Tag Archive: Technology


Almost three years ago, millions of Internet users joined together to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a disastrous bill that would have balkanized the Internet in the name of copyright and trademark enforcement. Over the past week, we’ve been tracking a host of revelations about an insidious campaign to accomplish the goals of SOPA by other means. The latest development: Google has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of an overbroad and punitive subpoena seeking an extraordinary quantity of information about the company and its users. The subpoena, Google warns, is based on legal theories that could have disastrous consequences for the open Internet.

The subpoena was issued after months of battles between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. According to the lawsuit, Hood has been using his office to pressure Google to restrict content accessible through the search engine.  Indeed, among other things, he sought “a “24-hour link through which attorneys general[]” can request that links to particular websites be removed from search results “within hours,” presumably without judicial review or an opportunity for operators of the target websites to be heard.”  As Google states, “The Attorney General may prefer a pre-filtered Internet—but the Constitution and Congress have denied him the authority to mandate it.” [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-12i – Michael’s Blog

A map that shows the growth of New York City from 1626 to the present day tells a lot of stories about American history. How the Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam became the English colony of New York, only to be recaptured and renamed Nieuw-Orange. How the great manors of New York were incorporated into cities. And how the cities of New York and Brooklyn (formerly Breucklyn) grew by annexation until they were consolidated as with Long Island, Queens, and Staten Island.

The graphic simplicity of MapStory’s geographic history of New York City belies an incredible challenge. Collating city records that span centuries, colonies, wars, and states is no mean feat, but MapStory makes it look easy. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Tx – Michael’s Blog

Most commentary about the Internet of Things assumes that we sacrifice privacy and security for huge efficiency gains. But what if the notion underlying that tradeoff — the idea that more connectivity always means greater efficiency — is flawed? What if indiscriminate information sharing has the same drawbacks with devices as it does with people?

Research shows, after all, that privacy is a source of productivity in organizations. And excessive transparency — in a totally open work environment, for example — makes us less productive and squashes creative problem solving. When we know we’re being closely monitored, we tend to stick to protocol, even when it’s inefficient. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-S0 – Michael’s Blog

Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sparked a firestorm of criticism for comments he made at a women-in-tech conference in which he suggested that employees who feel underpaid should wait it out rather than ask for more money. But he went even further, saying something many headlines missed: a woman who doesn’t ask for a raise, he added, is “the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to.” Executive to pushy women who ask for more: Could you not?

The backlash was so swift and severe that he had issued a backpedaling e-mail by the end of the business day. While he didn’t apologize, he did reverse his position—now he claims to be pro–asking for more money. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-LR – Michael’s Blog

In July, researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell announced that they’d found a critical security flaw they called BadUSB, allowing attackers to smuggle malware on the devices effectively undetected. Even worse, there didn’t seem to be a clear fix for the attack. Anyone who plugged in a USB stick was opening themselves up to the attack, and because the bad code was residing in USB firmware, it was hard to protect against it without completely redesigning the system. The only good news was that Nohl and Lell didn’t publish the code, so the industry had some time to prepare for a world without USB. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-IM – Michael’s Blog

I don’t recall ever being told that my father had been murdered. I have no memory of a day when my mother sat me down and slowly and carefully unwound the story of how he had been reckless with his life and that he had been murdered as a result of it. I don’t recall her telling me about the other woman … about that woman’s husband shooting my father.

His death … his murder, which occurred in 1973, long before the invention of the Internet, has been as much my story, in some ways, as it was his own.

Being the daughter of a man embroiled in scandal, infidelity and ultimately life-ending violence defines you in ways beyond comprehension.

As a young girl, when introduced to a friend’s parents, there was no mistaking that faraway look in their eyes as they tried to recall why it was that my last name raised a feeling of alarm. This was typically followed by a wave of recognition, when their memory brought back pieces of my story. Their eyes said what they could not say aloud: “Oh … she’s the daughter of the man who was murdered by his best friend,” followed by the struggle to decide whether or not they should allow their child to be friends with me at all. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-H7 – Michael’s Blog

Electric vehicles are cool. They’re inexpensive to operate, can make our air cleaner, and help reduce the amount of climate change-causing gases released into the atmosphere. But right now, they’re also mostly just for rich people. The initial cost of buying the car, combined with their limited availability, is just too much for most people to justify making the switch.

That could soon change, though, because investment pundits think that Tesla Motors is on the verge of achieving something big: A battery cheap enough to make electric vehicles cost-competitive with conventional cars. Daniel Sparks at Motley Fool is reporting that the company is on the right track towards developing a battery that costs only $100 per kilowatt-hour — a cost widely believed to be the threshold where electric vehicles can finally be cost-competitive. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Aw – Michael’s Blog

Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger as it’s now known, will be fully retired on October 31st. The software maker originally announced its plans to shift users over to Skype last year, but Microsoft kept the service running in China. After October 31st Chinese Messenger users will need to use Skype, bringing an end to 15 years of the service. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-zA – Michael’s Blog

Apple is reportedly planning to start production on its largest ever iPad, offering customers a screen size more usually associated with laptop computers than with tablets.

While the iPad Mini and iPad Air currently clock in with screen sizes of 7.9-inches and 9.7-inches diagonally, the new model will have a screen size of 12.9-inches, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The news seems counter-intuitive, as tablet sales have slowed across the industry with only smaller models providing any growth. Apple’s iPad sales were down 9 per cent year on year in the most recent quarter, with only 13.3 million devices sold – compared to the 14.4m predicted by analysts. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-z2 – Michael’s Blog

‘Be careful what you wish for,” runs the adage. “You might just get it.” In the case of the internet, or, at any rate, the world wide web, this is exactly what happened. We wanted exciting services – email, blogging, social networking, image hosting – that were “free”. And we got them. What we also got, but hadn’t bargained for, was deep, intensive and persistent surveillance of everything we do online.

We ought to have known that it would happen. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all. Online services cost a bomb to provide: code has to be written (by programmers who have to be paid); servers have to be bought or rented, powered, housed, cooled and maintained; bandwidth has to be paid for; and so on. So there were basically only two business models that could have supported our desires. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-xB – Michael’s Blog

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