Monday, August 27, 2012

Ok, I Give Up

After the second consecutive week of Flash updates, I've just uninstalled Flash. I still use Chrome with its embedded, sandboxed Flash but Google has been updating it immediately. And since Chrome v21 Flash has run using Pepper Plug-In API (PPAPI). "This extension is designed specifically to ease the implementation of out-of-process plugin execution." Way over my head.

And Java, here we go again. As I said before "Just uninstall Java and JavaFX. You really won't miss it."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remote Wiping of Phones

Recently I came across an article on Forbes on The Fallacy Of Remote Wiping Your Phone.

The author raises four issues with remote wiping:

First: Ensuring that an entire flash memory module has been forensically erased.

Second: Rooting and jailbreaking.

Third: Remote wipe indiscriminately destroys both corporate and personal data.

Fourth: There are a number of scenarios where remote wipe can be circumvented.

Hmmm. Sounds like a real problem.

But let's look at these in the real world. I discussed this with a former co-worker who has had firsthand experience with remote wipe. The following is a recap of that discussion.

First case is FUD. Today nobody but a three letter agency could recreate files on flash storage in a phone. A presentation at Usenix FAST 11 suggested "none of the available software techniques for sanitizing individual files (from Flash-Based Solid State Drives) were effective" but didn't offer any tools or techniques for actually retrieving files.

Second is a fringe scenario, at least on non-Android platforms. Most people just don't do that. Look around at your friends. How many of them have rooted or jailbroken their phone? Ok, maybe not your friends but look around the office then.

Third can be addressed with policy before you allow a connection. Agreeing to that risk should be a part of the agreement of BYOD.

Fourth is a legitimate concern. My favorite scenario is for the miscreant to simply remove the SIM to avoid the remote wipe.

  1. Only allow mobile devices that have an application that can be used to remotely wipe data and lock them. The IT department should maintain this list and be responsive in updating it.
  2. Only allow users that have written approval from their management to connect mobile devices to the corporate network. Periodically review this need.
  3. Devices that have been modified or updated to allow security to be bypassed are disallowed. These are commonly known as "rooted" or "jailbroken."
  4. Disallow storing sensitive corporate data on removable media unless encrypted.
Some of these will have to be enforced with spot audits along with recurring policy sign-offs based on the business risk.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Windows 8 RTM

I need to open this with making sure that you know that I haven't touched the Windows 8 RTM bits. And that my experience with Windows 8 was with the Consumer Preview in a virtual machine.

However I have been following others' experience with the gold bits for Windows 8. Most of the reviews take one side of the other. However a couple of recent articles seem to take the middle road.

First I came across an article in Computerworld.

The author contrasts the Metro Modern UI with iPad and Android.
Designed from the ground up to display information, it provides a significantly different experience from using an iPad or Android tablet -- information-centric rather than app-centric.
I think that this is a positive real differentiation for the Modern UI on all platforms.

The article goes on to talk about the Modern UI apps.
But others, such as Mail, remain underpowered compared to traditional desktop apps like Outlook.
I don't think that this is an issue as the Windows Live Mail app for Windows 7 is also "underpowered" when compared to Outlook. Power users are going to want to add their preferred app. Microsoft really needs to get the Modern UI apps out there before buyers start taking their new Windows 8 PCs/tablets home.

As the article describes the table experience the author says:
Windows 8 falls short on tablets only when you want to get to the Desktop, but considering that tablets are generally used to consume content rather than create content, you likely won't need to go there.
I'm not sure that I agree with the assumption that "tablets are generally used to consume content rather than create content." I see imaging apps like Pic Stitch and presentation apps like Haiku Deck emerging as solid content creation tools leveraging the capabilities of a tablet to facilitate creation of dramatic content. I think that as tablets mature the idea that they are only consumption devices will quickly disappear.

This goes back to the aforementioned concern over "underpowered" Modern UI apps. Again, Microsoft's challenge is to hit home runs with Modern UI apps, not just pretty faces on Desktop UI apps. Obviously pretty faces on Desktop UI apps won't work at all on Windows RT tablets.

The second article I came across was from Lockergnome.

Even Paul Thurrot expressed hope that Microsoft would have some kind of tutorial on the Modern UI for new users. It seems that this is in the RTM bits.
...during installation, there’s now an animation explaining the presence of hot corners in Windows 8. It’s a very clear and straightforward visual, but still many people will wonder what it means.
Here's the video:

The author had a good experience installing Windows 8 on a three year-old laptop. I'm not sure that that is germane as most people will buy Windows 8 pre-installed. These articles focused almost exclusively on the Windows 8 presentation perspective.

But there's lots more to Windows 8 than just the presentation changes. Some of the underlying changes are real leaps forward ahead of the competition. For example, according to Paul Thurott Windows 8 "will automatically sync virtually all possible settings for you." Let that soak in for a minute. Google Chrome browser users will appreciate this since Chrome does that across browser instances. But Chrome is limited to just browser settings. Think about this capability for all PC/tablet settings. Apple's iCloud doesn't even come close to this.

SkyDrive is all new and is deeply integrated. This may be the first really viable cloud operating system. (Sorry Chrome OS.)

It's going to be an interesting Fall!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Technology Formerly Known as "Metro"

Ever since Windows Phone 7 introduced the new sliding tile user interface it has been known as "Metro." Subsequently it has appeared on XBOX and Windows 8.

Out of the blue Microsoft has rejected the "Metro" brand.

Just a couple of the articles covering this are from Microsoft Watch and Computeworld.

Here are some screenshots of references to Metro.

The statement released by Microsoft said:
"We have used Metro style as a code name during the product development cycle across many of our product lines," a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "As we get closer to launch and transition from industry dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names."
And that is: Windows 8 Style?

Sunday, August 05, 2012


Let's talk elegance. Really, that's what sells Apple. Apparently Microsoft doesn't get it yet.

Here's Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. Count the parts. I'll help. ONE. Try to find the batteries. They are built-in and charge off an ubiquitous microUSB cable.

Now here's Microsoft's Wedge Mobile Keyboard. Count the parts. THREE. Batteries? You better go buy a bunch of AAs and AAAs. Yes. The keyboard and mouse take DIFFERENT types of batteries.

The keyboard stores in the case so you'll have to keep up with your Microsoft Surface and the keyboard in its case. The mouse? I guess you'll have to put that in your pocket with your extra batteries.

Hey, but the keyboard has Charms keys!

I know that Microsoft showed both a Touch Cover and a Type Cover for the Surface but they haven't surfaced yet. (I couldn't resist the pun.)

Incredible how Microsoft just doesn't get it.