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[September 04, 2014]
Boot up: not inventing email, cloud v loss, Hoboken schools dump laptops
(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team Why is Huffington Post running a multi-part series to promote the claims of a guy who says he invented email? >> Techdirt Mike Masnick: Back in 2012, we wrote about how The Washington Post and some other big name media outlets were claiming that a guy named V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai had "invented email" in 1978. The problem was that it wasn't even close to true and relied on a number of total misconceptions about email, software and copyright law. Ayyadurai and some of his friends have continued to play up the claim that he "invented" email, but it simply was never true, and it's reaching a level that seems truly bizarre. Ayyadurai may have done some interesting things, but his continued false insistence that he invented email is reaching really questionable levels. And, now it's gone absolutely nutty, with the Huffington Post running a multi-part series (up to five separate articles so far -- all done in the past 10 days) all playing up misleading claims saying that Ayyadurai invented email, even though even a basic understanding of the history shows he did not.
We have tweaked the headline slightly from the original because UK publications do not enjoy the US First Amendment. Excellent reporting by Masnick.
Not Safe For Not Working On >> Dan Kaminsky's Blog The reality is that cell phone designers have heard for years what a painful experience it is to lose data, and have prioritized the seamless recovery of those bits best they can. It's awful to lose your photos, your emails, your contacts. No, really, major life disruption. Lot of demand to fix that. But in all things there are engineering tradeoffs, and data that is stored in more than one location can be stolen from more than one location. 98% of the time, that's OK, you really don't want to lose photos of your loved ones. You don't care if the pics are stolen, you're just going to post them on Facebook anyway.
2% of the time, those pictures weren't for Facebook. 2% of the time, no it's cool, those can go away, you can always take more selfies. Way better to lose the photos than see them all over the Internet. Terrible choice to have to make, but not generally a hard decision.
So the game becomes, separate the 98% from the 2%.
So, actual concrete advice. Just like browsers have porn mode for the personal consumption of private imagery, cell phones have applications that are significantly less likely to lead to anyone else but your special friends seeing your special bits. I personally advise Wickr, an instant messaging firm that develops secure software for iPhone and Android. What's important about Wickr here isn't just the deep crypto they've implemented, though it's useful too. What's important in this context is that with this code there's just a lot fewer places to steal your data from. Photos and other content sent in Wickr don't get backed up to your desktop, don't get saved in any cloud, and by default get removed from your friend's phone after an amount of time you control. Wickr is of course not the only company supporting what's called "ephemeral messaging"; SnapChat also dramatically reduces the exposure of your private imagery (with the caveat that with SnapChat, unlike Wickr, SnapChat itself gets an unencrypted copy of your imagery and messaging so you have to hope they're not saving anything. Better for national intelligence services, worse for you).
Microsoft's assault on cheap Android tablets starts this week >> The Verge Microsoft promised cheaper Windows tablets with its "Windows 8.1 with Bing" option for manufacturers, and they're now starting to arrive. Toshiba is one of the first to announce a 7in Windows tablet this week at the IFA tradeshow in Berlin, signalling a new price point for mainstream manufacturers to battle the cheap Android alternatives. The new Encore Mini is a 7in (1024 x 600) Windows 8.1 tablet running a quad-core Intel Atom processor with 16GB of internal storage and an SD slot if you need more space. It's a pretty bare-bones machine, but it's priced accordingly: it retails for just $119.99 and is available now.
Start from the hypothesis that (really) cheap Android tablets are bought for a few apps and watching sideloaded TV shows. Does this do the job any better? If that hypothesis doesn't suit, what are cheap Android tablets bought to do, and how well would a Windows one replace that? Apple should be more transparent about security >> TechCrunch Matthew Panzarino: In each of these [cited security flaw] cases, Apple fixed vulnerabilities, released support notes or patched bugs. But in almost all cases, and many others over the years, the company was as opaque as possible about explaining the details of security issues, reluctant to admit to them publicly and very unresponsive to independent security researchers. That leads to misunderstandings and FUD about the extent of the problems and the risks involved for users.
This needs to change or it will continue to happen.
Security problems will continue to happen whatever - what Apple needs is to change the character of its security interaction. The problem is that would make it different from its generally secretive corporate culture. It's almost certainly no accident that Google has excellent user security and an open security culture.
Blocking consumer choice: Google's dangerous ban of privacy and security app >> Electronic Frontier Foundation Following the previous reports: Why is Disconnect Mobile being targeted? The problem lies in the fact that many online advertisers participate in this sneaky tracking in order to build up reading profiles of users for marketing purposes, whether users have opted in or not. As a result, Disconnect Mobile blocks these types of ads — even though ad-blocking is incidental to its primary goal. Because of this, Google has deemed Disconnect Mobile to be "interfering" with these sneaky third-party services — services its users don't want. In other words, Google appears to be interpreting its rules to mean that "apps that interfere with Google's business model" will be banned, rather than "apps that interfere with user security and privacy." By removing this app from the Play Store Google is putting its users at risk and sending the message that it cares more about its bottom line than its users' security.
You can still get it for iOS...
Why Hoboken, NY, is throwing away all of its student laptops >> WNYC Jill Barshay: By the time Jerry Crocamo, a computer network engineer, arrived in Hoboken's school system in 2011, every seventh, eighth and ninth grader had a laptop. Each year, a new crop of seventh graders were outfitted. Crocamo's small tech staff was quickly overwhelmed with repairs.
We had "half a dozen kids in a day, on a regular basis, bringing laptops down, going 'my books fell on top of it, somebody sat on it, I dropped it,' " said Crocamo.
Screens cracked. Batteries died. Keys popped off. Viruses attacked. Crocamo found that teenagers with laptops are still… teenagers.
"We bought laptops that had reinforced hard-shell cases so that we could try to offset some of the damage these kids were going to do," said Crocamo. "I was pretty impressed with some of the damage they did anyway. Some of the laptops would come back to us completely destroyed." Crocamo's time was also eaten up with theft. Despite the anti-theft tracking software he installed, some laptops were never found. Crocamo had to file police reports and even testify in court.
Hoboken school officials were also worried they couldn't control which websites students would visit. Crocamo installed software to block pornography, gaming sites and Facebook. He disabled the built-in web cameras. He even installed software to block students from undoing these controls. But Crocamo says students found forums on the Internet that showed them how to access everything.
"There is no more determined hacker, so to speak, than a 12-year-old who has a computer," said Crocamo.
Two Factor Auth List >> Twofactorauth A handy list to have by you if you're wondering whether a service supports 2FA. (Though that's not the end of the security story, of course.) What I use instead of Google services >> Gabriel Weinberg: Weinberg is the proprietor of search engine DuckDuckGo, but also uses lots of non-Google services (which he cites). He adds: it should be noted (and I may expand in a future post) that Google is fundamentally different than other companies (including other big companies) in terms of how they are embedded in the Internet outside of their consumer services. In other words, even if you opt-out of all Google consumer services, you are likely still being heavily tracked by them through Google Analytics embedded on tens of millions of sites and their external ad networks (AdMob, DoubleClick and AdSense) embedded in millions of apps and sites. (Browser add-ons can help reduce this passive tracking.) The point is though that given how deeply Google is embedded on non-Google sites, switching all your consumer services to another ecosystem is a privacy win. I am significantly more diversified than that, however.
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