Last night NASA landed on Mars. An amazing feat! But guess what? The Curiosity rover’s on-board computer is a pretty low-power system. In fact, the iPhone 4S is four times more powerful. Check out the specs below.
Surprised? Don’t be. NASA knows what it’s doing. It has just enough to do everything it needs. And that includes 17 cameras. [@mikko]
TorrentFreak has posted a supposedly leaked presentation by the RIAA’s chief lawyer that says that it defended SOPA and PIPA even though it knew the censorship legislation wouldn’t be effective against music piracy. Is the RIAA for real or are they just covering their asses, and what does it mean for your freedom going forward?
Massive Internet protests forced the RIAA’s puppets in Washington to back down from SOPA and PIPA, delivering a major blow the the RIAA’s crusade against Internet freedom. The leaked presentation called “￼U.S. Copyright Alert System and Other Voluntary Initiatives” was given in April to industry bigwigs, and it finds RIAA Deputy General Counsel Victoria Sheckler backpeddling from the organization’s legislative attacks on piracy. Just look at this slide. How pathetic:
In other words, the presentation all but admits what opponents of SOPA and PIPA knew all along; that the legislation would be useless. Now remember, this legislation jeopardized free speech on the Internet. If this is posturing, it’s an infuriating stance. It’s inconceivable that the RIAA would support legislation that so blatantly threatened your rights for nothing, but it’s the unfortunate truth
Since legislating censorship didn’t work, the RIAA has pivoted back to the Copyright Alert System, an anti-privacy initiative it’s been pursuing with ISPs. The new initiative was finally agreed upon last summer after years of debate. It was supposed to launch this month, but it’s been indefinitely delayed because all of the stakeholders—you aren’t one of them, by the way—can’t agree on how to implement it. Under the system, Internet users would be governed by a six strike system. The RIAA (or MPAA) would submit complaints of infringement to ISPs on behalf of copyright holders, after which the ISPs follow up with users using what’s called “graduated response.” In short, infringers are warned and warned again before anyone launches any significant legal action. The emphasis, the RIAA says, is on education. Bullshit.
You should be just as worried about this ISP monitoring as you were about SOPA and PIPA. Instead of bullying the government into restricting your freedom, the RIAA is bullying the ISPs into creating an Internet nanny state to intimidate you into compliance with whatever it wants. As the RIAA points out in the slide above, the only thing legislation would have have accomplished is increased policing by ISPs. With the Copyright Alert System it’s happening anyway. It’s unprecedented. And for what? There’s no evidence it’ll work. The RIAA says it will, but after this leak do you really want to take its word for it? [TorrentFreak via ITWorld via Slashdot]
Whether you bought into the home carbonation craze or not, a lot of consumers are voicing concerns that gadgets like the Soda Stream are just another green fad.
The CO2 cartridges are expensive to refill, and like the water bottles they’re meant to replace, they can easily pile up in landfills.
Enter Gaia Organic Soda System, a company that positions itself as the anti-Soda Stream with a line of organic all-natural syrups. Rather than rip off consumers with CO2 refill cartridges that cost $13 to $15 plus shipping, Gaia lets customers fill their 12 oz. cylinder near their homes for $3 to $5. They even rolled out an interactive map to help them locate a refill station.
“When you refill closer to home, its’ a greener choice,” the company says on its site. “In addition, we’ve developed a delicious, all natural, and organic line of flavor syrups in both regular and diet.”
Gaia may very well be a cheaper alternative to Soda Stream, but frankly anything sounds better than rotting your teeth with a can of soda. If you’ve been trying to kick the habit, we recommend going the old-fashioned route with a twist of lime and some cheap Pellegrino.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest natural coral formation on Earth and you’ll soon be able to see it in all its glory—from your desk.
The Catlin Seaview Survey, a collaboration between Google, the University of Queensland, and the Caitlin Group, will perform a diagnostic on the reef system’s health via a panoramic underwater photographic and video survey. The program has already taken some preliminary surveys, though the group plans to undertake the projects main component—three surveys begin at 20 points around the reef—in September.
Images will be captured by a 360-degree camera (actually four conveniently positioned fish-eye lens SLR’s) affixed to the front end of an Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) for shallow surveys, and robotic subs for surveys between 30 and 100 meters. The group hopes to also study how and if the migratory behavior of tiger sharks, green turtles and manta rays has been affected by global warming.
Starting today Internet users should be able to access these images via Google Street View and will also be able to watch video of each study section on YouTube. [University of Queensland via New Scientist]
Image: Caitlin Seaview Survey
She announced the launch on her personal blog earlier today.
Enter the Internet of things, where you can choose to follow people, places or things. The notes you leave can be private, or you can share them with everything and everybody.
The possibilities seem endless.
For instance, Fake shared a note she wrote for her friend Lauren:
Perhaps this would be a more useful note when you’re roaming around town: “Find me a Nearby Toilet NOW.”
That seems to be coming soon: Fake wrote on her blog that she plans on building out a notification system so you can get pinged when someone you follow sends out a note.
As far as making money, Fake is betting on selling sponsored notes.
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Apple allows any app to access your address book at any time—it’s built into the iPhone’s core software. The idea is to make using these apps more seamless and magical, in that you won’t have dialog boxes popping up in your face all the time, the way Apple zealously guards your location permissions at an OS level—because fewer clicks mean a more graceful experience, right? Maybe, but the consequence is privacy shivved and consent nullified. Your phone makes decisions about what’s okay to share with a company, whose motivation is, ultimately, making money, without consulting you first.
Once you peel back that pretty skin of your phone and observe the software at work—we used a proxy application called Charles—watching the data that jumps between your phone and a remote server is plain. A little too plain. What can we see?
As Paul Haddad, the developer behind the popular Twitter client TapBot pointed out to me, some of App Store’s shiniest celebrities are among those that beam away your contact list in order to make hooking up with other friends who use the app smoother. From Haddad’s own findings:
Foursquare (Email, Phone Numbers no warning)
Path (Pretty much everything after warning)
Instagram (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last warning)
Facebook (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last warning)
Twitter for iOS (Email, Phone Numbers, warning)
Voxer (Email, First, Last, Phone numbers, warning)
Foursquare and Instagram have both recently updated to provide a much clearer warning of what you’re about to share. Which every single app should follow, providing clear warnings before they touch your contacts. But plenty of apps aren’t so generous. “A lot of other popular social networking apps send some data,” says Haddad, “mostly names, emails, phone numbers.” Instapaper, for example, transmits your address book’s email listings when you ask it to “search contacts” to connect with other friends using the app. The app never makes it clear that my data (shown up top) is leaving the phone—and once it’s out of your hands and in Instagram’s, all you can do is trust that it’ll be handled responsibly. You know, like not be stored permanently without your knowledge.
Trust is all we’ve got, and that’s not good. “Once the data is out of your device there’s no way to tell what happens to it,” explains Haddad. Companies might do the decent thing and delete your data immediately. Like Foursquare, which says it doesn’t store your data at all after matching your friends, and never has. Twitter keeps your address book data for 18 months “to make it easy for you and your contacts to discover each other on Twitter after you’ve signed up,” but can delete the data at any time with a link at the bottom of this page. Or a company might do the Path thing, storing that information indefinitely until they’re publicly shamed into doing otherwise. Or worse.
We need a solution, and goodwill on the part of app devs is going to cut it. All the ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? dialog boxes in the world won’t absolve Apple’s decision to hand out our address books on a pearly platter. iOS is the biggest threat to iOS—and nothing short of a major revision to the way Apple allows apps to run through your contacts should be acceptable. But is that even enough? Maybe not.
Jay Freeman, developer behind the massively popular jailbroken-iPhone program Cydia, doesn’t think Apple’s hand is enough to definitively state who gets your address book, and when:
“Neither Apple nor the application developer is in a good position to decide that ahead of time, and due to this neither Apple’s model of ‘any app can access the address book, no app can access your recent calls’, nor Google’s method of ‘developer claims they need X, take it or leave it’ is sufficient.”
Freeman’s solution? Cydia’s “one-off modifications to the underlying operating system” that we deal in, nicely transfers this control back to the user.” In other words, we can’t trust Apple or the people that make apps—so let’s just trust ourselves to control how iOS works.
Freeman left us with one, final, disquieting note. Shrewd devs and others with the knowhow have been able to dig through app traffic to find out of they’re shoveling around your address book. But there’s no easy way to do this—and if a dev really wants to sneak your data through the door, there’s technically nothing we can do to stop him: “There are tons of complex tricks that can be used to smuggle both information in network traffic and computation itself.” It’s a problem fundamental to computer science—once the data’s in a dev’s hands, he can conjure it away, too small to be noticed by App Store oversight in churning sea of other apps.
Unless Apple keeps him from getting that information in the first place by letting us all make informed decisions with our phone and the private life poured into it. Your move, iOS.
The security PIN system that Google Wallet users have to enter to verify transactions has been compromised. Thankfully, the chances of your wallet being used against you is relatively low—assuming you haven’t rooted your phone, that is.
Since Wallet saves your PIN in an encrypted file on the phone itself, rather than the secured NFC chip, if your phone falls into the wrong hands, that person could lift your PIN file from the phone and simply crack it using brute force. From there, he’d have access to—and use of—your Wallet account.
Security firm, Zvelo, discovered and reported the issue to Google, but because Wallet’s security architecture, the change will require a fundamental rejiggering of the security protocols. Man, talk about an oversight. According to Zvelo,
The lynch-pin, however, was that within the PIN information section was a long integer “salt” and a SHA256 hex encoded string “hash”. Knowing that the PIN can only be a 4-digit numeric value, it dawned on us that a brute-force attack would only require calculating, at most, 10,000 SHA256 hashes…This completely negates all of the security of this mobile phone payment system.
So, if you are rooted, be sure to take some additional security steps to protect yourself like activating the lock screen, disabling the USB debugging option in settings, and enabling full-disk encryption. Or maybe not losing your phone in the first place. [Zvelo via Android Central via The Verge]
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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