There’s a lot of information about the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) on the Internet, but if you’re looking for a good overview, check out eNable’s Quick Guide to PCI Compliance video.  Their fifteen minute presentation is both technically correct and presented in language that anyone can understand – a refreshing change from many security presentations.

If you accept credit cards, you’re required to comply with the PCI DSS standard. There are ways to simplify PCI compliance requirements, especially for small businesses, but it all starts with understanding what those requirements are.  If you business accepts credit cards, you owe it to yourself to watch this video.

I’m tired of hearing American commentators rail against “Canadian style health care” as if our system is more flawed than theirs.

The U.S. Health care system works if you’re a healthy 30-something with a good job and employer paid health care. It also works if you’re the CEO iof a Fortune 500 company, and it also works if you’ve managed to fit into some other very specialized categories.

The problem is that the biggest lobbyist against health care reform in the USA are the people who run the major health care insurance companies. They are the ones who are fighting the move toward affordable health care in the USA. There are some estimates that it costs the average doctor’s office some 84 thousand dollars per year just to handle insurance form paperwork!

Just today I was reading of the story of a man in Florida who was hit by a drunk driver. His leg had to be amputated. His bill so far, to be patched up from that accident is nearly $800,000. Under the highly vaunted US health care system, he’s the one who has to pay it.

The USA could use a big dose of Canadian style health care.

Today’s  FITLife tip is brought to you from my own experience.

Is food winning over you?

Try this: Get a small notebook or use your computer to track EVERYTHING you eat. It may take some time to get used to doing this. But, when you think about having that double scoop of ice cream or hot dog or whatever your favorite unhealthy food is, you will think twice about eating it.

This method is also a great way to see what vitamins or minerals you might be lacking. Try it!

Coming Your Way — We believe that Wolverine was more than “a little” irritated when someone decided to steal a yet-unfinished copy of X-Men Origins ahead of the movie’s opening.  He probably wouldn’t have been happy if people would have stolen the movie when it was truly complete but this was Hugh Jackman’s creative work and he was bummed!  Source – 20th Century Fox

 

Hugh Jackman, producer and star of X-Men, was “disappointed” when the rough cut of the movie was stolen and prematurely set free on the Internet. Wolverine on the other hand was totally P***ed! Oh yeah…so was News Corp’s Rupert Murdock.

We didn’t view it. Didn’t even scrounge the web looking for it. We’ll wait till it is available on TV surrounded by ads…when we have the time to rent the movie…when we’re on a flight somewhere.

The incident made us think that the Internet has desensitized us in many ways. Some people think you’re some type of hero if you hack into a corporate system and “liberate” people’s private information. Some think it is cool to set a movie, a song, a book, a game, an article free on the web. Some feel they should be paid for their creative efforts, their content, their intellectual property.

We’ve never been really certain if Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, was serious or deeply, intellectually being funny when he crystallized the concept that free is a superb Internet business model.

 

Favorite Word – Free is the most attractive word (and most widely used) in advertising or marketing.  Maybe the only thing that even comes close is “You buy, we pay the taxes.”  But getting something for nothing is more powerful than doing something to your government. 

But as Logan’s half brother said, “Back away. There are things you don’t understand.” Maybe not, but we do understand that at the end of each business day there has to be money in the cash register if the organization is going to open its doors tomorrow.

Part of the problem is that the largest web players – Google – has perfected the messaging of “free.”  You have free gmail, video entertainment with YouTube, document storage, maps, news, photo storage and more. Of course people get irritated when Google has a problem and you can’t access your gmail, when your photos are lost, when your video gets taken down, when your online document/data files disappear.

How dare they!

Folks, none of that is free. Google loses $470 million a year giving you upload/download access to YouTube.  Other sites lose about as much as their volumes/traffic increase. 

Content Flows – Every video enabling site around the globe receives hundreds and thousands of short and long, poor and great videos made available by folks who hope people will enjoy their creative efforts.  Source — Vobile

Losing a little on each transaction and making it up in volume just doesn’t work. Of course when Chris advanced the idea of free, he didn’t really mean “free.” But all of the stuff (good and bad) the Internet and all of the locations, sites, information, ideas, news, research, data is pretty hard to resist. And obviously we don’t.

Growing Volumes – New web sites, new business models are cropping up across the Internet offering people free, paid and subscription content – audio, video, photo, text.  The volume of content that is available is growing six fold and there seems to be no end in sight.  Source — Cisco

 

The challenge is we’ve blurred the lines between good, evil…mine, yours…free, paid. Too many people on the iNet agree with Wade Wilson/Deadpool, “Dreams really do come true.” The truth is more along the line of Wade’s other observation, “Great, stuck in an elevator with 5 guys on a high protein diet.” There’s “free” and there’s free. With the way Google (and tons of other for-profit companies) serve the stuff up it’s hard to see the difference. Especially when we spend more and more time online. 

Our Lives Online – Shopping, working, relaxing, entertaining it appears that people increasingly rely on the depth and breadth of content stored and available on the Internet.   Source – Media-Screen

Well we’ll give you a little hint about Anderson’s long tail content. 

Long Tail – Chris Anderson’s early articulation of how the Internet and web would help people find and enjoy widely popular content as well as niche audio/video works.  The economic storage and distribution of minor works and offbeat subjects enables almost everyone to find his/her content.  Source – The Long Tail

If the stuff (audio or video) is in the high demand category, folks probably want you to pay for it…one way or another. If the stuff is in the special interest category, you may or may not have to pay for it. The really free stuff is up there because someone wants you to share in their love of the content. Then there are those who use the free locations just to express themselves and they’re glad someone gives them their 15 seconds/15 minutes of fame. 

Our son opened up artistserver.com as a free site for indie musicians years ago. We don’t even like to know what it costs for his co-lo (co-location) service, server/storage upgrades, constant tweeking to enhance/refresh the site. It doesn’t cost anyone anything to get posted or download/enjoy the music but you’d never know that by some of the online complaints he receives. 

There are hundreds of similar music/video sites around the globe and we’re sure the folks who offer the service experience the same levels of love/hate mail. Look at the complaints YouTube gets when they take down music videos.  Heck even the EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation) is indignant and feels its censorship. 

It’s a grey area but if the video is yours and the music is “borrowed” maybe we’re missing something.  Want some no-strings attached music, go to our kid’s site…folks there would probably like the free exposure. 

Want to drop in a micro payment? Great, he’s getting ready to add a couple of TB of storage. On the other hand, the “free” content (the stuff that Google and the gazillion of other business sites/services/blogs) put up is only available to you at no cost because someone wants to ride along and get their message in front of your face.

Now Stryker announces, “Welcome to the war.” It’s advertising and contrary to your snobbery it isn’t a dirty word! Print media…radio/tv…web sites…blogs…stakeholders want it.  It’s not bad if it delivers stuff you want to enjoy and the cost to you is a little eye/ear time.

You might like it.  You might learn something.  You might buy something.  As Stryker said…“Become the animal. Embrace the other side.” If you’re not into out-and-out piracy/theft, “free” is the best world for you. You get to become part of the community for nothing and you get to participate at the level that’s most comfortable for you.

Tribal Affairs – In the blink of an eye new communities are formed with people from widely dispersed areas who share a common bond and interest.  Some want to participate and share while others want to enjoy.  Over time communities within communities form, evolve and establish their own written and unwritten guidelines.  Source – CMO Council

Depending upon the community you can share/enjoy/sell music, games, video, applications, information/opinion. Now that is the true power, robustness, richness, enjoyment of being online all the time. In these areas it’s a me-centric world. 

The Global Me – The Internet makes it possible for people to find what they want, need, desire with a little surfing.  For the most part the me-centric web works well as people give and take freely.  Obviously there is also the dark side of “me” which is all about taking.  Source — Forrester

It’s a lot more fun, a lot more enjoyable, a lot healthier than drifting over to the “fun to steal” part of the iNet/web. You have to remember…Jackman just may let Wolverine loose.

Ho Boy He’s Ticked – When you mix Logan and Wolverine and then tick them off you can be assured there will be nothing but trouble ahead.  Guess the folks that ripped off the half-finished Wolverine movie weren’t aware of the fact that he was a mean rippin machine…and he has powerful friends.  Source – 20th Century Fox

Then…you’re gonna hear Logan say, “You’re gonna die for what you did to her!” So much for the free lunch…and movie.

 This year, with Father’s Day on the horizon, I invited some of our favourite companies to give us their best Father’s Day suggestions.  Here’s what they had to say!

 

Nikon

COOLPIX S630 – $349.95

S630_SL_front34l_lo_cmyk

 The COOLPIX S630 is for the Dad who wants a piece of the action. He will never miss a moment with this camera’s quick start-up and short shutter release time lag. In Sport Continuous Mode, Dad can take up to 20 pictures at 11 frames-per-second to capture that amazing action shot, be it at his kid’s dance recital or at a professional hockey game.

  • 12.0-megapixel resolution
  • 7x zoom-NIKKOR lens
  • Motion Detection and vibration reduction
  • 2.7-inch high resolution LCD with wide-viewing angle
  • ISO 6400 capability
  • Sport Continuous Mode
  • Available in titanium silver, black and amethyst

COOLPIX P90 – $499.95

P90_SLup_front34r_cmyk

The COOLPIX P90 is an excellent gift for the Dads with a sensitive side, who like to get up-close and personal with photography. It is versatile and has many features to help Dad capture the perfect, professional-looking picture. The 24x zoom and large number of features make this camera a great choice for snapping shots in a wide variety of situations.

  • 12.1-megapixel resolution
  • 24x zoom
  • Vibration reduction image stabilization
  • 3.0-inch vari-angle
  • ISO 6400 capability
  • Smart Portrait System:
  • 12 person facial recognition and face priority auto focus
  • Smile Timer
  • Blink Proof
  • In-Camera Red-Eye Fix

 

D5000 set, with 18-55mm VR lens – $999.95

D5000 set, with 18-105mm VR lens – $1199.95

D5000_18_55_front34l_l 

For the Dad of all trades, the D5000 Digital SLR combines simplicity and advanced features with leading technology and HD video. Dad can make the most of his camera and catch all of those precious moments in high-definition. This digital SLR is an excellent camera for first-time users and experts alike.

  • 12.3-megapixel resolution
  • HD movie mode
  • Face Detection
  • Subject Tracking auto focus
  • Scene Recognition System
  • 2.7-inch vari-angle LCD

 

Panasonic

DMP-B15 – Portable Blu-ray DiscTM Player (MSP: $999.99)

If Dad likes the latest technology this is the perfect gift for him – introducing the world’s first portable Blu-ray DiscTM player! Designed to provide the ultimate HD Blu-ray experience you’d expect at home for those on the go, this first-of-its-kind player delivers the highest level image quality available thanks to the HDMI output and PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus technology which reproduces a colour data with twice the accuracy of conventional systems. Translation: faithful and sharp colours!

Additionally, the DMP-B15 comes with a two-and-a-half hour rechargeable battery and the player can connect to an HDTV through an HDMI cable which converts the portable player into a standalone Blu-ray Disc player.  For dads who travel frequently, the unique ability for the player to be propped up guarantees that even the longest flights become manageable and fly by with his favourite movies at his fingertips.

Special DMP-BD15 Blu-ray Features Dad will Love:

  • Portable 8.9 inch WSVGA LCD screen
  • VIERA CAST™ internet accessibility
  • BD Live functionality
  • HDMI output
  • SD card reader
  • Movie (AVCHD, MPEG2) and JPEG (HD) view with SD memory card slot
  • The UniPhier® processor lowers power consumption and enables a compact design

 

DMC-TS1 – LUMIX® Digital Still Camera (MSP: $499.99)

http://www.panasonic.ca/english/audiovideo/camerascamcorders/digitalstill/DMCTS1.asp

Dad can gear up for outdoor fun with this rugged hybrid/still motion image camera that makes it easy to capture beautiful photos and HD movies. Waterproof, shockproof and dustproof this is one tough little camera that he can take wherever the action is – perfect for camping and family gatherings.  New Face Detection and Face Recognition features will help Dad snap the winning shots of the kids during the big game – they’ll never be lost in a crowd again! If your trip happens to take you underwater, Panasonic’s TS1 has you covered up to 10 feet. With an airtight body, the camera is protected from all the elements! Also a thickened LCD panel, protects against pressures that are particularly felt when underwater.

The ACDHD Lite HD video capabilities of the TS1 also allow for almost double the recording time in HD quality. With Dolby Digital Creator, you can also match your special moments with high quality sound too.

Special DMC-TS1 Camera Features Dad Will Love:

  • Waterproof up to 3 meters (10 feet)1
  • Shockproof up to 1.5 meters (5 feet)2
  • Dustproof1
  • 2.7 inch LCD (230K pixels) with 12.1 megapixel image sensor
  • AVCHD Lite High Def Movie Mode with Zoom & Audio
  • Intelligent Auto Mode includes Face Detection and even Face Recognition, MEGA O.I.S. (Optical image stabilizer), Digital Red-Eye Correction and Intelligent Exposure Control
  • Available in silver, orange and blue

 

1 This camera is waterproof / dustproof equivalent to “IP58”, and is possible to record at a maximum of 3 meters (10 feet) depth / 60 minutes continuously

2 This camera has passed a drop test from 1.5 meters (5 feet) in height in accordance with “MIL-STD 810F Method 516.5-Shock”

 

ES-8249 – Pro-Curve® ARC IV nano blade shaver with HydraCleanTM system (MSP: $349.99)

http://www.panasonic.ca/english/personalhealth/mensgrooming/ES8249.asp

Give dad the convenient wet/dry capabilities of the Pro-Curve shaver – perfect for those days when he’s on the go.  Plus, the cleaning centre will keep the shaver refreshed and feeling like new for a comfortable, clean shave every time.  The Pro-Curve also has the world’s sharpest blade and fastest motor drive to provide the smoothest, most powerful electric shave imaginable.

Special Pro-Curve Shaver Features Dad will Love:

  • Shaves both wet and dry
  • HydraClean System
  • Quadruple Multi-Fit Arc Blades
  • 13,000rpm Direct Linear Motor Drive
  • Nano Technology (30° inner blade)
  • Pivot Action Shaving System
  • Bright LCD screen

 

 

VIERA® LCD X1 HDTVs and HDTV/iPod® Playback Entertainment System

MSP: Ranges from $749.99 – $999.99 depending on size  

http://panasonic.ca/english/audiovideo/lcd/tcl26_32_37x1.asp

If there’s one thing dad loves it’s a fully connected home theatre that he can enjoy with friends, family or on his own.  And the new VIERA LCD X1 HDTVs with a fully-integrated iPod Entertainment Kit won’t disappoint!

Available in three different screen sizes, these flat panel televisions include a specially designed external Universal Dock for iPod allowing consumers to enjoy iPod-based music, videos and photos on a larger screen for a more impactful viewing experience.  And unlike most other iPod connectivity options, the VIERA X1 and Panasonic’s VIERA Link™ technology provide special interface capabilities to easily manage content playback through an intuitive on-screen display using only the VIERA’s remote control.

When the iPod is docked on a VIERA X1 Series HDTV, users simply select the “VIERA Tools” button on the remote control to pull up the iPod icon.  Once the iPod icon is selected, users can select from a drop down menu displaying their music, videos or podcast options.  The VIERA on-screen music menu mimics the iPod, allowing users to select a song from an artist, album or playlist.  Similarly, the video and podcast features provide a list of available videos or podcasts.

Special VIERA LCD X1 HDTV Features Dad will Love:

  • VIERA LCD X1 HD televisions are available in three screen sizes: TC-L26X1 26-inch class ; TC-L32X1 32-inch class  and TC-L37X1 37-inch class  (26”, 32” and 37” are measured diagonally)
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with SD Memory Card slot and Game Mode
  • Internet-enabled VIERA CAST™ and new iPod functions
  • HDMI inputs (26” has 2 HDMI Inputs; 32” and 37” have 3 HDMI Inputs
  • VIERA Link button allows for easy operation of connected Panasonic products
  • 720p resolution, a contrast ratio of 12,000:1
  • ENERGY STAR™® qualified

Special iPod Entertainment System Features Dad will Love:

  • Once the iPod icon is selected, users can select from a drop down menu displaying their music, videos or podcast options 
  • iPod Entertainment Kit is equipped with a full suite of entertainment features
  • Panasonic’s VIERA link technology allows users to manage content playback through an on-screen display and the VIERA remote control.

 

 

[Note: Canon and Olympus were also invited to participate but did not respond by our publication deadline. Thank you to Nikon and Panasonic for pulling their suggestions together on short notice.]

One of the reasons that security programs aren’t always as effective as they should be is that organizations of all sizes often fail to ask the most important question: What is security?

Security is often categorized as physical security, personnel security and information security. Much of the reason is historical.  Back before computers, corporate security people were concerned primarily with physical assets.  The area of personnel security evolved with background checks and security clearances and then expanded into workplace violence prevention and ensuring the safety of employees at work and when they travel.

Then computers came along, and the complexity of these new systems gave birth to “computer security”.  Over time the “computer” field became known as “information technology” and “computer security” became “information technology security”.  Some time after that it finally dawned on people that the focus should be protecting information (as opposed to “information technology”) and since then the term “information security” has increased in popularity.

Within the information security field, the buzz phrase, “Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability” describes its goals:  Protecting information against unauthorized disclosure, ensuring that it is not inappropriately modified and making sure that authorized user can actually use it.  Every so often somebody (commonly a vendor representative trying to push their product) tries to expand this definition by adding a fourth or fifth, but in doing so they usually succeed only in proving that they don’t understand information security.

In some organizations different people or groups are responsible for different “types” of security.  They often use different language, different processes and their failure to co-ordinate activities often increases security risks.

So what is this security thing anyway?  Security is simply about protecting assets.

Physical security is about protecting company assets.  But so is personnel security.  While I’m certainly not suggesting that a company owns employees, they are assets.  Their ability and willingness to work is of great value to the company – without them very little could get done.  If a company fails to protect employees, and they are unable to work, that constitutes a loss.  Failure to comply with laws and regulations regarding the protection of employees also impacts other assets including employee and public relations and monetary losses due to fines or civil damages. All political correctness aside, employees are valuable assets that require protection.

Finally, there’s “information security”.  Today information is an asset.  While computers and networks can be complex, and different skills are required to protect digital information, in the end it’s all really just about protecting assets.

Microsoft Vista proved one thing: The software giant has lost touch with their customers.

I’m sure that the geeks in Redmond thought features like semi-transparent windows, a sidebar and a ‘better’ search feature were great ideas.  Probably because they didn’t have to buy the hardware to run it on.  Vista, already in history as Microsoft’s largest operating system failure, had two fatal flaws that even a junior product manager should have been able to spot.

First, Vista consumes CPU cycles and memory like frat boys toss back beer at a kegger.  Much of the gain that could be realized by buying a fast new computer is tossed away by the operating system.

Second, and even more maddening, is that there is no real benefit to most users.  We want to surf the web, do our email and look at our digital photos.  All Vista does is make us buy a faster computer with more memory to do the same things we did with XP.  It’s not any easer to connect up to a shared printer at home, and doing just about anything useful requires downloading or purchasing other software.

Now Microsoft wants to be the hero, boasting that the upcoming Windows 7 will offer better performance.  Compared to what?  And precisely what will it do for us that XP won’t?

Now is the time for a lean, mean, efficient operating system.  Let’s hope Microsoft gets it. If not, hang on to your XP licence.  I’ll come in handy.

Back in the day when I was a flight attendant for a major airline, we were taught what I call the “Flight Attendant Effect.” It goes like this: If you pay special attention to just one customer on the plane, all the customers around him/her will feel special too and their impression of the airline will be a postive one.

Social media can have the same effect. If you are on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and you are found helping one person through a difficult problem or just sharing kudos with them, other people reading the posts will feel that you’ve touched them as well and will more than likely think highly of you even though you’re not directly in contact. You become known as the “nice person” who helps people online. The person with all the answers to a problem. The expert with the expertise. The “go to guy/gal.”

The Flight Attendant Effect taught me the importance of how an interaction with just one person makes a huge impression about a company as a whole to others. This is exactly what your helpful actions can do for you and your company. Sharing your knowledge is a powerful connection you can make with others and will leave a lasting impression on everyone who notices. The impression you make by becoming a valuable resource for your clients, potential clients and business partners will take you much farther than you ever dreamed. 

This also works in reverse: A bad impression can be made if you choose to engage in negative or snarky comments or conversations. Sometimes it is even more detrimental and the damaging effects can reach even farther. My personal feeling is to use common sense about what you post. If you can’t say something nice, as our mothers told us, you may want to keep it to yourself. Choose your battles wisely online. You’ll never be sorry you did. 

Also, keep in mind that it’s about the other person, not about you. Reach out and help, but don’t bother if you’re only helping people to “look good.” People can see right through that. Being genuine in your motives will bring you rich rewards when you’re not looking for them. 

I’m so glad I was able to see how important it is to help those in need and how one action will carry enough weight to form a lasting impression about a company at a young age. Those lessons learned as a flight attendant have remained with me to this day and make me appreciate how important it is to share my knowledge and help those around me. I also see this quality in others and I’m so glad that I know people in social media that I can always count on for the right answer or another point of view to explore. Their effect on me, and the people I know, will help us all go much farther with social media than we ever dreamed.

We are familiar with the word “change”.  Hard to believe, but we are already in month of June! This is the perfect time to look at where you are with your life.

Did you start out the year or month with a plan to change something?

How is your plan working for you?

Do you need to go back and look at your plan?

Remember that “Change starts with a plan, plans begin with change”. No mater what you want to change, always come back to your plan and track your progress. And remember, plans, change & goals are always a work in progress.

What is your plan? Do you need one? If so, start now! Yesterday I wrote about my plan. I have many goals, dreams and missions. They all start with a plan.

One of my current plans is training for a 100 mile trail run on August 22, 2009. My plan includes a lot of training (running, core work, cycling, etc.), nutrition, experiments (what food/liquids will work well with my body), rest, races to get ready for the BIG one, and determination.

No matter your plan, you need determination to succeed.

Technology moves so quickly that almost everyone has analog (tape) and digital video they want to save and enjoy. Even with today’s low-cost, high quality cameras and ubiquitous camphones, the results are usually less than great viewing quality:

  • Unless you’re carrying a bank of photo lights around the video is usually a little on the dark side.
  • No matter how hard you try to hold the camera steady the video is shaky.
  • Often the focus is a little off and there are video noise artifacts that make the final movie a little “uncomfortable” to watch, especially when everyone expects to watch theater quality videos of the kids events, family activities and special moments.

If you’re converting old family/friends videotapes to digital the problem becomes even worse.You not only have to handle all of the issues listed above you also have a video quality that is, well, VHS quality.

Ten to 20 years ago it was exciting quality but once DVD movies were introduced it was easy to see that the quality could be better…a lot better. But converting the videotaped content to digital is important because the images will deteriorate – if they haven’t already – and you will lose the special moments and memories forever.

For converting your analog content to digital you could use a Firewire to USB cable to connect your camera to your computer. Or there are a number of low-cost, easy-to-use USB video capture adapter devices that include an S-video cable for the best quality possible.

Once you have all of your personal and family videos digitally saved on your computer hard drive, you’re ready to clean up the video and make it look clean and crisp…something people will want to sit down, enjoy a bowl of popcorn and watch.

Family members and friends who are “seasoned” videographers will tell you this is when the real work begins. They’ll describe their long evenings and lost weekends slaving over a cold keyboard in the glow of their monitor to rescue poor quality video and turn it into a breathtaking movie.

That’s now a thing of the past.

Drawing heavily on its patented “CSI”-style super-resolution technology–used by national, regional and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies–MotionDSP Inc. (www.motiondsp.com) recently introduced a consumer video enhancement solution for Windows PC users. Called vReveal (www.vreveal.com), the software instantly cleans up videos that are shaky, dark, noisy or blurry.

While the software works well with recent-generation multi-processor Windows-based personal computers, it provides optimum performance when coupled with the massively parallel processing power in NVIDIA® CUDA™-enabled GPUs (graphic processor units). By taking advantage of the economical and powerful NVIDIA CUDA-enabled video cards, vReveal can enhance flawed video up to five times faster.

While vReveal is a consumer level product, it has the power and built-in features to improve consumer video in minutes for fast-turn around news production. The software can dramatically improve the quality of videos captured by cell phones, digital cameras and other handheld devices as well as older videotape content.

Hiding much of its forensic post production clean-up, the software uses familiar one-click touch-up tools (Figure 1). Within a few minutes, even an intern can stabilize, brighten and sharpen flawed videos.

clip_image001

Figure 1: The “one click fix” controls make vReveal incredibly easy to use.

Priced at only $50, vReveal has the unique ability to increase detail in low-resolution videos and to remove video “noise,” such as graininess and pixilation (an effect where you can see the initial pixels so the video doesn’t look smooth). If you want to produce stills photos, you can even use it to capture print-quality images from the finished videos.

clip_image003

Figure 2: Multi-frame analysis is the basis of super-resolution technology.

The software enhances video using advanced, unique super-resolution technology. Dr. Sean Varah, MotionDSP’s CEO, explained that the firm’s patented algorithms literally reconstruct each frame in a video with better detail by analyzing the information available in the surrounding frames (Figure 2).

For people who want to “fine tune” the video before showing it to friends and family or copying the movie onto DVD, the software also provides advanced, drill-down enhancement controls for each of the key video improvement functions.

clip_image004

Figure 3: Partial view of fine tuning controls. Advanced users can tweak noise removal, sharpening, deinterlacing, color, contrast, and more.

Reveal directly imports .AVI, .MPG, .ASF, .WMV formats. If you have QuickTime installed on your system, the software will also play .MOV, MPEG 4, and .3GP files. Once the video is completed and you are satisfied with the post production work, you can save your movie to Windows Media (WMV) or uncompressed AVI.

The software will save your enhanced videos to 720p (1280×720 HD) resolution and lower.

The MotionDSP vReveal software works with Windows XP or Vista running on a system using an Intel or AMD 1.6GHz CPU and 1GB RAM. For optimum performance and to take advantage of NVIDIA’s GPU acceleration, it is recommended that users also have an 8-series or higher GeForce video graphics card installed.

If you want to test the software’s quality and performance on your own computer and videos download a free 30-day copy of vReveal from www.vreveal.com.

During the last decade a lot of money has been spent trying to protect information systems. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, two-factor authentication and other technical controls sometimes make good business sense when applied as part of comprehensive security program.  But what we’re not good at yet is the human firewall.

Scott Wright, an Ottawa-based security consultant and publisher of securityviews.com explained,

“Despite having spent 12 years working with constantly improving security technologies, I’ve seen an increasing trend toward generally greater risk and losses to businesses and home computer users. All signs point to the human factors as being the weakest link. It doesn’t matter how well you make the valve in a rubber tire to keep the air in, if the rubber is not consistently good quality, it can be easily punctured. So, I felt that it was important to start working on this problem in an innovative way that had a chance of making a difference in effecting cultural change across an entire organization.”

In addition to speaking and writing on security awareness, Wright also conducted some interesting research:

“The Honey Stick Project was originally devised as a way to gather data about how well people handled a simulated risk scenario – that of an infected USB Flash Drive. Because these devices can contain targeted threats or viruses that can evade common anti-virus programs, people should not plug unidentified USB drives they find in public locations into their computers at work or at home. In fact, it’s a good idea to only use your own device, and not share it with other people, to reduce the risk of infection.

The devices contain simple and safe HTML files with no active programs. I rely on people simply double-clicking on a file when the device is plugged into their computer to load the file. As long as they are connected to the Internet, and the user hasn’t taken any precautions to prevent the the browser from starting, an event is logged at my web server. After deploying 50 devices in places like Ottawa, Toronto, Tremblant and Las Vegas, over 60% of them have been used, which indicates that the finder didn’t do anything to prevent their computer from becoming infected. This tells me that at least 60% of the people who find these devices make poor risk decisions that could result in their home or office computer becoming infected with a virus or botnet.”

Perhaps it’s time we put more emphasis on security awareness training?

Nobody with any business sense would invest in General Motors.  The company has displayed an inability to compete in today’s world market. They can’t make cars people want, don’t understand the concept of quality and have the business sense of a first grader.  In fact, strike that – a first grader would probably figure out that making crappy cars that cost too much money is a bad idea.

Unfortunately the Canadian and US governments have even less business sense.  They’re pouring about $60 billion into a company with no prospect of long-term survival. They’re blowing an incomprehensible amount of taxpayer money to simply delay GM’s demise.

Canada is contributing about $9.5 billion, with their Prime Minister pointing out that GM employs 9000 Canadians.  That’s more than a million dollars per job Mr. Prime Minister.

How about investing that money into a company like Nortel with a proven track record of innovation?  Or how about giving it back to the taxpayers and letting them choose where to invest it.  But, of course, politicians know that taxpayers aren’t stupid enough to invest in GM.  That kind of idiocy must be reserved for just for governments.