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Category: Apple

Defective by Design

After reading yesterday’s announcement from Apple regarding the iPad, then browsing their site while drooling over the specs, I decided I would try and get one when they become available.  I have become so accustomed to my iPhone 3Gs that I can’t imagine having a bigger extension of that for use around the house or while travelling.

But then, I started reading about all the Digital Restrictions Management that gets bundled with the product(s), and really started questioning my ideals. Being a proponent of the free and open source software movement, I am all about not being restricted to do what I want with devices and software I purchase. The sad fact of the matter is that everything Apple does works against that.

The people over at DefectiveByDesign.org lays it all out pretty well, which further convinced me that I have been duped by vendor lock-in, with restrictions on everything I can do with my devices. This sucks, and it is something I hope all of you think about and question. While the gadget lust is still there, I am feeling conflict from my true geek side, which tells me not to waste my money on something that is, in effect, defective by design.

Apple has new goodies……sort of

I’ve been waiting a LONG time on the new Mac-Mini refreshes, and I have to say I was surprised at the new versions. They’ve got a little kick to them this go around. However, if you bump the RAM up to at least 2GB and add the 3year warranty and a new keyboard, you are sitting at about $900.00

If you don’t care about the warranty and don’t need the keyboard, you can still get the 2GB of RAM and keep it down to $649.00.

Also, they released new Mac Pros and iMacs. I have to say I was impressed, that is, until I read a little more. Apple and I have a strange history: I love to support them and I love OSX. However, they always seem to just MISS my cup of tea, and I always think…”Well, I’ll wait for the next round”.

Let me explain. As you know (or don’t) Apple has pretty much switched from ATI to Intel to Nvidia for graphics. However, even with the brand new models, the BEST you can get (Nvidia wise) is a  GeForce GT 130. If you are thinking “130…what the hell is that?”, read on.

Basically, as most of us know, the “best of the best” in the Nvidia world is the “GTX 2xx” series, and prior to that, it was the 9800 Series. Well, Nvidia has renamed their chip line on the 9600/9500 line to…you guessed it! “GT1xx” !!!!!!

If I’m right, it seems the GT 120 is a renamed 9500 and the GT130 is a renamed 9600! I can’t believe that even on the HIGH end Mac Pro, they DON’T offer at least ONE version of a GT280! However, they do seem to offer a ATI 48xx series, which is good, but as I said I LOVE Nvidia.

Now on the other hand, I’m always looking at this situation from the stand point of “what if I want to GAME and run everything with nice resolutions and AA etc”, and as most of us know…if you want to game with the big boys, just build a PC. Well, that still seems to be the case.

On the brighter side of things, these new Macs truly have some wonderful configurations and will be very good machines, especially for those people that just want to do everything but the high end gaming.

My advice:

If you’ve never had a Mac, and don’t care about gaming at all, but need a complete computer (monitor and all) I would go for the 1499.00 iMac, as it has a 24inch screen.
If you think you’ll game from time to time, I would go for the 1799.00 iMac and possibly upgrade the video card to the GT 130 or the ATI card.
If you’ve never owned a Mac and are happy with your current computer, but are curious about OSX and would like to just use the monitor, mouse, keyboard etc. that you have, then go for the entry Mac Mini and upgrade the RAM to at LEAST 2GB.

If you’re a hard core gamer and want to keep up with the latest games etc…just keep building PCs or check out the Dell XPS 630 for a great entry gaming rig that can upgraded as needed.

HTH.

Sim City for iPhone Cheats

With the recent release of Sim City for the iPhone and iPod Touch, there has been a scurry to hunt for working cheat codes. Anyone who has played any of the original Sim City series knows that at least half the fun of the game is in the building of the city, and many times it’s nice not to have to worry about the budget management side of the game. Thus, cheat codes became desirable.

In the Sim City for the iPod game, which you should definitely purchase if you haven’t yet, cheat codes are equally important.

To enter cheat codes, you simply shake your device to trigger a box that will show up for entering the code.

So far, there are only two known working codes, and they are case sensitive:

  • i am weak – makes it free to build anything.
  • pay tribute to your king – bestows all gifts  (city hall, statue, spaceport, science research centers, etc).

So far, those are the only known working cheat codes, even though other folks have tried all of the codes from previous version of the game. If you know of any more, post them in the comments, and I’ll update this post once they are verified to work.

Apple Attacks On The Rise?

We here at Geekamongus are by no means partial to one operating system over another.  We love Macs, we love Linux, we love Solaris, and we love those other guys.  Seriously, in no way do we ever intend on taking sides, and articles such as this one are not to be mistaken as an attack upon a particular vendor, nor should they be misconstrued as a statement proclaiming that we prefer other platforms.

That said, some news items of late have raised a few eyebrows upon the foreheads of the security-minded regarding Apple and their operating system, OS X.  For example, there seems to be a new variant of an OS X trojan out there, according to the folks at macnn.com.

Judging by the responses from the opinionated users at the bottom of that article, the Mac fan base may be smart enough to avoid such malicious software.  Cynicism aside, it is clear there is an entirely untapped user base upon which Phishing attacks may be starting to prey.  One must consider the fact that people who have used Macs their whole lives may not be as familiar with such vulnerabilities, where web sites attempt to trick you into downloading a plugin with ulterior motives in mind, and that they could be more easily fooled into taking the bait.  Heck, it would seem the folks at Apple could use some tutelage about Microsoft viruses too.

Seeing as Apple still considers themselves to be rather impervious to viruses, trojans, worms, and their ilk, I don’t forsee this getting better any time soon, even though they did briefly post a note about using antivirus software on their website.  One thing Microsoft users have going for them is that they are by-and-large more aware of common Internet vulnerabilities because they run into them more often, and they must take steps to avoid them.  Some may even have received training in the workplace or from a geeky neice or nephew.

Granted, OS X is based upon a relatively secure Unix kernel and the Apple marketshare is much smaller than that of Microsoft.  That can certainly help when talking about the prevention of spreading traditional viruses, trojans, and worms.  However, when a user is unaware and clicks “OK” to download and install seemingly legitimate plugin, all bets are off.  And who know what evil is brewing in the basements of evildoing jerkfaces to target OS X itself in ways which Windows users are unfamiliar with.

GMail Vulnerability? Watch Your Back.

I’ve been following the story about the domain name hijacking of MakeUseOf.com the last few weeks with interest.  All signs are pointing to the domain thief having cracked the MakeUseOf.com Gmail account in order to retrieve their GoDaddy.com password and transfer the owenership of the domain.

This is not good for any GMail user, let alone domain name owners who have registered their domains through GMail.

Apparently, this one hacker has stolen over 850 domains this way, and holds them for ransom at $2000 a piece.

The latest part of the saga details how the MakeUseOf.com folks think this happened, right down to the hacking of the GMail account.  If there is indeed a security flaw in GMail, which there appears to be, MakeUSeOf.com offers prudent steps to take in order to secure yourself (emphasis added by me):

(1) Well, my very first advice would be to check your email settings and make sure your email is not compromised. Check fowarding options and filters. Also make sure to disable IMAP if you don’t use it. This also applies to Google Apps accounts.

(2) Change contact email in your sensitive web accounts (paypal, domain registrar etc.) from your primary Gmail account to something else. If you own the website then change the contact email for your host and registrar accounts to some other email. Preferably to something that you aren’t logged in to when browsing web.

(3) Make sure to upgrade your domain to private registration so that your contact details don’t show up on WhoIS searches. If you’re on GoDaddy I’d recommend going with Protected Registration.

(4) Don’t open links in your email if you don’t know the person they are coming from. And if you decide to open the link make sure to log out first.

I would add to that list:

(5) Always use secure, encrypted GMail.  There is an option at the bottom of the main Settings page in GMail for “Always use https” under the “Browser Connection” heading.  Select this and leave it selected!  Otherwise, anything you do in GMail is sent unencrypted over the Internet.  Not good!

Keep in mind that this security flaw not only matters to domain name owners, but to anyone who has any sensitive email in their GMail account, whether it be online banking info, love letters, or whatever.

This will be interesting to watch, and I hope Google takes notice of this.

UPDATE:  This fellow here has posted a proof-of-concept on creating malicious filters in someone’s GMail account.

Apple Doesn’t Understand This “Secure” Thing

For years, people have loved Apples and Macs because of their relative security when compared to the likes of Microsoft, who are the target of tens of thousands of viruses, worms, trojans, and other types of malicious programming.

A large part of this has been because of the prevalence of Microsoft Windows, and the fact that Macs make up a tiny little percentage of the home or office computer realm.  However, ever since Apple released the iPhone, it would seem as if they have taken a step out into the world of the unknown, venturing into new territories where no one has gone before.

The problem is, many people have already been in these territories for many years, and Apple obviously has not been paying attention.  It’s like they never considered the thought that once they started venturing outside of the obscure marketshare into the eye of the general public, they too would become targeted by script kiddies, spammers, and all-around evildoers.

The fact of the matter is, Apple, Macs, iThings, and everything else they are doing IS being targeted more now than ever before, and unfortunately, Apple is sitting around wondering why instead of doing anything about it.

Take, for example, this new TechCrunch article explaining a simple way for spammers to harvest all the email addresses of MobileMe users.

From the article:

Apple knows about the problem but insists it isn’t an issue because no one has complained publicly. An Apple representative said to one of our readers: “We’ve never had a complaint from a customer about people spamming them because of their iDisk public folder name. There is no way to remove your account name from the iDisk folders. I’m very sorry.”

Um…ok.  So if I use MobileMe, I can expect a lot of spam.  Maybe they think I’ll get used to it.

TechCrunch goes as far as suggesting that Apple is falling apart at the seams.  They suggest failures with customer service and security exploits as warning signs.  The sad part is, Apple seems to either not care about fixing things, or just not get it, both of which are starting to come off as being arrogant.

Look at the recent ‘patching’ Apple did with the widely-publicized DNS spoofing vulnerability last month.  While every other vendor quickly tackled the problem, Apple released a patch that fixed only their server products, leaving their entire desktop user base still vulnerable.  It took them two more weeks, but on August 15 they finally patched it for everyone.

The nature of being secure, in my opinion, relies upon being open, recognizing vulnerabilities, and taking them head-on.  That’s why there is such a large, active community of security-aware researchers, vendors, and system administrators out there.  Apple seems to be shying away from all of this, perhaps out of naivity, perhaps out of conceit.

Whatever the case, I sincerely hope they come to their senses before it is too late.