Monday, December 30, 2013

The Storage Capacity of DNA

While reading the December 2013 issue of the Awake! magazine, i saw this article. After reading it, I just had to share it with you. This technology could make terrabyte hard drives feel like 3.5" diskettes.

"COMPUTER users generate enormous amounts of digital data that has to be stored for access as needed. Scientists are hoping to revolutionize current methods for digital storage by imitating a far superior data-storage system found in nature—DNA.

Consider: DNA, found in living cells, holds billions of pieces of biological information. “We can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths . . . and make sense of it,” says Nick Goldman of the European Bioinformatics Institute. “It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy.” Could DNA store man-made data? Researchers say yes.

Scientists have synthesized DNA with encoded text, images, and audio files, much as digital media stores data. The researchers were later able to decode the stored information with 100 percent accuracy. Scientists believe that in time, using this method, 0.04 ounce (1 g) of artificial DNA could store the data of some 3,000,000 CDs and that all this information could be preserved for hundreds if not thousands of years. Potentially, this system could store the whole world’s digital archive. DNA has thus been dubbed “the ultimate hard drive.”

What do you think? Could the storage capacity of DNA have come about by evolution? Or was it designed?" -Awake! December 2013

To see the original article, check it out here:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Razor-qt, a sharp looking desktop

In searching the web for the newest in Linux tech, I came across Razor-qt, a desktop environment for Linux.

It's hard to win me over. I have been a  ardent fan of XFCE for a very long time, and still will be for a long time to come I believe.

I have to say that Razor is the first desktop environment that actually stands nearly toe to toe with XFCE, in my opinion.

What makes an excellent desktop environment?

For me their are a few key features I want above the rest.

Number one is functional. It has to have the ability to do everything I want it to do without going to the terminal/cli. All the setting should be graphical in nature.

Razor fulfills this.

A very close number 2 is speed. One of the reasons XFCE wins out with me is because they handle requirement number one with grace while still being very very fast.

Razor is not as flushed out on desktop settings as XFCE, but it makes up for it by being as fast as XFCE, I dare say even a hair faster.

Number 3 is where Razor shines. After function and speed, I do care somewhat about form.

Razor is quite beautiful to me. I belief Razor has XFCE beat in the looks department.

Here are 2 screen shots from my desktop to give you a taste of how it looks:

Here's what the Razor-qt team has to say about their project:

"Razor-qt is an advanced, easy-to-use, and fast desktop environment based on Qt technologies. It has been tailored for users who value simplicity, speed, and an intuitive interface. Unlike most desktop environments, Razor-qt also works fine with weak machines.
While still a new project, Razor-qt already contains the key DE components:

Application launcher
Settings center
You can use either all of them or part of them. Razor-qt works with various WMs, most of Razor developers use Openbox. But it's no problem to take any modern WM from fwwm2 to kwin (yes, KDE without Plasma Desktop is possible too).
Razor-qt is a new open-source project and you can help us improve it. We welcome your bug reports and suggestions; you are free to translate all into your own language, create more attractive graphics, anything."

To install Razor in Ubuntu, I had to follow these simple steps in the terminal/cli:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:razor-qt

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install razorqt

For more information on other platforms, check out

When installing Razor-qt in Xubuntu 12.04, I was prompted with the question of what window manager to use with Razor. Since XFCE was already installed, I use XFCE's window manager, xfwm.

I have had no problems with using xfwm. I did need to use lxappearance to get the icons in thunar to look right. Other than that, everything went fairly smooth. (And I don't think that is a xfwm issue..)

I am torn. I am still the skeptic waiting to find something that doesn't sit quite right for me, sending me back to the open arms of XFCE.

If I had to choose between XFCE and Razor, for now it would still be XFCE. Most likely because I know XFCE well enough to feel comfortable with it.

But in all fairness, Razor is still in beta stages. Also, I want to point out that Razor is definitely my 2nd choice, and just barely at that.

If the choice was between Razor and LXDE, Razor would win in a land slide.

Since we all have differences of opinion, and cherish different things, I suggest you try Razor for yourself. It takes only minutes or seconds to download, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by Razor.

Here are some more screenshots thanks to that will give you a more rounded out feel of what Razor can do:

Razor-qt 0.5. Default theme.

Razor-qt 0.3. Abut dialog. Green theme.

And some more screens thanks to Google's Image search:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Munich completes switch to Linux

The city of Munich has been in the Linux news for some time.

They have made headlines since they first released plans of completely switching over from proprietary systems such as Microsoft Windows to a specialized version of Linux, some time ago.

Munich city officials reported that Munich has finished this process as of today, December 12th, 2013.

While it's a feather in the cap of us open source Linux fans out there, the officials report that there have been excellent side effects to this project.

Munich city officials reported saving over 11 million euros switching.

This is just a mile stone marker among many that have been completed already.

Linux now has the lions share of the market. Microsoft Windows now really only has a small market control, and that is in home computers.

To those of you who are telling yourselves you don't use Linux, don't be so certain.

Linux is found in tablets, cars, microwave ovens, televisions, watches, cell phones, and on, and on.

If you have used a computerized device, then you most like;y have used Linux.

If you have used Google, Facebook, Twitter or many of the biggest internet services available, then you have used Linux servers indirectly.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

FSF touts Windows as unsafe, proprietary software the culprit

The Free Software Foundation has responded to Microsoft's privacy and encryption announcement, explaining that, in fact, it's all in vain.

Microsoft has made some promises regarding an effort to protect customer data from government snooping, but the Free Software Foundation thinks that everything they've said is actually in vain.

“While we have no direct evidence that customer data has been breached by unauthorized government access, we don't want to take any chances and are addressing this issue head on. Therefore, we will pursue a comprehensive engineering effort to strengthen the encryption of customer data across our networks and services,” said Brad Smith, general counsel & executive vice president, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.

On the other hand, the Free Software Foundation says anything that Microsoft will do in this regard can't really be trusted because they are using proprietary software.

“Microsoft has made renewed security promises before. In the end, these promises are meaningless. Proprietary software like Windows is fundamentally insecure not because of Microsoft's privacy policies but because its code is hidden from the very users whose interests it is supposed to secure. A lock on your own house to which you do not have the master key is not a security system, it is a jail,” said FSF Executive Director John Sullivan.

The FSF director has explained that, while the promise of “transparency” sounds good, it will amount to nothing because it's impossible to review the code that they are running.

“Freedom and security necessitate not just being allowed a peek at the code. Microsoft has demonstrated time and time again that its definition of a 'back door' will not be the same as yours. Noticing that the back door is wide open will do you no good if you are forbidden from shutting it,” ended John Sullivan.

If we were to follow the Free Software Foundation’s advice, the only way to be sure that you don't have any backdoors is to switch to a GNU / Linux operating system and never look back.

Thanks to Silviu Stahie and Softpedia for this article. It's an eye opener!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS gets major kernel updates

Time to run sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade if you are a Ubuntu 12.04 LTS user like me.

Their have been some major updates that solve a lot of security holes and bugs.

Softpedia covered it well:

"Canonical does a good job at protecting its supported Ubuntu Linux distributions by releasing security updates from time to time. On December 3, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS received a major kernel upgrade that fixed twelve vulnerabilities discovered in the upstream Linux 3.2 kernel by various developers (eight of them were discovered by Kees Cook).

The first security issue is an information leak discovered in the Linux kernel's IPv6 network stack – it could allow a remote attacker to cause a DoS (Denial of Service) attack and obtain sensitive information, and the second one was a flaw in the Linux kernel’s Xen subsystem – it could allow a privileged user in the guest OS to destroy data on the disk.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth security issues were discovered in the Linux kernel’s HID (Human Interface Device) subsystem, allowing a physically proximate attacker to cause a DoS (Denial of Service), execute arbitrary code, obtain sensitive information from kernel memory.

The eleventh security issue was discovered by Alan Chester in Linux kernel’s IPv6 Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) – it could allow a remote attacker to obtain sensitive information, and the twelfth one was discovered by Dmitry Vyukov in the Linux kernel's handling of IPv6 UFO (UDP Fragmentation Offload) processing – it could allow a remote attacker to cause a DoS (Denial of Service) attack.

As usual, these security flaws can be fixed if you upgrade your Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) system(s) to the linux-image-3.2.0-57 (3.2.0-57.87) package(s). To apply the kernel update, run the Update Manager application or follow the detailed instructions provided by Canonical on this web page

Users are urged to update their Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) systems as soon as possible. Don't forget to reboot your computer after the upgrade!" -Softpedia

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Whisker Menu, an excellent XFCE menu option

--- Updated December 4th, 2013 ---

While looking up an article about the changes to Xubuntu 14.04, I saw they where adding a program called "Whisker Menu".

Being the curious cat that I am, I downloaded it.

I loved it at first glance. Beautiful, simple, and quick. Which is what I have come to expect from anything designed to work with XFCE.

Here's a pic of my Whisker Menu:

I could have changed the colors to reflect the XFCE panel bar on top, but I personally like the set up already. Very easy to read.

Here's a blurb from Whisker Menu's about section:

"Whisker Menu is an alternate application launcher for Xfce. When you open it you are shown a list of applications you have marked as favorites. You can browse through all of your installed applications by clicking on the category buttons on the side. Top level categories make browsing fast, and simple to switch between. Additionally, Whisker Menu keeps a list of the last ten applications that you’ve launched from it.

Favorites are easy to add and reorder. When browsing through your applications, right-click on any of them and select “Add to Favorites”. Simply drag and drop your favorites list to arrange them to suit your needs. You can remove them at any time from another right-click option.

If you’re not sure exactly where a program is listed, instead of browsing through each category you can simply enter a search term. The search field is focused when opening the menu, so you can just start typing. Application descriptions as well as names are searched, which allows you to find a program by using a general word (such as “browser” to find all web browsers installed on your computer)."

To download and install it in Xubuntu, paste these into your terminal application one line at a time:

(pasting into terminal is done with Control Shift V)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gottcode/gcppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin

*this repository/ppa only works with XFCE 4.8. to install one that works with 4.10, check this out:

Once installed, I had to add it manually to the XFCE panel.

I did that by first right clicking the top panel bar, and then choosing panel > add new items

Then I scrolled down to the Whisker Menu option in the Add New Items box

Then I clicked on the Whisker Menu option, and then clicked add.

Then I put the menu where I wanted it. The menu will show up on the far right. If you want it on the far left, then you will have to choose "move" by right clicking the Whisker Menu

and then click and drag it to where you want it.

Last but not least, since there is no point in having 2 menu's, I removed the standard XFCE application menu by right clicking it and choosing remove.

This is just a taste of what we can expect with Xubuntu 14.04 LTS. I am looking forward to it.