Saturday 22 June 2013

Who’s watching the watchers?

Discover India’s version of Prism and its implication on mass

Seems like - one of the best kept secrets by the USA has finally been revealed (hoping there is more to come - do I get arrested for saying this?). The secret National Security Agency (NSA) program called PRISM allows US government to eavesdrop on any user communication taking place over the internet. This crucial piece of information was allegedly leaked by Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee. The information can be sourced from your emails, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, Google searches, bank transfers; thus any electronic data shared is under surveillance.

Delving a little deeper into Prism - the programme has been running since 2007 and now it is generating raw material for NSA. Under the Bush administration lawyers got Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue surveillance orders for gathering data. The focus is to collect information on foreign communication traffic, that is, any overseas communication to another oversea location.

For more details click - How Prism may work?

Currently in US, in the South of Utah there is a 1,100,000 square feet facility being built to support the most expensive secret. The computers here can store data from as long as a decade. This project will cost approximately $2 billion and will cost $40 million a year to keep the servers cool. Mobile phones, social networking and cloud computing may have come as a boon to us but they definitely have a dark side which can no longer be ignored.
Shifting the focus to India – since this April we also have a system in place which is called Centralised Monitoring System (CMS); the full details to which remain unclear. This is a Prism-like project which allows our government to snoop around on phones, chats, emails, browsing history and mobiles. The funny part is that even our parliament did not get a chance to debate on it.

Union Communications Minister Milind Deora, recently said that it only intercepts phone and internet data lawfully and no telecom service provider permission is required for it. He wasn't of the view that this was invasion of privacy but a step to protect the individuals from private companies.

Google Transparency Report is an initiative from Google to maximize the transparency of the information which is related to their tools and services. In the second half, from July to December 2012, India has made 2,431 requests to Google for user data. You will be amazed to know that this is the highest number of requests in the world after USA.

The point to be raised here is complete absence of laws of privacy. Who takes care of individual liberty? These internet monitoring systems are very dicey due to lack of public accountability. Do country security issues or individual privacy not concern us? So the question is that if you do not have anything criminal to hide, what do you have to worry about?

According to Section 124A of Indian Penal Court, “whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years to which fine may be added.”

So the next time I utter anything that shows my feeling of dissatisfaction towards the government I can be sentenced to life imprisonment. Unless we find a way to communicate with each other just by thinking/minds alone I think we better watch out what we speak, write or comment on.

Friday 14 June 2013

Anticipation ends and suspense unfolds - Apple raises the curtain from iOS7 at WWDC

Tim Cook finally unveiled the latest upgrades made to Apple’s iOS at Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. Cook claimed it to be the biggest change that they have made to the operating system since 2007 and have called it iOS 7.

 With all the deep thoughts and exciting features that Apple has brought in, for some developers the upgrades have come as an anti-climax. The features seem to be a mix of Windows and Android.

However, I am celebrating the minimalist design and clean interface which has been delivered and has been delivered gorgeously.

The skeuomorphic designs, a long followed philosophy that emulate physical objects from real world, are history giving place to ‘flat’ designs. A new colour palette of bold and bright hues; a new depth has been given to the home screen with parallax, crisp typography.

A new, smarter and enhanced Safari browser experience – it has a much cleaner look and has 3D tabbed browsing with the pleasure of full screen view. Thus, easy browsing and I don’t have to worry about other open windows because they hide under the scroller.

A refined control centre – Apps are just a swipe away. You can swipe from any screen to go to wifi, blue tooth, airplane mode or even lock your screen. A welcomed change given that I use this feature multiple times in a day.

Auto-update is a feature that everyone is going to be thankful for. Saves me from downloading and installing updates for 43 apps; Phew! Apple phones will also multi-task with you now. This means you don’t have to wait forever to switch between recently used apps.

An improved notification system; you now have ‘Today’. You can get to know about everything for, well yea, today. Your mails, the still to do tasks on your To-do list, birthday, the weather report and so on.

A new look for the camera. You can make a quick switch between photo to pan to square camera or video. What’s more, the photo albums will get organized according to the time and place. So you can directly skip to images even a year old. You can obviously share them through AirDrop and iCloud; videos can be shared via iCloud. Excited!

Siri comes in a new avatar – new look and voice. You now get an option of male or female voice with language choices. Siri will show you search results from Twitter, Wikipedia and its new default search engine Bing. Use Siri along with other apps like iTunes and Maps in your car; having said that, the maps feature won’t be available till 2014. Furthermore, iTunes Radio features a streaming radio service; you can purchase songs from there.

The expected release for consumers is set for this fall. Even though this gives a window for many changes to take place at least now we are sure of some things that are to come. What we know is the overall look and feel and I surely can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Maintenance and Updating of Form 3C made easy for practicing doctors

We recently developed a Google App for medical practitioners who run their own clinics. Filing Form No. 3C is an Income tax department prerequisite for all doctors running their clinics. This includes practitioners of any system of medicine, i.e. surgeons, physicians, pathologists, radiologists, dentists, hakims and so on.

The Form No. 3C most times includes details like date, patient’s name, nature of professional services rendered, fees received, date and number of receipt. A tedious and mundane task but one which can’t be avoided. This app is a result of extensive research work and expert opinion from medical professionals. With a mission to reduce the unnecessary hassles of filing Form 3C, we developed a Doc3C Google app to aid hassle free record keeping.

Key Features:
1. Collaborative work can be done and updates can be made in real time.
2. No versions or duplicates of the original copy of Form 3C.
3. Limited access to Form 3C is possible (Only reading rights).
4. Easy sharing, commenting and reviewing.
5. Can be updated at anyplace anytime with internet availability.
6. No more exchanging of e-mails, pen-drives or cds.
7. Increased transparency among accountants and doctors.

A practical and easy to use app targeted to small clinics. It allows efficient data management without the need of passing data back and forth. Thus, no more misplaced or delayed reports. Your work is systematized and always updated.

Cybersurf India is a Google Enterprise Partner in Gujarat. As an official Google Apps Reseller we can help you recognize Google apps suite’s optimal benefits and usage.