It’s Been Seven Months Since The Apple Watch With LTE Was Released And Rogers Still Lacks Support

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2018 by itnerd

We’re now about 7 months since the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE has been launched, and Rogers who is Canada’s largest telco still lacks support for it. Now I have said each time that I have talked about this that they risk losing customers over this as other telcos, most notably Bell, are looking to snatch their customers away from them. Now there appears to be definitive proof of that. Take these for example:

You’ll note the last Tweet is yours truly. Well, having switched from Bell to Rogers about 5 years ago because of Bell’s horrible customer service, I made the decision to go from Rogers to Telus so that I could get an Apple Watch with LTE. Now I was on a retention plan with Rogers which means the cost of using my iPhone 7 Plus is going to go up a bit. But Telus offered me a deal that will minimize that impact. Plus it will get even cheaper when my wife who has been a Rogers customer for almost 20 years moves to Telus this June and we leverage the Telus Family Advantage Plan to lower our costs to the level that we are used to paying. Why is she waiting until June? Her birthday is in June and she plans to buy an Apple Watch with LTE for herself as a birthday present. Assuming I don’t get her one first.

As for Rogers, the only reason that I can think of that they haven’t rolled out eSIM support (which the Apple Watch with LTE requires) yet is that they must figure that they might as well wait until the fall when the Apple Watch Series 4 (if that is what Apple calls it) makes an appearance. I can see from Rogers point of view why they might not want that as it would ensure that they wouldn’t get stuck with a large amount of Apple Watch Series 3 models in their inventory. Plus it would give them time to make sure that eSIM support is bullet proof. The cynic in me also says that they’re counting on their Q1 results where they gained 95000 customers on the wireless side of the business is going to offset any defections because of lack of eSIM support. But whatever their strategy is, it’s clearly costing them customers because all Rogers saying is that they “don’t have specific timing to share” which is frustrating to hear if you are a customer looking for a reason not to switch from Rogers. Meanwhile you’re buddies on Bell orTelus have the latest and greatest wearable from Apple. Add all that up and you get the PR disaster that Rogers is in where departing customers are taking shots at Rogers on social media as they leave. That from an optics perspective is craptastic.

Of course all of the above assumes that the only other possibility which is that they just can’t get eSIM support to work properly on their network for whatever reason isn’t in play. Which I hope for their sake it is not as that would truly end badly for them if that were true.

If I were Rogers, I’d come clean on what their plans are for the Apple Watch with LTE. Just lay it out there whether it is good bad or ugly. Because their current tactic of they “don’t have specific timing to share” isn’t working. But the truth might actually work because people like the truth. In short, unless they change course, many others will be joining me in leaving Rogers for another carrier. And that has to suck if you’re Rogers.

 

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When It Comes To Privacy For In Car Infotainment Systems, It’s An Open Question As To What Data Google And Apple Collects From You

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on April 20, 2018 by itnerd

The issue of privacy when it comes to in car infotainment systems like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay flared up again yesterday when it came to light that Toyota took a pass on Android Auto because of privacy concerns. They joined Porsche who famously did the same thing a few years ago.

That made me wonder if it is spelled out clearly what data either of these systems collects and how it is used. Why does that matter? I’d like to know if Google or Apple is motioning how aggressively I drive. And what they do with that information and who gets to see it.  Thus I spent a day looking around the Internet to see if such documentation exists. The net result of my research is that neither company does a great job of spelling out what data they collect via their infotainment systems and how it is used. To illustrate this, I want to use Tesla as an example of what I am looking for. Their privacy policy makes it very clear what they collect in terms of data. And they go into a great amount of detail about how it is used. That way, you know exactly what Tesla is doing. As far as I am concerned, this is the gold standard when it comes to this sort of thing as it removes any questions from my mind about what Tesla may or may not be doing.

Now let’s go over to Apple. They have a privacy microsite that is better than most and specifically mentions Apple CarPlay here where it says this:

All the rigorous privacy measures built into your iPhone and apps carry over to CarPlay. Only essential information that enhances the CarPlay experience will be used from your car. For example, data such as your car’s GPS location can be used to help iPhone produce more accurate results in Maps.

That’s something I suppose, but beyond that there’s no specific mention in their privacy policy or anywhere else on their microsite about what CarPlay collects and what is done with that information.

In the case of Google and Android Auto, I was unable to find anything that specifically mentions Android Auto, and I looked at the Android Auto site and their privacy and terms microsite which if you dig for bit lists pretty much every product that they make except Android Auto. Which means that I have no idea what info Google collects. And that’s a step behind Apple who at least gives me some minimal information on this front.

So in either case, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay fall well short of telling their users about what data they collect and how it is used when compared to Tesla. That’s a problem given how privacy and the security of data is now a top of mind issue. As a result, we’re left with rumor rather than fact. And that’s a huge problem for both companies if they want their infotainment systems to be adopted widely.

My challenge to both companies would be for them to make their data collection and usage policies for their infotainment systems as clear as Tesla does. At least when Tesla spells it out, I know what I am getting myself into up front assuming that I read the document. I believe that Google and Apple owe us the same.

So how about it Apple and Google? Will you do what’s right for users of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, or will you continue to keep them in the dark about what data you collect and how it is used in terms of those products? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

Facebook Execs Grilled By Canadian MP’s And Issue An Apology That May Not Stop Users From Joining Team #DeleteFacebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2018 by itnerd

Today, some execs from Facebook made a trip to Ottawa to be grilled in front of a House Of Commons committee hearing today. They got a rough ride according to the CBC. For example, when it came up that Facebook knew for two years that Cambridge Analytica swiped the data of tens of thousands of Canadians and the company did nothing, this happened:

Robert Sherman, deputy privacy officer for Facebook, conceded the company should have be more proactive in informing users that their raw data might have been used by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that helped the Leave campaign in the Brexit vote and the candidacy of U.S. President Donald Trump.

When asked why Facebook didn’t notify Canadians whose personal information was breached in 2016, Sherman said: “In retrospect, we should have done that.”

Kevin Chan, head of public policy for Facebook in Canada, offered an apology to Canadians whose profiles might have been compromised. Chan said Facebook was too idealistic — and “naive” — about how its technology is used, and didn’t focus enough on abuse.

“What is alleged to have occurred is a huge breach of trust to our users, and for that we are sorry,” Chan, ex-policy director for former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, told MPs on the House of Commons privacy committee.

Something else that came up is the fact that Facebook was taking steps to make sure that as many users as possible were not covered by GDPR which is something that I reported on this morning. As well as their feelings about GDPR. From there the grilling covered some veiled threats by Facebook to pull investments from Canada if there was too much regulation placed on the company:

Conservative MP Peter Kent questioned Facebook’s professed openness to tighter regulations or a strengthened Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), saying Canadian MPs were recently warned by Facebook officials in Washington, D.C. that such a move could result in Facebook dialling back its investments in Canada — notably its $7 million financial commitment to the artificial intelligence (AI) research hub in Montreal.

“We were told, almost in passing, that any new Canadian regulations might well put at risk Facebook investments in Canada,” Kent said. “I’m wondering if that same caution would still be made?”

Chan strenuously denied investment decisions are being tied to a country’s regulatory burden. “That is not our view, that is not the representation we would have made. In fact, we’re quite proud to be supporters of AI in Canada.”

Reached for comment later, Kent stood by his description of the initial warning from Facebook officials.

That’s the first time I’ve heard of a threat like that. But I’m not surprised by that as any sort or regulation could potentially hurt Facebook’s ability to make money. Finally, they were apparently caught potentially violating lobbying rules:

Chan also was questioned by NDP MP Charlie Angus about why he hadn’t yet registered as a lobbyist, given the fact that he’s met with senior cabinet members, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

The former Liberal aide said it wasn’t necessary for him to register since the portion of his work that could be classified as lobbying falls short of the Lobbying Act’s 20 per cent minimum threshold.

He added that the meeting with Morneau was simply to show him how best to use the Facebook Live function of the platform after the release of the federal budget. That prompted Angus to ask if Chan thought that sort of activity was a good use of his time.

Duff Conacher, the co-founder of Democracy Watch, said Thursday he’d be filing an official complaint with the lobbying commissioner over Chan’s failure to register, asking that an investigation be launched into Facebook’s activities in Ottawa.

Oops. That may not end well for them.

Clearly this was not a good day for Facebook in the nation’s capital. And this may encourage Canadian Facebook users to #DeleteFacebook.

Facebook Feature That Allows You To Log Into Other Sites Is Pwnable By The Bad Guys…. That May Make You #DeleteFacebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2018 by itnerd

Here’s the latest negative thing to hit Facebook. Steven Englehardt in partnership with Gunes Acar and Arvind Narayanan have found that a Facebook users’ data, including names, email addresses, age range, gender, location and profile picture, could be acquired up by third-party JavaScript trackers on websites making use of the ‘Login with Facebook’ feature. The researchers couldn’t say for sure what the third-party trackers were doing with the data though. But the fact that this is possible at all is problematic given the events of the past few weeks with the data leakage scandal.

The researchers noted that Facebook was not to blame for this situation, nor was it a security hole, but it does highlight some privacy problems. Thus it would be nice if Facebook did say something about it. But having said that, there is a list of sites which have a third-party script which includes functionality to access Facebook data. That way you can steer clear of them.

Or you can use this as another reason to #DeleteFacebook.

 

Facebook Working To Put 1.5 Billion Users Out Of Reach Of The EU’s GDPR Regulations….. Cue The Cry To #DeleteFacebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 19, 2018 by itnerd

Facebook really isn’t going to win hearts and minds with this latest move. Reuters has uncovered a move by the social media company to make changes so that 1.5 billion of the 1.9 billion users of Facebook will not covered by the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect in the EU on May 25. How are going to do that? Here’s how:

Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are currently governed by terms of service agreed with the company’s international headquarters in Ireland.

Next month, Facebook is planning to make that the case for only European users, meaning 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25.

The previously unreported move, which Facebook confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday, shows the world’s largest online social network is keen to reduce its exposure to GDPR, which allows European regulators to fine companies for collecting or using personal data without users’ consent.

That removes a huge potential liability for Facebook, as the new EU law allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions, which in Facebook’s case could mean billions of dollars.

That’s pretty crafty if I may say so. It also proves that it’s back to business as usual for Facebook now that the Mark Zuckerberg apology tour has ended. Let’s face it, GDPR would negatively impact their business model so Facebook is doing everything possible to fight it. Which means that if this really bothers you, the choice is clear. Either live with the fact that you’re dealing with a company that doesn’t take your privacy seriously, or #DeleteFacebook.

Report: Toyota Not Integrating Android Auto Due To Privacy Concerns

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 19, 2018 by itnerd

Toyota for the longest while has been pushing their on infotainment systems in their cars. But recently they’re rolling out Apple CarPlay in first the Avalon, and in the upcoming Lexus UX with more vehicles to come in the future. But many people have asked about support for Android Auto. When is that going to show up in a Toyota vehicle?

Well, Motor1 reports that the company isn’t integrating Android Auto because it is keen to protect the privacy of its customers:

“We’re a conservative company and we wanted to make sure everything was okay,” said Mark DeJongh, Avalon’s Executive Program Manager, about the company’s stance against Android Auto. He spoke during a Toyota first-drive event this week. “We wanted to protect our customers privacy. We strongly believe in our stance and in what we’re doing.”

Toyota isn’t the first car company to have issues with Android Auto. Porsche famously flipped the bird to Android Auto a few years ago, and to this day no Porsche model offers it as a feature. Google claims that there’s nothing to see here. But seeing as Android Auto apparently collects everything from speed, throttle position, coolant and oil temp, engine revs etc. every time it is used, you can see why a car maker might have a wee bit of a problem. This will be something that Google cannot ignore and it will be interesting to see if or how they address it.

ASUS Announces AREZ Graphics Card Brand

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 18, 2018 by itnerd

Today, ASUS has announced AREZ, a new brand identity for ASUS Radeon RX graphics cards. Derived from Ares, the Greek God of War, AREZ-branded graphics cards are built using industry-leading automated manufacturing to provide AMD gamers and enthusiasts with superior cooling technology and a robust software ecosystem.

Untitled

The new AREZ brand underlines the strong working partnership between ASUS and AMD that spans decades. Gamers and enthusiasts will enjoy a combination of exclusive ASUS innovations and technologies and AMD’s Radeon graphics processors and software.

Extreme durability: Auto-Extreme technology and Super Alloy Power II components

AREZ graphics cards are produced using Auto-Extreme technology, an industry-exclusive, 100%-automated production process that incorporates premium materials to set a new standard of quality, performance and longevity. Since the introduction of Auto-Extreme technology in ASUS graphics cards, reliability has improved by 30%. This manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly, eliminating harsh chemicals and reducing power consumption by 50%.

Super Alloy Power II components deliver enhanced efficiency, reduced power loss, reduced component buzzing by 50% under full load and achieve thermal levels that are approximately 50% cooler than previous designs for enhanced quality and reliability.

Hi-tech cooling: MaxContact, patented Wing-Blade IP5X-certified fans and FanConnect II

MaxContact is an industry-first GPU cooling technology featuring an enhanced copper heat-spreader that directly contacts the GPU. MaxContact utilizes precision machining to provide a 10X-flatter surface for up to 2X more contact area with the GPU than traditional heat spreaders, resulting in improved thermal transfer. Select AREZ graphics cards are also constructed with up to 40% more heatsink surface area than previous dual-slot designs, further improving heat dissipation for dramatically cooler and quieter performance.

A patented Wing-Blade fan design delivers 105%-greater static pressure over the heatsink for more efficient cooling and up to 3X-quieter operation compared to other fan designs. The fans are certified under the International Protection Marking (IP code) as IP5X dust resistant for improved reliability and a longer lifespan. This stringent certification process ensures AREZ graphics cards provide optimal fan performance, even under severe operating conditions. Additionally, 0dB technology stops the fan completely when the GPU temperature is below a set level, letting players enjoy light gaming sessions in complete silence.

ASUS FanConnect II features two four-pin hybrid-controlled headers that can be connected to both PWM and DC system fans for optimal system cooling. The connected fans reference both the GPU and CPU, and operate automatically based on the one with the higher temperature. A comprehensive set of tuning options allow gamers to tune fan speeds for efficient cooling.

 

Software ecosystem: GPU Tweak II, plus Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition

Redesigned with an intuitive user interface, GPU Tweak II makes gaming and overclocking easier than ever, while retaining advanced options for seasoned overclockers. With one click, the Gaming Booster function maximizes system performance by removing redundant processes and allocating all available resources automatically.

AREZ graphics cards also support the latest AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition drivers for comprehensive control over AMD GPUs. Core features include power-saving Radeon Chill technology; Radeon WattMan for profile-based custom control of voltages, engine clocks and fan speeds[i]; and Radeon ReLive for easy capture and sharing of in-game action.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING

ASUS AREZ-branded graphics cards will be available from May 2018 in selected markets.