Thursday, February 5, 2015

Apple's 'Get' Puts Paid to Free-App Sham

Apple has removed the word "free" from download buttons in its iOS and OS X app stores, replacing it with "get."
European regulators recommended the action to Apple and Google earlier this year.
In July, Google removed the "free" label from games that could be downloaded without cost -- but required in-app purchases to access a full set of features.
In-app purchasing in so-called free software has been a target of regulators in the United States and Europe this year. In January, Apple paid a US$32.5 million settlement with the FTC over in-app purchases made by minors without their parents' consent.

Google also settled with the FTC over unauthorized in-app purchases, and in September paid at least $19 million to app buyers. Meanwhile, an FTC case against Amazon for unauthorized in-app purchases made on its Kindle devices is pending in court.

Apple Awareness Efforts

Replacing "free" with "get" on an app's download button is just the latest in a series of moves Apple has made to ensure that consumers are aware when they or their kids are making an in-app purchase. For example, software with in-app purchases must include disclosures on their purchase pages and under their listings on Top Chart pages.
In addition, a passcode must be entered before an in-app purchase can be made. Buyers are notified that such a purchase is about to be made, and they're asked for final permission via pop-up warning before a buy can be completed.
The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system -- iOS 8 -- contains controls in its Family Sharing feature to approve or deny in-app purchases by children.
Those efforts didn't satisfy European regulators, however, who continued to take umbrage at the use of the word "free" for misleading consumers about the inclusion of in-app purchases.
"While Apple's clearly trying something new to respond to pressure from the EU and elsewhere, it's not clear that this will have much of an impact on consumers," Craig Palli, chief strategy officer for Fiksu, told the E-Commerce Times.

Language Trumps Design

"Over the short term, it may make users a little more conscious of their download decisions, but in the long run, any changes may not last -- only time and data will tell," Palli said.
Changing "free" to "get" makes the buying process more transparent, maintained John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League.
"More transparency about whether an app requires money to use it to its fullest extent is good for consumers," he told the E-Commerce Times. "To say an app is free and then require money is deceptive."
While "get" may not be the most elegant word to put on a download button, the English language may have gotten the best of Apple's designers in this case.
"What else, exactly, could they say on the button?" Palli wondered. "The word has to be extremely short and simple to work in that limited real estate, and it still needs to make it clear that there's no cost to download the app."

Smart Marketing Move

As disconcerting as "get" may sound to some ears, there are those that believe Apple may be pulling another marketing rabbit out its hat.
"This is a clear marketing ploy that prompts you take action," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

"It encourages action. From a marketing psychology standpoint, it's a very smart move," he told the E-Commerce Times.
On the other hand, there could be an initial downside to the change from "free" to "get," suggested John Carroll, a mass communications professor atBoston University.

"There's a marketing drawback to this because 'get' doesn't say 'free' to me," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Over time, it may come to mean that, but initially the transition may be a little rocky."

The new labeling also could create some bumps in the road for developers, but it's unlikely to change how they do business, noted Ratesh Dhir, CEO of a stealth startup in educational technology.

"I don't think it's going to have any difference on the way a developer is going to offer their product," he told the E-Commerce Times.
"There may be an early impact over the next week or so," Dhir added, "but once I press the button, and I know it's not going to charge me anything, I don't think it's going to make that much of a difference. We're all going to get used to this very, very quickly.

Firefox Develops a Case of Selective Amnesia

"The Forget feature simplifies a complex task usually provided to users through multiple checkpoints in terms of different types of content and cookies to erase," noted IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "Mozilla should be commended for adding these features. Users should not have to understand deep browser architecture to figure out how to stop websites from tracking them."

Roughly 10 years to the day after the release of Firefox 1.0, Mozilla on Monday announced an updated version of its open source browser complete with a new Forget button aimed at protecting users' privacy.
"Forget gives you an easy way to tell Firefox to clear out some of your recent activity," explained Firefox Vice President Johnathan Nightingale. "Instead of asking a lot of complex technical questions, Forget asks you only one: How much do you want to forget? Once you tell Firefox you want to forget the last five minutes, or two hours, or 24 hours, it takes care of the rest."
Also new in version 33.1 of Firefox is the inclusion of DuckDuckGo as a preinstalled search option. DuckDuckGo is best known for delivering search results without tracking users or what they search for.
Mozilla on Monday released a brand-new version of Firefox tailored for developers as well.

Off the Record

"I think the Forget button is tremendously important," John Simpson, privacy project director with Consumer Watchdog, told LinuxInsider.
"Many users share computers and don't want a list of the websites they've visited available to others," Simpson explained. "This lets users easily erase the record."
As for DuckDuckGo, it's "the search engine to use if you don't want the search engine to profile you," Simpson said. "It's an excellent, privacy-friendly addition to the search engines featured in the tool bar."

Working With Tor

Also as part of Mozilla's Monday suite of anniversary announcements, the nonprofit kicked off Polaris, a new privacy initiative that it's undertaking in partnership with the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Tor Project.
As part of Polaris, Mozilla launched two experiments. In one, Mozilla engineers are evaluating the Tor Project's changes to Firefox so as to determine if changes to Mozilla's code base could enable Tor to work more quickly and easily.
Mozilla also will soon begin hosting its own high-capacity Tor middle relays to make Tor's network more responsive and allow Tor to serve more users.
In the second Polaris experiment, Mozilla aims to explore how Firefox can offer a feature that protects users who want to avoid invasive tracking without penalizing advertisers and content sites that respect a user's preferences.

A Strong Need

"I think Mozilla is dealing with an important specific need -- a need that is probably quite strong amongst the type of user that uses Firefox," said Al Hilwa, program director for software development research with IDC.
"The use of DuckDuckGo is a great new addition because that search engine promises not to retain data about user identity," Hilwa told LinuxInsider.
"The Forget feature simplifies a complex task usually provided to users through multiple checkpoints in terms of different types of content and cookies to erase," he noted.
"Mozilla should be commended for adding these features," Hilwa said. "Users should not have to understand deep browser architecture to figure out how to stop websites from tracking them."

A False Sense of Privacy?

It is "great to see that Mozilla is making progress when it comes to simplifying user interfaces for privacy features," observed Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
At the same time, "I'm concerned that features like this might lead people into a false sense of privacy," Gillula told LinuxInsider. "After all, the Forget button can't erase the logs a Web server has of your visits, or any data that a malicious third party might have intercepted while you were browsing."
So, "as long as users understand the limits of this sort of feature, it's great," he concluded, "but we need to make sure people really understand those limits."

Not a Needle-Mover

Firefox's heightened privacy focus is unlikely to have a major effect on its market standing, Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insights for theLocal Search Association, told LinuxInsider,
"Firefox has lost share to Chrome, now the world's No. 1 browser," Sterling noted. "This appears to be a bid to partly differentiate on the basis of privacy."
Giving people additional choice and control over their browsing history is "a good idea and will be appealing to many," Sterling concluded, "though it probably won't significantly impact the market share figures."

How Linux Works Is an OS Mechanic's Mainstay

How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know, 2nd Edition
By Brian Ward
No Starch Press November 21, 2014, 392 pp. US$39.95 Print Book and E-Book (No Starch Press) $26.37 Paperback (Amazon) $31.95 E-Book (No Starch Press)

How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know offers an unglamorous view of the Linux operating system. It takes readers behind the graphical user interface into the bowels of command line operations.
This second edition of Brian Ward's classic Linux reference book is completely revised, and it offers something for every Linux user.
Ward drills down to the technical specifics that developers need -- but he also peels back the onion layers gently enough for Linux tinkerers to know what happens when they do stuff with the operating system -- and why.
Casual Linux users run a slight risk of getting lost in some of the verbiage. Readers need only basic computer-user knowledge, though, such as how to move around a GUI, and the differences between files, directories and folders.
Two more reader prerequisites include an ability to check additional system documentation and a yearning to play around with a computer.

No Fight Policy

Ward wrote this second edition to feed his passion for helping Linux users learn why and how their computers work. He believes computer users should know how to use the operating system software as intended.
How Linux Works helps to achieve that goal. It provides Linux users with an understanding of the fundamentals.
"You should never have to fight with a computer!" is Ward's battle cry. How Linux Works is a nonthreatening way to take the frustration out of using a computer.

Game Plan

This book is not organized the way you might expect. It is not a Linux For Dummies type of read that takes a soft approach. Rather, it delves into detailed workings of the Linux architecture in three basic sections.
Ward presents a solid technical view of the Linux OS in the initial chapters. This heavy dose of details goes a long way toward explaining the nuts and bolts that make Linux what it is.
Ward begins with the big picture in Chapter 1. Then he meticulously takes readers behind the scenes. He disassembles that picture layer by layer to reveal its details.
His philosophy is very clear. This is not a user's guide to navigate the desktop GUI. It is a treatise on all of the assembled components. He takes readers through basic commands and directory hierarchy, devices, and disks and filesystems in Chapters 2 through 4.

Building Momentum

That is a necessary foundation. Ward uses it to reveal to readers how the Linux kernel boots and how the user space starts in the next two chapters.
The author's intent is not to explain how to install and use a Linux distribution. Instead, Ward delves into why Linux works as it does and how to handle its complexities.
For example, Chapter 7 unwraps the mysteries of system configuration. The reader peers into logging, system time, batch jobs and users organizations. Chapter 8 gives readers a closer look at the processes of the OS and utilizing resources.

Moving Beyond

At this point, Ward has exposed the platform under the hood. This is a midpoint from which he embarks on understanding the network and its configuration. He follows those details with a hefty chapter on network applications and services.
Chapter 11 shifts to the third part of the Linux picture. This is where Ward's approach turns more toward "how" than "what."
For example, Ward presents an introduction to shell scripts. Then he follows up in Chapter 12 by showing users how to move files across the network.

Changing View

Ward provides a different perspective on the role user environments have in making the Linux operating system work in Chapter 13. He adds to this view in the next chapter by presenting a wrap-up of the Linux desktop.
Much of this book does for Linux users what a mechanic's shop book does for automotive enthusiasts. Ward tells Linux users why Linux performs as it does. Readers then can feel empowered to use Linux more masterfully.
The final three chapters push this point even further. The reader gets a close up look at development tools. Even better, the book ends with an introduction to compiling software from C Source Code and building upon the basics.

About the Author

Brian Ward has been working with Linux since 1993. He began by scraping together enough pennies for a secondhand 386 computer.
Ward has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Chicago. He now works in San Francisco as a consultant and instructor.
In addition to How Linux Works, Ward has authored The Linux Kernel-HOWTOThe Book of VMware and The Linux Problem Solver.

Bottom Line

Readers with a more technical background will find the author's approach very effective. Those who do not can follow along and just skip over the stuffy parts.
Either way, this book goes a long way toward furthering your understanding of how Linux works. If you are interested in Linux, How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know is a must-read title. 

First Look: LG Optimus G

Optimus G was launched last year and made available in selected countries only. The phone sports a large 11.9-cm (4.7-inch) True HD display and comes loaded with Android 4.1 aka Jelly Bean. It comes powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, coupled with 2 GB RAM. The phone features a 13 MP camera at the back and 1.3 MP front-facing shooter for video calling.

The Optimus G is priced at Rs 34,500 and the phone is already available in the country via online sites. 

11.9-cm (4.7-inch) HD display
Android 4.1 aka Jelly bean
1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB RAM 
13 MP rear and 1.3 MP front camera
Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, USB, Bluetooth 4.0
2,100 mAh battery 

Google To Increase Bug Bounty For Security Researchers

 Google is known for offering bug bounty to security researchers. Company takes security of its products very seriously. Google has reportedly distributed $1.5 million to security researchers for vulnerability reports in 2014. The money was distributed to over 200 researchers for 500 bug reports. Now, the company is increasing the bounty amount

Google started paying reward to security researchers in 2010. It has paid out $4 million bug bounties since then. Google pays bug bounty to researchers after their bug reports are approved by Google. Company is implementing new strategy for paid out for security researchers. Google is expanding its scope with new program, Vulnerability Research Grant. Google will pay researchers between $500 to $3,133.70 from this grant. Google is trying to implement a new strategy, in which, the company will be paying out bug bounty before research is submitted. 

The official press release of this program explains how Google values time and efforts of security researchers. Company has planned to include top performing and frequent vulnerability researchers and invited experts in the Vulnerability Reward Program for now. Google wants to reward these security researcher’s time and attention even if they don't find vulnerabilities. Google doesn't mind paying a researcher under Vulnerability Research Grant even if he doesn't find a vulnerability,

The research grant will be applicable to Google’s highly sensitive services like Google Search, Wallet, inbox, Code Hosting, Chrome Web Store, Google App Engine, Google Admin, Google Developers Console and Google Play. Finding bugs in Google Products is highly difficult. Google has published the statistics of reported bugs in 2014. 

Google has mentioned in the press release that, the main objective of grant is to look for vulnerabilities. The company is not expecting very often that vulnerabilities will be found. Google has stated, "Receiving a grant and not finding anything doesn't affect your chances of receiving a new one. The information in the survey of what you looked at and the results will be valuable for us." Google’s statistics data for bugs in 2014 reveals that, largest volume of bugs came from Europe and Asia. Google has received more valid reports from security researchers in Africa than USA.