Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facebook pays $40.000 in 3 weeks for bug-reports

Since Facebook launched it's program that pays hackers to report errors and security bugs, there has been a lot of reports during the 3 weeks the program has been running.
   Developers from 16 different countries has contributed their work to the social media and has paid a single hacker $7000 for a total of 6 contributions.

Facebook pays out rewards ranging from $500 to $5000, estimated by the severity of the bug, and up until now there has been some confusion where rumors had said that the maximum payout was $500. There has only been paid a single reward of $5000 but a lot of the $500 payouts, Facebook has announced that even though they are very satisfied with the program there still are many people who contribute useless reports just to get publicity.

This type of initiative is not uncommon for big IT corporations, companies like Microsoft, Mozilla and Google each has their similar program, where Google has paid out more than $300,000 during the lifespan of their program and Microsoft who has promised $250,000 for those who can develop security tools that will protect Windows users against attacks that exploit software.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Danish ISPs mislead and cheat their customers

It has been known for quite some time that the majority of Danish ISPs (Internet Service Provider) promise more bandwidth than they deliver, and of course that irritates people a lot. Moreover the ISPs are acting like brutes against their customers when the poor people try to understand why they don't get the bandwidth as promised and why suddenly huge bills arrive in their mail which seemingly can be canceled in less than 2 minutes with a single phone call. Yes, this is a story of a close friend of mine who has been toyed with by the big bad phone company "3", their website is located here.

My friend moved into a new apartment almost half a year ago, and as many other people he needed to buy some internet access. He got a 3G modem from the company "3" and a subscription for 20 mbit/s for 250 DKK a month (roughly $50 USD).
   Then 2 months ago he receives a bill saying he has to pay 1200 DKK ($240) for downloading more than the 20GB his connection is limited to, except that when he looked through his logs he could see that he had only downloaded 6.5GB of data and when he called to ask about the bill, the woman who was just in customer service said: "Oh right, that must just be a mistake." and voided the invoice immediately. There was no need to talk to a "higher ranking" employee and when he asked how this mistake could have happened she said she didn't know and sadly there was no one around to tell him, he could just call again another time.

Let's take this one first. My questions are now:
  • How can there mistakenly be sent an invoice for overuse when their own software shows that there hasn't been downloaded more than allowed?
  • How is it that there isn't any confusion or surprise when a person calls about a bill he shouldn't have received? Are they used to such phone calls? Do they send unsolicited bills often?
  • Why can't she explain to him what has gone wrong?
  • If he hadn't reacted on the bill and just paid it (as some people just might have) would they have made any effort to cancel the payment or make sure he would be refunded?
This of course made him very angry, but I could just tell him that this wasn't unusual, there are many more such stories of people who have received huge bills they shouldn't have got in the first place. I asked him what connection he had, since I know for a fact that the 3G network in Copenhagen (Danish capital) can't deliver more than 2 mbit/s, and he told me he had this 20 mbit/s subscription. I went online and found 3's speed test and checked his download speed. No surprise: 2.12 mbit/s. He tested it a couple of times during the week but didn't get a higher result.

Feeling mislead and angry he went down to the store where he bought his modem and subscription and asked how come he is paying for a 20 mbit connection but only gets 2. The salesman answers that when buying a 20 mbit subscription one can expect speeds between 2 to 32 mbit/s, my friend politely says that he isn't paying for a connection which range is predominantly slower than what was promised when he bought it. So then he asks for the 2 mbit subscription that costs 50 DKK ($10) a month. The salesman tells him that then my friend won't have the possibility of the 20 mbit as his current subscription "theoretically" can achieve and my friend says he don't want to pay 5 times the price for something he don't think he'll ever get and insists that he wants his subscription changed immediately. After some discussing back and forth, the salesman finally gives up and tells him: "I'm sorry, but it is a breach of my contract if I downgrade your subscription."

I don't feel like I have to say anything, but I will just list what I get from all of this.
  1. They intentionally sell people connections that are much lower than what is promised.
  2. They are used to get complaints about the connection and there are many such stories if you do a simple google search (Danish).
  3. And a question: in what other business is it legal to promise a product or service for a fee and then not deliver what has been agreed? That is like going to the store paying for a 500-page-book and then receive the first two chapters? Isn't this called fraud?
As a last comment I just wan't to warn anyone who has considered buying any service with them since they obviously just try to take your money from you and they are being quite blunt about it.

That was all for now. See you later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Samsung strikes back!

The patent war between Apple and Samsung rages on!

Earlier this year Apple successfully blocked all sales of the Galaxy Tab by suing Samsung, claiming that their Tab was a direct copy of their iPad. The block was eventually revoked because Apple had included false documentation, read this. Apple was also discredited by their patent registration certificate because the design specification was a generic description of almost any tablet computer.

Now Samsung, which has stated that the specification of the iPad was too generic, claims that Apple stole the iPad design from he movie "2001: A Space Odyssey". It is a science fiction movie from 1968 and in their accusation Samsung has provided a picture of two engineers eating breakfast with the tablet besides them.

They presented this evidence to a city court and I quote:
Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a still image taken from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey." In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. The clip can be downloaded online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo. As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table's surface), and a thin form factor.
You can watch the video here.
Additional iPad look-alike here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

µTorrent reaches a 100 million active users

Torrents are no doubt the most common way of sharing files, and has been that for quite some time now. But when it comes to torrent clients, µTorrent is undoubtedly the best client, or that's what it seemingly looks like.

Since µTorrent was released 6 years ago, it has gone through major changes. It went from being an all technical application for the it-skilled to being the most user-friendly torrent client around. And apparently the public thinks so to. Now µTorrent currently has 100 million active users a month which is   4 times more than for just 3 years ago and also the same amount of users as Twitter has.

That is quite the accomplishment, and even though the people behind µTorrent are overly excited, they are already taking a look at their next goal. Analysis shows that many of the users that download the software don't become regular users and that they want to change.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Microsoft giving away free phones!

Now that HP had announced they would stop developing WebOS, their shot at a mobile operating system, the app developers who have had their app published to the store can now contact Microsoft and get their very own, very free Windows Phone.

That is a very special offer and many developers were quick to claim their piece of the cake. Microsoft got almost 600 requests in the first 24 hours after releasing the message on twitter.

The reason for WebOS developers can get free phones is that WP 7 (Windows Phone) doesn't have a lot of apps and stuff as the android market and appstore has, and if Microsoft is to have any chance at all for getting into the smartphone market they need to appeal to the consumers with a lot of functionality and techie-stuff, they think. Therefore they have made this little offer to get the old WebOS developers to make apps for WP 7...

I believe it's the number of users that attract developers, but it's not the number of apps that attracts users, it is the product itself, in this case the phone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Apple on the offensive

Since Apple successfully banned all of Samsung's Galaxy Tab, by claiming it was a breach of their patented design of the iPad, their has been a lot of discussion about how the EU's laws about design-copyright.

This has all been a huge matter in Europe and I think it's about time to take a look at how Apple has been presenting their accusations and the validity of the information they have come up with.

First of all there is a law in EU that covers design-copyright which is used to protect against copying the looks of a product such as chairs, lamps, furniture and such. Then when Apple they submitted their design specification, you might expect them to send in a description of the iPad.
   Instead they just submitted a piece of paper with a drawing that could describe most tablets ever made and probably a lot more in the future. The specification is barely more than a square with screen and rounded corners. See this.

Then they misled the German court by manipulating evidence. In the about 70-pages-long document there is an image where the Galaxy Tab is compared to the iPad. And it's commonly known that the iPad has a screen dimension of 4:3 and the Tab 16:10, but in the document they have been presented to be exactly the same size, see this. This should be considered illegal and Apple should lose the case. But as a big and powerful corporation the ban was just reduced to just cover Germany.

Now Apple decided to just try again and do it in the Netherlands and now they require a ban of all the Galaxy products including the phones in all of Europe.

Should a company like Apple be allowed to manipulate and cheat respected courts? Or should they be reviewed for there behavior and another review for monopoly?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

McAfee's iPhone App

A new app for iPhone has emerged from McAfee, with functions such as remote wipe and locking it through their website.

This sounds all good and clingy but the two functions and more yet which the App ships with, are already built-in within the iPhone software and the service iCloud. Moreover the built-in functions have been available for over a year, so what was McAfee thinking when they put time and money into developing an app which there is no need for but costs a little more than 20$?

Apparently McAfee has some trouble developing good and useful security software, since it not only the iPhone software that is useless, but also their desktop anti-virus only detects about half of all infections on your computer. This clearly shows that McAfee isn't a leading security-software-developing company but just another Computer related firm with a useless product and too high prices... But isn't that just the standard nowadays?