Friday, July 31, 2009

Unlinker Replaces Thumbnails with Full-Size Images [Downloads]

Firefox only (Win/Mac/Linux): Firefox extension Unlinker fixes those annoying web pages that show you thumbnails, forcing you to click through every single image to see the full-size version.

Once you've installed the extension, simply right-click on the image and choose the new Unlinker option to make Firefox load the full-size image inline on the page, or use the context menu on the page background to load all the images on the page—especially useful for galleries where you'd really like to see all of the images in a full-size view instead of repeatedly clicking through each one. We've mentioned this extension before, but since then it's been simplified into a one-click operation. Unlinker is a free download, works wherever Firefox does.

Unlinker [Mozilla Add-ons via gHacks]

Spiff Up Flat Images with Textures [Photoshop Tip]

Even if you master the focus and composition of a photograph, it might come off as a bit too calm for certain uses. The Digital Photography School site explains how to apply interesting image textures to any photograph.

In the example shown at the DPS blog, the rough and slightly yellowed look of a scanned piece of paper is applied as a layer to an over-the-shoulder portrait, giving it a look and color tone that matches the look the model is giving off. For beginning Photoshop users, it's a great entryway into the art of applying just the right look to photos that lack for the right mood. Hit the link for the full step-by-step run-down, and tell us about your great texturing results (or post the pics themselves!) in the comments.

The Hidden Risks of Cloud Computing [Cloud Computing]

Every day more users move their computing lives from the desktop to the cloud and rely on hosted web applications to store and access email, photos, and documents. But this new frontier involves serious risks that aren't obvious to most.

Photo by Dyanna.

In an era of ubiquitous broadband, smartphones, and users who manage multiple computers and devices, it just makes sense to move your email, photos, documents, calendar, notes, finances, and contacts to awesome web applications like Gmail, Evernote, Flickr, Google Docs, Mint, etc. But transferring your personal data to hosted web applications has its potential pitfalls, risks that get lost in all the hype around cloud-centric new products like Google's new Chrome OS or the iPhone.

When you decide to move your data into the cloud, there are a few gotchas you should know about.

Lesser Privacy Protection Under the Law

To search your house or office (including documents stored on your computer's hard drive), cops need to obtain a search warrant. To get to the information you've stored on a third-party's web servers, they only need a subpoena, which is easier to obtain. This kind of search can also happen without your knowledge. The NY Times reports:

Thanks in part to the Patriot Act, the federal government has been able to demand some details of your online activities from service providers - and not to tell you about it. There have been thousands of such requests lodged since the law was passed, and the F.B.I.'s own audits have shown that there can be plenty of overreach - perhaps wholly inadvertent - in requests like these.

Some think that privacy advocates are actually conspiracy theorists and that in reality, no one in the government is reading your email. That may be true. Still, you should know that the legal process for a third party to access your data in the cloud is different than if it's on your own computer. Photo by mujitra (´・ω・).

Weak Security Systems That Are Too Easy to Break Into

The government getting access to your data stored in the cloud is probably much less of a concern than someone illegally getting to it. Crappy web-based security systems—like weak password recovery workflows, phishing attacks, and keyloggers—present bigger security risks.

Just last week hundreds of embarrassing and revealing internal company documents from Twitter were published online, obtained by a hacker who used Gmail's password recovery mechanism to break into an employee's personal Gmail account. This could have happened to anyone. (Two lessons to be learned from this particular intrusion: use strong and different passwords for every cloud app you log into, and make sure your alternate email account is NOT Hotmail.)

In collaborative web applications that are built for groups—like Google Apps or any web-based project management software—the security concerns spread across everyone involved. The security of the entire system is only as strong as the weakest user's setup. Once one person's weak password is brute-forced or guessed, everyone's documents and information are at risk.

Data Lock-in and Third-party Control

Amazon reaches into customers' Kindles and remotely deletes already-purchased books. Facebook launches Beacon, an advertising mechanism that collects and publishes information about what you do on external web sites on your Facebook profile (only to apologize and offer opt-out later). Apple denies approval for the Google Voice application in the App Store. Twitter doesn't offer the ability to export more than 3,200 status updates. Flickr only lets you see the last 200 photos you uploaded if you don't have a paid Pro account. MySpace and Facebook don't immediately remove photos from their servers when you delete them. When you're living in the cloud, you're beholden to a third party who can make decisions about your data and platform in ways never seen before in computing.

Server Unavailability and Account Lockout

One of the biggest benefits of storing your data in the cloud is that you don't have to worry about backing it up anymore. Big companies with hundreds of servers are more reliable than your little external hard drive, right? Yes. But servers do go down, and when you're dependent on a web application to get your email or access that PowerPoint slideshow for the big presentation, there's always the risk that your internet connection will go down, or that the webapp's servers will. Offline technologies like Google Gears, decent export functionality, and a good backup system can ameliorate this particular concern, but not all systems offer those things.

Getting locked out of your webapp account is another possible pitfall. The NY Times reports:

Discussion forums abound with tales of woe from Gmail customers who have found themselves locked out of their account for days or even weeks. They were innocent victims of security measures, which automatically suspend access if someone tries unsuccessfully to log on repeatedly to an account. The customers express frustration that they can't speak with anyone at Google after filling out the company's online forms and waiting in vain for Google to restore access to their accounts.

(If you're worried about getting locked out of your Gmail account in particular, here's one way to automatically back up your mail to your computer.)

Don't get me wrong: I personally am right on the cloud bandwagon with all of you. My web browser is the one app I run on my desktop at all times; I've entrusted the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo with my data just like you have. The key is to know what you're getting into when you make that choice, to ratchet up your personal security mechanisms (like alternate email addresses and password choices) and to lobby for better user protection by hosting providers in the cloud.

That said, vote on your biggest concern about living in the cloud.

What risk factor in the cloud worries you most?(polls)

Have any of these issues (or something I didn't include) kept you from using a web-based application? Have you fallen into any of the pitfalls of the cloud? Let us know in the comments.

Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's founding editor, is cautiously optimistic about the future of cloud computing. Her weekly feature, Smarterware, appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Smarterware tag feed to get new installments in your newsreader.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hello Christopher Megadon Meets Hollywood At Rush Backstage Club

The Official Rush Mailing List





The Rush Backstage Club has just released a limited edition, hand numbered, Starman Sculpture.  This sculpture is a special item that commemorates the induction of Rush into The Hollywood Walk Of Fame.  All proceeds from the sale of this item go to the Hollywood Historic Trust, which preserves the integrity of the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. For complete details, check it out at



Rush was inducted into the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2009, being recognized for their contributions to the entertainment industry! This limited edition starman sculpture has been custom painted with Walk Of Fame graphics to commemorate and celebrate this event.

The colors used for sculpture are the same as the rose granite star that will be embedded into Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles, California. The iconic starman figure is painted in silver, and stands against the star backdrop which is painted with the signatures of Geddy, Alex, and Neil. The base upon which the starman stands, is painted with a gold Rush logo and the words, "Hollywood Walk Of Fame 2009". As this is a limited edition collectible item, the underside of the base is hand-numbered (1/500) and shows the official copyright information for this statue. These statues are made from heavyweight polyresin, and are packaged in a custom box, complete with a description of the Walk Of Fame induction. The starman stands 7" tall, and the star is approximately 9" tall.

The Rush starman is the quintessential logo of the band. The symbolism of the logo is best described by Neil Peart, and Hugh Syme, who created this original artwork.



"All it means is the abstract man against the masses. The red star symbolizes any collectivist mentality."
- Neil Peart, Creem, 1982

"The man is the hero of the story. That he is nude is just a classic tradition ... the pureness of his person and creativity without the trappings of other elements such as clothing. The red star is the evil red star of the Federation, which was one of Neil's symbols. We basically based that cover around the red star and that hero."
- Hugh Syme, Creem, 1983




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Friday, July 24, 2009

Stephen R. Donaldson - The Man Who Killed His Brother

The Man Who Killed His Brother

by Stephen R. Donaldson- 2003-10-02-

Mick "Brew" Axbrewder was once a great P.I.
That was before he accidentally shot and killed a cop-worse, a cop who
happened to be his own brother. Now he only works now and then, as muscle
for his old partner, Ginny Fistoulari. It's a living. And it provides an
occasional opportunity for him to dry out.But their latest case demands
more than muscle. Brew's dead brother's daughter has disappeared. His
brother's widow wants him and Ginny to in-vestigate. And both of them seem
to expect him to sober up. Because the darkness they're finding un-der the
surface of Sunbelt city Puerto del Sol goes beyond one missing teenager.
Axbrewder will need all his talents to confront that darkness. Most of
all, he'll need to confront his own worst enemy-him-self.Over two decades
ago, bestselling author Ste-phen R. Donaldson published three novels about
Mick Axbrewder and Ginny Fistoulari, as pa-perback originals under the
pseudonym "Reed Stephens." More recently, under his own name, Donaldson
published a new novel in the se-quence, The Man Who Fought Alone. Now, for
Donaldson's millions of readers worldwide, the first of the original books
The Man Who Killed His Brother appears under Donaldson's own name, in
revised and expanded form.


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