Particle Debris (wk. ending 9/30) Take it on the Chin

I’ll kick off this week’s Particle Debris with one of the most important articles I’ve read in a long time. It turns out that bad guys on the Internet are stealing digital certificates, and certificate management is something we now need to be acutely aware of. It turns out that we need to have our Macs be more astute about how to handle revoked certificates, and by default, OS X is kinda stupid about this. Glenn Fleishman, in a tour de force article explains everything, including how to properly set your Keychain preferences. When’s the last time you dug into the preferences of the Keychain app? Yeah, me too.

Another important article I read this week explains how, even after you log out of Facebook, it leaves behind a cookie that tracks your activity. Read more in “Facebook is scaring me” by Dave Winer. For more details, here’s an analysis of Facebook’s new direction. Facebook’s response: Trust us. Along those lines, one of my readers pointed out that Google’s Chrome browser identifies you digitally, then uploads every URL you’ve visited to Google. So, you might as well lie back and enjoy it, all you people who use Chrome to access Facebook.

On the chin

Currently, I’m using Firefox 7 with some key security and privacy extensions.

This week, one of my Twitter followers retweeted one of my most popular Particle Debris columns, one that went off in a special direction. I thought some of you new readers might enjoy an encore entry from early 2009: “The Eight Twitter Personality Types.

Two months after Apple released Lion, it has only been adopted by 14 percent of Apple customers. Almost 80 percent of Apple’s customers are still on some version of Leopard. Here’s the breakdown. As for me, I’ve only upgraded one of my Macs, this iMac, because I write about Lion. As for the family server? It’s on Snow Leopard and will stay there, probably until 10.7.3. I think a lot of enterprise users with mission critical systems feel the same way. Lion makes things better in a way that suits Apple’s agenda, but doesn’t make things always better for many IT managers who have other more practical concerns. That’s suddenly a very odd position for Apple to be in. On the other hand, Lion’s better ASLR makes it more secure. As for me, I’m enjoying it from the perspective of Apple’s relentless move into the future.

There has been an endless discussion about bad moves by Netflix recently. However, one thing we know is that Hollywood has forced its hand. Here’s a really good background story on the copyright issues and the first sale doctrine that sheds some light on the plight of Netflix. Recommended.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Kindle Fire this week. Bob Cringely thinks it’ll take a bite out of Apple. Dan Frommer thinks that Apple has absolutely nothing to worry about. Others, like Om Malik have dug in and looked at each product in more detail. I like his approach.

As for me, until I have one in my hands and have read a lot more about it, I’m not going to say too much (unless the tablet gods move me) — except that I think Amazon will use them to sell a lot of stuff and some columnists will use that customer enthusiasm as a lightning rod to suggest that the party is over for Apple. I think it depends on which company you’re rooting for. I kind of side with Dan — Apple has the ability to shrewdly size of the situation, and the iPad will continue to be successful for Apple, making the company a lot of money. That’s all you can ask for.

Late today, I ran across this interesting infographic on all your Kindle options. Some questions were raised about this strategy and how it compares to Apple, but I don’t think the explosion of options is going to hurt Amazon. Customers sort this stuff out with the help of the Internet. But it is an interesting chart for the technically curious.

One of the really smart things that Amazon did was to overlay their custom UI on top of the OS. That way, if they decide that Android isn’t the way to go, they can pull the plug and insert another OS, say, webOS. I think that’s pretty darn smart, but movement in that direction is just a rumor. It just goes to show how some companies seem to have a knack for vision, market savvy, and customer connectivity. On the other hand with great power comes great temptation.

I really feel sorry for RIM — clueless from the getgo — and the Moto Xoom. Readers of this column know that I have been writing (ranting?) about how the tablet competition has to have something to offer besides the hardware. The mantra from analysts has been, “What does this tablet offer me?” HP, RIM, and Moto had no good response. On the other hand, Amazon has a whole lot to offer in terms of content, so they can subsidize the price. That will certainly bring the end of the PlayBook and Xoom.

Microsoft understands this based on their history with the Xbox. Will they be able to deal with that on Windows 8 tablets in a situation where they don’t control the hardware, the product, customer positioning and the content deals? We shall see.


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