Archive for May 5, 2020

ServiceNow Kicks Off Knowledge 2020 Digital Experience

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

ServiceNow has kicked off its six-week-long Knowledge 2020 Digital Experience with brief keynotes focused on the Now Platform and IT, Employee and Customer Workflows. Knowledge 2020 content will be available for free starting today, and new sessions, channels and content will be made available each week through June 12. 

The company also made several announcements spanning key partnerships, acquisitions and new innovations across its IT, Employee and Customer workflow offerings. These announcements build on ServiceNow’s Q1 earnings results from last week, which show the resiliency of ServiceNow’s business in the COVID-19 era, as enterprises accelerate their digital transformation initiatives to support the at-home-workforce and work outside traditional office environments.

The announcements include: 

Hosting Company GoDaddy Gets Pwned….. 19 Million Customers Affected

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

If you’re a GoDaddy customer of some description, be it you host a website or email, you have been pwned by hackers. Bleeping Computer broke the news last night that up to 19 million customers, which is their entire customer base, have been informed that their web hosting account credentials had been compromised. The breach appears to have occurred on October 19, 2019, according to the State of California Department of Justice, with which the disclosure notification email sample [Warning: PDF] was filed.

Now here’s what you need to know:

  • The breach is limited only to hosting accounts and did not involve customer accounts or the personal information stored within them.
  • No evidence was found to suggest that any files were modified or added to the affected accounts.
  • It is not clear if data was copied.
  • GoDaddy will provide a complimentary years’ worth of security and malware removal services for those customers affected/

Now chances are that if you are affected, GoDaddy will have forced a password reset which you will have to go through to get access to your account again. But if I were you, if you are a customer of GoDaddy, I would reset your password anyway.

Meanwhile, GoDaddy has some explaining to do. Hopefully in front of a national government or two so that they are held fully accountable for anything that they might have done to contribute this situation.

Xiaomi Releases Browser Update To Address Spying Claims…. But I Say That It’s Not Enough

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

Last week I posted a story that talked about Chinese phone maker Xiaomi and their apparent spying activities on users of their products. It now seems that after saying there’s nothing to see here, or that security researchers were misunderstanding what they had discovered, the company has decided to release updates to their browser to address this issue. This popped up in a blog post:

By 01:30, May 4, GMT+8 in Beijing, the software updates had been available for our browser products including, preloaded Mi Browser, Mi Browser Pro on Google Play, and Mint Browser on Google Play.

The latest versions are: Mi Browser/Mi Browser Pro (v12.1.4), and Mint Browser (v3.4.3).

These software updates include an option in incognito mode for all users of both browsers to switch on/off the aggregated data collection. 

We thank you all for your attention, suggestions and dedication during the past few days to further improving the overall user experience of our products and services.

Sorry Xiaomi, this isn’t good enough.

If Xiaomi really wants this to go away, they need to open themselves up to third party auditing. Just like Zoom did when they went through their security issues not too long ago. By doing so they would regain the trust of their users, and it would shut people like me up as I would have very little to criticize. But I don’t see Xiaomi taking the Zoom approach to deal with this. Thus I would suggest that if you need a new Android phone, you should Xiaomi phones until they prove beyond any doubt that they can be trusted.

#Fail: Belkin Kills The NetCam Line Of Cameras AND The Back End Service That They Run On [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

From the “Belkin must really hate its customers” department comes this news from Belkin that as of May 29, 2020, the NetCam line is being discontinued. That’s understandable as Belkin reps in the past have told me that they don’t sell a lot of them. But the real insult to injury comes with the fact that Belkin also decided to kill the back end services that these NetCam cameras need to run on. The net result is that owners of these cameras which are perfectly good now own bricks because the cameras require the back end service to work.

Cue the outrage:

Let’s get to the point. It’s not unusual for a manufacturer to kill off hardware because it doesn’t make sense to support it because of economic or other reasons. But by killing the service that these cameras run on, Belkin has pulled a Sonos by killing perfectly good hardware. On top of that, the only way you’ll get any sort of compensation is if you have an active warranty. I guess that covers them from being sued by the dude who just bought one of these cameras from Amazon. Oh yeah, they also want the camera back. Presumably to get them out of people’s hands so that they don’t end up on the secondary market where an unsuspecting buyer would have just bought a brick.

Now there is a flip side to this. If you buy some sort of IoT gear, there is typically a single point of failure. Which is the back end service. That’s true if you are buying a product that ties into Apple HomeKit or a Google service. If that service gets nuked, your gear is useless. So people who buy this gear need to take that into consideration. And companies who make this gear need to take this into account as well as the blowback from killing these sorts of services will be epic. Just like it is in this case.

The bottom line is this. By shutting down the back end service that run their NetCam products, Belkin has managed to not only anger people who bought their products, but they also managed to create a lot of bad press for themselves. Neither is good. And you can bet that the next time that someone needs some cool high tech gear, Belkin won’t be on the list of contenders.

Consider this is an “own goal” for Belkin.

UPDATE: The death of this service has been pushed back until late June. More details here.

Dell EMC, Addresses Data Era Challenges With PowerStore

Posted in Commentary on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

Dell Technologies announces Dell EMC PowerStore – a modern infrastructure platform built from the ground up with superior technology and expertise to address the challenges of the data era.

Modern Infrastructure for the Data Era

Organizations can accelerate decision making, data access and application performance with PowerStore, which is designed for six-nines (99.9999%) availability:

  • Any Workload: PowerStore simplifies IT infrastructure by supporting a wide range of traditional and modern workloads with its scale-up, scale-out architecture for block, file and VMware vVols.
  • Performance Optimized: PowerStore is seven times faster and three times more responsive than previous Dell EMC midrange storage arrays, because of its end-to-end NVMe design and support for Storage Class Memory as persistent storage powered by dual port Intel® Optane™ SSDs.
  • Efficiency Without Compromise: Customers can save on IT budget and capacity with always-on deduplication, compression and a guaranteed 4:1 data reduction.

Machine learning and intelligent automation allows for faster delivery of applications and services with up to 99% less staff time to balance volumes.:

  • Programmable Infrastructure: Streamlines application development and reduces deployment timeframes from days to seconds, with VMware integration and support for leading management and orchestration frameworks including Kubernetes, Ansible and VMware vRealize Orchestrator.
  • Autonomous Infrastructure: Built-in machine learning automates labor-intensive processes like initial volume placement, migrations, load balancing and issue resolution.
  • Infrastructure Insights: Dell EMC CloudIQ storage monitoring and analytics software combines machine learning and human intelligence for real-time performance and capacity analysis and historical tracking for a single view of Dell EMC infastructure. Dell Technologies will integrate CloudIQ across the full Dell Technologies infrastructure portfolio for even greater insights.

PowerStore transforms data center operations and allows organizations to evolve their infrastructure in lockstep with everchanging business needs:

  • Container-Based Architecture: PowerStoreOS, the system’s container-based software architecture, enables feature portability, standardization and rapid time-to-market for new capabilities. 
  • Introducing AppsON:  The only purpose-built storage array that includes a built-in VMware ESXi Hypervisor,  administrators can deploy apps directly on the array for greater flexibility. An industry-first, AppsON is ideal for data-intensive workloads in core or edge locations and infrastructure applications.
  • Ease of Migration: New native tools within the PowerStore Manager wizard allow customers to automate entire migrations in fewer than ten clicks. Customers can take advantage of a number of non-disruptive options to migrate from existing storage like Unity, SC, PS Series, VNX and XtremIO.
  • Dell Technologies On Demand (DTOD): With DTOD, PowerStore customers can respond to workload spikes and new service requests with elastic capacity and cloud economics. Organizations can choose between two flexible pay-per-use consumption models with short-and-long term commitment options, including a new one year term for flexible consumption. Global support, deployment and managed services can be included to help simplify IT infrastructure management.

Dell EMC Future-Proof Program Adds Anytime Upgrades

PowerStore is covered by the Dell EMC Future-Proof Program, which provides greater choice, predictability and investment protection through new Anytime Upgrades, the industry’s most flexible controller upgrade program.

Unlike other controller upgrade programs, customers can expand or enhance their PowerStore performance and capacity after 180 days.[xi] The combination of Anytime Upgrades and Dell EMC PowerStore’s adaptable architecture effectively ends disruptive platform migrations.

Cloud Flexibility with PowerStore

Customers can deploy PowerStore in the way that best meets their cloud strategy and business needs:

  • Dell Technologies Cloud Validated Designs for PowerStore for deployment flexibility of demanding workloads in hybrid cloud environments.
  • Dell EMC Cloud Storage Services can directly connect PowerStore to all major public clouds including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and Google Cloud as a managed service. Cloud Storage Services provide Data Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to VMware Cloud on AWS.
  • PowerStore can be deployed as a storage option within Dell EMC PowerOne autonomous infrastructure, which accelerates an organization’s shift to cloud-like operations.

Availability

  • Dell EMC PowerStore is now generally available globally.
  • Dell EMC PowerStore will be available as an option for PowerOne autonomous infrastructure this summer.

Additional resources

A Quick Buyers Guide For The New 13″ MacBook Pro

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

Yesterday Apple released via press release the new 13″ MacBook Pro. It’s the latest MacBook to get the new “magic” keyboard which replaces the horribly unreliable butterfly keyboard.

RIP butterfly keyboard. It is about time you met your maker.

The key points to this new 13″ MacBook Pro are:

  • It has the new 10th-generation quad-core Intel Core processors with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 4.1GHz. These new processors are more power efficient and have more horsepower.
  • The integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics deliver up to 80 percent faster performance over the previous generation 13-inch MacBook Pro. Or so Apple says.
  • The new graphics also enable users to connect to Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution…. If you feel like dropping a insane amount of cash on a monitor to connect to this MacBook Pro.
  • Base storage has been doubled to a minimum of 256GB.
  • Did I mention that the horrible butterfly keyboard is replaced by the “magic” keyboard?

In terms of #fails, here are the two #fails that are present in the new 13″ MacBook Pro:

  • It has 802.11ac WiFi. This is a fail because the 10th generation chips support 802.11ax/WiFi 6. Plus the optic of having iPhones that support 802.11ax/WiFi 6 and MacBook Pros that don’t is really lame.
  • It has a 720p Webcam. Um, Apple, 2010 called. They want their webcam back. Seriously, when iPhones have front facing cams that are insanely great, it seems really pathetic that in 2020 Apple’s latest notebooks come with 720p webcams.

The question is, what should you get in terms of a 13″ MacBook Pro? Let me help you with that:

  1. Skip both the base model and the next model up: The reason why I say this is that Apple made the base model which starts at $1699 CDN and the next model up which starts at $1949 CDN are using 8th generation Intel processors. The ones you actually want come with the latest 10th generation Intel processors which start at $2399 CDN. Not only that, you get 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports unlike the two models that I suggest that you avoid which come with 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. If that wasn’t enough, you get faster LPDDR4X RAM that you can upgrade up to 32GB. The two low end models max out at 16GB. Finally, you get much better graphics as part of the deal.
  2. 16GB is plenty of RAM for most people: You may be tempted to go to 32GB of RAM. But don’t. 16GB is plenty for most people unless you really need the extra RAM. For example you run Final Cut, or you have a lot of Chrome tabs open.
  3. 1TB of storage is plenty for most people: Though you can configure the new 13″ MacBook Pro with up to 4TB, 1TB is all you need. Everything else is overkill as there are very few use cases that require that amount of space.
  4. Consider skipping the i7 2.3GHz processor upgrade: The speed difference between the i7 2.3GHz processor and the i5 2.0 GHz is only going to be noticed if you push this machine using something like Final Cut where you are editing 4K video. If that’s you, then maybe the upgrade is worth it. For everyone else, this is a must skip.

Now all of that is great. But let me cover the other side of the coin. Which is why you shouldn’t get the new 13″ MacBook Pro:

  • If your needs are very basic, meaning that you surf the net, listen to music, and maybe do something in Microsoft Word, then the new MacBook Air might be a better choice. It is the same screen size in a lighter package that costs less. And it comes with variants of the new 10th generation Intel processors. Stick with the i5 processor version and you should be fine.
  • If you are a power user, which means that you run Final Cut X for example, you would likely be better off getting the 16″ MacBook Pro. It comes with discrete graphics and is a portable powerhouse. Though I will say that they use the 8th generation Intel processors which means that it is due for a refresh. Having said that, you do get an i9 processor version if you need all the power that your credit card can handle.

The new 13″ MacBook Pro is available now for ordering online at Apple’s website. They should be in resellers later this week. Hopefully this helps you to decide whether to get one or not.

Element AI announces new Chief Financial Officer and Chief Revenue Officer

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

Element AI, a global developer of artificial intelligence-powered (AI) solutions and services, today announced that it has appointed a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Roger Blanchette, and a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Stephan Rioux. These new members will work with the executive team and across all lines of business as Element AI continues to focus on delivering solutions and services to its global customers.

As CFO, Blanchette will oversee all of Element AI’s financial activities including financial planning, forecasting, and reporting. Prior to joining Element AI, Blanchette was the CFO of Skyword, a private equity backed software company that provides a marketing content management solution. He has a proven track record of providing strong financial leadership while significantly contributing to the definition and execution of corporate strategy.

Stephan Rioux, in his role as CRO, will establish strategic alignment for all revenue-related functions, including marketing, sales, customer support, and revenue management. Prior to joining Element AI, Rioux was the Global CRO for JW Player and spent 13 years at Adobe as Vice President of North America Strategic Verticals, M&E, FSI and Retail. He is a global sales leader and has deep expertise with enterprise software, SaaS, security, data and AI.

As artificial intelligence and machine learning integrations continue to rapidly evolve, Element AI acts as a bridge between fundamental AI research with advisory and enablement services that lead to full-stack AI solutions. The addition of both Blanchette and Rioux to the executive team will help the company assert financial synergies between these separate yet equally important arms of the business. 

For more information about Element AI solutions and services, contact: elementai.com/contact.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses How Covid-19 Surveillance Might Become The New Normal

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2020 by itnerd

The COVID-19 pandemic has led governments to the implementation of mass surveillance measures. Experts fear that this invasion into people’s digital privacy might not be that easy to roll back.

“We at NordVPN agree that all appropriate measures should be taken to stop the pandemic and save people’s lives. But we are also digital privacy advocates. The new surveillance on people affected by COVID-19 undoubtedly restricts some freedoms and rights. What is more, some countries are using surveillance without an appropriate legal basis. That means no one knows how this data is processed or what will happen with it in the future,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN.

“The coronavirus pandemic shows that surveillance technology is already here — it’s not something out of sci-fi movies. It’s up to governments to ensure the proper use of these new technologies, as the potential abuse of power could violate human rights,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “Another worrying thing about these surveillance policies is that they don’t have any clear end date. Therefore, this might be deemed as the new normal even after the pandemic ends. Governments must provide a clear exit strategy and define a date when they will cease the monitoring.”

At least 25 countries have implemented digital surveillance over its citizens to combat COVID-19. The methods and scope of monitoring differ in each country. For example, China has forced hundreds of millions to install a “health code” app, which determines whether the user is fit for travel or must stay at home. 

In Moscow, citizens will be required to use QR codes for traveling. The Russian government will also employ surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology to ensure people are staying at home.

Europe has followed the Asian example and is copying the tracking apps, as well as employing drones and collecting telecom data. 

India is geolocating people’s selfies as well as releasing addresses of the COVID-19 patients. 

Israel has implemented surveillance on a national scale. People with suspected or confirmed Coronavirus cases are tracked by mobile phone.

In South Korea, the government sent out detailed messages with travel information of coronavirus-infected people. Although the purpose was to inform on possible contact points, the texts revealed personal details, which, in some cases, were embarrassing. For example, some people had involved in affairs or paid for sex.