Links: Office365 rebates, Box unboxes, Wirelurker’s lessons, LG G Watch R tested, and more


Cat in a cardboard box. This is not an offering from Box.

A selection of 13 links for you. Not to be inhaled while driving.

Microsoft offers prorated Office 365 refunds to paid subscribers after making mobile editing free >> VentureBeat

Following Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that you can now create and edit documents using its mobile Office apps for free, there is some good news for Office 365 subscribers regretting their purchase. The company is offering prorated refunds, though you’ll have to apply, and there’s some important fine print.

First of all, this only applies to Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscriptions purchased on or after March 27, 2014 (when Office for iPad was released) and activated before November 6, 2014 (when the changes were announced). Other Office 365 subscriptions are aimed at businesses, and those licensing terms are a bit more complex.


Box’s Aaron Levie: we’re misunderstood >> The Information

Q: Are Google, Dropbox, Microsoft and Box targeting the same customers?

Aaron Levie: Most companies have to choose a breadth or depth approach to these kinds of problems. Google has a breadth approach—they have email, documents, Hangouts and a very broad set of tools to deliver to customers. And they’re very good tools. But if you go to a hospital or retailer, the depth of capability they need around managing their critical content and tying that critical content into workflows is very different. They care much more about the security of the content, managing the metadata, admin capabilities, the previewing of image files. We’re not in the email space; we’re not in the calendar space and we’re not in the photo space. We’re going much deeper within the enterprise.

Q: Why shouldn’t people think of Box as a storage company?

AL: I’d point to how our customers actually use us. If you have our business edition, you have unlimited storage. We see a future where storage is free and infinite. The value proposition for customers using Box is the value on top of storage and compute. The result is being able to pull up medical information. A movie studio can produce a new trailer for a film. A record company can produce a new album.

This is similar in some ways to my interview with Levie. Extra: he recommends following Ben Thompson on Twitter.


What You Need to Know About WireLurker >> Jonathan Zdziarski’s Domain

What can Apple do to help prevent it? I have a number of ideas ranging from easy fixes to difficult design changes.

On the easy side:

…2. Disable “Enterprise” app installation entirely without an “Enterprise Mode”

A vast majority of non-enterprise users will never need a single enterprise app installed, and any attempt to do so should fail. So why doesn’t Apple lock this capability out unless it’s explicitly enabled? This could look like a switch in settings, or even just prompting the user so that they understand they’re accepting applications that are not sanctioned by the app store. Again, there is a user education component here, but also just like a “developer mode”, it would make sense for non-supervised devices to have an “enterprise mode” or “ad-hoc mode” that has to be explicitly enabled before any third party software can be installed.

Zdziarski published a widely-reported paper on iOS attacks ahead of iOS 8, and has a deep knowledge of iOS’s security strengths and weaknesses. The above suggestion seems like the most obvious, and more effective, to prevent Wirelurker-style attacks going wider.


LG G Watch R review: good looks and improved battery are a step in the right direction >> Engadget

James Trew, in a generally positive review of the LG G Watch R (whose name seems to have at least one letter too many):

One other new feature is actually not specific to the G Watch R, but it’s new to Wear, and we’ve not covered it before on Engadget beyond the news: the ability to store and play music directly from the watch. So, if you want to go running (for example), you no longer have to bring your phone along if you want some music. I followed Google’s instructions for transferring music to the letter, and nothing happened. The LG G Watch R later prompted me that there was an update, so I installed this. I tried following the instructions again (basically there’s a tick box in the Play Music Android app) and again nothing. Then some time later, a card popped up saying it was transferring music. Great. Despite the unclear setup process, it’s definitely nice-to-have functionality, and it shows that Android Wear as a platform is growing with the hardware that’s running it. It’s still pretty basic for now – you can’t choose exactly which music to sync, for example – but hey, it’s progress.

You can’t choose which music to sync? On a $300 device? But he did get about two days of use, and thought he could push it to three. That’s important.


Profile of Hayden Hewitt, founder of LiveLeak >> Business Insider

James Cook:

With its graphic violence and notoriety, does LiveLeak’s sole public founder consider the site to have a positive impact on the internet? Hewitt isn’t sure it has any impact at all. “If you look at the wider world, it certainly couldn’t make it any worse. It depends what you take out of it, what the experience is … Me personally, I don’t think it has any impact on the greater world whatsoever, and if we look around us, it’s relatively small-fry in terms of any nastiness.”

LiveLeak returned to prominence in August after ISIS/Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley on Aug. 19. The video was quickly removed from YouTube, as it violated the site’s policy on violent content. But LiveLeak, which chooses not to censor violent content unless it’s overly gratuitous, decided to host the video. Site traffic soared as people searched for the video.

It’s all about that last sentence. (Side note: Cook is doing remarkable work at BI.)


How I reverse-engineered Google Docs to play back any document’s keystrokes >> James Somers

To produce the embed, I used a website I made called draftback.com, which I suppose I’m launching right now. With Draftback, you can play back and analyze any of your own Google Docs, or, for that matter, any Google Doc you have permission to edit.

(Everyone I’ve talked to about this has been surprised, and maybe a little unnerved, to discover that whenever they share a Google Doc with someone, they’re also sharing an extremely detailed record of them typing the thing.)…

…The data that Google stores is, as you might expect, kind of incredible. What we actually have is not just a coarse “video” of a document — we have the complete history of every single character. Draftback is aware of this history, and assigns each character a persistent unique ID, which makes it possible to do stuff that I don’t think folks have really done to a piece of writing before.

It’s sort of implied through the ability to wind back changes, but being able to visualise changes in documents like this could be very useful.


Malvertising is here; how to protect yourself >> Tom’s Guide

Ads have been used to spread malware for years, but only recently have criminals started adopting the method en masse. In 2013, 12.4bn malicious ad impressions occurred — a 225% increase from 2012, according to the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), a Bellevue, Washington-based nonprofit that develops guidelines for online businesses.

This September, the so-called “Kyle and Stan” malvertising campaign placed ads on Google, Yahoo, YouTube and Grooveshark, as well as on 70 other websites. Later that month, another malvertising campaign used Google’s own DoubleClick ad service to infect visitors to Last.fm and the Jerusalem Post.

“This is an attack happening at Internet scale,” [Rahul] Kashyap [chief security officer at Bromium] said.


Michael Bastian x Hewlett-Packard >> Gilt

This is Hewlett-Packard’s watch. Click through and consider when the last time was that you saw a digital watch where you can see the pixels and the antialiasing is so-so.


Why a Google Fiber deal fell apart in Kansas >> CityLab

Michael Grass:

Google has been fairly vague about the reasons for its decision to pull out of Leawood, a fast-growing Johnson County suburb with a population of around 33,000 people. In a recent email to potential fiber customers in Leawood, Google said expansion there would “require a much more difficult construction effort and schedule than planned,” according to The Kansas City Star, forcing it withdraw.

City officials told local media that a confidentiality agreement with Google kept them from disclosing what led to the deal’s demise.

But documents obtained by The Star and KSHB-TV through public records requests confirm what many had suspected: Leawood’s ordinance that mandated that any new utility infrastructure be installed underground created difficulties for Google, which has stated that one of the key elements for fiber expansion is the ease of using existing local infrastructure.

Google wanted to join everyone else by putting the fibre on telegraph poles; the city doesn’t want any more aerial pollution.

So – local regulations, Google unhappy with them, non-disclosure. Got it? Now read on.


Fire-safety concerns sank Google’s barges >> WSJ

Jeff Elder:

Foss [Maritime, the contractor for Google] told the Coast Guard that no more than 150 [people] would be on board at any time, but Coast Guard officials weren’t reassured.

“I am unaware of any measures you plan to use to actually limit the number of passengers,” Mr. Gauvin wrote in the March 27 email about fire safety. He criticized the effort by Google and Foss to seek quick approvals. “While I understand there is a sense of urgency, I am concerned that significant work has already been performed without full consent of the Coast Guard.”

Google wooed government officials, including organizing field trips. “The good folks at Google want to give us a tour of the barge that is currently under construction (it’s almost done) at Treasure Island,” wrote Rich Hillis, executive director of the nonprofit Fort Mason Center to National Park Service managers on Aug. 19, 2013. “They can pick us up in a special Google speed boat.”

Ooh, a speed boat! That’ll make government officials forget about silly fire safety regulations and the potential for people to have to choose between drowning or burning. Note too that those officials were asked – well, required – by Google to sign non-disclosure agreements, a move they later regretted.


My name is Dan and I had a bent iPhone >> The Verge

Dan Seifert:

From the time that I discovered my iPhone was bent to having a new phone in my hand was about 12 hours. Apple replaced the damaged phone under warranty at no cost to me, even though I had originally purchased the device from AT&T and not Apple itself. I’d never paid for any extended warranty or AppleCare Plus.

It’s important to note that I scheduled the appointment using my personal email address and did not identify as a journalist at the store. It didn’t appear that any one at the store recognized me as such, either. By all accounts, it was just a routine Genius Bar appointment and resolution. I asked the particular employee that helped me if they had seen a lot of customers complain of bent devices; they said of the thousands of people they’ve helped, they’d only seen it a couple of times. (They also noted that the other instances where a phone had come in bent, it had significantly more damage than my device, such as a cracked screen.) Apple PR declined to comment on this story when contacted by The Verge.

I’m not thrilled that my iPhone 6 bent under normal usage, but I can’t say I’m unhappy with the resolution.

(I’ve been using an iPhone 6 Plus for about two months now. Completely flat. But it’s the customer resolution that’s important too. Though I expect Apple is tearing these phones down and figuring out changes in the internals as you read this.)


What happens in your brain when your virtual body is threatened? >> Mel Slater’s Presence Blog

Professor Mel Slater, ex of ICREA:

In this study we looked at what happened when the virtual body was threatened. When someone anticipates that a knife might stab their hand that is resting on a table they would be likely to attempt to move the threatened hand out of the way. They would expect to feel considerable pain should the knife actually stab the hand. In this work we considered what happens when a person’s real body is visually substituted by a life-sized virtual body, and they see a threat or attack to a hand of this virtual body seen from first person perspective. Our experiment investigated brain activity in response to events that would cause pain to the observer were these events to occur in reality.

Of course, to round out the study shouldn’t they actually stab some of the people in the hand while they’re wearing the telepresence system and measure response? Huh? What ethics?

(Definitely a blog to follow, by the way.)


My favorite iOS 8 features, big and small >> DanFrakes.com

A great, in-depth list; if you use an iPhone or iPad, there’s bound to be something in here that you didn’t know but will go “aha!” about. (I liked the idea of using the Medical ID screen for the contact/reward method, and the “send last location” for Find My IPhone/iPad when its battery is almost dead.)


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