Problems in a Connected World

The Beeb has an article on cyberwar which then slips into talking about consumer products, I assume to highlight the point that these systems are also open to attack (as they’re designed by engineers and not coding pros, that’s what is says):

“In the home, fridges will automatically replenish themselves by talking to food suppliers; ovens and heating systems will respond to commands from your smartphone. Cars may even drive themselves, sharing GPS data to find the best routes. For industry, commerce and infrastructure, there will be even more reliance on cyber networks that critics claim are potentially vulnerable to intrusion.”

The threat they fail to think of is economically-motivated hacking, could we see viruses that swap products to particular brands when your fridge automatically orders? This could be to earn the miscreant referral bonuses or simply benefit a particular brand (“My fridge will only order XXX bread”). Instead of corporate espionage, we could see corporate-sponsored hacking. Continue reading


Kickstarter Stole My Idea

Okay, so that’s not strictly true, it’s just a bombastic title. I can still kick (no pun intended) myself for not realising a similar idea for people power. So I thought I would spell it out here (for posterity and to sooth my wounds).

The year was 2003 and I had stopped off in San Jose to stay with my parents for a while on on my way back from nine months of travelling. While I was there, late into the night and early hours as the rest of the family slept (I could sleep late) and my mum’s venerable Dell was free, I taught myself how to build websites with CSS instead of tables (which is what I’d previously used). I also taught myself some Javascript, some PHP and MySQL and I started to build some of my numerous websites (at one point I had so many a friend commented I could have started my own internet).

Many of those sites are now gone, but one of those early registered domains still exists in my portfolio. Fund a Film was an idea spawned from reading an article about a woman who had asked her site visitors to donate money to help her get out of debt (it may even have been Save Karyn). I figured that if people were prepared to donate (at that point) $13,000 to a stranger to help her out of a whole she created, why wouldn’t they do it for a chance to be part of making a movie? Continue reading

I’m Not Convinced by Web TV

The big thing from CES seems to have been web-enabled TVs, again.  We seem to have been talking about them for some time, but they have yet to materialise in homes as far as I can see.

Watching this report from the BBC I didn’t see anything that would drive me out to buy a connected TV.

Now, I have a media centre PC, I’ve had one for years, so you could argue I already have a connected TV, I have access to the internet and online content.  I rarely use it for that though.  Why?  Well, because when I’m watching a program, I’m watching a program.  I don’t want to hide it while I look something up, I’d do that on a separate device (a tablet or laptop).  Which is what Scoble says in the report.  The negative point is it means looking away from a programme.

Continue reading

Information Overload

I used to read the various blogs and sites I’m subscribed to every day, but at the start of the year I decided to change my strategy and just do a massive read-through once a week. I was spending probably an hour or two a night just to catch up.

We I logged in to Google Reader to check out my feeds yesterday I found over a 1,000 entries to trawl through, looking for anything interesting. Assuming an average of 5 seconds per headline (some I can dismiss immediately, some I need to read a bit of the article to decide) that means it would take me nearly an hour and a half just to decide which articles I want to read more of, nevermind reading the articles themselves!

As it stands it’s taken me the better part of a day each week to read them. And I only subscribe to a relative few (although one is a meta-blog) on a relatively narrow range of topics. What it shows is the huge amount of data we are now bombarded with each day. Continue reading

Single-Use Credit Cards

The rise of cloud computing and hosted applications only seems to be on the rise and while this opens up vast possibilities it also opens us up to security implications. Aside from trusting these third-parties with our data, it also means trusting them with our financial details.

One of the biggest stories of 2011 was the news of hackers breaking into Sony’s PlayStation Network and stealing millions of user’s credit/debit card details. And they were just one of several companies hit, bit corporations who have the resources to protect their data properly. As I’ve said before though, hackers will get in eventually, no matter how good you are. Now Sony (and others) are adding clauses to their contracts so you can’t sue them if they have a breach.

If we start to rely on hosted services, then they’re likely to want to store our details so we can continue to pay for them and remove the barriers to buying new services. These big pools of card details provide a tantalising target for hackers interested in financial gain, so we need to start thinking of other ways to protect our details. Continue reading

The New Tools of Journalism

In an article over at GigaOM there is some interesting commentary on how, when reporting from disaster- or conflict-hit regions, online services such as Twitter and Tumblr prove to be the most effective way to get the word out.

My question is, if this is the case, why aren’t the likes of the NY Times (mentioned in the article) bringing these tools in-house? Why not build their own Twitter or at least sub-licence the technology (it could be a good revenue stream for Twitter).  The article also mentions updates were done via Tumblr and mobile photo-sharing site Instagram.  These services would not be hard to replicate or at least incorporate.

We’ve long been past the time when journalists got back to their desks or phoned/emailed in their stories, reporting is now so up-to-the-minute they need to be able to submit news wherever, whenever and they need to the tools to do so.  Why rely on third-parties when you want people to associate with your brand, your channel?

Google Still Rules Search

Reading this article on Bing’s redesign you get the impression Google are on the out. Nobody points out that the entire things seems to rely on IE9 and probably won’t work anywhere near as well in anything else either.

According to the September stats, Google still owns 66% of the search market, and increased its share. Bing has just over 11%. So it doesn’t matter what Bing does, they own a tiny piece of the pie and Google still rules the roost by a mile.

Personally, I don’t like Bing’s design, I find the pictures distracting, it doesn’t have time-based filtering (which I use a lot) and, most importantly, their results aren’t as good.

So let’s not get too up in the air about this supposed revolution, when Yahoo are beating you you need to look at improving a lot more than the looks.