ExtraBITS for 7 April 2014
After a Macworld hiatus, ExtraBITS is back with a variety of must-see pieces from around the Web. Leading off is Dropbox, which explained its DMCA review policy after an Internet outcry. Make sure to keep your passcode on, since an iOS 7.1 vulnerability could leave your iPhone exposed. Lending new meaning to “The journey is the reward,” Uber launched a new UberXotic service that adds fun to boring taxi rides. Also, we have an interview with Nigerian email scammers, a quick eulogy to MacFixIt from site founder Ted Landau, and a report that Apple is in talks with Comcast to provide a streaming TV service via Apple TV.
Dropbox Explains Policy on DMCA Reviews — Many were outraged when Darrell Whitelaw tweeted a picture of Dropbox denying his ability to share a folder due to a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown request. Whitelaw later admitted that he was indeed trying to share a copyrighted video with a public link. Dropbox has explained to Ars Technica that it does not scan private documents, nor did it remove the file from Whitelaw’s account, but it does compare hashes of publicly shared files against the hashes of files that have already
been served a notice. The DMCA requires companies like Dropbox to take measures to ensure that copyrighted material is not shared after a takedown notice has been issued. Whitelaw himself told Ars, “They’re just following the laws laid out for them. Was just surprised to see it.”
iOS 7.1 Vulnerability Lets Bad Guys Disable Find My iPhone — Miguel Alvarado has found a glitch that lets users delete an iCloud account from an iOS 7.1 device without the Apple ID password. In this YouTube video, he demonstrates tapping the Delete Account button and the Find My iPhone switch simultaneously, then restarting the iPhone when the both prompts appear simultaneously. When the iPhone booted back up, he was free to remove the iCloud account, which disabled Find My iPhone. There’s some speculation that this may not affect all iPhone models; although we could replicate it on an iPhone 5s, we were unable
to do so on an iPhone 5. Nonetheless, we hope Apple releases a fix soon, and in the meantime, make sure to use a passcode.
Uber Launches UberXotic — Sometimes the journey is the reward. Uber, the app-based ride-sharing service, has announced a new option, UberXotic, that blurs the line between getting to your destination and arriving in style. Launched during Nashville Fashion Week (which goes through 5 April 2014) and in partnership with Music City Dream Cars, UberXotic gives customers the chance to ride in a Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Lamborghini, or Ferrari. Should you be in Nashville in time, you can even try UberXotic for free. The question is, will UberXotic become more widely available?
Behind the Scenes with Nigerian Email Scammers — Erika Eichelberger, writing for Mother Jones, visited a couple of email scammers in Nigeria. While they make a good living from digital grift, their incomes have declined in recent years as Americans have become more savvy. But, due to corruption in Nigeria’s government, don’t expect them to change careers any time soon.
RIP MacFixIt — MacFixIt, a site dedicated to troubleshooting news and information for Apple products since 1996, has been killed off by CNET. Ted Landau, who now writes for Macworld, sold MacFixIt to TechTracker in 2000, which was then acquired by CNET in 2007. The original site, www.macfixit.com, now redirects to the Computers section of CNET, though some of its original content can be found via Google searches.
Apple in Talks with Comcast for Streaming TV Deal — The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is in talks with Comcast to provide a streaming TV service. While it’s far from a done deal, Comcast would give Apple a sort of fast lane for content to prevent buffering and playback hiccups. Apple also wants control of customer information and a cut of Comcast’s monthly subscription fees, but Apple would have to acquire its own content deals. Comcast is reportedly interested in working with Apple to modernize its set-top boxes due to fear of “cord cutters,” a move Josh Centers
predicted in “The Future of Apple TV” (21 February 2014).