Digital Stream Is Up For Download

Digital Stream Cover Art

My “Digital Stream” music track is now up for everyone to download.  As always, it’s $0.99 a download.  You can get the download at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/vinhnguyen12.

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Xbox Music Service Will Attract People To Windows 8 Ecosystem Like Bees To Honey Kind Of Thing

Jeu microsoft windows

Jeu microsoft windows (Photo credit: Des Geeks et des lettres)

Even before Microsoft gets a chance to really know that if their strategy of making Windows ecosystem evermore coherent would amount to anything (i.e., making Windows 8 the operating system for all upcoming devices such as tablets, smartphones, computers, etc…), Microsoft decides to test the worthiness of Windows 8 ecosystem coherency from the get go (i.e., on the day which Windows 8 will be available for the mass to use) by announcing that the company is releasing a brand new Xbox music service.  This brand new Xbox music service will only work on Windows 8 ecosystem (i.e., any device that is compatible to Windows 8 platform) and on Xbox 360 console.

What is exciting about this brand new Microsoft’s Xbox music service is that it allows anyone who has a device that is compatible to Windows 8 to be able to play music for free.  Actually, it’s rather a complete music service as in this service will allow people to listen to music for free or paid in Spotify manner (i.e., streaming music without ad interruption when paying $10 per month fee and vice versa), buy music to own in iTunes manner, and stream radio in Pandora manner.  In a way, Xbox music service will definitely be one of the very first guinea pigs for Microsoft to test out the effectiveness of Windows 8 ecosystem coherency.  If Xbox music service is going to fail to attract any popularity and usage, Microsoft will definitely be able to gauge the effectiveness of the Windows 8 ecosystem coherency.

Personally, I think Microsoft Xbox music service will definitely shake things up among the very market participants (e.g., Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Pandora, etc…).  With Windows 8 to be installed (replaced) Windows 7 on many computers and to become the fabric of the upcoming Windows 8 compatible devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, etc…), this sort of readily, powerful mojo is really going to give a very big boost to Xbox music service.  In turn, Xbox music service will attract many people to hurry up and get Windows 8 operating system onto their computers.  Furthermore, people who are with Windows 7 computers will go about in a hurry to have their computers upgrade to Windows 8 operating system.  This is one heck of a smart move from Microsoft!  Now, the only thing Microsoft needs is a really good marketing department to promote the super-coolness of Xbox music service on Windows 8 ecosystem.

Apple TV And Similar Platforms Are Just Scratching The Surface, Because Watching Newest Movies At Home Might Be The Next Media Revolution!

Home theater projection screen displaying a hi...

Home theater projection screen displaying a high-definition television image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching iTune rental movies on iPad 2 isn’t exactly great, because movies should not be shrunk to such a proportion (i.e., 9.7 inch).  With Apple TV and Airplay though, I’m able to enjoy movies on humongous TV screen.  Lovely!  Streaming HD quality too!  Also, I don’t have to miss any part of a movie during viewing time as I can just pause the movie, go do whatever, and come back to finish up the movie whenever.  It gets better when I crank up my sound system (e.g., amplifier, speakers, mixer, equalizer, dual engine processor, etc…).

With my scenario above, I can totally understand why nowadays it’s less attractive to go to the theaters.  Of course, watching movies in theaters can have advantages such as you get to watch the newest releases of movies.  Nonetheless, the downsides of watching movies in the theaters are many too.  The examples of the downsides for watching movies in theaters are strangers can be loud and rude, cell phones can go off whenever, crying children, and dangers such as recent theater shooting (i.e., 2012 Aurora Shooting).  Weighing the downsides with the upsides for watching movies in the theaters, it’s obvious that conveniency matters most.  This is why I think people will go to theaters less as they can just sit at home, in their most comfortable environment, and enjoy their movies from their home theater systems.  It’s less hassle and safer this way!  Really!

Internet has changed so many things in people lives, and watching movies is definitely one of the things that the Internet has been meddled with.  It’s not yet an evolution, but the revolution of watching movies is clearly shown in the ways that people have watched their movies, nowadays.  People prefer to stream movies from the Internet more and more.  So, the revolution would be that people rather rebel against the traditional media such as TV reruns.  Furthermore, people also rebel against watching movies in theaters.  They only go to the theaters whenever their most anticipated movies are showing.

Nonetheless, the traditional media has one advantage over the Internet medium is that going live on the air.  Going live on the air is still something that people love most.  Nonetheless, if the new media (i.e., the one that utilizes the Internet for streaming media) begins to adopt going live on the air, the traditional media will have no advantage left.

Obviously, I don’t know what will have to come into an earthly existence to actually make me think that there is an evolution in watching movies, because watching movies is a definitive process.  Definitive process?  We can say we used to watch movies in black and white in the era of no color picture, and the revolution was that we had color picture.  We can also say we used to watch movies in theaters, and the revolution is that nowadays we prefer to watch movies from our home theater systems (i.e., home theater systems that utilize Internet for streaming movies).  So, to have an evolution in watching movies is like begging for the process of watching movies to change into an unrecognizable form of watching movies.  Such a change might have us not watching movies anymore.  Instead of watching movies, we might have to experience the movies in ways that might explode our mind.  One example would be that we get to be in the movies, and so our unique actions within the movies might change the endings of the movies.  Or we can just be the observers of the movies, and yet we get to enjoy the movies as if we enjoy the many realities.  Nonetheless, such possibilities are still in the realm of science fiction for now.

Let us leave science fiction for another day and stick to the talk of a revolution for watching movies, shall we?  So, it’s clear that watching traditional media is still have one advantage over the new media (i.e., media utilizes Internet for streaming), and the advantage is going live on the air.  Well, I lie, because the traditional media has not one, but two advantages over the new media.  The second advantage would be the newest movies that get to air in the theaters.  Imagine, what if the new media begins to stream the newest movies to homes.  This would be another revolution for watching movies, right?  Internet definitely has the potential to continue to throw volleys of revolutions, one after another, at the traditional media.  Picture this, if we can begin to stream the newest movies at home, we don’t really have to go to the theaters and feel nervous about all sorts of things (e.g., theater etiquettes, theater shooting, etc…).

Before Steve Jobs died, there was a rumor that Steve Jobs had planned to revolutionize how people are going to watch their TVs.  If this is true, I wonder that he had thought about teaming up with various media partners to bring newest movies to homes.  Nonetheless, even if Steve Jobs hadn’t thought of this, I think someone else would eventually will be able to iron out deals that will bring the newest movies to homes.  How come?  Well, if they care about how people want to watch their movies, then they should think about making people feel happier and more satisfied in watching movies.  What better way than having people feel evermore so excited about turning on their TVs than watching the newest movies from home?  And safer too?

Airplay Made Apple TV

Apple TV

Apple TV

In case you don’t know, the latest Apple TV’s Airplay feature doesn’t work with some Apple devices.  Correct me if I’m completely wrong, I think MacBook Pro and Air laptops that debuted before 2011 cannot use Airplay.  Can’t talk about Mac Pro, because I don’t have one.  Furthermore, Airplay isn’t compatible with iPad 1 and iPhone versions that came out before iPhone 4.  Specifically, I had said Airplay would not be compatible with MacBook Pro and Air that debuted before 2011, but I’ve found out that Airplay can be used with iTunes regardless how Airplay isn’t compatible with Mac laptops that came out before 2011.  There is a catch though, Airplay can only work with iTunes on older Mac laptops if you’re running the latest Mac OS X Mountain Lion operating system.

I had to scratch my head when I played around with Apple TV, because I couldn’t fathom Apple’s refusal in making Airplay to work with older MacBook whatever (i.e., the ones that came out before 2011).  With older MacBook whatever, it would be that you lied if you told me about how you could find the Airplay icon on the menu bar.  Anyhow, my curiosity caught fire when I had iTunes on mid 2010 MacBook Pro used Airplay to stream videos onto Apple TV.  So, I was rather frustrated to see that Apple allowed iTunes on older hardware to use Airplay as long the older hardware could run the latest Mac OS X Mountain Lion operating system and yet refused to let anything else to work with Airplay.

Luckily, I got iPad 2, and it worked just fine with Airplay.  So, if you have iPad 1, you would be out of luck!  As I explored Apple TV a little more, I found out that iPhone 4 would work with Airplay just fine too.  I concluded that Airplay made Apple TV.  Sure, Apple TV did have other features such as Home Sharing, but these other features could be found on any Mac.  Home Sharing required iTunes to stream from Mac to Apple TV, and so Apple users would be limited to iTunes content only.  Airplay changed the game as users could just either mirroring or stream 1080p resolution videos from Apple devices to Apple TV, consequently pretty pictures would fly on whatever big screen TV.

To tell the truth, if your big screen TV can be just as smart as a computer, you probably have no need for Apple TV unless you’ve really wanted to stream some videos from iPad 2 or so.  For me personally, Apple TV has saved my dumb TV as it got no brainiac features as other smart big screen TVs.  Nonetheless, I don’t care how smart my TV can get if I can’t use Airplay, therefore I have to say Airplay is the only feature I like most on Apple TV.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that you can definitely play video games on a dumb big screen TV through Apple TV’s Airplay.  Cool?

Google Turns Up The Heat Against Competitors With Google Play, Allowing Googlers To Enjoy All Of Their Media In One Place Online

I don’t know what to make of Google Play just yet in practical sense, but it’s available now!  Nonetheless I dabble on…  It seems to me Google Play is how Google turns up the heat in competing against Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iTunes.  Google Play seems to boast of allowing Googlers to access all of their media in one place, but the beautiful thing about Google Play is that Googlers can access all of their media in one place online.  So, as long a Googler has an Internet connection and necessary equipment (e.g., laptop, iPad, iPhone), he or she can basically browse their media with Google Play.

Of course, users who actually have been buying and consuming Google’s media will definitely experience eureka with Google Play, but users who are so far only consuming media from Amazon or Apple might hesitate to try out Google Play — they might not want to invest their money in Google Play when their vast archives of media are already stored with Apple or Amazon.  Nonetheless, I think Google Play looks awesome and might be an awesome all in one online media destination for Googlers, because Googlers get to check out their books, movies, music, and so on all within Google Play.

I’m pretty sure that Googlers have to sign into their accounts before they can fully enjoy Google Play, because Google Play links all of their Google’s media accounts together.  How do I know this?  I can actually browse my Google Music within Google Play.  Of course, once you have a Google account, I think Google Play is pretty much made itself available to you.

Update:  Oh, one last thing I forgot to mention in this post is that Google Play is also making Android apps available to Googlers!

Pragmatic Security Tips To Protect Routers And Networks In 2012 And Beyond

Some rights reserved by gcg2009 (Creative Commons License - Attribution 2.0 Generic) from Flickr.com

Tips to how to secure your router and network in 2012 and beyond.  These tips are pragmatic, and so it’s most likely that you may be able to apply these tips onto most routers and network setups.  Unfortunately, even though these tips are pragmatic in details, sometimes the tips here won’t be any useful for you if you have older routers or your network setups are too unique and special.  Let us get on with the tips.

In no particular order, the tips to secure your routers and networks are:

  • Change router’s default password for the administrator username/login.  Make sure the new password is a lot harder than the default password.
  • Change router’s default passphrase for your wireless network.  Make sure the passphrase is strong enough.  It’s best to throw in at least 50 plus characters string.  Also, don’t forget to include capitalization letters, numbers, and special characters (i.e. signs) in your 50 plus characters string passphrase.
  • Make sure to disable UPnP feature within your router.  I’ve heard hackers can exploit this feature.  To be safe than sorry, I guess you should turn this feature off if you don’t have the need for it.
  • Make sure your router’s firewall is turning on and filtering inbound and outbound traffics.
  • Make sure your router has MAC address filtering turns on and allowing only Mac addresses of machines on the list to access network.  Of course, you have to know hackers can still spoof MAC addresses easily, therefore this is not 100% hacker proof.
  • Disable DHCP feature or limit the DHCP IP address range to amount to how many physical machines you have and want to connect to your network using DHCP protocol (DHCP IP addresses).  This way, if an undesirable person wants to use your network, he or she might not be able to get a lease of DHCP IP address from DHCP server which runs on your router, therefore he or she cannot use DHCP IP address to access your network.  Keep in mind that he or she can just assign himself or herself a local static IP address and connect to your network anyway.  Nonetheless, this method might prevent script kiddies from acquiring DHCP IP address from using hacker tools.  Still, there is no guaranteed DHCP might prevent hackers from just running another script which automatically demands a static local IP address.  If you turn off DHCP, you might prevent hackers to exploit DHCP weakness/exploits, and so you can disregard DHCP exploits for your router.  Turning off DHCP also encourages you to enter a local static IP address for each computer’s network configuration, therefore you might prevent a specific computer from automatically connect to your router; in a way this method helps preventing a specific computer of yours from automatically connecting to a fake access point, because hackers can use a special router which can emit an even more powerful wireless signal, overwhelming your wireless router’s signal and encouraging a computer to connect to the wrong/rouge access point which hackers have controlled of (i.e., man in the middle attacks).
  • Disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup feature, because this feature is weak against hackers’ brute force attack which exploits a weak secure PIN authentication process (i.e., this feature reveals too much information on PIN authentication algorithm while authenticating a device).  Nonetheless, this feature might be patched by the routers’ makers in the near future, but to be safe than sorry it’s best to disable it until you really have the need to use it and it has been patched.
  • Enable WLAN Partition if you are paranoid about your network security.  This feature prevents wireless devices to communicate with each other.  Why is this feature useful in securing your network?  Imagine if a hacker can insert himself in your network with a wireless device, he or she might not be able to hack another wireless device of yours if the network disallows the communication between wireless devices.  Unfortunately, this feature might prevent you from sharing files and data between your wireless devices.  One example is iTunes home sharing might not work on wireless mac laptops.  Therefore, if you need to have your wireless devices to talk to each other, then you should not enable this feature.  Otherwise, it’s an awesome feature for enhancing your network security.  Let not forget, if an elite hacker has hacked into your network, he or she might also have control of your router, therefore this feature in the end might be useless if a hacker can change the router’s settings at will.
  • Turning on several log features within your router.  Logs will help you trace back to strange network traffics, requests and errors.  Perhaps, logs can even tell you that you’re getting hacked.  Of course, elite hackers might have way to not trigger your router to log their hacking activities.  Therefore, this feature is just one more layer/tool for you to protect yourself against hackers.  This feature might slow down your router though, because it’s logging network traffics.  So, if your router isn’t equipped to log heavy network traffics, then you should turn this feature off.  It’s all depend on a network situation and the capability of your router really.
  • Enable Access Control.  This feature is useful only if your router is able to allow you to add two types of rules that matter most, and these two types of rules should be made available at the same time, so one rule is enhancing the other rule in security measures.  First rule should be disallowing all other machines to connect to your network.  Second rule should be allowing only the machines with the IP addresses listed in Access Control’s IP table to connect to your router/network.  Of course, you should note that this feature will enable a default blocking feature which might prevent your machines to access dangerous websites and so on, therefore some websites you might want to access will not be accessible.  Also, your router may allow you to add additional websites to be blocked, consequently enhancing the security measure for Access Control feature.  Some routers even go as far as allowing Access Control feature to block certain network ports, but I don’t think this feature is necessary.  After all, your router’s firewall should be blocking all incoming requests and ports.
  • If your router isn’t connecting to your ISP through DHCP protocol, then you should add a trusted but more secure DNS IP addresses of third-party/trusted/secure DNS providers.  One good example would be DNS IP addresses of Google Public DNS service.  Another good example would be DNS IP addresses of OpenDNS.
  • Update your router’s firmware to the latest firmware.  This way you can prevent hackers from using known firmware exploitations that specifically target your router’s firmware.
  • Reboot your router sometimes or add a schedule reboot for your router if your router has this capability.  This way you can actually clear up the router cache and might prevent your router from storing what hackers have uploaded to your router.  I don’t think that it’s yet possible for hackers to be able to permanently make change to your router in regarding to what the router could store and so on.  Therefore, when you reboot your router, your router clears up the cache in its memory and so everything within your router should work as how it was.  Reboot a router can be done in two way.  One is to do a soft reboot which requires you to log into your router’s administration panel and reboot it this way.  The other way is just to pull the electrical adapter which powers your router off the electrical outlet, forcing the router to reboot and reconnect to your ISP.
  • You might also want to disable the SSID broadcast.  When you disable this feature, your machines might not be able to connect to your router using DHCP protocol.  Nonetheless, as long you know how to connect to your router manually using static local IP addresses, then you should be fine.  Of course, you have to remember your router’s SSID name and enter the router SSID onto your machines correctly before your machines can talk to your router.