Only in America: eBay Seller Sues Over Negative Feedback

April 17th, 2013

GavelSo you’re an eBay seller and have received negative feedback from a customer. You do what you can to resolve the problem, but the buyer refuses to remove the feedback. What can you do? Well, if you’re in the United States then you file a lawsuit. The seller, Med Express, is suing the the buyer, Amy Nicholls, for slander.

I’m on the buyer’s side, although I probably would have only given a “neutral” rating. Having to make a trip to the post office to pay postage due is a always a pain.

Link: http://arstechnica.com/…

Update (2013-04-19): Because of all the publicity, the lawsuit is being dropped. But research shows that Med Express has a history of doing this.

Uninstall Windows 7 Update #2823324

April 15th, 2013

Microsoft LogoIf you use Windows 7 and did last Tuesday’s Windows Update, there’s one particular update that’s causing some computers to not boot. So it needs to be uninstalled, even if it hasn’t caused any issues on your machine. Microsoft has published instructions on how to do that.

Link: http://arstechnica.com/…

An Astounding Number of Vulnerable Internet Devices

April 6th, 2013

Computer SecurityA computer researcher wanted to map all 3.6 billion of the Internet’s usable IPV4 IP addresses, to see which ones are actually being used and to determine where the devices are physically located. This would be quite a task for a single computer, so he created a botnet with 420,000 zombie devices to do the task for him. What I find most interesting, however, is how he managed to compromise those devices. He simply tried to connect to each one with the following four username/password combinations:

  • admin/admin
  • root/root
  • admin/(blank)
  • root/(blank)

No kidding. That’s all it took.

For the more technically minded, the paper says that “the vast majority of all unprotected devices are consumer routers or set-top boxes.” So just for kicks, I telneted to my router and found that the admin/admin combination worked. Fortunately it’s configured such that remote telnet is disabled—so I was not part of this experiment. The paper goes on to say that the 420,000 number is for the devices they turned into zombies, and that the actual number of vulnerable machines is about four times that many.

Link #1: http://www.techrepublic.com/…

Link #2 (research paper): http://internetcensus2012.bitbucket.org/…

Making Fuel From Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

April 6th, 2013

Recycle LogoResearchers at the University of Georgia have created genetically-modified bacteria that take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make carbohydrate chemicals. (Note that hydrogen gas was added for the experiment.) From the article: “We can take carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and turn it into useful products like fuels and chemicals without having to go through the inefficient process of growing plants and extracting sugars from biomass.”

I am a firm believer that technology can solve many of our problems. And this, should it prove to be economically viable in large scales, is a good example of just that.

Link: http://phys.org/news/…

Bitcoin Explained

April 4th, 2013

MoneyHere at Chad’s News we’ve previously discussed the bitcoin virtual currency. But the linked article is a good non-technical look at the currency, its history, and its current status.

Link: http://www.newyorker.com/…
(via Kim Komando)

Internet Withdrawal is Real

March 31st, 2013

InternetFrom the linked article: “The researchers found that people who habitually surf the Internet for long periods at a time suffer higher incidence of ‘negative moods’ after they stopped surfing, leading to addiction-like urge to return to the Web to alleviate or lift the negative mental states. The researchers warned that surfing the Internet for long stretches of time can result in withdrawal symptoms similar to those that drug abusers experience.”

Link: http://www.digitaljournal.com/…

It’s True — Dice Rolls Are Not Random, and Ones Come Up More Often

March 31st, 2013

DiceModern dice tend to have rounded corners (as shown in the image here) and indented pips. Apparently this greatly reduces the amount of plastic required to manufacture the dice, and thus makes them less expensive. Turns out there’s a problem, though, this style breaks the randomness of the dice. They tend to come up as ones about 29% of the time (versus 16.7% if it was truly random). Think about that for a moment. The dice produce ones nearly a third of the time.

The main problem is the rounded corners. When that was fixed, the percentage of ones rolled dropped to 19%. Still too high, but much better. The indented pips were the cause of the remaining difference. When the tester used casino dice (square corners with non-indented pips), the percentage of ones rolled was “dead on” correct. And he also learned that casinos had researched this same issue and their results were similar to his.

So if you use dice for games and such, I’d suggest using a pair with square corners. And if you’re a hard-core purist, get a set of casino dice. (Unless you’re playing Axis & Allies, in which case you want a lot of ones.)

Link: http://www.dakkadakka.com/…

The Lowdown on Spamhaus and the Huge Attack Against It

March 30th, 2013

EmailYou may already have heard about the massive DDoS attack against Spamhaus—an attack so big that it may have slowed down the entire Internet. So what is Spamhaus, and what did it do to incur such wrath?

The linked article has an overview of the spam-blocking services provided by Spamhaus. It also describes the tactics used by Spamhaus that many consider to be akin to extortion or blackmail. Are their methods heavy-handed? I would have to say “yes”. Are they effective? Indeed they are. Does the end (less spam) justify the means? I’m somewhat ambivalent on that one. Let me know what you think, in the comments.

Link: http://arstechnica.com/…

Tips For Optimizing an SSD

March 23rd, 2013

Tip JarSolid-state hard drives (SSDs) are quite different from regular, platter-based hard drives. And many of the techniques that optimize normal drives, such as defragmentation, are either unnecessary on SSDs or can actually decrease performance or reduce the drive’s lifespan. The linked article has several tips on optimizing the performance of your SSD under Windows.

Thanks to John from Boulder for this link.

Link: http://www.auslogics.com/…

How to Fix the “This page can’t be displayed” Error in Internet Explorer 10

February 28th, 2013

Windows LogoHaving just set up a new install of Windows 7 two days earlier, I learned that Internet Explorer 10 was now available for that OS. So I downloaded and installed it, only to find that it didn’t work. Every URL gave the same error message: “This page can’t be displayed.” My other browsers worked, so it wasn’t the network or the connection. After searching for a while, I found the answer from the linked article. To summarize:

  1. Click the cog wheel towards the upper right part of the IE10 window. This will open a menu.
  2. Select “Internet Options” from the menu. This will open the options window.
  3. Select the “Advanced” tab.
  4. Scroll down to the “Security” section.
  5. Check the “Enhanced Protection Mode” option.
  6. Save the options and restart the computer. Problem fixed!

Link: http://windowssecrets.com/…

Apple’s $5 Class Action Settlement

February 26th, 2013

Apple LogoIf you get an email from Apple talking about a $5 settlement, don’t dismiss it as spam—there’s a good chance it’s legitimate. The settlement is for people who made purchases within an app (say for game aids). See the linked articles for more information.

Link #1: http://www.komando.com/…

Link #2: http://www.businessweek.com/…
(via Kim Komando)

Clean Coal May Soon Be a Reality

February 20th, 2013

Recycle LogoResearchers at Ohio State University have found a way to release the energy in coal without producing greenhouse gases or pollution. The process is called coal-direct chemical looping, and it looks very promising. This could be big, very big.

Link #1: http://www.osu.edu/…

Link #2: http://www.foxnews.com/…
(via Kim Komando)