From The Erbo Files
Sunday, July 1, 2012

  • A USB drive shaped like a tampon. Write your own punchline!  (Note the sizes it comes in, too: "Light Flow" (2 Gb), "Moderate Flow" (4 Gb), and "Heavy Flow" (8 Gb).  Via Bruce Schneier, who I think is just about as dumbstruck as most people that this exists.)

  • New programming language: Objectivist-C. Every object is an end in itself, not a means to the ends of others. (This is one of those jokes that walks a fine line. Hardcore Randites will probably start screeching "That's not funny!", while most people, who know nothing about Ayn Rand or Objectivism, will scratch their heads and go "Huh?" Via Eric S. Raymond on Google+.)

  • There's new malware, "Flame," infecting a number of computer systems, primarily in Iran and the Middle East, which may be part of a cyberwar effort against the outlaw nation. What's surprising is how big it is; it's 20 megabytes when fully-configured, and sports such advanced features as SQLite3 databases, a plug-in architecture with about 20 different plug-ins, and code written in the Lua scripting language. The fact that it can consume that much memory and storage (and, presumably, commensurate CPU cycles and network bandwidth), and yet go unnoticed, is just...mindboggling. (Via Bill Quick)

  • Airlines are imposing higher fees on families who want to make sure they sit together on flights. Honestly, at this point, are they just sitting around and brainstorming ways to make people want to actively avoid using their services? Between the Transportmittel Sturmabteilung, the nickel-and-diming to death, and the piss-poor-and-getting-poorer service, I know I wouldn't fly anywhere unless I had no other choice. (And the new Taurus will make road trips a bit more expensive...but also a lot more comfortable.)

  • I got a postcard in the mail purportedly from the Poway High Alumni Publication Office, asking me to call and update my information for an upcoming directory. The postcard turned out to actually be from a company called Harris Connect, which apparently gloms onto high school and college alumni associations and, when alumni call in, gives them the hard sell to buy very expensive directories...and, if you change your mind, good luck getting your money back afterwards. Any company that has Google Autocomplete adding "scam" after their name as the top search suggestion is probably not one you want to do business with. Here's an example. (Besides, the postcard had my last name misspelled. Trust me, nobody from Poway is likely to misspell my last name...) The postcard went straight into the shredder.

  • I haven't spoken up about some Internet assholes that have shown up recently, but if you want to read about assholes, Ken at Popehat has the scoop on them, particularly this asshole and that asshole. You're welcome.

  • Well, that about wraps it up for RIM. The Blackberry maker is laying off 5000 people and delaying the launch of BB10 OS to 2013. At this point, BB10 is about three years late already, and any further delay is just going to affect the depth at which RIM gets buried.

  • The bad news for RIM comes on the heels of a stunning development: A hacker has gotten (some) iOS apps to run on a Playbook. In an alternate universe in which RIM's executives didn't have their heads up their asses, they would acquire or license this technology (which is similar in some respects to the WINE Windows emulator for Linux, and is completely legal under the ruling just made in Oracle v. Google), open up to GAPPS for Android (which can already be done), and sell the shit out of these capabilities, saying, "Blackberry runs all your favorite iOS and Android apps...and runs them better!" That'd even be true, thanks to the underlying QNX kernel technology of Playbook 2.0/BB10. That would be a kick in the crotch to both Apple and Google, and might save RIM. Alas, it is not to be. (Karl Denninger, who has written extensively about RIM, mentioned this on his blog...after I tipped him off to it.)

  • Remember how I noted that Minecraft was, in some ways, like a primitive version of Second Life? At least one SL landowner, Desmond Shang, "the Guvnah" of steampunk community Caledon, has exploited these similarities with a promotion: rent SL land from him, get free access to a private Minecraft server. Hamlet Au of New World Notes describes the deal and details how other SL estate owners might do the same thing.

  • Also from NWN on Minecraft: If you're looking to replace the standard "Steve?" skin of your Minecraft "avatar" with something a bit more...feminine, here are three skins that show you can look girly even in a low-res world. (The Xbox version doesn't have downloadable skin support, though. It's coming...eventually.)

  • XKCD has an even simpler answer to Moon-landing deniers. Simple, true...and scathing. "That burn was so harsh I think you deorbited."



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