Codebreaker - Most Commented


Can Tweets be private?

Twitter filed an appeal in New York Supreme Court Monday--arguing that individuals should have privacy rights in their Twitter accounts. Among other things, Twitter aruges, law enforcement shouldn’t have access to tweets that are no longer available or deleted. From the Washington Post:

The case turns on the Twitter account of Malcolm Harris who was arrested while walking on the Brooklyn Bridge during a 2011 protest. Early this year, prosecutors issued subpoenas demanding that Twitter turn over information for two names associated with Harris: “@destructuremal” and “@getsworse.” Twitter responded by telling Harris about the subpoenas who then asked a court to quash them.

The judge ruled that the tweets belonged to Twitter not Harris and wrote “the motion to “#quash” was “#denied.” (Seriously. #nojoke)

He ruled that Harris had no privacy rights in his tweets on the grounds that Twitter is like shouting on the street where everyone can hear. He added “the street is an online, information superhighway, and the witnesses can be the third party providers like Twitter, Facebook, Instragram, Pinterest.”

If the appeal fails, and tweets, once tweeted, are #4ever, what’s it mean to the value of Twitter? And the ways people should and shouldn’t use it?

Aug 29, 2012

Hack you!

We talk about video games from time to time here on Tech Report. Here’s one we wholeheartedly DO NOT ENDORSE. Brain hacking. Armed with a gaming headset, researchers from California, Switzerland and the UK were able to piece together banking PINs and addresses of test subjects. The Daily Mail tells how they did it:

The scientists took an off-the-shelf Emotiv brain-computer interface, a device that costs around $299, which allows users to interact with their computers by thought, and is often used to control games.
The scientists then sat their subjects in front of a computer screen and showed them images of banks, people, and PIN numbers.
They then tracked the readings coming off of the brain, specifically a signal known as P300.
The P300 signal is used by the brain when a person recognizes something meaningful, such as someone or something they interact with on a regular basis.
It is released by the brain around 300 milliseconds after recognition occurs, hence its name.

The good news is that it would be pretty difficult for somebody to “slip” one of these headsets on you, show you recognizable images and get you to spill the beans without you knowing. The researchers say this technology could be promising in prisoner interrogation. Slip a headset on, show the perp some pictures, and see whether they show any signs of recognition. If they do, then questioning might continue. If not, they’re either clean or a STONE COLD KILLER.

Aug 28, 2012

We like pictures

Of course Facebook still looks like King Kong on top of the Empire State Building, but a recent poll by Experian shows how much ground Pinterest and Instagram have gained in the last year, we really, really like pictures. Grouping pictures snagged from the web, that would be Pinterest, is the third largest social network site, behind Big Face and Twitter, which is up 185 spots, or 5,124 percent, from last year.
As if that’s not impressive, making pictures look old and distorted, that would be Instagram, has gone from the 609 to No. 11 on the charts - that’s a 17,319 percent increase. That kind of movement is also probably a big reason why Facebook bought purchased Instagram earlier this year. AllThingsD writes:

Based on the habits of early adopters, Experian research head Bill Tancer predicted that the window is still open for additional niche social networks.
Tancer has been studying growth patterns since following the breakout of YouTube in 2005, and attested that these days the hits are emerging faster than ever.
“The ramp is much quicker,” Tancer said. “You see a bunch of demographic segments adopting at once versus that sequential adoption.”

Google+ isn’t doing too shabby either. The site is currently sitting in the No. 4 spot, and Tancer thinks it has a secret weapon: local. Again from AllThingsD:
Earlier this summer, Google released Google+ Local, which combines place pages, free Zagat ratings and related social activity.
Why does that matter? Because local information is one of the biggest things people search for.
“When you look at search distribution being such a significant channel, local will cause a pretty strong growth pattern for Google+,” Tancer predicted.

Aug 28, 2012

Why waste good real estate?

If you’ve been to the Google homepage today, you may have noticed what CNET is calling a first. A big, ol, ad for Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet.

That Google would go to such lengths underscores the company's desire to make a bigger dent in burgeoning tablet market, one still dominated by Apple's iPad. Given the traffic that goes through Google, the home page is one of the most coveted spots and prime real estate for advertisers. The company, however, has traditionally resisted attempts to run advertisements on its main page, beyond a link to its Chrome browser.

Does this mark some sort of more fundamental change a Google? Is the Google search page going to morph into a Google store? And what about those artists that redesign the Google logo on holidays? Are they going to have to become ad guys now?

Bonus question: Why do so many tablets coming on the market cost $199?

Aug 28, 2012

What happens to your media when you die?

We’ve all watched that scene in a movie where a family gathers around a lawyer’s desk as he reads the last will and testimony of some pivotal character. (It’s a movie, so the lawyer is a “he.” Don’t get mad at me, send your hate mail to Hollywood.) Great Aunt Harriet left her entire fortune to her duck!!! And what now? We each get a month to take care of the duck, and whoever can get her to lay an egg gets the loot?!? Crazy? Sure. You bet I’m in.
But what if Aunt Harriet was a book collector? Better yet, what if all her books were on her Kindle, and she had terabytes of music all purchased from iTunes? Dividing up her digital detritus might be more of a headache than getting Quackers to produce an heir. When you buy a song from the iTunes store or an eBook from Amazon, you’re technically only buying a license - a non-transferrable license. Marketwatch spoke with estate planner Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss:


Most digital content exists in a legal black hole. “The law is light years away from catching up with the types of assets we have in the 21st Century,” says Wheatley-Liss. In recent years, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Oklahoma and Idaho passed laws to allow executors and relatives access to email and social networking accounts of those who’ve died, but the regulations don’t cover digital files purchased.

The article goes on to profile DapTrust, lawyer-created software getting ready to come to market that will let users create a trust account for media files. Sure, this sounds like a solution, albeit a labor-intensive one.


… experts say there should be an easier solution, and a way such content can be transferred to another’s account or divided between several people.“We need to reform and update intellectual-property law,” says Dazza Greenwood, lecturer and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab.

Aug 28, 2012

Smartphones on a plane

What’s more grating than a fit-pitching toddler on a cross-country flight? A loud-mouth grownup complaining into a cell phone on that same flight. “The turbulence is crazy.” “Did you know crackers cost like 5-bucks now?” “And then he said....” From PC World:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is taking a new look at the use of portable electronics on airplanes, seeking public comments starting this week and forming a government-industry group to study when smartphones, tablets and other devices can be used safely.

But, and this is an important but: "One thing the study group won't look at is allowing voice calls on cellphones during flight, the FAA said."


Airlines once commonly offered pay phones in seatbacks, but since passengers started getting online in the air using Wi-Fi, the carriers have taken a firm line against calls using VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol).

Thank you FAA, for keeping a whole lot of passengers saner. (But if tablets and smartphones might be OK, what is the problem with VoIP calls?)

**Update: The FAA's actual request for comments doesn't make it sound like it has ruled out VoIP on Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs).  From the document

Increased access and usage of PEDs may distract passengers during crewmember safety briefings and instructions. In addition, PED usage may have an adverse impact on flight and cabin crew responsibilities and duties. In 2005, the FCC solicited comments on the potential to expand the use of cellular phones in flight and received responses from passengers concerned about the use of cell phones by other passengers. One of the main concerns expressed by the public comment was the fear of passenger disruptions caused by cell phone use in a crowded public conveyance. 

• If some PEDs are found to be compatible with aircraft systems, should there be
restrictions on the use of PEDs for other reasons?
• Should voice communications using other technologies such as voice over IP be
limited or restricted?

Aug 28, 2012

What the Apple-Samsung verdict means for your apps

Aug 28, 2012
How the jury's decision in the patent infringement case could change things for app developers.
Posted In: apple, samsung, apps, drobox, two step, computer security

Doing the two-step


If you’re one of those people with the password “password”, this next bit isn’t for you. But if you do worry about your online security--maybe you’ll be interested. According to The Verge, Dropbox is introducing two-step authenication.

You'll need to download the latest beta version of the desktop software to try the feature out. Once you do, visit this link to activate yourself in the beta, and follow the steps to turn on two-step authentication. Just like Google's popular version of the security feature, you receive the codes via text message or an authenticator app that uses Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) protocol (e.g. Google Authenticator).

Aug 27, 2012

A mini announcement

Unnamed sources have “confirmed” that the iPad mini, or whatever it’s going to be called, will not debut at the special Apple event being planned for September 12. And really, if you were Apple, would you want to debut the next iPhone alongside a brand new tablet? Probably not - too much competition for shiny things makes them dull (I think it’s called a shiny double negative or something). That’s why AllThingsD says the company will hold a second media event in October to announce the smaller tablet, pretty much ensuring that the taste of Apple will be on the lips of consumers well through the holiday shopping season.

Only after the next-generation iPhone is out the door and on sale will Apple announce the smaller iPad it’s been working on. That device, which is expected to have a display of less than eight inches, will be uncrated at a second special event, which sources said is currently scheduled for October.

ZDNet thinks
the mini could be the device that delivers a thermonuclear blow to Google but cautions to take this latest news with at least a few grains of salt.

… nothing concrete is known about the iPad Mini, and everything written about it is being based on guesswork and speculation. Not a single hardware component allegedly belonging to the iPad Mini has been leaked, in stark contrast to the endless leaking of purported iPhone 5 components.

Aug 27, 2012

High-Def x 16

Here’s a hot tip for those of you trying to figure out what to do with your lives. Make up. You know, like powder, foundation, mascara - yeah, make up. If a newly approved television broadcast standard, which allows TVs to produce pictures with 16 times more resolution than current HD systems, is an indication of what’s to come, make up artists stand to strike it rich and be in high demand.
The new standard, called Super Hi-Vision 8k, was ushered in and ballyhooed by Japanese broadcaster NHK. The technology was recently showed off for spectators wanting to catch the Olympics in “just like being there” quality, who gathered around giant screens broadcasting in Super Hi-Vision. The BBC writes:

NHK has used a 145-inch (3.7 metre) prototype display co-developed with Panasonic to show off its footage.
But it will be some time before such models become commercially available.
TV makers are currently focusing efforts on launching 4K enabled devices offering half the resolution. This is the format currently used by most digital cinema cameras.
LG unveiled the biggest 4K television set to date earlier this week - an 84 inch screen costing more than $22,000.
But manufacturers are likely to want to offer 8K screens by 2020 when NHK aims to begin its first experimental broadcasts in the standard.

2020 might be too long a wait for your budding make up career to take bloom, but I’m pretty sure beauty schools will be accepting college savings plan money by then. So maybe you should just save your pennies and push this career path on your middle-schooler. 

Aug 27, 2012



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