Tuesday reading wrap-up
Rackspace to shut down slicehost cloud service – Rackspace is citing a shortage of IPv4 addresses as one of the reasons for shutting down the slicehost service which leased virtual servers in their data centers.
Sony apologies for data breach on 77 million users - Personal data for 77 million Sony Playstation customers were stolen by hackers. In an attempt to make amends, Sony offers its customers a 30 day free trial of its PlayStation Plus service which doesn’t seem to be much in the way of compensation.
Google memos show the value of customer location data – It’s not just Apple getting its hand caught in the personal data jar and raising questions of legality, but an internal memo from Google talked about the extreme value of location data. While these companies claim that personal location data is “anonymized”, it would be nice to get some assurances from Google. User privacy clearly wasn’t protected in the case of Apple iPhone devices because the location data is stored inside the phone even when an iPhone user manually shuts down the location service. The Sony PlayStation breach shows the danger of companies storing private data.
Twitter had its “CNN moment” when Sohaib Athar unknowingly live tweeted the attack on Osama Bin Laden. His new found fame brought him over 70,000 followers on Twitter, but that fame had its price as Athar’s personal blog had been hacked to carry malware.
AT&T implements 150 or 250 GB broadband cap – Some people are trying to make a big deal out of this but I’ve already explained the insignificance of these generous caps with regard to the video streaming market. A 250 GB cap even allows Netflix HD to run 5 to 10 hours every day of the month without exceeding the cap. Standard quality Netflix streams can almost run nonstop day and night and still be well within the 150 GB cap on lower end slower DSL plans. This is the same size cap that has been in place with Comcast for years and it is designed to deal with a small percentage of extremely heavy users. Those extreme users are given ample warning to either get their usage under 250 GB or switch to business class broadband service without the caps.
Amazon starts manufacturing tablets? – DigiTimes reports that sources claim Quanta (world’s largest laptop manufacturer) received a large order to build tablets for Amazon. There have been rumors running for some time that Amazon is building a tablet that would likely compete with the Barns & Nobles Color Nook E-Reader/Tablet and to a lesser extent the Apple iPad. Does this spell doom for the Amazon Kindle? Probably not but perhaps the black and white Kindle will become depreciated. The typical page skimming consumer seems to prefer the instant responsiveness and vibrant color of LCD displays while the hardcore reader prefers the reflective E-Reader displays that are easier on the eyes for reading. Since the price of color LCDs are competitive with reflective black and white E-Reader displays (due to a more mature manufacturing stage for LCDs), LCD technology seems to be winning the market at present time.
Defending against the hackers of 1995 – Steve Atkins talks about the challenge of protecting password and solutions like two-factor authentication. I would point out that many so-called two-factor authentication solutions are essentially asking for two passwords which is really not much different from asking for one complex password. These are really not two-factor authentication systems because both passwords (or secret phrase) can be stolen with a simple software or physical key logger. A true two-factor system involves two completely different systems and ideally should include something that would be harder to replicate like a physical token. Game accounts for popular games like World of Warcraft (WoW) accounts had been targeted by hackers so that they could be sold on the black market for $10. The problem was bad enough that Blizzard (the maker of WoW) began offering hardware tokens to its customers which makes theft of the password useless without the physical token.
Google kills tethering apps – I’m not sure why people still have trouble getting their head around the concept of service theft and the need to defend against it. Back in my college days when I worked as a food waiter at a buffet, we sold single-plate buffets at a lower price than the regular buffet because it was limited to one round. That didn’t stop people from trying to feed many people with many rounds and the waiters had to enforce the limits. If a wireless carrier offers a single-device service plan at a lower price, they have every right to enforce the single-device limit. Consumers have every right to “open access” with no device limits when they pay for it, but they’re not entitled to break contractual limits they have agreed to in exchange for lower prices.
Techdirt on EFF’s call for “Open Wi-Fi” – The EFF posted a call to salvage “open Wi-Fi” where they want consumers to open up their broadband service to the entire world’s to use for free regardless of whether they were paying for broadband service. I wonder if the EFF thinks it would be OK for consumers to rebroadcast their cable TV service to their entire neighborhood wirelessly and if the EFF can explain why this shouldn’t be considered theft of service. Richard Bennett had a really nice response that debunked many falsehoods propagated by the EFF. I had debunked the myth that Wi-Fi was a substitute for wireless carriers earlier this year.