Particle Debris (week ending 7/31) National Security: Poof!


Dan Frommer reported that Apple may be talking to book publishers about deals for its rumored iTablet, a likely candidate to be a book reader and media device. The evidence was attributed to a Financial Times article last weekend, but, as always, little pieces here and there start to form a picture.

Is Google trying to spook Microsoft? In "10 Ways Google Is Trying To Kill Microsoft," Dan Frommer (again) and Nicholas Carlson point out that an OS threat from Google and Chrome could disrupt Microsoft. Heck, it's a winner, even if it never pans out. Remember when Marc Andreessen claimed that a Netscape OS would make Windows irrelevant? Microsoft went half crazy and forced the demise of Netscape. It's a touchy subject for the Redmond giant and ought to drive them looney.

Verizon, which had been downplaying Wi-Fi and pushing its own 3G service has finally relented, likely from competitive pressure from AT&T -- which has been offering free Wi-Fi at certain locations to its own Broadband Internet customers. Good old competition wins again.


Carnegie Mellon researchers have found that customers generally ignore warnings from their browser that there's a problem with a Website's security certificate. Their suggestion is to get rid of the warning, which can be bypassed, simply block connections that aren't safe and don't put up a warning at all if the situation is benign. They'll present their results at the Usenix Security Symposium Aug 14.


The U.S. House of Representatives conducted a security audit and found that files that have Secret Service safe house locations, military rosters, and IRS tax returns have been leaked. That's because federal government employees installed peer-to-peer file sharing software on their computers and didn't pay attention to what was shared.

One time I visited the CIO of a major facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a federal facility, and he told me that an employee was going to get a letter of discipline for installing software on his PC, despite lock down methods. It just goes to show that policies and procedures and training can be just as important as securing the OS.

It also goes to show that when citizen private data is leaked, thanks to the OS, it's their problem. But when government data, like safe house locations gets leaked, Congressmen start paying attention

Finally, Rep. Edolphus Towns (Dem, NY) wants to introduce a bill that would limit peer-to-peer software on all federal and contractor computers. We need a legislation for that? If so, then just fire all the IT managers.

Have you ever wondered what a developer has to go through to get an app approved on the Apple App Store? Jake Behrens has posted some slides that explain how to submit an app to Apple. Most developers know how to do this, but it's interesting to see his presentation if you're not a developer. See his post "Submitting To Apple" at his Website.

If you gave an employee in your organization a notebook computer, how much do you think it would cost you to support it for five years? A thousand dollars? Five thousand? David Sobotta found out that the state of Virginia is paying US$9,000 to keep that PC notebook in the hands of employees and running. Read all about it here, and then you'll know where your tax dollars are going if you live in Virginia.

Mr. Sobotta compared the situation to Apple employees who are given a computer and are expected to maintain it pretty much themselves. And I'll add that if they're not smart enough to do that, they can be considered extraneous. If you know what I mean.

Can jailbreaking an iPhone pose a threat to National Security? Apple thinks so. Apple is fighting an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) initiative to get a DMCA exemption for cell phones -- so customers can unlock them and install their own software. Perhaps Apple figures the specter of a National Security breach will nip all that silliness in the bud.

Thursday -> Friday:

If you hadn't noticed, Motorola is mostly dumping Windows Mobile (soon to be renamed Windows Phone) in favor of Android. Motorola's Dr. Sanjay Jha told Om Malik that "handset makers need to pick a single smartphone OS and devote resources to it in order to win. He pointed to Nokia and Symbian, Apple and its iPhone OS and RIM’s BlackBerry OS. He used that logic to justify why his company was betting the farm on Google’s Android. Why? Because it’s the best option for the company right now. "

Perhaps this is the nail in the coffin of Windows Mobile. Who's left to use it? Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Technical Word of the Week (TWoW)

Paywall (n.) A monetary firewall that a newspaper puts up when it starts to explicitly charge its customers for content. First seen used by Jason Barnett. But the term has been in use for a year, he says.