Tech Today w/ Ken May

Featured entries

What happened to Neopets?

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2015

Olivia Coy reports on the stunning downfall of Neopets , a hugely-successful virtual pet community/game/toy line that was monetized so grossly and relentlessly it evaporated in a matter of hours after a site feature failed. Read the rest

Every tool box needs a pair of screw removal pliers

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2015

A screw with a stripped head can be difficult to remove. There are a number of ways to remove screws with stripped heads. Read the rest

Why Impact is the "meme font"

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2015

Vox explains how the stout 1965 typeface became the text of choice for internet silliness: because is was included with Windows, and by the time anyone had a choice, ” the meme font had itself become a meme .”

This week WordPress released the latest edition of its recurring transparency report , revealing 43 percent  of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests it received have been rejected in the first six months of 2015. It’s the lowest six-month period shown in the report, though it only dates back to 2014. However, WordPress said this headline figure would be even higher if it “counted suspended sites as rejected notices.” That change in calculation would bump the WordPress DMCA denial rate to 67 percent between January 1 and June 30, 2015. In total, the publishing platform received 4,679 DMCA takedown requests as of June 30, identifying 12 percent of those as “abusive.” The top three organizations submitting these requests were Web Sheriff, Audiolock, and InternetSecurities. “Not surprisingly, the list is dominated by third party take down services, many of whom use automated bots to identify copyrighted content and generate takedown notices,” WordPress noted. The company wrote at length about this practice in April, both explaining and condemning the general procedure. “These kind of automated systems scour the Web, firing off takedown notifications where unauthorized uses of material are found—so humans don’t have to,” WordPress wrote . “Sounds great in theory, but it doesn’t always work out as smoothly in practice. Much akin to some nightmare scenario from the Terminator , sometimes the bots turn on their creators.” Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Scientists make a transistor from a single molecule

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2015

You’re looking at what could be not just one of the smallest semiconductor parts ever, but one of the smallest semiconductor parts possible . A worldwide research team has built a transistor that consists of a single copper phthalocyanine molecule, a dozen indium atoms and an indium arsenide backing material. The trick was to abandon the usual mechanics of a transistor, which normally controls current by modulating the gate voltage, in favor of a field effect. Here, you only need to vary the distance of the gate (in this case, the atoms) to modulate electricity. Don’t start preparing for a world full of tiny-but-complex gadgets just yet. The scientists created their transistor in a near-total vacuum, at a temperature barely above absolute zero. That’s a far cry from real-world conditions, and it’ll take much more research before transistors this small are in devices you can actually buy. Nonetheless, the breakthrough is promising — it shows that there’s still a long, long way to go before we hit the physical limits of electronics . [Image credit: US Naval Research Laboratory] Filed under: Science Comments Via: IEEE Spectrum Source: NRL , Nature

Sydney gets world’s first e-ink traffic signs

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2015

Sydney is now using the world’s first outdoor e-ink traffic signs to guide motorists during special events. The city’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) agency was apparently fed up with the constant chore of changing signs, and developed the tech with a company called Visionect . Like your Kindle , the signs are easy to read in Sydney’s bright sunshine, and also powered by it via solar panels. The messages can be updated remotely via a cell connection to an “internet of things” network. Sydney’s tech is pretty basic, but e-ink holds enormous potential for signage. We’ll no doubt see fancier outdoor displays one day, but for now the city’s just hoping to save some money — Los Angeles spends up to $9.5 million putting up temporary parking restriction signs, for instance. The group also developed anti-tampering and location detection tech, because you just know that someone’s going to try to steal or hack them. Filed under: Displays Comments Via: The Register Source: Visionect

When a loved one passes away, their Facebook profile page can become an important place for friends and family to remember them by. The company already offers memorialized accounts , which shows the word “remembering” next to their name and stops anyone from logging in, but now it’s going a step further with legacy contacts. The feature is rolling out in Europe today after its US debut in February , and allows users to choose a friend or relative to manage their account after they’ve died. Once activated, this person can write a post at the top of their timeline — for instance, to share details about a memorial service — respond to friend requests and update their profile and cover photos. Users can also give legacy accounts permission to download an archive of their profile, including photos and posts, for safe keeping should they wish for their account to be deleted. [Image credit: shutterstock] Filed under: Internet , Facebook Comments Via: Telegraph

AT&T’s $48.5 billion purchase of DirecTV is a done deal, as the Federal Communications Commission today announced that it has voted to approve the merger. The FCC imposed conditions on the acquisition, saying they ensure the combination will be in the public interest. AT&T will become the largest pay-TV company in the nation with about 26 million subscribers, jumping ahead of Comcast.”As part of the merger, AT&T-DirecTV will be required to expand its deployment of high-speed, fiber optic broadband Internet access service to 12.5 million customer locations as well as to E-rate eligible schools and libraries,” the FCC’s announcement said. (The federal E-rate program provides discounts on Internet service. AT&T will also have to provide discounted broadband to low-income customers.) AT&T had proposed the fiber build condition itself, though it has said the total number of planned fiber connections is just 2 million more than the amount it would have built even if the merger had not been approved. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mark Wilson writes: LinkedIn caused a storm a couple of days ago when it removed the option to instantly download contacts. Many users of the professional social network were more than a little irked to discover that while contact exporting was still available, a wait of up to three days had been put in place. Unsurprisingly, users revolted, having been particularly upset by the fact the change was implemented with no warning or announcement. But the company has managed to turn things around by quickly backtracking on its decision after listening to a stream of complaints on Twitter. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tomb, a Successor To TrueCrypt For Linux Geeks

Posted by kenmay on July - 27 - 2015

jaromil writes: Last day we released Tomb version 2.1 with improvements to stability, documentation and translations. Tomb is just a ZSh script wrapping around cryptsetup, gpg and other tools to facilitate the creation and management of LUKS encrypted volumes with features like key separation, steganography, off-line search, QRcode paper backups etc. In designing Tomb we struggle for minimalism and readability, convinced that the increasing complexity of personal technology is the root of many vulnerabilities the world is witnessing today — and this approach turns out to be very successful, judging from the wide adoption, appreciation and contributions our project has received especially after the demise of TrueCrypt. As maintainer of the software I wonder what Slashdot readers think about what we are doing, how we are doing it and more in general about the need for simplicity in secure systems, a debate I perceive as transversal to many other GNU/Linux/BSD projects and their evolution. Given the increasing responsibility in maintaining such a software, considering the human-interface side of things is an easy to reach surface of attack, I can certainly use some advice and criticism. Read more of this story at Slashdot.