The Future of Personal Computing

According to various media outlets, the fact that I still use a Windows Mobile device means I’m n the less than 1% of all phone users. I currently use an HP Elite X3 as my daily go-to device.

 

elite x3

I need to post a review of it, but that’s coming.  In a nutshell, the phone is the perfect size at 6″ diagonal. The battery lasts all day, it can take two SIM cards or a SIM an SD card, it has front-facing speakers, a decent (if not great) camera, and both iris scanning as well as a fingerprint reader.

 

The only drawback some would say is that it runs Windows Mobile.

 

In fact, according to a recent article, Windows Phones and Windows Mobile will all but disappear by 2021. 

(Original is here: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US42064316 but can be read here: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/200358/20170306/windows-phones-set-to-vanish-by-2021-forecasts-idc.htm)

 

Now –  why I still use a Windows mobile device.

 

In my corporate environment, I rely heavily on our Microsoft Exchange email. I use my calendar to run my life, and need access to my documents all the time. The cloud (which I wrote about some years earlier) allows me to do this with my phone. I can view my calendar, access my email, access my (mostly Microsoft) documents, and collaborate.

 

In addition, there’s Continuum. While, I don’t believe this is as much a game changers as Microsoft (and HP) hoped, it is still very useful. I have a primary office. At that office, I have two monitors hooked up to a desktop computer. I also roam around and occasionally use a second desk. I can hook into the network at that desk and use my X3 to remotely get work done.

 

 

Some are starting to use the new device in a work environment – https://www.onmsft.com/news/hp-explains-why-the-elite-x3-windows-10-phone-is-perfect-for-first-responders – as an example.

 

Now, here’s what I foresee.

 

I may be incorrect, but I give this a decent shot of happening.

 

Back in December, Microsoft announced somehting called Windows 10 on ARM – this basically is a new feature which will allow for x86 emulation baked into an ARM chipset. This is the type of chip running on many tablets and all cellular devices. 

 

Here’s a video of how the process might work.

 

 

Essentially, a phone would be able to run a full Windows 32 application such as Photoshop, Firefox, Chrome, or one of the millions of in-house developed applications. Of course, no one would seriously want to run Photoshop on a touch-only 6″ device. But using a 6″ device that could then be attached to a 27″ monitor, keyboard, mouse, and possibly digitizer would be an attractive option.

 

Intel was rumored to be creating a chip that could run Win 32 apps as well as be low powered back in 2015. However, earlier in 2016 they announced they were cancelling the production of low-power Atom chips, which would have been able to run full Windows 32 applications in a mobile environment.  It seems that Microsoft is overcoming this with the new Snapdragon 835 processor that can virtualize an x86 environment.

 

The last hurdle would be a scalable user interface. As seen in the Continuum picture above, The phone start menu did not scale well to the 24″ monitor.  Microsoft is apparently working on what they label Composite Shell. Outside of Microsoft, not much is truly known. What we can see is that new shell will allow Windows to be used on everything from a phone to a display board with little change in how we interact.

 

composite shell

 

This new Composite shell has been rumored to show up in a still-unannounced “Surface Phone” or other mobile device.   We will wait and see.

 

In the meantime, I will continue to use my X3 as my daily productivity tool.

Posted in Business, Software Tagged with: , , ,

Secure Internet Transmission – Cracks are Starting to Form

Just last week, Google researchers announced that they have managed to render one of the internet security standards obsolete. While this is not unexpected, the fact that the first encryption scheme is breakable, sends a clear signal that researchers need to ensure continuing development.  Google reported on February 23rd that the encryption method known as SHA-1 was breached. This means that a document or file encrypted with SHA-1 can no longer 100% be trusted to be authentic. SHA, or Secure Hash Algorithm, is a method developed by the United States Institute of Standards and Technology for encrypting a file before sending. The file can be reliably known to have no alterations when being received. The standard was developed in 1993, and has since seen multiple revisions. Currently, a variant on SHA-2 is being used, known as SHA-256.

Since all e-commerce depnds on the ability for party A to “trust” the transmission sent by or to party B, secure encryption is an absolute must. While the hash collision is news, SHA-1 has been surpassed for several years by newer encryption algorithms. Most e-commerce sites use more secure methods such as SHA-256. The interesting thing about this discovery is that we are on the road to even SHA-256 being compromised in the future.

Posted in Business, Security

The Internet of Things and Security

I’ve written before on the issues surrounding the “Internet of things” and security. With more devices connected to the world, more potential attack vectors surface.

I read recently that connected vehicles now have a potential issue. The mobile app used to connect to a vehicle may not be secure. When one sells a car with a connected app, the information stored on that vehicle does not get removed automatically. In this story, an IBM researcher realized this, when he noticed that he still had access to a car he sold. The current owner would have no idea he still had this access. Also, there was no method for the current owner to remove the access without dealer intervention.

I also have a car with a connected app. My 2016 Malibu has the OnStar application loaded on my mobile device. I recently used it to help locate it in a city parking garage, when I wasn’t sure which entrance I’d used.

In this case, the app requires me to register my phone and log in. However, I’m not certain the app would stop working were I to sell the vehicle. The article and resulting information bring up a bigger issue: Now that our devices are becoming more connected, how vulnerable are we? My house has two wireless routers, an Internet connected DVR and television, a home security system, and a video surveillance system. All of these devices were exposed just this past October when several thousands (millions?) of these devices were hijacked and took town the servers running traffic on the Internet. While convenient, there needs to be some work done to ensure security is ensured.

 

 

Posted in Security