Also, cable companies fight municipal broadband, AOL gives itself the right to robocall you, Spotify adds an equalizer, how you can play Game Boy Advanced games on your iPhone, and The Onion reports about a new Kindle feature that will show off how smart you are.
USB Gone Bad: We Might Have A Problem
Who among us will be the first to invent the USB condom? #badUSB
— David E. Robinson (@der_no) August 1, 2014
USB ports are great because they’re versatile – but that presents a security risk, according to researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell. A seemingly harmless device could be causing you all sorts of problems, by pretending to be something it’s not.
USB sticks, as an example, can be reprogrammed to spoof various other device types in order to take control of a computer, exfiltrate data, or spy on the user.
Nohl and Lell will demonstrate “a new form of malware that operates from controller chips inside USB device” during a presentation next week at the annual Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas.
No one has proven such threats are out there right now, but it’s still not a happy thought.
Comcast Wants Big Government To Protect Them From Little Governments
Sick of waiting for Comcast and Time Warner to offer faster speeds, some American cities built their own high-speed Internet service. Chattanooga, Tennessee has the fastest Internet in America because of such a network – faster than Google Fiber.
Naturally cable companies think this should be illegal. And it is – in 20 states.
The FCC (already busy dealing with net neutrality) recently said it would help towns work around these state laws, if the result would be faster Internet for residents. Representative Marsha Blackburn – ironically from Tennessee, the same state as Chattanooga – recently proposed an amendment saying the FCC can’t do this.
It’s not clear it will pass in the Senate, but critics say it’s just a cable industry scheme to avoid competition. The industry, obviously, disagrees.
Sony Launches A Streaming Game Service
US and Canada Playstation 4 users just got a new feature: Playstation Now, Sony’s game streaming service. With it you can play games online without the need to download them first – but Netflix for gaming this isn’t.
Instead of a monthly fee for unlimited access, Playstation Now offers rentals ranging from $2 and $20. Current offerings are from the Playstation 3 era.
Sony recently turned down EA’s game rental service, making it an XBox One exclusive. Now they control their own rental service on the platform.
AOL Wants To Call You, Maybe
Word association time: AOL.
Did “forward-thinking” come to mind? Or did you think of using a land line to connect to the Internet?
Well it turns out AOL isn’t done with phones: their latest terms of service gives them to right to call you with prerecorded messages.
(That’s right: call you. On the phone. AOL doesn’t do texts, apparently.)
“You give us consent to use autodialed and prerecorded messages to contact you at the number you provide to us,” says the company’s new terms of service, which also has a clause preventing class action lawsuits.
As potentially annoying as this is, we can’t say we’re surprised. This is, after all, the company that managed to turn WinAmp from an industry leader to a laggard.
Spotify Added An Equalizer
Speaking of WinAmp: do you remember the equalizer? It was a prominent feature of early MP3 software, and even older stereos, that allowed you to adjust the treble and bass levels when you were cranking your tunes.
Anyway, Spotify just added an equalizer to their iOS app, meaning you can now adjust the levels to your heart’s content. Crank up the bass!
Play Game Boy Advanced Games On Your iPhone
Apple doesn’t allow emulators on its platform, but coders keep finding a way to offer them. GBA4IOS is a free Game Boy Advanced emulator you can install on your iPhone or iPad, for free.
Installing this is a little odd: you’ll need to set your time back 24 hours before you can download it, a trick that apparently lets this unapproved app get around Apple’s walled garden.
Of course, you can’t play any games with this unless you download ROMs – which would be illegal. We know none of you would break the law, ever, so I suppose this isn’t useful – just like the emulators you installed on your Raspberry Pi.
Onion Reports On New Kindle Feature
And finally, there’s one problem with e-readers: you can’t show off which book you’re currently reading. The Onion reports on this totally-real, not-a-joke-at-all, you-should-take-this-seriously-because-it’s-not-a-joke upgrade for the Kindle that reads the title of whatever book you’re reading. Repeatedly.
(Totally serious, not a joke. Seriously.)
Let’s Discuss: Will USB Destroy Us All?
We want to know: are you worried about BadUSB? Are Comcast and friends right to fight municipal broadband, or is this just a cynical ploy to avoid competition? Which Game Boy Advanced games will you, respecting the law, absolutely not play on your iPhone? I’m filling in for Dave today, and am excited to talk about all this and more with you. Let’s get started.