Monthly Archives: September 2011

The near future of the tech industry

I am not into making predictions of the future. Okay, that is not true, I do it all the time, so what the fuck. A few weeks ago HP announced it was selling its PC hardware and mobile device businesses. Michael Dell promptly started antagonising them on Twitter, nearly everyone thought this was a bad idea and their stock plummeted. The HP board of directors fired the CEO in an attempt to sooth queasy investors. What HP didn’t do is abandon the plan to sell off their hardware divisions and become a service company. Upon appointment the new CEO promptly said she planned to follow the plan to restructure the company, the previous CEO was right, he was simply a victim of poor marketing.

This whole ordeal reminds of of another similar decision made by another tech company several years earlier. IBM sold off its PC hardware business to a Chinese company who now uses IBM’s patents to build the Lenovo line. Today it was announced that IBM has now over taken Microsoft as the #2 most valuable tech company in the world. While I can’t foretell the future, I will give even odds that in 5 years HP will be laughing all the way to the bank and Michael Dell will be left wondering what the hell happened.

Noise ratio theory of online identities

I suspect in this day and age, it would be fairly difficult to completely disappear and assume a new identity. Thirty years ago the various databases used by federal, state and local governments were not connected and most were not even computerized. Today, that is not true, you can not obtain a birth certificate of someone who died and with that get a social security number and driver license, as soon as you tried red flags would be going up everywhere. I suppose it is possible, just not very easy.

However, the other day I was thinking it would be pretty easy to lay down a trail or several trails of misinformation. Essentially set up 4 or 5 online lives using your own name, birthday and birth place. Give each one a similar set of interests but vary the information in subtle ways and create each life in a different location and different job.

The process would be fairly easy to implement. Set up 5 email addresses with 5 different free email services. Then take those and set up Facebook  and Twitter accounts, link the accounts so anything you post on Twitter automatically goes to Facebook. While you are at it, activate the location finder in Twitter, then access it using Tor, this will make it look like you are posting from different locations, throw in a job that makes you travel and suddenly your fake life is much more interesting than your real one. Once this is done, start following a celebrity and start retweeting their stuff, occasionally commenting. This will fill Facebook and gain you followers on Twitter.

You could even go a step further and google your name and see what professions your name sakes are in and use those in your profiles. You should be careful with this however, you do not want to be accused of identity theft, you simply want to muddy the waters by making your fake life intersect in minor ways with those who share a name with you.

Keep in mind, this would not foil a professional investigator, but it will probably slow them down, especially if you have been working on these fake lives for a couple of years prior. I think who this would be most effective against is amateurs and stalkers. To be really effective though, you would have to either eliminate your real Facebook and Twitter accounts or start using them to create misinformation as well.

Kindle on Linux

So the other day I downloaded the Android SDK, installed it and tried to see if the Kindle ebook app could be made to run in some reasonable fashion. The conclusion I came to was in fact no. The SDK is simply not built for regular end user use, it is built for testing applications. So that went out the door. I have also tried to run the Kindle app under WINE, which did not work at all and I am not really all that fond of WINE anyway. Rarely do Windows programs run properly under WINE and developers tend to use it as an excuse for not porting to Linux.

This left me with two options. First, just use my Windows 7 Virtual Box install to run the app. Second I could break down and use the Kindle Cloud plug in for Chrome. Using Virtualized Windows to run this app, seemed overly complex for such a simple activity. So I opened Chrome, which came installed by default in Lubuntu, went to Amazon and installed the extension. This seemed a much nicer solution to the problem.


By the way, this is my 350th post.

A couple of things rolling around in my head today

First off, I swapped my main machine OS from Ubuntu to Lubuntu. Lubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu which uses a different windows manager. I decided to make the swap for a couple of reasons. First, I have been using it on my netbooks for a couple of years and it has come a long way in that time, developmental wise. Second, it preforms much better and uses considerably less resources than the standard Ubuntu install. Finally, I was not all that impressed with Unity, Ubuntu’s new windows manager, but I had not been terribly happy with Gnome lately either. I think my primary complaint here is OS’s seem to be making a shift to tablet computing and I am not ready to make that shift. Fortunately, being a Linux user, I have choices about what I can use.

Next I have been really annoyed by Amazon’s lack of a Linux version of Kindle software. I mean seriously, they support Android and it would probably take them 20 minutes to port the code and if they waved a bong in front of the programmer, it would probably be done in 10. So in the meantime, I have downloaded the Android SDK to see if the Android Kindle app runs in some tolerable way through the Android emulated environment. More on that later.

I just finished reading Green Lantern #1. I was some what sceptical about the whole thing. This series is pretty much a continuation of the previous Green Lantern series, picking up where the old series left off. I believe this is the only DC book which is doing this for the relaunch of their line. My problem going into it was at the end of the last series, Hal Jordan had been kicked out of the Green Lantern Corp for killing Kronos, the renegade Guardian who was about to destroy the universe. Worse, Sinestro, the renegade Green Lantern who made it his life work to destroy the Green Lantern Corp, the Guardian of the Universe and Hal Jordan in particular, had been reinstated as a Green Lantern.  Yeah, it did not really make sense to me either. So the new series picks up with Sinestro going back to his home world and trying to reclaim it from the Sinestro Corp, the very evil being he released on the universe himself. It also follows Hal Jordan as he tries to readjust to life as a normal man trying to pay rent and find a job. Both stories work pretty well, with both characters realizing they were out of their depth and had made some wrong decisions. At the end we are shown Sinestro coming to Hal Jordan for help. I have to say, I am intrigued, I like this book better than all the other relaunch books I have read so far.

Idle minds

Apparently the Social Security office does not open until 9AM. So Here I sit blogging from my phone. In front of me in the distance is an older building. It has character and while not an exciting building, it is somewhat pleasant to look at.

 

RIP: Michael S. Hart inventer of the ebook

Michael S. Hart the founder of Project Gutenberg and the inventor of the ebook died this week. His original intent was to allow the unlimited free distribution of great literature through electronic means. When he was laying the foundations for this, I doubt he envisioned the Kindle or Nook, but neither would exist if it were not for the early work of this man.

http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Michael_S._Hart#close=1

Stayed home from work today

I have been feeling odd lately, I am not sure what is going on. Normally I ignore such things, day to day oddness is not that unusual for middle aged men. However, the last couple of days I have been experiencing dizziness at night, when I am asleep and roll over my head will begin to spin and I wake up with the bed spinning around. During the day I get light headed occasionally, but otherwise things seem normal. This happened a couple of months ago, but went away pretty quick. So I have called my doctor, they of course can not get me in until the 16th and I really don’t think it is a good idea to wait that long, but I also don’t want to go to the emergency room. So here I sit, waiting for his Nurse to call me back, I suppose she will make the decision if the doctor should see me quicker or not.

Summer ends

Last Memorial day I lamented about the lost summer even before it had started in earnest. Sadly I was right, Labor day is here and the summer was pretty much wasted. The upside is I am working today and I am making double time and a half, nothing like making $50 an hour.

1400 point GURPS characters

Since we are playing GURPS right now, I am spending a bit of time on the GURPS forums. Mostly it is standard fare gaming stuff, people asking about rule clarifications and campaign suggestions. This thread caught my eye, he is running a GURPS Supers game and needs suggestions for character in the 1400 point range. In 4th edition GURPS, this is considered a mid powered super, basically your average Marvel Super Hero or a low powered DC character.

Most of the characters were uninteresting until I got to this guy on page 7.This character made me laugh out loud. It is a great concept for a super hero.  I think this classifies as one of the best origin stories ever written by a player.

Dave was born under about 20 different lucky stars in a patch of 4-leaf clovers. He is a probability matrix very improbability stuff happens around his all the time. He thinks it is completely normal. In fact he has come across so many ghost, witches,etc. That he thinks they are commonplace so although he doesn’t take any effort to hide his knowledge “So when Fed passed though the wall to get back to his grave”. He also has no idea about his lucky powers he thinks it’s normal. He takes it for granted that guns blow up when fired and wonders why people bother to use them. He is also lazy he know that to succeed at something you just have to try hard and it will work out.

Review: Justice League #1

I have two opposing opinions of this book. On the one hand, it is a slick well drawn comic and a decent relaunch of the entire DC Universe. On the other hand Geoff Johns characterization of Green Lantern is way off the mark.

Geoff Johns, the writer, started the story at the very beginning, the first meeting of various heroes and the building blocks of the team to come later. What this particular issue is less a Justice League story and more like a Brave and Bold issue featuring a Batman/Green Lantern team up. Batman’s character is pretty much the same Batman we have known since the 1980’s. He is smart, driven and competent, if not slightly insane.  The art is fantastic, I have always liked Jim Lee, his art style is a bit cluttered and overly stylized, but is otherwise really good.He does his best work on action scenes and we get some of his best work here.

Now onto my grip with this comic. I hated the characterization of Hal Jordan. He is basically written as an incompetent fool with a powerful weapon. This harkens back to Frank Miller’s odious “All-Star Batman and Robin” comic where Green Lantern has his ass kicked by Robin. Seriously, even without the ring, Hal Jordan is a military man, a test pilot, a man who can hold his own. There is no reason to write him as if he were a 17 year with his first car, which is how he came off. There is plenty of ways to create friction between Batman and Green Lantern, after all, Batman’s primary weapon is fear, which is entirely useless against Green Lantern. Even Superman can be intimidated, but this tactic simply does not work against Hal Jordan, so Batman would have to learn to deal with him differently. None of this is approached, instead, Batman bullies Green Lantern and Green Lantern acts like a teenager, in many respects they are almost ignoring each other.

I was also a bit concerned about Superman lashing out at Green Lantern, while GL was acting particularly smug, Superman, even a young Superman, would have been far more level headed and inclined to give him a chance to explain himself. Instead, Superman acts petulant, a very un-Superman like quality. So while I liked the art and the story was sound, I felt charactization was lacking and Johns could have spent more time getting a feel for the iconic Hal Jordan instead of trying to go for laughs between he and Batman. On my normal scale of 1 to 5, I am giving this book a tentative 2, if the next couple of issues shape up and and give us better characters, I will forgive this lapse.