Apple’s new Slide-To-Unlock patent : Why it doesn’t matter

Apple Slide to Unlock

Apple was just awarded a 3rd patent for it’s Slide-to-Unlock feature, and while the internet is still abuzz with it, I just fail to see any reason to get excited.

Yes, Apple looks to be greedy and is apparently more than happy competing with HTC and Samsung in courtrooms rather than the open market–but we all knew this already.

Yes, Apple is patenting something so generic it may apply to ALL slide gestures on an unlock screen? — but we all knew the patent system in the US is whacky and open to abuse.

Yes, Apple is protecting it’s patents and Android manufacturers are defending or at least responding. –nothing new here.

What’s more important is this — which idiot is using Slide-to-Unlock on his smart phone?

Why Slide to Unlock is a Bad Idea

If you have a smartphone like an iPhone (which you’ve spent a couple thousand ringgit on) you’re going to use that smartphone as more than just a phone. It will contain your emails (both personal and private), your browsing history, your contact information and most importantly–your high score to Angry Birds. Do you really want all of this data to be accessible to someone by simply ‘sliding’ their finger across your phone screen?

In the past, when phones were JUST phones, the biggest worry you had were losing your contact information and someone making long distance phone calls on your bill. Those days are LOOONG gone.

A smartphone has far more data on you than regular phone, because it has more services (facebook, Google..etc) and has more memory–therefore you don’t delete any data. Remember the days when your phone could only store 20 sms’s and you had to delete them. Your children will never experience the need to delete anything because they’re running out of ‘space’.

These days, your phone is almost an extension of you, on a regular iPhone you have nearly every personal and private detail of you:

1. Information of your contacts (including emails and phone numbers–possibly even photos)

2. Facebook, GMail, Twitter, LinkedIN and other social network login credentials (and all the information in them)

3. Your photos (some of which may be ‘very’ personal)

4. Your whatsapp and sms message trails (not such a big problem when all you could store on your phone were 20 sms, but when you store all messages to someone for a period of 2 years–that’s a lot of private information)

All this additional data requires additional security

That additional data requires additional security

In my opinion you require at the very least a 4-digit pin, and probably even a 6-digit pin for most people. This may not completely protect the data on your phone, but it does help slow the attacker down. No one can access your phone without expending some effort and time– and in that time:

1) You can attempt a remote wipe on your phone, wiping out all data;

2) You can call up your phone company and have them cancel the number and your sim card.

3) You can change your passwords to GMail, Facebook..etc, preventing the phone from accessing these social networks.

4) Change your Google Play/Amazon App Store/iTunes credentials so the attacker can’t buy apps and songs, sticking you with the Bill.

A 4-digit password entered by hand takes some time to brute force or guess, a 6-digit password would be completely unthinkable. I’m not sure of any hacks to bypass the Pin Entry, but even if such hacks exist they require time and effort, and that gives you enough time to limit the damage a lost phone can do.

Now if you don’t password protect your phone, but instead rely on Slide-to-Unlock, an attacker with your phone can easily access your GMail/Facebook logins and change the passwords–preventing YOU from accessing your own data. The attacker could begin a shopping spree on your iTunes account  footing you with the bill. The attacker could start posting stuff on Facebook/Twitter in your name, and if those were malicious and slanderous enough, get you in a lot of trouble.

Is it negligent to use Slide to Unlock only?

It is negligent to not protect your phone with at least a PIN, but from a legal perspective I believe it isn’t. Just like not protecting your Wi-Fi is not a good idea, but it isn’t exactly negligent either. We have to accept that smartphones and Wi-Fi connections have become a necessity for daily life for some, and most of those have no idea of good security practices and even technology in general.

That being said, while you can’t be held responsible for what someone else with your phone or Wi-Fi connection, rest assured that if you don’t take the neccessary steps to protect these things, someone will attack it, and you will be paying the price for it.

Why Apple is really suing Samsung

I’m not the biggest fan of Apple, I consistently compare my Galaxy S3 (which is great) to my wifes Iphone 4 (which is not so great). So when I first heard the news that Apple was suing Samsung for a ridiculous amount of money because of things like ‘slide to unlock’, ‘pinch to zoom’  and even ‘bouncing effect while scrolling’, I thought it was just a signal that Apple was afraid of someone stealing it’s dominance in the Smartphone market.

However, out of sheer coincidence I came across the 2007 keynote address for the iPhone by Steve Jobs. This was the original keynote for the original iPhone (5 years before the iPhone 5), and I was astounded. It was like attending a history lesson for one of the most defining moments in technology. One of the great things about the keynote though, is it ‘enlightened’ me on the lawsuit, and allowed me to see the lawsuit through Apples–or more specifically Steve Jobs–eyes, and it’s only through his eyes did I understand why Apple was suing Samsung, I still don’t agree with it, but I can definitely see why Apple is going through great lengths to make life miserable for Samsung and Google. Continue reading

Kickstarter Malaysia: A collection of Malaysian Kickstarter Projects

Kickstarter is a great crowdfunding platform for budding entrepreneurs, musicians and inventors to get their creations from inside their heads into peoples hands. I personally have funded my favorite youtube guitarist on kickstarter and I should be receiving an album anytime soon–with my name in the credits. How cool is it to get your name printed in the credits of an actual physical CD album–it’s amazingly cool.

Initially I thought kickstarter was this once off thing, but over time, the great successes of kickstarter continue to pile up, a couple of months back we had the pebble watch–a e-ink display watch that connected to your iOS or Android phone for display and control.  Now we have Ouya an Android based console hoping to compete with the Playstation and XBOX but on a RM300 price-point. This are way cool products, that anyone with even a slight inclination to tech would love to have.

If you’re not techy, let me appeal to your business side. Pebble raised more than $10 Million US Dollars!! Ouya is currently trailing it with $5Million.

In fact, Pebble was so successful, the team behind it had to stop accepting backers because they were not sure they could manufacture that many pebbles. Try getting $10 Million of VC funding.

How about kickstarter in Malaysia?

For a long time, I’d thought kickstarter was only an American concept, that only Americans were profiteering from the crowdfunding phenomenon. However, a week ago a friend of mine actually decided to take his idea to kickstarter. Dev was just a regular guy hoping to take his idea from his head to the hands of other people, and he convinced me that kickstarter was the way to go.

So I did a bit of searching I noticed a couple of Kickstarter projects from Malaysia, and it was awesome.

As far as I can tell, the highest funded project by a Malaysian on Kickstarter was Ultra Fashion, who raised nearly $10,000 US dollars for their unique fashion line. However other notable mentions include Hujan Panas--a film by a Malaysian film maker and When I was a Kid–the childhood stories of a Malaysian. These are all really cool projects, that may have otherwise not been funded, and you could be forgiven for jumping to conclusion that Americans are funding the Malaysian art scene more than Malaysians themselves.

Only Heart on Kickstarter

Of course I’d also need to promote the Only Heart idea, partly because I believe in it, and partly because Dev asked me to 🙂

Dev is a straight out dreamer, every group has one, he’s the guy who thinks up of crazy shit and then refuses to believe anyone who tells him his ideas aren’t good. Dev has always stood by his ideas and that is something to be respected. More importantly, this is one of Devs better ideas.

Only heart is something that can only be bought once. You heard me right, once you buy one, you’re not getting another–EVER!

It’s a pretty simple concept, Only Heart uses your name and few particulars to uniquely identify who you are. Once they’ve sold you the Only Heart (which is a silver heart shaped pendant), that’s the last only heart you’ll ever get–hence the name Only Heart.

Why only once?

Simple, Dev plans to make it so that once you give someone an only heart it symbolizes more than the $99 USD you plunked down for it. It symbolizes that you chose to buy your one Only Heart for that one special person in your life you think deserved it.

It’s quite a cool concept, but one that requires a minimum order on the Silver Hearts and a IT system to enforce the concept of one person per one Only Heart. All of that stuff required money, to the tune of about Rm30,000 and Dev needed the money so he turned to Kickstarter for help.

To be honest it’s not going so well for Dev, so he’ll really appreciate it if you backed him up a bit (backing starts from as low as a dollar), plus this isn’t something you take a VC to get funded anyway.

What’s the future of Crowdfunding in Malaysia

A couple of months back, broke a story of a kickstarter clone launching in Malaysia, they then begin to criticize the bad design of the blog, claiming it to be unprofessional.

Fortunately, Pitchin has improved over time, but the success rates of the site is still in question. I’m not sure how long before crowdfunding becomes a mainstream way of raising capital for cool projects, but at least in Malaysia we’re heading in the right direction.

What about Dev?

Dev required about RM30,000 of capital to start with, at present he’s about 15% of the way. With just 18 days to go, it’s a 50-50 chance he’ll make it. That being said, even if Only Heart doesn’t get funded, I’m sure Dev will find someway to get his idea out, and the publicity from Kickstarter would be a nice to have at that point.


Instagram Camera: Coolest thing EVER!!

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about a cool card game based on Computer processes, in hindsight the only thing that post proved was that I’m a geek. The card game was funded through a crowdfunded initiative, and that was really what made it cool.

The instagram camera is cool on its own, and the fact that it’s currently  being crowdsourced through Indiegogo (a website similar to Kickstarter) makes the cool factor– cucumber cool.

In fact, as of now, it’s already reached $6,000 dollars from it’s $50,000 target in just one day. I’m willing to bet that this project will eventually reach it’s pretty low target of just $50,000 — easily.

There are however, some copyright concerns surrounding the camera, particularly since Facebook now own Instagram and they don’t even like wordpress developers building themes that ‘look’ like facebook, much less an entire camera that is based on a trademark they own.

If you choose to fund the project, you’re promised a discount on the final item, which the creator hopes to price at under $350 (that’s in US Dollars). However, based on the specs, that may be a bit difficult, we’re talking about a: Continue reading

Adobe releasing Creative Cloud for $49.99 soon!

Adobe is looking to release a cloud version of their creative applications online called creativecloud. From what I gather from their website it looks to be like a office365 version for creatives. This is probably a step in the right direction, Adobe software usually run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars, and buying the licenses for that software usually incur a huge capital expenditure for startups looking use these applications. Continue reading

Pinterest + Martin Luther King =

A couple of days back, I wrote about how copyright law was preventing a lot of us from listening the entire Martin Luther King “I have a dream” speech because it was protected by copyright, and in order to listen to it you had to pay Martin Luther Kings family royalty. Today I did some searching on pinterest, and found some rather remarkable works of art around Martin Luther King that were pinned in pinterest, these works of art would not be possible if the family had further copyrighted other aspects of MLKs life, and with newer stricter copyright laws that could very well be the case.

Remember for a pinterest invite, just leave a comment on the post and I’ll send one to you as soon as I have the time. For now, enjoy!


From pinterest User Effeluna  Continue reading

Good Design: Google reminds you that you recently changed your password

A couple of weeks back, Dreamhost reported a security breach on it’s servers, so I thought for security sake I should change my passwords as well. I’d been using the same password for the past couple of years and it was time for a change anyway.

However, as most of you will notice,  whenever you’ve just changed your password you instinctively try to re-enter the old one on your next login. This obviously prompts and invalid password prompt which should point you in the right direction. If you’re like me though, you end up thinking you typed it wrongly and try again, this can go on for a while and if you’re not careful you could lock yourself out of your account because you entered the ‘old’ password 3 times in a row.

A good piece of design I noticed from Google is that if you’ve changed your password recently, they actually remind you that you changed it and when you changed it. Thereby stoping your automatic response in it’s track and getting you to type the new one. Just a small piece of code and small feature but a rather good piece of design. Continue reading

Amazon releases new icons for AWS

Amazon Web Services has formed the IAAS backbone of many corporations IT infrastructure, through it’s various tools and offerings you can do almost everything under the sun on the cloud. You can spin EC2 instances till they merge together to become one giant super-computer, you can host webpages on their Simple Storage Solution (S3) platform which offers nearly limitless storage, you can even host that data on edge servers via CloudFront to reduce load times, and the list of offerings go on and on.

For some that’s more than they can chew, but for a budding young architect like myself it keeps me awake at night thinking of the cool stuff I could do with Amazon if only I had a bit more technical knowledge, a bit more time and possibly a bit more money…well maybe I need more than bit. Today Amazon released the latest release of icons for you to diagram out your amazon designs and really get into the nitty gritty of the infrastructure, theres an icon for EC2, S3, Cloudfront and just about every AWS offering under the sun.

The icons really help visualize what Amazon offers as part of AWS and help you envision it. It’ll be really cool taking some of the older projects landscape diagrams and then create new cloud diagrams to see how things have been simplified.

All of this can be found on Amazons Architecture Center, and there’s a great resource of not just the icons but also for a bunch of case studies. Case studies some really cool companies can be found online including 99designs, Ericsson, Schneider and even Yelp!, Check it out.


Facebook sues developer while Google takes youtube domains: What’s the difference

wpCandy reports that Facebook recently sued an Indonesian blogger who created a wordpress theme that could turn your wordpress site to look like Facebook, and the similarities were really striking. For one your post look exactly like status updates on your Facebook profile and comments on those post look exactly like your friends commenting on your status updates in Facebook.

Similarly, TechCrunch reports that Google has gone after a couple of rather confusing typo domains that look remarkably similar to Youtube. Although not so similarly, Google is making a request for control of the domain rather than suing the pants of those cybersquatters (which it probably should), and not so similarly Google has a much stronger case. Continue reading

The Ugly side of crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing seems to the buzz these days, with LG crowdsourcing a cellphone design off crowdsourcing website crowdspring and starbucks receiving more than 17,000 coffee ideas of the web from their crowdsourcing platform However, as with all new trends there are detractors and with crowdsourcing the number of detractors seems to be growing each day.

Previously I blogged about the wide spectrum of crowdsourcing , from the low end and mundane on Amazons Mechanical Turk, to the high end and niche Crowdspring. However, when a detractor to the term includes wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, then it’s time to study this a bit more in depth. So what is the ugly side of crowdsourcing and what does it strike a nerve with Jimmy Wales…and just about every designer I know. Continue reading