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.

Review: McAfee Total Protection

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

These days, you have a lot of choice when it comes to securing your devices. Both free and paid options are available for users on a number of platforms. One the latter choices is McAfee Total Protection which is a multi-platform solution that protects you for any and all threats whether you use a Mac, PC, smartphone, or tablet. To fully test this, I set this up on both my Macs, my Windows 10 computer, an iPhone, and an Android phone.

On all platforms, the product was very easy to install and manage from a web based console, and it had very minimal impact to the performance of whatever device I tried it on. Plus it found every test virus that I threw at it. But some of the features varied from platform to platform. For example: 

  • PC: McAfee Total Protection includes LiveSafe includes a two-way firewall and a vulnerability scanner that proactively maintains the latest Windows updates. There are parental controls so you can block content that you might find objectionable, limit the time of sessions on the computer and receive reports that help you monitor online behavior. The app will flag any malicious sites returned in search results and it also does not let intruders reach your PC over a Wi-Fi network. The PC version also repairs any problems that might arise in the Windows registry and it includes a file shredder that destroys deleted files so that file recovery software will not be able to find and resurrect them.

  • Mac: McAfee Total Protection antimalware, antispyware and antiphishing, LiveSafe scans incoming email and instant messages and can repair and remove infections from files without damaging the files. LiveSafe supports Safari and will color code web search results to warn you about malicious sites.
  • On smartphones and tablets, the application takes care of malware and spyware. And whether you are using iOS or Android, there are utilities that allow you to recover from a lost or stolen device by locating and tracking it on a map and wiping its data remotely. Though, iOS and Android do the latter natively. Thus I wonder how valuable that is. Also, there isn’t really a whole lot of threats on the iOS platform. Thus I wonder how valuable that is. 

McAfee Total Protection is a subscription based service that is $50 a year. You get to protect an unlimited amount of devices. However, you also get 5 licences for True Key by Intel Security which Recognizes your face or fingerprint, secures your passwords, and instantly logs you in to your websites and apps across your devices. If using a free applicaiton isn’t an option for you, McAfee Total Protection is an option that you should look at regardless of what platform you’re on. 

Well…. This Has Been A Rough Few Days

Posted in Commentary on October 24, 2016 by itnerd

You might be wondering why I haven’t been posting entries on this blog for the last few days. In short, I have had a number of things that have diverted my attention:

  • Two Wednesdays, I had my condo flood. Long story short, it was a bit of a nightmare as my wife and I had to battle to make sure that the flood which started in the kitchen didn’t go anywhere else. The good news is that it didn’t. But bad news is that the lower cabinets need to be replaced due to heavy water damage. The root cause were some people several floors above us who did some really stupid things incuding pouring grease down the drain. Because of that, I have ensured that they are paying for the repairs to the condo.
  • A week ago, I broke a contact lens. That doesn’t sound like a big deal. But for me it is. I have an eye disease called Keratoconus which in my case really distorts my vision. In my case, this condition is treated by using Rigid Gas Permeable contact lenses. These contact lenses are custom made for the shape of my eyes. With them, I have better than 20/20 vision. Without them, I have very limited vision. I cannot drive, and I have massive problems using a computer for any length of time. I had to wait a week to get new lenses custom made as I didn’t have a set of spares. Now I have a set of spares on order so that this doesn’t happen again.

Hopefully, the bad luck is over for me and I look forward to returning to regular blogging. To that end, expect to see a ton of reviews over the next two weeks. Look for reviews for products from Asus, Mazda, McAfee, Netatmo, Roku, & ZTE among others as well as a travelogue to boot.

Stay tuned!

How To Check To See If Insecure I0T Devices On Your Network Are A Threat

Posted in Tips with tags , on October 24, 2016 by itnerd

Last week, there were some very high profile attacks that utilized insecure Internet Of Things devices such as cameras, DVR’s routers, printers and the like. The quesiton is, how do you know if you own any of these devices? Bullguard Security has created an IoT Scanner to help you to find out. Head to the site, click the scan button, and IoT Scanner will tell you where you stand. I recommend that you do the quick scan and the deep scan to ensure that you’re safe. 

Now, if IoT Scanner comes back saying that your network can be breached, that means some device that’s connected to your Wi-Fi network has an open port that makes it accessible from the internet. You should either look to close the open ports if you can, update the firmware of the IoT device in question if you can, or turn if off you can’t.

Remember, this is a starting point to make sure that your network is secure. But you should really make sure that you do simple things such as updating firmware and software to make sure that your network stays secure. 

An Update To My Stories On Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Updates Via Hyundai Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 24, 2016 by itnerd

This part weekend, I was on the Greg Carrasco Show on AM640 radio talking about living with the 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited over the past year. You can hear the audio from that show here and you can read about my first year with the Hyundai Tucson here. But if you scroll to an hour into the show, you’ll hear someone with a Hyundai Santa Fe complain about not being able to get an update to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for free to his vehicle. You’ll recall that I’ve covered this at length. Here’s a quick recap:

  • This story started when Hyundai USA started offering free upgrades to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Canadians were left out of the loop.

  • Then Hyundai Canada kind of threw cold water on Canadians ever getting these upgrades.

  • This was followed by a tip from a user on the Hyundai Forums that MnSOFT which is the part of Hyundai that makes the software for their infotainment systems had an paid update to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that was rolling out. That of course set off a firestorm among Hyundai owners in Canada who wanted a free update just like the Americans, not to mention Ford and FCA owners in Canada among others who get functionality like this for free.

  • That led me to speak with Chad Heard who is the Sr. Manager for PR at Hyundai Canada to get the factsAt the time I spoke to him, he came across as being very forthright. For example he admitted that what MnSOFT did in terms of releasing updates that brought Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to some Hyundai vehicles caught Hyundai Canada off guard. He also expressed that they were working on bringing this functionality to vehicles somehow as well.

  • At the end of August, changes were made to the Hyundai Canada website that indicated that Apple CarPlay was coming to 2017 Hyundai vehicles and there appeared to  be an update path being developed. When I reached out to Chad Heard who is the Sr. Manager for PR at Hyundai Canada, he said that Hyundai Canada has in dealer showrooms today six 2017 models (Elantra sedan, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL, Elantra GT, Sonata (not hybrid), and Tucson) that are built from the factory with Android Auto. Three of those (Elantra GT, Sonata (not hybrid), and Tucson) are also equipped with Apple CarPlay. They are prioritizing 2017 model year vehicles. Within that a software update for existing, sold, 2017 model year Android Auto-only models (Elantra sedan, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL) currently with customers to bring them Apple CarPlay functionality is something that is being worked on. But there was no timeline that he could speak to. 

Earlier today, I reached out to Mr. Heard again. Here’s part of what he said:

Our priority remains 2017 model year Hyundai vehicles and that has to be our singular focus for now. Google, Apple, and Hyundai needed more time to modify and verify the software for Canadian market vehicles relative to the U.S., so the introduction of the technology was implemented for 2017 model year vehicles. It’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll have an announcement involving an update/patch for previously sold 2017 model year vehicles before the end of the year and I should know more about this in early November.

So at this point, it looks like there might be some sort of announcement coming in the next few weeks for owners of 2017 vehicles. That’s positive for owners of those vehicles. If you own a Hyundai vehicle made earlier than model year 2017, you’ll have to see if there’s an upgrade path for you. I will continue to monitor this to see what is announced and report it on this blog as soon as I get it.