'Chromecast - recycle it after a long fulfilling life of kitten videos'
Ballmer: 'We built a few more devices than we could sell...'
QuotW This was the week when the reviews, teardowns, commentaries and analyses of Google's 35-buck media-streaming HDMI dongle Chromecast came flooding in. Though there were those who were blown away, those who loved its pure simplicity and those who reckoned that the Chocolate Factory's dominance of TV was just around the corner, there were also those who were somewhat less impressed. The tool vendors and teardown artists at iFixit said:
The Chromecast is essentially a luxury item with a limited use. Best hope for this little guy: after a long, fulfilling life of streaming kitten videos, the Chromecast is recycled responsibly.
In the ongoing Edward Snowden saga, the NSA whistleblower who blew the lid off the spook agency's web'n'phone snooping PRISM project has finally found a home - in Russia. Snowden has been granted a happy year of living and working in the country on a temporary visa, though it's unclear as yet if he bowed to President Vladimir Putin's condition that he stop harming the US if he wanted to stay. Wikileaks, which has been helping the guy out, tweeted:
Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year and has now left Moscow airport under the care of WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison.
Meanwhile, Russia's government bodyguard service (aka Federalnaya Sluzhba Okhrany, Федеральная служба охраны or FSO in English, not to be confused with the FSB domestic spooks/feds) has come up with an ingenious plan to stop the NSA or anyone else from rifling through its private affairs. The agency apparently plans to use typewriters to befuddle any would-be hackers.
A tender for a new batch of the old machines came to light around the same time that Snowden did, prompting folks to suggest that the unhackable typewriter was a cunning plan on the FSO's part.
Russian media outlet Izvestia certainly seemed to think so, saying a source had suggested (with help from Google Translate):
Typewriters are still used for printing on paper ... In addition, a number of documents are actually not created in electronic format. This practice exists in the structures of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Emergency Situations, the security services.
However, the tender does seem to also be looking for ribbons and correcting tape for typewriters the agency already has, so it may just be that the FSO has always been that cunning or they have quite the lengthy refresh-cycle.
Just when you thought the revelations about the NSA might be winding down, a fresh set of documents has been leaked that seem to suggest that the agency has another programme for undetected data-sniffing, XKeyscore. The project appears to dispense with the niceties of metadata and just go for "nearly everything a user does on the internet".
Details from the presentation, disclosed by Snowden, talk about searching the bodies of emails and webpages and assembling logs of IP addresses. The NSA didn't deny the project's existence, but it did let folks know that it was all legal and of course in everyone's best interest:
NSA's activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests.
XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA's lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system.
Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA's analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks … In addition, there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring.
Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law.
These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad.
In other news, Juniper Networks' EMEA director of security Henrik Davidsson has said that it's pointless to turn to the police in cases of DDoS attacks or other hacks:
The problem is too big for the authorities to handle, playing into the hands of the cyber criminals. Additionally there are complications with the global complexity that hacking presents. Who is responsible if a hacker based in Asia attacks a European company? We’ve simply reached a stage where the IT security industry needs to be able to protect itself.
Over at Microsoft, the latest results show just how much the company's much-vaunted Surface has been struggling. Top boss Steve Ballmer said in a typical understatement:
We built a few more devices than we could sell ... We're not selling as many Windows devices as we want to.
In actual fact, things are much, much worse. Poor old Redmond has spent more on advertising Surface and Windows 8 than it's taken in from Surface sales, and has written down nearly a billion dollars on its Surface RT fondleslabs.
And finally, two jurors in Blighty will be banged up for two months after using Facebook and the web in relation to the cases they were trying. One wrote a quite incredibly tactless post on the social network indicating that the person whose case was being tried was unlikely to get a fair hearing from him:
Woooow I wasn't expecting to be in a jury Deciding a paedophile’s fate, I’ve always wanted to Fuck up a paedophile & now I’m within the law!
While the other looked up the case online and discovered evidence that had not been heard in court - and then told other jurors about it. ®