Meeting Notes - 9 December 2014

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Meeting Notes - 9 December 2014

Post by bdahm on Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:04 pm

CM Geeks - Notes

No free lunch - We’ve heard this expression time and again. It’s true. It’s equally true here. We don’t charge anything for our meetings, perhaps on the philosophy that you get what you pay for. Be that as it may, the River Market is providing us with a place to meet every week. They are providing us with parking, a projector and a screen and even a sound system for our videos. All they ask in return and all we ask in return is that you purchase something from the menu, even a cup of coffee or a soft drink. Information wants to be free. Food is something else. For those who may have eaten or are not hungry, a tip for the wait staff would be appreciated.

Follow-up on Data Recovery
Several weeks ago we had a discussion about backing up your computer hard drive. The question I asked at that time was, "What are you precious pictures and data worth?" External hard drives are cheap these days and there’s good software available to do the backup. For those who don’t heed this advice the alternative is very expensive data recovery methods. A Google search of Chiang Mai didn’t turn up an specific hits, though a Thai Visa thread did mention a place at Pantip Plaza. There are probably others offering varying results. 

My Google search did turn up a couple of what appear to be quite competent places in Bangkok. Here are two.

These are, no doubt, quite expensive and will probably run hundred if not thousands of dollars. It’s at this point that you get to answer the question, what is my data worth? 

The Year of the Mega Hack
There have been a growing number of hacks over the past year or so. Target was hacked a little over a year ago and upwards of 100 million credit card compromised. Home Depot was hacked recently and customer data stolen.  Not long ago banks Chase and J.P. Morgan were hacked. 

The latest and perhaps the most damaging hack of all has been to Sony Pictures Entertainment. 12 terabytes of data were stolen and the hard drives from which they were stolen were erased. Sensitive human resource data has been exposed and several movies have been posted on torrent sites including the recently released Fury starring Brad Pitt. A couple of years ago the head of digital security questioned why Sony would spend $10 million dollars on security to save $1 million dollars of data. As it turns out he was really off on that number. The actually cost of this hack is estimated to be $100 million.

Rethinking CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA appears to be an idea that has come and pretty much gone. Its purpose was to make it more difficult for bots to register or log into websites. The pictograms were obscured slightly so that only a human could make sense out of them. It didn’t take long, however, before humans were employed to break the CAPTCHAs and defeat the scheme. 

Now Google has come up with a new method of identifying if what is on the other end is a person or a machine. Apparently it analyses cursor movement and can deduce what or who is moving it. Here’s what Google says about it.

Behind the Scenes Video 
YouTube created an explosion of video on the internet. There are many channels that provided high quality video. One of the channels I have been following for a while is a young videographer by the name of Devin Graham. The nice thing about his videos is that they are not only well done, but he also provides behind the scenes videos showing how he did it. 

One of his best was an enactment of a scene from the popular video game, Assassin’s Creed. He filmed a group of parkour (free running) actors on the streets and across the rooftops of Paris.  Here’s the short.

And here’s the behind the scenes of how it was shot:

Torrents Galore
There are other sources of video as well. If you are looking for TV show, primarily American, EZTV is a great source. What I like about it is that the torrents are organized by day and are usually available within hours of their showing in the US. So if you are looking for the series Castle, for example, it will show up in the Monday grouping. Because of the time difference, it won’t actually be available here until sometime on Tuesday. You can choose from a number of sources, but I generally go with the Magnet File because it takes only one step instead of the normal two steps to start the download. And if you have associated your torrent file type with your client, such as UTorrent, one click starts the whole process. 

How long it takes to download an hour TV program, which is actually about 42 minutes long without commercials and other interruptions, will depend somewhat on your bandwidth, but more important on the number of “seeds” or sources containing a complete copy of the program. The more seeds you have the faster the download will take place. I have found that an optimal number of seeds is around 30. With 30 active seeds, you can expect to download a 42 minute program in about 20 minutes time. 

As of this writing the EZTV website is under attack by interests who don’t want these programs to be freely available. Hopefully this attack will be short lived and the programming will be back on-line soon.

Another source, not only of TV programs, but of movies and music as well, is KickAss Torrents. Here a little more hunting is required to find what you want, but there are adequate search and sort capabilities that will make this a little easier.

You’re Sure Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone
Finally a fun video to close out our last meeting of the year on Dec 16. The “cups” technique would sure be a blast if we could all learn it. It would blow the minds of the wait staff if we all did this when they can up at the end of the meeting to hand out the checks. Probably won’t happen, though. Nevertheless, here’s the “Cups Song”.

And here’s the tutorial on how to do it.

Questions, Questions
Because we had such a full meeting we never did get to the question I posed at the last meeting and told you to thing about. That question was, what piece of tech, be it hardware, software, app, innovation, or whatever, influenced you most during the year? We’ll be looking for your thoughts on our first meeting of the new year on January 6, 2015. 

And here’s a second question. What piece of tech (hardware, software, whatever) are you looking forward to utilizing in the New Year. That could be anything from listening to Podcasts to finally getting around to backing up your system, to getting a smartphone, to buying a new computer, to learning to code. Whatever it is, we want to hear about it.

Also on the agenda will be more sources of video, but for now and for this year, we’ll have to call it a wrap. Happy Holidays!


Last edited by bdahm on Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:38 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correct typos and punctuation.)


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Re: Meeting Notes - 9 December 2014

Post by bdahm on Sun Jan 04, 2015 10:18 pm

After being off-line for several weeks, EZTV came back to life this week. It's still my favorite source for US TV shows. Best to select the Magnet file (shaped like an upside down "U") as it cuts out a step in the torrent process.



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