I don’t normally pass along virus alerts because they are often outdated and obsolete, but this one is strait from my IBM inbox. You may have heard about a virus that is set to strike on April 1st in the news recently. It is called Conficker.C and you can read more about how it works by visiting these addresses:
As stated in the links above, the virus takes advantage of a buffer-overflow vulnerability of certain server services on Windows based machines. Microsoft issued an update (MS08-067) for Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2 & SP3, and Vista to patch this hole back in October of last year. So if you have installed all available Windows updates you should be fine and not need to worry. It is highly recommended you install all available updates if you have not done so lately. To force your PC to check for available updates, click Start>All Programs>Windows Update and follow the on-screen instructions.
If your computer is directly connected to the Internet it is advised that you have a quality software firewall installed and blocking unexpected inbound traffic. A comparison of free firewall software can be found here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-firewall.htm
In addition you should also have a quality anti-virus software solution in place. Any of the following will suffice:
You’re walking through the entertainment department at your local shopping center and pick up a DVD that you’d like to see. You scan the bar code on the back of the DVD with your cell phones camera. By the time you get home, the movie you looked at while shopping has already been downloaded to your PC. Check this video out to see how it works:
It goes without saying that downloading a movie illegally via bittorrent is probably going to piss the MPAA off. But if they’re smart about this, they could actually take the concept of scan-to-download idea and turn it into a big money maker. There’s probably plenty of people who would purchase a digital download of a movie if it were offered to them at a reasonable price. Just take a look at iTunes or Amazon offering DRM-free MP3 merchandise. You might even take a look at what Valve Software did with Steam recently: They cut the price of Left 4 Dead by 50% and noticed a 3000% increase in sales. Ultimately it just goes to show that there is an ever increasing number of people who want to purchase digital merchandise and they’re willing to pay for it as long as it’s not overpriced. I could even see movies being offered up for free with commercials inserted in a hulu.com style.
Anyway, cool app for a cell phone to say the least. Thought for pirates, it would be kind of like saying, “Hey. As if my IP address weren’t enough information, here’s my phone number too.”
This is what you get when you combine a portable video projector, a camera and a cell phone that has access to the Internet and the ability to process visual information for you. Simply amazing! Click on the video below to see a demonstration.
As cool as this technology is, I have to say that I think it’s already up against some stiff competition from smart phones like the Google Phone and the iPhone. For instance, the video shows a demo of evaluating different kinds of paper towels for the user so they can pick out the one that is the most environmentally friendly. A somewhat similar application that already exists on the Google Phone (and others before it in Japan) is a program that allows you to use the built-in camera to scan the products UPC barcode, which would then give you an instant price check for that product at local stores and even through online merchants.
It would take little effort to expand the capabilities of the above smart phone application to allow for sorting of the search results to be prioritized for other criteria besides price.
The key feature that the projector/camera technology does have that you can’t easily do with a cell phone is the ability to project visual data onto any surface and interact with it in 3D space via hand gestures. While there are a lot of unique uses for this, a drawback of this is that you are required to have a usable surface in front of you in the first place, and I think (for now) the LCD screen of a smart phone has the upper hand in that department. For instance, you could be walking down a street at high noon and look at a building (like some sort of historical landmark) but not have a usable surface to project meta-data on to (although I suppose something could be read to you through an ear piece). On a cell phone, the screen is much more visible in nearly any lighting and given further software development, all kinds of information could be overlayed onto a camera captured video stream as seen below:
The end goal in both of these technologies is pretty strait forward: Overlay relevant information on top of the real world. And between these two technologies, I have to say that I think smart phones still have the upper hand… for now. Even though smart phones don’t have the freedom of using hand gestures to operate your phone, it could be argued that multi-touch screens are comparable (for things like zooming on maps, photos, etc.).
What I think the real knockout advantage of a cell phone (besides the fact that an LCD screen works as a better display surface than most real life objects) is the fact that information is presented to you in a more private, personal fashion. If you were to have personal information projected out, anybody nearby could eavesdrop on whatever is being shown to you. For example, you wouldn’t want your online bank statement to be projected on to a wall when you’re surrounded by strangers at an airport. It’s more personal to have such things confined to a smalls screen that you have more control over. Then again, the idea is to use a cell phone as the core processor of the system, so in the event you have to look something personal up that you don’t want projected, you would just take your phone out of your pocket and do whatever it is that you need to do.
A bold prediction is made at the very end of the first video: That we will one day have the ability to augment digital information on reality through some kind of brain implant. While such a wild technology is still a long ways away, it will likely occur within a couple decades time and the development of this is only the first of several steps towards a technology we once thought to be impossible.
There’s no need for me to write a description about this as there are dozens of Youtube videos up right now showing off this cool trick. Like this one:
If you want to try this out for yourself you’ll need a webcam and you have to visit this website. And yes, I realize how ironic it is to have a campaign that hails the greatness of renewable energy asking you to waste a piece of paper to play with a little 3D model of some windmills. At least you can recycle that paper.
The only annoying thing about this is if you want to look at your little augmented reality up close, which requires putting the paper closer to the webcam… which can be tricky:
As demonstrated above, you can clearly see that there is a little scarecrow standing among the windmills. Or maybe you can’t see because the paper is directly between you and your monitor!!! Damn it!
I was browsing reddit.com and came across a link to a blog someone else wrote recently listing 50 very nice downloadable themes that you can install on Ubuntu. You’ll find that blog by clicking here. It has a nice clean listing with screenshots of all the themes that give you a very good glance at several themes in a short amount of time.
Unfortunately for new users, that’s all this blog contains. What it doesn’t really tell you is how to change your theme or install any of the ones available for download. (Correction: The post actually does have a screenshot showing you how to access your theme settings). So I wanted to help out new users with doing this. Here’s how it’s done:
Download the theme; you’re looking for a “GTK” theme.
You’ll typically end up downloading either a zip file or a tar.gz file. If it’s a zip file, you need to look for a tar.gz file within the zip. The tar.gz files are usually the actual theme itself, which are often bundled with other non-critical files, like a readme.txt file that you can open seperately.
Right-click on the desktop and click “Change Desktop Background”. Once open, click the Theme tab at the top-left.
Click the Install… button in the lower right, browse for and select the downloaded tar.gz file, and click Open.
That should do it. If it doesn’t look back at the package file you downloaded for a bundled readme.txt or similar file that might detail special installation instructions. If there wasn’t a text file like this included or your can’t find one, there might be one the web page you got the theme from.
Another think it doesn’t tell you is how to run Conky. What’s Conky? Conky is a customizable system monitor. You know — something that tells you your CPU/memory usage, temperatures, HD activity stats and other geeky things most humans don’t care about. Here’s a one screenshot with Conky running on the right side:
You can install Conky by clicking System>Administration>Synaptic Package Manager. Then search for conky, mark it for installation and click apply. You can then run conky from terminal by typing “conky” in. You can also have it run automatically at login by clicking System>Preferences>Sessions, clicking Add, and just type “conky” (no quotes) into the Command box. There are also config files for conky people have made in their spare time that you can download to save you the trouble of reading the manual and making conky into something uber nerdy looking. A HUGEthread on Ubuntu Forums can be found here that has a TON of files with screenshots you can browse over for different looks and themes.
Finally, the last thing that’s not talked about in the above mentioned blog is how to install a dockbar, like the one at the bottom of screenshots like this:
Check out this guide to read more about installing one of these things.
Lastly, it’s highly recommended you have compiz enabled, if possible. Otherwise you will probably have problems with themes that look best with customized transparency of certain things, and the same goes for dockbars.