Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen: Snowden, USB redemption and Soap Fighter 2

Edward Snowden, shown on the cover of the latest issue of Wired magazine. Photo / AP
Edward Snowden, shown on the cover of the latest issue of Wired magazine. Photo / AP

USB redemption is near

Imagine a world where you can just plug in your USB cable and it'll fit properly any time. Never having to fumble with the orientation during the inappropriately termed "blind mating situations". Oh yeah.

Intel appears to sorted out this first-world problem with the new USB 3.1 standard and the Type C connectors that are small and bi-di when plugging them in.
Fantastic stuff, you'll no doubt agree.

Added bonus: USB looks set to be as fast 10 gigabits per second soon and support up to 100 Watt of power. This is much quicker than the current USB 2.0 and 3.0 specifications, with power to spare to keep your tea or coffee mug plenty warm.

Not as quick as Thunderbolt, but then again, USB 3.1 devices aren't likely to be as expensive and ten gigs a second goes a long way.

The spies that blundered

Wired has a long interview with Edward Snowden that's not only beautifully laid out but also a must-read.

One thing that stand out in all of Snowden's leaks is that the state surveillance machine is very much a blunt instrument - a large, secretive bureaucracy that often blunders.

For instance, I learnt what actually happened in Syria in November 2012 when the country disappeared off the Internet, an event that I covered.

"One day an intelligence officer told him that TAO-a division of NSA hackers-had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead-rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet-although the public didn't know that the US government was responsible. "

TAO stands for Tailored Access Operations, which is a unit of the National Security Agency that specialises in cyber warfare. Or, hacking if you like. They break into computers everywhere, and clearly screw up badly every now and then.

There's much more in James Bamford's story, but this quote made me think of recently proposed law amendments in New Zealand providing the government with mandated access to our data, with Internet providers being forced to assist in the process:

"They still have negligent auditing, they still have things going for a walk, and they have no idea where they're coming from and they have no idea where they're going. And if that's the case, how can we as the public trust the NSA with all of our information, with all of our private records, the permanent record of our lives?"

Gear: Logitech G700s mouse

Who even looks at mice in these days of touch screens? This productivity desperate saddo, that's who.
Since I started to use Apple Macs again, I've ended up mousing around a great deal more as there's quite a bit of variation in what menu and keyboard shortcut does what, depending on the program running. Sometimes it's just faster to point and click, basically.
I quite like the Apple's Magic Mouse that came with the iMac, with it's multi-touch features and sleek design. But, it's less than ideal for precision work and a bit on the small side, for me at least.
Some gaming mice with their high precision, adjustable sensors are actually quite good for general use as well. I didn't much like the Razer Imperator mouse with its very sensitive buttons, but the Logitech wireless G700s rodent clicked with me.

Despite being Windows-centric in terms of software, I've been using it quite happily with Apple OS X as a day-to-day work mouse, being responsive and generally unobtrusive.
It's comfortably big, well weighted and well-built with buttons that have a good feel to them, ditto the scrolling wheel, which can be set to have stepped action or be completely smooth.

The biggest drawback to the G700s is the relatively short battery life - I get around two days of use, but this could be due to the Eneloop rechargeable battery in it so I might switch it out.

Either way, charging the G700 is quick through the supplied USB cable which is long and enables you to use the mouse while it gets an energy hit. Overall, the G700s is good value for $95 to $110 retail including GST, and has so far held up to heavy use.

It's Friday, Coro St omnibus on the telly and...
Soap Fighter 2 by Jim'll Paint it on the small screen!

Jim apparently uses Microsoft's MS Paint for his art, which makes it even more amazing.
Via @jacobunny.

- NZ Herald

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Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen is a technology journalist and writer living in Auckland. Apart from contributing to the New Zealand Herald over the years, he has written for the Guardian, Wired, PC World, Computerworld and ITnews Australia, covering networking, hardware, software, enterprise IT as well as the business and social aspects of computing. A firm believer in the principle that trying stuff out makes you understand things better, he spends way too much time wondering why things just don’t work.

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