Category: Politics

Fingerprints, Security, and the Law

In October of 2013, I wrote a post titled, Device Security: Fingerprints vs Passwords. That post was published about a month after Apple released the iPhone 5S, the first device with Touch ID.

In the post I argued that the choice between password and fingerprint was about optimizing for a particular type of data thief.

On the subject of the police, I stated, “It takes a massive amount of legal proceedings for the police to compel a person to turn over their password.” When it came to fingerprints I argued, “The police can compel you to turn over your fingerprints. There isn’t enough legal precedent to ensure protection from the authorities.

Since publishing this, I have on more than a few occasions been accused of wearing a tin foil hat.

Well my friends, the police are in fact compelling US citizens to use their fingerprints to unlock their phones in cases where they would not be allowed to compel a person to turn over their passwords.

In this particular instance, it sucks to be correct.

If we don’t defend our civil liberties, then the freedoms that make this country worth defending will wither away.

The Geek Whisperer’s 2015 Tech Predictions

I’ve been at this for a long time, this is the first time I’m taking a stab at industry predictions. Let’s see how I do in 12 months.

Security Breaches Everywhere

Information security is going to continue to grow as both a problem, and a political issue.

There will be more point-of-sale breaches at major retailers and large-scale corporate leaks like Sony (they will largely be inside jobs).

This will continue because companies won’t:

  • update their systems
  • implement proper password standards and management
  • hire and empower skilled information security specialists

Security Politicization

All of the breaches are going to grow into larger political issues as legislators try to regulate security.

The proposed laws will be terrible.

Most of our leaders will try their hardest to avoid discussing the fact that the Department of Justice has been actively working to hobble corporate and individual information security for years.

Apple Watch

At launch, there will be a mix of sneering and praise for the Apple Watch, but it will be a runaway success. Their stock price will drop initially.

Why will it be a success?

  • Because Apple
  • Minimally functional wrist-based wearables have already caught-on
  • We use our phones too much, and don’t want to take them out all of the time
  • It’s even more difficult to get your phone in and out of tight pants (watch people when you’re out; this is actually something people struggle with)

User Interfaces Go Vertical

The Apple Watch is going to bring new web and app design trends with it.

I’m in the middle of designing my first Apple Watch app, and I have discovered that because of the “crown,” everything shifts to a vertical interface. I suspect that many iPhone apps will shift to a more vertical experience to create similarities between their iPhone and Apple Watch apps. This will find its way into web design as well.

Apple Watch Theft

(This is the last Apple-related prediction)

Apple Watch theft is going to be a really big thing; especially in the warm months when crime rises and people aren’t covering their wrists with sleeves.

Even if Apple comes up with a very clever theft deterrence system, stolen Apple Watch bands will fetch good money.

"That Milanese Loop will look so great on me... Give it to me or I'll cut you!"
“That Milanese Loop will look so great on me… Give it to me or I’ll cut you!”

Net Neutrality = Giant Mess

The FCC will try to split the proverbial baby on net neutrality, and it’s going to be a mess.

I predict lawsuits from both sides of the issue. No one will be happy, and the ISPs will continue to suck… But lawyers and lobbyists will make money, and that’s all that really matters isn’t it?

Innovations Mobile Gaming

Mobile video games are going to get better, and more interesting.

The comparatively low cost of iOS and Android development vs console gaming, as well as the ubiquity of iOS and Android devices will spur a renascence in mobile video games. We’re going to see more of the quirky, interesting, and unusual indie games that have been priced out of the console market, or lost in the ether.

HTTPS Everywhere(ish)

2015 will be year that one of the browsers will label unencrypted websites as insecure. Many website owners will finally make the leap to HTTPS for everything.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be far better than the current situation.

Backend / Frontend Decoupling

There aren’t many content management systems that are great on both the back and front end.

While not a new concept, more websites will be built with a decoupled front and backend. Look for lots of Drupal backend, and AngularJS frontend sites. The web will be better for it.

API All the Things!

APIs are going to continue to become a necessary business tool for both internal and external purposes.

The non-profit and government worlds will need them to open up and share data.

Companies will want them to power their growing array of external websites and applications.

Really smart organizations will find that internal APIs for cross-department data sharing are more important than an intranet.

[Image via Apple]

Slowing Down to for Net Neutrality (Preventing Cable Company Fuckery)

My site isn’t broken. I’m protesting.

I’ve waited a long time to write about this. Years. I’ve been waiting for the moment when the knowledge is actionable. That time is now.

Tomorrow, September 10, 2014 is the day that that users of the Internet will protest the telecommunications lobby’s attempt to break the Internet for profit.

Explaining the Problem

I had planned to write a whole lot on the subject, but no one put it better (or funnier or more entertainingly) than John Oliver:

Why This Matters

Our economy is intimately tied to the Internet. Short of a worldwide cataclysm, there’s no going back. Over time we’re going to need faster, more reliable Internet. All of us. Not just the big companies who can afford to pay massive sums of money to telecom companies in return for high-performance connections.

The beauty of the Internet is that anyone can make something, and anyone in the world can use it. You don’t need permission. You don’t need a lot of money. You just need some willpower and skill.

If the telecom companies win, the only services that will be fast enough to make users happy are the ones owned by gigantic companies. Killing net neutrality would seem like a big hit to companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Netflix… But it would actually strengthen their hold on the market because they can afford to pay the telecom companies for high performance. Their upstart competitors won’t have the cash. Killing net neutrality would put a moat around the Internet giants that would further strengthen them at the price of innovation among small businesses.

Battle for the internet

Join the Battle for the Internet

If net neutrality is killed, the ramifications will be very difficult to undo. Please find it in yourself to take action. This is about fighting for the future of freedom and the economy.

Philanthropy, Money, and Buckets of Ice

I want to just clear something up now and for the future.


There are causes that I care a great deal about. I am knowledgeable about them. I advocate for them. I give what I can to them. I don’t make a lot of noise about it (unless I’m actively advocating about an issue).

I don’t make philanthropic decisions based on challenges or social pressure. I’m not judging if those things drive you, but they don’t do it for me. To know me well is to know that I am self-motivated, and do not care about social pressure.

I didn’t make an effort to conform to social pressure back when I was a kid, I sure as hell don’t plan to as an adult.


I give my money where I give it. Sometimes to groups, usually to individuals who are going through ugliness.

I like to give as much as I can to only one or two causes at a time so that I can give an amount that actually matters.

To whom I donate is between the recipient, myself, and the IRS.

Buckets of Ice

I’m not saying that the Ice Bucket Challenge is bad or that ALS is unworthy of donation. I’m saying that this phenomenon that we’re seeing is another Livestrong bracelets. It’s trendy. Livestrong bracelets were less about the cause, than they were about not having to explain to your friends why you didn’t wear one. Then the proliferation came… A bracelet in every color for every cause.

When Ice Bucket Challenge variants emerge (and they will), I will be just as uninterested in them; even if it’s for a cause I contribute to.

I don’t want or need social validation coupled with my good deeds. 

The Bottom-line

Whatever makes you donate money and time is fine by me. Just please don’t badger me.

If the Ice Bucket Challenge made you feel good, I suggest finding something you’re passionate about and doing what you can for that cause. It’s quite fulfilling.