DTNS 2693 – Encryption Depiction

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIt’s Fanmail Friday with perspectives on Apple’s encryption fight from SysAdmins law enforcement and more. Plus why one mobile carrier in Europe is putting in network-level ad blocking.Tom Merritt and Darren Kitchen discuss and Len Peralta illustrates.

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DTNS 2692 – Federal Bureau of iPhone

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comSome law enforcement professionals write in with their thoughts on Apple’s resistance to helping the FBI. Plus the FCC frees cable boxes just in time for cable boxes to go obsolete. Tom Merritt and Justin Young discuss.

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DTNS 2691 – VRophiles

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comApple takes a principled stance on encryption. Darren Kitchen gives us insight into the tech. And Erin Carson talks with Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson about what Google’s Cardboard means for the future of VR

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DTNS 2690 – Twitter Quitter

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com
People seem to quit social media with regularity. Are we doomed to a cycle of abuse in online communities? Iyaz Akhtar Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt discuss.

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DTNS 2689 – Headlines Edition

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comIt’s Presidents Day in the US so everyone gets the day off but Tom Merritt brings you the headlines.

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DTNS 2688 – Garlic and Lard

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe first day 6 episode from Australia, with Peter Wells and Hannah Francis.

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Longer Term Changes From Self-Driving Cars

This was sent to us by Brian Henry, Assistant Professor of Finance at Benedictine College and listener to the show. Thanks Brian!

Cars are going to drive themselves, this is no longer an if, but a when. Right now people are focusing heavily on regulation barriers and safety as well as public perception surrounding autonomous vehicles. I would like to look a little farther down the line.

Safety is a prerequisite, but as soon as they are safer than human drivers, and significantly so to convince the luddites, I think adoption of the technology will be swift assuming affordability. Once we have lots of vehicles driving themselves, our world is going to start looking very different.

In a lot of ways our country is shaped by the car. The interstate system being the most obvious example, but drive through an East Coast city and then a Midwestern one and see what a city developed pre and post automobile looks like. Infrastructure follows energy, transportation, sanitation, and increasingly technology. That infrastructure will look different with self-driving cars versus human guided. Also, some businesses are built for auto services and those are going to be greatly affected, and in some cases may disappear in favor of new business models. I will start with the infrastructure changes and then how those and the technology will shape the businesses surrounding automobiles.

As self-driving cars become a big thing, there are several changes I assume will happen. The most important of these is that fewer people will own cars as they transition into a service rather than a necessary asset. Monthly ride time plans, bundled with your cell service and cable! Okay, hopefully not that. This leads to more efficient use of each vehicle, and fewer vehicles overall as one car can take me to work and then spend the day taking other people around town rather than sitting in a parking lot. Ford or General Motors would be scared of that, but GM’s buying into Lyft points to them trying to be ready if they need to shift their business model. They might sell fewer cars mostly to ride service providers, or they might produce cars and generate revenue from them by being the provider of ride services like Lyft is already doing.

This idea of cars as a service leads to several infrastructure changes. The first is that parking lots will become significantly less necessary, which is a great benefit to cities that have to build parking structures and such in high demand areas that might need other things on those parcels of land. Plus, it means we don’t have to find parking spots, a pretty nice quality of life change. I also think roads will change in meaningful ways. Rush hour demands lots of excessively wide roads in busy commuter cities, but cars that drive themselves that are safer can probably drive closer together and with less variance relative to each other. Also, if people rent it would make sense to have one passenger cars pick up solo passengers, thus reducing the average size of vehicle as well. Roads that are smaller are cheaper to maintain, though the way we finance roads could change too.

Gas stations are somewhere in between the infrastructure and business discussion. If GM is renting a fleet of vehicles, I find it unlikely that they will want to have the cars gas up at thousands of random stations strewn about the land. Part of not owning cars will mean most people no longer stop to gas up unless they are on long trips that need more than one tank. The answer to this is likely service providers having their own stations set up, and that likely means a lot of old gas stations being part of that system or big changes in how they operate. Rest stops and other things built to serve the trucking industry would be in a similar boat as truckers go the way of the dodo.

The infrastructure impacts will be less significant in my opinion than the business side. First think about all of the car industry offshoots. Custom wheels, trees that smell good, those weird sun blocker things for the windshield, etc. If a lot less people own cars, these are not things people will buy. Cars are already heading more and more toward technology as we see at auto shows. Tech will likely be the most important attribute of autonomous vehicles. People who are freed from the need to drive are going to want to stream music and movies, do work, play video games, read books, and all manner of other things as they travel. For family road trips I want a pod rather than a car where we sit in a circle and can play cards on a table in the middle. My dreams are huge, I know. I can’t wait for the fight before that because the kids would rather be on their devices than playing cards with dad.

The desire for entertainment will push for good wireless connections in the vehicles, and subsequently increase demand for streaming services among other things. It might even lead to whole new business ideas that are trying to capture the attention of people stuck in a small space with little to do. Restaurants only for cars maybe, you order a car and what you want for breakfast at the same time. General Motors or Uber as the leading fast food restaurant would be quite a shocker.

Delivery services in general are likely to significantly change as well. Flowers, pizza, groceries, lumber, a baseball bat, or almost any other consumer good becomes easy and cheap to deliver. If you don’t have to pay someone to deliver things then delivery becomes much more practical for both sides of the transaction. No tipping and a smaller fee for delivery are likely to happen if the car can ping you when it pulls up outside your door. You go out and grab your delivery, done. Amazon’s drones might beat the cars to the punch on this one though.

Emergency services are the last one I can think of at the moment, there are likely others I am not considering. Right now ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars rush to wrecks all the time. The need for this is going to go down because we will not adopt self-driving cars unless they are safer than us. That means fewer accidents due to driver error, teenagers being allowed to drive, drunk driving, and other hazards of the road. We have seen with modern materials a decline in the instance of house fires, and so far that has not lead to a decline in fire stations that need to be run and staffed. Fires are rare, but when they happen we need a fire truck there quick. Instead of reducing the number of emergency responders, what we may need is to find other productive things for their time. For police I don’t think this is at all a challenge. For the others I am uncertain on what sorts of things they can do while still being prepared for their main task.

Transportation has been relatively similar since commercial airlines came on the scene. We have a lot more amenities in our cars now than 50 years ago, but more cup holders has not significantly changed how we get around. We are now on the verge of the largest disruption to transportation in a very long time. My even longer range vision, since DTNS has convinced me hyperloops might eventually be a thing, is that cars only operate in cities or to get to nearby towns while we shoot around in tubes at 700+ MPH for trips of any significant length. All I know is that I am very excited to see where we end up, and to get grading done during my commute so I don’t have to work on weekends as often.

Brian Henry
Assistant Professor of Finance
Benedictine College

Weekly Tech Views – Feb 13, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Only one thing heightens the romance of Valentine’s weekend more than lovingly reciting tech news to your significant other, and that’s reciting badly-analyzed tech news. Tell your sweetheart to brace themselves…

For the week of February 8 – 12, 2016…

Now What Do We Do With All These Shoeboxes?
Google apparently has plans to offer a more substantial version of their Google Cardboard VR device, with a headset made of plastic. This move would skip right over the rumored straw edition. Future premium upgrades Google Wood and Google Brick are still on track. This in no way affects work on the super-economy version Google Wet Paper Bag.

And One Guy Who Blew Off Work In Case Coldplay Did “Viva La Vida”
Super Bowl 50 set a record for Super Bowl streaming views, with a total of 315 million minutes, an average of 1.4 million people per minute. Viewers were split pretty much as expected–10% Panthers fans, 15% Broncos fans, and 75% Beyonce worshippers.

We Recommend Grape With Meat, Cherry With Fish
Amazon Japan has a sommelier (French for “without me, you wouldn’t know a good wine from a bottle filled with melted grape popsicles”) service which will recommend a wine based on your planned meal and budget and then have it delivered to you. I’d like to assume he delivers it personally, hangs around while I do the whole cork-sniffing, sip-swishing routine that I saw somebody do in a movie, waits for me to nod awkwardly so he can facetiously fawn over my exquisite taste like he’s dealing with James Freaking Bond, pockets the ridiculously extravagant tip I give him in a futile attempt to look cool, and returns to the Amazon warehouse where he swaps his tux for sweats and melts some more grape popsicles for the next rube.

There Are No Non-Users, Just Friends That Haven’t Signed Up Yet
Facebook has been given three months by the French government to stop tracking non-users via the use of cookies. This after the French rejected Facebook’s proposed compromise of providing government officials a “People We May Have Tracked” section in their News Feed.

Look, I’m Not Saying You Have To Dream About Me Or Anything…
Twitter has gone ahead and pulled the trigger on its rumored timeline changes. The first dozen or so tweets–if you decide not to opt out of the feature–will now be presented according to how many times the letter P appears. Well, probably not. More likely, you’ll see tweets from people you interact with most. The folks at Twitter aren’t revealing the algorithm, but have referred to the new feature as While You Were Away 2.0.

Okay, fine, Twitter, try something new. It’s optional, so why not? There is one vital question, however, that I am stunned has not yet been addressed: Do I ever appear in anyone else’s While You Were Away section? Frankly, I don’t hold out much hope. I haven’t seen my name in my own wife’s WYWA, and I know she has favorited/liked many of my tweets (I stare at her over the top of her iPad until she does). I can’t get anyone at Twitter to confirm it, but I’m nearly certain I’m populating some undisclosed demographic’s Who You Were Avoiding section.

I’d Help Clean Up, But I Don’t Like The Way The Dishwasher’s Been Looking At Me
The government reportedly could use the “Internet of Things”–basic household devices connected to the internet and each other–for identification, surveillance,  location tracking, and access to networks. I’m already longing for the good old days when I only had to hide my late night five-cheese-and-bean burrito binges from my wife,* not Homeland Security.

Jim Cramer Downgraded Them From “Buy” To “Looking For A Fight”
On Wall Street, Twitter met analysts expectations by pissing everyone off (and also by matching expected revenue of $710M).

I’m Afraid “Interferometer” Quashed The Interest “Laser” Had Sparked
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration has confirmed a direct observation of gravitational waves, a result of two black holes merging. According to all the hubbub, this is apparently a big deal. You have to wonder, though, what this organization has been doing since its founding in 1992. Twenty-four years before getting their first result? I’m just saying, that doesn’t fly here. Sure, these Tech Views posts are hilarious,** but even I can’t say they’re worth waiting twenty-four years for. Ten, tops.

And all this time and expense for what? To prove that Einstein was right about this in 1918? How about we agree to just assume Einstein was right about everything and put this research money toward something that can really make a difference, like, say, a tech blogger retirement fund or something.

I Almost Didn’t Know That This CVS Had Two-Liter Sierra Mist On Sale!
Chrome for Android will soon start supporting bluetooth beacons. People near the beacons can access the “physical web” via notifications on their smartphones, where links provide information on one’s surroundings. A beacon might relay a nearby restaurant’s menu, sale prices at a store, or historical landmark information. Some of you may remember an early precursor to this, experienced on childhood trips to the zoo. This device was called “The Big Metal Box That, After You Stick A Big Plastic Key Shaped Like An Elephant Into It, Yells Stuff At You About The Animal You’re Looking At.” I learned a lot of important information from those boxes, most importantly that if I played the same monkey spiel three times in a row I really had to hustle to catch up to my parents, who usually weren’t much for running.

When Will People Realize That, No Matter What It’s Called, All Encryption Is A=1, B=2, Etc?
Under England’s Investigatory Powers Bill, internet firms would be banned from offering unbreakable encryption. “Unbreakable encryption? Uh, okay, if you say so. What about unicorns? Can we offer unicorns?” said a spokesman for every internet firm.

Now I Won’t Be Late For That Appointment On October 12, 733842016
Physicists in Germany have made the most accurate clock ever by using ytterbium ions (pronounced “eye-ons”). The clock would not gain or lose even a single second over several billion years, and will be ready for retail sale once leap years stop making it think it’s March 43rd.

 

* Fun Fact: It takes seventeen dish towels to sufficiently muffle the beeps of a microwave so they aren’t heard in our upstairs bedroom.

** Granted, you and I may define this word differently.

 

Okay, Valentine’s Day celebrants, I’ve supplied the sweet, sweet aphrodisiac of botched tech analysis, the rest is up to you.

Mike Range
@MovieLeagueMike

Creative Commons License
Weekly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

DTNS 2687 – The Oxen of the Cloud

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comWould you still use US products if they were mandated to have an encryption backdoor? Darren Kitchen and Tom Merritt discuss the findings of Bruce Schneier and company.

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DTNS 2686 – Kitchen Table Encryption. Also Jobs.

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comHow much data do political campaign have on you? Dan Patterson discusses the relationship between politics, big data, security and social media with Tom Merritt Veronica Belmont and Justin Young.

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