Archive for August, 2010

Reality – Couldn’t It Be Better?

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Let’s face it.  Reality is not all its cracked up to be.  But how can you make it better?  Well this isn’t a metaphysical rant on how your perception defines reality….I am a geek…this is about new technology!

Augmented Reality (AR) is, according to Wikipedia,  “a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery.”

What this really means is you can use a video device, your phone or special glasses to “overlay” information on what you see.  This can be used for medical procdures, technicians, just about anybody.  Imagine being able to look inside a computer and little tags popped up telling you what the parts were, what they did and if they were working or not?  Or imagine you are in a strange city and want to sample the local cuisine where do you go?  who do you ask?

Enter augmented reality now on a smartphone near you ( yes even iphones)  There are many apps out for the Droid based phones that let you experience AR.  From moving maps to resturant hunting.  One app in particular creates a platform to run all different kinds of layers over reality, hence the name Layar.

Layar works on the Droid and Iphone platforms and allows you to select different categories to view.  Eating and drinking being a favorite category of mine I selected that and found restaurants of the Mexican persuasion, ratings from users on how good they were and it displayed on my phone how far approximately each was!

Resturants

Layar also has categories like Healthcare, Schools, Real Estate, Games etc. Most content on Layar is user driven so you can add your own videos and overlays to it for the world to see!

One of the many AR apps worth mentioning is 3dCompass which displays a marine compass over video of where you are at and a map!  Great for guys like me who get lost frequently!

3dcompass

There are also AR games of course.  I went to the park and tested out “Maze” a Layar game.  Remember the PC game Wolfenstein 3d?  Its like that only you are playing in a big field.  See Mom this video game wont make me fat and lazy! 🙂

There are other AR applications not centered on phones.  Most of them are specializaed and a bit geeky.  One in particular is Sixth Sense .   Sixth Sense combines cameras, projector, computer and your hand gestures to allow you to makie phone calls or manipulate data using your hands.

There are many Augmented Reality apps and you can Google them to find the ones that fit your needs.  AR is definitely  a cool new tool that is changing the way people look at their world.

Spam Scams on the rise

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Over the past month more and more users have been receiving increased numbers of SPAM phising attacks.  These attacks come via email and usually have attachments.  The SPAM emails are getting past SPAM filters and hitting users mjailboxes with very legitimate sounding subjects.  This causes most users to open the attachments and inect their PC’s.

So I have found several reasons fro the increased attacks

http://isc.sans.edu/diary.html?storyid=9175

and

http://www.spamfighter.com/News-14908-Increasing-Sasfis-Botnet-Variants-continue-Delivering-Spam-Fortinet.htm

The emails look very legitimate.  In some case from online stores, banks etc look EXACTLY like emails you would normally receive from the legitimate vendors.   They are crafted in such a way as to bypass existing spam filter technology and everyone is scrambling to come up with new rules to block them.

For now your best defense is DO NOT OPEN ANY ATTACHMENTS from people you do not know and are not expecting attachments sent to you.  This is a tried and true rule that many users forget in their daily routines.

If your PC is slowing down or generally acting strange contact and IT Management professional and get it cleaned.  the sooner the better!

jason