GeekSpeak for 2010-07-31

Security and News

Alex and Lindsay join us from Defcon, and the Geeks cover the news of the week.

Kepler Scientist: 'Galaxy is Rich in Earth-Like Planets'

In a recent presentation, Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov preempted the official announcement that the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope has discovered about 140 candidate worlds orbiting other stars that are “like Earth.”

Usually, announcements like these happen after an official press release, but during the TEDGLobal conference in Oxford, U.K., Sasselov unexpectedly dropped the groundbreaking news in one of his presentation slides.

100 million Facebook Pages 'Leaked'

The 2.8GB torrent was compiled by hacker Ron Bowes of Skull Security, who created a web crawler program that harvested data on users contained in Facebook’s open access directory, which lists all users who haven’t bothered to change their privacy settings to make their pages unavailable to search engines.

The file contains user account names and a URL for each user’s profile page, from which details such as addresses, dates of birth or phone numbers can be accessed. Accessing a user’s page from the list will also enable you to click through to friends’ profiles – even if those friends have made themselves non-searchable.

How to change your Facebook privacy settings

Check out this page for instructions on how to secure your Facebook page. (Highly recommended by all the geeks)

Camtasia Studio, Screen Recorder

Screen capture software.

New Legal Protections for Video Artists, Cell Phone Modifiers

“The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won three critical exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anticircumvention provisions today, carving out new legal protections for consumers who modify their cell phones and artists who remix videos — people who, until now, could have been sued for their non-infringing or fair use activities.”

Hibiki Kono climbs a brick wall with suction

SCHOOLBOY Hibiki Kono climbs a sheer brick wall after turning himself into Spiderman – with the help of two �14.98 Tesco Value vacuum cleaners.

Clever Hibiki, 13, made his incredible climbing machine in school technology lessons.

2011 Chevy Volt: No CA Rebate, HOV-Lane

The Chevy Volt can travel ~40 miles per charge without a drop of gas. Still can’t drive in California’s HOV lane or get that state’s tax rebates.

The Pearl River Tower, the World Greenest Skyscraper

The list of green features goes on and on. From the double-skinned, triple-glazed facade to the cooling beam structure and greywater collection system this skyscraper design has all it needs to be as lightweight on the Guangdong grid as it can manage. Though the company behind the building, the CNTC Guangdong Tobacco Corporation, isn’t the greenest of them all — let’s hope they don’t ruin their indoor air quality by lighting up all the time — they’re certainly making an effort by building this 71 story sustainable beauty. We can’t wait for the finishing touches on the Pearl River Tower and we’re hoping that the building proves to be as exciting in action as it has been in construction and design.

www.SOM.com | Pearl River Tower

Pearl River Tower

Guangzhou, China

The 2.3-million square-foot Pearl River Tower redefines what is possible in sustainable design by incorporating the latest green technology and engineering advancements. The 309-meter tower’s sculpted body directs wind to a pair of openings at its mechanical floors, where traveling winds push turbines which generate energy for the building.

The design for the tower incorporates a series of other integrated sustainable and engineering elements, including solar panels, double skin curtain wall, chilled ceiling system, under floor ventilation air, and daylight harvesting, all of which contribute to the building’s energy efficiency.

Apple's "antenna testing chamber"

Reporters who attended the “Antennagate” presser today in Cupertino were invited to tour the company’s “$100 million antenna designing and test facilities.” They’re blinding us with science! Bonus: When I right-clicked to save this jpeg from the Apple website, I noticed that the original file name included the words “Stargate Chamber.” The hell with your free bumpers, Mr. Jobs, I want one of these suckers!


From a listener:
Jared Dick

Hey guys,
One of the things I like most about your program is that before you begin
to comment or give advice on anything, you list the credentials of every
person in the room,most of which include substantial programing knowledge.
This way the average listener can feel confident that you know what you’re
talking about—it’s one thing to simply call oneself a geek, it’s another
to actually have the know-how.
As a technology enthusiast, I read a large assortment of tech-blogs and
listen to podcasts on a daily basis (Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Silicon
Alley Insider, CNET, etc.), one of the things that always irks me is that
the large majority of these publications do not post the qualifications of
the writers/podcasters. Furthermore, when I am able to uncover their alma
mater, their major in college, or even their resume, it always seems to be
a B.A in communications or english from a small liberal arts college
(generally located in CA or New England), and then their work has only been
in reporting or blogging.  What I find myself wondering is how these people
are able to comment so thoroughly on issues with software or hardware,
without ever having actually built or studied that kind of product
themselves. I understand that these people deal with those types of
products everyday, and so become decently familiar with them. The analogy I
submit to you is that the large majority of the technology media, in my
opinion, have a mechanic’s understanding of a car—they understand what
each part of the car does, what features makes that part better, and why it
needs to be in the engine, but they couldn’t explain HOW the part works.
They simply don’t have the fundamental understanding of the core concepts
that the automotive engineer who designed the car utilized when choosing
those parts. What this means is that it would be hard for them to comment
on the precise nature of a problem. Still, this is exactly what many
bloggers attempt to do when it comes to tech.
The gross example of this is “antenna-gate.” Where almost everywhere you
read about how Apple could do this or that and it would DEFINITELY resolve
the problem without them bumper solution. I saw everything from coat the
phone in a resin to moving the antenna around. The problem here is that:
that’s not engineering! Elegant and simple solutions certainly exist, but
they are almost never a one step-fix, and certainly not in a complex gadget
like the iphone. Moving things around and adding additional elements to the
phone will without doubt have additional effects. To go back to the
analogy, I can’t just slap the drivetrain from a ferrari on my ‘99 Subaru
and expect to go 150 mph, it just doesn’t work like that (these are things
we learn when we take college courses or work in the actual industry, you
gain an “engineering sense”, an innate inclination about whether something
will work or not).
So my question to the geeks is: How important is it for the technology
media to have the knowledge of these fundamental concepts so crucial to the
design phase? Wouldn’t it help to have a reviewer looking at app source
code and saying things like, this is very clunky, but it does have some
innovative ways of doing this or that smoother than before, here’s why?  Am
I just blowing smoke?
Anyway, thanks again guys, even though I’m all the way out here in PA by
way of Boston, I love listening to GeekSpeak every Monday on Google Listen.

Love the show, Jared
PS> I just reread that and it sounds alot harsher (and long winded) than I
meant it to sound. As the exception to the rule though, I am really
interested in what you guys think about this.