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Just like anything else in life; you can take this knowledge and do good or evil with it. I’m sharing this because of three reasons. First, it requires a bit more than the average understanding of how to work with wireless networks. Second, having this sort of knowledge people will come to you for assistance. When they do these tools are VERY useful. And finally, mastering these tools will permit you to ‘harden’ your wireless security, efficiently developing your technical skills to a higher degree.

How To Crack WEP and WPA Wireless Networks from

from http://2013readsandreacts.files.wordpress.comI’ve been called a hippie or a tree hugger more than a few times in my life, so it may not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’d like to make my house as environmentally friendly as possible.  While not all of the projects I’ve got in mind are tech related, I still feel it’s a cool topic worth writing about, and maybe someone who reads this will decide they’d like to do something to reduce their footprint on the planet as well.

Use LED lighting

Switching out your old fixtures for LED fixtures is a pretty easy, and fairly cheap project.  Not only do LED lights use less energy, they also produce far less heat than your standard lighting solutions.  You can also get some pretty cool ambient lighting effects using LEDs.

Use natural lighting

This is (potentially) the most labor intensive project I’m going to suggest.  Your house may already have large windows and doors positioned in such a way that lets sunlight in, eliminating the need to have lights on during the day.  If not, adding a large window or even a skylight could provide a natural daylight lighting solution.  Unless you’re a contractor though, I wouldn’t suggest doing this on your own.  I, for one, will be paying a professional to tear holes in my ceiling.

Install solar panels

I know, I know, this has got to be one of the most cliché suggestions for making your house more green, but with all the advancements being made in solar energy technology, it almost doesn’t make sense NOT to have them.  I’m a huge fan of solar tech, an area which has seen significant advancements in the past couple of years.  If you’ve pondered the idea of installing solar panels but thought they were just too ugly, you can always throw down for solar shingles instead.

Green Switches

With all the electronics and gadgets I own, installing Green Switches is by far my favorite idea for saving energy.  Sadly, it also the improvement I’m the least likely to make due to the price tag associated with these light switch/power outlet combos.  The pricing has magically vanished from the page since I originally priced them, but it was about $1000 for a few outlets, slave switches, and a master switch.  One can only hope the price has dropped since then.

The idea behind these switches is pretty simple.  Electronic devices are always using electricity, even when they’re not turned on.  You install the outlets and switches, and plug your appliances (computer, entertainment center, etc) into an outlet.  When you’re not using said appliances, you flip the switch, and it cuts the power to the outlet, preventing the appliances from sipping energy.  You can program the master switch to cut power to all the outlets, which is great for when you turn in for the night, or leave the house.

Install a recirculating water pump

This is a pretty simple project you can do to conserve water.  These pumps work by sending water back to the water heater until the water warms, instead of letting it go down the drain.  Not only does this conserve water, but it helps reduce the amount of time needed to warm the water up, since the water headed back to the heater may already be slightly warmed.  Just install one of these pumps under the kitchen sink, or any sink where you think you might be waiting for the water to warm up.

Tankless water heater

I’ve heard mixed reviews on tankless water heaters.  Some people say they’re great and provide hot water almost instantly.  Other people have told me that they take time to warm the water up.  It may depend on the quality/capacity of the heater itself.  I’ve not used one of these before, so I can’t make my own judgement yet.  The house I’m moving into has one though, so I guess I’ll find out shortly whether they’re worth it.  My father, who was a plumber for over 30 years, swears by them, especially gas tankless water heaters.  Tankless water heaters don’t start heating water until it is needed, versus a traditional water heater, which is constantly heating water all day long.

This time, it’s for real, folks!  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is up and running (again), and has started circulating a beam.

For those who may not know, the LHC is only the biggest, baddest, and most powerful particle accelerator the world has seen to date, boasting a 27km circumference which crosses the border between France and Switzerland. Once the LHC is eventually ramped up to full power sometime after 2010, it will smash beams of electrons into each other at near light-speed to extend the limits of our understanding of the universe’s physics. Researchers are hoping to gain more insight into the Big Bang, discover new particles associated with supersymmetry, and possibly even discover the theoretical Higgs boson, which names the origin of mass in the universe.  Some researchers even liken it to ‘The Force’ from Star Wars (nerds can dream too).  The LHC is a collaboration between over 100 countries.

Various groups have criticized the LHC  with claims that it will destroy the planet by creating microscopic black holes or theoretical particles known as ‘strangelets’. Two CERN-sponsored safety reviews, endorsed by the American Physical Society, were conducted and state there is no cause for concern. I, for one, am flipping excited to see what the research uncovers.

It is not as simple as stating that Google Wave provides real-time communications and collaboration between your contacts. Google Wave,  making use of new features provided by HTML 5, is the digital equivalent of meeting with others and working on the same project. Google Wave creates only one message that participants chosen by the owner-creator can read and edit instead of creating multiple copies of an email message to send to each recipient. Epipheo Studios created an excellent a video on the process.

I enjoyed what has been accessable during the preview and continue to look forward to future items and features. I can’t wait for Google to integrate all Gmail and Google Voice functionality into Google Wave, as I’m sure that most (if not all) other Google products will be. I am half tempted to take the development kits and start cranking on code myself. The other half, sadly enough,  has enough sense to know that perhaps this level of coding is beyond my talents. But even then, perhaps I only have to keep one browser window open then! 

Although there are other players in the field Google keeps coming out strong and Google Wave will be making heads turns in the industry.

First of all let me apologize for the lack of posts this week. Here at the labs (its not really labs but it sounds cool) we been playing with Google Wave. More that in the near future.

So I’m almost at the point of switching phones. The phone can still find a home somewhere else, so I decided to look into unlocking it so it can be used in other networks in case the next owner does not use AT&T as a wireless provider. So I look up support chat after logging in to my online account and select the ‘other’ option to iniciate the session. Then I am asked to fill out some information related to the phone make/model and my account number and then go online with a support agent.

After requesting for the phone’s IMEI and the last four of the account holder’s social, I was provided an unlock code (specific to each phone). The agent did say to insert the other carrier’s SIM card but this was not neccessary for my LG Incite C810. I just had to enter the provider code to get to the unlock interface and punched in the unlock code provided and viola!

And I also blocked all SMS and MMS messages while I was at it. Loving Google Voice direct to contacts messaging!

With Windows 7 making its debut, some people might be wondering whether they should buy the software to install on their current PC, or shell out some dough for a sweet new box.  The short answer is, ‘You should probably get a new computer that comes with Windows 7 installed already,’ with a few exceptions.

To get the most of Windows 7, you’re going to want a 64-bit processor.  If your current PC has one (and it should if you’ve bought or built a new computer in the last year or two) then you may not need to buy a new computer, provided your motherboard allows you to upgrade to 4GB or more of RAM.  Please note that you may not need a full 4GB of RAM, but one of the huge advantages of having a 64-bit architecture is that it allows you to take full advantage of having 4GB of RAM, and the operating system will run more smoothly.

If, although, your current machine does have a 64 bit processor, and you can or already have upgraded your RAM to 4GB or more of RAM, then by all means, save some money and just buy the software.  There is, however, a third option which I prefer:  Buy a Mac.

I’ve not installed Windows 7 on a PC or upgraded from XP or Vista to Windows 7, so I cannot speak about any difficulties or compatibility issues that may or may not exist.  I have installed Windows 7 using VMWare Fusion on my Mac though, and it was ridiculously easy.  True, Macs may cost more ,  but after using a Mac for almost a year now I can safely say that, in my opinion, they are better built machines and you will have far fewer problems, whether you’re talking about compatibility issues, stability of the operating system,  viruses, or structural integrity of the chassis.

I am going to use Google as an example because this is what I’m most familiar with. keep in mind that there are alternatives out there.

When I finally voluntarily surrendered my company mobile phone (alas, goodbye Blackberry) I had to shop around for a cell phone. I wanted one that I could connect to my Windows PC without third-party software and keep it in sync. If I would have taken more time to research I probably would have settled for a different phone. For those who don’t know, syncing your phone to your Outlook does not configure your phone to receive emails direct from the email server. So the only time your phone will sync is when you connect it to the PC.

Enter Google, my hero with shiny teeth and spandex. Now without the need of special applications or complex configuration now I can sync my information from one central point. From the Gmail website with Google Sync I can update my contact list, calendar, and not miss any of my emails on my Windows Pocket PC. Availability of each service vary depending on your platform [what you are computing on].

Maybe your current communications management provider (i.e.: Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL You Got Mail) has some form of syncing services. But compare them to what Google offers and seriously consider migrating!

Before you begin reading, I am aware of technical zealots that are either for or against this emerging technology. At this moment I have in my pocket a Mobile PC that back in the late 60’s used to take up multiple floors. In a technical world you can’t just dismiss new technology. It’s counter productive against the very idea of technology. So if you don’t get how important cloud computing is or it’s your own personal bogey man please skip over this article.

Cloud Computing 101. The cloud referenced in the term is the internet. The term ‘Computing’ refers to the average use and interaction with your computer. A simplified explanation of Cloud Computing then is breaking free the tasks and services you use on your computers and moving them to the internet. Hope I didn’t lose you there!

I recall one of the first services I begun using online was emails. It was popular in college campuses known as HoTMaiL. This service extended our email accounts outside of the college mail servers (goodbye .edu email addresses!) and allowed portability of our services if we left the college for whatever reasons. This service proved popular and Microsoft acquired it in 1997. The next service I added to my ‘net toolbox was Paintbucket. Now I can access and share pictures online. Next major service was Napster! Digital pirating made easy! Although downloading one song over a phone modem was… pretty horrible. But we shared files and were merry. It This doesn’t seem much like a big deal these days. But Facebook, Twitter, even MySpace had to start from somewhere!

These days online services and applications (web apps) are much more evolved and refined. Common computer uses such as communications (email, contact management, calendars), office suite (word processing, spreadsheets), and file storage  have moved to the cloud. What you will want to do is organize your computing activities using these online services efficiently. The trade-off, just like everything in life, is security. The most secure way to use computers is to never connect it online, encrypt the contents, and not just have one but multiple layers of passwords. You are opening a new way for people to attack your computer once you connect online on the world-wide level. More so if you use wireless networking. And  if asked to move their information to online services a security minded person would explode!

So if you are using the free services provided by corporations such as Microsoft and Google, maybe it’s time to consider ways to organize your content and let concepts of Cloud Computing work for you!

You didn’t think that was the end, did you? More articles to follow-on ways to start the big move.

Let the rivalry begin! An Apple fan retaliated against the drioddoes ads with her own droiddoesnot. High reviews are making their way around the net. But as the world knows, this wouldn’t be the first time a manufactured rival to the iPhone fell short on denting its standing (no offense to Blackberry Storm or G1 owners).

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Drew Harris
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Nestor S. Sanchez
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Mental Gear Unlimited. The idea was spawned in 1994 when a high school student combined his love for art, music, and non-sequitur humor for a marketing project.

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