Gongol.com Archives: 2015 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

June 6, 2015

Threats and Hazards Russian President Putin blames Ukranian crisis squarely on US and Europe

Broadcasting Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - June 6, 2015

June 5, 2015

Computers and the Internet 4 million Federal employees -- past and present -- now victims of cyberattack
The Federal government is pointing fingers at China, and that's not something that's done lightly. This is war, just without the gunfire.

Computers and the Internet What's Google's future, anyway?
Eric Schmidt thinks the company's moon shots might be the key

Computers and the Internet A major Twitter shareholder posits his thoughts on breaking out
The service is too daunting to those who aren't regular users -- the author says a billion people have signed up and then quit

Threats and Hazards Social engineering attacks target Iowans
People are being bullied into thinking their utilities are going to be cut off, and the criminals are extorting payments via credit or prepaid cards. It's not necessarily all that high-tech an attack, and it exploits the weak link in a lot of technological systems: People. One would think the payments should be traceable, but perhaps there are enough steps through gray areas to give cover to the crooks. MidAmerican Energy says the evildoers are even spoofing the company's Caller ID.

News A positive and spontaneous human response
A man was rescued from beneath a bus because bystanders took action and signalled to others that aid was needed. We are herd animals, and it should come as no surprise that most people follow the crowd -- we'd never have survived anthropologically if everyone always went off on their own. But we also need a certain proportion -- perhaps one in fifteen or twenty -- who are capable of walking straight into the headwinds of social pressure and doing whatever they judge best, regardless of the consequences. We need just enough of us to be excessively confident and resistant to social pressure -- but still with a strong moral compass -- that when things start to go wrong, there's someone around for others to follow. To an extent, perhaps the difference between a sociopath and a great leader is empathy: Both carry on regardless of social pressures, but the leader does so out of empathy for others. It's been suggested that ego resilience is a particular trait of those who do heroic things.

June 4, 2015

Business and Finance Stop talking about "new rules of work"
Every time someone writes a list of "the new rules of work", the soul is trampled just a little. Certain circumstances of work always have evolved and always will, but for the most part, the fundamentals of work really aren't any different than they have ever been. The "new rules" are mainly just trivial details.

Business and Finance Privatization isn't dead
The UK government plans to sell off its remaining shares in the Royal Mail. 70% has already been privatized; the remaining 30% is about to go on sale.

Computers and the Internet Google tries to do with Android what Microsoft did with Windows years ago
The more your platform becomes the universal conduit for commercial activity, the better your prospects

Threats and Hazards Ukraine fears a full-scale Russian invasion in the near future
And here's the nightmare scenario: Russia goes ahead and invades, the West responds to repel the invasion, and it gets spun in Russia as though the West is invading Russia. And yet, for what purpose is there even such a thing as NATO if it doesn't stand up against the threat of invasion?

Business and Finance IMF wants the Federal Reserve to wait on raising interest rates
On the macro scale, the IMF is worried about what dominoes might fall if the US economy isn't propped up even longer

June 3, 2015

The United States of America A perspective on being the world's sole superpower
Some intriguing insight from Ian Bremmer

Broadcasting ABC's "World News Tonight" is doing well in the ratings by emphasizing the visual
The future belongs to whomever can tell the important stories in a compelling manner. When we make the important stories boring and elevate the trivial (as it's being not-so-subtly suggested that ABC is doing), we move in the wrong direction. What is visually compelling isn't necessarily good journalism. Moreover, it's up to good storytellers to find the novel and original in the world and bring them to people in a serendipitous fashion. When we lose serendipity, we lose a great deal. Synthesis is really the foundation for understanding great things.

Computers and the Internet "Best" is a terrible way to close an email

Threats and Hazards The FBI is flying creepy surveillance planes over American cities
How are people supposed to recognize and report real threatening behavior when the government does exactly the kinds of things that people are supposed to report?

Computers and the Internet Facebook will build a third data center in Altoona, Iowa
Cheap, reliable power; a low cost of land; a central location away from most natural disasters; a high-quality workforce. All contribute to making Central Iowa an attractive place to build a data center.

June 2, 2015

Threats and Hazards Absolutely miserable failure rate by the TSA
Good security comes from having many low-friction layers that aggregate to a high level of security, rather than a single and highly obtrusive system in which we vest all of our hopes

Business and Finance On real professionalism
People abuse the word "professional" -- applying it to suggest a higher level of quality. In reality, professionalism is about following a certain code of ethics. In return for being compensated well, you agree to put the client's needs first. The story of a 99-year-old financial adviser is a good example.

News Russia plans a new $5 billion aircraft carrier

Computers and the Internet Google, Apple, and now Facebook trend toward higher levels of encryption for regular users

Broadcasting "Altruism pornography"
A good way to describe some of the exploitations of poor people for the amusement of television

June 1, 2015

Computers and the Internet $537 million fundraising round at Snapchat concludes
Based upon the proportional ownership involved, that means someone thinks the company is worth $16 billion

Science and Technology A near-perfect recharge of a battery?
Research at the University of Waterloo may have found a way to make lithium-oxygen and sodium-oxygen batteries work, which would make energy storage cheaper and more portable than now

Computers and the Internet Teach yourself programming

Computers and the Internet One person's trash is another person's $200,000 antique computer

News Neverland Ranch is up for a $100 million sale
That gets the lucky buyer a 12,000-square-foot home, 21 other buildings, and 2,700 acres. Or you could buy 12,590 acres of Iowa farmland at last year's average per-acre price of $7,943 (that's about 20 square miles of productive land).