April 15, 2014

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.

Link: NSA Reportedly Exploited Heartbleed for Years ☍

Michael Riley for Bloomberg (via Stephen Hackett):

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts.

If this is true (the NSA denies it), I really hope this is the tipping point for taking the NSA to task on the sneaky surveillance of Americans. Although this might have served them for spying, it also left these sites open for attack, and ended up not protecting Americans, the whole point of the NSA and other government security organizations.

I was trying to sum this up for someone and basically used the analogy of knowing that your neighbor’s garage had a faulty lock, and rather than letting them know, you used it for your own benefit (let’s say borrowing items). In addition, by not telling them, anyone else would have access. How is this okay?

“Yes, Steve could be intense at times. But he was also a real person. He had to deal with the ordinary and mundane aspects of life like everyone else. Maybe even enjoy them.”

April 10, 2014

Link: France Made It Illegal to Check Emails After Work ☍

Lucy Mangan for The Guardian:

Well, sort of. Après noticing that the ability of bosses to invade their employees’ home lives via smartphone at any here of the day or night was enabling real work hours to extend further and further beyond the 35-hour week the country famously introduced in 1999, workers’ unions have been fighting back. Now employers’ federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm.

Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones – or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita. And companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to do so. Thus the spirit of the law – and of France – as well as the letter shall be observed.

As much as Americans joke about the French, I think this is a great idea, especially since I know plenty of people who voluntarily obsess over work email after hours.