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    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Smartphone Wars : Attack of the Clones..

    Errrm, Apple? You missed this spot..

    Websites can now steal your Safari browser autofill information including Name, Address, Email, Credit Card etc. without a mention using a very simple exploit detailled by Jeremiah Grossman.
    These fields are AutoFill’ed using data from the users personal record in the local operating system address book. Again it is important to emphasize this feature works even though a user never entered this data on any website. Also this behavior should not be confused with normal auto-complete data a Web browser may remember after its typed into a form.All a malicious website would have to do to surreptitiously extract Address Book card data from Safari is dynamically create form text fields with the aforementioned names, probably invisibly, and then simulate A-Z keystroke events using JavaScript. When data is populated, that is AutoFill’ed, it can be accessed and sent to the attacker.
    As shown in the proof-of-concept code (graciously hosted by Robert "RSnake" Hansen), the entire process takes mere seconds and represents a major breach in online privacy. This attack could be further leveraged in multistage attacks including email spam, (spear) phishing, stalking, and even blackmail if a user is de-anonymized while visiting objectionable online material. -9to5Mac
    You heard the man, either switch off the Auto-fill or switch to another browser.. Now!

    Done? Good, let's dive into last week..
    Since we're raining on Apple's parade, it doesn't stop at a seemingly-harmless autofill malicious code.. Apple has hit a new record, so to speak..

    Over the first half of 2010, Apple had more reported flaws than any other vendor. Microsoft retains its third-place spot. Secunia has tracked security vulnerabilities and issues advisories since 2002, producing periodic reports on the state of software. Together, the top 10 vendors account for some 38 percent of all flaws reported.
    Don't smirk just yet, Apple Haters..

    Though this does not necessarily mean that Apple’s software is the most insecure in practice — the report takes no consideration of the severity of the flaws — it points at a growing trend in the world of security flaws: the role of third-party software. Many of Apple’s flaws are not in its operating system, Mac OS X, but rather in software like Safari, QuickTime and iTunes. Vendors like Adobe (with Flash and Adobe Reader) and Oracle (with Java) are similarly responsible for many of the flaws being reported.
    To illustrate this point, the report includes cumulative figures for the number of vulnerabilities found on a Windows PC with the 50 most widely used programs. Five years ago, there were more first-party flaws (in Windows and Microsoft’s other software) than third-party. Since about 2007, the balance shifted towards third-party programs. This year, third-party flaws are predicted to outnumber first-party flaws by 2 to 1. -Wired
    Basically, it's yet another flaw blown out of its proper scale.. Apple took more than it's fair share of spotlights, every single trip on any side would have too much of a ripple effect (thanks to how the Interwebs work).. 

    And it only applies to the bad news only, because the web hype doesn't seem to register Steve Jobs personally addressing the Antenna issue..

    That was fast! Apple has not only posted up the video of their iPhone 4 Antenna Press conference from earlier today (sadly, without the Q&A), they have also put up a dedicated page to discussion signal strength issues with the death grip:
    On a mobile phone, signal loss typically occurs when your hand attenuates the most sensitive part of the antenna. In the photos and videos below, we demonstrate how different grips cause attenuation on many popular smartphones — including iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. -TiPB
    Bottom line? If you don't like the phone, don't buy it.. Don't like it after buying? Give it back.. The way the conference was delivered, and the way it was carried out, it seems that what many logical-blogs (am included, yay!!) said before was the truth: This problem happens with all other phones, so let's try to get over this? it's a an industrial flaw.. Really.. 

    Of course, you'd think this would cool off some of the blog-heat around the issue.. For the most part, it did.. However, "some" chose not to be quiet.. (Hint : All other Phones)


    Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict. -via Engadget
    Yeah right.. *slap*

    RIM's : BlackBerry

    "Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple."
    - Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie -via CrackBerry


    Apple's Friday press conference may have left a bad taste in some rival handset manufacturer's mouths, but not all of them are taking Cupertino's derision of their devices seriously -- HTC's Droid Eris was arguably the most affected by the grip of doom, its bars dropping to zilch when held, but the Taiwanese company's keeping any controversial opinions to itself for now. Instead, it's sharing a simple percentage to help clear the air. Whereas Apple claimed over 0.55 percent of customers called AppleCare with reception-related complaints, HTC's Eric Lin told Pocket-lint the Droid Eris technical support rate was 0.016 percent, nearly thirty-four times lower -- though even with a seven-month head start, we have to wonder if the Eris sold close to three million by the time Verizon brought the axe down. -Engadget 
    On one part, Apple did pull those companies under the same spotlights they're on, but Apple was addressing consumer concerns, and was "Transparent" about it.. So, other than comparisons, free software update, free bumpers (which cost allot, btw) and a conditional full refund, what more is there to ask for? because if you were expecting hoops-on-fire and maybe a pat on your back from steve himself, you're a bit off-key, mentally.. Since we're transparent and all :)

    Speaking of rumors which are being blow out of proportion as we speak.. Zombie Technology is on the rise, ladies and gentlemen (and some weird IP addresses my GoogleAnalytics registered).. Apparently, the Slate project, killed by HP, is back alive.. Using the same software that got them to cancel the project in the first place.. [insert puzzled "hmm" here].. However, Mashable has a different take..

    These numbers fit a previous HP Slate leak from April. In fact, they’re identical. Despite this recent discovery though, we doubt a Windows 7-based HP tablet is coming anytime soon...HP originally went with Windows for its tablet because it had few other choices. However, the iPad has demonstrated the need for vibrant touchscreen interfaces in tablet designs. Windows 7 is not an OS designed for touchscreens — it’s one designed for the keyboard and mouse. A stylus wouldn’t suddenly make Windows 7 usable on a tablet. One of the primary reasons HP bought Palm was to get its hands on webOS. The mobile operating system is far better suited for touchscreen and tablet-sized devices. And while HP hasn’t talked much recently about the HP Slate, it has confirmed that webOS tablets are in the works. With webOS in its portfolio, there’s simply no reason for HP to make a Windows 7 tablet. -Mashable
    HP should really invest more into WebOs and make use of their Palm merger, and maybe try to stray away from this stylus-infested visions they're having about tablet computing.. Especially when the market has been saturated with the idea of touch-based interfaces.. Either by Apple, the originators, or the upcoming competition.. I mean, seriously..

    [update: Apparently, there will be both HP products.. The slate is meant to be using Windows 7 with a stylus, and the PalmPad will be HP's attempt to compete with the iPad (obviously), and it will be using WebOS touch-based OS.. For more information on this, visit CrunchGear ]

    And as Apple was trying to clean the mess, and with zombie technology and everything, something seeped into the cracks of the MeinKampf of the App store..

    Handy Light allowed you to make your iPhone's screen go blank with a color of your choice. You opened it, clicked a swatch from a simple palette, and that was it: Life in technicolor. Another stupid flashlight application like a hundred others. Or so the App Store team thought.
    Inside, the app contained hidden code that made it a full tethering application—a program that allows you to use your iPhone as a 3G modem. Using this ability you can surf the web from your computer, using the iPhone as a bridge to the internet. You can do this using your iPhone's preferences too, but that way you will have to pay the additional $20 per month that AT&T wants you to pay for this kind of service. That is $20 extra on top of whatever you are paying for your iPhone data plan. With Handy Light, the tethering service was completely free. -Gizmodo
    And, a little note Gizmodo forgot to highlight, thanks to this 15 year old brat, all the App applications will take a longer screening process.. As if Cydia was not enough of an environment, they had to break in the AppStore.. Way to go, young little hacker, am sure those other developers were in no rush to get approved :)

    One smartphone that won't have to worry about App approval, is the Nexus One.. May it's technological soul rest in peace.. Yup, no more Nexus (more or less).. umm, read the update!

    Google updated its official Nexus One blog to recommend users instead preorder the new Droid Incredible from HTC, set to be released on April 29. The post called the Android-powered phone "a cousin of the Nexus One."

    When contacted by 
    AppleInsider Monday, a Google spokesperson provided the following statement: "We won’t be selling a Nexus One with Verizon, and this is a reflection of the amazing innovation happening across the open Android ecosystem. Verizon Wireless customers who want an Android phone with the power of the Nexus One can get the Droid Incredible by HTC."

    The Nexus One was released earlier this year as a GSM handset for T-Mobile. It can be bought unlocked and contract-free for $529. Like a number of other Android phones, it was dubbed as a potential "iPhone killer." -
    Then again, this isn't a big deal when you're talking about an Android Empire, it is a big deal when a Company plans for an official phone that gets cancelled.. The Android empire is still strong, but i think this broad selection of different hardware isn't showing the OS as much as it's showing the machine using it.. Which is not how the smartphone market is doing business, right now.. Google, are you turning into Microsoft?

    [update: According to the official NexusOne blog, "the Nexus One will no longer be available online from Google. Customer support will still be available for current Nexus One customers. And Nexus One will continue to be sold by partners including Vodafone in Europe, KT in Korea, and possibly others based on local market conditions." ]

    - Tip credit goes to TheTee, Domo Arigato!

    Speaking of MSFT, back in Redmond, where Ballmer brings Hell upon the kingdom, it's Fiscal years.. Yup, that means the test scores are out.. MSFT is Still ahead of AAPL in earnings with an inch (financially speaking).. [Note: not to be mistaken with Market Cap]

    Microsoft Corp. today announced record fourth-quarter revenue of $16.04 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2010, a 22% increase from the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $5.93 billion, $4.52 billion and $0.51 per share, which represented increases of 49%, 48% and 50%, respectively, when compared with the prior year period.“This quarter’s record revenue reflects the breadth of our offerings and our continued product momentum,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer. “The revenue growth, combined with our ongoing cost discipline, helped us achieve another quarter of margin expansion.” -Microsoft
    With an expected 20 billion by Apple, it seems that it's one of two things (your choice depends on your bias fanboy'ism).. It's either Apple is gaining momentum to surpass Microsoft's 15 minutes of fame, or Microsoft is losing momentum.. *jeopardy theme music*

    When you're building the universe, who needs momentum?

    Imagine having the ability to take a virtual tour of the cosmos from your living room. Not just a flat, two dimensional tour, but an experience so engrossing that you have the ability to see the entire sky at once then zoom into detailed views of distant galaxies. The Terapixel project from Microsoft Research makes all of that possible, by creating the largest and clearest image of the night sky ever produced—a terapixel image, now available in the WorldWide Telescope and Bing Maps. -Microsoft Research
    I think we're in that phase of technology where everything is being tested for the next big thing.. Literally big.. Be it the logic-and-hardware-defying HighDefinition of Google, or the TeraPixel.. One day, we'll look back at this and smile, or just shrug how much of a waste of time that was.. We should've been preparing for the end of the world in 2012.. Ah well, Nothing beats seeing Nibiru in high def..

    On the lighter side of news, Facebook might have a PG Friendly future for your kids to be poked by other none-pedopheliac men-disguised-as-kids.. Or so they say..

    The idea to create a Facebook for kids is hardly new. Togetherville takes a parent-friendly approach to social networking that actually helps a parent use her own Facebook network to build out her child’s neighborhood (a.k.a network) on the site.
    Togetherville is meant to offer a more colorful and safe Facebook-like experience for kids ages six to ten (though any child under 13 can become a member), and it includes parents in the entire experience. -Mashable
    Don't you just love the ambition and excitement those young start-ups bring to the table? In a social network that is 500 million users strong, it's becoming essential to actually keep track of how Social networking is becoming a part of our daily lives, not just a past time activity..

    In other news, have you ever thought Pirates would be part of government? If Jack Sparrow comes to mind, then am sad to say, that won't happen.. The pirates am talking about are the internet Jack Sparrows.. At first, when i heard that a Pirate made it to Parliament, it was my "whoa" moment.. That was long ago (since June '09).. However, things seem to be pretty active since that day onwards..

    The new pirate political party in Sweden, which takes a stern anti-copyright stance, and helps out torrent-sharer Pirate Bay, now plans to launch the world's first "pirate ISP." It'll be anonymized, safe, and feed funds to the party itself.
    The machinations of Sweden-based Pirate Bay have been fascinating to watch unfold--every step seems to challenge laws and accepted norms. Like the latest development, where thePiratpartiet (Sweden's Pirate Bay-inspired copyright-fighting political party) plans to offer the world's very first pirate ISP. The Piratepartiet has been careful to distance itself from the "operational" end of the famous file-sharing site Pirate Bay, which has been embroiled in one legal battle after another as different agencies attempt to shutter its torrent-sharing activities. But the party recently began to supply bandwidth to keep Pirate Bay alive--a relatively risk-free move that also chimes well with the party's stance on copyright reform. -FastCompany
    One thought comes to mind, do these guys do overseas subscriptions? Nothing serious, really.. Just out of curiosity.. 

    The last two piece of news are the ones where am faced with conflicted feelings.. I mean, should i be psyched to finally kiss "Split Screen" good bye?

    A couple of patent applications published recently show that Sony's looking at stereoscopic video for more than just 3D gaming; it could take the place of split-screen local multiplayer.
    Broke My Controller noticed the applications, filed a year ago and published on Thursday, that show a method for rendering separate images on the same screen, which are then filtered by glasses worn by player 1 and player 2. The glasses also look like they have earbuds, meaning players get a separate audio feed, too. -Kotaku
    ..Or creep the hell out of my big brother paranoia?

    I'll leave that to you.. Oh, and last week's mystery gizmo? Here you go, loyal reader.. (I should cry in a corner, i know)

    Another rumor, since they're a penny a dozen these days..

    Don't sniff the URL, i warn you..

    So, what was the highlights of YOUR week?
    (if you have any tips and interesting finds, don't feel shy from sending them over)


    1 comment:

    1. Very interesting and somewhat intriguing entry you've posted here Lou..but just one tiny tiny thing that you missed..Google are not "canceling" the Nexus One..they're just not selling it through their online storefront anymore, right after they sell the last shipment received from HTC that is..BUT, you can still get the phone from other will still be available for both users AND developers..

      btw..this was posted July 16, 2010.. here's the link.

      Cheers buddy..and keep those articles comin'...always a pleasure passing by!

      Tariq :)