Brilliant Marketing: The MacBook Air Floats

I saw this video from Gizmodo this morning. It shows the MacBook Air suspended by a single balloon at a Mac store. Is it for real? Is the MacBook Air really that light? After a few seconds, I realized there is no way a single balloon that small can suspend a 2 lb MacBook Air in the air . It would take a few more balloons than that. That is some hot air.

Actually, it will take more than hot air to suspend a MacBook Air. Helium doesn’t cut it. Perhaps hydrogen. It’s just that the balloon is just too small to buck gravity with a 2lb payload. Notice the balloon doesn’t move at all. As it turns out, the balloon is actually suspended by a string.

Here are some of the funny and interesting comments from the article:

I walked by the apple store yesterday. The balloon was suspended by wires.

Kind of ruins the illusion when you’re leaving work late one night, and you see a bunch of Apple employees hanging up the baloon by fish wire.

Although this is obviously held up by some wires, it would be interesting to see how many balloons it takes to get it off the ground.

And of course, some mathematician tries to explain it all.

MacBook Air: 1060 grams
Approximate volume: 0.68*29.95*19.2=391 cm^3
Average Balloon: 11410 cm^3
Average Balloon: 16.3 grams

Total volume: 11801 cm^3
Total mass: 1076 grams

Density of MBA: 0.09117 g/cm^3 (STP)
Density of Air: 0.00128 g/cm^3 (STP)

The MacBook Air and balloon are 70 times denser than air, and therefore, will not float.

Please check my math.

Yea, somebody check his math.

I say this is brilliant marketing from Apple. Now, I really believe the MacBook Air is really that light. I own one.

Netflix Takes Half Of My Bandwidth

I was watching videos on Youtube last night, and I noticed that my connection was slow. Really slow. My download speed just couldn’t keep up with the Youtube videos at 360p. We are not even talking HD quality here. I was scratching my head as to why my connection was slow. As it turned out, Netflix was taking half of my bandwidth.

I don’t have the fastest connection to begin with. I have an AT&T’s DSL Elite Pro touted at 6 mb per second. When I perform DSL speed tests from SpeakEasy, my top speed is almost always 5 mbps. I’ve never seen it go past 5. Unfortunately, my neighborhood does not support U-verse. So, I’m stuck with DSL. Cable is not an option for me, but that’s another story.

So, when I had some trouble today, I noticed that my bandwidth dropped to 2.5 mbps. I realized someone watching Netflix on the XBox 360 downstairs. This the sole reason why the Youtube videos would crawl at certain times of the day. Based on what I read online, it basically confirms this:

the average encoding rate for video streamed to the Xbox 360 is about 2000Kbps. That means one person watching a two hour movie would transfer roughly 1.8GB of data. For high definition movies, the average encoding bitrate is around 3200Kbps and one user would transfer about 3GB of data.

This makes a whole lot of sense. They are saying that Netflix will take up about 2 mbps. In my case, Netflix was using 2.5 mbps of my bandwidth to stream movies. That leaves me with the other 2.5 mbps for browsing, email, etc. It doesn’t give me a lot of room to run Netflix and Youtube at the same time.

Install LibreOffice on Ubuntu 10.10 or earlier

The Document Foundation released the first ever stable version of LibreOffice, version 3.3, last Tuesday, January 25, 2011. As you already know, future versions of Ubuntu will use LibreOffice starting with Ubuntu 11.04 scheduled to be released later this spring.

Well, the good news is, you don’t have to wait. You can now install LibreOffice 3.3 on your Ubuntu desktop whether you are using the latest Ubuntu 10.10, or an earlier version. You can start the process by downloading the first stable release of LibreOffice. You need to download the correct deb package. If you are a Redhat or Fedora user, you need to download the rpm package.

1. Download

There are two versions of the deb package: 32 bit and 64 bit. How do you know if you are running 32 bit or 64 bit version of Linux? Type “uname -m” in your Terminal. If it says “x86_64” you are running 64 bit. Otherwise, you are running 32 bit, regardless if you have a 32 bit or a 64 bit CPU.

2. Unpack. Right-click the file and Extract Here.

Once you have the file downloaded the version you need, you need to unpack the file. You can right click the file and choose “Extract Here.” This will unpack the file. It will create a new directory which will be named with something that starts out with “LibO_3.3.0rc4_ …..” I’m not going to type out the entire directory name since its too long.

3. CD to the DEBS directory and install these packages.

From the Terminal, type:

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

4. CD to the desktop-integration directory and install these packages.

From the terminal, type:

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

5. That’s it. You’re done. Access LibreOffice from the Applications > Office menu.

By the way, LibreOffice is also available for Windows and Mac users.

Macbook Transformer

A Macbook turns into a spaceship, takes off and the flies out of the window. This video has been around for a couple of years. Unfortunately, the MacBook ran out of battery, a crash landed just two blocks away. Apple would not take it back, because the mod voided the warranty. Yea, right.

It’s obviously not real, but it’s very realistic.

Make Your Copyright Notice Dynamic

Most website and blog owners place some kind of copyright information on their websites and in their blogs. Copyright notices mean that the copyright holder, reserves all the rights provided by copyright law, such as distribution, performance, and creation of derivative works.

Copyrights are usually found in the footer of most designs, themes or templates. My copyright information is found in the footer. It says, “Copyright © 2003-2011. All rights reserved.” The copyright notice will need to be updated yearly to reflect the current year.

Some owners place a range of years, such as 2000-2010, just like mine, to reflect that the website or blog has been around for a number of years. Often times, the owner forgets to update the copyright information. It’s a simple text change, but there are ways to make it dynamic.

By making your copyright notice dynamic means you never have to edit the copyright notice ever again. At every New Year’s eve, while you are out celebrating, your website magically updates the copyright notice to the latest year. How? It uses a PHP function called date().

To get the current year, use the PHP date function:

<? echo date(“Y”); ?>

If you want a range of years, you can use:

2001-<? echo date(“Y”); ?>

There you have it, a dynamic copyright notice! And one more thing, to display the copyright symbol properly, use the HTML special symbol:

&copy; or &#169; which are the same as the symbol ©

Block Spam Using Math

In a normal day, I usually get over 1000 spam comments on my blog. Although I don’t have to delete the spam, it still takes up resource on the database. By the way, Akismet deletes all spam comments after two weeks. This gives the blog owner time to recover if a valid comment was mistakenly classified as spam.

If you really want to cut down on spam comments, you can implement Captcha. But, lots of people hate Captcha including myself, especially the ones that are unreadable. What is more frustrating than trying to guess a mangled captcha only to be thwarted again and again because it’s unreadable. Enter a solution using simple math.

So, I decided to install a WordPress plugin called Block-Spam-By-Math. The plugin adds a custom field to the comments form by posting a simple math problem. Anyone who passed at least first grade should be able to answer the addition problem. After all, 8 + 2 = is not that difficult to solve.

Automated bots that send spam will have problems submitting past the math problem. Unless, the bots become sophisticated enough to read text and solve the math problems themselves. It sounds like a whole lot of trouble, just to add that feature to send spam.

At least temporarily, spam has been cut down to almost zero. Now, I just have to deal with humans who send them. And that’s infrequent compared to bots.

Backup MySQL via Bash Script

If you run your own LAMP server, you might want to check out this Bash script which perform backups of the MySQL database. The neat little script can be set to run independently or as part of a cron job. All you have to do is provide the backup directory, username, password, hostname and port number.

The backup script is quite simple. It checks if the backup directory exists and creates one if it’s missing. It will then list all databases and performs a MySQL dump of each database ignoring the mysql, information_schema, and test databases. The file is formatted in gzip and then stored in the backup directory.

The backup script can be set to run every day or once a week using cron. The backup will depend on your backup requirements. I recommend testing the backup and restore process to see if it works.

Removing Antivirus Live Virus

I was working with a client on Friday to remove a nasty malware called Antivirus Live. This rogue and fake antivirus program disables the browser from accessing the internet. It prevent users from launching or installing applications. The virus hijacks the computer with popups telling the user the computer is infected with many viruses, although they are not really there. The fake antivirus program recommends that a user buy their antivirus program to remove the viruses.

A year ago, I posted an article documenting how to remove the Antivirus Pro virus. It’s similar to Antivirus Live, in that it fakes the user there are viruses on the computer and recommend users to buy their own solution. Battling Antivirus Live is a bit more involved because the tools and processes I use before were ineffective with Antivirus Live. I ran Malwarebytes but it did not detect any malware or viruses.

So, I searched the internet for Antivirus Live and came across this website. It recommends that you use SuperAntiSpyware, MalwareBytes and Microsoft Security Essentials to remove Antivirus Live virus. The SuperAntiSpyware program turned out to be the super star. It was able to remove Antivirus Live as well as a few more. In the end, it found 67 items, in which 2 were viruses, and the rest were tracking cookies. I was disappointed with MalwareBytes. I’m not convinced with Microsoft Security Essentials either, but I left it on the computer.

If you ever face the Antivirus Live virus, just follow the instructions here.

One thing I forgot to mention. I had to boot into Windows Safe Mode (Press F8 on boot up) to perform all the drive scans. Otherwise, it would be impossible to launch any program in normal Windows mode since the computer is hijacked.

Vintage Wine

It’s 2011. It’s time for a change. What are the hot colors of 2011? Vintage Wine. The deep burgundy color is back after two decades. It’s popular in fashion runways, store racks and on sidewalks. Makeup, accessories and magazine typesettings have all used the deep burgundy color.

So, I decided to use it for my blog as well. Here are the main colors on this site. The main background color is #1CC007. The active links are #4C0007. The hover links are #12244A. The text is #222222. The background color for the page is white or #FFFFFF.

There you have it, the new colors of my blog.

Motorola Xoom

The Motorola Xoom was voted at CES 2011 as Best Of Show. Motorola Xoom is a tablet based on Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. It comes with a dual core processor, 4G compatible hardware, a HDMI output , front and back facing cameras, and a 10 inch screen. It also comes with camcorder software and Adobe Flash Player. Expect the Motorola Xoom to be standard for Android tablets going forward. Others hardware manufacturers will follow using Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb. The Xoom is set to compete with Apple’s iPad. The release date is set for April 2011.

The front-facing camera is 2 mega pixel, while the back-facing camera is 5 mega pixel. It also supports 1080p HD. Motorola plans to release 3G version first. Users will be able to upgrade to 4G later in the year. I assume there will be a Wi-Fi model only, similar to Apple’s iPad. Motorola plans to make 1 million units initially. Is the Xoom hotter than the iPad? We will see in the spring. Finally, here’s the official video of the Motorola Xoom. Let me know what you think.