Archive for July, 2015

There is a serious problem in Android-land, reports Dan Goodin: “950 million Android phones can be hijacked by malicious text messages“. In short: almost all but the oldest Android devices are vulnerable to attacks. The errors exist in a system library called Stagefright, developed by Google, that handles media processing.There is no fast patch available, since the update has to come from the company that built or supplied your device.

(see http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/07/950-million-android-phones-can-be-hijacked-by-malicious-text-messages/ )

(Photo from BGR Media LLC)

The vulnerability is in fact a series of several bugs. For 100% protection from attacks you will have to install all relevant firmware updates for your device, as soon as they become available. Samsung, Huawei, LG, HTC, etc. will have to prepare those updates… or so we can hope.

You can limit your exposure a bit, says Ars Technica:

For now, there’s not much end users can do to protect themselves other than to install a patch as soon as one becomes available for their specific Android device. People can also prevent MMS messages from automatically loading in Google Hangouts or other text apps.

To stop those MMS’es from loading automatically in Hangouts, check out this Google forum post: “Change Hangouts text message settings on Android“.

As for me, I hope that Samsung rapidly does what it is supposed to do: patch my phone! Or will that brand-new OnePlus phone be patched sooner ;-?

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Late Night Show (Todayland!)

The Tomorrowland festival is closing its first day now. I’m sure some of our neighbours wil be quite happy not to have to listen to the noise anymore, even though the festival ground is almost 8 kilometers from were we live. The power of sound, right?

Quick view of the closing scene, from the live stream...

Quick view of the closing scene, from the live stream…

Anyway, I wanted to sample the sound of the festival, just to know what it’s all about. The live stream is perfect for that. I’m not too impressed with the music, but it is clear that the organizers of Tomorrowland have created a strong community of followers. I know a few companies and organizations who would love to be able to do the same!

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Just a quick note, to make it clear that I have not forgotten our holiday pictures (how could I forget such a trip?). The last batch I added illustrate our journey from Darwin to Uluru.

Desert oaks, seen from a travelling car (Northern Territory, Australia)

Desert oaks, seen from a travelling car (Northern Territory, Australia)

No comments needed, just enjoy them.

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I met Dries Buytaert many years ago, when he gave one of his talks about Drupal as a modular content management system. I’m not a fan of PHP, to say the least, but I have recommended Drupal several times to friends and acquaintances. Dries is a smart guy, and I should have known that even before reading his recent blog post “Winning back the Open Web“.

In this post, he explains what is required for the Web to fulfil its original promise of being “an ‘open web’ where no one was really in control and everyone was able to participate in building it“. In one phrase, his solution is a combination of ‘loosely-coupled architectures with a highly integrated user experience‘ and ‘personal  information brokers‘. Such a personal information broker is required to allow each user to control what personal data is used as input for any given application. I have summarised his views in an adaptation of his diagrams:

This is how I interpreted Dries Buytaert's proposal. Note that the broker does not necessarily has to be installed on your local device; it could just as well live on the Internet.

This is how I interpreted Dries Buytaert’s proposal.
Note that the broker does not necessarily has to be installed
on your local device; it could just as well live on the Internet.

His post has garnered a few interesting comments, too. One of the comments even mentions a Belgian initiative to create a payment card that will allow you to pay with as if it were a credit card, but without divulging your personal data…

It was, in fact, the inevitable scripting.com that pointed me to this post. Considering the way Dave Winer builds and promotes software, you shouldn’t be surprised about his strong emphasis on ‘collaboration’ when it comes to building software.

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When I saw the first samples of the zoom range of the Nikon Coolpix P900, I was duly impressed. So much zooming power in a single device! No, it isn’t perfect, certainly not in terms of picture quality at 2000mm – but those pictures are better than what some smartphone cameras deliver in somewhat more difficult circumstances at normal focal length.

I was ready to prepare a blog post about this camera… After a few days of reflection, however, I knew there would be enough talk about this camera on the internet even without my mention. Then came this video, using the P900 to document the moon in quite some detail, and that made me change my mind.


Click the image to see the video

Impressive? I think so! Just bring a tripod if you want to use this camera for serious telezoom pictures… For photographs of Pluto you should head over to NASA’s New Horizons website.

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(Almost) Made In Belgium

I write “(Almost)”, since the Kickstarter campaign is not yet over. But the Slidenjoy project looks quite interesting: thin and light supplementary screens for you portable computer, requiring only a USB connection (2 ports when using USB2) to power it all.

Slidenjoy - Double or triple your screens

Slidenjoy – Double or triple your screens

Who said there was no innovation in Belgium? Go, Charleroi!

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Impressive images, that’s the least to be said about this small collection of photos about Buran, the Soviet Space shuttle and its ilk.

Ars Technica: “Stunning images of abandoned Soviet space shuttles
(or click the image for more)

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Afghanistan, Five Decades Ago

They are just family pictures. They offer a casual look at Afghanistan half a century ago, and that is what makes them special. Just compare these images with what we see from Afghanistan on TV and in the newspapers!

Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque

Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque

Source: “30 Fascinating Photos Of 1960s Afghanistan

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The Sunny Side Of June

June was indeed a very sunny month here in Belgium: since the installation of our panels in 2009 only June 2010 produced more solar electricity than the past 30 days. Then again, if I look at the numbers, 2010 was a very sunny year. Even April 2010 was much sunnier than many May’s and June’s that followed!

Sunset in Darwin (NT, Australia)

Sunset in Darwin (NT, Australia)

PS. For more pictures about our holiday in Australia, just click on the picture!

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