Category Archives: News

June Newsletter for IEEE Central Texas Section Posted


I finished putting together the June issue of the IEEE Central Texas Section newsletter, The Analog, earlier this week. It contains information of interest to engineers and those interested in technology in the Central Texas Area. Included are a list of the scheduled technical meetings to be held in the area. All of the IEEE technical meetings are open to the public.

Check out the June issue for yourself.


New recording method yields 360TB on small glass disk


I saw this article (“5D – 360 TERABYTES IN A DISK THE SIZE OF A COIN“) this morning and thought that the advance described was significant. Not only the storage capacity significant, but the predicted ‘shelf life’ of 13.8 billion years at room temperature certainly offers incredible archival storage ability. This advancement in data storage was made by scientists at the University of Southampton Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC).

The ORC developed what they call a 5D process that allows a femtosecond laser to read and write data. Data is written in three layers of nanostructure dots separated by only 5 micrometers. These nanostructures change the way light passes through the glass, modifying it’s polarization. The data can then be read by an optical sensor coupled with a polarizer.

Obviously this is not a device you are able to order today and connect up to your computer. This does speak to the growing need for backup of large data sets and to long term storage needs. ORC is currently seeking commercial partners to further develop this technology and bring products to market.

OS X App Backup Pro Available Free TODAY ONLY

I came across this offer a short time ago to get the Mac OS X App Backup Pro for free today. This is normally a $19.95 App that can be used to backup your system or make a clone of the boot drive.

We should all be making regular backups of our systems, but as we near upgrading to OS X El Capitan a backup is more important than ever.

I will post a more detailed review of the App in the future.

Will the Flike Let Us Zoom Along Like Imperial Storm Troopers on Their 74-Z Speeders?


I think we have all seen footage from Star Wars VI: The Return of
the Jedi, where the Imperial Storm Troopers are riding their 74-Z
bikes through the forests of the moon Endor.

Hungarian engineers have taken a step towards giving us that same
experience with their prototype ‘Flike‘ – a flying bike personal transportation craft. The engineers are from Bay-Zoltan which is one of the leading applied research institutions in Hungary.

The video of the first flight didn’t last long, but then neither did the Wright brother’s first flight. Certainly the Flike with it’s Y6 layout and all electric drive has possibilities. The current design’s lithium polymer batteries sustain only 20 minutes of flight, but the concept is interesting. The engineers hope to spin this project off into a for-profit startup in the near future.


  1. Like: A Nifty Flying Bike Giving ‘Wings’ To Future Of Personal Transportation

New Addition to the Apple TV Lineup


On Monday April 27, 2015 Apple added NBC Sports Live Extra to the lineup of channels on the Apple TV. Live sport events are streamed on this channel. Some programming is available without a subscription, but the live events will require a companion subscription on a cable network.

I am not much of a sports fan, so this addition is of little value to me, but I am glad to see that Apple continues to enhance the Apple TV product.

See Related articles:

OS X App Review – Tweak and Tuneup

I came across Tweak and Tuneup by Systweak Software earlier today the thought I would give it a try. It is currently available for free download from the Mac App Store and has high review scores.

It installed fine, but I immediately ran into problems with the software. The first thing that it does is attempt to identify the user’s home directory, which fails on my system. Unfortunately the software is not smart enough to understand my system configuration. When I installed an SSD as the boot drive, I configured the system to use the original 500GB drive for user space through a symbolic link. I am guessing that the App is unable to identify my home directory because of this.

If you are willing to give the App a try (it has a 4.5/5 user rating in the App store) now is a good time. As I have mentioned in other articles, freeing your boot drive of clutter is key to keeping your Mac in good working order.

See my other OS X articles

Security Patches for Safari

Apple released a security update to Safari on March 17 which applied to versions of Safari running not only on Yosemite, but Mavericks and Mountain Lion as well. Apple did not release any details on the vulnerabilities being patched, other than to say that:

  • Multiple memory corruption issues existed in WebKit. These issues were addressed through improved memory handling.
  • A user interface inconsistency existed in Safari that allowed an attacker to misrepresent the URL. This issue was addressed through improved user interface consistency checks.

The memory corruption issues allowed a malicious web site to cause an unexpected application termination or the execution of malicious code, while the user interface inconsistencies opened a door to possible phishing attacks.

As always, the best practice is to keep up-to-date with security related patches.

See my other Security and OS X related articles


iTunes Store Now has ‘Free’ Section

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.25.38 PMAbout a week ago Apple updated the iTunes Store with a selection of ‘Free’ items. The selections is not large. I checked a few minutes ago and found 10 songs listed as ‘Free’ and 23 TV episode titles. The TV episodes seem to be the first episode of the series for a season, just to give you a taste of the program. The remaining episodes are all at a fee.

Is this a big deal? I don’t think so, at least not as it stands today. However, it may be worth your time to check what is available each week to see if something has been added that you want

See my other Mac OS X and iOS articles

Do you have Broadband?

On Thursday January 29, 2015 the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set new standards for the
classification of “broadband”. To qualify as “broadband” a service
provider must provide download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. This was done because the FCC felt that the US was not keeping up with available speeds in much of the rest of the world.  By the FCC’s estimates, 17% or 55 million Americans do not have access to the newly defined “broadband” capability. Are you one of the few who has “broadband” per the new standard?

There are many sites that you can use to test your connection. One
of these is, this website will test your connection (NOTE: The site does require both Flash and JavaScript). If you have an iOS device, then you can install the FCC Speed Test App from the Apple iTunes store. The App is free and runs on iOS 7.0 or later and is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad.

I used the FCC app on my iPad connected to my home network over Wi-Fi and the results were 7.61Mbps down and 1.44 Mbps up. To verify that the Wi-Fi connection was not limiting my bandwidth, I duplicated the test from my Mac Mini which has a cat 5 hard wired connection to my ATT Uverse router. Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 3.53.37 PMI visited the SpeedTest URL mentioned above in the Google Chrome browser. That test gave nearly the same results: 7.61 Mbps down and 1.43 Mbps up.

Clearly my home internet connection is FAR from the new “broadband” standard. That hardly surprises me when the US shows up ranked number 26 on a list compiled by OOKLA of countries by network speed (the US is rated at 32.65Mbps, we are tied with Bulgaria). The speeds that I measured actually puts me with the same connectivity as Bangladesh, which is ranked number 112 on the list.

Mac OS X – Free Christmas Fonts

FontsI came across the announcement recently that 128bit Technologies ( has released Free Fonts – Christmas Collection 2.0. This is an update to a prior collection they provided. The collection is available through the Mac App Store.

I found the collection a little hard to find at first. I ended up searching for “christmas” and the “Free Fonts – Christmas Collection” was on the first line of results. I am not usually one
that makes use of a lot of graphic resources, but with the holidays approaching, I thought that these might come in useful. They install into the Applications folder (Finder >> Applications >> Free Fonts – Christmas Collection). Bring that up and then you have
a window that allows you to see the various fonts and then copy them to your system if you want them installed.

My other Mac OS X Articles