Serious Exploit in Internet Explorer (updated)

Quite a few people at work have been asking me about this Internet Explorer security flaw that was announced earlier this week. The vulnerability is effecting versions of IE 6-11 and can allow hackers to take over your computer remotely. It’s such a major flaw that some companies have even started blocking flash to help mitigate this hole until a patch can be released. Microsoft has announced that they will be providing a patch soon; however, users of XP will not be getting this patch since it is no longer supported.

Biggest prevention that you can do right now is to install another browser.

Chrome

Firefox

If you are still using Windows XP, you NEED to upgrade. Microsoft is NO longer providing patches (it’s been 12 years since XP launched).

While you’re at it, get yourself a good virus scanner. Microsoft Security Essentials is what I use on all my machines. It’s great, lightweight, and updates itself right along with Windows (make sure you uninstall any other antivirus before installing a new one).

Update: Microsoft will be providing a patch today (5/1) to fix this issue. Windows XP users will also be getting this patch it seems. Although I still recommend you to upgrade soon.

Saturday Project: New Water Heater Time

Come to find out, our water heater is from 1991. Closer we got to winter, the more we could tell it was on it’s way out. Took a trip to Home Depot, and bought ourselves a 50 gallon GE brand with a 9 year warranty for under $340. Figured I needed to replace the pipes coming out of the wall as well. The old ones were soldered directly into the lines that attach to the water heater. The new ones can now be attached with a 3/4″ hose kit. Much easier to swap out should one break.

Now the problem is that there was so much sediment at the bottom of the old heater, it couldn’t be drained. I dragged it outside and now i’ll need to buy a little pump to top drain it. At least I get a new pump out of the deal.

Our water is now so much hotter, i’m sure we’ll be saving money with more efficiency now. Not bad for under 400 bucks.

Showerhead 2.0

I still get people asking me for a guide on my dual headed shower nozzle.  Unfortunately when I was building it at the time, I didn’t think of documenting the process (I didn’t think people would be interested).

Seeing as though that is not the case, I decided to make SHOWERHEAD 2.0.

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What is 1080p?

In my last post regarding the Roku Player, I made some convoluted reference to 1080p versus 720p. What the heck am I talking about?

When we talk about a HDTV’s resolution, we are referring to the amount of pixels that are present on the display. A pixel is a single point on your LCD display. If you look closely at your monitor (assuming you have a flat monitor) you can see hundreds upon thousands of little squares that combine to make the picture. Each of those is a pixel.

When something refers to 1080p, they mean the amount of horizontal rows, in this case, 1080 rows of pixels (note: the P in 1080p does not mean pixel, it means progressive, but we’ll leave that to the home theater geeks, here’s a Wikipedia article if you’re brave). Subsequently, 720p means that there are 720 horizontal rows. The more pixels, the higher the resolution.

Now does this mean that you should spend the extra money for that 1080p display? Not necessarily. If you’re going to be buying yourself a large 50+ inch TV, or sitting really close, then the upgrade might be worth it for you. If you want to make the jump to HD and are trying to save some money, then 720p will still look great. If you want to see a comparison, all big box retailers have multiple displays for you to make that decision. CNET also has a great article comparing the two.

The Roku Player

As of late, Netflix has gotten so pervasive with it’s online streaming service. Even to the point where the CEO of Netflix recently announced at CES that major TV manufacturers such as Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba would be putting a Netflix button on their remotes. Regardless, its obvious to see why. With a streaming plan starting at $7.99 and new content being added constantly, the once dvd only company has broken free of its envelope confinements and has quickly risen to the top of streaming entertainment.

But how do you get that content on to that new HDTV?

There are plenty of ways to accomplish this. Xbox, PS3, and the Wii provide the functionality, even my Sony Vaio TV. However, if you don’t have these choices, an alternative would be: the Roku Player. This little device, which starts at $59.99  not only wirelessly streams Netflix over your current wifi connection, but also other services such as Amazon’s Video On Demand, Hulu Plus (for a monthly subscription fee), Pandora, plus much much more via their expanding Channel Store. A step up player includes a 79.99 model with provides 1080p streaming in addition to other features. My opinion is that 1080p at this point isn’t really necessary given that most online content comes in at 720p and you’ll be content with saving that extra 20 bucks (look for an article coming soon regarding 1080p versus the rest).

There you have it, my first mini recommendation for Top Hat Labs. At 59.99, the Roku is quite the deal for Internet content delivery. Thanks to these online services, my wife and I have managed to cut our cable subscription and are now able to enjoy content at our leisure. Head on over to Roku to check out product details and comparisons.

Dual Headed Shower Head

The shower head broke and since the pipe was built into the wall, I thought I would add some creativity to it. The heads are the cheap 5 dollar ones from the Depot, but
the water pressure is actually really good, and it feels so much better having the water come down from the top rather than at an angle. Eventually we’ll re-tile the walls and replace the pipes, but it’s great for now.

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