This Hacker Life!

We are, or more accurately, are compelled to becoming tach savvy to the point where we are becoming regular hackers. No, I do not mean hacking small everyday DIY stuff, like they teach at Lifehacker. I mean to hack into your gadgets to make it do things it wasn’t originally meant to, to build smart gadgets & robots with a $25 ARM Linux box computer, to use virtual currency that’s decentralized and encrypted, to go on networks that provide anonymous, untraceable exploration and communication – and the sorts.

Jailbreaking, rooting and hacking your devices has become so commonplace that often the choice of hardware depends on the ease of figuratively prying it open and gaining capabilities that are beyond the ‘official’ technical specs or above the approved apps list, be it your smartphone, your game console, your set-top box or even all combinations thereof.

The ubiquitous and ingenious Raspberry Pi is making its way into our lives in the forms of DIY projects, Kickstarter initiatives and children’s essential learning tools. And it is not just limited to scientists, programmers, instructors and geeks, but a slew of enthusiasts are using the Pi to fabricate everything from smart toys to supercomputers and cloud infrastructure. Continue reading →

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Pirates and their Servers in the Sky

The Pirate Bay, the hugely popular BitTorrent tracker site based out of Sweden (effectively, the world’s largest file sharing site), is planning to “send out some small drones”  to float servers “some kilometers up in the air”, in an attempt to avoid jurisdiction over copyright infringement and to evade law enforcement on land.

Their idea involves sending unmanned Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) into airspace miles above ground, aided by the growing availability of cheap radio equipment and tiny computers. These floating servers will be connected to via radio transmitters at potential speeds of (according to The Pirate Bay) 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. Moreover, for law enforcers planning to crackdown, the servers “will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.”

As a Business Insider article points out, the well-hidden servers,whose locations are known only to the site’s administrators, may end up violating air traffic rules and be easily brought down by the militaries’ own Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the technical name for ‘drones’. The premature/ unrealistic plans are, nonetheless, an indication of the direction the technology of cyber piracy is taking. Soon, as The Pirate Bay puts it, “when time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy, being true to our slogan of being the galaxy’s most resilient system.”

I Can Do Science, Me!

Now you can do your bit for science. You can put your idle computing power to good use by being part of Internet-connected distributed processing systems that run on volunteered home computers and harness their processing power to conduct large-scale analyses of data.

Recently, the Large Hadron Collider team at Centre for European Nuclear Research (CERN) announced the LHC@home 2.0 project, to tap into the collective computing power of the public to help simulate particle physics experiments. Among other pursuits, the project could help find an immensely important particle, the Higgs boson.

Continue reading →

The “IE User Low IQ Study” Hoax and the “Creation” of News

You may have read about it and even posted it on social networks and media – “Users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web Browser have a Lower-than-average IQ”. This has turned out to be a hoax.

A website called AptiQuant.com published a report on how a study has revealed that IE users have lower-than-average IQ. This, quite understandably, enraged numerous IE users, and hate mail & threats of litigation against AptiQuant followed.

Later, uncanny similarities between AptiQuant.com and CentralTest.co.uk sites were discovered, which led to the veracity of the study and the site itself being questioned. Eventually, the site admitted to the hoax, and apologized to CentralTest for using their website materials, including the same “Our Team” people with different, imaginary names!

Continue reading →

Aliyun OS – New Kid on the OS Block

Global e-commerce giant Alibaba has just unveiled its new mobile device operating system – Aliyun OS. It has been developed by Alibaba Cloud Computing, a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group. It has been introduced as a cloud-based operating system, featuring cloud services including e-mail, Internet search, weather updates, mapping & GPS navigation tools.

The cloud OS provides support for web-based apps as well, offering users an Internet-like experience that do not require the user to download or install application software on their mobile devices. Cloud OS users will be able to synchronize, store and back-up data such as contact information, call logs, text messages, notes and photos to the cloud and also access & update this data across all their PC and mobile devices.

Continue reading →

Our Brains & Google

I’m pretty sure most of you have already read this piece on how our memory is adapting to technology as we tend to remember things that we believe will not be readily available on the ubiquitous Net and tend not store in memory, stuff we know will be readily accessible.

However, the argument seems an extension/ reinforcement of this piece from back in 2007, where the author discusses our reliance on external memory, namely the Net. His article differs from this other author’s article, in that the former actually likes it, while the latter finds it disconcerting, even damaging. In fact, the last article goes on to talk about other side effects, including our diminishing attention span.

Where do I stand? I kind of agree with the notion that the Net is making us too reliant on the “wired word”; I’d rather we stored more in our brains, actual stuff, not just info on where would be able to find that actual stuff! I just think it’d keep our brains sharp.

Did I remember reading all these articles? Nah! I just googled them. :)