Weekly Round-Up

Here we are at the Labor Day weekend, and all to soon the Summer of 2014 has come to it's unofficial end. Nevertheless, I have another collection of carefully culled items for your edification, amusement or possible annoyance...




Michael J Fox And Intel vs Parkinson's Disease

BetaNews - You're likely familiar with actor Michael J. Fox, star of the Back to the Future movies, that we, of a certain age, all remember. Now the actor suffers from Parkinson's Disease, a malady his foundation wishes to draw awareness to, perhaps even help with finding a cure.

Now wearable technology is getting in on the action. Intel has teamed up with the charity in an effort to utilize such items as the Pebble Watch to help in the fight. While a number of people are skeptical about this path that technology is now heading down, this certainly makes for a good use that few would likely argue against.

"By harnessing the power of data science, wearable technologies like smartwatches, and cloud computing, researchers can explore individual patients’ experience with the disease -- looking for patterns and insights that were unavailable to them before -- and hopefully lead to improved treatments", Pebble announces.


Remember This? Windows 95

On August 24th 1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95. The very successful operating system introduced the Start button and set the basic look and feel of subsequent Windows versions until Windows 8 appeared in the latter part of 2012. Interestingly, the initial release of Windows 95 did not include the Internet Explorer web browser, and the default installation did not include TCP/IP networking (the network protocol used on the Internet).

The System Requirements are something to behold almost 20 years later. Notice only 8 MB [megabytes] of memory are recommended, where even a cheap smartphone today has 512MB, and most computers would have at least 2GB [gigabytes].

Q - Which Rolling Stones song was heavily featured in the marketing campaign for Windows 95? (answer below)

System requirements for installing Windows 95:
Personal computer with a 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended)
    4 megabytes (MB) of memory (8 MB recommended)
Typical hard disk space required to upgrade to Windows 95: 35-40 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
Typical hard disk space required to install Windows 95 on a clean system: 50-55 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
    One 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive
    VGA or higher resolution (256-color SVGA recommended)

To use Microsoft Exchange and The Microsoft Network:

    8 MB of memory
    20 MB of additional hard disk space
    Modem (required for using The Microsoft Network) 

A - "Start Me Up" was heavily featured in the marketing campaign for Windows 95

Then And Now - Waiting For Public Transport

Not much has changed


How Many Apps Are Enough?

When I hear claims that Apple or Android has a million apps (or whatever the numbers currently are) for their mobile devices, my jaundiced self immediately concludes that 95% or more of those must just be filler; app dross, if you like. Choice is great, but when I used a smartphone, I believe I actually downloaded and used perhaps 3 apps that were not native to the device. With my current Android tablet, I have 4 or 5 at last count. I thought it was just me, but I found some vindication (or at least affirmation) in a report for comScore that shows that 65% of users don't download a single app in any given month.
So, why are so few people downloading apps each month? Well, it's not because apps aren't useful as comScore tells us that half of all smartphone users access apps every single day of the month. And pricing certainly isn't a concern as most apps are free.
The answer, then, is likely quite simple - people just don't need a lot of apps. The apps that users already have seem to be meeting their daily needs as evident by comScore's finding that 42 percent of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on the individual's single most used app.

SSD Laptop Upgrade

I finally completed an on-again-off-again project and upgraded my laptop hard disk to an SSD (Solid State Drive, with no moving parts). This is really not a difficult project in most cases, and you are rewarded with snappier, quieter and cooler performance. In my case, because I run Linux on my laptop, it was perhaps a little easier that it would be for a Windows computer. I say that only because Linux comes with versions of most commonly-used applications already installed (an office suite, photo editor and so on), whereas with Windows you would generally need to reinstall your applications after reinstalling Windows.

Backoff Malware Lurking Around In The Backgound

The US Dept Of Homeland Security has announced that more than a thousand businesses are unwittingly harboring the Backoff malware package on their networks. Initially, the malware was not found by most anitivirus packages and the DHS is now urging IT departments to make sure their networks are clean.
Backoff first appeared in October 2013 and is capable of scraping the memory contents of point of sales systems -- industry speak for cash registers and other terminals used at store checkouts -- for data swiped from credit cards, from monitoring the keyboard and logging keystrokes, from communicating with a remote server.
"Over the past year, the Secret Service has responded to network intrusions at numerous businesses throughout the United States that have been impacted by the "Backoff" malware," the alert said. "Seven PoS system providers/vendors have confirmed that they have had multiple clients affected."
The malware is thought to be responsible for the recent data breaches at Target, SuperValu supermarkets and UPS stores, and the Secret Service is still learning of new infections.