Oct 31, 2008

Scrum art at Digiplug

A typical Chuck Norris-approved Scrum board,

And now, some Digiplug variations :)

Too much coffee/Red Bull/whatever, not enough sleep, insane projects... Who are we to complain :)

Oct 28, 2008

NetApp's unified OS (still) in trouble

According to the Register, NetApp has "put all its US-based engineers to work on merging 7G and GX, its two ONTAP operating systems".

Part of the Spinaker acquisition in late 2003 (!), the GX product was supposed to bring true cluster capabilities to the NetApp product line. Instead, NetApp seems to have lost several Spinaker customers while not winning a lot of new ones (quite an understatement).

As an existing NetApp customer, we (Digiplug) took in mid '07 a long, hard look at GX, even though it was missing some important features (like remote replication to a Disaster Recovery site). In the end, we decided what we did not believe that NetApp would deliver. Looks like we were right.... We picked Isilon instead and haven't looked back ever since.

The sad reality is that NetApp is losing ground to more aggressive and more innovative companies. Since the big guns (HP, IBM, EMC) also seem to be moving faster than ever on clustering, NetApp could quickly find themselves between the hammer and the anvil... Especially with the slowdown affecting their existing customer base.

Hopefully, NetApp will drop the marketing B.S. and do what it takes to finally get a true cluster product out of the door.

Oct 26, 2008

Xbox LIVE figures for music downloads

According to a press release issued by Microsoft last week:

"Xbox LIVE has delivered more than 80% of the downloadable songs for music games, currently averaging 3.8 million music downloads per month. In total, Xbox 360 users have enjoyed more than 45 million music downloads. (Microsoft internal data)".

Not bad...

Oct 22, 2008

Aerosmith hits jackpot with 'Guitar Hero'

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a MTV interview that “[their] version of ‘Guitar Hero’ generated far more in revenues than any Aerosmith album ever has". Says Kotick: “Merchandising, concert sales, their ability to sign a new contract [have] all been unbelievably influenced by their participation in ‘Guitar Hero.’"

This was also confirmed to CNN by game creator Kai Huang: "Aerosmith generated more money on royalties for their game ["Guitar Hero Aerosmith"] than they did on each of their past two albums. So they [the games] are truly bringing artists to new audiences, and much bigger audiences."

Metallica - whose complete latest album was released for Guitar Hero 3 - are also expected to be featured in their own 'Guitar Hero' edition in early '09.

Oct 16, 2008

Sales figures released for Radiohead digital initiative

Here's the original article. A must-read for everyone involved in digital content.

Key quotes:
  • 1st Radiohead album on iTunes – no.1 album selling 30,000 units in the US in the first week
  • Radiohead has made more money before ‘In Rainbows’ was physically released than they made in total on the previous album ‘Hail To the Thief’
  • There were a total of three million album purchases including the box sets, CDs and all downloads including iTunes and pay-what-you-like downloads via their official site. That’s an incredible number, given that their previous three albums sold in the low hundreds of thousands.
Case closed :)

First test of slotMusic player

The Register got a chance to play with the SanDisk player.

Bottom line: a display-less, MP3 player with a microSD slot. Hmm, OK. I must be missing something. There's plenty of USB MP3 players which are just as small, have a much higher capacity... and a display.

As discussed in a previous post,I don't believe in this format at all. Lets' see how things go.

Oct 14, 2008

Freaks and bikers rejoice! Dennis Hopper gets decorated

Legendary actor, director and free thinker Dennis Hopper has been decorated today in Paris and made "Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres". He is also honored by a new exhibit at La Cinematheque : "Dennis Hopper and the new Hollywood", which runs until January 2009.

Congratulations, Dennis, and thank you so much for all the great movies. Hell, when (if?) I grow up, I want to be like you.

George Hanson: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Billy: Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or somethin'. They're scared, man.
George Hanson: They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.
Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
George Hanson: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell is wrong with freedom? That's what it's all about.
George Hanson: Oh, yeah, that's right. That's what's it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it, that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.

OpenOffice 3.0 released

Yes, finally. It's debatable whether the new features are strong enough to really justify the major version bump, but who really cares. This is the best open-source application, hands down.

Try it and dump Micro$oft Office forever. And boy does it feel good :)

Oct 11, 2008

Interview: "Le Journal des Grandes Ecoles"

I was recently interviewed by the "Journal des Grandes Ecoles" (click above to get a high-res version) and got a chance to talk about Digiplug, what I do there and what kind of people we're looking for. Hopefully I did not make too much of a fool of myself :)

Copyright: Edicas

Oct 10, 2008

Brute-force attack on WPA/WPA2 passwords

It was only a matter of time before someone did this, really...

Russian company ElcomSoft has released a password "recovery" tool leveraging the computing power provided by nVidia GPUs. Breaking WEP is not even funny anymore, so how about "recovering" WPA/WPA2 passwords in pre-shared key mode (PSK)?

By combining several GPUs (this tool handles multiple clients out of the box), a brute-force attack on WPA/WPA2 PSK is now a credible threat.

Recommendations :
- If your gear supports it, use WPA2 instead of WPA (better encryption)
- For enterprise networks, try to avoid PSK and use EAP instead
- In all cases, use long, truly random passwords : 20 characters minimum (including non-alphanumerical characters), no dictionary words allowed.

And may the Force be with you...

Details on clickjacking vulnerabilities and exploits

Details on the dreadful "clickjacking" web browser vulnerability have started to emerge. The scariest one is the stealth activation of your webcam/microphone by a malicious Flash app (OMG!). Fortunately, Adobe has now fixed it.

Several issues remain and one can only hope that patches will soon be released for all major browsers. Firefox users are strongly encouraged to use the latest version of the NoScript extension, which does alleviate some of the issues.

Oct 7, 2008

French president tries to kill Amendment 138... and fails!

As reported earlier, Amendment 138 recently voted by the EU Parliament has killed dead the "Three Strikes" policy promoted by the French government to fight piracy.

I had failed to notice that last Friday, French President M. Sarkozy has personally written to M. Barroso, President of the European Commission, asking him in turn to kill this amendment. Which AFAIU the Commission cannot even do, unless the European Constitution is at risk...

This request has been officially rejected by the Commission.

Links (in French):
It's not my intention to have any kind of political discussion here, but I get slightly uneasy about this blatant attempt to arm wrestle the Commission into reversing a democratic Parliament decision.

And doesn't M. Sarkozy have more critical issues to worry about right now?

Movie studios vs. RealNetworks, part 2

Part 1 here.

Movie studios have now succeeded in temporarily shutting down sales of RealDVD.

I have no particular love for Real, but this makes no sense whatsoever. Even is Real lose this one, there will still be million more ways to rip DVDs...

The legal approach did not save the music industry. How can the movie industry expect anything significant out of this? Maybe this is some kind of personal vendetta? THAT, I could understand :)

More as the story unfolds.

"Iron Man" Blu-ray online content brings down Paramount servers

According to High-Def Digest, Paramount stated that "the bandwidth capacity was increased in preparation for the release but the demand exceeded all expectations so capacity was expanded dramatically last night and local servers were established worldwide to accommodate all the fans".

Ouch... Looks like someone underestimated the traffic! Scalability issues are tough: permanently sizing your systems for peak traffic is expensive, but so is customer frustration! You have to expect that everyone will try to access online content on release date. If you're trying to serve them all from a single location, that could mean a lot of trouble.

Not sure how they solved it. The PR seems to imply that they replicated the content to "local sites" to spread the load (which is AFAIK what iTunes also does).

This is not free, far from it. It will be interesting to see how Paramount handle this in the long run : in-house, CDN, 3rd party, ...

Oct 6, 2008

LinkedIn Q&A: Which is the safest Web Browser?

As explained in this Defcon paper, Firefox is safer because :
- Mozilla release security patches faster than Microsoft does,
- Firefox can download and apply them automatically.

The bottom line is that Firefox users are less vulnerable to new security issues, because they simply get fixed quicker in Firefox.

I definitely recommend NoScript, a Firefox add-on which removes all kinds of malicious scripts you may encounter in the wild. If you're running Windows, you should also consider the following (free!) programs:
- Spybot, the best (?) anti-malware / anti-spyware program.
- a good antivirus, like AntiVir.
- a good personal firewall, like ZoneAlarm.

Oct 3, 2008

Don't tase my Ipod, bro !

Uberhacker Kevin Mitnick, lots of (weird) electronic gear in his luggage, US customs, Colombia : all the ingredients for a good story. Hey, I've seen movies with a weaker script!

Seriously, this is a perfect reminder to all international travellers that US customs can seize any piece of electronic equipment (laptop, Ipod, USB key, etc) and go through any data stored on it.

If nothing else, make sure you have a backup...

Oct 1, 2008

Movie studio laywers get bored, sue the world. Yawn...

According to the Register, US movie studios are suing RealNetworks for selling RealDVD, a software program allowing users to rip DVDs.

Guys, the MPAA couldn't stop DVDJon 5 years ago. What could you possibly expect this time? Will you sue every company/individual who has released a DVD ripper?

'Ludicrous', 'desperate' and 'hopeless' don't even start to describe it.