Monday, May 31, 2010

Tests, Preparedness and the Boy Scouts

"Be prepared" is the motto of the Boy Scouts and I agree.  So I tested how my network of messaging works.  I have a mobile phone that can send mms, sms and connect to the internet.  It can send email.  SMS and voice calls are pretty much one on one.  What you have to check here is the ubiquity and security of your contact list.  Is the addressbook backed up?  You may want to check if you can access this contact file in multiple locations.  To accomplish this you can save it in your cloud service.  I have been using Dropbox and Ubuntu One for that. 

The previous post is a test sent from my mobile phone to my blogs.  I first sent an MMS.  I have Smart as my mobile service provider.  After several minutes later, I sent an email post with attachment to the blogs using my mobile phone.  These latter action delivered first and appeared on my blogs right away.  My blogs are using dlvr.it which is a service that dellivers new posts to destinations like Twitter and Facebook. 

And so well within the 15 minute threshold, my Twitter account received the tweet of the new posts.  My facebook account received the updates also within the 15 minutes promised by the service. 

What about the MMS I sent before the emails? 

They too posted although several minutes later than the ones done through the emails.  The explanation is that Smart, my mobile service, actually puts MMS sent to a service que if you like.  They charge 10 pesos for the email connection and 2.50 pesos each MMS sent in my mobile phone.  So because MMS service is "shared" it is cheaper. 

A room with a view


--
This message has been scanned for viruses and
dangerous content by MailScanner, and is
believed to be clean.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hey Do Blogs

Blogging now has never been easier and mobile.  With Facebook you are dependent on other people keeping your personal data away from bad people.  There is even an assertion that privacy has never been Facebook's responsibility.  If you think you can't live in the digital world without Facebook then I offer you blogs.

Blogs give you complete control over your website.  Delete abusive comments, you can.  Block comments you can.  Keep the website private, check.  You can go the other way and automatically announce new posts in Twitter and ironically, Facebook.

You can use Bloggers or you can use Wordpress.  I have both.  Blogger is older and Wordpress is open source.  You can create two blogs.  One is public and the other private.  Both Bloggers and Wordpress have free accounts and premium services.

You can use your mobile phone to send posts.  I love sending photos taken by the cell camera as posts with the subject appearing as title in the blog post.  It's very spontaneous.

This is the production side of it, what about the end user side of this?

Isn't is a pain to open a browser for each of your friends' blog when all you will read is a one-line update to your friends' status?

Use Google Reader or use a desktop feed reader application like me.  A feed reader polls each feed from your friends blogs and checks for updates automatically when the application is open. 

One more thing, blogs do not limit your posts to a set number of words or characters.  You want to do a Stephen King go ahead.  Go write your novel now.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Attack Profile: How Big Is The Vulnerability

It's important to also pay attention to the attack profile or how much is this vulnerability exposing user to attacks.  Central to the issue is how much time the user is being exposed to the attacks.  If you reduce the attack profile then you'll be safer.  No, I don't think disconnecting from the internet is an option anymore. 

In this regard, the browser is a big blip in the horizon.  Every time the computer is turned on nowadays, the user is also opening a browser (or several tabs).  Any small vulnerability in the browser translates to a huge attack profile.  Adding to the discussion is the security problems of browser plugins like flash and java but that is an entire post in itself. 

The less you use the browser the smaller the attack profile is. 

Use desktop clients instead. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Blog Lives Again

How do I do publishing?  Sometimes I feel like Dorothy after the twister thing but here goes.  I usually type my draft using my email client (Evolution) and save it as drafts (duh?).  It sits there for a while or I decide to just feed it to the trash which is most of the time.  I send the email post to my blogger's account.  They have this email posting feature where you can send images as attachments to email and the blog formats the images automatically.  You can set image properties in your account administration tab.

For people like me who find the 160 character cap of Twitter and the 240 characters update feed of Facebook too limiting, I recommend we try blogging once again. 

There is this beta called dlvr.it which offers to deliver your content to destinations in the internet.  My posts are automatically trumpeted in Facebook and Twitter within minutes. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Becoming Twitter, Becoming Facebook

Some people are using their facebook news feed like twitter.  They are posting short one liners 50 times a day.  Purists are saying that the two services are different modes of the social network.  They should be used differently.

How are you going to enforce that?  If it looks and feels like a hammer I'm going to hit the nail with it.  People will use their facebook account the way they see fit and easy. 

Originally facebook does not have their news feed.  Twitter is just telling somebody what your doing.  Now they're big and heavy.  They even confuse old timers. 

M. mycoides, Oil spills, iPad and Lady Gaga

Last May 20, 2010 american scientists led by Craig Venter announced the creation of a self-replicating synthetic life in the form of a bacteria, M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0.  That's Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0.  This is the first time that man designed something than can self-replicate, a genome sequence made in a computer, complete with watermarks and codes to identify IT as truly unmistakeably man-made.  When it was implanted into a Mycoplasma capricolum, a natural bacteria, the sythetic began producing enzymes that destroyed the M. capricolum's original genome very much like the Borg assimilating humans. 

So what we have here is a synthetic cell able to reproduce, has a unique genome sequence, and is able to defend its own existence. 

I think when we look back to the first half of 2010, we will agree that it is a watershed moment.  Apple just came out with iPad, selling a million in just a month, eclipsing its iPhone and iPod products.  The United States is still suffering from the economic recession that began in September 2008.  The world economic giant is relinquishing its role to China, Germany and South Korea.  The biggest environmental disaster since Chernobyl is growing in the Gulf of Mexico.  BP is yet to cap that bleeding pipe.  NASA is doing the last of its shuttle missions.  They plan to outsouce their manned missions in the future to private companies. 

And based on her Youtube views, Lady Gaga's popularity is soaring.  Her gender might be questionable but not her impact on the pop culture. 


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Too Much Connectivity

People are already up in arms regarding Facebook's new privacy policies.  (Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises to roll back some of these changes, but we shall see.) These new policies doesn't scare the average Facebook user because its implications are too distant to most people. 

I connected my blog to my facebook account and my twitter account today.  I found this beta service that promises to deliver my posts from the blog url to facebook and twitter.  I just want to see exactly how dlvr.it is going to accomplish that.

I also have my tweets (the most recent ones) appear in widgets at the sides of my blogs.  This completes the circle I guess.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Google Wave: Goes Public

    I think it's wonderful that Google just opened the doors for the public into their Google Wave service.  I'm still trying wrap my head around it though.  I know it's like an IM tool on stereoids but I really don't know what to tell friends.  But the UI is really nice.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Person Being Photographed

The Lower Merion School District scandal over the inappropriate use of laptop webcam issued to students is evil period.  Some people see this as Sesame Street Ernie fooling around with Bert kind of evil but it's evil pure and simple.

We have to define personal space here and especially in this case of kids who are being spied on.  We have to teach kids we don't do this to other people even in the age of George Bush Jr. and Jack Bauer.

The grownups who first saw this happening should have turned it off and realize that this is plain voyeurism.  Oh and this is not a security feature, you can drop that line of defense.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Wise Way To Pray (revisited)

I have saved this golden nugget for sometime now.  I just have to read it again.  And after reading it, I had to publish it again.


A WISE WAY TO PRAY


Plato, the Greek philosopher, borrowed from an ancient poet a prayer that he said best expresses the way we shortsighted mortals should pray. Although the prayer was to a pagan deity, it has a lesson for us. It goes like this: “Give us those things which are best, whether we pray for them or not; but command evil things to remain at a distance from us, even though we implore them.”


The insight of that philosopher is also seen in the Bible, only with a clearer and more specific focus. Centuries before Plato, Agur fully understood that wise praying must be based on truth and a desire to bring glory to the Almighty. He asked God to grant him two things before he died: “Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches” (Prov.30:8).


Agur longed for integrity and contentment. That desire included his willingness to have God veto anything that might cause him to become self-sufficient and forget the Lord, or to make him a thief and thus profane God’s name (v.9).


Plato focused on what is best for us. Agur went a step further. He wanted what was best for him, but only if it would reflect God’s glory. That’s the wise way to pray,


Dennis J De Haan

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Speed Is Success

The successful use of computers, optical scanners and transmission of data from the remotest precints made a profound impact in the way this country conduct elections.  These new technology is already embraced by the young voters (in their 18's and twenty-something).  It was not alien to them and certainly they speak its language.

Our leaders who are in their 60's, have expressed concerns but also said that they will use electronic means to count the vote in the official canvassing to take place before the month is out.  The country and its people are slowly putting its trust on this new technology because they are seeing its speed and broadcasting capability.  Sure machines are still only machines.  They break down.  Poor planning and management can render all the high technology for nothing.

Everyone is surprised at the speed of vote transmission.  Cheating plans were abandoned because they could not keep up with that speed.  As soon as I fed my ballot into the optical scanner, I just have to wait for the confimation that my vote is already transmitted. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Delay and Postpone

We are hearing from the election lawyers once again.  They are throwing all kinds of accusations just to delay the proclamation of their principals.  From where I sit, the more we delay and postpone the announcement and proclamation of obvious winners in the concluded elections, the more we open the door to poll manipulation and post-election cheating.

What do I want?  I want the votes counted as soon as possible.  I want the results transmitted and totalled accurately.  I want it announced and the winners proclaimed.  Let's move on.  Anything else is self-serving.  Elections are an act of patriotism.  You ask yourself what you want and who you want to represent you.  Then you drop it because the greater good is important.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The 2010 Philippine Election

There were a lot of apprehensions and some candidates formally requested that it be postponed but the May 10, 2010 elections pushed through as scheduled with the automated counting and the now famous PCOS.

The Commission on Elections COMELEC, implemented the automation of vote counting for the first time.  This will speed up the tallying of votes and reduce the tensions whenever votes are being counted in the precint level.

At the heart of this automation is the precint count optical scan machines by Smartmatic.  This machine  is run by uclinux, an embedded linux using the 2.6 kernel.  This operating system runs in ROM and helped in reducing the cost of automating the count.  It is expected that the counting will be over within 48 hours of the precints closing.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

An Alternative To Facebook

A lot of people who know the implications of the changes that facebook is implementing regarding its privacy settings, are upset and are ready to close their accounts.  Most are public figures and tech blog figures.  If you're worried about your privacy settings and are thinking that your personal data might find their way into the public space, then an alternative way of opening communications to your family and friends are available. 

Take a second look at blogs.  Wordpress and Bloggers are two solutions you should explore.  Open a free account and features like posting by mobile phones and email are available.  But the most important feature with blogging sites is the RSS feeds.  Once your post is published your family/friends' aggregators or feed readers are automatically updated in seconds. 

Like facebook only more private.

Termina Humor

Who said that using the terminal and the command line interface is dull? 

I was updating my system and I got this response from the servers at Ubuntu security.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Election 2010

The Philippine election for the President, Vice-President, Senators, House of Representatives and local executives down to the municipalities is underway.  What it brings is a new automated voting system that if done right will bring the age of computers and optical scans to casting votes and counting them in this country.  The Filipinos already embrace the latest in mobile technology.  They are most at home with text, sms and mobile internet.  Although internet penetration in this country is a low 5.6 million, those that do have internet connection tend to be very savvy in cyberspace.  The Philippines rank 42nd in the number of internet users.

There was a last minute issue with the compact flash cards used in the optical scanning machines. 

The media has been covering the election using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.  Filipinos are very well acquainted with Facebook and local users are surging in numbers in the last 6 months.  Most candidates use facebook to spread their message and to sense what is in the mind of their audience.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Embedding Tweets in Blogs

The best way to embed a conversation or tweets in your blog is to capture it using a screenshot tool in the desktop.  And then just post the jpg with captions to explain what it is.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

After Installing Lucid Lynx, Now What

There are so many things to do with your default Lucid Lynx installation, but how to do it?

For all of you Lucid Lynx fans who are itching to customize what you have then go and read Danny Piccirillo's blog The Silent Number for the most complete guide on how to do exactly what you want.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Solved: CD/DVD Drive Mystery

Something there is in fences...

I should have checked the cables.  The simplest explanation should be the first thing to be ruled out.  I know now.  Ok start flogging me because its my fault.  I started to blame the software, then the operating system and then the hardware.  I never checked the cables.  The cables came loose.  Start flogging.  Ouuch!

I have a good ISO image of Ubuntu 10.04 i386 desktop on a cd-r.  It's a live cd.  I don't go the 6 month cycle without it.


A Note If The Upgrade Goes Bad

I wrote this note because I was concerned my upgrade will result in something unsatisfactory.  So I'm publishing this to embarrass people like me who are sceptical.  Also I want to explain what pushed me from a clean install to an update-manager route.


Sun May. 02, 2010

I ran update-manager yesterday but the download got interrupted so I resumed the upgrade this morning.  I called Smartbro last night and their call center is being swamped by calls.  Well, they have problems being a weekend and all.  People are going to need their computers to connect.

Anyway, update-manager just finished downloading the packages for the new Ubuntu version.  It is now in the installation phase.  I am doing the distribution upgrade because I can't move my cd/dvd drive to work.  My operating system is unable to detect it, or just freezes when burning the image to a perfectly ok blank cd.  I even bought a brand new cd/dvd rewritable drive to replace what might turn out to be a perfectly ok Asus drive for all I know.

The upgrade took 1,494 packages from the Ubuntu servers.  It is now installing them.  It tells me it will take an hour and 5 minutes.  Let's see.

Initial Impressions On Lucid

Change of plans.  I'll tell you about why the change later.

I have to go through the update-manager to upgrade to lucid 10.04 from karmic 9.10.  It gave me some concerns which later turned out to be unfounded.  The upgrade went smoothly and quick once my isp got its act together. 

Update Gnucash 2.6.16 --> 2.6.18

It's a long road to this update. It isn't a normal update at all. I had to manually compile goffice0.8 and webkitgtk as well as gnu...