Apps and Mobile Ads Make Surveillance Easy

Apps and Mobile Ads Make Surveillance Easy  [Source: MIT Technology Review]

From the article:

It is often difficult to tell whether an app is using encryption or not to transmit data. Web browsers show a padlock icon next to a site’s Web address if it is using encryption, but there is no such equivalent for mobile apps. Manually checking whether a mobile app is securing data transfers involves inspecting network logs to examine how an app is connecting to servers.

This is something that’s been rolling in my head, and is the subject of an upcoming paper I’m writing about privacy and the need for a system to at least notify us of the granularity of the data being “exported”.  It would also help to able to somehow independently verify that the data being sent across in secure, without resorting to a deep packet inspection of outbound data.

My first Mac (Mac 512k)

My first Mac (Mac 512k)

Apple is running a little retrospective on their site today as it is the 30-year anniversary of the release of the first Macintosh.  That so much of my life has been driven and changed by computers and technology–it’s kind of scary to think about it now.  I think of (honestly) all the things I’ve been able to create on a Mac that may not have been generated in the first place.

My first Mac was a Macintosh 512k.  It was released in 1984 and shipped with System Software 4, though this could be improved with the 20 Mb hard drive that was an optional “accessory”.  My parents purchased one used as a deal when I was 5, so that must’ve been 1988-89.  After coming from a TRS-80 with a yellow-tint monochrome display, the Mac was a treat.  It had a one-button mouse with a satisfying click.  It allowed us to plug in an external Hayes 1200 bps modem and connect to the rest of the world.  The 20 Mb HDD was a large as the base of the Mac and fit underneath it as a pedestal. (more…)

Gabe Newell Says He’ll Do A Reddit AMA

Gabe Newell Says He’ll Do A Reddit AMA If Charity Reaches $500k. Source: Kotaku

From the article:

[…]So Newell has agreed to participate in one of Reddit’s greatest services, the frankly-titled Ask Me Anything. Once his charity hits $500,000 in hospital donations—which should be easy, considering this is Gabe Newell and the Internet—he’ll let anyone ask him questions about life, the universe, and Half-Life.[…]

Alright, so I think this is an interesting gamble– the organization (Seattle Children’s Hospital) is fairly well known, and I can’t imagine anyone really having a problem with cardiac research.  The design on the site, The Heart of Racing is an exercise in a nice HTML5 design where you can pledge your money towards this race.  However, there seems to be no way to check the current pledges in process, or have some sort of estimate of how far they are away from their $5 million goal.  WTF?

How can you have a public facing goal (a public ask at that) and not include any sort of metric for how close they are to their goal?  I’m sure there’s some science around giving that shows that seeing how close you are to the finish line causes people to give more, potentially even just to kick them over the finish line themselves.  Generally, doesn’t every ask you see nowadays show you the milestones on the way to 100%? Kickstarter, Kiva, etc?

Garmin HUD Prototype

Hands-on with Garmin’s windshield HUD prototype Source: Engadget

A few years ago (Edit: Apparently 6 years ago; thanks Google!)  I had an opportunity to leverage a small mini-projector from Mitsubishi that was about 5″ x 3″ x 2″ H, throwing an 4:3 image from as little as 14″ away from the surface.  In requesting solutions and info from my vendor, I was told that the tech had first been pioneered for use in autos, as a HUD or Heads Up Display.  I was also told that while the tech was engineered to make drivers safer while driving, instead the display ended up causing more distraction than intended.

The accompanying video here shows that Garmin believes the problem all along has been UI, but I think really they just need some way to make info presented a bit more innocuous.  I’ll dig up a link eventually, but I feel like some car manufacturers are using HUD’s to display infrared camera input at night, so you don’t hit that deer for 50 points.

Back to the interaction bit: I don’t want these devices to have me force some input to them. I want them to intelligently interpret what I might need to know around me.  I find this is an incredibly simple concept, but hard to do the right way.

CES 2014: GM, Audi, Hyundai, Honda, nVidia officially join Google’s Android automotive push

CES 2014: GM, Audi, Hyundai, Honda, nVidia officially join Google’s Android automotive push (Source: AppleInsider).

And so, the Open Automotive Alliance was born.  I can’t help but feel bummed that Apple isn’t the one leading the pack.  While there have been some nifty integrations over the years (BMW’s iDrive comes to mind), there’s been this strange lag between this consumer hardware being used by everyone, and being utilized properly in the automobile.  As anyone who’s ever purchased or installed an “after market” deck will probably agree, this tech (and it’s lower price point) can’t gain popularity soon enough.

Incidentally, the deck was $900 USD Pioneer model, and never came with a single firmware update ever again.  Somewhere along the way Apple changed their spec for pushing out album art, and I’ve been staring at a silly color-filled screen, with no art ever since.  🙁

Pre-CES 2014 Thoughts

Pre-CES 2014 Thoughts

Coming this week the majority of tech-focused news outlets will begin their coverage of CES, the annual Consumer Electronics Show held each year in Las Vegas, NV.  There was a time in my life when I’d likely be on a plane today or yesterday, assisting a client and ensuring they had a smooth running 60 minutes of keynote time.  While I rarely do corporate events anymore, I do occasionally miss being in the thick of the show floor seeing what new things are (or not) coming out this year. (more…)