Particle Debris (Week ending 1/23) Governments Struggle with Tech

Catching up with last week, because I was all about catching a cold last week, I present reason # 1,030,599 for not using Microsoft products on warships. The Royal Navy, according to The Register, struggled with a virus infection that brought down a few of their PCs, the NavyStar system. The British carrier Ark Royal suffered a loss in e-mail service. Fortunately, the virus only struck administrative systems and no weapons systems were affected.

Without beating a dead horse here, I think the U.S. and British military's frog has been boiled by PC viruses and glitches over the years. It all started in 1998.

One good sign is that the U.S. Government is finally accelerating its efforts to secure the Internet, a system designed for unclassified work by scientists in the 1980s and turned over in its same state to the innocent world in the mid-1990s.

There are some fundamental security issues that need to be addressed in hardware and software to beef up the Internet, independent of IPv6. I think the recent incursions by the Chinese finally got DHS in gear. This is fascinating reading of the behind the scenes work the U.S. Government is funding to beef up the Internet in the U.S.

On Friday, I stumbled across "Wobble," a new iPhone app that allows the user to designate certain areas on a photo that will wobble. Of course, some parts of a woman's anatomy seem the perfect candidate for this app.

The Register lamented that while Apple approved Wobble in the Entertainment category, it denied approval to "iBoobs" which deals with cartoon breasts -- calling it "a marvellous display of double standards." (A marvelous, perhaps unintentional double entendre.) Everyone will have a differing opinion in this one.

While the Obama-Biden campaign apparently used healthy doses of Macs and iPhones, once the president elect was sworn in, he found that the White House system of antiquated PCs and regulations made it all but impossible to communicate effectively. MSNBC this week wrote about how Barack Obama and his staff have been stymied by PCs with six year old Microsoft software, no idea which computers could be upgraded, and a dearth of laptops.

I hope Apple's federal sales team can go in there and bring the White House into the 21st century. But first, President Obama may have to sign some Executive Orders to fix the mess. He's already done that for the U.S. in general. At least, they have the first ever White House blog up and running.

One of the keys to a national data infrastructure for things like federal documents, tax filing, voting (someday?) and access to knowledge and news is a widespread, broadband effort. Think of it as the equivalent of the U.S. Interstate system pushed through by president Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. He saw during WWII what a great road system in Germany could do for logistics in time of war.

The problem now seems to be that a lot of people don't realize they need broadband. According to a story at ars technica, about two-thirds of Americans without broadband don't want it -- at any price. These are probably the same people who are mystified by the digital TV transition.

A healthy fraction of baby boomers just don't see a need for broadband. They get their bills in the mail, pay by check, and watch Bryan Williams in the evening. While I think that many people will just pass into history, never having engaged this technology, it's also necessary to point out that the government, having passed on oversight, has let the cable industry run too far amuck.

I suspect that the Obama administration will start telling people that a national infrastructure of broadband is essential for community service, news, education and health, not just entertainment. So far, the cable industry only wants to lay cable in lucrative urban areas, so there will be a fight. I'll be watching to see how this all turns out in four years.

I've been experimenting with Windows 7 in Parallels 4, but there's been a glitch in getting the networking interface working. Soon, I'll have some observations on Windows 7. Meanwhile, Don Reisinger, a heavy Mac user, at CNET in a first look likes it a lot. Today, in a part II, he expressed his concerns. Has Microsoft managed to eliminate the worst aspects of Vista and keep the best in Windows 7? Or have they just made it prettier, more Mac-like, and more difficult to access settings? Time will tell, but I have a feeling that Snow Leopard has put fear in the heart of Microsoft executives. Ahh.... sweet competition.