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National Day of Unplugging

Is your life ruled by your tech? Do you have a Pavlovian reaction to the notification tones of other people’s smartphones? If so… it might be time to unplug. I know — it’ll be hard. Your cell phone calls, text messages, television shows, email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and multitude of apps, web sites, and other technological wonders have become embedded in your daily routine. They’re a constant part of your life, now, right? Unplugging would just be… I don’t know… weird, or something.

Don’t worry, though, you won’t be alone. At the time of this writing there are already 1,382 people and climbing who have pledged to stand with you as you boldly step forward, out of the teeming masses, and turn your shit off.

Ok, so I admit that I’m not really taking “National Day of Unplugging” seriously. I like the idea — I even practice it on my own from time to time — but I’m not much of a joiner. What I find interesting is that there has become a need for something like this, at all. We’ve become so overwhelmed by the constant deluge of information that’s hammering into us on a daily basis that people actually feel the need to band together and say “no more!”

Well, no more until tomorrow, anyway.

This brings me to questions: Will turning off your gadgets from sunset on Friday March 23rd, 2012, until sunset on Saturday, the 24th, actually accomplish anything? Also… will the people who made the pledge actually be able to follow through? On the National Day of Unplugging page of Causes.com, they say that you can use the time to (among other things) “connect with loved ones” and “eat together.” But what if your loved ones and/or potential eating partners are best reached and coordinated with via social media, email, or cell phone? What if you have a flat tire on your way to meet them? What if, the universe help you, you are waiting for the bus and you are soooooooo Freaking Bored without your favourite iPhone or Android game that you feel compelled to throw yourself repeatedly into the flimsy plastic wall of the bus shelter? Huh? What then?

Still… if you are getting up close an personal with bus shelters because you can’t be alone with your thoughts for a few moments instead of playing Angry Birds, then I’m thinking that unplugging for a day probably isn’t going to do too much for you, anyway. You may be better off unplugging forever and hiding yourself away in a remote mountaintop monastery that can’t get cell phone service. Or, maybe… now I know this is a bit radical, and all, but hear me out! Maybe you could consider practising a bit of moderation in your life. A bit of balance, or something. I don’t want to come off sounding like some “dirty hippy” or something — but I think it’s worth a shot!

National Day of Unplugging is a fun idea, and I agree wholeheartedly with its message and the principles behind it. I think there are a lot of people who could benefit from a day off from the socio-tech-connected world and get back to a bit of tangible Zen. I think people should take it beyond just one day, though, and adopt aspects of it into their day to day lives. Without that… I’m not sure I see the point.

Harry Potter Series Now Available As E-Books

An article from CNN.

Finally, fans of the world’s most famous boy wizard can follow his fight against the evil Lord Voldemort on their e-readers.

The entire “Harry Potter” series is now available in digital form atPottermore, author J.K. Rowling’s website for all things Potter, ending what was easily the biggest e-book holdout in the literary world.

The books come in a downloadable format that is compatible with all leading e-readers, tablets, personal computers and smartphones — including Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Readers seeking the e-books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s site will be directed to Pottermore to buy them.

“For years our customers have loved reading Harry Potter books in print, and have made them the best-selling print book series on Amazon.com,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle content. “We’re excited that Harry Potter fans worldwide are now able to read J.K. Rowling’s fantastic books on their Kindles and free Kindle reading apps.”

“By offering the NOOK editions of this popular series, long-time fans and first-time readers can experience the magic of Harry Potter in a new, exciting way and read what they love, anywhere they like,” offered Jim Hilt, Vice President of e-books for Barnes & Noble.

All seven books in the series will be available in English, at prices ranging from $7.99 to $9.99, through an agreement with Pottermore.

Rowling didn’t agree to make the books available digitally at all until last year, a full 14 years after the first, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was published. (It was published in the United States as “Sorcerer’s Stone” the following year).

“I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new digital generation,” the British author said last year in an announcement on YouTube. “I hope fans and those new to Harry will have as much fun helping to shape Pottermore as I have.”

The content side of the Pottermore site, which promises users an interactive journey through the Harry Potter universe, is still in beta testing. It’s scheduled to go live in April.

Not always a fan of the latest technology, Rowling famously wrote the Potter series by hand. Through the years, Rowling and her representatives expressed two reasons for being slow to the e-book world: a fear of online piracy and the desire for readers to experience her books the old-fashioned way.

The Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies and been translated into more than 60 languages.

Tuesday’s e-book launch is the second time Rowling has made news in recent weeks.

Mega Upload Hosting Company Can’t Afford Hosting Their Data

An article from Huffington Post.

The company hosting the frozen data of millions of users of the file sharing site Megaupload says somebody needs to pay the company’s bill or allow it to delete the data.

Carpathia Hosting filed an emergency motion this week in U.S. federal court in Virginia seeking protection from the expense of hosting the data of up to 66 million users. It says it is using more than 1,100 servers to store the 25 million gigabytes of data.

In the motion filed Tuesday, the Virginia-based company said it is paying $9,000 a day to host the data, which works out to more than $500,000 since January. That is when U.S. authorities shut down the Megaupload site and worked with authorities in New Zealand to have its founder, Kim Dotcom, arrested.

U.S. prosecutors are seeking Dotcom’s extradition from New Zealand, where he remains under house arrest. They accuse him of racketeering by facilitating millions of illegal downloads of copyrighted material on the site.

Megaupload says many of its users are legitimate and storing important files on the site.

Carpathia said in January it would work with a nonprofit group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to try to preserve the data. In its court filing, the company said it had so far refrained from deleting the data given the interest from so many parties in keeping it.

Among those asking for the data to be saved is the Motion Picture Association of America, which wants it kept for possible civil action.

Carpathia said another reason it can’t delete the data at the moment is because it would “risk a claim by a party with an interest in the data.”

It is asking the court to either have others take possesion of the data, ensure that Carpathia be paid until the completion of the case or let it delete the data after allowing users access for a brief period for selective copying.

Carpathia is seeking a court hearing on the motion next month.

In another development in the case, a judge in New Zealand on Thursday released a ruling that Dotcom be allowed up to 60,000 New Zealand dollars ($49,000) per month from his frozen bank accounts to pay for his living expenses as he prepares his defense. He is also allowed the use of one of his cars, a 2011 Mercedes Benz.

New Zealand authorities in January seized Dotcom’s assets, which included 10 million New Zealand dollars ($8.1 million) worth of bonds and a fleet of luxury cars.

Government Can Now Take Your Private Data – New Law

An article from Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community will now be able to store information about Americans with no ties to terrorism for up to five years under new Obama administration guidelines.

Until now, the National Counterterrorism Center had to immediately destroy information about Americans that was already stored in other government databases when there were no clear ties to terrorism.

Giving the NCTC expanded record-retention authority had been called for by members of Congress who said the intelligence community did not connect strands of intelligence held by multiple agencies leading up to the failed bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009.

“Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counterterrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of datasets from various agencies that contain terrorism information,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement late Thursday. “The ability to search against these datasets for up to five years on a continuing basis as these updated guidelines permit will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

The new rules replace guidelines issued in 2008 and have privacy advocates concerned about the potential for data-mining information on innocent Americans.

“It is a vast expansion of the government’s surveillance authority,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said of the five-year retention period.

The government put in strong safeguards at the NCTC for the data that would be collected on U.S. citizens for intelligence purposes, Rotenberg said. These new guidelines undercut the Federal Privacy Act, he said.

“The fact that this data can be retained for five years on U.S. citizens for whom there’s no evidence of criminal conduct is very disturbing,” Rotenberg said.

“Total Information Awareness appears to be reconstructing itself,” Rotenberg said, referring to the Defense Department’s post-9/11 data-mining research program that was killed in 2003 because of privacy concerns.

The Washington Post first reported the new rules Thursday.

The Obama administration said the new rules come with strong safeguards for privacy and civil liberties as well. Before the NCTC may obtain data held by another government agency, there is a high-level review to assure that the data “is likely to contain significant terrorism information,” Alexander Joel, the civil liberties protection officer at national intelligence directorate, said in a news release Thursday.

The NCTC was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to be the central U.S. organization to analyze and integrate intelligence regarding terrorism.

Girl Sends Police Prank Text Message

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) – A northwest Arkansas teenager thought it would be funny to text a random phone number saying she hid a body, but the joke backfired.

Of all the local phone numbers she could have chosen, the 15-year-old Rogers girl picked one that belonged to a police detective. Police found the girl’s address by tracing her cellphone number.

The prank? To text: “I hid the body … Now what?” to a random phone number. The teen said she got the idea for the prank from a posting on the website Pinterest.

Police didn’t find the prank funny and say it tied up some of the department’s resources.

The girl was released with a warning.

Apple Receives Complaints That The New iPad Is Heating Up

APPLE’s latest hot ticket seems to be a tad too hot to hold, some users are reporting. New iPad owners on the MacRumors forums and Apple’s own support community complain that the slab’s lower left corner can get a little warm during extended use. Don’t get excited though, reports seem to vary by user — some are reporting that their tablet becomes too uncomfortable to hold while others say that it only gets “slightly warm” and that it’s “expected.” How’s your new iPad treating you? Click on through to the comments and let us know.

Google Updates Privacy Policy

As of March 1st, Google will be updating its Privacy Policy. This privacy policy update mainly consists of what they will be doing with your account information and your search terms. By collecting this information, Google says that it will basically help you get more from your account.

“And because we’re making these changes, over time we’ll be able to improve our products in ways that help our users get the most from the web.”

Google has made it very obvious that your ability to control what they see and use stays the same. The privacy controls are not changing.

 

You can visit the Google Post to find more about the update.

Security Camera Error Exposes Video Feeds

FEEDS from thousands of Trendnet home security cameras have been breached, allowing any web user to access live footage of their camera without needing a password.

Internet addresses which link to the video streams have been posted to a variety of popular messageboard sites.Users have expressed concern after finding they could view children’s bedrooms, among other locations. US-based Trendnet says it is in the process of releasing updates to correct a coding error introduced in 2010.

It said it had emailed customers who had registered affected devices to alert them to the problem. However, a spokesman told the BBC that “roughly 5%” of purchasers had registered their cameras and it had not yet issued a formal media release – despite being aware of the problem for more than three weeks.

“We first became aware of this on 12 January,” said Zak Wood, Trendnet’s director of global marketing.

“As of this week we have identified 26 [vulnerable] models. (In) seven of the models, the firmware has been tested and released.

“We anticipate to have all of the revised firmware available this week. We are scrambling to discover how the code was introduced and at this point it seems like a coding oversight.”

Mr Wood added that the California-based firm estimated that “fewer than 1,000 units” might be open to this threat in the UK, but could not immediately provide an exact global tally beyond saying that it was “most likely less than 50,000”.

Tech news website The Verge first publicised the issue last week after discovering a blog which had published details of the vulnerability on 10 January. The author discovered that after setting up one of the cameras with a password, its video stream became accessible to anyone who typed in the correct net address.

Trendnet says it is in the process of releasing firmware updates for its devices. In each case, this consisted of the user’s IP address followed by an identical sequence of 15 characters.

The writer then showed how the Shodan search engine – which specialises in finding online devices – could be used to discover cameras vulnerable to the flaw. “Last I ran this there was something like 350 vulnerable devices that were available,” the author wrote at the time. However, it appears that others then took advantage of the technique to expose other links and uploaded them to the net. Within two days, a list of 679 web addresses had been posted to one site, and others followed – in some cases listing the alleged Google Maps locations associated with each camera.

Messages on one forum included: “Someone caught a guy in denmark (traced to ip) getting naked in the bathroom.” Another said: “I think this guy is doing sit-ups.” One user wrote “baby spotted”, causing another to comment: “I feel like a paedophile watching this.”

Some screenshots have also been uploaded.

The firm – whose slogan is “networks that people trust” – said it had halted shipments of affected products to retailers and that any delivery received since the start of this month should be safe. However, it said that items delivered at an earlier date might need a firmware update.

“We are just getting to that point to be able to succinctly convey more information to the public who would be concerned,” said Mr Wood.

“We are planning an official release of information to the public concerning this, but in advance I can tell you that this week we are targeting to have firmware to all affected models.”

At the time of interview, Trendnet’s home page and its press release section made no mention of the problem.

However, a warning was lated added to its front page linking to a statement that says: “It is Trendnet’s understanding that video from select Trendnet IP cameras may be accessed online in real time. Upon awareness of the issue, Trendnet initiated immediate actions to correct and publish updated firmware which resolves the vulnerability.”

Motorola Forgot To Delete Secret Information Off Xoom

MOTOROLA (NYSE: MMI) has publicly announced that about 100 Xoom devices were not cleared of all of the original owners content during the refurbishing process. About 100 Motorola Xooms were sold to Woot.com between October to December 2011 were the only tablets affected. According to Motorola, any information may be vulnerable, including: photographs, documents, passwords, usernames and more.

In their press release, they deeply apologized: “Motorola sincerely regrets and apologizes for any inconvenience this situation has caused the affected customers. Motorola is committed to rigorous data protection practices in order to protect its customers, and will continue to take the necessary steps to achieve this objective.”

Motorola is offering customers who purchased and then returned a Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi tablet to Amazon.com, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale, eBay, Office Max, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, or Staples and a few other independent retailers between March and October 2011 a complimentary two-year membership of Experian’s ProtectMyID Alert to mitigate any risks. Original owners are advised to contact Experian at 1-866-926-9803 to sign up for the credit monitoring service. These original owners are also advised to take precautionary measures to protect their identity, such as changing their email and social media passwords. Original owners who performed a factory data reset prior to returning the device are not impacted.

If you purchased a refurbished Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi tablet from Woot.com between October and December 2011 you are encouraged to visit motorola.com/xoomreturn or to call Motorola Mobility Customer Support at 1-800-734-5870, select Option 1, in order to determine if their tablet is affected.

To view the Press release from Motorola, please visit this site: http://preview.tinyurl.com/7amzn3p

Intercepted FBI Phone Call About Anonymous

THE hacking group Anonymous is back. Anonymous has released a tape of a call in which agents and detectives give details of alleged hackers being tracked and plans to catch them. The FBI does not know how the call was taken, and they are currently trying to figure out how. This has certainly stumped many people.

 

The group released the audio of the phone call that was taken, the audio can be heard at this site: http://tinyurl.com/6rhz7o9.

Mark Zuckerberg’s One Dollar Salary

An article from TechCrunch.

Here’s another way that Mark Zuckerberg is following his idol Steve Jobs: He will have a $1 salary, starting in 2013.

According to Facebook’s S-1 filing for its $5 billion IPO, in the first quarter of this year (which presumably means sometime in January) Zuckerberg requested that his base salary be reduced to $1 per year, effective January 1, 2013. His 2011 base salary was $500,000, and he also received a $220,500 bonus for the first half of the year. The S-1 also lists $783,529 in “other compensation”, which includes $692,679 for “costs related to personal use of aircraft chartered in connection with his comprehensive security program and on which family and friends flew during 2011″

Zappos Reports Hackers Gain Customer Information

EARLIER today Zappos reported that there was a breach in their security system. This breach was accessed through servers in Kentucky. The hackers who performed this attack, gained access to lots of customer data. The data that is now vulnerable is: Name, Shipping Address(es), Billing Address(es), Last 4 Digits of credit card, email, phone number, (cryptographically scrambled) password.

Zappos is stressing, that they did not gain access to payment information or full credit card numbers.

Zappos is recommending that you immediately change your password. They are also telling you that your data may be used to get other data.

 

To read Zappos email to employees and the email to  customers click here.

GoDaddy Loses Thousands of Domains Over SOPA

GODADDY as we all know is a domain/web hosting service. Recently GoDaddy has publicly came out and said that they agree with the S.O.P.A. (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill. This has made a large amount of people angry; so mad that they have actually pulled their domain from GoDaddy.

It has been estimated that 75 thousand customers have terminated their service.

I have pulled all of my domains from GoDaddy, and I encourage that you do too.

How To Leave A Good Review

CHRIS Pirillo wrote a wonderful article on how to write a good and worthwhile review. I would like to acknowledge him. What he is saying in this post, I agree with 100%. It has all of the good facts and details about what to do and to avoid. While he is applying this to apps, I believe this can be applied to most other items.

Below I have the video that basically sums it all up. But you are also going to want to his blog post which can be found here: http://ow.ly/8bJco

QR Codes Don’t Work

An article from CNN.com

QUICK response (QR) codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that resemble a checkerboard on LSD are appearing more frequently on billboards, magazine ads, business cards, stickers, T-shirts and anything that is used to promote stuff. However, evidence suggests many people don’t understand what QR codes are or what to do with them.

You might think that if anyone would know how to use a QR code, it would be college students — a demographic that is immersed in technology and bombarded by marketing. But a recent study found that nearly eight in 10 college students had no idea what to do with a QR code.

Archrival, a research group that focuses on youth marketing, surveyed 500 students at 24 colleges and universities across the United States. They found that although about 80% of students owned a smartphone and had previously seen a QR code, only about 20% were able to successfully scan the example QR code they were shown. Furthermore, about 75% said they were unlikely to scan a QR code in the future.

The whole point of a QR code is that it’s supposed to make it easier for people to use their phones to connect with information about things that they encounter in their environment. That’s where mobile typing gets in the way.

Most smartphones and even many feature phones have good enough web browsers and data connections to display a simple mobile-friendly web page, but trying to correctly type a URL on even the best smartphone is a pretty tedious and error-prone activity.

QR codes eliminate the need for typing a URL on your phone, but you need to have a barcode scanner app installed. And then you must take a moment to find and launch that app before you point your phone’s camera at a QR code.