Archive for the Commentary Category

DJI To World: Give Us Your Details Or We Cripple Your Drone

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

If you own a DJI drone, you’ll want to pay attention to this. Various media outlets including The Verge are reporting that unless you register your drone with the company, the drone will get crippled:

Failure to register with DJI means the drone will have a height limit of 98 feet (30 meters), a radius of 164 feet (50 meters), and the live video feed will be disabled. “This new step, to take effect at the end of next week, ensures you will use the correct set of geospatial information and flight functions for your aircraft, as determined by your geographical location and user profile,” the company writes. The change applies internationally.

You can see the full statement on the company’s website here.

This seems to be part of a “cover your rear end” exercise for DJI. I say that because according to The Register, the company basically made their products non-functional in Syria and Iraq. Presumably in the interest of keeping people from using them as weapons. And likely at the request of countries who have an interest in making sure that doesn’t happen. Plus many countries including EU member states are pushing for registration of drone pilots. That way if anyone does anything stupid such as fly a drone next to an aircraft, the cops can instantly hunt the perps down. The US is looking to do something similar, but their attempt didn’t exactly go to plan. In Canada, some new rules have been proposed that sound….. Interesting shall we say. I can’t really fault DJI for doing this as they have to make sure that they can still make a buck. But I am going to guess that drone pilots won’t be too thrilled.

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FCA Now Involved In Its Own Version Of #DieselGate

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

A lawsuit has been filed by the US Department of Justice that accuses Fiat-Chrysler of the same kind of software trickery that got Volkswagen into all sorts of trouble:

The complaint alleges that FCA equipped nearly 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles (Model Years 2014-2016) sold in the United States with at least eight software-based features that were not disclosed in FCA’s applications for certificates of conformity and that affect the vehicles’ emission control systems.  The undisclosed software features lessen the effectiveness of the vehicles’ emissions control systems during certain normal driving situations.  This results in cars that meet emission standards in the laboratory and during standard EPA testing, but during certain normal on-road driving emit oxides of nitrogen (NOx) that are much higher than the EPA-compliant level.  The complaint alleges that each of these vehicles differs materially from the specifications provided to EPA in the certification applications, and thus the cars are uncertified, in violation of the Clean Air Act.  These allegations are consistent with those set forth in notice of violation (“NOV”) that EPA issued to FCA US LLC and FCA NV on Jan. 12, 2017. 

Oh boy. That’s not good. FCA has posted a response to this that I will sum up by quoting this:

FCA US is currently reviewing the complaint, but is disappointed that the DOJ-ENRD has chosen to file this lawsuit. The Company intends to defend itself vigorously, particularly against any claims that the Company engaged in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat U.S. emissions tests.

But they also have this to say:

As FCA US announced last week, it has developed updated emissions software calibrations that it believes address the concerns of EPA and CARB, and has now formally filed for diesel vehicle emissions certification with the regulators for its 2017 model year (MY) Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles. Subject to the permission of EPA and CARB, FCA US intends to install the same modified emissions software in 2014-2016 MY Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 diesel vehicles. FCA US believes this will address the agencies’ concerns regarding the emissions software calibrations in those vehicles.

FCA expects that the installation of these updated software calibrations will improve the 2014-2016 MY vehicles’ emissions performance and does not anticipate any impact on performance or fuel efficiency.

The filing that they’re referring to can be found here. I am guessing that FCA was hoping that this would make the potential of a lawsuit such as this one go away. But it clearly didn’t. And here we are. I’ll be keeping an eye on this to see how this turns out.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses If It Is Still Possible To Protect One’s Online Privacy?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

Data has recently become the most valuable commodity in the world, the same way as oil was a century ago, and concerns are similar: most of the world’s data is in the hands of a few giants, namely Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

As their reach keeps expanding and profits keep rising (their collective profit was over $25bn in the first quarter of 2017), experts are calling for the need to break up their dominance or to create another platform that would provide a more private method of browsing. For example, German companies are planning to curb the data industry dominance by creating a joint platform that will allow customers to determine whether and how their personal data can be used by third parties.

In the meanwhile, the data dominance by industry giants results in personal users’ data being tracked, collected and sold to third parties.

Facebook knows a user’s friends, all interactions, sites visited (if they have a Facebook page), purchases, devices a person uses to access Facebook, and much more. Google collects a users’ name, email address, telephone number, credit card (if entered), one’s interaction with other websites, device used, search queries and so on. Google also stores information in a local browser as “cookies.”

When faced with such data control by a few large companies, people still have some power in their own hands to protect their privacy than they often can imagine. In fact, there are some simple steps for everyone to take that would significantly reduce intrusive behavior by Internet companies and protect one’s privacy.

Here are some simple rules:

  1. Facebook. Use Facebook’s Download Your Information tool to find out what kind of personal information is collected. Make sure to visit privacy settings and select who can see which information. And certainly, be careful what kind of information you share with Facebook. Some people, for example, choose not to use their real names, location and other personal data.
  2. Google. The first step is to use Google’s Privacy Checkup to see how much information you might be voluntarily sharing. Secondly, see how private are your apps. Google’s Privacy Policy actually allows to turn off tracking, voice searches, and other features, to view and edit one’s preferences or to adjust one’s public profile. Also, make sure you use 2-step verification.
  3. Overall Internet privacy. VPN (Virtual Private Network) is the most common and secure tool used to stay private online. NordVPN, for example, offers military grade encryption for those looking to keep their information for themselves. A VPN encrypts data between a user’s computer and VPN server and routes it through a secure tunnel, so all online activity becomes invisible to trackers, data collectors and any kinds of data spies. For example, only a VPN can help bypass new increased ISP data collection in the U.S., as well as the potential removal of net neutrality.

 

HP Celebrates 75 Years Empowering Filmmaking Innovation and Creativity at Cannes Film Festival

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

HP celebrates more than seven decades of empowering filmmakers and creative visionaries at the Cannes Film Festival. At Cannes 2017, HP continues to reinvent its role at the creative crossroads of the world, partnering with a spectrum of innovators and artists.

With partners including entertainment giants DreamWorks Animation and Technicolor, BAFTA award winning producer Anant Singh, pioneers behind VR films Giant and Tree and many more, HP is adding a series of new events at Cannes that shine a spotlight on the reinvention of entertainment and art, and the role of technology to ignite personal storytelling. In addition, the company hosted its annual Masters of Short Film competition, reinforcing HP’s commitment to inspire the artist in us all.

Continuing to offer exceptional experiences creative professionals and amateurs want, with the style, quality and performance to bring their visions to life, HP is launching a new Premium PC portfolio at this year’s festival. In addition, making its European debut, the Cinema 4K Dreamcolor display sets the gold standard for color accuracy while the latest ZBook Mobile Workstations provide creators the ability to visualize work in virtual reality, with 3D graphics and server-grade processing power.

HP has a long heritage of partnering with filmmakers and creative professionals to bring their visions to life in animation, 3D, visual effects and computer generated applications. In addition to being an end-to-end HP studio for more than 15 years, DreamWorks Animation is also a co-development partner, resulting in industry-leading technological innovations. Kate Swanborg, senior vice president of Technology Communications and Strategic Alliances for DreamWorks Animation, will discuss the instrumental role that HP technology plays in the creation of the studio’s animated feature films, and will also reveal behind-the-scenes content of how DreamWorks Animation movies are made.

HP will host a series of panels and presentations featuring innovators who are breaking the mold on creativity and inclusion. Marcie Jastrow, senior vice president of Immersive Media and Head of Technicolor Experience Center for Technicolor, VR filmmakers Milica Zec and Winslow Porter, Prana Studios president and chief operating officer Anish Mulani, HP chief technology officer Shane Wall, and acclaimed contemporary artist POSE will talk about the future of digital creation and how to bring visually arresting art to life. A second panel on the importance of diversity and inclusion in filmmaking and advertising will be moderated by HP chief marketing and communications officer Antonio Lucio and will feature Manto director Nandita Das and commercial director Crystal Moselle.

HP and Viacom 18 are co-producing Manto, the true story of Saadat Hasan Manto, an Indo-Pakistani writer, playwright and author considered one of the greatest writers in South Asian history. Additionally, HP hosted the second annual Masters of Short Film competition. With Saadat Hasan Manto as their inspiration, the four final teams from Italy, India, France and the US screened their films in Cannes on May 20, 2017, with France’s film Valentin(e) taking the top prize. Making its debut in Cannes this year, HP Studios’ The Wolf: Season 2  builds on the dramatic first season starring award-winning actor Christian Slater as a fictional hacker targeting the healthcare industry’s highly sensitive data records.

For 14 years, HP has been the technology partner of the Cannes Film Festival, powering the festival’s press corps, protecting the intellectual property of its filmmakers, and creating its iconic, larger-than-life banners and building wraps. For more than 75 years, HP has been a close partner to the film and creative industry, with its first product — the audio oscillator — used to create Disney’s Fantasia, the first commercial film with stereophonic sound.

For more information about HP’s programs at the 2017 Cannes Film, visit here. Join the conversation using #Cannes2017.

“Rivolta” Now Streaming Online Via YouTube

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

I recently got the chance to see “Rivolta” which is the story of Michael Calce who is perhaps better known as ‘MafiaBoy’ who pulled of a massive denial of service attack back in the early 2000’s. It’s a great 20 minute film which I reviewed here that will make you rethink how secure we are from a digital perspective.

The film is now available via YouTube and I encourage you to spend 20 minutes to watch it.

An Update To My Story On A Client’s Negative Experience With Rogers

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2017 by itnerd

Since I posted this story on a negative experience that a customer of mine recently had with Rogers, I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail and the odd Tweet on the subject. More on that in a bit. But in any case, I figured that I owed you an update as to what’s happened.

Since my original story, my customer connected with Rogers and they were able to make everything work after they presumably fixed whatever was wrong on their end. That’s where the good news ends when it comes to this interaction. I say that because Rogers then offered my client a whole six dollars in compensation. Keep in mind that when this first happened, they offered $60 which accounted for a month of Internet service for her. But not anywhere close to what I charge per hour. So clearly that was a fail as evidenced by this sentence in the e-mail that she sent me regarding this:

It always amazes me how long these things take and how Rogers does not put value on the customer’s time.

Top tip for those who are in customer facing positions. You have to be mindful of the customers time and respect that they have better things to do than to talk to a person in a customer service position. Now, I’m not degrading anyone who is in that line of work. What I am saying is that the best strategy for those in that line of work is to get the issues that are brought to them resolved to the customer’s satisfaction as quickly as possible in the first interaction. By doing that, you will respect the customer’s time.

Now that was before the Victoria Day holiday in Canada. Yesterday evening I got an update from my client. She spoke to Rogers Office Of The President which in Rogers speak is a customer experience team that exists to deal with escalated situations and resolve them by utilizing any and all resources that Rogers has at their disposal so that they retain the customer. In my client’s case, here’s what they did for her:

  • They credited her the equivalent of two months Internet service.
  • She also was having intermittent cable TV issues which they added a $50 credit to the mix.
  • She finally got the six dollar credit from the rep that she spoke to so that she could get her e-mail working.

That’s enough for my client to stay with Rogers for now. Whether she is still a Rogers customer a few months from now is a bit of an open question.

Now, this should be the part where I should say thank you to Rogers for stepping in and helping to resolve this. While I will do that as once she got into the right hands, things started to move in a positive direction, I will also say this. If you look the issues that I’ve had with Rogers Internet where the first time I had issues, Rogers had to hop through hoops to to resolve those issues after I posted to social media and got escalated to The Office Of The President. Then look at the second time that I had issues with my Internet and Rogers, and again I posted to social media and got escalated to The Office Of The President to get my issues resolved, and combine that with this specific experience where I posted to social media and my client got escalated to The Office Of The President to get her issues resolved, you come to this conclusion. Rogers customer service has some serious issues that are really impacting them in a negative way.

The fact is that using social media as a means to escalate so that you can get an issue resolved should be an exception. However, with Rogers it seems to be the rule. And the fact that my original story got a insane amount of page views and e-mails detailing a variety of Rogers customer service fails shows that I am not the only person who thinks that. Take this person for example who reached out to me today on Twitter:

This was my answer:

I gave that advice because Bell is hyper aggressive about stealing every Rogers customer that they can as from personal experience I can say that they sense an opportunity to hurt Rogers. Plus, they appear to have upped their game when it comes to TV and Internet services. In the case of the latter, Bell has an exceptionally good Internet offering. On top of that they have attractive introductory pricing (where the first few months are at a discounted rate and then it goes to whatever their normal rate is if you get a bundle of services) that makes it worth ones while to consider switching to them. If Bell can bring better customer service to the table than what Rogers currently offers, then Rogers is in very deep trouble.

Rogers new CEO is a fellow named Joe Natale who is best known for his work at Telus to up their customer service game. By the time he left, Telus was the top of the food chain when it came to customer service. If I had any advice for him, I would say that he needs to focus on turning Rogers customer service from being something that makes customers want to leave the telco, to something that is core to them retaining customers. And he needs to do it quickly. Because as evidenced by this experience by my client, they aren’t doing nearly enough to send a message that Rogers values their business and it is worth being a customer of theirs.

Belkin Introduced Pocket Power Series Of Portable Power Banks

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 23, 2017 by itnerd

Belkin has introduced a suite of its most compact and fast-charging portable power banks, enabling consumers to stay connected and charged all day. The all-new Pocket Power comes in 5,000 and 10,000 mAh sizes in black, rose gold and silver, and the 15,000 mAh model will be available in black only. Featuring fast-charging capability and polymer battery cell technology, the new battery packs are lighter, thinner and equipped to charge multiple devices at an affordable price point.

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Consumers spend five hours a day on their mobile devices, according to Flurry Analytics, and 90 percent of photos shared or stored online will be taken by a smartphone, according to Deloitte.

Key Features Include:

  • Built-in safety features protect the device and the consumer
  • Micro-USB port charges battery pack quickly and efficiently
  • 6” micro-USB cable included
  • 4 LED indicators display remaining power level
  • Plastic casing provides a lightweight solution

The Pocket Power 5,000 mAh is available today for an MSRP of $29.99 US on Belkin.com at http://www.belkin.com/us/p/p-F7U019/ and at Target in the U.S. and Walmart in Canada.

The Pocket Power 10,000 mAh and 15,000 mAh will be available later this summer; check back on Belkin.com for more details.