Articles, Page 13 of 208

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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.

20 Jun 12

Torvalds Calls Out Nvidia

Perhaps saying he “called out” Nvidia is being too nice as his exact quote was, NVIDIA, FUCK YOU. Apparently, Linus has been criticizing Nvidia and AMD lately for their poor support the open source development community. The entire matter apparently came to a head during a Q&A session [YouTube] where he proclaimed them the single worst company Linux developers ever had to deal with and concluded with his … less than positive salutation.

12 Jun 12

Advanced Crypto Present in Flame

Everybody in the security world these days is talking about Flame, the monstrously fat piece of malware found all throughout the Middle East (centered around the remarkably uninfected Israel). For those unaware, Flame weighs in at over 20 megabytes and is composed of numerous functional modules giving it all sorts of capabilities like listening through microphones, activating video, bluesnarfing, etc. None of that was particularly impressive and its sheer size and presence of human readable strings screamed of amateurish development. What did pique researcher’s interest was a unique adaptation of cryptographic hash collisions in order to fool Windows operating systems into trusting a fraudulent windows update server. Researchers are claiming Flame was clearly associated with world class mathematicians in order to rapidly produce MD5 collisions for use. The malware itself is already beginning to shutdown across the world but the code is already under scrutiny. Too bad the White House leaked they were behind Stuxnet and Duqu because reverse engineers are already finding shared code from zero-day exploits within Flame found only in those tools.

04 Jun 12

US Admits to Cyber Attack Against Iran

As per usual, “anonymous” officials have made public particularly damning statements about the United States’ and Israel’s involvement in the cyber attacks against the Iranian nuclear program . Reverse engineers around the globe have speculated about the involvement of the two nations in both Stuxnet and Duqu, but there has never been any proof positive towards either other than coincidental political goals. New York Times’ article Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran basically lays out an affirmation the program began under the Bush Administration but was continued and ramped up under the Obama Administration as an alternative solution to derailing the Iranian nuclear weapons program in lieu of a pre-emptive military strike by the Israelis. Considering the stance America recently took on what it considers acts of war in the cyber domain, it’s particularly disturbing the officials would admit to performing those very acts against an adversary. Naturally, the “anonymous” officials won’t face a lifetime in prison for such a breach of national security, a punishment reserved for everyone else (such as Bradley Manning).

28 May 12

Zombie Attack

Zombie attacks don’t really happen, right? Well, in Florida just the other day a policeman shot to death a naked man eating the face off his victim on an offramp. As if that weren’t odd enough, he actually had to shoot the naked man several times because he kept feeding despite the gunshot wounds.

25 May 12

Failing Government

I note that there is a poll coming up in the pipeline asking who can save the USA. So there is an assumption that the country is failing to hold itself together.
There are many signs that something serious is wrong, but is it a fair assessment that a saviour is needed?
It may be informative to look at another place where the system is really failing and there is no one to save it.

I wonder how informed the nerds are of major events happening in an inconsequential little nation a long way from the USA.

Is anyone here aware of the Constitutional Crisis currently under way in Papua New Guinea? At present the country has two prime ministers and two Police Chiefs, all fighting each other, and the Chief Justice was arrested yesterday.

25 May 12

FaceBook's Botched IPO

It’s been a week since FaceBook’s IPO and nobody is happy. The first issue was obviously the NASDAQ failure to open on time and properly handle the trades. FaceBook itself is facing a class action lawsuit over alleged insider trading (really? already?) with high value customers having a priority on purchases. Lastly, the investors themselves are angered over the significant drop in price since the IPO as poor media coverage and public relations have soured everyone on FaceBook’s commitment to shareholders.

13 May 12

Google Drive

Google Drive went live less than a month ago after years of speculation. There are a bunch of nifty features, but they won’t seem very significant to Google Docs who have been using them for awhile. But in order to benefit from Google Drive, a user must install Google’s software to synchronize local files with their cloud storage.

That said, WTF does the client software need to eat up 52MB of RAM to just sit there? For that matter, DropBox uses a mere 22MB of RAM to perform the same task. That’s still pretty bloated for the job but is more than 50% smaller than Google’s software.

12 May 12

Congressional Leadership as Citizens of Foreign Lands?

Congressional representative Michele Bachman was recently granted a Switzerland citizenship. She calls the matter a non-story … but is it? Is it not disturbing that political leaders of the United States could theoretically have legal duties or binding interests to foreign lands? It is especially disturbing considering that upon becoming a congressional representative that a full clearance is granted (to anything and all compartments). When a large matter of national security falls into the “NOFORN” category, what kind of precedent is she setting for maintaining classified information? (Not that congress isn’t the source of nearly all leaks …)

12 May 12


Until the early 20th century, human babies survived on breastmilk (it may have been from a wet nurse, but it was still breastmilk). With the invention of baby formula, mothers in America largely trended away from breastfeeding relying instead upon the derived product to handle their baby’s nutritional needs. Around the 70s, the trend slowly began to reverse itself back to actual breastfeeding. Oddly enough, the social norm had changed definitively such that a woman breastfeeding her baby became something she did entirely privately, as if Americans couldn’t handle the image. The trend seems to have shifted yet again, with helicopter parents growing truly extreme in recent years. The latest Time magazine feature story (subscription required) highlights that not only has breastfeeding made a return, but mothers are continuing the process as their children grow through the toddler years.

04 May 12

The Value of FaceBook

How much is FaceBook worth? Investors are about to find out when the social media company goes public on the 18th. Indications are the stock will be offered between $28-$35 a share up front and enough shares are on the table to put the FaceBook’s value at nearly $100 billion. It’s principle owners stand to make a killing by selling their own stock options as part of the initial offering with estimates that founder Mark Zuckerburg could be sitting on $1 billion in cash that day. A mere eight years ago, Google went public with pre-IPO estimates predicting $2.7 billion to be raised worth of stock sales. Is FaceBook overpriced or can investors bank on another meteoric chance to “get in early?”

02 May 12

Oracle, Google and the Future of Programming

Oracle and Google are in court disputing Oracle’s claim that the Android operating system’s reimplementation of Java APIs constitutes copyright infringement. Here is a brief timeline of the dispute.

There appears to be damning evidence for both sides; be it Google’s internal documents recognizing the possible copyright issue during the development of Android or Oracle’s admission that Oracle management decided it wanted to compete with Android prior to deciding to sue Google or even conflicting testimony from two former CEOs of Sun, the previous owner of Java intellectual property.

29 Apr 12

Employers Demanding Access to Private Accounts

It’s relatively old news that employers do their research on interviewed candidates. They’ve done Google searches on them and checked them out on social networking sites like FaceBook. Some people finally jumped on the privacy bandwagon and locked down their accounts after realizing their drunken, topless keg stands from college are not ideal for prospective employers (or maybe it is). That didn’t stop the companies from demanding candidates turnover login information to their accounts – it’s even happened to people that were already employed as a condition of continued employment. Needless to say, this hasn’t sat well with … anyone. FaceBook has finally risen to the occasion and at least threatened to begin suing companies demanding illegitimate access to user accounts. One bill was already squashed in congress to make this illegal, but it was a rider on another bill. As such, the Social Networking Online Protection Act is being pushed again as an independent act.

29 Apr 12

Lessons On OmniNerd Posting

I recently noticed a comment from an OmniNerd user that posting media into an article wan’t easy. This quick How-To will address that issue with a demonstration of embedding a picture and a video.

How To Post Pictures

The first thing you need to do, is create a new article using the typical routine. Click on Submit New at the top and choose the Article type. The site will prompt you for the usual preliminaries, a title and some tags, after which you must click Save Draft and Begin Auto-Saving.

To put a picture into your article, start by clicking Edit / Upload Images for this Article. You’ll be brought to a screen like the one below. From here, you simply pick a JPG, GIF or PNG file from your computer and click Upload Image.

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