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Tag Archives: Devices

What Really Happened In Mat Honan’s Password Saga?

Yesterday I posted about the importance of strong passwords and, though I stand by the position today, additional information has come to light about Mat Honan’s, the writer I referenced in that story, tale of woe.  According to a report in Forbes today by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, entitled “Apple Allowed Hackers Access to User’s iCloud Account” , the deed may not have been as challenging as it appeared on the surface.

It was assumed, when first reported yesterday, that hackers had to do some real work to crack the writer’s password and Mat took partial responsibility for not having changed his password in a while.  However, further investigation on Mat’s part has revealed that the suspects apparently were able to trick that password out of duped Apple employee’s.

I know many baby boomer’s have a basic mistrust of cloud services and how that affects their data storage decisions.  This report will make those decisions no easier, to say the least.  On the other hand, the decision to not avail themselves of cloud services may be a much easier one to make in the near future.  In the past, I have tried to alleviate, to some extent, the concerns posed by many boomer’s regarding the safety of their data in iCloud and similar systems.  With this report, it is hard to justify that cautious, but favorable, position.

In the end, it is up to every individual to determine what’s best for controlling their personal information and account access.  Will this incident portend future stringent security measures?  Probably.  Should it have taken such an occurrence for that to happen?  No.

We all become frustrated at the bank and with phone personnel who put us through the third degree when we attempt to attain account information, even if they know us, but let this be a lesson on the importance of such scrutiny.  In the future, maybe we will all be a little more patient when these security measures are implemented while accessing our various accounts.

Have a great day!

Is Siri Understanding?

Yesterday, July 28th, 2012, Tech Crunch’s Nadav Gur wrote an excellent article on what it is, exactly, that Siri and any spinoffs need to do to become true virtual personal assistants.  The article, From Information to Understanding: Moving Beyond Search In The Age of Siri, details the benefits of a true aid in our search for knowledge which requires, to some extent, understanding what we are looking for when we speak.

Siri, for those of you unfamiliar with the technology, is the virtual personal assistant, or artificial intelligence (Ai) feature, built into the current iPhone 4S.  I think the article speaks for itself  and won’t go into depth in citing it but would like to highlight a few concepts in it that I think we can all agree with once we have a deeper understanding of the subject.

On the surface, Siri can be considered a cute little feature of the iPhone 4S and, soon, the iPad third generation, the iPad 7 (my handle for an expected 7″ iPad model in the not too distant future), and, most likely, most new iOS devices from here on out for the foreseeable future.  But a deeper exploration would prove the notion of her being just a feature, to be false.

Siri, in reality, is anything but a cute little add-on.  She is, in the true sense of the words, Artificial Intelligence beyond that previously accessible to the average person on the street.  We speak and she, not only, listens but attempts to comprehend to the extent that she can predict exactly what it is that we are looking for contextually.  In use, we may become frustrated that she doesn’t seem to “Get It” when we say something, but that may very well be because she is trying to do so much more than “Get It”, she is attempting to understand and interpret exactly what we want.

Upon closer examination, that’s pretty amazing stuff and the type of thing that was in sci fi movies and books that we, as baby boomers, enjoyed while growing up.  In those days, that type of “Robot” notion was pretty far fetched, but in 2012 it has become a very common reality.

I think back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, we knew we’d be in for some pretty mind bending stuff in the future being on the brink of atomic and nuclear power and space exploration to name a few of our firsts.  But even then, did we really expect this to happen in our life times, to the extent, and at the speed that it is happening today?  I know I watch these things develop enthralled with the continuing array of new technology.

So, to answer the question, “Is Siri Understanding?”, I’d have to say that this model of Ai is a working model at the forefront of what will develop to be a true comprehending and responsive evolution in the future.  I believe that, to some degree, Siri does understand what we’re saying and attempts to predict what we’re looking for.  Siri, and the newly introduced Android equivalent, Google Now, need to be seen and tested to be appreciated.  Will they replace an individual’s personal enjoyment of the quest for learning and finding new things on their own and quenching that thirst for knowledge that most human’s possess? I doubt it.  Will they make future generations lazy or too dependent on new technologies to think for themselves?  I hope not.  But are they here to stay?  Probably.  Kick back and join me in watching, with fascination, these creations of younger generations which are moving at a staggering pace.

How Does the Google Nexus 7 Stack Up?

Now that I have had a chance to play around with a new Nexus 7 for several days, I can say my reactions are mixed.  The screen view is incredibly clear, even for my old eyes, but the touch response leaves a bit to be desired. This early Android Jelly Bean release features “Google Now”, Android’s much touted Siri counterpart, which, imho, also leaves a bit to be desired.  So as not to totally confuse you, Jelly Bean is Android’s latest OS (Operating System) and newly released last week.  Actually, if memory serves (and it doesn’t always these days), the same day this new 7″ Asus tablet was released.

Jelly Bean is quite impressive looking upon start up.  I like the simplistic arrangement of the icons and home screen.  Finding your way around is not as intuitive as I’d like to see but is also not totally impossible to figure out upon a few minutes of trial and error playing around.

“Google Now’s”, haven’t named her yet, comprehension of what is being said is pretty limited, although better than Apple’s Siri, again in my opinion.  Her response time isn’t bad but her ability to speak seems to be on again off again.  One minute she’s a bright and shining star with character and “personality?” the next she’s not talking at all but merely pumping out written responses to your requests for information, most of which are web searches.

Both Ai’s are admittedly in their relative infancy’s, but as highly touted and promoted features, they don’t really stand up to the test of their mettle (I guess it’s only natural to assign human characteristics to these new characters!).  I’m sure both will develop in time to be quite awesome, especially for a generation that grew up without computers throughout schools as did the baby boomers, but at release, neither are quite ready for primetime and may be more frustration than they’re worth!

The Nexus 7 or the iPad 7 (if the rumored to be new 7″ iPad that’ll have Apple’s Siri on it, in all likelihood) should prove to be hot stocking stuffers (well maybe a little bit more  than stocking stuffers) this coming Holiday Season. That is, if my predictions for a Pre-Christmas iPad 7″ tablet release, hold true and if, and this is a big “IF”, the iPad 7 can compete with the price point of the Nexus 7.  The New Nexus 7 sells for $199 for the 8Gb version and $249 for the 16Gb version.  By then, all operating systems should be new – i.e. Jelly Bean for the Nexus 7, and iOS 6.x for the iPad.

Don’t take my word for it, get out there and give Siri or Google Now, or both, a  spin and let me know what you think.  Google Now is available on Jelly Bean OS Models and Siri is available now on iPhone 4S’s.  You don’t have to buy one to try one, they’re available at displays in your local electronics stores and/or departments.  I know, I know, how can you talk to a gadget at the store and wait for an “Intelligent” response, you’re saying.  Well, just think, they’ve had us talking to machines for some time now every time we call anywhere, be that private homes, cell phones, businesses, government, and on and on.  You should be quite used to it and, worst yet, everyone around you should be used to hearing people talk to machines and expect an answer!  Bottom line, no excuses to not see what all the hubbub is about, check them out now.

When Does An Apple Taste The Best?

Not so quick!  You’ll have to read on a bit to get the answer to that question.

Rumors about a “Mini” iPad and the iPhone 5 abound.  Some sources portend release dates as early as August 7th for the new iPhone, presumably the iPhone 5 (but who knows with Apple).  Supposedly reliable sources from Japan and China, and quoted here in the States, are saying the new iPhone screen will be bigger and the new iPad screen will be smaller. Release of the new iPad (4th Generation or just 3 1/2?) could be as early as September.

Rumor has it that prototype images have been caught on camera and the new iPhone will have a two-tone back side.  Well, I’m not usually one to promulgate rumors and encourage, possibly unwarranted, hype for products that may or may not even be forthcoming.  There’s no doubt that a new generation of both “i” devices will be released sooner or later but, far be it for me to say, when exactly that may be.

Those questions can only be answered by a handful of sources, of course, counting Apple as one source and the part’s manufacturers each as single sources as well.  Which brings me to the answer of today’s quiz, “When does an Apple taste the best?” well, of course, when it’s served in bite-sized pieces.

No one knows that better than Apple and their powers that be.  Steve Jobs knew it well and his successors to the throne have learned well from their late leader.  All I can say is, “Bravo, Apple”, it’s amazing that, in this day and age, such huge secrets can still be kept under such tight wraps, at least for the most part.

Who doesn’t enjoy a surprise, and Apple is very good about supplying the masses, including me, with nice little technology packed surprises on a regular basis.  Here’s to the next iPhone and/or “Mini” iPad if and when they’re publicly acknowledged by Apple.

Are Jailbroken iOS Devices Worth the Risk?

There are several risks inherent in jailbreaking your expensive iOS device, whether that be an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, the least of which is not ruining your precious “i” equipment.  Legalities aside, let’s not forget a very big risk is voiding any Apple warranty remaining on the product.

Once all is said and done, though, is the utilization enjoyed after a successful jailbreak reward enough to take on that risk?  The answer for many is a resounding “Yes, definitely!”.  Rest assured, those are the successfully jailbroken owner’s.

Many feel that way on principal only, claiming that it is their item legally and they should have every right to  use any wireless service provider they choose.  That logic is hard to argue against.  This country was founded on many freedoms and the use and enjoyment of private property was one of those freedoms.  Others argue that they save a lot of money and have many more choices by buying apps on the open market instead of being limited exclusively to Apple’s app store.  This may be, too, although it’s hard to imagine more choice than 500,000 or so apps provide from the app store offerings.

No matter what your position, you may or may not be interested to know that UnlockOrJailbreak.com has recently come up with the key to unlocking the new iPhone 4S and it’s brethren. I’m not personally familiar with their software but their claims are that it is completely reversible so the warranty voiding becomes a non-issue.  They also provide a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked, making a question of “Are these solutions a waste of money?” disappear as well.

What about the future, what do you do with an iOS device that’s had this iOS release jailbroken when there are future iOS updates?  Well UnlockOrJailbreak.com settles that concern, too, by providing lifetime updates.  Which, again leaving legalities aside, leaves us with the very big question of risking your device. Well, they say, they will hold your hand through the entire process if necessary and make the “5 minute” process just as easy as pie.

If you want to know where I stand on the issue, I’ve rooted or “jailbroken” an android tablet to update the OS but never an iOS device as the offerings in the app store and with the cellular providers have never been an issue for me.  If you watch the market, you’ll see that many jailbreak iPhones, etc. for the purpose of reselling them since they generally sell for substantially more than a standard device. I’ve also never been interested enough to purchase a jailbroken one, although why I would spend more to do so when I’m perfectly capable of doing so myself makes no sense anyway.

If you want to see what’s involved and check out other options when considering this process, which I would highly recommend, visit some of the sites that do offer software or services and check out their reputation’s.  I have done no research into this particular company and I’m not recommending them, but they sound like a promising option if you’re in the market.