Short Takes: March 20, 2015

Short Takes: March 20, 2015

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this edition: Losing parental control in more ways than one; a Google Watch; Apple's military like plans to sell the Apple Watch; Social Media and Thieves do not mix; Targeting a $10 million dollar settlement for a data breach plus lots of Microsoft news.

Parental Controls Failure

I have been waiting to talk about this one since I first saw the story earlier this week.

Recently a guy named Jeremy Hillman discovered his son had racked up some unexpected charges against the father’s credit card for Xbox One to the total sum of $4,500. Apparently the son was a big FIFA fan and gamer so he was using his father’s credit card, which had been entered into the billing section of the son’s Xbox Live account to purchase the FIFA game, to purchase virtual FIFA player packs.

Apparently this activity has been going on for several months when the father discovered it and by that time the total amount of charges had climbed close to $4,500.

Well it turns out the father now wants to sue Microsoft for not placing proper controls into their Xbox One system to control these types of issues even though he admitted that they, he and his wife, could have paid a little more attention.

He also admitted that he entered his credit card info into his son’s account for the initial game purchase and apparently left it in there afterwards which opened up the opportunity to let junior make in-app purchases.

I am not sure this Dad’s class action lawsuit stands much of a chance with his own admission of responsibility for having entered his card on the child’s account and that he and his wife could have paid more attention to things.

All they had to do was implement Parental Controls on the Xbox One, which has a very robust systems to stop these things from happening, and place a passkey only they knew so the son could not authorize in app purchases against the dad’s credit card.

Well it turns out that shortly after he published his cautionary tale to Medium he became the attention of a social media flurry about his reaction and expectations.  He let everyone know that he had not initiated any legal action and did not plan to plus the charges have been paid.

It always costs more to shut the barn doors after the cows leave then it does to take the time to set things up correctly in the first place. That will prevent the udder madness all around!

Tag Heuer, Google and Intel to build a watch?

Watch Clock

It has not been that long since Google scrapped their Google Glass Explorer program and announced a complete re-work of the technology.  In recent days there has been a lot of discussion on whether Glass was a failure or a success.  No matter which side you may sit on this issue, it has been my experience that there was not a lot of in between and most people either loved it or disliked it, Google is still looking at connecting to the world with their technologies.

Well it looks like Google’s next shot at being involved with wearable tech is decidedly less obvious and they are doing it by teaming up with Intel and Tag Heuer to build a smartwatch.

If you thought the Apple watch was expensive then you will not want to look at the price tag of a regular mechanical Tag Heuer let alone a smartwatch version of one.

I would just ask Google to make one promise – no shots of the watch in a shower – please!

Is 15 minutes enough time to decide?


Apple will apparently be very generous and give each customer 15 minutes of hands on time to ultimately decide about the purchase of the Apple Watch which will become available next month.

According to 9 to 5 Mac the plan Apple retail is laying out, which goes into effect on 10 April as the watch becomes available for pre-order, sounds a lot like military maneuvers.  In fact Apple plans to use 75-90% of their store staff just for these watch related evolutions.

The 15 minute appointments are actually called in-store-try-on appointments, ISTOA for short, and there will be at least 10 of these stations in each store to handle the traffic.  Customers can either call in for a specific appointment or they can walk in. The customer will have their own guide for the hands-on experience, or CHOG for short. After the demo period the customer will have the option to reserve their particular model of Apple Watch for pickup on 24 April when the device launches.

Apple will also have dedicated watch sales stations, or DWST for short, for customers. One will be for those who know exactly which Apple Watch they want and the other for those who still need some help beyond their time at the ISTOA.

For those customers interested in purchasing the high end Apple Watches made of gold long time store employees, who have received special training, will be called “Experts” or LTSEE for short. This pair of LTSEE’s will be available in each store to focus on these unique sales opportunities.

Warning: All of the acronyms above are fake – the plans are for real.

Social Media and Thieves

Police Thieves

You always seem to hear about thieves who steal an electronic device, such as a laptop or cellphone, who ultimately get caught because brag about it on social media.

You will see those thieves posting images of themselves with the goods or posting updates that refer to the crime. It usually does not take long for them to then be caught.

Then you have those thieves who don’t really understand the tech they have stolen and in turn they use the device as if it was legitimately theirs but still using credentials, services and programs that belonged to the victim.  These are the situations that get resolved because the victim sees these activities on their other device, report it to police and many times get their gear back.

Then there is this example out of Seattle where a tip on Twitter, not from the thieves but from a concerned citizen, led to the breakup of a bicycle theft ring that was using Craiglist to peddle their stolen wares.

Seems the thieves, by posting on Craiglist about their product, still eventually used technology in a manner that led police to them and their garage full of stolen property.

It seems the only thing thieves and tech have in common is the letter T that begins each of those two words.


Targeting $10 million dollars in a proposed settlement

You might recall about 16 months ago, in and among what seemed like a steady string of data breaches at big companies, that Target was also targeted in a breach of their own.

Apparently hackers had managed to get software on Target’s point of sale terminals where customers swiped their credit cards to pay for purchases. That resulted in approximately 40 million credit card and debit cards being compromised and it impacted customers at nearly every one of their 1,800 US based stores.

The breach resulted in investigations by the Department of Justice, the Secret Service and Target even hired a tech forensics team of their own.

Of course lawsuits were filed and now a proposal has been forwarded by Target for consideration in a settlement that could cost upwards of $10 million. The money, possibly up to $10,000 per customer, would cover damages that resulted for the customer as a result of that breach.

Ultimately, this goes back to the first story in today’s Short Takes.

Just goes to show that security is expensive to implement and maintain but it is even more expensive if you have to close the barn doors after the cows, I mean data, have left.

And, finally...

It has been an unusually busy week of news and announcements from Microsoft. We have learned about minimum system requirements for Windows 10 on mobile devices and desktops, the integration of OneDrive into Xbox Music for your personal cloud storage, Project Milkyway and Microsoft's ambitious plan to get Windows 10 on mobile devices just 4-6 weeks after it is released and we also heard about the Lumia 430 - another budget handset from Microsoft.

Probably the most anticipated thing that happened in the last week was the release of a new build for the Windows Technical Preview Program, build 10041, which arrived exactly 54 days after build 9926 was released on 23 Jan. The Windows team is promising more regular builds now for Insiders who have signed up for the Fast Ring in the program and that is good since Microsoft also announced that they are targeting a summer release of Windows 10. In the Northern Hemisphere that could be anytime between 21 June and 23 September. Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.

The final item for the week has to do with the piracy of Windows. There was a brief point this past week where it looked like Microsoft planned to make anyone out there using non-genuine versions of Windows legal by giving them the Windows 10 upgrade for free.  After a couple days of this storyline it was clarified by Microsoft that pirates of Windows could upgrade to Windows 10 but they would still still be non-genuine users of Windows. See - it turns out that piracy still does not pay.

P.S. Shout out to our own Rod Trent who has been battling the flu the last several days and to his speedy and full recovery.

Until next week stay safe out there.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.