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Dear Internet of Things fans: Even teakettles are vulnerable

Got a teakettle, baby monitor, or home alarm? There’s an app for that – it’s called the Internet of Things. And it’s the easily hacked.

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internet of things

internet of things

The force is with you

In today’s technology culture, there’s an app for everything. The Apple iPhone comes with a whole host of apps upon immediate purchase, including iTunes, the iTunes Store, a text messaging app, a camera, alarm, stopwatch, calendar, Face Time, Google Maps, a weather app, and even a Health app that can monitor daily steps, flights climbed, and distance.

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It won’t surprise anyone that we can now control inanimate objects from an app on our smartphones. In fact, there’s a term for it! The Internet of Things is the network of objects that can be controlled remotely, since they are embedded with electronics, sensors, internet capabilities, and more.

Each device full of weak points

What will surprise people is just how vulnerable these items are to hackers. Research by HP Fortify found that objects controlled electronically have at least twenty-five qualities that make them susceptible to exploitation, per device! Among the long list of vulnerable items are refrigerators, baby monitors, smart locks, and home alarms. They make easy targets for hackers to steal Wi-Fi access, personal information, and control of your device.

Even when we just want to stay in and enjoy a nice cup of tea, our information is at risk. In London, a security agent proved that kettles are just one more place for hackers to get information. He mapped out a set of kettles across the city by looking for pots controlled by the iKettle app, then hacked each insecure system for WiFi passwords.

Internet of Things is easily hacked

The iKettle app allows users to start boiling water for their kettle just by touching a button on their smart phone. But the convenience gained by boiling water remotely might be outweighed by the vulnerable position of users. Pen Test Partners’ Ken Munro explains, “So I can sit outside of your place with a directional antenna, point it at your house, knock your kettle of access point, it connects to me, I send two commands and it discloses your wireless key in plain text.” Yikes!

iOS users less susceptible

When iKettle is configured with the Android app, users are particularly susceptible because passwords remain at the default setting. iOS app users are a bit safer—but it will still only take an hour or two to crack the six digit password.

#InternetOfThings

Hannah is currently a writer and student in Colorado Springs, pursuing her master's degree in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Before becoming a Staff Writer for the American Genius, Hannah wrote website content and grant applications for a law office in central Minnesota.

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How to build apps without knowing how to code (it’s actually common!)

(TECHNOLOGY) No-code app-building tools are becoming more available to the everyday user, which could lead to more inventive and original apps.

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no-code website

“Learn to code” is a common, frustrating refrain often hurled at job-seekers, entrepreneurs, creative professionals, and others. Depending on who’s saying it, the intent could range from well-meaning to willfully hurtful.

It does, in a way, make sense. Computer programming is the foundational language that modern life is built on. And while many people use technology that they don’t understand every day—from microwaves to cars—there’s something a little different about programming. It’s omnipresent for just about anyone, just about everywhere, whether they use it for work or not. And more people use it for work than ever. It’s the single most sought-after skill in the job market.

But “learn to code” isn’t practical for everyone. Not everyone with an app idea has the time to learn how to build an app from scratch, or the money to hire people to do it for them. That’s where the low-code/no-code movement comes in. It’s all about giving the people the tools they need to execute on an idea without having to learn an entire new skill set. When you bake a cake, you probably don’t grind wheat into flour, and when you build an app, you don’t have to start with Python.

No-code isn’t really a new idea.

The fact that computers have menus and icons is the result of early programmers realizing that non-programmers would have to use a computer sometimes. You could look to tools like RPG Maker that let people build their own video games back in 1992. RPG Maker was like a Lego kit for making a video game. And not only is it still going strong, it proved itself prophetic. It turns out that giving people tools and a sand box is a great way to enable creativity.

This has been the long arc of the Internet, too. There was a time when participating in the World Wide Web in a meaningful way meant learning to program. Places like Geocities gave you real estate to set up a website. But you had to build that site yourself. We’ve moved away from that as the Internet commodified. Sites like Facebook and Twitter remove customization in the name of uniformity.

But creative tools persist. Consider “WYSIWYG,” or “What You See Is What You Get” web editors. These are tools like WordPress that reclaimed some of that Internet customization. They give you assets to build a website, and you plug them in where you want.

It’s a middle ground between building from scratch, and having everything handed to you. It’s the sweet spot of accessible creativity. (If you’ve never heard anyone say “WYSIWYG,” that’s probably because these web development tools are so common that they don’t really need a special name anymore.)

Right now, one of the biggest areas of no-code design is in app development. These app dev tools are similar to building a WordPress site. They give you the raw materials, and you customize and assemble them however you want to. Adalo, a no-code platform for building apps, lets your bring assets and ideas to the table, and gives you a framework to organize those ideas into an app.

They aren’t alone. AppOnboard, a no-code software development suite, purchased Buildbox, a leading no-code game development platform. Their combined resources represent a stunning library of assets, full of potential.

What does this mean for coders? Probably not much. Specialized skills are still in high demand. But for the rest of us, a slow democratization of development is taking place, and it’s exciting to watch it take shape.

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Recall announced by Daily Harvest via aesthetic post, gets major backlash

(BUSINESS) Trendy meal delivery service, Daily Harvest, sticks to branding by announcing a serious food recall via Instagram, met with obvious backlash.

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Man looking up Daily Harvest recall on computer.

What NOT to do when things go south.

We can learn a lot from other businesses’ mistakes. Check out Daily Harvest, for example.

Daily Harvest is a trendy food home delivery service. They are under heavy backlash from their customers following a recall on their lentil and leek crumbles meal. Multiple customers have reported stomach issues after eating this meal.

Users across social media accounts such as Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram have complained about nausea, vomiting, and liver damage symptoms after consuming this dish. Several customers even reported hospitalization.

How did Daily Harvest react?

As entrepreneurs, we are all aware that things are going to go wrong from time to time. And as humans, we know that how we respond to these issues determines the future of our business.

Well, Daily Harvest’s social team didn’t get the memo as you’ll see by their response on social.

They issued a recall notice by using a vague aesthetic product image of the questionable lentil meal with a caption that read “UPDATE 6/19: An important message regarding our French Lentil + Leek Crumbles. Link in bio with details.” Daily Harvest’s inability to take control and react with clear communication to aid their customers shows us how NOT to handle an urgent situation. Their ambiguous caption provides no real information or help to their consumers and they have noticed.

They have since deleted the original post from Instagram, but we all know the internet never forgets. This is how they launched their product recall.

Daily Harvest Instagram Post

As of 10:58 – June 22, 2022 this is how the notice appears on the main page of their website:

Daily Harvest Main Page

Upon further examination, I can find hardly a mention of the recall other than the home page and the actual product listing itself. I did confirm that I was not able to purchase the product through their web-based system at this time. Maybe most of their traffic lands on the home page, but why not go ahead and put the banner at the top of every page until this gets resolved? Not to mention how it appears at the top of the home page. It’s barely noticeable.

Daily Harvest Best Sellers

If you click on the details, the notice on their website details the steps Daily Harvest claims to be taking to handle the sickness reports from the voluntary recall, to direct consumer communication, and the investigation with the FDA along with current results.

Daily Harvest Recall

What’s the takeaway?

Do better than Daily Harvest and you’ll already be a winner.

No, seriously you will!

But first, consider posting eye-catching imagery or text for your consumer. The text should be in the image posts themselves and in the captions. Pin it to the top of your social media accounts. Share it to stories. Make sure every page on your website has a banner and it’s noticeable. Over-communicate with your customers.

Do all of these and you’re already beating Daily Harvest.

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Make your current tech tools as useful as possible with these productivity hacks

(TECHNOLOGY) No downloading obscure apps to increase your production here. This site gives you productivity hacks to utilize the tools you already have.

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productivity hacks with productivity.so

If you find yourself searching for productivity hacks on the internet, chances are you’re already procrastinating. We’ve all been there and sometimes you do need to invest a little time upfront in order to save time long-term. The problem is that most “productivity hacks” recommend you download a new app or software which means you need to invest time in learning how to use it. All of this strays you further and further from your original goal of working more efficiently and saving time.

A new website called Productivity.so is designed to save you time by better utilizing the tools you’re already using. The websites founders are self-proclaimed productivity lovers who have devoted their own time to collecting a pool of productivity hacks for you iPhone, computer, Gmail, and more. No downloading obscure apps to increase your productivity here.

This website focuses on helping you make your current technology as useful as possible.

It’s a safe bet that there are dozens of ways you could be using your phone, computer, or tablet more efficiently. No one stops to read the instruction manual and even if you did it would only be so helpful because modern technology updates. Everything from your computer to your favorite social media app is constantly pushing out updates with new productivity hacks just waiting to be found.

It’s impossible to keep up on your own! Earlier today I realized you can switch between Twitter accounts by holding down the home button. I use this app every day, but I couldn’t tell you if this a new feature or if I just noticed it.

Productivity.so could be a great way to stay up to date on the latest UX tricks that will help you and your team speed up your workflow. The website currently hosts a small library of hacks that users can browse through. The next great breakthrough in your productivity could be waiting.

The website also offers a free weekly newsletter which promises to send you two new productivity hacks each week. These hacks will be simple tricks like switching between Gmail accounts by holding down your avatar. They’re easy enough that you can start implementing them into your daily routine right away.

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