Thursday, April 21, 2011

iPhones clandestinely track their users' locations

Apple devices appear to be tracking their owners' locations and storing data about people's whereabouts without their knowledge, according to a report posted Wednesday on a site called iPhone Tracker.

The illegal observation started in June 2010, when the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system was free, according to two researchers who say they discovered a hidden track folder and posted it out of concern for users.

Apple has not responded to the claims.

The researchers have posted a program online that will let any iPhone user see a map of his or her site over time, going back to June, when iOS 4.0 was released.

The program's developers, listed as Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden, say this data is stored on a person's iPhone or 3G-enabled iPad and on computers that are synced with those plans. There's no proof, they say, and that the data is also transmitting to Apple as it's collected.

"Cell phone providers collect similar data approximately inescapably as part of their operations, but it's kept behind their firewall. It usually requires a court order to gain access to it, whereas this is obtainable to anyone who can get their hands on your phone or computer," they write.

"By inertly classification your location without your consent, Apple have made it likely for anyone from a envious spouse to a private investigator to get a detailed picture of your movements."

The location data appear to be collected at chance intervals over time, using cell phone towers to triangulate approximate locations, they write.

They say these data are store in a file named "consolidated.db," and that it's "unclear" why Apple would collect this information.

"One guess might be that they have new features in mind that need a history of your location, but that's pure conjecture. The fact that it's moved across devices when you restore or migrate is evidence the data-gathering isn't accidental," they write on the iPhone Tracker site.

Some iPhone users expressed indignation at the news.

Sam Biddle, an editor at Gizmodo, used the downloadable program to map out his recent whereabouts, which he says was a frightening experience.

"This is a map of everywhere I've been for the last months. Everywhere," he writes on that tech site. "I didn't carry around a tracking device. The FBI isn't sending goons in unmarked vans to track me. All I did was use an iPhone."

He adds: "The data itself is jarringly accurate. Even though it appears to rely on tower triangulation rather than GPS pinpointing (meaning you're not safe with location services switched off), the map I was able to generate with mapping software the security duo released visualizes my life since the day I bought my iPhone 4 in July.

Everywhere I've been. Bus trips home. Train trips to visit family. Vacations. Places I'd forgotten I'd even gone. Zoom in on that giant blotch over New York, and you can see my travels, block by block.

"My entire personal and professional life -- documented by a phone I didn't know was also a tracking device.

It's all accessible -- where I've been, and when. I don't really have anything to hide, which is why I don't mind sharing the map. But it's just not right to have no choice in the matter; I don't want this information bouncing around in my pocket with me."

Others, including Forbes writer Kashmir Hill, wonder if this feature is "cool or creepy." She decides on "cool," writing that the program is "like a persistent, pervasive, secret location-diary."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Insurance Protection from All America Auto Transport

As is known to all, auto transport is a risky affair as any vehicle that is shipped is susceptible to dents, scratches and/or other forms of damage. The only assured way to protect the likely damages that occur to your vehicle during shipping is to go for auto transport insurance. Auto shipping insurance also protects your car from natural calamities as also the vagaries of the weather.

Insurance policies offered by various auto transport companies may be different.
It is essential that you ascertain from the auto shipping company  what types of damages will be covered if the vehicle is impaired during the shipping process. If you consider the coverage provided by the auto transport company to be inadequate, you can find out if it is possible to buy an additional coverage.

Further it is necessary for you to know which parts of the vehicle will be covered in case of an accident and more importantly, the insurance coverage offered by the auto transport company should also protect you against vehicle theft. One important factor that should weigh with you before choosing an auto transport company is the amount of insurance coverage that will be provided by them.

There are a few things that you must check to receive proper insurance coverage. Never hesitate to ask questions about the auto shipping company’s insurance policies. You should study the insurance policy documents of the auto shipping company and to satisfy about the genuineness of the documents, you can even crosscheck with the auto transport insurance provider.

Beware that some auto movers may provide only very restricted insurance coverage – at times, it will be even less than your vehicle’s actual market value. It has to be stated that there may be a few unscrupulous auto transport companies that may try all types of tricks to evade paying insurance claim. It is also important to personally verify whether the car transport company has a valid insurance certificate.

Please note if your auto shipping company avoids or deliberately delays settling your damage claim, you are at liberty to file a complaint with local Better Business Bureau. This apart, you can also report the matter to the Department of Transportation for speedy redress and as a last resort you can also approach the law courts. But it is prudent to first attempt to sort out your complaints with your auto shipping company and if you still feel that you are not getting justice, you can take recourse to other measures.

Quite often, the insurance coverage provided by the auto transport company may not be sufficient to cover the expense of the vehicle replacement. It is therefore preferable you contact the company's insurance agency and know firsthand the terms and conditions in the policy. When transporting luxury vehicles or any other unique types of vehicles, you must ensure that the insurance coverage includes the blue book value of the vehicle.

Most reputed and frontline auto transporters that are licensed and bonded like All America Auto Transport (AAAT) will ensure safe shipping and will carry proper insurance so that they can quickly reimburse your damage claims.  AAAT guarantees proper insurance coverage for vehicles and ensures that full coverage is provided in the event of damages to the vehicle during its custody.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Obamas income drops by two thirds but still a millionaire

WASHINGTON: The annual income of the US President Barack and his wife Michelle has dropped by more than two-thirds to $1.73 in 2010 as against $5.5 million in 2009, the White House has said.

Obama and the First Lady filed their income tax return jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $1,728,096, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a blog posting yesterday, the last day of filing the tax returns for the year 2010.

"The vast majority of the family's income is the proceeds from the sale of the President's books. The Obamas paid $4,53,770 in total federal tax," he said.

The family also reported donating $2,45,075 - or about 14.2% of their adjusted gross income - to 36 different charities. The largest reported gift to charity was a $1,31,075 contribution to the Fisher House Foundation.

Carney said that the President is donating the after-tax proceeds from his children's book to a Fisher House scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled soldiers.

The President and Michelle Obama also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $51,568 in state income taxes, the White House official said.

On the other hand, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden reported an adjusted gross income of $3,79,178. The Bidens paid $86,626 in total federal taxes for 2010. They contributed $5,350 to charity, in both monetary and in-kind donations, he added.