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2014 September

September 29, 2014

Shellshock patch now available for Mac OS X

OS X Mavericks LogoLast week, I reported on the Shellshock bug found within the Unix shell, bash. As of today, Apple has released new patches for the Mac OS X distributions Lion (10.7), Mountain Lion (10.8), and Mavericks (10.9). For more information, click on the corresponding link for your system:

Lion (10.7)
Mountain Lion (10.8)
Mavericks (10.9)

To install the patch, download the patch file from the link, open the software package, then follow the instructions in the dialog box. This install will require your system username and password.

New features for Google Forms and Chromebook

Adobe-Google.pngGoogle today announced new updates for their Forms online survey offering. Forms will now incorporate a search feature within the Forms help menu accessible via keyboard shortcut (Alt-/) as well as new customization features for randomizing questions and inserting video.

Additionally, Google also announced that Adobe Photoshop is now available via stream on Chromebooks. Currently, this service is only available to students in North America who have purchased an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Despite presumably needing to have a constant Internet connection, the new service will include full integration with Google Drive thus eliminating the need to upload and download Adobe files like in past editions of the software.

For more information on Google Forms and Adobe on Chromebooks, follow these links to the Google Blog: (Forms, Adobe)

September 26, 2014

Update on Shellshock Patch Progress for Mac OS X

appleIn yesterday’s post, I reported there is a vulnerability within the bash shell commonly used in Mac OS X, Unix, and some Linux distributions.

Today,–citing a statement from Apple–stated that this vulnerability is only a major concern if your machine runs programs that then run bash to perform certain tasks and that most casual Mac users will have little to worry about:

“Bash, a UNIX command shell and language included in OS X, has a weakness that could allow unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable systems,” it continues. “With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced UNIX services. We are working to quickly provide a software update for our advanced UNIX users.”

If your system does require a patch, there is progress on an advanced workflow methodology by using a combination of Apple’s Xcode (if installed on your iMac) with step-by-step instructions available through the collaboration site, StackExchange. Currently, Network Services here on campus are already working on a fix for any outward-facing servers.

For more information, check on this article from

September 25, 2014

What is Shellshock?

Security locks (ZDNet)There have been reports of a security bug–named Shellshock–discovered within the shell program Bash. Bash is used on several distributions of the Linux OS, Unix, and Apple OS X to execute different system commands and scripts and from a local command line user interface. The bug–identified also as CVE-2014-6271 and CVE-2014-7169–is regarded as a severe security issue since it would add extra code to common gateway interface (CGI) scripts which are used to generate content on webpages and web applications as well as HTTP requests.

At the time of this post, Ars Technica is reporting there are patches available for Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS, Ubuntu, and Debian Linux distributions. Apple did not specify an official patch for OS X but did release a software update yesterday.

For more information on this, check out this Ars Technica article.

September 16, 2014

MOOC Provider Gets Into College Counseling


The providers of massive open online courses mostly cater to adults who already went to college. Now one provider, edX, is setting its sights on high-school students who are trying to get in.

The nonprofit organization just announced a raft of free, online courses for high-school students. Most of the new MOOCs cover material from Advanced Placement courses in traditional disciplines. But one course, called “The Road to Selective College Admissions,” will aim to counsel students on how to produce a successful college application.

For more information, check out these articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Popular Science.

September 4, 2014

Technology and locating the football.

A football bladder wrapped with a loop antenna connected to a transmitter

David Ricketts

In the last fifteen years, the NFL has reinstated the use of high frame rate instant replay, added video game-style camera angles, and worked with various apparel outfitters and rule amendments to speed up the game while increasing the safety of their players. There is one aspect of the game that remains deeply rooted in the 20th century: the use of chains to measure first downs.

North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University funded by a grant from Disney Research has worked to find a way to more accurately track the position of a football on the field. Based on the nature of the game, the use of GPS or RFID to track the football would be inhibited by the bodies of the players. Researchers have since developed a series of low-frequency magnetic field antennae that can track the ball in three-dimensional space.

The technology is called the Magneto-Track System. The current status of the technology can pinpoint the ball to within one foot of its physical location. The current chain-based system is accurate to within six inches, however, this research looks promising.

For more information, check out this article from

September 2, 2014

How a new HTML element will make the Web faster.


Increasing hardware capabilities and bandwidth, though helpful and readily accessible to some, are not the answers to a faster Internet according to an article by Ars Technica on the current state of the Web. The standard web page (taken from an average of the top 1000 sites) is 1.7MB in size with image files consisting of nearly 1MB of that 1.7MB

Due to this–but also due to the rise of mobile Web browsing–there have been calls for reform. One of those proposals is to create a new HTML element <picture>, however, implementation of it is another.

For more information, check out this article by Ars Technica.