Monthly Archives: March 2012

There has been a recent spate of articles about lost smartphones. ArsTechnica talks about what you could lose if you lost your smartphone. BoingBoing talks about that and also about ways to protect yourself:

–Always protect your phone with a password or a “draw to unlock” pattern.

–Use security software designed specifically for smartphones to lock up programs on your phone. Some of these programs can be used to help locate the phone, or to wipe its memory from remote locations.

–Don’t lose your cell phone. This falls under the category of “Well, duh.” Nobody loses a smartphone on purpose, obviously. But try to make sure you keep it in you pocket or purse when not in use.

–Companies that issue phones to their employees should make sure to train workers on security, and should secure every phone with passwords.

The last time I lost a smartphone, it was at a movie theater. It had fallen out of my holster (an usher found it and I got it back). Because of that, and a few instances of it jumping out of the holster as I ran, I stopped using that particular holster with that particular phone. That, more or less, sums up my idea of “security.” Wiping a phone from a remote location might become an option, if more sensitive information ends up on my phone. But those locks are a pain in the posterior. Also, as someone points out, how is someone supposed to return the phone to you (if they are so inclined) if they don’t have any information? Well, you can incessantly call the phone, but it actually makes me wonder why contact information isn’t left on the Lock screen. Can anyone think of a reason not to do this? Also, in case of an emergency, where you are not conscious, people can use your phone to contact an ICE number.

These are the rationalizations I use to avoided the dreaded lock screen.

I did want to address something written a while ago at Forbes and that I have seen written over and over again elsewhere. The question of why we don’t expect cell phone carriers to help find lost phones, even though they could:

In short, Nevius notes that carriers in some other places – Australia, for instance – maintain a joint database of mobile phone serial numbers. When a number is reported stolen, the phone is rendered inoperative. That’s not what the U.S. carriers do. They focus on remote wiping, and making SIM cards invalid. But Nevius notes that thieves can simply replace the bad SIM cards with new ones. And he points out that when phones are stolen, carriers benefit as consumer buy replacement phones.

The piece opens with the words “prepare to get angry,” but my anger (to the extent that I have any) is actually directed at the author and people saying what the author is saying. We do not want to make cell phone carriers to do this. While it might be nice if they did… once we place this burden on them (whether by statute or expectation) we are giving them the justification they need to do bad things. Do you know what’s cheaper than helping someone find their lost phone? Refusing to activate phones that they don’t sell you. AT&T and T-Mobile, to their credit, will activate any phone. Verizon and Sprint, however, do not. Even phones that would work on their network. They will only let you activate a phone that they improve. They publicly talk of it as quality assurance, but it’s also a good way to force people to buy phones. Well, with this, we could force us to buy phones from them. The secondary cell phone market allows people to buy cheap phones without signing on to a burdensome contract. Is there any doubt that at least some of the companies would love an excuse to do away with it entirely?

Granted, you could pass a regulation that forces carriers to find lost phones and forbids them from refusing to activate phones that they didn’t sell you, but that might require an act of congress. And if it doesn’t, the fact that nobody who is harping on the carriers has even mentioned the possibility of the above paragraph suggests to me that they are thinking too narrowly and wouldn’t think such a regulation through, throwing the carriers into a briar patch.

Category: Market

Five so-called health foods to avoid. I was happy to see Sun Chips get a waiver. There actually wasn’t anything on the list that I consume on the basis of it being healthy. I eat reduced-fat cheese and tons of high-fiber stuff. The latter helps. Not sure about the former, but the main reason I eat it is because it doesn’t taste as good and therefore I eat less of it.

Katherine Mangu-Ward on why all government anti-obesity efforts seem to fail.

Windows 8 is apparently confusing. I’ve just finally gotten used to Windows 7 to the point that I have no preference between Win7 and WinXP (though, dag nabbit, I want my versitile Quicklaunch Bar back!).

Aldous Huxley though his dystopian future was more credible than George Orwell’s dystopian future. I actually listened through 1984 a couple weeks back. I need to see if I can get Brave New World.

Matthew Yglesias defends the Sun Belt. Namely, its desire to expand. The oft-derided sprawl helps keep down the costs-of-living. This is not looked at nearly enough. Lowering the cost of living is almost as good as raising wages.

Most finders of lost smartphones are snoops. Wouldn’t you be?

California has an unbelievably good higher education system. Would that they made it more accessible, both in terms of grades and in terms of cost.

The North Dakota Fighting For The Sioux Name saga continues

Category: Newsroom

There’s a Mormon running for president… of Mali. (via Abel)

Alan Jacobs discusses the benefits of the traditional publishing route. David Ryan goes a step further and declares self-publishing dead.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is right: TSA officials have no business wearing badges unless they have actually gone through actual law enforcement training. Security guards wear badges they didn’t earn quite that way, but it’s different when we’re talking about actual government officials. (And honestly, if your job is to observe-and-report, I don’t think you should get a shiny badge, either.)

The Great Scout Divide.

New Army guidelines are making it tougher for NCO’s to re-enlist. It wasn’t that long ago when we had to take measures to prevent them from leaving.

Piracy marches ever-forward. The Pirate Bay has found a way to host a searching mechanism and provide (a) some legal distance for themselves and (b) some anonymity for users. Meanwhile, the powers-that-be behind BitTorrent (who knew that such a thing would have PTB?) are changing formats for their videos, and their customers aren’t happy about it. Out of curiosity, I compared them side-to-side and determined that the new video is noticeably better even while being smaller. However, the new standard doesn’t play on my phone.

Via Web, an article about actors that are hired to call-in to radio shows and help create content.

A look at urbanization and the absence of middle class in China. Also, China is building a city to be four times the size of New York.

Category: Newsroom

Nokia is releasing new Windows Phone and Symbian models. Symbian? Really? I didn’t know Symbian commanded any loyalty (says the WinMo loyalist). On the other hand, Symbian already has a video player that does what I want video players to do, and isn’t going away like WinMo (apparently). Hmmm.

I commented a couple times recently that the music industry has done everything it could to delivery products that reduce piracy, but they don’t seem to have worked. Well, maybe it did.

The Saudis are tiring of speed cameras. Really? This is where they draw the line?

Somoa apparently skipped December 30th of last year. If dates and time zones are fluid, what are the implications for time itself?

Via Dr. Phi, a vet was mistakenly declared AWOL and jailed. This was not cleared up as easily as one might hope.

Assessing the Real and Perceived Consequences of Shale Gas Development.

“Households with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to coupon as those who earn less than $35,000. College-degree holders are also twice as likely to use coupons as those who did not graduate from high school. ”

China is outsourcing to Europe.

Category: Newsroom

I’ve commented before that in high school, I typically often lunch alone. It was a combination of back luck (always seeming to have a different lunch period from all of my friends) and an inability to “put myself out there” and find people to eat with. There were some respites from this isolation, however.

I can’t remember how Clint and I ended up eating with Sonja and Grace. I think it was the semester that we had previously been eating with Myron – a lunch companion we felt a strong need to get away from. Yet even that doesn’t make sense. I have multiple memories of the same thing. But somehow, we ended up just eating by ourselves within proximity to Sonja and Grace, who were also eating by themselves. And eventually our pairs merged and the four of us ate and chatted together for a time.

This was a-okay by us because both Clint and I had independently noticed – and discussed – Grace. She was rather cute, if you noticed her, but she had the sort of face that almost seemed designed to be inconspicuous. She wasn’t overweight, but didn’t have much of a chest. A little tall, pale-skinned, but not a thing objectionable about her. She dressed in a peculiar manner partially designed to get attention, but we never got the impression that she really succeeded. You had to be looking for girls like her to notice her. Clint and I did look for such girls. In lieu of girls like Sonja, who I will get to in a second, Grace was the sort of girl we felt we had a shot with and would have been really happy to couple up with. She was shy, however, and so were we, and so it was one of those things that each of us would notice, ask the other if they had noticed her, and then talk about how she was the sort of girl we would notice, be glad to couple up with, and might even have a shot with.

So it seemed fortuitous when we ended up lunching with her. The only problem was, we were also lunching with Sonja. I’d had a couple of classes with Sonja, but hadn’t thought all that much of her. Except that her matter-of-fact, earth-shattering beauty was not coupled with any sort of self-elevation, snobbery, or, for that matter, popularity. She was, after all, eating alone with the invisible Grace. But she was Hollywood star beautiful. If you’d asked me to name the 20 most beautiful girls at our huge high school, she would have probably made the list before we started lunching with her. To put a fine point on it: she wore nail polish. I didn’t care.

And this created a problem. Because as awesome as Grace was – with her unassuming looks combined with outstanding style of dress – she was standing next to a girl that was virtually a model. A gregarious, personally pleasant, intelligent, single model. We both agreed that Grace was much more up our alley (and that, in addition to being quite cute, was also pleasant once you got her talking). Whenever Clint and I had a group of two-and-two, we had the tendency to want to partner up. Not that we had delusions of romantic stuff, but just a pairing. This itself created problems because we’d always hone in on the same person. The Grace, typically. But the Grace was usually next to a girl that was fat, or unpleasant, or pretty but with a bad personality. Here, she was sitting next to Grace.

And so the Invisible Girl that Clint and I had noticed was, in a near-perfect situation, invisible to us again. She made it easy, because she so rarely talked. But it’s one of the things I look back on with a certain perplexity. It’s also one of the things I look back on as evidence that no, I am not too terribly different from most guys. I fall under the spell of the conventionally beautiful – under at least some circumstances – just like the rest.

It’s also one of those things that outlines the positional nature of the relationship market. Partially because Grace’s presence was amplified or muted by who she was sitting next to. Partially, though, because even though Clint and I never denied that Grace was as cool as she was by our own typical standards, we both wanted to be associated with the more desirable person. Even if we had no chance of romance with her, we’d forgo what might have been a legitimate chance with Grace just for the chance to be more publicly associated* with the likes of Sonja.

Just as I don’t remember how the situation came to be, I don’t remember how it broke up, either. It was, for its time, a wonderful pocket of existence. I’d lament that I never got more opportunities like that, except for the fact that we sort of blew it.

Category: Ghostland, School

The Obama Administration gives its blessing to a partial Keystone pipeline. This strikes me as cutting the baby in half. Getting oil from Canada was a big part of the point of the whole exercise.

Animal rights group have a drone! Or, they had one, but it was shot down.

Maryland is contemplating requiring child support for adult college students.

The Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire. I love articles like these.

Derek Thompson wonders what the recession is doing to Millenials. Truth be told, these were already trends. The recession isn’t helping, of course.

Gabriel Rossman talks IP and piracy, making what I believe is the oft-overlooked distinction between music and film.

Mobiputing has the 13 great video players for Android. This is why I am likely to end up with Android. Eventually, one of them will get it right. I was set to try all of them when I got home, but my Android phone appears to have died.

Australia is taking another look at the dingo baby case.

Category: Newsroom