Tag: macbooks

Airport security is dumping ground for orphan laptops

orphansMore than 70 people left their laptops security checkpoints at Newark Liberty International Airport last month.

The TSA shared a snap of more than 70 unclaimed computers just sitting on a shelf all lonely, waiting to be claimed since October, at that one airport alone. What is weird is that no one claimed them, even though they knew that was the only logical place they could have left them.

Looking at the snap there are a rather large number of shiny MacBooks in that pile, which can cost in the $2,000 range new. However, it is possible that the business person realising that the MacBook really is pants for business has just taken the opportunity to leave it on someone else’s door step and get a proper computer instead.

The Tame Apple Press is  questioning how it is possible to leave a MacBook, which is so expensive and essential in an airport, and then failing to claim it for a full month. “We would never abandon you,” one “journalist” wrote.

Airport security is the ideal place to abandon an unwanted laptop. Your company will assume that if you never get it back it is simply because of some byzantine TSA security law and just issue you a new one without thinking. It also means that you don’t have to answer any questions about the laptop contents before you get on the plane.


Macbooks use cameras to spy on owners

The fruit themed toymaker Apple’s legendary sloppy security has been bought into the spotlight again after it was revealed that you can turn on the laptops camera without the owner knowing.

Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf contacted the FBI after she received two nude photos of herself by e-mail which had been taken over a period of several months.

The untouchables found that the person who had taken the snaps was a high school classmate, a man named Jared Abrahams. Abrahams’s had software on his computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other Apple fangirls. Abrahams pleaded guilty to extortion in October.

Laptops with built-in cameras have a privacy feature that turns on a light when the camera is being used. In the case of PCs, security experts say that there is no way to deactivate the warning light. However it appears that in the case of Macbooks someone has worked out how to do it.

In fact the FBI recently admitted to the Washington Post that it has known how to do it for years. This is despite the fact that Apple assured its users that the camera had a “hardware interlock” between the camera and the light to ensure that the camera couldn’t turn on without alerting its owner.

Security experts at Johns Hopkins University have come up  with a method using MacBook and iMac models released before 2008 and would probably work on later models too.

It is based on the fact that a modern laptop has several different computers in one package. Apple designed its MacBooks to block software running on the MacBook’s CPU from activating its iSight camera without turning on the light. But if you target the chip inside the camera, known as a micro-controller, you can defeat this security feature.

But this also opens up a large number of security vulnerabilities in Macbooks which no one ever really thought of.

The researchers found that you could also mount an attack on Apple batteries, which causes the battery to discharge rapidly, potentially leading to a fire or explosion. Another researcher was able to convert the built-in Apple keyboard into spyware using a similar method.

It all depends on how much security Apple puts on its hardware, and it appears that they might not put on much. The reports’ authors said that they had contacted Apple, which got back to them several times. However it does not appear to have done anything.

The best way to deal with the problem is to put a piece of tape on your camera which you take off when you want to use it. No Apple fanboy would do that of course, it would destroy the gizmo’s design. It is much better for them to trust in the power of Steve Jobs to protect them from all hacks. 

Apple says no to disclosing Steve Jobs successor

Apple’s shareholders still don’t know anything about a succession plan for senior management following Steve Jobs‘ break.

The furore came from the Central Laborers Pension Fund, following an announcement in January that the chief executive was to take medical leave from the company due to health.

At the time he said he would continue as chief exec and keep his foot in any major decisions. However, the day to day running of the company would be handed to his trusted aide Tim Cook, COO.

This didn’t settle the Central Laborers’ Pension Fund, which went on to demand that Apple put together a succession planning policy, which should outline a list of things required for a new CEO position, as well as certain people who were being considered for the job. They also wanted to be given an annual report.

Apple’s pro players used the excuse that by giving out this kind of information it was putting the company at risk from competitors, however this wasn’t enough to appease the  Laborers’ International Union, which told the WSJ that Apple has a responsibility to be up-front with shareholders. It added that other institutional investors had sided with the group but others had remained faithful to the company.

The meeting is before Apple is expected to announce updates to its MacBook Pro line.

Pegatron pegs its hopes on making Apples

Asustek’s spun off Pegatron has succeeded in winning business from Cupertino consumer giant Apple.

That’s according to a report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes, which reckons that it will make desktops for the Cupertino company.

Apparently, Pegratron used to make Macbooks for Apple but alas does so no more. Apple desktop wins for Pegatron would help claw back orders from Asustek which, Digitimes claims, have slipped somewhat.

Pegatron managed to put together over one million notebooks in June and shipped over 300,000 graphics cards and TV cards to its customers.

The Digitimes story is here.

US uni to hand out iPads to students

Getting a University education just got trendier, as Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania announced Wednesday it would be kitting out all new 2011-2012 first years with iPads, to lighten their book load – and their wallets.

If handing out the hyped up iPads wasn’t enough, the uni is also doling out brand spanking new Macbooks, but is charging all students $500 per semester in charges for the digital luxuries. Talk about teching advantage.

With thousands of e-book classics now online, courtesy of Google and short copyright laws, Seton Hill students can probably expect to spend very little time teetering atop wonky chairs in a dusty library to find their course material. Which somewhat takes all the fun and character out of university life, but hey, it’s hipster heaven.

Of course, Apple will also be able to cash in on students downloading books from its iBookstore, eat your heart out, Amazon.

 Seton Hill isn’t the only too-cool-for-school University out there bestowing fruity toys on its student body. George Hill University will also purportedly be offering its students either a Macbook or an iPad this coming September.

Core Blimey, and here we were thinking apples were for the teacher, not the bloody students.