Tag Archives: PC World

On the ropes again

It isn’t often that I see a corporation setting themselves up for a fall, to do so twice in a short time span is almost staggering, but would you know it, Microsoft pulled it off!

Now, we need to consider the setting in the right light. They want to capture part of the Apple market and that is a valid jump, yet they are doing it whilst the Apple is sitting there with hundreds of thousands of apps, a setting that almost smoothly sets you up for your music, your photos, your face time and your data. I still have the very first 64GB iPad. It has been running 24:7 for close to 7 years. Only now, only this year did I get the first issue with my 1st generation iPad. This is the situation that Microsoft is facing up and guess what! They still fumble the ball. So the equivalent of the 128GB iPad (the new one) is $100 more expensive than the Apple edition. In addition, the Surface Go does not offer Cell next to the WiFi, which Apple does, making it more ‘on-the-go’ than the Microsoft version is.

The fact that they still screw around with 64 Gb in this day and age, whilst most consider 128 GB now a minimum for anything larger than a mobile phone was the first fumble. It goes beyond that and the editorial of NewWin gives the best voice in all this, they tell you ‘Microsoft’s Surface Go is not the tablet that can replace your tablet‘, no way is there an option for me to phrase it better. They do one better with “But the Surface Go doesn’t make sense as a tablet, because Microsoft hasn’t invested in building a decent Windows 10 tablet experience, and this goes beyond apps“, that in a setting where we need to look deeper at what Apple offers, the numbers that were released in LifeWire gives us that as per March 2018 2,100,000 apps have been released, as per March 2016 – 1,000,000 iPad apps have been released. This discrepancy is mainly as the separation between iPad and iPhone apps went away, the iPhone became larger and as such we can run most apps on both, in addition, as apps designer focused on iPhone apps, as they would work on both is pretty much the other reason. You can read more on these numbers (at https://www.lifewire.com/how-many-apps-in-app-store-2000252). That is the setting Microsoft was up against and whilst they mess around with a 64 GB and larger, the mere setting to just accept that 128 GB is the minimum norm would have been a clever step, the mere consumer difference is $70, that whilst Microsoft will always have a much better price, that is the given and the consumer feels cheated! It is even clearer when we look at the PC World views (at https://www.pcworld.com/article/3288206/tablet-pc/microsofts-399-10-inch-surface-go-rethinks-the-windows-tablet-for-consumers.html). As we focus on “Microsoft designed the Surface Go for people in motion: the sales exec who makes a quick edit or two to a presentation while at her daughter’s soccer practice, for example. A Wi-Fi-only model will ship first, followed an LTE model later in 2018“, yet when we consider ‘the sales exec who makes a quick edit or two to a presentation‘, whilst ‘at her daughter’s soccer practice‘, considering that she is in a place with flaky Wi-Fi and optionally out there with no Wi-Fi makes the absence of a cellular option even more confusing. Not unlike the Xbox One fiasco, it seems that Microsoft does not comprehend their customers, plain and simple. Instead of learning from Google and just hand everyone a 128 GB model even with merely 6GB would have made all the difference but the people setting the stage do not comprehend that rationing the gravy or ketchup merely gives the visitor most likely merely a dry meal, and today the people realise the power of storage, they see it every day, to just take storage doubt off the board they could create trust, Microsoft decided not to do this.

NeoWin gives even more (at https://www.neowin.net/news/microsofts-surface-go-is-not-the-tablet-that-can-replace-your-tablet) and with “Users have complained about missing features like multi-selection of tiles for improved app organisation, folder naming, requested a more touch capable File Explorer and more” they are showing us that they are before the moment that Apple surpassed at least two generations earlier in their devices. This is a level of non-vision that you expect from sophomore students, not in a Fortune 500 company, and I reckon it will all be to push them into the Azure cloud, because that is what brand X requires. I am actually puzzled how Microsoft is not losing market share in a much faster rate. Apple and Google are surpassing IBM and Microsoft at a better and faster stage than ever before, from what I can tell it is done by looking at the population that fits the board of directors, not in the setting that actually represents the population. A view set on corporate policies, not on what the people need, desire and prefers.

It escalates when we consider “while the Microsoft Store app ecosystem is a dead horse that’s been beaten over and over, it has gotten worse since the Surface 3. Microsoft is no longer pushing the Universal Windows App ecosystem as hard as it did in previous years and developers have subsequently jumped ship“, this now implies that the Surface Go is a system that goes nowhere fast and will reduce its own market and options faster still, so when we see that it is $100 more than the Apple iPad with cell and Wi-Fi, why would we consider a device that was surpassed by Apple by 2014, 4 years ago and the Microsoft version has not even been released yet. The only selling part might be Microsoft Office, but yet there we see that Google with Docs and Sheets is an equal in pretty much every way, so there we are with hardware that I dreamed off in 2003, Apple delivered 7 years later and Microsoft is only now getting to that point, and when you realise that you need a keyboard and pen to make the Surface Go decently usable, which is another $200, what direction would you take? Apple or nowhere? So what is Microsoft doing exactly?

Even when we consider other fields, the Microsoft Go will falter on no less than 5 given field settings against the Raytheon Tablet that is already pushing technological boundaries, some that would frighten Apple to a certain extent, others are not worthy of consideration when we consider the market Apple is in. In that my sense of humour takes over when we consider two developers, the first Steven Weeks, the Hydra Swarm program manager who gives us (in regards to the Raytheon solution) “Drop it in the water, you can do that.” and then there is Jeff Mazurek, the iConnect program manager who gives us “What the army is focused on is a single, central battery that will connect to the other batteries and trickle-charge them” , yes you can giggle all you like, Microsoft is THAT far behind, a military developer like Raytheon surpassed them not overnight, but in the timeframe where they (Microsoft that is) were all falling over one another on the ‘greatness’ of Azure cloud and all the logic defying marketing on the Surface pro (and how it was actually really overpriced) in that time Raytheon got a tablet past primary development that is surpassing whatever Microsoft is offering the consumer now. In all this, Raytheon has the basic setting of a field version of a table that would be interesting for pretty much anyone in the Middle East, Latin America, Canada and Rural India and China. By the way these populations surpass the 2 billion mark, 25% of the population on the planet. A group that Microsoft has always ignored and that is fair enough, because the bulk cannot afford a tablet, but to offer one that is already lagging in too many fields is just slightly too weird for my liking and I actually love weird at times.

In the end PC World gives us “The Surface Go enters a tablet space whose most popular players include the Android-based 9.7-inch Galaxy Tab S3 for a lofty $599 and the far more affordable Amazon Fire HD 10 for a mere $150, as well as, of course, the dominant Apple iPad, which starts at $329. It appears that Microsoft is shooting for somewhere in the middle“, I cannot completely agree. Not on the assessment of PC World, but on the path of Microsoft, if they were serious in any way, than they would have given us one model, the 128GB storage/6GB RAM model, allowing the people to get traction, allowing others to see what apps can grow the business whilst giving the people a device that has enough for all their office needs and entertainment value (music and video), that would have been a serious step, Microsoft faltered there (yet again). And whilst offering that for a mere $450 to the education community getting the growth of the next generation through loyalty growth they had a starting path. It seems to me that someone decided against that and they are merely a niche taste that had no distinctive taste and has the aroma that would have been accepted by the consumer 5 years ago. In today’s market it merely looks like an ‘1850 salt print’ in a 1.6 million colour digital marketing world. Some will love the nostalgia, yet a mere 5 minutes later they will be required to meet the updated deadline(s), and when Wi-Fi is flawed, those users will not have any real option.

In the end, is this the Surface Go or the Surface Go Away?

 

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Authentically Realistic

Whilst we see many sources talk about the need of blaming North Korea, we see an abundance of changes that are now not just changing the way we think, but these changes will also change the way we live and act. As we are soon to be lulled into more false sense of security, we must now content with the thought, what is real and what is not.

In IT these issues have existed on several layers for a long time, yet the overall lack of Common Cyber Sense has been absent for a massive amount of time. Bradley Edward Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning is only one of several parts of this puzzle. Wikileaks has added its own levels of damage and let us not forget the acts of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. This is not on how things were done; it is about a lack of proper measures and controls. In the age of people screaming that they have a right to know, they will publish whatever they can for the need of ego and then scream on how the government is abusing their right to privacy.

These are all elements that link back to ‘Common Cyber Sense’.

CCS as I call it has in its foundations a few branches. The first is proper use and knowledge. Many still laugh and sneer at manuals and proper use of equipment, yet when other people started to ‘look’ through their webcams on laptops into their privacy, smiles disappeared quickly. We live in an age where everything is set around the fake image of comfort, it is fake because comfort at the expense of security is never comfort, it is just an added level of danger into your own life. At this point people forget that what is set into software, can usually be switched on and off at the leisure of a skilled ‘someone else’.

Buying what is cheap and what is right are worlds apart, that part is more and more a given fact. The bulk of people are lulled into ignoration when it comes to a simple easy tool that can be used everywhere, at which time they forget to ask ‘by everyone?’. Consider the HP laptop (one of many brands) has a build in webcam at the top of the screen, instead of relying on a software switch, these makers could have added a little slide that covers the lens, literally a low-tech solution making the lens see nothing, as far as I can tell, no one took that precaution for the safety and security of the consumer, is that not nice?

The second branch is access. If I got $.50 for every person that uses their name, ‘qwerty’ or ‘password’ or even ‘abc123’ for their login, I could buy a small Island like Hawaii or New Zealand, probably even both. Even though many websites and systems demand stronger passwords, there is always that bright person who uses the same password for every site. This is part of a larger problem, but let’s move on for now.

Third is the connection branch, places where we can ALWAYS connect! You think that not having passwords on your home Wi-Fi makes you safe? Wrong! You could add loads of problems on every device that connects to it by not properly setting things up. I wonder if those with an automotive router have considered the dangers of not setting it up properly and letting all the people they pass access to whatever is connected to it in the car.

The fourth branch is for the unknown. This might seem like a weird option, but consider how fast movable technology is growing, I am using ‘movable’ and not mobile, because this changing field includes phones, laptops, PDA’s, tablets and other not yet defined devices (like the apple watch, handheld game systems and consoles).

At the centre of all this is proper usage, but not just your hardware, it also includes your software, a fact many have remained oblivious to.

At this point, I will take a temporary sidestep and let you consider the following term ‘non-repudiation’.

Non-repudiation is about identity and authentication. Basically it states, ‘you and you alone‘ have sent this item (message, photo, financial transfer). In legal reasoning this will be the strong shift that will most likely hit many people in 2016 and onwards, it could hit you this year, but there are more than just a few issues with this situation for the immediate now. So when you lose your money and you state you were hacked, then you might soon have to prove it, which means that any evidence that you EVER gave your password or pin-code to a spouse, lover, boy/girl friend or sibling means that you nullified your rights. You get to pay for the consequences of THEIR acts at that point.

So when we see biometrics, we think fingerprint, we expect to be a lot safer. WRONG! Only last month did a group in Germany show how they recreated the finger print of the German Defence minister from simple digital photos, which means that this could have given them access to a whole collection of items, events and information they should not have gotten access to. So what to do? Well, that market is growing really fast. ‘Vein’ is the latest. It does not rely on fingerprint, but on the veins in a finger or hand, it is just as unique as a fingerprint, it is a 3d issue, making it even more secure and it requires an actual living hand. It also will lack the dangers of influence that a retinal scan has when a woman gets pregnant, or in case of a diabetes patient or alcohol levels. These all can shift retinal scans, with the added problem that this person stays outside the lock, becoming the valid person ‘no-more’. Yet, ‘Vein’ is still a new technology and not currently (or in the near future) available for movable devices, which gives us the issue on what devices are actually decently secure.

Let’s not forget, that even though this is not an immediate issue, the people will need to change their possible ‘lacking’ approach with more than just slow muffled interest, whilst they rely on the comfort of not having to comprehend the technology. That part is still not completely disregarded in several cases, the issue at Sony being likely the most visible one for some time to come. There is still a massive amount of actual intelligence missing. Most speculate, including me (yet I have been looking at these speculators and claimers of facts). Whilst Sony is visible, there are still unanswered issues regarding the NSA and how a place like that had the implied intrusion Edward Snowden claimed to have made.

Now let us take a step back to the four branches. I showed the webcam issue in the first branch, but the lack of consideration by the user is often a bigger problem. You see, many ‘lock’ their device, or just walk away and switch their screen off. Their computer remains connected and remains accessible to whoever is looking for a place to hack. I know that waiting 45 seconds is a bother at times, but learn to shut down your computer. A system that is switched off cannot get hacked, the same applies to your router (which actually has the added benefit of letting your adapter cool down, making the device last longer) and your overall electricity bill goes down too, all these benefits, all neglected for the fake comfort of accessing your social media the second you come home. Yet proper usage also includes software upgrades. Many do them, but more often than not, they tend to be made when the system reboots, when this is not done (or the software upgrades are not made) your system becomes increasingly at risk for intrusions of all kinds. Windows 7, which is a lot better than either Vista or Windows 8, still required 84 patches in 2014. With over half a dozen being either critical or important, you see why even in the best of times, under all conditions met, you still run some risk. And this is just Windows; in 2013 they had to fix 47 vulnerabilities regarding Outlook, explorer and the Windows kernel. There was a massive issue with remote execution, which means that your system was open to the outside without the need for a login (source: PCWorld). Now, to their defence, Windows and office are massive programs, but still, it seems that Microsoft (not just them) have taken a strong stride towards ‘comfort’ whilst ignoring ‘safety’ (to some extent).

Branch two is usually the biggest flaw. Even though many websites will require a decent level of strength (usage of small and capital letters, numbers and a special character), but that list is still way too small. The amount of people that I have met that use the lamest of simple words (like ‘abc123’) and these people cry the loudest when their money is gone. You see, it is easier to just hack your computer or device and use that system to order online via other means then it is to hack into your bank account. Yes, it is a bother (at times) to remember every password, yet in that regard you could be clever about it too. There is nothing stopping you from creating variations on a password whilst making sure it is a completely different one. I learned that someone had used her dictionary app to use a version of word of the day, she changed ‘adscititious’ into something like ‘Adsc1t!tious’. Good luck figuring that one out! (I had to look up the word in all honesty), the options become even more interesting if you speak additional languages. So, branch two is something that you the user largely control.

Branch three is actually the growing danger. It is not just when we connect, but when things connect automatically that becomes an issue (and where from). Insurance companies are more and more about your visibility, even though no official moves have been made, the day that junior uploads that catch of the day to his Facebook with dad in the background. That is the option for the members from the ‘institute of discrete entry and removal operations’ to help you with your old stuff (the missing items when you get home). The information you ‘give’ when you connect (especially on free Wi-Fi places), you see, when you connect to free Wi-Fi, more than one danger exists that others can connect to you, yes, you could learn that free Wi-Fi was the most expensive part of your vacation soon thereafter. It however moves more and more to your area of usage. As we get more connections and as we can connect from more places (like the automotive router), we will receive additional responsibilities in setting devices up properly for our safety and the safety of our children.

Now, to take a second sidestep. This is not about scaring you (a nice benefit for sure), some of these things can be prevented from point zero. Knowing what you switch off, switching off when not used are first easy and elemental steps. You see, a hacker looks for a place to get into, when your computer and router are switched off, the hacker will not spot these devices at all and move on. Hackers do not like to waste time, so when you use proper passwords, that same hacker will lose a lot of time getting access to your devices, time he could be having ‘fun’, so these two elements are already diminishing the chance of you getting transgressed upon. But in the end, there is another side. Makers of hardware and software need to become increasingly aware that their ‘toys’ have malicious usage. It was Geek.com that had the article ‘Yes, Xbox One Kinect can see you through your clothes‘ (at http://www.geek.com/games/yes-xbox-one-kinect-can-see-you-through-your-clothes-1576752/), which gives an interesting demo (without showing off anything indecent) how defined and articulate the scan system worked and it is a hackable solution, even there we see the mention that a lens cover would not have been a bad idea.

Yet we have digressed away from the heart of the matter. All these are linked, but the crown in the hardware is an increasing need for non-repudiation, showing that you and only you acted. A lack of this evidence could also go a long way in proving that you were innocent and that you were the victim. It is easy to claim that the makers are at fault and to some degree they are, but there is a growing need to have the right solution, and so far having any clean solution remains absent, whomever comes up with that could own the cornerstone of the global technology sector, an area that represents a massive amount of long term revenue.

 

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