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The Tech Deck

The most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen

This is the most amazing Kickstarter project ever. No words are needed to describe the awesome.

For more details, and to sign up for the (ALREADY FUNDED!) Kickstarter, check out the Bunch O Balloons campaign page here.

A collection of the best drops ever

I'm a big fan of electronic music, so I thought I'd share with you this collection of the best drops ever. It is a very serious thing, these drops, and I am a very serious person.

If those drops are too mega for you, perhaps this remix of the lovely soft rock song Baker Street by DJ DETWEILER will be more to your liking:

 

NEO Scavenger: A brutally hard survival game for Steam

It's a brutal, turn-based Rogue-like game with no save points and no mercy.

I still haven't survived longer than a few hours before I die from a traumatic head wound or massive internal bleeding. Like some nightmare version of Groundhog's Day, I start over again every time, awakening from my cryogenic slumber into a post-apocalyptic world filled with nightmarish creatures and anarchy.

And I love it.

NEO Scavenger by Blue Bottle Games, available on Steam, is a post-apocalyptic survival game reminiscent of the early Fallout games. You wake up in nothing more than a hospital gown, a wrist strap with your name on it, a mysterious bronze necklace around your neck, and a fierce Dogman about to eat you.

After defeating the Dogman, you go outside the Cryo facility and walk around, scavenging whatever you can from the landscape. And then you die from hypothermia before you make it 10 squares away.

Game over.

This time, you find some clothing first. But now you're thirsty, and there's a spring right over there with plenty of water. And then you die from diarrhea.

Game over.

This time, you find some clothing first, find a tin can or a cooking pot to boil the water in, and you happily start scavenging for loot from the nearby abandoned homes. Ooh look, you found a rifle. No bullets though. Ah, who is this person approaching? Then you die from massive internal bleeding from being stabbed in the gut with a primitive wooden spear. (Don't worry, the game is largely text-based, so there are no graphic depictions of violence.)

Game over.

59 hours in, and I'm nowhere even close to surviving. I've only just recently made it to the point where I figured out what I used to do for a living before whatever cataclysmic event destroyed what is apparently the Detroit, MI area.

59 hours in, and I'm nowhere even close to putting the game down.

You can find NEO Scavenger on Steam or Blue Bottle Game's website

Vasoconstriction: Pitting man against woman since the Garden of Eden

If you haven't noticed, Summer is in full swing, and that means that the eternal struggle between the sexes over the A/C is also heating up. While not particularly a “tech” thing, I was curious if there was any science behind why women prefer the heat of a thousand blazing suns over the crisp, cool air graciously bestowed upon us by the marvelous air conditioning unit (arguably the most important technological invention since the discovery of electricity.)

Essentially, female people-types always feel colder than men people-types due to a biological process called vasoconstriction. When a persons skin feels cold, the body automatically diverts bloodflow from the outer extremities toward the vital organs.

Ostensibly, it's better to protect your liver than your pinkie fingers when the temperature drops to dangerous levels, but for some people (e.g., every woman on the planet who has ever driven in a car with me), vasoconstriction will begin to take effect upon even the faintest breezes.

Scientists say it's a hormone/reproductive health thing, biologically related to protecting fetuses from the cold. Estrogen regulates the blood vessels within the female body, so as the tides ebb and flow… So goes my air conditioning.

Maybe it is punishment upon mankind for all those centuries of forcing women to stand in front of a hot oven baking delicious, delicious cookies. In any case, it's not a mental thing, which renders my usual argument in favor of the blessed cool wind completely without merit. Thanks a lot, science.

All of that science leaves us with only two viable options, which may be chosen upon your discretion:

Option A) Wear a hoodie.

Option B) Allow me to ride a bear through a river while shirtless.

–-

Also note, vasoconstriction is also at play in E.D., which nothing in my email spam folder has ever indicated. Science.

Adobe releases Source Serif Pro to the public

Adobe just recently released three weights of their new Source Serif Pro to the public under the SIL Open Font License, and I couldn't be happier.

I am a self-avowed font nerd, and I'm super stoked to see that Adobe is continuing to add to their Source Pro family. Source Code Pro is the type that I use in my source code editors here in the newsroom and Source Sans Pro is the type that I use on my personal blog (that I also rarely update), so you could say I'm a big fan of the typeface.

It isn't flashy, but it certainly has the characteristics of some of the more venerable workhorse serifs of all time, including Charter, Utopia and the ever present Times New Roman. To my eye, it comes across as a cross-breed between Times and Charter (which was confirmed by the announcement on Adobe's Typekit blog.) The matching Italics are on the way, but I expect them to be excellent as well.

Source Serif Pro is free to download and distribute, and is available via their Github page here: http://adobe.github.io/source-serif-pro/

Embedding a Tweet

My name is Dan

I am teaching some journalism students some HTML/CSS at Eastern Washington University. Specifically, I'm embedding a tweet. Right here. Like below this. Can you see it? That's an embedded tweet.

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:

 

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