Archive for March, 2007

Windows Security

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

The report found that Microsoft (Quote) Windows had the fewest number of patches and the shortest average patch development time of the five operating systems it monitored in the last six months of 2006.

During this period, 39 vulnerabilities, 12 of which were ranked high priority or severe, were found in Microsoft Windows and the company took an average of 21 days to fix them. It’s an increase of the 22 vulnerabilities and 13-day turnaround time for the first half of 2006 but still bested the competition handily.

Red Hat Linux was the next-best performer, requiring an average of 58 days to address a total of 208 vulnerabilities. However, this was a significant increase in both problems and fix time over the first half of 2006, when there were 42 vulnerabilities in Red Hat and the average turnaround was 13 days.

The one bright spot in all of this is that of the 208 Red Hat vulnerabilities, the most of the top five operating systems, only two were considered high severity, 130 were medium severity, and 76 were considered low.

Then there’s Mac OS X. Despite the latest TV ads ridiculing the security in Vista with a Matrix-like Agent playing the UAC in Vista, Apple (Quote) has nothing to brag about. Symantec found 43 vulnerabilities in Mac OS X and a 66 day turnaround on fixes. Fortunately, only one was high priority.

Like the others, this is also an increase over the first half of the year. For the first half of 2006, 21 vulnerabilities were found in Mac OS X and Apple took on average 37 days to fix them.

Link

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | Comment now »

 

Apple TV

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

So far the reviews have been far from rosy. Some of the big issues so far seem to be:

1) You have to leave your computer and iTunes running for it to work.

2) It doesn’t come with the cables you need to hook it up to your TV set which adds an additional 20-30 dollars to the purchase.

3) iTunes video content, which is pretty much the only video you can currently view on the device, is less than DVD quality and over compressed, and the sound quality is limited to stereo.

4) You can’t rent DVD’s through iTunes. Somewhere a long the line I have to imagine even the most fanatical Apple fans are going to start asking why they are blowing $10-$20 for a sub-DVD quality video when they can buy the real thing for the same price, or rent the real thing for far less in numerous other ways. Average consumers will be asking this before they even purchase the device.

5) iTunes content is too limited. I imagine this won’t get much better until Apple starts playing ball with the studios. Current download to own and rental services like Amazon blow iTunes video collection out of the water.

6) Various issues with the device itself, including 2 minute boot times, issues with syncing content, etc..

7) The remote control sucks. Classic Apple – simplification taken too far.

I’d say if there was ever a product Apple was destined to completely flop on, this is it. If you really want to get all your content on your TV in the living room, rent videos in standard and hi-def, and enjoy some cool games while you at it, I’d say the XBox 360 is a far better investment.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | 6 Comments »

 

Time Magazine

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Steve points me over to some shots of the new design of Time Magazine. Looks pretty nice, I like the layout of the big stories with the bold titles. I see the illustrations are still prevalent as well – Time has always produced exceptional graphical depictions detailing news and information.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of subscribing to Time for a while now but just haven’t gotten around to it. I used to love reading it as a kid – my folks, like most parents back in the 70s and 80s had a subscription. I’ll always remember sitting down with the latest copy in the living room on sunny afternoons when there was nothing better to do outside. I enjoyed the articles and illustrations on current events, even though a lot of times I didn’t exactly understand everything that I was reading. Time was and I’m sure still is an exceptionally well written window into world events.

I’m sure some are rolling their eyes thinking – dead tree publishing is on it’s way out, but I think that’s a bit premature. Laptops are clunky and heavy, produce heat and are largely too delicate. For me they can’t compare to a good paper back or magazine you can flip and fold and toss around. Dead trees also seem to produce a more personable experience, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Life, Press, Technology | Comment now »

 

Boondoggles

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

A few Republicans are at least considering a vote for the bill, including Reps. Wayne T. Gilchrest and Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland. Some conservative Democrats who had been expected to vote no on Thursday are wavering.

To get them off the fence and on the bill, Democrats have a key weapon at their disposal: cold, hard cash. The bill contains billions for agriculture and drought relief, children’s health care and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery.

For Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), there is $25 million for spinach growers hurt by last year’s E. coli scare. For three conservative Democrats in Georgia, there is $75 million for peanut storage. For lawmakers from the bone-dry West, there is $500 million for wildfire suppression. An additional $120 million is earmarked for shrimp and Atlantic menhaden fishermen.

So far, at least in public pronouncements, the $21 billion in funding beyond President Bush’s request has earned Democrats nothing but scorn.

For more than a year, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R) has tried unsuccessfully to secure federal funds to prevent salt water from intruding on rice fields in his lowland Louisiana district. So it came as a surprise last week when Boustany found $15 million in the House’s huge war spending bill for his rice farmers. He hadn’t even asked that the bill include it.

“It gives me no satisfaction to vote against measures that I have been working for since even before [Hurricane] Katrina, but I cannot in good conscience vote for a bill that does this to our troops,” Boustany said yesterday, decrying what he called the “cheap politics” of using disaster aid to win votes on a measure this controversial.

Link

Will the dems successfully bribe reps into voting for this boondoggle? It’ll be interesting to see if the reps learned anything from last fall’s election. Thankfully even if they haven’t and it passes, it’ll get a Presidential veto, and rightly so.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Politics | Comment now »

 

Arbil

Monday, March 19th, 2007

ERBIL, IRAQ – What a difference a year makes.

Sound like a nice place to visit, maybe in a few years. Hopfully the Anabar province will get to this point in time as well. The comments on the post above are also interesting. One thing seems evident – Kurdistan will have a major influence on the region. Funny though, you never hear about areas like this on the news.

Arbil (also written Erbil or Irbil; BGN: Arbīl; Arabic: اربيل‎, Arbīl; Kurdish: هه‌ولێر, Hewlêr; Syriac: ܐܪܒܝܠ, Arbela, Turkish: Erbil) is believed by many to be the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world and is one of the larger cities in Iraq. The city lies eighty kilometres (fifty miles) east of Mosul. In 2005, its estimated population was 990,000 inhabitants.

Link

There’s another good article on Arbil by the same author over on Reason.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Iraq War | 3 Comments »

 

Life

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I love technology. I love 1’s and 0’s. You can build anything with those two numbers. I remember when I first started school, my chosen field was Electronic Engineering. My first class was analog electronics. I switched majors.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Life, Misc., Technology | Comment now »

 

Apple Releases Security “MegaPatch”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Apple on Tuesday issued a security update for its Mac OS X to plug 45 security holes, including several zero-day vulnerabilities.

The megapatch is the seventh Apple security patch release in three months. It deals with vulnerabilities in Apple’s own software, as well as third-party components such as Adobe Systems’ Flash Player, OpenSSH and MySQL. Sixteen of the vulnerabilities addressed by the update were previously released as part of two high-profile bug-hunting campaigns.

Link

I guess I finally have a good reason to boot up that MacBook.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Technology | Comment now »

 

Hard Wired Religion

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Which is the better biological explanation for a belief in God — evolutionary adaptation or neurological accident? Is there something about the cognitive functioning of humans that makes us receptive to belief in a supernatural deity? And if scientists are able to explain God, what then? Is explaining religion the same thing as explaining it away? Are the nonbelievers right, and is religion at its core an empty undertaking, a misdirection, a vestigial artifact of a primitive mind? Or are the believers right, and does the fact that we have the mental capacities for discerning God suggest that it was God who put them there?

In short, are we hard-wired to believe in God? And if we are, how and why did that happen?

NYT Link

Interesting article digging into current scientific study revolving around a belief in God. Hat tip to my sis for the link.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Religion, Science | Comment now »

 

On Set with BSG

Friday, March 9th, 2007


Two days on the set of Battlestar Galactica

With lots of imagery, although it looks like the shots wer taken with an older digital, the light levels are all off. But still an interesting read and a lot of cool images.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Television | Comment now »

 

Tivo & Unbox Take The Wraps Off

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007




That was quick: Tivo Unbox Service Released

Setup is pretty darn easy if you already have an Amazon account. This morning I was able to register my Tivo (which shows up as one of your devices in Amazon’s Media Library) through Amazon’s site and decided to try sending a purchased copy of Little Miss Sunshine to it. Hopefully it’ll be in my Now Playing list by tonight. The nice thing about this service is – aside from using a pc to purchase or rent the video, everything happens seamlessly in the background. The pc does not act as an intermediary for the download, so you can rent or purchase videos from anywhere and when you get home, they’ll be ready for viewing. This blows other download-to-pc-first services out of the water. You can also view the status of your transfers online, so there’s no guessing as to whether or not the video downloaded successfully. (Update – After about 20 minutes, Sunshine was 15% downloaded according to Amazon’s site.)

The first question I have is what is the quality of the video like? According to the post on Tivo Lovers, the films are being transcoded into a Tivo compatible format. Hopefully the video quality will remain on par with the current DVD quality, relatively high bitrate Amazon Unbox supports for video downloads. Since the HD Series3 is also supported, I’d bet they haven’t compressed the hell out of the content.

The total number of titles currently stands at around 1400 which puts this service way ahead of other “direct to the living room” services like Live Video Marketplace. (Microsoft, are you paying attention?) Since Amazon’s download service sports a total of over 2500 titles I think we can assume the entire library will ultimately be available. Amazon also announced new content deals with Sony Pictures and MGM Studios, so I’m sure the total number of Amazon movies offered will be increasing soon.

Also, according to the Tivo Unbox FAQ, Tivo does not replace an existing device you register, it’s an added device which adds to the number of ways you can view your content. One the great features of the Unbox service is that anything you purchase becomes part of your Amazon Media Library, which supports unlimited downloads of your content to up to 2 PC at a time, plus now your Tivo and a couple portables as well. You can unregister any existing registered device and replace it with another which makes managing your video collection pretty easy.

There are a couple minor drawbacks – you will not be able to use TivoToGo to get films you purchase or rent onto other computers around the house. But this really isn’t that big a deal since Unbox already has support for other devices, all of which support remote downloads just like Tivo. Plus, moving the content around isn’t that important since I suspect most consumers will be interested in the rental experience, not the purchase, which is a one time shot anyway. One other small annoyance is the lack of an ordering interface on the Tivo itself. While ordering from remote locations is useful for renting films while your away from the house it would be nice if the video browsing interface was also available through Tivo. Thankfully though you do not have to download the video to your computer – once the order is complete, Amazon will send the video directly to your Tivo box over the network.

Overall, the whole download video rental & purchase space is really opening up. Consumer’s now have many ways to get content into the living room, and I’m sure more will come. Very cool!

There’s more information on PVRBog and News.com.

The CNet article must have been written by an Apple fan boy who knows nothing about these services –

On the bright side for Unbox and TiVo, the Apple TV hardware–which could deal a powerful blow to both services–has had its launch delayed by several weeks.

iTunes has an exremely limited selection of movies, doesn’t support rentals, has a lower video quality than services like Unbox, and requires the use of a PC as an intermediary. Apple’s TV hub isn’t a PVR, and has yet to even ship, yet it’ll deal a big blow? Somehow I think that’s a bit premature. Personally I don’t think any one service will rule the video download space, there will be many, and consumers will choose which service, or multiple services they use based on how they setup their living rooms, what they prefer to do – rent or buy, and who they have established relationships with. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Update – The download of Little Miss Sunshive was complete by the time I got off work. According to Tivo the file is taking up 2.16 GB, which is actually a little larger than the WMV version I’ve previously downloaded to my computer. The video also looks excellent. For Tivo owners, this is definitely a great service to have.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Media Services, Technology | Comment now »