System Overlord

A blog about security engineering, research, and general hacking.

Why I will never be a Verizon Customer

Verizon has proven that they have no interest in serving consumers: Essentially, they're shipping Bing as the default search engine on Android phones (which I'm fine with) but making it impossible to change it back (which is enough to prevent me from doing business with them).  Additionally, they're forcing you into their inferior paid mapping service rather than allowing you to use Google Maps/Navigate.

Thanks, Verizon -- you've simplified my choice next time I'm shopping for a cell phone provider.  You're out.

Broadcom does the Right Thing

Looks like Broadcom is doing the right thing:

They've released fully-open drivers for 3 of their 802.11n chipsets.  I hope this'll spread to more of their hardware, but regardless, it's a great move.  No longer will Broadcom be an absolute contraindication to my buying hardware.  Thanks Broadcom!

Using Ubuntu to save at-risk youth

Nick Ali (boredandblogging) asked me to forward this on to the planets, and it's really quite worth it.  Murray Wilson has a video about refurbing older hardware through the use of Linux.  Take a look:

The Apple Silo in Education

The other day at work, I was talking with our department's Drupal Developer and our campus's webmaster.  The question came up as to whether or not I saw a role for the iPad in a classroom environment, either at the University or K-12 level.  My initial answer was yes, but my longer answer was no, not the iPad.  A device similar to the iPad, but not it.

The iPad is a fully-integrated portion of the Apple silo: without violating the warranty and EULA, you cannot install any software not approved by Apple.  "Jailbreaking" your device violates those agreements, and could never be done in the education setting.  Accordingly, Apple has full control over the software you run on your device.  For example, if they don't like a camera application that lets you use the volume button to take a picture, it's gone.  Hopefully you don't want an App that helps you find wifi hotspots:  the entire category has been banned.

It's bad enough that these applications have been banned, but at least you'd go into it knowing that you can't use those applications in your classroom setting.  What happens when an application you're using for your course is banned midway through the semester?  At least it's already on your device, right?  It is unless Apple pulls their kill switch.  Then you'd really be stuck.

The iPad form factor might have a place in the classroom, but iOS certainly does not.  At least Android will openly allow you to install apps that weren't even obtained through their Market.  Android will also allow the existence of 3rd party market places.  There's even direct install-from-web capability in the newer versions (app required).

Android aside, Ubuntu is releasing MID versions of their OS, so you could have a full-fledged operating system for your tablet device.  And with quickly, app development for Ubuntu is easier than ever.

Tablets may have a role in education, but I can't see the place for Apple's silo.

My Favorite Web Comics

Only yesterday I discovered the amazing webcomic Questionable Content. I don't know where I've been that I've missed the superior wit of Jeph Jacques, but it's worth a read for just about anyone. He's got over 1700 strips there, and I've read through the first ~900 in the past two days. Yes, it's that good. I've literally LOLed, which has led to Ann giving me several strange looks. But it's well worth it.

I figured I'd post a short list of my favorite webcomics -- I encourage everyone to check them out!