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Monthly Archives: November 2011

via Huffington Post

A security researcher has posted a video detailing hidden software installed on smart phones that logs numerous details about users’ activities.

In a 17-minute video posted Monday on YouTube, Trevor Eckhart shows how the software – known as Carrier IQ – logs every text message, Google search and phone number typed on a wide variety of smart phones – including HTC, Blackberry, Nokia and others – and reports them to the mobile phone carrier.

The application, which is labeled on Eckhart’s HTC smartphone as “HTC IQ Agent,” also logs the URL of websites searched on the phone, even if the user intends to encrypt that data using a URL that begins with “HTTPS,” Eckhart said.

The software always runs when Android operating system is running and users are unable to stop it, Eckhart said in the video.

“Why is this not opt-in and why is it so hard to fully remove?” Eckhart wrote at the end of the video.

In a post about Carrier IQ on his website, Eckhart called the software a “rootkit,” a security term for software that runs in the background without a user’s knowledge and is commonly used in malicious software.

Eckhart’s video is the latest in a series of attacks between him and the company. Earlier this month, Carrier IQ sent a cease and desist letter to Eckhart claiming he violated copyright law by publishing Carrier IQ training manuals online. But after the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, came to Eckhart’s defense, the company backed off its legal threats.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the software that Eckhart has publicized “raises substantial privacy concerns” about software that “many consumers don’t know about.”

Carrier IQ could not immediately be reached for comment. But the company told Wired.com that its software is used for “gathering information off the handset to understand the mobile-user experience, where phone calls are dropped, where signal quality is poor, why applications crash and battery life.”

On its website, Carrier IQ, founded in 2005, describes itself as “the world’s leading provider of Mobile Service Intelligence solutions.”

Watch video of Eckhart explaining his findings:

 

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You’re familiar with the idea: seasonal retail shops that suddenly materialize in once-vacant storefronts to sell Halloween costumes in October. Christmas trees in December. Remaindered calendars come January. More recently, big box shops have pounced on the idea of flash retail as well; to promote its Rodarte clothing line a couple of years ago, Target launched Target to Go—mini-shops in carefully selected locations that opened and closed within three days. Google is cashing in on the trend, too—opening temporary retail spaces in airports this fall to hand-sell its new cloud computing laptop.

Now in Oakland, restaurateur Alfonso Dominguez and urban planner Sarah Filley are taking the pop-up concept to a new level. In December, they’re opening a pop-up neighborhood: three downtown blocks of temporary retail shops that showcase local designers, artists and goods.

The six participating stores—which range from clothing and crafts to bicycles and art—will occupy currently vacant spaces for six months, rent free, and try to turn a profit. If they succeed, they’ll sign a long-term lease with the building, which spans four city blocks of the Old Oakland district downtown; and what began as an experiment becomes a bonafide shopping district. That’s the idea, anyway.

Dominguez and Filley are calling the venture “popuphood.”

 “The central idea is to use the rapid startup of a popup, but instead of doing one store here and there, we want to actually nurture small businesses and cultivate a critical mass,” said Filley. “A thriving retail district, basically.”

A designer named Douglas Burnham did something similar in San Francisco, opening a cluster of restaurants and retail shops inside 26 modified shipping containers arranged on an empty lot in Hayes Valley. But the difference, according to Dominguez and Filley, is that popuphood is a long-term plan for neighborhood revitalization, while Burnham’s project was meant to be fleeting.

The stores will share a building with one of Dominguez’s other ventures, a restaurant and tequila bar called Tamarindo, on 8th Street and Broadway, not too far from a taqueria he owns. So he, admittedly, has a vested interest in bolstering the neighborhood’s profile and economic outlook.

After watching store after store shutter windows and close up when the economy took a downturn in 2008, Dominguez worried that the vacant storefronts would never fill up.

“People were too scared to open retail,” he said.  “And they saw me being the only one here. It was really hard.”

Then he had an idea: What if a group of like-minded business owners banded together to fill the empty spaces, cooperatively market their stores, and together mitigate the risks of starting up a new business?

Inspired, he teamed up with Filley, a friend with experience in urban planning and public art innovation, who helped him put together a business proposal to present to the city’s redevelopment agency and the owners of the building, Peter Sullivan Associates.

“It happened really fast,” Dominguez said. “We were a little like, ‘Whoa, can we pull this off?’”

Within a matter of months, they had secured permits and a marketing grant from the city of Oakland, and worked out an arrangement with the owners, who were happy to donate the space.

“Many of these spaces have been vacant for a year or more,” Filley said. “So for (the property owners), it’s no risk. And the tenants are offering to improve the spaces, and make it work for them.”

Three of the shops—Marion & Rose’s Workshop, Manifesto Bicycles and Sticks + Stones—will open early to host holiday sales for “Plaid Friday,” an indie alternative to Black Friday.

But the grand opening of all six—one of which, a furniture shop, will be housed inside a repurposed shipping container in the parking lot behind the building—is December 9. Dominguez and Filley are hosting a block party from 12pm to 9pm, on 9th Street, in collaboration with neighboring businesses and restaurants, including Trappist bar and B restaurant.

Besides introducing Oaklanders to the stores, they’re hoping the block party will reacquaint residents with the charm of Old Oakland: the Victorian architecture, mature trees and brick-lined walkways.

“It’s historic and it’s gorgeous,” Filley said. “It also has highest transit and walk scores in the city of Oakland, and there’s a free shuttle that goes from the ferry all the way to the arts district. Its really a big head scratcher as to why this neighborhood hasn’t taken off already.”

Brian Kendall, an urban economic analyst with Oakland’s redevelopment agency, helped Dominguez and Filley secure city funding for the project, from façade improvement grants to marketing money for the grand opening.

“It’s definitely an experiment and I will be really curious to see where it goes,” Kendall said of the venture “it exposes these areas to the possibility of what could be. What does Old Oakland want to be?”

He argues that Popuphood, like Oaklandish and Awaken Café, may bring the “cool factor” to downtown Oakland, which was once dominated by “mom and pop” shops and vacant space, he said.

To say the least, the shops Dominguez and Filley “curated” for popuphood are eclectic and hip: Manifesto sells custom fixed gears. Piper & John General Goods offers vintage clothing, jewelry and “reclaimed” décor. Crown 9 is an artisanal jewelry store. Sticks and Stones art gallery will open an accompanying retail shop. And in a shipping container behind the building, you’ll find Turtle & Hare, an design-and-build furniture shop.

But apart from its trendy offerings, Kendall said Popuphood’s greatest strength will be its founders’ ability to market the project, set themselves apart from other area businesses and reach people who wouldn’t normally go downtown to shop.

“People will travel for restaurants and bars,” Kendall said. “But people aren’t necessarily going to travel for shoes.”

But Filley is optimistic.

“The restaurants and bars around here are fantastic and have a following, so the only thing missing in this neighborhood is retail,” she said. Clustering shops, restaurants and bars can benefit everyone involved, she added.

“Knowing that you have other neighbors that are doing it with you, that can bring marketing and foot traffic and followers was really the tipping point for a lot of them,” Filley said of the other business owners. “To know that you can pool your resources together and ask ‘Where do you get your sign made? How do you use Iphone commerce?’…That’s valuable.”

Source: The Bay Citizen (http://s.tt/14jLc)

via Oakland Local

Even before Occupy came to Oakland, local residents have been known for thinking globally and shopping locally.

This year promises to be no exception with both Plaid Friday and Blackout Oakland scheduled for “Black Friday,” Nov. 25.

Not everyone can or will head to the shops. What if you’re out of town on the big day? Or simply prefer to do your shopping online? Turns out, there are lots of ways to shop local using a computer or smart phone. When it comes to shopping local, you can let your fingers do the walking.

The first stop on our virtual tour is Oakland Unwrapped. This organization is well known for the Oakland Indie Awards – celebrating Oakland business’s and artists each May. But they also host an Online Marketplace where shoppers can find and buy directly from Oakland-owned independent businesses and artists. Click here to shop online with more than 130 different local vendors.

Next is to Oakland Grown. This group of local business owners, artists and engaged citizens supports local purchasing through advocacy, network building and advertising. This year, they also started a gift card program. You can buy the cards in the Oakland Grown gift guide section of the site. Click on the card amount you want to be taken to a screen where you can “Add to cart.” The site has some great real world local shopping ideas sorted by price and category.

There also are national sites, which allow you to find local sellers. Ebay Local is one option – once you type in your city or zip code, you can search for second-hand items from individuals or companies. It can be a great way to both save money and stimulate the local economy. Another site popular with many Oakland crafters is Etsy. This site also features a buy local search. A recent search revealed more than 17,000 items made by Oakland enthusiasts of sewing, knitting, crochet, painting/illustration and other handmade skills.

Several well-known local artists sell their posters online including Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza/Dignidad Rebelde, Favianna Rodriguez, Estria and the Bay Area graffiti artists of Endless Canvas.

Oakland is home to several great museums and a few of them have online stores, including the Oakland Museum of California and Chabot Space & Science Center. You could also always buy your friends and family a museum membership – like this one at Mocha Children’s Art Museum.

Lastly, let’s not forget local swag. Oaklandish has made a business turning local T’s into local grants. There’s also Hella Love and 5733. For even more Oakland spirit (and a higher price tag) you can go official with the Athletics, the Warriors or the Raiders. Clothing, gear or season tickets are appreciated by long time and new fans.

 

Occupy Black Friday, Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday, or any other funny shopping day names aside.  Let’s make sure we are understanding the message this year.  SHOP LOCAL.  SHOP AMERICAN MADE.  SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITIES.

We have been doing a great job exercising our right to free speech and utilizing our tax dollars with the efforts made behind the Occupy Movement!  Also, Bank Transfer Day was a huge success, moving obscene amounts of money away from the banks that don’t deserve them and into Credit Unions.  But we cannot stop there.

Although it’s a sometimes difficult feat, shop local and American made.  By shopping at large stores without any civic responsibility, we are giving money back to those who are far removed from their communities and live in the 1%.  By purchasing items, which are sweatshop made, we are taking jobs away from Americans and other countries who are paying their manufacturers proper and livable wages.

This upcoming weekend is a great time to start.  But lets not make sure we stop there.  Let’s do our research and find out where you can shop to help out, and not hurt our communities.  By voting to shop local, your voice will be heard.

via Oakland Local

Well, that didn’t last long.

Early Sunday morning, Oakland police removed a small group of Occupiers who had set up tents and spent the night at a vacant lot at 19th Street and Telegraph, in the Uptown district, next to Henry J. Kaiser Park. The raid began around 8 a.m.

Within half an hour, the encampment had been cleared. About 20 campers were asked to leave and complied, OPD spokesperson Johnna Watson said.

“We don’t want a confrontation, we just want them to remove their tents,” Watson added.

There were no arrests.

Overnight Sunday, encampment “residents” at Snow Park – who had been there off and on for weeks – also were asked by OPD to leave and complied. The latest closure was met with no opposition or incident.

Back near Kaiser Park, about 40 demonstrators milled about around 9:30 a.m. Sunday as a line of officers in riot helmets and rain gear maintained a line at the intersection of 19th and Rashida Mohammad streets. Some of the demonstrators chanted slogans. Others attempted to engage in dialogue with police. One woman sang to the officers, who remained mostly stoic, occasionally cracking smiles. At one point, a photographer asked police to pose in front of a sculpture depicting Gandhi. No one took him up on the offer.

Behind the police line, Department of Public Works cleaning crews removed debris from the short-lived encampment, which reportedly was very unpopular with residents of the Uptown apartment complex.

The swift removal of the encampment represented somewhat of a public-relations victory for OPD, who had been widely criticized for excessive use of force during earlier raids, which included the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. This time, OPD kept their composure and maintained professionalism.

Demonstrators seemed unsure what their next steps would be after it became apparent that they would not be permitted to keep the Uptown encampment. Many of the campers relocated to the Snow Park location, which had about 20 tents as of Friday afternoon – but their time at the park near Lake Merritt was short spent as OPD moved in and shut down the city’s last Occupy encampment Sunday evening.

via Huffington Post

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called child labor laws “stupid” Friday in an appearance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid,” said the former House speaker,according to CNN. “Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”

“You’re going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America,” he added.

Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows minors over 14 to work in most jobs, with several exceptions for minors under that age. Hours are limited for minors under the age of 16. Some states have higher age standards.

He also said Saturday Occupy Wall Street protesters should “take a bath” and “get a job.”

Gingrich has risen in the polls to a virtual tie with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

He still faces questions over his role as a consultant for Freddie Mac, for which he was paid at least $1.5 million for strategic advice from 1999 to 2007. Gingrich has denied ever lobbying for the company and had criticized then-candidate Barack Obama for accepting campaign contributions from the firm. In an interview with USA Today published Monday, he said, “You start with people with a socialist bias that you shouldn’t earn money. If you do, “you’re automatically suspicious of having done something bad,” he added.

Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner disputed Gingrich’s claim that he was never a lobbyist. The columnist reported that the former House speaker tried to convince Capitol Hill Republicans to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare while being paid for by drug companies. Gingrich denied the report Monday, saying he publicly advocated the benefit and was doing well financially at the time.

Gingrich unveiled a plan Monday to allow younger workers to invest their Social Security in private retirement accounts, similar to an unsuccessful plan proposed by former President George W. Bush.

In an interview over the weekend with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich was asked how he is a better candidate than in the past. He said, “I do fewer dumb things.”

Watch the video right here.