Saturday, June 04, 2005

Federal report warns of RFID misuses - New York Times (RFID Abuse; An Unintended Consequence of Convergence?)

Declan McCullagh, Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: May 27, 2005
Radio frequency identification is becoming increasingly popular inside the U.S. government, but agencies have not seriously considered the privacy risks, federal auditors said.

In a report published Friday, the Government Accountability Office said that 13 of the largest federal agencies are already using RFID or plan to use it. But only one of 23 agencies polled by the GAO had identified any legal or privacy issues--even though three admitted RFID would let them track employee movements.

'Key security issues include protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data and information systems,' the GAO said. 'The privacy issues include notifying consumers; tracking an individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes and predilections; and allowing for secondary uses of information.'"

Stitch Says: I predict we're going to be hearing lots more about this topic. Both knee jerk reactions and fear mongering and then, more critically the first conspicuous RFID security failure and then the next and the next. If this technology is widely deployed with personal information, the target is too rich to not be hit and hit hard. Beyond the fact that the data is enticing, the notoriety gained from the first black hat hack of a complex RFID data system will be a worthy goal for the serious ill-intentioned hacker. Personally, I am concerned about the lack of security information supplied by Chase coincident with their Blink Card Announcement which I discussed here. Not to mention the Real ID plan that really should terrify anyone that values any true measure of personal privacy. (If you're unfamiliar with the Real ID issue, you owe it to yourself to go here and learn the facts).

Although I honestly believe there's incredible utility inherent in RFID devices, it seems to me critically important that basic security needs are addressed and serious measures are undertaken for any incarnation of RFID that either enables the capture and aggregation of individual information (and then only with knowledge and consent), or that allows financial transactions to be initiated via an RFID enabled device. What do you think?
Declan McCullagh, Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: May 27, 2005
Radio frequency identification is becoming increasingly popular inside the U.S. government, but agencies have not seriously considered the privacy risks, federal auditors said.

In a report published Friday, the Government Accountability Office said that 13 of the largest federal agencies are already using RFID or plan to use it. But only one of 23 agencies polled by the GAO had identified any legal or privacy issues--even though three admitted RFID would let them track employee movements.

'Key security issues include protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data and information systems,' the GAO said. 'The privacy issues include notifying consumers; tracking an individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes and predilections; and allowing for secondary uses of information.'"

Stitch Says: I predict we're going to be hearing lots more about this topic. Both knee jerk reactions and fear mongering and then, more critically the first conspicuous RFID security failure and then the next and the next. If this technology is widely deployed with personal information, the target is too rich to not be hit and hit hard. Beyond the fact that the data is enticing, the notoriety gained from the first black hat hack of a complex RFID data system will be a worthy goal for the serious ill-intentioned hacker. Personally, I am concerned about the lack of security information supplied by Chase coincident with their Blink Card Announcement which I discussed here. Not to mention the Real ID plan that really should terrify anyone that values any true measure of personal privacy. (If you're unfamiliar with the Real ID issue, you owe it to yourself to go here and learn the facts).

Although I honestly believe there's incredible utility inherent in RFID devices, it seems to me critically important that basic security needs are addressed and serious measures are undertaken for any incarnation of RFID that either enables the capture and aggregation of individual information (and then only with knowledge and consent), or that allows financial transactions to be initiated via an RFID enabled device. What do you think?

The Cell of the New Machine: (Convergence at the "Cellular" Level

The Cell of a New Machine
By Erick Schonfeld, May 18, 2005
Related Articles
· Can Multicore Chips Save Moore's Law?
· Sony's Trojan Horse
· Multicore Processors Mean Multi-Headache Pricing
· The Amazing Sony-Man

IBM (IBM), Sony (SNE), and Toshiba engineers have spent four years and more than $400 million toiling in secret on a computer chip that, if they are right, will usher in a dramatic new era of electronics...

Stitch Says: Pretty strange to be "wowed" by a chip these days. But my jaw is still on the keyboard having just read this Business 2.0 piece by Erick Schonfeld. If the claims are accurate, and I have no reason to believe they're not, Sony has a strategy that will fundamentally alter the playing field of the "digital, networked home".

Gaming has always been province of power-hungry tech. No where else do so many high demand applications come together in such a performance sensitive environmentmont , nor one where an experienced user can discern almost instantly whether she's tethered to an albatross or on the wings of an eagle. A gamer given a chance to play with a "Cell" powered machine will think they've found nirvana. Forty (yeah, you read it right 40!) times faster than the chip that powers Sony's PS2, IBM's new chip is capable of 256 billion operations (256 gigaflops) per second.

I won't bother to recant the rest of the specification in the original article, it's worth reading for yourself, but I will comment on the direction Sony's strategy portends; a centralized "brain" that supports multiple networked devices operating either independently, or when required, in concert. In a nutshell, Sony's vision, courtesy of Computer Entertainment Chief Ken Kutaragi, is a true symphony of convergence. A bold and broad stroke to redefine the computational environmentment of the home and reshape it with a more fluid and dynamic standard. Or as Keven Krewell, editor-in-chief of the Microprocessor Report says: "This is a battle over who owns the living room." The winner will define the next stage of computing.

While I am not sure that this statement a given, I do believe that this advance, and others like it will drive the rate of convergence ahead at an even greater rate and with that advance will come like advances in unthered technologies that can benefit from massively increased computing power served up on demand over the network; whatever network that might happen to be.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this one; please comment.

The New York Times > Technology > Free Internet Site: A Portal to AOL's Future? (is AOL ANTI-CONVERGENCE?)

The New York Times > Technology
By SAUL HANSELL and GERALDINE FABRIKANT

Published: June 3, 2005

Last month, America Online convened a meeting broadcast on the Web to its 14,000 employees. The purpose was to show off the free Internet portal that it is about to introduce at AOL.com, the third attempt in three years to offset AOL's steady loss of subscribers."

Stitch Says: Have these guys gone mad? Once one of the most valuable media franchises on the planet, AOL is slowly bleeding to death on subscriber at a time. A move to attempt to become a full blown portal, replete with advertising revenues as a driver is like coming to the prom after school's out for the summer. The troubling thing is, AOL has a huge potential lead in the one area that is really heating up and the one area that is positively going to matter to the consumer in five years. I'm not going to spell it out for the company unless they come asking, but I'd love to hear the thoughts the readers of this blog have about this issue; what is AOL's advantage and why don't they see it? How could AOL take the lead in an emerging market? And why don't they see that this move is the worst and not the best thing they could do with the equity of their brand and the value of their subscriber base?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mobile Pipeline | Converged Mobile-Landline Networks To Grow, Researcher Says: Convergence Confusion?

Mobile Pipeline | Converged Mobile-Landline Networks To Grow, Researcher Says: "Converged Mobile-Landline Networks To Grow, Researcher Says



By Mobile Pipeline Staff Mobile Pipeline

About six percent of the revenues that telecom operators collect by 2009 will be from services that converged mobile and fixed, or landline, services, according to a study released Wednesday by Pyramid Research."

Stitch Says; not sure I understood this correctly. As written the article maintains that users are substituting landlines for mobile voice access, but that seems to be in direct opposition to what I've seen and heard, that is, that mobile voice costs have dropped to the point where mobile voice is replacing wired voice...I can see how broadband which is still faster wired, particularly with fiber or new VDSL2 could replace (in the near term) wireless data, but I haven't seen wireless data from the provider to the customer ever supplant wired, have you? Someone help me here...I don't get it...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Skype Video? Is Skype Converging into a Dominant Next Generation Communications Company?

Spymac :: World :: Magazine: "Skype brings video calling to users
06/01/2005 09:41 | Judy Westcott
Skype has partnered with Dialcom to enable video conferencing using the Skype P2P engine.

Users can download a free plug-in from Dialcom, the Spontania Video4skype, which allows any users with a webcam connected to their PCs and a Skype account and broadband internet access, to make video-calls using the Skype client. Skype is the first third party VoIP system to use Dialcom’s Sponania video plug-in."


Stitch Says: Haven't tried this yet, but plan to right away. Having been involved in selling video telephony at BackBone Communications in Los Angeles I have experience with dedicated video telephony and am interested to see how this compares. Stay tuned for a future report on this channel!

Seiko Epson shows off e-paper; Yoga and Digital Converge? (not quite)

Seiko Epson shows off e-paper: "Seiko Epson shows off e-paper

By Peter Rojas

Seiko Epson e-paper

Still gonna be a couple of more years before they commercialize this, but Seiko Epson announced at this year’s SID International Symposium that they had a working prototype for a 2-inch e-paper display that’s just 0.375mm thick and has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels."

Stitch Says: A pipe dream of mine since I was a kid, I've always wanted digital paper.There's's simply something so incredibly cool about a "screen" that you can roll up... Note quite ready for consumers, but there's clearly (pun intended) been progress in this area.

ZyXEL WiFi Phone Wins Award: Convergence Minus Cellular?

ZyXEL WiFi Phone Wins Award: "ZyXEL WiFi Phone Wins Award

By samc on General News

ZyXEL Communications, announced today that its Prestige 2000W v2 VoIP Wi-Fi Phone won the 2005 SUPERQuest Award for Most Promising New Technologies of 2005 at SUPERCOMM, the world's premier annual exhibition and conference for communications service providers and private network managers which opens next week, June 6-9, in Chicago."

Stitch Says: It's official, cellular providers need to be downright afraid. The incredibly rapid proliferation of WiFi phones that don't connect to cellular networks but support an array of IP functions including email and centralized administration could mean a much more substantial bottom line impact on cellular provider's revenues than anyone expected. The main defense cellular providers have is the ubiquity of their networks vs. Wi-Fi hotspot distribution, but the heavily populated areas; you know, the ones with the greatest concentration of business users that could benefit from mobile VoWLAN are in the cities, not in sticksville.

Considering business rapid embrace of and equally quick migration to VOIP in the workplace and you have a clear indication of their sentiments toward the cost and ease of administration of VOIP. Add to that office-extension-like behavior of the phones and you have a recipe for massively scaled adoption of this technology.

The consumer is sure to follow. With $39 handsets, and nearly free calling (and free via Skype), how long before kids stop nagging their folks for more minutes and figure this one out for themselves?

I can't speak for Sprint or Verizon or Cingular, but if I could, I'd be cozying up to WiFi and VOIP companies in no short order.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mobile Search Is Getting Hot: Is Google Going to Miss the Boat as Computing and Mobility Converge?

Mobile Search Is Getting Hot: "Mobile Search Is Getting Hot

By Om Malik on Unwired

Earlier this month I had attended the Google Factory Tour, and one of the things which wasn’t addressed by the Google brain trust was the opportunity beyond the PC. There was no clear direction for capitalizing on the mobile boom. Yahoo, on the other hand is making it a top priority. Overture has started offering paid-listings on Yahoo’s WAP site. In addition, Overture is going to be working with a major UK mobile carrier and launch a mobile search offering, though its not clear what it will be."

Stitch Says: The Pondering Primate has paid ample attention to this topic and posted not a few remarks that are well timed and aimed at Google. Is the king of the Internet seach world listening? Om Malik is questioning their intentions and it seems that as Ferris Beuhler once said, "the world moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it"...maybe Google should heed the advice...

Rumors Converge at HTC: can we have some real spec's please?

Will the real HTC Wizard please stand up?: "Will the real HTC Wizard please stand up?

By Peter Rojas

HTC Wizard

Remember yesterday how we mumbled something about how some semi-reliable info surfaced about that new HTC Wizard Pocket PC Phone? Yeah, well, maybe that info wasn’t quite reliable enough, because a second set of specs, along with a new pic, have turned up. And while there are some discrepancies between today’s specs and yesterday’s specs (today’s list the HTC Wizard as running on Windows Mobile 5.0 and having quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, a 2.8-inch LCD screen, 64MB of RAM, 128MB of ROM, a 2.1 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, 802.11b WiFi, and a miniSD memory card slot), the most significant difference/improvement is that today’s pic shows the phone with a mini QWERTY keyboard that slides out horizontally. No way of saying for sure which is the real Wizard (must… resist… cheap… AD&D… pun…), but there’s definitely something going on here; we just don’t know precisely what yet."

Stitch says; okay, time for a mini rant about the perfect phone. I want one. I need one. I demand one and I am tired of waiting! The problem is that for me that phone doesn't seem to exist! Perfect would be Quad Band GSM, PDA Functionality, Java/Midp2, 262 color display of at least 320x208, WCDMA, EDGE, WiFi (or two of the three), standby of at least 72 hours, talk of at least 5, IRDA, Bluetooth and USB compatible, with the ability to charge the phone via USB, good handwriting recognition (UIQ for Sony Pxxx is perfect as far as I'm concerned), I could take or leave the qwerty keyboard, but it's nice for most people, touchscreen (of course), support for at least 1 gig of memory, 1.3 megapixel camera (minimum), full email capabilities, ability to view and edit MSFT documents and PDF files, decent sound and MP3 support, oh yeah, and really running a Symbian OS so that there are a huge array of applications as well as the ability to develop my own if I want to...anyone comes up with this exact combataion (and I have to say the specifications on the HTC above if they're not vaporware seem close), let me know. Preferablly for sale at less than 600 bucks...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Convergence Reverso?

textually.org: "Ericsson Pictures Fixed-Line Sales As Growth Market

After cementing its position as the world's leading wireless network equipment maker, Telefon AB LM Ericsson aims to make a comeback in its fixed-line business, according to The Wall Street Journal.

'Ericsson's push follows other moves by companies such as France Telecom SA and Telecom Italia SpA to integrate their fixed and mobile units. They have added to expectations for convergence, under which fixed-line and mobile core networks are combined into a single system that will enable new revenue-generating services. Combined systems will also be cheaper to operate.'"

Stitch says: sooner or later it all has to come down. And at least for the foreseeable future, the cost and bandwidth for data transport at the core is cheaper via terestrial means. The move makes perfect sense as more cross carrier data transfer and more data rich server to mobile transactions are initiated.

textually.org: Cell-phone-like radio wave to communicate with your prostate: More medical convergence

textually.org: Cell-phone-like radio wave to communicate with your prostate: "Cell-phone-like radio wave to communicate with your prostate

prostata.jpg File under below the belt.

This is a nice example of Italian technology that can be useful, patented and sold abroad.

The probing device emits radio waves similar to the cell phones that are reflected by the body, returning a signal that indicated the health state of the tissues.

Stitch says: I always knew they'd come up with another reason to keep a cell phone in my pocket. More seriously, though, is the concept that we've just scratched the surface of the possible new uses for the technology that can fit in a package the size of a box of cigarettes, and with future advances that are reducing the size of storage and microchips, that may well be a box of matches before long.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Incompetent users give IT managers brain strain: User Support and Headaches for IT Managers Converge

can't handle the IT

By INQUIRER staff: Wednesday 25 May 2005, 15:31
THERE ARE over two million Brits working from home but that's posing a huge problem for IT departments, a report claims today."

Continuing: Executives, said Touchpaper, have mobile devices "that they lack the technical skills to operate correctly".

Added to that, claimed the firm, working from notebooks or PCs at home posed problems such as family members tampering with their machines, the end result being a loss rather than a gain in .

The biggest problems are security breaches and virus protection, which 90 per cent and 85 per cent of the IT managers said were the biggest problem.

Stitch Says: If you've ever supported a group of non-technical executives, you'll relate to this utterly; If you're CEO has a "blueberrry with blacktooth" (I swear I am not making that up), you've had this headache. Even the most carefully constructed user interface, and the simplest security requirements (ASP protection for viruses, automated firewalling, etc) is no match for the CEO with no patience. The issue magnifies itself exponentially when that same executive gets a enabled PDA and suddenly "discovers" the mobile Internet.

Digital Wallet: convergence that might portend a security nightmare?

News Story - NCBuy: "Ga. Credit-Card Holders 'Blink' Cards
By SORAYA NADIA McDONALD
Associated Press Writer

About 400,000 credit-card holders in Georgia will be the first in the country to use a new technology that allows them to pay for items by waving their card near a terminal instead of swiping it through a machine.

Residents of Atlanta and 160 other cities in the state will test drive the new 'blink' cards, which JPMorgan Chase & Co. will begin mailing to its customers June 1."

Stitch Says: Love the concept; who does't hate waiting an extra minute while someone counts thirty three cents in pennies out on the counter at 7-11? But I've still not seen any dialog related to security features in these new cards. While blue bugging and blue snarfing might cause more aggravation than actual damage, you can bet that people will "sniff" these broadcasting credit cards and take damaging advantage. The IT community would love to hear how the security features on these cards will protect the funds (and information) of their owners.

Sensor allows remote pulse taking: Convergence in medicine

Sensor allows remote pulse taking: "Sensor allows remote pulse taking

Hitachi first? Maybe not

By our Health Correspondent: Wednesday 25 May 2005, 11:31
HITACHI HAS made a remote wrist sensor that will send data about pulse rates to remote locations."

Stitch Says: people will be well served by innovations such as these that allow remote monitoring and care for patients. Applications for this kind of technology have far reaching implications, from improved quality of life for the seriously or terminally ill to entirely new business models that could come to life as a direct result. Sufficient advances in remote patient care and monitoring and we'll see the rise of the "HOME" (Human Operational Monitoring Environment)...a "medical NOC" with a fortuitous acronym which permits the ill to stay in their own home without sacrificing the availability of life saving intervention in the event a dramatic change in the patient's condition goes unnoticed by family or home care nurses.
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