Category: Technology


Five reasons people will want a BlackBerry 10 Phone

The BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, handed out to developers in May, provided little information about what the finished product would look like. But a better picture has since emerged.

Will BlackBerry 10 phones, which are expected to arrive early next year, be worth the wait? For months, that question had no good answer.

While Apple’s wildly successful ads calmly wrap themselves around a single have-to-have feature (see SIRI) we haven’t yet had the benefit of a full rundown on BlackBerry 10 specs. So we have been left with what we are normally left with in the space before any anticipated consumer device arrives: speculation, rumour, and the odd grainy photo. It’s right around this time in the launch cycle that an iPhone is “accidentally” found in a Palo Alto tavern and pictures show up on various gadget sites, sending fanboys into a predictable lather.

So far, there has been no Canadian equivalent. To date, not one has misplaced a BlackBerry 10 device at a Tim Hortons in Moose Jaw, or a canteen in a Kitchener rink. But a picture has begun to emerge. New RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has been equal parts helpful and feckless, revealing key details of BlackBerry 10 to select media, then reverting to more vague, big picture proclamations that have sometimes provoked ridicule, such as when he said that with BB10 “We’re here to win, we’re not here to fight for third or fourth place,” after the company had fallen to less than 5% of total smartphone sales in Q2.

If RIM is to regain some, if not all, of its lost market share, BlackBerry 10 devices will need to be great, not just good. The good news for RIM supporters is that early indications suggest devices loaded with the new operating system will give RIM every chance. We break down five reasons people will want a Blackberry 10 device.

1. Its contact manager will be great

Early last year, RIM acquired Seattle-based Gist, a company that focused on integrating social media elements into contact management. The startup was founded in 2008 by T.A. McCann, who formerly worked in Microsoft’s Exchange Server Group. Gist actually received its initial funding from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital.

Now McCann’s team is taking on a key role at RIM.

“BlackBerry has always had this heritage of productivity. We are just going to make it better yet again, when we launch BB10,” McCann told Reuters recently. He says that in addition to the BlackBerry contacts app, Gist has been tasked with the responsibility of everything social at RIM including BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the Facebook and Twitter apps, instant messaging as well as much of the identity platform, BlackBerry ID.

A Gist user review hints at the possibilities:

“The main idea behind Gist is pretty similar to other social media aggregators like MyBlogLog, FriendFeed, Seesmic and Google Buzz” says Gist user Dustin Luther. “However, there’s one HUGE improvement they’ve made. Rather than forcing you to view updates based on a timeline (i.e. most recent updates first), they allow you to view updates in a “people” mode where you can view all the updates from that person (whether they are on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, foursquare, etc.) based on the importance that you’ve selected. (Facebook has tried to do this with their “top news” feature, but it’s crude at best and doesn’t do a great job finding updates that are important to me)”.

2. It will have a cool camera

When new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins offered a sneak peak at some of the features of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, the things that got the biggest oohs and aahs from the crowd at BlackBerry World were the new camera features. A tidy demo that followed showed the new camera will allow the user to “go back in time” using a circular timeline slider to pick the perfect moment. While the phone looks to be a marked improvement over what is on the market today, it is unlikely that it will present a distinct business advantage, as the technology behind it is licensed from a Swedish company called Scalado that was acquired by Nokia in June.

3. It will have better battery life

The new BB10 devices will feature an OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screen that, unlike its LED counterparts, doesn’t require a backlight. While some budget devices, such as the Toshiba T-02D and the Samsung Exhilarate, have employed OLED, RIM has the opportunity to bring it to the mainstream. Other details reveal that RIM is extremely battery focused with BB10. The new BBM, for instance, will feature a darker screen that will save battery life by as much as 25%. And for real road warriors, Thorsten Heins told the Wall Street Journal recently that BlackBerry 10 phones will include a removable battery, so heavy users can swap a fresh one in, rather than traipse around an airport for a power source.

4. It will be fast

RIM acquired QNX, which became BlackBerry 10 after a legal spat, in April 2010. The Ottawa-based company was founded in 1980 and acquired by Harman International in 2004. QNX developed an operating system called the QNX Neutrino, which is more familiar to those familiar with OS’s used in mission critical environments, such as high speed trains in Europe and Japan, nuclear power plants, even the Canadarm. Neutrino employs a micro-kernal structure in which each application runs in its own memory space on this operating system, allowing the device to multi-task like nothing that is currently on the market.

5. Lack of apps won’t be an issue

One could argue that many apps built for the iPhone were necessary because the device’s browser did not support Adobe Flash. But that’s a story for another day, especially now that that fence has been mended in the post Steve Jobs world. A persistent critique of BlackBerrys has been BlackBerry App World, which is dwarfed by Apple App Store. But Alec Saunders RIM’s VP of developer relations, says the image that BlackBerry is bleeding app developers is simply false. BlackBerry App World, he points out has grown its vendor base by 157% in the past year, and just passed the three billion download mark. The QNX Neutrino operating system, which provides support for Adobe Flash and Air, Java, HTML 5.0 and C++. makes it inherently developer friendly, insists Saunders.

“I have been receiving a lot of feedback from developers personally and I can tell you that I am hearing again and again that developers are amazed by how easy it is to work with the BlackBerry 10 tools, ” he said recently, adding: “They appreciate the open nature of our platform, which allows developers to bring their work and their skills and find a toolset that will work for them.”

Among BlackBerry App World’s more than 90,000 apps, you’ll now find all the regular battery monitoring and texting ones, plus brands such as Pandora, Angry Birds, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Source: Cantech Letter

Is Aliyun OS really Linux? Android? A rip-off of both?

When Acer was ready to announce a new smartphone running Alibaba’s Aliyun operating system, Google responded with force. If it were to be released, Google would end its parternship with Acer, which uses Android for 90 percent of its smartphones.

Acer swiftly cancelled the release, but clearly Acer wasn’t happy about the state of affairs. Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, was even less happy.

Alibaba says it wants Aliyun OS to be the “Android of China,” claimign that they’ve spent years working on their Linux-based mobile operating system.

Google didn’t see it that way. Google thinks Alibaba is an Android rip-off.

In Google’s Android Official Blog, Andy Rubin, Google’s senior vice president of mobile and digital content said:

“We built Android to be an open source mobile platform freely available to anyone wishing to use it. In 2008, Android was released under the Apache open source license and we continue to develop and innovate the platform under the same open source license — it is available to everyone at: http://source.android.com. This openness allows device manufacturers to customize Android and enable new user experiences, driving innovation and consumer choice.”

But: “While Android remains free for anyone to use as they would like, only Android compatible devices benefit from the full Android ecosystem. By joining the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), each member contributes to and builds one Android platform — not a bunch of incompatible versions.”

Android is a mobile operating system branch of Linux. While there have been disagreements between developers, Android and mainstream Linux buried the hatchet in March 2012.

So, from where Google sits, Aliyun OS is an incompatible Android fork.  John Spelich, Alibaba vice president of international corporate affairs replied oddly: “[Google] have no idea and are just speculating. Aliyun is different.”

How can Google have no idea about what Aliyun is if it is indeed, as Alibaba claims, a Linux fork? Linux is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GPLv2). Part of that license insists that if a GPLv2 program is released to general users, the source code must be made publicly available. Thus, perhaps Google doesn’t have any idea because, as Spelich indidicted and far as I’ve been able to find, Aliyun’s source code is not available anywhere. If indeed the source code isn’t open and freely available, even if Aliyun has no Android connection, this would still make it an illegal Linux fork.

Spelich went on to claim that Aliyun is “not a fork,” adding: “Ours is built on open-source Linux.” In addition, Aliyon runs “our own applications. It’s designed to run cloud apps designed in our own ecosystem. It can run some but not all Android apps.”

Rubin, in a Google+ post, replied, “We agree that the Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem and you’re under no requirement to be compatible.”

“However, ” he continued, “[t]he fact is, Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps). So there’s really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform and takes advantage of all the hard work that’s gone into that platform by the OHA.”

Hands on research by Android Police, a publication dedicated to Android reporting and analysis, shows that Aliyun app store includes pirated Google apps.

Android Police found that, “Aliyun’s app store appeared to be distributing Android apps scraped from the Play Store and other websites, not only downloadable to Aliyun devices as .apk files, but also provided by third parties not involved with the apps’ or games’ development. What’s more, we’ve received independent confirmation from the original developers of some of these apps that they did not in fact give consent for their products to be distributed in Aliyun’s app store.”

Not the least of the evidence is that the Aliyun includes Google’s own Android applications such as Google Translate, Google Sky Map, Google Drive, and Google Play Books. The odds of Google giving Aliyun permission to use its own applications are somewhere zero and none.

What we seem to have in Aliyun is an illegal Android and Linux fork, which supports a pirated software ecosystem. I only wonder that Google didn’t come down even harder on Acer and I really wonder how much due diligence, if any, Acer did before signing a deal with Alibaba.

Source: ZDNet

New chip could lead to era of ultra-fast, powerful computing

A group of scientists have developed a quantum computer chip that could lead to ultra-fast computer processors, which would outperform those found in today’s standard electronics and smartphones.

The group, led by researchers from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Photonics, will unveil the new silicon quantum chip at the 2012 British Science Festival, which starts Tuesday.

The new silicon chips are significant because they work by manipulating light particles to perform calculations, an improvement over current chips that use electrical currents.

The new chips are also 1,000 times smaller than older chips made of glass, and could eventually be used to develop tiny hybrid processors – a mix of conventional and quantum processors — in all computers and smartphones.

The centre’s deputy director Mark Thompson said the development of the new, smaller chips means researchers can use the technology in devices that were previously not compatible with older chips.

This means new areas of science can be explored, said Thompson.

“This is very much the start of a new field of quantum-engineering, where state-of-the-art micro-chip manufacturing techniques are used to develop new quantum technologies and will eventually realize quantum computers that will help us understand the most complex scientific problems,” he said in a press release.

One way the team plans to use the new chips is to create safer communication in today’s electronic devices, by creating completely secure environments for online activities such as shopping and banking.

The new chips transmit information in a specialized quantum state that changes whenever someone tries to intercept the data. This makes it impossible for someone to grab information undetected. And because of their tiny size, the chips could eventually be installed in today’s thin smartphones, tablets and computers, protecting the devices from hackers.

Eventually the research team believes the new chip will lead to the development of a fully-functioning quantum processor — a powerful type of computer with unprecedented computing power. A quantum computing device is powerful enough to solve trillions of equations at a time.

A quantum processor could used be in a number of different applications, including the design of new materials and pharmaceuticals.

Source: Bristol University News

Google engineer finds British spyware on PCs and smartphones

Two security researchers have found new evidence that legitimate spyware sold by British firm Gamma International appears to be being used by some of the most repressive regimes in the world.

Google security engineer Morgan Marquis-Boire and Berkeley student Bill Marczak were investigating spyware found in email attachments to several Bahraini activists. In their analysis they identified the spyware infecting not only PCs but a broad range of smartphones, including iOS, Android, RIM, Symbian, and Windows Phone 7 handsets.

The spying software has the capability to monitor and report back on calls and GPS positions from mobile phones, as well as recording Skype sessions on a PC, logging keystrokes, and controlling any cameras and microphones that are installed.

They report the code appears to be FinSpy, a commercial spyware sold to countries for police criminal investigations. FinSpy was developed by the German conglomerate Gamma Group and sold via the UK subsidiary Gamma International. In a statement to Bloomberg, managing director Martin Muench denied the company had any involvement.

“As you know we don’t normally discuss our clients but given this unique situation it’s only fair to say that Gamma has never sold their products to Bahrain,” he said. “It is unlikely that it was an installed system used by one of our clients but rather that a copy of an old FinSpy demo version was made during a presentation and that this copy was modified and then used elsewhere.”

Parallel research by computer investigators at Rapid7 found command and control software servers for the FinSpy code running in Indonesia, Australia, Qatar, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Mongolia, Latvia, and the United Arab Emirates, with another server in the US running on Amazon’s EC2 cloud systems. Less than 24 hours after the research was published, the team noted that several of these servers were shut down.

Gamma and FinSpy gained notoriety last year when documents apparently from the company were found in the Egyptian security service headquarters when it was ransacked by protestors after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. These appear to be a proposal that the Egyptian government buy a five-month license for the software for €287,000. Again Gamma denied involvement.

But Marquis-Boire and Marczak told The New York Times that they appear to have found a link to Gamma in these latest code samples. The malware for Symbian phones uses a code certificate issued to Cyan Engineering, whose website is registered to one Johnny Geds.

The same name is listed as Gamma Group’s sales contact on the FinSpy proposal uncovered in the raid on Egypt’s security headquarters. Muench has confirmed they do employ someone of that name in sales but declined to comment further.

Commercial spyware is an increasingly lucrative racket, as El Reg has pointed out, and there’s growing evidence that Britain is one of the leading players in the market. Privacy International has formally warned the British government that it will be taking legal action on the issue and this latest research only adds weight to the issue.

Source: The Register

Latest Java software opens PCs to hackers: experts

Computer security firms are urging PC users to disable Java software in their browsers, saying the widely installed, free software from Oracle Corp opens machines to hacker attacks and there is no way to defend against them.

The warnings, which began emerging over the weekend from Rapid7, AlienVault and other cyber security firms, are likely to unnerve a PC community scrambling to fend off growing security threats from hackers, viruses and malware.

Researchers have identified code that attacks machines by exploiting a newly discovered flaw in the latest version of Java. Once in, a second piece of software called “Poison Ivy” is released that lets hackers gain control of the infected computer, said Jaime Blasco, a research manager with AlienVault Labs.

Several security firms advised users to immediately disable Java software — installed in some form on the vast majority of personal computers around the world — in their Internet browsers. Oracle says that Java sits on 97 percent of enterprise desktops.

“If exploited, the attacker will be able to perform any action the victim can perform on the victim’s machine,” said Tod Beardsley, an engineering manager with Rapid7’s Metasploit division.

Computers can get infected without their users’ knowledge simply by a visit to any website that has been compromised by hackers, said Joshua Drake, a senior research scientist with the security firm Accuvant.

Java is a computer language that enables programmers to write one set of code to run on virtually any type of machine. It is widely used on the Internet so that Web developers can make their sites accessible from multiple browsers running on Microsoft Windows PCs or Macs from Apple Inc.

An Oracle spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment on the matter.

Security experts recommended that users not enable Java for universal use on their browsers. Instead, they said it was safest to allow use of Java browser plug-ins on a case-by-case basis when prompted for permission by trusted programs such as GoToMeeting, a Web-based collaboration tool from Citrix Systems Inc

Rapid7 has set up a web page that tells users whether their browser has a Java plug-in installed that is vulnerable to attack: www.isjavaexploitable.com

Source: Reuters

Ryan says: I would recommend updating to the latest version of Java.  The latest version of Java Runtime Environment JRE-64-bit is here. For users with older computers, try downloading the latest version in 32-bit.

Valve: Agree to not sue us or lose access to Steam

Gamers beware: Valve Software, the firm behind immensely popular gaming portal Steam, wants you to waive your right to sue before you continue gathering games using its digital distribution platform. The company has amended its subscriber agreement to stipulate that by subscribing to its service, users agree to not file lawsuits against the company. Gaming giants Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE) and Electronic Arts (EA) have similar policies in place, Kotaku notes.

“It’s clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers,” Valve said in a statement. “In far too many cases however, class actions don’t provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims.”

The statement continued, ”Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.”

Source: Yahoo!

iPhone 4S iOS 5.1.1 Unlock Now Available at Ryan’s Unlock Shop

The long awaited  iPhone 4S iOS 5.1.1 Unlock is now available for purchase off of our unlocking website.  The newest unlock on the market works flawlessly with easy to use function, no programming, no 112, no SIM cutting required!  This unlock has been fully tested and will work with every carrier in Canada!

We have a limited quantity of the newest iOS 5.1.1 unlock so if you need one, give us a call or checkout on the site (Free Shipping to anywhere in Canada is INCLUDED.)

What are the “Top 4” benefits of Unlocking and Jailbreaking an iPhone 4S?

More and better apps

The main reason for unlocking your iPhone is to be able to install as many apps as you wish. This cannot happen when you have your iPhone running on the software that you bought with it. Some of the most important apps that will serve you are normally restricted. Most of the times when you try to install them on your new iPhone you will receive an error message similar to this- the application is not from a trusted supplier.  The best way that you can avoid this is by unlocking the newly purchased iPhone. After all, you bought the phone so that it could serve you in the ways that you wish for.

Change your iPhone camera to perform video recording

Well, many of us who have been using the iPhone can bear witness that the mobile handset does not perform video recording as expected by most users. This is one disadvantage that the iPhone developers failed to consider. You can easily overcome this nightmare by trying out to unlock your iPhone. Once you have unlocked it you will be able to use the normal camera that the phone has to carry out video recording. This will require you to install other applications that will facilitate this.

Use the best themes

One thing that we are used to in the iPhones is the normal interface that they have on their handsets. Are you bored by this? Well, I am a victim that cannot bear having the same theme each year I get a new iPhone. Therefore the best way to solve this issue is to unlock my iphone. It is very easy to download and install the themes that you want once your iPhone is unlocked. You should try out the themes that are compatible with your iPhone I am sure that you will love it.

Feeling of being free

Last but not least, the most important reason that we decide to have our iPhones unlocked is to have the feeling of being free to do anything. It is very hard to carry out any function on the iPhone that you have before you get to unlock it. This is because everything is copyright protected. This means that you are limited to the usage of your device. This is why we look for options that will break us free from the carrier that we are using.

 

Apple patches serious security holes in iOS devices

Apple has shipped a high-priority iOS update to fix multiple security holes affecting the browser used on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.

The iOS 5.1.1 update fixes four separate vulnerabilities, including one that could be used to take complete control of an affected device.

Here’s the skinny of this batch of updates:

  • A URL spoofing issue existed in Safari. This could be used in a malicious web site to direct the user to a spoofed site that visually appeared to be a legitimate domain. This issue is addressed through improved URL handling. This issue does not affect OS X systems.
  • Multiple security holes in the open-source WebKit rendering engine. These could lead to cross-site scripting attacks from maliciously crafted web sites. These vulnerabilities were used during Google’s Pwnium contest at this year’s CanSecWest conference.
  • A memory corruption issue in WebKit. Visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This issue was discovered and reported by Google’s security team.

This patch is only available via iTunes. To check that the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad has been updated:

  1. Navigate to Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Select About. The version after applying this update will be “5.1.1″.

Ryan says: As always, do not update to 5.1.1 if your iPhone is unlocked or jailbroken already or if you plan doing this in the future.

New iPhone app enables self-destructing sext messages

Sexting, or the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs between mobile phones, continues to grow increasingly popular. Mobile users often have private photos posted to the Internet without their permission, and politicians and celebrities alike have taken explicit photos that using mobile devices that were eventually leaked. Unfortunately for Anthony Weiner, the congressman wasn’t aware of an iPhone app by the name of Snapchat. The program is available for free in Apple’s App Store and allows users to send photos that self-destruct within 1-10 seconds. Images cannot be saved in the app, and Snapchat will even notify users if the recipient takes a screenshot — though there is no way to prevent screenshots from being taken, of course. It should also be noted that images are stored on the developer’s servers, and while the company “attempt(s) to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted,” it cannot guarantee messages will always be deleted. “Messages, therefore, are sent at the risk of the user,” the company’s privacy policy warns.

Source: Forbes / BGR

If You Have a Smart Phone, Anyone Can Now Track Your Every Move

Location services company Navizon has a new system, called Navizon I.T.S., that could allow tracking of visitors in malls, museums, offices, factories, secured areas and just about any other indoor space. It could be used to examine patterns of foot traffic in retail spaces, assure that a museum is empty of visitors at closing time, or even to pinpoint the location of any individual registered with the system. But let’s set all that aside for a minute while we freak out about the privacy implications.

Most of us leave Wi-Fi on by default, in part because our phones chastise us when we don’t. (Triangulation by Wi-Fi hotspots is important for making location services more accurate.) But you probably didn’t realize that, using proprietary new “nodes” from Navizon, any device with an active Wi-Fi radio can be seen by a system like Navizon’s.

Navizon’s technology is also reminiscent of the location data provided to retailers and marketers by Skyhook’s Spotrank system, which has a different set of pros and cons: That data is available for every point on the planet, but it only includes devices running Skyhook software.

The rollout of this technology means there are now at least three ways that users can track their locations indoors, where GPS is generally useless — bluetooth beacon, Spotrank (and proprietary vendor) databases of Wi-Fi hotspots, and Navizon’s I.T.S. nodes. It also marks the second way (that I know of) for you to be tracked via the location of your phone, whether you want to be or not. (The first requires access to your cell phone carrier, and is used for example to locate your position when you make a 911 call.)

It shouldn’t be surprising that carrying around a little RF transmitter in your pocket makes you visible to all sorts of tracking technology. Maybe it’s simply the (inevitable) commercialization of this fact that is somehow unnerving.

 

 

Source: Technology Review

WARNING: Factory Resetting your Android may leave private data on your device

It’s never fun to have to issue a warning, but a new study by the LA Times indicates that the Factory Reset function on Android devices may not work as advertised. The site worked with a security expert to run a test on BlackBerry, Android, and iOS devices as well as PCs. It discovered that important, sensitive data could be retrieved on a large portion of Android devices even after the Factory Reset feature had been properly used.

Robert Siciliano, an identity theft expert from McAfee performed the experiment, where he purchased 30 used devices (mostly smartphones and laptops) from random users on Craigslist. His goal was to see how smart people were about removing their personal information from phones, but as it turns out, even though a majority of owners did correctly Factory Reset their Android devices, he was still able to retrieve vital data like “Social Security numbers, child support documents, credit card account log-ins, and a host of other personal data.” This finding is all the more disturbing since he could find no problems with the way iPhones, iPads, or BlackBerry devices delete their data. The only other weak link was Windows XP, which is so old it’s almost expected.

We’ve reached out to Google’s Android team to try and learn more about this potential vulnerability, but have not heard back as of publication. We’ll update this article if and when we get some answers.

Until we learn more, we don’t recommend that you don’t sell your used Android devices to anyone that you don’t know or trust. It’s quite possible that personal information could be leaked from it.

Ryan: I’ve owned a couple Android phones and I also have the Galaxy Tab.. I am back to BlackBerry and using the 9900, I find Android Phones to drop calls and bug out with force close errors more often like I like when using a phone.  And I can’t seem to drop this keyboard.. emails are much quicker on a BlackBerry than other devices. It would be interesting if RIM decided to let other companies use their keyboard design.

Source: DigitalTrends