A new article on Motherboard details how hackers used a spearfishing attack to get passwords and break into the email of members of the Democrat National Committee, namely John Podesta, and also Colin Powell. The attack came as a phoney message from Google that someone had their password and they should change the password immediately, along with a big "change password" button.
This Week in Tech News
A Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDOS) hit the internet yesterday, tossing several networks offline. Leo says this happens all the time as robot computers are drafted to clog networks with phoney requests. What's disturbing about this particular attack is that it's using not only computers, but it's taking advantage of smart devices used in the home (called the internet of things), like routers, DVRs, smart refrigerators, and even internet enabled home security systems.
AT&T is buying Time Warner for $85 billion. Time Warner includes HBO, CNN, TBS, TNT, Warner Bros, and more. The reason these carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc are buying media companies is because they don't want to be in the business of being a 'dumb pipe' for internet access. They want to be in the content business. It's expected that the deal will get regulatory approval without issue.
Leo got the Google Pixel and inevitably you're going to compare it to the iPhone 7. First off, it's expensive. Leo also says that the iPhone feels better crafted and better built than the Pixel. But Leo has always preferred the Android OS to the iPhone. Leo likes the aliases you can have with Android. Widgets are also great. The artificial intelligence called Google Assistant is remarkable. Light years ahead of Siri, which lately has gotten dumber. Speech recognition is nearly perfect on the Pixel, while Leo says he has a lot of trouble with Siri.
President Obama has ordered the CIA to develop a "proportional response" to the reported Russian hacking of the DNC which exposed emails about the Clinton campaign. But Leo says what could the CIA expose by hacking the Kremlin? Putin posts bare chested pictures of himself on Instagram? The man is embarrassed by nothing! And could such a response cause an escalation? Leo says that our utility infrastructure is vulnerable to hacking and such a cyber war could devolve into crippling our electrical grid ... or worse.
BlackBerry this week announced it would be getting out of the hardware business. When the iPhone came out in 2007, no one knew exactly what that meant. In fact, the CEO of Microsoft at the time, Steve Ballmer, publicly criticized it saying that it's too expensive. The lack of concern was just enough to throw them off their game for a couple of years. By 2009, when it became clear the iPhone was the future of cell phones, Microsoft and BlackBerry finally leapt into action. Unfortunately, it was too late at that point and Apple already owned the space.
The Sony PlayStation VR comes out this week. If you have a PlayStation 4, all you'll need is the headset, Move controllers, and camera. It'll be the easiest way yet to get into virtual reality gaming. Leo has tried all of the virtual reality headsets, and so far he hasn't found any to be exciting for very long. He does think that as companies evolve the technology, we may see something miraculous years down the road.
There have been reports of replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones exploding, indicating that the problem may not be fully resolved. One of the stories was from a Southwest Airlines flight. A passenger's Note 7 got very hot, so he threw it on the ground, it started smoking, and they evacuated the plane. The phone had not only burned itself, but it burned through the carpet to the subflooring on the plane. Samsung still has to investigate, along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to see if the phone really was fixed.
Google announced the new Pixel smartphone and for the top of the line model, it's going to set you back nearly a thousand dollars. Leo is amazed by this considering you can get a desktop or even a laptop for half that.
Have you noticed the second speaker grill on the bottom of the new iPhone 7 in place of the headphone jack? It's not actually a speaker, according to an iFixit teardown. Instead there's a plastic piece which serves as a barometric vent that lets the inside of the iPhone equalize air pressure with the outside. This is necessary because the phone is waterproof and sealed up now. That vent is critical because otherwise the altimeter wouldn't work.