Tech News

June 17, 2010
        Microsoft's Project Natal moves out of R and D and into Prelaunch and Brings a Friend
    Microsoft's long talked about interactive motion controller formerly known only as Project Natal has officially left the super secret bunkers of MS R&D and stepped into the daylight with a new name and plenty of press. The Microsoft Kinect (pronounced like connect) will be an accessory controller for the XBox360 console. The device uses an array of cameras and microphones to turn teh players own body into teh game controller. What was previously unannounced in the assorted rumor mills was that the new controller will be accompanied in its launch by a major redesign of the actual console. In much the same fashion that Sony recently released is PS3 Slim, Microsoft is releasing a very different looking XBox360. The name has not changed, but it looks like some of the consoles short comings may have finally received some attention. Ventilation has been added to a side panel and location of teh auxiliary HDD has moved from topside to down under. Also the new release will be available in black. The most entertaining change though is teh removal of the infamous Red Ring Of Death. The power button of the new console will only display green light, so gamers will never be greeted to an RROD while getting started with a relaxing frag session. Somehow i doubt that the stripping of a few red leds will have any effect of the actual failure rate of the Redmond console. But there is hope, after all, any idiot knows how much faster your car goes when you put Japanese decals all over.

June 17, 2010
        Foxconn to Employees: Stop Killing Yourselves or Else
    Tech producer Foxconn, an arm of Hon Hai Precision Industry, has been touted as one of the worst places world wide to work. In China, a large enough manufacturing facility can function as its own self contained city. 10 employees have committed suicide at the Shenzhen manufacturing facility (one over something as stupid as the loss of a prototype iPhone that caused Apple to reconsider its Foxconn contract) and benefits were denied to another worker who dropped dead after working long back to back shifts. The extremely poor working conditions are receiving the same response in China that similar working conditions prompted in the American Coal mines of decades past. Workers of various sectors in China are beginning to strike for better pay and working conditions.
    How does Foxconn plan to deal with the situation? Well the leadership has announced its intention to gradually move it manufacturing out of China. One option considered is Vietnam where apparently the average worker is still to scared of Big Brother to complain so the labor cost is still low. Another option involves moving the operation to Taiwan and replacing the whining humans with robots. Finally, an option to expand a large manufacturing facility in Mexico is being considered as well. In this troubled global economy, Foxconn wants you to know that if you dont stop whining they will fire you and replace you with robots and Mexicans.
    So be on notice all you "developing" countries looking to get rich quick by grabbing a piece of the high tech world of tomorrow. If you are dont mind a little sacrificing of the working class, Foxconn wants you!

June 17, 2010
        Another new and evil advertising venture
    Right on time, here is one of my seemingly monthly updates on the world of Tech. The advertising industry as a whole is most concerned with hijacking your attention with any means necessary and convincing you that you cannot live another second without whatever they have. Roadways have become so cluttered with billboards that nobody pay special attention to any particular sign. This angers the League of Advertising and World Domination because if nobody reads the signs, nobody will pay to put anything on them either. TV commercials (another fiendish plan from the Multimedia Monsters and one of its biggest cash cows) have finally been pushed back through the breach with the invaluable tool known as DVR. This weapon has made all but the first and last seconds of a "commercial break" all but worthless as the targeted victims skip over them like a stone on a flat pond. With their plans failing at every front, actions have taken on a desperate quality, and strange partners rise up. HP and Yahoo have banded together to blaze a new line of attack on the consumers everywhere. Web connected printers from HP may soon start receiving "targeted" ads from Yahoo. The targeting uses IP sniffing to "pin down your location" and tracks your behavior and useage to provide content aware ads. If you think this is beginning to sound like military tactics from the War On Terror you are not alone.

May 16, 2010
        Chinese Grey Market Selling WiFi Cracking Tools
    China has been in tech news quite a bit recently. The recent hacking of several major tech companies is alleged to have originated in China and now it has been discovered that some Chinese gray markets (places where the items for sale are technically legal but by no means moral or ethical) are selling WiFi cracking kits for as little as USD24. This kit is reportedly simple enough as to require little or know technical knowledge and can even be setup on the buyers machine in-store. The product is marketed as Free Internet and claims to be able to crack WEP and WPA encryptions. The WEP standard has been vulnerable for years though the exploitation of a know protocol flaw and a WEP protected WiFi network can be compromised by a skilled professional in under 30 seconds. the WPA standard is vulnerable through the simplicity of its passkey and can be compromised with a brute force technique that utilizes a dictionary and systematically guesses the password until entry is gained.
    The true worry point here is that if the tools are available to anyone and do not require any technical skill or knowledge to use, then teh only thing standing between your data and anyone that wants it is the complexity of your passkey. 12345678 is not a secure network passkey. Neither is any other combination of words and numbers no matter the length. Given enough time a brute force attack will crack any password that uses words or numbers. The dictionary can also include tech slang so keys like s0m3th1ng can also be compromised.
    How do you protect your data in light of this tools availability? Create a passkey that has personal significance but to others may appear as nonsense. Do not use numbers associated with anything that can be found in public record (birthdays, social, license numbers). And if you have critical information on your network that "must not fall into the wrong hands" change the password on a regular schedule.

April 15, 2010
        HP Provides Unofficial iPad Printing Solution
    How productive can you happy new iPad owners be without the ability to print out those fancy slideshows and charts and graphs? Well fear not because HP has you covered. Follow the title link and see what you think.

April 13, 2010
        Your Software is Aware
    Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that. We are not quite to that level but software is becoming more aware of the needs of its users. Adobe Photoshop CS5 released this week contains a function called content aware fill. It allows you to cut an object from a picture and have the program fill in the blank area with what it believes is similar to the surroundings.

April 7, 2010
        Corsair Takes PCMark crown with Record shattering Uber-System
    Benchmarking utilities like PC Mark Vantage and 3D Mark are the standard used to score and compare new products. The higher the score, the better, faster, and therefore cooler a product is. Some benchmarks evaluate a single aspect of a system, while others give the low down on the system as a whole. PC Mark is one of the latter, providing a score based on performance of the entire system by using an intense battery of tests designed to take the full measure of each component. Building a system capable of taking the crown makes for a great marketing gimmick. Check out the Specs from the title link. Is it cheating to cool the CPU with liquid nitrogen?

April 6, 2010
iPad: Will It Blend?

    Your new iPad will not make a Margarita. However, follow the title link and see just how well it gets blended. On a more serious note, I was truly surprised at how long the device appeared to keep functioning as it was folded in half to fit into the blender.

March 31, 2010
        MSI mentions RTFM chip, ends up eating shoe
    Here we are on All Fool's Eve. The day when pranksters everywhere rub their hands together and cackle with malicious glee as they consider the effects of the planned prankings. Tech manufacturer MSI has already launched their April Fools Joke and come to regret it. A mass email message was sent to members of MSI support forum informing them that MSI had installed an RTFM chip (Read The Freaking Manual) in some products. This chip was reported to warn MSI about initial Windows settings and "manual readings" and that support would be denied to users who failed to read their manual in the first month of ownership. While i happen to agree with the policy in spirit and love that MSI has an official sense of humor, I am amazed at the short sightedness or lack of control that allowed this prank idea to go from funny idea to mass distribution. And on top of all this i got my hopes pinned to a non-existant RTFM chip.

March 29, 2010
        TXT When Full Diapers
    I realize the frequency of my posts has suffered a bit of a drop off since the start of 2010, but this is one i couldn't help but mention. Simavita has released a product targeted at nursing homes to assist nursing staff by alerting of wet diapers. In the realm of niche products, this one is in a niche all by itself. The product consist of a small electronics module and 2 wire leads that detect moisture. When the leads detect moisture, they send a text message alert to the nursing station. The device also has a tracking system to keep count of each alert for records purpose. As sad as it is, this product is its smart remark.

March 5, 2010
        Thermaltake Keyboard
    Ok so, much like memory maker Corsair's spectacular new computer case, here is another incredible product from a company doing something outside their normal comfort zone. The Thermaltake Challenger Gaming Keyboard Pro! ok so the name is a bit long and sounds somewhat self congratulatory but the device looks to earn every bit of it. It includes every bell and whistle you might expect on a high end gaming board. A host of dedicated macro keys, anti-ghosting (ability to handle numerous keys pressed simultaneously), gold plated USB connector for "maximum connectivity," a few usb ports on the board itself, backlit keys, and one more piece of genius. Thermaltake outfitted this already awesome board with a tiny detachable fan! What would you need a fan on a keyboard for you ask? Well i'll tell you. Anyone who has spent hours slouched in front of a screen playing an intense first person shooter knows the phenomenom of sweaty hands. Its mostly annoying, but sweaty uncomfortable hands can be get you dead on the battlefield. The fan that mounts on either side of the keyboard (nod to the southpaw) moves just enough air to keep you dry and on your A game. Check out the above link to Fudzilla and prepare to drool.

February 26, 2010
        Training Simulator for Surgeons
    This new product is exactly what you might expect. Much like a flight simulator for training pilots, this is a surgical simulator for training surgeons. Check out the link to Engadget for the story.

February 11, 2010
        Get your Fiber Fix from Google
    No, Google is not trying to give you a bran muffin. What they are trying to do is offer "select communities" Fiber Optic internet to the house. Comcast tried something similar a few years ago in a Houston suburb (likely other locations as well) and it never seemed to take off. Google's plan is to offer the service with speeds in the neighborhood of 1 Gigabits per second. Now that is a BLAZING fast connection speed! In theory this could bring your download speed in line with local network transfer speeds...or faster!

February 9, 2010
        HDD Boost
    Ok, so this one doesn't really impress me. The idea behind the product is to string a Solid State Drive together with a traditional spinning dick drive and end up with something that is better that both. The product uses a standard SSD to store the most commonly used files and the HDD for its large capacity. I think the industry as a whole would be better served by creating a high capacity HDD (1.5TB or greater) with an obscenely large buffer (at least 5GB) made of flash memory. What benefit is gained from tethering 2 dissimilar storage disks and pretending they are one? If you already have an SSD and a large HDD how is this additional cost justifiable over installing your OS and programs on the SSD for speed and using the HDD for mass storage?

February 9, 2010
        Alternative Energy Street Lights
    A concept design or a "green" powered street lamp has been released. This concept uses wind turbines attached to each light pole to generate electricity that is then used to power the light atop said pole. This is an interesting concept as it proposes the use of small wind turbines, each dedicated to a single purpose. Products similar to this have been in use for some time now in the form of highway warning signals that are powered by solar collectors.
    A further extension of this concept might include installation of kinetic energy generators in some streets where wind or solar energy are unavailable. This concept comes straight from the King (the Burger King that is) who recently tested MotionPower, an alternative energy source for drive through windows.

February 3, 2010
        Personal Timewarp
    Ok, so I'm talking Back to the Future here. What i am talking about is a video camera that will shoot at 1000fps and is priced in the range of the consumer budget. The Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is slated to be released in April at the reasonably modest price of almost $500. I skimmed through the press release embedded on the Engadget link, and i am inpressed. I'm no shutterbug, i don't even own a camera that isn't attached to a cell phone. But if i had $500 to spend and was looking to start capturing the world around me for posterity, this camera would rank high on the list of likely purchases.
    The camera is small enough that you don't have to look like a sports journalist at your kinds next rendition of Dance of the 4 Food Groups (in Dm with cassette accompaniment). The device is host to several fun sounding features like Motion-Panorama Mode, 30x optical zoom, Face-Detection and Red-Eye removal, and Full 1080p video capture. All-in-all an excellent looking camera for anyone looking to take great photos and videos without taking out a second mortgage for a camera.

January 7, 2010
        Fully Customizable Mouse
    Mad-Catz is a company famous for its production of console controllers. In my experience they tend towards low quality and short life spans.
The company has now released a pair or mice that might make me test that reputation again. The new Cyborg Rat comes in wired and wireless varieties, but its biggest draw is its level of customizability. Every physical aspect of this mouse can be adjusted for the perfect fit. Though the price for $130 is a little high in my opinion for what amounts to just another pointing device.
Subpages (1): 2009