Monthly Archives: July 2013

Why We Can No Longer Trust Microsoft

So the first news I see regarding Microsoft today is that Ballmer refuses to talk about the company’s wearable computing strategy. My first thought was, "This is its priority? Wearable computers? So it can spy on your day-to-day activities?" The next story I read was about how Microsoft is going to reshuffle the organization, which prompted me to wonder, "Re-org? Why? So it can put some intelligence agency folks in charge?"

If Microsoft thinks it can ignore what is happening by whistling in the graveyard, it is in for a big surprise. The investors will be the first to get a clue, and the customers will follow.

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Microsoft is perfectly reasonable when it doesn’t care about the issue. Why should it, when the aforementioned governments don’t? It’s telling that the article was published in the PC Magazine and not Forbes or Wall Street Journal, where it was more likely to reflect genuine concern of investors. Politicians turn the problem into a joke and the American public doesn’t seem to care.

Free Justin Carter Now

In explaining to hostile parties the consequences of their positions, many of my fellow First Amendment absolutists stress that the price of maintaining the rights of those who deserve them is that silly or undesirable people will be protected by the Constitution, too. I object to this line of thinking, not only because it presumes to judge virtue, awarding our betters a claim to exclusive truth, but also because, as John Stuart Mill argued, free men must not be stripped of their right to hear what others have to say — however offensive.

An eloquent argument for releasing the teen that had been incarcerated for weeks for some reckless online chat.

The boy was recently released when anonymous donor paid $500,000 bail.

The Laws You Can’t See

As Eric Lichtblau reported in The Times on Sunday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has for years been developing what is effectively a secret and unchallenged body of law on core Fourth Amendment issues, producing lengthy classified rulings based on the arguments of the federal government — the only party allowed in the courtroom. In recent years, the court, originally established by Congress to approve wiretap orders, has extended its reach to consider requests related to nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks. Its rulings, some of which approach 100 pages, have established the court as a final arbiter in these matters.

US now has a court whose rulings are secret and which doesn’t have adversarial process. What’s more, even the summaries of the court’s rulings are classified.

Note that the article is signed by NY Times’ editorial board, not an individual – a sign that the newspaper takes this issue seriously.

Kremlin turns back to typewriters to avoid security leaks

Documents leaked by Snowden appeared to show that Britain spied on foreign delegates including then president Dmitry Medvedev at the 2009 London G20 meetings, said British newspaper The Guardian last month.

Russia was outraged by the revelations but said it had the means to protect itself.

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I wonder if this news is legitimate or is it another urban legend like the one about Soviets using pencils in their space missions instead of ball pens.

I understood gender discrimination once I added “Mr.” to my resume and landed a job

My first name is Kim. Technically, it’s gender neutral, but my experience showed that most people’s default setting in the absence of any other clues is to assume Kim is a woman’s name. And nothing else on my CV identified me as male. At first I thought I was being a little paranoid, but engineering, sales and management were all male-dominated industries. So I pictured all the managers I had over the years and, forming an amalgam of them in my mind, I read through the document as I imagined they would have. It was like being hit on the head with a big sheet of unbreakable glass ceiling.

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You probably know where it’s going after reading the title.

The 7-bit Internet

I’m writing this with the HTTP 2.0 draft in mind, which introduces undue complexity in the HTTP protocol to satisfy what are essentially the needs of a small group of very influential players1, but rather than trying to predict the future by looking into a crystal ball, you can see how this principle affects Web development by looking into a mirror pointed towards the present.

Why clarity of internet standard matters. Still, I think in this case the need for speed will eventually triumph.

A few words on Doug Engelbart

Engelbart had an intent, a goal, a mission. He stated it clearly and in depth. He intended to augment human intellect. He intended to boost collective intelligence and enable knowledge workers to think in powerful new ways, to collectively solve urgent global problems.The problem with saying that Engelbart "invented hypertext", or "invented video conferencing", is that you are attempting to make sense of the past using references to the present. "Hypertext" is a word that has a particular meaning for us today. By saying that Engelbart invented hypertext, you ascribe that meaning to Engelbart’s work.

Bret Victor, a visionary himself, explains why calling recently deceased Douglas Engelbart “the inventor of computer mouse” is a massive understatement.

Should You Write a Book?

What does a book do that a blog or Tweet can’t do?

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Starting with this profound rhetorical question, the article goes on and reduces book authorship to a token of status and a key to the “ideaplex” of media appearances and TED talks. Link via brush.

Apple’s security strategy: make it invisible

With the deep browser integration demonstrated at WWDC, it appears users won’t have to manage plugins or even click extra buttons to decide when they need to use the tool; it seems to pop up exactly when they need it, making it easier to use a Keychain-created password than manually enter one. That’s applying human design principles to solve a security problem and improve the overall user experience.

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Apple proving that security doesn’t have to be a hurdle for users. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about PRISM whenever I read about trusting my passwords to iCloud.