This week - Apple's CarPlay contingency plan, getting away with Getty, and terrorists of the web.
Apple has announced the pending release of their in-vehicle solution for 2014, aptly titled CarPlay. This is an in-dash system, partnered through five current car manufacturers ranging from Ferrari to Hyundai, however it is not a bluetooth-enabled platform. Despite being built into the car itself, this system will instead require you to use a lightning cord to then mimic a simplified version of the iOS experience to your car's built-in display. CarPlay will enable a hands-free, voice activated experience for listening to text messages, dictating responses, answering phone calls, and integrating your calendar to send reminders and directions of upcoming appointments. Of course, you will also have the ability to listen to music and podcasts, mimicking the iPod in the same way your iPhone does. Despite having a touchscreen display option, it also appears that there will be no virtual keyboards to keep this as hands-free as possible. My first and most pervasive reaction is "Why isn't this bluetooth-enabled?" I assume there is a good reason (maybe functionality was affected, maybe it drains your battery and requires the cord to replensih), but in terms of innovation for the future, I think a lightning cable requirement is a dissapointment. Considering the function of this built-in display requires the use of a compatible iPhone, Apple is securing future iPhone sales (clever girl) - think about it. You keep your car for years longer than you keep your cell phone model before upgrading.In case you were considering switching to Android, think again, cause you will have a sad empty dash display for your troubles.
Meetup, the online networking website, received an oddly worded email threatening to unleash a DDos attack on their website unless they were paid a $300 ransom. A coworker sent me this link, and at first I was utterly confused. What is DDos, why would someone receive a ransom email, and why have I never heard of this before? If you are unfamiliar, allow me to enlighten you. DDos stands for Distributed Denial of Service. A DDos attack involves flooding a website's server with thousands of false visits within seconds (usually through the use of a Trojan), making it impossible for real visitors to make it to the site. Meetup experienced multiple shut downs over the course of a week for hours on end after noncompliance with the extortion attempt. There are a number of ways a miscreant could accomplish a DDos attack (most of them dry IT talk, so I wont bore you completely with that), but basically they disguise themselves using IT magic and make it appear that those thousands of fake visits are coming from all over the world, making it extremely difficult to block the IP address that is at the root of the problem. Upon further digging I found out that this is a much more common occurance than one would assume. The extortion, that is. The targets tend to be mid-to-large sized companies that depend heavily enough on the website to really feel the sting with a site outage for hours on end, but not tech-savvy enough to know how to protect themselves from a DDos attack. How does one protect themselves from a DDos attack, you might ask? Well, one simple solution would be to buy more bandwidth. DDos attacks rely on their bandwidth being larger than yours to overwhelm your server. Purchasing more might be the simplest solution, but with advances in hacking wizardry (see: Target's data breach this past year) this could very well end up the most expensive simple solution and you may as well cough up the $300 ransom and hope for the best. Other protections involve updates and protections on your DNS such as load balancing and other redundancies, enabling your routers to drop junk packets, and establishing firewalls. Its a lot to take in, I know, so if you rely heavily on your website to support your business it would behoove you to discuss the threat of DDos with your CTO, CIO, or lowly IT nerd.
Getty Images, the world's largest photo service, has announced that it will no longer be charging for usage of their watermark-free images online. From the sounds of the announcement, Getty realizes that bloggers and people online across the globe have figured out how to get those images for free anyway, and while frustrated with the piracy have decided that allowing the usage of those images with a small embed code will provide an alternate revenue stream. How, you might ask, were they planning on making money off of the stock photo I placed in my little blog? They plan on advertising on your photos, a la YouTube. Now, representatives for Getty have not stated that this is a sure thing, and that they arent positive it will be the right path for them in the future, but I, for one, will be attempting to pirate my photos from elsewhere. The thought of one of my readers scanning my blog posts only to be served by an ad for laundry detergent or some other arbitrary item makes my skin crawl. Any advertisements in my publications will be strategically and contextually placed by none other than myself. The lesson to take from this, kids, is to pay for your pictures or take them yourself. Piracy is a crime, though swashbuckling can be a jolly good time.