Ubuntu Phone Sells Out

Ubuntu-smartphone

Earlier I had my doubts about Ubuntu phone. With the market chock full of Android and iOs phones I really didn’t think anyone would consider a phone from Ubuntu. Apparently I could be wrong. The first sale of Ubuntu phones sold out in the first hour. Perhaps this will be the year of the…  Oh, never mind. Good news, anyway.

Ubuntu Phone Sells Out in The First Hour

Big Brother is Listening

Big Brother

Samsung’s new voice recognition technology can hear what you are saying and transmit your words to unknown third parties. According to their privacy policy:

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”

Of course Samsung says that it takes your privacy “very seriously” and that it only transmits your voice to a third party so that it can search for commands which get sent back to the TV. The problem is: who is this third party? How secure is your data once it reaches this third party server? Is there an NSA back-door? Obviously it is Internet aware which means it will get hacked.

For some time now webcams on laptops and computers have been hacked and very private data posted on the Internet. You can bet the same will happen with the very conversations you have in the “privacy” of your own home.

In yet another twist, your Samsung TV will listen in on your conversations even if you turn voice recognition off.

Building on past revelations, Samsung TV’s can now transmit video from the front-facing camera, texts, tweets, emails, phone records, metadata, cloud storage and voice. Basically, your television is watching and listening and sending out all the data it collects to a third party.

Samsung claims that your data is private and safe but history doesn’t support those claims. A vulnerability was found in Samsung TV’s that allow an attacker to control other devices attached to the same network as the television. LG was found to be sending your viewing habits back to their servers. Another vulnerability allowed an attacker to crash Samsung TV’s. 100,000 refrigerators and appliances were hacked to perform cyber attacks.

As much as I like technology, we are really going too far. Every word we speak, every move we make, every word we write is sent out and shared with unknown parties who may or may not have our best interests at heart. We all need to start thinking more about privacy before it’s gone altogether. Don’t let the thought police win.
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http://thehackernews.com/2015/02/smart-tv-spying.html

http://dailycaller.com/2015/02/09/samsungs-smart-tvs-spy-on-you-even-if-you-turn-voice-recognition-off/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/shopping-and-consumer-news/11399677/Samsung-SmartTV-customers-warned-personal-conversations-may-be-recorded.html

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102407345

The UbuTab: Legit or Scam?

tablet-431647_1280

The UbuTab advertised online looks, at first glance, like an actual Ubuntu tablet you can buy online but appears to be nothing more than an unfunded idea. I have not tried to actually purchase one, so I don’t know if you would get an actual tablet if you ordered one. I have not been able to find anyone who has actually received a product, though several people have obviously sent in money. As you will see below, I have my doubts. While it would be a great American success story for a farm girl from Minnesota to take the country by storm with a great Ubuntu tablet, I really don’t see that happening.

You can see the offered products on the UbuTab website which appears as though you could buy a tablet and have it shipped to you at the price listed plus $7.00 for shipping. Clicking the “Buy Now” button takes you to a PayPal portal, so you are certainly free to plunk down some cash if you choose to do so.

They have 4 models: a 500GB HDD model, a 1TB HDD model, a 1TB SSD model and a 64GB flash model, all of which are available with Android or Ubuntu. The site also offers a 3 year warranty and a 60 day return policy. There is no disclaimer that the buyer would not receive an actual tablet, but it does state that units would ship out in April. Kind of a long wait, but who knows. Let’s see if we can find out more.

You can see from their Indiegogo fundraiser they did not meet their goal of $36,000 and the fundraiser closed on December 26, 2014. That seems like an awfully small amount of seed money for doing R&D and building a working prototype, much less actually manufacturing enough units to sell to the general public, even for a one-off run.

In a telling statement on the fundraising site:

“Hopefully the community can bring the UbuTab project to life. My business partner and I had everything lined up to begin production on this tablet when our financing fell through. We had all the suppliers lined up and had already spent countless hours working on the design. We don’t want to see our hard work go to waste and we truly believe there is a large enough market for this to be a success.”

It seems obvious that they are having trouble finding anyone to back them financially. That is a pretty obvious red flag that they don’t have enough in place to intice backers to their project. Financial backers would generally want a working prototype, a business plan, a manufacturer and actual orders. They generally are a little tepid on pure concepts.

Another red flag from the fundraiser:

“*Please note that these images are an artists rendering of the finished product and not the product itself.”

So, does that mean they don’t have an actual model to take a real picture of. If not, what are they selling on their site?

The red flags are really piling up. Another statement from the fundraising site:

“Although we only reached 78% of our goal, we are continuing presales at ubutabshop.com so that we can reach our $36,000 goal. ”

Pre-sales means no sales. They actually don’t have anything to sell yet. I can’t say they they won’t make a few and sell them, but it seems as though they don’t have one you could hold in your hand right now.

Redditors seem to have some harsh words about the whole thing, as they often do:

“Can we all agree UbuTab is a scam? Why is Distrowatch allowing this ad?”

dream_tiger says:

“$36,000 to make a tablet? Really? Design, fabrication, and manufacture?
The founders bio says:
Hard working farm and city girl with big dreams and endless ambition.
“Growing up on a farm, I learned a lot about hard work and responsibility early on in life. This dedication and work ethic helped me tackle my first 4 years of college. I’m currently perusing my Masters of Education at the University of Minnesota”

Again, a farm girl and aspiring teacher from Minnesota hits it big with a great Ubuntu tablet sounds like a great fantasy, but I think it’s just that; a fantasy.

CaptMorgan74 sums it up pretty well for me:

“No working prototype? No advanced degrees in product design or business? Farm girl from Minnesota? I’m out.”

Ok, This is a Weird One

UsbPlug

If you happened to notice a USB stick poking out of a brick wall in an urban space, would you be brave enough to connect your computer to it just to see what it might contain? Will it dump a bunch of malicious software onto your machine, or reveal something amazing? You just never know. The Dead Drops offline peer-to-peer file sharing project has been called “the nerd equivalent to glory holes,” bringing the sense of anonymity provided by the internet into the real world in a way that feels conspicuously sketchy.

http://weburbanist.com/2015/02/06/dead-drops-hidden-usb-sticks-offer-anonymous-file-sharing/

Prevent Video Tearing in KDE 4.11 or Later

This procedure was written  for Ubuntu 14.04

Open the terminal and enter the following command:

gksudo gedit /etc/profile

Paste the following into the end of the config file:

‘export __GL_YIELD=”USLEEP”

Log out of KDE and log back in.

The World Community Grid

“Help power cutting-edge research in health, poverty and sustainability”

Use your CPU cycles to help solve big issues facing humanity like Ebola, mosquito-born diseases and poverty. Since 2004, IBM has provided software for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and Android which uses your spare CPU cycles to crunch scientific data for research projects looking for cures to the ailments that effect us all.

Some of the progress made so far includes the discovery of compounds effective against neuroblastoma, drugs to fight malaria, tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus and HIV.

If you would like to help, check out the the World Community Grid.

http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/

Fix Window Resize Lag in Ubuntu Unity

  1. Install CompizConfig Settings Manager found in the Ubuntu Software Center
  2. Open CCSM
  3. Click “Window Management”
  4. Click “Resize Window”
  5. Click the “General” tab
  6. Under “Default Resize Mode” choose “Outline”

Fix Video Tearing in Linux With Nvidia Cards

Open a CLI and do:

sudo nvidia-xconfig

Then:

sudo nvidia-settings

Set your screen resolution and refresh rate in the Xserver settings (I set mine to 1920×1200 @60hz) and save it to xorg.conf

Then do:

sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Edit the device section thusly:

Section “Device”
Identifier “Device0”
Driver “nvidia”
VendorName “NVIDIA Corporation”
BoardName “GeForce GTX 650”
Option “RegistryDwords” “PerfLevelSrc=0x2222”
Option “TripleBuffer” “True”
EndSection

This sets the card to performance mode and enables triple buffering.

In nvidia-settings/OpenGL set:

Sync to Vblank
Allow Flipping
Use Conformant Texture Clamping

Save your configuration and restart the X-server.

Microsoft, Cyanogen and Grasping Straws?

CyanogenMod is an open source implementation of Android for smart phones. Android enthusiasts often “root” their phones so that they can modify them, remove commercial software and make them operate however they want rather than what the cell phone carrier or Google wants.

In an odd twist, Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella met with the founders of Cyanogen and is considering investing in CyanogenMod to wrest control of the Android operating system away from Google.

Now, Microsoft has not been known to play nice with open source projects, especially ones that compete with their own products. In this case Windows Phone. Recently Microsoft bought out Nokia who is the largest producer of Windows Phones.

I don’t know how this will play out, but Microsoft’s former attempts at building phones in the Android space were embarrassing, and I’m not sure they yet know what to do with open source software. We will just have to wait and see what happens. Perhaps MS is getting a bit desperate and grasping at straws.

Is VirtualBox Development Dying Out?

According to a Phoronix article:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=VirtualBox-VM-Features-2015

“It’s been a long time since last hearing of any major innovations or improvements to VirtualBox, the VM software managed by Oracle since their acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Is there any hope left for a revitalized VirtualBox?”

When Oracle bought out Sun Microsystems, I decided to look for alternatives. I have never been a fan of Oracle and I always thought they bought up open source projects to let them die out and stifle competition.

The Phoronix author states:

“It’s sad that VirtualBox is at a standstill given that it supports 3D/OpenGL acceleration for Linux guests, while KVM-based options like Virgil 3D aren’t yet ready for end-users. Deploying VirtualBox is also easy for users and has offered other advantages during its glory days. In fact, VirtualBox is still being used by some companies on Linux systems.”

However, I switched to VMWare Player years ago. It’s easy to setup. It’s free, and it runs very well on my Ubuntu desktop. I also tried it out on Windows 8.1 and it performed well. I could even run some smaller games. 3D acceleration worked just fine for me.

If you are looking for a virtualization product under heavy development, you should really try VMWare.