Clueless Microsoft and Windows 7

9 01 2009

Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 Windows 7 … everybody’s been talking about Windows 7 ever since Vista was unveiled and now that we have a pure unadulterated fully functioning officially stamped version out, it’s NOT even available.

They say “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings!” and sing she did. Well this would be in reference to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer making a big ballyhoo about the official beta release of Microsoft over at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Vegas.

Most of the reviews on MSW7 are indeed positive but how can the masses get a taste of it if the frigging server‘s down?

“Thanks for your interest in the Windows 7 Beta. The volume has been phenomenal — we’re in the process of adding more servers to handle the demand. We’re sorry for the delay and we’ll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience.”

The sensible thing for them to do is to host Windows 7 Beta (Build 7000) as a torrent lessening the impact on their servers. Eventually, Microsoft could just limit the bandwidth on their servers making the other users handle the majority of the load. Now we’re stuck guessing which one of the available torrents are the official build and not one of those malware infested ISO files. Maybe I should stop complaining because this was made free to the public but what’s a free product if the execution isn’t done right.

EDIT 2009-01-12: The servers aren’t shut down anymore and Win7 looks meh. Better than Vista … for now.





Get taxed to drive?

4 01 2009

I know it’s been a while since I last posted and this post has very little to do with tech *cough-GPS-cough* but here’s an article from Autoblog that has got my blood boiling:

Oregon ran a pilot program in 2006 and 2007 that fitted 300 cars with GPS receivers, which kept track of the cars’ mileage. The receivers also kept records of when the cars were on the road, noting whether they traveled during rush hour or not. When the drivers went to several specially-equipped gas stations, they paid a mileage tax based on how far they had driven and when they drove, rush hour being more expensive than the wee hours.

Taxing mileage — as opposed to trying to raise fuel taxes — is an idea that’s not only raising eyebrows, it’s also raising interest. Seven other states are reported to be interested in finding a publicly-palatable way to tax mileage. A panel in North Carolina even recommended that drivers be charged a quarter-cent-per-mile for their year’s driving. In such a scenario, after 15,000 miles you’d owe the state $37.50.

GPS? The hell were they thinking? I understand states are losing revenues they normally would been counting on from gas tax but going the extreme route of charging by the distance traveled is a bit too much on the big brother side. When gas prices were this low 3 years ago, how were the states making money then? If people drove less, it would mean less stress on the roads which would also mean that there would be less maintenance required. Sleazy politicians always trying to find ways to tax the citizens to bring out short-term solutions for their own work performance shortcomings.

At this rate, small towns will be affected even more so. A lot of people commute to and from work from small towns or suburbs which would lead to some of them moving into the already crowded cities to avoid the “mile tax” or “toll booths”. I hate you Lou Dobbs because all you’ve been saying the past 5 or 6 years of your CNN existence has been about “heartland” and “illegal immigration” but now it’s about time you use your clout to stuff your big head into the courtrooms about those governments and do something good for once.





WRC loses Subaru

17 12 2008

You know things aren’t going the greatest when companies like Microsoft and Google put on hiring freezes, Yahoo! goes on a firing spree, electronics giant Best Buy making moves to reduce staff, folks out at Target Corp getting the chop, and every other person is out there job hunting because of this economic downturn. To make matters worse, credit card companies like American Express began lowering or freezing borrowing from their valued customers making matters worse for those looking to invest. Even my favorite blog site, The Consumerist, has fallen under hard times and is up for sale. You can tell times are bad cuz their ads are so big, they cover blog post titles.

And thereby, we can claim that the economy is just as miserable as the weather is right here in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, this trickle down effect has now hit the world of auto sports breaking the seemingly life-long bond between Subaru and the World Rally Championship. Without going into details, a statement from the parent company Fuji Heavy Industries (owned by Toyota) revealed that (Subaru) has officially pulled out of the 2009 WRC campaign. The economy could be one of the bigger reasons behind this decision but irrespective of the cause, it’s a sad day to see an icon like Subaru divest itself off of the rally championships. This from a company that made a name for itself by designing passenger vehicles from all of their testing and experience in the World Rally Championships. Truly a shocker!

All we have are memories…





The all new 2009 Mazda6 hiding at dealer lots?

17 06 2008

Despite not being released out for sale, you might be lucky enough to spot the newly redesigned 2009 Mazda6 plying on the roads out to nearby dealerships. Just last Friday, saw one of those beauties heading out west (NW) on MN-55 (aka Olson Memorial Hwy) in Minneapolis while on my way to work at like 8:15AM. The car took a left (west) on CR-6 possibly to take a left on Xenium Ln and get back on 394W where 2 Mazda dealerships lie close.

It just stood out very clear from the Camrys, Accords, and Passats with the swooping lines and the heavily accentuated wheel arcs jutting out in a muscular sporty way. I thought it was strange body-kit on an RX-8 from the rear until I got closer and realized it was a 4-door 6. The headlights were unmistakable and so was the overall design. In terms of looks alone, this is a must-have. Sorry Accord. You’re upscale but if the girlfriend thinks you’re “boring” everything I point you out enthusiastically, you have no chance.

Obviously, the plan is that the dealers get peeks at the new Mazda6’s in person to get the extra push to sell off all of their remaining rather plain looking current generation 6. No wonder you see Mazda putting them on the ads on tv every day.

Update: Pictures of the new and unreleased Mazda 6 out in the open, courtesy of Autoblog.





The future Honda/Acura NSX?

22 05 2008

Arguably the world’s first and only true exotic supercar from the land of the rising sun, Honda’s NS-X (Acura in the USA) was a pillar of marvel for automobile designers with it’s light-weight aluminum frame molded into a sleek aerodynamic design. The low-slung mid-engined beauty ran on it’s rear wheels and could out-handle it’s European counterparts from marques like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche.

Unfortunately for Honda, manufacturers and fans of the established exotic sports cars refused to accept the NSX because of the rather anemic V-6 powerplant and the fact that it wasn’t from Europe. Regardless, there is no doubt that it’s design was years ahead of it’s competition back when it first came out in 1990 and Honda is aiming to try and make another home-run.

Honda’s HSC (probably stood for Honda Sports Concept) made the fans somewhat happy but the boring and derivative design wasn’t NSX which is why it was replaced by the equally boring “Advanced Sports Car” concept. This time, it’s going to be front-engined on a rear-wheel drive setup which could alter the balance the previous iteration had achieved.

I must say it looks ugly as f*ck and a lot of enthusiasts expressed similar thoughts when this car debuted last year at NAIAS (North American International Auto Show). Almost Chevy Corvette like and somewhat bland to the eye so I used some quick Photochop to make it once again a mid-engined supercar that it should be.

Didn’t know how to fix the headlights but that’s just my interpretation of the direction Honda should be taking. I know Honda went back to the drawing board after a huge negative reception for the ASC design but would love it if they could take cues from what I have above or at the least, bring back a mid-engined supercar.





Two Minutes to Midnight for Servers

21 05 2008

PDOS (Phlashing/Permanent Denial of Service) attacks have now entered the mainstream world. An article on Hackaday reveals this accidental discovery and the same stuff is also reported on Engadget. Although this isn’t anything new and it’s hard to execute remotely, it’s completely possible due to the pervasive nature of technology in our lives today. A standard DDoS (Denial of Service) attack shuts down websites or slows down your computer’s processes or network capabilities. The means are usually achieved by overflooding key components (CPU/RAM/etc) with large swaths of packets (data). They can also trigger recursive functions on older systems to cause a stack overflow without having to eat up bandwidth space on the network.

The vulnerability: Many devices nowadays allow for their firmwares to be updated from your couches. You no longer have to mail it to a service center or worse, buy an entirely new product for an updated software. Your Palm Pilots, phones (smart phones like Windows Mobile and Symbian devices), routers, etc are some more common instances. This procedure is known as “flashing” and is risky because if the update isn’t done right or if there is a hiccup on the network, it’s going to “brick” your device.

What do you mean by “brick”: When your electronic device is only as useful as a brick.

Why do you need to run firmware updates: Firmware updates are constantly provided by manufacturers to enhance your product’s usability and functions. They could affect anything from the user-interface to the support of additional hardware, new added functions, or provide greater efficiency and addressing bugs. Certain software might only work if you your firmware is at or greater than a certain level.

What PDOS does: Writes a corrupt firmware to complete the transformation of your device into the afore mentioned construction product. Owners of convergence devices (smart phones) need to remember to completely back up their data before flashing as we all know the risks involved.

How to prevent it: You would need to disable remote firmware updates. That option should be listed somewhere in the device’s settings section and if it’s not there, look up in the manuals because it should be. Other ways are to secure your routers and the use of strong passwords.





Cloverfield – the movie review

14 01 2008

On January 14th, SOMETHING HAS ARRIVED – the movie details revealed.

Only just over 3 days left before this JJ Abrams monster movie is out in theaters but doesn’t hurt to write about it. Alright this isn’t exactly the review but an “alleged review” by a screener so this MAY or MAY NOT be a SPOILER. Continue reading ONLY if you do not care. One thing that needs to be cleared up is that the fictitious Japanese soda Slusho (slusho.jp) DOES have a role in the movie but not quite as much. Also, this movie is NOT about the Chtulu  or Cthulu or Godzilla or some other existing monster as I’d previously blogged about.

WARNING – READ BELOW – POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!!!

So here’s what happens in the movie. This Japanese company Tagruato (maker of Slusho) is involved in deep sea mining and exploration and at the same time trying to promote a new drink in the US. The main character “Rob” as seen in the trailers gets tricked into thinking his friends hooked him up with a surprise going-away party but in reality, it was a Slusho presentation for Rob who’s chosen as one of the top persons to market the drink. Mind you that this whole thing is going on in New York City. Of course. Where else would all this kinda destruction take place. And most important, the camera dude is Hud, buddy of Rob.

Something that might not be shown in the movie are Slusho underwater vehicles awakening the Cloverfield sea monster possibly using explosives etc causing the creature to surface. I figured this out from the movie screener review where a news reporter asks for a comment from our very own Rob for the deep-sea explorations by Tagruato which maybe hazardous. According to the director, JJ Abrams, in this excerpt from an interview, “He’s a baby. He’s brand-new. He’s confused, disoriented and irritable. And he’s been down there in the water for thousands and thousands of years.” That’s what comes out of the waters.

Now the whole movie is pretty much with Rob trying to find his girl Beth. But before all that, when the monster first strikes the area, some chick going by the name of Jamie, self-proclaimed hottie, who turns into the most annoying character since Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars Episode I, gets killed when the giant head of the Statue of Liberty crashes down on her cab. There’s a lot of 9-11 like images in the footage taken from a portable camcorder.

Description of the creature – Many internet sources have varying descriptions but most of them go with the “scaly humanoid” face and “red eyes” while some report a whale-like head as shown in the above fan-art. The front limbs are like inverted crab arms/legs. The size of this monster is ginormous and when it brushes past the buildings, thousands of parasitic creatures fall out.

Back to the movie. So Beth is apparently trapped under the rubble of a collapsed structure. Cops are running helter skelter and when one of them radios in to help out a victim, a car falls smack squarley on him. Meanwhile, this female cast Marlena was one of the few who actually drank a Slusho right during the party in the beginning. She gets visibly sicker as the movie progresses and then physically explodes. Out of her body comes out some nasty looking creature that goes out on a human feeding frenzy. She gets shot multiple times.

While Rob and his buddy Hud are in the subway talking, Hud says “Rob, I’ve seen it… Rob, it’s a loss.” contrary to what we thought we heard in the trailers where it sounded more like “it’s alive.” Then a loud crash and the monster is dead. WOW. A close-up of the face reveals our description.

Then people from the party who drank the Slusho drink are now bleeding from their eyes and their bodies are expanding. Some blow up with blood-thirsty creatures jumping out. So Rob outlives Hud and video records the whole incident. Cops in helicopters come swirling down rescuing as many survivors and as they’re lifting off, a loud explosion goes off. The creature is back up and moving and attacks the choppers. “It looks possessed, angry, *beep* crazy. Its teeth look like machetes and its eyes are now a darker red than before.” Then the bridge gets destroyed and Beth and Rob run into Central Park and say their I love yous as the camera battery starts to beep due to low battery. The movie ending in the review is terrible. Supposedly, the last words of Rob while filming himself are, “My name is Robert Hawkings…” and then the monster’s crashing footsteps get closer and with Beth screaming in the background and all of a sudden, the battery is dead. The End.

Fak that shit. Well I only hope that was all just crap he posted and not the real thing. So far, it looks too close to what might be. JJ Abrams, tell me this ain’t true. Tell me please!