As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.
North Korea partially back online
Some internet services have been restored in North Korea after a severe outage, amid a cyber security row with the US.
North Korea Internet Links Restored Amid U.S. Hacking Dispute
SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) – North Korea, at the center of a confrontation with the United States over the hacking of Sony Pictures, experienced a complete Internet outage for hours before links were restored on Tuesday, a U.S. company that monitors Internet infrastructure said.
New Hampshire-based Dyn said the reason for the outage was not known but could range from technological glitches to a hacking attack. Several U.S. officials close to the investigations of the attack on Sony Pictures said the U.S. government was not involved in any cyber action against Pyongyang.
U.S. President Barack Obama had vowed on Friday to respond to the major cyber attack, which he blamed on North Korea, “in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
Dyn said North Korea’s Internet links were unstable on Monday and the country later went completely offline.
“We’re yet to see how stable the new connection is,” Jim Cowie, chief scientist for the company, said in a telephone call after the services were restored.
“The question for the next few hours is whether it will return to the unstable fluctuations we saw before the outage.”
Meanwhile South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North, said it could not rule out the involvement of its isolated neighbor in a cyberattack on its nuclear power plant operator. It said only non-critical data was stolen and operations were not at risk, but had asked for U.S. help in investigating.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday the leak of data from the nuclear operator was a “grave situation” that was unacceptable as a matter of national security, but she did not mention any involvement of North Korea.
North Korea is one of the most isolated nations in the world, and the effects of the Internet outage there were not fully clear.
Very few of its 24 million people have access to the Internet. However, major websites, including those of the KCNA state news agency, the main Rodong Sinmun newspaper and the main external public relations company went down for hours.
Almost all its Internet links and traffic pass through China, except, possibly, for some satellite links.
“North Korea has significantly less Internet to lose, compared to other countries with similar populations: Yemen (47 networks), Afghanistan (370 networks), or Taiwan (5,030 networks),” Dyn Research said in a report.
“And unlike these countries, North Korea maintains dependence on a single international provider, China Unicom.”
NO PROOF, CHINA SAYS
The United States requested China’s help last Thursday, asking it to shut down servers and routers used by North Korea that run through Chinese networks, senior administration officials told Reuters.
The United States also asked China to identify any North Korean hackers operating in China and, if found, send them back to North Korea. It wants China to send a strong message to Pyongyang that such acts will not be tolerated, the officials said.
By Monday, China had not responded directly to the U.S. requests, the officials added.
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday it opposed all forms of cyberattacks and that there was no proof that North Korea was responsible for the Sony hacking.
North Korea has denied it was behind the cyberattack on Sony and has vowed to hit back against any U.S. retaliation, threatening the White House and the Pentagon..
The hackers said they were incensed by a Sony comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the movie studio has now pulled from general release.
Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, said of the outage in North Korea:
“There’s either a benign explanation – their routers are perhaps having a software glitch; that’s possible. It also seems possible that somebody can be directing some sort of an attack against them and they’re having trouble staying online.”
Other experts said it was possible North Korea was attacked by hackers using a botnet, a cluster of infected computers controlled remotely.
“It would be possible that a patriotic actor could achieve the same results with a botnet, however the President promised a proportional response,” said Tom Kellermann, Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Trend Micro.
“The real issue here is that nonstate actors and rogue regimes will adopt this modus operandi in 2015. The use of destructive cyberattacks will become mainstream.”
China is North Korea’s only major ally and would be central to any U.S. efforts to crack down on the isolated state. But the United States has also accused China of cyber spying in the past and a U.S. official has said the attack on Sony could have used Chinese servers to mask its origin. (Additional reporting by Meeyoung Cho in Seoul; David Brunnstrom and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Ben Blanchard and Megha Rajagopalan in Beijing; Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Signs of Life at Blackberry
Just when many had considered Blackberry dead, it is showing signs of life. The company took a wrong turn when it lost its focus and tried to chase the consumer market that rapidly became the domain of the iPhone and Android platforms. In the early days, it had some unique advantages — a QWERTY keyboard with real keys instead of a touchscreen, better security, faster speed, and longer battery life — the kinds of benefits enterprises and governments want. It appears that with the introduction of the Blackberry Classic, the company is going back to the future.
Where things started to go wrong
The seeds of Blackberry’s demise started from the beginning when the company (originally called RIM or Research In Motion) was product-driven rather than market driven. For the co-CEOs (another problem from a management structure point of view), the world existed inside the four walls of their company and in the heads of their “brilliant” product designers and developers. They were oblivious to what their constituents wanted. At the beginning, they were brilliant, and their Blackberry phone was so popular and addictive to members of its target audience that it was often called the “Crackberry.”
Formidable competitors entered the market
Apple entered the smartphone market with a virtual keyboard product it dubbed the iPhone. Not long after, Google copied the look and feel of the iPhone with its Android platform, which various manufacturers adopted rather than reinvent the wheel. The iPhone and Android quickly ate into the Blackberry’s market share.
Disparaging the competition
RIM did what many companies do when they lose business to formidable competition. They started to “badmouth” their competitors by calling them amateurs at the same time they copied the virtual keyboard and touch screen design of their products. In fact, when RIM introduced its Playbook tablet computer to compete with the iPad, it used the headline “Amateur Hour is Over.” The problem is that RIM shot itself in the foot with numerous journalists calling RIM an amateur. More importantly, the companies they were disparaging in their advertising — Apple and Google — became the most valuable tech brands in the world.
Years of floundering and mounting losses
The combination of disparaging competitors while emulating their designs and chasing after their consumer audiences backfired and started a downhill slide that saw the firing of the business founders and co-CEOs as well as considerable corporate instability and mounting loses.
Loss of brand identity
To make matters worse, RIM changed its corporate brand to Blackberry — the name of its formerly popular smartphone product line. This was a huge mistake that showed its underlying weaknesses in marketing. The name RIM was firmly established, and gave the company a flexible platform on which it could build other product lines. By changing the name to Blackberry, any negatives associated with the Blackberry product line or operating system would likely spillover to all other products and harm them too. That is what happened.
The advantage of company and product brand separation
Marketing-savvy companies use their company brand judiciously. It is the reason why the Coca-Cola Company called its original diet cola product — TAB, with no reference to Coca Cola in the name. TAB was a risky product because it used saccharin (the only artificial sweetener at the time), which left a funny after-taste in numerous taste tests. For similar reasons, Toyota called its luxury brand Lexus. In their market testing, they discovered that baby boomers (the key target audience at the time) remembered early Toyotas as small and ugly — images that were incompatible with a luxury brand. It is also why Clorox does not put its name on its Hidden Valley brand of salad dressing.
What is encouraging about Blackberry now
Blackberry’s new CEO, John Chan, is making moves that show he has a marketing brain. He has done research and discovered that the company’s key target audience is the enterprise market — comprised of business and government users and those that want keys on their smartphones. To satisfy the needs of this market, he has introduced the Blackberry Classic, which offers a QWERTY keyboard with real keys, better security, faster email, greater speed and longer battery life. What a novel concept. Be market driven, identify the audience that prefers your products over competitors, find out why, and give that audience what they want. When everyone else is “zigging,” or chasing after the consumer market, Mr. Chan has correctly surmised that it is perhaps a good idea to “zag” and target the enterprise market of businesses and governments. Also, what is great about Mr. Chan. He has given the financial markets a realistic view of where the company stands today. His predecessors seemed to brag and boast that they were going to take down competitors.
The outcome is already good
What is the result so far? Since he has taken over, Blackberry’s stock has risen 28 percent. Assuming there are no major hiccups and based on what I have seen so far, I think that Blackberry is moving in the right direction for the first time in many years. Finding out what the target audience wants (that it is not getting from competitors) and giving it to them is the right, market-driven approach. I wish Mr. Chan and Blackberry the best of luck.
Cyberwar or Cybervandalism?
The whole story would likely be rejected as a Hollywood plot, on the grounds that nobody would believe it could ever happen, even as comedy or farce. A dictator is insulted by an upcoming movie — a comedy about his own assassination — and he unleashes his hackers on the studio to take revenge, by posting their embarrassing emails and then prevents the movie’s release by making ludicrous threats to theaters? Preposterous!
Nevertheless, here we are, pondering how to react. The United States government will likely take some sort of revenge of our own, and we may in fact already be doing so. As I write this, there are stories circulating that North Korea’s internet (such as it is) is going haywire. What an odd coincidence, eh?
President Obama, in his year-end press conference, called North Korea’s actions “cybervandalism.” This outraged John McCain, who called the North Korean Sony hack an “act of war.” Others have called it an act of “cyberterrorism.” While on one level it doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference what politicians call it, the interesting thing is how nebulous these terms are, mostly due to their newness.
The basic concept has been around for a while, though. Ever since modern life (including the military) became reliant upon computers, people (Hollywood included) have pondered doomsday scenarios, from War Games to The Terminator (Skynet) to The Matrix. Two of those movies came out in the 1980s — Hollywood’s been having fun with this theme for a while, now. But nobody’s ever really accurately defined what does and what does not constitute an act of war delivered through computer networks.
Does hacking into a private entertainment corporation’s computer files constitute an act of war? Against whom, exactly? Japan, or the United States (remember: we are talking about Sony)? The very idea seems kind of silly. Or maybe not. Replace “entertainment” in that first question with “nuclear power” and it starts seeming a whole lot less silly and a whole lot more warlike. The nuclear power industry is run by private energy corporations, after all. The fallout from an attack on a private corporation could change from “being forced not to release a movie” to “actual, literal nuclear fallout” — a much different level of societal danger.
An attack on America’s power grid delivered through computer networks — even without bringing nuclear power plants into it — would likely be seen as an act of war by most Americans. If a blackout suddenly struck the East Coast at rush hour, many lives would be endangered and doubtlessly some deaths would occur as a direct result (just picture all those intersections without stoplights, for starters). If this were traced to a foreign malicious actor, my guess is that John McCain wouldn’t be the only one talking about cyberwar. If it involved screwing up the controls of a nuclear power plant that resulted, somehow, in a meltdown or release of radioactive material, there would be few who wouldn’t label it an act of war.
President Obama chided Sony for not releasing the movie anyway. It was fairly safe for him to do so, since the actual risk of a North Korean terrorist attack in U.S. theaters is fairly low. But what if the bad actors involved in this story had been Islamic terrorists? Would it have been so easy a call in that case? Many agreed with Obama in denouncing Sony’s cowardly behavior, but a few years back, very few American newspapers printed the cartoons mocking Islam that caused such a furor from Denmark. In that instance, seeing what the reaction had been, almost no American publication stood in solidarity for the rights of free speech and the right to publish material which offends religious sensibilities. So while it’s easy to denounce Sony today, when circumstances were a little different, fear ruled the editorial and corporate decisions. Sony gave in to terrorists out of their own fear, but when the fear was a lot more realistic and plausible, the American press — en masse — also gave in to fear of terrorism.
The Sony hack itself was not an act of war or terrorism. Neither was leaking embarrassing emails a terrorist act. The threats against the theaters were unequivocally terrorism, however. Threatening a civilian population to achieve military or political ends is one workable definition of what constitutes terrorism, and threatening violence on the opening day of a movie certainly seems to fit the bill.
But what if there had been no violence threatened at the theaters? When you separate out that part of what happened, you are left with an attack against a corporation. This attack wasn’t carried out for industrial espionage reasons — a whole category of computer mischief that most big companies have to protect themselves against. North Korea wasn’t trying to copy or profit off the files they stole, to put it another way. They were trying to inflict damage on Sony in order to pressure them to kill a particular movie. Some might describe that as corporate terrorism (terrorism against a corporation instead of a nation, in other words), but it doesn’t really fit the classic definitions of either terrorism or warfare. Again, this is an entertainment company and the email leaks were designed to embarrass them. Which succeeded, in fact. It might be seen differently if the company involved was building warplanes, or ships for the Navy. Or maintaining the electrical grid.
What I wonder, in all the debate, is how America would react if a foreign actor decided to introduce havoc into our production of nuclear weapons. My guess is that we wouldn’t be dithering over which term to use if that ever happened — if a virus were introduced which screwed up our uranium processing plants, for instance. The only debate, then, might be between calling it “cyberwarfare” or just a plain-vanilla “act of war.” Either way, we would agree that we had been attacked. We would probably seek revenge or retribution for such an action. We might even march our troops off to wage war against such a foreign country.
I bring all this up because there is one word that has been noticeably missing from this entire debate. The word is “Stuxnet,” and it is the name of a computer virus. In secret — with no public debate or discussion in Congress — America (and possibly Israel) may have developed this virus for a very specific reason, and then unleashed it on the internet to do its damage. The virus attacked one country in particular, and it targeted the machinery for refining uranium. The country was Iran.
Are we at war with Iran? No, not really. We certainly haven’t declared war or anything, and we have no “police action” or other warlike euphemism going on at the moment. And yet, if it is true that America had a part in creating Stuxnet (our involvement has never been officially confirmed, I should point out in all fairness), then we did all we could to destroy their centrifuges. If the same thing had happened to us, we would definitely call it an act of war. We might even go to war against the country that launched such an attack.
Defining new terms like cyberwarfare isn’t really the only issue at hand. America, once again, can really only hypocritically take the moral high road on cyberwar. Sure, we all like to get indignant over North Korea deciding what movies we are able to watch here in our free society, but we may have already done far worse to other countries. Mind you, I’m not saying that what Stuxnet did to Iran was or wasn’t the right thing to do — that’s a much larger argument than what I’m saying here. All I’m pointing out is that our hands might not be squeaky clean when it comes to cyberwar. The media and the politicians really don’t want to bring Stuxnet up in the midst of all our high dudgeon on North Korea, but just because we don’t want to talk about it doesn’t make it go away: we may have already done worse things than stop a foreign movie’s release. We’ll probably do so again in the future, if we think it’ll be effective.
No matter what you call it — cyberwar, cyberterrorism or cybervandalism — it’s not going to go away any time soon. It’s a reality of modern computerized life. We should all get used to the whole range of such attacks, because from multinational corporations to national armies to extortionists to greedy thieves, this mischievous genie is never going back into the bottle. Our enemies will continue to use it, and so will we, when we think it’s worth the risk.
Chris Weigant blogs at:
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The agents fighting online jihadists
The agents fighting online jihadists
No More Scrolling, Facebook Search to the Rescue
Your neighbors are throwing their annual over-the-top New Year’s Eve party and you want to wow everyone with an award-winning sweet potato soufflé pie recipe you remember reading last year on Facebook.
But you can’t remember who posted it and if the recipe called for ground ginger or fresh ginger.
Up until this past week, the ability to search for Facebook information that one of your friends posted was impossible, and the only way to find it required knowing the person who wrote it and scrolling through all of their posts; a very time consuming task.
Now those in the United States using Facebook on a desktop, or with the iPhone app, can find anything that has been shared with them. Other countries should have the option in a few months. Just type what you remember from the post you want to find and Facebook will give you back several results by posts, people, photos, pages, places, groups and even events.
So search for those award-winning recipes or that cool gadget a friend mentioned that you think your spouse would like. Your scrolling days are over.
This is a good time to check your privacy settings and read my article from last year “How to Prevent Facebook’s Graph Search From Costing You Your Job.”
The same way that you will be able to find posts and photos that have been shared with you, your friends will be able to find your content, even your old embarrassing photos.
If you need to review the privacy settings of your content, go to your Facebook profile, select the “activity log,” then click on “your posts” and you will see who has access to your posts. If you need to make changes, open the post menu, the small “v” on the right hand side, select “edit privacy” and select one of the three options: public, friends or more options.
The more options menu is where you will be able to share a photo to a smaller group of friends, if you have them as a list. In my case, all of my content is public, but I have a list of friends from college. If I only want to share a photo with them, under more options I can select that list and only those friend will be able to see it, or find it later with the new Facebook Search.
As you create content, add proper descriptions to help your friends and family understand your content now. This content optimization will also help them if they use Facebook Search in the future.
Don’t just add a photo and say, “This is an amazing park.” A better description would be “Great snorkeling at Biscayne Bay National Park. The park has one of the largest #coral reefs in the world.” If you use hashtags, all users, even those that are not your friends will be able to find your content.
As far as the sweet potato soufflé pie recipe I was searching for, I need 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and one 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced. Thanks Facebook Search!
Are you optimizing your content to take advantage of Facebook Search? How about the content for your business page? While I was searching for the sweet potato soufflé pie, I also found posts from a local TV station and a restaurant that mentioned what I was searching for. Increase the users that can find you by making your content public and use the keywords people search for. Do you have shareable content on your personal page and your business page that match what users are searching for? Add your comments below.
Julio Fernandez is Vice President of Search Marketing & Analytics for SocialShelfspace.com, a marketing agency that combines search engine optimization with influencer outreach to deliver measurable effects. His previous posts covered Google’s Knowledge Graph as well as Facebook graph Search and privacy issues. When not working on a search optimization project, Julio is looking for new recipes to try, and uploading food photos to Facebook.
E-readers 'damage sleep and health'
If you curl up under the duvet with an e-book for a bedtime read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health, US doctors have warned.
How GPS delivery is changing shopping
GPS brings the world to your front door
Time for Net Neutrality Opponents to Reconsider Their Position
For years, major Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have told the FCC and Congress that adopting strong Net Neutrality rules would harm investment and prevent companies from building out their broadband networks.
This is the central argument ISPs have made to prevent the FCC from adopting real open Internet protections.
And some legacy civil rights groups have echoed this claim, insisting that Net Neutrality would harm communities of color by deterring investment and widening the digital divide.
But over the past few weeks, this argument has been exposed as nothing more than a ruse meant to deceive lawmakers, regulators and the public.
Earlier this month, Verizon’s chief financial officer admitted at an investors’ conference that strong Net Neutrality rules treating ISPs as common carriers would not hurt investment:
“I mean to be real clear, I mean this does not influence the way we invest. I mean we’re going to continue to invest in our networks and our platforms, both in Wireless and Wireline FiOS and where we need to. So nothing will influence that. I mean if you think about it, look, I mean we were born out of a highly regulated company, so we know how this operates.”
This is a far different story than the one Verizon and the other ISPs have been telling in Washington. But the company was forced to tell the truth at this conference because it’s unlawful to deceive investors.
And Verizon wasn’t alone. CEOs and financial heads of Charter, Comcast and Time Warner Cable also said during the same conference that strong Net Neutrality rules would not discourage investment.
It might be surprising to hear these company leaders speak the truth, but we’ve known for some time now that the ISP investment argument was a lie. Indeed, groups like Free Press have been explaining this reality for years, noting that regulation is not a key driver of investment decisions.
The acknowledgment from the ISPs’ own top executives comes at a critical moment in the Net Neutrality debate, since the FCC is expected to decide soon whether to adopt real open Internet rules — or to allow ISPs to discriminate online.
And companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have spent millions lobbying Congress and the FCC over the past year to prevent the Commission from reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers — which is the only way to protect the Internet.
For too long it appeared that the industry’s false claims on investment were taking root. After the FCC’s rules were struck down last January, Chairman Tom Wheeler subsequently proposed rules that would allow ISPs to create slow lanes online for those that couldn’t afford to pay new tolls.
But Wheeler had to reassess his plan after a record number of people and dozens of members of Congress protested this approach. In November, President Obama called on the FCC to pass the strongest Net Neutrality rules possible. That meant, Obama said, treating ISPs as common carriers to prevent online discrimination.
Unfortunately, this public outcry hasn’t stopped the companies and their allies from continuing to push their dishonest investment argument in their effort to kill the open Internet.
Industry front groups like the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership continue to recite the industry’s deceptive talking points on this topic.
And the industry may also continue to draw support from legacy civil rights groups, even though parroting the ISPs’ false claims runs counter to what the ISP execs revealed to their own shareholders.
Many are surprised to learn that legacy groups like the NAACP and LULAC that oppose strong and enforceable Net Neutrality rules also enjoy a close relationship with the major phone and cable companies.
A new report from the Center for Public Integrity, for example, found that the National Urban League, which opposes real Net Neutrality, has received significant financial donations from industry players like Comcast.
The Comcast Foundation awarded nearly $2 million to the Urban League and its affiliates in 2012-2013. The Verizon Foundation gave $590,000 during the same period. Meanwhile, David Cohen, Comcast’s powerful executive vice president (and head of its foundation), sits on the Urban League’s board of trustees, as do representatives from AT&T and Verizon.
Given that the ISP execs have now debunked their own investment argument, will groups like the Urban League reconsider their position on Net Neutrality?
Or will they oppose President Obama’s call for strong rules?
Will they change their position considering how the open Internet has facilitated greater political activism and consciousness, especially among younger members of our community?
This activism has demonstrated that protecting the open Internet is a critical racial justice and human rights issue. The Internet has allowed Black and Latino activists to mobilize against unjust criminal justice and immigration policies.
This activism led Obama to grant millions of undocumented immigrants relief from deportation. And the open Internet has also enabled people to organize massive demonstrations against the police killings of unarmed black men and youth.
So as we enter 2015, perhaps it’s time for the civil rights groups that have aligned themselves with AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to make a New Year’s resolution and stop using industry talking points that have been discredited.
Instead, we hope such groups will join the growing number of racial justice leaders who are fighting to ensure our voices will always be heard online — and never silenced.
Marissa Mayer 'Balked' At Hiring Gwyneth Paltrow Reportedly Because She's Not A College Grad
Gwyneth Paltrow has won an Academy Award. She’s launched her own lifestyle brand, starred in dozens of movies and is worth tens of millions of dollars. But all that didn’t qualify her for a job at Yahoo.
According to Sunday’s cover story in the New York Times Magazine, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer didn’t want to hire the popular actress to be a contributing editor at Yahoo Food — at least in part because she never graduated from college.
“Even though the actress Gwyneth Paltrow had created a best-selling cookbook and popular lifestyle blog, Mayer, who habitually asked deputies where they attended college, balked at hiring her as a contributing editor for Yahoo Food,” the article reads. “According to one executive, Mayer disapproved of the fact that Paltrow did not graduate college.”
Mayer, who earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Stanford, took over Yahoo two years ago. Since then she has struggled to remake the company into the successful tech giant it once was, and some have been critical of her management style.
Paltrow reportedly dropped out of the University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue an acting career.
A spokesperson for Yahoo declined to comment. Representatives for Paltrow did not respond to The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.
Of course, a college degree can be quite helpful in landing a job, and college graduates tend to earn a lot more than their peers without a degree. But there are some very successful people without that credential. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard.
Still, we could see why Mayer might hold a grudge in this area. Just look at Tumblr’s CEO David Karp, who never even enrolled in college. Mayer bought Karp’s blogging platform in 2013 for $1.1 billion, and the deal hasn’t paid off yet in terms of increasing Yahoo’s revenue.
China Obliged by Its 'Internet Sovereignty' Policy to Aid U.S. Against North Korea
Last week in The WorldPost we published a piece by China’s Internet czar, Lu Wei, who argued for “cyber sovereignty,” or “Internet sovereignty.”
According to this view that China is robustly promoting worldwide, the Internet should operate under the laws and rules of the given nation-state across whose territory information is transmitted.
Lu also wrote that “It is the essence of the development of the Internet that the Internet should bring peace and security to humans [and] should deny access to criminals and terrorists.”
Internet sovereignty works both ways: If China wants its rules respected in cyberspace, it also has to respect the rules of the U.S. and other nation-states which, like China, outlaw criminal use of the Internet and threats of 9/11-type terror — such as those North Korean-sponsored hackers aimed against Sony and any Americans who might have summoned the courage to go to the cinema to watch “The Interview,” which lampoons North Korea’s leader.
Citing American intelligence sources, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the Sony hacking attacks were “routed through China” and thus any counterattack on North Korea “would impinge on Chinese sovereignty.”
By the logic of Lu Wei, and by his declaration against the use of Internet for criminal activity and terrorist threats, China is thus obliged to aid the U.S. in denying North Korea access to the means of launching the kind of attacks it has on Sony and America’s moviegoing audiences.
The case for action by China is even stronger if a report in The Daily Beast by Michael Daly is proven true. Daly claims that North Korean hackers are housed at places such as the Chilbosan Hotel in Shenyang, which is jointly owned by China and North Korea.
I know from many personal conversations with Chinese strategists that they are fed up with North Korea, a sentiment echoed earlier this month by Lt. General Wang Hongguang, who wrote in the official Global Times that “China has cleaned up the D.P.R.K.’s [North Korea's] mess too many times. But it doesn’t have to do that in the future.” Expressing a view I’ve often heard expressed in Beijing about North Korea, he also said “If an administration isn’t supported by the people, ‘collapse’ is just a matter of time.” And, he added, China is not anyone’s savior if they are bound to collapse.
China’s leaders need to look hard at the “Chinese Dream” they are trying to realize for their country and decide if that dream rests more on cooperation at this defining moment with the world’s other largest economy, the United States, or on an absurd and outdated allegiance to the bizarre and historically obsolete feudal regime of the Kim family in Pyongyang.
A new rules-based order for the 21st century — in which China is a leading partner — will not be conjured up in some academic seminar room at the Central Party School in Beijing or at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. It will be forged by necessity in decisive moments for China’s leaders like this one.
Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone Updated
Microsoft has released an update to their Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone. The update, version 8.1.7 for those keeping score, brings the normal bug fixes but also brings a new feature that heavy users will find a big benefit. Now you can pin apps to the Start screen on your Windows Phone. In addition to this, automatic refresh of Azure RemoteApp has been added to this update for those who use that service. The app is free and available now in the Windows Phone Store Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone – Free – Download Now
The post Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone Updated appeared first on Clinton Fitch.
Apple Makes $3B By Selling iPhones With Barebones Storage: Report
As you’ve likely realized by now, Apple’s good at getting your money. One surprising way the company has been doing that is by shortchanging you on storage.
If you buy the cheapest iPhone, the 16GB model, you’re asking for trouble down the line: slowdown, prompts to purchase cloud storage, and just not enough room for your apps and multimedia. Next time, you’ll learn your lesson and you’ll buy a more expensive iPhone with better storage. That’s where Apple gets you.
A new report published Thursday on Above Avalon, an Apple analysis blog, says the company will enjoy $3 billion in profit in 2015 because of its smallest model, which has been referred to as “handicapped” and “terrible.”
If Apple offered consumers more storage — 32GB versus 16GB — as the cheapest option, the company potentially would take a $3 billion hit, according to author Neil Cybart’s estimates.
“If Apple keeps doubling the lower tier, the lower model, at a certain point, most people are just going to buy that model,” Cybart told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. “For most people, that’s enough. The average selling price of the phone starts to decline. For Apple, that’s a longer-term concern.”
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Apple doubled the storage for the more expensive iPhones when it launched the iPhone 6 this year: the middle tier went from 32GB to 64GB and the top tier went from 64GB to 128GB. But it maintained the small 16GB storage at the entry level. The report suggests that the entire reason Apple produces the 16GB phone is to “get people to buy the 64GB option” the next time around. Once consumers are at the more expensive 64GB option, they usually become dependent on that storage level and stay there when they upgrade in the future.
Sixteen GB just isn’t enough for most people. The 16GB iPhone has been slammed for barely offering enough storage to comfortably run iOS 8, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, let alone whatever else you put on the device — photos and video, for example.
It’s no big secret that iPhone users love to upgrade models, which Apple banks on. If Apple expands the storage on the entry model, it risks giving consumers little incentive to move beyond the cheapest option in the future. Or worse, according to Cybart’s report, consumers would downgrade to the cheaper options when they upgrade models.
Down the line, that could impact the “average selling price” of the popular smartphone. As Chuck Jones, an industry analyst, explained on Forbes, Apple made money with its iPhone 6 launch in part because of the demand for greater memory. The 64GB iPhone 6 is $100 more than the 16GB, but Cybart told HuffPost it only costs about $15 more to produce — and that means profit.
Hands On: Calista (iOS)
Everyone’s familiar with current trends in photos that keep popping up across the Internet. One part indie-rock and one part Photoshop, their soft colors and multiple filters have become the new cool thing. Originally these images took time, effort, and at least a basic understanding of Photoshop. Now, however, something like Calista by ThinkSuit gives users the ability to make these straight from the comfort of a handheld device.
As North Korea Loses Internet, Anonymous, Others Question Whether It Really Hacked Sony
WASHINGTON — North Korea’s Internet service went down in a suspected cyberattack Monday, just days after the U.S. government blamed the country for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment and the White House said it was considering a “proportional response” to the crime.
Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at the U.S.-based Internet performance company Dyn, which first detected North Korea’s Internet problems, told HuffPost Monday that the explanation could be benign. But, he added, “another explanation is that [North Korea is] experiencing a DDOS attack” — that is, a distributed denial-of-service attack, a common type of hack.
“This does not look like anything that we’ve seen before,” said Madory.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, wouldn’t respond to questions about U.S. culpability Monday. Instead, she referred HuffPost “to the North Koreans for questions about their systems.”
The allegations of attacks and counterattacks, the non-denials and the unanswered questions add yet more chapters to an international drama that has engulfed a movie studio, derailed a Christmas-season blockbuster and pitted a totalitarian regime against the U.S. government. And no one seems to be exactly sure what is happening, or why.
On Friday, the FBI released a statement blaming the North Korean government for the massive cyberattack against Sony last month. President Barack Obama also said over the weekend that he was considering re-adding North Korea to the United States’ terrorist watch list.
But North Korea has continued to deny that it’s behind the Sony breach, and the group that has claimed responsibility — the hacking collective Guardians of Peace — is mocking the FBI online, according to The Daily Beast. Some security researchers, as well as members of the hacktivist group Anonymous, are questioning whether there is enough evidence to blame North Korea at all.
“I have yet to see evidence of North Korea behind this,” Kyle Wilhoit, a senior threat researcher at Trend Micro, a Japanese security firm, told HuffPost on Monday. Wilhoit argued that just because the FBI sees similarities between the code used in the Sony hack and other North Korean malware doesn’t mean it was the same attacker.
“The language of the binary (Korean) is a bad way to attribute anything,” he said in an email, adding, “I know the US likely has far more data they can’t share, but until I see some proof, I’m skeptical.”
Marc Rogers, head of security for the recurring hacking conference Def Con, argued in a blog post Sunday that the FBI’s claim that certain Internet protocol (IP) addresses point to North Korea “is perhaps the least convincing of all.” IP addresses, Rogers noted, “are often quite nebulous things.”
Meanwhile, Kim Zetter wrote in Wired that nation-state attackers “generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security” or post “stolen data to Pastebin,” as occurred in the Sony hack. “These are all hallmarks of hacktivists — groups like Anonymous and LulzSec,” Zetter wrote.
A hacktivist associated with Anonymous told The Huffington Post that “Anonymous doubts that [North Korea] did that Sony Attack.” As to who might be behind it, the hacktivist suggested “a troll or the U.S. government. Some people just want to see the world burn ” (Here’s the reference, for those unfamiliar.)
Another hacktivist associated with Anonymous, who goes by the Twitter handle @AnonyOps, told HuffPost that “unless these ‘unnamed US officials’ go on record and present the evidence, I’m suspicious.” AnonyOps added, “When it comes to malware, because so many nation states are some of the most prolific developers of it, I’ll wait until the proof is public.”
But other cybersecurity experts who are closely following the hack say the FBI’s North Korea claim may indeed have merit.
Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and CTO of CrowdStrike, which conducts data breach investigations, said that independent of the FBI, “we have a high degree of confidence ourselves” that North Korea was behind the attack. (He said he “can’t discuss” whether his company is investigating the data breach with Sony.)
Alperovitch believes the hack is the work of “Silent Chollima” — the name CrowdStrike has given to a group of North Korean hackers who have been active since at least 2006. Silent Chollima launched a major attack in 2009 against dozens of websites in the United States and South Korea. Alperovitch acknowledged that Silent Chollima hasn’t posted stolen materials on Pastebin before, as has happened with the Sony data, but said that “when you have a trail of breadcrumbs a mile long that’s all pointing the same direction and you’ve got a motive with the movie, it’s pretty clear that this is the same actor.”
In June, North Korea threatened to retaliate against the United States unless it agreed to not release “The Interview,” a comedy directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony had scheduled “The Interview” for a Christmas release date, although it’s now not clear when or in what form the movie might see the light of day.
Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton told NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Friday that he has hired Mandiant, a FireEye company, to do forensics on the hack. Richard Bejtlich, chief security strategist for FireEye and a former Air Force intelligence officer, said he is not allowed to comment on clients.
“I understand why some people” have doubts about attributing the Sony hack to North Korea, said Bejtlich. But he added that “they are holding investigators to a standard that likely exceeds those found in courts of law.”
All of which brings us to Monday, when North Korea’s Internet began suffering widespread outages. The White House had, in the days proceeding, ruled out what one Defense official described to The New York Times as a “demonstration strike” in retaliation. During a Monday briefing, Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, called on the North Korean government to “admit the culpability and compensate Sony” for the financial damage the hacks have caused.
But Harf also offered an interesting choice of words when discussing the administration’s possible response to the responsible parties.
“As the president said, we are considering a range of options in response,” she said. “We aren’t going to discuss, publicly, operational details about the possible response options — or comment on those types of reports in any way — except to say that as we implement those responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.”
Teen's Solution To Avoiding Awkward Questions During The Holidays Is Genius
“So… do you have a boyfriend?”
When you’re feasting at home during the holidays, cringe-inducing questions from your relatives are not only annoying, they can sometimes be downright invasive.
Lucky for you, Arianna Simon, a 17-year-old from Rockland, N.Y., created a brilliant solution for navigating these family events, while completely maintaining your sanity.
“I was talking to my mom about how much I hate answering the same five questions over and over during the holidays, so she hinted that I just make a handout for my family,” the teen explained in an email to The Huffington Post. “She was beyond shocked when I actually followed through with her idea.”
Lo and behold, this pamphlet was born before Thanksgiving dinner:
“When I handed them out on Thanksgiving, it was more of a gag joke than anything else. Everyone thought the idea was great and took it well,” said Arianna. “I was surprised though, because I didn’t have anything to talk about with some family members! Overall, I think the pamphlet was a hit and I loved not talking about the same things.”
So this holiday season, take a pointer from this teen by making your own handout and distributing as you see fit. And on behalf of holiday dinner-eaters everywhere, we salute you, Arianna.
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Lonely Dwarf Galaxy Spotted 7 Million Light-Years From The Milky Way
The Milky Way’s neighborhood is a bit more crowded than we thought.
Using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a Russian-American team of astronomers has discovered an isolated dwarf galaxy about 7 million light-years away from our galaxy.
Dubbed KKs3, the “dwarf spheroidal” galaxy is located in the southern sky in the direction of the constellation Hydrus. It’s the most recently discovered member of the so-called Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way as well as the Andromeda Galaxy and dozens of other galaxies.
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A negative image of KKs 3 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The core of the galaxy is the right-hand dark object at top center, with its stars spreading out around it. (The left-hand of the two dark objects is a nearer globular star cluster.)
As galaxies go, KKs3 is pretty small. It’s total mass is about one ten-thousandth the mass of the Milky Way, according to the astronomers. And it’s only the second isolated dwarf spheroidal galaxy ever observed in the Local Group. (The first, known as KKR25, was discovered by the same astronomers in 1999.)
“Finding objects like KKs3 is painstaking work, even with observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope,” Prof. Dimitry Makarov, of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia, and one of the members of the team, said in a written statement. “But with persistence, we’re slowly building up a map of our local neighborhood, which turns out to be less empty than we thought. It may be that are a huge number of dwarf spheroidal galaxies out there, something that would have profound consequences for our ideas about the evolution of the cosmos.”
The discovery was described in Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society.
North Korea's Internet Appears To Be Under Mass Cyber Attack
Internet connectivity between North Korea and the outside world, though never robust to begin with, is currently suffering one of its worst outages in recent memory, suggesting that the country may be enduring a mass cyber attack a few days after President Obama warned the US would launch a “proportional response” to North Korea’s hack against Sony.
This 'Drinking Jacket' Will Open, Hold And Chill Your Beer
Need a last minute gift this holiday season? Self-proclaimed professional drinker Zane Lamprey has you covered with The Drinking Jacket, just the latest Kickstarter built around a high-tech product meant to help you drink better.
The Drinking Jacket not only keeps you warm while consuming beverages but it boasts a bunch of accessories to tend to your drinking needs. The jacket features a sunglasses holder and a neoprene-lined “beer koozie” breast pocket:
A bottle opener zipper
Slip-resistant drinking mitts
An inside pocket that can