Thursday, December 8, 2011

Geek Numbers - 24 hr Net Traffic Analysis For EPH

The traffic generated by this post over the past 24 hours has provided enough data to see some interesting trends. Mobile OS numbers, for example, where Android has snatched the lead from the iPhone. By the numbers...

Pageviews by Browsers

Internet Explorer 775 (36%)
Firefox 609 (28%)
Safari 318 (14%)
Chrome 243 (11%)
Mobile Safari 89 (4%)
Mobile 63 (2%)
Opera 19 (<1%)
NS8 3 (<1%)
Minefield 1 (<1%)
NetFront 1 (<1%)

Pageviews by Operating Systems

Windows 66%
Macintosh 20%
Android 4%
iPhone 2%
iPad 2%
Linux 1%
iPod 11 <1%
BlackBerry <1%
LG 1 <1%
Nokia 1 <1%

Pageviews by Country

United States 1,886
Canada 55
Russia 49
Germany 18
United Kingdom 16
Philippines 8
Mexico 6
France 5
Ukraine 5
Brazil 4
Netherlands 4
France 3
Japan 3
Switzerland 2
United Arab Emirates 2
17 countries 1 each

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More On CarrierIQ - Android Users Covered, Others SOL

More details have come out about CarrierIQ, a hidden app on smart phones that tracks user data, since our original story. The short of it is Android users now have more than a dozen options to detect and remove CarrierIQ from their mobile devices. Other mobile device users, including Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Apple users, iPhone, iPad, etc., are out of luck. Mostly. Apple users cannot remove CarrierIQ, but they can block it. Maybe.

This isn't an Android rocks, Apple sucks post. The iPhone is lovely little piece of technology, if no longer cutting edge. However, the CarrierIQ issue highlights the disadvanteges of completely closed operating systems like iOS compred to open operating systems like Android. In just a week developers have added more than a dozen new apps to the Android Market that detect and remove CarrierIQ while iOS users are still waiting for Apple to do something, anything.

From BetaNews...
Android users can detect Carrier IQ, everyone else is out of luck

Android users have a multitude of options in order to detect whether Carrier IQ exists on their smartphones, with at least a dozen applications available through the Android Market.
BetaNews tested out two of the available options -- BitDefender's Carrier IQ Finder and Lookout Labs' Carrier IQ Detector. The tests were performed on a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket running Android 2.3.6 on AT&T's network, and both found Carrier IQ present but didn't indicate whether or not it was active.
We also spotted a few apps that claim to freeze the process that runs Carrier IQ's hidden application. These include Trey Holland's Bloat/CIQ Freezer Free and RDMSoft's Carrier IQ Process Killer. Without more extensive tests, we can't independently verify these actually work as advertised, but customer reviews are generally positive.
These various apps may or may not be 100% effective at detecting CarrierIQ. We haven't had a chance to test them. But the instructions we posted last week are 100% effective, at least for Android users.

While iOS users are waiting for a fix that may nver come, they can at least disable CarrierIQ, though it appears they have to do it every time they boot their mobile devices. Details from LifeHacker...

Carrier IQ has made quite a stir with its ability to track everything you do on your Android phone, and it turns out that it comes preinstalled on the iPhone as well
Luckily, there's an easy way to turn it off. Just head to Settings > General > About > Diagnostics and Usage, and tap "Don't Send". That's it! We've also updated our original post on Carrier IQ to include this new information. If you're curious about the more technical bits of this discovery, hit the link below.

CarrierIQ may or may not be as bad as some of the more sensational stories have claimed, but either way, who wants it? Blackberry and Windows Mobile users, you're still SOL...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Official Republican Party Platform for 2012 - Send In The Clowns

Primary bedrock principles of the Republican Party:

If Obama is for it, we're against it, even if it was our idea to begin with.
If Obama is against it, we're for it, no matter how hard or for how long we fought against it before.

Specific policy positions of the Republican Party:

Raising taxes on the middle class isn't raising taxes. St. Grover said so.
Close our embassy in Iran!
Teachers are only in it for the money.
The media has a well known liberal bias.
Reality has a well known liberal bias.
Ignorance is bliss. We're the party of bliss on tap.
Democracy means making sure only the "right" kind of people vote.
9-9-9! (English translation: No, no, no!)
The 1% rule! All hail the 1%!
Poor people should work harder so rich people can get richer.
Make damn sure everyone over 21 votes on November 12!
Brown people aren't people. Corporations are people.
Amend "show your papers" laws to prevent more accidental snaring of rich white people.
There is no such thing as sexual harassment.
Validate the birth certificate!
Forced blowjob required for employment? No big deal. Voluntary blowjob between consenting adults? VERY big deal!
We love freedom! Keep government OUT of our personal lives! Except for women, in which case government should be all up in that vagina.
Gay people aren't people. Corporations are people.
Force poor children to work as janitors. Poor people never work, so it's the only way to
teach poor kids how to make money, except for selling drugs, as all poor people do.
No, really, make poor kids work!
Logic: Corporations are people, people have the right to free speech, money is speech,
therefore money is people, too.
Ignorance, hate and intolerance are family values.
More is really less. The middle class is paying more in taxes under Obama.
Jesus loves us, be He hates the rest of you filthy heathen fuckers, and especially poor people.
Poor people aren't people. Corporations are people.
From now on the "family values" party shall be led by a corrupt soft porn author and three
time adulterer forced to resign from Congress in disgrace and a viagra popping, 3rd world
sex toruist, drug addicted lying gasbag.
Global warming is a scam cooked up by greedy scientists to take advantage of poor oil
companies, but gay marriage is a dire threat to our very existence as a society.
Pizza is a vegetable.
As fat as we wanna be!
It's more important to believe in something than it is to know anything.
Science is the work of the devil.
Education is the work of the devil.
Reality has a well known liberal bias.
We love soldiers! Except for gay soldiers!
Let the uninsured just fucking die, already.
Every media outlet on the face of the Earth lies, except Fox. They always tell the truth. As far as you know.
As stupid as we wanna be!
A librul media conspiracy forced Herman Cain to keep a secret female "friend" he gave money to for 13 years and never told his wife about.
Donald Trump would so make a good president!
Sarah Palin isn't a con artist corrupt clown!
Herman Cain isn't a con artist corrupt clown!
Newt Gingrich isn't a con artist corrupt clown!
Donald Trump isn't a con artist corrupt clown!
Rick Perry is so not an idiot!
Chris Christie isn't a grossly obese bully.
Rick Santorum is, um, frothy.
We love Mitt Romney! We love both of them!
Okay, so we don't love Mitt Romney, but WTF are you gonna do?
God is old, fat and white, just like us!
Who gives a crap about Uz-beki-beki-stan?
Democrats want to destroy our way of life!
Liberals want to destroy our way of life!
Muslims want to destroy our way of life!
Gays want to destroy our way of life!
The media wants to destroy our way of life!
Reality wants to destroy our way of life!
It's class warfare when the poor fight back.
Ask yourself every day, "Who would Jesus foreclose on?"

Nothing in this platform is intended to be a factual statement.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don't Panic! - What Android Users Need To Know About CarrierIQ

12/08 UPDATE: More on this story here...

CarrierIQ, a hidden root app that secretly logs user activity on 150 million mobile devices, is a serious privacy and security threat. But it's a threat Android users can easily eliminate. The short version is CIQ tracks pretty much all user activity - location, searches, even individual kestrokes - then secretly sends the data bact to CarrierIQ servers. Very creepy. But don't panic.

Apple fanatics have reacted with smug glee to the news of a serious privacy issue that doesn't affect iPhone users, saying CIQ is a much more serious security issue than the iPhone's hidden logging and tracking app, exposed earlier this year. Maybe so, but not so fast, Mac fans. While you can only ask Apple to correct security threats, bugs and other issues, then wait, hope they do and hope they get it right sooner or later, Android users have total control of their own devices and can easily eliminate security threats like CIQ on their own. So there.

The first thing to know is CIQ is not on all Android devices, as breathless tech media panic articles have claimed, nor is it on all AT&T devices. For example, it's not on my Nexus S running Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) on the AT&T network. Before you wrap your head in tin foil and hide under your desk, check to see if CIQ is actually installed on your Android device.

While CIQ won't show up under running applications, most root level system processes don't, if it is installed on your device it will show up in the list of all applications as "IQRD". If you don't see it, it's not there. For those who want to be extra sure, use a 2nd party management app, Norton Mobile Utilities, for example, where you can see every process, including system processes, running on your phone. If there's no "IQRD" running, there's nothing to worry about. CarrierIQ is not installed on your Android device.

If you do find "IQRD," there's still no reason to panic. You can fix this all on your own. One of the most brilliant features of Android devices is because the Android OS is based on open source technology, unlike the entirely closed, proprietary iPhone OS, for example, users have a great deal of control over how their device works, even to the point of being able to load custom Android operating systems.

There are currently 2 ways to remove CIQ from Android devices. Neither is 1 step simple, but both are well within reach for most users. The details may vary slightly from device to device, but the basics are the same for all Android devices.

First, you'll need to "root" your phone, which basically gives you the equivalent of "administrator" permissions on your Android device. This will allow you to access and control all of the processes on your device, including system and root level processes. You can find instructions for rooting your phone here...

After you've rooted your phone, method 1 for removing CarrierIQ is to download and install "Logging Test App v7" from Android developer Trevor Eckhart, the guy who first discovered CarrierIQ. You'll also need "Logging TestApp Pro" - 99 cents at the Android store - which will automatically install the drivers required to unlock the advanced debugging, cleanup and removal features for the Android OS.

Now, open Logging Test App v7. Hit the "menu" button. Select "CIQ" and hit "Remove CIQ".

That's it. Problem solved. You're good to go. No more CarrierIQ. Now, wasn't that easy?

The second method is recommended for advanced users only, as it is much more complicated and involves replacing your entire Android operating system.

Not only can Android users control pretty much everything in the Google Android OS, unlike iPhone users, because Android is based on open source software, you can actually replace the entire operating system with one of the many customized operating systems available for Android, all of them free. These modifications, or mods, are known are called ROM's.

I've played around with a few ROM mods for Android. The one I like best is Cyanogen(mod). Not only does it completely eliminate all hidden root apps, including CIQ, it gives the users some very groovy functions not found in the Google Android OS. For example, you get a very good DSP graphic equalizer for music playback, secure "Incognito Mode" Web browsing, true "Touch to Focus" for your camera and all sorts of options for skins and themes to customize the look and feel up your Android device.

A few caveats. Because Cyanogen(mod), like most other OS ROM's, is highly customized and optimized, it could possibly push your device harder than the original Google OS. This may slow down low powered devices and may decrease battery life. To avoid these issues, make sure you check the list of supported devices for the ROM you choose before installation. Another thing to keep in mind is installing a custom ROM is very likely to void your warranty, though most warranties are only 90 days, anyway.

Before you take the plunge and replace your OS, I suggest you thoroughly read through the instructions. You're changing firmware. Take it step by step and make sure you backup everything before you even think about altering your OS. Cyanogen(mod) maintains a very helpful Wiki with detailed backup and installation instructions and answers to any questions you may have. Other ROM providers provide similar information.

The bottom line is, as usual, the best way to deal with new, super evil technology threats is, in the immortal words of  Douglas Adams, don't panic.