Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Marissa Mayer and the case of the vanishing telework

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Hi all. Yes, it’s been a while. Work stuff. Insanely busy. Do forgive me.

I really don’t know why this one thing has stuck in my craw so much lately, but I keep getting irritated at the Yahoo telework thing. Perhaps it’s because I have a one hour commute and am trying to start a family myself. Perhaps it’s because I hate what I perceive to be hypocritical behaviour in powerful people. Perhaps I’m a misogynist and I just hate female CEO’s! This is an adventure of self-discovery!

Let’s test that last theory real quick. Female CEO, female CEO, who else is a female CEO?

Meg Whitman! Do I hate Meg Whitman?

…yes, actually, yes I do. Crap.

At any rate. the Yahoo telework decision is a bad one, for two reasons. First, Silicon Valley is known for family friendliness. It’s hard enough for an aged player like Yahoo to attract talent in a world of startups and stock options, and now they’re going to try to recruit without any telework? At that point you may as well just admit that you’re not actually going to recruit anyone, just innovate through acquisition. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea in general, but historically Yahoo has been terrible at it regardless of who’s at the helm.

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Oh Jesus Christ Leo…

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Would anyone care to recommend a security podcast besides Security Now? I’ve been listening for a couple of years now and have generally enjoyed it, but that enjoyment was seriously compromised by a discussion that ensued when a listener who sent in a question asserted that he’d rather use a more secure OS like Ubuntu.  Hosts Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson concluded that all OSes are basically equally vulnerable, that everyone thought OS X was really secure until it became more targeted, and that Linux is currently more secure only because it is targeted so infrequently.

Now, I’m certainly not about to start holding Ubuntu up as some sort of paragon of security, but pretty much any Linux distro is inherently more secure than either Windows or OS X, and you’d expect a couple of old hands like Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson to understand that. Apparently my confidence is misplaced, because at no point did either of them mention any of the security benefits that come from open source development.

Open source software is, in general, developed more cleanly with fewer bugs and vulnerabilities, and what vulnerabilities do exist are discovered and patched more quickly than proprietary software. That is a security benefit that is inherent to that development model. Yes, all operating systems have “porous surfaces” as Steve points out, but neither Windows nor OS X have the sort of turnaround time for patches to those surfaces that we see in OSS, and so long as they remain closed they never will. That this didn’t occur to Leo or Steve, or that it occurred to them but they didn’t feel it worth mentioning, really bugs the shit out of me.

Additionally, nobody in their right mind ever, ever, ever thought that OS X was especially secure. It was widely understood that the primary benefit of using OS X from a security standpoint was that it wasn’t targeted, and that as soon as the platform became more popular that would change pretty quickly. In fact, I can remember complaints about patch turnaround on OS as early as 2002, just a year or so after release.

So, anyone want to recommend a new security podcast? I suspect that I could still enjoy listening to Security Now, but I very much doubt I’ll be able to trust any of the information I get from it at this point.

This shit really makes my brain hurt sometimes

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Apologies for talking about gun issues so much lately. A while back I decided I was going to spend more time on this blog talking about tech, and given my occupation (officially “computer scientist”) you’d think that’d be relatively easy. But as I may have mentioned once or twice before, I’m really only ever moved to write when I’m furiously pissed about something. Nine times out of ten, that’s politics. This isn’t to say that I’m not going to write about tech anymore, but I gotta do what I gotta do to make the voices stop, you know?

So what’s making my dome-piece throb this morning? I decided to give myself a quick refresher on Supreme Court decisions regarding the 2nd amendment (I know, I know, I’m sorry). I was reading a summary of DC. vs Heller (the 2008 decision that overturned DC’s handgun ban), and eventually I got to the part with the majority opinion and dissent. The majority were all the conservative justices, the dissent all the liberals. No real surprise, but it sort of embodied the perpetual political argument going on in my brain.

I don’t want to sound too angsty here, but I don’t really have a political home anymore. There is no question in my mind that homosexuals should have all the same rights as heterosexuals, and that people who are opposed to same-sex marriage can’t make an argument against it that doesn’t eventually reduce to “buttsex is icky, and I don’t like it.” There is no question in my mind that we need to curtail carbon emissions, because even if you have some doubts about climate change there is no refuting the increasing acidity of the oceans, which could be just as catastrophic for life on Earth. And there is no question in my mind that I have a right as an individual to own and carry whatever weapon I can reasonably justify for my defense, and people who believe otherwise place an inordinate amount of trust in a society and social contract that are far, far more brittle than they realize.

This is pretty much the textbook definition of cognitive dissonance, and some days it really makes my head hurt.