Huawei Sues the FTC #1409



Huawei Sues the FTC to be allowed to sell products in the United States again. This action shows how desperate they are to get back in the game here and potentially compromise our national security by selling trojan horse cheap gear to rural carriers. I really do not have much sympathy for the Chinese on this. You look at their track record and it is not good. Audio only show next two shows folks

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Department of Justice Charged Evil Corp Hackers with Bank Fraud



The U.S. Department of Justice (and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency) announced the unsealing of criminal charges against a 32-year-old hacker who goes by the name “aqua”, of Moscow, Russia. He has been charged with international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes that started in 2009 and spanned a decade. In addition, a second person from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, was indited for his role related to the “Bugat” malware conspiracy.

Wired reported that these hackers were part of a group called Evil Corp, through which they siphoned off tens of millions of dollars from unwitting victims. Wired provided a good explanation of what the hackers were allegedly doing.

They’d convince victims to click on a malicious link in a phishing email to download Bugat. Once installed, the malware would use a variety of techniques to steal: a keylogger to grab passwords, or creating fake banking pages to trick someone into voluntarily entering their credentials. Armed with that information, the hackers would arrange for electronic funds transfers from victim bank accounts to a network of so-called money mules, who would then get the funds back to Evil Corp.

While I do not condone what these two individuals allegedly did, I cannot help but laugh at the name they chose. Evil Corp sounds like something the bad guy in a cartoon would name their organization.

The name is also used in Mr. Robot, where one of the characters refers to a multinational conglomerate called E Corp as “Evil Corp”. One of the plot lines in Mr. Robot involves hackers wiping out E Bank (the most prominent portion of E Corp) in an effort to free millions of people from debt. To me, it seems like the hackers picked the most obvious name imaginable!


Apple Explains Why Newer iPhones Share Location Data



There’s something strange going on with the iPhone 11 Pro. Security reporter Brian Krebs noticed that the iPhone 11 Pro intermittently seeks the user’s location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data.

On Nov. 13, KrebsOnSecurity contacted Apple to report this as a possible privacy bug in the new iPhone Pro and/or in iOS 13.x, sharing a video showing how the device still seeks the user’s location when each app and system service is set to “never” request location information (but with the main Location Data service still turned on).

You can watch that video on the KrebsOnSecurity website. The first response from Apple came from an Apple engineer that described what was happening as “expected behavior”. The engineer stated: “It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.”

Personally, I think that’s really creepy. Brian Krebs rightfully pointed out that what is happening seems to contradict Apple’s recent commercials, which emphasize that Apple respects users privacy. I find it troubling that some of the newest Apple phones have been collecting location data without the user’s permission or knowledge. I also wonder why Apple failed to turn off something that they clearly were aware of. It feels sneaky.

Later, Apple provided more information to KrebsOnSecurity. The short version is that the behavior (which I think of as location tracking) is connected to a “new short-range technology that lets iPhone 11 users share files locally with other nearby phones that support this feature.” Apple said a future version of its mobile operating system will allow users to disable it. You can read more about this on KrebsOnSecurity.


Pacum Sucks…And That’s a Good Thing



Master Space LogoBudget airlines have revolutionised air travel over the past few decades, and while the seats might be cheap, putting luggage in the hold can be pricey: I was recently on a trip where the ticket price trebled when hold baggage was added, so you really want to try and get everything into your hand luggage to get the cost down. Clothes can be bulky, though, and it’s difficult to get everything needed into a small trolley case.

Sitting on the bag in the hope of getting the zip done up isn’t the solution, but the Masterspace Pacum Travel Vacuum Compressor might be. It’s a personal vacuum packer, meaning the clothes go in an airtight bag before the air is sucked out by the Pacum, squeezing the garments down to a fraction of their size. That’s how you get more clothes in the trolley case. Let’s take a closer look.

Pacum vacuum compressor with accessoriesThe Pacum comes in a box which belies the diminutive size of the Pacum itself. Available in three colours; red, white and black, the Pacum is smaller than a 330 ml drinks can and is more rectangular than round. The actual dimensions are 86 x 43 x 43 mm and weighs in at 145 g. The Pacum looks good with features on three of the six surfaces. On the bottom are two rubberised air holes, one for vacuuming and one for inflation. On the top is a USB C port for powering the Pacum and on the side are three buttons for Eco, Super and Inflation modes.

In the box, there’s the Pacum itself, a 1 m USB C cable, a Pacum vacuum bag and adaptors for other vacuum bags, pool toys and sports balls, plus a small travel drawstring bag. To be clear, there is no USB charger supplied and, contrary to my first thoughts, there’s no battery in the Pacum either. It’s fully powered by the USB C port on the top, and a 2 A power supply is required, either from a mains charger or a battery pack. 1 A will not work and the Pacum will cut out with a flashing red light. Trust me on this.

Pacum on Bag Before CompressionReady to go on your holidays? Put the clothes you’re taking into the vacuum bag and arrange them to suit the available space in the luggage – you’ll not be able to do this afterwards. Close up the bag and make sure it’s properly sealed along the edge. Unscrew the cap in middle on the vacuum bag and then slip the Pacum over the nozzle. It uses the larger of the two air holes on the bottom so it’s hard to go wrong.

Assuming that the power cable is plugged in to suitable power source, pressing either of the two “minus” buttons (-) and (=) will start the Pacum up in either Eco or Super mode. Simplistically, Super sucks harder than Eco, although I can’t really see any good reason to use Eco mode. While sucking, the light on the Pacum flashes blue and it’ll go red if there’s not enough power being supplied to the device.

Pacum on Bag After CompressionUsing the supplied bag with a couple of t-shirts and jumper (that’s a sweater for those across the pond), it took about 90 seconds for the Pacum to evacuate all the air from the bag, resulting in a stiff but thin packet that uses a fraction of the original space. The two before and after pictures show the difference and you can watch my review video below.

The main purpose for Pacum is to remove air from vacuum bags, but that’s not its only trick. Inflating holiday pool toys usually involves much huffing and puffing, but Pacum will pump up the inflatables in no time. Use one of the three adaptors in the air outlet and press the Inflation (+) button. It would take awhile to inflate a large paddling pool but makes short work of rubber rings and footballs. The air outlet looks to be a standard size, so existing adaptors will likely work fine with the Pacum.

My only real gripe with the Pacum is that the supplied USB C cable is frustratingly short at only 1 m and would recommend twice the length for any practical use. Yes, you might get lucky with a hotel that has sockets on the counter but frequently they’re down behind the bed which is just a PITA with a short cable.

Pricewise, the Pacum is currently on sale at US$60 / GB£46 (RRP is $80/£61) and a set of five vacuum bags is US$29 / GB£22 (prices are rounded).

Overall, the Pacum is really neat little gadget that’s well-designed and works as described. Is it worth buying? Ultimately that’s a maths problem. If you fly frequently or travel as a family, I imagine it will be easy to save money with the Pacum by reducing or avoiding hold luggage charges. Do the sums.

There’s more in the unboxing and demo video below.

Thanks to Master Space for providing the Pacum for review.


Pantone Color of the Year 2020



Classic Blue

In contrast to last year’s Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020 has been announced as Classic Blue. Officially known as Pantone 19-4052, the colour is “Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of the thought-provoking Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, explains “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on. Imbued with a deep resonance, Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.

Reflecting a diverse and more inclusive world, Pantone has transformed Classic Blue beyond the visual into a multi-sensory experience. Working with partners, Classic Blue is represented in sound, touch, smell and taste. Audio UX worked with Pantone to reflect the nature of Classic Blue in sound, creating a 145 samples for download here. Fragrance and flavour company Firmenich created a taste and a smell, “a fragrant contemplation of where sky and sea meet – a boundless blue where there is no end.” There’s even a matching tea blend, over at TeaLeaves, and The Inside has created a custom fabric, Dusk, for tactile representation of Classic Blue.

Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute expanded, “As we all head into a new era, we wanted to challenge ourselves to find inspiration from new sources that not only evolve our Color of the Year platform, but also help our global audiences achieve richer and more rewarding color experiences. This desire, combined with the emotional properties of Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, motivated us to expand beyond the visual, to bring the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year to life through a multi-sensory experience.

The full press release is here and discusses Classic Blue in the context of everything from tech innovation to food and drink, plus the new complementary multi-sensory approach.

Pantone Classic BlueIf you are a designer, all the colour standards are on Pantone’s site, including some downloads for Adobe products. The codes for Classic Blue 19-4052 TCX are

  • sRGB: 15 76 129
  • CMYK: 100 76 25 0
  • HTML: 0F4C81

Look for more blue in 2020! Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised how much you see.

Picture courtesy of Pantone.


Instagram will Require Birthdates from New Users



Instagram announced an update that will require new users to provide their date of birth in order to make an Instagram account. The purpose of this update is to make Instagram safer for the youngest members of the community.

Starting today, we will be asking for your date of birth when creating an account on Instagram. According to the Terms of Use, you must be at least 13 years old to have an account in most countries. Asking for this information will help prevent underage people from joining Instagram, help us keep young people safer and enable more age-appropriate experiences overall. Your birthday will not be visible to others on Instagram, but you’ll be able to see it when viewing your own private account information.

If your Facebook and Instagram are connected, Instagram will add the date of birth that is on your Facebook profile. Editing your date of birth on Facebook will also change it on Instagram. Those who don’t have Facebook accounts, or who don’t connect it to Instagram can edit their birthday directly on Instagram.

In the months ahead, Instagram will use birthday information to create tailored experiences including education about account controls and recommended privacy settings for young people. They are also going to give users more control over who can send them direct messages in Instagram.

I am in favor of making efforts to protect young people on social media. Those protections should have been there from the beginning.

My only complaint about this update is it will require new Instagram users to hand over their birthdate to both Instagram and Facebook. Think about all the important documents your birthdate is attached to. Do you trust Facebook to keep that information secure?


Chinese Facial Recognition Goes Global #1408



Chinese facial recognition standards which really are not standards but more like policies for the world are being pushed at the UN by Chinese companies as one could expect that is not going over well with privacy advocates. I have a bit of news of the show today and hope the GNC family can give some pointers.

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