Microsoft on Wednesday announced two-step verification will be rolling out to 700 million accounts “over the next couple of days.” The feature will unfortunately be optional, but it’s definitely a move in the right direction especially given the recent slew of hacking incidents.
For those who don’t know, a Microsoft account works across Windows, Microsoft Office, Windows Phone, Xbox, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Skype, and other various Microsoft services. You can enable the new feature at account.live.com/proofs/Manage if you see it now, or in the next few days if it hasn’t shown up for you yet.
Here’s how the page looks:
For those who don’t know, two-step verification works by asking you, the user, for two pieces of information anytime you want to access your account. Just over a year ago, Microsoft began turning on two-step verification for certain critical activities, such as for editing credit cards and subscriptions at commerce.microsoft.com and xbox.com, or accessing files on another one of your computers via SkyDrive.com.
Once everyone gets this update, you’ll be able to protect your entire account with two-step verification. Again, the only downside here is that the feature is optional and many users thus won’t take advantage of it.
If you do decide to flip the switch, here’s how it will work:
We’ll verify that you have at least two pieces of security information on file (it’s always good to have a second in case you lose the first). If you have a smartphone, we’ll help you set up an authenticator app, which allows you to receive two-step verification codes even while offline (very useful on vacation and to avoid messaging fees). The next time you sign on, you’ll be prompted for a code.
Here are are a few more points we feel are worth noting:
We strongly recommend you turn on two-step verification when you get access to it.
Top Image Credit: Martyn E. Jones
Editor’s note: Jay Kirsch is the President of AOL’s Business, Technology & Entertainment Group, which includes properties such as TechCrunch, Engadget, Autoblog, DailyFinance and Moviefone among others. Follow him on Twitter @jaykirsch.
The church and state metaphor is referenced almost daily in the business of monetizing journalism. For the most part, when episodes like the CNET debacle happen, the damage to journalistic integrity (the church in the metaphor) is the center of attention. That makes sense since writers make their livings on that reputation and want to take it with them to their next outlets. What is frequently ignored, however, is the damage to the state: properties like TechCrunch, Engadget, Autoblog or CNET.
In the short-term, there will always be reasons to cave in and mold editorial to the needs of the business. Winning a specific ad campaign, getting more distribution or helping to support a lawsuit all have measurable, short-term benefits to media companies. But in the long-term, you’ve started the process of destroying asset value in a less clear, less measurable way.
I’m not talking about the other overused metaphor, the slippery slope, where you lose readers because ad dollars are buying your opinion. The truth is, only a very small percentage of CNET readers will ever hear about this issue, and most of them won’t care.
The real slippery slope works more like this. First, you lose the trust of your editorial team, which counts on management to give them the resources and freedom to create great content. Then they lose the passion for the product they work on, which is likely the biggest reason they do it. Then they leave and you can’t recruit great writers anymore. Then your audience leaves. Then your advertisers leave. Then you are out of business.
While your personnel exodus is in process, your sales reps are getting beat up by clients who want to know why their product is getting a bad review. Maybe they should sue you and then the bad review would come down. Last month sales may have been pissed about the coverage of their client, but now they are begging to start a sales call without apologizing for the product. Your distribution partners start dropping you because their editorial teams don’t want to work with you. Traffic falls. The link legacy that creates such great SEO starts to fall off, because you are no longer the paper of record. Traffic falls more. And during it all, your shareholders still expect you to grow earnings, so you cut costs — probably from editorial.
When I learned about the CNET story, I sent a note to Tim Stevens at Engadget, as well as Eric Eldon and Alexia Tsotsis at TechCrunch. I told them that I actually laughed when thinking about the hypothetical phone call I’d make to any one of them telling them not to review Company X because AOL was involved in a lawsuit with them. The phone conversation would have probably gone something like this:
“Tim. Hi, it’s Jay. So, I need you to take down the review of that smartphone. It seems AOL is in a lawsuit with them and, well, it wouldn’t look so good if we said it was the greatest thing in the world.”
“Ha, that’s a good one Jay [several seconds of laughter]. No, seriously, what’d you call for?”
Tim is far more polite than Eric or Alexia, so I don’t even want to speculate how either of them would have responded. But the end result would be the same; the review would remain on the site. To Michael Arrington’s point, if I really pushed the issue and actually took down the review myself (or had an engineer do it since I don’t know how to use the CMS), the same content would have been on every social network in the world in minutes.
The church/state metaphor works. It also proves the futility of what CBS management was trying to do. Religions almost always survive the downfall of the states with which they coexist. Journalists, more now than ever before, will always be able to have a voice, even if the business they are part of, its state, gets taken down. Don’t worry as much about the church — it will keep rolling along. But once the state gets toppled, it is down permanently.
Original post: Worry About The State More Than The Church
As early as the middle of October, new users of Outlook.com who switched to the product from other webmail providers were reported account access issues, and missing emails.
TNW did not take note of the issue until today, when a report on the sharp Neowin brought the issue to our attention. This sort of error is not to be dismissed: much of a person’s digital life is stored in their email history. To lose it could mean to lose everything from concert ticket stubs, to wedding photos, passwords, tax history, exonerating evidence, and other key pieces of data.
Here’s the crux of Neowin’s coverage today on the Outlook.com flub:
Microsoft’s forum moderators have been posting messages on this thread promising to fix the problem but many users are clearly getting frustrated with the situation. One forum poster, “JaneMorgenstern” wrote on January 9th:
“FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! We have provided hundreds of examples over the last SIX MONTHS!!! Take a look at the history on all of the threads concerning this problem and make a reference db. Get this FIXED Microsoft! Totally unacceptable service, an outrage for this to have gone on as long as it has.”
Given the long history of user complaint concerning an issue this damaging, Microsoft owes its users not only a backup of their email if indeed they are going missing en masse, but also a direct apology and public plan for course correction.
Microsoft launched the Outlook.com product to fanfare. In its early days, when strong, quick user growth was being enjoyed by the service, TNW declared it a hit. We are, however, more than willing to kibosh that statement if the company is scuttling user complaint about this painful bug.
Outlook.com has potential. However, managing the letting down of its users by deleting their notes to tamp down notice places that potential in doubt.
Top Image Credit: Pete Birkinshaw
A brand new year is upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about the changes you want to make. But it can be difficult to follow through on New Year’s Resolutions, especially without any help or support.
But nine times out of ten, there’s an app for that. We pulled seven of Time Magazine’s list of the top ten most broken New Years Resolutions, and determined which apps would be best to help with each.
So without any further ado, here are the best apps to help you live better in the new year.
Fitocracy is a fitness app that uses social tools and gamification to make working out easier. Losing weight and working out more often is the most popular and common New Year’s Resolution every year over, but many people give up after a few days or weeks. Staying motivated can be tough.
By automatically including friends and adding a similar level of competition that you’d find in a video game, Fitocracy keeps users focused on their goals without having to focus on the pain of working out regularly.
Lose It! is a great app for tracking calorie intake and diet. You simply record everything you eat, whether at a restaurant or homemade, and the app starts tracking your weekly calorie budget, the ratio of carbohydrates to proteins to fats, and integrates with social networks to let you keep up with your friends’ progress.
The worst thing about dieting apps is that inputting your food intake can become tedious and annoying, but Lose It! has streamlined the process as much as possible with restaurant menu integration and a full database of foods and ingredients. I’ve been using Lose It! for a while, and the best part is that after a while, you start learning about the general caloric value of different foods, which helps you make better, more informed decisions when choosing what to eat.
Snapguide is a beautiful iOS app that brings “How To” to the digital world. It lets users create and share guides, fostering a peer-to-peer community of users who can teach each other. You can look up all kinds of guides within the app to help you get started on your new craft.
The app doesn’t go too in-depth on each guide, so if you’re looking to become an expert on something this may not be the best choice. However, if the goal is to learn a little something new each day, or to discover a new hobby or passion, Snapguide is certainly the app for you.
My Last Cigarette helps users quit smoking by mapping out the changes in their health as they quit. Simply enter in your smoking habits, and the app keeps you informed on how you’re bettering your life through quitting.
There are over ten different readouts, with indicators that display how your lifespan is increasing, your circulatory and lung functions are improving, and how much money you’re saving by not buying a pack a day. By seeing these improvements in your quality of life, the app can be used as a reminder each time you feel the need to light up.
Even if the terms “high-yield account” and “portfolio” make you nervous, Betterment can help. The Disrupt alumni helps you earn more money than a standard savings account with more flexibility than a higher yield account. After signing up with an account on Betterment.com, users can check the balance, composition, and returns of their investment portfolio in real time from the app.
Users can also add/withdraw money, change the allocation to stocks and bonds, along with reviewing goals and account activity. Obviously, the best way to get out of debt is to cut spending, but earning a few extra bucks while you save is even better.
National Geographic’s Traveler’s Magazine for iPad is the absolute best place to find your next destination spot. It’s loaded with content from all of the world’s most beautiful locations, letting you feel like you’re actually there and helping you understand what to expect from each spot.
The app includes maps, photo galleries, and even 360-degree photos of places like the Taj Mahal. Users will also have access to travel tips and live feeds from the Intelligent Travel blog and NatGeo Twitter Feed from various locations.
I live thousands of miles from my family, but I’ve found that Path is the best way to stay close to them, even when I’m far away. Since Path, a beautifully designed social networking app, only allows up to 50 followers for each user, it’s not as crowded as other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Plus, Path offers interesting features like the ability to tell followers when you’re waking up or going to sleep. You can also let your followers in on what movies you’re watching, music you’re listening to, and which restaurants you love. The app is free, easy to set up, and enjoyable to use thanks to an award-winning user interface.
Read the original: 7 Apps That Will Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Alive
Unless Specific Media hits a home run with the new streaming music service it’s raising $50 million to pivot Myspace into, its bargain basement buy of the social network for just $35 million in 2011 could be a disaster. Slides attained by Business Insider shows Myspace will lose $43 million in 2012 on revenue of just $15 million. Yet somehow it thinks the notoriously tough music biz will save it.
The pitch deck outlines how Specific Media, now known as Interactive Media Holding, thinks it can turn Myspace around by morphing it into a Spotify and Pandora competitor. It’s betting it can win because of the Myspace brand association with music and the fact that 50% of its streaming plays today come from unassigned artists it won’t have to pay royalties to.
It would have to win big because Myspace is hemorrhaging money. News Corp took a nasty hit buying Myspace for $580 million in 2005 when it was still growing fast. But Myspace’s core tech was rotten, and its lack of the real-world social graph let Facebook quickly usurp it. Myspace sunk like a stone, and News Corp ended up selling it to Specific Media for a lousy $35 million last summer.
That might sound cheap but it came with a lot of baggage. Myspace now has 700 employees it has to pay, leading it to lose $20 million in 2011 on revenue of $9 million. Traffic has increased a bit since a redesign at the end of 2010. It managed 28 million monthly uniques by August 2012, up from 23 million in December 2011. But with $15 million in expected revenue and an EBITDA net loss of $43 million in 2012, the streaming music service it’s raising money for would have to rake in cash for Interactive to salvage the acquisition.
Sadly, I don’t think that will happen. If you want to bring the world affordable music, sure, go ahead and launch a streaming service. But if you’re trying to make money, you might be singing out of key. Even if it gets to escape significant royalty fees by streaming unsigned music, the jams you do have to pay the record labels for are pricey. The equation only works at massive scale with a huge ads sales team and lots of paying subscribers.
If the model wasn’t weak enough, Myspace would have to compete with the well-established Pandora and Spotify, which are becoming household names for personalized Internet radio and on-demand streaming music respectively. And they’re both losing money! Pandora had a net loss of $20 million in Q1 2012, and Spotify, despite all the label-backing, could lose $40 million in 2012. Plus there’s Apple’s iTunes and the radio service it’s rumored to launch.
And for a final piece of pessimism, there’s no way that Myspace could keep unsigned music accounting for 50% of its plays if it scales. The indie music fan base just isn’t that large. A fair amount of these too-cool-for-pop music cats are either already using Myspace, or are allegiant to blogs like Pitchfork that provide bleeding edge music discovery and curate out the crap.
This all makes the projections in Myspace’s pitch deck nearly laughable. It thinks it will lose just $25 million next year, be making $10 million by 2014, and printing $33 million on $140 million in revenue by 2015. I’m not counting Myspace out. There’s potential for it in spaces like meeting new people or customized content feeds, but streaming music? That’s pretty hazy.
Let’s face it. If you were a 23-year old Myspace-loving music discovery junkie in the site’s heyday, you’re 30 now, and probably aren’t desperately seeking the latest buzz bands like you used to.