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@jholyhead I was referring to a different program, that I don't believe was ever ended. PacBell was providing access to all data and voice communications going through their switch, and VZ was supposedly also. Congress passed a law indemnifying them against any lawsuits that would arise from that program. They view all traffic, and they don't need to do that if they know who the suspected terrorist is - they can get a warrant to tap their line.
The technology does exist to analyze everything. Go read about the giant computer fams the NSA has built, and is currently constructing.
I do vote against politicians who support such programs, but they don't always win or care what I think, and there is no reason I have to be quiet about it. Screeching? Isn't that what you're doing?
And the blanket collection of meta data was never been deemed constitutional. They just do it.
1 week, 4 days ago on The banality of surveillance
Those public video images are very difficult to mine, and to use against political opponents. email threads, private conversations on Facebook, and documents stored on cloud servers are another story. And, since the government has access to all that data, and the government gets hacked daily, it also means your business secrets are not safe from competitors, either.
I wasn't surprised by the disclosure about VZ giving the government access to all of the phone conversations over a (recurring) 3-month period by Verizon, as there was a story 6 or 7 years ago about how PacBell (now ATT) was giving the government access to all communications through its switch in San Francisco. I assumed they continued this monitoring, both in California and across the country, and used data collected from those operations for many purposes (like, for example, "stumbling" on Elliot Spitzer's communications with an escort). You're minimizing the assault on the constitution, though, by saying it's no big deal, but it is. It's illegal search and seizure, and it's unconstitutional. If we continue to allow the constitution to be infringed, then we end up with no real legal system, just an infrastructure for doing whatever the current administration thinks it should do.
Blackberry doesn't attract the kind of fans that care that much. People who will buy one will do so when they need a new phone, not when they want one.
They'll sell a lot more devices when retro phones and pre-financial crisis nostalgia sweeps the nation.
1 week, 6 days ago on Slackberry
The problem isn't institutional investors, or activist investors - they need to stand up to the management of companies that typically operate to maximize their own compensation. Without specific knowledge of this company, I would only generalize and say the root cause of the problem is the giant megaphone that industry analysts have and abuse.
Analysts perform a necessary function - they should look at the performance and operations of a company and interpret it for shareholders. But that's where it should end. Too often, they publish opinions about how the company should be run - I always laugh when some guy who has never run a even a medium size company, let alone a giant like Amazon, says something like "Amazon's capital spending is $X billion dollars, which is 7% too much". As if they would know what is the correct amount for Amazon to invest. Or that their margins are too low, and they need to improve them. How would they possibly know what to do?
Analysts often call for the replacement of executives, based on who knows what, but that's not their job, nor an area of expertise (how many CEO's has the typical industry analyst hired or fired, or managed? I'm guessing zero.) That lack of experience doesn't stop the publishing of their opinions, where they are read by stock market speculators, who can drive a stock down within minutes of the analysts recommendations hitting the net.
So I don't think we should want less involved shareholders, but we need more capable ones.
Oh, and don't put Zuckerberg in the same class as Bezos, or other "brilliant tech founders". He may one day prove to be brilliant, but that day has not yet come (and I'll spare everyone my rant about how FB isn't a tech company).
2 weeks ago on Founders and their public market nightmares — the case of Mellanox
@Penenberg Yes, the government has used that law to selectively persecute, I mean prosecute, people in politically motivated cases. However, I can't see a business offering tools to specifically break the law, so unless somebody is lobbying for changes that would allow such revenge hacking, I don't see what's to worry about.
What am I saying! Of course there's something to worry about, that is precisely what could happen, given Congress's understanding of technology and their penchant to assign a higher priority and value to property rights over individual rights.
2 weeks, 6 days ago on Two copywrongs don’t make a copyright
"For example, the file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user’s computer could be locked down"
A recent article on computer security in the New Yorker (May 27, p.69) implies that kind of action is illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Maybe they'll make exceptions for Hollywood and other copyright owners.
A problem with the try-before-you buy concept with electronic products is that anything that is returned opened can no longer be sold as new. It gets put in the refurb bin, which sells for less than the new products. Since margins on every tech gadget except for high end smartphones are pretty thin, the cost of downgrading 4 units to refurbished to sell 1 new one would wipe out the margin.
Manufacturers can, and should, put a simulation of their products' UI on their website. That would at least give customers an idea of how they are to use. What we really need is holographic displays, that will make it easier for people to see what a product really looks like (and also create demand for 16-core phone/computers with 32 GB of memory).
2 weeks, 6 days ago on To sell connected devices, retailers should emulate Warby Parker
This, this piece is not a blog post. This is journalism, well done.
3 weeks ago on The talented Mr Green: How FWD.us lost New York, Elon Musk, and the tech moral high ground
@SeanWeinstock Go back into any office in the 90s and you'll find a Rolodex (Facebook) and post-its (twitter). Both were valuable, but it no way was the technology that powerful that it enabled the manufacturers of those products to be dominant, or even create new technology. I don't mean to diminish the value that FB and twitter have added, but rather that what they did create is in no way an indication of technological superiority or genius. They were in the right place at the right time with a good idea, and have only succeeded financially by scaling its adoption, and not by evolving into something more powerful.They (and their shareholders, with an obvious vested interest) can talk about how they want to expand their technology's reach, but they have not demonstrated any skill at that.
3 weeks, 1 day ago on The future according to John Doerr (Or: How Twitter can become the fifth big company in tech)
@davemholmes David, thanks for your response, not all writers are willing to do that.
I realize the four horsemen thing is not your creation, but you are perpetuating that myth. I think an argument could have been made about twitter becoming a bigger force in communications without reinforcing the legends of companies like twitter and facebook - when writers and historians in the future do research on the "tech" industry in 2013, they will come across articles and posts like yours and assume that Facebook and twitter were equals of the much more innovative, and influential, real tech companies.
Yes, what matters is not who makes the most money or what company is the most innovative (although I would expect that those would be important to a "horseman" of tech), but rather the impact on the rest of the technology ecosystem. Facebook and twitter not only generate a lot of noise, but they motivate the creation of other companies to generate more noise, but most likely will not succeed. While Apple's "invention" of the App Store led to hundreds of thousands of app developers, few will end up being more than lifestyle firms, and the net result is that it has greatly devalued the software applications (they used to be called programs) industry. However, some of those companies will grow and be profitable; I doubt if any of the companies that FB and twitter inspire will yield similar results, so I find it hard to grant them the status of a massive influence on the tech world, which is a characteristic I think all tech giants should share.
The telephone was universally adopted and necessary for virtually every business and family, up until the internet became ubiquitous. Twitter? I get by fine without it. Worst case, I hear late breaking news five minutes later than twitter followers hear it. I mean, how much information can you disseminate in 140 characters?
First of all, Facebook is not a tech giant. Not even close. They shouldn't be mentioned in the same class as the other three companies, all of which are far bigger and more diverse, and contribute more in a week to the world's cumulative knowledge than Facebook does in a year.. Facebook hasn't really added anything of value (and that's a stretch) to society since its introduction - unless you consider Timeline innovation.
And while you're far from the only person to talk about the "four" tech superstars, it's really absurd to leave out so many others - you know, GE, IBM, Samsung, etc.(and I a m no fan of these monsters) - that actually advance technology far more each year than these companies, and probably impact the lives of as many people. Really, what great new service has Facebook unleashed upon the world since its birth?
But now you're even topping that by bringing up twitter, the world's biggest noise generator. Seriously, what great technology do they have? They had a good idea, but the technology - broadcast short messages to a list of subscribers - is trivial. Is the adulation of mediocrity just another manifestation of the "everybody deserves a trophy" self esteem inflation created by the overindulgent baby boomer parents?
Twitter is not a pillar of tech, no more so than air fresheners are in the automotive industry. Congratulations to their founders for (maybe) getting a giant exit one day from an idea they thought might be useful, but please don't lose perspective.
And I know a bunch of you will roll your eyes at one more of my "websites are not tech companies" comments, but twitter is no more of a tech company than the NY Times. They both employ lots of engineers, but neither sells technology. FedEx and UPS both employ lots of engineers and programmers and have utilized tech every bit as much as twitter to make it easier to deliver stuff faster and more efficiently. Are they tech companies? They have websites. If twitter and Facebook are tech companies, so is just about every company with more than 100 employees.
@Yeshe Zhonnu Why is it "so much more classy"? It's a choice, but you're assigning a value, and essentially saying Bryan is classless. I take strong exceptions to many of his posts, but would not describe him that way (I rarely would use that word anyway). I realize some writers can't respond to comments on their blogs due to sheer volume, but I give credit to those who defend their position, even if I think it's defenseless.
A great thing about the web is its bi-directional flow of information and ideas. It's a giant advantage over the paper media, where the gods spoke and everyone bowed.
And by contrasting him with Krugman, I don't think you are going to make a point with him.
3 weeks, 2 days ago on California aspires to mediocrity — It’s almost there
@bgoldberg My point was that you said you didn't own a car and didn't use public transportation. Only a small percentage of companies/people can actually get away with that. If you had kids at that time, that would have been virtually impossible.
I started a small (HW) company in Southern California. I can't find the talent I need here, they are mostly located in the Valley. They really don't exist in numbers in those small states in the middle of nowhere that you talk about. And most of the ones that do live there are unwilling to take on the risk of joining a small startup. Hence, I have to pay the price of high paid workers in high cost of living areas.
California costs a lot because a lot of people want to live here. The cost of housing is a core cost of everything for most areas - people have to live near where they work for lots of jobs, especially in the government. That means that those governments have to pay more to attract talent (for an example of what happens when the government cannot pay enough to get really knowledgeable workers, look at all the patents that never should have been granted). When housing costs a lot, and transportation costs a lot, and food costs a lot, government is going to cost a lot. It's math.
If you think NY is cheap compared to CA, just wait a few months. Not many people who live there thinks its all that cheap.
@bgoldberg Right, we don't know how it will turn out, so you should save the criticism (unless you have suggestions on how to fix it beyond tear it all down) until you know.
I know of many people who started companies in CA, and when they were acquired, moved their legal residence to Nevada before they sold their shares of the new company. That was a big FY to CA. Yes, the tax rate is high, but that's because so many people want to live here. Maybe they don't all contribute to the economy at the same level as some founders do, but most are part of a large ecosystem that enables the creation and success of so many companies.
While web companies can be started almost anywhere, the companies that comprised Silicon Valley required talent and skills that were not available at scale in many places. The cost of building such an ecosystem is not necessary linear; people who live in small towns in the middle of nowhere don't understand that the cost of running a city of 1M people is not 100 times the cost of running a town of 10,000 people. It isn't that simple, and that's the price you pay for building a community that supports the evolution of a place like Silicon Valley.
@bgoldberg You didn't own a car and didn't use public transportation. So did friends drive you around, or did you mostly walk everywhere? I don't know many people who live outside of very urban areas that can get by without a car. And while companies in sF may employ people who didn't drive to work, the companies in the real Silicon Valley (San Jose to the peninsula) had hundreds of thousands of employees that drove to work.
And while starting Bleacher Report was an impressive feat, what is even more impressive (and that nobody talks about) is how hardly any of your employees were educated at public schools or drove to work or used public transportation. Obviously, you didn't write everything on BR, nor did you write all that "code", I'm guessing the people who did all figured it out on their own, or had parents that could afford private school.
@bgoldberg Yeah, California is really going to miss out on an innovative new blog. Boo-hoo.
I'm glad to hear you're happy with the service of NYC. That isn't going to last long, and I'm guessing you will never blog about it when the city or the state pisses you off.
"Is the Internet of things the future of narcissism?"
Nah, that will still be facebook and twitter, at least until some other "tech genius" comes up with an even more obnoxious source of noise. the IoT are just tools, how they are used is up to the user. You can use a fitness monitor without broadcasting your results.
3 weeks, 5 days ago on Is the Internet of Things the future of narcissism?
"Packer falls into the same trap – or, depending on how you look at it, deploys the same cynical rhetorical artillery – as Evgeny Morozov, artful academic master of the straw-man take-down."
I love it when a writer kills two birds with one stone.
One reason why startups that are addressing big real world problems don't get as much attention as those that solve the problems of rich 20-year olds is because solving big real world problems is real hard, much harder than using the web to turn the income of drivers for hire into a race to the bottom.
4 weeks, 1 day ago on Yes, the Valley can be vacuous – but it’s more complicated than the New Yorker would have us believe
As a parent of millennials, I have a different take on it:
“Millennials still live off their parents until late in life…” That's because the economy is the worst it has been since before I was born, and income distribution is such that entry level jobs that even college educated millennials can get don't pay enough to live on in many cities in the U.S. This is not the fault of the millennials, but of the generations before them.
“Millennials don’t know what to do with their careers…” It's not like careers are so well defined any more. They are coming of age just when the internet has obsoleted so many business models and occupations.
“Everybody In the Millennial generation wants a trophy…” - if they do, it's because they were trained by their baby boomer or gen x parents to expect them. It was all I could do to not vomit to watch my kids get trophies just for showing up.
“Millennials start companies because they don’t want real jobs…” Can you blame them? The management of most big companies believes in compartmentalizing most jobs so that everyone is replaceable - maybe a good goal, but it makes the work boring as hell and makes a farce of the idea of company loyalty.
There is no problem with millennials - the problem is a poorly designed economic and political system that, for the first time in the history of the U.S., a generation is not better off than their parents. If that changes, it will only be because you guys were able to fix it. Good luck.
1 month ago on Stop bitching about Millennials
@vFunct Wow, I don't know how you draw your conclusions, but they're not very accurate. And a nice ass-kiss to the PD staff.
I'm not suggesting that talent is common, only that it isn't as rare as the available slots out there. If you think that the lack of quality content on the web is due to lack of talent, and not business models that value quantity over quality, then I will stop wasting my time.
I'm sure Ms. Moss is unique to her and her friends and family, but as a marketing vehicle, there can be many others. Marketing machines can create new ones; if she quit today, there would be a line of replacements ready to take her place, and whoever the system anointed would succeed.
If you have read just some of my comments over the years, you would know that I don't believe everyone is capable of succeeding. I don't believe all men are created equal. Not even close, if that was the case, I would have been a pitcher for the Dodgers and a point guard for the Lakers. But I could have worked at it 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for 20 years and it wouldn't have happened. Nor do I think I could be part of that media machine, but I'm not saying anything remotely like that. I'm sure you are an unequaled arbiter of quality, so I will stop wasting m,y time trying to convince you there are more talented content creators out there than the system needs.
1 month, 1 week ago on Sorry, ‘Snow Fall’ isn’t going to save the New York Times