AMITIAE - Thursday 20 February 2014
Cassandra: End of the Week Review - Tesla, Patents, Updates, Fingerprint Technology, Prescience on What's App, More NSA Fallout
By Graham K. Rogers
Adding to this was a report on Electronista that has the idea that Musk was dancing around talk of acquisition.
There is of course much speculation on what it could all mean as the bloggers and news sites rush to outdo each other. One article that looks at the Apple-Tesla picture with a little sense is by Thomas Lee and David R. Baker on SFGate and they go over some of the possibilities, although including "to reignite growth" in the title is sucking up to the Wall Street crowd.
Along with this, Daniel Eran Dilger reports on AppleInsider that Apple is getting the next update to iOS 7 ready with some expected fixes, some enhancements, but also "a major overhaul of the Mobile Device Management mass deployment system" which will include a lot of other improvements here.
The release is expected around middle of March and I have seen 15th suggested, along with the OS X update. Some people think these updates may be linked and that there could also be a hardware announcement too.
Now, the steps Apple has taken to put the pressure on its suppliers has seen considerable change in its materials sourcing. As well as the BBC (which I reported about last week), Greenpeace is now praising Apple for the steps taken, Chris O'Brien reports for LA Times.
Apple is on a roll with scores of patents being granted in the last 3 weeks. The latest is a batch of 38, Jack Purcher reports on Patently Apple. The article details some of the more interesting ones, like a Health Monitoring Headset System and a Compact Power Adapter as well as 5 design patents and a long list of the others.
A patent reported on last week has some legs. Mikey Campbell reports on AppleInsider that the intelligent magnetic attachment system (as on the iPad case) might allow more uses, like connection and communication "with a variety of accessory devices, including other iPads." When I read that, I also wondered about the MagSafe connector on my Macs.
Another patent - there are so many for a company that does not innovate - is reported by Neil Hughes on AppleInsider concerning a MacBook with illuminated touch controls in chassis, bezel & frame. The patent details in the article explain how this might work and it is a question (it seems) of hiding controls when they are not used and would also have a virtual keyboard. Now where have we seen that before?
Well, what a surprise, Samsung is to have a fingerprint sensor on its upcoming Galaxy S5. FaryaabS on Sammobile has a look at this and it is to use buttons like another device we are familiar with. He is able to write this apparently with a straight face. Also commenting on this feature, and with some input on Synaptics is Mark Hachman on Macworld. It appears that the solution is "a clear sensor that can be placed directly under the LCD glass".
Related to the above - because it is another example of Microsoft and stupidity (bear with me) - is a report that I saw on HackerBot that cites a report on Microsoft use by a firm called Avecto: running with user rights instead of Admin would cut something like 90% of the risk from vulnerabilities. I wanted to slap someone for this; or slap myself on the forehead. This is how I run my OS X installations: working in a User account, and using the Admin password (not the account) when required. Remember too, OS X has no Root password by default. Some of those I advise run like this, but for many it is too much like hard work. Yes, missus, so is reinstalling a system.
I had a couple of reactions by email, with one asking me about servicing and repair of Macs. The other - from a senior doctor at a major hospital here - wanted me to provide information about using Thai fonts on a Mac. His colleagues had told him this was an area that was not compatible with Windows. Say what?
He is about to buy a MacBook Air now.
Commenting on the acquisition, Jim Goetz on Sequoia Capital, explained the 4 important figures involved, including 450 million active users; and only 32 engineers. Within hours I had received my first phishing email suggesting a voice mail from What's App.
As part of the fallout from the NSA revelations, it was announced this week that Germany and France are saying they want an EU-only Internet, Dan Worth reports on V3. This is a lot of posturing, but it does send a sort of message to the USA and its partners in crime. As the UK is in the EU - although it wants to opt out of inconvenient parts - that would not work, nor (really) would be the EU cutting itself off as the whole network is integrated; and each country has its own ways to deal with traffic. A bit of theatre here from Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande.
A lot of the major tech companies have been in the news concerning the NSA and possible turning over of data to the NSA, but Mike Wehner on TUAW reports on a couple of these companies with Apple showing the way on transparency, while Verizon, Sprint, and Comcast "lag behind". Apple produced an in-depth, updated transparency report, then Google and others followed, but not those telcos.
A while back, Glen Greenwald's partner was detained at Heathrow (London) for several hours under terrorism legislation, then almost at the end of the time-limit, he was released. A judge this week said that this was legal, despite too many questions and other examples of UK government bullying. An example of this was reported by Glyn Moody on TechDirt in an item that related the questioning of Snowden's lawyer at Heathrow in what is described as "intimidation."
One thing that strikes me about many of these attacks is that the hackers are using exploits that are known and therefore the IT personnel are just not doing their jobs. Mind you, IT persons have been selling the snake oil for years and despite the logins, passwords, accounts, cookies and all the rest, they are still serving up insecure sites.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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