Wise Guys on WHO Radio - August 22, 2015
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
In the news this week
Red-light camera company engaged in corruption
Former CEO pleads guilty to a $2 million deal
An argument for Google to buy Twitter
Computerized reconstruction of murder victim's face closes cold case
The value of a tool like that is hard to quantify, but psychologically huge
How to make the shrugging guy emoticon
Why you should even back up your cloud-based data
A freak incident wiped out some data stored on Google cloud servers
An example of anything but transparency
The State Department just "found" thousands of emails it said did not exist
A tool for the compulsive over-sharer
A site called "My Social Book" will convert an individual's Facebook feed into a printed bok. Sure, it's appealing in a sense to have a personalized journal. But if you share enough on Facebook to fill an actual book, it's time to pump the brakes. Over-sharing on Facebook can lead to identity theft, among other serious personal hazards.
A bad sign for late-night television
If television stations are rebroadcasting old episodes of the Johnny Carson-era "Tonight Show", then someone really needs to work on talent development for today's broadcasters. Carson was a genius, no doubt -- but why hasn't anyone with comparable talent emerged in the 23 years since the show left the air?
Natural gas prices versus Chinese labor costs
The decline in the price of natural gas is making American electricity extra-cheap. Meanwhile, the cost of labor is rising in China. These factors mean that the overall cost of manufacturing in the United States is now within rounding error of that in China, and is likely to be in an advantageous positin within a couple of years.
Android Marshmallow is out for developers
The latest iteration of Google's operating system for mobile devices is ready for the last major step before public use
"Knowledge wins: Public library books are free"
A terrific war poster just as accurate today as a century ago
The robotic lawn mower is finally coming to America
FCC finally approves an exemption for iRobot (makers of the Roomba) to use low-power radio signals to control the mowers. Honda already sells robotic mowers in the UK, so the technology isn't entirely new. Overall, the less time human beings spend on silly tasks like lawn mowing, the better.
Apple puts TV service on hold
Negotiating distribution deals is turning out to be harder than expected
Using business jets to deliver scheduled flight service
A look inside Amazon.com's brutal workplace
The crime isn't justified just because you don't like the victim
Some selected observations on the Ashley Madison hacking incident:
- While it is next to impossible to have any sympathy for people who were paying to sign up for a website that would enable them to cheat on their faithful spouses, the Ashley Madison hack isn't at all a good thing.
- First off, we don't know who's actually behind the hack. Supposedly moralistic goals are no justification for using criminal means.
- In fact, we have no guarantee but this wasn't the work of some seriously awful group like ISIS or the Syrian Electronic Army. It's entirely possible they were practicing to see what kind of information they could obtain from poorly-secured websites. By choosing an unsavory target, they could count on a sense of moral outrage to give them a little bit of cover from the kind of scrutiny and and condemnation they should have received from doing it (imagine if someone hacked the donor lists to the American Red Cross and treated them in the same way as the Ashley Madison client list).
- Moreover, this illustrates the fact that there an enormous number of people who don't know the very first thing about protecting their identities and preserving anonymity while online. Anyone who isn't bright enough to know how to use a burner email address, or to use a prepaid debit card for purchases that they want to keep secret from others are just about too stupid to be allowed outdoors in the sunlight.
- There are perfectly legitimate reasons why you might want to hide some transactions from someone like a spouse. For instance, you wouldn't want to make an obvious Christmas purchase on a jointly-held credit card if you knew that your spouse got regular alerts on spending. Nor would a guy necessarily want his girlfriend to know he had purchased an engagement ring.
- Whatever you think of the Ashley Madison clients (and I certainly don't think highly of them), don't make the mistake of celebrating their exposure via these illegal means. We all have legitimate reasons to expect privacy in the world (you do have curtains on your windows, don't you?), and we shouldn't be blinded to the consequences of illegality just because we don't like the victims of the crime.
Your role in cyberwar
Street-smart social media
There seems to be a consensus emerging among technology observers who think that Google is preparing to give up on Google Plus. They have certainly changed things by removing the requirement that YouTube users go through Google+ in order to upload or comment on videos. But that's not the same as killing the project. They're probably just going to try re-tooling it yet again, likely with a business and marketing focus.
Gadget of the week
You ought to follow...
Dispatches from the flying-car future
Brian's Big Picture
Politics of technology
Listen again on-demand
- Podcast of this episode (forthcoming)