"It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility." - Chris Knight

Archive for the ‘Geekery’ Category

Time lapse video of Google Doodle creation

February 14th, 2008 by iDunzo

A time lapse video that shows Chief Google Doodler Dennis Hwang draw a Google Doodle from start to finish.

He creates a doodle that commemorates the Lunar New Year and invites students to join the Doodle 4 Google art competition.

tag Posted in Geekery + Google + Technology | comment Comments Off on Time lapse video of Google Doodle creation

Look Out, World, Here Comes Tom Edison

February 11th, 2008 by iDunzo

February 11, 1847: Thomas Alva Edison is born.

Edison is front and center in the pantheon of prolific inventor-entrepreneur-opportunists. Alone or jointly, he held 1,093 patents, a record unlikely to be approached, let alone surpassed.

Thomas Edison received his first patent in 1869, at the age of 23. It was for an “electrographic vote recorder,” which allowed a legislator to cast a vote for or against an issue by turning a switch either left or right. It was a complete flop, ironically because it was too efficient and interfered with the ability of pols to lobby for vote-switching — something that was commonly done during the time it took to count votes by hand.

Edison’s extensive background in telegraphy influenced the direction his inventing would go, and he spent a lot of time ignoring his day jobs and concentrating on his moonlighting projects.

It was his development of an improved stock ticker and the sale of its patent for $40,000 (around $600,000 in today’s money) that gave Edison some financial independence and allowed him to turn to full-time inventing. Talk about opening the flood gates.

Over the course of his career, these were just a few of the things Edison either invented or had a hand in developing: the carbon transmitter (which made a practical telephone possible), the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, the kinetoscope (forerunner of the modern film projector), the dictaphone and the mimeograph machine, along with a mighty host of lesser-known things.

He built the first functioning central power station (in Brockton, Massachusetts), and his laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, is generally acknowledged as the world’s first true research-and-development center.

There were some failures along the way: Edison came out on the losing end of the battle over direct current versus alternating current with George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, and his attempt to marry audio to silent film — which resulted in The Great Train Robbery in 1903 — wasn’t a success. A few ideas were just loony: a concrete piano, for example.

But nothing is perfect, not even genius, and while Edison’s genius is indisputable, history has judged him less kindly in ethical matters. If his personal ambition didn’t exceed his intellect, it certainly came very close to matching it.

In an era characterized by its ruthless, cutthroat business tactics, Edison was at the head of the pack. He didn’t care whom he stepped on or exploited to achieve his ends, and he muscled in on lesser-known inventors to make some dubious patent claims.

Edison was a man with many colleagues, subordinates, competitors and even admirers, but few friends. He had a family, which he largely ignored. He was a very old man, sidelined by poor health, before bothering to stop and smell the roses.

His payoff is that he remains the iconic American success story, with all that it means.

tag Posted in Geekery + Technology + Trivia | comment Comments Off on Look Out, World, Here Comes Tom Edison

Barracuda Plans Broader Line Of Appliances

January 9th, 2008 by iDunzo

Barracuda Networks was founded six years ago as an anti-spam specialist. The company grew last year through acquisition and by selling appliances outside its sweet spot.

Look for Barracuda to expand its line further in 2008 and push deeper into international markets.

Barracuda has already transitioned from being a one-trick, spam-blocking pony to selling a variety of security appliances.

The next step, says president and CEO Dean Drako, is to offer an even wider range of appliances, including those support IT tasks beyond security.

Some possible examples:

  • Internet access
  • Bandwidth optimization
  • Fax archiving
  • Disk storage
  • Backup
  • Device monitoring
  • Anti-spyware
  • Packet filtering

Its flagship products are its spam firewall and Web filter. Barracuda also sells an IM firewall, load balancer, message archiver, Web application firewall, and application gateway.

While Barracuda’s products ship as appliances, Drako says Barracuda could almost be described as a software-as-a-services company, given the frequent updates that are pushed out to its hardware.

Last September, Barracuda acquired NetContinuum, a provider of application delivery controllers, which combine Web app security and traffic management.

Barracuda plans to push NetContinuum’s products down and out–to small and mid-size businesses and into overseas markets.

More acquisitions are likely. Drako won’t say whether Barracuda, a private company, plans to go public this year, but he acknowledges that capital fuels growth and an IPO is an obvious way to raise money.

If and when the company’s strategy calls for that kind of cash infusion, he says, “We will consider very strongly the public markets.” Sequoia Capital is an investor in Barracuda.

Make no mistake, Barracuda’s still got plenty of spam fighting to do.

According to the company’s end-of-year spam report, spam accounted for 90% to 95% of all e-mail in 2007, an increase from the 85% to 90% range in 2006.

tag Posted in Geekery + Technology + Toys & Gadgets | comment Comments Off on Barracuda Plans Broader Line Of Appliances

‘Hacker Safe’ Geeks.com Hacked

January 8th, 2008 by iDunzo

Geeks.com, a Web site that still displays a banner from McAfee’s ScanAlert certifying that it is “Hacker Safe,” on Friday sent a letter to customers saying that it was hacked last month.

“Genica dba Geeks.com (‘Genica’) recently discovered on December 5, 2007 that customer information, including Visa credit card information, may have been compromised,” said a letter posted on The Consumerist from Jerry L. Harken, Genica’s chief of security, to an undisclosed number Geeks.com customers.

“In particular, it is possible that an unauthorized person may be in possession of your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, credit card number, expiration date, and card verification number. We are still investigating the details of this incident, but it appears that an unauthorized individual may have accessed this information by hacking our e-commerce Web site.”

Geeks.com has reported the incident to federal authorities and Visa, and is encouraging customers to review their credit card statements for unauthorized charges.

The company has set up two help numbers — 1-888-529-6261 or 1-212-560-5108 for non-US customers — that will be active starting this morning for those with questions about the incident.

It is also providing contact information for the major credit agencies to make it easier to report any identity theft fraud arising from the incident.

Geeks.com describes itself as a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site that specializes in computer-related excess inventory, manufacturer closeouts, and popular and esoteric products for the tech-savvy.

McAfee acquired ScanAlert in October and describes it as the world’s leading provider of e-commerce Web site security services.

The Hacker Safe certification, McAfee explains on its Web site, lets “shoppers of ScanAlert customer sites instantly know that they are a secure Web site and respond by buying more from them.”

The ScanAlert Web site explains that the Hacker Safe certification doesn’t mean 100% safe.

“Research indicates sites remotely scanned for known vulnerabilities on a daily basis, such as those earning ‘Hacker Safe’ certification, can prevent over 99% of hacker crime,” the site says.

tag Posted in Geekery + Security Patches + Technology + Web | comment Comments Off on ‘Hacker Safe’ Geeks.com Hacked

A Distress Call for Ships in Danger Upon the Sea

January 7th, 2008 by iDunzo

January 7, 1904: “CQD” is adopted as the international distress signal for the operators of Marconi wireless installations.

The Morse code signal (dash-dot-dash-dot, dash-dash-dot-dash, dash-dot-dot), which became effective February 1, 1904 was approved for maritime use by the Marconi International Marine Communications Company.

Although widely used by Marconi operators, CQD never became a true international standard.

Two years later, members of the International Radiotelegraphic Convention meeting in Berlin adopted SOS as the standard distress signal, and CQD began fading from the scene.

CQD originated by combining CQ, which alerted stations that a message was incoming, with D for “distress.”

SOS, on the other hand, represents the Morse equivalents for those letters (dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot). It does not stand for either “Save Our Ship” or “Save Our Souls.” SOS was adopted because it’s easy to send and easy to decipher.

SOS remained the maritime distress signal until 1999, when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

The most famous maritime distress call of all time was sent by the RMS Titanic following its fatal collision with an iceberg in April 1912.

In that instance, Marconi radio operator Jack Phillips began by sending the CQD signal, then still commonly used aboard British ships.

On the suggestion of his junior, Harold Bride, Phillips began alternating between CQD and SOS.

Both signals were received, and the ships that could responded, but …

tag Posted in Geekery + Technology + Trivia | comment Comments Off on A Distress Call for Ships in Danger Upon the Sea

14 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft

January 6th, 2008 by iDunzo

OK, between Guitar Hero and this, I’m totally outing myself as a geek. Here it is: I play World of Warcraft. It’s not a problem; I can quit any time I want.

Ever since I started playing, I’ve started noticing little references to WoW everywhere.

South Park and The Simpsons have both had episodes featuring the game or in the case of The Simpsons, a suspiciously similar game.

And the more I advance in the game, the more pop culture references I notice in the game itself. I just love sly little mentions that not everyone would catch.

I started doing a little research and there are way, way too many to mention, but I’m going to list a few of my favorites.

I haven’t actually discovered all of these myself, so it gives me something to watch out for while I’m playing… besides murlocs and ghouls, I mean.

14 Pop Culture References in World of Warcraft:

1. The inscription on a couple of weapons (the Finkle’s Lava Dredger and Finkle’s Skinner) says, “Property of Finkle Einhorn, Grandmaster Adventurer.”

Ace Ventura fans will recognize this from the moment near the end of the movie when Ace figures out that Lois Einhorn is, in fact, ex-Miami Dolphins footballer Ray Finkle. “Einhorn is Finkle! Finkle is Einhorn! Einhorn is a man!”

2. This one’s also in the town of Stormwind – there’s a traveling salesman who goes by the name Antonio Pirelli.

In both the theater and recent movie versions of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, there’s a traveling hair tonic salesman named Adolfo Pirelli. Coincidence? Not in my book.

3. This one’s a little trickier. In one of the large cities in the game, Stormwind, there’s a flower shop owner named Bernard Gump. Florist Gump. Get it?

4. If you head to a town called Lakeshire and train with the fisherman there, you might be getting more of a lesson than you bargained for: the trainer’s name is Matthew Hooper. Richard Dreyfuss played shark expert Matt Hooper in Jaws.

5. More naming fun. In the Eastern Plaguelands, there’s a priest named Father Inigo Montoy, which is just one letter away from Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride (“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”)

6. The creators must be fans of The Princess Bride, because the stable master in the town of Southshore is named Wesley. That’s not quite the same as the stable boy Westley in The Princess Bride, but it’s close enough that it had to be intentional. Right?

7. Another movie that gets multiple references is Silence of the Lambs. One quest requires players to get an ogre tannin out of a basket. (No, I don’t know what a ‘tannin’ is.)

The second the tannin is removed, an ogre runs after the player yelling, “It puts the tannin in the basket or else it gets the club again!”

This is a combination of Buffalo Bill’s “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again,” and “It places the lotion in the basket.”

8. There’s a blacksmith in the town of Darkshire who sometimes mumbles about hearing the lambs scream. Her name just happens to be Clarise.

9. Visit the city of Orgrimmar and you’ll have the chance to check out a shop called “Boomstick Imports”. Bruce Campbell would be proud.

10. My favorite category of movies – the horror genre – does not go unnoticed in the World of Warcraft which is only appropriate since it’s crawling with the undead, ghouls, zombies and banshees.

The innkeeper in Undercity is named Innkeeper Norman and the innkeeper of Sepulcher is named Innkeeper Bates… see, Norman Bates, our favorite Psychopath hotel manager.

11. The trick in the bullet above – giving two people of the same profession names that relate to one another – is a favorite trick of the WoW game designers.

Next time you visit Undercity, take notice of the auctioneer there. His name is Yarly. Not something you’d think much of, right? But if you travel to Stranglethorn Vale and check out the auctioneer there, you’ll see that his name is O’Reely. O’Reely and Yarly is a reference to the “O RLY? YA RLY!” owls of Internet fame.

12. There’s a kitty at the start of the Naxxramas instance whose name is Mr. Bigglesworth… AKA Dr. Evil’s cat in the Austin Powers movies.

13. It isn’t just movies that are referenced. The punk movement also gets a little love from the good people of Blizzard Entertainment.

In the Alterac Mountains, there’s a non-playable character named Nancy Vishas. This is likely a nod to Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, whom he stabbed to death in 1978.

14. Finally, not one, but two Homestar Runner references.

First, a non-playable character in the Searing Gorge named Master Smith Burninate…. as in the Strongbad drawing Trogdor the Burninator.

I wonder if there’s a poorly-drawn dragon lurking somewhere that I haven’t found yet.

The second reference is a bad guy named Jorb. This may or may not be a reference to the Homestar short “A Jorb Well done” where Coach Z is unable to pronounce the word ‘job’ correctly.

Those are a few of my favorites. So tell me, Warcraft people, what have you come across that made you giggle to yourself?

tag Posted in Gaming + Geekery + Software + Technology | comment 2 Comments »