Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fiefox 1.5

So Firefox 1.5 is finally out (and a new campaign - FirefoxFlicks - is going to be launched at spreadfirefox.com): being an old Mozilla aficionado since it was called Phoenix, Firebird etc. I must say I'm impressed by the speed and stability of this release.

Here's my current setup (waiting for some extensions to be updated for 1.5... are you reading CookieCuller and PermitCookies developers?):

- Flashgot;
- No Script; *
- AdBlock Plus; *
- AdBlock Filterset G updater; *
- Cute Menus;
- FasterFox: but really, FF1.5 would be fast even without this extension;

* They might overlap with some Proxomitron filters I'm using, but the mix of browser-independent and dedicated security/privacy options is unbeatable.

Check also these extesions recommended by Mozilla.org;

BTW: the Black Japan theme is beautiful. Get it.


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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Online Graffiti Generators Roundup - Get a cool template or die tryin'!

Just in case your template needs that "ghetto" touch, check these graffiti creators:

  • GraffitiCreator: flash-based, cool interface, four styles, control over width, height, rotation, lots of effects (bubbles, waves, photographic backgrounds etc.) you can assign to each single letter.


  • GraffitiGen: simpler interface, less effects and control overall, but more fonts a nice feature: along with the "piece of art", GraffitiGen will generate an Html code to paste the image your website or in a forum as a signature.


P.S.: speaking of generators, Generatorblog (last-minute find) contains an insane list of tools like these.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

10th anniversary GIMP Splash Contest

When an updated version of GIMP is released, one thing I'm curious about is how the new splash screen will look: they're always beautiful, and effectively represent the care and passion that the great community behind GIMP puts into its development.
Gimp.org just launched the 10th Anniversary GIMP Splash Contest, just in time for the upcoming 2.2.10 release: after seeing some of the current submissions, I must say I'm quite impressed.
If you want to submit your own work, hurry up: the contest will be open until Sunday the 27th of November.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Technorati Mini

I'm loving Technorati Mini, a small version of the popular service, which runs in a popup window and refreshes your search every 60 seconds. Never miss a post again!

Here's T.Mini's disclaimer:

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Technorati Mini may be habit-forming. Do not operate a motorized vehicle while using Technorati Mini. May cause excitement and/or nostalgia for Web 1.0. Minors should discuss using Technorati Mini with their parents. Technorati Mini may annoy popup-blockers. Do not taunt Technorati Mini.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Adhesive tape vs Rootkit: 1 - 0

Valentina, a young reader of SpaghettiTech, wrote me a tears-soaked email, saying that her daddy forbidded her to play her favorite Ricky Martin cd, because of the Rootkit issue.

Well, Valentina: just head for your desk drawer and grab a roll of grip tape: according to this article, you can defeat the nasty DRM just applying a small piece of (opaque) tape to the outer edge of the disc, preventing the session containing the DRM from being read.
BUT: as a BBR member points out, putting tape on CDs will likely unbalance the disk, leading to possible damages to the drive.


(source: The Register via BBR Security Forum)

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Wikipedia list of OpenSource tools

Next time you're looking for an application, check this awesome list of open source packages from Wikipedia.


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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Negroponte's $100 laptop unveiled

This 100$ laptop was announced last january by Nicholas Negroponte (from the MIT Media Lab) at the World Economic Forum.
Here (and here) are some pictures of the notebook/tabletPC which - unfortunately - won't be available for sale, but will be directly distributed to schools through large government initiatives.

Some specs:

  • OS: Linux;
  • 500 MHz processor;
  • 1 Gb memory;
  • Wi-Fi support;
  • 4 USB ports;
  • dual mode display (full color/black and white sunlight-readable);
  • Power: current, battery, windup crank;

Well, I'd gladly buy one for, let's say, 300$, allowing two more PCs to be donated.

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A.I. Web 2.0 roundup

Looking for new music/movies/books ideas? Check these smart online tools:

  • Gnod: a self-adapting system which analyzes users-submitted data and suggests new artists and titles:
    1. Gnod Music: Let gnod find out what music you like and what you don't like; submit three bands/musicians to Gnoosic and it'll suggest you new similar artists;
    2. Gnod Books: Get to know new authors and find out what other people like you like to read; type the name of an author and Literature map will display an animated map of writers that you'll probably like;
    3. Gnod Movies: Discover new movies, travel the world of film and discuss it all in the forums;
  • What Should I Read Next?: Enter a book you like and the site will analyse our database of real readers' favourite books (over 14,000 and growing) to suggest what you could read next;
  • Reader²: find new books to read in the categories of your interest;
  • Liveplasma: rich of features and eye-catching, Liveplasma shows beautiful animated maps of musicians, directors and movies that you might like;

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Download: TMR - "A smart reminder"

I like small, free and useful applications. So I like TMR, a lightweight reminder released under GPL license: you can set it (through a PIM-like interface) to show messagess or perform actions such as play sounds,open files, shutdown Windows, logoff user and switch to standby mode; each action is accompanied by a nice popup window. The program is based on Windows scheduled tasks, in order to make it as light on resources as it could be.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Funny Adobe anti-piracy campaign

Software houses are experimenting new strategies to fight piracy: Adobe just launched Copydetected.com, the site of a funny anti-piracy campaign based on the adventures of Ludo, a creative who doesn't dislike 'homemade' copies of Photoshop.
Well, a healthy laugh is always better than a nasty DRM ... and, Ludo: have you ever heard of GIMP ?

(via digg)

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Candidate for mayor dreams of a (free) Wi-Fized Milan

According to Zeus News (Italian), Davide Corritore, a possible left-wing candidate for mayor in Milan, launched a proposal for a 'public' Wi-Fi net, in order to grant a free broadband connection to every Milanese.
Not only being a valuable service to the town, the project would lead, Corritore hopes, to a further increase in the productivity of the City and to a payoff in terms of investments.
Far from not appreciating the idea (and the opportunity to say farewell to my DSL bills), I can't help asking myself if I'd put the whole (appealing, but 'science fictionish', I'm afraid) project on top of my administrative to-do list.

Nonetheless, you greedy ISPs out there have been warned.


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NewsForge's Point & Click OpenOffice.org Videos

After publishing an interesting comparison between three OpenSource word processors, NewsForge released a series of free OpenOffice.org training videos, to help new Win/Mac/Linux users to make practice with the Suite basic functions.

List of the Point & Click OpenOffice.org! videos:

* Installing OpenOffice.org

* Creating and formatting text documents

* Adding graphics to a text document

* Saving in various file formats

* Previewing and printing

* Making a spreadsheet

* Calculating values in a spreadsheet

* Basic drawing functions

* Manipulating images

* Make a slide presentation in a hurry

* Adding pictures to slide presentations

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kill Bill's Browser

Even if you're yet a Firefox abitué, this page is worth a visit: Kill Bill's Browser is the site of a "pro-Firefox - anti IE" campaign, which lists 13 (funny) reasons to switch from IE to the popular OpenSource browser.
A special mention for the (aggressive) campaign payoffs:

- Take back the web. With a vengeance;
- Get Firefox, dump Internet explorer;


(via)
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

List of titles infected by the Rootkit

EFF published a list of Sony BMG titles affected by the XCP bug.
Quite interesting: maybe it's your last chance to find Ricky Martin and Dexter Gordon in the same list.

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Go out and play: iDoom and NES Micro

iDoom (Doom running in a Linux-powered iPod Nano) is a funny hack, but seriously: my eyes used to burn after about 1h of regular Doom on a 14'' monitor; I can't figure myself playing a FP shooter on a screen far smaller than my cell phone one (and putting at risk the warranty of a beloved gadget).

For my gaming needs, I could build a NES Micro, instead: a real NES stuffed into a beautiful hand-built case a few bigger than a Game Boy Advance Micro. Oh, and it works with original NES cartridges...


(via Boing Boing)

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Free OpenSource word processors compared

Are you looking for a free, (maybe OpenSource) alternative to your current word processor? (why not?).
News Forge has just published an interesting in-depth review, comparing three free OpenSource processors: OpenOffice Writer, AbiWord, and KWord.
These were the criteria used for the comparison:

* Interface
* Styles
* Templates
* Adding objects
* Bulleted and numbered lists
* Page layout, frames, and sections
* Headers and footers
* Tables
* Indexes and tables of contents
* Footnotes and endnotes
* File import and export
* Unique features

The results? Go and read the article!

(via)

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

DRM: Sony sued by ALCEI, Electronic Frontiers Italy

ALCEI - Electronic Frontiers Italy (an Italian EFF) sued Sony BMG for using the popular, questionable DRM to copy-protect music CDs.

ALCEI refers to the rootkit as a 'virus', installed automatically, without the user's knowledge and consent, and able to cause damage to the system.
According to ALCEI, Sony BMG violated the article 392 of the Italian criminal code, (which refers to somebody who, in order to exercise a (claimed) right, arbitrarily tries to take justice into his hands, by altering, modifying, or canceling a whole software or a part of it, as well as preventing or hindering the functioning of an informatic/telematic system) and art. 615-quinquies (which sanctions every attempt to spread, transmit or deliver harmful programs, able to cause damages to an informatic/telematic system, or to the programs and data which it contains, or the interruption/corruption of its functioning).

Link to the text of the document sent to the Guardia di Finanza;
Link to the blog of Mark Russinovich, who discovered the rootkit;

(via Punto Informatico)

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Why (and how) I use a password manager - KeePass

I often find myself telling my friends why they should use a password manager and how it should be set up to make it work at its best.

Why:
  • you shouldn't use short and simple passwords or, worse, the same password for every account: a managing utility helps you handle (and create) several true 'random' passwords and passphrases you won't need to remember; you'll only have to learn a master password in order to enter your database;
  • even if your passwords are strong enough (well, in this field 'enough' is a nonsense) and you have good memory, a keylogger (in an internet cafe or lurking in a friend's computer) could easily record your key strokes, stealing your login data: some password managers come with an auto form fill feature which will recognize the site you're on and perform the correct login for you. Oh, in case you're wondering, many tools are protected against clipboard-spies too.

What:

I've tried a good part of the password managers out there, and I've always went back to KeePass.
Why? (see also the feature list):

  • It's OpenSource: for me this is a condicio sine qua non. If I'm to entrust my personal data and keys to an application, the tool must be as transparent as it could be. I simply couldn't live with the worry of a hidden backdoor;
  • It's standalone: you won't need to install it on your system;
  • It supports the AES and Twofish algorithms; SHA-256 algorithm is used to encrypt the master password;
  • Passwords are protected against clipboard spies;
  • It supports Key Disks: KeePass generates a key-file you can put in a USB or floppy and use the drive as a real 'key'. You can even use a master password and a key disk at the same time, for maximum protection;
  • The auto form fill feature works like a charm and it's easy to set up;
  • A Pocket PC version is available too;

How:

Let's try the tool:

  1. download KeePass and unzip the file somewhere on your system;
  2. Set the master password: once the program is launched, go to File -> New Database: you'll be prompted for a master password: you can enter one of your choice, or click on "Generate One" to let KeePass create a password for you (see pic) (you'll still be able to chose length and set of characters); the "collect entropy" option will give extra-strength to the keyword. A quality-meter will show in real-time how strong your password is. At this stage you make KeePass generate and use the optional key-file, checking the proper box and selecting the drive where the file will be saved; (see pic)
  3. Open the database: File -> Open Database (or Ctrl+O, or the usual yellow folder on the tool bar); select the database (in the Options panel you can set KeePass to remember the last opened database) and type the master password (if available, select the key-file drive); optionally, in the same panel, you can set an expiration date for the password;
  4. Add entries: Edit -> Add Entry (or Ctrl + Y, or the 4th icon); select a group for the password (e.g. internet, homebanking, e-mail etc) in the dropdown menu; fill the form with title, user name, URL, password (the same procedure seen for the master password); as usual, the quality meter will be a good reference point; (see pic)
  5. Set the Auto-Type feature: in the Notes field, type Auto-Type-Window: word* (where 'word' is the first word on the title bar of your browser, when you're on the login page of you choice: e.g. for blogger.com, the word will be Blogger*; the asterisk is used as a wildcard); you can set the auto type feature to store infinite custom fields and sequences of entries, TAB and Enter keys; for further explanations, click on 'URL' and 'Auto-Type' besides the 'Notes' field;
  6. Click OK and the floppy icon on the toolbar (or Ctrl-s or File -> Save Database);
  7. Now browse to the web site you want to login, place the cursor in the first field of the login form, press 'Ctrl + Alt + a' on your keyboard and KeePass will perform the auto-login with the correct pair of user ID and password for that site;

IMPORTANT: Remember that if you lose the master password, the database or the key file, your passwords will be LOST forever and you won't be able to recover them!

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

How the Death Star works

If you're saving money to buy a Death Star (or - like me - resources to build one in Ogame), this article from HowStuffWorks might prove useful: an in-depth description of the popular space station from Star Wars, covering surface, inner structure, the Superlaser (uh, and - of course - instructions on how to use it), power and propulsion and "life inside the Death Star".
But be cautious with your new cute 'black ball': please read the "So What Happens if You Blow Up a Planet?" section for further information.

(via Cinematical)

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Newsmap

In my endless search for a better way to read news and stay updated, I stumbled upon Newsmap, a beautifully designed news aggregator, reporting news from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, UK and USA.
The contents, based on Google News and updated in real-time, are organized into categories (world, nation, business, technology, sports, entertainment, health) and are displayed as colored squares, whose dimensions change according to the number of related articles.

(via EmmeBi)

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Time machine: a printed Wikipedia

According to Yahoo! News, a printed version of Wikipedia could be soon available for the 'developing World'. The popular encyclopedia could also be burned onto CDs and DVDs to be read offline.
Maybe next move will be a little music shop around the corner by iTunes.

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