Showing posts from 2013

New Service to Recover a Stolen Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone

Yesterday, Absolute Software announced its phone recovery service, LoJack, for the new Samsung Galaxy S4 line.  This service is a first for smartphones, and previously offered for PCs, laptops, vehicles, and even humans.  A question that people may have is: "so what?  I have software that can already do that!"

All software that is currently available to track smartphones has to be installed as an app.  There is a are problem with that: an app can be uninstalled!  Even if you have some rudimentary security mechanisms (such as a PIN) to prevent the security app from being uninstalled, the phone can be reset to factory condition, thereby erasing everything on it.  Phone service providers like AT&T and Verizon are working on creating a database to track stolen phones but you have to understand that they are in the business of selling new phones and providing service, not in law-enforcement!  The database will, therefore, not necessarily help recover phones.

This is where Lo…

Why to not Buy the International Version of the Samsung Galaxy S4?

The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in a variety of model numbers here in the US.  There is a version for AT&T (model SGH-I337), one for T-Mobile (model SGH-M919), and more for other carriers that sell the S4.  Generally, these phones are locked to their original service providers, though one can purchase an unlocked version of the S4 (GT-I9500) that is sold on Amazon, eBay, and other online merchants.

AT&T and T-Mobile will both provide you an unlock code to unfetter the phone from their networks IF one pays full retail price for it (currently $640 or above).  If you want to be able to unlock and use the phone on both AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks, you are better-off purchasing the T-Mobile model outright and getting it unlocked.  It will (according to specs published on Samsung's website) work on BOTH networks, adding some amount of flexibility to switch carriers at will.

Another advantage of paying full-price for the phone is that you are not tied into a contract …

Another Scary Security Breach

The sheer brilliance of these young criminals to steal $45 million from ATMs in a rather short time.

Food for Thought

It is high time that we experiment with devices or other mechanisms that will "ping" the nearest cellular towers even if they are turned-off or have their batteries removed. That could help the police track down kidnapped children. We have to give our nation's children these devices, if they ever become available, to protect them from the torture that Amanda, Gina, and Michelle have endured. Ways have also to be found to prevent them from being discovered by criminals if a child ever goes missing.

Why I Will Be Buying The Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. HTC One?

I visited an AT&T store yesterday to evaluate the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One for my use.  I will likely be buying the S4 sometime next month. Note that this is not a review of the phones, just my reasons for preferring the S4 over the HTC One.

My views: both are nice phones to look at, with the One having a significant edge. Its screen a bit less-brighter than the S4, but with a higher pixel density than the S4. The One is the same size as my OneX (which I just sold on eBay). The dark-grey S4 is not as good-looking as the white one. Overall, there isn't a wow-factor with the S4. The One is definitely superior in looks.

Before I saw the S4, I thought it would be a big phone (the Samsung Note II is 5.5" but looks BIG relative to the S4). Samsung has managed to make the phone look normal-sized, I think, by cleverly managing space around the viewing portion of the screen.

I hate both phones' launchers (TouchWiz vs. Sense) though the S4 has an edge here: menu system l…

Wireless Routers Are Not As Insecure As They Are Made Out To Be.

On April 17, 2013, CNET presented an article about a IT security company's evaluation of SOHO routers (the article can be seen here).  The article highlighted the security company's assertions that SOHO routers are a major security risk.  The link to the company's original report is also provided in the article.

After reading it, I realized how poorly the research was conducted by the company.  My response to the article on CNET's website is below.

My suggestion to the general public is that the should always take advice from such articles with a grain of salt.  Like others, this article, too, raises the specter of horrible things that will happen to people who use such routers when, in reality, that is far from the truth.  As we probably all have experienced, truth never lies in extreme views but in middle-of-the-road ones.  Link to an earlier blog post to understand risks and how to avoid them.

I am not saying that there are no vulnerabilities in SOHO routers, but I…

The Problem with Open Source Software

Open source software is great . . . to a point. There are free versions and paid versions, and everything in-between. A significant population of IT professionals swears by it. To a large extent, the software works great. However, when a problem arises, that's where things can begin to fall apart. To me, that is a significant problem.

The problem begins with various "flavors" that may be available, each one with an audience it aims to target and please. Backers of each flavor say theirs is better than the others'. But, things begin to fall apart when one seeks solutions to problems one may encounter in the operation of the software.

One of the things open-source proponents are proud of is the "community support" that open-source software has. I agree! But, when I have had problems with the software, there seem to be as many "solutions" to the problem as there are people in the community! Some solutions contradict those of others, some work for a …

Food for Thought: The Impact of Social Media

If someone still has any doubts about the power and impact of social media in our lives, look no further than the events that led to the capture of the Boston Marathon Bombing suspect.

Powerful Smartphones circa 2013

Food for thought:

The first IBM PC was introduced in 1981, and contained an Intel single-core microprocessor.  It took Intel 26 years from that time to build a quad-core processor.

Turn to smartphones (don't mention Crackberries to me, please!).  Most of us consider smartphones as having gained prominence in mid-2007 with the introduction of the first-generation single-core-processor-based iPhone.  The first quad-core processor went into a smartphone by mid-2012, about 5 years!

Security Flaw, Now Fixed, at Apple Again!

As if the fiasco with Wired journalist Mat Honan wasn't enough (How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking), Apple leaves another gaping hole in its security fence.  I wonder what other skeletons are in Apple's closet!  Here's the article; click on the title to read it.

Major security hole allows Apple passwords to be reset with only email address, date of birth (update)

Here's what I know and believe: any computer system, any platform, any software can be broken into.  It is not a question of "if" but of "when."  As a particular platform is more widely used, the chances of it being hacked increase.  Why?  Because hackers tend to go after platforms that are more widely deployed so as to cause widespread damage.  Thus, I am not surprised to see security holes in Android and iOS being increasingly exploited.

Interestingly, as a platform becomes popular and more widely deployed, its security features are enhanced by software makers.  Ye…