Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Google Cooling Entire Data Center With Seawater

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...In 2009 Google purchased a former building of a paper mill in Finland. Since then, the search giant has been hard at work designing a water cooling solution that would take the seawater into the data center and then channel it back out with minimal environment impact.

Any PC building enthusiast will know the merits of water-cooling.

Check out the video that Google made on its new location:

Automatically Move Photos to Folders Based on Exif Date

If you want to automatically move and sort your photos to directories based on the specific date the photo was taken, I suggest you to try a free program called PhotoMove.

Simply choose the directory where your photos are saved, choose the directory under which you want the date sorted files to go and then click on the ‘Find Photos’ Button.

PhotoMove is based on the Perl library ExifTool, using which you can either move or copy your photos to date based subdirectories.

Wait for it to finish scanning and the program will show the number of files found and number of photos that has a valid EXIF creation dates. Then click on either ‘Copy Image Files’ or ‘Move Image Files’.

By the way PhotoMove operates on all files with embedded Exif data, not necessarily picture files.

So if the source folder contain other files that uses Exif to store dates such as Microsoft Excel files (.xls) and Adobe Acrobat PDF files (.pdf), these will get moved or copied as well.

So pay attention to what directories you pick to move or copy files from.

For Command Line users I recommend you the ExifTool by Phil Harvey

Monday, May 30, 2011

283,000 Car Owners Lose Personal Data From HONDA

DES PLAINES, IL - MARCH 16: (FILE PHOTO)  A Ho...Japanese carmaker Honda is confronting a theft of personal information from 283,000 Honda and Acura customers in Canada.

Executive vice-president and chief compliance officer at Honda Canada Inc., confirmed Thursday that names, addresses and vehicle identification numbers were taken from the company's e-commerce websites myHonda and myAcura.

In a letter to affected vehicle owners dated May 13, Honda Canada said it was alerted by unusual volume on the sites, including “some unauthorized attempts to access account information.” The letter said financial information was not compromised.

Honda, which does not sell customer data to third parties, is investigating the incident, which has been reported to police. Perpetrators have not been identified and no group has claimed responsibility.

The letter warns of “possible improper access of information,” but said customers are not at risk for fraud and identity theft. Chenkin said federal and provincial privacy commissions were notified and customers were warned of the breach “as soon as possible.”

The letter said customers should be on the alert for marketing overtures that reference ownership of a Honda or Acura vehicles.

Online security experts said the information can ultimately be used to steal identities.
Honda late last year warned more than two million of its customers in the U.S. that an email database containing some of their personal information had been stolen.

The list contained names, login identities, email addresses and vehicle identification numbers of the Honda owners, while another list containing only the email addresses of nearly three million Acura owners was also taken.

 Related articles

Email Accounts Hacked in 15 Minutes

KTTV Fox 11 investigative report on Anonymous.A recently posted video on YouTube teaches viewer's how to hack into someone's email account in just 15 minutes.

The video showed a group of volunteers follow an online "man in the middle technique" tutorial. It showed them learn in just fifteen minutes how to hack into a computer network. It went on to show them using the technique to obtain each other's login details and passwords.

To date there are an estimated 20,000 videos available on YouTube alone that teach viewers the basics of hacking social media profiles, email accounts, smartphones and PayPal accounts.

A report from the Daily Mail has already speculated that as many as 16 per cent of the British population have had their social networking profiles broken into and a further 10 per cent have suffered financially as a result.

Here's some tips to avoid falling victim to cyber crime.

Users change their password regularly and use more obscure word and letter combinations.

Leave any website that makes overt use of unknown certificates and pop ups.

Avoid sending data over unsecured or public wireless networks.

Always check the security behind free wireless connections.

If using a smartphone disable its auto Wi-Fi connect feature.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sony PlayStation Network Restart in Japan Blocked By Government

Logo of the PlayStation NetworkSony will not be allowed to restart its halted online game services in Japan until it provides further information on what measures it has taken since an earlier hacking incident, a Japanese regulatory official said Sunday.

A Japanese government official said the country has not yet allowed Sony to launch PlayStation Network within its borders because of concerns over the security of the service.

"We met with Sony on May 6 and 13, and basically we want two things from them," Kazushige Nobutani, director of the Media and Content Industry department at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, told Dow Jones Newswires.

He listed two areas where it requires further explanation before approval will be given following the incidents regarding its PlayStation Network and Sony Online Entertainment videogame services.

"The first is preventative measures. As of May 13, Sony was incomplete in exercising measures that they said they will do on the May 1 press conference," he said, adding that he could not provide details on the outstanding issues for security reasons.

The second was in how Sony hoped to regain consumer confidence over personal data such as credit card information.

Sony began a limited and phased restoration of the services Saturday, bringing the company a step closer to normalcy following an attack on its systems that compromised personal information for more than 100 million user accounts last month. It said that it would begin bringing its PlayStation Network back online in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Schizophrenic Computer Created By Scientists

a human brain in a jarComputer networks that can't forget fast enough can show symptoms of a kind of virtual schizophrenia, giving researchers further clues to the inner workings of schizophrenic brains, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Yale University have found.
The researchers used a virtual computer model, or "neural network," to simulate the excessive release of dopamine in the brain. They found that the network recalled memories in a distinctly schizophrenic-like fashion.

Their results were published in April in Biological Psychiatry.

"The hypothesis is that dopamine encodes the importance-the salience-of experience," says Uli Grasemann, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin. "When there's too much dopamine, it leads to exaggerated salience, and the brain ends up learning from things that it shouldn't be learning from."

"It's an important mechanism to be able to ignore things," says Grasemann. "What we found is that if you crank up the learning rate in DISCERN high enough, it produces language abnormalities that suggest schizophrenia."

"Information processing in neural networks tends to be like information processing in the human brain in many ways," says Grasemann. "So the hope was that it would also break down in similar ways. And it did."

How Bin Laden Baffled US Electronic Surveillance

A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden videoOsama bin Laden didn't have an internet connection or a phone, but for years he was a prolific user of email  by saving messages to a thumb drive and having them sent from a distant internet cafe.

Bin Laden would type the messages on a computer that had no connection to the outside world and then instruct a trusted courier to drive to a cafe so they could be emailed.

The courier would then save messages addressed to bin Laden to the same drive and bring it back so his boss could read them offline.

The process was so tedious that even veteran intelligence officials have marveled at the al-Qaida chief's ability to maintain it for so long.

US Navy Seals seized roughly 100 flash memory drives when they killed bin Laden at his Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound.

The cache of messages is so big that the government has enlisted Arabic speakers from around the intelligence community to pore over them.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Help Light Your Face During Video Chats With an Empty Browser Window

A Trust 120 SpaceCam webcamIf you live in your basement or a place where you don't have a lot of light, your webcam may have some trouble seeing you.

The solution? Use the light from your monitor.

If you're video-chatting with someone, simply open an blank browser window and type in the URL bar about:blank

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ALL Your Music From the Cloud With Google Music Streams

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Google Music, the streaming music answer to Amazon, MOG and Rdio, is here.

You can access music in the cloud and stream to devices. But unlike MOG and Rdio, you can only play what you upload.

How do you use it? You use Google's Music Manager on your desktop to add your songs to the service. It adds play counts and ratings as well. It's a "full featured music manager", so you can search and do all the other things you could in iTunes and Windows Media Player.

Here's a look at some of its features:

Library Upload: With the Music Manager app, you can upload your iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries with one click. You can also upload by file or folder.

Offline Listening: It's a pretty standard feature, but Google's gives this feature a neat twist by automatically caching songs you've recently listened to. I'd also love to see them do this for most listened songs. And of course, you can also cache specific songs you select. Necessary, since you can't re-download music from the service.

Seamlessness: Any change you make to your Google Music library on one device is automatically pushed to other devices.

Playlists: Once you upload your tracks to the Google Music cloud, you can play around with it just like it was in a music app. That means playlists which automatically sync across all your connected devices. They also have a smart playlist feature called instant mix, which will automatically build a list for you based on one song. It's like iTunes' genius or Pandora's recommendation bot. Google says that they have servers actually listening to the songs to make their playlist selection.

 The service can store up to 20,000 songs per user on up to eight authorized devices and took five minutes or so for the first 150 songs to upload.

But you don't always have an internet connection, or a good enough one to stream music. So you can either select certain music to cache on your device, and the service automatically caches your recently listened-to music as well.

You can request an invitation to Music Beta here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

White Hat Hackers Find Skype Security Hole For Mac

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

Skype has issued an update for all Mac users, due to security concerns in Skype version 5.x for Mac which allows a malicious user to activate code on the victim’s computer.

A security researcher said today that he found a serious hole in the Mac version of Skype and proving that it was possible to send a specific message to a user of Skype and it would crash Skype and make it unusable.

Gordon Maddern, says he discovered the vulnerability about a month ago. He was chatting on Skype to a colleague about a payload when the payload executed in the colleague's Skype client accidentally.

He created a proof of concept that can be used in an attack but is not releasing details on it until Skype fixes the issue. He could not find the vulnerability in the Skype client for Windows and Linux, he said.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How To Embed MP3 Files On Website Or Blog

MP3's logoHow can you embed mp3 files into web pages?
Google audio player is a cool way to embed and play any music mp3 file on your website. This will allow your readers to play audio files directly from web pages.

To embed an MP3 file, add the following code to your web page or blog post.
<embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf" quality="best" flashvars="audioUrl=LINK" width="500" height="27"></embed>

Replace LINK with the URL of the MP3 file. The file can be uploaded to any server or file hosting services including your own, as long as the file is directly accessible.

You can change the width of the Google audio player to fit your content width. If you increase the height, a black empty zone starts to appear, so best keep it at 27px.

Try to play the audio file below. It is embedded using the above code.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sony Knew Software Was Outdated Three Months Ago

Logo of the PlayStation NetworkIn congressional testimony this morning, Dr. Gene Spafford of Purdue University said that Sony was using seriously outdated software on its servers and knew about it approximately three months before, the company was informed by security experts monitoring open Internet forums that its version of Apache Web Server was out of date.

This version was unpatched and had no firewall protection of any kind.

Read the congessional testimony here (PDF)

Sony Blames Partially Anonymous For Security Breach and Data Theft

Logo of the PlayStation Network
Sony has blamed the online vigilante group Anonymous for indirectly allowing the security breach that allowed a hacker to gain access to the personal data of more than 100m online gamers.

In a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's panel on commerce, manufacturing and trade, Sony said the breach came at the same time as it was fighting a denial-of-service attack from Anonymous, also they discovered a file planted on one of its servers named "Anonymous" with the words "We are Legion," the tagline for the group that has brought down the websites of big corporations such as Visa, the letter said.

In response, Anonymous released a statement Wednesday denying the allegations, but did allow that individual members may have been involved.
"Sony is incompetent," the group said. "While it could be the case that other Anons have acted by themselves AnonOps was not related to this incident and takes no responsibility."

Possible Security Breach At LastPass

Image representing LastPass as depicted in Cru...Users who manage and store their passwords through password management service LastPass are being forced to change their master passwords after the site noticed an issue this week that raised the spectre of a possible security breach.

LastPass wrote on their blog yesterday that because they can't account for the anomaly they detected in one of the databases, the company made the decision to assume the worst that some of its data had been hacked, even though they say you shouldn't be impacted by this issue if you have a strong, non-dictionary-based password.

LastPass hasn't identified a specific breach, it's erring on the site of caution by now forcing its members to change their master passwords.

LastPass let users create and manage passwords to more easily log in to the vast array of secure Web sites they visit.
Those passwords can be stored on a PC or mobile device as well as online. As one means of protection, LastPass typically urge users to create a single complex master password that can unlock the key to accessing their passwords.
Of course, if that master password is compromised, hackers potentially can gain access to all the individual passwords, one reason why these companies advise users to employ complex master passwords.

In the meantime, LastPass have moved services to other servers for now. They also compared the code on the live servers with code from their repositories to make sure it was not tampered with.
The company is also enhancing the encryption used to protect its data.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Woz Tells Paul Allen To Stop Trolling

Steve Wozniak thumbs upApple and Microsoft have battled it out on many fronts over the years, but now there's a new one: the battle of the lesser-known co-founders.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak isn't entirely happy with the behavior of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and decided to tell him so.

Wozniak dedicated some pointed, if not poignant, remarks toward Allen at the Embedded System Conference Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif., last week.

He reportedly declared: "That patent-troll thing...the other night Paul Allen was speaking at the Computer History Museum and I had four tickets.  And I decided at the last minute not to go, because I remembered he's suing all these companies like Apple and Google but he's not suing Microsoft because he bought all these patents."

Wozniak later said that Allen should be "investing in companies that are doing something, making products, actually making a new future for the world," rather than "get in bed with the lawyers to make my money."

Still, you might be wondering what Wozniak did instead of going to see Allen at the Computer History Museum. He reportedly wandered off with some friends to Marie Callender's. Not so much because he loves the pies, but because he loves the split-pea soup with ham.

Post-raid Satellite Image Of Osama Bin Laden Compound

Satellite images of the compund where Osama bin Laden was likely shot and killed have been released by GeoEye, a satellite imagery provider.

This one-meter resolution image shows a walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. According to news reports Abbottabad is the town where Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. The image was collected by the IKONOS satellite on May 2, 2011 at 10:51 a.m. local time while flying 423 miles above the Earth at an average speed of 17,000 mph, or four miles per second.
The timing of this image would be taken place 10 hours after the attack.

The crash site of the problem-helicopter seems plainly visibly as a blackened helicopter-shaped mass.
While there are photographs around of helicopter chunks eventually being hauled away, this satellite image seems to have been taken before then:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sony Hacked Again 25 Million More Accounts Hacked

Logo of the PlayStation NetworkHackers may have stolen the personal information of 24.6 million Sony Online Entertainment users.

More than 20,000 credit card and bank account numbers were also put at risk.

This in addition to the recent leak of over 70 million accounts from Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity services.

Sony said that the compromised personal information includes customers’ names,
addresses, e-mail addresses, birth dates, gender, phone numbers, logins and hashed passwords.

Also at risk are the credit card numbers and expiration dates of 12,700 non-U.S. customers, plus 10,700 direct debit records from customers in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain, containing bank-account numbers, customers’ names and addresses.

This information was stored in what Sony said was an “outdated database from 2007.”

Man liveblogs Osama Bin Laden operation unknowingly

A 33-year-old computer programmer, Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words "the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.".
He did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter.

His first tweet was : "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)."

Nestled in the mountains around 60 miles (95 kilometers) northeast of the capital, Abbottabad is a quiet, leafy town featuring a military academy, the barracks for three army regiments and even its own golf course.

Soon the sole helicopter multiplied into several and gunfire and explosions rocked the air above the town, and Athar's tweets quickly garnered 14,000 followers as he unwittingly described the U.S. operation to kill one of the world's most wanted militants.

He tweeted."The few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani,"

As the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden unfolded, Athar "liveblogged" what he was hearing in real time, describing windows rattling as bombs exploded.

Athar then said one of the aircraft appeared to have been shot down. Two more helicopters rushed in, he reported.

The aircraft might be a drone. The army was conducting door-to-door searches in the surrounding area. The sound of an airplane could be heard overhead.

Throughout the battle, he related the rumors swirling through town: it was a training accident. Somebody was killed.

Soon, however, the rumbling of international events far beyond the confines of this quiet upscale suburb began to dawn on Athar, and he realized what he might be witnessing.

"I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected," he tweeted.

Eight hours and about 35 tweets later, the confirmation came: "Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Athar reported. "There goes the neighborhood."


Monday, May 2, 2011

Scan Your Music Library For Missing Songs

How do you make sure that no songs are missing in your library?
That every album is complete?

Applications to scan a library of songs for missing tracks are very rare.
One application that can be used for the job is Jaikoz Audio Tagger.
This is not freeware but the trial version is good enough to find out if songs are missing in your whole music library.

The trial version is limited in functionality, but that is not a problem, we only use the software to find missing tracks in a local music collection, and that feature does not appear to be limited.

After installation the first step is to load the music library into the program.
This is done with a click on File --> Open Folder. Just pick the root folder of your collection to add it to the software. The application scans all folders and files under that structure automatically, and information about the identified music appears in the program interface afterwards.

Select Action --> Auto Correct, or press Ctrl-1 on the keyboard after this first step. This will look up all songs and albums at the online music database MusicBrainz.
This can take quite some time, depending on the number of songs and files stored under the root folder.

Use Reports --> List Missing Songs For Albums in the final step to run a scan for missing songs. All albums that have been identified in the second step will be scanned for missing songs. This is done by comparing the information from the MusicBranz music database with the existing tracks on the computer.

A report is generated and displayed in a popup window. Here you find information about the albums, artists and song titles that are missing.

The report is available as a HTML or CSV version, which can be both saved to the local directory. With those information at hand, it is now possible to obtain the missing songs to complete the music library on your computer.

The application is available for Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh and Linux.

Sony Details PlayStation Network Revival

Logo of the PlayStation NetworkWithin a week Sony will turn on most features of the PlayStation Network and offer its customers a selection of free downloads.

The PlayStation maker’s online service for its PlayStation 3 and PSP consoles will come back online this week following a massive security breach in which the personal information of over 70 million accounts, possibly including credit card numbers, was obtained by hackers.

Here's what's going to be coming back, as well as details on the new security measures that they hope will prevent events like this from happening again:
  • Restoration of Online game-play across the PlayStation®3 (PS3) and PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) systems
    -This includes titles requiring online verification and downloaded games
  • Access to Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity for PS3/PSP for existing subscribers
  • Access to account management and password reset
  • Access to download un-expired Movie Rentals on PS3, PSP and MediaGo
  • PlayStation®Home
  • Friends List
  • Chat Functionality
  • Added automated software monitoring and configuration management to help defend against new attacks
  • Enhanced levels of data protection and encryption
  • Enhanced ability to detect software intrusions within the network, unauthorized access and unusual activity patterns
  • Implementation of additional firewalls

All PlayStation 3 owners will have to download a system update and change their passwords before they will be allowed to sign in to the service again; all password changes must take place on the PlayStation 3 console on which the password was originally registered. This, says Sony, is an additional security

Sony has issued a press release read it here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Anonymous targets Iran with DoS attack

The hacker group Anonymous says its next target is Iran.

According to their latest online proclamation, members of the loosely organized group are planning  an attack designed to shut down Iranian Web sites beginning Sunday.

The "Operation Iran" seemed to already have begun late today with Web page defacements ostensibly targeted at Iranian hackers.
Anonymous left messages on several Web sites that had allegedly been previously attacked by the Iranian Cyber Army, including the site of a Canadian information systems firm and the site of a Ukrainian dancing group, according to an observer on an Anonymous Internet Relay Chat channel that members use to coordinate their operations.

"The people of Iran have the admiration of Anonymous, and the entire world," the statement says. "We can see that Iran still suffers at the hands of those in power. Your former government has seized control, and tries to silence you. People of Iran your rights belong to you."

Anonymous is known for its renegade cyberattacks in defense of perceived underdogs or to support freedom of expression or other anti-establishment causes.

Earlier this month, Anonymous targeted Sony in protest of the company's treatment of Sony PlayStation hacker George Hotz. Hotz and Sony have since settled the lawsuit Sony filed, and Anonymous has denied any involvement in a recent serious breach that exposed information of millions of Sony PlayStation Network customers.

In defense of WikiLeaks, the group targeted PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, and other companies late last year that had stopped enabling WikiLeaks to receive contributions.

Other Anonymous targets have been: Broadcast Music Inc., the Church of Scientology; the governments of Egypt, Iran, and Sweden; the Westboro Baptist Church; conservative activist billionaires Charles and David Koch and their companies; as well as security firm HBGary Federal, which had reportedly been working with the FBI to identify the leaders of Anonymous.

But everyone knows there's no leaders