Category Archives: General News

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.


Ok, This is a Weird One


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.

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.

Is VirtualBox Development Dying Out?

According to a Phoronix article:

“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.