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Another Mobile World Congress, but lets see Nokia and Microsoft first February 21, 2011

Posted by tcarlyle in Uncategorized.
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Wow, it has been a year since the last time I’ve posted. Maybe blogging is really not for me and I should throw the towel… It is not hat I have not had enough interesting things to post, as we just had our new keychain presented in the Mobile Congress this year. It is not also that I’ve been completely out of time, as time problems are in fact priority problems. The truth is that I have not given too much priority to the blog. I’m not sure if I will, but I want to write my stake on the Nokia + Microsoft deal (and probably write about the keychain after winter holidays).

But well, the most commented topic of last week has been the decision of Nokia to embrace Windows Phone as its operational system. There has been a few great analysis of the deal like one posted at visionmobile and the one of Tomi Ahonen. What all analysis have already said and which is clear to see is that Microsoft is the one who will get more from this alliance. No matter how much money they may have put in this agreement, now they will power the biggest handset manufacturer, and the one with the best relations towards the mobile operators.

But what about Nokia? The main reason why people have been negative towards Nokia’s future with this alliance is because it “got rid off” 2 operating systems and a great development toolkit. They are going to support Symbian during this migration phase and will launch a Meego device, but I do not think this will be enough to keep their current developer community (for the ones that have not migrated yet).  Whether this has been a good decision is a bit controversial…

Symbian and Ovi have been really lacking behind by far from iOS and Android, which contributed to the drastic drop of smartphone sales. Then, Meego is taking ages to mature and become the so promised alternative. On the other hand, Nokia positioned themselves and was investing hard on Meego, Symbian and Qt, and this was really true as I was receiving tons of job announcement from Nokia regarding R&D positions linked to Meego, Symbian and Qt (I’ve registered on their website about 2 years ago and I still keep receiving their emails). But, then, from one minute to the other, they completely change their mind… They may soon sack people that they have just hired.

Maemo was an amazing OS. I love my N810 and I really had hopes that Meego would be able to bring back that smartphone experience. Most analysts agreed that the best path for Nokia would have been a powerful Meego/Qt. This would require some serious investment and work on Meego/Qt, after all now they would be competing with Google, Apple and Microsoft on Operational Systems and Developing Platforms. Nokia seemed to was positioning into that, but apparently they have not been fast enough. They probably did not manage to convince investors of putting more money or time into it. Then, if they do not want to invest really hard on it, as it seems to be, the best alternative is really to drop it.

The reasons for going for Microsoft rather then Android have already been mentioned all around: fear of commoditization and becoming a hardware company, Stephen Elop, financial offer from Microsoft, lobby from operators and trying to get more power on american market. I do not think the first and last items are that relevant in this case because I do not believe that Nokia will be able to get much more software ownership with Microsoft (the only really valuable piece of software/service they will add is maps and navigation). Moreover, many analysts seem to agree that putting a “Windows inside” will not be a big differential in the US.  A “google inside” would probably make more impact.

So at the end, Nokia chose to take a risky path going with a new OS (Windows Phone), with limited developing community and with a company whose track in mobile has not been able to convince yet. I would think that they did that expecting to be backed by operators which are afraid from Android and IPhone. Besides that, there is some hope for Windows Phone. Their last OS has received a good number of positive reviews and they have the Xbox and Windows Live community which could make a difference (though it hasnt yet on the previous windows phones). By the fast peace of the mobile industry, soon we will find out how it turns.


n97 fails (a lot!) + apps December 13, 2009

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I am now an owner of a Nokia N97 for about four months and to be honest I’m quite disappointed, as many other N97 users. Since some weeks the touch screen is going from bad to unusable. A few weeks before the major firmware update (V20) the touch screen was already working poorly (sometimes Id touch and nothing would happen or other fewer times I was touching one point and it was selecting another).

Just after the firmware update it didn’t get much better, I was having the same problems besides the scrolling that would sometimes get into a loop or move the entries to out of the screen and make it impossible for me to select anything. I must admit that I have installed a bunch of applications and maybe thats one of the reasons for having a poor response from the phone.  But in the other hand, I never heard of any friend that owns an Iphone complaining about the phone after installing applications. I’ll soon try to make factory reset and install everything again, but I really do not want to do this every 3 months…

In what it comes to applications, I haven’t been amazed with the current options, but I guess it is because so far I’m not yet amazed with mobile apps in general (even the ones that some friends that have Iphone have shown me).  At the moment I have the following apps installed:

– Spotify for S60:  I’m a fan of spotify and I am very happy with their app (except when the N97 itself fails). It is very useful, nice gui. The guys really though about what the user would need of a spotify app.

– Nokia Maps: I wanted to use google maps instead, but I enjoy the compass functionality and the last version of Google Maps for S60 I’ve tried didnt integrate the compass. The nokia maps is quite decent, and it has been greatly improved after the last firmware upgrade. Now it can “correct” misspelled addresses which is extremely useful, moreover the walk to options now seem to be free for use (why did they want to charge for that). Still, the handshake for starting the compass is annoying and I’d prefer to synchronize my points of interest without needing an OVI account. Overall, a mapping application is extremely useful and it is between the top 3 I use most.

– Opera Mini: I have installed both opera mini, opera mobile and the regular nokia browser. Opera Mobile is indeed very powerful but I was often having problems of memory full (though it was the only app open) and I havent used it lately.  I have been mainly using Opera Mini which is very fast and very nice (thought selecting my emails in gmail can be quite challenging as the selection box is incredibly small and N97 touch screen is awful). Nokia’s browser doesnt seem bad, but Opera mini is faster, had a google search toolbar and has a nicer look and feel.

– Calendar and e-mail: As I use a lot google calendar and it is possible to synchronize google calendar with N97s calendar, it has been very useful for me. The e-mail with mail for exchange is not bad, but I noticed on moments I was online, that it was not synchronizing with e-mails I have received a few minutes before the synch. By the way, the whole process of installing the mail for exchange and configuring this synchronisms was not so straight forward, but this blog helped me quite a lot.

– Instant messaging: I have used installed and tried both Nimbuz and Fring, but to be honest I dont use that much instant messaging and I haven’t really seen if the applications are good enough.

– Facebook application: either I like or not, I’m a bit facebook addicted and hopefully N97 facebook application is really good. It provides a smart interface to check and reply incoming messages, friends request, wall and status updates.

– Twitter: I have the tweets60 tweeter client for the N97. I heard it is the best free twiter client for S60, but I dont like it that much (I guess thats the price you pay for not paying =D).  It is quite slow (even when my N97 was working ok) and I dont like so much the interface.

– Camera: The camera of the device itself is awesome. I’m really happy with the resolution and any effects the camera may apply or correct on the pictures. Moreover, it is quite nice that it allows you to geotag, directly upload to facebook, send by email, etc.

I havent had much interest in other applications I heard about but I’d like a rss feed reader that I can synchronize with google reader. It would be awesome if google could provide an app for that, as the one that the people from nokiapp.com website have done still needs a bunch of UI improvements for my personal taste.

Finally the thesis November 27, 2009

Posted by tcarlyle in identity management, Me, Sensors, SIM Cards, Thesis, trust, Uncategorized.
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After almost six months that I have delivered my thesis, I’m finally posting it here. It turned up to be a very extensive document (about 150 pages), but mainly because we first wanted to assess the capabilities of SIM cards, identities and finally trust frameworks. And as I was working together with the SIM Research Team at Telenor and I do have some experience with SIM from when I worked in Gemalto, we spent several pages on reviewing the SIM capabilities and trying to figure it out the future SIM.  We also touched an aspect that may start to become more present in the SIM cards which is the ability to sense context.

Other pages were spent in getting into the identity management world and this was one part of the thesis which in fact I wished I had more time to go through. I got very interested in going deeper in the field after finally understanding the identity frameworks such as Higgins, Cardspace and specially on the concepts in which they are based. At last we studied a bit about trust models and this was one of the most difficult parts of the thesis as none of us had much an idea of trust modeling and it is a topic that can get very complex if studied deeply.

After this long background, we finally chosen a new application that could be hosted in the state-of-art (or future) SIM cards, take advantage of the fact that the SIM represent one or more identities and that can be used to build trust. That application was what I have proposed in my paper mentioned in the previous post.

The idea is to use the future sim cards to sense each other (either through NFC,  location information and server interaction, wlan, etc), to sense the environment and based on that, attribute a situational trust value for that meeting between the 2 sim holders.  Then with a bunch of those situational trust value, you can infer the user relation. The more context information, the more you can infer.

Based on that idea, we made a small prototype using SunSpots representing those advanced SIM cards and with a simple trust inference model and a test scenario.  It  may sound a simple test and in fact it was, as the thesis focused a bit on bringing a new idea (which is extensively described) and the state-of-art research, having the prototype as a small proof-of-concept.

When I was reviweing the thesis for the paper presentation, I read in Bruce Schneier‘s blog about a paper from some researchers from the Santa Fe institute that used location information and phone calls information to infer the friendship closeness between the people involved in the experiment. The result was that they could predict the level of friendship with 95% accuracy! This pretty much confirm my thesis result =)

First day of Nordsec 09 October 15, 2009

Posted by tcarlyle in Biometrics, identity management, SIM Cards, trust, Uncategorized.
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I’m bloging directly from the Nordsec 09 conference here in Oslo. So far it has passed one day and a half and the programme has been quite interesting. There has been a more strong focus on identity and privacy, and, moreover more “high-level” presentations than the conference last year. As the conference programme has been quite extensive I must assume not having payed full attention to all presentations and specially the ones that didn’t have slides as supporting material. I’ll cover in this post just a bit of my impressions around the first day.

The first day was mainly about identity and privacy.  We started with a great presentation from Drummond Reed from the Information Card Foundation. He end up spending some of time explaining IdM as the concept was not familiar for the whole public, then he talked a bit on the challenges to using the open ID standards by the governments, in special in the USA. He also mentioned the issue of having a branding competition on the websites towards the several OpenID providers. It was pretty interesting to see that the US government is going for an exisiting open IdM standard and also to know that apparently a lot of the companies that seemed to be competing for IdM ownership seem to be cooperating more. At least, as far as I got there are several new players joining the OpenID (although it is not clear if they are just offering authentication tokens or if they are also accepting other OpenID tokens) and the Information card has become a common format shared between Cardspace, Higgins and other selectors.

There was a presentation about Identity Theft from the Ministry of Justice and the Police of Norway. The presentation was mainly on how biometrics could help to prevent Identity Theft. As the usage of biometrics in his speech was not characterized if it was for identification or authentication as I mentioned in a post in the blog, it generated a lot of questions around the dangers of impersonating someone using a copy of the biometric template which could be gathered through a fingerprint left in a glass for example. This generated some discussion around storage of the biometric template and issues around biometrics in unsupervisioned scenario which the speech could have maybe addressed and made itself even more interesting.

Later we had a presentation of Tor-Hjalmar Johannessen from Telenor presenting arguments towards having an e-ID centric model on the SIM with very logical arguments. He bases it in the massive presence of sim cards, its security, the fact that they already represent an excellent working case of IdM (roaming is single-sign-on), new enhacements to the SIM as a hardware and software platform and others. I had already seen other of this presentations on the topic and I’ve read a few of his papers for my Master Thesis. Therefore, it was not something completly new for me, but it already introduced the audience in the topic which will be good for my presentation on Friday =)

Other 2 presentation that specially called my attention were the one about “Privacy risks in Web 2.0” from Roar Thon from the Norwegian National Security Authority and the one about the future e-voting system in Norway. The first one was a bit more on the need of creating awareness around how much private information we are publishing and distributing. It was interesting to see tha the  Norwegian National Security Authority is interested in that and also on some numbers presented. In fact the presentation opened the point of the lack of attribution of social networks relations which is something Ill discuss in my presentation.

I think I’ve never stopped to think so much about the complexities around e-voting and the presentation from Christian Bull gave a great overview. There are issues on the fact that you are not over a supervisioned environment and this could lead to vote selling or coertion, or on making sure that every vote is counted but it is not possible to trace who voted in who, and there it goes. He presented a few neat features to counter some difficulties of the e-voting and the system sounds very promissing. It was also nice to see that they plan to make it open source so the system security can be assessed and they will submit it to common criteria evaluation (or a similar one, I dont quite remember).

I’m not sure if the presentations are going to be published in the conference website, but in case it will I write it here.

Blog and updates May 21, 2009

Posted by tcarlyle in Uncategorized.
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Sorry for not posting since so long and I must tell that I probably will not post till June. It is the final month to deliver the thesis and I’m working hard to finalize the report.

The nice thing is that I am planning to put the thesis here before I sumbit it. So if someone has patience and time to read so many pages about smart cards, trust and identity, I’ll be looking forward to hear your feedback. 


Well, talk to you later because I gotta hurry to write 😉

PayPal joins global Platform March 10, 2009

Posted by tcarlyle in Uncategorized.
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This does not correspond to this week’s post, but it is worth mentioning =) Even more, since I was writing about Global Platform last week.

Well, now PayPaly has joined the consortium! http://www.paymentsnews.com/2009/03/paypal-joins-globalplatform-to-help-develop-mobile-best-practices.html

I think that the paypall could be integrated in several smart cards (as sim cards as well) applications! It could enhance and provide some flexible and more loose e-purse functionality or even add some mechanisms to strengthen virtual auctions.

I’m looking forward for what will be coming next.