It’s less than 3 weeks since Unit 42 from Palo Alto published the IOS XCodeGhost malware that has infected 39 apps in Apple App Store. And they’re at it again! This time Unit 42 published findings on the malware YiSpecter, which uses many attack vectors with the key differentiator being Enterprise certificates & Private API to implement the hack.
This level of sophisticated is usually associated with Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)rather than a simple infection but since Apple Store has very strict checks, I guess they have to go to this level of sophistication in order to infect non-jailbroken devices.
Now I’m not saying that this malware company (YingMob Interaction) is really good, but they did “go the extra mile” to ensure a successful widespread infection by borrowing APT techniques published over the past 5 years.
In summary, YiSpecter mainly targets iPhone & iPad users in China & Taiwan, so maybe the hackers only target Simplified Chinese language users. The infection starts from infected websites, Windows-based IM platform like Tencent’s QQ Chat and forums where malicious HTML files are posted & displayed on the target IOS screen.
On IOS 8 devices, if the user click on dialog box to allow downloading the app, it is automatically installed because it contain a stolen but valid Enterprise certificate. On IOS 9, you have to switch on the permission to install Enterprise app, so new users are protected. However, if you’ve upgraded from IOS 8, it’s likely you’re still infected because YiSpecter is self-preserving, can spread the infection as part of a Botnet and is hidden from the user.
I wouldn’t go into the mechanism of the infection because it’s too technical for average users. You can find the link to the original Palo Alto notice at the end of the article.
To Clean the infection, you have to do the below:
In iOS, go to Settings -> General -> Profiles to remove all unknown or untrusted profiles;
If there’s any installed apps named “情涩播放器”, “快播私密版” or “快播0”, delete them;
Use any third-party iOS management tool (e.g., iFunBox, though note that Apple’s iTunes doesn’t work in this step) on Windows or Mac OS X, to connect with your iPhone or iPad;
In the management tool, check all installed iOS apps; if there’re some apps have name like Phone, Weather, Game Center, Passbook, Notes, or Cydia, delete them. (Note that this step won’t affect original system apps but just delete faked malware.)
Unit 42 finds that malware XcodeGhost infects 39 iOS apps, including WeChat, affecting hundreds of millions of users.
Update your software now as many of the affected developers have updated their official Apple Xcode IDE, which is NOT affected, and republished their apps. If you can’t update the app, it’s better to temporarily uninstall it.
Also make sure to change your app passwords and AppleID password as it’s likely being phished by hackers.
HFMD, all parents dread these 4 letters & with good reason. It’s the chicken-pox of the 2010s, where your child cannot go to childcare or school and there’s no cure and no vaccine.
In Singapore, MOH has declared it endemic and there’s a good chance it’ll infect your kids like it happened to my (then) 4yo daughter.
As an insurance professional, I’ve handled many HFMD claims for StarShield babies so far this year (2015) and heard many horror stories regarding the pain & suffering of their toddlers and themselves. My kids are 6 & 5 so I understand their pain and I was somewhat prepared when my 4yo (at that time) daughter got HFMD. So I’m here to share how to be prepared to handle the situation if this happen to your child.
What is HFMD?
Hand Foot Mouse Disease is caused by 2 different families of virus, and like flu, your immune system is only primed for that particular strain in that particular sub-family. If you’re infected by a different virus strain, your prior infection isn’t going to help you.
The symptoms appears 3-4 days after infection and the most common ones are lesions around the joints & mouth, a low level fever and most painful of all, many many ulcers in the mouth. It’s seriously scary to see so many ulcers in your child’s mouth if you’re unprepared so I’d prepare you by showing my daughter’s. 😉 13-14 ulcers in total!
The ulcers are the worse part of the disease. That’ll take about 5-6 days to clear before the doctor can declare your child healthy and non-infectious. HFMD affect different children differently because there’re so many virus that can cause it and these virus particles can survive even when the mucus is dried up. So the best defense against HFMD is to ensure your kids washes their hands before eating anything. Since there’s no vaccine & no treatment available, it’s a waste of time & money to see pediatrician unless your child is below 2 years of age.
Just see a normal GP for liquid Paracetamol or acetaminophen to manage the fever & pain from the ulcers. Some GP prefer to prescribe Ibuprofen and that’s fine because it’s more effective as a painkiller, but the dosage MUST be strictly followed because liver damage is a known effect even with a light dosage. This is why I opted for Paracetamol.
First of all, don’t worry, most HFMD in Singapore don’t result in death. Hospitalisation may be needed if you can’t manage it properly so I’m here to help you manage it properly!
Be prepared to take 1 week leave if you cannot find someone willing to take care of your child. Please don’t ask your parents to take care of your sick child. Elderly has a weaker immune system & if they catch HFMD, they’ll suffer badly!
ENFORCE hand washing for everyone at home if you don’t want everyone to be infected! Also, no kissing and reduce touching to minimize the chance of contaminations and increasing the itch to those blisters.
DO NOT share food! Always pass the food to the child so that his/her utensils never touches what the rest of the family is eating.
Wash your child backside or ensure he/she washes his/her hands after using the toilet because HFMD is passed from feces to the mouth.
Prepare some topical (non-steroid) cream to reduce itching.
Prepare the following if ulcers start appearing. (Painkiller, ulcer cream, watermelon plant powder)
If ulcers becomes bad, prepare plain porridge everyday with some salty or sweet condiments. Everything that goes into the mouth is going to hurt like hell for your child. Sympathise with the pain but ensure your child gets the food down because he/she really needs the nutrients to fight off the infections! (Contrary to many advise, ice cream hurts!) High salt or sugar content hurts the ulcers so plain and warm is good.
Use alcohol swaps to wipe down all the child’s regular toys + surfaces he/she touches everyday like door knobs to minimize cross-contamination. Sterilising the whole house is frankly impossible and since HFMD viruses are not air-borne, just ensuring everyone washes their hands before food and you’d be fine. My 6yo son has close contact with his sister but by following our instructions, he never contracted it.
What NOT to do
Do Not Let your child play in public & spread the virus.
Do Not Bring you child to childcare & expect them to take care of your sick kid.
Do Not Eat all sort of medicine, western or traditional. It’s not going to help. Just ensure your child is well-fed & hydrated.
Do Not Use steroid based cream or medication. (It hinder the child’s development.)
Do Not Punish the child for not following your instructions or being cranky. Trust me, the ulcers are driving him/her crazy enough.
Do Not Overdose your child with painkiller.
Do Not Give lots of kisses & hugs. If you go down, it’ll take twice as long for YOU to recover! Then WHO’s going to take care of you & your child?
Dealing with the ulcers
The most painful ulcers are those at the back of the throat & mouth. Those under the tongue will make it hard for your child to eat anything.
Give painkiller. Follow dosage carefully especially with Ibuprofen. For very young toddlers, watch out for these side-effects & stop the medication immediately and see your doctor.
For Paracetomol or acetaminophen, you can safely increase Paracetomol dosage slightly if needed.
If you believe in Watermelon plant powder, you can spray 2-3 times to the back of the tongue. My girl didn’t like it because it’s so bitter.
Personally, I prefer the ulcer gel because there’s no restriction on dosage.
Clean your hands and carefully apply a dot of ulcer gel on your little finger.
Dap or rub the dot on the ulcer. Repeat until you’ve covered all the ulcers.
For those ulcers at the back of the throat, I squeeze a liberal amount under my daughter’s tongue and ask her to mix it with saliva, gargle & swallow.
If you do all 3, most of the pain will be gone enough for you to feed your child!
Since there’s no cure for HFMD, it’s important your child is able to fight off the infection him/herself. This means he/she must eat or at least drink formula milk that can fulfill the daily nutritional needs.
Plain, bland, soft & warm food is the best. I found plain porridge is the best for my daughter, together with those Taiwanese mock duck or glutten which is not too strongly flavoured. After a few initial tentatively swallows, my daughter manages to finish her porridge in record time! Just remember to spread the porridge in a big plate so it cools down fast!
We’ve tried different food, milo, cold milk & ice-cream. All hurt her badly especially cold stuff.
After food, I find that another round of ulcer gel helps to take the edge off the pain enough for her to sleep soundly.
For hydration, I found that plain water is the best because the sugar in flavoured beverage hurts the ulcers for a long time. If your toddler is young, you can try to thin the milk a bit if he/she is rejecting the milk.
I generally wouldn’t worry about the fever unless your child becomes listless and lethargic, or worse, have a seizure. If you follow the dosage of the painkiller & the fever stays high, quickly seek medical help.
By following these rules, my girl recovered nicely with no weight loss or lasting effects. I hope this article helped you if your child got HFMD.
Most insurers don’t comprehensively cover all aspects of managing childhood disease like HFMD. Fortunately, I know one that does that. From outpatient GP/Specialist costs, to taking care of the taxi fare or parking fees shall your child be hospitalized, to the actual hospital bill. It’s very affordable to boot.
For more information, please email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Errors? Comments? Questions? Use the comment box below!
(PDPA: Note that by emailing me, you consent to allowing me to email you back regarding HFMD information shared in this article. Don’t sue me later saying your email is in the DNC ah!)
Update: 16/3/2015 – Corrections & additions to WP8 Nextgen Reader & Magnify, Weave Server deactivated Update: 15/3/2015 – More in-depth review of NextGen Reader for Windows 8 & WP8 Update: 12/3/2015 – additional info for NextGen Reader for WP8
Weave is no more!
Weave News Reader was one of the first and one of the best news reader for the Windows Phone platform. I started using it when it was Windows Phone News. It is a Windows Phone exclusive app from Windows Phone 7 till now but like we Chinese say, “There’s no celebration/banquet that lasts forever.” Weave stopped working on 16 March 2015, with @Selesgames pulling the plug on the Weave server. This also means that Weave for Windows 8.x has stopped working as well.
@Selesgames has posted on Windows Central regarding the abrupt decision and while I’m sad that Arash Emami, the sole proprietor of @Selegames, is discontinuing Weave, I’m happy that he’s joining LinkedIn. Hopefully he can do something about the LinkedIn app in Windows 8 / WP8 & Windows 10.
I exclusively use Weave (Windows 8/WP8) for news on Windows, Windows Phone, Technology in general, Science & Astronomy, World News and Self-help. In fact, based on Battery sense, Weave is usually the single biggest usage of Battery!
So what’s next for users like me? Well I think it’s time to do a comparative review of some of the best news reader for the Windows/Windows Phone platform.
There are many great news aggregator in the Windows Store but I have chosen these few to compare against Weave. The areas that I’ll compare include ease of initial & subsequent setup of accounts & feeds, ease of synchronization between devices including Windows & Phones, speed of app in pulling feeds online & offline, speed in displaying news aggregate and individual articles, UX and customisations.
Converge 4.3.1 – Converge is a popular app with a 4.5 star rating. It focuses on Tech news only which makes it less useful for me but it has a very nice UI & includes a Video Hub that display all videos embedded in all the downloaded articles.
The Popular page is the Home page and you can switch between Tile mode shown below as the 2nd screen or Slideshow mode (find this in Settings) which changes to a magazine mode shown below as the 3rd screen.
It doesn’t sync to other devices and also doesn’t have a Windows 8 app, which is a waste, as the potential for this app to be popular as a Universal app on Windows 8 & 10 is definitely great.
Flipboard 2.6 – Flipboard is a social-media driven news aggregator app that’s ported from IOS. The main draw of Flipboard for IOS users was it simulates the page curling and flipping when you switch between articles, akin to flipping the page of a magazine. Alas, this flipping transition was not ported in WP8 thus reducing the “magic.”
The lineage of the app is very Apple-esque. The Windows version is very versatile but UI takes some getting used to. Things like Following which Feed or which Category was scattered all over the Modern app. I have not tried Flipboard on my iPad so I can’t tell if it works the same way there but I felt it could have been better organized. Flipping the page and other navigation is through keyboard left and right cursor keys or the Scroll on your mouse. BUT, there was NO indication on the screen on how that’ll work if you’re not using a touchscreen! Unlike other Modern apps like Microsoft News which has pop-up left/right edge cues, Flipboard for Windows doesn’t have those!
After you spend a few hours sieving through all the hundreds of feeds/website/categories/whatever and Follow the correct Feeds, you’d be very happy as it syncs back to your Flipboard account and that will propagate to all your devices. Unfortunately, there seems to be some issues with my Flipboard for Windows. After I’ve followed some feeds, it doesn’t sync back to my Flipboard account. It will always revert to the default Flipboard feeds & categories.
FlipBoard for WP8 works much better as it syncs perfectly with my Flipboard account and with other devices. However, it overwrites all the categories I’ve selected in FlipBoard for Windows. Now sieving through so many feeds isn’t productive on a small screen so it’s a real bummer that FlipBoard for Windows wasn’t synching properly.
A lot of potential here but it takes too much time to get to the news I want.
Fuse 188.8.131.52 – Fuse is created by legendary Windows Phone developer Rudy Huyn. It is a very functional software with an interesting Film reel layout. Setting up is quite easy but still requires you to sieve through a huge list categories of RSS feeds. After which you can categories it according to your preference.
It is the least polished of the apps in this round-up and lacks important features like sync to cloud and a Universal app for Windows 8/10. The film reel news feed, while functional, is very distracting with huge website name and the perforated separator for time making this part of the UI rather clunky and un-modern.
There’re some nice touches and animations here and there like all of Rudy’s other apps but this app definitely could use more development.
Microsoft News 184.108.40.2061 – Microsoft 1st party News app is a showcase of how a Modern app should be like and they have more or less succeeded in that mission. BUT, it’s also the least customizable of all the apps in this comparison. There’re also some nagging bugs like the Featured News showing SUPER OLD NEWS. See the picture below!
The pre-installed list of news sites are very few and doesn’t cover the full spectrum of interests and categories. You could make it show news from all your favourite websites but you’d have to manually key in the address and configure the RSS, which is why I only use MS News to follow Singapore & World news.
For some reasons, MS removed a great feature which allows you to add your own “Topic of interest.” This is moved to Cortana so I suppose MS means for us to use Cortana as our News source?
Nextgen Reader 220.127.116.11 – Nextgen Reader is another 4+ star app that has won the praise of many user and reviewers. It is highly functional and the Windows UI is modeled after Outlook Express. It’s also a Universal app which automatically syncs your account between devices.
However, its Achilles’ Heels is the configuration has to happen at the Feedly website. As a client only, it is not possible to configure from the Windows app. Fortunately, the Feedly website is easy to navigate with interest & categories clearly sorted and searchable. Even though the list isn’t pre-selected or curated, it was very easy for me to add the individual websites into the category as major topics of interest are #hashtagged in search. Unlike Flipboard or Fuse, getting organized was super easy & quick, and I don’t feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of websites.
After I’ve added some of the websites that was curated from Weave, I selected a few more which were not in Weave’s list. After that, clicking Sync in the Windows 8 Nextgen Reader immediately displays all my selection from the website. It was super easy!
Opening the app in WP8 was the same, the list and news feeds were all sync and ready to read. I just have to change the view to “Headline with Large Image” and it works almost the same as Weave!
You can add & delete Feeds from within the WP8 app which makes it a bit weird that the Windows app can’t. Did I miss something? WP8 Nextgen Reader has an awesome built-in Twitter sharing engine but if you prefer another app, you can always disable to share via WP8 Shares, or you could have BOTH! This multiplicity of functions is what I’ve come to expect from Desktop software. To see it in mobile apps without clunking up the whole UI is why I love WP8 platform and why I’m growing to like Nextgen Reader more everyday.
I subscribe to a large number of Feeds from multiple sources and it can go into the hundreds within a few hours. I don’t read every article, so I scroll through the list and tap only those I’m interested in. A very useful feature for both Windows & WP8 is the ability to, “Mark above as Read.” This allows me to go through a huge list of articles and simply mark ‘read’ the posts that I’ve scrolled past so I don’t have to go through them again later.
Nextgen Reader is not the prettiest of the bunch but so far, it’s the closest competitor to Weave. After using it for a couple of days I find that there were some areas that can be improved. In the WP8 app, currently in List view, ‘Read’ articles are denoted by a greyed Headline, it would be much clearer if the preview image was greyed as well. And when I go into an article, I have to tap “get full article”, why not set this as the default behavior? This is true for both Windows & WP8.
Magnify News Reader 3.1.7 – Magnify (Beta) is a beautiful app with so much bells and whistles, they had to create a video tutorial that runs the first time you open the app. It is also a Feedly client like NextGen Reader and thus, all my feeds are downloaded and sync to the app immediately after I sign in. If you haven’t create feeds in Feedly website, the app will appear empty and that’s why I scratched my head the first time I installed it months ago. The UI & UX is vastly different from NextGen Reader and users who like 3D animations are in for a treat.
All the transitions have 3D animations, from Home Page to individual section, there’s that flying pages animation. In the Preview page, scrolling up & down also scrolls up and down the Preview images. Once inside the article, a 3D cube effect changes the page instead of a standard scroll.
The app is also packed with tons of features that I use regularly in Weave so this is definitely a strong contender, although I must say that after reading a few articles, I got a headache from all the animations. Fortunately, there’s an ‘Article view’ which switches off the 3D cube effect and just scroll as per normal.
A very important feature that sets it apart from Nextgen Reader is the included Curated lists when you tap the “+” hub. It is a full featured Feed management system which gives users the ability to manage their Feeds completely within the app or use the pre-selected ones in each category or interest. It’s also more powerful than Weave and almost as easy to use as the Feedly website, which is an impressive feat given the limited screen size. Also, when I tap to view an article, Magnify shows the preview while downloading the full (mobilised) article automatically in the background. Kudos to the developers!
Its biggest annoyance is perhaps the lack of the “Mark above as Read” which is so useful in Nextgen Reader. Since the Feeds are not paginated, I have to tap on individual Feeds group if I think I cannot finish all the posts at one go. Within the Article list, you can only Mark all ‘Read’ or ‘Unread’. This can definitely be improved. Personally, the app is a bit too colourful for my liking but if you like your Groups to be colour-coded and fully customizable, you’d love Magnify!
Weave News Reader 18.104.22.168 – Weave News Reader. Much has been written about it. It’s a fantastic news reader for the busy person. It looks fantastic when it first came out. While the look is a bit dated now with Flipboard & Magnify looking awesome, Weave still gets the job done pretty well.
One of its best feature, the Weave (mobiliser) server that Weave News Reader sync to is no longer unique and in fact, can be unstable at times. Certain website also doesn’t get mobilised, including some of my favourite websites, causing Weave to switch to the much slower Web View. Beside mobilising the webpage, the Weave Server also prepares the page for Text-to-Speech, which is a great feature not available in most other apps.
Unfortunately, Weave News Reader has its fair share of bugs like the synchronization of Read/Unread posts can become out-of-sync between devices. When the Weave server was unstable, Weave News Reader would crash or its Live Tile can go haywire. Another very common complain was a stuck Live Tile but that’s less common after WP8.1.
Having said that, Weave still has the best curated list of websites sorted into interest & categories to get newbies up and running quickly. After that, you can opt to sync to your Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter or Google Account. This allows your selected feeds to sync between devices, including read/unread posts so you can continue reading on the go or at home/office.
You can easily customize your preferred website or add more if you so desire although IIRC Feedly isn’t supported. Articles can be easily shared to multiple destinations without any fuss and you can favourite any posts so it stays in your synchronized feed forever, or until Weave server goes dark on 14th March.
Weave has tons and tons of features but somehow doesn’t feel cluttered and is one of the best example of a modern app there is!
Which app is the winner?
Well, after this review, I still prefer Weave but since I have to choose an alternative, my recommendation goes to NextGen Reader. It has the best balance between UX, UI, features & customisations. I’d continue to play with the other apps and update this article with my thoughts as I go along.
To help readers make up their own mind, here’s a table.
Comments are welcome and if you want me to review another app on either Windows or WP8, I’d be happy to do so when I have the time. Remember to like my post & subscribe!
As readers on my website knows, I’ve been using Windows 8.0 since the Developer Preview beta program on my Fujitsu T4210 TabletPC and I bought the license on Day one for my TabletPC.
I also bought 2 additional licenses for my desktop PC & for my wife’s laptop but I didn’t install Windows 8.0 on my desktop for quite a few months because Windows 8.0 was less keyboard/mouse friendly than Windows 7.
I did do a multi-boot for my wife so she can try Windows 8.0 if she wanted on her Fujitsu S6310 laptop or she can continue to use Windows 7 if she didn’t like Windows 8.0. Turns out she didn’t like Windows 8.0 because her laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen, which makes Windows 8.0 harder to grasp and use than it needed to be.
Before Windows 8.1 was launched, I installed Windows 8.0 on my desktop in anticipation of the much better keyboard/mouse environment in Windows 8.1.
My Fujitsu TabletPC and DIY desktop upgraded without any issues but my wife’s laptop couldn’t be upgraded. Whatever I tried, I ended up with the error 0xC1900101 – 0x20017 which indicated some kind of driver issue or hardware problem.
The symptom is always the same. It’ll install everything but during the final phase of booting up to Desktop, it’ll crash and refuse to boot, thus triggering a roll-back to Windows 8.0.
No Solutions in sight
You can find MANY threads at Microsoft forums of people who have this exact problem or something similar but few people manages to solve it.
This issue dragged on for months and months with Microsoft promising to solve it once and all in a major patch for Windows 8.0. Unfortunately, while it solved the problem for many people who has driver issues, it didn’t help my wife’s laptop.
I’ve tried different versions of drivers, including NOT installing drivers for unknown devices. I’ve tried upgrading Windows 7 using a Windows 8.1 Boot disc, which had the same issue, rendering the Windows 7 partition corrupt. I even tried to rename the Windows 7 partition as “System Reserved” because I read Windows 8 requires a separate recovery partition. Nothing worked. So my wife was stuck with 2 Windows 8.0 installation at the Boot screen but only one works.
Suffice to say my wife wasn’t too happy with the situation but since she only uses the laptop to watch TV dramas, I wasn’t in any danger of having to sleep on the sofa.
Solution came after solving an unrelated problem
Well if you read my previous post about installing Windows 8.1 without DVD or Product Key, you’d know that Microsoft recently updated their Windows 8.1 installation to handle more hardware, especially the new Ultrabooks which doesn’t have any DVD drives and all the recovery information are stored on the harddisk. So if said harddisk were to crash, like the one in the article, you must download a program from Microsoft which creates a bootable recovery disk on a USB thumbdrive or DVD disc.
After I recovered that laptop, I noticed that the Recovery disk has created 2 additional hidden “System Reserved” partitions at the front & back of the SSD besides the main System partition. Now in my wife’s laptop case, I only have the one at the back of the harddisk.
During the installation of Windows 8.0, the installer created 1 additional System Reserved folder which exceeded the maximum number of 4 allowable for a Basic Disk. In order to have more than 4 partitions, I needed to convert to a Dynamic Disk but that will create a lot of compatibility issues with harddisk and data recovery software that I have. So I opted to stick to a Basic disk and of course, Windows 8.0 couldn’t boot to continue the installation.
So I booted up to Windows 7 and ran Eason Partition Manager 8 to delete the extra partition and shifted some other partitions around. Windows 8.0 booted up fine and finished the installation after that but as a consequence, the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) now has missing and non-continuous partition numbering. I had to edit Windows 7 BCD so it can dual-boot with Windows 8.0. It was messy.
This turned out to be the actual problem with our Windows 8.1 upgrade!
Since I still have the USB thumbdrive for Windows 8.1 installation, I tried to upgrade my wife’s laptop and of course, the same error code cropped up. Then, I remember about the partitioning issues a few years back & realized that I could just edit the BCD! But I thought, now I have an extra partition, it’ll be cleaner to just backup her data and just delete off all the partitions and start over.
So I did just that and it was the exact same procedure as my previous article except before installing, you have to delete off ALL the partitions on the harddisk/SSD. My wife’s laptop was based on the old IBM-PC BIOS so I had to key in her Windows 8.0 Product Key. And YES, even though the Recovery Media program is meant to install Windows 8.1, it happily accepted the Windows 8.0 Product Key!
After that, it was smooth sailing all the way! 🙂
Her laptop is working better than ever!
I hope this helps some of you. Like the article and subscribe. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!