Microsoft sweeps out fake apps from the Windows Store

Article

Microsoft Purges 1500 Fake Apps From The Windows Store | Gizmodo

My Comments

As I have previously covered concerning software quality in app stores, the issue of app stores filling up with poor-quality software is being addressed. This time Microsoft has taken decisive action to remove the fake apps that were littering the Windows Store and reshaping the developers’ agreement to stop the creation of paid clone apps of established software.

But this kind of problem can beset any platform that creates a download site or electronic storefront for software and there needs to be an upper hand on the quality of the software that appear in these markets. Personally, I would still encourage people to rely on “word of mouth” or spotlighted apps as a way to gain value out of the app store. As well, people using feedback and reporting mechanisms can help with rebuilding quality in to an app store or download site.

Anyone who is building up an app-store for a product, whether it be a regular-computer or mobile-computer operating system or a “smart device” like a printer, NAS or smart TV should work out how to manage the app stores and download sites that they intend to run. They would need to:

  • provide a human-driven software curating arrangement especially to draw out well-written software that does the job properly
  • define policies concerning the software that exists such as intellectual property, software behaviour, taste and decency, end-user privacy and security, amongst similar issue
  • establish a feedback and reporting mechanism to allow customers to highlight good and bad software
  • define and maintain consumer-protection policies according to what is expected by any decent person to avoid end-users being ripped off. 

Once this is done, it could engender more respect in platform app stores and the ability for users to shape their experience as they see fit.

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Apple to look at launching larger iPads next year

Article

Report: Apple to Launch Huge 12.9-Inch iPad Next Year | Mashable

My Comments

As people see competing manufacturers offer larger mobile devices, Apple is finding it difficult to keep their fanbois loyal to their brand and wanting to flock to their stores at midnight on the day that an iOS product is launched.

They are doing this by showing intent to launch iPhones with larger screens but now they have to achieve this same goal with the iPad. Here, the rumour mills are starting to come alive with talk of a 12.9” iPad which would be close to the size of a small laptop. Part of the game is to court the enterprise market by working with IBM to provide line-of-business apps on devices that are delivered in to large organisations as corporate-owned fleet devices.

Personally, I could see this behaviour replicating what had happened in the early 90s when Apple deprecated the Apple II platform and focused on the Macintosh platform. Here, they could put more energy in to the iOS mobile platform by courting the enterprise market with the “sealed-secure-device” angle that this platform stands for.

It is difficult to determine what role Apple will have for the Macintosh desktop platform as they add larger screens, and improved processing to the iPad to give it some “desktop” abilities and users pair up their iPads with Bluetooth keyboards. This also is true and is symptomatic of a trend where IT device manufacturers “blend” regular-computing and mobile computing abilities in their current and future computing-device designs such as through dual-boot laptops and tablets that run Android or Windows or the race to provide highly-strung processors and graphics chipsets on mobile devices.

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Zyxel announces HomePlug AV2 Gigabit adaptors

Article

ZyXEL Claims World’s First With New Gigabit Powerline Adapter | Tom’s Hardware

From the horse’s mouth

Zyxel

Press Release

My Comments

Zyxel PLA-5206 HomePlug AV2 Gigabit adaptor press image courtesy of Zyxel USA

Zyxel PLA-5206 HomePlug AV2 Gigabit adaptor

The “wired no-new-wires” network segment that is HomePlug AV2 has hit the Gigabit mark now that Zyxel have premiered some new adaptors that achieve that speed.

The more expensive HomePlug AV2 unit, known as the PLA5405, implements MIMO technology which uses the three wires of an AC connection (Active / Line / Phase, Neutral and Earth / Ground) to transfer the data at the high speed with high resiliency. This is while the PLA-5206 which is the cheaper model implements a “single-input single-output” setup with the main pair of wires.

They are pitching this at a new reality where households are viewing online or downloaded video via their home networks with this video being delivered at Full HD (1080p) or better resolution. It also caters for realities where you can’t necessarily afford to pull Ethernet cable through the house but want the advantages of a stable wired backbone, such as to extend Wi-Fi coverage especially with 802.11n and 802.11ac segments operating on the shorter-wavelength 5.4GHz band..

These do offer that repeating functionality to allow for the existence of a robust HomePlug powerline segment and, perhaps, to make it fit for larger houses or multiple-building setups.

What I see of the Zyxel HomePlug AV2 devices is that they show that HomePlug AV2 is a mature technology for that home network, whether as the only wired backbone or to complement Ethernet.

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Skype to work on concurrent notification annoyances

Article

Skype Just Fixed the Single Most Annoying Thing About Notifications | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Skype

Blog Post

My Comments

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

If you work with Skype on your Windows tablet, your Android smartphone doesn’t beep when your Skype correspondent replies

A common annoyance with instant messaging or social-networking usage is all your devices beeping and lighting up when your correspondent replies to you while you are chatting with them. This is typically because most of us want to install native client-side applications for our favourite instant-messaging services and social networks on each of our devices and have them logged in to the services at the same time.

Skype are tackling this in an application-wide manner by determine which actual Skype client you are actually interacting with at a particular time during a conversation. This then allows the service to mute all other Skype apps that are currently logged in to reduce this problem when it comes to your text messages.

The behaviour will return to normal when you aren’t interacting with Skype or when a call notification comes in so you don’t miss conversation opportunities. A question that can be raised with this functionality is what if you want to “jump” from one device to another such as to instigate your text conversation on your laptop but want to continue it on your tablet which you use while lying on the couch. Here, if you are starting a reply on the second device such as the tablet in the above situation, the app  on the second device should detect the activity and enable its audio prompts.

It may be easy to think of having platform-wide methods of detecting actual interaction so as to, for example, squelch other devices’ alert sounds when you are chatting. But this would have to be achieved on an application level with the application’s server or host knowing which device you are interacting with when you operating that device due to the requirement to work in a cross-platform environment.

At least Skype have answered a situation that ICQ and other instant-messaging systems haven’t anticipated – one owning many different devices for surfing the Internet and having them monitor instant-messaging services.

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Deutsche Telekom raises issues about rural broadband in Germany

Articles (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

Telekom will für Breitband-Aufbau Kabelanbieter kaufen | Gizmodo.de

Breitband-Ausbau wird zweistelligen Milliardenbetrag kosten | Der Spiegel

My Comments

Deutsche Telekom logo courtesy of Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom to raise concern about assuring rural broadband coverage in Germany

Deutsche Telekom has been raising concern about assuring that the whole of Germany has access to decent-standard broadband Internet and have been interested in buying in to smaller cable-broadband services in that country to achieve that goal.

But are they the entity who has to carry the burden for rural broadband service, which requires huge investments? This is although they have been previously the government-run monopoly telecommunications operator for Germany.

Here, they were having to need EUR€10 billion to get a broadband service of at least 50Mbps over 90% of Germany with them needing to cover the remote areas which represents 10% for another EUR€15 billion. They also raised the issue of competing services needing federal money to achieve this same goal.

German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Farmhouses in these areas not to be forgotten about for real broadband

I see a reality where no other government or public-private entity is putting their hand up to provide rural broadband in that country. Germany’s political layout with the individual States (Bundesländer), especially the “Area States” (Flächeländer) could put themselves in a better position if the States (Baden-Württenburg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony, North-Rhine-Westphalia and co) or subordinate government divisions could underpin the works needed to be done.

This is something that has taken place in some other European countries like the UK and France where local or regional governments put their hand in their pocket for broadband enrichment projects in their territories. This is with a view to seeing investment take place for their areas with a view to attracting major employers like research, education or technology to their areas or to see their local economy on a level or better playing field with other areas.

Similarly, allowing for a truly competitive environment for Internet service where there isn’t favouritism for existing carriers may also be a chance for the other carriers to invest more in to Germany and see all of the nation covered with real broadband.

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France fields an online storage service that is a privacy-focused European alternative

Article (French language / Langue Française)

RKube : le cloud français | Ere Numerique

From the horse’s mouth

RKube

Product Page

My Comments

Map of Europe By User:mjchael by using preliminary work of maix¿? [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

An online cloud storage that the Europeans call their own

The increased discontent in Europe about the NSA  spying on European citizens’ Internet activity has seen less trust in Internet services that are either hosted on American soil or chartered in the USA. This has also been augmented by recent activities where the German government “battened down the hatches” and even gave a CIA station chief located there the “royal order of the boot”.

As well, the French and Swiss worked on their own volume-wide disk encryption software such as VeraCrypt.

Similarly, the European Union recently won a European court case to assure EU citizens the “right to be forgotten” by major US-based search engines while an Austrian-based class action was launched against Facebook on privacy grounds.

Now the French have launched their own “cloud-driven” online storage as a competitor to the US-based online storage services like Dropbox, Box.com, OneDrive and Google Drive. Here, this operator have their servers on French soil and are totally subject to the rule of law in France. They also focus their offers around user privacy according to European norms. They even have the ability for you to create your own security key and implement secure anonymous file transfers.

Flag of France

Totally hosted on French soil

Like most of the online storage services, they offer client-side software for Windows, Macintosh OS X, iOS and Android while offering a simplified Web user experience for those of us who come in from Web browsers.

RKube will offer users a free 5Gb account or access to up to 500Gb for up to €49.90 / month.

But I also wonder who else in Continental Europe will run with online file storage or similar services in response to the loss of faith in American services by Europeans. It also extends to other services like search engines or social networks. Similarly, it could be interesting to know whether people who live outside Europe but are concerned about the privacy or confidentiality of their data could end up purchasing space on these services rather than the American services.

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Product Review–Western Digital MyCloud EX2 dual-disk network-attached-storage device

Introduction

I am reviewing the Western Digital MyCloud EX2 dual-disk network-attached storage device that has the ability to run with two hard disks as a RAID 1 setup or a RAID 0 setup. This is a unit that is pitched at users who want a highly-capable and configurable NAS for their home network or to have as a sidekick multimedia NAS for their small-business network.

Capacity Price
4Tb (2 x 2Tb) AUD$499
6Tb (2 x 3Tb) AUD$699
8Tb (2 x 4Tb) AUD$799
Enclosure only

WD MyCloud EX2 dual-disk NAS

Class Consumer Network Attached Storage
Storage
Capacity 4 Tb (2 x 2Tb)
Other capacities
Disks 2 hard disks
Configuration RAID 0 or 1, Separate disks
Set up as RAID 1
Connection
Network Connection Gigabit Ethernet
USB Device Connection USB 3.0 x 2
Mass-Storage
Device Discovery
UPnP Yes
Bonjour Yes
UPnP Internet Gateway Control Yes
IPv6 Dual-Stack
Features and Protocols
SMB / CIFS Yes
DLNA Media Server Yes
General Web Server
Remote Access Yes
Remote NAS Sync Same model only
Cloud-Storage Client
Download Manager Yes
BitTorrent client Yes
Other functions app support

 

The Network-Attached Storage System itself

Connectivity

The Gigabit Ethernet and USB connections on the WD MyCloud EX2 NAS

The Gigabit Ethernet and USB connections on the WD MyCloud EX2 NAS

The WD MyCloud EX2 can connect to your home network via a Gigabit Ethernet connection which would work at full speed with the upmarket routers that are pitched at the next-generation broadband Internet service.

As well, it comes with 2 USB ports so you can “hang” extra USB hard disks off the unit. They can be set up as extra storage capacity including to share resources held on these disks across the network, or to transfer data between the USB storage device and the NAS, typically to import data to the network or to backup data held on the NAS.

Setup Experience

I found that the WD MyCloud EX2 was easy to set up and integrate with your home network. This was due to its management interface being available using UPnP standards. You could download the client software simply by right-clicking on the hard disk icon in Windows and selecting the download option. This software is mandatory if you want to take advantage of the “MyCloud” remote-access functionality, which means that you don’t need this software to get your MyCloud NAS going.

Here, you are abile to set up things like a management account and password, give it a distinct device name, find out the state of the unit including disk capacity and health amongst other things.

Capabilities

WD MyCloud EX2 NAS hard disks

2 user-replaceable hard disks

The WD MyCloud EX2 dual-disk NAS can be set up to run a JBOD setup with each hard disk as its own logical volume, a RAID 1 setup with both hard disks ganged together as a single volume so that the data is replicated on each disk or as a RAID 0 setup where both hard disks are ganged together to effectively use both drives’ capacity as one logical volume.

Of course, this NAS ticks the boxes when it comes to SMB/CIFS access and DLNA / iTunes media serving. The latter function is looked after by TwonkyMedia Server 7 for the DLNA aspect, which also supports DLNA-based upload for those cameras that support it along with multiple-DLNA-server aggregation.

The computer-backup functionality can be facilitated with WD’s software or with the operating-system-supplied solutions such as Windows Backup or Apple Time Machine.

System performance

When testing the WD MyCloud EX2 NAS, I had run it as a RAID 1 setup, which provides for increased fault-tolerance and network-to-disk data throughput. Here, the setup has data mirrored on each physical hard disk which is of the same size.

A mixed-size file transfer between my computer and this device allowed this NAS to achieve a throughput rate of around 11Mbps. As well, even putting this NAS to use with streaming some short MP4s via DLNA yielded a very smooth experience courtesy of the TwonkyMedia server software.

I had noticed very little operational noise or vibration while the WD MyCloud EX2 NAS was in use especially while the unit was doing the test file transfer. This means that I would find it suitable for home or similar environments where a quiet system is required. It also showed that the NAS was a very well-built unit and was able to avoid unnecessary heat build-up.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Personally, I would like to see the availability of a front-end app that can work with most of the cloud-storage services like Dropbox or OneDrive so that the NAS can work as an independent “on-ramp” or “off-ramp” for these services. This is although Western Digital are pitching this and other personal NAS devices as a “personal cloud” storage alternative to these services.

Similarly, as I have often said, the “personal cloud” that WD and others promote with these devices should be able to accommodate multiple NAS devices at multiple locations. This is whether to provide data availability at each location or provide a level of resilience against power or connection failure by, for example, having a copy of your data held at another physical location like your shopfront. It can also exploit the idea of allowing customers to use equipment with different capabilities at different locations or for different purposes.

Conclusion

I would recommend that one purchases the WD MyCloud EX2 series dual-disk NAS as a “step-up” unit for where one wants increased data throughput or increased fault-tolerance out of these devices. The ability for a user to replace the hard disks can be a bonus but you will have to copy the data out to another storage device like a USB hard disk or NAS of the same capacity or greater before upsizing the hard disks when you intend to upsize the NAS.

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Web-page advertising needs to adopt a secure-ads strategy

Article

Beware of Risky Ads on Tumblr | MalwareBytes Unpacked

My Comments

Online ad - to be respected like advertising in printed media

Ads on sites like here need to be secure to obtain the same respect as magazine ads

Most of us who use the Web are making increased use of ad-sponsored Web sites for news, blogs, social media and the like.

In most cases, the banner advertising that appears on these Websites or on advertising-funded mobile-platform apps and is delivered in a tasteful manner provide a similar experience to the display advertising we see, accept and take for granted in newspapers, magazines and other printed media. That is where pop-up or pop-under advertising isn’t used or you don’t hear noisy video commercials playing through. It could be enough to see an animated or slide-show ad appear within the confines of the banner. Here, the advertising doesn’t interrupt the reading experience unlike with TV advertising or online-video advertising where it interrupts the viewing experience.

Such advertising, like the Google AdSense ads you see on this site, is sold on a contract that is based on cost-per-click which the advertiser pays when you click on the ad to follow through with it, or cost-per-impression which is based on simply on the ad being loaded and appearing on the site.

The malvertisement threat

But there is a security problem cropping up here in the form of “malvertisements”. These are online advertisements that are delivered to lead users to Websites that host malware. Typically they use enticing copy and graphics in the advertisements to attract users to view content on these sites and download software of questionable provenance.

Security vendors run a rhetoric that encourages us Web users to use ad-blocking software to keep our computer secure by masking all online advertising. But this can get in the way of honest advertisers and the publications that depend on them for revenue because the software works on an “all or nothing” approach.

But what can the online advertising industry do about this?

If a Website author has control over all of the advertising they admit, they can easily “fence out” malvertisements and distasteful advertising by examining what their potential advertiser is tendering at the start of and through the life of their advertising contract.

But this is not the case for most Websites where they will rely on one or more ad networks like Google AdSense to supply all or the remainder of their ad inventory. These ad networks typically source the advertising themselves and pay publishers a cut for each advertisement that appears or when someone clicks on an advertisement.

Ad networks

Malware sites advertise through these networks on a “pay-per-click-only” contract because it is a “low-risk high-return” option. But the networks could make life harder for them by, for example, vetting the creatives (advertising text, graphics, scripts and links) offered for an ad campaign before accepting them for display and through the life of the campaign. Similarly, they could make it harder to establish or sustain advertising contracts for “fly-by-night” operations like distributing malware such as implementing the ability to break-off ad contracts if the advertiser engages in deceptive conduct or not offering “very-low-risk” advertising options such as “pay-per-click-only” text ads. One way would be to require all ad contracts to be based on the requirement to pay for a particular time length or minimum number of impressions.

Ad networks can also exchange details about advertisers that engage in deceptive business practices so that the advertisers don’t go “shopping around” different ad networks to hawk their wares at the lowest risk. This is similar to a lot of proper business practices where companies are able to exchange details about known credit risks for example.

This could be part of an online advertising code of conduct to protect the validity and legitimacy of the online display advertisement as part of an advertiser’s campaign mix and as a way for Web publishers to raise some income.

Webmasters

Webmasters can work with the ad network’s control panel to reduce the kind of advertising that gets through to their ad spaces. For example, they could opt to keep the advertising that appears to tightly reflect the content and tone of their Website. The Webmaster can also exercise a tight level of control over any advertising they directly sell for their Website such as offering contracts with a minimum level of risk to the advertiser or vetting the creative material tendered by the advertisers.

As well, they can take out security measures over the Website to stop undesireable activity from occurring with their Website. This could include implementing hardened login procedures such as brute-force lockout or two-factor authentication on the critical admin and editor accounts.

Conclusion

Like most online-security issues like Wi-Fi security, it isn’t just up to end-users to do the “heavy-lifting” to keep their Web experience secure. Other stakeholders like advertising networks need to join in the game to keep a secure Web with respected online advertising and avoid exposure to liability.

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Using QR codes and NFC to take tourist attractions further

Article

QR Code And NFC Talking Statues | 2D Code

My Comments

London is using QR codes and NFC tags that head to Web-based links as a way of enhancing the visitors’ experience with the well-known characters’ statues. Here, the links provide experiences like Sherlock Holmes talking to you or where you can experience the Bow Bells call associated with the Dick Whittington legend.

But this could be used for various goals like having interpretation boards that “read out” the text to you, show the text in another language or provide extra detail on the attraction. Sometimes you may be able to engage in multimedia content or have the device’s GPS navigate you to another point in a pre-defined tour as part of a tour app.

It just requires the use of QR codes which work with all mobile platforms or NFC “touch-and-go” tags that work with Android and Windows 8 / Windows Phone 8 platforms linking to micro-sites that “take the attraction” further. These would them make the smartphone or tablet become more relevant when you tour an area rather than just as toys.

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Comcast reaches the 100% IPv6 goal for residential Internet

Article

Comcast Reaches 100% Residential IPv6 Deployment | Broadband News And DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

Comcast

Press Release

My Comments

Comcast brand logo - courtesy ComcastComcast is now one of the first major Internet service providers in the USA to set up for full IPv6 operation for its residential and small-business Internet-service products. Here, they are operating this on a dual-stack arrangement with customers able to receive IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and connections.

This is to satisfy realities that are affecting Internet use such as a reduction of publically-available IPv4 addresses and the arrival of the “Internet Of Everything” concept where there will be many devices connected to networks both large and small.  IPv6 also opens up newer network-management functionalities like Segment Routing and Service Function Chaining.

Here, they are also optimising the XFinity X1 and XFinity Voice product platforms for IPv6 as well as implementing IPv6 for all of networks associated with the NBC Universal digital-content properties.

If a Comcast subscriber is to benefit from IPv6, they would have to connect the cable modem to a router that supports IPv6 dual-stack functionality. In some cases, you may have to have the existing cable modem swapped out for a newer unit or have Comcast flash the existing unit with newer IPv6-ready firmware. When you set up your router’s IPv6 WAN/Internet options, you may find it best to let the router use the “auto-detect” options.

This could show up as a step in the right direction for IPv6 in the world’s largest and densest Internet-service market.

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