iOS, iPhone, Laptops and Two-in-ones, Uncategorized

#Apple’s #TouchID implementation misguided

Whoever is guiding Apple’s TouchID implementation is severely misguiding Apple and the public who uses it. 

The idea behind biometric security is that it is infinitely more difficult to crack than a PIN or Password. Where a password or passphrase in today’s marketing techno-lingo may be composed of eight or more ASCII characters, a biometric signature may have tens of thousands of combinations. Even a 30 character password cannot compete with such a combination. Not that it can’t be broken, but it would be more difficult and time consuming. And on a device that can lock and/or wipe itself after a number of incorrect tries, it should be IRRELEVANT.

( Now let me state for the record that a PIN in and of itself, does NOT constitute a password or passphrase in my opinion. If a vendor such as Apple or other security providers allow their users to consume PINs, I would allow for dual authentication on every boot. )

I also understand the reasoning behind dual token authentication.   “I go to work and I can use dual tokens to sign in in the morning, and work all day. In a multi-tenant managed environment dual token is a great authentication method when managing different tenant infrastructures.”  

I can also think of the following industries which can benefit:

  • Nuclear plants
  • Munitions depots
  • Utility distribution grids
  • Aircraft cockpits
  • Banks

I can also understand use of the dual token as implemented by Apple in the following circumstances:

  • When booting, in a ‘motion-less‘ profile;  that means NOT while in a moving vehicle, and not during physical movement such as walking. Those are dangerous activities to be engaged in while trying to enter a passphrase. Legislatures are passing law after law to curb such activities, while Apple is actively opposing the legislation.  

If Apple wants to implement a dual authentication on boot then allow the user to set the elapsed time, say one to four weeks. 

  • Under no circumstances should dual authentication be required after a boot when using biometric authentication:
  1. Not when I’m shopping
  2. Not when I’m driving
  3. Not when I’m walking or jogging (not that I jog)
  4. And certainly not when I’m in line waiting to pay, unless the transaction is over a limit, I, the user has set

Lest anyone thinks I’m beating on Apple, I’m not. This applies to all security implementors in any company and product. 

What do you think?

Uncategorized

@Apple_Pay

Dear Tim, @tim_cook

I am frustrated by the fact that Apple appears to be neglecting the Pay sector of your business. It was very exciting but I have some issues with it, probably vendor issues, but one which I think Apple should pursue. 

  1. Some McD’s don’t even know they have it. I have to tell them to pick up the reader and bring it close to me so I can pay. I’ve seen one case where it was attached to the table and they couldn’t bring it closer
  2. Some HomeD’s have it and I’ve used it to pay thousands of dollars in transactions. The store close to me, even though e-Pay is on the terminal, doesn’t know what e-Pay is and when I tried it, it didn’t work. 
  3. And there are some retailers terminals, who after using Apple Pay, require my Debit card pin, and here is the best part, wait for it… Print out a receipt for me to sign, for a ten dollar purchase. 

Please help these lost souls…

Apple Hardware, iOS

Apple no longer has trust in Touch Id

It appears #Apple no longer has any trust in #TouchID. Mr. @tim_cook, I must admit when it was first released I was excited about the technology. I saw it as a solution to only having a short four digit pin as protection for my iPhone and iPad and it’s contents. So I began using a 26 digit passphrase for my security knowing i wouldn’t have to constantly type it in.

Boy was I wrong. With every update of iOS Apple has made it more difficult to continue using TouchId with a long passphrase. 

First, I had to type the pass phrase after every reboot. Apparently the safety focus groups believe in making you type while you are driving. Damn the statistics, they know better.  (Did they come from MS?) 

After another update, they made me enter my pass phrase after 48 hours of non- use. 

Now with iOS 9, they want my pass phrase after 48 hours of iPhone/iPad non-use or use.  So her I was trying to check my morning mail today, and it wants my pin. I was using my phone all day and evening yesterday. 

Of course, they have changed the pin length requirements to six digits. Wow, now that is more secure than a long pass phrase.

So what would you do?  Probably what I’ve done. Stop using a long pass phrase and go back to a pin.  Was that Apple’ intent all along?

Because I don’t want to keep re-entering a 26 digit pass phrase every two days, nor every time my phone acts up on the road and I have to reboot when driving. Which, honestly, does not happen often. But when it does, it sucks. 

I can live with the long pass phrases but the idea of having TouchId was to have trust of a biometric Id.  Does Apple no longer T R U S T.  It?

Cloud

Cloudy weekend in the Cloud

Saturday started as a beautiful fall day, until I tried to play some #Apple_Music. Nada, no music. Ok then tried to get some #Kindle eBooks. I was able to buy them but the downloads started and froze at zero bytes. After repeated attempts I gave up. 

Thought I’d go shopping on #Amazon. No deal there either, I was able to place my same day items in my cart, but order just would not go through. Spent an hour trying to get Amzon support. Call-back, their standard modus operandi was not available. Calling them got me a warning that I had a long wait, then “please call back later”. 

Anyone here about their DynamoDB troubles?  Can you figure out what that other white logo’d fruit shape may be hosted by them?  But I’m sure it was only a coincidence. 

iOS, Windows

A note to #Apple, #Microsoft, etc…

Dear @tim_cook and @satya_nadella:  just wanted to let you know how much of a turn-off it is towards your companies’ reputation, when you change application and/or system interfaces for the sake of someone’s un-bright idea.   This time my ire is with the iOS podcast app. I used to have a hierarchical view of my podcasts and could then drill in to each branch to see individual podcasts by date and status. iOS 9 changed that. I can now see the latest podcast of each branch and their status or the top level podcast branches but not the individual episodes, unless I stand on my head and whisper incantations. 

But, I’m sure this was voted on by a client focus group, like the one we, complainers are in. 

Ladies and gentlemen wake up. It is okay to add features, and change interfaces;  but do not presume to take functionality or views away. 

HP Hardware, Laptops and Two-in-ones

What’s with HP tablets and laptops?

it isn’t time to retool as they’ve been telling us through the last four or five CEO’s.   Then what is it?

I own and have owned Compaq/HP laptops for as long as I can remember. They are not haute, but they have been solid performers. My current is a quad i7 Haswel.

But HP is behind and getting farther behind:

  • Battery life
  • Battery size, can’t get bigger batteries any more
  • BIOS locked down;  simple features can only be enabled on the Business line, even if my consumer laptop cost over $2,000
  • Screen resolution is still stuck at a maximum is 1920×1080, and can’t be seen outdoors unless you turn the brightness up all the way, ergo 50 minutes battery life
  • Touch screens are a premium;  pen screens are non-existent
  • Weight, generally they could be used to anchor a cruise ship

Even the new Spectre 360, which I would have loved to own is limited to:

  • Small screen
  • No pen
  • Limited Memory
  • One size fits all battery
  • Duo core M series CPU
  • 1920×1080 dpi
Apple Hardware, iPads, Laptops and Two-in-ones

iPad Pro

and while I’m at it Mr. Tim Cook, instead of spending time on unneeded frills as the watch you’ve released, you should have spent time on the iPad Pro. My third generation iPad is getting slow, and there is no room left. See my earlier post about what I want to see in an iPad Pro. 

I love the new MacBook, by the way.  I was almost convinced to get a 17″ MacBook but the specs are night and day. And I’ve been waiting for a new iPad. But at this rate I may be getting a new Windows laptop and a Surface Pro 4!

Oh, and I will not be seen driving around in an Apple carriage. Too afraid of what the little critters will do when I park it. 

Ok, so I’m not a comedian, what do you want?

My Rants

Apple watch

Well Mr Tim Cook, it’s like this:

  • I need a watch to tell time. 
  • I need a watch that syncs time over Bluetooth with my iPhone
  • I need a watch that auto-sets DST. 
  • I need a watch I don’t have to take off and charge every 18 hours. (What happens if I want to go out one night…). I actually only take mine off to shower.  And why can’t it charge itself from ambient light, oh wizards of Greeness?
  • I need a watch I can use as a compass, a barometer and a temperature device. 
  • If it has GPS and can summon help in the boondocks that would be a plus

The rest are frills.

I have never spent more than $250 for a watch in the last twenty years;  two solar powered, just got the second one because my wife complained the old one wasn’t shiny any more. 

But that’s just me. I don’t think I’ll be buying an Apple Watch, thank you very much. 

My Rants

iTunes 12 now a work of Abstract Art @tim_cook

Well, I guess it was bound to happen.  It appears that all of the folks responsible for the Windows 8 boondoggle are now working for Apple, at least on iTunes.

The new version is a classic work of abstract art.  You look at it, and look at it, and search it, and you still can’t use it.  Imagine the simplicity of copying items to a device:

Select the items

  1. Click and hold, then start dragging left (not right, not up, not down)
  2. A blue box will automagically appear and you can then drop your items wherever you want
  3. But don’t try it with a shared library;  it won’t work

Wasn’t that as intuitive as moving your mouse below the lower left corner of your screen to get a menu?

Of course, let me not forget the new model of help in iTunes;  you look up “compilations” and you get… nada.  You look up how to modify album an song info and you get:

  • Select Get Info…
  • Make changes to the details

Doesn’t that sound like the new MS Windows help?

@tim_cook Please check what is happening, you are going down the Windows 8 route

Apple Hardware, iOS

iPad Air 2, truly nothing but Air, @tim_cook

Well if that wasn’t a sleepy announcement I don’t know what would be. Excuse me while I nap…

So now we know how much Apple listens to their customers; as much as Microsoft. Way to go Tim. We’ be only been asking for a larger size iPad, the Pro for three years. We said we’d rather not have to lug around a hard keyboard if the soft keyboard was of full size and functionality. We said we wanted more memory. And OS X running under a windowed iOS and we said we wanted 256GB and 512GB flash options. We also asked to leave the form factor alone while increasing size and resolution. And more battery life.

Did Tim Cook et al take heed? Of course not, they’re too busy copying Microsoft’s frolicking.

So it appears the only one who had listened to our whispering was Steve Balmer. Well, just…

Mobile phones, PIM’s and Tablets

Review of Griffin Technologies Reveal case for iPhone 6 Plus

Just got two of these cases for our iPhone 6 Pluses. The case adds imperceptibly to the weight or the feel of the phone, and appears to protect well. We love the clear back which allows the iPhone’s rear case to show clearly through. Great in portrait mode as well, although I would have preferred a little more ‘stiction’ on the surrounding grip. It is a large phone which I use with one hand, there is a tendency for my hand to slip when reaching all the way across the phone. The only negative, and the reason I can’t give this case five stars, is that the raised lip around the front of the case, which by the way protects the phone’s glass in case of frontal drops, also hinders raising the Control Panel. In order to raise the Control Panel, you have to swipe up from the edge of the phone right around the middle of the spacebar. Not a problem in Portrait mode, but definitely a problem in Landscape mode where the protective lip is only a couple of millimeters from the screen edge. Perhaps, Grifin Technologies can flatten out the lip in that area of the case in the next version.

iOS, Operating Systems and Software

iOS 8 upgrades

Quick note, I upgraded our two iPhone 5’s (not S’s), two third gen. iPad’s and one retina mini iPad to iOS 8. The mini was the fastest, then the 5’s, and the iPad’s were very slow.

But the upgrade worked like a charm. For each device I closed all apps and rebooted it prior to the upgrade. Now if only our 6 pluses would get here; is it October 16th yet?

Apple Hardware, iPads, iPhone, Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

Rejuvenation of TenGo soft keyboard from Windows CE days for mobile devices

The best soft keyboard for mobile devices in Windows CE days, was TenGO.  This was a T9 type, predictive type-ahead keyboard, however, it provided for two alpha-buttons on each keyboard row, see illustration.  To type you simply entered the word by pressing one of the three six alpha-buttons, and the predictive type-ahead engine did a really cool job of figuring out the word you wanted to enter.  If it was not in the dictionary, you could select the actual letter in the alpha block, by pressing the soft key the number of times the position of the character represented I the block.  For example if you wanted to enter the character ‘d’ outside of the predictive type-ahead engine, you would press the ‘asdfg’ block three times.  Once a new word was entered it went in to the user dictionary and was available to the T9 engine at the next entry of that word.

I hope that the maker of this keyboard, will resurrect it now, not only on iOS but for Windows and Android mobile devices.  It was awesome.  TenGO are you listening?

tengo-thumb-2[1]

Digital Magazines, eBooks and Audiobooks

Looks like #Zinio may be packing it up…

Zinio, the best digital magazine experience available on all major platforms,  may be packing it up.  I noticed one of my auto-renewing subscriptions stopped deliveries in July.  I tried to get the Support number to call, but that no longer exists on the iOS app, or the web site.  The direct you to a link at the bottom of the web page, which is non-existent.  The only way to contact them is via web form, which have.

However, I tried calling the corporate number, during business hours.  Not a human to be found;  I even tried to get corporate sales and was told via an announcement that the best way to reach them was via a special eMail address.  If they don’t even man a sales line, things can’t be good.

I’ll be sorry to see them go.

IT & IT Professionals

What’s wrong with SAAS and software subscriptions

Generally three things:

1. You may have to turn your data over to the cloud. They don’t keep it separate. Your bits and bytes are right next to everyone else’s bits and bytes. What would it take to expose your data to others and vice versa? That is a frontier yet to be explored.

2. You are are hostage to the software vendor’s update whims. They update when they want, what they want. You have no option to take an exclusion. Same with O365…

3. If an upgrade causes logical or interface changes to the apps you are used to, well just… T O U G H ! ! ! And if the upgrade or other circumstances break your process flow… T O U G H ! ! ! Check you SLA.

4. And for all of the companies who had backups in triplicate going back seven years? When they turn it over to a vendor they throw all of the backup and DR plans out the door, because they assume the vendor has them protected. Guess again.

I’m not saying these app delivery methods are bad, but think before signing on the bottom line. Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water.

A. Make sure you have a method in place to constantly replicate your data from the cloud to OnPremises, in a usable format, not an object format.

B. If they allow it, make sure you can get on premises copies of their cloud software versions, prior to upgrades, and that they are usable in case you have to roll back from their cloud to your own OnPrem copies.

C. Good luck!

Laptops and Two-in-ones, Microsoft Hardware

To Surface Pro 3 or not to Surface Pro 3, #5

It appears I am in a quandary, which is whether to convert from my iPad 3 to a Surface Pro 3.

As I’ve discussed in past blogs, the Surface Pro 3 is not a consumer tablet, and should not be expected to have the same lifetime as a consumer tablet.  I’m currently upgrading iPhones and iPads every two years;  I think the Surface Pro 3 will definitely have to last me at least three years.

I really would like to have the 512GB flash, but I can’t see spending $2,000 for it.  Especially when the difference between the i5 and i7 appears to be trivial.  But the top i5 model only comes with 256GB’s.  Will 256GB’s be enough for the extended time I will be keeping the new tablet?  In all likelihood, I just can see spending $700 for an extra 256GBs of storage, so I’ll probably look at the i5/256GB at $1,200.  Well that takes care of the hardware.

Now I’ll need a case.  It will have to be a book type case like on my iPad, so I can have it tilted at an angle to type on the soft-keyboard.  The little trinket in the back of the Surface Pro 3 which makes it stand at an angle is useless for me, unless I am watching a movie.  So probably another $100 for a case.

That’s about $1,500 total.  My last iPad cost $900.  I guess it isn’t bad considering what I’ll be getting.

But, wait a minute…  this is the company that:

  • Killed many programs I used, such as Flight Sim, Money, etc.
  • Got everyone on board Windows Media, and at version 9, killed them.  Now I have my entire music library on WMV, but since it is a dead technology, I have to find another encoder and convert my library to.  Box Music?  Nah…
  • Killed TechNet Professional subscriptions, not because they were losing money, but because the Cloudheads decided that the less admins that were left qualified to run the software, the more business it would draw to Azzure.
  • And for the money I’d have to spend on this deal, they can’t even throw in Office?

It goes back to two things:  a) the entire loyalty issue.  If Microsoft can’t be loyal to me, why should I be loyal to Microsoft?  Who has the bigger pockets me or them?  And all they appear trying to do is make my pockets smaller. b) A ship that is broadside to the wind;  a ship without a captain, a ship without a destination, a ship which will eventually founder.  Am I being a little too strong here you think?  Please tell me.  Remember, I am an MS fanboy…

Hhmm!  I think I’ll wait and see what Apple does with the iPad Pro.  May not have much of a choice in the end.