An article I read recently described the outright animosity experienced by a reporter on a long-term evaluation of Google Glass. I learned a new word from the article, one directed (openly) at the author: Glasshole. The article was shared with me on Facebook by a friend, who made reference of another word I’d just learned: Bluedouche (someone who wears a bluetooth earpiece in the presence of other people, whether they are actually on a phone conversation or not). I’ll bet you that at the turn of the 20th century, people weren’t being called names by showing up at parties with timepieces strapped to their wrists.
It served to remind me—as if I needed reminding—that a lot of people are still distrustful, distracted and outright frightened of technology. Still. In 2014. Continue reading
The news of the past week has been filled with the revelation by an ex-CIA employee of the project called PRISM, in which the government has unfettered access to Americans’ phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, etc, in order to catch threats to national security.
As I suggested in a previous post, Americans have short memories. Even this close to the Boston Marathon bombing, after which we were treated to the sight of the Tsarnevs killed or captured by police and federal authorities, to the standing ovations of Boston citizens… those same citizens now cry “Big Brother!” and cite privacy issues in our government’s monitoring our communications. Continue reading
Last week’s nightmare in Boston makes for an interesting argument about the state of security in the United States at the moment, and the value in improving that security for all American citizens. Though it’s hard to say the bombing at the Boston Marathon wouldn’t have happened if security had been tighter, it is easy to say it would have been significantly more difficult to have happened… that the perpetrators would have been likely captured or killed sooner… and that the American public is behind law enforcement when it comes to protecting our skins. Continue reading
The use of flying surveillance drones is beginning to move from the battlefield to our domestic shores. Not surprisingly, it is stirring up plenty of controversy.
Some of the concern reflects the present use of drones in battle areas. Equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment and lethal munitions, military drones are sent on reconnaissance and surgical kill missions against military targets, leaders and terrorists. Which all sounds fine in a battle situation (even if they still result in some collateral damage); but what about in the USA? Some citizens are concerned that Americans in the US would be singled out as targets for military-grade drones to attack, and they question whether an American citizen determined to be a threat against other Americans should be surgically killed on American soil.
Okay… that’s not entirely true. The real concern American citizens have is that our government, not being infallible, will be told by some anonymous or insane source that one of us law-abiding citizens is a terrorist; and that the government, not questioning or investigating said information, will fire off a drone to take us out on our way to Burger King. Continue reading
Though many have doubts that biometric technology will become the prevailing ID technology of the future, replacing passwords and PIN numbers… it’s already being rolled out. In some places, it’s been active for a decade.
Palm vein ID technology, a system most Americans are not yet familiar with, has been gaining in usage and popularity abroad, and now beginning to reach domestic shores. Palm vein technology uses an infrared scanner to identify the veins inside one’s hand, compare it to a complex algorithm of data points, and okay (or decline) the user. The system has been tested extensively, demonstrating a .0001% error rate in over 75,000 user tests. (More info here and here.)Continue reading
A recent thesis by Stefan Larsson, entitled “Metaphors and Norms – Understanding Copyright Law in a Digital Society,” received a lot of attention for examining the metaphors being used to quantify digital products like ebooks, MP3 files, etc. The thesis asserts that the many problems holding the ebook industry from a stable, sustainable state have been the result of applying the wrong metaphors to ebooks, for instance, comparing it to physical goods like printed books, to limited data like an email, or public presentations like a website.
In the arena of ebooks, that discussion has predictably covered a lot of apropos and inapropos territory, effectively providing plenty of evidence in Larsson’s assertion; but thanks to his well-informed attack of the problem of recognizing digital products, quite a bit of the discussion about and following the thesis has been exceedingly intelligent and well-considered. Continue reading
Ever since it was discovered that people could send information encased in arranged groups of electrons, a realization about the nature of that information began to set in: It was no longer as secure as it had been before.
Workable security for the American West.
Physical objects were easy to keep track of and catalog. They were harder to replicate, which made it easier to control their numbers. Large numbers were correspondingly harder to move, or lose, than smaller numbers. And they could be locked in a coherent space, with no chance of somehow seeping through the cracks and escaping. But the new digital file presented a problem that was as far beyond the constraints of physical objects, as a horse would be compared to a slug. And whereas you can confine a group of slugs with the simple expedient of encircling them with salt, you need a considerably more sophisticated method to corral a herd of horses. Continue reading