacker. In Chinese, he basically interrogated them asking why they were poking around in his program – which of course was designed to steal screenshots and keystrokes of its victims playing Diablo III in hopes of hijacking their accounts.

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