Monthly Archives: January 2010

links for 2010-01-30

  • (a whole new genre rears its head)
    (tags: photography)
  • An interesting take, pretty persuasive: "…as frustrated as I was with the restrictions, those exact same restrictions made the New World device a high-performance, high-reliability, absolute workhorse of a machine that got out of my way and just let me get things accomplished… The iPad as a particular device is not necessarily the future of computing. But as an ideology, I think it just might be."

links for 2010-01-29

  • "Apple has created a computer that's entirely locked down. The only applications that will run on the iPad are those that have been approved by Apple. And this is one of the first computers where the user will be entirely unable to access the file system. I understand why this is possible from a design standpoint: file systems are arcane things, and most people don't understand them or want to understand them. But this means that Apple has a complete lock on how media gets into your iPad: you're tied into an Apple-approved mechanism. The user of the iPad, like the user of the iPhone, is directly tied into the Apple economy: your credit card on file with Apple not only lets you buy apps and media, but it will also allow you to buy internet connectivity…"
    (tags: istuff)
  • and the bookstores aren't winning, alas… (interesting to note that Canada is included)
  • a lot of wisdom here, starting with "It will be the best showcase 'content' ever had, and will be a wholly owned proprietary channel" and concluding with "the market’s ecosystem includes both the vertical silos and the horizontal landscapes on which those silos stand, and where all kinds of other things can grow"

Suarez sez

Just look at corn and soybeans, subsidized with taxpayer money –creating a market that wouldn’t otherwise make sense. Why? So agribusiness firms have cheap inputs to make processed food. the taxpayers are basically subsidizing corporations to make crap, when we could have grown real food on our own. But, of course, they’ve made growing food illegal now… How can people be free if they can’t feed themselves without getting sued for patent violations? (Freedom TM pg 104)

A bit from Suarez at Long Now

I really recommend a listen to Daniel Suarez’ talk at the Long Now Foundation, which I missed when it was first posted. Here’s an eye-opening bit from the transcript:

Many of you have Bluetooth devices in your car but you may not know about the TPMS system; this is the tire pressure monitoring system. It was federally mandated by the 2001 TREAD Act. That’s right. You all remember voting for this, right? It says that any car manufactured up to 2007 has to have wireless nozzle pressure measurement devices that communicate with the computer onboard the car to see that your tires are safely inflated. Now, they have to have a unique I.D. so that the computer knows your tires from the car next to you and of course, it is an open standard and makes it very simple to track the unique identity of an automobile; but of course, to do that you would have to have devices scanning. Fortunately, such scanners have started to spring up at choke points throughout modern cities. These are privately owned scanners with the data being gathered and stored again because it’s cheap to store data, vast amounts of data. This data can be piled up along with your financial transactions and anything else and bots can go through it to find persons of interest or they just find patterns or even just to sell you stuff. I’ll give you an example of just a few such devices as a BlueSweep scanner and a BlueSweep scanner is a device that able to identify all bluetooth devices within its radius, identify what their capabilities are, and what exploits they might be vulnerable to. A BlueSniper can do this up to a kilometer away. Let’s go a little further down the wall. There’s the Bluesnarfer you were all expecting. Now Bluesnarfer can use an exploit and given to it by a Bluesweeper to steal your address book, your text messages, your calendar, your pictures of your kitties, and bluetooth car whisperer can push advertising into your car speakers through your car’s bluetooth system. Now more worrisome, it could also be used to hook into your car bluetooth phone system to eavesdrop on conversations in the car. Now, if you combine that with something like the TPMS system or any future open standard device, you could pretty much track a car and listen to its occupants as they move throughout the city at any point in the future or at the moment it’s happening. Now, so you’re walking through this gauntlet of scanning activity with all the wireless devices and again, I’m sure we were all aware of this, and then there’s of course financial transactions every time we buy stuff with a debit card or a credit card. Who, what, where, and when? Combine that with visual data and all of the other points that tell us who was there with you, where you were going can be used to tell some very interesting stories. So it’s a great constellation of information being gathered on us at all times and then of course privately owned devices Hoovering up all these information. So this is the world you live in right now. Who knows what it will be like 10 years from now?

Current reading

I’ve found Daniel Suarez’ Daemon pretty satisfying on several levels, not the least of which are the stoking of my schadenfreudian and conspiracy-detecting proclivities. Suarez (who has been taken seriously by a lot of smart people) seems to get a lot of things about the world as it seems-to-be-going right enough to raise the hairs on the back of the neck every few pages, and here and there he comes through with bits of insight that link domains in novel ways. One case in point mixes digital geekery with mythology and folklore:

The mythmakers… were the ones who invented rhyme and meter –the programming language for human memory in preliterary civilizations. It was a cultural checksum –a mnemonic device. You couldn’t fuck with the code or the rhymes didn’t work; and if the rhymes didn’t work, people noticed. And so the knowledge of a people was passed down intact. It was a shamanic code. If you fucked with the code, then society lost its collective mind. (pg 600)

And so, having finished Daemon, I’ve ordered its just-published sequel Freedom, and confidently expect it to be as gripping and prescient.