Category Archives: news

Need to cross China quickly? There’s a train for that



bigstock-High-Speed-Train-18755

China loves its high-speed rail lines. Now the country is boasting that it is even faster and cheaper to go from one end to the other, with the “longest” high-speed rail line in the world — a staggering 2,298 kilometer stretch of metal that reaches from north to south across the nation.

The new trains move at 186 mph and run between  Beijing in the north and Guangzhou in the south. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the ride will still take eight hours, but that is much faster than the previous twenty that this journey used to entail.

Plus there is an added bonus — the $139 price tag for a ticket to go the distance is considerably cheaper than flying. although it does still take more time than traveling by air. Still, a slightly slower journey at a much-discounted price represents real competition. Now, if only services like this would come to the United States, where our infrastructure is in great need of a serious upgrade.

Image High Speed Train by BigStock


The increasingly bizarre world of John McAfee



There is perhaps no need to bore you with past details because by now all of you likely know the saga of John McAfee, the creator of McAfee anti-virus. He has been living on an island along the coast of Belize for the past five years, but recently ran into a bit of trouble there. McAfee hasn’t actually been charged with murder, contrary to what many assume. He is simply wanted for questioning, although the implications are there.

While on the run for the past few weeks in his adopted homeland, McAfee has kept an active blog which is entertaining and sometimes quite strange. In fact, the blog is now pushing a “Boycott Belize” promotion.

This week he surfaced across the border in Guatamala where he filmed a video that was posted to YouTube. He was also arrested there and is being held in prison, from which he is still blogging.

“I am in jail in Guatemala.  Vastly superior to Belize jails.  I asked for a computer and one magically appeared.  The coffee is also excellent.”

“I just spoke with the duty officer at the Embassy who said there is nothing that they can do.  I asked to be returned to the States, and again … nothing they can do.”

“I’ve been reading posts (There’s no TV here).  One poster asked, in a kindly way, whether I felt like killing myself.  My reply: “I enjoy living, and suicide is absurdly redundant.  The world, from the very begining, hurls viruses, accidents, hungry animals, defective DNA — and uncountable more – in an attempt to kill us. It always succeeds. Suicide is simply aiding and abetting.” My spirits are brighter.”

Where will this made-for-TV-movie plot twist to next? Given his ramblings it’s very hard to say. Is he guilty? I am not a judge or even an experienced legal analyst. Is all of this fascinating? There I can emphatically say YES!

Image: John McAfee Facebook page


World Leaders In Their Underpants



North Korea's Kim Jong-un

I’m generally not a big fan of politicians. There’s too many of them, they’re overpaid and they get their job through a blind popularity contest. At least with X-Factor and Pop Idol, the contestants have to show what they’re skilled at before we vote for them.

So it was with much glee that I came across World Leaders in their Underpants which literally strips politicians, dictators and royalty to their underwear. Created by cartoonist Nick Hilditch, he’s drawing his way through the world’s countries and now has over 120 of the world’s most powerful people in their smalls. All in the best possible taste of course. Regrettably, he’s not yet disrobed either the USA’s President or the UK’s Prime Minister so you’ll have to sign up to Nick’s RSS feed, follow @understates or like on Facebook to await their arrival. I’m told by Nick that Iraq is next.

The perfect antidote to Newsweek, Time and The Economist!

Picture courtesy of Nick Hilditch.


VPN Usage On The Rise Where Internet Surveillance Increases



Young Swedes Going Covert On Internet With VPNs

As lawmakers across the globe attempt to pin down a wriggling Internet with rules aimed at stemming file sharing between users (but, curiously, increasing file sharing between governments and corporations), among other things, there appears to be a growing movement towards purchased privacy by the Internet community – particularly the younger folks.

TorrentFreak shared a study this week done by a research group from Lund University in Sweden showing a significant increase in the number of 15 to 25 year-olds buying and using VPN (virtual private network) services – some 40% more since late 2009.

As TorrentFreak points out, Sweden’s Internet community faces a unique strain of web surveillance with its spacious bandwidth and status as homebase to The Pirate Bay – the leading location on the Internet for getting things for free. That puts a lot of eyes on the Internet users of Sweden and, according to Lund University’s Cybernorms research group, 700,000 Swedes are paying for VPN services designed to hinder access to – and surveillance of – their online activities.

Compared to 500,000 Swedes using VPNs in 2009, the demographic pushing the nearly 30% increase in users looking to limit snooping on their web behaviors are young people in the 15 to 25 year-old age bracket. That demo comprises 15% of the total and is up by about 10% from 2009.

It’s not hard to see the pattern. As surveillance (by governments and private entities like Facebook and Google and other Internet entities) continues to heighten under the guise of hunting for file sharers, the technology to prevent such snooping will not only get better, but more people will be willing to shell out a few bucks for it.

If interested in learning more about VPNs, TorrentFreak put together a great list of which VPN providers actually do what they claim, and which ones don’t.

Image: VPN Net from BigStockPhoto.com


World Wide Web Turns 19 Today



Okay, that headline is a bit misleading because World Wide Web, or W3, is actually older than 19, but on April 30, 1993 it officially entered open-source.  That was probably the biggest open source project in history and it was instituted by the “father of the internet”, Tim Berners-Lee while working at CERN in Switzerland.

Berners-Lee, in 1989, wrote the original proposal to use hypertext to “link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will”.  When the project was released to the public domain on this day in 1993 the official document announcing it referred to it as “a global computer networked information system”  It went on to state that “CERN’s intention in this is to further compatibility, common practices, and standards in networking and computer supported collaboration”.

The original browser, simply called “World Wide Web” is still available for download today.  The file size is measured in kilobytes, as opposed to today’s browsers which are many times that size.


Panasonic Goes Big At NAB 2012



The New AG-HPX600 - Image Courtesy Panasonic

It’s been a big couple of days for Panasonic at the 2012 NAB Show in Las Vegas – announcing a slew of new products and strategic partnerships that boost the broadcasting chops of this tech giant.

Leading the Panasonic pack of announcements is the new AG-HPX600 P2 HD camcorder with 10-bit, 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording and boasting the lowest weight of a shoulder-mount unit.

“With its ultra-light weight and low power consumption, the HPX600 is the first shoulder mount that’s easy on the shoulder while being super-efficient on battery usage,” said Joseph Facchini, Vice President, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. “With its innovative design and selectable options, the HPX600 is upgradable to new technology such as wireless remote from a smart phone and much more.”

Weighing in at less than 7 pounds with noticeably low power usage, the HPX600 uses a newly-developed 2/3 type MOS sensor to produce HD and SD images. This future-proof camera aims to provide inventive functionality and improved workflows, with options such as wireless metadata input, proxy recording, and variable frame rates (available Fall 2012), and subsequently AVC-ULTRA recording.

According to Panasonic, the AG-HPX600 will be available in the Fall with a starting price around $16,000 for the body alone.

New Cards; Projectors; and Partners

In addition to the light-weight AG-HPX600, Panasonic also unveiled a new series of 64GB and 32GB microP2 cards – designed for high-speed transfers, reliability, and the writing assurance of all P2 frame rates, formats and codecs. Panasonic also announced the microP2 Card Adaptor, both slated for availability next Spring.

Other new products announced at NAB this week by Panasonic:

  • the PT-DZ21 3-chip DLP projector series – the world’s smallest and lightest 20,000 lumen projectors;
  • the expansion LCD production monitors with the BT-LH2170 21.5” and BT-LH1850 18.5” models; and,
  • upgrades to  the AG-AF100 Large Sensor HD Cinema camera; the AG-HPX250  P2 HD and AG-AC160/AC130 AVCCAM HD handheld camcorders; as well as to the AJ-HPM200 and AJ-HPD2500 solid-state recorders.

Panasonic also announced a few new partnerships that has the industry buzzing:

  • Panasonic and Dejero Labs will offer the Dejero LIVE+ NewsBook – a cellular uplink solution for remote production and electronic news-gathering operations.
  • Panasonic and Aframe will create the Panasonic Production Network (PPN), a cloud video production network that allows professionals to rapidly upload and view their high-quality video from dedicated cloud servers.
  • Panasonic and LiveU announced a new collaboration to deliver an integrated camcorder and live video uplink solution, utilizing the new LU40i video uplink device and the new AJ-HPX600 P2 camcorder with planned wireless integration features. Geek News Central covered that announcement earlier this week.

For more information about Panasonic’s NAB announcements, visit www.panasonic.com/nab.

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LiveU To Unveil LU70 Mobile Uplink Unit At NAB 2012 Show



New LU70 mobile broadcasting unit - image courtesy LiveU

Portable broadcasters will have a lot to digest at the 2012 NAB Show thanks to the newest LiveU video-over-cellular offering – the professional-grade LU70 Mobile Uplink Unit.

The big boost with this newest incarnation of LiveU’s backpack broadcasting unit comes in the antennae array on the LU70 – an internal/external arrangement designed to improve connectivity in less than desirable conditions. After all, a portable video broadcasting unit is only as good as its ability to get that signal.

“The internal antennas support a larger number of frequencies, ensuring enhanced signal performance with long-range reception and increased uplink capability, “ LiveU announced just days before this year’s NAB show in Las Vegas. “The new external antenna array provides additional resiliency for extreme scenarios, such as heavily crowded locations. Boosted by its remotely-located antennas, the LU70 supports up to 14 cellular links simultaneously. The unit can automatically swap between internal and external antennas as needed, according to the network conditions.” Continue reading LiveU To Unveil LU70 Mobile Uplink Unit At NAB 2012 Show