The Australian Nation, began and was established on 26 January 1788- in defence of Aldi

I have often postulated, that the biggest problem with mobs, is the intelligence of the mob is often lower than the individual intelligence of the people who form it. The mob problem is often typified in social media particularly in forums like twitter, where any debate is limited to 140 characters. The most recent example is the report today in the Australian Aldi pulls ‘racist’ garments from stores. The purported racist garments were T shirts s that were “emblazoned with the words “Australia – established in 1788“.

I am not a racist; I am not very patriotic, but I am not ashamed that I am Australian. I am pleased I live in a country with a strong legal constitution and a stable government. The Australian Nation I am proud to be part, is not the continent itself, but all of its citizens, who compromise many ethnic backgrounds, and with different religious beliefs but who in the most part appreciate the cultural diversity and respecting different beliefs.

The Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 1 January 1901 The inauguration of the Commonwealth, followed the earlier establishment of the States. 1 January 1901 is not when Australia as a nation was established. England wisely but over a rather long period of time gradually seeded all power to the Australian people. There is no defining “independence day” as there is in the US. The power of the UK Parliament to legislate over Australia was not finally terminated until the enactment of the AUSTRALIA ACT 1986 in 1986. However the seed of our nation began on 26 January 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Australia with 11 Convict Ships, at Sydney Cove and who became the first Governor of the Colony. It may not have been the most auspicious beginning but it begins our constitutional history as a Nation. That is the day that Australia as a Nation began to form, that is the day Australia as a Nation was first established. That is why it is celebrated.

The National Australia Day Council recognises the unique status our indigenous people. They recognise that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and some non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait IslanderAustralians may have mixed feelings about celebrating this day. January 26 has multiple meanings: it is Australia Day and it is also, for some, Survival Day or Invasion Day. We can honour all that is great about Australia and being Australian, remember the sufferings and our shortcomings and commit to build a more cohesive and inclusive nation. We do so with an underlying spirit of optimism.”

All Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, should celebrate Australia Day, as being the day that Australia as a Nation which we are all lucky to be a part first became to be established.

The twitter furure against Aldi was wrong. It only demonstrates the mob problem without fully understanding what the Australian Nation is about.

Aldi should not have apologised, Adli should not have withdrawn the products.

Happy Australia Day

JDC 8 January 2014

Passwords reconsidered again following Adobe Security Breach

I received yesterday (22.11.13 an email from Evernote. It begins:

There were published reports recently of a security breach at Adobe that may have exposed private information, including Adobe passwords, email addresses and passwords hints of millions of users. The list of compromised Adobe accounts has been uploaded to the web. We compared this list to our user email addresses and found that the email address you used to register for an Evernote account is on the list of exposed Adobe accounts.

I was previously aware of the security breach. Adobe had previously sent me an email on 9 October 2013 to the following effect

Important Password Reset Information


We recently discovered that an attacker illegally entered our network and may have obtained access to your Adobe ID and encrypted password. We currently have no indication that there has been unauthorized activity on your account.

Adobe did not however reveal the full extent of the security breach. Recent reports suggest 150 million logons were compromised. See

Over 150 million breached records from Adobe hack have surfaced online

Adobe’s colossal password leak becomes a playable crossword puzzle

Adobe’s file is over 10GB. It is freely available to download on the internet. Evernote (quite correctly) have analysed the file to improve its security. Adobe in its email to me, assured me that my password was encrypted. It neglected to tell me:

  1. My password hint was not encrypted; and
  2. All similar passwords were encrypted with the same hash code.

The following record is an extract from the database of one of my logons.

—UID—|–|———email address———–|—password—|—-hint–|–

80553053-|–|-jeffchard@optusnet.com.au-|-kzUVdObPaVk=-|-son|–

All similar password have the same hash code, it is easy to filter the 150 million records to see all the hints for that password. Some of the hints do not need much guessing. For example, my (old) password is easily guessed from these entries

—UID—|–|———email address———–|—password—|—-hint–|–

77027752-|–|-j########.denham@#########.com-|-kzUVdObPaVk=-|-last
name|–

142176909-|–|-######@denham#########.com-|-kzUVdObPaVk=-|-boss’s name|–

It is not hard to work out that I have a son named “Denham”.

My logon was fully compromised.

Yes I admit my password was a dumb password, it was a clayton’s password. The logging on to Adobe was not important to me.

I have not used that logon or that password for a long time.

That logon was not the logon that Evernote was emailing me about. The other logon name is important to me. Unfortunately the password was just as transparent and dumb.

As previously reported in Practice Guidelines for the use of Cloud Computing by Lawyers many similar security breaches have occurred in the past. Those breaches fortunately did not impact me personally. I definitely do not want experience what occurred to poor Mat Honan How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.

As a result of the breach I have now changed all my passwords on all my accounts. I do not use the same password on any site. My passwords are much more secure.

The seriousness in the breach, is not that that someone with nefarious intentions could logon to Adobe by using my credentials. It is serious because it exposed my logon and my password to people who may wish logon onto another website that is important to me.

JDC 23 November 2013

Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse and the Surface Pro, and reflections on the Surface RT

The Surface Pro
I have written several posts in the past about my Surface RT. I am still a strong advocate of that device but I recently relented and bought a 128GB Surface Pro (taking advantage of the Microsoft’s price reduction that eventually came to Australia). Many will comment that my timing was lousy. I bought it just before Microsoft announced the 23 September 2013 Launch Date. I had the belief (whether it is still right or wrong time will tell) that upgraded Surface devices would not be available until the New Year. Notwithstanding the upcoming launch date, I am not disappointed I bought it. I needed a new laptop at the time.

My last laptop was a Sony Vaio which I paid almost $4000 for several years ago. It unfortunately got slower over time, to the extent that was frustrating to use (i.e. unusable). I have often wondered how computers appear to slow down as they age. I am not sure whether my expectations change, or whether Intel is just evil.

The only programs that I have installed on the Pro are: 

  • Microsoft Home Premium 365 Subscription: This gives the full suite of the Office 2013 Products including OneNote, Publisher and Access. This is excellent value.
  • Reckon Accounts (which I believe to be expensive compared to Quicken in the US)
  • Adobe X1 Reader; and
  • Autodesk Sketch Pro 6.

Obviously I have available to me all the Metro Apps that I have on the RT. I have installed on the Pro those Apps that I actually use.

It is when you have more than one Windows 8 device that the full convenience of the Windows 8 operating system becomes apparent. Once the Pro was configured correctly, all my settings on the RT (contacts, most passwords, explorer favourites) sync and are continually updated between the RT and Pro. I have 8.1 Preview installed on the RT. I suspect syncing will further improve once both machines have the final version of 8.1 on 18 October 2013. I do not propose to install the 8.1 Preview on the Pro. I will wait until the full version is released. The syncing of data also works to lesser extend with my Windows Phone. My subscriptions in the Fifth App which (I discuss below) sync between all devices.

I use the Pro as a small workstation. It is has access to the Workplace Domain resources without being a Domain Computer. I did not want to give up my Microsoft Account Login to change to a Domain (Local) Login. I understand that Windows 8.1 has new abilities to connect to the Workplace, but I understand that you may also need Server 2012 R2 to use those new abilities. I am using Word 2013 on the Pro to compose this post because the Type Cover is attached to it. The RT has only the Touch Cover.

I also bought a Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse to use with the Prol. I do not really need the Wedge Mouse when using the Office Programs; it was needed when using Reckon Accounts. Reckon Accounts was the Australian Version of Quicken and was known as Quicken until the beginning of this year. Fingers or even the Pro Stylus on a small screen was not just convenient.

The Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse

The Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition is surprisingly small, particularly when it is compared to the box that it is packed in. The small size is a convenience, you would not get any increased functionality if it was larger (other than possibly making it easier to find on a cluttered desk).

What I found particularly surprising about the touch mouse, is how well I believe that it would work with Windows 8 on non-touch screen workstation. It allows you to use most of the touch gestures without the touch screen. I am not sure that I can explain this accurately. The Windows 8 Metro Touch gestures once you get to learn them (which is not hard) become second nature (so much so that when I have use an iPad I have difficulty). When using the touch mouse, most of those gestures just seem to automatically flow through subconsciously without having to touch the screen. I had to check when composing this, you cannot use Pinch and Expand on the mouse touch surface to expand or contract what is displayed.

Reflections on the Surface RT
I still use the RT for consuming information particularly when reading in bed or on a train. It is lighter and more convenient to hold. I cannot imagine using the Pro for reading when I am in bed. The RT is heavy enough. It is always on and updating in standby mode.

The improved Snap views in Windows 8.1 works marvellously with my favourite News reader app (The Fifth) which I use to do most of my news consumption.


When opening an article in the browser, it automatically goes in snap view, and opens the article in Explorer with a large window to the right.


I am still and advocate of the RT architecture. I expect that technology advances, and both ARM and Intel architectures become more powerful but less power hungry, the ARM architecture will always permit thinner and lighter products.

Jeffrey Chard
14 September 2013

Microsoft Reader App 8.1 Preview – the Hidden Gem

I have in several previous blogs complained that Windows RT and Windows Surface RT did not have a Metro PDF reader that matched the capabilities of Goodreader on the iPad.

One of the main reasons I was looking forward to the release of Windows 8.1 Preview was the hope that it would include an improved Reader app. I was disappointed in reading all the reviews of the 8.1 Preview there was no mention of any improvements to the Reader App in the media. I was therefore very surprised to discover, that the Microsoft’s Metro Reader App does contain most of all the improved capabilities I was hoping for. It can now:

  1. open a maximum of 5 PDFs at the same time; and
  2. those PDFs can be viewed either in separate windows or switched by selecting tabs

The Reader App will not automatically close a PDF document if you open another.

Two Sample PDF’s shown open in separate windows.

The Metro App retains all its existing annotation and commenting capabilities. It is now a very powerful PDF reader.

The Reader App only recognises internal hyperlinks. It cannot open an externally hyperlinked pdf document; neither does Goodreader. Nor does it recognises embedded PDF documents that may be in a PDF Portfolio; neither does Goodreader.

Given the inherent advantages of the Windows RT in recognising USB drives, the Metro App by default has become a much more capable pdf (and XPS) reader than Goodreader can ever achieve.

Some functionality (opening multiple instances of itself) could result from the additional functionality of Windows 8.1. It could also be we can look forward to similar functional improvements (and more) in Adobe Reader Touch and other PDF readers in the Store once 8.1 is officially released.

JDC 17 July 2013

Mr Nokia, Are your Lumia 920 Gorilla Glass Screens Defective?

In the last 6 weeks, my wife, my office (2 phones), my son, my step daughter, and my step grandchildren (2) upgraded their iPhones to Lumia 920s. We could have stayed with iPhones, or we could have chosen the Lumia 820 but we selected the 920 because the screen was made of Gorilla Glass. Whilst I did not believe Gorilla Glass to be unbreakable, I believed that it would better withstand an accidental drop. I was wrong! Within the course of last week, my son’s phone fell out of his pocket, my wife’s phone slid off the bonnet of her car, and my business partner’s  fell of a lounge (from a height of  only 30 cms from the ground). In each case the screen much their amazement cracked.

My Wife’s Phone

My Son’s Phone

My Business Partners Phone

It appears that these are not isolated incidents:

nokia Lumia 920 cracked gorilla glass , poor desig…

http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2043450

I accept that had my wife or my son were using an iPhone, those screens may have also cracked if dropped the same way. An iPhone screen most likely would not have cracked falling 30 cms. I have dropped them from much higher.

Your phones are advertised as being tough. You represent that they can hammer nails

Nokia uses Lumia 900 as a hammer in a torture test, makes us wince

Nokia Lumia 900 is tough as nails — literally

Whilst Gorilla Glass is not unbreakable, you represent it as being able to withstanding accidental drops.

In each of the above situations and those described in the above hyperlinks the screens should not have cracked. I can only conclude there was a defect in the gorilla glass on those phones, or there is design defect in the sculptured glass causing the screens to crack so easily. I note that there have been other reports of defective glass in the Nokia 900

Nokia Lumia 900 screen potentially weak from the inside, cracks from slight fall [Updated] – Gadget Review

How many Lumia 920 owners have suffered cracked screens in the same circumstances?

JDC 8 July 2013

Updated 9 July 2013

Mr Microsoft why did you ignore most of the English Speaking World when releasing Windows 8.1 RT Preview on 26 June? UPDATE 4 July 2013

Important Update 4 July 2013

On 27 June 2013 I wrote the blog below bitterly complaining about Microsoft’s apparent decision to ignore most of the English Speaking World (i.e. all those who did not live the US). At the time of that post, whilst Microsoft promised a fix for those who had language packs installed, it was not immediately clear to me whether that would also apply to those like me, who did not have a language pack installed, but merely the wrong OS Base Language.

My unhappiness may have been unwarranted.

I am pleased to report that Microsoft has made Windows 8.1 RT Preview for other languages. The Australian version can be downloaded from

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-8/preview-download

I guessing the Great Britain English version can be downloaded from

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/preview-download

by clicking the “Get Update Link”, you down load an application/upgrade required to be installed from the desktop (you just need to follow the instructions). Upon installation of that application /upgrade the Surface reboots, and you are then taken to the Store and asked if you wan to install the Preview. The preview then appears installs like any normal application. As I write this, my RT is still downloading the 2.1G update files. It is doing it slowly (10:48 am 4 July) so I can not confirm final installation.

JDC 4 July 2013 10;50 pm One Possibly Happy Customer.

Further Important Update 4 July 2013

My installation of Windows 8.1 RT Preview completed its download at 1:10 pm (having commenced at say 10″10 am). The installation process involving various restarts took a further 40 minutes. I was able to login at about 10:50 pm.

One trick for the unwary is that the default Keyboard was the UK board after the install. You will need to log into your Microsoft Account. If your password contains characters that appear in a different location on a UK keyboard, you may first need to change the input method to select the correct keyboard layout.

The other surprise is that Microsoft has by default implemented a two factor authentication to log in your Microsoft Office Account. In addition to your password it also requires that you enter a PIN that is sent to you (to your previously notified mobile telephone) by SMS.

I have not yet tried any of the new features of 8.1.

JDC 4 July 2013 3:31 pm A Happy Customer.

MY Original BLOG 27 June 2013

I am writing this on my un-upgraded Windows Surface RT because I do not live in the US and I speak English.

I could not upgrade to Preview 8.1 because my original OS base language is Australian English. I quote you from your download site

Notes before you download: If you’re using an English version of Windows, you can only
install Windows 8.1 Preview from the Windows Store

if your OS base language is English (US).

If you’ve installed a language pack, please don’t install Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix will be available soon, so please check back.

ISO files (.iso) are not available for the Windows RT operating system. You can only
update to Windows RT 8.1 Preview through Windows Store.
Windows RT 8.1 Preview is only available in the following languages: Arabic, English (US), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. You can find system requirements, support options, and other additional information in the FAQ and in the links on this page.

I do not have additional language packs installed. It is not immediately clear whether the fix referred to in the second paragraph we will permit me to install the preview when it arrives. If it is only intended to apply where additional language packs installed:

  • I am very angry as it would appear you propose to totally ignore every English speaking person living outside of the United States.
  • I have shown loyalty to Microsoft in purchasing the Surface RT when it was first released in Australia, even though I recognised then that improvements and developments had to be made.
  • I wrongly believed that in supporting you, you would not let me down.
  • I was wrong and my patience has ended.
  • Unless the position is corrected quickly you have lost my support.

If the fix is proposed also to permit me to install the preview I hope that it will be released very soon.

JDC 27 June 2013 One Very Unhappy Customer

A commenter on Reddit asked why I could not just change to English (US). That is a good question and I in fact tried to change my Language and Regional Settings but it did not work In investigating further, Microsoft in fact says

Windows RT users

Please do not change your base language just to install the Preview.  If you do this and then update to the preview version, you will permanently change your base language on these devices.  This happens because we create a new restore image based on your selected 8.1 base language during install.

Also, as we noted on the download page, if you’ve installed a language pack on Windows RT, we ask you not to install Windows RT 8.1 Preview at this time. A fix will be available soon for updating through the store with a language pack installed, so please check back.

Charles [MSFT]

In either report there is no suggestion that Microsoft will make the Preview available to other English speaking RT owners outside of the US. It also appears that for RT owners the only way to upgrade is to wait for the correct OS base language to become available. Microsoft is not even suggesting that will occur.

JDC 27 June 2013, Still One Very Unhappy Customer

Some other commenters on Reddit question my concern it because it is only a pre-release preview version. Most of those commenters either live in the US or they do not have a RT version, others do not understand that even the US English version of the Preview is not available for use to even download. Previously I would not consider installing preview Versions of an operating system on production computer. However, as I discussed in previous blogs, Windows 8 RT does not have Outlook and that is a great big missing hole in the operating system. It is not possible to send my email any document from the Desktop. You cannot send from any word document by email from inside Word RT.

I was also looking forward to 8.1 Preview because I hoped it would provide a more capable PDF Reader. Microsoft’s reader, and all other available readers are limited. You cannot open more than one pdf in them. None of them cope with PDF packages (they open the first document but do not recognise the links other pdfs in the package). While I could not check myself, it would appear my wishes in that regard have not been answered.

JDC 28 June 2013, Remaining One Very Unhappy Customer

   

Information Security for Lawyers – Passwords reconsidered

On 26 February 2013 I wrote about Information Security for Lawyers. In that blog I suggested a password protocol recommended by StaySmartOnline.gov.au. Two readers were kind enough to post comments providing criticism that that recommendation. David referred me to two 2 cartoons from xkcd.com, one of which I reproduce below

Alex Muentz more directly said

“Good advice, except for the passwords. Passwords like these end up on stickynotes.

Why not multi-word passwords? Easier for language oriented folks like lawyers to remember and a large enough password-space to make brute-forcing inefficient. Tools like hashcat permit 2 dictionaries, but doing 3 or 4 word passphrases is a lot of entropy”.

While I am not sure how the thermodynamic concept of entropy has become a measure of password strength, multiword password protocols are a viable alternative and should be considered.

Any password policy is a compromise between complexity and ease of use:

  • A 24 character multiword password can be difficult to type correctly, particularly as the password is often hidden and where your typing skills could be less than perfect.
  • Whilst it may be easy to remember multiword passwords, it may not be that easy to remember many multiple multiword passwords you will need for different websites.

Cartoons can be very informative. My son Alex referred me to another very relevant XKCD cartoon on “Password Reuse”. I reproduce it below.

.

Even if the website is not evil, not all websites, even highly respected websites do not always store passwords and other private information securely. See Sean Buckley’s article Microsoft Store hacked in India, passwords stored in plain text, and Michael Lee’s article Qld govt department stores credit card recordings unencrypted.

The same password should not reused to logon onto different websites. Unless you are a lot smarter than I, you should use a password manager to record and store passwords. I use eWallet from Ilium Software, Inc. Versions are available for Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, Windows 8 Metro, Android and Blackberry. It is not available on the Windows Phone 8, (Ilium Software Please Fix:eWallet to Go, just does not get there) l The data file is encrypted and can be synced between devices. The file can also stored to dropbox or skydrive to make syncing irrelevant between devices.

Internet Facing Devices

Password strength is more important for internet facing devices and websites. Most law firms may not be as concerned to securely protect network access from locally connected workstations. Microsoft’s Windows 8 Operating system recognises this and provides the option for a 4 digit pin code alternative to password logons. Whilst some may consider this could reduce security, I do not believe that to be the case. Pin Code Logons can provide convenient network access for devices known to be secure and simultaneously requiring complicated passwords when external access is required.

Another alternative could be to use Two Factor Authentication. This is become very popular for a lot of websites. It can be introduced very inexpensively. Phone Factor, a company which has been purchased by Microsoft, offers free (if you are small) or relatively inexpensive solutions (if you are larger). You can learn more about them here. I will talk more about Two Factor Authentication in a future post.

JDC 10 June 2013.