Monthly archives: July 2006

Hawking rewrites history backwards

Hawking and Hertog call their theory ‘top-down’ cosmology, because instead of looking for some fundamental set of initial physical laws under which our Universe unfolded, it starts ‘at the top’, with what we see today, and works backwards to see what the initial set of possibilities might have been. In effect the present ‘selects’ the past.

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Free Linux Install Disks

TheLinuxStore.ca has started a new project. A project that will give away free Linux disks of your favorite distribution (SUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Gentoo, Debian, Knoppix). Have a look, give feedback, donate to the cause, and request a disk.

eBay Bans Google Checkout

According to a recent article from auctionBytes,

eBay is banning sellers from requesting payment through Google Checkout. The online auction giant updated its Safe Payments policy this week to add Google’s new payment service, Google Checkout to its list of online payment methods not permitted on eBay.

From eBay’s standpoint, eBay is probably fulfilling a duty to maximize their shareholder’s wealth. Blocking Google seems to be a logical step to ensure marketplace dominance. So, why shouldn’t eBay be allowed to block Google?

The answer is simple: eBay’s unchecked control hurts consumers. Instead of making the auction experience better for the online community, eBay is only looking out for eBay. Instead of embracing choice and welcoming competition, eBay seeks absolute power. Here’s a reality check, eBay: You can’t quash Google. More importantly, depriving consumers of meaningful choice only plants seeds of backlash.

But, eBay probably enjoys their absolute control over the auction experience. Right now, eBay capriciously suspends users’ auction accounts and PayPal accounts without any explanation. With a marketplace competitor, eBay would actually need to provide real customer service and develop equitable business policies. But, why compete when you can just ban anyone in your path?

Smaller online payment processors, such as StormPay, have been unable to raise sufficient capital to challenge eBay’s monopolistic tactics. Google, who’s motto has always been Do No Evil, will hopefully step up to the plate and put eBay in its place. If such a day does arrive, it will truly be a victory for the consumer.

Cracking Windows Account Passwords

Thought your Windows password was safe? Well, think again. As processors are getting faster and more powerful, password cracking is becoming much easier. Ophcrack is a free, open source hash cracker (similar to brute force cracking but uses precomputed tables). Ophcrack uses RainbowTables, an implementation of Philippe Oechslin‘s faster time-memory trade-off technique, to compute hash tables and crack your password in about 30 minutes (depending on your processor).