February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

First, let me admit that I don’t have a lot of experience with presentation pointers. The few presentations that I’ve done over the course of my career did not involve PowerPoint slides — or any other type of slideshow, for that matter. I’ve been lucky enough (so far) to be able to avoid them.

However, I have a lot of experience viewing slideshow presentations, and have watched presenters wrestle with the various types of slideshow embarrassment. Like when the staffer in charge of the slideshow gets clumsy. (“Let’s go back to — no, not that slide, the one before that — no, I guess it’s the one before — yes, that’s it…”) There’s also the oops-I-went-too-far-hold-on-while-I-find-the-back-button awkwardness. And then there’s shaky laser pointer syndrome.

Logitech has come out with a new presentation device that the company claims can make all the difference for a presenter. The Logitech Spotlight presentation remote is a small, sleek device that allows you to not only move your slideshow forward and back, but to spotlight (hence the name), magnify or circle areas of the screen; you can also use it as a cursor to click onscreen links.

The Spotlight is small (0.48 x 1.10 x 1.59 in.) and lightweight (1.7 oz.); its rounded form fits nicely into the palm of your hand. At one end is a USB dongle which pulls out of the device, revealing (within the inch-deep recess) a micro-USB port for charging the unit. (According to Logitech, one charge should last up to three months.) The dongle connects to your computer and communicates with the Spotlight via radio signal; you can also connect without the dongle using Bluetooth.

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

Apple sold a record 78.29 million iPhones over the 1Q 17 quarter. That’s a lot of iPhones. So many that quite a few people have said that they just can’t get their heads around it.

What’s Hot on ZDnet

Let’s break it down.

Must read: Five things you shouldn’t buy from Apple

That means that for the 98 days that spanned the quarter Apple sold 798,877 iPhones a day, or 33,286 every hour, or 554 every minute.

That works out at more than nine iPhones sold a second, for every second during that 98-day period.

And remember that each of those iPhones sold for an average of $695.

Assuming that each boxed iPhone weighs approximately 500g, give or take, that’s over 39,000 metric tons of iPhones, which is the equivalent of about 630 Abrams M1A2 battle tanks.

That’s a lot of product to shift in little over three months. And remember, the components for these have to be shipped to the assembly plants, assembled, and then shipped out around the world.

iPhones are shipped out of the assembly factories by FedEx using Boeing 777 freighters, each of which can carry 100 metric tons. Doing the math that means it takes almost 400 flights over that three-month period to shift the iPhones.

And remember we’re just talking about a single product line, and it doesn’t include iPads or MacBooks or iMacs or anything else that Apple sells.

And each iPhone ships with EarPods ,a regional charger, a Lighting cable, and a booklet which, well, I’m not sure what’s in the booklet because I don’t think I’ve ever read it (who has time for that, am I right?).

Think 78 million is a lot? Consider that since its release Apple has manufactured, shipped, and sold over a billion iPhones. The scale of the supply chain and distribution network, not to mention the assembly, testing and quality control, for so many handsets is truly mind-boggling.

See also:

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

Is the Kodi media player a piracy app?

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and nowhere is that more clear than in the controversy over the open source Kodi media player. Kodi has been characterized as a “piracy app” by some in the media, but the Kodi developers beg to differ with them.

Justin Pot reports on Kodi and piracy for How To Geek:

There’s a piracy app that lets users find any TV show, movie, or song you can imagine. Streams and downloads are both easy to find, and the software is already used by hundreds of millions of people.

The name of this dastardly program? Google Chrome.

That’s a crazy thing to report, right? Sure, it’s strictly true that you can use Chrome to pirate movies and TV shows: just search for any movie’s name followed by the words “streaming,” “torrent,” or “download.” You’ll find a pirated option on the front page basically every time. But if a mainstream media outlet called Chrome a piracy tool, you’d ridicule them for it, and deservedly so.

But that’s pretty much how Kodi, the open source media player, is being reported on lately, particularly in the UK. The BBC called Kodi a piracy epidemic in a headline. The Mirror pointed out that Kodi offers a “way to find illegal streams of movies and sports presented with a friendly Netflix-style user interface.” The Birmingham Mail helpfully informed readers that downloading Kodi will result in you getting a scary letter.

Reading these headlines, you’d think Kodi is the second coming of Popcorn Time. It’s not. Kodi is merely a (very good) media player and organizer. If Kodi is a piracy app, so is Google Chrome (and, for that matter, QuickTime or VLC).

More at How To Geek

How To Geek readers shared their thoughts about Kodi and piracy:

Tom Wilson: “Thanks for the PSA. It’s hard to watch legitimate tools ft trashed by the actions of a few idiots, just like it’s hard to watch illegitimate tools (like Popcorn Time) be treated as a good thing.

I’ve used Kodi, and while it didn’t really suit my purposes, I also don’t want to see the team’s hard work be torn down by a few freeloaders.”

Cambo: “You hear it all over the place… “I bought a Kodi box and now I don’t have to pay for TV”.

It’s sad, and unfortunately may result in Kodi being shut down- either voluntarily by the Dev’s, or indirectly by bad publicity.

They’re going to have to change the add-on system such that only approved ‘add-ons’ are allowed. The Kodi team would then vet the legitimacy of them.

Google is a bit different in that they have unlimited resources for lawyers. Kodi- basically nothing but open-source licensing.”

Chris S: “WRONG!! It is illegal to rip Blu-Rays, DVDs and CD’s! Maybe not wherever you live but here in the UK it’s highly illegal. Your article makes it sound like the norm for anyone to do, it isn’t!”

Tom Wilson: “The UK isn’t the world. In the US, where HTG is based, it’s not a criminal action to store a DVD or BD disc on your hard drive, although you can be sued for it if the person whose movies you are copying finds out and wants to make a case of it. (This is obviously highly unlikely.) Format-shifting content you’ve paid for is not piracy, in that no one is losing any income over it.

On the other hand, downloading shows that you should be paying for (either by buying them or subscribing to cable) clearly is piracy, and distributing content over the Internet is a criminal action. That’s obviously the action that people are Justin is taking issue with and the kind of thing Kodi is wrongly being associated with.”

Chris S: “I did say “Maybe not wherever you live but here in the UK it’s highly illegal”. So no not all countries respect the rights of artists/film companies but does that make it acceptable? My criticism of this article is that it suggests the practice is legal, period! But HowToGeek is available to anyone anywhere with an internet connection, this article just demonstrates bad journalism in my opinion and should be amended as such to avoid any misinterpretations by other readers not based in the US.

I’m no saint, I have seen one or two doggy pirate movies and where do you think they originated from? The USA of course! What might be legal (still a grey area) in your country will be abused by the rest of the world and so the copyright holder loses out. Fair Use? My ass! I wonder how many US citizens loan legally purchased discs to friends for copying? Many I should imagine.

It might interest you to know that the UK also passed a similar law allowing format shifting/copying of legally bought CD’s just a few years ago but that was later quashed by a High Court Ruling as being unfair and rightly so.”

Jared Theurer: “DISCLAIMER: I am from the US and so my comments do not extend to international circumstances.

You all have a much more positive outlook on viewer/consumer rights than I do when it comes to format shifting and ripping of discs. There are current examples of companies and individuals in the news that have gotten into legal trouble because they have ripped discs to their servers in ways that the content creators did not agree to.

Personal disc copies of movies are more complicated that it would appear. When you buy a movie on a disc, for example, you are not buying the rights to the movie itself as most people think. You don’t, “own the movie” as we often hear. What you buy is a LIMITED LICENSE to view that movie under the terms of the license, “This content is for home viewing audiences and has been formatted to fit your screen.” The fine print will explain the terms of the license in greater detail. Not all movie production companies are the same and the terms of the license will probably be different for each. One company may allow format shifting (or provide a digital copy on the disc), and others are strictly against any sort of ripping or “altering” of content in any way.

I don’t know all the rules and I don’t read all the fine print when I buy a limited license via DVD or Blu-ray to view a movie in my home. However, I know that the content creators have a right to tell you how can view/possess their content and they do. Read the fine print if you must!

A few months ago, an HTG article suggested that we all could get access to every NFL games by tricking the NFL servers into thinking we are international fans using a VPN. At the time I brought up the legality and morality of the issue. Now, using a VPN is completely legal. But is it legal to trick (lie) to a company in order to benefit from a product that wasn’t intended for you? I think the same questions and thinking have to go into all type of media in today’s world. What might be legal isn’t necessarily morally right, and what is thought to be morally right (i.e. buying a disc and making a digital copy for yourself) may not be legal. We all may have differing opinions on piracy, what it is and what it isn’t. I’ve tried to stay out of that game. It is very messy and standard rules of logic often don’t apply. All I can say about piracy is, get the best information you can about it and then make conscience, personal decisions to avoid it.”

Tom Wilson: “I even talked to a guy in line at Fry’s today who laughed about his Kodi box.I was just joking with him about how rabbit ears are the new thing, and all these antennas are being advertised as a way to get “Free TV.” I turned to him and said, “do you remember when that was the only way to get TV, and we’d have killed to be allowed to pay for cable?”

”I’ve got a Kodi box, and I’ll keep using it until they come and arrest me,” he said. Basically, he reinforced the point that Justin made in the article. Kodi is becoming synonymous with piracy and cheating the system, not with being the simple Media Center that it was meant to be.

There are plenty of people out there lobbying to make non-piratical format-shifting legal; I’m hoping they succeed, because consumer’s rights is a bit of a hot button for me, too. Regardless of what the MPAA has to say, format-shifting is not piracy. Labeling it as such is just plain wrong, and that’s really my whole point, here.”

More at How To Geek

The How to Geek article about Kodi also spawned a thread in the Linux subreddit, and the folks there did not pull any punches while sharing their thoughts:

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

During his campaign, U.S. President Donald Trump called the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules a “top-down power grab,” leading many observers to expect a quick repeal.

Trump’s presidency is still in its infancy and it’s unclear what his administration will do about the hot-button issue.

It’s difficult to determine what direction the unpredictable Trump administration will take, said Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now, a digital rights group.

“The world is a very complicated place right now,” he said. “I don’t think we can get too far out front and predict the future.”

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

Mobile network operators have grumbled that plans to abolish roaming fees across the European Union were unworkable because the wholesale prices for minutes and megabytes that operators charge one another differ from one country to the next.

On Tuesday night, Members of the European Parliament agreed a solution: Regulate wholesale prices too.

For years, the European Commission has been ratcheting down the surcharge that subscribers pay for mobile services consumed outside their home country — so-called roaming fees.

From this June it planned to abolish roaming fees altogether, forcing EU operators to offer voice, text and data services for the same price, whichever EU country their subscriber happened to be traveling in.

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

Mobile security firm Zimperium has launched an exploit acquisition program that aims to bring undisclosed attack code for already patched vulnerabilities out in the open.

Paying for old exploits might seem like a waste of money, but there are technical and business arguments to justify such an acquisition system and they ultimately have to do with the difference between exploits and vulnerabilities.

A vulnerability is a software defect with potential security implications, while an exploit is the actual code that takes advantage of that bug to achieve a specific malicious goal, often by bypassing other security barriers along the way.

In practice, many vulnerabilities that get reported to vendors are not accompanied by working exploits. Showing that a programming error can lead to memory corruption is typically enough for the vendor to understand its potential implications — for example, arbitrary code execution.

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

The latest network hardware from Cisco Systems gives new meaning to the words “light switch.”

The Catalyst Digital Building Series Switch is an Ethernet switch designed to link different kinds of building infrastructure over a network. It will be available worldwide in the second quarter. It uses Cisco’s enhanced version of PoE (Power over Ethernet) to run things like lights and cameras while collecting data about those devices over the same standard cable.

The switch embodies the merger of IT and OT (operational technology), one of the big enterprise trends that the internet of things is driving. The line is blurring between information systems like servers and building systems like lighting, heating, and physical security. The new technology could make buildings run better. It might also help to turn IT folks and facilities experts into a bit of both.

Cisco’s new switches can power all the lights in a building by themselves. Instead of being connected to the traditional AC power grid that feeds wall sockets, the lights will run off Ethernet cables from ports in the switch.

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

The SURFboard SB6190 is the first Gigabit+ cable modem available in retail, and is compatible with major US Cable Internet Providers like Xfinity by Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Brighthouse and many others, so you can ditch their cable modem (along with their rental fee) and regain control. It harnesses the power of DOCSIS 3.0 technology to bond up to thirty two downstream channels and eight upstream channels–providing you advanced multimedia services with data rates up to 1.4 Gbps download and 131 Mbps upload depending on your Cable Internet provider service. That makes streaming HD Video, gaming, shopping, downloading, working, high-quality voice and video conferencing, and peer-to-peer networking applications far more realistic, faster, and efficient than ever before. It averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon from over 4,100 people (read reviews). Its typical list price of $149.99 has been reduced 25% to $111.99. See it now on Amazon.

This story, “25% off ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

I like the Start app, not only because it’s an easy-to-use alarm, timer, and stopwatch app, but also because it can be used to trigger certain apps (which include Facebook, Fantastical, Instagram, Music, Pandora, Path, Reeder, Rdio, Safari, Sparrow, Spotify, and Tweetbot) when the timer reaches zero.

February 1, 2017 brianradio2016

Windows usage numbers for January are in, and they aren’t surprising.

Depending on whether you trust StatCounter’s or NetMarketshare’s numbers, Windows 10 usage in January was up 0.6 or 0.9 percentage points, respectively, compared to December. At the same time, Windows 7 usage decreased by 0.2 (see screenshot) or 1.1 percentage points, respectively.

usage share statcounter 2017 01InfoWorld

Of course, those numbers should be taken with several heaping teaspoons of salt. As I explained a couple of months ago, there are major faults in the companies’ measurement methods. The best that can be said is that their numbers are more-or-less comparable when taken month to month.

The unexplained six-month bump in StatCounter’s “Unknown” operating system count seems to have leveled off again.