Open Source Design Mix: Build Your Own Phone.

Mass customization is more than a choice of skins for an iPod or a personalized logo for a Toyota Scion. In a bid to create an active community around OpenMoko, the mobile phone’s Taiwanese manufacturer first published its software. This allowed developers to tweak it as they wished. Releasing open-source software is fairly common these days. However, OpenMoko broke new ground when it published the 3D drafting files for the phone’s case. The latter move lets anyone who knows how to work with CAD alter the case’s design.

By releasing the software and case design files, OpenMoko hopes to generate a passionate community of developers who will create a lengthy list of add-on applications for the phone, as well as innovative designs for its housing. The result will be features and design options that no phone manufacturer could hope to create on its own. By going well beyond the norms of mass customization, the company will also jump start a cottage industry of independent customizers for its phones.

The takeaway here is threefold. Firstly, if you’re so inclined, here’s a ripe opportunity to enter the mobile phone manufacturing business on the cheap. Secondly, OpenMoko’s business model—namely open-sourcing software and hardware files—is one that other start-ups and established manufacturers might well emulate. The products might just as easily be alarm clocks or toaster ovens. And, finally, the ease with which phone cases can be created using 3D printers heralds a day when many products will be produced on the spot, tailored inside and out to a customer’s preferences. Someday a printer vending machine might even let consumers choose a product design and have it built within minutes. When that happens, we’ll be sure to let you know ;-) (Related: Build your own mobile phoneNew phone company, made in Silicon ValleyAffordable phones, made to order.)



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100 Ways to Use your iPod to Learn and Study Better

If you think that iPods are used just for listening to music, you obviously haven’t been keeping up with the latest technology The Apple-developed music player now features all kinds of accessories to help you study better, and now other companies are in a rush to get their designs in sync with the iPod. Pre-teens, college kids and even adults are taking advantage of the educational benefits an iPod affords them. From downloadable podcasts to just-for-iPod study guides and applications, learning on the go has never been easier. To find out about the many different ways you can transform your iPod into a learning device, check out our list below.

Link: The iPod Hacker

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Microsoft is Stupid, Apple is not…

Jim Lynch says that the problem isn’t Windows users… It’s Microsoft!

My boss Lance recently wrote a column about how Macs need security software too. In his column he pointed out that Mac users are no smarter than Windows users. I respect where Lance is coming from, we’re all human and quite capable of making mistakes. However, I think he got it wrong. It’s not necessarily just about the users, it’s also about the companies and people who create the operating systems that we use each day.

Frankly, there’s no other way to say this: Microsoft is stupid and Apple is not.

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Facebook Source Code Leaked.

I got this via Mashable!


Not intentionally, alas: a story topping Digg from an anonymous one-hit-wonder-blog called FacebookSecrets (an increasingly common tactic for spreading data around) shows that a part of Facebook’s source code was exposed to some users this weekend. The blog reposted all the code, which must surely have ruined Zuckerberg’s weekend. A server misconfiguration, not a hack, is being blamed. Facebook has since confirmed the issue.

Now we just need the ConnectU code to be exposed and we can close that case. ;)

This does, however, raise serious questions about how secure Facebook may be. A code leak is a major, major problem for the site – the only thing that would generate more fear would be a hack that gained access to user data.

And that’s the huge risk: Facebook promotes itself as a place to connect to your “real” self. In fact, they delete any profile that doesn’t represent a real person (I was forced to change my profile name from “Mashable” to my own, for instance), pretty much guaranteeing that 100% of the data stored there is correct. They also prevent people from signing up with names that sound fake. An exposure of user data, therefore, is the identity thief’s dream.

These risks increase as Facebook and other social networks open up: Facebook apps have yet to be abused, but there’s the potential to do so.

My suggestion to Facebook: make a PR move like hiring a “security expert” or releasing a security mandate. Anything to stop non-technical journalists picking up on these issues and blowing them out of proportion, similar to MySpace’s pedophile stories.

Facebook Security Breached

International media and bloggers are today reporting that social networking site Facebook has encountered a security breach.

The breach, says UK-based The Register, saw private information being accessible to all users. This included other users’ message inboxes.

Founder of local legal firm Jacobson Attorneys Paul Jacobson noted in a post on the company’s Web site that he had received several instant messages from friends asking whether his Facebook inbox was still intact.

“It then transpired that people had been logging into their Facebook accounts only to find someone else’s messages in their Facebook inbox. There were also more mentions of messages being sent apparently from people whose inboxes had been exchanged for other people’s inboxes. In short, it was chaos,” he said.

Third party to blame

Although Facebook has not responded to ITWeb’s request for a statement on the matter, several sites claim the company has issued a statement saying the site was temporarily down to fix a bug.

“This was not the result of a security breach. Specifically, the bug caused some third-party proxy servers to cache otherwise inaccessible content. The result was that an isolated group of users could see some pages that were not intended for them. The site has now been restored and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused,” Facebook is reported to have said.

No warnings, explanations or apologies for yesterday’s incident could be found on the networking site this morning.

Early last month, Facebook employee Carolyn Abram said the site had reached the 30 million active user milestone. This morning, the site said it had in excess of 179 000 SA-based members.

Related: Facebook Charged with Fraud

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Hackers Descend on the iPhone

The race to hack the iPhone is on. Forum threads are buzzing with action, but so far the only achievements are the downloading of the iPhone firmware, and some sniffing of the traffic over the USB cable between iTunes and iPhone

The root password, and that of the default user, named “mobile” have also been cracked. That’s significant as the root account gives access to the deepest levels of the operating system (it is also called the “superuser”), but there is no terminal access to enable a login yet.

Immediate goals for hackers atthe moment are:

1) Bypass activation. This is the big one. If achieved, it will open up the possibility of unlocking the SIM lock and also the Network lock (which ties the phone to a particular provider).

2)Install Third Party Software.There were a lot of complaints when Steve Jobs revealed at Apple’s WWDC programmers conference that there would be no software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone. This is understandable. You hardly ever see an SDK on a v1.0 product as the manufacturer wants room to tweak before opening up the platform. Open it too early and simple v1.1 fixes can break third party applications.

This won’t stop hackers trying to install their won software. The iPhone runs full OS X, albeit stripped of the parts a phone doesn’t need, like printer drivers. If hackers can gain access to the file system, they’ll be able to install anything on there. Currently the file system is sandboxed, meaning the the iPhone offers little if any hooks for other programs, but like we say, it’s OS X in there. It won’t be long.

This thread over at Hackint0sh details the root password crack.

The above is a direct copy from here, where there’s a lot more detail…

South Africans (and South African hackers) will need to wait till November before they can experiment on the iPhone, but it’s always better to see what other’s have done and follow on to better innovation. Then again, given the price tag it’s most likely to be in SA, I don’t think many people are going to mess about with it. This is interesting anyhow :)

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