Tag Archives: contracts

Why Bowman sold out to Topps, or how Topps bought Bowman

Virtually every schoolboy who is interested in baseball cards knows the story of how Topps bought Bowman. After World War II, Bowman was the leading brand of baseball card, or, at least from 1948 until 1951. Then, in 1952, Topps released its landmark 1952 set. Bowman and Topps battled for baseball fans’ nickels and pennies until 1955. Then, in early 1956, Topps bought Bowman, and that was the end of Bowman until the late 1980s, when Topps dusted off the brand name and started issuing Bowman cards again. And Topps faced precious little competition in the baseball card field until 1981, when Fleer and Donruss won the right to produce cards.

That’s the story as I knew it. But there’s a lot more to the story, starting with the details of the purchase. In January 1956, Topps bought its once mighty rival for a mere $200,000. Normally a company sells for 10 times its annual revenue, and Bowman had sold $600,000 worth of baseball cards alone just two years before. The purchase price makes no sense, until you dig a bit deeper.

Continue reading Why Bowman sold out to Topps, or how Topps bought Bowman

Anthem, HIPAA, and encryption

Late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Anthem wasn’t encrypting the database containing tens of millions of health records that were stolen by sophisticated hackers.

There are numerous problems with that story, the first being that we don’t know yet whether the data was encrypted. There are other unconfirmed reports that say the attackers used a stolen username and password to get at the data, which, if that’s true, likely would have allowed them to decrypt the data anyway.

Still, I’m seeing calls now for the government to revise HIPAA to require encryption, rather than merely encourage it. And of course there are good and bad things about that as well.

Continue reading Anthem, HIPAA, and encryption

KSDK-TV was wrong to test Kirkwood High School’s security

Last week on Jan. 16, KSDK-TV caused Kirkwood High School to go on lockdown as part of a news story.

As a security professional, a journalist, a St. Louisan, and a parent, I have more than one stake in this. And an opinion. KSDK has no leg to stand on. Continue reading KSDK-TV was wrong to test Kirkwood High School’s security

Saving money on a smartphone

I bit the bullet last week, and added a second smartphone to what’s now our family plan. I didn’t buy a new phone though. Instead, I bought a used Samsung Galaxy S 4G off Amazon (the Canadian version, which was an accident) for $100. Since we now own both phones outright, that lets us run the phones month to month, with no contracts and no penalties. They bill us every month and we use it, but I can walk into any T-Mobile store and cancel one or both phones at any time.

Chances are there’s a reactivation fee if I do that and decide to reactivate later on, but that’s cheaper than getting out of a contract.

Now, as for the Galaxy S 4G… It’s a well-built phone from about 2010. It’s on the old side, but works pretty well. I loaded a custom ROM on it and I’m very happy with it now.

Continue reading Saving money on a smartphone

How Ives-branded track clips ended up in Lionel sets

Ives-branded track clips for Lionel O27 track are relatively common, and although they are often mistaken for pre-1933 items, they were actually manufactured for several decades after the Ives brand name disappeared from the marketplace, and by Lionel, not its erstwhile rival Ives.

The reason was for trademark protection.

Continue reading How Ives-branded track clips ended up in Lionel sets

Don’t be too impressed with Snowden’s “ethical hacking training”

I saw this new headline regarding Edward Snowden, discussing his NSA hacking training. Don’t be impressed.

For several years, I lived in that same world Snowden lived in. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid mentioning this, but from 2005-2012, I was a consultant. I worked for several different companies, due to contracts changing hands and companies merging, but my client was the United States Air Force. And from 2011-2012, I even had direct dealings with the NSA. I attended NSA meetings in the Washington, D.C. area. I received NSA training–in person–in a security discipline called threat modeling. My job was to represent NSA to the Air Force three weeks out of the month, and represent the Air Force to the NSA on the fourth week.

Just don’t ask me anything about UFOs. Unlike some people, I didn’t snoop around on classified networks. Whenever possible, didn’t look at the data at all. If I had to look at data, I preferred to look at dummy data. If I actually did look at real, honest-to-goodness classified data, it was because I needed to know that information to do my job. I was a pretty good contractor, I think.

I also know about this training that Snowden put on his resume. Continue reading Don’t be too impressed with Snowden’s “ethical hacking training”

Who are the 10 people you’d call if you were laid off tomorrow?

I found some good advice on Lifehacker today about building a professional network. Not just having 500 connections on Linkedin, but having a real professional network made up of people who help one another advance their careers.

I stumbled into this completely by accident. Continue reading Who are the 10 people you’d call if you were laid off tomorrow?

The ACLU has a point about smartphone security

The ACLU complained to the FTC that carriers aren’t patching vulnerable Android phones. They have a point.

Phones are profitable, and the carriers are trying to have it both ways. Continue reading The ACLU has a point about smartphone security

Is it better to be a consultant or an employee?

I ran into a former supervisor from many years ago at the local Home Depot this evening. We had a pleasant discussion. It reminded me of a question I asked, right around the time he and I last talked. I asked whether it’s better to be a consultant or an employee.

Here’s what I would say to my 2005 self if I could, somehow. I present it here since I know someone else must have the same question.

Continue reading Is it better to be a consultant or an employee?