Gigabit Internet, AOE, and Bike Parking

A collection of interesting tech-related news from yesterday:

Gigabit Internet coming to Seattle for $80/month

Gigabit Seattle announced its speed/price plans on Monday (source):

  • 5 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload free for 5 years (thereafter, 10 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload for $10/month)
  • 100 Mbps download/100 Mbps upload for $45/month
  • 1000 Mbps download/1000 Mbps upload for $80/month

Unfortunately, I’m not in one of the neighborhoods that will be getting initial coverage, but I’m hopeful that I’ll have access to gigabit Internet soon. 🙂

Age of Empires is coming to Android and iOS

Microsoft announced on Monday that it is working on a mobile version of “Age of Emprires” which will be released by March of next year (source). AOE is one of my favorite games of all time, so I’m excited to see how this turns out. Wololo!

Japan has an amazing underground bicycle parking system

Okay, maybe this isn’t news, but I found out about Japan’s incredible space-saving underground bicycle parking system yesterday. Just take your bike to a parking machine, which will read a chip on the bike and store it underground automatically. When you want your bike back, tap a card to the machine and it will retrieve your bike in seconds.

Mandatory ISP Data Retention Bill

I just read an article about a bill that has just been approved by a committee in the House of Representatives. If the bill passes, it would mandate that Internet service providers (ISPs) store detailed Internet history (including personal and financial information) of all users for a year. In theory, I think I would actually be ok with Internet history being stored, because I can see how that kind of information would be extremely helpful in preventing and prosecuting crime. However, it’s not a perfect world and I have a few concerns about this bill:

  1. The ISPs may use this data improperly.
  2. The ISPs may not keep this data secure. The wealth of data the ISPs would store would make it a prime target for identity thieves and other mischievous hackers (LulzSec, anyone?).
  3. As was mentioned in the article, criminals could just go to public or commercial venues and use the Internet anonymously there.
  4. The name of the bill. Quote from the article: “To make it politically difficult to oppose, proponents of the data retention requirements dubbed the bill the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.” /facepalm
Anyway, it seems unlikely that this bill will pass because people are already raising hell about it. 😛

Playstation & Identity Theft

PlaystationYesterday, Sony announced that the Playstation Network (PSN) had been compromised and users’ personal information was stolen. This information included name, address, email address, birth date, and login info for PSN. Sony also announced that purchase history and credit card information may have also been obtained.

Mistakes happen and, at least for me, it’s not a huge deal that PSN had a temporary security hole that let hackers get in. The hackers gained access to the information because Sony’s bug treated their Playstation consoles as if they were developer consoles.

What really upsets me is that credit card information is at risk. I can’t think of any reason why developers should have direct access to credit card numbers.

And this brings up another thing that scares me: I have no way of ensuring that when I enter sensitive data online, the company/individual on the other end is doing their job to ensure that the information remains secure.  I would hope that developers dealing with sensitive data are competent enough to know how to use encryption and the like (and for goodness’ sake, don’t store it as plain text), but that certainly isn’t always the case.

Last summer, I gave a persuasive speech in my speech class about identity theft. I talked about things like phishing, website spoofing, and downloadable malware. Since it relates to the topic, I figured I would include a few simple tricks from my speech for preventing identity theft:

1. Use strong, secure passwords.
Microsoft recommends using passwords that are at least 14 characters long. They should contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, and a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. And don’t use the same password for everything. Your email password, in particular, should be unique and your most secure password, because if anyone gets access to your email account, they can easily gain access to any of your other accounts.

WoW Authenticator2. Use an alternate verification source, when available.
World of Warcraft, for example, allows players to get an optional authenticator and have it tied to their accounts. With the push of a button, the authenticator generates a seemingly random six-digit number for the player, who then enters that number along with his or her password. The six-digit number is created based on the time and a special key tied to each individual authenticator, so that the number can be verified on the server end.

Side note: Yes, I talked about WoW in my speech. I even gave an entire informative speech about WoW. I got everyone’s attention when I started the speech with, “Some people say that I don’t exist… because I’m a girl and I play World of Warcraft.” 😛

3. Make sure you use anti-virus software.
And only one anti-virus software program, because having multiple anti-virus programs running at the same time just isn’t good or safe.

4. Verify URL’s before entering any personal data on a website.
Spoofed websites are designed to look like legitimate website and can easily trick people into entering their personal information on fraudulent websites. You should also avoid clicking links directly from email, because they can be disguised.
At the time of my speech, I had also just heard about a new scam called “tabnabbing.” The theory behind the scam is that people are learning to detect spoofed websites, so the webpage will initially look like any normal webpage. After the page detects a period of inactivity (probably due to switching to another tab in your browser), the page will transform itself into the look-a-like of another webpage, like the Gmail login page.

I would hope that most people already know about the things I talked about in my speech, but sometimes people surprise me.

New Domain: MarieWest.me

Since February, I have been working as the Web Content Administrator for Wayne State University. The position is only temporary, however; I am filling in for someone who will be returning from maternity leave in June. Consequently, I am on the lookout for a new, more permanent job! 🙂

And to help with the whole finding a job thing, I acquired a new domain for a more “professional-esque” website: mariewest.me. The site has a custom design (by me) and uses WordPress.

MarieWest.me

Computer Science Websites

Today, I decided to take a look at some of the Computer Science websites from universities across the country. I could not believe how awful the majority of them were. Out of the 100 (yes, 100) Computer Science websites I looked at:

  • 68% looked extremely outdated
  • 26% looked moderately outdated
  • 6% looked fairly modern

Being Computer Science departments, I was expecting much more modern websites. Prospective CS students are going to be going to these websites and to advertise your department as outdated and out-of-touch is not going to impress prospective students.