The latest version of the world’s most popular Linux distribution is now available. Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala continues the six-month development cycle of this free OS. We’ve used Ubuntu since 2005 and, after a short adjustment period, never looked back at those other operating systems.
Never used Linux? This distribution is for you but we recommend waiting until the release makes it out of beta to the stable version on October 29th.
Comfortable with Linux and want to get your feet wet? The Hack a Day team is calling on all of you to test, report, and improve upon this community driven project. Get yourself a copy of the beta (we recommend using the torrents) and start reporting bugs. You can help fix them by joining the bug squad, or use your coding skills to become a developer.
The guys over at Xmarks are working hard to bring their bookmark synchronization service to all browsers and platforms. They’ve recently begun a closed alpha test for their Google Chrome/Chromium extension. We got an invite and decided to give it a test run. Since extensions aren’t yet fully supported, and still a bit buggy you’ll need to use the latest build in the dev channel of Chrome, which means at least version 184.108.40.206 or newer. We tested it on version 220.127.116.11 for Ubuntu with great success. The extension is still pretty basic since it’s still at an alpha stage, but works very well with synchronizing bookmarks across different platforms and browsers. Some of the things left out from the Firefox version are profiles, smarter search, site info and suggested tags. For an alpha release, it’s very well done and functions great, and we’re certainly looking forward to this extension as it develops further.
Yes, you read that correctly: electronic mail carried by birds. [Ferdinand] tipped us off to this story, which involves combining new and old methods in transferring data. The Unlimited Group, a firm in a remote section of South Africa, transfers loads of encrypted documents to a second office 50 miles away. A pricey broadband connection would take between 6 hours and two days to transfer a standard load (4GB) of data between these locations. On the other hand, Winston (seen above) can complete an equivalent flight within 45 minutes. A memory card is strapped to his leg, and using his wit and instinct, Winston finds his way home. For those without their calculators on hand, Winston’s bandwidth is between 7x and 63x faster than what they had before. If his flash card were to be upgraded to 16GB, that would be an instant fourfold increase on top of current gains. As [Mark] pointed out on the Daily Mail website, homing pigeons still need to be taken back to their departure point.
This solution still has its advantages over a courier: they are lower in cost, they work over longer hours, and have potentially faster delivery speeds. Multiple pigeons can be transported back at once, and released with data as needed.
As far as password recovery utilities go, Cain & Abel is by far one of the best out there. It’s designed to run on Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista but has methods to recover passwords for other systems. It is able to find passwords in the local cache, decode scrambled passwords, find wireless network keys or use brute-force and dictionary attacks. For recovering passwords on other systems Cain & Abel has the ability to sniff the local network for passwords transmitted via HTTP/HTTPS, POP3, IMAP, SMTP and much more. We think it is quite possibly one of the best utilities to have as a system administrator, and definitely a must have for your toolbox.
If you want books, but don’t want to pay for them, there is a better way than walking into your local book store and pocketing them. Try grabbing them online, from Google!
Everyone must be aware of the Google Books Library project by now. If you’re not, it’s basically a way for Google to ensure all of the world’s book content is accessible and searchable. Through the Book Project, Google works with libraries to scan and archive their older and out of print materials. Up until recently, viewers of books in the Google Library Project web space were limited to viewing books within the browser. Not any more. Google Book Downloader is a utility that rips books from Google and saves them as PDFs so you can view them with any device or desktop that can view this file format. Using Microsoft’s .NET framework, the Google Book Downloader application allows users to enter a book’s ISBN number or Google link to pull up the desired book and begin a download, fishing off with exporting the file to a PDF. Full setup instructions and download are available on Codeplex.
[related: Google Chrome roundup]
Mozilla released the latest alpha version of their new mobile browser Fennec for Windows Mobile. It brings many new features and fixes, such as improved startup time and a caching system to help scrolling on a page. They have also added support for a wider range of screen resolutions, and for those of us running an HTC Touch Pro support for zoom via the directional pad has been included in this release. Being an alpha release, it’s still a bit on the buggy side, but is very a promising browser for mobile phones. The final release should give other browsers a run for their money.