Technological World for February 5: IowaReporterApp, Google Maps hack, bye-bye BlackBerry, Epson EF-100 amazes

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This week, how to hack Google Maps with a wagon, BlackBerry is a step closer to obsolescence, Epson’s new laser printer is a step up. But first, what exactly happened with the Iowa caucus?

Mobile app blamed for caucus results delay in Iowa

On the first day of voting in the Democratic primaries on Monday, results were delayed because of problems with a smartphone app that was developed to simplify and speed up the reporting of results.

The app, developed by a company called Shadow, didn’t work so well.

By Tuesday, Shadow claimed that a “coding issue” was the problem and that it was fixed.

But the damage had been done.

Gerard Niemira, CEO of Shadow, said he was disappointed with the glitch, which had to do with how the app sent data.

“The app was sound and good,” he told Bloomberg.

But by numerous accounts, the IowaReporterApp was poorly planned, designed, developed, and deployed.

Motherboard reported that the app had to be installed using one of two platforms used by developers to test software, which suggests the app was never cleared for release in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.

It wasn’t even being tested by users until mid-January, with less than three weeks until it would need to be used in the field.

The app, which was paid for by the Iowa Democratic Party, cost $60,000 USD according to the Huffington Post, which is paltry.

And today, a ProPublica investigation revealed that the app was so insecure that vote totals, passwords and other sensitive information could have been intercepted or even changed.

There was no evidence that anything was compromised, but a computer science professor from the University of Michigan told ProPublica that it was “total amateur hour”.

German artist creates traffic jams with a wagon full of smartphones

Simon Weckert has been hacking Berlin. The artist loaded up a red wagon with 99 smartphones and pulled it up and down the streets, creating traffic jams in Google Maps where none existed in real life.

The number of GPS reports of slow movement were interpreted by Google’s servers as slow-moving traffic, resulting in red lines in Google Maps when there were few actual cars on the road.

BlackBerry brand on the verge of fading away

TCL, a Chinese electronics company, has had the licensing rights to the BlackBerry brand since 2016 but those rights expire on August 31, 2020. On Twitter this week, the company announced they “will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices”.

Epson’s new laser projector built for streaming

I’ve talked about Epson’s projectors before, but the new EF-100 Mini-Laser streaming projector, available in white and silver and black and copper, is better than all those that came before.

It’s got an incredibly small footprint and a bright and crisp picture that can display an image up to 150 inches.

And the EF-100 also comes with an Android TV stick, which connects to Wi-fi to give you access to all your streaming services including Netflix, YouTube, and Crave. The HDMI attachment allows you to connect any other system, too, like a game console.

The device, priced at $1300, is very portable. In the time I had to play with it, we set it up in the kitchen, the backyard, the bathroom, and even took it with us on a long weekend ski trip.


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