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ExtraBITS for 19 August 2013

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Our own Jeff Carlson appeared on the Mac Power Users podcast to discuss iPad photography. Malware appeared in the App Store, courtesy of researchers at Georgia Tech who discovered flaws in Apple’s review process. Billionaire Carl Icahn sees no significant flaws in Apple, and he’s betting big on the company’s stock. Josef Albers’s classic book, “Interaction of Color,” has been reimagined as an interactive iPad app. Twitter has reimagined its two-factor authentication system, and Dropbox is offering an extra gigabyte of storage for installing their recently acquired Mailbox app. Finally, we get the inside scoop on the film “Jobs” from early Apple employees, learn about devices powered by radio waves, and hear why the privacy controversy surrounding Gmail is bunk.

Jeff Carlson Talks iPad Photography on Mac Power Users Podcast -- TidBITS Senior Editor and photography expert Jeff Carlson joined David Sparks and Katie Floyd on the Mac Power Users podcast to talk about his latest book, “The iPad for Photographers.” The trio discusses the best iPad companion apps for photographers, editing and managing your photos, and (gasp!) even how to take photos with your iPad.

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Georgia Tech Researchers Sneak Malware into the App Store -- Researchers from Georgia Tech have discovered an alarming iOS security hole, and even managed to sneak malware past Apple’s App Store review process. Called Jekyll, in a nod to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, the malware was disguised as a Georgia Tech news app. Once installed, it could post tweets, send messages, take photos, retrieve personal information, and even direct Safari to install more malware. The researchers could also control the app remotely, adding more commands and capabilities. It even phoned home, revealing that Apple spent only a few seconds reviewing the app before approval. After testing the app briefly on their own devices, the researchers pulled it from the App Store.

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Icahn Bets Big on Apple -- Billionaire investor Carl Icahn sent Apple’s stock price soaring after tweeting to his 59,000 followers on 13 August 2013 that he has purchased a “large” stake in the company. (Imagine what Warren Buffet could do, given that he has 570,000 followers, despite having tweeted only three times!) Since the announcement, the stock has risen over 12 percent. Over the past year, Apple’s stock price had dropped by nearly half. While Apple investors are relishing the surge, it remains to be seen what effect the outspoken Icahn will have on the company.

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“Interaction of Color” Reimagined as Interactive iPad App -- Josef Albers’s iconic book, “Interaction of Color,” has been given a modern makeover as an iPad app to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first publication. This absorbing and educational work — referred to as a “landmark in the field of color philosophy” by the director of Yale University Press — comes to life on iPad, with previously impossible interactions adding a new dimension. Be sure to watch the promotional video for a glimpse into the thinking applied to both the original book and this new app.

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Examining Twitter’s Innovative New Two-Factor Authentication -- Over at Wired, Mat Honan details the challenges Twitter security engineers faced in designing a new two-factor authentication system that is both more secure than any existing solution and easier for users to understand. It’s a fascinating read, and gives great insight into how much thought goes into maintaining the security of the Internet-based services we use every day.

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Get 1 GB of Dropbox Space for Installing Mailbox -- Dropbox has added another way to increase the size of your Dropbox account for free. In an effort to promote the company’s recently acquired Mailbox app for iOS, Dropbox is awarding 1 GB of free space to everyone who installs Mailbox and links it to Dropbox. Mailbox currently supports only Gmail, though support for other platforms is promised.

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Early Apple Employees Discuss “Jobs” -- Over at Slashdot, Vijith Assar interviews early Apple employees Daniel Kottke and Bill Fernandez about the new feature film “Jobs.” It’s a fascinating conversation, with the two of them sharing memories of what the earliest days of Apple were really like, and how the movie’s portrayal of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and various events in the company’s history spans the gamut between eerily accurate and completely fictitious.

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Researchers Demo Devices Powered by TV Signals -- According to this MIT Technology Review article, researchers at the University of Washington have developed prototype devices that communicate using just ambient radio waves — no batteries needed. The devices achieve this trick by varying how much they reflect and absorb radio waves, and scavenge power from those same radio waves. Bandwidth is low — only about 1 kilobit per second — and range is currently less than 1 meter, though that can reportedly be extended to about 6 meters easily. By eliminating batteries, such devices can become significantly smaller and cheaper, and could appear in a wide variety of scenarios, from contactless payments to warehouse item tracking, plus the killer app of locating your glasses and keys.

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Gmail Privacy Hullabaloo Overblown -- Over at The Verge, Nilay Patel does a nice job of debunking the recent controversy over whether Gmail users can have an expectation of privacy. Fueled by the revelations of governmental spying programs, media sites smell blood, but have largely misinterpreted a statement in Google’s motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit alleging that Gmail violates wiretapping laws. As Patel says — and goes on to show — “there’s just nothing here.”

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