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
This is a few days old now but needs to be addressed–a lot of people were planning on staying on Windows 7 because they don’t like Windows 10’s new privacy settings, but unless you uninstall some stealthy updates, Windows 7 spies on you too.
Microsoft used to call this “scroogling,” and launched a massive PR campaign against Google, but now they’re doing exactly the things they blasted Google for doing, only they’re collecting money to do it.
So basically Microsoft is trying to have it both ways now–charge for the OS, but treat the consumer as a product. Windows 7, of course, was a paid upgrade, and Windows 10 is only free under special circumstances–businesses and OEMs still pay for it.
To make Windows 7 and 8 stop scroogling you, uninstall KB3068708, KB3075249, and KB3080149, all of which have the word “telemetry” in their description.
So, if you haven’t heard by now, last year Lenovo experimented with preloading its cheapest laptops with spyware that subverts HTTPS, allowing a third party to inject ads on any web page, and providing a convenient place for an attacker to hide behind while messing with your secure transactions.
By the end of the day yesterday, Lenovo had apologized, sort of, and after several sites had provided removal instructions, Lenovo provided its own. After spending much of the day downplaying the security concerns, by the end of the day they were at least reluctantly acknowledging them.
This was really bad, and I’ll explain why in a second, and I’ll also try to explain why Lenovo did it.
Continue reading Lenovo’s preinstalled Superfish spyware: A post-mortem
I was listening to podcasts about the Home Depot breach, and something occurred to me.
Home Depot isn’t talking much about the breach. And it’s driving security pros nuts.
But the general public takes silence as a sign that everything’s going great. So their silence is winning the PR battle in the court that matters, which is public opinion at large. Continue reading Home Depot: A security pro’s dilemma
OK, so Target is back in the news, and it’s nowhere nearly as bad this time but there’s some posturing and some fluff in the news, so I’ll take it upon myself to demystify some of it. Some of it’s PR fluff, and some of it’s highly technical, so I’ll cut through it.
I’m just glad–I guess–to be talking about this stuff outside of a job interview. Like I said, this time the news isn’t nearly as bad as it could be. Continue reading Cutting through the fluff around the Target PIN breach
Last week, Microsoft announced it’s offering a bug bounty program. Find a working exploit in Windows 8.1/blue/whatever it’s called this week, and Microsoft will hand over $100,000. Find a mitigation for that exploit, and Microsoft will pony up for that to, up to $50,000.
I think I know what they’re up to. Continue reading Microsoft’s bug bounty is a step in the right direction
The Kansas City Royals didn’t exactly fire Frank White this week. They just dumped him like last week’s garbage.
And that’s a completely classless act, given Frank White’s history with the franchise. Frank White literally helped build Royals Stadium–now Kauffman Stadium. He worked on the stadium construction crew as a teenager. He went to the Royals baseball academy, worked through the Royals’ minor league system in three years, then played 17 years for the Royals at second base, winning 8 gold gloves, appearing in five All-Star games, and hitting cleanup in the 1985 World Series. He did everything the team ever asked of him, and he did it well. After his playing days were done, he came back to the Royals in 1997, where he’s done various jobs but has rarely been appreciated.
Continue reading What do you have against Frank White, Mr. Glass?
It appears that Michael Arrington, the founder of the influential blog Techcrunch, resigned under pressure of AOL, Techcrunch’s current owner. There’s been a big uproar over this, but it all boils down to a conflict of interest. AOL really didn’t have any choice.
The problem is that Arrington decided to found a venture capital fund that was going to invest in some of the things Techcrunch covers. You can’t do that.
Continue reading Go find a hole to crawl into, Techcrunch. And stay there.
Insulin pumps marketed by Minneapolis-based Medtronic have a serious, life-threatening security flaw, and the company couldn’t care less.
For these two reasons, this isn’t your typical security flaw, and Medtronic’s response–in 30 years, we’ve ever seen a problem that we know of–is beyond deplorable. Ford’s infamous decision to pay lawsuits rather than fix a deadly flaw in the Pinto comes to mind.
Continue reading Shame on you, Medtronic
So what are Google and Apple doing with this location data? And Microsoft, now that it’s clear they’re gathering it too (but they claim they aren’t storing it anywhere on the phone).
They aren’t saying a lot, but they’ve said enough to take a pretty good guess. And no, I don’t think the intent is to be evil.
Continue reading So why are Apple and Google (and Microsoft) tracking us?