Monday, August 16, 2010

Jaguar XJ Super Sport goes all Blue Screen of Death on us #BSoD

Jaguar XJ Super Sport goes all Blue Screen of Death on us

By Rory Reid on 12 August 2010, 4:23pm

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Modern cars are no mere mechanical devices. They're pervasively monitored and controlled by dozens of computers linked by internal vehicular networks so complex they put your average PC to shame.

So it came as no surprise that very recently, the Jaguar XJ Super Sport we were testing -- one of the most fastest, most thrilling, most technologically advanced cars on the planet -- suffered the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Fortunately, that was the only kind of crash we experienced.

Usually, hitting the car's power button causes its beefy 503hp supercharged V8 engine to roar into life. On this occasion, the roar was replaced by an eerie silence and absolutely no response from the XJ's entertainment, guidance or instrument systems. Its 8-inch infotainment display and the foot-long computer screen it uses in place of a speedometer were both as dead as a dodo.

Our first instinct was that we'd exhausted the car's battery by watching too much Eminem on its integrated DVD player, so when the friendly Jaguar Assist recovery man arrived an hour after we called, we expected him to slip on some overalls and take a look under the bonnet.

Instead, we were told the problem was far more complex and to get to the root of it he'd need his laptop, some bespoke software and a wireless dongle.

So off he went, connecting one end of a cable to a USB port on his trusty Panasonic CF-18 ToughBook, and the other end to the XJ's OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics 2) port on the bulkhead beneath the steering wheel. Once hooked up, he tapped a few buttons on the laptop's touchscreen and fired up Jaguar's bespoke vehicle-diagnostics software. The tension, from our perspective, was palpable -- diagnosing crashes in Windows Vista was certainly never this exciting.

Over the minutes that followed, the software analysed every one of the car's digital systems in search of a problem. The culprit could have been any number of things -- the Bosch-supplied, Linux-based infotainment system, the Visteon-supplied virtual instrument display, a heat-ravaged processor, an errant mouse somewhere in one of the car's hundreds of miles of wiring, or the dodgy contents of a CNET UK memory key in one of the XJ's two USB ports.

Like most computer crashes, the true cause couldn't be determined on the scene. Instructions beamed down from Jaguar Towers via the laptop's Wi-Fi dongle suggested further diagnostics were required back at the factory.

We weren't about to let the car go, however. We loved it too much and besides, we had a Car Tech video to finish. As luck would have it, we'd parked somewhere inaccessible by tow truck, so our engineer postponed the factory diagnosis, and attempted a quick reboot to get us back on the road.

Curiously, whatever problem caused the XJ to crash also caused it not to respond to the laptop's reboot command, meaning we had to treat this £90,000 Jag like we do our janky old HP laptop: we disconnected the battery, killed the power and restarted it manually.

It's important to stress that this sort of problem isn't restricted to Jaguar cars -- any automobile that relies on computer hardware and software is at risk of similar crashes.

We need only look as far as Toyota, which issued a software update to alleviate problems with its braking system, or Volvo, which recalled 26,000 cars worldwide due to faulty software that caused engine problems in its T6.

Your car could be next. One recent estimate suggests that the typical luxury saloon now contains over 100MB of binary code spread across 50-70 separate computers, each of which communicates over one or more shared internal networks. Something, somewhere, will inevitably go wrong.

Admittedly, we'd never trade a car's advanced systems to return to the dark ages. Electronic fuel injection, electronically deployed airbags and GPS systems with integrated satellite transmitters are all a part of our modern lives, but this sort of event raises the question: are we becoming too reliant on electronic gadgets?

What do you think? Have you experienced a similar crash? Are you worried about the influx of technology in modern cars? Let us know in the comments below then take a look through our photo gallery above to see how the drama unfolded.

Great OS design :)

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Facebook Dislike button scam spreads virally | Graham Cluley's blog

Facebook Dislike button scam spreads virally

Have you seen a message like this on Facebook?

I just got the Dislike  button, so now I can dislike all of your dumb posts lol!!

I just got the Dislike button, so now I can dislike all of your dumb posts lol!!

If so, don't click on the link.

It's the latest survey scam spreading virally across Facebook, using the tried-and-tested formula used in the past by other viral scams including "Justin Bieber trying to flirt", "Student attacked his teacher and nearly killed him", "the biggest and scariest snake" and the "world's worst McDonald's customer".

We've also seen slightly different wording - but pointing to the same scam.

Get the official dislike button NOW

Falling for any of these scams (which promise some lurid or eye-popping or exclusive content) typically trick you into giving a rogue Facebook application permission to access your profile, posting spam messages from your account and asking you to complete an online survey.

And the same is true with this latest scam, which tempts you with the offer of a "dislike" button (as opposed to the normal "like" button) so you can express your opinions on other users' posts, links and uploads.

Dislike button Facebook page

Dislike app permission

If you do give the app permission to run, it silently updates your Facebook status to promote the link that tricked you in the first place, thus spreading the message virally to your Facebook friends and online contacts:

Dislike status update

But you still haven't at this point been given a "Dislike" Facebook button, and the rogue application requires you to complete an online survey (which makes money for the scammers) before ultimately pointing you to a Firefox browser add-on for a Facebook dislike button developed by FaceMod.

As far as we can tell, FaceMod aren't connected with the scam - their browser add-on is simply being used as bait.

So, if you really want to try out FaceMod's add-on (and note - we're not endorsing it, and haven't verified if it works or not), get it direct from the Firefox Add-ons webpage, not by giving a rogue application permission to access your Facebook profile.

If you're on Facebook, and want to learn more about security threats on the social network and elsewhere on the internet, join the Sophos Facebook page.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010 at 9:54 am and is filed under Spam, Web 2.0. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed. --> Posted on August 16th, 2010 by Graham Cluley, Sophos
Filed under: Spam, Web 2.0

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Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Chinese iPod gadget aims to skin Apple ____ By Lara Farrar, for CNN August 16, 2010 8:52 a.m. EDT | Filed under: Mobile The "Apple Peel 520" -- a converted iPod Touch that makes calls -- is an example of China's growing "shanzhai" market. STORY HIGHLIGHTS Gadget from China turns iPods into iPhones Developed by 22-year-old from Chinese city of Shenzhen Example of "shanzhai", booming market for copycat and black market tech (CNN) -- Have you ever wished that your iPod Touch was an iPhone? Now it can be, thanks to a new device called the "Apple Peel 520" and created by a Chinese company. Invented by a 22-year-old programmer who lives in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the gadget is comprised of a case that fits around the outside of Apple's iPod Touch, a popular media player and Wi-Fi-enabled pocket computer with e-mail, maps and other applications. The Apple Peel 520 case contains a battery, dock connector and SIM card that allows voice calls. Users will also have to install special software to enable a text messaging function, and to allow the device to properly work with the iPod Touch (users will have to break into the software of the iPod in order to download the necessary applications). Once installed, the Apple Peel gets around five hours of talk time and 120 hours on standby, according to a review posted on I developed it because I love the iPhone, but it's too expensive in China. --'Maxpy', developer of Apple Peel 520 CNN interviewed the inventor of the device via QQ, a popular instant messaging service in China (he declined a phone interview and was only willing to offer his online name: "Maxpy"). When asked why he created the Apple Peel, Maxpy said it boiled down to economics: "Because I love the iPhone, but it's too expensive in China." Maxpy said he began building the device last April, revealing the final product online about a month ago via a company he started called Yosion Technology. The iPhone, which was officially launched on the mainland last October, more than two years after its debut in the US, costs between $588 - $740 while an iPod Touch is around $235. The Apple Peel sells for $57. Analysts said a thriving gray market flooded with fake iPhones smuggled in from Hong Kong and the West has hurt legitimate sales of the Apple smart phone here. The illegitimate phones are usually cheaper and contain functions, such as wireless Internet, that are not available on phones sold through legal channels. "All of the potential users already had purchased an iPhone, they had found a way to buy one," Leo Wang, founder of Mobile 2.0 forum, a telecom and mobile organization, told CNN after the China launch of iPhone release last year. "The official iPhone is too expensive." Most of Apple's factories are in China, so it is not like China cannot make high-quality products --Benjamin Joffe, Internet Consultant RELATED TOPICS Convergence Technology Information Technology China Whether or not the Apple Peel 520 will appeal to Chinese consumers or have any impact on iPhone sales in the country remains to be seen. So far, according to Maxpy, only around 150 of the devices have been pre-sold on, a popular Chinese e-commerce site. Two were sent to technology websites for review. While there are plans to mass manufacture the gadget in the future, Maxpy says those plans are on hold until the company can ensure there are no intellectual property right violations. "We have no detailed plans," he said. "But of course we want to make a profit from it." Maxpy also said they want to check on Apple's policy on "outside devices" as well as try to reach the company to see if they have any interest in the gadget, asking CNN whether we could put him in touch with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. We could not. CNN did try to reach Apple representatives in Beijing and Hong Kong. No one was available for comment. There are also a few technical glitches to be worked out. According to a Chinese review translated into English on M.I.C. Gadget, the Apple Peel does not support 3G, there's a small lag time when calls are made from the iPod Touch and deleting and forwarding text messages is not available, among other minor complaints. Nevertheless, many say they are impressed with the functionality of the device. "It is the first time there has been a hardware application that has changed the functionality in such a key way," said Tai-Pan (a pseudonym), editor of the Taiwan-based "It is very cheap for someone with an iPod Touch, so there is some kind of value proposition for people who want to save money." What's more is the Apple Peel also illustrates the evolution of China's massive "shanzhai," or black market, phone industry. Based mostly in Shenzhen, it is an industry characterized by the massive production of copycat mobile phones and other devices, which are sold at lower prices and often with more localized functionality than global brands. Every year, millions of shanzhai phones are sold throughout China and exported to developing countries, resulting in a major dent in the sales of mainstream manufacturers in those markets, according to the research firm Gartner. "People are already or will soon be buying not just China-made but China-owned products," said Benjamin Joffe, founder of the Beijing-based mobile and Internet consulting firm Plus8Star. "Most of Apple's factories are in China, so it is not like China cannot make high-quality products," he said. "The issue remaining to go up the value chain has been design, marketing and distribution. Chinese companies are learning, acquiring talent and buying what is missing."

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart