Sunday, August 31, 2008

CSI Stick Snags Data From Your Cell Phone

Earlier in the week I wrote about the massive security hole the iPhone (since then Apple has said it will be fixed in September, which is an update that will be full of fixes, such as these others).

Even without that hole, Pareben's CSI Stick (CSI stands for Cellular Seizure Investigation, not Crime Scene Investigation) makes things even more easier for those wanting to hack your info, at least for those with Motorola or Samsung phones.

As I said before, while some will discount the amount of information stored on a cell phone, as phones get smarter and smarter, more and more information is stored on them. And the information stored on a corporate smartphone is often considered sensitive by companies.

The CSI Stick is about the size of somewhat larger flash drive, and costs $199, but you also need either DS Lite or Device Seizure, two applications also by Pareben, to read the data. DS Lite costs $99; Device Seizure costs $895.

Device Seizure supports reading SIM cards with a SIM card reader, included in the (still additional) Device Seizure Toolbox ($749).

According to the site, CSI Stick is used as follows:
Paraben's CSI Stick is THE portable cell phone forensic and data gathering tool. Paraben's CSI Stick opens the world of digital forensics to anyone needing to gather forensic grade data from cell phones. The process is simple:
  • Select the colored cell phone tip for the cell phone model to be acquired
  • Plug the portable power adapter into the USB end of the CSI Stick
  • Plug the CSI Stick into the cell phone
  • Select the data you wish to extract using the slider switch
    • Logical Copy - A logical copy gets all available active data (including text and multi-media files)
    • Text Filter - The text filter copies all SMS and text messages, phonebooks, and call logs
    • Multi-media Filter - The multi-media filter copies all available pictures and movies
    • Physical Copy - A physical copy gets all memory on the device (Please Note: This process can take many hours to complete)
  • Push the acquire button and wait for the completion indicator
  • Plug the USB end of the CSI Stick into a PC to be read by Paraben's Device Seizure or DS Lite
Paraben's CSI Stick acquires data that can only be read and analyzed in Paraben's Device Seizure or DS Lite. These advanced forensic analysis tools enable you to view, search, and report on data extracted from handheld devices. The CSI Stick currently supports certain Motorola and Samsung phone models with more manufacturer support coming soon.
Naturally the iPhone is on the short-list of models to be supported.

Unlike USB ports on a laptop (you may recall some companies went to the trouble of glueing closed those ports to eliminate the use of flash drives, and potential leaks), you could not glue shut the data ports on many phones, as they charge through the same ports.

With stuff like this around, does anyone still want a wallet phone?

More HTC Dream Photos Leak

Google's Android platform, and its first incarnation, the HTC Dream, which is rumored to be announced on Sept. 17th, has had more photos leaked. And the photos very much seem to confirm the FCC drawings we've already seen, the more detailed drawings also leaked, and the video which was leaked long ago.

The pictures were first posted on a Chinese language forum.

One thing for sure in the pictures: both the slight tilt noted to the bottom portion of the phone, and the T-Mobile branding, confirmation of the first Android phone on a smaller carrier.

Click the small images below to see the phone in its full glory.

Aardvarks Get More Spam Than Zebras: Study

Email spam got you down? Is your first name Aaron? A study by Cambridge University security expert Richard Clayton shows that the first letter of your email address has a lot to do with the amount of spam you receive.

The study (.PDF), titled "Do Zebras get more Spam than Aardvarks?" analyzed traffic logs from the U.K. ISP Demon Internet. The data analyzed was from the period Feb. 1st - March 27th of 2008.

In the study, Clayton noted that those whose local part of their email address (this is the portion to the left of the "@") begins with "A" receive about 50% spam and 50% non-spam. Clayton called this group aardvarks. When the local part begins with "Z" (call them zebras) about 75% is spam.

You're probably saying, eh? This makes no sense based on what you said earlier. Ah, but it does.

The reason more of the zebra email is spam is because so few actual email addresses start with "Z". Thus, the real portion of email is smaller. If you only look at legitimate email addresses, the picture changes: 20% of email addressed to zebras is spam, 35% of aardvarks is spam.

Clayton's theory over the reason for this difference also makes sense:
At some point, it occurred to the spammers that if was a valid email address then perhaps was valid as well, so they started to combine local parts (to the left of the @) with other domain names. This method of creating email addresses to attempt delivery to is called a dictionary attack (or sometimes a Rumpelstiltskin attack).
In other words, with apologies to my father-in-law and Zbigniew Brzezinski, there simply aren't that many Zbigniew's around, so they are pretty safe.

It's not so simple as "A" vs. "Z," as shown in the graph above. Email addresses with number starting characters receive even fewer spam emails. Give you any ideas?

Clayton's advice?
Perhaps aardvarks should consider changing species — or asking their favourite email filter designer to think about how this unexpected empirical result can be leveraged into blocking more of their unwanted email.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Google Readies App Store-Like "Android Market"

As the gPhone or Android is Google's answer to Apple's iPhone, so is the Android Market the answer to Apple's App Store. Unlike the App Store, which did not debut until a year after the initial release of the iPhone, the Android Market will be ready, at least in beta form, when the first Android device ships (the HTC Dream).

Of course, Apple had no SDK for its iPhone until just recently, so that kind of explains things, doesn't it?

To qualify a product for the Market, a developer must complete three steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe the content and publish it.

As I said, however, the Android Market may only be in beta form at the launch of the first phones. As such, it may only support free applications.

In a blog post, Google's Eric Chu said:
Developers can expect the first handsets to be enabled with a beta version of Android Market. Some decisions are still being made, but at a minimum you can expect support for free (unpaid) applications. Soon after launch an update will be provided that supports download of paid content and more features such as versioning, multiple device profile support, analytics, etc.
Why call it a Market rather than a Store? Google actually gave a great deal of thought to that.
We chose the term "market" rather than "store" because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available. Similar to YouTube, content can debut in the marketplace after only three simple steps: register as a merchant, upload and describe your content and publish it. We also intend to provide developers with a useful dashboard and analytics to help drive their business and ultimately improve their offerings.
This wasn't an unexpected move. At the Google I/O Conference in May, Google said that it would provide a central "repository" of Android applications.

Blackberry Bold to be Launched Soon on AT&T. When? Depends Who You Ask

According to reports from two different sources, the Blackberry Bold is about to be released on unsuspecting AT&T users. However, when is an open question.

According to Gizmodo, the date is Sept. 12th, and the Bold will sell for $299. While Gizmodo gives a rating of 95% probability on this happening, it's interesting that the leak came from AT&T store employees.

Not exactly the highest-placed or most credible sources.

On the other hand, the Boy Genius Report has a less satisfying, but possibly more realistic date of Oct. 2nd.

BGR says that their info is from a "high-placed" source. That's probably more credible than a store employee. And while Oct. 2nd is more than a month away, it might give AT&T time to figure out the 3G issues that appear to be cropping up on the Bold.

They probably don't want to release another 3G-sucking phone to their network until the iPhone issues are ironed out, either.

Comcast: Metered Usage, But Where's the Meter?

On Thursday Comcast announced a 250 GB cap for their broadband service. I applauded the fact that they finally gave some transparency to their "hidden" cap, which had always snagged a few users, without telling them exactly how much their use should be, but then I realized: where's the meter?

Time-Warner Cable is currently trying out metered service in Beaumont, TX. Their caps are lower, but they do provide one thing: a page you can go to in order to check your usage.

And what's interesting is the response you get if you ask Comcast about any plans for a meter:

Charlie Douglas, who is Director of Corporate Communications for Comcast's Online & Voice Services, and who wrote me back yesterday when I asked about the cap, says the following:
There are numerous free or fee-based meters that are widely available on the Internet to anyone who wants one.
Ah, OK. So if we want to know our usage so we don't go over your cap, we have to pay for that as well?

He's right, you can find meters that you can install on your PC that track your usage. But, ahem, how many of you have only one PC at your home using the Internet? Perhaps some, but plenty of you use a router and have a one or more PCs for your children, a PC for yourself, etc. etc.

Not that easy to track usage if you have to track them across a tool on each PC. I couldn't find anything that could do that. So I guess if I really wanted to track my usage, I'd be pulling out a calculator and manually adding up stats across different PCs.

As I said earlier, the odds of people running up against this cap right now are small. 250 GB is pretty generous. But as more and more "attractions" such as Netflix, Olympics on the Go, and pop up, we Americans will inevitably use more and more bandwidth each month.

So Comcast, at least give us a tool so we know when we are going to hit the cap, will ya?

Tethering Deal Between Apple and AT&T Rumored

You'll remember NetShare, the iPhone tethering app that showed up on the App Store a couple of times before vanishing, seemingly forever. The advantage of a tethering app for users is that they could use their iPhone as a modem for their laptop or PC, in a pinch.

The disadvantage for the carrier is all the additional bandwidth required, quite naturally.

A seemingly Steve Jobs-ish email (meaning terse and noncommittal) in response to a user's question seems to point to a possible tethering agreement between AT&T and Apple.

Currently, the Terms and Conditions for AT&T's plans seems to include language that specifically forbids tethering (under the Prohibited and Permissible Uses section):
"Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to-computer accessories, Bluetooth or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose."
There is that little clause about "unless specifically designated for tethering usage," though. Is Apple trying to get such a plan set up for its iPhone?

According to Gizmodo, here's the exchange between the two:

AT&T offers data plans for BlackBerry that include tethering for an additional $30 per month (a total of $60 per month for the BlackBerry+tethering plan).

It seems ludicrous that the same thing is not offered with the iPhone. I understand the desire to prevent tethering with the current data plan, but I am willing to pay more money to allow tethering! With such an advanced device, why can I not do so?


We agree, and are discussing it with ATT.


Sent from my iPhone
As we know, occasionally an email to Jobs is responded to in the above fashion: terse, and probably from a rep and not Jobs directly. However: "sent from my iPhone" tends to make it a little less credible to me, as that implies it was actually sent from his personal device. Not really likely.

I'd rather see the 3G issues fixed once and for all before a tethering plan is complete. Who wants to tether in EDGE?

Still, why not have such a plan? What about you readers? Would you pay extra for a tethering plan for your iPhone?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yahoo!'s Mash Gets Smashed to a Pulp

Yahoo!'s Mash, which we wrote about earlier, has joined its earlier attempt at social networking, Yahoo! 360 in the trash heap. Of course, 360 hasn't died quite yet, despite being targeted for "transition" by Jerry Yang late last year.
... we intend to transition Yahoo! 360 to a more integrated Yahoo! “profile” experience ...
An email sent to users of the service, which never left invite-only mode, details the closure:

Warburton also wrote a blog post regarding the shutdown, adding more details about any profile info users might have:
All of the content on your Mash profile with the EXCEPTION of your profile photo, nickname, age, sex and location (if you’ve provided this information) will be unavailable starting September 29th, 2008. If you wish to save any of the information that’s currently available to you on Mash, we strongly recommend that you return to immediately and copy the content that you wish to save onto a separate document.
There were a few comments posted to Warburton's blog entry, asking "why?" Take a look at this Quantcast graph, which shows that site traffic has dropped below 2K (unique visitors) a month. That's two thousand. 'Nuff said?

AT&T Source Details iPhone Dropped Call Issues, But Still Leaves Questions Unanswered

Here's another explanation for the problems that the iPhone 3G has been suffering, as detailed by an unnamed AT&T source. Once again, as with some of the other "explanations" and "theories" we have been given to this point, it still doesn't make complete sense.

According to the source, the issue, supposedly fixed in 2.0.2 (and labeled as "bug fixes") was all about "power control" on the device. Note that in the following, phones are referred to as "UE" for user equipment, and the base transceiver station towers as "Node B."
In UMTS, power control is key to the mobile and network success. If the UE requires too much downlink power then the base station or Node B can run out of transmitter power and this is what was happening. As you get more UEs on the cell, the noise floor rises and the cell has to compensate by ramping up its power to the UEs.

If the UE power control algorithm is faulty then they will demand more power from the cell than is necessary and with multiple users this can cause the cell transmitter to run out of power. The net result is that some UEs will drop their call. I have seen the dropped call graphs that correspond to the iPhone launch and when the 2.0.2 firmware was released. The increase in dropped calls were the result of a lack of downlink power.

The power control issue will also have an effect on the data throughput, because the higher the data rate the more power the Node B transmitter requires to transmit. If the UEs have poor power control and are taking more power than is necessary then it will sap the network’s ability to deliver high speed data.

This is one of the reasons why AT&T has been sending text messages to users to persuade them to upgrade to the 2.0.2 software. In a mixed environment where users are running 2.0, 2.0.1, and 2.0.2, the power control problems of 2.0 and 2.0.1 will affect the 2.0.2 users

It is not the network that is fault but the interaction of the bad power control algorithm in 2.0 and 2.0.1 software and the network that is at fault. The sooner everybody is running 2.0.2 software the better things will be. Having seen the graphs the 2.0.2 software has already started to make difference.
If you didn't bother reading the whole explanation, according to this unnamed source, the problem is that the iPhone with 2.0 and 2.0.1 software sucks too much power from the cell towere. And, there are still plenty of 2.0 and 2.0.1 users out there, sucking up said power. If they all updated to 2.0.2, everything would be happy, so they say.

OK, it actually sounds good. But here's an unanswered question: if this is the case, why are other 3G phones on the same tower running just fine? As I've said previously, I can have six or more other 3G phones of the same type within inches of the iPhone (meaning on the same tower) and they do just fine (and I don't mean bars; I mean receiving calls, synching emails, etc. etc. while the iPhone can't even make a call). Why aren't they affected?

Additionally, my experience yesterday, when I was at a hospital and had 3 phones with me (including my iPhone), all dropped into EDGE, yet on EDGE the iPhone wouldn't make a call or browse, while the other two phones were happily receiving emails (and I could make calls on them as well).

These unanswered questions make me doubt this is the full answer to the problem. It's a great explanation, but there are too many holes left unplugged.

Here's the key: Apple, if you would just open up and tell us with an official statement what's going on, all this speculation would end. But that's too easy, right?

Online Photo, Email Save Baby's Life

A photo posted to the Internet, a sharp-eyed trans-Atlantic friend, and email have combined to save a baby's life.

Megan Santos and Madeleine Robb first met through chat on a pregnancy Web site,, when they were both expecting. Despite the thousands of miles separating them (Santos is in Florida while Robb is in the England), the two became friends, and continued communicating after the births of their daughters, Rowan Santos and Lileth Robb, who were both born on August 8th, 2007.

But when Santos uploaded a picture of Rowan to her BabyFit page, it caught Robb's attention, because of a white shadow in the baby’s left eye (above). It reminded Robb of something, she wasn't sure what, but the word "cancer" sprang to mind.

Robb did research, and learned that the white area could be a symptom of a cancer called retinoblastoma.

On Thursday, Robb was interviewed by Meredith Vieira on the Today Show. Robb said:

"Well, obviously I didn’t want to scare her unnecessarily. But then I weighed out the options. If something wasn't wrong, then no real harm was done. If something was wrong, then I really had no option, so obviously I had to tell her, really."

Robb sent an email on Aug. 7th to Santos, who acted quickly and set up an appointment with Rowan's doctor. The next day, Aug. 8th, Santos was referred to an ophthalmologist, who determined after a series of tests that Rowan did have a cancerous tumor growing on her left retina.

Rowan will unfortunately lose her left eye, but at least she has a chance at life. Retinoblastoma is considered to be one of the most common inherited cancers.

Megan Santos has called Madeleine Robb a hero, and when asked about it on the Today Show, Robb replied:
"I suppose if that's how they feel, then that's what I am to them. I think anybody in my situation would have done the same thing, if they'd known what I knew, and had the opportunity to say it. So, I suppose I'm a hero in a certain sense, but in another sense I think I'm just, you know, rather normal, and I care about people."
Watch the Today Show interview here:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Comcast Announces 250 GB Broadband Cap

For years now people have complained about a "hidden" Comcast cap. Reports indicate that today Comcast is set to confirm the rumors over an upcoming 250 GB cap. Tell me: do you prefer knowing, or not knowing?

While this is bound to raise hackles among consumers, compare this to Frontier's recently implemented cap: 5 GB. Ouch, that's pretty much nothing. With companies such as Disney and Netflix pushing consumers to use more bandwidth, we seem to have an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

The "Day of Reckoning," is Oct. 1st, as Comcast announced.
We've listened to feedback from our customers who asked that we provide a specific threshold for data usage and this would help them understand the amount of usage that would qualify as excessive. Today, we're announcing that beginning on October 1, 2008, we will amend our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) available at and establish a specific monthly data usage threshold of 250 GB/month per account for all residential customers.
The good thing is there's no mention of overage fees. It seems this just quantifies the "hidden" number that Comcast never clarified before. That said, it seems most won't run into this, as most people didn't run afoul of the "hidden" value before and get their service terminated. However, the new FAQ does detail possible "punishment."

If a customer surpasses 250 GB and is one of the top users of the service for a second time within a six-month timeframe, his or her service will be subject to termination for one year. After the one year period expires, the customer may resume service by subscribing to a service plan appropriate to his or her needs.

No mention of any other DMCA-related add-ons. To be honest, I've been wanting to see clarity around their "hidden" cap for some time.

Of course, as I pointed out, more and more uses for broadband are being created, and thus, as time goes on, some may actually run into this cap. Probably not now, but someday. Something to think about.

Bloomberg: Oops, Sorry, Steve Jobs is Not Dead

If you happened across a Bloomberg release at 4:27 PM EDT Wednesday, you might have gasped. Apple stock might have crashed. But no, Steve Jobs is not dead.

Bloomberg updated its obituary information on Steve Jobs yesterday, and accidentally sent it out on the wires as well. It quickly retracted the story, thought without giving any details, saying:
"An incomplete story referencing Apple Inc. was inadvertently published by Bloomberg News at 4:27 p.m. New York time today. The item was never meant for publication and has been retracted."
And that quickly lowered the blood pressure of many. It should be noted that obituaries of this sort are frequently kept around for reference, just in case. It's not unusual, except in cases of very young people having their obituaries filed, such as Britney Spears. AP admitted they already had an obituary prepared for her during her meltdowns last year.

The obituary does serve as a reminder over the worries people have had over Jobs' health, however, since his gaunt appearance at the Apple WWDC earlier this year.

The story was obviously a mistake, as it started:


Steve Jobs's birthday: Feb. 24, 1955
BIO UPDATED AS OF 2008, by Connie Guglielmo
Oops, do we now know it was Connie who goofed? There is a long list of people to contact in case of Jobs' death included in the text, with people such as Jobs' ex-girlfriend Heidi Roizen, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, Steve Wozniak (natch), Al Gore, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and on and on.

You can read the full obit at Gawker. It does at least give insight into how these things are prepared. And, if nothing else, Jobs got to read his obituary, something most people don't get to do.

More Antenna Tests: iPhone Antenna Still in the Clear

You'll recall I wrote that a Swedish newspaper took an iPhone to a lab for tests on its antenna. However, noting that the iPhone used in the tests had been performing well, the paper asked for some volunteers with misbehaving iPhones, so they could repeat the test.

Peter Planstedt and Stephanie Semic gave their iPhones to the paper to test. The repeat tests showed the same results; none of the three tested phones had problems related to their antennas.

According to the paper:
Charlie (Orlenius) tests Peter's iPhone a little extra and checks the TIS value also at frequencies on the outer edges, to see if the 3G connectivity problem shows up there. But the results are good there as well. The phones of Peter and Stephanie have no problems with the 3G communication in the test chamber. They send and receive signals in a fully normal manner. They do not disconnect earlier than the other we have tested when the signal becomes weaker.

- There is nothing unusual or strange with the performance of the antennas. If these mobiles do not keep the connection with the network like they should, the reason is not the antennas or how they are mounted, says Charlie.
Of course, it doesn't rule out issues in other areas of the iPhone. Users around the world are still complaining, and not about speed, as Wired's test focused on, but about dropped calls, missed calls, and no service at all when other phones work fine.

Here's another real-life example: I was in a hospital yesterday getting some tests. Along with my iPhone 3G I had a Motorola Q9h and a Nokia. All the phones dropped into EDGE in the building.

However, when I tried to make a call with the iPhone, it failed twice. I also received a call that was dropped. Meanwhile, my Q9h and Nokia were working fine, even getting emails while the iPhone couldn't even browse.

So it seems the issues are not limited to 3G, but network sensitivity to either 3G or EDGE. All based on empirical evidence mind you, though not in a lab. Hopefully, there will be some solution from Apple soon. I love the phone, but am growing weary of all the issues. Seeing a problem in EDGE mode as well: makes me lose hope.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 Now Available

Want to be on the bleeding edge of Web surfing? Well, if you want to take a chance on what looks to be a pretty buggy Beta 2, Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is now available for download.

I can tell you, one of the new features, Crash Recovery, might get used quite a bit by some users. I sure did.

In fact, a post on the Small Business Server (SBS) blog a few days ago warned:
If you decide to test IE8, please keep in mind that IE8 is still a Beta product and it may have compatibility issues with SBS 2003 and SBS 2008. We are working closely with the IE8 product development team to make sure that IE8 works with the SBS 2003 and 2008 Remote Web Workplace and Companyweb applications.
But the excitement is all about the new features, right? Other new features, thosein Microsoft-designated category of “Reach Beyond the Page.” as noted in the IE 8 Beta 2 Reviewers’ Guide, include:
  • Accelerators, described by Microsoft as follows:
  • Tired of cutting and pasting information from one website to another for everyday tasks? Now there’s a better way. Accelerators give you ready access to the online services you use everyday—from any page you visit. Now you can simply select some text and then click on the blue Accelerators icon. For example, you may be interested in the location of a business featured on a webpage. In the past, you would need to copy the address from the webpage, navigate to another the webpage for a mapping service, and paste in the address. With the “Map with Live Maps” Accelerator in Internet Explorer 8, you can get an in-place view of a map displayed directly on the page.
  • InPrivate, which includes Browsing (AKA "porn mode"), Blocking and Subscription features. I wrote in more detail about this earlier.
  • Instant Search, described as follows:
  • Now you can type a search term and see real-time, relevant search suggestions from your chosen search provider and your browsing history. Click on a suggestion at any time to immediately execute the search without having to type the entire word or phrase.
  • SmartScreen Filter blocks sites that are known by Microsoft to be unsafe. Of course, this functionality is duplicated in a lot of add-ons --- and I can see the false positives and the fallout over it.
One of the things I've been wondering about since hearing about the InPrivate Blocking feature, BTW, is the fact that "IE automatically blocks sites that have “seen” you across more than ten sites."

That sounds like once you've been "seen" across ten sites by a domain related to an ad network, IE8 would block that domain, meaning you wouldn't see ads from that network any longer. While many of us would love this, it sure would wreck ad revenue, so one has to wonder about it.

In fact, Mike Zaneis, vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau was concerned enough to say, "It has the potential to undermine the economies of the Internet."

On the other hand, you'd assume Microsoft would set up a whitelist to prevent accidental ad blocking. In that same article linked above it was reported that Microsoft sent screenshots of web pages showing no ad blocking with or without InPrivate Blocking enabled, so perhaps this is just a false alarm.

Microsoft did say one worrisome thing, at least for advertisers and site owners:
"InPrivate Blocking was never designed to be an ad blocker, though there may be ads that get blocked."
Still interested? You can download it from several places, including:


"Houston, We Have Virus Lift-Off ..."

Surprisingly, this apparently isn't the first time this has happened to NASA. They haven't, to this point, been using antivirus software on the laptops astronauts take into space with them.

A lesson for us all? Yep.

However, the virus wasn't something that would bring the ISS crashing to Earth. The W32.Gammima.AG worm is pretty old: discovered last August. Since it targets passwords to various online games, and the lag from the ISS would be pretty bad, it's safe to say that the astronauts weren't doing anything that the virus would find inviting.

NASA believes the virus may have infected the laptops via a flash drive one of the astronauts used. This certainly makes sense, as the virus propagates by using removable media, according to Symantec.

And, the space agency plans to put some security measures in place for the future. Makes sense, particularly now that this has been publicized. Can you imagine a hacker really trying to bring down a space station. Nah, not likely, but it could compromise the ability of the astronauts to play Diablo 3 via their LAN in the future. Photobucket

Major Security Hole Discovered in the iPhone

For you CEOs and Enterprise users: hold on before saying the iPhone is perfect for business. A major security hole has been found in the iPhone, and though most will say "so what," corporations who want Enterprise devices would say "whoa!"

A forum post detailed the ease with which you can get past the password lock. Assuming the phone is locked:
  • Slide to unlock
  • Tap emergency call
  • Double tap the home button
You are now in your Favorites. But that's not all, since you now also have access to your Address Book, the dial keypad, and your voice mail (unless you password protect that, which many do not).

Now, some will say, big deal, they can see your Contacts. Well, for an supposedly Enterprise-ready device, this would be a big deal. Corporations generally don't want the contacts on their phones available for anyone to see (Paris Hilton sure doesn't, if you remember that famous incident) and for most, this would be a deal-breaker.

But there's more bad news.
  • Tap on the blue arrows next to the names to get a look at the full info in a Favorite.
  • Tap an email address in a contact to gain access to Mail.
  • Tap an URL in your address book and get full access to Safari.
  • Tap "Send Text Message" to gain access to all your SMSes.
Basically the phone is nearly totally unlocked. As I said, for most people: not an issue. For the Enterprise: a big issue.

There is a workaround: remap the Home button. To do this:
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click on General.
  3. Click on Home Button.
  4. Remap the button.
Suggestions have been to remap it to either "Home" or "iPod," as then the double-click of the Home button will take you back to the unlock screen or the iPod screen.

Expect a 2.0.3 update soon, or at least expect this to be fixed in 2.1 (with that 3G fix, I hope!).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

U.K. Ad Authority Bans iPhone Ad

The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an ad for the iPhone after complaints that it was misleading. No, it's not about "twice as fast, half the price." Instead it's about the browsing prowess of the iPhone.

The ASA received two (yes, only 2) complaints about the ad, which said the following:
"You never know which part of the Internet you'll need. The 'do you need sun cream' part? The 'what's the quickest way to the airport' part? The 'what about an ocean view room' part? Or the 'can you really afford this' part? Which is why all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone."
The complaints were definitely from techies and not regular consumers: the complaints were that the iPhone does not support Flash or Java, which appear on many websites, and therefore the claim that "all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone" was false.

The response from Apple was that the aim of the ad was to highlight the benefits of the iPhone in being able to offer availability to full internet websites, as opposed to other phones which "offered access to WAP versions or sites selected by service providers."

ASA's Decision (emphasis mine):
The ASA noted that Java and Flash proprietary software was not enabled on the iPhone and understood that users would therefore be unable to access certain features on some websites or websites that relied solely on Flash or Java. We noted Apples argument that the ad was about site availability rather than technical detail, but considered that the claims "You'll never know which part of the internet you'll need" and "all parts of the internet are on the iPhone" implied users would be able to access all websites and see them in their entirety. We considered that, because the ad had not explained the limitations, viewers were likely to expect to be able to see all the content on a website normally accessible through a PC rather than just having the ability to reach the website. We concluded that the ad gave a misleading impression of the internet capabilities of the iPhone.
Well, they are right, but it sure is picky. You can watch the video and judge for yourself below:


WGA Notification Update for Windows XP Professional: Much Like Vista SP1's

Leveraging the lessons learned from the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) changes made in Windows Vista SP1, Microsoft is planning to make several changes to the way that WGA works on Windows XP Professional, which it calls the most pirated version of the product.

In a post at the Windows Genuine Advantage blog, Microsoft said:
This release will be offered to the most pirated edition of Windows XP and therefore to users with the highest likelihood of having a non-genuine copy, those using Windows XP Pro. We're also offering it to those using editions based on Pro code such as Tablet and Windows Media Center, but plan to narrow the offering to Pro in future releases.

With this update to WGA Notifications in Windows XP, we've implemented a couple of related features that draw on the notifications experience we designed for Windows Vista SP1. After installing this version of WGA Notifications on a copy of Windows XP that fails the validation, most users will discover on their next logon that their desktop has changed to a plain black background from whatever was there previously.
You can see the way this looks above. A user can change the background back, but every 60 minutes the screen will change back to the above. That's just the start of Microsoft's nagging.

A translucent "ask for genuine Microsoft software" logo along with a "You may be a victim of software counterfeiting" message will also appear above the system tray. You can't interact them, but this is a plus and a minus, as it won't prevent the user from continuing to use the software.

As with the changes for Vista's WGA, this is all about bugging the user, er, victim of a counterfeit copy until they get a genuine copy.

BTW, don't misunderstand: Microsoft's comment about XP Pro only means that the changes to WGA will apply to that OS and OSes derived from it, but the current WGA experience will still persist on XP Home.

HTC Dream (Android G1) Drawings Revealed?

Leaks, leaks, leaks. Assuming this one is true, we now know pretty much what the HTC Dream, codenamed the T-Mobile G1, will look like. Or rather, we pretty much have confirmation of what the HTC Dream will look like.

According to the AndroidGuys blog, the above diagram (click to enlarge) is the HTC Dream. What brings more credibility to this is the similarity between the above and the FCC diagrams we saw earlier, as well as the leaked video.

The phone's back prominently displays the Google logo, showing off the well-known brand name.

Details on the more are as follows (naturally, take everything with a grain of salt):
  • 528Mhz Qualcomm 7201 processor
  • Data kit for USB connectivity in the box
  • 64MB RAM
  • 128MB ROM
  • 1GB MicroSD card (it comes with a MicroSD card?)
  • 5 Row QWERTY keypad
  • Trackball
  • Dedicated camera button
  • 3.1MP camera (no flash) 2048 x 1536
  • Video playback files - H.264, streaming, 3GPP, MPEG4, and Codec 3GP
  • Dedicated YouTube Player
  • Audio playback files - MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, MPEG4, WAV, MIDI, REAL AUDIO, OGG
  • Wallpaper supports JPG, BMP, PNG, and GIF
  • Speakerphone (mono, natch)
  • Ringtones (MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA)
  • HTTP, WAP Push, xHTML
  • Bluetooth (class 1)
  • Picture Caller ID
  • SMS and MMS support
  • POP, IMAP, and SMTP, AOL, and GMAIL email
  • AIM, MSN, YAHOO, and GTALK messaging
  • 3G, Quad Band (850, 900, 1800, 1900)
  • 802.11 b/g
  • UMTS (1,4), HSDPA, SUPL
  • 1150mAh battery
  • Screen size is 3.17″ with HVGA (480 x 320)
  • Dimensions: 117 x 55 x 16 mm
  • Weight: 5.6 oz.
  • Sync capable with Google Calendar
  • Downloadable content via Android Marketplace
  • Google Streetview with built-in compass
People are as excited over this device as for the iPhone --- well, nearly. One big downer is the carrier: T-Mobile, not a major force among carriers. Reports are that the device will be announced and available for pre-orders by existing customers on Sept. 17th, with availability on October 13th.

Psystar Plans Countersuit Against Apple

One day after fellow clone maker Open Tech put itself up for sale at the bargain-basement price of $50K, Psystar indicated it would respond to Apple's lawsuit with its own countersuit, alleging that Apple engages in anticompetitive business practices.

Psystar says that Apple's tying of the Mac OS to Apple-labeled hardware is "an anticompetitive restrain of trade," according to attorney Colby Springer of antitrust specialists Carr & Ferrell. Psystar is requesting that the court void Apple's EULA, and is asking for unspecified damages.

Apple's EULA says:
"You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so."
which is a pretty straight-forward and simple statement.

While many looked askance at this company when it first emerged, since then it has shipped computers and reviews of them have even been done, showing the Open Computer to be a decent, not great, but definitely cheaper alternative to Apple hardware.

Apple has 30 days to respond to Psystar's countersuit, but is typically reticent so far.

Personal Banking Information Sold on eBay, for $64

It's not the first time something like this has happened, and it won't be the last. What's worrisome is that it probably happens more often than we know, and we just don't hear about it.

No, someone didn't explicitly sell personal info on eBay. What they did was sell a hard drive with the bank account numbers, phone numbers, mothers' maiden names and signatures of 1 million customers of American Express, NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland on it --- for £35 or about $64. Big oops, right?

Fortunately, the buyer was Andrew Chapman, an IT manager from Oxford, and not some scammer. Obviously, the odds are in favor of the buyer either being someone honest, or else just not noticing the extraneous data.

The drive originally belonged to data archival firm Graphic Data, which is owned by Mail Source.

In a statement, Mail Source said:
"Investigations are still ongoing to find out how this equipment was removed from one of Graphic Data's secure locations. We take customer privacy and data security very seriously. This incident is extremely regrettable and we're taking every possible step to retrieve the data and ensure this is an isolated incident."
Waitasec, since the buyer reported it, just how hard is it to retrieve the data? A spokesperson added:
"We know which employee took the server and sold it, but we believe it was an honest mistake and it was not intentional to sell it without the server being cleared."
For those of us who might want to sell or donate a used hard drive, it serves as a reminder: use something like SDelete, which I wrote about earlier, to really wipe your hard drive before giving it to someone.

Late last year a hard drive with Democratic Party data was purchased on eBay.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Virtual Romance Leads to Real-Life Kidnapping

A romance between two "residents" of the virtual world Second Life has led to an attempted real-life kidnapping.

Kimberly Jernigan, 33, of North Carolina, distraught (to say the least) over the failure of her virtual romance with an unnamed 52-year-old male from Claymont, Delaware, was arrested after attempting to kidnap him. This was actually her second attempt in the past few weeks.

New Castle County police say that on Aug. 21st, Jernigan hid inside her former boyfriend's home with a Taser, a pair of handcuffs, a BB gun, her dog (yes, her dog), and a roll of duct tape. Cpl. Trinidad Navarro, a spokesman for the New Castle police said:
"She started this virtual relationship and she wasn't ready to break it of. She had difficulty distinguishing between the virtual relationship and a real-life relationship."
There was at least an attempt at a real relationship; the affair wasn't broken off until the two met in person. And yes, it was an affair, as she and her husband Michael (who recently separated from her) had an "open" relationship and apparently both started online romances in Second Life.
"We had an agreement to have a somewhat open relationship and actually being involved in a game online was a very safe way to do that. Or so I thought when we both got started."
Apparently not so safe. Online activity has spilled over into real-life before, however. I earlier wrote about an MMORPG clan rivalry that eventually led to a real-life murder.

Google Search Has a Suggestion for You

Late Monday Google announced that one of its current Google Lab projects, Google Suggest, would start appearing on the main Google search page, rolled out in their typically gradual fashion worldwide, starting this week.

This type of suggestion feature has been available on Yahoo! and Cuil for some time.

In their blog post announcing the move, Google said::
The Google Suggest feature originally started as a 20% project in 2004, and has since expanded to Google Labs, Toolbar, Firefox search box, Maps and Web Search for select countries, the iPhone and BlackBerry, YouTube, and now
If you can't access the feature yet on your Google search page, you can try it out here. You can also see a screenshot above. Google touts the feature as having the following advantages:
  • Helps formulate queries
  • Reduces spelling errors
  • Saves keystrokes
But there's also this other reason: for once we had to play catchup, and since it's been in testing for some time, let's roll it out.

Wired's iPhone 3G Survey: What's Missing?

According to Wired's Gadget Lab, the problems with the iPhone's 3G performance is all about the network. This is based on a (decidedly) unscientific study of 4,200 iPhone 3G users around the world, which they published on Monday. Besides the fact that this spreads the sample in any particular area pretty thin, worldwide as the survey was, there's one thing I would love to see that wasn't done with this survey. More on that later.

In fact, due to incomplete data, only 2,636 data points that were usable, a still thinner sampling. Conclusions were that users in areas with mature 3G networks had much better results. For example, Germany and the Netherlands reported the world’s fastest average 3G download speeds --- about 2 Mbps. The most "0" results (no 3G) came from --- where else? The U.S.

Further data seems to indicate that a theory we've noted before may not be off the mark --- areas where a large number of 3G phones propagate seem to have worse connectivity.

Now, although I personally believe that the iPhone's problems are not network-only, I've never totally ruled out the network. At the very least, I believe the "congestion" problem noted above could have something to do with the issues.

However, in addition to this study, what we really need is a comparison of iPhones with other 3G phones. As I've indicated, I can place several 3G phones right next to an iPhone and they will have great signal strength while the iPhone barely gets one bar.

And yes, I realize that different manufacturers determine their signal strength differently, and that bars aren't enough to determine signal strength --- but it's not just bars. The other phones browse just fine, don't drop calls, don't miss calls, on and on. Frankly, if the iPhone worked with one bar the same as a Q9h with full bars (which is what I see), I'd be perfectly happy, and assume it was a gauge problem.

But it doesn't. The only way to get the iPhone to work well is to stick it into EDGE. And that's not what we all paid for. While this study is great, it's missing a couple of points to make it really meaningful: one, comparison against other 3G phones, where the iPhone seems to fall flat on its face.

Still more: this survey was all about speed, and what some commenters noted and what users are really complaining about isn't speed, but connectivity: dropped calls, missed calls, "Call Failed" errors, and the like. Sure, it's easy to quantify speed, and my type of survey would be more difficult --- but it would also be more useful.

Quite honestly, I also worry that Apple will fix this in hardware, and six months down the line buyers will be happily walking out of the store with much better experiences than early adopters.

Then again, if Apple would just open up communication-wise (they must know what the issue is by now!), we wouldn't be wondering, now would we?

OpenClip Gets Closed

A few days ago I wrote about OpenClip, a framework which was designed to allow applications to perform copy-and-paste, something that has been missing (but really, really desired) from the iPhone.

Developer Zac White found a way to create a shared clipboard, which could then be used between applications. Well, it appears that iPhone firmware 2.1 is closing that loophole, so while copy-and-paste could stil work within a single application, the ability to do so between applications will no longer exist.

As OpenClip says on their site:
Yes, it's true. I mentioned before that this was definitely a possibility, but I don't believe it is an inevitability. But anyway, lets define breaking:

Apps that use OpenClip will no longer be able to copy and paste between applications. However, applications can still utilize a persistent way to store data inside the application, meaning that copy and paste within the app will still work fine. And on top of that, apps that utilize only one form (either copy or paste) can disable interface elements when Apple axes OpenClip.

However, even though apple is killing the concept behind the current OpenClip, that doesn't mean we can't change the concept. A shared clipboard could be stored in an Address Book card or even on a remote server. Those solutions aren't as good as the OpenClip implementation, but they aren't bad.
White also debunked any thoughts that Apple is doing this on purpose, saying:
... some seem to think that Apple is squashing OpenClip specifically. I don't really believe this to be the case. Even though I debuted to concept before the newest beta was release, I'm sure Apple had been planning to kill this kind of thing for a while.
Perhaps 2.1 will contain native copy/paste functionality anyway, so this would have been superfluous. Or, perhaps not. I'm genuinely hoping Apple is looking at only one item: 3G connectivity (yes, it's my high horse). Promises Release-Day Delivery for Hot Upcoming Games

In a Monday press release, announced that buyers who want to get their hands on some upcoming hot games can upgrade their shipping to be assured they'll get them on release day:
Gamers have been asking for it and Amazon has answered the call. Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it will offer release-date delivery for "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09," "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed," "Fable 2" and "Gears of War 2." For $5.98, Amazon customers can upgrade their shipping option for guaranteed delivery of these titles on the first day of availability to all addresses within the continental United States. Additionally, Amazon Prime customers will receive release-date delivery for free.

"We are excited to delight Amazon customers by offering guaranteed release-date delivery of these new video game titles so that the games can arrive at their doors the first day they're available," said Greg Hart, vice president of video games and software at "This means that thousands of gamers across the country can start playing the games they love on the day they're released without having to stand in long lines or stay up all night to do it."

"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09" will be released on Aug. 26, 2008. "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" will be released on Sept. 16, 2008. "Fable 2" will be released on Oct. 21, 2008. "Gears of War 2" will be released on Nov. 7, 2008.
At first I read this and thought: hey, pretty cool. Then I realized: I've been getting games on release day for quite a while --- of course, I have Amazon Prime, so that's probably why.

On the other hand, I checked: it's not $5.98 on top of the normal shipping charge; it's $5.98 period, even for next day. For example, I selected the Tiger Woods game, and that releases tomorrow. So that would be a next day shipment, right? Still only $5.98.

Choose Next-Day instead? $15.48. So, in fact, this could be a real bargain, in some instances. Try it yourself, or click the Tiger Woods box art above to see the full image of my checkout.

Some assumed the charge would be on top of a (they said) up to $20 for next-day shipping; a little homework showed that wasn't the case, at least for this item. The FAQ page on release-day delivery gives Amazon an out though, saying "Shipping charges for Release-Date Delivery vary by item."

While the press release only mentions these four games, it's obvious from the FAQ this will expand to all their games, eventually, at least.

Google: "No Trespassing" Doesn't Mean "No Street View"

As reported by the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, a Google Street View driver passed two "no trespassing" signs to collect pictures images of a residence 1,200 feet from a county road, putting Street View right in the cross-hairs in another privacy dust-up. Still, considering past statements by Google, it's strange anyone is surprised by this.

After all, in response to a lawsuit by a Allegheny County couple over Street View photos (above) taken despite a "private road" sign, Google said (emphasis mine):
"Today's satellite-image technology means that even in today's desert, complete privacy does not exist. In any event, plaintiffs live far from the desert and are far from hermits.
According to the newspaper, however, Google hasn't just driven on a few private roads; it's taken pictures of more than 100 private roads, in Sonoma County in Northern California.

Google spokesman Larry Yu said: "Our policy is to not drive on private land," and that Google tries to hire local drivers, who are given specific routes to follow.

Oops to that, though. An anonymous Street View driver said he was simply told to drive around Sonoma County and collect images. After hearing of that statement, Yu retracted his.

While it is relatively simple to remove Street View pictures (assuming you even know they exist, see below), it seems to me that a "Private Road" or "No Trespassing" sign is an opt-out statement, just one not done with a browser mouse click.

Still, Google disagrees, and it may be up to the courts to decide, as in the lawsuit above.

As far as removing a picture from Street View, go to Street View Help, click a link, and select "This image infringes on my privacy" or another option.

Monday, August 25, 2008

IE8 to Get "Porn Mode" After All

Earlier I wrote about hints that IE8, soon to be released in beta 2 form, would get a "private browsing" mode (often popularized as "porn" mode). On Monday, Microsoft confirmed that IE8 would indeed provide a private browsing feature, called “InPrivate.”

While most think of "private browsing" as simply browsing the web without leaving "tracks," such as cookies, history, cache data, etc., etc., IE8's version gets much more granular than is usually thought of. In their blog post detailing the new feature, Microsoft detailed the following "private browsing" features:

InPrivate Browsing lets you control whether or not IE saves your browsing history, cookies, and other data
While InPrivate Browsing is active, the following takes place:
  • New cookies are not stored
    • All new cookies become “session” cookies
    • Existing cookies can still be read
    • The new DOM storage feature behaves the same way
  • New history entries will not be recorded
  • New temporary Internet files will be deleted after the Private Browsing window is closed
  • Form data is not stored
  • Passwords are not stored
  • Addresses typed into the address bar are not stored
  • Queries entered into the search box are not stored
  • Visited links will not be stored
Delete Browsing History helps you control your browsing history after you’ve visited websites. But unlike the feature in IE7, you can keep cookies and temporary Internet files from websites saved in your Favorites list.

That's pretty cool, as typically I'd rather keep all my cookies rather tha lose some of the cookies for my favorite sites.
To avoid having your favorite sites “forget you”, simply add them to your Favorites, and make sure the “Preserve Favorites website data” checkbox is selected. IE will preserve any cookies or cache files that were created by websites in your favorites.
InPrivate Blocking informs you about content that is in a position to observe your browsing history, and allows you to block it
InPrivate Blocking keeps a record of third-party items like the one above as you browse. When you choose to browse with InPrivate, IE automatically blocks sites that have “seen” you across more than ten sites.

You can also manually choose items to block or allow, or obtain information about the third-party content directly from the site by clicking the “More information from this website” link. Note that Internet Explorer will only record data for InPrivate Blocking when you are in “regular” browsing mode, as no browsing history is retained while browsing InPrivate. An easy way to think of it is that your normal browsing determines which items to block when you browse InPrivate.
InPrivate Subscriptions allow you to augment the capability of InPrivate Blocking by subscribing to lists of websites to block or allow.
Under the covers, InPrivate Subscriptions are simply RSS feeds of Regular Expressions that specify sub-downloads to block or allow. Anyone can publish an InPrivate Subscription on their website, just as they can offer an Accelerator or Web Slice on their website.
Safari already supports "private browsing," but Firefox does not. IE8 is expected to go to testers later this week.

Asus Intros Scented Laptops

If this wasn't a post directly from Asus, I'd be inclined to file this with urban legends. But no, apparently not. Asus has designed a line of notebooks that literally smell, the ASUS F6 scented notebooks.

To be honest, if this were April 1st, I'd still be suspicious.

As Asus says in their press release:
Enjoy a breath of fresh air in the world of personal laptops and celebrate individuality with the ASUS F6 scented notebooks. The compact and stylish F6 engages the eyes with attractive motifs and for the first time, our sense of smell with infused scents.
But as Asus says, "the lifespan of fragrance depends on actual usage." Hilarious, actually. The four different scents / designs are:
Floral Blossom

In glorious pink, this design evokes the imagery of a summer party, leaving the somber feel of conventional laptop designs far behind with its cheerful, floral motif and a floral scent – the most attractive laptop for ladies!

Musky Black

Boasting a glossy black surface emblazoned with a colorful motif inspired by extreme sports and graffiti art, this model emanates power, daring, and energy with its playfulness and musky scent.

Morning Dew

Realized in a pastel green hue, this graphic motif is inspired by the love and respect for nature. Return to the embrace of Mother Nature for a crisp and refreshing awakening of the senses whenever you work on your notebook.

Aqua Ocean

The freedom afforded by a boundless expanse of sky and the energy of breaking waves are captured perfectly on the cover of this notebook. The matching invigorating aquatic scent will keep your days energized!
Specifications for the F6V are:

Intel Centrino 2 processor technology
- Intel Core2 Duo Processor T9400/P8600/P8400
- Mobile Intel PM45 Express Chipset
- Intel WiFi Link 5100AGN Network Connection
Genuine Windows Vista
- Genuine Ultimate
- Genuine Business
- Genuine Home Premium/Home basic
DDRII-667/800 DRAM support, up to 4GB
13.3” WXGA Color Shine LCD
ATI Mobility Radeon HD3470, external 256MB DDR2 VRAM
SATA 120/160/250/320GB
31.2 x 23.19 x 3.2-3.52cm

Based on the specs, it looks like performance isn't going to "stink." But does this mean we have to add benchmarks for "length of scent retention?"

iPhone Antenna Seemingly in the Clear for 3G Issues

I wrote earlier about an unnamed Swedish scientist who said that the iPhone was not sensitive enough to 3G signals, bad news if true because it would mean that software wouldn't be likely to fix the problems.

Well, a Swedish newspaper took an iPhone to a company, Bluetest, which sells test chambers for wireless devices with small antennas. The equipment measures how well a device sends and receives signals. The test results:
- The values are completely normal, says Magnus Franzén, an antenna engineer with an M.Sc. in Engineering Physics.

We compare the results with those of a Sony Ericsson P1 belonging to Bluetest's CEO Mats Andersson, and my Nokia N73. The P1 is a little better at receiving signals and the N73 a little better at transmitting signals. But the difference is small. The difference between the iphone's and the P1's receive sensitivity is 2 dB.

- It is not much. At a difference of 4-6 dB one might start to wonder if there is anything wrong, says Mats Andersson.
What we have now is similar to what typically happens in a court case: one expert says one thing and another completely invalidates it.

Still, as the article states this is an antenna test. It doesn't rule out the Infineon chipset, chipset drivers, or firmware. Statistically, it's also invalid because it only tested one of each device.

On the other hand, at least it's something, and since Apple is typically close-mouthed, it's all we're going to get (meaning third-party testing) for now. And the paper did ask for people with connectivity problems to contact them:
If you are in Gothenburg and have an iphone with a bad 3G connection, not just that there are few signal strength bars, but that calls are disconnected and downloads are interrupted, let us know. Maybe we can do some more turns in the test chamber.
Doubtless, they will get some resp0nses.

U.S. Broadband Sucks, But Less So on the East Coast: Study

Despite the fact that California, specifically Silicon Valley, is thought to be the heart of technology, it's the East Coast that rules in terms of broadband speeds, according to a study by affordable-broadband advocacy group Speed Matters. Just to be clear, Speed Matters is an organization backed by the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

The report (.PDF), is the second annual survey by Speed Matters. It just re-emphasizes how far behind the U.S. is compared to other countries in terms of broadband speed.
The results of this second annual survey of Internet speeds show that the United States has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet. Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries.

The median download speed for the nation was 2.3 megabits per second (mbps). In Japan, the median download speed is 63 mbps, or 30 times faster than the U.S.
While not everyone wants broadband, most of us do, and the faster the better. On the other hand, while the U.S. continues to drop behind other countries in terms of speed, U.S. ISPs seem to be moving further and further toward tiered broadband.

In terms of the fastest Internet, however, the top nine states are all on the East Coast. They are:
  1. Rhode Island (6.8Mbps)
  2. Delaware (6.7Mbps)
  3. New Jersey (5.8Mbps)
  4. Virginia (5Mbps)
  5. Massachusetts (4.6Mbps)
  6. New York (4.1Mbps)
  7. Florida (4.0Mbps)
  8. Maryland (4.0Mbps)
  9. Georgia (3.0Mbps)
Wow, look at that drop between 8 and 9. Finally, a West Coast state at #10: Washington. California ranks #25 at 2.5Mbps.

The survey was conducted between May 2007 and May 2008; visitors to the Speed Matters web site were asked to test their connection speed. Nearly 230,000 connections in the United States were tested.

For the East Coast, it's great that they have fast speeds, but if ISPs decide to all have tiered service, particularly low tiers like Frontier's 5GB cap, it'll mean we all just reach the limit that much faster.