Everyone likes a happy ending. Even more so, everyone likes a happy ending with an added bonus. Make tells the story of how a victim of a theft not only caught the perpetrator, but how his sleuthing also resulted in a drug bust.
Here’s what happened. Two guys rented a car, left their computer equipment in backpacks in the trunk, and went off to Maker Faire in Detroit. Using a screwdriver, the thief unlocked the car, popped the trunk, and made off with a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and other equipment. His job was easy. The victims’ job was a lot harder.
First, they found a police station and started giving local officials all the information they could remember. The ball really started rolling when a police officer asked “Was there an iPad or any way to track your computers?” The owner of the iPad tried to use the “Find my iPad” service to no avail. Thankfully, the owner of the MacBook Pro also had something similar: he had subscribed to an online backup service calledBackblaze. Not only was everything on his computer (personal files and photos) backed up, but there was a little “Locate My Computer” button that was worth a shot.
The first time the button was clicked, it showed the computer’s last position (based on Wi-Fi networks in the area), before it was stolen. Since the criminal hadn’t used the Internet on the computer, Backblaze couldn’t do much. They had reached a dead end, and the case wasn’t exactly a priority for local police:
Officer said to call if we had updates. While very nice, he didn’t sound overly hopeful. Clearly, the officers in Detroit had more important things to do like catch murderers, rapists, and other criminals than find our missing electronics. I can’t say I blame them.
The next morning, Backblaze and “Find My iPad” were still not showing anything. Later in the day though, the MacBook Pro owner was presented with this map when clicking on Backblaze’s “Locate My Computer” button:
Unfortunately, contacting Detroit’s police department only resulted in another: officials couldn’t do anything without an exact address. Thankfully, the thief was looking to sell his car and put a few photos of it on the MacBook Pro, which Backblaze then in turn backed up to the cloud. As a result, the victim managed to get the perpetrator’s address and phone number by doing two things: comparing the house in the background of the photos against what Google StreetView showed, and finding a Craigslist ad for the sale of the car.
The police eventually did the rest:
According to the detective, he assembled a team, and search warrant in hand, knocked on the door of the house. Receiving no answer, they turned on sirens and lights and announced their intention to enter — which they then did, with the aid of a Halligan bar and door ram. Once in, the house was swept and declared clear. Well, except for the drugs.
A search of the house, “designed for narcotics distribution,” yielded “multiple, large jars of suspected Marijuana, multiple individually packaged vials of suspected Marijuana and multiple knotted baggies of suspected Marijuana.” My computer was located in an upstairs bedroom next to a mattress.
Unfortunately, the iPad and other content in the bags still haven’t been found. The victims did, however, learn a few lessons that everyone should keep in mind:
Install a remote backup system.
Don’t keep important items in your car.
Be really nice to police officers. They have a very hard job.
If I had to add something to that, I would say: don’t despair and never give up! Oh, and always let the cops do the actual busting.
Not so long ago I put the word out for a Gmail feature which would prevent any new email from appearing in my Inbox during particular periods of the day. See, like many of you I’m sure, as long as I’m online, I’ll constantly visit my Gmail Inbox to check for new mail. Even amidst the mother of all crisis’, I’d instinctively visit my inbox and lo and behold, there’s always new mail to distract me from more important issues.
The idea was to simply provide a feature which could prevent new email from appearing in the Inbox. Of course, I still wanted to be able to reply and compose mail, I just didn’t want new mail creeping in.
And, crucially, I always wanted to immediately be able to retrieve email when I was good and ready. I just didn’t want to be bothered by it or to be able to view any new emails.
Meet Inbox Pause
Ironically, a few days later, a new email arrives in my Inbox from Aye Moah at Baydin Inc, the creators of my most used browser extension Boomerang for Gmail, alerting me to a new extension they’d built: INBOX PAUSE.
It’s a marvelous little tool they’d built which does exactly which provides the exact functionality I’d been hoping for.
Simply install the extension, refresh your Gmail and you’ll notice a “Pause” button alongside your Mail drop down (as to the right).
When you click that button, new messages will stop arriving in your inbox. Instead, they’ll be held in a special label until you are ready for them. Should you wish, INBOX PAUSE can notify the people who email you to let them know that their message will not be delivered to your Inbox.
While your Inbox is paused, you’ll see a banner at the top of your Gmail window like this:
When you un-pause your Inbox, all of the messages that you received during the break will be moved to your Inbox, and new messages will arrive as before.
A newly discovered botnet is adding victims to its list by claiming to be an interesting video from a Facebook user. That’s nothing new. Here’s what makes this malware unique: it can spread via multiple instant messaging services, including Facebook Chat, Skype, Google Talk, Pidgin, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and even ICQ. The initial point of contact is Facebook (not surprising given that it’s the world’s most popular social network): the malware’s filename is typically something like “Picturexx.JPG_www.facebook.com.” It proliferates through the social network via an Ajax command that makes it look like the message came from one of your Facebook friends. Once the malware is on the machine, it can receive commands from a remote attacker. From there, the victim’s computer sends out instant messages via the aforementioned platforms in a constant attempt to infect more PCs, according to McAfee: Once on your machine, the malware bypasses the Windows Firewall by using the command line “netsh firewall allowed program” or by modifying the firewall policy to add itself as an allowed program. It then adds itself to start up when you reboot your computer and copies itself to another folder for safe keeping, marking the copy as a hidden file with read-only attributes. If you are checking for an infection, here are the three paths it might be in: the Windows folder, the Program Files folder, or the Public folder. The malware does a series of checks for anything that can get in its way, and then disables them: antivirus software, Windows Update, and even Yahoo update software. It even changes the Internet Explorer start page, and modifies Chrome and Firefox’s preference files. As a general word of caution, don’t click on any links you are sent via instant message. If you really can’t help yourself, always message your friend to make sure they really did send you something. Image credit: stock.xchng
On June 18, Microsoft (MSFT) beckoned 200 or so members of the media to a grimy, industrial part of Hollywood for what it described as a can’t-miss affair. Dutiful reporters met at the appointed hour—3:30 p.m.—at a film and art studio Microsoft had rented out and emptied for the day. While beads of sweat formed on the foreheads of the people waiting to get in, aspiring actresses walked by in tight jeans and high heels on their way to a T-Mobile commercial casting call at the building next door.
Microsoft usually begs for attention. On this day, it played the cool maestro. In fact, the company played theApple (AAPL) role, using pomp, circumstance, and constructed anticipation to make us believe that something really fantastic would appear. Perhaps the whole thing worked: Something that did seem rather fantastic arrived at about 4:20 p.m. It was the Surface tablet—a computer that had all its software and hardware made by Microsoft. In that moment, Microsoft became not just a competitor to Apple but also a rival to such longtime PC manufacturing partners as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), and Acer (2353:TT).
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, tried his best to soften this affront to the company’s partners. When he arrived in 1980, he said, Microsoft’s best-selling product was the SoftCard, a hardware device that would plug into Apple computers so they could run extra software. “Let’s take a little bit of a look back at the role of hardware at Microsoft,” Ballmer said, as a marketing video spun up to show mice, keyboards, and, of course, the Xbox.
Let’s be clear, though: Microsoft making hardware is not a natural action. It’s what the company does in times of desperation. With the release of Windows 8 looming, Microsoft was indeed desperate for a hardware company to do something to blunt Apple’s runaway tablet machine. The Surface tablet represents an indictment of the entire PC and device industry, which has stood by for a couple of years trying to mimic Apple with a parade of hapless, copycat products.
Rather than complaining, PC makers ought to take note of what Microsoft has produced. It has one tablet—a 9 mm thick, 1.5 pounder—that will run on low-power ARM chips and arrive around October. The black device has beautiful, beveled edges; its shell is made of what Microsoft calls vapor-deposited magnesium, or VaporMg. (Brushed aluminum is so last year, Apple.) It also has a built-in kickstand. Best of all, the device comes with a cover that locks firmly in place, unlike Apple’s flimsy iPad protector, and which functions as a proper keyboard. Both the kickstand and cover-cum-keyboard seem such obvious ideas now that we’ve seen them, yet the great army of PC makers failed to think up anything so clever over the past two years.
Later, a slightly bigger Surface tablet will arrive to run on an Intel (INTC) chip, with a stylus and an even-sturdier keyboard/cover. Workers will be able to run all their Windows 8 software and previous Windows applications on this device, while the thinner one will support a more limited set of software—it uses a chip architecture more common to smartphones than PCs.
Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division, did much of the oohing and ahhing over the Surface devices, which will be sold by Microsoft at its retail and online stores. Perhaps sensing the importance of the moment, Sinofsky’s voice shook and his hands trembled at times to the point that he could not finish demonstrating the tablets’ functions. Still, he managed to demo enough of the product and its industrial design to generate a few screams of ecstasy from the audience. (Whether these were overjoyed Microsoft employees or rapturous press was not clear.)
It was Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft’s Surface products, who really did the Steve Jobs impression. He went on and on about the engineering marvels—200 custom parts, no less—that it took to make the Surface. When it goes up, the kickstand makes a sound as crisp as the way a luxury car door closes, he said. “And when you need it, it’s there.” Like Superman, I suppose.
Panay then talked for a long while about how the Surface devices feel and look like books. (To me, they looked like sleek computing devices, but what do I know?) “We designed this organically like a book,” he said. “It is light enough and it feels just perfect.” How perfect, Panos? “I am seriously in love with it,” he said of the keyboard/cover. “Outside of my wife, the Touch Cover is No. 2. I never want to take the Touch Cover off.” Okey-doke.
Washington, May 11 (ANI): Archaeologists in Guatemala have reported the striking discovery of a small building, whose walls exhibit not only a stunningly preserved mural of a brightly adorned Mayan king, but also calendars that obliterate any notion that the Mayans envisaged the end of the world in 2012.
These deep-time calendars can be used to count thousands of years into the past and future, countering pop-culture and New Age ideas that Mayan calendars ended on Dec. 21, 2012, (or Dec. 23, depending on who’s counting), thus predicting the end of the world.
The newly found calendars, which track the motion of the moon, Venus and Mars, provide an unprecedented glimpse into how these storied sky-gazers - who dominated Central America for nearly 1,000 years - kept such accurate track of months, seasons and years, Washington Post reported.
"What they’re trying to do is understand the large cycles of cosmic time," said William Saturno, the Boston University archaeologist who led the expedition.
"This is the space they’re doing it in. It’s like looking into da Vinci’s workshop."
Before the new discovery, the best-preserved Mayan calendars were inscribed in bark-paged books dubbed codices, the most popular being the Dresden Codex. But those pages hail from several hundred years later than the recently found calendars.
Saturno asserted that researchers have long assumed that the Mayans had worked out the cycles of the moons and planets much earlier, but no proof of such work had ever been found.
But in 2010, an undergraduate student working with Saturno, Max Chamberlain, stumbled onto the house as the team started excavating at a Mayan city, Xultun, which, despite being known since 1915, had never been professionally excavated.
For decades, looters had dug deep trenches to access buildings. One day at lunch, Chamberlain declared his intention to find paintings by crawling through the trenches.
Saturno scoffed. The buildings were too shallow - any paint on their walls would surely be long gone, erased by water, dirt, insects and encroaching tree roots.
But sure enough, Chamberlain stumbled onto a wall, open to a trench, showing two red lines.
A quick excavation revealed the back wall of the building - replete with a mural of a resplendent Mayan king, in bright blue, adorned with feathers and jewellery.
Saturno’s team brushed off the wall and “ta-da!” he said.
"A Technicolor, fantastically preserved mural. I don’t know how it survived."
The mural is the first Mayan painting found in a small building instead of a large public space. And it’s also the oldest known preserved Mayan painting.
Next to the king, a scribe holds a writing instrument. Three inexplicable figures wearing black also march across the wall. One of them is named “older brother obsidian.”
Mayan experts are clueless about whom these mysterious figures might represent.
Once the team uncovered quite a few columns of red and black dots and dashes - the Mayans’ numbering system - the meaning of these figures was almost immediately evident to David Stuart, one of the world’s leading experts in Mayan hieroglyphics.
It was a lunar table, displaying a 4,784-day cycle of the moon’s phases.
The table is split into 27 columns, each representing six lunar months. Each column is topped by the face of one of three moon gods - a jaguar, a skull and a woman. These three repeat. So by consulting the table, a priest, say, could tell which moon god would preside over a particular date.
On another wall sits a smaller set of four columns of figures. These looked a bit more perplexing. But eventually Saturno’s team figured it out: This second table was filled with huge numbers relating to how long it takes Mars and Venus to cross the sky and come back again. This calendar spans some 7,000 years - heading much farther into the future than the supposed doomsday date.
"Like a lot of ancient cultures, they were able with naked-eye astronomy to calculate the paths of the planets," Stuart said.
"We tend to forget that before telescopes, people were able to analyze the movement of planets in a lot of detail - and figure out exactly, to the day, the length of a Venus year and a Mars year."
Saturno asserted that the building had been filled in by the Mayans, heaped with dirt and rubble.
"They just backed themselves out the door and left," he said; no one knows why. But the fill probably helped preserve the paintings.
With the virtually unexplored city of Xultun consisting hundreds of buildings stretching across at least 16 square miles of jungle, Saturno guesses that a number of other surprises await excavation.
"It might take another two decades," he added.
He hopes the world to still exist then and insisted he’d bet anyone a million dollars that it will. The Mayan calendar does begin a new “long cycle,” later this year, but he equated that with the odometer on a car rolling over from 99,999 miles to zero: “You go, ‘Yay,’ but the car just doesn’t disappear.”
The discovery is detailed in Science magazine and in National Geographic. (ANI)
The green lock icon on the left is how you can tell when you’re on a site with the highest level of security.
The latest update to Firefox brings better security to search and to the URL bar, as the browser gets OS X and HTML5 tweaks, too.
The biggest change to Firefox 14 (download for Windows | Mac | Linux,) is that it runs HTTPS for all Google searches. This means that prying eyes, especially over public networks, won’t be able to intercept your queries. Though Firefox currently supports this only for Google, Mozilla said in a blog post announcing the update that it hopes to extend HTTPS to other search engines in the near future.
A small interface design change also affects your security. This tweak makes it easier to see the “verified secure” lock icon to the left of your location bar.
If you’re using OS X 10.7 Lion, you’ll now get native full-screen support. All versions of Firefox will autocomplete URLs, and they support more hardware APIs. These include Wake Lock, for preventing your screen saver from interrupting a game; Pointer Lock, for allowing better in-browser control over the mouse, which is useful for first-person shooter games; and Pseudo Class Lock, for developers who want to inspect the code powering a site.
Singapore’s oldest political association, joins fellow Singaporeans in mourning the loss of one of Singapore’s pioneering political activists - Dr Lim Hock Siew.
Dr Lim was Singapore’s second-longest serving political prisoner, having been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for more than 19 years, from 1963 to 1982. As founding member and leader of Barisan Sosialis, the party formed by a splinter group of the People’s Action Party (PAP) in 1961, Dr Lim was a leader who was steadfast in his socialist convictions and who always stayed true to his political principles. He did not waver even when those beliefs landed him in trouble with the authorities during Singapore’s pre-independence days.
On 2 Feb, 1963, Lim was among 110 alleged communists being arrested and imprisoned by the PAP government under Operation Coldstore. Subsequently Dr Lim remained in detention without a trial until he was finally released on 6 Sept, 1982.
Not to be displaced by the official national narrative of what happened during the tumultuous pre-independence days, he broke his long held silence with his first public speech after 25 years at the launch of the book “The Fajar Generation” in 2009. Younger generations of Singaporeans will now be able to learn of the alternate history, and to judge for themselves, of what happened during those fateful founding years of Singapore.
Dr Lim was a man who was from the people, of the people and for the people. He made good as a doctor who poured his energy toward alleviating the sickness of the people with medicine, and worked at solving the societal disease of poverty with his intellect and principles. Truly he was a people’s activist who lived, served and fought for the people.
Today, we salute his unyielding spirit, high minded convictions and most of all, his steadfast integrity that underlies his sacrifice to uphold democratic socialism. TC send its deepest condolences to the family of the late Dr Lim Hock Siew and calls on fellow Singaporeans to take inspiration from his life story - one that exemplifies a life simply lived as a grandfather, father, doctor but passed on arguably as one of Singapore’s political forefathers.