Square allows small businesses and individuals to collect credit card payments. It works by using a small hardware dongle that connects to the headphone jack of a mobile device. The card is then swiped through the device and payments can be collected on the spot. It works on iPhone, iPad, and Android phones. Customers sign the device and a receipt is e-mailed to customer.
Square charges 2.75% of every transaction, but there are no monthly or additional fees. They are now processing more than $1,000,000 in transactions a day.
Square Home Page: https://squareup.com/
But it’s largely missing the point of the biggest problem in password protection.
Namely, the big problem is having too many logins. To be secure, you want to have a different password for each site you log into. That way if their server is compromised, like how Gawker was, hackers won’t get your password to every system.
One suggestion is to use pass phrases instead of passwords. Real words in a phrase are more difficult to guess than a single word alone. (Simply: increased length → increased security). Also a phrase is easier to remember than a series of random letters, number, and characters. Amazon has implemented a system, PayPhrase, to take advantage of this fact. (See, this MIT Technology Review article on PayPhrase)
Even if the passwords are phrases that can be remembered, it is extremely difficult to remember a bunch of different phrases and which phrase goes with which site. Ultimately, you end up with the same problem as before.
“Tricks” like incrementing a number at the end of a secure password are just as susceptible. Firstly, you have to remember which number goes to which site. Secondly, a hacker that gets access to one of the passwords has a template to go after your other passwords.
The best solution I found was to use a password system like 1Password or KeePass. I use 1Password and it creates and stores different, strong passwords for each login. Lifehacker has an excellent explanation of why this system is the best of the available options.
The new Facebook viruses use Facebook applications to spread themselves, and spread using a victim’s friend list. In addition to the photo tagging pretense I identified, these attacks use the pretense of surveys and “liking” a video or image.
As always, the best defense against these attacks is vigilance.
There is a rash of iPhone thieves on the streets (and subways) of New York City and Los Angeles. In the WSJ NYC blog, Metropolis, there is this report on a 17.8% increase in subway larcenies due largely to iPhone thefts.
Meanwhile, the pseudonymous Bob Cringely, had his iPhone snatched from his belt while in Los Angeles. Even though he had his Where is my iPhone? app, it was not to be found. Cringely explains:
The moment it was grabbed from my belt the thief handed it to an accomplice. Within a minute the phone was powered-off and untraceable. They didn’t want my data, just my iPhone.
An iPhone 4 can go for $300 in China. They replace the SIM card, spoof the MAC address or sell it for use on a network that doesn’t care. The street price in L. A. for my phone is $100. An industrious criminal can grab several phones per day.
Good thing I have a Droid, I suppose.
The hottest cloud computing application right now is Dropbox. Dropbox stores your selected files “in the cloud,” or (more accurately) on its servers. More than that, Dropbox can be used to sync files across computers. It comes with 2 GB of free storage and there are upgrades available. It’s a pretty useful tool.
I use it with 1Password to sync my password database across devices and to back up some important files. Lifehacker has published a number of articles including how to Use Dropbox for More Than Just File Syncing and How to Use Dropbox as a Killer Collaborative Work Tool.
(Oh, and if you use my referral link, you and I will both get an additional 250 MB of storage free)
Happy Passover, Everyone! Here’s an article featuring rabbis and blowtorches.
Not the final nail in the coffin, but not a good sign either. Today Zynga, which makes games for social networks has discontinued support for Mafia Wars on MySpace. It continues to support Mafia Wars and other games on Facebook.
In the Facebook/MySpace War, there is a clear winner. It will have to be the subject of a future post, but it was not long ago that this outcome was unclear.
This article gives an in-depth picture of the use of money in the Star Trek universe. “Gene Roddenberry had a rule — one of those rules that the scriptwriters of Star Trek had to know and follow: in the Federation there is no money, period!”
Of course, money almost certainly has to exist. Trade is frequently portrayed throughout the show, and real-life societies have failed to come up with a functioning money-free society.
Even in the future, in a time of plenty, the laws of economics continue to exist.