Tag Archives: living in tech

  • Getting Rid of Lenovo’s Superfish Vulnerability

    SuperFish

    As you may have heard by this point, Lenovo loaded an adware package called Superfish Visual Discovery onto many of its devices. Annoying? Absolutely: Nobody likes an add-on that inserts sponsored links into your search results. But Superfish became downright dangerous when security researchers realized it could easily double as a handy tool for a man-in-the-middle attack, thanks to its ability to always appear as a “Trusted Party” to websites.

    The revelations have left Lenovo scrambling to repair the damage. “We ordered Superfish preloads to stop and had server connections shut down in January based on user complaints about the experience,” Lenovo wrote in a Feb. 20 statement. “However, we did not know about this potential security vulnerability until yesterday. Now we are focused on fixing it.”

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    The company also insisted that Superfish was never preloaded onto its ThinkPads, tablets, and enterprise hardware; but that means any other devices released between September 2014 and February 2015, including laptops in the company’s popular Yoga line, are apparently vulnerable.

    Those who want to trust Lenovo’s automated tool for deleting Superfish can find it on the company’s website. Otherwise you can take the following steps to manually uninstall it:

    1. In Windows, open “Search.”
    2. Search for “Remove Programs” and select “Add or Remove Programs”
    3. In the subsequent list, find “Superfish Inc. Visual Discovery”
    4. Click “Uninstall”

    After that, users should make sure the SuperFish Certificate is removed from their PCs, as well. Lenovo offers a step-by-step walkthrough for systems running Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Maxthon, and other browsers that rely on the Windows Certificate store.

    For Lenovo users, a handy Web page from LastPass will also verify whether SuperFish impacted your system. Better safe than sorry.

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    Image: LastPass

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  • Amazon’s Echo Enters Digital-Assistant Fight

    Amazon Echo

    Imagine a device in your home that passively listens to everything you say. In past decades, you might have called such a device a “bug,” and it was probably installed without your knowledge.

    But in the brave new world of 2014, this device is called Amazon Echo, and it’s apparently here to help.

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    Echo is a black cylinder that can go pretty much anywhere in a house or apartment, and responds to a variety of queries. You can ask it about the weather, or a trivia question, and receive a reply; you can tell it to add items to a shopping list, and it does so; you can order it to play music, which the built-in speaker will blast at appropriate volume. The device is plugged in; an accompanying app for smartphones will allow users to manage shopping lists, music, alarms, and more through a specialized dashboard.

    “Echo’s brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time,” reads Amazon’s copy on the product. “The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”

    The consumer-tech world has been down this road before, of course. Apple’s Siri digital assistant responds to vocal commands; Google Now will answer spoken queries. The companies building these cloud-based, voice-activated platforms claim the software becomes more sophisticated as users make more queries. But voice has yet to catch on as a default means of input. In late 2013, for example, one poll suggested that 85 percent of those who owned an iOS device had never used Siri.

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    For Amazon fans and customers, the appearance of Echo on the heels of the Fire Phone’s high-profile failure might lead to concerns that the company is spreading itself too thin. Amazon dominates the online-retail market, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) powers many a company’s cloud, but that’s evidently not enough for CEO Jeff Bezos: He seems to want to rule the device market, as well. But while Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets drew users, Amazon had to take a massive write-down on the Fire Phone.

    Echo isn’t a bet-the-company initiative, but if it fails to gain marketplace traction, it could increase the calls for Amazon to focus on what it does best.

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    Image: Amazon

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  • Larry Page Thinks You’ll Only Work Part-Time for Our Robot Overlords

    Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin rarely sit down together for a joint interview, but venture capitalist Vinod Khosla managed to get them both onstage for nearly an hour last week. It was not an occasion for small ideas, with the pair discussing everything from healthcare and search to machine learning and the need for companies to tackle massive problems. (A complete transcript is available, as is video .) In contrast with most other tech companies, which choose to focus on a few core products, Google remains unafraid to spend resources on multiple avenues of research, even if that opens the firm up to accusations that its operations are spread too thin. During the interview, Page suggested that Google knows its limits, and that many of its diverse products eventually end up integrated in some fashion. “I think it sounds stupid if you have this big company, and you can only do five things,” he said. “I think it’s also not very good for the employees.” Click here for Google-related jobs. Page believes that technology has the ability to radically change society’s current structure, as it’s reduced the work and resources necessary to provide housing, security, food and opportunity to vast swaths of the population: “The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true. I do think there’s a problem that we don’t recognize that.” And even if resources were distributed in a way that met the population’s needs, he added, people would still want to work, if only to feel needed and productive. His solution—a bit muddled in the telling—involves somehow recalibrating resources to more evenly serve society, while reducing the number of hours that individual employees work so that everybody can get a job, even a part-time one: “Most people like working, but they’d also like to have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests. So that would be one way to deal with the problem, is if you had a coordinated way to just reduce the workweek. And then, if you add slightly less employment, you can adjust and people will still have jobs.” It’s questionable, of course, whether society would accept the idea of chopping up full-time jobs into itty-bitty ones, just so more people would have something to do, but Page isn’t one for accepting the current paradigm. After all, this is a man who not only helped build the world’s most successful online search engine (and the advertising platform that pays for it), but whose company is now exploring everything from drones and autonomous cars to smartphones that can understand commands spoken in natural language. Sergey Brin, who co-founded Google with Page, is likewise interested in “transformative” movements, whether the self-driving cars that he feels could radically alter how people move from Point A to B, or the high-altitude balloons that could serve the Internet to large segments of the developing world over the next few years. “We try to invest, at least, in the places where we see a good fit to our company,” he told the audience. “But that could be many, many bets, and only a few of them need to pay off.” Brin agrees with page that intelligent machines will gradually replace more and more roles traditionally assigned to humans, and sees that as a good thing. “We do have lots of proof points that one can create intelligent things in the world because—all of us around,” he said. “Therefore, you should presume that someday, we will be able to make machines that can reason, think and do things better than we can.” Some very smart people don’t agree with that rosy assessment of artificial intelligence. In a recent appearance on John Oliver’s HBO show , physicist Stephen Hawking suggested that a sufficiently intelligent robot could prove a “real danger in the not-too-distant future,” enacting plans beyond the will of its human creators. But at least our Robot Overlords might force us to work only 20 hours a week. Related Articles Google Exerting More Control Over Android Ecosystem Google I/O: Android ‘L’ Makes Its Debut Google Glass Tweaks Could Irritate Some Early Adopters Image: Khosla Ventures The post Larry Page Thinks You’ll Only Work Part-Time for Our Robot Overlords appeared first on Dice News .

  • The Top 10 Technology Trends for 2014

    The growth of Infrastructure as a Service will be one of the top technology trends during 2014, according to three major research firms — Gartner , IDC and Forrester Research. IDC expects data centers to turn into specialized cloud infrastructure services that focus on certain workloads as part of the Cloud Services trend, while Gartner envisions a rise in Hybrid Cloud and IaaS brokers as personal clouds merge with external private clouds. Forrester, meanwhile, foresees a generic IaaS for public, private and hybrid clouds. Here are the Top 10 Technology Trends for 2014 as seen by Gartner , IDC and Forrester Research : Common Threads Trends impacting mobile applications and apps are among the major developments predicted by Gartner and Forrester. The latter noted that one in three cellular subscribers has broadband data, which it expects to drive continued growth in those areas during the new year. Gartner, on the other hand, expects the use of mobile applications to decline. The impact of Platforms as a Service is another trend noted by two of the research firms. IDC believes the use of data-optimized cloud platforms will grow as Infrastructure as a Service morphs into PaaS. Forrester foresees growth of PaaS, also, as well as Software as a Service. Gartner’s Internet of Everything and IDC’s Internet of Things both will also be important next year as the network becomes ubiquitous in devices and products beyond high-tech gadgets. And, of course, Big Data will continue to evolve. IDC projected IT spending on Big Data will grow 30 percent year over year, with the focus on data-optimized cloud platforms. Forrester predicts Big Data Platforms will be used for more real-time analytics. The post The Top 10 Technology Trends for 2014 appeared first on Dice News .