Friday, December 28, 2018

Huawei - Security Threat For Many Reasons

The Chinese firm Huawei is the world’s largest manufacturer of networking gear such as base stations and antennas that mobile operators use to run wireless networks. Those networks carry data that are used to help control power grids, financial markets, transport systems, and other parts of countries’ vital infrastructure. The fear is that China’s military and intelligence services could insert software or hardware “back doors” into Huawei’s gear.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Passengers are using Self-Driving Cars in California

Self-driving car startup Zoox won permission Friday to start offering rides to passengers in California. Zoox will submit information to the commission on the number of passenger miles traveled in the test cars and any incidents that occur, along with pollution and safety data.

It's a milestone in the race to make autonomous vehicles safe and comfortable enough to be trusted by lawmakers and the public at large.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Having Trouble Finding Cloud Talent?

Talent capable of navigating the intricacies of cloud computing is in short supply in  the Washington, D.C., New York, Austin, Boston, Miami, and other areas; ares that are notnot traditionally thought to have a Tier 1 technology aspirations. Training in-house IT staff can take months or even years, at no small investment.

The objective then becomes to hire outside of the company or to use consultants—or both. This means that the consulting firms are also seeking the same people you are, making the demand go up everywhere at the same time.

How to manage? Many believe a combination of building in-house capabilities balanced with outside consultants can fill the gap.

This Read more here...

Friday, December 21, 2018

Quantum Teleportation

From SlashDot... A  team of researchers from Austria, Italy and Sweden has successfully demonstrated teleportation using on-demand photons from quantum dots. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group explains how they accomplished this feat and how it applies to future quantum communications networks. Scientists and many others are very interested in developing truly quantum communications networks -- it is believed that such networks will be safe from hacking or eavesdropping due to their very nature. But, as the researchers with this new effort point out, there are still some problems standing in the way. One of these is the difficulty in amplifying quantum signals. One way to get around this problem, they note, is to generate photons on-demand as part of a quantum repeater -- this helps to effectively handle the high clock rates. In this new effort, they have done just that, using semiconductor quantum dots. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Too Much of a Good Thing?

In a study titled "How Intermittent Breaks in Interaction Improve Collective Intelligence", the authors use a standardized problem-solving test to measure the contrast between time spent in collaboration mode against the quality and quantity of problem solving results. The group with no interaction predictably had the highest options for solutions, but those solutions were of lower overall quality. The group with high interaction had higher quality solutions, but less variety and a lower likelihood to find the optimal solution. The intermittent collaboration groups found the desirable middle ground to balance out the pros/cons of the no interaction and high interaction groups, leading them to become the most successful problem solvers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Popular Cloud Container for Services Found to Have Security Flaw

Kubernetes is a very popular cloud container orchestration system, and a major security hole has been discovered. The problem, CVE-2018-1002105, is a privilege escalation flaw (CVSS 9.8 critical security hole). This makes it possible to gain full administrator privileges on any compute node being run in a Kubernetes pod.
Read more here...

Friday, November 23, 2018

Starting a Small Business - My Short List of "To Do's"

Tom’s General Entrepreneur / Start Up Advice -- because I seem to say the same thing, over and over, here’s a quick summary:

I’ve always stuck with C-corp as my structure — in Maryland, you can do a non-stock version of a corporation for a nominal fee. You specify initial ownership in the Articles of Incorporation. When the time comes, you can amend your articles and issue shares as you add investors. Note that I had a “board of advisors,” not a board of directors, which you might consider. I’d get an EIN (federal tax id) and get a corporate bank account established, and set up initial financial accounts showing paid-in capital. Do you have a business plan? Always good practice to prep for investors, and that would help you and your partner understand where you are aiming to go.

I recommend organizing a company in the country you want to sell into (the states?). Do your accounting right, and you won't pay tax, or will only pay a minimum once you start making lots of money. You can't (and shouldn't) skirt the anti-money laundering rules. Even if you succeed in the short term, you will eventually get kicked off of Amazon, PayPal, eBay, or wherever.

First, get excited about the challenges (and rewards) ahead! First, some thoughts, then items to consider: 

  • Cash-flow is the most important aspect of your business. You can be making all the money in the world but if it's not in the right place at the right time, you will have problems. Accounting is #1 for understanding when (and if) you are profitable. 
  • You need constant exposure to the right market, having the best widget means very little if no one sees it, or worse, you show it to the wrong person. Marketing and sales using a direct sell method (as I am focused on a service business for purposes of this discussion). 
  • Understand the difference between an expense-generating activity and a revenue-generating activity. Maximize revenue, minimize expense. Write your Business plan using this: 

Basics -- organize your practice (choose your name, see item below) as an LLC or s-corp. Make spouse and offspring 33% owners to achieve minority- and woman-ownership qualification (if possible) for government work, which you WILL be doing, eventually. Right? 

Once you get your EiN/TIN from in your company name, you can organize as an LLC or s-corp. You need some organizing document to get your bank account. CapitalOne is the least expensive, most flexible for small business in the DC area (where I used to live). Get a business VISA debit card. Get your accountant on board now! You'll want a simple business liability policy at some point - for $1mil - expect to pay $1000 per year for that (but wait until later to shop for that). 

Work on retirement planning, health savings account, etc., in the future. company name, URL, website, email, telephone number. 

Look for a domain name that matches your company name (at a registrar such as You can use GoDaddy for the basics (web, email) and the accounting system they have is, IMHO, awesome. Get an iPhone and a dedicated number - AT&T has plans with a big bucket of minutes and a data plan (you will be on the phone often, don't cheap out). Get a family plan so spouse and offspring can have their numbers on your plan and get high-speed internet at home. (companies pays all; see how that works? Company spending = expense). If your house has a crappy mobile phone service, get a femtocell from AT&T. Business cards If you need a logo, find a talented friend to design one for you. a journal to write EVERYTHING down - your planner, task list, calendar, meeting notes, etc. should correspond to your shared contacts/calendar/notes in iCloud so all that syncs across your Mac, iPad, and iPhone. You never want to lose that data, which is an audit trail and the sum total of your business "knowledge". 

Consider using (cheap self-promotion) my product, buy a MacBook Pro 13" with 8 gigs of ram. Buy an external multi-terabyte hard drive to back it up to with time machine. But an iPad mini to take notes on, show presentations, etc. website: find a friend to help you assemble a web presence. 

You'll also want FB, Twitter and PayPal accounts for the business, using your business email address. set aside office space at home. Get a simple filing system, with a dozen hanging folders so you can stash receipts, project tracking, etc. You need to close the door and focus once in a while. 

Implement SugarCRM or some other open source CRM tool to manage your sales process.

You need to keep your paperwork organized, consider job jackets for each project that correspond to the file system on your laptop (/Work > Clients > ABCNonProfit > etc.). when you are ready, tackle (a) direct email marketing with MailChimp, (b) customer relationship management to track leads and clients with SugarCRM, (c) a 12-month marketing/sales plan. 

IMHO, life is about... starting over. Continually. We grow older, we learn new things, we experience events we could never envision. Eventually, I came to believe I could always take care of myself, so I stopped worrying so much about... life... and started to focus on my relationships, appreciating what I have, and setting reasonable goals for the near term (1-2 years).

Play to your strengths -- build 'em and flip 'em, perhaps? I would suggest you save money, continually, so you always have a cushion for yourself, no matter what the outcome (or random events -- people can get sick or have an accident so unpredictably). Learn new stuff, so you can always seed ideas and appreciate new opportunities.

Personally, I got a house early, had a base of operations, and something I could leverage (needed a HELOC to fund payroll when a large contract fell into my lap, years ago, for example). Unfortunately lost all that in the last go-around, but I always feel most creative when I am secure in my living situation.

Whew! Seems like a lot? Don't worry - checklists and "one day at a time" are the best ways to get through this to "launch", which, in the end, is the most critical part of YOUR PATH TO INDEPENDENCE because you will be in charge of your own financial destiny.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Create Diverse Workplaces Using Artificial Intelligence Ethically

Companies should be aware of and recognize that artificial intelligence algorithms are created by humans with biases and beliefs -- and make every effort to eliminate those biases.

A.I. takes input data and races off to make inference and decision making about the world at lightening pace,” --Dipayan Ghosh, a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Yes the iPad is Relevant

Gizmodo tackles the question, “Is the iPad still relevant?” The response is a resounding yes, using examples such as:

Few devices make better digital doodling pads than the iPad paired with an Apple Pencil, and you’ve got a host of apps to help the creative juices flow, from Procreate to Paper to SketchBook. We know that “full” Photoshop is heading to the iPad from 2019, which is huge—will Illustrator follow?

Read more here...

Monday, October 15, 2018

Microsoft is getting into the lumber business

To help offset carbon, Microsoft plans to plant hundreds of acres of native trees in Ireland over the next few years -- the largest corporate investment in Irish forestry in a decade. The plan by Microsoft will focus on native trees, such as Pedunculate Oak, Downy Birch, Common Alder, and Scots Pine. This will help to offset Irish greenhouse gas emissions.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Real-World Decentralized Web Apps

There is a push by many -- including the inventor of the World Wide Web -- to make a decentralized internet more possible. There are a number of apps available that leverage this model, and this article discusses a word processing app...

The distributed web is being promoted by people I admire, including web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker. It also has a valid reason to exist: people really should own and control their own data, not just labour as unpaid serfs for surveillance capitalism. However, most people follow the line of least resistance, so the web is not going to change overnight.
Services like Graphite are worth considering if you need both encryption and the ability to share secure files online, though there are other ways to do this, such as Boxcryptor and Whisply. DWeb apps will need to become easier to use and mobile before they can reach a mass market.

Read more here...

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Best New Open Source Tools

Website mag InfoWorld revealed their annual list of "the leading open source projects for software development, cloud computing, big data, and machine learning." Read more at their site.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Flexibility is key in the "gig" economy

Employees want more flexibility --

PwC, one of the so-called Big Four accountancy giants, said that it decided to embrace the gig economy after a study it carried out showed that almost 46% of 2,000 respondents prioritised flexible working hours and a good work-life balance the most when choosing a job.

Read more at the BBC

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Over at Slashdot, we read:

A forum thread on indicates that the shortwave time broadcasts by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from stations WWV (Colorado) and WWVH (Hawaii) may be slashed in budget year 2019. [One of the proposed reductions includes "$6.3 million supporting fundamental measurement dissemination, including the shutdown of NIST radio stations in Colorado and Hawaii."]

While the WWV broadcasts may seem like an anachronism to some Slashdotters, they remain a crucial component in many unexpected services, from over-the-air broadcasters and traffic signals, to medical devices, wall clocks, and wrist watches. The signals serve as standard beacons for radio propagation, and as a frequency reference for alignment of a broad range of communications equipment. It's easy to imagine that not even the NIST knows every service and device that could be impacted by this decision.

Friday, August 10, 2018

At ZDNet, we read:

Security researchers are warning Linux system users of a bug in the Linux kernel version 4.9 and up that could be used to hit systems with a denial-of-service attack on networking kit. The warning comes from Carnegie Mellon University's CERT/CC, which notes that newer versions of the Linux kernel can be "forced to make very expensive calls to tcp_collapse_ofo_queue() and tcp_prune_ofo_queue() for every incoming packet which can lead to a denial of service (DoS)".

It lists a number of network-equipment vendors, PC and server manufacturers, mobile vendors, and operating-system makers that may be affected but notes that it hasn't confirmed whether any of them actually are. But, given the widespread use of Linux, the bug could affect every vendor from Amazon and Apple through to Ubuntu and ZyXEL. A remote attacker could cause a DoS by sending specially modified packets within ongoing TCP sessions. But sustaining the DoS condition would mean an attacker needs to have continuous two-way TCP sessions to a reachable and open port.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

From Gizmodo:

An investigation carried out by Federal Communication Commission's own inspector general officially refutes controversial claims that a cyberattack was responsible for disrupting the FCC's comment system in May 2017, at the height of the agency's efforts to kill off net neutrality. The investigation also uncovered that FCC officials had provided congressional lawmakers with misleading information regarding conversations between an FCC employee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cybercrime task force. A report from the inspector general's office (OIG) released Tuesday afternoon states that the comment system's downtime was likely caused by a combination of "system design issues" and a massive surge in traffic caused when Last Week Tonight host John Oliver directed millions of TV viewers to flood the FCC's website with pro-net neutrality comments.

Investigators were unable to "substantiate the allegations of multiple DDoS attacks" alleged by then-FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray, the report says. "At best, the published reports were the result of a rush to judgment and the failure to conduct analyses needed to identify the true cause of the disruption to system availability." [Here's an excerpt from the report:] "While we identified a small amount of anomalous activity and could not entirely rule out the possibility of individual DoS attempts during the period from May 7 through May 9, 2017, we do not believe this activity resulted in any measurable degradation of system availability given the minuscule scale of the anomalous activity relative to the contemporaneous voluminous viral traffic."

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From Slashdot: Oracle has filed a protest regarding plans to award the Pentagon's huge cloud contract to a single vendor. Rebecca Hill writes:

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which has a massive scope, covering different levels of secrecy and classification across all branches of the military, will run for a maximum of 10 years and is worth a potential $10 billion. In spite of this pressure from vendors and the tech lobby -- as well as concerns from Congress -- the US Department of Defense (DoD) refused to budge, and launched a request for proposals (RFP) at the end of last month. Oracle is less than impressed with the Pentagon's failure to back down, and this week filed a bid protest to congressional watchdog the Government Accountability Office asking for the RFP to be amended.

In the protest, the database goliath sets out its arguments against a single vendor award -- broadly that it could damage innovation, competition, and security. Reading between the lines, it doesn't want either of Amazon or Microsoft or Google to get the whole pie to itself, and thus endanger Oracle's cosiness with Uncle Sam. Summing up its position in a statement to The Register, Oracle said that JEDI "virtually assures DoD will be locked into legacy cloud for a decade or more" at a time when cloud technology is changing at an unprecedented pace.
Read more at The Register

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Is Programming Getting Harder?

Is programming becoming more difficult? Allen Downey (Professor of Computer Science at Olin College, author of Think Python, Think Stats, Think Bayes, Think Complexity and more) writes,

"The fundamental problem is that the barrier between using a computer and programming a computer is getting higher. When I got a Commodore 64 (in 1982, I think) this barrier was non-existent. When you turned on the computer, it loaded and ran a software development environment (SDE). In order to do anything, you had to type at least one line of code, even if all it did was another program (like Archon). Since then, three changes have made it incrementally harder for users to become programmers... Cloud computing has taken information hiding to a whole new level. People using web applications often have only a vague idea of where their data is stored and what applications they can use to access it. Many users, especially on mobile devices, don't distinguish between operating systems, applications, web browsers, and web applications. When they upload and download data, they are often confused about where is it coming from and where it is going. When they install something, they are often confused about what is being installed where. For someone who grew up with a Commodore 64, learning to program was hard enough. For someone growing up with a cloud-connected mobile device, it is much harder...."


Monday, March 12, 2018

Bicycles will continue to be popular

Slowly but surely, more U.S. communities are realizing that the future of mobility is bigger than cars. Biking is seen as an attractive, cost effective, healthy and convenient way to get around. Bike commuting tripled in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Portland and Denver from 1990 to 2012, and doubled in many other cities.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

New Film - The Burren

"An uplifting and emotional celebration of people and place, which captures the delicacy of the natural world; the heart and soul of a farmer-poet, Patrick McCormack; and the ancient rural spirit of Ireland which stands behind him. The Story is centered around Patrick and the land, The Burren, Western Ireland. A wild place where Mesolithic tombs, famine villages and present day small rocky fields are like jewels telling of our long human story on these hills. Patrick longs to farm in the quite pace his ascendants did. But his life gains a different momentum when he’s called to Battle in the Supreme courts to decide on the fate of this iconic wilderness."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Demand for Solar Panels Expected to Drop as Import Duties are Levied

New tarrifs on solar panels are among the duties imposed by the current U.S. administration.

As someone noted,

The American manufacturers aren't going to come in and sell them at the lower price. All that's being done is lower the demand after raising the prices. This is going to put a lot more people who were installing the panels out of work than the number of people who ever going to be employed making them. There are 10,000s people in the US working to install panels and that work can't be outsourced to any other country. Who cares where the panels come from? The cheaper they are, the more projects (residential and industrial) will become viable and started meaning more people employed.