Archive | October 11, 2012

Password strength

So a while back i found this comic from the famous xkcd writer Randall Munroe.
It really got me thinking, because my password was written on the same basis as his “bad” example. It had symbols, it had big and small letters, and it had numbers instead of some of the letters. 
The main point that he is making, which is also a valid point, is that passwords don’t necessarily need to be complicated, but they need to be long. Like, phrase-long. correcthorsebatterystaples has 27 letters. 
So i decided to change my password to go with something similar to his example. If you want to do that as well, then you’re probably gonna need this:
Because you don’t want to have as a password your favourite movie quote now, do you?
Final tip: find a way to encrypt the name of the website in your password. This way, even if by accident, the guy with the hat gains access to your password on one website, he will have trouble accessing other sites.

What will the next Apple product be? – based on our case study

If you guys remember the Apple study case discussion, at one point we were asked to come up with some product ideas that Apple might come up with in the future. We talked a bit about the iCar and the iHouse and we deemed them somewhat plausible, though they did not really fit the trend of gadgets that we have seen so far from Apple.
A few weeks back, I came across a Wired article that gave me an idea. I think I know one very plausible product that Steve Jobs would have driven for, if he’d still be around. But let me give you some background first, to show you why I think this product would have been such a good fit.
I would like to start with pointing out the main objective of all software and IT firms out there: creating a full virtual environment that is totally controlled by the company. The user is to fulfill all their virtual needs through one channel, one device and one account in a virtual environment where everything works perfectly, as long as it comes from only one company. What we see today with the patent wars are actually attepmts by said companies, namely Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft to eliminate competition in the virtual environment and enforce their positions, trench by trench, in their quest to be our sole provider of everything, from music to social networking to gaming, finance and shopping.
Apple plays it a little bit differently. Ever since the launch of the iPod, which in itself was the advent of a new design era for Apple, Steve Jobs has driven his company to achieve one major goal: give people working gadgets before they even know they need them. The key selling point here, is “working”. In the Apple universe, everything runs smoothly and with no problems. Until the iPhone 5, 99% of applications for the phone, though expensive, would run just like they were supposed to. This is contrary to Android applications, which need to be ported on so many different phones that a lot of problems arise and many users are disgruntled with them.
Let’s remember one key point here: Apple is making gadgets. Yes, the supporting software is top notch and should not be analyzed separately. However, what Jobs always strived to do was a perfectly working physical device.
Moreover, Apple has made a name for itself by taking revolutionary ideas and innovations, and making them work. The iPod came in the midst of a boom of other mp3-players, but its sexy design and enormous capacity were key selling points. the iPhone was not the first smartphone, but it certainly made full use of smartphone technologies. The iPad was not the first tablet, but it’s ease of use was a major bonus.
Note, however, that the last innovation proposed to us by Steve Jobs does not align with the gadgets we were used to. In June 2011, Steve Jobs announced the iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage and computing system. This is a major difference from other innovations proposed by Apple, in the sense that it is all virtual. True, Apple also hosts iTunes and the App Store, but all the game-changing moves that Steve Jobs would boast about were physical devices, no doubt about it. So what changed?
I think that Apple is slowly paving its way to a gadget that, if implemented in the Apple spirit, would be just as explosive as the iPod.
An iWallet.
Please read this before continuing.
A wallet is by no means an easy task to virtualize. The main problem is privacy. Losing it is one thing, but a device can also be hacked, which is a million times worse than stealing it. However, with their close-to-perfect track of making things work, Apple might have the opportunity to bring together our mobile phone, internet banking, payment system, discount and membership cards, ID and even keys into one single device.
The device needs not be bigger than the current iPhone. Our phones already have internet banking, so this is already settled. Paying through your smartphone is something that, as Christina Bonnington suggested, works even today. Bundling discount and membership cards with this is not that big of an issue either through the same technologies, or maybe with near-field communication technologies. And since we’re talking about NFC, why not assume it will work on our house door?
The main problem, though, is getting a government to accept a virtual ID. I wonder if this would be possible in the next 10 years… 

E-commerce, don’t forget the disadvantages

Nowadays everybody orders some products online. It varies from daily food till spare parts for your car. The benefits of online retail are multiple and I will not elaborate them anymore here on this blog. If you are interested in the top ten advantages of online retail I recommend you to check out to following website.

But I want to write about the disadvantages and risks which include online shopping, l have listed some disadvantages and risks, please feel free to add another one in a comment.

Online shopping consist of online payment. Of course a lot of firms are specialized in protecting and securing of financial transactions, examples of those companies are PayPal and Ideal. But a lot of cases are known of people whom hackers stole their money or credit card data during performing an online financial transaction. Often the bank refunds the stolen money but this doesn’t mean the risk of stealing money is neutralized. So always check if you are in a safe environment (https). Are you not, never make a financial transaction and still if you are in a https and you do not trust the website for 100%  you should abort the financial transaction.

How do you know  for sure if the web shop are honest entrepreneurs who will send you the product immediately after receiving your money? Always google the name of the web shop for some reviews. If they are trustfully you can continue your transaction. If you do not find any reviews, think twice before making a financial transaction!

And as last but not least

Fierce competition for the small and medium enterprises;
Online retailers doesn’t require to  have a store/shop located at an A location with high rental cost per square meter.  They meet their customers online so they are able to build a large distribution center at a C location. This results in much lower rental costs and thus in lower prices. Since the products are mostly comparable, clothing will remains clothing, the competition will be hard for the traditional entrepreneur with a shop in the city center. Besides the cost, is the online retailer able to sell 24 hours a day. The traditional retailer is only able to sell when he opens his store.  Some entrepreneurs faces bankruptcy and will disappear out of the city center. Leaving behind unemployment, disillusionment and increases vacancy rate in the city center.  What kind of entrepreneur is willing to take the risk to do business in the city center when the online  retailer has so much advantages?








Microsoft goes hardware

Although Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, does not see Microsoft as one of the Big Five of most influential technology companies in the industry (AllThingsD), I personally see Microsoft being the underdog. Windows Phone 7 and 8 are completely different in terms of user interface. Anyone who has played witch such a phone knows it works well, intuitively and looks great. I know in our class at least one of us has one. Also the new desktop OS Windows 8 is different, and looks great. It combines tablet, phone and desktop in the experience. Microsoft also recently announced Surface, with which they combine software and hardware again, just like they did with the Xbox. The also added a keyboard into the “Smart cover” of the tablet! Microsoft is combining the strategy which brought them so far, licensing, with the tight integration of software and hardware.

As Steve Balmer wrote in the annual shareholder letter: “There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,

David Zax, journalist for the MIT Technology Review, is pointing out that Microsoft is going Apple. We are also seeing that Google is going Apple, although still licensing other manufacturers to build the Nexus 7 tablet. Is the way Apple is doing it the right way? Does the customer benefit from a closed ecosystem? The user experience might be better, but the user is “locked-in” by the manufacturer.

What are your opinions on this move in the industry?