Quickly re-name your files with Mess Rename

Mess RenameBy reading the title of this post, most of you probably thought “Why the hell is he posting about that, does he think we’re idiots who can’t rename a file?”, and normally, you would be right to think this. But when I stumbled on this utility, I knew everyone would love it, especially those of you who take billions of pictures every week with their digital camera.

Mess rename is a cool little renaming tool that takes 3 seconds to download, 2 to install and 1 to use… no manual required. The only thing the software does is take a bunch of files and rename them according to certain rules. Remember the 600 pictures you took at that last party you went to? Remember how painful it was to rename every single picture file to make them sound significant after dumping them on your hard drive? With Mess rename, you won’t have to do this anymore. Renaming those P039*.jpg files to something like party2008_(1,2,3…).jpg will now take you seconds.

Do you know about any similar tools? Which one do you use? Let us know in the comments!

[Via La Chronique de Nelson [French]]

Is Second Life really a haven for terrorists?

By Mark O’Neill

Second Life
“Oooh…hello, my legs seem to be stuck together here. Can you help me out please buddy?”

The name is Hultcrantz, Edmund Hultcrantz….at least I was last year when I tried Second Life for all of 30 minutes. Since then, I have heard lots of positive comments about the online virtual world. But today marks the first time that I have heard it being described as “seedbeds for transnational threats“.

The “intelligence community” (in other words, the good ol’ CIA) is apparently concerned that terrorists could use Second Life’s anonymity to move money around and also recruit new members in “virtual training centers” (which are seemingly untraceable). So if you’re in Second Life and a dude in a loud Hawaii shirt and an Afro haircut comes up to you, be cautious because he might be collecting donations for Al-Qaeda.

The concerns have been heightened as Second Life begins to grow at a staggering rate. Corporations and government agencies are opening virtual offices, economies are growing inside the virtual world and real money is being made. In fact so much money is being made that the IRS is concerned that there might be a bit of tax evasion going on.

But this line caught my eye when reading the article : “the intelligence community has begun contemplating how to use Second Life and other such communities as platforms for cyber weapons that could be used against terrorists or enemies”. Plus the CIA has apparently created a few virtual islands for “internal use”.

Typical CIA. Everyone gets a virtual gaming world going and the CIA immediately gate-crash the party to have virtual gun battles and secret code sessions.

** Note : the Washington Post article link in the first paragraph requires online registration to be able to read it. If you don’t have an account with them and you don’t want to register, you can bypass the registration page by using log-in details from Bug Me Not **

Time to Upgrade Your WordPress Blogs

Yesterday, WordPress released a new version of their popular blogging software in response to a security issue. Apparently, there is a concern about the parsing of the xml remote procedure call. It seems specially crafted requests could allow anonymous, unauthenticated users to edit posts or even potentially deface a blog.

The bad guys would likely use this exploit to distribute malware or bomb Google with false information, thus driving hits to malware-hosting sites, and spreading botnets.WordPress also wanted to remind everyone to change site passwords regularly, and software updates or upgrades are good reminders to make that important, internal security change.More on this here at WordPress’ Dev Page.

On another note, has anyone else seen the enormous spike in blogspam over the past few days? The amount of spam I see has more than tripled.

Most of the spam comments were designed to pull search engine hits away from authentic, reputable Web sites (such as auto dealers) to new sites hosting malware. This represents a shift in tactics employed by phishers.

In light of this, you may want to exercise caution when visiting sites resulting from search requests. If you haven’t already done so, download and use McAfee’s SiteAdvisor utility. It is free and will validate search results, ensuring the sites you want to visit are not malicious before you click on them. It keeps me from visiting sketchy sites every day.

Heat up your hot drinks with the USB mug warmer

By Mark O’Neill

USB mug warmer

It’s important to get your priorities right in life.   The biggest priority is making sure you have a fast broadband internet connection.   The second priority is making sure your tea or coffee stays hot at all times.

That’s why every self-respecting geek needs the USB mug warmer.    As the name suggests, it is a warming platform which plugs into the USB port of your computer.    But if you are reluctant to give up one of your USB ports for this, fear not because the warming device has four extra USB ports which you can use for your other external devices.

But I think the sales page has a serious typo.  It says that the device will warm your drink “up to 80 degrees celsius”.  Shouldn’t that be 80 degrees fahrenheit?   80 degrees celsius is 176 degrees fahrenheit!

That is one hot cup of coffee!!

Improve your Wikipedia experience with Inline Article Viewer

By Mark O’Neill

Despite my criticisms of Wikipedia in the past, I still generally find the site an invaluable source of information and as a result, I link to Wikipedia pages all the time.    But sometimes the problem can be that there are too many links to click on.   Some of the links are worth following while others are just useless.   If you’re in a hurry, how do you know where all the quality stuff is?

So yesterday when I found a Greasemonkey script called Inline Article Viewer, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.   This script makes my Wikipedia surfing MUCH easier and faster.

Basically it inserts a small icon next to each link on a Wikipedia page and when you click on the icon, it opens that page in an inline frame.    So without leaving the original page, you can view another Wikipedia page and decide if the new page is worth going to.   If not, just shut it down.    It’s like opening a time portal and sticking your head through to have a glimpse.

Windows Server 2008, A Rescuer For Vista?

Windows Server 2008This guest post was submitted by Patrick from Piggy Bank Pie.

Microsoft is releasing Windows Server 2008 on February 27th, and it seems like the IT community has high expectations as this version introduces many new features. However, Microsoft had high hopes in Vista, its latest desktop operating system, but IT managers have yet to respond, leaving XP master in command on corporate networks. But the software giant may be hiding a secret card in its deck. Could a client-server configuration between Vista and Windows Server 2008 revive the wow factor and rescue Vista’s sinking ship?

Another Reality

Home users cannot be compared to enterprise users when evaluating desktop upgrades. When a company reaches a high level of stability on its network, it takes a serious business case to move away from a stable platform to an unproven system. Right now, Windows XP offers a reliable solution and requires much less processing power than Vista.

Another sad reality is that many large corporations have not yet completed their migration to… XP. This places Vista in an uncomfortable position towards IT managers. Many of them may hold off on a migration plan, stepping over this release and sitting on XP until the next OS release.

The Combo

Using Vista and Windows Server 2008 in a client-server environment will enable features not available to other combinations. Let’s dig into some of the enhancements of this configuration to evaluate if the combo is worth deploying.

Event Forwarding: Vista computers will have the capability to monitor specific events (in event viewer), and forward them to Windows Server 2008 allowing administrators to consult alerts in a centralized location.

Searches: When searching files or other resources hosted on W2K8, Vista transfers the search query to the server where it is processed locally. Once completed, the result is sent back to the client workstation.

Print Rendering: Vista computers can free up Windows 2008 print servers by rendering print jobs locally, sending only the raw file format to print servers.

Offline Files: Vista will cache offline files locally providing access to resources when the server is offline. A synchronization process takes care of copying the files back once the client and server are reconnected.

NAP: Network Access Protection increases security by ensuring Vista computers connecting to the network are compliant with predefined security rules. If not, network resources would not be accessible.

Terminal Services: Remote Desktop Protocol goes a step further towards Citrix MetaFrame ICA. Vista and Windows Server 2008 will simplify remote access from an Internet Connection by providing connectivity through an HTTP gateway, much like Citrix Secure Gateway. Also, the new RDP client offers seamless applications that run as if on the local desktop.

Microsoft promises more enhancements to the client-server duo such as faster connectivity, more advanced Group Policies, native IPv6, and also easier deployment.

A Rescuer?

From an IT perspective, Windows Server 2008 will provide many new features such as Hyper-V, Read-Only Domain Controllers, built-in Windows PowerShell, IIS7 and much more. I believe that organizations will not hesitate to deploy W2K8 because servers have usually less impacts than client workstations on network users. However, Win2008 will not be the awaited rescuer for Windows Vista. The technology behind XP provides enough functionality for business requirements and the client-server combo does not offer enough incentives to justify the hardware, software and manpower investment needed for a massive deployment.

Breaking News – John Kerry was in Star Wars!

By Mark O’Neill

It turns out that before becoming a flip-flopping senator and 2004 US presidential candidate, John Kerry had another life and another identity – that of General Rieekan in Star Wars!   Just take a look below :

John Kerry in Star Wars?

According to this site, Luke Skywalker went on to play that alien dude in the X-Files!    Cool!   I thought I recognised him from somewhere else.

Boing Boing link

How do ants know what to do?

Armed with a backhoe and a handful of markers, Deborah Gordon studies ant colonies in the Arizona desert. She asks: How do these chitinous creatures get down to business — and even multitask when they need to — with no language, memory or visible leadership? Her answers could lead to a better understanding of all complex systems, from the brain to the Web.

Energy drink review, coffee suspiciously omitted

The ancient Gods had Ambrosia, southerners have Budweiser, and geeks have the energy drink. How else would we be able to learn the things we know and to the extent that we know them; with only 24 hours in the day? Without caffeine and massive doses of sugar, most of us wouldn’t have even been able to get through school.

Alright, so we definitely need this delicious category of beverages to sustain our day to day functions, but which brand is the best? With so many names out there, what should you drink when you’ve got a paper due in the morning?

Thanks to Mike Fahey of Kotaku, your next trip to the local deli might be a shorter one. He has risked the health of his heart and liver to review 13 popular energy drinks and give you the lowdown on their taste and buzz.

Looks like the best all-around drink is Monster with a perfect combination of flavor and go power. While Cocaine is a kick in the mouth with the most energy.

Hit the link for a good read on all of your favorite heart stoppers.

A critical look at energy drinks [Kotaku]

New Iron Man Movie Trailer

Set to be released on the 2nd of May, Iron Man is Marvel’s first self-financed film. The movie stars Robert Downey Junior who plays Tony Stark, a billionaire who gets captured by Afghan terrorists and decides to get out of this tricky situation by building himself a super-armor suit.

Is anyone here looking forward to this movie? I know I am!

[Via Techeblog]