Is The Evil Empire of M$ really “Big Brother?”

Well, it IS Microsoft, after all!

A note from Modis:

Xbox One’s Most Disturbing Feature

The Xbox One’s Kinect sensor has a lot of disturbing ideas going for it if you ask the general public, but not if you ask Microsoft. It can track every move in your living room, and it plans to reward you with achievements for sitting through commercials. More ominously, the Kinect may be configured to track the viewing behaviors of multiple users. This means that Microsoft will be gathering data about everyone that uses your Kinect to watch television or movies, sending it back for analysis without your consent. They claim that the rewards for sitting through commercials will be avatar customization, digital gifts, or Xbox points, but are these ‘perks’ really worth the invasion of privacy the Kinect poses? Time will tell if these features make it into the final build of the Xbox One.”

Hot, New NVIDIA GPU Series Announced!

NVIDIA 700m SeriesLooks very, very good to me!

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 700M Series Launched

From AnandTech: “At the beginning of April, Jarred walked us through the refresh of the bottom two-thirds of NVIDIA’s 700M series of GeForce GPUs, all under the GeForce GT heading. We still didn’t have any idea what their solutions at the top end would be, though. Today we have those details with the launch of the GTX 700M series.

(I omitted the table they refer to, check out their site for all the specs!)

NVIDIA has made some incredibly impressive gains in potential performance with the GTX 700M series. Core clocks are up across the board, memory clocks even more so, and NVIDIA is bringing GPU Boost 2.0 to the table with all of these parts to allow as much as 15% higher clocks during gaming. Unfortunately I don’t quite have all the benchmark results available yet for the new 780M to compare against the outgoing 680M, but you’ll be able to see them in a full review in not too long.

As far as specs go, the big jumps are easily visible in the above table. At the top, GTX 780M gets 14% more shaders than GTX 680M, courtesy of the full GK104 chip, but it also gets a base clock that’s at least 14% higher, giving a theoretical performance increase of 30%. The memory clock receives a similar increase, this time to the tune of 39%, so we should definitely see a large jump in performance at the top of the product stack.

Stepping down to the GTX 770M, the changes are a bit more difficult to guage. We have the same number of cores as the GTX 675MX at a higher clock, giving 35% more compute power, but memory bandwidth has dropped 17% thanks to the 192-bit bus. In situations where games are compute constrained, we’ll see much improved performance, but bandwidth hungry games may end up slower. We see a similar situation with the GTX 765M vs. the GTX 670MX, with a 128-bit bus on the new model and fewer cores at higher clocks. On paper, the GTX 765M has 13% more compute and 5% less bandwidth than the 670MX.

Rounding things out, at the bottom we finally have an x60M part that’s worthy of the GTX designation. The GTX 660M was really just a moderate clock speed increase over the GT 650M. This time, the GTX 760M gets twice as many cores as the GT 750M, and while clock speeds are slightly lower it should still result in compute performance that’s 35% higher than the closest non-GTX part; the GTX 760M also has 57% more compute than the previous GTX 660M. The bandwidth story is a bit more difficult to call, with an effective 64GB/s behind the GPU core; the GTX 660M had 4GHz GDDR5 as well, but 750M comes with up to 5GHz GDDR5. Sigh. Can’t we get rid of the give and take for a change and have a clear winner? At least there are no DDR3 options listed for the GTX parts, but that’s been the case for a few generations now.

We can’t talk about Haswell yet, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer for our first GTX 780M notebook review, but overall we’re looking at some relatively sizeable gains over the 600M, with GPU Boost 2.0 potentially increasing the performance even more. Considering Intel’s GT3e parts are expected to at least flirt with GT 650M levels of performance (depending on the game and at substantially lower power draws), this sort of performance upgrade isn’t particularly surprising. Now we just need to wait for hardware to start shipping.”

Have We Won? Is Windows Now an “Also-Ran?”

The headline below has been a “dream headline” of mine for a LONG time! I am not sure I can honestly agree that it is 100% true, but I get where he’s coming from! Now, we just need to get everyone using Linux on real desktop PCs! Ya-ha-ha! (Evil laugh.)

Ubuntu declares bug #1 — ‘Microsoft has a majority market share’ — closed

From ZDnet: “Give major Linux company Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth credit for chutzpah. In the Ubuntu bug-tracking system, LaunchPad, he just announced that bug number one ‘is now closed.’ The bug, which dates from Ubuntu’s first days in 2004, was: ‘Microsoft has a majority market share.’

While Ubuntu has been part of the various factors that have cut Windows down to size, Shuttleworth largely credits the growth of smartphones and tablets for Windows’ comeuppance. ‘Personal computing today is a broader proposition than it was in 2004: phones, tablets, wearables and other devices are all part of the mix for our digital lives. From a competitive perspective, that broader market has healthy competition, with iOS and Android representing a meaningful share.’

He’s not the only one who’s noticed that Windows and Intel (Wintel) are no longer calling the shots in computing. Mary Meeker, former superstar Wall Street analys, and now a well-respected venture capitalist, shows in her latest Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ 2013 Internet Trends report that Apple iOS and Android now has the lion’s share of computing devices with 65 percent running one of these operating systems over Windows’ 35 percent.

True, Shuttleworth continued, ‘Android may not be my or your first choice of Linux, but it is without doubt an open source platform that offers both practical and economic benefits to users and industry.’ Considering that Canonical is positioning Ubuntu to be an Android rival in smartphones and tablets, it’s an interesting comment.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Shuttleworth lets go so easily of the old Linux vs. Windows fan-boy fight. Sure, bug number one, which set Windows as Ubuntu’s top enemy, ‘served for many as a sort of declaration of intent. But it’s better for us to focus our intent on excellence in our own right, rather than our impact on someone else’s product.’

Indeed, after noting Ubuntu’s cloud efforts, Shuttleworth wrote, ‘the Microsoft IAAS [Infrastructure as a Service] team are both technically excellent and very focused on having ALL OS’s including Linux guests like Ubuntu run extremely well on Azure, making them a pleasure to work with. Perhaps the market shift has played a role in that. Circumstances have changed, institutions have adapted, so should we.’

Yes, you read that right. Shuttleworth, a top business Linux leader, praised Microsoft for its support of Linux. Things have changed!”

Geek Software of the Week: Synergy!

Synergy FOSS IP-based KVM!Awesome, awesome, awesome! Yep, that’s what I think of this GSotW! It is the perfect fit for my situation at work! I plan to show you via video just what I mean on this Saturday’s Dr. Bill.TV show! This is just “TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL!” A friend of mine at work showed me this, and it totally rocks! IP-based, yet fully encrypted, so no one can snoop on your keystrokes… nice!

Synergy – Free and Open Source IP-based KVM!

“As a platform for software based input sharing, Synergy currently requires the use of locally connected displays. This means that each physical (not locally virtualized) member of the Synergy network requires the desk space of at least one monitor. This limitation can be overcome by some method of switching the input being given to a display. In general, this would be done manually, with either a physical input switcher or the monitor’s built in controls. However, hardware switches can be clunky and expensive, and reaching out to navigate your monitor’s menus every minute can be frustrating.

  • Supported on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
  • Simply move your mouse to any computer and start typing.
  • Copy and paste between all of your computers.
  • Encryption keeps sensitive data safe on public networks.
  • Save space on your desktop by using one keyboard and mouse.
  • All you need is a network connection (no extra cables).
  • Synergy is free and open source, and always will be!”

(Guess what? I found out that this has already been a GSotW long (09/18/2008) ago, but it has improved so much, it is almost a new app anyway… so there you go!)

Luddite’s Are Us? NOT!

Are you a luddite? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says a luddite is: “one who is opposed to, especially, technological change.” I suspect that is not true of our audience! But, there are a lot of them out there!

12 Obsolete Technologies Americans Still Use

From Live Science: “In my apartment, the cordless phone sits right next to the 2,400 baud modem … in my drawer of outdated gadgets. My last VCR sits at the bottom of a landfill, buried right next to my VHS copy of ‘Y2K: The Movie.’ But for some consumers right here in America, ancient technologies are still a part of everyday life as they continue to buy brand-new cassette tapes, subscribe to dial-up Internet and make calls from a pay phone.

‘It can take a surprisingly long time for technologies to really fall by the wayside,’ Steve Koenig, head of Industry Analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, told me. A CEA study indicates that only 13 to 15 percent of consumers are early adopters, while more than 60 percent are content to wait a long time before upgrading to newer and better technologies. Whatever the underlying reasons, these 12 timed-out technologies just refuse to die.

1. Dial-Up Internet

The last time I had a dial-up account, I set it to download the Starr report. I said bye bye bye to Earthlink right after that and started getting jiggy with a broadband connection.

However, according to a December study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 4 percent of American adults still use a modem to get online. That’s more than 10 million people accessing the Web at 56.6 or slower speeds. Some of these folks are among the 6 percent of Americans who live in areas without broadband access, while others either can’t afford or are too cheap to pay for high-speed services.

2. Pagers

In the early 1990s, there was no greater status symbol than a pager. If you carried a beeper, that meant that, like a trauma surgeon or a Fortune 500 CEO, you were important enough to be reachable at all times. Within a few short years, cellphones replaced pagers because they let you send and receive calls and text messages directly, a huge improvement over running to the nearest phone to return a page.

Despite the huge popularity of mobile phones, there’s still an active market for pagers. According to the CEA, in 2012 Americans bought approximately $7 million worth of new pagers, somewhere under 10,000 units. If you want to be reachable, but not too reachable, pagers provide a built-in excuse for avoiding phone conversations.

You might imagine drug dealers, who are paranoid about wire taps, using pagers for illegal activities. However, many doctors and hospitals find pager networks more reliable, particularly in emergencies where cellular systems tend to go down

3. Dot Matrix Printers

Is that the sound of a printout I hear? Just let me grab my ream of green-and-white striped paper from the closet and we’re good to go. According to research firm NPD, Americans bought just less than 20,000 brand-new dot matrix printers in 2012. You can still find an entire channel on for dot matrix printers with pricing starting at a lofty $205, more than double the least expensive inkjet.

So why would anyone want to use the best printing technology of 1983 in 2013? Apparently, many point-of-sale, warehouse inventory and other business systems still require carbon copy and multipart forms that work only with the hard impact of a dot matrix printhead and its continuous tractor feed. And, really, who can blame businesses for not modernizing their processes to use inkjet, laser or thermal printing? They’ve only had a couple of decades to think about it.

4. PDAs

Oh, how I miss my old Palm Pilot. Sure, it was grayscale and I had learn the Graffiti alphabet to write on it, but it lasted forever on a charge and fit easily in my pocket. Later, I loved my Cassiopeia more, because it had a color screen. However, my love affair with PDAs came to an end when I got a smartphone that could not only keep my contacts and appointments, but also connect to the Internet from anywhere.

However, according to the CEA, last year there were 350,000 new PDAs sold in the U.S. Are there just a whole bunch of people pining for old-fashioned organizers? Not quite. CEA’s Steve Koenig told us that a number of vertical markets still use PDAs for data collection in places as diverse as warehouses and hospitals.

5. Pay Phones

Good news for costumed superheroes and Maroon 5 fans, the U.S. still has 305,000 working pay phones, according to the American Public Communications Council (Q3 2012 data). But those public handsets are not made for decoration. The APCC also estimates that people used those phones to place around 50 million calls in 2012.

Why would anyone need a pay phone in 2013? Low-income users who can’t afford a cellphone may need a pay phone to communicate from the road or, if they have no landline, to communicate at all. Users whose cellphones run out of juice or can’t get service rely on pay phones in a pinch. Still others may use these phones to remain anonymous when they call.

6. 13 Million Blank VHS and Cassette Tapes

These days you can download music or stream it from an online service. Or you could act like it’s 1985 and wait for your favorite songs to come on the radio so you can tape them. You can record TV for later viewing on a DVR, play it via on-demand cable or stream it from a service like Hulu. But, if you think DVRs are for wimps, you can still rough it with a VCR.

The CEA says that, in 2012, around 13 million blank cassettes and VHS tapes were sold in America. Though the association no longer tracks sales of new VCRs, you can still buy a DVD / VHS combo recorder such as the $149 Toshiba DVR620 and the $198 Magnavox DV225MG9. CEA doesn’t track cassette recorders anymore, but it reports that 15,000 cassette-based car stereos were sold in 2012, so the old-fashioned mix tape is alive and well.

7. Landline Phones

As of mid-2012, 34 percent of adults lived in homes that didn’t even have a landline, but that hasn’t stopped the remaining 66 percent from not only using their connections but also buying new hardware. According to CEA data, in 2012 Americans bought 5 million corded handsets and 21.5 million cordless models for a total of 26.5 million landline phones. No word on how many of them are shaped like footballs, hamburgers or mallard ducks.

8. CRT TVs

While many of us still have old-fashioned tube TVs at home, most electronics companies have stopped making them, and for good reason. Not only are tube TVs dated and ugly, but the effort of procuring the necessary parts, building new units and paying to ship these heavy devices overseas just isn’t worthwhile for manufacturers.

Despite the drawbacks, Americans bought 10,000 CRT TVs last year, according to NPD. Many of these sets are apparently targeted toward children. If you want your kids to suffer with low-definition broadcasts just like you did at their age, Disney currently sells a tube that looks like Lightning McQueen from the movie ‘Cars’ and another that’s pink-and-princess themed. There’s a Barbie tube too.

9. 35 Million Rolls of Film

These days, every cellphone comes with a camera, you can buy a point-and-shoot digital camera for under $100 and high-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras capture amazing photos. Considering that digital images appear instantly, you can edit and share them online or print them an infinite number of times without losing quality, there’s little reason to use an old-fashioned film camera.

However, there’s no stopping the Americans who, according to NPD, bought a mind-buckling 35 million rolls of film last year. Some of these folks are young hobbyists who like using lomo cameras and others just don’t want to part with their Polaroids.

10. Windows 98 and 2000

While most people drive modern cars with fuel injections, air bags and power steering, there’s always somebody who won’t part with their 1977 Honda Civic, no matter how poorly it runs on today’s highways. If it worked fine during the Carter administration, it should work fine today, right?

By the same token, Net Applications reports that 0.05 percent of U.S. PC users are still careening down the information superhighway in computers with Windows 98 or Windows 2000. The Computer Industry Almanac estimated that, in 2011, the U.S. had 311 million PCs in use. So you can figure that there are more than 150,000 people using an operating system from the last century.

11. Fax Machines

Fax machines became essential office devices in the 1970s, but 40 years later, with email, instant messaging and the ability to send fax transmissions by computer, there’s no need to own one. Still, standalone fax machines refuse to die, perhaps because businesses require signatures on contracts and it’s just too easy to grab a piece of paper, scribble on it and feed it through again.

According to NPD, Americans bought 350,000 fax machines in 2012, which was down 14 percent from 2011. That means more than 700,000 of them were sold in the last two years alone.

12. Vinyl Records

People were buying LPs back when Elvis first became popular, but vinyl records just won’t die. In fact, they’re making a comeback. Even though digital downloads and CDs are easier to use, more durable and hold a lot more music in a smaller space, some audiophiles just prefer the sound of vinyl.

After years in obscurity, the LP business is thriving again with more and more new albums coming out on the ancient media format, including the latest releases from Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Americans bought 4.6 million vinyl records in 2012, up 17.7 percent from the year before. While that’s a pittance compared to the 118 million digital albums sold last year, it’s not insignificant.”

New Version of Opera Browser Launches

I have Opera installed because I need to test web pages on every modern browser. It is nice, but I still use Chrome for most everything!

Opera Launches Chromium-Based ‘Next’ Browser for Windows, Mac

“Opera has totally revamped the desktop version of its browser, which is now available for trial on Windows and Mac.

The all-new browser, dubbed Opera Next 15, was built from scratch with a refreshed design and a slew of new features for a better browsing experience. Opera Next releases, formally known as beta versions, are updated every few weeks, and let you check out the latest enhancements to the browser.

Under the hood, Opera swapped out its own Presto rendering engine for the Chromium engine from Google, which should help webpages load faster ‘even in the toughest of network conditions,’ the Oslo, Norway-based browser maker said in a statement.

‘Completely rethinking a browser in today’s competitive market is a big thing,’ said Krystian Kolondra, Opera’s senior vice president of desktop products. ‘Our new browser is more beautiful and allows users to harness the massive amount of web content they are faced with today.’

Many of the new changes are in line with the browser’s recently released Android version.

For starters, the browser has a new user interface, which gives it a more sleek and modern look. In addition, you can now search directly from a newly combined address and search bar. Simply start typing a webpage address to go directly to a site, or enter a search term to look for suggestions.

The browser also boasts a new Discover feature, which serves up articles from around the Web based on categories you’re interested in — like news, food, and technology.

There’s another new feature called Stash, which lets you mark websites using a heart icon in the address bar. You can use this feature to easily compare items while shopping online, or keep travel research on hotels and flights handy, Opera said.

The popular shortcuts feature Speed Dial has also been revamped, and now allows bookmarks to be gathered in folders and easily filtered. Simply drag and drop one Speed Dial entry on top of another to create a folder, or use the new search field to find a specific webpage you saved.

Meanwhile, based on user feedback, Opera made its mail client a standalone offering so it takes up less memory and space in the browser itself. The company launched a new Opera Mail rerelease candidate, which brings changes to labeling, filtering, threads, and tabs for a ‘faster and sleeker than ever mail experience.'”

WordPress Celebrates 10 Years!

Happy Birthday to the Wordpres blogging platform! It is what all my blogs are based on!

WordPress Is Now 10 Years Old

“Ten years ago today, the first public release of WordPress became available. Initially started as a fork of the little-known blogging platform b2/Cafelog, WordPress has grown to be the largest CMS in the world, powering an astounding 18% of the web.

Nearly 70 million websites run WordPress and it’s hard to understate the impact that the software has had on the world of digital publishing. Hundreds of high-profile websites, including blogs from CNN, The New York Times and Reuters, all use WordPress. Mashable isn’t a pure WordPress site anymore, but we do use it as a place to enter content. Since 2004, I personally have published millions of words using WordPress, most of those on Mashable.

WordPress was started by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little and the open-source software has grown to include thousands of contributors. Automattic, the company behind and one of the biggest stewards in the development of the platform as a whole, announced last week that it had raised $50 million in a secondary stock transaction.

WordPress started as an easy, free way for users to publish their own content. If you had a web host that supported PHP and MySQL and you knew how to use FTP, getting WordPress installed took, famously, under five minutes. Today, most web hosts have one-click install buttons so that users don’t even have to bother with FTP. Hosted offerings from and others are also abundantly available.

Moreover, WordPress is no longer just about blogging or personal publishing. As recently as 2010, I was reticent to call WordPress a true CMS but that’s clearly no longer true. Full web applications are run on WordPress. Shopping cart systems, Twitter analytics services and even robust WordPress site management solutions can all be built on WordPress.

Plus, the larger ecosystem around WordPress — including plugins, themes, specialized hosting providers and custom solutions builders — is mammoth and still growing. Mullenweg told me earlier this year that his goal for WordPress is for it to be the “platform or operating system” for the web. That goal is coming closer to fruition with every passing month.”

Dr. Bill.TV #292 – Video – “The Cram It All In at the End Edition”

Linux Mint 15 is out! May 25th – Geek Pride Day, Copy: 15 Gig of FREE Cloud Storage, GSotW: Zentyal! Google plans to provide WiFi with blimps in developing countries, new Microsoft mouse with a Windows Start button, searching for megastructures in space!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

Blubrry Network

Zentyal – Linux-based FREE Small Business Server!

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

Available on YouTube at:

Available on Vimeo at:

Dr. Bill.TV #292 – Audio – “The Cram It All In at the End Edition”

Linux Mint 15 is out! May 25th – Geek Pride Day, Copy: 15 Gig of FREE Cloud Storage, GSotW: Zentyal! Google plans to provide WiFi with blimps in developing countries, new Microsoft mouse with a Windows Start button, searching for megastructures in space!

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

Blubrry Network

Zentyal – Linux-based FREE Small Business Server!

Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio

Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

Available on YouTube at:

Available on Vimeo at:

Gotta Love This! The Search for “DeathStar”-like Objects!

Dyson SphereIf the Emperor has one out there, we aim to find it! Or, Dyson spheres, or ringed systems, whatever!

Hunting for Alien Megastructures

“It’s a big galaxy out there. Even the most skeptical scientist has to accept that if a civilisation like our own exists, then there’s a good chance we’re not the only one to have ever done so. When most people think about SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intellgence), they imagine someone like Ellie Arroway searching the skies for radio transmissions. But what about looking in other ways? Perhaps a highly advanced alien civilisation might build structures large enough for us to see.
Vast structures, constructed on astronomical scales by advanced civilisations, is what the field of astroengineering is all about. This, admittedly, sounds audacious – and for the human race right now, it is. For us, astroengineering is still very much the realm of thought experiments, theoretical calculations, and science fiction. So it may be surprising to know that certain astronomers have made some quite serious attempts to look for astroengineered artifacts around other stars. With telescopes becoming ever more sensitive, and images being taken of exoplanets, the idea is starting to captivate imaginations once more.

“In 1960, Freeman Dyson published a paper entitled Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation. His suggestion was that any megastructure constructed around a star should show itself by emitting more infrared light than it should. The solution was, simply, to look for any sources of infrared which appeared artificial.

Dyson put forward the ideas that any potentially advanced civilisation may need a tremendous amount of power to sustain itself. A method he proposed was to build a vast array of satellites which would enclose an entire star to harvest its energy – a concept which later came to be known as a Dyson sphere. While the concept wasn’t taken too seriously by Dyson himself, it was a powerful enough notion that it garnered a lot of attention.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as looking for infrared light. Many stars, our own included, are surrounded by a disk of dust, and that dust emits plenty of infrared. To find a Dyson sphere, you need to look for a specific signature of infrared light, emitted at just the right set of wavelengths.
And that’s just what an ongoing project, headed by Dick Carrigan at Fermilab, has been doing. Astronomers regularly survey the sky to see what they might find, and Carrigan has been hunting through infrared data to search for Dyson spheres. To date, the project has a handful of candidates, but nothing definitive. Not yet.

But infrared isn’t the only way to spot Dyson spheres. In 2012 Geoff Marcy, an exoplanet researcher, was given a grant to hunt for evidence of Dyson spheres in data recorded by Kepler. In principle, any large artificial objects in orbit around other stars should be detectable in exactly the same way exoplanets are.”

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