Tag Archives: Android

The Apocalypticon ~ Mystery red in the White House, Putin’s hints, climate, ‘iPad’, Windows 10, terror tactics, Android, spring cleaning for security


Mystery red light flickering in the White House — Internet-fuelled conspiracy theories have plagued US politics over the last year and made voters on both sides of the aisle appear to be reactionary maniacs. But conspiracy theories can also be fun. And the entirely benign saga of red lights flashing in the windows of the second-floor residence of the White House (below) is about as fun as these things get.
~ It’s flashing SOS …

Putin hints at Russian hacking of the US election — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year to help the presidential campaign of Donald J Trump. Putin continued to deny any state role, but his comments to reporters in Saint Petersburg were a departure from the Kremlin’s previous position: that Russia had played no role whatsoever in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and that, after Mr. Trump’s victory, the country had become the victim of anti-Russia hysteria among crestfallen Democrats.
~ Which hints to me that Putin has realised that investigators will soon prove links. 

Australian scientists react to more Trump narrow-minded idiocy — Climate experts at The Australian National University have weighed in on what the potential global fallout would be if Trump does pull the pin. For example, Associate Professor Nerilie Abram from ANU Research School of Earth Sciences: “There is no doubt in the science. The greenhouse gases that we are putting into Earth’s atmosphere are changing our climate.”
~ Ah, what do scientists know? 

North Korea creates ‘iPad’ — Ryonghung, a North Korean technology company, recently announced a new tablet. It looks a lot like the weird, firewalled computers the country has produced in the past, with the addition of one curious new feature: The name. It’s called… the iPad.

Windows 10 tracks “too much” — Are we surprised?

Android unleashed — As an engineer at the Apple spinoff General Magic, he built some of the world’s first internet-connected portable devices. As CEO at Danger, he created the Sidekick, a smartphone that defined the category before anyone had invented the term. And then, of course, Rubin created Android, the operating system found in more than two billion phones, televisions, cars, and watches. And he has new plans … and should you want to ditch your secure, powerful iPhone for a bug-ridden, mixed-up, non-standardised and insecure platform of wannabe copyism, here’s your guide.

Tech-created inequality can be solved … by tech — The inequality of badly-run or corrupt states is boosted by the power of technology, but it’s also easier than ever to destabilise these states, thanks to technology. The question is: which future will prevail?” As technology – specifically, networked technology – makes it easier for opposition movements to form and mobilize, even under conditions of surveillance, and to topple badly run, corrupt states.

Private security company used counter-terrorist tactics against Standing Rock — A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, reports The Intercept, decrying “the fusion of public and private intelligence operations.”

Finally, something positive: how to spring clean to make your devices less vulnerable — This is from Wired.

Review ~ Norton Security 2017 for Macs and iDevices


Serious protection for Macs and iDevices — How times of changed. Once we used to laugh (well, I did) at all those PC, then Android users constantly beset with viruses, malware, keyloggers (which record and transmit every keystroke you make) and other forms of security breach. We were always as susceptible to spam and phishing attempts, of course: these are usually just emails trying to fool you into going to a dodgy website or worse, to enter credit card details somewhere nefarious. (I’ve said it many times before but it’s worth repeating: New Zealand banks are NOT allowed to contact you via email for account details.)
However, despite stellar efforts by Apple engineers over many years to keep Macs and iDevices safe, Apple’s profile has risen and this makes it a much more attractive target. In fact, I thought the surge in attacks would have started about seven years ago. That it hasn’t is testament to those engineers and Apple’s increasingly powerful security measures, as irksome as all that password and two-factor authentication can be.
But now we’re definitely on the radar, whereas we used to be in the room next door with the flowers and canapés … you will notice Apple patching its system with little updates that seem to increasingly mention not just security, but actual exploits.
Macs are still safer than PCs, but we’re vulnerable now in a way we weren’t even two years ago.

One installation covers everything — Now, thanks to the venerable security company Symantec and its Norton brand, you can get one installation that protects not just a Windows PC with its long-proven susceptibility to malware, but also a Mac (macOS and the previous two versions) along with iPhone (iOS 7 and later) and Android smartphones, all from one pack.. This makes sense since a typical small business or family environment these days may have an iPhone, an Android smartphone, a PC, a Mac and who knows what else? Mixed environments, anyway. Of course, you can also just cover your iMac, MacBook, iPad and two iPhones …
Norton’s latest packs can be bought for one device, three or five, and all come with one-year subscriptions. The Security software defends against viruses, spyware, malware, phishing, software vulnerabilities, and other online threats. It’s a tall order covering the full gamut for PC and Android (hence the one-year subscription to be able to load all the new virus profiles into your defences). Be warned that only two or four Apple-centric ones might appear each year, and most of those are so obscure, many people don’t even hear of them, much less go into those cyber-spaces that might be infectious. From the moment you subscribe, a Norton expert is available to help keep your devices virus-free, or give you a refund. That’s pretty impressive.
More obviously useful, perhaps, is the level of defence to stop people getting into your machine, and/or data. Norton Security Premium works to safeguard your identity and online transactions and helps ensure that email or links actually came from trusted sources.
While most iOS software comes through Apple’s mediated and checked online App Store, Android’s market is much more Wild West. Norton security alerts you about risky Android apps before you download them.
Other features include helping you manage protection for all your devices via a web portal., protects your kids from unsafe content and can even manage and balance your kids’ time online and offline. It also guards against over sharing online.
You should have a 5GB (free) or larger (paid) iCloud subscription, but the five-pack offers 25GB to which you can automatically back up photos, financial files and other personal information in a secure way (iCloud is pretty secure, please note). You can add more storage to this if you need. 
You buy a product key pack, go to the link provided, enter the key code enclosed in the pack, follow the on-screen instructions and voila. You can also just buy the pack online and download all that you need with the product key you are sent.

Console — You can add devices easily from your Mac. The console loads from the top-right menu that installs with your Product Key. So it tends to suit a sort of master security person who then adds others to the system. Under Customize you can turn protection on or off, further configure the Firewall (which stops people infiltrating your device through networks), protect Safari, Firefox and Chrome browsers (includes warnings or blocking harmful websites, Phishing protection presuming you use webmail, and allows you to submit suspicious sites you might find), File Guard (add files to prevent people opening or modifying them), and Activity to show what activities Norton has been dealing with, allowing you to see potential attacks. Each has a little configure button beside it. You can also undertake a quick or deep scan as soon as you install, to deal with anything you may have picked up in the interim.
You can also sign in via this console to your account, where you can turn on or off the automatic subscription renewal (this process takes you to a secure account page at Norton).

Protection for iPhone — The worst thing that can happen with an iPhone is someone stealing it before the screen locks. Even the police have been known to snatch and grab to get access to data. Download Norton Mobile Security onto your iOS device from iTunes App Store, and then sign into your Norton Account to register your device.
Protection for your iDevice is pretty basic compared to all the android hopes it hast jump through what with their open system developments and unverified app stores and what not: it’s just anti-theft and backup (and backup’s already handled by your iCloud account, although this gives you more space). Backup only seems to handle your Contacts, though – important nonetheless. But iCloud securely backs up your list of iTunes-bought bought music, apps and settings.
The anti-theft features are available via web and SMS to find and protect your lost device once you log into Norton’s website with your profile. You can lock your lost device from the Norton Mobile Security website or by sending an SMS; make a voice call over Internet to your iOS device; trigger an audible alarm to find your lost device if it is nearby; and finally locate a lost device on map or receive the location coordinates via SMS. You can also securely delete all your data and personal information on the lost device.
In some regions of the world (I could not ascertain where New Zealand sits in this), you can even take a snapshot using the device’s camera to help find a lost device, but this feature is not available through SMS, only online. However, users can upload and display pictures even when devices are locked.Conclusion — I have trialled security software before, and I always end up uninstalling it as 1/ until recently there have been no real threats, and 2/ I resented the subsequent impact constant scanning and updating had on my system. But I have to say, on my Mac and iPhone 6, I have become aware of no slowdown at all. So that’s a big plus.
But note you’ll be shocked how many – and how many times – what looks like innocuous software on your Mac is accessing the net (pictured above). You get to allow or disallow this activity.
You have to put your faith in Norton. For Symantec to find viruses before they infect you personally is quite a task, but hey, there’s that money-back guarantee. Norton has considerable resources online to help you install, uninstall, problem-solve and learn this software, plus that help line, so that’s all very positive.

What’s great — Protecting an iPhone, iPad and a Mac with one solution is smart.
What’s not — This kind of security does a lot more for a Windows PC, both from need and in features (ie, the Startup Manager and Rootkit Protection, whatever that is), than it will for a Mac.
Needs — People who don’t feel secure enough already; travellers; those with lots of precious data on their devices who don’t want to go through the constantly-evolving procedures to keep them secure on wifi networks etc and, particularly, mixed environments that are more vulnerable than just completely Apple ones.

Norton Security Premium for Five Devices – The five-license version currently costs NZ$134.99 (discounted from $169.99); the three-license pack is $104.99, and for one device $69.99. (If you do the maths, that’s $69.99 to protect one device, but if you buy a five-device pack that’s effectively $27 for each.
Norton Virus Protection Promise offers a 100% refund assurance. If your device gets a virus we can’t remove, you get your money back.

System — Current and previous two versions of macOS X. Password Management feature not supported. iOS 7 or later on iPhone, iPad, and iPod (and Android 2.3 or later, must have Google Play app installed, plus Microsoft Windows XP (all 32-bit versions) with Service Pack 3 (SP 3) or later; Vista (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later; Windows 7 (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later; Windows 8/8.1

Available from — retailers including Noel Leeming, or purchased online.

Apple Watch 487 — Numbers, lists and speculations


Californian smartphones need kill switches from next year
Californian smartphones need kill switches from next year

Lists galore — In the lead-up to an Apple announcement (there’s an ‘Event’ September 9th) all the Apple following sites tend to resort to lists. Macworld in particular – I’m not saying this is bad, they’re usually really interesting: best apps for preschoolers, uni students, best features of he forthcoming iOS 8 for businesses …

Los Angeles drops iPads for schools — Meanwhile, life goes on. In what must be a shock for Apple, Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy has suspended future use of a contract with Apple. This happened Monday 25th August. The deal was to provide iPads to all students in the the United States’ second-largest school system but scrutiny of the US$1-billion-plus effort had been mounting.
The contract had been approved just over a year ago. The terms meant Apple was expected to provide iPads with Pearson as the subcontractor. School board members were made to understand that the initial US$30-million contract was expected to expand to about US$500 million as the project rolled out over the following year. An additional US$500 million would be used to expand internet access and other infrastructure issues at schools.
The two main reasons Apple is now not in the pipeline is a deemed unsuitability of iPads in this environment (new electronic state tests were hard to read on iPad screens due to their size), but much more disturbingly, Deasy’s process looked, to critics, as if it had been skewed to favour Apple from the start. I’ll follow this with interest.

Californian kill switches — Meanwhile, California has passed a law mandating smartphone kill switches.
That means that smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen.
The demand is the result of a new law, signed into effect on Monday, that applies to all smartphones manufactured after July 1, 2015 sold in the state. The inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the US – and around the world.
Apple had, of course, already responded to this request by adding a feature called Activation Lock into its iOS 7 operating system. This already meets all requirements of California’s kill switch law except one: it doesn’t come enabled in new phones out of the box. That’s all that will have to change.

iOS 7 dominates iDevice users — With iOS 8 on the horizon, 91% of Apple users made the switch to iOS 7. This is very impressive, especially when you compare it to the Android world: there are currently five different versions of Android each holding 10% or higher shares of that market.
That means Google’s Android is more fragmented than ever, with three different versions of the platform representing two-thirds of all devices. This makes it hard for developers – which system to develop and test for? And it’s hard for consumers: which apps work on your particular system?
So on the one hand, Android users get the ‘freedom’ to play around with all these different system, while on the other, us iOS users are ‘trapped’ into a system most of us are using, which has a rock-solid testing and deployment process. I’m biased, of course, but it’s pretty obvious to me which one is preferable.

Windows 8 was no dragon slayer for Microsoft — Apple followers have been chortling over the almost constant reports for other tech analysts that Apple has messed up, about to die, missed the boat etc. Of course, all these things might be true, at least one day, but the style of reporting certainly shows a strong pattern. Some put Apple down by championing competitors in the strongest of terms as, finally, real ‘Apple beaters’.

An example is Zach Epstein. He postulated that Microsoft’s Windows 8 would be the Mac and iPad killer all rolled into one. In the Boy Genius Report in 2011, he wrote “Apple paved the way but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8. A tablet that can be as fluid and user friendly as the iPad but as capable as a Windows laptop. A tablet that can boot in under 10 seconds and fire up a full-scale version of Adobe Dreamweaver a few moments later. A tablet that can be slipped into a dock to instantly become a fully capable touch-enabled laptop computer. This is Microsoft’s vision with Windows 8, and this is what it will deliver.”
Deliver? The same site’s Brad Reed now writes “Why did Windows 8 fail? … We know from well-connected Microsoft reporters and even directly from Microsoft employees that Microsoft knows it stumbled badly with Windows 8. Indeed, the Windows 8 brand has become so toxic that the company’s employees have reportedly dubbed it ‘the new Vista’.” Ouch.

HealthKit attracts medicos … and insurers — Meanwhile, it looks more and more like anything like a so-far imaginary Apple ‘iWatch’ will have a lot to do with medical and other sensory devices. And that’s the real impetus behind Apple’s June launch of HealthKit, which adds APIs and other services to a range of medical sensor makers and their related apps. Do you really want to monitor many aspects of your own body? I don’t – but I might one day. It certainly suits those trying to improve their fitness, but even more so, those with medical conditions … because conceivably this data could be shared with medical practitioners. They could get alerts when your heart rate of blood pressure go up, for example. They’ll call and say ‘Stop watching the rugby!’ Hah. Anyway, insurers seem to be getting into the concept too – these implications are discussed in a Mac Observer podcast.

China’s new OS — Finally, you may have heard that China has been deleting Apple devices from government agencies. Since Chinese tech companies haven’t developed their own operating systems that can compete with OS X, iOS, Windows, or Android, billions of dollars flow out of China, and Chinese security services feel like it exposes the country to espionage from the US National Security Agency (NSA).

So China is trying to develop it’s own OS based on Linux, which is ironic in itself. This is also discussed on the Mac Observer.

At the end of the day, I do recall that the Apple world remains an interesting hotbed of news, information and rumours.

iOS market share, Tricorder vs iPhone, Time Lapse, Minecraft,


iOS holds 88% share of enterprise apps, iPad 90% of tablets in Good’s business activations — Enterprise mobile services vendor Good Technology detailed in its latest quarterly report that companies continue to overwhelmingly prefer Apple’s mobile platform over Android or Windows Mobile alternatives. The firm also noted a jump in government adoption of iPads.

iPhone vs. Tricorder: seeing the future with blurred vision — It’s interesting to see how the blinders of the present affect our predictions of the future. The Star Trek Tricorder vs. the modern Apple iPhone is a case in point.

Time Lapse! beats iOS 8 Camera app to the punch — I’ve always been fascinated by time lapse photography, where you capture a still image a few times a minute, then create a movie with a very speeded-up effect. The 1982 documentary film Koyaanisqatsi is really striking with its creative use of time lapse photography. Apple is adding a time lapse function to the Camera app in iOS 8, but if you’d like to play around with time lapse photography now try Time Lapse! for NZ$2.59.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition’s evolution into a mobile juggernaut — Minecraft is an absolute sensation of a game, having sold more than 54 million copies across platforms and spawning all sorts of officially licensed doodads.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition for iOS and Android, the bite-sized, touch-centric take on the building block sensation, which had sold more than 21 million copies as of April. It makes sense on the surface: Pocket Edition is the lowest-priced version, and there are hundreds of millions of active devices that can run the game. But this is the same game critically shrugged off upon release less than three years ago, derided for being a hollow shell of the PC experience.