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The $99 Android tablet of 2013: The Hisense Sero 7 LT (or Lite)

So when I decided to bring myself into the current decade, tablet-wise, I opted for the $150 Hisense Sero 7 Pro, though I was certainly curious about its $99 little brother. Unfortunately, information on the Sero 7 Lite hasn’t been as easy to come by–people are understandably excited about getting a Nexus 7 clone for $50 less that actually includes two desirable features that the real thing lacks. This must be what it felt like to be in the market for an IBM PC/XT when the Leading Edge Model D came out in the summer of 1985.

But of course I was still curious what $99 can buy today, so I’m glad that Ars Technica gave it a look.Read More »The $99 Android tablet of 2013: The Hisense Sero 7 LT (or Lite)

Why your favorite web site’s password strength meter is full of hooey

Ars Technica talked three password crackers into doing their worst to a leaked database of 16,000 passwords, to see what they could learn.

They learned a lot, and we can learn a lot from their experience as well. “qeadzcwrsfxv1331” isn’t a good password. Neither is “Philippians4:13.” Neither is “correcthorsebatterystaple.” Neither is “Qbesancon321” or “Qbe$@ncon321.” Password guessing has too much intelligence built into it now.

And not only that, by continuing to use the password “popcorn,” you make it easier for those guys to guess other passwords too.Read More »Why your favorite web site’s password strength meter is full of hooey

Linux admins beware, there’s a web server exploit in the wild

No OS is 100% secure if there’s enough desire to get in. There’s a web server exploit targeting Apache, Nginx, and Lighttpd running on Linux–a first of its kind, in at least one regard. Ars Technica has the details, including where to get a script to check to see if your server is infected.

According to this page, if you execute this command:

strings /usr/bin/apache2 | egrep opentty

you’re clean if nothing comes up, and your infected if you see one or more matches. If your system stores its httpd elsewhere, change the first parameter to match.

These study results on energy savings aren’t surprising

This Ars Technica article talks about the politicization of energy saving products. Pitch energy efficiency as a cost savings, and liberals and conservatives alike are willing to buy. Pitch it as environmental-saving, and moderates get turned off while conservatives get even more so.

The lesson to marketers: Sell energy-efficient products as technology that promotes energy independence and cost savings. Everyone likes technology, everyone likes energy independence, and everyone likes cost savings.

And the savings is significant. Although I don’t have LED lights and an occupancy switch in every room yet, that’s my eventual goal. Even as electric rates go up, my electric bills tend to hold steady or barely go up, mostly because none of my rooms consume more than 60 watts of electricity to light them, and the highest-traffic rooms turn the lights off automatically after everyone leaves. My total usage goes down some years.

And for what it’s worth, I always preferred LED lights with occupancy switches. The LEDs don’t seem to care how often you switch them off and on; but CFL bulbs do. When using an occupancy switch with CFL bulbs, be sure to put them on their very longest time setting. Anymore, I always go with LED bulbs.

The ethics of writing nefarious security instructions

This week I posted a link to a video showing how to crack a WPS-enabled wifi network, and this week, Ars Technica wrote a firsthand account of cracking a password list. I’m sure this raises questions of ethics in some people’s minds. To be honest, spreading this kind of information makes me a little uncomfortable too, but I also think it’s necessary.

Read More »The ethics of writing nefarious security instructions

The men (boys) who spy on women through webcams

Ars Technica made a bit of a splash this week with this provocative headline. This is real.

The article gives the usual advice, like not opening e-mail from strangers, not clicking attachments from strangers, and not visiting dodgy websites. That’s all good advice, as is staying off torrent and other file sharing sites, but even all that is not enough.
Read More »The men (boys) who spy on women through webcams