Saturday, December 4, 2021

Autonomous Cars... Unfortunately Not Gonna Solve Real World Problems

Once, people thought fast highways would improve efficiency and erase traffic congestion and accidents. After these highways were actually built, however, induced demand quickly clogged them up, as people took advantage of the new roads to make new trips that they didn’t make before. Futurama -- not the show, the exhibition -- made this point.

If -- a big "if" -- autonomous vehicles do eventually arrive, they risk introducing a more dangerous version of the same phenomenon. Not only will efficient autonomous motorways tempt people to drive further, but the ability to work -- or even sleep -- while travelling will make people think much less of a long commute.

Cars might also become less energy-efficient as they’re modified to meet the demands of users. Electric vehicles carry heavy (and in the case of Lithium Ion batteries, more dangerous) their power supply with them. Passengers may run them at higher speeds because the cars themselves may be safer, but this consumes more energy due to aerodynamic resistance. Car manufacturers may also begin to design larger vehicles to accommodate mobile offices. 

In the autonomous vehicle utopia, we are told self-driving cars will be shared, rather than owned privately. Admittedly this would be a more sustainable option, but, unfortunately, people get attached to their cars. They like having a vehicle that is instantly available, that they can use as a mobile storage locker, and that signals their social status. While Uber, Lyft and other services show people appreciate the convenience of summoning a lift from an app, it is doubtful such services will replace private vehicle ownership.

One model being explored in Europe sees the autonomous vehicle collect you up on your way to an appointment, more in the style of a last-mile shuttle for public transit. It would move slowly but comfortably, picking up multiple passengers on its way to the local transit hub, where you would board a fast and efficient light rail line. You would still arrive at your destination with time to spare.

Of course, in all likelihood, autonomous vehicles will only become a niche product. Watch the video...

Friday, November 26, 2021

Crypto-Currencies are not “crypto”

The name “crypto-currency” has been attached to Bitcoin and a host of online, blockchain based exchange units … but where’s the “crypto” aspect? 

The realm of information security must "reclaim" the word crypto from people who trade in Bitcoins and other digital currencies, according to industry veteran Bruce Schneier.
"I have long been annoyed that the word 'crypto' has been co-opted by the blockchain people, and no longer refers to 'cryptography'," blogged Schneier in a brief post
Look up the word “crypto” in many dictionaries to learn it refers to cryptography, which in turn is defined as “the computerized encoding and decoding of information”. Search “crypto” on Google, however, and you’ll see a host of top results pointing to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

This lexical shift has weighed heavily on cryptographers, who, over the past few years, have repeated the rallying cry “Crypto means cryptography” on social media. 

Read more over at the Guardian

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Steve Jobs Credited VisiCalc with Triggering Apple's Success

VisiCalc made spreadsheets key to initial personal computer success (Apple IIe). Later, desktop publishing with the Mac. Then, hypertext and the www with the NeXT. Finally, mobile computing with the iPhone and iPad

Steve Jobs was very clear in how crucial it was to the early success of Apple. "If Visicalc had been written for some other computer," he told his interviewer in 1990, "you'd be interviewing somebody else right now."

Monday, November 1, 2021

Government overreacting -- and over-reaching -- subpoenaed data a comms app doesn’t have

According to a post on the Signal blog, a federal grand jury in the Central District of California has subpoena'd Signal for a whole pile of user data, like subscriber information, financial information, transaction histories, communications, and more. HotHardware reports: The thing is, the subpoena is moot: Signal simply doesn't have the data to provide

The company can't provide any of the data that the grand jury is asking for because, as the company itself notes, "Signal doesn't have access to your messages, your chat list, your groups, your contacts, your stickers, [or] your profile name or avatar." The only things that Signal can offer up to the court are Unix timestamps for when the accounts in question were created and last accessed the service. 

Read more here:

Monday, October 18, 2021

Why Being a Generalist Helps with Cloud Architecture

The focus of this article makes sense -- cloud architects benefit from being generalists. It pays to be aware of a plethora of technology solutions, not just cloud-based options. Understanding a mix of traditional enterprise systems, networking, security, governance, augments cloud-based solutioning. If one can understand how all the pieces fit together -- that’s best for a client organization.