Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 8:06 pm

Why Obama shouldn’t be your back-door man (and neither should anyone else in government)

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 8:06 pm
Tags: , ,

The government’s proposal to create a “back door” to give law enforcement easier access to encrypted messaging systems like BlackBerry and Skype is both bad security and bad business, mistermix at Balloon Juice writes:

It’s bad business because it opens the doors to companies that aren’t governed by US law to create competing solutions and sell them in places where US law doesn’t apply. BlackBerry may buckle under and allow a back door to remain a player in the US market, but some other player could well create a smartphone messaging system that doesn’t have a back door and sell it in the parts of the world that don’t give a shit about US law. And other companies may create smartphone software (apps) that run on top of your iPhone or BlackBerry’s phone or messaging apps to encrypt voice and text traffic, but those companies will be headquartered (and employ engineers) somewhere beyond Eric Holder’s reach.

It’s bad security because a back door is an opening that can be breached by hackers as well as law enforcement, and the existence of a back door makes the system that has one an immediate target of hackers.RIM, the maker of BlackBerry, may not care about your civil rights, but they sure as hell don’t want to be the target of a hack that leverages a back door that they put in to satisfy the US, UAE and India.

Then there’s that whole pesky Fourth Amendment thingie.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 12:41 am

Top 10 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

Filed under: Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 12:41 am
Tags: ,

Dan Yoder lists his. When he posted his list on Facebook, Facebook deleted it without notice or warning. Ed has reposted to see what will happen. Posts to this blog show up on my Facebook “Notes” page (albeit sometimes not until 18 hours or so have passed since they appeared on the blog), so I’m essentially conducting the same experiment Ed is. I’ll let you know what happens.

I’m still thinking about ditching FB, at least for personal use. (I would need to continue using it for work-related reasons.) I would hate to have to, but as I said earlier, their behavior around privacy issues is bordering on egregious. I’m willing to tolerate certain honest mistakes in the name of research and learning, but it is growing increasingly difficult to think that Facebook is about anything beyond pirating marketable data without compensating the owners. There’s a word for that, and although it dates to Exodus, it applies today — on a number of levels and in a variety of contexts.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Monday, May 3, 2010 9:47 pm

Why I’m thinking hard about ditching Facebook

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 9:47 pm
Tags: ,

This Electronic Frontier Foundation timeline tells the tale.

If FB had been absolutely transparent and all opt-in, all the time, that would be one thing. But they haven’t. And I’m not wild about rewarding that kind of behavior.

And then there’s Farmville. Also.

Friday, February 12, 2010 8:22 pm

Epic, not to mention potentially deadly, Google FAIL.

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:22 pm
Tags: ,


I had paid no attention to Google Buzz when it surfaced except to turn it off. I figured I could look at it later when I had more time, figure out whether it might be useful, etc. But this post horrified me, not least because not all the Gmail account users in my house are adults.

Memo to Google developers in particular and all developers in general: YOU DO NOT CREATE APPS WHOSE DEFAULT IS TO DISCLOSE PRIVATE INFORMATION. You create apps with opt-ins that can be exercised only after the opportunity to read a full, plain-English disclosure of the practical consequences with respect to one’s privacy of opting in. I’m somewhat sure the U.S. Marshals Service tells people in witness protection not to use Facebook, and I’m even more sure that some of those people will do it anyway. But that’s their choice, stupid as it is. This is even worse.

I’m not quite ready to dump my Gmail and other Google tools, but if I’m thinking about it as hard as I am, I’d imagine a number of people have already done it. I look forward with interest to seeing how Google responds to this.

Sunday, January 3, 2010 9:44 pm

Odds and ends for 1/3

Cliff May really wishes his penis were bigger.

Why it’s important to try Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in a civilian court in New York City, by Cynthia Kouril: “Treat him like what he is, a common criminal. Not a great boogeyman, not an arch criminal, not a martyr, just a guy who could not make a success in life living within the social contract and resorted to life on the wrong side of the law. Or in other terms, a failure.”

“People who suck … at analyzing events in real time really, really shouldn’t try to do it a year in advance”: John Derbyshire, Katherine Jean Lopez, Mark Hemingway and especially Jonah Goldberg, call your office. It’s called “reporting,” guys. Learn it. Love it. Live it. Hell, just try it once.

We’re the land of Joyce, but we don’t like to talk about that much.: In the Republic of Ireland it is now punishable by a 25,000-Euro fine (about $40KUSD) to commit blasphemy, defined as “publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion.” This is just a power grab by some “religious” earthly authorities. Memo to, just for starters, the Roman Catholic Church: Given all your pedophile priests and abusive nuns in Ireland alone, you’ve got bigger fish to fry. Memo to Muslims: I know you want to try to pull this same crap at the global level, but don’t hold your breath.

“Danger, Will Robinson!”: The aforementioned Cynthia Kouril also goes through the string of AIG e-mails recently released and finds that some of those e-mailers are facing, shall we say, significant legal exposure. Interesting how one blogger attorney is laying more prosecutorial groundwork than the SEC.

A moment in time, not a long-term shift: Micah Sifry examines how and why Obama has let down his base. Digby thinks he’ll pay a political price. I think she’s right … and that Congressional Dems will, too, first.

And about those Congressional Dems: They need to listen carefully to what White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual says and then do the exact opposite.

The good news: New unemployment claims came in at 432,000 for the week ending 12/26, down 22,000 from the week before and lower than expected.

The bad, and more significant, news: The number of people receiving emergency unemployment compensation — money for people whose regular unemployment benefits have been exhausted — hit an all-time record of 4.2 million in November. For the week ended Dec. 12, the number of new EUC claims came in just under 192,000, bringing the overall total to 4.5 million. With numbers like those, consumers won’t be driving any recovery for a long, long time to come.

Follow the money: The Labor Department claims that X number of Americans are unemployed and receiving unemployment or EUC payments. However, cash-flow reports from the Treasury Department suggest that the amount of money going out for such payments would mean that either check amounts have gone up — which hasn’t happened — or the number of people receiving such payments is actually 32% higher than Labor says. That means that if the “official unemployment rate” is roughly 10%, the actual unemployment rate may be more like 13%.

Privacy is so 1984: In case you didn’t know already, police can obtain info from your cell-phone carrier on where you are (or, to be precise, where your phone is) whether or not you have the GPS function enabled, and they don’t need a warrant to do it. The only way you can hide your phone’s location effectively is to remove the battery.

The Bush White House expected congressional Republicans to obstruct justice: So says Alberto Gonzalez in this Esquire interview (how did I miss this earlier?): “We should have abandoned the idea of removing the U. S. attorneys once the Democrats took the Senate. Because at that point we could really not count on Republicans to cut off investigations or help us at all with investigations. We didn’t see that at the Department of Justice. Nor did the White House see that. Karl [Rove] didn’t see it. If we could do something over again, that would be it.”

Fannie and Freddie really are to blame, Marla Singer says, but not in the giving-mortgages-to-poor-black-people-who-shouldn’t-have-gotten-them way that some conservative pundits are arguing. No, it’s worse than that.

What do you call one investment banker out the door? A good first step: A senior AIG officer quits rather than accept a federally imposed salary limit of $500,000 a year. Door. Ass. Of course, for some unfathomable reason the federal “pay czar” let her keep the $2.8 million in severance she claimed she was entitled to, but, hey, at least we’ve called one bankster’s bluff. Sort of.

Speaking of bankers, if you have a money-market fund, you might want to put that money someplace safer because the government may be ending instant redeemability.

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