Oh, Kim Dotcom. You just never stop surprising us.
Just hours after Twitter finally rolled out its long-awaited Two-Factor authentication feature to protect accounts, the Megaupload founder is claiming to have invented the entire mechanism… and he’s got a patent to prove it.
“But they won’t even verify my Twitter account?!”, he says.
The patent in question can be viewed here. Filed for in 1998 and published two years later, it lists a Kim Schmitz — Dotcom’s name before he changed it in 2005 — as the sole assignee.
For the unfamiliar, two-factor authentication is a mechanism intended to make it more difficult for hackers to access accounts that aren’t their own. When a user attempts to log in to a service from an unrecognized computer, the service sends a one-time password to an alternative device (like, say, a cell phone) known to belong to that user. At least theoretically, hacking a user’s account would thus require access to that device in addition to their password.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and countless other monstrous sites all use two-factor authentication to protect user accounts, and Kim Dotcom’s tweets suggest that he hasn’t seen a cent from any of ‘em for the alleged “massive IP infringement.”
So, will he sue?
It seems he has at least considered it:
But he quickly switched to a different approach; instead of getting into a legal battle with a bunch of giants, Dotcom would prefer that Google, et al. continue to use “[his] patent for free,” in exchange for financial assistance in his ongoing legal battle:
Given the rather broken state of software patents, it’s not impossible to imagine that there’s at least one other person or company out there that can claim to have invented it, with patent in hand. This patent held by Dynapass Inc., for example, was approved in 2006 for “Use of personal communication devices for user authentication.” We’re searching for other instances of similar patents.
As strange as it may seem for those who only know him as the founder of a file uploading site that was raided by the FBI last year, it would actually make quite a bit of sense for Dotcom to have security-related patents. His first brush with notoriety came in 1994, when he was arrested in Germany at the tender age of 20 for hacking calling cards. Those who spend their lives looking for security holes are often the same who come up with the solutions.
Thank you, Newt Gingrich, for this YouTube gem; I think America needed a good laugh. Last week, the former Republican presidential front-runner and moon colony-enthusiast called upon the wisdom of the Internet to come up with a term for an Internet-connected phone, apparently not knowing that they are already called “smartphones”.
If we had told you that Newt Gingrich’s “multimedia production company” had made a YouTube video titled “We’re Really Puzzled”, it would have been too ridiculous to fabricate. We cannot make this up.
“You probably think it’s a cell phone,” said Gingrich. “But think about it, if it’s taking pictures, it’s not a cell phone…This device, is something new and different. I’ve been calling it a handheld computer.
It gets better: “So having failed for several days to come up with an adequate term for the device we call a “cell phone,” we want to open the discussion up to you. Let us know in the comments what you think we should name it, and we’ll feature the best ones in a future newsletter.”
The YouTube comments are priceless:
–”i reached out to laurent too. Issa is participating in Bloomberg’s march for immigration
–”Smartphone? How about smartphone. Oh hey, look, we already call it that.”
–”I suggest calling it a “horseless telephone.”
–”There’s a book on the shelf behind him titled “Social Marketing”. LOL”
Ironically, Gingrich made a rare bipartisan endorsement of the wonky open government book, Citizenville, from California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. “Every single conservative in this country should read it,” said Gingrich. Citizenville is arguably the most thorough account of government technology to date, and, most importantly, mentions “smartphones” 16 times. I agree, every conservative should read it.
I will leave readers with a more sober and thoughtful idea to mull over: these people want to run our government?!?!
My parents have yet to receive their Christmas gift. Because they are avid skiers, I bought them gift cards to Heavenly Mountain last December, and because of some issue with either the ZIP code or security code on my credit card, my charge keeps getting rejected. I have tried five different cards.
I have called AmEx. I’m about to call Chase since I just got a new card, and sit there and go through the transaction step by step with them to make sure there’s not some sort of security thing on my card’s side preventing the transaction from going through. I’m going to do that once I finish this post. Why won’t you let me give you my money, AmEx?
My mom did, however, receive her Mother’s Day gift yesterday, and the payment experience was exactly the opposite of the middle-class problem described above. That’s because I challenged myself to use Max Levchin’s new startup, Affirm, as a payment method.
Optimized for mobile, Affirm lets you pay without a credit card via phone in literally two taps (that’s their marketing pitch, in case that’s not obvious). It “loans” you the money with no fee, then gives you 30 days interest-free to pay it back. Affirm monetizes by charging a fee to merchants in return for guaranteeing payments through its social media-enabled risk assessment.
Right now the service is only available if you’re buying something from 1-800-Flowers, which is fitting. I don’t know about you, but lots of people are happy to pay $20 more for the convenience of not having to call a random florist by your mom’s house and pay by credit card over the phone during normal business hours.
Pro tip: You can always get cheaper flowers by calling a local florist, but I prefer to do my parent gift shopping at 1 a.m. on my cell phone in bed so …
“Given 1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s culture of innovation, we are always looking for innovative experiences to test and learn [!],” 1-800-Flowers head of VP of Mobile and Social Amit Shah told me on why they chose to be Affirm’s guinea pig during their high season. “This is an important focus for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM as we have been in the mobile space for more than five years — serving a rapidly increasing number of our customers who are using our mobile site and apps to send gifts every day.”
They’re on to me.
The real simple Affirm/1-800-Flowers integration lets you choose “Affirm Express Checkout” as one of the payment methods when buying your “Fields Of Europe ™ For Mom Large” and then asks you to log in with Facebook or Gmail to your Affirm account to complete the order. No credit card numbers, no security codes, no phone calls to customer service. Hallelujah.
Because it is born mobile, Affirm then texts you that you’ve completed your order, and you have about a month to log back in to Affirm to pay for your blossoms. I forgot about it after I did it, and about a week later Affirm emailed me to remind me that I hadn’t paid. So I did. Right then.
“It’s hard to build something really convenient,” Levchin told me in an interview about the startup, below. Though he wouldn’t confirm the rumors, we’re hearing that in addition to Levchin himself through HVF, a lot of the PayPal mafia (i.e. Levchin’s homies) went in on the company’s $3m-$5m seed round, namely Peter Thiel and David Sacks. Competitors include Signifyd and Klarna.
Now it sucks that Affirm wouldn’t let me use a promo code to buy my overpriced bouquet, especially since overeager Google Wallet desperately wants to pay me $10 just to try it, but overall Affirm was worth it. (Levchin says that the Promo Code feature is coming in a new release.) Other than that, I wish that all online checkouts were this painless — This kind of friction removal has the potential to greatly expand the e-commerce market, bridge online to offline payments and engender trust among users.
Are you there AmEx? It’s me, Alexia.
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the first handheld cellular telephone call. Motorola’s Martin Cooper made the first call to his rival over at Bell, presumably to gloat. The first commercially available cell phone weighed 2 pounds and cost almost $4,000.
We’ve come a long way in the size, weight, cost and capabilities of cell phones. Today’s cell phones have transformed our entire lives. RingCentral released a new survey that shows this quite clearly, by shedding light on mobile phone usage in the work place and the generational divide in phone behavior.
Some of the survey’s findings include:
- Sixty-three percent of people older than 40 still have a traditional home phone, while 69 percent under 40 use their mobile phone as their home phone.
- Seventy percent of people use mobile phones to communicate for work. Of those surveyed, 47 percent use their own personal mobile phone for work while 24 percent use a company issued mobile phone.
- Seventy-nine percent of adults use SMS messaging for business communications. Thirty-two percent say they’ve closed a deal with a text.
- Sixty-nine percent of people over 40 still use the phone book to look up numbers they don’t know.
And there are plenty more findings in the infographic below! Check it out:
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