There have been great hopes that a carbon nanotube cable could be used to create a space elevator, providing easy access to orbit. According to recent research, however, that may not be possible for the foreseeable future. Even atomic-level defects in the nanotube will greatly reduce its strength, and current mass manufacturing techniques are quite error-prone.
It’s now possible to set up a closed social network, a la Facebook, for a limited group of users such as a company. Sort of like how some companies have a private internet (called an intranet), they can have a private Facebook (called an enterprise social network). You get the benefits of collaboration, networking, custom business apps, etc. It’s sort of like what Lotus Notes did back in the day.
Enterprise social netowrking is not hypothetical—the linked article discusses how the Royal Bank of Scotland is deploying Facebook at Work for 100,000 employees. And most notably, it’s an opportunity for Facebook to make money selling a product, versus selling advertisements.
My primary hard drive died, and I decided to replace it with an SSD to help speed up my system. When I tried to install Windows 7 on the new drive, however, I kept getting this error message: “Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.” (<RANT>And just WHERE would these log files BE?!?</RANT>) Most of the “solutions” on the web dealt with correctly configuring the disk partition. I had used the Windows installer to set up the partition, but just to make sure, I booted into Linux and set the boot flag for the partition. Didn’t work. So I used DiskPart from the Windows recovery console. Didn’t work either.
Finally I came across an article that mentioned BIOS settings, and that did the trick. The SATA Mode (that’s what it’s called in my setup program but it varies) was set to IDE and needed to be AHCI. After making that change the install went smoothly. The article also said that you should not use Intel® Smart Response Technology, which is another BIOS option.
Since Windows 10 was released with its free upgrade offer, I’ve been telling people to delay upgrading until after the first major update—which will happen sometime in the next week or so. It’s pretty much a no-brainer to take advantage of the free upgrade, and most of the major issues should be ironed out after this update, so I say “go for it.”
In a move that is long overdue, Microsoft has added a “printer” to Windows 10 that will generate a PDF file of what you’re printing. It will show up in your printer list, just like the XPS Document Writer has for all those years, but this will be much more useful.
This one is absolutely mind-numbing in the amount of stupidity shown. A man burglarized a house, used the victim’s computer to log in to Facebook, and didn’t log out. The homeowner posted his phone number on the burglar’s Facebook page, in the hopes that someone who knew the burglar would contact him. Instead, the burglar himself texted the homeowner and arranged to meet so he could pick up some clothing he’d left in the house. He actually showed up, so the homeowner called the police and the burglar was arrested.
Automated combat systems have long held a place in science fiction. Warfare turns into battles between machines, some directly controlled by human beings and some completely autonomous. We’ve all heard about the airplane drones that are seeing significant use in recent conflicts, but here’s something quite different. The US Navy is testing autonomous swarm boats. They’re small, unmanned boats that sense the environment and work together to achieve their objective. That may be to protect a particular ship, attack a target, etc. It’s quite interesting. Note, however, that the Navy doesn’t allow the swarm boats to utilize their weapons unless there is a human being on board. The linked video explains in more detail.
Microsoft has announced Windows 10. (What happened to Windows 9 you may ask — who knows?) Details are sparse, but they did say that it will run on all devices a la Windows 8, but will configure itself for the device type. So PC users will see a Windows 7 interface while phone users will get a start screen with tiles. Also, there will be a single app store with apps that run on all platforms and devices. Sounds like they learned from Windows 8.
Recently I’ve been hearing about government support for remote kill switches, say in automobiles for law enforcement use, or in cell phones for when they’re stolen. And my first thought is always that some hacker is going to find a way to trigger the switch and cause all kinds of problems.
Apparently the hackers had the same thought. The linked article covers a situation where stolen iCloud credentials were used to lock out iPhones via the “Find My iPhone” anti-theft feature.
Astute Chad’s News readers will have already heard about the Heartbleed vulnerability, but it’s something we all need to be aware of. Fortunately, xkcd has the best explanation I’ve seen to date. If you manage or own a website that uses SSL certificates for secure HTTPS connections, the linked page will check to see if your site is vulnerable.
You can also use it to verify websites that you visit, to make sure they aren’t open to Heartbleed attacks. Major sites have already patched their systems and installed new SSL certificates, so I’m thinking the real concern is the smaller e-commerce sites. (Note: If you use this tool to verify a site, do it before you open the site in your browser.)
Here at Chad’s News, we’ve previously mentioned Tor, a network used for anonymous communication on the internet. Volunteers host Tor servers, and a user’s internet traffic is routed through those servers, thus disguising the actual location of the sender. (NOTE: Never, ever, ever host a Tor server on a computer that you wouldn’t want confiscated by law enforcement.) Tor has been touted as a great method for political dissidents, whistle-blowers, and others to confidentially send information via the internet without being identified. Of course, it’s also used for illegal traffic.
The linked article discusses a paper [PDF] (Users Get Routed: Traffic Correlation on Tor by Realistic Adversaries, lead author Aaron Johnson of the US Naval Research Laboratory) that comes to some startling conclusions about Tor anonymity. If someone uses Tor regularly, an adversary with significant resources (e.g., a government) has a high chance (80% to 95%) of successfully tracing that user over a period of 3 to 6 months.
Here at Chad’s News, we’ve previously discussed the issues involved in securely wiping files stored on a solid-state drive (SSD). The linked article summarizes another, more recent study on the topic that pretty much says the same thing: the only way to ensure that you’ve securely wiped an SSD is to physically destroy the hard drive. Other methods may work, but they are not universally reliable.