? All Tech Radio Episode 405
 all tech radio show
  • White hat hackers have found a way to hack into your mobile conversations without any hassle for less than $300 - and it's all thanks to the femtocell. When Laura Sydell of NPR experienced a cellphone hacking attempt by white-hat hackers of iSEC Partners, the damage was damning. Tom Ritter, a security consultant for iSEC Partners, was able to point out Sydell's phone number when she walked into the room. And when she called someone for a small chat, Ritter was able to record and playback the entire conversation without hassle. Even scarier, he was able to do it all with free software from the Internet and a $250 product on Best Buy. The main gadget in question? The femtocell, a low-cost low-power cellular base station that can ensure you get a signal no matter how far you are away from a tower. Femtos have been used to expand networks to the remotest parts of the Congo. But in the right hands, the power of the femtocell can be used for nefarious purposes.
  • Sony has agreed to drop its appeal and pay a£250,000 ($400,000) fine for the 2011 hack of its PlayStation Network. In January, the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) handed down the fine, arguing that the company failed to adequately update its software or keep its passwords secure, which lead to the disastrous 2011 hack of the PlayStation Network. Now, a reluctant Sony is withdrawing its petitionfor appeal, but only because it would rather pay a hefty fine than reveal how its security system works - or doesn't work, in this case. "#Sony CEE confirms it will not be appealing £250k penalty after serious #DPA breach," the ICO tweeted. "This decision reflects our commitment to protect the confidentiality of our network security from disclosure in the course of the proceeding," Sony said in a statement published by V3. "We continue to disagree with the decision on the merits."
  • Apple has embarked on a hiring spree to tackle design problems with its "iWatch" wrist computer, bringing in fresh expertise amid concern that the launch of its first new product since the death of Steve Jobs could be at least a year away. The company has begun hiring "aggressively" for the project in recent weeks, say people familiar with Apple's plans for the wearable device, a move that shows it has stepped up development but which raises questions over the ability of its own engineers to develop wearable technology.
  • Apple has said it will "fully investigate" reports that a woman was electrocuted in China while trying to use an iPhone while it was recharging. The 23-year-old's brother has given an interview saying that her family believes she received a shock when trying to answer a call on the handset. News agency Xinhua has confirmed police are investigating the death of Ma Ailun in the north-western city of Xinjiang. But it said they had not verified if a mobile phone was the cause. Ms Ma's older sister posted a message on the micro-blogging service Sina Weibo following her death on Thursday. "[I] hope that Apple Inc can give us an explanation. I also hope that all of you will refrain from using your mobile devices while charging," it read.
  • The Moto X was confirmed by Dennis Woodside at All Things D in May, and since then, we have seen marketing materials and a focus on personalization. The latest discovery by Ausdroid is aRogers promotional video that shows the powerful voice command functionality in the Moto X. It seems the leaks, whether intentional or accidental, are heating up, and that likely means we will see the launch of the Moto X soon. We were told it would come sometime before October, but it looks like we may see it sooner rather than later. The Rogers rep in the video stated it will be coming in August. With a focus on the US assembly, I imagine we may see it launch here first before moving to Canada so we could see it this month.
  • Intel has been trying to crack the smartphone market for years with limited success, but is poised to introduce new, more efficient processors that analysts have recently said could take a significant chunk of ARM's business. The concerns have hit Cambridge-based ARM's share price in the last month and are partly based on technical measurements that claimed a marked improvement in the performance of Intel's hardware. ARM executives say the numbers are skewed by companies that are friendly to Intel and claim they still have the edge.
  • Did Texas go too far or was it the right thing to do to prevent another mass shooting? San Antonio resident Justin Carter, 19, has been in jail for nearly four months. Carter says he has been assaulted repeatedly by other inmates and subsequently placed in solitary confinement. According to his lawyer, Carter is so depressed that he's on suicide watch, meaning that the jail guards have stripped him of his clothes and replaced them with only a gown. If convicted, Carter could expect up to a decade more of these conditions for the third-degree felony of making "terroristic threats." All over a Facebook post his family and attorney say was entirely joking. Carter's troubles began on Feb. 13 of this year. During an argument on Facebook over the online multiplayer game League of Legends, some told Carter that he was "crazy," according to his defense attorney, Donald Flanary III. Carter replied: "I'm f-ed in the head alright. I think I'm a shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them."
  • Elon Musk, chief executive officer of electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc., will unveil designs for a solar-powered inter-city passenger transport system by Aug. 12. The technology behind the system will be a "breakthrough" and Musk will be "happy to work with the right partners," Musk said in Twitter posts today. Musk is seeking "critical feedback" on the system and will publish it as open source, according to the tweets. Musk previously said that the so-called Hyperloop would be twice as fast as airplane travel and cheaper than high-speed rail. Musk is the chairman of SolarCity Corp. (SCTY), the rooftop power producer that's more than quadrupled in value this year.
  • Microsoft is slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet by $150 as it fights to increase its tiny share of the booming tablet market. The cut brings the price of the Surface RT with 32 gigabytes of memory to $349 without a cover, which also acts as a keyboard. Including a cover with a touch-sensitive keyboard, the device comes to $449. The Surface has a 10.1-inch screen measured diagonally. According to market research firm IDC, Microsoft shipped about 900,000 tablets in the first quarter of 2013. That includes both the slimmed-down RT version and the Pro version of Surface, which is compatible with regular Windows programs.
  • Last week brought AT&T's purchase of Leap, owners of the Cricket prepaid network. Most of us wireless watchers expected this to happen, and nobody other than the most die-hard will probably oppose it. The argument against AT&T buying Cricket is that AT&T already has enough stuff. As the FCC explained in its takedown of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, we need four wireless carriers to maintain an adequate level of competition in this country. For those four to all stay viable, AT&T and Verizon can't be allowed to use their larger bankrolls to crush Sprint and T-Mobile, after which they would drive up prices. AT&T buying Cricket makes one of the big guys bigger, opening up more space between them and the smaller two carriers and eliminating a minor, if spunky low-cost player. That's Public Knowledge's argument, for instance.

email from listeners:

  • June from Sacramento asks " Should I get an iWatch?"