Monday, June 25, 2012

Build your own HDTV antenna

These days with sky-high cable and movie prices, more people are "cutting the cord" and using a mixture of Over the Air (OTA) live TV and streaming Internet solutions such as Netflix or Hulu. Last year, the nation switched over to all digital OTA signals to free up radio spectrum for other purposes. Which is fine, because pretty much everyone alive has a flat screen HDTV of some sort. All these new TVs have built in digital tuners to pick up OTA signals in full HD. All you need is an antenna!

I came across this article, and I intend on building this antenna. Keep in mind, this antenna is for picking up UHF signals, which digital TV now uses. Growing up in the 70's, UHF was mostly for public access channels like PBS.

TV Antenna Plans

The OTA signals you can pick up vary from area to area, so here is a web site that can help you determine which stations are local to your area.

TV Fool

Here are a few YouTube videos for building a DB4 antenna:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gigapixel Camera

There's images of some new Gigapixel camera cropping up over the Internet. Researchers have created a new camera with a resolution of 4 Gigapixels. I hope it comes with a suitcase of batteries and hard drives!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Torvalds: "Nvidia, F#$% you!"

Today, Linus Torvalds, inventor of the Linux operating system, gave Nvidia the bird and dropped an F-bomb on them. Hmm, I guess he's really unhappy with Nvidia.

During a speech last week at the Aalto University, Finland, Torvalds tore into Nvida for their poor Linux support. He pointed out the apparent hypocrisy in the fact that they sell lots of chips for Android OS, which is based upon Linux.

His comments were certainly a hit with the crowd, as you can see from the video snippet below.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ads Coming To Skype

Today the Skype blog announced that it would now show ads in the calling window for 1:1 audio calls, for users without a subscription or Skype credit.

From their blog:

While on a 1:1 audio call, users will see content that could spark additional topics of conversation that are relevant to Skype users and highlight unique and local brand experiences. So, you should think of Conversation Ads as a way for Skype to generate fun interactivity between your circle of friends and family and the brands you care about. Ultimately, we believe this will help make Skype a more engaging and useful place to have your conversations each and every day.

Yeah. I was just thinking to myself how fun it would be to see more ads have more local brand experiences.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Microsoft Douses Flame

Today the Microsoft Security Response Center announced a revamp of the certificate management for Windows. This is in response to the Flame exploit, the details of which unfolded last week. The Flame exploit was reported to use a flaw in the MD5 hashing algorithm which allowed for "collisions" between different hash values, which is supposed to be impossible.

The creators of Flame (widely rumored to be the US government) used the exploit to poison the Windows Update mechanism and force infected machines to install more malware using Windows Update. It has been rumored to target machines in the Middle East.

From the Microsoft Blog:
This new automatic updater feature provides a mechanism that allows Windows to specifically flag certificates as untrusted. With this new feature, Windows will check daily for updated information about certificates that are no longer trustworthy. In the past, movement of certificates to the untrusted store required a manual update. This new automatic update mechanism, which relies on a list of untrusted certificates known as a Disallowed Certificate Trust List (CTL), is detailed on the PKI blog. We encourage all customers to install this new feature immediately.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

RIP Ray Bradbury - (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)

What can I say, he was a great science fiction author. We read The Martian Chronicles in my 6th grade science class, and we read Fahrenheit 451 in 10th grade English class. Growing up, I couldn't get enough Sci-Fi / Fantasy. I read anything I could get my hands on by Bradbury, Heinlein, Tolkien, and others.

Maybe every generation says "they don't make 'em like that anymore", but honestly, it seems that authors like Bradbury are literally a dying breed. Not that there aren't a few good authors for this Genre like George R.R. Martin, but it seems like the number of good Sci-Fi / Fantasy authors is decreasing, and that is sad.

The genre is already unfairly stigmatized as being only for bookworm types that never played sports in their lives and have no social skills. The reality is that this genre is enjoyed by far more people than will admit to enjoying it. But more people need to stand up for Sci-Fi, and more good authors need to start writing for it. Otherwise, its best days will always remain behind it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's offical: The US created Stuxnet

I don't think anyone was surprised by the Obama administration's recent admission that the US created the Stuxnet worm with the help of our ally, Isreal. As reported in the NY Times and Ars Technica, the Obama administration confirmed that it had continued the Bush-era program, code-named "Olympic Games." This marks the first time in history that a government has admitted to using cyber warfare

The goal of the program was to disrupt Iranian centrifuges and degrade their capacity to enrich Uranium. The only problem was that the worm worked too well, and escaped into the wild, where it was captured and analyzed. While it is doubtful that anyone who lives in Isreal or the US is losing sleep over the damage caused to Iranian centrifuges, this opens up a Pandora's box that I doubt will ever be closed.

The problem with someone discovering our virus is that code can be reverse-engineered. Having Stuxnet be discovered by the Iranians is pretty much giving them the blueprints to the weapon we just attacked them with. No es bueno.

And it's not just the code itself. I'm sure the code contained innovative malware techniques, and it has been reported that it used previously-unknown vulnerabilities in the industrial control systems it was designed to attack. So, those innovative techniques are now old news, and those vulnerabilities are now known.

Not being a spook, I would guess that the absolute worst case scenario of a secret mission would be everyone in the whole world knowing about it. So, I would wager that the people who created this warm probably consider it a mixed success.

One point that I haven't seen any of the news sources make on this:

The government agencies telling congress that we need more draconian laws for dealing with scary cyber attacks are essentially the same ones causing those attacks. You go around set things on fire and then tell us that we need more fire trucks, or the whole city will burn down. Disappointing, but not surprising.