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2014 February

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February 26, 2014

Mobile Device Security Tips

Travel LockWith Apple’s recent security update in the news, it’s a good time to review some smartphone and tablet security tips from Sophos. These devices make life easier for us, but they can also expose us to more dangers on the Internet, especially when using a public wi-fi network. Security must-dos include using a strong PIN or passphrase to lock your device and to keep your apps and operating system up-to-date.

February 25, 2014

Important Security Update for Apple iOS

iOS 7 LogoAn important security update for iOS was released by Apple on Friday last week. The 7.0.6 update fixes a serious vulnerability that allows an attacker to intercept and read encrypted emails, web browsing activity, Tweets and other transmitted data. If you use iOS 7 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it is recommended that you update your device as soon as possible. An update for iOS 6 is also available. To download and install the security update, go to Settings > General > Software Update on your Apple device.

Add X-UA-Compatible header in WordPress for Edublogs

On the University of Oregon instance of Edublogs we ran into a problem with the X-UA-Compatible meta tag. The standard practice of putting in the <head> did not work. A better solution was found using PHP:

if (isset($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']) &&
    (strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'MSIE') !== false))
        header('X-UA-Compatible: IE=edge,chrome=1’);

For WordPress you can do the above using add_filter:

function example_add_headers($headers) {
        if (isset($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']) &&
                (strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], 'MSIE') !== false)) {
                $headers['X-UA-Compatible'] = 'IE=edge,chrome=1';
        }
        return $headers;
}

add_filter('wp_headers', 'example_add_headers');

Solutions taken from:

* http://www.validatethis.co.uk/news/fix-bad-value-x-ua-compatible-once-and-for-all/
* https://gist.github.com/chrisguitarguy/2712643

February 24, 2014

Apple Seminar on Using iOS7 for Education

iOS7 Seminar LogoOn February 27 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, representatives from Apple will be hosting a seminar on using iOS 7, the operating system used in iPhones and iPads, in an educational environment. The seminar will cover iOS deployment models for educational institutions, volume purchasing, testing and managing apps, setting up Apple TV and AirPlay mirroring, and many other subjects. Check out the seminar page on the campus IT website for more information and to register for the seminar.

February 20, 2014

Improving Our Brains With Video Games

Flappy Bird logo

The short-lived iOS hit game, Flappy Bird

Why are video games addictive? Are they a waste of time or good for the brain? University researchers are studying games to find answers to these questions, and they hope to use this research to develop games that may improve our memory, treat depression, and strengthen our brains in other ways.

February 18, 2014

The Battles of Wireless Charging

Samsung Galaxy S4 Qi Charging Pad

Samsung Galaxy S4 Qi Charging Pad, Source: AnandTech

Despite the debut of the technology in mobile devices a few years ago, wireless charging has yet to see widespread adoption. The main reason: Competing standards. Much like the Betamax-VHS war of the ’80s and the more recent Bluray-HD DVD war, wireless charging is seeing competition between two standards: Qi, backed by the Wireless Power Consortium (whose board members include Sony, LG Electronics, and Verizon) and Powermat, which is backed by the Power Matters Alliance (led by Duracell, Starbucks, and AT&T).

While the leading standards battle for dominance, there are also a number of smaller companies with their own wireless charging innovations. With all of these competing standards, tech companies are less likely to place all their bets on one standard or the other, so you’ll still have to wait a while before you can get rid of all those tangle-prone cables.

February 17, 2014

Hackers Accessed Kickstarter Users’ Passwords

Users of the crowdfunding website Kickstarter should change their passwords after Kickstarter revealed that hackers had gained unauthorized access to user data. Though no credit card data was accessed, important information such as usernames, email addresses and encrypted passwords were compromised. While actual passwords were not stolen, it is possible for sophisticated attackers to crack encrypted passwords.

Kickstarter Logo

Kickstarter strongly recommends that users create a new password for their accounts and for other online accounts where they use the same password. As always, we recommend that users maintain different passwords for every website.

February 13, 2014

Video: Tech Tools for Students (and Non-Students)

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog interviewed three Georgetown graduate students on the technology and software they use for their studies and created this short video. They have some good recommendations on apps that could be useful for faculty, undergraduates and non-academics, and they discuss what kind of tools they’d like to see in the future.

February 12, 2014

GitHub Education

 

GitHub Logo

GitHub, the collaborative software code hosting and distribution website, is offering a new service for educators and students. GitHub Education provides free accounts for students and teachers, and discounts on other GitHub services. Features include: The ability to distribute “starter code” for assignments; code storage on cloud servers; a repository for class materials; and instant feedback for students from instructors.

GitHub Education is ideal for software programming courses and is currently in use at Ivy League schools and fellow PAC-12 schools Washington State University and University of Colorado.

February 11, 2014

Comcast Email Servers Potentially Hacked

Comcast LogoA hacking group claimed to have compromised Comcast email servers last week, possibly allowing attackers access to user information for a 24-hour period. Comcast was very slow to publicly acknowledge the claim and has not contacted its 19.9 million Internet customers about the potential breach. Though it’s unclear whether user information was stolen, it’s a very good idea to change your password if you are a Comcast Internet subscriber. Even if you do not use Comcast email, you are still assigned a Comcast email address if you are a subscriber.

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