Privacy in technology

Even as we close in on 2 years of Windows 10, we still see so-called “journalists” [or bloggers] who continue to fan the flames when it comes to privacy/telemetry settings in Windows. zdnet.com had one this week.

Microsoft has tweaked the way the settings are over the 2 upgrades in Windows 10 plus they tweaked it again earlier this year [if you bought a new laptop and it had the update].

Even with the tweaking, there has been many third-party tools [such as Safer Networking] that can be used to disable some of this – aside from what Microsoft provides. Some inventive people even wrote scripts to remove some of it.

Note: Some tweaks can actually cause problems as well if you modify them.

And yet, these so-called “journalists” continue to write what is considered mostly a dead issue.

If you are still whining about this privacy/telemetry issue, then I’m not sure if you belong in IT [if you are in that field]. Whining does nothing.

Everything you touch has some privacy/telemetry issues. Your ISP tracks your Internet access. Your carrier tracks your cell usage. If you use a search engine, it’s tracked. You are using an operating system? No matter which one, they are all tracking you.

Question is that do you know how much tracking Google, Apple or others are doing?

Remember when Siri from Apple first came out? Apple stored what you asked [voice recording] plus all your metadata [Apple ID, date, time, IP, etc.] for at least 6 months. After 6 months, they still kept your voice sample [and probably a subset of the metadata] for another 2 years. Apple claimed it was because they needed sample voices to improve Siri’s understanding. You are still being tracked with Siri.

When you visit a web site [that you are registered on], ever get an Email following a visit asking you if you are still interest in what you were looking at or something similar?  Staples and Best Buy are among the numerous sites that do that.

So the first thing you do when buying something with an OS is to go into the setting thoroughly – every section – and disabled or modify what you don’t want. You then research to see what else can be disabled or modified.

The same goes for web sites that you visit. Go in and turn off or modify what you don’t need.

The other alternative is to dump anything that connects yourself to the internet, the Cloud, etc. [Not even a dumb cell phone.]

 

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Disabling Siri on an iPhone lockscreen

There has been a couple of recent stories where someone can access an iPhone without having your password. While the probability could be unlikely, it may be a good idea to disable the option of using Siri with a locked screen.

You can disable Siri on your iPhone’s lockscreen by going to Settings, choosing Touch ID & Passcode, and selecting Disable Siri on the Lockscreen.

While even less likely on an iPad, it still maybe a good idea.

 

More software update issues for Apple

According to users, the most recent iOS update, iOS 9.3.2, is reportedly causing problems for some iPads making them unstable. The update addressed a number of issues such as distortion problem with Bluetooth calls on iPhone SE and a dictionary failure problem. No word yet on a fix by Apple.

Not to be outdone, various Apple forum members have been posting about how MacBook Pro systems will freeze following the 10.11.4 update to El Capitan. Reverting back to 10.11.3 will temporarily solve the issue. No word yet on a fix by Apple.

I don’t remember hearing these problems when Steve Jobs was the president/dictator of the company…..

 

Apple revenue drops, Cook is still in charge

For the first time in 13 years, Apple’s reported falling revenue in the last three months to $50.6 billion – a decline of 13%. In the first quarter of 2015, Apple announced record revenue from the iPhone. The iPhone pulls in about 66 per cent of all Apple’s revenue with the remainder from Macs and the App Store.

Compare to last year where apple made $53 billion on goods and services. This was an all time high. Compare that to 1996bwhen Apple lost in excess of $1.5 billion and would eventually get a “loan” from Microsoft to hold off in bankruptcy. It is also Apple’s first revenue decline since 2003 [fell 1%].

As 2015 closed, Apple claimed record growth in China for Q4 thanks to new iPhones. 40 per cent growth in iPhone sales and 71% overall. But it turned into an 11 per cent year-one-year decline in the second quarter in China.

Research company Gartner earlier this month reported the era of double-digit market share growth for smart phones is done as it suggested global 2016 growth at 7% as consumers are also starting to hold onto their older phones for longer.

Apple already has stiff competition from cheaper phone providers in China [where Apple never was big] as well as Samsung and others around the world.

Apple is planning a $2 billion inventory reduction to choke off existing supply of iPhones already out there in order to regenerate demand.

Further problems is that under Steve Jobs, Apple innovated. They were the first with a true smartphone and tablets and were a leader for music players. Under current CEO Tim Cook, they seem to be copying everyone else for features.

In the last few years Apple has had many issues which have come up but rarely existed under Jobs. Among them:

  • “AntennaGate” – where holding your smartphone a specific way, reception was bad.
  • Numerous issues when upgrading OS X. For example when El Capitan came out, major upgrade issues. Took 2 updates to correct the problems.
  • An increasing amount of security issues [where odd things allow access to their iGadgets].

Sales of the latest low-end iPhone 6se hasn’t sold well. The latest iPad isn’t selling because older iPads are still functioning [unlike a smartphone, there is no contract for an iPad – so you don’t have to change it every two years]. Apple doesn’t even want to publically say how well the Watch has sold. Not a good sign.

Remember the MacDefender malware in around 2011? When it first came out, Apple sort of denied it even though about 25% of new support forum comments were related to it. After two weeks they acknowledged the issue and said to go buy an ant-virus software [which was unheard of before] from the AppStore [so Apple gets 30% of what you buy – nice – profiting from others’ misery]. Then only 2 weeks later was an update released to combat the issue.

Selling a base model iGadget reduces revenue as the consumer would most likely buy the full version – particularly if a Fanboi or Fangurl. Jobs never wanted to sell an iPad Mini for that reason [among others].

Apple continues to claim the end of the PC era but continues to sell them. Hypocrites.

Time to dump Cook. Surprised the shareholders haven’t done so by now.

Apple kills QuickTime for Windows support

If you have Apple’s iTunes for Windows, it generally also installs QuickTime for Windows which is a multimedia player from Apple.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) US-CERT is urging Windows users to uninstall Apple’s QuickTime video player because Apple will cease supporting the product. The alert comes after the discovery of two critical flaws in QuickTime that could be exploited to allow arbitrary code execution.

FBI cracks terrorist’s cell without Apple’s help

As you may have read, the FBI used a security company called Cellebrite [if the story is true] to break into the iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorist. So an anticipated showdown between Apple and the FBI have been put on hold.

If you recall, it had FBI claiming that they needed to get into the iPhone to see if there was any evidence [but they don’t know if there was any] and Apple claiming a privacy issue – not for the dead terrorist but in future battles like this.

Because of these actions, Magistrate Sheri Pym won’t be ruling on whether a centuries-old law, known as the All Writs Act, provided legal authority for compelling Apple’s assistance.

Some in the tech industry believe at one point the FBI will go after a smaller company that doesn’t have the legal army and money that Apple has, get a favorable ruling and then go after Apple or others.

If the case would of moved forward, Apple would have to rewrite its iPhone software that would make all iPhones less secure and open the door to more demands from government authorities, both in the United States and other countries [especially some that don’t have the proper laws and “checks” that the US has].

Now there is talk that Apple, Google, Microsoft and others will make it even more difficult to hack into a smart phone the way Cellebrite did.

One does wonder regarding some smartphone data as most data is either synced with the cloud or also stored on the manufacturer’s or carrier’s servers [who and when called, search information, etc.].

The US [and other countries] also need to modernize some of the laws such as the All Writs Act which was out long before any modern technology was available.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have appealed a court ruling that said Apple doesn’t have to help them extract data from another iPhone in a New York drug case. In at least a dozen pending cases, the government has cited the same All Writs Act as legal authority to compel Apple’s co-operation.

Wiping an iGadget’s contents for disposing

When it’s time to get rid of your iGadget [what I call any of the gadgets from Apple – iPhone, iPad, etc. that use iOS], you must wipe the data off your iGadget before you dispose of it [which will end up in some Chinese landfill but hopefully actually recycled instead] or giving it to someone to use.

The following instructs will wipe your data. Note that as iOS changes, these instructions may not be exactly the same.

HUGE WARNING: This involves wiping out the data on your iGadget. You won’t be able to get the data back [or at least not so easily]. So make sure you have a copy of what you need.

  1. Perform a full backup of your iGadget either to a computer or through the This will allow you to restore your data if you are migrating to a newer iGadget.
  2. On the iGadget, tap Settings | iCloud. Scroll down and tap Sign Out.
  3. You will be required to confirm, so tap Sign Out again. Note that this will remove iCloud access completely and all the data associated with that account on the current iGadget. This includes disabling Turn off my iPhone service, which is also known as Activation Lock.
  4. Go to Settings | General, and tap Reset.
  5. At the Reset screen, tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  6. If a passcode is configured [hopefully it is], you’ll be required to enter your passcode.
    Tap Erase iPhone [or equivalent] when prompted.
  7. The iGadget will reboot and display the Apple logo with a progress bar below it indicating how far the wiping has been completed.
Note: Make sure the iGadget is kept on to make sure the wiping is completed correctly. If needed, plug it in to keep charged.