You Should Update To iOS 10.1 RIGHT NOW

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 26, 2016 by itnerd

Why? iOS 10.1 closes a major security threat. The threat was found in this note posted by Apple. Specifically:


Available for: iPhone 5 and later, iPad 4th generation and later, iPod touch 6th generation and later

Impact: Viewing a maliciously crafted JPEG file may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed through improved memory handling.

CVE-2016-4673: Marco Grassi (@marcograss) of KeenLab (@keen_lab), Tencent

Let me translate: If you happen to get an e-mail with a picture crafted to take over your iDevice and if you view it, you’re pwned. If you go a website and you view a picture crafted to take over your iDevice, you are pwned. No user interaction other than simply viewing the picture is requried. Now, the person who found it is Maro Grassi of Tencent’s Keen Lab which is known for finding these sorts of threats. Thus you should really pay attention to this and download iOS 10.1 as soon as possible to protect yourself as it will be a safe bet that evil doers everywhere will be leveraging this threat to attack those who do not upgrade. 

GM & IBM Team Up To Create OnStar Go

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 26, 2016 by itnerd

General Motors and IBM today announced a partnership to bring the power of OnStar and IBM Watson together to create OnStar Go, the auto industry’s first cognitive mobility platform. Starting in early 2017, OnStar is expected to give millions of GM drivers the ability to connect and interact with their favorite brands. The platform will deliver personalized content through the dashboard and other digital channels supported by the OnStar Go ecosystem to make the most of time spent in the car.


Combining OnStar’s industry leading vehicle connectivity and data capabilities with IBM Watson APIs will create experiences that allow drivers and passengers to achieve greater levels of efficiency and safety. These experiences could include avoiding traffic when you’re low on fuel, then activating a fuel pump and paying from the dash; ordering a cup of coffee on the go; or getting news and in-vehicle entertainment tailored to your personality and location in real time.

The GM/IBM partnership will expand the existing OnStar AtYourService offers and deals platform by launching new capabilities supported by OnStar Go with IBM Watson. These capabilities will be available in more than two million 4G LTE connected vehicles and millions of GM vehicle brand app-enabled mobile devices in the U.S. by the end of 2017.

With the customer’s consent, Watson will learn the driver’s preferences, apply machine learning and sift through data to recognize patterns in their decisions and habits. This information will allow brand and marketing professionals working with IBM and OnStar to deliver individualized location-based interactions that directly impact their target audiences. Companies in retail, fuel, hospitality, media and entertainment, restaurants and travel and transportation and more can use OnStar Go to build individualized mobile, in-vehicle experiences for a growing population of connected drivers that opt-in.

The new cognitive mobility platform enables brands to design Watson-enabled consumer experiences. Examples of potential uses include:

  • OnStar Go taps Watson Personality Insights and Watson Conversation APIs to remind a working father to pick up diapers and formula at the pharmacy a few miles before his exit, so he won’t have to leave the house again once he gets home.
  • The platform employs Watson Tradeoff Analytics to give a traveling foodie dining recommendations from celebrity chefs when driving in a new city.
  • Watson Retrieve and Rank, used by OnStar Go, lets the driver know that their order is ready for pickup at a nearby retail store and one of the store’s employees will load their purchases into the car.

“IBM and GM are changing the whole notion of where valuable, daily rituals occur.  The combination of IBM Watson and industry-leading OnStar connectivity will enable vehicles with intelligent branded skills and services to empower drivers and passengers,” said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM iX. “Simply put, OnStar Go with IBM Watson transforms time wasted in the car into time well spent.”

ExxonMobil, Glympse, iHeartRadio, Mastercard and Parkopedia are the first brands to join the platform.

  • ExxonMobil will use the cognitive mobility platform to help drivers quickly locate Exxon and Mobil retail fuel stations, recommend the best fuel and lubricant product for their vehicle, and authorize fuel payment from inside the vehicle. Consumers can even pay for a car wash or, when away from their car, get notified when they are low on fuel.
  • As a location technology partner in the cognitive mobility platform, Glympse enables consumers and businesses to manage customized real-time location sharing with anyone on any device.
  • iHeartRadio will use Watson insights from OnStar Go to curate personalized experiences that leverage on-air personalities and local content from radio stations across the U.S. Drivers will be invited to share information from their calendars, social graph, location, music preferences and more, to create dynamic and locally relevant entertainment experiences only available through the power of radio.
  • Mastercard will enable drivers and passengers to safely make simple, secure and seamless payments for goods and services from the comfort of their cars. By integrating the security of Mastercard tokenization platform — Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES) — and Masterpass digital payment service within OnStar Go, Mastercard will enable consumers to complete transactions using credit or debit cards stored in their Masterpass wallets.
  • Parkopedia will provide detailed parking spot information — including opening hours and up-to-date prices as well as booking and payment capabilities. Drivers find, reserve and pay for parking all at the click of a button.

The cognitive mobility platform was designed and developed by IBM iX in conjunction with OnStar, using iX’s expertise in experience and mobile design. iX is also working with GM to design OnStar’s intuitive, touch screen interfaces for consumers on the go. The Weather Company, an IBM Company, will provide rich weather and location data to support personalized targeting and warnings about driving conditions.

GM began the connected vehicle revolution 20 years ago with the launch of OnStar and has more connected vehicles on the road than any other automaker. By the end of 2016, GM expects to have 12 million OnStar connected vehicles on the road worldwide.

IFIP Disaster Recovery Conference to Explore ICT-based Solutions

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 26, 2016 by itnerd

As Haiti struggles to recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Matthew, disaster recovery experts around the world are working to improve the systems and methods used in combating natural disasters and to raise awareness of how technology can help.

The global ICT professional association, IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing), recently established a Domain Committee on Information Technology in Disaster Risk Reduction (ITDRR) to bring together some of the world’s leading experts in this area to share their knowledge and expertise.

The ITDRR will stage its first Conference on Information Technology in Disaster Risk Reduction (ITDRR 2016) from 16-18 November, 2016 in Bulgaria,,  providing a forum for the latest research and developments in risk reduction and disaster recovery.

The Conference General Chair, Professor Dimiter Velev, said the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters has highlighted the importance of being prepared for such events.

Professor Velev delivered a keynote speech at last month’s 2016 International Training Workshop on Natural Disaster Reduction – Natural Disaster Risk Modeling and Applications, held at the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction in Taiwan. He discussed ways of combining advanced information technologies such as Social Media, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Cloud Computing for implementing viable solutions for fighting disasters.

Prof Velev also shared IFIP’s commitment to advancing thinking around how technology can support risk reduction and disaster recovery strategies, introducing the new Domain Committee and discussing its priorities and initiatives.

He invited all attendees of the workshop, which was focused on the Asian region, to take part in the upcoming IFIP conference, which will take a more global perspective and is expected to attract attendees from around the world.

Review: Roku Ultra

Posted in Products with tags on October 26, 2016 by itnerd

I’m going to repeat something that I said when I reviewed the Roku Express. Roku is serious about ruling the streaming space. To that end, they’ve rolled out a new suite of products to ensure that happens. At the upper end of that suite is the Roku Ultra. Here’s how it looks against the Roku 3:


The Roku Ultra on the left is a relatively small, square-ish device, at 4.9 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches. But it is bigger than the Roku 3 on the right. The extra size required me to shift a few things around on my TV stand to fit it. But I am likely the exception and not the rule on that front. 

This is the streaming player for someone who wants a player that does everything. By that I mean the following:

  • Support for 4K video and support for HDR video which means you get top quality video.
  • 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless to ensure smooth streaming if you have the right wireless router.

  • 10/100 Base-T Ethernet is availabe for those who prefer a cable over wireless.

  • An advanced remote that supports private listening and non-line of sight control. There’s also a set of headphones in the box to help you with your private listening needs. This feature is really cool if you want to watch a movie and not disturb anyone else. 

  • Digital audio connector with Dolby audio support to ensure top quality audio.

  • USB connectivity to allow you to play media that resides on a USB stick or hard drive. 

  • A microSD slot for additional storage.
  • A quad core processor to drive all of this efficiently.

One other thing that it doesn’t come with is a HDMI cable. That’s very odd as the Roku Express which is a much lower priced streaming device does come with an HDMI cable. But assuming that you have a HDMI cable, it is trivially easy to set up. Do not discount that as that as you have to have a product that is easy to set up if you want to win.

Roku’s operating system has not changed significantly in the past few years. But it really doesn’t need changing as it works quite well. Users will be able to navigate it very easily. Speaking of navigagtion, you get the full suite of features. Universal search is there and so is the Roku Feed. You also get voice search and headphone jack  on the remote which works exceptionally well to provide you the ability to listen to content privately. If you happen to lose your remote, it has a speaker that you can use to help find it. You also get all the channels and streaming options that you expect from Roku which makes it a compelling choice to stream whatever content you want as the Roku platform is all about giving you the choice to get the content you want from your preferred source. There’s also the ablity to play games on the Roku Ultra. Though the games are decent, I think it is safe to say that they won’t make you give up your XBox. 

What does all this go for? It’s $139.99 CAD. True, you’ll have to factor in the cost of an HDMI cable which quite frankly should have been in the box. But having said that, the Roku Ultra has to be the streaming player to beat. It’s got every feature needed to match or beat its main competion. If you want a streaming device, this is the one to look at first.

CRTC Fails Miserably To Address Compliance Issues With netTALK

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 25, 2016 by itnerd

The last time I wrote about netTALK, the VoIP provider who in a dispute with a company called Iristel, and as a side effect to that, they took the phone service of thousands of Canadians offline for several days. In my last story on this topic, Jeremy Cooperstock wrote a letter to the CRTC in regards to netTALK being a non-compliant provider according to the CRTC and CCTS, and the fact that netTALK failed to deliver on their promise of one year of free service. Mr Cooperstock got a reply from the CRTC via Patrick Desjardins who is the Information Officer of the CRTC. Here it is: 

Dear Mr. Cooperstock:

As discussed on Friday over the phone, the issue in question is not within the CRTC’s purview. Should you wish to pursue the matter, we would advise you to seek legal representation.

So… At this point you have to ask what good is the CRTC? After all, thousands of Canadians had their phone service offline for days. And it’s not like the fact that netTALK is a non-compliant telco is a new discoveryThere’s no way that should be acceptable to the CRTC, but clearly it is. And that quite frankly an #EpicFail. Canadians deserve better from their telco regulators. One wonders if better will ever come.

Now when it comes to netTALK, my advice remains the same. They are a non-compliant member of the CCTS. From what I can tell, they have never made a penny. Plus they don’t follow through on their promises. Avoid them at all costs as they are a telco that won’t be around in the long term. That will only hurt you in the end.

I will continue to monitor this for any new developments from either the CRTC or netTALK.

IFIP President to Raise Concerns About Artificial Intelligence at the World Standardization Assembly

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 25, 2016 by itnerd

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems will be the focus when Professor Mike Hinchey, president of the global ICT professional association, IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing) presents at this week’s ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-16) in Tunisia.

Professor Hinchey, who has worked with AI systems for over 15 years in his capacity as a consultant to NASA’s Space Program, will explore the question of, “How do we trust AI systems?”

Held every four years, the ITU WTSA defines areas of study for ITU-T, the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector, which helps to develop and promote global standards for critical telecommunications infrastructure. This year’s event includes a half-day session entitled, “ITU-T 60th Anniversary Talks on AI”, with Hinchey one of three keynote speakers.

Professor Hinchey, who is also Director of Lero, the Irish software research centre, Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Limerick and former Director of the NASA Software Engineering Laboratory, continues to consult to NASA’s Space Program. He applies AI in his work with swarm technology used in unmanned space exploration.

He said in today’s rapidly developing era of driverless cars, AI-enhanced shopping sites like Amazon and algorithmic trading on financial markets, many important decisions are made without human involvement.

While recognising the enormous investment being made in AI systems like driverless cars, Professor Hinchey said the jury is still out on whether these systems will ever be fully implemented.

He also questioned where to draw the line on preservation of life. “Of course, a self-driving vehicle will seek to protect its occupants, but what happens if the choice is between saving the person in the car or saving several people on the street. How does a robot decide without the benefit of human judgement?”

Professor Hinchey said more research is needed to understand the nuances of AI systems as their influence in our lives continues to grow.

ITU WTSA-16 runs from 25 October to 3 November in Yasmine Hammamet, Tunisia. For more information, visit

BlackBerry Announces DTEK60 Smartphone

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 25, 2016 by itnerd

BlackBerry today announced the latest in its series of most secure Android smartphones, DTEK60. As part of BlackBerry’s transition towards a device software licensing strategy – which allows it to focus on putting “the smart in the phone” – the DTEK60’s hardware is manufactured by TCL and comes equipped with the trusted security software BlackBerry is known for. It is now available for sale at ShopBlackBerry in North America and Europe and will roll out to other regions in coming weeks.

DTEK60 is the second device in the DTEK series of Android smartphones. It provides enterprises and organizations with full access to the Android ecosystem and higher-end specs to help power productivity. It comes equipped with all the security features that BlackBerry’s Android OS devices have, including best-in-class security patching and the DTEK by BlackBerry app that allows users to monitor and control their privacy on their phone.

Features available on the DTEK60 include:

  • Fingerprint Sensor: For quick and convenient turn on and unlock, the BlackBerry Fingerprint Sensor provides added security for unlocking your phone, accessing Password Keeper and making purchases – including Android Pay. Add up to five fingerprints which are fully encrypted with security you can trust.
  • BlackBerry Intelligent Keyboard: DTEK60 has a smart keyboard designed to learn from users and increase typing accuracy and speed. It provides word suggestions as you type and includes up to three languages, letting you flick them into place for faster conversations.
  • BlackBerry Hub: This unified inbox is an irreplaceable tool for consolidating all of your messages in one place – whether it is email, calendar, social or phone calls.
  • Customizable BlackBerry Convenience Key: With the press of a button, the Convenience Key provides quick access to your most used applications and more.
  • Stunning Screen: DTEK60 has a 5.5” Quad HD display, capable of displaying 16 million colors. The screen is made of scratch-resistant glass and features a specialized oleophobic coating to protect against smudges and fingerprints.
  • Expandable Memory: With support for micro SD cards up to 2 TB, DTEK60 provides the flexibility to add affordable and hot-swappable memory to download, install, capture and share as your needs evolve.
  • Dazzling Camera: DTEK60 is engineered to deliver professional-looking photos with an 8MP front facing camera and a 21MP auto-focus rear camera. Plus, features like Phase Detection Auto Focus and a dual-tone LED flash are designed to help the camera focus instantly and accurately for a blur-free, realistic looking photos, even in low light.
  • Long Lasting Battery:  DTEK60 packs a 3000 mAh battery with enough power to withstand up to 24 hours of mixed use.

The device also comes equipped with the security and productivity features that past Android for BlackBerry devices have included:

  • Rapid Security Patching: BlackBerry has a record of being the quickest to deliver security patches, setting the bar in incident response and patch management to protect your device from malicious threats. 
  • DTEK by BlackBerry App: Enables users to automatically monitor their OS and apps to know when their privacy could be at risk and to take action to improve it. The DTEK app also monitors applications and notifies you when someone is: taking pictures or videos without your knowledge, turning your microphone on, sending a text message, or accessing your contacts or location.
  • Hardware Root of Trust: BlackBerry uses a proprietary technique that adds security from the start, allowing for the tracking, verification and provisioning of the DTEK60.
  • Secure Boot Process: Starting with the root of trust, each stage of DTEK60’s secure boot chain must first verify that the next component is fully intact before proceeding, ensuring your device has not been tampered with since the last restart.
  • Android OS hardening: BlackBerry provides additional security patches, improves upon Android’s native Address Space Layout Randomization and reduces the number of system applications and services running with elevated permissions. This makes it more difficult for attackers to compromise the OS.
  • FIPS 140-2 Compliant Full Disk Encryption: Protects your private information, like pictures or bank information, from being stolen if you were to lose your phone.
  • Android for Work and Google Play for Work: Allows for fast, simple and secure integration with an enterprise environment as well as easy access to numerous rich business and IT-managed apps.
  • Full Enterprise Mobility Management Support: DTEK60 supports BlackBerry’s powerful suite of EMM applications and secure productivity solutions, including: WatchDox by BlackBerry for secure file-sharing, Good Work for business-class email and collaboration tools, Strong Authentication by BlackBerry as a VPN solution, SecuSUITE for Enterprise for secure voice and instant messaging communication, BBM Protected for encrypted messaging and BES12 for secure cross-platform management.

Availability and Pricing

Starting today, DTEK60 is available to purchase from in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands for $499 USD ($650 CDN, €579 and £475). Availability of DTEK60 in additional global channels and countries will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Customers who order DTEK60 from will receive a complimentary accessory bundle.  US and Canada customers will receive a DTEK60 Soft Shell and Rapid Charger for free and customers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will receive a DTEK60 Pocket Case and Rapid Charger for free. This offer expires on November 8th at 11:59 pm PST.