Status Board: The Perfect Second Screen App

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Do you use your iPad as a second screen? Switching between sources on that screen while you are working on your main screen might slow you down a bit. App developer Panic has you covered – the new Status Board app turns your iPad screen into a ever-changing dashboard of relevant information. With “set it and forget it in mind”, you select from a series of widgets (or create a couple of your own with a bit of skill) and drop them into the built-in panels. Move and resize the widgets to your liking. The result is a flow of categories of information within little gridded cubbies including a clock, weather, your calendar, your mail, Twitter feeds, news feeds, graphical and tabular display of information you provide via spreadsheet or a create your own block (using HTML). From the site:

Clock and Weather are exactly what you expect. Calendar will display the events from one or more of your local iPad calendars, even Exchange. Mail can show you mailbox counts, list incoming messages, or graph message volume. Twitter can show you tweets as a ticker, or chart Twitter volume. RSS will show you the latest articles in a feed, or graph article volume. Finally, Chart, Table, and Do-It-Yourself are described above.

The results are pretty slick:

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Once you hook your sources up, Status Board does all the updating for you.

Of course, this works fine in your desktop set up as a second screen showing some of your vital stats. But where Status Board really shines is when you purchase in-app the ability to send out the board to a big screen via HDMI, or AirPlay it to a nearby TV. Now you are talking about a great information-at-a-glance display for your larger office or waiting area.

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Not the cheapest iPad app out there – it will set you back $9.99 for the app and $9.99 for the purchase of the screen out capability, but when you look at it from the other direction, $20 for a “set it and forget it” information board to gussy up your professional space is pretty cheap. Very niche but very cool indeed.

The Shodan Search Engine IS a Bit Scary

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But it may be indicative of the lurking loss of privacy and security we seem to freely exchange for the convenience of connectivity.

There are search engines out there specializing in all sorts of online information. I have highlighted some here, for example search tools that delve into the deep web. Shodan is different. Shodan searches for devices connected to the Web. Like servers. Printers. Routers. Webcams. Security cameras. Control systems for water parks. Really? Yup, really. And it can see what is secured out there and what is unsecured. From a CNN Money article that ran the rounds yesterday:

A quick search for “default password” reveals countless printers, servers and system control devices that use “admin” as their user name and “1234” as their password. Many more connected systems require no credentials at all — all you need is a Web browser to connect to them.

Search parameters include location by city or county, latitude or longitude. Or search by hostname, operating system or IP address. It also allows you to export your search results by XML, so you can take it with you, with the IP and physical location associated with the result. And, if you don’t want to do the heavy lifting, let some other hackers users do the work for you with shared searches.

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Even scarier, use Shodan Exploits to search for known vulnerabilities and exploits lurking out there.

I can hear you now – “Oh.Em.Gee. How long has this been out there?” Three years. When you search one of their shared searches for, say, video web servers, you will see results from 2010 forward. Shodan is celebrating its three year anniversary with a decent flurry of press activity. Great. Now more hackers users will know about this means of tapping stuff.

I totally understand that being fore-warned is to be fore-armed, and that the principle purpose of this is to enhance security rather than shake up that fragile concept, but my pessimistic self can’t help but consider all the nefarious uses such a tool could promote. It is all great if device owners take heed and actually start securing these devices. FWIW, SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network) apparently is a name used for a fictional AI antagonist in the cyberpunk action role-playing video games System Shock and System Shock 2. Take from that what you may/will.

Shodan invites you to register using your social logins, but I had no problem running some searches without registering. Check it out. And be chilled.