Macworld Keynote

I am back from the Macworld Keynote that Steve Jobs gave. This was my first time seeing Jobs in person for the Macworld Keynote, and the main thing I wanted to hear from Jobs’ was ‘one more thing’, right before he announces some super cool new product. I didn’t get to hear those magic words, but I did experience the energy and excitement when he announced the iPhone. There are plenty of good keynote liveblogs (Engadget, Gizmodo) out there, so I will just post some of the pictures I took and comment on them.

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The above two pictures was the regular conference attendee line. I wonder how many of these people meet at 4am to get in front of the line.

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This was the reserved seating line aka the Super Pass and Platinum Pass only line. I arrived around 8:30am, which put be toward the end, but not the very end of the line.

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Here we are going up to the third floor to see the keynote.

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Steve announced the iPhone in an interested way. He first said they had three new products to announce; an iPod, phone, and an internet device. Then he kept on repeating the words, and soon it clicked in everyone’s head that it was one device!

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The pinch to zoom is a neat touch screen trick. Response time was quick when he did the demo of zooming in and out.

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Having a real web browser is nice on a phone, but I’m not sure how often I would use it, and how useful it would be.

So would I buy one? I doubt I will because it’s tied into Cingular, doesnt allow for 3rd party applications, limited storage, and is expensive.

CES vs Macworld

This year I will be attending Macworld instead of CES. Why would I want to miss out on all the consumer electronics goodness in las vegas? Well, I have a feeling that Steve Jobs will be announcing something new and exciting, and I want to hear him say ‘one more thing’. Also, I have a platinum pass, which gets me reserved seating for the keynote.

Comcast HSI Abuse

A few weeks ago I recieved a voice message from someone claiming to be from the Comcast High Speed Internet Security Assurance Center. The message didn’t leave any details expect the call back number, 856-324-2025. I wondered why the security group was calling me, and why they didn’t have a toll free number. 856 is in NJ, and I only found one related forum posting with the same number. There were some forum posts with a similar number, but they were for DMCA Violations.

I decided to call the regular comcast help number (888-824-8103), and I questioned if my account was flagged for abuse and if they knew this number was legit. The support agent had to talk to his manager, and then he said to ignore the message, and if I were to get disconnected, to call back. I asked again if he could search his knowledge base to see if the number is in the system, but he couldn’t perform this type of global search.

Since I was still curious what the message was about, I attempted to call them everyday for two weeks. All I got from that number was an answering machine, and I left several messages. Finally today, someone called me back to explain what the message was about. The person didn’t ask for any identification of who I was, so that continued to make me suspicious. The agent said that I was flagged for network abuse, using 380gb in the month of November. This number was a bit above my normal traffic based upon my local network traffic logs, but I wondered why I wasn’t flagged before. He said that they only take the top percentage each month, and it of course varies per month. Fair enough answer, but then he said something interesting. He said that now that we talked, my account would be re-activated. My account was never disabled, but I decided to play along, and I immediatelly bitched at him for my account being disabled for so long. I said I called everyday, and left messages each time, and nobody called back until now, two weeks later. I then stated that it was unacceptabled to have my account off for so long, while being kept in the dark, with me continously attempting to contact them. He understood the complaint, but he didn’t offer any rebates or discounts.

He didn’t ask why I used that much traffic, he just said to try to lower the consumption. For those of you that are curious, all the traffic is legit, as I download raw network dumps and hdd images from various honeypots I have setup in various countries. I did understand last month being more, because I downloaded 60gb worth of 22C3 videos, and 80gb of md5 rainbow tables.

From the first voice message, and through when we actually talked, I kept in mind that the person might be a phisher. Based upon what he did and didn’t say, I think it was legit. So I guess that means the security assuance center is unprofessional, and probably overworked since it took them so long to get back to me.

The holidays are coming up, so everyone have fun and stay safe. Remember to never disclose too much information until you know the source is legit, as there are many phishers and social engineers out there.

Two New Computers

The last time I bought new computer equipment was in 2002, and with the new core 2 duo chips out from Intel, it was time for me to get some new stuff. I ended up buying parts for two rackmount machines, and a new switch. Most of the gear was ordered from Newegg.com.

I knew I wanted a rackmount GigE switch from Netgear, but I was a bit confused on which one to purchase. The website has two rackmount units listed, the GS516T and the JGS516. I really couldnt figure out the differences on the offical website, but newegg’s site had a good picture that easily made up my mind. The GS516T has two fans on the back of the unit, and the JGS516 does not. My Netgear 10/100 switch has two fans on the back as well, and they are quite loud, so I got the Netgear JGS516.

The two rackmount machines I built were identical, so the second build was easy after I figured out all the kinks of the components. Here are the main components of the new computers: 2u rackmount chassis, Asus P5LD2-VM motherboard, Intel E6400 2.13ghz cpu, 4x 1gb DDR2 memory and a 3 in 2 HDD cage.

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For those that dont know what a 3 in 2 HDD cage is, its a cage that fits in two 5.25″ slots, and provides space for three 3.5″ drives. There are several companies that make HDD cages, but I bought the ones made by AMS because it has individual power buttons for each drive. Theoretically, if the motherboard or SATA addon card supported hot swapping, I could drop a new drive into the cage, press the associated power button, and it would be available. I’ve been looking for something like this for some time now, and it has been working out so far. My only complaint on the cage is that it feels a little cheap because of the plastic components in the front.

Overall, I am happy with the new computers, they are bloody fast comparing to my old ones.

Verizon “Unlimited” EVDO = 5GB

I’ve been hearing rumors of the verizon limit for some time now, and I finally found some threads and proof that Verizon is cutting people off if they go past 5gb using EVDO. Robert Cringley writes about his experience here, and I also found a thread where a user points out that the 5gb limit is stated in a cell phone brochure. Now, I dont remember seeing anything like that documented when I got my PCMCIA card, but I guess I havent gone over the limit yet.

This reminds me of the @home unlimited broadband fiasco a few years ago. Same type of thing, they advertise unlimited access, and I think people were getting letters if they exceeded 500gb of usage / month. I will not claim how many of those letters I recieved ;)

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Apple iPod 80gb

I finally bought another iPod to replace my first gen one. I was kinda waiting for the widescreen one, but after giving it some thought, I wouldn’t want to watch movies on a 3-4″ display.

The first one I owned never had a case on it, and it has tons of scratches on it. I didn’t want this to happen on my new black iPod, so I knew I had to buy some sort of case to protect the new shiny toy. I ended up buying an Invisible Shield, from ShieldZone. SchwarzTech has a good review of the product here. Putting the pieces on the device was a pain in the ass. It took me around an hour to put it all on, and it still wasn’t perfect. But after a few weeks of use, I am happy with the purchase.

I knew I didn’t want to use iTunes, because it forces you to have your music library in one place. I have a ton of albums, mixes, etc. and they are all on different hard drives. I used EphPod with my first gen iPod, but they haven’t updated the software to be compatible with the latest models. Anapod Explorer seems to fit in where EphPod left off, but it did cost me some money. The software isn’t 100% compatible, because I found a bug in the tracklist generation. When using the alarm clock, if you generated a playlist with Anapod, it will not play anything when waking up. If you generate a playlist in iTunes, the alarm clock works fine. There are some other bugs with playlists in Anapod, but I am still tracking down the specific reason for them.

Because I travel often, I also purchased Altec Lansing’s IM3 portable speakers. I was afraid the iPod with the Invisible Shield wouldn’t fit on the dock, but it fits fine. The unit can be powered via AC or batteries.
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