WireLurker: Yet Another iOS Malware threat that you don’t have to worry about

November 8, 2014 at 6:27 pm (Apple, Current Events, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch) (, , , )

Get ready to start defending your common sense practices again with regard to your iDevices.  A Computerworld magazine screams, “Panic!” regarding “Horrible Apple iOS virus; vectored via USB: WireLurker is ‘new brand of threat’”. I’m sure Chicken Little is running around somewhere with his cute little hardhat in place to protect said cute head from the fallout of the latest malware threat.  As usual, the majority of users need not worry.  

This latest malware threat is called WireLurker, a catchy name for this critter that spreads via “trojanized/repackaged OS X applications” found on a third-party Mac app store in China.  The Maiyadi App Store has nearly 500 apps that have been infected, and those infected apps have been downloaded over 350,000 times.  The app store is quite popular because it allegedly offers popular Mac apps for free.  Step right up and get your infected copy of Angry Birds, The Sims, and more. 

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Saving a buck or two is just not worth it when it comes to the well-being of your iDevices, not to mention you’re cheating developers out of their hard-earned money.  What makes this malware different from others is that WireLurker can hop from an infected OS X computer to a non-jailbroken iDevice via USB. However, the user still has to trust the computer and approve the installation.  Nothing new here, kids.  As long as you don’t say, “Ok, I trust you, now let’s go ahead and continue to install and run the free version of this app that I know I should have paid for but I didn’t”, you should be ok. Is it really worth the risk to save two bucks and cheat the developer out of the money he should have gotten for making this cool app? As long as you use common sense, only download apps from the Apple store, and don’t download software from third party sites (especially in China), you should be just fine.  

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1Password App Extension Coming in iOS 8

August 6, 2014 at 9:48 am (1Password, Apple, Applications, Current Events, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, Productivity) (, , , )

One of the really cool things announced at Apple’s WWCD this year was the addition of app extensions for iOS 8 (iOS is the operating system that runs our iDevices).  When you log in to an app on an iDevice, you have to do the copy and paste dance of going to 1Password (or your notes or wherever you have your login info), go back and forth between the screens a couple of times, until you submit the info and successfully log in to the app…unless you use the same password for everything, but you don’t do that, right?  Because that’s just wrong, and setting yourself up for a world of hurt.  So, the announcement about app extensions was fantastic!  Because now, you won’t have to do that do-si-do anymore.  There is a short video at 1Password’s blog where you can get a look at the coolness of it.  More info will be coming soon, but I can’t wait for this feature.  Be sure to let your favorite app developers know that you want them to use the 1Password extension with their apps. 

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Apple iDevices Held for Ransom Down Under: Don’t Reuse Those Passwords, Mate

May 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm (1Password, Apple, Applications, Current Events, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch) (, , , )

Something interesting happened in Australia recently when Mac, iPhone, and iPad users were hacked using Apple’s Find My iPhone feature to lock devices and send ransom messages to the owners. They demanded a $50 “unlock fee” to be paid via PayPal payment from the owners. 

 

While it wasn’t immediately evident how these hackers gained access to the devices, it was soon ascertained that they obtained the information from a data breach. Because many people reuse passwords, it is likely that the hackers found people who used the same passwords for the accounts from the data breach and their Apple ID, which then allowed them control of  the iDevices. 

 

Apple made a brief statement to let people know that iCloud was not compromised.  They also advised those affected to change their passwords. They can also go to their local Apple store or call Apple Care if they need additional assistance. 

 

This reinforces the sensibility of utilizing two-step authentication whenever possible, and reminds users to never reuse the same password across accounts. It also reiterates the need to use a good password manager such as 1Password to create strong passwords for all your accounts. Until next time, be safe with those passwords folks. Friends don’t let friends reuse passwords.  


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Cool Stuff that Siri can do for You

June 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm (Apple, How-to, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, Productivity) (, , , , )

You may already be a seasoned professional when it comes to using Siri, but there are always more goodies you can add to your bag of tricks. When Siri first became available on the iPhone, one of the first things I asked was “What can you do for me?” and Siri tossed up a handful of suggestions. Back then, they were fairly simple things like calling people, sending texts, and setting reminders. Siri has evolved in the nearly two years that we have been using her assistance. There are a lot more things you can outsource Siri to do for you now. 

Here are just a few:

Say/Ask This:                                          To Do This:

Call (Mike / my brother)               Call a person (by name or relationship)

Launch ‘Facebook’                        Launch (app of choice)

Tell Malissa I’m on my way           Sends text to (person) with your message

Set up a meeting at 9am              Adds a meeting onto your schedule

Did the Broncos win today?         Checks and reports team scores 

Give me directions to Selmer       Gives directions to any named place

Tweet a message                          Tweets a message to post to Twitte

What movies are playing?            Tells what movies are playing nearby

Play brandi carlile                          Plays (singer) or (playlist) that you request

Remind me to pay bills                 Sets a reminder based on your request

Email Nik about the trip                 Sends email to (person) about (subject)

What’s today’s weather?                Tells you the weather forecast 

What’s apple’s stock price             Tells you company’s stock price

Wake me tomorrow at 9am           Sets an alarm for 9am 

What’s Nancy’s address?               Gets (person’s) address

Note that i need to buy milk          Adds a note to buy milk

Search the web for xxx                  Searches web for (chosen topic)

Define (word)                                  Looks up and gives definition of (word)

Find a good Sushi place                Lists nearby Sushi (or other) restaurants

In addition to the above commands, you can also have Siri help with punctuation and a few emoticons (oh, come on. You knew it was only a matter of time). 😉  Speaking punctuation such as “new paragraph”,  “new line”, “cap”, “period”, “full stop”,  or “(other desired punctuation mark)”,  will get the desired results most of the time.  Some emoticons  work, such as “smiley” or “smiley face”, “frowny” or “frowny face”,  and “wink face”. 

There is occasionally a glitch if Siri doesn’t understand you.  Get some practice by speaking normally, being sure to enunciate your words properly.  The more you use it, the more accurate your results will be.

Most of those listed above are, believe it or not, fairly basic uses of Siri.  She has evolved quite a bit in the past couple of years.  Some of the even more impressive tasks Siri can help you manage now include the following:  search other web browsers (Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia) for information; update your social network status on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ via SMS (must set up ahead of time);  see and set calendar appointments for a certain day;  tell you what actors were in a particular movie; set or delete alarms; list flight times;  restart springboard/finder;  and more.  Calculations and other “fact-type” questions are searched using Wolfram Alpha. It is also integrated with Remember the Milk and other applications, to make those apps even easier to use. 

Many folks are aware that Siri also has some nifty little Easter Eggs, as well as a rather wicked (programmed) sense of humor.  There are at least a few blogs dedicated to these chuckle-inducing experiences, along with some dedicated to funny “oops” moments when a word is misspelled or misunderstood, yielding some unpredictable and often hilarious results. 

I tried a few questions early on, several of them the same that many others have also tossed at our able silicon-based assistant. Just a few samples:

Siri StarWars 2

Q:  “What can you tell me about ‘Star Wars (1977)’?”  
A:   “It’s about a couple of really nice robots who get mixed up in a silly intergalactic war”.  

Q:  “Define supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”  
A:   “The sound of that is something quite atrocious”.

Q:  “Who is on first?”
A:   “Correct. Who is on first.”  

 Q:  “What is the meaning of life?” 
 A:  “All evidence to date points to chocolate” (“42” is another hilarious answer).

These are just the tip of the iceberg regarding things that Siri can help you do these days.  I suspect that with iOS 7, that list will increase exponentially. I love having Siri help me make quick work of my tasks.  That gives me that much more time to spend on things that are really important.  Those are just a few that I’ve asked, and I’ve heard of or read many dozens more.  I’m glad the programmers made it a bit humorous. It makes me think they thought even more of their end user. 

What are your favorite things about Siri?  Have you had any humorous interactions with her? What would you like to see in iOS 7?  Let me know in the comments.   

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15 iPad Apps to Boost Productivity

April 25, 2013 at 4:19 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Like many people these days, my friends and I are spending more and more time using mobile devices for work and play. I’ve done a little bit of investigating, and have come up with fifteen of the best iPad apps for boosting productivity:

IOS App Icons 2

1. Evernote (Free) How would you like it if you could remember everything? With Evernote, you’ll never forget anything again…but, if you do, you can skim back thru your index and find it. Evernote for iPad lets you create new text, audio, and photo notes. With its gesture control, you can view existing Evernote content just by swiping or tapping your finger. It lets you create multiple types of notes, organize them in notebooks, and syncs automatically and flawlessly. You can also share with others. There is also a Premium account with more great features, including their amazing text recognition. It’s cross-platform and cross-device, so you’ll never be without your information again. It’s truly become my peripheral brain. If I could only have one app, this would be it.

2. 1Password ($17.99) This hall of fame app is easily the best password manager for the iPad, iOS and Mac (also for Windows and Android). It uses industry standard security, has a user-friendly (and gorgeous) interface, has desktop partner apps for Mac and Windows, and automagically syncs with Dropbox to keep everything at your fingertips. Use it to store log-ins, software registrations, secure notes, account information, and more. Generate strong passwords to protect your digital information. Use the in-app browser to log in to places like online banking sites securely from within the app. There were previously separate apps for iPhone and iPad, but now there is one universal app. This is a great standalone app, but it’s really powerful when you use it in conjunction with its desktop counterpart.

3. Dropbox (Free) This service lets you take your photos, documents, and videos anywhere and easily share them. You can keep files in a central location accessible to all devices, and share with other users. It is integrated with many iOS apps and has become the standard app to which many apps sync to safely store information.

4. TextExpander ($4.99) – This is an invaluable app on your Mac, and now it has come to the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Use short abbreviations that expand to words, snippets of text, or entire paragraphs to increase productivity and save lots of typing. Set your abbreviation then watch it expand to fill information such as addresses, URL’s, standard responses, and more. Every day, more apps are integrated with it…over 100 already. Sync your TextExpander snippets with your Mac via Dropbox.

5. Notability ($1.99) This was Apple’s best selling note-taker of 2012. Taking notes is an essential part of important work meetings, but everyone has their own style and preferred method of capturing and transcribing information. Notability rolls all those styles into one handy app. You can type, doodle notes by hand, record snippets of audio, pull images from the web or add them from your photo library, annotate PDFs, and index everything in one place. Once you have your notes, you can sync to your favorite cloud service. You can also import Microsoft Office files (.doc, .ppt, and .xls) as PDFs using Google Drive.

6. JotNot Scanner Pro ($.99) When you need to scan docs, this is the app to use. Take a picture of your document (or batch scan multiple docs), adjust the corners where you want them, then send it to yourself via Evernote, email, uploading to Dropbox, etc. Scan your docs, receipts, (and anything else you can snap with your camera) into PDFs. Take advantage of in-app faxing to U.S. numbers via fax credits (99¢ for up to 5 pages). You can adjust file size and resolution within the app. Tag, search, and sort your documents. It automatically detects standard paper sizes, or you can set custom sizes. View PDF docs or export them to other iOS apps such as iBooks. Some folks prefer Scanner Pro ($6.99). Both do essentially the same things. I’ve always used JotNot, and never had an issue. I have some friends who use Scanner Pro who say the same thing. Get whichever looks better to you. You can’t go wrong with either one, although there’s a $6 price difference at the moment.

7. Wunderlist (Free) After trying over a dozen planners, to-do lists, and reminder-type apps, this has become my favorite of the bunch. It might not have all the bells and whistles (or price tag!) of OmniFocus or Things, but by the same token, I don’t get all bogged down in it, and I can just concentrate on getting things done. Wunderlist has won multiple awards from Lifehacker, Mashable, and others. You can create and manage multiple lists in one place, set reminders, and add recurring tasks and subtasks. It is easy to collaborate with others by inviting friends or colleagues to share lists. In addition to using this for basic to-do lists, I have a media list that a group of us share and a shopping list that I share with my partner. We can both add to it from our respective iDevices, and it stays in sync between us. Never forget the ice cream again 🙂

8. Log Me In (Free) This app gives you direct access to your computer at home or work with just one click. Remotely access your computer or access and edit files from your iPad as if you were sitting at your computer. Never be away from important files again. The Pro version has premium features.

9. Dragon Dictation (Free) This is by far the best voice-to-text tool that I’ve ever used. It works from the moment you install it with no configuration or setting up, and no ‘training’ period. It is the embodiment of the phrase ‘it just works.’ If fast typing isn’t your thing, this is a great solution for hands-free transcription. This helpful and accurate dictation app turns your speech into text, then lets you send it easily to social networking apps, email, or other programs. Once you get a feel for it, using this app is a breeze.

10. iXpenseIt ($4.99) – This one has taken multiple awards for favorite app from different sites. It helps with expense tracking, budgeting, and bill reminders for personal or business use. There’s an export feature using email or wi-fi, or use .CSV importing into either Numbers or Excel spreadsheets. Access your data via any web browser using the wi-fi option, or email expense reports, with photos if desired. The lite version has limit of 200 records, including recurring expenses, so you can give it a try.

11. OfficeTime ($7.99, Universal) Accurately tracking time spent working across multiple projects in a day can feel like a tedious juggling act that completely saps your focus. This easy-to-use time tracker app handles that task for you. All you do is set a project and tap a button. Switching between different tasks auto pauses your current project when you swap. Export to Numbers or Excel, Mac or PC. Designed for Freelancers and small teams. There is also a free version with limited functionality, but it should be enough to let you see that you would like the paid version so you can track unlimited projects and categories and sync to your Mac or PC.

12. Camera+ for iPad ($.99) Since the day it was released, Camera+ has been the best iPhone app for taking and editing photos. It runs circles around Apple’s own Camera app, largely due to the “Clarity” filter that improves almost any photo in any circumstances. I rarely take photos with my iPad, but I do a lot of minor editing and enhancing, and that is where this app shines. There are oodles of filters, effects, and treatments that have been created by figure skater turned model turned professional photographer, Lisa Bettany, and she has worked some serious magic with this app. Use one effect, or stack them for even more unique results. Then add borders and captions for a little extra punch. Keep your photos in sync between your iDevices using their iCloud Lightbox feature, then share your photos via popular social media apps.

13. Flipboard (Free) This flagship iPad app is still the standard for news apps on the iPad, or as they say, “your personal magazine”. Completely customizable to suit your tastes, it is a great aggregator of all your favorite sources, from Twitter and Facebook to your favorite ‘read later’ app, with a gorgeous magazine style layout. A cool new feature includes the ability to literally save content into your own magazines, for example to make a “Dream Trip” planning guide, or set up your very own magazine for all things geocaching. Did I mention the gorgeous layout? 😉

14. Pocket (Free) Save long articles, web pages, or videos to view later, when you have time, on your computer, iPhone, or iPad. It syncs automatically across devices. Save virtually anything from your browser or from over 300 apps. This is another app that has been a repeat award winner over the past year or so. This is a great app for when I’m stuck somewhere without online access and a weak or non-existent cell signal. Thanks to Pocket, I can still access prime content. Some new features include sharing content and sending to friends.

15. Spotify (Free) When I’m working or relaxing or pretty much any time in between, I’ve got to be listening to music. It just makes me more productive. This excellent music streaming service is now a universal iOS app and it’s a great one. You can listen to your own music for free or get full offline access to all your favorite synced playlists with a Spotify premium account. U.S. users can listen to free radio as well. Share your favorite music with friends and send it to Facebook. Listening to music just got a whole lot better.

Bonus app: Bento for iPad ($9.99) For an all-around organizational tool for your life, check out Bento. This app has 25 different database templates designed for a variety of subjects, including recipes, event planning, inventory tracking, billable hours and expenses, vehicle maintenance, and contacts. All the templates are customizable, so you can tweak them to suit your specific needs, or design your own from scratch. Organize virtually any type of information. This can be used as a standalone app, or in conjunction with the iPhone ($4.99) version or Mac ($49.99) version. It does have a bit of a learning curve, but there are some great tutorials available online.

There you have it. Those are my fifteen top apps for boosting productivity using just your iPad and a few well-placed taps and swipes. Let me know what apps you can’t live without.

 

 

 

 

 

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You’ve Purchased HOW Many Apps???

June 18, 2011 at 1:45 am (Apple, Applications, Humor, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, shareware) (, , , , , )

I stumbled across this Mac application recently after seeing one of my friends, @chartier, tweet about it and thought I’d share it with you so we can all be staggering around in disbelief at the sheer number of apps that we have purchased (and how much we’ve spent on them!). I’d been trying to find a program like this after a friend and I were discussing how many apps we’d purchased for our iDevices. After seeing David’s tweet, I decided to download it and give it a go.

The application, by WetFish Software, is called App Store Expense Monitor. It’s a free app (donations accepted).  It’s just a straightforward zip file for your Mac. Run it, and the program finds all the apps in your iTunes Mobile Applications folder. It tells you the App, Developer, Category, and Price of the apps you’ve downloaded.

AppStoreExpensesInfo

It shows the current price of the app, although you can edit the price to reflect what you actually paid for it — good for those that might have been free or that even (gasp!) cost more when you purchased it than they do now.

It can be exported as a CSV or XML file.  I did have to change the path so my Mobile Apps folder could be located, as it wasn’t quite in the standard spot. However, this was easy enough to do, as it just involved choosing the desired path and selecting it in the options.

Try it and see what you think.  You can download from their website here:  http://wetfish.de/software/osx/app-store-expense-monitor/ . I have 342 apps totaling $593.57.  Leave me a comment below and let’s compare purchases.

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