Monthly Archives: December 2014

Lizard Squad is pissing me off. First, because I couldn’t play Destiny or go on the PlayStation Network for several days because the hacker group launched DDoS attacks that brought it down. Second, because it appears at least one or them did it for money, and small money at that.

According to The Guardian, Lizard Squad launched Lizard Stresser, a service that can be used to take down any website or network for only $6, upwards to $500. The attacks on Sony and Microsoft were supposedly a “huge marketing scheme” for this DDoS service.

How…incredibly short sighted. $6?? A good coder can earn so much more doing something legitimate. The world is your oyster and the best thing you can do is charge peanuts to do evil?

The thought of every Dick and Jane spending just a few bucks to cause havoc over the smallest slight is disturbing.

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Microsoft is rumored to be working on a new browser for Windows 10. So new, it may not even be called Internet Explorer.

It will still use Trident, Microsoft’s web rendering engine, so it’s likely to be more about changing the user interface (to be more like Chrome) and brand than anything fundamental. However, the break is supposedly big enough that Microsoft will include both this new browser and the existing IE11 “just in case” for Windows 10.

The new browser’s primary feature is to be lightweight and fast loading; hence its code name “Spartan” within Microsoft. This is the browser designed for all devices: PCs, tablets, phones and maybe even smaller.

It will probably have native app support – similar to extensions – and I expect Microsoft to eventually port it to Android and iOS.

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The hype for Bitcoin was almost oppressive earlier this year. I took a look and concluded it was too early to be a mainstream opportunity: it’s not consumer friendly, not widely accepted and worse, too extreme in its volatility for most to stomach.

Yet, hundreds of millions poured into Bitcoin – from rose colored speculators to blue chip venture capitalists.

Bloomberg’s recent study is a fresh reminder that hype does not always translate into immediate payoffs. Bitcoin was actually the worst performing currency of 2014, having lost 56% of its value from last year.

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Here’s a hardware feature that doesn’t receive much publicity but which I’ve come to heavily appreciate: the Surface Pro’s AC adapter. The main reason is the USB slot on the adapter itself.

Whenever I travel, I don’t like carrying more than one plug converter and feel bad asking for more from the hotel — the USB slot on the power adapter solves that. The AC adapter charges the Surface and the USB slot simultaneously charges my smartphone, and it seems to charge just as quickly as it would normally.

Genius feature! If it gets shouted about enough, hopefully other manufacturers will follow.

 

One of the big smartphone trends this year is the “selfie” phone. HTC, Lumia, Sony, Huawei and many others all have at least one marketed that way.

I suspect that my initial reaction is like many of yours: scoffing dismissal. I’m now a convert however, and completely understand why this market might actually be large.

Sure, apps like Snapchat and Bolt encourage quick shots as ways of communicating, so the front facing camera is more valuable.

But it’s more than that, and it all comes down to this one tool: the selfie stick.

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I was asked to be a guest on a TV show (to air yesterday I believe) to talk about social media, and thought I’d share some of the Q&A and my notes.

TOPIC 1: CLICKTIVISM

Social media has become an indispensable part of many people’s lives. The one trend that piqued our interest this year is social activism or “clicktivism”. The most recent being the #ill-ride-with-you movement. It emerged as a show of solidarity with Muslims in Australia after the deadly Sydney hostage crisis. Some people had voiced fears of repercussions as the hostage taker was an Iranian asylum seeker. How effective really are these hashtag movements?

They help create awareness if the underlying cause is viral worthy, and certainly, better than the alternative where there were no hashtags to lead to easy discovery.

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Merry Christmas dear readers! You may have noticed that three stories got published in just a few minutes yesterday. My apologies.

As you might have guessed, I’ve started on my holiday — outside of weddings, my first and only holiday of 2014! — and Internet access has not been a given. The stories were written on planes and trains but I only had the chance to upload them yesterday. Hopefully, going forward I will have Internet access more often.

You might be asking why I’m even publishing at all given the holidays. I read an article somewhere — I want to say one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but I can’t be sure — it was about how, when trekking long and dangerous distances, the groups that did better were the ones that did it consistently.

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