Friday, 17 December 2010

Enjoy Vinyl - NOW!

Record show by peyri
OK, time to go out on a limb here. It is a well known fact that reproduction from vinyl records and analogue audio equipment is superior to digital reproduction.  Yeah, I know what you are going to say, "urban legend" or "stop talking rubbish!"

But wait a second.  Lets think slightly outside the box here.  Take a look at this YouTube video: 

Sure there are pops, bangs and background fizz.  But that adds to the sound.  This is how the the music is supposed to sound.

What knocks me for six is the record sleeve and sleeve art.  Yes, I remember this track the first time. I was eight at the time of it's original release.  Yes, the song lives on and will continue to do so, but what about all the effort that went into producing what effectively is the vinyl disk packaging?  Having only ever purchased the album in mp3 format, I didn't appreciate the album as a whole.  I was missing out on the album art.

It was only through watching the above video that I realised this.

Who doesn't remember thumbing through their parents record collection and being taken in by all the imagery, colours and printing even if they also contain what can only be described as heinous crimes against fashion in the form of some of the band photos?

Case in point. Imagine being seven or eight and finding this in a pile of dusty records:
Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue. Released 1977
Finding this magical item at age eight, who isn't going to employ parental pester power to get that record played?  Shame about the band though:
Electric Light Orchestra
Another striking thing about the video is the spinning of the record itself.  What's more magical and mesmerizing than a spinning record?  Sure we all know how it works, but to think that all that sound is held in that little grove... Suddenly I'm eight again.  I can't take my eyes off of the record spinning on the record player...

If you, like I, like listening to music the way it was intended, enjoy original album art and are mesmerised by spinning pieces of vinyl, but no longer have the necessary audio equipment, then I highly recommend you have a look at gilmour509's YouTube Channel to appreciate some fifty more vinyl classics.  Keep up the good work gilmour509!

Oh and one last thing, don't get me started on drumming gorillas :o(

- Chris

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Gawker Hacked. Am I affected?

On the weekend of 11 and 12 of December 2010 it was discovered that the servers of Gawker Media (that includes the websites Gawker, Deadspin, Kotaku, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, Gizmodo, Lifehacker or Fleshbot*) had been hacked.

Nearly 1.25 million commenter user accounts, including more than 500,000 user e-mails and more than 185,000 decrypted passwords were posted to the Pirate Bay, available for anyone with the time or inclination to download.

Of corse, this security breach is potentially extremely serious for those who use common credentials across multiple on-line accounts.

Although the data retrieved from Gawker was encrypted, it is reported that the encryption is easily reversible.

As an example, twitter is reportedly already seeing a mass Acai Berry spaming campaign emanating from compromised accounts.

So the obvious question on everyone's mind who has ever commented on any of these sites: has my email address / password / username been leaked through the Gawker database hack?

Am I affected?
Option 1:

1. Visit this website type your email address in the Input box and click MD5. This will generate an MD5 hash of your email address. Copy the string to your clipboard.

Alternatively, if you don't fancy posting your email address into yet another website and are running Linux, then use this sequence of commands to obtain the MD5 hash of your email address:

md5sum <<EOF

2. Open This Google Fusion Table, click on “Show Options” and choose “MD5” from the drop-down.  Paste the MD5 string generated above into the input box and click apply.

If you see a matching row, it’s time to change your Gawker password ASAP and change any other online accounts where you may be using that same ID / email address.

Option 2:
As linked to by Gawker themselves, use this online tool

For further information and an apology from Gawker, see this lifehacker post

Finally, here is a nice little way to construct secure individual website passwords from the security team at Mozilla:

Have fun and STAY SECURE!

- Chris

*Fleshbot: Having never heard of Fleshbot, I googled it.  Hmmm Mistake.  Here is how Gawker themselves carefully and succinctly describe their fleshbot service:

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