Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Fighter trailer

While not likely to paint an entirely flattering picture of Lowell, the trailer to The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams has been released:



Featured:  Cupples Square, East Merrimack Street, and, of course, the Top Donut.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Energy efficiencies of food

Second (and last) short post for today.  I often talk about urbanism and I've probably talked about that in the context of the environment, but I had a conversation this week that I'd like to re-iterate here: Beef is an extremely energy-inefficient food.  If you're looking to lower your energy consumption, switching to eating less meat, in particularly beef, is pretty simple.  Don't forget that agricultural subsidies, such as that on a key feed crop, corn, costs us billions of dollars a year on top of that and corn itself can be an environmentally problematic feed and crop.  For this reason, I've also questioned why we use corn-based ethanol in gasoline, when the fossil fuels required to produce the corn are so costly in the first place.

Android security

One of the scary things about smartphones is what happens if you lose one.  Android devices - the Google operating system - have constant connections without password re-check for your Google, Facebook, and other accounts.  GMail alone, if compromised, would be a serious security breach for many people.  Leaving one of these things at a bar, remembering the next morning, and finding years worth of email has been gone through by an anonymous third party is a non-option.  What can be done?

Android, until for me this week, only had a finger-swipe pattern security system.  Connect four to nine dots in any order, unlock the phone.  Turns out that there are over 300,000 combinations possible, but I just never liked it.  It always seemed to me that any reasonable unlock pattern would be too easily guessed.  The times I've seen it used, people draw Z's, lines, circles, etc. There is now a pin-pad or password option available that allows for millions of patterns.  By brute force, it could now take years to crack an Android on average - certainly more than enough time to change all your passwords.  Still, many smartphones come with remote kill capabilities, something that apparently is available through the app store for Android.