Well, it has happened again. It looks like more of your personal information was just stolen. It might not be your personal data, but then again it very well may be. Visa, MasterCard, and Discover just released information about a breach of their customers’ data. They were quick to point out that their systems were not breached, but rather a third party company. I’m not really sure that made anyone of their customers any happier about the situation.
The first question that came to my mind was how many people are affected by this? As of yet, that information hasn’t been released. Update: it look as though as many as 50K accounts are affected. As a matter of fact, not a lot of information has been release, but here are some of the facts we know:
- The breaches occurred between January 21st and February 25th of this year.
- Affected banks have been notified.
- Trading of Atlanta’s based Global Payments Inc. was halted after dropping 9.1%.
So, not a whole lot of details yet. But I am sure that when the details do come out, it won’t make anyone feel much safer about the security of their personal information.
Isn’t it great how advanced smart phones are? They let you carry pretty much all of your information around with you wherever you go. However, that convenience turns to horror when you can’t find your phone. I remember when losing my wallet when I was younger. It had nothing of value other than my license, and I lost at least three days’ of sleep. I can’t imagine losing a device that contains as much information as my phone does. For this reason, if no other, smart phones allows you to enter a PIN so that your data is protected if it should happen to fall into the wrong hands.
Well, the safe feeling that PIN offers you is about to become a thing of the past thanks to a new tool called, “XRY.” It is a product that is made by a Swedish company called, Micro Systemation. It allows law enforcement officials to crack the security of most any smartphone regardless of if it is running iOS, Android, WebOS, Windows or Blackberry. In the video below you can see how quickly this tool can access an iPhone and an Android device.
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This product is strictly controlled by the manufacturer and only sold to legitimate government agencies so you shouldn’t have to worry about the kid that found you phone at the restaurant cracking it using this tool. However, with tools like this out there, you may want to keep a closer eye on your phone.
If you are anything like me, you find something new and interesting on the web everyday, stuff you want to be able to return to later. There are a ton of good services that let you do this. You can use somethings as simple as bookmarks or as feature rich as Evernote. If you want to be able to just save something so that you can read it later, then ReaditLater will work fine. But what if you wanted to store it for future reference and at the same time find other pages on the same topic, or better yet, have other people find more content for you?
This is part of the idea behind a neat service called pearltree.com. Here’s how it works: when you find something you want to keep, you create what is known as a “pearl.” You then organize these pearls into what is referred to as a “pearltree.” You can see if others have similar pearltrees and add them to your own. As their tree grows, so does yours. You can also team up with others and cultivate these trees together. This allows you to share what you find on the subject with others that you know will be interested.
The whole thing is really a pretty cool concept, but it is one of those things that you have to try for yourself to see how it really works. You also need to spend more than five minutes with it in order to really get a feel for it. Take thirty minutes and give it a try. I think you will like what you see.
Some innovative individuals just created one of the largest QR codes I have ever heard of. It is 42 square feet and sits on top the roof of a building on Facebook’s Menlo Park campus. It was the result of Facebook’s “Space Hackathon” in which Facebook employees were encouraged to make the new office space there own. However, some felt that since it was a “Space Hackathon,” it should be viewed from space. So up to the top of the roof they went to start hacking.
They registered the fbco.de domain. The thinking behind this was that the smaller the URL, the simpler the QR code would be. If you visit the site now, it just promises that something is coming soon so it will be interesting to see what pops up there in the near future.
Many are reporting that they can’t scan the QR code, and I wasn’t able to either. Of course, I was trying to scan a photo of it. However, you can be sure next time I fly to San Francisco I will be requesting a window seat in hopes of seeing this and trying to scan the real thing.
I once heard a story that some of the richest people in the world once asked how much money would be enough for them. They all replied the same, “Just a little bit more.” I have no idea if that story is true, but even if it isn’t, it shows how we humans seems to always want a little more than we have.
If you were to ask me how much disk space is enough I would most likely respond, “Just a little more.” No, strike that, I would say, “A lot more.” It seems that the amount of data we need to store always ends up eventually exceeding the amount of disk space we have.
The good news is that your disk space doesn’t take up as much physical space as it used to. Seagate just announced that it can now fit one terabit in the space of a single square inch. When I started in this business, terms like gigabit and terabit where never used; but today they are so common we seldom stop to really think about how much data that is. Think about this: we can now store more bits in a square inch than there are stars in the Milky Way. That’s a lot of bits!
I received an email the other day from a colleague that just got his new iPad. It was also his first iPad, so he was pretty excited. He asked me the same thing a lot of people ask me when they first get their iPad, “Are there any apps that you would recommend?” While I do have a list of favorites, the list changes from time to time since new apps are always coming out. So, I sat down and updated my current list of most used apps which you will fine below. I am not saying that these are the “Best Apps of 2012” or any crazy claim like that. All I am saying is that these are the apps I find myself using the most, and you may find some of them useful as well.
TeamViewer – Free, remote PC/Mac control
AppShopper – Free, list what apps have gone on sale.
Pages, Keynote and Numbers – 9.99 each, Apple Office suite
iAonnotate PDF – 9.99, allows you to markup and edit PDFs
Airdisplay – 9.99, use iPad as second monitor
Pulse – Free, RSS reader
NetFlix – Free, View Netflix videos
Blogsy – 4.99 – best blogging app I have found
Wattpad – Free, Ebooks
Read It Later – 2.99 – Mark stories for later reading
ooTunes – 4.99 – Listen to Radio
Like I said, other people are sure to have there own “list” but if you are looking for a place to start, check out some of these. Also, leave a comment if you have your own favorites.
Remember SOPA? Of course you do. That was the proposed legislation that was going to allow a copyright holder to effectively shutdown a website by the mere allegation of copyright infringement. Well, one of the people behind that bill, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has another one for us. It is the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. Sounds like a good idea. I mean, who isn’t against child pornography? I applaud the intent of the bill, however, there is a little more to it.
The bill would require an ISP to keep track of every site every one of their subscribers visits. That alone seems like a violation of privacy, but it gets better. This information would then be available to government agencies upon request. In other words, no warrant needed. OK, now I am pretty sure that is a violation of privacy. I know some would say “what do you have to hide?” Listen, you could be the most straight laced person on earth, but I guarantee there are places in your web surfing history that might require a little explaining. For example, If you read my blog yesterday, you may have ended up at a site called, hitmanforhire.com. Taken out of context that could look pretty bad.
However, all this said, if this bill could truly put an end to child pornography, I could really get behind it, with a few tweaks, of course. But sadly it won’t. There are just too many ways to get around laws like this. If you were a criminal, and you knew your every move on the Internet was being tracked, why wouldn’t you just go “steal” someone else’s Internet connection and let them take the rap?
The problem that we often run into in our careers is that the career often becomes just a job. We don’t work for the goal, we work for the weekend. Often the urgent gets in the way of the important, and we get stuck in the rut of doing what we have to just to make it through the week. When this happens, we need something to shake us out of that rut and get us back on track. In other words, we need some motivation and encouragement. I find a great source of this is to step away from my normal work and spend some time with some of today’s great thinkers.
A great way to do this is to head over to TED.com. TED is a nonprofit organization that promotes the sharing of great ideas. During TED conferences, speakers share their ideas with the audience and these presentations are recorded and made available at TED.com. The topics discussed are as varied as the speakers. While some may be more interesting to you than others, all make you think of something that is outside of your current world.
The next time you find yourself stuck in a rut, STOP. Take a few minutes and checkout a few great ideas. It just might be enough help to push you out of that rut.
I have been wondering lately what goes into some of the domain names some people pick. I mean where did Yahoo come from anyway (yes, there is a story behind it, but it’s not really that interesting and not the focus of this post). Most of the time when a domain name is picked, there is some thought behind it. You want it to be relevant, saying something about you or your organization. When I got my first domain name, it seemed only appropriate to select my last name. Since the Internet was young and not many people were registering domain names, I was able to get it. I held on to it for a long time and then someone wanted it more than me, and we made a deal.
Nowadays it seems finding a unique domain name that is catchy and relevant is harder and harder. However, the LA Times is reporting that one man was able to secure a domain name that clearly defined his business and was easy to remember. This is normally a good thing, unless of course you are a hit man like this individual was. The name of the site is HitManForHire.net. While some thought it was a joke, others took it seriously. It turns out that the man behind the website was really a hit man. Well, sort of anyway. He did take money for hits but then went to the target and demanded money to have the hit called off. I would call this more of a con man than a hit man. He ended up behind bars, and it doesn’t seem that any hits were carried out.
So what’s the moral of this story? I’m not really sure, but it’s just too good a story not to share.
If you own an iPhone or pretty much any other type of smart phone, you probably noticed that the email client automatically attaches an email signature that says something like, “Sent from my (fill in the make and model of your phone”). Personally, the first thing to do is remove the signature. Not only do others not need to know I have an iPhone, but often I prefer they not know how I am sending an email. I don’t want them thinking that I am replying to their email between bites of a burger, as if they are interrupting me.
Well, I may be alone in that feeling based on the number of those signatures I see. As a matter of fact, it seems to have become somewhat of a status symbol. In China, where iPhones cost can cost more than a thousand dollars, people who want to appear to have one but can’t afford one can sign up for a monthly service that automatically adds, “Sent from my iPhone” to messages sent through QQ, a popular messaging service. The monthly fee is only about a buck per month. I guess that is a small price to pay for the status of “owning” an iPhone. I am not really sure what a subscriber of this service says when one of their friends asks to see their new iPhone.