The LiveCity project are hosting a workshop at SaCoNet 2013 in Paris on:
You can join us on the 17th June and more information can be found at: http://www.lissi.fr/saconet2013/livecity
The LiveCity project are hosting a workshop at SaCoNet 2013 in Paris on:
You can join us on the 17th June and more information can be found at: http://www.lissi.fr/saconet2013/livecity
The charming Kim Dotcom set up a new could service after his somewhat dodgy megaupload.com was shut down by the equally lovely US law enforcement authorities. Being the kind of chap he is he set up mega.co.nz which although still in beta offers many features you can find on other cloud services. I tried this out briefly today and have to say even the free accounts offer excellent upload and download speeds typically hitting 3-5MBps, which compares with a fraction of that for Dropbox, Google and Mediafire. Also the download speeds are equally impressive, typically in the 5MB plus category. So far this is by far the fastest “free” could service I have come across.
In terms of usability the website is a doddle and registering to use it is quick and simple. All the features are readily available with a mouse click and are easy to find and understand. As Mega uses a different security model to other platforms novice users may find the idea of encryption keys and link sharing with keys with other a little daunting. However, security is really the strong point of this platform. You can also upload entire directories quickly and easily.
My main worry about this site is who is behind it. For example would you trust a man who has an extradition warrant out against him in the US and is wanted there for various crimes? I am not sure if I really do but Mega does go out of it’s way to say that all data can only be decrypted and hence seen by it’s owner. That aside though, my main worry is whether they will be around in a year or two if law enforcement manages to catch up with Kim.
Mega is still in beta but there are a few Android clients available, otherwise you need to stick the Chrome browser. One word of warning if you forget your password you can kiss good bye to your data. Also like Mediafire there is no syncing of folders option. It is not a perfect service but you do get 50GB of space for free so who can complain at that? Upgrading to more storage and bandwidth is also surprisingly cheap with a 500GB plan along with 1TB of data per month being just €99.Also it is simple and above all fast and apparently secure.
Are you looking for an alternative to Dropbox or Google Drive? If so perhaps Mediafire is the answer.
To give you some background I have had enough of spending a lot on new computers when there are lots of good cloud storage and application solutions. Two obvious ones are Dropbox, which offers basic file storage and syncing across computers and Google Drive which offers storage, syncing and applications. Mediafire is slightly different and sits between these two as it does not sync files across computers, you basically upload them and share folders or files and download them if you or someone else wishes and like Google it also also comes with a range of office applications. Here is a quick summary of Mediafire and its relative advantages and disadvantages. Please note that the review is based on a paid pro subscription to Mediafire.
The biggest annoyance that I have come across so far is that you cannot password protect folders. This is a serious issue if like me you want to use it to share lots of large files but only with a select group of people. For this you must manually share a link for each file and set up a password. This means Mediafire in view is not a good medium for sharing lots of files in an ordered way, it is however good for sharing large single files.
In summary Mediafire is really just a file sharing site with an added office suite. It lacks the breadth and depth of features that you find with Google and does not automatically sync files. The latter is an advantage and disadvantage. If however you want a quick and easy way to send large files without forcing people to sign up to anything then it is a good choice. For sheer integration with other products and services Google is the clear winner. If however you you simply want a way to share large files without the privacy concerns attached to Google then Mediafire is a good option.
For information how to to get Evernote working on Linux click here.
Everyone I work with has probably been subjected to my recommendation of Evernote many times, but the reality is that it is a good way to keep an archive of pretty much anything. I use it for a whole range of things from keeping a record of things at work through to grabbing pictures of things I want to buy in shops (and adding notes) through to storing bills etc. However, as predicted by many Google has now released a similar tool called Keep, although it has to be said it is not quite as similar as some of the press would have us think. Indeed Google Keep is little more than a note taking application for Android.
Google Keep like all their products looks nice, is user friendly and easy to use. Evernote has more features so is quite simply more complex and to be honest does not look as nice. However, once you get into it Evernote is easy to use but just feels slightly more clunky overall.
Audio Note Taking
Google Keep has a nice audio feature which lets you dictate notes then it will transcribe them into text for you – even if this is not 100% accurate. Evernote does not seem to offer this feature out of the box. Also Evernote only lets you record quite low quality notes which probably makes good speech to text conversion problematic. In general Google Keep easily wins this point.
Normal Note Taking
For text based notes Evernote is miles in front, its organisation (via notebooks) and tagging features are miles in front of what keep offers. You can also send notes directly to yourself via email. The tagging and notebook features in Evernote also make it a very good place to archive more than just casual notes.
Google Keep uses your existing Drive storage which means you don’t need to fork out for extra space (like Evernote). Evernote provides 60mb free per month, after that it costs around €40 per year for 1GB of uploads per month.
Integration with other Apps
Evernote integrates quite nicely with other apps such as Hellofax and offers a range of additional third party apps that can be connected to it. However, if all your date is already on Google Drive and you are using a range of other services in the longer term I suspect that Keep will provide a more integrated platform.
This is where Evernote Wins as it runs on almost anything from iOS through to Android via Windows and Mac. You can also run the Windows client on Linux without too many problems via WINE. There is also an Evernote extension for Chrome. Sadly from what I can see Keep is only available on Android.
Right now Keep is good if your demands are basic and it integrates nicely into the Google stable. However, Evernote is streets ahead in almost every other respect from supported platforms through to archiving data in a more coherent way.
Dropbox gives cloud computing a good name and is an excellent way to store media and make it available across devices quickly and easily. However, beyond storage it does little else except perhaps allowing picturing syncing. Also if you start collaborating with others on a document and use the free account then you quickly get to the point where documents become conflicted. Also more recently I have noticed syncing issues which although this happens rarely it is quite infuriating. Also the amount of free space you get either immediately (2GB) or after introducing people is by today’s standards quite limited. Also the next category of paid service is $100 per year for 100gb; which is quite expensive. There is no file size limit except when uploading via the Web and of course the total size cannot exceed your account limit. So what are the alternatives?
First-up Google Drive is an excellent choice and if you stick to using the Google apps that support spreadsheets, word processor files etc then the problem with collaboration is solved. Indeed you can share and edit documents in realtime which is a nice feature. Also added to that the tight integration with other Google apps such as Gmail, Picasa (for photos) or third party apps such as Hellofax and you quickly come to realise that Drive is much more than just storage space it is more of a complete cloud platform. I have now more or less replaced using other office suites for personal documents etc. This has a number of advantages firstly the files created using Drive tools do not count towards my free storage, I can access end edit my files anywhere I can login via a web browser so I have the same fools available on Linux, Mac, iOS, Windows and Android; this is important as I use all of them on a daily basis. Although it is worth noting that there is no official file sync candidate for Linux so everything has to be done via the browser. The only downside again is that Google scans you documents and files in order to provide you with relevant advertising and that the initial free space is quite limited. There is no storage bonus for inviting new users to the service as is the case with Dropbox and Mediafire. However, Google does offer affordable upgrade packages starting at $2.49 per month for 25GB of storage space. The maximum filesize for all non-Google docs type files is 10GB, there are also a few other restrictions that you can find here, also depending on whether you are a Google+ user or not image and movie size limits vary. In general I have found Google Drive to be reliable, an excellent service and user friendly. Due to how Google uses your data it is probably not a good choice for storing highly sensitive information. However, Google do offer corporate packages in which they claim not to scan your data.
Another option is MediaFire which I have only just downloaded and will review more thoroughly over the coming months. MediaFire offers 10GB free space when you sign up plus bonus space for each person you sign up and for installing their client on your desktop and mobile devices. Also the maximum free space you can get is 50GB, substantially more than the 18GB max free under Dropbox. It also offers double the space of Google Drive for free too. MediaFire seems to sit somewhere between Dropbox and Google Drive in terms of features. For example there are collaborative tools such as a word processor and spreadsheet but these seem a little more basic than those provided by Google. File upload is generally fast, however unlike dropbox it does not sync your folders in a subfolder, rather you drag and drop files to the client or upload them via the web. However, it seems that all files are automatically set to being visible to the public. In order to avoid this you need to make the private. This is rather annoying as usually I prefer it to be the other way round. Also the Linux client application is currently only in beta. Upgrading is affordable too with a 100GB plan costing just $4.99 per month. If you use the free service then be warned this is an advertising supported service and I am not sure if they scan your files in order to decide what adverts to sell you. The company had a bit of an interesting reputation in the past as it was essentially a file sharing service but it now seems to be trying to put on a cleaner more reputable image.
Last but by no means least is Mega the new secure service from the charming and much loved in the USA Kim Dotcom. I have not tried out this service yet but it offers 50GB of free space. In general the press seem to be neutral to mildly positive about it. The features I am told are basic and currently it only offers upload and download via web browsers. In addition to the excellent amount of free space available it offers one key feature that is that they claim that you and only you can see the content of your files as all data between you and their servers is encrypted using a key. This of course is tempting but comes at a price. If you lose your key then you will never again be able to access your date. Also if your key becomes compromised anyone with it will be able to access your files and you will be unable to stop them from doing so. In general their paid plans are also good value for money and include massive amounts of data for a comparatively low cost. This service sounds tempting but I am not sure if I trust the people in charge with my data given their past history. Also it is worth noting that this is still a beta service.
In short each has it’s advantages, for simplicity and reliability then Dropbox is a good choice although the free space is limited and extra packages are expensive. MediaFire in this respect is a good compromise but it’s online tools and integration with Apps is not anywhere near as good as those provided by Google. Google though does not offer much free space. In contrast Mega offers a lot of free space but there are concerns over who is behind it and the problems if your encryption key is suddenly lost or stolen. Finally check out Box which I have not had time to explore or if you are after a platform to archive information or notes in a more structured way Evernote is a good choice.
If you have found this review useful and want to signup to MediaFire feel free to give me the 1GB referrer bonus. To sign up click here.
Also if you decide to go with Dropbox which I still also like feel free to be referred here. Again you will be giving me a signup bonus.
Wort reports that the Saudi authorities have threatened to block access to Skype, WhatsApp and Vibre. Officially this is due to the harm caused by such services which often circumvent national telcos to provide free or effectively zero charge (beyond data costs) messaging, chat and video. Unofficially this is almost certainly down to censorship reasons, many countries such as UAE block Skype (or atleast try to) on account of the systems using encryption to prevent the state snooping on calls. Iran does however tolerate Oovoo (the Skype alternative) which does not encrypt data. It is worth noting though that Skype now stores it’s encryption keys centrally therefore making it much easier for nice authorities such as those in the UK and USA to monitor your calls. Interestingly Wort also reports that Blackberry (previously RIM) managed to get it’s messenger service past UAEs censors, quite exactly how remains interesting. The British authorities had serious issues with RIM (Blackberry) during the riots a few years ago due to the encrypted messages being used to organise rioters. India also threatened to cut off Blackberry for the same reason. In both cases though Blackberry were allowed to continue… exactly why is not clear.
Wikipedia has a nice article on Skype security (and privacy). Among the interesting points are that a Skype representative refused to say if they do eavesdrop and that Russian authorities can intercept Skype calls without any court process. Skype for Linux also scans the /etc/password file which it has no legitimate reason.
As a side note if you are using services with US based servers then all non-US nationals data is automatically scanned anyway. In any event I will continue to use as the authorities will surely find my discussions with family and friends beyond normal levels of excitement.
I should qualify this post by saying that I am not a computer security researcher or expert but I do work in a research centre which works extensively in this area. Anyway it seems that over the last week or so we have had quite a few interesting stories, some more surprising than others.
The BBC reports that researchers at Germany’s Erlangen’s Friedrich-Alexander University have managed to retrieve confidential information from an Android phone by placing it in the freezer. With some sense of irony the feature known as data scrambling was introduced in Android 4.O Ice Cream Sandwich. All it apparently took was placing the phone in the freezer for an hour.
According to The Register, Google also suffered a security fault which would in theory allow anyone to bypass the two-step authentication process. Apparently Google was made aware of the bug last year but only fixed it recently.
One of my favourite cloud tools Evernote experienced problems after hackers gained access to all user ID information prompting Evernote to put out a system wide password reset to all customers. In general this flags up (along with the Google problems) the problem of storing sensitive date in the cloud.
This time closer to home we recently had a distinguished lecture at SnT by Prof. Paulo Veríssimo of The University of Lisbon. As well as being an excellent speaker his talk was as interesting as it was frightening. He basically suggested that the IT security of power grid installations is far worse than the public perhaps believes. Indeed he said we should be prepared for a major disaster due to hackers making their way into power installations. If you think that is not possible don’t forget that “someone” managed to hack into Iranian Nuclear facilities using the Stuxnet worm but that also this worm had infected other installations. Also in 2003 the David-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio suffered a five hour outage of it’s safety systems due to the SQL Slammer Worm. One is rapidly coming round to the idea that wind power may be a better idea than first thought.
Cloud apps are a great way to make your data available everywhere all of the time and some like Evernote provide an excellent way to keep track of your busy life. They can also help cut your IT costs as much of the processing and storage remotely, which neatly does away with the need or reason for you to constantly upgrade. Anyway having been a heavy cloud user for about a year or so now here are some useful apps for you to try out.
Quite simply an excellent tool for keeping your life in order and for storing fragments of information from the online world. With it you can keep notes, attach content and with the paid version even scan and search within documents (premium). Also if you add the free Evernote Clipper tool to your browser you will quickly find yourself storing lots of content for reference later, without the usual nightmare of bookmarks. Evernote syncs across all platforms even Linux (if you use the browser version). There is a free version which supports up to 60mb of uploads per month.
It seems they are everywhere but Google Drive provides you not only with storage space but also access to integrated apps such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager and more. Of course it also integrates nicely with other Google Services. I find this has almost replaced my need for any other word processor etc. Also the collaborative features means you can edit documents with others online in real time. This is a far better solution than uploading and downloading files, or emailing them round everyone for editing.
Every now and again we may find ourselves needing to send a fax. The excellent Hello Fax cloud app lets you send faxes directly from within Google Drive and it also links with Evernote. I have used it many times without any problem. Some free credits are available at sign up. Check out the Google Chrome apps store for more info.
A simple to use and generally reliable file storage solution. You can also share files with others and it works across all major platforms. There is a free plan available and you get extra free storage for each person that you sign up.
We all need something more than word processors. Spotify lets you stream unlimited music to your computer, tablet or phone. There is a free plan to get you started but for HQ music or to have multiple devices you have to pay.
As with most cloud apps security remains an issue with Evernote and Google all reporting some security problems.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Grande Region Security and Reliability Day
April 12, 2013
March 8, 2013 Submission deadline.
March 22, 2013 Notification of acceptance.
March 31, 2013 Registration deadline.
April 12, 2013 Workshop.
The objective of the Grande Region Security and Reliability Day
(GRSRD) is to increase scientific interaction in security and
reliability at the regional level. The workshop provides a platform
for exchange of ideas, discussion and co-operation. It focuses on
the Grande Region (http://www.grande-region.net/) but is open to
submissions and participation of the whole scientific community
working in security and reliability. The GRSRD is jointly organized
by the University of Luxembourg, LORIA-INRIA Nancy, Saarland
University, and the University of Trier.
The GRSRD is the successor event of the P1 Day that was organized in
Luxembourg in 2009. It was previously held in Saarbrücken (2010),
Trier (2011) and Nancy (2012).
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Information security and cryptology
- Communication and network security
- System security and reliability
- Formal methods in security and reliability
- Access and usage control
- Security and privacy policies
- Trust models and trust management
- Fault tolerance
- Risk management and business processes
- Regulatory compliance
- Socio-technical aspects of security
Christian Hammer, Saarland University, Germany
Sjouke Mauw, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Michael Backes, Saarland University and MPI-SWS, Germany
Ralf Küsters, University of Trier, Germany
Stephan Merz, LORIA-INRIA, France
Michael Rusinowitch, LORIA-INRIA, France
Peter Y.A. Ryan, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Tomasz Truderung, University of Trier, Germany
Prof. Dr. Joost-Pieter Katoen
Full professor in software modeling and verification at RWTH
Aachen University and visiting professor of the Université de la
Prospective authors are encouraged to submit an abstract of 1-2 pages
via EasyChair (https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=grsrd2013).
The workshop will not have formal proceedings. Therefore, papers
submitted to the GRSRD 2013 may report on work in progress, be
submitted to other places, and they may even already have appeared
or been accepted elsewhere. We particularly welcome submissions that
have the potential to stimulate the scientific interaction within
the Grande Region. More detailed information can be found on the
I recently had a lot of problems with OpenElec and XBMC remote which I use extensively as a media player. Firstly the PI refused to even start but now that problem seems to have passed. Shortly after that problem passed the free XBMC remote I was using on the Nexus 7 would cause the whole system to crash. This often manifested itself in menus seemingly cycling through endlessly rather as if a button had stuck down. Since then I have moved to the free Yatse which even auto configures and this seems to solve the problem; I’ve not had time to fully test it yet but so far so good.