Monday, May 24, 2010

Droid vs HTC Hero

The Droid phones are really amazing in terms of functionality, though the biggest surprise for me is comparing the usability of the Droid vs the HTC Hero.

I've never liked virtual keyboards, so the Droid handily wins out here for me. However, the virtual desktop feels clunky on the Droid, but surprisingly useful on the Hero. In part, this is because the Hero comes with gorgeous widgets already set on the virtual desktop, providing easy access to photos, calendar, messages, and so on. These widgets are also far more useful than others I've looked for in the Android marketplace.

(I poked around to see if I could transfer the HTC widgets over to the Droid, but alas! It looks like these widgets requires additional software in the background. I'm hoping HTC will sell their widgets on the Android marketplace, but I doubt it since their goal is probably to differentiate their product so as to sell more hardware).

At any rate, if anyone knows of a good calendar app for Android, please let me know. It's embarrassing that my old trusty Palm Treo's calendar, which is not too different from the original Palm Calendar app, is far more useful and usable than a calendar app designed 15 years later.

Why Do Organizations Purchase Security Software?

After presenting at the ISSA CISO forum, I got into this really interesting discussion as to why corporations purchase security software. Given that I've been struggling to understand why technologies are and aren't adopted (especially those from the CHI community), I was naturally intrigued.

The manager of Schlumberger's enterprise services security listed three reasons:

  • There was a recent security incident
  • There is a new regulation or policy in place
  • The organization failed an audit recently


I'd add a fourth one, which is that everyone else is doing it. These days, people purchase firewalls, spam filters, and anti-virus software almost as a matter of fact.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Android SD Card Mounting

Note to self: to view the contents of the Android SD card on a PC, you plug it into the USB port and then in the Android notifications screen, choose to Mount it. Once you do this, though, you can't read or write to the SD card on the Android phone itself until it is unmounted.

Total elapsed time to figure this out: 46 minutes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Interesting Facebook Authentication

I just logged into Facebook while in Brazil, and was presented with an interesting challenge-response. Apparently, FB is doing some kind of profiling as to where you login (or alternatively, where lots of fake logins are happening).

After answering a captcha, I was presented with a series of photos from my friends list, and had to answer multiple choice questions, getting at least 4/7 correct.

I thought this was a compelling idea. The photos would be relatively hard for attackers to find, and not too hard for the owner to identify (unless you're one of those people that friend everyone they meet).

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Kook Emails

I can tell my research is getting more publicity. How? I'm starting to get more and more kook emails addressed to me. So far my favorite is the person that believes DARPA and NSA are monitoring his telepathic abilities (which, by the way, he's measured to have the same bandwidth as OC-192).

Recent Facebook Glitch Reveals Private Info

NYTimes reports on a rather nasty Facebook glitch that reveals personal info:

On Wednesday, users discovered a glitch that gave them access to supposedly private information in the accounts of their Facebook friends, like chat conversations.


I wonder what kinds of processes and procedures Facebook will put into place to prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future. Facebook is already facing a lot of heat from consumer groups regarding privacy. The worst case scenario for them is to have legislation passed dictating what they can and cannot do.

Not knowing anything about their system architecture and procedures, I'd suggest adding a significant number of regression tests for privacy, checking hundreds of scenarios to make sure that information that isn't supposed to be disclosed won't be disclosed.

Monday, May 03, 2010

People don't want backup...

A few weeks ago, Mark Bregman, Executive Vice President and CTO of Symantec, came by Cylab and gave a talk on Symantec's approach to customer-centric innovation.

He made a nice distinction between invention (which we researchers are very good at) and innovation (getting products out into the marketplace that people really want). He also made a statement that really resonated with me. After studying how people use backup systems, Symantec took a step back and thought more about what people really needed (and not what they said they wanted). It turns out it wasn't really backup that they needed, it was reliability, and backup was just one way of offering that.

I like this high-tech variant of "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!". I'll find some ways to incorporate this idea more into my classes.

Comic on Psych Studies

This Saturday Morning Breakfast Club comic strip hits a bit too close to home.
http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1582