SiliconANGLE http://siliconangle.com Extracting the signal from the noise. Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:04:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Android Wear is getting a massive update, here’s what you need to know http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/android-wear-is-getting-a-massive-update-heres-what-you-need-to-know/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/android-wear-is-getting-a-massive-update-heres-what-you-need-to-know/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 06:04:15 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227064 Continue reading ]]> LG_WATCH_URBANE5In a bid to make Android Wear more “helpful”, Google Inc. is rolling out a major update to its smartwatch operating system over the coming weeks. Announced Monday, the update includes a new app launcher, Wi-Fi support, new ways to access apps, contacts and notifications and the ability to draw emoji on-screen.

The update will be available first on the LG Watch Urbane (pictured above), slated to go on sale this month, before rolling out to Android Wear smartwatches already available from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony, Asus and Huawei.

Here is what you need to know about the latest Android Wear update:

Apps stay on-screen, even when you’re not looking

alwayson_500

Right now, apps on Android Wear ‘close’ when you are no longer looking at the screen – when, for instance, you drop your arm the watch reverts to the clock face. The new update will keep an active app on screen regardless of whether you are looking at it or constantly moving your arm. To save battery life, the display will default to monochrome when you’re not actively looking at it.

Connect your Android Wear watch to Wi-Fi and leave your phone at home

Android Wear already supports offline music and GPS-based services. Going forward – provided your Android Wear smartwatch has built in Wi-Fi – you’ll be able to use your watch even if you don’t have your smartphone with you. All that is needed is that your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network and that your phone – which is likely at home – is also connected to a data network. You’ll be able to receive notifications, send and receive messages and use apps without your phone being nearby.

Access features with the flick of the wrist and draw emoji

wristgesture_500

The update also adds new ways to access your news and notifications. A flick of the wrist – away from you – brings up the next card or notification in your stream. A flick of the wrist towards you takes you to the previous card.

Accessing apps is easier with the new update. Swipe left from the idle screen to access a list of installed apps and a second left swipe brings up your contacts. A third left swipe brings up a list of actions such as “Take a note” or Google’s “Speak Now” voice command.

If a simple emoji will suffice in reply to a message, Android Wear will now let you draw an emoji on-screen using your finger. The system will recognize your drawing and convert it into the correct emoji and send it via message or text. According to Google recognition of hundreds of emoji has been tested.

Image credits: LG Watch Urbane via LG; Android Wear via Android
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/android-wear-is-getting-a-massive-update-heres-what-you-need-to-know/feed/ 0
By next year you may be able to buy a Nokia smartphone again http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/by-next-year-you-may-be-able-to-buy-a-nokia-smartphone-again/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/by-next-year-you-may-be-able-to-buy-a-nokia-smartphone-again/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 04:47:50 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227054 Continue reading ]]> nokia phone boxNokia Technologies, one of only three business units of the once dominant Finnish mobile phone maker to remain, may be staging a re-entry into the consumer smartphone market as early as 2016. Sources familiar with Nokia Oyj’s plans told Re/code that, alongside a new smartphone, the company is also working on virtual reality technology, among other projects.

Nokia exited the mobile phone market when it sold its mobile phone division to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion in 2013. What remained of Nokia was its maps business, its network hardware business and Nokia Technologies. Nokia owns in excess of 10,000 patents, and Nokia Technologies is charged with licensing those patents to third parties.

Last year the company took a stab at the tablet market when it launched the Nokia N1, an eight-inch Android-based tablet. The Nokia N1 may have been designed in Finland, but it is only available in China so far and is built, marketed, sold and distributed by Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwanese manufacturer who is best known for making Apple products.

Under the terms of the deal with Microsoft, Nokia is not allowed to bring to market a mobile phone carrying the Nokia brand until December 31, 2015, and even then it is unlikely to bring manufacturing back in-house. The company will likely follow the same strategy as it did with the N1 tablet.

According to the report, Nokia is not resting on its laurels, but rather the company is preparing for the future by preparing to launch new products in 2016 and after.

“They have a lot of great stuff in development,” Richard Kerris, a former Nokia executive and consultant told Re/code. “It gave me complete confidence that Nokia is a company that is not going away.”

Details about these projects under development were not forthcoming; however, Kerris said “people will be blown away if some of the stuff he saw comes to market.”

Given what little we know, we can only speculate as to what Nokia’s strategy for a comeback to phones would be. They may launch an Android smartphone as an accompaniment to the Nokia N1 tablet and sell it in China as part of the existing deal with Foxconn, or they could take a different route entirely.

Microsoft has since dropped the Nokia name and branding on its smartphones.

photo credit: Nokia N9 Unboxing 003 BestBoyZ via photopin (license)
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/by-next-year-you-may-be-able-to-buy-a-nokia-smartphone-again/feed/ 0
Spammy: Twitter now allows users to accept DMs from anyone http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/spammy-twitter-now-allows-users-to-accept-dms-from-anyone/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/spammy-twitter-now-allows-users-to-accept-dms-from-anyone/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 04:39:33 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227052 Continue reading ]]> twitter dmTwitter Inc. has changed the way its direct messaging (DM) service works by introducing the ability to receive DM’s from anyone.

Previously users could only receive DM’s from people they were following, although as TechCrunch notes some users have previously had an exemption to this rule, in particular, brands, and some verified users.

With the change, which Twitter itself is dubbing as making it “easier than ever to have private conversations,” users are now presented with setting that allows them to receive DMs from anyone, within the privacy section of Twitter settings.

To support the changes to DM’s, updated messaging rules now allow users to reply to anyone who sends them a DM, regardless of whether or not that person follows the user.

A new DM button will now appear on profile pages on both Android and iOS, identifying users who are happy to accept DM from people they are not following.

Spam

 

The biggest risk of opening up Twitter accounts to direct messages from strangers is the obvious one: spam.

Do Twitter users, outside of business accounts and say journalists (it’s a great idea for talking to potential sources) really want an open door on Twitter that invites the spammers in, directly, versus the current setup where they simply spam people’s timelines? In context, any user of Twitter can vouch for the fact that the service already has a spam problem and this could potentially make it worse.

However, there is some solace in the announcement: users aren’t being defaulted into the new feature and instead have to manually opt into it, at least for now; when Twitter realizes virtually no one will opt in, that may change in future.

If you want to turn on the feature, go to settings>security & privacy, then scroll down the page, it’s at the very bottom. Naturally click on the box to turn on.

]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/21/spammy-twitter-now-allows-users-to-accept-dms-from-anyone/feed/ 0
SaaS customer support startup Freshdesk raises $50 million Series E http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/saas-customer-support-startup-freshdesk-raises-50-million-series-e/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/saas-customer-support-startup-freshdesk-raises-50-million-series-e/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:35:37 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227049 Continue reading ]]> 7975803193_098c750d79_nSaaS customer support startup Freshdesk Inc. has raised $50 million Series E in a round led by Tiger Global that included Accel Partners and Google Capital.

Founded in 2010, Freshdesk offers a customer support solution that is says makes it easy for companies to interact seamlessly with customers across all channels, including social and mobile.

Employees are able to organize inquiries using a filters such as by agent or priority, and admins are able to configure the system to set standard times for responding to a customer request.

The firm, interestingly founded off the back of a comment on Hacker News, caters to a wide variety of businesses, from small to medium enterprises, through to big businesses, and boasts of a customer base of 40,000. Well known Freshdesk customers include 3M, Honda, Hugo Boss, University of Pennsylvania, The Atlantic, and Petronas.

Freshdesk runs on a Freemium model, with basic features offered to businesses for free, with add-ons paid for.

“Freshdesk offers a compelling, modern customer experience delivered with cloud-scale cost and flexibility,” General Partner at Google Capital Gene Frantz said on the round. “We are excited to support Freshdesk with additional investment as it continues to innovate, scale and reach new heights.”

Competitors include Zendesk and Salesforce.com, both in themselves big names in the space, but likewise a rapidly growing sector of the SaaS market and one with ample opportunities for a startup such as Freshdesk to stake its claim for a share of the pie.

Includung the new round, Freshdesk has raised $95.1 million over six rounds. The investors over the six rounds were the same as the investors in the new round.

Freshdesk said it would use the new round of funding will help the company further invest in its products and scale to meet fast-growing demand for its Freshdesk and Freshservice support platforms.

photo credit: P9100051 via photopin (license)
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/saas-customer-support-startup-freshdesk-raises-50-million-series-e/feed/ 0
Mobilegeddon: Google to boot non-mobile friendly sites from mobile search results http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/mobilegeddon-google-to-boot-non-mobile-friendly-sites-from-mobile-search-results/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/mobilegeddon-google-to-boot-non-mobile-friendly-sites-from-mobile-search-results/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 03:05:58 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227045 Continue reading ]]> 5732618701_6c46d8664d_nGoogle Inc., is about to change the way it ranks sites, and if your website isn’t mobile friendly you may be about to lose a pile of search engine referred traffic.

Dubbed Mobilegeddon and due to launch sometime on Tuesday (April 21st,) the change will see sites that are not mobile friendly ranked down on Google’s search engine results as displayed via a search from a mobile device.

The change does not affect Google’s standard, non-mobile search engine results.

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps” a post on the Google Webmaster Blog reads.

Criteria for what makes a “mobile friendly” site includes text size, the amount of space between links and whether the content fits across a mobile screen. Of note it doesn’t mean that the site should be some sort of massively dumbed down, basic version of the site (think the “iPhone friendly sites” circa 2008) but one which practices good internet by playing nicely on a phone through CSS resizing, and other features that make it easy on the eye.

Google is trying to make it fairly easy for site owners to work out whether their sites are “mobile friendly” or not with a Mobile-Friendly Test available to all, and for users of Google Webmaster Tools (GWT…if you own a website and you’re not signed up to GWT, you should be) a Mobile Usability Report is available from the GWT panel.

Users of GWT will also be able to track any changes in their search engine results pages (SERPs) once Mobilegeddon has come into full swing.

C-C-C-Changes

 

On one hand there’s logic in what Google is doing in terms of usability for the end user; yes, prioritizing mobile friendly sites in mobile search results will improve the mobile browsing experience.

But in the age of bigger, brighter and shinier smartphones it could be argued that given most modern phones do not struggle with rendering “non-mobile friendly” sites, the change to search engine results is overkill, and likewise may conversely see sites excluded from results that may have actually been the best pages to be shown in the SERPs.

The one advice to site owners everywhere: if your site isn’t mobile friendly as defined by Google, you’re going to have to get it up to scratch urgently because you’re about to lose a significant amount of traffic.

photo credit: Jesus Christ claims His Throne 2 via photopin (license)
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/mobilegeddon-google-to-boot-non-mobile-friendly-sites-from-mobile-search-results/feed/ 0
Top 25 public gaming companies earned $54.1 billion last year, industry up 10% overall http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/top-25-public-gaming-companies-earned-54-1-billion-last-year-industry-up-10-overall/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/top-25-public-gaming-companies-earned-54-1-billion-last-year-industry-up-10-overall/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 22:10:40 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227039 Continue reading ]]> Nintendo Retro gamingThe video game industry shows no signs of slowing as the global game market grew 10.4 percent in 2014, according to research firm Newzoo.

Last year, the top 25 companies in gaming earned of $54.1 billion in revenue, accounting for about 65 percent of the $83.6 billion earned by the video game industry overall.

Chinese company Tencent Holdings Limited, which owns League of Legends developer Riot Games, leads the pack with $7.2 billion earned in game revenue, reflecting an incredible 37 percent growth over the previous year.

Other members in the top five companies include Sony Corp, Microsoft Corp, Electronic Arts Inc, and Activision Blizzard Inc, in that order.

Nintendo Co Ltd is one of the few top gaming companies that saw its numbers decrease, dropping about 13 percent. The poor performance of the Wii U and the lack of significant new titles likely contributed to the company’s lowered revenue figures, but Newzoo notes that Japanese video game companies, with the exception of Sony and a handful of others, performed poorly in general.

“The weak Yen obviously hurts the share of global revenues of Japanese companies when expressed in US$, but the Japanese industry also suffered from two fundamental weaknesses: being very exposed to the traditional console market with low growth and the three of Japan’s four mobile powerhouses Nintendo (-13% YoY), DeNA (-38% YoY) and GREE (-23%) being big in the “wrong” mobile sub-segments, notably feature phones and handhelds,” Newzoo wrote.

“Both issues are being addressed with a shift in focus towards iOS and regular Android games, but whether the partnership between Nintendo and troubled DeNA is the best route to global success on mobile remains to be seen.”

There was a strong showing for mobile games in 2014, with Candy Crush Saga creator King Digital Entertainment coming out ahead of Nintendo. EA also credited mobile games with some of the company’s success earlier this year, claiming a monthly active user base of 160 million people.

According to Newzoo, if Clash of Clans dev Supercell had been a public company, it would have come in at number 11 on the list, an impressive feat for a company with fewer than 200 employees.

More detailed information on how the industry performed can be found in Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, which you can purchase here.

photo credit: smcgee via photopin cc
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/top-25-public-gaming-companies-earned-54-1-billion-last-year-industry-up-10-overall/feed/ 0
How the desire for Jedi killed Star Wars Galaxies http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/how-the-desire-for-jedi-killed-star-wars-galaxies/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/how-the-desire-for-jedi-killed-star-wars-galaxies/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:50:26 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227011 Continue reading ]]> Star_Wars_Galaxies_Box_Art

While the “New Game Enhancement” update is considered by many to be the death blow that eventually killed Star Wars Galaxies, former creative director Raph Koster says the seeds for the game’s destruction were planted only months after its release with the introduction of Holocrons, items that gave players information on how to access to the incredibly rare Jedi skill tree.

“After Holocrons, the game was dead; it was just that nobody knew it yet,” Koster wrote in a recent blog post. “Pretty much every single subsequent change can be traced back to that day. All the panicky patches, the changes, the [Combat Upgrade] and the [New Game Enhancement], were all about trying to get the sub curve back on a growth trajectory.”

Jedi characters were unlocked when players reached the master level of four randomly determined professions. Initially, players were not told what professions were chosen or even when they had successfully completed one. The idea was to make Jedi rare and to keep players from figuring out the system used to unlock them. According to Koster, they predicted it would take years for the first Jedi character to be unlocked.

 

“It seemed like a cruelly mechanistic trick”

 

But when LucasArts marketing told the developer “we need a Jedi by Christmas” and to “drop hints,” holocrons were added that would inform players of the next skill they needed to complete.

“The problem is obvious,” Koster wrote. “As soon as three people all have gotten a hint that what they need is to master a specific skill box, the secret was out.”

Jedi characters went from being seemingly random gifts to tedious yet attainable goals. Koster explains that once people knew how to unlock Jedi, they felt obligated to master skills that they considered boring just to access a game feature.

“It seemed like a cruelly mechanistic trick, after the dreams [the players] had had; a system that worked better when nobody knew how it worked,” Koster wrote. “And it had worked, for a while. People dreamed of Jedi, and were content, and had fun. They were attainable, powerful, and absent, and the rat race wasn’t a factor.”

He added, “The genie was out of the bottle, though: Jedi was a thing for grinders and achievement-mad powergamers, and a little quest chain was never going to stop them. They were everywhere.”

Image credit: “Star Wars Galaxies Box Art” Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/how-the-desire-for-jedi-killed-star-wars-galaxies/feed/ 0
Teradata rolls out warehouse appliance, adds virtualization feature http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/teradata-rolls-out-warehouse-appliance-adds-virtualization-feature/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/teradata-rolls-out-warehouse-appliance-adds-virtualization-feature/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:09:59 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=227022 Continue reading ]]> Teradata 2800 applianceWhile Teradata Corp.’s recent acquisitions should leave little doubt that the data warehousing giant is serious about distributed Hadoop Big Data, the company is also demonstrating that it hasn’t forgotten about the big integrated appliances that got it this far. The company today used its European user conference to introduce a new integrated warehousing machine that that doubles data capacity and halves the physical footprint with a design that’s optimized for fast in-memory processing.

The company also announced enhancements to its QueryGrid cross-platform query engine and added a software-defined warehousing capability that supports multiple isolated instances on a single processor with consolidated administration and reporting.

Teradata is positioning its new Data Warehouse Appliance 2800 as a “data warehouse, data mart, disaster recovery system, or as an analytical sandbox for testing and development.” The machine combines dual Intel Xeon 14-core processors with vector processing capabilities in Intel’s new Haswell technology, updated DDR4 memory components, a Linux operating system and integrated storage to achieve an average 15% performance improvement, according to Imad Birouty, director of product marketing. The reason the performance boost isn’t greater is that Teradata switched from hardware to more-flexible software compression in this engine in this unit, which impacts CPU performance. “If you’re not doing any compression and you’re also doing operations that benefit from in-memory optimization, you system is going to go a lot faster,” Birouty said.

Teradata also tapped technology from storage subsystem maker Dot Hill Systems Corp. to fill previously unused rack space with SAN drives and squeeze more storage into the same space, improving performance and reducing sitze. Each machine can accommodate up to 12 nodes per cabinet with up to 512G-bytes of memory per node with four storage configurations available ranging from 45.8T-bytes to 320T-bytes. The system is scalable to more than 54P-bytes using 1200G-byte drives

QueryGrid is intended to unify the multitude of data warehousing platforms that many enterprises now support. The technology enables a user to submit a single query for execution across multiple destinations “without your knowing or caring where it executes,” Birouty said. Teradata does this with use of connectors, and with today’s announcements is updating the roster to support Cloudera, Inc. CDH 4.3 and 5.1, Hortonworks, Inc. 2.1 and Teradata’s namesake database as well as its Aster Discovery Platform. The company also added a new connector for MapR Technologies, Inc.’s Hadoop distribution.

Finally, the company is making it easier for users to segment Teradata instances into walled gardens in which each instance acts as a standalone data warehouse with its own security parameters and service level agreements. In effect, the company is virtualizing its data warehouse into silos. “Users can’t see anyone else on other systems, and their performance is guaranteed,” Birouty said.

Use cases include multi-tenancy applications with multiple business units or departments, compliance scenarios in which data between different countries must be kept separate, service provider deployments and data mart consolidation projects.

While individual warehouses are logically separate, administrators can run data rollups and consolidation reports across multiple systems. “We specifically chose to market his announcement in Europe because the regulatory environment makes this a desirable feature,” Birouty said.

 

 

]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/teradata-rolls-out-warehouse-appliance-adds-virtualization-feature/feed/ 0
Hands on review with TREZOR, the Bitcoin hardware wallet http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/hands-on-review-with-trezor-the-bitcoin-hardware-wallet/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/hands-on-review-with-trezor-the-bitcoin-hardware-wallet/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:03:55 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=226208 Continue reading ]]> trezor-wallet-photo-logoOn February 1st 2015, I bought 0.4091 BTC ($119 at the time) from Coinbase to purchase a Trezor. The transaction with the website went extremely smoothly, I put in my information, address, sundry for the order and the business gave me a bitcoin address via a QR code to send the payment. I sent the payment and waited.

Trezor is a bitcoin hardware wallet produced by SatoshiLabs. It is a physical product designed to protect bitcoin wallet private keys so that they are not stored on a potentially vulnerable computer and to provide access controls so that only the authorized user can effect transactions from the protected bitcoin wallet.

It took two weeks for the product to finally ship, but noting where the package is from it makes sense it took so long to reach me in the United States.

I unboxed the Trezor, took some lovely photographs, initialized a wallet, sent it bitcoins, and sent them back out of it. See below for my review of the product and how I feel about its ease of use and security.

As a hardware wallet, the Trezor stores the private keys used to sign bitcoin transactions. As such it does a fairly good job and has some interesting security features designed to stop easy practical tampering and it does not share the keys with the platform it is connected to. All transaction signing happens on the device itself and it processes inputs and outputs as well as requires intervention from the user (via the buttons) before the device completes transactions.

Unboxing

 

The Trezor arrived in an inconspicuous, if a little bit beaten up, package from the U.S. Postal Service. The from address is in the Czech Republic, making this the first parcel I have ever received from there in my entire life.

2015-02-24 15.54

The packaging is shrink-wrapped and has a tamper-resistant sticker on the side of the box that I did have to cut through in order to open and pull out the device and the contents. Inside, I found a set of instructions on a piece of paper, a blue USB cable, and the Trezor set into molded padding. Outside of the box (seen in the photos) I also received a longer black USB cable, see below.

trezor-box-shot

The device itself is small and extremely light. It is made out of a smooth plastic material. The device itself seems to have no tamper-proof sticker or other indications that would let me know if it had been opened after shipping. The device also arrived with two USB cables, a blue one and a black one; the black cable came with a note asking me to use it first if I was “experiencing an issue with my TREZOR device.”

trezor-unpacked-components

At first glance, the Trezor looks like an oddly shaped clicker for a car. It has a small screen—which I would discover lights up—and two small buttons for interaction. The bottom of the Trezor tapers to a point where there is a micro-USB slot for connecting it to a PC.

trezor-vs-hand-display

The screen on the TREZOR is luminous and has a fairly good resolution for how small it is. I chose a black TREZOR so the illumination from the screen really stands out. I also discovered that the short USB cables get in the way more than they’re useful. You may want to buy a longer micro-USB cable to make it easier to interact with the TREZOR’s buttons when it requires input.

Setup

trezor-screenshot01

Getting the Trezor set up became an interesting experience but once my own technical difficulties were swept aside, I was able to quickly get it done.

First caveat, absent a standalone app, Trezor’s use the website MyTrezor.com and a browser plugin to load and interact with the device. I’ve noticed that when plugging the Trezor in, the website doesn’t always notice that the device is attached. It can take a few unplugs and re-plugs and refreshes of the website before it notices. However, once that dance is out of the way, the device works extremely well.

To get started, I had to download the Trezor plugin, which is compatible with the most recent versions of Firefox and Chrome, both browsers that I use on a regular basis. The MyTrezor.com website, which is accessed via SSL and https://mytrezor.com runs the code necessary to trigger the Trezor wallet plugin. Users who want an experience that’s more secure may want to look into a bitcoin wallet that supports the TREZOR instead (see wallet testing section of this review below for more information.)

My problems with the Trezor arose in that I run a lot of script blocking software on my web browsers. This constantly conflicted with the MyTrezor.com approach and caused a lot of pain when attempting to get the device running and set up. I needed to deactivate the script blockers entirely in order to prevent them from interfering with the website.

trezor-screenshot05

To begin, I named my device: “Kyt’s TREZOR”. These words appear on the Trezor’s screen beneath a glowing lock symbol when the device is plugged in. Useful if I had more than one Trezor and wanted to be sure which one I was looking at.

trezor-screenshot04

First, I had to initialize the device and set up my PIN. The interesting thing that Trezor does is that a 3×3 set of tiles is displayed on the Trezor device’s glowing screen with the numbers 1-9 randomly placed. The PC screen displays another 3×3 grid and asks me to press the tile matching the one on the Trezor screen to enter the PIN. The PIN can be up to 10 numbers and the longer the better.

This will come up later when signing transactions using the private keys stored on the Trezor. It’s an interesting take on security that makes it difficult to brute force the PIN because the 3×3 random tiles changes each time the device is accessed.

Once a wallet was prepared, the Trezor then took me through the long, tedious (but absolutely necessary) process of setting up the recovery seed. This consists of 24 words displayed sequentially on the Trezor device (and not on the PC) that must be copied down and verified. Once copied, the device took me through them again to verify them. Each time the device required that I press a button to acknowledge.

If I were to lose or have my Trezor destroyed, this would act as my backup seed to rebuild the address database and give me access to the private keys stored on the device. As a result, I simply saved the 24 words in a plain text file within an encrypted volume on my computer for safekeeping.

Receiving bitcoins

 

The MyTrezor.com web page produces addresses on demand to receive bitcoins. It displays the addresses one at a time (more can be requested) as well as a QR code. The QR code follows the current selected on the page and the selection consists of the entire address, which makes it easy to use the “copy” function without worrying about missing any element of the address.

trezor-screenshot02

To test this, I sent some bitcoins from my Coinbase wallet to the Trezor address produced. The transaction went just as smoothly as every other bitcoin transfer I have ever run.

Sending bitcoins

 

With the Trezor plugged in, sending is easy: click on the “Send” tab, enter an address, and enter an amount.

The sending page calculates the fee, and lists the inputs address and outputs.

To sign and broadcast the bitcoin transaction, the MyTrezor web page popped up the 3×3 PIN dialogue– with the randomized numbers displayed on the Trezor itself. I entered my PIN according to the randomized tiles and that set the device in motion.

To finalize, the device required that I confirm twice. First it asked me to confirm the bitcoin address I intended to send to by displaying it on the PC screen and displaying the same address on the Trezor. The first button became “CANCEL” the second “CONFIRM”. The second time it asked me to confirm the amount.

After that the transaction popped up on the MyTrezor wallet interface and showed that I’d sent my bitcoins.

I needed only wait a mere few seconds for me to see the transaction appear on my Coinbase wallet account; and a few minutes for it to go from pending to confirmed as the Bitcoin network crunched the transaction.

Sign and verify

 

The MyTrezor.com wallet site also permits using the private keys stored on the Trezor to be used to sign messages and to verify messages signed by others. The signature and verification uses a bitcoin address in order to sign or verify said messages.

This is accessible via the MyTrezor.com wallet via the “Sign & Verify” tab (on the far right.) In both cases of signing and verification the beginning of the message text is displayed on the Trezor device for the user to confirm. Conceivably if the message displayed on the Trezor differs from the one input into the form on the wallet site this would be a sign that that something went wrong.

Security

 

First, if the Trezor is lost or stolen, the user need only use the recovery seed (mentioned earlier in the article) to restore access to the private keys in the wallet and move the bitcoins. Any user keeping track of their Trezor who discovers it lost or stolen in a short period of time would likely be able to recover their coins without much fuss.

But how secure is the Trezor if it falls into the hands of a determined attacker?

While SatoshiLabs claims strong security, it was recently discovered that Trezor’s are susceptible to certain attacks that allow for private key discovery via side channels. Blogger and cryptographer Johoe, best known for intercepting bitcoins during a Blockchain.info security exploit and returning the funds, posted an example of this attack and assisted SatohiLabs in firmware update 1.3.3 that helps mitigate many of these problems. However, as noted in the Reddit thread on the topic, there may still be some potential holes that need to be plugged.

If your Trezor is running on firmware earlier than 1.3.3, it is highly recommended that you upgrade. This update adds PIN protection when generating the public key which helps mitigate some of the side-channel attack vulnerability.

Hardware device security is a little hard to test and I don’t have the equipment or software to attempt brute-force or other tricks like johoe above, however, a look at the FAQ regarding Trezor’s security gives a quick idea of what users can expect the security on the device should be.

According to SatoshiLabs, brute forcing the PIN could take a very long time as even a 4-digit pin would have 6541 possible permutations—this would only increase in complexity for the maximum of 10-digits. The Trezor also places a hard wait on each entry with a wait time increase of a power of 2 each time a failed entry is made.

Even power-cycling the Trezor will not shorten the wait time as the Trezor itself stores the number of failed attempts in its memory.

Also according to SatoshiLabs, attempting to change the firmware will result in the Trezor displaying a warning.

Finally, advanced users into security can verify SatoshiLab’s firmware is good. The security FAQ itself includes a section holding out hope that a few advanced users will in fact regularly verify that the Trezor firmware has not been tampered with, adding an extra layer of consumer security to the device.

Software Wallet Support

 

The Trezor hardware wallet works with a few software Bitcoin wallets, and I got a chance to test it with one of them: MultiBit HD. This review will be updated with additional wallets as they become available or when they can be loaded up.

MultiBit HD

Testing the Trezor with MultiBit HD turned out to be extremely easy. After using the Windows installer, launching and setting up a local wallet, the rest came fairly organically. First I found “Trezor” under the Tools menu, and I was able to use “Verify Trezor” after a few attempts to get my machine to recognize that the Trezor was connected, MultiBit noticed the Trezor and asked if I wanted to add it.

Then it started with “Requesting Trezor unlock,” which did not go as planned. It took a few more tries (mostly plugging and unplugging) for the unlock to succeed, and it used the same PIN sequence as the setup did with the randomized pad displayed on the Trezor. After entering my PIN, the Trezor itself required a physical button press to acknowledge.

Then I just needed to wait for synchronization. This took four to five minutes maximum.

MultiBit HD’s UI changed slightly to show that I was using my Trezor now including adding “Kyt’s TREZOR” to the program’s name in the taskbar. And, mousing over the shield icon at the bottom, it reads “Using Trezor device to manage private keys for greater security.”

After the synchronization finished, I could view my test payment in the wallet. And the actions to send/receive via the Trezor wallet became active. MultiBit otherwise acts like any other wallet.

Just to see what would happen, I yanked the Trezor off the USB while MultiBit was running and it did not seem to notice it was disconnected. To its credit, however, in order to send any bitcoins it did need to confirm with the Trezor (which is a physical button press on the dongle) so the wallet confirmation dialogue could not send without the device connected.

Electrum

Installing Electrum on my system did not go very well and I was unable to test Electrum integration at this time.

Armory

My software wallet of choice in Windows is Armory. Unfortunately, Armory does not currently support Trezor; however, the FAQ does imply that this functionality is being worked on but no release date is given.

Conclusion

 

SatoshiLab’s Trezor is one of the first hardware wallets to hit the market. It claims a great deal of security and has a proven sense of ease-of-use. The wallet looks good out-of-the-box, the instructions are not difficult to understand, and although there’s certainly some friction when it comes to individual users, it still managed to be a smooth install for me.

As with any hardware and software combination, there will be security issues, and SatoshiLabs makes a good show of attempting to stay on top of it. The revelation of the side-channel attack on Reddit and the apparent lack of PIN protection at launch, have both been patched with firmware updates. New security issues will appear and SatoshiLabs’ strong support will be needed to stay ahead of it.

The lack of support for common wallets, especially Armory, is a bit of a downer when it comes to the Trezor, but there are not very many software wallets in the wild yet so MultiBit HD and Electrum feels like a good start. The promise of adding Armory could be a selling point for fans of that client.

Overall, the Trezor is a solid product, with functional software, it stores the private keys inside itself and does signing on device with user interaction enforced between the Trezor and the machine running the client. Since the keys are never exposed to the world this reduces the chances that a hacker who gains access to a computer (or phone) can steal bitcoins, which is a major selling point, and at $119 it feels like a good price point for an early adopter.

]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/hands-on-review-with-trezor-the-bitcoin-hardware-wallet/feed/ 0
Sony Xperia Z4 quietly launches with few minor upgrades http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/sony-xperia-z4-quietly-launches-with-few-minor-upgrades/ http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/sony-xperia-z4-quietly-launches-with-few-minor-upgrades/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:00:55 +0000 http://siliconangle.com/?p=226975 Continue reading ]]> Sony Corp. has quietly launched its flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z4, in Japan. If you’re wondering why the quiet launch, it might be due to the fact that the device doesn’t have any outstanding features to brag about, unlike the other flagship smartphones that recently hit the market.

Sony Xperia Z4

Its predecessor, the Xperia Z3, was launched in September of last year, and this year’s model is a slight upgrade to that. This quiet launch may also be a foreboding that Sony may be quitting the mobile scene soon.

 

What you need to know

 

Though the Xperia Z4 has no standout features, such as a fingerprint scanner or heart rate sensor, it is still IP68 certified, which means it is dust-proof and water-resistant over one meter for 30 minutes. This allows users to take photos in the water without worrying that the device will be damaged after being submerged in water.

The device also comes with new features, such as “cooking mode,” which makes for better food-focused photos, and the ability to put animal faces on subjects’ faces even before you take their photos for a more quirky and interesting photo.

Does the Xperia Z4 come close to the other flagship smartphones of 2015? The basic features do, but it lacks standout features that would make consumers choose this device over other Android or even iOS smartphones. It also doesn’t help that Sony has yet to announce how much the device costs and when it will be available in the global market. If the device is priced in the upper $500 or more range for the basic model, consumers would not likely be interested in purchasing it. It could do well if the price is at par with the BlackBerry Leap.

Image source: http://www.sonymobile.co.jp
]]>
http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/04/20/sony-xperia-z4-quietly-launches-with-few-minor-upgrades/feed/ 0