Monthly Tech Views – Sept 2017

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

September has gone in the blink of an eye, and we find ourselves fully entrenched in autumn, when, as Wordsworth so famously put it: leaves scatter haphazardly on the wind, a flaming dance in the sun, alighting randomly upon the earth to shrivel and perish, much as our credit histories across the internet after an Equifax breach.


For the month of September, 2017…

To Breach His Own
Three Equifax executives sold $1.8 million in company stock days after a security breach at the credit reporting company exposed information on 143 million consumers, but a month before the breach was made public.

The more cynical among us may suspect something shady, but without being there, who are we to say that Tuesday isn’t Pizzaburger Day in the Equifax cafeteria and Wednesday isn’t Randomly Sell Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars of Stock Day?

What The Public Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Us
In more let’s-not-be-too-hasty-informing-the-public-that-their-financial-information-is-likely-exposed-Lady-Godiva-like-to-the-world news, Equifax acquired Watchdog ID, an identification protection service, two weeks after discovering the security breach. The company did announce this acquisition, though they had yet to reveal the pressing need for such a service.

But what you need to understand is that, sure, ne’er-do-wells may be tearing your credit asunder like an exuberant puppy eviscerating those expensive down pillows you used to own (please note real life Exhibit A, courtesy of producer extraordinaire Jennie Josephson), but that doesn’t mean a company can just go around announcing something like that publicly while shopping for an ID protection service.

I mean, what if your favorite baseball team’s best hitter broke his foot playing Dance Dance Revolution 8: The Feet of the Furious–do you think they’d tell everyone before trading for another hitter? No! The team that only wanted your number three starter in exchange would suddenly be holding out for your number two guy, a minor league second baseman, and tickets to Hamilton.

So isn’t having a stranger 2,000 miles away buying Caribbean vacations and a six-pack of jet skis on your credit card worth it if it helps save a huge corporation a few bucks?

Sox Trade For Pitcher With Complete Mastery Of Fastball, Slider, And Apple Watch Series 3
Speaking of America’s national pastime (baseball, not fearing hacked major corporations, though the gap is narrowing) the Boston Red Sox were caught stealing the opposing team’s signs and relaying the information to the dugout with the help of a smartwatch.

Many fans are taking this revelation hard–not so much the affront to the sanctity of the 178-year-old institution, but the fact that sign stealing has not yet been sufficiently tabulated into one more nerdy analytic for the fantasy baseball community to obsess over.

Baby Steps
In response to the Red Sox sign stealing, area football coach and new Red Sox consultant Bill Belichick said, “That’s a start. But explain to me once again why you didn’t have the Yankee dugout and hotel rooms bugged?”

Blame It On The Mainframe
Accounting firm Deloitte announced its own security breach. The attack exposed 5 million emails and possibly usernames, passwords, IP addresses and business information. The breach was discovered in March, and while the company thinks it may have started last October, some experts are convinced Deloitte, auditor for the Grammy Awards, was hacked significantly earlier, explaining 1990 Best New Artist winner Milli Vanilli.

I’m Sorry–I Didn’t Understand Why You Were Expecting More
Apple’s High Sierra macOS arrives October 1, containing, among other features, an improved Siri, because, of course–what’s it going to do, get worse? Swear at me while not letting on what the weather will be like tomorrow in Akron? (But in case you’re interested, it will be 72 degrees and sunny in Athens).

One Step Forward
Uber plans to have its London UberX service composed solely of electric or hybrid vehicles by 2020. The company is even offering drivers up to 5,000 pounds toward upgrading their vehicles.

Uber gets a lot of grief here, so I wanted to take this opportunity to tip my cap to them for doing something positive. When the Halley’s Comet of good Uber news streaks by, you try not to miss it.

And Four Steps Back
Our new friends at Uber may want to accelerate that 2020 timetable, seeing as Transport for London has concluded that Uber is “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license” due to a) unsatisfactory reporting of criminal offenses b) obtaining medical certificates improperly c) insufficient background checks and d) the use of software to evade regulators. As such, Transport for London will not be renewing the license on September 30.

Said a Transport of London spokeswoman, “We aren’t saying that Uber’s going green initiative isn’t appreciated, just that we all have kids who loudly announce they are really going to buckle down and do their chores, two days before Christmas.”

Walmart—Rolling Back Prices… And Your Inclination To Whine About Grocery Shopping
Walmart is partnering with smartlock maker August to test a service that would have groceries not just delivered to your home, but put away inside your home.

You just give the delivery person a one-time code to unlock your door and have access to your house, and you save all kinds of time that can be used to figure out a way to ditch the budget meeting at work and hover over your computer watching like a No-Doz-feuled hawk the intricate network of webcams you installed to make sure the delivery person doesn’t step on the cat or drink your beer or eat a two-fingered scoop of peanut butter or spit in your milk or pick their nose before putting your apples in the fridge.

Oh, SnapTM
Snapchat’s 3D Bitmoji World Lenses lets you put a 3D cartoon version of yourself into real world scenes. “Wait, you haven’t been doing that all along?” asked all of my “friends.”

Forget The Cost, I’m Not Altering My Whole Nose-Wiping Routine
Levi’s Project Jacquard smart jacket went on sale for $350. It has capacitive threads woven into the sleeve, making it touch sensitive and able to communicate via bluetooth with your phone.

This allows you, for example, to control your music by swiping right or left on the sleeve. Sure, $350 may sound pricey for a denim jacket, but just think how much easier it will be during your long daily commute, standing in the aisle of a crowded bus, being constantly jostled by your fellow passengers, to hear the first three seconds of every song on your device.

Kool-Aid Stock Jumps 200%
Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who is currently unemployed after being accused of stealing self-driving-car trade secrets from the company, is using his down time to establish Way of the Future, a nonprofit religious corporation with the mission “to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”

Like me, I’m sure one question immediately comes to mind: are tickets on sale yet for the Way of the Future vs Scientology softball game next summer? Because I am going to FILL my celebrity autograph book!

Good Point
There was a rumor that Discover Card’s website revealed the names of the iPhone 8, 8+, and X before Apple officially unveiled them at their event. Said a Discover spokesman, “Well, we aren’t called Don’t Find Anything Out Card.”


That’s it for September. Welcome to October (and maybe pay for your pumpkins and cider with some breach-proof cash).

(Should you feel the urge:

Mike Range

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Monthly Tech Views by Mike Range is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.