Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

heartbleedWith all the talk about the NSA’s access to zero-day exploits, it may be time for a refresher on what happened with the Heartbleed vulnerability back in 2014. After all, this is the first time the public has turned its attention back to VEP’s since the fateful day that a major security flaw was discovered in the OpenSSL encryption software and the NSA allegedly had known about it beforehand.

The OpenSSl flaw created a backdoor through its encryption, a security service used by a majority of websites and a multitude of other pieces of internet infrastructure. While the NSA denied these claims, two anonymous sources came forward to Ars Tecnica and disclosed that the NSA had known about the bug for “at least two years.”
“When Edward Snowden warned that the NSA is ‘setting fire to the future of the internet,’ this is presumably the kind of thing he was talking about,” explained Jamell Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. “If this report is true, then the NSA is making hundreds of millions of people around the world more vulnerable to hacking and identity theft, and it’s compromising the trust that allows the internet to function. The NSA has lost sight of its mission, and it has lost sight of the values of the society it’s supposed to be protecting,” he continued.
heartbleed2NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines reputed any claims that the NSA was knowledgeable of the attacks, saying in an official statement that the “NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private-sector security report. Reports that say otherwise are wrong.”
In response to the Bloomberg story that published the revelations of the two anonymous sources, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Public Affairs Office issued a direct denial:
“Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are wrong… The Federal government relies on OpenSSL to protect the privacy of users of government websites and other online services. This Administration takes seriously its responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure an reliable internet. If the Federal government, including the intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to last week, it would have been disclosed to the community responsible for OpenSSL.”
heartbleed3The ODNI went on to explain that it would have been in the Federal government’s best interest to fix any such bug: “It is in the national interest to responsibly disclose the vulnerability rather than hold it for an investigative or intelligence purpose.”
Perhaps in this particular case, the Heartbleed bug really would have been too dangerous for the government to quietly exploit. That said, it’s difficult to understand exactly what the situation was since there’s little to no transparency when it comes to the NSA’s dealings. Perhaps now that it’s possible to hack the NSA, the general public will be able to learn more about what exactly the “No Such Agency” gets up to.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

Cyber security company Bastille recently reported a vulnerability in inexpensive wireless keyboards that allows for hackers to steal private data. According to the experts, the vulnerability lets nomadic hackers use a new attack that the firm has called “KeySniffer,”

keysnifferKeySniffer makes it possible for hackers to eavesdrop on anything a victim types; cyber criminals can capture every keystroke typed from up to 250 feet away. The stolen data is then rendered in clear text, making it possible for hackers to search through it for credit card information, bank account usernames and passwords, answers to security questions, network access passwords, and basically any data typed into a document or email.

“Almost all access credentials have value to hackers,” explained vice president of marketing at Gurucul Tome Clare. “Hijacked or compromised access credentials to the corporate cloud are the keys to the kingdom.”

Bastille’s Mark Newlin explained the dangerous sophistication of the new hacking method:

KeySniffer demonstrates that as many as two third of the lower-cost wireless keyboards currently on the market implement no encryption whatsoever, leaving them vulnerable to passive keystroke sniffing and injection.”
keysniffThe keyboards in question are made by major companies including HP, Toshiba, Kensington, Insignia, Radio Shack, Anker, General Electric and EagleTec.

It may seem unlikely for hackers to be able to detect the presence of one of the cheap keyboards, especially if the keyboards have to be within 250 feet of the hacker. However, the vulnerable keyboards are easily located through the detection of the USB dongles that they use; these dongles transmit synchronization packets that make it possible for the keyboard to find them regardless of whether the keyboards are in use. If the dongle is plugged into the computer, the hacker can detect that the keyboard is within range.

Once a hacker has connected to the keyboard, he or she can not only steal data but also inject keystrokes or type remotely onto a vulnerable keyboard, potentially installing malware directly onto the device or stealing data.

keyWhile there has been a recent rise in these incidents, this method of hacking is by no means new. Wireless keyboard sniffing has been around since 2009, when researchers at Remote Exploit developed KeyKeriki and open sourced the project that allowed for users to decode Microsoft wireless keyboards.

Just two years ago, hacker Samy Kamkar developed KeySweeper, a proof-of concept hardware/software keystroke logger disguised as a USB wall charger that could attack any nearby Microsoft wireless keyboard.

Since keyboard sniffing has become a thing, the FBI has issued a warning about the devices that no one paid any attention to.

According to Newlin, high-end keyboards aren’t vulnerable to these hacking techniques because they “frequently use transceivers from Nordic Semiconductor which have built-in support for 128-bit AES encryption,” he explained. “Whether or not the encryption is used is up to each vendor, but in general [it is].”

Bluetooth keyboards aren’t susceptible either, as Bluetooth encrypts all data trnasmitted over the air.

“If security is a concern, make sure the keyboard you buy uses an encrypted connection,” explained Michael Jude, program manager at Stratecast.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

A storm is brewing that looks to fundamentally change the way we interact with society and the way we set ourselves up for whatever is next. For many years we have felt the obligation or pull to be intimately centered in a singular location and have access to the same means of information and tech in an attempt to make our lives more easily lived and closer to fray of existence and the support networks we surround ourselves with. Today that is all changing and the idea of work and home are becoming more fundamentally changed in 2016 than at any other period in human history. From the tiny home movement, or the nomadic movement, down to the very concept of working virtually, people have the freedom in their hands like never before to explore their world and still be able to live a happy and peaceful existence with a steady income and relative level of consistency. Not to mention the support of your friends and family are always only a single Skype or call away. Because of this or as a result of this people are developing some very interesting apps and mobile and wireless integrations that are really making this a lot easier to do. There is a common line of reasoning that concludes with the notion that if you are a proportionate and user of daily tech then it will result in your life being less free, not more. No doubt this can be the case, but it does not necisarily have to follow. When we look at our relationship to tech and the way we use it, we see that it is like any other tool. It all depends on the weight and attention we give to it, and the need we have to utilize it. Here isshway youresjustgay a look at some of the apps that have a big buzz around them and are changing the game of free living. First up is one called If this then that or (IFTTT) This is a super convenient app and will totally free up a lot of time you use and ultimately save you from the effort of using “recipes” to connect to different apps and various servers. It all works with more than 300 apps so the system is robust to say the least. The beauty is its simplicity to set up. All you need to do is define “if this, then that” mechanism to make a recipe. For example we can save your insta photos to dropbox, and have your Android phone automatically muted when you arrive at work, get notifications from ESPN with your favorite teams and scores, and thus automatically Tweet your Facebook status updates and much, much more. Another one that is having a lot of buzz around it is the app called Dark Sky. It takes the local weather and plays a pretty significant role in our daily lives as a result of its ability to coordinate various data points from our lives. This is one that has a lot of upside potential moving forward.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

ai2Google is currently expanding its efforts to develop artificial intelligence using a new European research center that is dedicated to advancing computing technology.

The research center is based in Zurich and the team associated with advancing AI initiatives will be focusing on three major arenas: machine learning, natural language understanding and general computer perception. According to Emmanuel Mogenet, who has been assigned to be the head of the unit, said that the research will be focused on teaching machines “common sense.”

According to Mogenet, there will be “no limit” on how big the team becomes.

“We are very ambitious in terms of growth,” Mogenet continued. “The only limiting factor will be talent.”

Machine learning has been called the “secret sauce” in Google products, allowing the tech mogul to excel in services involving internet searches, spam filters, translation and content removal. Newer products engineered with machine learning include virtual helper Google Assistant messaging app Allo and even self-driving cars.

“We are on the brink of a brand new era of computing,” Mogenet announced to a group of journalists. The key focus will set “common sense” as its target.

google android“A four-year-old child learns about the world through their senses so they know that cows don’t fly without being told this. Computers need to understand some obvious things about the world so we want to build a common-sense database.”

A second key focus will include improving human/machine dialogue:

“Google has always been in the business of natural language because that is how people search but we have never really understood the question. We have just matched keywords with content and rank that content smartly,” Mogonet stated.

“The next stage is to truly understand what people are asking,” he continued. That means researchers will have to try to figure out “how machines learn and why deep learning works so well.”

Deep learning is such a new technology that its extreme success remains somewhat of a mystery even to its creators. The learning process involves the integration of enormous amounts of data that are themselves mind-boggling, and the processes by which computers make their own perceptual categories remain obscure.

ai3Google is known best for its AI team DeepMind. DeepMind is based in London and has a larger intention to “solve intelligence.” The DeepMind project recently attracted controversy when it recently came up that DeepMind had received the healthcare data of millions of patients as part of a partnership with the NHS to develop an alert system for kidney disease. The patients were apparently unaware that their information was going to be given to DeepMind and disconcerted by the revelation of their medical history.

DeepMind research scientist Thore Graepel attended the Zurich event and gave an update on its other high-profile project, one in which a computer program made to play the ancient Chinese game of Go (called AlphaGo) beat the world’s best human Go player, ultimately winning four out of five games.

Go players around the world have been biting at the bit to try their hands against the new AlphaGo program ever since it beat the world champion.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

disc comp bWhen it comes to technology, planned obsolescence has been the name of the game for over a decade. Cell phones, laptops, desktop computers and even wearable processors like Fitbits are not meant to last forever; they’re meant to hit the market in pre-planned iterations. When a new version of a particular model comes out, it’s normal for manufacturers to have engineered them with the sales for future versions in mind; that means it’s good if that version breaks in time for a new sales quarter.

So where does discarded technology go after it’s disposed of? What is it about electronic waste that makes it so important to sort it and keep it from normal landfills? What is done to adjust for the disposal needs specific to electronics? Read on to find out.

The major disposal issue that old electronics present is rooted in the elements of which they are created. A typical personal computer (which contains many circuit boards) may contain up to eight pounds of lead, along with lower but significant levels of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, and other toxic materials. Electronics also tend to use some member of a common but poisonous family of flame-retardant chemicals. All these materials are all toxic at varying exposure levels (though there is no safe level at which a person can be exposed to lead). They can cause major health problems, and in some cases death, in the event of a severe enough exposure.

disc comp1If all of these materials were to collect in a landfill, it’s not hard to understand how damage to human health could ensue. Unfortunately, no imagining is truly necessary; studies have found that in America, e-waste accounts for anywhere up to four percent of the total trash. That’s an extremely significant number, especially because e-waste is so heavy in lead. Given that four percent trash rate, e-waste becomes responsible for forty percent of the lead found in landfills. It accounts for whopping seventy percent of the other heavy and poisonous metals in landfills.

Luckily, most landfills are purposefully placed in locations where the soil and water contamination of the surrounding area can be contained and kept away from crops and water used by communities. Still, just the presence of that much hazardous waste on the surface of the ground can create problems.

This all seems to be a rather strong argument for the proper disposal of e-waste at locations meant to handle such strong and poisonous materials. Unfortunately, the sad fact remains that many so-called recycling centers in the United States and abroad are more of collection points than entities that have the intention of properly disposing of hazardous chemicals. E-waste is often sold to scrap brokers, who then ship the cargo to developing nations for deconstruction.

disc compDeconstruction entails the extremely chemically dangerous process of laborers smashing devices and harvesting them for their core components. Often the process by which the devices are opened causes toxic chemicals to be released in large amounts.

Luckily, many computer manufacturers are starting to make computers with fewer hazardous materials in them in the first place. However, this will not be enough to alleviate the problems caused by non-properly-disposed e-waste; major legislative change on a global level will have to happen.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

location trackingTracking technology has become a must-have for travelers, commuters, and car-users in general. Where would we be without GPS? Probably still looking for what one drive-in movie theater  in Encino that everyone’s been talking about.

So how does location tracking work? The first distinction worth making is that between Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). GIS is more for large-scale location-tracking systems; these necessitate that geographic information be captured and stored. Accordingly, GIS can capture, store, analyze, and report geographic information.

GPS, on the other hands, operates by combining the information detected by 27 Earth-Orbiting satellites (24 of which operate act one time and three of which act as failsafes). A GPS receiver like the one in most mobile devices can detect how far it is from each of these satellites and deduce the device’s location accordingly, through a process called trilateration. Trilateration requires that a clear line of sight be reachable to four or more satellites at once.

There’s also Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which is comprised of small microchips that can be attached to consumer goods, cattle, vehicles and other potentially moving objects to track their movements. RFID tags can only transmit data if prompted by a reader, which transmits radio waves that activate the tag, which then transmits information on a particular frequency.

Finally, there’s Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN tracking, which uses a network of devices connected through radio frequencies. As these devices pass over ready waves, they provide users with a network that ranges from 70 to 300 feet.

satellitesMany tracking of location-based service systems use one or a combination of all of these different types of technology. GPS is used by equipping all relevant vehicles with a GPS receiver; as a vehicle crosses a mass of land, the GPS satellites can track its position. GPS also allows for an operator to request positioning information at any time. Unfortunately, when it comes to trying to find something within a smaller space and especially indoors, GPS hits a wall.

For more local-area and indoor tracking, the best choices are the RFID and WLAN options. The smallest of the small tracking areas likely warrant an RFID while WLAN takes up the middle ground. For example, to track a child in an amusement parks, some parks are offering parents the option of outfitting the child with a wristband that holds the RFID tag. Then park staff can help a worried parent locate his or her child.

Another excellent use of location tracking is when an emergency occurs and someone calls 911. The government has developed technologies which are expected to enhance the ability of E-911 to locate callers, even if they’re not calling from a landline. This has been mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, so we likely can expect the service to improve rapidly within the next few years. It will begin with a few other phases, but eventually there will be a phase that forces carriers to place GPS receivers in phones in order to deliver more specific latitude and longitude location information to law enforcement in the event of an emergency call.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

Free Firewall Clipart Illustrations at http://free.ClipartOf.com/

Most people have heard of firewalls and understand that cybersecurity is a real issue in our digital era. However, few truly understand what protection a firewall offers and how it manages to do so. If you’e ever wondered exactly what a firewall does and how, this article is for you.

A firewall can come in the form of hardware or software. Either way, it filters the information that enters your device through your device’s internet connection. If any of that incoming packet of information is flagged by your firewall filter, it’s not allowed through to your device.

This service is instrumentally important to both private and public users. Especially in corporate settings, identifying and blocking packets of information that might allow crackers (malevolent hackers) to probe company devices is integral to the safety and credibility of any business.

That’s why companies tend to install firewalls at every node through which the internet is accessed. This firewall can implement security rules such as limiting the amount of devices that can receive public FTP traffic or controlling how employees connect to Web sites and whether or not they can upload information onto the internet.

Firewalls tend to perform three basic services: packet filtering, proxy service, and stageful inspection. Packet filtering involves analyzing packets of information against a set of filters. Anything that doesn’t make it is discarded. The proxy service feature allows the firewall to retrieve information from the internet and then send it to the requesting service and vice cress. Finally, stageful inspection refers to the process of comparing certain key parts of information packets to a database of trusted information. If the information coming out or in resembles what’s normally sent out and in, it’s allowed. If the information is very abnormal, it’s discarded.

computer-firewall-23219089Firewalls can also be customized to the users’ liking. Firewalls can be programmed to recognize IP addresses and keep foreign readers at bay. Firewalls can also be programmed to make sure particular domains are totally unaccessible. It can be set to follow certain protocols such as Internet Protocol, Transmission Control Protocol, Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and whichever ones a private or public user deems useful for its particular firewall needs.

Firewalls are also used for censorship, so parents worried about what content may come up in their children’s searches can sleep easier at night. Firewalls can be set up to catch particular text inputs like “x-rated” or “x rated” and make sure any information from those servers don’t end up on the display of young users’ devices.

Firewalls have become so prevalent that many operating systems come with their own firewall built in. Software firewalls can also be installed on your computer so long as you have an Internet connection. That computer can be considered a gateway since it provides the only point of access between your home network and the Internet, so keep that in mind.

If you opt into a hardware firewall, you’ll find that the firewall unit itself is generally called the gateway. Routers often have firewalls built in, for example.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

build your own computerYou may have heard of the latest trend among the tech savvy; it’s become common for people to build their own computers at home.

Obviously they’re not creating microprocessors in their garages, but they are figuring out exactly what kind of each component best suits their particular computing needs and then ordering and assembling them accordingly.

Why? Because when done properly, this allows users to assemble custom-made machines at a lower price, plus it’s a fun learning exercise and experiment for curious DIY enthusiasts.

If you’re interested and want to know more about the process of building your own computer, read on:

The first step in the process is identifying what kind of computer you want to build. Is the computer going to be used by your children for educational games and some internet browsing? In that case, you can save a lot of money by only purchasing the least powerful computing components; you really don’t need much to satisfy a 6 year old. On the other hand, if you’re interested in a machine with the processing power to support your high-end gaming hobby or you need a machine with a huge amount of disk space for your video editing business, you may see fit to splurge on more heavy-duty components.

Ok so let’s start with the motherboard. Motherboards have one of the most diverse ranges of potential of all electrical components.

Cheap motherboards are generally only cost around $50. More mediocre ones may range from $50-100. High-end ones for powerful gaming, computing, and video editing generally cost between $100 and $200. There are, of course, always extreme options that will cost even more because of their extra memory slots, special cooling features, or multiple CPU sockets.

Also worth considering: Are you an Intel or AMD person? What size of a motherboard do you want (i.e. how big of a computer were you planning on?). How many USB ports are you going to need? Do you want FireWire, a PCI Express graphics card, an HDMI port, or a TV tuner?

cheap motherboardAfter you’ve looked deep inside yourself and found the motherboard you need, you’ve opened the door to choosing the rest of your components (which generally need to be the right brand and pin configuration to fit your motherboard).  That means it’s time to start thinking about the right CPU for you and considering what kind of clock-speed you can afford. Clock speed refers to the amount of instructions that a CPU can execute in a second. That means a faster clock speed is great for high-processing functions like gaming but not as necessary for a computer generally used for Microsoft Word and mild internet browsing.

You’ll also want to look for the RAM that corresponds with your motherboard. If you opted into a motherboard that uses specialty RAM, make sure the additional RAM you purchase matches these requirements.

Then you have to choose a video card, an optical drive, and one or more hard disk drives for memory. Your motherboard will help you determine what options remain available to you in this regard; you might need a SATA 3.0GB/s or SATA 6GB/s.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

You probably have heard of software, hardware, and firmware. I may even wager that you know the difference if you’re asking this question. But can you really understand the different ways these aspects of the computer function without understanding how they interact? I don’t know how you can know anything. But here’s some more stuff to know:

hardware softwareWhen you turn your computer on, the CPU (central processing unit) immediately starts executing software instructions from your BIOS (basic input/output system), which is a special chip on your main board. This program will then request more instructions from a specific hard drive, and your operating system will start to execute.

But how does this explain how the hardware and software physically do their jobs? I’m not sure it will, but think about how a mechanical music box works. Music boxes make particular melodies because they have patterns inscribed on them; patterns of nails, for example, which when a cylinder holding the nails rotates, will strike a keyboard in a particular sequence. If you were to use a music box as an analogy for a computer (which I’m doing), you would say that the particular pattern of nails on the music box is equivalent to the software on the computer, while the nails themselves, along with every other physical component of the box, fall under the category of hardware.

So back to your CPU: It has, like every other CPU, a particular manual describing which patterns of bits (analogically synonymous with the music box’s nails) do what. Bit, by the way, is short for binary digit. The first part of any pattern of bits is going to be the instruction, which selects which part of the CPUs circuits to open; it has a circuit for addition, a circuit for storing to memory or reading from it, etc. The second part of the bit pattern is the operand(s), which is the data that gets passed along to the circuit that is currently selected. It could be a number, a memory address, a register name, whatever.

hardware software broLet’s go back again in case that’s confusing: software is basically just a series of 0’s and 1’s. The operating system of the computer(that’s the software) is what reads the software code (which exists physically on the hardware) and translates it into binary. Software code, as it exists physically, is just a series of either magnetized or demagnetized pieces of metal (as in a hard-disk drive) or a series of transistors which either are switched on (meaning they possess electrical current) or switched off (meaning they don’t). The pieces of metal and transistors are tiny; they exist only on a microscopic level.

While software can change other software on versatile memory devices, “firmware” is software written on devices that are not versatile, like read-only memory (ROM). Firmware is the foundation for your device’s operating system and all other software, so it’s the most basic software on your device and it usually cannot be manipulated.

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Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

What Happened with Heartbleed?

Posted in laptop, Tech news  by Carol
August 24th, 2016

internet of things

“The Internet of Things” (IoT) joined the rank of tech buzz phrases when Kevin Ashton (cofounder of MIT’s Auto ID Center) first mentioned it in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble in 1999. One decade later, the forward-thinker continues to elaborate on the concept in an article he wrote for the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Journal:

“Today’s computers- and, therefore, the internet- are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings- by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture of scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet include servers and routers and so on, but they leave out the most numerous and important routers of all: people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy- all of which mean they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world.”

“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things- using data they gathered without any help from us- we could be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost,” he continued. “We need to empower computers with their own means of gathering information, so they can see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory. RFID and sensor technology enable computers to observe, identify, and understand the world- without the limitations of human-entered data.”

051413_Force_popUpBanner_grey_o

Let’s back up for a second. For the record, a “thing” in the Internet of Things, can be a person, an animal, a vehicle, or anything else man-made or otherwise that has been assigned an IP address (a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network) and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network.

For example, take the latest health-craze product known as the Fitbit. The Fitbit is, among other things, a pedometer that tracks the amount of steps taken by the wearer in a day. That information is then immediately sent to the user’s Fitbit account, so the user can track the changes of his or her daily movement. The Fitbit therefore occupies a space in the Internet of Things as it constantly transfers data, over a network, to be accessed by other devices.

Ashton believes that products like the Fitbit scrape only the tip of the Internet of Things iceberg: “It’s not just a ‘bar code on steroids’ or a way to speed up toll roads, and we must never allow our vision to shrink to that scale. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”

That said, the Internet of Things has already come a long way from its humble beginnings; the first ever internet appliance was a lowly Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University. Its programmers manufactured it in the 1980’s with the intention of always knowing if it was stocked before they got up from their desks.

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