Phil Kerpen, net neutrality, and socialism: A post-mortem

I learned the hard way a few weeks ago how net neutrality can be equated with socialism, an argument that puzzles people who work on computer networks for a living and see networking as a big flow of electrons. I think it’s very important that we understand how this happens.

Here’s the tactic: Find a socialist who supports net neutrality. Anoint him the leader of the movement. Bingo, anyone who supports net neutrality follows him, and therefore is a communist.

Political lobbyist and Fox News contributor Phil Kerpen told me Robert W. McChesney was the leader of the net neutrality movement, and he sent me a quote in the form of a meme longer than the Third Epistle of St. John. Yet in a Google search for the key words from that quote, “net neutrality bring down media power structure,” I can’t find him. So then I tried Bing, where I found him quoted on a web site called sodahead.com, but I couldn’t find the primary source.

For the leader of a movement the size of net neutrality, he sure keeps a low profile. Google and Netflix are two multi-billion-dollar companies that support net neutrality. I’m sure it’s news to them that they’re taking orders from Robert W. McChesney. Read more

The legend of Mt. Fuji

Twenty years ago, I was a promising young–and very unseasoned–columnist for a student newspaper at the University of Missouri–home of the Tigers–called The Maneater. Get it? Tiger? Maneater? Actually, healthy tigers never resort to eating humans, but legend has it by the time the founder learned that, the newspaper was already publishing and it was too late to change the name.

We were a ragtag bunch putting together a newspaper on a shoestring. Our computer network was quirkier than our staff, which took a great deal of doing–trust me, I’m used to being the weirdest guy in the room, and there I didn’t even stand out–but the piece of equipment that probably gives the production crew the most nightmares to this day was an old Apple Laserwriter–don’t ask me the specific model–named Mt. Fuji. Read more

How to write reviews without getting sued

In a well publicized incident that happened earlier this month, someone who wrote a bad review on Amazon about a cheap router got threatened with a lawsuit by the router’s distributor, Mediabridge. Amazon retaliated by banning the distributor from selling on Amazon. But unfortunately, this means we have to think about how to write reviews without getting sued.

By the time this happened, the review was no longer on Amazon, so all I’ve heard about the review is secondhand. Ars Technica published this guide to writing reviews without getting sued and I think it’s good advice, but of course, having written dozens, if not hundreds of reviews myself, I feel inclined to elaborate. I actually value online reviews by people who bought the product and tried to use it. I value them a lot, so I want people to write reviews, and not be afraid to do it. And since I went to school for this stuff, hopefully I can say something helpful. Read more

The publicity around security is a good thing

On one of the podcasts I listen to, two of the hosts questioned whether the publicity around recent security vulnerabilities are a good thing.

As a security professional who once studied journalism, I think it’s a very good thing, and it’s going to get better. I liken it to the rise of computer virus awareness. Read more

The Phoenix Project: A must-read book for anyone who aspires to IT leadership

After a bad day at work last week, I went home and ordered The Phoenix Project (or here it is on Amazon), started reading it, and felt better. Like Office Space, but there’s more to learn from it.

Phoenix is more realistic. Every problem every shop I’ve ever worked in is in that shop, plus some I’ve (luckily) only heard about. But unlike Office Space, it has solutions beyond burning the building down. Read more

The Asus Memo Pad HD 7 review: It’s a nice inexpensive tablet

I’ve been messing with an Asus Memopad, the 7-inch version. I think it’s a well-built, good-performing tablet for $149, and when you can get it on sale for less than that–and this is the time of year for that–I think it’s a great tablet for the money.

It’s not a high-end tablet. It has a 1280×800 screen, a quad-core 1.2 GHz Mediatek processor, a middling GPU, and 1 GB of RAM, and importantly, it includes a micro SD slot so you can add up to 32 GB of storage to it. The specs are all reasonable, but not mind-blowing. Most of the complaints I’ve seen about it are that it’s not a Nexus 7, but it’s 2/3 the price of a Nexus 7, too. When you compare it to other tablets in its price range, the worst you can say about it is that it holds its own. Read more

Young people aren’t interested in information security? I think it depends on your definitions.

I saw an assertion on Slashdot today that Millennials aren’t interested in information security, in spite of the average salary in the field being six figures. I’m not sure I agree with the article’s assertion that 24% of those polled being interested translates into disinterest, though. How many of them are interested in other white-collar professions, like medicine or accounting or law?

I also disagree with the article’s definition of information security. The article asserts that information security is working for “The Man,” namely, the government, and information security isn’t just for governments anymore. Read more

Words of wisdom from an unexpected source

I read something this past week that made me both hopeful and very sad all at once. The guy who said it is right. I won’t say his name, because in these toxic times, a person’s reputation can often get in the way of anything else they have to say.

[L]et’s model for the country something that the country desperately needs: people who have different ideas coming together, and in a civil way, discussing those differences.

That, more than anything, is what’s missing in Washington, what’s missing on Facebook, what’s missing on Main Street, and what’s missing on television, especially on the cable news stations and on Sunday morning talk shows. Read more

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