Monday, 14 April 2014

Don't buy a new mobile phone until 2015

Right now we are in the middle of a wave of new handsets hitting the local shops and online retailers, HTC, Sony and Samsung leading the pack with their new monsters - all of which are good in their own rights and have pros n cons blah blah blah.

However there is a deeper issue I urge you to take note of. 

The new bunch of CPUs will be with us next year along with 64bit fancy pants architecture, something that could open up a few doors for mobile computing, especially from a cryptographic perspective. Also if the rumors of the leap in power and consumption are to be taken as red (Snapdragon 8xx), then you really should hold off buying a handset you would be stuck with for the next 2 years. Especially if you love to out spec your friends - you might not give a shit either mind. 

If the temptation of having a digit change at the end of your phones name too much to cope then you might kick yourself in the year ending in 15, your old handset in 2015 might be seen as very last gen, which means a lower resell price too. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Heartbleed bug: which passwords should you change?

Wondering who has been effected by the heartbleed bug ? Yes, us too. Well the short list looks something like this :-

Facebook, Tumblr, Google, Pintrest, Yahoo, Dropbox, Bitcasa, Boxee

As others have been patched and discovered we will try and keep you posted, until then go and change your password for the services listed above.

Advice from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to combat the Heartbleed bug:
1. Change your passwords – but only after the affected website operators and ISP, have implemented the patch to fix the bug. Changing your password before the bug is fixed could compromise your new password.
2. Regularly change your passwords. Depending on how sensitive the application/website is, passwords typically ought to be changed monthly or quarterly.
3. Don’t reuse the same passwords on different websites. Try to use a separate password for each website.
4. Use strong passwords, which are at least eight characters long, are not dictionary words or names and include at least one character from the following groups:
- upper case letters
- lower case letters
- numbers
- special characters, such as punctuation and mathematical symbols (although some websites will not accept these).
5. Always make use of all authentication options on offer, e.g. a password and letters from a memorable word, or use of a security token or texting a PIN.

Source :

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Streaming TV in a land of confusion

In the last 7 days Google and Amazon have started to get their freak on with streaming TV systems, while Amazon have already hit the market with their system, Google wont be long behind it. 

Google's last effort was a bit lackluster to say the least, hardware OEMs missed the mark by some distance and there was a definite lack of hunger from Google to expand the program any further. While Chromecast was hitting the market that already saw Roku and countless other TV streaming systems come and go, Boxee Box was one already out there and that was bought by Samsung - wonderful system let down badly by poor support and under-powered.

OUYA too has been stumbling around the market place trying to find its feet like a crazy drunk man dancing to a fiddle in an Irish bar. That is the closest we have to the Amazon Fire TV, assuming we can include XBMC. Apple TV needed to be jail broken to be enjoyable in any fashion but its still out there. Chromecast works with a handful of apps and there are only so many ways we want to watch Netflix and Pandora. The PlayStation and Xbox have many of the features the Amazon Fire TV has and then some too - including Amazons own Amazon Prime Movie service. 

So what gives, we now have a choice between 5-6 boxes / systems in a market that's already crowded with ways to watch movies and TV over the internet, oh wait we already have TV with smart apps too from Sony, LG and Panasonic et all and now we need MORE ways to access TV.

As I have posted before about crowded market places, sometimes its best to stay out until we have a couple of  "winners" unless you have already backed on one horse. This time though these systems are cheap and cheerful, which is great for the consumer.

Market ? What market ?

I do wonder what exactly is it everyone is fighting over, as I said Boxee Box came and left as quick as it did, you then have Apple TV that's been on the market for at least 2; that's been a bit of a disaster. Chromecast is limited just now - Roku has done well in this space but mention it to anyone over the age of 30 and they say "a what ?!" Amazon will use their name (and Gary Bussey) to promote their new box but lets face it, its a Kindle Fire on a big screen with more power, nothing more; throw into the mix that its Android based and could have a good entry into the mod community - again hardly a big market. What Amazon Fire TV will do is grow awareness - something Google will do well to capitalise on; and +Julie Uhrman too. OUYA would do well to ask to be included into an Android TV eco system, just like OUYA want theirs to be more open to more hardware partners, would be easy to do and since they changed their "Free to Play" policy more inline with Googles they could at least shift some more units rather relay on a non profit making XBMC and side loading apps feature to sell some tin. 

Again only Roku have done well to sell a number of units, which I think will be replaced by Amazon Fire TV's pretty quickly because of its versatility and backed by many vendors over and above Roku's list of supported players. 

Branding Android TV

Google would be wise to re-brand its TV service and create something with far more finesse than before and of course support for games and a controller (any controller), the ability to use the games you have already paid for too, a huge incentive. I think Google with a 'you first' mentality to the streaming TV market is a good strategy but they need to get it right first go, or in this case second go. Google will be all too aware so many have fallen at the first hurdle and I suspect the Amazon Live TV box will too but awareness sells boxes. 

Right now I cant seem to think why one box would outsell another by a large chunk as they all have pros and cons and they will be left to the consumer which will have the best abilities for the common man.

Streaming also has another big problem, and that's the ISPs themselves. 

Many throttle or packet shape after abusing certain ports after whats been seen as "abuse" by ISPs, certainly UK ISPs have been guilty of this in the past - those being Virgin, Sky, Talk Talk, all of which have some very woolly wording in their FUA (Fair Usage Agreements) and many others too so I'm not just singling those ISPs out. If you are going to cut the cable (dash the dish) then making sure you are with a ISP that doesn't practice those shady activities; you need to be very very aware of those FUAs so make sure you ask direct questions. I'm sure packet shaping occurs in the US too. Many ISPs demanded the BBC help them expand their networks after the iPlayer hit incredible usage in its first 2 years and Netflix were up in arms after ISPs turned on them too

So a mass switch over to network based TV will be something rebuffed by ISPs in the not so distant future assuming they tag those ports as an additional cost to the end user for streaming only.

Could streaming TV systems punch themselves out ? In the short term absolutely. Until we see a decent "play"form (my new word for home TV platforms) emerge, the ISPs will be unwilling to play ball and could strangle the whole idea in a heartbeat. 

Until then - stay out of the fight for at least another year.

Sneak usage

These boxes could come in handy for those hotel trips, assuming you can get access to the Hotels TV HDMI port and free wifi or even tether from your phone - goodbye hotel PPV bills and rubbish Russian / German TV.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Orzly® - Premium Tempered Glass 0.3mm Protective Screen Protector For SONY XPERIA Z1 MINI / XPERIA ZI COMPACT

After having the Z1 Compact as my new adopted full time handset, I wanted to get a Temptered Glass screen for it. 

So with limited options I bought the Orzly effort for £9.99 from Amazon - this time I wont give you the link as this is a cautionary tale. 

Having adopted the regular screen install process of having a steamy bathroom for all my other screens I used the same technique for the Orzly. If you don't know what the procedure is a quick re-cap; leave a hot bath or shower running with no extractor fan on if you have one for 15 mins or before the bath is full obviously, take all your clothes off and close the door.

Using masking tape line up your screen protector and apply using a left to right technique or if its a glass screen use a small bit of tape as a loose hinge and apply from a top down motion.

Get dressed and rejoice. 

So with that done and dusted I noticed there was a mark on the screen in the bottom left like a weird chip under the screen - no idea how that got there so I had to lift the screen - when doing so the Orzly lifted the film that Sony installed already. What the hell ! The glue managed to pull off the film, wow, that's a strong bit of glue, so now the Orzly was completely useless and I was left with a handset with a warranty that's invalid from Sony. Brilliant work Orzly, not to mention no Sony logo on the handset.

My opinion here;  Avoid the Orzly Tempered Glass Screen - even for £9.99 its a terrible purchase.