Archive for April 4, 2018

Adding To The List Of Reasons To #DeleteFacebook Are That MORE People Had Their Data Scooped Up

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

This is just getting worse and worse for Facebook.

First it appears that 600,000 Canadians may have had their data shared, if you want to call it that, with Cambridge Analytica. Oh yeah. That’s not the bad news. Because the bad news is that as many as 87 million people globally might have had their data scooped up by this company. That’s up from 50 million when this crisis began. That news surfaced via this post from Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer who was announcing some restrictions on Facebook API’s and tacked that not so insignificant tidbit on the end of the post.


Methinks that Facebook and their CEO Mark Zuckerberg really have some explaining to do as this is not good for them at all.



Still Another Reason To #DeleteFacebook…. Facebook Messenger Scans Every Photo And Link That Is Sent

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

Facebook has confirmed something that CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned in a recent interview. Which is that Facebook scans each and every single link and image sent on its Messenger service, and even reads chats when they’re flagged to moderators, in order to make sure the content does not violate Facebook’s policies. Here are the details from Bloomberg:

The company told Bloomberg that while Messenger conversations are private, Facebook scans them and uses the same tools to prevent abuse there that it does on the social network more generally. All content must abide by the same “community standards.” People can report posts or messages for violating those standards, which would prompt a review by the company’s “community operations” team. Automated tools can also do the work.

I am sorry, but I might be missing something. How can conversations on Facebook Messenger be private if they’re scanned? I don’t care how the company spins this. It truly doesn’t pass the smell test. To me, that’s simply another reason to #DeleteFacebook.

Facebook To Revise Terms Of Service To Include More Privacy Language…. But It Will Not Stop The Need To #DeleteFacebook

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

The crisis that is #DeleteFacebook is clearly putting pressure on Facebook as in the last couple of hours, Facebook according to Yahoo Finance has come out with new terms of service that speak to privacy in draft form:

Facebook said it was publishing draft revisions of two documents that apply worldwide, its terms of service and its data policy, and was seeking feedback on them in advance of making them final.

The updates do not ask for new rights to collect, use or share data and will not affect the privacy settings that people have made on their Facebook accounts, Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in a phone interview.

“This is intended to give people much more in the way of details,” Sherman said.

At more than 4,000 words, the draft of the new data policy is about 50 percent longer than the existing one.

The world’s largest social media company is under pressure after a series of scandals that has shaken the confidence of users, advertisers, lawmakers and investors.

Here’s the thing. This is meaningless. Absolutely meaningless. I say that because if Facebook really wanted to do something to show that they take privacy seriously, they would take the GDPR protections that they are rolling out in Europe, and roll them out the rest of the planet. But as we all know, they will not do that. So if you were on the fence if you should #DeleteFacebook, and were wondering if this would change your mind, I would say that this should put you firmly in the #DeleteFacebook camp as there’s truly nothing to get excited about here.

EXCLUSIVE: Nonda MAY Be Planning To Address Their Smart Tire Monitoring System Issues With INTERNAL Sensors

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

Frequent readers of this blog will recall that I highlighted a stunning design flaw in the Nonda Zus Smart Tire Monitoring System. The flaw is that the sensors that mount on the valve stems are subject to galvanic corrosion. That leaves them stuck on the sensors and in my case, I had to take my SUV to a tire shop to have two of the valve stems cut off. That led to me pulling my recommendation of the product which is something that I rarely do.

Today I got wind of a interesting development in this story. On the Nonda forums which are littered with people who have this issue, I noted this response from their community manager which caught my interest. I took a screenshot in case the link that I posted gets deleted (click to enlarge):


Nonda is developing a system that uses internal sensors? Here’s the downside to that. The ten minute install that they promised when they came out with their original yet flawed system will not be possible as you will have to take it to a tire shop or dealer to yank all four wheels off the car and possibly remove the tires to get these installed. Here’s the upshot, this makes them just like OEM sensors. Which means unless you do something like put metal valve caps on the stems, galvanic corrosion should not be a problem. The fact that the community manager is offering them up means that they exist or they’re close to existing. Either way, this is an intriguing development. I reached out on the Nonda forum to be put in touch with someone regarding this (click to enlarge):


Plus I reached out on Twitter as well this:

If I get something back from Nonda, I will update this post accordingly. Including, if they plan to roll this out to existing users of the product as well as those who have had issues with the product.

Watch this space.

UPDATE: Interestingly enough Nonda has gone silent since I posted this. Their community manager isn’t responding to posts on their forum, and they aren’t responding to anyone on Twitter from what I can tell. I’m not sure if this story has made them go underground or not. But I decided to poke a stick in the cage to see if I get anything:

Let’s see what happens.

UPDATE #2: Exactly two minutes later I got this reply:

You can bet that I will be holding them to that. Interesting that they didn’t answer the question though. Read into that what you will.

UPDATE #3: I got an interesting reply on Nonda’s community forum via this link and the screenshot below (Click to enlarge):


So now they’re denying that they’re coming up with internal sensors. Or at least, that’s how I read this response. This despite the fact that “Julieta” herself used the word INTERNAL the post that resulted in yours truly posting this story. I’m guessing that she’s trying to walk the original statement back. Walking that statement back is going to be a problem as over the weekend, this appeared on Twitter:

Then Nonda replied to “Edward” alone leaving me out of the loop. Though I still saw the reply:

The way I read this, the person behind the Nonda Twitter account essentially confirmed that the company is working on INTERNAL sensors. The fact that whoever controls their Twitter account isn’t walking back the fact that internal sensors are in play is significant because either that person isn’t in the same meetings with “Julieta” to make sure that they’re both on the same page, or one of them is communicating “alternate facts” to the public. Perhaps they might want to get together and get on the same page as these two are not helping to put this to bed.

By the way, if they are going to go with internal sensors, and you have to swap the battery once a year, here’s how that stacks up with OEM sensors of a similar design:

In any case, let’s assume for a second that “Julieta” mispoke. If that’s true, then that makes this question that I asked relevant (Click to enlarge):


It will be interesting to see what they reply with.

UPDATE #4: Here’s what “Julieta” replied to me with (click to enlarge):


So I think they’re hoping that by telling existing owners to use dielectric grease to keep the sensors from being fused to the valve stems, that they won’t have to go through the expense to replace the sensors that are in the field with an upgraded model that (hopefully) doesn’t have this issue. I’m not sure if that’s such a smart idea given what has gone on to date. I think that Nonda may regret this decision when this problem doesn’t go away. I say that because those who buy this product will not get this advice about using dielectric grease and then get into this situation. They then will not be happy when they discover that this is a known issue, but they didn’t get the advice upfront about the dielectric grease prior to the initial install. Not only that, but they will be even less happy when they find out that Nonda came up with an upgraded sensor and didn’t proactively get them into the hands of existing users.

I guarantee that this will not end well for Nonda. I think I’ll sit back and watch what happens next.

UPDATE: There’s a new development in this story which is available to read here.

Intel Punts Out List Of CPUs That Will NOT Get Fixes For Meltdown & Spectre

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

Intel released an update to the Meltdown and Spectre mitigation guide which is a PDF document that Intel published in February. The file contains information on the status of microcode updates for each of Intel’s CPU models released in the past years. And in this update is the news that the following CPU models will not get updates to mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws:

  • Bloomfield
  • Bloomfield Xeon
  • Clarksfield
  • Gulftown
  • Harpertown Xeon C0
  • Harpertown Xeon E0
  • Jasper Forest
  • Penryn/QC
  • SoFIA 3GR
  • Wolfdale C0
  • Wolfdale M0
  • Wolfdale E0
  • Wolfdale R0
  • Wolfdale Xeon C0
  • Wolfdale Xeon E0
  • Yorkfield
  • Yorkfield Xeon

Using my friend Google, most of these CPUs are a decade or more old. Therefore it’s understandable that they won’t be getting updates to fix these flaws. However if you’re still using one of these CPUs, consider this to be your incentive to move onto something much newer.

Review: Asus ZenFone Max Plus (M1)

Posted in Products with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

Today I’m going to review the Asus ZenFone Max Plus which is classified as a budget phone. Seeing as it goes for $299 CDN, it certainly fits into the budget category. But it didn’t perform like a budget phone by any means. In fact, it performs like a phone several levels above its weight class.

Let’s start with the display which is a very sharp and bright 5.7-inch 18:9 display which is viewable in all lighting conditions. It has a resolution of 2160 x 1080 which is way above what you would expect at this price point. Another plus is that fingerprints don’t seem to affect this phone’s display in a negative way.

Next up is the layout of the phone. The right side has the volume control and power button. The left has the SIM slot. The top has the headphone jack and the bottom has a Micro USB connector. That’s kind of odd seeing as we’re moving towards USB-C being the standard. There are speakers on the bottom as well.

In terms of key stats, here’s what the ZenFone Max Plus has under the hood:

  • Dual Sim Unlocked (one SIM supports 2/3/4G, the other SIM support 3G/2G voice)
  • Octa-core 1.5Ghz Processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB of storage (expandable up to 2TB via a MicroSD slot)
  • 8MP front camera
  • Dual rear camera with 16MP and 8MP Wide-Angle
  • Android 7.0
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g/n WiFi

What’s cool about this setup is that unlike a lot of phones with dual SIM slots, this one has two slots for nano SIMs, and a separate slot for storage. That way you can fully maximize the phone’s capabilities. From a performance standpoint, it was okay. I was able to run games on it with the graphics settings cranked down a bit. But if you’re expecting Galaxy S9 or iPhone X levels of performance, you won’t get it here. Ditto for the fact that this only supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi in an age when 802.11ac is the standard. But for most people that this phone will be targeting, all of that is not going to be a problem.

The real star of the show is the camera setup. It has a dual camera setup in the rear that’s capable of 16-megapixel camera for regular shots and an 8-megapixel camera for wide-angle stills. My test shots on the trails of Rouge Park showed that it was a capable setup that worked well in a variety of lighting conditions. You can right click on any of the photos to enlarge:

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On top of that, you get a panoramic mode (click to enlarge):


On top of that, it does a portrait mode as well as a “beauty mode” that makes your selfies look better. There’s also a 64MP mode that uses software to increase the detail of any photo taken in that mode. Shuttle lag was almost non-existent and autofocus was instant. You can run it in auto mode or take total control using the “Pro” mode.

Now when it came to videos, the ZenFone Max Plus does HD videos as evidenced by the video below:

You’ll note that the video shows that the ZenFone Max Plus was having issues with autofocus. Other than that, the video was good. The audio was clear as well as evidenced by the honking geese. But a software update to fix the autofocus issue would be welcome.

In terms of battery life, the phone was able to last a day and a half of moderate use on my part. But it does charge quickly.  It gets from zero to 20 percent within 30 minutes, while an hour of charging will get you 47 percent. A full charge takes more than two hours.

So what’s the bottom line? While not perfect, the Zenfone Max Plus from Asus does more than enough right that it merits strong consideration from you if you’re looking for a phone in  the budget end of the market. In fact considering that it has features like an 18:9 display which a lot of flagship phones don’t have, it might even be a choice for someone who’s looking upmarket. It’s another strong effort from Asus who seems to be constantly putting out phones that are going to attract attention in the marketplace.


Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses China’s VPN Ban

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 4, 2018 by itnerd

Since March 31, China has officially banned non-state sanctioned VPNs, while businesses and Internet users are waiting anxiously for the ban to take effect. However, there is not much information yet from the Chinese authorities about how and when exactly the ban will be implemented.

“We understand the concern of local and international businesses in China, as well as the needs of scholars, scientists, students and others who vitally need VPNs to freely access the World Wide Web,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “NordVPN believes that everyone should have the freedom to do business, to study or to do scientific research without restrictions.”

China’s Great Firewall is an enormous effort by the Chinese government to control the Internet. VPNs allow companies and individuals to securely access websites that are blocked in China, including Google, Facebook, many news sites, and other social media sites and search engines.

The new Chinese regulations ban anyone from using VPNs that are not approved by the government. Businesses have reported that so far there had been no announcements from authorities about the ban and they were concerned about the lack of information. Many wonder if independent VPNs they have been using will still work.

“NordVPN is working in China with no problems,” said Marty P. Kamden. “We plan to continue these operations, and we are constantly looking for workarounds in China so that people can freely enjoy the Internet.”

A VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a user’s device. Furthermore, it can prevent tracking software and governments from monitoring the user’s Internet activity and helps hide their IP address.