Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boot up: web v apps, Target v EMV?, Ubuntu waits, Windows 9 ideas, and more

nine million dating site Looking for love online: not so great if you’re female. Photograph: OJO Images Ltd/Alamy

A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Marcus Wohlsen:

The gist of the argument is this: as app-happy mobile devices become the primary way we compute, the good old browser becomes irrelevant. The hyperlinked, free-flowing, egalitarian, and ubiquitous world wide web will fade away. Instead, digital existence will mostly transpire within the more self-contained domains of individual apps, which offer their creators the flexibility and power of building right into the mobile operating systems. We will still have the internet, but it won't be the same wherever you use it. And some will have more power over it than others.

Instagram; Snapchat; think of other mobile-only app-only products. Already happening.

Dave Birch:

When EMV cards were first introduced, you could read all of the data from an EMV chip and use it to create a counterfeit magnetic stripe but you cannot do this (at least the UK) any more because the issuers started to use a chip ICVV that is different from the CVV on the magnetic stripe that is glued to EMV cards for legacy purposes. So if you wangle your malware into POS terminals, an EMV environment does prevent a "Target-style" breach.

The malware will harvest data, but that data cannot be used to make transactions: you cannot make a clone EMV card because you don't have the security keys that never leave the chip, you cannot make a counterfeit magnetic stripe card because you don't have the CVV and you cannot use the card details online at your favourite porn/guns/soda merchant because you don't have the CVV2 from the back of the card.

Eric Sterman makes amazing surfing videos. These were shot with a drone. Sound up or down, an amazing spectacle.

Canonical has cooled expectations for a major Ubuntu Touch phone launch this year, saying a large OEM probably won't release a handset running the open-source OS this year.

At the end of 2013, Ubuntu developer Canonical said it had signed up one unnamed manufacturer, which would likely ship a handset running the OS during 2014.

Now, Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon has said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session that while it may be possible to get an Ubuntu phone this year, it's unlikely to come via a major OEM or carrier.

Leaves it open to FirefoxOS, then - though apparently the phone would only have been for the "enterprise" market. They're still dreaming of the Ubuntu Edge - but have no plans to produce it.

Long but worthwhile analysis of what's wrong and how to fix it:

If I'm using a mouse, I don't want a touch interface, but as of now you need that touch interface for some of the apps. If I'm using a touchscreen, I don't want to pass through a pointer interface, but you don't have the choice to get through the pointer interface to use some of the apps. An app is an app. Modern apps are no better than Classic apps and by that same logic Metro is no better than the Desktop.

So why not separate the Metro and Desktop interface, put them on the same level and you choose how you want to interact with all of those apps. Yes some of them are not optimized for a touchscreen or a pointer, but do you need to be stuck in an unoptimized interface on top of that?

(Via @mbrit).

Matt Haughey (who runs MetaFilter) installed a burglar alarm which stored data her could read on his smartphone:

After we returned from two weeks of vacation I revisited the history log files and showed my wife how this innocuous set of data painted quite a picture. We could see when our house sitter left for work every morning (around 8am), when she returned after work and after visiting her boyfriend (usually around 10pm). We could see when she went to sleep (around midnight), and when she woke up (before 7am). We could also see when our house cleaner popped in every Wednesday, and how long she spent cleaning the house since it showed when she turned the alarm off and back on again. The alarm logs showed she finished in about 45 minutes when we weren't there (understandable, since only a spare bedroom was being used by the house sitter).

I thought about this data for some time after. An innocuous log file of accesses, but this one small data point of alarm off/on status gave somewhat invasive looks into my housesitter's time in my house, our cleaning lady, and my own family. I had two weeks of rich data about someone I barely met for thirty seconds and I also had future total surveillance powers over my house cleaner that made me a little uncomfortable.

But who else might have access to that data?

Featured on the Reddit forum TwoXChromosomes, which is "related to gender, and intended for women's perspectives," OKCThrowaway22221's story is reminiscent of others in recent memory who have opted to dabble in fake profiles, to see what they come up with. This Reddit user, however, was convinced that us womenz is always lyin' 'bout how shitty we haz it on teh internetz, and wanted to prove that ladies have a way easier time finding a match than teh poor menz.

So, this happened…

"what I got was an onslaught of people who were, within minutes of saying hello, saying things that made me as a dude who spends most of his time on 4chan uneasy. I ended up deleting my profile at the end of 2 hours and kind of went about the rest of my night with a very bad taste in my mouth."

Michael Miller:

I adjusted the schedule and the temperature and that helped, but it still kept switching off when we didn't want it to. I suspect more people move around within their houses and keep unpredictable schedules than Nest realises.

But the real issue came last night when suddenly the display went black except for a blinking green light on the top. I surfed the support pages on the Web and then called technical support. There I got a message that the company had pushed out version 4.0 of the Nest software, which  had caused some thermostats to go offline. It went on to say the company was working on rolling back to an earlier version and that process "should take a few days to complete." According to the company, that should fix the immediate problem, but in the meantime you could try updating your router's firmware. I tried waiting for a support technician, but the phone message said they were understaffed and hoping to hire more people soon. Left unsaid was why the company would push out such a software update without informing or asking the users.

Maybe in more temperate Silicon Valley, where Nest is headquartered, a few days without heat or cooling is acceptable. But in the Northeast where I live, it's a potential disaster. It was 18 degrees Fahrenheit outside and because the thermostat was offline, we had no heat.

The points about firmware, and customer support, are part of what makes one pause over the "connected home".

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