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  • OPINION

    How to create your dream house with a 3D printer

    Life, James Hein, Published on 21/08/2012

    » It wasn't that long ago when printing something involved at least one sheet of paper and some ink. In recent times this has changed to no sheet of paper, an engineering plan and some exotic printing materials.

  • OPINION

    Backtracking Apple allows ad tracking

    Life, James Hein, Published on 24/10/2012

    » So you have your new iPhone 5 and you love it; good for you! The first time you access iTunes you'll need to provide a payment gateway of some kind. Unlike with Android-based devices, you'll need to give Apple financial access in order to be able to get to the free stuff. My advice, especially if you have children, is to use a debit card with a low ceiling on spending, or something similar, so that when your children use your phone and inadvertently start paying for stuff, your liability will be kept within acceptable limits.

  • OPINION

    Apple's dominance pegged by Samsung

    Life, James Hein, Published on 02/01/2013

    » For those that remember I like to use this issue to summarise what happened in 2012. Last year was finally the year of the tablet PC, and at the same time the smartphone wars. Coming into the year Apple was the dominant player in both the smartphone and the tablet arena with the iPad and the iPhone. It looked like Apple was unstoppable and at the end of the year they were still the biggest computer company beating out Microsoft in total sales. Apple also took a bit of a hit with the loss of Steve Jobs, the main driving force and the individual responsible for putting the company in the strong position it was.

  • OPINION

    Google going great, greater, the greatest?

    Life, James Hein, Published on 31/07/2013

    » In 2010 the figure was a mere 6%, but according to the monitoring firm DeepField, data to and from Google now accounts for a quarter of all traffic in the US across the internet. We all knew that Google was big, but until now no one was sure just how big they were, at least in the US. When it comes to sheer bandwidth demand at certain times of the day, the winner is Netflix, but in terms of overall traffic Google beats Netflix, Twitter and Facebook combined. Remember that Google includes YouTube and a wide range of other services.

  • OPINION

    USA? It's the United Spam of America

    Life, James Hein, Published on 30/10/2013

    » Hands up if you know which country is the biggest spammer in the world? No, not China; they're fifth. The winner of this year's inglorious gold medal goes to the US which generates over 14% of the world's spam emails, nearly triple that of Belarus, which lies in second place. Besides advertising dodgy products, many carry malicious attachments designed to make your computer _ and sometimes personal life _ miserable. If you were wondering when the first spam was sent, this is attributed to Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, who were lawyers that back in 1994 sent immigration service offers to all the Usenet groups at the time. The biggest problem in the US is the large number of unprotected computers that get used as spambot hosts.

  • OPINION

    Spies like us

    Life, James Hein, Published on 20/11/2013

    » Does anyone else find the current rhetoric around countries spying on each other hypocritical? Everyone does it, either officially or unofficially, and every country spies on its neighbours, enemies and even allies in the name of national interest. History shows us that neighbours _ and Thailand is well aware of this _ can turn on you at any time so you have to keep tabs on them. In the past the only way to do this was using human intelligence, reading letters and intercepting telegrams. These days emails are read, phones are tapped and servers are hacked in addition to using regular human intelligence. To pretend otherwise is just plain silly. For the moment the US National Security Agency just happens to have the biggest and fastest computers to do this with.

  • OPINION

    Drones target US shoppers

    Life, James Hein, Published on 11/12/2013

    » Duck, because that buzzing sound you hear might be the new delivery drones from Amazon. OK, here in Thailand they are unlikely to ever be seen, but in the US Amazon has plans to deliver packages up to 2.4kg within a 10km range of their distribution centres. Dubbed "Prime Air", this is still in the concept stage with all kinds of hurdles to pass before implementation. First off they need a reliable, cost-effective delivery drone. Another group is doing a similar thing in Haiti but in this case they are delivering medicine. This trial has had problems with mechanical failures due to humidity, dust and temperature. The next hurdle is the requirement for navigation ground stations, licenses to fly drones in a metro area, power line avoidance systems and crazy bird attacks. Yes, I did make that last one up. Given the current restrictions in all likelihood any realised solution will be deployed in a non-US country first.

  • OPINION

    When tech clouds the real issue

    Life, James Hein, Published on 18/12/2013

    » Sometimes using a computer is just an excuse not to look at the underlying problem. China has decided to use their Tianhe-1A supercomputer, the one that headed the top 500 in 2010 for a while, to work out why the country has so much smog. If you are keeping track of such things, the current top of the list in terms of most powerful computer is the Chinese Tianhe-2.

  • OPINION

    Passing the hacker hat

    Life, James Hein, Published on 02/04/2014

    » A “black hat” is a skilled hacker who tends to lurk in the background, rarely gets caught and is a master at breaking into systems, programs and data. These people have been represented in movies and are usually considered shady characters. There are, of course, rewards in being skilled in this field — both monetarily and in terms of underground notoriety — but there are also risks, such as retaliation from those that have been hacked and the continual threat of government agencies tracking them down. Lesser known but becoming more so are those called “grey hats”, who often straddle the line of legality. And as a recent conference showed, you can be rewarded for finding vulnerabilities in operating systems and application codes. There is a growing market for skilled grey hats, who are used to find holes in social media platforms and all manner of other products, ranging from smartphones to major systems. Government departments will even hire ex-black hats to secure their systems against attack. Major corporations do the same thing. So if you are a budding young hacker, you can potentially make up to $250,000 (8 million baht) if you find a zero-day problem in iOS or around half that for a Windows problem. The zero-day issue was recently represented in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.

  • OPINION

    Happy birthday, Gmail

    Life, James Hein, Published on 30/04/2014

    » This month Gmail turned 10. According to legend, it was created in the free time of Google engineers, who were allocated 20% of their time for personal projects. In those days there was Microsoft (who managed to lose all of my Hotmail emails one year; I’ve never touched it since), Yahoo! and AOL, making Gmail’s rise from nothing quite an achievement. Gmail introduced threaded mail, more data storage and allowed users to send larger emails. They also introduced an “undo send” option, long-term storage of emails, better searching and didn’t delete your account if you remained inactive for a while. It handled spam decently and worked on almost every browser. Microsoft responded by charging for extra space. No wonder it is now the top free email service, at least according to some measures.

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