Device Fingerprinting

Device Fingerprinting Might Be The New Way To Track Users Online

Used since the advent of the internet, simple cookies placed on user’s pcs to record their internet browsing habits are now obsolete. Instead, more and more websites have switched to device fingerprinting on people who visit their services, a method which is very difficult to avoid and not very direct either.

Browser Cookies Era

Placed on your hard drive every time you visit a new website, cookies used to observe user preferences of web browsing are very easily removed or periodically deleted by third party applications. One can also activate the Do Not Track option in their browser settings to avoid the issue. As for mobile phones, they do not even use cookies at all, so big advertising companies are forced to seek alternative means.

Modern Online User Tracking Techniques

The new method, called device fingerprinting, involves recording several unique features of each computer, such as the list of plugins used by web browsers and other software installed, the time zone used, fonts, screen resolution and hardware installed. Taken together, all these contribute to the composition of a digital signature comparable to a fingerprint, allowing precise identification of users. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 94% of web browsers are using Flash or Java plugins, opening options for precises determination of the identity of devices.

New user device fingerprinting method is even more efficient than using simple cookies as the virtual signature remains easily identifiable even after the browsing history is deleted from the web browser, which removes any files left behind after websites have been visited. Moreover, changes to the configuration, for example by uninstalling or adding new applications will just help to increase the accuracy with which your profile can be found online.

Device Fingerprinting

Device Fingerprinting

While some internet users perceive it as a privacy violation, device fingerprinting methods based on hardware signature ( or hardware id ) will bring great profits to advertisers willing to use it. They are charging rates between $1,000 and $50,000 promising instead to identify users with the precision of up to 98%. So far, the methods used are still are still perceived with a grain of salt by clients, concerned that these practices could damage the image of the company they run. As for us, the users, the only sure way to protect ourselves from getting monitored online is not to come online, as there still isn’t a web browser capable of circumvent new monitoring techniques.

How To Block Online Tracking Applications

Considering all the conspiracy theories going on after NSA revelations, such solutions will probably won’t start to emerge before at least six to 8 years will pass, at least. At the current moment, the only solutions out there to prevent companies from crawling our data are a little far fetching. It would involve installing and using Virtual Machines to browser,  or using bare naked browsers like Epic. You could go ahead and not use Flash or Java, but then you would be left out of the possibility to visit almost any website that takes use if it.

Of course, advertising companies will argue that if you don’t have anything to hide, you should not be worried. But I am sure there are alot of people out there who would see that point of view as being hypocritical to say the least. What’s your opinion over online tracking practices that are going on lately and will continue to emerge ? Share your thoughts below.

 

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Xiaomi Mi Pad Front

Xiaomi Mi Pad – The new kid on the block

Finally, more news about the Xiaomi Mi Pad has been released. All 7.9 inches of it! With impressive specs and Corning Gorilla glass, this device is fast and fortified. It comes with a solid camera with an exciting f/2.0 aperture (All you photography enthusiasts know why this is exciting). Equipped with retina display as well, this tab looks like it is all set to compete with the industry forerunner in tablets, Apple. But should the iPad mini be afraid of this new kid on the block? Only time and the public reviews will tell.

xiaomi mi pad

xiaomi mi pad

The tablet has a Google Android 4.4 KitKat with Xiaomi’s MIUI user interface. But something that trumps having the latest version of Android in the market is the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor that it comes with. This processor is enough to lure those with a serious inclination to playing heavy duty games on their tabs. With storage that comes in 16 and 64 GB and is expandable up to 128GB, most people are impressed. On Xiaomi Mi Pad, thoughts are pretty much leaning towards being largely positive, especially since the company has a reputation of offering some of the best quality hardware at pretty low prices. Their newest offering is thankfully no exception.

If you are someone who isn’t really into gaming, Xiaomi gives you other reasons to purchase their Mi Pad. Most people use their tabs for entertainment, including surfing the web, watching videos, reading books and storing photographs. As you already know, the camera is pretty good with its 8 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front camera and the screen is retina display. But the scope for good entertainment doesn’t stop there. The Mi Pad also offers stereo speakers for great sound quality and a long lasting battery life. Thus for the Xiaomi Mi Pad, thoughts of even a regular user lean towards being positive.

 

Xiaomi Mi Pad Front

Xiaomi Mi Pad Front

The Mi Pad will be available in a number of colours to suit your taste and style. When people are asked about the Xiaomi Mi Pad, thoughts range from how it is an Android device that looks like something from Apple, to excitement about being able to buy a good looking, hard working, fast processing device without paying through the nose. Each one is entitled to their opinion of a new product, but the Xiaomi Mi Pad is one new product on the block that doesn’t look like it can be ignored.

Cross Platform Apps

Run iOS Apps on Android Thanks to Project Cider

Although the idea behing this project is not entirely new, Project Cider is the first system that will let you run iOS apps on Android.
Over the years, the concept of cross platform applications was not as popular as it is now. For a long time, a Windows application would never run on Mac, or vice versa. This preconception was abolished on a large scale for the first time once Microsoft Office suite for Mac emerged.
Since there are still some applications that are available only for iOS, many have expressed their desire for a method to port some applications from Apple’s mobile platform on Android as well. For the first time, there is a solution to this problem, called Project Cider.

Cross Platform Apps

Cross Platform Apps

The magic of this project is to improve a system for writing native code for iOS which can be also run on Android. Shown in detail in the video below, Project Cider was conducted by a team of researchers at Columbia University. They were proud about the development of a “compatible operating system architecture” which is not based on a virtual machine to carry out the running applications created for the iPhone or iPad. In addition, it is not necessary to change any line of code in the original application and 3D acceleration works great, according to them.
Basically, Cider tricks iOS applications to work on Android’s Linux kernel exactly as it would work on Apple’ XNU kernel.
Before results of such a collective effort will be made public, legal issues related to  transfering applications from an iDevice onto Android must be taken care of. Finally, I am afraid these things might be the most complicated.

 

Nokia X Display

Nokia X – The Android Phone we were all expecting?

An unexpected appearance from a company closely linked to the Microsoft Windows Phone platform, Nokia X series phones with Android was launched and  is proposed as a superior alternative to the Asha phone range, rated for exterior design but criticized for limited software functionality.

Nokia X Smartphone

nokia-x

 

Overview

Presented by the actual Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft CEO who is now in charge of Nokia, the Nokia X proposes a recipe with Android without the Google ingredient. So instead of Google Android, we get the Nokia X software platform, a hybrid operating system which includes an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Core, developed under the Android Open Source project.  usual collection of Google applications and services has been replaced by Nokia approved alternative, and the Android interface was substituted by a colored tiles one. This mean we will not find Gmail, Maps, Calendar, Google now and other Google applications installed. Also access to the Play Store shop is not possible. We will instead be able to access Nokia Store, with access to a selection of games and applications for Android widespread. Off the record, people can install Android apps from external sources, using a process known as Android sideloading.

Construction, design and ergonomics

Aimed for the entry-level smartphone market, the Nokia X does not deliver great pretensions regarding design or hardware performance. The phone is presented in a solid casing, made of plastic, however trivial, without high expectations in regard to its finishing. Despite its rugged shape, the first impression is that of a neat product, reminiscent of the Nokia Asha series.

Nokia-X-Series-back-side

Nokia-X-Series-back-side

Under the mineral glass shield, we see a 4 inch IPS screen, bright with a surprisingly good image quality. Like Nokia Asha phones, we find a single button below the screen, used for the Back function, which may cause some inconvenience if we choose to use other Android apps installed outside the Nokia Store.

On the down side we observe the micro USB connector, and on the upper side, the headset one. In the left side, as usual we find the Lock button and a flap to adjust the volume.

The shell shaped cap that dresses the side parts of the phone lashes over its body, but can be easily removed by pressing any of the prominent corners. Covering the entire phone, except the screen, the cover made from a single piece of plastic can be easily replaced in case of damage,  or maybe if you want to try on another color.

Under the lid we got a 1500mAh removable battery, two SIM card slots ( yeah, that’s right, its a DUAL SIM smartphone ) and a micro SD card, accessible only after prior battery removal.

Screen, hardware specifications and autonomy 

With a 4″ diagonal and a 480 X 800 pixel resolution, the screen offers more clarity than those supplied with Asha phones, but not particularly impressive if we compare to other entry-level Android smartphones. But the brightness and contrast are satisfactory, and the different colored tiles interface played on a black background looks almost as good regardless of the angle from which we look at the screen.

Nokia X Display

Nokia X Display

Considering the budget which was allocated, the S4 Snapdragon chipset hardware platform (1GHz dual core CPU ) seems an excusable choice, especially since we are dealing with a strongly modified version of Android, optimized for efficiency. Its RAM memory consists of 512MB. Out of the remaining 4GB of internal memory we get about 1GB free space for installing applications and another 1GB for using as storage space. Fortunately the microSD slot allows you to add up to 32GB more space for hosting music collections and pictures.
From the short facilities list, the front camera and the NFC module are missing. Otherwise, the phone supports 3G and WiFi N for internet access, Bluetooth module, A-GPS receiver and a camera without great expectations.

Nokia X – Technical Details

  • Display: 4.0 “IPS LCD, 480 x 800 pixel capacitive
  • OS: Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean + interface Nokia X platform 1.0
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Play (MSM8225)
  • Processor: ARM Cortex-A5 dual-core 1 GHz
  • Graphics Processor: Adreno 203
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Memory: 4 GB (1.07 GB available for applications 1.07 GB for user)
  • Card: microSD, up to 32 GB
  • Data: HSDPA 7.2Mbps
  • WiFi: 802.11 b / g / n
  • Bluetooth: 3.0
  • USB: microUSB 2.0
  • Camera: 3.15 MP fixed focus
  • Shooting video: 480p
  • Front camera: no
  • Battery: 1500 mAh
  • Size: 115.5 x 63 x 10.4 mm
  • Weight: 129 g
  • Other: Wi-Fi Hotspot, Dual SIM, A-GPS
Nokia X Battery

Nokia X Battery

Unfortunately the Nokia X does not include the power -save function , so the battery depends solely on good management practices, so the  user must manually adjust screen brightness and disable the data connection when you want to conserve battery. Otherwise , the phone will only display a warning when the battery reserve drops below 15%, but without doing anything to maximize the remaining capacity . More serious is that the reserve battery is displayed correctly every time, sometimes displaying your slow discharge to about 40 % capacity , after which drops steeply to the remaining reserves off the phone .

Used for telephone calls, Nokia X showed good GSM signal stability  . The microphone quality is reasonable and poses no problems to use in areas with much noise. Although powerful, the wireless kit is not really of the best quality, the voice sounding slightly muffled in conversation with your partner .

As dual SIM functionality , the Nokia X allows us to choose the card that we want to call and informs  from which network a call is received . Unfortunately like many cheap dual SIM phones , Nokia X can’t take multiple phone calls simultaneously if they come from different networks . So if someone tries to contact us while we are already talking on the phone , the call will not be taken over the phone appearing as unavailable in the other network.

The external speaker is very loud and clear , that we can take calls smoothly when on  speaker mode . If you are interested in using Nokia HERE maps check here.

Conclusion 

Solid built, with a good screen quality and interesting software package, Nokia X can be easily confused with smartphones in the upper range of prices. Fastlane interface, intuitive and easy to learn, turns to be perfect for beginners, the applications included are also generous, given the asking price.
Unfortunately Nokia X is disadvantaged by the mediocre performance camera and a battery that hardly copes with an intensive regimen.