E-cigarettes can be bad for the health – of your computer

It’s fair to say that the first person to stick leaves in their mouth and set fire to it wasn’t really thinking ahead. But who could’ve foreseen this? It is reportedly possible that your e-cigarette is just waiting for you to plug it into your PC or Mac so that it can do some damage. Deliberate, malicious, profitable damage:

Many e-cigarettes can be charged over USB, either with a special cable, or by plugging the cigarette itself directly into a USB port. That might be a USB port plugged into a wall socket or the port on a computer – but, if so, that means that a cheap e-cigarette from an untrustworthy supplier gains physical access to a device.

A report on social news site Reddit suggests that at least one “vaper” has suffered the downside of trusting their cigarette manufacturer. “One particular executive had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined,” the user writes. “After all traditional means of infection were covered, IT started looking into other possibilities.

“The made in China e-cigarette had malware hardcoded into the charger, and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system.”

Health warning: Now e-cigarettes can give you malware | Technology | The Guardian

If this were chocolate, I’d be talking about having some perspective and how this is surely a tiny proportion of all e-chocolate systems. But since it’s just smoking, what the hell? Go crazy, panic, stop smoking, it’s fine. Read the full piece.

Apple’s reversible cable: why anyone cares

I’m still not saying I care, but I have wondered. Hang on, let me back up a bit. Previously on Cable Watch… For the past week or so, I keep reading news reports saying Apple is about to release a USB cable that you can plug in no matter which way up you have it. Excitement just doesn’t cover it.

But, grief, how the reports keep coming. You’ll be able to plug it in this way or that way. Gosh.

So I liked it when the latest such report begins:

Leaving aside the fact that Apple-related rumors are a dime a dozen and tend to be about as reliable as horse-racing tips, you may wonder what all the hubbub is about. Sure, not having to “find the right way” to insert a USB cable is convenient, but it seems hardly worth so much press. So what’s the big deal?

Details that count: Apple’s obsession with reversible cable connectors – Marco Tabini, Macworld (22 August 2014)

The full piece then examines how such a new cable would actually fit in with an element of Apple’s longstanding design ethos. I’d say that I refuse to get excited but that’s implying I need any effort to stay fully and entirely blasé about the whole thing. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Tabini’s take on the whole deal.

Quick travel tip: power your phone without an adaptor

Check your hire car’s radio. If it has an a USB socket for playing music via your iPhone, it will also charge the phone. Not much. But enough.

The ideal is for you to have an adaptor that plugs into the cigaratte lighter but – no, actually, the ideal is for batteries to last longer but if wishes were horses we’d all be in the supermarket meat trade. If you don’t have an adaptor and you do have a low battery, the radio trick will work.

I just did this in France, driving about four hours with my iPhone on the red-line 5% battery level. At the end of it, when I peeled myself out of the car and slithered across the pavement like all my muscles had been erased, the iPhone was still at the 5% redline.

But it had worked as my GPS SatNav all the way.

So it’s not like you’re going to get a lot of power out of this radio USB connector. But you’ll get enough.