Blog Index for April 2017

Brickerbot, vigilante software aiming to kill malicious botnets by killing IoT devices

(April 24, 2017) The last few months has seen escalating botnet activity on the Internet. The botnet operators are targeting non-existent security in certain Internet of Things devices. Some devices, like wireless security cameras or baby monitors, are not only connected to the Internet, but have gaping security holes. Using those holes, botnet operators have ammassed vast flotillas of Internet devices that can be commanded to attack targets on the Internet. Last fall several attacks, larger than any previously seen, attacked several large sites and even brought down critical Internet infrastructure on a few instances. The Brickerbot appears to be a Botnet purposed with destroying those malicious botnets. One hopes the cure is better than the illness.

Lenovo Flex 11 / Yoga N23 Chromebook Unboxing

(April 20, 2017) The Lenovo Flex 11 is a new 11 inch-screen Chromebook with 4GB memory, 32GB storage. It has both USB-C and USB3, plus a full size HDMI output. The trackpad on the review unit has a little bit of travel before the click occurs. It has a Mediatek ARM processor, and gives a 9990 Octane score. Because the screen has fewer pixels than some other devices with the same processor, it's believed the Lenovo Flex 11 will perform better than the Acer R11. The price range is $230-270 and is a good value for that price, and should be very good around the home. Because it also has Lenovo Yoga branding, it has the hinges required for the screen to fold back allowing this device to act as a tablet computer.

The Real Reason We Never Hear From Monty Python Anymore

(April 20, 2017) Despite the impact Monty Python had on television and comedy, we don't hear much from them today. This video goes over the career progression of Monty Python members after the show closed down.

MQTT testing for IoT devices on the Raspberry Pi

(April 17, 2017) MQTT is a lightweight communications protocol meant for Internet of Things devices. It acts like a giant merry-go-round sending messages through a hierarchical structure of ports. It offers three levels of Quality of Service, from level 0 where messages can be lost, to level 2 where messages are held and resent if necessary. MQTT is easy to install on a Raspberry Pi or other Linux Single Board Computing device. MQTT itself is powerful, and the NODE RED platform (which is bundled in the Raspberry Pi) can make great use of MQTT and other facilities.

Protesting Trump from the edge of space, with a touch of Opera

(April 16, 2017) In what may be the first political protest from Space, the Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN) launched a balloon to near-earth orbit to send a message to the Trump Administration. Taking a cue from Astronaut Edgar Mitchel, who said 'From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter millions miles out and say: Look at that, you son of a bitch,' the message carried aloft by the balloon said exactly that. As in - Hey Trump, come up here and see what this planet really looks like, and what your actual responsibility is as a fellow human being.

British man invents a real-life Iron Man suit, and his name isn't Elon Musk

(April 15, 2017) Not many people would be brave enough to try this, so kudos to Richard Browning before we rip him for being so crazy. For the past 18 months he (an ex-Royal Marine) has been tinkering in his garage building a jet engine powered exoskeleton thingy. The video shows experiments with the machine, and that it is currently only useful for small hovering flights. The pilot steers it completely manually by moving arms and legs to direct the jet thrust. Which sounds cool, but also extremely dangerous at the same time.

Not even Darth Vader can get away with drinking and driving

(April 15, 2017) Recently Sith Lord Darth Vader was apprehended by Police in Mountain View while out on a mid-afternoon bender with an underage Storm Trooper. It's not known what furor will arise in the Imperial Senate, but the incident is proof that even Lord Vader is fallable. The ever-vigilant Mountain View were not swayed by his mind tricks.

Relive the glory days of Mac OS 7 on a Raspberry Pi

(April 12, 2017) Have fond memories of Mac OS 7 but unable to find an old Mac? With a simple Mac emulator, an inexpensive Raspberry Pi becomes a competent old-school Mac capable of running Mac OS 7. Oh, and all those old games. The video goes over what's involved, so have fun.

The 1972-era desktop sized iPod

(Tue Apr 11 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)) Who says that before the iPod we could play one song/album at a time? Cassette players held one tape, and at up to 120 minutes per tape that meant about 2 albums worth of music, after which you'd have to manually switch the tape. Oh the inhumanity of it all, having to walk across the room to switch tapes. With a record player, you could stack multiple records and it would play one after another. For the most part we were stuck playing one, or maybe two, albums at a time. And we walked uphill, both ways, through the snow, every day to school. Actually, ingenious engineers created wondrous mechanical gizmos for many purposes, including this cassette-tape carousel. It held up to 20 cassette tapes, could play one at a time, or could play a programmed sequence, for up to 2 1/2 days of continuous music. AND, it was built in 1972. I bet Steve Jobs was having fond memories of this cassette carousel when he inspired Apple to create the iPod.

Official entries in Eurovision 2017

(April 7, 2017) Eurovision 2017 is coming up in May. All the entries have been selected and contestants are probably practicing and practicing to get ready. While there is an unwanted political kerfluffle between Ukraine (the host country) and Russia, we're looking forward to the contest. What's below are the official entries in the order listed on the eurovision.tv website. Curiously they're not listed in alphabetical order. Instead the ordering is, the first 18 are the running order of the First Semi-Final, the next 19 are the running order of the Second Semi-Final, and the last 6 are the countries which are pre-approved for Eurovision and are not required to participate in Semi-Finals.

US House votes to roll back internet privacy rules, Trump signed it into law

(April 3, 2017) Last week the US Congress voted to overturn Internet Privacy rules that had been enacted by the Obama Administration. As a result, the telephone companies and other Internet Service Providers will be able to sell our Internet browsing history and other private information to 'advertisers'.

Introducing Google Gnome (4/1/2017)

(April 1, 2017) After Google's success with the Google Home AI robot, Google is taking it a step further. The Google Gnome is designed to be used outdoors to finally implement the Smart Yard. Its functionality covers outdoors activities in the yard like turning the lawn hose on and off, or telling you wind direction and speed. The smart yard has finally arrived -- Meet Google Gnome. See how Gnome can transform your yard.