Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This Week's Smartphone News

Ok here is what happened this week:

ATT buying T-Mobile - in one of the wackiest strategies - ATT makes an attempt to enlarge their spectrum to afford them the ability to develop a stronger LTE product and bolster network availability for 3G. The AWS spectrum which T-Mobile has is valuable space which ATT does not have have currently. In getting this frequency spectrum, AT&T can deliver a national 4G band which will not contend with existing traffic on their existing UMTS Bands 850 and 1900 Mhz. Currently 3G is shooting out over the 1900 I believe so that there is a penetration problem right now with buildings for the high speed data. Verizon is using 700 Mhz which it has clear use of and lower frequency often allows better building penetration to allow use of the 4G indoors with more success.

ATT - release of LG Thrill: this is ATT's holy grail device with dual core TI Omap 1 Ghz with dual channel dual memory and 3d. This phone may have a high density display since prelim specs show an 800 x 480 QVGA resolution. It will have the potential for HDMI 1080p video out with 2d and likely 720 p for 3d output. Of interest is that this ATT handset has the ability to hit the AWS 3g band which should offer exceptional 3G speeds which are not currently available for most ATT users in US (thanks to T-Mobile's network).

Verizon - sitting pretty with the Thunderbolt now released and we are now waiting for VZW's dual core android - the Droid Bionic. Slated for April 21st release, this motorola branded set will have an nVidia Tegra 2 processor with 1 Ghz Clock. It also has a 1980 mAh battery so it would seem that the manufacturer knows it is going to be a power hungry device. Sadly there is a likely bottleneck in the design as there is not a dual channel memory scheme so the dual core procs may not yield full potential. The qHD display is a plus (960 x 540) as is the HDMI 1080p output.

T-Mobile - not daunted by the potential acquisition - as a matter of fact, if the deal does not go through, ATT still pays US T-Mobile $3billion so what the hell... T-Mobile will build out a new HSPA+ network with potential speeds in the 21 Mbs download range. Remember they have that AWS spectrum to push their 4G to the masses. No phone release news at this point but likely soon. T-Mobile announced the new LG T-Mobile G2x which appears to be similar to the AT&T Thrill minus the 3d.

Sprint - well after yesterday's CTIA announcement the tech community is busy writing about the EVO 3d. This devices sports the Qualcomm snapdragon dual core clocked at 1.2 Ghz with the ability to separately clock the cores which is hoped to conserve battery life. This is not as sexy as the dual channel memory architecture of the OMAP processor which is in the LG Optimus 3d (ATT Thrill) but may yield more usability with its 1750 mAh battery. This device also has the ability to to display 3d without glasses like the LG Optimus and HTC has done a great job with the desktop app which allows scrolling through the apps on a carousel in 3d. Of course 3d camera for video and still and HDMI out 2d at 1080p and 3d at 720p. The display is also the next gen qHD (960 x 540) so both of these out gun the Droid Bionic. Finally sprint has partnered with Google in allowing the use of a ported number for Google Voice - what will the world come to next right?

On the tethering front, the news that ATT has sent notification to users regarding wireless hotspot fees has popped up. That means jailbreaking your iphone alone will not prevent you from having to pay for your tethering. ATT messaged users who were using their iphones for tethering without an appropriate tethering plan (about $20/mo with limitations). As far as we know, the other three carriers with android phones have not notified users that they will be billed after the feature is unlocked upon rooting. Will this be coming soon as well?

Oh and the iphone 5? Pushed to Q3 now is the word, possibly to distance the Verizon iphone event...what will it contain? Don't know yet, what do you think?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the Samsung Galaxy Tab

Well it is finally here. The ipad alternative is available, is it any good?

You could read here:

Now the long and short of it is that this device is a success. The ipad is a formidable device, one that has been in development for over 5 years. Apple's engineers have worked out the UI for this device even prior to including it in the iphone and the ipod touch. It is definitely a hard act for competitors to follow. That said Samsung has done a very good job with the Galaxy Tab.

Remember that Samsung is an LCD screen manufacturer and this device does not disappoint. Screen quality is phenomenal according to the reports above. As a piece of hardware, it runs quickly, not lagging like the other poor android implementations in other android tablets. Screen quality is arguably better than the ipad for the same reason that the iphone itself is better than other smartphones right now - the pixel density of the display is higher. This alone makes the experience remarkable.

Finally, I like the fact that Android presents itself as an platform affording great levels of customization. This may not be for everyone but I think a lot of users will prefer this level of control.

While the ability to make voice calls has been blocked by all the cell carriers in this first version of the Galaxy Tab for the US, no one can deny that having the dual cameras for both photo/video recording and live video conference calling via Qik makes this a a truly wonderful device.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

wifi Hotspot warning

For some time now I have been telling customers to be cautious about using wifi networks in public areas. Of course most people thought I was wrong to worry about this.

Today on the Marketplace Tech report, news is that there is a canned solution which potentially can mine the website cookies out of your browser while you are in a coffee shot/airport/other public place with open wifi.

The way this works is that the "cookies" which your browser saves are there for a few reasons. Primarily, the first purpose is that the cookie makes the loading of a web page which you go to regularly load faster. This is because it sets the content based upon what you have viewed previously. This also serves to aid marketers by collecting behavioral information to allow marketers to shape their campaigns in a way which is more effective.

Another way this saves you time is that it can store your log in and password information which makes your web experience simpler. This is however how the exploit works. This new exploit which is called firesheep, goes out into the open network and connects to your browser looking at the "cookies". By obtaining this information, there is a possible way to gain the access to your Facebook account, Hotmail email account or more.

Luckily for my customers, Gmail has this year been transitioned to HTTPS log in to create an encrypted session which prevents these sessions from snooping.

Additionally, there are some new plug ins for firefox which will slow the penetration into your computer while you log into these websites.

We are at the beginning of securing this problem so contact me if you need help with this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

another round of security updates from microsoft!

Today is Super Tuesday update day for the month. There are many security patches that rolled from Redmond today - make sure you install them!

There are 7 remote code execution fixes and 2 elevation of priveledge fixes. These are important ones and should be loaded right away.

In addition, remember to keep up your advanced system care as new modules have been rolled out for that application as well!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New patches from Microsoft today

As an addition to the security issue I was posting from Sunday, Microsoft has a large barrage of security updates which have just rolled out to curb the Trojan attack which is plaguing many windows users who have been using streaming media.

Please install all patches today and run scans to test for penetration on your computers...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Let's try to avoid listening to radio stations on the PC ok?

**Update - this information includes streaming audio from Pandora. I tested this today and had 7 intrusion attempts which were partially stopped by NOD32 4.0. Upon running my super antispyware, I found trojan.agent/Gen-CDec[X] had been installed. You have been warned!

Well I am back. It has been an interesting summer to say the least. The top issue I am covering for my clients seems to be the fake antivirus scanner trojan/exploit.

What this is: Your computer has been penetrated with a malware product which tells you that you are being hacked. It itself is fake, in that it is a multistage exploit with the intent of having you click through many things to get the final target payload of malware installed on your computer.

Even if you do not fully launch this nefarious app, it will cause a lot of problems as the code will disable your tools to fix your computer including:

a) your antivirus program will be degraded - often just removing it from the toolbar so you cannot see the warnings from it

b) your malware tools will not launch properly or if they can, will not update

c) your IP traffic will be rerouted (via proxy server) so that the next rounds of malware can be sent to your computer without your approval

d) possibly since a proxy server has been set - your computer will be using someone else's internet path, thereby allowing them to see the traffic going through your browser. This will allow password mining while you log into your accounts (especially bad)

e) your task manager will be impaired, as you launch it to view what is running, it will close immediately making visual checks of your system impossible.

My advice - seek help. There are many ways to cure these problems but really, the nature of exploits is user acceptance of the next stage of installation of these malware apps, that is the clicking inside the box where the pop up will occur. This includes clicking the red "x" which in most operating systems means cancel, or stop. These hackers have made that command the same as the "ok" button.

You see when you use a modern operating system, the console actions of an internet session require user acceptance of a code installation. That is good. But, these hackers have manipulated the interface where the red "x" acts like "ok" and not stop.

What this means is that when you suspect that you have a fake pop up, you should try to look at it and see if it is one from your operating system or your antivirus program. The problem with this advice is that the current problem I am fixing these days is trying to pretend that it is your antivirus program.

When this happens, if you first were to shut off your computer, and not click on any area on the screen you may have stopped the app from loading. Problem is that since the pop up occurred you probably have some level of breakage.

If you follow the instructions on the internet - you will find ways to fix these items but really what you need to do is have a security specialist evaluate your computer to see that you have properly locked all the ports on your system, have a functional antivirus program, believe me many of them most popular ones don't work. Plus you need to be using tools to work on your OS to cleanse potential malware from taking root in your system.

There currently is not a single application to ward off this latest round of malware. I have identified this week's problem as coming through local radio station webcasts of streaming audio. This means you go to your radio station. You click on listen to live stream. You start listening. It plays for a bit and loads the malware through banners which are on the web page. Bam, in a matter of time, your computer is showing popups indicating that you have a virus and you need to launch something to clean it.

If you launch this first round - it will open up a blue bordered window which shows the program scanning your computer. This is of course fake. It will ask you do click some more things to identify the problem which is when the IP traffic is rerouted and the security apps are shut off.

Go seek advice on this one to see how to reinforce your computer after it has been fixed of course.

Or better yet - use a radio instead of your computer to listen to the radio...

Shoot me an email if you have questions generide(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Are you using Facebook? Better look at this....

We are all in love with the the constant connection benefits of social networking because it makes staying connected so much easier. It broadcasts to my sphere of friends or family quickly the family news both good and bad.

But, like other things modern, do you ever wonder if there is a downside to this constant connectivity?

An interesting read is Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (also known for his book Bringing down the House) although fictional, it is based on the real story of Zuckerberg. He is described as an aloof character who did get the idea for Facebook from the Winklevoss brothers while at Harvard and eventually pushed them and others who helped him out of the way.

That said, on Monday, Gizomodo released this blog page:

which basically is written to alert the uninitiated about the perils of using facebook.

Now I am not here to tell you not to use Facebook, but given the set of circumstances outlined here, I would advise you not to go deep into the information streams of the application or participate in the downloadable content or the activities such as farmville or mafia wars which provide advertising means for Facebook which solicit you to attach your friends and family to your account.

I am reminded of this when I performed a repair this past week and the client tells me that she is getting requests for friending from all kinds of people who she does not know and is now bothered by the use of the application.

Like all things, if it does not help you, don't use it. I think it is still more meaningful to have a conversation with someone you care about rather than spilling it out on media for all to see.

Take it for what it is worth and consider tightening or removing sensitive data for your profile. Then, use subscription email accounts (make other email accounts) for these purposes to separate the general public from knowing what your real email accounts are. I would recommend locking down your data for friends only so that whatever you have in your profile is viewable to accepted friends.

Avoid using any applications which can be downloaded to your computer via the Facebook application. I once tried an application which would allow me to digitize my photo for a custom Avatar. Well, that software provide who was not Facebook, pushed malware into my PC which required a large amount of repair to correct. My experience supports the number 5 reason in the Gizmodo post: your private info is shared with the applications on Facebook.

Finally, the general application is not made to be efficient to use. That means that it is designed to cause you to browse further and spend more time on it which lowers your resistance to using their supporting apps which then create their marketing opportunity which allows them to benefit directly. Since this monetization is surely their goal, it would appear that they are taking on more and more networking schemes from 3rd party software providers in their efforts to sell more and generate more profit.

I am not against these kinds of businesses but the sad thing is that Facebook is viewed as a social contact site and not so much of a marketing environment which it is. I think it would be nice if Facebook would separate their user community into two different zones, one for commercial use and one for private use. But hey, that would be stupid because you would not be drilling into the full population of the Facebook community to propagate your products or services.

Anyway, be careful out on the internet..