Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Xoom, Xoom

As I mentioned in my My First Look At Android, part 1, I recently purchased an HTC smartphone, and have been exploring its Android operating system. In that article, I referenced Apple’s iPad, and this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show). I talked about the “year of the tablet”.

The iPad was the first consumer ‘tablet’, and its popularity (read “sales”) ensured that other manufacturers would produce their own tablet PC’s, and try to grab a slice of that market share. Well, a year later they’re coming, (or here) and Motorola’s Xoom – with it’s Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system – seems to be the lead contender for unseating the iPad as the tablet to own.

I have been watching the tablets, as I really am not satisfied with my smartphone. Why? The small, 3.8″ screen. I really would prefer a 6″, or 7″ screen. Large for a phone? I guess. But if their were a tablet/phone available here in the US, that’s what I’d get. I am considering selling my phone, getting a tablet, and using Skype.. or waiting until a 4G phone/tablet hits the market.

So I was watching for the Xoom reviews, and, lo, two arrived today.

Motorola Xoom review: Google Android reaches adolescence

“The Motorola Xoom is the first tablet computer to use Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Is it ready to rival Apple’s iPad?”

First impressions of the Motorola Xoom: Five quick insights

“The Motorola Xoom is more of a PC replacement than the iPad, but it still has some frayed edges that need to be evened out before most early adopters will want to jump on board.”

I have been a tech for too long, and am too ‘seasoned’ to be anyone’s guinea pig (aka “an ‘early adopter'”), so I will not be rushing out and buying a Xoom. (I urge people not to buy version 1.0 of anything.. as kewel and hip as be-the-first-on-your-block might be.) But I will be watching developments. These gizmos do indeed look like they are here to stay; and, yes, I want one.
But just not yet. I agree with these articles, and I’m giving myself a year for this new stuff to shake out. (And competition will lower the price by then, too.)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 28, 2011 Posted by | computers, gadgets, hardware, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Next Great App for Android, iPhone –> Rootkit

Rootkit, SMS text messages used to build a botnet of smartphones

The “hot” tech items to own these days are the (not inexpensive) iPhone and Android “smart phone” devices. (If you doubt that, ask yourself why does the news infotainment departments send reporters and camera crews to film lines of people standing outside the Apple Store when a new model comes out?)

These phones are really not phones anymore, but mini-computers – which happen to make cellular phones calls. They are Internet-connected, so they can send/receive e-mail, text and ‘chat’, and download files.. such as movies. They contain address books of your friends and family… In short, they have everything a cyber-criminal wants to target.

In the interest of making the world a better place, “a researcher at ShmooCon DC this weekend will demonstrate a smartphone botnet spewing spam, and unleash proof-of-concept code that builds a botnet out of Android and iPhone smartphones.

Yes, that’s right. A “researcher” will show us all how it’s done, and provide the code.

Georgia Weidman, an independent researcher, says her botnet attack evolved out of work she did on making an Android application send SMS text messages transparently such that the user didn’t even know it was happening from his or her smartphone. “As I did more research, I [realized] if I did this in the base operating system instead of in ‘userspace’ where most apps are, it would be a better way to do it,” she says. “If I can remotely control someone’s phone, it can be part of a botnet.”

While there has been plenty of smartphone research that pits one smartphone against another in an attack, she says, a more likely attack scenario would be a user unknowingly downloading an app that contains malicious code. “I think the majority of malware installations will come from a user downloading infected apps,” which can easily be rigged with rootkits given the lack of sufficient vetting of most smartphone apps, she says.

Well.. now that all someone has to do is copy>paste the code, yeah, she’s right. Invisible viruses that turn your smart phone into relay stations for spammers — sending us come on’s for V1@gra and C1al1s, and virus-laden links and attachments are only, I estimate, weeks away.

… and before you get too angry at this particular person, there is a whole industry of people doing this “research”, and several conventions have been going on for years. I believe that (some of) these people actually believe they are doing a good thing.

And maybe they would be.. if they only released the code to the affected device (or software) manufacturers and developers. But you don’t get rich or famous for that. (Maybe you heard about the “teen hacker” who got hired after writing viruses that attacked Twitter? There’s a lot of that kind of idiocy in tech..)

Here is the entire Dark Reading article, Researcher To Release Smartphone Botnet Proof-Of-Concept Code. I suggest you read it. Particularly if you own a smart phone.

In case you don’t know what a “botnet” is, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botnet
Or why a “rootkit” is the worst kind of virus, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rootkit

Does your smart phone have an antivirus? A firewall? Maybe you want those things?
Maybe it’s important to know that the apps at the app store are not checked (aka “vetted”) for malware? Doesn’t that *smell*?

IMHO, there is something wrong with this whole deal. Top to bottom.

Related:
* iPhone Users Are About to Be Screwed Over. The addition of the NFC chip to the iPhone isn’t for easy credit card purchases, but so the phone companies can control your financial transactions. Be warned. ~ By John C. Dvorak

“There has been a lot of talk about the addition of an NFC (near field communication) chip to the next-gen iPhone. This will allow the phone to be used as a swipe-it-yourself credit card. I consider this technology to be the most onerous ever.”

* CNet’s roundup of security apps for Android.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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January 31, 2011 Posted by | advice, Apple, cellular, computers, cyber crime, gadgets, Google, hackers, hardware, Internet, iPhone, mobile, News, rootkits, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Survey says…. The Best Smartphones (and carriers)

Folks, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel today. Instead, I am simply going to say that if you are wondering which smartphone to buy, or thinking about switching providers, I have something for you to read.

The Smartphones You Can Rely On

“Which mobile carriers offer clear, fast network connections? Which can solve your smartphone support problems? And can any device out there beat the iPhone? We surveyed thousands of readers and found definite winners—and losers—among handsets and carriers.”

Dear reader, your fave provider didn’t make the list? Your input is welcome here — leave a comment!

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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August 31, 2010 Posted by | cellular, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smartphones On The Cheap

Are your seatbelts fastened? I’m about to shock you, Dear Reader.
Ready?

I found a How To better than any I have ever written. Below is the link and some snippets..

How to use a Blackberry Smartphone with a cheap “Pay As You Go” mobile phone plan…

blackberry

“I love my gadgets, and when opportunity presents itself to try something different, I cannot resist.

The object of the this story is to demonstrate how I maximized the usage of a Blackberry Smartphone using one of the cheapest mobile phone plans out there…

I have always been fascinated with PDA’s, have owned quite a few, and was currently looking for something that would provide PDA capabilities, as well as, mobile phone capabilities. I did not want to pay a lot or get trapped into a lengthy service contract with a mobile phone provider just to own a computer in my pocket…”

I believe that this article will appeal to (and inform) any “user level” — from those who have managed to avoid these fancy gadgets, to texting über-ninjas. I highly recommend clicking the link (above) and giving this one a read.

I tip both my writer’s cap and my geek hat to Rick Robinette (blog= What’s On My PC) and I thank him for permission for these snippets.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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March 26, 2009 Posted by | advice, gadgets, how to, Internet, Portable Computing, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments