Stories by Mark Gibbs

Bluedriver: Vehicle data capture for geeks

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Automatic, a dongle that plugs into your car's OBD-II connector and sends data about your car's performance and your driving via Bluetooth LE to an app on your iOS or Android smartphone.

Sight: Web content indexing the hard, user-unfriendly way

I just got off the phone with startup called Landscape Mobile, that publishes an app called Sight, and which claims:

RoboBees to Save US Agriculture

What man breaks, man can fix ... at least, that's what we like to think. Consider, for example, bees. Bees of all species are dying off in the US and Europe and over the last few years we've seen the commercial beekeeping industry decimated by a syndrome called colony collapse disorder (CCD).

Hacking PingPlotter, Part 2

In the previous column on hacking PingPlotter I discussed how you can use the tool's Web interface and the curl utility to add targets to be tracked, for example, to add a single host you would enter the following on the command line:

Nova: Bluetooth flash for iPhone

There are many times when your iPhone camera flash just isn't up for the job. Either you need light from a different angle (ever notice how phone-based flashes tend to wash out the subject?) or you need a warmer or cooler flash than your iPhone provides. You, my friend, might be interested in the Nova, a Bluetooth LE flash.

Historical computing: The launch of the IBM System/360

In 1964 IBM announced one of the most famous mainframes ever, the IBM System/360 which, on the low end versions ran at 0.0018 to 0.034 MIPS. For the time, that was serious performance ... in comparison, the iMac I'm writing this on runs at 92,100 MIPS.

And there's something else wrong with Comcast's Xfinity customer-based Wi-Fi hotspot plan ...

I have, in previous Gearhead articles (first in Comcast's latest bad idea turns your Wi-Fi into everybody's Wi-Fi and then in Revisiting Comcast's Xfinity public hotspot strategy), discussed Comcast's strategy for implementing opt-out Wi-Fi hotspots on their customers' Xfinity gateways. In the latter post I questioned the security of the service and noted that access to the Comcast service isn't as tightly controlled as the company might think.

Why are phishers targeting gamers? 'Cause that's where the money is ...

There's a story that when the notorious bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he replied "Because that's where the money is" (see Sutton's Law). As a strategy for maximizing the potential "take home" Sutton was, if you'll forgive the pun, right on the money even if the risk was higher than, say, knocking over a supermarket.

Why are phishers targeting gamers? ‘Cause that's where the money is ...

There's a story that when the notorious bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he replied "Because that's where the money is"(see Sutton's Law). As a strategy for maximizing the potential "take home" Sutton was, if you'll forgive the pun, right on the money even if the risk was higher than, say, knocking over a supermarket.

Revisiting Comcast's Xfinity public hotspot strategy

Last week I wrote about Comcast's plan to build the nation's biggest Wi-Fi service by co-opting their customers' Xfinity gateways and, following a detailed conversation with a representative from Comcast's Corporate Communications group, I have some corrections to make and quite a few additional concerns to add.

Goodbye stupid software patents?

If you haven't been following this story it may (hopefully) turn out to be a milestone in the history of software patents: The story concerns a US financial institution, CLS Bank, and an Australian software company that holds a patent on software used to mediate escrow for financial transactions. CLS argued that the process of escrow is centuries old and therefore not patentable while Alice argued that computerizing the process met the criteria for patentability.

How to explain to Big Data newbies why correlation doesn't equal causation

With the explosion of interest in Big Data everyone in every department is looking for actionable intelligence. That's great but there's a downside: Trying to explain to, say, your VP of sales that the sales of barbecue sauce might appear to be connected to the selling price of beef but you can't say that's true for certain and that it would be inadvisable to act on that conclusion without deeper analysis.

Snappgrip: A smartphone SLR-style grip that could be good, but isn't

Sometimes I get a review product that has problems and, if it's a complicated piece of engineering, I work with the vendor to try to figure out what's the cause in case there's something I've missed about how the product should be set up and configured.

CopyPaste Pro: A power clipboard for the power OS X user

If you're on a Mac and you're happy with the clipboard, read no further. If, on the other hand, you long for a clipboard that's more sophisticated you might want to check out CopyPaste Pro from Plum Amazing LLC. CopyPaste Pro is, as the company, says like Time Machine for your clipboard. But it's also so much more.

In Pictures: 15 hot Kickstarter tech campaigns

Here is a collection of some of the most intriguing and potentially valuable Kickstarter tech projects people are trying to launch.