? All Tech Radio Episode 318
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  • Researchers have demonstrated a vulnerability in the computer systems used to control facilities at federal prisons that could allow an outsider to remotely take them over, doing everything from opening and overloading cell door mechanisms to shutting down internal communications systems. Tiffany Rad, Teague Newman, and John Strauchs, who presented their research on October 26 at the Hacker Halted information security conference in Miami, worked in Newman's basement to develop the attacks that could take control of prisons' industrial control systems and programmable logic controllers. They spent less than $2,500 and had no previous experience in dealing with those technologies. The Washington Times' Shaun Waterman reports that the researchers had delivered their findings to state and federal prison authorities, and that the Department of Homeland Security had independently confirmed their research. "We validated the researchers' initial assertion… that they could remotely reprogram and manipulate [the ICS software and controllers]," Former National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Director Sean P. McGurk, who left DHS in September, told the Washington Times.
  • Amazon has a new way to buy or rent books. The service, which Amazon seems to be building up as a Netflix rival and even a "Netflix for books," runs at an annual subscription price of $79. The Seattle-based tech firm and online retail powerhouse's Kindle Owners' Lending Library allows Amazon Prime members to borrow one book a month from a specific selection that Amazon said includes "over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers." Amazon said the Lending Library has more than 5,000 titles to choose from. Of course, in order to read the borrowed Kindle books, an Amazon Prime subscriber has to own a Kindle e-reader or have a device with a Kindle app to read the books on -- such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
  • The lost Steve Jobs interview is making the rounds in movie theaters shortly, The 70 minute interview which was done of Jobs in 1995, was originally made for the Triumph of the Nerds documentary. Only ten minutes of the interview was used and the rest was thought to be discarded. It was recently discovered and will be out soon. In it Jobs says that Microsoft has no imagination and ripped off Apple of many features such as the Macintosh fonts used in Microsoft Office.
  • Siri is making Google shake in their boots. Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman and former chief executive, admitted to the U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee that Apple's new Siri personal assistant technology is a "significant development" in search and could pose a threat to his company's core business. The executive took special care to call out Siri as a new development that might supplant Google's search engine.
  • Plans by the hacker collective Anonymous to expose collaborators with Mexico's bloody Zetas drug cartel - a project it dubbed "#OpCartel" - have fallen into disarray, with some retreating from the idea of confronting the killers while others say that the kidnap of an Anonymous hacker, the incident meant to have spawned the scheme, never happened. The apparent climbdown by the group came as one security company, Stratfor, claimed that the cartel was hiring its own security experts to track the hackers down - which could have resulted in "abduction, injury and death" for anyone it traced.
  • Barnes & Noble launched its widely expected tablet Monday, taking on the soon-to-be released tablet from book-selling rival Amazon with a machine that has slightly better specs. "With the Nook Tablet we are delivering the best media device ever created in a portable form factor," said Barns & Noble CEO William Lynch at a launch event at the company's Union Square bookstore in New York. Lynch touted the tablet's screen resolution and battery life as key selling points. The tablet will serve as an e-reader and can stream HD movies and music. The company has signed partnerships with Hulu and NetFlix to provide video content. Users will be able to read magazines, interactive children's books, comic books and use apps from the Barnes & Noble Nook Store. The display is a proprietary design called "VividView," which Lynch said has a clearer display and wider viewing angle than other tablets.
  • Comparing the Nook and Amazon Fire- The most notable differences are the amount of system RAM (1GB on the Nook Tablet, versus 512MB on the Kindle Fire); the amount of integrated storage (16GB versus 8GB on the Kindle Fire); and the inclusion of microSD memory expansion on the Nook Tablet. Unfortunately, the improved specs of the Nook Tablet come at a $50 premium over the $199 Kindle Fire. Then, there are the details that are not easily broken down on a spec sheet. Once you get past the silicon, these tablets are essentially windows into different storefronts and services. When you add up all the e-books, apps, music, games, and videos, there's no question that Amazon has more of its own content offerings to dive into. Its cloud technology infrastructure also happens to be one of the most robust systems in the industry, and its tablet reaps the rewards in terms of improved Web browsing performance, media lockers like Cloud Player, and Cloud Drive file backup. The other big advantage--or, some would say, caveat--to the Kindle Fire is Amazon Prime. In addition to free two-day shipping on most of Amazon's physical product offerings, Prime offers members access to a growing library of Netflix-style on-demand streaming movies and TV shows (a subset of Amazon's full offering), plus the ability to borrow some e-books for free. Of course, all of that "free" stuff comes at a price--$79 per year. Many find it to be the retail deal of a lifetime, but--like Xbox Live on Microsoft's game console--it does mean users need to factor in a yearly premium to fully unlock the value of Amazon's tablet.
  • Microsoft hosted an event in New York today to drum up attention for Windows Phone. The conference marks the start of another major push by the software titan to raise awareness for its mobile operating system. Critics have praised the unique user interface of Windows Phone, but the OS has yet to climb out of the shadow of Apple's iOS and Google's Android platform. Furthermore, Microsoft's relatively staid reputation does little to attract customers already drawn to the cool factor emanating from Apple and Google. "The big challenge is countering the momentum of iOS and Android," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "Going after first-time users, or someone upgrading from feature phones, makes sense because they haven't bought into a platform yet."
  • In early 2012, the latest version of the Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, will come pre-installed on several HTC smartphones, including the recently announced HTC Rezound. HTC UK released the information on its Facebook page, and listed the phones that will receive the upgrade: the HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation XL and HTC Sensation XE, as well as the HTC Rezound, HTC EVO 3D, HTC EVO Design 4G and HTC Amaze 4G.
  • Review of the Droid Razor The good: The Motorola Droid Razr has an attractive, slim, and lightweight design that is also water repellent and scratch resistant. It has a fantastic 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced display, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, Verizon's 4G/LTE speeds, plenty of multimedia features, corporate and government grade security, Webtop functionality, and decent battery life. The bad: The Motorola Droid Razr's large size might feel awkward in small hands; we expected better picture quality from its 8-megapixel camera; and the battery is not removable.

email from listeners:

  • Darcy from Portland asks "I saw you on the news last week and tried to do the msconfig tool but it didn't work for me. Please help."