Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BumpTop makes MS Windows more usable

I hate MS Windows.

It's no secret, just do a search with my name and Linux to see plenty of evidence. In the summer of 1995 I switched all of my computers to Linux, both at home and at work. I even got my mother to switch.

Unfortunately, since I started University, I've had to do all my classwork on MS Windows. It has been frustrating at best and down right crippling at worst. I still have no idea how anyone gets anything done with this operating system. It has been torture.

But just the other day I stumbled on a shell for MS Windows that has gone a long way towards making it tolerable to use. It's called BumpTop. Here is a vid of how it works -

The only downside I've found (so far) is that it puts everything on your desktop under your $HOME/Desktop folder. It would be better if it kept all of this under a separate folder. Something along the lines of $HOME/BumpTop or or the like.

Anyway, give it a whirl and see if you like it. You got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Friday, April 24, 2009

U.S. to create cybersecurity military command: report

U.S. to create cybersecurity military command: report | Posted on - Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:31PM EDT | WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "The Obama administration plans to create a new military command to focus on Pentagon computer networks and offensive capabilities in cyberwarfare, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing current and former officials familiar with the plans.

The initiative will reshape the military's efforts to protect its networks from attacks by hackers, especially those from countries such as China and Russia, the newspaper said.

This is one of those two-edged swords, I believe. On one hand we do need a coordinated cybersecurity plan/implementation for not only the Pentagon but the entire .mil net. Currently the way the Pentagon is monitored works well, and as someone who has been "caught" by them, I know just how solid their NOC is. But their current implementation wouldn't scale well at all.

On the other hand, putting the security of the .mil network under a coordinated military organization could easily end up being a launching point for total 'Net monitoring and control. Don't believe it could happen? Two words: Patriot Act. It wouldn't be an easy thing to do but it is doable.

On the gripping hand, maybe having a strong military organization making sure bad things don't happen will finally get the world to understand how dangerous Microsoft Windows truly is. If this country were to switch to Mac and Linux 98% of all the viruses, worms, flood attacks, breakin's, DoS attacks, and thefts would be stopped. The 'Net wouldn't be 100% secure as that's an impossibility for a public accessible network. But imagine how much more productive and effective everyone would be.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oracle Buys SUN; MySQL is Forked

Oracle Buys SUN; MySQL is Forked | Bryan Richard | Monday, April 20th, 2009 | "With the announcement of Oracle’s intent to acquire Sun Microsystems (and with it MySQL) for $7.4B coming at roughly the same time that the 2009 MySQL Conference & Expo was just spinning up, it didn’t take long for individuals to begin airing their thoughts..."

While most of the focus of this buyout is on MySQL, the loss of Sun as a company and Solaris as a product will just mean the OS world is getting smaller and smaller. Solaris and MySQL might survive in their Open Source versions but I don't trust Oracle.
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Celebrity Viruses Improve Security

Celebrity Viruses Improve Security | Adam O'Donnell, 2009-04-21 | "Every so often, a computer virus becomes more than just a novelty for anti-virus researchers and moves into the consciousness of the mass media, even if it's not a grave threat.

The recent Conficker outbreak is a fantastic example of this. While only a small fraction of all PC users were infected with the worm, a great deal of media coverage was devoted to the outbreak.

There was also one very good thing that happened with the media coverage of Conficker; it was identified as a PC virus. Since the term PC has become synonymous with MS Windows, people are starting to realize that all these virus and worm attacks are, in fact, specific to MS Windows and Microsoft products.

Hopefully, people will start to realize that if they ran Mac's or Linux they would see a tremendous increase of productivity and security.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Woodbridge High School Students Blaze New Pathway with Record Release

Woodbridge High School Students Blaze New Pathway with Record Release | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Date: 4/17/2009 | "This has been an extremely productive year for songwriters and performers at Woodbridge High School. Students in the Polyphonix Records club have once again written, produced, and released an album of original music. The album, “Salmagundi,” features a wide range of genres including rap, folk, pop, rock, and hip-hop."

This is from one of my local high schools. The album is also available on "iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and a myriad of other music download websites." Check it out, it's pretty cool.

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WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Dies

WWII Medal of Honor Recipient Dies |
April 10, 2009 | Associated Press | ST. LOUIS - "Russell Dunham, an Illinois man who was awarded the Medal of Honor after killing nine German soldiers and taking two others captive while wounded during World War II, has died. He was 89."

An honored man has passed. Like the other men who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, he never considered himself a hero. But you can make up your own mind. Read why he was awarded the medal and see what I mean.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two killed in Thai protests, army opens fire

Two killed in Thai protests, army opens fire | By Martin Petty – Mon Apr 13 | BANGKOK (Reuters) – "Troops fired at crowds of anti-government protesters who fought back with petrol bombs and rocks in Bangkok on Monday, in violence that killed two people, injured dozens and pushed Thailand deeper into political crisis."

Thailand has not had the best of times these last few years. Since the coup in September 2006 there's been fighting, protests and killing as the citizens of the country try to take back their government. The world doesn't need more military dictatorships.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Time Article Suggests Teen Vegetarians May Have an Eating Disorder

Time Article Suggests Teen Vegetarians May Have an Eating Disorder | Denise's Parenting Teens Blog | Thursday April 9, 2009 - "Time covered a study by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study suggests that many teens who become vegetarians overnight are doing so more to lose weight than for health reasons or the belief that man should not eat meat. I can believe this, it seems plausible."

Personally I don't think anyone younger than 21 should partake in an extreme diet at all. Let the body finish growing and maturing before messing around with it.

There's something I've always been a bit confused about on this topic. Human beings developed/evolved into being omnivores. Our bodies need everything, including meat, in order to be healthy. The best thing anyone can do is to keep a good balance of every food group in their diet. Any extreme shift one way or the other will only end up damaging to ones health.

Vegetarianism isn't as extreme as, say, being a Vegan so it's not as dangerous. All you'd need is a few vitamins and supplements to make up for what's missing and you should be ok. Being a Vegan (or a pure Carnivore, for that matter) puts you at serious risk because you have to maintain a very complex regimen of supplements, vitamins, and often medication, to keep from ending up in the hospital. Or worse.

Anyone contemplating an extreme diet should first check with a doctor and a nutritionist so they will know what needs to be done and what risks are involved.
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Sleepless in my room

More insomnia. Can't get to sleep for nothing. And if I do conk out I wake up after only a few hours. There's got to be a way to get some sleep without having to take sleeping pills. I take to many pills already, I don't need more.

$DEITY! I am so tired.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Conficker Worm

From the Symantec Norton site:
If you’re still worried about the Conficker threat from April 1st, here is some additional information. On April 1st the Conficker worm was potentially going to take steps to protect itself. Beginning on April 1st, the worm would have used a communications system that would have been more difficult for security researchers to interrupt.
This is the first worm/virus alert that I have had to monitor and take precautions for in the last 15 or so years. Why? Because up until now all my systems were running Linux.

Due to my attending Westwood Online for university, I must run an MS Windows system in order to interface with the classes and do my assignments. Thus I am now vulnerable to all the nastiness and evil doers out there. That's not to say there aren't security issues with Linux. No computer system is 100% secure. But, due to Linux's UNIX heritage and the fact that it's based on the Open Source development model, it is infinitely more stable and secure than anything Microsoft has developed.

Thankfully, it seems I wasn't effected by this worm. One reason is because I have Norton AntiVirus & Security Scan as well as Uniblue's RegistryBooster installed and checking my system. Even so I still have to keep an eye on the security alerts to try and stay ahead of the bad guys. After this semester I'll only have two more years to go for my degree. Once that's done I'm wiping this box and putting Linux on it. It's just to dangerous not to.

Oh, in case you were attributing this to my Linux zealotry, here's the first line in the above referenced warning:

Target: All users of Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Teen Arrested for Sending Nude Pictures on Myspace

Teen Arrested for Sending Nude Pictures on Myspace | By Denise Witmer, About.com Guide to Parenting Teens since 1997 | Monday March 30, 2009 - "The AP is reporting that a 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been arrested for child pornography after posting nearly 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com. These charges that could force her to register as a sex offender if convicted, which is ridiculous in my humble opinion."

I agree with Ms. Witmer, for the most part. How can someone be both the perpetrator and the victim of a "sex crime?" Even the mother of the girl whose name is on the sex registration law, Megan’s law, agrees.

The current fad for teens and preteens is called sexting. It's when you send sexual text or images by phone using SMS. Sending these images on MySpace has been old hat for years now. But what is needed is a way to educate and help our children understand why this is dangerous. Making a 13 or 14 year old child register as a sex offender for being clueless is way overboard. Better to spend the time and money to realign the perceptions of sex for our kids. After all, when a 14yo girl thinks she has to send sexual pictures to her boyfriend there's something out of balance.

Society, and the law, need to get their act together and start using some common sense.
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