1 August 2014

Link: Why the Security of USB is Fundamentally Broken ☍

Andy Greenberg for Wired:

That’s the takeaway from findings security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present next week, demonstrating a collection of proof-of-concept malicious software that highlights how the security of USB devices has long been fundamentally broken. The malware they created, called BadUSB, can be installed on a USB device to completely take over a PC, invisibly alter files installed from the memory stick, or even redirect the user’s internet traffic. Because BadUSB resides not in the flash memory storage of USB devices, but in the firmware that controls their basic functions, the attack code can remain hidden long after the contents of the device’s memory would appear to the average user to be deleted. And the two researchers say there’s no easy fix: The kind of compromise they’re demonstrating is nearly impossible to counter without banning the sharing of USB devices or filling your port with superglue.

These sort of security articles get picked up by a lot of sites and become the TV news tease du jour. It’s good to know that such a vulnerability exists, but it’s also really frustrating that someone took the time to discover it, yet the industry can’t fix it. I guess it’s time to go back to Bluetooth and FireWire devices only…

28 July 2014

Review: Edovia Screens for Mac

Edovia Screens for MacVirtual Network Computing, or VNC, is a very specialized product category. While it’s used for Apple’s own Screen Sharing client, often invoked through Finder windows or iCloud’s own Back to My Mac features, Apple’s client is rather basic. Sometimes you’ll need to connect and control computers that aren’t on your own local corner of the network, or you’ll want some added flexibility once you do. Enter Edovia’s Screens, a $35 Mac app that offers quite a bit more functionality…

Link: App: The Human Story ☍

Jed Hurt and Jake Schumacher are working on a documentary—the Kickstarter funding only has about 70 hours to go:

With the advances in mobile computing over the past decade, software applications have captured the attention of the globe. Although some apps seem trivial and inconsequential, the details of our software say a lot about who we are as humans. Apps have changed how we live our lives and they will undoubtedly shape our future.

Just as apps have made their way to the world stage, a small community of developers has emerged as modern day artisans. Their obsession over the details of every interaction and pixel has given these unlikely leaders a voice in shaping software in a way that respects what it means to be human.

At its core, App: The Human Story is a vehicle to look at what it means to be human in a world of technology.

We’ve been working in earnest on the film for about a year. With your support, we will be able to greatly accelerate the process and finish the film by the end of next year.

I’ve pledged some money towards this and really hope that it gets funded, especially since it sounds like a great project.

23 July 2014

Link: Brooklyn’s Handmade Headphones ☍

Casey Johnston of Ars Technica visits Grado Labs:

Buried in a packed townhouse on a quiet street in south Brooklyn is a manufacturing operation that produces some of the most renowned headphones in the business. Despite Yelp reviews for the business, Grado Labs doesn’t sell directly from its location to consumers, though it does take the occasional walk-up request for repairs. For the most part, its long-time employees, including owner John Grado and his son Jonathan, tinker away through four crowded floors on audio gear that hasn’t appeared in advertising since the 1960′s.

22 July 2014

News: Apple Reports Q3 Results

Apple announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 second quarter ending June 28, 2014. In the conference call, Apple posted quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share…

Link: Some Thoughts on ‘Stickers’ ☍

Matthew Panzarino:

It emphasizes the reliability of the MacBook Air by showing that some of them have scuffs and scrapes. It’s rare in that it shows Apple products in a non-retail-box condition. The only recent personalization example I can find is iPhones in cases, which are shown in its ‘Powerful’ ads — but those don’t show any actual ‘damage’. The way Apple products look after customization and ‘real world’ use isn’t often represented in Apple ads. As Jeff Carlson points out, these are likely someone’s real machines.

The first thing I thought of with this ad was that it was a less-’90s-cliché, skewing-younger, more playful (and literal) version of the “What’s on Your PowerBook?” ad campaign. It’s showing how a generic machine can mean so many different things to so many different people.

Link: Didn’t Read Facebook’s Fine Print? ☍

Amanda Scherker for The Huffington Post (via The Loop):

In your defense, Carnegie Mellon researchers determined that it would take the average American 76 work days to read all the privacy policies they agreed to each year.

Most of it is not surprising, but it seems Facebook is getting even more ad- and tracking-oriented. This article highlights the important things, so at least you’ll know what terms you’ve agreed to.

21 July 2014

Link: Stickers ☍

Apple’s new ad is a bit odd, showcasing the various ways people personalize their MacBook Airs with stickers, but I like it (not sure if it made Jony Ive cringe). I especially thought the vintage Apple logo nods are a nice way to subtly acknowledge the past. It’s also been posted on YouTube.