April 18, 2014

Article: Tinkering with Old PCs, Chromium OS, and OS X

In my spare time over the last week, I spent more time messing with a pair of older PCs than I would care to admit. Although I prefer Apple’s products, I do spend a fair amount of time with Windows at work, and don’t really waste a lot of time or energy complaining about Windows or PC hardware. That being said, we had a couple of old machines laying around—HP Compaq (yes, both brands are present) 6710b and nc6320 laptops to be exact—they were sold around 2006 and 2007 primarily to business customers…

April 17, 2014

Patent Pending: 34: Beautiful Convictions ☍

In the latest episode of Patent Pending, Matt and I talk about Dropbox and privacy, Heartbleed, and much more…

April 16, 2014

Link: Seagate’s LaCie Admits to Yearlong Breach of Customer Card Data ☍

Arik Hesseldahl for Re/code:

LaCie, the French hard drive company, admitted yesterday that it has suffered a significant breach of its e-commerce systems lasting nearly a year.

The company posted a notification to customers on its site yesterday saying that agents from the FBI had notified that someone had used malware to penetrate its systems and gain access to the credit card information of people buying hard drives on the site. The site has temporarily stopped taking orders.

First word of a possible attack came on March 17 when security blogger Brian Krebs published evidence that the site was among about four dozen that had been compromised by way of a flaw in ColdFusion, a Web application development platform from the software company Adobe.

Is it just me, or does it seem like credit card information being stolen is becoming more common, or at least more high-profile?

April 15, 2014

Link: Google to Analyze All Sent and Received Items in Gmail ☍

Casey Johnston for Ars Technica:

Google added a paragraph to its terms of service as of Monday to tell customers that, yes, it does scan e-mail content for advertising and customized search results, among other reasons. The change comes as Google undergoes a lawsuit over its e-mail scanning, with the plaintiffs complaining that Google violated their privacy.

Google should have been up front about this from the beginning, and being reactionary because of an ongoing lawsuit makes this just a bit worse.

Link: CarPlay Coming to Aftermarket Pioneer Systems ☍

Good for Pioneer for offering this as a firmware update on existing systems—a lot of automakers could learn from that. Sadly, it looks like the price of entry will be at least $700.

Link: Fingerprint Scanner on Galaxy S5 Already Hacked ☍

Zach Epstein reported it for BGR, but The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple had the best reaction on his site.

When it comes to Samsung’s fingerprint scanner technology embedded in the home button on the new Galaxy S5, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that we have spent plenty of time testing it, and we’ve found that it works very well. The bad news, however, is that it has apparently already been hacked, leaving Galaxy S5 owners’ devices and their PayPal accounts at risk.

April 11, 2014

Link: Samsung Lied About Galaxy Tab Sales ☍

Completing the Trifecta of Stupidity™ today, Philip Elmer-DeWitt (who certainly is not stupid) reports:

This week we learned, thanks to a February 2012 internal Samsung document marked “top secret” and unearthed by Apple as part of its ongoing patent infringement proceedings, that we were right and those more credulous news outlets were wrong.

When Strategy Analytics was telling the world that Samsung sold nearly 2 million Galaxy Tabs in six weeks, the truth was that it took Samsung all of 2011 to sell half that many in the U.S., its single biggest smartphone market.

Link: Drop Dropbox ☍

Going for double on the tech-things-that-piss-me-off today, this has been shared a lot lately. While Dropbox introduced some nice new features on Wednesday, another announcement upset a lot of folks—Condoleezza Rice was named to Dropbox’s board. As I can understand the desire to get someone with her experience and skill set, I can’t help but think that she will be forever associated with some of the despicable political happenings of the early-to-mid-2000s, especially in the area of civil liberties and technology. What’s more concerning is how this reflects on Dropbox’s leadership and how it doesn’t seem to be a big deal that users are upset:

Choosing Condoleezza Rice for Dropbox’s Board is problematic on a number of deeper levels, and invites serious concerns about Drew Houston and the senior leadership at Dropbox’s commitment to freedom, openness, and ethics. When a company quite literally has access to all of your data, ethics become more than a fun thought experiment.

Although Dropbox responded to the concerns, “principles and values” from technology companies only carry so much weight in this post-Snowden world. For me, this isn’t a concern of Rice’s political party affiliation, but more of a company politics concern. I am re-evaluating my own usage of Dropbox, despite championing an arguably great product from its earliest days. Chris Breen summed up my thoughts:

And this plays to all philosophies. If you object to someone like Al Gore being on Apple’s board, switch to Android. If you think Apple’s green tech policies are a waste of money, do as Tim Cook suggests and get out of the stock (and stop buying its products). If Bill Maher drives you crazy, forego Game of Thrones.