Monthly Archives: September 2010

“Star Wars” Movies Start 3D Rollout in 2012

There is only one word for this news: Awesome!!!

I am a big fan of the Star Wars movies but mainly the first three movies with the second one (The Empire Strikes Back) as the highlight of the series. Considering that it will take about a year to convert a movie to 3D, I will have to wait until 2016 to see it in the movie theater. That’s more than 35 years after its first release.

Time flies!

Document Foundation Forks OpenOffice.org, Liberates It from Oracle

This news post did not surprise me at all. It was going to happen sooner or later. The fork of OpenOffice is called LibreOffice. The Document Foundation hopes though that Oracle will be kind enough to hand over the old name “OpenOffice” to the Document Foundation in the near future so they can continue working with that name.

A group of key contributors to the OpenOffice.org (OOo) project have formed a new organization called the Document Foundation to manage a community-driven fork of the popular open source office suite. Their goal is to liberate the project from Oracle’s control and create a more inclusive and participatory ecosystem around the software.

OOo was originally based on StarOffice, a product that Sun obtained in its acquisition of StarDivision in 1999. Sun opened the source code and invited the open source software community to participate in the project, but sold a closed, commercial version alongside. The project received considerable attention and is among the most widely-known open source applications. Several other major companies are involved heavily in development, including Novell and IBM. It’s worth noting that IBM’s Lotus Symphony product is based on OOo code.

There was obviously already some support for the idea of forking the OOo code base before Oracle acquired Sun, but the acquisition substantially increased the need for community-driven governance and helped to build swift consensus among independent stakeholders. There are a lot of unanswered questions about Oracle’s plans for OOo and there are well-founded concerns about the extent of Oracle’s commitment to openness.

The Document Foundation serves the long-standing need for a more inclusive culture around the project. The group is creating a fork of OOo called LibreOffice that will be distributed independently of OOo. The foundation’s steering committee is diverse and includes some key members of the OOo project. Corporate supporters include Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, and Google. A beta release of the fork is available for testing, but is not yet ready for production use.

Oracle has not yet issued an official response to the fork. It seems likely that Oracle will continue moving forward with its Cloud Office product, but it’s difficult to predict what kind of relationship the company will choose to have with the LibreOffice community. The fork diminishes Oracle’s declining open source credibility because it sends a strong signal that the community lacks confidence in Oracle’s leadership.

For regular end users of the open source office suite, the fork could potentially be a very positive change. It will remedy long-standing issues that have hindered development and lead to a stronger product with a healthier development community.

Link : ars technica - Document Foundation forks OpenOffice.org, liberates it from Oracle

How to Upgrade Your WordPress Site to Use Asynchronous Google Analytics Tracking

The following article gives a clear explanation of Google’s improved tracking method by using asynchronous tracking. The steps to upgrade your WordPress site are very simple, especially if you use one of the two plugins mentioned in the article.

If you don’t use the new tracking code yet then I recommend doing it as it will make your web pages load faster and enhance the collection of analytics data.

Zeus Botnets’ Achilles’ Heel Makes Infiltration Easy

So what are we waiting for? Take ‘em down!

A security researcher has discovered a potentially crippling vulnerability in one of the most widely used botnet toolkits, a finding that makes it easy for blackhats and whitehats alike to take control of huge networks of infected PCs.

The flaw in the Zeus crimeware kit makes it trivial to hijack the C&C, or command and control, channels used to send instructions and software updates to compromised computers that often number in the hundreds of thousands. There are in turn thousands or tens of thousands of botnets that are spawned from Zeus, and the vast majority are susceptible to the technique.

That means the bug could make takedowns by law enforcement and rival crime gangs significantly easier, said Billy Rios, the researcher who discovered the defect and has written a simple program to exploit it.

Link : The Register - Zeus botnets’ Achilles’ Heel makes infiltration easy

Linkedin Falls to the Power of Zeus Malware

Linkedin users: beware!
Please read this article. Don’t get infected.

Users of the social notworking site LinkedIn started receiving shedloads of spam email messages in a bid to recruit them into the Zeus botnet.

From 10am yesterday users of the business-focused version of Facebook started getting mail with a fake contact request containing a malicious link.

Cisco Security Intelligence said that these messages accounted for as much as 24 percent of all spam sent within a 15-minute interval today.

If users were dumb enough to click on the links in the email they would be taken to a web page that says “PLEASE WAITING…. 4 SECONDS..” and then redirects them to Google.

While it looks like nothing has happened, during the four second the victim’s PC will be attempted to be infected with the ZeuS Malware.

Link : TechEye - Linkedin falls to the power of Zeus

Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

A very interesting piece. My response to this article?

Cheers! ;-)

One of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don’t drink tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does tend to increase one’s risk of dying, even when you exclude former problem drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers. (See pictures of booze under a microscope.)

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don’t have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

Link : Time Magazine Health – Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

How Shazam Works To Identify (Nearly) Every Song You Throw At It

Shazam is a very cool app. Just activate the app, keep your phone near a speaker and the app will tell you within a few seconds which song is playing including the album it comes from and links to download the track instantly to your phone.

Wanna know how it works? Then read this article on Gizmodo.

Link : Gizmodo - How Shazam Works To Identify (Nearly) Every Song You Throw At It

Russia Becomes Malware Botnets Host

Considering that most spam and malware is coming from Russia and China, wouldn’t it be possible to turn off access to Russian and Chinese hosts, domains, servers, by default and only open connections by requesting your own ISP? I guess that only a small percentage of Internet users are visiting Russian and Chinese sites and servers, so this should not be a big problem.

Botnet operators have found a home in Russia after server access became too difficult in China says insecurity company M86 Security.

Chinese cyber sleuths have been driving malware operators from the country’s telecommunications infrastructrue and Russia – always somewhat lax in policing online criminals – has become the refuge for botnet spam campaigns from dodgy porn websites, online casinos and pharmacies.

M86 Security said that 5,000 new spam domains have been traced back to two Russian registrars in the past month. Among those who have moved to Russian providers are the operators of the Zeus malware botnet.

“It used to be Chinese registrars and now it has been a pretty dramatic shift. Back in Russia it is kind of the same old names. These registrars have been around for a while.,” said Bradley Anstis, VP of technology strategy at M86 Security.

The shift to the former Soviet Union follows a clampdown on cyber crime operations in central Europe and Asia. Authorities in Europe have sought to drive cyber criminals out of the region, but it seems like they and other parallel efforts elsewhere have just driven them somewhat to the east, into Russia.

Link : The Inquirer - Russia becomes malware botnets host

The Difference Between Android And iOS Explained (Comic)

It’s a good laugh for people who are familiar with both the Android platform and the iPhone platform.

Link : The Next Web - The Difference Between Android And iOS Explained [Comic]

Best Buy CEO Says iPad ‘Cannibalizing’ PC Laptop Sales by 50 Percent

The statements of Best Buy’s CEO don’t surprise me. Considering that the tablet era has only just begun, I think that the market share of tablets will grow even more in the future. The iPad won’t be the only contender in this market. In the fourth quarter of 2010 and in 2011 a lot of new tablets will be introduced. Most of them will be based on Google’s Android OS. Examples that I have played with at the IFA Trade Show are the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy S tablet.

3-D Movies: a Blessing or a Curse to the Movie Industrie?

In the last few weeks I have read quite a few opinion pieces and news posts on the decline in visitor numbers of 3-D movies.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks Animation chief, spoke at the third annual 3-D Entertainment Summit last Wednesday and he said: “It is up to the film industry to maintain the audience’s trust and only put out films that look good in 3-D.” Katzenberg added that moviegoers must love 3-D, since six of the top 10 movies at the box office so far this year were 3-D releases.

What is your opinion? Is 3-D here to stay or not?

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s desperation plea: Movie biz needs to make movies that look good in 3-D

Reporters have been taking potshots at the medium for months now, with my colleague Ben Fritz pointing out that most of Hollywood’s revenue gains this year were from the sky-high prices people have to pay for 3-D films. The Wrap’s Daniel Frankel recently ran a story arguing that a decreasing amount of box-office dough was coming from 3-D screens. And I keep hearing from regular folks who have bailed out on taking their kids to see 3-D films, saying that the kids–especially the young ‘uns–hate wearing the glasses, which are irritating and give them headaches.

Link : LA Times Blogs – The Big Picture

TotalFinder for Mac OS X: Tabs and Folders Always on Top

Update September 27th, 2010:
As of today TotalFinder launched commercially. You may try the tool for free for 14 days. After the trial period you can buy a license for $15.

About four months ago I switched to a Mac after using a Windows machine for more than 15 years. I did this for a couple of reasons. The most important ones are the outstanding hardware and software for home studio recording that are available for the Mac and the fact that OS X is the only platform that can be used for app development for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, which I am putting a lot of effort in to learn. (More on that subject later in an other post.)

One thing I still find hard to get used to is the Finder application on OS X. Not that it is bad software, but because the folders are sorted alphabetically together with the files. This is a real pain in the ass since I am used to having the folders displayed first and the rest of the files below the folders in Explorer on Windows.

20 Albums That Deserve Surround Mixes According to Steven Wilson

As a big fan of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson in particular I read the article that I amplify’d below with a lot of interest. I agree with Steven Wilson on almost every album that he discusses. Especially page 2 of the article looks great, which contains a couple of my favorite bands like Yes with ‘Close to the Edge’, Rush with ‘Moving Pictures’ and Pink Floyd with ‘Animals’.

Surround mixes of albums can be an awesome experience if done right and with good taste. I own a few dozen of these on DVD and the lesser known DVD-A and SACD formats. Especially the 5.1 mixes from Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson are great and are highly recommended if you like to explore the world of surrond sound.

Not Everyone Is Charmed by Google Instant

Charlie Brooker, a columnist for The Guardian, isn’t exactly charmed by Google Instant. And I think he has a point.

I clipped only three paragraphs here, but it’s best to read the whole thing to get his point completely. He has a clear message about the decrease of attention span and productivity that the majority of computer users suffer from these days.

Amplify’d from www.guardian.co.uk

I’m starting to feel like an unwitting test subject in a global experiment conducted by Google, in which it attempts to discover how much raw information it can inject directly into my hippocampus before I crumple to the floor and start fitting uncontrollably.

That afternoon, it unveiled a new feature called Google Instant. It delivers search results before you’ve finished typing them. So now, if I visit Google and start typing my own name, it shows me links to Craigslist the moment I hit “C”. When I add the “H”, up pops the homepage for Chase online banking. By the time I’ve spelt out “Charlie”, I’m presented with a synopsis and review score for “Charlie St Cloud”, a film starring Zac Efron. Add a “Br” and Charlie Brown gazes back at me.

As the name suggests, this all happens instantly. It’s the internet on fast-forward, and it’s aggressive – like trying to order from a waiter who keeps finishing your sentences while ramming spoonfuls of what he thinks you want directly into your mouth, so you can’t even enjoy your blancmange without chewing a gobful of black pudding first.

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk

Before They Were Famous

Nice to see all those teen versions of well-known actors, singers and other celebrities on one page.

Link : Blame It On The Movies – Before They Were Famous

Monthly Archives: September 2010

“Star Wars” Movies Start 3D Rollout in 2012

There is only one word for this news: Awesome!!!

I am a big fan of the Star Wars movies but mainly the first three movies with the second one (The Empire Strikes Back) as the highlight of the series. Considering that it will take about a year to convert a movie to 3D, I will have to wait until 2016 to see it in the movie theater. That’s more than 35 years after its first release.

Time flies!

Document Foundation Forks OpenOffice.org, Liberates It from Oracle

This news post did not surprise me at all. It was going to happen sooner or later. The fork of OpenOffice is called LibreOffice. The Document Foundation hopes though that Oracle will be kind enough to hand over the old name “OpenOffice” to the Document Foundation in the near future so they can continue working with that name.

A group of key contributors to the OpenOffice.org (OOo) project have formed a new organization called the Document Foundation to manage a community-driven fork of the popular open source office suite. Their goal is to liberate the project from Oracle’s control and create a more inclusive and participatory ecosystem around the software.

OOo was originally based on StarOffice, a product that Sun obtained in its acquisition of StarDivision in 1999. Sun opened the source code and invited the open source software community to participate in the project, but sold a closed, commercial version alongside. The project received considerable attention and is among the most widely-known open source applications. Several other major companies are involved heavily in development, including Novell and IBM. It’s worth noting that IBM’s Lotus Symphony product is based on OOo code.

There was obviously already some support for the idea of forking the OOo code base before Oracle acquired Sun, but the acquisition substantially increased the need for community-driven governance and helped to build swift consensus among independent stakeholders. There are a lot of unanswered questions about Oracle’s plans for OOo and there are well-founded concerns about the extent of Oracle’s commitment to openness.

The Document Foundation serves the long-standing need for a more inclusive culture around the project. The group is creating a fork of OOo called LibreOffice that will be distributed independently of OOo. The foundation’s steering committee is diverse and includes some key members of the OOo project. Corporate supporters include Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, and Google. A beta release of the fork is available for testing, but is not yet ready for production use.

Oracle has not yet issued an official response to the fork. It seems likely that Oracle will continue moving forward with its Cloud Office product, but it’s difficult to predict what kind of relationship the company will choose to have with the LibreOffice community. The fork diminishes Oracle’s declining open source credibility because it sends a strong signal that the community lacks confidence in Oracle’s leadership.

For regular end users of the open source office suite, the fork could potentially be a very positive change. It will remedy long-standing issues that have hindered development and lead to a stronger product with a healthier development community.

Link : ars technica - Document Foundation forks OpenOffice.org, liberates it from Oracle

How to Upgrade Your WordPress Site to Use Asynchronous Google Analytics Tracking

The following article gives a clear explanation of Google’s improved tracking method by using asynchronous tracking. The steps to upgrade your WordPress site are very simple, especially if you use one of the two plugins mentioned in the article.

If you don’t use the new tracking code yet then I recommend doing it as it will make your web pages load faster and enhance the collection of analytics data.

Zeus Botnets’ Achilles’ Heel Makes Infiltration Easy

So what are we waiting for? Take ‘em down!

A security researcher has discovered a potentially crippling vulnerability in one of the most widely used botnet toolkits, a finding that makes it easy for blackhats and whitehats alike to take control of huge networks of infected PCs.

The flaw in the Zeus crimeware kit makes it trivial to hijack the C&C, or command and control, channels used to send instructions and software updates to compromised computers that often number in the hundreds of thousands. There are in turn thousands or tens of thousands of botnets that are spawned from Zeus, and the vast majority are susceptible to the technique.

That means the bug could make takedowns by law enforcement and rival crime gangs significantly easier, said Billy Rios, the researcher who discovered the defect and has written a simple program to exploit it.

Link : The Register - Zeus botnets’ Achilles’ Heel makes infiltration easy

Linkedin Falls to the Power of Zeus Malware

Linkedin users: beware!
Please read this article. Don’t get infected.

Users of the social notworking site LinkedIn started receiving shedloads of spam email messages in a bid to recruit them into the Zeus botnet.

From 10am yesterday users of the business-focused version of Facebook started getting mail with a fake contact request containing a malicious link.

Cisco Security Intelligence said that these messages accounted for as much as 24 percent of all spam sent within a 15-minute interval today.

If users were dumb enough to click on the links in the email they would be taken to a web page that says “PLEASE WAITING…. 4 SECONDS..” and then redirects them to Google.

While it looks like nothing has happened, during the four second the victim’s PC will be attempted to be infected with the ZeuS Malware.

Link : TechEye - Linkedin falls to the power of Zeus

Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

A very interesting piece. My response to this article?

Cheers! ;-)

One of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don’t drink tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does tend to increase one’s risk of dying, even when you exclude former problem drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers. (See pictures of booze under a microscope.)

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don’t have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

Link : Time Magazine Health – Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

How Shazam Works To Identify (Nearly) Every Song You Throw At It

Shazam is a very cool app. Just activate the app, keep your phone near a speaker and the app will tell you within a few seconds which song is playing including the album it comes from and links to download the track instantly to your phone.

Wanna know how it works? Then read this article on Gizmodo.

Link : Gizmodo - How Shazam Works To Identify (Nearly) Every Song You Throw At It

Russia Becomes Malware Botnets Host

Considering that most spam and malware is coming from Russia and China, wouldn’t it be possible to turn off access to Russian and Chinese hosts, domains, servers, by default and only open connections by requesting your own ISP? I guess that only a small percentage of Internet users are visiting Russian and Chinese sites and servers, so this should not be a big problem.

Botnet operators have found a home in Russia after server access became too difficult in China says insecurity company M86 Security.

Chinese cyber sleuths have been driving malware operators from the country’s telecommunications infrastructrue and Russia – always somewhat lax in policing online criminals – has become the refuge for botnet spam campaigns from dodgy porn websites, online casinos and pharmacies.

M86 Security said that 5,000 new spam domains have been traced back to two Russian registrars in the past month. Among those who have moved to Russian providers are the operators of the Zeus malware botnet.

“It used to be Chinese registrars and now it has been a pretty dramatic shift. Back in Russia it is kind of the same old names. These registrars have been around for a while.,” said Bradley Anstis, VP of technology strategy at M86 Security.

The shift to the former Soviet Union follows a clampdown on cyber crime operations in central Europe and Asia. Authorities in Europe have sought to drive cyber criminals out of the region, but it seems like they and other parallel efforts elsewhere have just driven them somewhat to the east, into Russia.

Link : The Inquirer - Russia becomes malware botnets host

The Difference Between Android And iOS Explained (Comic)

It’s a good laugh for people who are familiar with both the Android platform and the iPhone platform.

Link : The Next Web - The Difference Between Android And iOS Explained [Comic]

Best Buy CEO Says iPad ‘Cannibalizing’ PC Laptop Sales by 50 Percent

The statements of Best Buy’s CEO don’t surprise me. Considering that the tablet era has only just begun, I think that the market share of tablets will grow even more in the future. The iPad won’t be the only contender in this market. In the fourth quarter of 2010 and in 2011 a lot of new tablets will be introduced. Most of them will be based on Google’s Android OS. Examples that I have played with at the IFA Trade Show are the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy S tablet.

3-D Movies: a Blessing or a Curse to the Movie Industrie?

In the last few weeks I have read quite a few opinion pieces and news posts on the decline in visitor numbers of 3-D movies.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks Animation chief, spoke at the third annual 3-D Entertainment Summit last Wednesday and he said: “It is up to the film industry to maintain the audience’s trust and only put out films that look good in 3-D.” Katzenberg added that moviegoers must love 3-D, since six of the top 10 movies at the box office so far this year were 3-D releases.

What is your opinion? Is 3-D here to stay or not?

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s desperation plea: Movie biz needs to make movies that look good in 3-D

Reporters have been taking potshots at the medium for months now, with my colleague Ben Fritz pointing out that most of Hollywood’s revenue gains this year were from the sky-high prices people have to pay for 3-D films. The Wrap’s Daniel Frankel recently ran a story arguing that a decreasing amount of box-office dough was coming from 3-D screens. And I keep hearing from regular folks who have bailed out on taking their kids to see 3-D films, saying that the kids–especially the young ‘uns–hate wearing the glasses, which are irritating and give them headaches.

Link : LA Times Blogs – The Big Picture

TotalFinder for Mac OS X: Tabs and Folders Always on Top

Update September 27th, 2010:
As of today TotalFinder launched commercially. You may try the tool for free for 14 days. After the trial period you can buy a license for $15.

About four months ago I switched to a Mac after using a Windows machine for more than 15 years. I did this for a couple of reasons. The most important ones are the outstanding hardware and software for home studio recording that are available for the Mac and the fact that OS X is the only platform that can be used for app development for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, which I am putting a lot of effort in to learn. (More on that subject later in an other post.)

One thing I still find hard to get used to is the Finder application on OS X. Not that it is bad software, but because the folders are sorted alphabetically together with the files. This is a real pain in the ass since I am used to having the folders displayed first and the rest of the files below the folders in Explorer on Windows.

20 Albums That Deserve Surround Mixes According to Steven Wilson

As a big fan of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson in particular I read the article that I amplify’d below with a lot of interest. I agree with Steven Wilson on almost every album that he discusses. Especially page 2 of the article looks great, which contains a couple of my favorite bands like Yes with ‘Close to the Edge’, Rush with ‘Moving Pictures’ and Pink Floyd with ‘Animals’.

Surround mixes of albums can be an awesome experience if done right and with good taste. I own a few dozen of these on DVD and the lesser known DVD-A and SACD formats. Especially the 5.1 mixes from Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson are great and are highly recommended if you like to explore the world of surrond sound.

Not Everyone Is Charmed by Google Instant

Charlie Brooker, a columnist for The Guardian, isn’t exactly charmed by Google Instant. And I think he has a point.

I clipped only three paragraphs here, but it’s best to read the whole thing to get his point completely. He has a clear message about the decrease of attention span and productivity that the majority of computer users suffer from these days.

Amplify’d from www.guardian.co.uk

I’m starting to feel like an unwitting test subject in a global experiment conducted by Google, in which it attempts to discover how much raw information it can inject directly into my hippocampus before I crumple to the floor and start fitting uncontrollably.

That afternoon, it unveiled a new feature called Google Instant. It delivers search results before you’ve finished typing them. So now, if I visit Google and start typing my own name, it shows me links to Craigslist the moment I hit “C”. When I add the “H”, up pops the homepage for Chase online banking. By the time I’ve spelt out “Charlie”, I’m presented with a synopsis and review score for “Charlie St Cloud”, a film starring Zac Efron. Add a “Br” and Charlie Brown gazes back at me.

As the name suggests, this all happens instantly. It’s the internet on fast-forward, and it’s aggressive – like trying to order from a waiter who keeps finishing your sentences while ramming spoonfuls of what he thinks you want directly into your mouth, so you can’t even enjoy your blancmange without chewing a gobful of black pudding first.

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk

Before They Were Famous

Nice to see all those teen versions of well-known actors, singers and other celebrities on one page.

Link : Blame It On The Movies – Before They Were Famous