Monday, August 30, 2010

Traitorware From Apple

Apple's Odd Patent

It was kind of a slow news week, and when that happens there's always some interesting incendiary anti-Apple article to talk about. I'm going to start out by saying that the EFF calling a patent Apple filed "traitorware" is going a bit far - after all, it's not even a real product yet. Still, it's an interesting solution to the problem of theft.

In a nutshell, the patent is to use things like taking a picture, measuring various biometrics, GPS coordinates, voice recognition, whether your phone is jailbroken, and/or keystrokes to determine if you're the one using your device. The article from Computer World focuses a lot on jailbreaking for some reason - Apple can already technically remote wipe your device if they know it's jailbroken - not even they're crazy enough to do something like that though. The real issue is that giving them that level of information about you is scary. Your heart rhythm is pretty private health information - can you trust Apple with something like that? What's even scarier is the prospect of them collecting this information without you knowing about it. Doesn't this all seem to be going a bit far in the name of identifying unauthorized users of your device? Not if you think of it as their device that you're borrowing instead of your device, which may be their mindset.

The point that I'm trying to make in a somewhat roundabout way is that technology is a wonderful, magical thing, but it's up to us to keep advancements in technology in check. The EFF is just trying to sound the alarm on this issue early. If we don't speak up when scary stuff like this happens, we get on a slippery slope of trading away our privacy for less important advancement in software. Apple has not implemented this yet and it's very possible that they never will, but if they do then how will you react? Will you continue to support them?

Net Neutrality Worst Case Scenarios

In the wake of all this Verizon/Google net neutrality stuff, Mashable put together a few frightening and (mostly) believable scenarios of a world without net neutrality. It's funny that the first two relate to the progression of TV, which has clearly evolved into a far from a consumer-friendly industry ripe with petty fighting and unreasonable pricing.

A couple of the situations are on the other side. The government could go power crazy and over-regulate the Internet, but I think that there are too many Internet lobbyists to alow something like that to happen. There is an argument to be made for the fact that the amount of wireless spectrum available is limited, but I don't think that rules out a net neutral WiMax network if built correctly (not an expert in wireless communication though). I know that Verizon disagrees, but I don't understand how constrained capacity means that you can't send bits faster instead of just more bits at once.

In any case, I think people would have less problems with nominal wireless network management from Verizon if it was more clearly defined as really benefiting the greater good and being abundantly transparent. When you throw in clauses to add tiered services, you lose a lot of points even if there can be some argument made for wireless network management.

Galaxy S

That's the line of Samsung Galaxy S phones, and it looks like every major network gets one, though there are tiny differences between them, like 4G on the Sprint one or better battery life on the T-Mobile one. I personally think that the keyboard on the Sprint Captivate model is really cool because most Android phones lack a physical keyboard, but all 4 are probably the sexiest phones Samsung has come out with in a while. What's interesting is that these are much more multimedia focused than other models, which makes sense since Samsung is known for superior video and audio quality. Maybe they'll be able to attract more 3-D games to Android. In any case, they're definitely devices to keep on the radar.

Netflix for the iPhone

This is one of those things that I think really helps sell iPhones: Netflix has made an app for streaming some of their movies directly to your iPhone. It's apparently not quite optimized yet, but I think this is a pretty big deal since it's yet another way to consume movies aside from their ideal venue (a move theater). It just goes to show how much that industry is evolving as much as the MPAA has tried to resist it (obviously certain studios do get it for this app to exist at all). Of course, you could have probably also guessed that from Blockbuster's current problems.

Digg v4

Digg got a face lift last week, and I personally really like it. Public opinion has been mixed, but I think change is always like that on the Internet. I think they've done a really great job trying to innovate in the news aggregation space by taking into account the people that you actually care about. It applies the technology you use to get from useless information from your Facebook feed to information that you should care about: actual news. It's still a little rough around the edges, but I do hope that it works out in the end for Digg.


Just a few one-liners:

Beware of HDMI cables upselling you on their refresh rate - it's all marketing lies.

This is a pretty interesting article on what fields of study Computer World thinks will be useful for getting a job in the future.

For a bit of cell phone nostalgia, you'll appreciate these old school ads.

This year was the biggest price hike yet for movie theater tickets, mostly because of 3-D. Ouch. When I was growing up, a movie was just $6!

Last but not least, the new Kindle is out!

Have a fantastic week!

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