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It’s not the device, it’s you…

“Can’t”, “doesn’t”, and “won’t” are things I’ve heard a lot, especially lately regarding the iPad. You are the people who both provide job security for me, thank you.

This is where I solve all the “iPad can’t” complaints regarding software limitations. Granted, it does assume network access, so those of you on flights that don’t have WiFi are SOL. There is this neat thing Microsoft has been pushing for ages called RDP. There is at least one app available. It also does VNC, which means, if you are like me and prefer OS X to Windows, you can have it all, too. Yes, you, the one with the penguin tattoo and the funny hair, VNC will work for you, too. On a side note, you might want to look into getting a cover up for that tattoo, maybe a blowfish?

Oh, wait, what’s that you’re saying? You want something local, but for some reason the Apple App Store cannot be used to distribute your app? What are you trying to do? Could a web application fill that void? Google has done some pretty spectacular things in that arena. With HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript all being supported, there are very few applications that can’t be designed to work on this platform. The added benefit is that if your Android, Blackberry, or even desktop browser supports those web standards, aside from possibly some tweaking for various screen sizes and maybe UI touches to match the platform, your app can work anywhere. You can give it away, you can charge for it, anything you like without Apple interfering at all.

The iPad is not perfect, but then nothing is. Where any tool is concerned, look at your needs, look at what the available tools are, and then look at what can be modified to most closely fit your needs.

So, if I hear “can’t”, it immediately becomes “you can’t”, because, quite frankly, I can, and probably will.

BTW – We are available to perform miracles and minor exorcisms.



I was thinking about Twitter and Iran and identity yesterday while watching activity on Twitter. First, for the benefit of those living in a cave, Iran had an election, and it appears the results are at odds with public perception. Being effectively a Muslim orthodox theocracy, the population is not given a lot of opportunity to voice displeasure with the government. That being the case, Iranians have been flooding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube with news, videos, protest information, police activity, etc. The Iranian government is doing their best to lock down access to these web services, but it is difficult. Twitter, especially, has a very open API and a number of ways to receive posts.

Question number 1: How do you sort out the good posts from the bad? Apparently Iranian security forces have created Twitter accounts and are posting false information. I have noticed an increase in the number of spammers using the #IranElection hash as well. In addition to that, requests have been made to all Twitter users to change their profile information to show they are in Tehran and their timezone is +3:30GMT. This is supposed to create additional noise so it is more difficult to determine who is actually in Iran.

Question number 2: Where is the SSL in the 3rd party apps? Twitter and Facebook offer the option for SSL login. I haven’t looked into the API, but I’m not sure if Twitter allows 3rd parties to connect via SSL. Even if they do, how often is the feature used? One of the ways people are filtering noise vs data in the Twitter feed is by looking at when the account was created. If Iran owns the backbone leaving the country, what’s to stop them from sniffing the traffic and hijacking known, trusted accounts? I have some concerns posting this, but, honestly, we don’t get a lot of traffic here. Also, if the Iranian security folks haven’t figured this out yet, then they have way bigger problems on their hands.

Question number 3: Why are major news sources publishing account names when quoting Twitter? I can understand wanting to document where the information came from, and perhaps even keeping records of all the details, but do you need to publish names?


AIG Bonuses

Originally written on 3/17/2009. Apparently I need to write more here, as I forgot to hit the publish button…

Lots of people are outraged by the bonuses and perks the executives at AIG have been getting. From what I’ve read, it looks like the AIG execs are getting $165 million in bonuses. Considering they were able to wrangle $170 billion in financing with another $30 billion pending, a .1% reward doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. Really, these guys were able to get effectively $200 billion dollars for a company they had driven into the ground. Who are we to say a commission isn’t in order?


Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley has the right idea, though. He’s suggested the AIG execs resign or commit suicide.


Federal Failout

So far we haven’t talked much shit about the federal bailout here at TheDrinkTank. A lot has been posted elsewhere, but today’s news is too much.

The Fed has chosen 4 firms to manage $500 billion. One of them is Goldman Sachs. Yep, they dug this hole and are now expected to blow more money filling it.

On top of that, they are only allowed to purchase loans insured by 3 agencies. One of them being Fannie Mae. Didn’t we already run into trouble here?

Two big strikes. The stipulation that they only purchase fixed rate mortgages is good, although it will still leave a lot of bad paper out there.


Airline Suckurity

Why ship the checked bags with the plane? Why not send them next day to wherever the passenger is going? Drop it off at the curb with an address and ship it. No screening, no worries, take advantage of an existing infrastructure. Fed Ex, UPS, and the USPS have been doing this reliably and cheaply for years. I suspect when all the redundancy is eliminated from the system, and all the extra security measures are dropped, the cost difference would be negligible. This would also cut down on theft. If the bags are sealed up, as the don’t need to be opened to be inspected, it makes it much more difficult to pilfer items from them. Perhaps an industry that isn’t on the ropes may be able to profit by assisting a vital industry that has been in trouble for years.


Social networks, worms, and patriotic acts of war

I’ve been following Gadi Evron’s tweets for the past week, starting out with the Facebook worm and going into detail about the faux cyberwar front with Russia accused of attacking Georgia.

It turns out, while a number of Georgian sites were attacked, there is no proof that it was an offical Russian act, or even that the government had anything to do with it. It started out as an ordinary DDOS, but spread with scripts being distributed en masse. Lots of propaganda type stuff feeding off of people’s patriotic tendencies.

This lead me to the idea that it would be very easy for someone to put together a DDOS app for Facebook, MySpace, etc and distribute it very quickly. Things already spread fast there, even without exploiting the undocumented features. If scripts were included to “punish wrongdoers”, what would the implications be?

This could go way beyond nation/state patriotism. It could be used for political, social, or even hoax reasons.

Let me be the first to introduce Script Kiddies to the Facebook Generation.


Quick thoughts on cleaning windows

Years ago, when the world was young, and the web was a glimmer yet to be realized, there were boot sector viruses. McAfee had this neat feature where you would create a boot floppy and it would scan your machine and clean up these nasty buggers.


Today we have neat things like Knoppix. My thought is, where is the Windows Washer distribution of Knoppix? Maybe it’s out there and I’ve missed it. Seems to me the perfect thing for dealing with all the rootkits, spambots, and zombie armies out there.

This article reminded me that there is still a need for these things.


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