Other World Computing
Yahoo Ads used to deliver Flash malware Permanent Article Link

Dino Grandoni for NTY:

The scheme, which Yahoo shut down on Monday, worked like this: A group of hackers bought ads across the Internet giant's sports, news and finance sites. When a computer -- in this case, one running Windows -- visited a Yahoo site, it downloaded malware code.

From there, the malware hunted for an out-of-date version of Adobe Flash, which it could use to commandeer the computer -- either holding it for ransom until the hackers were paid off or discreetly directing its browser to websites that paid the hackers for traffic.

Wonderful. If you can't bring yourself to uninstalling Flash, you probably should consider a Flash blocking plugin for your browser. That way at least you can control which Flash elements run on your computer.




Apple reportedly again thinking of becoming a mobile carrier Permanent Article Link

Business Insider:

Instead of paying your carrier every month, you will pay Apple directly for data, calls, and texts. Apple then provides you with everything you used to get from your carrier, but the Apple SIM switches between carriers to get the best service. The telecoms companies auction capacity to Apple so it can run the service.

Apple reportedly considered going this route with the original iPhone. That move was basically out of necessity. The iPhone was so disruptive the company found it challenging to partner with existing providers. It's interesting if they're continuing to pursue being a virtual carrier as they basically now run the market.

My one thought is in the last few years Apple seems to be positioning itself to be a bigger player in services. Apple could stand to receive a decent chunk of monthly consumer spending with subscription offerings such as Apple Music, rumored TV streaming service, this rumored mobile service, plus iCloud backup/photo storage.




iOS may gain Siri-powered voicemail transcription Permanent Article Link

Business Insider:

Apple sends voice data to company servers, where Siri converts the words spoken into text. iCloud Voicemail will presumably function in the same way, sending the raw voicemails to Apple, and Siri will then transcribe them and make them available on your iPhone.

Basically sounds like Google Voice's feature.

Voicemail is kind of lame these days with so many ways to leave a message. A voicemail is really just a convenience for the person call so they don't have to take a separate action to get a message to you. Translation services makes it much more convenient for the receiver.

Rumor/speculation is the feature may be available in time for iOS 10 next year.




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Mashable's postmortem on Google+ Permanent Article Link

Simply by virtue of Google's reach, it could quickly attract millions of users to a new service. "It was clear if you looked at the per user metrics, people weren't posting, weren't returning and weren't really engaging with the product," says one former employee. "Six months in, there started to be a feeling that this isn't really working."

Some lay the blame on the top-down structure of the Google+ department and a leadership team that viewed success as the only option for the social network. Failures and disappointing data were not widely discussed.

Failure is not an option results in a turd.

An interesting deep read of what happens when fear drives innovation.




August Smart Lock now unlocks via Apple Watch Permanent Article Link

Lock and Unlock Your August Smart Lock - initiate a lock or unlock from your Apple Watch with just a swipe and a tap.

View Your Lock's Most Recent Activity - view a log of who has entered or exited your home and when, right on your wrist.

Receive Instant Notifications - get real time notifications when your door is unlocked so you have peace of mind.

Nifty concept that at least allows you to keep your phone in your pocket. It would be cool if it was as slick as Apple Pay, but the app is basically an extension of your iPhone app.




Researchers find Macs also vulnerable to some firmware worms Permanent Article Link

A type of firmware-level worm targeted at PCs have been found to also affect Macs. Such a worm is particularly challenging because it sits below the system level were typical software countermeasures can work and generally replicates itself during firmware updates.

Interestingly the worm can be spread through compromised adapters. The article suggests one way of slowly passing the worm is through knock off adapters on eBay.

"Let's say you're running a uranium refining centrifuge plant and you don't have it connected to any networks, but people bring laptops into it and perhaps they share Ethernet adapters or external SSDs to bring data in and out," [Xeno] Kovah notes. "Those SSDs have option ROMs that could potentially carry this sort of infection. Perhaps because it's a secure environment they don't use WiFi, so they have Ethernet adapters. Those adapters also have option ROMs that can carry this malicious firmware."

The worms affect Macs because Apple utilizes common reference designs on motherboards and controllers.

The article states that Apple is working on addressing the vulnerabilities.




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Dr. Dre's Compton: A Soundtrack Permanent Article Link

Over the weekend, Dr. Dre announced on The Pharmacy show on Beats 1 the release of his new album Compton: A Soundtrack. The album will be available August 7th and is currently on pre-order at iTunes.

Linked is a video clip from the Beats 1 broadcast, which was shared by Apple via Twitter. With the relationship between Dre and Apple it seems a given the announcement would have a tie-in to Beats 1 and iTunes. Still, it's interesting to see an arm of Apple working differently on social media.




Mac battery life and Chrome vs Safari Permanent Article Link

If you're a MacBook user, you're losing an average of 1 hour of total battery life by using Chrome. Firefox is a little better, but Safari is the clear winner. You'll want to use Safari if you want to get the most battery out of your laptop.

This isn't very surprising since Apple has been pushing battery life as a feature as of late. I switched to Chrome a couple years or so ago when Safari was having problems. I still use Safari on iOS, but I've got Chrome configured how I want with extensions. Someday I may go back, but I'm not sure I'm a road warrior enough for battery alone.




Apple and BMW Permanent Article Link

Reuters:

Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW's management board member in charge of the Mini brand as well as digital services declined to comment on possible talks with Apple in an interview earlier this year.

But he said: "Two worlds are colliding here. Our world, focused on hardware and our experience in making complex products, and the world of information technology which is intruding more and more into our life."

The winners will be those companies that understand how to build intelligent hardware, he said, adding it made sense for carmakers and tech firms to cooperate more closely.

"We need to get away from the idea that it will be either us or them ... We cannot offer clients the perfect experience without help from one of these technology companies," Schwarzenbauer said. That dialogue is well underway, he stressed.

Some are speculating that Apple is looking for a partnership that leads to BMW supplying an Apple-branded vehicle or at least the base of what would be an Apple car.

Reading those direct quotes, however, I'm left thinking it could be something closer to a licensing deal where Apple supplies a piece of the puzzle for car makers, not the other way around.

On the flip side, Apple took a similar approach to cell phones when it partnered with Motorola. Apple learned a lot about cell phones, even though the product was a bad flop.




Intel, Micron think its 3D XPoint could be our next generation of storage Permanent Article Link

Following more than a decade of research and development, 3D XPoint technology was built from the ground up to address the need for non-volatile, high-performance, high-endurance and high-capacity storage and memory at an affordable cost. It ushers in a new class of non-volatile memory that significantly reduces latencies, allowing much more data to be stored close to the processor and accessed at speeds previously impossible for non-volatile storage.

Basically 3D XPoint promises 1000-times faster speeds than current NAND flash storage.






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