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Monday, 24 February 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 preview - Engadget

Not as impressive as I thought it might be. Most things seem to be under the hood. No stereo speakers which I had hoped for. The heat rate monitor is pretty cool for the health conscious.

I'm a little more interested in the second revisions of their gear lineup if they bundle that with the phone in some good deals.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/24/samsung-galaxy-s5-preview/

gov.uk document standardisation upsetting Microsoft

Microsoft released an open letter to partners to comment on the Governments proposal for ODF and why Microsoft's derived formats should be used instead.

I'm all for ODF and editors having to fully support it. Infact I'm all for other parts of the UK to adopt it and modernise like the NHS!

http://standards.data.gov.uk/proposal/sharing-collaborating-government-documents

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Game of Thrones!


Still a little while off  (9pm Sky Atlantic on the date below) but I can't wait!

In the mean time, enjoy an 8-bit version of the theme tune.. 




Dual sim & Facebook messenger coming to Windows Phone 8.1

Exciting times! This could be perfect as I hate carrying two phones and this looks clean and simple.

Unless Samsung or HTC do something very interesting with the new Android phones I think I'll be switching over for Windows Phone 8.1. 


Next up is Facebook messenger. The platform already has a Facebook app and Whatsapp so like with all the other ecosystems wondering what's next for this dual WhatsApp/Facebook messenger world, we'll have to wait. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Why you need to start using a password manager.

I bought against using one for ages...but my brain has failed me... I can only re-hash, re-formulate, completely re-define passwords so many times before things become impossible...

In the end people either start doing a few simple things... Using repeat passwords or worst of all, writing them down! More commonly they also use really simple passwords... That ones always been a mystery to me as to why as it's easy to come up with at least one good complex password.

So in steps some password managers:
KeePass & LastPass

There are a lot more out there. These are the best known to me.

LastPass uses the cloud and personally, I find it the easiest to use as a switch devices a lot.

For those not as happy with the cloud being used there is also KeePass.

So why use them?

Cracking passwords is becoming easier with more computational power and large lists of breaches becoming more increasingly available. The tools for cracking them are also getting a lot better. Examples being; RockYou.txt coming in around 60MB (Yes that's a .txt file).

Also think about this expert from a Ars Technica article:

"A PC running a single AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPU, for instance, can try on average an astounding 8.2 billion password combinations each second, depending on the algorithm used to scramble them. Only a decade ago, such speeds were possible only when using pricey supercomputers.


So whats the key to a half decent password these days? Length combine with complexity.Don't just pick a really long word. 

i.e. Defenestration (A favourite word of mine for some random reason)

Now the character length is good but it's bound to get found on a dictionary brute force attack.. 

Next found would be passwords like Defenestration13 or Defenestration231127

Then D3f3n3str4t10n

Now we're getting into the area of a more solid password: 

45%D3fe[3str4t^on#!1731 (Not so heavy with the l33t speak, miss some characters on purpose)

So you're happy with your genius password that you think is uncrackable. 6 months down the line its in some dictionary because Tescos, Sony, Twitter or whom ever had a breach that month was not taking enough care to hash, salt their data. 

So this is why those password managers are becoming important and I've moved over. I;ve never had a breach of security (that I know of) but with unique complex random and long passwords on my logins I will certainly minimise any damage that could be done. I would make the password to your email account particularly complex! 

A lot of services are now starting to also use 2 step authentication where your mobile / email gets sent a verification code to input at login... it costs you a little more time but it's well worth it. Get used to using them as they can also be invaluable if your password is compromised. Facebook and Google have been using these for a while and they work pretty smoothly.  MMO games such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 also make extensive use of this tech as well so it's becoming increasingly popular.

Some good links worth a read:
Wikipedia -Password cracking
ArsTechnica - The secret to online safety: Lies, random characters, and a password manager

WhatsApp is down!!

WhatsApp are blaming server issues... In the week that Facebook has purchased them... Interesting stuff.. 


Seems Global, India and UK users are reporting the most complaints.

https://twitter.com/wa_status

Friday, 21 February 2014

Amazon Prime to incorporate what was Lovefilm and become Prime Instant Video.

£50 for a year of unlimited streaming and free 1 day parcel delivery from Amazon... Not bad.

If your already a Prime customer you'll be upgraded automatically.

Wonder if they will be expanding the catalogue further as it doesn't really compare to Netflix or NowTV.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/prime/pipeline/landing?ie=UTF8&primeCampaignId=preLaunchPVDEUK&ref=SWMpreannounce

Windows Phone. You've now got a fighting chance! (Windows 8.1 feature set post)


  • Swype support (Sorry iOS, your now out in the cold).
  • VPN (Er... the business phone with Office and Exchange support but no VPN till now!!!)
  • Rotation lock. ( Reading emails in bed will no longer be infuriating).

You've finally listened!

Now all I need is Sky Go but I can live without while I still have a tablet!

http://www.wpcentral.com/windows-phone-81-features

Other notable mentions:

Media
  • Audio/video transcoding, Hardware accelerated

System
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Chkdsk for SD cards to ensure card health
  • Miracast, PlayTo, mirror and project via wireless display or USB-out
  • Mouse and keyboard support (HID)
  • Stereoscopic 3D support
  • Wi-Fi Direct

Yeeeah, I might avoid banking apps....

https://blogs.rsa.com/ibanking-mobile-bot-source-code-leaked/

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I'm quite excited about this given the vision Canonical had with their failed crowd source attempt. A desktop replacement you carry around in your pocket. This is going to be tempting to anyone looking for average computation power in a small form factor. If it's seemless it could be a real game changer. It'd have to allow for a multitude of different setups (bluetooth keyboard / mice, wireless monitor connectors as well as HDMi (mini HDMI) etc etc... 

Verizon wants Netflix to pay for traffic- The Inquirer

Good luck Verizon... What about Google, Hulu etc etc... Doubt they'll get very far.

Verizon wants Netflix to pay for traffic- The Inquirer

Mixed messages coming from Irrational Games. (BioShock dev)

http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/18/irrational-games-closing/

Monday, 17 February 2014

Google promises 10Gps fiber network to blast 4K into living rooms

Get in early and get the IP in for the technology. Thats where the real money is at.

I'd love for them to start a fibre project in the UK. If they teamed up with someone like Sky, TalkTalk or Fujitsu that could have some real potential for a market shake-up.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/14/google_will_upgrade_fiber_network_to_give_10gbps_home_broadband/

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

April 8 - Don't even think about using Windows XP anymore...

You really do need to kill off that XP machine! It's going to be a prime target for malicious attackers. Either move to Windows 8.1 or get a Linux distro as they're dead easy to use these days. Try Ubuntu, or for older machines: Xubuntu.). You'll be more secure and supported for software updates.

The only downside as stated in the link below is there is no easy upgrade direct from XP to Windows 8.1. You need to backup all date and do a clean install. Then reinstall all your programs and drivers.

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/microsoft-belatedly-attempts-to-use-friends-and-family-to-get-rid-of-windows-xp/

Whitehall and Microsoft negotiate NHS Windows XP hacker survival plan

I live with two NHS nurses... they tell me the systems are shocking...

Then I had a recent referral... it looked like it had been typed on a typewriter... This was from a central London hospital... They need a proper well managed overhaul.

Do as I say, not as I do comes to mind here *cough* ITIL *cough*

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/12/nhs_microsoft_win_xp_extended_support/

FreeNAS 9.2.1-RELEASE announced

Seems to get better and better with every update! The plugins are also being well maintained.

I've not fully played with Plex yet but that looks pretty capable as well.

http://www.freebsdnews.net/2014/02/08/freenas-9-2-1-release-announced/

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Recovering unallocated space of a USB flash drivE (Windows)

You know that annoying problem where a disk has been formatted strangely and you can't get the disk manager to delete all the partitions so you can merege them.

This is how you fix it.

Check this disk number in disk manager first:



Then open CMD, type: diskpart . Now your in the right utility. 
Now type: select disk <disk number>
Then Clean and your all done!

You can also do create partition primary from here or just use the GUI. 

Speed test on TalkTalk Business FTTC 80/20

Not a true test as I didn't turn off all my other devices in the home.



My Broadband Speed Test


I must say that the TG582n is shocking to say the least... Half the features in the GUI are missing so you have to go in via command line and the ones that are in there are so unintuitive that it's maddening to find them. Not to mention the hissy fits it throws if you change too much so as to make it crash!

Ofcom Propose to Allow 3G and 4G Mobile Communications on Aircraft

It’s already possible to make 2G based voice calls on-board flights (note: not all allow it though) and Ofcom has now launched a new consultation that aims to extend this by enabling the use of 3G (UMTS at 2100MHz) and 4G (LTE at 1800MHz) based Smartphones and related devices on a licence-exempt basis while flying.

The UK communications regulator has based its new proposal on a related decision by the European Commission (EC), which allows for the inclusion of additional access technologies and frequency bands for mobile communications services on aircraft.

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/02/ofcom-propose-allow-3g-4g-mobile-devices-aircraft.html

World's largest DDoS strikes US, Europe

 350Gbps DDoS Thats pretty monumental for an ISP to deal with!

http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372033,worlds-largest-ddos-strikes-us-europe.aspx

Monday, 10 February 2014

Recent to Sky broadband? Not a parent? Might want to turn this off.

Login to your My Sky iD and set this to off.

If your a parent, turn it on for added child protection.

http://www.sky.com/products/broadband-talk/sky-broadband-shield/features/

I've also seen TalkTalk. Although I'm unfamiliar with how that works it has a separate option for ISP level virus protection that can be enabled separate to the content filter which is interesting.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

NVIDIA Maxwell GM107 GPU pictured and detailed

Worth a read as their table included doesn't give all the details. (and thus not re-posted here). Sounds like its worth skipping this revision and waiting for the 20nm parts, probably in Q3... 



http://videocardz.com/49517/nvidia-maxwell-gm107-gpu-pictured-detailed

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Apple Building Out Their Own CDN To Deliver Content To Consumers

Looks like it's bad news for Akamai's (and Level 3 to a lesser extent) business if Apple make a major shift away from them. It'll be interesting to see if Apple only go into the IPX's or if they take a Open Connect approach like Netflix have and deal with ISP's as well.

http://blog.streamingmedia.com/2014/02/apple-building-cdn-software-video-delivery.html

V-Ray 3.0 For 3ds Max by Chaos Group

The team at Chaos have made significant optimisations to the ray tracing core which has now enabled up to 5x performance increase for Brute Force CI, Progressive Path Tracing, Reflections and Refractions.

Artists will find that V-Ray 3.0 offers improved Subsurface Scattering (SSS) including options for object-based and ray traced illumination, faster hair rendering speeds (up to 15x), view-dependent tessellation that automatically smoothes hair curves, and a dedicated Skin Shader with layered reflections. Now with UDIM and UVTILE support, it’s even easier to move MARI and Autodesk® Mudbox® assets into V-Ray.

In addition, V-Ray 3.0 offers a number of additional workflow shortcuts, technical advances and support for open sources technologies, these include:

Render Mask – Users can define render regions using an object selection or image mask
Reflection/ Refraction Trace Sets – Provides more direct control in choosing whether reflections and refractions are visible in objects
Max Ray Intensity – Will easily fix artifacts from over-bright sources
Probabilistic Lights – Increases the speed of scenes with a high number of lights
V-Ray RT GPU – Improved with support for Render Elements
V-Ray Frame Buffer – Improved with added color correction controls
Open Source Technologies
Alembic integration with support for hair and particles
Deep Data output support including OpenEXR 2.0
Ptex object-space vector displacement support
Open Shading Language (OSL) support for programmable shaders
OpenColorIO support for advanced color management

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

rators EE and Three strike a deal to share 4G infrastructure

Cost savings and better coverage hopefully!

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2326622/rival-operators-ee-and-three-strike-a-deal-to-share-4g-infrastructure

Galaxy S5 rumours & thoughts

See link at the bottom. 

A 2k display on a 5in screen just seems a bit excessive to be honest! If the rumours are true and is LCD over AMOLED then I don't think that'll be great in daylight either... Still it's on course for an April release which is when I got my S4 last year so it's a decent option. I''d also be impressed if it doesn't kill the battery in just a few hours of gaming. 


Same goes for the 6 core 64bit processor. Although that does sound pretty cool and the idea of 'carrying' your desktop around in your pocket is pretty cool. I hope they give it a mini-HDMI / MHL out to plug straight into a display.

On a side note. I'd love for them to release the same spec as a Windows Phone and give the devs something to built towards! That OS needs more rapid development! Thats not to say Android won't for some of these features.

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2317640/samsung-galaxy-s5-release-date-price-specs-and-features