Thursday, 1 August 2013

Invisible QR codes developed to combat counterfeit money and goods

Researchers have created invisible Quick Response (QR) codes that could help fight a growing battle with counterfeit money and goods.

The University of South Dakota and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology found that the codes, which have become popular as a means to download apps or access product information, could be utilised to help fight counterfeiters, with the complexity of the codes making them difficult to fake.They can be printed on paper, glass and a wide range of other materials in a mixture of nanoparticles and blue and green fluorescent ink, which makes it invisible to the naked eye, but can be seen under an infrared light.QR codes are becoming the standard in the industry, thanks to the fact that they can hold up to 100 times more information than normal barcodes. They have particularly become synonymous with smartphones, where they are widely used, but they could be as much a tool of security as marketing.The technique could be extended to be even more secure, with the potential for a microscopic message or symbol to be hidden in the QR code, potentially in different colours, which means even the infrared light wont show it without the use of a microscope.One setback to the idea is the fact that the initial process takes around 90 minutes, which is a long time to design and print a single code. However, once the original code is made it can be mass printed in just 15 minutes.Source: BBC

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Finally Intel brings TRIM to SSDs in RAID arrays


( -- Intel will add TRIM support for RAID0 in its upcoming drivers in Q2 next year. The TRIM feature will be enabled for RAID0 setups in Intel’s upcoming RST (Rapid Storage Technology) 11.5 driver. For technologists working with SSDs, file under Great News. User forums for SSD users have had their share of polite questions and weary answers: "So is TRIM supported in RAID now?"

Answers have been well meaning but confusing: "Yes but" or "It Depends" or Nope. Users in the past had spread word that RST drivers supported TRIM on RAID but then there were clarifications that this was only if the user went for "AHCI" mode. All that blur and disappointing answers took another turn this month with a discovery by StorageReview of a certain note #2 on TRIM support across multiple RAID levels.

Intel RST 11.5 is expected to arrive in Q2 of next year with support for Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems. Intel's RST 11.5 release date has not been confirmed but observers assume the release will be in step with the launch of Windows 8 in Q2 2012.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Editorial 7 Reasons to NOT stick with Windows XP

You have probably seen an article posted by Gizmodo listing 7 reasons to stick with Windows XP.

Well, there are certainly some reasons for sticking with Windows XP and the one that really makes sense is if your current system is too old to support Windows 7. You may not meet the minimum system requirements or your system may have an odd ball piece of hardware that is not supported.

However, if your system can passes the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor I suggest you bite the bullet and do the upgrade.

If you still have your doubts because the 7 points highlighted by Gizmodoare reason enough,here's my take on Gizmodo's points. You can find the Gizmodo article here.

GIZMODO>> 1. Updating will be a huge pain

No pain no can make the excuse that you'll have to backup your data, format your hard disk drive, and start from scratch. However, even if you do wait you still have togo throughthe process of backing up your data. If you are not already backing up your data or maintaining it on a different hard disk drive than your operating system (XP) drive you need to rethink your security, backup, and business continuity strategy.

GIZMODO>> 2. Software Investment

You are going to have to reinstall all the applications and what happens if you have lost your CD-Keys? Well, that question again is no different doing it now or later. Later, will be even more of a problem because as we all know, the longer we put something aside the more likely it is we are going to forget. Don't procrastinate. As for compatibility, there is the new XP Mode but you will need to look at Windows 7 Ultimate toget this feature. If you are concerned with application compatibility, my personal experience has found Windows 7 Compatibility mode (not the virtual xp mode) works a lot better than Vista's.

GIZMODO>> 3. Most of what you use your computer for doesn't need an upgrade

What if how you are using Windows XP now is actually wasting your time and effort in front of the computer? Wouldn't it be nice to be more productive just by switching to Windows 7?

GIZMODO>> 4. It's expensive

Is it that expensive? Surely by not having upgraded to Vista before you would have saved up the little amount of cash required to purchase Windows 7 Home Premium or even Professional. Buying now during the launch period is a good idea because you get to enjoy the spoils of freebies or other goodies that are thrown in for good measure. Maybe you'll even get the chance to enter some lucky draw contest worth thousands. If you are strapped for cash you can also consider OEM versus Retail Boxed editions.

GIZMODO>> 5. You can wait for SP1

You may be waiting a long time for Service Pack 1 (SP1). While you wait, the whole world will pass you by and be ahead of you whilst you continue to use the outdated Windows XP. When it is time to look for a job or move to a new prospective job and they say you must have Windows 7 experience you will lose out.

GIZMODO>> 6. Microsoft will keep support XP for a while

Microsoft only provides limited support for XP. Face it, with Windows 7 being the new star kid on the block, XP will get very little attention. Attention that could mean the difference between getting a security patch on time to prevent some malware or hacker from getting into your system and causing serious harm or loss (monetary or personal identity / information).

GIZMODO>> 7. You'll buy a new computer eventually

If you thought the software was too expensive (Point 4) then I cannot imagine what you think of buying a whole new computer system. If you buy a new system, and it is a Netbook that includes XP, why wait. Make sure you exercise your privilege to a Windows 7 upgrade, even if it is only for Windows 7 Basic edition. Your Netbook isn't going to suffer degraded operational use. In fact, you may be more productive given some of the new Windows 7 new features. Microsoft has also taken the necessary steps to help new computer buyers with transferring files from an XP system to a new Windows 7 setup. Check out the Microsoft Easy Transfer utility.

Happy Windows 7 computing.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

“pontypool” changes everything

Zombie flicks. You either love ‘em or you don’t. I certainly love ‘em, and so do plenty of other folks, if the recent box-office success of movies like “Zombieland” and the “Resident Evil” series are any indication. But the best and most groundbreaking of the bunch in recent years has flown somewhat under the radar.

2008′s “Pontypool,” from visionary Canadian director Bruce McDonald (best known for his distinctly north-of-the-border-flavored road movies “Roadkill,” “Highway 61″ and “Hard Core Logo”) is a distinctively atmospheric, oftentimes downright scary entry into the zombie canon that has the potential to redefine the entire genre in the same way that George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” did back in 1968 and Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” did over 30 years later. But first, enough people have to see it, because great art that exists in a vacuum is still great art, to be sure, but if it enters into the public consciousness, by word of mouth or other means,? even if we’re just talking about on the level of horror and more specifically zombie genre fans, then it has the power to be transformational. And if there’s one thing “Pontypool” does — and does very well — it’s to take the zombie movie in a bold new direction by opening up some seriously new and (therefore naturally) previously-unexplored territory for a genre that many folks feel has become a bit shopworn in recent years.

Oh, don’t get me wrong — in many respects, McDonald’s film is very much a traditional? low-budget walking-corpse story. The principal cast of characters is very small. The action, such as there is, take place in an enclosed location with our protagonists under siege from the spreading undead infection that surrounds them (essentially Romero’s stock-in-trade scenario for his first three “Dead” films). And (again like Romero) the zombie plague, and the reaction of the surviving humans to it, serve, at their core,? as? stand-ins? for the filmmaker to cast light on certain contemporary sociopolitical issues.

So what, then, can truly be said to be so new about “Pontypool”?

That’s where reviewing this film gets tricky. Because you can’t give away what’s new and different and altogether revitalizing (how’s that for an ironic choice of words when talking about a walking-dead movie?) about this film without giving away some major plot points and therefore trashing the element of surprise for any potential viewers that might be out there. Suffice to say that I’ll offer just a couple of clues : in one scene a copy of Neal Stephenson’s cult classic science fiction novel “Snow Crash” can be seen lying on a desk, and it’s no accident that I chose to open this review by saying that I hope strong word-of-mouth buzz among horror fans will get this film wider attention. And I’ll say no more than that.

Writer? Tony Burgess, who adapted the screenplay from his own novel “Pontypool Changes Everything,” has really hit on a novel approach for how the zombification virus is spread here that utterly redefines both how one can become a zombie, and what it means to even be one. Yes, of course, it’s still transmitted from one carrier to the next, but that’s where any similarity to the living dead of old ends.? Because with “Pontypool,” all notions of how it’s spread, and for that matter why (the implications — and that’s all they are, implications — of who might be ultimately responsible for the origins of this particular plague are truly chilling) are completely blown out the window.

Radio shock-jock Grant Mazzy (veteran Canadian actor Stephen McHattie, best known to American and international audiences as Hollis Mason, the first Night Owl, in “Watchmen”) has gotten himself sacked from his (unspecified) major-market gig over a Don Imus-type brouhaha (again, the specifics are unspecified) and has found work in the only place he can, as the morning show host for an AM station that broadcasts out of a church in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario ( I looked it up and it’s a real place). How much of a comedown is this for our guy Grant? Well, the “eye in the sky” traffic commute reporter in Pontypool phones in his reports from his car that’s parked on top of the biggest hill in town and plays helicopter sound effects in the background, and the biggest local news story is an old woman’s missing cat (the name of which will have significance later).

With Grant in the studio are his producer, Sydney Briar (McHattie’s real-life wife, actress Lisa Houle), and his technician, a recently-returned Afghan war vet? named? Laurel-Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly). That’s about it for the main cast of characters, apart from the town doctor who plays a part later.

What begins as a day not unlike any other quickly turns strange, however, when Grant begins to get phoned-in reports about a mob of crazed people converging on said town doctor’s office. Then more reports start to come in about large groups of people acting strangely and attacking random folks in the city, in the woods, and on the highways. Some of the reports, such as one about a car carrying a family being literally buried under a herd — that term is used specifically — of people are so bizarre (and so much more effective when heard and not seen —? showing anything like that on this film’s budget would have resulted in yet another cheap CGI spectacle, and we’ve had more than enough of those in more than enough other movies) that Grant and his cohorts don’t know whether or not they’re being played for fools in some sort of massive, town-wide hoax. When an in-studio guest starts behaving strangely, though, they know something’s up.

Soon the BBC is calling. More and more truly unbelievable reports are coming in. And it’s soon quite obvious that this cold and snowy late-winter morning has brought something entirely new and dreadful to the sleepy hamlet of Pontypool. When one of their own, Laurel-Ann, begins to transform, all pretense (or hope) that it might be some sick and elaborate joke is gone.

When the full-scale zombie siege of the studio finally begins in earnest, our protagonists are still trying to figure out, on the fly, how it can possibly be stopped, so flabbergasted ( and, for that matter, only partially informed)? are they as to the nature of the infection and it’s mode of transmission.? It’s pretty damn tough to figure out how to stop something if you barely understand how it works and find it hard to believe what little you do know.

Throughout the film, the claustrophobic studio setting and incredibly small cast of characters really works in terms of presenting the us-vs.-them, inside world-vs.-outside world, “bunker mentality” sense of atmospherics so essential to this story’s success. Sure, it’s indicative of a very tight budget, but it’s also indicative of how said tight budget can really be harnessed to the story’s advantage. Less is indeed more.

And speaking of less and more, now would be the time to point out that gorehounds are sure to be disappointed here. The level of blood and guts on display is pretty damn low, but that only makes it all the more shocking and disturbing when the violence really does start to hit home. Have no fear, though — even though the gross FX quotient here is pretty low,what few there? are really are? quite effectively staged and presented. That being said, though, the majority of the horror is “Pontypool” is psychological, and in the best horror tradition, what’s not shown is much scarier than what is, allowing the viewer to imagine in his or her own mind the unfolding terror taking place outside the studio walls — and threatening, of course, to get in.

A major hit at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, “Pontypool” nonetheless received scant theatrical distribution. It played some in Canada and on a small handful of? art-house screens in major US markets and got some play at various horror conventions and independent film festivals, but that was about it.

Now, the good folks at IFC (Independent Film Channel), which handled the distribution rights, have hit us with a one-two “Pontypool” punch : it’s just been released on DVD, and is also playing on IFC On Demand on cable TV. The DVD looks and sounds great, with crisp, clear 16:9 letterboxed picture (as if it wouldn’t, it’s essentially a brand new film) and top-notch 5.1 Surround sound mix. A commentary track featuring McDonald and Burgess is included (the good news from it — they’re planning two sequels!), there’s a selection of independent Canadian short films, the theatrical trailer is thrown in, and best of all there’s also the full-length original CBC radio drama (presented along with corresponding? stills from the film to make it easier to follow the audio action) that McDonald and Burgess developed before the full movie project was green-lighted.

“Pontypool” isn’t just the best zombie film of the year (and I say this as someone who absolutely loved “Zombieland,” although it’s technically true that this was a 2008 production and that was 2009), it’s the best zombie film in many years. Entertainment Weekly has already declared it one of the 25 best of all time in the genre. And while I’m usually not one to agree with any statement found in any gossipy Hollywood rag, much less one that features a regular column by Diablo Cody, in this case they’re absolutely right. Hell, I’d go so far as to say it’s top 10 material.

So see it already.

Oh, and spread the word — it’s the only thematically appropriate response. That’s as close to a hint as I dare to get.

Monday, 24 June 2013

halloween horrors 2012 “maniac”

Sadistic. Misogynistic. Lurid. Visceral. Exploitative. Shameless. Hateful. Sleazy. These are some of the more?polite terms that have been used when describing director William Lustig’s 1980 slasher classic?Maniac. More unhinged reactions at the time of its release essentially stated that it marked the end of good taste and civility, if not western civilization itself — and while all that might be a little bit much, the truth is that?most of the critics, the ones who called it “lurid,” “sleazy,” “hateful,” “misogynistic” and the like were absolutely?right — what they failed to realize, if course, is that those very — uhhhmmm — “qualities” are what make this flick so fucking?good.

Granted, our definition of “good” here at TFG doesn’t exactly match what the dictionary has to say, but the fact is that?Maniac is one of those movies that you just plain never forget once you’ve seen it. Most of that is down to the tour-de-force performance of the late, great Joe Spinell as Frank Zito, the titular “maniac” himself, a man haunted by memories of childhood abuse at the hands of his mother who is taking out a twisted form of permanent vengeance on the entire female population of New York City. Spinell doesn’t even seem like he’s acting in this movie, and the low-grade production values employed by Lustig give this shot-on-16mm slice of pure, unadulterated celluloid hatred an even more immediate, quasi-documentary look that conspires to communicate Spinell’s unhinged portrayal even more directly. Sure, most of that raw, immediate quality is foisted upon this film due to budgetary constraints, but like all the best exploitation efforts, this flick’s ultra-low budget is actually its best friend, and a more polished, professional production would have positively ruined things.

Which isn’t to say that it looks?cheap — Tom Savini’s effects, especially the infamous “shotgun-blast-to-the-head” scene, are particularly effective. A lot of — dare I say it —?love obviously went into making this flick look as authentic as possible. ?And if we were looking for one word to describe?Maniac in a nutshell, that would probably be it : even aspects of the film that are less than?realistic — I can’t see the glamorous Caroline Munro falling for Frank under any circumstances, and of course the infamous ending cuts loose from the moorings of reality entirely — still feel absolutely fucking?authentic.

I can’t imagine that there are too many readers of this blog who haven’t seen?Maniac before, or who don’t own it on DVD and/or Blu-Ray (and I sincerely hope that if you do, you’ve got the Blue Underground two-disc 25th anniversary edition, loaded as it is with positively awesome extras), but if you haven’t watched in awhile, this is a great time of year to revisit it : and if by some strange and slim chance you?haven’t seen it, now would be the time to do so before the Elijah Wood remake hits our screens in December.

In a world full of super-powered slashers like Michael, Jason, and Freddy,?Maniac stands out in that Lustig and company really seem to?mean it. They’re just plain not fucking around;?Maniac is all about bringing the horror home, and not just erasing, but?obliterating? the “comfortable distance,” if you will, that usually exists between the audience and the fictional killer whose twisted exploits we’re privy to. This is the?real thing, folks, and leaves you feeling psychically unclean merely for having seen it.

Who could ask for anything more?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

AMD ATI vs NVIDIA Mobile Graphics Line-Up

We have revealed earlier about Nvidia'supcoming line-up for mobile graphics and now we check out how theircompetitor, AMD/ATI line-up for their mobile graphics. AMD plans to have dualgraphics mobile solutions for their top end line; the Mobility Radeon HD 3870 X2and 3850 X2. It seems Nvidia's top solution is a single GeForce 9800M GTX here.However, notebook maker Dell has offered dual graphics solution before with thedual GeForce 8800M GTX (G92) card equipped with 1GB memories so we wouldn't besurprised if there is a similar solution for the GeForce 9800M series offered bynotebook makers themselves.