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Yesterday Apple Fixed A Bug In iOS 7. It’s A Doozy

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Yesterday Apple announced a fix to a security bug in its iOS 7 system. Today Web security experts have parsed the patch to figure out what exactly the problem was… And apparently it’s a doozy.

Wired has all of the gory details:

“[The] terse description in Apple’s announcement yesterday had some of the internet’s top crypto experts wondering aloud about the exact nature of the bug. Then, as they began learning the details privately, they retreated into what might be described as stunned silence. “Ok, I know what the Apple bug is,” tweeted Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins. “And it is bad. Really bad.”

The culprit of what may be one of Apple’s biggest security snafus is an extra “goto” in one part of the authentication code, Wired reported. That spurious line of code bypasses the rest of the authentication protocols.

The bug could could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, according to a Reuters report which was issued late on Friday night.

Meanwhile, ZDNet notes that macs may have been left vulnerable.

As ZDNet’s contributing editor Larry Seltzer wrote:

Make no mistake about it, this is a very serious bug. The bug makes it fairly straightforward to intercept and decrypt SSL/TLS communications, probably the most important security protocol there is today.

Here’re more details, on the patch from ZDNet.

Photo via Flickr user aditza121


Google Fiber May Be Coming To More U.S. Cities

Selena Larson February 19, 2014 Web

Google is in talks with 34 cities in nine metro areas across the United States to introduce Google Fiber, Internet that’s up to 100 times faster than broadband, the company announced today.

Selected cities will have to complete a “fiber-ready checklist” with information that can speed up planning and construction. In the meantime, Google Fiber will begin detailing costs and timelines for the new fiber-optic network.

Google Fiber is already rolling out in Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri); Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas. Here’s the list of newly proposed cities:

  • Atlanta, including surrounding areas Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Phoenix, Arizona, including surrounding areas Scottsdale and Tempe
  • Portland, Oregon, including surrounding areas Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego, and Tigard
  • Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, including surrounding areas Carrborro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh
  • San Jose, California, including surrounding areas Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto

Lead image by Flickr user meneame comunicacions, CC 2.0


You should update your iPhones and iPads to iOS 7.0.6 for a crucial SSL security fix

By , Saturday, 22 Feb ’14 , 12:39am

Apple’s release of iOS 7.0.6 might seem like a routine update, but you’ll definitely want to install it, as it contains an important security fix that addresses a flaw with SSL encryption.

A support document about the update notes that a validation problem with Secure Transport could potentially allow attackers “with a privileged network position to capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS.” We’ve reached to Apple for more information, but in the meantime, you should assume that the issue is as serious as it sounds.

Apple also released an Apple TV update and iOS 6.1.6 today to address the same issue. You can find the iOS updates in iTunes or in the device’s settings pane. The Apple TV update can be found under Settings > General > Update Software.

Since SSL is often used to transfer sensitive data like payment information, personal details and logins, any potential compromise to the authentication process is a critical vulnerability.

iOS 7.0.6 | iOS 6.1.6

Image credit: pauliewoll / Flickr


The Crippling Economics of Inequality

A few months ago, Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company, wrote in his investment outlook letter that instead of approaching the tax reform argument from the standpoint of what an enormous percentage of the overall income taxes the top 1% pay, America’s wealthy should consider how much of the national income they’ve been privileged to make. Gross noted that in the share of total pre-tax income accruing to America’s top 1% has more than doubled from 10% in the 1970s to 20% today, and asked his wealthy clients to “admit that you… did not, as President Obama averred, ‘build that,’ you did not create that wave. You rode it. And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions.”

But favoring average working Americans is not just a matter of fairness. America’s wealthy would actually do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than they’re doing now with a large share of an economy that’s still anemic — anemic mainly because the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to get it out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

Put simply, the wealthy don’t spend nearly as much of their incomes as do people further down the ladder. That means that as more and more of the nation’s total income concentrates at the top, total spending is less than it would otherwise be. As entrepreneur Nick Hannauer says in our new movie Inequality for All, “the problem with rising inequality is a person like me who earns a thousand times as much as the typical American doesn’t buy a thousand pillows.” Or, for that matter, a thousand pair of blue jeans or restaurant meals or movie tickets or insurance policies.

It’s the lesson Henry Ford taught America early in the twentieth century when he paid the workers in his Model T factory twice the going rate, thereby pushing up wages in other factories and helping more workers afford to buy Model T’s. And it’s the lesson America put into practice in the three decades after World War II when nearly everyone’s wages doubled, and the bottom fifth’s wages rose even more than the top fifth’s – creating the largest middle class the world had ever seen, and propelling the American economy to its fastest growth in history.

Reforming the tax code to favor economic growth and labor is one step. Raising the minimum wage, encouraging trade unions, and investing more (and more prudently) in the education and training of all Americans are others.

The voices favoring such reforms shouldn’t be coming only from Democrats, labor unions, and the Left — and a few renegades like Gross and Hannauer. The entire American business community needs to speak out forcefully and clearly in favor of a more broadly-shared prosperity — and against the direction we’re heading. Shared prosperity is essential for faster growth.

Photo: Truthout.org / Flickr

Posted by:Robert Reich

Do You Tell Yourself “I’ll Absolutely Do That…Tomorrow”?

I’m doing a series related to my forthcoming book on habit-formation, Before and After. There, I identify the twenty-one strategies that we can use to change our habits. (If you want to be notified when the book goes on sale, sign up here.)

In this series, I focus on the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting. Loopholes matter, because when we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes. We look for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation.

However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps avoid employing the loophole, and improve our chances of keeping the habit.

There are many kinds of loopholes. Ten kinds, in fact. I’ve written here about the Planning to Fail loophole.


The Tomorrow Loophole

This loophole depends on “tomorrow logic.” Now doesn’t matter much, because we’re going to follow good habits tomorrow.

It doesn’t matter what I eat now, because I’m starting a diet tomorrow. (Research shows that people who plan to start dieting tomorrow tend to over-eat today.)


I’m definitely on track to finish my paper on time, because starting tomorrow, I’m really going to buckle down.


I’ll be really frugal in January so it doesn’t matter if I spend too much in December.


Today I’m eating whatever I want, but tomorrow I’ll be “good.” (People tend to self-regulate day-by-day, but everything counts.)

Tomorrow logic undermines good habits by making it easy to deny that our actions clash with our intentions.

It’s quite pleasant to think about how virtuous we’ll be, tomorrow.

In an argument worthy of the White Queen — who told Alice “The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today” — we tell ourselves, absolutely, I’m committed to exercise, and I will exercise tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Just not today.

Postponing a start may also lead to the unhelpful phenomenon of the “last hurrah.” “I’m starting my diet on Monday, so I deserve to eat anything I want until then.” “After the holidays, I’m going to cut way back on spending, so I should take advantage of the sales now.”

In the coverage of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I read an article that said that one of the most dangerous times for heroin addicts is right before they go into rehab. That’s the last hurrah too, I guessed.

Some people even fool themselves into thinking that extreme indulgence now will give them more self-control when the magic future day arrives. But eating a giant bowl of ice cream today doesn’t make it any easier to resist tomorrow, and spending an entire day watching TV doesn’t make a person feel more like working the next morning.

I have a fantasy of myself in the future: Future-Gretchen will have more time and more energy for tasks that don’t interest Now-Gretchen. Chores that I keep putting off — like turning notes into actual writing or getting regular doctors’ check-ups — will be easy for Future-Gretchen. (If you have trouble with procrastination, here are 7 tips to help conquer it.)

Alas, there is no Future-Gretchen, only Now-Gretchen.

How about you? Do you find yourself promising that you’ll follow that habit — tomorrow?

Of the 21 strategies that I discuss in my forthcoming habits book, the funniest is definitely the chapter on Loophole-Spotting. I love loopholes! If you want to be notified when the book goes on sale, sign up here.

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She writes about happiness and habit-formation (the subject of her next book, Before and After) at gretchenrubin.com. Follow her here by clicking the yellow FOLLOW button, on Twitter, @gretchenrubin, on Facebook, facebook.com/GretchenRubin.

(Photo: Mona Hura, Flickr)

Posted by:Gretchen Rubin

Groupon Skyrockets After Hours On Q4 Beat With Revenue Of $768.4M, EPS Of $0.04 [Update: Following Enthusiasm, Investors Turn Sour]

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Update 1: Investors bid Groupon massively higher following a better than expected financial performance. However, a mere 10 minutes after pushing Groupon up nearly 15 percent, the tone turned. The company is now down more than 5 percent.

Update 2: Looks like a standard forecast differential. Groupon doesn’t expect its profitability to grow much this year. Investors had expected it to more than double. Ouch.

Today after the close Groupon reported its financial performance, including non-GAAP earnings of $0.04 per share on revenue of $768.4 million. In the sequentially preceding quarter, Groupon had revenue of $595.1 million, earning $0.02 per share.

For the fourth quarter reported today, analysts had expected Groupon to earn $0.02 again, on sharply higher revenue of $719 million. The fourth quarter is, of course, a cyclically strong period for the commerce-facing company.

During regular trading today, Groupon picked up more than 1.5 percent, beating an up market. Following its earnings beat, Groupon is up a massive 13 percent.

On a GAAP basis, Groupon lost 12 cents per share. What caused the massive gap between GAAP earnings per share and non-GAAP? According to the company, “stock compensation, acquisition costs and the impairment of a minority investment in China.” That’s reasonable.

For the full year, Groupon had revenue of $2.6 billion.

Looking year over year, for the fourth quarter, Groupon’s revenue rose 20 percent, with the company citing strong holiday shopping as a core reason. All told, a solid quarter for Groupon.

Mobile is increasingly important for the firm, which it noted, saying that in the final month of 2013, “nearly 50% of global transactions were completed on mobile devices.” For that month, Groupon was truly a mobile company. It will be interesting to see how that ratio changes moving into the first quarter.

What’s ahead? Groupon forecasts that it will have revenue in the period between $710 million and $760 million, and lose between 2 and 4 cents (non-GAAP) per share on the back of costs stemming from its recent purchase of the Korean company Ticket Monster.



The Future of Tech Reviews

Or “Forget The Mechanisms, Where’s The Emotion?”

There’s been a lot of fuss about the future direction of tech reviews in traditional US media over the last couple of weeks. It’s almost as if technology is a critically important gearwheel that keeps our modern society ticking. Most of the discussion is, sadly, empty.

There’s something of a sea change going on in traditional technology writing (let’s not say “gadget reviews”, shall we? It’s more important than that) and some long-established names are changing hats and, possibly, directions. Opinions have been stated, re-stated and contradicted by players, observers and, basically, anyone with a voice and/or a modern internet-connected-gizmo-thing that lets them get the opinion out.

And before you say anything: Yes, this is my piece of that puzzle.

And before you sit back and conclude, with fixed all-knowing grin, that you know what I’m about to say, then I’ll have to pre-empt you. You don’t know. I think this entire debate is missing some very important points.

Perhaps the most strident voice in the “future of tech writing” clamor has been Dave Winer. His beautifully-written opinion piece suggests that tech writing has somewhat lost its way nowadays. One of the most interesting arguments he makes compares newspaper movie reviews with technology reviews—the former is rich with passion, opinion, great writing. Such reviews are something that the general public looks to with interest, with trust, with excitement. Dave’s suggestion is, in part, that this is what’s missing from tech writing. The mission to write about tech for the common man has strangely robbed tech writing of the ability to talk deeply, complicatedly, toothily, opinionatedly and meaningfully about things.


Other opinions suggest that the “successor” to the classic tech writer/gadget reviewer (yes, I know, I said gadget) has actually been around for a while. It’s the crowd. It’s all those passionate fans of technology X or system Y who write painstaking, in-depth pieces of analysis on the various review-based social networks that are out there. The average Netizen is savvy enough, the theory goes, that nowadays they know where to look for an insight into brand new cameras/computers/health devices/etc etc etc. The reputation problem, that of being able to trust a particular review or reviewer, is probably smoothed out by the diversity of opinions available and, perhaps, by the implied quality of some of the review sites.

But here’s the thing. Technology writing is actually much more important than it’s perhaps given credit for. Tech, and gizmos, are not just the domain of geeks or nerds anymore (and can we ditch these hatefully negative descriptors, anyway?). Technology knits our lives, our minutes, our society together at deeply personal and deeply community-based levels at every scale from one’s daily emotional life through to how governments interact with each other over the biggest of diplomatic issues. Yes, it may be trivial if the public prefers this type of smartphone over that type of smartphone, but the fact that they’re now using smartphones to communicate in new ways is actually shaping the future of society. And that’s just smartphones—there are a trillion different categories of “techy, gadgety thing,” including ephemeral intangibles such as the social photography trend of “selfies,” that get lumped under the “tech” banner.

But unlike movies, which are an art and thus could be “reviewed” through the biased, opinion-led, personal view of a critic…even if that critic’s quirks are what attract his or her loyal audience…technology isn’t an “art.” It’s also not simply a science. It’s different from reviewing, say, kitchen knives. A knife either balances well in the hand or it doesn’t, it either keeps its sharp edge or loses it. “Technology” crosses such simple divisions nowadays. It is both art and science. It touches people’s emotions, their hopes and dreams and their self image just as much as it lets them accurately navigate from point A to point B at speed, or email their boss.

And this is what I mean.

I think that whatever happens in tech writing in the future will, frankly, just happen. It’s an emergent thing.

But I hope that the “next great tech reviewer” uses the opportunity to re-focus the lens a little. Remember that technology is an emotional thing. Remember that gadgets and devices have tactile, real sensations that meaningfully impact how their users’ days go (on this note, I loved how Damon Darlin described his iPad bonking him on the nose when he fell asleep watching a video on it). Remember that just as important as chip speed X or OS manufacturer Q is the fact that devices have heft and weight and unique quirks of their design in hardware or software that make people love them. Remember that the way people use/relate to/trust a type of tech in one country may be very different than the way folks in another nation use precisely the same thing. And remember that “fanboys” of a brand or gadget tend to forget the most important thing: Context. Passion is all very well, but a device or brand or whatnot also has real, scientific, measurable impact that goes far beyond a mis-quoted statistic or an overly sensational headline.

So let’s say this: Tech writing hasn’t lost its way. It is, however, in more flux than perhaps it has been in years because the pace of innovation itself seems to have picked up, and high technology has wormed its way into the fabric of our world. There’s no need to demand more “movie” like reviews. Nor is there a pressure to only look to the crowd for reviews. But a reviewer with emotional sensitivity, scientific nous, and the ability to frame a gadget’s importance in context…that’s critical. Technical details, yes. Fine critiques of the color of a UI button, maybe. How it feels, emotionally, to use stuff? Definitely.

That’s a really tricky mix.

[Image under CC via Flickr user William Warby]

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