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The Cylons Are Toast!

I enjoy SciFi shows like Dr. Who, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.  I found this item for sale on www.scifi.com.  At $65 it’s a toaster that will toast the image of a cylon on your bread, pop tart, whatever.

This very Limited-Edition Battlestar Galactica Toaster is a San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive and one-of-a-kind.



Whether we like it or not, we all have to make time to do things, and sometimes that’s not very easy to do. Each additional person that gets involved in your plans makes those plans more complicated because you may have to make adjustments in order to work with their schedule. I’ve had so many meetings lately that I feel like I’m starting to lose track of them all. So far I’ve been able to keep all of the meeting time details in my memory, but it’s the process of trying to set those times up with other people that really wears me out. With Presdo, making time to do things with other people doesn’t have to be so complicated.

When you first arrive at the Presdo home page, you’re going to think that it’s a search engine, but don’t worry, it’s not. All you have to do is type in the initial details about what you want to make time to do, and once you’ve done that, you can then fill in the rest of the details and invite others. If the time that you’ve suggested isn’t good for your guests, they have the ability to suggest other times, and you’ll be able to use that information to make a final decision.

Surf Canyon for Firefox v1.1

Ever wonder if there is anything useful past page one of your search results? When your search returns thousands, sometimes millions, of results, there has to be something good out there. There is, and Surf Canyon will go and get it for you. It is a tiny browser extension that helps you find relevant information buried in the search results on Google, Yahoo!, MSN Live Search, or craigslist.

[20.23K] [WinXP/Vista + Firefox] [FREE]

Get Better Gmail 2 For – Better Gmail

If you use Gmail in the “new version” you should take a good look at Better Gmail 2, an interface package put together with Greasemonkey user scripts by Gina Trapani.  Originally available on Lifehacker, it is now an official Mozilla extension for Firefox 3.

Better Gmail 2 offers a number of enhancements, including

  • Force Gmail to make an encrypted connection (HTTPS)
  • Move the inbox count to the top of the sidebar lists
  • Add neat row highlights on mouseover
  • Show appropriate icons for email attachments
  • Filter assistant to help create filters quickly
  • Message details shown automatically with each message if you like
  • Reply above the item you’re replying to
  • Full html signatures, including colors and rich text
  • Show BCC, CC by hot key or automatically when opening Compose Mail
  • A hierarchical folder system based on the label system (really saves space and organizes the labels box)
  • The ability to hide chat, ihe invitation box and spam count
  • Select three different skins, or none (try the snazzy Redesigned number)
  • Advanced stuff if you want to write some macros

Several of these, especially HTML signatures, have been long needed in Gmail, and this is a painless way to get them.  Remember, though, that it is a Firefox add-on (extension), and will only be available on machines that have it installed along with Firefox.  If you want it whenever you need it, you will have to make sure it’s installed on all the computers you normally use.  Fortunately, it’s as easy to install as any other Fx extension.Check it out.

Hyper-V Now Available For Windows Server

Microsoft has released Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008, which is the company’s hypervisor virtualization platform. With it, you get multi-OS, highly-configurable and performance virtualized hardware capabilities on the Windows platform.

Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, the next-generation hypervisor-based server virtualization technology, allows you to make the best use of your server hardware investments by consolidating multiple server roles as separate virtual machines (VMs) running on a single physical machine. With Hyper-V, you can also efficiently run multiple different operating systems — Windows, Linux, and others — in parallel, on a single server, and fully leverage the power of x64 computing.

For additional information, you might want to check out a RunAs Radio episode that Richard Campbell and I published back in April, when we spoke with Anil Desai on the topic of Hyper-V. Anil compared Hyper-V to ESX Server from VMWare and discussed the Microsoft offering in some detail.


Early Earthquake Warning: New Tools Show Promise

Using remarkably sensitive new instruments, seismologists have detected minute geological changes that preceded small earthquakes along California’s famed San Andreas Fault by as much as 10 hours. If follow-up tests show that the preseismic signal is pervasive, researchers say the method could form the basis of a robust early warning system for impending quakes.

The research appears this week in the journal Nature.

"We’re working with colleagues in China and Japan on follow-up studies to determine whether this physical response can be measured in other seismically active regions," said Rice University seismologist Fenglin Niu, the study’s lead author. "Provided the effect is pervasive, we still need to learn more about the timing of the signals if we are to reliably use them to warn of impending quakes."

Today’s state-of-the-art earthquake warning systems give only a few seconds’ warning before a quake strikes. These systems detect P-waves, the fastest moving seismic waves released during a quake. Like a flash of lightning that arrives before a clap of thunder, the fast-moving P-waves precede slower moving but more destructive waves.

Findings from the new study indicate that the stresses measured by the new instruments precede the temblor itself, so a warning system using the new technology would be fundamentally different from current warning systems.

"Detecting stress changes before an earthquake has been the Holy Grail in earthquake seismology for years and has motivated our research," said study co-author Paul Silver of the Carnegie Institution of Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. "Researchers have been trying to precisely and continuously measure these velocity changes for decades, but it has been possible only recently, with improved technology, to obtain the necessary precision and reliability."

In experiments near Parkfield, Calif., in late 2005 and early 2006, Niu, Silver and colleagues from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) gathered two months of measurements at the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth, or SAFOD, a deep well seismologists use to make direct measurements of the fault.

The team installed a high-precision seismic source made by a stack of donut-shaped piezoelectric ceramic cylinders that expand when voltage is applied — a sophisticated device akin to a stereo speaker — about one kilometer beneath the surface. At the same depth in an adjacent well, the scientists set up an accelerometer to measure the rhythmic signals from the source device.

When rocks are compressed, the stress forces air out of tiny cracks in the rock. This causes seismic waves to travel slightly faster through the rock. Niu said the variations are so slight they can be measured only with very precise instruments. For example, though the Parkfield instruments were more than a half mile below ground, the setup was sensitive enough to measure fluctuations in air pressure at the Earth’s surface.

"Scientists tried as early as the 1970s to measure changes in wave speed that are associated with the stress changes that precede seismic activity," Niu said. "For a variety of reasons, their measurements were inconclusive. Using the precision instruments built by our collaborators at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with new signal enhancement techniques, we were able to reach the fine level of precision required."

In analyzing the seismic data, Niu and colleagues found that a distinct change occurred in the rock before each of the minor earthquakes near Parkfield during the test period. A measurable change preceded a magnitude 3 quake on Christmas Eve 2005 by 10 hours. This was the largest local event during the observation period. A smaller but closer magnitude 1 temblor five days later was preceded by a signal about two hours before the quake.

[David Ruth @ Rice University]


Encryption Technologies In Vista Part II

EFS is primarily intended to protect the file system on a computer that is not physically secure. For example, a server kept behind locked doors that has no removable storage devices is not a likely candidate for EFS, as someone would have to break into your server room, remove the drive(s), and get out without being caught if they wanted to steal the information on the drives (assuming you’ve protected the data adequately from network-borne attacks.) However, systems that are physically insecure are a candidate for EFS.

For example, any notebook that contains company-sensitive data should use encryption to protect its contents. Consider the thefts in recent years of notebook computers-many of which contained sensitive information-from government employees in public airports and even government offices, and you can appreciate the need to protect your own portable data.

Protecting notebooks is just one use for EFS. Desktop systems that are publicly accessible, such as those in public offices, courtrooms, government offices, and other locations where the public has access to systems and where the systems contain sensitive or private information, should be protected by EFS to prevent data theft and the potential embarrassment, legal trouble, or even loss of business that could ensue. In the server realm, removable storage devices such as Storage Area Network (SAN) devices that contain sensitive data should be protected through encryption. It only takes one unscrupulous or disgruntled employee to hand a drive over to your competition to destroy your company.

Encrypting individual files is certainly a start, but that doesn’t really provide the level of security you might need. Applications typically create temporary files containing at least portions of a document, and if these files are not protected by encryption, they pose a security risk. So, rather than look to solutions that provide file-by-file encryption or encrypting individual files with EFS, you need a solution that can automatically encrypt and decrypt files in an entire folder or volume. EFS does just that.

So how do these two technologies work together? EFS comes into play after Windows boots up, while BitLocker works before Windows and seamlessly operates beneath the operating system. EFS works on the file system level and encrypts at the file level based on user permissions and PKI-protected session keys; BitLocker is a low-level mechanism that encrypts an entire volume and is oblivious to the concept of users and PKI. This means that EFS offers high-level manageability, while BitLocker operates at a low level without the manageability features–but it can protect those spots EFS can’t. Files encrypted by EFS can’t be cracked, although the filename and directory structure is not protected. The Windows partition encrypted by BitLocker is completely scrambled so you can’t even tell what the filename and directory structure is.


NuYu Allows You To Create Custom Wii Avatars

Data Design Interactive, a successful video games publisher and games developer, today unveiled NuYu editor lets you put yourself in the game by creating customisable characters that fit your personality. You can then use those characters in compatible NuYu games and even save them to your Wii Remote to take to a friend’s house.

About NuYu

A NuYu (pronounced New-You) is a customisable player character editor exclusive for our Popcorn Arcade Wii range. NuYu’s are customisable and allow the user to capture a likeness, caricature or personality of themselves and others. After creating them, they can be used as participating characters in NuYu compatible games.

The NuYu Editor will be first featured in our soon to be released Kidz Sports — Crazy Mini Golf.

NuYu’s are created through the NuYu Editor. After specifying a gender for the NuYu, the user can alter the shape of the NuYu’s head, its eyes, hair, eyebrows, nose, and mouth. In addition, the creator can give the NuYu glasses or facial hair as he/she desires, or give the face wrinkles, makeup or rosey cheeks, you can also add glasses and other accessories.

Many of the features can be fine-tuned by adjusting their size, position, and rotation to the center of the NuYu’s face. Furthermore using the on-screen keyboard, the creator can name the NuYu. NuYu’s have no impact on the actual gameplay, other than to identify a player visually in another way besides name. NuYu’s are intended to be an extension of the player, and in keeping with the Popcorn Arcade spirit of ‘Family Family Fun’, the user will be able to use their NuYu’s in future Data Design titles for the Wii.


Enabling The Magnifier In Windows Vista

Windows Vista includes different features that make it easier for people with vision impairments to use the operating system. One such feature is known as the Magnifier. You can use this feature to enlarge the screen so it is easier to read. The Magnifier works by enlarging a portion of the screen as it is being displayed. The feature is intended for those users who have slight vision problems.

You can open the Magnifier by clicking Start, typing Magnifier and pressing Enter. You will notice that as you move your mouse around your desktop, a portion of the screen is magnified. From the Magnified Settings dialog box, you can control the Magnification level. You can also configure tracking settings such as if you want the magnifier to follow your mouse cursor, follow your keyboard strokes, and follow your text editing.

10 People Killed By New CJD-Like Disease

A new form of fatal dementia has been discovered in 16 Americans, 10 of whom have already died of the condition. It resembles Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — with patients gradually losing their ability to think, speak and move — but has features that make it distinct from known forms of CJD.

No one yet knows how the disease originates, or under what conditions it might spread. Nor is it clear how many people have the condition. "I believe the disease has been around for many years, unnoticed," says Pierluigi Gambetti, director of the US National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Cases may previously have been mistaken for other forms of dementia.

Since Gambetti’s team wrote a paper describing an initial 11 cases referred to his centre between 2002 and 2006 (Annals of Neurology, vol 63, p 697), another five have come to light. "So it is possible that it could be just the tip of the iceberg," Gambetti says.

As in other spongiform encephalopathies, such as CJD and mad cow disease (BSE), the brain tissue of victims is full of tiny holes. This damage is thought to be caused by the accumulation of prions, misfolded versions of a brain protein called PrP that can convert normal PrP molecules into their own misshapen form.

Some features of the new disease are different, however. All known disease-causing prions resist degradation by proteases — enzymes which digest the normal form of PrP. But prions from patients with the new disease are broken down by the enzymes.

Some very rare forms of CJD run in families and are caused by mutations in the gene for PrP. Six of the cases described in Gambetti’s paper were from families with a history of dementia, suggesting a genetic cause. However, these people had no mutations in their PrP genes. "Maybe there are other genes that have an influence on the disease," suggests James Ironside of the UK’s National CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh.

Most forms of CJD develop spontaneously, for unknown reasons, but can be spread if someone is exposed to brain material from people with CJD, for instance, by neurosurgery using inadequately sterilised instruments.

One variant of CJD has been linked to the consumption of contaminated meat from cattle with mad cow disease. If the new condition is similarly caused by something in the victims’ diet, or another environmental cause, new measures might be needed to protect public health.

Gambetti is now conducting experiments in mice to see how the disease is transmitted. He suspects that there is no cause for alarm. "I believe the disease occurs naturally, and is not due to environmental causes," he says.

[Claire Bowles @ New Scientist]