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понеділок, 14 березня 2011 р.

GadgetTrak for IPhone and IPad

The small size and portability of the iPhone, iPod touch, and even the iPad makes them easy targets for thieves. Leave one unattended for a moment on a table in a public place, or allow your bag to sit out of view for a few minutes, and your device may find its way into other hands.

While you can't trigger a remote electrical charge to punish the malefactor who took your iOS device, you do have an opportunity to track it down, so long as you install software ahead of time. GadgetTrak, a $4 universal app, can help you recover an errant piece of mobile hardware. A separate $1 in-app purchase lets you opt to snap pictures (front and rear) on capable devices if the possessor is convinced to open the app. You can use GadgetTrak on any number of devices synced using the same iTunes account.

GadgetTrak is properly labeled theft-recovery software. It can't prevent a device from being stolen, and it doesn't have monitoring features that would, for instance, alert you if your hardware wanders more than a certain distance from a given set of GPS-tracked coordinates. I'm sure we'll eventually see a host of software like that; iHound, a subscription app, offers some of those features for family safety.

Instead, GadgetTrak operates in the background, waiting for remote instructions to trigger its tracking feature. GadgetTrak uses the iOS 4 background location service, which allows the app to register itself with the operating system-with your permission-and thereafter be available to be activated even when the app isn't running. This is true even if the app has been forcibly quit from the Dock.

After installing and launching GadgetTrak, you create an account or enter the credentials of an account you've already created. The company uses a monitoring Web site to handle interaction with the app after you've registered it. You set a passcode to prevent access to the program's settings. With the in-app camera purchase, you have an option to turn picture taking on and off. You can also set the interval at which GPS coordinates are captured when tracking is turned on.

Then you just forget about GadgetTrak until you need it. The one drawback of the app's always-available nature is that the location indicator appears next to the battery level in the iOS top bar even though GadgetTrak isn't burning up battery power when it's in standby mode. I've had GadgetTrak running for weeks, and haven't noticed any faster drop in battery power with it installed than before I started using it. When tracking is enabled, you will see the typical GPS battery drain on iPhones and 3G-equipped iPads.

To activate tracking, you visit the account Website and enter your credentials. You can do this from any browser. As soon as tracking is turned on, GadgetTrak sends a notification to the device that suggests a meeting is about to happen. Although the notification heading says GadgetTrak, a thief might still trigger the launch of the app, which then allows picture taking and other information gathering. If the phone is on its lock screen, swiping with a notification launches the app. An absconder might also tap Open accidentally or out of curiosity.

The Website tracks any GPS information that's sent and plots it on a map. If the current iOS device possessor launches the app, you're sent an e-mail with the photos taken and some network detail. GadgetTrak doesn't share this information with law enforcement; you have to contact police or other authorities. However, showing up with a map and timestamps can be convincing.

Of course, GadgetTrak requires that a device is on a network for any of this to work. Smart thieves may immediately power off a mobile device as soon as they can, or put it into a metal bag to prevent signals from getting through. The 3G iPad and any iPhone can retrieve precise coordinates via GPS receiver and access a 2G or 3G network to send data. iPod touches and iPads without 3G (or without an active plan) have to be connected to a Wi-Fi network to try to estimate a location and to send detail.

GadgetTrak differs from Apple's Find My iPhone (free to iOS 4 users for all their devices) in three important ways. First, Find My iPhone constantly updates location at regular intervals while the service is active, but it doesn't keep a history of that information. Second, Find My iPhone can't be remotely activated to take pictures. Third, GadgetTrak can't trigger remote actions like wiping the device, sending an alert, or setting a passcode that immediately locks iOS. I run the two together because of their unique advantages.

A thief can uninstall GadgetTrak without knowing the app's passcode unless you've used the Restrictions feature to turn off the ability to delete apps from your device without a passcode. (You can set this in Settings -> General -> Restrictions. Tap Enable Restrictions, set a passcode, and then slide the Deleting Apps switch to Off.)

You can take every precaution and still find yourself a device short. GadgetTrak adds to peace of mind at a low cost, especially if you own multiple iOS devices. Just as the best time to make a backup is before your hard drives suddenly meltdown, the best time to install theft-recovery software is before you're no longer able to.

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Microsoft confirms “NoDo” delay

By Hayley Tsukayama

Microsoft spokesman Eric Hautala on Thursday confirmed suspicions that the company would be pushing back the release of its “NoDo” update for Windows phones. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer had previously said it would be out during the first week of March, but problems with the company’s February update have delayed the launch for a couple of weeks.

Hautala, who runs the team responsible for the phone updates, said the next update would be coming out in the latter half of March.

Microsoft announced that 10 percent of Windows Phone 7 customers had trouble with the update that was released in February, particularly those with Samsung phones. Hautala said that the company was trying to learn from the problems and will “take some extra time to ensure the update process meets our standards, your standards, and the standards of our partners.”

The next update will include tweaks to the system such as a copy and paste feature, the capability to support CDMA networks such as Verizon and Sprint and changes to Marketplace search.

Hautala said the delay of the “NoDo” update would not affect the timing of future updates, “including the one announced recently at Mobile World Congress featuring multitasking, a Twitter feature, and a new HTML 5-friendly version of Internet Explorer Mobile.”

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Teardown of Apple's iPad 2 Smart Cover uncovers 21 magnets

A total of 31 magnets are used to make the iPad 2 and its Apple-branded Smart Cover properly align, with 21 magnets found in the accessory and the remaining 10 in the iPad 2 itself.

For the first time ever, iFixit conducted a teardown of a case, a move that highlights the unique nature of Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad 2. When the iPad 2 was first introduced, Apple touted that its accessory cover was developed alongside the new touchscreen tablet.

The solutions provider utilized magnetic viewing film to demonstrate the magnetic poles of the material inside the Smart Cover. It found that one magnet is used to turn off the iPad 2 screen, while the rest are used to either clamp the case to the iPad 2 or form the triangle shape that allows the case to act as a stand.

The sleep control for the iPad 2 can even be triggered with a separate magnet without using the Smart Cover, automatically enabling or disabling the screen.

Inside the iPad 2, a row of magnets are located on the right side of the device, making the Smart Cover clamp to the surface of the device. The magnets are clearly labeled with their alternating polarity, which ensures the Smart Cover always sits in the same orientation.

Also included in the iPad 2 are a row of magnets along the left side of the device, which allows the Smart Cover to latch onto the side and pivot to open and allow access to the screen. iFixit found that the magnets inside the iPad and its accompanying Smart Case on the left side are "very strong," and witnessed them make a two-inch leap to connect.

Inside the Smart Cover, iFixit found:

* A large metal place encased in plastic that adheres to the magnets to form the stand.
* Two yellow all-plastic plates in the middle that exist purely for structural support.
* A stack of magnets.

The teardown also revealed that Apple opted for a steel-to-magnet bond, which is weaker than a magnet-to-magnet bond, which is why there are a total of 21 magnets inside the case. iFixit said that Apple needed "lots more magnets to prevent the case from literally falling apart during use."

The Smart Case does not use any correlated magnets, which have a complex field of patterns rather than standard positive and negative polarity. The magnets used by Apple inside both the Smart Cover and iPad 2 are regular two-pole magnets.

Last week, iFixit conducted a more traditional teardown of the iPad 2 itself. The disassembly of Apple's latest touchscreen tablet revealed that the new device has a slightly bigger battery than its first-generation counterpart, as well as double the RAM with 512MB.
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Report: Internet Explorer Used to Exploit Windows MHTML Vulnerability

A vulnerability in the way Internet Explorer parses MHTML content—a method for combining multiple file types and HTML content into a single file—is now targeting users as part of a "drive-by" browser attack.

It's called that due to the process by which attackers exploit the loophole: They'll create a malicious website, lure a user in, and then force the user's browser to run Javascript code. This code can access information from a user's browser or, worse, entice a user to install additional code that opens up his or her system to additional hacks.

"The end result of this type of vulnerability is script encoded within the link executed in the context of the target document or target web site," write Dave Ross and Chengyun Chu in Microsoft's Security Research & Defense blog.

The MHTML exploit was originally published on a website called WooYun, and Microsoft acknowledged the issue in a January security advisory. A recent update to the advisory by Microsoft—later verified by Google—indicates that the exploit is now being put to use.

"We've noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users," writes members of the Google Security Team in a blog post. "We believe activists may have been a specific target. We've also seen attacks against users of another popular social site."

Neither Google nor Microsoft went into any additional detail as to the exact kinds of users the exploit has targeted. Microsoft has itself released a "Fix It" solution to combat the issue, but there's been no timeline set for a full-fledged patch to the browser.

According to Qualys' Wolfgang Kandek, the attack only works against those running Internet Explorer—and Microsoft has verified that statement by noting that the attack actually works due to a specific Windows vulnerability, making one's version of Internet Explorer irrelevant as part of a fix. However, a quick fix beyond the downloadable "Fix It" pack is to switch over to an alternate browser for the time being—Chrome or Firefox to name a few.

"Firefox and Chrome are not affected in their default configuration, as they do not support MHTML without the installation of specific add-on modules," Kandek writes.

Microsoft itself has previously posted a test scenario that users can run to determine whether their browsers support the MHTML vulnerability. All that one needs is access to a web server in order to upload a single .MHT test file. For unprotected browsers, accessing the file will result in a little pop-up box that says, "hello," whereas protected versions of Internet Explorer will instead receive a notification that the site is trying to "communicate with your computer" in a method disallowed by one's security settings.
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Apple's iPhone can't tell time, owners oversleep

Daylight savings time ended up being more confusing than necessary for a group of iPhone owners whose smartphones turned on them Sunday morning. Tweeters barraged Apple with complaints after the iPhone fell back an hour, even though the rest of us intended to spring forward. The glitch put affected iPhone clocks two hours behind the rest of the world, understandably enraging owners.

Tweeters both condemned and consoled the iPhone, some cursing the fact that they almost missed church or yoga, while others went defensive on Apple's behalf. One tweeter even posted, "My iPhone correctly changed its clock. It's a truly revolutionary device." Yet, despite this Apple geek's enthusiasm, this isn't the first time that Apple's iPhone has had trouble telling time. On New Year's Day, an alarm mishap left the previous evening's party-goers snoozing comfortably throughout New Year's morning. Not to mention that the iPhone had similar difficulties adjusting to the end of daylight savings time last November.

The iPhone showed no discrimination between AT&T subscribers and Verizon Wireless subscribers; both were affected by the glitch. Tweeters offered a quick and easy solution to the problem, suggesting to turn the device off and back on, or to turn on Airplane Mode and then turn it back off.
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Apple iPad 2 Attracts 70 Percent New iPad Owners: Survey

Apple's iPad 2 attracted a majority of buyers new to the iPad, according to a survey by analyst firm Piper Jaffray. Apple hopes the iPad 2 will fend off rivals.

Apple’s iPad 2 is attracting first-time iPad buyers, according to a new survey by analyst firm Piper Jaffray. That could bode well for the new tablet, which Apple needs to help fend off competition from a number of high-powered rivals, including the Motorola Xoom and Research In Motion’s upcoming PlayBook.

“We spoke with 236 people in line for the iPad 2 on Fri. (3/11) in New York and Minneapolis,” analyst Gene Munster wrote in the survey results. “Typically demand on Apple product launch days is driven by upgrades, but our data suggests Apple is gaining new iPad users vs. upgrading existing ones.”

To that end, the survey found that some 70 percent of iPad 2 buyers “were new to the iPad compared to 23 percent of iPhone 4 buyers that were new to the iPhone at launch.”

Munster also believes that Apple sold between 400,000 and 500,000 iPad 2 units. “We note that the weekend number for the iPad 2 is essentially a launch day total because stock across retailers was mostly depleted by late Friday and not replenished during the weekend.”

While a sample size of 236 people pales in comparison to the millions of people expected to purchase the iPad 2, it could certainly suggest certain rough trends emerging during the tablet’s first days of shelf life. The firm’s survey also found that 47 percent of iPad 2 purchases chose a model with 3G capability. Some 41 percent purchased the 32GB “midrange” iPad 2. Out of all purchasers, some 65 percent already owned an iPhone, and 24 percent had a Kindle.

On March 11, eWEEK visited three Apple Stores in New York City and found a situation similar to that described by Munster. At the company’s flagship Fifth Avenue store, the line for iPad 2 purchasers snaked in multiple directions, and press photographers steadily photographed everyone exiting the door with a boxed iPad 2 in hand. On the Upper West Side, the line for the iPad 2 stretched around the corner. And down in SoHo, the crowd packed around the entrance resembled a very polite riot.

Apple employees at the SoHo store said their initial supply of the iPad 2 had been stripped.

Meanwhile, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry, based on an analysis of four Apple stores and three Best Buy retail outlets, decided that Apple had already sold three times as many iPad 2 units over two days as the original iPad.

Research firm IDC recently suggested that Apple’s share of the tablet market declined from 93 percent in the third quarter of 2010 to 73 percent in the fourth quarter. Despite the presence of more competitors in the tablet space, IDC expects that Apple will maintain a 70 percent to 80 percent market-share in 2011. A flood of new iPad owners could help make that happen.
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