Today’s Thoughts and Links

Today’s post covers the following:

  • Security
  • iPads
  • Finances

Enjoy.

Security

A lot of my time awake lately has been dealing with Information Security. Some ponderings:

Privacy 2.0. You’re only as secure as your friends allow you to be. [link]

Interesting and very scary thought. Especially with what I’m seeing with Google’s Social Search. This is fairly disturbing to me. Friends: Please let me know if you see anything from my account on this and I’ll work on getting it removed.

The more interesting part of this is the derivation attacks that can occur with something like Google Social Search or Facebook.  In the 2008 election, Sarah Palin’s email account was hacked. From a Wired article:

As detailed in the postings, the Palin hack didn’t require any real skill. Instead, the hacker simply reset Palin’s password using her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse — the security question on her Yahoo account, which was answered (Wasilla High) by a simple Google search.

With regards to secret question/secret answer and sharing of gobs of data, according to how “friendly” I am with someone on Facebook, this is worrisome.

  • What was the first school you attended?
  • What’s the name of your first manager?
  • What’s your first born nephew’s name?

With a little bit of elbow grease, some reasonable attempts could be made on almost every one of these answers. The problem is that Social APIs enable programmatic gathering of this data and focused attempts. Solution: Put in complete BS for secret questions & social networking; hope that you remember the BS and still have friends.

iPads
Long time readers should know that I was a fan of the tablet form factor six years ago. Pics here. It’s nice in niche environments but doesn’t really fit into everyday use.  The major change is that they’re using a touchscreen UI. All of the other “innovations” are just normal evolutions of software / hardware that happen over time (e.g., screen resolution, usability, better software).
See, in order for a device to be worth something it has to add more value than cost. Not just a status symbol or a cult mentality, but actually make life better without breaking the bank. Just like the already existent Windows based tablet PCs, the iPad is not going to be a value added experience for most people.
Things that a iPad/Kindle/eReader will have to do to REALLY add value:

For about a year, the iPad should bring some good competition to the tablet industry for user experience and price. That’s A Good Thing™.  After the first year, the industry’s competitive reaction will depend if they’re making money.

Finances
I wanted to get tax out of the way. What are the readers using for taxes? I’ve been a Turbo Tax customer for many many years, I was wondering if there were any better choices out there.
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2 Responses to Today’s Thoughts and Links

  1. Nokia says:

    good lookin out on the google social search. it’s like a little TMZ app running in the background. quietly collecting your datas.

    turbotax is probably the most popular online choice. as you probably know, they bought mint and they supposedly connect in some ways to help you find deductible stuff.

  2. Ed says:

    I’ve used TurboTax for years until I became a tax preparer this year. For simple returns it works well but I noticed on doing a comparison with my return for this year our software caught more deductions.

    It is possible that the same options were available in TurboTax that I just didn’t dig deeply enough ( I just ran through it to check the refund)

    If you have any education credits I’d watch TurboTax more carefully–that’s where it didn’t get all mine.

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