Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Google finally hides passwords from snoopers in new builds of Chromium

Google’s Chrome team recently came under fire for its long-held practice of making saved passwords visible in plain text. If you hand your computer to a friend or leave it unguarded and unlocked, the friend or a passerby could go into Chrome’s settings and view any website passwords you’ve saved without typing in your system password.

Chrome still makes passwords viewable in plain text by default, but the latest build of Chromium for Mac—the open source browser from which Chrome draws its code—gives users a new way to protect their passwords. If you type chrome://flags into the address bar, you’ll find this:

If you enable password manager reauthentication and then restart the browser, the next time you view your list of passwords you’ll be prompted to enter the system password before being allowed to view them in plain text:

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BlackBerry reverses course, cancels sale, mutinies on CEO

The BlackBerry Q10.
Ars Technica

The effort to take BlackBerry private has collapsed, and the failure has taken CEO Thorsten Heins with it. BlackBerry announced this morning that it has cancelled efforts to sell the company and will now instead take on $1 billion in debt—much of it from the firm that was seeking to buy it.

The boardroom coup came as Fairfax, the private equity firm that had tendered a tentative $4.7 billion bid for BlackBerry, ran into trouble in financing the deal. Instead, Fairfax and a group of other institutional investors will buy $1 billion in debt in BlackBerry, which will be convertible to shares in the company.

In a press release, Blackberry board chair Barbara Stymiest said:

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Climate change is already affecting food supplies

Martin Lopatka

leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report due in 2014 shows how climate change is already affecting food security around the world.

The report, which a spokesperson for the IPCC described as a “work in progress,” is likely to change before it is fully released in March 2014. However, it lays out in concerning detail the conclusions of recent research on how climate change is affecting the world’s food supplies today and how it is likely to affect the supply in the future.

The report concludes that the climate is already having an effect on food security and that while rising temperatures may have beneficial effects on agricultural production in limited areas, global productivity is expected to decrease two percent per decade for the rest of the century from what it would be without humanity’s influence on the climate.

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Moto G teaser site: A little slower, a little smaller, just as good?

Motorola

Late last week we saw the first hints of a new handset from Motorola, and now Motorola has its own teaser up, complete with a scheduled live event.

The Motorola Moto G teaser site gives no obvious clues about the handset’s specifications, but last week’s leaks included a spec sheet that revealed a device slotted just under the Moto X. The Qualcomm-sourced SoC is clocked a bit slower at 1.2GHz, and the screen has been shrunk to 4.5 inches. The resolution remains 720p, which gives the handset an excellent pixel density of 329 PPI. On-board storage will start at just 8GB and hopefully climb from there.

It remains unclear whether the Moto G will inherit the entire Motorola X8 Mobile Compute System with the Natural Language Processor and Contextual Awareness Processor. If it does, we can expect a similar feature set as the Moto X and may finally get the aggressive pricing everyone had hoped the Moto X would bring. We’ll find out more at the launch event on November 13th.

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These Are The Sad, Sad Abandoned Boats Of Detroit

Search deep enough into some of more Detroit’s blighted areas and you won’t find wild dogs or cats, but actually old boats.

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Scientists: nuclear power can prevent use of “the atmosphere as a waste dump”

This weekend, four well-respected climate scientists are emphatically calling for policymakers to rethink their stances on nuclear power. The group says “opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change” and that nuclear power will be key “to develop[ing] an energy system that does not rely on using the atmosphere as a waste dump.”

Doctors Ken Caldeira (Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution), Kerry Emanuel (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), James Hansen (Columbia University Earth Institute), and Tom Wigley (University of East Anglia and the National Center for Atmospheric Research) sent their letter on the topic to a variety of organizations and journalists. Passages have now been published everywhere from The New York Times and CNN (both full text) to The Washington Post and The Weather Channel. The four argue that nuclear power isn’t perfect, but it’s the best solution given the constraints they see—the speed to scale, the need for effective waste removal, and, of course, the cost.

We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem. Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow to provide the needs of developing economies. At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer. We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.

Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.

We understand that today’s nuclear plants are far from perfect. Fortunately, passive safety systems and other advances can make new plants much safer. And modern nuclear technology can reduce proliferation risks and solve the waste disposal problem by burning current waste and using fuel more efficiently. Innovation and economies of scale can make new power plants even cheaper than existing plants. Regardless of these advantages, nuclear needs to be encouraged based on its societal benefits.

The researchers say quantitative analysis reveals the risks of expanding nuclear energy use are far less than the risks from fossil fuels. This is despite lingering concerns still on the public’s mind following the 2011 plant disaster in Fukushima, Japan (read more about the mistake analysis done after or see images of areas affected). On the other hand, this pro-nuclear message comes just a year after construction of new nuclear plants was approved in the US for the first time in more than 30 years. And perhaps the names behind it—as the NYT notes, Wigley, Hansen, and Caldeira have all been published in credible, peer-reviewed outlets on energy issues—can make the conversation a priority, if not sway a few lawmaker opinions. 

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Qualcomm could join BlackBerry founders in bid for beleaguered phone maker

As if the rumor mill wasn’t crowded enough, The Wall Street Journal reports that mobile chipmaker Qualcomm could be joining RIM founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin in a bid to buy BlackBerry. Speculation of Qualcomm’s involvement would be part of a bigger deal between RIM’s founders and Cerberus …

How Much Do You Spend on Technology Services Each Month?

How Much Do You Spend on Technology Services Each Month?

In the past, we paid for power, gas, water, home phone, and trash service. Now our utilities include internet, smartphones, Netflix, cable, gaming networks, and potentially many more niche services. How much of your utility bill can you attribute to personal technology and is that cost worth it?

According to US News, most of us spend quite a bit:

How much can it add up to? Americans spend the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly mortgage or rent on technology, according to a study by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants released last year. Technology experts say that may not even account for all of the gadgets and services you use. The survey data mostly reflects the high-tech spending on discretionary purchases.

Is this a good or a bad thing? Does the added cost also contribute to our overall happiness and benefit, or are we just falling into a more contemporary consumer lifestyle? We’re all geeks here and appreciate modern conveniences, but at what cost? Share your thoughts and experiences in the discussions below.

Are Technology Costs Killing Your Budget? | US News

Internet Explorer continues to grow, and Mavericks already on 11 percent of Macs

If nothing else, the browser and operating system numbers from October showed the huge behavioral differences between Mac users and Windows users. Both Microsoft and Apple released new versions of their desktop operating systems last month, with Windows 8.1 from Microsoft and OS X 10.9 Mavericks from Apple. In raw terms, Windows 8.1 already has many more users than Mavericks—about double—but as a proportion of the actual user base of the two platforms, it’s the Apple software that’s in the lead. 10.9 percent of Mac users are on the latest version of the operating system. Just 1.9 percent of PC users are on the newest Windows.

In a month that also saw Microsoft release a new version of its browser, not a great deal has changed among desktop browser preference. Internet Explorer picked up 0.42 points, Firefox gained 0.10 points, and Chrome dropped 0.54 points. Safari and Opera saw a gain of 0.07 and a loss of 0.05 points, respectively.

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In Maine, you will get pulled over for driving Rosco P. Coltrane’s car

In Maine, you will get pulled over for driving Rosco P. Coltrane's car

In Maine, it’s illegal for non-police to drive cars fitted with police lights and sirens, lest the public become confused. Evidently, this extends to ’78 Dodge Monacos dressed up as Hazzard County’s finest.

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