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Archive for July, 2013

Accounts with passwords are a standard way for securing access to your own data and tools, but passwords aren’t always as safe as we would like them to be. Password stores get hacked sometimes, but what’s worse: the time needed to extract a plaintext password from its encrypted state is getting shorter and shorter every day. What’s a person to do?

Ars Technica put the question to five security experts: “How do you manage your passwords?” You can find their answers here: “How elite security ninjas choose and safeguard their passwords“. Don’t skimp over the answers provided: there’s a lot of good advice in that text, but you’ll have to compose your own solution for it to be comfortable enough for daily use.

In case you care: I’m using Keepass (in various forms on Android, Ubuntu and Mac OS X), while FolderSync synchronises the encrypted file with a Google Drive account between two Android devices…

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DIY Photography wants to know: “Can You Spot The Lego Elements?“. On a really hot evening, you better visit the “In Pieces” exhibition website: the pictures are larger, and the title tells you what to look for. Less puzzling, I agree, but I am certain your admiration for the Lego artist and the photographer will increase.

Nathan Sawaya - Dog, In Pieces 2012, Plastic Bricks, 22.0 x 15.0 x 43.0 inches

Nathan Sawaya – Dog, In Pieces 2012, Plastic Bricks, 22.0 x 15.0 x 43.0 inches

Too bad New York is so far away; I would love to see the exhibition in the flesh!

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Am I A Good Guy Or A Bad Guy?

The PRISM-related news of the last month hasn’t scared you yet?

Let Ars Technica add a few numbers and hard facts to your current knowledge: “You may already be a winner in NSA’s “three-degrees” surveillance sweepstakes!“. In short:  National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis testified that the NSA’s probing of data in search of terrorist activity extended “two to three hops” away from suspected terrorists; Ars then calculates that “three hops could encompass as much as 50 percent of the Internet-using population of the world” -and that’s either you or me!

The worst part, of course, is that intelligent terrorists and criminals are NOT using the Internet to discuss their plans…

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It’s official: “The AHS Sikorsky Prize has been won by AeroVelo!“.

More information about this remarkable breakthrough can be found in an article on the Popular Mechanics website: “Finally! A Human-Powered Helicopter Wins the $250,000 Sikorsky Prize“.

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Forty-four years ago, a long way from home, “Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon” (The Guardian).

Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon

Buzz Aldrin walks on the moon (Apic/Getty)

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From the Technology Review website: “A Chocolate Maker’s Big Innovation“:

[Tcho] provides growers with all the tools they need to have chocolate tastings during harvesting and processing, the crucial period that determines the price a cacao farmer’s crop will command. Tcho combines coffee roasters, spice grinders, and modified hair dryers to equip “sample labs”—pilot plants that produce tiny lots of chocolate right where cacao is grown.

Cacao beans and processed chocolate (image found at library.thinkquest.org)

Cacao beans and processed chocolate
(image found at library.thinkquest.org)

The way Tcho works reminds me of a famous slogan: “The quality goes in before the name goes on“. And quality starts at the beginning of the process, in the kitchen, in IT or in industrial production processes.

How could I not love better chocolate? Now where can I find Tcho chocolate here in my neighbourhood?

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My Mac Pro is getting older, and Apple consistently fails to provide PowerPC upgrades for Mac OS X since version 10.5. So much for buying decent (and expensive) hardware.

On the other hand I like the EeePC with Ubuntu for daily use, i.e. websurfing and email. But handling my photos is a bit too much for the slow processor in that small machine. So how about buying a portable that already has Linux installed (preferably Ubuntu, but I’m ready to experiment) rather than …?

The “buy a Linux PC” option isn’t that simple here in the Low Countries. I did find a few links to retailers that are supposed to sell Linux portables, but most (all?) of them have stopped their activities. I conclude that I will probably have to look at German shops like ixsoft if I want to go this route. It might take an American firm like ZaReason a bit too long for me to come to Europe ;-)

So, yes: buying a Linux portable in a regular shop is hard. I guess we’ll have to wait for Canonical to deliver on its promise of the new Ubuntu: that new version will turn your smartphone or tablet into a Linux PC when you connect a monitor and a keyboard.

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