July 29, 2014

Soapbox time. Having dirty hands from my own wrongs/mistakes, I’m perfectly comfortable yelling from this 18” crate.

First, read the article below (but be sure to come back).

Dear piracy apologists: Downloading unreleased films is not cool

Stealing media (TV, music, movies, software, research, etc.) drives me nuts. How is it we think the folks (artists, companies, programmers, researchers, et. al.) who produce these goods/services don’t deserve to be compensated for their work? I just don’t get the online mentality that everything should be free. These are consumables just like food, electricity, cars, diapers, paper towels, garbage bags, insurance… you get my drift.

Now I’m not saying you can’t borrow a friend’s CD’s to rip onto your PC – but that type of one-off pales in comparison to the global theft of digital content. The first Internet boom established this “freedom” of info mindset, but we see how that all turned out when no one made any money by giving everything away. Even Google, who loves to give away services/software, makes that money back multi-fold with their other businesses.

The extreme end game is that people stop producing any content and consumers are left wondering why. Well, would you work for someone who said they weren’t going to pay you?


July 24, 2014

I’ve come to the conclusion that Nature provides the best metaphor for technology. Today’s posting talks about the seemingly unstoppable tidal wave of tracking. Whether it’s by the government or corporations, the ability to know where we are, what we’re doing, and how to capitalize on that info is just too enticing.

As the article below indicates, both Apple and the government know about certain backdoors built into the iPhone operating system to enable access to the phone’s data by almost any proficient hacker. While I have nothing of my phone of any real import, I still don’t want anyone snooping around my devices. But is it too late?

I can understand why corporations and governments want this data; it’s invaluable to both based on their specific requirements. But the dangers are numerous and potentially catastrophic. That’s why folks like Zdziarski are so necessary (and popular among certain folks). They do the hard work required to finds these “traps.” But now it’s up to us to decide how to avoid the traps and re-establish our privacy. Ready to do the hard work?


Forensic scientist identifies suspicious 'back doors' running on every iOS device

July 18, 2014

If you follow us on Twitter (@Syzygy3 – and why wouldn’t you?), you know we posted two articles from the Wall Street Journal about finding alternatives to cable/satellite for your TV viewing experience (postings on 7.18.14). Considering how much TV I watch on a regular basis, this is a topic that always peaks my interest. You know what I discovered after reading these articles? Cable TV has become one of the best bargains around. Hang with me here.

Don’t get me wrong, my Time Warner bill is way expensive each month (I have phone, Internet, and TV). It’s a lot of money to fork over, especially when you have five Internet outages in two weeks and your cable TV goes out during the 2014 Wimbledon finals (still bummed about Federer). But when I look at the amount of TV I watch, the different shows/channels I watch, when I watch them, and take into account my random surfing habits, I stop complaining about the TV portion of my monthly bill.

If you don’t watch much TV, then stop reading because this doesn’t apply to you. But if you watch a decent number of shows (scripted, reality, etc.) and/or sports, then cable TV actually works out in your favor.

If I were switched to a consumption model to pay for my TV viewing, with some price assumptions based on current numbers offered through various distribution channels (iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, etc.), here’s my math: DVR 20 shows @ $4/episode @ 22 episodes per season = $1,7600 per year. Shows I don’t DVR, but like to watch as often as I can: 7 shows @ $4/episode @ 16 episodes per year = $448 per year. Sports I watch with regularity: 6 (pro hockey, baseball, football, basketball, college basketball & football) @ $300/season = $1,800 per year. TOTAL = $4,008.00, which is $1,000+ more than I pay for all three cable services per year.

And I haven’t even touched on the mindless channel surfing or the random shows discovered while surfing. And that's the rub – those channels you never watch actually subsidize the ones you do watch. If consumption became the model, you’d pay way more than you do now and would have less choices on your dial. That’s the nightmare, not the dream.

Your thoughts?


July 03, 2014

This is why the Internet should give people pause. Not saying to boycott the online world, just take a moment before you click on anything. We posted earlier this week about a scam utilizing a spoofed FTC.gov email address. Pretty sure those who blithely pay attention to their emails got caught in the scam (it was a pretty good phishing email). Don’t want to say it serves them right, but it serves them right.

Do not think for a moment that you can live offline in 2014. Can’t reasonably be done. There are going to be exceptions, but when you look at those, they’ll most likely require extreme measures to maintain.

Your commonsense is the greatest protection you have against the myriad of online threats. Choose wisely and your online life will be quite fulfilling. Choose poorly… well you know what happens to those who choose poorly (see “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”).

Sneaky malware lurks on your computer until you log into your bank