Many American citizens have noticed the high coast of broadband Internet connectivity throughout the United States, as well as the very high prices that often accompany it (compared to countries like South Korea, for example, or most of Europe). As a service that is essentially a utility, critical for many Americans not only for communication, but for submitting forms to the Government, starting a business or even finding work, the Internet is essentially a utility – not a luxury. So why isn’t it being treated like one?
In this video, Bill Moyer interviews Susan Crawford, the former Special Assistant to President Obama for Science, Technology and Innovation, and now the author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Guilded Age.
The interview examines issues like secret non-competition agreements between the major telecoms, price-rigging, and influence-peddling to stifle competition. It’s a great watch and helps us understand how the telecoms are essentially acting the the Robber Barons of yesteryear.
In a Tweet early this morning, controversial Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom announced that he would offer a reward of 10,000 Euros (nearly $14,000 USD) to anyone who could crack the encryption used on Mega, his new Cloud storage service.
The main selling point of this new service is it’s user-controlled encryption, so it’s important to the folks in charge of the company to make sure it’s secure. Mega isn’t the first to do this – other tech companies like Firefox, Google and Dropbox also offer monetary rewards to those who find bugs in their systems.
Mega has already been fortunate to have the support of the global cryptographic community, who have been offering their assistance in refining Mega’s encryption and security. It is likely that the offer will solicit further assistance from computer users around the world.
In the United States the Digital Millennium Copyright Act outlaws attempts to circumvent digital rights management tools. For a time, there was an exemption to this law regarding unlocking smartphones, but it its no longer in place. As of last week, it is no longer legal to unlock a phone without the express consent of the carrier.
While exemptions still exist that allow for jailbreaking and rooting of cellphones (for the next 3 years, anyways), this is not the case with tablet computers. A loophole still exists that allows used phones that were previously purchased or acquired (gifted, perhaps?) can still be unlocked.
What do you think about this provision of DMCA? Do you think carriers who subsidize phones for their clients should be able to decide what it done to the code they install? Tell us in the comments below!
Facebook recently promised that their newest update to Facebook Messenger for the iPhone would include VoIP, which would let you call your Friends using a cellular or wi-fi data connection instead of your phone’s plan minutes.
Gizmodo recently tested the new feature and found it worked perfectly on their office wi-fi. To use it, just click on a Friend’s profile in FB Messenger, then click on “Free Call”.
Just remember to make your calls while you’re on wi-fi otherwise your standard data usage rates will apply.
As the hack of the accounts of former Gizmodo writer Mat Honan proved, it takes more than good passwords to keep your accounts safe. In fact, technically speaking, Mr. Honan’s accounts weren’t ‘hacked’ – the attackers used some simple social engineering and gained access with a few calls to Apple and Amazon support. But, thanks to this article from Lifehacker, you can keep it from happening to you. Coles notes below!
Audit services like iCloud: online services like iCloud are not as secure as you think. Though Mr. Honan goes into more detail in this article on Wired, we can sum up his recommendations with:
Some services (like Google and Facebook) will not only require a password to access but can also send a special, one-time code to your phone that must also be used to access the account. If any of your online services offer this, use it.
Beef up your password recovery
Set up a non-primary email address to send password recovery messages to
This handy list of “the best of the worst” lets you know what “tech speak” geeks in the know love to hate – at least, in terms of this past year! Drum roll, please!
Micron: a unit of size measurement that is approximately half the size of an E. Coli bacteria. Apple has been gushing about their production methods being so precise that iPhone components are built to only dozens of microns difference – sizes so small a human brain can’t grasp them.
Pixel Density: the number of pixels crammed into a smartphone’s screen. Developers neglect to mention that, once you reach a certain point (which has long been surpassed) you cannot see the individual pixels anymore, so this doesn’t actually affect image quality unless your eyes are electron microscopes.
Phablet: is it a phone? Is it a tablet? All we know is that you can’t really fit it in your pocket, which is ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as using this name to describe them.
Hacktivist: most hackers (especially the ones this term refers to) aren’t actually activists – just hackers with an axe to grind, rather than people fighting for a cause that betters the world.
Cyber-______: “cyber-warfare”. “Cyber-security”. The list goes on. Either way, way to 90’s a term for the 21st century!
Crowdfunding: while we personally think this can work quite well (and for some people, it has) the article’s author considers it a lazy person’s way to raise capital and considers the practice the same as getting a “hot stock tip from your uncle at Thanksgiving”.
Brogrammers: it used to be true that most computer programmers had assorted social disorders and terrible taste in clothes…but the field is much more open to “normal” people now, with wider social circles, more popularly-acceptable hobbies and even *gasp* a sense of style. Confused onlookers have taken to calling these folks “brogrammers”. Ugh.
IPO: thanks to “Facebook fever” far too many people starting thinking that IPO=money, though this is not the case. A term that has been used in financial circles for some time, it is now widely used and abused by the general public.
There you have – 9 tech terms that have been driving people crazy. Do you have any “favorites” not listed here? Tell us in the comments!
ItsOn Mobile has spent the past 4 years working in secret to make this happen. Their software for mobile carriers allows them to offer ‘dynamic pricing’ on their mobile data plans, meaning each aspect of your plan can be customized: unlimited data for specific apps like Facebook but pay-as-you-go for others? Sure. Have companies pay for your data usage if you buy products through their apps (like Amazon)? No problem. Ad-supported Internet access? Can do. Pay for more data access directly through your phone? Sure!
ItsOn has teamed up with an (unnamed) major US carrier for a launch early next year, and plans to launch in Europe shortly after.
Is this the future of mobile? Many consumers would argue for greater control of their data plans, although US carriers have traditionally been reluctant to adopt pay-as-you-go models. Time will tell.
Online genius Nathan created what may well be the nerdiest Hallowe’en decoration of all time: a pumpkin that you can play Tetris on.
He goes into detail of the construction on his blog, from the holes he drills into the pumpkin and how he used the stem as a joystick, to how he wired up the LEDs that become “Pumpktris'” display. He even programmed the game himself!
Simply put, it’s the most amazing display of pumpkin engineering I have ever seen. You can watch the video above and if you want more details on this and his other projects, check out his blog.
Gizmodo has just posted a very interesting piece about some games or game designers who are using the medium as a way to advance social or scientific change.
There’s a surprisingly varied number of ways that games and gaming are being leveraged to improve the human condition:
Medical research: Researchers at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon Universities have designed 2 games (FoldIt and EteRNA) that allow players to fold proteins or arrange molecules to create RNA strands. Every other week Stanford will then synthesize between 4 and 16 strands. Bam! Crowdsourced medical research!
Making people happy:Katherine Isbister, a researcher at NYU-Poly is working on the idea that moving as if we were happy would elevate our mood. A principle long-known in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Professor Isbister is creating games that study, and do, just that.
Improve communication: after a trip to Japan (where he became lost in Tokyo), game designer Chris Bell created a game called Way, where players communicate using “universal” signals and gestures to solve puzzles.
Study history: the creator of the cinematic cut scenes for big games like Grand Theft Auto III, Navid Khonsari is creating a game that takes players into the events of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Players are immersed in the lives and situations of a variety of characters and thus gain a broader perspective of a powerful time in 20th-century events.
Understand human behaviour:Use It Better, a company whose technology is normally used to identify cheating players, believes that their tech can be used to remotely analyze a host of human behaviours and conditions, such as colour-blindness, diabetes or Attention-Deficit Disorder.
Groups like Games for Change help harness the motivation, creativity and energy of a MASSIVE group of people to help improve the world by having fun – a potent combination indeed!