Archive for the Commentary Category

Apple Just Bought Shazam

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 11, 2017 by itnerd

It had been rumored for days and just a few minutes ago, it’s been confirmed that Apple has bought the music tagging and recognition service known as Shazam. The word on the street is that Apple dropped $400 million to get the company.

Now Apple had been using the service to power the music nonrecognition feature within Siri. But now that they apparently own the company, you have to wonder what more they can do with the service. On top of that. You have to also wonder what happens to the base of Android users who use the service. When Beats Music was purchased, the Android app was kept around. Perhaps we will see that happen here as well. We’ll have to wait and see.

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How Linksys Can Rescue Themselves From The WRT32X Crisis

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 10, 2017 by itnerd

For the last couple of weeks, Linksys has been going through a bit of a crisis with their flagship router which is the WRT32X. It appears that a firmware update pushed to these routers have caused huge issues for users. And the lack of a resolution has cause rage for those users. I’ve written about my experience trying to get support the one that was on my network. I’ll detail why it is no longer on my network in a second. I’ve also written about how I kind of got myself back to a workable state as well. Now I wasn’t impressed with the response by Linksys, But based on this thread on the Linksys Community Forums, many others are not impressed as well with increasing calls from frustrated users for Linksys to do something about this situation. At least from the users who haven’t replaced their WRT32X for a router from another company.

Then there’s the bad press generated by Twitter. Take these examples:

Now all of that is pretty bad for Linksys. But it gets worse for them. ASUS and Netgear read my posts and sent me the ROG Rapture AC5300 and the Nighthawk X8 respectively. The review of the latter is due to be posted tomorrow (UPDATE: The review is now live). And there’s a third company who I won’t mention at this point who wants to send me a router to review as well. That’s why the WRT32X is no longer on my network. I can read two things into this. One is that these companies want to get some press for their products at a time where they think that Linksys is vulnerable. Second, if these companies are doing this with me, they’re doing this to others who review products as well. Thus multiplying the problems that Linksys has as it will give frustrated WRT32X users options if they want to dump Linksys for another brand.

Now, all of this sounds pretty dire for Linksys. But believe it or not, I think that Linksys has a chance to rescue this. If I were in their position, this is what I would do:

  1. Linksys needs to change the perception that they are being silent on this issue by coming out will a statement acknowledging that the issue exists. Right now they aren’t saying anything, and it is making them look like they don’t care about their customers. If they want to have any chance of rescuing this, they need to change to perception right now.
  2. Linksys needs to be transparent and speak to what this issue is. If they don’t know what the core issue is, they need to say that, and then commit to being transparent about any and all information that they find out. Right now, they are saying nothing. And that isn’t helping their cause.
  3. Linksys needs to resolve this quickly. Given the discontent of their user base at the moment, a fix cannot take weeks or months. It needs to take hours or days if they want to have any chance of placating their user base. Because that user base feels that there is no fix that will come, and they are starting to look at or buy other routers from other companies. Plus you can expect those who exercise the option to go to another router to say bad things about Linksys for a long time. Thus they need to get a fix that works on the street as quickly as possible. Oh yeah, if they have to swap every WRT32X out there via overnight courier to get this fix on the streets quickly, then that’s what they need to do. At this point, not doing so means that this can only get worse for Linksys.
  4. Linksys needs to say sorry for this. By saying sorry, they will help to mitigate the fact that Linksys is seen as not caring about their customers.

Now this requires Linksys to find the courage to step up and do what is right because having to do something like I outlined above isn’t easy at the best of times. But they have to do it because the WRT32X isn’t a cheap router. And it’s aimed at a very influential segment of the market who will tell others what is the best router brand to buy. At this point, that’s not Linksys. Thus if Linksys wants any chance of staying as a player in the router market, they need to find the courage to turn this ship around. Because as it stands right now, Linksys isn’t in a good place and it can only get worse for them if they do nothing.

Over to you Linksys.

#PSA: macOS Twitter Integration Only Supports 140 Characters

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 9, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re running macOS all the way up to the latest version which is 10.13.2, and you use the Twitter integration that is built into the OS, you should be aware that it only supports 140 characters while pretty much every other Twitter client supports the new 280 character standard.

Now for those of you who are not familiar with the Twitter integration that exists in macOS, clicking the Notification Panel, and then clicking social will allow you to send a Tweet. However, I noticed this recently:

evenScreen Shot 2017-12-09 at 6.04.03 PM

It appears that even though you are limited to 140 characters. This is confirmed by typing exactly 140 characters and getting this result:

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 6.05.54 PM

I reported this to Apple and they confirmed that this is something that they will fix in a future macOS update. I’ll let you know when I confirm that this is fixed. But you have to wonder why this wasn’t included in the 10.13.2 update that came out this week as 280 characters on Twitter has been around for a while. I guess it was an oversight.

Telus Launching Apple Watch Series 3 GPS + Cellular Sales TODAY

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 8, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re Canadian and you want an option other than Bell to get an Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular from, Telus can help you with that starting today.

Telus customers can add an Apple Watch for $10 per month to their SharePlus data plan, and that includes 1GB of data on top of whatever they have. Now, that is $5 more than what Bell is asking for. But Bell isn’t serving up the extra gig of data.  A $20 connection fee also applies. One other note is that Telus customers will need watchOS 4.2 installed before the head to their local Telus store. As soon as there’s a link online to order, I will post it here.

So that leaves Rogers being the only one of the big three who don’t support the Apple Watch on their network. Their latest Tweets seem to point to a 2018 launch for support. But I would suspect that by the time that they have support, many die-hard Apple fans would have switched to Telus and Bell by then.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to get to the Telus page for the Apple Watch. One thing that I did note on the page is the fact that you get the first three months of Apple Watch service free. That more than offsets the $20 setup charge (or eSIM charge as they call it).

Another Apple Security Flaw Found…. This Time In HomeKit

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 7, 2017 by itnerd

9to5mac is reporting that yet another security hole in an Apple product has been found. This time it’s the HomeKit framework when used with the recently released iOS 11.2. The flaw allowed remote access by those of ill intent to HomeKit devices. So a real world example of this that the miscreant could say, unlock your doors if you had HomeKit compatible smart locks, and then disable your security cameras if you had HomeKit compatible security cameras before pillaging your home.

Clearly this was not a trivial issue.

However, the only good news out of all of this is that Apple has fixed most of the problem as I type this. Some of the fixes are coming on the server side of the fence. The rest of the fixes will show up in a iOS update that is coming next week. The only catch is that remote access for HomeKit users is disabled until that iOS update comes out.

At this point you have to ask yourself what has gone wrong with Apple’s QA as this highlights what I said about it being an #EpicFail. It never used to be this bad and we’ve now had over a week of solid security issues that are hitting the news. Clearly Apple has dropped the ball in a big way and they really need to pull up their socks or they’ll be ridiculed like Microsoft was in the early 2000’s when they went through their security nightmare.

VMware and Carbon Black Team Up On Data Centre & Cloud Security

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 7, 2017 by itnerd

VMware and Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint security, today announced an expanded partnership that will help transform current approaches to cloud and data centre security. The companies have developed a new joint solution that will dramatically shrink an organization’s attack surface, while empowering security teams with automated threat detection and remediation to react faster and more effectively to attacks. Today’s announcement expands on a collaboration announced earlier this year, giving VMware AppDefense customers the ability to leverage Carbon Black’s Predictive Security Cloud (PSC) reputation services.

As applications become more distributed and dynamic, they have also become more difficult to secure. Traditional security solutions are not flexible enough to keep up with applications as they change over time, leading to breakdowns in security. The majority of attacks causing damage today are not simple malware easily rooted out with “known bad” signatures. They require watching behaviour of applications for any deviation from the norm. They hinge on attackers manipulating the executables, processes, and operating system of the endpoint itself. Identifying these threats requires a deep understanding of both application behaviour and threat behaviour, something that traditional endpoint security products don’t possess.

The newly jointly developed solution will combine VMware AppDefense and Cb Defense’s advanced threat protection to provide a unique one-two punch for stopping threats to applications inside the data centre. VMware AppDefense leverages the power of the virtual infrastructure to create least privilege environments around applications. It enforces system integrity using the hypervisor, provides visibility into the intended state and behaviour of applications, and monitors state and behaviour from a protected position. Cb Defense, running on the Predictive Security Cloud, provides a next-generation endpoint protection solution that applies behavioural approaches to detect threats. It uses streaming prevention to monitor for malicious behaviour on a machine to protect against malware- and non-malware-based attacks. The solution combines three key elements to advance cloud and data centre security:

Enforcing Known Good Application Behaviour: By leveraging the virtual infrastructure, the solution will have an authoritative understanding of how data centre endpoints are meant to behave and is the first to know when changes are made. This contextual intelligence will remove the guesswork involved in determining which changes to processes, executables, and operating systems inside a given data centre endpoint are legitimate and which indicate real threats.

Detecting Unknown Threats: The solution will leverage application context to perform advanced behavioural threat detection to provide additional protection beyond least privilege. Any threat that isn’t prevented by locking down the application’s behaviour will be picked up by Carbon Black’s Streaming Prevention – a next-gen threat detection technology that uses event stream processing to correlate multiple events over time to indicate the presence of a threat. Users will see threat activity in real time, visualize the attack chain to see exactly what attackers are trying to do, and respond immediately to shut down attacks in progress.

Automating and Orchestrating Response: Once a threat is identified, the solution will allow for the full understanding of application context during investigation, and again, will use the virtual infrastructure to deliver a library of responses, ranging from suspending or snapshotting a VM, to quarantining the compromised machine and performing forensic analysis.

The new joint solution will be generally available from Carbon Black in VMware’s Q4 FY 2018, which ends on February 3, 2018. Customers can learn more about this joint solution by clicking here. VMware and Carbon Black will be launching a 15-city tour to give enterprises an opportunity to learn firsthand how the new solution protects their virtual data centre infrastructure. Sign up to be notified of dates and locations here.

For more info, check out these resources:

 

Amazon Refuses To Sell Book About UK Child’s Fight With Cancer…. Internet Outraged

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 7, 2017 by itnerd

I’ve been following the Twitter feed of Alexander Goodwin who is a nine year old who is fighting Ewing Sarcoma, which is a rare type of bone cancer that affects children, in his right femur. Long story short, he’s winning the fight. Though that required him leaving his home in the UK and going to the US for treatment. Not a easy or cheap endeavor. Which is why his family have done everything possible from a fundraising perspective to give him every chance to live. That includes a new book that details his fight with cancer:

Here’s the thing. Amazon, as in the biggest retailer on the planet, won’t sell this book:

Now that’s caused his supporters to take up his cause. Take for example Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, who is also known as William Shatner:

Not to mention some people who aren’t known for saving the universe on a regular basis:

You have to agree that the optics of this situation look horrible for Amazon. I really fail to understand why they would take this stance and it would be in their best interests to really not only come out and explain this, but to actually sell the book. Having followed the young Mr. Goodwin’s Twitter feed, I can say that his story is one that needs to be told as others will find strength from it. Thus if you have been touched by cancer, buy this book and show Amazon what they’re missing out on. You can get the book here if you are in the UK, and here if you are in the US.  Or perhaps Janet Wheeler can help you to get a copy:

UPDATE: It appears that Amazon has changed course and decided to sell the book: