Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

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Distinguished Bibliophile
roustabout
Posts: 3,630
Registered: ‎03-31-2011
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Re: Modern society

Dean writes "once you could buy applications, it is important for applications not to be able to modify the data of other applications (you wouldn't want a game to have access to your banking application data).  FAT32 partitions do not support the concept of file/folder "ownership", so Linux partitions (ie, ext3) are used"

 

In the context of the NC, this makes a lot of sense.

 

But the question here was asked in the context of the Simple Touch, which has almost zero applications aside from BN's own applications - even folks who've rooted it typically don't install a lot of software to it. 

 

Since there's content I pay for that I want access to on the ST, I came up with my workaround for keeping books in the fat32 area. It was just a bonus to realize it would also work on the NC and let me use more room for programs and still have access to my library. 

"no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Frequent Contributor
LoganK
Posts: 175
Registered: ‎11-08-2011
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Re: Modern society

I'm sorry, Dean, but you invited the criticsim.

 

Your arguments hold no water.

 

First, applications do not require more space than content. In my case, ePub books are 1MB--4MB, PDF books are 1MB--35MB, and all of my movies are about 700MB (by choice). Applications are generally about 1MB--6MB.

 

Applications can be installed to the FAT partition, and . Applications remain encrypted, and user data remains on the internal device memory. Very few applications install anything other than media on anything other than the internal Linux partitions, and the location of stored data does not change depending on where the application is installed.

 

And while I'm sure many appreciate your work to help people fix the boneheaded decisions at B&N, I'm not sure it should protect you from criticism over defending B&N. It seems reasonable that an eReader/media device should enable users to add books and media to that device, and there is no techncial reason that it should be otherwise. Most people don't buy a device to fix it, and your making it easier to do so doesn't negate the fact that it is, in most customer's opinions, broken.

 

As for the USB cable, mine is still kicking strong, too. Also, despite documentation, a normal micro-USB cable works for charging. Charging in three hours is a luxury, but having the alternative of charging overnight certainly mitigates the issue. That doesn't change the fact that B&N should fix their cable: these same customers with failing B&N cables are probably happily using their $2 micro-USB cables alongside it without issue. The design is apparently flawed, and they should stop manufacturing cables with a known high-failure rate. It looks bad for the company, it upsets customers, and it may end up costing more than simply addressing the root cause.

DeanGibson
Posts: 2,198
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Registered: ‎04-12-2011

We live in an "entitlement" world

Oh, I don't mind the criticism.

 

Yes, my installed applications are small as well, with one exception (the media portion is about 100MB), but as I noted, many of the B&N games are quite large.

 

Applications are not encrypted.  However, it's the user application data that needs to be protected from other applications.  This is a decision that was made for Android devices in general:  It's the responsibility of the operating system to protect applications (and their data) from each other, and that can't reasonably be done on a FAT file system under Android.  If you want to say that B&N should have abandoned Android for an OS that they implemented themselves, well, given B&N's skill in this area, I think that would be an unmitigated disaster.

 

I don't in general defend B&N software design decisions (examples upon request), but the expansion of the ext3 partition size gives the user the most flexibility.  The device is not "broken and needs fixing", and I don't really care how many disagree with me.  The B&N forums are a mass of unreasonable expectations of all types.  The Nooks (like the Kindles) are sold at a lower margin in order to support B&N book (and application) sales.  The ability to sideload content is an extra (non-B&N revenue-producing) feature, and if customers buy the device to mainly support sideloaded content (LIKE I DID), then to whine when it won't hold the additional content without a trivial purchase, is to prove why the world is in the economic shape it is in.  The device is what it is.  I was unhappy with the Kindle DX because it didn't meet my needs (as opposed to what it was designed for), but I didn't whine about it;  I returned it.  Did Amazon make the wrong decision?  Who knows?  Who cares?  I moved on.

 

The Nook USB cable is not flawed.  People are flawed.  You'd think that once a user has had a problem with a B&N cable, that they would treat the replacement cable with more care. When I break something (whether or not it is my fault) and I get a replacement, I spend a little extra effort to not treat the replacement the same way.  That clearly is not happening with some users, who are on their 3rd or 4th cable.  I blame B&N not for the cable, but for the packaging, which implies that the cable can be bent with a very small radius.  I've long ago recommended that B&N insert a yellow "read me first" information sheet (like is done with many products) in each Nook, discussing cable handling.  They haven't done that, and therefore I don't feel any sympathy for B&N in the replacement costs they are incurring.

 

Nooks: 2 HD+/16GB, 2 HD/8GB: B&N 2.2.0 rooted; Color: B&N 1.4.3 rooted
    2 Touch (one Ltd. Ed.): B&N 1.2.1 rooted; 1stEd/3G: B&N 1.7.0 rooted
Dell Venue 8 Pro: Windows 8.1; Samsung Galaxy Tab2 7.0": Android 4.2.2 rooted
LG G Pad 8.3 Android 4.4.2; Acer Iconia A500: Android 4.0.3 rooted
Customer loyalty is earned, not commanded or deserved, and easily lost.
Never suspect intent where incompetence will do.
Distinguished Bibliophile
patgolfneb
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎09-10-2011
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Re: We live in an "entitlement" world

[ Edited ]

Dean, I really don't have an opinion on the memory partition issues, just my usual distrust that an awful lot of these decisions are not made to maximize utility for me. Thanks for the primer. I do question why so many have needed 3 or 4 cables. I did not realize they were a bit fragile and used mine plugged in for an extended period when home ill. After I received my replacement I have taken care not to do this. Obviously I hope the design receives an update. It strikes me that once aware of the problem people stubbornly refuse to modify the way

they use the charger. Obviously BN did not anticipate that some would use the CNK while charging. It strikes me as kind of passive aggressive to insist you won't take extra care. Almost an I will show them, how dare they not anticipate this type of use. After all it is only fair that we recognize that BN was trying to include a rapid charge feature. Hopefully the new models have more durablebcords.
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LoganK
Posts: 175
Registered: ‎11-08-2011
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Re: We live in an "entitlement" world

The rest is about right, but I won't let the following go:

 

Applications are not encrypted.  However, it's the user application data that needs to be protected from other applications.  This is a decision that was made for Android devices in general:  It's the responsibility of the operating system to protect applications (and their data) from each other, and that can't reasonably be done on a FAT file system under Android.  If you want to say that B&N should have abandoned Android for an OS that they implemented themselves, well, given B&N's skill in this area, I think that would be an unmitigated disaster.

 

Qupted from "http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/install-location.html":

 

The unique container in which your application is stored is encrypted with a randomly generated key that can be decrypted only by the device that originally installed it. Thus, an application installed on an SD card works for only one device.

 

Clearly going with Android (or some other major operating system) was the right way to go, but there is no technical reason B&N can't give us a huge media partition. You are probably correct about the political motivations, but when the argument is "B&N doesn't want to sell people the device they expect" I have no sympathy. :wink:

 

PS: I buy (almost) only B&N content for a number of reasons, but one of the chief ones is that B&N pushed a consumer-friendly DRM scheme. If the company changes its ways to continue being anti-customer, then they'll no longer earn my dollars (not that they'll probably miss people like me).

Distinguished Bibliophile
roustabout
Posts: 3,630
Registered: ‎03-31-2011
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Re: We live in an "entitlement" world

[ Edited ]

" user application data that needs to be protected from other applications."

 

Meaning, unless there's a special permission available, App 1 (fbsync) should not be able to touch the data written by App 2 (FBreader, storing current reading position stored in the FBReader database.)

 

This is intended to, for instance, prevent malware installed on a non-rooted device from being able to read and disclose the content of your memo pad or task list or contacts or better yet your stored logins held by your web browser, etc. 

 

    from "http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/install-location.html":

 

      The unique container in which your application is stored is encrypted with a

      randomly generated key that can be decrypted only by the device that originally

      installed it.

 

Both apps (the malware plus browser, or fbsync + fbreader) are running on the device that originally installed it, and are decryptable by it.  The ownership restriction is intended to prevent malware installed on the device from reading data stored  on the device and relaying it insecurely, which it otherwise could (and does on rooted devices when people grant su permissions and install apps willy-nilly.)

 

In the case of fbsync and fbreader, I am aware of the issue and I want to grant permission. 

 

In the case of the BN apps for reading books and magazines, the data is stored, retrieved and synched all within the context of a single application so rooting is unnecessary. 

 

The books and magazines themselves can be stored on either Fat32 or Ext3 fileystems;  the databases containing the DRM keys and reading positions and annotations are stored in Ext3, as it's those databases that are the "data" relevant here. 

 

I can easily remove my SD card with photos on it taken with my android media player and put it in my computer, and the photos are readable. Not because my device decrypts them as part of the umount process, but because they aren't part of the data or container being considered in either Dean's or the Android dev documentation guide, as far as I can see. 

 

I suspect Dean's tried this experiment, but I haven't intentionally done so:  what does the NC or NST do if you choose to format /data as fat32 and tell it that that's intentional?  My guess is that the OS looks at it at start time and vetoes the decision and either refuses to boot or boots far enough to say "/data is incorrectly formatted.  I'll fix that for you." 

"no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Frequent Contributor
LoganK
Posts: 175
Registered: ‎11-08-2011
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Re: We live in an "entitlement" world

@roustabout:

 

Both apps (the malware plus browser, or fbsync + fbreader) are running on the device that originally installed it, and are decryptable by it.  The ownership restriction is intended to prevent malware installed on the device from reading data stored  on the device and relaying it insecurely, which it otherwise could (and does on rooted devices when people grant su permissions and install apps willy-nilly.)

 

I understand the intention is to prevent malware and copyright infringement, but what you write implies that applications running on Android have access to the key used to encrypt all applications. In other words, an installed application could modify, decrypt, and copy other applications on the phone. While I haven't studied the specific encryption mechanism, I can't believe that it would have been designed that way.

 

(Obviously we can ignore situations where people have superuser access as everything goes at that point and B&N does not provide root to end-users.)

 

I am kind of curious about fbsync. I had assumed FBReader had done something nice, like implement a Content Provider, but are you saying that FBReader merely left its database readable and you open it directly?

Distinguished Bibliophile
roustabout
Posts: 3,630
Registered: ‎03-31-2011
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Re: We live in an "entitlement" world

[ Edited ]

I have not looked at what's in the fbreader database, nor have I tried copying it off the device and to a computer to see if it can be queried there.  I also haven't done that with the aldiko database - there is a similar project for aldiko called aldikosync. 

 

Both projects involve stand-alone apps which require root to run, and which reach into the data of the reading program, pull your current positions, and synch them externally.  They also do the reverse on a second device - pull in the data, open the parent database, and update it with where you were last. 

 

Aldiko and FB Reader are both interested in making the functionality available to all users, so hopefully some version of the projects will get folded in at some point and root access to use the apps will no longer be needed.

 

I am not prepared to think that both FB Reader and Aldiko have ignored the android standard for encrypting their data at rest, Aldiko in particular because it stores login and DRM data. 

 

I think (I certainly don't know) that any app in Android has access to the decryption keys that are tied to the device, as your excerpt implied.  That is, your excerpt discussed device based encryption, not per-app encryption.

 

This would also explain why B-folders can charge 30 bucks for a local, independently encrypted database (often a  contacts database, but you can use it for what you like) stored on an Android device if you choose to set it up in such a way that you can sync it to the B-folders app on your computer.  If you just want the standalone database, it's free, and there's a 30 day free demo for your computer as well. 

 

Each time you open the B-folders database, you are required to input a password;  by default, the password remains valid for a period of time, then times out and you need to reenter to get access to your data again. (B folders also lets you import contact info from a Palm Pilot database, which is how I first came across it.) 

 

This seems to imply that the decryption keys for databases are normally available to the OS and are shared. 

"no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Reader 4
decemberroses
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-08-2011
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Re: Introducing NOOK Tablet!

Blah.  I just bought a Nook Color a few months ago and would have happily waited for the tablet for the same exact price had I had an inkling. I even researched for days before buying my NC and never saw anything about a tablet coming out so soon.

Distinguished Scribe
richardwrite25
Posts: 859
Registered: ‎03-12-2011
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Re: Introducing NOOK Tablet!

Allow me to spare you similar grief in the future:  Never buy any electronics device, because unless you buy it during the month when it's first release, there will always be a newer, better one just months down the road.

Reader 4
decemberroses
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎10-08-2011
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Re: Introducing NOOK Tablet!

True, Richard.