colinneagle writes "The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, considered by some to be the most luxurious hotel on the planet, recently announced that it will be doling out 24-carat gold plated iPads to guests upon check-in. From there, the tablets will serve as a virtual concierge of sorts, allowing them to access pertinent hotel information.
The hotel, which is the fourth tallest in the world, not surprisingly, is anything but cheap. The Royal Suite, for instance, checks in at $18,776 per night. The funny thing is, if you can afford such an exorbitant room, isn't it likely that you already have a gold-plated iPad?"Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "Scripps News reporters discovered 170,000 records online of customers of Lifeline, a government program offering affordable phone service for low-income citizens, that contained everything needed for identity theft . Last year, the FCC "tightened" the rules for the program by requiring Lifeline phone carriers to document applicants' eligibility, which led to collecting more sensitive information from citizens. A Scripps News investigative team claims it "Googled" the phone companies TerraCom Inc. and YourTel America Inc. to discover all of the files.
A Scripps reporter asked (pdf) for an on-camera interview with the COO of TerraCom and YourTel after explaining the files were freely available online. That did not happen, but shortly thereafter the customer records disappeared from the internet. Then, the blame-the-messenger hacker accusations and mudslinging began. Although the Scripps reporters videotaped the process showing how they found the documents, attorney Jonathon Lee for both telecoms threatened the "Scripps Hackers" with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "Everyone has an opinion on Windows 8, and we're all having a blast making fun of it — except for Microsoft's competitors. Strangely, we've had no "I'm a Mac" ads, and it's not just because those ads backfired the first time around. So where are the attacks? Google, Samsung and Apple should be all over this; instead, they are MIA. Apple can't say too much because its MacBook sales are down along with PC sales. So it's rather difficult to blame Windows 8 for MacBook sales. Google has been strangely quiet, even as Microsoft pounds on it from multiple fronts. There's the Scroogled ads, the Bing It On ads, and now a new ad campaign lambasting Google Docs.
In the case of Google, Microsoft's attack ads aren't working. Google's lead in search remains untouchable and Bing is settling for scraps. Samsung isn't ready to go to war with Microsoft, although it has taken a jab. Thus far, that's as much as they will do, and that's good. As for Apple, I suspect it may have written off Microsoft, and perhaps the PC business. The "I'm a Mac" ads were in the pre-iPad days. Tablets have changed things forever, now that Apple has validated the concept."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "I run a very nifty desktop utility called Rainmeter on my PC that I heartily recommend to anyone who wants to keep an eye on their system. One of its main features is it has skins that can monitor your system activity. Thanks to my numerous meters, I see all CPU, disk, memory and network activity in real time. the C: drive meter. It is a circle split down the middle, with the right half lighting up to indicate a read and the left half lighting up for write activity. The C: drive was flashing a fair amount of activity considering I had nothing loaded save Outlook and Word, plus a few background apps. At the time, I didn't have a Rainmeter skin that lists the top processes by CPU and memory. So instead, I went into the Task Manager, and under Performance selected the Resource Monitor. Under the Processes tab, the culprit showed its face immediately: AppleMobileDeviceService.exe. It was consuming a ridiculous amount of threads and CPU cycles.
The only way to turn it off is to go into Windows Services and turn off the service.
There’s just one problem. I use an iPhone. I can't disable it. But doing so for a little while dropped the CPU meters to nothing. So I now have more motivation to migrate to a new phone beyond just having one with a larger screen. This problem has been known for years. AppleMobileDeviceService.exe has been in iTunes since version 7.3. People complained on the Apple boards more than two years ago that it was consuming up to 50% of CPU cycles, and thus far it's as bad as it always has been. Mind you, Mac users aren't complaining. Just Windows users."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "Although multiple manufacturers are expected to release smartphones with flexible display screens by the end of this year, the technology will be little more than a novelty until about 2015, one analyst says. Raza Ali, an analyst at Visiongain, authored a report released in February that forecasted the market for flexible display technology to reach $260.3 million by the end of 2013. That may not come as much of a surprise, with LG planning to ship its first flexible displays later this year and Samsung drumming up publicity with its flexible YOUM prototype at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
But manufacturers need to overcome a few obstacles, First, they need to make smartphone components that are flexible, because a device with a flexible screen is useless if the rest of the device isn't, Ali says. They'll also need to keep the cost low enough for manufacturers to mass produce the devices, and cost has been an issue since flexible displays were invented."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "The team behind Ubuntu Touch (aka “Ubuntu for Phones”) have committed to pushing forward to a ready-to-use version of the OS, one that the group will use to "eat their own dog food," by the end of May. What that means: Over the next few weeks, the team behind Ubuntu Touch is going to be attempting to implement enough functionality to make it possible to use Ubuntu on your phone (such as the Nexus 4) on a day-to-day basis. At which point their development team will be doing exactly that.
So what features are they going to be working on? Making and receiving calls and SMS messages; using the web browser on both 3G and Wi-Fi; the ability to import, add, and edit contact data, with contacts retained even after updating the handset OS (something pretty critical when we're talking about an early “in development” system that is likely to be updated on a pretty rapid basis)."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "Lack of a Start button is the biggest Windows 8 criticism for users on non-touch devices. Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller recently told The Verge, "We have heard that, we definitely have heard that and taken that into account. We've really also tried to understand what people are really asking for when they're asking for that."
"We knew there would be a learning curve with Windows 8," admitted Microsoft VP for Windows Julie Larson-Green at the Wired Business Conference. She is in charge of bringing Windows to the "mobile age" and may even be a candidate to eventually follow Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft. For now, Larson-Green is the head of Windows Engineering and is "tweaking the design and layout of Windows to free it from the desktop and allow people to better incorporate it into their lives through mobile devices." She explained that Windows 8 was designed for mobile, compared to Windows 7, which was "optimized for the laptop." She insisted that people want to be mobile, yet added that Microsoft is "not going to be stubborn" when it comes to Blue."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "I have spent the last couple of days at the StarEast conference, listening to people explain to a roomful of testers about modeling workflows and data transitions, managing test environments in the cloud, writing automation scripts for regression tests, best methods for exploratory testing, running mobile test lab. And as I look around the room at the raw intelligence of the people who are not only absorbing that information but probing deeper into it during the Q&A sessions, I have to wonder how much easier their careers could have been if they had been able to major in Software Testing in college.
It’s time to give employers a testing workforce that is competitive and trained so they can stand toe-to-toe with the development team. Imagine the power of being able to hire a recent college graduate who has been taught how to develop system diagrams, build complex SQL, run log analysis, set up a cloud test environment, and write automation scripts. No more crossing your fingers that this eager young face in front of you can really pick up those skills, and no more investing so much time and money in training them on the job. We ask no less from Technical Writing and Development. Why do we have such different expectations for one of the most important functions on the team?"Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "Package management on Linux is a pretty amazing thing. But building new packages (and new scripts to generate those packages) can become a major time sink. And which formats/distros do you create them for? Ubuntu 32bit .deb? Fedora 64bit RPM? After you start taking all of the various incarnations, of just the major versions of, the major distros into account... you've got a lot of work ahead of you.
Luckily, there are some ways to make this whole process a bit less painful. One of the most mature and flexible being the Open Build Service, which is part of the openSUSE project. And they have just announced version 2.4 of their package-building solution.Let's say you want to release a new version of your software. You put the files up in the Open Build Service (which is, as you might have guessed, Open Source) – or the public instance which is in place at build.opensuse.org – then you create your configuration and utilize their web interface to automatically create the packages you'd like. Now, here's the cool part: You can tell it to create packages not to use for openSUSE... but for Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora and plenty of others. And, as of version 2.4, it will build for Arch as well (in the form of PKGBUILD)."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "security researcher @TibitXimer complained about a horrible user experience after losing control of his Skype account six times in one day. In fact, Ximer says Skype recovery mechanisms are so inadequate that "anyone can steal your Skype account" by providing: "3-5 of your contacts on skype, 1 email you've used on skype at any point, and your first and/or last name."
Unsurprisingly, Skype Support disagrees with Ximer about how easily Skype accounts can be hijacked by social engineering the support team. "Skype CS is looking into your case. Our unlock policy does in fact require more than just the information you have quoted and we are checking where the failure happened during the required steps of verification."
Other Skype users on the forum pointed out that there are guides for sale that explain how to easily exploit Skype Support and steal accounts. Ximer said Skype Support has now suspended his account while the matter is being investigated. He added that Skype account hijacking has also "happened to many members of a forum I'm on all in the same week," before providing a screenshot of other users complaining about it. He then wrote, "This was a massive failure by Skype support. While they may ask more questions during the verification process, they did not require that all questions were answered. Majority of the time they only required those 3 steps as enough for the verification of the account owner.""Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "As the iTunes Store celebrates the 10th anniversary of a very successful run, it may have fallen too far behind competing services to survive in the next 10 years. Currently, iTunes’ share of online music sales stands at 63%, its lowest figure since 2006 and a steep drop from its peak of 69% in 2010, according to market researchers at the NPD Group. And while Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go and all the other competitors keep signing up new customers, only rumors have emerged about an Apple streaming service, and they aren't very flattering.
Apple will reportedly use a streaming service to drive sales of songs on iTunes, and will use advertisements to help boost revenues even further. That may appease content providers, but consumers who can pay for unlimited access to Spotify's library without advertisements wouldn't even consider it.
By the time Apple does get its streaming service off the ground, customers will be too entrenched in competing services to be swayed by another that doesn't offer any advantage. As the concept of "owning" content becomes more outdated, so will iTunes."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "A 3D-printed gun capable of firing multiple rounds may be unveiled soon. Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old founder and director of nonprofit organization Defense Distributed, recently told Mashable that the end product of Wiki Weapon, the initiative to create an operational 3D-printed gun, may soon be ready to unveil to the public. In a March interview with CNN, Wilson said he hoped to have a printable gun ready by the end of April, so his most recent comments suggest that he may fulfill that promise.
While Wilson was sparse with details, he did tell Mashable that the prototype would be a handgun consisting of 12 parts made out of ABS+ thermoplastic, which is known for its durability and is commonly used in industrial settings. The firing pin would be the only steel component of the 3D-printed gun, which will be able to withstand a few shots before melting or breaking. Wilson reportedly anticipates making an official announcement soon."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "No one is saying Steve Ballmer will be out of a job tomorrow as a result of ValueAct's $2 billion purchase of Microsoft stock, but it is interesting to hear ValueAct's CEO talk about why he bought such a large chunk of Microsoft in the first place.
ValueAct says its investment strategy involves targeting companies that are "fundamentally undervalued, and then working with management and the company’s board to implement strategies that generate superior returns on invested capital." Where ValueAct wants to go is interesting. Bloomberg quotes ValueAct CEO Jeffrey Ubben as saying "In three to five years, which is our time horizon, we’ll stop talking about PC cycles and instead talk about Microsoft as the largest cloud-computing company in the world."
CNBC pundits have speculated that ValueAct would work with Ballmer and the board behind the scenes long before anything went public, which I understand. But history tends to show that investors like this do inevitably get involved. It might be a sale (not likely) or a change in executives or strategy, but eventually, major investors like ValueAct do make their presence known and felt. And no, it's not in your best interests, it's in the best interests of their investment."Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigation Report is out and includes data gathered by its own forensics team and data breach info from 19 partner organizations worldwide. China was involved in 96% of all espionage data-breach incidents, most often targeting manufacturing, professional and transportation industries, the report claims. The assets China targeted within those industries included laptop/desktop, file server, mail server and directory server, in order to steal credentials, internal organization data, trade secrets and system info. A whopping 95% of the attacks started with phishing to get a toehold into their victim's systems. The report states that, "Phishing techniques have become much more sophisticated, often targeting specific individuals (spear phishing) and using tactics that are harder for IT to control. For example, now that people are suspicious of email, phishers are using phone calls and social networking." It is unknown who the nation-state actors were in the other 4% of breaches, which the report says "may mean that other threat groups perform their activities with greater stealth and subterfuge. But it could also mean that China is, in fact, the most active source of national and industrial espionage in the world today.""Link to Original Source
colinneagle writes "During a recent trip to an eye doctor, I noticed that she was still using Windows XP. After I suggested that she might need to upgrade soon, she said she couldn't because she couldn't afford the $10,000 fee involved with the specialty medical software that has been upgraded for Windows 7. Software written for medical professionals is not like mass market software. They have a limited market and can't make back their money in volume because there isn't the volume for an eye doctor's database product like there is for Office or Quicken.
With many expecting Microsoft's upcoming end-of-support for XP to cause a security nightmare of unsupported Windows devices in the wild, it seems a good time to ask how many users may fall into the category of wanting an upgrade, but being priced out by expensive but necessary third-party software. More importantly, can anything be done about it?"Link to Original Source