Monday, January 26, 2009

What happens after Blu-Ray

Hello pals, and...hmm..(can't figure out the female about palette?),

We all the know about the blu-ray disc that's out now with its astounding storage capactity(n price :P) But this isn't all. There are still a few things round the corner that are expected to get bigger than your HDD(the present ones). Of course, I can't guarranty you about their prices, but these storage devices are making it large!

I've been around Wikipedia for a while looking for the future of these 'disc-storage' devices. And here's what I've found.
I'm not writing the whole thing here, but an oveview sort of, mostly from wikipedia. You can go to the link I give at the bottom.


The Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) is an optical disc technology that may one day hold up to 3.9 terabytes (TB) of information, although the current maximum is 250GB. It employs a technique known as collinear holography, whereby two lasers, one red and one green, are collimated in a single beam. The green laser reads data encoded as laser interference fringes from a holographic layer near the top of the disc while the red laser is used as the reference beam and to read servo information from a regular CD-style aluminum layer near the bottom. Servo information is used to monitor the position of the read head over the disc, similar to the head, track, and sector information on a conventional hard disk drive. On a CD or DVD this servo information is interspersed amongst the data.

A dichroic mirror layer between the holographic data and the servo data reflects the green laser while letting the red laser pass through. This prevents interference from refraction of the green laser off the servo data pits and is an advance over past holographic storage media, which either experienced too much interference, or lacked the servo data entirely, making them incompatible with current CD and DVD drive technology. These discs have the capacity to hold up to 3.9 terabytes (TB) of information. The HVD also has a transfer rate of 1 Gbit/s (125 MB/s). Optware planned to release a 200 GB disc in early June 2006, and Maxell planned one for September 2006 with a capacity of 300 GB and transfer rate of 20 MB/s -- although HVD standards were approved and published on June 28, 2007, neither company has released an HVD as of January, 2009.

HVD is not the only technology in high-capacity, optical storage media. InPhase Technologies is developing a rival holographic format called Tapestry Media, which they claim will eventually store 1.6 TB with a data transfer rate of 120 MB/s, and several companies are developing TB-level discs based on 3D optical data storage technology. Such large optical storage capacities compete favorably with the Blu-ray Disc format. However, holographic drives are projected to initially cost around US$15,000, and a single disc around US$120–180, although prices are expected to fall steadily. The market for this format is not initially the common consumer, but enterprises with very large storage needs. 

Protein Coated Disc

Protein-Coated Disc (PCD) is a theoretical optical disc technology currently being developed by Professor Venkatesan Renugopalakrishnan, formerly of Harvard Medical School and Florida International University. PCD would greatly increase storage over Holographic Versatile Disc optical disc systems. It involves coating a normal DVD with a special light-sensitive protein made from a genetically altered microbe, which would in principle allow storage of up to 50 Terabytes on one disc. Working with the Japanese NEC Corporation, Renugopalakrishnan's team created a prototype device and estimated in July, 2006 that a USB disk would be commercialised in 12 months and a DVD in 18 to 24 months. However, no further information has been forthcoming since that time.
The technology uses the photosynthetic pigment bacteriorhodopsin created from bacteria.

So be careful, in a few years, your computer can catch some real virus!


Oh, well. It's high time I spoke about my 'Best of 2008'. It's almost a month since the new year has arrived, and already a number of events have occured, new lives entered the earth, some gone to the unknown worlds...

Well, here's my disclaimer: Not all that I shall speak about have released in 2008, but I've come across them in 2008.
Starting with...

Three Mistakes Of My Life-Chetan Bhagat
Brisingr-Christopher Paolini
Amulet of Samarkand-Jonathon Stroud
Bourne Identity-Robert Ludlum
Artemis Fowl-Eoin Colfer

Runner Up: Bourne Identity :)
Well, I wanted to read the books ever since I had since I had watched the movies. Robert Ludlum has done a real good job, keeping the reader at the edge as much as possible. Its tough to write even a chapter full of action, and one full trilogy of it is honestly good enough!

And the Best: Amulet of Samarkand..!!
This is the best book I've read this year, undoubtedly. I've written the review, and you can check it out in my Blog-Archive. I suppose I don't have to link you guys there.

Dark Night
Lake House
Quantum of Solace
Rock On(hindi)
Rab Ne...(Hindi)

Runner: Rock On
Rock On is a really freaking offbeat movie, the best last year in terms of the change I wished to watch in Hindi films for a while. Also the best offbeat movie after Taare Zameen Par. There've been quite a few offbeat movies, but none to this extent.

Winner: Dark Night
This is the best movie I've watched in years, in fact! One of the movies that moved me and made me think, and enjoy every frame. 

I've listened to many bands this year, mostly recommended by my friend, Klaus, and here are the nominees:
Viva La Vida-Coldplay
American Idiot-Green Day
Master of Puppets-Metallica
OK Computer-Radiohead

Runner: Master of Puppets. As you'd have seen, I have been praising Master of Puppets for quite some time in my past blogs, but in the last few days of 2008, my charts underwent a change :)

Winner: Viva La Vida. This was an album that my friend suggested a few days before the new year, and the one which completely changed my outlook towards music. I started like this kind of music, the alternate rock after this. I tried OK Computer soon after, but probably I hadn't listened enough to like it.
Well, my guitar lessons have taken a halt since my college timings have changed. I've bought three new books which I shall read after my present goals are reached. So review will come. As for my score, they were a big time lull, reaching 184 out of 450! Yeah, it's sad of course, but no student is stronger than one with no more marks to lose :P. I'm serious!

So let me carry on,
till my next blog,

Templar AKA Sumanth

Monday, January 19, 2009

Review Blog: The parchment inside my mouth caught fire!

Hello fellow bloggers and my dear friends (:P),

Time here is deteriorating for me. I'm getting highly distracted by music and internet. While on the other side, my dad has stopped speakin to me for almost a fortnight now, due to my bad scores...(Rank 170 on 450, yeah, it is hell bad!) I tried my best this test, but ain't expecting too much now...*sad*

Anyway, I had promised you people for the book review on Golem's Eye, and here it is. I'm not really in a great mood, so I'll make it short and sweet:)


Title: Golem's Eye, Book 2-The Bartimaeus Trilogy
Author: Jonathon Stroud
Genre: Fiction; Present-day Fantasy

The book is not much bigger than its prequel. Second volumes are generally big. The story starts with an action packed historical prologue where old King Gladstone invades the enemy territory of Prague(Czech). Our djinni Bartimaeus narrates the prologue, which ends as his master dies and he drifts back into The Other Place.
The main story starts about two years after the end of Amulet of Samarkand, and Nathaniel is now assistant to the head of Department of Internal Affairs in the Government. The head is now Julius Tallow, who succeeds Underwood. Unfortunately, Nathaniel gets caught up in the politics of the government, and different ways how people try to attack him and prove him inefficient due to his age(which is fourteen). At the beginning of the book, there is the rebel group, The Resistance, striving to overthrow the magicians' regime, and take over, on which Nathaniel is assigned to investigate. But no matter how hard he tries, there are no leads!
And then there is Kitty, the girl who once had attacked Bartimaeus while he was having the Amulet of Smarkand and also stole Nathaniel's scrying disc around that time. She is one of the members of the Resistance, and an important character.
Also, the great "man of the series" Bartimaeus is there, entrancing every reader of the book with his witty footnotes.

My Rating:

The story was particularly complex with its real good twists, and two different conspiracies which is handled tactfully by the writer, without messing up. But the end was a little too much of coincidence, where the Golem turns up exactly when the story has to end. I was surprised how late it ended, given most novels, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Inheritance(Cycle) or any other novel, end about a hundred pages before the book does, giving a nice closure with many details. But this went on in a nice pace and ended up way too fast, with just about thirty pages to spare.

Characters were really well desigened, including the ones like Kitty and her fellow Resistance members. Most importantly, the writer has given a sense of justification for every character, which would make you support each of them, when you read their respective storylines. But a few were a little aloof, for instance, Duvall, the Night Police head, also the judge of the courtroom where Kitty first goes looking for justice.

The whole concept of this book is real good, and a must read for every fantasy liker. It gives a real serious plot, but presents it in a very funny, jovial and sattirical form. The things like Golem, the parchment, are completely original(to my knowledge) and coincide with no other creations, like other fantasy books. The Urgals in Inheritance somewhat resemble the Ogres in LOTR. Also Eldunari does, with Horcruxes...and so on.

Sense(5/5) *if possible, I'd give a 5+*
The whole story makes perfect sense. In fact, after reading this book, you'd looking for Greybacks and Search Spheres during your London visit(s)! All of this, and more, Bartimaeus makes a lot of things get great, like explaining why people tend to notice ghosts duing a time more close to midnight, and some fictitious secrets hidden bheing things like the Westminster Abbey, and some kind of Bridge in Prage, meant only for pedestrians.

End Note:

On the whole, this book is very entertaining, especially if you are bored of something. You'd enjoy it even if books have stopped appealing to you. Only one drawback I find is that, you just can't understand this novel in case you haven't read its prequel, Amulet of Samarkand. There are lot of values in this book, and if I'm not wrond, many old indian proverbs are demonstrated in t he book(may be thare just morals everywhere, and not any cultural work)
So do read it, and enjoy!

Templar AKA Sumanth

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Hacking and Passwords

Hello dudes and dudettes,

The past week wasn't really great, and I've got another big-time test coming up next week, so this might be one of the times I seldom come online. Here is a little blog about passwords and security. Well, I've collected much of this information from another source, a can google later and find that out!
Security companies and IT people constantly tells us that we should use complex and difficult passwords. This is bad advice, because you can actually make usable, easy to remember and highly secure passwords. In fact, usable passwords are often far better than complex ones.

So let's dive into the world of passwords, and look at what makes a password secure in practical terms.

How to hack a password

The work involved in hacking passwords is very simple. There are 5 proven ways to do so:
  • Asking: Amazingly the most common way to gain access to someone's password is simply to ask for it (often in relation with something else). People often tell their passwords to colleagues, friends and family. Having a complex password policy isn't going to change this.
  • Guessing: This is the second most common method to access a person's account. It turns out that most people choose a password that is easy to remember, and the easiest ones are those that are related to you as a person. Passwords like: your last name, your wife's name, the name of your cat, the date of birth, your favorite flower etc. are all pretty common. This problem can only be solved by choosing a password with no relation to you as a person.
  • Brute force attack: Very simple to do. A hacker simply attempts to sign-in using different passwords one at the time. If you password is "sun", he will attempt to sign-in using "aaa, aab, aac, aad ... sul, sum, sun (MATCH)". The only thing that stops a brute force attack is higher complexity and longer passwords (which is why IT people want you to use just that).
  • Common word attacks: A simple form of brute-force attacks, where the hacker attempt to sign-in using a list of common words. Instead of trying different combination of letters, the hacker tries different words e.g. "sum, summer, summit, sump, sun (MATCH)".
  • Dictionary attacks: Same concept as common word attacks - the only difference is that the hacker now uses the full dictionary of words (there are about 500,000 words in the English language).
When is a password secure?

You cannot protect against "asking" and "guessing", but you can protect yourself from the other forms of attacks. A hacker will usually create an automated script or a program that does the work for him. He isn't going to sit around manually trying 500,000 different words to see if one of them is your password.

The measure of security must then be "how many password requests can the automated program make - e.g. per second". The actual number varies, but most web applications would not be capable of handling more than 100 sign-in requests per second.

This means it takes the following time to hack a simple password like "sun":

Brute-force: 3 minutes
Common Word: 3 minutes
Dictionary: 1 hour 20 minutes

Note: "sun" has 17,576 possible character combinations. 3 letters using the lowercase alphabet = 26^3

This is of course a highly insecure password, but how much time is enough for a password to be secure?
  • a password that can be hacked in 1 minute is far too riksy
  • 10 minutes - still far too risky
  • 1 hour - still not good enough
  • 1 day - now we are getting somewhere. The probability that a person will have a program running just to hack your account for an entire day is very little. Still, it is plausible.
  • 1 month - this is something that only a dedicated attacker would do.
  • 1 year - now we are moving from practical risk to theoretical risk. If you are NASA or CIA then it is unacceptable. For the rest of us, well - you do not have that kind of enemies, nor is your company data that interesting.
  • 10 years - Now we are talking purely theoretical.
  • A lifetime: 100 years - this is really the limit for most people. Who cares about their password being hacked after they have died? Still it is nice to know that you use a password that is "secure for life"
But let's take a full swing at this. Let's look at "100 year - secure for life". It has good ring to it and it makes us feel safe. There is still the chance that the hacker gets lucky. That he accidently finds the right password after only 15 years instead of 100. It happens.

Let's step that up too and go for the full high-end security level. I want a password that takes 1,000 years to crack- let's call this "secure forever". That ought to be good enough, right?

Making Usable and Secure passwords

Now that we have covered the basics, let's look at some real examples, and see just how usable we can make a password, while still being "secure forever".

Note: The examples below are based on 100 password request per second. The result is the approach that is the most effective way to hack that specific password - either being by the use of brute-force, common words or dictionary attacks.

First let's look at the common 6 character password - using different methods:

In this example complexity clearly wins. Using a password with mixed case characters, numbers and symbols is far more secure than anything else. Using a simple word as your password is clearly useless.

Does that mean that the IT-departments and security companies is right? Nope, it just means that a 6 character password isn't going to work. None can remember a password like "J4fS<2",>

To make usable passwords we need to look at them differently. First of all what you need is to use words you can remember, something simple and something you can type fast.

Like these:

Using more than one simple word as your password increases you security substantially (from 3 minutes to 2 months). But, by simply using 3 words instead of two, you suddenly got an extremely secure password.

It takes:

1,163,859 years using a brute-force method
2,537 years using a common word attack
39,637,240 years using a dictionary attack

It is 10 times more secure to use "this is fun" as your password, than "J4fS<2".

If you want to be insanely secure; simply choose uncommon words as your password - like:

A usable and secure password is then not a complex one. It is one that you can remember - a simple password using 3+ words.

It is not just about passwords

One thing is to choose a secure and usable password. Another thing is to prevent the hacker from hacking password in the first place.  This is a very simple thing to do.

All you need to do is to prevent automatic hacking scripts from working effectively. What you need to do is this:

Add a time-delay between sign-in attempts. Instead of allowing people to sign-in again and again and again. Add a 5 second delay between each attempt. It is short enough to not be noticeable (it takes longer than 5 seconds to realize that you have tried a wrong password, and to type in a new one). And, it forces the hacker to only be able make sign-in requests 1 every 5 seconds (instead of 100 times per second).
Add a penalty period if a person has typed a wrong password more than - say - 10 times - of something like 1 hour. Again, this seriously disrupts the hacking script from working effectively.
A hacker can hack the password "alpine fun" in only 2 months if he is able to attack your server 100 times per second. But, with the penalty period and the 5 second delay, the same password can suddenly sustain an attack for 1,889 years.

Remember this the next time you are making web applications or discussing password policies. Passwords can be made both highly secure and user-friendly.

Alright then, It's time for me to go.
Keep your comments pouting in.

Templar AKA Sumanth

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hot New Technology that will change Everything!

Hello dudes and dudettes,

First and foremost, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year, since this my First-blog-of-the-year!
Thinks are okay here, nothing much deserves to be spoken about. 
During my journeys across the web, there's lot much I've found, and here are of them. As the heading implies, these would be some of the greatest breakthroughs in the computing experiences. They're just round the corner...*coming soon*...

Memristor: A Groundbreaking New Circuit

Since the dawn of electronics, we've had only three types of circuit components--resistors, inductors, and capacitors. But in 1971, UC Berkeley researcher Leon Chua theorized the possibility of a fourth type of component, one that would be able to measure the flow of electric current: the memristor. Now, just 37 years later, Hewlett-Packard has built one.

What is it? As its name implies, the memristor can "remember" how much current has passed through it. And by alternating the amount of current that passes through it, a memristor can also become a one-element circuit component with unique properties. Most notably, it can save its electronic state even when the current is turned off, making it a great candidate to replace today's flash memory.

Memristors will theoretically be cheaper and far faster than flash memory, and allow far greater memory densities. They could also replace RAM chips as we know them, so that, after you turn off your computer, it will remember exactly what it was doing when you turn it back on, and return to work instantly. This lowering of cost and consolidating of components may lead to affordable, solid-state computers that fit in your pocket and run many times faster than today's PCs.

Someday the memristor could spawn a whole new type of computer, thanks to its ability to remember a range of electrical states rather than the simplistic "on" and "off" states that today's digital processors recognize. By working with a dynamic range of data states in an analog mode, memristor-based computers could be capable of far more complex tasks than just shuttling ones and zeroes around.

When is it coming? Researchers say that no real barrier prevents implementing the memristor in circuitry immediately. But it's up to the business side to push products through to commercial reality. Memristors made to replace flash memory (at a lower cost and lower power consumption) will likely appear first; HP's goal is to offer them by 2012. Beyond that, memristors will likely replace both DRAM and hard disks in the 2014-to-2016 time frame. As for memristor-based analog computers, that step may take 20-plus years. 

32-Core CPUs From Intel and AMD

8-core Intel and AMD CPUs are about to make their way onto desktop PCs everywhere. Next stop: 16 cores. Courtesy of Intel

If your CPU has only a single core, it's officially a dinosaur. In fact, quad-core computing is now commonplace; you can even get laptop computers with four cores today. But we're really just at the beginning of the core wars: Leadership in the CPU market will soon be decided by who has the most cores, not who has the fastest clock speed.

What is it? With the gigahertz race largely abandoned, both AMD and Intel are trying to pack more cores onto a die in order to continue to improve processing power and aid with multitasking operations. Miniaturizing chips further will be key to fitting these cores and other components into a limited space. Intel will roll out 32-nanometer processors (down from today's 45nm chips) in 2009.

When is it coming? Intel has been very good about sticking to its road map. A six-core CPU based on the Itanium design should be out imminently, when Intel then shifts focus to a brand-new architecture called Nehalem, to be marketed as Core i7. Core i7 will feature up to eight cores, with eight-core systems available in 2009 or 2010. (And an eight-core AMD project called Montreal is reportedly on tap for 2009.)

After that, the timeline gets fuzzy. Intel reportedly canceled a 32-core project called Keifer, slated for 2010, possibly because of its complexity (the company won't confirm this, though). That many cores requires a new way of dealing with memory; apparently you can't have 32 brains pulling out of one central pool of RAM. But we still expect cores to proliferate when the kinks are ironed out: 16 cores by 2011 or 2012 is plausible (when transistors are predicted to drop again in size to 22nm), with 32 cores by 2013 or 2014 easily within reach. Intel says "hundreds" of cores may come even farther down the line. 

USB 3.0 Speeds Up Performance on External Devices

The USB connector has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of computing, with more than 2 billion USB-connected devices sold to date. But in an age of terabyte hard drives, the once-cool throughput of 480 megabits per second that a USB 2.0 device can realistically provide just doesn't cut it any longer.

What is it? USB 3.0 (aka "SuperSpeed USB") promises to increase performance by a factor of 10, pushing the theoretical maximum throughput of the connector all the way up to 4.8 gigabits per second, or processing roughly the equivalent of an entire CD-R disc every second. USB 3.0 devices will use a slightly different connector, but USB 3.0 ports are expected to be backward-compatible with current USB plugs, and vice versa. USB 3.0 should also greatly enhance the power efficiency of USB devices, while increasing the juice (nearly one full amp, up from 0.1 amps) available to them. That means faster charging times for your iPod--and probably even more bizarre USB-connected gear like the toy rocket launchers and beverage coolers that have been festooning people's desks.

When is it coming? The USB 3.0 spec is nearly finished, with consumer gear now predicted to come in 2010. Meanwhile, a host of competing high-speed plugs--DisplayPort, eSATA, and HDMI--will soon become commonplace on PCs, driven largely by the onset of high-def video. Even FireWire is looking at an imminent upgrade of up to 3.2 gbps performance. The port proliferation may make for a baffling landscape on the back of a new PC, but you will at least have plenty of high-performance options for hooking up peripherals. 

Google's Desktop OS

The independently created gOS Linux is built around Google Web apps. Is this a model for a future Google PC OS?

In case you haven't noticed, Google now has its well-funded mitts on just about every aspect of computing. From Web browsers to cell phones, soon you'll be able to spend all day in the Googleverse and never have to leave. Will Google make the jump to building its own PC operating system next?

What is it? It's everything, or so it seems. Google Checkout provides an alternative to PayPal. Street View is well on its way to taking a picture of every house on every street in the United States. And the fun is just starting: Google's early-beta Chrome browser earned a 1 percent market share in the first 24 hours of its existence. Android, Google's cell phone operating system, is hitting handsets as you read this, becoming the first credible challenger to the iPhone among sophisticated customers.

When is it coming? Though Google seems to have covered everything, many observers believe that logically it will next attempt to attack one very big part of the software market: the operating system.

The Chrome browser is the first toe Google has dipped into these waters. While a browser is how users interact with most of Google's products, making the underlying operating system somewhat irrelevant, Chrome nevertheless needs an OS to operate.

To make Microsoft irrelevant, though, Google would have to work its way through a minefield of device drivers, and even then the result wouldn't be a good solution for people who have specialized application needs, particularly most business users. But a simple Google OS--perhaps one that's basically a customized Linux distribution--combined with cheap hardware could be something that changes the PC landscape in ways that smaller players who have toyed with open-source OSs so far haven't been quite able to do.

Check back in 2011, and take a look at the not-affiliated-with-Google gOS, thinkgos in the meantime. 

And now, looking back....really back, far behind...

25 Years of our Predictions:

Our Greatest Hits

Predicting the future isn't easy. Sometimes PC World has been right on the money. At other times, we've missed it by a mile. Here are three predictions we made that were eerily prescient--and three where we may have been a bit too optimistic.

1983 What we said: "The mouse will bask in the computer world limelight... Like the joystick before it, though, the mouse will fade someday into familiarity."

We hit that one out of the park. Mice are so commonplace that they're practically disposable.

1984 What we said: "Microsoft Windows should have a lasting effect on the entire personal computer industry."

"Lasting" was an understatement. Windows has now amassed for Microsoft total revenues in the tens of billions of dollars and is so ubiquitous and influential that it has been almost perpetually embroiled in one lawsuit or another, usually involving charges of monopoly or of trademark and patent infringements.

1988 What we said:"In the future you'll have this little box containing all your files and programs... It's very likely that eventually people will always carry their data with them."

For most people, that little box is now also their MP3 player or cell phone.

And Biggest Misses

1987 What we said: "When you walk into an office in 1998, the PC will sense your presence, switch itself on, and promptly deliver your overnight e-mail, sorted in order of importance."

When we arrive in our office, the computer ignores us, slowly delivers the overnight e-mail, and puts all the spam on top.

1994 What we said: "Within five years... batteries that last a year, like watch batteries today, will power [PDAs]."

Perhaps our biggest whiff of all time. Not only do these superbatteries not exist (nor are they even remotely in sight), but PDAs are pretty much dead too.

2000 What we said: We wrote about future "computers that pay attention to you, sensing where you are, what you're doing, and even what your vital signs are... Products incorporating this kind of technology...could hit the market within a year."

While many devices now feature location-sensing hardware, such a PC has yet to come to pass. And frankly, we'd be glad to be wrong about this one. 


That's it then!

I'm presently reading Golem's Eye, as I've mentioned in the reply-comment of my previous blog...and also listening to Viva La Vida, by Coldplay, which was a New Year's gift from my pal, Klaus. The guitar lessons are going on smoothly, only giving blisters on my fingertips...but its all in the game..!

Keep your comments pouring in, 

Till my next post,


Templar AKA Sumanth