Internet of Things flaw allows a search engine for webcam feeds

J.M. Porup, Ars Technica:

Shodan, a search engine for the Internet of Things (IoT), recently launched a new section that lets users easily browse vulnerable webcams.

The feed includes images of marijuana plantations, back rooms of banks, children, kitchens, living rooms, garages, front gardens, back gardens, ski slopes, swimming pools, colleges and schools, laboratories, and cash register cameras in retail stores, according to Dan Tentler, a security researcher who has spent several years investigating webcam security.

“It’s all over the place,” he told Ars Technica UK. “Practically everything you can think of.”

We did a quick search and turned up some alarming results

Alternative title: How the NSA gets more than what they bargain for.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Apple gets a cut from Google’s advertising

Joel Rosenblatt for Bloomberg:

Google Inc. is paying Apple Inc. a hefty fee to keep its search bar on the iPhone.

Apple received $1 billion from its rival in 2014, according to a transcript of court proceedings from Oracle Corp.’s copyright lawsuit against Google. The search engine giant has an agreement with Apple that gives the iPhone maker a percentage of the revenue Google generates through the Apple device, an attorney for Oracle said at a Jan. 14 hearing in federal court.[…]
The revenue-sharing agreement reveals the lengths Google must go to keep people using its search tool on mobile devices. It also shows how Apple benefits financially from Google’s advertising-based business model that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has criticized as an intrusion of privacy.

If last year’s rumours of Google’s possible ousting as the default search engine on iOS are to be believed, this deal was why Google is still the default iOS search engine. Taken on its face value, this deal paints Apple as a hypocrite. I’m positive though that there’s more to this debacle that should exonerate Apple off that blame.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

On the A9 outperforming its competition

Antutu(via Gadgets360):

In Q4,2015, iPhone 6S,with its A9 processor, won the championship of performance ranking, over 130000 Antutu score . Huawei Mate 8 got NO.2 ,about 90000 Antutu score, with Hisilicon Kirin . Samsung Exynos E7420 devices ,between 80k-90k and Qualcomm snapdragon 810 devices followed after Huawei.

Perhaps a more important rating comes from John Gruber’s review last year of the iPhones 6S:

Second, take a look at Geekbench’s aggregate results for Android devices.[…] In terms of single-core performance, there isn’t a single Android phone that beats the two-year-old iPhone 5S. Android devices fare better in multi-core benchmarks, because they have more cores (some have eight, many have four — the iPhones 6S still have only two cores), but single-core performance is a better measure for the sort of things you can feel while using a device. Apple is literally years ahead of the industry. Even if you don’t agree that single-core performance is the more meaningful benchmark, you can’t deny that iPhone benchmarks don’t look anything like the benchmarks for high-end Android devices. With the Mac, Apple uses the same Intel chips as its PC competition. On mobile, though, Apple’s in-house chip team has given the company a tremendous advantage over the rest of the industry.

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Why most Apple commentary is clueless

Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s commentary on Fortune:

It’s painful to read much of what passes for business reporting about Apple these days. The combination of high page-click value and low barrier-to-entry has reduced online journalism to headlines like this:

  • Apple Chips Implode
  • Everybody Hates Apple
  • The iPhone slowdown spells doom for Apple

That last piece, from Dow Jones’ MarketWatch, slips in a reference to Apple CEO Tim Cook as a “bozo”[…]

Why, at the start of the earning season, does Apple click-bait fill the Web like so much chum? I blame it on the story arc that every editor understands instinctively and every cub reporter quickly learns: What’s up must come down.[…]

Now the tough compare is the March quarter, and bearish reports from a half-dozen Apple suppliers (out of more than 200) are taken as proof that Apple over the next three months will miss its own sales and earning targets. How Apple can miss guidelines that won’t be announced for another two weeks—on Jan. 26, when the company reports its December earnings—is not explained.

Personally, I’m well versed with people blindly criticising Apple and its intentions; sometimes even being wilfully ignorant towards well-documented proof with the counter ‘well of course Apple says so…and you simply eat it all up’.
As for the aforementioned analysts, Rene Ritchie on last year’s episode of The Talk Show has an excellent possible explanation. To paraphrase: negative predictions help bring Apple stock price down, at which point the analysts clients can purchase stock and sell it later for a profit. The ‘impending doom’ usually never has anything to do with the company(or the truth) itself.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Business Insider: Signs that Apple is working on AR

Steve Kovach, Business Insider (via Shawn King):

Apple may be the iPhone company today, but it’ll eventually have to move beyond the smartphone to find the next major computing platform.

Perhaps BI didn’t get the memo.

It’s all but a given that Apple is developing a car (even Elon Musk called the project “an open secret” in the auto industry). But when it comes to a new kind of personal computing gadget, several recent acquisitions and hires hint that Apple is at least exploring augmented reality.
[…]As always, Apple is tight lipped about what it’s cooking up in its research and development labs. But a recent series of acquisitions and hires shows the company is at least experimenting with augmented reality.

Let’s take a look at the evidence[…]

The entire article then reads like gathered material that is forcibly made to support an idea, rather than concluding the idea based on evidence; possibly even written for writing’s sake (the SEO checks out).


BI is using the tired cliche of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” but what do you think? Is VR/AR “the next major computing platform”? While tech nerds may be salivating over VR and AR, do you think The Normals want this platform? Will VR be the next HD TV or the next 3D TV?

To me the current state of consumer-oriented VR/AR seems like a classic example of excellent technology with no vivid application- ‘Now that we developed VR, let’s use it somewhere’, rather than ‘We need to build x, VR fits the bill’. The latter usually appeals more to ‘Normals’.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Donald Trump would get Apple to ‘build their damn computers in this country’ 

Kate Knibbs for Gizmodo (via John Gruber):

GOP candidate and angry sweet potato Donald Trump claims he’ll be able to change Apple’s entire manufacturing system if he is elected president. I’ll give Trump this: He’s great at shouting impossible nonsense.


First, in the span of a few sentences, he insisted that he’d impose a 35 percent tax on businesses producing goods overseas while claiming to support free trade. At the end of his rambling, decidedly non-MLK-themed speech, he said this:

“We’re going to get Apple to build their damn computers in this country instead of other countries.”


In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Petition asking Apple to retain headphone jack has 275,000 supporters

Petition on (via Graham Spencer, Macstories):

Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again.
Not only will this force iPhone users to dole out additional cash to replace their hi-fi headphones, it will singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste — that likely won’t get recycled. According to the United Nations, up to 90% of the world’s electronic waste is illegally traded or dumped each year.

Tell Apple to respect its customers and our planet. Keep the standard headphone jack.

Graham was being generous with his quotations of this petition. I find this petition outright foolish. Not only is this going to have no effect, the proprietor has clearly misunderstood Apple’s intention over the 3.5mm jack being given the boot(evident from the first line).


Look, this is a ridiculous and hysterical petition which blows the situation completely out of proportion. But having said that, the fact that this petition (on a website I’ve never heard of before) has exceeded 200,000 signatures in just a single day just goes to show how big a task Apple has if it does decide to remove the headphone jack with this year’s iPhone(remember, these are just rumors for now).
[…]it will be a more painful transition than the 30-pin to Lightning switch[…]
But even if it doesn’t happen with this year’s iPhone, it will inevitably happen – and when it does, expect an almighty backlash. The real question is how many steps Apple takes to reduce the pain to consumers.

Whether or not it happens with this iPhone iteration is, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant. My speculation follows the idea that the headphone jack is likely to be excluded amidst a new-design iPhone as opposed to an ‘S’ release. The 2015 MacBook, the iPhone 5, the 2012 iMac and the MacBook Air were all redesigns that saw legacy ports(or optical discs) left behind. 2016’s iPhones should partake, historically, in a design change. Regardless, stories claiming Apple is ripping its customers off or that Apple is outright crazy will spread like wildfire.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Tim Cook lashes out at White House over encryption 

John Gruber quoting The Intercept:

Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week, criticizing the White House for a lack of leadership and asking the administration to issue a strong public statement defending the use of unbreakable encryption.

The White House should come out and say “no backdoors,” Cook said.

Gruber himself:

Tim Cook is right, and encryption and privacy experts are all on his side, but where are the other leaders of major U.S. companies? Where is Larry Page? Satya Nadella? Mark Zuckerberg? Jack Dorsey? I hear crickets chirping.

Zuckerberg is preoccupied with pushing Facebook’s Free Basics campaign(previously and those crickets are chirping right here in India.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Apple makes changes to iAds

John Paczkowski writing for BuzzFeed:

Multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans tell BuzzFeed News that Apple is getting out of the advertising-sales business and shifting to a more automated platform.
While iAd itself isn’t going anywhere, Apple’s direct involvement in the selling and creation of iAd units is ending. “It’s just not something we’re good at,” one source told BuzzFeed News. And so Apple is leaving the creation, selling, and management of iAds to the folks who do it best: the publishers.Apple is phasing out its iAd sales force entirely and updating the iAds platform so that publishers can sell through it directly. And publishers who do so will keep 100% of the revenue

To me, the implementation in this piece seems broad and suggestive rather than specific and definitive. However I doubt there is scope for speculation about this report anymore. Here’s how this story plays out in my head: Advertisers see Apple as a ‘control-freak’ middleman; advertisers’ interest in the platform declines; Apple concedes control in favour of both, the advertiser and the publisher albeit with a few quintessential, automated controls in place.

In Uncategorized by Mayur Dhaka

Netflix expands to 130 countries

Samantha Murphy Kelly writing for Mashable:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced Wednesday at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show that the popular streaming service has expanded into 130 more countries as a part of an effort to spark major growth.

Later, Sonam Joshi, for Mashable on India’s Netflix launch:

While the first month is free, viewers can choose from three monthly options henceforth: the Basic at Rs 500 ($7.50), Standard at Rs 650 ($9.70) and Premium at Rs 800 ($12).

In my opinion, India is going to be a huge market for Netflix despite the lack of major content that the country is hungry to consume. But my reasons about a possible Netflix-boom in India isn’t so much to do with more content as it is with demand for the existing catalog itself. Although I have no substantial sources to back my claims, I wouldn’t be surprised to know of an enormous amount of people who would be willing to pay for the content they consume (provided a seamless experience); as opposed to the current system of streaming it off torrents, which, by the way, has been the standard and only way for serious TV-watchers to consume new-releases in a timely manner in India.
And if I were to guess, Netfilx should attract most of its customers to its ‘Basic’ and ‘Premium’ tiers since these plans essentially translate to ‘Individual’ and ‘Family’, respectively.

L.G.’s MacBook

Dan Seifert for The Verge:

Apple’s new MacBook is slim, light, and especially fetching in gold, but its small screen may not be big enough for everyone. If you’re one of those people looking for a larger screen, but still want a slim and light computer, LG may have just what you’re looking for…Oh and it comes in a strikingly familiar gold finish.
…Of course, it’s not quite the same as a bigger MacBook: the Gram’s IPS display is 1080p resolution and it runs Windows 10 instead of OS X.

Working on NSShadowcat’s design has required me to pay close attention to and tweak the rendition of HTML elements. This new laptop by Apple L.G. proved to be a fair(unplanned) opportunity to test the del tag.

Lenovo’s New Thinkpad X1 Tablet

Tom Warren for The Verge:

While the main portion of the ThinkPad X1 just looks like any other Windows tablet, you can attach three modules to the bottom to transform it into a laptop, projector, or a 3D camera. The modules look like battery packs, and the “productivity” one extends battery life by an additional five hours alongside HDMI and USB ports.
Lenovo’s “presenter” module includes a pico projector to project a 60-inch display out of the bottom of the ThinkPad X1.

I always have found the need to walk around the house projecting stuff at 60-inches out of my tablet’s crotch with a $280 projector(‘presenter’ module). If that does happen to drain my battery at an unprecedented rate, I can just swap it out for the ‘productivity ‘ module to get a quick charge and revert back to projecting. How thoughtful.
(Meanwhile, the folks at Samsung are smacking themselves in their faces for giving up removable batteries)

The main problem with Lenovo’s modules here is that they’re incredibly tricky and awkward to attach. You have to peel off a case that covers the ports for the connectors, and attaching the modules involves releasing some latches to ensure they’ll attach securely. It’s all a little too messy for regular use…Lenovo hasn’t perfected the tablet laptop hybrid, but its additional modules are an interesting concept. Unfortunately, those won’t come bundled with the ThinkPad X1 tablet.


Lawsuit against Apple demands $5M in reparations

Mikey Campbell writing for Apple Insider:

The lawsuit goes on to claim that Apple, through “internal testing and/or through other means,” was well aware of iOS 9’s negative impact on iPhone 4s functionality. Despite this knowledge, the company went through with a broad marketing campaign advertising faster performance, enhanced security, longer battery life and other enticing features.

To me, this news would be of no interest and could easily be dismissed off-handedly (as with every other such article) without needing justification if it weren’t for Apple curiously advertising the newer iPhone 6S to customers with older iPhones. To be clear, my indulgence in this piece still doesn’t imply a doubt in my Apple would do such a thing; the counters are simply illustrations of why I think Apple, almost certainly, would not have purposely slowed down a legacy device:

  1. We’re talking about a company that spent resources into developing iOS 8.1.1 for the iPhone 4S and iPad mini to help improve performance for devices that suffered a sluggish experience due to an update.
  2. Just to strengthen the previous point of setting into stone Apple’s practices of supporting legacy devices – iOS 9 reduced the free space required to upgrade by 71% to 1.3GB,  elevating the upgrade experience for 16GB and 8GB devices(variants of the iPhone 4S); not to mention App Thinning and Assest Slicing. Either Apple is nuts (a proposition the Internet has tried to prove since the days of yore) by practicing counter-intuitive strategies or they really do care for and put in their best towards support for legacy devices.
  3. This one strikes me as the most curious and the most effective of the arguments- why were the iPad mini(and iPad 2) not included under the lawsuit? Both these devices are powered off the A5 SoC and 512 MB of RAM as the the iPhone 4S. Any problems caused to the iPhone 4S should be observed, marginally if not equally, by the iPads as well.

Time will tell but I have a strong feeling that this case is either not going to align itself in favour of the plaintiffs or might simply fizzle out…like others before it.

The Beatles are Coming to Apple Music

While my work on NSShadowcat’s design continues, I have been on the fence about which article should be worthy of kicking things into action. Today, surfing through Macstories, I had my answer. My Apple Music playlists are finally going to have all the Beatles tracks I’ve wanted since first trying the service, as we all say our hello-goodbye’s through the New Year.