Here’s What Happens When you Share a Browser with Strangers

stranger-dangerSince the dawn of the internet, mankind has been looking for way to surf the web together, simultaneously, in a single browser. Okay maybe not, but that didn’t stop Swedish artist Jonas Lund from enabling people to do just that in his We See in Every Direction project. I would have called it “Browsing with Strangers.”

Anyway, you might be wondering what it’s like to use the same browser – at the same time – with random strangers. Wired writer Liz Stinson did some in-the-wild testing to find out:

I decided to give Lund’s browser a test run. I launched We See and noticed two other cursors flitting about the screen. Suddenly, text started to fill the URL bar: “Are we the only ones on this browser at the moment,” one of my fellow surfers asked. We were. In the span of two minutes, the page jumped from the Google France home screen to a news story about soccer to an image search for “lovely shit.” That’s when I decided to lead our group over to Wired.com. We made brief stops by Gadget Lab, this story about whales and Underwire before hopping over to the Tumblr, “Local People With Their Arms Crossed.” My group appeared to have good taste. From there, things got a little weird and a little too NSFW to mention here, but what do you expect from the wild west of shared web surfing?

On May 29, Lund hosted an official Surf Party that drew around 100 people. At any given time, there were at least 25 cursors on the browser vying for control. At one point, Google got so confused that it threw out a captcha, unwittingly presenting the group with a hilarious challenge. “While solving a captcha normally isn’t so difficult, trying to solve it when 25 people share the same text box and each of them are presented with a different captcha was pretty chaotic,” Lund said. “That lasted around 10 minutes and was just fantastic to watch.”

We See In Every Direction Official Surf Party from JONAS LUND on Vimeo.

Ten Tips for Agile Testing with uTest

Who Wins the Device Torture Test Challenge?

Mobile Hardware TestingIn-the-wild testing is imperative to making sure your application will work correctly in the hands of real users in the real world. While there are any number of reasons your app might fail (poor connectivity, slow load times, bugs, crashes, bad usability, incorrect content, misinterpreting your target audience, etc.) the real world is equally harsh on hardware.

While we at uTest love bug hunting, it’s a lot more entertaining to watch hardware go through in-the-wild testing. Let’s chalk it up to the awe factor. We’ve posted quite a few videos showing mobile devices being put through the wringer (or blender) but in the end, which device holds up best to the rough and tumble of real life? CNET looked at several tests (there were some extreme ones) and complied these results:

iPad

  • Drop Test: Survived
  • Cold Test: Survived
  • Heat Test: Survived
  • Water Test: Survived
  • Liquid Nitrogen Test: Survived
  • Post Liquid Nitrogen Drop Test: Survived

Nexus 7

  • Drop Test: FAILED
  • Cold Test: Survived
  • Heat Test: Survived
  • Water Test: Survived

Surface

  • Drop Test: FAILED
  • Cold Test: Survived
  • Heat Test: Survived
  • Water Test: FAILED

Read more …

Oh Look, Your Doctor is Wearing Google Glass

screen-shot-2013-05-06-at-3-42-09-pmImagine you wander in to your doctors appointment, and oh – your physician is wearing Google Glass.

Sound far-fetched? It won’t for long. While still in an early stage, Google Glass could significantly change healthcare as it is today. In fact, VentureBeat’s Christina Farr says it could provide medical professionals with point-of-care decision support (assuming Google Glass has been well in-the-wild tested first, of course):

“Some of their most plausible medical scenarios include:

  •  Video sharing and storage: Physicians could record medical visits and store them for future reference or share the footage with other doctors.
  • A diagnostic reference: If Glass is integrated with an electronic medical record (EMR), it could provide a real-time feed of the patient’s vital signs.
  • A textbook alternative: Rather than referring to a medical textbook, physicians can perform a search on the fly with their Google Glass.
  • Emergency room/war zone care: As storied venture capitalist Marc Andreessen proposed in a recent interview, consider ”dealing with wounded patients and right there in their field of vision, if they’re trying to do any kind of procedure, they’ll have step-by-step instructions walking them through it.” In a trauma situation, doctors need to keep their hands free.
  • Helping medical students learn: As suggested by one blogger, a surgeon might live stream a live — and potentially rare — surgery to residents and students.
  • Preventing medical errors: With an electronic medical record integration, a nurse can scan the medication to confirm whether it’s  the correct drug dose and right patient.”

Read the rest here>>

The Karmann Ghia That Runs on Tweets

minddrive1-e1369140906810Forget clean diesel. Forget hybrids, or cars that run on solar power or vegetable oil. Instead, what if a car ran on Tweets? Okay, Tweets and electricity.

A small group of high school students in Kansas City actually made it happen. As part of an extra-curricular program (this was regular curriculum in my school, but whatever) they modified a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia so that it only runs when it gets mentioned in the Twittersphere.

As the Wired article notes, “If that sounds like a publicity stunt, that’s because it is. And it’s for a good cause.”

Here are the basic details:

This year, the team put an electric drivetrain in a 1967 Karmann Ghia. Next week, they’re driving it from Kansas City to Washington, D.C. for a chance to meet elected officials and raise awareness about education. To make sure their voices are heard, they’ve attached an Arduino to the electric drivetrain and programmed it to let the car move forward only when there’s social media buzz about the project. Minddrive calls it “social fuel,” and it provides an important lesson for students: If you want people to care about what you’re doing, you have to make sure they know about it.

My initial reaction was that this HAD to be a joke. It wasn’t. My second thought – something many of the commenters have pointed out – was that this thing better damn well work if they are indeed planning to drive it to the nation’s capital.

I trust they’re done a fair amount of in-the-wild testing, but if you see a red Karmann Ghia on the side of the highway, don’t stop to help them change a tire, stop and send them a Tweet.

Siri and Google Now Battle in Boston

Siri vs Google NowSiri has been reigning supreme in the iOS world for a while,  but with rival Google Now coming to Siri’s home turf will she hold on to her postition as go-to voice assistant for iPhone users? Boston.com senior business producer Daniel Kline took the two out onto the streets of Boston to see which virtual assistant would get the job.

Accessibility

Being accessible by holding down the main button helped Siri win this round. Google Now requires you to open an app first.

Direct Search & Directions

When Daniel asked for directions to the Omni Parker House hotel Google Now knew exactly what he was talking about and where it was. Siri? Not so much. Her list of options didn’t even include the right hotel Daniel reported.

Search by Statement

From Boston.com:

“Neither produced a satisfactory answer to the query, “I’m thirsty,” and asking “Where can I get a cup of tea?” was equally unsuccessful. On the tea question, Siri asked if I wanted to do a Web search, while Google produced Web links to establishments that had the words “cup of tea” in their name. Simply asking for “coffee?” was more satisfying as both apps produced lists of nearby options, though neither offered up the Finagle A Bagel I was standing in front of.”

 Let’s call this one a successful and unsuccessful tie.

Search by Question

When Daniel asked a question about the circus being in town both virtual assistants returned the circus’ website.

When he asked where he could find a burger, Siri pulled up some nearby burger joints while Google Now didn’t produce any results.

Clueless when it  comes to pop culture? You might want to go with Google Now.

I asked both assistants, “Who are One Direction?” Siri did not appear to know and offered up a list of Web links not related to the band. Google, however, knew exactly what I was asking and it offered up links to both the band’s website and its Wikipedia page.

When it comes to the Red Sox, though, both apps know their stuff. They both produced graphical information when asked about the next Sox game. Results were a bit iffier when Daniel wanted to know about the Bruins playoffs schedule. Siri had nothing and all Google could muster up was a link to the Bruins website.

This one was close and it seemed to be hit or miss overall, but in the end Google Now inched ahead with slightly better results than Siri.

Local Public Transit

Read more …

Test Apps for Children’s Privacy Issues

Children using mobile appsMobile app users are concerned about the privacy and security of their data (in fact, those are two of the 10 important attributes highlighted by Applause). But what happens when it’s your kid using an app? Privacy issues with children’s apps have been making headlines in the past months and at the end of last year the Federal Trade Commission put out a report titled “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade.”

Kristin Judge, the executive director of the Trusted Purchasing Alliance (part of the Center for Internet Security), used the report and a corresponding article to highlight some particularly disturbing privacy lapses.

  • Parents are not being provided with information about what data an app collects, who will have access to that data, and how it will be used. Only 20 percent of the apps staff reviewed disclosed any information about the app’s privacy practices.
  • Many apps (nearly 60 percent of the apps surveyed) are transmitting information from a user’s device back to the app developer or, more commonly, to an advertising network, analytics company, or other third party.
  • A relatively small number of third parties received information from a large number of apps. This means the third parties that receive information from multiple apps could potentially develop detailed profiles of the children based on their behavior in different apps.
  • Many apps contain interactive features — such as advertising, links to social media, or the ability to purchase goods within an app — without disclosing those features to parents prior to download
  • Fifty-eight percent of the apps reviewed contained advertising within the app, while only 15 percent disclosed the presence of advertising prior to download.
  • Twenty-two percent of the apps contained links to social networking services, while only 9 percent disclosed that fact.
  • Seventeen percent of the apps reviewed allow kids to make purchases for virtual goods within the app, with prices ranging from 99 cents to $29.99. Although both stores provided certain indicators when an app contained in-app purchasing capabilities, these indicators were not always prominent and, even if noticed, could be difficult for many parents to understand.

Read the full article at AnnArbor.com >>>

Some of these issues are problems for both adults and children. Others – such as ads, in-app purchases and social network links – are things adults will see and understand, but may be tempting to children who don’t know what they’re clicking or what it does.

How does this tie into in-the-wild testing? When you’re testing an app that a child might use (a game, an entertainment app, etc.) think about it from a child’s perspective. Is it too easy to accidentally click on an ad? Did you get a clear privacy policy statement when you downloaded the app (so that parents are informed)? Does the app match the privacy policy or did it neglect to mention certain features? Test the app as you would normally, then take another look at it through the eyes of a seven-year-old – it can be a world of difference. That’s not something test automation or a simulator can test for.

How Will Technology Shape the Future of Healthcare?

Apps to track your blood pressure or heart rate, wrist bands to track your calories, forks that help you lose weight… these are just a few of the advancements in technology that will help to shape the future of personalized healthcare.

These devices and mobile apps have the potential to drastically change the healthcare industry for the better. With more accurate, aggregated data doctors can provide more specialized care to prevent diseases and better treat patients – that is, if the technology has gone through the right kind of in-the-wild testing.

One of our favorite in-the-wild testers, Molly Wood of CNET, recently took a closer look at the latest tech trends in fitness and health – including health apps and wearable tech gadgets. Here’s a look:

Security Expert Turns to Password Crackers for Help

Invalid PasswordNo matter how good you think your security is, there is always someone who can break it. … But sometimes that’s a good thing.

Jeremiah Grossman, a web app security expert and CTO of WhiteHat Security, changed his password and, unfortunately, forgot the new one. From InformationWeek:

As a result [of forgetting the new password], he was unable to access the many different Mac OS X Disk Image (.dmg) files he uses to store his work, which he created with Apple FileVault using double the default level of encryption: AES-256.

“A great thing about DMGs is that they can be stored anywhere — hidden in some obscure directory on the local machine, a network storage device, a USB drive, whatever. All my confidential files are typically stored this way, in a series of encrypted DMGs with separate passwords,” said Grossman in a blog post.

Being a security expert, you can bet his password wasn’t 1234 or Monkey. He even took extra security steps to keep hackers from getting to his data.

Grossman also mounts the DMGs only when they’re needed, both to make the files harder to find should someone obtain his password, and to make the data much more difficult for any hackers who remotely compromise his system. Likewise, Grossman didn’t store his password in the OS X Keychain. Nor did he write it down and store it in a safe or other hiding place.

Using strong passwords is good, but the down side is that if you do forget your password you’re in a bit of a bind – for Grossman, there were 41 billion password possibilities. He remembered part of the new password (which lowered the possible answers to 22,472) but after a week of trying couldn’t figure out the rest. So Grossman turned to the public for help. Four world-renowned password crackers answered the call and created a new password cracker specifically to get into Grossman’s files.

Grossman issued a plea via Twitter, which was answered by four developers: Solar Designer, gat3way, Dhiru Kholia and Magnum. They collectively created the John the Ripper (JtR) password cracker along with Jeremi Gosney of Stricture Consulting Group, which maintains a powerful GPU cluster for rapidly cracking passwords. “Collectively, these guys are the amongst the world’s foremost experts in password cracking. If they can’t help, no one can,” said Grossman.

They were successful and Grossman got back into his data. He presumably immediately changed the password again (it was just cracked after all) and hopefully this time he came up with a back up plan for remembering. This should teach you an important lesson about software security:

The moral of the story: No matter how secure your system might be, never discount the human element, even if that human is an information security specialist.

Don’t think of that moral as an ominous reason to completely give up on security. Instead, look at it as motivation. You should constantly be conducting security testing on your applications and software because the hackers out there are constantly finding new vulnerabilities and coming up with new ways to get into your systems. You can’t stay one step ahead of them – or even on pace with them – if you’re not continually dedicating time and resources to good security testing.

How Would You Use Google Glass?

googleglassWe have seen a lot of buzz around google glass, what it means for the future, debates on who will be willing to purchase it or be a first adopter. But the realisty is that there are some really compelling things that people plan to use glass for. Here the top 10 ways people plan to use google glass from ReadWriteWeb:

  1. Enhancing Surgery With Augmented Reality – “the technology could be use by surgeons as virtual assistants in the operating room. Timothy Lee, a surgical resident at New York University, proposes using Glass to record operations for teaching purposes, enable remote assistance via livestream and show the surgeon vitals, CT scan and other pertinent medical information. “
  2. Revolutionizing Higher Education – “For students, Google Glass could be transformative. Some are even talking about how Glass could potentially aid those with learning disabilities.  Recording lectures, live streaming them for remote access, audio-note taking and supplementing lectures with related data are just the beginning.”
  3. Enhancing Less Formal, More Hands-On Learning – “Just like people post tutorial videos to YouTube, a camera-equipped camera you wear on your face opens up new possibilities for teaching people things from a hands-on, first person perspective. Fixing things, cooking meals, learning to play the guitar.”
  4. Augmented Reality Gaming – “With technology like Glass, game developers can overlay gameplay over the real world, and plenty of them are already thinking about how to take their Android games to this new, exciting (or creepy) level.”
  5. Overcoming Disabilities – “At the University of New Brunswick Libraries, Jeff Carter wants to use Glass to make things more accessible to the visually impaired via real-time optical character recognition and text-to-speech translation. “
  6. Stargazing – “Amateur astronomers will be able to look at the sky with a whole new layer of digital insight using tiny, face-mounted computers. “
  7. Healthier Living – “If Santa Clara University student Alexander Vincent Molloy has his way, you’ll also be able to return health-related information about foods while you’re cooking or even shopping.”
  8. Reconnecting With History – “Armed with Glass-supported Android apps, walking through the historical Old City District of Philadelphia or the history-rich parks of Massachusetts could be like taking one of those audio-guided tours on digital steroids.”
  9. Augmented Reality Art – “It doesn’t have to bound by museum walls, either. European design agency Nuelandherzer says it would use Glassto create an augmented reality experience for viewing and learning about urban street art around the world.”
  10. Real-Time Language Translation – “Using technology Google already owns (OCR and Google Translate), Glass could translate foreign signs and menus. Even more compelling is the device’s theoretical ability to translate spoken language into real-time subtitles, effectively eliminating any language barrier between two Glass-wearing individuals.”

Check out the whole article here. What would you use Google Glass for?

 

Linux Powered Precision Guided Rifle

I am not exactly a gun enthusiast, but, being a bit of a geek I find this fascninating. Tracking Point has developed a Linux powered sniper rifle. “The heart of the product lies in a Linux-powered rifle scope. This is not your typical glass scope. Instead, it’s a video recording system that runs the stream through an image processing engine and presents you with a heads-up display. On the rifle is a special button to “paint” a red dot onto your target. The image processing engine sees the dot and keeps it on your target, regardless of motion (your’s or the target’s). Squeeze the trigger to arm the rifle, and the HUD gives you an aiming reticule with a blue dot in the middle. You need to line up the target’s red dot with your HUD’s blue dot. When your HUD’s blue dot lines up correctly with the target’s red dot the rifle will fire. If the dots don’t line up, the rifle won’t fire. In essence, you can’t take a bad shot with this system.” (Read more at TechCrunch)