Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2012

Thought Police

Yesterday I watched a live blog of the reading of the trial verdict in Apple v Samsung. The trial was complex, and the jury had to break down each patent by device. In the end, Apple won the day. They didn't get everything they wanted, but in contrast, Samsung got nothing.

I'm sure there will be an appeal, and this whole mess will drag on for another year or so, but it certainly says a lot about the patent system in this country. After deciding if Samsung had violated Apple's patents, the jury had to answer the question of if they thought those patents were actually valid. In all cases they said 'yes'. By the same token they had to answer if Apple violated patents, and even though they said Apple did NOT violate Samsung's patents, they also upheld Samsung's patents as well.

My personal assessment of all of this is that you had a jury full of regular people, who frankly, could probably have cared less about the mountains of patent law that was presented to t…

Going native

This afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to see the announcement that Facebook for iOS has gone fully native. Previous to today, the Facebook app has been a viewer to HTML5 based content that was mostly functional, but slow. The old app was adequate, but not stellar. When I fired up the new app I was greeted with a much nicer user experience in regards to smoother scrolling, and cleaner animations. Overall, it was a positive change, although it still does nothing to combat the incredibly content heavy feed that Facebook shoves at your phone. At least I get smoother scrolling while I'm waiting for all my content to take forever to load.

But this all got me thinking about the how far we've come in regards to write-once-run-anywhere promises of the web of the early 2000's. For a big part of my IT career everything seemed to be focused on a movement to make HTML everywhere, a ubiquitous language that could present it's content to all corners of the ever-more-connected glo…

Trial and Errol?

So I've tried to avoid it for the past few weeks, but I think it's time to finally say something about the whole Apple vs. Samsung trial debacle. The trial has dominates the tech news cycle relentlessly for weeks, and it's become so much of a sideshow that it's almost embarrassing to our industry. Between the swashbuckling Errol Flynn antics of the lawyers that finally emboldened the judge to ask them if they were on crack, to the completely idiotic and clumsy Errol the owl (from Harry Potter) arguments and missteps, this trial has ranked right up there with the must-see TV drama of the OJ Simpson glove fiasco.

At the heart of the trial is the notion that Samsung, in it's desire to catch up to the skyrocketing Apple, decided to simply copy Apple's trademarked designs for it's own products, so that they would be more competitive at market. Combine this with the pre-4.0 Android habit of trying to constantly keep up with iOS, and you get the making of a trade…

Tune in... tune out... tune it up?

The other day I fired up my Apple TV, and BAM! (just like that, seriously my imagination made some serious noise) there was a new button waiting for me to press it. That button had the nice familiar title of Hulu Plus. I've seen Hulu Plus before, but it had been a while, and so I decided to use this new and strange development to re-educate myself on what Hulu Plus has to offer.

Upon first entering the Hulu Plus homepage on my computer I was greeted with a very attrative graphic of a TV showing all of the many shows I could be watching right now if I was only using Hulu Plus. I was starting to feel like I was missing something. Then right below this link was a big green button offering me a free week! A free week!!! I'd be a fool NOT to take advantage of that!! But wait.... can't I first take a look and see if there's anything I'd even want to watch? Sure enough in small... er... small print was a link to a listing of all the wonderful content that was awaiting my …

Kids and cellphones

In a previous post, I talked about my views of technology and kids. However, I wanted to revisit the issue because of a recent story I read on NBCNews.com. This story asked the question "Does your middle school child really need a cellphone?"

I wanted to address this article because I felt it missed the bigger picture in some areas. First, in defense of having a cell phone, a parent is interviewed talking about how they wanted their kid to have a cellphone because it made them feel like they could keep tabs on them wherever they went. However, this viewpoint often is seen as a helicopter parent trying too hard to be a part of every aspect of their kids lives. Although I know there is a trend by many parents to be quite overbearing, I think the idea of a parent wanting to know where their kids are is only natural. Cellphones just happen to be the tool of the day that helps with that problem. More on that in a moment...

The second point in the article is when they interview an…

Twice the factors equals twice the fun

This entry might be pretty basic for a lot of my techie companions, but since we've been talking about security recently, I thought it might be good to do a quick introduction to 2-factor authentication for those that aren't as familiar with it. At it's most basic level, 2-factor authentication is about two things; something you know, and something you have. Most of us are used to working with passwords to authenticate ourselves to various resources. This is the something we know portion of 2-factor authentication.

The problem with something we know is that as soon as someone else knows it... it's not a secret anymore, and not very useful for security purposes. When we add in something we have to get 2 factors of authentication it's no longer just about what we know, but what we have. Then, it's not as terrible if someone knows what we know, because they don't have what we have, so knowing what they know doesn't help them as much, unless of course they e…

Hack! Slash! Burn! Crush!!

The big tech news story of the weekend was the hacked account of Mat Honan. As documented in his posting on Wired.com, in the space of a few hours his digital life was in shambles. And as much as we always talk about strong passwords, etc., this was not a case of password failure. It was a case that shows just how our desire for on-demand, cloud based services that are convenient can come back to haunt us.

I highly suggest you go read all 4 pages of the article, but the quick summary is that a hacker wanted control of Mr. Honan's Twitter account. In order to get it, they started with basic social scouting, and proceeded to use all of the built-in tools of Google, Amazon and Apple to gain access to his accounts without ever needing to crack a single password. At Google they discovered what his Apple ID e-mail address was when they did a simple "Forgot my password" query. Then at Amazon, they called up customer service and game'd the system to get access to the last 4 …

This log was made for rolling, rolling, rolling....

So I promised a blog post about monitoring and alerting in IT systems, so here it is. As with most liberal arts snobs I have a 'personal philosophy' about how to do things the best way. This philosophy is broken down in to three different components, based upon two critera; timeliness and context. Timliness in terms of how quickly an event needs to be acted upon, and the context in which the event is applicable. Therefore, a holy trinity of monitoring allows IT professionals to get the best information possible for any given situation. After all... the more you know.....

First off is the most immediate in timeliness, that of immediate alerting. When a system is about to come crashing down, seconds are of the essence. It's in this context that immediate alarming and alerting allows 1st level responders to get in to a system at the first sign of trouble. With any luck, they can repair and cirvumvent any problems before the problem is noticed by the client. This type of alerti…

My how they grow

I've been getting a lot of lessons lately in how kids grow up. My oldest son turned 13 this year, and in combination with his growth spurt, he's growing in to quite the young man in other ways. In this modern era, a father needs to think about more than just kicking their butts in to a summer job. A good geek father needs to start thinking about their 'technological growth'. That growth begins with the most basic of tech needs, that of an email account.

Since I've had my own domain through Google for many years, even my youngest son has his own email account. But what has become even more useful lately is the advent of more and more cloud services. In particular, Google Docs and Dropbox. Since my kids spend time at two houses, having the ability for them to start working on homework at one house, save it to a cloud location, and then continue working on it at the other house, is a tremendous advantage. So cloud storage is a must for children of a geek, especially di…

Wii, wii, wii all the way home

I'm no stranger to game systems, having owned an Atari 2600, original NES, and played on a room-mate's SEGA. When my kids were young we got a Nintendo Gamecube (though it was really for my spouse and I at the time), and as they got bigger we graduated to a Nintendo Wii. My son has a Nintendo DSi, and we now own an Xbox 360. I recount this history, not to brag, since there's people with a lot more credentials than me, but to show that for the most part, Nintendo has been a major player in my gaming experience for a long, long time. Looking at the future though, I'm afraid that's going to change.

Recently, Nintendo announced their new upgrade to the Wii system. However, they decided to choose price-point over innovation, so the new Wii U is a bit of a disappointment when it comes to performance (at least according to reviews). But, the bigger issue seems to be that Nintendo doesn't quite 'get it' when it comes to gaming of the future. First, there's …