Short takes, 5 Jun 2012

I’m positively uninspired this morning, trying to recover from a weekend of the most boring writing I’ve ever done in my life–something that, mercifully, only a small handful of tortured souls will ever have to see and read–so I’ll do some short takes.

SSDs. Ars Technica presents a very nice explanation, in layperson terms, of how SSDs work, why they’re fast, and why they seem fast.

Security. Russian antivirus expert Eugene Kaspersky compares cyber weapons to chemical weapons and says they need to be banned. Banning them sounds easy enough, but the problem here is figuring out who built the cyber weapons if a country violated the ban. The Obama administration is now taking credit for Stuxnet, in what some–including F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen–are calling an election-year effort to appear tough on Iran. Maybe the Obama administration did order Stuxnet. But if it didn’t, and somebody else did, is the real creator really going to speak up at this point?

The story sounds credible, so I don’t really have any reason to disbelieve it. But if someone else did it, the U.S. government just provided a very nice smokescreen and there’s no reason to step out from behind it. Had the Obama administration not admitted involvement, we’d still be guessing.

And the Russians really are trying to have it both ways. They think we’re building cyber weapons and they want us to stop. We’re pretty sure their gangsters are building cyberweapons and they aren’t doing much, if anything, to make their gangsters stop. Pot, meet kettle.

IPv6. Is your ISP and your networking equipment IPv6 ready? It’s time to start asking the question.

What technology to buy and what technology to wait for. Yes, tech gadgets are seasonal too. The Christian Science Monitor has a handy guide.

Amelia Earhart. And this theory isn’t exactly new, but there seems to be mounting evidence of what happened to Amelia Earhart 75 years ago. The theory goes that they landed, short on fuel, on the very harsh deserted island of Nikumaroro and transmitted radio signals with what remained of their power. Professional skeptic Brian Dunning has a rebuttal to this theory, but he doesn’t attempt to explain away the triangulation of the radio signals, or what other reason Lockheed Electra artifacts might have turned up on the island. Dunning is right that there are other reasons why a long-lost skeleton and a handful of items that resemble things from Earhart photographs might be on the island. But when 57 distress calls triangulate to Nikumaroro using modern analysis, when there’s a 1938 photograph of a Lockheed Electra landing gear sitting off the island and a piece of glass that appear to be from an Electra, then those other things start to look less like a series of coincidences.

Both TIGHAR and Dunning hold passionately to their theories about what happened to Earhart. I don’t know who is correct. Of course, if TIGHAR manages to find a Lockheed Electra off the coat of Nikumaroro, their case becomes much stronger.

Firefox. And, honestly, what day wouldn’t be complete without a new Firefox release? This one has some memory tweaks though.

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