Is Two Factor Authentication the new standard?

Banks have been using Two Factor Authentication for a long time now. Some banks require entering a token during login, others only need it for money transfers. In the recent months, with growing cases of user account hacking, many online services are implementing Two Factor Authentication. The popular ones are GMail, Dropbox and Amazon AWS. But recently Facebook announced Two Factor Authentication support. The Facebook iOS/Android app acts as a soft-token and users that don’t have a smartphone, can use SMS to receive their tokens upon login. I think this is a good move, since a Facebook account acts as a persons identity due to all the personal information fed into accounts. But does Two Factor Authentication solve the problem? Can hackers not hijack account with Two Factor Authentication enabled? The answer is obviously No. It does make hijacking accounts much more difficult by adding a barrier and might make it not worth the while to hijack an account. But having a strong password along with Two Factor Authentication does make an account slightly more secure.

Evernote had also been hacked recently and is currently forcing password resets on all accounts. They are also going to introduce Two Factor Authentication very soon.

Are phones the new gaming console?

Smartphones have transformed from PDA devices used by business executives to a multimedia device primarily used for entertainment. Smartphones such as Blackberry and Windows Mobile provided E-mail service with sync capabilities to enterprise servers. It allowed executives to stay connected to their work network. Today, smartphones have almost nothing to do with E-mail, enterprise or even compatibility with enterprise systems. A smartphone is criticized if Angry Birds does not run on its platform or it does not have enough “apps”. Not many people review the different types of VPN protocols supported by the platform. The main consumers of smartphones have drifted from business to teenagers. The heart of the platforms has become social media. Facebook and Twitter have become core OS features which are built into the platforms. This has even drifted to Apple’s Mac OS X Mountain Lion and Microsoft’s Windows 8 systems, which have Facebook integration built-in across the system.

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Spotify goes online with web app

Spotify is doing pretty well after its debut in the United States. It closed a funding round for $100 million is is worth $3 Billion. It has a strong user base in the US and many users are switching from other music services like Pandora and Rdio. Spotify has been regularly pushing updates to its apps with new features like Apps and Radio. Today, it announced that its working on a web app. The beta is now live. After using the web app for some time, it looks pretty stable and might exit beta pretty soon.

Spotify users should expect an email blast as soon as the web app is out of beta. Stay tuned…

Google shows off its data centers

Google Maps is THE way to find routes while travelling. Street view lets you see better by showing images of the street and the surroundings. But this is all for the outdoors. Google Maps cannot show you around in a Walmart store or a Target store. Well, thats about to change! Google has started mapping indoor locations starting with their data centers. Just like street view, you can enter the building, navigate through the cubicles, and zoom in on places. Google has posted a video showing indoor street view with their data centers.

Disable Metro in Windows 8

The Windows 8 launch is right around the corner. People that have purchased PCs recently will get incentives for upgrading to Windows 8 by either getting a license for a lower price or even a free upgrade. While the new Metro interface brings Windows to new tablet devices, its not the best interface for desktops or even laptop computers. The horizontal scrolling makes it tedious to use the Metro screen with many non-touch devices. Some users might want to use the good old Start menu in Windows 8 and disable the Metro screen completely. Windows does not have a setting for this but there are third party applications that let you do this.

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A dive into Windows 8 RTM

Microsoft just released Windows 8 RTM (Release To Manufacturer) today. This is the version this is given to the manufacturers and will be shipped to consumers. This means that I had higher expectations from this release. When I first boted into Windows, I noticed the new blue logo (yes, the colored flag is not the logo anymore). The interface is completely Metro - feels like a Windows Phone device. The first startup screen asked me to login with my Microsoft Account (Hotmail/Windows Live Passport) and then I got an SMS asking me to confirm the association with Windows PC. I clicked on the link and confirmed the computer. After a few minutes, my desktop was setup. The first thing you see is the Start screen with Live Tiles and Apps. This version also has the Windows Store (which is separate from Windows Phone Store). There are a few apps published, I downloaded Box and iHeartRadio from the Store and was able to login and use the apps. I also used Connect with Facebook and the app worked as a mobile app would. The Desktop is similar to the old Windows desktop with a few UI changes. But the Windows 8 focus lies on Tiles and the tablet functionality.

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ProjectFlow makes project tracking simple

It can be pretty hard to keep track of all the projects with different tools. If you are not very tech savvy then tracking systems that require you to create tickets/tasks, add them to milestones and assign people to them which updating status for them, can be a little too much to do. ProjectFlow is a simple board that lets you track multiple projects in different phases with just a few clicks. Moving phases is as simple as dragging the project into the right column. This is a pretty good tool to stay on top of things. Its targeted for people working on a lot of projects and need a dashboard to see the overview of each project’s status.

Checkout ProjectFlow if you are a freelancer or contractor or just work on a lot of projects.

Link: ProjectFlow

BoxCryptor brings encryption to the cloud

Cloud Storage services are on the rise. We have a plethora of cloud solutions like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync, ZumoDrive, SkyDrive and others. With everyone using multiple devices, from laptops and tablets to smartphones, using these services makes a lot of sense as they sync files across all devices. Storing your files in the cloud can raise a question about security. Are your files safe? Can anyone break in and access your files? Should you be storing important documents in such services? BoxCryptor addresses these questions with its cloud encryption solution.

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Google Drive gets out of the bag

There have been rumors about Google Drive - Google’s cloud storage service. Today, Google has finally unveiled Google Drive. It stores your files on the cloud and syncs them across all your devices. Windows, Mac and Android apps have been released and the iOS app is due in a few weeks. Google Drive offers 5GB of space for free and charges for additional storage. Google Docs have now been merged into the new Google Drive, so all your docs are in the Drive and the Google Docs editor has been embedded into the Drive web application.

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Microsoft hit the nail on touchscreens

Microsoft Research just released a video showing the lag on capacitive touch screens. I noticed the same when I bought my ASUS Transformer Prime last month. Tablets today have about a 100ms delay which you can notice if draw a swirly line at a fast speed. This can be annoying if you are trying to do drawings with some precision. Microsoft highlighted the difference when the lag was lowered to 50ms, 10ms and 1ms! I think this is the right direction to focus on before companies continue working on throwing tens of cores on a small processor.