O2 Data Breach: Your Mobile Number Shown to EVERY Website You’ve Visited


Today a rather alarming rumor about a data breach that suggests that the UK’s biggest network O2-UK forwards your phone number to any website that you have visited your smartphone.

Lewis Peckover built a site that displayed the header data sent to sites that you visit and found a network-specific field called “x-up-calling-line-id” which displayed his mobile number. He then tweeted this and it lend to angry users who tested the site having there number reveled. These people have flooded the company’s official Twitter, which is currently responding with:

“Security is our top most priority, we’re investigating this at the moment & will come back with more info as soon as we can.”

It has been confirmed that it’s only O2 who are effected by this issue. The issue comes around as O2 transparently proxies HTTP traffic, using the number as a UID. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office has said the following:

“Keeping people’s personal information secure is a fundamental principle that sits at the heart of the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. When people visit a website via their mobile phone they would not expect their number to be made available to that website.

We will now speak to O2 to remind them of their data breach notification obligations, and to better understand what has happened, before we decide how to proceed.”

Kindle Review (3rd Generation)


Today I bit the bullet and brought a Kindle (mainly because family members have been raving about them so I had to see what the fuss was about).

So I brought the 3rd generation one (the WiFi & 3G version) So here’s a few thoughts on it.

First Impressions

Having never had an e-reader before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and my first impression of one was the Sony version after seeing it in a shop it wasn’t that great.

When I first opened the device I thought there was one of those printed acetate covers on it to protect it but turns out the device was in sleep mode and that was the actual screen. I’ve read about e-ink before but was impressed by what I saw.  I knew people said it looked like printed paper but I didn’t realise how right they were.

What was also good about the device was the form factor, about the size of a normal paperback book, except thinner and its also very light.  I bought one of the black Amazon covers for it as well (as I always drop new things), so it kinda looks like a Moleskin.

So first impressions were good, it’s thin, light and e-ink looked good.  I can certainly imagine travelling to work with it (and have done so).

Content – Reading a book/magazine

To be honest I’ve not spent a lot of time reading books on my Kindle yet, it’s been mainly newspapers so far.  It’s really handy having the latest edition downloaded directly to your device.
And once you get used to navigating around articles it’s pretty good and I can imagine not buying another physical newspaper – although not the Metro’s not on it.

Reading books though is good, not really any negative comments, it’s like reading a book which is what I was looking for. Funny though how the main selling point of this device only really gets a couple of sentences, but that’s because it does exactly as you expect (I think).

SHOP @ KINDLE

Shopping and buying works well, getting content delivered as soon as you buy is good.  What is handy are the trial options, I’ve signed up to quite a few already and found the ones I really want.  It would be really annoying to sign up for something only to find out it’s not as good as the reviews.  However one comment, an option to un-subscribe would be good from the device.

PRICING

Prior to launch I did see some comments about high pricing, to be honest I’ve not seen that as a problem and have generally found I’d make a good saving on physical versions (esp if you get places to price match)

Browser

I appreciate this is experimental but I think this probably has a lot interest for people.  My experiences so far is that the Kindle is like a big mobile phone.  The webkit browser however is not up to being your primary browser.  However if you head over to mobile versions of sites they generally work pretty well, and that includes most of the Google tools you use.  While I do have a bunch of links already bookmarked, I don’t expect to be using the browser much apart from reading the news or a quick look at twitter.

Battery Life

I won’t be getting the rumoured one month out of this charge, but that’s because of my usage profile so far.  I’ve been using WiFi a lot and been downloading blogs and other content, all of which will be taking it’s toll.  I noticed a particular hit on earlier when I was getting regular updates. So I’m not sure I’ll even get to a week before recharging but I don’t see this as an issue as this is not how I’ll normally be using the device.
To ensure battery life lasts as long as possible I’ll probably only turn on wireless once a day to downloaded the latest newspaper and won’t be downloading any more blogs.  So I expect a couple of weeks battery life is realistic.

General Use

All I’m going to say is have two Kindle email addresses is handy, one you use that costs for delivery (20p/MB) while the other email address uses a WiFi connection to deliver content.  If you need something quick on your device, pay the 20p, otherwise wait until you’re in a WiFi area (let’s face it there’s plenty out there the claud, BT open zones ect)

Things Could be better…

While using the device over the past few hours and I’ve had a few thoughts on how things could be improved…

Save text documents – While it’s handy to make notes on magazines, books etc as you go along I’d like a bit more.  When I get a thought/idea on something it would be handy to create a simple text file that I could refer to later.  The problem would then be that people would want more and more from it until it’s a bloated document editor e.g. Word! And then you’d need to find a way of getting it off the device then, apart from connecting to a computer – maybe it could be available on the MyKindle settings page in Amazon.

Make it easier to get your Clippings or Notes off the device, don’t want to have to connect my computer very time to do this.  A range of the content is already managed through the My Kindle page, so it would be good (again) if these were made available on your MyKindle Settings page in Amazon

Desktop application to convert to Kindle format. While it’s good to be able to email documents to your device, and get them converted to Kindle format as they go, I think having an Amazon Desktop app that allows you to do this would be good.

Schedule Wifi/GPRS/3G – While battery life hasn’t shown itself to be a problem so far, it would be handy to be able to schedule when WiFi/3G/GPRS was on.  At the moment you can turn it off when you like, but it would be handy if it could turn itself on and download content and then turn itself off again.

Summary

So for the price I think it’s a good piece of technology – although it tries not to be techie.  I actually expect to be reading more because of it.  If you’re thinking of getting this for reading books/magazines/newspapers then I’d recommend it.  Don’t buy it for reading blogs or the web though, it’s no iPad but neither is the price! There’s loads of features that I’ve not mentioned, but I’m not trying to go through the whole user manual here.  You can email documents to get them converted and restrict senders so you don’t get spam (I’m sure this will prove useful) and a bunch of other stuff, but you’ll learn that other stuff when you get yours

Click here to buy:
Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, 6″ E Ink Display

Windows Phone 7 Review


The Windows Phone 7 has been available here in the UK since 21st October and I managed to get hold of one for a few days from a friend after I bribed him with a bottle of whisky (he’s a big fan of his whisky). So I borrowed his HTC HD7.

So I used it for around 3 days and to be honest it took some getting used to. But I think I’ve learnt enough to share some experiences in this blog post.

So some points about Windows Phone 7:

Availability

It took my friend 6 days to get his hands on a phone and that wasn’t through want of trying. It seemed that if you wanted to get a Windows Phone here in the UK then you had little choice but to sign up with a carrier on a new contract which is not something he wanted to do (he wanted a sim free phone). I’m mainly thinking that the limited phone availability could be interpreted as there was an unexpected high demand for the phones.

First impressions

I pretty much new my way around the phone before I got it due to the mass of online videos on youtube and other review sites. So there wasn’t much new to learn about it but still I was looking forward to finally getting one in my hands. I can say that the phone is a delight to use; it is quick and very easy to use. Do I say that because I already knew my way around the phone? Possibly, yes, though I am still of the opinion that this phone’s base interface (known as Metro) is both a refreshing change and a step ahead of any of its competitors (esp againest the likes of the Iphone and the new blackberry OS7)
Microsoft have very clearly spent a lot of time thinking up ways that the phone can impress and delight users, be that with an entire feature (such as OneNote sync) or a user interaction (such as email notifications on the lock screen) of which is a great use to me (I use email for everything).
The Music and Video hub is new to me because I have never handled a Zune HD before (which is where the interface borrows from) and only know this as I had a play with a friends one (she swares by her Zune). The backdrop to the hub changes to show the artist that you last listened to which contributes heavily to the overall positive look. The best word I can think of to describe the Music and Video hub is “very classy”.
The calendar too is a work of art. I have four different calendars (meaning four separate accounts) and the syncing to the phone and the calendar does a beautiful job of displaying them all. The vibrant colours used for each calendar contrast fantastically with the black background and make the simple act of looking at one’s agenda a real pleasurable experience (and easy as well). The app bar has a button that takes you back to the current day no matter where you happen to be browsing within the calendar – a very smart idea indeed.

All that being said there are still problems with the phone, niggles if you will, some of which leave me scratching my head and thinking to myself “What on earth were they thinking?”. How ever lots of features are not complete (calendar and office being classic examples) which is no doubt due to Microsoft’s desire to get something in front of their customers who have been waiting for this for a while now.

The good points:

The main thing I use my phone for is sending/receiving email (personal and work) and this is where Windows Phone shines; I have two email accounts synced to the phone and am happy to report that email on this thing is a pure joy (even a lot more than my blackberry 9700) Simple things like a single click to delete an email and then being returned to your inbox rather than showing the next email brings a smile to my face. The animation when deleting an email is a delight and navigation is both simple and efficient. For me though the real high point of email is the presentation of it on the lock screen.

On the lock screen it shows my unread text messages whereas the second tile and third represent unread emails in each of my two email accounts. What I particularly like about this is that the O/S isn’t relying on space-consuming memory to tell me which account has unread messages, it is simply shown by location on the screen and it takes no time at all to get to grips with which is which. Its a great example of Windows Phone taking something that might seem fairly insignificant but that serves to make the whole overall experience easier.

The second thing that I have fallen in love with is OneNote syncing. I am a fairly regular OneNote user and recently added all of my OneNote files to http://office.live.com knowing that this would enable me to view them on the phone. There’s something deeply satisfying and delightful (there’s that word again) about being inside a OneNote page on your phone, hitting the camera button on the app bar to take a picture, then watching that photo automatically turn up on your laptop screen just a few seconds later. I can think of many scenarios where this will be useful (esp at work) and is definitely a very unique future for Windows Phone.

What else is good? I mentioned earlier that the Music and Video hub and truly it is an awesome.

The Bad points:

I’ve talked about some of the things I love but I’m afraid I have to report that not all is well with Windows Phone. I find it to be teeming with bits that detract from the overall experience and I’m going to list some of them out here.
I wrote above about how I love being able to sync my OneNote notebooks from http://office.live.com to my phone but I can’t ignore that setting up syncing of a notebook up in the first place is a very difficult thing to do. I managed to get myself into such a pickle first time around that I had to phone my friend up and beg him to help me out (seeing it was his phone)

The Music and Video hub is a delightful experience as I emphasized earlier but still its missing things and, quite frankly, some of the these things I find downright bizarre. For example, I can shuffle all of the songs on the phone but I can’t shuffle a playlist. Huh? What’s that about? That seems like a glaring mistake to me and is one that I miss a great deal because in general I make great use of my playlists but listening to them in the same order each time is not really what they were designed for (and to be honest bores me). So the word that springs to mind when using the Music and Video hub is that its “unfinished” and to be honest that is a common theme across the phone.

The dam right Ugly points:

I’ve talked about my main complaints and here’s a quick-fire list of more minor issues that irk me a little:
When typing a URL into the address bar in Internet Explorer there’s no “/” on the facing keyboard. What the….? [OK, its there if I long-hold on the period but still – you’d think this would be front and centre when typing a URL]
After installing an app from the marketplace you have to come out of the marketplace to actually launch it. Why can’t I simply launch it from the marketplace when it tells me that its finished installing it? Oh and Long-holding the period key on the keyboard will present a submenu of different punctuation marks that I can add to wherever I’m typing. This submenu includes a dash, an exclamation mark, a colon and a question mark but unbelievably no apostrophe. It seems like a small thing but I’m left incredulous at this omission.
I can pin a person to the home screen which is kinda cute and all but its not what I want; I want to pin a person’s phone number up there. That would be useful.

The Conclusion

There’s a few complaints in this blog post and that is indicative of this being version one of Windows Phone – I used the word “unfinished” a couple of times and that sums up the whole phone pretty well. Happily the majority of these irksome points are not core problems to the phone and can be easily fixed and I’m sure that will happen in the not too distant future. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not enjoying the phone –I am, I’m loving it- and thinking of getting rid of my blackberry for one.

Blackberry Messenger Music Review


Well I’m a keen user of the blackberry mobiles and every now and again blackberry bring out something they promise to be the next big thing.

And in this case its ‘Blackberry Messenger Music’. The whole point of it is that you get 50 tracks to pick and to share with your blackberry messenger contacts and the more contacts you have the bigger your play list is (as every contact you have on the app gives you access to their music).

This is all good and great when you have a massive contact list but your relying on your contacts to have the same liking music as you. Many a time have I been listening to the player while on the train and Justin bieber comes on (quickly skipped thro in my defence). But the large amount of my contacts have some good music (best was eye of the tiger coming on while I was out running).

I’ve find the whole app to be good and worthwhile especially being able to store your tracks (and your contacts) music on your blackberrys SD card for when you have no network.

But now for some bad points. For a start you pay £6 a month to have just 50 tracks you can pick at any one time. Thro you can swap up to 25 tracks a month from your playlist. But still your relying on your lists to have music you would listen to.

But still its worth having a play while its free (blackberry are giving a six month trail)

New Sherlock Holmes Series


I’m never a big fan of watching remakes or book adptions to TV programs but one over the past few weeks has broken that. And that is the new Sherlock Holmes being shown on bbc.

The main reasons I love this new look on it is that its set in the modern day but still carrys on such much from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. And stays true to this but with the modern twist.

Sorry for the short blog but if you want to know more about the new Sherlock you can see it on bbc 1 or catch up on iplayer