Archive for January, 2008

Hacktivism, In Sync?

You’ve probably seen the Sync system being offered on certain new automobiles, where voice commands control your stereo, cellphone, et cetera. As demonstrated in one annoying commercial, the Sync system apparently will respond to any voice, not just that of the owner or driver.

This gets me to wondering: Will the Sync recognize commands from the radio? If a DJ were to say, for example, “Play Artist: Queen”, would it have the expected results on people listening in a car with Sync, and media players with Queen albums? If so, this seems like a great – if irritating – outlet for hacktivists; rather than calling up Rush Limbaugh and teasing him for being a chickenhawk, maybe Mike Stark should try and get on the air to say “Call boss”, or “Play Artist: Dixie Chicks”…

Come on, someone must have tried this by now, right?

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on January 31st, 2008 | No Comments »

A Dirty Little Secret

At the risk of sounding like linkbait, I have a pretty neat secret that can save you hundreds of dollars – no, not on car insurance, but on more tangible goods. It’s something that seems incredibly obvious once you think about it, but has been a real eye-opener to people I’ve spoken with. A warning, though: If you’re predisposed to impulsive, spur-of-the-moment online purchases, you might want to avoid the rest of this post; your bank account will thank you for it.

There are thousands of people willing to sell you the “secrets” of making money on eBay – but, a couple years ago, I latched on to the “secret” is about saving money on that popular auction website. In a nutshell, it’s this:
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 31st, 2008 | No Comments »

In America, Even the Vehicles are Overweight

As the military drags its feet in procuring better-armored vehicle designs to protect soldiers and Marines from today’s fundamentally crude yet apparently still cutting-edge threats, the interim solution has been to up-armor existing vehicles – namely the HMMWV family of utility vehicles. I say interim solution, but let’s be honest – the current plan is that the venerable HMMWV will soldier on for at least another decade in front-line service, and probably longer than that in reserve duty.

All this protection comes at a price – not just the financial one, but a physical one – armor weighs a lot, and in the rush to give HMMWVs better and better armor, nobody stopped to look at the vehicle’s weight ratings. Well, until recently…
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, Security | on January 30th, 2008 | No Comments »

An Advertiser-Supported Publishing Model

Every day, close to a pound of newprint, much of it covered with four-color printing, is delivered to my doorstep – in one of the most inefficient and labor-intensive ways possible – for something like $0.25 USD. To produce it, scores of well-paid employees labor twenty-four hours a day.

Locally, the retail price of this daily wad of paper has increased just once in the last decade, and at least in some cases the per-day cost of long-term subscriptions has actually decreased.

That’s the newspaper, though. The rest of the publishing world hasn’t followed suit.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment »

FCC Complaints

The resourceful folks at Government Attic have come up with some interesting stuff, thanks to their use of the Freedom of Information Act. It’s a relatively new site, but they’re updating every couple of days – and over the weekend, added copies of complaints received by the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, about a bunch of shows – including South Park, The Daily Show, and Sex and the City, among others.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General, History | on January 28th, 2008 | 1 Comment »