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The Tech Deck

Disqus users should reset passwords

Any commenters that log directly into our Disqus commenting system are advised to change their passwords due to a security vulnerability announced by Disqus.com.

http://engineering.disqus.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed.html

PLEASE NOTE: This applies ONLY to users who use their DISQUS account to comment, NOT users who comment using their spokesman.com login credentials, as illustrated below:

The Spokesman-Review takes the security of our users very seriously, so if in doubt PLEASE reset your passwords. For more information about the vulnerability, please check my last blog post about Heartbleed.

I repeat, if in doubt, change your passwords

If you have any issues or questions about this matter, please email us at webteam@spokesman.com or you can email me directly at dang@spokesman.com.

Heartbleed: OpenSSL Vulnerability that affects EVERYONE

Hey everyone, this is really important: Avoid the internet for a while and change all your passwords to everything. This is not a joke. They discovered a bug in OpenSSL, which powers like 2/3 of the internet. It's really, really really bad.

If you are using the same password for most sites you visit, it is urgent that you change at least your banking and email accounts and any other high risk/high security websites you may use.

They've already confirmed that Yahoo is/was vulnerable along with a huge chunk of websites on the internet. Most of the major websites have already updated their software, but if they were compromised prior to that your, data and passwords still need to be changed.

To see if your website or a website you use is vulnerable, run the url against this Heartbleed test: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

I'll keep you posted on the status of the Spokesman-Review's websites.

UPDATE:

I confirmed with our tech support team that none of the Spokesman-Review's websites (spokesman.com, nwprepsnow.com, etc) were vulnerable to this particular bug because we were using a different version of OpenSSL. If you have any questions regarding the security of any of our sites, please email webteam@spokeman.com and we'll be happy to chat.

For more information, check out some of the following links:

Technical details:

http://heartbleed.com/

http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2014/04/08/half-a-million-widely-trusted-websites-vulnerable-to-heartbleed-bug.html

http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/04/heartbleed-bug-exposes-passwords-web-site-encryption-keys/

News:

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26935905

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jameslyne/2014/04/08/heartbeat-heartbleed-bug-breaks-worldwide-internet-security-again-and-yahoo/

http://www.cnet.com/news/heartbleed-bug-undoes-web-encryption-reveals-user-passwords/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2140920/heartbleed-bug-in-openssl-puts-encrypted-communications-at-risk.html

Updates from popular sites:

https://blog.heroku.com/archives/2014/4/8/openssl_heartbleed_security_update

http://blog.lastpass.com/2014/04/lastpass-and-heartbleed-bug.html

Darth Vader runs for President of Ukraine

Out of all the news coming out the the Ukraine, I bet this wasn't a story you were expecting. The Guardian is reporting that the Ukrainian Internet party (UIP) has put forth a new candidate for President.

Darth “I am your father” Vader, Sith Lord.

So cool.

Ukraine's Darth Vader bids to lead nation to the dark side

 

 

Get your name on the EVE monument

Players of the game EVE Online have the opportunity to have their character name permanently etched in stone.

If you've never played EVE Online, just imagine the biggest, most in-depth space sim you can imagine. Then make it bigger. Then multiply that by the 10 years that the game has been online and evolving. It's seriously huge and old and intense. And awesome.

Anyway, if your character is active as of March 1, 2014, your player character name will be engraved in stone for all of Iceland to look at and snicker.

That is seriously awesome.

 

 

Test driving a Tesla Model S

I got to drive a Tesla Model S P85 today, and it was awesome. It's a serious driving machine, and did I mention it was awesome?
 

 

Every NES start screen. All of them.

I saw this on Wired and had to share it here. YouTube user NicksplosionFX compiled a video made up of every NES/Famicom start screen ever made. No big deal, right?

It's 2 hours, 50 minutes and 12 seconds long.

THAT's *kinda* a big deal. Can't even imagine the insane amount of time it must have taken to find all the ROMs, load them into an emulator, screen cap the title screen, rinse lather repeat, then edit it all together.

You sir, are both a gentleman and a scholar.

 

 

Windows XP antivirus update

Well slap my face and call me Sally.

Yesterday I posted an article about ditching XP because Microsoft was ending all support, including antivirus support, for that old and aged behemoth. I'll just go ahead and assume that they read my article, because that very same day they announced they will continue to support their security software for both enterprise and consumers through July 14, 2015.

So granny's machine won't turn into a botnet just yet (if it hasn't already). But that doesn't mean you're off the hook.

Update your Windows XP antivirus software

I'm sorry, that title is a bit misleading, but please continue reading.

Because I'm a “computer guy,” people always ask me about what anti-virus software to use, even though I'm avowedly a Mac user and haven't regularly used a PC in almost a decade. What's funny is that the people who ask me those questions are still using the same operating system that I was using all the way back then, Windows XP.

So the thing about protecting your XP box from viruses is:

STOP USING XP.

I mean, seriously. Microsoft is dropping it stone cold dead on April 8, including XP support for my former AV goto Microsoft Security Essentials. There is absolutely no excuse for you to be on XP anymore, even if you're super poor and can't afford a new machine. (In that case, I suggest installing Linux, which is both free as in “free beer” and free as in “freedom”, and is as secure as you want it to be.)

If your IT department requires you to use XP, fire your IT department. If you're neither poor nor have a poor IT department, just pony up for a new PC, install security essentials and be done with it.

If, for some reason I simply wouldn't comprehend, you really insist on keeping XP, you do still need an up-to-date anti-virus, because *I* don't want *your* machine to be turned into a node on a giant spam botnet. I don't really have an official recommendation for what that AV would be, since I would probably just Google it, but Softpedia has a good list of Security Essentials alternatives that you could try.

Attack of the deadly helicopter drone

All of this discussion of drone photography in the paper reminded me with my close encounter with an unmanned aerial vehicle. Terrified I was, as you can see from the video below.
 

Terrible!

New Godzilla movie

Aren't we used to Hollywood churning out remakes of old movies? I suppose.

But I will tell you this, there is no such thing as a bad Godzilla movie. Even the bad ones are great. And the first, the original? It is greatness defined. (Interestingly, it came out of the same studio on the same year as Seven Samurai, and includes almost all of SS's actors, sans-Toshiro Mifune.)

With that, this new Godzilla movie looks great. Watch this:

I don't know how many big budget Hollywood Godzilla movies can be made, but I'm not worried about that. They could make a new one every year, and it would still be awesome. Because Godzilla.

What is Bitcoin?

Now that we have at least one brick-and-mortar establishment (the Volstead Act bar) in Spokane that accepts bitcoin as currency, it's probably a good time to explain what it is and how you use it.

 

Short answer:

Bitcoin is magic internet money that you use like PayPal.

Long answer:

Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency that enables secure peer-to-peer transactions over the internet. Think of it as similar to PayPal, but much more secure and independent of institutional oversight.

All official government currency runs through a centralized bank such as the US Federal Reserve or the Bank of England, giving those institutions the power to control the flow and valuation of money by adding or removing it from circulation and setting other financial regulations regarding it.

Being a decentralized currency means that there is no single source of control over bitcoins or the Bitcoin network. No government, corporation or entity has the power to regulate or control it, for good or for bad. Instead, bitcoins are controlled through a globally distributed computer network that processes and regulates the flow of bitcoins, based on an open-source protocol and software that is freely available for anyone to review or modify.

This means that a bitcoin “here” in the US is worth the same to you as it is to someone in Argentina, Iran or Greece, and isn't subject to the instability or authoritarian nature of those country's governments. Bitcoin isn't guaranteed to be a stable currency — in fact it fluctuates wildly all the time — it is simply independent of central governmental controls.

Being a cryptocurrency means that Bitcoin is a digital currency based on secure cryptographic science. A person gets a public key, or “wallet,” which is a really long unique id number like

13Sb4FnsYHQoQiYdkWBRQfNULFMVbbARAz

that is the public address used for transactions. Matched with that public key is an even longer unique private key, like a person's unique signature, that is used to verify transactions.

Just like an email address, anyone can transfer money to a public address, but only the person with the private key is capable of transferring money out from it. Without the exact public/private key pair, the funds can never be compromised or retrieved, and unlike email, there is no password reset.

Every transaction with on the Bitcoin network is permanently recorded in a public ledger called the “block chain,” which keeps track of all transactions associated with a public key, and is the network's method of preventing fraud or counterfeiting.

Because transactions are only recorded as being between two or more public addresses, and addresses can't be directly linked to an individual (unless they have published it somewhere or otherwise created a record of it), the Bitcoin marketplace itself is considered anonymous. However, the transactions themselves are subject to the same limitations inherent to all secure internet traffic, including network tracing and IP address logging.

Bitcoins and the Bitcoin network aren't illegal in the US or elsewhere (for now), but the transactions themselves might be. For example, bitcoins have been used to illicitly purchase drugs or firearms and have been used to keep financial transactions off of the IRS' radar, but the same could be said of Federally issued money also.

There undoubtedly will be legislation that attempts to govern it here in the US and abroad, but it seems unlikely that it will be made completely illegal.

For more information about Bitcoin, check out http://bitcoin.org/.

If you want to see the exchange rate of BTC to USD, Mt. Gox is the largest and most reputable exchange marketplace on the internet.

Follow Friday

Sometimes I find Twitter accounts that are just too awesome to not share. Here are a few of my faves:

 

How to add Spokesman.com to your mobile desktop

What's that? You got yourself a brand spankin' new phone for a gift? You'll probably be playing with it for the next 24-36 hours straight, without sleep, without showering, muttering “grph moar apps” under your breath like a downtown hobo grumbling about aluminum cans.

Whilst in the middle of your new phone activation / moar apps hysteria, a gentle voice of wisdom and knowledge (I imagine Cate Blanchett, but you might prefer Morgan Freeman) whispers in your ear:

“Dearest loyal Spokesman-Review reader, don't forget to add spokesman.com to your mobile desktop as a bookmark, so you can access the most rad daily newspaper in Spokane, 24/7.”

With that, here is how you can add spokesman.com to your mobile desktop on a number of devices. It's actually quite simple.

(Beware, thar be .gifs ahead.)

STEP ONE

Go to www.spokesman.com. Since you're probably on the site right now, you should open a new tab or window so that I don't go away. You might end up on m.spokesman.com if you're on mobile, but the process is the same whether you're on a tablet device or phone.

STEP TWO

Follow the easy to understand .gifs below for your appropriate device

iPhone

iPad

Android

STEP THREE

Drink cocoa. With some of those tiny crunchie marshmallows, which, I dunno. I don't think they're actually marshmallows. I think they stole the ingredients for those from the Lucky Charms factory, and they should expect an angry leprechaun on their doorstep any day now.

Thanks to Toyota 4x4 lover Patrick Hanley for the Android screenshots and Kaitlin Gillespie for the iPhone shots.

Browser slowing down?

Take this as a warning kids, I'm a professional.

If your computer is running slowly, and you're using Firefox, Chrome, Safari or that other one, the problem is probably in your computer's fleshware*, and I have a bugfix for you. But first, the problem.

So sometimes I like to keep a lot of tabs open. And when I say sometimes, I mean always. And when I mean a lot, well:


I mean a lot.

And that does horrible things to your computer, especially when you are accidentally running all this:

You see that number under “Real Mem”? Notice how it says 2.15 GB? That means you are using $12,480 worth of memory (if this were the year 2000) JUST for your browser pig. (I should fork Firefox and rename it that. Browser Pig.) Having all those browsers and Illustrator open at the same time doesn't help. I'm actually proud and surprised that Photoshop wasn't on that list as well.

Anyway, I have a bugfix that will solve your problems:

STOP IT

* That's computer nerd speak for “user error,” meaning it's actually *your* fault, not the computer's.

A few of my favorite Spokesman things

The Spokesman-Review has been printing the local news for 130 years, but in the past few years we've been able to stretch out a bit on the web with cool features that you can only find online at spokesman.com.

As the new guy here I'm still discovering different features of the site that I didn't know about, so I put together a list of a few of these features. Check them out:

Link: Letters

The Spokesman-Review prides itself on printing an exceptionally high amount of letters to the editor. Our letters page lets you read all of our most recently published letters and gives you a handy place to submit your own letter to the editor (sadly, not available via mobile. Yet.) Oh, and don't forget to read the Spokesman-Review's editorial pieces too.

Link: Then and Now

Francis and N Division

As someone with a deep love of history, I think my actual favorite feature of our site is the Then and Now section. It's hard to describe what Spokane looked like 25, 50 or 100 years ago, so why not let the photo archives of the Spokesman-Review do it for you? We have so many great photos of Spokane that our archives are a real treasure for the community.

Link: Twitter

You might be aware of us on Twitter as @spokesmanreview, but did you know we have a whole range of reporters, editors and generally good-natured newspaper folks who maintain active Twitter accounts? Check us out! As a side note, I need to figure out how to get my favorite account (@dangayle) listed on there.

Links: Feeds & Newsletters

If feed readers are your thing, we've sliced and diced spokesman.com into numerous different RSS feeds for you to consume. You can also subscribe to a custom email newsletter to get your news in your inbox. Follow stories by topic or check out our blogs, whichever way you want.

Link: e-Edition

Want to see the *actual* newspaper online, in its original paper presentation? Check out our e-edition, an alternate version of the Spokesman-Review online.

Links: Audio & Video

Admittedly, as a newspaper we don't do too much audio/video (it's a tad hard to print), but when we do, it goes here on spokesman.com.

Link: Soundslides

Speaking of audio, our Soundslides feature is criminally underutilized, but it makes for such great story telling that I have to include it here. The most recent soundslide has fantastic photography from Kathy Plonka along with audio of the septuagenarians in their own words. Speaking personally, would I normally spend much time reading a story about septuagenarians? No. But presented in this manner, I thoroughly enjoyed it. You will too.

Link: Data

At data.spokesman.com we try to put out information and data that might not otherwise be publicly accessible or useable. If you have ideas for a project, let us know.

Link: Today

Because the news is always flowing, sometimes it's a little hard to find an article that was in the print edition. That's where the Today feature on spokesman.com comes in handy. Every story and article that is published in the paper is organized into one easy to scan place. Everyone at the paper itself use this feature extensively.


That's all I have for now, but keep your eyes on this space. 2014 should introduce some new features to spokesman.com, some small and some big. Really big :)

Fonts.com Fontacular sale (last day)

You need to buy some of these fonts today from Fonts.com Fontacular Sale, which ends today. Some of them are darn good deals. I purchased Freight Display, because the Freight family is amazing and I need to start somewhere. This one is a headline font, useful in similar contexts to the Chronicle typeface used by the Spokesman, but sharper and a touch more oldstyle and with a much, much quirkier Italic.

I'm also considering purchasing some of the following:

Mundo Sans, which is an incredibly understated humanist sans that can and should replace any use of Gill Sans someone tries to foist onto you. This one is a real workhorse sans-serif and it's so transparent and easy to read that it makes one of the best body copy text faces you'll ever use.

Bodoni Egyptian is a historical fiction designed by Nick Shinn, who does a lot of bespoke newspaper typefaces. You will not find a more knowledgeable and discerning type designer on the planet, IMO. This one is a re-imagining of Bodoni as a monoline square-serifed Egyptian, which has an elegant yet rugged feel.

There are a few others in there that are really great also, so if you were in the market, there's something for everything. The ones I picked aren't sexy by any means, but they are serious workhorses that will stand up under the harshest of scrutiny and give your designs real street-cred amongst the font Illuminati.

Google autosuggest A to Z

For giggles, I decided to see what Google autosuggested for the phrase “is <insert letter here>.” Here are the results:

google autosuggestion for is a google autosuggestion for is b google autosuggestion for is c google autosuggestion for is d google autosuggestion for is e google autosuggestion for is f google autosuggestion for is g google autosuggestion for is h google autosuggestion for is i google autosuggestion for is j google autosuggestion for is k google autosuggestion for is l google autosuggestion for is m google autosuggestion for is n google autosuggestion for is o google autosuggestion for is p google autosuggestion for is q google autosuggestion for is r google autosuggestion for is s google autosuggestion for is t google autosuggestion for is u google autosuggestion for is v google autosuggestion for is w google autosuggestion for is x google autosuggestion for is y google autosuggestion for is z

My thoughts:

Must be chemistry finals?

Does no one wonder about the women celebrities?

The answer is to the question “Is 'vaping' safe” is: You look stupid.

Lastly, darn that pesky gluten.

Man of Steel vs Batman Comic Con reveal

I hadn't watched this until today, but if you're going to reveal to the world that Batman is going to be the, uh, villain? in the next Man of Steel movie, you couldn't do a better job than how Zach Snyder and Harry Lennix announced it at Comic Con 2013.

If you haven't read the Dark Knight Returns graphic novel (not to be confused with the Dark Knight Rises movie, which isn't related at all), you seriously need to get up, go down to Merlyn's, find a copy and READ IT. It's not only considered one of the greatest graphic novels ever, it's an even tossup between it and the Watchmen as *the* greatest. The art is great, the story is great, and the EPIC dual between Batman and Superchump is EPIC.

“I want you to remember, Clark…

in all the years to come…

in your most private moments…

I want you to remember…

my hand…

at your throat…

I want…

you to remember…

 

the one man who beat you.”

The movie won't be the Dark Knight Returns, but if they can capture some of the essence of that classic, the next Man of Steel movie will be awesome. I loved the first one, so I'm really excited to see how they manage to do justice to the two duking it out.

In a side note, apparently Wonder Woman will be in the movie too, because Justice League.

EDIT:

Snap. I also forgot to mention that it's in the Dark Knight Returns that you get to see the conclusion to the lifelong feud between Batman v. Joker.

“No, Joker. You're playing the wrong game. The old game. Tonight you're taking no hostages. Tonight I'm taking no prisoners.”

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Online developer Dan Gayle's musings about all things in the world of 1s and 0s.

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